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Toward the end of 2018 my wife Durga, aka the goddess Patricia, announced that we were crossing the continent and flying to California’s Yosemite National Forest where she and our son Sean would be running a half-marathon. “Want to join us?” she asked.

“For the trip or for the race?” asked I.

“Well, the race. I assume you’re coming with us.”

“Lauren going?” I asked.

“Yep. They’ll meet us there. You going to run?”

“Is she?”

Durga shook her head. “Doesn’t look like it. Are you yes or no?”

“I’m hot and I’m cold,” I replied, channeling my inner Katie Perry. “Yes. I will complete while you two compete.”

“Cool. I’ll sign us up.”

She did, I promised to train but did not and as a result of my lack of training I wound up walking most of the half-marathon and by that I mean I ran a very short way and then cut the course by exiting early. I walked a total of roughly 11 miles and failed to live up to the Boy Scout motto: I was anything but prepared.

Having failed so ignominiously in May it’s reasonable to think I’d be better prepared for June’s challenge, the Triangle Triathlon, a longish sprint race. It was late in May when my friend,  coworker and fellow race participant Jack Lowdermilk asked me how my swim training was going. “Swim training?” I asked. “When’s the race?”

“You’re kidding me, right?” Jack demanded, “Keith, it’s next weekend!”

I managed to squeeze in three lake swims before race day along with zero runs and my LAST PLACE finish was exactly the reward I had earned. Realizing the error of my ways I promised myself to extend my bike rides, start running and concentrate at least a little bit on swimming. The agony of a last place finish must have motivated me because I actually started “training.”

I put “training” in quotes because while I added a short, every-other-day 1.55 mile/2.5 km run, some half-mile/800 meter swims and a twice weekly 25 mile/40 km bike ride to my regular bike commutes my workouts are  most defiantly not structured nor optimized for results. Sure, I’m stretching my limits and improving but I think calling my haphazard approach to fitness training qualifies as an alt-fact.

Determined to place higher than last place I’ve managed to bring my run times down from 20:20 to 16:40, both a huge improvement and pathetically slow pace, and I’m swimming my half mile in 27 minutes rather than a half-hour-plus. I suck, but I suck less!

My swim times improved, my run time improved and my ability to slowly cycle 25 miles at a time became a given rather than a question mark. I had a routine! And then I realized that I needed to fit my training into my “rigorous” race schedule. How rigorous? Well, July Fourth is a four mile road race and July 13th brings us the Carolina Beach pentagram shaped sprint triathlon.

I call the Carolina Beach triathlon a pentagram because we split the three events into five legs, beginning and ending with a 375 meter swim and running the 2.5 km course before and after our 20 km bike ride. The three events done in five segments makes the Carolina Beach a devilish pentagram. Weird, huh?

The return of a bit of my long lost and much mourned race enthusiasm is a welcome blessing and I interrupted my training routine to accommodate my July race schedule. Monday was a run day but I skipped Wednesday’s run so I could optimize Thursday’s July Fourth four mile race result. I also did a slow, easy, short bike commute to work on Wednesday in order to optimize my Independence Day road race four miler.

“Optimize” I did, running the entire 6.5 kilometers and beating my predicted 12-minute-mile handily. Oh, I was slow, how else would one describe a time of 46:40? -but I was racing! I can attest to the fact that finishing 418th out of 749 finishers in today’s race feels way better than dead last in my Triangle Triathlon but more importantly I seem to have found a mentality where I’m enjoying myself, doing the best that I can with my current fitness and striving for improvement, the true trifecta of fitness.

Coming off of today’s run I’m looking ahead to my triathlon on the 13th, figuring out when to rest from swimming and making sure that I do not run on the twelfth. I do not believe that, “Just finishing is all that matters,” but I do know that just trying is what really matters.

After the race the goddess Patrica went to an Orange Theory Fitness class and we’re supposed to hit Jordan Lake for a half-mile/ 800 meter swim. We’ll see how that pans out.

Wish me luck in moving forward!