Half tri training

It is raining again..the temperature barely made it to 60 degrees..Will it be July this week or is it the beginning of April?

I could almost swim in my backyard puddles.

But I restrained myself and went to the gym instead.

My neighbors already think I am a little crazy anyway..

If I learned anything this month from the Olympic triathlon event, it was that I need to kick it up a few notches if I am ever going to finish the Half Iron.

Last week I spent a total of 3 hours swimming laps. All three days the pool was packed with kids (probably due to all of the rain). Twice I was waved down. “Hey lady…can I jump in right where you are swimming?” What?? Another kid waved me down to ask what time it was. I must have been giving off a please rescue me from doing another lap vibe or something.

I have come to the conclusion that I am not very coordinated. If I was I would not be into this triathlon and running crap. I would be a graceful dancer. I can barely walk without tripping on something. I cannot do the splits. Because I am athletic certainly does not mean that I am graceful or flexible by any means.

There is hope for everyone willing to take on this insanity!

I am a beginner swimmer in my 40’s! I find it a struggle to coordinate breathing, kicking, and moving my arms at the same time. I would probably look okay in the water if I was a dog. I heard it is really hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

I find myself resenting people that have been swimming since they were on the swim team in grade school. They complain about how horrible they are swimming but can complete it in half my time. Although I admit that I am guilty of saying similar things about running..

It took me over a year but I finally figured how to switch gears effectively on my bike. I don’t have the world’s greatest balance, but I am getting into the swing of it. This past weekend I logged about 45 miles on my bike and the weekend before 40. I had a hilly route all planned out. Then afterwards I told my family that I would be gone for a little while to retrace my route and ended up coming back almost an hour later.

I am not quite as afraid of speed on the bike and falling as I used to be. I bought the clip on biking shoes and they work great. I would recommend it highly. I haven’t fallen yet either.

I have been practicing my running too. Running is my strong suit. I am really good at outrunning things as well, my demons especially. It is funny because people are starting to seek me out to ask me for running advice. It took almost a decade of running for this to happen. Maybe I shouldn’t expect to be a great swimmer or biker overnight.

This past weekend I was tempted to sign up for a local half marathon. It was a small race so I knew that I could probably place. To tell you the truth, I am not a girl that is big into jewelry. But flash a couple of medals in my face and I am signing up for another race. It is not like I even end up wearing them for more than an hour after the race ends. Expensive bling for an hour of wear! Hey, don’t forget about the free banana!!

But I was good and did not sign up for another race just to have more time to focus on training for the Half Iron. I am big time into tapering and taking it easy the week before and after a big race. The first run after a big race, I feel like I’ve never ran before.

At this time, I think I will be able to complete the Half Iron. I have a lot of endurance and determination. It would absolutely crush me if I don’t finish. I am using that grueling Olympic triathlon as a learning tool. I am probably not doing everything right, but I am learning as I go.

I never in a million years thought I would be doing this 5 years ago.

 

 

 

Trying the Olympic tri

This weekend I will be competing in my first Olympic tri. Strangely enough, I feel confident. Confidence is a scary feeling. Will I be prepared??

So far the weather for the race looks challenging. It is supposed to be very windy with highs in the upper 80’s…a possible heat advisory…the warmest day so far this year. But I feel ready.

I spent the last 2 weekends swimming across the lake up north. The total distance each time equaling approximately 1 mile.

Seriously, I am not going to bore you with the details. I’ll tell you if something exciting happens…like the time I almost hit a skunk on my bike..

I was feeling a little afraid of swimming long distance in open water but got used to the feeling. Anxiety and fear is not exactly a new feeling for me. Maybe it is better to face these obstacles in real life because I know how to handle feeling this way in a race.

Tomorrow I will pack my bags and head out of town. I hope I don’t forget anything!

I love trying new races.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like some tried and true races close to home. There is an advantage knowing the route. Plus every race is different, even the same race. The weather is different…I meet different people…sometimes I feel nervous, sick, hurt, or unhealthy…and sometimes I feel strong and confident like I do now.

I’m ready to do this…even in a heat advisory.

