By Larry Enos
I became a triathlete again.
Now, it could be said I never stopped being a triathlete since May 11, 2013 when I crossed the finish line at the Waukee Y Pieathlon Sprint. But the intervening five years were less than impressive.
In 2014 I was moving around between places, which made training difficult. At the 2015 Ice Breaker indoor triathlon, I left in an ambulance due to pneumonia and what I eventually believed was SIPE (Swim Induced Pulmonary Edema)—a condition where the heart literally pumps water into the lungs. In 2016, I broke my elbow, which caused me to lose almost a whole year of training.
I should take a moment and tell you, I am not your typical athlete. In fact, some would doubt I’m an athlete at all. I don’t have any high school or college track or swimming background, no history to return to, like many triathletes. I'm just a guy fascinated by the sport since he saw Magnum run the “Iron Man Classic” on television as a kid.
In 2017, I turned 50. I also went swimming for the first time in too many years and found I had no issues. No crinkly sounds in the lungs, no shortness of breath, and I felt really good in the water again. Maybe it was time to try tri again.
I did do the Life Time indoor triathlon in 2015 with no issues. In fact Kyle's Bikes featured me and a group of participants in a race report. Returning to Life Time would be a nice, no-pressure way to set the bar for the rest of the season.
I only had two weeks to prepare for the 2018 Life Time tri, so I did some minimal training: swimming as much as I could, bricks to make sure my legs wouldn’t seize up on me, and the StrongLifts 5x5 program for strength.
I got to the race early, checked in, and found my friends waiting for me by the pool. Life Time and St Jude’s actually gave them little pompoms and cowbells to cheer me on. The only thing was when I looked around, I realized I forgot my swim cap and goggles! I raced (gingerly, with wet feet) to the locker and got back to the pool just in time for a brief warm up. Before I knew it, the whistle blew and we were off.
Now, although I love swimming, I am a slow and terrible swimmer. By the time I reached the other side of the pool, I flipped over and backstroked the rest of the way. I didn’t stop, just slow and steady. At one point, I panicked a little when I felt water in my lungs, but kept going. I felt a little short of breath, but I knew I had 10 minutes for transition and the bike to recover.
When I got to the bike, I was still coughing, but kept turning above 80 rpm while my friend Andrea snapped pictures. I looked down at the end of the 30 minutes and was shocked there wasn’t a puddle of sweat under the bike. On to the run!
I felt a lot better when I climbed on the treadmill so I really hit it hard, but I began to think: Why am I here? Am I here to “win” or “beat” some arbitrary number or just to finish? While I’m here, most of my friends are sleeping in or just getting to bed! This is the first “race” of the year, one of many more. I dialed back the treadmill, and took an easy jog to finish. DONE!
As I celebrated my victory with my friends over a brunch consisting of a pile of prime rib and shrimp, I plotted my goals for the rest of the year: a return to Waukee in May for Pieathlon, then possibly the Iowa Games Tri (probably the most inexpensive triathlon in the area), and definitely the Escape Des Moines tri on Labor Day Weekend. My main bucket list race is the legendary Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, held every June.
Results for the Life Time Fitness Indoor Triathlon are online at Life Time Tri.
To learn more about indoor triathlons, check out the many articles on our blog.
Photo credit: Andrea Dion