The last week saw a very important change in my life, I rolled 40 and moved into a new age category. It’s somewhat amusing, because we runners and triathletes measure life against our age categories now. You don’t simply turn 40, you roll your age cat.
Last Sunday, I raced my last race as a 39 year old, and took a step closer to breaking the 40 minute barrier for 10K. There is a great little race in Sydenham, Ontario that has us run 8kms on the Cat Trail. This is the second time I have raced it, and I love it. It’s a friendly event run by Derek Spafford. The day saw the sun shining with a Southwest wind helping on the way out, but a slight force to overcome on the way in. Temperature was about 12 degrees. A perfect fall day!!!
I have not been training a lot of speed, rather focussing on my tempo runs so I did not know what to expect. I decided to go out hard and see what I could do. I gave myself a target of 33 mins 30 seconds. I figured this would be reasonable and if I cracked…well I cracked. Regardless, it was a lead in for Cornwall in 2 weeks.
The first 4 K were okay, as I held on pretty close to target and although I dropped above the 4:00 min / km mark on average, it was really more to do with a couple of sharp grade changes. I was feeling the hills and thankfully they were short. I turned my first 4 k around in about 16 mins 9 seconds. You can see the immediate impact the wind had and it took me a while to recalibrate the power output needed to bring my speed back in line. It was at a cost and my heart rate which was already in Zone 5 went further into the dark area and I felt the tell tale signs starting to play out. It was in this portion, that I gave up two positions to people who were able to push through. Both of them encouraged me to hang tight and fall in behind them. (This is what I really love about our sport…we compete against each other…but help each other at the same time.) Alas, it was not meant to be and I was max’d. I continued to push through the lactic build up and rolled into the finish line completing the race with an official time of 33 mins 17 seconds. Not too bad at all and it snagged me an 11th overall out of 210 people and a second in my age category. I beat my target so I was happy with the outcome.
That was that..my last race in the 39 age cat! Strange feeling…
Yesterday, on Saturday the 22nd, I competed for the first time as a 40 year old and for the first time in an actual swim meet. I went into this with zero expectations because I knew that I was going into a swimmers world…not a runners world…and not a triathletes world. It was something I simply wanted to do.
The first challenge I had was trying to figure out how to seed myself. I had no idea what speed to expect, so I guessed. I entered the 25m, 50m and 100m freestyle and the 25m breaststroke. Turns out, I did much better then what I thought but still got my butt handed to me on a platter.
I had never started off blocks before and luckily, one of the coaches was running people through this for practice so I jumped in and took advantage.
It turns out I was in the first heat, first race of the day. The two ladies that were assigned to go with me were both older then 70, so aside from feeling a little insecure and out of my league, I was feeling very awkward having to race alongside two very nice elderly ladies. One of whom, took the time to come over and introduce herself to me at the starting blocks. Great….she might as well have just brought me cookies and milk.
The timer went off and I launched. I pushed down the lane and finished my 25 meter swim in 16:47 seconds. The 25 meter breast stroke saw a repeat with me finishing it in 23:51 seconds. The 50 meter freestyle saw me collect a time of 39:34 seconds and my final event, the 100 meter freestyle completed with a time of 1 min 27 seconds. Although I placed last in each event, I was very happy with my performance and the experience was very good.
The swim meet was really about me stepping out of my comfort zone. I honestly believe that sometimes doing this is needed to truly improve your self. Training comes in many forms, and sometimes you need to stop being what you are to truly see what you need to do. Does that make sense?
Let me explain it this way. I view myself as a triathlete and honestly may get a little too comfortable with this. I joke all the time, as many do, that we survive the swim and race the bike and run. Yesterday, I was not a triathlete or an Ironman. I was a swimmer and I was able to step into a different world and witnessed what I could achieve if I continued striving for more. I don’t want to simply survive the swim anymore, I want to improve my swim and efficiency. If I could get to 1/3 of the skill that some of the swimmers have, I would improve myself by almost 50%. I also realised how beautiful swimming truly is when done correctly. So..to you swimmers..I tip my hat. Thanks for letting me play with you.
Once I got home, I quickly threw my running clothes on and took advantage of the cool fall weather. I launched myself into what was to become a 24 KM run. At about 10K, I decided to make it an LSD run, so I simply enjoyed the day. When I let myself get into these types of runs, I simply melt into my IPOD and the environment around me. I purposely took a route that would take me away from traffic and people. I wanted to be alone and think about things.
Running brings me to a place that I cannot explain, but for me there is a meditative state and the longer I run the happier I become.
Life is good. I’m 40 now, I have great friends, great family and tremendous understanding of who I am and where I fit.
Over and Out;