Archive for September, 2009

Triathlon Training Inspiration

When I decided that I was going to compete in triathlons back in November of 2008, one of the first things I did was look for other newbie or training triathletes to see what they were doing and how they were feeling.

When you’re nervous about doing something, it’s always good to know that you’re not alone. And when you see others accomplish what you are setting out to do, especially if they are coming from that beginner perspective, it makes it easier to believe that you can do it too.

I went to Ironman training sites and experienced sprint triathlon sites, and I have some of those on my blog roll because they are great for tips and I just think those bloggers are cool, but they are so far ahead of me, while I’m ultra-impressed, I’m also a little intimidated. Someday maybe I’ll be hardcore too, but not yet.

So I searched for blogs of newbies at my level or a little ahead of me. And I found two blogger beginner triathletes who I have learned so much from, I just needed to give them a shout out. While they are young enough to be my daughters and definitely in better shape than I was starting out, they were also starting out. And they have been very candid about their struggles as well as their triumphs. Following these two bloggers has gotten me over the hump a couple of times when I just wasn’t sure I could do it.

My blogger girls, Jessica, who writes Gearing Up; and Jill, who writes Finishing is Winning; just completed huge goals, with Jill completing a half marathon and Jessica finishing the Redman Sprint Triathlon (a 1500-meter swim, 28-mile bike and 10K run). You go, girls!

We have all come a long way from almost a year ago. And by following their journeys— warts and all— I know they will keep inspiring me to work harder and go farther.

Thank you Jill and Jessica!

I’d also like to thank Hanlie from FertileHealthy for bestowing an Honest Scrap Blog award on me! I will be responding to that tomorrow.

Taking Control

Our Beloved DaleThis was a tough week. We had to put our dog to sleep on Thursday. He was old and very ill. He was also a sweet, sweet guy. We knew it was coming and we knew it was the right thing to do, but it didn’t make it any easier.

There were other stressful events this week too. Normally, I can shrug most difficult situations off and deal with them, but when they converge all at once, they can feel insurmountable–out of control.

And what do I do when faced with seemingly insurmountable stress? I eat. It didn’t help that this happened on a Thursday, my weigh-in day, and typically a day of more relaxed eating for me. On Thursday though, I let food take over. And that extended into Friday. I was looking for comfort, and looking for it in comfort food. The surprising thing was I didn’t get much comfort from the food. Only a stomachache.

Saturday I managed to rein in the eating machine somewhat by starting the day with a good 3-mile run. During the couple of hours after my run, I felt more positive and almost back to normal. My food day wasn’t perfect (we had lunch plans), but it didn’t include the bingeing from the two days before.

I am back in control today. I’m still sad. I’m still overwhelmed. But I am back in control.

This week, having reverted back to old ways for a few days, I realized that the most important part of my fitness journey is finally having control over the food I eat and how I take care of my health. My out-of-control days ended up feeding my distress and making me feel even worse. Taking charge again of my food and exercise has put me on the path toward being in control of other aspects of my life too.

Dale, our dog, got old and sick. We had no control over that. But we were able to say enough was enough and help him get to a better place.

For me, this fitness journey has been about being aware and in control of my health too so I can be in a better place. Sometimes, I get knocked off, but I won’t stay down for long anymore. I like having control.

The Cost of 100-Calorie Candy

MM_100CL_7br[1].previewI was out shopping last night, knowing today was going to be a tough work day…again. I was right. I decided, while I was in Target, that  I better have some manageable, calorie-counted chocolate on hand if  I planned to make it through the day without ravaging the vending machine for the Linden Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milky Ways that are in there (yes, I know what’s in the vending machine at all times, but I am careful never, ever to put change into it anymore).

Wondering what 100-calorie treat might just do the trick today, I spied 100-calorie M&M packs. They were like a beacon on a dark night. I scooped ’em up and threw them in my cart. $3.99 for seven carefully calorie-counted-out packs.

