I’m Running a Triathlon! (well, sort of…)

I love to lift weights.  I always have.  At one time I had aspirations of competing in local amateur body-building contests.  Yeah, I know, the tiny swim-suits, fake tans and oil.  But years ago I had the physique for it.  Back in my mid 30s I was about 4 months away from my first show and I blew a knee doing 300 pound hack squats.  After the surgery, rehab, and the responsibilities of raising a small child, I didn’t really have the desire or the time to do that anymore.

I still like to lift weights though.  Many of you know that my latest weight-lifting activities led to shoulder surgery.  So, more rehab.  I missed the whole fast-pitch softball season.  My shoulder is still a little weak 4 months later, but it’s almost back to normal.  But for now my weight lifting is taking a back seat to another endeavour.  I am running a triathlon.

Wait.  Not really.  Let’s look at the back story.

My girlfriend Suzi is a competitive swimmer.  She was on the state championship swim team when we were in high school together many years ago.  Currently she swims with the Wisconsin Masters, and competes in a few local meets every year.  She can swim thousands of yards without much effort.  Me?  I can’t swim 10 feet to save my soul.  At least I couldn’t.  For the past 8 months Suzi has been teaching me how to swim.  I never learned as a kid.  And, because I didn’t have much body fat growing up, and I had a lot of muscle at one time, I tended to sink instead of float.  I am making slow progress, and am now able to swim about 500 – 600 yards in the time she can crank out a couple thousand.

This gets me to the triathlon.  I’ve never been big on cardio.  I quote Gimli (for those of you who know me, you know I’m not the tallest person around) – “I’m wasted on cross country – we dwarves (I’m not a dwarf, but the quote still fits) are natural sprinters.  Very dangerous over short distances.”  Anyway, the local YMCAs came up with a September challenge to help people get in shape – run a triathlon.  During the month of September you need to run 26 miles, bike 110 miles, and swim 3 miles.  Claiming temporary insanity, I signed up for it.

I started out by running/walking a mile a day.  Walking I could handle, the running part was harder.  Since I don’t have a working odometer on my bike, I use the Y’s stationary bikes.  I figure they’re calibrated fairly accurately.  I usually sit and crank out 5 miles at a time.  The iPod helps pass the time for both.  I’ve steadilly increased my distances, and now I am up to running 2 miles at a time and am about to add another 5 miles to the bike.

Swimming is a different matter.  My shoulder still tends to give me problems, and I haven’t done very well with the swimming.  I still have about 3500 yards to go.  That’s a lot.

But I am pleased with my progess.  So far this month I have run 18.5 miles, biked 40, and have swum for about 1500 yards out of the 5,280 that I need to do.  I have never done that much cardio in one month ever.  I don’t think I’ve ever done that much cardio in a whole year.  I still have a week and a half left, with two weekends in there to crank out a few thousand yards in the pool.  I know I can do it.

I used to have to drag myself to the gym to do any cardio.  After a couple weeks I realized the goal of the challenge was not to test my endurance limits, but to get me in the habit of doing something active.  I now go to the Y not because I have to, but because I want to.

Because of all of my new found activities, I am noticing that I have more energy in the afternoon (as opposed to wanting a 2:00 pm nap).  My active heart rate is down, my resting heart rate is down, my blood pressure is down, and I am hoping my cholesterol is also lower.  I’ve lost a few inches off of my gut (damn you, Spotted Cow, for contributing to the expanding waist line), and I feel really good.

After I finish the triathlon I have another goal:  To travel to Fort Lauderdale next April and swim in the YMCA Nationals meet.  Thankfully, as a Y member, I don’t need to qualify, but I want to be able to swim well enough to be competitive.  I won’t win or set any records, but when the Nationals are over I will be able to say I went from not being able to swim to swimming in a national meet in just over a year.

After that – bring on the fast-pitch softball season.


About Gill Rowley

I live in a Madison, WI suburb, working as Owner/President of White Knight Data Solutions. I like hunting, fishing, working out, my boat, my motorcycle, playing with my rescued bull terrier Lola, and gourmet cooking. Oh, yeah, and I play men's fastpitch softball, and chess. Let that sink in. :-)
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2 Responses to I’m Running a Triathlon! (well, sort of…)

  1. Jes Schultz Borland says:

    SQUEEEE! This is awesome Gill!

    • gillrowley says:

      Well, Jes, you’re one of my inspirations. If you can go from a smoker to a marathon runner in two years, and if Yanni can run a half and a full marathon in a weekend and still go through what she’s going through, then I can do this.

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