Honestly Why I Am A Figure Competitor

I often get asked, ‘Why Figure Competitions??

Good question.

After all it is intense, not for the faint of heart, and kinda epic. Before I became I Figure Competitor, I tried other sports and had less than stellar experiences.

A few years ago, during the dark and frigid winter months in Edmonton, I resolved to lose some weight to drop a couple dress sizes and possibly wear a bathing suit without cringing once summer rolled around.

I hate running outside in the -30 degree weather, so I got a membership at the community league in our neighborhood and started swimming in the evenings.  It was a great workout and didn’t require me to wear all of the cold weather gear that I owned all at the same time.

People started asking questions.

What are you training for?

My mouth opened and what came out shocked even me.  “Umm…a triathlon.

Apparently I was ashamed about my desire to wear size 8 pants and completing a triathlon sounded so much better.  Before I knew what was happening, most of my friends and family heard that I was going to compete in a triathlon

I found myself cross training, weight lifting, and completing workouts that involved swimming, biking, AND running.  That’s the thing with words…once they are out there, you can’t get them back.

So I decided to go for it.

After all, how hard could it actually be?

The big day was smack dab in the middle of summer and arrived sunny and full of promise.  I arrived grouchy and full of fear.  I braided my hair, donned my Speedo swimsuit and biking/running outfit, and begrudgingly got in the car.

Upon arrival, I encountered hundreds of spandex clad people excitedly jumping around and stretching.  I went directly to the tent to pick up my race package and have a strange man use the biggest sharpie I have ever seen in my life to write my race number, 803, on my calves and arms.

Donloree before triathlon

What have I gotten myself into?

After being branded, we were herded like cattle down to the waterfront where I got news that there were leeches in the lake.  My stomach was already queasy and the toast that I had for breakfast threatened to come up as an unexplainable fear gripped my heart.  I started to look for an escape route, but ducking under the pylons and running at top speed past my husband and best friend would probably be noticed, so I tried to breathe while I waited for the race to start.

Donloree before swim

If I create a diversion do you think I can escape?

When the starting gun finally went off, all of the women aged 24 – 29 ran towards the leech infested water like their lives depended on it.  After avoiding being trampled, I jogged cautiously towards the waterfront and dove into the very shallow lake.  The water broiled with body parts and after a near kick to the head and getting a bird’s eye view of a very large armpit, I decided to hold back.

I waited in the ankle deep, leech infested silt for the crazed athletic women to swim by before I started up again.

To my immediate dismay, I couldn’t see a darn thing in the water.

It was like sticking your head into a bowl of chocolate pudding.  Panic set in and I employed the doggie paddle while my mind feverishly worked out a solution.  I started to hear a high-pitched whine and then realized I was the one making the noise.  I was officially hyperventilating and even the doggie paddle was too much.  I didn’t want to be disqualified, so I employed a panic inspired back float.  While looking up into the sky, wondering what the world I was going to do, the heads of two men in a canoe came into my view.

Two Men in a CanoeMiss, are you ok?  Would you like us to help you?
DL: (awkwardly treading the waist deep water) YES!  But wait!  Does that mean I am disqualified?
Two Men in a CanoeWell, yes…but if you’re struggling, perhaps we should take you out.
DL: (tears starting to fill up the goggles) I have worked so hard to get here!!  I have to finish.  I have to keep going.  Can you just row next to me, just to make sure I don’t die?
Two Men in a Canoe: Well…umm, there are a lot more people in the race and we have to watch all of them.  Uhh…we can check on you later though…
DL:  (in a very wobbly voice) Ok….thank you?
Two Men in a Canoe: And by the way, you’re floating off course.  You’re going to want to go that way….

The longest swim of my life ensued.

Battling panic, hyperventilation, and being lapped by a group of men swimmers took every single ounce of energy that I had.  Jon and Nancy were forced to watch a floundering woman use a doggie paddle and back float method to complete a swim that took 6 times longer than it should have.

When I finally emerged victorious from the leech infested, waist deep lake I could barely walk.  There were three canoes with men paddling alongside of me, cheering me on.  It was the most cheerleaders I have ever had for one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

I hobbled over to the transition area to get ready for the bike.  Most people pull on shorts and get biking. I plopped to the ground, ate a granola bar, and drank a ton of water.

I was just relieved to be alive.

The very hilly bike ride was surprisingly uneventful.  I made good time and even passed some people.  It felt good to not require any supervision to complete this leg of the race.

