Triathlon Crime Mystery

That was awful. Eleven miles and not until the last one did I feel any kind of good. There was no pep in my step, no go to my flow. What the hell? I’m the guy who ran 1:30 and change in the half marathon a week ago and today I barely manage 10-minute miles? Really, I could not have gone any slower. Nor faster.

I don’t mind a bad workout, actually, as long as I can figure out what caused it. Or who. If you’re like me, you’ve got to solve the mystery, got to track down every lead and grill the suspects until one of them cracks and says: “It was me, Speed Workout. Two days ago I fried your legs and you know it always takes you four days to recover. I never meant to hurt you. I only wanted to make you faster. If you’d only take the time to recover properly!” Or maybe it’s our brash old friend Bad Sleep, reveling in his power to take us down: “Hell, yes, I screwed up your workout! You hang out with me for six hours a night, night after night, you’re not exactly going to glide through all these hellacious sessions, pal. Now, c’mon. It’s only 10 p.m. Let’s watch some of those Netflix movies that arrived today.”

Speed Workout, Bad Sleep, Possible Cold, Recent Race ... the list goes on. What’s scary, though, is when there’s not enough evidence to indict anyone. This is when I begin to imagine it’s all random, a crap shoot, mere luck o’ the draw: I begin to think that on average, every 23rd time I go out to swim, bike or run (or do all three), I'm going to suck completely. But because it’s on average I can’t prepare for it and I don’t know if it might strike on race day. (Cue ominous sound effect.)

Could it happen? Could race day arrive and for whatever mysterious reason the body just does not respond? It’s a horrific, distressing thought, one to be banished from the consciousness with all due haste. And banish it we do, holding firm to the idea that we are in control. So we taper, we gobble melatonin and/or Advil PM, we apply Purell before, during and after every visit to the grocery store and we save our A race for our A race. And we hope.

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