It takes a special kind of crazy to want to run 100 straight days. It takes a special kind of crazy to willingly take 10,000 volts to the chest, but I’ve done that too. Thanks Tough Mudder!
Yesterday I did not run, it was the first time in 2018 and while I thought I might miss it, I really didn’t at all! I enjoyed kicking back with my feet up and for the most part relaxing all day. After the 16km run to finish things off the legs were quite sore to say the least, my foam roller has been my best friend and things, while still sore, are feeling much better today.
So Ed, what did you learn over the last 100 days? Excellent question good sir…
This wouldn’t have been possible without a support system. This for me came from several different sources, my children first and foremost were my biggest supporters and have now seen, first hand what Daddy is capable of doing. I owe Megan all the thanks in the world as I was ready to pack this challenge in in the mid to late 70’s and she called me out and told me to get out there and finish. We have talked several times since about just what she did for me. I posted my accomplishments in Instagram and Facebook, with numerous times getting words of encouragement and support, at times from complete strangers. I am part of a Tuesday evening call group and weekly would report on how things were going, especially motivating as I got closer to the end.
Proper rest is essential for maintaining your body, muscles, mood and energy level. In all honesty I’ve been battling a sore left hamstring since last November, I don’t recall how I first hurt but I woke up one day and it was just sore. I re-aggravated it in December when I was racing to the front door of a restaurant on a cold night without warming up and really hurt it more. To this day it never has fully healed, and at times prevented me from really opening things up on the road while running. The last few weeks I have been wrapping it with a tensor bandage when running which really helped, as did the foam roller. Now that this challenge is done, I will allow the leg to fully heal until I now longer feel any sensation in my left leg.
I have the ability to run in all kind of weather and conditions. There were a few runs in January when it was minus 26 degrees plus windchill and man oh man it was cold, cold cold. My wireless headphones conked out on more than one occasion from just how cold it was. And it seems that here in Central Ontario that Spring will never ever come (snow forecasted for today) and I cannot wait to run in the beautiful sunshine.
As with a lot of adversity in life, it’s often mind over matter. This challenge has helped sharpen the mental toughness needed in life to overcome almost any challenge out there. I have completed an Ironman triathlon in the past which dramatically increased my self confidence and mental toughness, this running challenge has done the exact same thing.
My run ability has gone through the roof, in terms of the cardio base I’ve built, my running form, breathing, stride length… all improved. All wins.
So what’s next? While I will maintain my strength training program for the rest of the week, there will be no cardio until my leg is 100% healed up and then we will start a specific run training program that will include hills, interval training and long distance runs. On Monday I will embark upon a 100 day cycling challenge which while physically a bit less taxing but equally challenging and rewarding in it’s own unique way.
When it’s all said and done I will have created a cardio base that will propel me towards the finish line of Ironman Muskoka 70.3 this coming July!!
At some point last November I woke up with a sore left hamstring, and to be truthful it still hasn’t healed fully. It is not what I will call painful but I am always aware that it is sore, somedays much more than others. Today being one of those days…
Yesterday was day 51 of the 100 day running challenge, and well because I am slightly stupid I decided to go all out on my run around the block instead of the nice and easy 4km that I had planned for the start of recovery week. I had a done a nice 12km run the day before for run 50 but it was on ice covered trails and I could only manage half stride as I was worried about the icy trails, slipping, falling, rolling an ankle, injury! So the run itself was not very taxing on my legs, it was a great ankle and support muscle run however.
So yesterday I guess I wanted to spread my wings and fly, or in runners speak expand my stride length and see what I was capable of. For run 49 a few days before, I went as fast as I could over a 5km run setting some personal best times along the way. Yesterday, I just destroyed those times by 22 per kilometer over my best km, the difference between the two runs would have been the temperature outside (it was much warmer yesterday), and the run itself just felt more natural. For run 49 I was fighting myself the whole time, and it was a struggle, for run 51 I was fighting my breathing and trying not to have my heart explode in my chest (figure of speech) as it was a maximum effort.
