Category Archives: Multisport Mania

The Post-Game Show

The Problem
Finishing an Ironman can be one of the most amazing experiences of your life.  It can also set you up for one of the most dispiriting episodes of your life.  The phenomenon of post-Ironman depression is real although it strikes people in different ways, and its causes are many and varied.  Some of it is no doubt simply chemical.  You spend the better part of a year working out not once a day (which would represent a considerable buzz for most people) but often twice a day.  Sometimes you are working out for hours (and hours, and hours) on end.  You are saturated in a heady mix of endorphins pretty much all the time.  Then suddenly you are cut-off as abruptly as Lindsay Lohan sent to rehab.  But it is more than a chemical-dependency problem.  Especially when you get to the latter stages of an Ironman you spend a lot of time dreaming of/fantasizing about the time when the race is over and you will get your life back.

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Life Changing Events

Background
Santa came slightly early to our household this year, probably because he realized that packing two bikes into his sleigh wouldn’t leave a lot of room for presents for the rest of the general population.  Mary had been wondering about the wisdom of getting a tri bike for a while since we’re doing Rev 3 Cedar Point which is basically flat.  The unknown was the Challenge Wanaka course.  However a little research showed that it is considerably flatter than she had been expecting, and doing these two races back-to-back would seem to make a tri bike a good investment.

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The Downside

When it comes to cycling, the downside is the upside.

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Final Thoughts

This is my second-to-last will and testament
Only a rough draft, a handwritten estimate
Carter USM

Tomorrow is the Mountains of Misery ride.  For those who suffered through this epic ride with me last year (many of whom are not present this year. . .Jason, Jennifer, Julie, I miss you all) or who suffered through the even longer written account of this ride, the big question will be: IN GOD’S NAME WHY?  And when you realize that I’m actually doing this for the third year in a row, most intelligent people will probably be reduced to making little fishy motions with their mouths accompanied by spastic gestures of incomprehension.  Of course, I exaggerate (moi?).  For most of my fellow team-mates the answers are many and obvious (even if they wouldn’t dream of asking this particular question themselves): because it’s there, because you can, because it is all about testing yourself, precisely because this ride is so bad-ass, etc.

This year, however, I’m experiencing something entirely new to me on the eve of a ride.  Doubt.

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Those who are about to tri, we salute you

A year ago today I was lying in my tent, listening to the rising wind and trying desperately not to think about anything.  Trying not to think about the wind-whipped waves.  Trying not to think about racing the next day.  Trying not think about not finishing.  Trying not think about falling at the first hurdle in a very long race. Continue reading

Betty Ford Can’t Help Us

DC drivers are crap.  They can’t drive when faced with snowbanks and slush and shouldn’t be allowed to.  People who haven’t shoveled their sidewalks by this point should be fined or, preferably, shot.  Both my dogs are stupid and annoying.  I’m sick of the Olympics.  Who the hell does Shaun White think he is anyway?  A repeat gold medallist or something?

This, my friends, is what happens when you can’t exercise.  Or, more exactly, when you can’t exercise at the volume and intensity you are used to.  The advent and aftermath of the twin hits of Snowpocalypse and Snowmaggedon (which now merge together in my mind under the all-encompassing “I’m Snow over It”) have really taken their toll on me over the last couple of weeks.  And to judge from recent conversations, I’m not the only one.  Team workouts have been disrupted at the very least or in many cases canceled.   Exercising solo has been difficult due to pool and track closures, with unplowed streets making it difficult or in some cases impossible to get to even those venues that were open.  Even running around the neighbourhood has been a dicey proposition.

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Living in the Past

Rumor has it that 2010 has arrived in that zone of reality commonly known as “The World.”  In my world, however, it is still 2009.  That is partly so I can continue to savor the state of comfortable denial whereby I don’t have to admit that it is this year I will be doing an Ironman.  In my world, that happens next year.  But I also wanted to pause for a moment and revisit some of my most memorable athletic moments from last year.  Or rather, this year.

Hearts of Iron. No real contest for the most memorable moment here.  Witnessing Flygirl complete Ironman USA at Lake Placid.  It was a helluva journey but none of it compared to the event itself.  Its hard to top the privilege of being there to share the moment when someone completes a life goal. Being able to cheer on so many of my Team Z cronies was an added bonus.  But I’ve already written a lot about this and so has Flygirl.

Family Ties. Having my uncle and cousin from NZ to stay.  Sharing the Ironman madness.  A magic day of biking with my uncle along the C&O between Riley’s Lock and Widewater.

Skidding in the Rain.  Charlotte Long Course Duathlon, in February, raced entirely in driving rain from start to finish.  A near-death experience fish-tailing a tri bike on muddy wet roads to avoid some arsehole in a car.  Two trail runs in thick red North Carolina mud that turned into slip and slides.  Never did manage to get the reddish tinge out of my running shoes.

Spring Fling.  A pleasant spring day in Richmond for the Duathlon Nationals.  Except for the part where it was 90 degrees and as humid as an NFL linebacker’s jockstrap.  Saw someone with heatstroke for the first (and, I hope, the last) time in my life.  Got the best race swag ever.  Felt like a rockstar.  Until the race started.  Then I pretty much felt like crap.

The Borg. The Kinetic Half-Ironman.  Hadn’t planned on doing anything for this and was only planning to be there to support Mary.  But Coach Ed roped me in to a relay and I found myself doing the bike leg of the half.  I’ve never had the opportunity to race flat out over 56 miles and I was really pleased to be able to bring it in under three hours.  This, however, is the event I consider my real introduction to Team Z: the noise, the generous support, the noise, the endless amounts of food, the noise. . .  Seeing how the team cheered and supported not just its own but especially those racers coming in at the tail-end was truly inspiring.  I was assimilated.

Les Miserables. Mountains of Misery in May.  In many ways, this ride ranks up there with Mary’s Ironman in terms of the most memorable event of 2009 (in a year that was packed with miserable events).  I certainly haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.  In many ways it redefined me as a cyclist since it was so much more ridiculously extreme than anything I’d attempted before.  It also left me with one of the strangest sensations: I completed it, so I felt a huge sense of accomplishment; yet I felt completely destroyed mentally, so I felt as if it had beaten me.  More than likely, 2010 will see a rematch.

Moosed. Racing the bike and run portions of the Mooseman Half-Iron with a massive headcold.  In retrospect, just stupid.  But it was great to be part of an event at which I’ve been an observer for so many years before.  It was also one of the few times Mary and I have ever done the same race.  And I wouldn’t have missed Robbin grinding the poor race mascot for anything.

The Roar of the Cannon. Patrick Henry Half Marathon at the end of August.  Exactly the kind of weather you’d expect at the end of August, but I managed a PR.  Although I almost crapped myself when the race started with a blast from a replica cannon I was pleased with the way I was able to execute my race plan and build from a conservative start to a rip-roaring finish.  I’ll miss not being able to do this race again in 2010 but it may be too close to IMMOO.

Hooah. Marine Corps Marathon in October.  A fun, well-organized, inspirational race.  My first time being part of a really big athletic event.  I didn’t hit my goal, but I did a lot better than at Richmond last year and also ran harder for longer than I had truly believed I could do.  Looking forward to the next one.

Challenging Phelps. Against all good sense I start swimming.  Yup yup yup.  And I’m still (mostly) afloat.

Frozenman. Trying to do a time trial in a snow storm.  Pretty definitive evidence of how far I’ve come this year.  Or how low I’ve fallen!