Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Turtle

My coworker took these pictures of Geoff making the transition from foot to bike - that smirk on Geoff's face is his reaction to all the cheering he received because he was the first runner in. I got my triathlon results today. I jogged the 5K in 31 minutes (I expected as much.) I climbed the 7.5K mountain bike leg in 29 minutes (at least that time was in the top half of all competitors, which I think is not bad for racing at my "commuter" speed), and finished the 5K ski in a dismal 41 minutes. There was only one guy in the entire race that skied slower. Judging by the amount of time I spent on the ground, I'm guessing that guy broke something.

This winter has been my first experiment with regimented exercise - training if you will - and I am definitely learning something about my physical inclinations. Geoff has been blessed with the enviable talent of both speed and endless endurance. I, unfortunately, will never have speed. But I do believe that endurance is within my grasp.

See, I lack the two most important qualities for speed - the muscular makeup to achieve it, and the competitive drive to work for it. In all honesty, I raced a sprint triathlon at the same speed I would have if I was running a course five times as long. I waved at runners as the blew by me and made self-depreciating comments to the skiers who stepped over me on the trail. Even without taking the race seriously, my "go-get-em" drive was seriously lacking.

And this is the exact reason why I believe I could be so good at endurance. My body finds this physical threshold of long-term comfort, and it holds me there. There isn't a competitive synapse or hormone burst in me that's willing to break it, risk it for something better. And I could just continue at this level for - well - I'm not even sure how long. I remained at this level for most of the 24 hours it took me to do the Susitna 100. I didn't experience any discomfort beyond general sleeplessness and soggy chill, and my muscles recovered very quickly after the race. As it turns out, my "Sea to Ski" experience was somewhat similar.

I am a turtle. A spectacularly slow turtle. But I do believe that, with the will to do it, I could use my turtle powers to finish just about any distance, within a time that's considered reasonable, and have a great time doing it. All I need to do is work to increase my comfort threshold - for example, adding miles per hour to the the speed I can comfortably bike at. If I can do it for one hour, I can do it for 24. I'm not saying I'm certain of this. But I do hope to test this theory further as the summer season approaches.