This past Sunday I participated in the Timberman, an Ironman sanctioned event that is designated as a "half," meaning everything is half of what a full distance Ironman is. Those distances are a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike, capped off by a 13.1 mile run -- if you double those distances that will be how I ruin a perfectly good Sunday in November. But for now I just ruined a perfectly good Sunday this past weekend covering a total of 70.3 miles.
But I didn’t do it alone, once again my fellow Mud Duck, Kurt Wagenbach, AKA The Dieter (for the sake of making sense of our stream of consciousness I’ll spare you the actual way you’re supposed to spell Mud Ducks throughout this article. For the record, it’s Mud DUX!!! And, yes, it’s supposed to look like a ransom note and even though it may wind up in the middle of a sentence you have to use all three exclamation points). Also, John Dunbar made the trip to Lake Winnipesaukee and fared a little better than my fellow Mud Duck and me by getting a podium finish in his age group and taking 22nd overall, so congratulations to him.
I refer to triathlons as "ruining Sundays" much in the same way Mark Twain said "Golf is a good walk spoiled." Yes, the day is long a painful, but the only reason you’re doing it is because it’s fun and, yes, I find the sport of triathlon fun.
Every time I finish one of these events I always have few highlights. Since the day is long and grueling, your head can go to some dark places. When I was about 40 miles into my bike portion I was pleased with my progress. I knew I had been pushing a little hard but felt as though I was leaving enough in the tank to get through the run. Then it happened, a shooting pain in my right calf -- the onset of a cramp? Well, it didn’t turn into a cramp, but I could stop thinking about it for the next half hour. Then I saw it! A sign, literally a sign -- "World’s Worst Parade." Sometimes the only thing you need to keep going is a good laugh and that certainly provided me with one.
For those that do triathlons, you already know that the swim and the bike are precursors to the run. It all comes down to the run; it’s how you end your day and your race. In marathons they say your race starts at mile 20. In full distance Ironman competitions, mile 18 is called the line -- meaning a lot of people seem to have their greatest problems at that point. There’s always some benchmark that you have to push through to finish your race and you have to find creative ways to do it.
Well I was approaching mile 10 in my second lap and I caught up to a gentleman who was doing his first half Ironman, and he was a little overweight. He was more than willing to engage in a little conversation. As we chatted, a lady pushing a baby strolling who was following her athlete (she was not in the race) went whipping past us while shouting words of encouragement, which is a nice thing to do. I made a joke and told him I hate those people in 5k races, they finish five minutes ahead of me while pushing twins! Then he explained how even though he appreciated the positive words as the 20-somethings shot past him all he could hear was "Holy moly is that guy fat." We shared the laugh, and both agreed, what the hell is up with that?