Where I've Been and Hope To Be

Where I've Been and Hope To Be

Friday, January 23, 2015

Odds and Ends

I've been meaning to post for over a week.  And I've had a number of different thoughts I wanted to write about, but life got in the way so I'm going to throw it all together here and move on.

Last Friday I went shopping for new work clothes.  I have to laugh at how much money I have spent on workout clothes in the last year but zero on decent clothes that help me look professional.  I desperately needed a wardrobe update - not because things don't fit, but because they are really old and sad looking.  So Hubby, Lil Buddy and I headed off for an afternoon at the outlets.  I usually have really good luck at the Banana Republic outlet.  When they have sales they have SALES and I can load up for a decent price.  Sure enough, they were slashing prices, but nothing fit!  Even though I have plenty of their clothes at home in sizes 12 and 14, none of the current clothes in those sizes fit.  So frustrating!  It made me feel really gross and dumpy and miserable.  I tried to tell myself that it was just the current styles not being cut for my shape, but still - when nothing in one of your regluar stores fit how can you be anything but disappointed?

Off we went to another store where I had better luck including buying a dress in a size 10!!  But rest assured, I'm not confused about my real size - that dress was freakish.  Because there were plenty of 12s and 14s in that store that didn't fit either.  Some did and I was able to walk away with some new stuff, but man it was not the productive Pretty Woman shoppping spree I envisioned.  Mostly it was me getting really sweaty while stripping off item after item with Lil Buddy sitting in his stroller screaming his head off.  Sounds awesome, right?

This week was extremely hectic at work with one trial after another.  A stressful work week was punctuated with Lil Buddy vomiting on me every half hour all night on Monday night, maintaining his middle of the night wakeup routine on Tuesday night, and getting up for the day at 4:30 am Thursday morning.  Exhausted doesn't even begin to describe how I feel.  I was preparing for trial on Tuesday and missed my scheduled workout.  Had a travel baseball team meet and greet for Big T on Wednesday and was feeling really run down so I missed that scheduled workout.  By Thursday I was a train wreck and angry with everything and at everyone.

Finally last night at 9:15 I climbed on the bike trainer for a 50 minute spin.  I couldn't believe how much I was looking forward to an indoor trainer ride.  And I couldn't believe how quickly into the ride I started to feel better.  By getting back into my routine with an activity that was strictly for me my head was put in the right place in a matter of minutes.  If this isn't the perfect evidence of carving out time for yourself I don't know what is.

In a stretch of time where I'm facing a bunch of annoying life challenges and frustrating circumstances that are completley out of my control it is really easy to be frustrated, angry, and negative.  I have been all of those things this week.  But getting 50 minutes to myself with the sweat pouring and endorphins flowing made it easier to take a step back and get my mind in a better place.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Why Should I Join a Triathlon Team/Club

When I first starting researching triathlon I knew I would need some information and support.  I quickly came across the website for the DC Triathlon Club.  They had quite a range of classes and clinics and training groups to help newbies jump into the sport.  I had also heard of local group Team Z which I understood was a very large and social group with structured training plans and workouts to suit your training needs.  I also came to learn of Ignite Endurance which is a team of elite racers.  Lots of triathlon activity just in the Northern Virginia area alone.  And then along came Team Tri360.  Already being familiar with the store and doing my triathlon related shopping there, I was eager to see what would be involved and if I would be eligible to join.

No secrets or surprises, as I've written before, I did join Team Tri360.  It was open to anyone of any ability level that was interested in adding themselves to a triathlon group.  Dues and participation requirements are minimal and although there are no super structured training plans, there are plenty of opportunities for group runs, rides, and swims.

