Sports, sports, sports. At a young age, I was introduced to high level hockey which I played from the time I was 6 until the age of about 15, playing at the highest level for my age group. I also somehow managed to fit in basketball, badminton, and cross-country running through out most of those years as well.
This all changed when in my grade 11 year when I decided to hang up my skates and try my hand at football. My first year was a bit of a mess. I’ve always considered myself a pretty gifted athlete, but getting thrown in with a bunch of guys who’ve been playing one of the most physical, violent, and intelligent games for many years was pretty tough. After taking a year to transition and riding the pine, I managed to start on both sides of the ball as a receiver and defensive back for my high school team. I also picked up long snapping duties on special teams as well as starting on all of the other units. The end result was me playing every snap of the game.
At one of our inner-city rivalry games, I managed to catch the eye of a university scout and ended up signing a significant scholarship to the University of Alberta to catch footballs as a receiver for the Golden Bears. During my first season with the team, football became a 25 hour a week affair. Between game film, working out, team meetings, practices and games I was left with little time to relax, study, or recover mentally. After a tough year of university football with very little progress made and a disheartened interest, my life changed completely when I decided to completely abandon sports and physical exercise. To top it off, I transferred from Kinesiology into Computing Science.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret my new career path at all. I really do love it, but it is easy to neglect yourself and become that stereotypical computer nerd who has terrible posture, no physical fitness and spend all day, every day staring at that computer screen if you aren’t careful.
Although I didn’t realize it at the time it was for sure the lowest I’ve ever felt both mentally and physically in my life. Sure, the free time was great, but I wasted most of it on video games, tv, and other things that in no way made me a better person. Arguably the worst feeling was watching my body slowly transform from a fairly muscular wide receiver to a fattening university student.
Finally, for better or much financially worse, in May of 2011 I purchased my road bike. So far I can say with confidence that it was the best investment I have ever made in myself. I spent the summer commuting to and from work as well as doing rides on the evenings and weekends for pleasure and for fitness. To justify the purchase I promised myself I would not ride public transit, or bring my car to Edmonton, saving a great deal of money. While this proved to be a large annoyance when it came to getting groceries and other similar tasks, it is a great relief to know that I have reduced my impact on the environment greatly.
I found a new addiction in road biking. In the beginning I could ride no more than 40 kilometres without feeling extremely fatigued. I also joined a road riding club, which I recommend any new rider do and will hopefully talk about it in a later post. I slowly increased my distance and near the end of the summer I managed to put almost 200km/week on my bike and did my biggest ride of near 85 kilometres. It was somewhere in the middle of the summer that I considered I might take my cycling and physical fitness to a whole different level. With the rise of popularity in Ironman, and triathlon in general, I began to become intrigued by the sport and its athletes.
I’ve always been a strong runner, competing on the track team and cross country team when I was younger so I knew I could compete in that aspect. I was also becoming pretty confident that I could become strong on the bike as well with some work. So far so good, right? Oh yaa, I couldn’t swim to save my life. Despite this, I decided I would learn at the age of 19. I also plan to talk about my experiences with learning to swim and some advice I can give some new swimmers as well.
I’ve always enjoyed distance endurance sports. There is nothing better than being out alone, exercising, enjoying mother nature and dealing with what ever may be on your mind at the time. Relationship problems, that tricky solution to that program you are working on, or what you are going to make this week for dinner. I realized the importance and benefit of training with a club through my time spent with the Red Bike crew, so I began researching Triathlon clubs in which I could join to pursue this interesting sport.
Luckily, the University of Alberta has a Triathlon club right on campus. For next to almost no cost, I’ve had the chance to meet and pick the brains of experienced racers, train on a well developed workout plan, and use the university pool and spin room during the cold winter months each twice a week since September. The club has been nothing but awesome to me. It is great to have the support and training partners with like minded students and community members of all levels ranging from beginner to Ironman level. Since then I have experience a great change in my physical fitness and as a result my overall confidence and happiness has also improved.
Anyways, that was the long winded version of how I got to here. I hope to go back and talk about some of my earlier experiences such as early training with the club, learning to swim, my cooking experiments, road biking clubs, and some cool stuff I’ve gotten to do as a programmer in Edmonton in later posts. In the mean time, I’m training for 4 Olympic distance Triathlons this summer, hoping to complete my first Half-Ironman in the next, and perhaps a full Ironman the year after.