Putting the 'try' in triathlon

Editor’s note: This is the first in a nearly year-long series of stories and sweat-laden vignettes chronicling the training regimen, pitfalls and pratfalls of two Statesman-Examiner reporters and their teammate. The intrepid trio plans to compete in all three increments of next July’s Valley Girl mini-triathlon at Liberty Lake (Spokane Valley).So, in a recent spurt of inspiration (or insanity, I’ll check back with you later on that one) I have decided to train for a triathlon. I realize that’s news that ranks slightly above Lindsay Lohan’s latest run-in with the law and below the Mariners record losing streak, but please cut me some slack---this is quite the endeavor in the brain-land of Sophie the anti-athlete. Before we rush into the neurotic, self-doubt, what-the-French-toast-was-I thinking phase, let us start at the impetus for this endeavor. My friend and colleague Jamie Henneman and I recently volunteered at the annual Tiger Triathlon. That is volunteer-- not participate.The night before the big event, we were attending the pre-Tiger-Tri dinner (carb-loading, of course) and the weighty decision-making went something like this. Jamie: “You know we should do a triathlon.” Me: “Sure, sounds like fun.” And honestly, it did, and still does. Really. We decided we would start with next year’s Valley Girl at Liberty Lake, a women’s-only sprint distance triathlon held in July. Though I must confess I didn’t put much thought into the preparation process and the commitment that demands until we recruited a third member to our little group, Shadan. We convinced her to join our experiment in psychology with all the sincerity of a proposed shoe-shopping outing. Us: “Want to do a triathlon with us?” Shadan: “Sure, sounds like fun.” Then it happened. Shadan began a blog (http://shadanstriathlon.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/hello-world/) that will chronicle her endeavors (and ultimately the group’s) to get in fighting shape for next year’s competition. Once you put something on the internet, it isn’t written in pencil, baby. Our intentions are out there, for all to see and judge. Allow me a momentary, “EEK!” Don’t get me wrong; I know this is good for me. It encourages team spirit, will get me in better physical shape and will allow the recent butt-shaped indent in my couch cushion to fade. Did I mention that I know this is good for me?The Valley Girl is a 1/3-mile swim, 12-mile bike ride and three-mile run. It’s known as a sprint or mini-triathlon and is the starting point for newbies with dreams of triathlon glory. Well, right now I’m at the stage where I’ll take survival over glory, but you know what they say about the journey of a thousand miles. Or in this case, 15 and 1/3 miles. It begins with appropriate footwear, self-discipline, and a touch of disillusionment. Seriously though, it’s not quite the drama I’m making it out to be (right?). I couldn’t ask for better partners to take this on with. I’ve even received the blessings of my editor, Fearless Leader, who has agreed to my antics on the condition that I make my flailing and floundering to reach physicality nirvana into a weekly column. He even promised to come and laugh over my sweat-drenched corpse at the actual event next year. What more could a girl ask for in a support team? If anyone has advice or tips on how to do this right and not let my team down, I’m all eager ears. We haven’t done this before, so all we have is our willpower and each other. So to make a long story short, let the journey begin. Good thing I wore sneakers today. Have you run a triathlon? Do you enjoy exercising in the great outdoors? Share your story and offer my team suggestions and me by emailing sophia@statesmanexaminer.com.