I grabbed a pack today when I went home for lunch, so I would have it for that much-needed 3:00 pm sugar injection. I almost always opt for a healthy snack at 3pm (yogurt, fruit, kashi bar), but today, I knew that wasn’t going to cut it.

When I grabbed my M&Ms from the box, I thought, hmmm, these look surprsingly similar to the M&M fun packs. So I went online, just to see. How many calories are there in an M&M fun pack? You’ll never guess. No really. You won’t. 100? Is that your final answer? Well, you’d be right.

I paid $3.99 for 7 M&M fun packs. What a bonehead. Had I just checked the fun pack package…with Halloween weeks away they are all over the place…I could have saved myself quite a bit of money if I’d just done that research. I’m pretty sure there are more than 7 packages in a fun-size bag. And it probably costs….drumroll please….$3.99.

I’ve learned my lesson. Always check the options before purchasing 100-calorie candy. I’m pretty sure though I’m much safer with only seven fun packs in the house.

Must Be The Weather

It is officially fall today. And for the past couple of days we’ve had perfect fall weather. Crisp mornings, warm afternoons and chilly nights. No humidity and bright, blue sunny skies. This is my favorite time of the year on Long Island.

I was walking at this time of year last year, having started my fitness quest in July, but I wasn’t running yet. That didn’t start until November, and then it was indoors, on the treadmill. Saturday, after 5 days off from doing anything, I went running. It was so gorgeous and I felt so strong, I ran a full three miles at a harder-than-usual pace for me. Could have been because it was chilly starting out? All I know is it was one of my best runs from a perspective of feeling strong and enjoying myself.

Sunday, my legs reminded me that I shouldn’t really take 5 days off and then run hard. Ouch. I went swimming on Sunday to try to loosen up, but ended up going much farther than I expected, swimming about 1100 yards. By Sunday afternoon, I was sore all over! But it was a good sore.

The nice thing is that when I got up this morning, I felt good again. No more muscle pain. And hubby was home from work today and could take our daughter to work. So I got to go running again in the spectacular weather this morning. I ran 2.5 miles this morning (because I did have to come home and get ready for work) but surprisingly, I was able to run good and hard again. I figured today would be a slower run because my legs were still a little fatigued from Saturday. I don’t know what’s giving me the extra pep in my step, but I’ll take it.

It must be the weather.

I’m Back On The Run

I went running this morning. It was a great run. The weather was perfect, my legs felt great, my breathing was controlled and consistent and when I finished my 3-mile run, I knew I still had my running mojo.

I say “still had it” because I have this weird phenomenon that happens to me after a race or even after a few days off from running. And I had a few days off  this week, five to be exact. After my race on Sunday, I didn’t get any exercise at all for the rest of the week. My schedule was just nuts last week.

I knew had to get back out there no later than today. After races, because they are tougher, and a few days away from running, I start to develop this irrational fear that I won’t be able to do it again. Somehow, after a few days off, the fitness level I’ve worked so hard to achieve will just disappear. Does this happen to anyone else?

The longer I wait, the more apprehensive I get. So today when I got up, got dressed and got ready to head out the door, I was armed with my arsenal of choices. I could go for a longer run (3.2 miles), a shorter run (2.5 miles) or I could walk. I can always walk.

I procrastinated a bit this morning. I tried to set RunKeeper on my iPhone but that just didn’t seem to want to work, so I walked back home and left it there. Now I was going to just run for running’s sake.

I set back out, starting with my walking warmup and a funny thing happened. Maybe it was the crisp morning air, or even just the week’s rest, but I almost felt like my legs were saying, “Now? Can we go now?”

When I started running, it felt like I’d been doing it all of my life. No nagging knees and I felt like I had more push than I’d had even before the race. I opted for the 3.2-mile loop because it would have been a shame to waste feeling that good on a shorter run. Maybe rest periods aren’t so bad after all.

