Two Ironman 70.3’s in a week. Ironman California 70.3 and Ironman Texas 70.3
Movement inspires me. I’ll be challenging my body and mind to move for as long as I breathe; my most basic need for fulfillment lies somewhere in this realm. At the moment I’m fixated on the art of moving my body from point A to B as fast as I can while incorporating 3 of the most basic forms of movement we humans have, swimming, biking, and running. We’ve been swimming and running from the very beginning and biking is man’s greatest invention to date.
There is no better way to get more competent at any skill than by struggling. It’s why we train. There’s a million ways to train, some good, some not so much. There in lies part of the fascinating challenge.
My goal in triathlon is really about optimizing my health and reaching a potential for lifelong activity that spans over a 100 years. To be good at triathlons and do it for a long time one must be extremely healthy in every aspect of their lives.
Doing two 4 hour+ races in a week puts the state of your health under a microscope. It forces one to focus and listen carefully to the bodies needs. Any flaws in the balanced healthy life equation get magnified and no matter what, there are always refinements.
12:20am 30,000 feet over Texas on April 9. My first warning sign happened while engrossed in the Kindle, reading White Russian, and trying to ignore the pilot’s comments, but I couldn’t help but notice how he summed up the weather in Houston, “Muggy”.
My next warning signs came quickly; first the slightly warm night air temperature and then getting on the car rental shuttle and being blasted with air conditioning; it made me put my sweatshirt back on.
Later that same day after a deep slumber I procrastinated assembling my bike and when it came time to give it a go around the neighborhood, I decide against it. The sun’s beaming energy had me contemplating being on Mercury as my energy evaporated just standing there. I head back into the air conditioning and put my feet up.
April 10, 5:14am. Driving to the race I take notice of the early morning conditions and see that the flags look like they are made out of tinfoil. Completely erect from the wind coming in fast off the Gulf. Mental note to self; the day is going to be tough.
One big downer is finding out the rule change for the legal temperature to allow wetsuits is now 76 degrees for the pros in Ironmans. One word; ridiculous. ITU’s cutoff for wetsuit swims is a much more ideal 68 degrees. What should have been a delightful swim turned into an ‘uncomfortably warm’ swim.
I wish I had been smart enough to bring my sleeveless wetsuit, surprised that the 72 degree water was now legal for the pros to wear them, I never suspected. The 50 plus pro men began the race heading towards the sunrise. I did not feel like a spring chicken.
Often in good races time slows down because ones awareness is so alert and in tune that you react faster. At the start of the swim I notice immediately that my senses are not finely sharpened. The dull knife that was to be my weapon for the day made racing agonizing at times. It took encouragement from that inner voice to go faster. My reactions to the ever changing conditions of the race took a second too long. But this was expected after racing my guts out only 8 days earlier. The memories of that race a little too near; the body was not eager to go there again so soon.
Swimming without a sense of urgency after about 15 minutes a gap developed in front of me putting me in the position of leading the chase group. I scolded myself for letting it happen and tried to minimize the damage without red lining. A swimmer on my right was fortunate to have a sleeveless, Chris Lieto. This was not a good sign for me. In the last several races I obtained a good enough lead on Chris to hold off his charge on the bike past the half way point in anything from an Olympic to an Ironman distance. With only a few minutes left in the swim it looked like we’d be starting the bike together.
I came out of the water in 22nd position! Ouch! Jumping on my bike I collide with the athlete in front of me that came to a complete stop when mounting his bike. I assumed he would be doing a more graceful carry your momentum as you jump on the bike kind of mount; no…he stopped. We looked like dumb and dumber but somehow we both stayed off the pavement.
Every athlete started the bike and their first thought gravitated to the wind, the ferocious unrelenting wind. 56 more miles of this!? If you are already biking hard and white knuckling the handle bars the task seems sinister. Five miles in, I’m super thirsty and still have not gotten up the nerve to quickly grab my water bottle and drink. If I do, I’m certain the wind will blow me off the road.
I hang with Lieto (meaning I can still see him up the road) for a few miles before having one of many subtle implosions through out the race. By mile 15 Lieto catches the leaders, shortly after, his menacing pace is too much for them and he’s off to the fastest bike split on the day by a few minutes; a very impressive 2:02 with crosswinds impeding progress for most of the race.
I struggle frequently during the ride and find myself fantasizing about being out of the wind and the heat and back in some comfy air conditioning. I notice several of the pros calling it a day and I empathize with them but continue my struggle.
With 10 miles to go I reach a point of utter exhaustion. I talk myself into at least finishing the bike, thinking the run is going to be way too much for me. Yes, I’m looking for an easy way out because I know the heat is going to bake me on the run, it just seems so impossible.
I come off the bike with Axel Zeebroek and against my better judgment start running. My legs and my energy feel ok but the heat is suffocating. It works as a nice governor to my speed and I focus on nutrition. The run is 4 laps each with 4 aid stations and I hit everyone like I’m on a shopping spree. Give me everything! The ladies handing out ice were my favorite; stopping to grab two full cups and putting it down my suit. I need all of the goodies to get to the line.
Chris Lieto had a stellar race and polished off his day with a strong run to win comfortably. I love seeing a guy at 39 years old getting younger, fitter, and faster!
Thanks to the amazing support of friends, family and sponsors for this character builder of a race, the struggle will make me better and stronger and I’m grateful for your support.
Celebration in Movement
We all have our gifts in movement. Are you cultivating yours?
The human form and its quest in the evolution on movement, scintillating and awe inspiring.
The human form in movement, when highly evolved, is anything in the universe more exceptional?
Fingers furiously dazzling the keys creating sweet harmony.
The marathon hunt plays out over days in a balance for survival.
Diving deep into the blue corralled waters on one large breath with speed and strength.
Strokes of the painters brush whisking colors of inspiration.
Dancers striking sequences of motion that flood the spirit with emotions.
A soldier defending his homeland, sparring with the enemy and landing a fateful blow.
Running vast terrain in such a short time that onlookers swear mysticism.
A swing of the arms using an instrument to hit a ball to its precise location.
Flying through the air, twisting, flipping and turning in beautiful rhythm.
Seizing the wave’s energy and transferring it into graceful, pleasurable momentum.
The fisherman surveying the river and flicking the wrist just so to land the fly over the hole.
Using gravity and slopes to skillfully descend mountains in minutes.
Seeing a newborn take their first frightful leap into a lifetime of movement.