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YWCA Women’s Triathlon – Triathlete Q&A with Patricia Neal

By YWCA Minneapolis
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How many YWCA Women’s Triathlons have you participated in?

This year’s Women’s Tri on August 13 this year will be my fifth race!

Can you share your experience of your first race?

I owe it all to my friend, Ann Manning, who cheerfully invited me to join her in first-time training and competing. I had not heard of the YWCA Women’s Triathlon before Ann invited me, but was intrigued. I was turning 60 that summer and felt I needed a fresh challenge, something so out of my scope of experience that I would be transformed by trying. I was scared to death! Our first goal was to JUST FINISH. No matter how. And we did! It was a great celebration!

What keeps you coming back to the YWCA Women’s Triathlon?

At the end of the first YWCA Women’s Triathlon, I was hooked! I love the annual aspiration and inspiration of training for the next YWCA Women’s Tri. It gets me out and through the winter in a great way. I am stretched by the next goal. I love being at the YWCA Women’s Tri and competing with 1,000+ other women and girls of all shapes, sizes and ability.

How do you train for the YWCA Women’s Triathlon?

My biggest “aha” is to do the full bike distance as often as possible. Then run, even if just a short distance. The transition of biking to running is a good challenge; I have to “find my legs” to run.

I have a running group that meets every Saturday morning at Lake Calhoun, come rain, snow or whatever else. They run lots of miles; I jog 3+ miles. It works for me. Also, I do short runs during the week.

My husband loves to bike with me to help me train, and I love to bike alone. As soon as the ice is gone, and it’s above 40ish, I’m out on a trail.

Swimming is the biggest challenge. I take advantage of Open Swim at Lake Nokomis and try to get to a lake at least once every weekend. Swimming across Lake Nokomis is wild! It always feels like I’m in the middle of the lake getting nowhere. Then all of a sudden I’m ½-way there, then ¾ of the way there, then voila! I’m across! It is amazing.

How long have you participated in a Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Team?

This is my second year participating in the Fundraising Team. I love raising money for the YWCA Minneapolis Women’s Triathlon because I know the money will be well-spent on behalf of girls and women, with transformational results. Girls and women always give back to their communities, so there is a double benefit. It feels so good.

What advice do you have for other women thinking about trying multi-sport events for the first time?

JUST DO IT! (Overused, but true!) You will feel so good no matter how you train or how you finish. Get on the triathlon email group to follow questions from participants and sage advice from the experts. The first year I started slow and small, in increments that worked for me, and added more distance each week. I went from not running at all, to finishing all 3.2 miles, but I was slow. It’s ok to be slow. Just do it, and try to finish, in the way that works for you.

What makes the YWCA Women’s Triathlon so unique?

The ethos is: everyone is in it together. 1,000+ other women, girls and supporters, of all shapes, sizes and abilities. The pre-triathlon support for every question, fear or goal is great. At every practice swim or training, and during the triathlon itself, I feel so welcomed and supported. We are all special because we are there making the effort. We cheer each other on!

How else are you involved with YWCA Minneapolis?

I am a table host at YWCA’s Circle of Women fundraising event. Nancy Schuelke of Wells Fargo invited me to a Circle of Women luncheon many years ago. I was smitten. After that, Becky Roloff (former President and CEO) spoke at a leadership event my company convened. I knew I wanted to attend annually, which eventually evolved into being a Table Host.

Learn More About YWCA Women’s Triathlon