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Karen H

Thank you so much for sharing that! You are amazing and inspiring! If it makes you feel any better, I was so far at the back of a 5K once and couldn't see anyone that I got lost--the course wasn't marked very well. I finally finished but I made the race a lot longer than it was supposed to be;) Always checked the course map after that!


Very inspiring post Karen, thank you for being so real and amazing. I'll keep that quote on my work desk too...
When would Josh be back?


Way to put yourself out there! See you in class Jan 9.


You should really be proud of yourself for this! It doesn't matter what place you came in, but the fact that you stayed with it to the end and finished, is awesome!!

Jane Swanson

What an amazing story! Thank you so much for sharing it with such honest candor and humor.
You are an incredible woman. I will pray that the months go quickly while you are separated from your husband and that you would feel the presence of God in deep ways while you wait.

I have already printed the quote and have it plastered in a few places to remind me!
(The refrigerator being the MAIN place!)


You are amazing!!!! Congratulations on finishing the tri!!! And thank you for sharing with such honesty. Hope 2012 is great to you!

Kirsten J

Dude - I totally forgot about your triathlon and how you didn't tell the story. You never cease to amaze me - I'm just not sure I would have kept going. I totally gasp and choke in water, too. Bottom line, you did it! I only walk, and was going to skip my walk today after 5+ miles yesterday, but I'm going to get out there today, thanks to your inspiration - thank you!!

Melissa S.

I've come back to read this 3 or 4 times now. Thanks for putting in the crying parts. I cry too sometimes when I'm pushing through hard stuff, or when I feel overwhelmed by life, even though (in spite of the fact) I'm this really strong (usually) person. The crying parts? So real. Thanks for that.

Desiree Chandler

awwwww I LOVE this post!!! you are so inspiring!!! Congratulations and WAY TO GO!!! You ROCK!!!

Paola Norman

I'll keep it simple, your AWESOME (and very real). Love your quote, it helps raise one up. Thank-you!


Thanks for sharing you story. I will get to the gym tonight or go for a walk with the dogs.


You inspire me, give me hope and just overall amaze me...

Jen B

I love reading your stories Karen, especially this one. I admire your incredible perseverance and the fact that you finished not just a triathlon, but an Olympic distance tri, way to go!


Karen, KUDOS to you on the triathlon!! freakin' AMAZING! So many people THINK about doing this (myself included) and you actually go out and DO IT!! As something who has done two 5Ks I absolutely LOVED this post because when you talk about the fear of coming in last I can SO relate to that. The two races I entered that was my greatest fear and EACH time my husband told me: WHO CARES what place you come are doing this race for YOU and just finishing is an accomplishment! Why is it so easy for guys to think like that and us women have to ANALYZE everything?!! LOL! CONGRATS on a HUGE accomplishment and I am in LOVE with that quote and I am going to do something special with it. I am at a crossroads right now and this quote is PERFECT! thank you!!

Amy O'Sullivan

Wow, I love this! Very inspiring!


Sometimes the thing you most need to hear comes just when you need to hear it. Thanks!


Yes, you are AMAZING. and inspiring. and beautiful inside and out.
and at 43 (me, really?) i don't want to be where I am with faith, weight, fitness, energy, and motivation... so thank you. here's to 2012.

Jen CT

You are amazing!! Get a mirror and look into it to see all that we see. Thank you so much for all you do for us - you are so real. I'm in the cry group too - Thank you!!!


Whoa. That's totally encouraging. Thank you so much for sharing. I'm just trying to get ready for my first 5k at the end of February, and every single time I begin a workout I panic and think I'm not going to be able to finish. And then I do somehow. But I'm still kinda worried that I won't be able to do it when the time comes. And the panic/pee thing, totally see myself stuck in the potty when the race starts. And it's just a 5k? Like many of the others, I'm going to print out that quote and put it somewhere I can read every day. Thanks again!

Shelly McCrary

So glad that you decided you were ready to post the story of your 1st triathlon, I've been waitng since the day you partipated in it to read about it!
Perserverance is key, and you blew that characteristic away!
I didn't realize that you were competing the day before Josh about adding on challenge on top of challenge. What a strong woman you are indeed!

Jody Willing

What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing such an important moment in your life. Just like Tess I cried along with you and was thrilled when you finished.

As you already know finishing anything that comes hard in life is the battle; things that come easy don't make us grow.

May 2012 be as wonderful for you as this post!


