What Was I Thinking?

author : ecnefoop
comments : 9

I had been very fit until I turned the legal age for the two demons: drinking and smoking. Unfortunately, from my 18th birthday, my once fit swimmer's body went downhill and wide very fast.

I had been very fit until I turned the legal age for the two demons: drinking and smoking. Unfortunately, from my 18th birthday, my once fit swimmer’s body went downhill and wide very fast. The problem was compounded by focusing on my career and maintaining a diet consisting of junk food, more junk food, and a liberal dose of beer and cigarettes with zero exercise.

Last year I discovered that a public pool had been built only 100 yards down the street from my place of work. It was only a 17 meter pool, but I figured it was a start. I struggled to make 50 meters freestyle during my first visit. I persisted for months with a fairly blasé dieting regimen (basically no junk food or snacks in-between meals). After a one year period I had lost eight kilos (17 pounds) and felt generally fitter.

I had been chatting to a colleague who suggested that I try running and cycling (he is a cycling fanatic), so I duly attempted to run a course of two kilometers. At first I found that my “run” would be more of a stagger 250 for meters before walking the rest, but again I persisted and found that after three weeks I was able to run the distance, and every four weeks I would add more distance and a little more speed.

The cycling was a little easier, although my dusty and rusty old mountain bike felt more like a steam roller with pedals than a bicycle. After several weeks of running and cycling, my colleague suggested I attempt a triathlon with him. I could comfortably swim 500m, cycle 10k, and jog 3k. At first I waved off the idea as a joke. Me, do a triathlon? HAHAHAHA. I mentioned it to my wife one night, and she said, “Why don't you go along? You might enjoy it.” The thought ran through my head for the next two weeks, and I wondered whether I could make the distance (it was a novice tri of 300m swim, 8k bike and 3k run). I finally bit the bullet and signed up, so that there was no backing out. As a bonus, my brother signed up with me (although he was even less fit than myself).

It actually felt good when I mentioned to people that I was about to do a triathlon. Nearly everyone I told was quite impressed, and reacted as if I was about to compete in an Ironman. What in the world was I thinking? Race day came, and I had a grand total of about three hours of sleep due to nerves and excitement. I should have felt drained, but instead I felt pumped and ready. Signup and transition setup removed some of that excitement when I noticed that I was the only one riding a mountain bike, and a dinosaur at that (my brother had remarked that my bike had ABS, as the front wheel had a slight buckle that caused the bike to shudder when braking).

I set up my transition area and headed down to the water to check out the distance we would be swimming. I felt relieved, as it seemed shorter than I thought. Race time came and we proceeded to paddle out to the start. This is where the hilarity of the event (from my and my brother’s point of view) started, as we waded there chatting away, waiting for the "take your marks, get set, go" drill that all good pool swimmers go through. Instead, there was the sound of a siren and then 50 people all trying to beat the *$&% out of me. All I could think was, "What are you doing? SWIM!". I ended up letting the main group go in front, making my way to the outside of the group, and passing them by the halfway mark. I was really happy when I came out of the water in third place (behind my brother, no less). Then, making my way to transition, I caught up with him and proceeded to leisurely remove my cap and goggles and dry myself in the way you would if you had just climbed out of the water after a leisurely swim. My brother was doing the same when we realized that everyone else was flying into transition like a bunch of crazed lunatics escaping a mental asylum. My brother looked at me and said, "What the hell are we doing? Hurry up, you boofhead, let’s get going!" We ran out of transition quietly laughing and hoping that nobody saw the two newbies.

Remember earlier how I mentioned my bike was like a steam roller with pedals? By the time I hit the 2k mark it felt like the steam roller had become stuck in concrete. I had people zooming past me on their road bikes while up ahead my brother was secretly sabotaging the road with a self emptying kit bag (he had placed his sunglasses in there and was frantically trying to get them out when all of a sudden tire levers, patches, tubes of rubber cement, and god knows what else came tumbling out).

My colleague passed me at about 600mph yelling "Come on, chop, chop!" Easy for him to say on his $6 trillion carbon bike. I finally made it back to transition, but not before scaring the hell out of everyone as I came roaring and shuddering on my ABS-powered dinosaur, making squealing and screeching sounds as the brake pads dug in (funny how the local bike shop gave it a perfectly clean bill of health a week before). I staggered in and started to stagger on the 3k run, but all the while I told myself that I was on the last part. I sustained the same staggering speed the whole way and came in 28th, 3 behind my brother and 7 behind my colleague. I had never felt so alive. I felt I had achieved a monumental step.

Within 30 seconds of finishing I was already saying how much fun that really was (while my poor brother was busy emptying his stomach…I had told him to do a little exercise prior…). I could not believe that I had actually done it and survived. For the next two weeks I could not stop talking about it, and frankly, I have been hooked ever since. Times have since changed in the last eight or so months. I have now dropped to my goal weight and have actually started competing in different events. I recently completed the 14k City 2 Surf, and a couple of 5k fun runs.

I cannot wait for the warmer weather to arrive so I can try a longer event like a sprint or Olympic distance. I have even bought myself a brand new Giant Defy 1 and have retired the ABS steam roller for quieter, less strenuous work with the kids. The truth is that it feels great to be fit once more, to have friends and family remark how much weight I have lost, and to be able to run, ride, and actually outlast playing with my children. I also get a high from my colleagues and co-workers when I constantly get asked for my secret on losing weight and regaining fitness. My days are now spent on generally improving my overall fitness and training for that next tri.


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date: December 22, 2008