Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mergozzo Half Ironman - Part II

My training had its ups and downs all summer. I'm sure that it wasn't "conventional" triathlon training, at least nothing like what I've seen on this list. In June and July I tried to get to the pool a couple times a week and swim at least 2km. I have a chlorine allergy problem and they really load the pools up with it during the summer over here which is why I could never stay in for more than an hour. I went out on the bike as much as I could, which was probably not often enough. My running...well, it just was. I've been having back problems this year which extend to my left leg and hips. Sometimes it's not pretty to watch. My husband had me doing posture exercises while I ran and I was finally able to see my favourite osteopath in August who thinks part of the problem is in the lung region. I had x-rays done the other day that will be ready in a few days...(UPDATE: x-rays came back and I have a really bad scoliosi which curves right where the lungs are) .I needed to keep my running to a minimum so as not to aggravate the problem.
For the month of August we went down to our summer house in Apulia on the Ionian Sea. Since I couldn't bring my road bike with me I bought a really cheap mountain bike (usd 130!!) but it was so uncomfortable after a few hours that I never stayed on it for more than that. What I did do was a lot of uphill intervals. Once a week I picked this hill that was about two km straight up and I just road it up and down until I dropped (an hour and a half - I have no resistance). My thighs would quiver when I got off the bike, but the next day I was fine so I knew that I just needed to keep it up. It really worked because when I got back home to Modena in September it was like I had little jets on my legs, riding about 5kph faster than before. My tapering was, hmmm, long. I went on a five day trip to London with my daughter. We had a hotel room next to Kensington Gardens so I went running every morning, but... that was counterbalanced by a visit to Starbucks twice a day and many delicious English Carbohydrates.
The week before the race I went to the pool once and then road my bike for a 45km jaunt...and I started to have my doubts on whether I would actually finish this race or not.

My main problem was this: I knew I would be last. People always talk about what a wonderful country Italy is with the Italians so laid back. Yeah, they have siestas and two hour lunches and one month vacations, but when it comes to sports, they are very very competitive. It's not entirely their fault, they're bred that way. In school when they play sports they're encouraged to participate only in sports that they excel in . No, you're not supposed to run because you enjoy it, you run if you're fast and can be competitive at it. Otherwise it's considered a waste of time. They carry this mentality with them into adulthood and that's where you'll find your competitive "amateurs" . This mentality has laxed a little on the running scene, but not yet with the triathletes. My age group, 45-49 women? There are four of us. Four. In the entire country.
The second problem was this: even though there was no drafting allowed in this race, from the look at the previous year's results everybody was drafting. I knew this because I had already competed against some of the women in Olympic triathlons and they had ALWAYS come in behind me. Knowing that I absolutely would-not-draft I was pretty sure I would be last. The time limits were 1.5 hours for the swim, 6 hours for the swim/bike and 8 for the whole race. My main goal was to finish within the eight hour time limit.


nancytoby said...

How can you look so cute in a swim cap and wetsuit!? Everybody else I know looks like an alien in theirs!!

Vanessa said...

Julia, it is so wonderful to read about an athlete such as yourself. I am 44yrs old, and have only just taken up surf boat rowing, which is an Australian Surf Life Saving sport. It is a very physically challenging sport and I am pushed out of my comfort zone constantly but the benefits are amazing. There is nothing like catching a huge wave in these boats with your fellow female crew members and winning a race.

I am an athlete at heart and I love to read about other women who are in our age range getting out there and giving it all they've got.

Well done on your achievements.