Monday, July 28, 2008

Triathlete in Training...For Real

I have hesitated to write this post for some time fearing that my training regimen would die or that I would simply become disinterested. But after a solid 9 weeks of training, I feel that I have earned the right to legitimately call myself a triathlete in training.

Some of you remember the post I wrote after Leah and I and a few friends signed up for the Nation's Triathlon. As I mentioned in that post from January, my plan was to dedicate a few months to mentally prepare for the race before any real training. Of course, this was simply a veiled way to procrastinate and it worked better than I had expected - almost till the end of May to be exact! But the number of months before race time began to really freak me out, so I started training, albeit begrudgingly.

In the beginning, I figured the best way to get my legs built up was to run. This is what I knew best and what I have done very sporadically over the last 7 or 8 years whenever I reached the point of being grossed out by my own inactivity. For reference sake, I commonly refer to this phenomenon as "peaking". When this happened in the past, I would come up with a very detailed plan to get into top physical shape and make running a habit for a lifetime. However, in reality, I would usually over do it for a week or so, get shin splints and sore legs and quit until the next "peak."

Yet, knowing that training for a triathlon would require more commitment, I resolved to start out slow and steady. Thus, I started running a couple of miles around a dirt track to ease my shins in. I gradually built up to a little over 4 miles per run and did this 3-4 times a week. But the problem was that I just kept waiting for the "addiction" or runner's high" that you hear people talk about, and yet it never came. For me, every morning was a struggle to get out of bed early and hit the pavement. Further, even if I ran 6.1 miles in the morning, that was only one third of the race. Thus, I felt like I was getting nowhere and yet the race was fast approaching.

So a few weeks ago, I made a shift that has changed my perspective. I started cross training by adding in a few swims and a bike ride or two each week and that has made all the difference. I actually enjoy it now and I feel like I am gaining ground on this triathlon. I have been inspired by watching the Tour de France over the last couple of weeks and have gone on a few bikes rides that almost hit the 26-mile mark that I will need to achieve in the race. Also, I have enjoyed swimming. I think it gives the best confidence because you are able to ramp up so quickly. I completed my fourth swim of the training this morning and swam exactly a mile. Further, I did 50 lengths out of the needed 66 without stopping! Lastly, I am still trying to run once or twice a week and so far, I have not lost my distance.

All to say, I feel like I have the Nation's Triathlon in my sights. I am not planning on winning and in fact, I am already preparing myself for the moment Leah passes me during the race, but I now think I will complete it.

The crazy thing is that our recent referral and court date may make all this a moot point. It is a very real possibility that we will be in Ethiopia during the race. Given the reason if we have to miss, I won't be disappointed in the least. Also, I will know in my own head that I really trained for the race instead of just talking about it. Shoot, I may even go and run my own triathlon when we return just to prove that I can do it!

Well...Maybe not, but it certainly sounds like a good now!

*Editor's Note: If you are reading this and still think I am going to die or am woefully unprepared for a Olympic Distance Triathlon, please keep those sentiments to yourself.


Townes said...

Still won't stop you from getting a little Greenville whippin...

Ann Woods said...

Let me just say that if y'all are in Ethiopia the odds of me attempting this triathlon decrease dramatically! Of course, maybe then we'd all have to get together and complete our own triathlon after you got back. Leah could really wow us by completing the race pushing three kids!

Purifoy Family said...

I'm impressed!

L. Watson said...

tom...i completed a triathlon (memphis in may 1997) my senior year of high school....i know that's a little different b/c we were all in shape in high school, but I didn't train for it at all and I finished, and not last! it's not all that bad. good luck to you both if ya'll do end up racing. update...austin and i recently joined the Y. It's been 2 weeks and austin has yet to go and even get his ID card made. you're doing WAY better than him.

Betsy said...

Well said.