Last day-after-Thanksgiving, a group of my friends and I were issued a challenge. A group of early morning work-out warriors challenged us to find out which group was in "better shape"--the early birds or those of us who actually saw the YMCA during daylight hours.
We accepted the challenge and began building our teams and training.
The challenge was to participate in and complete the indoor triathlon.
I participated last year and had been pleased with more time. Actually, I was more pleased with the fact that I had finished the entire event in a good time (I wanted to finish in under an hour and a half) and with no injury. The event inspired me to run my first half marathon last fall and I decided that I wanted to try the indoor triathlon again this year just to see if I'd improved.
So, I accept the challenge and joined the ranks of the daylight hours YMCA group.
And then the training began.
It all reached its culmination Saturday morning when I hit the pool to swim to begin the event.
For me, the best part of the triathlon is the swimming. It's my favorite form of exercise and I've been working on my speed a bit in the past year. I wanted to knock some time off my speed from last year and for the past six or so weeks in Masters' Swim Team, I've been working on that.
The swim portion was 500 meters or 10 laps (one lap being once down and back). The biking portion was done on a spin bike and covered 12 miles. The final leg was running for 3 miles.
Last year, it took me an hour and twenty minutes to do all then.
This year, it took me one hour, five minutes and three seconds.
I won't lie to you...I'm pretty proud of the results. And while I was part of a great team of people and I enjoyed the competition against our fellow YMCA members, I will admit I loved pushing myself during the past year to get better and to keep in good physical shape. When I started back exercise on a regular basis a dozen or so years ago, my main goal was to and get back into shape while I was younger so that I might reap some benefits when I got older. I figured anything I could accomplish with keeping my heart in shape while younger couldn't hurt as I got older.
And that's what I've done all these years. Though I do find it amusing that I used to tell people I could never see myself running a half marathon simply unless something like a bear was chasing me...
And while I did enjoy the good-natured ribbing and banter that took place between our two teams, I was really happy to see a lot of old and new friends using this chance to work on their physical fitness and to improve their health. And then to hear the conversations Saturday about how to improve for next year's triathlon and wondering what other kinds of events could be done between now and then. (Last year, I decided that I'd try to do one "big" event every six or so months to give me a goal and to have something to work for....so now after I rest up a week or so, it's time to get ready for my second half marathon this fall).
So, I say to all of you who might be thinking about wanting to get into shape or might be bored with your current work-out routine that trying something new can be fun. Also, I say to you that if I can do it, you can do it. No, I'm not going to be Michael Phelps any time soon, but I still enjoy competing against myself in the swimming. I won't be running a four minute mile any time soon, but I do what I can. Lance Armstrong will beat me in a cycling race, but I still can push myself up and down imaginary hills in spin class. (I hope to try an outdoor bike at some point in the future to see if I like that....I imagine having wind, hills and other real world obstacles will be something entirely different).
I heard a line that the best exercise is the one you'll actually do. I agree.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get ready to hit the pool for some more laps this afternoon.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 4/12/2010 03:30:00 PM