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Women’s Tri Story – This Finish Line Ends at “I Do”

By YWCA of Minneapolis
May 21, 2015
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Siri Halvorson-Garnaas is getting married on August 22, 2015. What better way to kick off her wedding week festivities than by participating in a triathlon with friends and family? Sound a bit extreme? Not to Siri.

Siri participated in last year’s Women’s Tri, her first-ever triathlon, and was excited to come back again. “I really wanted to do the Tri again and actually train for it and try and beat my time. I’m competitive with myself and knew I could do better than last year!” When Siri noticed that the date of the 2015 YWCA of Minneapolis Women’s Tri was six days before her wedding she thought this was the perfect opportunity to share this special occasion with loved ones. She thought doing the race with them could be a way to make her wedding even more memorable.

Persuading family and friends to join her in the Women’s Tri was easier than Siri expected. “I didn’t do much convincing. I just sent an email out and put it on Facebook as a fun idea to do together. People who wanted to, gladly signed up. People who were hesitant, decided on their own that it would be a fun event to do together.”

Siri has four family members and friends joining her, ranging from first-time to experienced triathletes. “This is my mom, Mary’s, first tri, and my friend, Joani’s, first tri.” Siri’s aunt, Lisa, ran her first and only triathlon 21 years ago, so she is carefully preparing for this race. “Everyone except me and my aunt, Becky, are either participating in their first triathlon or participating again after many years.”

Siri’s motivation to compete in her first triathlon was her aunt Becky and the supportive and inclusive environment at the YWCA Women’s Tri. “Becky’s done about seven or eight YWCA Women’s Triathlons, and I watched her the year before I signed up. It’s not very intimidating when you see so many women of different abilities out there having fun, so I thought I would give it a try! I’m coming back because I loved it the first time, and as I said before, I have to keep beating my time!”

Siri’s aunt, Lisa, is re-approaching triathlons at a different age and stage in her life and acknowledged this is a big challenge. To properly prepare for the event she downloaded the three-month program from the YWCA Women’s Tri website to learn how to begin to run. “Since it’s the first time I’ve done this in 21 years, and I have generally become less active than before, I know I need to carefully prepare for this race.”

“My first run was four segments of two-minute runs. After that, I had shin splints that took a week to become pain-free. That told me that now was the time, if ever, to sign up with a personal coach. Also, a first for me. I signed up for the ‘Basic Endurance Sports Coaching Package’ at the YWCA.” Lisa is in the early stages of training with her personal coach, but is happy to report she has no shin splints! “So I’m very hopeful that with an experienced coach and three months to prepare, I will be able to finish.”

For Lisa, Siri’s wedding triathlon was just the push she needed to try another triathlon; something that she has been thinking about for a while. “I had always thought of myself as an athlete, but that just wasn’t true anymore! Could I still get in good shape? What could my body do now at age 55? That wondering, plus the fun involved in being part of Siri’s wedding week, was all the inspiration I needed.”

Siri’s advice for women thinking about trying multi-sport events is, “Do it!” “I am a yoga instructor, and after years of sports injuries I decided to stop ‘working out’ and save my body from the pain by only doing yoga. While yoga is an amazing way to move your body, you need to cross-train, do some cardio, strength training, high intensity interval training and anything else that lets you have fun while you move your body.“

Lisa encourages anyone training for a triathlon to take advantage of the coaching and classes offered by the YWCA. “There are plenty of free classes that will give you basic information; and a personal trainer or coach will give you the confidence that with step-wise, steady training you will get to your goal.”

“Any time, and any way, you can spend time with your loved ones do it!” Siri commented. “If you get to do it while running, biking, swimming, working your butt off while hundreds of people are cheering for you, even better! I wish I had thought about doing this before, but this is my first wedding.”

Lisa is excited to celebrate this milestone with her family. “There is so much that is fun about this, and the best thing of all is that you are doing something healthy together. We have a family member who will be our ‘official photographer’, and the grandmother of the bride will join one of us for the finish line.”

Lisa noted that while “Siri and her aunt Becky are pros and hope to improve their times. I just hope to finish and have fun.” While each participant in Siri’s group has different time goals they all share the same goal of having fun and celebrating Siri.

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