Actress Megyn Price Races Triathlons at Age 40

When 'Rules of Engagement' star Megyn Price gave birth to her first child, her goal wasn’t just to be a good mom. She also wanted to challenge herself and do something just for her: compete in triathlons. Below, in the edited version of our interview, learn how she did it and what motivates her to keep going.

by Nicole Papantoniou
megyn price image
Megyn Price
Photograph: BrightRoom.com

More: How was the Nautica New York City Triathlon you participated in on August 7, 2011?
Megyn Price: It was insane!

More: How are you feeling?
MP: I feel surprisingly fine. I also feel like a total champion because I did it even though I was terrified. There was just something about the rainy weather; I was on a rented bicycle and the Nautica New York City Triathlon was a much longer-distance race than I’ve ever participated in before. I got really scared the night before, but I did it anyway. It was a really good lesson for myself: When you’re scared, just do it anyway!

More: What was the race like?
MP: First, you swim a mile in the Hudson [River], then you bike 25 miles on the West Side Highway. After that, you run down 72nd Street and run six miles in Central Park.

More: How long did it take you to finish the entire triathlon?
MP: It took me 3 hours and 32 minutes. I finished in the middle pack of my age group. My husband finished in just under three hours.

More: Did you and your husband race most of the triathlon together?
MP: No, none of it. The men start before the women. So we gave each other a kiss, said good luck and each had our own races.

More: What motivated you to do the Nautica New York City Triathlon in particular?
MP: I used to live and work in New York; I did "Lateline" there with Al Franken a long time ago. New York City is my favorite city on the planet, and I thought this race was really impossible for me to do. So I found the thing I thought I couldn’t do and I did it.

More: What made this triathlon seem impossible compared with the others?
MP: To swim in the Hudson River for one thing! Also, the distance is what they do in the Olympics, so it seemed too big and difficult. And I don’t ride in the rain. We don’t have rain here in Los Angeles. So the race really seemed out of my reach. But I guess that’s my new mantra as I get older: Find the things that are too big, and then go do them. I feel like when you have a little girl, that’s your responsibility. You have to teach her things like that. You’ve got to go find what scares you, and do it anyway.

More: How old is your daughter now?
MP: She’s four, and she’s so proud. She wore my medal around for days after the race.

More: How long did you train for the race?
MP: I probably trained two hours a day for three months. I’ve done triathlons for the past two seasons, so I’ve been training. But intensely training for New York? Three months.

More: What was your routine like?
MP: It looks like a lot of swimming, biking and running [laughs]. Then I put yoga in with it. Normally I’m not a yoga girl, but there’s this yoga that just started called CorePower Yoga. It’s a little bit more of a workout yoga, so it interests me more. Yoga seems very quiet and stretchy to me, and this one involves stretching and working out at the same time.

More: Do you practice all three triathlon activities at once?
MP: No, you don’t. It’s strange, but you don’t. You practice running and biking in succession. These are called brick workouts. After you bike for 25 miles, your legs feel like jelly. To run right after that is pretty tough. Once you get going, it’s OK.

More: Was it easy finding the time to train?
MP: No! I had to get up at five in the morning because have a four-year-old. I have to be up before her and then take her to preschool. Everything for a mama has to happen before everyone else wakes up. That’s just a rule.

More: Are you normally a morning person?
MP: I am, thank God. I’m definitely not a night person anymore, but it’s still rough to hear your alarm at five in the morning and have to get up and run 10 miles.

More: What was the hardest part of training this time around?
MP: The hardest thing for me in general is riding my bike outside. I have a Spin bike in my house, and I’m perfectly comfortable on that. I’m really a chicken. I learned to ride a bike when I was at Stanford, in college. I didn’t ride when I was little. So for me, that’s the hardest part. It’s actually scary to me, which sounds crazy. It’s equipment; I don’t really like equipment. I will run and swim until the end of time, but I don’t like having equipment.

More: What else did you struggle with when you were training?
MP: The hardest part of all this is finding the time. It sounds like a cliché because everyone says that, but it’s the truth. It’s really hard. The truth is, I didn’t always get in two hours of perfect workouts every day; sometimes my daughter would wake up early, and I would only get in half an hour.

Another lesson I learned was to go easy on myself because I’m such a little overachiever. If I make a plan, I’m going to keep the plan, and I’m going to do what I said I’m going to do. But I learned that when you don’t, that’s OK, too. I think there was some moment during the past six months that I said, “Oh, I stopped beating myself up! How did that happen?” I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s age, wisdom or having a child.

