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Race Jitters

September 9, 2011

Swam in Jordan Lake last night for about 45 minutes and followed it up with a 10 mile bike ride. Both were supposed to be easy, but I have pacing issues so it was more moderate than easy. Tried out my new aero bars. Yes, I know two days before the race is not the time to do that, but I don’t follow directions well. Ahem.

I think it’s the best I’ve ever felt two days before the race. Until I realized I’d locked my keys in my trunk. Did I mention that we’re in a State Park and it’s ten minutes before they close and lock the gate? I called AAA and begged them to come quickly. Praise God that someone was willing to stay with me and the ranger was willing to go lock another area of the park before coming back to lock our entrance. It was really only about 20 minutes of my time but I couldn’t believe I had done something that stupid. I guess race jitters have to come out somewhere, and the only things damaged were my pride and my skin- the mosquitoes ate me alive!

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If You Don’t Talk About It It’s Not Real

September 8, 2011

I excel at lying to myself. Let’s face it, you don’t reach 348 pounds without the ability to deceive yourself about the reality of the situation. So even though so many areas of my life are different, I still have an amazing capacity to avoid situations and not think about them. Enter a week ago Tuesday.

Tuesday started off as a normal day and after a great swim session with the master’s group I headed to work. By 10 am I knew something wasn’t right. I was dizzy and nauseous. It was getting worse so I worked through staff meeting and went home early thinking if I could get a nap in I could avoid the coming migraine. The three-hour nap didn’t help much, but while sitting still at home things were only a little off-balance and not spinning. By 5 pm I knew I wouldn’t be able to make my training ride that night, and unless there was a miracle, my run the next morning would be out of the question as well. Wednesday came and I still felt like I had just stepped off the tea cups. By Thursday the ladies I work with finally made me convinced me to go to the doctors. Because the three days of dizziness and headaches wasn’t enough to make me go.

They ran some blood tests and found out that I’m anemic, but another concern the doctor had was that I wasn’t eating enough for my training, and between stress at work and stress from training I had worn my body out and it had nothing left to fight back with. Stress and poor nutrition had caused my body to respond by throwing me off-balance – literally. The verdict was to double my iron intake, up my calories, and the one I was really avoiding, take time off from training.

This was the real reason I hadn’t gone to the doctor. I already knew what they would tell me. They would tell me that 2.5 weeks before the race I’ve been training for I needed to stop.

Sit.

Do nothing.

For a controlling, list-loving, type-A person, sitting and stopping don’t fit into my plan. I want to stick to the plan and cross off my finished workouts. I want to meet the goal I’ve been training for.

So I (grudgingly) took the rest of the week off. Walking on a treadmill was allowed, so on Saturday I went and walked for an hour. I think that hour was harder than most of my runs. I wasn’t as dizzy but I was just exhausted. The rest of Saturday and Sunday I took off and rested more than normal. I watched a lot of TV. Why had nobody told me about the amazing show, “Swamp People“? These people are seriously AWESOME.

I also ate. A lot. Some healthy foods, some not-so-healthy foods. Although ice cream is dairy and you need dairy for strong bones, therefore ice cream is healthy. For those who are wondering (and before I get labeled as an anorexic or my mom calls me), yes I was eating before- just not enough. When you’re burning 1500-2000 calories a day you should eat more than I was. Once you’ve been overweight you are afraid to ever go back, so the idea of eating so many calories was frightening. (I’ll write an in-depth post later about the mental struggles that I STILL have with food, six years after weight-loss surgery and starting my journey to be healthy.)

I’m feeling better now and back to my normal routine. I had a good bike/run brick last week that made me hopeful that things will go smoothly despite taking a week off of training. This week I’m tapering and getting ready for my International on Saturday.

Since I’ve already admitted that I love lists, here’s my list of what I’ve learned (or been reminded of):

  • I need to eat more when I’m training this hard.
  • I need a lot more sleep that I think I do. I may function on 6 hours of sleep, but I don’t perform well.
  • I also need to listen to my body and adjust when I start feeling off.
  • My friends, family and training team rock. They are all so encouraging.
  • I know a lot of people who are much smarter about all this triathlon/racing stuff than I am. I should listen to them.

Run Week

August 17, 2011

This week began “run week.” Which sounds so much nicer and is more concise than “I hate running but I’m tired of being so slow so I should do something about it” week. Although I’m thinking of getting the latter embroidered on a tea towel or throw pillow.

