Our Makeshift Triathlon / by PJ Monson

Tri 2

Elise J. Willer is a dear friend of CentralSweat, avid runner, and is the Legislative Policy Organizer at CT Working Families.  We are so honored to have her as a guest blogger today!  In January 2013 I decided to participate in my second sprint triathlon. I signed-up for a tri at the local YMCA scheduled for early June 2013 and put together a manageable 6 month training schedule.

Tri 3

I wish I could tell you that I was successful at keeping to that schedule but the truth is-I did a pretty poor job of training through the months of March to May. I work in politics and the Legislative Session 2013 in my state was a killer. I worked a lot of hours, spent a ton of time in my car driving to meetings, and worked out only sporadically throughout the session.  In addition, I started having hip pain during my running workouts.

The session closed at midnight on June 5th following several weeks of days spent standing in heels on the marble floors of the Capitol until 2 or 3am (if I was lucky).  My triathlon was scheduled for June 9th, only four days following the end of the session. Despite the warnings from concerned friends and family I prepared to participate in the June 9th triathlon. I recognized that I was in good enough physical shape that despite the hip pain and lack of training, I could indeed get through the tri. You see, the session itself was somewhat of a bust for my specific work and like anything in politics, the successes I had were met with bittersweet compromise. I needed to successfully complete something- no compromises. I was going do this.

Unfortunately, participating in the tri was harder than I thought because Sunday morning, despite the two alarm clocks set, I woke up just as the triathlon was starting. Turns out, the months of late nights, early mornings, unhealthy food habits and stress had taken its toll. But if there is anything I’ve learned from my time in politics its not to sweat the small stuff so I threw my bike in the car and headed over to the starting point with every intention of participating in that triathlon.  It didn’t matter if I started late or finished last. But all the determination in the world doesn’t help you if police officers won’t let you near the parking lot or starting point. I was turned away twice and disappointingly drove home.

It was time for plan b (or maybe c at that point)

I was determined- by the end of the day I was going to have swum ½ mile, biked 15 miles, and run 3 miles. If I couldn’t participate in an organized triathlon I would just participate in an “unorganized” triathlon.  In essence, I would create my own.

I drove home, contacted two of my best friends, Christy and Ruth, and told them of my change of plans.  I got home and immediately started out on the 15-mile bike ride using one of the routes I’d found to train.  The area is fabulous for biking!

As I returned home after the ride I saw Christy pulling into my driveway in her running gear.  Christy isn’t much of a runner but she herself came determined to run 3 miles in solidarity of my makeshift tri. Ruth had made us bib numbers and we set off on our 3 mile run.

As I walked across the hot sand following the swim I was filled with a sense of pride. Christy had run three miles, Ruth had fought the cold and swam ½ mile in the ocean and I had completed my triathlon distances. The decision to participate in a triathlon back in January had, in a day, become so much more. Against all odds, we had successfully overcome physical and mental challenges. We strengthened our friendship and sense of community. Each one of us, throughout the day, had been an athlete, a cheerleader, a friend and a winner.

People say life is what you make of it and I couldn’t agree more… Life can be sweet, healthy and fulfilling if you choose to make it so.