Last Minute Impossible Plans

It seems I couldn’t get enough of my first triathlon experience so yesterday I signed up for another one…this weekend.

I’ll be running obliterating [my new word for finishing triathlons – thanks twitter-verse] the Indy Tri this Sunday downtown. It’s an official USAT event and it’s listed as a Sprint triathlon. The distances? All over the place again –

  • 500m swim
  • 11.5 miles
  • 3.1 mile run

I’ve got to admit, I’m terribly confused on what qualifies as a sprint triathlon at this point. I officially classified my last race as a “novice” event thanks to a Wikipedia article I read, but apparently as long as you splash around in the water for a decent amount of time, USAT doesn’t really care how far you swim, as long as you bike close to 12 miles and run 3 miles and change afterwards.

I’m loving triathlons, but I’ve never been a part of a sport where some “standard measurements” seem so arbitrary. Imagine an NBA game being played on different sized courts and calling them all full-size courts…If any of you can explain the non-standard distances to me, let me know in the comments, I’d appreciate it a lot.

Why I shouldn’t do it

As I was debating whether to sign up for this one, I came up with a lot of reasons why I shouldn’t do it:

  • I just did my first tri 2 weeks ago. It’s way too soon to do another one.
  • I just got my bike fixed this past weekend and haven’t had much practice on it.
  • We’re swimming through the canal downtown Indy [they claim it’s clean, I’ve heard otherwise…]
  • Nobody’s running it with me [insert sad-face here]
  • It’s not a real “sprint” triathlon [whatever that means anymore]
  • I just did my first brick workout yesterday*
*Remember when I was complaining about how hard it was to get off the bike & start running? That’s called a brick workout. All the other real athletes know that and practice that transition before their races. I just did my first one today [yikes].

Why I’m doing it anyways

Even though I just rattled off a nice solid list of excuses, it doesn’t matter. I’m doing it anyways. The main reason:

I hate excuses

I hate them because I know how they work. If I let myself talk myself out of doing this triathlon for any number of reasons, I know it will be even easier the next time around. I let that happen a couple times and pretty soon I have a terrible downward spiral towards mediocrity. I can’t have that.

I also have a few good supporting reasons:

  • I want to try out my new bike in a race. I haven’t ridden it much, but I rode it 10 miles yesterday. I’m a fan.
  • I’m counting this as a sprint triathlon. Sorry Jess, but if USAT is calling it a sprint, I’m calling it a sprint. One more thing knocked off the impossible list.
  • I need another race under my belt. I’m running the Chicago Triathlon at the end of the month [holy crap, that’s coming up fast!]. Not only is it one of the largest triathlons in the world, but I’m also going to be competing in the Olympic distance race [aka 2x as far as the Sprint race]. I’m confident I can finish, but I don’t want to go into the biggest triathlon in the world and get completely embarrassed by super tri-athletes, so I figured I’d do one more race so I have a bit more experience before jumping in with the big boys.

Goals & Expectations

Here are my goals for this race. Now that I have one tri under my belt, hopefully these goals will be a little more accurate & attainable than the last ones I set .

  • 500-meter swim – 11:00
  • Transition #1 – under 2 minutes
  • 12.4-mile bike – 48 minutes
  • Transition #2 – under 1 minute
  • 5k – 28 minutes.

I’ll pretty confident I can swim the 500m in 10 minutes easily but I’m giving myself an extra minute to stand up, do my Baywatch run to the beach and get to the first transition area. My last T1 time was under two minutes. Depending on how the transition area is set up here, I’m hoping to do the same this time.

Now that I have a proper bike, I’m really hoping to cut some time in the biking area. I’ve been talking a lot of crap about my old mountain bike, but right now it’s put-up or shut-up time and we’ll see if the bike did actually slow me down or if I just suck at biking in general. If I can drop 5 minutes, I’ll be happy. If I can drop 10, I’ll be ecstatic.

Since I wasn’t biking with any fancy biking shoes, T2 was easy for me last time. I’m doing the same approach this weekend. I’ll be jumping right off my bike, parking it, taking off my helmet and heading on my way. This should take less than a minute. As I said, I practiced my “brick” transition today and it actually went okay. I’m hoping I can still have enough energy after the bike to run the 5k at a much faster clip, hopefully in the 28-minute range. This is cake when my legs are fresh, but after everything else on Sunday, I’ll be pushing to get this.

Those are the goals. Usually I like to be much more specific with my goals, than “28 minutes” but I’m specifically choosing not to do that here because:

  1. I’m still new at these and I’m not sure how this course will be different than the last one.
  2. I embarrassed myself last time with the naïveté of my goals, so I’m trying to be much more realistic. =)

I’m excited for Sunday. Even though the race is about the same distance, it’s a whole new race, a whole new experience and a whole new story. Stay tuned…

What impossible plans do you have this weekend?

Update: Just had this conversation with @usatriathlon. It seemed to clear things up [a little]. Sometimes, it pays to ask =)
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  1. says

    First, Good Luck this weekend Joel! This is awesome! I’ll be rooting for you to exceed your goals. I bet you will see a nice time difference in the bike stage with the road bike versus the mountain bike.

