In July 2003, I was sitting by a neighborhood pool, pleasantly fluffy-headed from the effects of a smuggled-in adult beverage. After watching lap swimmers go back and forth, I decided, "Hey, I can do that." Two lengths of choppy "freestyle" later, I was breathless and embarrassed. I had just turned 41 and at about 70 pounds overweight, was way too young to feel so old. I remembered being stationed in Hawaii when I was a Navy officer in the 80's; my coworkers were doing what was then called the Tinman Triathlon. I remembered with some shame that I had missed that opportunity and wasted some prime years of fitness. That's when I decided to become a triathlete.
After the beverage buzz wore off, I did some research and was enthralled. I hate to run, and hadn't ridden a bike in decades, but I love to swim. All together, the sum of the three looked way better than the individual parts. I bought some books, starting with "Triathlon for Ordinary Mortals," and found a reasonable walk-to-run program on www.beginnertriathlete.com. Like any good desk-bound non-jock, I made up an Excel chart on my lunch hour and posted it on the side of the fridge. I marked off each day's walk with a diagonal blue line. My dog loved the increased activity, too. My partner, on the other hand, thought that I was insane.
Backing up for a second, I say "desk-bound non-jock" because that's what I am. I've never been an athlete.
Ever. I was an honor student growing up, a band "fag," a nerd. Not that I don't love sports. There aren't many Southerners male or female who don't have a passion for the regional religion of college football. I am and always have been a devoted (non-Southern friends say maniacal) follower of the University of Florida Gators. I just never played sports. I was uncoordinated and uninterested in being sweaty. I couldn't even play softball. Some dyke, huh?
But this triathlon thing had me between the ears. I read and read and read. I walked, then I jogged. I swam in the pool at the county rec center and rode Life Cycles when the weather turned cold. I was even nice to another gym-goer who was as much of a Miami Hurricane as I am a Gator. I bought a bike on eBay. I entered some events.
Ten months later, minus a few pounds of fat that were replaced by muscle, I stood by the pool, ready for my first triathlon. I had competed in the Bethesda, Maryland YMCA tri a few weeks earlier as part of a relay team, but this time it was all on me. Five laps in the pool, 3.5 miles on the bike, and a 1.2 mile run is probably not enough to get any respectable triathlete out of bed on a rainy Sunday morning. For me, though, this was a Big Deal.
One, two, three, four, GO! A nudge on the shoulder from the race director, and into the pool I went. Uh-oh.
Goggles immediately filled with pool water. &$#%!!! I got to the far wall and adjusted, but it was too late. I was over-excited, breathing too hard, and couldn't find the groove I had practiced in so many Total Immersion drills. It was back to freestyle-breaststroke-freestyle and hoping for the best.
I didn't mind the crowded pool lanes, but I really could have done without Mr. Furbag, who kept pulling my shoulder away to pass, especially at congested lane turns in the "snake" formation. Hey, pal, you've touched the side. If you wanna pass me (and the 3-4 others at the edge), go around. Or under. I'll deck you next time.
I figured my swim was toast, so I took the ladder out of the pool and strode out to the transition area. "Wanna go for a bike ride?" I asked the volunteers. Bet they hadn't heard that one all day! Dork.
It had poured rain while we were swimming, but I had put my running shoes and socks under a bucket. Much more pleasant to put on soft cotton. Aaahhh. I slurped some Gatorade (once a Gator...), buckled in, and headed out.
Although it had stopped raining, the road was slick with fresh rain, all of which Godzilla kicked up on my nice fluffy socks. I know that "Godzilla" isn't much of a name for a sleek machine like my QR Kilo, but I was amazed by how much of a beast this machine was (in a good way) after I rode it for the first time. The name just popped into my mind. I put a bendable plastic alligator on the handlebars to ride with me. Geek.
My worries about not being able to properly inflate the tires that morning were allayed somewhat when I realized that a little more rolling resistance might give me better traction on the turns. This was especially important since I primarily train on a rail-to-trail bed. Not too many turns there. But the ride wasn't too hard, and I managed to ride my goal speed of about 15 mph, despite being winded from the swim.
I cruised back into transition and gulped some more Gatorade. Because it was such a short event, I put dual-sided pedals on Godzilla to avoid changing shoes. Uh oh. As soon as I set out ... slosh-slosh-slosh. Runners were already lounging about, eating post-race bananas, and here I was, heading out with water balloons on my feet. Great. But hey, it's only a mile, I can handle it, right?
Then came the Big Uh Oh. Knife-like pain seared up my outer legs from my ankles, while my calves seized up in charley horses. Oh-kay. I can run on knives and charley horses, or I can walk on knives. Walking will take longer. Run, walk, run, limp, walk, run, try not to cry. Quitting is not an option. The charles horses went back to their stall about 100 yards into the course, but the knives just kept going. I just realized that the sooner I got this over, the sooner it would be done. Run, walk, try not to cry. Rinse, repeat.
Finally I finished. My first triathlon was in the books. As soon as I took the shoes off and walked a bit, the knives were gone. The shoes. I should known. I didn't mention buying new shoes over the past ten months because ... I hadn't done it. They had finally given up.
I made some new friends, collected my sodden stuff, and trudged home with no clue about my final time.
Didn't matter. I finished my first triathlon.
Postscript: Since that day, I went on to complete several sprint triathlons, a 10-mile run,a half-marathon and an Olympic-distance triathlon, the Reston, Virginia Triathlon. This is the distance in which I am competing at Gay Games 2006. Even though it is the morning after Opening Ceremonies, I am NOT missing Opening Ceremonies! I participated in Gay Games New York in 1994 and played in various band-related events.
But this time, there's no band for me. This time, I'm a triathlete.
— Jamie Roberson, Reston, Virginia
|7-9 September 2012|
Brussels Gay Sports will offer a weekend of fun and fairplay in the capital of Europe, with volleyball, swimming, badminton, and tennis, as well as fitness and hiking.
Learn more HERE.
|26-28 October 2012|
The success of the first edition of the QueergamesBern proved the need for an LGBT multisport event in Switzerland. This year will be even bigger, with badminton, bowling, running, walking, floorball.
Learn more HERE.
|17-20 January 2013|
Sin City Shootout
The 7th Sin City Shootout will feature softball, ice hockey, tennis, wrestling, basketball, dodgeball, bodybuilding and basketball.
Learn more HERE.
|13-16 June 2013|
IGLFA Euro Cup
After this year's edition in Budapest at the EuroGames, the IGLFA Euro Cup heads to Dublin for 2013, hosted by the Dublin Devils and the Dublin Phoenix Tigers.
Learn more HERE.