Saturday, February 09, 2008

B-Fit B-Day Challenge (with a Little Help from My Friends)


I took the challenge and I met the standard.

Only with a lot of help from my tribuddies and two new swim-padnahs was I able to complete the raceAthlete B-Fit B-Day Challenge... in one morning.

Determined by the numbers in my age (47) I would swim 4 miles, bike 47 miles, and run 7 miles.

Ever been alone in a natatorium? The hum of the pumps beneath the surface makes for an eerie drone in a football field sized room. There are no voices, no splashing, and maybe a slight trickle of water flowing into a drain. The surface of the pool is as smooth as glass. The water looks surreal in its unnatural stillness.

That's what it's like on a Saturday at 4:50 AM.

It's one of those environments that heighten your senses and awareness of the solitude and near nakedness. An odd place it is that's so large and quickly closes in on you. The hum of the walls almost forbidding you to break its dominance.

The strangeness was broken by the sound of my friend Jim as he walked through the door with a stopwatch. He looked more like he was ready to play 18 holes of golf than to count my laps in the pool. He pulled up a deck chair and assumed his lap counting position in lane four.

I dropped my nylon bag filled with packets of gels two bottles of water and two more of Gatorade. In a plastic bag I pulled a clipboard holding a sheet of paper I made for him to cross off 50 yard laps completed and record split times.

Also in the bag was the laminated index card inscribed with the name, Sally. Sally is his 12 year old daughter lying in a hospital bed fighting cerebellar astrocytoma. A brain tumor. I showed it to Jim and he nodded with approval while I placed it in the leg pocket of my triathlon shorts.

This event was dedicated to her.

Just before 5:00 my tribuddies Mike and Stewart arrived. One looking like he just rolled out of bed and the other like he just left a party. They were there to pace and draft for me.

At 5:00 Jim started the stopwatch and I pushed away from the wall for the first of 274 lengths of the pool. The number alone should have been enough to keep me in bed but there was no turning back. I took the challenge, committed myself to the task, and plunged in for the longest swim session of my life.

The strategy was simply. Plan A was to swim 4 x 1,650 meters continuously with two minutes rest in between. If that proved to be too much then we'd switch to Plan B and sets of 1,000s.

The first set went by smoothly as did the second mile. With Mike and Stewart taking turns pulling or in the lane beside me with a steady 2:15 per 100 yard pace, the laps clicked off quickly.
Until mile three. That's when my shoulders and lower back began to protest. Holding on the steady pace became a chore. The last dozen or so laps felt like I was swimming in mud. It's here I began to have doubts of being able to finish.

The planned two minute rest period was stretched to five. I used the opportunity to eat and down a full bottle of water.

During the break two swimmers showed up for their regular Saturday morning training swim and joined in on the drafting and pacing. This is just what was needed to get me through the last mile.

After 2:37:23 I was out of the water and rushed to change clothes for the drive to meet my triathlon team for the ride.

A group of nearly 30 riders rolled on to the road just after 8:30 AM. I tucked myself into the group planning on a 16 to 20 mph group while the speedsters lead the pack.

My buddies Tom and Barry took turns pulling in the front of the group and I was happy to draft.

At 47 miles I stopped my watch. It read 2:34:08 for an average of 18.2 mph.

Tom and I started the run together. He would stay with me for just over twenty minutes before turning back to the parking lot while I continued to the 3.5 mile turn around point. After Tom returned to his car he drove onto the road to greet me with bottles of cold water and Gatorade. After a long drink I shook his hand and finished the last mile to complete the seven mile run and the B-Fit B-Day Challenge. I stopped my watch for the run at 1:06.51.

While taking the challenge there were plenty of opportunities to think. That's especially so during the swim. My mind often wandered to places of maple lined trails, bridges of stone, and grey rivers. These are the places I go when I feel the strength of good health and warm thoughts.

On the way home I stopped and took the laminated index card from the pocket of my shorts and sealed it in Sally's "Get Well" card. It was addressed to the hospital. I slid it into the mailbox and drove away.

My shoulders and back hurt but my heart was warm. Damn, I am fortunate.

Stay tuned...

23 comments:

Wendy said...

Good going, Boomer!!

Danielle in Iowa said...

Woah! Nice job!

21stCenturyMom said...

Wow- that is impressive!

Happy Birthday and Many Happy Returns.

The problem with the birthday challenge is the older you get, the harder it is. This year I will have to swim 5 miles, bike 54 miles and run 4 miles and honestly - I can't see making that happen. I figure he'll be out of helmets and glasses by then, anyhow.

Shelley said...

You are a rock star..but we knew that already..enjoy your just desserts..so to speak..:-)

UntPawGal02 said...

Congrats... you do deserve to put your feet up and eat a nice big desert! :) Early Bday!

Jen_runs said...

Wow! That's impressive. You deserve to put your feet up after that!

Curly Su said...

that's totally great. i love the idea of this challenge...

Tri to Be Funny said...

Damn boy!! Happy birthday and congrats!

Cara said...

Woot! Happy Birthday!

Vickie said...

Wow, nice workout. And as always, it seemed to go easier when dedicated to someone else. Their pain becomes your strength. Congratulations on finishing a tough day.

Brent Buckner said...

Big day - well done!

UntPawGal02 said...

Thats why you had the camera this morning at practice! Happy Birthday (for the millionth time)!

Iron Eric said...

Thats a lot of swimming. You made it, and it sounds great to have such a crew. Great idea.
Way to go and happy birthday.

supalinds said...

Wow!! Good work. That shot of your back is sweet!!!

Happy Birthday! That is a great way to celebrate!

Kim said...

brian, you never cease to amaze me. happy happy happy birthday and im so proud of you! way to rock that birthday triathlon!

Ryan said...

Awesome! Not just the accomplishment, but the dedication to yourself and others. Happy Birthday!

Aimee said...

I think that story warms all of our hearts. You done good. Happy Birthday. You gave yourself and Sally a very memorable present!

Aimee.

triguyjt said...

awesome job on the birthday challenge....
man, those 4 miles in the pool had to be mind numbing..
congrats.....

best to sally

Steve Stenzel said...

NICE JOB!!! Great day!!

TrainingtoTri said...

Awesome Recap! I can't wait to do this for my b-day in June. Congrats.

Bigun said...

way to go! I'm up on March 24th...44...

Dave M said...

Congrats on being one of the first to take the challenge and DESTROY IT! I'll be 37 in June and I'm training for my first marathon, so I think I'll be ready for the Silver Running Challenge as I don't swim or bike. I am writing this comment because I am procrastinating getting my rear out the door for an easy 12 miles (a new distance record for me!).

Triathlonmom said...

Congratulations! And Happy Birthday!