The moment I realized I’m really an athlete…and my first 10k

I completed my first 10k last weekend (Sept 23, 2017). It was an amazing experience and much easier than I expected. But oddly, that wasn’t the moment I realized I was an athlete. Nope.

Wednesday was a perfectly gorgeous day. Jon and I were driving home from work and passed a guy out for a run. I found that I was ENVIOUS. But I had women coming over for a book study that evening and did not have time to squeeze in a run AND prepare for them. Or at least not enough time to do both and shower. My goal was to be welcoming and that would have been the opposite. But anyway. Still not the moment.

Yesterday was a perfectly gorgeous day. Jon was heading to a concert with friends and I had promised the youngest we would go out for dinner before tackling school work. At dinner I checked the time for sunset and found that it was still an hour and half away. Back home, I got Lilbit started on his paper, changed and finally got outside for a run. My activity tracker was running but there was no Garmin on my wrist, largely displaying my pace. There were no split times coming through my headphones. There was no timer telling me when to run and when to walk. I did not have a time or a distance goal. It was just the road, how I felt, and music. I returned home feeling much lighter. At least emotionally. And that’s when I realized. I don’t have to qualify my label as an athlete with additions like “slow” or “clumsy” or …whatever. I just went for a run. Not because it was on a training schedule or because I have an event. I unplugged and went simply for the joy of it. And that alone makes me a runner. I already do that with swimming but for some reason that did not impact me like that run did.

The 10k. Ah. I was a little tight and sore last night after two miles so maybe I’m not completely recovered. But the race was a wonderful experience. I really had no idea what to expect. My longest training run had been four miles and that was painful. Of course it was also 90 degrees. The temperature at race start time was forecasted to be 38 degrees. And I don’t really do cold. Eventually I decided that if it was raining, I wasn’t going but if not, I would brave the chill knowing I should warm up within a few miles.

Prepping for the race the night before was odd. I’ve only set up for triathlons lately so only having to set out stuff for one sport, and the one that requires the least amount of equipment, was a bit disconcerting. I kept walking back over to my clothes and saying “Clothes, shoes, race number….that’s really it huh?” It was actually even easier than packing to go the gym before work! I went to bed at a decent hour and proceeded to have nightmares all night. I couldn’t tie my shoes. My shoes were too big. I was wearing flip flops or sandals. There were like 20 laces in each shoe….so I couldn’t tie them. Again. I missed the race start. All. Night. Long. My brain can be weird.

Race morning was pretty non-eventful. It was cold but once we were all in start corrals it wasn’t too bad. I sat with a girl on the shuttle to the start and chatted with her. Somehow out of the thousands of people, I ended up standing next to her in the start corral (I ended up in the 15+ min pace corral. That was a <very minor> mistake on my part). She started to take a selfie and I leaned in over her shoulder and smiled. She turned so I wouldn’t be in the shot. Guess we didn’t bond as much as I thought.

The race actually started on time. Everyone I talked to said they were notorious for starting late so I was glad to realize we would get started when expected. It took about a minute and a half to actually cross the start line but then the crowd spread out pretty quickly. I decided not to use my timer app since but since headphones were allowed, I turned on some music, put in one ear bud and decided to run a song/walk a song. That worked out really well. At one point I frantically thought “I am NOT WARMING UP!” then realized only about ten minutes had passed. I spent most of the first mile weaving around and passing people. My first mile pace was 12 mins. And let me tell you, that is fast for me. I’ve seen that pace only a couple of other times, when I was only out for a mile or two and was pushing pretty hard. I knew I needed to pull it back but I didn’t feel like I was putting out that much effort. And I still wasn’t warm.

By mile 2 I had unzipped my jacket about halfway and had settled in with the people I would stay with through most of the race. At the mile 3 aid station I stopped briefly to take off my jacket and tie it around my waist. And then realized I felt really good and was excited to keep going. Normally at mile 3 I’m hating life and glad that I only signed up for a 5k. Between mile 4 & 5 (or somewhere in there) starts an uphill climb. I did not do ANY hill training so I had already planned to walk that. I did. And I was perfectly fine with that. Approaching mile 5 I started running again. A woman I had been leap-frogging with the whole time was passing me again and I happened to actually look directly at her at the same time she looked over at me. We recognized each other from triathlon training and she asked how I was feeling. I shrugged and said “I feel good….REALLY good actually!” I was shocked to realize we were approaching the last, literal downhill, stretch. And I felt amazing. About a quarter mile later my hips started to complain a bit but nothing that hindered me. Just a noticeable little complaint. And then suddenly, I was down the hill and entering the finishing chute….and my left calf cramped up. My first thought was “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!?” My second was a mental comment directly to my leg. “Well. You are just going to have to work this out on your own because I am NOT stopping for you. We are almost done and we are running this in so deal with it.”

