If you have worked out with Team Training New England in any of the prior years, you may know me as Lynne Tapper’s husband or “the guy with the camera.” My given name is Leland Brandt and I (deep breath) have never…done a triathlon. I’ve never thought about, fantasized about, or even had nightmares about doing a triathlon. I’ve been content as the family sag wagon, spectator and silent (or not so silent) partner. And yet, today I found myself huddling with 13 other people at Cornerstone Aquatics Center for an open-water swim clinic as preparation for my first triathlon. How the heck did I get here?
I’d like to say that this is part of a life-long goal. It’s not. There was little that appealed to me about this sport. The hours are atrocious (who needs to get up that early?). I didn’t learn to swim until I was 13 (long story), my bike sends me “I miss you” cards, and running is a civil war between my body and my brain. But, as 2012 was ending, I decided that at my ripe old age (42) it was time to be a little less comfortable. I christened 2013 “The year of saying “Yes” to things that don’t quite scare me, but certainly make me uncomfortable.” However, that’s a mouthful, and frankly, too much to contemplate. So, I’m using the shorthand of “The Year of Living Uncomfortably.”
Part of this movement has prompted me to start attending networking functions, because I’m more “business shy” than I’d like to admit. Having to get up in front of strangers and describe my marketing business would normally make me reach for a bottle of Tums. But, with the encouragement of a good friend, I’ve begun to tackle that hurdle.
The other part was to do a triathlon. I imagine the irony isn’t lost on those who know me. I’m married to a life-long endurance athlete. Where I’m ready to stop, she’s just breaking a sweat. But, Lynne has never pushed me to join her on her athletic escapades. She’s secretly hoped possibly, but never pushed. How have I been able to avoid it until now? I imagine many of her friends have wondered the same thing.
So, I finished off 2012 by running a 5k with my 7-year old son. This was the first road race I’d run in over 12 years. It was cold and crowded. My son ran out of gas just after mile 2 (I’m not criticizing, just passing along information), so the last mile was made up of 90% coaxing and 10% jogging. But, we finished.
Then, in January of 2013, my 11-year old daughter and I did an indoor triathlon. She did the swim portion (brilliantly) and I did the 20-minute bike and run. I don’t think any Kenyans would be scared by my pace, but it was several steps in the right direction.
So, when Lynne asked me this week if I would be doing the Super Bowl Swim Clinic, I surprised myself and said, “yes.” I’m not in the best swim shape (yet), but did enjoy the experience. Swimming without lane lines and all the normal niceties of personal space was eye-opening. The drills exposed me to having feet in my face, churning water all around me, and a sense of chaos and claustrophobia that made me glad my first experience with a race start was in a pool. The negatives were that I did feel a moment or two of panic and that I probably need to do more work in the pool. The positives were that I didn’t have an actual panic attack and that when I exited the pool, I did so with a smile on my face.
This is the first of many installments of my first-time tri diary (hence “The Triaries” title). I hope that it helps other first-timers or potential first-timers get a sense of what training for a race like this might look like.
Posted February 3, 2013