Hey all you TriKats… It’s me again, the Ordinary Fellow, Pat. I’m here with Part 2 of a series that Cara (Prez) asked me, as a relative new member, to share with you regarding the Ironman (IM) distance Tri that I completed this past August at the Michigan Titanium. Due to the length of this section on what I did to prepare for the IM I’m going to make two parts out of this. Consider this as a sort of warning or a “heads up” so if you find this too completely boring you can skip the next (and any subsequent) issues.
What Did I Do To Prepare For My IM Tri?
I finished the Michigan Titanium (MiTi) full ironman distance triathlon this past August. Up to this point I had already achieved most of the items on my bucket list. I had finished the gamut of popular running events up to 26.2 miles. I don’t have any desire to run further than that so there will be no ultra-distant events for me! I had also completed several triathlons. Also by this time I was beginning to have some concept of the enormity of the journey I was about to embark on and, just as NASA made a plan to repair the Hubble Telescope, I knew that I needed a plan to keep me focused and on course.
I Told My Wife
I had read an article that was written by the wife of an IM bound triathlete. After reading it I felt that it was quite significant. She said that her husband enlisted her help and support as he trained and did his event.
I’m married (sorry all you single ladies!!) and I enjoy being married, while there have been some real rough times, I’m aiming to stay married. I felt that I didn’t need nor seek her permission since I was going to do it anyway, but I wanted her understanding of what I was undertaking and her blessing on my efforts. It was going to take a bunch of time away from our normal times together. Missing family functions and such. She was going to have to start making dinner again (I’m told that we had an agreement after our last child moved out. If I made dinner she would clean up the mess. That worked for me since I really don’t enjoy cleaning) because rather than being home I would now be out and about doing some crazy workout. I realized that I wasn’t going to be the only one making sacrifices during this training. My wife would be making adjustments as well. So we talked about it and she gave me her blessing on my goal. She became my biggest fan and source of encouragement.
It sometimes seems that we’re out there all alone on long bike rides or runs so having companions to train with is awesome! Not only does it break up the monotony of the workout but it gives you someone to help you through it. You’re less likely to call it off or cut it short if you have a friend or two with you. A really wise king once wrote that “a cord of three strands is not easily broken”. So even on those days where you bike for half a day and then have to get off that bike and run for an hour, if you have your husband/wife/significant other’s emotional and moral support you know you can attempt to bike another mile or take that next step.
Let’s face it, just looking at the training schedule for an IM tri can be, at times, a bit unnerving. My wife encouraged me and, gently, prodded me along – even if she didn’t know it! She’s the one who had to change her schedule so she could come rescue me after I had taken a wrong turn and realized it twenty miles later and after I had fallen down with my bike for the second time that day. She encouraged me to finish my work out that blisteringly hot day and do the short run that was on the schedule even though my leg was sore and bruised. And she was cheering for me as I hobbled up the driveway when I finished.
Doing a tri may be an individual effort event, but we need help (and someone to tell the rest of the family and friends why you’re not at this get-together either). Find someone that is close to you who will support you and believe in you and remind you that you can do this crazy thing when all you want to do is quit. There will be days when that’s just what you to do!
I Told Others
Sometimes we can say we’re planning to do such-and-such a thing, even to those closest to us, but not really mean it or find a reason to not follow through with it. Well, at least that’s been my experience. But I really wanted to do this IM so not only did I tell my wife, I told everyone I ran with and family members and co-workers and my boss and strangers. It was probably out of place or out of sync with many conversations (even though I’d try to make it relative to the topic) but somehow in the telling of it, it solidified my resolve to pursue the goal.
I signed up for the race
Not only did I have to keep telling people about my plan but I needed to put some money on the line. Have any of you ever seen a money tree? Do you have one growing in your yard? I haven’t and I don’t. My wife has a budget and she would like me to try to stay within the boundaries of this budget. I know how many hours I have to work to be able to pay the bills, so, in my mind, to sign up for a race and not doing it, for any reason short of death or dismemberment (and that’s a maybe) would be the same as throwing that money away. Paying the entry fee (I paid almost a year ahead since it was cheaper with the early bird pricing), increased the determination factor. I was going to do an Ironman!
I Bought A Bike
After I had made my fireside declaration of my bucket list to my family members who were sitting with me at a camp ground, I told another friend about it. I gave him the rundown of what was on my list and that I intended to accomplish it all by the time that I reached 80 years old. On that list was doing triathlons. After he finished shaking his head at me, wondering where his couch potato friend had gone, he walked me out to his barn and gave me his bike to use. He had used it when he did the Shermanator once and was kind enough to loan it to me.
It’s a 1980’s era white Peugeot 10 speed bicycle. It has a friction derailleur and Shimano SPD pedals. It came with aero bars and a Schwinn bike computer! He also let me use his bike shoes (my first experience with clip-in shoes was disastrous! I tell you what, there’s really something to that whole ‘gravity’ thing!) He gave me a bike trainer as well. The bike was a bit too tall but we pumped up the tires and off I went.
Moving the bike from point A to point B, short of riding it (and then what would I do with my car?) required a bike rack. I was able to trade an old lawn mower for a used bike rack. I needed a bike helmet and heard that Borgess Hospital gave them away without charge so I got one. (The hospital still gives them away for free but now it’s only once a year during their “bike rodeo” in June.)
As I said, I was given this bike to use for my first tri and it worked out wonderfully. I used it for subsequent events and just for pleasure riding but had difficulty at times maintaining a gear especially when shifting between gears.
I realized during the bike course on the Olympic distance (2017) of the Tri Del Sol that, while my bike was ok, it was going to need serious upgrade if I wanted to do the IM. I went to the local bike shop in Battle Creek and met with the store owner, Mike. He helped me with information that I needed to consider about either rebuilding the old bike or purchasing a new bike that fit my size. I opted to buy a bike.
I chose NOT to purchase a tri bike but a regular road bike. It was more affordable and I could also use it after I had finished my event. I knew that it was significant to get a proper sized bike as the majority of the race will be spent on the bike course. I’m just an ordinary fellow and, without seeking professional help would not have been able to get a proper ride on my own. So I made the investment to get “sized”. The store has a machine that emulates the feel of various bikes and, while it’s all very subjective, various bike brands and models within brands felt and rode differently. I chose one that I thought felt just right for me. The new bike was awkward to use at first since I was accustomed to my old, larger, bike but we, the bike and I, became acquainted with each other over the winter while riding attached to the trainer.
Stay tuned for the continuation of this post next week....