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Don’t tri, just do it!

31 Jul

Were you starting to get worried? No, I didn’t drown in Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg on tri day (if you’re not up to date, yes, that really is the name of the lake). In fact, I dare say I showed that lake who’s boss! I stuck to my plan of starting in the back, so as not to encounter the same terrifying situation as last year. If I had to do it again, I’d start more in the middle (I got stuck behind some slower people who I just couldn’t get past, which slowed me down) but overall—success! I didn’t have any scary moments, I felt good during the entire swim and I even remembered to use some of the great swim strategies Audrey showed me. Hooray!

I'm out there somewhere!

The bike…..well, the bike kicked my ass. I don’t know what happened, but from the moment I got on the bike my legs felt like lead. I don’t know if I didn’t train enough (I definitely could have trained more, I’m not just being hard on myself there), or if it was just one of those days but the whole biking leg of the tri felt like a battle. There is also a KILLER hill (one mile up) about 4 miles in, which at least 75% of the people get off their bikes for. I’m not ashamed to say I was one of those people, but I’m determined to beat that hill next year. It’s good to have a goal 🙂

The run was good— it’s my comfort zone. I may not be the fastest runner, I may not have the best form, I may not set records, but I’m so familiar with it, it’s like seeing a good friend at the end of a long journey. My knee held out— no pain until mile 3, which is what’s normal for me now, so I was happy. I felt good, but I was really cautious not to overdo it— I didn’t want to cause any further injury to my knee since I need to be focused on getting back to normal!

And then my favorite part…crossing the finish line! Yeah, it’s about the journey, not the destination, but the finish line is always a great feeling. I’ve never doubted my ability to make it there, but crossing the line is still a validation of my effort, determination, struggle and yes, I still feel in that moment a victory and affirmation of the changes I’ve made in my life.

But I can’t lie, there was a solid 24 hours after the race when what was at the top of my mind was the fact that my time for this years tri was seven minutes longer than my time from last year. I was disappointed. Sure, my knee slowed down and shortened the time I had to train. But I didn’t want to make excuses, I didn’t want that to be a barrier to being better. Because if there’s one thing I always want to be, it’s better than myself.

I couldn’t seem to shake my disappointment. Until Monday afternoon, when James and I sat down to watch the video he had taped of the triathlon. On the tape, shortly after I started swimming, you can hear my mom say “…two years ago, she never would have done this…”

And it was precisely the jolt I needed to hear, as I watched myself start to swim. Because she’s right. Two years ago I would have NEVER EVER EVER imagined myself completing a triathlon (let alone two!). If you had suggested such a thing, I probably would have laughed, told you at least 5 reasons why it was a ridiculous idea, and laughed some more. Why had I allowed myself to lose sight of that in the face of seven extra minutes? And as I continued to watch the video, I found the feeling my disappointment hadn’t let me feel. I felt really proud of me. And that’s how I should have felt all along.

Last Sunday, I was once again surrounded by more than 2,000 women of all ages, backgrounds, shapes and sizes. And I have to tell you that in looking back on those moments I realize I think we all too often sell ourselves short. We don’t believe in ourselves enough. We think we can’t or shouldn’t do something because we aren’t the smartest, best, fastest, prettiest, thinnest. Because we don’t have enough time, energy, resources. Because it won’t be easy. Whatever the excuse may be. We don’t even let ourselves start.

But once we do, we’re amazed by what we can accomplish. If you looked around on Sunday, you would have seen a vastly different group of women. But looking closer, I think you see a group of women who are remarkably the same. A beautiful group of women who had surely been toiling over the same goal for weeks, months, maybe all year. Maybe years. A group of women who had the strength to start, and to keep on going.

If all those women listened to the voices of doubt in their heads, I’d have been standing on an empty beach on Sunday. If I listened to mine, I wouldn’t have been there to see it. But I was there, and so were they— a beach of 2,000 amazing, beautiful, fabulous women who will all tell you: If I can do it, so can you.

One more mile. 5 more days.

21 Jul

Darn me and my ingredients label reading. I couldn’t bring myself to eat my Lean Cuisine lunch today because I don’t know what maltodextrine or xanthan gum are. I didn’t even Google it, I just headed right out to the local market and got a veggie wrap. Which got me wondering what the ingredients in the spinach wrap itself are! Just like trying to eat low-calorie and low-fat, trying to eat naturally requires thinking ahead and planning. Lack of planning often leads to bad choices (especially for a hypoglycemic like me–bad choices that quickly make you feel better) that aren’t the healthiest. Personally, I tend to go straight for the Coca-Cola, or maybe a chocolate bar, or maybe BOTH to fend off the shaky, lightheaded, bee-otchy feeling that overcomes me when my blood sugar is too low. But at the same time, because I’ve tried to take control of my hypoglycemia, I’m used to planning ahead to avoid that feeling.

