I work full time.  I have 4 busy little boys under 8 years old.  I have no time to myself.  I have no time for the gym.  I have no shortage of excuses when it comes to exercising.  To be honest, I have never worked out on a regular basis for more than a 3-month stretch in my life.  I have never played organized sports, and I am very clumsy.  Gym was my least favorite class in school.

The MHWTC was introduced to me last year by my friend and fellow member, Traci Hoolahan.  She encouraged me to join, but that same week I found out that I was pregnant with our fourth child.  While triathlons sounded like fun, I figured it wouldn’t be a good time to start intense exercise.  See, another excuse!  Last summer was the hottest on record, not a fun time for a pregnant woman.  I didn’t go outside.  I was always tired.  I couldn’t keep up with the kids.   And I was really starting to get tired of making excuses.

Then I started meeting the women in the Tri Club around town.  Women with all different levels of athletic ability.  Women who are all supportive of local businesses, charities, and especially one another.  Then I found out another close friend of mine, Heather Scheckner, was a member, and she encouraged me to join too.  Wow, exercising could be social, too!
So I joined the Tri Club this January.  I didn’t plan on actually doing a triathlon this year.  I figured I would just take my time getting in shape and learning about triathlons from the other members.  Maybe I would go and cheer the ladies at the finish line.  Besides, the club even supported a good cause!

Shortly after the season kickoff meeting at Carolina Blue, that cause hit home for me.  My mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  I spent time going with her to several doctor’s visits, hospital visits, chemotherapy infusion visits, and in the back of my mind all along, I knew I had run out of excuses – I was going to do a triathlon this year and raise money for ovarian cancer awareness and cure.  No one should have to go through what my mom and so many other wonderful women have gone through.

I joined the gym.  That was a huge step for me – I swore years ago that I would never join a gym again, because I never use it!  Then I actually started to go, just twice a week – baby steps.  Each time I went I increased my distance on the treadmill, and within a month I was able to go 3.1 miles.  I was so proud of myself that I registered for a 5K in March – just to see what it was like.  I’ll tell you what it was like – it was like 28 degrees that day!  And Traci wanted to kill me for dragging her out in the cold with me.  But I finished, and it gave me such a rush that I started to add swimming to my running routine.  I registered for a swim class.  The most important thing I learned in that class was that I had no idea what I was doing and that swimming was really hard!  So I started swimming more, determined to learn how to swim.  I started to feel great – I had a lot more energy, and my stress level was down.  Most importantly, I was really having fun!

I haven’t been on a bike in at least 15 years.  I didn’t even know what a road bike was.  I started to do research and broke down and bought a bike.  And after riding that new bike twice (yes, twice), I decided to register for the Riverwinds triathlon, just to see if I could do it.  Everyone said it was a perfect tri for beginners!  It was windy and freezing cold, but I got up at the crack of dawn, set up my transition area and jumped in the pool.  I didn’t have to stop at the end of a lap to catch my breath this time.  And I heard someone else in the club yelling, “Go Christine!”  No one ever cheered me on in a sport before!  Those two words got me through the entire bike ride.  Then I started to run, and there was Colleen with her camera with more words of encouragement.  While I ran, countless women with MHWTC shirts yelled over to me, “good job!”  I finished it – and it was so fun!  That’s when the addiction began.  I registered for Queen of the Hill and SheRox, and even registered for the Bridgeton Tri at the last minute, “just to get one last one in before SheRox”.

I began to observe the other triathletes.  What inspiring people!  I will never forget how everyone stopped to cheer the little 79 year-old man as he ran across the finish line at the Bridgeton Tri.  My eyes welled up with tears as I saw a blind woman jump on her bike at SheRox.  The woman who ran past me whose hair was just growing back after finishing chemotherapy was absolutely amazing!  I have been moved and inspired by so many people this year – who was I to make up so many excuses not to work out?

My family has been affected positively by my new interest too.  My husband has been so supportive of me – he has walked miles with all four kids to see me cross the finish line with “Go, Mommy!”  and “Duh, Winning!” posters in hand.  I overhear him bragging to other people, “My wife is a triathlete!”  My children want to play outside more. They want to play more sports. My 8-year old likes to go running with me, and is bugging me to take him on a long bike ride.  He wants to do a triathlon too!

I would just like to thank every single MHWTC woman who ever offered words of encouragement during a run or a bike – you all got me through this season.  Mostly, thank you to Traci and Heather for convincing me to tri! This year has been a whirlwind.   If any of you told me that I would be here today, writing a blog about my experiences with 4 triathlons under my belt I would have said you were crazy.

Yesterday, my mom finished her last cycle of chemotherapy, and she has done well.  I can only pray that the efforts of groups like ours will help to increase awareness and save more women, including my mom.  I’m all out of excuses!  And I’m officially addicted!  Who knows what’s in store for next year?  Will I overcome my anxiety and get clipless pedals?  Will I attempt an Olympic?  All I know is that one day I want to be that little 79 year-old running across the finish line as everyone stops to cheer.

4 thoughts on “I didn’t plan on doing a triathlon this year, but…. by Christine Venuti

  1. Great post, brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing! So glad you joined the club!!

  2. Even before you started to tri I have always known you are an incredible woman – balancing work, family, & friends seemingly effortlessly (my god, you even made 100 chocolate lollipops by hand for Luke’s christening!) and always with a smile on your face. So I wasn’t surprised at all by your success this tri season – especially when you beat me every time even though I was the “vet”! Your drive and perseverance are truly inspiring, Christine. Yes, even inspiring enough to drag me out to a below-freezing 5k and almost equally windy and chilly Riverwinds Tri. I think it’s safe to say the “mentor” has become the “mentee”! Love ya!

  3. I had chills reading this–thanks for sharing! I’ll say a prayer for your mom.

    -Jayne Gandy

  4. Great post. I was really inspired by your story. I am completely confident that after all you’ve accomplished this year clip less pedals will be laughably easy for you. Keep up the great work. I wish your mom all the best.

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