A few months back, my wife approached me with a simple request – don’t die. She was implying that I begin to exercise in order to save the old ticker. Little did I know that exercise is one of the most gratifying experiences known to man…if that man was a self-masochist. So unless you’re running from a predator, I wouldn’t recommend it. But I told my wife I would do it, so I thought I should have a goal to keep me on track. A doctor friend of mine challenged me to a triathlon in March, and I thought, “perfect.” Swimming, cycling and running. Can’t be that hard, right? Actually, my first thought was “Crap. I want to quit and I haven’t even started training yet.”
I’m not really worried about the swimming portion of the triathlon, because I’ve always been a good swimmer, and I’ve been surfing for ten years. Sure, I’ll have to train a bit, but the swim isn’t what I’m concerned about. Actually, I can do any of the three independently – it’s just doing them all in succession that scares me. I should tell you that the triathlon I’m doing is the sissy version. The lengths of each event are quite a bit shorter than a normal triathlon, but I’m not ashamed – it’s still way more than I ever thought I would do. (Actually, I haven’t even registered yet because I want to give myself the option of backing out at the last moment).
I started running shortly after my wife threw down the gauntlet. Everyone told me that it would be tough at first, but that I would become obsessed. I didn’t believe them, but wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. I bought the right shoes, downloaded a running app, and hit the road. After months of consistent running, I’ve only got one thing to say about it. Running still sucks.
Now, on to cycling. I don’t have a road bike, so I called my father-in-law. He’s got a legit, expensive road bike, which he agreed to let me borrow. The first thing I noticed about the bike was the seat. I might as well have branding irons glued to my crotch. I rode it twenty yards to the mailbox and I’m still not sure if I’ll ever be able to father children again. I knew I had to get padded cycling shorts, but there are two problems with that. Number one, I don’t wear shorts – ever. Number two, there is nothing more embarrassing than cycling shorts. I picked up a pair on Saturday at a local sports store in preparation for my first ride on Sunday. I got changed into my cycling gear and gave my wife a quick teaser before heading out the door. I was nervous to be out in public with these offensively tight shorts because, well, they tell a little too much of the story if you know what I mean. Basically, they are socially acceptable boxer-briefs. Except that they’re not really socially acceptable. This is where cyclist fool themselves.
Ultimately, I took to the country and completed a twelve mile ride with only mild pain. I’m told that eventually, I will get blisters in parts of myself that even I couldn’t see in a room made of mirrors. This is not comforting. As bad as that sounds though, I will say this, cycling beats running any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I never thought I’d get into it because cyclists look like toolboxes, but I might have to join their spandex ranks and swallow my pride.
The triathlon is still a month away, and I’m not training as seriously as I should, but at least I’ve found one part of the race that I might actually enjoy.