“My First Sprint Triathlon was in 19 Days” – Pat Johnson’s Story

“My First Sprint Triathlon was in 19 Days” – Pat Johnson’s Story

The Villages, Florida – Triathlon has provided Pat Johnson an opportunity to stay fit and meet new friends while putting her faith in Jesus Christ into action.

Pat Johnson’s triathlon story begins with a conversation that she had a few years ago with her then 35-year old niece, Barb.  Barb told her Aunt Pat of her goal to complete an Ironman triathlon before the age of 40.  Excited by the idea of doing a triathlon, Pat committed to complete a shorter, sprint triathlon by age 70.

Fast forward a couple of years and Barb had completed the Ironman triathlon well before age 40.  Meanwhile, the deadline for Pat to complete her first sprint triathlon was quickly approaching.


Not Much Time to Prepare for Her First Sprint Triathlon

At that time, Pat had no idea of where a triathlon could be done.

“I knew that I was going to have to practice swimming in order to complete the triathlon.  So, I contacted a guy who also lives in The Villages and was part of the masters swimming program called VAST (Villages Aquatic Swim Team).”

Her swimmer friend told her about triathlons that were regularly held in Clermont, Florida.  “I found out that the next triathlon was in 19 days.”

Undaunted by the short time until the race, Pat registered for her first triathlon.

The next morning, while waiting between pickleball games, Pat casually mentioned to one of the others waiting for their next game that she had signed up for a triathlon in Clermont.

Much to Pat’s surprise, the lady replied “Oh, no.  That’s the worst place to do a triathlon.  There are hills.”   Pat, a Wisconsin native, admitted, “Until then, I did not even realize that there were hills in Florida.”

This fellow pickleball player took Pat under her wing and helped her prepare for her first triathlon.  She even provided swim goggles and clips for her bike pedals.

Nineteen days after registering for the Central Florida Triathlon Series Race 3, Pat completed her first sprint triathlon, fulfilling the agreement she had made with her niece.

Ironically, the person who helped Pat, Donna Maguire, had been thinking of giving up triathlon.  Instead, she went on to start The Villages Triathlon Club.   Since then, Donna has even completed at least one Ironman triathlon.


Catching the Bug

Pat had planned to do only one triathlon.    However, like so many of us, she caught ‘the bug’.  As of today, she has completed 15 triathlons and she’s not finished.


Pat Johnson has earned a fine collection of triathlon medals.


Racing with Sally Edwards

Pat’s most recent triathlon, the ‘Girlz on Fire’ in Clermont, Florida, may also be one of her most memorable.  This race was particularly special in that she was able to not only meet, but compete alongside, Sally Edwards, a triathlon icon.

At the conclusion of the race, Pat posed with Sally while Sally signed her book “Triathlons for Women” that Pat had earlier purchased and brought with her to the race.


Sally Edwards with Pat Johnson signing Pat’s copy of ‘Triathlons for Women’.


Racing in the ‘Girlz on Fire’ Triathlon with Sally Edwards was one the highlights of my triathlon career.” 

Speaking of the ‘Girlz on Fire’ triathlon, Pat said “There were only two people in my age group.  As she often does, Sally purposely stayed back so that she could cross the finish line with the last finisher as a show of support.  She is really a sweetheart.  When you meet her you feel like you have been friends forever.”


Pat Johnson (first place) and Sally Edwards (second place) at the awards ceremony of the Girlz on Fire Triathlon in Clermont, Florida.


A Personalized Approach to Training

Pat has developed her own training approach, one that works well for her.  Since she tends to have problems with her back, she runs very little.  Instead, she trains in race walking which she uses during the run leg of the triathlon.

Pat describes her approach to the run leg as “race walking with a tiny bit of running. I get excited near the finish so I save just enough juice to run across the finish line.”

In any week, Pat will also go for at least one 10 to 12 mile bike ride along with a few shorter rides.  She also takes advantage of the wonderful lap pools in The Villages with two to three swims per week.

Recently, she has connected with another local triathlete, Lorri, who lives on Lake Weir, for open water swim training.  Lorri has a daughter who is an accomplished swimmer.  Lorri’s daughter has provided “a couple of great big yellow ducks’ used for practicing sighting that is so important to staying on course in an open water swim.


Advice for Seniors Thinking About Their First Sprint Triathlon

Pat is an outspoken advocate for seniors to stay fit.  “If you have the slightest inclination to do a triathlon, go for it.  Meet people who are involved in triathlon and ask them for advice.  You will find them eager to help you on the journey.”

Pat is living proof of the ‘no excuses’ lifestyle.  If you were going to use the excuse of not having enough time to prepare for a triathlon, perhaps you need to think again.  Pat had less than 19 days during which to prepare for her first triathlon.

Even if you are unable to complete the three legs of a triathlon, there are plenty of races that include a relay option.  In these, each team member performs one of the legs, the one with which they are most comfortable, capable, and prepared.


Applying Faith in Triathlon

Pat’s Christian faith goes with her onto the race course.  She starts each competition with a personal prayer for God’s guidance during the triathlon.

“One of my favorite promises from the Bible is Philippians 4:6-7:  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.


Pat Johnson proudly wears a cross symbolizing her Christian faith with one of her triathlon finisher medals.


You May Also Be Interested in These Posts . . .

. . .or in Sally Edwards’ Book ‘Triathlons for Women’

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