Saturday, December 19, 2009
I think I have been very lucky when it comes to making good friends over the years. I still have a number of friends that I hung out and played sports with during high school that still come over to the house to kick back and talk about the glory days. I have a few friends from my college days but they have all moved out of state so we are friends by e-mail and phone at holidays. I have a number of friends from the work place but when you take the work place out of the equation most of those friends become previous co-workers.
I look at the people I am still friends with and realize we still get together because we share a common bond. In most cases the common bond is the experiences we have shared that have helped us become friends.
In the last year and a half I have made a new group of friends. Mark, Adam and Manuel are all my fellow triathletes and training partners. I first met Manuel during a masters swim just before his first triathlon and just before my second. I met Mark and Adam a few months later on a group ride and recognized both of them from the local YMCA. We were all new to the sport, only being part of one or two evens and our participation in triathlon brought us together and created that common bond.
The common bond of triathlon is the sharing of many different experiences. I could give you enough examples to keep you reading this all day long but I will stick to a few that stand out in my mind.
Last year we followed a training program to get us ready for a Half Iron Man and spent a lot of time training together. One particular day the four of us got together to compete in a homemade duathlon. We could have done an organized event that day but we didn't feel like forking out the dough because the cost of these events really adds up, so Mark put together a 2 mile run/ 10 mile bike/ 1 mile run/ 10 mile bike/ 2 mile run course around his house. I am hoping we make it a yearly event. We could give it a name like Duo De West Side. All of showed up at Mark's house around 7:00 and started our race by 8:00. We all finished at different time not to far apart and all agreed that we had a blast just doing our own thing that morning.
A few months later I was in the middle of a slow day at work and I got a call from Mark asking me to go for a 1.2 mile swim in Canandaigua lake. I am sure this is something most people would not take time out of their day to but for us it was a real treat. Mark, Manuel and I met up around 12:00 to drive down to the lake together. I am pretty sure most people at 12:00 on a work day are thinking about what they are going to eat for lunch. I had a quick cliff bar and an apple and changed into my swim gear on the drive down to the lake. This was my first 1.2 mile open water swim. I didn't have any doubts about being able to do it but it was a great confidence booster for the three of us because now we knew we could cruise through the swim during the Mussle Man with out being to tired to do the rest of the race. We felt so good we did an extra half mile before we left.
The last thing I will bring up is the Mussle Man Half Iron Man we finished last year. Just in case you don't know the distances of each leg, the swim is 1.2 miles, the bike is 56 miles and the run is 13.1 miles for a grand total of 70.3 miles. Most people that I tell about this tell me I am crazy or just don't understand why we would want to put our selves through this. I have a couple of answers for you but I will save them for another time. For me personally the race was the hardest thing I have ever done. The swim wasn't all that bad but the 3 flat tires I got during the bike leg tried my patients a bit and added about 40 minutes to the bike leg. The run was mentally the toughest. Everyone I talked to said you can't train enough for the run. I found that out first hand as soon as I started to run on my spaghetti like legs. I normally pace around 8 minute miles for a 13 mile run but this day I paced at about 10 minute miles. By mile 7 my legs were cramping up badly and my ankles were screaming at me to stop. Just then I saw a green visor on someones head about a half a mile up the road from me and I hoped it was Manuel. I had been trying to catch him ever since mile 22 of the bike ride when he gave me one of his air cartridges to fill up my first of three flat tires. Sure enough it was him. We were both mentally at the end of the road and the timing couldn't have been better for either one of us. We mashed out the last 5 miles together. We would push each other hard to each fuel station where we would eat and drink what ever they had for us as we passed through. After we crossed the finish line we all shared the same sense of accomplishment, pain and the thoughts of WOW that was tough. I need to train harder and smarter next year.
The Mussle Man is my favorite memory to date but I know the best is yet to come. We have all just started training for a full Iron Man (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run for a grand total of 140.6 miles). I am know we will spend a lot of time together this year and hope to make more new friends this year as the sport continues to grow.
The point I am hoping to make is that making new friends is just one of the great benefits that sport of triathlon has to offer. I could list a bunch of benefits but I will save that for another post down the road.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
I learned a valuable lesson about buying new running shoes with my last two purchases. In August a bought a new version of shoe I had been wearing. I had been running in the V and bought the VI. The V was very responsive neutral shoe that I had started wearing earlier in the year and bought a few times as needed. When I went to get a new pair in August I shopped on line to save a few bucks but could not find any V's so I went with the new and improved VI. I thought the VI would be like the V but better. Well, what I found out was that the only thing the V and VI had in common was that they were both neutral running shoes. Everything else was different, but I spent the money so I had to wear them until I wore them out.
I was out on a run a few weeks ago and felt pretty beat up. My knees and ankles hurt and I just felt like crap so I decided it was time for new shoes and this time I would do it right. I would go to Tri Running and Walking and try on shoes until I found the right pair. The new owner of the store told me to try on as many shoes as I needed to find the right pair and I like that. You don't get that when you go to Dick's, Foot Lock or the other chain stores. They are not going to let you put on the shoes you are interested in and go for a run around the mall. I guess you could try it but I am not sure the end result (getting arrested for theft) is what you are looking for. I did stop into another local running store and got the hard sales tactic from guy working on the floor so I left. When you buy shoes you need to have a good selection to chose from and work with a store that will let you take a quick run to get a feel for what you are about to spend $90 to $130 on. I tried on about five different shoes and took each pair for a test drive up Rt 96 in Victor to make sure I had the right shoe. The net net is that I found a new shoe that is the best shoe I have ever run in. I'll stop now because this is not an advertisement for Tri Running and Walking, but I do recommend the store to any runner.
The moral of the story is when you find a pair of running shoes you love buy them until you can't find them anymore. When it is time to try a new running shoe you need to take the time to sit down with an expert and try on shoe until you find the right pair. If you don't you could end up like me. You will end up running in shoes you hate for the next three months.
Now that I have the right shoe I look forward to running. I even feel a little faster but that is most likely all in my head. I am sure the reason I feel faster is because I feel more comfortable in my new shoes and as a result I am in a better state of mind.
If you are getting out there and running keep it up. If you are not then it is time to get out of your chair and get started. Challenge yourself to run a race this year. I guarantee you will be hooked.