triathlon

Breaking Up With The Scale

“Only when you are aware of the uniqueness of everyone’s individual body

will you begin to have a senseof your own self-worth.”

Ma Jian

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You may have guessed from the title of this post that the Get Fit Challenge has officially ended (YEA!!!!!!).  That means no more weigh ins!  As you know, I didn’t particularly care for the scale; so I am pretty stoked about our official break up.  Our last challenge was to improve our results from our initial fit test.  We got one point for completing it, and one point for each exercise we improved.  I was a little worried about being able to beat my previous totals since I blasted through the first time… and biked over 23 miles at spin before arriving to take it… oh, and ran over 7 miles of incline… and swam a mile…  Okay so I essentially did a whole triathlon prior.  Good cause for concern, right?

Well surprisingly, I sailed through the push ups, sit ups and squats- surpassing my previous totals on all of them.  It was the having to run farther than 1.68 miles in 10 minutes at the end that nearly killed me!  All I could think was “why did I run so fast the first time?”, and then I remembered it was because I had been racing the hubs.  This time around I was not in a racing mood.  I just wanted to survive it!  Luckily, I managed it with a second or two to spare.  Then we had our final weigh in, and I came in at my highest weight since our initial weigh in (which was both humorous and irritating, but not at all surprising given how bloated I was from finally getting my “visitor”… it would figure that she would disappear for weeks on end and then show up that week!).

Regardless of my epic fail at weight loss (a side effect of not actually needing to lose weight) the hubs and I still came in 3rd place overall, which means we get bragging rights and $25 each to spend at the gym on exciting stuff like protein shakes and gatorade.  Despite my loathing of the weigh ins, it was actually a worthwhile experience for both of us.  Of course now that it is over, I have not had much success in getting the hubs to the gym with me… or the pool… I think he did make one spin class last week.  In his defense, they just switched his shift again at work.  I think he may get back on track when he gets used to his new schedule.  Presently he spends most of his down time sleeping.

I, on the other hand, am really proud of myself for not only continuing to kick butt at the gym (I am soooo close to doing a real pull up!!!), but also sticking to my mileage goals for the year.  To date I have managed 335/1000 miles for the bike, 146/500 miles for running, and 17/50 miles for swimming.  I even forced myself to ride the bike trainer for an hour twice this week (even though it is even more painful and boring than running on a treadmill).  To keep motivated I wear my Tough Chik jersey and remind myself that it is mental preparation.  I also remind myself that I need all the help I can get with cycling… like even more than with swimming, and that is saying something!

All that biking, running, and swimming has meant lots of time at the YMCA.  I prefer to run there when I use the treadmill because they have fancy ones that go up to 30% incline and will even decline up to 3%. The past few weekends I have dedicated my Saturday mornings to doing the 7am spin class, followed immediately by a very hilly run on the treadmill, and then a swim.  My goal is usually to do an hour of each in a row, however this generally gets adjusted based on how great or awful I am feeling that day.  Yesterday I only did a 4 mile run because my legs were fried from all the miles on the bike trainer but then did an almost 1.5 mile swim, which is a new distance record for me.

Surprisingly, I have gotten to the point now with swimming that I actually look forward to class and going on my own.  Saturday mornings have become my “quiet time” swim where I can plug in my headphones and tune out the world.  I purposely brick my workouts out of order and swim at the end because I know the pool we be empty and my body will feel refreshed after the beating its taken all morning.  I consider it an active recovery.  Plus, it just seems really inefficient to shower at the beginning and end of your workout.  This way I only need to shower once at the end.  That means I’m saving water and the environment in addition to kicking ass.

I have to say that triathlon training in general has been a life enriching experience.  It’s exposed me to a new sport (swimming) which I now LOVE and continually forces me to live outside of my comfort zone.  I have become not only stronger, but more confident and self assured.  There is nothing like regularly seeing yourself in a sport swimsuit (and letting the public see you in it) to force you to get comfortable in your body.  I’ve gone from a point of being modest (and at times embarrassed) in the locker room to feeling proud of myself every time I put my swim gear on.  I worked my way up from not being able to swim at all to swimming for over an hour straight with minimal rest.  In fact, I can even swim three different strokes now (though I still look… and feel…like I’m drowning on breast stroke… who deemed it a recovery stroke anyway?)  Last week I even got a compliment from Coach M –which I took as high praise considering how hard they are to get from the epitome of swimming perfectionism– that I had a “nice long stroke.”