57969690_race_0.04274186802516955.display

And….obviously my leg and I were still having that battle to the bitter end. But when I crossed the line I still thought “That was easy!” immediately followed by “Whose thought was that? Why would I think something so disgusting?!!? But maybe I could do a half in the spring….”

I have since ordered a race fuel belt that will hold my race numbers (great for tri) but I don’t have to carry a water bottle in my hand (awkward). So I guess I’m serious about doing more of these crazy things.

Total time 1:20:44, average pace was approximately 13 mins/mile. What?!!? I have no idea how I maintained that pace over 6.2 miles. And still felt GOOD.

Y Not Tri 2017 Bike and Run

Bike – 6 miles/3 laps (27:42)

This is the part I improved the most on. I was significantly faster this year. Apparently training works! Whoa! Bob blew past me towards the start of lap two and I whoo-hooed and then didn’t see him again until he was starting to head back in on loop 3 and I was about to make the turn around.

I don’t have much else to say about the bike actually. It was pretty fun…definitely more so than last year. Being able to drink on the bike is a game changer. But on lap three I thought “I’ll never do the double sprint cause I don’t think I could handle another three of these laps.” I really like the location overall. It’s convenient and easy for spectators. I like swimming at Quinn’s and running on the Greenbelt. There’s plenty of the room on the bike course, it’s flat and it’s not totally ugly. I like riding through where we start because the spectators are there. But otherwise I do get a bit bored with it. Maybe if I get faster…

T2 (unknown)

I dismounted my bike and was running into transition when I saw another friend. We met at the first little tri I did and hanging with her helped calm my nerves a lot. I was very excited and gave her a high five,vtripping over my bike a bit in the process (also on video). Otherwise T2 was uneventful. Racked my bike, switched my helmet for my hat and ran out. My race bib ripped when I tried to  move it from the back to the front so I just held it with my water bottle. I high fived Lynette and ran on out.

Run – 2 miles (28:08)

I realized real quick that the run was going to be difficult. I had pushed harder on the bike than usual and I think I started too fast on the run. I couldn’t calm my heart rate or breathing down. I did a walk/run thing the whole way and it got better. I saw another woman I met training. She was doing the longer course and on her way back in. She cheered and that was a help. I wasn’t expecting to see her so that was a fun surprise. Then I saw Stephanie finishing up her run and that was a big boost for me. I couldn’t run Bob down though. I saw him at the turn around. He was probably only 200 yards ahead of me at that point but I waved and shook my head and said “I’m not going to catch you today.” And I didn’t. But I was just done. I still ran some but I walked more. With about half a mile to go, I started leap frogging with a girl. She got ahead of me and I could tell she had more to give but within sight of the finish line, she started walking. A guy came running up and told her they were running in. I yelled “Are you really going to let me run you down NOW? Really?” She started laughing, took off and finished strong.

I ran in as well but I didn’t feel like I finished as strong. But The Hubby has video and I look much better than I felt. I was even smiling so even though part of me was trying to say I was never racing again, I obviously had fun.

I met up with my friends but we left quickly after that. LilBit was out there too and he was, as The Hubby said, “having attitude issues”. We woke him up early to go outside, without a screen in sight and surrounded by people being active. I’m pretty sure it was his Worst. Morning. Ever. (Also, he’s 14 years old now and hates being called LilBit but I haven’t come up with a new blog name for him yet.) I checked results on the way home (yay technology!) and found that I was fourth in my age group. By THREE SECONDS. Three. Freakin. Seconds. I thought at first that those three seconds were the girl I encouraged in ahead of me but then realized it wasn’t. In The Hubby’s video, a man and woman fly past me right at the finish line. I didn’t even see or hear them at the time. I had put my head down and was just finishing. But it had to have been her. Stephanie and Bob both podium-ed in their age groups/fields. We could have made it three for three. I keep thinking “I had four seconds in me somewhere.” And physically I probably did. I just have to learn to “suffer” a little more, embrace the discomfort. It’s not worth dwelling on though.

