Suffering Through the Mossman Triathlon


July 12, Brooklyn, NY — Yesterday I competed in my second, and arguably most difficult triathlon—the Mossman–it wasn’t necessarily the course, which was fast, but rather my mental and physical state. I simply did not feel ready for the race, but didn’t want to bow out and not compete. In spite of not feeling well I eeked out times comparable with my performance in the St. Anthony’s Triathlon. I didn’t get much faster–though it’s hard to benchmark different events. However, if you were to place one event against the other, and double for distance, I did this one a little faster–the good news is that I rode 20.02 MPH on the bike–a stated goal, compared to 19.15 MPH last time–that’s almost a 1 mph gain. Also, the runs, let’s compare–there were some speed gains. At St. Anthony’s I ran 8 minute, 30 second miles. At Mossman, I did 7 minute, 51 second miles. Now, the swims, let’s see. 40:34 per hour @ St. Anthony’s compared to 39:38 @ Mossman–so that’s almost a minute faster. Transition times, were also faster at Mossman–T1 @ St. Anthony’s was 5:28, @ Mossman 3:46. Transition 2 @ St. Anthony’s was 2:11, @ Mossman, 1:45, so I got faster at those–so overall, if the two were equal, Mossman was a faster race–of course I didn’t have to go as long. What I probably should start doing is recording my splits–I wonder what would have happened if I had to go twice as long yesterday?

But what’s undeniable is that I mentally felt much better at St. Anthony’s–there’s probably nothing like doing something your first time–I had few expectations. I was there with a great group of folks, I was doing it for a cause–there were lots of people cheering me on. I felt like this was much more of an independent effort. I also felt much less well rested, having just got back from a vacation with a time change.

I was thinking–did I really have fun yesterday? Not exactly. I suffered yesterday. Does this suffering make me stronger? Maybe. I did not have fun swimming yesterday. I did not have fun at the first transition when my head was spinning and I thought I was going to vomit. However, I did have fun on the bike though, and also on the run–I got that good tingling sensation rushing over me that you only get during intense, steady exercise.

One thing that draws me to triathlon is that it’s really hard to fake–you get concrete, measurable results. I think what’s noteable about my performance yesterday is not so much how I did time wise (though it’s definitely worth noting the improvement) but rather that I did so well *in spite of* how I felt. I persevered with the stomach cramps, I got on my bike when I felt like I was going to vomit. I pushed on when I thought I wanted to quit and I finished the race.

So that was one lesson. The other I think is about estimating the race. I think I under-estimated the difficulty of the task a bit and as a result, I don’t think I was as mentally prepared. For St. Anthony’s I went in thinking, this is going to be tough—there was also a very logical progression on the swims–leading up to a 1 mile time trial. In this case, I was much more on my own for the swims. I did much better at drilling, and think that my form is improving, but at the same time, I think I was less rigorous in my training. If I were to look at the logs, I’d see that I put much more time in on biking and maybe even running.

There’s just so much to coordinate with swimming that it reminds me of playing the guitar–your whole body really has to be in sync. It’s not easy. I get frazzled in the water. I wonder if there’s a way I could do it so I had more time–is the problem that I feel rushed? It’s just hard for me to stay focussed on doing it right. Yesterday I had an idea where I should set little goals, ie, swim X yards in perfect form instead of any sort of time related goals. I think that’s where in some ways the event plays against you. Or does it? The event gives you something to train for. Next time, my goal’s going to be to have fun. Sure, I’ll suffer–that’s part of racing, but I want to go in thinking that it’s going to be tough AND that I’ll have fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *