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To Complete Triathlon: Breathe, Relax, Fall And Get Back Up

The Show's staff likes to consider ourselves a family around here.

So, when producer Sarah Ventre told us she wanted to compete in a triathlon, we wanted to document it.

Sarah is the first to tell you that she’s not your typical athlete.

"I don't have the body of someone you would traditionally think of as being really fit or really athletic," Sarah said.

That can leave her a bit self-conscious at times.

"There are times when I don't feel as self-conscious and more importantly there are times when I just say [expletive]. It's OK if I feel self-conscious. The important thing is that I'm doing this thing and it's not about these other people around me. It's about me."

When it comes to the three phases of a triathlon, she didn’t have much to go on. So, she hit the pool, the bike path and the pavement hard (literally sometimes) to get in shape, with the remote help of a trainer, 2,000 miles away in Virginia named Shawn Buddenhagen.

In a phone call before the triathlon Buddenhagen told her to remember three things:

"Breathe and relax."

"Breathe and relax."

"Breathe and relax."

This past weekend, after months of preparation, it was go time at the site of the mini-tri at Skyline High School in Mesa, KJZZ's Stina Sieg and Phil Latzman were there to see her off.

As one of the most inexperienced tri-athletes, Sarah was one the last to take the plunge into the pool for the quarter-mile swim.

She emerged from the pool 18 minutes later and it was time to change gear and make her way to the cycle portion.

"I feel like tired, my legs are already a little tired, but I did OK," Sarah said.

Then, it was time for the 12 mile bike ride. This second part wouldn’t go as smoothly for Sarah in the first mile she crashed hard.

"I just lost control of the bike and started swerving and then like totally fell over a cone and tumbled over myself."

She a took a licking, but kept on pedaling, 11 more miles with asphalt in her forearm and a little help from fellow competitors.

After finishing the biking in an hour and 13 minutes, it was the last leg, the 5K run.

"I was feeling really awful and someone passed me and was like 'nice road scar, girl,'... this guy like stopped his race to help me make my bike so I could use it again."

As one of the final and most inexperienced competitors, Sarah was nearly alone as neared the finish line.

In the end, she finished the run in a little more than an hour. Sarah finished the mini triathlon in two hours and 48 minutes. She finished—not in last place—but second to last. But it didn’t matter a bit.

There are all sorts of things in life that we feel we can’t do because of one obstacle or another. This shows us all how we can overcome our deficiencies, no matter who we are, what we look like or how hard things seem to be. 

KJZZ's Stina Sieg and lifeguard Ivanna Cervantes helped produced this story.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated to correct the spelling of Shawn Buddenhagen's name and show additional production assistance.

Phil Latzman is an award-winning digital journalist and broadcast professional with over 25 years of experience covering news and sports on a multitude of platforms.