I’ve never been a runner. In school when we had to do the mile run for Presidential Physical Fitness I could only manage to walk. They would pass out popsicle sticks as you passed by the teacher to track how many loops you had done. The fast kids often had 7 or 8 sticks. I would be happy with two. I was an overweight kid and teen and while I swam year-round I never excelled in land sports. I never felt coordinated on land and because of the weight I was slower, and honestly I never really tried.

When I did my first triathlon in June of 2010 I didn’t really train for the run. I had done a few 5Ks as a walk/run (mostly walk) so the 5k in the tri wasn’t that stressful to me. Until I did it and realized that I was so tired by that time that the run was even harder.

So this year I decided to do a half marathon to work on my running. My good friend Heather has done several half marathons and did the Disney World full last year so in early March I enlisted her help and we started training for the IOS Classic in May. We followed the Galloway run/walk system since my right knee gives me trouble and I finished in 2:41.43 with a pace a little over 12 min/mile. While I was happy with that I also knew that there was a lot of room for improvement. I’ve run over the summer, but not much more than just 3-4 mile runs to keep in shape.

In all three of my tri’s this year I do well at the swim, hold my own on the bike and then get creamed on the run. So I decided that I needed to work on my running so that I wouldn’t get passed by so many people in September at my Olympic. Running is more fun with others so my first workout this week was to join the NOG Run Club for a 3 mile run on Monday night. I kept a good pace of an 11min/mile and tried to run more than the 3/1 intervals we had done.

Wednesday morning I met up with a friend and we did a 40 minute run followed by 6 sprints. I tried to do a minute sprint with a minute recovery run but by I was exhausted by then. Instead I did 6 30-second sprints followed by a minute walk. You have to start somewhere, right?

Two runs down this week and I still hate running. I hate how slow and out of shape running makes me feel. I hate that even though I have lost so much weight I can still feel so fat and uncoordinated and it brings back all the memories and the pain of being 350 pounds.

Leaving the run club on Monday I looked up as I crossed the street and saw the pedestrian signal flashing “don’t walk.” I picked up my pace and started thinking about that. I just keep telling myself “don’t walk, keep going.” I’m still going to take my Galloway walk breaks to give my knee a rest, but hopefully as I get stronger I can make those walk breaks less and less and can make the runs faster.

Hopefully when it’s all said and done I’ll still have the energy for embroidering that pillow.

Race Report – Mayo Lake Sprint

August 14, 2011

I hadn’t planned on racing Mayo Lake this past weekend, but based on a friend’s recommendation (and the affordable cost of $30) I decided it would be good open water transition training for my big race that is fast approaching. I’ve only been doing open water swims since June and I’ve never had to transition with mud, grass and dirt on my feet.

The race was only a little over an hour away from Raleigh so we drove up the day of the event. I carpooled with a friend who was doing his first tri. After a little bit of a late start and trouble getting my bike to fit on his bike rack, we were off. We had left plenty of time so we weren’t worried about being late. The tri was being held at Mayo Park so the first thing we did when we arrived was head to the bathrooms. Real bathrooms. NOT port-a-potties. I think this is the first race I’ve ever done that I was able to use a real restroom. Very luxurious.

After a quick  tire pressure check I headed up to the transition area to get everything set up. I was able to set up in the third spot on the rack. The FS Series races set up number ranges on the end of the rack and it’s first-come, first-served in that number range.

transition set up During my setup I discovered that I forgot to pack my goggles. I had swam on Friday morning and they were hanging up to dry out next to the bag. I had a few friends doing the race, but none of them had extra goggles so I headed up to the TrySports tent to see about buying a pair. While I hate to spend money on things I already own, I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to spend the money. They only had one pair of goggles and they were the mask style. I’m not used to that style of goggle (and they were $26) so I went back to hunting for a pair to borrow. Inside the shelter where the race directors and volunteers were I ran into my friends Meg and John who were volunteering for the race.

I rejoiced when I learned that they had their swim gear with them and they had goggles and I could borrow them. Armed with the borrowed set of bright orange Swedish goggles I made my way down to the swim start. It was about a .2 mile walk over some gravel, but the race volunteers transported our flip-flops back to the transition area for us to reclaim later. I’d been warned that they’d all be in a big pile so I was sure to bring brightly colored flip flops so I could find them again.