What I didn’t do and certainly should have was warm up properly, as I have a tendency to step out the front door and RUN! I also now have the ability to have a close understanding of my pace when I run, I don’t need my audio cues in my ear to tell me how fast I am going. I pass the same mailbox each run at exactly the 1 km mark, and I can usually predict my time to within 5 seconds… Yesterday I didn’t look at my watch or the pace until I was finished the 3 km sprint, and was truly marvelled at how fast I had gone. I had mentioned to Megan that 14 and half minutes would be an excellent time, but 13:41s was just outstanding! With km’s of 4:32, 4:24, and 4:28 and the real awesome thing is that I can even go faster still.
I started with a pace average of around 5:45 per km when I started and I’ve seen that drop over the last 50 days, and am very excited where it will be in 50 days from now… for the rest of this week it is very small, easy pace recovery runs as I attempt to rest up the forever sore left hamstring. Nothing longer than 5km, nothing faster than 6 minutes per km with some stretching, massage rollers and easy bike rides thrown into the mix. This coming Sunday I will attempt another maximum effort 4km run this time with a proper warmup and we shall compare the results.
Time flies when you are busy running, baking and playing with kids. That could best describe the month of January as I cannot believe is already over, I have noticed that life has both sped up and slowed down all at the same time. Again, allow me to explain…
In an effort to be more productive I needed to go back and follow a schedule for the week with each day laid out, with tasks that I wanted to accomplish. I found that during January I spent far too much time thinking about what I wanted to get done instead of actually doing things. The biggest distraction? Old movies that I have seen far too many times already, and quite frankly I didn’t need to see yet again. There is something comfortable about an old favorite movie, it just makes you feel good. We all like to be comfortable, but to live an extraordinary life you need to push beyond what is comfortable and really challenge yourself.
I’ve done my best to place that mindset into my head for the month of February, as I have set for myself some Wildly Important Goals! I created my own online baking company, as advertised below with a focus only on Valentine’s Day options, to be honest sales have been pretty much non existent to this point while I remain optimistic that as inch closer to February 14th sales will increase. The website only featured options for the Holiday directly ahead, I have over 170 different Cookie Cutters (Thanks Amazon!) and wanted to offer options for the entire year. I believe the biggest opportunity for sales growth will come from word of mouth, and one event will lead to three more, etc…
The biggest season in my old world, the restaurant business was Communion, Baptism season at the Keg (next to Christmas) all that is quickly approaching. So I want to have pages dedicated to these cookies with wonderfully decorated cookies already laid out for potential customers to view, to plant the seed for future purchases. I spent much of yesterday, and most of today dedicated to that task! I have an old colleague that is having a baby shower this weekend and I am going to surprise her with some Baby Shower themed cookies, both for the website (pictures) and word of mouth advertising.
The other half of the hustle, hustle, hustle equation is my triathlon training plan alongside the 100 Day running challenge. So the month of January is in the rearview mirror and I successfully ran all 31 days, putting my total at over 200 kilometers for the month that comes with a great sense of accomplishment. I have learned so much about myself, about how to be a more effective runner, how mental discipline plays into all this, and what drive and determination can accomplish.
The month of February comes with another 28 runs in which the run total will push past 50i n a row, it’s more base building where I am basically just running and increasing my cardiovascular base for the upcoming Ironman 70.3 race that I will be completing in this coming July. In March we will start to transition into some specialty training as we get closer to race date and the weather warms up here in Canada.
I have also successfully incorporated strength training into my training plan and so far have really enjoyed the workouts and maybe a bit more so the results. I can see the changes when I look into the mirror and I like what I see. I was worried that this additional training would tire me out more so than the cardio workouts themselves, however so far that has not been the case. My triathlon buddy is a big believer that strength training will help the overall swim, bike and run times out of the course this summer. I cannot wait…
Well this post has been a bit of a ramble, kind of like where my head has been at recently. Lot’s going on… and I didn’t even mention that I am going back to work part time starting this Saturday. Hustle, hustle, and more hustle!
So I am a quarter of the way through my 100 day running challenge, and yes it’s a little nuts to even think of going for a run for 100 straight days. However, barring some kind of injury this is going to happen as it’s a matter of will power, drive and determination moving forward to get it done. There have been days when I didn’t feel like running at all, when I was extremely tired, days when my legs were incredibly sore from a long run the day before BUT every single time I have dragged my butt to the YMCA I have felt tremendous afterwards. It may take a KM or two to loosen things up, or perhaps it’s the right tune at the right time to get me moving but so far I have really enjoyed the experience.
