Monthly Archives: June 2014

Saturday was the Daybreak Triathlon, at which event I completed the Olympic distance.

This is me, swimming in Oquirrh Lake:


That’s a still shot from a video Ethel took. In the video, it looks like I’m swimming strong and smooth. What you DON’T see is the eight or ten breaks that I took during the just-under-a-mile swim – grabbing onto a kayak, pulling over to the side of the lake, and even one place where I saw a rock coming up from the bottom and I precariously perched upon it : )

This was a 1500 meter swim (plus, of course, the additional distance added by my inability to swim straight). The day before, I had gone to the Park City Aquatic Center and jumped into the water, push the button on my watch, and swum an easy and strong 1500 yards in 34 minutes. No problem, no fuss, no heavy breathing.

But when I did my short warmup swim in the lake, I was hyperventilating at the end. And every few hundred meters, I had to stop for a minute or two to catch my breath. Why? I do not know. I really have no idea. I really, really do not know. Is it possible to do that for 1.2 miles in a half IM? I suppose so. Is it possible to do that for 2.4 miles in a full IronMan?

Is it?

At any rate, I finished the swim, along with about five other Olympic distance folks and a bunch of the Sprint people who jumped into the lake halfway. Now, the nice thing about doing the swim this slowly is that the athletes getting out of the water when you do are the slowest, most out-of-shape competitors, so I spent the entire bike and run passing people. One person passed me during the run; the rest of the last two hours of the triathlon was me passing folks. That’s more fun that hanging off the side of a kayak, gasping for air.

Now what? I’m going to Slumber Falls, in Texas, to do a retreat this weekend. Next weekend I have nothing planned; then there are three weeks in Cabo during which no doubt I will train myself into insensibility, rather than “vacation”.

I am supposed to do SpudMan in Burley, Idaho on the 27th (I think) of July.  I’ve signed up for a half IM distance (but not put on by the WTC) in late August in Provo.

Then there’s that business in Tahoe on 21 September.

When I think about Tahoe, it seems impossible. But when I consider the option of doing what I did on Saturday – for 2.5 times the distance – then maybe I’ll still try it.

I’ve really been taking by the little goat who Gives It All He’s Got. I’d like to be that goat. But he’s only Giving It All He’s Got for about a second and a half, and he’s in no danger of drowning. That does change things a bit.

…which, I suspect, is really a shame.

Yesterday, on the flight back from the Bay to SLC, I took this pic of Tahoe from the plane:

TahoeThat’s a big ol’ lake. The second deepest in North America, and cold. And intimidating. The lake is big, and it’s where the Ironman is, and that is big, too. Big, and deep, and cold. And intimidating.

Attempting an IM

(the astute observer will note that I did NOT say “doing an IM”. I just posted to my training group about how, at least once a week, I get a mindset of utter incredulity, or panic, at the notion of actually being able to complete the distance. It’s simply insane. Swim 2.4 miles? Okay, that I did swim approximately that distance, but it was as a single event, and it took me way over two hours of time in the water. Bike 112 miles? That sounds difficult, but doable – but trying it on the Tahoe course just sounds like a fancy way to wind up laying beside the road in paroxyms of cramps. A marathon? Sure, I’ve done three of those, but it’s been over twenty years since I ran a marathon.

Doing them all on the same day? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN SMOKING?)

…means doing something so large that it eats up a lot of time. It’s a big deal precisely because it is a big deal. If it were easy, then why do it? But I don’t think I was aware of how much time it would take – and how, periodically, I would feel drained and gumptionless.

Some of the time I’m okay with this – I mean, the whole idea is that I’m going to be doing something anyway. I might as well be training. To quote (or misquote, depending on my memory) Cool Hand Luke, “Aw, heck – it’s just sumpthin’ to do”. As the oldtimers told Delton when he was upset about having to spend his weekends in jail, “Aw, heck, Delton, everybody’s gotta be somewhere”. Human experience simply is, and it is for twenty-four hours every day. It’s gonna be training, or sitting, or doing something else.

But sometimes, when I’m feeling dragged down, or when I realize how much slower I am running now than a year ago (after doing triathlon training since last October) and when I see that my weight is STUCK because I’m always hungry, I get discouraged. Being discouraged is not a bad thing – the best thing that ever happened to me was when I became discouraged about my ability to control my drinking. Being discouraged makes plenty of sense when courage doesn’t make sense. And courage doesn’t make sense when what one is doing can’t work, or when the cost is too high.

