I gave it a whirl but it just wasn't what I was hoping for. I knew the swim portion of the triathlon was going to be very tough for me for a number of reasons but I battled through it for one full year to see if I could learn to love it and join the great athletes in the next step of the multisport world.
When this journey started back in 2006, I was just getting into the running game. I was looking for a fall challenge to keep me motivated so that I would not stray back to my chicken wings and beer lifestyle. I had completed a marathon the previous year so I really did not want to run another one so quickly and these were the majority of the running races I noticed in the autumn months. As I flipped through the websites, I came across a Triathlon Series page and started to read the options for the races remaining on their schedule.
As I became more interested, I selected the duathlon. This was not because I was certain I could learn to cycle but because I was sure I did not enjoy the water enough to learn to swim for a triathlon. I had not even been on a road bike in my life but could imagine myself enjoying that freedom and speed out on the bike. The funny thing is that I decided to race my first multisport event two months before the actual date and I did not even have a bike of any kind. I had better access to a pool during the lead up to Guelph Lakes 2 so you would think the triathlon option would have been easier. Something deep inside just would not budge on my swimming stance and duathlon won over the triathlon.
On the other side, I was so certain that I would enjoy the cycling that I shopped around for almost the full two months to make sure I had the fastest option for the money I had available at the time. I finally bought my first road bike on the Wednesday of the week of GL2. I rode it twice before the race and was only disappointed in one thing. Why had I not tried this sport earlier in my life!
Come race day, I had such an eye opening experience seeing all the fancy bikes and great athletes. I had a solid first run and then hopped on my entry level road bike with the strap style shoe holders on the pedals. I gave it my all on that 20k bike course (doubling any of the two training rides I had attempted). By the second run I was wiped but the other athletes were amazing, offering me encouragement along the route when I was forced to walk due to cramps. That picked up my spirits and I fought to finish that last 5k run.
If I remember correctly, I had only a few running races under my belt at this point (2 x 5k races and 1 x marathon) but still thought I could run a 20:00 5k coming off the bike for some reason. Man was I surprised how hard it was to run after putting so much effort in biking. It ended up being one of those, "I am going to teach you legs to run fast of the bike!" lessons that I have never perfected but has kept me coming back for more and more.
Two races (Niagara on the Lake Du as well) in 2006 led to three full seasons of duathlon. I was very passionate about the sport and just could not believe how few people were competing compared to the triathlon. It seemed like all the people I was meeting in the early years would move along to the tri or cycling so during the 2009 season, I decided that it may be best if I moved along as well.
I started to slowly introduce the swim into the routine but those days never seemed to be as enjoyable as my running or cycling days. Even during the first bunch of classes in my instructed lessons, I got nauseous and dizzy, having to leave a few of them mid-class to avoid being sick in the pool. Eventually, things started to improve to a certain point but to get to the level I wanted to be at, I just could not fit the local pool schedules into my work and family plans.
If I really wanted to get better I would have needed to join a masters class or have some one-on-one instruction a few times a week. Unfortunately, many of these in the Meadowvale area could not fit into my training hours and would have cost me additional money that is most likely better used for other aspects of my life.
The usual struggle to get my proper swim workout created several issues but I tried to keep a positive spin on things as the 2010 season approached. After a few real triathlons, I started to question my choice to jump into this side of the sport and was pretty frustrated due to the swim. I had one big event in August that I was already registered for so I tried to plug away. Thankfully, after the Welland Half Iron race, I got talking with Tyler Lord and he got my pumped up about the Timberman 70.3 race with a focus on the bike and the run. I ended up having the race of my life (to date!) but the reality of the day also set in seeing how amazing the talent is out there in triathlon. Without enjoying the water and being driven to swim as much as they do, I stand little chance to get to their level (70.3 Worlds or Kona). It would also require me to pass along some family duties to be in the pool during open hours and that would not be fair just for a hobby or recreational sport.
So in 2011, I will return to the duathlon world and really try to hammer down some of my past times. I didn't want to post this without running it past Tyler first so I am happy that he is staying on to help me get faster in the Run/Bike/Run. Hopefully, some of the strong duathletes of the past few years stick around so we can battle it out and have the same fun we used.
So now that I have had time to revamp my schedule, here are a few races I will be aiming for in 2011.
-Run 4 Hope 10k (FMCT organized event)
-Mississauga Half Marathon (go after sub 1:20 again!)
-Victoria's Du (a big race for du'ers as we get to race some great triathlete for the only time of the season)
-Ontario Du Championships (not sure of the location, yet)
I have picked a lot of other races but I should wait to see if I will be back with a particular sponsor next year before posting.
I am once again super excited about 2011 and just happy to be able to focus on my two favourite sports.