Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Transition area: photo by Maple Grove Tri
My first thought when I woke up Saturday morning was, "man, I wish I would've stuck to that training plan." but, oh, well, here we go. I threw the plan out after vacation in July when I realized it was stressing me out and the whole point of this is to have fun. I managed to get in a handful of bike rides that were 20-25ish miles, some were extremely hilly routes. I wasn't worried about the bike. And a 10k is a great distance for me. It was the swim.
About 2 weeks ago I started to freak out. I realized I had not done nearly enough swimming to prepare myself to my standards. I love to swim. But I wasn't ready for a mile. 0.9 of a mile, but I'm rounding up! A mile in a pool is WAY different than open water. Pushing off ends and lane lines give you an incredible boost. I am a horrible sighter in open water. I do everything they tell you not to, like pulling my whole upper body out of the water to look for buoys.
Luckily, my friend gave me her wetsuit to wear. That sucker makes ya float! I felt a lot better. Until we got to the lake and I saw how far the buoys were. Deep breaths. Whew, that is far. I wonder how we'd feel as runners if at the start of a race we could see the entire distance. I think it may make us appreciate how far we really run. Because, seriously, those buoys were so far out in the water. Maybe I'll feel better if I keep typing about how far they were.
I need to get over this. They gathered all the athletes together for some announcements. Even had an official referee in a striped top talk about the rules. This was a pretty big tri: 1200 athletes, 800 were doing the Sprint distance. And there was a collegiate wave that was competing for Nationals, which was cool. It was a pretty fit bunch of athletes. I love checking everyone out and feeling good that so many people want to do something positive. OK, happy energy is back! And then a guy sang the national anthem and it was so beautiful and goose bump worthy.
And we're off! I had a good start, didn't go out too fast and I'm not bothered by all the kicking and arms everywhere and all that chaos. What bothered me was how long I had swam and then I looked up and saw that the first buoy was FRICKIN FAR AWAY. Since I zig zagged so much during the sprint tri a few weeks ago, I kept looking up to make sure I was swimming straight. This was a horrible strategy because I couldn't get a rhythm, I wasted so much energy pulling my body out of the water and I just got stuck in a bad mental place. It was really hard. I flipped onto my back, I treaded water, I thought about quitting, I thought about the athlete that drowned awhile ago, come on now, just get to that first buoy.
I finally made the first turn and started to feel a bit better. Too much sighting again, but better. Then the last turn and I hit it. Reminded myself that This. Is. A. Race. And I swam. Coming out of the water is a powerful feeling. And since this was such a big race and all the Sprinters were waiting to start, the crowd was super loud. It was awesome. And I could hear my dad's voice out of the crowd, which sure gave me a boost.
I passed quite a few people on the run to transition and actually managed to get the wetsuit off rather quickly. I love transition! It is so exciting. Things flying everywhere and boom, you're on the bike. 26 miles. I felt good. My goal was 18 mph, which meant I'd really have to push myself. And I did. The beginning of the course was hilly. No steep inclines, but I was changing gears a ton. I left my big ring alone the entire ride because I'm still nervous about chain issues. Experience will help with that. But still, the bike went really well. Only 5 girls passed me the entire ride. Lots of guys with fancy gear zoomed right by. fine by me. I'm not competing with them. And it's actually cool to be in an event with those athletes. There was a point on the bike where I thought to myself, "I can't believe this is what I'm doing right now." I am living and loving life. Feels good! The volunteers on the course were incredible and I made sure to thank them all and smile. I thought of Chrissie Wellington and the joy she exudes as an athlete. That's how I felt. As we were approaching the end I checked my bike computer and it said 18.6!!!
It's super awkward to run in cycling shoes!
Transition! Quick change of shoes and I'm off. I was saying to myself, 'You're a runner. You're a runner" as I zoom out of the transition area and turn the corner and BAM! Huge hill. Short, but steep. I only saw one other girl running. Loads of athletes were walking. It was that bad. I don't mind hills, but the problem with this was that it took away all my speed. I've become a faster runner because of tri training. Not fartleks or intervals or track workouts. It's the bike. Develops different muscles plus you're all warmed up plus you're legs were just moving so fast that they are ready to keep the pace up. This can be hard on some people. It has worked to my advantage in brick workouts, but that hill worked against me on race day.
I could feel that my pace was off. I don't wear a Garmin so I had noideal data. I listened to my body and pushed myself. It was hard to do at times because we were on the same course as the Sprint athletes. So some people were flying by me which was a little demoralizing and I had to remind myself that most people were running a 5K, not a 10K. And I had just done twice as much swimming and biking. They should be cruising by! But it's still tough. In races I like to focus on someone ahead of me and try to pick them off. I wasn't able to do that to many runners on my first loop. And the hills kept coming!
