Monday, July 27, 2009

Transitioning

Good thing I did a triathlon so I could use 'Transitioning' in my title. :-)

I'm not really an emotional guy (is that an oxymoron?). But, there is one thing I have found myself being emotional about. And, that is, the end of an event that I have been focusing on. Oh, I don't breakdown and cry afterwards. But, I do have a hard time transitioning into the next big thing.

I can be singularly focused on something. Put my heart and soul into it. And, all my emotional energy. Which is what I did for my tri. For the past few months, that's all I cared about. Dreamt about. Lived. Breathed. And, now it's over.

So, I've been having a hard time getting up for the next big thing. And, unfortunately, that's what I need to do to keep my training going. Yes, I know I am not the only one this happens to. I know there is a letdown for most people after their 'big' event. So, I'm not alone in this. But, for me, it usually happens in the fall so it feels kind of weird happening in the middle of summer like this. Especially, since the past few weeks as been all about family which left me little time for any kind of training.

So, yes, I am transitioning right now. Trying to do it as fast as I can like I was taught. Things should get back to normal for me starting next week. And, here's the hard part. I want to continue to do tri training. I really liked it. But, realistically, I won't have the time to enter any events for the rest of the year. Steve and I are still going to do something in the fall but still to be determined. Most likely, not a marathon but probably a half. So, as of today, I plan on doing two halfs in the fall. Not sure when but there you go. And, I'm going to throw in some bike and swimming into the mix. I can feel the emotions starting to bubble up right now...

(Notes: This has been a busy year for me in travelling. This past weekend, I went up to the Bufallo, NY area for a family reunion. (My niece moved up there.) I had a chance to see Niagara Falls which was definitely on my 'bucket list'. Below are some videos I took as we traveled on the 'Maid of the Mist' which brought us under the falls on the American and Canadian sides. Enjoy)

video

(Above: Niagara Falls, USA side)

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(Above: Niagara Falls, Canada side)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lake Lenape Triathlon Race Report ('bout time)

(Myself, Ben, Courtney, Michelle, and Sharon (our coach) after the race)

It was only a coincidence that my summer vacation with my wife and dogs happen to start the day after my triathlon. No, I didn't anticipate of using the whole week to recover. But, with all the training and the focus on the tri I did, it was nice to unwind.

So, how was the tri for me? Well, I always thought it would be a cold day in hell before I ever did a tri. That almost happened. Because, waking up at 4am that Saturday morning, the temps were in the 50s (for July?). And, as we traveled to Lake Lenape, it was getting colder!!!!

I met up with Kelly and Joan at 4:30a to form a convoy on our way to Lake Lenape. Kelly had done the race before so was more familar with the surroundings once we got there. It was 59 degrees (F) when we started out from Chalfont and the temps were getting lower as we headed towards the Jersey shore. I can't say I slept well that night. Mostly cat-napped the whole time. I mean, I'm doing a triathlon!!!!!

We got there with plenty of time to spare. I met up with Mitch, Mike, Sharon, Skip and my classmates. We were nervous but ready to go. It was showtime!!!! I found my spot in the transition area and set myself up. It was a little crowded but managed anyway. Then, I realized I packed the shirt I was going to wear in the other gym bag in my car, which was about a mile away. Errr. Ok, I have time. Plus, it gives me a chance to warm up. Thank goodness I have my bike. Got the shirt and came back to finish my transition setup. OK, I'm ready as I'll ever be.

The air temperature had risen to the mid-60's by the start. The water temperature was in the 70's. It turned into a very comfortable day afterall.

The swim portion started in 7 waves. I was in the last wave, which, in truth, I was glad. No pressure of people behind me in a different wave passing me on the swim. As we were standing around, waiting our turn, Mitch told me that it was traditional for someone to hang back with a newbie and, as the newbie was swimming, have their pants pulled down. We laughed about it but I was closely looking just to make sure he was only kidding.

I was at the far right hand side of my wave. I wasn't taking any chances of getting engulfed with the good swimmers. And, we were off. I ran out into the lake. And, I started swimming. In my first triathlon.

I remembered to start out slow. About 3 minutes into the race, I picked my head up just to see where I was in relation to rest of the field. I wasn't the slowest and just kept chugging along. As a matter of fact, before the turnaround, I caught up with some of the people in the wave ahead of us!!!!

I think someone wrote a comment on my blog about the surreal feeling you get in the swim portion of the race. I have to agree wholeheartedly. You are out there swimming along and not feeling like you are moving at all. Swimming in the pool helped with the endurance but technique was hard to fathom. Kelly was right. I kept on moving the best I could.

I had little confidence in my swimming abilities to start but, I have to say, as I got more comfortable, I did start to pick up the pace a bit. I think it was more of seeing the shore and just wanting to finish this part up. As I reached shore, I thought, 'that wasn't so bad' and headed for the transition area. That's where I almost DNFed.

As I was standing there trying to get my bike off the rack, I almost fainted. I was wobbly. I almost fell to the ground head first. Should I continue? Was this something serious? I sat on the ground to put my shoes on. Luckily, there weren't that many participants left in the transition area so it wasn't that crowded. I took my time getting my bike ready. I was bound and determined to, at the very least, start the bike and see how I feel.

(I felt this way on a number of occasions getting out of a pool after practice. I'm still not sure if it is dehydration, which I don't think it is, or staying at a horizontal position for the swim and then suddenly standing in a vertical position. Similar to the feeling of getting out of a chair really fast and your head spins. Most people think that's what it was.)