So instead of seeing a deer in headlights or pile of body imperfections when I suit up, now I see hard earned muscles, confidence, and a smile.  I see someone who is looking forward to her swim and embracing the sport. I can truly say that now I feel most badass when I wear my swimsuit and cap.  It takes more guts to swim than to run- for me at least! That is what I appreciate in the person looking back at me.Image

Which is why I don’t care about the number on the scale or the size of my clothes.  I know my body is healthy and strong. I also know that I am doing my best, and that is all anyone could ever ask of me- including myself.  My favorite pair of workout capris are bright orange with polka dots and they highlight the cellulite dimples in the back of my legs.  Guess what? I don’t care. I still wear them because I love the color.  Plus, I am pretty sure no one else is going to notice, and if they do they should probably be more concerned with their own workout anyway.  I have become aware recently of how much more obvious our imperfections look to us than they do to others, and I am making a conscious choice to not let my insecurities dictate how I feel about myself or the way I look.  When I wear my orange pants I am proud that I am not covering up my flaws.  Instead, I’m saying this is me; and I am confident, strong, and happy with my body.  I am also saying “You should be too.”

Do yourself a favor and love your body today.  Appreciate it for everything it has done for you, and marvel at what it allows you to accomplish.

PS. You still have a few days left to enter for a Free 2014 Spartan Race Entry!  You’ll have a a whole new appreciation of your body after completing one!

A Quick Recap

Life is a song – sing it.

Life is a game – play it.

Life is a challenge – meet it.

Life is a dream – realize it.

Life is a sacrifice – offer it.

Life is love – enjoy it.

-Sai Baba
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Hello All!

A lot has been going on since my last post!  For starters, we found a new home for Ellie through HeavenSent Bulldog Rescue.  The volunteer came to pick her up and take her to her new owner on Saturday.  We were very sorry to give her up, but happy to know she is at least going to a great home where she will be spoiled rotten.  Regardless, it still stung a little when she took off with the volunteer and jumped in her car without even looking back.  It was as if she new she was going to her forever home.  I haven’t cried about it yet today, so I guess that’s progress.

1606769_10151924501192397_1605137012_oIn other (less bittersweet) news, the hubs has made an effort to show his support of my new found love of swimming by surprising me with a water proof ipod!  It always amazes me the things he picks up on when I’m talking to (or at) him… Sometimes I wonder if he even listens (truthfully, most of the time I think he just tunes me out).  However in this case, he happened to pick up on the fact that I had entered a giveaway for one on Swim Bike Mom’s blog.  I told him I had read that ear plugs are recommended for open water swimming and joked that I should just invest in the ipod instead.  I had never in a million years thought he would go out and buy me one!  I haven’t actually had a chance to use it yet, but I am definitely pumped about trying it out.  I think may start with some classical music (to help with the swimming anxiety) but am open for suggestions on a swimming playlist.

On that note, swimming classes have been going fairly well.  I have been swapping back and forth between the beginner and intermediate lanes based on the coaches mood and number of people in the class.  I have basically found that whatever lane I choose will be the wrong one, so I generally will pick the beginner lane to start… being promoted is better on the ego than demoted after all.  😉  Yesterday I also did a 3 hour swim clinic with the Tri Club: same coaches, same freezing pool, with the addition of the Tri Club members and the hubs.  I have to admit it was a little refreshing to watch the hubs struggle with some of the drills… not because I enjoyed watching him suffer, but because my hard work actually gave me an edge over his natural athletic talent for a change!

Beyond swimming, training in general continues… though I will admit I’ve been slacking on the running.  That may 1977169_10152302040113637_772837830_nbe why I gained a couple pounds at the last weigh in…. Or it could have been the pizza, doritos, and brownie sundae I binged on after giving up Ellie…  Regardless, the hubs and I DEMOLISHED our challenge this week for the Fit Challenge of jumping rope 3000 times a piece.  Currently we continue to hover in third place with the last of the challenges now done (GO TEAM RICE!)  Next week will be a repeat of our fit test, and the following week will be our last weigh in- that means we are almost done!  (Happy dance! No more scale!)  While I gained at the last weigh in, the hubs was down to 194 lbs which he was pretty pleased with himself about.  With any luck (and his weight loss), we might just sneak up to second place.

