(New? Read part one here.)
As I was saying, I had forgotten, truly forgotten, how much forethought, goes into triathlon. Let's take a trip on the wayback machine, waaaayback to my first trip to Lake Anna in June 2008 for a simple swim/bike practice with D.C. Tri Club. In 2008, the lovely NOD (that would be Number One Daughter, as some of you already know) put this checklist inside the front door to make sure I didn't forget anything:
say, like, Chocolate Chip cookies! (Like I said, just the essentials!)
In my last post, I exposed my fears, worries and fallback position of "I don't even know where my wetsuit is!"
But as the days ticked by, one thing led to another.
My friend and mentor Becky egged me on.
And then I swam 700 m straight in the pool.
And then I found the wetsuit.
And some ShotBloks.
And some throwaway flip-flops.
And the next thing I knew, just like Mitt Romney, I was shaking up the etch-a-sketch, erasing the past two years of triathlon boycott, and on my way to Lake Anna!
Thankfully, there were four swim waves, in this order:
1st: Olympic confident swimmers
2nd: Olympic less confident swimmers
3rd: Sprint confident swimmers
4th: Sprint less confident swimmers
(Can I just say that I LOVE the pc-ness of these swim labels?!?! This is what makes America great--everyone's a winner!)
(Also, for those new to triathlon, Olympic distance is 1,500 swim, 22 mile bike, 10k run. Sprint is half of those.)
What a relief. Clearly organized by someone who understands me!
Into the lake I went. For the first 200 meters I pretty much let the wetsuit swim for me. It's buoyant! Then i tried to focus on not having a heart attack. Then i tried to focus on different elements of my stroke. Finally I resorted to counting. In the world of sprint triathlons, I took forever. People have finished Ironman swims in less time. But I had plenty of company, and people were even laughing and having fun. While swimming.
750 M: 25 min
As usual, I made my graceful exit:
I emerged dizzy, disoriented, with a headache but oh-so-pleased with myself. I did it! The rest was gravy.
I think I took about 8 minutes in T1 (transition 1). But I was so happy, I couldn't have cared less what my time was. Breakthru thinking people!
The bike out started on an uphill. Which is kind of a challenge, if you're me. So I dropped my chain and the nice bikeout volunteer helped me put it back on. Which is a big no-no in an "official" tri, but no problem in this one!
The bike route was just pure fun. Because there were so many people doing the Olympic and they had started at different times, I was never alone. I wish more race directors would take a clue from Peasantman! It wasn't too hot, the sky was clearing, there were few cars, and we were in a state park. What's not to like?!
11 miles: 1:05
My extensive bike training clearly shows. But I was just so happy!
And then came the 5k run. I have only recently re-ignited my illustrious running career (hello, see name of blog you are reading) by using the Couch to 5k program on my iPhone, which I highly recommend. It's a very gradual intro to running. So with no time goals in mind, I was delighted to do a walk/run ratio of 3 min walk/ 8 min run. And that's what I did. For 4.3 miles.
Wasn't this supposed to be 3.1??
Around the 2 mile point, one of the volunteers cheerily informed us that the course was long--actually 4.3 miles instead of 3.1. Thank God I wasn't trying to beat any records, or I would have shriveled up and died. But people seemed to take it in stride. We just kept on putting one foot in front of the other.
This is why I love triathlon. It really teaches you that if you're going to survive, you have to learn to make the best of whatever comes your way. LESSONS, people, LESSONS!
The other reason I love triathlon? Even though I am OLD and SLOW, just about every single person who passed me said, "Good job!" or some encouraging thing.
Triathletes! They really are special.
4.3 mile run: 50:40 minutes.
And anyway, how could anyone get upset with signs like this?!
With a huff and puff, I skipped the last few walk breaks and ran it in.
Utterly and completely delighted with myself!
And at the finish line? Were these:
Stacks and stacks of them! I have never seen so many cupcakes in my life!
I felt sick to my stomach and my head hurt. And? I have never felt so good in my life!
I had only one thought, as I passed on the mounds of cupcakes that were gently whispering my name, and the piles of food at the barbeque:
Please sir, I want some more.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Hmm, what's the best way to explain Peasantman? Perhaps I'll just quote a bit from the Athlete's guide to give you a flavor (and I encourage you to go read the rest of it if you need a good laugh):
Hello Peasant Class Citizens,
The greatest day of your lives is here. For many of you, this will be your first swim, bike, and run combo event of any kind. A few of you may not be able to sleep the night before. Others will likely pee a lot inside their wetsuits prior to the swim.
