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Racing with our pinky fingers in the air
Nancy Klinger, right, runs out of the ocean after a trianing swim in Hawaii.
September 6th, 2012
10:38 AM ET

Racing with our pinky fingers in the air

Editor's note: Nancy Klinger is one of seven CNN viewers selected to be a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program. In the week leading up to the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, each of the "Lucky 7" will share his or her thoughts on the journey.

Nine months ago I sent in a video submission to CNN that shared why I wanted to be selected as a participant. I just took a look at my video and can’t believe how far I have come.

Last year I felt alone, sad, and scared. I had lost my drive and competitiveness and, more importantly, had lost my spirit. The joy in my life was gone.

Sending in the video was my way of asking for help. My focus was on finding a way to improve my emotional health, which in turn would also improve my physical health. Just sending in the submission was a big step, and I started to take baby steps to get back to being me.

Then it happened; I was selected as one of the participants and I haven’t looked back.

Right now at age 55, I am healthier and happier than I have been in several years and feel fantastic. My spirit is up and my weight and BMI are down. As my teammates would probably attest, my competitiveness is also back!

Having the opportunity to work with a trainer has been amazing. My trainer Kortney, an elite triathlete, knows my strengths and limitations and she has been able to help me improve each aspect of the triathlon. She also knows just the right time to send along positive reinforcement.

What I believe has worked so well is that I put complete faith in her and never questioned my workouts.

It was also important that I managed my time to make sure my workouts were given priority rather than just fitting exercise in when convenient (which usually meant not doing it). No excuses.

Thinking about the past several months, I can see now that the goal of my training was to generate slow but steady improvement. Swimming was and continues to be my best event. My biking has improved significantly, and I am now much more comfortable on the bike after a rough start getting used to clip on pedals. The run is still my weakest event but I believe that this is where I have demonstrated the most improvement.

I participated in several 5K races throughout the summer with the goal of improving my time with each race. I also participated in an open-water swim race, which really opened my eyes as to what to expect. Over the past several months I can honestly say that no two workouts have been the same.

The support that I have received from my CNN Fit Nation teammates, family and friends has been incredible and is the most positive aspect of this experience. This has been an important lesson for me; it is important to let others into your life as we all need support now and again.

My ultimate goal for the race is to have fun and to make sure that I give an all-out effort. But now, the time has come for me to go out on a limb and state my specific timing goals and make myself accountable.

For the swim I hope to start out fast and then get a comfortable pace (usually I do the opposite). My goal time is 18 minutes.

For the 18-mile bike ride I hope to get into a good steady pace and finish fast; my goal time is 65 minutes.

It is tough to pick a goal time for the run as it completely depends on how my legs feel after the bike, but my goal time for the run is 44 minutes. My plan is to have the second half of the run faster than the first half and, like everyone, I hope to sprint at least the last 100 yards. This probably won’t look like a sprint to onlookers, but it will be fast for me!

Now for transitions. This is new to me but I am going to assume 5 minutes for each transition. So my official finishing time goal is 2 hours and 17 minutes.

Yikes, it’s in writing!

There are two bits of advice that I will take to heart for the triathlon. The first is from a wonderful motivational speech given to the Lucky Seven by the incredible Diana Nyad. Diana told us to not worry about analyzing every aspect of triathlon now as we can focus on that after the race.

Our only goal is to just get out there and race, and at the end of the race we should be able to say that we could not have done one fingernail better! So, if you see me raising my pinky finger after the race, you will know the reason.

The second is from my wonderful teammate Jeff Dauler. I recently shared with Jeff that a part of me wanted to do the triathlon as fast as I could, but another part of me wanted to race with a teammate and cross the finish line together. Jeff told me that for just a few hours on September 16 YOU are the ONLY and MOST IMPORTANT person in the world.

See you at the finish line, which for me is a new start. I’ve got a 10-mile race to get ready for the following weekend.

You can follow CNN Fit Nation on Facebook and Twitter.


soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Cathy Stockton

    Way to go now i think i can start getting motivaded thank you

    September 6, 2012 at 23:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Torie

    On behalf of a large group of people with whom you work, you are an absolute inspiration! Your drive and determination is amazing. Watching you morph back into a strong, confident, and healthy individual has been a wonderful experience. We are all so happy for you, and we wish you all the best in the triathlon, in your personal goals, and most importantly, in your next chapter of life. Thank you for letting us share in your adventure!

    September 7, 2012 at 11:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Gail

    I'm a co-worker and friend of Nancy and just want her to know how proud we are of her and motivated by the journey that we have watched and supported throughout the year. Nancy is truly an amazing and inspirational person and I feel lucky to know and work with her. We have some surprises planned to demonstrate our support and fondness for her on her last day @ work before the race. I think Nancy and the rest of us will have some laughs and she'll know how much we care and support her. Think mini triathalon/training in an office environment....

    September 7, 2012 at 15:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NancyK

      Happiest 30 minutes I have had at 3M in 28 years! Thanks to all of my amazing co-workers and especially to Gail for generating a lot of smiles.

      September 7, 2012 at 17:58 | Report abuse |
  4. Sajeev

    Thanks Maria, it's going to be a very special day and a real exneciepre. I'll be at the back of the wave and will make a nice steady start, fingers crossed. People are so kind, and it never ceases to amaze me, too. This sports stuff does much more than just keep us fit, doesn't it? Brilliant

    September 27, 2012 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Edomiyas

    Thanks Maria, it's going to be a very special day and a real expcrienee. I'll be at the back of the wave and will make a nice steady start, fingers crossed. People are so kind, and it never ceases to amaze me, too. This sports stuff does much more than just keep us fit, doesn't it? Brilliant

    November 14, 2012 at 02:51 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.