Finding Exercise Bliss: Meet Leyla
Why I Try: Leyla’s Story
Growing up in Australia, I have always been an active person. But when I look back at my motivation for exercising, I was always doing it for the wrong reasons: to lose weight or be a particular body shape.
I found myself in my mid-thirties, working full time, completing my MBA, a new mom (with a 1-year-old) and I was completely over the on-again-off-again approach to exercise. I needed to find something to keep me active that I actually enjoyed. I tried boot camps and Crossfit, I signed up for running and swimming events and I even started playing touch football again. I was getting back in shape, but there was still something missing; that real enjoyment wasn’t there.
3 years ago, someone I worked with told me I should try a triathlon – there was one in 3 weeks at the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 track called TriYas. It was an evening event, and apparently a great race for beginners. It sounded like fun and I was eager to give one a try, so I signed up for the race that day. I just had one small problem: I didn’t own a bike and hadn’t ridden one in about five years. I was so excited about the race that I did a very spontaneous thing and just went out and bought a road bike! I only road the bike once before the race.
A couple of days before the race, I started to realize maybe I wasn’t prepared for the event. I didn’t own a wetsuit, didn’t have any triathlon specific clothes and wasn’t even sure of the rules. I was quite nervous, so read the race booklet about 10 times and made sure I went to the athlete’s briefing and hung on every word.
The next day was the race. It was hectic. I was freezing without that wetsuit! My transitions were slow and seemed like they took forever. But once I crossed the finish line, I was hooked.
I have gone on to compete in over 15 triathlons since then. I have completed four 70.3-distance races and finished my first full Ironman in Texas, May 2015. For me, the races are just a fun day to celebrate the training. Triathlon has become a lifestyle, and has allowed me to meet some amazing people along the way. Races have taken me all over the world, have given me a better relationship with my own body and its capabilities and made me a more confident and stronger person. I have finally found joy in my exercise routine. This is why I Tri…