My 1st triathlon with lipoedema: My way to the goal

#triathlonwithlipoedema - my way to the first finish

Anyone who has been following my path for a while knows that I (unknowingly) started my active life on May 1st, 2020. Since then I had almost 30 kg more and was a classic couch potato as it is written in books. For me, exercise was more of a means to an end - the purpose of losing weight, even if I never managed to do it sustainably.

I've always found cycling, swimming and badminton super cool, but I've never managed to develop a routine from it or find joy in it. In a way I was happy afterwards because I had defeated the bastard. So how did it happen that this 2020 Vanessa finished a triathlon with lipedema in 2023? We'll get to that now.

It was a long way from starting sports in May 2020 to triathlon with lipoedema - I'll take you with me on my journey.

My "love" of running

Before I describe my way to the finish line of my first triathlon with lipoedema, I would like to say that I didn't like jogging until the summer of 2020 - to put it very mildly. And not at all. Just imagine the food you dislike the most and multiply it by 20. That's kind of how I felt.

After starting sports in May 2020, I had after a certain time I have already built up quite a bit of fitness through my starting sports routine. When a friend then asked me if I wanted to go walking with her, I resisted a bit internally, but because I wanted to do her a favor, I went anyway. In hindsight, she could have gone on her own as she basically monologued the whole way, while I desperately needed an oxygen tent.

"In the past three years, I've turned my bastard into a bastard friend"

That was quite a setback, but I didn't let it get me down. On the contrary: I had new motivation to improve here, and it was also kind of cool. Said and done. For the past three years I've had mine bastard into a bastard friend transformed, although as a previous enemy I had to defeat him about 1 million times.

A lot of tears and a lot more sweat have brought me to the point where sport in general has become part of my everyday life, no, even my life. At some point I understood that it is so much more than just a means to an end. Of course, I also lost a lot of weight as a result, but today sport is above all a balance to my stressful everyday life.

Lipedema and Weight Loss

Small digression:
I know that with lipedema we are often told that we cannot lose weight. However, a clear distinction must be made here: We just can't lose the lipedema fat. I am living proof that we can lose fat that has been fed on and is therefore “healthy”, i.e. overweight. So please don't be fooled.

From running to jogging

Back to my transformation on a grand scale. 

Now that I no longer felt the sport as a burden, but as a super cool thing and had also found a start with walking, I gradually expanded this. At first my goal was to improve my breathing and times. At some point I built in small jogging intervals and then it came May 24.5.2021th, 1,5 (almost a year after the sport restart), when I jogged XNUMX km for the first time in my life am. That may sound like a laughingstock to some, but it was a huge milestone for me.

Again, I continued to build on it and sat down the goal of reaching 10 km by the end of the year. Said and done. On October 07th, 2021 I implemented this goal. It took almost five months to build up the necessary physical condition. I slowly trained my legs towards it. Now I was sure that I didn't find running that bad anymore and that I actually had something like fun with the built-up condition.

Registration for the triathlon with lipoedema

In the months that followed, I tried out a great many things, kept at it and the thought of doing a triathlon with lipedema was through my Ironman neighbor always present. In November 2022, a friend who is a triathlete herself finally motivated me to register for my first triathlon with lipedema. The decision was made and I registered with her for July 09th, 2023 for the Churfranken Triathlon in Niedernberg.

It applied there 500m swim, 20km bike and 5km run to be completed. After registering, I suddenly had the thought "What have I just done?" - "What have I gotten myself into?" - "Can I even do it?"

... I'll tell you, it was a rollercoaster of emotions. And it was actually a bit scary. 

It was a huge step out of my comfort zone, again... the thirteen-thousandth in recent years. You think you've got the hang of it after so many times, but honestly it's not like that. Every single break from the familiar is a challenge.

each. Just. Onto. New !!!

It doesn't matter whether it's a hula hoop or a triathlon with lipoedema - compression must not be missing during training

No turning back

But there was no going back now, and I really wanted to do it, too. For myself and to a certain extent for you and everyone else #lipedema sisters to show what is possible. That wasn't just any goal for me, it was THE goal. It wasn't just about a triathlon - it was about a triathlon Triathlon with lipedema!

