Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Triathlon Saga

Well, here's the long awaited saga on the Triathlon I did last weekend.

Before I begin let me give a little history... About 15 years ago, I was pretty active, swimming well over a mile a day, cycling 10 or 15 and running everywhere I went. Then I got married, and then finally managed to get myself a desk job. The result has been about 40 extra pounds packed on. At the end of 2006, I couldn't run more than about a quarter mile without collapsing in a pile of jiggling goo, and anything more than a minute or 2 wrestling with my kids would leave me flaked out on the floor.

I had a neighbor (he moved a few months back) who was kind of the same way, and so at the beginning of the year, we decided to start working out. It helped to that he is a cop and so gets free access to the City Gym where he works!!

The first 4 months were horrible. If it hadn't been for my pride and him dragging me every night, I would likely have given up.

One very important lesson I learned during this time, was that shoes matter. We tried to get out and run 3 times a week, and the pain in my legs and ankles was killing. Turns out the expensive Nikes I had bought were crappy shoes and causing the problems, so I went to a running store and they mapped out and analyzed my feet with a computer. After shelling out nice wad of cash, I got a pair of real running shoes, and they have made all the difference.

In April or May I read a story about a guy who had used a triathlon as a goal in his fitness routine. I always wanted to do one when I was a kid, so I decided to train for 1. This meant I had to add swimming and cycling to my exercise routine, but the variety really helped.

At the beginning of August I entered my first triathlon. It was a novice distance - 200M swim, 4 mile bike and 1 mile run. As my wife so nicely put it... "It's not like it's a real triathlon."

It went fairly well. I started a little too fast in the swim, and so spent the rest of the event sucking air, but I got finished in a little over 33 minutes, and came 5th overall and first in my age group.

Fresh off that success I felt the urge to try another. This last one was a Sprint Triathlon, although the Swim and Bike were a little shorter than a traditional Sprint Triathlon. 400M Swim, 9mile bike and 5k run.

Fresh off 4 hours of sleep following the Def Leppard concert, I headed down last Saturday. It took a while to get going but that helped because it gave me time to run through the race in my head and prepare mentally - I've found triathlons are very much mental! You have to be mental to try one, and then you need the mental determination to finish.

This one used chip timing which was pretty cool, and tracked every leg of the event, including the transitions. It also meant the timing was based on you starting and not the whole group.

I started the swim with the 11 minute group - mostly because I didn't want to push the swim too hard and run into the same problems as the first one. I passed a bunch of people in the pool and exited the pool in about 9 minutes. Took an easy transition and then started the bike section. It went fairly well. I borrowed my buddy's bike, since mine is about 15 years old, but I did decide that I really need to invest in a road bike, as a mountain bike just doesn't quite cut it. My average speed was 15.7mph, and the guys who came in the top places all averaged over 20.

Finished the bike strong, took another easy transition and then started the run. I did a 5k back in July in about 32 minutes - not really impressive, but it almost killed me, so I have been doing a lot more running since. The run went really well. It was a two lap course with a short and very steep hill halfway round each lap. I decided to walk that, and was very glad I did. I ended up finishing the run in 28 minutes, and the entire event in an hour and 17 minutes.

I think I'm going to give it a rest for the rest of the season. I have a 5k race in 2 weeks, and than after that I think I need to hunker down in preparing for next year. So far the plan is to run the Ogden Half Marathon in May, and then I would really like to work up to doing an open water Sprint Triathlon and an Olympic Triathlon (Twice the Sprint Distance.)

I definitely need a new road bike, probably need to get a new pair of running shoes, and need to stock up on GU packs - They're those little gooey sugar packs that marathoners use... Seemed to make the world of difference at the triathlon.


  1. Thanks Gats!!

    I have some pretty ambitios plans for next year and the year following, but I think I'll keep them under wraps until I actually accomplish them.

    That way, no-one can call be a weeny!

  2. First you admit you have children,then that you exercise, for fun, - I'm rethinking my position on your sanity ;)

  3. I'm not sure if I have ever claimed to be 100% sane...

    The kids... My wife and I question out sanity all the time on that one. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now...

    Unfortunately, knowing each of them now, I don't think we could pick one to give up. Although last night, I think my wife had her top 2 choices pretty much decided!

    The exercise... I think I see your point - There's just something with the high you get when you get done with a race like this, and the best part is, it's legal!

  4. hehehe, you don't give em up you sell them, for medical experiments ;)

  5. The parent is me says "What? No way in hell..."

    But there's this little entreprenureal voice voice saying... "Hmmmmm..."