Monday, October 29, 2012

tri update: a multitude of emotions

I think a picture is worth a thousand words, so I've compiled some photos to explain what was going through my mind during the triathalon.  The biggest chunks are (of course) missing because I didn't take a camera with me as I travelled, I only have the photos of my dad and other friends and family members to rely on.  But the location was gorgeous and I really wish I had a camera with me to show you some of the parts only viewed by those of us on the course. 

I didn't see this sign until after I had finished the course, but this is the body of water that we swam in.  Lake Cahuilla.  No swimming.  Except for the cool, spandex-wearing, bicycle-riding kids like us.  I feel special.  

Pre-swim.  Orange cap.  Unflattering clothing.  Big freaking smile on my face.  I was a doofus.  A pretty nervous doofus.  

By the way, the people behind me aren't strangers, they're my best friend and her husband.  My dad likes candid and awkward shots, what can I say?  

In the water (note the attractive "swim angel" in front of us) ready to begin and I believe this part of our conversation went something like this:

Me: "Well, we've done some pretty crazy shit together, haven't we?"
Amanda: "Yah, but I think this is by far the craziest."  
Me: "Definitely."

Transition #1.  All I was thinking was (1) how do I get this lake water out of my nose and mouth while my family is watching me and (2) I SURVIVED THE SWIM!!!

This may look like I'm smiling, but I think it's an optical illusion.  I was pretty nervous to get started on the bike ride.  This is where my fears started to kick in.  

What if I get a flat tire?  
What if I fall of my bike?  
What if I don't finish?

Fast forward to the part that I finish the 14 mile bike ride.  Here I was coming back into the park area.  

At this point, it was a down hill slope and I was so grateful for that.  You basically get to coast all the way into the bike area once you climb the hill back into the parking area.  


What was I thinking here?  Hell.  That's what.  

It was unbelievably hot at this point.  Hot like hell.  My first mile was in an area like what you see above, then it became a flat run around the lake for another mile with no shade.  Not a single inch.  Sun blazing.  Tired.  Probably the worst run I've ever had.  

My best friend finished ahead of me by about 20 minutes.  When she saw me round the corner, I thought she was walking to her car or coming over to wave at me.  

Instead she ran with me all the way up to the finish line entrance.  Yah.  It was awesome.  I have great friends.  

Here I go...

"Am I there yet?"

Obligatory action shot...

Here's the lovely aftermath: Me shoving a banana in my mouth while explaining to my boyfriend how hot it was on the run.  

Right to left: Amanda's brother, my lovely aunt hugging me (excuse my mouth full of food and sweaty clothes), and my boyfriend contemplating all of life's deepest mysteries.  

Just kidding, I think he was hungry.  Or hot.  Or both, which means he's unhappy.  


My mommy got teary eyed, so I had to go give her a peck on the cheek.  

We're odd like that.  

So there you have it, my belated and picture filled wrap up!  

Monday, October 8, 2012

tri update: how i did part 1

I'm back from La Quinta and I'm alive!  Yah, that was a goal of mine.  To survive my first triathalon. 

Mission accomplished. 

This blog has been a long time coming in my mind so I've decided to split it into two segments: physical and emotional.  So now I get to tell you how I did, more specifically how I did physically. 

Let me start by saying that I attended a pre-triathalon meeting with Sally Edwards on Saturday before the big event and I heard women saying things like "It took me three hours to finish my first triathalon last year" and "I walked the entire 5K.

I knew then that I had to re-adjust my goals, not that I'd really set any goals at that point.  So I started thinking about how I'd been performing and what I should possibly expect from myself: 

I know that lately I had finished 500 meters in a swimming pool in less than 20 minutes.  I decided to be nice to myself, and I gave myself a goal of finishing the swim portion of the event in less than 30 minutes. 

