rev3

Holy Chaos!

“We live in a rainbow of chaos.”
Paul Cezanne

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Holy Chaos People!

If we truly do “live in a rainbow of chaos,” then I am getting more taste of the rainbow than a skittles commercial! Despite what it may seem, I’m not complaining. Instead, I’m just in awe of how busy life can get. Where does all the time go?

There has been A LOT going on since I last posted. I have had SO MANY things I’ve wanted to post about, but have had literally no time to get to it. I fully intended on setting time aside, but then my sister had I great report card so I celebrated with a movie night with her instead. I also spent quality time with the hubs and my mom… and my dogs. Basically, I have been preoccupied with LIVING and taking time out for the people I love.

Soooo that’s why I’ve been slacking on the writing. That and I have been super busy in general. For starters, I have been consumed with trying to find a roofer because mine is leaking and needs to be replaced. The good news is I found one, and they offer financing at a low interest rate. The bad news is taking out a loan means I won’t be able to afford to work with my personal trainer anymore. As much as I want to stay injury free, I can’t justify spending over $300 a month on training.

Initially, I was really upset devastated, but then I kept seeing posts about THRIVE Sports & Fitness in my Facebook newsfeed. I figured I owed it to myself to check it out, since it literally had my name on it. I am all about taking direction from the universe, so this one seemed pretty obvious. It turned out that THRIVE is brand new and the only MBSC licensed  facility in CT. Lucky me, that it happens to be right in my back yard.

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For those of you who are unfamiliar with MBSC (because you don’t happen to be a sports fanatic or read Men’s Health… guilty!), apparently, it is kind of a big deal.  At least, that’s what I’ve been told. It’s basically a strength and conditioning model that was developed by a guy named Mike Boyle and has been used by the likes of Olympic and professional teams, including the Red Sox and Bruins. The whole program is geared around injury prevention and training with proper form. Basically, it’s exactly what I need.

On Friday I went for my “free trial” session, and I was very impressed with the facility. First, I LOVED that they had motivational quotes up on the walls, including my favorite: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” They also had a great variety of equipment from free weights, to machines, to weighted sleds, to resistance bands for pull ups, to multipleTRX set ups (and that’s just from what I saw at quick glance).

For my first workout, we started with foam rolling and then progressed to several different circuits of exercises. Each circuit was comprised of 3 or 4 exercises (which we rotated through) and repeated 3 times. Like the equipment, the exercises were extremely varied in type and difficulty (For example, one exercise might be on the TRX while another involved using kettlebells, and another the cable machine). Each movement was explained and demonstrated, and because there were only 7 of us, we had plenty of feedback on our form.

The entire session lasted an hour, but it went by very quickly. I enjoyed the versatility of the workout and found it to be challenging without being completely exhausting. I also found the short circuits and wide diversity refreshing, which is HUGE for me given that I tend to get extremely bored with routines. In addition, I appreciated the fact that every movement and aspect of the workout from the start to finish had a purpose to help improve functionality. In my opinion, it was very well rounded. Furthermore, beyond the quality of the workout, both the owner and the rest of the group were extremely welcoming and helpful so I felt very much at home. The best part is, it’s only a fraction of the cost of a personal trainer which means it’s a much more affordable option for me.

Today I reached out to the owner about signing up for sessions twice a week, so we will see how things turn out. I may have found my new home for my 140.6 training!

Speaking of which, in other exciting news I have my Ironman distance race picked out for next year! They have officially opened registration for REV3 Cedar Point, and I intend to be there! What’s even better is that I have a training buddy who is crazy enough to do it with me (and no, it’s not the hubs…). Maybe I’ll even convince her to guest blog (in her free time between being a new mom, yoga instructor, and working full time as a primary care doctor… yes, she’s my hero).

On a similar note, I applied to be a part of Team Challenge (REV3) yesterday after some urging from my yogi friend. I am not sure I have the level of social media (or even triathlon) experience that they are looking for, but I DO HAVE a level of enthusiasm for the sport that is unmatched and a passion for sharing my experiences. Plus, I really enjoyed my experience of doing my first tri with REV3, and don’t think I would have a hard time selling how awesome their events are. Given the choice, I would really prefer to do all my distance events with them. Honestly, I think we could make it work. Plus, I think it would be INCREDIBLY AWESOME to be able to participate in all their events without having to second mortgage the house… which isn’t really an option with the loan for the new roof….