One good thing about tris is that ear buds are not allowed so people talk to each other a lot during the run. But then I had to run the whole course again. doh! The second loop was better. I picked up the pace and felt good. Was able to sprint down the finisher's chute.
There is something so great about the first time you race any distance. PR! no matter what! I estimated that it would take 3 - 3.5 hours for me. I didn't really know. Seeing the 2:57 on the clock was emotional. Such a feeling of pride and accomplishment. If I had not been so spent from the race, maybe I would've had the presence of mind to do some simple math. I was in the 3rd wave so I started 6 minutes after gun.
swim .9: 29:09
bike 26: 1:26:02 (18.3 mph)
run 6.2: 52:39 (8:30 pace)
total time: 2:51:12
That's 6th in my age group. In a big tri, a competitive field with serious athletes. I'm not trying to rudely brag, but I am surprising myself. Not only am I having a ton of fun, but I'm actually pretty good at this. Makes my heart and all those other muscles smile.
Immediately after the race I swore to my friends that I was never going to do that distance again. I hated the swim. I woke up the next day and felt great, not sore at all, so of course my first thought was, "Coulda run faster!"
And now a few days later I'm thinking about how to improve my time. I was a mental wreck during the swim and I'm a little mad at myself about it. I know what you're all going to say. I know my time is good. But I also know how much better I could do and that's what I love about sports; the constant room for improvement, new challenges, different workouts for mind & body.
These race blogs get so long. Thanks for taking the time to read. I appreciate my Sparkbuds a great deal. Your support and motivation continue to push me. Thank you!
Friday, August 17, 2012
I've focused on nutrition for the past few weeks in an effort to lose just a couple of pounds or inches. It has definitely worked, but VERY slowly. Today is my lowest weight of the summer. by a whole 0.2 pounds!! but, hey, I'll take it. I've been working super hard and I understand the scale does not define us, but it's still nice to see a number that I'm satisfied with.
It's also good to remind myself:
In some ways, this year of maintenance has been harder than that year of weight loss. Working on fitness doesn't give the same instant gratification that weight loss does. Don't get me wrong, fitness goals are extremely rewarding and empowering. They are just different beasts!
Did it! I relive little moments of it often. Already looking forward to Twin Cities 2013.
1 pull-up, that's all I wanted. This has been a goal for a long time. I'd try to follow a plan with assisted pull-ups, DH uses some app that he tried to help me with. I'd get frustrated because it was so flippin hard and I'd give up. And because he can bust out 50 in a row and that's crazy intimidating. Well, I finally did a real one. Without jumping to help my way up! Full body weight hanging from the bar and pulling myself up, chin over bar. whew! And then last week I did 2. My whole body shakes the entire time. Working towards 3...
head stand. Not there yet. There's still a lot of time left in 2012! I'll get there.
I know this is incredibly vain, but I wanted someone to compliment my legs when I wasn't wearing workout clothes. I was wearing shorts and wedges and a stranger came up to me and said I have amazing legs. She made my day!! Give someone a compliment today. It may work wonders in a very simple way.
triathlon. my new love. Completed the Sprint, had a blast, the Olympic distance is next Saturday.
run. It's still my true love. I ran on vacation, I did my first track workout, I ran new routes all over the city seeing places I've never been & seeing familiar places in a new way, I ran pushing my kids in the double jogger, I had running dates with DH, I ran with my dad and my sister, reconnected with an old friend on runs, made new friends in a running group, ran hills, ran a 5K in 24:06, ran alone for joy. I love running.
And I am so excited for Fall running gear!
What a great summer.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
I often read several books at once. Right now these two compliment each other well. They were both popular several years ago. I'm a little behind the times!
The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner
Lessons for living longer from the people who've lived the longest.
I appreciate that the research not only focuses on longevity, but on quality of life. The description of several centenarians that are active in their daily lives, have respected responsibilities in their communities, and enjoy simple pleasures with their family and friends. I think that's something we're all after.
In the preface a woman credits her lifelong happiness with; "I try to mentally check to make sure that I haven't hurt anyone, that the people around me are okay. I take time each night to think about the people around me, and think about what I eat, and what is important to me."
Wow. I have been trying to do this every evening. So simple, yet I often forget. With practice, it should become a habit for me. And how interesting that in this important time of daily reflection, she includes food.
When a 102 year old Japanese woman was asked what her secret was, she said, "eat your vegetables, have a positive outlook, be kind to people, and smile." Kamada Nakazato
The researchers joked that she summed up what they had said in a 500 page book. This quote should be a bumper sticker! It certainly sums up what I believe.
