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Mention the word “triathlon” and most people have the same usual response

Written by Martin Gregorie

Mention the word “triathlon” and most people have the same usual response,  “Oh that sounds hard” or “I could never do that”.  It wasn’t that long ago that I felt that way myself.

Each step that is taken in a triathlon is a challenge, yet not all triathlons are created equal. True they all consist of swimming, biking, and running-always in that order but the distances vary. People assume that that all triathlons mean the Ironman, which is an event that while fascinating is only reserved for the truly dedicated or insane.

My journey into multi-sport triathlon started in 2013 with indoor triathlons or “try a tri” which are 15-minute timed segments of swimming, spin biking and tread mill or track running. Initially I did these events as a way to beat the winter blues and the treadmill just seemed to get boring.  In my mind I thought that it was a safe environment to try something different and if I could get out of the pool alive, that alone would be a victory. 

I think one of the reasons I was hesitant to attempt an outdoor triathlon initially was that in my having Cerebral Palsy, running was challenge enough.  To add two other disciplines BEFORE running just seemed like some sort of self inflicted torture

Swimming seems to be the biggest obstacle for anyone who is considering doing a triathlon.  It was no different for me. . Oddly, while my legs allow me to run, they are rendered useless in the water.  My ability to swim rests entirely on my upper body.  Still, like anything I have to work at it.

As I became more comfortable in the water, the events seemed to become more inviting.  Soon the thoughts of the next event consumed my mind.  Like my running 5k races before, I started to look at triathlon as a way to prove something to not only myself, but to other people. . For me it was to prove that at the age of 39 my body was getting better, and not worse. That Cerebral Palsy was part of my life but cannot limit what I can accomplish

Doing a triathlon event, just that one time, can get you sucked in and keep you coming back and trying to beat your performance from the previous event.

2014 was my first true “season” of triathlon.  I even went as far as to register as a member of USAT as a para-triathlete.  This was a big step for me.  Registering as a para athlete meant admitting to myself that I have a disability. This was tough to take, but it was the best thing I could have ever done.  Not only did it make my race day experience more enjoyable, it gave me a sense of pride knowing that my being out on the course among all the other fantastic athletes, I was representing the thousands like me who dare to dream, participate and compete.

As a para-athlete, I am given certain race day accommodations.  These aren't to make my race easier, but to level the playing field and make my race experience as safe as possible for myself and other competitors.  In registering for a triathlon, I ask for just three things from Score This race officials. Assistance with my wetsuit and a chair in transition, and perhaps some assistance getting onto and off my bike.  The Score This team was wonderful at making my race day experiences enjoyable and memorable at the same time.

Starting with the ECC Kats triathlon, it was all about participating and finishing or so I thought.  Soon after seeing the results I found myself wanting more, knowing I could do that much better if I worked at it.  So it was on to PAIN in the Alleghenies and a bike course that lives up to its name.  Then it was the Summer Sizzler and finally the Finger Lakes Tri. Each event filled with its own unique set of challenges.

The truth is you will never know what your body is capable of unless you begin to demand more from it. Sure I set goals for myself. I wanted so badly to finish a Sprint distance in less than 2 hours. I fell short this year but every event I learned something that will eventually get me there

Physically challenged, old, or even over weight, if you can try, you can compete. Taking the first step toward your finish line is up to you. I promise you this.  If you take that step, it won’t be long before you will discover what possible can look like.

Please take a moment to check out Marty's Charity Footsteps of WNY: http://www.footstepsofwny.org/

Marrin Gregoire is the first paratriathlete in the history of the Score This!!! Multisport Series to receive a series award for his accompliments in the 2014 series.  CHeck out the Score This!!! Multisport Series here:  http://score-this.com/st-multisport-series

 

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