The Triathlon Lifestyle – Here’s what it means to me!
Brian from NewToTri so kindly asked me to do a guest blog post about how Triathlon influences my life!
Triathlon has been the key to me having success in all areas of my life since college. When I graduated college from DePauw University in 2007, I was kind of lost sports wise. I had played college soccer for DePauw for 4 years, and the girls on the team were a huge part of my life. My three best friends were on the team, and the men’s and women’s teams were close, so we did a lot of socializing together. I knew after the fall season of my senior year came to a close I needed to start focusing on something else, that was still competitive but also fun.
I decided to train for a marathon during the spring semester of my senior year. Maybe not the smartest decision, as there were a lot of “hungover” run days, but it kept me motivated and fit. The St. Louis marathon was my first ever race. I had never even done a 5k. I was nervous and excited at the same time, and as soon as I crossed the finish line, I became addicted to racing. In college, I caught the coverage of the Ironman Championships in Hawaii, and I said to myself, “One day I’m going to do that.” After finishing the marathon, I continued to do more marathons with success, and finally moved on to triathlon. It took some time mostly because I had to get a bike, a wetsuit, and well financially I had to figure it all out, especially since I was still new to the “real world”.
So, after two years of living in the city, I entered the world of triathlon. The triathlon world was more than welcoming, they were inspiring, helpful, motivating, supportive, and the list could go on. I found a group that I felt I could be myself around. They didn’t laugh when I said I like to wake up early, or that I enjoy running, biking, swimming, and pushing it until I can’t push any harder. They didn’t make fun of me when I said, “I like pain”. Seriously, I think all triathletes to some extent enjoy pain, because training and competing can be painful. No, instead I found people like me! The transition I made from college where I was the crazy partier, who may have been a bit of a “beer bully”, who loved playing beer pong and power hour, yet also worked hard on the soccer field. When I graduated college, I knew I had lived it up, and now I wanted to be as fit as possible and live a really healthy life. I gave up partying, and well my friends saw me do a 180, and when my friends weren’t interested in going for a long run, or a long bike, or doing some open water swimming, I was sad and nervous that I was going to be doing this all alone. I still love my friends from college, but I became interested in other things that didn’t interest them, and vice versa, and I couldn’t expect them to do what I wanted to do, or expect them to think that training for triathlons is fun. They have always been supportive of my goals, but that didn’t mean they were their goals too. So, I was elated to find my niche of triathlon friends!
Twitter became my friend base. That is kind of nerdy to say, but it’s true! There were triathlon lovers everywhere! People were meeting up for bike rides and then lunch, or open water swims, or runs, there was just sheer inspiration everywhere I read a tweet! It was so exciting. I had a whole new group of friends who had the same interest as me. I quickly met people that became good friends, and I’m still making new friends.
One of the coolest parts of triathlon is it’s competitive, yet supportive. If you get passed on the run, that person will say something motivating to keep you going, or if you are the one passing, you are doing the cheering. If you get a flat tire and don’t have a CO2 cartridge to pump up your new tube, someone might toss you one, or if you don’t know how to change a new tube, someone might just stop and actually help you change your flat. I can’t explain how it felt during my first race, to have all these people that were racing with me, also cheering me on. Triathlon is my second family. I also love how no matter if you are a pro or an age grouper, everyone goes through the same miles, the same course, and the same doubts and triumphs. I love how pro’s and age groupers both get chaffing and blisters, and both have to use the port-o-potties before a race, and that everyone is setting up their bikes in the same transition area. Whether you are the fastest person out on the course or the slowest, everyone is cheering everyone on. There is nothing more inspiring than being a part of triathlon.
Triathlon challenges me, but also builds my confidence both in the sport and out of the sport. And of course, triathlon helps me stay fit! I love pushing my body’s limits, and seeing what I am capable of mentally too.
As I’m sure most people who are entering the world of triathlon are, I was a bit nervous, and of course slightly intimidated especially by the people who knew what they were doing. In order to prepare myself for what a triathlon entails, I did the following:
- Asked questions on twitter
- Joined a local tri club – this was great because they offered free clinics for me to go and learn about anything and everything that I wanted to learn about triathlons
- The clinics I went to were – open water swimming clinic, transition clinic, bike maintenance clinic, and a swim clinic
- Do some group classes
- I did some group runs, group computrainer classes, and group swims.
- I joined a master’s swim team – I tried out two different ones, both had positive and negative aspects, but both helped me get more confident in the water
- Found a mentor – a teammate of mine from college is big in to triathlon’s and I reached out to her for guidance
- Found a buddy to do my first triathlon with i.e my mom (it was her first triathlon too!).
The one thing in the triathlon world is that everyone has their favorite brands, and I think the biggest thing is to find out what works for you. All the products out there are awesome! So, don’t worry about brand and find the best pair of goggles that work for you, or the best bike, or the best running shoes, or the best nutrition. Everyone’s body is different and it takes awhile to figure out what works best for you, but take your time, try different brands and products, and when you find one that works, you’ll know:)
Good luck this race season! And don’t hesitate to shoot me an email or check out my blog! Katie.firstname.lastname@example.org or triingforpro.wordpress.com. Also, I offer online fitness classes at www.the-regimen.com , so if you are looking for a great strength program that focuses on the core check it out!