As far as all the other craziness going on recently, my mom has sold her house and bought a new one to downsize.  That has meant I’ve spent a considerable amount of my free time trying to help her clean, pack, and move some of her belongings to my place for temporary storage.  So my spare room is crammed to the ceiling, but luckily that is easily remedied by shutting the door.  As if that weren’t enough going on, I also have been promoted to a management position at work, which essentially means I work more hours for free. 😉

So there you have it: Ellie drama, parents moving, job promotion, new waterproof ipod, and continued training.

Despite all the craziness, I have managed find a few good reads recently which I’ve added below:

How about you? Anything crazy going on in your life?  Any good reads recently?

Confessions of a Newbie Swimmer

“Swimming is a confusing sport, because sometimes you do it for fun, and other times you do it to not die. And when I’m swimming, sometimes I’m not sure which one it is.”

-Demetri Martin
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Some people (ok A LOT of people) say that swimming is the most dangerous part of triathlon.  While it’s true that people who die during triathlon generally do so in the swim, I’m not really sure whether this is because swimming is more dangerous or just because it comes first.  Personally, I’d consider myself far more likely to kill or maim myself during the cycling portion… though I could also see where drowning myself might seem a good alternative to the bike

ImageAnyway, my point is that swimming can be a pretty scary part of triathlon training, especially for people like me who are just learning.  That is why I thought it would be very kind and gracious of me to impart to all the other newbie swimmers everything I’ve learned thus far about the leg of triathlon (statistically) most likely to kill you.  

If you are anything like me, your initial visits to the pool have had you filled with anxiety and dread.  Being unable to breath comfortably during physical activity is not a particularly good time… especially when you are first learning to swim- with no concept of timing your breath or lung capacity to speak of.  What I would recommend in this scenario is to find a swim instructor who is more terrifying than the water.  Faced with the prospect of getting yelled at or publicly humiliated, the water doesn’t actually seem that bad.  However, if this option doesn’t appeal to you, you can also try having a more experienced swimmer or trusted friend come with you for moral support while you get the hang of things.  I would recommend picking someone not prone to mocking or teasing as the sight of you attempting not to drown in a public setting may be too much for even a good friend to resist.

Another method I found useful as a total newb was to inform the lifeguard on duty that I had no idea what I was doing was a new swimmer.  He would direct to me to a lane with a friendly swimmer, and then I would proceed to let EVERYONE the people swimming around me also know that I was new to swimming and welcome to feedback.  This was helpful in a few ways. First, by alerting the life guard and other swimmers that I was new, I let them know I was receptive to advice not only on my swimming, but also the pool etiquette.  In general, people were happy to assist in this capacity.  It also gave the lifeguard a heads up to keep an eye on me and make sure I didn’t drown.

Another tip I would recommend is to take lessons.  If you are really self conscious or don’t know how to swim at all, start with a private lesson.  If you already know how to rotary breath but could use a refresher, consider a program like Masters Swim.  I signed up for Masters Swim not knowing how to swim properly based on some bad advice from a YMCA staff member… much to the displeasure of the night coach.  In the end it turned out ok, but my introduction to swimming likely would have been a better experience had I started with the basics.

swimfamilyThat being said, I cannot speak enough about the benefits of swimming in a group like the Masters Swim program.  I find that my swimming anxiety is dramatically reduced if I am swimming in a class compared to when I am alone.  I also swim better.  I think this is partly because I have other people to pace off and partly because I don’t have time to think about what I’m doing.  Plus, it is a great opportunity to get constructive feedback on how to swim more efficiently and learn drills to improve my stroke.  I can honestly say I have picked up something new in every class, and it has made me significantly more confident about swimming on my own.

Besides that, there is a lot of value in the moral support of other newbie swimmers… especially when you bond closely over being terrified of both swimming and the coach (…mostly the coach).  Before I ever looked forward to swimming, I looked forward to seeing my swim family… including the coach.  She turned out not to be so bad once we got the hang of things and got to know her.. though she is still terrifying.

