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  1. #1
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    Triathlons right for type Z personality?

    I've been toying with the idea of doing triathlons for probably more than a year now, getting these: "Yes, I'm going to do it, dammit!" phases which are usually followed in short order by "Oh, god, no, I could never do it!" phases. A "Yes!" phase struck end November and though the "Oh, god!" phase kicked in after a while, I'm getting exasperated with this endless cycle and decided to just grit my teeth and do it so I can get it out of my system. But the more I read about actual races, the less enthusiastic I feel about it.

    No, I'm not scared of the effort, of the commitment. What worries me is that I might not have the right kind of personality. One internet site said triathletes are usually type A personalities, and frankly, I'm more like type Z.

    While I love exercise, I prefer taking it way easy. Not for me repetitions of exercises until my muscles want to fail. I'd rather do as many as I can without it becoming a pain, and next time do, say, one more. And the time after that, maybe two more, if I can. And if I can't, or if I actually do one less than before, so what? I'll get there eventually, and gradually. I do have an undeniable drive to always try for a little farther, a little more. But why rush?

    I have the ability to push myself really hard, sometimes stupidly so (sitting at the pc with a warm bean bag draped over my upper thigh, having taken my anti-inflammatories and keeping still).

    It's the stupid I want to eliminate. I need help to train more sensibly, and I admit I need to consciously train for what I want to accomplish: I do too much to get away with calling myself a casual cyclist and not follow a specific training programme any longer. All that leads to is an approach not suitable for the intensity of my physical activities, and resulting injury. I also want to bring in other sports I love, and swimming and running are things I've enjoyed in the past.

    But hell, I'm not competetive. If someone wants to pass me, I'd prefer to slow down so they can just get on with it and go away rather than speeding up to keep ahead of them. The physical effort doesn't scare me. The whole crowd thing makes me nervous, but at the same time I'm often really lonely on my biking adventures and it would be nice to connect with others who love this kind of thing, to have some company now and then.

    Aiming for triathlons is going to be a big financial outlay, and I so don't want to do it if I'm clearly not suited for the sport. I'd rather then spend the cash on a handful of bike touring trips to countries I haven't seen yet.

    So... those of you who are into triathlons, in your honest opinion, does it sound like I am a suitable candidate, with my type Z personality? If the answer is "No," I'm really keen to turn my focus to long distance and ultra long distance cycling, so either way, I'm going to invest in a road bike soon. In all honesty, I feel I can breathe a little easier when I think of LD/ULDC instead of Tris. But then, on the other hand...

    I'm going to go insane, this debate has been going on in my head just about forever. Someone, please help.

  2. #2
    Senior Member jetta-the-hut's Avatar
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    I feel like I am the same way and have been fighting this for a awhile now too, I finally got the bike and I've always been a strong swimmer but have no way to practice. Running scares the crap out of me, i've never been a runner I could ride 12 hours on a bike but didn't ever like running.

    I kept checking the SETUPEVENTS.COM website after stopping in a Tri-Store and being told I "could" do it. I am 230 LBs and 6'2" I never even thought about it, I am just fine sitting my but in front of the TV or computer.
    But having someone believe in you made the final change for me.

    My wife told me to go for it, there are 2 types of people who go to triathalons the ones who race, and the one who just want to finish. I know you can do it and its sounds like fun.

    I have now laid out a 4 race schedule mostly Sprints, all local in Wilmington,NC and Myrtle Beach. If all goes well and my training progress I will enter the Half Ironman in September.

    I have also made out a 6-8 week schedule on my calander of my training, i have 2 kids and work 12 hour days, i'll get up at 5:30 in the morning starting 4 days a week and the closer to race day I will be doing it 6 days and 1 day rest.

    Can we do it? Yes we can, I believe in you like my wife believes in me!

  3. #3
    Senior Member jetta-the-hut's Avatar
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    forgot to mention to I was drafted as a team rider in a ms150 ride 150 miles in 2 days by the local police dept. I haven't rode a bike anywhere close to that far in about 18 years

  4. #4
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    Jetta, thanks for your reply. It's such a relief to just know I'm not the only one who is downright scared of tri in some ways, but still attracted to it! Your wife sounds like an awesome gal. As for the challenges you face, I feel ashamed as I'm an author http://www.nadiawilliams.co.uk a mom of three and a homemaker, so finding time to train just means reshuffling the schedule a bit. If you can do it, so can I.

