training

Yup, I did it

“To escape fear, you have to go through it, not around.”
― Richie Norton

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Hey y’all!

I did something completely crazy this weekend. Yes, I signed up for the Full Distance at Cedar Point next September (140.6 miles of AWESOMENESS!!!!) No, that it not the crazy thing a did… although, okay that was sort of looney too. The actual insanity involved taking my mountain bike out on the trails for my SECOND. TIME. EVER.  ANNNNNDDD I went all by myself. (I told you: insane!)

The first time I took my mountain bike out was after the hubs bought it for me. We did a short ride, including a few trails. I was absolutely terrified for my life the entire time. I may have cried… a lot. It was ugly. All I could do was picture being horribly maimed as I careened out of control. (In reality, I was probably doing less than 5 mph.) After the experience of feeling utterly defeated and disappointed in myself, I only took it out on the roads… That is until I invested in the road bike. It’s been sitting in the garage ever since.

The thing is, I am still a HUGE chicken when it comes to cycling. I HATE riding alone, so I don’t go enough. My handling still stinks and I have zero (as in zilch, zippo) confidence on the bike. However, eventually after actually careening almost 40 mph while contending with irritable and negligent motorists, hitting the trails didn’t seem so dangerous. In fact, I decided I actually might be better off taking my chances with the trees. After all, at least they are stationery.

Plus, I found a 50 miler I want to do in January, and I figured combining a ride with a run would be a great way to kill two bird with one stone. I would ride my mountain for an hour on the trails and then run for an hour after. Not only would I have a chance to work on my handling skills and getting comfortable on the bike, but I also would start my run on fatigued legs foregoing the need for a high mileage run. Win-Win!

So I bundled myself up for the cozy sub freezing temps and headed to my favorite trails. I decided to warm up on some paved paths and then in a field. It took a little getting used to, but within a few minutes I was managing the gears without much thinking. Surprisingly, I was completely taken back by how much fun I was having. The scenery was absolutely beautiful, and I had most of the park to myself. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on!

Because I was feeling brave (something that almost never happens to me on a bike) I decided to try out the cyclocross cross that had been set up for a competition the following day. Other than a little difficulty with some tight turns and abrupt climbs, I felt fairly comfortable; so I set my sights on something more challenging. In the spirit of living dangerously, I started with some of the flatter trails and then decided to really test myself on my favorite running routes. I was completely shocked by how comfortable I felt even on the more technical terrain. I was by no means moving quickly, but I also was doing a pretty respectable job at keep my bike upright and navigating turns. I couldn’t believe what a difference all the time on my road bike had made in handling IMG_6141ability. I was even able to ride the steep downhills without any fear or hesitation!

Perhaps the most remarkable part was just how much FUN it was. I truly loved every second of it. I never would have imagined feeling so comfortable or at home on a bike. Furthermore, not in a million years would I have guessed that I would be more at ease on a mountain bike than a road bike… but then the trails have always been my sanctuary.

The whole experience was completely exhilarating. It was as if I suddenly became aware of a little reserve of toughness that had previously been untapped and a whole world of possibility was opened up by one short ride.

It was a terrific reminder for me of just how far I’ve come with the bike and in general. It’s been so long since I’ve had any big gains in my training that sometimes I forget I’m still making progress. Then all of a sudden there’s an “AHA!” moment, and I have a whole new perspective.

The whole experience was an important reminder about why it’s so important to keep doing the things that frighten me. It’s breaking through that fear that brings the greatest reward. The greatest joy in life isn’t doing what other people think you can’t, it’s doing things you think you can’t and never could. 

This weekend I surprised myself, and it made me feel better than I have in a long time. I felt growth, and it made me hungry for more. That is why I am committing myself to not be inhibited by fear, and instead chase it down. Who’s with me?

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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!

Fairfield Half Take 3, Recap Take 2

“I would say I’m a kinda fly by the seat of my pants gal.”