Having spent the past several months consistently swimming there are also actually a few things I’ve learned for myself.  For starters, regardless of how much I improve, there are still a lot of days I get in the pool and feel like I am drowning more than swimming for most of my workout.  I try to remind myself that every swim can’t be a great swim the same as every run won’t be a great run.  When I have a crappy day in the pool, I find focusing on my form and going slow helps.  I have also discovered that when I am tired and winded it not only helps to slow down,swimwall but also to kick less and really work on finishing my stroke and rotating my shoulders.  The more I push off on the last part of my stroke, the faster I tend to go- surprisingly regardless of how fast or swim or kick.

Back when I first started swimming, I would only go as far as the edge of the shallow end (and inhale about half the pool in the process).  Then with practice I could do the full 25 meters.  I thought it was HUGE progress when I started doing full laps, and now I’ve worked my way up to swimming 100m intervals.  The thing about swimming is if I am consistent, I find I steadily improve.  In the beginning it was by leaps and bounds every time I got in the water.  Now it’s more subtle changes, but I am still continually making progress.

Most triathletes I talk to HATE LOATHE the swim and dread doing it; however, I have actually learned to love swimming.  I have finally gotten to a point where I enjoy it more than I get anxiety about it.  In fact, after a few days out of the water I start to actually miss it. gasp!  It’s a nice break from the pounding and impact that come from running and cross training with the same mental alt-control-delete.

To the people still struggling, I’d say try and stick with it.  If you do it consistently, you will find it gets a lot easier.  You may even grow to like it.  Trust me, if I can get the hang of it than anyone can.  Now if only I could learn to love the cycling… Or find an indoor tri with a spin bike. 😉

Why Would You Do That?

“Happiness comes only when we push our brains and hearts to the farthest reaches of which we are capable.”
-Leo Rosten 

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I have stopped telling people I’m training for a half ironman.  In fact, I have stopped mentioning to people that I want to do tri’s at all.  Why?  Well, frankly, I am tired of people asking “why would you do that?”  The first question in itself is not too bothersome, but the barrage that follows is: “don’t you have to swim?” “isn’t swimming hard?” “aren’t you worried about the swim?” “do you have any experience at that?” “don’t you think you should start with something shorter?” “you know I heard that course was hard”… It goes on and on.

ImageWhile I appreciate the genuine concern, sometimes it makes me want to scream.  OF COURSE I know the course is hard!  It’s a half ironman! That is the whole point!  Why would I expect it to be easy?  Also, I am well aware there is swimming involved; but last time I checked, it was not impossible to learn to swim as an adult.  As far as having experience, if we all waited to have experience at triathlons before ever doing one, I suppose none of us ever would, would we?  Besides, I am an endurance athlete.  My favorite race distance is 13.1 miles.  I ride my bike for hours at a time.  Why on earth would I want to do anything with the word “sprint” in it?  The race would be over before I ever hit my groove.  Plus, I just don’t move that fast.  It’s not my thing, end of story.

People don’t understand this though when you try to explain it, so I’ve stopped trying.  I know they don’t mean to rain on my parade, but I’m still tired of the negativity.  I don’t want to be told I can’t or shouldn’t do something when my heart is already set on it; and I especially don’t want to hear how unhealthy my endurance training lifestyle is from people who drink, smoke, and over eat.  I feel like there is something a little backwards when people chastise me for running long distances, but pat each other on the back for binge drinking and hooking up with random strangers.  

What these people don’t understand, and there is no hope in explaining to them, is the deeper why: The is a reason I push my Imageself through grueling endurance events that goes beyond a new record or shiny bling.  It’s about building inner strength and reminding myself what I’m made of.  I try to pick at least one race a year that is way outside my comfort zone because I don’t ever want to stop challenging myself or pushing my limits.  I want to keep finding things that look impossible and prove to myself they aren’t.  Every event is an opportunity to look fear and doubt in the face and then leave them in the dust.  These events have helped mold my identity and make me feel good about myself.

For me, it’s also a reminder that all pain ends eventually.  Not just on the race course, but in life.  It’s a conditioning exercise in dealing with bad times and crisis.  Anyone can handle life when things are going well, but doing these events gives me that extra faith in myself that I’ll be able to handle whatever else life throws at me as well.  

