We all LOVE an adventure. Something to get our hearts racing, something to challenge us, something to take us beyond limits where we never thought we would go.

Athlete was a word you couldn’t use to describe me 5 years ago. I didn’t run, I didn’t cycle and I definitely didn’t swim. I couldn’t catch a ball, compete in any kind of race or do anything involving any kind of extensive activity.

My passion for endurance sports began with cycling on the bike trails. For me it was a place to zone out to my favorite music with a pair of earbuds. I had a $99 Wal-Mart bike and it was perfect for what I wanted it to do. At the time life was a bit of a whirlwind and things weren’t going the way I planned. Cycling was a way to get away from it all – a way to release the tension and stress from my life. The more I rode, the better I felt and the more motivated I became to ride further, faster, stronger.

My husband finally talked me into buying a “real” bike because if I wanted to do long organized rides I needed something with a little more speed that could keep up with everyone. So I bought a brand name specialized bike and my first pair of clip in shoes. After all, if I wanted to be taken seriously I had to be clipped into my pedals.

That year we rode a LOT, a whole LOT. Every weekend and every moment of daylight we were on the trails. Getting faster and stronger. I was truly on a mission to keep increasing my speed so I started going to cycle classes 3 days a week and lifting weights in between with a good friend of mine. Cycling and working out with friends was my happy place. It not only made me look better but I felt better about myself and I became a much more happier and confident person.

I started drinking Shakeology to get all my vitamins and minerals to be healthier. I truly wanted to focus more on my nutrition as well because if you are to be a strong cyclist, you have to eat the right food to fuel your ride. I wanted to focus on all the weak parts of my body that I never used. When I wasn’t at the gym, I was home doing Turbo Jam, Les Mills Pump, Insanity or Chalean Extreme. I wouldn’t start my day without a workout because that is what started my day off on a positive note and there was no other way I wanted to get my day going.

I started feeling good about everything I was doing so I told people. I posted quotes, my workouts and the miles after all my rides. I talked to a lot and I mean a LOT of people. Everyone wanted to know what I was doing, why I was always so positive and if they could join me at the gym or during a class. I made a lot of new friends because when you are a happy and positive person, people want to be around you because they want to be happy and positive. Good vibes are naturally transferable and I enjoyed sharing them with as many people as I could, answering questions through emails and texts on a daily basis.

The holidays rolled around and I was at a party and sat next to a woman who had done triathlons all her life. It seemed like something impossible to me, but I was completely intrigued. I asked a gazillion questions that night and was convinced it was something that was challenging but I could definitely do it if I trained hard and focused on my goal.

I knew I could bike, and I knew I was fast but running was totally different and when I started I could barely run a half mile before I had to stop and catch my breath. But I was determined and persistent and after a few months, I built up to running 2 miles without stopping. That to me was a huge accomplishment at the time. I started posting all of my runs on social media. At first just to motivate myself, but then it seemed to motivate others. I wasn’t a runner – but that was what made so many people intrigued. Once again, questions were pouring in on how to get started… Couch to 5K was my solution and it was what I used and it worked for me.

One day an acquaintance who I only met once private messages me and asked if I was interested in running the trails. Remembering back I think our first run we barely made it through a half mile until we hit a hill and we walked up it, but we did “the loop” and decided to try it again a few days later. After a few months, we were running the entire 4 miles non-stop.

So the last thing I had to work on was swimming. There was a pool at my local gym so I ventured into it one morning. I think I swam 2 or 3 laps and stopped. Then I went back the next day and did it again. After a week I started talking to the people in the pool and naturally swimming in the winter they asked if I was training for anything. I told them I wanted to do a triathlon. I quickly learned athletes LOVE TO HELP other budding athletes. To this day, I think that is the one thing that I truly LOVE about athletes. They are always willing to help, give advice and answer questions even if they are in the middle of training for something themselves. My new friends at the gym gave me so much input and tips. “Make sure you have a wetsuit”. Probably the MOST IMPORTANT thing I learned in the pool that winter.

So now I could bike, I could run and I could swim (at least a quarter mile in the pool). So I signed up for my first triathlon – Delmo Sports “Tri The Wildwoods”. I was excited and scared and determined. All I wanted to do was finish and that was all that mattered.

