Shortly after completing my first triathlon a few weeks ago, a question started bouncing around the inside of my head.

And it wasn't: "So, where's the nearest Chuck-A-Rama?"

While thrilled to achieve something I really never considered possible for me — voluntarily and consecutively swimming 360 yards, biking 12 miles and running a 5K without police chasing me — I asked myself: "Is this something cool I did, or is this what I do now?

"Will this go down as a fun accomplishment I once did back in the spring of '08, or is this who I am now and who I'll continue to be?

"Am I a triathlete or just a dude who sucked it up long enough to do one triathlon?"

OK, so that was actually three questions. I guess I'm still in three-for-one mode. The point is, I really want to make this new focus on exercise a major part of my life. Chances are, if I continue down this healthy road, I won't end up back on the frustrating diet path that seems to eventually detour me back into 300-plus-pound territory.

I definitely prefer life in the fast lane — or at least the slow-but-steady, nonfat lane — over that dead-end road.

But I've found myself also asking: "Am I capable of doing this, of getting down to a healthy and normal weight, of breaking my fat cycle (not talking about my bike here) and of losing so much flab I can actually fit into ridiculously small Banana Republic clothes my wife dreams about?"

The key, of course, will simply be to "keep on keeping on." That's why instead of just celebrating my first triathlon, I signed up for another one. After a brief resting and recuperating period (translation: "a couple of lazy days"), I went back to work.

I'm now a repeat triathlete. That's right. Last Saturday, I completed the Pleasant Grove Triathlon, including its beast of a mile-long hill that tortured me on the 5K run and again twice on the nearly 9-mile bike ride. But, hey, at least the refreshing 500-meter outdoor pool swim wasn't uphill.

Next up: the Echo Triathlon on July 12. (I'm still looking to see if being pulled by a boat in a lake swim is legal or not.)

For me, training for specific races has been a great motivator to exercise and eat well. I can now comfortably jog three miles — well, there's still plenty of heavy panting, sweating and burning sensations, but at least I don't feel like calling 911 or a taxicab — and I'm excited to find out what my body is capable of achieving without carrying these extra 50 or 60 pounds around.

My 5K times are now between 32 1/2 and 36 1/2 minutes — times that are fast for me but slow enough that passers-by might be tempted to ask if they can help give me a push to the side of the road.

This leads to another question that's been on my mind: "How fast can I get my body to move?" (And, no, I'm not referring to speeds I'm capable of during the last call at all-you-can-eat buffets here, either.)

I broke the 10-minute mile barrier last week (9:58 baby!) ... can I get under 9 or 8 or even (gasp!) 7 nonmotorized minutes per mile? And can I sustain that for 3 miles or 6 or (gasp!) longer?

A lot of questions. Guess I'll never know the answers unless I continue my training.

And I really want to know.

Sports writer Jody Genessy, who's lost 146 pounds, writes a weight-loss column. E-MAIL: [email protected]