Internet inspiration and perspiration

On trigeekdreams.com, anonymous triathlete shares tales of training

June 01, 2006|By JESSICA BERTHOLD | JESSICA BERTHOLD,MORNING CALL

If you have zero athletic inclination, Tri-Geek Dreams (trigeekdreams.com) probably isn't the blog for you. But if, like many of us, you've vague notions that someday you'll run a marathon, or climb Mount Everest, or trek across Nepal, this blog could be the kick in the shorts you need.

The site charts the journey of a middle-age idler who up and decided he wanted to do a triathlon. Alternately self-deprecating and self-satisfied, the blogger refers to himself in the third person as "The Kahuna" and serves up plenty of progress notes on miles biked and sports gear purchased.

Where the blog really shines, though, is in its more thoughtful posts about the ups and downs of pursuing a dream and in capturing the sense of community that triathletes share. At the least, Tri-Geek Dreams lets you peer into a distinct world and get a sense of what it might be like to live there. At most, it might entice you to dust off those sneaks and hit the pavement yourself.

The blog's 45-year-old creator is a journalist in Southern California. Athletic in his youth, he fell out of the exercise habit when he and his wife started raising kids. Eventually, the Kahuna tired of his sagging physique and started triathlete training in 2004; now he's just eight months away from his first Ironman Qualifier race. He remains anonymous for professional reasons.

Why'd you decide to be a triathlete?

I was a swimmer and water polo player in college, but I got out of shape after we had the kids. I was disgusted with my physical shape. A friend at work was doing triathlons and got me into it.

You got into it pretty fast.

I'm not getting any younger. I've watched the Ironman on TV every year, and I just thought someday I'd do that. I have four boys and a fairly demanding job, and I realized it just means getting up earlier and not watching TV at night, then some long weekend training. It's just a matter of cutting out wasted time.

So what's great about the triathlon scene?

Well, there's this one race in the middle of nowhere that is sort of like Woodstock. There are thousands of people hanging out, and students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo help out at the stations, and one of the traditions is that they are all naked. They have big parties afterward; it's just nuts.

I always wondered if triathletes were too healthy to party.

Before the race, everyone is really nervous and quiet and goes to bed early, but after the race it is just crazy. A lot of time people have stopped drinking a month or two before, so after the race everyone is just letting loose.

What's the personality of a triathlete?

Generally they are the A personality types who are a tad obsessive, and this is a good outlet for them because they can obsess over something that's not horrible, but is actually good for you. Physically, they come in all shapes and sizes. I can feel great because I'm cruising by a 28-year-old guy, and then some 60-year-old will come blazing by me.

Is your family athletic, and do they read the blog?

My wife's a 10-time marathon finisher so she's big into working out, and my boys are all athletic in different ways. My wife doesn't really understand the blog; she just thinks it's this crazy thing I do and spend too much time on. But my four boys like to read it.

Do you censor yourself because you know your sons might be reading?

Oh yeah, but not too much. I won't talk about my cocaine binges [laughs].

Have you changed your diet since becoming a triathlete?

I was pretty good before, so there hasn't been a huge change. I have stopped drinking and eating pizza. No more pizza and beer.

Could a non-athlete get something out of this blog?

I have a lot of readers who are dreaming about getting in shape. I've gotten some touching e-mails from people who said, "I haven't done anything but I want to start."

Do you feel disdain for nonathletes?

One of my more controversial posts was when I wrote that secretly, in my black heart, I feel superior to people at work, to the poor slobs drinking coffee and eating doughnuts. People got really [angry] about that ... I feel a little like an evangelical Christian. I want people to do what I do because their lives could be better and more.

Jessica Berthold writes for the Morning Call of Allentown, Pa.

TRIGEEKDREAMS.COM

In a word:

Red-blooded.

E-candy for:

Jocks and wannabe jocks.

In sum:

A middle-aged man's journey from couch potato to triathlete.

This blog as a person:

The neighbor who, as you walk to the corner store for a pint of Ben & Jerry's, vigorously breezes by you during his daily 5-mile run.

Sample topics:

Training updates. A confession about peeing in the pool. Meditations on failure and staying the course. Stories about triathlete friends. Good songs to listen to during a run. Race and ride photos.

Classic Post:

"Like Clark Kent, the Kahuna moves through his day without most people knowing he's living a double life -- that he's training for a race in which he'll travel 140.6 miles in a single day swimming, biking and running ... His doctor doesn't know why the Kahuna's blood pressure has lowered to 110/70 ... The waitress at the Mexican food restaurant doesn't know why the Kahuna pushes aside the chips without taking one. The Kahuna likes his double life." (Feb. 15, 2006.)

Making it happen:

A 45-year-old journalist in Southern California.

Created:

October 2004.

Updates:

About once a day.

Writing:

Lively, but slightly smug.

Design:

Basic blogger format. Right rail has fun tidbits such as a heart rate calculator and map that pinpoints site visitors.

Comments allowed?

Yes

Popularity:

About 350 unique visitors/day.

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