Choosing To Do A Triathlon

Triathlon 101

As I  approach my first triathlon this Sunday.  I am walking through the decisions I made in training for the swim, the bike and the run.

First Step:  Deciding to do a triathlon.

What’s a triathlon like?

Electric Crowd cheering on Triathletes in Chicago

Last year, my brother was doing his first ever international (olympic distance) triathlon.  He’d done two sprint triathlons the previous two years. Both times, I was not able to see him compete.

Now, when I played my trombone in a local jazz big band, I was always excited when my family or friends came out to support me.  I seemed to have more energy.  I played better.  I had more fun.  For those times, when no one could come, I always felt a little sad.  When you have a passion, you want to share it.

Knowing how I felt, I decided that I would make sure to see my brother compete in the 2009 Chicago Triathlon.  I was so happy I did.  It was so energizing.  You see all these people (big guys, little girls, big girls, little guys, some fit people, some not so fit people) all smiling as they cross the finish line.  There is this constant hum of the crowd cheering on everyone even if you don’t know them.  Doing a triathlon has always been on my to do list.  After having seen a triathlon in person, I resolved to be out there in 2010.  It was super inspirational just being part of the energy.

At big events, there is usually a pre-event expo, that is open to the public.  At the expo, you can check out the latest gear and vendors pushing their wares.  Many of the big events will have festivities celebrating the competition such as Bands, DJ’s, and food boths.  So, Its definitely an event you can take your kids to and enjoy as a family.

If you have any interest in doing a triathlon, marathon, 10k, 5k, or any event at all,  Here’s your assignment:

Go to active.com or trifind.com, find your nearest Triathlon event, and attend as a fan.  Be there to cheer on the participants or better yet friends.  They love it, and you’ll be inspired.  If you have the time, volunteer to help out.  Without the volunteers, the events won’t take place.

Next post, I’ll talk about choosing a Triathlon Distance.  Why did I skip the sprint and jump right to the Olympic (International) distance?

Triathlon coming soon…

If you’ve been following along, I labeled 2010, my year of action. I was going to take action to achieve my goals rather than just talk about it.

One of my major goals for 2010 was to lose weight and complete an olympic triathlon. I’m only 10 days away.  (Any normal person would be freaking out right now. — I’m in that category.)

Freak out?

I am cautiously confident that I’ll be able to finish. I’m still darn nervous. I am not a fan of cold water. Lake Michigan water temps these days are between 65 and 70. Contrast that with my backyard pool which averages around 92 degrees, and my local lap pool is about 83 degrees. So, the cold water will be a shock. Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to do an open water swim. I haven’t had a chance to try on my wetsuit (that’s a story for another day – hopefully a story with a happy ending).  Also, running after biking has been slow for me.

Triathlon Goal!

Yes, my goal is to finish, but of course I want more than that.  I want to beat last year’s average time of 3 hours.  I am not sure I’ll make that.  All of my workout times have been dramatically slower than the 3 hour pace.

Current workout times:

  • SWIM:  my (0.93 mile) swim time is about 40 minutes
  • BIKE: my (24.8 mile) bike time is 90 minutes
  • RUN: my (6.2 mile) run time is closer to 60 minutes.

If your keeping score at home, that’s 3 hours 10 minutes and that doesn’t even include transition times.  So, unless adrenaline kicks in, or wetsuits speed up swimming, or the bike trails I’m riding now are technically more complex and thus slower than the main triathlon course, or a miracle happens, I’m going to miss that secondary goal.  I’m still shooting for 3 hours.  Its good to push ourselves.  After all, trying is better than not trying at all.

Workout challenges:

At some point, we just have to decide.  Change your priorities.  It has not been easy for me.  I battle the workout blahs all the time.  I have to force myself to workout.  I feel good afterwards, but just starting its a challenge.  Exercise isn’t a habit yet.  Having a triathlon race scheduled and paid for since January has really made it easier for me to motivate my workouts.

I struggle mightily with the food still.  I love good food.

More Triathlon observations to come.  I’m finalizing a blogging posting schedule now that my triathlon training will slow down.  I am going to make an effort to continue the exercise habit and stabilize my writing habit.

I wanted to check in with you all. Of course, my question still stands:  How can I help you achieve your fitness goals?  What do you need to be accountable to make your year of action?  I want to help.

Birthday Bicycle Bash. Six steps to purchasing a bike.

Today, March 28, is my birthday. My wife and kids took me out to have a wonderful lunch today.  I had some carne asada.  it’s in my top ten of meals.  Yesterday, I had my brother and his family over with my parents for a Turkey Dinner.  Thanksgiving Turkey is another one of those top ten meals in my book.  In fact, if I listed out all the top ten meals, I’d probably talking about top 100 meals.

Happy Birthday Scott Cake

I don’t know where time flies.  I still call myself a young’un, but I’m sure many of you in the blogosphere would not call me that.  In fact, on some levels, I know that I’m not terribly young anymore, but I also don’t feel old either.  I love birthdays though.  Growing up, my family always made everyone feel special on birthdays.  I am happy to say my wife and children have carried that tradition on.  Between little surprise gifts, sweet hugs and kisses from my kids, or just plain time to relax, Birthdays have not really been full of anxiety, they’ve been full of joy.

