Monday, May 7, 2012

major goal accomplished - I ran an Olympic length triathlon!

3:04:24. 3 hours, 4 minutes, 24 seconds.

1,500 meters swum; 24.8 miles ridden; 6.2 miles run.

Saturday I accomplished a goal which was 2 years in the making, and I have to say how satisfying it felt.

In January, 2010, some friends of mine challenged me (over beers) to do a triathlon with them, and my response was something along the lines of "bring it on, sissies." They had already picked out a race for that May - a sprint triathlon covering a 1,000 meter open-water swim, followed by a 14-mile bike ride and a 3.6-mile run over a grueling mountainous trail. I hadn't been doing much exercise the last few years, so I thought this would be challenging but doable.

I went out the next morning to run a couple miles, just to get a baseline of where I was starting from. I ran as fast as I could - 2.4 miles in 25 minutes. Then I almost puked my brains out. Uh oh, this might not be such a cake walk..

By March I had worked my way up to a 3.5 mile run without feeling the need to vomit, so it was time to get in the pool.  I swam 3 laps before I ran out of air, hyperventilated, would have drowned if the pool wasn't only 4 feet deep, and wondered in despair how I was going to swim the equivalent of 20 laps in deep lake-water.

Somehow I managed to finish the race that May. After the race I leaned that this particular race was one of the hardest "sprint" triathlons in the country - most of them only swim 400 meters, and most of them are on flat ground. I remember feeling cheated, being so proud of what I had accomplished, but when I told people it was a sprint triathlon they would give that look of "oh, that's not a big deal - I thought you meant an ironman."  That always left a bad taste in my mouth.

The next spring my friends and I decided to do the same race again, with a goal of bettering our times. But once that was over, we decided to up the ante, and do a longer triathlon - one that couldn't be watered down and confused with something smaller. We settled on the Olympic length race last Thanksgiving, and training began in earnest this February.

15 weeks of training, each week going a little further &/or faster than the week before. Waking up each Tuesday earlier and earlier (4:00 am the last 3 weeks) so I would have time to ride for 90 minutes and then run for 60 minutes before going to work. (Tuesday was my long workout morning - I swam every Monday, and I ran every Friday, eventually running a 10K each Friday morning.)

It feels good to be in this good of shape. It feels good to have accomplished something that was unfathomable 2 years ago. It also feels good to know I get to take a week off from working out, and that when I come back I don't have to do anymore ultra-length workouts. at least for awhile..

-Chris Butterworth