Black Girls Tri: 5 triumphs & rials of doing triathlons
I have been a triathlete now for over 5 years and it was one of the best choices I have ever made. I love triathlon. I love the feeling of being in shape and feeling fit; also being outside with nature is amazing. So I wanted to share some of my triumphs and trials of being a black girl who does triathlon.
1. They don’t make helmets to fit your fro. Yes, I have had to wrangle my hair into a stubborn hair tie losing all the blood in my arms only to find out that my helmet will not slide into place and basically sits on the top of my head like a church hat. Things are a little smoother when I am at T-1 and I am soaking wet however most training days it is a small miracle when I get my helmet on without a hitch.
2. You are one of the only black people in the race. Diversity in triathlons has gotten better since I first started; however, black people more or less black women are rare. The races where I have spotted another black person in mix, I think I probably scared them half to death with how much I was cheering. When I did Ironman lake placid I saw nearly 6 black people out of over 2000 athletes including 3 black females and it warmed my heart so much. My biggest hope is by sharing my experiences doing triathlons it will inspire other people who look like me to sign up for a race.
3. They don’t make tri-kits for curvy girls. This moves beyond a race or gender issues, if you have any type of curves to your physique there is constantly the challenge of finding attire that looks great and fits. I constantly fight my tri-top from rising up or long enough bike shorts that don’t cut off your circulation. The technology of tri gear is getting better. My biggest tip is to body glide everything! Trust me it works.
4. Be mad! I can whoop you on the swim. I guess because of negative stereotypes that black people can not swim, most other athletes and spectators are surprised when they see me emerge out of the water with some of the top of my heat. I remember being at Lake Placid and finishing the swim and running toward transition and people’s jaws being on the ground when they saw me, even an acquaintance said to me “Khaleeqa, is that you?” Shortly after I finished the swim they cancelled following waves because of the lightening storm so many athletes did not get to swim that day. However, seeing the look on people’s faces as I broke stereotypes and exited the water was a proud moment I will never forget.
5. Nothing beats crossing a finish line. There are many trials you will face if you decide to train. Race day is usually the result of many months of hard work and nothing quite sums up the feeling of accomplishment you are hit with when you cross another finish line. Crossing finish lines in races has shown me how to cross finish lines in life. I am so thankful for the lessons this sport has taught me that apply to life. Also with every metal I earn I know I am shattering more stereotypes and making it possible for another black girl like me to step out and reach for her triathlon dreams.
What are some of some of your pitfalls and achievements you’ve experienced as a triathlete? Are you thinking of signing up for your first race? Share in the comments below!