Friday, June 20, 2008

So I got this YMCA membership in January, because hey, January is long and dark. And I swam a couple times and it was nice. Also, the wellness centre at work started a triathlon program and an application drifted across my desk, so I signed it because I didn't have to pay (well, it came out of my paycheck). Something to do at "the Y."

Anyway, before you could say "omega 3 ratio", I was tumbling headlong into the epic: tracking nutrition, trying to keep up to my workout log, purchasing all things spandex. There were swimming groups, running groups, spinning groups, schedules, blisters, and seminar after seminar on how to eat, sleep, train, and time bowel movements. I kid you not. It was incredible! For almost five months people had to avoid me in elevators or I would wax rhapsodic about Cliff bars and brick workouts, bike frames and power gels, tall tales and true facts about how at Ironman they have volunteers to take off your wetsuit (you peel halfway and lie down before T1) and slap you with sunscreen (four volunteers, eight buckets, and one speedy Coppertone gauntlet).

It was surreal, but at the same time, going through this with 35-odd other co-workers ranging from "can't-swim-a-lap" to "I-eat-miles-for-breakfast... -and-dessert" gave it a strange sort of logic. We trained together, learned together, and tried to set reasonable personal goals without letting anyone beat you out of the changeroom. Before long, project deadlines and work problems would do their swirling dance and yet hold no power over me--"Which bike should I get?" and "How can I improve my power transfer?" floating through my head.

I don't know what all aligned to bring me to the finish line after a 2km swim, 55km bike, and 15km run through the hills of Huntsville, Ontario, but it was worth it. Wolfgang and Nicole Guembel, two professional triathletes hired by the University Health Network to aid in the triathlon program (who do this for a living!?), certainly played a large part. With a honed training schedule, and everything sneakily written in time increments (run 30 minutes! swim 45 minutes! bike three hours then run for one!), it was exhilirating to find yourself finishing a run, checking the map, and realizing you'd just run 10 miles. Not that it wasn't tough at times, but with a bit of consistency and incremental gain, the human machine adapts pretty fast. Very cool.

Anyway, catch me in an elevator sometime, otherwise I could go on much longer. But out of left field I'm technically a triathlete, with two races down and maybe more in my future. I highly recommend it.

June 1: Milton Sprint (750m swim/30km bike/7.5km run)

My ride!

Transition area

The final km

June 15: Muskoka Long (2km swim/55km bike/15km run)

Warm up

Hard right

Hard evidence

Full set over on Flickr.