Mother of twins, actress, recording artist, entrepreneur and now (drum roll, please) triathlete! Yesterday SELF's Most Inspiring Woman for 2008, Jennifer Lopez, finished the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in 2 hours, 23 minutes, 38 seconds and—perhaps even more impressive—with a huge smile on her face.
For weeks, SELF has been following Jennifer as she trained for the tri, which she was doing to raise money for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. When the day finally arrived, we were a bit groggy when we hit Malibu's Zuma Beach at a chilly, hazy 4:45 A.M., but excitement took over as the race's 3,200 participants, including SELF editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger, who had raced the Olympic distance the day before as well (and medaled!), descended on the beach. Adding to the buzz: tons of paparazzi. At the media check-in booth, we overheard a few wondering if Jennifer would show. We just smiled, knowing that there was no "if" involved. She'd be there.
At about 6:30 A.M., Jennifer snuck into the beach from the back entrance with her trainer, Gunnar Peterson, and husband, Marc Anthony. "Pray for me!" she joked with us as she got out of the car, looking excited and maybe a wee bit nervous. She posed for a quick prerace picture, (see above) and then headed to her spot in the transition area. After changing into her wetsuit (with strategically placed towels providing a little privacy from the press box less than 10 feet away!), Jennifer made her way to the start. There she met up with Lucy for a hug and final pep talk, chatted with fellow racer Matthew McConaughey (remember how cute they were together in The Wedding Planner?) and waited for the starting gun with other celeb racers like Eliza Dushku, Jon Cryer and Mad Men's Jon Hamm.
And with an ear-popping bang, she was off, sprinting toward the 64-degree surf with a sea of other silver-swim-capped racers, popping back up only 20 minutes later 1/4 mile up the beach. (She had told us the week before that the swim would probably take her about 28 minutes; go Jen!) After a quick kiss from Marc, she made her way to the transition area. One problem: Her T-shirt and shoes were MIA!
"She somehow didn't have the bag they were in. So I gave her an XXL T-shirt I had and a woman nearby let her borrow an extra pair of sneakers," Gunnar told us after the race. But you'd never know she was without her regular gear. Jennifer looked confident and focused for the next two legs of the race—an 18-mile bike and 4-mile run—and crossed the finished line to cheers. "She did great. She was comfortable, just like a training day. It's pace not race, it's all for the charity and she knocked it out," Gunnar said.
Afterward, at the VIP the tent, Jennifer—who, by the way, looked almost too glowy and gorgeous for having just spent the last two-plus hours sweating—nibbled on a muffin, hugged Marc and shared a table with Matthew and Camila Alves, who had their new baby wrapped in a sling. A few racers at a nearby table stood up, clapped and yelled, "Thanks for supporting the kids, Jennifer!" Between congratulations from other VIPs, we caught up with her for a minute (literally!) before she was whisked away for the awards presentation:
"I finished! I'm happy! My head's pounding a little bit, but I'm really good! I know you guys were happy to see me get in the water!" she told us, laughing, referring to the week before when she and Lucy swam at Jones Beach in New York, along with a slew of stinging jellyfish. "The swim was the hardest, like I thought it would be, but it went by quick. The bike was great and fun. And the run was just like any other run! I felt good."
With her goal of finishing the race complete, Jennifer could focus on her other goal: helping one of her favorite charities, Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.
"It's an amazing day. I'm glad I finished and made it out of the water. But I feel really great because with the help of SELF magazine, we were able to raise $127,000 for Childrens Hospital," she announced from the main stage. That brought the grand total for the day's event to $950,000 for CHLA!
Thank you to all who supported Jennifer and donated to this worthy cause. And we thank Jennifer for being such an inspiration, showing us that by making a commitment to yourself, you can achieve your goals. Let SELF help you reach yours! Go to our Reach your Goal program or try any of our online workouts.
To read Lucy's insider take on the race and see more pictures, check out her True to My SELF blog. And check back tomorrow for more pictures and video from the exciting race day!