Sunday, June 01, 2008

A new me

Surprise surprise, I put off updating my blog for several months. I've really made some significant changes to my lifestyle and daily routine this year. Before I went to college, I never thought of myself as a nerd, or as a very studious person at all. In high school, I was an athlete. And that's all that mattered to me back then. But after my first year at Purdue when I discovered how interesting (and difficult, and time-consuming) my studies were, that side of me went away. It took two degrees and seven years before I would have enough time to resume this hobby of mine.

Particularly I'm talking about running, as I did cross country and track in high school. But I haven't been training the same that I used to. I used to just run run run and run some more, but I always get injured doing that. I started going to the gym near daily in November of last year and I've been keeping it up ever since. This time around, I limited my running and did cross training before I got injured. I would spend time on the exercise bike, swimming in the lap pool, and doing a lot of weight lifting. This training routine naturally led me to something, but I'll get to that a little later. In spite of all my precautions, I still ended up getting shin splints (as I usually do) pretty bad. But I was able to fall back easily on my cross-training when I needed to back off of running. In the past few years, I'd usually start running, then get shin splints bad enough to where running sucked and I had to stop, then I'd get out of shape again. So this made things a bit easier for me. And on March 30th, I ran my first race in over 7.5 years, the Austin Statesman 10K (a pretty large race). I finished in 42:02.5 (6:45 mile pace), which got me 29th place out of 430 in my age division and 169th out of 6567 overall. So I guess that's not too bad. The last race I ran was in 2000 though and it was a much harder and longer course, and I managed a 6:15 pace in that race to get first place there. So I'm not as fast as I used to be (yet).

Around the same time that I ran that race, I started a triathlon training program at my gym. I had been thinking about doing a triathlon for a while, since my cross training kind of naturally pulled me in that direction, and it seems like such a cool sport. I have zero experience as a cyclist (I didn't even have a bicycle) and only amateur experience as a swimmer, so it was all pretty intimidating at first. But it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, and once I got use to it the training has been a lot of fun. It also helped that there was a girl there who had pretty much the same background, experience, and intimidations as me (in fact, she also ran the statesman 10K race). I also found out how expensive this sport is, especially compared to running. The cost of all the gear and training over the past three months has added up to about $2,500. Its all been worth it though. A couple weeks ago I did my first triathlon race, CapTexTri.

For reference, a triathlon consists of swim, bike, and run stages in that order. Since this race was my first one, I did the sprint distance, which is a 750 meter swim (slightly less than half a mile), a 12.5 mile bike, and a 3.1 mile run. There was also an olympic distance, which was double the distance in each stage, and a shorter distance. The race started at 7AM, but not everyone started at the same time. They put people in groups according to their age division and the distance that they were doing. My race didn't get started until about 9:45. The swim went surprisingly well for me. Most people freak out, but I just told myself to relax and just get through it. That mentality worked for me, because I was the first person in my heat out of the water. It was really disorienting coming off of swimming and having to run to the transition area. It took me about half a mile on the bike before my head started feeling straight again. The bike stage was awesome. There were a TON of people on the course (which was a loop you had to do 1, 2, or 4 times) and I easily passed about 90% of the people I came across. There were a few cyclists there that were hammering down hard though and passed me like I was standing still. Unfortunately even though I'm pretty fast on the bike, I lack....technical abilities. For example, like being able to grab my water bottle while moving. So by the time I finished the bike stage, I was feeling pretty dehydrated, and it showed on the run. It was incredibly hot out by the time I got to the run and I was completely exhausted from the first step. I think a lot of what slowed me down was mental, not physical though. So anyway, I finished having no idea how well I did since there were people all over the course. When I went to look at the unofficial results, it said I got second place in my division. But my swim time was really messed up (it said I spent almost 3 horus in the swim stage, which was not true). I went to the awards ceremony not really knowing whether I really got 2nd or not. After waiting forever they got to announcing my division. I waited anxiously as they announced the person who got 3rd... then the person who got 2nd....wasn't my name. So I thought to myself "crap!", but then they announced the person who placed first and they said my name. So yeah, I won first place in my age division (out of 66, which apparently is a lot) in my very first triathlon, not bad huh? :) CapTexTri was also a pretty big race, one of the biggest in triathlon history I heard them say on race day. I learned that I qualified for the national age division championships later this year, which I may consider competint in (although I expect my ass to get handed to me there).

My plan is to do one triathlon race a month until October. In October I'm going to do a half ironman (which is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.3 mile run). I'll probably do a few running races in between as well. The downside of all this training is all the time it takes. For the first time ever, I've taken a long leave of absence from Allacrost. I think I deserved/needed it though, since I've been working my ass off on that project for over 3 years. I'm finally ready to get back into it though. I miss it, actually. So that's about it. The rest of life has been pretty much unremarkable since my last post. Work has been okay. I'm not really excited about what I'm working on, but at least its not stressful. See ya next time.


Blogger Sean Leather said...

That's great! Keep up the good exercise, and maybe I'll get inspired to do the same. Currently, I generally feel overwhelmed by stuff that needs being done.

7:10 AM  
Blogger Tyler Olsen said...

Thanks. Yeah, that whole "overwhelmed" thing is what is keeping me from going back to grad school. I don't want to go back to the lifestyle where I just work work work and can't live a healthy and balanced life as a result. Yet at the same time, I want to go back to being a student...

8:09 PM  

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