Monday, May 9, 2011

Living the Cliche'

What Man Can Conceive and Believe, He Can Achieve.
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.
You Never Fail Until You Stop Trying.

Let's start here... at some point in our lives, if we are truly fortunate, we will find a mentor. A person who believes in our potential when others only see our failures. A person who takes the time to show us our own greatness when all we see is a wall before us. If we have any brains at all, we take the lessons our mentors taught us and apply them to all aspects of our lives. This will make us better citizens, better family members, better spouses,  better friends, better us.

My mentor was my high school band director. Yeah, I know - shades of Mr. Holland's Opus and all that - how cliche'. Still, his skills at motivating a couple hundred kids to play for a President, march in the Orange Bowl parade, and win a national marching band championship were NOTHING in comparison to how he motivated the community of those kids. My Dad was wearing his band jacket on the golf courses of the Chicago suburbs long after I had finished my time at the Berklee College of Music and people would still ask him about he was involved with the band.

Kids get their parents going, parents get the community involved and all of a sudden, you've sold enough grapefruits, pizzas, and concert tickets to keep on keeping on with new uniforms, new instruments and a new equipment truck. It's the reason I support local farms, local businesses and local sports teams today - it creates a synergy wherein they can help locals in need.

Yeah, my band director taught me that. This guy was so good that he actually left teaching for a time to take gigs as a motivational speaker.

So suffice it to say that I have heard most every motivational quip and quote over the past 35 years and I also know how much work you have to put into anything in order to succeed in life.

I also know that none of what I just said applied whatsoever to my participation in Sunday's triathlon in Sudbury.

What Man Can Conceive and Believe....

I realized Saturday night that I could well be facing my very first DFL (that's Dead _ Last, to those who've never heard it and just fill in the blank.) Oddly, I so convinced myself that this would be the ultimate result that any ideas I had about having a respectable swim and successful bike segment simply disappeared. I decided instead that a more practical goal would be to just the finish the thing.

Let's pick this apart:

Failing to Plan is....

Rule #1: Don't change anything on Race Day.
Reality Check: I have yet to find an electrolytic/calorie replenishment system that works for me. I concluded that I didn't need any gels for a 90-minute race and just went with a single bag of GU Chomps I had just purchased for the first time. Unfortunately, I started eating them 3 hours before the race and really don't know how effective they are when used as directed.
Result: I have yet to find an electrolytic/calorie replenishment system that works for me.

The Swim:
Rule #2: You don't improve by practicing what you know. You improve by identifying and correcting your weaknesses. You can see this in proprioceptive training - you get better at cycling by cycling. You don't get better at swimming by cycling.

Reality Check: I have been in the pool maybe 5 times this year. When I registered, I put in a very slow finish time, figuring I'd submit a more accurate time when I got to a lap pool as I usually practice in a kidney-shaped pool. I never got into that lap pool and hadn't been in a lap pool in over 20 years. Out of approximately 500 entrants, my estimated finish time put my start at number 472. The only friend I would have is my push-off from the walls. I had no clue if I could even swim in a straight line any more.
Goal: To finish the swim in one piece.
Result: Success! Well, sort of. With a finish time of over 15 minutes, I actually did DFL on the swim and since my swim coach estimated my finish at about 10 minutes only two years ago, it just goes to show that you get out of it what you put into it. Evidently, I was lucky to get out of the water at all.

The Bike:
Reality Check: I suddenly realized Saturday night that I have never used my triathlon shoes on my new bike. While I did check the float on the pedals to make sure I could clip in and out without issues, there was a concern that something could go wrong.
Goal: Try not to embarrass myself on the bike.
Result: Success!

The Run:
You Never Fail Until....

Reality Check: I don't run and I don't like to run. I used to sprint but I have never had any distance endurance.

Except for one recent outing that involved loose dogs and improvised hill sprints to get away from said big dogs, what I do these days doesn't actually qualify as running either. It's more of a Middle-Aged Broad shuffle-jog/walk.

Chugga, chugga, chugga - walk. Repeat.

Books, online articles, offline articles, downloaded programs, B.A.A. marathoners coaching me, interval training, base training, and even participating in a Chi Running clinic have helped me reach a point where I can sometimes hit a blistering (just say "yes" to sarcasm) 11-minute mile on a good day but that's it. Ben from Becoming Timberman - you could kick my butt up and down a 5K course. Rule #2 applies here as well and since I loathe running, I don't practice it like I should and I never improve anymore. Somehow, I'm okay with that at the moment. It's also why I figured to take the DFL.

Goal: Finish the shuffle-jog/walk to finish the race, run (metaphor) home, shower, change and head off to my mother-in-law's house for Mother's Day.

Result: Success! I tore up the run course with about a 17-minute average mile (Not kidding). In comparison, it took me more time to run 2.3 miles than it did to ride my bike 7 miles. I also made it to my mother-in-law's for Mother's Day.

Amazingly enough, I didn't take the overall DFL. It was my bike riding that kept that from happening. Now, back to bike training with some swim cross-training thrown in there for a tri I've got scheduled in September.

No rest for the wicked.
Then, as I opened my email client today, my calendar reminded me that I've got 2 cycling races in the Rhode Island Ocean Tides Senior Games next weekend.

Oh, boy.


  1. Edie,

    It sounds like you had good results for a low base of training. I did a 15 minute swim at Hopkinton and I trained all winter for it. I did 8 minute 1/4 miles in the pool and for some reason (partially the cold water) I just didn't have it to go fast in the water. So, that 15 minute swim isn't anything to sneer at.

    Let's push each other to get out there and run more.

  2. @Ben - My swim time is a result of a lack of experience in a lap pool. I was uncomfortable with people passing me and kept standing up at the shallow end, waiting for whoever was behind me to catch up and then I'd go again. At one point, I was concerned that I might have been hit with a time penalty or DQ as I waited so long. Me being me was time penalty enough, I guess. I have an outstanding swim coach and she's just happy I made it through with a better understanding of the process.

    Run more? Aw, Ben!! Well, my current running shoes are being replaced by the pair I bought this past weekend so I really have no excuse except a distaste for it. I know you've got a lot more on the line this year with running so I'd be happy to do it if it'll help you out. Where should we start? You can shoot me an email and let me know.