Every year I have a focus and goal in relation to my physical fitness. In 2005 my sole aim was to run a marathon in under 3 hours. I ticked that box with a time of 2hrs52min at Melbourne Marathon. In 2012, it was push-ups… perform the number push-ups each day to correspond with that numerical day of the year. I failed that one – after getting two thirds of the way through the year, I developed an impingement syndrome in my right shoulder (too much of a good thing!). Even though I completed my 9th Ironman Triathlon last year and several other events, I hadn’t given myself a clear cut goal to aim for. As a result, I felt a little “lost” with my daily workouts and exercise. If you’ve been following my blog posts over the past few months, you would have noticed that I have been loading up on events this year – so much so that Vicky commented last night that we’re going to be broke because of the cost of entry fees. Below is my list of events for this year. I believe your goals need to be big enough to scare you. Looking at some of the events on my list makes me feel excited and anxious with a good dose of fear.
My alarm sounded at 5am on Sunday 29 March. “Surely I don’t need to be doing this today,” was my first thought. I spent the next 5 minutes in bed attempting to muster up a list of reasonable excuses to get out of doing the TeamUp Olympic Distance Triathlon. Two overwhelming thoughts got me out of bed… 1. I paid $145 for the event entry, and 2. Elijah, my son and best little buddy was entered in to do the kids triathlon event (which started immediately after the time I hoped to finish my event). I sat in the quiet, dark house and sipped on my black coffee until it was time to head off. I like to cycle to running and triathlon events where possible, and the 20km ride from home to Mordialloc Beach helped to clear my head and get me in the mood to race (or at least to go as fast as my body was willing to go). Meditation has various interpretations and meanings for different people. For me, I feel as though my mind transcends to another sub-conscious level when I actively move. My daily exercise has become just as much of a mental pursuit as it is a physical one.
I’m always impressed when arriving at temporary sports event sites. There’s a hive of activity with people everywhere… The event management staff and volunteers, police for road closures, paramedics, event sponsors, baristas in their mobile coffee trucks, competitors and supporters. Everyone is there for a common goal – to succeed. The event management want to put on a flawless, well run show to attract repeat business and generate positive referrals. The police want to ensure the safety of all involved. The competitors are hoping for a positive experience with either a win or personal best performance or the thrill of crossing the finish line. The supporters are mums, dads, partners, wives, husbands, kids (and even pet dogs) who know how much effort and sacrifice has gone into the training and preparation and have supported their competitor along the way. It’s the coming together of this community that allows for everyone to succeed. Take a wheel out this cog and you quickly go from success to failure.
My race report… This was the same distance event as I completed 2 weeks ago (click here for the blog post). Even though I felt as though my immediate recovery post that event was great, a few days later I developed a head cold that persisted for 72 hours. Over the Easter long weekend I indulged in 3 hot cross buns, which I don’t regret having because I really really felt like them. I’m not sure if it was genuine hunger or poor nutrition habits, but I did consume more than I needed to in the week leading up to the triathlon. After a 3 hour ride and 1 hour run on the day before the event, I felt confident that I had depleted my carbohydrate stores and could focus on getting in some good wholesome LCHF (Low Carb High/Healthy Fat) nutrition for the remainder of that day (which I did). I had an early dinner which meant that by the time the start gun went off at 8am I had been “fasting” for 13 hours. This was good – a combination of glycogen depletion from the training on Saturday (i.e. used up most of my stored carbs) and a period of fasting meant that my fat adapted body could start burning my stored fat for fuel. The swim was unremarkable besides a few knocks and bumps from other swimmers. My legs were not cooperating with me on the ride and I felt like I was riding into a never ending headwind (which I assumed was due to fatigue from the session the day before – that was my reasonable excuse anyway). Starting the run, I was immediately passed by 3 or 4 people which demoralised me even further. I had to do a lot of internal counselling and positive self talk to keep running at a decent pace. I was passed by another runner (who happened to be in my age group) after the first kilometre and decided to grit my teeth and run directly behind him. The imaginary elastic band that was holding me to him felt as though it was going to snap at any moment. I was cursing those 3 hot cross buns now! But then something almost magical happened. We got to the 5km turnaround point and I found myself running shoulder to shoulder with him. And then within in a few swift strides I was galloping away (well, that’s what it felt like anyway). There was an injection of strength that I used to continually increase my pace. I felt like a hunter chasing down its prey. It became a game – how many people could I pass from here until the finish line. The few people that had passed me earlier wouldn’t have had much time to see my heels as I overtook them. Finishing with more energy than when I started, I was very pleased with my performance. I felt as though my body had flipped that fat burning switch and I could keep on going.
I’ve never been one for objective tests, measures and markers for physical performance. I’ve always tended to “go by feel.” However, moving forward I will be testing my ketone levels (a by product of fat metabolism) immediately after an event, and compare that reading to my daily regular reading. That way I can know for sure wether or not I’m burning my stored fat for fuel.
Elijah’s race report… He was too nervous and excited to eat before his event (which started just after 10am). That meant he would have been “fasting” for as much as 15 hours! He was smiling during the swim, ride and run. There was no examination of performance and pacing. He was simply excited to be out there and very proud of himself for crossing the finish line.