Thursday, June 6, 2013

At The Crossroads

This started off as one of my standard event reports for the recent California Classic Weekend but things have been swirling around in my head...

The century ride was fun. Aid stations every fifteen miles really helped. I had plenty of nutrition on my own but my feet and butt needed a break. While my fit is much improved, I need a new saddle to get me through rides of much more than two hours. I'm eyeing the Selle SMP Pro but we'll see. I also need to fix my numb feet. I thought loosening my shoes would be the answer but, clearly, that is not the case. I do have an idea regarding insoles, though, so we'll see if that helps. As far as riding went, I was pleased. I had to save something for the run the next day but I did okay. I was especially pleased with my performance up "the hill": three miles averaging 9%. I didn't fly up but I didn't stop or walk and was able to get out of the saddle when I wanted to. Very nice. My goal for next time is to have the fastest time on Strava for that very fun downhill on the ride. It's possible.

The half-marathon the next day was kinda tough. I wasn't in as good running shape as I was two years ago so that wasn't a surprise. What was really tough was my heel getting sore around ten miles in. It wasn't so painful that I had to stop but I could tell that I am not going to be able to do a marathon unless I get this problem fixed. That will likely mean surgery. I'm really not in a position to even consider that right now.

What has my brain swirling was triggered by what happened at the end of the ride. While it wasn't what you'd call a bunch sprint, a bunch of us were trying to cross the finish line first. What happened was that I did...fairly easily. At 50 years of age, I don't think that's supposed to happen. It got me thinking about track cycling again. Do I really want to keep heading down this triathlon path when I don't like the swim training and I have a physical problem that is keeping me from running a full marathon? When there is this other sport, track cycling, which I am much better suited for physically, and where, for the first time in my life, someone commented that I may have a talent for it?

The last time I tried track cycling I had to stop for a couple of reasons. First was a bad IT Band problem that I developed after only two sessions, likely due to bad (rental) bike fit. The second was that I needed to work on basic track-specific skills like pacelines (much tighter than on the road), track stands, etc. before tackling group workouts and races. Then two months later was my accident.

I took another look at the Home Depot Center Velodrome and they seem to have a much more structured way of progressing from beginner, as opposed to the "jump in the deep end" approach at Encino. I'm thinking that using the money I would have spent on my planned iron-distance triathlon, or even the half, would be better spent at the track. I will likely find out in fairly short order whether I have a knack for it or not.

So now I find myself at a crossroads:

  • Off in the distance is the goal of doing an Ironman. It was never a "bucket list" thing or life-long dream. It was just something I thought would be an adventure. It's now looking like it's not going to happen in the foreseeable future.
  • Over there in August is the Hansen Dam Triathlon, which I have already signed up for. No getting out of starting swimming workouts soon, I'm afraid. It's just a sprint so it should be fun. I'm thinking that one of that or the IronBruin or the Merced Gateway will be my only triathlon I do in a season.
  • The velodrome is what I am really looking forward to now. The speed! The newness! The tighter jeans as my thighs get bigger! Yes, even at 50 I can still put on quite a bit of muscle. I know because I was doing it before my accident.
  • Finally, road cycling. Even if I went crazy with the track cycling, I would still need to bike on the road and, more importantly, I really want to keep riding on the road. It was the part of triathlon training that I always liked the most. Riding to work, longer rides on the weekend, centuries and whatnot. I really like it.
Hey, as long as I'm active, getting fit, and having fun, I'll be happy. It just looks like the focus won't be on triathlon like it has been for the past few years.

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