Pursuing triathlete-hood has been an interesting experience. Actually it’s shocking to me how much I have gotten into it. I’ve always had a thing for falling head over heels in love with hobbies, but always before the hobbies have not asked very much of me in return. I mean, let’s be realistic — knitting lace needs you to have a decent grasp of knitting principles, reading patterns, a selection of needles in various sizes, and an ability to not faint at the idea of knitting something enormous with really, really teeny yarn even if it takes 50 hours. The time I took up glass mosaics basically only asked that I spend a lot of money on shattered (or shatter-able) glass at Michael’s, and since most of the glass had mica in it so that it sparkled, that wasn’t really much of a hardship for me. These are not things that require a lot of hard physical labor and perseverance.

Triathlon, though, is asking a lot. First of all, it requires me to get up off my ass with a much greater frequency than I am accustomed to. My workout habits prior to taking up running last year were basically “eh. Do I feel like it? Yeah? Okay.” or, more frequently, “Do I feel like it? Nah. Cool.” But now! Now? I have a schedule. A schedule I actually go out and make an effort to stick to. A schedule that includes two days a week where people notice if you’re not there. And, of my two off days per week? I actually want to do MORE workout stuff on one of them. It is remarkably difficult to respect recovery days, even after reading other people’s cautionary tales about overtraining and the consequences thereof. I mean, I am a lazy bum by nature. I point and laugh at gym bunnies from the couch, when I see them on tv. What the hell bizarro world did I wake up in that I’m a workout person now?

And these are not piddly, saddo workouts where you show up at the gym and do half-hearted bicep curls with 5 lb. weights for ten minutes, then do some crunches on a mat in the back corner where no one can see you. Every planned workout on my schedule, except one, involves two things: biking followed by running, or swimming followed by strength training. Tuesday’s group swim workout is the only easy day where you only have one item on your to-do list. I now approach the swiss ball and the foam roller with intent. Worst of all, I’m now the kind of person who feels let down if she misses a day. (Especially since I’ve missed two Thursday group bricks in a row due to work – argh!)

And then there’s the influence of all this on my music collection. It all started last summer when I started running, and discovered that Ke$ha made for really good running music. It doesn’t require any brainpower to listen to, and it was upbeat and amusing enough to make struggling up even that bastard hill south on the lakefront path coming up from under the Solidarity Drive underpass something even I could manage. I like Ke$ha now – I offer no excuses. This proceeded apace until I made the ultimate sacrifice of my music credibility to acquire more upbeat pop music to keep me running… Oh yes, I did it. I’m not proud. (I will say that, sorry kids, “Peacock” is fucking annoying, not clever — I had to untick that one in iTunes.) But… yeah. I don’t ask you to respect me after this confession of my radical loss of judgment, but just accept me for what I am… a lazy bum by nature who depends on other people’s perkiness (no matter how ridiculous) for motivation.

But while the crazy workout dependency seriously jeopardizes my self-image as a total slacker, and I’m hesitant to own up to the sudden Top 40 obsession in mixed company, those are not the only significant shifts I have undergone. For example:

Worn-out swimsuit

I have a drag suit again – for the first time since the fall of 1994, my last year of high school competitive swimming. A drag suit, for the uninitiated, is a worn-out swimsuit (or you can buy a mesh purpose-specific suit) that is baggy and floppy, which you wear over a swimsuit that actually fits. The bagginess and floppiness creates drag in the water, meaning resistance, making it harder to swim. I traditionally wore drag suits to the point where all the spandex was gone and I could actually tie a knot in the excess fabric at the belly. This particular drag suit was unintentional: I bought the suit in February of this year, and I wore it only a dozen or so times before it started to show wear. Very disappointing — I used to get a full season’s swimming out of one suit, which was 5 days a week, often 2x/day, for three months. (NB: TYR is my favorite, or sometimes I wear Speedo, but this is from The Finals. Not sure I can recommend them, with this example as my first purchase from them. I have two other of their suits, in a smaller size, that I bought at the same time and am alternating, so we’ll see how long they last. I am going back to TYR next time though; no more experimenting.)

But it happened that I had dropped a few pounds and I needed a smaller suit then anyways, so I just continued wearing this one as a drag suit, so at least I can get some value out of it. The spandex has continued degrading at a nice clip (accellerated by my actively destroying it, by not washing chlorine out and by wringing the hell out of it), and it’s very nearly to the belly-fabric-knot point. This makes me oddly proud: I are a real swimmer! I show up wearing shit like this and don’t care if everyone around me is going, “why is she wearing a potato sack to the pool?” You may laugh at my potato sack, but I’ll be the one laughing when I take 10s off my 800m time!

Tide and SportWash detergents

I was doing the laundry the other day and caught myself thinking, “I should get another bottle of SportWash next time I’m at Fleet Feet; it’s only ten bucks.” This is significant because I am the sort of cheapass who sneers at Target or Jewel for asking $14 for a bottle of Tide, and waits for it to go on sale, because I think that $14 is ridiculous for a bottle of laundry detergent, and then, on top of that, I generally only use half the prescribed amount because I think the full capful is too much detergent and wasteful. (I also cut dryer sheets in half. Scrooge McLaundry, at your service.) Note that at $14/30 loads, 46¢ a load, the Tide is actually cheaper than the $10/20 loads, 50¢ SportWash. Logic may not be my strong suit here. (That said, the SportWash works way, way better than regular detergent at getting stank out of my workout clothes, which is no small thing to ask.)

5 lbs of Whey Protein Powder and more than a dozen quart bottles of Gatorade

This cabinet used to be full of soapmaking supplies. I had to find a new spot for a bunch of it so that I could make room for my bulk purchases of Gatorade and my massive 5 lb. bulk jug of whey protein powder. Yeah. I’m THAT jackass, now.

(Though, I’m not yet to the point of being the guy at work who has a FEEDSACK of whey protein powder under his desk. I’ve bought 28 lb. bags of cat food smaller than his protein stash, man.)

Green goo in a blender

This is what I do for breakfast daily: 6-8 oz nonfat yogurt, protein powder, spirulina, stevia, 6-10 strawberries (depending on size), banana or two, soy milk to cover. It’s actually really, really tasty. The spirulina was one of those things where I was like, “oh, it’s a ‘superfood,’ huh? We’ll just see about that.” But it turns out that I really like it. It has this sort of fruity taste that works really well in a smoothie. Also, the “gross green health food” look really amuses me for some reason — I feel kind of like it’s straight out of a 70s show. The best thing about this smoothie, though, is that it’s a fantastic breakfast that keeps me from getting hungry until like 1 PM — which is great, because I can’t stand it when I eat at 7 and am hungry for lunch by 10:30. The smoothie lets me totally forget about eating until 12:30 or 1, and that makes me really happy. I don’t think it’s a particularly low calorie health food — I’m guessing that it’s around 500 kcal or so, not that I actually measure anything — but it gets me fruit and protein and calcium and freaky green health food entertainment value, so I’m happy.

And lastly…

Race number bibs tacked up on the wall

My idea of appropriate interior decoration for the home has expanded to include “beat-up, raggedy pieces of Tyvek.”

I can’t wait to see what next crazy effect triathlon has on my life.