I also know that my cycling at a steady pace with no big inclines has been about 14 miles per hour, but when hills and such are factored in I can drop down to as low as about 10 miles per hour depending on the size of the hill.  I had to complete a total of 14 miles in the race, and there were a few hills that lead out of and back into the race venue, so I gave myself a goal of finishing the cycling portion of the even in less than 90 minutes. 

Finally, I know that lately I've been in the 13 or 14 minutes per mile range when I've been out running.  But I have been running early in the morning when there is no heat and I've only been running about 2.5 miles each time.  Also, I don't always run right after a bike ride.  Sometimes I just run, ya know?  With all that into account, I gave myself a goal of finishing the running portion of the event in less than 45 minutes. 

That puts my grand total for the event at 2 hours and 45 minutes.  That was my goal and I was sticking to it! I had my Polar heart rate monitor as my timer and I was ready to go.   

So here's how things really went down:

I was in the very last group of the day, (orange cap) the mixed ages group.  I had a helluva time putting my swim caps on, since I put my TYR silver swim cap on first, then my goggles, then my race issued orange cap on second.  I fidgeted, I got in the (really warm) water for a bit, and then I stood around looking at all of my friends and family that had come to support me.  NERVES!!!

I went down into the water, I was given a mantra for my race by Sally Edwards which was "WICKED GOOD" for all of my Massachussetts friends!  And then before you know it, we were OFF!!!  I did a beautiful stroke all the way out to the first turn which was about 100 meters and I made the left hand turn. 

From there, something in my mind turned off and my stroke turned choppy and irratic, then I saw my best friend's eyes get big and she flipped over onto her back and did the back stroke.  My head turned to mush and I started alternating between the breast stroke, freestyle, and a back stroke.  About the time I reached the 400 meter marker, I had decided that I had been in the water for what seemed like an eternity and I should have not set a goal of 30 minutes for myself.  It was only the first event and I had seemingly failed myself in my head.   

Then I looked down at my watch and I realized that I had only been in the water for 12 minutes and I needed to shut the eff up!  My mind was playing really mean tricks on me.  I got out of the water (but not before tripping on a huge rock) and trailed my best friend up to the first transition. 

Funny story to insert here. I had swallowed and snorted quite a bit of lake water, so as I tried to make it up to my bike I was coughing and blowing my nose a lot and saying sarcastic things like "Gee, that lake water was delicious!"   Little did I realize that my father, friend's husband, and a professional photographer were all snapping away during this portion of the race.  I can't wait to see the photo of the buckets of snot I was expelling! 

I got up to my towel, pulled my socks on (note to self: wash rocks and dirt off feet first next time) and geared up and we were out of the transition and headed into the cycling portion in less than 20 minutes! 

Booyah transition 1!

Cycling out of the park was really odd because my calves and toes started to cramp during the swim, but as soon as I hit the bike I was able to use the pedals to stretch out my legs and scoot right out of the parking lot.  I climbed a few hills, hit the flat road and settled in to the get my heart rate down a bit.  That's when I noticed that my trip computer on my bike had disconnected and I had no way to monitor my speed or distance. 


The rest of the ride passed smoothly, a bit too smoothly actually.  I found myself looking around at the amazing desert scenery and often forgetting that I was doing a race!  I really wish I had a camera with me and was coordinated enought to take a photo while riding.  I had to clue myself in every once in a while so that I'd speed up a bit more, but even though I was passed by a few riders, I passed more than my fair share.  Each time I passed I started out by saying "ON THE LEFT" and as I rode by I'd follow up with something like "Great job" because honestly, everyone who was doing this race was great in my book. 

Then I noticed around mile 9 or so that quite a few of the riders that had passed me were the very same riders that I was now passing and I congratulated myself for maintaining such a consistent speed.  That was something I had struggled with in the past, and I was glad I had control over it now.  I had conserved my energy well and was about to head into the park again. 

