Tri me: The big day

The morning of the race, I woke up bright eyed and bushy-tailed at 5 a.m. (I always wake up SUPER AWAKE, ENERGETIC and READY TO GO. It’s so annoying). I had butterflies in my stomach; the kind I haven’t felt since my competitive diving days.

I had my Blood Orange Greek yogurt and cottage cheese as I do every single morning (nothing new on race day!) and waited for pestered my husband  C to wake up. The race started at 8 a.m.; official referee meeting at 7:20, swim warm-up was at 7:15 (which I had no intentions of doing, thankyouverymuch, it was way too cold for that and I didn’t want to stand around in a wet suit). I hadn’t picked up my race-day packet yet because I was lollygagging on the lake the day before. I don’t really know what I was thinking leaving my house at 6:20 for a 20 minute drive to the race area itself and fit all that in but it was ill-conceived; I got all rushed and flustered and yelled at  urged C to move faster:

“Let’s go!! Where’s my coffee mug?”

“Where’s my headband? Did I pack two?”

“How do you know the bike wheel won’t fall off after you take it apart to fit in the car?!”

“Should I pee again?”

“OMG, what if I have to poop?! What if I poop my pants?”

“Let’s go! Get my coffee mug! Did I pack two headbands?”

“Do you think the line to the Port-o-Potty will be long? What if I have the bubble guts?”

Oh, he wanted to kill me.

We finally arrive at 6:50. It was looking to be a perfect day; not too hot but not chilly, sunny; just a perfect day. After more panicking about getting my packet on time, I was body-marked and chipped. Newbie moment #1: I had to peek at other racers to see how they attached their bike numbers AND how they attached the ankle foam chip thing. Tee hee.

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Pretty much everyone had wetsuits and racing bikes. I was, however, unique in that I was chugging the rest of my coffee (caffeine really gives me a good jolt!) from an Uncommon Grounds mug while everyone was sipping water and sucking on gel packs.

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gear

Gear set for transition

The Swim (500 yards in the Champlain Canal system)

The canal water was not nearly as cold as I thought it was going to be. Huge relief!  The race was well-organized and small so there was absolutely no panicked entries into the water; no flailing about or kicking feet down my throat. We tread water for about a minute then started off. I felt good and prepared. Remember, this was my first open water swim- ever. At one point however I did think I was going to drown because my heart was racing so fast from so much excitement/ exertion / effort to escape the pee I had left behind at the start line (turns out I didn’t poop my pants, but did pee my wetsuit. Oops!) I didn’t even choke down too much PCB-laden water!

swim tri

tri1

My dad, C, and sister snuck down to the start to see me off

At least I don’t look awkward putting my shirt on…

tri swimThe Bike (12 miles)

I had an AWESOME transition location, I think because in my true cheap-ass well-thought out fashion I had signed up super early (and gotten a discount). Super quick transition.

Soon after I got  riding, I swear I actually heard people pitying my bike. Not in a mean way, just a WTF are you riding? Nice try on that thing but you couldn’t have borrowed someone’s road bike for the day?!

There was a steep hill to start, around mile 2, but my legs recovered. Newbie moment #2: I kept thinking there were cars coming up beside me to pass..,turns out they were just fancy road bikes. Going really fast. I think 20 or 30 people passed me. Oh well. I turned on my Garmin GPS that I had attached to the bike which ended up being really helpful in gauging my speed (4:00 pace for what it’s worth)

 The Run

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I was feelin’ good! Nice quick transition. No rushing. Heavy legs at the start. I was very thrown off by not being able to listen to my music. I could hear my feet slapping the ground and my panting! Soon though I rounded a corner and I saw my mom and her boyfriend there cheering me on.  I had no clue they were going to be there. I was so proud and happy and surprised that it energized me and got me through the next three miles of flat ground throughout Schuylerville.

 The finish!


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Swim 500 yards T1 Bike 12 miles T2 Run 3.1 miles

Total

09:05 1:47107th place 44:53165th 0:36 :24:5964th

1:21:19-

110th place

….and then I basically did this the rest of the day:

post triathlon

 

Getting ready to Tri

Here it was, the week before the sprint triathlon. I tapered my workouts to the following; a bike preview on Monday of the course, running 5 miles on Wednesday, skipped all strength training, and did a slow and slightly painful 4.75m on Friday.  I was feeling way more excited than nervous but I was VERY concerned about the water temp of the canal (Hudson River); it was gong to be around 70 degrees which can shock your system. I was pretty convinced someone was going to kick me and I’d panic and swallow a ton of PCB filled canal water. (Spoiler: I didn’t)

The bike preview that Monday was a great idea; it was a low-stress way to get oriented with the roads and calm my nerves. Unlike most people, I was most nervous about the biking portion of the race. I had a Diamondback hybrid meant for casual Sunday spins, not triathlons. Spoiler: using that bike was a mistake. Not a disastrous one per se, but definitely a mistake.