My goal was to beat my time from last year and I did that by 9 minutes and 51 seconds. There will always be things to work on and improve. I know what to focus on next. I had fun and made new friends that I can continue to train with. I was reminded just how fortunate I am to have The Hubby’s love and support and the wonderful friends I am surrounded by. I can’t really ask for a better race than that.

YNotTri2017 Run

Y Not Tri 2017 – Prelim and Swim

YNotTri2017 Training partners back

My training partners and I pre-race. (I’m in the middle)

I felt like I didn’t have much to say about this race. And then I started typing and I do. Of course I do. I always have a lot to say.

I really only had one goal and that was to do better than last year. In 2016 I finished third from the bottom in my entire field. But I can’t control how OTHER people perform. I could have a good day but if everyone else has a stellar day I could STILL finish at the bottom. All I could focus on was my own time so that’s what I tried to do.

But let’s get straight to it. Here’s the overview/comparison if you don’t want to wade through the minutiae of my thoughts and details of each part of the race.

  • Overall place 61/78 (2016 was 99/101)
  • Overall female place 29/45 (2016 was 49/51)
  • Age Group place 4/7 (by THREE SECONDS…we’ll get to that next post) (2016 was 15/17) (Also, I aged into a new age group this year…)
  • Time – I beat my overall 2016 time by 9:51.

I’ve mentioned this before but I actually trained this year. I hit most of my scheduled work outs and when I had to switch things up, I made sure to prioritize my bike/run. I’m not strong on any of the three disciplines but if I’m more comfortable anywhere, it’s in the water. My hubby made sure my bike was always in good working order and supported the time away from home. Pulse Running and Fitness Shop hosted their fantastic training group again this year and their coaching, encouragement and support were invaluable. And the people training with me…fantastic.

Stephanie (the other woman in the above picture) did the longer course so she started an hour before us. I had so much fun spectating and cheering for her while we could. I was with my coaches and Bob (the guy in the picture) and we sang and danced and cheered and stalked a random woman to try and read the tattoo on her back (okay only one of us did that…and it wasn’t me this time!) All in all, it was the most fun I’ve ever had pre-race…probably because I wasn’t a bundle of nerves this time. They say to “trust your training”. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to have training to trust!

Right before we started I saw my friend Lynette. She’s a beast of a triathlete but is having surgery soon so she’s out for the season. But she showed up for support and my heart just leapt when I saw her then and every time I saw her on the course. I don’t know if spectators understand what a difference it makes for a racer (or at least this one) to see friendly faces and hear beloved voices out on the course. It’s nice when anyone cheers for you but when it’s a friend, family or your spouse, it just gives you that much more of a boost. I was privileged to have multiple friends/coaches/training partners AND my husband out there. And that was probably the best part.

YNotTri2017 Lynette and I

Lynette and I. We’re adorable. Sadly I didn’t get a pic with The Hubby.

I only had one goal but my plan for the day was a little more involved than “beat my time”. I’m usually a stronger swimmer than Bob but he’s a much stronger biker than me (we’re pretty similar on the run). So my plan was to get out of the water far enough ahead of him that he wouldn’t blow past me immediately on the bike and then I could catch him on the run. Oh…and he knew about that plan. I might have lamented that I should have painted the bottom of my feet for him to chase….

On to the swim…

400 yard swim (12:11)

Here’s the thing. We’ve done multiple open water swims this year. And almost every one was longer than 400 yards. I’m comfortable in the water. I’m not fast but I KNEW that I could handle this distance. But having unfamiliar people around totally changes my mentality. It’s happened every time. And several people around me were flipping to their backs and gasping which I let distract me. I never panicked but I did find myself switching to my side when physically I didn’t actually need to. In fact, I think I tired myself MORE by doing that instead of just finding my rhythm and focusing on it.  I beat my time from last year but barely. I know I could shave that time down, even without additional physical training, by just controlling the whole mental part better. Ultimately, I didn’t drown. And I did beat Bob out of the water (although I would have cheered SO HARD if that was reversed). So I have a few observations to prepare better but I’m not upset. Oh! You had to step up to get out of the water. I could see it but couldn’t tell how high it was. And I totally biffed it. I was fine. The Hubby has it on video and I’m totally cracking up as I’m running up the ramp.

YNotTri2017 Post Swim

T1 (unknown)

My transition times weren’t recorded. I was here a few minutes. I actually sat down and wiped off my feet and put my socks/shoes on. I didn’t rush but I wasn’t leisurely. Bob came in as I was un-racking my bike and I yelled “DAMMIT! Take your time!” but honestly, I’m SO proud of how well he did! And then I was off to get on the bike…

Ground Zero

I’ve debated writing about this. On one hand, it’s not a big deal. On the other hand, it kinda is.