Vivian, Pretty Woman

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Here is the deal, I have spent the past three days (no joke) putting together a recap of my glorious return to running only to have WordPress and my Mac completely destroy it.  I suspect a conspiracy… However it may also be possible that it was too much awesomeness in one post and the system was overwhelmed… or my computer is just fried from it being so darn hot in my living room.    Anyway, instead of trying to recreate my original post (you’re just can’t recreate magic) I am going to give you a quick run down.  Ready?

Here we go!

Sunday I made a triumphant return to running and celebrated being 3 weeks out from surgery by running the Fairfield Half Marathon for my third time.  It was pretty awesome, but here are the highlights.

My race number was a palindrome!  I realize this makes me a total nerd, but I considered it good luck.  I mean, what are the odds? 

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I also scored this nifty magnet for my car.   Two thumbs up to the race organizers on this one!  I was extra excited because I had to relinquish all my old race stickers when I traded in my car.  This definitely helped my new collection.

 

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Did I mention it even matches my new orange crosstrek?

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about doing this race because of my recent surgery and not feeling terribly great the night before… not to mention working a 14+ hour shift the day prior.  However, I woke up before my alarm feeling good and reminded myself that I could always walk or drop out if I needed to.  

Besides, I just didn’t want to miss Fairfield after having done it the past two years.  As much as I HATE their half, I also love it.  It’s primarily the heat and humidity I can’t stand… well, that and the hills.  Luckily, the weather this year was only in the 60s and several of the hills from the initial course were replaced by coastal views last year.

It is pretty amazing how much flatter that course felt not running in 90 degree weather with near 100% humidity!  I kept waiting for all the ridiculous inclines to start, only to find they were not as numerous or steep as I remembered.  The coastal views, meanwhile, were far more enjoyable because I was not distracted by being baked by the sun.  The other thing that I’m sure made I huge difference is that I had already decided going into the run to not push hard and just do it for fun.  Instead of killing myself to get a good time, I slowed down to high five all the kiddos and run through sprinklers.  It was a completely different experience, and I definitely appreciated the change in pace.

The other major perk this year was the gorgeous weather seemed to draw bigger crowds of spectators than the past years I’ve run.  There were TONS of people cheering, playing in bands, handing out water and ice cubes, and spraying runners with hoses.  There were even lots of elderly folks in lawn chairs waving.  It was so much more fun to run with the support of the crowd!  (Not to mention all the AMAZING volunteers!!!! Thank you all!!!!)  

One thing I love about the Fairfield Half is that it is a big event.  There are just hordes of runners the whole way through the course.  Not in a claustrophobic kind of way, but rather a thank God I’m not a straggler running by myself kind of way.  Plus, the finish is at a GIANT BEACH PARTY? What is better than that? You get a good run in and then celebrate on the beach with a couple thousand of your new runner buddies.  RUNNER BEACH PARTY!  It’s the stuff dreams are made of…  and totally worth sweating it out in the heat for 13.1… I swear!  Besides cool ocean water beats an ice bath after a run any day in my book.

In case you are wondering, I finished the whole 13.1 without any issue.  My go slow and enjoy the scenery game plan paid off.  In fact, my biggest source of discomfort pain was actually the chafing on my inner thighs. (Bodyglide, you FAILED me!)  My finish time was 2:06 which I think is actually faster than my previous times for that course.  I am pretty sure it had entirely to do with the more comfortable weather, but I’ll still take it.  Really, it’s not to bad for 3 weeks post op and a whole month without running… or being allowed to do much of anything.  

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Half Marathon for very first run post-op? Sure, why not?  Go big or go home, right?

 

 

One cool thing about this race is that it was the first that I logged as an OutRUNNER for OutRUN38.  If you have never heard of this organization or Liz Shuman you should definitely check them out!  I have even added the recent clip from the Today Show for your viewing pleasure. (You’re welcome!)

