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A Tough Pill to Swallow

After about ten years of competing in triathlons, mostly at the 70.3 (half IRONMAN) distance, I decided 2020 was my year. This year, I was going to complete my first full IRONMAN.

My 5 year old twin boys started Kindergarten, which suddenly freed up a few hours in my day. I had a strong foundation of training under my belt, and I was ready to level up: I committed to IRONMAN St. George, Utah, and race day was May 2nd, 2020. 

Well, you know how this story ends.  By March, I was in the thick of my training, logging 5+ hour rides on the weekends and putting in mile after mile on the pavement. I was less than 8 weeks out when St. George’s was cancelled. 

It was a tough pill to swallow. 

At first I was in denial. “Maybe it will get rescheduled for a few months out?”  “Can I  jump into a different Ironman race later this year?”  I couldn’t have come this far just to not compete! But as the cancellations rolled in, I had to accept that racing as we knew it wasn’t happening in 2020. 

I bagged my training sessions that first weekend: I needed some time to be upset. I gave myself a few days to be angry, then I let it go. While It’s important to allow yourself to experience disappointment, you need to shift gears, create your new normal, and keep moving. 

I wasn’t going to abandon triathlon: I love it too much. I resumed training that Monday.

Virtual (Race) Reality 

Training for St. George got me in the best shape of my life, and I couldn’t stomach the thought of squandering my hard work. I joined the IRONMAN Virtual Club, and to date I faithfully follow my TriDot program.

What’s amazing is I am actually making gains, especially on the bike.  I participate in virtual races most weekends, so I have to be diligent about not killing my body during my weekly training: I’m getting better without getting burnt out. 

I’m able to stay competitive and motivated in my virtual racing because of the recovery elements of my program. I finally understand just how important rest is, and will prioritize recovery when I start training for a full IRONMAN again, whenever that is. 

Women in Triathlon

I have a few mom/triathlete friends who also belong to the IRONMAN Virtual Club, and we keep each other motivated. There have been many weekends where I wouldn’t have raced if it weren’t for one of my buddies texting: “We on for this weekend? Let’s go!”

I hope to see more of this in triathlon: women encouraging other women to join and compete in the sport. The number of women in triathlon is definitely increasing, but there are still areas where the gap between men and women participants is obvious. For example, the first virtual race I did had roughly 600 finishers, and about 400 were men. It seems like each week in my virtual races, fewer and fewer women are participating.

Let’s face it: many female triathletes are balancing motherhood, careers, relationships, training and more. I am fortunate to have support from my husband and in-laws, who are all are very bought in to my dedication to triathlon: their help allows me to fit my training in each week. I know not everyone has that, but I encourage women to ask for that help if they want to do a triathlon.

Try not to defeat yourself with doubts about how you’ll balance training and life before you’ve asked for support. If the idea of triathlon excites you, please just sign up and lean into your community! You will find a way to make it work. 

Because like so many things in life, the biggest step in finishing your first triathlon is signing up. 

BREAKING NEWS

"This week, I found out I qualified for the 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships via the IRONMAN Virtual Race Championship Series: I finished 3rd in my age group.  I accepted the slot yesterday, and guess where it is? St. George, Utah, on September 18th, 2021."
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