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My first triathlon: I am doing it AFRAID!

By April 19, 201126 Comments

So, I turn 40 in 3 months.
But 40 is the new 30, right?? Shoot….turning 40 is better than the alternative… I will do my best to EMBRACE it!!!
If you regularly read my blog, you know that several friends and I just surprised my dear friend Becky by “helping her” turn 40 in Cancun.

We had the time of our life. Bonding. Zip lining. Sun bathing. Encouraging each other. Laughing, laughing, laughing. Her 40th was a riot.

My 40th is going to be a little different. I have signed up to do my first triathlon the day after I turn 40. Gulp.

After I ran my first half marathon last year, I knew a triathlon was my next fitness goal.
So I entered a Team Triathlon with 2 dear friends and altho’ we didn’t break any records, we had a great time and got a feel for what a triathlon involves.

Then I went with my friend Christie last summer and watched the all women’s “Win for KC Women’s Triathlon” at Smithville Lake just outside of Kansas City.

(my sweet friend Christie!)

I saw women of all ages, all fitness levels, and all shapes competing.

I knew the triathlon date would be around my birthday again this year and thought……what a gift to myself to try to be in the best physical condition of my adult life when I turn 40.
I believed I could do it except for that one little thing…..oh yeah, I can’t swim.
Ok, I can swim with my head above water……which is kind of like watching a turtle trudge thru water.
I have never been in a lake without a life vest.
I had to get “rescued” once by a lifeguard as a child at a “sandpit” (let’s hear it for the farm girls who even know what that is!!!)

I float fine, I just can’t put my face under water without plugging my nose.

And when I say I can’t put my head under water…..I literally mean I sometimes snort water in the shower if I get too much water in my face.
THAT’S what I am talking about. I know……it’s bizarre.
So, I hired a swim instructor last August to give me swim lessons. I wanted to look this fear in the face! At our first lesson, she patiently held my hands for what seemed like 10 minutes before I could finally duck my head under water without plugging my nose. She was a Godsend.

You can laugh. But fear is a powwwwwwwwerful thing. Old habits are HARD to break. I come from a family of nose pluggers! It’s a generational curse that I am breaking for my children!!!!!! They.will.not.plug.their.noses!!!!
By the end of the 4 swim lessons, I was able to swim the length of the pool swimming correctly….although still causing the pool levels to dip because I was still snorting so much water.
I took the winter off and started swimming again 2 months ago in a lap pool. My dear friend Shauna, who was at one point in pre-Olympic trials for the butterfly stroke, has stepped up as my personal swim instructor. She promises I will not drown. I promise I will not disappoint her.

And so….the day I turn 40 is the day before I swim a half mile in Smithville Lake.

(the entrance into the water at last year’s tri)

And then bike 12 miles.

(bike transition area)

And then run 3.1 miles on legs that feel like jello!

I anticipate my birthday being filled with carbing up, praying alot, nervous diarrhea and a sleepless night. Sounds fun, huh??? It a longgggggggg way from Cancun baby. What am I thinking?

I have 6 friends competing in the triathlon with me. We are all doing a formal 7 week training class at a lake together leading up to the tri day….so this will be a blast after I get thru the “not drowing part”.
But, I just want you blog readers to know that I AM DOING THIS AFRAID.
Awhile back, my friend Becky put this on Facebook:

”I loved reading The Nester’s blog about being a risk taker. As I read it, I looked over and saw my magnet from Joyce Meyer’s which reads ‘Be a Risk Taker!’ As I turned 40, I was zip-lining in with friends in Cancun- total risk. My friends took a risk to join us in Cancun despite what was going on in their lives. I hope to take more risks this year. What risks do you want to take?”
I feel like I am literally risking my life to experience a competition that I have wanted to try for years. And so I pose to you……what risks will you take this year?????

Come on ladies…..tell me!


  • Pamma says:

    Good luck! You will do fantastic…and as I am sure you have heard this before—just do your own race!

  • sandi says:

    this year will be the 4th anniversary of my 40th 😉

    right now i am potty training our youngest… guess that is not really risky. i would like to paint a piece of furniture for the girls room; my mom would freak if she knew i was thinking about it. i love painting walls, furniture ~ never done it. i have also seen several “small” projects online (simple bookcases ~ basic cubes, hanging beadboard) that i would like to do… without the help of my dad. my husband thinks i am crazy, just have someone do it for you. but i want to accomplish it myself. don’t know if that is really considered risky but hopefully i can do it.

    um, sorry for chuckling it must be a “cultural” thing. we are along the coast and our children are 8,6, and 3 and can swim, ski and kneeboard (older two). but my MIL almost did not graduate from college because she could not tread water… it was required for graduation back in the day. it makes her nervous watching the children sometimes. at the urging of her five grandchildren she got on a large airhead with all five children and got pulled behind the jet ski! of course we only went about 5 miles an hour but at least she did it.

    good luck with your upcoming event!

  • Shelby says:

    Best of luck! What a great gift you are giving yourself.

    My risk is putting everything I have into my small business and being a vendor at The Farm Chicks show this year!! A little nervous!!!

  • dankasworld says:

    Wow. How inspiring. It is especially inspiring that you signed up even with your swimming challenges. I’d never considered a triathlon for the same reason (among others). Maybe I need to revisit that. 😉

    Good luck with your endeavor. I hope you knock your own socks off!

