We’re training for a triathlon!
Two triathlons, to be exact. One of which is approaching way too quickly for my comfort.
We’re starting with a sprint triathlon in April, which is a 500-yard swim, 12-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run.
Then we’ll have the big kahuna this summer: a Half Ironman. That’s a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run. Yikes, indeed.
So, what kind of experience do we have with these sports? Swimming: Eric did some swimming for exercise for a few months when we lived in Kentucky (at least 2.5 years ago). I had a swimming pool growing up, and I would happily float in it all summer long. Cycling: Eric rides a commuter bike to work every day. I used to ride my bike around the neighborhood in 5th grade. Running: I’ve run 3 marathons. Eric has run 2 half-marathons.
So, you can see that we are ideal candidates for triathloning, yes?
We started training to prepare ourselves to start the training plan (yes, we needed to train to train) back in the fall, eventually upping our workouts to 6 days a week. In my marathon training days, I was running 5 days a week, so I didn’t think adding an extra day of intense exercise would really feel that much different. Boy, was I wrong. For the first few weeks, we were both just exhausted. And so hungry. And sore. Having never used my arms for anything other than cardigan wearing, swimming was rocking my body pretty hard.
Let’s talk about swimming for a second. I grew up with a swimming pool, so obviously I knew how to swim. And by “knew how to swim,” I mean I could stay afloat in waters of various depths, as well as swim underwater like a boss. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying much attention during my swim class at age 3, so I had no idea how to SWIM swim. You know, propel your body down a lap lane, turning your head to the side to breathe, while showing some sort of body control swimming: Michael Phelps-style. I’m sure my first few rounds of swimming in the pool at our gym gave everyone a good laugh. Luckily, Eric was a very good and patient teacher (who happened to watch a lot of YouTube videos on swimming technique), so I can at least hold my own in the pool these days. And by that, I mean I bought a swimsuit that fits, a swim cap that I can now put on without ripping out any of my hair, and goggles that leave me looking like I’m dying of some mysterious illness after every swim. And I can swim 1.5 miles on the regular.
Then there’s cycling. Like I said, I used to ride my bike pretty hard around the ol’ hood (read: I grew up in suburban Kentucky). And then I rented a bike for a semester in college, which I rode to my classes that happened to be as far away from everything else on campus as possible (the downside of taking classes in both the College of Agriculture and the College of Art at UK). Eric also rode a bike during college, and then continued to bike his way to grad school when we moved to Oregon. So he is pretty comfortable on a bike, whereas I feel like a woman on a wild stallion every time I hop on the bike. How do I lasso this thing?
We started taking our bikes out to the Banks-Vernonia Trail when we moved to Portland, where we could ride on a mostly uncrowded path for a few hours on the weekends. If you are a cycling beginner, I’d totally recommend that path to get you started. It’s so nice not to have to worry about traffic and crowds when you are trying to master gear shifting and sitting on a really uncomfortable bike seat. In more recent months, we’ve been using the river path in Portland, which is essentially torture for a cyclist on a nice day, since it is crazy crowded with bikes, runners, strollers, dogs, walkers, and everything else under the sun. But we can use that path to connect to the Southeast Neighborhoods Bike Route, which is a pretty nice, quiet, low-traffic ride through some really beautiful areas.
Luckily, I’ve only had one really terrible cycling experience, which involved making a sharp turn on a road scattered with gravel and surrounded by cars. I completely wiped out in the middle of the road and ended up with my bike on top of me, a nice gash on my left elbow, and a bruise the size of my hand on my left leg. Since then, I’ve avoided any chance of injury by slowing to a crawl when it comes to turning or riding downhill, and just getting off my bike altogether when we encounter large patches of gravel. (The picture below was taken just an hour before I crashed. Look how happy I was.)
When it comes to running, that’s my jam. I’m not a super fast runner, but I can keep going for long distances (or, at least I could before we threw swimming and cycling into the mix). I love training days that involve just running, but those are few and far between at this point.
With the training plan we are using, we generally have 9 workouts per week, spread out over 6 days. So that means we usually have 3 days with 2 different sports, and 3 days that focus on just one of the skills. I’ve learned that it is pretty tricky to get your legs to run after riding a bike for a few hours, but it can be done. And I’ve learned that doing a long swim immediately after a long run will leave you quitting your swim early for fear of not being able to hold your body up in the pool (and this is why the swim is the first task in the triathlon, rather than the last).
We’ve also learned that with great training comes great hunger. I thought I knew a lot about exercise-induced hunger from marathon training, but this is a whole new level. I do know from marathon training that just because you are getting a lot of exercise, that doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want. So I’ve tried to have lots of healthy snacks ready for us at all times (my cashew cookie bars and honey nut granola bars have proven to be good pre-workout snacks for us), as well as the occasional heartier meal so that we aren’t just wishing for donuts all the time. Well, obviously we’re still wishing for donuts all the time (Portland Donut Crawl, anyone?), but we’ve generally shown pretty good self-control during this training time (Eric’s birthday weekend excluded).
Anywho, all of this training leaves us doing a lot of couch sitting in our free time, and a lot of Lost watching, as of late (I know, we are always 10 years late to the TV party). There’s also a lot of muscle rolling, yoga mat stretching, and early to bed sleeping. And triathlon training whining. I am the absolute worst about this, although Eric is quick to point out that it was my idea to do this in the first place. It’s just that waking up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning to ensure we get a lane at the pool is kind of the worst. And going on a 2-hour bike ride in the rain on a Sunday morning when we could be brunching our little hearts out makes me kind of sad. But hopefully it will all be worth it in a few weeks when we complete triathlon #1 and cross an old item off our bucket list! And a few months from now, we’ll be enjoying a delightful Canadian vacation with some of our favorite friends as a reward for knocking out a Half Ironman. As long as our legs continue to function after 70.3 miles.
*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. By using them, you help this support this little blog.