Today’s was possibly the best run I’ve ever had. Maybe it was the chill in the air. Today though, I felt strong the whole way and I was reminded that I really do like this running thing. And I’m not even training for a race right now, although I do plan to tackle a 5K or two before the weather turns too cold.

On a side note, thanks to Jill from Finishing Is Winning for putting me in the spotlight on her blog as this week’s Props Wednesday! I was so honored.

Triathlon Sunday To Marathon Workweek

Have you ever had one of those weeks where there doesn’t feel like there’s time to breathe? That’s my week this week. Work deadlines, outside obligations like doctor’s visits and vet visits have kept me on the run all week (and not in the I finished a 5K in under 30 minutes kind of way!).

I’ve gone from the high of my triathlon to the week from well, you can fill in the blanks. And while I have lots of blog posts milling around in my head, I have no time this week to write them. So I’m letting you know I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth. I’m still feeling mighty proud of Sunday’s accomplishment. And I will be back, just as soon as the insanity subsides.

If not sooner, I will be posting on Saturday.

Triathlon Trek Women Race Day Rocked!

In my Fat Girl 2 Fit Girl shirt, holding my medal to the side! Nice red face.

In my Fat Girl 2 Fit Girl shirt, holding my medal to the side! Nice red face.

Race Day Rocked! I’ve finally awoken from my post-race french fry coma and am coherent enough (I hope) to put a blog post together!

As of last night, I still wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to compete today. By last night, I knew I would be competing but my nerves were a bit jangly (there comes a point where there’s just no turning back). I had to get up super-early and the weather was still a little iffy for this morning. I ate a nice big plate of pasta and chicken, got my race gear ready and hit the bed at 9:30 last night so I’d be bright-eyed at 4:30 this morning, when I had to get up. It would have been nice if I could have slept. But, worrying about waking up had me up ever 20 minutes or so all night.

I ate my English muffin this morning, got dressed, and loaded up the car with hubby (can I just say how great he is to get up that early and go to these things with me? It’s so nice too to see that familiar face when you’re coming in on the bike and the run!). Made sure I had all my gear and my chip, etc. All set and we headed out in the dark over to Eishenhower Park, a 45-minute ride.

As I was bringing my bike into the transition area aroun 5:50, they were already announcing that they wanted to start lining us up for the swim, so I quick got my stuff ready, grabbed my swim cap and goggles and headed to the pool. It was a little chilly this morning to be romping around in just a bathing suit, but I had my nerves to keep me warm! Once in the pool area though, I started chatting with all the other women competing and nerves turned to excitement as everything got underway. While we were lining up in number order, Sally Edwards was giving an inspirational speech to get us pumped. Unfortunately, the sound was bouncing off the walls and we couldn’t make out a word she said. We cheered anyway!

They actually lined us up in the pool, about 10 at a time and had us start 10 seconds apart. This was better than jumping in the pool at the last race, but the water was mighty cold. Gets you going!

I even passed a few women in the swim part of the race this morning. I had a good strong swim and shaved 9 seconds off my first time. My shoulder didn’t get twingy once. In triathlon swims (pool or open water), having to pick your head up to see where the other swimmers are so you don’t get knocked out slows things down. Overall though it was smooth race and I felt good getting out of the water.

I promised myself this morning that I would pace. At the last race, I pushed hard in the swim and the bike and had nothing left for the run. I was determined today to RUN the run, all 3.1 miles of it! And I did it!

I.ran.the.whole.way!

I ran slow, but there was no walking. That in and of itself was a triumph for me and made this a crazy-good race!