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So that is all my big news… at least what I can remember of it at the moment!

PS. You may have also noticed (if you follow my instagram) that I have been participating in a November Gratitude Challenge with some of my #SweatPink sisters called the “Proud To Be Me Campaign.” The movement was started by fellow blogger Kathy from mamamarathoner.com and challenges participants to respond to a different prompt each day about why you are #ProudToBeMe. All the prompts are listed in her original post which you can find here. Even though I’m not listed as a participant (I’m sure it was just an oversight), I am still encouraging all of you to join in the movement and share what makes you #ProudToBeMe. You can use any of your social media (twitter, instagram, facebook, blog, etc), just be sure to use the hashtag #ProudTobeMe. You can find all my responses on both instagram and twitter. I’m looking forward to reading yours!

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Trust In Yourself and Your Training

“Never give up.

And most importantly, be true to yourself.

Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in.”

-Louise Brown

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Hello My Lovelies!

I meant to update you all sooner, but I had an unexpected detour.  Before I get into the details of my recent #EPIC adventures, let me update you on the preceding events.

The weekend prior to my BIG RACE, I decided to go for a ride with my tri club peeps.  I had originally hoped to do the Rev3 Olympic course for practice, but instead we did the local Griskus Olympic course.  I wasn’t terribly disappointed because I figured any time on the bike would be good for me.  Plus, I typically enjoy riding in groups more than riding on my own, so I thought it might be a good confidence boost.  Turns out, it was not my greatest ride.  In fact, it was my most disastrous in some time.  I think this was partly due my nerves about the upcoming race and partly because I was super intimated by the group of individuals who came out.

Normally when I meet up with people from the club, there tend to be one or two people at my skill level.   However, these people were all far more experienced than me not only with cycling, but triathlon in general.  A few of them seemed surprised that I had signed up for the Rev3 Olympic as my first tri, especially given my obvious lack of confidence (and skill) with the bike.  I did not even bother to mention to them that I had actually downgraded to Olympic and had originally planned on the half.  Given that they were already questioning my sanity, I didn’t want to go ahead and confirm their suspicions for them.

Needless to say, before we even started our ride I was feeling out of my league.  It only went downhill from there (cycling pun).  Despite my best efforts to relax and have fun, I just couldn’t find my groove.  I was fumbling with my pedals and even tipped over upclipping at the top of a hill.  Then, because I had dirt in my cleat (I HATE you Speedplays), I couldn’t get back in my pedals to get down the hill.  Everyone else was light-years ahead of me.  And just because that wasn’t bad enough, I managed to get my chain completely stuck between two gears during a steep climb.  For those of you unfamiliar with cycling, that means I had to dismount and fix it (not such a big deal)… and then try to get started again… uphill… on a steep incline… yea not so fun…

I can’t actually remember if I did anything else to embarrass myself on that ride.  The whole experience was rather mortifying.  I was frustrated because it was the mechanical stuff I was struggling with, not the actual riding.  I knew I could do better, but everyone assumed I was just struggling because I was new.  I did manage to run a few miles as part of a brick, but I still couldn’t relax.  I felt like I was being silently judged (and unfavorably judged at that!)…  I am sure that most of this angst was just my nerves and in my head; however, it was the little comments here and there I had trouble tuning out.  Things like how the Olympic Rev3 bike course was very similar to the half, how hard open water swimming is, and how I should be doing my bricks in order (instead of swimming last which I still stand by as more efficient in terms of showering and making me a stronger swimmer… I mean if I am statistically most likely to die on the swim then doesn’t it make sense to make sure I am comfortable swimming tired?  just saying…) kept working their way up into conversation.

So here’s the thing, I am just not a subscriber of the cookie cutter training method.  I truly fail to believe that one training noeasyregimen can work for everyone.  For example, what if I don’t feel up to a 10 mile run on the day it’s scheduled?  Am I supposed to just push through and do it anyway?  Where is the allowance for listening to your body?  Plus, I find a lot of those plans require significantly more mileage than I would do on my own.  Now that is not to say that they don’t work great for some people, but I just would rather do my own thing.  I feel like I have trained for enough endurance events to know what I need to do to be prepared.  Apparently, that makes other people a little nervous… especially Type A people.

