It’s hard to believe that the training is coming to an end and that my triathlon is this coming Sunday. It seems like just a few weeks ago, we were riding around Farmington, wearing several layers of long-sleeve shirts and wishing we had more. And now, it’s so muggy out, that I feel like I’ve moved to Mississippi.
I had a chance to have an interesting bit of contrast in my training which I will explain.
The last few workouts have been what Janice and Lynne affectionately call “mini-tris”. These early morning miracles have us do a few swim starts, followed by a 7-9 mile bike ride and finished off with a 1.5 mile run.
This practice session was taking place in Windsor on the shores of the Farmington River. The highlights of this location was a quiet neighborhood for the bike and run, ample parking space and what seemed like 82% of the mosquito population in the state of Connecticut. Thankfully, my wetsuit proved to be an excellent bug shield. On the downside, the 113% humidity combined with my wetsuit caused me to quickly shed 3 pounds.
We had a few practice starts, out from the beach, across the river to a landmark on the other side and back. On the way back, I noticed that I wasn’t on course. Was my internal GPS on the fritz once again? I thought I’d figured that one out. Then I noticed that all of us were pretty much off course. Our quiet, lazy river had a little gift for us, a current that was subtly moving us downriver. Relieved that it wasn’t my fault, but geology’s, I re-adjusted my course and made my way back to the shoreline.
After the third swim start, we walked the rocky path back to the transition area to shed our suits and head out on our bike. My ability to shed my wetsuit has improved topped off by the knowledge that I can just leave it in a pile on the ground (take that mom!). I sat down and started to pull on my compression socks.
Have I mentioned the compression socks yet? These seem to be the latest rage in spots attire. Calf-length, super-tight socks that are designed to keep the blood from pooling in your legs, minimize cramping and make you look SUPER dorky. I think I look like an elderly tourist who has somehow misplaced his sandals for sneakers and been shanghaied into a footrace. When dry, these little satchels of constriction are tough to pull on. I had discovered that pulling them on over my wet limbs was comically slow. So, I switched to a set of sleeves, basically socks with no feet, figuring this would be easier to get on during the race.
Sadly, my calculations were just as accurate as my Powerball picks (who knew that 1-2-3-4-5 was a statistical longshot?). My wet feet and calves quickly put the brakes on any quick transition I’d hoped for. The compression sleeves fought me every inch of the way. My heart rate ticked up, I was noticing the people around me, moving past me, getting on their bikes and I was still sitting on the ground. “This is taking too long,” I thought. Frenetic thoughts, urging me to go faster pulsed through my brain, even though I was aware that kind of rushing only would lead to a mistake.
I finally got out on the bike and got my breathing under control. I did the laps with Xi (“she” ) one of the workout leaders and slowly started to dry off. We chatted a bit as I tried not to notice several of the other team members whizzing by me.
I finished the bike ride, as many of the athletes were already out on the run. My second transition was much faster, mostly because i just had to rack my bike, shed my helmet and change my shoes. No socks was good news. Patty, another workout leader, had kindly offered to wait for me as I had mused that the run might be my undoing.
We headed out on the run and settled into an good pace. Well it was a good pace for me, it might have been a pity pace for her. The first part was flat, but as we made our first turn, we saw a long, slow uphill grade. Amazingly, the power of idle banter kept me from focusing on the hill, my tired legs, my wheezy breath, the oppressive humidity and the travel problems facing Edward Snowden. Who knew conversation was so powerful?
We ran the whole way. I had never run the whole way. We crossed the finish line and I was feeling pretty good about my effort that day.
As I was packing up my stuff, a workout leader came by (to protect his identify I’m using a fake name) named George Porter (oh wait, that’s his real name, oh well) and said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’d feel badly if I didn’t tell you that watching you wrestle with those compression sleeves took you WAY too long.”
Now, usually when someone says, “don’t take this the wrong way” I start wondering what the worst way to start a dialogue would be:
1) Don’t take this the wrong way…
2) With all due respect….
3) To be completely honest with you….
4) I’m not going to lie to you…
Luckily for me, George is a gentleman and his advice was spot-on. After talking it through with him, he suggested I put the sleeves on before my wetsuit. So what if they get wet he pointed out, “you put them in the laundry, don’t you?” And, as an added bonus, he guessed that they might even make it easier to get the wetsuit off in transition. So, hats off to George the Yoda-like Workout leader (because of his words and not his looks).
For contrast, 24 hours later, I was in Norwalk, CT with Lynne as she set up her half-iron triathlon. To compare:
Swim: Leland 1/2 Mile Lynne 1.2 miles
Bike: Leland 12 miles Lynne 56 miles (56 hilly miles)
Run: Leland 3 miles Lynne 13.3 miles
We arrived early….very early. Wakeup call was at 4:30am, so I was precariously close to “Night of the Living Dead” territory. It was early for the police as well, as they showed up to their assigned traffic locations 30 minutes late, so the race didn’t start until 7am. Lynne worried that it would be even hotter during the run portion.
As she started the race, I took some notes:
1) Smile. She was smiling as she came out of the swim. That seems like a good way to go.
2) Eat. Lynne ate something around 1,200 calories. It was like a buffet of athletic supplements.
3) Bring a book. My race, lord willing, will take under 2 hours. Lynne’s race took just under 6.5 hours.
It was such an incredible race on some many levels. The length, duration, temperature all emphasized the dedication these athletes have in order to prepare for it. While amazed that Lynne was able to train for all these months and complete the race (almost an hour faster than her prior time), it also solidified my feeling that the distance for my race was just right.
Published July 10, 2013