All I have to say is, please bring a cup or wear your favorite chastity belt underneath your wetsuit. Assuming the later isn’t from the Ballston/Claredon/Court House corridor, where chastity is frowned upon. (n.b.: This is a sophisticated D.C. humorous geographical reference.)
For some, this event will bring validation of all their training and hard work. For others, it will be a rude awakening of work that lies ahead. It may scare many to see what a real open water swim entails.
Getting molested during an open water swim is not as fun as the liberal media may portray it to be. If things do not go as you expect, I give you the below quote.
"Courage doesn't always roar, sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying "I will try again tomorrow."
To the new triathletes among us, you guys are doing something that few even have the courage to attempt. I applaud you for that. I’d applaud you louder if you resist the temptation to pee in the lake. If you don’t, it won’t matter – the discharge from the nuclear power plant at Lake Anna will zap anything you discharge. (n.b.: More local humor.)
One of my favorite quotes is “life is not measured by the number of breath that we take but by the moments and places that take our breaths away.” Success or failure, this will be one of those moments for you. Embrace it! Live it! ... for there is only one first time.
The best way I can explain Peasantman is to say it's a training triathlon with both Sprint and Olympic distance options, takes place at Lake Anna (Virginia); the sprint is a 750 meter swim in Lake Anna, followed by 11 mile bike ride, followed by a 5k run. Exactly like a real tri except for all the rules. So, for instance, if you find yourself unable to finish the swim, it is perfectly acceptable to get out early and continue on the bike. Or skip the bike, and just run. Or skip everything and just eat.
My kind of race!
It is the brainchild of D.C. Tri-(er? ist? man?) Tuan Nguyen (aka the "Vertical Swimmer") several time Ironman, who (you might be surprised to learn) is of Vietnamese extraction. He is harder to explain, except to say that he is a mix of juvenile toilet humor (see above) and breathtaking inspiration (see above).
In a word, the perfect man!
Tuan's epic-length weekly email updates about this event are ... well, epic. And hilarious. And really? The main reason I registered, after being absent from triathlon/running/sportsofanykind since oh approximately exactly Jan. 30, 2010 is so I could stay on the mailing list.
So, on a fateful March 8, 2012, apparently while in some sort of fugue state, I hit the register button. For a May 6 triathlon. Which would give me about 8 weeks to go from zero to sprint tri. Continuing to uphold the Notborntorun motto:
Sometime in late March (why rush?) I realized I should probably start training.
My secret plan was to sort of half-assedly train, because I never for one moment thought I might, you know, actually compete.
But a funny thing happened. I found that I had actually missed training. A LOT. I started looking forward to it. I figured out a way to run (ok, run/walk) on the awesome rail-to-trail near my office. And I made it a point to get in the pool at least twice a week.
Oh wait. Isn't there's some third thing in triathlon that I'm forgetting...?? Ah yes. The bike. Yeah, I figured I would just wing the bike. I mean, how hard could it possibly be to ride a bike for 11 miles????!!
Thus began my spring 2012 triathlon training!
My friend and mentor Ironwoman Becky was a constant source of encouragement. And about 2 weeks out, I started toying with the idea of actually showing up for this race, if for no other reason than to make her happy! (I should also add that Becky was volunteer coordinator for this event, which benefited the High Cloud Foundation).
So two weeks out, knowing she probably had nothing better to do, I emailed Becky and we had the following exchange (I am soooo not making this up):
Me: Ok, can you give me a (relatively) SANE swim workout for tonight? Forget about 30' or 60'... time goals just totally freak me out. I think the longest continual swim i've done this spring is 400m (and that includes wall clutching!). i have a total mental block about swimming 700 straight thru. i'm completely convinced i cannot do it!
Becky: You've got a week and a half. How many swims will you do between now and then, honestly? I'll come up with a progression with that in mind.
Me: Four swims, realistically. counting tonight!
Becky: Try this:
1) 4x200 (30").
4) 600(60"), 200.
Me: Is that ALL for one night??
Becky: no, each is a different day's workout.
Becky: 4x200 (30") translation: after your warm up, do 4 sets of 200m swimming. Between each set of 200 rest for 30 seconds.
Me: i thought you were saying to do it IN 30" !!!!
Me: OK, now I like you again.:)
And the next thing I knew, it was May 6, 2012, race day.
To be continued...
(Sorry I know this is lame, but I have so much to share! I promise I won't leave you hanging for long. If it helps, SPOILER ALERT: I FINISHED!)