Thank you so much for sharing. So inspiring. I cried with you, but mostly just felt so very PROUD of you. That took so much courage to do. If it was easy, everyone would do it and you truly showed your courage with it being so hard. What a great example for your children, for us all. I will remember this as I am on my journey to fitness. It always seems so easy for other people. Maybe it is, and then again maybe they didn't have the courage to share how hard it was and what it took to accomplish. Thank you, Karen.
Again, I am just so very proud of you.

Those people on the sidelines? Not sympathy clapping. Nope. That was clapping in awe of someone who had more guts than they did. Someone who got off the sidelines and into the triathlon.


What an absolutely touching, inspiring writing. Thank you for sharing. I havent cried tears that real in a long time. God bless. Keep going--you can do it!!! <3


I read this but got sidetracked and didnt get a chance to respond, and tell you how awesome this post is. Later in the evening I was reading some Biblical cornerstones to my children when I read a section and knew I had to share with you. God was with you through the whole race and sent encouragement in the beginning with Josh, in the middle with the water lady and in the end with your sister/friend! I hope the following blesses you!
"As you read the Bible, you will come across words like endurance and perseverance. These words are often used when the Bible compares the Christian life to a race. The race referred to is a marathon, not a fifty-yard dash. Because the Christian life is a long distance run, you need to pace yourself, to persevere, and most of all, to FINISH the race." The following passages describe how and why you need to persevere through the inevitable strugglies in life:

Perseverance produces results-As you grow in your understanding of God's Word and apply it to your life, you will win others to the Lord. (Luke 8:15)
Life's trials will make you stronger-You shouldn't view difficulties as obstacles to your faith, but as opportunities for spiritual growth. (James 1:2-4)
Christ endured great pain for us- Jesus modeled the ultimate in endurance so that we would be encouraged to keep our faith strong in the race of life. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
God honors those who persevere- A wholehearted commitment to God will enable you to finish well with your faith in tact. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Lisa V.

Karen, you are an amazing woman - don't EVER doubt that. I'm so proud of you for competing in that triathalon, what an accomplishment! You pushed yourself. Really, truly pushed yourself beyond your limits and SUCCEEDED. And at such a difficult time in your life too.
You did something I can't even dream of doing. I have fibromyalgia and arthritis throughout my body. I struggle to walk to the end of my short street - on a good day. Be grateful and proud, Woman! You are blessed! Thank you for sharing your story,it inspires me to try harder.

Bernadette @b3hd

I lurk here all the time. And I know you don't blog for comments but I couldn't not just say hello on this post. So many times, I've intended to say just how much one of your posts has touched me. And then the days (weeks, months, years) passed by.

One day (not soon, but someday...maybe when I'm 39 *smile*). I will do a marathon. Whole heartedly. Not as just something to check off a list. I'm honestly so afraid of everything that you wrote and as I read your post I was like "and she's still here to tell the tale".

I'm not as young as I used to be and I'm a procrastinator by nature. But your post really pushed me to really stop for a moment ("stop" to a procrastinator is a comfy place, I suppose) and really think about being intentional.

Oh. And you mentioned that Josh left out of El Paso for Afghanistan. And that was the moment I cried. I miss home (I'm a military brat) and I miss a lot of stuff because I'm often too afraid to just get up and try already.

Thank you for taking the time to be vulnerable. Often.


this is so touching and raw and beautiful.
you are a gifted writer
and such an inspiration

Anna A.

My dad always tells me the exact.same.thing. Smart people, I suppose. I was just telling my sister-in-law that I want to do a triathalon - despite the fact that I can't even swim one full lap without stopping to catch my breath. But I keep thinking that if I can complete a triathalon, I can complete ANYTHING. I really needed to hear what you had to say today - you rock! And if you ever want to do another triathalon with a total stranger from Alaska - let me know. ;)


You should be proud of yourself for even attempting such a thing! My boyfriend is a triathlete and it's tough stuff, even for a little skinny runner/biker/Navy guy! And it's okay to cry! Thank God for the older women out there who can dispense love and support (and a bosom to cry on) at exactly the right time. I was a single mom for a long time before I met my beloved. There have been many days when I didn't think I'd make it another minute, hour, day. Those women and other angels God sent to me were the difference.


