The blog of the adventures (or mis-adventures) of an active mountain woman.

Triathlons – Blame it on the 7R

Early morning light before the triathaMOM began.

Early morning light before the triathaMOM began.

No, 7R isn’t the newest ultra-heavy base layer from Patagonia. It’s a genetic mutation (the variant is DRD4-7R for the really geeky) tied to dopamine, which is that addictive learning and reward chemical in our brains. According to the January 2013 issue of National Geographic (so I’m a little behind in my reading…), 20% of us have this variant. It’s linked to curiosity, restlessness and makes us more partial to movement and novelty. And here’s a not-shocker: it’s closely associated with ADHD. Ladies and gentleman, ski towns inhabitants in a nutshell.

But what happens when the restless gene meets up with something demanding a bit more stability, like pairing with a partner (marriage) and even offspring? In my mind, this explains the recent boon in adventure races, triathlons, trail runs and the like. Tough Mudder, an 10-12 mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces, had 460,000 + participants last year. I just participated in my first sprint-distance triathlon and it seemed designed to coax a few 7R’s that have paused to bear children into action. It was fully supported, non-competitive, women only triathlon, or as they like to call it, a Triathamom. I’m sure if you grabbed DNA from these participants, 7R would appear in more than 20%.

The event itself was highly organized and incredibly enjoyable. My husband commented on the girliness of the body marking, which occurred the night before the event. Instead of conventional permanent marker, they used fun large stamps. As a side note to newbies- they stamp your AGE on your left calf. I was unprepared for this and found myself obsessing with the number on the calf in front of me. The calves starting with a “2” particularly irksome. But back to the event.

The 300 meter swim was indoors at the Kearns Olympic complex and I found myself wishing for open water because I knew it would give me an edge. I’m extremely comfortable in water and waves, wind, etc don’t really bother me, but had to rein in my competitive streak to remember that I was only racing against the clock, even if I would perform better with a shotgun and mass splashing. Since I had never done a swim, bike and run in quick succession (way to train, I know) I tried not to go “all out” in the swim and finished smiling and easily loped back to the transition area where my bike was waiting.

I thought I was relatively fast in the transition, but the clock showed otherwise. Apparently 4 minutes is quite a long time to spend downing a Gu and putting on my helmet. Oh well. I was a superstar on the 10 mile bike ride, or at least I felt like it. Feel free to copy my strategy: Only ride your race bike with knobby tires. The week before the race, get slick tires. Don’t ride the bike until the race. Whether you’re flying or not, you will be convinced that you’re incredibly fast. Ignore the clock and go with that feeling! The sign below was also posted along the bike path. Awesome.

Ryan, you are so right.

Ryan, you are so right.

Last was 3 mile run. As I began running, it occurred to me that I have never gone from a bike ride to a run. Why would I? And something was definitely wrong with my legs. They were leaden. The run was HARD. I knew that eventually my legs would loosen up, and the only way to get to the food at the finish line was to continue moving. So run I did. After a mile, glorious blood began to flow through my leaden legs and I could pick up the pace. When comparing my times with others, this appears to have been my strongest area by far. I wasn’t fast, but I pushed HARD through the suffering because I’m a mountain girl deep down and it’s a skill learned early on.

I’m so glad the 7R made me do it and can highly recommend this event to anyone wondering if they might have a bit of the variant themselves. I’m inordinately proud of the necklace I got after crossing the finish line, too.

Further-reading-book-of-the-day: The Scientist in the Crib by Alison Gopnik

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