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My Story

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 75 pounds. Regardless.

Heavy and unhappy more than anything.


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. And commuted. And really was tired, and angry and sad and didn’t know what in the world “had happened” to me.

And I thought I had time for triathlon.

Now, in deciding this, I wasn’t a complete idiot.

I used to be an athlete. 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 some swim team (1 year) 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 year’s 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.

I was always kind of “strong.”

But I was, by no stretch of imagination, fast.

I was NOT a runner. I was NOT a swimmer. I was certainly not a cyclist.

Weightlifting meant hoisting some things. And then it was over. Weightlifting was safe for me.

Triathlon??  Three sports that I wasn’t even good at?  Well, Triathlon was NOT safe for me. At. All.

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 a gym 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 job or the struggles of motherhood–but really, it was my fault. I had let it all go.

And for what? Who knew.


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.

And here’s the story:
How I Changed —-this is my Oprah-inspired “ah-ha” moment…what I like to call “the Spark.”

Since October 2010, I have competed in my first Sprint Distance tri, several other sprint tris, several 5ks, 10ks, several half marathons a first Olympic distance race in May 2011 at St. Anthony’s. A first half Ironman (70.3) finish was October 30, 2011.

My second half Ironman finish was September 30, 2012 – and was almost 40 minutes FASTER than my first.

I finished three 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 I was changed forever.

I loved it so much, I did it again (and again and again…).

[A second 140.6 distance race in October of 2014.  And a third, Ironman Lake Placid.  And a fourth, Ironman Louisville. ]


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.  Just start moving forward.

Then Just Keep Moving Forward,