My Upcoming Sprint Triathlon

My Upcoming Sprint Triathlon

For my 40th year I wanted to choose one last athletic endeavor before my body began that inevitable decline that’s caused by time. To quote John Glenn, “there is still no cure for the common birthday.” So far as an adult I’ve played in recreational leagues centered on basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball, and golf. For my next attempt, I laid out three brand new options but couldn’t decide on which one to pursue until about a month ago.

The first idea I had was Brazilian jujitsu. Although I have heard it is very rewarding, I wasn’t convinced that another gym commitment or the possibility of being afflicted with cauliflower ear was doable. I’m not saying no, I’m just going to table this one for now.

The second idea I had was long boarding, something I actually like watching other people do because it looks so relaxing (I’m not talking about the extreme downhill guys). There was a point when I had daytime access to a paved path where I could hone my skills but I can’t get to it conveniently enough anymore. More importantly the wife doesn’t seem too happy with the thought of me coming home with a broken collarbone, so I’m going to cross this off the list. Maybe next time.

The third idea was to compete in some kind of race, whether it be a foot race or biking event. This seems really popular with people in my age group, although I think the Spartan/Tough Mudder popularity might have petered out. However, for whatever reason I’ve always imagined myself as an ultra distance athlete although in reality I am far from it. Whenever the Tour De France or the Iron Man comes on TV I watch from beginning to end and wonder what it would be like to compete with those athletes. There’s something there that interests me but how to engage?

Then came an opportunity a few weeks ago to compete in a sprint triathlon. My employer, St Elizabeth Healthcare, is sponsoring a race this summer and was giving away a free sponsorship. So far I have a new pair of running shoes and a training plan, although by most accounts I am really behind the eight ball for the event. I have access to a pool and a nice bicycle too, so it’s more of whether or not I can get in shape during the lead up to it, which is less than 90 days away.

Luckily a sprint triathlon is significantly less extreme than either an Iron Man or Olympic event. The swim, bike, and running sessions I can do individually now, but I don’t know about stringing all of them together in the same day. My training plan also takes me up to the day of the event, whereas most others would hit their ideal fitness level months in advance and will cruise into the competition. I have also had to design an entire diet makeover, which took a lot of research into finding one that worked well for people like me. I now eat a more plant based, whole grain diet with lean proteins added every other day to help maintain muscle development. I have ditched white carbs like sugar, white bread, pastas, and a lot of dairy and fried items. This has gone a long way into helping shed weight and protecting my joints from inflammation, but it’s still slow going.

Overall my training plan has included reducing the risk of injury. I cannot take extended time off so I’ve been doing a lot of low impact cardio. Right now my plan includes 240 minutes a week of it broken into 8 sections, which includes swim time, and then an extended bike riding session on the weekend. So far so good, I am definitely much stronger and my clothes fit better, but I’m probably going to run this race 50 pounds heavier than most other people in it.

I hope I know what I’m doing. I’m already seeing that I can’t horse my way through it, that I’ll have to refine my swimming technique if I want to make it through the event. I also have to think through transitioning, although I’ve written off purchasing a tri-suit or any other special equipment than my swim goggles. So far so good, but the window between it, and the end of my thirties in general, is drawing close.