fbpx ;

What It’s Like to Do a Triathlon … With SUP

TriathlonThe last time I did an outdoor triathlon was before my son Evan was born. I trained, I transitioned, I accomplished. So, when my friend asked me to give the SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) HP3 a try, I figured, why not? I can bike and run, or at least I can make it look like I can. Right? So, I signed up for a duathlon and started to train my body.

Later I learned the first leg of the race was a trial for future triathlons and, lucky me, I was one of the lucky eight to test it out. What is it you ask? Swimming? No, that would be too easy. I’ve done that; I know what to expect from that. No no, Kathryn who puts together events like this for the Johnson County Park and Recreation District likes to get adventurous with her races. So we were to stand up paddleboard, upright, canoe-style … minus the canoe.

Do it, she said. You’ll like it, she said. So I agreed.

Now I need you to know, I missed every training opportunity. While we were in sunny Florida surviving 10 days at Disney, amazing athletes were training a few of the novices I was accompanying in the water on race day. I didn’t even know what to wear. Kathryn said my bike and race clothes were just fine. After all, the point is to stay on the board. Oy.

So, here I was on race day. Never having stepped a foot onto the SUP (because that’s really all that fits — it’s two feet side by side). My anxiety was very clear to the trained athletes surrounding me. I think they may have even felt a little bit anxious for me. I got a quick 10-minute tutorial and then onto the board we went. The best advice the pros gave us before the race was to stay on our knees for the race. It was too choppy to stand up and the currents were pretty strong for a small lake. It was SO COLD on race day, I’m not even sure if we made it into the 40s weather wise, but truth be told, the water was warmer. I only know this because I dipped my foot in to check prior to getting on the board, and that is it.

Did you hear me? THAT IS IT! I stayed on the board! Nothing else got wet but my little toe dip to check the temperature. I STAYED DRY! WAHOO!

And, guys, I had SO much fun paddleboarding. Yes, it was difficult — mostly core strength and a lot of upper body (obviously) — but it was such a cool experience. And I learned a very important lesson upon exiting the board: it’s okay to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but it’s even more okay to let someone encourage you. I felt so empowered recognizing that my Fit Bottomed Mama body is stronger than I give myself credit for. Thanks, Kathryn!


Exiting the water and jumping on the bike was a bit of a rocky experience. It took some time for my equilibrium to balance out from water to land. The path for the bike ride and run were truly beautiful. Way more hilly than I prefer for biking, but beautiful.

I was upset on my way to the race because at 4 a.m., I realized I forgot my headphones. While riding, though, I realized that I liked it better that way. I didn’t think about my to-do list; I didn’t think about my plans for the day (except brunch, I was really excited about meeting my family for brunch! Yes, I will always be available for brunch!). I took in my surroundings, and I let myself enjoy the quiet sounds of nature.

Very few times do we actually “stop and smell the roses.” For once, I wasn’t in a rush. I didn’t have carpool to worry about or nap-time schedules. I was able to just be (thanks to my amazing husband). I wasn’t racing for time … I knew better (chuckle). So, during the 5K portion, I stopped to pet a little lovable pup who would jump wildly and scream “pet me, pet me, pet me!” with his tail every time a runner passed by. I’m pretty sure I made his day. He made mine. He made me realize that it’s okay to hit the pause button, then pick up where you left off. It was a quick little tummy pat and then I was on my way. I danced at the water stations with the darling kids who were handing some nourishment out, and I skipped to the beat at the finish line.

I didn’t think I would be able to accomplish this race. I made sure my emergency contact information was up to date on my profile, completely convinced I would be the laughingstock of the race. Dare I say I loved every minute though? So when you think you can’t do something, just try. What do you have to lose?

When’s the last time you go out of your comfort zone? What did it teach you? —Jennifer

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!