Thursday, October 2, 2008

The First Triathlon - Part II

The continuation and finale of my two part series (read Part I first)

I had what I perceived to be at the time a moment of clarity. I had a stern talk with cheerleaders in my head “You’re wrong about me and you’ve been lying this whole time! You almost killed me in the swim portion, Jesus H. Christ, what’s your trip? Then, as if hanging off a lifeguard’s surfboard isn’t humiliation enough, then I get passed by old people, large people, and anything else on two wheels. The only thing I passed was the dead raccoon in the middle of the road. I’m a failure and I hate this triathlon. I’ll be happy when it’s all over because this was the biggest mistake, in public, that I’ve ever made.” So all the voices in my head that once said “You can do it - it's gonna be easy” and “It’s not about winning, it’s about finishing” walked off the job and probably went into someone else’s head where they’d be appreciated for once.

My legs felt like poorly fitting prosthetics and denied me anything but a slow draggy swagger. I looked like a drunken cowboy walking uphill in sand. Since all the cheerleaders in my head were on strike and pissed off that I was so hard on them – after all, they were just trying to help, I had nothing left to make me go. I just moved forward because I was too tired to figure out what else to do. I was in the pack mentality and I forged ahead. But inside my head there was a dimly lit “vacancy” sign.

After a quarter mile of playing the part of Zombie #8 in Night of the Living Dead, I realized that if a jogged I could end this horrible day faster. I passed a couple of tables with lovely people handing out water and power drinks to the zombies/participants. I passed signs that See Jane Run had hung upon the trees, very inspirational quotes from people like Eleanor Roosevelt, I just love her. There were the official motivators that were clapping and cheering and helping us not get lost. All these people held me up when I was empty. They told me I could do it and then, to my astonishment, my interior cheerleaders put down the strike signs, picked-up their pom-poms and walked back on the job and said “You know what, Sharon? This is getting easy and you’re running pretty fast. See all those people your passing? I think you’re going to make it!”

I ran for a while and then slowed down for a fast paced walk. A woman I don’t know went gliding past me and as she did she looked over at my worn spirit and said “You’re almost home.” I did feel close to home, not the home that I live in, but the home at the finish line and I sprung into a run that lasted the rest of the race. I ran uphill and downhill, which is what I hate the most because it always makes me pee a little. At first I was worried that all the other runners would know, but then I thought “Screw it, man. Am I going to worry about what people think of me – a bunch of total strangers? Or am I going to make this the best leg of the race?” So I went for it while the little sprinkler in my pants gently sprayed the ground behind me.


I could see the Finish Line and hear the cheers of the crowd. This made me run a little faster until I approached the last four official motivators and they were yelling “Only 200 more yards to go!” As I passed them and looked toward the Finish Line, I noted two women between me and the ultimate goal. I said out loud “Watch me beat those two women up there”. I put my 34” legs into full speed ahead, tucked my head down and approached them for the pass, but just as I was about to pull ahead, one of them spotted me and the race was on. We were neck and neck and just as we were about to cross the Finish Line I pulled in front and won.

I have yet to receive my Finish Line photo, but I’m afraid it will tell the whole ugly story. We’ll see what the expression on our faces will portray. I’m pretty sure I’m horrible – I can’t wait!

I completed the race in 1:35:25:3! Why so proud? Because I met my two goals: 1) finish the race and 2) beat Gina (1:38:09:7). That’s right race fans; I beat the toughest woman I know. She has kicked my ass in a lot of other departments:
1) Style and Grooming
2) Income
3) Education
4) Bad-Ass-ness
5) Math skills
6) a lot of other crap …

But on this day, I won.

BECOME A T.W.A.T. ("Tough Women Are Triathletes")

You must first understand what we are. We are women who are not afraid to try. We hold each other up and cheer each other on. We don’t allow anyone to embarrass us, we insist on embarrassing ourselves. We want other women to laugh with us along the way. We want fun.

You must also know what we are not. We are not serious athletes; we’re just plain people with hang-ups and foibles, and special gifts. We are not bad people just because we shout “Go TWAT!” and we’re not forcing you to join us. But if you want to be a T.W.A.T. you just have to do a few things:
1. Try to do a race. Any race.
2. Don’t be afraid to wear a T.W.A.T. t-shirt
3. Support other women in their goals and dreams
4. No whining or making excuses


I would like to send my love and gratitude to all the T.W.A.T.s for making me try harder and commit to something that I almost bailed out on, but I just couldn’t let down my team by quitting. Now I’m hooked and so are they. We are all looking forward to our next Triathlon.

Thank you to See Jane Run for making this a celebration of phenomenal women. The participants were 8 to 70 years old, and they ranged from high-ranking athletes to women kind of like us. There were the Super Jane girls in the hero costumes and they were so awesome. All of the employees and volunteers were completely into it. I wish I could be that charitable, but I’m more of a “taker” than a “giver.”

Thank you to our loyal and loving T.W.A.T. supporters which consist of our husbands who were proud of us and encouraged us to do it. Our children, who set an example for us every day just by their very existence. My best friend in the world, Kathy, who showed up and cheered me on just like she has for the last 25 years. And all our friends and enemies because we just had to prove to you all that we could do it.

And we did.


  1. you won. you did.
    but i am going to try like hell to NEVER let it happen again. i am going to learn to run, even though right now i run like a complete moron, and every bit of me hurts when i do it.
    i love having you as my friend, because we are equals. each with different strengths (although, a lot of them are the same) that helps bring out some really good and funny shit in each other.
    you can beat me hands down in many, many areas. just not arm wrestling. that one is mine. (cue the wicked laugh)

  2. Rock on Sharon!!! I think I want to be a T.W.A.T!! You know one of my life goals is to do a Triathlon...especially after reading your post...

  3. Sharon, you can write! I have laughed and laughed at your pieces before, but this one is really special. I was laughing, then crying, then crying while laughing. Steel Magnolias was sentimental drivel, but the quote stands true: "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." Thank you.