And that’s a wrap

Last year I went and watched some friends race in the Emmett Most Excellent Triathlon. I was kinda kicking around the idea of doing it but wanted to see the set up first. The whole thing was exciting so I decided then to do it this year. At the time, I expected to be out on the course with my several different friends and training partners and my husband to be my cheering section (and sherpa). As it turns out, one friend was injured and couldn’t train or race this season. A local trail race changed the weekend it was held and conflicted with Emmett and all of my regular training partners had already signed up for that one before they realized the conflict. And then my husband had to travel for work. Triathlon is essentially a single person sport. You can race it as a relay team but even then, you are on your own for whatever piece you’re doing. You are responsible for your own performance. You are ultimately responsible for your training. But. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, is that you’re never alone. And that community is a big part of what keeps me coming back.

Earlier this week I put out a plea on Facebook for someone to do one last open water swim with me. A woman I met a few years ago through the Pulse training group not only agreed to go out with me, she put together a whole group, complete with kayak support. And then she stuck with me the whole time even though she could have easily left me in her wake and swam twice as far as me. That same group of people were at the race today and offered up support, encouragement and cheers throughout the day.

This morning I got to the parking lot to load my bike on the transports up to T1. I had ridden briefly last night to check my tires and felt fine with them then. But Jon always airs them up for me and I’m notorious for thinking they’re fine when they’re a bit mushy. As I pulled my bike out this morning, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the fact that HE WASN’T THERE. A friend was coming to meet and support me but at that moment, I just wanted my husband to reassure me that the bike was fine. I stood staring at my tires for a moment, second guessing if they were really okay and trying to talk myself out of crying. An older couple were unpacking next to me. He glanced over and then asked if he could check and air up my tires for me. I nearly burst into those tears and instead word vomited all over them. “Yes! My husband usually takes care of this but had to fly out of the country and I’m suddenly freaking out a little not having him here and I’ll know I’ll be fine but I don’t know if my bike is or not and I really want him here…” The husband calmly took my bike and then wife proceeded to talk me down. We turned out to have quite a bit of common interests and friends. It was a big “small world” moment and incredibly reassuring to me. I felt like God put them specifically in my path to remind me that He’s still caring for me, even in these relatively trivial moments. And then the wife touched base with me several times throughout the morning until she saw I had other people around me.

I was setting up my bike transition and a woman near me started up a conversation. We stood and talked about 15 minutes, like we had known each other for years. She cheered for me, by name, when she passed me on the course later. And we talked afterwards, when we saw each other at our cars.

I had numerous mini conversations and encouraging words from random athletes on the course. I may have not had my usual training partners and friends to chase down but I was surrounded by people who bond over this crazy sport and who, inevitably, make sure no one is alone. It’s an incredible community.

But. Can I tell you the REAL heroes? They’re the friends and family that don’t bond over this crazy sport. They find it only mildly interesting and only because they love me. And yet they listen patiently as I discuss times and training sessions and various other triathlon related minutia. They forgive me missing events and social outings and conversations because I’m training or sleeping. They show up early on Saturday mornings and stand for several hours in the heat just to yell my name for a few seconds (and hold my stuff). My husband supports me taking hours away from our weekends for bike rides and swims. He endures weeks of sub-par, quick dinners because I have to get in a run after work and pauses his schedule to do bike maintenance on MY schedule. These dear people. They did not choose triathlon but they patiently endure it.

I stood in cold water at 9:35 this morning and crossed the finish line one hour and fifty eight minutes later, finishing out my 2017 triathlon season. No one else swam that course for me. No one else pedaled my bike or took even one of the steps away from me for 3.1 miles. No one else put in the training for me. But when I crossed the line today, it was to wrap up a season that was ONLY made possible due to the people around me.

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.

Y Not Tri?

Today we take a brief break from the Filipino discussion:

I’ve wanted to do a triathlon for awhile now. The only problem(s)? My swim form is UGLY (and I’m slow…). I’m not totally comfortable on a bike (and slow). I keep trying to fall in love with running but so far it’s, at best, a tumultuous relationship (and I’m slow…). Oh…and the idea of figuring out logistics of transitions? Terrified me. But despite all that, the idea of putting all those difficult elements together seemed, dare I say, fun! So in a move that made absolutely no logical sense, I signed up for the Y Not Tri back in early May. I mentioned it on social media and then never spoke of it (or really thought about it) again. I finished up the semester, I went to the Philippines, I came home &  moved across town. Then the first week of this month I started feeling normal and human again…and realized the tri was the second week of July.

Originally I signed up for the 400m swim/6 mile bike/2 mile running. I figured I could do that with no additional training. And back in May, I COULD have. But two months, a couple of major events, and zero training later, I emailed the race director in a panic and asked to be moved to the shorter distance (exactly half the original). And then I began preparing…which consisted of a grand total of a ten minute open water swim at the race location 6 days before, a run through of the whole distance with a training group three days before and numerous panicked posts to the training group’s Facebook page throughout the entire week.

