Friday, April 3, 2009


[NB: I have many posts in the works -- about travel and the opera and the like. Be patient!]

My roommate S is on UCLA's triathlon team, which strikes me as an all-around insane way to spend your spare time. He's up all hours of the day going to training sessions and spends his weekends on long road trips to participate in races and basically seems to have very little free time.

So when he asked me if I wanted to participate in the triathlon team's annual fundraiser -- the IronBruin -- I told him he was crazy and left it at that. I've taken to jogging a bit and I bike all the time, but I can't swim worth a damn. So why spend $35 on an admission fee just to embarrass myself? That's crazy talk!

So why, then, did I find myself crawling out of bed at 4:30 in the morning (on the morning Daylight Savings switched over, no less!) to head on to campus for a godawful early triathlon? I couldn't tell you. I'm still not quite sure.

But I was there, and I was committed. It was a bit of a fiasco getting everything in order -- there are a whole bunch of numbers you have to attach to your bike and body and I hadn't the slightest clue how to do so. And then after a short warmup, I had to stand in the cold (at 7:30 in the morning in only a swimsuit!) waiting for my turn to hop in the pool.

I was pleasantly pleased with my performance. After I had committed to actually running the race, I began a rigorous training program to spruce up my swimming performance (30 minutes, once a week). And it showed! In the swimming pool, I found myself consistently stuck behind slower swimmers, trying to edge my way forward -- in fact, I found myself swimming the breast stroke a few times when the pool clogged up.

Then, of course, there was the transitions. Between different sports, you have to run into a fenced off area, change into appropriate gear, and begin the next section. Between swimming and biking, this means toweling off and throwing on shoes and a shirt. Nothing too hard. This took most people 30 seconds. It took me two minutes. Not my most impressive performance.

But then, thankfully, I did well again on the biking -- well enough that I had somebody yell at me "Damn, where do you train!" as I lapped him. The only people passing me were wearing superslick aerodynamic helmets and riding bikes with only five spokes, so I didn't feel too bad about that.

Of course,that could only mean I would totally bonk out on the run. I did OK and never stopped. And I tried the strategy of picking somebody immediately in front of me and muttering (hopefully under my breath) "You're my rabbit. You're my rabbit" and trying to catch up to them (or at least keep pace). It didn't work. My rabbits all got away. Three cramps and a slow, embarrassing jog later, I strode across the finish line.

Overall, though, it went really well. It was a 400m swim, 13.5km bikeride, and 5km run and I finished in 1:27, placing a respectable 70th place (out of about 300). Pretty decent!

It's weird to think about myself as athletic. I'm still, of course, not much of an athlete. Most of my life, though, I've been particularly anti-exercise and sports, and it's only in the last couple years that I've actually managed to get any real interest in sports (or ability, for that matter). So it's really cool to have participated in a competition like this and realize how much different I am now (people who haven't seen me in years keep on telling me I'm thinner, I guess, which is something, too).

I can't imagine doing more than one of these a year -- it was fun, but I had trouble walking for a week. Still, though, I'm signing up for a swimming class this year, and damned if I don't take 35th place next year!


  1. Awesomtacular! Congrats, man. Those are some pretty man-tastically sexy pictures of you, by the way.

    You weren't exactly un-athletic in Eugene, though. We lifted weights, played frisbee, and there was also the soccer team. You also did the Bridge Pedal (which I'd like to do this year, schedule permitting).

    But anyway: Isn't change and personal growth awesome! I'm serious. It rocks. Over the past few years I've been really impressed with you. Seriously, man. Good job.

  2. Mantastic indeed. I'd expected you to have to swim in the Pacific or something, but pool laps makes much more sense, although the fact that you were never at risk of shark attack does remove a bit of the lustre, for me at least. Tell them to put sharks in the pool next time.
    Sharks or no, still terribly impressive. What's next? Decathlon? Biathlon? It's shootin' shit and skiin', what's not to like?

  3. Thanks! Why participate in a sporting event if you can't get mantastic pictures, no?

    It's true that I was becoming somewhat athletic in Eugene, but I would never have dreamed of launching myself into a shark-infested pool before. Rip, you have inspired me.