Wednesday, June 25, 2008
What I great weekend this was for me! Could I have a more supportive, and encouraging spouse?! I don't think so. :o) We left Mobile around 11:00 A.M. for Birmingham. We had reservations at the Marriott in Mountain Brook. (What a nice place it turned out to be!) We arrived in plenty of time to check into the hotel before heading to the Mountain Brook YMCA to register, pick up my packet, and attend the beginner clinics. I was so impressed by the folks running the "show". Everyone was so friendly and helpful! They treat first-timers like they are something special.
I could NOT go to sleep that night! I don't think I was scared, but I sure was excited. I had everything ready to go - my "tri bucket" had my goggles, bike helmet, number belt (with bib already pinned to it), water bottles, running shirt, running cap, sunglasses, towel, socks and running shoes, fitted out with the "bungee" shoe strings I'd been using for 2 weeks. I felt like I was as ready as I could be but I tossed and turned all night. I think I may have dozed a little bit, hehe.
We arrived at the "Y" at about 5:45 A.M. What a beautiful morning! It had rained buckets the evening before. In fact, Bill and I drove the bike route and could hardly see for the rain. But Saturday a.m. was perfect! I can't tell you how many times I re-arranged my gear at my station. I laid it all out, inverted my bucket to sit on later, and put my running shoes, socks, helmet, and sunglasses on top of it. (Marianne from my BT board gave me the bucket tip, and what a great tip it was!) Then it was off to body marking. Cool!
Unlike a traditional triathlon with an OWS (open water swim) and wave starts, the pool swim for the YTri is set up for an interval start. So they lined us up around the pool according to bib number. Wow, the wait was rough. I think that may have been the hardest part of the entire tri. (Ok ok, the 2 monster hills on the bike route were the toughest part, but the wait was hard too. *grin*) There is no doubt in my mind that I was ready for the swim. I started out with a good long steady stroke, but 2 lengths into the swim, I kind of freaked. The tension caught up with me I guess. That and a touch of claustrophobia because the lanes were very narrow and I kept running into the lane ropes. Bryan (my BT mentor) said my heart rate was probably way up and that makes a lot of sense because I totally panicked. I felt like I floundered through the remaining 6 lengths of the pool, and could barely breathe when I exited the water. But my heart rate calmed down a bit on the way to the bike. Whew!
I was determined NOT to race the bike course - I know better then to think that I can be competitive at this sport at my current weight. And I wanted to enjoy the bike course. The course leaves the YMCA parking light and goes through Mountain Brook Village before heading into some hilly, tree covered neighborhoods. There was a slight early morning mist, and the sun was just barely filtering down through the branches. It was not only a beautiful ride, it was idyllic! There was almost no traffic, and the bikers were smiling, cheerful, waving, and encouraging. There were volunteers and city policeman at every intersection stopping traffic and waving the bikers through. What an awesome ride! Uphill was - well - it was every bit as 'challenging' as I knew it would be. Ouch. BUT! I never had to walk my bike! I biked up EVERY hill! I didn't have a bike computer at that time, so I don't know what my speed was going uphill, but suffice it to say, I think I could have dismounted and walked my bike faster. *grin* And going downhill?!~ What a RUSH! Woohoo!
Coming back down into the village, I was able to rest my legs some, catch my breath and get ready for the run. My lumbering jog was just as slow as ever, but again, I never walked. I kept up a slow jog for the entire 2 miles. And that was my goal, no walking. I was so thrilled that I was able to accomplish it! The return part of the running loop was a gradual incline up to the "Y" and I was definitely struggling. When I was a couple a hundred yards or so from the finish, I could hear the cheering. It was worth everything I'd been through! And there was Bill cheering louder then everyone! He even yelled out once "You can do it, Juanita!" How awesome is that?! How could I fail?!