I had a few minutes before the first wave started to I slipped in the water for a quick warmup. The bottom of the lake where we entered was a mix of submerged Christmas trees and about a foot of leaves and other muck. I tried not to think about it and get grossed out so I quickly started to swim. Then it was back out of the water and waiting for our wave. Two waves of men later and we were ready to take our place for the start. The women were in two age groups, so even though I was racing Athena I went with the first women’s wave.

My first open water swim start was not as scary as I thought it would be and before I knew it we were at the turn around point and on our way to the swim exit. Soon after we turned around the girl next to me decided to do a breast stroke kick and I got kicked full in the chest and it pushed me backwards. Luckily I didn’t swallow any water and I quickly regained my composure and kept moving forward. The transition out of the water was uphill, and the bank was pretty steep. They had laid out mats for us to make our way up, but then it was about 200 meters of uphill running to the timing mats, then a little further to the transition area. I was a little slow in T1 as I couldn’t seem to find my balance to get my shoes on.

They described the bike course as “rolling hills” but a friend found someone’s Garmin data and it looked like it wasn’t anything more that  we regularly ride in Raleigh so I wasn’t worried. Then the rain came. Pouring rain. Stinging rain. At mile two the skies opened up and the rain didn’t stop until after the race awards were over. I felt my tires slipping on the road so I didn’t push my speed too much as I’m essentially a wimp and don’t want to fall. This was my first time riding in the rain and it wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. I don’t think I’ll be eager to do it again but at least I know I can do it.

Somewhere on the bike I remembered that my phone was in my bag at the transition area and that water and electronics don’t mix. I took some time during T2 to reposition my cell phone and then slipped into my water-logged running shoes and was off for a 5k trail run. Within 30 paces of the transition area I had run through standing water and it was a mixture of mud, standing water and rivers the rest of the run. I knew by this time that my bike and run times wouldn’t be what I’d want on a normal day but I kept moving forward. I actually think I ran more than I had in past races, just at a slower pace. The trail was hilly and had been well-marked at the start of the day but the rain and the people before me washed away most of the paint on the trail.

Finished!I thought I had taken a wrong turn near the end but after what seemed like an eternity the finish line was in sight. It was an uphill finish (just what I was looking forward to after 3 miles of running in sludge) but I finished strong and regrouped with my friends under the tent.

By this time I embraced the rain and decided to make the most of it. At least I wasn’t sweaty and gross after my run. Or I was just too soaked through from the rain to care at that point. What you don’t see in the photo is the puddle I’m standing in or all the mud on my legs. But I’m still smiling.

After a piece of cinnamon bread, peanut butter and a half a banana I went to pack up my transition area. My “dry” clothes and my extra towel were now soaked. So much for planning ahead and bringing dry clothes to change into. I went back into the building where they were posting results but my times weren’t there yet. I didn’t see my ride so I walked my bike down to the car and loaded my bike up.

I got back in time to rejoin the awards ceremony. I walked up to my friends and they handed me a piece of paper. I turned it over to discover that I had placed first in the Athena division and won a $15 gift certificate! Woo hoo! The rain affected everyone the same and despite feeling incredibly slow I did better than I thought I did. It would have been nice to hear my name called, but we reinacted the scene and took a picture so I was happy.

Mayo Lake Triathlon Splits

Swim – 750m: 14:21 (1:55 per 100 meter pace)
T1: 2:16
Bike – 16 miles: 56:51 (16.9 mph avg)
T2: 1:45
Run – 5k (3.2 miles): 37:30 (12:31 per mile pace)

Total: 1:52:42.8 (45 of 74 of Women, 1 of 6 Athena, 14 of 20 if in Age Group)

Mayo Lake Sprint Tri

August 13, 2011

I raced Mayo Lake this morning. A full race report is coming later, but I’ll give you some highlights.

  • kicked in the chest by a girl doing breaststroke
  • started pouring on mile 2 of the bike
  • rain stopped…after awards were done
  • trail run turned into running through mud puddles and streams

Overall it was still a lot of fun.

Yes, I realize that many will think I am crazy for saying that, but then I already knew you thought I was crazy.

Race report to come!

I know what you’re thinking.

August 11, 2011

You must be thinking that this absence must mean I’ve been training really hard this week. As much as my pride would love to let you think that, the truth is that I took some time off this week. I skipped some workouts and slept in. I went to be early. I ate out and enjoyed the company of my friends. I spent time reading my Bible and praying. I need to do this more.

