Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Biggest fears

As this is only my second triathlon season, I still am learning a lot. On top of the fact that I don't have tons of race experience, moving to the east coast late last season means each race is new to us right now. All of this creates a list of fears that at times can be tough to conquer. With the Minuteman Sprint now just 3 days away, I'm going to detail what this list is, and what I'm doing to try and mitigate them.

- Risk: Being underprepared. When your current state is huskyfat, it's pretty difficult to be over-prepared. Every stroke, pedal revolution, or stride i take is like moving two people that far forward in comparison to some of the competition out there. I've lost 24 pounds this year and have gotten stronger and faster and more endurant, but I still have nightmares of finishing the Timberman swim over the cutoff line.
In fact, the recurring one has me finishing at 1:11:10 just a minute over the line. I've also had dreams where my constant work on my sub-par bicycle leads to a mechanical failure I can't fix on the course. Surprising as it is, I don't worry about the run very much, because I know if I get through the bike without an unfix-able mechanical failure, I can absolutely finish the run with the time I'll have left.

Mitigation: The only thing I can do to mitigate this is to train as much as possible. We've been pretty solid on this, so I'm not as concerned as I was a month ago, but until Timberman is behind me, I'm going to worry about prep for the big race probably every day (and most nights).

- Risk: Injury. All athletes, especially those training for multiple disciplines are at risk for injury. Especially the "Type A" personalities I talked about yesterday. Being that I'm a bit more sanelazy than these folks, I'm probably actually at more risk, because my body is less prepared for some of the things I've been throwing at. Plus, I'm a klutz. At least once every couple weeks I stub a toe or take a corner too tight and run into something in the office. That's not counting wet pavement under the bike or shoes, pulling muscles or cramps while swimming, or any other stupid thing I can manage to do to myself.

Mitigation: Be careful. Really, it's a thin line between being careful and not training enough. Especially for me and my current capabilities where on my best days I'm well inside the cutoff times, but my best days don't happen often enough yet. I'm trying to be smart about fluid intake and electrolytes which are the best ways to protect muscles. And the bone density scan I got at the free health fair put on by the local TV station had me solidly in the "good" range, so I'm probably not at a lot of risk for bone breaks.
Most of deep-seated injury concern is around my joints. I'm a big dude putting a lot of stress on my knees and ankles, not to mention my shoulders and hips. The only thing I can really do to prevent these injuries is to train within myself and be as technically correct as possible.

- Risk: Illness. This is actually what prompted me in building this list today. The past few days I haven't been feeling great, and today has been the worst so far. I slept horribly last night, tossing and turning, waking hourly, and feeling like I'm having a lot of problem breathing. This leaves me groggy and lethargic, which is not conducive to good training just days before a race. Bad training leads to injuries, so it really opens a can of worms.

Mitigation: Not much I can do at this point. I have been meaning to see a doctor, but like I've mentioned, I'm lazy. I am taking Claratin which is approved for both training and race usage by WADA. I know that the chances of getting tested as an amateur at small local race in which I am not likely to place are essentially infinitesimal, but I'm not about to risk participation if that 1 in 100,000 chance happens. If I'm not feeling better by tomorrow, I'll probably consider adding a nasal steroid (Flonase) which is permitted for both training and competition without a doctors note.

- Risk: Open water swim nerves. Rach had this happen to her during the Season Opener, and we saw what the consequences of that were. Part of that was water temperature (which we'll see more of this weekend), but part of it is that there are no lane lines, no ends to rest on, and no built in measure of distance traveled.

Mitigation: We're renting a wetsuit for Rach again this weekend. I'm undecided if I'll wear the one I have or not, depending on the weather that morning. They're forecasting a temperature of 67 degrees, which is probably 10 degrees warmer than what we swam in at the Season Opener, but about 10 degrees colder than what we usually swim in at FitRec. The Minuteman is a small race with a close to shore swim, so I don't expect the water to feel 67, and I don't think we'll feel as much panic this weekend. The only thing we can do between now and August is swim outside once a week or so, and that's our (new) plan.

- Risk: sharks, alligators, snakes, etc. Seriously, there are sharks in the ocean and some are seen in the waters off Boston, though more so the cape and up by Maine. The fact that they saw sharks up by the beach in York, ME where I got in the water over Memorial Day means sharks are still to close for my personal comfort. Alligators may be less of a concern, but you never know. They're sneaky bastards in all the movies.

Mitigation: The fact that all of our swims are fresh water will probably help, but the other major thing I can do is make sure to not watch Jaws, Anaconda, Lake Placid, or any other movie likely to set off a phobia.



- A mere 6 mile bike followed by a few miles of walking comprised yesterdays workout. Rach wasn't feeling well, and we had some stuff to get done before it got too late. We're biking tonight, and Rach is getting in a swim while I'm working today.

- My helmet and sunglasses haven't arrived yet, and I can't find my current sunglasses, so I'm hopeful the new ones get here before the weekend.


  1. more tips to mitigate the shark thing:
    1) don't pee in your wetsuit. Sharks have an acute sense of smell, and are atracted to pee.
    2) stay in the bunch - surround yourself with bait!

    Also, is "endurant" a word? Regadless, Im using it!

  2. Inertia - Just saw this somehow. I agree completely about the shark thing, but staying with the bunch is the trouble.

    And I totally think endurant is a word.