Back in August of 2010, I decided to become a Triathlete.
What is funny about this?
At that point, I had only completed two 5K events in my entire life; zero cycling events (and my bike was gathering cobwebs in the garage). Oh, and zero swimming laps since about age eight.
So that was the first funny thing.
The next funny thing is that I was about 100 pounds overweight. Okay. So 50 pounds, but still. Probably 65 pounds. Regardless. Overweight. Chubby. Chunky.
Fat Albert. Hey hey hey.
And even funnier, I had two kids under three years of age. And a husband. And I worked a full-time job as a litigation attorney (bleck!).
And I thought I had time for triathlon.
Now, in deciding this, I wasn’t a complete idiot.
I used to be an athlete. Sort of. I played basketball, volleyball and softball. I was a lousy softball player, because I could not hit the ball on purpose. But if I hit it by accident, it would go pretty far. I did swimming and gymnastics as a kid, but I was too chubby to really be any good at gymnastics and too young and stupid to recognize that I was a good swimmer. Plus, I am (and always have been) a massive chicken, so gymnastics was terrifying.
Then there was my real sport – Olympic weightlifting.
By “real”, I mean the one that stuck the longest and the most intensely. I won the Junior National Championships back in the day, went to Junior Worlds in South Africa (placed fifth in one lift, and seventh overall, and missed the next world team by a hair), did a few stints at the squad camps at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, etc. etc.
Weightlifting was a good sport for me, because while there was a huge risk of injury (e.g., dropping 200+ pounds upon my head, busting apart my knees, spontaneous breaking elbows), it felt safe for me.
Triathlon. Was. Not. Safe. For. Me.
Triathlon. Scared. The. Hell. Out. Of. Me.
So where did this idea for triathlon come from?
Well, after I had my youngest child in 2008, I was a puffy, sluggish and tired mess. I joined the athletic club and found my way to a Spinning class. I ran (a little). I did NOT get into a bathing suit. I continued to spin off and on for almost a year.
And then it hit me. I had been in this crazy rut for so long. And I liked to blame the rut on my commute or my kids, but really, it was my fault. I had let it all go.
Read the blog post here about How I Changed —-this is my Oprah-inspired “ah-ha” moment…what I like to call “the Spark.”
I needed a new “for me” purpose. One that was separate from work and family. Something that was me. And for some crazy reason, I thought triathlon could be me.
I hired a coach, who I lovingly dubbed “Coach Monster.” Not because he was a tough as nails Ironman monster or because he was caring and sweet like a Sesame Street monster…but mostly because he loved REM. He called me “Grasshopper.” Better than Shamu, I suppose.
Then there’s the Expert. My husband. I pulled him into triathlon by my greedy little infectious nature. The Expert finished an Olympic distance triathlon before a sprint. Meaning, he did a longer distance… first.
Because he’s the Expert. And that’s how he rolls.
Since October 2010, I have competed in my first Sprint Distance tri, several other sprint tris, several 5ks, 10ks, several half marathons, my first Olympic distance race in May 2011 at St. Anthony’s, and several other Olympic distances. A first half Ironman (70.3) finish was October 30, 2011. One year after the start of my journey. That’s all it took – to go from “can’t run a mile” to a half-Ironman.
My second half Ironman finish was September 30, 2012 – and was almost 40 minutes FASTER than my first. I finished two MORE half irons over the next couple of years. In addition, I have had endless adventures in wetsuits, several low-speed tip-overs, and one massive open water swim panic attack.
But guess what? I’ve survived it all, and I keep going back for more.
Like a freaking IRONMAN.
I finished Ironman Coeur d’Alene on June 23, 2013 in 16:44:19… and I heard the words, “Meredith Atwood, You are an Ironman.” The best/worst/craziest experience of my life… And honestly, don’t think I will ever be the same.
I loved it so much, I did it again. A second 140.6 distance race in October of 2014. And a third, Ironman Lake Placid. And a fourth, Ironman Louisville. And there’s two more on the calendar for 2016. I love it!
The message? The point?
You. Can. Go. Go forward. Move. If you move, no matter how slowly, you are passing all the people who aren’t moving. Go take your dreams. They’re yours for the snagging. I’m proof. Four half Ironmans, two Iron distance races… and in training for the next!
Just Keep Moving Forward,