In 2001, I worked with a woman who had a picture on her desk. The picture was her husband crossing the finish line of an Ironman triathlon. I had heard of a triathlon at Hannah Park but I did not completely understand how it worked, and had no idea what we did with our bikes while we swam and ran. Seemed like fun, but intimidating. I forgot about it for several years until a friend was telling me how much fun they were and that I should try one and that I could do it no problem. At this point I swam leisurely; mountain biked at Hannah Park, and ran occasionally with my dog. I was not convinced I could do a triathlon.
The next year, in 2005 after completing my first Gate River Run, I decided to do it. I signed up for my first triathlon. I practiced swimming at UNF pool and was happy to be doing 600-800 yards. I rode the entire 30 mile Baldwin Rail Trail on my Cannondale mountain bike and I would run 3-4 miles. But I was still very confused about how the transitions worked, what I needed to bring and what to wear.
So I did my research and visited Scott Summey at Open Road Bicycles. Already loving mountain biking for many years, it was an easy decision to add a road bike to the mix. Luckily, my dad helped me finance “Baby Blue”. I was so excited to have a new “Specialized” road bike but was terrified to ride on the road; so I joined a few group rides which helped me feel more comfortable adjusting from trails to road.
My next step was to join the Hammerhead Triathlon Club. I was shocked at how friendly and welcoming everyone was. I had every question answered and then some. I went to the first BFAST triathlon at Mickler’s Landing to watch the race and see for myself how the race worked and learn what to expect.
Finally, Saturday June 11, and I am so excited for race day. I am wearing my new tri suit, set up my transition and walk to the beach…to find out the swim was cancelled. My first triathlon turned into a Duathlon; run-bike-run. I spent a lot of time in the pool for naught but I had a blast.
I was completely hooked and completed 2 more sprint triathlons, an off road X Terra and an Olympic triathlon that year. Now, ten years later, I still love this sport; however, I would never have stayed with it as lon g as I have without the amazing people in the triathlon community that welcomed me into this sport. Now as a coach, I get to relive the love, and anxiety, over and over with new clients. I love watching them grow into endurance athletes and introducing to them to the community that I have become so attached to. Because after the hours, sweat, pain and miles; what truly makes a triathlon great, is the people and friendships that come along with them.