Okay, I know this one is really long but bear with it. It pays off with the funny!
Today was an easy 45 minute run again. I ran at my usual place, the Chandler Bike Path here in Burbank.
By the way, I walked for five minutes to warm up then ran for ten, walked a minute, ran another ten, walked one minute again, repeating until I had ran and walked for 45 minutes not counting the warm up. The very pointy drops are from where I stopped my Garmin Forerunner 910xt at traffic lights.
Sometimes when I'm running on the Chandler bike path, I pass people that are overweight like me or even worse. I can't tell you how often I have seen that "Please don't judge me" look in their eyes. I always want to stop and tell them that they are doing good just being out there and that I'm not judging them, I'm rooting for them. Because they are me and I'm them. Instead, I usually give a thumbs up and a small smile.
While waiting at one of the stop lights, I looked down to see I was being attacked by a very fluffy and very excited baby Shih Tzu. Her owner, apologized as the tiny ball of fur licked and rolled around on my feet trying to get me to pet her. The owner says, "She normally only acts this way with other dogs!" Hmmmmmmm. . .The light changed and now the little dog was running with me, dragging her owner to keep pace. She would have happily run with me forever if she could I think. But then I had to turn around.
In The Beginning Part 4:
I finished at the Hansen Dam Triathlon swim clinic and went home to tell my wife I was heading to Triathlon Lab, a triathlon equipment retail store in Santa Monica. She decided to tag along. Probably for the potential humor of seeing me struggle into a wetsuit for the first time. After a couple of attempts I found the correct size and tried it on. Thank goodness for seeing Robert B. Keating's demo on putting on the suits. Even so, after trying on the first one, I was covered in sweat and out of breath. Wetsuits are not very flattering. . .
As I checked out, I saw Robert B. Keating working the check out and we started chatting. Eventually, he mentioned that he was part of an organization that helps wounded veterans through cycling. The group is called Ride2Recovery and is wonderful with what they do for our countries wounded. Both the physical and mentally wounded. For instance they have an outdoor cycling program and organize group rides where soldiers missing legs can participate with special hand-bikes. I strongly endorse this program and encourage everyone to as well, regardless of your politics. Anyways, Robert asked if I wanted to get involved and I enthusiastically agreed. Although as of this writing, I have only contributed monetarily and need to step up and volunteer somehow.
Before I left the store, I caught site of a sign that offered a Triathlon Starter Kit for $999.00 and it included everything you needed for a race. I mentioned it to my wife on the drive home.
She replied, "Uh-oh."
And she was right, I was already bit by the bug but that was a lot of money for me at the time. (A good deal none the less as it included a very nice road bike, full wetsuit, helmet, quick drying triathlon shorts and top, race number strap, backpack, Glide anti chaffing stick, swim cap and goggles.)
I kept thinking about it and finally decided to take the plunge and returned a week later with that slightly sick feeling I always get when I spend a lot of money. My first road bike a Felt F85!
The day of the race came and I was ready as I could be in such a short time. My strength and conditioning coach William Wayland tried to reassure me to relax and just do my best. (By the way, William only charges $40.00 a month for a custom program, now you know how I could afford it! If interested go to Powering Through )
The following a an after action report of the race and what I was feeling and thinking as I did it. Sorry about the length but hey, it's honest.
Hansen Dam Sprint Triathlon - (Swim 500 yards, Bike 11 miles, Run 3.1 miles)
Woke up at 4:00am after getting to bed at 1:00am. Cold symptoms are worse with actively runny nose and sneezing. Great. Feel bloated and basically pretty fat. Probably from the extra sodium I ate yesterday before in prep for the race. Made my morning smoothie and packed the last of the gear. For some reason, I can't go to the bathroom. Great x2, now I'm gonna be extra "bloated" during the race. Got in the car with Mariko and headed towards the race, just to return five minutes later because I forgot something. Crap, it was 5:25am and I was supposed to be there already. Kevin Tran calling, "Where are you?" Arrived at the Hansen Dam Aquatic Center at 5:45am. Grabbed the bike and my backpack and headed for the Transition point, Mariko in tow. Gotta pee, so I find a rest room. Got into the Transition area and set up pretty quick. Saw Kevin on the way in who nodded and smiled. The line for body marking is huge. Fortunately, someone has a Sharpie and writes my race number on my right shoulder and right calf. Must remember to bring a large Sharpie next year. Crap, I forgot to use to the Body Glide anti chafe stick. I look around, screw it. Hand down pants, preventing my legs from chaffing in the crotch region. I look around again, if anyone saw, they don't care. Got the wetsuit on, (thanks to Robert B. Keating for the technique!) My bloated gut, makes me look like an inflated black vinyl glove.
