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Women for Tri: The Inaugural Board Meeting

The last week or so has been quite the whirlwind.  After learning that I was one of the twelve women chosen to be a part of the inaugural Women For Tri board, I was, of course, honored.

Then when I read about my co-board members, I thought, “Well, I am considerably out of my league.”  (None of us knew the other members until press release time. Quite the jaw-dropper for me to see the list.)

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So then, I spent the better part of a week wading through the social media frenzy–ranging from “Congratulations–you’ll be a great addition to this board” …to “Haters Gonna Hate” stuff and even some weird vibes from my own tribe.

But all the drama and social aspect aside, there are many questions surrounding this #WomenForTri initiative ranging from its “real” purpose to “behind-the-scenes” motive and more.

What ARE we doing? What IS the point?

So the founding board members traveled to Tampa on Tuesday.

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I found myself in a hotel where pro triathlete Hillary Biscay jumped over to me, asking me if I wanted to run.  (I chose to eat my DoubleTree cookie instead…. heh!)

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Then, having a glass of wine with “my” editor at Triathlete magazine (I call her “mine” now… because I adore her… heh heh)… Julia.

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But finally, I find myself seated next to Andrew Messick, CEO of Ironman, at dinner–and having a conversation of how I found my way into this sport. As introductions were made, I was able to tell MY story to this amazing group of women (and men).  Which was really a cool thing.

MY STORY. Yes, my little story about serendipity and the “luck” that changed my life–and how triathlon worked its way into my life.

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But what was clear from the get-go… we were all together to listen and learn and understand.  And we were up and working early on Wednesday at Ironman Headquarters with tons of coffee. (I missed my Flat White. Just sayin. 🙂 )

As I sat around the Board table with so many accomplished women, along with respected individuals in the Ironman and Life Time companies, I realized a few things about the group as a whole:

1) We all love the sport of triathlon.
2) Triathlon has changed all of us, for the better, in a wide (and surprising) variety of ways.
3) We want more women to KNOW about the sport.
AND
4) We want more women to reap the wonderful benefits of being a triathlete.

At its core, that is our purpose in Women for Tri. We want MORE woment to reap the wonderful life-changing benefits of this sport.

We want more mothers, sisters, daughters and wives to be at the start lines with us. Sharing these experiences–whether it’s a sprint, Oly, 70.3 or Ironman. All women, all walks of life, and across all distances of triathlon.

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I am really excited about our Mission Statement–which should be released soon from Ironman.

As far as bringing women into the sport, any of you who know me (or “know” me through the blog or what have you), you know how much this rings my bell.

My story started with a scary moment of simply attending a Spinning class. The story continued when someone believed in me.  The story blossomed when I began to BELIEVE IN MYSELF.

And Swim Bike Mom became what it is–because I BELIEVE IN YOU.

And for me, that’s it.  Pure and simple.  No bells, no whistles.

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And while, I am certainly special in my own sweet Southern ways, I am “no one” special.  I happen to be a wife, working mom and overweight woman who was “saved” by this sport.  Saved by triathlon at a time when I looked in the mirror and no idea “who” I was.

I started a blog because I thought my tale might help some people. Then I wrote a book to try and let others know how to jump into this sport–because there was a giant hole in the resources.  SBM happened to gain some popularity. It happened to grow into a community through some sweat and long nights and a whole lotta racing.

And pure and simple, that’s MY story.

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So what is YOUR STORY?

What story do YOU want to tell as a woman? As a newbie? As a seasoned age-grouper? As a MALE who wants to draw your wife, mom, sister or friends into the sport?  What are our stories? What do we want to share?

Because that is what we are… a group of women (and men) and a gathering of our own amazing, life-changing stories. Even if we are just starting–that start begins with a motion, an action and a decision.  That, in itself, is a story.

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Over the next year, as the Women for Tri initiative develops and builds, I may have many moving pieces as part of the collective whole.

But I want all of you–my dear “Army” or “Swim Bike Moms” or “Swim Bike Dudes”–I care about YOU.  I care about you and YOUR space in this sport. Because aside from any programs or initiatives and tweets and thoughts… this IS the most amazing sport on the planet.

