Putting the “Fe” in Fervor (or Feeble-minded)

21 May

“Fe” is the chemical element symbol for iron, for those who haven’t memorized the periodic table.

“Confidence is the feeling you have before you truly understand the situation.” I don’t know who said this quote, but I like it. And it seems like a good place to start in terms of talking about where we are in Ironman training. We are about five weeks out from the Ironman in Coeur d’Alene. And it seems that most things are on track. Ryan and I are doing well with our training – sticking roughly to a plan that makes sense – and feeling pretty good about things. Although, as we know from our Bible readings, a lot can happen within 40 days and 40 nights (i.e. Lent can start, the entire world can flood with the exception of Noah and his ark, Jesus can fast in the desert, Josh Hartnett can be thrown back into obscurity, etc.), but I’m not going to go the religious route here.

This past weekend was the IOS 100 (IOS stands for “Inside Out Sports,” a regional store that specializes and has a monopoly on everything triathlon related in NC) in Washington, NC. The 100 total miles are made up of 2 miles swimming in the Pamlico River, 88 miles of biking on the flattest land in NC and 10 miles of running on the same flat land. It went well for me, and it was intended as a training day (call me Ethan Hawke sans goatee), not a race day. The point was to learn a few lessons that can help us in Idaho. Obviously there were aspects of this that don’t mimic the Ironman, like the distance, the terrain, the number of competitors (this race only had 56 racers vs. CDA’s ~3,000) and the accents of the competitors. One woman passed me on the bike at mile 78 and said, “I reckon my tail bone needs a break. I can’t wait to start the runnin’!” It’s always odd to hear a thick southern accent while people are riding $5,000 bikes with $2,000 wheels. Something about that seems weird. It’s like I assume she’ll have a piece of straw hanging out of her mouth at the very least while she’s talking like that. I learned not to judge a triathlete solely based on their accent. And there were some other lessons learned and here are a few.

Only 140.2 miles left!

Take spray-on sunscreen to use in the transition area: No sense in getting healthy (although, it’s arguable that doing an Ironman is “healthy”), if you’re just going to die of skin cancer from all the burns you endure training and doing races. The spray will certainly add a minute or two to the transition, and has potential to add at least the same amount of time to one’s life. This past weekend I lathered on the SPF 50 at 6am before the swim, but after so much time in the water, it’s not as effective. Although that depends on the water you’re swimming in. If it’s filthy enough, it can create a natural film that will protect you from the sun…but again, that might give you cancer from whatever it is that is protecting you. And having had three, restless nights with burns up and down my back, I’m definitely taking this advice for next time.

Eat like your ancestors: It is thought that our appendix was once used as a second stomach, but over many millennia, we no longer needed an extra storage compartment for our food, and now the appendix is simply a waste of space (which reminds me of a story I once thought of writing involving a rich ultra-athlete who wanted to be as effective as possible, and got many of his non-essential or redundant organs removed in the name of dropping weight, but I digress). But I learned during long endurance events, one should eat when you’re not hungry. Once you’re hungry (or thirsty for that matter), it’s too late. The damage has been done. It’s like the old saying goes: Dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening and eat like you have a Cro-Magnon man’s extra stomach.

Race against yourself: It’s easy to get caught up in all of the excitement and want to push yourself to pass that person just a few paces in front of you. This is especially tempting in the first half of the bike leg when you know you have the juice to easily knock them off (not literally), and/or they are on a bike that costs the same as your 2009 Toyota Matrix. But it’s important to reel it in and channel the tortoise and not the hare. Let them come to you, because over time, they probably will slow down, and if you’ve truly maintained a solid pace, you’ll be fine. The only time it’s acceptable to pass someone in these situations is if they deserve it. Perhaps they littered. Perhaps they have a cliche tattoo somewhere on their body that has convinced them they are awesome and you’re there to prove them wrong. Perhaps they have a funny gait or stride that just makes you sick to think that person could beat you looking like that. Those are all acceptable reasons to pass said person; you do have your principles, after all.

Ok, I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here for today. The race was good. Lessons were learned. Notes were taken. And we all relaxed afterward by the beautiful Pamlico River. According to some dude on DailyMile, there’s only 33 more days until the race. That’s only 792 hours or 47,520 minutes! That’s not much time; I better wrap this up so I can get back to training.

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