August 02, 2007


Caption: A good triathlete is something of an amphibian.

El Cabrero has been thinking about endurance in sport and life this week. If this is your first visit, please click on earlier entries.

When most people think about triathlons, they think about the Iron Man, a grueling race of truly epic proportions that began in Hawaii in the 1970s: a 2.4 mile swim, followed by 112 miles on a bike and topped off with a marathon run of 26.2 miles.

A Half Iron Man is the same, divided by two.

No, I can't say I've done either one and won't get there in this lifetime. But it would have been kind of cool.

(Such things are much better to have done than to actually do in the present tense.)

Most triathlons are a good bit shorter, thank God. The Olympic distance (it became an official event in 2000) is 1.5 meter swim, 24.8 bike, and 10K (6.2 mile) run. Shorter ones are called "sprints," although most are a far cry from sprinting.

In El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia, there's a nice one in Nicholas and Greenbrier counties that includes 1/2 mile in the icy waters of Summit Lake, 17 bike miles (mostly uphill) and a 10K at Cranberry Glades.

There's another one each year near Huntington at Beech Fork in Wayne County, which offers an Olympic distance and a "sprint" of 1/2 mile in the late, 24.8 miles on a bike and 3.1 on the hoof. That's the one I'm going to try Sunday.

Assuming one doesn't drown or have a bike wreck, triathlons of a reasonable distance (say Olympic or less) are actually easier on the body than long runs since you're not punishing yourself in the same way all the time.

My problem is that I swim only slightly better than a rock and have the kind of body that water apparently feels no obligation to hold up. My technique is only a little better than a dog paddle. Plus, swimming in a lake is a lot different than doing laps in a pool.

The one time I did an Olympic distance event, I could barely finish the mile in the deep dark waters of Beech Fork. The only thing that saved me was the fact that one of the rescue guys who followed us in a boat was on my fire department and I knew that if he fished me out I'd never hear the end of it.

I've tried one triathlon since having all the heart troubles and didn't finish. The waters of Summit Lake where cold and I couldn't seem to get enough air. Here's hoping for better luck Sunday. I figure if I make it out of the water, I'll be good to go.

MORE ON HIGHER ED. Here's a good editorial from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph about the need to boost WV's educational attainment and make it easier for adults to access higher education. Here's the punchline:

In light of the recent reports, West Virginia must review its programs that promote and assist high school and non-traditional students in getting a college education and, if need be, overhaul them.

If officials are serious about improving the economic environment then educational opportunities and training for adults must become a top priority.

The Mountain State will never be truly “open for business” if we don’t have the qualified manpower to fill the ranks of incoming industry.

GIANT BUGS NOT AN OPTION TODAY. In case you were worrying about this, the current atmosphere of the earth would not support the huge flying insects that used to live here. You can scratch that off your list.



brecht said...

I have been reading here and thinking of you daily. I am looking forward very much to your post next Monday.

Hey, at least the swim comes first.

El Cabrero said...

Thanks for the comment and good wishes! It is a good thing we swim first...