I am loosely following a triathlon (which I am training for) training plan which starts with a base week (week #1) and you add a bit more on week #2, a bit more again on week #3 and then an active recovery week, which I am currently in where you take things relatively easy. So with 11 weeks still to go, I will be ramping it up to another level three more times. I have learned and listened to my body a lot during the last 25 days, and will be altering the run schedule accordingly. For example I will NOT be doing any more long runs back to back during the next cycle… in week #2 I did four 10 km over five days, and during week #3 I added distance everyday of the week culminating with an 11.5 km run right before the start of the recovery week.
The plan this cycle is to increase the number of recovery days in between more difficult runs, especially ones of double digit distance. Most likely there will two recovery runs in between, as I will be creating a plan and training schedule for the remaining 75 days and strategically plan things out. Training for a TRIATHLON is not just about running, there is a lengthy swim and bike element as well, two kilometers of swimming, and 94 kilometers of hard biking around the Lake of Bays with lots of elevation changes. It will be very tough indeed but after 100 runs in a row, I should have the leg strength to crush the course.
I have also been doing weight training four times a week, focusing on arms, chest, back/shoulders, and legs on an alternating cycle. This is new for me this time around during my training plan, as when I did three and half years of triathlons back in 2007 through 2010 there was no strength training to be found. It was a whole lot of swimming, biking and running and not much else. The only element that I would really like to incorporate is some abdominal days, some stretch days and even some yoga days. If I can manage to add these last three elements over the next five months I believe I would be unstoppable on the course.
So for the first time in maybe forever, although I know I did some crazy things while Ironman training a few years ago, today I did my second 10 km run in as many days. I had every intention of doing a nice and easy 30 minutes job on the treadmill at the YMCA while the kids ran around the gym downstairs with there hair on fire (not literally).
Perhaps it was the fact that I actually only ran 9.96 km yesterday and not the full ten that kind of bugged me today. I have OCD and I felt I needed to fix that, or perhaps it was the fact that I was wearing a t-shirt advertising my start up baking company for the first time…
And I figured that the longer I ran the more advertising I would be getting. Is it wrong for me to have parked myself in front of a few out of shape folks sweating away and working hard? And here comes some in shape triathlete running for an hour advertising a bakery company right in front of them.
I ordered a bunch of items from Vista Print including a banner for the outside of my house, business cards, car magnets for my doors and the aforementioned t-shirts… I have high hopes that this business venture allows me to remain at home longer with my younger kids to continue to enjoy he magic of their childhood.
Tomorrow will definitely be no longer than 30 minutes or 5km, which ever comes first!
Does anyone have any tips for muscle and leg recovery that I might use? After all I still have 89 more runs to go!
In preparation for the Ironman 70.3 race this summer, I knew I would have to increase my cardio level to another level. I have spent the last few months in the gym working on my overall strength but running, well I would always consider it to be the weakest of the three disciplines of triathlon. Swim, bike and ugh, run…
Today marked day 9 of the challenge and by far the most days in a row that I have every run in my entire life. Living in Canada, we get a lot on snow in the winter and this year has been no exception, last week we had the coldest recorded temperatures since 1959, getting close to minus 30 and colder with the windchill factor. This sure didn’t stop me from running outside, it did on several occasions stop my headphones and watch from working. Ha ha. Today it wasn’t nearly as cold but the streets were covered in snow and slush and it was tough sledding out there today.
One of the most enjoyable things while running outside in the snow is often the looks that you will get from people that you pass on the street or driving in their car. I always to my best to either say hello, flash them the peace sign, or have on the biggest smile possible as I am thoroughly enjoying myself with each kilometer that I tack on. I started off this challenge on fire, racking up over 40km in my first week but I have come to realize that I am in this for the long haul and smaller runs and recovery days are going to be in order.
Afterall, I am training for a triathlon, not a marathon so I will need to do a considerable amount of swimming, cycling and strength/flexibility training along the way. I have also started to learn about diet and hydration as I need to maintain my energy levels throughout the day as I have four kids to look after and want to play with Daddy. I had been taking naps but they actually make me more tired when I would wake up afterwards so they have had to go as well.
