When I started running a few weeks ago (see Sit.Desk.Write… and Run.), I never aspired to anything more than… running to lose a few pounds.
My athletic husband, who’s mouth is still hanging open because I’m actually moving, tentatively suggested that maybe… someday… down the road… I might consider doing an actual event like a half-marathon or 5K race to start.
A dear friend who’d encouraged me to run five years ago but never pressured me, also suggested I pick an event for the fall as a target to keep me on track.
I paid them both lip service, but had no burning desire to join a mass of hot sticky (stinky) people jostling for position to do what? Publicly sweat? No thank you.
Neither my husband nor my friend pressed the issue. Rereading my running journal (found on A Running Journal page on this blog or on Facebook), I can see the baby steps I took (am still taking), and the pride I’ve had with each new achievement, no matter how small. See Mom? I can run two blocks without stopping!
A few days ago, as I raced the clock trying to cram in all the social media catch-up I could, I saw mention of a friend’s friend trying to raise money for a charitable cause by competing in a triathlon. The location of the triathlon caught my attention; it was almost in my backyard.
Funny, I’d never heard of it. So, of course, I went down that feared Google segue path, but… this time, it was a fruitful course. Turns out, not only is the event at a place I know well from picnics and dogwalking; it’s also my husband’s favorite place to windsurf! (Ironically, this isn’t that same lake, but now’s a great time to show off his windsurfing abilities from our vacation. Here’s his video shot with his helmet cam: My windsurfing husband!)
An idea was born, but I wanted to bounce it off my running partner. So, I asked.
Would she be willing to train with me for a triathlon? Granted, it must be the baby of all baby triathlons, a “Sprint Triathlon” where the requirements are about as minimal as you can get, but with a scant six weeks left to prepare, it was still a dicey proposition for us.
Could we do it? I did the math (well, I googled a metric conversion table…). A 5K run meant 3.11 miles. Okay, to me the running was the scariest, but by that day I was up to two miles in segments.
For the swimming, 500 meters is .31 miles. I mean, hello? That’s 20-22 laps in the pool. I used to do that back in the day when exercise came first. No, I’m not a swimmer, really, but I can hold my head above the water. I chose to ignore the little detail of squeezing into a swimsuit in front of hundreds of people (would this mean I need to start lifting weights… my thighs… hmm).
So far, piece of cake. On to the biking, which I considered my strongest suit. 40K equals 24.85 miles. What? Yikes, how long would that take? Still, it didn’t seem insurmountable; my running partner and I had already started cross-training (and were at 6 easy miles) because I didn’t want to overtax my knees.
We both went home and bounced the idea off our spouses. Mine is still a bit dazed, dare I say euphoric underneath it all, though? (He’s been telling all his friends.)
I called my seasoned running friend and asked her to be blunt. Could I do it given my current state of physical non-prowess? She said yes. That’s all I needed.
As I’ve shared what I’m going to do with a few other friends, I’ve gotten quite a sampling of responses. Most are stunned (I kind of like that), in disbelief, or concerned I will hurt myself, because it takes years for people to train for triathlons; what did I think I was doing? Well, I’m not talking about the IronMan Triathlon here; it is a Sprint Triathlon. A few are genuinely thrilled for me which is what I need to hear. This is a no-skeptic zone.
Even my husband took a stab at reining me in; maybe I should focus on a 5K first, then work up to a triathlon. Huh? No way am I waiting another year to do this. I want to be a tri-athlete!
So, after all the feedback, I talked to my running partner again, as we were huffing and puffing in 93 degree weather after work. Her husband had expressed concern too, mainly about her swimming.
Our ultimate decision was to go for it. We aren’t going to train to the point of hurting ourselves, and if it looks like we’re going down that path, we stop.
And, yes, we realized with time not on our side, we needed a realistic plan: We will focus on doing just a little more than required for each leg of the event and hone those areas.
Okay, I admit, sometimes I like to shock people.
Maybe being the firstborn, getting top grades (as expected), and following the rules by being a “good girl” all these years has something to do with it. One thing I still thank my parents for is instilling high aspirations.
If you don’t know you can’t do something, why can’t you do it?
Thanks for being on this ride with me.~ JD here