But regardless of which team or club (and all of the ones I mentioned are great options depending on your level and interests), the real question is why to join one at all?  For me it has been an issue of support and camaraderie.  We have a private Facebook group where I can post idiotic newbie questions without feeling like an idiot.  The team sponsors both social and educational group activities that allowed me to meet other local athletes and learn at the same time.  Seeing a friendly face (or even carpooling with one) at a race takes some of the nerves and jitters away and adds a ton of fun.
And I can promise you that a ridiculous butt busting 75 minute trainer ride of simulated hills followed by a 15 minute transition run is WAY more fun with almost 20 of your teammates then alone in your pain cave at home.

Group rides and runs are scheduled as a way to add a social aspect to what could otherwise be very solitary training.  And we all volunteered at Ironman Maryland together which was an awesome way to give back to other athletes in our sport.

The bottom line is that everything is more fun with friends and I've been lucky enough to meet a terrific group of people that make this sport a blast.  Whether you are looking for a strict training schedule or a loosely organized group, there is a club or team out there for you.  Getting involved will only enhance your training and racing experience.  And if you are a seasoned triathlete, a club or team will give you an opportunity to give back by helping a newbie.

If you are local to the DC metro area and interested in Team Tri360 there are two information sessions this weekend.  Join us at 2121 N. Westmoreland Street, Arlington, Virginia at either 5 pm Sunday, January 18, or at 10 am on Monday, January 19th followed by a quick group run.  We'd love to meet you!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon

This past Sunday I participated in an indoor triathlon at Lifetime Fitness.  Lifetime Fitness partnered with Ironman to put on wave after wave of indoor triathlons all over the country on the same day encouraging people to "Commit to Tri."  A group of Tri360/Speed Sherpa athletes competed in the 10 minute swim, 30 minute bike, and 20 minute run.

My wave started at 8 am so I arrived about an hour early to check in and get organized.  We were given our swim cap and race number before we headed into the cycling studio to lay out shoes and towel for the bike segment.

The swim was held in a 2 lane 20 yard indoor pool.  Four people were scheduled for each wave so we were divided 2 in a lane.  I shared a lane with my friend Matt and the next lane over had Dave and Sara.  The goal was to complete as many lengths of the pool as possible within 10 minutes.  Last year at my indoor triathlon I completed 19 so I was pretty excited to complete 27.5 this year.  Dave broke the event record with a whopping 41!!!  Matt and I only "high fived" once when we slapped each other accidentally while passing each other in the lane.  Oops.

After the swim we had 10 minutes to transition and get ready for the bike.  Thankfully they had fit us on the bikes in advance so my seat was already adjusted to the correct height and I could just hop on and start warming up.  We had 30 minutes to spin as many miles as possible.  I started out a bit conservatively to make sure that I had enough juice to finish the bike and still complete the run.  By the end I regretted not going out a bit harder.  I definitely could have started stronger and faster and still had enough energy in the end.  But I was pleased with my final 9.6 miles.  Pre-season events like this are the perfect time to play with effort exertion and adjust before the real races of the season.

After a 5 minute transition we hopped on treadmills and ran for as many miles as possible in 20 minutes.  Just like the bike, Dave, Sara, Matt, and I were grouped together.  As we ran along Dave suggested when to ramp up the speed and when to hold steady.  But in the last five minutes it was game on.  We each ramped our individual speed up a notch - at first every minute, but then turned it into a game of poker.  One of us would shout "up one."  Someone would answer "I'm up two!"  So we'd all follow suit until it was "I'll see your three, and go up five!"  In the last minute I was running all out at top speed and FLYING.  It was so much fun and took all of the boredom out of treadmill running.  Again, I was kind of disappointed that I hadn't gone out faster in the beginning as I had plenty of energy left when our 20 minutes were up and I only accomplished 1.9 miles.  Just a touch faster in the beginning and I would have recorded a solid 2.

Regardless of results, it was a really fun morning with fellow teammates.  Other teammates were in the waves before and after ours and we made sure to get a group photo before heading off to breakfast together.  Our lovely teammate Mindy got fun video of each of us during each leg that was fun to watch back later.  I don't look anything like I imagine while I'm swim-bike-running.

