Column | Mike Camunas

Success of my first triathlon goes beyond finish line

Stage 3: Camunas crosses the finish line of the 5K, the final event. It took an hour and 37 minutes to finish his first triathlon. He came in 45th of 58.

ALLISON CAMUNAS | Times

Stage 3: Camunas crosses the finish line of the 5K, the final event. It took an hour and 37 minutes to finish his first triathlon. He came in 45th of 58.

NEW PORT RICHEY

I wrote this while I was punishing myself.

I came up with, well, most of this in a mere one hour, 37 minutes and 36 seconds.

For only foolish reasons that I can think of, I attempted, and yes, completed, my very first triathlon when I ran in the Chaotic CoteeMan Triathlon at the New Port Richey Aquatic Park and Recreation Center on Saturday.

But I have just been handed an urgent and breaking news story. I need all of you to stop what you're doing and listen.

I'm out of shape.

No-brainer, right? I mean, look at me. Do I look like a triathlete? Just look at these photos! I had a hard enough time getting up for this thing — a 7:30 a.m. start on a Saturday — and I'll admit, there were times I struggled, especially toward the end.

Insanely enough, I had to swim 150 meters, bike 11 miles and run a 5K (3.1 miles), and in each stage I needed something. While swimming I needed more air, when biking I needed feeling in my backside and while running I needed a break. I did hit a wall, just once, but I broke through that like Kool-Aid Man during a Saturday morning commercial. Oh, yeah.

This, however, was more than just waking up and going out and exhausting myself. I trained for a month, stuck to a small diet that helped me lose 8 pounds and dropped my body fat by 5 percent, and then I even read up on how to transition between the stages.

So, if I can brag for a second, I felt an hour and 37 minutes wasn't half bad. As a matter of fact, I came in second in my age group (disclaimer: there were only two people, myself included, in the 25-29 group) and came in 45th out of 58 participants.

Really, I'm not bragging. I'm just content that I finished the darned thing and that most of the people I passed or finished in front of are at least 30 years my senior. And I wasn't the only triathlon first-timer. There were plenty. And sure, there were plenty of those crazy individuals who not only took this very seriously, who just love to do this.

Don't get me wrong, I had a great time, have been reveling in the fact that I actually did it without totally killing my body. When I signed up for this, I did so because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. This wasn't about coming in first or coming in last, or even finishing with an amazing time (though I still feel an hour, 37 minutes was a good time).

This was about pride, I'll admit it. I run 5Ks, maybe four or five a year, and I've always done very well at those because they are quick and pretty much painless.

This, though, was also about making me feel good about myself.

For a while, I had thought about triathlons, about doing one, and I've even written about people who do them and the type of person they are, the amount of training they put in. They work a lot harder than I did at this and I feel that I worked really hard, spending numerous hours at the gym, late into the night, sweating buckets off my head and back.

In the end, I needed this. My mind, even more than my body, needed to be told that my body is strong, that it is willing and that I can do anything that I really want to.

When it comes to community sports, there are all kinds of people out there in our towns and neighborhoods who are just like me. They're soccer moms and single fathers. They are devoted brothers and classy sisters. They train, they get up at the crack of dawn and they do this. They run, bike, swim — all to do what I'm doing now: telling you they finished, maybe even bragging about their time (did I mention I came in at an hour, 37 minutes?)

They don't do this for joy.

They do it for pride.

They do it by themselves, for themselves.

Just like me.

Community sports editor Mike Camunas can be reached at mcamunas@sptimes.com or (352) 544-1771.

Success of my first triathlon goes beyond finish line 09/29/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 5, 2008 10:53am]

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