I am a Triathlete

I did it. I finished the 2023 Chicago Supersprint Triathlon on August 26, 2023. Sure, the swim was wasn't really the "real" swim, but the 125m splash-n-dash was even harder than the swim. Here are the distances for the supersprint I did:

Swim: 375m (125m splash-n-dash) Bike: 6.2mi Run: 1.5mi

It's approximately one half of a sprint, which is one half of an Olympic distance triathlon, but I did it. I trained hard, too. I decided to commit to this triathlon on June 28th, and really hit the ground running July 1, which left me with ~2 months of training time to really level up my endurance. In July alone, I spent 33 hours training, and another 21 hours in August during the build up to the race.

I completed it in 1:04:03. Placed 94/96 in my age group, 275/296 in my gender, and 472/533 overall.

I want to spend a bit of time in this post talking about where I was when I started, where I was when I started the race, the decisions I've made moving forward, and my upcoming goals.

Let's start at the beginning...

376.8 lbs

That's what I weighed in March of 2023, and well on my way to getting way heavier. Sedantary lifestyle, excessive drinking, and eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and however much I wanted. I really don't like the clichés that get used when explaining these kinds of situations, but I realize now, now that I'm on the other side of it, that those clichés are there for a reason. It really was a rough path, and one I can confidently say I was going to be on for a long time had I not changed it.

I wasn't moving my body. I was staying up way too late, waking up mere minutes before I needed to be online for work (WFH life goes crazy), and I was ordering food for lunch and dinner. I was treating my body like a dumpster rather than a temple.

It sucked. Having to buy 4 & 5XL shirts. Being uncomfortable on my incredible trip to New Zealand while on the plane, and even potentially not being able to go on the most amazing adventure I'd ever been on (a fly-cruise-fly from Queenstown to Milford sound and back, the weather was bad so it was cancelled anyway). Always being sweaty, and not really being able to keep up with my friends when we went to functions together (or having them slow down just to accomodate me).

I got sick of it. So, I decided to change.

Discipline > Motivation

My goal was always to do a triathlon. In fact, I had convinced several of my friends to join me for the Los Angeles Triathlon in 2024.

So, in March, got a gym membership, and committed to just going to the gym once a day for three weeks. I just wanted to build the habit. I had read Atomic Habits by James Clear, and decided to spend the first week habit stacking. First, just wake up when I said I was going to wake up, and put my shoes on. Then, by the time I had my shoes on, I might as well go to the gym, so I did.

I wasn't committing to working out hard on those days. I just wanted to wake up, put my shoes on, and go to the gym. That's all.

I committed, and I built the habit of getting out of bed at 5:45am and being on the treadmill at the gym by 6:30am. I was only working out 4x a week (taking Fri/Sat/Sun off), but I was going, and that's what mattered. I did this for a few months, with a few work trips mixed in where I used the hotel gym to get my heart rate up. I stayed pretty consistent for about 4 months.

I decided one day to just see when the Chicago triathlon was, just to see. Sure enough, it was going to be at the end of August. So, I bought a bike, and started to change my training up a bit.

Tri-ing it on for size

It's hard for me to describe how quickly I became obessesed with endurance sports and endurance training. Once I read some stuff about Zone 2 training and had looked at some triathlon specific training schedules, it was game over. You mean to tell me I can work out two times a day, in two different disciplines, both for an hour at a time, and still get good rest and be able to go again tomorrow!? Sure can, and that's exactly what I did.

To give you some perspective, like I mentioned before, my total workout hours in July of this year were 33. In the previous month, I had 14 hours. The month before that I had 13. I more than doubled my monthly volume. I was obsessed. Running in the morning (well, more like walking with an incline to maintain z2 heart rate), and then a bike ride in the afternoon was my jam.

Then, I dove in deeper, and read 80/20 Triathlon, and adjusted my training plan a bit by introducing some interval training sessions and what I loved to call "Threshold Thursdays" where I'd spend the majority of my workout in zone 4!

It was a blast. Sure, it was hard, but in the 3 months of working out and habit building I had established between March & June, this was easy. I just increased volume and specificity. I also started to eat better. Each day for lunch, I was having a "pre-made" meal that I got in the grocery from Kevin's Natural Foods, and adding a cup of Minute Rice to it. Dinner was a turkey burger on a brioche bun with a bag of frozen veggies.

I even did some open swim practice through Open Water Swim Chicago, where, with the help of swim and triathlon coaches, a bunch of people would swim in Lake Michigan and get prepared for the impending triathlon. Which is where I met my coach, Mark, which I'll touch on a bit later.

I think at this time, while the volume and zone 2 training were no doubt improving my fitness level, I really didn't know what I was doing. I was, more or less, guessing at what I should/n't do each day/week, and certainly was just winging rest days and active recovery.

But, I persisted. Today, as of writing, I'm down 35lbs and counting. Lots of pounds to go before my goal, but I'll get there with these new habits and new discipline.

The Triathlon

Supersprint or not, triathlons are hard. Individually, a nice swim, a good bike, and a run could probably be done by anyone. But when you chain them together, add a crowd with their phones out, and make everyone transition twice... shit gets exponentially harder.

I had 3 Goals:

  1. Finish
  2. Not last
  3. < 75 mins

I completed the supersprint in 1:04:03. Placed 94/96 in my age group, 275/296 in my gender, and 472/533 overall. I hit all three goals. I'm damn proud of myself for that.

The bike still stands as my favorite of the three disciplines, and will stay that way for the foreseeable future (you'll read why in a minute). It was a blast competing in that race, and I can't wait for my next one.

Which brings me to my next and final point...

What's Next?

Well, I have a coach now. Mark from 606 Multisport accepted me as an athlete, and we've been training for almost two full weeks now. Let me be very clear... the gains I've already started to see in just a short 2 week time is remarkable. That's the focus from now on -- do what Coach Mark says and to a T.

As for races/goals, I have a list (naturally)...

There's room in there for an event in the spring and fall of 2024, and more than likely a warm up tri in the spring of 2025. I'm doing the damn thing(s), though!

You can follow along on Instagram and Strava. I live by two mottos while I train and lose weight:

  1. One More -- as in go one more mile, one more lap, one more step, one more climb. Go one more. Go further. It's a saying that keeps me moving forward and keeps me grinding through the "good" pain.
  2. Locked In -- a supreme focus on the process & the goal. Locked in on losing weight and increasing my fitness. Locked in on becoming a better athlete. Locked in on being better than I was yesterday.

So, go one more, and stay locked in.

Until next time.