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I competed in my second triathlon last weekend. I actually signed up for it about 2 weeks before I even competed in my first triathlon. I was having a moment of panic thinking “what in the heck am I doing?/who do I think I am kidding?/surely I will die on this swim” and saw it as an opportunity to sucker-punch my fears. Several of my friends were signing up for this Olathe Medical Center triathlon….so I did too.



The weather in KC has been unseasonably cool lately. So, I began to freak out about the cold water temps. I considered for a fraction of a minute dropping out……but I am a commitment kind of girl and I had committed to this.

In the middle of my race, I started thinking about how fanatical my thinking is during triathlons. My mind jumps at random from one topic to the next. I levitate mentally between “I am gonna quit” and “I am gonna kick some butt” . First veering in one direction, then leaning towards the other.


I constantly have to continue reigning in my thoughts. Other more “serious” athletes may be focusing only a the competition at hand, but my mind wanders to a jillion different things.

It occurred to me in the middle of the bike that I should blog about it. Not to convince you I am nuts….but to convince you that some women like myself…….who do crazy things like triathlons and half marathons …..many of us are just DOING IT AFRAID!!!!!

So here are my thoughts….in no random order.



We took a few pictures before the tri and I am thinking we are insane for doing this in 52 degree weather.


I see a woman in her tri outfit and UGG boots and I think she is a genius for wearing Uggs to keep her feet warm before competing.


I use the restroom for the 5th time and hope that is it!


We had a ten minute fog delay in which I was thinking….wweet….maybe they will delay it longer. Maybe they will cancel it all together and I will get out of this competition!


Then thinking…..quit delaying the inevitable and let’s get the pain on the road!

I saw many dads with their young children there early in the morning. One child as young as just a few months old. I marvelled at how supportive those husbands were and how courageous those women competing were!




I think, if we end up adopting a baby….my “season” for competing may be over for awhile. And that will just have to be ok.


One of my bffs showed up BEFORE 7:00….an hour from our homes….with her 2 sleepy eyed kiddos…just to cheer us on. I am thinking….that’s friendship.


I laid out a tank, a short sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt in my transition area for the bike. A woman needs options. I wonder what I will wear????


Then I needed to think about the swim.


This tri started according to age which, in my opinion, is a crap way to organize the women. So, being fab at 40…..I was with other fab women aged 40 -44….but some of which had swam all of their life.


The lifeguard who started every heat of swimmers told us there were “plenty of lifeguards on the swim route”. Ug…….not true. Her definition of “plenty” and mine were totally different. I saw 4 lifeguards in the 500+ yards I swam…..not enough, especially in the dense fog and freezing water. It became quickly obvious to me that if I got into trouble on the swim (via hyperventilating or cramps) that I would need to flail LOUDLY AND VIOLENTLY to be seen.


That same precious lifeguard tried to also encourage us swimmers at the start line by saying “Olathe’s Search and Rescue underwater divers are on hand in this swim”. So what I heard was……”if you drown, we will eventually find you”. NOT ENCOURAGING. I know she meant well. Bless her heart.


72 degree lake water is FRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGIIIIIIIDDDD to swim in.




But it actually was ok after the first 75 yards or so, I promise.


A new age group of women started to swim every 5 minutes. Women from the 2 heats behind me eventually caught up with me and passed me. I was thinking…..cusswords.


The lake was full of seaweed. I would touch it and think….just keep swimming, just keep swimming.


During my swim, I passed ONE woman. And she was back floating. That totally made up for me getting passed by a back floater on my last triathlon. Yet, part of me wanted to stop and swim with that woman. She needed the moral support and i sooooooo get that.


As I got out of the water, I was thinking YES….I DIDN’T DROWN!!!!!!!


And also thinking, I don’t ever have to do that again if I don’t want to.


And I saw my fellow triathlete Jackie on the sidelines taking pictures. She got benched from the tri the day before with a back issue . I looked at her and thought “suck it up….I am healthy…..get to my bike”.


I have NEVER seen hills as steep as on this bike ride. Didn’t God make the earth flat??????


I biked past a woman that I guessed to be in her 60’s. I encouraged her and told her I thought we were both rockstars. I loved her response …..”well….we are miles ahead of all the people who stayed in bed this morning”. What a mindset!


On one hill, I seriously thought I was going to have to walk my bike up the hill. It was that steep. And all I could think of was “this is stupid. I intentionally am putting myself thru an hour and a half of being uncomfortable on purpose”.


And I wondered if I should switch to clipless pedals over the winter.

I also remembered there was a woman competing in the tri who was in a wheelchair and I had nothing to complain about it. If she can do it, I can quit whining and keep pedaling.

I saw a lady holding a small, handpicked bouquet of wildflowers on her run. I know it must have been given to her sometime during the run by her young children. It was precious and made me miss my kiddos being there.

All throughout the bike and the run we got to see gorgeous sunflowers….Kansas’ state flower. The run on this course was amazing.

Why did my right leg tingle and go numb on the entire 3.1 mile run? Probably normal….but in my head I was thinking I may never walk again.