On 01.03.23/XNUMX/XNUMX things got really serious. My neighbor helped me with the training sessions and I started with them 5 units per week. 3x bike, 1x swim and 1x run. In about 1 hour on average per session. Integrating this into my already busy everyday life was a challenge at first, but I quickly got used to it and planned my training sessions week after week.

It was simply a matter of priority. I haven't had any excuses for a long time, but now even less. No matter how - I pulled it off. My goal - the triathlon with lipoedema - was not far away.

Just swim, just swim, just swim, swim, swim

Got during this trip swimming is also a first upgrade. After a very good swimmer pointed out to me during my third training session that I would lie in the water like a – original sound – “buoy”, I immediately started to revise my swimming style in the following week. In short: After a few training sessions I was finally able to swim breaststroke with my head under water.

On the way to the triathlon with lipoedema, I have already started to learn how to crawl again and will soon deepen it. Fun fact: I met the woman who called me a buoy (that was really nice and constructive criticism) a few months later and she was very impressed with my development. Since she also gives swimming lessons, we will work on my front crawl from autumn.

My little reminder to myself – the Bottle "Give everything but give up!" power sprat.

A big setback and a new goal

Unfortunately, on the way to my first triathlon with lipoedema, I also had to put up with a big setback. I was ill for most of May and my condition was therefore as good as gone. When I was able to start training again just before the big day, my original goal was gone. My ambition is always enormously high, so I wanted to do the triathlon with lipoedema in less than an hour and a half. Actually. But after the episode of illness, it was clear to me that I probably wouldn't be able to do it and that's why I just wanted to get it done in under two hours.

"And then he was there. The day of days.”

The big day: my first triathlon with lipoedema

July 09th, 2023, my first triathlon with lipoedema, will always be a very special day in my life.

I woke up extremely early so I was excited chicken with my husband already around 6.45 a.m. at Honisch Beach in Niedernberg. Ready for triathlon with lipedema. We got to the transition area and I was already wearing mine Flat knit compression in medi magenta under my tri suit.

Since I couldn't have done the bike and run without compri, I decided to go to the swim start with the flat knit. Putting a comp on wet skin works terribly badly, since the skin acts like glue. So I wrote to the organizer in advance and was therefore greeted with the words "You're sure Vanessa, right?". The helper wanted to be sure because he wanted to pass this on to the judge.

Now I had finally arrived at my first triathlon with lipoedema. With my bike and everything I needed. I looked around a little uncertainly and soaked up the atmosphere. It was really indescribable. I stood in the middle of a large number of different athletes, almost all of whom really looked like it.

I'm not exaggerating when I say I was by far the biggest. But I didn't mind because I knew I was fit and trained and couldn't compare myself to any of them at all. Even though I've definitely done it before with other sporty people.

Comparing is just pointless. Never forget that! We all have our own path behind us and are unique.

But where were we? Oh yes, just before the start. At 9 a.m. it was already 29 degrees and I knew that today would not be an easy day. So the excitement increased immeasurably. I was already a bundle of nerves the days before. Lost without end. Could hardly think straight. Now I stood in the crowd and got ready for my first triathlon with lipedema.

I just wanted to start

Finally, I went to the front of the line. The timer beeped, then the go, and the timer on my watch started ticking. My first triathlon with lipedema began.

My husband and friends cheered me on and I got in the water way too eager. phew My compression soaked and I was frantic. Didn't get into my rhythm and was a bit too far to the right. Due to the rolling start [Note d. Editor: Explanation at the end of the article] other swimmers came towards me and I realized that I had to correct my course. After almost half of the distance I slowly got into my rhythm.

I tried to get my pulse under control and thought of what many triathletes have advised me before: "enjoy every second". And I started to really feel every arm and leg beat and to arrive in my body. I couldn't look so quickly, the shore of the lake was already in sight again. I ran into transition and was ready for the bike.

Vanessa is seen in her tri suit in her first triathlon with lipedema in the water.

