Six months ago, if you said I’d be competing in triathlon’s, I would have thought you needed to see a doctor. Swimming, biking, and running long distances simply didn’t make my list of fun things to do. Yet, six months later, I’m down 50 pounds and in the best shape of my life! I’m crushing triathlons all summer with bigger races on deck! Let me explain how I developed my new addiction: Sprint Triathlons.
One morning, I heard someone talking about an “Ironman” on the radio. The thought of calling myself an “Ironman” piqued my interest. A full Ironman Race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and finally a marathon—26.2 mile run. At one point, I thought “anyone who does these kinds of races is just a glutton for punishment.” A “Suffer-fest,” of sorts. But then I found out there are shorter distances for people getting their feet wet (pardon the pun) in the triathlon world. A “sprint triathlon” sounded more up my alley: 750 meter swim, 12.4 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run (although, sprint distances may vary).
There was a race at my local community center in six weeks. I knew it would be hard, but I’m not one to turn down a challenge (ask my wife), so I took the plunge and signed up. I bought a bike off of Craigslist the next day, was fitted for some running shoes and picked up some goggles for the pool.
With my gear secured, my signup completed, it was time to train. Vince Lombardi once said “The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.” I did the requisite research, I picked a training plan, and stuck to it. Being consistent is crucial because with consistency comes improvement. I found a training plan on the net easily (and for free). Once I found my plan, I set a start date on my calendar and got to work!
My first “training day”
My plan said, “run 15 minutes.” I thought, “that’s it? How hard could this be? I can run for 15 minutes straight, no problem.” So, I started running and was feeling good. Then it happened. Only two minutes in and I couldn’t breathe, my legs were on fire and I couldn’t see because of the sweat dripping into my eyes. I thought, “what am I thinking signing up for a triathlon? I must be crazy!” But, I made the decision right there that I would push through. The first week was a train wreck. The good news was that I discovered I wasn’t good at biking or swimming either, but I kept at it. As the weeks passed, I started to swim a little easier, bike a little faster and run a little longer. I went from wondering if I could finish, to wondering if there was anything I couldn’t do. I thought about how many races I could feasibly do and planned my whole schedule of races before I had even completed my first.
Thankfully, I was still intimidated by the 140.6 mile Ironman, and opted for a shorter distance Sprint Triathlon and am so happy that I did. I signed up, trained hard, fell in-love with the sport… and smashed my goals. Nothing feels better than crossing the finish line! The best advice I was given was to take my time, enjoy the moment and remember to smile for my finish line picture! In a way, that translates to everyday life.