    I'm still scared sh*tless, but more determined to go through with this now lol!

    Nadia.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jetta-the-hut View Post
    forgot to mention to I was drafted as a team rider in a ms150 ride 150 miles in 2 days by the local police dept. I haven't rode a bike anywhere close to that far in about 18 years
    I must say, that sounds like great fun, though I'm sure it will be a challenge if you haven't done that kind of distance for so long. Best of luck, I'm sure you'll do great.

  6. #6
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    Nadia,

    Just set a goal of doing one to see what its like. Plan on having a good time and enjoy the experience. You'll have lots of company so view the event as a chance to see new terrority and meet people - just like a tour.

    Tri's don't have to be expensive. Assuming you already have running shoes, the only things you might need are a wet suit rental for the day and perhaps. clip-on aero bars.

    Have fun with your training.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the reply, Stan, and for the advice. I do have decent runners, yes, and I'll look into wet suit rental. I did hear from someone the other day that tris are expensive as you make them. Lots of food for thought.

  8. #8
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    Yep, tris are as expensive as you make them. I've seen people riding mountain bikes passing others on high end tri-specific bikes.

    Don't worry about having a competitive nature or not. The majority of people doing their first just want to finish and say they completed a tri.

    You'll also find training isn't as time consuming as you thought. You can do two workouts a day and combined, they aren't as long as an easy bike ride.

    I'll also be honest about the fear - just about every single person lining up before the start that day is scared. They are scared about the challenge ahead, whether they will live up to their expectations, and will they even finish. It is scary, but isn't a little fear what makes life exciting?
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  9. #9
    Senior Member jetta-the-hut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Racingboo View Post
    Jetta, thanks for your reply. It's such a relief to just know I'm not the only one who is downright scared of tri in some ways, but still attracted to it! Your wife sounds like an awesome gal. As for the challenges you face, I feel ashamed as I'm an author http://www.nadiawilliams.co.uk a mom of three and a homemaker, so finding time to train just means reshuffling the schedule a bit. If you can do it, so can I.

    I'm still scared sh*tless, but more determined to go through with this now lol!

    Nadia.
    I clicked your link, nice work, I also envy you for being from South Africa thats my dream spot to visit one day, I want to surf the south around the Cape Town area.

    I know some places will rent you a bike also, I'd say try you first one on a regular bike or one you own then decide to see if you like it, I've been in sticker shock for the whole year studying about Tri's bikes that cost 5,000- I dont think so! I found a sweet deal on craigslist and got lucky.got a used older tri bike for 200.

    I guess well see what happens in March, I just got back from the doc and I'm 10lbs heavier than 6 months ago, so I start training tomorrow-no excuses!

    One thing in my favor is because I am so heavy I go into the clydsdale class with all the other huge, some overweight, big boys and girls-Athena's so it's a little less worry on my side. No age group to worry about.

  10. #10
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    StanSeven: Yep, tris are as expensive as you make them. I've seen people riding mountain bikes passing others on high end tri-specific bikes.
    I at first thought I'd just do the tri on my hybrid, but in truth, I think whatever happens a road bike will be a good investment for me. There's a beautiful Lapierre in my LBS for €1000, middle of the range, and it should do me for the next ten years or so then, no? Even if I can get it cheaper elsewhere, I've come a long way with this shop, they've always been very helpful with maintaining the bike and to me it's a matter of investing in that support as well as in the bike.

    If it turns out I can't afford this bike, I'll start looking for a decent secondhand one.

    I'll also be honest about the fear - just about every single person lining up before the start that day is scared. They are scared about the challenge ahead, whether they will live up to their expectations, and will they even finish. It is scary, but isn't a little fear what makes life exciting?
    Absolutely! And I believe we need to step out of our comfort zones, physically and mentally, to be truly healthy.

