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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tri, Tri Again

Riddle - how can you run over 11 miles and still feel lazy?

Answer - run to a triathlon.

My brother-in-law was competing in the Couples Triathlon today out at Decker Lake in East Austin, and I told him that I would come out and support him. It's not very often that I actually get to watch a race, so I was really looking forward to it. The only catch? Sunday is the day of my long run, and I had to get that in somewhere. Easy solution. I would run to the race.

Now here's the thing: everyone always talks about the west side of Austin as Hill Country, so I assumed, totally erroneously, that the east side must then be flat, and when I put together my route that involved several miles on MLK, I never even considered how very difficult that might be. I really should have checked the elevation chart, but everything looks flat on MapMyRun. Consider the lesson learned.

Really, it wasn't the hills that killed me, as I was already pretty beat before I even got to them. The fact that the temperature was pushing 80 when I left the apartment at 5:45am was probably much more to blame. But the hills didn't help. Against my own advice and desire, I did a little bit of walking. Fortunately, I was able to drop myself into a rhythm of running several minutes and then walking for one, structured around the hills that I was completing. I never stopped mid-hill, but would always run for another minute or two until I had crested, and then took my rest on the downhill or flat surface where it would be more effective.

Once I'd made it to 50 minutes, I had an energy gel, and everything turned around. My "on" times went from 4 minutes to 7, and I was only taking them out of caution at that point. The solution is clear to me: I need to start eating before my long runs. What will I eat? That's for tomorrow's post.

My two really fun moments from the run both involved trains. The first was the discovery of a Capital Metro station out in the middle of nowhere. I had heard that these trains were essentially useless due to location, but I had no idea how true that was. I mean, this wasn't near anything. A little further down, I crossed some actual train tracks, and had my wits scared out of me when, halfway across, the bells started ringing. I turned to my right and saw a train not 50 feet away, taking a very slow turn toward me. I was never in any kind of danger, but I was thrilled that I got over the tracks before that train stopped me. That would have killed my time.

At the end of my mapped run, I ducked into a gas station to buy a couple sports drinks, and then headed the rest of the way to the triathlon. I found my BIL, gave him some encouraging words and watched him go. And immediately got jealous. One of the reasons I almost never watch a race is that I invariably want to compete in them. For this one, I haven't swam anywhere near that far in years, and I don't even own a bike, so the race could well have killed me. Still, it looked like fun.

But it also looked grueling. Once the sun came out, the heat skyrocketed and everyone out on the (barely shaded) course started to cook. It was not a PR kind of day, but BIL finished strongly, and I felt completely lazy. I mean, all I did was run today, but doing a tri requires the use of just about every muscle in your body. Doing a tri in a Texas summer is just plain crazy. And one of these days, I'll get around to doing it.

Why? Because every time I see some ridiculously difficult challenge, I feel the need to try it. Man Vs. Food, crazy race stories in Runner's World, stupid gimmicks attached to established races - if it involves the word "challenge," consider me in. I want to say that I've done it all, and while I don't currently have any challenges planned, I'm always on the lookout for the next big accomplishment.

And that will likely not be a triathlon, as I'm not sure I could even finish right now. I'm very proud of BIL for his completion, and I look forward to attending the next one.

In the meantime, I've just completed week 2 of 18, and I haven't missed a mile yet. This coming week is a step-back week, which would be awesome if the midweek runs didn't increase mileage. Though I've only got to do 8 miles next Sunday, my Wednesday and Saturday runs are now up to 6. The one great consolation is that I really enjoy my six-mile route. Overall, next week will have two miles less than this week did, which means that I've got to run them hard. And the first step for that is being prepared, which includes eating before the run.

Ahh, but what to eat...?

Sunday's Run:
79 Degrees (at start)
11.56 Miles
1 Hour, 35 Minutes, 13 Seconds

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