Swim: 0 m/81,800 m
Bike: 0/586.9 miles
Run: 3.2/175.2 miles
It was bound to happen eventually.
This past weekend, less than 12 miles in to a planned 45-mile ride, I got the first flat tire of the season. It was my first ever, actually.
It was an odd morning and I knew I should have reconsidered the ride before I even started – my sunglasses and wallet (I hoped to stop and buy snacks halfway through the ride) were with my wife, who had taken my car to run some errands. Also, I felt stiff from my 5k race the morning before, and had slept poorly that night. And it had just finished raining and the roads were slick.
But I stuck with the plan and set out, aiming to ride from my in-laws’ house to Deltaville, about 22 miles away, and back. The ride started pretty well, but when I turned onto the main road that would take me 15 miles to Deltaville, I was greeted with a strong, almost overpowering, headwind. I was not looking forward to the rest of the ride.
As it turns out, I wasn’t looking forward at the road very much, either. Riding without my sunglasses and into a strong wind, I found myself keeping my head down as I was tucked into the aero position. That’s probably why I didn’t see the rock that ended my ride until it was too late. I felt the contact, thought to myself “That can’t be good” and felt the rear tire start flopping almost immediately. My ride was done, less than a third of the way in.
This incident was an apt metaphor for my riding these days. Or, more accurately, my lack of riding. I’m going nowhere, and I feel like I’m seeing very little forward progress in my overall training. My daughter recently finished up her preschool year and began her summer break, which means there are about three or four fewer hours every week that I have available for training. That’s pretty significant for someone who’s already on a pretty tight schedule. While I can maintain my running (since I can take her with me in the jogging stroller), I’m getting in less swimming and biking.
The biking has proven the most difficult to keep up with. I feel like shorter rides – those below about 15 miles – aren’t giving me a great benefit, and it’s harder to find long blocks of time to fit in big-mileage outings. Getting out for a half-hour ride every now and then just won’t cut it. It’s made me pretty discouraged about my overall training, since cycling should make up the majority of triathlon preparation and I should be on the bike at least two or three hours a week. Pushing all of my longer workouts – not just biking, but swimming and running, too – to the weekend is difficult because it cuts into the limited amount of time I get to spend with my family – my first priority.
I’ve got a triathlon coming up in about two weeks that includes a tough 19-mile bike segment, and while I don’t have any big expectations for that ride, I still want to be able to feel prepared to cover the distance. At my current rate of about one ride per week, even if it is 20 or more miles, I feel like I’m losing some of the bike fitness that I built in April and May. I’m hoping that the twice-per-week weight sessions are helping counteract that loss, although I’m not expecting to see results until the 6-week regimen is finished. Right now my legs are feeling pretty shot from the weights and the hard, hilly runs with the jogging stroller.
In the end, there’s not much I can do about it. I spent the first five months of the year building my base in all three sports, and now it’s time to adjust my training to the reality of my new schedule. Rather than be constantly regretful that I’m not getting in the amount of training I’d like, I need to accept that things are different and adjust my expectations. My daughter has a few two-week sessions of morning summer camp in the coming months, and on those weeks I can hit the bike hard. Otherwise I’ll focus on running and, of course, having lots of fun with my daughter while she’s at home with me.
And, as for the flat tire, it’s been repaired and is ready to go when I get another chance to ride. I also put together a fully equipped tire-repair kit to attach to my bike, which will hopefully make a ride-ending flat far less likely. Eventually I’ll be moving forward again.