The Triathlon Chronicles: Update #2- Ups & Downs: making progress and then a “Real Life” beat down

Triathlon Update #2:

This one is really a story of encouraging progress and real life slapping me across the face. Sorry I’m later than I wanted to be with this update, but I was plugging along, following the plan when all of a sudden, Boom- My entire house (outside of me) gets sick. 6 month old, 3-year-old, and my wife all sick. Needless to say, I switched from following the plan to basic survival mode. Taking care of them and making it through the week became the only goal. Once they turned the corner and finally started feeling better, we had one day of (false) hope and Boom again, now it was my turn. I spent the better part of last week sick as a dog with the stomach bug. It just goes to show, no matter how well laid out your plans are; you just never know. This type of thing is bound to happen, especially when you are as organized (obsessive?) as I am with the training plans, setting daily routines months in advance. But what can you do? You adapt and keep on keepin’ on.

But all that being said, there is still a story to be told here, so I may as well get to it. The clock’s still ticking and my first Tri ever getting closer and closer. The Escape The Cape Triathlon Sprint Tri (.4mi swim, 10mi Bike, and 3.1mi run) in Cape May, NJ is only 82 days away.

So here we go, update #2:

Swim: Progress, Baby! It may be baby steps but I’ll take it. What I mean by that is the first few swim workouts I put in, I’d swim one length have to stop and catch my breath, head back and catch my breath again. My most recent swim workout I was able to go out, back and out again before having to stop. While 3 lengths is still a far cry from where I need to be, I’ll take tripling my conditioning any day of the week. It’s still a harsh reminder I’m not even close to where I need to be yet, but just like anything else, if I put the work in it’ll show and I’ll get there. At least to a conditioning level where I can manage the swim back to shore without making an ass of myself & without sapping all my energy so I can still show up and kick ass (comparatively speaking, of course) on the Bike and Run legs of the race.

Brick: I am digging these combo workouts. Again, during the “sick family hiatus” nothing got done, but when I was able to hit it, I hit it hard and got in a solid 8 mile bike and 2.5 mile run. Held it strong and my body held up surprisingly well. The “jell-o leg factor” was a little less this time around, despite my increasing the distances covered. I don’t have a fancy bike and no clipless pedals, so it’s not hard to replicate a more “race day” experience, since I will most likely be pedaling in my running shoes. (Unless I decide to run in the Hokas, those giants won’t have a chance at fitting in the toe cages on the road bike) I’m liking the variety of these and am hoping the positive experiences keep up. Time will tell.

Bike: I have 2, (count em’..two) hand me down bikes in the back of the car right now to be dropped off/ tuned up at the bike shop tonight. I’ll have them back by the end of the week and ready to rock now that the weather seems to be breaking…finally. I am looking forward to training on the road bike as more of a “race simulation” bike, and I was also given a hybrid off-road bike as well, which I intend to use as a way to train/ increase strength/ involve my daughter in my workouts. You read that right. That is also the bike I will be hooking the most recent addition (and top contender for the coolest piece of workout gear I own) to my garage…a Weehoo Bicycle Trailer. This was made to bring kids along for the ride and I can’t wait until it gets warm enough for me and Tessa to head to the lake and go for a ride. So even though I said this before, more to come on this…and hopefully soon.

Run:  I was worried heading into yesterdays long run for 2 main reasons. 1, I was coming off a period of missed runs that involved being sick as a dog for close to a full week. Also, in my last long run before all that mess, I ran a 5 miler on the treadmill due to crap weather and tweaked my knee somehow. It was nothing super serious, but enough to give me pause since it’s no secret that my bum knees are the weak link in my armor, I’m overly sensitive to how they are feeling/ holding up and it’s a constant concern. That being said, I ran out a 10K yesterday on the treadmill (again, due to crap weather) but I ran it strong, everything held up fantastically and I just felt great overall.

On a side note: I don’t know what it is about that 6.2 mile distance, but I just love it. For me, once I could hit that consistently was when I first got comfortable with making the switch to calling myself a “real runner” and not just a fat guy who was losing weight by dieting and running* (see paragraph below). I’m looking forward to ramping up the distances now and getting up to “10 mile fighting shape” for The Broad Street Run 1 month before the Tri.

