Posted by: forgingahead | September 22, 2009

Triathlon Inspiration

Inspiration appears in the most unlikely places.

Take, for instance, my triathlon the other day.

There I am minding my own business on the first loop of the bike portion of the race. Keeping a decent cadence and working out the seemingly inevitable sluggishness left over from the swim.

When I am passed. By a woman. On a mountain bike.

“Wow, she’s pretty speedy for riding a mountain bike,” I mutter to myself. That, or I am going painfully slow. Nah, that can’t be it. Ha!

I pass her on the next downhill. My Trek is speedy on the downhills.

She passes me again on the next long flat stretch. As we round a corner she asks me if I know how far we’ve gone. I estimate we’re about halfway through the first loop.

We kind of leapfrogged each other back and forth over the next few miles and were next to each other as we neared the halfway point.

“Are you on your second loop?” she asked. Ha! No way. We got to talking as we pedaled along. Her name was Gina.

I had to ask what was up with the mountain bike.

“Oh, I just decided to do this race a couple of weeks ago and had to rent a bike,” she explained. “I had to beg the bike store to stay open late so I could make it over and all they had left were mountain bikes.”

My curiosity was piqued so I asked more questions. I’ve developed a decent interview style through all my work with Riding Magazine.

Here’s her story. She did a triathlon 15 years ago “when she was a kid” and then got married, moved out the suburbs and had two girls.

Her girls are 8 and 10 years old and Gina spent most of this year driving them to swim practice every day and cheering them on at swim meets.

Their swim season ended a couple of weeks ago and Gina was feeling a bit let down. She looked around and decided to do something for herself.

Triathlon seemed like the logical choice for a woman who hadn’t been on a bike or swimming in quite some time.

This alone gives you an idea of the sheer spirit of this woman.

She said she’d had a tough swim in the lake. Couldn’t see a thing and struggling at the end of the pack.

The bike? She’d rented it the day before. Yet she was hanging with a solid 20 mph pace. I call that rocking it.

The run she was pretty confident about – being a runner.

I loved that she was wearing the tank-top from her last triathlon 15 years ago. It was hugely oversized reflecting the fashion of the day.

The second 9.5 mile loop of the bike leg flew by as we chatted and pushed each other along.

I never did catch up to her on the run and I couldn’t find her after the race.

Maybe she was a triathlon spirit sent to push me to cycle faster.

Family after Triathlon

Gina and I reconnected thanks to the wonder of the Internet – she sent me this lovely photo of her and family post-race!



  1. Very cool story. Loved it. Everyone we meet plays a role in our lives; for a reason. I like what you said….’maybe she was a triathlon spirit sent to push me to cycle faster.’ Nice.

  2. This is such a cool post! I just love the spirit of that woman and all of the others that just thrive on the sport and the sheer thrill of biking, running and swimming…just because! That is so inspirational, thanks for sharing!

  3. HI Kathleen,
    Thanks for blogging about me and finding me. I was looking for you after the race so that I could introduce you to my husband and girls. I will send you a photo. You really captured our conversation so well and it was so nice to have somone to cycle with!!
    I just looked up my time today and was shocked at where I ended up. I told my family about you and how you couldn’t believe I had rented the bike the night before (still with the rental tag). This experience makes me want to try another one – I guess I might have to break down and save up for a bike. You helped me cycle faster too and I appreciated your words of encouragement. Thanks for that and I hope we meet out on the trail again! Gina

    • Hi Gina! So glad we found each other in the blogosphere! You had a great race and I’d race with you again anytime!

  4. I love that Gina found you 🙂 What an awesome story!!! She sounds like a cool lady!

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