I read Slow Fat Triathlete, by Jayne Williams, and found it very inspirational. My favorite quote from the book is right off the back cover:
Triathlon and endurance sports are not just for the skinny, the fast and the young. They’re for you. You’re not too slow, fat, old or klutzy. You’re just fine. Start today.
Here is a link to her site
(Thanks for the great book Jayne)
I have already done a triathlon, I did it with a friend that was fit.
Here is the story of my memorable day:
The first thing I remember is being stupid enough to not use a wetsuit or goggles. My buddy and I were the only ones. It is tough to swim hard in cold water. My time was expected to be about 15 minutes based on my training calculations and a percent adder based on open water, cold, and other people in the way. The cold was my huge factor though and it took me over 20 minutes and I was close to numb.
The second thing we did wrong was work our way out to the front of the group before the start. Probably fine for my friend but for me, yikes. The beginning of a triathlon is a mad frenzy of arms thrashing and legs kicking trying to get separation to have you own little bit of room. I did not know this at the time. The competitor in me wanted the best spot to start; the idiot in me let him. Everyone had to pass me. I was choking, kicking, sputtering, and without goggles it was hard to tell what was going on. Finally, the mad thrashing subsided and I was about a third of the way to the first buoy I took a quick peek behind me to see where I was in the mix. To my horror there was no one behind me.
So I turned back around and set my sights on some old guy to pass. He looked like he was pretty tired already and I just had to pass someone. They had people out in the water in canoes to help and they were positioned near the first buoy. I made a point to catch the swimmer ahead of me, there were only 3 or 4 that were lagging and these were my only shot. I swam hard and just before the buoy I passed the guy, my small goal of not being last was now fulfilled. Until that is the guy started calling for help from the canoe. He was out of the race which put me back in last place. Ugh.
I never did catch anyone else, it was just too cold. The course was a triangle and just after I passed the second buoy and headed back to shore the women’s starting gun sounded. The thrashing began and the fastest swimmers were in the hunt to pass me before I hit shore. This renewed my attempt at swimming fast. Not that a girl would catch me after a 10 minute head start, but that anyone could. In fact, the first 4 passed me before I got out of the water. I was a cold, tight-muscled and bluish-tinted hobbling blob headed for the bike transition. All thoughts or cares about a quick turn around time were long gone.
The sprint distance triathlon is, at least in the Northwest, usually a mountain biking event. I guess the planner can’t think of any reason to do a short course other than because it would be difficult to find a mountain that was 30 miles high and just following a bunch of paths in loops would be too easy to cheat. So I got on the bike and headed for 6 miles up a giant hill that not only wouldn’t quit, but eventually got off onto some trails that my now sore and tired muscles could hardly handle. I don’t really know how it happened but I was on my way up the hill before the trails and finally found someone in my sights to pass. It was a woman, so technically she was 10 minutes ahead and had already passed me earlier probably during my slow transition, but that is not the point. The point was to pass her. So I did.
Once I was on the top of the mountain I really didn’t know the course, so I was just riding around on a dirt trail trying not to get flipped off the bike. The whole trail had this upward slant to it, so I was relatively certain I was not halfway yet. Half way is of special importance because that is the point where I could coast back to the start. I finally hit a set of humps that were as tall as the bike and got stuck on one and just got off and started pushing. At this point the girl passed me and to my surprise gave me some words of encouragement. I can only say one thing to her for that, “thanks.” I reached the top about 10 yards after the course had me defeated and started coasting renewing my spirit.
The run was the hardest part for me. It was more of a jog/walk. I will say that when there is a throng of people by the side of the road cheering you on it is very easy to keep running even if your body is telling you to quickly find the closest couch and lay down. Too bad they don’t line the whole course.