We arrived at the Hudson Crossing Park bike transition area and there were about 12 other bikers there preparing. I ran into a nice lady I happened to have taken a Spanish course in college with and we took off to familiarize ourselves with the course. It was… hilly. And laborious. To say the least. I become more worried about my bike. EVERYONE (except one 15-year-old girl who told me she literally hadn’t swam since last year’s triathlon and was using a mountain bike) had nice road bikes. My bike’s thick tires and heavy frame was ill-fiting for a triathlon and I knew this was something I knew going into it. I made a joke about it. No one laughed.

not a triathlon bike.

not a triathlon bike.

Bike course

Bike course

 

Then Saturday, the day before the race, we went up to Lake George on my dad’s boat for the first time this season. Lake George is one of my most favorite places in the world to be. The water was a brisk 63 so I made a point of lowering myself in dramatically and vocally lamenting to anyone who would listen over how cold I would be the following morning in the canal.

For our late lunch at the lake, I really took advantage of the idea of “carb loading”. French fries, chicken wings, pretzels with cheddar sauce, soft-serve ice cream; I said no to nothing! I got home and got all my gear ready:

took me about 3 days to compile everything I needed

took me about 3 weeks of intense Coach YouTube research to compile my gear

– towel for drying off my feet

– chamois for drying off my body

– Pearl Izumi triathlon suit (LOVED this – no chafing, good support, right level of padding)

– sports bra (when a tri-sut just won’t hold the ladies down)

– sweats and warm-up shirt

– socks filled with Gold Bond powder

– Gold Bond powder to fill my sneakers (this worked out great)

– tight headband (could never, ever workout without it!)

– Bag Balm for lube (so what if it’s for cow udders)

– Garmin GPS watch to use on my bike to track my pace

– regular watch to time the whole race and splits as Garmin can’t go underwater

– iPod for warm-up motivation tunes (I was reminded many times the day of NO MUSIC ALLOWED DURING THE RACE)

– ibuprofen

– goggles full of spit 🙂

-swim cap to wear under my race-official one for warmth and in case it ripped (I didn’t end up doing this)

 

I went to bed early (it was still sort of light out!) and dreamt of drowning in the Hudson River.

More to come!

Tri Training Schedule

In the past few years, I’ve realized I need exercise like I need food. Or human interaction. Or fresh air. Or Pinterest. Meaning it’s almost a 100% absolute daily necessity. Days in which I am inactive, I get cranky, unmotivated and lethargic. I have accepted that exercise just needs to be part of my routine like washing my hair or my face. JK, I don’t do that every day!

I thought I would digitally preserve on this here web log (commonly referred to as a “blog”) my training schedule so I can look back and see what I was doing. I can’t imagine anyone would care about this but here it the fitness plan I try to stick to.

[Please remind me of this dogged enthusiasm towards physical fitness when I am old or pregnant or fat and I say, “Nah, that was fun for a while, but I’m over it. Walking’s good for me.”]

Sunday: HIIT for 20 minutes OR run about 3 miles-6 mile then// Swim 1000 in 19:00// sometimes bike 5 miles 24 minutes

Monday: I tutor after school, rest day! Which isn’t truly a rest day… because I’m tutoring an academically-reluctant 7th grader.

Tuesday:  Spin class with my favorite instructor, Tom. 60 minutes // Sometimes I run a few laps beforehand to get the HR up.

Wednesday: 5-7 mile run 8:20 pace. // Mini-hike with the dogs 1.5 miles

Thursday:  lately I have been running to the gym and back on our wonderful city-maintained trail! Which is a 2 mile run then// 40 minutes full-body strength training with power-sets because I can’t stand standing around in that sweat box with all the meat heads in close proximity. Running home after 3 legs sets just about kills me. I almost started walking the other day.

Friday: feeling burnt out, so an uninspired 2 mile tempo run then // cardio circuit while I read gossip magazines Ladies Home Journal because that’s all the Y offers (elliptical 14-18  mins, ARC trainer 15-18 mins).

Saturday: Saturday is long run day, my favorite day! I drink 2 cups of coffee then run 8-10 miles, snow, rain, or shine. (75 minutes) Then// mini-hike with the dogs 1.5 miles.

