Triathlete tales was a segment I started last week and hope to continue to post about as my routine changes on my way to Ironman Chattanooga. Why change? My routine is changing because I wanted to explore the world beyond triathlon. The endurance world has so much to offer and I want to explore these other sports to see which, if any, will allow me to become a better triathlete.
I have discovered that the world of ultra running gives me not only endurance but my core gets stronger as well as developing the mental capacity to push on when I thought I was at the end of my rope. As tough as Ironman racing is it is no comparison to running a 100 mile trail race and knowing how hard I worked to get to that finish line allows me to carry that mental strength over to the training and eventual racing of another Ironman.
As my time away from triathlon training has proven to be beneficial in allowing my love of the sport to be rekindled it has also allowed me to realize that racing in the fall is really the only time I want to race. I want to tackle a long distance trail race (100 or 50 miler) in winter and then take a break then get into a very condensed and difficult long-distance triathlon training program. Time will tell if this works as the results of Ironman Chattanooga will provide me with data.
This triathlon tales goes off the rails in terms of training and working out. About two weeks ago I was nominated to be a participant in the Executive Fit Challenge here in Dallas. This challenge is a combination of three courses that are to test your strength, agility and endurance. Of course, while I am still recovering from Lake Martin 100 I have none of the above but putting my body to the test with other executives in the Dallas area was too much to pass up. Getting out of my comfort zone even for just 1.5 hours will allow me to get out of my comfort zone when during the marathon my mind will tell my body to quit.
Course 1: Inverted Rows, Weighted Step-Ups, Push-Ups, Kettlebell Swings, Sit-Ups, Burpees, Planks
This course was the strength tests. Each of these events had a 2 minute time limit on them and a :30 rest interval before moving onto the next one. The goal was to do 30 inverted rows, 40 step-ups, 40 push-ups, 40 sit-ups, 20 burps and a 2 minute plank. This was not going to be easy. While I have been at the gym 2 days per week doing strength work this was going to be in rapid succession while also trying to complete the sets as quickly as possible.
Right from the start I knew this was going to push my limits. I got to 20 inverted rows rather easily and then the wheels started to come off. Panting and taking a second or two before trying to complete the next one was happening. My judge must have taken pity on me because I do not believe that I did the last 2 properly. Onto the next exercises and while I was not moving at the speed of light I was getting through them. That is until the kettlebell swings when by the end my shoulders were on fire and when I hit 40 I just let the kettlebell drop. Thinking all was good I moved through the sit-ups rather easily and then the burps ate me up and spit me out.
Thrilled to have gotten the 20 done in less than two minutes and move onto the plank where I figured a 2 minute rest would be welcomed. I was dead wrong. When the judge told me I was at :40 I almost passed out. I surely had been there for 30 minutes. The next count down was at 1:10. Are you kidding me? I have only been holding this for 1:10? Everything was beginning to shake and when she finally called out 2:00 I fell to the ground and laid there thanking my lucky stars I had not passed out. It was time for my 10 minute transition.
Course 2: Agility Drills, Sandbag Toss and Shuttle Run, Sandbag Slam and Bear Crawl, Sandbag Pull-Up and Toss, Fireman’s Carry
The 10 minutes seemed to go by in 2:00. I was breathing heavily and my heart rate had climbed to nearly 170 bpm. This was truly out of my comfort zone but surely tossing around a sandbag and doing some agility drills would not be a problem. The hard part was over and I would finish with a 5k run, right? Yeah, not so much.
The agility drill started with 10 over/unders and I could feel my legs weakening and then to run through cones and quick step through a ladder followed by high knees and back. Uh-oh!!!!! This was not going to be easy AT ALL. When I finished I was told I had 1 minute before the next event. As I tossed that sandbag over an A-Frame I started to question my own sanity. This was nuts. So much so that I thought: I would much rather run a 100 miler right now.
The sandbags over the next three events got heavier and heavier. My breathing became work. I was trying to slow it down and let my HR get back down but it only did for the one minute in between exercises. By the time I carried a 50 pound sandbag over the course of about 50 yards I could have sworn I was carrying a 250 pound tree. I switched shoulders at the half-way mark thinking it would be better but all it did was make the other shoulder ask for relief from the pain.
As I crossed the finish line and dropped the weight I could only hope that the people recording the time fell asleep and thus allowed me more than the 10 minutes I had as a transition before the 5k run. Oh, by the way the temperatures were now in the mid-80s. Good times!!
Course 3: 5k
OK boys and girls. My event. Time to shine. As I stood in the tent waiting for the 10 minutes to expire I got antsy and wanted to run to get it over with. I knew that this run was not going to break any sort of PR but I felt I had enough energy to get from the start to the finish. I should have known it was not going to be that easy when Maddie, the young cross-country runner, told me I had to do 6 laps. 6 LAPS? Are you kidding me? Down and back 6 times? In this heat and with 100 miles in my legs along with being out of my comfort zone for the past 40 minutes? Here we go.
I told Maddie let’s get going and I started my run with more than 2 minutes to go on the 10 minute rest. The first loop I felt good and felt as if I were truly running. When the first mile ticked off and my pace was 8:44 I mentally high-fived myself. OK, let’s get the next two loops done and hope to maintain the same pace. Temperatures were climbing and legs were not responding. Bzzzz went the Garmin and the time reflected 8:44. Holy Christmas?
The next lap was damn near impossible but when I knew I only had one more to go I tried to run. My breathing was labored but I could feel my pace pick up. I crossed the finish line in 25 minutes flat. By no means a PR but certainly a great showing considering all that I had been through along with not being fully recovered.
Triathlete Tales: Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone
As I sit here typing this blog post I have come to realize that as sore as my body is today my mind is much stronger for having competed. Knowing that I can step out of my comfort zone and compete against other athletes in events that are as foreign to me as Chinese gives me a lot of confidence that I can compete at Ironman Chattanooga, but not against other athletes, rather against my previous Ironman times.