 

You know I am all about supporting a good cause, and this is a great one!  It’s all about positivity and inspiration! Liz is such a tremendously vibrant and inspiring lady, and the community that has risen up around her is beyond amazing.  If you are interested in helping individuals with cystic fibrosis or just getting involved in a great cause then consider joining the OutRunner community.  Wouldn’t you like to put all those miles you log to good use?

Making Use of Downtime

“I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself.

For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness

is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.”
Martha Washington

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Hi All!

I am pleased to report that as some of my activity restrictions are being lifting, life is starting to return to normal around here… which is a good thing because I was starting to go a little bonkers not being allowed to exercise (We’ll just say it didn’t agree with the PTSD and that I’m happy to be sleeping through the night again).  

Currently, I have returned to work and survived my first full week back including one hellish weekend shift.  I have also resumed swimming!  In fact, at the two week mark from surgery some super cool peeps from the tri club and I went to the lake to celebrate my first day off swimming restriction.  The only downside was that it was windy out and the water was choppy which definitely did not agree with my motion sickness.  The good news is, it definitely encouraged me to kick harder and swim faster!

Speaking of which, I also am thrilled to inform you that I have started an Open Water Swim Training Program through the Lake Quassapaug Sailing Center.  Now I get to swim on my Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings off with a bunch of swimmers who are far superior to me.  On the bright side, they give me a head start.  Plus, they are all really fun people… hilarious actaully…  I have gone out with them twice already, and I feel like it has helped a lot with getting used to the wetsuit.  In fact, I have to be honest that open water swimming has really grown on me.  *gasp*  I think I may even prefer it to the pool at this point.  The lake water is cool (ok COLD) and refreshing, and you can’t beat the scenery.  Today I swam in the pool for the first time since surgery and the water just felt really warm and gross in comparison (at least upon first getting in anyway…)

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My newest home for swimming… you can go ahead and be jealous now…

Aside from starting to swim again I also spent a little time on the bike trainer.  Then yesterday I went for my first post op run (more on that to come… I decided to just go big.  After all it was my three weeks out from surgery marker!)

For all of you wondering what I did with the rest of my free time (riiiight… you’re thinking What free time?!, but trust me, I had lots of it….)  So to keep from climbing the walls, I decided to finally order my wedding photos and redecorate the living room.  It all started because I found a great piece of furniture to hide all of Adam’s cycling gear… which has been slowly taking over the house, especially the dining room table.  Then I decided that instead of trying to hide of his stuff (because I’m realizing it’s futile… he’s never going to be the kind of guy who puts things away…ever… it’s just not who he is) I would try to camouflage it instead.  I know! Genius, right?

Here are my efforts:

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The hubby’s new bike gear storage with new bike themed decor…

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And our nifty new clock

I think the hubs was both touched and impressed by my efforts to incorporate his love of cycling into our living space.  Of course, he was not quite impressed enough to actually use his new storage area, but at least I have a place to put all his stuff when I clean up after him.  I also believe he was happy to see our wedding photos finally hanging… although I bet he was secretly sad to see all the photos of the dogs go.  

So apart from my run yesterday which we will discuss in a separate post, that is all the shenanigans I have to update you on for now.  I have surprisingly been doing a good job of laying low and keeping out of trouble… with the exception of yesterday’s run.  In my defense, though, I was told that my activity level should be dependent on my pain, and I really don’t have any.  Plus, it’s not like I have been lifting anything which is the really important restriction.  After all, as much as I love and adore The Bloggess, I don’t want a Who trying to escape from my belly button. 😉  

Stay tuned!

The Detour

“I used to have all these plans and think ‘Ah, I have my whole life figured out’,

but then I realized no matter how much I plan: life happens!

