Slow and steady does not win the race

Fiori bike

I’d like to think I am fast–a fast runner, a fast biker, a fast swimmer.

When I do these things by myself, and there’s no one to race against, I can feel the wind in my hair, and I think I’m fast.

Then, there’s reality.

The reality is, I am one of the slowest runner/biker, and one of the worst swimmers I know. Anytime I go hiking with friends, I’m always dead last. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great time. I am just…slow. Very slow.

Back in the college days (back in 2001), when I was young and stupid, I bought a road bike so I can train for a duathlon. A duathlon (instead of a triathlon) is a race of cycling and running, made for swimming flunkies like me. Rather than swim-bike-run, you do run-bike-run. The bike I had enough money for is the Fiori Roma. I think I paid $180 at Sports Junkies. I don’t have a picture of it, but it’s the exact same bike as the above photo I stole off the internet. Except mine didn’t have a cool paint job like this one.

I lived by the foothill of SFU at that time, and would ride the bike on Barnett Highway as training. I would ride that highway to Port Moody and back, and pat myself on my back for how fast I thought I was. I would run around the track at school to train for the running portion, and again doing it by myself while being completely oblivious to my slowness.

My friend Ryan joined me for the duathlon. Race day came, he took off at the start line, wishing me good luck. I started running hard, giving the race all my might. I felt like a champion, running with good form with my chest up. A few kilometers later, I noticed I am being passed by everybody and their dog. Literally. By the end of the run, I was exhausted.

Then I started with the cycling portion. I peddled hard. Other bikes started passing me. Still more other bikes continued to pass me. I kept telling myself that’s because these real athletes are riding the super lightweight race bikes, and I’m riding a vintage clunker. Then I noticed people riding their mountain bikes with fat knobby tires passing me. WTF?

By the time I got off the bike, my legs felt like jello. I left my bike and started the last running portion. I felt like shit. I had no idea how to train for a run other than a few laps around the track. And even though I thought I was pretty decent at running, at an event like this, I realized how lousy I was. I had to try really hard to pass a lady at least 3 times my age and twice my weight. I nearly vomited multiple times.

Still, I pushed on, running as hard as I could.

Either the cycling or the running course–I don’t really remember which one now–for the duathlon makes you go around the same route twice to make up enough distance. And for whatever reason, this fact completely escaped me. Essentially, I only completed half the distance required for one of the legs.

As I struggled along the last few km of the run (after already missing half the distance), the organizer van was picking up the cones and closing the course right behind me. I was gasping for air and my lungs felt like they were going to explode. I finally finished the race, and got my “finisher” medal.

When I saw my friend Ryan after the race, he was saying how going around the course twice was really hard on him. I was like, “Uh, what do you mean twice?” That’s when I realized I didn’t even really finish the race, since I totally took a wrong turn and missed half the course. And even then, I finished dead last in my age group.

I never participated in another duathlon again. I swore I would never do another one, or a marathon or half marathon or anything silly like that.

Now, in 2017, I am old and stupid. A friend was talking about doing a half marathon as a mean to push her limits. Something possessed me to put up my hand and say, “Oh, I’ll do it with you.” Then I am pretty sure she held a gun to my head and make me type in the registration details online. So apparently on October 1 this year, I’ll be running my first half marathon.

The half marathon training starts next Monday. If you are looking for me this weekend, I’ll be at home, drinking away my sorrows, and toasting the vintage Fiori Roma for all the times she made me feel fast.

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