Gina Stango
Gina Stango

I trained hard, looking back… I trained too hard. I pushed and pushed and pushed to be better every day. Unfortunately 2 weeks before my event I pushed so hard I tore my calf while running. The first week I took a break from running, but still cycled and swam. 1 week to go and I was still limping so I went to my doctor and she said there was no damage. I could slowly start building up, but take it one day at a time.

I wasn’t giving up on my first triathlon ever. After all the dedication I was determined to do it one way or another… and I did.

At the start of my first triathlon I met a lot of lifeguards during the ocean swim. I trained in the pool but never swam in the ocean. Hence the reason I was extremely thankful someone from the gym told me to buy a wetsuit! I stopped at every point I could smiling and laughing and talking to the lifeguards sitting on platforms in the ocean. I just kept repeating the same thing… laughing at myself but amazed saying “I can’t believe I’m doing this”. It took me a while, but I swam my 1/4 mile and made it back to shore!

Next up was the bike, but first the transition. Why it took me 7 minutes to change my shoes and brush my hair, I have NO IDEA. I kept thinking I was forgetting something so I double and triple checked. It felt like I was moving super quick, but in reality it was all new to me and I wasn’t quite sure what the heck I was doing but I was just moving forward and doing it.

So I cruised through the cycling. Definitely my strong point. The ride was great and I felt confident and ready to finish the last leg of my Tri. Back to transition… Why I spent so much time putting just the right music on my iPhone I will never know… But again another learning experience about what you DON’T spend time on in transition.

Off to the run… the run that lasted about a mile until my calf said “Enough is enough” and gave way. After all this… There was NO WAY I was giving up… So I skipped along the boards, sped walked as runners passed me clapping because they know I was struggling and literally limped through the finish line. But I finished! And after all of that, crossing over the finish Line I had an air of excitement, accomplishment and adventure that I had never had before. I was IMMEDIATELY ADDICTED!
That summer I did another Triathlon – Delmo Sports “AC Tri”. I learned SO MUCH from my first one that made me better during this one. I didn’t overtrain so I was in good shape to go and I thoroughly thought out my transitions so it was a no-brainer about what I needed to do before heading onto the next part of the race. Again the adventure and excitement of my accomplishment made every second beyond worthwhile.

That year I completed my First Century Ride (100 miles in a day) and a few months later my First Half Marathon (13.1 Baby).

The following summer I did 3 more Triathlons including Delmo Sports “Escape the Cape”. I’m afraid of heights… But I jumped 12 feet from a boat and swam to shore. You want to talk about gaining confidence? I almost didn’t do it… but I knew deep in my heart that it was a challenge and if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND to try it!!! You can’t even imagine how EMPOWERING something like that is!!!

So you ask WHY I TRI? So many reasons… It’s unimaginable what you can accomplish when you focus on something and that’s what the sport of doing Triathlons has taught me. Those lessons carry on to real life making you a stronger, more confident individual who doesn’t let fear stop you from doing what you want to do in life.

In the Tri world it’s not about winning the race… it’s competitive but it’s not… you are in a race against yourself but everyone on the sidelines is running next to you. Not in front of you, not behind you, but next to you. It’s a pretty amazing group of focused individuals. I have met so many truly inspiring people. We joke from time to time that we are the “Cool Kids” but we truly are!
I recently was asked to be on Team Delmo 2016. I can’t even explain in words what an honor that is. And of course, they have all inspired me to take my Triathlons to the next level. So… the goal for this winter is to spend a lot of time in the pool focusing on my weakest link. But I’m fully confident that I will be focused enough to get to where I need to be.

Wondering if you can Tri? DID YOU JUST READ MY STORY?!?! Seriously… If I can do it, you can do it!!! I’m on a MISSION to inspire others to do great things so if you’ve ever even thought about it, inbox me! I can tell you how normal can be EXTRAORDINARY! #iTri #DelmoSports #GirlPower

Tags : continuous and sequential endurance disciplinescyclingmultiple-stage competitionrunningSwimmingTriathlon
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