Caught Without my Pants- An Awkward Triathlon Story

Triathlon Chrome Swim

My First Triathlon

Critical Decision

The cockpit windows flashed white as we entered another thin cloud layer. We had just been given our initial descent into St Louis, Missouri, by air traffic control. Brian, the captain, commanded the $25 million dollar jet to comply with the instructions via a few well-chosen knobs. The glass gauges that give us instant feedback on the well being of ourselves and our 50 passengers a few feet away were telling the right story. It was a smooth ride considering the clouds outside were whisking by at almost 500 mph. I was drinking a cup of strong black coffee and feeling pretty motivated about my newest idea.

“What do they wear at triathlons?” I asked Brian.

He sat motionless as if pausing to search his ancient library of knowledge. Slowly he leaned forward, turned his microphone on, and said bluntly, “Everybody wears a speedo.”

“Really?” I asked shocked. “Have you done one?”

“No, but I’ve seen them.” He said confidently.

That night I sat down on Amazon and ordered a black and red spandex speedo. The details assured me of it’s “high performance” and “low drag.” It arrived in the mail a few days later and the package weighed less than a pair of socks. I remember sitting there holding it and shaking my head. I was one step closer to making this thing happen.

Why would anyone do a triathlon?

I came up with this idea after a few weeks of feeling like I was losing my edge. I had spent the early years of my life as a paratrooper and was starting to feel like a serious “has been” in the physical readiness department. I didn’t know at the time that I would fall in love with endurance sports, that at times in my life it would even define me. All I knew is that I was tired of being a slob and I had to do something about it.

Most of the people doing triathlons seemed to have something going for them. They either ran like a cheetah, swam like a dolphin, or biked like Lance Armstrong. I didn’t suffer from the same affliction as these folks. I ran slow, swam slower, and knew nothing about serious biking. I was just tired of being stagnant. Tired of being normal. Tired of getting old without living.

I never stopped feeling like bait.

Once I committed, I thought about my training all the time. We lived in a part of Alabama where crickets and pine trees were much more common than street lights and YMCA’s. This made finding a pool to train in pretty tough. I remember loading my little blue Dodge truck up with an old yellow kayak and heading up to Sweetwater Lake. It was a pretty good sized lake about 10 miles from my house. My wife and dad took turns following me across the lake in the kayak while I slapped and splashed and choked on water trying to perfect or at least improve my seriously deficient swimming technique. When you put your face down into the murky water, feel the cold liquid consume you, and lose your sense of hearing and sight all at once, it’s a little freaky. In my life I’ve never seen anyone else swimming there. The lake was full of fish, turtles, and of course, snakes. I never stopped feeling like bait. Especially in the middle of the lake, near the banks, and everywhere in between.

Sweetwater LakeForgive the nudity but we’ve all got a picture we’re proud of right? This was a big moment for me. This was taken at Sweetwater Lake near the end of my training and is one of the first times I was able to swim all the way across the lake and back. It was a huge accomplishment for me because I had never really felt like a real “swimmer.” I finally started to really believe I could pull it off.

This story will pick back up next week in Part 2!

Let’s be honest, there’s already a lot of information you have to consume during the week. I’m shorting up this story so you’ll have more time to get done what you need to this week.  If you don’t want to miss it, subscribe below and I’ll send it straight to your email when I publish it next Friday. I’ll also enter you in the drawing for a $25 Amazon gift certificate that I’m giving away on December 2 to someone in our gang. Have a great week!



If you have time, check out this episode of Tim Ferriss’s podcast here.  If you want to know how to think huge or accomplish wild things, this is for you! So exciting listening to these guys and the way they look at the world.

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