The Couch to 5K people can rest easy. My plan to one up them with a “couch to triathlon” workout plan fell short yesterday as I withdrew from the Little Miami Triathlon about four miles into the bike portion finale of the race. Props to my wife, however, (who actually did train hard for the event) and her finishing it. Making matters worse, she not only finished the race, but isn’t nearly as sore as I am today.
What was I thinking?
The race consisted of a 6-mile tandem canoe trip, 5.5 miles on foot (I would say “running” but that wouldn’t accurately describe how I completed that portion), and an 18 mile bike ride for the finale. My approach was pretty simple. I figured the canoeing would be a snap (the water does most of the work), and I had ridden 14 miles on my bike fairly easily. I figured if I just paced myself (walking was OK) 5.5 miles on foot wouldn’t make any difference. Man, was I wrong.
The canoeing was, as I expected, no big deal, save for the fact that my wife and I were probably mismatched. Like with our marriage, I figured I’d let her steer and sit in the back. Putting my tubby self in the front of the boat probably wasn’t the most energy-efficient arrangement. Still, we worked well together and finished the six miles right at an hour.
The one smart thing I did was allow my wife to take off at that point. I knew she’d run more than me, so I didn’t want to hold her back. I started trying to run some of the race, but my left calf which I’d somehow strained earlier in the week didn’t take kindly to the impact of running. Still, I continued on walking, knowing I could finish that way.
Did you know there were hills in Southern Ohio? You’d think someone who grew up and lived most of his life there would’ve taken that little fact into consideration. The final half-mile of the run/walk was (I kid you not) a nearly vertical assent up a hill on a muddy nature trail. At the bottom of the hill, I was confident, anxiously awaiting the bike ride and a successful finish. By the time I made it to the top (I have no idea how long it took me. I may have blacked out at some point) I was a mess, my muscles a quivering mush. Still, I mustered enough strength to stumble to where my bike was parked, sat down on my cooler and downed some Gatorade.
A moment later, I was feeling better. I donned my bike helmet and saddled up for the finish. As I got out on the road (the down hill portion) the breeze blowing over me was a welcome relief. (Who knew it got humid in Southern Ohio in June?) I had my second wind, so I thought. I cruised out of the staging area and onto the road, ready to dig deep and finish the race.
Turns out there will hills here, too. And not just little Central Indiana rises, but actual hills. Maybe the air became thinner, but I started losing energy and fast. At about the four mile mark, my aching calf was calling me again, this time joined by a chorus consisting of my left hip and my lungs. As I neared the turn-off for the main section of the course, I was reeling.
Here’s where I did another smart thing. Rather than pushing myself way past my limit (and probably to the hospital), I decided to turn around and bike back to the finish. I was careful to exit prior to the finish line where a crowd had gathered to cheer on those who had actually completed the entire event. I walked my bike back to the car, mounted it on its rack and went to the finish line to await my wife.
I’m so proud of her. She worked really hard for several months to get in shape for this event. It paid off as she finished strong. I’m glad I was able to do this with her (at least the canoe part) and I’d like to try it again and this time finish myself.
I’ve learned two valuable lessons that I will carry into the next attempt: first, I need to take training seriously. Even though I was in good enough shape cardio-wise, my body wasn’t nearly ready for that kind of impact. Second, we’re going to do this again in October. No way am I facing that humidity again.