Back on the horse and thinking ahead

Went for a frustrating run yesterday morning.  Stepped on a rock and twisted my ankle.  Not bad enough to stop for more than a few cuss words spewed into the darkness.  And it doesn’t even hurt today.  But still…  This needs to stop!

Then yesterday afternoon I got back on my bike again for the first time since my crash on Saturday.  The only lingeringing effect was not being able to rest my arm on my aerobars due to soreness and scabs.  This is not the first time I have crashed on a bicycle and have had to be carted out of a mountain biking trail in an ambulance, so there was no fear or cautiousness on the bike, just frustration and shame.  Although I will admit to not wanting to ride quite so close to the edge of the road as I usually do… :o)  I also managed to cramp up for some odd reason and I’m not sure why.  But at least I was back on the bike.

On a completely unrelated, but related subject… (don’t think about that too much), even though I have not gotten to “experience” club nationals yet, the “experience” that is triathlon has been on my mind a lot.  First and foremost, I love it.  It has been the best choice for fitness I have ever made.  But the questions for me about it are:

  1. Can I afford it?  Triathlon is EXPENSIVE.  Bikes, shoes, wetsuits, ridiculously high entry fees, travel, other gear and swag, gym memberships.  It all adds up if you really commit to it.  Gone are the days of the $20 entry fee for a local 5K (that included a shirt).  Now it’s a $90 entry fee (the shirts are only slightly better), 200 miles of travel, a hotel, food, etc.on average.  Add to that all the gear you need to do triathlon the right way and you can easily spend $15-20K a year.

    My answer is yes… but.  I may be doing triathlons a bit differently than most.  The majority of my effort and focus is going to be the training, NOT the events.  I may only do 4-5 events a season.  With only 2-3 of those being travel events and perhaps 1-2 being “premium” events such as HyVee, Steelhead, Memphis, Club Nationals, etc.  I really want to emphasize the fitness side of triathlon more than the performance side.  For every race I do, I know that the training is what I’m really in it for.

  2. What distance should I do?  This one is easy.  My first year in triathlon I said that I would only do Sprint distances and I have stuck to that.  I am a horrible swimmer and it makes no sense for me to do a longer distance until I get faster in the water.  But moreover, the time commitment in training to longer distances makes them out of reach for me.  I don’t want this to consume me like I have seen it do others.  I have a family and need to spend time at home.  I can’t always be on the road, which the big distances demand.  The reality for me has always been that I will never do another marathon because my body just can’t take the abuse.  So to add on 112 miles on the bike and a 2.4 mile swim is ludicrous (those are Ironman distances).  The only way I would ever even consider something like that would be if I did this long enough to get my weight down to 150lb.  But I can’t see that ever happening.  The fact is you have to be in phenominal shape to even consider an Ironman (I know there are those who would argue, but this is MY opinion). And given my past experience with longer distance events, my physical conditioning, weight, family obligations and most of the planets and stars would all have to align perfectly for me to take on such a huge task.

    So, what distance then?  Obviously, this year is all sprints.  Next year I would like to move up to Olympic distance (1/2 mi swim, 28 mi ride, 10K run).  This is the last of the reasonable distances for training and provides plenty of challenge.  Next year will probably be a mix of the two distances.  I have backed off my thoughts of doing a Half Ironman distance next year.  I’m just really not interested.

  3. What can I do to improve?  In a word, swimming.  I know you don’t win triathlons in the pool, but you can certainly put yourself at a HUGE deficit if you don’t swim well.  It is obvious to me when I am being passed by people doing the breast stroke or doggy paddle that I have a problem.  With the other two sports I know that I will continue to see improvement as my weight comes down and I train.  But swimming will take some work, and most likely a coach or at least lessons.  For this last triathlon I will make the best of what I can do on my own but the off season will be spent at the pool more than anything else.
  4. When will I upgrade my bike?  For the spring season.  I already have a plan and I bike picked out, but am going to wait for the 2010 model years to come out.  I’ve been talking with my wife about giving my old bike to my son (who will be just about as tall as me by next spring!), so that he has something to “train” on for his first triathlon next year (he swears he wants to, even though he doesn’t know how to swim).
  5. What else?  I really want to do an Xterra or offroad triathlon.  I am going to strip my old mountain bike down to the frame (which is still one of the best around) and rebuild it with better brakes and fork, which should be enough to get me through a season or two of offroading.  I just really miss mountain biking and think the addition of a swim and trail run would be cool.  We have plenty of places to train around here and the change of focus would do me good.


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