Just Keep Swimming. And Biking. And Running.

QUICK DISCLOSURE: this is a review of the Iron Girl sprint triathlon in Clermont, Florida. I was given a free entry because a) I have worked with Iron Girl before b) happen to be good friends with one of the marketing team members and c) I agreed to help promote the race before it started. The opinions and experience are 100% my own, although if I could have farmed out the hill climbs on the bike leg, I would have. You can read my entire disclosure policy here.


Swim. Bike. Run.

That’s the triathlon trifecta — and it’s a sport that I love. It tests so many things, including physical and mental fitness, and while I truly do believe that ANYONE can tri, it’s also an incredible difficult challenge, no matter the distance.

And the crazy wakeup times.


Since it had been a while since I entered a triathlon, and I was not as well trained as I would have like to have been, I definitely felt the nerves at this weekend’s Iron Girl sprint triathlon.


But I am THRILLED at my performance — and very proud that I am back in the game.


SWIM: 14:55 (or 1:52/100m pace)

I’m a swimmer. This has historically been my best leg in triathlon, but I have NOT done any open water training in two years, and I’m definitely out of shape. But I gave myself a pep talk while wading in with the other ladies, and I reminded myself to just keep swimming.

And I did! Luckily, I started near the front and avoided all of the mayhem that wave starts always bring, but I probably did swim further than I needed to by staying way too the outside of the crowd through the first two buoys. Every time I felt like taking a break, I mentally committed to ten more strokes before resting…and then just kept doing 10 more, and 10 more and 10 more.

As I approached the beach, I could hear the cheers from the crowd and I ran out with a smile. Jackie Jovi‘s husband caught this hysterical photo (why do I always act as if everyone watching is there cheering for me and me alone?).


Was it my fastest swim? No way. But it was the fourth fastest in my age group, which is pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.


THIS. SUCKED. And like all races, this is the first place that I look back with regrets for what could have been. I was prepared and had laid out all of my stuff, but I think I went in a little too casually…I took my time getting dried off and putting my shorts on. Then I had a lot of trouble getting my cycling shoes on. Then I couldn’t get the handlebars off the rack. Then when I finally set out on the road, I couldn’t get locked into my pedals.

I lost a ton of time in this transition and although I went into the race just wanting to finish, the competitor in me wishes I’d set the bar just a little higher.

BIKE: 48:10 (or 14.9/mph pace)


HOLY HILLS. Remember my last Iron Girl event — a half marathon in which I bitched about the climbs? They were worse on this course. Where did the organizers find this many hills in my gloriously flat Florida?

The super sprint course was a beautiful and scenic ride, but the sprint competitors (like me) were taken up a series of truly brutal hills for our additional distance. Most people got off the bike and walked up, so I’m proud to say that I stayed on the bike the whole time — out of the saddle quite a bit, but I just kept biking.

Triathlon Map

I am very happy with my time, considering all of the effort that it took, and while I’m astounded at the others in my age group who averaged 20mph (!!!!) I am glad that I was able to finish with some juice left in my legs (and no crashes — which I saw plenty of on the course).


Meh. Could have done much better, especially if I didn’t fumble with putting a shirt on over my still-wet bathing suit. I did save time by wearing my new Altra shoes, which come with Yankz laces. I’d love to shave 15 seconds off this.

RUN: 27:22 (or 9:08 pace)


I felt like my legs were made of lead — that’s what I get for not doing any bricks during my training. But as much as I wanted to stop and take walking breaks, I just reminded myself to keep running. I set small goals — running to the aid station before taking a break, then running to the stop sign and then the next thing and the next thing. Despite a final soul-crushing hill on the last half-mile, I am proud to say that I never stopped running and even had a final kick at the finish.

OVERALL: 1:36:27, 9th place in the F30-44 division, 77th place overall

Because I can’t do a race without getting emotional, I cried while crossing the finish line. There was just so much joy in this one — I did it less than a year after having a baby, I smiled the entire time, I enjoyed almost every stroke, pedal and stride and I saw so many inspirational women around me.

I love Iron Girl events, because they’re well run and are so pro-women, and more than that…pro-dreamers. I saw first-timers falling in love with the sport, gaining confidence in themselves and their bodies and seeing how amazing it is to exceed your own expectations. I saw sweaty hugs and kids with homemade signs and a real camaraderie.

Triathlons are dangerous because they are addictive, and I did spend some time on Saturday (after a big breakfast and a long nap) looking up future events. I haven’t signed up for any … yet.

P.S. LOTS OF LOVE to first-time triathlon athlete Jackie Jovi who did an amazing job!

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  1. says

    Back in the day when I was training for my first MS ride I set out on what I thought was a leisurely long ride on the West Orange Trail, which I heard was full of gentle, rolling hills. Only I went the wrong direction at trail head and ended up in the teeth of those Clermont hills on the Lake County trail and nearly died 10 miles in. So well done conquering those hills- they are no joke.

  2. says

    So I’ve never done a triathalon and never would have thought about working through the transitions for a quicker time! Regardless of your time, I think just the fact that you’ve done MULTIPLE races like this is impressive. Way to go!

  3. says

    I did the Irongirl Duathlon in Bloomington, MN last weekend and loved every minute of it! It was my first du, and I still have a mountain bike, but every moment of the race was very positive. I never felt like an idiot (which I was afraid of). I’m glad you had such a positive experience as well!

  4. says

    Congrats, Katy! I think you did awesome! My swimming skills aren’t so great, so I don’t know if I would ever want to do a triathlon, but this does make me want to consider the possibility of doing a duathlon someday!

    • says

      Oooh, I hope you do! You could also consider a relay with two others — you can find someone who is comfortable with his/her assigned leg and it’s really fun, too.


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