Guest Post: “The Stroke And Stride”
I didn’t write this story, but I did edit it for clarity/spelling/grammar. It comes to us courtesy of my brother, an inspiring young man whose middle name is “Adventure.” Seriously, that really is his middle name -- he had it legally changed and everything. Unlike his older counterpart, my brother is relentlessly athletic. He recently ran his first marathon, crossing the finish line at almost exactly 4 hours, which is an extremely impressive time considering he didn’t even train for the thing. That’s my brother -- the kind of kid who’ll just up and run 26 miles without thinking twice about it. It’s completely insane and completely inspiring at the same time. His latest quest has been to delve into the world of the Triathlon. In order to further this goal, he recently competed in a “stroke and stride” -- basically a Triathlon minus the biking. He wrote me an email to tell me the story, and I thought it was quite entertaining. I’ve obtained his permission to retell the story here, and I’m doing so because I think you all might get a kick out of it. Let the fun begin... So in an attempt to keep up my athletic ways, I headed out tonight to do my first “Stroke & Stride,” which is supposed to give me a good taste of this whole triathlete thing. Most of you do not realize the extent of the subculture that these triathlete people have created. I try to look like I know what I am doing -- I start by laying out my towel and shoes in the “transition area” because that is what everyone else is doing. I walk around for a little while trying to look like I am getting into the “mental zone,” when really I am just keeping an eye on what everyone else is doing in an attempt to mesh with this subculture. Next comes slipping into the wet suit, which is harder than it sounds, not to mention I am using a borrowed wet suit that I have never tried on before this day. Turns out it was way too big -- try to picture a baggy wet suit. So I'm chillin’ in my too-big wet suit when everyone starts heading to the water. I figure I should follow, right? Well, come to find out they are just doing warm-up laps, but I figure, why not? I guess I could warm-up too. What my warm-up laps taught me is that swimming in a wet suit is pretty different from swimming in a bathing suit, but I can’t back out now so what the heck. I get to the start line and remember a buddy once told me that a good strategy would be to start on the outside where it is not as crowded and angle toward the turnaround point. This would have worked out well had I not started in the front where everyone was faster than me. Try to picture 700 people in this lake, and as they are all trying to pass you, you get kicked a lot. After about 500 yards I was sure I was going to drown. I looked up at the buoy and there was just no way I was going to make it alive...but what were my options? So I pressed on. The swim course is basically 750 meters out and back, so to do the required 1500 meters (that’s just under a mile for the non-metric Americans), you have to do two laps. I figure I did over a mile given that I seemed to have trouble staying on course, but whatever. I was ready to give up altogether after 750, given the “I think I might drown” feeling I was having. But I tell myself that if I look back and I am not the last one, then I will go ahead and finish this thing out. Sure enough I was not the last, which was pretty surprising and frankly a little disappointing. I think the second lap ended up being faster -- go figure -- and I really don’t know why. I guess I just got into a rhythm or something. So I pop out of the water, dreading the idea of having to take the wet suit off. This task did not disappoint -- again, harder then it looks, especially when you are trying to do it in a hurry. Finally I managed to get out of the transition area and I am feeling pretty good at this point -- on to my area of expertise, a 5k run (3.2 miles for you non-metric). The first 500 yards in this go well, when all of a sudden I realize I have a pretty bad side cramp -- got to hate that. So I am just kind of jogging along, pressing on my side, hoping to release the pain. It gets better around mile one, when a middle-aged woman passes me. This is not acceptable at all -- middle-aged women do not need to be beating me. With this in mind I get a bit of an energy burst and finish the run pretty well, passing several middle aged women along the way. It would have been nice to pass a 26-year-old guy in full triathlete gear, but all those guys were drinking Gatorade and hugging their girlfriends at that point. All in all, I finish the thing in 57 minutes. The run took me a disappointing 23:40, which means the swim must have been about 31 minutes (with a couple minutes added in there for the taking off of the wet suit). Hey, that’s a personal record!! Guess I better go get a hug from my imaginary girlfriend and drink some Gatorade -- that seems to be what everyone else is doing.