Tri-ed

Well, I did it.  I completed my first sprint distance triathlon.  Hear that deadpan?  Yeah, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much I thought I would.  What?  I thought I would enjoy beating myself to a pulp swimming biking and running for over two hours?  Yeah, silly me.

We arrived in town the afternoon prior to go to packet pickup and the “first timers” clinic.  Not before my girlfriend and I hoped that we’d loaded the bikes on her husband’s bike rack properly (they didn’t fall off on the highway) and not before we realized we hadn’t thought about bike locks (we miraculously “found” one next to the bike in the garage that I didn’t even know was there).

Somehow we managed to do this right.

Somehow we managed to do this right.

I’m glad we went to the first timers clinic.  Even though I read the twelve page rather intimidating information packet before the race, all of the “rules” about biking really were not very clear.  The woman who ran the clinic made everything very clear.  Was I nervous?  No.  Probably should have been, but no.

My girlfriend and I checked into the hotel and went to dinner nearby, taking the opportunity to carb load (wine is a carb, right?) by eating way too much.  Back to the hotel afterwards for an early bedtime.

We had agreed to wake by 4:45am and leave by 5:15, with the goal of being early enough to find parking easily and navigate our first timer selves through all of the unknowns that lay ahead.  We made it to the race site and found it buzzing already even though it was still dark.  It was go time.

We unloaded the bikes.  First up:  to label the bikes with “bike tents” with our race numbers on them.  These are big sticky two sided numbers that go on the bike so if someone can’t see your race number while you’re all hunched over riding, they still can figure out who you are.  After a few tries, we got it well enough and went to get body marked.

At our tri they marked both arms and our right hands with the last three numbers of our race number and then our left calves with our age.  This became really useful later on when I was seeing people pass me…were they older or younger?  Shit, that one is over 50.  Ha.

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Once we had our bodies marked it was time to get into the transition area and set up our bikes.  We had to load in certain racks by our race numbers, so my girlfriend and I were no where near each other.  I went about my business and so did she.  Before long our little areas were all done, and it was still dark out.

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Slowly our other friends started to show up and before long it was time to head down to the beach.  I was in the fourth wave of swimmers, so we watched how each group would line up, get corralled and then walk over the timing mat and into the water.

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Possibly the only time I will ever publicly post photos of me in a swimsuit.

The horn blew and it was go time. As with running, I positioned myself in the back and started out slow.  It was harder than my training swims; I had to drop into breast stroke more than I had planned.  But I plodded on and just got it done.  About two thirds of the way through I saw some new colored caps coming up from behind; the next wave.  Oh well.  No one said I was here to set any records.

Half mile swim:  28:32.

I left the water feeling pretty good.  It was a long slog but I felt I’d done what I could do.  It was a fair distance from the beach to the entrance to transition; at first I was trying to walk it to save energy but it was taking forever so I started to jog.

On my way to the next part of the journey.

On my way to the next part of the journey.

I got into transition and felt calm. I grabbed my towel and mopped off and put on my shirt with my race bib on it. It took a little tangling being wet but I managed. Next up shorts over the suit. Then I quickly rinsed my feet and grabbed a swig of water before drying my feet and putting on the socks and shoes. I put on my helmet and walked my bike out of transition in what I felt was a decent amount of time.

T1: 3:58

Onto the bike and ready to go. Within a minute I felt something pulling hard on my left shoe; I realized my shoelace was wound around my pedal. Shit! I pulled off to the side and tried to unwind it. I could just feel the precious seconds ticking by as it wasn’t unwinding. Finally I had to pull off the entire shoe and slowly unwind it. I managed that, and then retied both shoes in double knots. I was frustrated at the time I lost, but no matter. I had to get moving.

Once out on the course I felt good. I knew all along I didn’t have a racing bike; it is an old bike that I now know is a hybrid road/mountain bike. It is built for tough trails and can take anything. What it doesn’t do well is hills. And when the first one hit, I could feel my energy sap. Oh well, I told myself, the course was supposedly pretty flat so I should be fine.

