Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Everyone has to start somewhere

I was asked the following question by a reader of one of my newspaper columns: 

Q: “How did you get into triathlons? Were you and your husband both into triathlons when you met?”  

A: My husband, a competitive swimmer since high school, and I met in college, about five years before we did our first triathlon.  

4.4-mile Great Chesapeake Bay Swim

A year after we were married, my husband joined a masters swim team and trained for the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim, finishing second on his first attempt. So, when he decided to swim the bay again the following year I figured I’d give it a try too. The sum total of my swimming experience to that point, however, included basic lessons when I was five-year-old, during which I managed to keep the top of my head dry the entire time, and a little freestyle and sidestroke as required to pass a lifeguard training course. But I managed to make it across the bay and my husband won that year, so it was an awesome day for both of us!

Dewey Beach played host to my first-ever triatlon,
which has indeed become a way of life!

Ultimately, it was our involvement with the masters swim team that led us to the sport of triathlon.
Some of our friends on the masters team were headed to Delaware to participate in the Dewey Beach Sprint Triathlon and they invited us to join them. Thinking it would be a fun weekend at the beach, we agreed to go. Little did I know how much the experience I gained training for the bay swim would pay off as I battled the rolling surf and the ebb and flow of the tide during the half-mile open water swim in the ocean.  After the swim, it was on to fifteen miles of windswept coastal roads, which we tackled on our mountain bikes, followed by a 5K run. I wouldn’t say we were hooked, but it was so much fun we made the trek back to Dewey two more times after that.

My first of three daughters.
A whole new kind of triathlon was about to begin!

And then our first daughter was born. Within four years we had three children under the age of five and every day was a triathlon. The revolving door of eat, sleep, wake, and bottles, bibs, diapers, left no room for swim, bike, run.

One of my favorite & most-valued baby necessities

By the time the youngest turned two I was running again, my daughter and her jogging stroller my constant companions. We hired a babysitter once a week so we could ride our bikes and, on weekends, took turns swimming laps at the community pool. That was six years ago and we’ve been competing in triathlons ever since. 

At the Hagerstown Youth Triathlon

What started out nearly fifteen years ago as a fun weekend at the beach has become a passion that the whole family enjoys as all three of our daughters now regularly participate in youth triathlons. My husband and I continue to challenge ourselves and explore our limits within the sport, always striving to see how fast and how far we can go, our races ranging from local sprint-distance events to Ironman triathlons in far-flung locations. 

For anyone looking to get into multi-sport, a duathlon or sprint-distance triathlon, particularly one with a pool swim, is the best way to start. But, be warned, it's addictive! 

The feeling is addictive! 

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