The Podium Year!

Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Training

I’ve figured out the perfect formula to get onto the podium:

  • Train very little.
  • Eat a lot.
  • Drink alcohol.
  • Race selection.

Okay, the last bullet point trumps the rest of them and it’s why I’ve been on the podium three times in the last three races.  Some obvious questions:  why have I virtually given up on training?  What’s causing the malaise?

There are a lot of factors actually, but they all roll up into life.  My wife and I have a lot of life changes happening in the next bunch of months and as we anticipate them, we are experiencing stresses and anxiety that are different but similar.  For me, you’d think that training would be an ideal antedote and my best friend.  The toxins that are released, and the increased serotonin production would seemingly mitigate some of the effects of this anxiety, but instead I’ve regressed into a kind of off-season mode.  My diet has been bad, and I’ve even been drinking soda in the last week!  I know, it’s THAT bad.

As has been the case with  me many times in my life, I’ll get to a breaking point and say enough is enough.  That will spur a new training discipline and I’ll get deep back into the healthiest of lifestyles.  That day could be as soon as Monday, but who knows.  I just know that I’m not there yet.  Being lazy is a terrible addiction and I’m in the thick of it now.

So how have I been doing so well?  Race Selection!  These three podiums were all in very small races featuring 300 or less participants.  I’m also in a new age group having “aged up” this year into the 45-49 Male category.  As such, I’m the youngest age in that age group and competing against 48 and 49 year olds amongst others.  I would argue that my general youthfulness and ability to recover well from athletic events benefits me well in this group.

In the Central Park Triathlon, I raced a course I know like the back of my hand.  In the Staten Island Triathlon, I had raced the course maybe a couple of times in the past, but it was flat and fast.  In this past weekend’s Pequannock Triathlon (in Pompton Plains, NJ), it was a brand new event for me, but was also flat and fast.  In all three events, I had a decent swim considering virtually giving up on swim training a couple of months ago.  My run performance in each race was horrible; I’ve had to walk for 30 seconds once or twice in each race.  But the bike segments were awesome.  Knowing that I’ve not been swimming or running much or that well made me believe that I should hammer the bike course and see if I can get up front.  It worked great each time.  And, I seem to be getting stronger and stronger on the bike!

This past weekend, I didn’t know the course, I knew no other athletes, and had no idea what to expect.  It was actually quite refreshing to be a newbie and anonymous.  The swim was in a man-made lake and was unfortunately super crowded.  The race director should have spaced out the waves better, but I got through it and once on the bike, I went for it.  I kept a keen eye on the power meter and tried to make sure that I was close to a max effort for as long as I could hold it.  In the end, my average speed was 23.08 mph, just shy of my all-time high of 23.11 mph on a 20 mile course in 2004 (this course was only 11 miles).  As was expected, once on the run, I was terrible.  I remember thinking to myself that I hated how I felt and how I wished that I had trained better to really open up my potential.  Part of the run course was on a trail, and as I looked around, I reveled in the beauty of the nature around me… and looking to my right revealed a beautiful lake with the sun shimmering on the flat water.  In an instant, I smiled and remembered how lucky I was to be able to do this stuff.  I trudged along and got to the finish line convinced that I hadn’t placed.

I gathered my gear, and was about to head to the car when I came across the guy responsible for timing.  I asked if results would be available on a website later to which he responded that the website was updated with each runner who crossed the finish line.  I quickly checked and found that I had actually finished third in my age group.  I didn’t believe it until they eventually called my name and gave me a trophy.  What a thrill… and I can only imagine how much closer to second I could have gotten if…

I’ve signed up for a few more races so that I can make it to 130 on the career by the end of the season.  Two are in Asbury Park, NJ and the third is a 7 stage race that has athletes run-bike-run, then swim, then again run-bike-run.  The bike legs are each 9 miles, so this will be more of a runner’s event.  Guess that I means that I’ll have to really start run training again (event is in early October, so there’s time).  I’ve decided to forgo the NYC Marathon this year and defer to next year (we’ll see).  If the race calendar goes as planned, I will have the following stats:

130 completed triathlons

285 completed endurance events

16 years

These are big numbers and not what I expected when I toed the line at my first triathlon many moons ago.  At the time, the idea was to get in shape.  As time progressed, this took a life of its own.  Can’t believe that the numbers are this big!


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