Fear, Part… III

2021 IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA TRAINING

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WEEK 20 – July 18, 2021 

There seems to be a lot of fear in triathlon. I totally get it as I had those fears as well. My fear was really about overcoming my lack of swimming ability, as well as fearing swimming in open water, mainly due to the aforementioned lack of swimming ability.

But there are so many different kinds of fears. Swimming is probably at the top of the list for most. Whether it be the open water thing, or swimming in water in which you can’t see anything, or the fact that there may be fish swimming in the water with you. Listen you fish-fearing swimmers, they don’t want anything to do with you. And my goodness, some can’t stand to touch any sort of weed that may be growing underwater. I may roll my eyes at that stuff, but I really have no inclination to do any triathlon in the ocean. Yeah, there are jellyfish and sharks in the ocean, and I can go about living a life not having swum a triathlon swim in the ocean, thank you very much.

And the bike is not without fear. When I first started riding and bought a road bike right after college, I took a ride down a busy four-lane road in Northbrook, Illinois. It scared the crap out of me and I decided to stick with running from then on. 20+ years later I found myself riding some more, most often riding on local bike trails. But as I got serious about riding, I found that the trails were full of idiots on bikes who don’t give a flying fig about the rules or being courteous to other trail users. So that pushed me onto the road, a place where I figured it was just a matter of time before some car ran me over. Fortunately, the roads by me are fairly rural farm roads with very little traffic and I eventually overcame my fears of being on the roads with cars.

Other bike phobias include being “clipped” into the pedals, which for most beginners and experienced riders alike will likely result in not being able to remember to unclip yourself from the pedal when stopping and falling over. I’ve done it several times, usually when people are around to see it happen. It’s quite embarrassing. Riding in aero on a tri bike is another fear for some. I have two friends (yes, you know who you are!) who recently bought tri bikes and have yet to ride them outside. I think their fear is that it handles a little differently, or maybe the reaction time to move their hands from the aero bars to the brakes might make them nervous. I’m not sure, but I get it. It doesn’t take much to fear something that you aren’t used to, especially something that is going 20 mph two feet from the gravel shoulder of the road.

Other fears can sometimes be silly. Some fear looking stupid in the tri suit. I have to admit that along with swimming, the little tight pants and the tight top that would have made me look really silly kept me out of triathlon for a long, long time. You have to toss modesty out the door if you are going to be a triathlete. And honestly, no one really cares how you look.

There are some that are afraid that they won’t be able to finish. This one keeps many people out of triathlon, especially the long Iron-distance stuff. These are people who haven’t done a lick of training but are convinced that no amount of training would get them there. I was in this camp. I used to watch the yearly Ironman special on television in the ’80s and ’90s and think how impossible that must be. I knew that my lack of swimming would prevent me from even trying. How does anyone swim 2.4 miles?! I thought it was impossible.

Some are afraid of finishing last. That one cracks me up. Do you know what they call the last place finisher in an Ironman? An Ironman. And if you have ever witnessed the closing minutes of an Ironman, those that are finishing last are the most cheered for and celebrated of all who competed that day. Just Google “last Ironman finisher” and you’ll see several examples. Or just watch this:

https://youtu.be/UVxhiZorh-E

For runners, it seems lack of speed or having to walk is a fear. My goodness, walking is done by just about everyone in an Ironman.

There are so many more examples of fear in this sport. But it all seems to boil down to a lack of familiarity or a lack of trying. As I rode more on roads I became much more at ease with it. So much more that I now feel safer on the roads I ride than the trails I use to get to the roads. And my fear of swimming was more of not knowing how to swim than just thinking that I couldn’t do it. Once I took the time to learn, and believe me it was a slow process, I conquered those fears I had about swimming.

So if you are having some fears about triathlon, don’t be afraid to face your fears. Take that new aero bike for a few spins around the block and get comfortable on it, then come out and join the group ride on the fancy new speed mobile. Have a friend take you to a lake and help you get comfortable in open water. Put on that new tri suit and let it make you feel fast. You are only fearing things that you have not yet tried. Give tri a try and get rid of those fears!

