Why Tri? Ever since I saw my very first tri on TV many, many years ago where someone crawled across the finish line, I've been interested but never had the courage to enter one. And then came Team in Training. I had trained for my first 13.1 in 2012 (Arizona Distance Classic) and completed it when they said they were going to be doing a triathlon in San Diego. I had no idea the distance, but I was in since my first experience with TNT was so positive. I figured if nothing else, I would raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and finish a triathlon and if I embarrassed myself, I would be out of state and no one I knew would see. I was hooked. I finished my first Olympic distance tri in September 2012. That's why I started.
Why I keep doing them is they have pushed me outside my comfort zone. Everyone knows I play volleyball. On a volleyball court, I will not think twice about kicking you when you are down. My competitive nature on the court has actually gotten me uninvited to some teams because I'm "too competitive." Of course, being competitive and willing to push myself usually beyond my physical ability and wanting so desperately to get stronger, faster, leaner, etc., when most women my age (I will be 57 next week) are hanging up their shoes, did garner an invite for the USA 55s team that will be going to Brazil for the World Masters Volleyball Championships. It is not a sure thing but the invite was extended, and I said yes. Waiting to see if I make the final cut.
I continue to do triathlon because, I say, I'm fighting old age and gravity every step of the way. I have found something that forces me to step outside my comfort zone and push beyond my limits. And I think that is so very important as we age. It's too easy to say, "I'm too old; I can't do that," or any other such nonsense. Life is short...very short, and I realized that in 2013 when three very good friends of mine all died of different causes at different times throughout the year. It was then that I vowed to continue pushing myself as long as I enjoyed what I was doing because we are not guaranteed tomorrow, and my bucket list is very long so I need to get on it. Doing triathlons keeps me focused on keeping myself in somewhat halfway good physical condition. In addition training for triathlons is making my volleyball game so much better than what it was even five years ago.
I always wanted to be involved in some type of sporting activity but other than golf, no opportunity ever presented itself. There were no sports for women when I was younger and we did not even have gym in high school. Though the years, I had some physical issues that eliminated any ideas that I ever had of doing anything physically demanding. I was disabled in the early 90's due to a major back injury and also had hip issues necessitating a replacement in 2003. Than another devastating back injury in 2010 that further hindered my physical abilities. I was looking at buying a walker in 2012 but bought running shoes instead and was also fitted with an ankle foot orthotic that made walking much easier. I made immediate improvements in mobility, did a 5k and wanted more. I was exhausted after that event but couldn't wait to do another one. The sense of accomplishment was overwhelming. On the advise of my son who does triathlons in Chicago, I bought a bike at TriSports which I wasn't able to ride. Someone at TriSports suggested I join the Tucson TriGirls because they offered clinics and events for beginners. I joined the next month and there are more activities and events than I can attend. The comraderie and team support is exceptional. It is so exciting and fulfilling to participate and receive all the "way to go" from everyone and know that I will know someone no matter what event I attend. Wow, this never happened with anything else I have ever done. So here I am, a woman who could barely walk, certainly couldn't run, couldn't ride these new fangled bikes and couldn't swim just 3 years ago who had now completed 2 super sprint triathlons and multiple races. I may be slow but I am a TRI GIRL.
How did you get started in Triathlon?
I had always had good health, but at age 59, I was out of shape and not living healthy. I did not want to go into my 60s that way and knew if I did not make a change I would not have good health. I started strength/endurance training with Crossfit/Kettlebells/Functional Fitness and it changed my life. Besides the initial goal of being fit and to have a healthy body fat percentage, a friend challenged me to run a half marathon. I had always wanted to be a runner but never felt good running. Through my strength/endurance training and learning how to run, I was able to run my first half marathon on my 60th birthday. My Crossfit coach also does sprint triathlons and recommended that I do the Tri for Kindness. One Tri and I was hooked!
Why do you Tri today?