Provided by: Sports photography carriage

When I started wearing my helmet, goggles and clipless shoes and was finally allowed to get on, of course I couldn't get into my clipless pedal. To make matters worse, two men were suddenly next to me who almost caused a crash. But I took a deep breath, clicked in and drove off. Finally. Of all 3 disciplines in triathlon with lipedema, the bike is my favorite, at least as of today.

My pack cheered me on again in the first corner and I started as hard as I could. At that point, I had already said goodbye to my goal of completing the triathlon with lipoedema in less than two hours, because I really had the greatest respect for the temperatures. 37 degrees were reported for the day.

On the bike course, however, I noticed that the wind was great and that I had a lot of power from the adrenaline and training of the last few weeks. In the first lap I still didn't go to my limit, because I knew that I had to run 5 km afterwards.

There were people everywhere cheering you on even though they didn't know you. An indescribable feeling.

I drove and drove and noticed that I drove a great cut and so I put something on it again in the second lap. After 20 km I came back to the transition zone with an average speed of over 28 km/h.

Actually something of not ready for that Boss of the day: running. My wet compression was a welcome relief during the bike ride that day. Unfortunately it was almost dry by the time I could run and I only changed my wet socks and from helmet to cap. Equipped with my power gel and glucose, I started the last 5 km of my first triathlon with lipoedema with mixed feelings.

My pulse was much too high due to the temperatures, so I decided to take the last discipline a little easier. During the competition briefing, the organizers already called on us to be careful about the weather conditions.

My husband and friends gave me another boost of motivation as I slowly walked past them, sipping my power gel. Thank you for the great photos while feeding...

The first few meters were already a challenge and I knew that I really had to go slower than I would have liked. My calves had to settle down after the bike ride, but I still had my goal in mind. I had already done 2/3 of the triathlon with lipoedema, so I would still be able to do this.

On the route itself I was pretty much on my own as I was way behind most of them in terms of time. However, I didn't mind that because I was used to doing everything on my own anyway from the training for my triathlon with lipoedema. The biggest challenge for me was the heat, as there were some sections that went through the blazing sun. Thank goodness I had my awesome hat on or it could have backfired.

Only physically alone, but mentally supported by hers Strong Girls United Community: our lipoedema fighter Vanessa

At a supply station halfway I got another strong push, because the moderator celebrated me for coming running so motivated and he played the song that was playing extra loud, clapped me and cheered me on. Thank you again for that!

I ran the course before the competition and I knew there would be more trees for shade. That helped me a lot to keep going. During all this, I kept thinking about the past months and years, what I had already accomplished and that it didn't matter what time it was on the clock at the end because I had already achieved so much more.

With my glucose in my mouth, I gave myself another final push and was able to complete the last kilometers of my first triathlon with lipoedema. I realized myself that despite all the adversity, I had a smile on my face the whole time. That was also a tip from many triathletes in advance:

"Smile and celebrate every second of what you're doing."

When I was just before the finish line, strangers and my husband cheered me on again.

Then I mobilized the last of my strength again to a healthy degree jumped full of joy and above all loudly into the goal my first triathlon with lipoedema! I really did it. I was finally and officially a triathlete! With the medal around my neck, I couldn't help but grin broadly.

The clock said 1:44 hours and I was happy that I had at least made it well under two hours. As I found out later, I started my first triathlon with lipoedema at 9.05 a.m. due to the rolling start and therefore had a total time of 1:39 hours – whoa, I'm telling you, my inner monk celebrated it so much.

But as I am, I was sad afterwards that I hadn't made the 1:30 after all... Man man man. Why am I like this? But I was able to "get over it" quickly, especially when I heard that a lot of people had to break off or fell over. I listened to my body and respected my limits and could have done even more if the weather had been different. But the most important thing was that I finished my first triathlon with lipoedema. And if it had taken more than two hours, it would still have been a complete success.

After I was in the finish area, I treated myself to a nice non-alcoholic beer and fruit. When I came out, I was given a wonderful welcome by my husband and friends. With specially printed shirts, they gave me a self-made medal with the inscription "Lipedema heroine #triathlonwithlipedema" and I couldn't hold back my emotions anymore.

