My First Open-water Triathlon 

Today’s writing challenge:

June 26, 2016. Marathons are being held today in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii; Santa Cruz, California; Lubec, Maine; and Arlington, Virginia. The race in Arlington is indoors. 

I’m not doing any of them. I may run or ride a few miles, though. 

A marathon is 26.2 miles. Marathoners don’t start out running 26.2 miles! They start small and train for it. They work hard to reach that distance.

Tell us about something you worked for. Something you thought you might never accomplish, but you did.

If you have actually run a marathon, you can write about that!

In the summer er of 2011, I cared for my mother-in-law during the last days of her life. After she died and we had dealt with the house, will, etc., I began to exercise to ward off depression. Just five weeks after my first time in years to swim, bike, or walk a mile, I completed a local Sprint Triathlon — 300 meter swim, 14.5 mile bike, 5K run/walk. I came in last, but I finished.

One month later, Ron and I went to the Dallas area for me to participate in an Open-water Sprint Triathlon. The event was part of the Toyota Triathlon Series with professional athletes competing for new cars. No one told me “open-water” tris are harder than swimming in a pool. It was. It was very hard, but I finished the event.

The swim was difficult. Swim is my strongest part of a Tri. I love swimming, but swimming with 100 others in a lake is more than hard! I got splashed and kicked. I veered off course a few times. Even so, I had a strong time on the swim portion. I finished in front of many others in my group.

Me, walking slowly out of the water. Even the climb out of the water was uphill!

The bike route was more difficult for me due to the hills and the fatigue I felt from swimming half a mile. Tri folks are great and many encouraged me as they passed me. I kept peddling, slow and steady. I knew I had plenty of time so could ride slow. I knew I needed to simply keep moving

Biking! I found a flat spot, so I’m smiling.

(There was an international distance triathlon on part of course at the same time. Those folks had twice as far to swim, bike, and run than I did. I just had to finish close to when the last of those competitors.)

The final leg of a triathlon is the run. I weighed 185+ pounds and was very out of shape. I had only been exercising for about two months! I knew I couldn’t run, so I planned to just walk the 5K (3.2 miles) of hills

About half a mile in, a gal jogged past me. She was fast. Suddenly she stopped and started walking. She was clearly in great shape. For fun, I jogged past her as she walked then went back to walking. I could now say I passed at least one person!

She caught up to me and we started talking. She suggested we jog “the next ten cones”. (Traffic cones were places about every ten yards along the run to keep cars from driving in our path.) We “walked ten, jogged ten” the next two miles together. Along the way we talked and she cheered me on each time we jogged. She was so encouraging!

About half a mile from the finish, she told me she was actually supposed to be doing the International Distance.

She had been behind me on the run because shed swam and ridden twice as far as I had and was on the route to run twice as far. When she saw that I was struggling on the run, she’d stopped. She decided to help me rather run her own race.

With only a half mile left, she asked if I was okay to finish on my own. Of course I was! She ran the last half mile to the finish. She ran fast!

By not completing the entire 10K, she chose to get a DNF (did not finish) by her name. She had made a choice: helping me finish was more important to her than getting a “personal record”.

I finished in front of eight others that day. Eight out of more than twelve hundred! I finished and wasn’t last, in part, because a stranger decided to help me finish my race rather run her own best race.

Running to the finish! (The time on the clock is from when the first wave of athletes entered the water. My time was 2:21.

I want to be like that gal who walked and jogged with me. I want to help others as they struggle through the challenges of life. I don’t want to be so concerned about myself and my goals that I leave hurting people behind. 





So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:-4 | ESV


3 thoughts on “My First Open-water Triathlon 

  1. Isn’t it incredible when complete strangers show us how good we can be? I am in awe that you have done a tri. The very thought is a LOL for me, and I’m never not impressed that people do what they set out to do. Congrats to you, and thanks for sharing the stories of what you did and what we (humans) can do with just a small amount of kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good for you! And what a beautiful blessing that woman chose to be. May we all be willing to hang back and shout out encouragement rather than run past just to win our own race. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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