When I was with my abuser, he made it a point to make me feel like I wasn’t good enough.  He pointed out that I couldn’t handle “any little thing” and regularly pointed out everything he thought was wrong with me.  He truly believed that I was Imageweak and couldn’t handle life.  Doing a half ironman (especially after selling my rings to buy a bike) will be my way of saying “hey pal, you couldn’t have been more wrong about me.”  Even more than that, it addresses those little twinges of doubt that linger even years after the abuse.  That little voice that creeps up and tells you that he may have been right...there’s no better way to silence it than prove it wrong.

At the end of the day, when I am out there in the midst of a race hating life and wanting to quit- that is when I am learning who I am and growing.  That is when I feel most alive. I’m not out there to break any records or compete with anyone else.  I am out there for me.  It’s an investment in becoming the best possible version of myself.  I don’t need cheerleaders at the sidelines or pats on the back, I just need me and the course.

I am ok if people don’t understand the why or think I’m strange.  I’ve never been one to follow the crowd anyhow.  The bottom line is I don’t know how to do anything half assed.  Anything I am going to spend energy on- from my job to my life- I am going to give 100%.  Therefore, if I am going to sign up for an event, it’s going to be the toughest one I can handle.  In this case, it’s a half ironman. After that who knows… maybe a full ironman, and no I probably won’t share that I’m training for it. 😉 

You Don’t Belong Here

“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this.  For the world was built to develop character, and we must learn that the setbacks and grieves which we endure help us in our marching onward.”

-Henry Ford 
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On Wednesday morning I had my very first swimming lesson, and I thought it went pretty well.  I was both nervous and excited about my second class Thursday night, so I made it a point to head out of work early and ensure I got there on time.  As it turned out, I got there a little early so I spent about 30 minutes swimming laps before class.  Well, I thought I was swimming laps, the women in the lane next to me (who, unfortunately for me, happened to be the night coach) thought they were more of an abomination and insult to the sport of swimming.

lifeisfullofThat is at least what I surmised when she pulled me aside before the class even started and suggested I get a refund.  It wasn’t really a suggestion.  She actually told me that they should have made sure I knew how to “rotary breath” before I signed up.  I suppose I could see her point, but her delivery really sucked.  Plus, I had been very honest about my skill level (ie. swimming to avoid drowning)  when I asked about swim classes.  The woman who signed me up was emphatic about this specific class, and told me that I would pick things up more quickly because the class was a mix of beginner and advanced swimmers.  She stressed that beginners were welcome.  This was reiterated by the morning coach who assured me I would not be the only person in class unfamiliar with swim caps, goggles, and lap swimming.  After hearing the same message repeated by the other swimmers, I was really starting to believe them.  “You’re in the right place” they kept telling me.

Now I found myself in my second swimming class being told not to return.  The message was loud and clear: YOU DON’T BELONG HERE!  She suggested I get remedial beginner classes; and then, when the tears started, she told me to come back this morning and she would spend some time with me.  It was really the LAST THING I was interested in doing, but I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction of knowing how deeply I was wounded.

After the huge blow, she proceeded to give me instructions on the workout along with everyone else. YES– she had me stay for the workout after kicking me out!  The other people in the class were super friendly and supportive, which only made me more disappointed that I wasn’t allowed back.  I choked back the tears and sucked it up through each group of drills.  After it was over, I bawled my eyes out in the locker room.   The other women who were in the class did their best to make me feel better.  They told me that the night coach is really tough on everyone; and it was obvious during the session that she did a lot of yelling (…and that the majority of the class was afraid of her).  They encouraged me to stick with it and offered itsnotoverto help with my swimming.

As upset and disappointed as a was, I was more determined than ever.  I certainly was not going to let some biotch tell me I’m not good enough.  I had been swimming all of 2 days at that point, and had already made HUGE gains.  My swimming wasn’t pretty, but I wasn’t sinking either.  I was plowing out laps like it was my job.  I understand that the rotary breathing is important; however, I was clearly willing to practice on my own and told them I would get my husband to help me.  I didn’t agree with her decision to kick me out when there were clearly people in her class struggling more than I was.  I wasn’t the only person not keeping my face in the water, but for some reason I was the only one singled out.

