Wednesday, July 12, 2006

He's a Brick

OK, so he's not a Brick House in the traditional manner of the song. However, my Elder Child has now accomplished his second "brick" workout, in preparation for his first triathlon next weekend. He can do the swim no problem (200 meters in a pool), and the bike he enjoys tremendously (6 miles) even though he'd never been on a bicycle before the second week of May, and he can do a 5K no problem with about a 35 minute PR (he only has to do 2 miles for the race). I know he can do the individual parts of it, but as we all know, the trick to the tri is the combination and the transition, so I knew we had to put this together for him to be ready. This second bike/run combo went significantly better than his first, but then again, it would be tough for this one to be any worse than the first.

Backtrack to Saturday morning. Having not spent any of the previous two weeks anywhere near the bicycles or on runs together, we determined that with race day a mere three weeks away, we should probably attempt to train the Elder Child. So I roused him and his hair -- the child has a head of the thickest hair imaginable and it is seriously affected by bedhead now that it's longer than a buzz -- at 6:15, force-fed him some toast and jam, and we hopped on the bikes. We left DinoBoy and Hub snug in their beds, and attempted to get some good riding in before the sun came up full force and the heat became too unbearable.

Now, keep in mind that we'd not been out riding in a long while, and his legs were a bit unused. I'd planned a 4 mile ride and a mile run afterward, just to shake off the rust and get him accustomed to the dead-leg sensation of the run immediately after the bike. I didn't want his first attempt at the tri to see him crumpling under his own body weight in T2. What I didn't count on was the extreme humidity of that morning, despite the sun still being low in the sky and behind cloud cover. His breathing was out of control really early on because of it, and by the time we hit a slight incline past mile 1, he was panting like a dog.

I also didn't count on us passing the stinkiest mound of roadkill garbage on the side of the road about two miles in. He was trying to regain a semblance of deep breathing and inhaled the nasty stench of something dead right when we passed it, setting off his gag reflex. I looked over and saw him pretty much retching on the bike and had to talk him down off the cliff to keep his toast down. Had the implications not been so gruesome it would have been pretty funny. OK, even if he had puked, it was still pretty funny. So I'm a bad mom, whatever, the kid is way too sensitive to smells. I'd run past that same spot the morning before and while it baffled me and disturbed me, it certainly didn't make me want to upchuck. That slight interruption really did affect the rest of his ride, though, as he had that I-almost-puked-tremble to him for the next mile. We averaged about a 8:00/mile for the last three, but the first mile was painfully slow at about 10:00.

Then, when we finished up and left the bikes in the garage for the run, his feet were hurting him. He's just gotten a new set of orthotics and had barely broken them in, so after about a quarter of a mile, the feet were killing him. Combine the limping with being out of breath from the humidity and my poor baby was just a mess. Then add in his tendency to get "heavy head" when he's tired --his head droops to the right both on runs and on the ice after a long shift in hockey -- and it looked like I was running with Quasimodo. At one point, I caught a glimpse of our shadows from the early sun, and I was literally barely jogging next to a little misshapen lump. He couldn't even manage our usual 4/1 splits -- by .6 of a mile in, we were running by 4 houses, then walking past 2, then running by the next 4. And he was grimacing and grunting and whining the entire time. It was all he could do to make it home. We clocked a smoking 16:00/mile. Wahoo.

The one thing that seemed to make an impression on him during the run part of this was my insistence on his regaining his breathing and trying to have some semblance of decent form. I kept at him to do those two things, and I'm sure some of the neighbors out doing early yard work thought I was abusing him by berating him. But I needed him to understand while we were out there, when he felt like quitting, that I can't be on the course with him this time. I usually am with him when he gets winded, or when the arches start to burn, or if he gets a side stitch and wants to come to a dead stop during his walk breaks. And I can get him going again, and pep talk him to just go a little further until he catches sight of the finish and regains his momentum and breaks away from me and sprints into the chutes. But this time, I can't and won't be with him when he's racing. And I need for him to be able to motivate himself and push himself when he thinks he can't go any longer. Because he can go a little longer, and he can keep those little legs moving, and he can make it to the finish on his own. He's done it every single time he's pinned a bib on his shirt, and sometimes it's easy and fun and sometimes it's hard and painful, but oh, so, rewarding. But sometimes he thinks he can't, especially when it's hard and painful, and I so need him to believe in himself like I believe in him.

So that's why tonight's brick was so much better. He did 5 miles on the bike, averaging about a 7:50/mile for the whole thing, and then we ran about .6 of a mile in a 13:20/mile pace. And he finished with a smile and a look of accomplishment so different from Saturday morning's utter defeat. It helped that we had a few sprinklers to run through tonight! But his confidence was built up because despite the limp and the pain and the Quasimodo head, he's done a brick and he came out on the other side of it. Hell, how many 11-year-olds do you know that even know what a brick is? Like I told him, he may come in dead freakin' last, but the medal is the same, and the sense of pride is something nobody can ever take away.

UPDATE: I just signed him up officially. And we'd both been operating on the assumption that the bike was 6 miles, but it's actually only 5, and we thought the run was 2 miles, but it's actually only 1.5. So, SCORE! He will be so ready by the time next week rolls around.


Denise said...

Awesome Sandro!! Can't say I'd be able to do it...

By the way, how much do you charge for personal training? Might need to look into that. The motivation alone would do wonders for me.

Diane said...

Way to go Sandro and Way to Go Mom on being such an incredible role model!!!

Have to say that I'm with Sandro though - I would have ralphed by the sounds of that smell! LOL