Triathlons. The truth for beginners.

Triathlons. The truth for beginners.

It was the year 2004. Three years before cancer. One year before kidlets. 3 years after marriage. 10kg overweight.

Recognizing I was far from, well anything, I decided to take on the fantasy of a triathlon. I wrote an article with the following:

… I am ready, I am willing, but am I able? I guess in the upcoming months I will find that out …

Three claims of triathlon training

Now let’s just address these one at a time shall we? Was I out of my mind making those claims?


Ummm … no … sure I was ready for putting in the work at the training track/pool, sure I was ready for people asking, “Huh? Triathlon?…do you shave your legs?,” but what I was not ready for was the effect this decision was to have on life in general, take for instance:

I don’t remember seeing an article titled “Triathlon Training and How To Keep Your Job”, or perhaps “Triathlons … Why You Need a Bike and Why You Can’t Afford One” … and there was definitely not one titled “Triathlons and Drowning, Why They Don’t Mix.”

Perhaps all three of these will need to be my next submissions, because really they are important factors in a beginner’s development as a triathlete.


I was willing – as I’m sure we all are when we start off, willing to suffer some pain, willing to look like a toothpaste tube with a bit squeezed from the bottom when wearing your swimmers, willing to do eight hours of work in half that time because you spent the other four hours filling out your training log, replying to forum posts and reading articles on, and finally willing to admit that maybe, just maybe this is all kinda fun.


… able to: Run … check … Ride … check … Swim … oh bugger! So I seem to have kept my ability to run multiple kilometers from when I was a kidlet and the whole riding caper is a little (read only a smidge) better than I thought, but whoever invented 50m pools with a deep end should be shot! It is not a pleasant feeling seeing the bottom of the pool fall away as you struggle down the pool like cockroach in its last throws of life.

A public service announcement

Finally, I feel it is my duty to make a community announcement for all those other beginner triathletes out there who don’t yet own a bike:

A bike is NOT a piece of metal with a couple of wheels at either end and a steering thing to stop you running over old ladies. No! … a bike is a space-age “weapon of mass confusion” with carbon this, alloy that, and lots of things starting with Shimano on them. Never had I thought there was so much to know before purchasing a bike.

A Bikes Tale:

  • Fact 1: I have no bike making it rather difficult to participate in triathlons.
  • Fact 2: I have a bike shop at the end of my street with lots of shiny metal inside.

How I hoped it would go: I go into a shiny bike shop, say something like “I need a bike please … perhaps a red one because they go faster” and emerge with a shiny red bicycle that I can love and care for till the end of time.

How it went:

I go into shop, say “umm…errr… I need a bike for triathlons,” and then hear the following words in order of most usage: Shimano, Carbon, Light, Aerobars, Clipless, Fork, Sora, Thousand, Ninety Nine, Dollars, Credit Card Please. Needless to say I only barely got out alive and with my mortgage repayment in-tact.

The end result:

I spend two week reading websites, looking on ebay, bugging members for bike advice – learn “Sora” is not what you feel at the end of 50m freestyle but instead one of the many Shimano component lines, and finally, oh dear sweet mother of mercy … bid for and won my very first bike on!

My as yet unnamed baby, please send me some suggestions!

So what of all this madness?

So what has become of all this madness?

A desire to curl up in a corner whispering “You might not know … but Shimanos!?!” A need to find a nice comfy lounge and a rather large Crispy Cream donut? … well actually … I mean ‘no!’

Instead I am following the Sprint Program like it is the map to a hidden treasure, instead I am reading triathlon blogs 3 hours a day (and 2 hours at night ;)), instead I am contemplating what I would look like in lycra and if my wife would think it’s hot.

So I move on in the program, I now no longer bang the steering wheel when I am stuck behind a shiny legged, lycra clad person on a red road bike (I tell you … the red ones go faster!) but instead ease past slowly so I can see what brand he/she is riding and if it is has Shimano/Tiagra running gear and STI levers.

I now no longer look at the old lady crawling painfully up the pool in distain, but instead study her stroke. And no longer do I think, “should I walk or drive” but rather, “maybe I should run, where is my heart monitor?”

This is madness … but gee it is fun.

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