Triathletes are Crazy

This post is part of March’s DSMA Blog Carnival, which is all about exercise.

I’m tired . . . all the time. I knew that training for a triathlon was going to be intense, but I hadn’t really expected it to be quite so tiring. Thank goodness I’m only doing the sprint distance. A short 1/4 mile swim, 20km bike ride, 5km run, and then it’s all over. I’ve seen 12-week training plans for Olympic distance events, which are double the distance, and I just can’t imagine how tiring all of the training must be.

Despite the fatigue and feeling like a slave to my training plan, I’m enjoying all of the swimming, running, and biking. It’s been light enough for me to ride outside after work a couple times this week, and I hadn’t realized just how much I missed being on my bike. (Or quite how much it had needed a tune-up. It’s so quiet now.) I’ve also been going to the pool at 5:45AM a couple times a week since October, building my endurance and working on my form. (Mostly I just flop around and try to copy what the fast people in neighboring lanes are doing.) And on the running front, I started a 10K plan last week, assuming that if I trained for the longer distance, I’d be able to feel good for the shorter one after about an hour of effort.

I’m just glad there isn’t a fourth discipline. I’m not sure I could find time to fit it into my schedule.

I still don’t feel like a “real” triathlete. I haven’t done all three events in succession. I’ve never swam long distances in open water. I still quake inside at the thought of the transition from swim to bike and from bike to run. I still don’t have a wetsuit or a swim cap or nutrition plan or any idea what to bring with me on the day of the race. Definitely not a true triathlete at all.

Specialized Trivent Expert shoes

But then today, as I was buying new cycling shoes designed for triathlons, the bike store guy and I were talking about how the Ironman-distance people were crazy. When he said, “All triathletes are crazy,” it hit me that I was buying something very tri-specific.

Nope. Still not a tri guy.

So why am I doing this? Rather, why am I taking this so seriously?

A bunch of reasons really. There’s something decidedly badass about triathlons. I can ride pretty well. I can run pretty well. I can swim — well, I can swim well enough. I like the idea of seeing how much I can do, finding out where my limits are. And — maybe this is a little immodest — but I’m also a bit thrilled by the idea of doing something that most people don’t do, that people think is a little crazy, that has a faint whiff of danger to it.

Plus, my innie has mostly turned itself into an outie. Trying to get into better shape (re)started these cycling, running, and swimming endeavors individually. And they worked pretty well, but taken together they’re über-formidable.

Finally, there’s me giving a big “suck it” to diabetes finally learning to handle exercise and diabetes. It’s definitely a challenge, and I know it makes several people nervous that something will happen when I’m competing, particularly when I’m swimming. But I wish those well-meaning people wouldn’t worry; beyond the positive effects that the training has on my blood sugar and insulin sensitivity, I’m also learning quite a lot about how to manage all the moving parts. It’s certainly a leap of faith to start a workout with a good BG — which makes me very happy — and trust that it will be in a good place when I’m done exercising, but it’s a leap I have to take. I know other people have done triathlons with diabetes, and I’ve seen my own skills improving to the point where I’m feeling very good about the different disciplines, especially the swim. (It’s ironic, I know.) I’m feeling more confident.

It took me a while to realize it, but triathlon training is actually helping me with more than just physical strength and conditioning. Something about the craziness — that is to say the hardcore, bat-shit craziness — of triathletes makes me want to up my game, even if it’s only so that I can fit in, so that I’m not “that guy” who does a triathlon and totally sucks at it. I want to be able to have the diabetes skills to go along with the physical conditioning. When the time comes I want to be able to throw down the gauntlet (to myself) without worrying (too much) about what it’s going to do to my BGs.

So I guess triathletes — even newbie triathletes with diabetes who may never do more than one — are kinda crazy. But that’s not so bad, is it?

This entry was posted in Cycling, Diabetes, Reluctant Triathlete, Running. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Triathletes are Crazy

  1. Kim says:

    I would qualify the “crazy” with a subsequent “awesome”, and then it sounds more accurate to me. :)

  2. Simon says:

    I hate when Kim beats me to the punch….Crazy and awesome sound pretty fair to me.

  3. Karen says:

    I hate to break it to you, but you are totally a real triathlete guy now!!! Not to say you are crazy . . . . just a real athlete!!

  4. Pingback: victoria cumbow » Blog Archive » It’s working.

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