Do what?

I hate running.

I used to joke that the only time I would run was if someone were chasing me. No wonder I weighed in at 275 lbs. earlier this year. Now I’m tipping the scales at 232. And I’m still not running.

Yeah, okay, I do a lot of activity on the elliptical trainer, which simulates running. There’s no impact on my (shoddy) knees and (horrifically, irreparably damaged) ankles. If left to my own devices, I will “run” six miles every time I get on the elliptical. I have no idea why. Endorphins, I guess. Or stupidity. Take your pick.

But I’ve also worked a lot of swimming into my routine. When I say a lot, I mean every day. Now, I’m not a good swimmer. The first time I got into the pool at the University of Alabama Aquatic Center, the lifeguards — one on each end of the pool — got down from their chairs and moved quickly to my lane. Just in case.

I swam like a goat with muscular dystrophy. Like Lindsay Lohan after a night out at the bars, it was not a pretty thing. But I managed to flail around the pool for an hour or so without drowning. And I’ve gone back almost every day since. I’ve gained enough confidence in the water that I’m using varying strokes and techniques. My number of laps has increased. My speed in the water has increased. (Infinitesimally, but it’s still an increase, and I’m counting it.)

So I got to thinking: What is one thing I’d love to do that no one would ever expect me to do?

Besides clean up my act, I mean. I’ve pretty much already done that.

My answer: compete in a triathlon.

Swimming, running, biking. I was looking at the distances for triathlons, and … well, it looks hard. But the sprint triathlons (shorter ones) look … doable. Don’t get me wrong — they still look insane. But I just … I think I can do one. I mean, I’ve lost nearly 45 lbs. By the end of the year, I’m hoping to be down below 200, and that’s when I’ll start running.

Really running. A sprint distance triathlon is a minimum 500-meter swim, 12-mile bike ride, and 5-kilometer run. I’m going to have to be in the best shape of my life to do this.

I’m under no illusions. When I say I plan to compete in a triathlon, I mean I simply want to cross the finish line. Even if it’s in last place. There’s no way I’ll win or even be in the top 90 percent of the finishers. But if I can do this, I will always be able to say I did it.

So next spring, mark it down. Time to do this.


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