I spent last weekend in Sonoma County, California, watching my husband Darren complete in the Vineman Triathlon. If you are not familiar with triathlons, they consist of a combination of swimming, biking and running. Triathlons come in several shapes and sizes; this particular event was a full version, meaning that competitors first swim 2.4 miles, then bike 112 miles and lastly run a 26.2 mile marathon. Darren had two challenges to contend with here. One was to finish the grueling day and the other was to make the cutoff times imposed on each event. In other words, if you took too long to finish one leg of the triathlon, you could not continue on to the other events that day.
Swimmers getting ready to start in the Russian River
The first event, the 2.4 mile swim in the Russian River, began for Darren at 6:40am. Then he moved on to the bike and to the marathon run. In each case he made the cutoffs and finished his run at about 10:20pm that evening, 15 hours and 40 minutes later. It was quite a great accomplishment! Even more so when one considers that many people competing were in their 20’s and 30’s and Darren, in his 40’s, kept slow and steady to his plan throughout the day.
Completing the Russian River swim
As I watched him train for the event, experiment with equipment and modify his diet, I was struck by the commitment that was needed to succeed at mastering all the disciplines involved as well as Darren’s progression approach to achieving this goal. He started over three years ago by running a half marathon and then moved up to an actual marathon finish. Then, after buying a bike and joining a gym, he added swimming and biking to his training routine, culminating in a half distance triathlon completion last September in Santa Cruz, California.
Moving from a half marathon to a full marathon and a half triathlon to a full one made his goal and overall success that much easier to attain. The swim event was especially difficult, as swimming in the ocean or a river is much, much different than a pool, and Darren had a lot to overcome there. When he got to Vineman last weekend he knew exactly how fast he needed to go for each discipline to finish and make the cutoffs. Having progressed to those full levels in his training provided needed confidence for each event. His actual splits that day were very close to those training times he had attained.
Transitioning to the 112 mile bike ride
Progression is something that Darren and I have always talked about as parents and something I relied upon heavily as a Girl Scout Leader for seven years. Wanting to expose the girls to the overnight camping and day trip experiences that I enjoyed as a child in Girl Scouts necessitated taking small, steady steps toward the goals of a three night tent overnighter away from home and day trips by train and ferry to San Diego and Catalina, respectively, for girls who were 11 to 13 years old. All of this required undertaking smaller scale activities (tents in a backyard, day trips locally) to gain experience and a comfort level for everyone before moving on to the bigger and ‘scarier’ stuff. In the end I had some great experiences with those girls and they had a wonderful time too.
Running the 26.2 mile marathon
Progression is indeed a good way to move from one’s comfort zone into new and uncharted territory, whether it is related to personal achievement, sporting event or even a new business skill or team goal. I am very proud of Darren’s approach to his triathlon and in awe of his accomplishment. It has inspired me to plan my next goal and the progression strategy that will help me get there. I am convinced that almost anything can be accomplished by using progression as a method of planning and moving through the journey to whatever your aspirations might be.