I will say this, I have no trouble falling asleep at the end of the day allowing my body the time it needs to recover, after all I have tomorrow’s run to look forward to. Barring some sort of catastrophic injury I will make this happen and continue to update ou lovely readers as I start to hit some of the bigger milestones.
I have written a bit about of the sport of triathlon since I’ve started this blog and there certainly will be more posts about it in the future, including today! I have just registered myself for next summer’s Ironman race in Huntsville, Ontario at the beginning of July. It is perhaps the biggest race in Ontario next year and will attract the world’s top athletes based on the beauty and the toughness of the course. And standing right there on the start line will be little ol’ me.
I want to use this post to explain the sport to those that may be unfamiliar with it, as future posts will include some of my training days and the races that I do next spring and summer as I dive right back into this wonderful sport. This sport changed my life, and maybe just maybe by sharing my love and passion for the sport with you, you may want to Give It A Try and it can change your life as well!
Whoever finishes first, We’ll call him the Ironman
During an awards banquet for the Waikiki Swim Club, John Collins, a Naval Officer stationed in Hawai`i, and his fellow athletes began debating which athletes were the fittest: swimmers, bikers, or runners. Later, he and his wife Judy, who had both participated in new competitions known as triathlons in San Diego, decided to combine three of the toughest existing endurance races on the island. On February 18, 1978, 15 competitors, including Collins, came to the shores of Waikiki to take on the first-ever IRONMAN challenge.
This sport has grown in popularity ever since that day and today Ironman races can be found in countries all around the world. I did my first official Ironman race in Louisville, KY back in 2009 and it changed my life. I was an active competitor in the sport from 2007 to 2010 and the very last race(s) I did was in Wasaga Beach where, believe it or not, I did three triathlons in one day, back to back to back.
I walked away from the sport after that day thinking to myself that I couldn’t end my journey that had started three and a half years ago any better way. After all in my head I felt I had accomplished everything I could in the sport. From experiencing the thrill of crossing the finish line for the first time, to races several full seasons of races everything single weekend, to winning my series age group, to coming in first in my age group, to outright winning a race (kind of…) to doing my first Ironman 70.3 that landed me on the cover of several magazines and print ads, to finishing a full Ironman, to finally capping it all with three races in one day and meeting Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist Simon Whitfield who personally presented me with my Series Championship calling me crazy upon hearing that I did 3 races in one day. I also met 11 time Ironman Champion Lisa Bentley and even had the opportunity to train with her one weekend in Guelph.
Done it all, right? It was such an epic life journey that physically and mentally changed me forever.
But as George Costanza might say, “I’m back baby!”
So here is a breakdown of what I will be facing next July. The sport of triathlon is broken down into three disciplines. The first is the swim leg which varies in distance based on which type of race that you are doing, here is the breakdown of each type..
Give It A Try ~ 400m swim, 10km bike, 2.5km run
Sprint ~ 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run
Olympic ~ 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run
Ironman 70.3 ~ 1.9km swim, 94km bike, 21.1km run
Ironman ~ 3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42.2km run
I’ve already done this exact swim back in 2009 during a long course triathlon and can it envision the swim exit in my mind. This race as mentioned will be in Huntsville, using the Canada Summit Center as the transition area and start/finish line. This area was completely renovated back in 2010 for a G8 leaders conference and I haven’t seen it since it was completed.
My swim will be 1.9km in distance headed out away from the transition area out into the middle of Fairy Lake turning left a few times and then down river to the swim exit. It will also be what is called a wave start where several smaller groups, all age related, start 3 minutes apart. In a full Ironman race it is generally a mass swim start where all athletes start at the same time. With a wave start it stretches out the field and you have a lot less elbows and feet hitting you in the face as you swim.
When you finish the swim, you would then head back to the transition area where you take off the wetsuit and get ready for the next leg of the day, the bike ride.
This is a 94m bike ride around the Lake of Bays. My family and I have rented a cottage the past few summers on this very lake, and a few years ago we just happen to be headed up to the cottage to start our vacation and stumbled across the bike leg of this very race. These races are done on open roads that are not closed to traffic which can always make bike riding a bit more interesting. On this drive into our cottage, I quickly explained to all the kids in the car what was going on, how Daddy had done this race several years ago and I rolled down the windows and had all of them yell encouragement to the racers as we slowly drove by. I know first hand what the comments from spectators can do to lift an athlete’s morale, especially people who may be new to the sport and struggling out there on the course. It can put smiles on faces, and fill racers with a renewed sense of energy.