A few tears later I was just infinitely happy. The support was not only awesome on site, there were also endless messages from the community. I was hailed as if I had won the world championships for my first triathlon with lipedema and it still means so much to me.

Thanks again to every single message from you, I will always remember that.

Provided by: Sports photography carriage

Now we have come to the end of my report on my first triathlon with lipoedema, one of the most important days of my life so far, arrived. I was asked directly whether I would stick with the triathlon or when I would start the first Iron(wo)man. First of all, I can say: definitely! We'll have to wait for the second. In order to train for this, I would definitely need a lot more free time, which unfortunately I don't have at the moment. But you never know what the future will bring. 

Two other questions I was asked the most after the triathlon:

"How did you feel physically after the triathlon with lipoedema?"

Very good from the legs. Of course, the heat got to me a lot, but I have everything under control thanks to the flat-knit compression on my legs during the triathlon with lipoedema. The day after I only had to fight back tears because I was so infinitely grateful to my body for this achievement and then the self-imposed pressure actually fell from me.

"Was it very tiring to swim with the compression?"

no Actually, she didn't bother me per se, but I should have practiced it more often beforehand. Unfortunately, I was only in the lake once (the day before the competition) and I swam very slowly there because I was there with my work colleague (who also started) and we chatted a lot. In itself, the pressure on the legs was really increased, but doable. The competition situation at the triathlon with lipoedema was simply unusual at the moment, I was also infinitely excited about it and well. I was VERY happy when I sat on the bike because I felt so comfortable there. My husband also saw it directly in my facial expression, hihi.

What this detailed report of my way to the goal of my first triathlon with lipoedema should tell you is above all this: Through my own experiences, the many beads of sweat and tears, I have explored my own limits. In doing so, I found out personally that I can do so much more than I was sometimes told and even thought of myself. Comfort zone breaks are hard, but every single one has definitely been worth it.

Vanessa's motto when triathlon with lipedema can be seen on the back of her jersey "Give it all but give up!"

It doesn't matter what goal you have in mind, all that matters is that you progress at your own pace and within the realms of possibility. It doesn't matter whether it's a triathlon with lipoedema or jogging the first 2 km in a row.

Keeping the goal in mind isn't always easy, and sticking with it is often even more challenging, but I promise you it's worth it. Now I only have to tell you the most important thing that has helped me a lot:

Give everything but give up.

Related Links

  • Vanessa's motto "Give everything but give up" is available in the Power Sprotte Shop as mirror sticker, T-shirt and Bottle.
  • If you want to learn more about Vanessa and her path with lipoedema, you can visit her website Round and sporty ...


tri suit

“A tri suit is a special one-piece suit that you can wear for triathlon competitions. Made of quick-drying and lightweight materials, it is suitable for all three disciplines - swimming, cycling and running - at the same time. Depending on the model, your tri suit primarily supports you in swimming with a compact fit and hydrodynamics. In other words, the Tri Suit absorbs little water, dries very quickly and feels like a second skin. Likewise and/or otherwise, your tri suit can have special aerodynamic properties and improve your cycling performance. Basically, your tri suit should be what makes up your personal triathlon experience. That can range from a world-class performance to pure sporting enjoyment.”

Rolling start

“The athletes place themselves in the pre-start area based on their estimated swimming time or on the orders of the organizers. Every 10 to 30 seconds, an athlete or athletes are sent on their triathlon adventure. The entire start of all participants will take several minutes and should equalize the participant field when swimming and cycling. […] The timing chip is only triggered when the athlete runs over the timing mat at the start. No athlete is at a disadvantage due to the start time, even if he or she is the last athlete to start.”

vanessa reins round and sporty lipedema

Author: Vanessa Reins

Hello together! My name is Vanessa Reins: lipedema fighter, otter lover and perfectionist. Since I was diagnosed in 2014, I've been on my way to finding a new me that I can continue to shape with exercise and a good helping of self-love. It is a matter close to my heart to give you my experiences, tips or advice for your path and to motivate you to join the #antischweinehund team. You can pick up your motivation ration on my Instagram profile @rundsportlich. I am looking forward to seeing you!

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