This woman, obviously didn’t know who she was dealing with.  Back in high school I was cut from the track team repeatedly before they finally relented and let me on the team.  They ultimately had no choice because I kept showing up to practice regardless of whether I was on the team or not.  I thought about doing the same with her class, but it wasn’t exactly a friendly learning environment… Plus, I think she’d have a conniption.   In an odd way, the parallel to the start of my running career made me feel slightly better.  I wasn’t good enough for the track team my first time out, yet here I am a week away from my first 50K.  Maybe it’s a sign that the same will be true for swimming.  I won’t just get the hang of it, I’ll become passionate about it.  Granted, there aren’t a lot of coaches out there who admire passion over talent, but I have to say that it’s gotten me a lot further in life than talent ever has.

My point is, this isn’t the first time I have put myself out there to try something new only to have someone tell me I’m not good enough.  I’ve never let anyone else deter me, so I certainly wasn’t going to let this woman.  Instead, I decided I would spend time in the pool everyday, even if it meant after a 13+ hour shift, until I got the hang of the breathing.  It would be my personal F- you to this women for kicking me out.

So I did go and swim after work last night.  I went even though I got out late, got stuck in traffic, and knew I’d only have 30 struggleminutes at best before the pool would close.  I practiced the drills we did in class and tried my best to get comfortable with having my face in the water.  Then this morning I got up early and met Miss-You’re-Not-Good-Enough at the pool.  I had been absolutely dreading it, but it turned out she was much nicer (not nice, but significantly less bitchy) when not teaching a whole class.  It only took 15 minutes with her for me to get the hang of turning my shoulder and breathing properly.  She couldn’t get over how quickly I picked it up and how “beautiful” and “streamlined” I swam once I got it.  She even admitted she was impressed, though the look on her face said it all.  It was quite priceless, actually.

She didn’t invite me back to class, but at least now I know how to swim properly when I practice on my own.  I also have the card of the aquatics director (who tracked me down in the locker room when I was crying).  She told me to touch base with her and we would “work something out”.  I’m not sure if this means swimming with her or in a different class, but I’ll do whatever it takes to get it down.

When I first signed up for swim classes, I just wanted to learn to swim well enough to finish the half ironman.  However, now that I got kicked out of swim class, I’m determined to be the best swimmer I can be.  After spending time with numerous horrible coaches in high school and college and over 5 years with an abusive ex, I’m certainly not going to let one swim coach with a chip on her shoulder bring me down.  I think I have enough experience in dealing with self-esteem bashing jerks to be able to handle her.  In fact, I find that the best method is usually to make them eat their words, and I think I’m already well on my way to doing that. 🙂

Entering New Territory

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life

as by the obstacles which he has overcome.”

-Booker T. Washington 

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             Thank you Man Bicep! Love this one!

Today I entered uncharted territory: I started swim lessons. This was a HUGE step for me, and the final piece in my triathlon training journey.  I had intentionally saved swimming for last because I knew it would be the most difficult for me.  I was so nervous about the class starting that I literally got no sleep.  I was up every hour on the hour and just lied awake most of the night.  I was afraid that my total lack of experience would be an issue and that the swim instructor or other class members would be impatient and mean.  What I found when I arrived was quite the opposite!

ImageThe swim coach assured me that I would not be the only person foreign to lap swimming (as well as swim caps, goggles, etc), and although that was a total lie and I was the ONLY inexperienced person in the class, things still went remarkably well.  The first half of the class I tried to get the hang of putting my face in the water and breathing properly, but I was really struggling- despite the best efforts of the coach to help me.  I just couldn’t get the hang of the rhythm, and found I didn’t have enough time to get air in before putting my face back in the water. I ultimately figured I could either spend my class time working on the breathing or attempt to do the work out .  It seemed more helpful to focus on the workout and practice proper breathing on my own time.  

Once I did give up on putting my face in the water, I was actually able to keep up with the rest of the “slow” group.  I was pleasantly surprised at just how many laps I was able to swim with fairly minimal rest in between. The other swimmers were not bothered by my total newbiness, and that was a huge comfort.  In fact, they were all very supportive, assuring me it would get easier and that I was in the right place.  One swimmer even offered to work with me on the breathing outside of class, which was a super kind gesture.  Even the life guard introduced himself and offered support….which made me wonder just how badly I looked like I was struggling.  I later found out that he was the one who had taught the swimmer who offered to help me how to breath properly a few years earlier.  It appeared I was not the only person picking up swimming as an adult after all.  