And this week the planning ahead has gone quite well! I made quinoa for the first time, which was very tasty. I’ve had the box in my cabinet for over a month because I wasn’t sure what to do with it. So I looked up a recipe and voila—quinoa!!! I had it with leftover baked tofu (I found the recipe on Healthy Tipping Point— it was delish!).

I went for a run last night, which went well. NO knee pain! Hooray! It was HOT, but I didn’t want to wimp out on my run because, hey—it could be HOT HOT HOT on Sunday!

Also I am planning on wearing a hat on tri day and I’ve never run with one before— I wanted to get a feel for it. I recently cut my hair shorter and it won’t all go up into a ponytail, so I figured a hat was the best solution for keeping it out of my face. It might seem silly to want to “practice” running in a hat, but something like that could really throw me off if it was annoying or didn’t help! Or if it was ugly 🙂 But it was all good! I love that it says “One More Mile”…for some reason those three short words give me the extra motivation to keep on going!

Busy Bee

19 Jul

Saturday was a wash as far as exercise goes. James’ band had a show, and then there was a late-night ER visit for a friend who had a concussion…so we didn’t get home until 7:30 am. That certainly justifies sleeping til noon. I was still very tired once I woke up, and the swim and bike ride we had planned was something I didn’t feel physically OR mentally capable of. So that just meant that Sunday suddenly became a super-active, super-busy (but great!) day. No time to slack off! James & I started off with an hour bike ride, sprinkled with a quick run and topped with a gorgeous view. There is a KILLER hill to get up here, so the fact that our bike ride was shorter than usual didn’t make me feel so bad. I was still feeling really tired, and the fact that it was hot and I was incredibly thirsty didn’t help the overall weak feeling I had, but James really pushed me (in a good way!) to give it my all.
Then it was off to the farmer’s market for fresh veggies and live music by a friend’s band…oh yeah, there was also fresh black raspberry ice cream and organic pizza topped with nasturtium (flowers! On pizza! How fabulous!). We shared, so I didn’t feel bad about indulging.Next up was swimming. We went to a local lake, and since we weren’t town residents it was $17 to get in. 17 dollars! It was worth it, though, because I really need the swim practice. James watched out for my form while I swam some laps. And of course we goofed off for a bit, too, because all work and no play isn’t much fun! Honestly, though, I hate swimming in lakes. It creeps me out a bit. And no one was swimming all the way out to the buoys like I was, so I started envisioning monstruous lake creatures waiting out there to eat me. The good thing about swimming with goggles on is that you can see— and the bad thing about swimming with goggles on is that you can see! Seeing long green slimy grass or even a bunch of rocks makes me think of the creatures that would love to call it home….eww! I think I have too much of an imagination sometimes 🙂 In reality, I know that no lake creature is going to eat me…maybe!

Nine Days

16 Jul

I know I said this already, but the triathlon has really snuck up on me this year. I can’t believe its only NINE days away! Maybe it’s a matter of knowing what I’m in for this year, but I like this relaxed feeling. I hope it carries all the way through the big day. Don’t get me wrong, when I started reading through the athlete info guide they released this week, I kinda wanted to vomit for a few seconds. But it went away quickly 🙂

I remember last year, I was SO SO nervous the two days leading up to the triathlon. I was a ball of nervous anticipation and excitement. It was like creaking up an old rollercoaster for days. But on the morning of the tri, which should have been the top of the rollercoaster, the height of nervous anticipation and excitement and energy, I was incredibly calm. I can honestly say I was not at all nervous on that day. I was sooooooo ready. So focused and care free. It was great. I hope I can have that same feeling again. It’s my natural tendency to worry, something I’d been working on a lot, so the fact that I was so calm and clear-headed is one of the things I’m most happy about when I think about that day.