I had to climb one ugly monster of a hill to enter back into transition number 2, and as I started climbing it I saw my best friend's husband standing at the top of the hill with his camera and cheering me on.  Boy, did I need that.  My legs burned as I huffed and puffed my way up that hill, and as I passed him I said something like "I guess it's a good thing I didn't get off and walk my bike up the hill, right?"  He later told me that about 20% of the riders had walked that hill.  I was glad I didn't. 

As I came around the the bike rack I passed my family and smiled because I was going down hill and it was easy to smile.  Thank heavens they didn't see me at the hill I just climbed.  Those photos are probably hideously ugly. 

Transition 2 was easy.  Bike up.  Dump water in mouth.  Helmet off.  Dumpe water in mouth.  Visor on.  Dump water on head.  Eat 2 energy blocks.  Dump water in mouth.  Leave the transition. 

Take that tranistion 2! 

That's when I passed my best friend's family, and her brother ran along and took photos of me with his iPhone leaving the gate so I knew I had to run for the photo op!  I rounded the corner and my energy left me like air out of a balloon and I had to walk for a bit.  I did a steady walk-run for the first mile and counted the minutes on my watch when I saw the marker: 1:33 to 1:47.  14 minute mile.  Bleh.  Then I sped up for the second mile marker and I saw the greatest thing: 2:00!  A 13 minute mile.  Great! 

The last mile felt like it took forever, but it was really about a 16 minute mile and I rounded the corner to the finish line.  As I approached my best friend, who had already finished, she met me at the sand and ran the last few hundred yards as I entered the last stretch with me and I started to get tears in my eyes. 

I.  Was.  Done. 

I.  Was.  A.  Triathalete. 

I.  Was.  Wicked.  Good. 

So that's my story about how I finished a sprint triathalon in 2 hours and 17 minutes.  That's nearly 30 minutes ahead of my goal and it leaves plenty of room for improvement! 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

tri update: reflections

As this blog goes up, I'll probably be lining up for my first race event in my life: an all female sprint triathalon.  

You read that right.  I've never raced in my life.  In fact, I've never even run a 5K.  At least, I haven't until today.  

Today, everything I've thought about myself for my 28 years on this earth is going to shift a little.  Today, every negative word I've spat at myself is going to fade away a little.  Today, my own two legs are going to take me further than I've ever gone before.  They're going to take me approximately 17.4 miles through a series of events, culminating in one single thing that I said I'd never do: running.  

Let's back track, I've been active before, but never like this.  Distance wasn't my thing.  I used to ice skate a few days a week as a kid, I took tons of swimming lessons, I'd follow my dad around on my pink bike with the white basket on the front, and eventually I'd be a cheerleader and take gymnastics classes.  But never have I ever done anything like what I'm about to do.  

I am sure I'll come home and post pictures and tell you all about what it was like, but right now let me tell you about what it means in my head that I'm about to do this.  

It means my scale can take a long walk off a short bridge for a while.  I feel good and I haven't really let the number on that screen get me down in a while.  

It means my size 12's are loose and my size 10's fit right and aren't snug anymore.  It means a medium shirt in most brands will fit me, and I have gotten rid of a number of large and extra large items in my drawers and closets and the only size that has stayed the same has been my shoe size.  

It means that I'm in the home stretch.  I'm about 20 pounds away from that magic number in my head and while I am not worried about getting there or how long it's going to take me, I've got some new tools to help me along the way.  

It means I want to do this again.  True, nothing will be as cool and crazy as this first time, but I've already lined up another event in my mind and I'm anxious to keep training for it even though I've yet to complete this first one.  That sounds absolutely flippin' nuts, but it's the God's honest truth.  

So sit back, enjoy your day, because you know I'm going to be enjoying the heck out of mine.  

"Catch you on the flip side."

