About a week or two before the Disney Marathon, I was at an uncle's house during one of our (many, many) Christmas season family parties. My cousin Carlos sits by me and the following conversation ensues:
Carlos: So, you're ready for the marathon?
Me: I hope so. Otherwise this will be a very expensive fiasco. I'm very nervous.
Carlos: You got this! You sure trained for it. You'll rise to the challenge.
Me: We'll see.
Carlos: In fact, I got another one for you.
Carlos: Yup. How's this: For our 40th birthday, we do the Ironman in Hawaii! Three years to train. What do you think?
Me: I think there is no chance in hell. How about we aim for Ironman 70.3 San Juan? It's right in our backyard and it's half the distance of an Ironman.
Carlos: Why not?! You worked your way up to a marathon. Why not an Ironman?
Me: It has nothing to do with thinking you can, genius. Though the jury is still out on the marathon. The Ironman in Kona is like, the World Championship. To race it you have to qualify for it. There is also a lottery but to qualify for that you got to do like a thousand Ironmans in other places first (actually you have to do 12, but it might as well be a million for us) so again, I don't think we got a chance.
And with that he got up and left, checking on his phone that everything I just told him was true. I had too much in my head at that moment to give the idea much though, but Carlos did nurture a little seed that was planted a while back.
Not long after starting my running journey I learned about two former contestants of The Biggest Loser who had actually done the Ironman in Kona. Matt Hoover, who sadly fell short of the 17 hour time limit by a couple of minutes and thus, didn't officially finish; and Tara Costa, one of my favorite contestants, who did manage to complete it. Their story compelled me enough to actually look up information on this crazy sport of triathlon and the Ironman. (hence, my knowledge on the subject during the above conversation.)
I was immediately struck by it. It is a very technical sport that requires a lot of planning and strategy which is what I love so much about running longer distances. Also, I thought this was a great way to become a better runner overall. After all, both cycling and swimming are cardio execises without the high impact of running so what better way to increase my training volume? All that motivation however, went the way of the Dodo bird when I started visiting local bike shops and seeing just how much these incredible pieces of modern technology cost. Very expensive plus you got to buy some extra gear (pedals, shoes, clothing etc...). So, for my own good I left it at that.
Then, I ran the marathon and I felt that the sky was the limit. Coming back from Florida, Carlos' words were starting to ring strong in my ears. Not long after that, as the wife and I were getting ready for bed one night, I was lazily flipping channels when I stopped at a rerun of NBC's coverage of the 2013 Ironman in Kona. I don't know if you all have watched this at some point but it's gripping stuff. They not only show you the pros trying to win but the everyday age groupers trying to finish, competing for different causes and enduring hardship just like all of us. It makes you want to try it yourself. Now, I'm not crazy enough to aim for an Ironman but it was enough for me to go ahead and aim to at least get a taste for the sport by doing a sprint triathlon (750 meter swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run). One little problem though: I still don't have a bike. I have figured out a solution but I'll leave that explanation for my next post.
So, I have oficially started triathlon training and I have to say, even though my mileage has dropped quite a bit as I add both swimming and cycling to my regular weekly schedule and get used to it all, it has been a funny ride so far. If you think me wearing a tutu was funny, you'll want to read my upcoming posts about tri training.