By Stef Walthour
Famous Last Words:
“I will never do a triathlon.”
“I will never do a 70.3.”
“I surely will never do a 140.6.”
Well, never say never ‘cause I made all of those claims from 2011-2014, and I completed all of my “nevers!” I guess I will never say “never” again. Is that possible? NEVER!
I never wanted to do a triathlon. About 9 months after meeting Henry (my now husband) and seeing him participate in a Half Ironman and a few sprints, I decided to do my first triathlon with only 4 weeks to train. The race was Sweetwater Super Sprint in 2011. This race was only 200 a yard swim, roughly a 10 mile bike, and a 5k run.
Henry gave me a training plan for four weeks and said, “Good luck, Baby.” I knew this wasn’t my smartest idea, but I just wanted to see if I would like this sport and decide if I want to do another one or just say ‘one and done’.”
Henry and I got to Sweetwater Park just as the gates opened. This race was a small race, so I didn’t even have a bike rack. I placed my bike on the ground against a tree I found. This race was so different from what I had seen before because I started the bike at one location and finished in another. So now, I have to put my running stuff in a different place than my swim and bike stuff, and I’m already confused and
flustered! Once everything was set up, my nerves really started to go into “overdrive.”
200 yards – that’s it – 200 yards! How hard can it be? I had in my mind that I have done 200 yards many times before in the pool for training, so this won’t be too bad, right? WRONG! I got in the water and
started to swim. When I got about 25 yards in, I felt as if I couldn’t breathe. People were kicking. I stopped at the first buoy and sat there for a minute and then went to the second one. When I tried to stop, someone swam on top of me. I thought, “Just try to get out of the water alive.” When I finally got out of the water, I just wanted this whole race to be over, but I still have to ride and run.
I got to my bike and my feet were hurting from running on gravel to get there. I had placed a towel near my bike, so I could stop for about 2 minutes to dry off my feet and get my cycling shoes on. Again, someone was yelling at me to “come on and stop being so slow!” WHO IS THIS PERSON YELLING AT ME? Finally, I got on the bike and felt as if I were as fast as lightening. Eventually I saw Henry. He was almost done with the bike. Now, I really just wanna stop pedaling. After what felt like forever, my bike was done. When I went up the last hill, I saw my parents cheering me on. Yay!
At last, it was time to go do this 5k run. All I kept on saying to myself is “I HATE RUNNING, but if you aren’t going to run well, at least look cute walking.” I started to run for a few feet, and my shins were
hurting, my Achilles were killing me (which is why I hate running), and I realized this race is going to be a l-o-n-g 5k. I was thankful that a friend of mine was also doing the race and was nice enough to do it with me. We ran a little and walked A LOT, but finally after 1:25 minutes, we finished.
After the race was over and I had finished whining, I thought, “I think I want to do this race and others again.” Since that race, I have done close to 12 sprints, 4 Half Ironman races, and 1 Ironman distance race. I’m still not fast on the run, but I am running more than a few steps as I did at my first race. I love this sport because I am able to see my improvement over the years.
NEVER say “Never.” You’ll never know what you’ll do after. Special shout out to my family. I am fortunate to have my parents support me in the majority of my races, Since I am slower than my husband, I am able to see my parents and husband cheering and smiling at me every time I cross the finish line. They always say they are “so proud of me.” Shucks, I am proud of my parents for following me around the world and standing on their feet to be my support crew from sprint to 140.6.