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.

 

 

Moved!

Last time we “spoke”, I mentioned we were moving but didn’t know where we were going yet. We looked at one place that seemed certain but fell through. That was a bit disheartening but it turned out SO MUCH BETTER for us. We ended up renting a wonderful, beautiful house from friends.  It’s a LOT more space than we need but it immediately felt like home. And we’re excited to set up some extra rooms for guests and actually be able to host friends that are visiting from either across the country or, in at least one upcoming case, across the world.

In addition to moving there have been a couple of other big changes.

  • I was diagnosed with “severe diabetes”. There were almost no warning signs (my glucose was a little high once). It explains some symptoms I was having but they weren’t really bothering me. In fact, I felt AMAZING. Amazing. Until they put me on meds. Then I felt anything but amazing. But as I’ve adjusted, I’m starting to feel good again. (Assuming I eat well and work out.)
  • I am enrolled in classes for the fall semester. The original plan was to pursue a Criminal Justice degree but after much consideration, I decided that as appealing as “victim advocacy” sounded, the actual study would only be applicable domestically and probably would not do much for any work I wanted to do in the Philippines. After speaking with an advisor, I’m working with the Public Health Education program with the intention of getting a Masters. I will be taking some undergrad courses to get me up to speed and to give me time to talk to the head of the program though.

Thankfully school will start about a month after the race. I’m still training although I’ve only been running and swimming. I’m faster than I’ve ever been and watching pace numbers drop kinda makes running fun. I still have spent almost no time on the bike. I think I have a touch of trauma from the last time I rode seriously . Regardless, it’s my weakest area BY FAR right now so I have to focus on that piece the next few weeks. But once the race is over, I’ll be focusing on strength training over the winter. I’m faster than ever…I’m also weaker than ever. That was painfully apparent during the move. But spending time in a weight room is much more appealing during the cold gray months.

And that’s where we are. It’s a good place.

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.

Tri Season

I’ve been fascinated with the sport of triathlon for quite awhile. Years in fact. A couple of years ago I did a super short race (200m swim, 3 mile bike, 1 mile run) with absolutely no training. It was hot. It was hard. And I loved it…several hours later. I signed up to do one that fall…and again neglected to do any training. I DNF’d after getting horribly sick on the bike.

Fast forward past a few random 5ks. This year I was determined to train quietly, focus on swimming and biking and strength training and attempt racing again next year. Then I went to SE Asia for 10 days and came back 20 pounds lighter. After five years of eating well, training and the extra weight inexplicably refusing to budge, suddenly it’s disappearing at a satisfactory rate. I have no idea why but I feel pretty great so I’m running with it. Um…quite literally.

I’ve never considered myself an athlete (I’m not exactly coordinated) but this year I signed up to play softball (THAT’S a learning curve). And after talking with a friend, I signed up to do the same triathlon I did two years ago, but double the distance. True confession – there’s also a longer version that’s 4x what I originally did. And I was tempted. The race is at the end of July. I have thirteen weeks to train. But given my previous history with training I opted to stick with the middle distance while (VERY) tentatively eyeing another race in mid August with an actual Sprint distance.

Yesterday I went and bought new running shoes. After a couple of years of trying to save money, I have returned to my beloved Brooks Adrenaline line. I also grabbed an extra swim suit & a couple of pairs of capris & shorts that I can run in without them falling off. Hubs pulled out my bikes and aired up the tires.

There is a lot to do. I haven’t run more than a couple of times in…yeah. Long time. I have a road bike with cages on the pedals that I have to learn to ride. (I’m used to a mountain bike with basic flat pedals). And my swim…yikes. My training plan called for 15 mins in the pool this morning. I scoffed. Fifteen minutes. Pfft. I headed to the Y this morning fully expecting to bust out an easy half hour. I did not take into account the fact that at 5:30 in the AM at the Y…the pool is full of ultra intense and serious athletes that don’t even pause in their super fast flip turning laps long enough for someone to ask to share a lane.

