Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Culture

Beginner’s Luck: Why I Can’t Quit Triathlon

"Beginner's Luck" columnist Meredith Atwood writes about the draw of signing up for race after race.

For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.

“Beginner’s Luck” columnist Meredith Atwood writes about the draw of signing up for race after race.

Sometimes I just think I cannot possibly do another step, or take another movement whether in swim, bike or run. I am not a “quitter” by nature and I don’t give up easily, but sometimes, I just think: triathlon is for the crazy, the super-athletic and uber-talented. I go through these periods where I think, “no more” and then in the next breath, I see an email come through and I am furiously texting all the friends, “Who is in _________?” (fill in the blank with whatever race was emailed to me.)

I stood at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga last month with my friend who I have known for several tri years now—we both did our first Ironman together at Coeur d’Alene in 2013. I asked him how his training was going, and he said, “Well, I am only here because YOU talked me into this race, and now YOU aren’t even racing! Same thing as Lake Placid last year, same thing as Chattanooga,” he joked at me. And then he said, “You NEVER do the races you sign up for.”

Whoa, there buddy! Ouch. That one stung a little. But he was so right.

I started thinking of the reasons why I sign up for these races and I don’t do them. Well, I have historically had a series of great reasons: a stress fracture, a bike crash, financial and childcare situations. Sure, those were real ones. But at the same time, I had several races where all of those excuses would have sufficed, and yet I persevered and raced under much tougher conditions.

I think I have developed a very clear case of “I just don’t wanna.”

I pride myself in not being a quitter. Because I don’t quit, when I don’t start, I am not quitting. Word-smithery right there, people.

At the end of the day, however, I realized that I need to stop signing up for races for no apparent reason, especially when I “never do the races.”

But how can you be Swim Bike Mom when you just lift weights? Well, for starters, I can be Right Said Fred if I say I am—it’s all a matter of perception. But I stayed in a legal career for about 12 years too long, and I think if I had just stopped and asked myself, “Why am I sticking around here?” I might have made a little more sense to myself.

But I am not comparing triathlon to the law. But I do have to ask myself often why am I here on this planet? So, in asking myself why I think I continue to swim, bike and run (or at least sign up for races), I came up with this:

Nowhere else in your adult life do people CHEER for you.

This is something that the Expert (my husband) has said for years. There is real value to this magnificent glimmer of the finish line, the cheers and the total joy that awaits at every single race end. Sure, many of us find purpose and joy in the training and the camaraderie—and yes, I do too. However, the real draw? The reason I keep signing up for races? Because in that moment when I click “REGISTER,” I swear I hear that same crowd of people screaming, “You did it!” And for those of us addicted to the finish line—those beautiful cheers make this amazing sport impossible to quit.

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, writer, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman. Meredith has teamed up with amazing experts to bring programs from peak performance to nutrition to her own sobriety group to her social following. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children, and writes about all things at MeredithAtwood.com.

More Beginner’s Luck