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Simply Solo Spotlight: On This Day, I Thee Tri

October 4, 2011

Today’s Simply Solo Spotlight is written by Melissa from the Find Strength In Pain blog. I love Melissa’s story of taking back her un-wedding day and turning it into something incredibly empowering. We can all learn so much from her. I hope you enjoy today’s guest post, and please visit Melissa’s blog to read more of her story!

Quick shameless plug: Do you have a story to tell? Advice to offer? Did you just have literally the worst date of your life and you must write about it? I’d love to have you as the next Simply Solo Spotlight! Contact me at:

On This Day, I Thee Tri

August 7, 2010 was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. The .75 carat diamond on my left ring finger said so. The dress purchased during the thrill of Filene’s Running with the Brides said so. And intricate details, spreadsheets and hours of planning to highlight every ridiculous detail of our relationship said so. We, after all, were meant to be. Until he said he didn’t think so. Less than 90 days and six years into a relationship, I heard the news that my so-called Prince Charming wasn’t going to be keeping a ring on it.

Let’s recap the highlights of this drama; it really does make for good stories now. I had left my job for him and lined up another in our home state for the summer to put finishing touches on the wedding prior to relocating to my favorite city, Boston, post-marriage. I’m a therapist by training, but I was not feeling very therapeutic after this happened. What’s a newly solo girl to do? Stay in a city where she had no job, ties or purpose, or go back and live at home (in a city she was less than fond of) with Mommy and Daddy just like ex felt it was acceptable to do? Something told me to stay. That I needed to start a new adventure … err … struggle on my own.

That summer, I found running as a joy I had once forgotten. Somewhere in the bustle between picking out the perfect invitations, coordinating meal plans and seating charts, and dealing with the most invasive would-have-been-mother-in-law ever (as if that shouldn’t have been a red flag), I had forgotten to take care of me. So, I decided, 2010 was the summer to devote to me. The plan was simple: find a job in the city I loved and move back there, without the guy who had clearly held me back. Not so simple, as finances and the looming “why did you leave your last job” question filled me with anxiety and frankly, sorrow. I needed something for which to reach and get me back on track in life. On the day of my would-have-been wedding, I looked at the local paper and saw that the Iron Girl was happening. A triathlon testing commitment, perseverance and dedication. He hadn’t been able to give that to me, so it was time to give it to myself. Lucky for me, I had a year to prepare.

Fast-forward a few months. Race schedule comes out. Date of race: August 7, 2011. PERFECT. It became a parallel physical journey to the emotional healing I needed to endure. A girlfriend of mine signed up with me for support. I started training, teaching myself to swim, running miles upon miles, biking, Crossfitting. I became obsessed with this event. I have to admit, at first I was fueled with the “I’ll show him he gave up an Iron Girl” to get the work done. But, while gaining the physical strength and endurance I needed, I found myself emotionally recovering, which was even more important. It was less about proving to him that I would be the one who got away, but more about proving that I could survive something so emotionally shaking and come out stronger than ever and that I DESERVED better than he could ever give me. A lot of the anger was let go, the light bulb went off and I realized I had dodged a bullet and was given an amazing gift to do something great in this world instead of being held back by complacency and mommy’s apron strings. I was slowly letting go.

Months of training goes by and August arrives. The parallels of this journey in life really became evident. Truthfully, nothing had been easy this past year, so why would the last week of preparation – a usual taper week – be easy? It’s like I was tested by someone saying, “How badly do you want this?” The week before my race, my bike was vandalized and I needed to find a bike shop to fix it. No prob, right? Wrong. I take the bike into shop, verify it would be ready by Friday, Saturday at the latest, and go about my business. I show up at the bike shop on Friday to find that it is closed. For the ENTIRE weekend. Why? Because the couple who owns the shop is getting married. Really? Oh, really.