As I was off on my bike, I almost immediately was being passed by others. At some point, I have to figure out why this happens, as I seem to be expending as much energy as they are while biking. I still think I may not be going in the right gear to maximize my efforts. Still, I do have a tendency to hold back a bit and 'rest' up for the run. I was feeling much better and cruised along the best I could for the 10+ miles.

I made it back to the transition area and went off for my run. I didn't have my Garmin so I had to rely on how I felt on my run. I shuffled a bit on the first quarter mile but settled in to a nice pace. And, then I began to pass people!!! And, more people!!!

I knew I wasn't setting a blazing pace but still enough to remain competitive with the people still out on the course. I was waiting and waiting for my stomach to get upset. It seemed, everytime I practiced, I would feel slightly ill. But, this time, nothing. I was feeling good. And, continued to pass people along the way.

With about a quarter mile left on the course and one left turn to the finish, I saw Kelly, Joan, Mitch and Mike there to cheer me on. Kelly and Joan began to escort me to the finish line, encouraging me along the way. That meant a lot to me as I grateful for their cheering me on. And, I finished. I finally did it. I achieved my goal. I was a triathlete. At least for one day.

I keep getting asked, 'will I do it again?' The best way to put it is I am in the flirtatious stage with the triathlon. I'm not sure if I will do one again this year. In truth, I have been so focused on this event that I didn't think of any others for the rest of the year. Plus, what I need to figure out is how does this fit into any training I do? But, it is safe to say, that there were things along the way, I want to improve upon. And questions keep going through my head. Can I really swim a 1/2 mile? How do I improve on my biking? And, really, I can run faster than that. There's only one way to find out those answers.


(Lake Lenape, NJ)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Lake Lenape Triathlon Results

Overall my time was 1:25:51
I did the 1/4 swim in 11:51
The 10+ mile bike ride in 40:03
And the 3.2 mile run in 29:15

I placed 236 out of 282 participants

More details to come later.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Day of Reckoning

Since this past March, I have thought about this moment. That was the day I decided to start my training for a triathlon. I struggled so mightily those first few times. I would swim freestyle for four laps then breaststroke for two. And, I only lasted twenty minutes in the pool. I remember getting out of the pool that first day and saying to myself, 'How am I ever going to do this?'

This being the Lake Lenape Triathlon coming up this Saturday, July 11. It is to celebrate my 50th year of existence on this earth. Birthday cake and well wishes would have been nice. No. I have to do it the hard way. I have to get up 4 o'clock in the morning and drive to the Jersey Shore to swim in a cedar lake without a wetsuit, to ride a bike over 10 miles and then run a little over a 5k. All in the name of fun.

I have to say this is the most I have trained for an event. When strictly running, I would run 3 maybe 4 times a week in training. For this event, except for the two weeks I was travelling, I was doing something almost everyday with 1 day of rest a week. Meaning, I was either swimming, biking or doing some running. Even then, I was doing some 'brick' workouts with a run after a bike ride.

I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. And, I think I am most nervous about things that aren't in my control. Yes, I know, there isn't a whole lot I can do about it so I shouldn't sweat it. But....I was reminded of it when we were training last Monday. Skip, one of our coaches at the Y tri class, was going to show us how to change a tire. Somehow, I became an involuntary volunteer, as I had a flat with a 100 yards left in our transition training. It just brought to my attention that something like that could happen in the race. Running, for the most part, you have control over a situation. Biking, well.....

My plan is to have fun and finish. It's the best advice I give to anyone running a marathon/half marathon/10k whatever for the first time and I should live it myself with this race. I have made no committments to any other future triathlons this year or beyond. But, I have enjoyed this training more than I have when I was just running.

I will say that I am in awe of anyone who trains for triathlon. I am doing a sprint tri and I know how hard I've trained for it. I can't imagine the time and effort of a longer triathlon. I can't imagine doing a Half Tri or an Ironman. It's not just their physical skills but their mental skills as well. To have the patience and the will to go on, especially the training, is beyond my comprehension.

Wish me luck on my quest to be a triathlete by Saturday.

(Notes: I ran the Revolutionary 10k Run on Saturday. The weather was absolutely beautiful with low humidity and temps in the 70's (F). I wanted to use this run as a test of my endurance for the tri. I have to say I was disappointed in my time (55:56). Even though I ran 9:00/miles, I thought I could have done better than that, especially with the gorgeous weather. But, for the past month, I have been, and I can't describe it better than this, running with 'dead legs'. My legs are tired almost as soon as I start the race. I guess I was disappointed as I thought the tri training would get my legs stronger. I will need to adjust my training in the future to allow times when I do races.
For the second year in a row, the good people of Falmouth, Massachusetts have decided to not allow my friend, Steve Runner, to partake in their little race in August. I, on the otherhand, have been accepted. My theory is that they have had enough of the media frenzy when Steve Runner comes to town. Falmouth is a small town but too much is too much. I did the race last year without Steve but, most likely, will skip the race this year as a sign of rebellion of not allowing a true New Englander like Steve to participate. Pay no attention to the internet rumors of me lining the city coffers to exclude Steve and to allow me in. All false accusations. I wanted to race Steve this year. Honest, I did. I thought I had a good shot. I just can't imagine what horrible thing Steve must have done to exclude him from the Falmouth Road Race two years in a row.
And, I believe, Steve and I might be rethinking the PEI marathon in October. When Steve told me of the rejection he faced with the Falmouth Road Race, he also mentioned that he was still having problems with his ankle. I think it is time for Steve to rest his troubling ankle though I don't think he will take my advice. He did hint of doing another race so I need to call him up and see what he had in mind. We shall see.