There are so many spectators there to cheer on their loved ones, and they share that love and support with all the racers over the course of the day. They may not realize it, but all that cheering and support goes such a long way on these long, and often very hot grueling days. I still can vividly here a man with a thick heavy French accent yelling words of encouragement during a marathon that I did, yelling “Come On Edward you can do it! I believe in you!” That comment filled me with such energy and got me running again as I had stopped to walk as it was towards the end of the race and I was running out of gas.
As you finish up the bike leg you would head back into the transition area where you shed your bike gear and slide on the running shoes for this…
… a leisurely 21.1km loop course in and around downtown Huntsville and there will be lot’s of cheering voices and spectators being a looped run course. This means that it is two laps before turning back towards the finish line and into the finishing chute. This is where the most spectators are, loud music is playing, there is an awesome and inspiring race announcer yelling out everyone’s name as they cross the finish line.
It is such an amazing rush and feeling coming down that finishing chute and crossing the finish line, it is such a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction finishing one of these races. The first time I finished this distance of triathlon, I cried that last 2km of the run reflecting on the last year of my life and the journey that I had just finished. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I literally jumped for joy into the air. That photo is one the one that would grace of the cover of magazines in the years to come.
I am pretty sure that I will have the same emotional journey again next summer reflecting on the past few years of my life and the journey that has lead me back to the sport that I love. I know this journey will continue to change my life in awesome and unexpected ways. I plan on sharing this adventure and all that I learn with all of you, enjoy as I know I will.
As if yesterday wasn’t already a fun filled adventure on it’s own, I decided that I needed to take advantage of the beautiful December day that we had been gifted. It was warm for December and the sun was shining brightly. The house was empty this afternoon as Emily was out with her friends and Megan was off during her own thing. I knew I had an intense evening on deck, developing and drafting a very detailed version of some house rules that I expect all of my children to follow, and hope to help Emily get her life back on track.
I grabbed my trail shoes, layered up with my run gear (breathable yet warm) put in my ear buds and cranked the workout playlist, set my watch and off we went.
Running for me has always allowed me the chance to clear my head and have moments of mindfulness. It allows my sub conscious mind to do what it needs to do, and in this case it was think about how I wanted to approach this situation with Emily and the recent events stealing and lying directly to my face.
There are a series of trails throughout Barrie, and exist in most towns that I have lived in all throughout Ontario. None better and more well maintained than the several years that I lived in Mississauga, thank you former Mayor Hazel McCallion who did a fantastic job for so many years maintaining and expanding the trail systems throughout that city. Often times in the winter these run trails would salted and sanded before I would head out on my early morning runs during my days of training for the Ironman race.
Where I live in Barrie there is only one real trail that snakes in and out of the subdivision near where I live passing by the school my children go and right down to the waterfront and expands from there dependent on which direction that you want to head in.
And of course there is a great trail all the way around the Bay into the old section of town… I digress as I am a bit off topic.
Running, while great for the cardiovascular condition and overall general health it is something I have enjoyed all my life. Except maybe during that period where I forgot how to run?!? Growing up I was an active participant in cross country racing all the way through grade school but lost touch with running until I was into my 30’s and getting involved in the sport of triathlon.
Today running is a big part of my overall fitness plan and today’s run was an out and back through these trails down to the water, with a sharp right for a few kilometers through the woods. I absolutely love running during the fall/autumn season when the leaves have changed colors or have fallen and covered the ground.
It was great today to see many families out today enjoying the beautiful weather, walking and holding hands, walking dogs and just enjoying nature. While running these are the things that I like to focus on, the smell in the air, the sights and sounds of the forest, listening to the sound of my breathing, barking dogs, the scampering of squirrels as I run by and the comments of folks that I pass on the trail.
