I Tried so Bad!

Lately the kids in our family add “so bad” to the end of any sentence to mean they are really serious about what they’re saying. Examples:

Cousin Ellie while swimming – “Kick so bad, mom. Kick so BAD!”

Wanda – “OH MOM! I’m excited so BAD!”

*First off, I want to say, if you have a fear of spandex, skip this post and come back and read tomorrow. I promise not to post so many pictures of myself in uber tight clothing probably ever.*

So today, I tried so bad! I completed the sprint triathlon. It started with going to bed early last night, only to be awoken by a crazy loud thunderstorm. Stephanie, my training partner, said she got up during the storm and checked today’s weather report, nervous about the swim. I convinced myself that it was just a dream and went back to sleep, a sleep in which I apparently twisted my arm in half and pinned it beneath my body, because when I woke up, I had pain shooting up and down my arm, radiating from the elbow every time I put pressure on my arm to do things like lift a cup, or cut my eggs with a fork.

On a normal day, I would have skipped working out and iced the arm, but today was TRI-DAY! So committed was I to this triathlon, that I asked myself the question, “If I were an 1800s pioneer woman, crossing the plains with ox and wagon, would I keep going with this level of pain, or would I tell them to leave me behind to be eaten by American dingos?” The answer was not dingos, so I knew I had to “tri.” Ah, that pun never gets old. Ever.

We got there bright and early and put out all our gear. I thought it was a good sign that my number was the cornerstone of the standard multiplication table. Then some nice massage therapist guy rubbed my arm and told me to try warming up and stretching. I told him I had been warming up and stretching by walking around laughing at all the thick-necked guys very showishly warming up and stretching. He almost laughed and I started doing tri stretches and waving my arms around like The Phelps. I only almost threw up as I realized that this WAS HAPPENING.

One of my favorite parts of the day has to be when I was taking one last break in the ladies’ room before the race. I’d had a feeling all morning that I’d forgotten something, and when I dropped my drawers, I almost had a heart attack. I wasn’t wearing any underwear! Now you’re not supposed to wear underwear in a tri-suit, but I don’t usually walk around in a tri-suit. You’re welcome. And I was caught off guard. Like, I started a mini-hyperventilation. How could I forget UNDERWEAR!? Oh. I breathed in and out and moved on.

When the swim started, I had planned to hang back and wait before jumping in, but was overcome with excitement and ended up diving into the melee, feet, arms and bodies all up in my face. Pretty soon we all got sorted out and I finished my ¼ mile swim in my fastest time ever! This included the swim and the run up to the transition area, an area that always reminds me of child birth, but only because of the name.

They say that transition is the “fourth discipline”, but I think the real fourth discipline is the massive nap I took when I got home. I did it so well. I even took off my tri-medal to maximize sleeping potential.

The bike was good, but hard. The fastest I’ve ever ridden 14 miles is an hour and six minutes. My goal for the tri was an hour and I made it in 59:17. Yay! I will not tell you what place that puts me in amongst the other competitors because what place that puts me in is – AWESOME! I did a stinking triathlon.



Dan and the kids cheered me on at all the water stations and the finish line and I couldn’t help but run faster when I heard them. At one point, I ran by them as they cheered, took pictures and called my name. I pointed to each one in turn and yelled, “I’m passing you… and you… and you.” They were the only people I passed on the run. But it felt good to pwn them so hard. They were just sitting there, like they didn’t even know it was a race.


A few seconds after I passed by, after I made eye contact with and berated each one of them, Wanda yelled, “Was that mom?!”

It was.

The only time I cried was during the run. I was really struggling to get going. You’re on a bike going a million miles an hour and then you try to run and it feels like you’re in a hamster weel with boneless legs. It’s the oddest feeling. Also, I had not one ounce of energy left. So I started out running, until I had cleared most of the spectators, and then I switched to a busy mom mall walk pace.


Runner after runner passed me, some of them doing the Olympic distance, which is twice as far as the sprint I was attempting. They were like muscly, sweaty gazelles and I was like… not that. I only had to run a 5K to finish this thing and I was walking fast but slower… and a bit slower. Then the awesomeness started. Runner after runner, most of them male and much more fit than me, started saying encouraging things as they passed me.

“You’ve got this.”

“Looking good.”

“Keep going.”

