Becoming an Athlete

Becoming an Athlete

Sharon at naperville tri presented by Experience Triathlonby Sharon K.

Two years ago yesterday, the day of the Naperville Sprint Triathlon presented by Experience Triathlon, I started my fitness journey. I saw my profile in a store front window and decided it was time to take action. A new gym had just opened up near my house, and I opened the door to a new life. I signed up for 12 personal training sessions, and began training twice a week with the trainer and 4 days on my own. I lost 20 pounds and felt great. My husband has always been supportive, but he noticed an improvement not only in my appearance, but in my attitude and outlook. I was much happier and it showed.

I have a personal trainer who understands me. We work together and get the most out of a workout. She continues to challenge me. She talked me into doing a Diva Dash last August, and when I told my husband I was thinking of entering (lots of obstacles within a 5K setting), he said, “You know you are 52, right?” Yes, so what? I feel good, and want to give it a try. I loved the obstacles and hated the run. I entered with several coworkers and Alicia, my trainer, and had so much fun.

In November, last year, during one of our sessions, she asked if I would consider entering an indoor triathlon with her. I looked at her and said it sounds like fun but I don’t swim. Never learned, never had a desire to learn. I never wanted to swim in a lake, ocean, deep end of the pool, just didn’t interest me. Then I thought about all of the things I have missed because I don’t swim and decided it was time to learn. I came home and told my husband I wanted to enter an indoor triathlon, and he said, “You know you don’t swim, right?” Yup, and it’s time to learn. I fast tracked the lessons, and by February, I could swim 13 laps in the pool. Truth be told, a lot of those laps were on my back, but at the time it didn’t matter. I got through the swimming, and onto the bike. I met all of my goals based on my age and gender and was looking forward to improving for next year.

Soon after the indoor triathlon, Alicia asked if I would consider doing a REAL triathlon. She had just signed up for the Naperville Esprit de She taking place in June, and I thought she was crazy. I went ahead and signed up for it, and ramped up my swimming efforts. I like to be well informed, so I read and talked with as many people as I could to find out what to expect on race day. Wetsuits could be worn, they are buoyant and aid in swimming. A new bike was in order. I needed to get better at swimming. So much to do, so little time. I signed up for the ET Tri 101 clinic that was held in May at Naperville Running Co and met Joe LoPresto and Sarah Farsalas of Experience Triathlon. That was a life changing day. I took in all of the information, asked a lot of questions (sorry, Joe and Sarah) and felt I knew what to expect.

I shared the information with Alicia, who couldn’t make the class, and I decided I still needed to work on my swim stroke. After trying a class at Edward Fitness Center that concentrates on swim strokes (swim stroke clinic) I decided that wasn’t for me, I needed one-on-one training. Coach Sarah Farsalas was a willing teacher, and she gave me a private lesson that changed my stroke. Really helped and I felt like I had what I needed to get through the June triathlon. Then the open water clinics started, and I decided to take my wetsuit to the beach and participate. I’ve never had a panic attack, so this was a new experience for me. Alicia and I had practiced swimming in the wetsuits in a pool, but we hadn’t taken them to the beach. I got in the open water, Suzy had us swim out to the floating dock, and I thought I was going to drown. Everyone was so nice and supportive, but all I could think about was getting this tight wetsuit off my skin and getting to dry land.

The next day Sarah sent me an email to ask how my training was going. I told her I was terrified and thought I needed a swim angel. I was questioning if I could get through the swim without drowning. She calmed me down, told me I didn’t need a swim angel, and gave me some pointers to get my mind off the swim and get to the bike. It worked, and I did okay. My first triathlon was in the books, and I exceeded my goal of finishing in under 2 hours. My time was 1:55, and I was a happy camper.

The next day, Alicia signed up for the August triathlon. Is she crazy? I’m done for the year, I thought. I would sign up for ET’s Triathlon Training six week class with her, because I wanted to learn more about this amazing sport, but I wouldn’t sign up for the August triathlon. Well, that lasted for two weeks. I loved the class, loved the pointers, and couldn’t wait for the next one. The only thing was, it was a swim without the wet suit. I also hadn’t been concentrating on running; most of my time was spent in the water. So I decided to give Coach Joe a call to get his thoughts on a running plan. He suggested I send Coach Sarah an email to learn more about ET Personal Coaching. Okay, I loved working with Sarah! Sarah and I met at Starbucks and set up a plan to get me through the upcoming triathlon in two weeks, and then we would set up short and long term goals for the future.

I absolutely love the coaching staff with Experience Triathlon. I am in awe of their accomplishments, and I want to keep growing in this sport. I am not expecting to win awards. I’ve never been an athlete, but I have found a competitive side that I had never tapped into. I’m looking forward to next year, and comparing results to this year.

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  • Sue Rylko

    Your story is an inspiration!!!

  • Steve C

    Great Job Sharon and it has been great training with you at Centennial with Coach Sarah

    • Sharon Kirkland

      Thanks Steve. I had a lot of fun training with you at the beach! You did awesome and it was fun passing you and then getting passed on the bike.

  • What a great story about your journey so far. I can tell you are determined to improve and have fun along the way! Thanks for sharing your story. I’m certain it will inspire others to try out our sport. I’m looking forward to seeing how the path opens for you!!