A half mile swim. Three mile run. Twelve mile bicycle ride. That is the normal distance for most sprint triathlons. One of my goals this year after my second heart attack in February was to do a short triathlon. I had circled October 15 on my calendar, as this was the date for the Oklahoma Senior Games triathlon and they offered a sprint-distance event that I had hoped I could make. As the date approached, I knew I wasn’t ready, primarily because I was still having trouble figuring out the swimming part again. I hadn’t done any swimming in 30 years and just going to the pool and trying to figure it out again wasn’t working so well. So I scratched that goal for the moment. I had also been having problems all summer with plantar facetious – pain in my heel. It was really affecting my ability to run any distance at all. I was still running but it was not fun and I had to limit my training time as it took about 4 months to get over that issue.
I decided to take swim lessons in November and spent two days each week at the YMCA learning how to swim again. When I first started I could barely make it across the pool – 25 meters – without stopping to catch my breath. I slowly kept working on it and worked with the coach to smooth out my stroke, get my rhythm down where I could breath, and get comfortable in the water again. Those first few lessons my heart rate would peg at 168 bps or so on a single trip across the pool! As I kept working on my stroke and rhythm and watching Youtube videos, I concentrated on smoothing things out, not rushing through the water but rather gliding, rotating my body to keep everything in line, and staying horizontal in the water to reduce drag. I took a lot of practice and concentration on every single stroke, but eventually things started coming together. I am still not a very good swimmer but certainly better than in early October.
I wasn’t planning on doing a sprint distance triathlon today, but when I woke up I felt like swimming and throught I could knock out 800 meters. The longest I had swam so far had been 600 meters, but I felt fresh this morning and thought I could make that happen. That is 32 lengths of the pool, a far cry from barely making a single lap in September when I started swimming again!
Once I got done with the swimming I felt pretty fresh so decided to just go ahead and do the run and indoor bicycle ride. I have been running 3 miles pretty well every single day and often do 10-20 miles on my bicycle, so I pretty well knew I could get those done if I could get past the swimming. What I didn’t know was how much energy I needed to budget for each stage, since I had never really strung everything together before. I was conservative on my run and cycling times, making sure I didn’t burn all my energy before I got done. After I finished the indoor bicycle ride on the trainer I still felt quite fresh, so heck, decided to go ahead and do my normal morning weight lifting routine.
So today was my first successful sprint distance triathlon, plus a weight lifting session. I feel quite good afterwards and not really all that tired, so I hope to do this a lot more and maybe enter an actual event next spring.
All this is a far cry from a year ago when I couldn’t even run to the mailbox, let alone do a 3 mile run. I am off much of my medicine, I have lost 45 pounds, my resting heart rate is in the low 50’s, and I feel fantastic most mornings. Hopefully I have a new lease on life and my heart will hold up a few more years.