The friend who I had signed up for the race with texts me a few days before the race and says she won’t be able to go due to travel. I can’t blame her, but now it was really JUST ME doing this. Symbolism strikes again, as this was a year for just me and this race was seriously now all mine.

triathalon raceRace day. I’m up at 3:00 a.m. and filled with anticipatory anxiety and nervousness. Checking and rechecking my gear, going through transition in my head and rocking to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” and Katy Perry’s “Firework.” As we line up for the swim, the jitters start to disappear, and the excitement of my preparation and gift of commitment I chose to give to myself builds. The race gun goes off and the swim goes well. I’m greeted out of the water with friends from my gym yelling words of encouragement. I get on the bike, ready to tackle 18 miles. During the race, my gears went out. Or, maybe they just didn’t work to begin with. So, for 18 miles of a bike ride, I pretty much rode on a cruiser. In the rain. Lots and lots of rain. But, it brought me to symbolism again, as an amazing song of strength this year was Superchick’s “Stand in the Rain.” There is no coincidence that it rained ONLY during the bike ride. And that everything about that ride sucked. Really badly. My friends and family were ready to send out a search party, as I finished in 1:48:12, just under 12 minutes before I would have been disqualified from the entire race, and almost dead last in the bike portion. As I left the transition area, my trainer yells out, “You better PR [personal record] your 5K because your bike took too damn long.” Of course, I can’t hold back from another challenge. Why not? I had conquered so many already!

I began the run, striding towards my goal of becoming an Iron Girl and beating it furiously beneath my soles. I had a 3.1-mile aisle to run down. At this point, nearly everyone around me is seriously taking a leisurely Sunday stroll so I figured this was my time to shine. I didn’t get to walk slowly down the aisle with my princess dress and bouquet of red roses for all to see, but I was going to make sure everyone saw how fast my Nikes could take me. By the time I got to the last 800m, my legs were on fire, but I could taste personal victory. The cheering and encouragement of those lining the run route was amazing; people I didn’t even know cheering me on to the end, yet not knowing why this was so important and cathartic. It was only me through the finisher’s chute and I sprinted in. I made it, and was medaled an “Iron Girl.” I didn’t get a PR for my run, but I beat my benchmark 5K time from when I started legitimately training after swimming a half mile and biking 18. Win, in so many ways.

Finish line of triatholon
Finish line!

As I crossed the finish line, I had a moment. I was too exhausted to cry, but it was there, stirring inside me, yet this time they weren’t tears of hatred, anger, confusion, questioning, abandonment, betrayal or frustration. They were freeing, filled with joy and hope for the future. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I felt like the direction I was going in life seemed to make sense. I had created the closure I needed by reconstructing a day that was supposed to be the happiest day of my life into the biggest personal accomplishment in my athletic career yet. August 7th won’t ever be the day I “almost” got married again. It will always be the day I became an Iron Girl.


It may sound really cliché, but I really do feel like a new person. I can’t imagine a tougher year thanCompleted triatholon the one I’ve had, but I’m really glad I decided to give something completely different and unnatural to me a tri. I chose to find strength in my pain and found more than I ever could have imagined. So the lesson, among many, is simple: when the going gets tough, give it a tri. You’ll be amazed.


Copyright 2011. Simply Solo blog by Catherine Gryp. All Rights Reserved.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. AndieL permalink
    October 4, 2011 9:33 am


  2. October 4, 2011 10:32 am

    I love this post so much I was trying to find some really clever or insightful comment to leave. Alas, I’m pretty much left fist-pumping and yelling YOU. GO. GIRL.

  3. October 4, 2011 10:41 am

    WOW! You are one tough woman! So impressed.

    I, too, signed up for a race (a marathon), which is taking place about a year after my engagment was broken off… it’s now 6 weeks away. Thank you for sharing your story of determination.

    • October 4, 2011 11:17 am

      Your marathon experience is going to be amazing! Congratulations on the commitment to train for a marathon (no easy task!) and your pending race! Which marathon are you running?

      Since I’m a running nerd, I have to throw out some suggestions regarding the “healing” nature of running. “What I Talk about When I Talk about Running” is an amazing book about the power of the run. And Runner’s World Daily quotes got my butt to the gym many a days when I really didn’t want to go (let alone get out of bed!)

