To say I have never been a big fan of exercise is probably an understatement. After my second son was born I grudgingly took up running because I thought it was the quickest way to get back into my “pre-baby” pants. The first time I ran, I did it in the dark so nobody would see me, and made it about a kilometre to the train tracks, then turned around and walked back home, panting and wheezing like a 90 year old asthmatic. Eventually I joined the Running Room, ran my first 5 km race, then slowly (very slowly) progressed to run a half marathon with a smoking time of 2 hours and 28 minutes. Then I did another one, and another, and another. I got to the point that I actually almost liked running.
Then about 5 years ago my sister Kristen, who had always been interested in this crazy sport called triathlon, convinced me and my brother Alan to join a triathlon team. I didn’t own a road bike and hadn’t swam since I was about 7 years old when I was forced to quit swimming lessons (which I hated) because the chlorine in the pool made my nose bleed. It’s little wonder since the chlorine they used in those days was probably strong enough to strip paint.
We joined a Masters swimming club (contrary to what I believed “Master” did not mean professional, it just meant “old”), and the Hubby let me use his old road bike and the mag trainer I bought him for Christmas one year under the delusion he would actually use it. We did indoor bike workouts in our coaches’ basement, carefully supervised by Ranger, their border collie. Ranger had a thing for licking the sweat off people’s legs while they stretched on the floor at the end of the workout.
It was the first time I had “trained” for a sport, and not just “exercised” to lose weight. It was also the first time my siblings and I had connected since well before our cranky and angst-ridden teenage years. For the next three years we trained and drove to races together, sometimes leaving so early in the morning it was still dark, even in late July. We would pile into the car, complete with enough gear to stock a sporting goods store, and make the requisite trip to Timmies (Starbucks is too cool to be open at 5am). There was a rule that there was to be no talking for the first half hour or so. It was just better that way. Then we would start chatting about how fucking tired we were, how cold the water was going to be, how much the run (or the swim or the bike) would suck. And how much fun it would be. We would analyze our previous races, our competitors, and the potential outcomes of the day’s race. We pushed and encouraged each other through the long drives and pre-race jitters. We consoled and congratulated each other on the long drives home.
Eventually the triathlon team sort of dissolved and we went our separate training ways. I moved away from triathlon to focus on cycling. Kristen continued training for triathlon, did her second half Ironman last summer, and is registered to to her first full Ironman in Penticton next year. My brother always manages to stay in astonishingly great shape in spite of a very travel intensive job that takes him out of the country sometimes for months at a time. He swims and bikes and runs in place as far away as Australia and Africa.
We may not get to work out together, or even see each other as much as we would like. But when we do get together, usually at birthdays and holidays, the rest of our family is subjected to our incessant talk of training and racing. I am quite sure it is insufferable.
Goodness knows being siblings isn’t a guarantee of being friends. Heck, in many cases is doesn’t even mean you like each other. I find it interesting that as much as my siblings are responsible for introducing me to my love of sports and eventually cycling, it is also those things that helped reintroduce me to my siblings, and create a new bond between us that I love and will always treasure.