Bring it on!

 

In too deep…again..

In 2016, I kept track of how many miles I ran and biked over the year. I’m sure glad that is over! Keeping track of it all was a lot of work.

Running: 794 miles

Biking: 298 miles

I also did Jillian Michael’s video No More Trouble Zones 15 times. I am happy to report that my trouble zones are now gone. Thanks Jillian!

This past year I achieved my goals of competing in one 5k, one 10k, a half marathon, a full marathon, and my first sprint triathlon.

Now I am looking forward to a new year with very challenging goals.

I tend to like to dip my feet in the water before jumping in all the way.

I am happy to start with a 10k or sprint because I have learned so much before moving on to bigger and better things. The first race I ever ran was a large 10k. The first mile that I ran I was so terrified that I wanted to run off the course and sit down with the spectators. I wasn’t expecting anxiety. I learned from that experience.

I also learned from my first sprint triathlon. I learned how to ride a race bike which is a lot different from the bike I tore around town in as a kid. I am still learning how and when to switch gears. I relearned balance and speed, but not without going into the ditch on a turn. I learned where to bike to avoid cars. I also learned not to hug the ditch after almost hitting a skunk.

I learned that I am not as good of a swimmer as I thought I was. My two months of lessons as an 8 year old never prepared me for this. At race speed, I had a hard time maintaining a rhythmic breathing pattern. I didn’t take into consideration needing to take breaths more often. I was the one floundering around doing the doggy paddle gasping for breath. I also noticed that my left arm is a lot stronger than my right and ended up taking myself into deep water versus staying on course. To go any further with this, I need swimming lessons and a lot more practice.

More lessons learned..

Yesterday, I signed up for my third marathon. I know that I told you to talk me out of it, but it is too late. I also signed up for my first trail half marathon. I am going to do these events with my cousin.

I also mentioned finding a wet suit for myself on clearance. While I was at the fitness store, I ran into the director of a triathlon on Lake Michigan. He said that last year the swimmers faced 1 to 2 foot waves. Half of the participants couldn’t do it. The ones that did felt like they were on a roller coaster ride and not in a good way. Then the participants had to bike in rainy conditions. It was very grueling and many didn’t make it. The sad part was that I didn’t cringe in terror. Something inside of me said sign up. Crazy!?!!

Yesterday I went on the triathlon’s website just for the heck of it. I noticed that the tri was open for less than 24 hours and was nearing full capacity. That is how I ended up signing up for my first half Iron. Now I am absolutely cringing in terror, but excited too.

Looks like I will have more adventures to share with you (lessons to learn)…

Give it a tri!?!!

Last week I ran into Anna, an acquaintance of mine that completed the Ironman this year. She said that if she could do, so could I.

Anna had quite a few obstacles in her way to complete the Ironman. She injured her leg which made it nearly impossible for her to run over a few miles without pain. She had to take a lot of time off of training to get back on her feet again. She also has a demanding full-time job which required her to travel a lot and took up a lot of her training time. She is in her mid 40’s with 2 children. She didn’t feel prepared. She had a severe panic attack during the competition while she was surrounded by people in the water. She was tempted to give up, but didn’t.

Anna made it through, she persevered. One of the saddest parts of her competition was that she did not have the loving support of her family. Her husband stayed at home, not because he had other things to do but because he didn’t want to go. She only had a few friends accompany her, but not just for her since our mutual friend Cori competed too.

Despite the obstacles, Anna succeeded. Why can’t I??

Really, why can’t I??

I never saw myself competing in the full Iron, but Anna really made me reconsider.

Maybe I should have a new goal to complete the full Iron by 45. Then I could get my first tattoo, an Ironman insignia.

Thanks Anna for motivating me!

I am terrified, but I really want to give this a tri!

**One thing I’ve always wondered is what Ironmen do after the big event is over (since they literally invested years into the sport). I asked Anna and Cori what was next on their list. Neither seemed to know. Anna said that Ironman recovery wasn’t all that bad. But she also said that she wanted to take some time to heal. Cori said that she would do whatever. I really don’t understand, but maybe someday I will.**

 

My first tri

This past weekend I crossed doing a triathlon off my bucket list.

