Tri Season

I’ve been fascinated with the sport of triathlon for quite awhile. Years in fact. A couple of years ago I did a super short race (200m swim, 3 mile bike, 1 mile run) with absolutely no training. It was hot. It was hard. And I loved it…several hours later. I signed up to do one that fall…and again neglected to do any training. I DNF’d after getting horribly sick on the bike.

Fast forward past a few random 5ks. This year I was determined to train quietly, focus on swimming and biking and strength training and attempt racing again next year. Then I went to SE Asia for 10 days and came back 20 pounds lighter. After five years of eating well, training and the extra weight inexplicably refusing to budge, suddenly it’s disappearing at a satisfactory rate. I have no idea why but I feel pretty great so I’m running with it. Um…quite literally.

I’ve never considered myself an athlete (I’m not exactly coordinated) but this year I signed up to play softball (THAT’S a learning curve). And after talking with a friend, I signed up to do the same triathlon I did two years ago, but double the distance. True confession – there’s also a longer version that’s 4x what I originally did. And I was tempted. The race is at the end of July. I have thirteen weeks to train. But given my previous history with training I opted to stick with the middle distance while (VERY) tentatively eyeing another race in mid August with an actual Sprint distance.

Yesterday I went and bought new running shoes. After a couple of years of trying to save money, I have returned to my beloved Brooks Adrenaline line. I also grabbed an extra swim suit & a couple of pairs of capris & shorts that I can run in without them falling off. Hubs pulled out my bikes and aired up the tires.

There is a lot to do. I haven’t run more than a couple of times in…yeah. Long time. I have a road bike with cages on the pedals that I have to learn to ride. (I’m used to a mountain bike with basic flat pedals). And my swim…yikes. My training plan called for 15 mins in the pool this morning. I scoffed. Fifteen minutes. Pfft. I headed to the Y this morning fully expecting to bust out an easy half hour. I did not take into account the fact that at 5:30 in the AM at the Y…the pool is full of ultra intense and serious athletes that don’t even pause in their super fast flip turning laps long enough for someone to ask to share a lane.

It was intimidating. But I was just about to jump in a lane and let the other occupant figure it out when the life guard pointed at a spot for me. I bobbed under the ropes until I got there. The guy in the next lane over was buddies with my lane partner so we switched and I got a lane to myself for approximately two laps. Regardless, I climbed out after fifteen minutes wondering if I had dreamed every other swim I’ve ever done. I’ve never been fast but this was a struggle on an entirely different level. I never did get my breathing rhythm.

Tonight calls for a 20 min run. The wind outside is approaching seemingly hurricane levels so I think I’ll be cheating with a treadmill for this time.



YMCA Fall Sprint Triathlon 10/18/2014

In the Spring and Fall, our local YMCA organization puts on a triathlon where you swim Friday in the nice indoor pool, then start your bike leg on Saturday morning when the clock hits your swim time (and run after that…naturally).

I signed up for the full sprint distance (750m swim/12.5 mi bike/5k run) in August, ready to start training and confident that I would be ready.

Then I promptly hyper-extended my knee and knocked myself out of running (or walking…or standing…)- at all – for the duration of the training period. Confident that bike training would translate to the run, I put in my time there and in the pool.

I projected half an hour for my swim. (I’ve never been fast). I arrived at the pool with time to spare but the woman in the lane before me was going long. I was supposed to start at 7:05pm. About 7:12, she finally finished. I expected to take half an hour and had people due to show up at my house at 8:00. My timer asked if I wanted to do a couple of warm-up laps but I said “Nope. Let’s get this thing started. I have to GO.”

And go I did. Final time was 21:01. I was just a LITTLE happy with that. Seems time in the pool paid off.

I got home with enough time to tell my kiddo my time, get a cheer and high-five….and the admonition of “You need to change; you smell like sweat & chlorine”. I changed, ran a brush through my damp, chlorine infused hair, threw on a headband and greeted my lovely guests. We sat around the table partaking in amazing conversations and laughter and chili and cupcakes.

I slept fitfully but surprisingly woke up with my alarm feeling well rested. I jumped out of bed…and immediately ran to the restroom for the first of multiple times that hour. My body was not happy with something and was determined to eliminate it by any means necessary. I will spare you the graphic details. But as the clock ticked closer to the time I had determined we needed to leave, I was feeling better. I figured there was nothing left in my system (foreshadowing anyone?) and I would be fine once I got going.

TheKid went with me to the race. We got there early and sat in the van to stay warm until it was time to cluster with everyone else outside of the bike racks. As my stomach started to churn and cramp again, I repeated multiple times “This was probably a mistake.” but then chalked it up to nerves and reassured TheKid that I’d “be fine”. He made it his life’s mission to make me laugh and be goofy with him but I didn’t have it in me. I stood huddled in a jacket with the other racers, vacillating between desperately wishing I was still in bed and looking forward to seeing how the bike work paid off.