The thing is, those people aren’t with me when I’m at the YMCA every Saturday morning doing 24-30 miles of spin, followed by a 7+ mile incline run, and a 1 to 2 mile swim.  They aren’t there for the other countless miles I swim, bike and run.  They aren’t with me when I’m running half marathons or ultras, and they have no idea that I’ve been cross training with a personal trainer twice a week.  Beyond that they aren’t aware of what kind of background or mental conditioning I have had up to this point in my life, and they don’t know me.

All that being said, it’d be silly of me to take it personally.  It’s not that I’m incapable in their eyes; it’s that they don’t understand where I’m coming from.  There are some people who would just never sign up for a race they weren’t sure they would do well at, let alone finish.  The way I train and challenge myself is scary to them, and that’s ok.  I don’t need them to believe in me.  I believe in myself.

Perhaps when those same people see me crossing those finish lines and chasing my dreams it might inspire them to break out of their comfort zones and do the same.

 

Adjusting My Sails

“I can’t change the direction of the wind,

but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
Jimmy Dean

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So before I update you all about my latest big decision, let me fill you all in on the latest going ons of the week.  No big surprise that’s it’s been a busy one!  Let’s break it down shall we:

The Good

On Saturday I went for a Daffodil Group Ride with some peeps from the Tri Club which entailed a very scenic 26 mile ride through the countryside.  It was loads of fun, and I was able to keep up this time without any real trouble.  It also was a great opportunity to meet some new people and get some mileage in on my bike.  Due to the frequent stops for photos (and chatting) it was terrific practice for clipping and unclipping too!

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Lately, I feel like every time I get on my bike, I get more and more comfortable… and consequently that much better.  I have been extremely fortunate to have joined an exceptional Tri Club (through our local YMCA) with members who have been beyond supportive.  I was so afraid initially of people getting annoyed with me for being too slow or a giant chicken, but in reality everyone has been nothing but encouraging.  The group ranges from elite athletes (who –ahemwin Ironmans) to novices… to train wrecks like me.  Sometimes I feel like the only newbie in the group, but I think that is primarily because I am always trying to push myself to do the harder rides and workouts.  At no point, though, have any of them made me feel like I don’t belong or am not good enough to train with them.  I have truly enjoyed getting to know every member I have met so far.  

Plus, I have found that group riding has done wonders for my comfort level with cycling.  I am so much braver when I am with the Tri Club peeps.  I think a lot of it has to do with being distracted by the company.  Making conversation with the people around you is a great way to relax, as it turns out.  Who would have ever guessed?  

Anyway, the ride was by no means easy.  There was a long steady climb for a good part of the way out and lots of quick winding downs coming back.  I spent most of the trip trying to catch the two gentlemen ahead of me, which was perfect for motivating to move faster without getting freaked out about it.  They were both very warm and friendly, and the fact that one of them happens to be a minister only added to my ease about being around them. (I told him I felt much safer riding with a minister.. maybe that’s why I worked so hard at keeping up!)

I definitely came off the ride on a high note.  I managed a moderately difficulty route… (Did I mention all the left turns, traffic, and intersections (ie cycling hazards) at the beginning?) AND I wasn’t even that tired at the end.  Mostly I was hungry, but that seems to be my biggest issue with cycling.  I suppose I will have to work on balancing well enough to eat without stopping… mental note to add that to my goal list…

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The Bad

Now that we’ve covered the highlights of my weekend, let’s recap where it all went down hill, shall we?  

Having conquered my Saturday bike with dignity still intact, I was feeling pretty optimistic going into my first open water swim.  After all, I am a swimmer now.  I go to the pool and turn out laps like it’s my job.  I just keep going, and all is good and right in the world.  

Enter the wetsuit…

I thought it was a great sign that I scored a great deal on The Clymb, and that my wetsuit came in time for the first session.  However, I was slightly nervous having read all the horror stories about first time experiences with open water swimming and wetsuits.  I expected the suit to feel tight.  I expected to feel anxious about not being able to see more than a few inches.  I even expected the water to be really cold.  Somehow, though, I did not expect to struggle as badly as I did.

