Training for a Triathlon


I signed up for the American School of Lusaka’s triathlon taking place on April 10.  It’s not a full triathlon, mind you.  I signed up for the intermediate option with six kilometers of cycling, a two-kilometer run, and a 200-meter swim.  I’m fit enough to complete the bicycle ride, but I still have some work to do to finish the run and swim.  I should be able to do the run after a month of preparation.  I decided that I will power walk if my legs or lungs fail me.  I power walk at about 70 percent as fast as I run.

I’m unsure, however, whether I’ll be able to finish the swim.  I measured our neighborhood swimming pool and calculated that I will need to do 16 laps in the pool to swim 200 meters.  I gave it a try this morning – it was freezing! – and swam just six laps before I quit exhausted.  Swimming uses a different set of muscles I haven’t exercised for quite some time.  Fortunately, I still have a month to prepare for this triathlon – time enough to build up my endurance.  I decided that each time I finish my power walk/run I’ll end it with a swim.  I wish I had time to do each event separately, but I don’t have enough time and figure I’ll need to practice doing all three at once before actually doing it.  Very likely my neighbors will do double-takes when they see some oddball using the pool in the dark.

My wife inspired me to try a triathlon.  She didn’t suggest it.  She led by example when she climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, a 19,000 peak in Tanzania, during the holidays earlier this year.  This pales in comparison to climbing a peak like Kili, and Jing accomplished it with even less training than I have had for this event.  I too would like to tackle Kili later this year, but I first need to push myself and do activities I’ve never done before to gear up for Kili – like doing triathlons and running road races.  I’ll decide at mid-year whether I’m ready to summit Kili and train accordingly.

Will I finish this mini-triathlon?  I’m not sure, but as the Little Red Caboose once said, “I think I can.”  If I do, I won’t be one of the first to cross the finish line.  I may not be able to finish the run or swim without stopping or walking.  But, I’ll give it my best shot.  The only one I’m racing against is myself.  Everyone else can pass me by.  As long as I cross the finish line, that will be enough of a victory for me.

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