Briefly worry that I'm embarrassing Mariko with my out of shape body. Mental note: All published photos will be from the chest up. I immediately begin sweating and have to pee. Maybe it can wait. Listen to the pre race speech. Some stuff about gravel on top of the dam during the bike ride. Heart rate is a little higher than I would like and I'm leaving a pool of sweat everywhere I stand. Fortunately, Mariko has her water bottle with her as we wait to start the race. Where the heck is Kevin? Sipping the water. Crap, now I have to pee. Unzipping as I head to the porta john hoping my wave isn't called. Okay, back in line ready to start. Mariko has a big floppy hat on that makes her easy to spot in the crowd. All 40-44 men line up. That's me. I turn on my Polar heart rate monitor and mentally remind myself to press the button again to start it, before the race. I hang back as the airhorn blast. Go! Me and another slow swimmer do a lot of "After you." "No, after you." stuff. Water is warmer than I expect and disgusting. I'm really reaching as I keep my face in the water. Two strokes, breath, two strokes, breath. Really reaching, all the sudden I'm passing people. Whoa, there killer. Ease up, a lot of swim to go. I start thinking about the pre race Water Quality report for the lake. "The water is really clean. However there is a parasite that will burrow into your skin and make you itchy until it dies." About halfway to the first buoy, I realize I can't catch my breath. Breathing is shallow. Oh shit, so that's how this stupid cold is affecting me! I begin swimming with my head out of the water which immediately slows me down. Feel like I'm treading water. I round the first buoy and sight the second. Holy crap, it looks far. I immediately roll on my back and start a modified back stroke thinking, "I definitely need to work on my swim" and at the same time, "thank god for the wetsuit!" After a bit, I roll back over and freestyle until I loose my air again. Make sure to "thumbs up" the lifeguard on the surfboard. Please don't notice I'm struggling. Basically repeat this until I feel sand. So I stand up and start running. Man, I gotta burp! It would suck if I yak at the exit ramp. I hope I didn't swallow any parasites! That's funny, I'm pretty sure I had legs when I went into the water. Now it feels like trembling pillars of jello. Crap, I forgot to start my heart rate monitor! (Swim 18:37) Where's Mariko? Scan the crowd but I don't see her and the hat. A nice lady gives me a cheer. Thanks lady! I get to Transition and take a breather as I strip off the wetsuit. Where do I put it? Damn! That's right, I brought a big bag. Where's Mariko? Oh, there she is, struggling with her portable chair and hand bag and trying to film me. Feet are wet and sandy, gotta clean them off before I put on my socks and bike shoes. Crap, where is the sunblock. Spaying it on, I discover the chaffing on my neck OUCH!!! Better take a drink before I head out. Helmet, sunglasses, bike shoes, everything right? I start to run towards the bike exit before I remember I need my bike! My bike has pedals that the shoes clip into. The problem is, the clips on the bottom of the shoes makes running awkward at best. And you can't mount the bike until you are outside of Transition. I'm thinking I look like an old timer at a hoedown, duck footing my way to the mount area. (T1 5:50) Finally on the bike, awesome. Going about 16mph. I pass a guy who is about a hundred pounds heavier than me and shout out some encouragement. First hill, down shift, no problem. Try drinking while riding for the first time. Interesting experience. Second hill, down shift all the way down. Slowing to 6 mph. I notice an organic nursery and take note where it is, to tell Mariko about it later. Time for an energy gel. The guy I passed earlier, passes me. Man, I sure wish I would have pooped before the race! At about the seven mile mark, I try shifting to a gear that doesn't exist and the chain goes off the front derailleur. No problem, except I almost forgot that my feet are clipped to the pedals. At the last second before falling on my ass, I freed one of my feet and dismounted to fix the chain. The rest of the ride goes pretty well. People pass me pretty regularly. A little kid about 12 years old passes me. Then another little kid, this time about 10 years old. He is so small compared to the bike he's riding that he has to stand up over the top tube to pedal! Next an elderly woman. Hey!!! I'm thinking, go ahead and pass, I'm holding back for the run! Down the big hill I get up to 26mph, elbows in, knees tight. Lot's of people with bullhorns warning about the turn into the dam being dangerous at high speed. I have nothing to worry about as I am not going fast at all at the turn. There is a small, steep hill to the top of the dam. A lady is seriously laying on the self affirmation to get to the top. I shout out my own encouragement and she looks back slightly annoyed. The ride across the top of the dam is incredible. I look down and think I see Kevin running at the bottom of the dam. I call out to him and almost go sailing off the road.
