Orlando's Story

Mark Yurich | September 15, 2014

Why do I race triathlon?



I race triathlon to celebrate the gift of my good health and to nurture a positive outlook on my life. I raced the Tri Santa Cruz International recently. I had debated whether or not to participate in this race, mainly because I did not want risk getting injured the day before starting a new job. But I showed up in spite of my worries, and now I feel more confident, relaxed and ready to face the challenges at work. If I could only figure out how to shorten T1 to less than 5 minutes, my confidence would be supreme!

Orlando leaving T2 and looking ready to run!

I started triathlon training as my 50th birthday present to me. As a young adult I had participated in many organized bike rides, played soccer an frequently swam in the warm water of the Pacific Ocean in Central America. But I always thought of this kind of swimming, running and cycling as fun and easy entertainment. I never had to actually train for any of these activities, much less watch what I ate and how much of it. Sometimes during a soccer game we would crack open a six pack of beer and extend the half time indefinitely. Getting used to the discipline of triathlon training was very difficult at first. I had a really tough time getting up in time to make the 5:30AM workouts with my previous team.

I found solace in training while facing challenging circumstances in my personal life.

Having to watch my diet was even tougher. But with the support and encouragement from my coaches and fellow team members I was able to stay on track and kept training for my first race, the Wildflower Olympic distance. I had never had to dig so deep to find the strength to keep on toiling through pain and discomfort as I did during that race. But crossing the finish line gave me a feeling of exhilaration like nothing before this, and I could not wait to experience it again. I was hooked!

Like other athletes, I found solace in training while facing a challenging circumstance in my personal life. By being at track, the pool and on the bike with my teammates I felt I had the fortitude of body and spirit to face the situation, and to believe that I would be victorious and cross the finish line again, time after time. Now, with this challenge behind me, I am thankful I can partake of this grand celebration, this banquet where every athlete is a guest of honor and has a shot at the head table.

I have yet to conquer the ultimate triathlon challenge, the full distance. It’s a bucket list item, no rush. For now, triathlon race training has allowed me to:

Believe I can be successful even while facing circumstances beyond my comfort zone;

Honor and care for my body as it gets older;

Feel part of an amazing group of positive-minded people;

Swim in Aquatic Park with the most beautiful woman I know.

 Sounds pretty good to me. Why would I not want to keep doing this? Now if I could figure out how to shave a few minutes of my T1 time …

Orlando looking triumphant during a very scenic ride 

Orlando's post is posted in our very special blog section called "Your Stories." It is a place to honor fellow athletes who share their stories about why they race triathlons and other endurance sports.

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