Learning to swim


Here is a little insight into my triathlon journey, published in eBella Magazine Aug 2019Laurie Rose

A non-athletes journey to Ironman

I’ve been a serial entrepreneur my whole life; I was not an athlete. I didn’t participate in sports in school, was the last one picked for a team in gym class, yet here I am, a two-time Ironman finisher.

My Journey

In my 20’s, I participated in group exercise, known then as aerobics. I dabbled in running, participating in several local 5-mile races and had a racing bike that I rode inconsistently.  I continued this wildly inconsistent workout pattern until my late 40’s.

In 2011, I stood at the finish line of the Naples Daily News Half Marathon. As I watched the runners, both young and old, will themselves over that finish line, I was inspired. I decided then; I would run the half marathon the following year.

I joined Leapfrog athletics, a coached group running program aimed at training for the NDN Half Marathon. The following year, I too was a half marathon finisher!

Next on the group’s training agenda was the Naples Fitness Challenge. I wanted to continue to train with my new found friends, yet I had a problem, I didn’t know how to swim.

They encouraged me to join them in the local pool and taught me how to swim.  That was the start of my triathlon obsession. I was 47 at the time. To gain confidence in the water, I took private swim lessons. At my first few lessons, I felt embarrassed, look at this grown lady trying to swim. One month after my first official swim lesson, I was on the starting line at the Naples Fitness Challenge. 

The swim at the Naples Fitness Challenge was not pretty. I used the backstroke, sidestroke, doggie paddle, and a few freestyle strokes to get to the finish, yet I finished!

After surviving my first race, my new goal was to achieve better results.  I continued to take swim lessons and workout with the local groups.

What I have accomplished

It’s hard to believe, since my first race in 2011, I completed various Ironman 70.3 triathlons as well as two Ironman races. An Ironman race consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2- mile run (140.6).

I qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships and raced these events in Australia, South Africa, and this year will be traveling to France.

I placed in the top 10% of my age group for the last two years earning Ironman’s Silver All World Athlete status.

On my journey, I learned that it is never too late to try something new, don’t let fear hold you back. If I can do it, you can too!

Go For it!

Want to try a triathlon? The Naples Fitness Challenge is a great way to begin. A sprint triathlon is the shortest triathlon distance, 800-yard swim, 10-mile bike, and a 3.1-mile run. 

The key to achieving a goal, whether it is a new sport, diet or financial, is to make it realistic, obtainable and fun.

One of the most significant benefits of my triathlon journey has been the people I have met. They have become my cheerleaders in life. Without them, I may not have continued.

Surround yourself with positive influences; you will be amazed at how their positivity will propel you forward.

The best way to start and stick with a new exercise program is to join a group.  The group dynamic helps keep you from skipping workouts. 

When I first started, I was nervous to join a running program.  I assumed everyone was faster and/or in better shape than me.  I was surprised to see all levels of people. Remember, everyone has to start somewhere.

There are groups in Naples to join, such as the Naples Area Triathletes, Gulf Coast Runners and Naples Velo. Each one has free group workouts you can attend listed on their websites.

When you join a group event, don’t be shy. Ask questions. The group members welcome helping someone new. You are bound to find answers to your questions and maybe a great workout partner, too.

By far, the best piece of advice I can give is to have fun. The training will be the hardest part.  The race should be the reward.

See you at the start line.

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