More: Did you train by yourself?
MP: I mostly trained by myself. For me, it’s kind of a meditation. It’s a good way to kind of turn off my brain, because you can’t really think when you’re swimming, biking or running.

More: Did you work with a trainer?
MP: I worked with a guy who did an online training. There are tons of online training programs. I also used a book called "The Woman Triathlete" by Christina Gandolfo.

What’s surprising about training is that it’s a lot more about recovery than it is necessarily about pushing yourself. A lot of people train too hard. It’s important to let your body recover.

More: Would you recommend these training sources for new triathlon racers?
MP: Yes, especially for women, because it’s difficult. I had a fear that I would bulk up or lose my boobs.

I would say a sprint distance triathlon doable for anyone with six months worth of training. It’s such a fun thing to do. It’s built-in cross-training. You’re not doing the same thing or hammering your body every day. As a woman, I don’t want to give the message to my little girl that I’m exercising to be skinny. I love that she says that mama’s training to be fast and do her race. To me, it’s such a better message to give her. It’s also very fun to have this arbitrary little goal. It makes exercise not exercise.

More: Is training something you look forward to?
MP: Once I get into it, yes. I will also tell you that I TiVo Top Chef and whatever else on my treadmill. That’s the only place I watch TV—when I’m running.

More: Did your eating habits change when you started training?
MP: They didn’t. When I first started doing triathlons, I thought you could eat whatever you wanted to, and I wondered, “Why am I gaining weight when I’m training so much?” I don’t eat meat; I’m a vegetarian. I always eat tons of vegetables, fruits and grains, and I’m pretty conscious about what I eat, but I didn’t really eat more of anything. They call it train-gain, by the way. It’s like, you’re working out, but you’re not really burning an extra 20,000 calories. You can’t really go to Baskin-Robbins.

More: Was there any part of the triathlon that you were dreading but that turned out differently than you expected?
MP: I was really dreading the biking part because, like I said, I was on a rented bike. The rain really scared me and so did the distance. The fact that we were on the West Side Highway also scared me. But I got into this groove with three other women who were around my same age, which was such a beautiful gift. I didn’t know them, but when we started biking, we realized we basically complemented each other. I’m a really good uphill biker, so I would pass them on the uphill. I’m really chicken to go super fast on the downhill, so they would pass me on the downhill. Then I would pass them on the uphill. At one point, I was like, “Leapfrog, you’re it!”

Then, the really super fast guys that were on the United States’ Olympic team came flying by us on their way back, and we were all cheering them and yelling. So the biking, the part that I was most terrified about, was the most fun because of the other women that I got into this groove with. We weren’t competing against each other, we were all just trying to finish the race and have a good fun time. It was awesome. We kind of all just looked out for each other.

More: Was there any point at which you just wanted to give up?
MP: Yeah, during the run. It was way hillier than I thought it was. This is so sappy: I wear a necklace with my daughter’s name on it, and at one point I just started kissing my necklace and saying her name. I wasn’t in it to win the Olympics, but I just had to keep going.

More: Two people died during this triathlon, one man and one 40-year-old woman. Was that a possibility that ever crossed your mind?
MP: No! When I saw the news, I was totally shocked. That’s terrifying, absolutely terrifying.

Triathlons are becoming very popular now for some reason, and I don’t know if people are training properly. This was a really hard race. This was not a “jump in and see how it works out” kind of thing like some of the past sprint triathlons are that I’ve done.

More: Are you already planning for your next race?
MP: Yeah, I’m debating [laughs]. I might do the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, which I did last year and actually won the celebrity division. So I might do that one on September 17, 2011. My husband and I also like to do the Catalina Island Triathlon because it’s right here, and it’s fun.

The next thing I have on the books for sure is the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in Disneyland. I’m a spokesperson for the race, which is going to be so fun; you run through the park!

More: What advice would you offer to women who have never run competitively?
MP: You can do it. That’s really it. It’s so cheesy and cliché, but honestly, if anyone in high school knew I was doing this, they wouldn’t believe I’m little Ms. Athlete right now. Just get a structured plan and be consistent. That’s the whole secret: Just be consistent. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it’s something that’s just for you.

That feeling of crossing the finish line is like nothing else in the world. I started crying during the last mile of the Nautica race. I started thinking about my dad who passed away a little while ago. I started thinking about different friends I lost this year. Different people who couldn’t be here to do what I’m doing or who couldn’t do what I was doing. I just felt so grateful.

Read: 12 Races to Do Before You Die

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First Published Fri, 2011-08-26 16:41

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