12:12pm Memorial Day
I hand my ticket to the flight agent with a smile and she says, with a grin trying to lighten the mood, “Sorry sir, you missed your plane, we just shut the door.” I can’t accept this, “But the plane is right there, it will only take me a second to be on it.” I plead with her for another few moments not willing to endure the situation without some protest. She does not and will not yield. The plane sits at the gate for another 5 minutes before taxing away. I want to roll on the ground and kick and scream and throw things but instead I just jump up and down. I feel like crying.
I had just lost the chance to fly from Austin to Boise and have dinner with my family that night. That bothered me a lot. So I took it all in and focused on the emotion. Let that process. My grief was eased by the fact that I would just enjoy seeing my family that much more the next day. Now, I had to tackle my ill feeling towards airports because I was on standby for 2 more flights that were already booked full. Tall order for a guy who just lost his iPhone (no distractions), causing him to miss his plane and was still wearing his very awesome and very stinky race suit, while missing his family. I could see this turning into some sort of Homer Odyssey. Luckily, I had two New Yorkers with a lot of long articles to read.
One article I read entitled, “The Walking Alive” Don’t stop moving, by Susan Orlean discussed the research by Dr. James Levine on ‘inactivity studies’. Basically, sitting a lot, even if you are in good shape, is bad. The worst news is that hard exercise for one hour a day may not cancel the damage done by sitting for 6 hours. Check this stat out: Men who sit more than 6 hours a day have an over-all death rate 20% higher than men who sit for 3 hours or less. It is 32% higher for women! I stand up and start pacing up and down the entirety of the Austin airport…no excess sitting for me. Good thing I have a crawling 10 month old and an active 34 month old at home. I can’t sit even if I ‘could’.
I reflected on this article a lot over the last few days. You assume that being a triathlete makes you healthy by default on varying degrees. But are you? How well balanced is your training? Are you so tired after your session(s) that you sit or lie down the whole rest of the day and assume you are recovering? Do you ‘earn your laziness’? I used to do this, but I can’t while being a dad and husband and coach at the Y. I am forced to move all day long. I sure do sleep well.
As a professional triathlete my training has ‘suffered’ from any conventional wisdom’s view. However, at 38 I’m racing better than any of my previous 10 years in triathlon. Finishing 5th at the CapTex Lifetime Series Triathlon is a wonderful result for me. On top of my normal training (swimming, biking, and running) I also commute everywhere (15 months and counting since using my car; it’s for sale by the way; 99 Alero Deluxe with 89 thousand miles with ski, bike and kayak rack), I’m coaching on my feet several times a week, I’m biking and playing while coaching our Youth Tri program, and when I go home, well, I have Guillaume and Lola to interact and grow with. I’m almost in constant motion. I think this is quietly optimizing my health more than I can appreciate.
6:45am Memorial Day
To my surprise a less than 100% effort has me at and near the front of the swim for the first few moments of the race. Just before the first turn buoy I settle in on some fast feet and get a little too comfortable. I keep having to close small gaps and it’s burning up extra energy. Drafting in the swim takes a laser focus in the Olympic distance when the pace is almost always on and several surges intensify the cardiac output. Usually my strength is closing out the swim but today I’m falling off the back of the main group.
I rip T1 trying to make contact with the fast riders just in front of me. Matty Reed and I are about 20 seconds down and he takes the charge in trying to close the gap. We ride the first lap in proximity and lose a touch of time to the leaders. In the second lap I go for broke on one of the short but steep climbs and create a gap that would grow to about a minute by the end of this fun bike course.
I start the run in 5th place seemingly out of reach to Olympian Hunter Kemper and super bikers Ben Collins and Cam Dye and up-and-coming stud Joe Malloy. I know from the out and back sections on the bike that I have at least 30 seconds on the next racer. This gives me just enough of a cushion to start the run at my comfortably fast pace and not a screaming fast sub 5min pace like many of my peers. I respected the humidity as much as possible by drinking water at every aid station and also pouring it on my head.
I run with a smile and enjoy the race situation. There are several Para triathletes racing in their national championship and I get inspired by all of them. For most of the athletes I passed I tried to give out a shout or two of encouragement, “good job / nice work / keep it going / go xnamex go” etc.
With a mile to go I feel great. This is a huge win for me to be not just surviving the Austin humidity but thriving. I’m grateful for my health and move my feet as fast as they will carry me. It feels great to be aware of the body’s effort and I’m grateful for its efficient movement. An unusual race, in that, I spent most of it alone, 75% on the bike and 100% on the run and was able to hold my position. I crossed the finish chute thinking of my loving family back home in Boise, kissing my ring.
Thanks Alisa for hosting with an unexpected 2nd night! Thank you SCOTT, Aqua Sphere, CEP, RestWise, and Asea for keeping me at the top of my form.
1. Hunter Kemper (USA) 1:49:09 – $6,000
2. Joe Maloy (USA) 1:50:06 – $3,750
3. Ben Collins (USA) 1:50:36 – $2,000
4. Cameron Dye (USA) 1:51:32 – $1,125
5. Kevin Everett (USA)1:54:47 – $750
6. Jon Bird (CAN) 1:55:05 – $550
7. Matty Reed (USA) 1:55:57 – $375