After completing an awesome swim, I jogged up the hill to the transition area to prepare for the 14-mile ride. Along the way, I saw my wife and son. She was smiling and said that she could tell that I swam fast. That woman can be a tough supporter who doesn’t hesitate to tell me when I’m not performing as well as I should. I loved seeing their enthusiasm and feeling the support.
Ride Faster Today
I planned to average at least 17 MPH and finish the cycling leg strong. Before the race, I reviewed the course map and thought it showed a 1000+ ft gain in elevation. Since I haven’t trained for hills, that made me a little worried about my legs (self-doubt).
The consequence of having self-doubt at the outset of the cycling leg is hesitation and underperformance during the event. The issue was that I thought there was a significant elevation gain along the course. However, I didn’t take the time to determine where the gain would occur. So, while I was riding fairly hard, I kept holding back because I was thinking the hills would begin at any time. I did just enough pre-work to be overly cautious and under-informed. Appropriately called half-assed preparation.
We made two laps through downtown Kerrville and the elevation changes never materialized. I had simply misread the map. In the end, my average speed was 17.2 MPH, which I felt proud to have achieved. The last time I rode this far, I struggled to maintain 17 MPH and my average was about 15.5 MPH.
I will admit, while riding, I had feelings of jealousy when the racers on triathlon bikes would breeze past me as if they are on a leisurely ride. Watching them pedal with so much power made me realize that I’m not putting in enough bike training time. If I want the performance, I’ll have to put in the requisite time and effort.
As I rolled into the transition area, I was feeling happy with my performance. Then I realized that I’d forgotten Johnny’s primary directive… leave it all on the bike. Instead of holding out for hills, I should have gone harder to push to my limit 🤷🏽♂️.
It’s tough to remember all the pieces all the time.
The struggle to run
For the run, my plan was to maintain a pace of 12-13 minutes per mile and run the entire 5K (no walking). I have practiced a few bike-to-run brick transitions, but not nearly enough of them. Running when I get off of the bike still feels like my legs have been filled with cement. Shit, it’s tough.
Every triathlete tells me to just keep moving my legs and take “baby steps”, the blood will circulate and my legs will come back quickly. Uhhhh…..what’s quickly people ???
Today was very hot so I ran with an electrolyte drink. Without it, I risked depleting my electrolytes from the excessive sweating and then getting pretty bad leg cramps. However, I found that carrying a bottle was more aggravating than helpful. I didn’t even need it becuase there were aid stations with cold water and Gatorade along the route. The liquid in my bottle had gotten warm, and I didn’t want to drink it. As badly as I wanted to throw that damn bottle into the bushes, I had to hold on to it.
I discovered that pouring lots of cold water over my head at each aid station made me feel completely refreshed, which was awesome because the run was very difficult. Drinking plenty of Gatorade for the carbs may have helped too, I’m not sure.
The heat and fatigue were affecting my mind and I didn’t do a good job of keeping a consistent pace. The run was erratic, I would find myself running too fast, then slowing down, then too fast again. I was losing focus… the struggle was real. I tried all kinds of Jedi mind tricks to assuage the urge to walk. I didn’t want to walk!
I walked…counted to 20, then started to run. That cycle occurred twice, which was twice more than I planned. Mind-over-pain is some next level shit. My body will keep going even when I’m tired and it hurts. I just have to learn how to quiet the voice in my head that keeps providing me reasons why it’s ok to stop the pain and give in just short of my goal.
Finding a technique to combat my own mind will literally require a breakthrough…one that, I believe, will be essential to completing next year’s Ironman.
To my surprise, I ran one segment at 9:25/mile and finished with an average pace of 10:58/mile. Pushing through the pain was totally worth it!
I ran my best sprint ever!
- Successfully kept my head during each segment.
- Earned 5th place in the swim for my age group.
- Rode faster than in all previous races (and training sessions).
- Ran faster than in all previous races.
- Didn’t run out of energy, nutrition planning and execution has improved.
- For the first time, I went into the race feeling confident.
Next week will be my first Olympic triathlon. I’m ready for the next level!