Kicking off triathlon season with Gear West

Kicking off triathlon season with Gear West - Gear West

Gear West is offering triathlon clinics for beginners and experienced athletes alike. Led by Mary Deeg and Jeff Gilmer, the four-week clinic will focus on a different skill of triathlon each week.
To kick off the season, we asked Mary to share her story about becoming a passionate triathlete.

Clinics begin May 15. You can sign up here

Triathlon….it changed my life.
By Mary Deeg

It began with a postcard that arrived in the mail in early January 2006. It was from Team In Training encouraging me to consider training for an Olympic Triathlon. It was one of the most difficult periods of my life. My father was battling cancer and I was going through a divorce. 

I probably would have tossed that postcard in the bin at another point, but something caught my eye. The group would help with the training, and, in exchange, I would raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This offer made me stop in my tracks and think. Up until this point, I had been so engrossed in getting my “future LIFE in order” and moving forward as a single mom for my three kids. I hadn’t thought about what would be good for me. 

That postcard made me realize I was ready to take that next step. I was ready to do something good for myself and for others. I said to myself, “I can do this!” The effort of raising money to cure Leukemia and Lymphoma Hodgkin's disease while also setting a fitness goal was just what I needed. I attended the Team In Training kick-off informational meeting, listened to their message, and made the decision to commit. 

My first triathlon was now just six months away, and they set me up with a step-by-step plan. 

Step one, I had to buy a bike. I made a budget of $1000 for a new road bike plus the gear, and asked a friend who was an experienced cyclist to meet me at his favorite bike shop. First step completed.

Step two, I had to get time in the lap pool. That was easy since I’ve been a YMCA member for years. My kids were thrilled to have fun in the pool while I cranked out the laps.

Step three, I had to start running. I got fitted for a new pair of running shoes and followed a running plan to increase my mileage.

I mainly trained by myself, until I met a guy…an athletic guy. He was interested in helping me achieve my triathlon goal. We started biking together after he bought a road bike just like mine…same color. He helped me with my running stride, and we ran together. He watched from the shoreline when I would do my open practice water swims. As the race date got closer, I felt I was physically ready for the swim, bike and run but I didn’t know how to put them all together. I worried how the race would play out. Could I really do this?

I had many questions.

What do I wear on race day? What will it be like to swim one mile in a lake with hundreds of people? How much water should I carry on the bike? What nutrition should I use? What do I eat for breakfast prior to the race? How do I set up my stuff in transition? What if I get a flat tire?

I’m scared. There’s so much I don’t know about triathlons.

I didn’t sleep a wink that night before the race. Instead, I worried about everything that could go wrong.

Not only did I finish the race with my dad cheering for me, but I also reached my goal of raising over $4000+ for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 


What an amazing accomplishment. My legs were sore, and my heart was full of happiness. I had grown immensely over 6 months with self-confidence, courage, just by setting a goal and challenging myself each day to accomplish that goal.

It’s seventeen years later. I have competed over 130 races including triathlons, duathlons, marathons, half-marathons, 10k’s, 5k’s and 1-mile races locally, nationally and internationally. I’ve set goals for myself and worked hard to achieve them. I’ve learned a great deal and felt some hard defeats with racing. Yet I’ve gained lifelong friendships along this triathlon journey with some of the best people. I’m strong and healthy. I’ve built up my confidence and passion for fitness. I’ve also realized my desire to give back. I care deeply about helping others achieve their goals…whatever those goals might be. 

You might be wondering what happened with that “athletic guy” I was training with?  I married him! We’ve been racing together ever since. We’ve developed a Triathlon Clinic program for folks interested in learning the basics of each aspect of Triathlon and sharing our insights with people wanting to hone some specific racing skills. The four-part Triathlon Clinics we’ve developed takes place each spring hosted by Gear West located in Long Lake, Minnesota. Come out and be part of a terrific community and feel the support for Triathlon. 

Come check out the opportunities for your future in Triathlon and race with confidence. 

We’ll show you the ropes.

Mary Deeg

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