I quickly realized the work was not going to pay off. At all. After the first slight incline I started checking gears and trying to figure out why the bike wasn’t moving like it should. A few minutes later I realized the bike was fine. I was not. (See above: nothing left in my system) A guy cruised passed me yelling encouragement. I glared at his rapidly disappearing back. A few minutes later a girl passed me, shooting me a concerned look. She wasn’t moving fast and I decided to keep her within chasing distance. She disappeared just as quickly and not long after, I found out there wasn’t food left in my system so my body was going to eliminate water too. Yay. No fuel. No hydration. It’s the stuff of legendary bonks.

The bike course was 12.5 miles, mostly a square but with two little out and back additions. By the time I got to the first one, I was barely staying hydrated, barely moving and could only focus on my front wheel and the white line. I told the race official “I’m not going to be able to run. And I am most definitely not doing the extra mileage. I’m going back to the start as quickly as possible.” He waved me through, I hiccuped through a few quiet sobs and continued trying to find a gear that didn’t feel like I was pedaling through quick sand.

I spent the rest of the (approximately) 10 miles desperately trying not to weave all over the place because the truck of volunteers picking up cones was following me, very obviously keeping an eye on me. And I was determined that I was going to roll back in under my own power, not in the bed of a truck. That (approximate) 10 miles felt like 100. And felt like I was climbing a steep grade the whole time. It was a miserable long morning. But when I (finally) rolled back into transition, gross, defeated & destroyed, long after everyone else was out on their run, TheKid was standing there waiting. And as soon as I came into view he started jumping up and down and cheering “THAT’S MY MAMA! GOOOOO MOM!” And somehow, that made it better.

I checked in with the race director to make sure she knew my status and that I did not actually complete the bike portion. And then we started the limp to the van. A friend was there watching and he came over to say “hi” and see how I felt. I know we talked. But all I really remember was trying to hand TheKid my bike then realizing I wasn’t sure I could walk entirely un-aided. But by the time TheKid pulled the van into the driveway, I was starting to second guess myself. I had been sitting for a bit, re-hydrating and only slightly nauseous. Then I tried to stand upright, the world tilted alarmingly and I found myself slumped against the side of the vehicle. Soooo yeah. Probably a good thing I stopped when I did.

Surprisingly, it’s only twelve hours since I first arrived at the race site and I feel quite human again. I showered and slept for a couple of hours. I met some friends at a pizza joint to celebrate birthdays and while I avoided pizza, the bread sticks were the BEST THING EVER. I’m able to drink water without my stomach complaining and cramping. And I have realized, as frustrating and painful as the day was, a lot of good came from it too:

1. I realized I do not regret the attempt. At all. I probably would not have been nearly as sick if I had not pushed myself. But if I didn’t start, I would have always second guessed myself.

2. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in training and goals. Those can become so much a part of my identity that I start to weave my own self-worth into them. Having my day destroyed by circumstances  (mostly) outside of my control made me re-evaluate. I could have had a total melt-down, beat myself up, hid in bed, etc. I was on the razor’s edge when I passed the point of no return at that first out and back. As soon I skipped that mileage, I solidified my DNF. And I did cry. I could have easily ridden the spiral down into the pits of disappointment, embarrassment and despair. That incriminating internal voice was ready to deliver be-ratings, to cover me in the labels of “failure” and “worthless” and “hopeless”.  Or. I could embrace the fact that this was my experience for the day. It was painful, and yes – embarrassing. But I could decide how it defines and impacts me. I could take the lessons given to me (don’t eat chili the night before a race?), accept that this was the race I had to give and move on. That’s not to say that I didn’t have to battle that nasty little voice. There were definitely moments I considered sitting down on the side of the road and calling TheKid to come get me. And when I had to get off and walk up a fairly small incline because I could not physically push the pedals in the easiest gear I had…well….I was NOT saying anything positive in that moment…either verbally or mentally.

There are times I can honestly say  I was physically doing everything I possibly could…and there are moments I look back and wonder…maybe…did I have a little extra speed in me? But in the end, my child cheered un-embarrassed, despite the situation. And this afternoon I sat surrounded by friends who, when hearing that I did not finish, simply said “I’m so sorry. How are you doing now?” They were not disappointed IN me. They were disappointed FOR me. They do not love me any less and the only way a race is going to impact our relationship is if I let training take priority over them.

My legs are absolutely destroyed. It’s oddly a reassurance that my body really was as thrashed as it felt at the time. I’m giving myself today and tomorrow to lick my wounds, bandage my pride and recover. Monday I’ll be back in the pool. Next week I’ll be back on two wheels. I have the winter to add in strength training & yoga and dial in nutrition. I’ll build a solid base and Spring Sprint, I’ll have my redemption on that course.