Surprisingly I slept just fine the night before. I think the run through on Tuesday helped make Saturday almost a non-issue…until I got there. Once I arrived at the race site, the nerves started to kick in a little bit. I met up with some of the people from the training group and promptly became BFFs with another woman doing the race for the first time. We set up our transitions together, we checked out the swim course together, we got marked up together, & listened to the race briefing & met up with other trainees together. Suddenly race morning went from intimidating to FUN.  Some other friends from my life were doing the longest distance and they were out there to encourage and boost me as well. Bianca gave me a huge hug and helped get the swim cap on my head. Lynette (my Ironman friend!) took pictures and reassured & encouraged me. And as I was scurrying down the path to the start (because I got distracted by last minute “good lucks”, hugs & high fives), I heard my name and turned to find a former co-worker (Drew) standing in the spectators. He would normally be out there racing but is currently injured. He heard I was doing it though and headed down to offer support. Seeing him was the biggest surprise of the day and gave me a huge boost of energy right before jumping in the water.

The swim start was surprisingly calm. We all chatted & joked around on the dock. Most of us jumped in a few minutes before the start to splash around, the race director yelled “GO!”…and we went. There was no chaos. It was a very polite, calm affair. We were pretty spread out but I found a good spot right between two people maintaining a pace I could match pretty easily until I couldn’t and then I side stroked for a few yards, rounding the first buoy and I wasn’t sure if I had been in the water forever or just a few minutes but my shoulders had quit muttering quite so intensely so I switched back to the front crawl and found people to match again. I don’t really remember rounding the last buoy. I do remember thinking I would not side stroke into the finish so I didn’t. I probably stopped a few strokes early and had to wade through chest deep water but on the other hand, I’m not sure that pond ever gets any more shallow. A volunteer helped pull me onto the crazy high step and then I was jogging down the lane, hearing my name here and there and all I could think was “I’m not dizzy!” and “Don’t put your helmet on backwards!” (Swim time: 9:28)

Transition went…as well as could be expected. I didn’t rush. I stayed standing to put on my socks & shoes and I’m not sure if that slowed me down or gave me a few extra seconds. Ultimately I don’t care. (T1 – 3:10) I jogged my bike to the mount line, stopped & got on. I haven’t even started to try & master the running mount. Given my level of grace and coordination, that will be a feat unto itself. I waved to Lynette and Drew who were already out on the course cheering for me, gave them thumbs up for pictures and headed out on the first lap. What is there to say about the bike course? It was flat. It was also the loneliest stage. There were stretches where no one was around to cheer and no one was nearby to cheer FOR (which I did whenever I saw a member of the training group or someone passed me.) I found a groove and decided to hold it but ended up with the beginnings of a cramp in my right quad and an extremely dry mouth. Lynette was waiting for me next to T2 and asked how I was feeling. All I could say was “I’m really thirsty.” Lessons learned on the bike: Learn to get to my water bottle while pedaling and work on evening out my pedaling. (Bike time: 21: 31 – Also, I need more strength.)

I don’t have a time for T2. It couldn’t have been too long. I switched my helmet for a hat, gulped way too much water,  grabbed my music, high fived Lynette and headed out. I jogged for a little bit, realized I was still horribly thirsty…and then both sides simultaneously cramped into the worst side stitches I’ve ever had. I slowed to a walk/limp and maintained that pretty much the whole course. I had one ear bud in but it was hot, my sides hurt, I was still more thirsty than I could remember ever being in my entire life and music was irritating me, not motivating. After the turn around (and more water), I tried to run a little bit but reverted back to my walk/limp when I started getting nauseous. I decided I WOULD cross the finish line running though. I glanced at the time as I came around the last bend and thought I was pushing the sixty minute mark for my total time. I had spent the past week saying I didn’t care about time but in truth, I wanted to come in under an hour – even without training that seemed reasonable – and I was going to be UPSET if I missed that by a few seconds. So I picked up the pace and tried to sprint my way across the line. (Tried being the key word). Lynette was on the other side of the fence, ready for her wave to start but waiting to cheer my finish. I remember touching her hand through the fence and hearing her say “You did it! You’re finished!” I don’t remember what I answered but I think she told me to go get water which sounded like the most brilliant plan in the world. I think I wished her good luck. I hope I did because she was amazing out there for me. I walked to the refreshments tent, gratefully took a bottle of water and a handful of grapes and realized that if I tried to eat anything else I WOULD throw up. I spotted Bianca and received a HUGE hug from her. I wandered a few minutes until I saw my BFF from that morning standing near some chairs in the shade. She didn’t know who they belonged to but I sank into one anyway. Coach Beth (from the training group) came by to check on me & offer congrats.  Within a few minutes Drew found me and commandeered the chair next to me. I was already feeling fine but we sat and chatted for a while until the owners’ of the chairs came back and nicely reclaimed them so they could leave. He said he thought my time was close to 50 minutes. I thought he was crazy but didn’t argue. Turns out my total time was 52:58 so in the future I should probably trust my people out on the course who are more aware of those details.