Yeah, no. There were several pretty decent hills within the first few miles and I was breathing hard through them. It was a struggle even in my lowest gear and I could feel my energy and enthusiasm drain out of me with every person that passed me. While I knew I wasn’t going to be speedy, I had trained enough for this to want a respectable time and I could feel it slipping away with every rise in the road.

But I pushed on and tried to talk myself into a better head space. I was working as hard as I could to move the bike and the course was beautiful. Quintessential New England; historic homes, beautiful landscapes, farms. Finally, finally, I entered back into the park and smiled for the camera as they snapped my picture.

Proof someone was behind me as I closed in on the bike finish.

Proof someone was behind me as I closed in on the bike finish.

11.5 mile bike: 58:51

I ran into transition and went to rack my bike. As I had feared, the rack was completely full because I’d been so slow. I found a spot a foot or so down from my stuff and went to lift the bike. Damn, this sucker is heavy! I couldn’t get it up facing one way so I had to stop, turn it around and try again. Success! Then I just rummaged through my bag for my hat (easy to find) and my handheld water bottle (not easy). After getting both, I tried to jog out of transition dreading what I knew lay ahead on the hilly 5K course.

T2: 1:56

Immediately I knew I was in trouble. All the effort keeping my heavy bike moving had turned my legs to jello. I couldn’t believe how hard even shuffling into the slowest jog felt. I sipped on my handheld bottle and tried to just keep moving forward. As we left transition, I saw the first hill loom in front of me.

I slowed to a walk. I had just no juice left in me at all. I felt completely spent and ready to burst into tears. I told myself that I would just keep moving forward. I would walk until I had enough breath to run, and I would run until I couldn’t any more.

The 5K was on a trail course. It was very hilly, sandy and rooty. It would have been a challenging 5K without having done swimming and biking before it. I absolutely hated every second of it. I had so wanted to enjoy this race but by this time it was everything I had to just keep moving forward and not collapse onto the ground in tears.

It seemed to take forever but finally we left the trails and fortunately for me, the finish line was only about a quarter mile or so beyond. I started jogging and ran as fast as I could towards the time clock, noting gratefully that it said 2:29:30. I had hoped to finish under 2:30 and since my wave started 12 minutes after the first in the water, I knew I’d beaten that by a fair amount.

3.1 mile run: 44:22

Grateful to be crossing the finish line.

Grateful to be crossing the finish line.

I’ve beaten myself up in the time since about finishing last of all of the women in our group doing this triathlon. I couldn’t believe I’d trained so hard, put so much time in and I posted such a poor time. My friends were all lovely even though I was stealing everyone’s joy out of finishing our first triathlon. “Comparison is the thief of joy” and I totally let it suck the amazing accomplishment out of the moment for me. I did the best that I could, I tried to tell myself. But my inner mean girl felt like a fat loser who just couldn’t push herself hard enough.

I now know, after having talked to my local bike shop owner, that my bike was my handicap. He said that the bike is so heavy it is not supposed to be used for racing, and that it simply is harder to move. He congratulated me for completing the course as well as I did considering how much that bike must have taken out of me. He told me I should shave at least ten minutes off of my time to get a truer sense of how hard I’d worked to complete the race.

Now I feel proud of what I did, but also guilty for taking away everyone’s high with my own insecurities and frustrations when I finished the race. I will make it up to them when we repeat this experience again. Because there is no way I will let that experience be my only experience doing a triathlon. I put a deposit down on a new bike today, and I’m already trying to decide when the next one will be.

Finish: 2:17:39

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Road to the Tri: Two Days!

Tri training is nearly over and I can’t even believe it.  Then again, yes I can.  It feels like I’ve been training for this thing forever, and it in reality was the entire summer.  I will have trained for 11 weeks officially for this event, just about as long as I’ve ever trained for any of the halfs I’ve done (you know, all two of them).

Week 9 was done in Spain and while I think I did a pretty darn good job staying active there, it still was extremely difficult to stay on top of training while on vacation.  I swam four times in a super cooled pool (because it is so hot there in the summer, they cool their pools the way we heat ours to keep them warmer when it is cool outside.  I rode a bike once for half an hour before I popped the tire; we never were able to get it fixed.  I walked nearly every day but only ran once (between the weird later schedule we kept there and the heat it was hard).   What threw me off more than the lack of training however was the food and drink that got way out of control.

