As the name of this blog suggests, it includes topics about triathlon and rowing. But, the title of the blog has now changed into 'Triathlon and Cycling in Greece'. Why is that?
Firstly, I would like to say that I am a huge fan of rowing. The sport of rowing fits me exceptionally well. I have the right body shape for this sport and it's a perfect exercise too, as it's a sport that trains the entire body (one rowing stroke uses about 80% of your body muscles! Which other gym machine do you know that can do this?). In addition, I have performed pretty well as a part-time rower: I've participated in 4 Greek indoor rowing championships, I've managed two first places and two second places, plus a national record that I set in 2009. I also raced in the European Championship in 2012 finishing a respectable 7th place between top rowers all across the continent. I loved and I still love rowing a lot, it gives me a complete satisfaction and fulfilment when I train, race and improve my conditioning on this machine.
But, the main obstacle is equipment provision. Indoor rowing is not popular in Greece. I really straggled a lot to identify a gym near my home, which can provide an indoor rower. Between about a dozen of gyms, only 1 of them had an indoor rower - just one machine and yet that was an old make model that did not give correct and accurate readings anymore.. On top of this the subscription fees to this particular gym were exceptionally high - I was paying around EUR 180 for a three month subscription..back then (to give you an idea, an annual gym subscription in Greece costs on average around EUR 250). But, I didn't mind, as I was so excited about it and I was willing to take off cash out of my pocket for indoor rowing.
Now this has changed and it's a kind of luxury for me to keep doing this. In addition, I couldn't find any partners interested to share training sessions and keep myself motivated. I was fine training on my own during the first 2 years about 5 times a week, but I gradually realised that I needed a kind of a team to keep my excitement going forwards. Furthermore, there were not many (only 1 actually..) indoor races organised in Greece. Apart from the main indoor rowing championship held every December in Athens, there wasn't anything particularly going on around this sport in general. I was training hard and consistently for 5 months only to race a 3 minutes event once a year. This wasn't what I was looking for. I wanted some more action and competition around me, which I couldn't find.. I had huge reserves of energy to put into rowing, but there was only one event every year that gave me the chance to release it. Not enough for me.
So, during this year ( Aug. 2013), I decided to switch into different sports with the hope to involve myself in races all year around and in addition to find some training partners. In these terms, triathlon was always a very exciting idea at the back of my mind. I was racing triathlon events during my indoor rowing season, as a means to cross-train and refresh my mind. I soon realised that triathlon provided more or less what I was looking for: Action, competition, many events, chance to meet other athletes easily, train with others, direct access to commonly found equipment/facilities (bike, track field, swimming pool), challenges and a very variable mixture of three different sports all in one...etc .etc...
So, 2013 has been the turning point for me in terms of sports. I leave indoor rowing behind (sadly) to welcome triathlon and cycling too! Both sports have exploded in popularity in Greece especially during the last 2 years. There are now more than 30 annual race events in Greece all together for triathlon and cycling. Every time I take my bike and cycle out, there would be at least one person that I will join or know from somewhere. My training and fitness have also improved dramatically since August, when I finalised my decision to make the change into triathlon and cycling.
I feel refreshed and motivated now. A nice way to welcome 2014 too!
See you out there and wish you all a happy 2014 with plenty of sports action, health and race events! :)
(my bike dressed up for Xmas! On the background: the shiny cover bag of my windsurf race board)