My oldest daughter was graduating from middle school, and looking forward to playing volleyball at the high school level. She had explored several sports while growing up: ballet, soccer, and basketball, but none of these captured her interest. Then she discovered volleyball, and she was hooked. We no longer needed to remind her about practice, even though we still needed to occasionally remind her to bring a water bottle to practice.
Just as summer started, she set a goal for herself: she decided she wanted to make the JV team as an incoming freshman. To accomplish her goal, she set out a plan complete with a workout schedule, a list of skills development clinics to attend, and a fierce desire to make it happen. The next morning, her bathroom mirror was covered with dozens of sticky notes – personal reminders to herself on what she needed to do, and why she was doing it.
To help her achieve her goal, we spent a good part of the summer at the gym, running drills, peppering until our arms were sore, lifting weights, and playing doubles whenever we could. We got to spend a lot of quality time together and it was her determination that pushed me to set a goal of my own. Next year I turn 50: I decided to compete in my first triathlon before my 50th birthday and the Marin County 2012 Sprint triathlon which was 14 weeks away.
Triathletes all have something in common, regardless of what level we achieve, we all have to start somewhere, building a base, and working up from there. I have never competed in a swimming race, long distance run, or bike ride, so my journey began with research, and I read everything I could get my hands on, from web sites, to magazines, to blogs. It also included a heavy dose of shopping. I sold my trusty old Specialized Rockhopper Comp, my companion for so many years, and purchased an acceptable road bike, some decent running shoes, goggles, and of course, all the necessary accessories that at first seemed very foreign to me but have now become a normal part of my workout routine.
Even with all the research I did, most of the time, I had to experience things myself. I risked drowning in my backyard pool by trying to swim with my windsurfing wetsuit instead of using a tri suit, and then hyperventilated on my first ocean swim because I didn’t have the end of the pool to rest on with every turn. I thought I would never be able to walk again after my first brick workout, and actually couldn’t walk after riding up and down Mount Diablo for the first time. It is a 45 mile round trip from my house, with a 3,900 foot elevation and somewhere along the way it stopped being fun.
I learned some new terms such as plantar fasciitis, added some extra protein to my diet, while still managing to enjoy an occasional slice of pizza. As they say, it’s about the journey and not the destination, and this was one heck of a journey.
Race day came, and the weather was perfect. We drove into McNear's Beach County Park at 6am and watched the sunrise bathe the San Francisco Bay with warn sunlight. The camp was already a frenzy of activity, and I found myself going through the preparatory steps as if I was a veteran. I setup in the transition area, and settled in near the start with my wetsuit on, unable to hide the nervous energy that kept me pacing back and forth.
The physical effort, mental focus, and adrenalin high I experienced was exactly as I imagined it would be, and all of it worthwhile. What I was not expecting was the incredible energy level and camaraderie from everyone at the event, from participants to organizers, to volunteers. The field included many first time triathletes like me, and many veteran racers, from all different age groups. Even the kids event was well attended.
My finish time? 1:14:20 - 6th out of 15 in my age group, proving I am in better shape then most, and not as good a shape as some. I have plenty of areas to focus on as the journey continues with my next stop, an Olympic event.
And yes, my daughter did make the JV team, and they finished 2nd in their league.
RichardWalnut Creek, CA