As I said in Saturday’s post, my number one goal for my first race in almost four years was to give a great effort and not hold back for fear I wouldn’t finish or finish well enough. While I didn’t meet my arbitrary time goal from that post, I can say that I am happy with my effort – I finished the day a happy athlete…
One more story deserves special mention: today, John Stawicki, an 81 year-old Triathlon Club of San Diego member and 20-year Navy vet, raced the duathlon. Now, he wasn’t the oldest competitor out there, but his story was somewhat special: he was recently diagnosed with advanced mesothelioma.
This is it!
The day I’ve looked forward to for a long time – the day that I would get back to racing.
I’ve been here before – after a two-plus year layoff also caused by my work. Then, it was just “I hope to finish, and I’d like to do well.” Now, I have some loftier goals for my first race back:
This coming Sunday, I will race my first triathlon in almost four years. I admit, it’s kind of a scary proposition! As I discussed in my post about coming back after long layoffs, I can remember the feeling of being fast. My concern is less about being able to complete a race, but more about being able to compete in a race. Like a lot of athletes, I expect a lot from myself and there’s an element of fear, or maybe doubt, in letting myself down along with some perception of letting others down.
Fear manifests itself in a lot of different ways among athletes. A few that have affected me over the years:
Maybe I’m not as “old” as I think. I mean, after all, I learned today that I can identify with a sophomore in high school.
Barely a teenager, Jack Andraka’s life was touched by pancreatic cancer when a close family friend passed away. Like countless others, including me, Jack was inspired to action. His is remarkable action.
I tweeted the good news on Saturday, but wanted to follow it up in the fashion it deserves: My dad – the Survivor – is home!
The “Brick” workout is a staple of triathletes everywhere. Usually consisting of some effort on the bike followed by a run, though a swim-bike brick is used by many athletes as well, the purpose of the workout is to train your body and your mind to run on fatigued legs. This type of challenge is frequently present for CrossFitters as well, where workouts like Nancy or, one of my favorites, The Newport Beach Crippler (30 Back Squats at body weight/1 mile run) require you to run following some form of squat. (These workouts are great Brick-simulation workouts, particularly in the offseason!) The challenge is as much mental as it is physical.
Why is it that so many athletes, including me at times, ignore their bodies? You can find many articles and blog posts online about the dangers of overtraining and the importance of recovery time. No matter our training protocol of choice – long and slow “chronic cardio” endurance training, Joe Friel “Bible” endurance training, CrossFit, CrossFit Endurance, weight lifting, anything – we are encouraged to recover. Despite this universal agreement, most athletes across sports with an endurance or strength component seem reluctant or downright defiant when it comes to easing or taking time off to recover. I’ve read estimates that at any given starting line of any given triathlon, 90% of the athletes there are overtrained. It’s crazy!
For those of you following along at home, an update on how things are progressing with my Dad:
My dad remains hospitalized dealing with complications from his Whipple-turned-Total-Pancreatectomy. After earlier surgeries involving anesthesia, his digestive system typically takes a little while to “turn back on”. Well, this time is clearly no different – a major surgery actually involving his digestive system – so it stands to reason that it might take a little bit longer to see things moving normally again.
Triathlon got its start as a sport where “Average Joe” raced the same events on the same day as the pros. Unlike cycling and swimming, but similar to running, it was inclusive. Living and racing in San Diego, it’s not uncommon to see some big name triathletes come out and take part in our – ahem – “small”, local races. Michellie Jones, Luke Bell, Luke McKenzie, Chris “Macca” McCormack (read about his book here), among many others, live or lived in the area, or trained here, raced here, and all summarily kicked my butt on at least one occasion (because I’m sure they were out to get me!). If you are a fan of the sport, it’s exciting to get out there among the pros on any given day.
As inclusive as the sport’s roots are, entering your first triathlon can be a harrowing and scary proposition, even for a seasoned endurance athlete. So, what do you really need to be able to participate in your first triathlon?
Before I can go off on long-winded tangents about nutrition and food, I should lay the ground work so readers know who they’re dealing with. Some of my beliefs about food are deep-rooted from early on in my life, others are more recently adopted, in particular the last two years as I’ve taken more interest fine-tuning my diet. I’ll even put asterisks (**) before the fairly new stuff for full disclosure. Without further ado, I present my (ever-changing) beliefs about food (in numerical bullet format for the short-attention spanned among us):