Note from Sara: Today’s guest author is Coach Karen Weatherby, the founder and owner of KMW Coaching. She has over 14 years triathlon experience and has been coaching since 2007. She has participated in over 50 triathlons from Sprint to Ironman distance. She is USAT Level I Certified Coach and Certified Personal Trainer and Spin Instructor. She is one of my favorite coaches, an inspiration, and a good friend!
Accomplishing What I Thought Impossible
Driving home this weekend from competing in a Half Ironman (70.3 miles of swimming, biking, and running), I did some serious reflecting on how I started out in the sport of triathlon and how far I’d come. I was fortunate to come home with an award…something I never thought possible. In fact, I thought a lot of things were not possible for me.
In 2000 at age 44, I read an article in Shape magazine that talked about doing a Sprint triathlon relay. A Sprint is the shortest distance of triathlon events and consists of a 1/2 mile swim, a 12 mile bike ride, and a 3 mile run. I had never competed in any type of event before, but I thought it sounded fun and relatively do-able. A relay meant we would share the work, so even easier! I called a couple of friends, and I volunteered to do the swim. Another friend was willing to do the bike and another volunteered for the run.
I was a self-taught swimmer (never had a lesson) and my husband showed me how to turn to breathe and how to do laps in a pool. This was how I became a swimmer.
I planned going to borrow a bike, but when I got on, I was too unstable on it. Six weeks before the race, my husband said, “We are going to buy you a bike.” Off bike shopping we went. These newer bikes were a lot different than the old ten speed I had in my younger years. Suddenly I was a cyclist.
I hadn’t run for years. I had done some casual fitness running when I was younger and it hurt my knees, so I gave it up. I did walk on the treadmill for fitness so I at least had some fitness going into the journey.
Shortly before race day, my friends finked out on me and I ended up doing the Danskin Triathlon myself. Crossing that finish line was one of the happiest, emotional moments I’ve had. Looking back, I see it was a significant event that would shape my future years. I fell in love with the sport..the cross training, the feeling of accomplishment, the challenge, and especially the people I would meet in the sport. I was so enthused by triathlon that I started reading everything I could get my hands on, going to any educational event about it and even went to a triathlon camp.
I remember the head of the camp (my now friend, mentor and sometimes coach) asking me if I ever wanted to do an Ironman. (A full Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run.) I said, “Are you crazy? I could NEVER do that. I can’t even run a 10K, let alone a marathon!” The whole distance of anything more than a Sprint seemed impossible. Doing the Sprint was a stretch in itself. I couldn’t imagine what she was thinking to suggest it.
Years later, I did manage to do that Ironman, have completed over 50 triathlons of various distances, and sometimes have even come home with a medal. I just can’t believe it sometimes still! I also became a triathlon coach. I never thought I could do what I am doing. I had set boundaries in my head of what I couldn’t do. My more experienced triathlon friends encouraged me, educated me, picked me up when I didn’t think I could, and helped me so much along my journey.
The journey has been wonderful and is still one where I have not reached the end. I am blessed with the body I have been given and I use it to glorify God. Sister Madonna Buder (Ironman triathlete and Nun who, at age 76, in 2006 was the oldest woman to ever complete Ironman Hawaii once said, “This is God’s playground, get out there and play in it.” At age 58, I plan to challenge myself as long as this body lets me and I believe that “I can do this!”
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