I can see the last turn before heading back into the Aquatic Center. I see a guy up ahead that is struggling. "You need help?", "No, it's just a flat." "Okay." An official with a bull horn is telling us that we must dismount before the orange line. No problem, time to duck walk back to transition. (Bike 46:09) Where's Mariko? I don't see her anywhere. There she is, struggling with all the stuff she's carrying still. Shoes and helmet off. Attempt to dry my feet a bit before putting on the Vibrams. Struggle to get them on. Where is my race number belt!? Oh, there it is. Where the heck is the sunblock again!? Man, that wetsuits smells like swamp water! I grab a drink of water and an energy gel and ask which way is the run exit. (T2 5:21) Now I'm running at an incredibly slow pace. An elderly man is power walking past me. As a matter of fact, a young woman who walks the run portion is keeping pace. There sure is a lot of horse poop on the trail. A lot of sand too dammit! I am tired and at the 1.5 mile marker, both my quads are thinking about cramping at the same time, so I'm saying encouraging things to prevent it. Like, "please don't start cramping, please don't start cramping! I don't want to roll around in horse poop!" I try to take some time and allow myself to just experience everything, embracing the discomfort. Should I push harder? Why the heck am I so bloated today? Two and a half weeks is not a lot of time to train for a triathlon. Next time I will train a little bit longer. All the sudden, the energy gel I ate at the beginning of the run kicks in and I start to push. I think that maybe I'm a back half runner. Tell myself to do more extensive warm ups because I feel better running with a good ten-fifteen minutes. The sand on the trail starts sapping my strength. Someone running in the opposite direction mentions that there is no first aid set up on the course. I hope they are wrong, I could use some water. About a half mile from the finish, I start to keep pace with an older man who is talking to himself. I point out that we can see the water slide near the finish line from where we are. He brightens up and somehow we end up chatting about Brazilian jiu jitsu. We round a corner and see a first aid tent with volunteers handing out water and Gatorade. I think of the strength and conditioning program my coach William Wayland has had me doing for the last couple of months and how I asked him to come up with a training plan for a triathlon in a day. It was because of my confidence in the program that I decided to do the triathlon in the first place. I'm thinking I hope my final placement isn't too low and I don't embarrass him. Somehow the walking lady has passed me. Probably because I drank an extra cup of Gatorade at the first aid station. So is the older guy I was talking to. I catch up to the walking girl who calls out to me. She says she wants to keep pace for the last fifty yards. We make it past the water slide and onto the sand. I ask if she wants to sprint? She says yes and we go faster. I see the blue strip that indicates the timer chip marker and think it's the finish but someone yells out we need to go to the second blue strip to actually finish. Where is Mariko? People are cheering. I look in their eyes as I pass and think I see genuine happiness for us. I hope she sees me get the medal put around my neck. There she is, lugging all her stuff, floppy hat firmly in place. I wait for her before stepping in for the medal. I notice the medal girl is morbidly obese and want to talk to her about taking a daily walk and how to figure out her basic caloric intake needs. I want to tell her that it's not nearly as hard as she might think it is, (losing weight.) As our eyes meet, there is the flicker saying "Please don't judge me." Instead, I say "Thank you." and smile and look for Mariko. Over the loud speaker system I hear the announcer say congratulations Michael S. Pack as I grab a couple of orange slices and a coconut water. I grab a water for Mariko. I take a moment looking around the winners circle, taking it all in for a minute. I feel tired, but pretty good. Someone mentions the L.A. Triathlon is coming up. I think I might just need to do that one to. . . (Run 42:12)
Final time: 1 hour 58 minutes and 10 seconds.