Then there’s swimming. I survived last year’s swim, but it wasn’t pretty. I’ll never forget the feeling of choking on the lake water, of being only a few seconds in to the start of the tri and feeling panic sweep over me. It was awful. And I think it’s an experience that has only been amplified by my memory of it. Last year, I was most nervous about the swim. This year, I’m most nervous about the swim AND I have a reason to be. Eeek! But the amazing Audrey took Lola & I for a swim practice the other day, which was wonderful, went great and made me feel much better. We’re going to go again next week, and James is going to go with me this weekend, so hopefully it’ll all be enough to boost my confidence and push away my bad memories.

And since somehow, the triathlon is next weekend (oh my gosh I know I can’t stop saying this, but I still can’t believe it!) I’ve already made my packing list for the weekend of the tri, in an effort to calm any nerves that may arise next week. I just feel better when I’m organized. Although I’m sure James & I will be going through the same routine as last year–we sat in my apartment and talked out every step of the next 30 or so hours of my life and all the things necessary to be properly equipped for those hours, in order to make sure I had packed everything I would need. And I still managed to forget my balloon (although thankfully James was at the race site at 4:45am the next day, balloon in hand).

I have an interesting new outfit for the triathlon. I had ordered a new tri top–OBVIOUSLY cannot wear the same thing two years in row 😉 — but the company didn’t send me what I ordered. Instead, they sent me what I like to call my triathlon catsuit.When I pulled it out of the box, I laughed. I initially tried it on only for laughs; it’s a one-piece triathlon suit, so the shorts are attached to the top. I was figuring this would be a body-image nightmare. But when I tried it on….it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t much different from my tri shorts and top, and it was comfortable. So…I decided to stick with it! Comfort is key, and I like that since the top and shorts are attached, I won’t have to worry about my top riding up or moving around. And anyway, let’s face it, a triathlon is not the time to worry about being super cute. It’s the time to worry about…nothing 🙂

Be here now.

14 Jul

Somehow, the triathlon has crept up on me. Last year it was looming large, shadowing everything I did. This year, it’s quieter, a pinpoint on the map of a jam-packed summer.

I’ve felt bad about my lower level of intensity, constantly telling myself I need to pick it up, work harder, do more, be better. Get back to where I was. Lose 5 pounds. No, 10 pounds.

But something in my mindset has shifted yet again.

Yeah, you know what, I’d like to weigh a little less. But right now, it’s ok. I honestly do feel like I could stand to lose a few pounds. But overall, I FEEL good. Being active, eating right, it’s an ongoing effort that I’ve made a part of my life. And that’s better than working to achieve a short-term goal. The transformation I went through last year, it’s complete, and yet it’s not complete. It’s every day. And that’s what I wanted, that’s what I set out to achieve for myself.

And in this ongoing effort, yes, I’m going to skip the gym sometimes. And it’s ok! I’m going to struggle a bit with my knee, but you know what? My 5K time actually isn’t that much worse with an injury than without it. And that’s ok, too! Because overall, I’ve made exercise a can’t-live-without-it part of my life.

And food….ah, yes, food. I’m going to eat too much sometimes, or eat the wrong things. I’m ok with that. Mostly, I want eating to be about health, about energy, about properly fueling my body. But sometimes, I want it to be about enjoyment, about friendship and family and love, when sitting around a table with great people or seeking out an ice cream cone on a hot summer day is about adding to the great moments in my life, not counting the points in my meal.

Otherwise, will it ever end? At my thinnest, I still wanted to lose 5 more pounds, when everyone else was telling me to stop. I think, if I choose to focus on weight, I’ll always want to lose 5 more pounds.

I want to be here now. Be. Here. Now.

I could focus on a year ago, when I was 10 pounds thinner. I could focus on last month, when I should have done more. I could focus on next month, when I’d like to weigh 5 pounds less than I do now.

Instead, I want to be here. I want to be in the right now and make good choices, but not beat myself up for the slip-ups or the lazy days. I want to love myself for who I am today. Because I love who I’ve become, a healthy person who is more likely to be running a 5K or climbing a mountain on a Saturday morning than sleeping in; someone who tries her best to eat naturally and organically but still can’t seem to resist the occassional french fry.

News flash

6 May

News flash: this year is not going as planned.

Duh.

Honestly, most of the greatest things in my life have been unexpected and outside of my envisioned “plan” for myself. I have actually been MORE successful when I set goals but don’t painstakingly plot out, point-by-point, the path I’ll take to get there.

So, when Lola and I made a 2010, prep-for-the-triathlon-5K-super-schedule, I should have known that life sometimes invades the most well-intentioned plans. And that the happiest, most successful people learn how to suck it up and move forward in whatever capacity they can. I’d like to always be one of those people, but I can’t deny that I’ve faltered a bit here.

