Break a leg. Do a triathlon.

Ever wonder if you could do a triathlon? I did once or twice, but never thought I had what it takes. Then in January 2014, I broke my leg. Well, one of my father-in-law’s highland bulls broke my leg. And though he was only a third grown, he weighed at least as much as an NFL lineman.

Image may be subject to copyright.

The bull that broke me

This young bull rolled into my right leg, and I heard a pop and went down. My right tibial plateau was broken, and it changed my life.

A week and two titanium screws later, I began eight weeks of crutches, Percocet popping, boredom and the fear that my leg would never be the same. Tibial plateau breaks are bad ones because the plateau takes all the pressure and weight between the tibia and femur. It’s better to break the tibia or femur clean. My injury can take a full two years to “fully” heal.

A few days into recovery, I found myself numbly chewing my cereal and looking through the window toward the mountains. My forlorn gaze settled on a cud-munching bovine in the foreground. It was the bull that rolled me. We locked eyes. Through my Percocet haze, I sensed a sinister motive behind his vacant stare—he wanted to finish the job. Tears formed. I cried. It was the drugs, man.

Living vicariously

I passed the time playing Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag. I felt wistful and jealous watching Edward Kenway run and jump and climb buildings and walls and dive off cliffs into the Caribbean blue. Watching him sprint, I fantasized that I was he—whole and hale and able to do all the things I could before the “big break.”

There were times I was mighty low. My wife’s return from work was a daily highlight. But one night she came home to a dimly lit den of despair and despondency. She spoke to me, but I could only look listlessly at the floor and ponder my darkness.

Here came the sun

Fast forward to April. Snow melted, rains ceased, and the Sierra Nevada winter finally ended. The clouds receded in the sky and in my soul. I graduated from crutches to cane and began to get some of my mobility back.

I’d hobbled my way to the gym a few times a week and now wanted/needed to step up my rehab. I started cycling … on a stationary bike. Four weeks later, I was cleared to lose the cane. I rode a real road bike, and it felt like the first time.

pj training

My rehab took off. I rode fourteen miles to and from town and climbed hills in and out of the saddle, descending like a madman at forty miles per hour. I registered for two stages of RAGBRAI, a week-long mass bike ride across Iowa and began training for it three to five days a week.

Over the next year or so, I rode charity rides and Gran Fondos—you race against the clock and others in your age group. Iowa, Lake Tahoe, California wine country—I became a bike-riding fool. But I needed something more.

Learned to swim fast

I began swimming at the local lap pool, but didn’t know the first thing about freestyle. I learned to grab the water and pull it past me while rotating my hips by watching YouTube and learning from a friend who swam in high school.

When I started, I could barely swim the length of a 25-meter pool and back without gassing. Now I go 18 laps without a rest. It’s amazing how, with the right form and efficiency, I swim like a machine.

I saw a flyer for a sprint triathlon in nearby Graeagle, CA. I felt confident in the swim and bike segments, but wondered if my surgically repaired knee could handle the pounding of a three-mile run. Three miles is nothing to you joggers, but I hadn’t run that far since my Navy days and healthy knees.

Breathless, but not beaten

I began running. At first, I had a hitch in my step. It felt weird. I pushed through and began to feel more natural. Maybe I can do this! I worked myself up to two miles twice a week, but my time was horrible. Two-miles-in-25-minutes horrible. It was especially lame because I’d run a mile and half in 9:30 in my glory days.

I took the plunge anyway and signed up for the 2016 Donner Lake Triathlon, Sprint option—1/4 mile swim, 6-mile uphill/downhill bike course with nearly a thousand feet of climbing, and a 2-mile run. When the big day came, I felt ready.

image may be subject to copyright

At the start line after arriving at 6:30 a.m., I had butterflies. To help steady myself, I chatted up the guy next to me. He’d done dozens of events, but still looked amped. We clasped hands in a kind of high-five variation just before the gun and sprinted into the water.

I felt okay at first, and then realized I couldn’t breathe. It didn’t make sense. I’d swam this distance no problem for weeks. Then it hit me. It was the elevation. Quincy, where I’d trained, is 3,500 feet. Donner Lake is nearly 6,000. Big difference when you’re doing your first “Tri” swim and are already nervous.

