My 40th birthday was on 8/14, so I took up the Bfit Birthday Gold Challenge over the weekend. Swim the first number of your age, bike the combined number, and run the last number (10 miles if it ends in a 0 – good for me) within 24 hours.
Since we all know that endurance sports offer great metaphors for life, what did I learn by going 54 miles for my 40th birthday? I'll get to that in a minute. First, the workout.....
I had absolutely no desire to swim 4 miles straight through, so I kicked things off with a 2.4 mile pool swim on Friday night. Putting things in perspective, swimming 2.4 miles in the ironman was a blast. Surrounded by 2000 type A's all headed torward the same spot in the ocean.....helicopters overhead....huge crowds cheering for us.....
In comparison, swimming 2.4 miles in the pool was REALLY boring...and my nose and sinuses got stuffy from the pool water.
Screw the swimmers mile. I split the swim up into 2x2100, taking a couple of minutes in between to sip some water, plus an extra 25 at the end for 4225. Total time was 1:33 - about the same time as my IM swim.
The next morning I was up at 5, drank my usual pre-workout Boost +, and sipped on some coffee on the way to St. Augustine. A lot of the hammerheads are training for summer and fall IMs, including IM Lou, IM Moo, and Kona, and Al – one of the hammerheads training for IM Moo - graciously hosted a group workout for us at his waterfront condo.
We gathered at Al’s at 7, and jumped in the water for an open water swim at around 7:30. His condo is right on the inlet in St Augustine, so he planned the workout for us to be swimming as the tide was coming in, so we would have nice clean water to swim in. From the end of his dock to a sandbar and back was .8 of a mile, and the plan was for everyone to do two laps.
My nose and sinuses were still stuffy from the night before, and the warm salt water just made things worse, so I bagged it after one lap. I had no desire to keep putting my face back in the salt water, just to aggravate my sinuses more, so I waited on the dock with a couple others who didn’t go back for a 2nd lap. Swim time of 38 minutes.
T1 was in Al’s pool on the way back up to his condo :)
After a few minutes for everyone to change, we hit the bikes. After 20 miles, the group split, with those training for later races going for another 20 before turning around, and those tapering for upcoming races turning around with me to get in 40. The ride was pretty uneventful, other than a pretty good headwind on the way back.
Total ride time was 2:09
A few minutes to change and it was time to get our run on.
We started as a group at a pretty easy pace, which would have been easy to maintain in cooler weather; however, this is Florida and we started running at 11. After 3 miles or so the rest of the group turned back, and I was left with a couple more miles out before turning around. The good news – I got to run on the beach, my favorite running spot. The bad news – it was in the high 80’s low 90’s and steamy.
My slow pace quickly changed to a 4/1: run 4 minutes, walk one, which I kept up for the next 7 miles. Even that became challenging over the last couple of miles. But that’s the point, isn’t it? Why bother doing it if it’s easy?
Total time for the run was 1:50, a rather pedestrian pace, although that’s what I get for so doing so little training the past few weeks.
After finishing the run it was back into the pool for a quick dip to cool off and time to enjoy a couple of beers, burgers and brats that Al so thoughtfully provided for all. Lori and Elle came down to join us for our post workout festivities, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.
One slight problem – since I only did one lap in the inlet that morning, I still had another .8 of a mile of swimming to do. Ugggghhhhhhh. For those of you that have been reading my blog, you already know my thoughts on swimming. Oh well…..thanks to Al and the rest of the hammerheads for the great workout, company, food and beer…..I’m headed back to the pool
Another 1425 yds in 33 minutes and I was done:
Swim 4 miles, bike 40 miles, run 10 miles, brag for the rest of…..Oops….wrong tag line…..I’ll, save that for IM CDA next June….
Total time: 6:41:56.
So what did I learn from this silly way of celebrating my birthday?
1. I’ve come a really long way when it comes to swimming. Two years ago I couldn’t swim 100 yds without stopping. The last few months I’ve swam once a week for 2000 yds or so at the absolute most. For me to swim 2.4 miles (4 total) with so little training is huge.
1a. Whether I swim 3-4k three times / week or swim 2k one time / week, my times are about the same. I'd have to swim 5-6 times per week to improve, and even then I'd probably only gain 10-15 minutes. I'll stick to focusing on biking an running.
2. I’m still are REALLY bad swimmer. Everything’s relative :)
3. Group rides are always better than riding solo. For the next few months I want to do a lot more group riding on the weekends instead of doing intervals on my own.
4. I can run 10 miles without too much of a problem on a whim.
5. Don’t run 10 miles on a whim in the middle of the day when it’s too f*&$ing hot out.
6. If I do run on a whim in the middle of the day when it’s too f*&$ing hot out, I’ll very quickly remember that I’m 40 and take a while to recover. I was completely wrecked after the run.
7. I hate swimming.
8. I finish what I start. Period. It would have been very easy to hang around Al’s and enjoy the good company, and good food, and really good beer, and bail on the rest of the swim, turning the gold challenge into the bronze or silver challenge by stretching things out over a few days or even a week. But that’s not what I committed to. Why bother doing it if it's easy.
9. My health and fitness are 100 times better than they were when I celebrated my 20th birthday.
10. I have some great friends who see fitness as a lifestyle, and not something they have to do on occassion.
11. Finally, and most importantly, I have a very supportive wife who loves me - and of course who I love. And what could be better than that?