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This wraps up Week 20 for me. Ten weeks to go. If you ever want to see your summer evaporate in a blink of an eye, start training for a race. It goes by so quickly. This week was pretty good. I took on an off-road sprint triathlon and did well enough to finish 22nd overall and third in my age group. Lots of great competition and racing off-road was a new challenge for me. I had a lot of fun.

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The Forge Off-road Triathlon Race Report

I’m still dealing with some left foot nerve pain. It’s not as bad as before on the bike because I adjusted my cleat and added some extra cushion to the shoe, but it is now happening with running which was never the case before. It makes me nervous because I have a lot of triathlon and running goals this year. I may have to seek some treatment for it.

I seem to be entering the always hungry stage of training. Well, I am always hungry anyway, but now I’m doing a lot more snacking. It kind of ticks me off that I have to train hard for 20 weeks to lose the 10 pounds that I gained in the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Since I decided to race on Saturday, I pushed the four-hour Saturday ride to Sunday and will more than likely do the two-hour run I missed on Sunday tomorrow. I always opt to do the long bike because I feel it’s the most important aspect in training for an Ironman. But I have some ultra marathon goals this year and I don’t want to miss out on getting that training done.

I saw this cool display on my bike ride and had to stop and take a picture:

So it’s on to the last third of the training plan, the dreaded endurance phase. But I have nothing to fear because I have been down this road four times before. Bring it on, endurance phase!

Swims: 3 – 3587 yards

Rides: 4 – 115 miles

Runs: 4 – 18 miles

Week 10 Wrap Up: Fear… Parts I & II

IRONMAN CHATTANOOGA 2019 TRAINING

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WEEK 10 – Monday 5/6/19 – Sunday 5/12/19

HOORAY!  One-third of my Ironman 30-week training plan is in the books!  It’s nice to hit that benchmark and put the base phase of training behind me.  As I enter the 10-week build phase of the plan it is comforting to know that I did a pretty decent job getting prepared for it.  The only issue that can come back and bite me is the fact that I did no swim training in that first ten weeks!  But even though I stink at swimming, I am not really all that worried.  I learned what I am capable of back in 2017 while training for Ironman Louisville, and I’m sure that the remaining twenty weeks will prepare me adequately.  The weather has been the real issue this spring, being cold and miserable so far, and it has kept me from opening my pool so I can swim.  Next week looks to have a gradual warm-up and I will plan on starting the process of getting the pool ready for summer.  I may not like swimming that much, but I do enjoy a post long run/long bike cannonball to cool off.

 

FEAR:  PART I – Fear… Of Missing Out

Friday I took a day off from work so I could be at home to welcome carpet installers and new carpet throughout our house.  The original appointment was for Friday and Saturday and I wasn’t really sure how long they would be here either day.  So I got up and got dressed and hoped that they would leave me a sliver of the late afternoon so I could squeeze in my planned hour-long run.  It didn’t happen.  As I watched them progress I realized that they were going to shoot to get it all done in one day.  They finished up sometime around 6 pm, and then it was time for dinner and get busy with putting everything back that we had to move.  Fun times (not), but I didn’t get my run in.

So I spent the day worrying about missing my Friday run, an hour long 7-miler that I can do in my sleep.  I spent a lot of time on Facebook while babysitting the carpet guys and saw that several of my local friends and acquaintances were complaining about their local pool being unavailable again.  It seems like the maintenance at the pool has been neglected or poorly maintained, or that some kid left a “Baby Ruth” (Caddyshack reference, in case you didn’t know) at the bottom of it.  Whatever the reason, they are paying for the use of the pool and have not been able to use it.  They have a right to be a little upset about that.  But I also think they are like me and fear that they might get behind on their training.  I totally get that.  A few of these friends are doing their first Ironmans this fall, and I can remember how I felt about missing a week training for my first Ironman in 2013 when I volunteered at my daughter Ashley’s marching band camp.  In the end, though, missing a swim/bike/run workout or two, or in my case, a whole week doesn’t really matter in the massive amount of training that is done in thirty weeks.  No need to fear missing a workout.

