Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Beginning

Welcome to the inaugural blog featuring the Internet's premier site for bantering on topics that may or may not actually be triathlon related. That being said, for some reason, I feel the need to litter the already bloated Internet with yet another bit of biased gibberish based on relatively no facts and tons of opines. Being as that I am not an actively social individual, this is my outlet for triathlon and life ranting as I see fit. Gotta love the blogosphere.

Without further ado, here's my story about triathlon. Very few people actually start in the sport with a desire to be a triathlete. Many of us have a differing background or rationale for attempting the SBR. I was a swimmer and a runner throughout high school and swam in college. I was not particularly great at either of these, but I didn't know it at the time. Of course, all of us rode bikes as children because, well, that's what kids do. Bicycles were our escape from reality and our main form of transportation. I was no exception. Somewhere in my mid-20s, post-college and pre-marriage, I heard about a local YMCA that ran a non-USAT sanctioned triathlon as a fundraiser event. Of course, I knew nothing of USAT. I only knew that I could already swim and run. I remember biking as a kid. How hard could a triathlon be?

Naturally, I was not ready for such an event. For one, I did not own a bike. A co-worker of mine had a husband who had a bike. I am 5'10. He was 6'4. I bought the bike for $20. (Which I learned later was spent that very night on pizza. Not sure who got the better deal.) The bike was a steel Schwinn, complete with cage toe-clips and a hand-finished white paint job. If I lowered the seat to its lowest setting, I could pedal. I could even touch the ground if I leaned the bike a bit to the sides. I could also touch the ground if I was at the very end of my tippie toes, albeit with emasculating discomfort. I was ready.

The race itself was a sprint distance, not that I had any idea what that meant. All I knew was that I didn't need to swim much to complete a menial 400 yard swim. On a team, 400 yards is less than your average warm up. Simple. No walls, lines, or flip turns. They were even nice enough to put these great big balloons to swim around. Some of the races wore big, thick, black rubber suits. Must be non-swimmers.

The bike was a mere 13 miles. All I had to do was hang my gargantuan bike from a pole and put my shoes on the side.

With a run of only 3.4 miles... Ha, piece of cake. Of course, growing up in a competitive environment, I had to go hard. Right. No wetsuit. No bike shoes. No knowledge. No experience. No idea. No problem.

I had no clue about the challenge of coming out of the water and trying to run to my bike. Competitive swimming does not normally involve a run portion. The ache in my chest was not anticipated. The race flier was completely vague about how to find your bike coming from the water. I had no understanding of the draft rule or the blocking rule. Competitive running does not normally involve a swim/ bike warm-up. I didn't anticipate the rubbery, robot feel of coming off the bike and starting to run. The "I think I left my right lung at the 1 mile mark' feeling was completely foreign to me before that fateful morning.

However, I won my age group. That's right. I finished first in the male 20-24 age class. I was on top of the world. I got my medal. Picture taken. In a nutshell, I was awesome. Posting a time of 1 hour and 20 plus minutes was a podium finish. Looking back now, I get that most normal early 20-somethings are usually out drinking, partying, socializing on Saturday nights and not racing on Sunday mornings. In the po-dunk area of Indiana in which I was residing, the sport was not mainstreamed. Or recognized. Or even heard of by the masses. This was the late 90s and no one my age was triathloning (new word, we should use it). In the bliss of my award, I had just one thought... I won. You didn't. I am definitely doing this again next year.

Somewhere buried in a shed at my parents' house lies that same white bike with the toe clips. Rusted and seized by now. The large plastic box that I used in my second year of the race to wash my feet in transition can still be found. Those years I rode in a spandex. No tri suit. No padding. Full cotton socks. Such success. The beginning had started.

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