Support matters. None of us triathletes could do our sport alone. We need people who understand when we’re tired and just want to lie on the couch, when we’re jonesing for another race, and when we’re so stoned on endorphins that even warm beer looks enticing on the other side of a finish line. Those who tri understand the triathlete like no other. And when a three-sport junkie finds himself married to another one, he’s in a pretty sweet spot.
Craig and Kimber Pierzchalski have found that sweet spot.
The Pierzchalskis began their triathlon journey separately but soon found their paths syncing. In 2009 Craig was asked to be the bike leg on a team. He could not swim at the time, but the sport intrigued him, and he purposed himself to do one on his own the next year, despite having no swim training. His first race was a memorable one: he swam about 20 yards of the open-water swim before he called out for help and then finished the rest of the swim with a water noodle under his neck, exiting the water third to last. Clearly he has figured this part of the race out as he has become, in his words, “slightly more comfortable” in the water.
Craig’s experience planted a seed in Kimber. At the time the couple was working together, and Kimber saw Craig participate in a race in the later part of the 2010 season. Kimber had picked up running in 2008 and started sprinting through a few 5ks. Watching Craig participate led Kimber to believe that while 5Ks were certainly enjoyable, a triathlon looked like even more fun. So she purchased a basic road bike, started cycling, and drove herself to the nearest pool an hour away once a week to practice swimming.
Kimber’s first race was certainly a unique one, with the swim portion ending the event rather than beginning it. But regardless of the order of the disciplines, this event fertilized a seed that had already sprouted and begun to grow since the day she saw Craig compete.
Both Pierzchalskis understand the sacrifice needed to succeed in triathlon, and along with that, they cite the countless benefits of having a spouse who participates in what can become an all-consuming sport. “We know the cost,” states Kimber, who explains how financial disagreements dissipate when both understand the desire for gear and race fees. Craig and Kimber both mention the pleasure that comes from training with each other like joint bike rides on trainers. The only downside according to Craig comes when your wife repeatedly humbles you by beating you. It takes some broad shoulders to be chicked by the one you love, and Craig definitely has broad shoulders and sees the upside of having a wife who tris hard: “I get the added benefit of watching my beautiful wife look fantastic in her tri suit on a regular basis, and I don’t take that for granted. It’s also great to know Kimber is always waiting for me at the finish line,” states Craig.
Cleary the flame is still alive despite the stress of training at the Pierzchalski house.
The Pierzchalskis compete fiercely in their events, often podiuming in their age brackets at the sprints here in South Dakota. But their love for fun stands out more than their competitive natures. “My philosophy is have fun and believe in yourself,” states Kimber, who often takes a half a second to give our cameras a telltale grin before speeding by at the tris here in South Dakota. Craig’s philosophy reflects his constant desire to grow and learn: “If there’s a challenge out there, I need to face it,” he states, mentioning the fulfillment that came for him when he conquered the swim.
When Craig and Kimber aren’t training for their next event, they spend time doing a handful of other activities, including doting on their fur-babies Duke and Sadie. They adopted Duke from the pound. Sadie has been Kimber’s running partner since the day they laid eyes on each other during one of Kimber’s runs. Sadie has even run twenty miles with Kimber! Kimber and Craig are avid football fans (mainly college), so as soon as triathlon season wraps up, they’re booked Monday evening, Thursday evening, Friday evening, and most of the days Saturday and Sunday. These two manage to maintain civility during the football season despite their divide on the gridiron, with Kimber sporting Penn State colors and Craig cheering on Michigan. Besides watching football, Kimber enjoys hiking, painting, reading, and relaxing with Craig and the dogs. Craig has been kindling his love for coffee, both in drinking it and experimenting with different ways to brew the perfect cup. Additionally, a new business venture with LifeVantage has added a new focus to Craig’s life along with just hope for an even healthier future for the family as a whole.
Both Craig and Kimber understand the intimidation involved in putting three sports together into one event, so their advice is valid for the newbie triathlete. Craig encourages those thinking about competing in triathlon to not wait until they think they’re ready, but instead to just try it out. “Odds are you will not finish last, and if you do finish last, you beat everyone who did not start,” states Craig. Kimber echoes these sentiments with her advice to just have fun. “Don’t worry about how or what everyone else is doing. Triathlon is something you do for yourself, so have fun with it and enjoy it.”
Support. Competition. Fun. These things embody the sport that we at SDTriNews.com love, and we can see all of these things in the Pierzchalskis as well. When you see Craig and Kimber on the race course, give them a shout out. We have a feeling you’ll be greeted with some big grins that have come to characterize this triathlon-loving couple and make them people that we think are worth getting to know.