For years I said “I would do a triathlon--if it weren’t for the swim and the bike.” As a runner who has completed 5Ks, 10Ks, Half-Marathons, Marathons and multiple obstacle runs, I enjoyed endurance sports, but absolutely despised the bike, and have never been a good swimmer. The change began in July 2012, when my family went to watch a friend of ours race Ironman™ Lake Placid. We were going to support her as it was her first full-distance triathlon. We had a great time hanging out with the families of her teammates and watching some of the world’s best athletes compete. It was then when the tides began to turn…
Two months later my wife was competing in her first sprint distance triathlon, and we all travelled from our house to “The Shore” (Seaside, NJ) the day before the race. I did my usual and went for a run that afternoon along the beach, despite the 20+ mph winds (going south was great, heading back north SUCKED!). Later that day, we went to packet pick-up and found out that the swim was cancelled for the next day due to 10-foot swells. Good idea, since our good friend on Coast Guard reserve duty that weekend said 3 of his “rookies” threw up on the boat because the waves were so big…but I digress. The triathlon was now a 1 mile beach run, bike, and run again. I watched as Stancie and Lauren, completed the course, despite the high winds, and appeared to be having fun. I secretly wished I had raced too--mostly because there was no swim involved, and I like to run!
Several months later, Tri Everything was conceived…and how could I be involved with a triathlon company without ever having done a triathlon? So, after volunteering at the 2014 Ironman™ Lake Placid, I decided to go buy a bike and got a Cannondale road bike. For my first ride, Stancie and Lauren decided to take me out for a leisurely 30 mile ride. REALLY GIRLS?! Actually it was not that bad, and it turns out I can hold my own on the bike. I rode as often as possible with 2 kids and 2 full-time jobs. Talk about a crash course in balancing work, family, and training!
Six weeks later, there I was at the start line of my first triathlon, The DQ Treasure Island Sprint Triathlon, in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. With years of running, weeks of biking and 1 open water swim under my belt, I walked to the start line. I’m in the 3rd of 5 waves (if I remember correctly), and the Race Director (who is now my Tri coach) sounds the horn and we are off. I had read somewhere to stay to the outside to prevent being assaulted during the start, so I chose the right side – closest to shore, in case I needed to be rescued. The first 100m went well, then the wheels fell off the bus! I began hyperventilating, and couldn’t catch my breath. So here I am wondering if the business is about to get an infusion of cash because my wife is collecting my life insurance! I roll to my back and complete the final 300m doing the backstroke. But I finished! With the hardest part done, I could now concentrate on bike and run, which I finished without incident.
Lauren greeted me at the finish line, and I said something to the effect of, “That sucked! Why would I do that again?” She offered words of encouragement (“Beers and tacos for lunch?”) while I recovered and waited for Stancie to finish, as she was in a later wave. Stancie finished and then it was time to get our daughter ready for her first kids’ triathlon. After she left T1, we head back to the timing table, where Lauren proceeded to tell me that I finished 19th out of 193 racers…I was so shocked that when we got home, I signed up for my first Ironman™ 70.3 in Raleigh, NC in May 2015! I guess I better work on my swim. Wish me luck!
As an aside, one of the DQ Events timers found me after the race because he thought there was a discrepancy in my times. The conversation went like this:
Timer: “Dude, we think there was a problem with your chip.”
Timer: “Because your swim registered at 13 minutes, and everyone else in the Top 20 was around 7-8 minutes.”
Me: “No discrepancy. I backstroked the last 300m. This was my second open water swim ever.”