And THAT, my friends, is what I want everyone to know:  Triathlon. Is. Amazeballs.

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That is what Women For Tri wants to share.

How can we do that–let everyone know? How can we let our friends and co-workers and family members know what a joy, a life-changer, an inspiration this sport is?  How do we “pay forward” the gift of triathlon to new women across the world?

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Things to think about.

Let’s keep thinking. Let’s continue talking.  And of course… just keep moving forward. 🙂 #WomenForTri #CommitToTri

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36 Comments

  • Kelly Burns Gallagher

    February 5, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Thank you for bringing up #50WomentoKona in the discussions. as you know, how can anyone, let alone a female triathlete, justify to her daughters, sisters and friends that “Anything is Possible” when opportunities for women are less possible than opportunities for men?

    Reply
    • Swim Bike Mom

      February 5, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      It was a great discussion, Kelly… As for me, I definitely see and appreciate both sides of the issue, and we used the opportunity to hear both sides. As a woman and a mother to an up-and-coming kick ass little girl, age 6, I definitely would love for triathlon to be the world-wide front-runner for true equality in sports–to look at my daughter and say, “Baby girl, look what happened!” BUT…I also hear the other arguments and can see the rationale at present. I know that things take time, education is tantamount and change is scary… but I am proud to be a part of the dialogue and deep-down, my opinion is that I hope we can see this change, because at the bare minimum, it’s the right thing to do.

      Reply
      • Kelly Burns Gallagher

        February 5, 2015 at 12:10 pm

        “[A]t the bare minimum, it’s the right thing to do” — it truly is.

        As far as the nuts and bolts go (getting more women to pay for race entries) look at Title IX. Prior to the passage of Title Nine in 1972, only 29,977 women participated in college sports. Over the next 35 years, women’s participation in college sports increased by 456%. Today, over forty years later, 45% of college athletes are women. Greater opportunities for collegiate athletes encouraged greater participation at all levels and particularly increased participation by girls in youth sports. Increased professional opportunities for women at the WTC World Championships will increase participation for women at all levels in triathlon. Conversely Ironman’s current regressive policy serves as a deterrent to women interested in our sport.

        Reply
      • Clint Lien

        February 5, 2015 at 12:57 pm

        There is no “other side”. There’s right and wrong. Equal and not equal. History will be kind to those on the right side of this obvious issue.

        Reply
        • Swim Bike Mom

          February 5, 2015 at 1:04 pm

          There most definitely IS another side, and that other side controls the outcome here… so that side and their reasons exist. Whether those reasons are right or wrong… is what you meant, I’m assuming.

          Reply
          • Clint Lien

            February 8, 2015 at 12:53 pm

            Yes – I can give that point. They may have their reasons but those reasons are no more based on what is right than the George Wallace’s reasons for wanting to keep black kids out of white schools. And although they may control the outcome, that lends absolutely zero weight to their arguments.
            I would also question whether they do actually control that outcome – maybe in the short term but if enough people decide to do what is right they will find they don’t have as much control as you assume they have.
            Still I applaud all of the board’s efforts to increase the participation of women in our sport.

            Reply
  • Diane Rathgeb

    February 5, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    It sounds amazing. I have tried to begin training over and over again… 3 weeks ago I began with a personal trainer (strength training only) and have made some progress. Enough to give me hope again the I might actually one day succeed at this sport on some level. It is just hard beginning at ground level, being older (46) and out of shape. This give me hope in myself again. Thank you for doing this and perhaps one day I’ll join you in a tri. xoxo

    Reply
    • Lucy Loor

      August 2, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      Diane, don’t negative talk yourself out of anything! As BSM always says “just keep moving forward” It’s what I did at my 1st Triathlon two weeks ago (NYC Triathlon no less) at the ripe age of 46 😉 Once I signed myself up to the race, I felt I had no choice but to keep moving forward-and I finished!!! I did the entire race (before they cut the run leg to 1 mile, because they ran out of ambulences du to heat exhaustion) in 97 degree 100% humidity concrete jungle weather;-/

      Reply
  • Melissa Highfill

    February 5, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    A women’s only ironman would be really cool. I know we only make up 25% of the market, but I think given the right location & marketing. Might be less intimidating for some newbies.