  • Melanie says:

    I think that is amazing, I am taking this year (my 32nd) to try and get back into shape, but its been slow going (I have only lost 13lbs since x-mas, guess I thought it would at LEAST be a pound a week)…. I was just celebrating the fact that I can once again jog a WHOLE 1 mile continuously lol.. My sister has been doing all the local 5k’s and just finished the Trolley run (4 miles) in 33 minutes…. I will likely never be in the shape she is in, but at least I can keep bettering myself!

  • Bill says:

    You inspire me daily with your courage and dedication. It has been amazing to me to watch you come from not being able to put your head under water to seeing you swim with beautiful form. You will do more than not drown you will rock it. I am so proud of you and blessed to do life with someone whom constantly challanges me to be the best I can be. Love you girl!! Even if you look like a cone head with a swim cap on:)

  • Debbie Wagy says:

    Jen I am so very proud of you! Facing your fear of swimming head on is quite an accomplishment and you are teaching your children a valuable lesson! Blessings to you on this journey! Although I won’t be participating in the triathlon, I will, however, participate by praying for you!!!

  • theteo5 says:

    I’m impressed! I have been celebrating my birthday with an “event” each year, starting with my 30th. Last year, I ran my first half marathon. I’ve been wanting to try a tri, for FOREVER, but like you, can’t swim…well anyway. I’ve been toying with the idea of hiring a private instructor and of course encouraging my kids to not be afraid of the water. I have a very unhealthy fear of the water that I do not want to pass on. I can’t wait to hear how you do and how it goes. Sounds like you have a great support team. Knock it out of the park! You will do awesome!


  • Jo says:

    You are an amazing women, you have soooo much fun, I’m excited for you.It’s gonna be “GREEEAAAAT”!!
    I’ll be cheering you on.

  • Dixie Mom says:

    You can do it!
    And make this one your goal for 45!

  • This is such a great and inspiring post! Good for you and I believe you will have great success and such a feeling of accomplishment. I just turned 52 and this year hold many changes and challenges for me and my family. Number one, get in better shape physically and mentally. Been letting stress rule my life and I am determined not to let that continue. Number 2 prepare to welcome a new member to the family as my son gets married in the fall. Number 3 watch my daughter graduate from college after overcoming so many hurdles, yet persevering. Number 4 go into business with my husband and move across the country to be near our kids (gulp, the biggie). Best of luck and I look forward to reading the “after” version. Ann

  • Frosty says:

    Jen – I’ve told you before, but it bears repeating…I am so stinkin’ proud of you! Conquering your fear is one thing, proclaiming it for all to see (in the form of a tri) is amazing. The example you are setting for your kiddos cannot be measured.

    I think a couple weeks into the “official” training, with a few lake swims under your belt, you will be ready to rock this tri! I’m looking forward to doing this along side you & some other amazing women of God!

    Just keep swimming! (said in the voice of Dory)

  • Sarah says:

    I am so impressed with you. I turtle-trudge swim, and am a nose-plugger. I am terrified of it all… aren’t you an inspiration!!

  • Angie says:

    I got chills reading this!!!! GOOD FOR YOU!!!! I too am turning 40 soon and feeling rather stagnant lately. Certainly not doing anything that would qualify as a “risk taker” situation. I just watched Eat Pray Love yesterday and between that and your blog post- I AM going to do something! Just not sure what 😉 HA!! Good Luck to you!!

  • You are so wise to have gotten a swim coach. So many adults are not confident swimmers and they automatically rule out triathlon. You CAN learn to swim good enough to pull off a tri — just you wait! I won’t lie — it will be the LONGEST 10-15 minutes of your life — but you will live through it! Good for you for stepping to the edge of your comfort zone! Yeeha, girl!

  • I’m having a baby! *gulp* 🙂 Good luck! You’ll rock the Tri!

  • Leah says:

    You are amazing! I have fears that I just can not conquer and you are not only conquering your fears, you are improving yourself. You go girl!

  • 9405018--Pat says:

    You go girl!!!!!GOOD LUCK!

  • Pamela says:

    You are such an inspiration Jennifer! You go girl!!

  • Mesha says:

    SOO SO COOL JEN. I can’t swim either and that’s why I always just ignore the idea of a tri, although I do want to do a duathalon, but NOW, now I’m a bit frustrated with you because I’m thinking that my excuse in now invalid and I must learn and conquer!


  • You are such an inspiration! I can’t swim either and know I need to learn as an example to my kids. I’m the same, refuse to let them learn to swim like me. I know I need to break out of my comfort zone, not just with swimming but trying other new adventures. Would LOVE to zipline. Adam really, really, really wants to try skydiving this year. YIKES!

  • Wonderful!!! You inspire me

  • Kay says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Kay says:

    omg, Jennifer! This is Kay Perret, the decorative painter you contacted a couple of years back when Rose Wilde so kindly featured one of my nightstands in her newsletter. Linked up to this blog a couple of days ago from some other blog I was reading and went through several posts. Loved it. Then this morning I decided to cruise over to see who the talented person writing it is. And it’s you!

    Good luck on the triathlon. And the birthday. I won’t say how many years past 40 I am, but no worries sweetie, the 50s are even better!

    Thanks for this great blog. Here’s mine in case you want to look:

  • Jennifer says:

    I will be a young 42 tomorrow. Its a mind set not an age. You go for it because the only person standing in our way is ourselves. You are an inspiration!

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