On the whole, it was like what I imagined being pregnant would be like. I was constantly exhausted and craving foods like hot dogs and peanut butter. If it hadn’t been for my pride—I had told everyone I know I was doing the triathlon—and the fact that my family and friends had made donations to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on my behalf, I would have quit after the first six weeks.
Fortunately, I met a bunch of tri girls who became my support network. At the TNT sessions I bumped into Anne Trott, an art gallery assistant I knew from my previous life as a night owl, who was also training for her first triathlon. She assured me we would both finish. “I did the marathon last year just to prove everyone wrong,” she said. Anne introduced me to Nicole Matusow, a beauty publicist and two-time triathlon veteran who told me about using Bodyglide as a guard against chafing. “If you like it, lube it,” she quipped.
And as the months passed, things began to click. I started having fun in the water, zooming through my laps pretending I could fly. Instead of watching the receding backs of others on group runs, I began to match their pace. And, still adjusting to my new bike, I managed to make it through the Five Boro Bike Tour in May, a 42-mile ride through New York City—though I did find out the hard way that you can tip over if you go too slowly up a steep hill.
It didn’t hurt that my stomach was starting to reveal baby ab muscles, my arms were firming up and my bum was diminishing. “You look great” was a common refrain from all the people I hadn’t seen in a while. I even did a “sprint” race—roughly a half triathlon—consisting of a quarter-mile swim, a 15-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run for practice and didn’t die, much to my surprise. I also started to discover why people keep going back for more, after all the blood, sweat and tears: The sport is addictive, for many reasons beyond the body-shaping benefits.
“I was always the kid who was picked last for the team,” says Elizabeth Dee, a petite Chelsea art gallery owner who raced for the first time this summer. “It’s given me a lot. In my world, there are very few things that you have complete control over, and I needed an outlet.”
As Beracasa points out, “Training makes you feel accomplished. You can inherit all the money in the world, but if you don’t accomplish anything, you can never truly feel good about yourself.”