We’re not iron-women. We’re not life-long “jocks.” We are fitness friends and training partners who met at Woman’s Center for Wellness several years ago.
After managing to avoid formal exercise for most of my adult life (with good intentions of doing better of course), I finally got a chance for redemption in 2012 when my husband gave me a membership to Woman’s for my 65th birthday. For years, every time we drove by the club, I said “I’m going to join one of these days.” Raising three daughters and teaching piano to 50 or more students had kept me too busy, but I was gradually cutting back on my teaching at that point, and the time had come!
As I tried more and more exercise classes and loyally visited the machines upstairs, my friends teased me mercilessly. My mantra had always been “why run if you can walk, and why sweat if air conditioning is available.” Nancy and I were in NIA class together and I learned that she was training for the Rocketchix mini-triathlon. Almost on a dare, I began to think about training with her. Until that point, NIA and Zumba Gold were my only cardio workouts.
The first time I got in the pool, I could barely get across doing freestyle. I reached the other end panting like crazy and looking for the ladder. Nancy and I began swimming regularly— once or twice a week— and when we got up to 500 yards (10 laps) without cheating (no backstroke, definitely no sidestroke, no hanging on the lane ropes) we thought we were really something! We gradually built up over the next six to eight months, until we were actually swimming a mile of freestyle (36 laps back and forth)! We were so excited—high-fiving, cheering and really full of ourselves!
Unfortunately, I had a bad experience at Rocketchix. My allergies kicked in BIG TIME, my throat closed up completely, and I had to withdraw. But Nancy completed the race (hurray!!) and we kept training. We realized that what was important to us wasn’t winning or placing, but just staying at that level of fitness. So we devised a plan to hold our own mini-tri INSIDE. The facilities at Woman’s are perfect! We set a date and determined our distances: 500 yard swim (10 laps back and forth), 6 mile bike, 2 mile run. We selected a time when we knew the pool would be pretty empty (so we could have two lanes). We used the stationary bikes upstairs (the ones that track time and distance), and we walked/jogged/ran on the upstairs track. While we had some target times in mind, we agreed that our goal was just to finish. We practiced using (inexpensive) waterproof stopwatches in the pool. The same watches timed our run.
No race is complete without T-shirts and medals, so we designed our own. We came up with a logo and a name: The TRI-namic Duo. I created iron-on transfers on my computer, and we found cheap T-shirts at Michael’s. The trophy store used our logo to make medals for us with matching ribbons. We made little booklets to keep track of our finishing times, and we were ready to go!
The day of our first race was perfect: no one else in the pool, no one on the stationary bikes, and we were 100% pumped! We had a great time, laughed a lot, and were so proud of ourselves. We logged our times in our booklets and presented one another with medals in the Woman’s Center for Wellness lobby. And took selfies, of course! To celebrate, we went to Zumba Gold afterwards and showed off our T-shirts and medals.
As the next race approached (four months later), we agreed that we would not try to beat our times, but just focus on finishing. While our continuing training is keeping us strong and fit, we’re realistic about the aging process (I’ll be 69 soon). Our overall finish times were almost identical to the first race, so we were thrilled! We added pin-on stars to our medal ribbons and did the celebration ritual again. Next race is coming up in 2 1/2 months (we have to schedule around the due dates of grandchildren), so it’s time to get on those bikes!
Bottom line: having a goal and a training partner are the keys to success. Feeling accountable to one another keeps us on track. I haven’t been this fit in decades, and I feel great!!
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