I'm not surprised you cried! I just cried, but that was exactly what I needed to read. thank you for sharing! :)


Karen - kudos. I cried as I read this as well. But I smiled while I cried if that counts. :) I've been waffling on a goal for 2012. And obviously, God sent me here tonight to read that quote (and I'm reading this post on Jan 8th because I'm playing catch up on blog reading after the holidays!). THANKS. I love how brave you are. (but even better, your children will love your bravery for lifetimes to come!) Heidi in Ontario


When am I going to learn to stop reading your blog at work? I cry EVERYTIME no matter what you are writing about and I ALWAYS read to the end!:) Thanks again for inspiring me. YOU ROCK!

Kim Thomas

I have to say, I don't know why you ever felt like a loser. Your story is so inspiring, and I'm so proud of you. Thank you for posting it. You are an amazing woman, god bless you. And you are lucky to have such a wonderful sister. Take care. :)


I've been wanting to do a 5k since starting to run last January but have been afraid that I wouldn't be able to do it or worried that I wouldn't be able to run the whole way. Thanks for inspring me! I'm going to be 50 in April and my goal is to run one before then!


Soooo inspiring, Karen! You should be super PROUD of what you accomplished!! Way to go!!

Nathalie Hardy

Imagine what the numbers would be if you compared all the people who haven't ever tried something like this - to the ones who did - like, say, you! Awesome, awesome you. Enjoy your journey this year!


You are amazing. Thank you for sharing. I almost cried, and probably the only thing that kept me from doing it is knowing once I start it will be hard to stop and I don't want to explain that to my kids right now. I love the fact you found the inspiration to do this, despite all that felt against you. Right now I am actually inspired. My husband ran a 15K this past summer and I can barley walk 3 miles. But after 4 kids and the weight that has come with that I'm trying. And the quote you shared is going on a page to hang on my wall today. Thank you.


I am always telling everyone that "everything happens for a reason." Today your post was put in front of me by Ali Edwards for a reason. I have been really evaluating myself recently and your post really touched me; especially the quote. Thank you for writing to all of us about your experience and thank you to Ali for introducing me to your blog.

Kristina Australia

I cried too.... Loved it. You are truly amazing. You have just made the impossible seem possible after reading your story. You are so inspirational. After reading your story I know then absolutely I can do anything. Thank you.


You are an inspiration in many ways. I've *cried* reading this. Like cried. Cried. Thanks, I guess. Lol :)


I too cried while reading your story...and as someone who has come in so far last doing a 5k that the the cop tailing the participants asked if I wanted a ride and the finish line was being dismantled when I finally got to it (on my own two feet, thank you very much!), I definitely sympathize with you. BUT, the point, as you came to realize, is that you DID didn't give up and you proved how strong you are. I've never been an "athlete". For starters, I'm not really that competitive - I like beating my own times but for me the thrill of doing a race/walk is proving to myself that I CAN do it. I have severe arthritis in one ankle (joint replacement is in my future) and am actually, per my orthopedic surgeon, not supposed to do any sustained walking and most definitely no running. However, I do walk (almost) every year in the Race for the Cure (with a fracture boot on the bad foot) and am happy to finish in an hour or least with that many participants, I'd have to be crawling to come in last! ;o) And, even though I am 100+ lbs overweight, in November 2011 I actually did a half marathon with virtually no training, except walking maybe once a week for about 6 weeks before race day! It was hands (feet?) down the hardest thing I have ever done. I started out fairly good but got slower and slower with each mile 7, I was passed by an old(er) woman using a walker and shortly after that, a man with an artifical leg passed me as well! By mile 9, I was ready to quit because every part of my body HURT so badly and I was having trouble breathing from trying so hard not to have a total breakdown. If it weren't for the encouraging texts I was getting from my family each time I sent them a photo of the mile marker I was passing, I would have just laid down in the street and waited for someone to pick me up. But, I kept going repeating all the while "just put one foot in front of the other". Once I got to mile 10, I started feeling better emotionally and knew I had gone too far to give up. But when I saw the hill at the start of the last 1/4 mile, I thought "there is no freakin' way I can make it", lol! But, I just kept my eyes on the pavement right in front of me and I got to the top! And I have never felt more proud of myself as I did crossing that finish line. Even better was the fact that I wasn't anywhere close to being last! I plan to do the same half marathon this year but will actually train properly for it. Reading your story is giving me even more inspiration, so thanks for sharing it with us!

I am getting ready to sign up for the Ireland very excited about it!