 

Oh and here’s a cool visual report from April I just realized I could do on beginnertriathlete.com if you’re interested

beginnertriapril

Steps 1-4 of completing a successful triathlon- for newbies

Tri. Don’t die.

1. First of all, get the terminology right. You don’t “run” a triathlon. You “complete”  or “do”  a triathlon. Triathlon is a 3-sport event. In two parts, you’re not even running at all!

Other initial, important terminology:

  • BRIC: training 2 or 3 of the tri events, one after another. Bike then run, swim then bike, run then collapse, etc. (I’m pretty convinced BRIC actually stands for something but the interweb experts say it’s so named because your legs feel like bricks after the bike. Well, then, it should be spelled as such. Anyway.)
  • Tri-suit: the ravishingly unflattering unitard you wear that you can swim, bike and run in without changing or essentially adding anything to. The key is to get one with the right about of butt padding- no one wants to run with a “wet diaper”. An option is to purchase or rent a true wetsuit material if you’re competing in water under 74 degrees (bitchin’ cold!). Remember, rookies, if you are wearing a wetsuit, THE ZIPPER GOES IN BACK.

    pearl isumi

    Basically an expensive, adult, athletic onesie.

  • HRM: heart rate monitor. Essential for optimal training; I won’t work out without mine. Thanks, dear husband; it was the best present you ever gave me besides your undying love and affection!
  • Sighting: during the swim, keeping your head intermittently above water so you can see where you’re going as well as watch out for the other psychos competitors clawing you down.
  • Mashing: riding at a low cadence and high gear so you’re exerting lots of energy but not going anywhere. Ill-advised. Burns through needed oxygen. Keep those pedals spinning at 85-95RPM. I’m not telling you what RPM is. Figure it out.
  • Fartlek: what I call my students when they’re being uncooperative. Kidding. Fartlek’s are an awesome interval training method. I love a good Fartlek.
fartlek intervals

Fartlek Interval training ideas

2.  Find a pool you can swim in, a bike you can ride on, and a road you can run on without getting hit. I am using a Diamondback hybrid bike I got on Craigslist. CLEARLY I am a beginner. I just dropped her off at the shop for a tune up and i think it will work for a sprint-tri.

3.  Hop on the internets and connect with others on tri-based sites, forums, Facebook pages, support groups, blogs of other runners like you! I also am a big fan of Youtube. Coach Youtube is going to get me through a lot of these T2 transitions.

4.  Make a detailed training plan and stick to it. As I mentioned before, I like beginnertriathlete. If you fall off the wagon, you just hop right back on. Having your log on a mobile device app will make it even easier for you to update, get alerts and reminders, etc.

 

 More later on!

8 Running lies

Listen, I’m not a professional runner. I just enjoy it, do it relatively frequently, and have been at it for a while. As I got more interested in running, I noticed there were all these RULES and suggestions which, frankly, to me, seemed either wrong, outdated, unhelpful, or like a moneymaking scheme. So I thought I’d thought I’d debunk some of those myths (I mean, what is the internet for if not de-bunking).   Note: some of “my” rules are also wrong, unresearched and possibly unhelpful. That’s why it’s on a blog, not in a magazine with glossy pages . Enjoy!

1. They say you should drink water to stay hydrated when you run. >>shudder<<  I cannot so much as take a sip of water up to 2-3 hours before I run and DEFINITELY not while running.

http://mebegi.comze.com/sigourney-weaver-alien-coming-out-of-stomach.php

drank…. 2 ounces of water…. before running…..

If I’m running that day, I drink a big glass right when I get up in the morning. If I have any liquid (or food) in me, I get cramps so incredibly badly, it escalates to a Sigourney Weaver/Alien situation on our hands. →

2. They say running makes you thirsty. Not me. I can count on one hand the number of times I have felt thirst when running. This includes many distance runs in July,  jogs in Mexico and two half-marathons.  Maybe it has something to do with #1? [NOTE: this is probably not normal. I think there is something wrong with me. I also was getting this, for lack of a better word, “syndrome” for like 5 years after long runs, in which an hour after I stopped running, I would get overwhelming flu-like symptoms and nausea rivaling the norovirus on a Carnival cruise. I Googled learned later I was dehydrated. STILL never feel thirsty. Ever.]

