Athletes cross the finish line of the annual Beginner Tri for MS, a non-timed event for athletes interested in trying triathlons. The event includes a 500 metre swim, a 17.5 kilometre bike ride and a four km run and begins at the Saanich Commonwealth Pool Sunday, May 7. Connie Dunwoody photo

Athletes cross the finish line of the annual Beginner Tri for MS, a non-timed event for athletes interested in trying triathlons. The event includes a 500 metre swim, a 17.5 kilometre bike ride and a four km run and begins at the Saanich Commonwealth Pool Sunday, May 7. Connie Dunwoody photo

Athlete overcomes physical challenges to complete ironman triathlon

Beginner Tri for MS introduces athletes to triathlons next weekend.

One windy morning at a lake in the Okanagan, Lindsey Millar faced one of her toughest physical challenges ever.

The then 44-year-old was competing in her first ironman triathlon, which included a 3.8-kilometre swim, 180-km bike ride and 42.2-km run. It’s a challenge she decided to take on more than a year after completing a relay triathlon, where she completed the running portion of the race.

After a rigorous swimming, cycling and running training regime over a 14-month period, which Millar describes as a part-time job, the day finally came for her to compete.

“It was way outside my comfort zone. It’s just something that I felt like I needed to try to prove to myself that I could do it,” Millar said.

But she admits it wasn’t easy. Just a few minutes into her swim, Millar was ready to give up and swim to shore. It was a windy morning, which resulted in Millar having to battle some rough waves and was unable to catch her breath.

Eventually, she had to stop and float for a few minutes, remembering the people who supported her during her training and the people rooting for her both at home in Victoria and on the sidelines.

With that, she continued the triathlon, eventually finishing in 15 hours and 47 minutes. Crossing the finish line, she was amazed by what she had accomplished.

“I felt absolutely amazed. It was a long day out there, but I never had a doubt in my mind that I couldn’t finish,” Millar said, adding while a triathlon is an individual sport, there’s a sense of camaradarie amongst athletes.

“I just had this massive sense of accomplishment, and still do to this day … It makes you believe you can do things you never thought possible.”

In the past five years, Millar has competed in roughly a dozen triathlons and in recent years has shifted her focus to coaching to help others achieve their athletic goals with TriStars Training.

Now, she is encouraging others to try the sport during the fifth annual Beginner Tri for MS at Saanich Commonwealth Place (4636 Elk Lake Dr.) on May 7. The non-timed event, which is aimed at beginners, includes a 500-metre swim, a 17.5-km bike ride and a four-km run/walk, with proceeds going to the MS Society.

Registration for Beginner Tri for MS closes on May 3 at 11:59 p.m. For more information visit tristarstraining.com.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com