(An encore post from 2013)
My two exercise buddies, Pam and Margo, trained with me a while ago for a sprint triathlon. We spent months preparing for the half-mile open water swim, 15-mile bike and 4-mile run.
All this, mind you, is done consecutively; not on different days, like normal people would do. And to top it off, we are expected to do it all within a couple hours or risk getting passed by the 95-year-old who’s in her 70th consecutive sprint-tri.
Most people say, “Oh, that doesn’t sound bad” when I tell them what’s involved. Yeah, right. YOU try it then. Come tell me later how easy it was. I know, because I was one of those people: That’s doable. No problem. Hardly have to train. Piece of cake.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
First, we had to train to be able to “brick” the courses, meaning transition as quickly as possible from each event so we weren’t left in the dust – literally.
Let me tell you, it’s not easy coming out of salty water, trying to hurriedly pull off a wetsuit that’s sticking like a large black jellyfish suctioned to your skin.
Then, you quickly slip wet feet into biking shoes, cram your helmet over dripping hair, and jump onto the bike when your legs are still doing the flutter kick.
After pedaling up and down hills as fast as you can for 15 miles, you leap off your bike, throw on running shoes and hat, then sprint out onto the road (in 95 degree heat) and run a 4-mile course that seemingly has no end.
God forbid you need to use a bathroom on that run through desert-like scenery. No bushes to easily hide behind and besides, there’s no stopping. Ever!
Anyway, back to Pam…this gal pushes herself like an Olympic athlete in whatever activity she’s doing. Nothing is too much for her. She’s a bulldog; strong, compact and fast.
I, on the other hand, have to make myself go to the pool and do laps, grudgingly crawl out of bed to get to the gym early, and convince myself to go running when I’d rather sit and watch reruns of The Big Bang Theory while munching on Kettle Corn.
Then there’s Margo, who is not unlike the Ever-Ready Bunny, always moving forward. Margo ran competitively in her younger years (she’s now in her 60s), did well in many marathons and recently rode across the U.S. on her bicycle. She’s inspirational and unstoppable, even with a bum knee.
Guess how the two of them celebrate their birthdays? Each year they take their age and exercise to variations of that number.
So last year, when Margo turned 60, they got up at 6:00 a.m. to run 6 miles (in 34-degree weather), followed by a 60-mile bike ride (14 miles of it completely uphill) and finished the day by doing 60 laps in an Olympic-size swimming pool. Can you imagine?
I hope I’m still alive when they turn 80 because I’d really like to see that particular performance (from my cozy roadside lawn chair, of course).
Want to know what I did for my birthday? I went out to breakfast with a friend and ate carbo-loaded pancakes, sat through a movie where we shared a medium popcorn, sans butter (come-on, I do have my limits), visited the mall, followed by dinner with cocktails. No exercise in sight, unless you count walking around the mall (so let’s count it).
Here’s the thing: I’m not sure Pam and Margo are actually human. I want proof. Their threshold for pain and endurance is, well…I don’t believe they truly have a threshold. These gals train like you and I breathe; they don’t even think about it. And they do it very, very well.
I, on the other hand, don’t dream about training. I dream about chocolate. But when I’m actually competing, I have to admit there’s a remarkable feeling of accomplishment, especially crossing that finish line.
Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying it’s never challenging for Pam and Margo, but the advantage they have over most humans is that the more difficult the course, the more they relish it and the better they perform.
For me, when I discover the course has many hills to bike and run, I suddenly develop chronic fatigue syndrome. But Pam always assures me it will be easy-peasy.
And like an idiot, I always believe her. Why is that? What’s wrong with me?
So now I’m going to leave you hanging until next Sunday, when I resume the story with the day of the sprint-tri and how I, a mere mortal, medalled during the event and my two super-human friends did not.