Can I do a triathlon?

This was the thought that went through my head when I saw the message my best friend who had just completed her first Half Ironman, had sent me. It was a post for a 10-week beginner triathlon course with a group called TriChicks, a Melbourne based female-only training squad. I was intrigued and clicked on their page, then spent the next 15 minutes scrolling through photos and videos of women training, racing and above all laughing! Without giving myself too much time to think about it, I signed up and finalised my spot in a group that would change my life irrevocably.

‘Exercise’ was not a word anyone would associate with me throughout my life – while I enjoyed playing sports, I hated running. When I was 25 I returned from a year in England and a year of bad habits, which I happily continued with in Australia. Overindulging in unhealthy food and alcohol, along with sitting on my backside for a year saw my weight creep up and up. At my heaviest, I tipped the scales at 104 kgs which was a real eye-opener and forced me to admit I had to change. Hard work and better eating habits saw me lose 10 kgs of that weight, then a move to Melbourne with a friend lead to a further 10 kgs coming off.

As elated as I was, I felt like I was stuck in a rut and grew tired of gyms and forcing myself to go out for runs by myself. So when I saw the fun the girls were having on the TriChicks page, I thought to myself “what do I have to lose?” and secured my place in the course. As the information night drew closer I felt nervous and excited – would the other girls be nice? Would I be the biggest girl in the course? Could I really do this? At the end of the information night, after meeting the rest of the group and hearing the passion the TriChicks founder and head coach Amy spoke with, the answer to all of those questions was yes. Yes – the girls were super nice. Yes – I was the biggest girl in the course. And yes – I could do this.

 

The next 10 weeks saw me push myself outside of my comfort zones, try new things and meet new people. I learnt how to change a bike tyre, what a brick session was, how to set up a transition area properly and partook in open water swims. There was laughter and tears with a group who knew exactly how I felt, because hey – they were going through the same thing with me. It was easier to get myself out of bed and go out for a run or a ride if I was meeting up with others, and the brunch at the end of the session was a big motivator as well!

Before I knew it, 10 weeks had passed and the day of our very first sprint distance triathlon (750m swim, 20Km ride, 5Km run) was upon us. The day was a blur of nerves blending into excitement with adrenaline pumping. Every photo of me shows a giant smile on my face, which sums up the whole day perfectly. By the end, I wasn’t the fastest, but I’m pretty sure I was the happiest! Crossing the line with my TriChicks Tribe and loved ones cheering me on was one of the best moments of my life, one that I’ll remember forever.

However, it wasn’t only my TriChicks Tribe and loved ones who gave me encouragement. I have found the triathlon community as a whole to be so supportive and encouraging. I had strangers telling me to keep going whilst out on the run leg. During training on my very first ride on my new road bike in wet conditions, I had a runner who was able to keep pace with me up the hills who gave me advice and support (keep off the white lines! Go into your easy gears! You can do it!). I even felt at ease during open water swims as there were little Nippers training at the same time and I had complete faith they would rescue me if I needed it.

So, if you’re thinking about doing a triathlon but something in you says “I can’t do that”, just add the word ‘YET’ to the end. I can’t do triathlons ‘YET’. Because with the support of a tribe like the TriChicks and the triathlon community, you can and you will!

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