Even so, I’ve never questioned that I will still be standing on the shores of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg early the morning of July 25th (yes, that really is the name of the lake, and isn’t it just fitting that its name isn’t simple, either). If it means that I run in pain, then I’ll be running in pain. I hope not to be, but if so, oh well. I’ll deal with it. I still have 79 days from today to strengthen my knee and get better. I’m confident that I’ll be standing strong that morning.

A positive outlook, one in which I thought only about today and didn’t worry needlessly about tomorrow, is what got me so far last year. Very few things worth achieving are achieved without a struggle, and I don’t want to be the kind of person who wilts at the idea of something that won’t come easy.

I can’t leave behind the lessons I’ve learned– that what I want, simply and honestly, is to be happy. That I’ve found pursuing happiness rarely leads to happiness; pursue other things, and you find happiness.

And I find true happiness in running and writing….they keep me invigorated, give me energy and make me feel vibrantly alive. I need to pursue them without focusing on the obstacles that might stand in my way, because whatever personal successes come from the pursuit of those things are all that I need- no more, no less.

The bee is back!

28 Sep

I guess I couldn’t stay away for too long. Writing, like running, is a cleansing thing for me. And maybe you’re wondering….what happened next? And I hope I don’t disappoint.

But truth is, what happened next is an unwinding. Relaxation. Rest. Recovery. I needed it. To focus so intently on a goal for so long, to be physically and mentally moving so constantly, to remove all distractions and never waver…it’s exhausting. It was a phenomenal feeling of accomplishment to cross the finish line. And then I needed to not be doing it anymore. Just for a little while.

When I crossed that finish line I was a different person than the day I signed up for the race. Achieving everything you’ve set out to achieve is as awe-inspiring as it is humbling. Somehow, by the time I crossed that line, everything else in my life had fallen into place. Some things had changed drastically, others hadn’t changed at all. But my outlook on everything had changed- so therefore, everything was different. Everything was better.

And, perhaps one of the most mystifying things of all- in the midst of all of this, in the midst of not trying, of not thinking about dating, of not wanting to date, of being happy being just me- I met the greatest guy. By the time I crossed that finish line I was falling in love. And that was the one thing I didn’t really dream would actually happen. But somehow, by making other things happen- things for me happen- that happened, too.

I know that it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gotten myself to a good place. My mom once told me that I had to focus on myself, on what I wanted, what made me happy, before I could ever hope to find a good relationship. Honestly, at the time, I thought she was missing the point- she had no idea what it felt like to be me, 26 and single for years, when she, at 26, was married and pregnant with me. Oh boy, I should have known better. As I think I’ve said before, my mom is smart and pretty much always right. Despite knowing that, I brushed off her comments at the time. But I never forgot the conversation we had, and I’ve since realized that she was right.

There are some things in life, like completing a triathlon, that you can work towards, and, through lots of hard work and effort, achieve. There are other things, like love, that you just can’t. You just have to get yourself to a place where you’ll be ready for it, should it come into your life. Without knowing it, I wasn’t ready before. And then, also without knowing it, I was. And love walked in.

Believe me, I’m well aware of how cliched and storybook-ending that sounds. And I don’t care, because it’s what happened. Cliches are cliches for a reason- because they’re true more often than not, and there is no such thing as a storybook-ending and I’m well aware of that. (Ok, that’s not quite true- I’ll always hold out for the storybook ending. My version of the storybook, that is). The point is…well, there’s lots of points, aren’t there? But ultimately, it’s just like I said in the beginning- it’s all in how you look at things. It’s that complicated, and it’s that simple. It’s still pretty emotional for me when I think about the past nine or so months- how far I’ve come, how hard I’ve worked, how happiness came once I stopped trying so hard to have it.

Somewhere in this period of recovery came another realization. While I needed to slow down, I really don’t want to lose my momentum, I don’t want to stop here. I decided I want to do the triathlon again next year- and I still don’t really know if I can pinpoint why. I just do. And so I will. Isn’t that how it’s always worked? I know that, moving forward, I want and need more of a balance between this and everything else. Before, it consumed me, and that was a good thing. Now, making sure it doesn’t consume me will also be a good thing. By focusing on that one thing for a while, I emerged with a well-rounded life, a new appreciation for every piece of it, and a fresh outlook on what’s to come. And I’m going to run with that.