The term “newbie” may seem an affectionate phrase to some, but I always saw it as almost slightly derogatory. I have disliked using it when referring to myself. But here I am now, introducing myself as a newbie to the world of the triathlon.
I realize, after having just recently registered with BeginnerTriathlete.com, that anything I can say has already been spoken by many, many, many other people. Any thought that I will ever have on the subject has gone through the thoughts of thousands upon thousands of other people who are either now, or were, in the same position as I am. And here’s the position I’m in…
I’m a 45 year old male, husband, and father of a 12 year old, 11 year old, and a nine-month old (don’t ask, things happen). Like many of you (56,987 of you, more than likely), I am currently trying to fool myself into believing that I can enter and complete a triathlon—a local sprint triathlon, to be exact. Like many of you (probably a good 69,998 or so of you, I’d guess), this decision, urge, whatever, seems to have just come around with not an incredible amount of thought. You can take months to decide on the purchase of a new car; it took a fraction of that time to get this crazy idea of attempting what I consider a rather extreme physical challenge.
Having scanned through a number of BT articles (oh, boy, I even know what BT stands for), it seems a number of people have entered the tri world in a physical shape they considered to be overweight. That’s never been my problem. I always have been, and will probably always be skinny. But for the last 10 to 12 years I started to get this gut. I’m still skinny, but I had this stupid gut that stuck out. When at the beach at OBX this summer I was wearing a Body Glove shirt that made the gut even more pronounced. I don’t want to sound vain, but I wasn’t pleased with the way I looked.
What did I do? I rode my hybrid bike about seven to nine miles every day in the summer as a means of exercise, but it wasn’t until this past September when I upped my rides to approximately 13 miles a day while pushing myself to better my time (averaging about 48 minutes to do 13 miles in a suburban neighborhood—darn those stop signs and traffic lights) that I started to lose the gut. I also changed my bad eating habits of always having seconds at meals, having the double cheeseburgers, and eating between meals. I haven’t had chocolate in months, and I used to eat four Reese’s at a time.
Within a short period of time, I dropped 25 pounds from an average of over 165 pounds (I know, some people would love to be at 165 lbs. –maybe 13,367 of you-), my stomach flattened from a 34/35 waist to a 31/32 waist, my BP (another deciding factor to get active) worked its way down to about 118/71, and I just overall felt better.
It started with these newly-expanded bike rides. I wanted to initially find some sort of competition where I could ride my bike more for speed as opposed to the 50-mile endurance rides some of the local bike clubs seem to prefer. It was my wife who made the comment that if I want to find a biking event to my liking, I might need to find a triathlon to enter. The thought initially seemed absurd. Me, in a triathlon? But like most of you (298,366, wouldn’t you say) the ridiculousness started melting away to the questions, “Could I-should I-would I?”
I found out I have a couple of coworkers who participate in this local sprint triathlon: swim 0.5 miles in a pool, bike 15 miles, run 3 miles This sprint triathlon is nine months away, which is leading me to believe that I should have enough time to prepare. I’ve read the articles about those who attempted to prepare for a tri one or two months prior.
As of now, things have started rolling along at a quickened pace. I have found the joy of physical activity (got my four-mile run from 40 minutes to 34 minutes on my fourth try), but now it’s the off-season in Pennsylvania and the time change, coupled with the lowering temperatures, has me down. So we joined a local community fitness center that has a pool, spinners, treadmills, etc. And like so many of you (can’t even guess the number), I’ve found that swimming is going to be my biggest challenge.
I’ve started reading books on swimming and triathlon training in general, and I am semi-patiently waiting for an email from a fitness and swimming instructor friend who agreed to help me with my swimming. I’ve been leering longingly at the entry level Raleigh road bikes at the local bike shop (guess what I’m asking Santa for this year?). Everyone to whom I’ve dropped hints about this triathlon (and the people who my wife has just been outright telling) have shown nothing but support and awe (not quite sure the whether awe is a compliment or not.)
All that’s left is to train, train, train, enter and do the triathlon. Probably a lot of you are nodding your head, relating too much to what I’ve just mentioned. I’ll have to keep you updated on my progress, if you’re interested. Maybe I’ll even write about an embarrassing moment I had since this all started. Yep, just starting and I already have an embarrassing moment anecdote!
Swim, Bike, Run. Reading. Can remember TV show/cartoon themes from 40 years ago. Philadelphia Phillies.