Posted by: pursuingsub17 | August 3, 2009

Nutrition, genetics, and spending habits of triathletes


I have a food hangover. Marc, my best friend and Marc’s friend and fellow triathlete all attended the Heritage Days festival. We ate and ate and ate – from donairs to kimchee to lefse. When we got home, we had to have a 15 minute nap. Marc went back to work to finish a reno project and I stuck my head in the freezer to see what we had for left overs – both for dinner tonight (if possible) and to determine what I need to buy and what I can use for the next two weeks. Despite feeling immensely ill from all the “meat on a stick” that I ate today, I still have to focus on my nutrition for the next two weeks before the race (pasta – chicken – fish). That’s something else I’ve learned about becoming an athlete – a constant obsession with food and finding that balance between the science behind food and just freakin’ enjoying it!

Something else occured to me this weekend. I met my cousin – the one whose birthday I missed two weeks ago – for a belated birthday lunch at a high end restaurant. She showed me the “Coach” purse she bought and proceeded to tell me about the different designer jeans she’s been looking at. There was a point in my life where Vogue and Elle were my constant sources of reference and I was on top of what was hot and what was not. I was her age at that time (25) and didn’t mind dishing out $200 for a pair of jeans with strategically placed “rips”. She went on about designers I’ve never heard of while I feigned interest. I if she had have mentioned 2XU or Zoot or Shebeast or Orca or Decente, I would not only get it, I would feel more animated in the conversation. Do I spend the same amount of money as her? Most likely. But it also hit me that there is no way on God’s green earth would she understand why someone would want to spend $500 on a wetsuit. That’s when I realized that I am now officially unusual, weird, nuts, and have joined the ranks of “triathlete”.

I would rather spend my hard earned paycheque on top of the line $200 tri-shorts and tops and bike gadgets and triathlete magazines than purchase a bling bling designer bag that I couldn’t fit a spare co2 cartridge in. What happened to me?

Another thing occurred to me this evening, sipping on water to aid in the digestion of the mass protein occupying space in my gut. I was reading the latest Triathlete mag – facinated by the science behind the central governor model of fatigue – when I came across an article called “the Physiology of Triathlon” by Jordan  Metzl, MD. Very interesting indeed but it opened with the comment that triathlon – even athletic – potential is 60 to 70 percent genetically predetermined.

Suddenly, I’m paralyzed by fear that I will never, ever, be able to finish in the top 30% of my age group in any future race. Really? I started going through my lineage. I am the first and thus far only one in the family on both sides to ever attempt to do any athletic feat, never mind run a marathon or aim to do an Ironman. I’m definitely the only one beyond the age of 40 to consider doing an athletic race. My grandmother on my mom’s side played basketball. My father played hockey and baseball. Everyone else has done nothing. My mother, who is by far not considered overweight, walks the dogs for a half hour in the morning. One of my cousins used to swim, and two others (including the recently turned 25 year old) has expressed an interest in running since I took it up. The 25  year old is fairly athletic – she does aerobic exercise and lifts weights.

This leaves me wondering….given the odds against me, can I aim to qualify for Kona or the Boston Marathon?

Damn straights – I’m a stubborn triathlete obsessed with the science of nutrition and who would never bat an eye at spending next month’s grocery funds on a comfy pair of bike shorts :).

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