Susan’s first triathlon

Hi all you fitness/bride lovers!! I’m Susan, I blog over at a little place called The Great Balancing Act. I talk a lot about food, fitness and life in general. But my blogging career actually began as a way to track my journey to my first triathlon.

When I tell most people I did a triathlon, their eyes widen and go a little blank. “You did a marathon??”

“No. A triathlon. You know, swim, bike, run,” I respond.

“Wow. You must have a lot of energy.”

“Mmm… Something like that.”

You see, what many people don’t realize, is that all triathletes, marathoners, body builders, etc, all started somewhere. No one comes out of the womb ready to run an ultra. While many of these folks are genetically inclined to be athletic, many others are just regular joes. I’m a Joe. Or a Jane, if you will.

Just a short time ago, I was a beer-drinkin’, nacho-lovin’, couch-sprawlin’, noon-sleepin’ gal.

But last summer, I had one of those Oprah “a-ha” moments. I’d just downed my second litre of beer, hopped on the Wii Fit, and was horrified when the little Mii character started to expand. I was a chubby Nintendo character!

I’d always exercised irregularly but I never had any idea what I was doing. When I decided it was time to lose the weight I always dreamed of losing, I started at my university’s pool. Swimming was fun, and not quite as scary as the chicks in the Lululemon pants at the campus gym.

A few months into it, I stumbled across a program called Couch to 5k. It’s an easy running program scheduled to get you literally from the couch, to running five kilometres in nine short weeks. Hey, I liked the couch, and I wanted to run!

The program had me running three times a week. It started with 60 seconds running followed by 90 seconds walking for 20 minutes. It was hard, and I was horrified I was so out of shape.

As the days progressed, the running intervals grew longer. But I was able to complete each run without giving up. Then came Week 5. On day 3, you’re scheduled to run 20 minutes straight without walking. I was nervous the whole week leading up to it. But I did it. To this day, that 20 minute run is one of my greatest fitness achievements.

Shortly after I finished the 5k program, I swam my first kilometre in the pool. As I was gloating about this to my boyfriend, he suggested I do our city’s triathlon. I don’t know why, but I was completely seduced by the idea. It is the complete opposite of anything I would ever do, and I was immediately transfixed.


Oh wait. I’m forgetting something. The biking! Ooooh, the biking. Thankfully, my boyfriend is also an avid cyclist and helped me pick out the perfect road bike, Scottie.

This was a challenge. Road bikes are a whole other breed of bicycle. The thin tires, shoes you clip into the pedals, the sheer speed. It was somewhere around this point I started feeling like I’d gotten in over my head.

Did I mention I wasn’t a good swimmer? Yeah, I couldn’t really do that either. I’d never perfected the technique of swimming with my face in the water. Panic drove me to sign up for adult swimming lessons. Best idea ever. I gained tons of swimming confidence in those lessons. I perfected my stroke and got faster. I highly recommend lessons for all you mediocre swimmers out there who want to start taking it a little more seriously.

There was also a hip injury that kept me from running in the weeks leading up to the triathlon. In short, I felt very ill-prepared going into it. But I was doing it. I’d come this far, there was no going back.

My triathlon was hard and challenging. There were moments I cursed myself for ever signing up. But all of that dissolved the second I crossed the finish line.

Me. The beer-drinkin’, nacho-lovin’, couch-sprawlin’, noon-sleepin’ gal did it.

So why share all of this?

I guess to just say that we are all possible of anything. Sure, I didn’t have the best time or the best gear at the race. But what no one knew is where I started from.

I’ve come a long way from that 20 minute run. In fact, I’m doing quadruple that now! I’ve put in some serious miles on my road bike. Hell, I wear Lululemon pants to the gym now!!

My next big race will be a half marathon this spring, along with the lovely Brie. Maybe by then I’ll figure out a way to verbalize the feeling of crossing the finish line and reaching new fitness heights. But until then, I’ll just have to continue mumbling incoherently at the wide-eyed stares.

Question of the day: What is your fondest fitness memory? Besides the triathlon and that first 20-minute run, one of my proudest moments was being able to use the olympic bar for squats 🙂


6 Responses

  1. hey susan! fantastic guest post!
    hope it inspired Brie for her 5k!!

  2. Hi susan great job! We all have to start somewhere when I started I could not believe the changes that were taking place with my fitness. Again, great job!

  3. great job and great acomplishment I know what you mean!

  4. […] if you’re looking for more, head on over to The Fit Bride! I did a guest post on my first triathlon […]

  5. My best fitness memory is my first Team In Training practice. I felt so out of place in the beginning since I was such a new runner. But, I felt so very empowered (sp?) after!

  6. oh miss susan – LOVED this post! i have been thinking of training for a triathlon, and you totally have me feeling so much better about it.

    my best fitness memory is actually the first 5k i ever rain – i did it by myself and it was so rewarding! the marathon was pretty cool too 🙂

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