I hope you read the title of today’s post in your head exactly like the announcer used to do for the “Pigs in Space” segments on the old “Muppet Show.” Because the news this week of the world’s first zero-gravity triathlon deserves that kind of volume and reverb.
If you’re like me, you have days where you feel like a Muppet; that the only way you’re gonna get off the couch and be active is if someone else is pulling the strings for you (or gets up your backside like a good personal trainer can sometimes do.) The next time this feeling overcomes you, just think of NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and remember what she accomplished while orbiting 240 miles above the earth.
Competing at the same time as the athletes below her, Williams took part from the International Space Station where she “swam” 0.8 miles, biked 18 miles, and ran 4 miles in a time of 1:48:33. And while you may think “How hard can it be to do this while weightless?” the Space Station is set up with training equipment, a critical component for those who spend long periods in space to prevent muscle and bone density loss.
Williams rode a stationary bike and ran on a treadmill for those legs of the race and was strapped into harnesses providing resistance on something called the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device to simulate the swimming portion. This isn’t Williams’ first go-round with a “space race.” A lifelong athlete, Williams ran the Boston Marathon in 2007 while orbiting in the Space Station, finishing the 26.2 miles on her treadmill in 4:23:10.
photo credit: NASA TV