After I ran my first marathon I had this goal of completing an Ironman race for my 30th birthday. 30 seemed far off enough that I could actually make that happen. This was before kids and before I actually THOUGHT about the training that goes in to completing an event like the Ironman. My 30th birthday came and went and I said to myself that I maybe I should adjust my goal to complete a half Ironman by 40. Seemed more realistic to me in a way, but not a large enough goal {I am sure I will one day eat my words for saying that since I am sure training for a half ironman is a HUGE goal}? I mean big goals are supposed to scare the crap out of you right? I’ve kept my goal of the IRONMAN for 40 but know how fast time seems to move now, so even though I know I have a little over 8 years left to complete said goal, I know I better start seriously thinking about it.

Following along as Michelle trained for her first Ironman often left me conflicted. One day I’d be jealous and think about how awesome it must be to swim and then go for a run, other days the thought of getting up early to go for a swim and then run made me want to puke. I tracked her on the day of her race out of curiosity. Could she finish? How long would it take her? When I saw her finish line picture I knew….I wanted to do an IRONMAN…..and I didn’t want to do an Ironman. Makes complete sense in my head.

So the first step in figuring out whether this is a realistic goal for me at some point would be to sign up for my first triathlon. Easier said than done. I’m fairly certain that with out a gentle nudge I would not have done so in the next couple of years.

When one of Chloe’s friends parents asked me if I knew anyone that would or could do the run leg of the Nations Triathlon, I emphatically said YES. It may have been the lack of sleep, or the runners high I was feeling, when I got the text during Hood To Coast, but either way I said yes. Sooooooo Sunday morning I’ll be participating in my first {sort of} triathlon. {sort of since I’m only completing one part}

I have NO idea how you triathletes manage the race day logisitics and how it does not cause you stress. I’m ONLY doing the run portion and I’m freaked out. The course is in a park in DC that I have raced at numerous times, so I’m good to go with knowing the course. It’s the to and from and figuring out what time to be there, where I will park, how I will find the cyclist at the bike transition, etc. – that has me freaked out a bit.


Advice – tell me – what tips do you have for me as I do my first SORT of Triathlon? What tips do you have when I sign up for my first REAL triathlon? How did you get started in the sport of Triathlon? Are you an IRONMOTHER or IRONFATHER – how did you balance training for an Ironman while raising little kids?


  1. At IRONMAN Raleigh our designated cyclist/runner transition point was at T2 and near the “bike out” exit. It definitely helped for the cyclist and runner to know where this was. Also it is important for the runner to be acclimated to the heat of the day – unlike other races you’re likely to be running far later in the day that you are used to since two legs have to be completed before it is your turn.

  2. First of all, that photo is gorgeous. I am planning to do my first tri next year (assuming I get a road bike over the winter). I’ll probably stick with sprints or Olympics, as you pointed out, because the logistics of training for the longer events seem so difficult with young children + work responsibilities.

  3. I’m doing Nations Tri this weekend too, though I am doing the whole thing as my first triathlon. I didn’t really know how to make the training transition from running to tri, so I signed up with Team In Training! I was most worried about the fundraising, but that was the easiest part! Even though I was only able to attend a handfull of the team practices, knowing that I have a “team” makes me less nervous that I thought I would be! Come do it next year with us!

  4. I’m training for my first Ironman (it is Nov 2nd). I think I transitioned to triathlons as a way to force cross training since I got injured running. Now I have become semi addicted, although sometimes training for three things takes a ton of time. The logistical part is difficult but only for the first few times, then it gets to be a routine like anything else. I like tris because they are incredibly exciting and varied. Tips? Print out a checklist the night before your tri to make sure you have everything. Start with a sprint, see if you like it and move up distance wise from there. And, make sure you have a good bike!

  5. Have fun! Don’t stress the swim…enjoy the ride, nail the run!

  6. I’m doing a sprint tri in Herndon next weekend. You can still register……… :) I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m just going to wing it!

