Let's get this out of the way right up front, the idea of competing in a Triathlon is just not on my radar. I'm guessing it's not on most of our radars. I mean, seriously, that is one grueling event that would probably incapacitate most humans. But, there are those who seek to test themselves, and more power to them. I only wish I was in that kind of shape.
SB Nation's own Ryan Hudson is one such character. In late June, he participated in a Triathlon that was the distance of a Half Ironman. Yup, that's swimming, cycling and running, one right after another, for long distances. Ryan has shared his story over at Stride Nation, SB Nation's blog dedicated to running news. It's a great read, detailing one man's struggle with his body, and notions of quitting, persevering, finishing, disappointment and learning. From the first moments when the current in the swimming portion was threatening to overwhelm Ryan, he had to make a decision - continue or DNF (Did Not Finish).
Having made the turn, now I was swimming parallel to the shore, and directly into the current -- it literally felt like I was swimming in place. It is difficult to put into words the frustration felt when you sight the next buoy, put your head down and swim hard for 10 minutes, then look up again and swear you're no closer to said buoy. It was around this time I began to notice my left arm was not really ... there.
I mean, it was still attached, obviously, but something was clearly wrong with the way I put on my wetsuit (or maybe it just doesn't fit properly?) because it was constricting to the point that my left hand was losing blood flow and the entire arm was nearly useless in the pull. I tried to adjust it a few times, but to know avail.
I thought about quitting roughly 17 times -- the kayak was RIGHT THERE -- but I have never DNF'd in a race, and I didn't want to break that streak.
Ryan goes on to detail everything that went wrong along the way, but in the end, he did finish the race. It's definitely a story worth reading so go over and check it out. His parting words?
I still love the sport, and love training and racing, and I understand "embracing the suck", but seven hours of suffering is not as fun as say, racing for a bit more than two-and-a-half hours.
Just all part of the learning process, I suppose.
In case you didn't know, SB Nation has a handful of blogs dedicated to different sports that don't necessarily fall into league or team formats. You can check them out below:
Stride Nation - Running
Podium Cafe - Cycling (Keep up with the Tour de France)
And Down The Stretch They Come - Horse Racing
Outsports- Sports & Gay Athletes