Week 10 has been alright but I’ve been battling jet lag and just generally feeling over the whole training cycle.  We did another mini triathlon training session last Saturday with my girlfriends, including a half an hour in a pool, 8.7 miles on the bike and a 2 mile run/walk.  It was longer than our previous tri run through, and considering I’d just gotten home from Spain, I thought we did well.  I’ve done a long walk, two very slow runs and this morning, a 8.25 mile bike ride.

I feel at this point that I’m as ready as I can be.  I’ve done a lot of “bricking” in the last three weeks and so I think I know how my body will respond on Sunday when the time comes.  I’m wondering what the swim will be like with everyone all around me, but I know I’ll get through it.  I know I start out tired on the bike but I loosen up around Mile 4 so I will keep telling myself that.  I know the first mile after getting off of the bike is going to suck, but I will slog through.

A few weeks ago I had time goals but at this point I have set all of that aside.  I just want to enjoy the experience and get through it without hating it.  It helps that I have a big group of women doing this with me; I am not sure I would have ever tried this on my own.

At this time on Sunday I should be nearly done with my race.  Wish me luck!

Road to the Tri: Week 8

Finally a week back in the game last week.  I’ve been battling a cold all week but still managed to be active every single day doing at least something.  Here’s what it looked like:

Tues:  3.6 mile walk and 1 mile swim
Wed:  2.8 mile walk
Thu:  60 min yoga
Fri:  60 min bootcamp class
Sat:  .4 mile swim, 5 mile bike, 1.7 mile run
Sun:  4.3 mile run (ridiculously slow)
Mon:  60 min “challenge” class which included 1 mile run and kettlebell/weights/other crazy stuff

It was a solid week that I feel good about, especially our “baby tri” run through on Saturday.  Several girlfriends who are doing this triathlon and I all met up at 7am on Saturday at our local park.  The park has a lake and bike trails and it is where we hold our kids’ triathlons.  I knew it would be a great fit for a lower distance run through of our race (frankly we could have a full one there if we wanted to….it is linked to a long enough bike trail).

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One of our group wasn’t interested in swimming in our little lake, so she took this shot of the rest of us going towards it for our swim.  I honestly love this shot.  It really encapsulates everything about this process that I love…not worrying about what your body looks like but celebrating what it can do.

We swam for about twenty minutes or so back and forth between those two buoys you see.  Beyond there, there’s a lot of plant life in the water and it just feels gross.  But otherwise, the lake swim was beautiful!  It was calm and clear and the sun was just rising.  I loved it.

From there we came back up the beach to transition to the bike.  This was the part I wanted to practice.  I had packed an extra water bottle to “wash off” my feet.  Then I wiped them with my towel and laid down a little washcloth for my clean feet to rest on while I put on my socks.  It worked perfectly!  I put on my socks and shoes (a challenge with wet feet), then I pulled on my shorts and shirt over my suit and headed for the bike.

All in all, not bad.  Hoping for less than 5 minutes in transition there, we’ll see.

We headed out on our bikes, all four of us:

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We intended to go somewhere between four and six miles.  It was less about the distance than worrying about the transitions to be honest.  That said, the bike felt tougher than I had hoped.  I hadn’t biked in over a week at this point and my legs were feeling it, even on our mostly flat trail.  The girls were really hauling it too…my app said that it was my fastest bike ride yet, which might have been why it felt tougher to me.  We nailed five miles in just under 28 minutes.  The girls think we can do our 12 miles on race day in an hour or so, but I’m not so sure.  We clocked this one in at 10.78mi/hour and it felt fast to me.  We’ll see.

Second transition was obviously much faster.  We opted to throw our bikes in our cars which took a few minutes to navigate, and then grab some water before heading around the lake for a run.

