I wonder if I’ll ever be one of those 70+ year old triathletes still churning out races? At 51 I’ve been racing for over half my life. I did my first race in 1985 – I was 24 years old. Totally “winged” it. I started running in 1979 when I got to college to try to stay in shape and keep off the dreded Freshman 15. Didn’t even consider entering a 5K back then. I remember thinking that I was worried I’d be the last finisher. I ran by myself and had no idea of how fast anyone else ran.
I entered my first 5K when I was finished with college. The Sawmill Square 5K was in my town of Laurel, MS so I went ahead and signed up. Ran a 22:00 and went home. Had to clean up to get ready for work. Later that day my manager called me into his office and handed me my 2nd place age group medal and told me that I’d beat his friend. What do you know… I guess I’m not that slow after all!
Entered my first triathlon a year later. I used my Schwinn Varsity 10 speed that my parents gave me for a 6th grade graduation present. I’d swam for a couple years for a YMCA team when I was in High School but hadn’t done any lap swimming in over 4 years. I don’t even remember the distances of the race. What I do remember is getting passed on the bike like I was a fence post. One man that came by me gave me a pointer to pull my knees in toward the top tube, something I advice others of to this day! I had put those metal cages on my pedals and rode in my running shoes. I finished 3rd in my age group that day and from then on I was a Triathlete!
So fast forward 27 years and I’m still racing. I’m a lot smarter and have a ton more knowledge of the sport and have no intention of quitting any time soon. I’ve had two knee surgeries – microfracture on both. The docs say I’m running on borrowed time. I find that staying consistent in my riding definitely helps the running. Cycling strengthens the VMO (Vastus Medialis Origin) and this is one of your knee stabilizers. I can’t run every day – have to alternate run and ride days or my knees will be very angry with me.
And I’m happy to say that after all these years I’m racing faster than I ever have before. Hmmmm…. now that doesn’t sound logical. I should be slowing down some. I think it’s because when I was younger I just wasn’t consistent in my training. I’d run here or there and ride once or twice a week. Now I have a plan and pretty much stick to it. Swim and run on MWF. Ride on TTSat. Sunday is the rest day. I’ve never hired a coach – might make me even faster. But I have coached a lot of others in all these years.
I don’t know if I’ll be that 70 year old racer one of these days. I don’t know if seeing the inevitable slow down will be too much for me to take. For now I’m just taking it one year, one season at a time.
This past weekend I did a sprint race and was on the podium in second place overall. The first and third place girls? 15 and 12 years old. When we got up there I told them that I could be there Grandma.
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