After the swim, T1 took me 3.19. Again, socks, wet feet… a little tricky. But I pulled my clothes on, ate some Sports Beans from Jelly Belly (love those!!), took a swig of water and set out on my bike. The sky was brightening and while the road was still a little wet from last night, there was no rain this morning. The ride was smooth, well-marked and went pretty well. I realized when I got on the road that my front tire was a little low, but it was ok. A pretty strong breeze kicked up on the fourth loop, but the course was flat and it wasn’t too bad. Total bike time for 9 miles was 39.42 (averaged 13.5 mph). The bike is a leg I still really need to work on, but I was pleased with finishing the 9 miles in under 40 minutes. That was my goal.

The run. Ah, what can I say about the run? I RAN IT!

Racked the bike back in T2, ate some more Sports Beans and drank another swig of water and hit the porta-potty before heading out of T2 (2.34 cause of the pee break). It made all the difference though when I headed out for the run and I was so grateful for the bathroom, as disgusting as it was). You would think, all women, clean potties….nah. I guess everyone was rushing. I would have liked it, but there was no sitting in that thing.

I started the run really slow, like turtle slow, but I knew if I was going to make the 3.1 miles, it was a must. At least I was running or using that motion anyway. For the first mile, my legs were still lead and I had a little trouble regulating my breathing. When we got to the first water stop at mile 1 (seriously I think it was more like 1.5 miles), I was starting to get my rhythm back. I tried to take water there, but kind of spilled it all over myself. I’m not coordinated enough to run and drink at the same time.

There was one woman right alongside me the whole time who would walk a bit (I’d pass her) then she’d run and pass me and then she’d walk and I’d pass her again. I ended up coming in ahead of her in the end, and since I was the runner/walker in my last race, this felt kind of good.

Lots of other women passed me on the run, but that was ok because my run today was for me. A lot of women also had iPods which we were told were a no-no. I would have loved to have my music with me, but I didn’t. Maybe next time.

Mile two seemed to go by a bit faster than mile 1, and there was another water stop. I actually stopped for a second here to take a swig of water so I’d get it in my mouth and then ran on again. By mile three, I had my legs back, my breathing was normal again and I picked up my pace a little more. There was a downhill, and I love to run faster on those but my knees were not having any of that so I had to keep that a little slower than I’d have liked. All through the run, I kept hearing Sally’s voice from yesterday saying to remember that “Slow is fast.”

Once I got to the downhill, the music was blasting and you could hear people cheering on the ladies crossing the finish line so it was easy to pick it up and rock it into the chute. As I crossed the finish line I was high-fived by Sally Edwards herself! A brush with celebrity. She gave me a hug and told me I was an awesome triathlete when I went over to thank her for her inspiration too.

My run time was a bit slower than I’ve been in training, but that was ok. 37.49 for 3.1 miles, which paced out to a 12.36 pace. I’ll take it. It’s better than the 13.26 pace in the last race where there was lots of walking.  And there’s plenty of time now to get faster before next season.

Post-race, hubby and I stuck around for a bit, cheering other ladies across the finish line. I ran to get a banana at the food tent (I was starving!). They weren’t posting splits so I decided to head home, get a shower and something to eat.

But I should have stayed! I found out when I checked splits today that I actually took third place in my category! I competed in the Athena division (women over 150 pounds) and I came in third! Not sure if there was a prize for that, but I imagine there might have been. Had I stayed for awards, I would have gotten to hear my name called. I never even gave a thought to the fact that I might have raced fast enough to place. Oh well. Next time.

My overall time was 1 hour, 34 minutes, 13 seconds. I came in 148 out of 228 women. I placed 71 in the swim, 138 in the bike and 160 in the run, and I was thrilled with those results.

This race was made up of women of all ages, sizes and abilities and they all rocked it out there on the course. I was so impressed with the feeling of sisterhood and the strength that just poured out in this race. I can’t wait to do it again next year. And next year, they hope to have more than 1,000 competitors like they do in their other more established Trek Women triathlons. If you’re in the NY area, I highly recommend this very cool race.

I’m done for this triathlon season. But I will be training and getting ready for Spring. I already have my next races mapped out. After today, I’m so hooked!