This morning was a really solid workout for me and made me feel pretty confident about my off season condition.  I'm not in race shape, but not as out of shape as I feared.  I left the event feeling really good and strong.  And then I saw the photo above.  And I was not pleased.  I hate the way I look in my race kit.  I hate how chunky and fat my legs look.  How could legs that feel that strong and work that hard still look so bad?

I've been stewing over it all week.  I keep looking back at the photo with disappointment.  Until tonight.  As I was sifting through photos looking for these to include in the blog I came across this other photo that I saved a while back:

And I remembered that at the end of this triathlon I felt like a badass.  And I knew that with my planned training I would continue to feel like a badass during the upcoming season.  I'm still disappointed in how my legs look, but not in how they performed.  That will have to do for now.

In the meantime, the team kicked ass.  Dave won the whole damn thing, Sara placed 2nd in Open Women, and David E. took 2nd in Masters Men.  Team Tri360 continues to be an amazing group of friends and an inspiring bunch.  Can't wait to see what badassery we all pull off this season!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Race Report: Fairfax Four Miler 2014

Final race of 2014 was cold and blustery at the Fairfax Four Miler.  I ran this race in 2013 and had a really good time with it so I made sure to add it to my list again.  In standard fashion, I was running incredibly late and made it to the port-o-potties only 7 minutes before the 6 pm start time.  The one advantage to getting there incredibly late is not having time to get nervous or wonder what type of warm up is appropriate.  Instead its a quick trip to the bathroom and then in the crowd to get started.  My plan was to run it like a solid 4 mile training run and not like a race.  This proved to be just the right attitude.

The race starts uphill and about a quarter of a mile up the road until the route takes us onto the campus of George Mason University.  From the start this race didn't feel great.  My watch told me I was on a steady pace, but every step felt like a major effort with really heavy feet.  It was a stark contrast from the Jingle Bell 5K where I felt like I was absolutely flying. 

The good news is that even though it was a slog fest, the next thing I knew I was approaching a very identifiable point on the route that I remembered from the previous year and it seemed to come up very quickly this year.  It was a nice reminder that my training throughout the year paid off and I am faster by a fair amount one year later.  After that I just focused on staying strong and steady and ignoring the fact that it wasn't my favorite run of the year. 

Overall, I'm pleased with my steady pace throughout.  My mile splits were 11:00, 10:15, 11:05, and 10:47.  This is a nice improvement over 2013's paces of 11:55, 11:25, 12:28, and 12:10.  My final time was 44:24, again a solid improvement over last year's final time of 48:49.  Its fun to see my hard work paying off and I'm looking forward to more improvement next year.

After the race I went to the Pacers Running Store where I met up with my friend Matt who helps out with a ton of their fun runs and was organizing a New Year's Eve toast for store friends and family.  It was nice to enjoy a toast with a few of the other runners after our cold run.

After a glass of sparkling cider I was headed home for some NYE tv festivities and a pathetically early bedtime.  But the best part of the evening was the awesome smile from my Lil Buddy Hubby sent to me after bathtime.  This face will be one of the best parts of 2015.  Happy belated new year to everyone!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Year End Wrap Up and Looking Forward

Instead of doing a December Recap and a year end recap and a Resolution/Goal blog post I'm throwing it all together.  This is partly to honor my 2015 goal of simplifying my life and in part because I think that the monthly recap posts are kinda boring.  I'm not sure anyone really cares about my monthly mileage except me.  So to quickly list it out for posterity:

Swim: 8.07 miles
Bike: 114.37 miles
Run: 14.23 miles

2014 Totals:
Swim: 106.28
Bike: 1931.42 miles
Run: 343.62

Decembers numbers are a bit low because it was a completely unstructured month.  No coaching, so set workouts.  I did the workouts I wanted to do when I wanted to do them.  It was a good mental break for me in many ways.  There were a few very busy days, especially leading up to Christmas, where I couldn't have squeezed a workout in without losing my mind.  But in other ways it was really tough because it was easy for me to make excuses and not workout at all.  I found myself through triathlon in 2014.  I enjoyed the hard work and the progress I made.  I enjoyed how my body felt as I got into better shape.  But my workouts gave me invaluable time for myself which was critical for my mental health.  I lost that last month.  I was grumpier than ever with an extremely short fuse.  It wasn't pretty.  With three back to back days of workouts I already feel better than I did all month.

