Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Buying My Bike For My First Try

So now that I finally got the swim out of the way, I started bike shopping last October. I wasn't sure if I wanted a tri bike or a road bike. All I had ever ridden before was a mountain bike. I started researching bikes and found a lot of great information on I started hanging around the forum more and logging my workouts there. If you are looking for good info, check it out.

Anyway, I went to several bike stores and received many different opinions. Go with the Gary Fisher because it has a cool paint job. Go with the Trek 2.1 because it has a compact crank. Don;t go with a tri bike because it is less stable and a much harsher ride. People that tell you that a tri bike has a harsher ride don't know what they are talking about, it has more to do with the wheels and frame material than the geometry. Go with a low end Cannondale, it's a good beginner bike. It went on and on. When I asked some people about getting a bike fit, some looked at me and said, you need this size while others new what I meant and described their fit process.

In the end, I decided on a road bike with aero bars. That way I can ditch the aero bars and ride with the local bike club, and if I don't stick with triathlons, I can ride a road bike for exercise. I also had a limited budget and decent tri bikes started outside my range. I am stashing $20 in an envelope here and there to start a tri bike fund. Maybe I'll find a decent used one in a year or two. I ended up buying a Giant Defy 1 just after New Year's. To save money I have spd pedals on so I can use my mountain bike shoes for now.

I picked up a Cyclops trainer on Craig's list and I was ready to add biking to the list. I road it for about 30 minutes two days in a row and had some extremely painful issues. After a couple (make that four) trips to various doctor's everything checked out ok so I bought a new seat. I bought an Adamo road saddle and my problems were solved. The seat looks funny, but it feels great.

So with the bike under control, I started upping my mileage every month, signed up for the St. Louis 1/2 mary in April, and my first three tris. Effingham, IL on May 16, Carlyle, IL on May 23, and Innsbrooke, MO on June 26th. I'll be middle of the pack, but I'm pumped to be two and a half weeks from my first tri. It's been a fun journey so far.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Pool

Where to start, one year ago.... This was seriously one of the most humiliating and humbling points in my life. I started swimming and had to stop and rest after each length. I probably swam five or six lengths then went home dejected. I repeated this three or four times and seriously contemplated quitting. It's humbling to have an old lady in the lane next to you, clicking off laps seemingly forever while I struggle to do one lap. Well, I didn't quit, but I did get a coach. I joked before I saw her that she would probably recommend biathlons for me. She didn't do that, but she did point out about 20 things I was doing wrong and told me that if I stuck with it for three or four months, I would be able to swim in a triathlon. Three or four months? You have to be kidding me. It shouldn't take that long. It turns out she was optimistic :-(. It actually took closer to six months. Anyway, here is how I did it. My coach had me get some dumb bells and do three sets of 12 curls, military presses, and tricep exercises several times per week. She said not to rush the sets, count two on the up motion and four on the down motion. Nice and slow to really work the muscles. Having never lifted, I didn't have any upper body strength. She also had me switch from swimming trunks you wear to the beach to jammers. That's right, besides being humbled by old people clicking off laps, I get to be humiliated. A middle aged, overweight, pasty white guy who can't swim is wearing jammers and goggles. I tried to sneak peaks at the life guards to see if they were snickering at me. I never caught them, but I swear they were :-). Anyway, I kept at it. I went to the pool two or three times a week and did 100's or 200's until I was tired. I also started using a pull buoy. It allowed me to swim more level and longer distances without stopping. At this point, I swam faster with the buoy than without. After a couple months, I started doing 400's but couldn't go much further until one day in October when I didn't feel too bad after 400, I just kept going. I ended up doing 1000 yards straight that night and a mile straight two nights later. What a huge breakthrough! Now it's time for a sprint, except the season ended a month earlier. Oh well, at least I didn't quit. So in October last year I started bike shopping.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Beginning

In January last year, a friend at work successfully talked me in to signing up for the St. Louis half marathon. I tried all the excuses I could think of. My body just can't go that distance, I haven't run over 5 miles for 20 years, I don't have time, blah, blah, blah. I signed up anyway and started using Hal Higdon's novice half marathon plan. I didn't do the cross training or the strength training and I ran three times per week instead of four. I slogged through four months of training and successfully completed the race in 2:08:02! That was truly an accomplishment for me.

With all the running, I was able to eat more and still lose some weight. I was down to about 165, not skipping breakfast, not skipping dinner, and feeling pretty good about myself. About a week after I completed the half marathon, I started thinking about what is next. Another half marathon in the fall? A full marathon? A sprint triathlon? Why not, a sprint is pretty short. I already run and bike and a quarter mile swim is only 8 laps in the pool or so. I should be able to do one in the fall. It really can't be that hard. Then I went to the pool......

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Well, I decided to start blogging. It may not last but it will give me a place to talk about my triathlon training. None of the people I hang out with are in to triathlons and they really don't care to hear about it. They'll ask how it is going, but lose interest if I talk about it for more than a sentence or two. I'll document my journey to this point over the next couple of days so the first post isn't too long.

So, how did I get into triathlons? The same way it started for many over weight guys in their middle forties. Call it a mid-life crisis or whatever you want, but this addiction started about a year and a half ago. In January of last year, I was a casual runner and mountain biker. I tried to run a couple miles 3x per week but truth be told, most weeks I was lucky to get one run in. It just wasn't a priority so I would use any excuse I could to not do it. I was slowly gaining weight after giving up afternoon snacks, chips, ice cream etc. (not beer). I would also skip breakfast most of the time and dinner occasionally. I peaked near 180 pounds which is a lot for a guy that is only 5' 7". Then the journey began........