Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tri training raises your bowling score! (interview with a first timer)

So says the Recreational Mathematician.

Competitive side coming out, "On your left!"
I met the Recreational Mathematician back in 2006 through the Club Emerald running club. Despite being separated by several age groups and representing the opposite sexes, our paces were well matched so we had some good runs together. At that time, the Recreational Mathematician was new to running. After running early morning tempos, track repeats, hill repeats, and long runs with the club, Mr. Mathematician rocked his first half in 2:02 (Seattle Half Marathon 2007). This was a guy who never considered himself an athlete.

Fast forward four years. This former risk analyst and lover of Number Theory (integer delight!) decided in February of this year to sign up with Club Emerald's tri training team. What motivated this guy to tear himself away from his whole numbers? Maybe a love for analyzing training statistics? The Recreational Mathematician says he:
  1. Needed a challenge (he was recently retired). 
  2. Wanted to lose weight and get in shape.
Fortunately for him, he has a saintly wife who has been willing to tolerate the time consuming training schedule and piles of stinky laundry as this guy has literally trained his butt off. He lost 30 pounds in 4 months! The Recreational Mathematician says the weight loss has definitely improved his running. Tri training has also improved his bowling game! Who knew? Any other bowlers out there who have raised their scores after gaining strength and flexibility from tri training?

Sadly, tri training spoiled the Recreational Mathematician's "A" streak. He got his first "B" in a math class. Ever. You see, this new retiree was taking an Elementary Number Theory class at the University of Washington for fun. He found that attending intense lectures and concentrating on numbers for hours was challenging when he had already burned up his energy during his morning brick workout! Nuts!
Club Emerald swim training

The Recreational Mathematician's training updates on DailyMile were an inspiration to see - at least one brick workout a week (a first for him), 6 a.m. swims in the cold Lake Washington waters (another first), yoga (another first), spin class (yet another first), and runs galore. Mr. Mathematician says he was easily completing 10 workouts over 6 days for the past 6 months.  

In mid-August the Recreational Mathematician completed his first triathlon. He says he has a great sense of accomplishment for 1) getting out of the lake, and 2) being able to do it all. And less than a month later, he completed yet another triathlon!

Yes, I did it! The swim was by far the most challenging leg.
The Recreational Mathematician shared a comforting revelation about tri training: EVERYBODY struggles. Regardless of what level you are at, from the back-of-the-packer to the team hot shot, tri training is tough. Thankfully, the team is there to keep you going and help you work through those rough spots.
After tackling his first and second ever triathlons, the Recreational Mathematician offers the following thoughts about his triathlon experience: 
  • Being part of a team is great support: structured workouts, friendly competition, and camaraderie.
  • Buyers remorse: He wishes he had known more about bike gear before he purchased everything.
  • The work load will be more than you think for a sprint tri BUT anyone can do it with some good training. 
  • Triathletes are nice people. They will stop to help you change a flat or give you a pep talk before you take that first plunge into the water. 
  • He has a competitive streak that he didn't know was there (seeing guys in his age group ahead of him pushed him to take the lead out and pick them off).
  • Everyone will have different goals (I think this means you shouldn't compare yourself to others, no?).
  • If possible, try to pick up these sports at an earlier age (<55+ yrs).
So what is next for this number theorist?
  • Half iron? (the swim was definitely his most difficult so an Olympic distance tri is a logical next step but considering the half iron swim is only slightly longer, why not go for it?!)
  • Duathlons?
  • PR in the half? (he wants to earn a sub-1:45 in the near future, previous best of 1:50) 
  • Marathon? (if he runs a 1:44, he can qualify for NYC!)
  • Distance cycling events?
This not-so-average male runner is an inspiration to all first-timers, of all ages.

Check out Sarah and Amy who also were new to swimming, biking, and running when they took on their first triathlons.


  1. I think his thoughts were RIGHT on. I totally agreed with them all.

  2. I'm not sure what I loved most about this post: the athletic success story, the moniker "Recreational Mathematician," or the fact that someone would take math classes for fun (meaning: I am not alone)!


  3. This is a great, inspiring story!! LOVE IT! Good luck to him on his upcoming adventures!!