First, I love to train. I love to train as much if not more than the actual event. I love to plan the training. I approach fitness as training, not working out. Whether it is Strength, Swim, Bike, Run, Mobility, Nutrition or the Mind, it is always training with a goal. I like to say that the magic happens in the process of training. And training for Tri’s is so multidimensional, which I think helps with overall health, not just focusing on one area of fitness. It’s Physical and Mental fitness.
What are some of your most memorable races?
They are all memorable for one reason or another. The ones that standout are my very first run was Run With The Roosters. I was only able to run the first 2 miles and walk/run the remaining 3 (learned about pacing). My first half marathon (ran the whole distance). Running the Bisbee 1000 and doing the IceMan Challenge the same day. My first Tri, Tri for Kindness with 5 minute transitions! And, a miserable A Mountain half marathon where I was not physically or mentally prepared and did not nutrition/hydrate properly.
If you would’ve told me I would be training for a triathlon back in December of 2014, I would’ve told you that paint chips are harmful and good for the sharing. It all started when I decided that 2015 would be the year of my getting off the couch and I thought purchasing my first bike since college would be a great idea. Biking would be my vehicle to a healthier lifestyle and meeting new friends and apparently, I was right! I’m not a naturally athletic person by any means and since undergrad; my primary focus has been my career. While my work life challenges me, my lack of focus on my health has led to pre-diabetes and weight gain. To be perfectly honest, I’ve spent the last 10 years sitting on the couch in my limited free time. In 2014, I came to a crossroads where I either needed to begin making some serious changes in my life, or become accustomed to having health issues of someone much older than I. Enter the bike and great friends encouraging me to purchase said bike and join the TTG.
After purchasing my bike (with the help of Kay and Kate who made sure I didn’t get swindled and buy the prettiest thing I saw) I jointed a TTG Wednesday running group and slowly began incorporating it into my after work regime. I found a coach that has pushed me tremendously and looks beyond what I currently can’t do and encourages me to dream of what I WANT to do (you’re the best, Robin!). In February I ran my first 5k and in March I did my first super sprint triathlon. While I was exhausted by the end of the tri, it was by far one of the most exhilarating and fun experiences of my life. I’ve signed up for other small 5k races and two other triathlons in the coming months. TTG has changed my life! I can’t adequately express my thanks to the wonderful ladies that have encouraged and supported me in the last few months. You inspire me!
How did you get started in triathlon?
Christina Marble, my sister, and I wanted to try a triathlon. We had both been injured with too much focus on a single sport, mostly cycling. We needed balance. Swimming seemed like a good solution. A triathlon race was an incentive to train. We chose the beginner-friendly Shyann Tri for Kindness Triathlon.
Why do you Tri today?
Why do I continue triathlon? I love the balance of the three sports. I love the feeling of a powerful brick run after a hard bike ride. I love learning new skill and technique to further gain speed and personal records (PRs). I love to share my passion and experience with other triathletes, both new and veterans.
What are some of your more memorable races?
Of course, our first triathlon was most memorable. I had just learned to swim a few months earlier. Further, I was suffering from an ankle injury. Christina and Roberta, another rookie triathlete friend, offered to walk the 5K "run" with me. I still remember waiting on Roberta brushing her hair in T2. The memory of the three of us still makes me smile. Another favorite triathlon was Barb's Race, a charity race benefitting cancer research and patients. Christina agreed to race our first Half Ironman with me for my 50th. It is a gorgeous venue through the hills among northern California's vineyards. The most fun race EVER was a grassroot event Stacy Bolyard started for tri-shy athletes. It included swimming with floaties, a tricycle time trial (see profile picture), and a beautiful sunset walk in Sabino Canyon.
Jack Johnstone, the co-founder of the sport of triathlon, died Jan. 28 in San Diego. He was 80 years old.
USA Triathlon Kids magazine wants youth and junior multisport athletes to share their top triathlon questions and favorite race photos...