Carrie Van Quathem was standing at Blue Heron Lake before the start of the 2008 Hy-Vee Triathlon. She sensed a feeling of dread.

Van Quathem looked around and saw seemingly all of her competitors wearing swim-specific wet suits. She was wearing a regular bathing suit.

"This is so not like running," Van Quathem recalls. "Everyone else is in a wet suit. I don't know what I'm getting into. What am I doing?

"I had an utter fear of failure."

To say that Van Quathem was unprepared for her first triathlon that day might be an understatement.

"I didn't even have bike shorts. That big pad," she says in disdain. "I had regular shorts I was going to throw on over my swimsuit. I didn't have the shoes, the clip-ons. Or a number belt. It was pretty humorous.

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