Me, not the dogs.
So I started running again (I was a competitive runner in my twenties) so I could get to where I can keep up with Rush. Now I’m running because I enjoy it, because I feel restless if I don’t–and I really enjoy the occasional race, too,. I started swimming again (I swam on my high school team and my college team–I was an “also swam” but I showed up and occasionally came in third (if there were only three swimmers in the event) and sometimes that single point for third meant we won as a team, so not all bad)) to balance out my muscles from running and agility and reduce my likelihood of getting injured. I started biking again (after spending my elementary school Sunday mornings wandering the countryside on my bike while my parents and sister slept in) because I want to bike with Jay and because I wanted to bike the beautiful Oregon Coast and find out about bike touring.
You see where this is going, I hope? I’m running and competing, I’m swimming, I’m biking. Yes, I signed up for a triathlon. Triathlons, it turns out, come in different distances. The Ironman is a sufferfest of a 2.5 mile swim (usually in a lake or ocean), 100 mile bike, full marathon (26.2 miles). I’m not doing that. I’m doing what’s called a “sprint triathlon”. That’s the shortest version–kind of the triathlon version of Couch-to-5K. This one is a 500 yard pool swim (20 lengths, that’s all), 12 mile bike ride, and a finishing 5K run. It’s the first weekend in May. I signed up for it partly because I had that weekend off from agility, so why not do a triathlon?
The only part of this where Rush–my personal trainer–is helping me is the 5K run. Fortunately, I have human friends who are meeting me at the pool and biking with me, and Jay and I are biking too.
I find that many people react to these things by saying, encouragingly, “you can do it!” which always makes me wonder if they secretly think I can’t. I’m pretty sure my friends are not that two-faced, so I think it’s just sincerity speaking. Still, it makes me squirm a bit. I don’t think I’ve ever failed to finish a competitive event I’ve started (well, I’ve walked Rush out of a few agility runs, but I’m not counting that, because that’s about our teamwork, not my fitness), and I don’t really commit to things I’m not prepared to finish. I have scratched out of events before I started–illness or injury–but that’s common sense.
So yes, I can do this.
But when I signed up, I stupidly really didn’t understand about the training involved. The hard part of triathlon, as I’m given to understand it, is the consecutive nature of it. You swim, and then–when you’re done swimming and your legs are tired–you get out of the pool and you go bike. And then–when you’re done swimming and biking and you’re even more tired–you run. So in training, you don’t just go to the pool and swim, you go to the pool, you swim, and then you bike. Or you go for a long bike ride and then you run.
I’m working on this concept, and I’m stunned by how fast my fitness level is improving. I took last Thursday off and “just” walked the dogs (three times, but not long any one time). Friday I ran with Rush, then biked over to the pool, swam, then biked home, including up the hill from hell (Yamhill St. from 78th to 72nd). Saturday I ran a 5K race on Mt. Tabor, despite being tired from the day before, and still finished well under my previous best time for a Mt. Tabor 5K (the courses are all slightly different, but they all involve a long downhill and a long climb). Sunday Jay and I biked from home to Gresham, out the Springwater Trail, twenty-four miles total (and the hill from hell at the end), and then I changed quickly–four minutes total–and ran Rush… and my pace was better than Friday’s. Apparently it does make a different to have thoroughly warm muscles… Who knew?
In other news, I had my body fat level tested last week. I’m composed of far more fat than I’d hoped, so I still have a good bit of weight to lose. At a pound a month… well, this could take a while. That’s okay. At least, today I think that’s okay.