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There were four of us and as always happens with me, I worried that I was too slow for the group.  Two of us broke out ahead right away, chatting all the while.  The other woman and I held back (I think she was just trying to keep me company and could have gone faster) as the two who don’t talk and run.  Normally I run with headphones, but apparently that’s out for this race, so it was good practice to just run.  The scenery is lovely around our lake but it is a bit hilly (which apparently is exactly the terrain for our tri run so good practice).  After one lap I was out of breath and really ready to stop.  We took a break and two of us went back on their bikes while two of us opted for another lap.  Because I believe in torture, I decided to do a second lap.

I had to walk some of that second lap, around the big hill on the trail, but otherwise, it was a much faster run than I would normally be able to turn in after biking, I think:  chalk one up for friends who run faster pushing me along.  In the end it was still less than two miles but I still felt good about bricking all three together.  It was great practice and I’d like to try it again one more time after I return from vacation.

All in all a great week of solid workouts.  Hoping to keep it up even while traveling….wish me luck!

Road to the Tri: Weeks 5-7

Yeah, I have missed a few weeks of posting.  It’s been a crazy time with two full weeks of family visiting, a quick trip out of town myself and two local musical productions that the entire family is intimately involved in.  Put that all together with ten days of being computerless and I haven’t had a chance to post about my tri training.

And to be honest, the training has suffered because of all of that too.  I’m not terribly worried about it at this point because I’m still working on it but I certainly haven’t been nailing six days a week of exercise as I had been in the early weeks of July.  That said, I have done:

1 awesome 14 mile bike ride
2 amazing open water swims at a local lake, .6 and 1.0 miles respectively
yoga and bootcamp classes
1 “transition” training session consisting of 1 mile hilly bike, .25 mile run, repeated six times
lots of walking and running

…and now I am fighting off a cold, so while I had the best of intentions this week of getting back on track, I ended up walking instead of running and choosing yoga over cardio yesterday.  I am going to try for my regular kickboxing class this morning and fill the weekend with solid workouts each morning.

We will be leaving for our vacation on Wednesday so I know the workouts will suffer there too.  But the rumor is we will have access to a pool and a gym, and if that is true, I can really get at least a few solid workouts in, even if the weather is hot and the terrain is hilly.  I get back eight days before the race so hopefully that’s enough time to get back on track even if things go terribly south.

I do think I will be ready but I don’t want to just be ready.  I want to rock it!

Wednesday Weigh In

I haven’t posted for several weeks, and it’s not for the reason that people who are trying to lose weight usually stop posting.  I had a major computer malfunction that caused me to have to take my computer in to be repaired.  I dreaded leaving it on that Saturday at the Apple store, not knowing what would happen.

I had no idea that it would be more than ten days before my computer was functional again.  Between the much longer repair time than was quoted and then issues with restoring my data from backups, it took a huge amount of time to get back on track.  Add into the mix family visiting from out of town and things were just a mess (hence no real tri training posts either, have to get back on that too).

Anyway, things are just finally settling in and of course they will get thrown all off kilter next week for our summer vacation, but I’m not going to complain about getting away.  I know that is a good thing, despite how it will make tri training and weight loss a challenge.

That being said I actually am down over a pound from my last weigh in, which is a good thing because the numbers were getting downright frightening.  Like “haven’t seen this number on a scale in over a year” frightening.  Plus I hate that awful feeling that comes when clothes don’t fit and I am unhappy about what I see in the mirror.  I mean I’m never super happy about what I see there but when I get into this area it is much, much worse.

What have I been doing?  Nothing too terribly different, trying to pull back on carb consumption.  Unfortunately the workouts have taken a hit in the last few weeks with family visiting but I’m doing what I can.  But I’m still here, and I’m still trying.

Age:  44
BMI:  29.3
+/- since last weigh in:  -2.2 lbs
Pounds to Goal:  15.2

Weigh In Wednesday

Let me just say it up front….the scale went in the wrong direction this week.  And not by a little either.

I’m flat out mad at myself about it.  Clothes are starting to get snug and for some reason, I still was just not on my food game this week.  I hinted at it in my last post about tri training.  I feel like I am just going backwards and I am not entirely sure why.

