Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Turning 40, my goal was to complete a triathlon

by Lori Simeunovic

Like unicorns and Victoria's Secret models, triathletes were always elusive, almost mythical creatures to me. Then I became one. Sort of.

It was a surprise to all who knew me, and certainly to me, when I announced my intention to complete a triathlon the year I turned 40. Never mind that, at 39, I wasn't particularly buoyant, didn't own a bike and had last run more than two kids and 20 pounds ago.

Physical fitness had never been my forte. If I'd applied myself in high-school physics with the same fervour that I faked cramps to get out of gym class, I'd be the head of NASA.

I decided to train with a friend from work, and she brought in some women from her gym. I soon realized that, as a team, we were doomed: They frequently met for 30-kilometre bike rides in bad weather (I still didn't have a bike); they regularly bragged of doing a double cardio pump class prior to our swim practice (I didn't belong to a gym and was still swimming with a flutter board); and they obsessively watched live feed from the Tour de France (I devoured Pringles during The Bachelorette). The last straw was seeing them have the same reaction to power shakes that I had to cheesecake. It was clearly time for me to go solo.
I scoured bookstores looking for the perfect training guide, passing quickly over covers with terrifyingly sculpted bodies until I found Jayne Williams's Slow, Fat Triathlete. It was the perfect how-to guide for normal people, offering such insightful chapters as Losing Your Tri Virginity and reassuring me that I would do just fine on my borrowed mountain bike. With less than two months until my race, I finally began to train in earnest.

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