So I find myself living day to day trying to do my best, 

embracing every moment as a learning opportunity

and chance to get to know myself a little more.”
– Q’orianka Kilcher

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I’m guessing that after reading the title of this post, most of you have figured out the direction this is going.  No, I’m not pregnant.  Yes, I am temporarily out of commission.  It’s kind of a bummer, but I was really ready for a break anyway.  Besides, another week and change and I’ll be back to running, swimming, and cycling (on the trainer at least…)

Let me start by saying that I DID NOT over do it at the REV3.  I one hundred percent went easy that day and did not push myself.  I may be a glutton for punishment, but I’m not stupid (ok, not most of the time… at least when it comes to injury prevention anyway).  I knew I was in new territory, so I raced according to my goal- which was simply to finish.  I went slow and enjoyed the experience.  When I crossed the finish, I still had plenty of juice left in my legs.  I felt strong and knew I could have covered more mileage if I had to.  This was not particularly surprising considering I had actually trained for a half.

It was a nice feeling to cross a finish not completely spent for a change.  I didn’t want to end up sick or dehydrated so I was careful to get plenty of calories and liquid out on the course.  In all honestly, it was probably the best I had ever felt at the completion of a race.  

The hubs and our friend (who both biked out to meet me) made it home well ahead of me due to the post race traffic and had already ordered lunch when I arrived.  I still felt great after eating and showering.  It wasn’t until a few hours later after dinner that I started to feel really crummy.  At first, I thought I was simply getting a migraine from being out in the sun all day.  I tried taking a nap, but woke up overwhelming nausea and epigastic pain.  All I could think was “This is not going to be good”.  I sent the hubs to get some zofran hoping I could avoid a trip to the emergency room, but taste of the tabs almost sent me running back to the bathroom all over again.  I decided that if this is what morning sickness is like then there’s probably a good reason I’m not pregnant yet.

When the pain and nausea had not improved an hour later I finally broke down and had the hubs bring me to the hospital.  I gave the surgical team a heads up that I was headed in and pretty sure my gallbladder would need to come out.  I did have luck on my side in that the surgeon oncall that night was one the best that I work with. (Thank God for small favors!) 

As it turned out, I was right.  My gallbladder was the culprit and needed to go.  This was no great shock to me.  However, I was struck by whatImage a coincidence it was that my gallbladder attack happened only hours after completing my first tri.  Here I had worked my butt off over 10 months and managed to make it through the whole race feeling strong before my symptoms started.  That was an epic #WIN in my book! What’s more, had I not downgraded to the Olympic course, I would have raced on Sunday instead and would have missed out all together!  

Obviously I considered this the universe at work in my favor as repayment for every ounce of good karma in my life.  Can you even imagine how devastated I would have been to have invested all that time and energy only to miss out on my big chance?  It’s just too depressing to even think about.  I am so beyond grateful for whatever triathlon guardian angel hooked me up on this one.  I am forever in your debt!  

As far as the surgery itself, it may strike you as funny, but I was less nervous in pre-op than I was gearing up for the race!  With the timing of how I got sick and who the surgeon was on call, I just felt like the universe was looking out for me and it was going to be okay.  I can’t even describe the sensation, but I was completely at ease.  There was not even a little part of me that was worried going in.  In fact, I felt incredibly lucky to not only know exactly what was going to happen, but all the staff taking care of me as well. 

It’s hard to be scared when you are surrounded by people who know you and care about your well being.  Every person (ok almost every, but the Emergency Room was legitimately getting slammed so I have to cut them some slack) was so kind and caring throughout my stay.  I really feel blessed to receive the care I did.

The only part I was disappointed about was that I missed volunteering at the REV3 half and my niece’s first birthday.  I guess life happens though.  All I can do at this point is be grateful for everything that went right and just roll with it.  Luckily, my sister was ok with throwing another party for my niece with just immediate family this weekend.  Plus, now that I won’t be able to race in the Griskus Olympic, I should be able to volunteer that course instead.  In terms of taking time off from training, I feel like I have been handling it pretty well.  For one thing, it’s given me a chance to catch up on other things I’ve been neglecting… like writing. 😉  It’s also given me an excuse to slow down for a change.

