FORT STEWART, Ga. – Physical fitness is key component to Soldier readiness. Maintaining good health and staying in shape is critical to ensuring Soldier's abilities to do their jobs and accomplish the Army’s mission. For 1st Lt. Victoria Falk, a native from Chicago, Illinois, the human resource officer assigned to the "Hound Battalion," 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, the drive to improve her own physical fitness helped her achieve what she wanted for years – to compete in her first Chicago Triathlon alongside her dad, which occurred on Aug. 29.
Falk was always an avid competitor playing tennis and competing in half-marathons. In 2014, she attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where she played Division I Women's Tennis. Due to the physical fitness requirements of West Point and the Army, she realized it was only the beginning.
“I had zero experience in doing triathlons. I just started running more when I got in the Army and liked it,” said Falk. “I was also good at swimming. So I was like ‘Okay, I’ll give this a try.'"
Falk's Army career kept her away from the Chicago Triathlon due to school, change in duty station and a deployment to Poland in 2020. Despite this, her ambition never ceased as she continued to push herself to reach her goals. Before deployment, she did a spur ride with 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd ABCT, 3rd ID, where she rolled her right ankle and then later tore ligaments due to overuse after walking on rocky terrain during deployment.
“I was so upset just because 2021 was the year I set to do the triathlon with my dad," said Falk. "My whole recovery mindset was that I just needed to get better so I can do it. It was on our bucket list.”
Falk decided it was time to reach her goal after returning stateside, and her dad signed them both up for the Chicago Triathlon. The race consisted of a 1.5K swim in Monroe Harbor, a 40K bike down Lakeshore Drive and a 10K run on Columbus Drive, all in downtown Chicago. She said training was half the battle.
“Once I was cleared to run, I just kind of worked on it and progressed, but swimming was the hardest part to train for, especially for open water because I didn’t want to get eaten by an alligator,” Falk joked. Along with running, she would swim in installation pools, at Jekyll Island, Georgia, and then in Lake Michigan while on leave. She would also get up early on the weekends to do thirty mile bike rides to train.
Despite six months of training for the triathlon, Falk pushed forward and treasured the time with her dad.
“It was really exciting, I was so happy to be back home to do the race this year. Despite the injury to my ankle, being able to do it with my dad was heartwarming, and I will always remember the moment that we got to do something like this together.”
Falk said the hardest part of the race was going from one event to another, but she finished first in her division against first-responders, including policeman and firefighters. After finishing, she went back down the course to motivate her dad to finish the race himself.
When it comes to ambitions and goals, Falk says perseverance was key to maintaining her physical fitness to prepare for the race. “If you have a goal that you want, even though you are in the Army, you can still make time for and work towards it," she said. "I hope to inspire other people to want to go out and challenge themselves.”
Falk says her next goal is to compete in a half iron-man competition in 2022.