    Reply
  • Kay Grant

    February 5, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    As a grandmother of 6, I started college the first year Title IX was passed. I grew up Never never doing any kind of “sport”. We did physical education and couldn’t wait to change out of our blue one piece short outfit.
    I took up triathlon in 2007. I had to take swim lessons, buy a bike, and learn to waddle/run. Seven plus years later, I am still one of the last swimmers out of the water, catch up to a few on the bike, and come in from the run when the party is almost over, but I do it and love it and feel accomplished. I am thrilled that the sport is changing and I can live it in front of my four granddaughters and try to encourage them to join in! Thanks for your work at encouraging women of all ages and stages and girths that they can do this.
    Kay

    Reply
  • Allison

    February 5, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    Diane Rathke — I did my very first tri at age 50. I was overweight, out of shape and couldn’t probably walk a mile let alone run a mile in Jan when my sister challenged me to do a tri with her. I started training alone and did all of the training alone. I attended a one day seminar to get some ideas of what types of workouts to do and went from there. In June of that year I finished my first tri. I won’t say it was easy but I crossed the finish line. You can do this if you set your mind to it and think positive. Do what you can to get in quality workouts and you too will cross the finish line. If I can do it you can too. Good luck! We are all here to support each other.

    Reply
  • Laura

    February 5, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Meredith,
    I am so unbelievably excited for you ! This is such an amazing sport and to open doors for those new to the sport is wonderful ~ Like I’ve said, they could not have made a better selection. This is exciting, and I can’t wait to see what is to come for you and Women for Tri !!

    Reply
  • Kate

    February 5, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    You know you will have made inroads when a woman can post on the main triathlon at Slowtwitch and not have the sh*t beat out of her. Good luck with that. 🙁

    Reply
  • Denise

    February 5, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Spin started it all for me too Meredith! We have a lot in common, I am also a lawyer and a Mom but I am a bit older than you (52) and started at age 48. I have a goal of a half ironman by 2016 but I have gained some weight recently and have slacked off the training. Time to get back in the game! I would love a woman’s only Olympic, half and full Ironman. What have you heard about that?

    Reply
  • Jennifer

    February 5, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I am very excited to see where this leads in the future. I am in the progress of training for my first TRI at the age of 46, weighing over 300lbs, poor running skills and no bike as of yet. But I am training, walking on the treadmill and swimming when I can.

    While I am looking at having weight loss surgery, I am still committed to my training and my A race goal of a Half Ironman in 2016.

    Reply
  • cheryl

    February 5, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    As someone who fought for women in sport by starting a track/cross country team at our little midwestern high school in 1970 before Title IX I can totally get behind this…! How exciting for everyone involved!

    Reply
  • Helga

    February 6, 2015 at 9:30 am

    As an engineer I am used to being one of the few women in my workplace, however, I do experience a lot of positive mentoring and support from my male colleagues. The majority of men want and need women to succeed. A diverse work place is better for everyone. Women do have more challenges and we get side swiped more readily than men, throughout the different phases of our lives given our varied and demanding commitments e.g. family, children etc. However, I think if we can tap into that positive energy and support that men can provide to us we can all be “winners” together. I am a particular fan of the “He for She” idea and movement. Everyone, women and men together, need to move forward together. We all need each other. Less “diviseness” and more “togetherness”. Women need to support and encourage women while at the same time, helping men to support women. We can do it!!

    Swim Bike Mom is inclusive and supportive of this ethos. I love reading everyone’s story and feeling that I am a part of a community and “not alone” whether in “Tri” or in “Life”. Thanks Meredith! You did a good thing, bringing us all together.