Image  On the bright side, I did have a few things in my favor.  The first is that swimming, in general, causes me anxiety and makes my heart rate skyrocket.  In that sense, I am very accustomed to having to calm myself, slow down, and get my heart rate under control.  This came in handy when the discomfort (and resulting anxiety) associated with the freezing water and tightness of the wetsuit caused my my pulse to quicken.  I spent almost the entire first half of my swim doing a modified version of breast stroke (speaking of strokes… Coach M may have had one if she saw my technique) so as to keep my face out of the water… which just happened to be a cozy 64 degrees.

Being completely stupid and delusional a glutton for punishment, I had decided to forego starting simple and went straight for the half ironman course instead.  After all, if I can swim over 2 miles easily in the pool, then 1.2 miles should be no problem, right?  Yeah, not so much… There was a point when I considered turning around sooner, but I knew there was a dock waiting at the turn around for the HIM where I could get out and warm up before heading back.  Had I done a shorter route, defrosting was not an option.  

By the time I reached the dock, I was managing 6-10 strokes at a time before my heart rate would climb.  I considered this a major victory.  I was very grateful to have my own personal Triathlon Guardian Angel looking out for me (the same Tri Club member who offered reassurance and called me a rockstar at the duathlon).  I hadn’t realized that he kept an eye out for me the whole way, and I actually felt guilty that I had caused him to stay in the freezing water so much longer than he would have otherwise.  He kept telling me how great I was doing and meant it sincerely (which is especially amusing when you consider that I probably looked like I was drowning).  In the beginning, he tried to swim beside me and give me advice on sighting and my stroke.  Eventually he gave me space to sort it out on my own.  It wasn’t until I saw him at the dock that I was aware of how long he had been keeping tabs on me.

Once he saw I finally had the hang of things, he headed back.  Meanwhile, I only stayed out of the water long enough to warm up enough to breath before hopping right back in to start the swim back.  Because they were already taking down the course, I had my own personal kayak escort for the entire stretch back (sort of the equivalent of the running sag wagon).  I am proud to say that I did at least front crawl the entire way back.  I only stopped twice briefly to change strokes and catch my (frozen) breath.  I finally was getting the hang of sighting and was kicking harder than I probably ever had in my life to get to that shore (and my fleece pants!).  

Even though I should have been proud of myself for sticking it out, I wanted to cry.  My half ironman dreams seemed so out of reach at that moment.  Here I had invested so much time and effort, but it did nothing to prepare me for that swim.  The open water swimming was a whole separate beast.  It was yet another hurdle I needed to overcome, and it made me realize how badly I wanted it.  

I was surprised when I got out of the water that I was greeted not just by other people, but by some cheers.  I thought everyone would have already packed up and headed home, but instead they were there encouraging me.  They said they were impressed by how much I had swum (especially given how much extra I did going off course) and were surprised when I told them it was my first open water swim.  I think one woman’s mouth even dropped when I told her I had only first started swimming in October.  So all in all, I guess it was not as epic a failure as it seemed at the time.

The Ugly

As I said, I am a glutton for punishment.  I think we are all well aware of that by now.  Any normal person who had an exhausting morning of fighting a wetsuit in freezing water would probably call it a day, but I needed to know if the REV3 bike course was doable.  I had heard it was hilly and challenging, however, I also have heard that triathlons tend to be less hilly than regular cycling.  I convinced the hubs to ride it with me, and within 10 miles I was ready to turn around.  My body was exhausted, and to be 100% honest- I WAS SCARED $H%TLESS.  The course was all up or down.  It was really steep at parts, and the wind was so bad it was literally knocking me off balance.  Since the last miles of the course are a repeat of the beginning anyway, we basically covered over 20 miles of the course.  I felt completely defeated.  I couldn’t believe I had worked so hard, and yet I was light years away from what I needed to accomplish for this race.  

Being the most supportive husband on the planet, the Adam rode the course on his own yesterday to see how bad it was.  He biked all 56+ brutal miles just to see how long it would take and gauge if I could do it.  I had no idea what he was up to until I saw him this morning.  He finally agreed with me that there was no way I would make it through in the allotted time.  He is a FAR superior cyclist than me and it took him 4 hours.  He said he had every faith in me that I could handle the course, but didn’t think there was any way I would do it fast enough for the cut off, especially after swimming.  It must have been far worse than I ever could have imagined for him to concede this.  He did finally admit that it only became progressively harder throughout the route.  