Well, I don’t really get a big gift for my birthday every year.  However, with my triathlon training, I decided it would be very difficult to complete a triathlon without a bicycle.  So, I am now a proud owner of a Trek 7.3 Bicycle.

Trek 7.3 Bicycle

What Steps did I use in order to buy a bicycle?

  1. Determine how much money you want to spend?  This is more a personal financial decision.  What can you afford in your budget. Don’t forget all the accessories (bike helmet, bike lock, water bottle cages, water bottle, bike rack, new components)
  2. Determine what type of bicycle riding will you actually be doing.  Road Riding?  Off-Roading?  A little of both?  Be honest.
  3. Research the bikes online. Don’t forget you can buy a used bike. I did not choose this route as I’m not really the best mechanic in the world, and bicycle maintenance is not something I want to learn at this time.  So, I wanted a new bike to give me the best possible smoothest beginning.
  4. Visit some bicycle shops to survey the landscape.
  5. Take some test rides. How smooth is the ride?  Do the gears shift easily?  Will it hold up for the types of rides you’ll be doing?  Its difficult to tell when you’re a newbie when you’re just riding it around the bicycle shop parking lot.  Try to ride it in the way you will.
  6. Make a decision. Sometimes, you just have to make a decision.  Decide what’s good enough and go with it.  Don’t look back, and don’t second guess.

Since, I am a tri “newbie”, and I wasn’t sure if training for triathlons was going to be a passing fancy or a new hobby.  I wanted to find a bike that I could use in multiple ways, and that was between $500 – $1000 including all the accessories (bike helmet, bike lock, bike rack, etc…)

    Here’s what I plan on doing:

    • a Swift, light racing bike that can withstand the training and speed necessary for an Olympic distance triathlon
    • a Commuter that I could use to ride the 2 miles I have to go to some of my consulting gigs in the local industrial park.
    • a Trail Bike.  I want to be able to ride on gravel, wood chip, and grassy trails in the areas forest preserves and state parks.
    • a Bike to ride with the kids.

    Now, I really wanted a mountain bike, but I realized that the knobby tires and the heft a mountain bike is not conducive to the type of biking I will do.  I like the idea of doing off-road trail rides and light jumping, but until Mr. C and Miss M, my kids, get old enough.  I just don’t think I’ll be doing that type of riding.

    As many of you will do, when you make a purchase, I did some research.

    • Read online Reviews
    • Read triathlon training books to see suggestions
    • Asked Twitter friends
    • Asked the Trek Twitter and the Cannondale Bikes
    • Asked friends

    There’s just so many choices of bicycles.  I’ve been thinking about buying a used bike for a while now.  In fact, I’ve had my heart set on a Cannondale bike for a long time.  For some reason though, the Trek just felt better.  It seemed right.  I like that both companies are American, but I was a little disappointed when I found out that the bike was made in China.  Nothing against China, I just think the U.S. could be doing some more manufacturing at home.  Regardless, I’m super excited.  I took a ride on the bike immediately when I picked it up.  I rode about 6 kilometers.  Wow, I was surprised how, literally, my butt was sore.  I might need to invest in a new bike saddle.  Although, the bike store told me that I might just get used to it.  We’ll see.  I have a long way to go before I do 40 km bike rides combined with 1.5 km swims and 10 km runs.

    Check-in

    Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been doing a very good job at building my habit of exercise.  I have lost about 10 pounds.  However, for the past month, my weight has stayed constant since my initial weight loss.  I’m not surprised as I have not really concentrated on my diet at all. I also went on vacation and had tons and tons of work to do.  I’ve been totally focused at getting into a workout routine. I wanted to cement the exercise habit before I began working on the nutritional habit.  I think I have a pretty good ingrained desire to exercise now.  Although, I definitely would call it a tenuous weak habit that will need greater and greater reinforcement. My next task will be adjusting my diet for peak performance and weight loss. I know what I need to do, but I just need to build the mental toughness necessary to achieve my goals.

    In addition to my personal diet challenge, My next thought I have is what training plan should I use in order to prepare for my Olympic distance Triathlon on August 29.  I have to build enough endurance to swim, bike, and run.  How do you do that?  I have felt often that I’m over-training, but my Certified Trainer wife says that I have probably not gotten close to that yet.  Questions I still have:

    • How do I know what training is too much?
    • How important is rest in cardio workouts?
    • What workouts do I need to do in order to build enough endurance to not only complete a triathlon, but feel good afterwards?
    • What training plan can I do? Does it have to be so complicated with this type of swim this and this type of run here, and this type of bike here?  or can it be more simple like swim this many minutes.
    • What habits can I create in order to destroy my over-eating habits?
    • How can I make swimming in cold water with hundreds of others comfortable?
    • How can I bicycle on busy streets and still be safe?

    A word from my sponsor

    Anyone want to sponsor a triathlete this year?  If so, please contact me.  🙂

    Otherwise, let me know what we can do help you achieve your fitness goals.