The Most Important Part of any Race is Deciding to Cross the Starting Line

Alex Coffin

“Did you hear what Allie is doing? It’s like she’s a whole new person!”

I have heard that self-transformation is often the act of pulling back the curtain on a part of yourself that you have kept hidden. It is not a new identity. It is just more of yourself out in the open.

You may have been scared to expose this secret to the world due to fear of embarrassment. You may have doubted that this part of you even existed.

People think that everyone wants to be stronger and fitter, but it is often much more complicated than that. There are time pressures. There are social pressures. Even your closest allies may not be supportive of certain goals.

“Did you hear what Allie is doing?”  

“Yeah, it’s probably just a phase. I’m sure she’ll be back to normal by barbecue season.”

When someone steps up and decides to be a triathlete, I salute you. Swimming can be scary. Biking can feel dangerous. Running can be simply uncomfortable. However, every year at the YMCA Indoor Triathlon you will see many complete rookies. Event organizer Sherry Fitzgerald is an experienced Ironman triathlon competitor but she knows exactly how to put everyone at ease.

The three events at the YMCA Indoor Triathlon on May 26 are all done in 15-minute intervals, which is a great equalizer. You can take a break in any of the three disciplines and you can expect encouragement to keep the faith. The 15-minute limit also ensures that participants do not need to struggle to a finish line, if that is an issue. Sherry has attracted participants in the past who are not only new to triathlons but have barely dipped their toe in a pool. The ability to walk in the shallow end if needed and having the security of a lifeguard within reach is a huge help.

“Did you hear what Allie is doing?”

“That can’t be true, she was always terrified of deep water!”

Sherry organizes a training group on Sundays for YMCA members to build confidence for the Indoor Triathlon. Practice helps to minimize the fear. Practice reinforces the self confidence that starts to build. A more diverse lifestyle becomes possible. Other activities are no longer out of reach.

When someone sees a fitness advocate like Sherry, they forget that everyone had to start somewhere. Some of us are lucky to have been physically active almost all of our lives but that is not the norm.

The norm is many people need to restart their active self after years of general inactivity, which is actually quite unfair. It should be easier when starting out, but it is the opposite. It is easier once you are fit.  The toughest challenge is not the ultimate goal you set; the hardest part is getting fit in the first place.

So when someone steps up and decides to do a triathlon, we should all salute them, because that is when they need our encouragement the most. It is still nice to get the encouragement at events like the Sussex Swim-Run, the YMCA Indoor Triathlon, the Hampton Ladies Triathlon and the Rockwood by the Bay Triathlon. That is just icing on the cake though. The decision you made and the first couple of weeks when you felt insecure and unhealthy was the important one. The event registration just helped secure your obligation and aided your determination.

“Did you hear that Allie completed the triathlon?”

“Yes, I’m so proud of her, maybe next year I will try it too!”


Sign up for our 4th Annual Indoor Triathlon now, or join Sherry for weekly triathlon training at our Indoor Triathlon Club.