In the spirit of complete honesty, I've been on a downward spiral food-wise since Halloween. First it was candy, then pumpkin goodies, then everything and anything holiday related for December.  As of this morning I am up 11 pounds and I can feel every bit of it.  I feel sluggish and gross when I do workout and it feels like all of it has settled around my middle.  Time to get it gone!

As for goals for this year, I have some overall goals and then some very specific ones.  We will see how the year goes.
  • Be more grateful - I have a terrible habit/character trait of seeing the worst in everything and complaining about the little stuff without looking at the bigger picture.  It creates unnecessary stress for both me and those around me.  This year I hope to be more grateful for all that I have and stop sweating the small stuff.
  • Be more patient - this falls right on the heels of the comment above.  I lose my cool quickly and it really serves no purpose.  I'm constantly telling the kids to slow down but I really need to listen to myself.
  • Be less guilty - I put enormous amounts of guilt on myself while I am out doing my workouts.  I spend an entire swim, bike, or run wondering if everything is ok at home, is Hubby stressed out dealing with all three kids, can I squeeze that extra mile in or should I turn around because everyone at home expects me to be there all of the time.  This is entirely ridiculous.  I'm entitled to time for me as much as Hubby is when he is at the gym or playing football, Big N and karate, and Big T at baseball.  I can guarantee that they aren't at their activities thinking, "hmm, Mom is probably pretty stressed out because I'm not at home helping right now.  I should spend the rest of my practice worried and miserable."  So why do I do it?  If I've made the appropriate time and arrangements for my workouts then I need to go do them and not worry about what's happening at home.  It's covered.
  • Get my daily diet back under control.
  • Run a sub 30 minute 5K.  Self explanatory.
  • Work up to Lane 3 at Masters.  I want to increase my swimming speed to be able to move up from Lane 2 to Lane 3 at swim practice.  They are just enough faster that they are able to complete significantly more yardage at each practice and I need to increase my swim distance this year.
  • Crush an Olympic Distance Triathlon. (1500 meter swim, 30K bike, 10K run)
  • Run an entire half marathon without walking.  Oh and without an 11 minute bathroom break.  Gah!
  • Survive Hubby's football season without resentment or anger.  He promises to do the same for triathlon. 
I will stop there.  It's already a daunting list.  Some items more manageable and likely than others.  But all worthwhile.  Happy New Year to everyone.  May all your dreams come true this year!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Why Should I Hire a Coach?

Merry Christmas and all of the other happiest of holidays to everyone!  I've been trying to slow down and enjoy the holidays this year which means a major slowdown of extra activities including the blog.    But I've been meaning to write on this topic for a while because off season is the perfect time to consider hiring a coach.

Last year when I launched myself into the triathlon venture I initially went about it on my own.  I looked into online training plans, read books, and just generally tried to figure out a training system that made sense to me.  But what makes sense to a brand new wannabetriathletemom may not actually make any sense at all.

Thankfully through conversations with fellow Tri360 teammates I was led to Dave, my Speed Sherpa.  He is a teammate and triathlon coach as well.  We agreed to have him coach me over the 7 weeks leading up to my first triathlon and see how it went.  Let me tell you, after that trial period I was hooked.  The workouts were given to me instead of me trying to figure out what to do each day and they made sense.  And they made me stronger and faster.  And as he scheduled workouts he took my schedule into account so that they were doable and not overwhelming with kids and work piled on top.

Dave coached me throughout the rest of the year and I continued to noticeably improve.  I was worried that Hubby might think it extravagant and not want me to continue the expense.  But the progress and success I found was evident even to others, including Hubby, who supported the indulgence wholeheartedly.