So that is my story about my slight detour on the path to 70.3… and eventually 140.6.  Luckily I still have my whole life to get there!

#KeepDreaming #ThriveOn

The Next Step

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
-Walt Disney

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Can you all guess what I did today?  Anyone?  Okay I’ll just tell you then.  I started my book!  I wrote the whole preface/introduction today.  That means that writing a booking has gone from being one of the dreams I want to accomplish someday to one that I am currently making a reality.  Holy cow!!!  It doesn’t matter if it’s only a few pages because it’s started, and someday it will be finished.  To be honest, I don’t care if it is ever published.  It’s more about the principle of following through on something I’ve always wanted to do.

Up until this point I’ve have been doing the ground work.  I’ve gotten into the habit of writing regularly.  I put a lot of effort (and myself!) into this blog.  I have found my voice and identity as a writer, and been more open and honest than I ever thought I would be.  I’ve even built up my media presence.  All these smaller goals I’ve set for myself have been stepping stones for this major leap.  

I’m sure there are people who will be surprised or think I’m not qualified, but as far as I’m concerned their opinions don’t matter.  Every great author was once an everyday guy or girl just like you and me.  People aren’t born into greatness; they set out and create it.  I will succeed because I am crazy enough to believe I can.  I am a writer not because I have been published, but because I write.  My message to the world is no less valid or needed than any other work out there today.  

I believe in leading by example, and I want the world to know that you don’t need to have a perfect life or upbringing to get somewhere in life.  Every life is full of setbacks and failure.  It’s how we deal with them that builds our character.  Does surviving trauma leave scars?  Yes, absolutely!  Does it mean that you are damaged? Heck no!  

I would never wish the trauma I’ve experienced in my past on anyone, not even my worst enemy.  However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the lessons I’ve learned from it.  We all know that bad things can happen to good people.  What we sometimes fail to realize is that good things can come from bad situations, good things like growth and strength. 

I want people to know it’s ok to embrace your past along with your present and future- even if it’s ugly and full of mistakes.  Take what you’ve learned and draw from it.  Don’t for even a second stop to be ashamed.  We all have made poor choices in our lives.  They make us human.  They don’t define us.  It’s never too late to let go and start living fully.  Nor is it ever to late to set a new goal or chase your dreams.

It’s not about living a perfect life.  No one is perfect.  Perfect is the enemy.  It’s unachievable.  Authentic, however, is achievable; and it’s a great way to go.  

There is nothing particularly original about sharing my story from victim to survivor and ultimately thriver, however that is the point.  I’m not some elite super athlete.  I am an everyday women who took a rather round about journey to finding herself, a journey that involved a lot of anxiety, tears, self doubt, and crazy mileage and dreams.  Never in a million years would I have ever believed that I would be a survivor of domestic abuse, but I also never dreamed I would be a marathoner, ultra runner, swimmer, cyclist, or triathlete.  I am not fearless.  If anything I am a huge chicken.  I’m clusmy.  I was cut (repeatedly) from my track team and kicked out of swim class, but I never quit.  Now I am training for a Half Ironman.  

Believe me when I tell you that “If I can do it, so can you!”

Waterbury Duathlon Recap

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.

If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

-Dale Carnegie

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It’s the moment you have all been waiting for!  That’s right, it’s time for my Waterbury Duathlon Recap!  Spoiler Alert: I didn’t die or get maimed.  That means I am now officially someone who competes (and I use the term loosely) in more than one sport!  I am a duathlete!

To say I was nervous going into this event would be a gross understatement.  Absolutely TERRIFIED would be a more accurate Imagedescription.  Luckily, my uber supportive and encouraging hubs came along for backup.  I was a little surprised when he registered because he had signed up for the Five Boroughs Bike Tour the day after.  Have I mentioned recently how much I love him?