I haven't finished the book yet, but those are my highlights so far. I'm also halfway through Animal, Vegatable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.
The Poisonwood Bible (by same author) has been one of my favorite works of fiction for a long time. About 6 years ago I figured I would love anything else she wrote so I picked up this. My guess is that I got through maybe 30 pages and decided I didn't like the book. Recently we were at my aunts house and she recommended the book to my husband. When I commented that I didn't like it, she looked at me like I was crazy. She told me this book was written for people like me. I admitted that I never read the whole thing and that I was at a very different point in my life.
I gave it another try and of course, I love it. It's the story of a family that commits to only eating food that they or their neighbors have grown. for one whole year. Whoa. Serious challenge.
There has been a recent rise in popularity among farm to table restaurants and the eat local movement. Kingsolver was certainly ahead of the trend. Since I have always been a person that enjoyed fitness and exercise, learning more about nutrition has been a major key to my journey.
I believe that we are an inter-connected species. The harm we are doing to our bodies is related to the harm we are doing to our Earth. The problem of obesity is about so much more than Fast Food Nation. (a nod to another interesting book!)
"if every US citizen ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That's not gallons, but BARRELS. Small changes in buying habits can make big differences." this is because "a typical food item has traveled an average of 1500 miles. In addition to direct transit, other fuel-using steps include processing (drying, milling, cutting, sorting,baking), packing, warehousing and shipping. " (p. 5)
Now, I'm not going to go hardcore and stop eating bananas because they are shipped from Costa Rica or give up my favorite apples from Chile. But it certainly does make me think and change small behaviors.
I pay attention to how much packaging something comes in, healthy food or not.
I feel that local is more important than organic.
That's what I'm focusing on now. Have you read these? Any recommendations for me?
Saturday, August 11, 2012
Ironman is not only a distance, but a brand. There are 140.6 and 70.3 races that don't fall under that m-dot branding. Ironman has done an incredible marketing job. If you're in the tri world you recognize that m-dot like every other American recognizes the golden arches.
I was looking at pictures from a friend's event recently. Her parents had Ironmom and Irondad shirts on. I asked about her husband. Now, get this: all the Ironmate shirts for sale were pink. And I have no issue with men wearing pink. But they were teeny little pink tank tops. Clearly implying that Ironman is a man's race and the mate is a female.
Motivation comes in many forms and THIS gets to me. I understand that the vast majority of participants are men. I get it. It still makes me want to work that much harder, to prove i can do it too. When we need a push during a workout we say, "guys in little pink tanks!" That always makes me go a little faster.
The gender gap motivates me. It always has. I want more for my daughter. The Olympics give me hope, yet are frustrating at the same time. The Saudi women in the opening ceremony was a highlight. Such a positive example of how far women have come, yet how far we have to go.
Ye Shiwen, from China, wins gold, her splits faster than some of the men. Immediately accused of doping. How could a girl possibly swim faster than a boy? She cheated. It's like people need that excuse to make themselves comprehend how she beat a guy. And not just any guy: she beat Ryan Lochte.
I know there are more issues here. The wide use of drugs in too many sports. The fact that a Chinese athlete beat the Americans. Is Missy Franklin under the same scrutiny? It's complex. But I think the gender piece is huge.
I've tried to focus on all the strong, happy women that we've seen in the past weeks. And there certainly have been plenty. Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor, Allyson Felix, Gabby Douglas are stand outs to me.
I want my daughter's generation to see Ironmate shirts in a rainbow of colors. I want women participating from all over the world to be the standard, not a breakthrough moment. I want fewer girls to drop out of sports in high school.
I hope that these Olympic athletes that have so impressed me, have also left an impression on our daughters.
Monday, August 06, 2012
As soon as I made the decision to go for a tri, I knew I'd love it. I have been swept away with the energy of running road races. It is such a positive, strong force. I know it's not for everyone, but I love racing. I had no doubts that I'd love tri just as much.
The girls I run with convinced me to sign up for a tri once they saw me swim this winter. They promised to help me with the bike. I was a little apprehensive because 1. I was in the midst of my first full marathon training program and isn't that enough for one summer?? and 2. road bikes are expensive.
Well, I had a few glasses of wine with these girls one night and made the decision. Don't worry, I didn't sign up drunk. I waited until the next morning and registered for an Olympic distance triathlon.
Luckily another friend was looking to do something much shorter, find a small Sprint distance. I signed up with her and thought of this as my practice tri. There are so many elements that need to be worked out. All that transition stuff! And if you've read any of my other blogs, all that bike stuff!
