For 47 years of my life, endurance running was not a regular part of my life. So, it would make sense that in my 52nd year on this earth that I give the sport of triathlon a try.



Normal people don’t think like this.

I digress.

With several marathons, half marathons, cross country relays and ultras under my belt I thought “triathlon, piece of cake.”

unknown-6I decided to train for a sprint triathlon. It was in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. The course includes a 750 meter swim followed by a 12.5 mile bike ride and a 3.1 mile run.

The lake was so calm and the distances all appeared to be manageable. As I quickly learned, it wasn’t a race or a distance I really respected. I took it for granted.

As a result, I expended 80 percent of my energy on the swim with barely anything in the tank for the next two disciplines. If it is possible, I bonked three times, maybe more. Talk about humbling!

Fast forward ten months to 2016.

The Rio Grande Retro Triathlon was a “sprint” distance with a twist, it was in reverse order (run, bike and swim). The race had a 70’s theme. Recalling some theme running races I decided to dress the part and do the run wearing tie-die jeans and the event shirt. My tri-kit was underneath.unknown-7

With the disciplines reversed (a.k.a.“retro”), I felt the race was manageable.   Start with my strongest sport, the run, and finish with the two emerging disciplines. The cycling aside, I learned two things that day:

  • Runners have sense of humor, some triathletes not so much. At running events, taking on a 3.1 mile course in a pair of authentic tie-dye jeans would result in high fives all the way around. This was a triathlon. For the record, my time was a personal best.
  • The “Retro” swim is triathlon’s version of the Worldwide Wrestling Federation and should be avoided at all cost. Medals should be given for just completing the 750 meter swim. But they are not.

My One Medal honoree for this “retro” race was someone I met during my time working at KULR-TV in Billings, Montana. Penny has the same kind of “fun” humor and appreciates the fact that we only have one life to live. We alspennyo have a similar twisted humor, she appreciated the tie-dye jeans.

Penny had a sizeable brain tumor surgically removed last year and is still in recovery.  Her recovery includes learning to walk again. Learning to walk once is a challenge none of us remember, for good reason! Penny’s determination to walk again is nothing short of impressive. And she is doing it quite well!

For a time, her routine of getting strapped and secured for a walk on the treadmill provided plenty of reasons for someone to stay in bed or in a chair. Not Penny.

The Rio Grande Retro Triathlon medal is in her line of vision when she is on the treadmill. And Penny is walking again.