onthefig2One of my (Heather) favorite documentaries is “Riding Giants” about the history and evolution of big wave surfing.  It seems like for many surfers, the addictive appeal to riding waves has to do with the purity of the experience.  It is just you in the moment, rapped up in an awesome act of nature – one that requires all your concentration.

An 8-17 hr event  like an Ironman, you may not feel like you are at one with the ocean, and it is hardly a zen-like communion with nature, but it is raw and purifying on another level and that is a big part of what I love about it.  You have to be in tune with your body and the more I train and race the more I have come to understand that nutrition is of paramount importance. If you are fit, you can keep going – as long as your body has fuel.
Eating is an activity that we do very frequently, which makes us take it for granted. It is often something that one does because the hands on a watch hit a specific hour. We rarely suffer acute hunger.
When you are out on a long training ride and you feel your energy drop, your legs start to loose power, but  you have a banana, something to drink, a bar and you feel like a million bucks – you know you needed it. I like feeling that connection. I get this funny feeling in my legs and an ill-at ease sort of irritation that lets me know I need more salt.  If Trevor and I get snappy and irritable (we can be real jerks at the end of a long training day), the reason is almost always a lack of calories. “Here sweetie, have an orange”…  “okay I don’t hate you anymore”.

onthefigThe other day we did a long aerobic run up to the top of Broadcast peak – about 1:40 to the top (for me) and not much shorter down. It was hot and sunny and we underestimated our liquid requirements – big time. By the end of the decent I had to walk because I got super uncoordinated and kept tripping over rocks. I started looking at the fresh greenness of plants for water and even grabbed a maple leaf to see if chewing it would help my insane thirst (nope – pretty dry). Eventually, as it took longer and longer to reach the bottom, I started crying and really losing it emotionally. I didn’t even have the mental capacity to reflect on our bad planning… I just blubbered my way down the mountain; a zoned out-march to “must get water”.  No self consciousness, no judgment – I just was. And what I was was very very thirsty. As soon as I got to my bike stashed in the bushes and gulped down a bottle – all was right in the universe.  I was smiling and happy. What a nice demonstration of action – reaction.  It was also an “Ah, so…. that’s what real thirst it like” moment.  We rode to a store, downed copious amounts of V8 and sweetened ice tea and reflected on how great of a workout we’d just had! Ha. A selective memory is a good quality in an athlete.  To an extent. The next day on a big ride I completely dorked-out my bike with an aerodrink, 2 bottles on the frame, 2 behind my seat and an extra couple in a camel-back because I never wanted to get that thirsty again!

I am sure that surfers don’t enjoy getting slammed to the bottom and tumbled like a washing machine when they screw up – but it is strong motivation to get it right. Bonking in training or under-performing in a race from lack of calories are powerful ways to learn about your body. Some things have to be experienced and even though they may not be pleasant at the time, the range of challenges involved in training for triathlon are a big part of what we love about it.

decentfigAnd a few more awesome shots care of Chuckie V.backsidefigarmourranchrd


~ by trevorandheather on May 16, 2009.

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