Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Challenge accepted" or "How I came to respect short-course"

Before my race report, let me first start with a big shout-out to Sugoi.  For the second straight year, I'm a sponsored Sugoi Brand Champion.  For anyone who trains with Sugoi stuff, you know why this is so cool.

Now the race report.  

For the first time after a race, my body is begging for a nap.  Pleading, in fact.

Today I did my first short-course Triathlon (700m swim, ~20km bike, 5km run).  Sounds simple, right?  After all, I've competed in a few Olympic, many Half-Ironman, and a full Ironman distance event.  This race is sooo short by comparison.  Well, today I learned why I tend toward long-course:  I'm a big sissy.

To use a graphic example:  The pain of Triathlon is akin to being cut slowly by a dagger, depending on race distance.  The shorter the distance, the deeper the dagger but shorter the wound.  The goal is to survive to the finish before you bleed out.  Short-course is a deep excruciating stab and some sawing, but it's over quick whereas long-distance is a bit duller pain for a much longer time.

And as it turns out, I've become accustomed to less pain sustained over a long duration.  Whereas today, it was deep pain but it was over quick.

Today's challenge was to see how willing I was to go down into the pain cave and "embrace the suck" and then try and hang on.  Turns out I need need to toughen up.

I think I had a good first race at this distance.  I came into it with ok fitness but with physical wrath from a new sport I'm trying (Tennis).  The tennis the day before certainly messed with my swim and aspects of my bike & run.  Still, my output was ok.

Mentally, coming from long-course to short-course it's a totally different learned behaviour.  In long-course it's about conserving energy, being efficient, and slowly executing your strategy.  There's lots of time to think through that strategy.  I have always raced this way.

For short-course, every leg is over quite quickly.  There's no room for in-race strategy.  It's "run:  go hard.  bike:  go hard.  run:  go hard and survive".  So in-race strategy becomes in-race tactics:  "In how much pain am I?", "Who's ahead of me and what do I need to do RIGHT NOW to catch them and break them".  It's a game of hurt:  put deep & harsh hurt into others while you survive your own.

I've never played this kind of game in Triathlon before.  I'm really excited for this new challenge.

One last analogy for those who like analogies.  Short-course Triathlon is like waging battle.  Long-course Triathlon is like waging war.

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