It is usually when the exuberance and adrenaline of the start give way to the realization of just how long and how painful the rest of the race will be.
And let’s face it, in a race speed equals pain. In other words, the faster you go…the more it will hurt!
I think that we all know this fact somewhere in the deepest folds of our brains but we tend to hide it, or ignore it, or conveniently misplace it. I do this because if I didn’t, I would probably never enter another race again. It is only when I’m actually racing that this realizations comes screaming out of its hiding place like a runaway locomotive.
So when this realization inevitably hits the light of day, my brain asks the body, “So how much pain can you tolerate today?” And depending on the amount of training I’ve done, how I feel that day, the amount of mental energy I have to spend, and how badly I want to succeed and/or win, the answer comes back and the rest, as they say, is history.
It has taken me 6-years to get to even get to this point in my triathlon career. The first year of racing I never had the luxury to make this decision as it was already made for me. I started training and racing with little regard or knowledge or the sport. It was just something that I thought would be fun to try.
Besides, I thought to myself, how hard can a sprint triathlon really be? It is only a sprint after all.
I figured out the answer to this question on the bike when my legs turned to watery spaghetti at about mile 10 of the 20-mile bike portion of the race. By the time I got to the run, the only decision to be made was how fast I could walk the 5-miles to save a shred of dignity.
Click HERE to read about my first triathlon.
After the race as I was munching on Pizza and Beer I decided that I really liked the sport and that I knew nothing about how to train of race a triathlon.
The following year I threw myself into training and racing. I signed up for every possible race and made every possible mistake in the book. But as I slowly got better, and my endurance improved, I found that I could survive more of the race.
Instead of exploding on the bike, I could now wait until the run to crack like a walnut. The idea of actually racing never really crossed my mind as I just simple wanted to finish an Olympic triathlon running. In other words, not walking any part of the run and actually feeling good crossing the finishing line.
By the end of my second year I had accomplished this so I felt pretty confident when I entered my first half Iron distance race in the spring of my third year of racing.
“How hard can a half Ironman be,” I thought to myself when I entered the race? The answer became painfully obvious on the bike leg as I started to feel sick and weak. By mile ten on the walk I was completely dehydrated, with tunnel vision from heat stroke. It was the first and so far only race that I failed to complete.
Click HERE to read about this train wreck of a half Iron distance race.
By year three of my racing tri career I had a coach. It was my lovely wife that sorted this out and I’ll forever be grateful to her and my coach at the time Wes Hobson for this obvious necessity.
I had now spent almost three years trying to reinvent the triathlon training wheel. With the help of Wes I learned more about the sport of triathlon in three months than the previous three years. So much so that I was ready to try my first Ironman distance race. I would have preferred to race an Ironman, but I didn’t know that they sell out in about a half an hour.
Click HERE to read about how I just barely finished the race after having six flats on the bike.
Next time: Years 3-6, I finally hear the words that I longed to hear…you are an iron distance man?