I stumbled upon TTG about 2.5 years ago when I was looking to join a running group. I attended my first meeting feeling like a scared, lonely puppy, because I did not know anyone in the group. I was greeted by Kay Wolferstetter, who literally welcomed me with open arms and declared I had found my family - my aunts and my sisters. I will never forget her warm, welcoming words. Lisa Roberts spoke at the first meeting I attended. I remember thinking how cool it was to have a professional triathlete speak at the meeting, even though I didn’t really know anything about triathlons. I had completed one tri in grad school; the idea came when a friend of mine texted me on a random Wednesday afternoon asking how my swimming was coming along. My swimming?! What swimming? People actually swim for fun? He told me that there was a triathlon coming up at the school and I should sign up. Somehow the seed he planted on many occasions finally sprouted; I bought a bike and he patiently taught me a few things about swimming – like how to put my head in the water (Scary! Good thing I bought those goggles on sale at Kohl’s) and that a one-piece swimsuit was necessary. I signed up for the triathlon. The tri was very beginner friendly and not USAT sanctioned. I showed up on race day with a few supporters and a Victoria Secret bag full of running clothes (what are bike shorts?) and saw people in skin tight onesies (tri suits; who knew those existed?). The only onesie I owned were my footy pajamas. Somehow I survived the pool swim, rode my bike with my cage pedals and finally made it to my safe place, my running shoes. I didn’t really think much about doing another triathlon after that, until I stumbled upon TTG.

Let’s get something straight: the women at the TTG meetings were CRAZY. They talked about completing sprint to full distance Ironman races, some even multiple Ironman races. They had an assortment of personalities, careers and stories, but they all had a couple of things in common: they were determined, supportive, ambitious, and they were all older than me! I kept thinking, how do they do it? Who would ever want to do anything besides run, for fun? Well, it seems, if you hang around crazy long enough, you will become it.

New Year’s Eve came around and I made it my resolution to complete a full distance Ironman event within three years. My next step was to sign up for tri camp. I couldn’t sleep the night before because I knew we were going on a group ride, and I had never ridden with others, nor had I ever ascended or descended a hill; what’s Gates Pass? Somehow I survived camp and even learned there were RULES in triathlon, such as staying a few bike distances apart from the person ahead of you. This blew my mind; I printed off all the rules and read them thoroughly before my first race.

I had been volunteering quite often with TTG and ended up getting a free race entry to the Rocky Point Triathlon. I figured what the heck, why not compete, after all they had beer at the finish line! I had no idea how to swim in the ocean, but managed to get second in my age group. I also had no idea I was so competitive, until I was outraged that this gloating first place girl beat me by a couple of minutes. After all, I spent more than three minutes in T1 getting my wetsuit off and getting the sand off my feet! I decided then and there that I might actually be able to be competitive in this sport if I would just get my act together.

I kept working my way up from sprints to Olympics and even conquered biking further than I had ever run (and yes, a nap was in order afterwards)! Christina Azzolina and I decided to do a half Ironman. Half-way through training I finally purchased a pair of bike shorts – who knew they were so great? (Note: you can get through this sport without all the bells and whistles.) Finally, with the support and commitment of Christina, I registered for a full Ironman. I told you, if you hang around crazy enough, you will become it.

Working my way up to register for an Ironman would not have been possible without TTG. There are countless women whose stories have inspired me, who have encouraged me along the way and who could see potential in me that I could not always see in myself. Training for such a long distance event takes time, dedication, passion and grit, but it also takes support. I have honestly never met a group of women so committed to supporting others. After my Ironman I will be moving back to Minnesota. Ideally, I could take the whole group of Tri Girls with me, but I am going to search high and low for a group whose mission and vision aligns with TTG. The Tri Girls will always have a special place in my heart. I am blessed to have found my “aunts and sisters” in the Tri Girls (Robin Kremer, Kay Wolferstetter and Christina Azzolina, just to name a FEW), who have literally welcomed me into their homes when needed. This adventure has been wild and crazy, but the Tri Girls have made it possible. If there is ever anything I can do to assist YOU on your journey, please do not hesitate to reach out. And remember if you hang around crazy long enough, you will become it! ☺

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