Sunday, October 9, 2011

Do-what? Oh, a Duathlon

I had never thought of attempting - and hopefully finishing - a triathlon before, but had been exposed to the sport by the head of my company (also South Florida is home to a tremendous triathlete community).  Despite being the head of an internationally known planning firm, and a jet-setting road warrior, my boss had managed to become not only a triathlete, but an Ironman.

Now that I was regularly running and biking, my first thoughts of multi-sport events started to creep in.  There was just one problem: I couldn't swim.  I don't mean that I wasn't good at swimming; I mean I simply did not know how, and couldn't swim from one side of the pool to the other (25m).  Sure, I'd spent time in the pool (never the deep end) or at the beach as a kid, but it was usually just goofing around rather than swimming.

I remember one particular swimming snafu.  At the age of about 9, at a Long Island summer day camp (Camp Coleman, if you care), I signed up for water polo as one of my free time activities.  Sounds fun, right?  It was fun - in theory - until I showed up at the pool and found out what the heck water polo was.  They actually wanted me to leave the shallow section (problem #1), and stay above the water using mostly my legs (problem #2).  Needless to say, I didn't last very long in water polo.

Back to my story:  It was then that I heard of an event called a Duathlon: it consisted of only running and biking.  That sounds more like it, I can do that.  Instead of swimming first, duathletes do an additional run leg before the bike, and then proceed as normal; the result is a run-bike-run.  I found an event nearby on Key Biscayne and the Duathlon Trilogy #4 on September 19, 2010 was my first multi-sport endeavor.

On the climb up the William Powell Bridge

I trained hard (or what I thought was hard at the time) for the duathlon, but in a very unstructured way and almost exclusively alone.  As the race neared I felt reasonably good about being able to complete the event, which was really my only goal.  Prior to the race I soaked up as much information as I could about multi-sport events.  What is a transition anyway?  Forums and help articles on Beginner Triathlete became my best friend and gave me the confidence I'needed to complete my first event.

I could hardly sleep the night before the race - something I'm still working on as I get deeper into my triathlon career.  The combination of nervousness, anticipation, and excitement seem to overload my thinking and I find it hard to shut my brain down.
p.s.  I've since begun using guided meditations and highly recommended the iPhone App:  Relax and Sleep Well by Glenn Harrold.

On race day I was excited to see a couple of familiar faces and the casual banter helped put me at ease; my wife's smiling face - complete with homemade sign - before the starting gun didn't hurt either!

The sign held up by my cheering squad, aka: my Wife

Despite making my way slowly through the 1 mile run, 10 mile bike, and 3.1 mile run, I had an incredible experience at the race.  The camaraderie of the event was enveloping and the cheering of both my wife and boss (who surprised me by showing up at the event - and snapped this great photo) helped carry me through the finish line.  The rush of competing (not with anyone in particular), and accomplishing something I didn't think I could, hooked me on the spot.  As soon as I finished the race I knew it was time to learn to swim.
Here's my proof!


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