tough chik

Getting Back in the Saddle

“One thing that cycling has taught me

is that if you can achieve something without a struggle

it’s not going to be satisfying.”

-Greg LeMond

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Hello Everyone!

I have more exciting news for you all!  Yesterday the hubs and I went out for my first official outdoor ride of the season, and I survived!  In fact, I did better than just survive.  I actually did well!  No one was more surprised by this than me.  I think the hubs was secretly impressed, but he hid it well.  I was so happy because I had been terrified of tipping over repeatedly and getting covered in road rash and chain bites.  However, as soon as I hopped on it all came back to me.  

I immediately remembered how to use my gears, which was a big fear of mine.  I also did MUCH BETTER at balancing than the last time I rode theImage bike path.  This was likely related to all the practice I have had in spin and on the trainer with relaxing- especially my shoulders, which I have a bad habit of keeping by my ears.  It’s amazing how much straighter and more smoothly the bike rides when you aren’t holding it with a death grip… go figure!  

I purposely picked the Cheshire Bike Path (as opposed Lake Waramaug which involves minimal dismounting) so that I would have LOTS of practice unclipping and riding through the lane dividers (aka THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE) at the intersections.  I also thought the good vibes from PR’ing on the bike path on Sunday might carry over and help calm my nerves.

The hubs spent some time with me teaching me how to coast while balancing on one foot.  He thought it would help me with dismounting at the intersections, which it did- thankfully!  Normally, I have a lot of trouble coming forward off my seat when I dismount, so instead I end up trying to balance on the toes of my unclipped foot.  This generally leads to toppling over at long lights… hence the reason I avoid city riding altogether.  Well that and being a general hazard on the road

That being said, now that I have conquered swimming, I REALLY want to learn to ride my bike like a big girl real cyclist.  Unfortunately, that means getting comfortable with stopping and starting.  I keep telling myself that if I was able to go from not being able to swim properly at all, and being completely anxious about even getting in the water, then I can conquer cycling too.  

Furthermore, I don’t want to settle for just being competent at it, I want to get proficient at it.  Of all the legs of triathlon, you spend the most time on the bike.  It only makes sense to put energy into becoming the best cyclist I can be.  Getting over my fear of seriously maiming myself riding is a necessary evil.  When I took on swimming, I knew it was essential to achieving my goal of one day finishing an Ironman.  As much as I was absolutely terrified, I was also determined.  

Start by doing what’s necessary;

then do what’s possible;

and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

Francis of Assisi

I have never been one to give up on something simply out of fear.  To me, that’s just not a good enough reason.  I don’t ever want to say I didn’t go after something I truly wanted because I was too scared to give my all.  I would rather try and fail.  That is what got Imageme through the swimming.  I was convinced if I could just stick with it that I could do it.  I HAD to do it.  I didn’t consider the fact that I still wasn’t comfortable on my bike.  All I focused on was the task at hand.

Now I am approaching my bike with the same determination.  There is no room for fear.  It is now or never.  I have a roughly 6 week window to get really comfortable on my bike before the REV 3 Half Ironman, and I want to be there.  I know in my heart I can cover the distance.  I have it in me to do it.  If I don’t do it now, I don’t know when I will have another chance.  I have already invested over 6 months of training.  I have learned to swim and spent countless hours running, spinning, cycling, swimming, and cross training in preparation.

That is why I know I will get the hang of this bike, and why I am so thrilled to have survived my first ride unscathed.  I am lucky to have the hubs to back me up.  He loves cycling the way I love running, so if anyone can help me get to where I need to be it’s him.  

Oh and since our ride went so well (we did close to 20 miles at a “good pace”- according to the hubs) I signed up for a duathlon this weekend.  I figured it may be my only chance to practice transition before June.  Plus, it will give me a feel for riding my bike in an actual race.  The hubs says I am ready, so I am going to trust him.  It’s only a 14 mile bike ride, but it’s in downtown Waterbury.  I’m a little nervous about the city riding; but I have been doing well with dismounting so I should be ok.  

Good thing I’ll have my Tough Chik gear!  I swear it gives me super powers that keep me upright!  Maybe it’s just the extra boost of confidence that comes with wearing the logo “This is what Tough Looks Like”.

What adventures are you all taking on this week? 

 

 

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Doing Nothing to Prepare for My Ultra

“Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.”
-Jules Renard

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We are just 2 days away from my second Ultra, and I am preparing today by being lazy.  Perhaps the most difficult part of training for me is the tapering.  Fellow endurance junkies, I know you know my pain!  I am so accustomed to living life 100 mph that cutting back on training makes me feel like I am literally grinding to a halt.  Plus, given that exercise is my coping mechanism to deal with all the other absurdity going on in my life, the decrease in workouts makes me extra looney.