So when I start thinking that it’s simply not possible for me to train up to, and complete, IMLT (that’s “IronMan Lake Tahoe”, for those of you who aren’t down with the acronyms) then I can start feeling the discouragement seeping in. And when I start thinking about the cost, I get discouraged, as well. I mean, this thing takes all day.

It takes all day until I reach a point where I am really tired, and then I can’t do much. And then just recovering takes all of my effort.

So IronMan training becomes the central effort in my life. And that seems wrong somehow. Now, it doesn’t become the most IMPORTANT thing – that, of course, is breathing. But the thing about breathing is that it generally doesn’t take much effort, so one is able to attend to the second or third most important things, all the way down the line.

But when something disrupts that order, then at that point the effort of the something requires it to move up the chain – the cost is higher now. Are you still willing to pay it? Because it will mean giving something else up. That’s the way that priorities get shuffled. I don’t really believe that it’s a conscious process – at least, not in my case.

So right now I’m taking a day off from training. I didn’t intend to do that – it just sort of happened. I have another triathlon this weekend – an Olympic distance (it says it is, although the bike is 4 miles short). My coach buddy told me to do a “mini-taper”. I don’t know how to “taper”. I either train, or I’ve stopped training. I reckon tomorrow morning I’ll do a bit of something or other….just to keep fresh.

Who knows? Maybe my experience this weekend, in what I think of as a “QuarterMan” (over a third of the swim, about a fifth of the bike, and about a fourth of the run) might encourage me, or it might discourage me. Perhaps a reasonable, mature guy would not allow progress (or lack thereof) to dis- or en-courage him; I really don’t know if such an attitude is persistence, or denial.

Suddenly I’m thinking that I should maybe get on the bike for an easy 45 minutes or so this afternoon.

I am at the mercy of whim, mood, fatigue and projection : )


On Saturday morning, I completed the Cottonwood Heights “Tri The Heights’ Sprint Triathlon – 400 meter swim, 10.9 mile bike, and a 5K run.


baldswimmierEthel took this picture as I was making a turn during the serpentine swim. “Serpentine” means that you swim down one lane, and then duck the rope and swim back down the other.

(In this picture, I am smiling because I am swimming in a pool, not in open water ; )

The swim was easy; afterwards came the weirdness. Transitions! In the first transition, I lost a lot of time. And I found out that I don’t know how to use the Auto Multisport mode on my Garmin 910xt, which is sorta like buying a Mercedes and finding out that you don’t know how to drive.  Still need to get that part figured out.

But I got on the bike and immediately felt right at home on my Noble Steed.

“King of the Bike!” …okay, not really (and only “Bones” fans would catch the reference)  but being so far back in the swim meant that the athletes that I was with weren’t able to keep up with me on the bike; one girl passed me, but the rest of the ride was me passing folks, willy-nilly. The bike left Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center and headed up to the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon before coming back down all the way, so it was pretty much a six mile climb and a five mile downhill.

Strangely enough (or not so strangely, come to think of it) my intention had been to not worry one bit about racing or place during this race, but that had little effect once I started passing people. I suppose that I have a bit of a competitive side, although it doesn’t show up much. I’m not even Type A enough to be a Type B – I’m more Type C. But, then, maybe the other folks that far back in the race were Type C, too.

At any rate, I came into the rec center parking lot yelling “King of the Bike!” but Ethel couldn’t hear me, so it was lost on everybody else : )

The second transition was, of course, faster than the first, but I still lost time. I have no idea what I am doing during transitions, and – while it makes sense to learn how to do that faster – my brain keeps telling me that, when I get to Tahoe, I’m not going to WANT to rush the transitions. I’m gonna want to take a nap : )

The run started off very stiff, going straight uphill. (next time, I’m going to sign up for the Cottonwood FLATS Triathlon. The Cottonwood HEIGHTS Triathlon is too dang hilly). And the run was pretty much uphill out and downhill back; it was by far the slowest 5K I’ve ever run.

But I finished it, and I was very happy to have finished a triathlon. Without squealing like a girl during the swim.

After the race, Ethel drove home, and I rode my bike up the hill to Park City, because I’m stupid.

It’s three days later, and I’m really tired. Probably has something to do with riding my bike up the hill to Park City after a triathlon, but I simply had not spent enough time on my Noble Steed.

“King of the Bike!”