Anyway… he made sure our bikes were all prepped and ready to go the night before, so we were all set to go in the morning.  After finally settling on parking at the YMCA (after driving around in circles forever a few times) and taking a short walk to the start, we headed over to registration.  Can I just say that I have never raced in an event that required an ankle bracelet for a time chip.  There were also so many stickers and bib numbers!  It was just a little overwhelming… especially given that I didn’t even know how to rack my bike.  It made me very grateful to have the hubs there to show me how to set everything up.

I was also relieved to have my first race involving cycling with our YMCA family!  There were lots of familiar faces, which helped to put me slightly more at ease.  Everyone was so supportive and encouraging.  All I could think was if I could just get through the bike, I would be fine.  My motto for the day was “go slow, have fun,” and I repeated it over and over in my head.

The thing that frightened me most was that the bike course was in downtown Waterbury, and it wasn’t closed.  This meant not only did I have to contend with my general clumsiness on the bike, but do so while avoiding traffic.  Are you freaking kidding me?  As if I’m not challenged enough. lol  Had I only known what was coming!

I think you could have given me all the time in the world, and I still would not have felt ready at the start.  My bike was racked, my transition area set, but there is just no feeling prepared when you step outside your comfort zone.  As crazy as it sounds I think I was almost more afraid of the USAT official than the actual race.  Not that she wasn’t a nice person, but it was more than a little intimidating to go from just running to a race with rules and penalties.  I was so scared of accidentally drafting or doing something I could get disqualified for…  As if the race official was going to care about those of us in the middle or back of the pack.

The first leg of the race was a relatively flat 5K.  It went by fairly quickly despite the fact that my legs weren’t feeling great.  I tried to just relax and focus on my running form.  I reminded myself that just because I didn’t feel great at the start didn’t mean the whole race would be bad.  If ultra running has taught me anything, it’s that you can’t judge a race by the first three or even ten miles.  As long as you hang in there, chances are things will turn around… eventually.

I was actually surprised when I looked down at my watch at the end of the 5K and saw it had only been 22 minutes.  I made my way around the park into the transition area and caught a glimpse of the hubs on his way out.  I tried to take my time getting set up for the bike leg because it was my very first transition and I didn’t want to forget anything.

roadrashThankfully, I managed to mount my bike without too much difficulty; even though I did accidentally release the fastener on my shoe by hitting it on the pedal and had to fix it before I could get on.  Still, before I knew it, I was clipped in and on my way!  I was relieved to find they had officers at each intersection to direct the traffic.

I just was starting to relax and think it wouldn’t be so bad when the hills started…

It wasn’t that the uphills were particularly hard.  Sure some were steep and long, but it was anticipating all the downhill that had me spooked.  What goes up must come down, right?

I was probably the only person who dreaded those down hills more than the up.  As it turned out, it was with good reason!  When we did finally reach the top of all those hills, we were rewarded with an incredibly steep downhill.  Not just a downhill, but a downhill through traffic, with a sharp right turn at the bottom!  I kid you not, I thought it would be the end of me!  I couldn’t help but visualize myself wiping out on that turn.  It was not pretty!  All I could think was that I should have unclipped because I was going to eat it!  What’s worse is that it was still downhill after the turn!!!!  Even worse still, the course was a loop, so I had to do it all over again on the second lap!!!!

I sincerely thought of ditching my bike and quitting I was so shaken.  I almost cried.  In fact, I’m surprised my lip didn’t bleed from how hard I was biting it.  Despite my better self preserving instinct; however, I didn’t quit.  Instead I finished my first loop and headed out for the second.  I dreaded coming though the downhill again, but I was determined to get through it.  The second time through was even more awful because we had to navigate between a line a traffic and row of parked cars.  There was almost no margin for error.  I was SO glad I had practiced riding through all those lane dividers on the Cheshire bike path and managed to keep myself straight.  Thankfully, I made it all the way down and around the turn without crashing.  Once I got back to even ground, I knew I was in the home stretch.

