The months in review

It’s funny how I either seem to have time to exercise, or blog about it… but rarely both… 🙂  It’s been an amazing and wonderful 2-3 months since I last posted.  In that time I crushed my PR for a sprint triathlon, lost another 10 pounds, followed the progress of a dozen friends as they worked diligently through their training plans for IM Canada and IM Boulder, and just generally enjoyed feeling fit and comfortable again.  I have lamented at the fact that clothes that I almost threw away once because they were too tight I am now considering throwing away AGAIN, but this time because they are too loose.  I have put more miles in swimming in one month (June: 14 miles) than I did all of last year.  I am consistently over 21 miles an hour on training rides and under 7:40 on runs.  I eat hills for breakfast.  In short, I’m doing OK.

I wanted to share some of my musings from the last two months as I swam, biked and ran my way across Missouri.  Just a compilation of random thoughts that popped into my head that may interest some.  Here goes…

I don’t like road biking as much as I should

By this point in the game, I should be loving my road bike.  I’m pretty fast, finally have a bike that I can live with and components I trust… and I think I understand the bike leg now better than I ever have.  I have smoothed my technique out so I spin the pedals better and faster than ever.  I have stopped mashing gears.  I know when to go and when to save.  I can hold my own on hills.

Sounds pretty good… right?

But it’s just not my favorite sport.  It’s not even my favorite form of the sport.  Given the option I would rather be on my mountain bike any day of the week.  And I’m not that good at mountain biking.  It’s just more fun.  Long distances on road bikes are monotonous and uncomfortable.  I don’t trust traffic or dogs or kids or half the people I ride with.  I took out a friend when I clipped his wheel as I was pulling out of a (non existent) draft line and sent him to the hospital.  I guess I don’t trust myself either.  Regardless of who was at fault (nobody, really), it didn’t help my mood on cycling.  This all makes for a pretty frustrating time when you realize that in triathlon, you spend most of your time on the bike.

I’m not ready to give up on it yet and I’m hoping after club nationals in Chicago that I can go back to the trails and spend some time playing while maintaining my fitness.  Maybe I just need a break from it…

I need to take swim lessons

I don’t mean the Red Cross type “learn to swim” lessons.  I mean I need a coach.  One on one instruction.  Technique drills. A plan.

See, as I was swimming of my longest sets ever (4000 yards) in mid May, I started thinking about all the things I had heard about swimming.  “It’s all technique” is a big saying I hear a lot.  And I considered that, given I was in the middle of a 4000 yard set… I think I have the “fitness” part down (considering a full Ironman swim is roughly 4300 yards).  I do not fear drowning every time I go in the water as I once did (yes, even in the 3.5 foot deep pool).  I’m stronger than I have ever been.  But my times are not dropping like they should.  I’m pretty sure I know why.  Oh they went down a little.  From about 2:05/100yd to about 1:45/100yd.  But with the weight loss, new dedication and focus on technique… I expected more.  I have plateaued now at about 1:50/100yd and can’t get any faster.  The reason is poor technique.  Most notably, body position.  I still swim with my legs down in the water and I don’t know how to fix it.  I’ve watched HOURS of YouTube videos and tried them all, but still no luck.  So it’s time to get a coach that can look at the little things I don’t even know I’m doing wrong and help me fix them.  The hard part is finding a coach who will stick specifically to distance swimming technique and not try to teach me to flip turn.  Not a whole lot of need for that in a lake swim.  But I’m looking.  I know just changing my head position or pushing my chest down in the water will help… but I can’t see me swimming so I don’t know if I am or not.

I will never be an Ironman

…because I don’t want to.  I have absolutely zero motivation to go the full Iron distance.  And if nothing else, trying to hang with all of my friends who are training for Iron distance races has actually SOLIDIFIED this position.

First, let me say that these guys and gals are my heroes.  The amount of time they put in training…  The amount of effort… and sacrifice… and money… and gear… and everything else that goes into doing it right… is just more than I can afford.  Personally, athletically, mentally or emotionally.

To work out 2-3 times per day for 6 months and put in thousands of miles all to spend $2000+ in gear (assuming you have a bike), perishables, entry fees, reservations and everything else… All so you can destroy yourself in an effort to hear 4 little words.  I just have no desire to do that.  Ever.

Sure there were flashes.  At one point I put in almost as many training miles as they were.  I thought… Maybe I can do this.  Then I found out they were just on a “build” cycle and were actually going to be doing twice as much mileage just 2 short weeks after that.  No way.

I like to run

More than anything.  If given the choice between anything else and my running shoes, I will always grab the shoes.  And yes, perhaps it is because I am having some success with running as of late, but I have always loved running the most.  I know it sounds crazy but I would rather train to run a 100 mile ultramarathon than an Ironman.  Not that I will ever do either, but it’s just how I feel.

I like dirt

In late May I stopped running and riding on the singletrack trails around Columbia so I could focus on triathlons.  Something about spending $300 on a race (Chicago) and then twisting an ankle a couple of weeks later made me question the sanity of trails, but I regret that now.  I really miss the trails.  And while I am sticking to my plan of staying off the trails until after Chicago, that is also one of the things I am looking most forward to.  Getting back on the trails.  I am planning on doing at least one off road event (a 25K) this fall and might push that to a 50K if I can find one late enough in the season to give me time to ramp up for it.  And I may carry that over to next year and look for an Xterra or something else dirty to get into.  Something that is on my radar, although not an “offroad” race, is the Yellowstone Half Marathon.

I am a 3 season athlete

And NO, summer is NOT one of the seasons.  Even though we have been blessed with some great weather this summer, I still wilt in the heat.  I would much rather take the SUMMER off and just train and play.  I am really struggling trying to force myself to do serious training workouts such as bricks when the temperatures rise above 80.  However I have no problem mountain biking when the temperature is below freezing.  Crazy?  Maybe.  But I know if I keep moving I will be fine in cold weather.  It’s the exact opposite if I get too hot.

A lot more to come.  I’m already looking forward to fall!

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