This is the Kind to Get

Linda Edwards, Writer

An Accidental Triathlete

Mary and July taught me to believe. Mary helped me run my first 30 minutes and July trained with me for my first half marathon.

A reformed couch potato, I started to run in my 40s, thanks to a walk to run clinic offered by a supportive group of women in the Pioneer Valley Women’s Running Club.

It changed my life. I was moving. Running. Taking a walk. Going for a bike ride.

Sweating with my running buddies is different than sweating by myself. We talk and laugh and cry and laugh and talk some more – while getting in our miles. The lame birthday gift from a husband. The grief from the loss of a loved one. The challenging behavior of a teenager. And yes, the shock and fear surrounding a medical diagnosis. Nothing is off limits. And nothing is shared with others outside the group.

A few months before I turned 50, my friend Donna said, “When I turned 50, I did my first tri. We’ll train together. It will be fun.”

The training and race conditions challenged me. I was not a strong swimmer. I couldn’t figure out how to breathe without getting a nose full of water. My strokes were jerky. I was slow. But I kept at it.

Me, with my training buddies (l-r) Renee, Laurie, Donna, and Mary, at my first triathlon.

That first race included a half mile swim, a 12-mile bike ride, and a 3.1 mile run. I got kicked during the swim, had a flat tire during the bike portion, and discovered that “a nice flat run” obviously meant something different to the race organizers. But I finished. And I have finished lots of races since.

My badass self.

Hanging out with people who challenge each other brought out the athlete in me. It’s brought out the badass in me. I’ve swam a half-mile across the pond. And back. I’ve biked 30-milers and know why Hoo Ha Ride Glide is a critical training tool. I’ve run 10-mile training runs and hid water bottles in the bushes to retrieve along the way. I know chemotherapy will be difficult. It will be a challenge. I’ve dealt with difficult. I’ve overcome challenges. I’ve got this!