It was my longest run in a good long while, covering 11.97 kilometers when it was all said and done. I was able to connect and appreciate nature, the waterfront for the second time today, the beauty and feeling of the sun on my face. It was a euphoric experience sometimes referred to as a runner’s high and boy did I feel it today. There comes a point during a long run, when your body is all warmed up, your muscles are giving effort, but all of a sudden the breathing becomes just a bit easier and your heart rate drops slightly making the run feel easier. It’s like setting the cruise control on car…
It’s next to impossible to get that feeling while running on the treadmill at the gym, which I had been doing for the last several weeks and today’s run just felt great. It’s much easier on your knees and joints than running on roads and sidewalks, there is much more of an elevation change and bends and twists in the trails forcing your body to use more of it’s muscle base to navigate these trails.
My favorite part of the run today was watching a family that included grandma, mom and dad, and three little girls laughing and giggling and having a good time. They kept calling for the youngest daughter to slow down so the rest of the family could catch up as she kept running ahead of everyone without a care in the world. It brought a huge smile to my face watching this child just be a child without a care in the world. I gave her a five high as I was passing by and got a nice big smile from on on my return trip back down the trail on my way back home.
After a good stretch and hot shower I felt amazing. And that my friends is the power of running.
There have been several life altering events in my past, and beyond family type things (marriage, children, divorce…) the sport of Triathlon has had the biggest impact for sure. The story starts in October of 2005 when my first wife and I separated, I was an inactive, unhealthy, unhappy 238 pound man. It was New Year’s Eve I had been sitting in a bubble bath reflecting on life and just how messed up things had gotten in a short amount of time.
Getting out of the tub I took a good long look at myself in the mirror and realized that I needed to do something about the reflection staring back at me. I was going to start dating again shortly, and with any luck and or charm on my part a woman was going to be seeing me naked again. I didn’t like what I saw reflecting back at me, how would she?
At that point in my life I did not know the difference between a protein, a carbohydrate and a healthy fat as my diet consisted of grilled cheese sandwiches, kraft dinner, hot dogs, pizza and whatever take out I would order. It also didn’t help that my job, as a Kitchen Manager for the Keg afforded me free food and drink on a daily basis. In my first five years as a manager I put on about 10 pounds a year, when I started managing I was a 6 foot 5 inch, 170 pound beanpole. Now replaced was a beaten and broken 238 pound man, whose every single pair of pants would not button up as I refused to buy a 38 inch waist pant.
I was into my early 30’s and had not done any form of exercise since I was a teenager, I smoked weed on a regular basis and that often led to the eating of whole pizzas in one sitting, and tons and tons of junk food. I think my personal record was 37 Halloween chocolate bars, and I knew that I was on the fast track to obesity?, diabetes? and who knows what else. It was that night I decided that I needed to do something about the direction I was headed.
That winter I started to workout on a beginner weight bench that I purchased at WalMart and started to speak to some friends at work about ways to change and things that I could do to improve my health. Two people in particular stood out, Jimmy Rego and Jeromy Mueller.
Jimmy was a server with the Keg, but had been a collegiate cross country runner for the University of Arizona back in the day. He literally taught me how to run, this is how naive I was, I did not know how to go for a run. Anyone watching me would see this guy walk out his door and try to run as fast as he could right from the start, and due to my years and years of inactivity I couldn’t reach the end of my street without my lungs exploding and fire in my sides.
We talked many nights about setting a pace, starting easy and building into the run, doing a combination of walk and run to build up my stamina. At the time it felt like I was being given the universe’s greatest secrets, and slowly overtime I increased my stamina and increase the distance. One story in particular sticks out as Jimmy had challenged me to do a long run to see what it would feel like. So I did, I had a 7km course that looped past my house and off I went, I don’t recall what the intended distance was but I do recall doing three laps of that circuit and when I got home I felt so elated at my accomplishment! Fast forward to later that night and I could not lift my legs or get out of bed, I had to crawl across the floor to get to the bathroom. It took about a week for everything to feel normal again, but I learned that day about how to push myself to accomplish some crazy things.
Jeromy was a fellow manager, and has his own story about how working out changed his life. He was a beast and trained hard everyday, and still does to this day. He invited me over to his house several times to workout, and through him I learned about proper form when lifting weights but more importantly proper nutrition. It started with post workout protein shakes and it was during this time he explained how a protein worked, what carbs were good for, etc… Again, it was like a light had been turned on inside my head.
