Sunday, March 23, 2008

Where to begin?

Somewhere around 15 years ago I was first introduced to the sport of triathlon. Now I could say that it was Mark Allen or Greg Welch or Dave Scott that drew me in, but that's not quite it. As a high school athlete, running cross country and track, I found myself to be a good but not great. My summers were spent mountain biking in the local Black Hills Mountain Bike Association and running trail and road races. I hung around a great group of guys, that had my same passion for getting outdoors and competing. I also had a great coach, Pat Hayman, who lead by the example that he would put in every mile and then some. He ran, mountain biked, road biked, and to top it all off he did a little sport called triathlon. Now it wasn't like I had never heard of the sport before, I had on occasion spent a Sunday morning watching a re-broadcast of the Ironman World Championships. I just never thought I would do one. I didn't even realize that Wyoming had such things.

Training back then was important to me. I wanted to be more than mediocre and adding the disciplines of swimming and road cycling seemed like the way to go. I had swam competitively in elementary and middle school, but somehow ended up wrestling when I got into high school. Getting back into the pool felt great, I had lost my gills but I had years of form practice to fall back on. Road cycling on the other hand was something new, the only time I biked on pavement was to get to the trails. I didn't own a road bike, I didn't even own a good mountain bike (Shogun). Following my coach's lead, I hit the road and began training to be a triathlete. My triathlon training back then was sporadic to say the least. When it came time to try out my first race, the Laramie Triathlon, I took the easy road and swam the 500 yd leg on a relay team of my buddies. I watched as people not nearly as young, not nearly as fit, went out there and did all three sports. I new then, that I could do it and the next time I would. A few weeks later I was signed up for another race and this time I was going all the way. The race started in an outdoor pool. I borrowed my little brothers mountain bike, because it was lighter than mine. And I ran the whole race in a Speedo and a tank top that was too big, so it looked like I was wearing a short dress. I finished though, the Torrington Lions Club Sprint Triathlon or something like that. I can't remember how I did, but I was hooked.

Over the next couple summers I traveled around and did several other races in Wyoming and Minnesota. I bought a used Trek 1500 (Teal and Pink) off a buddy, it had bull horn aerobars with grip shift and a lycra rear disc wheel. My brother still has that bike. Soon though, my priorities changed to chasing girls and rock climbing. After graduating high school I stopped racing all together. I still did an occasional running race, but not much else. I did pursue a new endevour though, wildland fire fighting. It started as a great way to earn money for college and turned out to be a career. Now here I am 15 years later with a great job, a wife and a dog. What more could I ask for?

Last summer while contemplating the fact that I would turn 30 in a few months I started thinking about the good ole days. I remembered how much I had enjoyed that feeling of pushing my body to limit. I decided to give it another tri. I went down to my local bike shop and picked up a brand new road bike. I figured even if being a triathlete wasn't all I remembered, at least I could do some road riding. I signed up for the local sprint tri just a week after receiving my new bike and it was exactly as I had remembered. I was back in it and this time it was full on. I rushed out and bought several little gadgets. I signed up for an olympic distance race two weeks later and won the thing. Of course myself and a 50+ year old local were the only individuals to do the olympic race, but none the less I was hooked. Since then I have done as much reading, researching, and listening to podcasts as possible. I am so encouraged to hear the stories of others; the successes and the heart breaks. I figured that since I have been spending so much time feeding off of everyone else, it was probably time that I tell my story. I don't know where this blog will lead, but one thing is for sure. There aren't many (any) blogs by Wyoming triathletes and I feel it's time to change that.

1 comment:

runnergirl said...

Hey LJ. I've just spent the last half hour reading your blogs. My first thought was, I didn't know you were that old! ha ha. My second thought was that you are a great writer and bring a lively picture to mind with your stories, my third thought was that it is past time that Wyoming has some athletes out there on the web and you have inspired me to also start a blog about my athletic endeavors. So I have just created with a story of my first Olympic distance tri last year. Thank you for your ispiration!!