Thank you to Fit Bottomed Girls for sending me on this journey with your giveaway.  Thanks to Laura, Mae,  Alejandra, Lisa, Dawn, Kelly, Marisol, Andrea, Dacia and the rest of my twitter family for sending me (in 140 characters or less) all of your support.  Thanks to my friends and family for thinking I'm nuts, loving it, and cheering me on and supporting me as I do this.  But really, really, really thank you to my friend and coach Amanda for smacking some sense into me when I said I wasn't going to do this and she wouldn't let me quit before I'd even started.  Then she wouldn't let me quite after I'd started.  And I'm going to guarantee she won't let me quit ever in life and I love her for it.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

tri update: regrets part 1

I have to get some regrets off my chest, apologize, and move on right now.  I've got to do this so I can let go, get up again, and scurry on my merry way. 

First of all, I regret that my last blog post was 2 months ago.  I've not felt like talking much about training, I just felt like doing it and feeling it.  I've not felt like talking much about Weight Watchers, I've been falling off and fall back onto plan for a while and subsequently I weight exactly the same as I did 8 weeks ago.  I'm still down a total of 25 pounds, but that's not saying much.  I've not felt like talking much about my personal life, but I think it's time to open up a bit about it.  Apology made, now let's talk. 

Triathalong training has flown by.  Literally.  It just went WHOOSHHHHHH!  Then, it was gone. 

I can start by saying my brick experiences have been such a hard thing for me to accomplish, and they are far more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.  If you don't know, a brick workout is any workout where you combine two or more disciplines, such as a bike ride and a run or a swim and a bike ride. I did about 8 bricks over the course of 8 weeks, even doing two in one weekend!  Of those 8 brick workouts, 3 of them were done with my amazing friend, Amanda. 

Let me pause here and say I have amazing friends and family, Amanda being one of them.  Each of my friends and family has supported me through all of this, asking me how I was doing or simply taking a moment to say (or send me a text message) how proud of me they are.  Words and tears simply cannot explain how amazing this makes me feel, and I have to pause and say thank you to all of you. 

So back to bricks, we rode several times between 10 and 12 miles and then followed up with runs that were usually between 2 and 3 miles.  I.  Was.  Exhausted.  Thank the good Lord above that Amanda is a pretty awesome runner and an even better teacher and running coach.  She taught me to relax my shoulders, find good music, set attainable goals, and stop balling up my fists.  Those teeny tiny lessons have expanded running from something that I loathed into something that I tolerated, and more recently even something that I enjoyed completing. 

There, I said it.  I enjoy finishing a run.  I don't consider myself a runner in any sense of the word, but finishing up 2.5 miles during a sunrise with P!NK blasting in my ear buds has become a bit cathartic for me, and it's helped ease my anxiety a whole helluva lot lately. 

That being said, I regret not doing more brick workouts. 

I also have one more moment I regret.  About 8 weeks ago, I went down to ride with Amanda near Tom's Farm in Corona.  It was my first time riding there, and she warned me about a couple of hills.  I think I let myself get caught up in the warning and on the second to the last hill, I gave up, hopped off my bike and walked it.  Two words come to my mind as I type this: chicken and sh*t.  I regret hopping off my bike.  To this day I'm mad about it, but luckily I was mad enough that two weeks later I sent her a text message that said "I want a re-match with that hill." 

Needless to say, I did not walk my bike up the hill.  I huffed and I puffed and I blew that hill down, well, not really but you get the picture.  I wasn't speedy, I wasn't graceful, and I certainly wasn't lady like about it.  I said bad words, and even Amanda said I could call her names if I wanted to, as long as I was up at the top of the hill when I did it.  That is a moment I do not regret.  I'm grateful for that ride, and the 2.5 mile run that we did afterwards.  In that moment, I felt like I might actually be ready to do a triathalon. 

Before I sign off after this rambling story, I need to tell you that if you're reading this, you need to go read my friend Mae's blog.  She's getting an awesome opportunity to head to NYC and do a photo shoot at Weight Watchers because she is the epitome of a "Success Story" and they finally realized how amazing she is. 

Seriously, go read it.  Fall in love with Mae.  Wish you could snuggle with her awesome Boxer, Bowie.  Then thank me later.