I was feeling rather nervous and edgy the evening before the race when I went to pick up my race packet. I was not familiar with the town, only having been there once before the race. The lake was a lot bigger than I remembered it being. I was afraid that I would have to swim across it. A few people told me horror stories right before the race about people grabbing legs and dragging you down while swimming. I spoke to the coordinator of the event who put my mind relatively at ease. The race was capped at 150 participants. I was starting in the last wave with my age group. 

It was hard to sleep the night before. I set several alarms around the house for 5 AM. Honestly, I was up before 5 at the first crack of dawn. I was really worried that I would forget something or that I would have problems with my bike. But all was well. My friend Cori and her daughter were also in the race. Cori is a half iron finisher so she gave me a lot of advice and a tri outfit to wear. She showed me how to position my gear to make for a faster transition.

Then Cori told me that it was a swimming tri. Instead of doing a normal sprint tri of 400 meters, this race was a 750 meter swim almost a half mile. This was a concern of mine since swimming was my weakest link. I started swimming a month before the race. The only experience I had before that were a couple of basic swimming lessons when I was a kid. I got a lot of swimming advice from Cori which was probably a mistake.

Cori told me to swim in open water to train. But Cori is terrified of swimming in open water whereas I am not. So I practiced swimming in open water after training for the marathon when the weather was nice. I don’t have a gym membership or a wet suit. What I did not practice was lap swimming. This would have helped me strengthen my core and swim in a straight line. The swimming course veered to the right. I am left handed with a stronger left arm that took me away from the course into deep water. I had a hard time swimming in a straight line and ended up zigzagging across the course with my head out of water to see where I was going. Big no no. I had a sore neck afterwards which really tells you that I was doing it all wrong.

I was not the last swimmer in my age group, but was close to the end. The distance was twice as far as what I was practicing for. I did not have good technique or form. It was my biggest area for improvement. I decided that I will start learning technique and will practice lap swimming over the winter. All in all I was satisfied for the amount of training I did. 

I don’t think that I really needed to practice the water to bike transition as much as I needed to practice the bike to running transition. It took several times before I got used to the wobbly feeling after biking to be able to run like normal.

The biking part of the tri went fairly well. I didn’t see a lot of people for this part at all. I passed one person and one person passed me, otherwise it was pretty lonely. For awhile there was no one on the road in front of me or behind me. At times I thought that I was on the wrong path until I came across an empty Gu packet. On the route, I did slow down a bit when three deer crossed the road in front of me. I started off the biking going pretty fast until I rounded a corner, hit a bump, and lost control of my bike. I flew into the ditch but was able to get back on the road before falling or crashing. It scared me a little, enough to slow down a bit. Thankfully no one was around to see my show. It was hard to stay motivated until I saw someone up ahead that I could pass.

I think that I was pretty average as far as biking goes. I need more confidence which will come with experience. I am still not sure how to easily switch gears and sometimes would put it on the wrong speed. I also have to work on my balance and keeping control of my bike while staying in my lane. Oh, then there is the chafing. I wasn’t quite expecting that. 

Last came the run. As I was biking in, I saw a lot of walkers. Running is my strong suit. I left my bike running. I ran fast and hard. I was able to pass about 15 people on the running. This is the first race that I ran without music. It was fun to hear the people cheer. I was worried that getting my music on would slow my transition. I also saw in the rules that it was not allowed and I didn’t want to be disqualified on my first tri. Lol. I also stopped at stop signs which was a bike rule although others didn’t. The tri was so small that they weren’t able to close down the roads. Although there were times I didn’t see a car for miles. It was mainly on scenic wooded back roads.  

Overall, I was able to complete my first tri around the two hour mark which put me right in the middle of my age group. My goal was not to place or even finish. This time I wanted to learn everything I could. Then take that knowledge to go further, improve myself, tri something new, push myself towards new goals, and to have a fun time competing. 

Tri success!

