When I attended the orientation for “ Raise the Bar”” they asked why do you want to do a triathlon. My answer was I can't run, bike or swim so why not.
Run – I never liked just running so the last time I ran was back in college.
Swim – I didn’t know how to swim.
Bike – The last time I rode a bike was a stingray back in junior high.
That was the short answer but the real answer was that I was 50+ years old, had been working thirty years at a desk job, with too much overtime, to support a family and was real close to and fast approaching 400 pounds. I finally decided it was time to do something for myself to get healthy so I had lap band surgery, since the medically supervised diets didn’t work, my wife and I joined a gym, got a trainer, John MacIntyre, and started working out regularly and I lost 100lbs. Luckily I had a good a trainer and after he had been working with me for a while he asked what I was training for? The real question he was asking was what goal did I have, that was big enough to keep me training, getting healthy and off the couch. He suggested maybe doing a triathlon. That's when I knew he really was crazy!
At this point several things happened. I don't know how but my wife and John somehow convinced me to join those insane masochists and take a spin class at the gym. How I didn't die of a heart attack during that first class I don't know. And what happened to the times when I could effortlessly stand all day on a stingray bike during my childhood? When now, with Just 10 seconds of standing, I was done. John then persuaded me to go on a road bike ride with him so I needed a bike. At this same time I heard a little bike shop called Northwest Tri and Bike was opening just down the street and since I have always liked supporting local businesses, I went to check it out. There I meet Brad and Patty. I didn’t end up buying a bike there this time, but things were set in motion. The questions and stupid statements I made then still make me shudder because at that time I still thought that triathletes were just this side of total loonies. But Brad and Patty were very patient and slowly educated and encouraged me in their subtle (or maybe not so subtle) way.
So the first year, my wife joined “Raise the Bar” and did several Tri’s. While she was training and racing I would go and watch. During this time I started to meeting and talking with the people of “ Raise the Bar”. Slowly I realized most were not crazy and I enjoyed being around the people I was getting to know.
So, to try and keep up with my wife, I joined “Raise the Bar” that winter. Now I should have known then I was getting into something crazy when none of the clothing for triathlons came in my size. To get started I signed up for the team swim classes to learn to swim. I am slow but have spent enough time in the pool now that I am starting to recognize more things to work on. But in order to participate in a triathlon, I had to face an entirely different beast, the open water swim. This training was very important for my marriage since my wife was scared to death that I would drown out in the lake. But thanks to the training classes my wife can relax, focus on her training and not worry about me drowning anymore. I have to say though that at my size, I probably required more training on just getting into the wetsuit than anything else. This continues to be a battle I am not sure I can win without help.
So I had finally learned to swim, bike and run well enough to do my first two Tri’s. Once I exited the water on my own I already felt like I had won, but I went ahead and finished the bike and run anyway since I was there. As we all know just finishing those first races is incredible.
I will never be at the front of the pack but as long as I am improving and getting stronger I am happy. Which brings me back to what my trainer asked about what goals will keep me off the couch and getting healthier and they fit in this way.
· As much as I hate going to swim training I love it when I finish.
Goal – I really want to get better and faster. Maybe swim in lane five someday. I know, crazy, but a Goal.
· As far as the bike.
Goal – Getting stronger to someday keep up with the pack on the hill climbs.
· My doctors really don't want me running until I lose another 40 lbs because of my knees so I have to stick to shorter distances. Two Goals – Lose weight and run.
· Goal – Stay on the team. I like the people.
· Goal – Maintain/improve my health. Be healthier at whatever weight I am.
I guess my trainer was right about finding some goals big enough to keep me off the couch.
If you ask me I will still tell you I don't know how to run, bike or swim but I am getting better.
Raise the Bar
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