June 13, 2007


Remember when we knew nothing about heart rate training, cadence, lactate threshold and such nonsense? When going for a bike ride meant going out on a bike and riding and feeling good about it? Do you remember those days? Well I don't. I've got no memory of them anymore than I can remember a life beyond TiVo or e-mail.

Since I got quote-unquote serious about this whole triathlon lifestyle crapola, my life has been a series of non-stop measurements. Heart rate this, lactate threshold that, aerobic, anaerobic, VO2 and glycogen stores. Truth be told, I don't even know what a glycogen store is and where I'd even start to find one. Perhaps it's associated with the "nugget" part of the chicken. Or maybe it's actually a store.

I went to www.glycogenstore.com thinking I can probably pick up a few packets (parcels? liters? gaggles?) of glycogen, whatever the heck that may be. But apparently there isn't really a store, despite the name. If there is, they are really bad marketers.

Anyhoo, whatever this glycogen hogwash may be, I'm sure it needs to be measured and monitored and scrutinized. Cause that's what we do in triathlon. We take one step forward, then study it from all angles in all ways to determine if we can take a more efficient step in a more effective way in order to bridge that gap of three feet in one trillionth of a second less than it took us to walk across the previous three feet.

Maybe if we had lighter shoes, or more wind resistant shorts. Perhaps if I lost a little weight and had some plastic surgery to make my body more resemble one of those swanky Cervelo frames. Maybe that'll help.

After all, over the course of 140.6 miles, that one trillionth of a second adds up to....ummm..... a bunch of one trillionths of a second. And maybe that's the difference between finishing in 1028th place and 1029th.

In the realm of things, apparently that's really really important to people like me. Though when I write it down like this, I can't quite figure out a reason why. In fact, it makes me feel like a bit of a boob.

I suppose it's about control and structure when you break it down to it's barest bones. It appears that all of this gobble-dee-gook adds more structure to an already highly structured environment. I'll admit, I like a good solid structure as much as the next guy. You can't crucify me for that.

But there comes a time in one's life when enoughs enough. When even though the rash has finally healed, you still can't bare to click that strap around your chest one more time. When you start your bike ride to notice that the heart rate number doesn't show up on your trusty watch and you suddenly realize that you really don't give a shit.

There comes a point when you realize that you are such a slave to your training numbers that it's gotten out of control. And one day down the road you just end up flipping out at a restaurant when a friend casually asks you to calculate the dinner check and the only thing you can do is to start rocking in your chair and mumbling heart rate zones, lactate threshold levels, VO2 max peaks, watt outputs, cadence averages and max zones until everybody else at the table is staring at you in bewilderment, mouths agape. Maybe shortly after that evening you'll realize that your friends don't really want to hang out with you much anymore. Whenever you call, they're busy. But that's ok, because you're too swamped with your training schedule anyway. Your doing your best to manage your Obsessive Compulsive Training Disorder.

So maybe you'll catch up with them again next week. Or maybe after the next race. Or the next season. Or the next Ironman.

Maybe I should take up a different sport.


Bill said...

Ahhh. A different sport.

Golf - "The Spling 3 Wood is 1 trillionth of an ounce lighter than last year's model. Tests show an average of 3/4" longer drive."

Tennis - "The Spling racket is now made of high-tensile carbon fiber embedded with rubber eraser bits. Average serve speeds (into the net) have jumped from 89.33 mph to 89.69 mph."

Fencing - "The Spling foil is now 1/3 lighter than last year's model, rendering it invisible to the human eye. Tests show that it actually makes contact, although no one can confirm it."

Changes sports, but it'll never change.


hak said...

I don't know if women get as obsessive as we men do when it comes to our sports/hobbies. No matter what it is, bass fishing, bowling, tennis, Ironman, or lawn darts, we will analyze it to the nth degree. For Pete's sake, look at what most men turn cutting grass into.

"Ya-op. Dat dere's the John Deer hex-a-cut system on my mower. Self-sharpening blades with 500hp of grass-slaughtering fury."

As a recovering techno-geek, I'm trying to take a more Amish perspective to most of my non-work life. It's difficult and I'm not always successful.

The turning point for me was when I went shooting with a friend of mine a few years ago. He could tell you anything and everything about bullet trajectory, different powder loads, etc. He just couldn't hit the broad side of the barn from the inside.

Focus on what will get you the most bang for the buck. I'm still trying to figure that out for triathlon...although it's fun to succumb to the dark side of pole-vaulting mouse turds from time to time.


Robin said...

Funny! I just blogged about this from the flipside: http://ironmom.blogspot.com/2007/06/meet-coach-joy.html

Maybe Hak is right and us women just don't obsess about this to the same nth degree that you guys do...

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

ohmygod, know exactly how that feels. The world is a scary place, full of unknowns and unpredictables. You can't control it, but at least you can boil it down to a formula which, if you keep entering in all the new values for the different numbers every day, you know how it is, you at least feel like you have control over the world. Which is what we're all looking for, isn't it? But then again, I don't think that Impulsive Training Disorder is any more sever than hiding behind a "family", "career", or "Connecticut's giant pumpkin champion for 2007". It's just that triathlon is a lot harder to hide, or justify than the others. But that's why we keep coming back isn't it? Because the way we feel afterwards is a hell of a lot better than knowing you grew a 600lb pumpkin...

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

PS just read the other comments... Women DEFINITELY get into it too. For a good example, see the extremes Natascha Badmann has gone to, putting her drinking system INSIDE the frame of her bike for more aerodynamics. Triathletes are just sick...