Long Branch, NJ

Retired grandmother makes friends at her first triathlon: "It's a great way to socialize"

Amy Christie

Jeanne Mitchell is a mother and grandmother who moved away from her friends to retire with her husband on the New Jersey coast, close to Long Branch. They were both looking for a quiet area so they could be closer to nature.

Even though she wanted to get in touch with her neighbors, she still didn't have the social life she wanted. That's when she got an idea. "I think I'll do a triathlon," she said, and her life has never been the same since.

What are the details?

"I knew I could ride a bike; I knew I could swim. But I didn't know if I could run," Mitchell shared with The Epoch Times.

The grandmother had no experience with that type of competition but was still very excited and wanted to give it a try.

"I didn't know anybody who had ever done one, and I didn't know where you do them. And I literally googled 'triathlon,' and I probably put 'New Jersey' in because that's where I live," she said.

The event that came on top of her results turned out to be the right one for her. It was a shorter 'sprint' triathlon for women beginners of varying ages.

The 70-year-old grandmother shared that she loved the races, but the most important thing she gained while taking part in the competition was the lasting friendships and the wonderful people who came into her life.

"All my friends come from doing these sports. My friends now range from 44 to 74 years old. And they're all athletes. So, yes, it's been a great opportunity," Mitchell, who is a former artist and psychotherapist, explained.

And it only took making one friend. From there, she shortly got in touch with plenty more. Once she became Maureen's friend in her first race, she was instantly connected to a network of several friends.

"I continued with triathlon, she continued running, but we're still friends. I'll be running again with her to train. Maureen ran with a group of people, and those are my friends now, too. So, I have my running friends, swimming friends, and biking friends. Some of them overlap, and some don't overlap," the woman said.

Not every sporting activity offers the same variety as a triathlon, so Mitchell definitely appreciated the different challenges involved.

"It's fun, and it's a great way to socialize, too," Mitchell added.

Fitness has gained a new meaning in her life, but the grandmother warns people that it's essential to start slow.

"Plan well in advance, so you have adequate time to train and prepare for a race—particularly for people a little bit older. A younger person can jump into these things more quickly. We want to take our time at it," she said.

As soon as she signed up to take part in her first triathlon, Mitchell was prepared to deal with the unknown. Even though she received adequate training, she still had a lot to learn.

"Most of these training programs have things like 'you bike at over 70 RPMs, or under 70 RPMs,' and I'm saying, 'what is RPM?' I had no idea!" she recalls.

Her husband, her daughter, and her daughter's fiance came to cheer on the sidelines at every race.

"It was very, very sweet. They were so wonderful. They were taking my photograph all over the place. When I transitioned from the bike to running, my daughter started running with me in her sandals. So, yeah, that was a big deal that she came. Absolutely. The first race I'd ever done in my life. My daughter's looking forward to doing a triathlon with me when she finishes her medical residency," Mitchell concluded.




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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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