A New Triathlete: Serving Three Churches to Completing Three Sports
By The Rev. E. Wendy Huber
Moving to the Rocky Mountain region, where everyone seems to run and hike and ski, from a hot humid region where everyone walks from air conditioned car to air-conditioned buildings, to serve three small churches, was a culture shock as well as a fitness shock.
Early in my tenure, I attended a CPG Wellness Program and realized I needed to step up my game in order to meet the challenges of my new position. I remained sedentary until I met a few cheerful women who urged me to join the Roaring Fork Women’s Triathlon Team (RFWTT). The group gathers for 14 weeks each summer to train for a Sprint Triathlon: Tri for the Cure held in August in Denver, CO. Our coaches and many team members are cancer survivors, and most race for someone special.
The women ranged in age from 30 to 73, and were all shapes and sizes and fitness levels. For instance, I knew that the triathlon had three sports, but had no idea what they might be. When I found out that one of the sports was swimming, my anxiety rose. I swim like a cat with my “whiskers” always above water and certainly could tread water. But moving forward in water was not something I knew how to do at all. For more than 18 years, coaches have worked tirelessly to teach and coach and encourage the team of 50 RFWTT women (25 new or “tri-babies” and 25 “tri-umphs”). We started with walk to run, then we added the bicycle, and we practiced swimming in our wonderful warm hot springs pool.
After several weeks, we started to train in the open water in two local reservoirs. We wore wet suits, as the water temperature was cold in those mountain bodies of water. The sisterhood kept us going, and Wednesday mornings at 6:00AM, when we wanted to go back to sleep, our sisters would urge us on. At night, we all drove to the front range of the Rocky Mountains and had a team dinner together.
When race day finally came, we woke early and in the dark rode our bikes to the site and set up our transition areas where we would move from event to event. Swimming was first and my stomach knotted immediately as I looked out at the far away buoys marking the corners. When the starter said we could begin, I almost turned around, but there were encouraging people all around me. I was also racing for my mom who lost her battle with cancer in 2006. I slowly made my way, and even rested on a flotation device a couple times (I got so nervous that my breathing was not under control). Half a mile later, I was stepping out of the water and headed to the bicycle. I rode 12 miles to the next transition to the 5K run. I finished! Others competed; I completed!!
Meanwhile, back at my three churches, there were prayers for my safety and success, and I know prayers were answered as this tired priest finished to see husband, daughter, son-in-law, and tiny granddaughter at the finish line. The three churches welcomed the new triathlete back the next Sunday with joy and pride as the fear was overcome, and Christ’s words echoed: “Do not be afraid.”
The Rev. E. Wendy Huber is a “third-act” priest (attorney and dispute resolution consulting before), now serving three churches on the Western Slope of Colorado in the Episcopal Church of Colorado: St. Barnabas, Glenwood Springs; St. Johns, New Castle; and All Saints, Battlement Mesa. She has enjoyed a successful career in conflict management, and was ordained in the Diocese of Texas and served two churches there. She is enjoying her new climate and culture, and plans on training next year as a “tri-umph.” Contact The Rev. E. Wendy Huber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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