“Which one is yours?” he asked. I still remember the look of shock on his face as I pointed to myself. It wasn’t meant as an insult, just genuine surprise. That’s to be expected sitting in a room full of teenagers and their parents. You see I’m not your typical runner, I train for an event called Modern Pentathlon. Consisting of 5 sports (swimming, fencing, equestrian show jumping, running, shooting), it’s sort of an quirky event. The only sport specifically created for the Olympics, its very rare here in the US typically being done only by young Olympic hopefuls.
I think what elicited the surprise was that I didn’t take it up until after I was 30 and, following an extended break from training after the birth of my son, didn’t try my hand at competition until 34. I never did sports and hadn’t really trained for anything, so to pick it up at this point in my life is a bit unusual. I’ve been asked many times what got me into it and I still don’t have answer. An obsession with the Olympics? Trying to fight off getting old? Too much time on my hands? Take your choice (except who has too much time these days, especially with a two year old).
As I prepare for Pentathlon number two, my days start at 5am so that I can get a workout before work, another one at lunch, and finally some drills at night after putting my son to bed. Each week I run 5 times, swim 3 to 4 times, go to open fencing one night and do short sessions of drills every other. It’s tight to fit it all in, and I wish I could say I always get enough sleep, but I always try to leave time for my family. It helps that my wife does the long runs on the weekends with me, she’s more supportive of this crazy idea than I ever could ask for.
What drove me to Marc was getting lapped by a 15 year old at my first Pentathlon. I may be older, but I don’t have to resign myself to simply being old. I wanted someone who could take a look at what I was doing and help direct me to get the most out of myself. He’s helped me put together a performance plan that’s increased my endurance and made me faster than I’ve ever been. I’m a few months from turning 35 and I may never make the Olympics, but I don’t think that matters. I’ve met some great people, learned some fun skills, gotten in the best shape of my life, and pushed myself out of my comfort zone and into doing something I never thought possible.