All in all it was as much fun and a little harder than I expected. (95+ degrees probably didn’t help either.) I’m already eyeing a sprint in the fall and have started considering what time I’m aiming for next year.  The activity itself is fun. But really it’s the community that elevates triathlon to such a great level. I had friends there and I can’t imagine doing this without them. People out on the course that I didn’t know encouraged and cheered me as I did them. Spectators I didn’t know, there for other participants, cheered for me. Sharing the details of the day and the giddiness of finishing with friends and training partners was not the icing on the cake, it was the cake. Getting to swim, ride & r…walk…that was the icing.

Volleyball, first match

Before we left for volleyball last night, I tossed out the comment “I mean – how bad can it be, right?” Jon proceeded to tell me about a volleyball player who ended up with a compound fracture….and the prospect of ending up with bones sticking out of my leg was actually more appealing to me than making a public fool of myself and tanking my team.

I tell you that to give you an idea the extent of my nerves/my state of mind.

Turns out, I wasn’t the best on the team but neither was I noticeably the worst. I wasn’t nearly as aggressive as I should have been. I stood back too far from the net. I missed a lot of hits and sent others bombing wildly. I also made some good hits, was the only one to not screw up a serve (although one came CLOSE) and even had a really decent serving run.

We lost two out of three sets. We also only had five people to put on the court, and the most recent anyone had played was last season.

Most importantly – we had fun. By the end we were starting to loosen up, communicate and get into a rhythm.

Our next game is tomorrow night and we should have six players there.  And this time – no nerves; just excitement.

Grocery shopping, couponing & budgeting

Back in early 1997 my grocery budget was $20 a week. After TheKid was born (in May 1997), there were many times I had less than $20 for food after diapers. We ate A LOT of hot dogs and baked potatoes. Plain.  My grocery budget is a little more substantial now. I still can’t IGNORE costs while filling the cart, but we’re hardly deprived. In fact, I honestly love grocery shopping and I can’t help but think it’s because I CAN.

Now I’ve discovered couponing. And it’s become a game to see how much I can save. Friday I got $106 worth of groceries for $52. I was excited about that but I also know that’s not really impressive in the world of couponing. I’m still a novice but one thing I focus on is not buying something we won’t use just because I can get it at a great price.  I have bought a few things that we WOULD use but I consider a non-necessity/luxury — as long as it’s $1.50 or less (the closer to free, the more likely I’ll pick it up). I love looking at my receipt and seeing the saved vs spent totals. I love knowing that we’re stocked up on non-perishable goods at rock bottom prices.

Last week I planned three out of five meals using only what I had already in the house. Our grocery expenses were next to nothing. And surprisingly, that was kinda cool. So starting in April, my goal is to stay under $300/month on food. I’ve set up a spreadsheet to track what I spend (and what I save).  I think $75 a week for five people is easily doable with a little planning. The challenge is to see how far under $300 I can get – without my family feeling deprived.

Hypocritical hypotheticals

The love of motorcycles seems to run in my family. My dad loves them, my sisters and I all love them and our kids have shown their appreciation at young ages. So of course I married a man who shares that love. He’s owned a couple of  bikes. Alot of his friends ride. And he’s survived a couple of wrecks – only 1 since I’ve known him and that one wasn’t bad as far as wrecks go. But it left him with a messed up shoulder and massive bruising. I know he’s a cautious and responsible rider. It’s just, well, accidents happen.

Last summer there was at least one local fatality involving a motorcyclist and a car. I looked at pictures afterwards…it’s not really difficult to figure out who the fatality was and who walked away. The car crossed the center line and hit the bike head on. I don’t know if the rider was wearing a helmet or being aware & cautious. It really doesn’t matter.  He didn’t stand a chance no matter how “safe” and responsible he was.

Wednesday morning on the way to work, I passed an accident that had apparently just occurred. It didn’t look bad at first glance. There were cars stopped but I didn’t see any damage – until I saw the crowd of people hovering around a figure on the ground. A figure laying behind his motorcycle. (I assume he was the rider anyway) I don’t know what happened or how bad it was. It LOOKED like he was conscious and moving a bit but I was headed the opposite direction and only glanced for a moment. I had seen enough to make me cringe. I’ve seen the results of a minor accident. I don’t WANT to see the results of a major one – or even another minor one.

Regardless of the dangers, I still want to ride. The idea of wrecking doesn’t scare me. I know the odds are high that SOMETHING will happen at least once. It’s kinda like skydivers saying “It’s not a matter of if you get hurt it’s a matter of when.” I oddly don’t have a problem accepting that at all. (I planned to pick up skydiving when the kid turned 18 but Jon has vehemently argued against that little plan) No – my stomach clenches when I see/hear of these incidents because if I ride, then that means Jon will too. And I can’ t stand the idea of HIM being the one laying on the road in the middle of traffic. I can handle being in pain myself  but to see HIM being injured…I don’t know how well I’d deal with that.  Oh I know it’s hypocritical. And since we don’t have bikes, it’s really not an issue for quite awhile. We have other priorities before we start on the expensive toys wish list. But still – it’ll be something to consider.