Crossing that finish line was like nothing I've ever experienced. A volunteer was right there to put participation medals around everyone's neck as they finished. It was wonderful! Wow, just wow. We were planning to leave Birmingham immediately because we wanted to drop in on Jeff at Auburn on the way home, but when the times were posted they showed me finishing first in my division and age group (Beginner Women Age 50 - 54). Ok, ok... so I was first out of 2 ladies in that group, but I was able to take the podium in my first triathlon! How special is that? There will never be another tri like this one. Wow.
And hey! I'm officially a triathlete!
Friday, May 23, 2008
I'm finishing my breakfast (protein shake) as I type this. I'm all packed. All that is left to do is shower, load the car, and roll on down the road to Birmingham, Alabama. I'm not as scared as I thought I would be, today. (We'll see what tomorrow morning feels like, hehe.) I'll report to early registration this evening, and attend 2 different short clinics that are being held for 'newbies' and first-timers. I'm soooo excited. But the day feels a bit surreal. I can't believe I'm really doing this!
I honestly don't plan on racing - the thought of racing makes me feel very, VERY stressed, ROFL. So, my game plan is to relax, go at a steady pace, and FINISH! What a miracle that will be for me if I can. Two years ago I was a 240 pound couch/computer potato... six years ago, a two and a half pack smoking machine that couldn't climb a flight of stairs without gasping. God has changed my life... definitely a 180. :o)
I have to mention Bill, my awesome husband, here. He has been incredible through it all! Supportive, helpful, encouraging, affirming... no one could have a better help mate then I do.
Okie doke. Will report on the results when I return! Let's go Tri!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Honestly?... if anyone had told me 2 years ago that I'd be regularly swimming 50 laps at this point in my
life I would have laughed in their face (rude, huh?... it's a control thing... *sly grin*). But here I am, swimming my goal, 3 times a week.
I started out swimming in May of 2007 with pain and breathing problems out the wazoo. But how I got started is kinda cute, actually... the whole pool thing started with a challenge from my mother. Mom & I decided to check out the "big" pool shortly after we joined the health club for water therapy. Mom said "grab a lane and swim a few, Juanita." Come to think of it, I DID laugh. And then she did that 'mom thing'... you know? The thing where they raise one eyebrow and give you the look? So naturally I said "sure, Mom, no prob" and off I went. Three gasping near-death lengths of the pool later, I told myself "NEVER AGAIN!" But 2 days later - having finally caught my breath - I tried again. Go figure! I made it 4 lengths but again swore to myself that it wasn't worth the pain. And yet, I came back 2 days later and tried again. I'm not sure when I first did 10 laps, but I can tell you that everyone in my family heard about it. *wink* Every trip to the pool, I tried to do a little bit better, either with distance, time, or technique. I pushed myself. It was something I really wanted. As a swim team mom, I watched my kids compete. I never got tired of watching them swim. Maybe swimming brings back those days. Or maybe I push myself because I COULDN'T swim back then. I was a heavy smoker and I struggled with breathing even walking through the mall. November the 15th was the 6th anniversary of the end of my smoking habit. And now, I can swim.
To be a better swimmer, I've spent hours studying freestyle and back stroke technique, and I've watch all the instruction videos I can find. I also do upper body strengthening to make my pulls stronger, and I've "way-upped" my resistance on the stationary bike and work out on the elliptical trainer at least once a week to strengthen my legs. I walk and/or jog 2 or 3 times a week, as well. The folks at the gym tell me often that I'm "on a mission". Maybe I am. It's been 6 and half months since I started swimming. I never would have believed that I could have improved like I have - not at my age and weight. It's something I thank God for every day, and is, to me, clear evidence that He is still in the miracle business.
I attend a senior water sculpting class with my mom after I swim my laps, to support and encourage her in her therapy (who am I kidding? I love the class!), and it's full of awesome folks that are all pulling for me. Every time I get to class, they ask me "How many today?" And "how much weight have you lost this week?" Can I ask for more encouragement then that? And yet, I have Spark People, too.
I am truly blessed.
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