This time around, however, I am trying to enjoy the downtime.  Life has been so chaotic recently with being promoted to supervisor Imageand my parents moving that the change in pace is actually kind of refreshing.  Instead of feeling like a total slacker, I’ve been reminding myself that my training for Saturday’s run is behind me.  The best thing I can do now is make sure I eat properly, sleep plenty, and ensure my body is well rested.  

So today I am giving myself permission to be lazy.  Rather than worrying about getting in enough mileage of swimming, biking, and running this week, I have been trying to relax… Try being the operative word.  Surprisingly, this has not been as difficult as it typically is for me.  Perhaps this is because I made it to swim class Tuesday night.  We only swam just over a mile, but it was enough to take the edge off and shake off a crappy work day.  

The class was great because we learned a new “punching” drill, and I feel like it really helped my stroke.  Plus Coach M was in a great mood given that I finally gave her my gift for teaching me to swim.  I had noticed she has propensity toward soft, fitted shirts so I got her an “i swim” shirt from the comfiest brand I know: Tough Chik! 🙂  She absolutely loved it!  It’s funny to think how far we’ve come from that first class… 

Aside from swim class, I haven’t done much in the way of exercise this week… Well other than the 5K on Sunday. I might sneak in another swim today, but that will be the last workout prior to Saturday.  Tomorrow I am working, so today my goal is just to take it easy and plan out my gear and attire for the run.  The hubs has agreed to give me a ride and pick me up.  I told him not to feel obligated to stay the whole day since it took me almost 9 hours to finish the last one… plus ultra running is not much of a spectator sport.  I am lucky to have a hubby that not only doesn’t mind me spending an entire Saturday running, but is willing to give up his time to help make it happen.  I think I may have won the spouse lottery.  After all, it takes a special breed to love an ultra runner… especially a tapering ultra runner… 

Who else is racing this weekend?  Any big plans?

That Makes Sense

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

Albert Einstein

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“That makes sense”… words you will likely never hear in regards to the way I go about training.. or life. lol  For example, as you all know, I recently decided to sign up for another ultra.  I then proceeded not to run a single mile all week (not that different from my previous ultra training actually… Do as I say, not as I do!).  In reality, I had a very good reason for this.  I was still feeling sick, and for some reason running was the only type of exercise that made me feel worse.  I made up for the lack of on foot miles with extra swimming; but the point is that most people do not sign up for an ultra when home sick and then swim instead of run to train… I did also spin. 😉

On that note, I did get back to the pool this week (Yea!!!!) and more than doubled the mileage I usually get in.  I was extra motivated because Coach M (now that we get along, I am going to try to stop referring to her as the pool troll… though I didn’t mean it so much in terms of personality as in the gatekeeper none-shall-pass sense) demoted me back to the beginner lane at my first evening class.  I not only found this somewhat deflating but also physically uncomfortable.  The water was absolutely FREEZING!  In the “C” lane they take tons of breaks, and I am now conditioned to swim for over a mile with minimal breaks.  With the water being so cold, all I wanted to do was keep moving.  In fact, I got yelled at for swimming too fast… something about it not being a race…  In reality, I was just trying to keep warm.  So after a very unsatisfying less-than-a-mile swim, I was determined to prove to myself that I could keep up with at least the intermediate lane.  

ImageLuckily for me, Coach M was giving away the workout sheets after class. I grabbed a copy and headed back to the pool after spin class yesterday. I looked at the beginner and intermediate workouts and decided to just go for the full monty.  At first I was a little nervous because the workout called for a few 300’s and the furtherest I had gone without a break was only 100m.  Ultimately, I figured I could split the 300’s up if I needed to.  The beginning of the workout was a little rough because Coach M just happened to be there, and we ended up in the same lane together.  I could feel her eyes judging me, and it made it hard to relax, hence hard to breathe, and hard to swim.  In reality, she was having issues of her own due to back spasms and probably barely noticed me… then again it is Coach M so she might have been mutli-tasking…

Anyway, I not only made it through her whole advanced workout, but I did it in an hour!  That was even with all the people interrupting me because the pool was super crowded and everyone was feeling chatty.  (I had missed to memo for social hour on the pool schedule apparently!)  Even more exciting, I did the 300’s without needing breaks AND I did all my intervals in the recommended timespans, or at least very close (2:00 for 200 and 1:00 for 100).  It was definitely an eye opener to how much better my endurance has gotten.  I also noticed I am getting much more relaxed in the water! (Victory dance!)  Image