Earlier this year I felt fantastic. I was playing softball and training for a triathlon. Weight was finally dropping, I was getting faster, my energy levels were great.

Then I had blood work done to check my chronically low Vitamin D levels and was diagnosed as severely diabetic.

This year. It’s been a journey of meds and lifestyle changes. Of feeling terrible to feeling normal to feeling terrible again. Of finding out I could “do everything right” and my body still would not respond.

For the record – it is really difficult to stick with the whole strict lifestyle when you feel worse AND your body doesn’t respond.

My mental/emotional journey has not been linear. I have been mad. I checked all the right boxes and my body betrayed me anyway. I have been ashamed. Obviously I *DIDN’T* take care of myself and made myself sick. I have been discouraged and sad. What I do doesn’t matter; all my goals are out of reach and my life is now defined by this. I have been hyper focused and determined. I can eat perfect and work out harder than before; I can reverse this. It changes from week to week – sometimes from day to day. And I’ve found that how I feel physically greatly impacts my mental state. Since I have spent the past couple of months dealing with fatigue and nausea (yay supplemental meds), the mental battle has been the main one I’ve fought. Discouragement stalks me on a regular basis. I’m not ready to succumb completely.

I spend a lot of time on the couch right now (see above: fatigue). I have been forced to slow down (stop) and re-evaluate. I’m finally accepting that the goals, plans and priorities I had for this year, and the foreseeable future, are irrelevant. That leaves a void. I don’t know that I’ve ever stared in the future with absolutely NO idea of how I was going to proceed, with a complete absence of an objective.

Right now the only thing I am ready to commit to is getting my brain back in this whole fighting for my health thing. I haven’t given up. Not completely. But I haven’t been as focused and strict as I could be. Maybe I’ll up my reading and writing game again too. We’ll see.

Y Not Tri 2016 – Preamble, set up and swim report

I honestly did not intend to sign up for any races this year at all. Nope. Wasn’t in my game plan. I had my year planned out and it consisted of relaxed, low key, workouts that vaguely focused on strength training and yoga. But for some indecipherable reason, if something sounds scary or hard, my usual reaction is “I need to do that.” I’m going back to school this fall and was told I didn’t need to take micro-biology for this particular degree path. My immediate reaction “But I WANTED to take it!” I’m uncoordinated and nonathletic and yet I signed up for softball last spring. And after talking to a friend in April, I signed up for the middle distance of the Y Not Tri (400 meter swim, 6 mi bike, 2 mi run). Also – I am quite susceptible to peer pressure. 😛

I did this race two years ago (except I did the version half the distance of what I did this year). I was pretty confident about it. I actually trained somewhat and while I knew I would not be taking any podium spots, I knew I would finish. The Pulse Running and Fitness shop puts together a FANTASTIC training group each year. (Seriously, these people are phenomenal) I managed to make it to some sessions with them, including a run through of the full race the Tuesday before. On my own I spent a lot of time in the pool. My run is stronger than ever. My bike….well…I know how to ride a bike….My goal was just to finish strong and feel like I had given what I had to give that day.

Part One – Set up

I wish I could say my confidence remained strong. However, I didn’t sleep well the night before and woke that morning slightly terrified.  We got to the race site just over an hour early so I could have plenty of time to set up and get ready. I met up with the training group, found a couple of other women were as nervous as I was and promptly calmed down. It’s not that I WANTED them to be nervous. I sincerely wanted each and every one of them to have an amazing morning. But misery loves company and knowing they were nervous normalized my anxiety. We talked, we joked, we had our numbers written on us, we walked down to check out the swim course. Standing on the shore, looking out at the buoys marking the course, I smiled at someone next to me and said “Oh we’ve GOT this.”