    Reply
  • Annabelle

    February 6, 2015 at 10:52 am

    I think this is definitely a step in the right direction. However (and this is a sticky issue), there is the whole other aspect of economic status as a limiting factor for a large amount of people (particularly women with children). How many women are discouraged from getting involved in tris when they see the price tags involved? It would be interesting to see some sort of scholarship or grant program for those interested in triathlon, but can’t afford the races. I know there are charity entries, but those are also pretty geared to those who have buckets of time to fundraise, and are limited to a Ironman approved charities. Perhaps initiating a volunteer hours/reward system would be helpful? Maybe this exists already and I’m being silly. I think supporting women in triathlon is great! But I also think there is the elephant in the room regarding the insane cost of triathlon. Why would you get into triathlon instead of running, when running only sets you back a pair of shoes and about 80$ for a half marathon (something that has crossed my mind when upgrading something on my bike, or paying ~300$ for a half iron entry)?

    Reply
    • cheryl

      February 6, 2015 at 7:28 pm

      I have yet to spend tons on $ on triathlon. I have minimal gear and race locally – I make teacher’s pay and have a mortgage and am putting my daughter through college. It can be done. You can do a LOT without all the bells and whistles and just bare bones stuff. You swim at your YMCA or city pool, run with your kid in a stroller (and bike with them on the back for short rides). I always ran when she was in art classes or ballet. Swam at lunch. Biked one day a week…not a lot of training but if you have HEART you can do it!

      Reply
  • Alicia

    February 10, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Congratulations!! I saw your name on the list when I stumbled upon an article announcing the new board and initiatives. You have one our our “Jersey Girls,” Moira Horan, with you I see :)! (There are 2 really big all-female tri clubs in NJ, Moira’s Jersey Girls Stay STrong and the club I’m in called the Mullica Hill Women’s Tri Club which closed its 2104 membership with nearly 1,000 members!) Is the triathlon taking over NJ and are women leading the charge? Hellz yeah!! 🙂

    I have followed your blog for over a year and read your book, but don’t think I’ve ever left a comment!! I really REALLY wanted to leave one today to congratulate you on this huge honor 🙂 I think you are perfect for this board! Can’t wait to see all the amazing things you guys do to bring even more women to this incredible sport and lifestyle 🙂

    Good goin’, you :)!!!
    Alicia

    Reply
  • Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?!

    February 11, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I love reading about this behind-the-scenes perspective because it wasn’t about “I did this, I did that” – it’s about EVERYONE! I can’t wait to see what comes out of this. Right now I talk to friends about trying a triathlon and some want to, but they are too scared, or don’t have a bike, or access to a pool, or know that there’s a pool right down the road that they can go to for just a few bucks, or they think they won’t know what they’re doing at a group ride – and I thought all these things too! So unveiling the mystery of the sport is going to take a while.

    Reply
  • Carly

    February 11, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    I realize there is a need for equality, but I guess I’m still surprised (and saddened) that female participation is less than 50% because where I am, it seems the majority of participants are us ladies. There is also tremendous support/equal treatment from the menfolk. One of my favourite things about the local tri community is that there seems to be no distinction between male or female, just How Hard Can You Go?! The boys aren’t always the fastest 😉

    Reply
  • Jess

    February 26, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Congrats Meredith! You’re a total rockstar in this sport and are 110% deserving of a spot on that board! It was really cool to get an inside look at the board meetings and I can’t wait to see the mission statement! I absolutely love that there is a group that supports and champions women in this sport!

    Reply
  • Janice

    March 18, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    A little late to the party but congratulations! I saw the initial press on this but did not immediately put all the faces and names together. You are an amazing representative for the women’s tri community. I am just getting back into the game this year now that my child is a few years old and balance (well, do we ever really achieve that?) is a challenge. Everyday. I look forward to updates as this entity progresses.
    Congrats again!

    Reply
  • Karen

    June 15, 2015 at 7:47 am

    I did it. I finally made the decision to purchase your book, after months and months of researching triathlon training and reading your website and blog. I want and need to get in shape and compete in sprint triathlons. I was a runner from age 16 to 40, running in high school when girls didn’t run. That was many pounds ago, a few kids ago, a few surgeries ago, many years ago! No excuses. No more. I’ll be 60 years old this summer, what better way to celebrate than to begin my triathlon training in my 60th year of life! As Meredith would probably say…….. GO ME!!

    Reply

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