Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Is There a Rosetta Stone to Speak Triathlete?

Confession time. I'm not really as original as I make myself out to be. I have to admit, some of my best blog post ideas stem from the conversations I have with the people around me. The rest of them are usually a result of me doing something stupid but we won't focus on that, this time. So the other day I was talking with one of my good triathlete friends about a swim set. Now I have explained to him, several times, the break down of sets--one length is a 25, one lap is a 50, a 100 is four lengths, and so forth. The hope was that by explaining this he would understand what I mean when I "speak in sets". Well that didn't work out as planned, since the next time we were talking about swim sets he goes, "So how many down and backs is that?" I can't help but laugh, but when I stopped to think about it, this actually happens more often than not.

When one of my non-triathlete friends asks me how my training is going I try and keep it simple. I quite enjoy when someone says, "So are you riding your bike outside in this weather?!" And I reply with, "No, my bike is hooked up to a trainer and I do all my rides inside in aero." There's usually a brief moment of silence and puzzled looks usually begin to form over the person's face before I realize that this person has no idea what a trainer or the aero position are. "Ohhh!" They'll say. "So it's like a stationary bike, huh? And you're like one of those crazy people that lay down on your handle bars?" Actually, I'm a Grade-A badass my friend, because I can ride my bike with no handlebars....since I have aero bars ;)

Now don't get me wrong, triathlon talk was not my first language and I picked up a lot of the lingo from listening to people and reading articles. After a while though it becomes second nature to just drop words like PR, threshold, RI, VO2, or to say things like "Yea I was at about a zone 3 on the last ride," or "I had a major bonk on that last run, and I forgot to bring my honey stinger chews!" The first time I used the word "bonk" around my dad he stopped me mid sentence and said, "Wait, what did you do? How did you hit your head running?" I was confused, I hadn't said anything about hitting my head? It took me a few seconds to realize that he was associating the word bonk with a head injury. Although, I'm clumsy enough that I very well might have hit my head running.

I have to give my family and friends a lot of credit though, they have been pretty open and receptive to trying to speak my language. But I'm not sure if it's funnier to hear them say something ridiculous or get a response like, "I have no idea what you're talking about? What the hell is a PR?" As of now there is no functional Rosetta Stone program to speak triathlete, but I'm sure if you were to go to the pool at 6am, hit up the bike path at 5:45 or wait around at any Starbucks between 7:30-8am you could easily find one, get some practice in and strike up a conversation. Learn the difference between Shimano and SRAM, what type of shoe is best for someone who over-pronates, and you can even crack a joke about the latest line of perfume, O'De Chlorine. But if you get lost in translation just refer back to how hungry or tired you are, this is a safe space for the non-triathlete-linguist to be since any triathlete you actually talk to will always be happy to whine about how hungry or tired he or she is.

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