Part Two – Swim, 400 meters, 13:04

I got in the water about 5 minutes early to adjust, along with the women from the training group. We positioned ourselves towards the back of the pack – exactly where I wanted to be. I looked out over the crowd in front of us, to the buoys that suddenly looked very VERY far away. I had a flash back to the open water swim on Tuesday night. Someone yells “Are you ready?!!?” and I whimpered “No, no I’m not.” Someone from our group said “Yes you are. You’ve got this.” And then we were off. Kinda. I swear the first quarter of the swim felt like I was pulling just as  hard as I could…and going backwards. After what felt like forever, I glanced over and noticed someone who is a MUCH stronger swimmer than me was on her back. It was with great relief that I switched from the hybrid front crawl/dog paddle I was attempting to the side stroke. My breathing evened out, I started feeling like I might be making SOME progress and suddenly we were at the first buoy. I decided to try and actually swim again when suddenly I was incredibly hemmed in. There was a guy practically on top of my right side and someone kept smacking my feet. We were at the back of the pack, there should have been plenty of room but I couldn’t seem to get away from the woman on my left (sorry Amber). The guy on my right would move away, I would try to pull away from Amber and a few strokes later, we would be on top of each other again. And still, right behind me…”smack….smack….smack….” Dude. Back off or go around. I’m not moving fast enough for you to get ANY advantage being behind me. I couldn’t breath and resigned myself to side stroking the entire distance. At some point I gave a firm kick and whoever was behind me backed off. FINALLY somewhere between the 3rd and 4th buoy space started opening up and I felt like I was getting a rhythm.  I still had to be super aware or I would drift to the left and start to crowd Kim (Sorry Kim) (Amber had pulled ahead somewhere in the chaos). Dude on my right was doing the same thing to me so the last hundred meters or so was punctuated by calls of “Sorry!” as we tried not to swim over each other.  FINALLY I touched bottom and stood up. I was woozy but managed to high five a friend without falling over and jog most of the way up to transition until the rocks were too painful and I had to do the weird prancing, tip toe thing to the bike rack. I decided if the swim had taken less than 20 minutes, I would be happy. I felt like we had been out there at LEAST half an hour. So I was surprised to see under 15 minutes.

 

 

Tri 2016 Training – weeks 2 & 3

Well. The house we’re renting is being sold so we’re preparing to move. We don’t have a “drop dead date” to be out. We also aren’t 100% certain where we’re going yet although we have several leads. We considered buying but have pretty compelling personal reasons why that’s not the best idea right now…the least of which is financial surprisingly enough. Our landlords are great and I totally understand why they’re selling. Please don’t think I’m in any way upset. However, adding the fun of packing and keeping a house “show ready” while we’re still living here does create a bit of a hiccup in training. I’m training for a triathlon. And I am also playing softball. That’s four sports worth of equipment and clothing that I’m using which means my laundry room and bathroom often have more of a locker room aura than one might particularly enjoy. Not only that but packing is time consuming and, depending on what is being packed/purged/cleaned, tiring.

All that to say, my training the past couple of weeks has taken a bit of a hit. I started packing in earnest this last week so I only trained once. It was a quality session though. I met with a training group that a local running store puts together every year. We met at the pool and I was able to get some critique on my swim form! I was so excited. The coach corrected my head position and my breathing technique. I don’t rotate fully and she said I “frog legged” when I turned to breathe. She demonstrated on the deck and I can only HOPE she was as amused watching me as it was to watch her imitate me. She had several of us work with a swim buoy and I ended the first lap laughing. At the time I described it as “fantastically awkward”. Just focusing on correcting those small things was exhausting! And difficult. I felt like I was learning to swim all over again! We ran a (very painful) mile afterwards. I was the last one in but didn’t even care. I was so happy to get home, shower and sleep but thoroughly enjoyed meeting with them. I’m looking forward to the next one.

The rest of the week consisted of packing, softball and friends. However, I’m in a good spot with the whole packing thing so my focus will be much more on swim/bike/run this week.

Tri 2016 Training – week 1

Well folks. I survived week 1 of training. I can’t say I stuck with the plan 100%. I replaced one of the biking session with a Spin class. And I chose to not do the other bike and one of the shorter runs. Those were very calculated decisions that I have not once second guessed or regretted. Friday I planned a 20 minute run at lunch. I was struggling with low energy all morning and walked across the street to get coffee. The wind was whipping, it was cold and I almost started crying at the very idea of running later…outside, treadmill, whatever. I was just TIRED. So I made the decision to not run. I had a softball game that evening and didn’t get into bed until later but I optimistically set my alarm for 7:00am to get in a ride Saturday morning before all our plans for the day.

My husband woke me up at 9:00am. I use my phone as my alarm and it lays on the floor next to the bed. Hubby said when HE woke up, I was still laying halfway out of bed, my hand on the phone. I turned off my alarm and IMMEDIATELY fell back asleep without getting back in bed. Apparently? My body was determined to sleep. I also managed a two hour nap both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. So no. I think nixing those two small workouts were the best call. Especially since I woke refreshed and ready to roll at 4:00am this morning. And the race is still 2.5 months out.