Monday, August 18, 2014
This is largely for my own benefit. I want to be able to look back at it during the winter, while I'm laying the foundation to move up to an Olympic-distance tri.
One thing the Washington State Patrol Academy drills into cadets' heads is "I will not quit; I will not fail; I will not die." When you're doing a job that sometimes involves hand-to-hand combat with someone who's willing to kill you to avoid going to prison, it's less melodramatic than it sounds. At least one trooper credits that mantra with saving his life when the bad guy was winning the fight. While I was never a trooper, and I face more danger from my questionable diet than members of the general public, I've never forgotten it. There are times during tough workouts - usually lengthy hill climbs - that I find myself saying "I will not quit, I will not fail, I will not die." Of course, I'm usually about three heartbeats per minute below the threshold for a heart attack, so the irony is not lost on me. But it's calming to have a mantra like that - even if it's a little on the melodramatic side.
My inner coach controlled most of the race last Saturday, despite my breakdowns. When I was on the verge of quitting, Coach yelled back: "You want to quit? NO YOU DON'T! You don't really want to quit. You're just scared. You've swum farther than this in a pool. Just get to the first buoy. Get going!"
But I want to cry.......! "No! No no no no! You can't cry now. It's too hard to do everything when you're swimming. You can't cry and swim at the same time. You want to cry? Cry when you get on the bike." (Seriously, I said that to myself!)
I had to fight back tears a few times during the swim. It sucked. Those were the times I stopped to tread water. Other than that, I never stopped. I don't know why it took me that long, but once I got to the first buoy, I developed a rhythm: backstroke backstroke backstroke crawl crawl crawl backstroke backstroke backstroke. I enabled me to sight the second buoy. I had difficulty sighting the exit point on the shore - so much so the squadron of kayaks were yelling to get my attention and then pretty much guided me into the shore.
Between the fighting back tears and my Inner Coach yelling at me, I had a couple of insights. First, my practice open water swims have been too short because I quit. I quit because it sucks. I don't know why I'll push through a sucky pool swim but I give up when I'm in the river. So, once we have a truck, we're buying a canoe. The Hubs will be my lifeguard in the canoe. And he will make me keep swimming. If it's just up to me, I'll give up. But with a little external motivation, maybe I won't.
That insight also pleases me. Prior to my first tri in June, I hoped that I would not quit when it mattered. I didn't. So I'm able to tough it out when I really want to. This means I CAN do the thing that scares me. I quit when it's easy to quit.
Another thing we're going to do, that doesn't require buying a pickup truck: The Hubs is going to join me in the river, with a length of PVC pipe. He will stand upriver of me. I will hang onto the pipe and practice rolling side to side and breathing. I had to do that in the pool when I first started; why would I think I could just jump into a moving body of water without practicing the basics first?
I need to do more swim-to-bike bricks. That's a lot harder to coordinate than a bike-to-run brick. But The Hubs has said he's willing to help me out. We can lock the bike up where we're getting out of the river. He'd have my transition gear in the canoe and hand it off to me as I got out of the river. Clearly, that won't happen this year.
I think I need to start carrying a spare tube, in case I have another flat on the bike course. Slime tubes are too big to fit in my seat bag; I think I will have a tube in my transition gear. I don't use my tri suit's pockets on the bike, so I can put the tube in there. And, as much as I hate to consider it, I need to practice swapping out a tube so I can do it quickly. Ugh.
I don't know why I had so much trouble on the bike. The route gained about 1650', according to my Garmin. It was a rolling course, so every uphill meant a rapid descent. But that one damned hill that I had to walk up TWICE - WTF? I've climbed Weber Canyon (6% grade in spots, goes on for about 6 miles) - how can I not climb this stupid little hill on Whidbey Island? I have a decent interval route near my home. I've only done it as a specific interval workout once. Clearly I need to set up more interval training days before I'm ready to tackle an Olympic-distance tri.
I walked most of the run. I tried to run more, saying that I knew I was wrecking my foot and I had all winter to heal. I just couldn't. Oddly enough, my max heart rate on the bike was still higher than my max heart rate on the run. I think my legs were just plain tired. I could feel the difference after using my homemade energy gel, but I need to be stronger.
I've told people in the past that it isn't enough to know that I can do a 10K. I have to be able to do a 10K when I'm worn out. I think I need to be able to run 15-18 km to adequately prepare myself to run a 10K after doing the swim and bike leg.
One the plus side, I have access to the routes for the Olympic I'm doing next September. (See that - I'm doing this. I didn't quit, despite my mind repeated asking, "Why are you doing this? What is wrong with you? Why don't you just go back to being a cyclist?") And it's here in town, so I can practice on that turf as much as I want.
Now for the not-very-fun part: structured training. I won't start an actual tri training program until my foot is healed. But before the end of September, I'm going to sit down and write out a training schedule. That schedule will go on my desk calendar on my calendar on Outlook.com. I can start doing the core work on an exercise ball now. The swim team takes over the pool again in a couple of weeks, so I'll no longer be able to swim in the evenings. I will have to get creative about getting into the club to swim, other than my short swims at lunch. I also need to schedule strength training - I haven't done that since June, because I wanted to devote more time to the swim.
The days are getting shorter. Soon, riding my bike to the club after work for a strength training workout will mean riding home in the dark. I have sufficient lights to make myself visible. But soon, the evenings will be cool. That means carrying more gear to keep myself warm and visible. We'll see how that goes.
Time to knuckle down on the diet, too. I'm happy with Matt Fitzgerald's "diet quality" regimen, as outlined in Racing Weight. I'm hopeful to reduce my body fat percentage over the winter, just as nature is encouraging me to do just the opposite. While I don't stress too much over my weight, I'd like to get down to 165 pounds by spring - assuming that ten pounds is fat lost. The last time I weight 165 pounds, I looked ah-may-ZING!
I have a big task ahead of me. I'm still a little stung by Saturday, despite everyone I've encountered - both online and in RL - telling me how amazing I am and how much I inspire them. Focusing on a plan makes it sting a little less. Maybe next year I won't an "Orca" - I'll be just another age-grouper.
I will not quit; I will not fail; I will not die.