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Road to the Iron Man

August 5, 2007
by Leslie Biernat

Well itís time for an update on my road to the Iron man and what an interesting journey it is turning out to be.  To begin with I did not know much about training for one just enough to complete sprint distance triathlons like the Danskin so I needed to educate myself.  I have read several books now on the how to and how not to train for this event itís quite overwhelming actually.  There is so much that goes into it way beyond the actual running, swimming, and biking, itís the whole nutrition aspect of it too.  So I went online and purchased a training program to help me along the way or at least get me started but first I needed the proper equipmentÖ.


So here I am going to train for this major event and I donít even have a bike or a decent swimsuit.  I went to a triathlon store and asked for some advice on a tri-bike they were all very expensive and I was getting worried but I realized that even if I didnít really know what I was doing at least I would look good trying.  So I purchased an Orbea tri-bike at a minimal price of $1800.00 yes thatís right I had to take a home equity loan just to purchase all of my equipment, Iím starting to really think I am crazy like everyone thought!  So I waited two weeks to get the bike and when I received the call that it was in I felt as if I was going to pick up my new baby from the hospital but instead of a car seat I had a bike rack.  It is beautiful, red and black, and weighs about 8 pounds itís an amazing bike.  The bike is designed to be very aerodynamic and it takes some getting used to you feel like you are lying over the front tire not to mention the seat is very tiny and doesnít look too comfortable.  Then there are the pedals not just regular ones clip in ones I was terrified that I would fall and the owner of the store said everyone does at least once a season.  Of course I had to get the helmet, shoes, pedals, water bottles, computer for calculating mileage, and of course a cute outfit.  As you could guess all of this was not cheap and now Iím up to at least $2500.00 but remember I look professional.   After all of the equipment and bike fitting they send me out the door with no manual and no instructions on how to take care of my bike but I thought well it couldnít be that difficult itís just a bike so I thoughtÖ.


After I got the bike home I couldnít wait to ride it.   Monday morning and I woke up ready for my first ride, dressed in my cute outfit, put on my helmet, sunglasses, shoes, and filled up my water bottles.  I headed out to a bike trail and started my ride.  It was not very comfortable and I thought I am never going to get used to this seat, 112 miles on this bike OUCH!  I continued over bumps and bridges but I was riding and I just didnít want to fall.  I came to the end of the trail and saw another biker I wanted to ask where the trail continued so that meant I had to stop but how.  As I was braking I began to slip my right shoe out of the pedal, twist and pop, it was out whew and I stopped gracefully leaning to the right so I could put my foot down.  We were discussing my new bike and I unconsciously put my other foot down but it was still clipped into the pedal so I continued to fall how embarrassing!  I jumped up so quick I didnít care or even know if I was hurt I was just going to get up and get up fast.  This guy didnít even help me he just stated, ďWe all fall at least onceĒ, well thanks.  I assessed my injuries and saw that I had blood dripping down my leg from a huge scrape on my knee and backside had a huge bruise and bump on it.  I was 4 miles from home and I still had to ride back and it was then that I realized I had lost my water bottle too, so now Iím injured, thirsty, and far from home.  Well I made it back despite my dehydration and as I reached my condo I had to ride up a hill to get to my unit and I fell again but this time both feet were still in the pedals and it was on grass this time not cement.  I recovered from this fall a little frustrated and limped home walking my bike.  My young son was home and stated, ďWhat happened to you?Ē  I told him Mommy fell on her new bike so he went and got some soap and water for me along with ice and helped take care of me.  As dramatic as this first ride was I had broken in the bike and myself but realized that this was the beginning of my journey and accomplishing my goal, I had taken the first step.


Since that first ride there have been several to follow I even completed a 50-mile ride with no problem. I have not fallen off since but I did learn a few more things like how to change a tire, that taking a cell phone with you is a great idea when your chain snaps and your stuck 9 miles from home, that you have to check your tire pressure before each ride and oil the chain, screws can come out of the shoes and where to purchased and how to replace them, that using chafing cream in your bike shorts helps, and that if you smile and laugh through it all everything seems okay. 


This is the beginning of what I can see will be a very long and interesting journey but each time I get on my bike, take a swim, or run on a hot summer day I am reminded that I am alive. I thank God for the ability to get up each morning and smell the fresh air and feel the warm breeze on my face as I ride.  Whatever challenges and struggles I will face I will do it with a smile and a thankful heart. Next time I will update you on my adventures with the swim and how I did at the Chicago Olympic distance Triathlon taking place late August.  While you wait, remember to enjoy each day and take a moment to stop and look at the beauty that surrounds you, LIVE STRONG!


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