June 19, 2007

Like Butta

As Ironman's go, Ironman Arizona is supposed to be a pretty flat course. I believe the total elevation gain on the bike is somewhere around about 3000 ft which, if my legs remember correctly, is just about equal to the elevation gain between the swim and T1 at the Lake Placid suffer-fest.

Of course maybe I'm exaggerating a little. But just a little. Let's put it another way - if Lake Placid is Dolly Parton, Ironman Arizona is Gwyneth Paltrow. Capiche?

With all that flatness, I'm guessing there will be a lot of opportunity for clocking in some quality aero bar usage during the 112 miles of Arizona wasteland.

During Lake Placid, I wasn't hunkered down in my aero position for much time at all, primarily for a couple of reasons. First, there was so much climbing and hill rolling that aerodynamics weren't as much of a concern as, say, trying not to lie down on the side of the road and cry. But we already established that the course had many hills what with our misogynistic boobies analogy above. Secondly, my back starts to really hurt after spending too much time in the aero position.

No, no... you don't undertand. It REEEEEEA-LLLLLLLY hurts. Rambo knife dipped in acid, coated with salt, thrust into my back and twisted around. That's the type of hurt I'm talkin' about.

There's something about the aero position that I'm clearly doing wrong. But before you jump down my throat about bike fit this and top tube that, I don't think it's completely related to my riding form. I've been fit. I'm fit. I'm like a hot knife through butta. Instead, I blame my pain on Star Wars. It's George Lucas' fault.

Let me try to explain this one without completely embarrassing myself...

Since I signed up for Ironman Arizona all of nine days ago, I've been very focused in my training.
More specifically, I've been trying to overcome my aero position problems.

In true OCTD form, I realize that the only way I'm going to shave two seconds off my Ironman time, is to be a strong, fit individual who can stay crunched up for hours like an aerodynamic prisoner of war, crammed into "the box" (no, boss, not "the box"! anything but "the box" boss. anything but "the box"!) .

[Sorry about that... I sometimes randomly break into scenes from Cool Hand Luke. It's a problem I have. I clearly haven't taken my medication yet today... Better keep me away from the eggs.]

[Sorry about that again... if you haven't ever seen the movie, Cool Hand Luke, you probably don't get the egg reference. Which is fine. So I am most likely coming across as a wacko right now. You know what, maybe you should watch Cool Hand Luke. It's a long movie, but pretty good. Paul Newman at his finest. Maybe then these comments won't seem so random. Alright..I'll shut up about now....where was I.....? Aero position. We're talking about aero position. Arizona, strengthen my body... yes, that's it, ]

I really need to strengthen my body and train myself to remain in the aero position for extended periods of time. Catherine can do it. She's got this uncanny ability to stay locked in the aero position for what seems like hours. The thing is, her bike doesn't even fit her. Seriously, how crazy is that?

As if that's not enough, her body doesn't seem to fit her either - she lives her life in pain. She can't even sit on my couch for more than 15 minutes without feeling as if her spine just de-columned, and if you ask me, I've got a really comfortable couch. Yet somehow she can remain crunched over in a too-big-for-her-britches bike for hours at a time. If she could do it in that state, it would only seem logical that I could stay down there for ten minutes without needing paramedics to help me stand again.

On top of all that, I've got these really neat, far-too-pricey handle bars that I purchased last year and really want to use more effectively. At this point, the aero bars sit there practically unused. I stare at them every ride like they're a cute little Labrador puppy that I refuse to play with. But I don't like ignoring puppies. I like puppies. Especially when they're sitting there staring right back at me for hours on end with their big googly eyes begging me to play.

I'm a sucker for big googly puppy eyes, so I'm trying my damndest to spend more time in the aero bars lately, trying to play with the proverbial puppy.