The exercise has dropped my weight down close to 200 pounds, and it was the change in diet and increased nutrition cracked that barrier I had trouble passing and quickly dropped to about 190. It was an amazing six months, but for me something was still missing. I had joined the world of online dating, far different in 2007 than it is today and I actually met the lady that would become my second wife years later.
I had two young kids, Emily and Megan and the Keg had provided me a great schedule that allowed me to have my children Sunday morning through Wednesday morning when I would return them to mom’s house. Working a lot of evenings hours left many daytime hours to fill. Just sitting around by myself in the day became very hard to bare, and I needed to find something to do, a hobby, a sport?
My sister suggested that I come watch a friend of hers that was competing in the Milton triathlon in June, and while I didn’t end of going and watching the seed had been planted for the next evolution of my life. I began to do some research on the sport of triathlon, as honestly I had never heard of it, and I had no idea how many races were happening throughout Ontario in the spring and summer months. I did some research and found what I thought was the perfect course for a beginner, the Niagara Give it a Try race would be the one I decided to enter.
A Give it a Try triathlon is a 400 meter swim, followed by a 10km bike ride and then finished up with a 2.5km run. I picked this particular course as the swim was along the shore of Lake Ontario and they claimed you could touch the bottom the entire swim, perfect I wouldn’t drown. The bike ride was completely flat which again was perfect as I was riding a very old, and very heavy mountain bike, and then the run. I had a full cheering section with me there on that day, my dad, sister, ex-wife and both my children came out to watch and cheer me on.
I had trained for that day, but really had no idea what I was getting myself into. Being my first race every I had only the basic gear, no wet suit, no fancy bike, no spandex outfit and no light weight race shoes. Just my drive and determination to cross that finish line, in under an hour I had hoped. Walking down along the shore to get the swim start line, I noticed a dead fish lying on the shore and I thought to myself…
“What the hell have I gotten myself into?”
When the gun went off and I ran into the water to start, I didn’t take into account just how cold Lake Ontario water is, even in July. Everything inside me seemed to seize up as it was so very cold, but I managed to do a combination of front crawl, breaststroke and floating on my back when needed to finish the 400 meter swim (and being truthful it was the discipline that I had trained the least for). I did make it to the swim finish and did not have to be rescued by any of the lifeguards on duty, running up out of the water I saw both of my young ladies there cheering Daddy on. I made a point of stopping and giving each of them a hug and a kiss and I was on my way to the bike.
I knew biking would be my strongest of the three and actually had a pretty good bike, that indeed was flat with no hills to worry about at all. There were a few times when I did get discouraged, as my manhood was challenged when I saw many, many other athletes passing me on the course. Most I am sure where in much better shape than I was, and were riding bikes that most likely weighed much less than my ancient clunker. I must have given it maximum effort while I was out on the bike as when I got back to the transition area I was physically spent, yet I still had a 2.5km run to do!
I put on my best and bravest face for my family, although it felt like my lungs, sides, and legs were all about to explode. I smiled at them, and I ran, and ran right out of the transition area until they could not longer see me and immediately started to walk. I felt a little discouraged at my inability to run but I was still making forward progress… I eventually caught my breath, the lungs stopped burning so much and I was able to finish strong by running back into the chute, and across the finish line.
I had unbelievably finished my first triathlon, in just under an hour. The time to me didn’t matter and driving home afterwards I had such a sense of accomplishment that I had never felt before in my life. I loved this feeling so much that I would end up doing 4 more races that summer and fell in love in the sport of triathlon forever.
Reaching the end of this course, the journey I had taken and the feelings it left inside me, changed me forever.
Over the next three years I would go on to do some pretty amazing things in this sport, but that my friend will be another post here in the future.
I invite you all to get out there and Give it a Try! It might just change your life as well!
At the end of 2007 I had completed 5 Give it a Try races, the shortest distance that you can do. It’s a pure sprint, but a great place to start if you are a beginner and just getting into this sport for the first time.
That off season and over the winter I educated myself immensely into the sport of triathlon, taking courses offered at Guelph University to help my swim stroke, and train with some other like minded people. I invested in all the gear that would be needed as it certainly is not a poor man’s sport at all, wetsuits, bike equipment, spare tires, aero bars, saddle bags, unitards, and a big old bag to hold it all.