Wednesday, June 16, 2010

It's Ridiculous Is What It Is..

Today's Jen's World column....

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Last year, I did my first triathlon. I spent the entire summer getting ready for the big event. I swam between the buoys at Foster Arends. I biked up and down the Douglas Trail. I ran loops around my neighborhood until I was practically dizzy. I went so far as to drive out to Waseca the week before the race to try the course. And when the starting gun went off that fine August morning of the race, I might not’ve been the fastest athlete out there—but dang it, I was ready.

This year, I’m doing the Rochesterfest Triathlon. It’s being held in four days. I can’t help writing that last line without breaking out laughing. It’s ridiculous is what it is.

I haven’t been anywhere near as dutiful in my training this time around and I’m trying to figure out why. Am I not scared enough? Am I in denial? Has my mind been preoccupied with other matters? (School + Work + Family + Volunteer + Facebook does make for a full schedule.)

Until a few weeks ago, I thought I was doing okay. I’d even been doing the “interval” course on the stationary bike for up to 10 miles—which is how far the bike portion of this tri is.

But then, last week, I did my first training ride on the actual Rochesterfest course on 18th Avenue. I’ll tell you what: I could’ve stepped off my bike, laid down on the shoulder of the road, tucked in my arms, and rolled up that hill faster than I was biking it. Holy hills.

I huffed and puffed up 18th, making contorted expressions with my face and desperately trying to come up with an excuse to get out of this triathlon. (Quick? Do I know anyone with strep?) But by the time I rolled back into my driveway an hour or so later, I thought, “Well, I guess it wasn’t all that bad.” (Kind of like childbirth, now that I think of it.)

And besides, I convinced myself, I already signed up for the fool thing and paid my money. So I’m doing it even if I come in crawling. Which is a very real possibility.
The swimming portion feels tougher this year, too. When I train in the pool, I rotate between multiple strokes—usually the breaststroke, followed by the side stroke (so I can see what’s going on), and then the backstroke (to rest up). You may’ve noticed that I didn’t mention the freestyle (“the front crawl”). Apparently it’s the fastest stroke, which is why everyone does it. But it kicks my butt, and my goal isn’t speed, anyway. It’s completion. I’ll doggie paddle if I have to.

I bought a wetsuit this year. Not because I’m freaked out by the weeds or anything (actually, I kind of am)—but because a wetsuit adds some buoyancy. I’ll take any help I can get. Come to think of it, I haven’t even tried it on yet. I should probably get on that.

The last event of a triathlon is running. And, oddly enough, I’m not too worried about that. I figure the worst thing that could happen is that I’m so exhausted by that point that I end up walking those last three miles. Worse things have happened. As long as I make it to the run, I’m optimistic that I’ll finish, even if I do straggle in last.

I’d really prefer if that weren’t the case, however. I still have a few days left to build my endurance. And you can bet I’ll be using these days to their fullest. Watch for me: I’ll be the one biking up and down 18th Avenue in running shoes and a wetsuit.

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