During this run, I thought “forget it….this will be my last tri. It’s just too hard”. But today is a new day and I will doing this again next summer.


I started to think….I could just walk. No one would even know if I began to walk. Then had to remind myself…I don’t walk. Keep running!!!!

Why can’t I catch that girl in the pink shirt ahead of me?????? I followed her the entire run and she beat me by about 10 seconds. Good for her!

I was trying to break 30 minutes which is very doable for me if I haven’t just swam a 1/3 mile and biked 10.5. As I rounded the last corner, my friend Shauna was screaming at me to sprint. I wanted to punch her.




I missed my goal time by 10 seconds. GRRRRRRRRRRRR.



My husband has never missed a single race of mine. He loves me thru every competition with training and carb dinners and handling the kids and taking pictures and being my #1 supporter. He had the opportunity to go camping with a group of men from our church this weekend, and I encouraged him to do that. It was the right thing to do and yet I missed seeing him at the finish line.

We got “official” results from the race that night. I was so disappointed in my finish. It was 3 minutes slower than my first triathlon.


Then I had to break it down. This bike was much harder and over a half mile longer. I ran a half minute faster, but it was the swim that killed me.


I placed 311th out of 316 women on the swim portion of the tri. That means only 5 women were slower than I was. Ya know how you always hope you won’t be last? Well I was almost last. And I thought I had swam so much stronger than I did at my first tri….but my time was a minute slower.


I told my husband how bummed I was and I was reminded of why God chose him to be my husband. He is exactly what I need. He pointed out the most precious thing to me. My overall placing for the tri was 211th of 316. That means I ended up passing 100 women on the bike and run to come in 211th when I was seated 311th after swimming. He was so right!!!!!!! Instead of focusing on what I didn’t do….I need to focus on remembering what I did do!!!!



So over the course of this week, I have tried to remember why I run and why I am doing triathlons.


I am a grown woman still fighting a fear of water, but at least I am staring it in the face.




I am a woman who still doesn’t enjoy exercise, but enjoys my favorite jeans fitting so knows this will need to be my lifestyle forever.


I am a mom who wants my kids to see that exercise is fun and a lifestyle and a commitment.


I’m not trying to win and I’m not even in competition really with other women…I am racing against myself and the fears that have tried to define me.






After the race, one of my bff’s texted me to see how it went. I told her” it was hard, but good”. I loved her response….”if it were EASY…..everyone would be doing it”. She is so right.


And I love the saying one of my tri coaches put on FB this week:


“Most people never get there. They’re afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not constantly demanding more from yourself—expanding and learning as you go—you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip”. -Dean Karnazes

In my head right now…..I am just trying to enjoy the ride.




  • Your post, yet again, brought tears to my eyes. I’ve been there…wanting to quit with every step. Our children are watching us, they see the determination and drive that we have. I pray that especially our daughters will see the strong women we are and will follow in our footsteps! You amaze me. One day I will make it to Kansas City and we will run together!!!

  • Melissa says:

    Great and INSPIRING post…for everything in life. Thanks!

  • Holy Craft says:

    Girl you rock! I totally needed this post today as I prepare for my 3rd (gulp) half marathon this Sunday. I haven’t run in 6 weeks due to a knee injury and was going to bail on the whole thing all together. But like you, I made the commitment and I was going to do it. I may not get the time I want, but I will be doing it. Even if it, requires me to bail out at the 10k mark. I teared up when you mentioned the woman with her flowers running…I just love the support that our families give us as moms to get out there and do it. Good for you for getting out there to do it! I’m so inspired by you!


  • I felt like I was right there with you! What a marvelous post… Man, I’ve forgotten what a rush/kick in the pants those tris were until I read this.

    I can’t even imagine doing that right now — it seems like a different life.

    Of course, I’ll join you once again when it is my season. Luckily, there will always be races.

    For now, it’s baby time. 🙂

  • LisaMende says:

    Good for you Jennifer! I have never done a tri but have always wanted to! You go girl!

  • Awesome post Jennifer! You are such an inspiration!! Keep it up! I know your family is so proud of you and what a role model you are for your daughter 🙂

    I can see the both of you competing together one day…would that not be AWESOME!!

    Can’t wait to read that post!

    Lou Cinda

  • Gypsy Heart says:

    I say, “Bravo!” I cannot swim, have a fear of water and cannot even begin to imagine biking UP a hill as you described. I think you’re brave and have certainly set a “do” not try example for your kids.

    Rock on, sister!

  • Gypsy Heart says:

    I say, “Bravo!” I cannot swim, have a fear of water and cannot even begin to imagine biking UP a hill as you described. I think you’re brave and have certainly set a “do” not try example for your kids.

    Rock on, sister!

  • Steph C says:

    What an inspiring post!! It must be a Beeson thing because I have huge fear of water and have always wanted to swim …but it’s amazing the hold fear can have! I’m trying to put a brave foot forward to sign up for lessons! Congrats on your 2nd tri!!

  • Korrie@RedHenHome says:

    Congratulations to you on a PHENOMENAL race! Your courage in just *competing* is inspiring. Way to go!

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