Watching today’s sprint race has sort of taken me down memory lane: how I first got involved in triathlon. If you feel like reflecting with me, read on.

In February 1997, I decided that I wanted a change in my life.

While in college, I struggled with food. I fluctuated all over the place. I had been as low as 103 pounds while at ODU and I had been as heavy as 127 pounds at Tennessee. At the time, I thought 127 pounds was fat.

In any case, I took two years to myself to “undo” all of the mental, crazy crap that I had been through in school. I broke up with my long time boyfriend to sort of let myself find myself again. It’s hard to figure out who you are at 23 years old when you are in a serious relationship.
In the process of my search in those 2 years, I sort of went crazy with dating, eating, partying, and absolutely NO exercise! It was the best thing in the world for me at the time.

One day, in February 1997, I called my ex-boyfriend from college for advice. I was crying. I told him that I had gained a shit-ton of weight and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing in the mirror. I was embarrassed about how I had let myself “go”. I was so unhealthy. I had been partying a lot…not only was I chubby, but even my skin was bad.

My ex-boyfriend is Lars Jorgensen. He is an Olympian and an Ironman. At the time, in 1997, he was a professional triathlete. He had raced IM Hawaii the year before and broken the swim course record in KONA. No one knew me better than Lars. After all, we had dated for 3 years and had even talked about getting married. I asked him what he thought I should do. I didn’t really want to competitively run again, but I needed to do something. He suggested that I set a goal for myself…maybe do a triathlon. I told him he was crazy. He knew I couldn’t swim. In fact, he had to rescue me once from almost drowning while in San Diego. (I’m not exaggerating). In any case, he told me that I could do it and I believed him. He was someone that I respected and knowing that he believed in me, I believed in myself.

The very next day I called Troy Jacobson. He was a triathlon coach in Baltimore, where I was living. He invited me to join his masters group at Meadowbrook aquatics (where Michael Phelps used to swim). Troy asked me that fateful day what my goals were. My response was to be healthy and have fun. Funny…my goals are still the same!

That was February 1997. My very first triathlon was St. Anthony’s Olympic distance in Florida in April of 1997. I swam 36 minutes, biked 1:08, and I ran 55 minutes. It was truly one of the coolest things that I had ever done.

Being at the sprint today, brought me back to my first triathlon back in 1997. Seeing all of the nervous faces, wondering if they could finish, fretting over how far the swim was going to be. I was that girl 11 years ago. It was truly a cool morning for me, remembering my humble beginnings, while cheering on all of the new folks that have found triathlon.