From everything that I've read, transitions can trip up even the most experienced triathlete. Somehow, you have to swap out your gear from each sport at the transitions and get the next set of muscles ready for what's coming up. A lot of the equipment that is available to triathletes now, is designed to make transitions smoother and some of the gear is even multi-functional. I won't get into that here, as I really don't know much about it-not yet anyway-but moving muscles from one sport to another is definitely something I can work on. Today, I did just that.
Judging by the break down of the times of the blind and visually impaired women's results at the World Championships held in Beijing in September of 2011, transitions may make or break the race. The woman who won the race completed her transitions in less than a minute, whereas, the women who took second and third, respectively, had transitions times that sometimes neared the two minute mark. Every little bit of time you can save, will make a difference. Of course there is the question of whether the woman who won was low vision as opposed to totally blind because that vision difference will inevitably make a difference, but competing against someone who can see more than I can is not something I can control. Preparing my body to handle transitions the best that it can, is definitely within my control. So, that is whatI will focus on.
Yesterday, an email was sent out to the Won With One group from the Development coach, outlining benchmarks that we should be thinking about in the next couple of weeks. As I suspected, my swimming distance is fine, if not a bit slow, but I was surprised to find that my running was slightly ahead of where it needs to be right now. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since the run portion of the race is what I've been focusing on in the last two months. My cycling is right around where it should be, but could use a bit more work. I figured working on a transition from the bike to a run, focusing on some of the times/distances that were outline for us would be a good place to start today.
Upon arriving at the gym, and having Glacier taken off to be "puppy sat" in the office, I hopped on to an upright bike. My goal was to try to reach as close to the 8 K mark as possible in fifteen minutes. I haven't really been focusing on cycling and so I wasn't expecting anything too impressive. The first five minutes were a bit of a struggle, but I soon settled into a good rhythm. When I've cycled in the past, my quads have given me the most grief, burning and complaining the longer I was on the bike. Today though, my quads didn't really burn, but I fought to keep control of my breathing the whole time. I think the weird flu/cold/plague thing I had hasn't quite relinquished its hold. At the fifteen minute mark, I had cycled 7.40 kilometres and I hopped off and moved as quickly as I could over to the treadmills. I was very happy with that result. I know I definitely have work to do, but it is a good reference point for future training sessions.
My goal on the treadmill was to run at a quicker pace than is comfortable and hang on for two kilometres. I've gotten really good at slipping into a comfortable pace and staying there for five K or so, but today I wanted it to be uncomfortable. After the cycle, I figured that it wouldn't take much to push me over the edge. I was right about that, but what surprised me was how well my legs held up.
The personal trainer I worked with today was someone I haven't worked with before and although I told him the speed I wanted the treadmill at, he suggested bumping it up a half kilometre than I had requested. That sort of thing can be a pro and a con when you are blind and a captive audience to your personal trainer. I decided he could be on to something and let him move the treadmill up faster than I thought originally would be a good pace. Today was my day to make things uncomfortable right?
I thought that after getting off the bike, having gone almost 8 K, and then immediately hitting the treadmill, my legs would give out. There wasn't even a hint of burning or fatiguing. Perhaps my legs are stronger than I thought. My breathing was difficult to control though and I often found myself singing the "alphabet Song" in my head to refocus my attention. It was a trick a swim coach told me to try once.
We had been working hard, pushing through a tough kick set and all I wanted to do was throw my kickboard at him and get out of the water. I remember my thighs had gone numb and my throat had rasped with the effort to breathe. We were almost done and I'm sure he could see the fatigue on my face. He told me to hang in there and to sing "The Alphabet Song" in my head when the pain got really bad. I did, and was amazed at how it worked. Making yourself think methodically, changes your thought pattern and makes some really hard sets doable. I've never forgot that and it shocked me when I automatically started singing "A, B, C D," Etc, in my head, while trying to ignore the stitch in my left side.
The singing must have worked because I made it through, despite the run feeling as if it was out of control. It wasn't so much so that I completely fell off the wagon, but breathing was not fluid and my foot falls were becoming quite heavy the closer I got to two kilometres. I finished the run in just over 12.5 minutes and I am more than happy with that result. The personal trainer also told me that I had my heart rate up to 174 towards the end of the run, which would explain my lungs feeling like they wanted to burst. Not every practice needs to be like today's, pushing yourself hard and out of your comfort zone, but you also don't get faster if you do only what is comfortable.
I finished the day's workout with a session on the Gravity Pull-down machine, which the trainer decided to increase the resistance on. He said something about me being a strong swimmer.
I haven't been a strong swimmer in three years! Oh well. I really enjoyed working with him and really appreciated him pushing me that little bit further. I can see working with him in the future is going to be very beneficial.
It's nice to work hard, and to know you've worked hard, but that even though it was a bit shaky, you still accomplished your goals. It's also nice to know that someone else sees that potential in you and gently encourages you to dig even deeper.