Tri training for a new adventure

This weekend I will be doing my first tri. I am excited for the 3 day holiday weekend. We have plans to go up north, then do my first tri, and end by sailing into town for the fireworks. Nothing like a relaxing couple of days off. Not! I love the adventure.

I feel like I am as ready as I am going to be. Yesterday I completed my last day of training. It didn’t go as good as I expected, but I didn’t want to push things too hard the week of the event.

Everybody told me to train in open water for the swimming portion of the event. I did not train in a swimming pool at all. I have never been a serious swimmer but have never been afraid of water. I wish I would’ve started training in a swimming pool a few months ago, but don’t have a gym membership. After training for a marathon and having a cool spring, I didn’t have the chance to jump into open water until the beginning of June. I decided to swim in the scariest waters that I know, out by the sailing club.

The water at the sailing club is rather murky. I have to climb down some jagged rocks to get to the edge of the water. I jump into the water from an algae encrusted rock slightly underwater. I see a lot of weeds and big fish nearby. Then I swim out to the end buoy in the sailboat channel and back. Each time I try, I get more confident with putting my face in the water.

Yesterday, I had the misfortune of having seagulls build a nest on the first buoy. As I got closer, they started to dive bomb me while shrieking seagull cuss words. A few weeks before, Paul and I saw some seagulls attack pelicans that came near their nests. That still fresh in my memory, I decided to cut my swim short.

I also decided to change my biking route too. Why is it that I am more afraid of wild animals and creepy guys in vans than fast moving vehicles on narrow roads? I didn’t like biking on the county road because it did not have a bike lane. Instead it had narrow gravel shoulders with deep ditches. Last week I saw a car pass me right in front of an oncoming semi. I figured that it probably wasn’t safe for me or the other drivers. Especially since I heard of two more bicyclists getting struck and killed on similar roads since the last time I was out.

Instead of the main road, I decided to take very rural deeply wooded roads. Think Little Red “Riding” Hood on the path to grandma’s through the forest. The first road was surprisingly very pleasant. The only wildlife I saw was a harmless bunny. I even saw another biker and no cars whatsoever. The road was well paved. The last road was horrible. It was terribly rutted, cracked, and full of potholes which made biking fast close to impossible.

The running leg of my journey was fine. However, I think that if I decide to go any further with this hobby I will have to makes changes for a safer and better training route.

I am not sure what will happen next year yet. When I was at the wedding, I spoke to my cousin who lives far away. He said he might be interested in coming my way next spring to run the marathon with me. I told him that if he does that, I would be willing to travel out of state to his area to run a race with him. He mentioned a trail marathon. So, we’ll see if that pans out or not. He is planning on running a 100k this fall. I think he is crazy! But he has teenagers and has had to deal with situations more difficult than mine. I can totally relate to the desire to self-destruct in a positively healthy way.

After all, I am still outrunning my demons and probably always will be…

My 1st transition from biking to running

It was a warm spring like day. You know the kind. It was mostly cloudy with temps in the 40’s with a light breeze. The warmest day predicted for this week. Perfect day to try out my new bike and learn a few lessons.

The first thing that I did was find an old helmet. Then I dressed like I was going to go for a run. That was mistake number one! I put on a hat underneath my helmet. I sure looked like a clown. I didn’t notice that any neighbors took off of work for the occasion. So, who cares?

I decided to go for a 6 mile bike ride to break in my bike. Everything went great, except that I was absolutely freezing. I had forgotten how much of a wind biking creates. I felt like I was running against a 25 mph wind on a cool day. The faster I went, the colder I got. My hands became red and swollen. Was that a little frost bite coming on? Even though I budgeted an hour and a half lunch break, I was off on that. I had to stop indoors for a few minutes to warm up. My ears were cold and my fingers were tingling.

After the 6 mile bike ride, I decided to transition over to a 5 mile run. Running was rather interesting. After getting off of the bike, I felt like I couldn’t walk straight. Almost like I spent the day sailing. My equilibrium felt slightly off. Watch out, dizzy blonde runner! I felt like I had a couple shots of whiskey after roller skating for a couple of hours. It took about a mile to retrain my body to run like normal. I had to tell myself several times that I know what I am doing since I have been running for years. I was able to complete my run like normal, but it was a slow start.

