From Running to Triathlons

As I was saying in my previous post, things snowballed quickly and the running thing really took off in my house.  My wife JL and I were eating better (thank you, JL, for seeing that we were indeed in need of a dietary makeover) and we both benefited from losing a lot of extra weight.  We thrived, and still do, with this new active lifestyle.

I became totally engrossed with running.  I still am.  I love to run.  It's what gets me out of bed in the morning (well, the coffee maker actually does that).  It gives me energy, and makes me feel great.  Running the trails with my good friends Tom, Mark, and Matt is always a highlight of any given weekend.

The club that JL and I joined - the Sound Shore Running and Multisport Club has a regular Saturday club run that we used to attend on a religious basis.  On one particular Saturday, 5 or 6 years ago, a few of us were chatting it up, talking about what we did - in regards to athletics - back in the day.  At some point the conversation came around to me and I mentioned that I swam through high school and into college.  Someone then immediately asked: "Do you own a bike?"  I didn't, and their immediate response was:  Why not?  I can't recall who it was that said this, but the conversation flowed into how I would have two of the three legs of a triathlon down pretty well, there were numerous cyclists that belong to the club to help get me started, and maybe it was maybe worth thinking about.

A little time went by, and JL and I were out to lunch on some random Saturday.  At that time we had actually been toying with the idea of buying a couple of kayaks, as a friend of ours had recently taken us out into Long Island Sound and we had really enjoyed it.  We thought that it would be an interesting way to continue to be active and to be outdoors.  I then mentioned the discussion that took place on my run the previous week, and our conversation soon turned to focus on bikes and triathlons.

Well, 2 glasses of wine later we were at a bike shop near our town browsing and asking questions.  After an endless litany of questions, and a few test rides, and we had purchased road bikes, shoes, helmets, shorts, gloves, and were heading home.

Yes, we're big fans of immediate gratification.

I fell in love with cycling.  I loved the speed, I loved being outdoors, and this was opening up new doors for for both of us.  We started to ride with the cycling group within the club on a regular basis.  I had thought I was pretty fit, but I was struggling to keep up with these guys.  They pushed me, and drove me to get stronger on the bike.  More importantly, they taught me the in's and out's of road cycling. 

Soon after, we signed up for our first triathlon.  That was the whole point of this exercise anyway.  It was coming up at the end of the summer - a sprint triathlon - and a few folks from the club regularly raced it.  I borrowed some clip-on aero bars for my road bike and started to get used to them.  JL and I went to another local sprint tri a few weeks before-hand to look at the transition area and to see how everything goes down on race day.  Yes, we're a bit OCD.

Long story short, race day came, and it was awesome.  I finished in the middle of the pack but had an absolute blast.  I was hooked.  It didn't take long for the type-A personality to set in, however. The next season I was determined to run the same race faster than before.  They hold multiple triathlons on this course throughout the spring and summer, and low and behold I came in 3rd in my age-group in the June early season race.  Well, that sealed the deal.  I started working harder, started getting more AG podium finishes, started doing Olympic distance tri's.....  Yeah, I had the bug, and bad.

And it helped that my wife was hooked as well.  Weekends were soon devoted to long runs and rides.  And there was no guilt from either party when the other headed out for 2+ hours on a Saturday or Sunday morning.  This was really working out well.

Soon, my wife (very smartly) suggested that I start training with the Westchester Triathon Club.  Our friend Rich heads it up, and he had been inviting me to join them for their Saturday rides and Sunday runs for quite some time.  I finally joined them on a Saturday morning group long ride and promptly had my ass handed to me.  These guys (and girls) were tough.  But, over time, I became stronger and faster.  My endurance improved.  I was training with some big-dogs (this past year alone, 4 folks from the club qualified for Kona) and it was paying off.  I never dreamed that I'd be regularly getting age-group podium finishes and placing in the top 10 overall at competitive tri-state races.  But it's amazing what happens when you train with people that are stronger, faster, and just plain better than you.  You raise your game up a notch.

Well, just like with running, this too snowballed into a completely engrossing endeavor.  My road bike (well, my upgraded road bike) is still in the basement, right next to JL's upgraded roadie and my Time Trial rig for racing.  We now do more laundry that contains racing and workout gear than we do regular clothes.  We joke on the weekends that we not only do our regular grocery shopping, but we now hit our favorite running and triathlon store, Westchester Road Runner, for gels, bars, drink mixes and supplements - we call it our 'real' grocery shopping for the week.

The triathlon community is great.  The people that I met are wonderful and all just as addicted to a healthy lifestyle, being fit, and racing hard.

So here I am:  My leg up on pillows (still), my ankle in a cast, waiting to get back out there.  I realize I have a lot of physical therapy to do before I'm back on the roads, but I really miss training and am going to miss racing the early season races I had on the calendar even more.

As my wife says: Have patience.