      Go out and get your run on KD!

      • October 4, 2011 1:22 pm

        Thank you for the suggestions! There were days when I was fueled with fire (anger) and it helped me push through. Now, I just want to add it to the many things I hope to accomplish in the upcoming years. I am running in Philly on November 20. Should be an exciting time! Congrats again!

        • October 5, 2011 12:15 am

          Anger, when use correctly, can be a great catalyst (wow, as if that didn’t sound like a therapist talking!). “F*** You” was my angry song forever! And then when I finally got sick of it, I knew I had made progress! Good luck in Philly! It shall be dubbed the city of “KD” the day you run!

  4. Nancy permalink
    October 4, 2011 11:44 am

    Wow lady! Congratulations! I was so impressed – especially when you said you taught yourself to swim to even enter! You should be so proud of what you have accomplished. Hope you enter next year to improve your record – with a bike that works!

    • October 5, 2011 12:18 am

      Thanks, Nancy. I ended up volunteering at the Iron Man this year as well (about a month after my race)…I definitely had a case of “bike envy.” It also served as a great way to say I was “checking out bikes” when really I thought to myself, Iron Man, meet Iron Girl. Then I knew the emotional part of the journey was just as important as the race because I finally felt like I was whole enough to entertain dating again. Here’s to 2012’s Iron Girl. I definitely got bit by the “tri bug!”

  5. October 4, 2011 1:57 pm

    What a truly inspiring story. I was almost crying by the end! Catherine, I love your blog and I always enjoy the people you feature!! Thanks 🙂

    • October 5, 2011 12:23 am

      Thanks for the kind words, Christine. And, I echo your love for Catherine’s blog. I wouldn’t have found it had I not Googled “empowering break-up songs” to get me through the final few weeks of training. By the power of Google, I found this blog and almost flipped out because SOMEONE out there had my similar story. I had previously tried to read “Left at the Altar” by Kimberley Kennedy but felt like it was manufactured because she had built-in celebrity status. So, Catherine, thanks for reaching out to the “average” simply solo girls who are turning out to do beyond average things. Keep up your amazing work! I always look forward to your subscription coming through my inbox!

  6. October 5, 2011 3:33 am

    DAAAAMN, GIRL!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!! How absolutely amazing!!! ‘Firework’ & ‘Rolling In the Deep’ have been two of my faves, too, by the way… So exciting to read this story– Best of luck to you!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • October 5, 2011 11:08 am

      Thanks for accolades! Sometimes I feel so silly loving Katy Perry’s masterpiece when every 9 year old girl I was working with did as well, but when all the doors are closed, you gotta trust that something will lead you to the perfect road! Rolling in the Deep techno version in an awesome mix to run to and I kept repeating the mantra “don’t underestimate the things that I will do.” A post about the power of music and the specific songs I chose could turn into a book easily. I over-analyze this stuff way too much. Thanks again! 🙂

  7. Nick H. permalink
    October 5, 2011 1:42 pm

    That was seriously an amazing story. I was almost nervous reading it because I wasn’t sure you were gonna finish and I didn’t want to skim ahead. I have been through a lot of hardships myself over the past few years and am now just beginning to “swim, bike and run” towards freedom and liberation. I only wish I had as much strength as you, but reading your story is very inspiring. Oh, and Boston is the greatest city on Earth! Congratulations on being an Iron Girl and good luck to you in the future.

  8. October 5, 2011 5:24 pm

    Thanks so much for the kind words, Nick. Best of luck on your journey and hope it will be more freeing and liberating than your past “tri-ing” times. And yes, imagine being a girl who LOVES Boston living in Upstate New York right now. Best to you on your journey!

    The rewards for those who persevere far exceed the pain that precedes the victory. – Karen Bliss Livingston

  9. moose permalink
    October 7, 2011 3:46 pm

    yes I was there in person to witness this event. Your perseverance and strength through trying times will pay off. It just shows what people can do if they put there mind to it

    good luck in all future endeavors – nothing you do will amaze me

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