I was in trouble before the first turn. At that point, I abandoned all freestyle form and concentrated on keeping my head above the water while maintaining forward propulsion. Along my slow, torturous way, I made sure to keep giving the thumbs-up to the concerned lifeguards.

Lapped, but not licked

Somehow I huffed and puffed—and bluffed my way past the final turn by employing some strange variation of dog paddle/breaststroke. When I reached the point where my feet touched, I staggered upright and began bumbling the final dozen meters or so toward the swim finish mat.

That’s when I noticed a pink swim cap blow past me and then another and then another. Three women from the group who’d started five minutes behind my group had lapped me.

When I stepped onto that blessed mat, I saw faces filled with pity and heard voices of encouragement. Along with one who said, “the girls are lapping you, man.” I didn’t care. I had no pride left. I was just relieved my first tri swim was over.

It was humbling. But it was also the elevation.

Swam like a seal

My next triathlon in Santa Cruz went quite differently. At sea level, I entered the water last in my group and emerged before most of them. I could breathe this time and used my lanky ape arms to pass what seemed like a couple dozen fellow triathletes. I may have lapped a few people.

Feeling good, I slowed a bit to watch a seal about fifty yards off my starboard side. I shouldn’t have though because a girl bumped into my fantail, for which I apologized and resumed course and speed.

I did the “Aquabike” option of the Santa Cruz Tri—swim, bike. No run. Boom—finished second out of seven. It was glorious. Not bad for an old guy who couldn’t even walk 30 months before.

Don’t know, if you don’t Tri

If you’re intrigued with the challenge of a triathlon, do it. Don’t give in to doubt. It’s a blast. I’ve done two now and can’t wait for my next one.

pj placed 2nd in group

But don’t break your leg first. Yeah, it’s better when you don’t break your leg. Going through the ordeal of a fractured tibial plateau and rehab and losing my mobility was an uber bummer. But it was just what I needed.

But hey, you can do a triathlon without going through all that misery. Just get a decent road bike and a helmet and have fun. Ride some mass rides and maybe even a Gran Fondo. Hit the lap pool. Dust off your running shoes. Break a leg. Oops. I’m glad I did.

If you were encouraged or motivated by this article, please comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

121 Replies to “Break a leg. Do a triathlon.”

  1. Pingback: movies
  2. Today, I went to the beach with my children. I found a sea shell
    and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and screamed.
    There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never
    wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had
    to tell someone!


  3. I am curious to find out what blog platform you have been working with?

    I’m having some minor security issues with my
    latest blog and I would like to find something more safeguarded.
    Do you have any solutions?


  4. There are certainly loads of particulars like that to take into consideration. That is a nice level to carry up. I provide the thoughts above as basic inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you carry up where a very powerful factor shall be working in trustworthy good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, however I am certain that your job is clearly identified as a good game. Both girls and boys feel the affect of only a second抯 pleasure, for the rest of their lives.


  5. I’ve been browsing online more than 2 hours
    today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.


  6. Pingback: supreme hoodie
  7. Hi, I do think this is an excellent website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I’m going to return once again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.


  8. I have seen that car insurance businesses know the vehicles which are at risk from accidents and various risks. Additionally they know what style of cars are inclined to higher risk and the higher risk they’ve already the higher the premium charge. Understanding the uncomplicated basics of car insurance will help you choose the right sort of insurance policy that may take care of your requirements in case you get involved in an accident. Appreciate your sharing the particular ideas on your own blog.


  9. Pingback: valentino
  10. Pingback: yeezy boost
  11. I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic.
    I must spend some time studying much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for wonderful information I was looking for this info for my mission.


  12. Hello, Neat post. There is a problem with your
    website in internet explorer, may test this? IE still is the marketplace chief and a big element of other
    folks will miss your excellent writing due
    to this problem.


  13. Pingback: supreme hoodie
  14. Pretty component of content. I simply stumbled upon your web site and in accession capital to assert that I acquire actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Anyway I’ll be subscribing on your augment and even I achievement you get right of
    entry to persistently quickly.


  15. I do accept as true with all of the concepts you’ve introduced for your post.
    They are very convincing and will certainly work.
    Still, the posts are too quick for novices.
    May you please extend them a bit from next time?
    Thank you for the post.