The Silver Lining

Obviously, I was disappointed, but he only confirmed what I already knew in my heart.  The race I have had my heart set on for the past year is a greater monster than I ever could have imagined.  I am not giving up on my dream to finish it one day, but it won’t be this year for me.  Instead, I went ahead and registered for the Olympic Distance.  Given that I am still scared to death, I am pretty sure I will still be challenging myself… which also means I should be able to live with this decision without being too disappointed.  As Swim Bike Mom likes to say, the important thing is to Keep Moving Forward.  

I may not meet my goal in the initial timeframe I set for myself, but I am also not giving up.  I still want to do a half ironman this year, and I still want to do the REV3 Quassy (someday).  In the meantime, I will continue to take steps to get there- even if they are baby steps instead of giant leaps!  Right now, the next step is the REV3 Olympic Course.  

In the words of Diana Nyad (my idol who I tried to channel during my freezing, anxiety provoking swim):

 I will find a way.

 

Never Give Up

“If you really believe in what you’re doing, work hard, take nothing personally

and if something blocks one route, find another. Never give up.”

-Laurie Notaro
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Remember back when I got kicked out of swim class?  Remember how I said I would make that coach eat her words?  Well not only did I get personally invited back to class, but I have NOW BEEN PROMOTED TO THE INTERMEDIATE LANE!  

In fact, I think I am the only person to get promoted a lane so far in the class.  As if that weren’t exciting (and terrifying!) enough, I also got singled out to demonstrate proper technique for the catch up drill.  This was possibly the most ironic moment to occur in class so far given I was kicked out for having the worst form in class.  lol  Regardless, the rest of the class was highly impressed on both accounts.

They keep telling me how great I look when I swim; however, I feel sort of like that person who lost tons of weight and still sees myself as fat.  No matter how many compliments I get from people on how great and effortless my swimming looks, I still feel like I am struggling and have no idea what I’m doing.  I am still terrified of not being able to breath every time I get in the water, and I still have anxiety before every class that I won’t be able to handle the workout.

swimminghurtsThe thing I continue to struggle with the most is being able to swim lap after lap without rest in between.  This is at least in part due to the fact that I swim as quickly as possible to get to the rest breaks. Now that I have graduated to Lane 2, however, there is no rest between laps.  Instead, we are doing  six 50’s at a time with 10 seconds in between if we’re lucky.  Then, immediately, it’s on to the next drill. Not to mention, there are now 100 meter drills which I am not quite able to do yet (I’m getting close though!)

The other big part of my problem is just being able to relax.  In the rare moments when I do relax in the water, swimming feels effortless.  On the other hand, during class I get so anxious that it is hard to keep my heart rate down, which creates more demand for oxygen, which makes my lungs burn, which makes me anxious… you get the idea…

I think the solution to both these problems is just to swim more- as in drag myself to the pool on my own and put in a closerthanyesterdaylot of time in the water.  After all, it’s gotten me this far.  Plus, I have a long way to go before I get swimming 1.2 miles continuously, so I could probably use al the practice I can get in.

In the meantime, at least I have another small victory to celebrate.  For me, it’s not about being the best swimmer in class or better than anyone else, it’s just about improving.  I am happy to be making progress, even if it’s not that noticeable to me.  My goal in signing up for swim class was to learn as much about swimming as I could, and I have definitely learned a lot from the instructor.  Despite all my anxiety about swimming, I can honestly call myself a swimmer now, and that means something to me. 🙂

 My point in sharing this with all of you is not to brag, but rather point out the value of persistence.  I could have very easily given up on swimming when I got kicked out of class, and no one would have faulted me for it.  After all, the swim instructor had told me to get a refund.  It doesn’t get more blunt than that!  The thing is that I am not at a point in my life where I no longer rely on other people to tell me what I am capable of because I know full well.  Was I a bad swimmer? Absolutely!  Was it hopeless? Absolutely not!

No person should ever allow someone else to crush his or her dreams.  If you want to be a swimmer, find a pool and swim. Want to be a runner, go running.  Want to be an actor, writer, stunt double, lion tamer?  Go do it!  Live your passion!  Don’t worry about other people’s approval.  You need to follow your bliss and do what makes you happy.  No one else in this world can tell you what that is.  You need to find it for yourself.  Besides, what good is someone else’s approval and adoration if you aren’t being authentic anyway?

Go chase your dreams, and never, never give up!