I've decided to train with my race wheels, forgo the areo helmet for now (unless I can find a good deal on one in the next few weeks), wear the bike shorts (comfort over speed as I'm not exactly racing for a Kona slot in Madison) and keep the hairy legs for now, but this may change as I get closer to the Ironman.
I had some very humbling weekend training experiences that I thought I would pass along to you just for kicks.
On Saturday I was coming home from a pretty long ride (70 miles) when Joanna Zeiger and an Aussie riding friend passed me. Joanna is a Pro (who I happen to know) and she invited me to jump on her rear wheel. When a Olympian invites you to jump on their rear wheel only one answer is possible: "Yes Indeed, I'd like that very much."
So I rode behind her for about 2.3 minutes when I noticed that my heart rate had doubled about 3 times and I was well beyond the red zone and into the purple zone...that would be the color of my face. At four minutes I was ready to puke, and waved a sad but necessary goodbye to Joanna and her Aussie riding buddy. As I gulped for breath, I watched them zip into the sunset and thought to myself, "I wonder how much faster she goes when she is racing?"
I realized what a huge gulf exists between the pro's and the age-group Clydesdale's like myself. It really is humbling and a nice reality check when I start to feel a bit too big for my big butted britches.
On Sunday I was brought down a few more pegs. I was running around the local Reservoir when I passed by professional triathlete Craig Alexander on an easy run with a few Aussie mates. I can tell they were running easy as they only passes me like (insert your own cliche here). I was thinking of "like a steam locomotive" or the old standby "like I was standing still" when the Japaneses women's Olympic marathon team passed me and the Aussie boy's like we were all standing still.
That's how I knew that Craig and the boys were running easy. I would humbly estimate that I was running perhaps 10-minute miles while Craig and his group were loping along at 7-minute miles. The Japanese women were working much harder. I would estimate they were doing a harder speed workout of eleven miles at about the 5- minute mile pace.
I can estimate this fairly certainly as they passed me twice on the same loop which in effect meant they were going twice as fast as me.
Normally this would have been enough to make me jog into the nearest hole with shame. After all I was so far outclassed and out run that my pathetic 11-mile run seemed like a drunken walk in the woods when compared to these folks.
But just to really hammer the message home I was passed yet a third time. It really wasn't so much a pass as fly by passing. This time it was what I suspect are either two Kenyan or Ethiopian Olympians who also train here. They passed me at sub 5-minute mile pace. I know this because they actually looked like they were working hard. And when these boys are working hard, they are indeed flying. You can also tell they are really on a tear as their heals almost slam into their butts on every stride.
I watched them pass and easily make up the distance to the Japanese women's team.
I was not worthy and I knew it.
So I dragged my 10-minute per mile butt back to the car and decided on the spot that Ironman Wisconsin was going to be about comfort and not speed, because I had just witnessed the face of true speed and I can promise you that I don't have it.