Once in a while, we should all push our limits to see just how far we can go. What our limits are and how we choose to push them is highly individual and personal. For some this may be a mental exercise, while others may need to find physical challenges. The challenges we choose may also change in character and intensity as we mature and our interests change.
Traditionally a non-athlete, I find myself reaching more and more for physical challenges. First I started cycling as an adult, eventually completing weeks-long tours. In recent years, this tendency has led me to try triathlons, a sport that has moved me beyond my bike and into running and swimming as well.
I am grateful that my first triathlons were ones solely for women. One might wonder why one should want to compete in an event that is only for women rather than one in which men and women both compete. Perhaps a womenís-only event will be easier? Nothing could be farther from the truth. Female triathletes train and compete just as hard as men and complete the same distances in a race.
So whatís the big deal? There is nothing to compare to the camaraderie and support a racer, especially a beginning racer, receives during a womenís race event. Sure, the women want to do their best and are serious about their sport, but thereís also an understanding that itís okay to be a beginner and that youíre just there to prove something to yourself. The acceptance of everyone regardless of their abilities is simply amazing.
Iíve been lucky enough to be able to compete in what may be the worldís biggest womenís triathlon: the Alaska Gold Nugget Womenís Triathlon. I canít even begin to describe what it feels like to know you are one of 1500 women all getting ready to complete the same race, and to look around and see so many women of all different ages, abilities, shapes and sizes. It is truly an inspiring experience.
Iím not the only one who feels this way about womenís triathlons. A simple internet search will reveal a plethora of women-only events. My recent search turned up several womenís triathlon series which are held across the United States.
The Trek Women Triathlon Series (http://www.trekwomenstriathlonseries.com) consists of six events throughout the summer and fall, each in a different state. Inspired and led by triathlon legend Sally Edwards (author of Triathlons for Women), the races all consist of a 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike and 3.1 mile run. The races are designed for both beginners and experienced athletes.
The SheROX Triathlon Series and Life Time Fitness, Inc. have partnered to create a nine event international series beginning in 2011 (http://www.sheroxtri.com). The races are held across the United States as well as in Bermuda, and vary somewhat in distances. The Series includes the complimentary SheROX Mentor Program which is designed to ensure all participants have a positive triathlon experience. A group of experienced, enthusiastic, compassionate female triathletes are available to answer questions and provide support throughout the triathlon experience, from beginning training through race day.
Organized by the same women who organize the Trek Women Triathlon Series, the Danskin Triathlon Series (http://www.danskintriathlon.net/index.html) has been inspiring female athletes, novice and expert, for over 20 years. The seven races are in seven states and each consists of a 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike and 3.1 mile run.
In addition to the support provided by these triathlon series, there is a plethora of other information available specific to female triathletes from books to blogs to internet sites. One blog which provides links to a variety of other triathlon resources is Womens Triathlon Blog Ė Itís the Way We Tri (http://www.womens-triathlon.com). I chronicled my own training and tri experience this year on my blog (http://sharrymiller.typepad.com).
The resources listed here are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the triathlons available to women. The wonderful thing about all of them is that they are open to women of all ages and abilities. You donít have to be an accomplished athlete to do a triathlon; you just have to enter one. So go for it, push your limits and give triathlon a try!