I can still remember the day I met Colleen Fossett at a spin class at Future Fitness.  It was the first week of April, 2010 and winter was getting me down.  I was looking to redirect my energies to a new fitness goal.  I was sitting in the class and this girl was sitting next to me and we started chatting.  She told me that a few of her friends had started a triathlon club for women and she told me I should join.  My initial reaction was “Are you crazy?  Look at me!  I was in marching band, not sports!”  I always wanted to be an athlete.  I’d look at all the people in high school on track, softball, tennis, etc and I’d be secretly jealous that they were so fit.  My husband, Brian loves to exercise and be outdoors.  Running, biking, tennis, you name it.  Back in the day, I begrudgingly went to Wissahickon Drive and Kelly Drive and rode my bike in the early, pre-kids part of our marriage and attempted to be athletic.  However, I could only go about 5 miles on the bike or a half-mile jogging before I’d poop out.

When I first moved to Woolwich, Brian and I went out on a bike ride .We were heading down Kings Highway and my mind wandered for a split second and my tires went into the railroad grooves and I flipped over my handlebars.  Needless to say, that was my last time on my bike………….until I met Colleen.  She inspired me to get back on my bike and get over my fear of falling off again.  My kids were almost 5 and 3 and they would soon be riding bikes themselves.  I couldn’t let them know that I was scared or else they would never get on a bike.  So, I borrowed my husband’s old mountain bike, because I felt safer on the thicker tires. I’m happy to say that I didn’t fall.  I’m still slightly hesitant when I ride (especially going downhill) but I can do it.  So, check one, I could ride a bike.  That’s one-third of the triathlon. 

Next, let’s discuss running.  I ran my first 5K prior to joining the tri club.  Of course, running is a relative term, given that it took me 40 minutes to finish. I like to call my version of running a “wog”, in between a walk and a jog.  So I did the Dragon Run in Swedesboro and I came in second.  Second to last, that is.  But, I finished, and I figured I did better than all the people that were still in bed that morning! So I knew I could do the 5K.  If you are keeping track, that is now two-thirds of a triathlon. 

Onto the swim.  Unlike most first-time triathletes, I wasn’t worried about the swim.  Mostly because it’s pretty easy to be calm when you swim with your head above water.  Not the most efficient way to do it, but it gets the job done.  I decided to do the Splash and Dash before SheROX last year in Marlton Lakes with my fellow MHWTC member, Colleen Cassidy.  I completed the swim, keeping my head above water the whole time.  My neck hurt for a week after the Splash and Dash.  So, I had to learn in roughly 3 weeks how to swim with my head in the water prior to SheROX.  But completing the Splash and Dash gave me the confidence that I could now do all three events separately. The real test would be doing them together. 

August 1st was a gorgeous day.  The weather gods were good to us initially for the swim and the rivercast was green!  Colleen Cassidy and I jumped in the water in the buddy wave and we were off.  It wasn’t an easy task, but I ultimately did SheROX with my head in the beautiful Schuylkill river.  Next up was the bike.  I jumped on the mountain bike and rode the double loop course.  The weather was starting to get dark, but I wasn’t worried.  Until the rain started.  I was about 3 miles from the end of the bike portion when it started raining.  As a person who was consistently riding about 12 mph throughout tri season (due to my HUGE fear of falling off my bike), I was riding 22 mph for the last 3 miles of that race due to yet another fear of getting struck by lightning.  As I pulled in into transition from the bike, I heard my name.  I looked up, and in the pouring rain was my husband, both my kids and my parents.  That was the biggest surprise and just what I needed to get through the very wet run portion of the 5K.  There is nothing better than having friends and family there for you during these events.  Due to a nagging IT band injury, I ended up walking a good portion of the 5K.  But as I finished the last quarter mile, I saw my family again at the finish line.  My kids came running out to me and we all ran and crossed the finish line together.  I was wet, exhausted and thrilled to be able to call myself a triathlete.  Brian caught the bug and we decided to “tri” the Marlton Lakes triathlon a month later.  He loved it and we are both signed up to do it again this year. 

Being fit is a great feeling, but the thing that I liked most of all about joining the tri club was the opportunity to meet over a hundred new women in the greater Gloucester County area.  It’s hard to make friends sometimes as an adult, and this club gave me a chance to meet some really great women.  During the offseason, I talked about the tri club to a few of my friends.  Three of my friends ended up joining, Christine Venuti (last week’s blogger), Barbara Kappler and Marla Curran.

            This year, I transitioned to a new road bike (love my red Dolce) and I can’t believe I ever rode a mountain bike. Since I will never be a running speed demon, I decided to go for endurance and I completed the Broad Street Run alongside my fellow MHWTC triathlete and training partner, Marla Curran.  Our race, the Queen of the Hill, was by far my best triathlon for all 3 events.  SheROX started well, but I was one of the many that got a flat tire.  But, I was still able to finish.  Still on the calendar of events this year are the Marlton Lakes triathlon, the Dragon Run in Swedesboro (where I am pushing myself to try and finish in 35 minutes or less), the End Duchenne Bike Tour in Woolwich and Run the Bridge.  On the wish list for next year are a half-marathon and an Olympic triathlon.

I have met even more amazing women this year than I did last year. All this training helped me to lose over 35 pounds since January 2011 and I now have the energy needed to keep up with my kids and my husband. I feel so much better about myself than I did 18 months ago.  So I guess this band geek is somewhat of an athlete.  I don’t need to finish first, I just need to finish.  Thanks to all the ladies in pink that keep me motivated when I really need it.

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