    My impossible plans this weekend are not as exciting as yours but definitely classify as “impossible”: cleaning the clutter out of the garage.

    • says

      Thanks Matt! You’re an incredible supporter. I appreciate it so much.

      As for the garage, I think that’s probably more impossible than my race! Good luck!

  2. says

    Woo hoo! Good luck on the race! And with the bike. :) Def let us know how that goes. Your motivation for your impossible list is truly impressive and inspiring. Can’t wait to hear how well you did after this triathlon.

    My impossible plans for the weekend? Maybe I’ll make a tiramisu from scratch. Maybe I’ll content myself with not strangling my brothers. I’m playing it by ear.

  3. says

    Sounds like you’re in full swing. Good luck with the race. I don’t know the first thing about triathlons, so excuse me if it’s a dumb question, but: wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier (clothing wise) to do the swimming at the end of the race—not the beginning? :)

  4. Todd Caraway says

    Best of luck Joel! We know you can do it!
    I love your blog man. It’s one of the blogs I check first thing pretty much every morning. It was especially motivating this morning to get me up and going to finish my paper and some projects for my grad program. I’ll be glad when this mess is done!
    Again, good luck tomorrow and I look forward to seeing your results. Have fun!

  5. says

    Excited for you! I know you’re going to do awesome and can’t wait to hear the results. Wondering what you’ll think of using the street bike too.

    Good luck and have a great time!!!!

  6. says

    JOEL, you are AWESOME! 😀

    Reminds me of how within 7 hours, I ran a 5K in the scorching Chicago summer heat and then went to karate training for 1.5 hours. Did that couple of wks ago. I was bouncing off the walls the entire day! And I think it was because I did what was not considered “normal” and “expected.”

    Excuses are pathetic and such a cop out (don’t mean to hate on those who do use excuses often … !!). The question to doing impossible things is: Why NOT??! We’re young, we’re free, we’re energetic, we are full of life. Make each day a great one and live it up with no regrets and no what if’s. An approach to life in this fashion will indeed yield a magnificent one!

    • says

      You’re nuts. I think I’m actually canceling our meetup when I come into town cause I’m scared you’re gonna beat me down!

      Excuses are a lame way of us choosing the easy route instead of pushing ourselves and seeing what we really can do if we put our mind & body to it.

  7. Chris says

    You’ve inspired me. If you are going to do this tri thing, I’ll do my own Japanese version. But it will be a 5 day sprint, finished on Friday

    A. 500 New Words
    B. 50 New Characters (may not seem like much, but its
    far harder than the 500 words)
    C. 5 New Grammar Points

    Good luck in your race, and I’ll let you know how mine turns out

      • Chris says

        Uhhhh… maybe. Its not that I don’t want to, but I will be quite busy. Seeing my first movie (in Japan) on Friday night (Inception), Saturday I pick up my car/have a Birthday Party, Sunday I’m going to have a freakin car for the first time in a year… don’t think I’ll be chilling in my apt. Anyways feel free to skype anytime you see me on

  8. says


    Hellll yea good luck man :) I’m training to do my 1st marathon in November – The Philadelphia Marathon. I still have a lot of training to go as I’ve never really been a runner before. But after reading this post and your last one about your 1st triathlon I’m eager to test fitness in this arena too. Thanks for the inspiration!

    You have any websites you could recommend to help with training for triathlons or marathons – workouts? diet? training? yada yada :)

    My Impossible Thing this week is I’m teaching myself wordpress Thesis design and I need to FOCUS! :)

    Anyway kick some major ass! Good luck w the Brick!

    • says

      Thanks Lauren! I’m glad I can be a small part of helping you do something impossible!

      I do a lot of training on my own, which is something I’m looking to change. My favorite overall fitness blog is Nerd Fitness. He doesn’t talk a lot about endurance sports, but it’s really good advice on general fitness mindsets & diet ideas. . As for training advice, USAT’s site always has lots of good info – . I’ve read some stuff on as well. Nothing as far as marathon training goes though. I haven’t run farther than 10 miles yet, so I’m not quite to that level! I’ll keep an eye out and let you know if I find anything =)

      You’ll have to let me know how thesis goes. I’ve heard good things, but haven’t used it myself. I’d love to hear your opinion!

      Thanks again!

      • says

        Hey Joel,

        Thanks so much for the links! I really like nerdfitness! It’s always nice to add a new blog to reader :)
        I just watched your vimeo reviews of the Vibrams – I am very intrigued by these shoes and must try them out when I get back to the US. I’m not sure buying them as knock-offs in China is the best idea haha. Have you been using them during your Triathlons or stickin with regular running shoes?

        Anyway, I hope you kicked ass at your tri!
        LAUREN :)

        • says

          Glad they helped! NerdFitness is awesome. Steve really has a unique take on fitness [and he’s a pretty cool guy]. I’ve been sticking with regular shoes mostly because my KSOs take WAY too long for me to get on in between positions. If i got a pair of classics I’d rethink it though. The tri went really well. You can catch up on the whole thing here –>


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