I have found that if I dig deep enough, I will find what I seek. I can attribute that to just about anything I have accomplished, whether it be the constant sabotaging of every relationship I can think of, or whether its pushing my body to ride a bike for 164 kilometers. For better or for worse, in times of trauma and self-destruction or in times of contentment and positive thinking, I have always been reasonably good at whatever I set my mind to. I think my ability to commit is a gift, and maybe that’s why I’m writing today.
These days, I aim for the good things in life. I’m almost four years clean now, wholly dedicated to moving my body in ways that feel good for the benefit of my physical and mental health. Since starting to comb through the ruins of a previous life I have developed a strong desire to live well. I have chosen to coach myself through this process, and in doing so I have somehow emerged as an endurance athlete. It’s been a very intense process but I feel like it has been worth the time and effort. None of this has happened overnight of course, but when I think of what I have discovered what my middle-aged body is capable of, I am pleased with what I have found.
I have participated in a few triathlons over the last two years, and a few cycling events prior to that. I spend the majority of my time training alone, happy to be my own lone wolf. I get to do things at my own pace, not worry about keeping up with everyone else and to turn my attention inward, to think in terms of recovery, of healing the damage I have taken on and to just take the time to do my thing by my own rules. I have used events like triathlon when I feel like I might enjoy the sound of a hundred fellow riders all shifting their gears around my at about the same time, or when I feel like experiencing the fraternity of fellow athletes chasing their own dreams and personal bests. It is during these occasions when I feel like crossing a finish line and maybe setting my own personal record.There are many things that a person can learn about themselves through endurance sport. Since I started devoting myself to this, there have been things I have learned about who I am and what I can capable of achieving. In this blog I want to share with you some of these things.
I’d like to share with you what it takes to train for and then conquer an Olympic distance triathlon. Mention the word triathlon and people react. It seems like a huge undertaking, one that many of us think we could never do. That is exactly why I chose this sport. I feel like I have always been one to push things to the edge, to behave as extreme as possible and although there have been consequences for recklessness, I think that at my core, I am a person who pushes my boundaries. The way I see it, is if a guy like me can do it, then I want to demystify the whole process so that you can see that you can do it too. It took me a little time to choose this sport.
I started off as a cyclist because it was a low impact sport and I had a lot of weight to shed and a lot of fitness to develop, so running was off the table for a long time. Eventually I started jogging and then running once I felt like I might not injure myself. Then I added some swimming to the mix having learned how to do so in lessons as a kid. The skill returned to me well enough that I was able to do laps with a great deal of effort. Looking back, my early attempts to do all of these things are amusing to me, but those baby steps were so important in my development as an athlete. It took a couple of years before I tried combining all three sports. I find that I can never really think about a 1500 meter swim, a 40km bike ride followed by a 10km run all as one thing. I try to break it all down to manageable bites and this way, triathlon aren’t as intimidating to think about.
I have maintained structure to my life by spending time doing exercise. In doing so, I have discovered that my body has very particular nutritional requirements. When I was in the grips of addiction I’m not sure why I didn’t take food more seriously than I did. I ate what felt good and a lot of the time, I ate things in excess or in an unbalanced way. This lead to health problems for me. Since taking up sport, I have learned very quickly about things like calories, protein, carbohydrates, hydration and blood sugar levels. In addition to learning about these things, I have had to modify my diet so that I am consume a balance of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, protein and yes, pizza, veggie burgers and chocolate. I am lucky that I have a special partner who often prepares food for me, but at the end of the day, it’s always up to me to make choices for myself and these choices will affect how my body feels and performs.
So here is the deal - I have found out that here in Kamloops, the local triathlon club is hosting the 2020 Kamloops Spring Triathlon. It is happening on May 10th, and while I have not yet registered for it, my new goal is to train for it so that I can do my best. It will be my second Olympic distance tri. With Christmas just over a week from now, I have five months to prepare for it, and I plan on sharing insights that you might find helpful, interesting or ridiculous. Hopefully a bit of all three. I love the sport and when I compete, I am proud to be (probably) the only Indigenous person there, decolonizing my mind and body, and showing others that stereotypes of who we are no longer apply, and that we are capable of anything that we put our minds to.
I don’t see Indigenous people reflected in non-traditional sports very often and I want to change that. I want to share my journey so that you might embark on yours.
Stick around, okay? Let’s do this together. I know I’d appreciate the company.