I have always been one to, for better or worse, swing for the fences in life. And so it was, in a fit of delirium after my smashing success at the Miami Marathon back in January, that I somehow thought I would be up for doing a half ironman triathlon in May, followed by a full one in September.
But oh, was I ever in for a wake up call yesterday. I had somehow thought that a half ironman would be just a little more work than doing a full marathon, and that the endurance capacity I had acquired from hiking and running would translate well into swimming and biking skills, despite my near total lack of training in those two disciplines.
Needless to say, the fact that my last competitive swim race was when I was ten at the Ridgewood 5th Grade Olympics and the fact that I have never before done a competitive bike race showed through. Especially since, despite it being only a half ironman, all of the other competitors seemed orders of magnitude more serious than the far more democratic and diverse crowd that I saw at both the Miami and Vienna marathons earlier this year. Still, I got through the 1.2 mile swim and the 56 mile bike ride okay. The bike ride in particular took me along the Danube, through the beautiful Wachau wine country in Lower Austria, and then up and over a scenic if strenuous climb back to the city of St. Pölten.
Unfortunately, history has a way of repeating itself. And once again, just like in Linz, I somehow made a wrong turn during the early stages of the half marathon run, and ended up at the finish line after all of about a mile. Oops. I have no idea how this happened, as I followed what was very clearly a path intended for runners out of the changing tent after the bike ride. I suppose I could have retraced my steps and gone back and tried to find where I went wrong, but that probably would have thrown off the timer. In any case, I was getting hot in the sun, and had felt (after having done one of the longest swims of my life and easily the longest bike ride of my life) that I had accomplished enough for one day.
Most importantly, though, yesterday was clearly a much-needed wake up call if I have any illusions about competing at the Ironman I have signed up for in England on September 8. I can't promise anything right now- three and a half months might just be too little with everything else I have going on- but I do certainly want to up my training, especially now that I have a racing bike of my own. Also, a friend of mine here in Vienna has a cousin who is of all thing specifically a triathlon coach, so I'll be giving him a call too.
All in all, it was clearly a learning experience and despite everything, a good time. And while my first triathlon will be remembered primarily for my foibles, it certainly stoked my desire to keep at it. I'll do an ironman one day, you can mark my words. With luck and a lot of training, maybe even on September 8.