While I'm down there with nothing to do, I try to analyze my body to figure out what I'm doing wrong. Again with the Obsessive Controlling Triathlon Disorder, I've shifted every part of my body every which way to see if it helps. Maybe if I slide my left butt cheek one millimeter that-a-way, scrunch my right cheek two millimeters this-a-way, and stick my tongue out at precisely a 32 degree angle for 30 second repeats, then just by chance perhaps the aero position won't hurt my back so much.

No such luck. After numerous configurations and more chafing than I really needed, I gave up on the body shifting. Pedal stroke, I thought. Let me look at my pedal stroke. Maybe that's the answer.

One thing I've realized over the past nine days is that my legs get really tired when I'm tucked in aero position. When my legs get tired, my pedal stroke is usually inefficient. When my pedal stroke is inefficient, I start pushing with my back. When I push with my back, it starts hurting a lot. So, if we apply the Transitive Property of Triathlon to this little scenario, we can deduce the following: if the legs get tired, the back hurts.

Fix the legs, fix the back.
Save the cheerleader, save the world.

Easy peasy, eh?
That's what I thought.

As I said a couple paragraphs yonder, I've been focusing on keeping an efficient pedal stroke while in the aero position, thinking that perhaps that'll keep the legs from tiring out so quickly. Again, no such luck. After all of about 5 minutes, my legs are so tired I can't pedal anymore. So I sit up in the saddle, drink some of my highly-secretive energy potion, toss out a few swear words and give up in frustration.

Amidst all that frustration, I realized that my pedal stroke is just about the same when I'm in the aero bars as when I'm not. Hmmm.... so why, pray tell, does it tire me out so quickly when I'm tucked over?

If I can figure out what's happening with the legs and how to keep them fresh, maybe I can stay aerodynamic through IMAZ. And maybe I can cut a few seconds off my bike time, and maybe that will skyrocket me up from the 59th percentile of finishers to the 58th. Middle of the pack to middler of the pack.

Believe it or not, in my never ending biking analysis, I actually figured it all out. I've figured out why my legs get so tired so quickly when I'm in aero position. As I mentioned before, it's because of Star Wars.

You see, I've got these really neat aero bars that I love and that look so cool. And when I drop down in them, I can't help but feel so incredibly aerodynamic. I feel fast and agile and unbeatable. I feel just like a Jedi fighter.

Yes, a Jedi.
Jedi J. That's me. Saving the world from the Dark Side.

Don't tell anyone, but sometimes when I'm down there flying through the streets in my aero bars and nobody else is around, I'll even make those cool Jedi laser blaster shooting sounds as I'm rounding corners (peuw!.....peuwpeuw!....peuw!peuw!peuw!).

So, being how the future of all things good relies on my success as a Jedi, I tend to move faster and push harder whenever I get into aero position. Therein lies the problem. This is why my legs tire out. When I go aero, I subconsciously push and push until I'm too pooped to pop. The thing is, I never realized I was doing this. I suppose the Force was with me.

So a couple of days ago I tried to get in the aero bars and roll along slowly, but that didn't seem to work too well. First of all, it is so ingrained in my mind and body to push, that I don't even know how to go slow and steady when I'm down there. Second of all, Jedi fighters don't go slow when we're in the heat of battle. That just looks stupid.

Perhaps in the days to come I will overcome the dark side. Maybe the force is with me after all and I'll get over this hump. Maybe the force will strengthen my bike rides and perhaps if I can find that little hairy sum-o-bitch, Yoda, maybe he can give me some pedaling tips.

After all, there's only 10 months until Arizona. Gotta get movin'.

2 comments:

Trihardist said...

Is that a transvestite Dolly Parton impersonator?

No Wetsuit Girl... overseas! said...

Do you think maybe it's a flexibility thing? You're one bad-ass jedi rider with legs of steel, but is it more likely that your girlfriend has the spinal erectors of gumby (a not-so-badass analogy)?

I'm amazed at the fact that you're able to objectively analyze your biking position. I always just blame it on everyone and everything else being out to get me.