Martha Randolph Carr Martha Randolph Carr, 6/7/2012 [Archive]

Martha's Big Adventure -- My Summer Plans

Martha's Big Adventure -- My Summer Plans

By Martha Randolph Carr

I'm really not sure how this happened. Somehow, I'm at the start of 12 weeks of beginner triathlon training at the age of 52 with my old Chi running coach, Mo Wills and his business partner, Laura Mele from Infinity Effect Mo was the one who was able to take my choppy walk left over from surgery after cancer and not only give me a smooth gait but get me running again. Somehow that's spread into swimming and biking too.

All this week I've been swimming, biking and running with varying degrees of success.

I'm not sure why I approach athletic endeavors like there's a large, angry gym teacher screaming at me to climb the rope, but I do.

I had to make myself go get all of the needed equipment quickly before I could really think about what the summer holds. I've only been willing to invest a minimum amount, just in case and even then my attitude has not always been pretty.

Fortunately, the saleslady at Wal--Mart ignored the panicked look in my eyes and kept pulling out one--piece bathing suits saying, 'See, this one will work.'

I'm not fooling anyone about how nervous I am going into any of this and for the first 15 minutes of my first swim I swallowed a hefty amount of water and wondered if this was the way I was going to exit this world.

Laura gently said more than once, 'You need to relax, ' and after a few tips on how to swim better without so much effort I actually did and suddenly it was easy. I was able to go back and forth with ease. Visions of an athletic summer were swimming through my head as I learned to roll to get air instead of lifting my head.

'If it's too easy, you're doing it right, ' said Mo, smiling. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror afterward and saw the 10 year old me, smiling back.

The next day was my first run with a group in 11 years and it was a different story. I was the only beginner to show up in a group of seasoned runners who were joking around about the 100--mile relay run they had all done together. My heart sunk to my shoes as we all lined up to do a mile as fast as we could go to get a baseline time. I moved to the far right in the back to make sure I wasn't in the way.

Everyone quickly disappeared around the bend, until they passed me again, and again.

I was pretty sure I couldn't actually run an entire mile without walking and I ran what felt like a miserable 14--minute mile.

It's so easy to get discouraged, even at my age, when you're the weakest or the slowest and everyone else already knows each other. But the only way to get to someplace better is forward and to stop marking my success by someone else's fleet feet.

The pool was so much easier because I couldn't see what everyone else was doing and so, I was marking progress only by what I was doing. It felt amazing and if I can apply that principle to running then I'll not only have a better time I'll probably progress faster. In other words, attitude is everything.

Tonight is biking and I haven't been on a bike in 30 years. I have a shiny new helmet and I'm headed out to see what I can do. I'm not willing to say, just yet if I'll sign up for the sprint triathlon, a shortened version, but I also thought Mo would never get me back on a bike. For now, I'm going to keep going and if I have to, I'll keep hugging the right lane chugging around the track and we'll see how the summer unfolds. More adventures to follow. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph with your summer plans. Email Martha at

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