Book Review: Women Who Tri – A Reluctant Athlete’s Journey into the Heart of America’s Newest Obsession by Alicia DiFabio

When I first thought about competing in a triathlon, I didn’t think about how complicated or hard the sport was, I just jumped in. It sounded fun and how hard could it be anyway? Well, for me, a “non-athlete,” it was a whole new ballgame learning to swim, bike and run!

When I read the book, Women Who Tri – A Reluctant Athlete’s Journey into the Heart of America’s Newest Obsession by Alicia DiFabio published by VeloPress, I felt a connection to the author. She, like so many of us out there, wasn’t an athlete either. She resisted the temptation to “tri” although her whole town was on a “tri craze.” But she couldn’t hold out. She jumped in.

Women Who Tri is a great book for a beginner triathlete or someone who wants to compete in a triathlon. The book is lined with interesting stories of women who “tri,” intertwined with Alicia’s story. I found it fascinating to learn about her local New Jersey town and how the women became obsessed with triathlons. She writes, “instead of drooling over a designer handbag or a hot pair of stilettos, these women were gushing over the latest Garmin watch or indoor bike trainer.”  (I laughed when I read that part because I knew it to be true.)

Alicia started her journey by taking to running, and she did well at this sport. (Secretly, I loved the fact that she quoted A Triathlete’s Diary survey in her book. We did a survey a while back where we interviewed more than 100 triathletes and learned that 65 percent of triathletes started out as runners.)

In the book, she has a chapter about triathlons and divorce (when you’re training so much, it has to impact your relationships); a chapter on triathaphobia (which is spot on! I especially like the part about DFL (Dead F’ing Last) because it is so true. People are so fearful of coming in last but the person who comes in last usually gets the biggest cheers and is usually the most heroic because she is a “non-athlete” challenging herself to the extreme.) and a chapter on getting injured.

The book takes a realistic approach to the world of triathlons. As I was reading the book, I kept thinking that it would end on a high note, and it actually did but not the high note I originally thought it would have. Alicia DiFabio poured her heart and soul into this book and it truly showed.

If you have experience in triathlons, this book will make you smile remembering your first experiences with the swim (both pool and open water), the bike (learning to shift gears) and the run (pushing yourself passed your expectations).

If you haven’t done a tri or are thinking about doing one, this is a great book to read before you delve into the world of triathlons. It will take you on a journey that you never knew you would experience and yet, at the same time, it will inspire you to go down that same path!