January 30 2012
Many of my friends in the 45-55 age group have been making an effort to eat better and exercise more. Someone was asking me why I thought there was this apparent trend, and my answer to that was immediate – cancer seems to be everywhere, and is hitting our circles of friends and acquaintances very hard. Seriously, the list of women I know who haven't dealt with some type of cancer is short. Breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer, melanoma…and then there are the uterine issues, and the menopausal cycles, and the divorces. Once the emotional and physical dust of these life-changing situations has settled, there seems to be a re-commitment to good health that can only be a good thing, and an even better thing if you can just sustain the momentum. And sometimes to sustain the momentum, you have to be nuts.So, one crazy day this fall – the planets must have been in some kind of funkadelic alignment, because I know there was no alcohol involved at the time – a few of us decided to sign up for the mini-sprint portion of the Tri-Goddess. The Tri-Goddess is an all-female triathlon in the Waterloo Recreation Area, organized by Epic Racing. The mini-sprint event is designed for first-time triathletes – ¼ swim, 11 mile bike, 1.5 mile run.We paid the money, and then we actually TOLD people we were doing it, so we’re stuck now.
Depending on the course, I wasn’t too worried about the biking (I am sure I will regret saying that too). But I haven’t run since high school. And I had no idea how far a ¼ swim was. And you have to do all of these, one right after the other, without crying. OK, maybe that is just my rule.
So, my friends and I made one very simple main goal, and a few sub-goals. The main goal was just to finish the event – “I’m a triathlete, baby!” The sub-goals included finishing without walking (or crying)(or drowning), and that spawned “finishing without being last,” “finishing without being too embarrassed about our times,” and “finishing without sustaining catastrophic injury.” Then we added a few of our own rules about attire , etc. (“I am not spending $200 on a tri-suit” and “Can we wear pants for the swim? Because I am NOT wearing a swimsuit in front of all those people” and “If I have to pee, I’m stopping, darn it”)(no, we didn't really say "darn it." Feel free to be creative there).
And then we threw ourselves into training, with a side of pain. I go to the fitness center at Michigan Rehab Specialists in Hamburg - so when I wrap myself around the treadmill ala the Jetsons, I don’t have to go far to the doctor and the physical therapist. You can’t beat that for convenience! So I worked with one of the trainers there - you know the type, all chipper exterior hiding the black soul of Darth Vader - on a training routine, and added swimming on Tuesdays at Pinckney’s Pathfinder pool.
Ouch. The good news was that I can, indeed, swim ¼ mile. Slowly. The bad news was that when I started in early November, I could barely run a mile without walking and it took me a good 20 minutes to do that. The solution from Darth? Intervals. It should be a 4-letter word, and the really sick sick thing is that I actually...kinda...like them. A 4-minute warm-up - I started at 4 mph - then faster for a minute and back down for a minute (to “rest” LOL), rinse and repeat until you hit 20 minutes. It was horrible (more on middle-age pain later), but with the change of pace every minute, it was hard to get bored. Plus, it’s important to maintain an interest...in breathing. But score one for the Dark Side, my “resting pace” is now almost 5 mph and I can run a 12 minute mile if I have to, as long as I think about ice cream while listening to The Cult. You gotta do what you gotta do, right?