I remember owning a 10 speed bike when I was in high school. I used it primarily to get from house to house within the neighborhood in the summer. If there was a pickup game of hoops at Doug Waddle’s house, I’d hop on the bike and ride over. A wiffleball game at Matt Christoff’s place? Take the bike. It was a vehicle of convenience. I think I once rode it to the high school about 5 miles away but it felt like I may as well have ridden to California…or Neptune. So, it is a little shocking to now get on a bike and ride it 8-10 miles as part of a nice easy workout. Forget the fact that the bike I now own, a Giant SCR-1, weighs less than my 8 month old daughter. Forget that the gear shifting required me to study a youtube video to learn the basics. Forget that the bike is now equipped with an onboard device that spits out time, distance, mph and about 5 other pieces of data for my riding enjoyment. No, I am just referring to sheer distance and speed. You see, apparently in the triathlon world it is rather important to ride the bike far and fast. Knowing that yesterday after work Zinnia and I headed to the Naval base for a little evening trek. I donned my helmet, my gloves, set my computer, made sure my water bottle was in its proper place, and made sure my biking shorts were providing adequate padding in the proper places (I think you know what I mean)….all this for a bike ride! Are you kidding me! We set out at a solid pace and headed out on a beautiful road that runs right along the water. Soon we were going up steep hills, making sharp turns and heading down long roads. At one point I was going down a steep hill named “Slug Hill” rather quickly (I assume because when you are going up the hill one moves at about the speed of a slug). I was actually afraid to keep pedaling because I knew I was going darn fast. I glanced down at my speedometer and it read 26.9 mph! Holy Crap! Eyes on the road….eyes on the road. 27 mph on a bike that must only weigh about 4 ounces is a bit scary the first time. Now, I know professional riders cruise around at this speed for fun and often hit speeds of 60 mph in the mountains, but for me 27 mph was downright terrifying. I actually started hitting the brakes just to calm myself. I mean a rock on the road here…..a fly hitting me in the face there….and wham!….I become a 27 mph missle heading directly into the bushes. Overall it was a good ride and we ended up doing 9.5 miles in about 38 minutes. At the end, my butt was a little sore, my legs were burning a bit and I had sweat covering my face….so I think it was a good ride. I will need to bump my distance a bit in the future (the triathlon distance for the bike is 12 miles) to get my endurance up.
Tonight after work it was back to the pool. I was able to knock out 40 laps again (1000 meters) in 28 minutes. 1000 meters is now not so difficult. The first 200 really get my heart pumping and I swear I won’t be able to finish, but I seem to then be able to settle into a nice groove. Sort of like running, except you swallow more water and can’t wear an iPod. As I was swimming in my lane I noticed the guy in the lane next to me was just flying. I mean he seemed to be doing 2 laps for every one of mine. I wasn’t trying to race him mind you, but I did feel a little inferior being right next to him in the pool. At one point, about 15 minutes into my workout, the guy was resting on the wall as I approached in my lane. I touched the wall and turned to head back in the other direction for another lap. I caught his eye and he looked at me and gave me a thumbs up as if he knew me. I smiled and kept swimming. The whole lap I was wondering who in the heck this guy was. Did I know him? Why was he giving me the thumbs up? Was he mocking me because I was so slow? At the end of the next lap for me (probably 2 for him) we were at the wall at the same time again. This time I looked at him and realized who it was. It was a colleague of mine from work, a fellow physician who just happens to be an Olympic caliber triathlete. No…I am not kidding. The guy competed for Guam in the triathlon at the Pan-Pacific Games last year. He can just fly in the pool. Anyway, we started talking and he was actually kind enough to give me a few tips. Apparently he was studying my technique as he was whizzing by me lap after lap. It was very nice of him to give me a few pointers. I had told him at work a few weeks ago that I was training for the summer sprints and he was very supportive. That’s one thing I have noticed about the fellow competitiors here. Everybody is so supportive. It is uncanny. Even at the races themselves people are encouraging one another and helping each other. It doesn’t matter if you are an Olympic caliber triathlete or in your first race, everyone roots for everyone else. It makes training and competing so much more enjoyable (at least for this 41 year-old guy who has more of a desire to survive than win). I am not sure if that is just Guam, or if it is the triathlon world in general, but both Zinnia and I love the atmosphere. So, I got my free advice and continued on with the last 400 meters or so, taking his advice to heart and I really did notice a difference.
I’ve been at this for 3 weeks now and I am still enjoying it and I have noticed quite a bit of improvement in all 3 modalities. At this rate I think I can be ready in 4 months. I have tried to give myself 2 days rest a week (took Tuesday off this week and will probably take Sunday off as well). Tomorrow morning is a 3 mile run before work on the treadmill and then some core exercises (push-ups, crunches). Also need to do some focused stretching tomorrow. My flexibility has improved somewhat due to my stretching that I do before workouts, but I need to do it after the workouts as well. I have noticed a little stiffness in the mornings and I think some of that would go away if I just stretched after a worked out and maybe even before I go to bed. I’m not 22 any more and stretching will be one of the keys to keeping my body functional for the next 4 months. That and a chiropractor!