She’s a Brick…House- or How I Accidentally Agreed to Try a Tri

I accidentally agreed to do a triathlon.  Ok, it wasn’t a complete accident.  But I seem to somewhat be falling into it.

My husband has completed a couple of triathlons.  He was a member of a team specifically devoted to helping people complete their first triathlon, aptly titled Team IWannaTri.  Over the course of his training, I met the team organizer, Mike.  He and his wife became friends of ours.  Mike knew I participated in running events, and encouraged me to join the tri team.  I explained I wasn’t really a swimmer, unless you consider floating as swimming.  He offered to teach me.  I said I would consider it, and of course, never gave it a second thought.

After running two half marathons, I became pretty burnt out on running.   I needed something to jumpstart my workout routine.  Little did I know that motivation would come by way of a Christmas present.

My sister-in-law is getting married in Maui. As a fun gift, she and her fiancé got my husband and I snorkel masks for Christmas, with the intention of our using them on the wedding trip.  Ben and I honeymooned in Maui.  He snorkeled.  I looked through his mask near the shore, and determined I was better off staying on the beach.

I like to think I have become more adventurous since my first trip to Hawaii eight years ago.  I want to use that mask.  But that requires me getting comfortable in open water- or to put it another way, learning to swim.

Ok, you can see where this is heading.  Last night, I headed to the gym with Mike for my first swimming lesson.  I hadn’t agreed to the tri, but I told him if I could figure out how not to sink in water, I might be convinced.  We decided to run to the gym (see, he was totally trying to get me on board with this tri thing).  During our jog, he asked what I saw as my main issue with swimming.  I said I felt uncomfortable with my face in the water and didn’t know how to breathe properly.

We arrived at the gym and headed to the pool.  The first length, he asked me to swim as I normally would.  He swam behind me, watching underneath the water to see what I did.  He pinpointed a few problems.  First, I did not blow bubbles out when my face was in the water.  Who knew blowing bubbles was a good thing, and not just something fun?  I lifted my head out of the water to breathe, instead of turning it to the side.  And I went a long time before getting my first breath, choosing to wait until I had exhausted all reserves.

He showed me how to correct these issues.  It didn’t come naturally to me- I had to think about it A LOT.  But by the end of the session, I swam five lengths of the pool.  I probably shouldn’t have been happy with that number, considering I need to be able to do 35 lengths for the race, but I was thrilled.  Within an hour, I was well on my way to improvement.  On the run home, I all but committed to doing the race.

I woke up today ready to take on the second leg of the tri- the bike.  I have a bike, but I have not ridden it in quite some time.  I try to pack as much calorie burning into the least amount of time possible- thus why I became a runner.

The term “sentimental value” could not describe my bike with any more accuracy.  It was given to me by a friend over ten years ago.  He bought a new bike and gave me his old one.  At the time, I had very little disposable income, so purchasing a bike was out of the question.  To be given a bike was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.  The bike was blue and looked like a standard mountain bike.  My husband painted it silver with a purple fade.  He put a sticker on the front that read “Make Art, Not War.”  I was in love with it.

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The bike is now fifteen to twenty years old.  The gears do not work, at least not intentionally.  This morning, as my husband gave me a verbal refresher course on operating gears, he joked that maybe I should get one of those infomercials bikes that do the shifting for you.  As we set out on our ride, my gears kept shifting ever few feet, despite the fact that I was doing nothing to cause this.  I stopped shifting and rode the reminder of the ride in whatever gear my bike fancied.

Without gears, the uphill portions became a little daunting.  At no point did I have to get off and push the bike, but I did have to stand to pedal at times.  The standing was actual a pleasant reminder- on my first ride in AZ, I tried to stand and pedal, and did not have the knee strength to do it. Yeah, fitness!

The majority of our uphill work was during the first half of the trip, giving me a false sense of confidence as we coasted home.  We parked in our garage and I said “I’m going to go run a couple of miles”- essentially completing my first brick, tri speak for bike-run.

I set out on the road, and within a few feet, my knees were sending “stop” signals to my brain.  If Ben hadn’t been home to see me return in shame, I very well may have stopped.  But I felt I had something to prove.  So I stumbled along like a zombie, shuffling forward by mere will.  After about a half mile, my knees realized they weren’t getting out of it, and silenced their protests.

The strange thing is, I completed roughly two thirds of the biking and running that would be required on race day, yet I felt more confident after my mediocre swim.  I biked 8 and ½ miles, ran 2.  The race is a 12.4 mile bike ride, and a 3.2 mile run.  I swam 5 lengths of the pool, and I need to do 35.  Go figure.  Novelty of a new sport I guess.

So, there you have it.  I guess I’m going to try a tri.  Hopefully I’ll live to tell the tale.

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