Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My First Triathlon

On Saturday, I completed my first triathlon! I did the Milkman Triathlon (I know, Totally Not Vegan), a beginner-friendly sprint distance event hosted each year for the past twenty-four (!) by the town of Dexter, New Mexico.

Because it was my first event, I had a lot to to say about it! Here is my multi-part report:
In a nutshell, I finished, had a great time and am now testing out training for an Olympic distance event scheduled for the end of September!

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Moment in a Vegan Athlete's Life

My road season has been quite up and down lately. I started racing a few weeks ago, much later and more out of shape than most of the other racers due to a slow recovery from a really bad concussion I got during cyclo-cross season. (Unfortunately my diet doesn't protect me from knocks on the head!)

When the racing is going well, it's easy to assume everything i'm doing is correct - training well, eating well, making all the right moves during the race, etc. But when the bad days occur, I've always been a bit of a drama queen. Luckily it's usually balanced a bit by an athlete's innate ability to be in denial of everything that is amiss.

What happened to me this season was something that's never happened before. When the races went bad, I didn't attribute any of it to my diet. It's not that i have been overwhelmingly unsure of my vegan diet for sport in the past, but i think recent events made it so that my diet didn't even enter my mind. It was no longer in the forefront of my mind.

A major difference compared with years past is that i am no longer constantly questioned about my diet. Thanks to an increasing amount of forced public awareness regarding correct diet - due to increasing rates of heart disease, cancer and other illnesses - combined with the growing number of plant-based athletes, I feel I'm no longer viewed as a freak (for my diet at least!) There will always be naysayers (until another seventeen mad-cow-disease-type catastrophies occur squelches - or kills - them all) but the direct assaults on me have greatly dissipated.

The slowing of "in my face" attacks combined with my own extensive research backed by "field experience" over the years has helped solidify my confidence in my diet.

By the way, many of the pro teams are now starting to accommodate the riders who opt for a more healthful diet. Soymilk is popping up at most team breakfast tables here in Belgium, along with non-meat sauce for pasta at dinnertime. Maybe soon the French will catch on and offer more than just French bread to vegan racers!! (Last year, while racing for a French Pro Team, i had to subside mostly on French bread while contesting the Womens Tour de France. )

Anyway, I'm thrilled that my choice of foods is becoming a non-factor. Now all focus can be directed where it needs to go - on the racing!

As of yesterday, I think i'm back on track. I even found myself at the front a few times chasing down breaks!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bonelli Olympic Distance Triathlon

On the day before this race, I rode 47 miles, rounded on 19 cardiac patients, drank a Corona.... and still I had my fastest Olympic triathlon yet!

That said, this was not my "A" race. It's a concept that I'm getting used to. My "A" race will be Vineman 70.3, my first half ironman distance triathlon, which is in *gasp* six weeks.

Swim -- Don't ever put on sunscreen and then use the same sunscreen covered fingers to wipe out your goggle lenses. Baaaad idea. After a lot of rubbing, the lenses were clear. This was a small race, so maybe only 50 or 60 women, I think. The good thing is that there were fewer thrashing limbs to contend with in the water. However, on the flip side, I'm used to following a pack of swimmers, so I had to use a little more effort to make sure I was swimming in the correct direction.

Bike -- Three loops. I think the women were the last olympic distance wave. So, men who were on lap 2 or 3 on the course whizzed by. On my third lap, the quantity of cyclists on the course had thinned out, and a police officer directing traffic asked me, "Are there many more behind you?" "Yes there are," I responded, in deluding myself that perhaps many others at my pace or slower were still out there. How would I know how many people were behind me anyway? My bike wouldn't go into the small chain ring, which would have been helpful on a couple of hills, but wasn't a huge problem.

Run -- Due to a last minute course change, someone told me that the run was only 5.3 miles, not 6.2. Ack, ruin my celebration of beating my best olympic tri time!!!! Whatever. The run went better than my last run, but due to the small size of the race and the fact that I was in the last wave, I ran mostly alone. However, I did chat up an Australian guy who will be doing Vineman 70.3 next month also.

The End -- Never good being the last group to finish. I had to yell at some guy to get out of my way as he was meandering across the finish chute as I was sprinting in. And they ran out of Boca Burgers. Lately places are running out of veggie burgers -- are vegetarians taking over the world?