    Jetta: I clicked your link, nice work, I also envy you for being from South Africa thats my dream spot to visit one day, I want to surf the south around the Cape Town area.
    Thank you! And South Africa is indeed a fantastic country, though I'm much better suited to Ireland and I'm much happier here. SA is well worth a visit and Cape Town's beaches are breathtaking. Just be crime-aware when you go, and you should be fine.

    I guess well see what happens in March, I just got back from the doc and I'm 10lbs heavier than 6 months ago, so I start training tomorrow-no excuses!
    lol, I thought with your height your weight was okay! I'm 5'7 and though I have only a vague idea what I weigh, I think I'm kind of average. So enjoy your advantage, I'll have no such thing

    Thanks again for your replies, it's really taken some of the anxiety away for me.

  11. #11
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    You'll really like a road bike over a hybrid, especially for doing a tri. The aero position adds speed and also saves energy. You'll feel much better going into the run.

    I also found out thye same as you that knowing your LBS is important. I can fix most anything with my bike but I let the LBS do it. They are the professionals and I can tell the difference when they do something as opposed to me. Plus bike fit is really important and a good LBS can make a huge difference in comfort.

    I also looked at your website and your work is really very good.
    Last edited by StanSeven; 12-21-09 at 03:44 PM.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the compliment re my work, Stan, you make me glow with happiness

  13. #13
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    Racingboo,

    You're intriguing. The writing is very, very good but the poetry is fastinating.

    Stan
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Plainsman's Avatar
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    I would say that triathlon is for anyone who has the desire and is fit enough to do it. Your goal for the race is personal, it's YOUR race. That means that whether your goal is to finish a race, beat your previous time, or beat everyone you possibly can, that's all fine, it's up to you. That is one of the things I truly love about the sport. It's an individual sport that I can participate in with a few hundred of my closest friends. I started with a sprint, and my goal was to finish. I moved up to an olympic, again with the goal to finish. Then a 1/2. Then a full iron. For me the goal for each first attempt at a distance was the same, finish (and enjoy myself while doing so). After that, my goals shift, but that's just me. Again, your race, your goals.

    As far as being competitive goes, that's a relative term. You can gauge yourself against your age group, all racers of the same gender, all racers, just your racing buddies, or just yourself. Personally, my favorite race memory is still the 1/2 where I absolutely knew I wasn't going to be bringing home any prizes (like most of my races :-) ), so I just focused on feeling good and enjoying the experience. I did not come close to placing, and can't imagine having had much more fun - and this coming from a guy with a real competitive streak.

    All that to say, if you want to try your hand at a triathlon and there are no medical or physical factors that would make doing so unsafe, then by all means go for it. And don't feel like you need to break the bank for your first one. If the bug bites you, then you can take your time picking up all the toys and gadgets as time goes along. Just use your road bike, pick up the basics in tri gear, and go for it. I would say find one close by and give it a shot, but take the pressure off of yourself. If you like it, great, you can do more. If not, well hey, biking trips to other countries sounds pretty amazing to me! Hope that may help a little.
    Life IS an endurance sport. Finish Well.
    Finish Well Endurance

  15. #15
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    Plainsman, thank you, that is awesome advice. I'm particularly delighted by your testimony that the race really belongs to each individual performing. You've encouraged me greatly, and I'll let you know how the first one goes. Probably around April, if all goes well.
    Last edited by Racingboo; 01-01-10 at 03:26 PM. Reason: spelling mistake
    I want to be out there
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    http://www.nadiawilliams.co.uk

  16. #16
    Senior Member jetta-the-hut's Avatar
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    I'm going to post up pictures in March when I get mine done, maybe we should start a 1st tri picture thread!!

