Jul 11, 2014
Training for my first Ironman-distance Triathlon: Part 1
Vasu Primlani is a Delhi-based stand-up female comedian, training for her first Ironman-distance triathlon, this September.
The Outdoor Journal
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In this first post in our new blog series, she explains why she decided to experience one of the world’s toughest endurance events.
Okay, so this is one of the things that divides the Eastern and Western worlds. When an American or European hears I am training for an Ironman distance, the response is ‘Wow!’ An Eastern person has a different monosyllabic query: ‘Why?’
To answer that question: I don’t quite know why myself. However, I can take a stab at the answer. One, I know, is that I love to explore the boundaries of my limits. I love living in the magical world of possibilities and impossibilities. I love shedding the comfort of the familiar to traverse into the unknown, even though it leaves me blind initially. Same reason I love snakes – I love pushing the envelope of what I know is possible for me, to what I haven’t done. Yet.
I grew up with the sweet pain of growing and ruptured muscles. I love the process of turning my body from a Maruti 800 into a BMW. I feel alive when I feel that pain. I know the separate muscles in my body from each separate vocalization. Also, I guess I love flow – the flow of water past me as I swim, the flow of the rain and wind while I run or bike. We wake up on our bikes, we sigh into a ride.
Two, my world is increasingly about sanctity. While most people have a non-extant relationship at best, or a dysfunctional one at worst with their bodies; an athlete respects her body. A triathlete goes further and worships her body. In expanding the realm of our physical abilities several-fold during training, we learn to listen carefully to our bodies, to tweaks and pings and pops. We honor our bodies, provide food and fluids that are best for us. And when it comes time for blueberry cheesecake, we hide under the bed, weep fat tears, and eat it.
Or perhaps I am doing it because I am too idiotic to not do it. I never did have much sense about me. The Ironman triathlon is considered one of most arduous races in the world, with a 3.8 km (most often open water) swim, 180 km bike ride, followed by a 42.2 km run – the full marathon. These three legs put together exponentially increase the difficulty; the race is not just the simple addition of these numbers.
Training involves six months of consistent and constant practice and drills. For me, it’s been a journey of blood, toil, tears and sweat. It’s been on-again, off-again training. In November I fell off my bicycle (on my own, I might add), which resulted in six injuries including a thumb no one wanted to look at (or dress, for that matter!), with an underlying ligament tear which prevented me from braking on my bicycle for six months, so no bicycle training for me. I think I broke a shoulder too (among cyclists I hear you are not considered a real cyclist until you’ve flown off your handlebars and cracked a collarbone, so I’m pretty close). And that’s a pretty funny story too – how two women were taking off my torn clothes with blood on them in a hotel bathroom with me screaming the place down.
I did the Abu Dhabi short course in May (1.5 km swim, 100 km bike ride and 10 km run) with virtually no training on the bike, and hardly any running). Soon as I got back into training, in June I got typhoid and did seven shows (I am a standup comedian) in the first eight days of my typhoid running a fever at 103° F, back-breaking pain and splitting headaches, but that cost me another month of no training. The silver lining? It was my personal weight reduction program: I lost 10 kgs in 10 days.
Now I’m back in training, with two months to go for the Ironman distance, and each time, I’ve had to start from scratch. This blog is that journey.. the daily strife, the workouts done is exhaustion, sorrow, through pain, and some workouts that left me on top of the world! This is a journey through Indian bureaucracy to get pool access, through running and biking the streets of Delhi as a woman, the workout regimen, and the recovery after.
Through this journey I’ve gotten some new standup routines and how Indians swim, and how Delhi men behave when they see a woman. For these and more, stay tuned.
About Vasu Primlani: Vasu Primlani is a standup comedian, host, corporate trainer, triathlete, and a highly celebrated environmentalist. She teaches sustainability in business schools, and teaches rock climbing. She will be participating in her first full Ironman in September of this year.