*Please note…That is NOT a judgment for anyone else out there at all, it’s just the standard/milestone I held myself to. I’m actually a firm believer in the saying “if you run, you’re a runner.” There is another motivational saying that I’ve seen out on the Internet that I share a lot:   “I don’t care if it’s a six-minute mile or a 16 minute mile, a mile is still a mile.”

mile is a mile

While I can’t take credit for coining either one of those phrases, I can recognize the power that they hold. So while you certainly don’t need to be able to rattle off a 6 mile run to be a “real runner”, that’s just a hang up I had in my own experiences, particularly pertaining to the nature of how I came into running in the first place. It was my foot in the door of starting to lead an active lifestyle, and it was more of a tool to burn calories then it was something I did for the sheer enjoyment of it at first. It was something I did that I wasn’t really good at but persisted anyway. In my stubborn mind, I was not able to make the switch in my perception until running allowed me to break through the first REALLY “impossible” goal I had for myself.  The way I really set that goal is that 6 miles is the distance around the lake I used to run at for every workout and looking out at that lake that stretched so far you really can’t see the other end I thought the prospect of running all the way around it was batshit crazy…till I did it. It was once I accomplished that I realized that I was 1) not terrible at this running thing, and 2) how much I really loved doing it. 

10K Done

So that concludes the section of the post that gives the workout updates. As for the random thoughts section of the update, I have a few things that have been playing on my mind about this process/ my experiences so far.

1. This is not really a huge surprise, but I’m looking at the Swim portion of the race as my “get through” leg. I can really see the benefits of swimming as a means to cross train, but I also don’t see myself entering any swimming-only races in the future either. I know it will make me stronger and I definitely will be using it as a tool moving forward. I see myself favoring a good swim in replacement of a “recovery run” to reduce the pounding on my knees. Not to mention the additional all over strength and flexibility that it will give me. So good stuff all around, but I feel like I will have to be better in the other legs to make up for my shortcomings in the swim.

2. Almost all of my training thus far has been indoors because of this completely ridiculous and bullshit winter we’ve been having. While I know I am building up a solid base, there is still some anxiety there.  I’ll be a hell of a lot more comfortable once I can get some miles logged outside to see how everything translates from the stationary bike and treadmill to the pavement.

3. Now that the race is getting closer and things are becoming a lot more real, I am getting psyched about the prospects of completing this triathlon. I am realizing this is a huge deal. (at least to me) it has already turned out to be so much bigger in scope than I had originally anticipated. The addition of the swimming and cycling is very intimidating and gratifying at same time. And let me tell you, I have an entirely new respect for those people out there who have competed in any length triathlon, let alone those who have completed an Ironman. Now that I have an understanding as to what really goes into it all, between the training, the gear, and probably the most difficult of all the pieces, the mental conditioning that is required to complete that race I am completely in awe. If you are ever talking to someone who has completed an Ironman, it’s safe to assume you’re talking to a complete and total badass.

4.Pro Compression Ambassador- I posted about a week ago that I am now a pro compression brand ambassador for 2014. The duties of an ambassador or not really that big of a stretch for me, because frankly it’s stuff I was doing anyway. Rocking their socks at all my races, spreading the word as best I can, and promoting their brand via mentions on my blog and giveaways (one going on right now!). Like I said: quite literally things I was doing already before I was officially associated with them in any capacity. One of the awesome benefits of this however is I get access to some pretty sweet pro compression gear. One of the things I may get access to it is a “Tri Kit”. A Tri top and shorts to match, All decked out top to bottom in the Pro Compression logo and colors of lime green, white, and black. While not essential to complete my triathlon, it will certainly make me look bad ass while doing it. I’m hoping this comes together before race day rolls around. One of those “cool to have” and not “need to have” items, but would certainly be a lot of fun.

  Okay, that’s all I’ve got for today.

As always, thanks so much for reading and I hope that you can gain some sort of insight as to what this experience is really beginning to look like for me.

 I am so happy to be back working out, following the plan, and most importantly not sick as hell anymore.
(It apparently doesn’t take much to make me happy, does it?)

 Anyway, Till next time:

Take it Easy



3 responses to “The Triathlon Chronicles: Update #2- Ups & Downs: making progress and then a “Real Life” beat down

  1. My training is always being sidelined by small sick children, so I feel your pain there. Nothing to do but surrender, though it takes me a while sometimes.

    Agree about the magic of the 6 mile distance – I don’t know what it is but that is my sweet spot too. That’s where I first felt like a serious runner and is my benchmark any time I’ve had to take off b/c of injury.

    Really neat to read about your tri training and the challenge of putting all the pieces together. Sounds like you’re doing a great job in how you’re going about it.

  2. Sorry I am late getting to this. Hope everyone is well now and you are all back on track. You are doing great! Life will get in the way but you will rock this!

  3. Great post. I was sidelined for 3 weeks from being sick and then a death in the family, which really drained my energy. Escape the Cape will also be my first Tri and I nervous and excited at the same time. I finally got back in the pool yesterday and had a great 550 m swim, with the first time doing 2 100m swims, yes I ahd to stop for a second in the middle of the pool for the 2nd of the 100s but I was surprised. You are a great example of keep pushing yourself to accomplish this personal challenge we have all chosen to perform.

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