I entered the run tired, but the finish line was visible.  I was actually going to live through this adventure!  Much to the surprise of my athletic husband, I took off with a fresh burst of energy.  He was so impressed by my sudden energy that he decided to run alongside of me and interview me on video.  His focus was on me and not the street signs that were on the road.  Suddenly he ran head first into one and went down.  Blood was coming from his temple and the medical team was called.

I just kept running.

What was I supposed to do?  I had already lost 40 minutes in the swim, I didn’t want to lose more time in the run.  I decided that Jon would understand.

Donloree running in triathlon

Somewhat demoralized, but the finish line is in sight!

He was fine and before I knew it, he was running alongside of me again.

Crossing the finish line was one of the most glorious feelings in the world.  I completed a huge feat and lived.  Sure, there was no one else crossing the finish line with me, but who cares?  I finished.

We enjoyed the rest of the hot summer day and watched the professional tri-athletes complete the course.  None of them used the doggie paddle / back float method to complete the swim.

That evening I used a strong soap to wash the ‘803’ off of my arms and calves.  Within about 30 seconds it became very obvious that I should have applied waterproof sunscreen that morning.

I was VERY burnt.

Did you know that sharpies act as a great sunscreen? ‘803” was branded into both of my upper arms and calves.  Due to the way they wrote the numbers it actually looked more like ‘BOB’ than ‘803’.

Burnt Donloree

Sunscreen...need to put that on the list for next time.

The stiffness in my legs, especially my left leg, was intense after the race.  The next morning I could barely walk without screaming in pain.  That wouldn’t have been enough to keep me from work, but I couldn’t even put my left heel on the ground and my calf was the size of a small basketball.

It didn’t seem like normal triathlon wear and tear, so off to the hospital I went.

I hobbled into the ER and waited.

Then I continued to wait 6 hours while random people with very random illnesses came in.  Some even came in with buckets of specimens to show the admitting clerk in an effort to gain quicker access to a doctor.  I just looked away and hoped they would go away.

There was concern that I had a blood clot, so I was sent for an ultrasound.  Have I mentioned that I am ticklish?  Screaming out in painful laughter while an ultrasound tech is shoving an ultrasound wand in your hip joint is apparently frowned upon.  I couldn’t help it.  It was either laugh or cry, so I opted to laugh and laugh quite loudly.

Due to my big mouth I got crutches and a cast, a torn calf muscle, and a summer of strangers asking me, “Who’s Bob?”.

Donloree Triathlon results

In case you are wondering, this is NOT size 8 pants...

I learned the hard way how important it is to tell the truth, even if the answer is as ridiculous as ‘size 8 pants’ or ‘Figure Competitor‘.

Honesty really is the best policy.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!


  1. LOL – I quite often tell people I train just to look good 😉

  2. As Dory says… Just keep swimming.

  3. Chrystal cook says

    That was an awesome blog you are the best!!!!!!!

  4. Wow I had no idea of this triathlon DL 😉 thanks for sharing I loved reading this!!!!

  5. Oh my gosh that was hilarious! Too funny. You have the best stories !!

  6. I LOVED reading this and laughed the entire time as it sounds very much like my own first Tri experience last year! Especially the darn swim–mine was a disaster as well, complete with near drowning experiences 🙂 Good job for getting out there and doing it, though!

    • bikiniorbust says

      Oh good! I am glad I am not the only one that has nearly DIED while doing a triathlon. Near death experiences make you stronger.

  7. I love this story. And I think of it EVERY time I go for a run. <3

  8. Lol

    Aww this was funny Im sorry to be laughing at your pain and misery

    poor sun burnt you Haha….


  9. LOL this was just what I needed to read during my break at work. Thank you for sharing Donloree!! 🙂

  10. I was in the same position only I blurted out “half marathon”. I haven’t done it yet, but I hope it’s not quite like your experience. You are a brilliant writer and you had me laughing my head off.

    Stoked I found your blog, keep it up – you have done so well and you are now on my list of go-to blogs for inspiration 🙂


    • NICE! I have no doubt you are going to do WAY better than I did! Thanks for reading, I love my readers! When are you planning on doing this half marathon of DOOM? 😀

  11. Haha it’s in April – so I have a bit of time to train!
    Am currently reading the book ‘Sweet Poison Quit Plan’ so today is my first day being sugar free, then will aim for a 10k run, then a half marathon and then who knows what else from there!

    I love my readers too – so exciting reading about peoples adventures/goals and successes – the blogging community is the best form of inspiration ever! 🙂

Speak Your Mind


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.