With any luck (ok, luck and lots of hard work and dedication) in a mere 5 months and 24 days from now, I will have completed my first triathlon. If you know me, there’s about a 80% chance that you’re laughing right now. That’s just a rough percentage, but of all the people I’ve told, only three of them haven’t laughed. One of them was my co-worker Audrey, who, God bless her, is going to be my guide throughout this journey to triathlete status. She does not think it’s funny, is excited to help me train, and scares me daily by saying things like “We’ll definitely have to practice our transitions” and “Let’s run a 5k to see what we need to work on”. I know what I need to work on- everything- and think a 5k will just scare me, so I have picked a St. Patrick’s Day run that ends at a bar.
Conversely, the people who thought it was funniest were my parents. Now, before I say anything else I have to say that my parents are very loving and supportive people who have always been behind me 100% and always will be. And, to give their laughter credit, I do see the humor in it. I probably haven’t run since my gym teacher forced me to in school (where, by the way, I once failed the physical fitness test because I ran the mile too slow, and had to re-run it. I’m not sure if I passed the second time or if they just didn’t want to watch me try to do it again). The last time I rode a bike I was 12, and even then I was taking a leisurely ride on my teal and pink bike through the neighborhood to hang out with friends. While I’m a comfortable swimmer, my aquatic history features mostly games of Marco Polo, creating whirlpools and lying on a raft with a book.
By my own admission, I am not an athlete and have taken to telling everyone that the athletic genes passed down from my parents skipped me and all went to my brother, a former Division 2 football player and member of the track team who has won more awards than I can remember, meaning he doesn’t just play but he’s good. While looking through our childhood scrapbooks one day not too long ago, we came across numerous field day awards in my brother’s book- all first place awards, naturally. Maybe he once finished 2nd in the , but that doesn’t really mean anything since you’re inhibited by a giant burlap sack. After flipping through my book for a bit, I finally spotted an award ribbon. Triumphantly pulling it out with a loud proclamation “Aha! I did win an award!”, I flipped it over and realized it was a participation award. You know, the ones they give to kids so they don’t feel bad about not actually winning anything.
Growing up, I hated gym class so much that remembering the feeling makes me a little panicky even right now. You do not want me on your team for any type of sport, unless it is badminton, the only “sport” in which I can pretty much hold my own. In high school they started a girls field hockey team- I went to the first meeting and realized I wasn’t fooling anyone and never went back. Organized sports make me nervous. Running makes me feel like I have suddenly forgotten how to breathe and am not sure how to consciously make the effort. Biking for non-social reasons is foreign to me. Swimming in a lake makes me think of the fish at the summer camp I used to go to that bit everyone’s toes, and that totally creeps me out.
So, now you see why my parent’s laughter when they hear I’m going to be in a triathlon is not uncalled for. They just know me really well. After chuckling softly for a few seconds, my dad looked at me and said very seriously “You do know there’s running involved in that, right?” I responded that yes, I knew what I was in for. He thought for a second and said “But we hate running.” And it’s true- neither my dad nor I are the type to go for a morning run, unless it’s a coffee run, which of course doesn’t actually involve running. And ultimately, my parents are just thinking what everyone else who knows me is thinking- why in the world did you decide to do a triathlon?