My triathlon journey

I swam before I walked. I grew up as an otter playing in a semi-weightless world. I loved the freedom of creative movement in the water. Of course my disciplined dad also taught me the four competitive strokes. He would guide my tiny arms in precise patterns. So early on I zipped around pools cavorting in the depths under people’s treading feet, and passing lap swimming adults.

While I don’t remember learning to swim, I do remember learning to run. It was dreadful, uncomfortable, and boring. Dad would bring me on epic shuffles. We probably started with a half a mile, slowly building to three. We would later do form drills on the lawn, and run with precision from one tree to the next.

Meanwhile I was collecting boxes of flimsy blue ribbons from swim meets. I’m not sure where the boxes are, but I have great memories. As my swimming career progressed it became furious endless thrashing over a black line and if I wasn’t in it I smelled like it. I could find a pool by scent as if my dry skin was dowsing for its fix. By 11th grade I quit for my new love.

It had taken years for running to feel natural. When it did I fell deeply in love. It gave me so much more than swimming ever had. Running with the high school boys I felt like a pack of wolves careening wildly through the forest. Alone I loved the rhythms of my body, my arms pumping, my breath keeping time, my legs striding, my feet quick and light skimming through the landscape. It was a focussed peace that made me feel connected. Then I got injured, and for ten years I put it on the back burner.

I really wanted to love biking. I would force myself now and then, and I could feel my heart flutter ineffectually and the stinky sweat of fear would seep from my pores. In 2007 I had been doing triathlons for nine years but sometimes not biking at all until the day of the race. It was that year I was determined to overcome my fear of biking. I coddled myself in the spring sticking to paths, going slow and staying away from traffic. By summer I was biking on streets. By 2008 I could comfortably call myself a bike commuter. By the end of 2009 apparently I was missing the fear, and I started biking through the winter.

Now it all comes together. Three years after starting year-round biking I’m learning to love it. Two years after overhauling my swim form I’m captivated all over again. A year after foot surgery I am feeling the rhythm and peace again. This summer I’ll compete in my first half ironman. It is a long journey.


Since I wrote this in April 2013 my journey has continued.  Here are a few highlights:
The half ironman I was training for “My Big Tri…”
Three Reasons I feel Like An Athlete 
My three part race report on my first Iron-Distance Tri

Next in the Superiorman storyline: Something Magical: My Watershed Biking Moment

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4 Responses to My triathlon journey

  1. Pat Lillehei says:

    I am proud of my Personal Trainer. Your story brings me right to the path for successful Triathlon Training. I hope to be participating past age 85 in Senior Events!!!!! My beginnings were 2008 when my daughter registered me to ride the MS150 with her. During training her friends encouraged me to try the TRIAHLON that kicks off Aquatennial Week. When I was honored with a first place trophy, I decided to Try the TRI again the next year as a Sprint. The next year I took first place in the International distance. The next year I did the YWCA TRIATHLON AND LOVED THE TRAINERS SO I JOINED THE YWCA. This year I will compete in the MN State senior Games and OHIO National Senior Games. If I can fit the competition in, I hope to Qualify for the International senior games 2014 in Edmonton, Canada. But I am still working full time. Full time in the past was 12 hours for me, now it is about 7. 🏃 Pat L

    • kymzest says:

      Pat, I am proud of you! You are an inspiration. I have always looked to the senior women of the athletic community as my role models. It means more to me than all the fancy fast pros out there.

  2. Pingback: My Big Tri, with tiny bubbles, a caterpillar, and ice. | Midwest With Zest

  3. Pingback: The Reluctant Report | Midwest With Zest

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