  7. I haven’t done an Ironman, but one of my tips for when you transition to doing the whole tri (as opposed to only the run leg) is to start with a sprint. For me, the logistics of transition and the gear is the most stressful part. With the sprint, you’ll know you can handle the physical demands, no problem. Being anxious about what is physically required + anxious about setting up transition and negotiating logistics = no fun.

  8. Interesting!! I am right with you. My sister and I have a goal to do Lake Placid IronMan in 2020 together. Of course I have never even done a sprint triathlon so I am going to need work on some things before then! I followed Michele’s training too and was very inspired as well as exhausted just from reading all those long brick workouts! :-) I’m sure if I sacrificed in other areas I could do it. My sister and I picked the year 2020 (besides just sounding like a cool year) because our kids would all be in school and we figured we would have a little more time to train. However, Michele is truly an example of a mom who made it happen even with young children.

    I really don’t have any tips to offer but I wish you the best with your first tri! Anxious to see pics and read your race report!

  9. Next Sunday I will compete in MY FIRST TRIATHLON! Can you tell I’m excited? Last December I learned how to lap swim and this summer I learned to use my road bike. I have really enjoyed training for multiple sports. In my experience training for an olympic distance tri takes roughly the same amount of time as training for a marathon. If I felt like I had more time to train I would consider a longer distance but for now this is all that fits for my current life stage. Enjoy your race!

  10. I only did a Sprint Triathlon and it was a blast, but a lot of work…in a good way. I think you should and could totally do a Ironman. You have the will and support and with the right training your body could handle it. I’m secretly hoping you decide to do it. Keep me posted…Oh and keep me posted about being featured on your blog. XOXO

  11. YAY! I’m so excited that you are getting into tris! And I had no idea about your Ironman goal- rock on! You can totally do it! I did Nation’s a few years back as part of a relay, and I did the swim leg. It’s very different than doing all three legs yourself, but it’s a great way to get your feet wet. Just being around all of those triathletes will make you want to sign up for a race ASAP! The one thing I remember about doing the relay was that there was a lot of waiting around. I think we had to wait around in transition while the others were doing their leg but I wanted to be out there cheering for them! Know your cyclist’s pace so that you will have some idea of when to get a warm up in, because I think the runner is allowed out. Good luck out there, and have a blast!!

  12. I decided to do my first tri on a whim. I was in orientation for a high stress job and needed something to keep my mind off of the work training when I wasn’t at work. I got an email for a sprint tri and thought huh I can do that. I only trained for 6 weeks but I’d been biking and running anyway. I finished my sprint tri distance and loved it. When I do it again I plan on actually taking swim lessons prior to starting training. I’m not a strong swimmer. I also didn’t fuel well and ended up puking during the run. I need to do more experimenting with fuel on training days.

    My advice don’t go straight to the top do a sprint first so you can get your feet wet so to speak. Decide if its rly your thing. They are a challenge for sure and a lot of fun.

  13. I’m going to second what Julia said – start with a few sprint tri’s :) I’ve done a couple and although the distance is short, the bike-to-run transition is really jarring. They are super fun though – and something about doing 3 sports in a row makes you feel super hardcore ha ha.

  14. Tris are awesome! Expensive though. MY BEST training has been brick workouts. I do a lot of run-bike-run-bike-run workouts. Killer, but so beneficial! I’ve noticed that a lot of triathletes are either strong swimmers or strong cyclists, or both….but usually lack in the running area. So us runners have a huge advantage on the run portion and can catch and pass a lot of people. Good luck!

  15. You will be fine! All you have to do as the runner is get the chip from the cyclist and put it around your ankle. Wait around near your rack spot in transition ready to go when you think the cyclist will be coming in, and be ready to run 10k!

