An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Monday, September 16, 2013

A triathlon 50 years in the making

It's amazing the things that cross one's mind during long training sessions.

I started off this epic at 8:30 at Five Mile Lake, which I'm very familiar with and where I've done most of my open water swim workouts. The fog was just at the top of the trees as I waded out into the water. Driving to the lake I had envisioned being socked in at the center of the water... "MARCO!"

I quickly settled into a sustainable rhythm, relaxed, just ticking off the yards.Several times my goggles played tricks on me, making me think I was seeing blue skies opening up along the horizon. Nope. But it was just the water on the lens coupled with some color distortion from the light tint.

By the end of my first lap (of three) I could feel a spot on the back of my neck feeling hot. Uh oh. Wetsuit hickey! Lesson learned: When you think you've applied enough Bodyglide, put on a little more. Nothing to do for it at that point but just to keep going.

My mind wandered, Things I don't even remember, some I do -- like thinking it would be good to have a waterproof dict-a-phone so I could capture these fleeting thoughts... I knew I wouldn't remember them all. My pace was steady through the first two laps, but my speed dropped on the third, adding a couple minutes to my expected time.

I also remember thinking that it's good to be able to pop off an Ironman distance swim on almost no swim training.

I took my time with the transition from swim to bike. Full clothing change, making sure my feet were clean, walking to the car and getting the bike together and all my gear and food in my jersey pockets. My wife clicking off a couple pictures as I pedaled off into the slight mist.

I've said many times that your body essentially forgets the swim by the time you're on the bike for a couple miles. And for the most part that's true. But with such a long swim, you've dipped into your energy systems already and need to start refilling the tank almost immediately. I kept pulling on the water bottle, and was eating by 5 miles.
I'd put my lighter wheels for the day, wheels which I haven't ridden on since RAMROD last year. They do behave a little differently than the bomb-proof wheels and wide tires I ride on most days. The bike felt like a completely different animal, more lively, more responsive. Not in a bad way, but it took a few miles to settle into the feeling.

My chosen route was a double loop so that I could stop by home to refill water bottles, restock food, and take a little break. Add a PB&J, and in 15 minutes or so, I was back on the road for the second half of the ride.

There's a pug along the route that will come out and chase me. Oh, and it's on an uphill section of this route. And he's pretty fast, staying up with me into the low 20's for at least a little while. Usually it's not such a big deal to just jump out of the saddle and get past him. But I haven't seen him in a while. I thought maybe he'd moved, or been hit by a car. Well, he's fine and in full-speed health. On my first lap he ran out as normal, and I got past. But on the second lap he must have heard me early, because he ran out well before I even got to that house. And he brought a friend. I didn't want to sprint again, because I didn't want to dig into that well with so far to go still, so I just stopped -- "Dude, REALLY?!?! I'm not in the mood. Go home."  He didn't know what to do. He just stared at me. I started out again slowly, and he let me go.

The last bank-reader-board temperature I saw said 64 degrees. And it was still cloudy with occasional mist dropping on me. So much for the nice weather forecast of 80!

I'll admit that I did a little bit of chasing a round-number average speed on the bike, and finished at 18.0 mph for the rolling average.

Another easy transition at home, putting the bike away, another full wardrobe change, and I set out to the cheers of my wife and daughter.

On the run, I was starting tired, but still feeling pretty good. Smiling, at least. I kept my stride even and easy, not pushing hard with the calves (I've had issues with my calves running off the bike before). I ran the first two-plus miles non-stop, then started taking some walk breaks. Even then, I was running more than not.

Coming to the half-way point, my water bottle was near empty, so I stopped at the medical center there and refilled. Later, I figured out that it was past the half-way point, and when I got to eight miles, it kind of crept up on me. As tired as I was, though, when I put an intermediate goal of "run to that fence/telephone pole/fire hydrant, I didn't walk until I reached it. THAT is a victory.

The final hill just short of my house was a sweet success. And I walked into the driveway with the only fanfare playing in my head, no cheering crowds, no finish banner, no volunteer kids draping a finisher's medal around my neck.

In the end, I was very tired, but not so exhausted that I couldn't keep moving. And of course with having started out with the IM distance swim, and the overall effort being longer than a half-Ironman, there is the thought that maybe, with some more training, I could possibly do a full Ironman distance event. I mean, I did the swim with basically no swim training. Could I add another 31 miles to the bike leg? Sure. Could I add another 16 miles to the run? Uh... no. And I'm okay with that. Could I decrease the swim by 50%, the bike by 25 miles, and add 3 to the run? Sure. But then again, I don't really want to. I'm quite happy with the longer rides and shorter runs.

The tale of the tape is this:
Swim time - 1:19:26
T1 time -- 22:56
Ride time -- 4:56:19 (including all stops)
T2 time -- 20:50
Run time -- 1:45:46
Total time -- 8:45:19

I had done what I set out to do, a challenge I'd laid out for myself almost a year ago. I never geared my training for this day, I just wanted to throw myself at the distance with whatever I had from my daily regimen.

Saturday morning I went to the Inspired Ride Bicycles for the weekly group ride. The shop owner asked me why I did this personal triathlon. I've determined that, for any one asking that question, no answer will satisfy them. It's something that you kind of either understand or don't. For those that do, they don't need to ask.

So what was the day about? A large bit of self-affirmation, a piece of meeting a challenge I knew I wasn't fully prepared for, and a healthy dose of gut-check.

Besides, as mid-life crises go, putting in a long day isn't so bad.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Aren't I your mid-life crisis? Along with having a newborn just about a month prior to your 50th?!?

:-D <3