Today I was reading one of my favorite triathlon/running blogs and saw that the author, Kristin, just wrote a blog about this very topic.  Instead of repeating everything she already said (which I would have because her sentiments mirror mine) I thought I would share her thoughts here.

If you have ever thought about hiring a coach, even for a tuneup, swim stroke analysis, running analysis, or WHATEVER, I'm here to tell you that it's worth it.  Find someone who listens and seems to know what they are talking about.  Then trust the process.  If your coach is anything like the Speed Sherpa, you'll love the results.

You can check out Speed Sherpa on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @speedsherpa

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pre-race Jinxes

Each and every time I have had a big race this year something has happened right before the race to throw me way off.  Not kidding.  What started out very annoying and upsetting has become comical.  Here's what I mean:

Kinetic Sprint Triathlon - Lil Buddy stayed up ALL NIGHT screaming and I got about an hour of sleep.  He was super cute at first, but then it was just not funny at all.  Hubby and I got into a huge fight about how to deal with the baby, so it was screaming all around.  Not the best lead in to my very first big race.

Rock Hall Sprint Triathlon - I wound up sick for 3 of the 4 weeks leading up to the race.  First it was a stomach flu, then a regular run of the mill cold/flu thing with congestion, coughing, etc.  Missed a lot of training and mentally felt very unprepared.

Tri the Wildwoods Sprint - During the Crystal City Twilighter 5K I aggravated my plantar fasciitis and so my foot bothered me leading up to the Wildwoods.  But I was pretty familiar with the pain and was ready to suffer through it.  Completely unrelated, however, a week prior to this race I had to have a root canal.  Oh well, no big deal right?  Except that I got an infection and the morning of packet pick up I found myself in New Jersey, away from any doctors or dentists I know, in so much pain I couldn't chew.  The pain pulsed and increased in intensity in waves throughout the morning.  Thankfully I was able to have my dentist call an antibiotic in to the local CVS and I got the pain under control - but not gone - by morning.  Talk about a major mental destroyer.

Nation's Triathlon - I wound up having to switch my registration from the triathlon to the aquabike because by this point my foot was in pretty bad shape and I wasn't supposed to be running.  Ok, fine.  I'll still get to do the swim in the Potomac which is the whole reason I signed up for this event in the first place.  The night before the race there was a major rainstorm, sewage flooded into the river, and the swim was cancelled.  So now I was registered for a VERY expensive bike ride.  Grrrr.

Waterman's Sprint - Early October.  On a course I was familiar with and ready to crush.  So excited for my last triathlon of the year!  Until I saw the forecast for the weekend and learned that it was going to be in the mid 30s for the first time this fall.  This sent me into a total tailspin of triathlon wardrobe panic.  What does one wear to keep warm in the 30s when they first have to get wet, then get on a bike and fly into the wind?  Talk about a mental meltdown.

Rock and Roll Vegas Half Marathon - I forgot my socks.  Not just my favorite running socks that I had trained in, but I forgot to bring socks.  Like no socks.  WTF is wrong with me???

John's Creek Turkey Trot - Read the email wrong and thought the race started at 8:30 instead of 8.  Got to the start line with 4 minutes to spare.

Clearly, I don't ease into race situations gracefully.  Some of the anxiety is created by my carelessness but much of it has been completely out of my control.  I can do a much better job of double and triple checking race start times and packet pickup directions.  But there's not a whole lot I can do to control the external jinxes that seem to find me before each race.

What I can tell you is that despite this absurdity, I have performed well this year.  I'm really proud of the way I raced in all but one race.  And that was Tri the Wildwoods where I let my head get the better of me.  And I knew it when it happened and I checked out anyway.  But I have learned from each of these experiences.  If I put the work in before race day with my training, then it doesn't matter much what ridiculous bump gets thrown in my path because I can just roll over the bump and crush it.  This is the lesson I look forward to taking into 2015.