Getting in the Race
Last summer, I volunteered at a triathlon for the first time. My job was to check that athletes in the transition area were all set to go. With the hot Miami sun beating down, I gave advice to competitors who were novices in the triathlon world. It seemed unreal: me, advising triathletes!
Three years ago, I could hardly sit on a bicycle. I weighed 290 pounds and was completely sedentary. I just didn't seem to have any time—not for myself and especially not for working out. Then I went to a routine doctor's appointment. All my numbers were bad—blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose—and I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The doctor told me that in order to survive, I needed to change my habits and get healthy.
If the diagnosis wasn't enough to motivate me, something else was: I have a 6-year-old son who sees me as his superhero. It was clear that it was time to turn my life around. I woke up the next morning, got my bicycle out of the garage, and rode for 2 1/2 miles. It was enough to leave me exhausted for the rest of the day. But every week I added a few more miles and kept at it, as I did with my new low-carb meal plan.
In the first 18 months, I dropped 70 pounds. Then I spent the next year stuck at that weight. I had reached a plateau, but instead of giving up, I worked out more. I started to swim and run in addition to my daily bike ride. Immediately, my weight started slowly decreasing again. Soon, I realized I was practicing all the pieces of a triathlon: swimming, biking, and running. To make it official, I began signing up for competitive races.
In my first triathlon, I made all kinds of mistakes but learned a lot. I learned it's important to get up early and arrive at the race site with plenty of time to warm up. I learned that a small cap at the end of the bicycle handlebar holds the grip in place—and that race officials will send you home if you don't have one. I'm still no expert, but last year I competed in four triathlons, which is more than I ever dreamed I'd do.
Today, I work out three hours a day. I still need to lose 40 more pounds, but now I know for sure that I can do it. My wife isn't jealous of my bicycle anymore. Instead, she acts as my coach and has mastered the ins and outs of triathlon timing and technique.
About a year ago, I invited two friends to join me on a team for a triathlon relay. I did the swimming leg of the race, and we ended up taking first place. It was a real milestone for me, not just because of that day's victory, but because I realized I'm winning much more than one race in life.
Glauco Frizzera, 47, lives in Miramar, Fla., with his wife, Andressa, and son, Victor. A photographer and video conference specialist, he is working on a master's degree in sports management at Barry University.