Monday, August 01, 2005

Mindful Triathlon

Yesterday, I participated in the Colchester Triathlon. The last time I did the race was 1996, when I was 33. This year in the context of running and swimming with the dogs, and commuting on my bike to the office several days a week, I realized I was probably ready to do another triathlon. I set as my goal to beat my time from 9 years ago. It was a beautiful Vermont summer day yesterday, and such days have been in short supply this summer. The triathlon consists of a 1⁄2 mile swim in Mallet’s Bay of Lake Champlain, followed by a 12-mile bike ride, and a 3-mile run. The bike route overlaps with some of my daily commute to work, so this was my home turf. I had a good race with the enthusiastic and faithful support of my wife, who served as my support team. I finished strong. The run was the biggest challenge, and to stay on track, I needed to be vigilant with mindfulness. By that point in the race, running was painful. I enjoy running in the woods on soft, if occasionally rocky trails. This was the first time running on pavement since the last triathlon nearly a decade ago. Ouch. I put into practice the principles I outline in my paper on mindfulness in sports, which you can read by clicking here. When the results were posted I was disappointed to learn that my time was 10 minutes slower than 1996. This was puzzling and disconcerting since I thought I had had a good race. Where did I lose 10 minutes? I sighed with the apparent recognition that a 42-year-old body is not that of a 33-year-old body, despite the loving enthusiasm of my wife and my hopeful aspirations. Today, though, I was checking the results online. To my astonishment and pleasure, the results posted hastily after the race yesterday were in error by 10 minutes! I missed my 1996 by 46 seconds, but that seems close enough. It is so interesting to see how the mind constructs a view of things based on information. When that information is unreliable as it was yesterday, the construction is faulty. We make these sorts of suppositions all the time. I am looking forward to my next triathlon, which may be in 9 years when I will be 51. I will have the same goal – beat my time from 33!

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