Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The art of not racing

Last weekend was my local tri, the Runner's Edge TOBAY (Town of Oyster Bay) sprint. I sign up for this race every year but haven't done it for various reasons for a few years. This year the various reason was that I have done close to no training except getting fat. My 17 yo daughter has had good history here. She won the all female relay division with 2 friends 2 years ago along then last year did the whole tri herself and came in 4th AG. She actually trained this year so we were going to the race site, spectating and cheering her on.

The day before the race I had a silly idea. My workout that day was supposed to be a swim. What would happen, I thought, if I swam with my wave and then call it a day? It wasn't technically banditing because I paid the registration fee. My coach thought it a good idea so I packed up my wetsuit and goggles as we left at 5:30AM.

I found it is hard to get into transition the morning of a tri (athletes only) without a bike. I quickly said that I was part of a relay and they let me in. I got my packet and got body marked. I went to where my daughter was setting up her transition and she shooed me away. Her game face was on.

Since I had a number and was body marked, I could go anywhere. I went down to the water and this was the first tri that I ever felt the buoys looked short. I looked out at the bay and realized that I wasn't ready for this swim. I decided then and there to bail.

I helped my daughter get into her wetsuit and walked down to the water with her inside the ropes. The waves were going off and I had a tinge of a second thought but realized only bad things could happen to me. In retrospect, I made the right choice.

My daughter crushed this race. She took time off her swim and bike from last year. Her Garmin said the run was long but even so she took 3rd AG! We had to wait around for hardware. I found that my body markings got me free food from the barbecue and free beer from the beer truck. This is the true art of not racing.

When we got home she was asking about signing up and doing an Oly in a few weeks. She has 2 sprints under her belt so I tried to talk her down from the tri addiction. I was successful with her but then started looking for an end of year sprint, perhaps Cedar Beach, for me to race. It might be a reach as I may not be ready but it is something to keep in mind. She won't be able to race it because XC season invitationals will be that weekend.

Maybe I could transition the art of not racing into the art of racing. Wouldn't that be interesting?

Sunday, August 18, 2013


I was planning on riding the TOBAY Runner's Edge bike course this morning with my daughter as a preview to the race next week (although registered I'm not racing). I got up and when I loaded the bikes on the car to drive to the start I noticed that my daughter's bike (stolen from my wife) had a flat. It had a flat the last time we rode. Since she IS racing next week, I decided to put new rubber on her bike and teach her to change a flat - just in case.

I did the back wheel and she did the front. We started the ride. About a half mile in we heard the sound of one her tires going flat. PSSSSSSSST. We stopped and it was the front  (I had a quick sigh of relief that it wasn't the tire I changed). We changed it again and rode the course.

A big problem for me on today's ride was that my daughter, being 17 years old and starting her XC season next week, is generally in shape. I, in contrast, am not, not even generally. She rode it. I slogged through it walking up one of the hills. It wasn't pretty for me.

But there were a few good signs with my ride amid the mess. One, I am now following the plan of my coach. Looking at TrainingPeaks made me realize that he actually thinks I'm not a mere shell of what my fitness was in the past. He'll learn once he sees the data. The normal of the aches and pains of training, even though it has only been a couple of days, are oddly good. Two, I was in the SF Bay area for the last week or so and didn't gain any significant weight. In past trips that would be good for a 5-10 pound gain. Three, I have a baseline on how far up that damn hill I got so next time there will be a gage to measure improvement.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A noble effort.

This week I was thinking about the upcoming events that I signed up for which I have not trained for and subsequently have no realistic hope of doing well. I have 4 events that fall into this bucket: a local sprint tri near the end of August, a local half marathon near the end of September, IMAZ in November, and the Disney Half Marathon in January 2014. All except IMAZ I could slog through and finish but what would be the point? I've proven multiple times that I can slog through an event without training. It ain't pretty.

But then I thought again, specifically focusing on Disney. My daughter will be racing. Last year she just missed her goal to finish sub 2:00 and this year she wants go well under that time. I will be there no matter what. Last year when we did the same dance I walked the whole thing. I did finish. I wasn't last but was close to it. I wasn't swept. I got the medal. On one hand that can be viewed as a success. On the other hand, a failure. Then the epiphany hit me: what would it take to not consider the 2014 flavor of Disney a failure?

A noble effort.

To me a noble effort doesn't mean a specific finishing time. It doesn't mean a specific finishing place. It does mean trying to do my best given my current fitness and body composition state. It does mean training for the race. It does mean getting the scale heading down and not up or sideways. It does mean prioritizing with everything else going on.

So I called my coach and bounced this Disney idea off him. He hasn't been coaching me for a while since when I realized that I wasn't doing the workouts. He only coaches a limited number of athletes at a time to make sure he can provide the necessary individualized coaching but he said that he would make room for me given our history and prior success. He is crafting a plan that will really be a triathlete centric plan with enough of a running bias to race the half Mary. A problem is that I'm starting at close to zero in fitness.

More of an issue is my weight. This is my biggest limiter and I need to address this not for the half Mary, although losing weight will help tremendously, but for life in general. This morning I joined Weight Watchers. My weight on their scale was the highest I've ever measured. Some of it had to be that I was on vacation last week and didn't limit what I ate in any manner. More of it is that I'm just plain ole fat. Weight Watchers will be tough with my upcoming travel but I'd rather give it a shot and come close as compared to not giving it a shot and continuing on my destructive trajectory. I had a choice to go today or wait a couple of weeks when the workouts begin. I chose today.

I realize that doing this will get me in a better place than not doing this but it requires a noble effort. Talking about this or writing about this or dreaming about this means nothing without actually doing it.

So I'm doing something. Let's see how long I can keep doing it. Wish me well.