Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bricks a la Kewl Nitrox

Long before I knew what a "brick" was, they were a key component of my training. When first starting to run, I helped boost my endurance with biking. It was much easier than trying to do everything through running. A common day's training would be 15 miles on the bike followed by a 6.5 mile run. I typically did that three times a week (remember, I was a bit undereducated on training programs).

Since beginning training for the triathlon, it has become readily apparent that doing bricks for every training session is, well, idiotic. I have focused more on individual disciplines, relying on my ears to tell me when a brick is in order.

Today was one such day. Allow me to explain.

I was born with a cleft palate. I was blessed, and didn't have the cleft lip that so commonly occurs with that condition. I did not, however, avoid the other common side effect, a poorly developed aural (ear) system. Put in simple terms, ear infections have been a recurring theme in my life. As a result, my ear drums are perforated with lots of little holes. They are prone to "leaking" and rupturing. To minimize that, I wear ear plugs when swimming.

This morning, my swim training was going well. My ego was boosted the moment I walked onto the pool deck when one of the superstar swimmers asked if I was training for a triathlon. She figured I was because of the training progression I've been following. She is reading a book (Going the Distance) and said my training exactly matched what is described in the book. I was still able to swim, despite the minor swelling in my head.

The first 16 lengths went well. No leaks in the goggles. No pain from my pneumonia shot. Good form. Decent breathing patterns (for me). Then, during the 17th length of the pool, I felt water leaking towards an eardrum (the same one I ruptured a few years back). After the 18th length, I attempted to get a better seal, and almost passed out from what may well be another ruptured ear drum (only time and a night of sleeping with that ear down will tell).

Since swimming was out after only 450 yards, I rushed back to the locker room and switched over to running. I managed to get in a 5K run before having to leave for work. Despite the concerns over the ear, it feels good to have completed a brick that covers the race distances.

Now, all I have to do is figure out how to completely isolate my right ear from contact with the water. Plastic wrap? Fish bowl?

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