The resolve of a triathlete—the ability to endure discomfort and handle unexpected challenges—mirrors little else. We triathletes know this. Those who have tri’d for a long time understand how the benefits reach far beyond strong lungs and cut calves. Lisa Murphy’s own experience this past off season illustrates just that benefit.
Murphy is preparing to enter her fourth season as a triathlete, and we have a feeling that this season in particular will stand out more than others. Overcoming seasons have a way of doing that.
After a successful 2014 season, finishing third in her age group in the SDTA championship series, Murphy entered the off season setting her sites on her biggest goal yet: a half-iron distance. In fact, when Murphy received the sobering diagnosis this winter that included the word “cancer,” she had one thought initially: can surgery and treatment wait until after October 4, when she would have the Silverman 70.3 crossed off her list.
Her surgeon frowned on that request.
So February 16, Murphy kissed her thyroid and the “yucky stuff” the doctor said he saw along with it goodbye. Like a true endurance athlete, she adopted the mantra “No Excuses” and determined to not let other people’s experiences post-surgery dictate her own. She returned to work within a week and ran six miles three days after the procedure. “I wasn’t going to let them tell me how I was going to feel,” Murphy states.
Enter the benefits of endurance training.
Murphy’s quick recovery most likely had to do with many things. “Athletes are different than other people,” she states. “We just bounce back quicker.” Most likely, too, Murphy had the mindset of an overcomer having already dealt with the physical challenge of triathlon.
Post-surgery, Murphy still had a few challenges to deal with, both physical and mental. But tri training saved her from much angst. “I just never really let myself not still train,” she states. She continued to attend the Sanford Tri Training program diligently and saw some incredible benefits, despite what others said. “Even though all the things they told me would happen to me, I hoped I’d be different,” Murphy states. “I wasn’t going to let this get to me.”
Yep, that sounds like a seasoned triathlete.
Murphy began her journey in triathlon organically, moving from tackling her first 5K as a 40th birthday goal to completing the Sanford Wellness Center’s Lazy Man Ironman to entering the Triathlon Training Program and placing high in the Sanford Indoor Tri.
Since that first indoor tri, this Minnesota native has sought to increase the number of tris she’s done as well as the distance. Last year, her third year, she aimed to complete her first Olympic-distance tri. In the process she managed to compete in the SDTA championship series and land a podium spot in her age group. This year she plans on a trip to Las Vegas to conquer the half-iron distance along with completing the rest of the SDTA-series races.
Murphy has gained some huge benefits from triathlon training. In short, she can do more than just run the 5K she aimed for several years ago. Like many triathletes, Murphy has learned to flex her plans with the unexpected circumstances that met her. Her second year of competing she aimed to complete four triathlons, and due to poor water qualities and then a white-capped lake, she completed two triathlons and two triathlons-turned-duathlons. Then last year, when she trained diligently for her first Olympic distance tri, race officials announced the day before the gun went off that due to flooded roads, they were reducing the distance to a sprint.
Without a doubt these kinds of experiences along with just the challenges of training while maintaining a family life and a full-time job, do nothing but benefit a triathlete like Murphy dealing with other setbacks. She continues to maintain focus on training, citing that triathlon has become her passion, and like the rest of us, she’s not sure what she’d do without it.
And also like many of the triathletes we talk with, Murphy cites the friends she’s made and the company she gets to hang out with as a solid reason for continuing in the sport. Not only does Murphy have the challenge of her recent illness, but she also has the challenge of a job that requires her to travel. She has cited the value of knowing triathletes across the state from Pierre to Rapid City, so she always has someone to visit and potentially train with.
We wish Lisa Murphy the best this year and look forward to watching her compete in the SDTA series.