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Curtis’ Laws

“Lessons learned in my first year of triathlon or, Things I Gained in the Fire”.

As a latecomer to the sport after nearly 30 years of sloth (my first sprint tri was earlier this year on June 24, 3 days before my 49th birthday. You do the math. Gift cards to Ye Old Tri Shoppe are welcome.), I thought it might be instructional to do a post-mortem (not quite literally, but close) of my first year in triathlon.

I thought about playing it straight but a) I can’t write that way and b) Zin and Mel and Paul and Matt and, well, just about anyone who trains or races with me, would giggle out loud if I pretended to give serious advice about going fast and I’m-not-going-to-give-them-that-satisfaction so here goes nothing. Well, not nothing, but a couple of “LAWS OF TRIATHLON”.

Law of triathlon number one – it is not as hard as you think it is.

You may not be fast, but with a little dedication, some help and encouragement from a club or a coach, and maybe a little shaming (OK, sometimes it takes a lot of shaming) from your significant other/family/friends after you spend all that money on wetsuits, bikes and other stuff they never knew even existed, you can finish a triathlon. Of some sort. Probably. Eventually.

Corollary to Law One – it is not as easy as you think it is.

Finishing is one thing. Not getting defensive when someone whose grandchildren might be in your age group, swimming in a 70s vintage speedo, riding a penny-farthing bicycle, running in one wooden clog and one flipper wearing a ragged “Wally World” t-shirt, finishes their run as you roll into T2 on your shiny new carbon fibre “Italian Stallion!” will be more difficult. The grandchildren, in the crowd to support ol’ pops, will silently mock you as you limp across the line in your $400 barefoot running shoes and technical (aka “expensive”) tri-suit made by a manufacturer whose name you aren’t quite sure how to pronounce. Train harder. P.s. not saying this happened to me ok it did but I had a cramp I swear.

Law Two – You will hate it.

At some point in the swim you will be sure you are going to die. LAKE ZOMBIES! You will say to yourself “I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN AND IF I SURVIVE I WILL KILL THAN SUMMABICH THAT GOADED ME INTO THIS”. You will not die. You will do it again. The last part is discretionary. You will have similar thoughts on the bike. “HOW IS IT POSSIBLE TO GO UPHILL, INTO THE WIND, FOR ALL 40k, AND WIND UP BACK WHERE I STARTED?”. The run is almost entirely self-loathing.

Corollary to Law Two – You will love it.

(caution, serious bit here) Life is not about just doing what is easy. Truly living requires stepping out of your comfort zone, feeling a little fear and yes, even a little pain. You will rarely feel more alive than when you have been in agony, and fought through and reached your goal, regardless of the opinion of the chip-time god. There may have been some lows, but I can say with unshakeable conviction and satisfaction that some of my greatest highs this summer, and indeed in a very long time, were forged in the fire of doubt, and tempered with pain and humility. (ok serious over) Post-event depression is a thing. The day after a race you will feverishly scan the interwebs for an event, any event, to slake your thirst for more. Caution – this can lead to unintended consequences, such as a tri in the morning and an obstacle course race in the afternoon. This is not advised.

Law Three – It will make you more interesting.

Friends and family will love to be regaled with your tales from T2 and stroke by stride recital of The Great Sprint Triathlon of 2017.

Corollary to Law Three – No, no it won’t.

“I SWEAR IF YOU SAY THE WORD SPLIT ONCE MORE I WILL SPLIT YOUR HEAD OPEN WITH A CLIF BAR”. Do not be alarmed if your spouse is googling “Whole Life Insurance” and “Involuntary Commitment”. Pro-tip – Do be suspicious if he/she “accidentally” leaves the browser on the recipe for “Arsenic and Hemlock Protein Smoothie”. It’s not for them.

Law Four – Tri-buddies

The quality of the triathlon experience is directly proportional to the calibre and character of the people you encounter in the course of training and competing. I had a stellar summer. You know who you are.

Have a great winter, and hope to see you around T1.

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