3. They say to stop running when you are injured. I mean, if you have a compound tibia fracture or a ballooning, purple-veined ankle, for God’s sake stop, but I have found with minor injuries, ‘running through them’ has made them go away. I had a bad hip flexor issue a few months ago and just kept running. After a half-marathon with my shoes tied too tight, I think I had a TINY stress fracture so I rested a few days and it was fine. Same with a little issue with my right knee. I just kind of visualized the pain gone and it eventually went away. I also try to steer away from ibuprofen because I believe when you are truly injured you shouldn’t just keep masking it.

4. They *said* running is bad for your knees. That myth has finally been debunked here in a study of 75,000 people.

5. They say you shouldn’t run with headphones outdoors so you can stay attune to traffic. Bull. What am I going to listen to, my thudding footsteps and the internal rattle of an upcoming snot rocket? 

You will never see me doing this or any variation of it

You will never see me doing this or any variation of it.

6. They say you should warm up and cool down. I have never, ever warmed up or cooled down. I don’t even walk. I just literally hit the ground running off my front steps, usually only at a :15 pace slower than I can maintain at mile 8. Once in a great while I might do a half-hearted quad stretch or flap my arms around to loosen them up. Again, this is probably not normal or encouraged.

Garmin Forerunner 110. Obsessed.

Garmin Forerunner 110. Obsessed.

  7. They tell you to drink sports drinks to replenish your electrolytes.  Stop.  There is no reason  human beings (save marathoners) should ever drink a Gatorade, Powerade, Propel etc  (even that low-sugar  crap which contains high fructose corn syrup, sucrose syrup, sucralose and acesulfame potassium).

Let’s say you run a nice 4-miler and burn 250 calories. In one Gatorade you have erased the caloric burn of half of your run. In like 45 seconds of guzzling. Besides the non-sensical calorie consumption, you are filling your body up with unnecessary chemicals, colorings and other weird crap. Just  drink coconut water (all natural! tastes yummy!) or regular water and if you are really missing those man-made electrolytes take these Hammer electrolyte  pills (I’m not convinced they do anything but for longer runs and hikes I do take one or two.)

8. They say running is exhausting. Of course this can depend on your level of fitness but I  personally feel 10x more awake and energized after a run, especially my 7+m ones. I am just  bursting with endorphins!!! Waving at the homeless guys off the Spa park trail, stopping to coo at  dogs, smiling instead of flipping off the jerk in the Jetta who cut me off.  I love it! I love you all! COME GIVE ME A HUG!!!!

POSSIBLE running lies:

  1. Running with a friend helps. I guess this depends on the expectations of your training and if you need someone to get your ass moving. I used to run with a friend at work but we would just gossip chat.  If you’re chatting with ease, you’re not running hard enough. That being said, I run with my husband and he is a fantastically motivating running buddy. Sometimes I look over and he appears to be running soooo slowwww then I realize… it’s me, not him.

    Brooke Ravenna

    Brooke Ravenna

  2. Wear stylish running clothes. I’ll admit; I like cute running clothes in trendy colors and flattering cuts. I don’t like looking dumpy out there. That’s for pajammy time at home with the husband! But you don’t need to invest in super-expensive Underarmour swag or, god forbid, that gear from those weirdos at Lululemon. I wear cheap cotton Walmart socks my stepmom gives me for Christmas and $8 Pony running sorts from TJMaxx. They work just fine.
  3. Get your feet measured by a specialized store and invest in the right shoe. I simply studied the tread wear of my old sneakers, researched pronation / supination online, then read about 29,840,932 reviews online at Amazon before settling into my Asics GT’s. When I got sick of those, I researched and purchased Brooks Ravennas. No pushy salesmen required. Did I pick the right ones? I don’t know. I’ve never had a serious injury.

Definite truths

  1. Cross-training (Spin©, elliptical, hiking, weight lifting, even silly Zumba and especially HIIT) greatly improves performance. Enormously.
  2. There is nothing that burns more calories than running (not jogging; running).
  3. Track your progress- dailymile.com , Garmin Connect (my favorite)  beginnertriathlete.com (my other favorite), mapmyrun, Runkeeper and PUMATRAC apps; anything where you can monitor your miles, injuries, successes, races, etc. It’s fun and satisfying to utilize their tabulated graphics and graphs. If they have any sort of social media connectivity, bonus. I’ve also personally found runner’s forums can be very motivating.
  4. my Dailymile.com account

    my Dailymile.com account

  5. Running changes lives. This I know is true. 

So that’s my experience of truths and lies in the running world! Thoughts?

Tri me

One goal in life I have in life, besides swearing less and listening more (which have been complete fails up to now), is to complete a triathlon. As you read here, I am pretty hooked on running and can honestly say it has changed many aspects of my life for the better. I also discovered I don’t hate swimming and I don’t completely suck at it, and how hard can biking be, when you think about it?