I plowed through the rest of the course back to transition, and after being redirected to the appropriate exit (yes, I initially went the wrong way), I headed out for the final 5K run.  My legs felt heavy as I expected they would.  Again, I focused on form and tried to relax.  Despite the fact that I felt like I was barely moving, the miles were going by quickly so I knew I was moving at a good pace.  The sun and heat were killing me, but I had already survived the bike.  There was no way I was going to let a little warm weather take me out!  It kept telling myself “It’s only 5K, it’s only 5K “.  I chipped the miles off one by one, then before I knew it, I had the park in my sights!!!  One of my swim buddies was volunteering near the park directing runners, and I shouted his name because I was so happy to see him.  I think he was surprised to see me already so close to the finish because I had told him how terrified I was about this being my first event with a bike.  He told me I was “Rocking it!” and I continued on my way.

At that point there was only a short distance… including a ridiculous staircase (I mean really?  A staircase?  Sadists!) to the finish.  The hubs was there at the finish waiting for me.  I ran straight to him and I could see the time on the clock was 1:57!!!  I cannot even explain what it felt like to cross that line!  I had been so scared and worked so hard.  It is just indescribable what it meant to me to actually take the leap and do it.  Less than a year ago I bought my first real bike, and now I’m a duathlete.

winning

The hubs and I went to check the results and he was excited that he had one of the fastest times on the bike course.  (Woohoo! Go hubs!!!)  I was just happy to have finished.  I was ecstatic it was in under 2 hours, and in utter disbelief that I finished in the top 50.  As part of the race, we got bracelets that entitled us to a free beer and sandwich at one of the local pubs so we headed over to eat.  Instead of finishers medals, we were each awarded a pint glass.  I know, again with the pint glasses.  I’m going to have quite the collection!

spoils

Actually, we left our glasses at the pub… Okay they took them, but we didn’t mind because they had the pub logo instead of the logo for the race anyway.

After we got home and cleaned up, we headed out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants followed by  ice cream at a local creamery.  Just in case you were wondering, I did not feel the least bit guilty about all the calories.  I especially didn’t feel guilty for the DELICIOUS  s’more martini I had with dinner to celebrate.

smore

Overall the hubs and I both had a great experience.  It was a very well organized event, and I was glad that my first tri event was on our home turf.  It definitely made it less intimidating and added some comfort level.  Plus, it was fun to see so many familiar faces out on the course.  I was really happy that the hubs was so pleased with his performance.  One of the guys from the bike shop we use had recommended he get into racing, and I think his performance might help encourage him.

When we finally got home from all our festivities, the hubs showed me how to clean the bikes and re-lube the chains.  I had told him that I want to get comfortable with the maintenance, so he has been introducing me to the basics.  His mom sent us a text while we were working to let us know she saw our race results and that we had done better than we originally thought.  Sure enough, I had placed second in my age group, 12th for the ladies, and 48th overall!  Not too bad for my first time.  The hubs had finished 26th overall and was well ahead of me with a time of 1:42.  For the record, though, I ran my second 5K faster than him. 😉

photo 2

It’s hard to imagine, even now, how much this journey to triathlete has changed my life.  It has forced me to face and conquer my fears on a regular basis.  I decided I wanted to someday finish an Ironman before I even knew how to swim or bike (properly).  Now, I am well on my way to achieving that dream.  I may not do a full Ironman in the next year, or even two, but now I have the foundation to get there.

In fact, the day after the duathlon I went to the pool and swam over 2 miles without even getting tired.  The last 1100m I swam continuously.  It’s a far cry from the girl who was terrified to even put her face in the water.  That’s how much stronger and more confident triathlon has made me.

worthwhile

Moral of the story: Some of the most rewarding and worthwhile moments of your life will start with being scared to death.  Don’t be inhibited by fear.  Everything worthwhile in life is on the other side of it.