I probably won’t be doing too much biking in the next couple of weeks. My main focus right now is getting ready to run a marathon in May.

***Note to self***So far on my first transition I learned a few very important lessons. First, dress a lot warmer than I would if I was running. Second, it make take longer then an hour and a half especially if I do not dress right. Third, I have to retrain myself mentally to run.

 

 

 

Cabin chaos, part 1

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Back in 1950, my great-grandparents bought a double lot on a quiet lake. The lake has been built up quite a bit since then and is not as quiet as it once was. But it is still beautiful. They built a cabin on the lake. When I was growing up, the only running water in the cabin was two sinks in the kitchen. We had an outhouse with a garage located between the cabin and the outhouse. There was also a boat house, a fish cleaning shack, and a screened in cook house with a long redwood table.

My family originally built a concrete retaining wall with stairs going down to the water in the center. It has since crumbled and shifted over time. The boat house was in bad shape and was torn down when I was a kid. The garage was the next building to go. The roof caved in and it housed bats. Every time that I had to use the bathroom in the middle of the night, the bats would swoop down at me. I turned on the lights outside in an attempt to keep them away. When I had the lights on, the guys across the road would see me running to the outhouse and whistle at me. It probably didn’t help that I was screaming and flailing about while in little summer nightgowns. If I could make it past the bats and creepy guys, my next fear was always the wasps. How did people survive having to use an outhouse all the time??

Eventually the garage was torn down as well. There was a lot of junk inside. There also was an antique car from the early 1900’s that was in rough shape. A lot of times my family was too cheap to buy new stuff for the cabin, so they took up mismatching plates, silverware, etc..

This summer I am planning on swimming across the lake to prepare for the tri. I will probably not be biking or running up north though because at this time we do not have an easy way to bathe. I am afraid that stinking would be frowned upon and my family would no longer support my crazy fitness habits.

This is going to be a very short series telling some of the funniest stories.

Trying to tri

I bought a road bike today. There is no turning back now. I have to tri.

A few weeks ago, I got together with some running/tri friends. Compared to them, I am very inexperienced as a racer. I told them of my grandiose plan of running 20 miles every weekend. They asked if I was crazy. Yes, of course. Do you want to get hurt? No, I don’t! I decided to listen to their advice and scale back a little. Between the trio of triers, they have at least 50 marathons under their belt, multiple half irons, and an iron. So their advice was very credible. 

Guess I will have more time to write, right?

After finishing my first marathon in about six hours, I felt like a failure. I went into it with too high of expectations. I thought that I might qualify for the Boston. I got the crazy idea that if I train harder for this marathon, I will do better.  My friend said that she thought I had it in me to finish in under 4 hours if I train right. I think that might be a little too optimistic. However, with the exception of the marathon, I have been consistently finishing within the top 7 to 10% in my age category. I did my first half in 2:05 in less than ideal conditions. So maybe.

It didn’t help hurting my ankle 3 weeks before the marathon. 

It took me about two months to recover from the knee pain that happened during my first marathon. Maybe I was trying to overcompensate for an ankle that wasn’t totally healed. To be honest with you, I am a little nervous about running another marathon. Running has been going absolutely great, until this week. I have been feeling so stiff and my joints have been aching. I feel exhausted and seem to lack motivation. I have been keeping to my newly revised running schedule though. It has been a mild winter, so I was able to get outside and run a total of 24 miles this week. That’s good because my treadmill is starting to groan just as much as I am. I find running anything over 16 miles at one time to be excessively grueling. 

I guess I will have to run with it and see how my second marathon goes. 

This season I am signing up for a 5k, 10k, half, and full marathons. I am also signing up for my first tri. I am not sure how long I can keep going at this pace. I want to diversify a little so that I am able to keep exercising for the long run. The marathon will be my first race this season. Last year I spent the whole summer training. This summer I want to be like everyone else when they are not working. I want to sit on the beach, sip craft beer by the camp fire, and be out on the water. 

Oh wait, I just bought a bike. Now what did I get myself into??