Famous last words.

So I am signing up for a local sprint triathlon! The worldwide interwebs has resources and how-to guides for everything under the sun, so I promptly found this site beginningtriathlete.com to make myself accountable for training.

I would LOVE to hear about your triathlon experience, tips, etc. I’m pretty clueless.

 

Screen-shot of my January training log:

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This looks like fun

 

More to come in the next few weeks/ month in triathlon training.

 

Running and running

1

Time to lay off the Ramen. [November 2004]

 The first time I ran a 5k race I gave myself mono. Shivering-in-July, sleep-for-days, sweat-through-your-clothes-in-the-pharmacy-line mononucleosis. I’m sure it had been lurking within me (I was in college, after all, and am pretty sure I can pinpoint the misguided bar makeout session from which it derived), but my over-exertion in the 3.1 miler forced it angrily to the surface. My body was decidedly ‘anti-running’, I deduced, somewhat relieved. I swore I would never run again.

But after a few months, the lure of a $15 registration fee for a local race somehow enticed me, and I trudged through more training jogs. (No one could consider what I was doing then a run.) My lungs burned. My thighs trembled. Calluses grew. I was at my all-time highest weight at that point, thanks to late night pizza deliveries and a general laissez-faire attitude towards any unnecessary physical movement. I felt sluggish and unhappy with myself. I was a gymnast in the past; I told myself I wasn’t equipped for 28 minutes of sustained, monotonous torture. But I kept on ‘running’, starting with 10-minute miles, two to three miles at a time, swearing, sweating, indignant. And yet somehow energized at the end of it all. Running, I told myself, I would not quit.

Three days a week I grudgingly laced up, frustrated at myself and the painful lack of progress. Many times I wanted to give up. I’m surprised I didn’t. My whole life I had been quitting things; abandoning projects and ideas when I got restless or if I felt I couldn’t succeed. Or when I did succeed. Scrapbooking, ballet, learning Portuguese, competitive gymnastics… even a genuine but ultimately embarrassing attempt at lacrosse in high school. Maybe running would be the one thing I wouldn’t quit. The logistics of it seemed simple enough–  iPod charged, right foot, left foot, watch the car turning, right, left, flip off car that just cut you off, repeat. Cool shoes every few months. With wary resolve — and possibly for vanity as I thought of the calories I was burning — I decided I was going to keep running.

And slowly, achingly slowly, the runs became easier. One summer morning, about five years after I started running, I ran six miles. Six miles. I couldn’t believe it. My lungs burned a little, my blisters grew, but I noticed my thighs jiggled less. My chub-rub was becoming less inflamed. It’s about damn time, I huffed. It took over half a decade to get my mile under 9:00. More than the pace improvement though, was the fact I hadn’t yet given up, something I was convinced I would do.

So I kept running.

I ran when I moved into downtown Saratoga Springs, bobbing in the sultry mornings past the historic horse-racing track and the bustling bed and breakfasts. I ran through breakups, granting myself thirty minutes of reprise from painful conversations and tense silences. I ran with our family’s dog; our old mutt, until her muscles got too weak and her neck too thin for her collar. I ran on the treadmill, shamelessly peering over at my neighbor’s MPH. I ran around friends’ lake homes and on vacation in Mexico and on the boardwalks in Southern France. (By the way, no one runs in the French Riviera). I ran into the icy Upstate New York winter mornings. I ran through trails with friends and with dogs. But I mostly ran alone.

I ran until my lungs no longer burned. I was stunned to find I was running – and enjoying —  20-30 miles a week.

I signed up for a 10k. Another one. A 15k. A half-marathon around a pristine Adirondack Lake. Another one, which I completed at an 8:04 pace. Instead of searing with pain, my lungs burned with pride. I was shocked to see I had lost 26 pounds over the years. I was rarely tired. I was eating better. I was stronger.

This November, I celebrated my 8-year running anniversary by committing to a triathlon. The biking and swimming has been a dynamic and challenging addition to my workouts, but my first love is still running. And I realized I have become, for lack of a better word, a non-quitter. Not just while out with my trusty Garmin satellite-tracking me. I am finishing projects. Taking my time. Trusting and believing in myself. Not giving in to restlessness or even triumphs. I truly believe running has created within me an undeniable grit that I never saw coming at my initial laborious 10:00 pace. And that, my friends; the unexpected self-resolve and tenacity that running has brought me, is a priceless gift in the form of a pair of Asics GT-2000s.

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