Done and done

In keeping with my annual tradition, I am NOT posting a resolutions or wrap up post. That’s just an awful lot of work and I’m coming off a week of vacation. And to give you an idea of what my vacation entailed – I happily rolled out of bed at 9:30 one morning and announced to my husband “I set two goals for today! Sleep until at least 9:00am and shower. Half way there!” The pride he exuded was overwhelming. That’s the same day he told me he was going to Krav and I blankly stared at him from my comfy chair, under my heated blanket with my cup of coffee. And he came home to me laying in the floor, playing on my phone, with my feet propped on the wall.

But lest you think I was a total lazy bum – I got up Christmas eve and had breakfast with a friend. We jokingly called it our “first date” because we’ve always done stuff with our families and husbands. It was our first time hanging out just us and it was wonderful. Thursday I helped another friend pack her kitchen. Friday night we went to look at the Christmas lights at the Botanical garden with the breakfast friend & her hubby. Saturday we helped the earlier packing friend (and her family) move, then went to watch the first friend’s daughter play soccer (indoor), then went to another friendly family’s house to watch the UFC fights (did you SEE that leg break? ACK!). Yesterday was our fourth annual family movie marathon so….um….I sat under my heated blanket for approximately 12 hours watching Vin Diesel and Paul Walker drive fast cars. See? Not a totally wasted break.

If I had to sum up this year in one word, I’d have to use “friendship”. We spent a lot of time with those we love, becoming closer to established relationships and developing new ones. We started practicing Krav Maga – another fairly big step for us – but even that I would say falls under the friendship umbrella. We got into it through a friend and have made (and continue to make) new ones in the gym. In fact, I would argue that it’s the relationships that often get me in the doors & onto the mats, not any energy on my part. And now my husband has a membership so we’ll be on the mats together that much more…and that thrills me to no end.

I do have a few goals going into January:

1. Stick to the running plan that my Krav coach gives me. (She’s truly a woman of many talents.) And, um, don’t die in the first month of it.

2. Only post positive words on the internet. No complaining or whining etc. Just positivity. (Is too a word! That red squiggly line means nothing. Nothing.) But not be annoying about it. And the above goal about not dying? That’s positive. Not dying is positive.

That’s it. That’s it for January. Because as we saw in the first paragraph, I dream big.

Three Things Thursday – Goals

Before yesterday it had been several months since I’d even looked at this space. I knew once upon a time I had these things called “goals” but for the life of me I couldn’t remember what they were. So, for fun, I decided to take a look at where I was in December/January.

  1. Continue with the swimming but embrace taking steps backwards to eventually move forward. I.E. – slow down, not worry about a “workout” and focus on form.  My form did get slightly better. And I certainly did not get faster.
  2. Actually DO THE STRENGTH TRAINING. Twice a week. Even if it’s just 15 mins of body weight work. – Nope. I don’t think I managed this at all. Maybe a once a week for a little bit.
  3. That whole grain free thing I mentioned earlier. I’m actually pretty excited about this one! – I did this for awhile.  It was hard inconvenient. But honestly? I enjoyed it.  A lot. I felt better…until I didn’t. When I went through another period of semi-severe stomach issues, all that “felt good” (ie…didn’t make me hurt) was white bread. And soda. So yeah.
  4. Make the doctor’s appointment. – Yes. Ad nauseum. I’ve been, what? Four? Six times? This year. And apparently there’s nothing wrong with me except for high blood pressure. Which I’m now on meds for. Hello middle age. I wasn’t expecting you quite so soon. But the exhaustion? The stomach pains? No answers. At all. And while I can explain being TIRED right now, the bone deep fatigue/lack of strength/random stomach pains/inability to function is NOT normal or right.  I’m weary, not depressed (despite my doctor’s repeated attempts to convince me otherwise). Completely sane? That remains to be seen.
  5. Get cute new glasses. I’ve had my current frames approximately ten years. I’m not even kidding. Done!
  6. Don’t start prepping/planning for the new semester immediately. Enjoy downtime a little longer. Read for fun some more. – I honestly don’t remember when I started prepping for the new semester. Maybe a week beforehand? I did drop a class though. I just couldn’t handle the load this time. And you have no idea how painful that was for me to admit initially.
New glasses

New glasses

And lest you think I have forgotten about the title of this post, I (conveniently) have three goals for April. The nature of goals may have changed somewhat in the last few months but they simmer in my head nonetheless.

