Monday, July 16, 2007

Swim, Bike, Run

Well, I don't have any news that can really compare to my sister Franny's - she and her husband Nick just had their second child, a little girl who has just been named Sonja Frances Toombs. You can see pictures of her at her sister Gabriella's blog, and you can hear a song her father wrote and recorded for her at his blog (or mog?) It's a cool piece. Well done on both counts, Nick.
I completed my first triathlon yesterday, something I wouldn't have expected to ever really participate in, as I often tend to shun organized activities. But I guess that as we grow older we change, and I have a group of friends who were doing it, so I signed up and told myself that at the very least it would be good incentive to keep exercising. And as it turned out, it was fun, though the running leg was definitely something of a slog.
It was what is known as a sprint triathlon, which has no consistent length like a marathon does or the ironman triathlon does, but tends to be something close to what this one was: 1/3 mile swim, 9 mile bike ride, 5k run (3.1 miles). So just to be clear, this is nothing close to any sort of truly long-distance endurance event, nothing like a marathon or a hundred-plus mile bike ride (like they do on the legs of the tour de france). I finished it in one hour, twelve minutes and seven seconds, which was enough to place me 352nd in a field of 600 or so participants. I was very pleased; my only conscious goal was to try and complete all three legs without stopping and taking a break. If I had a will of steel, I believe I could certainly have pushed myself a little harder, but as I said before, I was definitely feeling it during the run portion.
The location was perfect, as was the weather. It took place on Cape Cod, in Falmouth. (For those interested the event was put on by Time Out Productions, and you can learn more about them and the results of their events at The swim portion was in the ocean, looking straight out towards Martha's Vineyard. A lovely stretch of water, clear and lush with eelgrass, and a very comfortable swimming temperature. I would love to head back down there with my mask and snorkle and see what I can see murking about through the beds of eelgrass. During the competition, things are a bit hectic for sightseeing, it's all you can do to get your head up to get your bearings from the giant orange buoys as you find yourself in the middle of a bunch of flailing competitors. I chose to stick to the outside of my group just to keep the collisions down to a minimum.
The swim was over very quickly, having got a nice boost from the current during the middle stretch, and then we were onto our bikes for a very nice ride along the shore for a few miles then through some twisty residential roads of Falmouth. I would easily have gone four times the distance on my bike, especially if that meant avoiding the run.
Have I been uneccessarily negative about the run portion? Sorry. Though I make myself do it with some regularity, as it is the most efficient way (time, cost, space) I know of to get in a good cardiovascular workout, I don't really enjoy running. Occasionally I find myself on a great day on a great path really feeling my legs and arms pumping in easy syncronicity and I feel I could someday become a real runner, but most days I just want it over with. It's hard work. And after a short but hard swim and a similar bike ride, I would prefer not to jog 3 miles. But I did, and as I passed the half-way point I realized that the only reason I would stop would be out of sheer laziness and I pushed myself up another small fraction of a notch for the last mile.
After crossing the finish line I took a celebratory swim through the eelgrass and met up with my friends - Anne, Michelle and Karen - to compare notes. I think everyone was pleased, though Michelle had some difficulties with her calf muscles (but still managed a better time than me) and Karen had shin splints. All during the run portion, of course.
I felt great, though when I arrived home in Newton a few hours later I pretty much collapsed for a long nap, from which I awoke feeling disoriented enough to dissipate some of my store of well-being from the race. I am happy to report I have recovered enough that I even considered going for a run today, but I quickly squelched that idea in favor enjoying the local breeze with a good book followed by a nice meal of grilled bluefish.


Meghan said...

That's awesome! Great job just signing up and doing it. I've always wondered how I could expand my fitness with something like that to inspire me. Sounds like the right length, anything longer and I think it can actually be somewhat unhealthy. Just an opinion...:)

"Comrade Brad" said...

great job, bri!
I do triathlons all the time -- just not the running, biking and swimming kind.
Mine are more "metaphysical" (think mind racing, followed by strenuous bouts of self-examination and wrapped up with a round of mental gymnastics).
We'll have to get a couple runs in up north, plus I bought a wakeboard -- does getting pulled behind a boat count? What if it's really fast?

Arissa said...

Good post.