  16. Pingback: nmd
  17. Excellent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how could i subscribe for a blog site?
    The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this
    your broadcast provided bright clear concept


  18. Pingback: nike air max
  19. Pingback: air jordan
  20. Pingback: yeezy boost 350 v2
  21. Pingback: yeezy boost 350 v2
  22. I’m very happy to discover this website. I wanted to thank you for ones time just for this fantastic read!!
    I definitely liked every part of it and I
    have you book marked to see new stuff on your site.
    pof natalielise


  23. Thanks on your marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it, you may be
    a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and will eventually come
    back sometime soon. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great
    posts, have a nice afternoon!


  24. Pingback: balenciaga
  25. Unquestionably believe that which you said. Your favorite reason seemed to be on the net the simplest thing to be
    aware of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people think
    about worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as
    defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could
    take a signal. Will likely be back to get more.
    Thanks natalielise pof


  26. Pingback: hermes belts
  27. Pingback: curry 4
  28. Pingback: huaraches
  29. Pingback: jordan shoes
  30. Hello! This post couldn’t be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate!
    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up
    to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!


  31. Pingback: nike cortez
  32. Pingback: jordan retro
  33. I’ve been browsing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It is pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all webmasters and
    bloggers made good content as you did, the internet will be a
    lot more useful than ever before.


  34. Pingback: nike air max 2018
  35. Pingback: air jordan 4
  36. Pingback: nike roshe
  37. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it’s truly informative.

    I’m going to watch out for brussels. I will be grateful if you continue this in future.

    A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!


  38. Pingback: nike foamposite
  39. Pingback: OMEGLE TV
  40. Greetings from Carolina! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to check out
    your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the information you present here and can’t wait to take a
    look when I get home. I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, wonderful blog!


  41. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after
    I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyhow, just wanted to say fantastic blog!


  42. Pingback: 8togel
  43. Pingback: Jayatogel
  44. Pingback: NinhBinh PuLuong
  45. You actually make it seem so easy with your
    presentation but I find this topic to be
    actually something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get
    the hang of it!


  46. We absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for.
    Do you offer guest writers to write content in your case?
    I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on many of the subjects you
    write concerning here. Again, awesome web site!


  47. When I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any means you’ll be able to take away me from that service? Thanks!


  48. Pingback: wheeltrick stats
  49. This is the suitable blog for anyone who desires to find out about this topic. You notice so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I truly would need匟aHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just nice!


  50. Pingback: forum
  51. Appreciating the persistence you put into your website and in depth information you present.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t
    the same outdated rehashed material. Great read!
    I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds
    to my Google account.


  52. Hey, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.
    When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening
    in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick
    heads up! Other then that, terrific blog!


  53. Just wish to say your article is as astonishing.
    The clearness for your put up is simply nice and i can think you’re knowledgeable on this subject.
    Well with your permission allow me to grasp your RSS feed
    to stay up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks one million and please keep up the enjoyable


  54. Thanks for the marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it,
    you may be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark
    your blog and will come back in the future. I want to encourage one to continue your great job,
    have a nice day!


  55. Hola! I’ve been following your website for a long time now and
    finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Texas!
    Just wanted to tell you keep up the excellent job!


  56. You’re so awesome! I do not think I’ve truly read anything like that before.
    So great to discover someone with some genuine thoughts on this subject matter.

    Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is required on the web, someone with a bit
    of originality!


  57. Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google,
    and found that it is truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels.
    I’ll be grateful if you continue this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing.


  58. Wonderful blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers?

    I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost
    on everything. Would you advise starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many
    options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed ..

    Any ideas? Thank you!


  59. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!


  60. I am no longer positive the place you are getting yourinformation, but good topic. I must spend some time learning muchmore or working out more. Thank you for great information Iused to be in search of this information for my mission.


  61. Yeah… Just so everyone knows, UberDoofus ate almost ALL of the filet mignon himself. The REAL cowboy in the crowd got almost ‘nuttin!! Sheesh…


  62. Sprint triathlon? Aquabike? Who knew these things existed? I guess a lot of things are out there if we look for them. The swimming seems like the easiest of the three to me.

    Good job, my friend. Show that leg-breaking bull who’s boss….


    1. thanks! If the swimming seems the easiest to you, you’d have an advantage over most new triathletes. the leg-breaking bull was in wrapped in butcher paper packets in one of our freezers … ’til we ate him 🍖😛.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.