  17. #17
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    That's a great idea.
    I want to be out there
    where dark green fingers
    draw lines on wind-tossed,
    rain-grey skies.

    http://www.nadiawilliams.co.uk

  18. #18
    Senior Member Plainsman's Avatar
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    Racingboo, glad to hear that helped. Please let us know how the first race goes! Jetta, would love to see you start that thread. There is something so awesome about that first race, I'm sure others would benefit from your pix as well! If you are looking for some first timer tid bits and helps, that's pretty much the way our website works, and no worries, you are free to check out any content anonymously. Hope all goes well!
    Life IS an endurance sport. Finish Well.
    Finish Well Endurance

  19. #19
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I almost have no idea what the OP is talking about but the thread relates to me. I have absolutely no interest in doing these 3 things consecutively in a competitive venue. I enjoy all three, sometimes two in the same day, sometimes even within the same few hours of each other. But I have absolutely no interest in this kind of competition. Not sure if that means I'm a type "Z" but there ya go. I have a colleague who keeps wanting me to to a mini-tri but it's only 9 minutes in the water; a meager 11 mile bike ride; and then a little light cardio with a 3 mile run. I just don't see what the big whup is when I can enjoy and take great satisfaction out of a 50 minute swim; or a 60+ mile ride; for running frankly I have no interest in doing more than 3 miles and certainly not against any opponents.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    I almost have no idea what the OP is talking about but the thread relates to me. I have absolutely no interest in doing these 3 things consecutively in a competitive venue. I enjoy all three, sometimes two in the same day, sometimes even within the same few hours of each other. But I have absolutely no interest in this kind of competition. Not sure if that means I'm a type "Z" but there ya go. I have a colleague who keeps wanting me to to a mini-tri but it's only 9 minutes in the water; a meager 11 mile bike ride; and then a little light cardio with a 3 mile run. I just don't see what the big whup is when I can enjoy and take great satisfaction out of a 50 minute swim; or a 60+ mile ride; for running frankly I have no interest in doing more than 3 miles and certainly not against any opponents.
    The "big whup" for most triathletes is doing the event itself There's absolutely nothing wrong with the way you view the three legs but most people get satisfaction out of the accomplishment - whether it's finishing, bettering your prior time, or doing it faster than their competition. It's the challenge most people see as the "whup."
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  21. #21
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    I can see your point though, that the mini you describe might not be a very big deal for someone who is quite fit. That there's no 'whup' in that.

    I also still wondered about the whole thing, whether it really was for me. Perhaps I should just run, swim and cycle without bothering to combine them.

    But I think I came to understand the reason for triathlons today. Of course I can swim, bike and run separately: I enjoy all three. There's no obligation to do the combination race. However, the question: why triathlons? would be related imho to the question: why run marathons? Why do long distance cycling? Why do humans do any challenging sport that most people think you're crazy to participate in?

    Today, I went to the gym and first swam, then cycled, then did a strength training circuit on the machines. I've been swimming more and more and feel fine doing so, and I cycled 40km at a 20km/h average on a flat route just this Sunday, and comfortably. But when I did a measly 14km cycle today directly after swimming a puny 300m, boy was I surprised at how much more difficult it was. And while the difference was less marked, the strength training was also more difficult than it had been on Monday, when I only rowed to warm up and then did the circuit. I was taken aback - downright bemused, I suppose.

    And completely hooked.

    I'm not type-A personality, still not competetive, still break out in a cold sweat when I picture myself in a crowd, going through a level of physical challenge which has always been a very private thing for me. Yet the same thing that made me drag myself across Northern Ireland when I just got Ronan (my bike), the same thing that made me push through puke-or-cry level fatigue on to Llandudno from Holywell, the same thing that made me struggle up to Grosse Scheidegg from Meiringen by pedalling 100m at a time for seven hours: that thing broke loose today and I don't give a **** what it takes from me, I want to do an olympic distance triathlon before the end of this year.

    It would still be nice to me to perhaps do a private triathlon, but two things stop me: in the first place, I don't want to just do the swimming in a pool and I don't think tackling open water swimming by myself would be wise, to put it very, very mildly. In the second place, I would like to make a friend or two who don't go "Wowza!" when I mention I cycled 100km over the weekend (when I get my fitness levels up to that again lol), but instead say: "That's a good start," or "That's nice. What was your average?"

    I don't know if that made much sense, and as usual it's way too long, sorry. Let me go off to my corner again now.
    I want to be out there
    where dark green fingers
    draw lines on wind-tossed,
    rain-grey skies.

    http://www.nadiawilliams.co.uk

  22. #22
    Senior Member jetta-the-hut's Avatar
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    don't worry your doing great, dont forget to keep us posted on your training progress.

    When is your first race? I've only got 5 weeks left, woohoo!

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