getting ready for a triathlon

Hartsville International Distance Tri 2009

Jonathan, myself and Gene
Jonathan, myself and Gene

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What is a triathlon and what is my experience?

A triathlon is a race with three different events.

Iron Man

The most popular triathlon is an iron man and it consists of 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking and then a marathon, which is 26.2 miles.

So, if you ever see a bumper sticker on a vehicle with the number 140.6, it's not a radio station, as my wife first thought. (8^> 140.6 represents the number of miles in an iron man competition. The owner of that vehicle is a maniac. They have set their sites on a goal that few will ever even attempt. And they have the endurance required to put in the months and months of training.

An iron man or iron person, there are plenty of women who have competed as well, takes a person with a whole lot of dedication, determination and especially a whole lot of heart.

I have a good friend named Ricky who is competing in his third iron man this weekend (Sunday November 22) in Arizona. We call him the Tasmanian Devil because he is crazy about his endurance sports.

Other triathlons

There are plenty of other triathlons to choose from and they are more my distance. (8^>

A sprint is short distance tri designed for faster speeds. I've done three of these, two at James Island, near Charleston (500 meter swim in a pond, 13 mile bike and a 5k run (3.1 miles).

Sprints are great for beginners, though I assure you when I did these two, I was not sprinting. During my first sprint, my wife and some of her friends competed as well.

The other sprint I have done is the Wilmington tri in Wilmington, NC. The swim is in the inter coastal  waterway and it is 1500 meters, though the current can help you. I spent a bit of time fighting the current because I ventured too far to the right. (8^0 The bike and run were the same as James Island.

Then there's an international distance tri. These are considered to be 1/4th of an iron man. Two buddies and I (Jonathan and Gene) completed in one of these in Hartsville, SC this past September. The swim was 1500 meters, the bike was 26 miles and the run was 6.2 miles. We all finished and since there were only 3 competitors in my age group (50-54), I came in third place and landed a basket of peaches. (8^>

The next level is a half iron man. There is one of these in Wilmington,NC in November of 2010. It's called Beach to Battleship. This is the one my buddies and I have our eye on for next year. (8^o

Wilmington Triathlon 2007

The comaraderie and accountbility of training together

The most rewarding part, aside from actually finishing a triathlon, is training together with friends. As you can see from the photo on the right, several of us experienced the event together, including the months of training before hand.

Most Saturdays during the late spring and summer of 2007 we were biking, running and swimming together in Lake Murray. During most of those Saturdays, if not all, I would probably have come up with some excuse not to train. However, when you've invited guys to come to your house at 7:30 or 8:00 am, you have to show up. (8^>

For me, this is the key to exercise. I am all the time inviting my friends to a run, a swim or a bike ride so that together we can hold each other accountable. And it works. We often admit our temptation to cancel a training event because it's too cold, too wet, too early, too late, too... However, the camaraderie of the shared experience, even if it's hard, keeps us going.

For be the stakes of excercise are high

In 2002, I found out I have diabetes. Before then, my exercise was confined to occasional basketball or racquetball games.

But now, I must exercise. The whole reason I started doing triathlons, half marathons or long bike rides was to stay active and keep my blood sugar levels down. With proper diet, exercise and medication, I can live a normal life. However, if I don't stay active, my blood sugar levels begin to rise.

 So, for me, signing up for an event like a triathlon, is essential to keeping me training. I don't want to show up for an even and not have prepared. 

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