I take that back.  I know exactly why.

It’s because I’m not happy.  With me, weight is always a barometer of what is going on in my head.  100 %.  And since I am frustrated and upset in my life right now, I am taking it out in my food choices.   I’m eating and drinking to make myself feel better.  My husband is working late every night right now, and has been doing an awful lot of that over the last few months.

My days mostly go like this:  I eat a solid breakfast, before or after a good workout.  I usually stay strong during lunch, but then the afternoon munchies hit.  I try to make a good choice there, and sometimes I do, but sometimes I don’t.  I might have a second helping at dinner, I might not.

But then I am on the couch alone after the kids are either watching tv in the playroom or off to bed.  And I drink my glass of wine and snack my way through the evening.  And the longer I sit there, the worse it gets.

I’m lonely.  I am unhappy that I don’t have a strong career.  I’m frustrated that the rest of my family isn’t strongly supporting my fitness journey.  I feel like if I want to be truly living a healthier lifestyle I am doomed because no one else in the house wants to do that with me.

I know.  Excuses, all of them.  I am living the same life I was a few months ago when I dropped the weight.  The same life I was last year when I lost the same amount.  It’s a negative thought pattern that just stems from me not believing enough in myself and my strength.  That awful voice that tells me I have always been overweight and will always be overweight.  No matter how many miles I run or salads I eat.

I need to bitchslap that voice.  Somehow.  But today?  This week?  In this moment?  I don’t honestly feel like I have the strength.  Or the will.  Or the motivation.

But I’m going to keep trying.  I haven’t given up.  I have enough belief to at least not give up.

Age:  44
BMI:  29.8
+/- :  +1.2 lbs
Pounds to Current Goal:  17.4 lbs

The Road to the Tri…Week Four

So I’m sitting here feeling alternately accomplished after another week of solid workouts and fat and sluggish having watched the scale spike up in the last five days.  I’ve talked to several people who are also training for the triathlon I’m going to do and most are noticing a bit of a weight gain during this training cycle.  It seems absolute insanity to be so active and feeling so awful about my body at the same time.

This week was back to the training after out of town guests in town last week.  It was a solid week:

Tue:  3.28 mile trail run (12:18 pace)
Wed:  45 min HIIT class
Thu:  3.89 mile walk and 30 min TRX class
Fri:  Rest Day (rain)
Sat:  8.25 mile bike (9.28 mph) and 30 min pool swim
Sun:  Volunteering for 7 hours at kids’ triathlon
Mon:  2.6 mile trail run (13:57 pace) and .56 mile open water swim

I’ve been trying to “brick” a bit here and there because I really need to get a feel for what that is like.  Plus the distances are short enough that half an hour of a workout isn’t really enough.

It feels weird to not be logging the miles on foot as much as usual but I am really enjoying the swimming and biking.  On Saturday morning two girlfriends and I went out together for a shorter bike ride (we did nearly 7 together, the rest is me riding to and from to meet them) and then swam in a pool for half an hour.  We didn’t touch sides or bottom for half an hour.  It wasn’t easy but we did it.  It was good practice for our big day yesterday.

Yesterday we had a chance to go for an open water swim on a local lake.  One of our tri group has a friend who is part of a private club there and she brought us in as guests.  It was awesome!  Tough, and challenging of course, but totally allayed our fears of the open water swim.   To be honest, the half mile was much longer than I thought it would be just looking at it.  But just like running and biking, we went slow and steady, and we took breaks when we needed to.  Some of us could freestyle it the whole way.  I couldn’t; I had to alternate between freestyle and breast stroke.  The women from the lake club came out and went alongside us in paddle boards and kayaks and coached us along.  It was a great environment to do the first swim.  It honestly made me even more excited and eager to get to our tri.

So onto another week of training.  Hoping to get more of a handle on my eating and filling my hunger with wholesome, fueling foods that doesn’t derail all of the hard training work I am putting in.  It’s a weird feeling to feel fat and unhappy while feeling strong and fit at the same time.  I need to get it under control.  I want this experience to be all around awesome!

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