The other thing I have been thinking that I fear I have been missing out on is group rides with a local group of riders, riders mostly who are also involved with the local running club.  They post rides all the time but I usually skip them because they don’t fit in with what my plan calls for.  Saturday was such a ride, and judging from the photo posted to Facebook, it was a big group and it looked like they were having fun.  I’m going to have to join them soon.  A group ride might be an asset, as you will see below.

 

FEAR:  PART II – Fear… Of GETTING MURDERED!

I was a little concerned about my Saturday 3-hour training ride.  First off, the weather stunk once again, 48 degrees and a forecast of rain.  After breakfast, I checked the radar and could see that there was a small window of opportunity to get my ride in, and so I layered up and got out there.

 

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“I don’t think the heavy stuff is going to come down for quite a while.”  (Another Caddyshack reference/quote)

 

I had a little trouble with my Fly12 bike flasher/camera again today.  I had trouble with it last week and it didn’t record anything.  I put it on my bike after charging it and it fired right up and started flashing.  After about 20 minutes into the ride, I realized it wasn’t flashing anymore and I was not happy about it.  I tried pushing the on/off button while riding but was having no success with getting it to turn on.  I decided to stop at the next road crossing and fiddle with it.  That’s when things got interesting.

I stopped at Ridgeland Road and took my gloves off and started fiddling with the dumb light.  I got my phone out and opened the app for the device and manually hit record and figured if anything I would get it to video the rest of the ride.  That’s when a guy walks across the street toward me and says “Sure is a nice bike you got there.” It wasn’t really what he said that gave me pause, but more of the way he said it like he was about to add “It’d be a shame if something were to happen to it.”  I replied with “Thank you,” and watched him walk a little past the trail and kneel down and pull out a vape-type device and start puffing away.  He was bearded, unkempt and kind of dirty looking, wearing a soiled Florida Gators sweatshirt, and I automatically started profiling the guy.  That’s what you do when the only jobs you have ever had were in law enforcement and are pretty much skeptical of everyone you meet anyway.  That’s when I silently said to myself “GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE NOW!”  Thankfully my rear camera was working and caught the exchange:

 

Now, I don’t get spooked too easily, but this guy was sending me some big time warning signs.  I put my phone back into my jersey pocket, pushed my bike to the shoulder of the road and started pedaling.  It was at that point I went from riding a 3-hour Zone 2 ride to an immediate Zone 4 time trial.  As I sped up the hill I kept looking over my shoulder to see if he got back into his truck.  I thought that maybe I should have stayed on the bike trail, where he couldn’t have followed me.  I also thought about where I might find some refuge up ahead if he did actually try to follow me.

I had gone to Bass Pro Shop last week to look at boats and found myself looking at handguns too.  I don’t own any firearms (my three jobs in law enforcement have all been non-sworn), but I thought I would take a look at them.  I often find myself thinking about how I would defend myself if I ever encountered a nut job.  I haven’t ever really encountered a nut job, but in all seriousness, I FELT LIKE I HAD JUST ENCOUNTERED ONE.  I was kind of wishing I had a handgun right now.  Matter of fact, I wish I had like ten of the damn things.  Our team name is GUNNERS for goodness sake!  But instead, I would just have to pedal my ass off.

Although I spent the next 30 minutes riding damn hard and constantly looking over my shoulder, I never saw him again.  Two hours into the ride my mind was totally focused on why I continually fail to remember to ride into the wind going out and with it at my back on the way home.  That mistake cost me an extra 8 minutes.  And by the time I got back home I wasn’t thinking about that dude or even thinking about buying a gun anymore.  I’d probably accidentally shoot myself in the butt with it anyway.  Now that would make for an interesting video.

 

Week 10 Training Totals:

Swims: None > Rides: 3 total / 86 miles > Runs: 3 total / 18 miles

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Nothing to fear from here on out.  Happy Mother’s Day!