Anyway, this kinda snuck up on me. I didn't feel a lot of pressure or nerves or much of anything until last week. I started getting texts and emails from a few tri friends warning me not to freak out on the swim. I know the swim is the worst part for most people. There are plenty of people that just get through it. Doggy paddle gets the job done! But for me, the swim was what I was most excited for.
I'm pretty sure I was a fish in a former life. I've been comfortable in the water since forever and was on a competitive team for many years. Lakes don't freak me out and for whatever reason it didn't bother me to think of other swimmers kicking me in the face or swimming right over me. Call me crazy, but it just sounded like a part of the sport.
Our age group was the 5th wave so we got to watch a few groups go first, which was fun. I dismissed all the advice I was given and just walked into the front and middle of our group when it was our turn. And all of a sudden we were running through the water and diving in. Typical rookie mistake: I just started flying and didn't stick to my breathing pattern plan. I have very little open water practice and am horrible at swimming in a straight line. Constantly breathing to the same side makes it even worse for me. So what do I do? breathe to the same side, sight too often, let my legs fall down, zig zag all over the course. Hot mess right here!
When we reached the turn around buoy I realized I was in the front pack of our group's swimmers. (swim caps are color coded by age group) I repeatedly said to myself, "calm down, calm down" and started to think about my form. I still was not swimming very straight and cannot imagine how many extra meters I swam. By this time, I was swimming better and was pretty sure there were only 2 blue caps ahead of me. I concentrated on how it would feel to get out of the water first.
And I did it! I passed them both and ran out of the water first in my age group. First! What a feeling. I'm pretty sure that is a lifelong memory. Even if this was a small tri, 28 women in my age group. I still did it. I won!
Oh, but wait! Now I have to run up a sandy hill and find my bike and the race has really only just started. I pushed it pretty hard at the end of the swim so it was difficult to run and I struggled to get my swim cap & goggles off. I found my bike easily and quick got everything I needed. Then I just had to take a few seconds to stand and calm down. I was a little dizzy. maybe pushed it a wee bit much!! Hopped on my bike and I was off! Or so I thought. All these people started screaming at me because you can't mount your bike until you are out of the transition area. Missed that detail. I was so focused on making sure my helmet was on correctly. You get DQed if you mount without that on! So I hop off, run a few more steps, thank everyone for their help and hop back on.
And off I went for real this time! It took until mile 3 for my breathing to feel normal and to start to get some type of groove. But then the hills set in. I was holding back a bit because I am so unfamiliar on the bike that I just didn't know how much to push. I had very little idea what a 13.5 mile bike ride felt like. I liked being out on an open road and not afraid of cars. And I love how nice people are when they pass you. And some people pass you FAST. I was cheering for everyone and grinning like I'm Chrissie Wellington. I really started to feel good at mile 10. And then it was over. Averaged 17.7 mph
Transition this time went really well. The run was 3.3 miles, very pretty through this little park. I felt like I was going at a good pace, but had no idea. I was wearing a HRM but the time was overall so I was just going by how I felt. Only one woman passed me and she was cruising. I was sprinting at the end, which means I had some left in the tank and should've gone faster. And my pace was 8:02 which is hard to be upset about.
That's why I signed up for this. Triathlon seems to be about balance. How much to push? How much to save your legs? If I would've gone faster on the bike, would my legs have been spent for the run? How much faster could I have gone on the run? These are all things that experience will help with. There is much to learn and I love that.
My friend came in right behind me. After we got snacks we went to see the posted results. It said 3/15 by my name. (people were still on the course) One guy said, "You're on the podium! You'll get an award!" It was my split second of feeling like I was in the Olympics. We quickly found out that only 1st in age group got the trophies. oh well! Something to strive for! And it was fun to feel that if only for a bit.
Another friend asked what was my favorite part. It's too hard to choose. The whole experience was exciting.
From getting there early to set up your area, walking around and looking at all the beautiful bikes, people watching, etc.
sorry, I can't rotate pics from my iphone. That's my little area.
In a tri it's like you get the excitement of a finish line 3 times. That's pretty fun.
That sideways one in black is me.
This is long enough so I won't list all the little details that I enjoyed. But there were a lot. The body markings were a highlight for me.
Yes, I'm flexing there.
Such an experience. I want to do it again. And again and again. I smile just thinking about it. That's more important than the numbers. I don't want to get too obsessed with times and forget the fun. But it sure feels good to know that I'm actually pretty good at this. 17/189 women. I've always been athletic but I was never the best at anything. I was good, not great. After that tri, I felt great.
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