>A New Personal Best

>Three years ago, I signed up for for the indoor triathlon at the Y. I’d just started running on a regular basis after years of avoiding it like the plague (unless I was being chased by bears or Alabama fans), but I felt like my swimming would be solid and my biking from spin class would be decent. Again, it’s indoor so it’s not like I’m doing hills…I can put on as much or as little tension as I want.

My goal then was to finish.

I finished that year in about an hour and fifteen minutes. Maybe an hour and twenty. I think I posted my time on the blog. Needless to say, I completed my goal–to finish.

I even took second place in the first time competitor division. All that and a cool t-shirt.

Last year, I decided to participate again. A lot of my drive last year was to show some improvement. Part of it was personal, part of it was that we had a couple of teams trying to one-up each other. I improved a lot–by as much as ten to fifteen minutes of time trimmed off my first run. I was happiest that I’d improved my swimming time a great deal. I’d worked hard on it and was happy with the results.

I got my t-shirt, ate some doughnuts (mmmmm…Krispy Kreme) and was pleased with my gain.

I also figured that I’m made one big step forward and that another one like it probably wasn’t in the cards for the next year. But I still signed up because I wanted to at least maintain where I was or shave off a few seconds. (I really wanted to improve on my swim team, if we’re being honest here, since it’s my favorite leg of the triathlon.)

No friendly competition this year, but just a lot of familiar faces all seeing what we could do. I like to do the first heat to get it done and to sit back and help out or encourage my friends who are also participating. And this year, while my swimming wasn’t as fast as last year, I still managed to set a new personal best, swimming 10 laps (500 meters), biking 12 miles and running 3 miles in 55:02. I’d hoped to maybe hit at about an hour this year and was happy to get under an hour.

For someone who could barely stomach the thought of running more than a mile a little over three years ago, to run 3 miles in about 25 minutes is a big accomplishment. Of course, it helps that the indoor triathlon lets you use your iPod while participating. A good mix of music helps a lot (especially when you start off with one of the greatest songs in the known universe, “Rocky Top” (did you really expect anything else?)).

Once again, I hit a personal best. And I had fun doing it. Oh sure, maybe in the midst of pounding out miles on the spin bike, it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but on some level I enjoyed it. And the rush you get when done (and cooled down) is fantastic.

But beyond the benefits of proving something to myself and being in better shape, I’ve found one of the biggest benefits of training is the friendships. I have friends from the shared miles running, spin classes and working on our swim techniques and form that I might not normally have. I’m amazed at some of them–how hard they work and the time they put into training. And I am slowly being tempted to try and actual outdoor triathlon at some point. I just need to find a bike.

And then I can start over on finding a new set of personal bests….


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