Monday, May 19, 2008

Tri Ouch

Well, this is sobering.

They have started posting the results. The overall scores are out, but not the individual events.

Not only did I come in dead-last for my age group (45-49), but the guy who came in second-to-last beat me by over 15 minutes. Ouch. I was also slower than everyone in the 50-54, 55-59, 65-69 and 70-99 age groups.

I did beat the times of two 25-29 year-olds, but their numbers are so far off that I can only assume they had flat tires or some other catastrophe.

So, why do I care? Why did I do this? Obviously not to win. If I met my own goals, should I care that my score looks pathetic, out there for all the world to see? No, I shouldn't care. I didn't think I would care. In theory, I did this for 3 reasons (in no particular order) -- 1. fun way to get myself in overall better health, 2. to knock something off my "bucket list", and 3. to have a fun time with good friends. All of which I accomplished successfully, so why do I care that my score is so "bad"?

I care. It feels humiliating. It feels like it would be better to not race at all than to put up such pathetic numbers. It's not a rational feeling but it is real.

So, how do I react to this?
a. "I guess triathlon is just not right for me. I should find something else to do with my time"
b. "Oooh, now I'm motivated! I'm going to get a swim coach and a better bike and train twice as hard, and I swear next time I will put up respectable numbers"
c. "Hey, I'll just keep doing triathlons and if I keep coming in last, who cares? As long as I'm having fun, my times don't matter!"
d. "I am a sad, pathetic worm, and I will crawl into my room and never show my face outside again"

Wouldn't it be great if I was the kind of guy who could answer (c) and not even struggle with it? Being so much at peace with myself would be a greater triumph than any triathlon win anyhow. But I'm not there; not yet.

Looks like I need more training.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tri Oomph

Well, here I am at the end of a very long and mostly happy weekend.

I was awake this morning at 4:00 a.m. I was loading up bikes before 5. At 6:33, I was wading into 74-degree water in Tempe Town lake with about 50 other 40-somethings in dark blue bathing caps. The race was on!

I expected, correctly, that the swim would be my worst event -- hardest, slowest, and least pleasant. There were 3 buoys out in the lake and we had to swim a triangle around them. Most of the rest of my wave was far ahead of me by the time I was about half way (200M). At that point, the next wave, 30-35-year-olds in red swim caps, were suddenly surrounding me. Soon most of them were past me as well, along with a few from the next wave after them. Still, I'm pretty sure I was not the last blue-cap out of the water. And I never had to stop and grab a rescue buoy.

I made it out of the water and trotted into the transition area. It took me a while to get my jersey and shoes on and get on my bike.

I am becoming famous for having exactly the wrong equipment for the sport I'm trying to accomplish (next up: a tennis racket at a softball game?) In this case, it was my mountain bike (actually my son's mountain bike) amongst a sea of racing bikes. It was two times around a 10K course that somehow seemed to be uphill all the time. But I made it through, didn't crash, didn't stop.

The run would be, relatively speaking, the easy part. I actually passed some people while running, something that never happened once in the swim or bike. With the early start, the temperature had been reasonable through the bike ride, and even the first two miles of the run. By the last mile, though, I could really feel the heat.

Everybody's age was written in marker on their calf. So I knew the age of everyone who passed me. The last person to come flying past me at the end of the race was 67 years old. Humiliating and inspiring all at the same time.

So my goals for this, my first tri, were to finish the race, not stopping during any event and never walking during the run. As a bonus, I would have loved a total time of under 2 hours. I met all my major goals, and I was only a couple of minutes over 2 hours, so I'm very happy about the whole thing.

I don't know if I'll do another one, though. I really don't like the swimming. If I keep doing these, I'll definitely need to get an appropriate bike.

Well, there's one thing to check off my bucket list!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tri-al Run

Nine days until the triathlon.

Yesterday was the first time we did a full practice run-through. There are four or five of us training together (depending on the week), though only three of us will be competing in this upcoming triathlon.

Our normal routine has been to meet together after work on Mondays and Fridays at Reid Park to swim and then run; we had talked about biking together at other times, but logistically we never worked anything out. I managed to do some biking on my own, but really not much, so I was pretty concerned about that aspect.

Yesterday, we all met at Mike's house at 5:30 pm. We were in the water at the community pool a little after 6. I think swimming is my weakest event. Everyone else had finished 400 meters before I got to 350. Since only Mike knew the whole course, we agreed to wait for the slowest (generally me) so no one would get lost.

It probably took 15 minutes after getting out of the pool before we were on our bikes and rolling. The others all have racing bikes; I have a mountain bike that I am borrowing from my son. I've already spent several hundred bucks on this triathlon, and I can't justify buying a whole new bike just for one race. Nonetheless, I did much better at biking than I expected, I was not too far behind the others. At a few points, I was even ahead of Melissa and Joy. This was the first time since training began that I did a full 20K bike ride.

The transition from biking to running was the hardest. This was new for me; we'd always just gone from swimming to running. My thighs were angry with me within a minute of starting the run. But I pushed through it and after a half mile or so my muscles adjusted. I was able to finish the run without having to walk any of it, and Joy and I came in just a couple minutes behind Mike and Melissa. I was amazed to find out that less than two hours had gone by since we got in the pool!

Also, once I caught my breath, I didn't feel at all tired (that would come the next day). I think I finally experienced that "runners high" that they talk about.

We all headed to Texas Roadhouse for a celebration dinner. This week we are taking it easy, and eating lots of carbs, as we get ready for the big race.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Nike on the Other Hand Seems Indifferent

Oh, look, it's May.

The triathlon is in May. May 18, less than three weeks away.

The training has been basically going well, except for the biking. I just haven't found time to get biking in. I've done a few 3 mile rides and a 6 mile ride, but the bike part of the tri will be 12 miles, so I really need to get with it. 12 miles tomorrow, I promise.

The swimming and running has been going fine. I've been training every Monday and Friday with my triathlon buddies.

The very best part of the training is the camaraderie. It's really the main reason I'm doing this at all -- I enjoy the company of my fellow triathletes. Being in good shape is a great fringe benefit.

My friends are all younger, stronger, and faster than I am, which is okay because they seem happy enough to put up with the old slow guy. But they also all appear to be possessed of a competitive spirit that I think I lack. I'm wondering if it's something one is born with or something one develops. If it is the latter, I'm wondering if it's something I ought to be working on.