Next week I start back to school for my next to last semester of classes for my certificate in graphic design and I’m taking two classes online while working full time. I’ve been training for one event or another since January and I am feeling a little burnt out. Training is usually fun for me. Not fun in there’s no pain or discomfort, but fun in that I am pushing past the limits I place on myself and seeing all the amazing things that can be done when I rely on God’s strength and not my own.

My work has gone through a time of transition this year (a major reorganization) that has particularly affected my department. I think emotionally I’m also just tired. Change, even when it has benefits in the end, is exhausting. I also feel like I’m at a crossroads in many areas of my life and am really praying about where the Lord is directing me to go from here. I want to make sure I’m not playing it safe and staying in my comfort zone and missing out on the blessings he has in store when you follow him.

The triathlon season here in NC is long- March through November. Next year I need to plan my races better, and maybe take a month or so off in the middle of the summer to rest, recover and enjoy summer.

Pressure

August 5, 2011

Somewhere along the line I’ve picked up a set of unhealthy expectations. Not that I hold other people to, but rather that I hold myself to. I expect to compete with people who have trained for years. With people who are 50 pounds lighter and have no health problems. With myself from 15 years ago.

On Friday mornings I swim with a master’s group for a sprint workout. An hour in the pool but a lot of speed drills and sprinting. I’m usually in the “not the slowest” lane. This morning we ended our long course workout with 8 x 50 in IM (fly, back, breast, free) order. In high school and year round swimming butterfly was my stroke. Mostly the 100 fly, but also the 100 and 200 IM. This morning I managed to do half of a length of butterfly before switching to freestyle for the rest of the lap. I was disappointed and frustrated that a stroke I used to do so well I couldn’t even manage a full 50.

After about 10 minutes of frustration I realized that I was comparing myself to the 17-year-old version of me. She swam 6 days a week for at least 2 hours a day. Right now I am only swimming about 3 hours a week. I’m not swimming as much as I did in the peak of my swim shape, plus I’m some number of years older and I have a full-time job. Oh yeah, I’m also training for two other sports- biking and running.

This pressure also extends to comparisons with the people who I train with. I feel like I have to be as fast as they are and as fit as they are. When we’re training I’m never frustrated that they are faster than me, rather I’m frustrated that I am slower. Training with people faster than I am keeps me motivated to go after them and train harder, but for someone who is a perfectionist and very competitive with myself, I easily fall into the trap of frustration and defeat. Why am I not getting better? Why am I slower? I am getting better, but they are getting better too.

So here’s a few reminders for myself. Maybe if you’re a beginner athlete and perfectionist like me you’ll also find encouragement from these truths.

  1. I believe what the Bible says in Psalm 139 – that God created me and formed me while I was in my mother’s womb and that I am wonderfully made. God’s works are wonderful. While my sin (and living in a sinful world) has left some blemishes, I am a creation of God and am unique in who I am. God doesn’t say “You’re wonderfully made, but did you see that awesome triathlete over there? I made him better.”  We all have different abilities, but even if I was the slowest one out there I am still wonderfully made.
  2. Focus on how far you have come, not how much further you want to go. Write down a few accomplishments from the past year. Here are mine.
    • I completed my first triathlon in June 2010 and I didn’t come in last. Those were my two goals and I nailed them.
    • A year later, June 2011, I did the same triathlon and took 13.5 minutes off of my time.
    • My first half marathon is done! Training for it was one of the most mentally challenging things but it is done!
    • I’ve found a three-in-one sport that I love that will tangibly benefit my health for years to come.
    • My friends and family are awesome. I knew this before I started doing triathlons, but they have been so supportive and encouraging it has blown me away.
  3. Set realistic goals and expectations. This is hard for me. I was the kid who really wanted the pony. We lived in the suburbs on .1 acre of land. Not a realistic expectation for a birthday gift. My first olympic tri is coming up on September 10. Part of me wants my goal to be the overall winner. But then I wake up and realize I’m a slightly overweight thirty something with less than 5 hours a day to train. My realistic goals are to (1) Have fun, (2) Finish, and (3) Do better than I did last time.
  4. Triathlons are hard. You rock for getting out there and trying, no matter how you do or where you place. I saw a tshirt online that says “No matter how slow you are, you’re still lapping the people on the couch.”