Thursday, 22 August
Choices: “Racing Out of the Dark Ages”
The quote in the title for this week’s Entry is the slogan for the Peasantman Triathlon Series . I am proud to say I was there for the inaugural event! I competed in the “steel” distance - 144.6 miles. (Race directors assured us that the 4 extra miles were added to the beginning of the bike course - while we were still fresh.) They also offered the half steel. (I call them the “fool” distance and the “half-wit” distance.)
I was honored to witness and support the beginning of a great legend.
I am so grateful my companion Betsy was there to share the experience - having just returned from her summer in New Paltz, to rejoin me in our life together here in Ithaca. She spent the summer teaching at the Total Immersion Swim Studio, providing her with adequate finances to help her through the her final year of nursing school. Commitment and dedication!
This was a race of choices for me. “Choices” offer a different context than excuses. The context I view this race through is the ambitious schedule of frequent racing I am enjoying this summer. Therefore it is only fitting that Peasantman should be my reunion with one of the finest athletes I know in the “Church of Triathlon”...
Larry Lewis - “Mister Consistent”
Larry may not win his age group in a long-course triathlon or marathon - until he outlives the competition. However, he is one of the most distinguished. Peasantman was his 33rd iron-distance tri. He has finished all but one Lake Placid Ironman (the summer his wife died of brain cancer) and is closing in on 20 JFK 50 Mile Runs (where we first met in 2005). Oh, and he’s done the New York City Marathon many times, as well as Boston. I don’t want to guess at all his numbers, but lets just say, he really is Mister Consistent.
Three weeks before Peasantman, Larry finished Lake Placid IM (the same weekend I did the WIlderness 101-Mile MTB race). And three later, he will be back in Montreal for the iron distance Esprit Triathlon. (Shoots, it makes my ambitious season look laissez-faire.)
Like me, Larry loves the lifestyle - the training, the racing, the “o’hana”. He also chooses to race well within his limits - choosing to go easy on his body so he can recover and race again soon. In this context, it’s not about the podium. (It’s not a “bout” with the podium?) It’s about cultivating the humility, humbleness, grace and gentle nature that lead to longevity. WIth this approach, racing is a great metaphor for life.
Competition: A Petition for the Empowerment of Companionship
Indeed, the ”Church of Triathlon”! The empowerment of companionship. For me, the new paradigm for “winning” is feeling a connection with more people at a race than anyone else there. In this paradigm, Larry and I are arch rivals. Hah! We both know lots of people at the races we participate in. I think Larry won at Peasantman. (Note: We are the same age - always in the same age group. In the future, we may be the last two standing.)
I registered for Peasantman to support the low-key / low-budget - yet high caliber character of this new event. I knew it would not a be a peak-performance goal race. The choices to participate and celebrate the empowerment of companionship were the priorities.
My preparation was for this was certainly not “race-distance-specific”. I have not ridden my TT bike more than 56 miles (and that was once - at Musselman 5 weeks ago) since last October. (Instead, my long rides have been on the mountain bike - mostly the day following a race.) On a regular basis, I do execute some quality interval training on the TT (inside on the trainer). I am satisfied with the 7th fastest bike split (out of 22 finishers) though the 17.5 mph average speed was well below my potential for the 116-mile distance. (This was not a particularly difficult bike course - but it certainly was beautiful).
As for the run... At 6:01:01 - a 13:47 mile pace - well, let’s just say it was casual. I averaged 11-to-12-minute pace for the first half. I chose to mix walking with easy running for the last half, and to set my sights on a rapid recovery to prepare for S.O.S. in 3 weeks. Instead, of pushing through the pain (to injury) I focused my energy on encouraging my competitors - some of whom had great runs.
My longest run (since last November) was 2 hours, 45 minutes - about 17 miles - 4
weeks before Peasantman - the only one longer than 13 miles. I also anticipated some shoe problems. Recently, I purchased a pair of Altra One’s - a great shoe for me - but the largest size is still a bit too small. I tolerated them fine on that one long run in July, but half way through the marathon, the ends of my toes were hurting. Anticipating this, I had stashed my Newtons in my run special needs, so I made the switch. However, they are not the best shoe for my supinated gait. Within a few miles my left IT band was whining. (Note to self: Contact Altra and se if they can make the One a size larger - it’s a great shoe.)
I offer none of these details as excuses for having not finished faster. This was my slowest iron - and that is just fine with me. (OK it was 4 miles longer, but the course topography is fairly gentle.) I chose to race slowly. I chose to take it all in, to enjoy the experience and to connect with the spirit of Peasantman.
Age Group Placement
Holy smokes! First in Age Group? OK, so Larry and I were the only 2 in our age group. I’m gonna call it a tie between Larry and me. I believe he may have known more people at the race than I did. (He knew all of the race staff from racing with them at other races.)
The results beyond age group placement? Betsy and I enjoyed a great breakfast the next morning (Monday) with Larry and his parents (who have seen him finish 20 of his irons).
Later that day, back at home, I biked to Island Health and Fitness and taught a private swim session with a new swim client. She showed up on the pool deck with a towel from Hawaii. That prompted our conversation about Hawaiian spirituality, swimming and healing. She is taking up swimming as rehab after major surgery. Water, balance, serenity and grace were themes in our session together.
By the time I arrived home (after an easy swim of my own and a steam) she had e-mailed to say it was the most relaxed and enjoyable swim she can remember. Wow! What a reward!
I biked back to the pool Tuesday morning for a 30-minute swim and another steam. Then Betsy and I had a marathon day at the Corning Museum of Glass. After seven hours we were beyond sensory overload. I had no idea how infinite are the possibilities for glass! What a rich and rewarding day!
By Wednesday, my recovery was adequate enough for a rejuvenating Pilates/yoga session in the morning. (Incredible how great I feel after this!) Midday, I did an 35-minute hilly run in the new Vibram 5-Fingers I will use for S.O.S. In the evening, I swam 20 minutes with some sprint 50’s before leading the Wednesday evening Swim Mastery.
This morning, I began the day with a 70-minute stationary session on the TT bike, including a series of power intervals. I followed that with a 20-minute run, concentrating on cadence.
Now these are results I canlive with!
Status: All systems Go. Time to tune-up for S.O.S. And bike some steep hills to prepare for the “vertical shock” of Savageman.
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