‘What’s your favorite triathlon sport?’ you ask.
Being a triathlete—and most recently when I share my Ironman dreams with those around me—I often get the question “so which of the three sports is your favorite?” This sounds like an easy question, but for me the answer happens to be a little more complicated.
Let’s start with swimming. Most triathletes come from a one-sport background as their strength before choosing to take up the other two. In my case, I come from a swimming background. I swam competitively in Costa Rica from my early years (~6 years old, best I can remember!) through my mid-teens. As it turns out, I was Costa Rica’s national champion in 50m breaststroke, and continuously placed at the top in various other events.
Odd thing is, I hated swimming! I hated cold water, I hated the 4:30am workouts, I hated the repetitiveness of lap swimming. Why did I swim then? Well, let’s just say that at that age, I didn’t have much of a vote. My parents made me do it. Retrospectively however, this taught me the discipline that I carry in many aspects of my life today, as is needed for Ironman training. So coming back to my original question, is swimming my favorite of the three disciplines? Doubtful, as I’ve always dreaded going to the pool, and still do. I am a good swimmer, but I don’t love lap swimming (though I do love to swim and free dive in the ocean).
Next let’s transition to biking. Mountain biking was a hobby of mine growing up in Costa Rica, but I don’t sense much of a connection to triathlon biking. In the US I’ve relied on inexpensive bikes for transportation, never for racing. Last year, during my first triathlon season, I raced with my 2005 heavy aluminum roadbike, which just the year before I was locking up outside of campus buildings at Yale (or should I say New Haven for a different perspective?). As a result, my 2013 triathlons went something like this: Pablo comes out of the water ahead, then Pablo gets passed by lots of people with fancy tri bikes. Depressing… Things have changed however: I now have a tri bike myself! Watch out! Thus, coming back to my initial question, is cycling my favorite of all three? Well, it wasn’t last year, but it might just become so this year!
If not swimming nor cycling, then that must mean my favorite sport is running right? But wait; I didn’t take up running until the Fall of 2012, so clearly it must not have been at the top of my enjoyment list. As it turns out though, the typical triathlon for me last year ended like this: Pablo comes out of the water ahead, then Pablo gets passed by lots of people with fancy tri bikes, and then Pablo passes just about everyone on the run. The running leg of triathlon racing felt really good! I only wish running wouldn’t be so bothersome to my IT band…
As you can see, I don’t have a decisive answer to the question “Which of the three sports is your favorite?” Ask me again later into my training and racing season and I might just have made up my mind.