“You’re doing great.”

“Finish this.”

They said these things quietly and continued on their run, but I just had this swelling behind my eyes, overcome with the goodness of people. If I were a hardcore athlete, would I take the time to tell the mom mall-walking her way to the finish line that she was good enough, that I understood she was doing something really hard and needed encouragement? I hope so. But I know these guys did and it made me cry and it made me walk faster and eventually run.


The whole last half kilometer, I chanted in my head over and over again, “Walk in the shape of a run. Walk in the shape of a run. You can do this. It’s just walking in the shape of a run.”


And I did do it.


And I beat every time goal I set for myself.


Over the past two years, I’ve lost 50 lbs. Over the past two months, I’ve gone from a 20 minute ¼ mile swim to a 10 minute. Over the past day, I have become a triathlete.


And like the woman at the check-in table said, “This is your first triathlon? That’s exciting because whatever time you get will be your new personal best.”

You know what? She was right!


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25 Responses to I Tried so Bad!

  1. Stephanie says:

    I’m so glad we did this!!!!!

  2. sweet mama entropy says:

    kathryn, that is so awesome!! and i love that you mentioned the ‘encouragers’ of the race… i love hearing runners calling out encouragement and praise to their fellow runners. it’s been awhile since i’ve run a race, but i always loved doing the same thing. i was passed by my fair share of folks (sometimes pushing double jogging strollers or eligible for social security) but there were always a few that i passed too. shouting out praise to those who were trying as hard as i was somehow made my own run a little easier. congratulations on your accomplishment… you rock!!

  3. I love this post so bad! Well done on the tri, and I adore your writing. Way to GO!

  4. mona says:

    wow, these photos are awesome and you are awesome. Way to go!

  5. Heffalump says:

    You’re awesome!

  6. KT says:

    OK….I will admit that I am a bit sad that I didn’t tri with you guys. Maybe next year?

  7. carolyn says:

    You are an inspiration! Thank you for telling your stories and posting those photos fearlessly. I want to be you … and if I do meet such a personal goal I hope it will be with such a community of support. Rock on.

  8. Pops says:

    That was SO BAD!

  9. elin young says:

    Proud of you baby. Good going.

  10. Meg says:

    I am SO proud of you Kathryn!! I LOVED reading your post of your whole experience, which was VERY well said, and your pictures made me tear up.
    Yeah YOU!!!!
    Miss you! Sending you lots of love!

  11. heather says:

    I’m so proud of you, I can’t stand it.

  12. Lacey says:

    I don’t comment on your blog, but this was one amazing story. It was wonderful to read, and I hope you do another triatholon, or some other equally hard thing. Way to tray so bad.

  13. What a happy story. I admit I teared up a bit about the runners giving you encouraging comments. Very, very cool.

  14. Pamela Thompson says:

    Way to go! Loved to hear about it and loved that you did it and loved that you TRI-ed! Loveitsobad!

  15. Kelli says:

    congratulations, what an awesome experience!

  16. Mother of the Wild Boys says:

    You are incredible! Way to go. 🙂

  17. Allysha says:

    That is so great. You are awesome. Congrats!

  18. Laura says:

    You’re so awesome you’re bad! Seriously – great job and congratulations. My favorite part of races is when people encourage me. It’s an elite little group, a band of competitors, who all have a common goal – just finish. You did it!

  19. MaryC says:

    That is so great! Way to go! The part about the other runners giving you encouragement made me tear up – people can be so great!

  20. Emily G says:

    I am totally crying at my desk for you. (Um sorry if that is weird because I don’t even know you.) That is so incredibly awesome! I am super excited for you.

  21. Jen D says:

    You rock so bad!! Thanks for sharing this hard and awesome experience. I really enjoy your writing!

  22. Heidi says:

    Fantastic! You’re a wonderful example for your kids, not only setting but surpassing goals. I LOVED reading about the quiet encouragement other runners gave you. I drove past a lone runner in the marathon here in my town and shouted YAAAAAAAAAY! YOU CAN DO IT! out the car window. I wondered if he thought I was insane, but I’d like to think I made him smile.

  23. Jon Paulson says:

    You’re awesome! Thanks for your inspiring posts!

  24. I am super duper impressed! Maybe one day I will attempt to follow in your footsteps 🙂 !!

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