Nancy Wyatt

Oh my gosh Karen Russell! I cried the entire time you wrote about the tri! Congrats, you are AMAZING! Thanks for the inspiration, you ROCK!!! Hugs from Conroe, TX!


Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm really proud of you and inspired to feel the same way about myself.


Fantastic, Karen! I'm laughing, I'm crying and I'm cheering you on AND I'm smiling- because you did it! What great message, thank you for sharing it here and for so many people to inspire :)


Good for you. You did it. It's all you. You should be very proud of yourself.

Shirra VanZwieten

Dear Karen

I can't tell you how much this post touched me. I am a "runner" - don't look like one, but have found my athlete again at an overweight 150 lbs. Last year I ran the Buffalo 1/2 Marathon and it was pretty much a disaster. It was the second one I've done - and in so manner ways, horrible from start to finish. I probably walked half of it. I was (am) so disappointed in myself. My husband kept saying - you ran 13.1 miles - but in my head, I failed. Thanks for reminding me that I'm not alone in my struggles - that other people experience challenges like I do. I love your vulnerability in your blog. I relate to you in many ways - faith, transparency, children, humor and ultimately joie de vivre that I hear in between the lines. I took your photography class and LOVED it. I'm cheering in your corner for you and the fam with your husband serving our country. Thanks for sharing - shirra

Cheryl M

Okay, I just read this today but add me to the sniffling-kleenex-grabbing bunch. And I just have to say woman, you have absolutely NO reason to feel bad AT ALL! Do you have any idea how much admiration I have for you right now?? I USED to be trim and fit and now I'm a 54 year-old grandma to 4 grandsons and can't even walk 1 stinkin' mile on the treadmill because I don't have any willpower.
But you have spurred me to get off the couch and DO SOMETHING!
And I LOVE the "one year from today"'s my new motto!!
Thank you Karen for being who you are and so real to all of us!
Love ya gal!!

Julia Spencer

You lapped everyone on the couch. :) You finished. You finished. You finished. Sometimes that goal is more worthy than a win.


I came in dead last in a triathlon once. My bike was nicknamed the Heifer because it was so heavy. I was passed by every single biker and was followed by the sag wagon for most of the bike route. I cried for nearly the entire route. I told myself I'd let myself quit if I played the ABC game and made it all the way through the alphabet on the road signs. I never found the letter Z and finished. It was the worst and best race of my life.

My triathlon days came before I was a 30 (now 34) year old single mom. Reading your post makes me want to race again. Only with a lighter bike. :-)


You absolutely have nothing to feel defeated or discouraged about! What you accomplished is AMAZING! You should hold your head high and be proud. Becca :-)

triathlon training

Hi,"You are awesome!!" I am very impressed to watching your post.That is very authentic & fantastic.


I "stumbled" upon your post through Pinterest of all places. . . and it was a twisty trail to get here at that, but I'm SO thrilled I did!!!

I LOVED this post!! I am MUCH older than you. I started running two summers ago at the age of 63. I am still stuck at the 5K level cuz I've had a couple of physical set backs (plantar fasciitis and a pulled hamstring...and now a broken bone in a hand...cuz I tripped on a sidewalk...yep, while running).....however, I still love the challenge of running and when I get the blasted splint off my hand in 9 days, I will be back out there working again on regaining my 5K endurance lever.

I so admire you and the other 2 for making that commitment and sticking to it. I admire you the most, though, for hanging in there and finishing are a hero to me! I would never be able to compete in one of those for two bike...and I hate water...but I think it's wonderful that you did that!!!!!

I'm going to share this post with some running buddies of mine...some my age and a couple of 40 somethings. We're all pretty new at running and I'm sure they will love your story as much as I do!!


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I just stumbled on this post and am so thankful for it! I just signed up for this year's Portland Triathlon and could not be more nervous, even 9 months out! I've never done any kind of race, and unlike most first time Tri-attempters, my weak point is the running and my strong is the swimming. I'm really not even sure it's a realistic goal to say I'll run the whole running portion. I'm probably going to read this post a bunch of times between now and September. Thanks for sharing, even if it was hard.


I googled "weeping during a triathlon" and your blog came up. Thank you for sharing your story. I just finished my 4th tri yesterday, and have never had a more difficult time. Apparently I pushed myself mentally more during the swim than I'd ever had to before and started hysterically weeping during the bike component and then again during the run. But, I finished. Your story soothed me, and made me super impressed with you.

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