It’s all about finding motivation. The ultimate goal of training for a triathlon was to be in better shape for elk season. To be able to go farther and hunt harder. Part way into my training I realized that my diet was becoming more of a hindrance than a help, so I decided to take the ultimate plunge and eliminate ice cream completely…at least until after the triathlons.
Donnie, Dave Perry, and I braved the thunder, lightning, wind, and rain on Thursday night for the Y-Not-Tri Triathlon in downtown Boise. Conditions were completely opposite from last year where we faced 101 degree temps and a 6:30PM start time. This year, the intermediate/advanced group was moved to an 8:00PM start time and the temperature was hovering around 55 degrees. Fortunately the water was much warmer than the air and once we came out of the swim portion we were warmed up enough that the 55 degree air felt somewhat refreshing.
If anyone has an interest in training for a triathlon, this is a perfect event for first-timers. Don’t let anyone tell you anything otherwise…swimming 400 yards is not easy. But it’s better than the 500 meter swims most other sprint triathlons include. The cooler weather did have an effect on the run and my calves cramped up really bad in the first 1/2 mile, something they hadn’t done once all summer while training. I think many runners experienced the same thing during the run. This made our run times a little slower than we had set our goals for and I ended up coming in 1 minute and 13 seconds behind my goal time of 43 minutes.
I’m still trying to decide what it was that was making Donnie smile in every single picture. I can promise you I didn’t have that kind of energy left, nor did I have any reason to smile while I was running!
We made it through Thursday night and immediately began the task of recovering for the Emmett Triathlon on Saturday morning. When I woke up on Friday morning, however, my body was not thinking the same thing as my mind. The intense side ache I had managed to run through on Thursday night was now twice as painful and not showing any signs of diminishing as the day wore on. My legs were pretty tired, but I had hopes of them being ready the next morning.
5:30AM came awfully early on Saturday morning but Donnie was waiting outside, ready for the challenge. My wife, Jennifer, was also doing the triathlon, so I couldn’t back out. Not now. Cameron Hanes said something along the lines of “It’s amazing how the body will respond when it is pushed”, so I decided to put that philosophy, and what strength I had recovered the past 36 hours, to the test.
Warming up in the driving rain 30 minutes before the start of the race I began to realize just how tight and sore my stomach muscles were. It was impossible to open up and run, let alone take a deep breath. I waded into the cool water at 9:29AM, just 1 minute before the start of the race. Once the cannon fired, however, my mind overcame the aches and sore muscles and I just let it lead me around the buoys and towards the first transition area.
When I came out of the water, I didn’t feel anything. It may have been the fact that I was dizzy and having a hard time just walking a straight line to my bike, but the pain in my stomach was out of mind. So was the triathlon from 36 hours before. At least until I came to the first hill on the bike ride. Talk about some legs burning! Once I got some blood flowing into the leg muscles, however, they loosened up and the rest of the bike ride was tolerable. I still wasn’t smiling.
Running is my weakest link in the triathlons, so I wasn’t looking forward to the 5k run. It took about 1/2 mile to get my feet under me and feel like I was actually in control again and running with some semblence of form. After that point it actually didn’t feel too bad. I made sure I kept on a good breathing pattern to keep from getting side aches and I think the mental focus I put into breathing actually made me forget about the burning in my lungs. I kept thinking about chasing down a big bull elk…and a huckleberry milkshake.
When my wife crossed the finish line she was surprised to see me standing there…I think she was expecting me to have continued the run straight down to Arctic Circle for the milkshake. Even for a milkshake I was willing to wait a little while (maybe more out of necessity than a willingness to wait). I managed to beat my goal of 1 hour 15 minutes and placed 22nd out of 118 overall, 5th in my division. Jennifer placed 2nd and was less than 1 minute away from the top spot in her division and placed 9th out of 120 women. Donnie also beat his goal time by over 3 minutes. Most importantly, we proved that the body will respond when it’s pushed, and gave ourselves the confidence to go a little farther this fall.
I also got the biggest huckleberry milkshake Arctic Circle would make.