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Most of you that regularly read me know that I've been on a weight loss journey.  Since November of 2009 I've lost about 300 pounds (I weighed in at 600).  

As far as my weight loss is going, I've been fighting with the same ten pounds for about a year.  I've been fluctuating between 300 and 310.  Part of that has to do with some food choices I've made--I haven't been as disciplined as I need to be.  But lately, part of it involves increasing muscle mass.

You see,earlier this spring I decided to enter a triathlon.

Yeah, you heard me right.  A triathlon.  Of course, that was always one of my longer term goals, but so soon?  Here's the logic on that decision:

First of all, the triathlon would be a sprint triathlon--that means approximately a half mile swim, an approximate 20K bike ride, and a 5K at the end. As far as where I was training wise, I did Bike the Drive (a 30 mile ride up and down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago) last year, so I was pretty confident I could do the biking portion.  And as far as swimming goes, I swim very well.  Very slowly (The big boats always go slower), but very well.

All I needed to do was learn how to run a 5K.

I'm not going to go into all that I did while training, but suffice it to say that a couple of weeks ago (Memorial Day weekend) I ran my first 5K, finishing in just under 45 minutes.

I will say, that a funny thing happened while I was in the last couple of weeks and doing bricks (a full bike ride and a full run).  I found that I could do a slow jog--not much faster (if at all) than my walking speed--for a much longer time than if I were to do my usual training method--run at a nice pace for a while, then walk and recover.  However, I would do that slow jog about 5 or so minutes slower than the training way.  So I had a choice to make come race day.

So.  I had first thought of doing the Valparaiso triathlon in mid-July, but the dates seemed like they would conflict with my trip to Arkansas to see my brother.  So I decided to do the Grand Rapids triathlon.  It was earlier (in June), but the location meant I could crash at my brother's house instead of get a hotel room.

Looking at the times from last year, I noticed that the last times were in the two and a half hour range.  So that was my goal.  I figured if I did my swim in about a half hour, my bike ride in about an hour, and my run in close to 45 minutes, I was good to go.  So I had a time goal.

On to Race Day!

I stopped at the expo the day before to pick up my packet.  I learned I was assigned the number:


I knew it would be a good day.

So here I am before the race.  We had just gotten out of the car and were ready to go to transition to set up.


Now, remember that this is early June.  Last year, they reported the water temperature as in the low 70s.  They did have wetsuits available for rent.  My sister, who ran the race with me, said I wouldn't need a wetsuit.  She also said that I shouldn't get one, especially if I were renting.  "Nothing new on Race Day".  

So we get to transition.  It's a LONG way away from the water.  And it's a long narrow area--it's a side street.  I rack up my bike and set up for transition.  

I'm going in Wave Eight--the last male wave of the sprint--the old and fat men.  I registered as a "Clydesdale" as swimming with the older (50+) men would be a bit easier and less "grabby".  The Half-Iron people went first.  

Open the link in a new window and follow my race.

Swim Course Map

So I get in the water to begin the race.  It's COLD.  Not freaking cold, just cold.  Like high 60s low 70s cold.  As I'm swimming, it stays cold and I can't get my breath enough to put my head fully in the water and swim like I'm in the pool.  But I'm churning along.  Then I start getting passed by the woman sprinters.  I finish the swim at about 23 minutes.  Not bad.  About what I do in the pool.  

As this is my first transition, I have some of the slowest times.  Also, did I mention it's a long way from the water?  And uphill?  Also, it's a LONG way out with my bike. As you can see from the course maps, transition is on Buttrick Avenue.

The bike course basically follows either side of the highway.

So I'm on my bike.  It's a very pleasant ride, with lots of shade.  There isn't too much wind, and the hills are moderate. I think I'm making decent time, but it turns out I'm only averaging about 12mph.  Pretty "meh", in my opinion, but then again, that seems to be pretty normal for me.  Three quarters of the way through, I'm beginning to think I should have seen the turn back into transition already, thinking I've been going faster than I have been.  Oh well.  I finish in just about an hour.  I did a training run in around 50 minutes, so I was a bit disappointed.  

Anyway, on to transition for the run!  

Now, as this was my first triathlon, I had some of the slowest transition times, as you can see from the link I posted.

Here's the course.  It basically runs down either side of the street.

So I head out onto the run course.  There were a lot of people doing cheering for the runners coming out of transition and I felt a little self conscious.  But happy.  So I'm going at my slow plodding jog--the one that's not much faster than my walking pace, if at all--and I'm not feeling up to doing the run faster for a block or so then walk.  But I do stop and walk a little bit (not a lot) occasionally.  Especially for the couple of spots that went uphill.  

So, I'm plodding along.  It's a good thing I decided to wear a running visor, because it's getting hot.  Like 90 degree hot.  During a walk break or two, I'm asked if I'm all right.  My response is "I'm good".  So anyway, I make my turnaround and am starting homeward, when I see my sister (remember I said she was running the sprint with me) coming out of that little jog in the course map heading for her turnaround.  We give each other a high five as we pass.  Now, she started the swim two waves later than I did.  That's like 10 minutes or so.  She also had to hold on to a kayak for a minute.  She finished the swim with a time of about 29 minutes.  So she headed into the first transition about 15-20 minutes behind me.  I tell you this, because at about 3.5K through the race, she smokes me.  Here she is crossing the finish line 15 minutes ahead of me:


Now, what I didn't know at the time was that after she finished, she started working the crowd to get them to really cheer for me as I came in.  And they did.  Loudly.  I ran ( I picked up the pace a bit for the finish.  I think) into the finish and got my medal, a bottle of water, and a wet towel on the back of my neck.  I finished the run in about 52 minutes, for a pace of 17 minutes a mile.  Slightly faster than walking.  
One of the neat things about the triathlon was that every person who finished got their name announced over the PA system.  So I came in to the finish to a very loud ovation and my name being announced.  Here I am just after crossing the line, and getting my medal, some water, and my chip removed

Just finished

And it turns out I MADE MY TIME!!  I finished in two hours, twenty nine minutes, and some change.  So while I finished LAST among male sprinters (I don't count a Some Dude they couldn't identify and a guy who got DQed) I finished within the time I had set for myself.

So here I am shortly after, just hanging around, looking at runners coming out of transition:

Hangin around

And finally, here I am just before leaving for the afternoon.


Now, as for one of those big conclusions where I spout aphorisms and platitudes and paeans about goal setting and work and all that, I got nothing.  I just decided I was going to do it, and I did.  And yes, I constantly said "what the fuck am I doing".   Most often during my workouts at the Y when I was running/walking around the track.  But the easy part is done.  I wanted to do something, and I took the steps needed to do it.  Now comes the hard part.  Going to the Y and working out TOMORROW.  

When I don't have a reason to.

Originally posted to zenbassoon on Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 10:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by Weight Loss Kos, Friends of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, J Town, and Personal Storytellers.

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