  1. Attempt grain free again. If my stomach flares back up severely, it might be a connection to consider. (I have no idea what kind of connection.) 
  2. Move. Don’t worry about scheduled, intense workouts. Hike, enjoy swimming some laps, do some push ups, whatever. But just move.
  3. Live “normally” for whatever that day’s “normal” entails. If I feel like pushing for a new time record up Tablerock, go for it without fear of what I might feel like the next day. If I feel like a low key walk, enjoy it.  If I can barely move off the couch, nap guilt free. In other words, I neither want to live in fear of what I might feel like nor live in guilt for how I currently feel. 

That’s that…

I love fresh starts whether they come in the form of a brand new notebook & pen, a Monday or a new year. They’re crisp and exciting and open to whatever possibilities can be dreamt. That being said, I’m not doing a year in review post. And I’m not doing a 2013 res0lutions post. Because….blah. That’s about the extent of my reasoning. I checked. I didn’t do one last year too so maybe I can just say this is my tradition? I won’t lie. I have some vague ideas about what I’d like to accomplish but right now they mainly consist of things like “sleep” and “keep my toes safe from the new kitten”. Oh. And painting my nails. That definitely makes the list. If I were to choose a “word of the year” (and I won’t because that would mean a follow up post later and we all know THAT’S unlikely), I think it would be “health”. There are no fitness or performance goals. I simply want to have a balanced, healthy (across all spheres) year.

That being said – I do love my lists. So let’s take a look at December goals. (*gasp*…a follow up post!!)

  1. Chill. Out.  – No problems here! I baked cookies. Once. Because it sounded fun. We went to dinner with friends a few times. I did necessary chores (laundry, grocery shopping). Otherwise…sleep. Books. Kitten cuddle time. That’s it.
  2. Swim three times a week and do strength training two – three times a week. Swimming – good! Strength training. Yeah…not so much
  3. Except for the week of Christmas. That week I refer you back to #1. Again, I refer you back to my response for #1. Three hour nap. Multiple books read. Plenty of movies and “Firefly” episodes watched. This one was a resounding success.
  4. Actually study for finals. This one is a mixed bag. I studied for what I needed to. But when I realized that my A&P grade was going to be a B regardless of what I scored on the final, my brain shut down.
  5. Make an appointment with an endocrinologist. Made the call. Was told I needed a referral. Not surprised.

So. January goals.

  1. Continue with the swimming but embrace taking steps backwards to eventually move forward. I.E. – slow down, not worry about a “workout” and focus on form.
  2. Actually DO THE STRENGTH TRAINING. Twice a week. Even if it’s just 15 mins of body weight work.
  3. That whole grain free thing I mentioned earlier. I’m actually pretty excited about this one!
  4. Make the doctor’s appointment.
  5. Get cute new glasses. I’ve had my current frames approximately ten years. I’m not even kidding.
  6. Don’t start prepping/planning for the new semester immediately. Enjoy downtime a little longer. Read for fun some more.

And that’s that. Happy  New Year!

December Goals

It startles me every once in awhile, when I glance at my calendar or the date on my phone and see “December”.  I don’t know why. The year didn’t seem like it went by too quickly, although I admit, I never felt like we got a summer. Not really. And now, suddenly, it’s the holiday season. And yet it wasn’t sudden at all.

We decorated this weekend, as much as I’m going to anyway. I put out some of our/my favorite things but didn’t want to clutter the house with a multitude of decorations. I’m happy with just some highlights this year. I still need to put up some mistletoe for the boys to avoid but otherwise, I think I’m done. Now I just need to plan and execute the rest of the details. Which brings me to (dumdumDUM) my December goals!

  1. Chill. Out. No, really. I’m downsizing my goody tray & Christmas card lists this year. I’ve pared down a little each year anyway. This year, I’ll do a tray for my office and a goody bag for a few people/families. That’s it. I’ll get to enjoy it without being totally overwhelmed. I downsized my decorating too. This is a happy season! I intend to relax.
  2. Swim three times a week and do strength training two – three times a week. I have arbitrarily decided to focus on those for the winter. I’ll use a treadmill on Tuesdays when I meet the hubs at the YMCA. And I won’t rule out additional sessions if it sounds fun. But no forcing it and no treadmill at the expense of swimming & weights.
  3. Except for the week of Christmas. That week I refer you back to #1. The whole family will be out of school/off work. If we make it to the gym, great. But I won’t be setting my alarm or cutting short family activities to make it happen. I just want to enjoy the break from work and school. Which brings me to my next one…
  4. Actually study for finals. No cramming the last couple of days in hopes to squeak by with a passing grade. I want to spend quality time reviewing. (And in some cases, learning material I’ve skimmed just enough to pass a quiz) (Or not pass as the case may have been.)
  5. Make an appointment with an endocrinologist. I have the name and number. I just have to make the call.

I didn’t make any November goals to review. But I’ll let you know how I did on these….next year.