my own private triathlon
Sunday, January 30, 2022 was my own personal triathlon day. It wasn’t official; I read that professional triathletes complete events back-to-back. It felt more like a gradually unfolding journey that started with an invitation to explore Austin, Texas while dog sitting for my friend. Home base was in South Congress (also known as SoCo), a beautiful neighborhood with shops, restaurants, and beautiful views of the river, downtown, and the state capitol. The place was also incredibly dog-friendly, with trails, parks, doggy drinking fountains and poop stations! During my stay, I had a couple goals: live a more active lifestyle and give the dog a high quality life while I was steward and guardian.
Starting with my goal of spending time with the dog, some prior experiences had motivated me.
- I had spent some time with family and friends who had dogs. I was sad because based on the constraints for economics, space, and safety, the dogs would sometimes be locked in a house or a cage most of the day. This one late night, I got to unchain my friend’s dog, and run up and down an alley. It was such an exhilarating and fulfilling moment to share together.
- One weekend I was taking care of another friend’s dog. I remember running in the park twice a day that weekend with the dog, and it felt so fun and energizing. I wanted to repeat that experience.
- I had been so inspired from advice and stories from Cesar Milan’s Dog Whisperer and Jackson Galaxy’s My Cat from Hell about having a regular routine of exercise, feeding, and rest to keep our pets (and ourselves!) healthy and happy.
- I had a goal of having no pee or poop incidents in the house!
This connected with my goal to be more active.
- I wanted to take the dog outside four times every day. Before breakfast, mid-day, before dinner, before bed. Each walk/run would be an opportunity to keep active throughout the day, as well as explore the city of Austin.
- I lived right next to the Equinox gym, which was amazing to preview, but outside of my budget! And unfortunately they did not have a swimming pool.
- Meanwhile, I already had a membership for 24 Hour Fitness, which was across town. And they had a swimming pool!
- So I bought a used bike that I would use to ride to the gym as much as I could.
Thus I began my regular routine, walking or running with the dog three to four times a day, then biking across town to workout at the gym and pickup groceries, and then back home to work and enjoy meals and hobbies. It had been a while since I had been swimming regularly, so I started working on my form. While I was there, I met a fellow swimmer who had a goal of swimming 80 lengths every day for a whole month! So I was curious if I could do that too. I started incrementally doing a contiguous sequence of lengths (1, 2, 3, … up to 12). Then one day I was curious if I could do them all at once (78 lengths), and I could! Then I tried 80, 90, and 100, and I could! I was amazed with my progress.
Then one day, it occurred to me, I’m running, biking, and swimming most days. Was I doing the equivalent of a triathlon? I was curious what distances qualified for an official triathlon, and found a Triathlon 101 Guide from Redshift Sports that described the differences between a sprint-, olympic-, half-ironman-, and ironman triathlon. When I looked at the numbers, they seemed doable, so I put together a plan to do it all in one day.
- Bicycling is my weakest activity, so I expected to do the minimum for a sprint triathlon (5–15 miles), and since the distance from Equinox to 24 Hour Fitness was approximately 4.2 miles each way x2 = ~8.4 miles, I think I had that covered.
- Running with the dog might be more fun and scenic, and we had done different parts of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail throughout the month, I planned to do that. The whole loop around the Colorado River and “Lakes” (as they call them in Austin) is 10 miles, which lands somewhere between an Olympic (6.2 miles) and Half-Ironman (13.1 miles).
- Swimming had been the most fun activity throughout the past month. I had found a groove with my relaxing, breathing, and movement. I figured since this may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, why not go for the maximum, an Ironman distance. 2.4 miles = 2.4mile x 5,280ft/mile = 12,672ft = 12,672ft / 3 ft/yd = 4,224 yards = 4,224 yards / 25 yards/length = 168.96 lengths. So I aimed to do 170 lengths in the pool.
The weekend came:
- 20:00–00:55 — fell asleep early, tired from a long Saturday.
- 01:00–01:50 — woke up, and took the dog out for an early hike. 2.27 miles!
- 02:00–06:42 — more sleep
- 07:53–10:23 — dog and i ran the trail. 11.57 miles!
- 12:01–12:39 — biked to 24 hour fitness. 4.2 miles!
- 13:05–15:21 — swam 170 pool lengths. 2.4+ miles!
- 15:39–15:51 — biked to in-n-out burger. enjoyed a hamburger, fries, and strawberry milkshake. 0.5 miles!
- 16:28–17:27 — biked home. 4.5 miles!
- 17:27–18:38 — dog and i went to the off-leash dog park. 2.13 miles!
- 20:55–22:04 — piano practice
- 00:33–00:52 — dog and i took a light walk to the nearby dog park
- Bicycling — 9.2 to 9.5 miles
- Running/Walking — 11.57 to 15.97 miles
- Swimming — 2.41 miles
I did learn a few things about skin care from the experience, but I’ll save that for another story. Nonetheless…
We did it!