Earlier today I completed the Jersey Devil Xterra (.5 mile swim, 13 mile bike, 3.5 mile run). I signed up on a lark. I haven’t really been training for tris. Most of my training has been long slow bike rides, getting ready for the Allegheny Mountains Loop bikepacking trip in a few weeks. I’ve done some weight training, some running and swimming, but still my focus has been the long bike rides. I have done very little aneorobic training, though I know I should do some as it’s very good for building both endurance and speed. I figured signing up for the race would give me some motivation.
My friend Eric joined me. It was his first triathlon and he put in an amazing performance. We went down the day before and listened to a clinic, pre-rode the bike course, had a wonderful sushi dinner, and then watched some Xterra films they were showing at the registration center. Then we camped out. It rained half the night and my tent got pretty wet, but I was still plenty comfortable.
I finished in one hour, fifty-four minutes, which is eight minutes faster than last year. I guess I’m glad about that, though I’m wondering how much more triathlon racing I’m going to do. I found that my favorite part of the race was when I was alone for a stretch during both the bike and run courses. I’m sure I slowed down quite a bit then as I actually looked around a bit and enjoyed the woods and the feeling of moving through them quickly. But during the sections when I was with other people and I was cranking away, trying to catch them or outrun them, I didn’t have as much fun.
The problem for me is the clock. I don’t seem to able to do these races and not think about the clock. I mean, they are called “races” after all. The point is to go as fast as you can, hopefully faster than other people. When I first started all this five years ago that was all exciting and interesting, but more and more I’m just losing interest in it. But I’m more committed to endurance sports than ever. I love my training and I can’t imagine my life without it, but trying to advance upwards through the age group ranks and qualify for “bigger” races just doesn’t resonate with me right now.
What I really love is adventure. I like getting out in the woods and in different parts of the world for long periods of time and just exploring. It’s fun to go fast. I like being in motion and I like pushing my body physically. But I also like stopping when I’m tired, taking pictures when I want, taking a nap when I need one, and just slowing down once in a while and enjoying the scenery. That’s a major reason why I’ve decided to do the AML and the Tour Divide as ITTs (Individual Time Trials). I’ll still be trying to go fast and move quickly, but I won’t be so attached to the clock as I would be if I were with a big group of people all leaving at the same time.
The bikepacking events are great, but I still do love triathlon. The combination of swimming, biking, and running is just perfect. But triathlons are never organized with an ITT option. I think the solution is I’m just going to have to put together my own triathlons in the future and do them alone or with a few friends. I’ll find some open water and just put together my own swim, bike, run combinations. The advantage to that is that I can put together some really creative and cool events and do them when it’s convenient with my work and family schedule.
At any rate, it was a good day. I had fun at the race, but more importantly I figured out a lot of things about triathlon and how I want to move forward with it. The possibilities are endless, especially in the ultra realm . . .