Slow and steady does not, in fact, win the race — and other revelations from the life of a non-athlete in training

Sometimes, particularly when grinding uphill at a snail’s pace on the bike, the chant, “slow and steady wins the race” pops into my head, almost unbidden. It’s comforting. There’s a mantra for athletes like me. One day, however, when I happened to mention my tortoise-and-the-hare-inspired slogan out loud to my husband, he bluntly pointed that this was not actually true. Slow does not win the race. Fast and steady, maybe. But slow, no way. Not gonna happen. This is the same guy who, when I moaned to him about my pokey times in 5Ks, suggested helpfully, “Run faster.” Um. Yeah.

Armed with these pithy home-grown truisms, I decided it was time to get more information about preparing for a triathlon from the font of all knowledge: THE INTERNET. I needed answers to questions such as, “what the heck do you wear?” and, “are other people also afraid of the swim?” and “why do we swim, then bike, then run, in that order?” The information I found was the usual mix of useful, irrelevant, alarming, and confusing typically available on the web. I learned that there are many options for triathlon apparel and discovered that, yes, lots of people (including much fitter, more experienced athletes than me) are apprehensive (even panicky) before and during the open water swim. As for my question about the order of the events — three words: drown, crash, trip. Great…

In the meantime, I have, in fact, been swimming, biking and running. Things are going pretty well, but not amazingly. I’m still primarily just putting in time and distance, trying to increase my stamina and comfort level in the the three activities, but not really “training” in a rigorous, disciplined sort of way. In my mind, I envision a distinct turning point — still somewhere in the future, but coming soon (soon!) — when things get hard core and I ratchet up the intensity of my regime. When I really start pushing myself. But what if I’m just not a hard core kind of gal? Can I still pull this off in my incremental, moderation-in-all-things, slow-and-steady-wins the race kind of way? The answer is murky. Two months out, I’m not feeling as confident as I’d like to be. Will keep you posted. Suggestions for tapping into my hidden hard core self are welcome!