It’s interesting now that I have been through one cycle of Masters Swim and gotten comfortable in the water to see all the new swimmers trying to learn.  I guess I had never noticed until recently how many adults at the pool are learning from scratch like I did.  I supposed I was to preoccupied with trying not to drown before to pay attention to anyone else.  Now I can spot them easily.  They have that familiar look on terror on their faces as they balance on the ledge unsure if they’ll make it back to the other end.  I usually reassure them that I also could barely swim a few months ago and it does get easier.  I don’t think they believe me.  I can’t blame them. I don’t think I would either.  It’s hard to imagine when your lungs are on fire and every muscle is screaming that it will EVER get easier.  Drowning seems the far more likely scenario.

Meanwhile, the people who were there when I first was learning cannot seem to believe the difference.  Since I have no concept of what is a difficult or long workout for a swimmer, I have no idea if I am doing well or not.  I know that I am improving, and that’s about it.  Judging by their shocked reactions, I guess I am doing better than I imagined… or they all just need to practice more.  The one person who does not seem to have noticed how much progress I’ve made is Coach M.  However, in her defense the woman has seen my initial attempts at drowning, so I can understand her hesitation about wanting to move me up the ranks.  

In the meantime, I have decided that I am just going to work at getting so good that she will be unable to ignore my progress.  

Makes sense, right?

 

More Things I’m Excited About

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember,

You have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
-Harriet Tubman 

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Well, in case you are wondering why I am gracing you with not one, but TWO posts today, let me explain.  My first post was one that I started on Friday but didn’t get a chance to finish until today.  This one is my actual post about what’s going on today, and I am way too excited to put off talking about it until tomorrow!

Ok, so first off I took today as a “rest” day…rest from exercise that is.  In reality, I have been quite busy and productive, which are actually two very different things by the way.  I started my morning with an all out effort at Fundraising for my upcoming race.  I created an event page, sent out emails, and the donations are already rolling in!  (BIG SHOUT OUT THANK YOU to those who have donated so far!)  This makes me a very happy girl.  Last year I was comparatively low key about my efforts and was not terribly successful in terms of raising donations.  This year I have changed tactics and basically resorted to shameless begging and badgering.  It appears this method is already working much better…

I also used my time this morning to clean out my closets and gather donations for our upcoming Book and Clothing Drive which just happens to fall on the day before my big run.  I am hoping this works to my advantage as I may be able to squeeze out some last minute donations and well wished while I’m there helping to staff it.  😉 Since I am the type of person who loves decluttering and getting rid of stuff, this would have been enough to make my day.  The fact that it was for a great cause was just a bonus. 😉

988291_10151641352072979_1069446167_nHowever, lucky me- it just kept getting better!  I got to spend time with my family this afternoon and meet my brother’s new dog who they just rescued.  Then I came home and found that my credit card balance was lower than I thought.  Awesome, right?   So with this new found information, I hopped on the Tough Chik website and officially registered to be a part of their 2014 team.  This has been something I have been wanting to do but putting off in an effort to save money and pay down some of our wedding debt.  However, I ultimately decided that I could buy a lesser expensive sign up package now and splurge on the uber cool cycling apparel later… maybe I could even set a new riding goal for myself to earn it. Lord knows I could use the added motivation to overcome my fear of my bike! 🙂

Again, this would have also made for a great day on it’s own, but it continued to get better still!

While I was on the Tough Chik page, I noticed they had a charity tab so I (of course) clicked on it and was totally blown away.  Tough Chik is affiliated with a charity called Project Athena, and I am absolutely IN LOVE with their mission:

The mission of Project Athena is to help women with breast cancer and other medical or traumatic setbacks live their athletic and adventurous dreams through the Project Athena Foundation. Awareness for Project Athena will be achieved through the ultra endurance endeavors of an experienced and high profile all-female adventure team who embody the spirit of Athena.

How AMAZING is that? And how did I not know about this sooner?!!!   I am pretty sure that if I built a charity from the ground up, this would be it’s exact mission– minus the “high profile” athletes of course because let’s face it, I’m not that well connected. 😉  More seriously though, I am just excited that an organization like this exists.  It gives me hope that someday I can quit my job and do something like this for work.  Plus, I am totally pumped that I can register to do an event with them.

In case you are not already blown away, I’ll leave you with their video.  In the meantime, I would like to remind you that every person on this planet has the power to make a difference.  What will you use yours for?