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What I Do: Andrea Wagner, 39

Triathlete (training for the Xterra East Championship in Richmond on June 23)

It's always competitive. I think everyone that does it is out there to race. But it's real laid-back, supportive; everyone kind of has that same feeling of understanding each other because you're doing this crazy, off-road, difficult, challenging course. People are into each other. It's really fun. ... It's neat to be involved with that kind of feeling when you're really, you know, a working housewife [laughs].

[My first triathlon was] in 1984, when I was in college. I was a competitive swimmer, and wanted to try something different, so started running. And then I heard about this triathlon, and just wanted to try. It was loads of fun, because I was the only female, for one thing. No other women had signed up and it was, I guess, my first quote-unquote endurance event — although looking back, it was very short.

Women stick together, I think, closer than men do, in these sorts of things. I love any woman who takes a challenge, and I really support all the women out there. I love to see it. But no one looks up to me. We just support each other.

Every time I get off my mountain bike I swear I'm not gonna do it again. And I just can't seem to pass it up! You cross the finish line, and you're muddy and bloody and sweaty and exhilarated. It's just one of those weird feelings, I suppose.

In Half Moon Bay I went over my handlebars and bashed up my chin pretty good. I kept going — but I have to say, now having done that, it definitely hurts you on the mountain bike part of the race. … It was funny when I crossed and my chin was pretty ugly. [My children] sort of looked at me in disbelief. I think it was the first time they got a glimpse of what Mommy does every once in a while.

Xterra is more about guts, and high spirits, and being daring. And when you have a crash and you get injured, it makes you more timid on the bike, which just leads to more mistakes than going slow. ... But you get over it. That's when the Xterra spirit really helps. They cheer you on. When you've got your bike over your shoulder and you're going up the hill, some guy behind you is yelling for you to go and "Good job!" and everyone's into each other.

[After races] I mostly just want to go and hang out and see my family and clean off (cause you're usually pretty dirty) and relax. Take a couple Advil.

— Interviewed by Melissa Scott Sinclair, Photographed by Scott Elmquist.

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