Saturday is “D Day” – the first day with Team In Training where they get to see my face and hand me a training schedule. Yikes. I’m getting more and more “wary” about the whole thing as time progresses, but I am also listening to more triathlon-related podcasts and starting to feel a bit more “in the groove” with the whole thing. It’s like 20 years hasn’t passed . . . I was listening to one podcast (Triathlete’s Coffee Shop) and they were talking about Scott Tinley, Dave Scott, Mark Allen, etc. – the “old guys” of the sport. They were running when I was running. Is this a word to the wise, or what? I’m not that wise…
How did it all start for me? Back in 1988, my girlfriend Leslie and I took a “challenge” published in the Washington Post for anyone who wanted to do a triathlon. It was published by a guy named Remar Sutton. The “challenge” started on New Year’s Day with “find your way off the couch” and ended with the Bahamas Triathlon over Thanksgiving.
The Bahamas Tri was sprint-distance – and a LOT of folks wound up taking the Challenge. It actually freaked Remar out. It was funny. (He had offered to buy “anyone who took him up on the Challenge” dinner the night before the Tri – and he got letters from thousands of folks – and 10os of us actually did it. The Bahamanian authorities weren’t prepared, all that good stuff. I came in 6th Woman overall, but I think that was just a fluke.)
After the Bahamas Tri, I decided to do the Chicago Sun-Times Triathlon. I remember when “Olympic distance” triathlon was still what Ironman is today – “only crazy people” did it. I liked that feeling. In preparation, Leslie and I actually volunteered at the Baltimore Tri – where Mike Pigg was running. He was a total newbie as far as I can remember. The pictures at the left are Leslie and me – the bottom photo is us at Mike Pigg’s staging area. Someone actually TOLD Pigg we had done this – and the top photo is us with his 1st place roses, which he gave to us, and his towel, which we cut in 1/2 (and, yeah, believe it or not, I still have my 1/2). He was THE nicest guy EVER. We were so embarrassed someone had ratted us out. Heck, I think HE was embarrassed. Back then, “triathlon” was one of those “fringe sports” and I think that the fact he had “fans” was a complete shock to him.
I have always basically been a couch potato, though it’s gotten worse recently, with the whole hormonal “thing” going on. I used to be able to work out a little, eat a little better, and get back to my target weight. I am now 30 pounds higher than that, and it really happened almost “overnight.” Dang Hormones, Curses!! (shaking fist at sky). I knew that I needed to get a set program to get back “on the wagon,” and I also had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to do an Ironman. Sure, I probably should have started back with a tri…but I “know I can do” a tri. So – Team In Training.
I remember the feeling, when this photo was taken over TWENTY years ago, of really not knowing if I COULD do a triathlon (Olympic-distance). Man, things were so different, too. Lots of spaghetti dinners, little hydration, oh lord. I’m lucky I didn’t die. I remember when tribars first came out (and nearly killing myself trying to use them). Pre-GU. Pre-Power Bars, really. I owned the first pair of Oakley sunglasses. Yeah, I am OLD!
So now I’m back…I don’t doubt I can do it (well, MUCH); I feel like I did 20 years ago, with that “it’s not possible now, but I am SURE it CAN be possible…RIGHT?” feeling.
I’m rambling…OH, so, the bike story. I took my bike out of the cellar late last week, and brought it to the local bike place to get it tuned up, tubes changed, whatever it would take. This bike is easily 15 years old – though it was “top of the line” back then. (Well, not pro-top, but “as top as I could afford without thinking I was spending money like an idiot” top.) I went and picked it up, and the guy who brought it out was in his 20s – he was probably like 8 when the bike was new. He went on and on about how “great” it was to work on ‘such a classic.’ I voiced some concerns about the bike and the race, and he was just the cutest thing ever. He told me that “yeah,” it was an “old warhorse” (!!! like me? !!!) but that it would “definitely do its best” and would “take me where I needed to go” and such. He patted the bike in the sort of way that someone would pat a horse that’s going to be trained back up for racing…an “Atta BOY, you can DO it” kinda pat. I know that it’s going to get me a lot of looks when I show up with it…no doubt. (At least it’s not a mountain bike…) I also can’t do clipless pedals now – maybe forever – so I have the big cages on the pedals. (The only really BAD accidents I have ever had were with clipless pedals – so I am feeling allergic.)
On that Triathlete Cafe podcast, there was a recent episode where they were talking about what part of the triathlon is the most important – and one thing that came up (and I now agree with) is that cycling is really the most important leg. I was interested to hear each athlete stand up for his or her “sport” – but the arguments from the cyclists actually made the most sense to me. I never was really an athlete in any of these 3 disciplines – I lettered in Fencing at UC, and then also did karate. I never really particularly liked any of the 3 sports that make up triathlon. I am a fairly good swimmer, so I think I was and am lucky as a newbie in that I’m not “scared” of swim workouts. Sure, I still have the “is there a shark underneath me” issue that anyone who saw Jaws as a child has (my mom was SO RIGHT, WHY did I sneak out and see that movie?), but otherwise, I am not a bad swimmer. The one sport that I never really trained at – and spent the LEAST amount of time at – has always been the bike.
My mind actually always sort of said, “Hey, anyone can bike, right?” I didn’t really realize I was thinking this until listening to the Tri-Cafe folks. In my last triathlons before quitting (so, that’s now about 8-10 years ago), I really SUCKED on the bike, and it made the whole experience unpleasant for me. I always skimped on the bike training, because I liked to swim (so would do that more) and don’t like to run (so would do that more, to try to LIKE it more). And I thought: “Anyone can ride a bike.” I now realize this is a fairly stupid thing to think. So I am really going to concentrate on the cycling portion, which will be TOTALLY new to me. I think I’m also going to sign up for some Spinning classes at the gym.
That’s my update for now. I’m having fun blogging again. It’s far from my old blogs, fEmpowerment, and the like – but maybe not. I’m starting from pretty much zero – which my book discusses, though not from an athletic context. I’m so curious to see how this all goes. And I’m making friends online in the triathlon “world,” and feeling great about it. This happened when I trained for the Big Sur Marathon – folks out there who were marathoners on various websites got to be “buddies” in a way. Now, it’s the Ironcrew. And I like it.