  16. I spent my 30’s having babies and working FT, but I’m achieving my goal of doing a triathlon by the time I’m 40 – just a few weeks later. It’s this Sunday also but I decided not to do Nations for my first. I’m doing the Iron Girl Rocky Gap in MD. I did a swim clinic geared towards Nations a couple weeks ago and we practiced the dock-jumping swim start! Enjoy the run portion of the tri! I may do Nations next year since I think I’d swim right by my office building…

  17. Triathlon’s awesome! You just got to do it. It’s actually, in some ways, easier, because you can balance the workouts and do different things and mix it up. The key to training is to realize you’re not going to run as much as you did (or bike or swim), you just have to do some of each. And, just sign up for a race and do it! That’s how I got into it. When it comes to race day logistics, you just have to think through what you’re going to do (ie. I will run to my bike as I pull my wetsuit down, I will stop and pull it the rest of the way on. I will put my helmet on. I will put my shoes on. I will grab my bike, etc, etc.) If you are deliberate, but quick, then it all comes together. It’s all about planning in advance.

  18. Nations Tri is a great race! And, it was my husband’s first triathlon. I had no idea what I was doing during my first triathlon, but triathletes are great and the girl setting up in transition next to me was very kind and gave me some pointers. Sometimes you just gotta jump in and figure it out as you go!

  19. What can I say other than we are a lucky team to have you as our runner!! I just hope you can make up the 30 min I’m going to lose while on the bike. Thanks for helping make this possible, my first event and totally ready to go. See you Sunday at the transition area.

  20. I just complete my first triathlon ths summer finally after so many years of dreaming. There were a lot of things that had me apprehensive; swimming, transition, workouts, time. But as Kelly commented above, your goal isn’t always to get n the full amount in but putting a couple sports together is what matters. Just try going from spin class for 1/2 hour to a 10-15 min run. Then gradually increase these times to build up to cycling for a hour and running for 1/2. I usually swim separately but if u have a pool with a gym facility, u could brick the swim and cycle together. Transition is a bit overwhelming also when you are looking from the outside in but a practice run through helps a lot. I did 2 practice “races” before my actual race and I was no more nervous before the triathlon than I usually would be in a road race. The best part of triathlon is that it challenges our bodies in new ways and yet is less stressful on our body. So cool. Training for me has actually been easier with the family. I have my bike set up on a trainer through the winter next to the treadmill and it is easy in an early morning workout to get both in. In the summer, I may cycle to the pool, swim and cycle home for the early lane swim. You will see it will work fine.

  21. I feel just as divided as you about tri’s. I think it would be a really great accomplishment, and sometimes I get really excited about the idea of doing them… but then other times I think, “Wait a second. All that biking and swimming is really going to cut into my running time!” I’m so overprotective of my running time that I’m not sure if I’ll ever quite make my way to an Ironman, but a regular low-key triathlon is a strong possibility.

    Caitlin over at Health Tipping Point ( is a mama currently training for an Ironman. She seems to find a pretty good balance between motherhood, work, and training.

  22. I’m sorry, I am the LAST person to give any advice since I have yet to run my first 5k…but I think it’s AWESOME that you’re even thinking about doing something like an Ironman. Can’t wait to follow along!

  23. If you’re considering a tri check out @gregrittler on twitter or his blog (it’s in his bio). He’s got an amazing story and recently did his first tri in Lake Placid. He’s the real deal. Normal dude doing incredible things. (I know him IRL so I’m even more inspired by how he rolls.)

  24. I would suggest getting really comfortable with swimming in pack. My first tri was olympic distance, and while I had swam the same distance many times, I wasn’t used to the aggression in the water with the waves of people starting after me (and passing me). I ended up getting so stressed and tired in the water that my biking and run REALLY suffered from it. I would suggest doing plenty of sprint tri’s just to get used to the running in the water and all of the splashing and kicking all around when you are trying to swim. It’s all mental, but being in water takes it to a totally different dimension. You are tough, you will do great!! It’s an awesome accomplishment and most people don’t have the guts to try it!!!

  25. I hope your run leg went well in today’s Nation’s Tri! It sounds like a great way to do your first triathlon by easing into it!

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