I follow a blog - swim.bike.mom she recently wrote a post about the breeds of triathletes. It's a good post but I didn't feel like her description of the long course athlete included me because I'm not nuts, I haven't checked my sanity or my common sense at the door and I do love it.
I will admit I used to think that the long course races 70.3 or 140.6 were extreme because they are such long events and they do take such a high level of committment to complete them. But I've gone through what I'll call the long course "evolution."
Do you "need" to do a long course event to be a triathlete. Nope.
Now, not everybody likes long course events - so it's not for everybody. In my opinion a triathlete is somebody who does triathlons of any distance at any pace - which is to say there's nothing special to me about those of us who choose to go the longer distance. Really - it's just a choice. In fact I'll readily admit that it takes more training and more effort to win a sprint tri than to complete a long course event.
It has to be fun
I wouldn't do it if it wasn't fun. For me it is fun. I enjoy it. I train and race with a smile on my face.
I train with some younger folks and one of them recently completed his first Ironman. He really felt like he was missing out on his life towards the end. He gave up drinking and socializing to complete his race. He's very happy with his achievement but he did feel like he made sacrifices.
I also train with an older triathlete. He does 1-2 Ironman races a year. He'll go out with his wife to a party the night before a bike ride and still get up and ride. He's at the office everyday by some insane hour of 5 or 6 so he trains in the afternoons and evenings. He's a jokester. But he loves it and he always says - it's got to be fun. If it's not fun don't do it. That's what I think too. For me it's fun.
Why - part one
I don't mind getting up at 4 am on a Saturday to run because I get to run with the sunrise and my day is always better after that.
I don't feel like I'm missing out on happy hours or Friday nights because honestly I'd rather go to bed and see my friends in the morning. If something special is happening on a Friday - fine. I go and I have fun. But I went to plenty of happy hours in my 20s - I loved them but I don't miss them.
I have made some of my best friends training for marathons and triathlons. I had a running partner who called them Kindergarten friends. By the end of training for a long race together you know "everything" about that person.
For me I find that during a solo run or a solo bike ride there is usually a moment of "zen" or being totally in the "moment" that minute where your breathing is all there is. It's as if you can feel and hear your heartbeat through your whole body. Sometimes I feel like my heartbeat and my footstrike are synchronized. Sometimes on the bike I feel like I'm almost flying without leaving the ground. With that comes a sense of calm that is truly special. I'll admit it's my way of meditating. I'll also admit it is intoxicating because it's chasing that "moment" that pulls me back to the road. I will also clarify that this "zen" moment has never happened to me indoors on a trainer or treadmill.
Swimming is my least favorite of the disciplines in triathlon. But I have finally made peace with the swim. I find swimming to be a little bit lonely and quite honestly I'm not very good at it. So I've come to terms with that and whadda ya know I occasionally look forward to a workout. I used to have a lot of issues with tension in my shoulders. As it turns out swimming helps with that. It stretches out my muscles and it's good for me. Also my arms look awesome for an old lady which is pretty great.
So these are the basics -next up why 140.6 I have to think about that for a little while because sometimes I'm not totally sure myself.