How to Be an Almost-Loser

by Laura on March 30, 2012

A month ago I literally googled, “how to train for a triathalon in two weeks.”

I had seen a sign for a sprint triathalon {don’t be too impressed, it’s much shorter than a real one} posted at our nearby school, and I remembered that running a triathalon has always been a bucket-list item for me. I’ve seen the skinny dudes with their little belts of energy-juice strapped to their waists, flinging off bike shoes with the little clips for running shoes with the perfect tread. I’ve seen the girls, fit enough to lean over a bike in nothing but a Nike bikini, sans rolls or side-leg-dimples, and I’ve always wanted to be one of them.

I’ve always wanted one of those black race numbers tattooed on my shoulder, too.

And while I didn’t have a belt with the gatorade-on-crack strapped to my waist, and while I had to borrow a bike from a friend, and while I definitely did not wear a sporty-kini but most definitely did still sport the rolls and dimples, I did finish.


And here’s how you can, too.

Top Five Ways to Finish Nearly-Last in a Sprint Triathalon

1. Give yourself two weeks or less to get ready for it. During your frantic 14 days of, ah-hem, training, try to do at least one of the three elements of the triathalon {biking, swimming, running}, while trying not to remember that on race day you’ll have to do all three, without a break.  Keep telling yourself that you’ll “work up to that,” but make sure actually not to, until race day. And then freak out just a little at what you’ve signed up for.

2. Find another wanna-be athlete friend to race with you.  Preferably, you want someone not too into the whole racing-thing to avoid the awkward, “I really can blow you away and finish second, but now I am stuck with you as a racing partner so I have to be embarrassed”-thing.  My amazing friend Debbie was the perfect choice, though, admittedly, she would look just fine biking in a bikini and she did blow me away in the biking section, even though the bike she borrowed had a baby seat attached to it.

Yup, she raced a triathalon with a baby seat. {And still had to wait for me to go from bike to run, I might add. She claimed next-next-to-last, dang her!}

3. Enlist the troops on race day. Even if you finish the second part of the race and notice that the real athletes finished all three 55 minutes ago and are packing their bikes back into their trucks already, it helps to have the occasional drive-by cheering from your family {a.k.a– Husband on a scooter with kids and gatorade}. This is also motivating because you will naturally want to avoid looking like a loser by walking the run-part in  front of people, so their spontaneous presence will motivate you to fake-it and jog just a little bit longer.

4. Get your kid to train you. My son love athletics, so I paid him to “train” me. This included lessons in how to switch the gears in a bike and how to “run really fast” from my six-year-old on the neighborhood streets. It also included a jogwalk to the closest ice cream stand for a shake as part of the rigorous endurance test. I promised 150 baht {$5 USD} for his services but promised a bonus if I finished in the top five. Which he lucked out and earned, because:

We had six entire people in our age and gender group {the old ladies}. Speaking of which,

5. Be an old lady. I would assume there is way less competition in this category, both in numbers and ability. So when you handle your own PR after the race you can technically {and honestly} say you came in fifth place {of your category, but who has to say that?} and not next-to-last {but who wants to say that, either?}

In fact, maybe it was more like, “Second in the Ladies-with-Kids category.”

Or even, “First in the 34 – 37 year-old Women’s.”

Regardless, at least my outfit matched. And that’s something. Right?


Crossed off a bucket-list item lately? One you’d like to cross off this year? What’s the hardest thing physically you’ve ever done? And, would you be crazy enough to do it again?

  • @ngie

    I love it! You are some kind of awesome, Laura! Woohoo!

    Hardest thing physically I’ve ever done? Climb a mountain at 18,000 feet. I’ve done it a couple times and will most definitely do it again. 

    • lauraparkerblog

      go girl. we have like a million 14ers in colorado, but i have yet to hike one. that’ll have to be on my bucket list next time i go back!

  • Katy

    SO fun!!! Sounds like a blast and a fun bucket item to check off =) 

  • Emkrauk

    Hi! I am a friend of Deb’s :) LOVE it that you girls did it and don’t sell yourself short on your age group. 35-39 is one of the fastest age groups there is! Bottom line is that it takes guts to try new things and I know we don’t know each other, but I can tell that we would be friends :) Would you do it again? Can’t believe Deb rode with a baby seat! Awesome! 

    • lauraparkerblog

      Hey Deb’s-friend!

      Gosh, I love her and will miss her so much when she leaves. :(

      Yeah, she totally rocked that baby seat. Even put a stash of granola bars in it for the road. Hillarious!!

  • kendalprivette

    oh this is hilarious! and very awesome! i ran a 5k last spring in which i WON ahem…the women’s  master’s category – which translates OLD women’s category. i think still the hardest physical feat ever for me was the lifeguard test as a scrawny 95 pound 15-year-old…. 

    • lauraparkerblog

      Wow, Kendal,

      “women’s masters”

      That sounds like some kind of ninja-guru-award. i guess it’s slightly better than “oldest women”! but, hey, who cares, you won!! impressive. :)

  • Courtney Orrange

    great work!!!! finishing is winning is our moto for races around here. PLUS you did it in the heat of Thailand. I think you’re a rock star! 

    • lauraparkerblog

      courtney, oh, i like that “finishing is winning.”

      see, it’s allllll in the PR. ha ha

  • Christy Doi

    I did my first sprint-tri last October (currently training for another one…whoo hoo) and I pretty much sucked it up.  Afterwards though, a friend of my said with true enthusiasm, “You just set a personal record!!”  I consider her a genius and me a highly skilled athlete for beating my personal best my first time out.  Congrats to you!!

    • lauraparkerblog

      Christy- ha ha ha

      I like that. Yeah, a personal record.

      Who cares that others beat my personal record by more than an HOUR, right?
      {They are kinda fun, aren’t they? Love the sprint tri’s b/c it just feels more attainable for the normal person!}

      Glad to hear from you, Christy. :) Love, L

  • Christian Outlaw

    Thats awesome Laura! I did a sprint triathlon my freshmen year with a team. I did the running part! Ya, there was no way I could have done the whole thing alone! So good on ya for owning the whole thing! Marlena is training for a half marathon right now, so I’ll give her some encouragement and tell her to read your post.  Thanks for inspiring :) 

    • lauraparkerblog

      Hey! half marathon! Now, THAT IS impressive! I loved the whole motivation for the race thing– even if it was only two weeks for me, I totally worked out harder in that two weeks b/c I had a goal you know– not to totally and completely embarrass myself. ha ha.

      Hope ya’ll are doing well! :)

  • Tamara Buttery

    First:  CONGRATULATIONS – really – for finishing w/ so little training!  Woo-hoo!  See, you’re still in good shape!
    Second:  DO NOT put yourself in the “old ladies” category!  That’s my category and you just can’t be in it . . . YET!
    Third:  I’m almost ready to commit to a sprint tri this summer . . . if I say I’m going to do it then I really have to : ~ )  Want to “train” here and go to much lower altitude to actually do the thing but no time/$$ to do the travel.
    Anyways, yes, it’s on my bucket list and I’m so happy reading your account of your!
    Oh, hardest physical thing?  Chemo.  My husband says it’s the recovery from chemo that’s the hardest and I’d say ok to that.
    Again, good going and thanks for posting!

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