It was intimidating. But I was just about to jump in a lane and let the other occupant figure it out when the life guard pointed at a spot for me. I bobbed under the ropes until I got there. The guy in the next lane over was buddies with my lane partner so we switched and I got a lane to myself for approximately two laps. Regardless, I climbed out after fifteen minutes wondering if I had dreamed every other swim I’ve ever done. I’ve never been fast but this was a struggle on an entirely different level. I never did get my breathing rhythm.

Tonight calls for a 20 min run. The wind outside is approaching seemingly hurricane levels so I think I’ll be cheating with a treadmill for this time.

 

 

The gift of giving gifts

My husband ranks at Jedi Master level in the art of gift giving. He finds the perfect gifts, usually at a screaming deal. And often, it will not have even crossed your mind to want the item but you open the package to find something that fits your personality/lifestyle/hobbies/interests so precisely that you wonder how you could have ever overlooked it.

For example – my Christmas gift last year was a set of posters depicting the main characters from “Firefly“. It’s one of my favorite shows. I watch the one, lonely season that was produced at least once a year. So he found these posters, had the frames made and hung them in our room. I had never considered using Firefly decor in our room. But it’s so cool. I just stare at that wall sometimes in full fangirl geekdom.

He loves to give gifts. And he’s AMAZINGLY gifted at giving gifts. He also loves to receive gifts.

On the other hand….there’s me. Getting gifts stresses me out because I don’t want to disappoint the giver if I don’t love it enough…and I kinda wear my emotions/thoughts openly in my expressions so if they know me at ALL, they would know if I didn’t love it. (I should note that I have always been extremely happy that someone would take the time and energy to get me a gift.) (I should ALSO note that only once in my lifetime have I received a “bad” gift. But that’s another story. All that to say I don’t know why it’s still an issue for me.) And as far as giving gifts? I stink at it. Like – I’m really REALLY bad at it. My poor husband has endured seven years of lackluster gifts. Although, to be fair, I’ve never bought him a tie. Or socks. There was the year I got him slippers but he asked for those.

This year he finally gave up, made an Amazon wish list and emailed it to me. Part of me is sad that I seem to lack the ability to come up with the perfect creative, unexpected gift. But mostly? I’m just relieved. He won’t be totally surprised. But he’s guaranteed to like whatever I choose for him. And the list? Maybe one of the best gifts he’s ever given me.

 

Thanksgiving?

I think I’ve mentioned this before but I live a charmed life. Seriously. But I don’t participate in “30 Days of Thanksgiving” or anything like that because history shows, if I commit to do something like that, I am less likely to do anything even slightly resembling my commitment. I will take pictures daily and be aware of beautiful, wonderful moments in my life…but the moment I sign up for “100 Happy Days” or whatever the flip it’s called…pft. Pictures? I have a camera?

I have been slowly becoming more aware of moments of thankfulness and more conscious of actually including God in those moments with quick prayer of thanks instead of fleeting thoughts of contentment. But recently I’ve found this dangerous irritating little voice whispering in the back of my head.

Me: “Gorgeous sunrise. Thank you for a beautiful start to this clear day. I love driving in clear weather.”

Dangerous whisper: “Yeah…but would you still have a thankful heart if there was a foot of snow on the ground and nothing but gray clouds overhead?”

Me: “I love my home so much. Thank you for providing this beautiful shelter and the opportunity to indulge in Thanksgiving cooking!”

Dangerous whisper: “What if you were spending Thanksgiving in a hospital? Or a homeless shelter? What would your attitude be like, your prayers sound like?”

This voice is dangerous because it’s prompting me to start adding a layer to my conversations with God. It’s causing me to start asking, not for more moments of contentment, but a heart and spirit that is prepared to be thankful and content in situations that aren’t beautiful, warm & cozy.

20151124_193906I am still incredibly grateful for the plethora of warm fuzzy moments that I’m experiencing. I mean seriously – this was my view while baking pies this week. A cat napping near a fireplace…it doesn’t get more warm & fuzzy than that. At the same time, I am aware that my comfort isn’t what is important…and it’s definitely not guaranteed. Would I still maintain a grateful heart and deep rooted joy even in the midst of hard times?