My triathlon season has been over for a few weeks now and I have neglected finding time to look back and review the season. This is largely due to the increase in running and weights, as my running season is not over yet. Basically it boils down to the hard truth that I just do not want to admit that my triathlon race season is over. I knew eventually I would have to pull out the spreadsheet, look at the number and honestly begin to access my first year as a triathlete. I figure of course this would be a great place to start with how it all began , with following posts focusing on specific aspects of the season such as swimming, biking, running, nutrition and everything else I can think to cover here. I have allot of data and I have achieved much this year so this will take time.
An Unlikely Athlete
As most of my long term readers already know this entire adventure started last year in April after a very bad visit to the doctors office. At that time I was 320 pounds, a recovering smoker and I could not walk to the curb without feeling winded. I was in bad shape. I had never been athletic and never even thought I could be an athlete in any way, be it a triathlete or even a runner. My life was defined by the television, video games and anything that did not require exertion. I was not an athlete, I was not meant to be an athlete I often repeated. That was my belief til last year when luckily I got introduced to the couch to 5k running program (My take on it here) and the seed of belief in myself was planted. As I started the program, a program that is supposed to take you from couch potato to a 5k, the idea crept into my head that I could actually run a 5k, I began to believe I could achieve physical fitness.
But I found quickly, within two weeks on the program it was not going to be easy. I suffered bursitis in my knee and had an inflamed IT band from running on treadmills without any balance. I was ordered into the pool for my running workouts for at least a month. I did not realize it at the time, but this would change the course of everything. While running in the pool I began to watch the swimmers in the lanes next to me. I noticed that several of them wore triathlon themed caps and their swimming was very smooth and graceful. I began to chat with some of the triathletes and within a few days I decided the 5k running goal was not big enough, that goal should be realized by the end of the year. It was at that moment I decided I would complete a running race and by the following summer I would complete my first triathlon.
My Road To Triathlon
I did not realize it then, but my goals would change again as I researched and digested everything triathlon. While I had to run in the pool and still suffered performing any form of exertion, I decided I wanted to have a go at doing a triathlon. Eventually this morphed into a bigger goal of being USAT (the governing body most triathletes belong to) ranked after my first season. This meant I had to train to complete at least three triathlons, not just one.
Goal in hand I began to work to get my conditioning to a normal starting level. I knew I would have allot of work to complete just to get to a point where I could train for a triathlon. I had to be able to run a 5k, bike at least 12 miles and swim at least 400 meters. At that point in May/July I could only run a minute and that felt like it put me on the verge of cardiac arrest. I also knew nothing about training for a triathlon or what it was going to take. Fortunately my research lead me to Friel‘s Triathlon Training Bible. With its aid I began to understand where I needed to be to start a triathlon training regiment. While learning about triathlon I spent the summer and fall focusing my time on loosing weight and working my way to where I could run a 5k distance. At that point I ignored the bike, as I was uncertain how I was going to handle the expense. I slowly began to add swimming to the mix as summer gave way to fall.
Over the summer my running improved and I slowly started to run longer. To this day I still remember the first time I ran twenty minutes without stopping. It was slow, but so monumental. I continued to push on and at the time I thought a 5k would probably be the farthest I would ever run, it was so huge and insurmountable in those days. As the fall season pushed summer away I began to feel ready to run my first 5k. I chose a race and ran that first event in roughly 45 minutes(Details). I was elated at being able to finish and felt a rush of joy at knowing I had achieved one of my pre-triathlon goals.
While running was my base back then, I began to slowly merge swimming into my schedule. The first time I got into the pool and tried a lap I felt a spirit of doom. I could barely finish a lap or two, how the heck was I going to swim 400 meters when I could barely swim a lap. I immediately went to the internet and began to learn about triathlon swimming and set forth to relearn how to swim. In time and with allot of work I progressed to where I could complete a 500 meter struggle in the pool
At the end of September, heading into October, I knew I was ready to move my training from preparation to full on triathlon training. By this point I had achieved one goal I set, completing a 5k running race and I knew I still had larger more ambitious goals to still complete. My health was getting better, but I still felt exhausted after every workout. My swim and run were improving, yet I still had to tackle the bike. I knew heading into triathlon training mode would be challenging and difficult compared to the previous months. I had faith my preparations would provide a solid base. Of course the story was just starting…
Next post I will detail the triathlon phase of my training year to my first triathlon and beyond. From there additional articles will focus on specifics and will provide further reflection on the year. Til next time.
- Review of The First Half Of My First Triathlon Season (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)
- 2012-2013 Long Term Goals Revisited (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)
- The Second Half: Looking Ahead (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)