Maybe it was the fact that I was so much younger than everyone else that caused everyone to take me under their wing; Imagehowever, I’m noticing that people at the YMCA are like that.  It’s like a little community there with everyone on a first name basis, which is probably why new people stick out like a sore thumb to them.  It’s comforting to be in such a warm, friendly environment when taking on something as anxiety provoking (for me) as swimming.  There is just something about putting my face in the water that makes me tense up and hyperventilate! Yet, I think if I am going to overcome that anxiety and get the hang of swimming properly that the other swimmers are right about me being in the right place.

Being in that pool today, I was pleasantly surprised with myself.  Of course, I was not thrilled about being unable to conquer the breathing, but I was excited that I was able to swim so many laps.  More than that, I was keeping up with people who have a lot more experience at swimming than I do.  Given that I have almost 8 months before the half ironman, I think  hope I should be in good shape.  

ImageIn other riveting news, I also started spin classes today!  It was super fun too!  Adam and I went together, but I don’t think he was quite as enthusiastic as I was.  In fact, I noticed I was the only person smiling through the entire workout, which I don’t completely understand… Doesn’t everyone love endorphins? 😉  By the end of the class, I had covered over 23 miles which is kind of ridiculous even for a bike.  That’s sub 3 minute miles!  Plus, that was on top of my hour of swimming (no rest for the weary there!), 4 mile run (on the dreadmill at 9 min pace), and full leg workout with the trainer.  I think it’s safe to say that I am going to be very sore and hungry tomorrow!  Don’t worry, I did at least take a nap in between my leg workout and the spinning.  🙂

 

Tomorrow it’s back to work, but I am hoping to get out early enough to catch the next swim class afterward… that is if I am still able to move by tomorrow…  Hopefully I will get some decent rest tonight.  If nothing else, at least I get to sleep until 4:30 instead of getting up at 4 for the pool!

My New Home and the Next Step

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
-Lao Tzu 

 

 

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Sadly, I am almost finished with the last of my training sessions.  :’-(  As it worked out, they wrap up just in time for the Bimbler’s Bluff 50K.  I think I can safely say that I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I’m hoping that will be enough to carry me through what I know will be a grueling run.  As an added incentive to hang in there, I have asked the women I am fundraising for to write some notes of encouragement that I can carry with me and read when I’m exhausted and want nothing more than to quit.  More than just having the letters to read, it will mean beyond I can even express in words to have them with me through the day.  It’s a tangible reminder to why I will be there.  Plus, I also feel like it’s a great symbolic gesture to carry them (the women, not the notes) with me on that day to overcome the challenge together. After all, our strength is drawn from our sense of community.  In reality, I think it might be the thrivers who will truly being carrying me through the day and not the other way around… 

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My cool new swimming gear!

Despite all the initial drama with my trainer, I have to admit that he has kind of grown on me… sort of like a little brother who annoys the hell out of you but you love him anyway...  Once we had a chance to hash things out, we were able to build a pretty solid partnership; and I am truly bummed to see it end.  As much as I would love to continue training even on a once weekly basis, between the amount of time I’ll be spending on triathlon training and the need to cut back on expenses, I just don’t think it will be feasible the next few months.  I suppose I will have to resort to kicking my own butt for awhile.  At least it’s something we all know I have experience with.  Plus with all the swimming, biking, and running that is about to commence, I am hoping I won’t lose too much ground in the conditioning department.  Besides, I always have Insanity and P90X to fall back on for cross training… and my trusty pull-up bar. 😉

The positive part about my training ending is I now have the time and funds (well not really, but I’ll make it work) to start swimming.  Up until this point I have only known how to swim to avoid drowning, so I definitely have A LOT to learn… Possibly even more than with cycling. Maybe I should be more scared… Better yet, maybe the swim instructors should be!

However, I am determined and committed. (I would like to cite the fact that I found a swim suit, goggles, and swim cap all in the off season today as proof!) I have been trying to find an affordable place to swim with a flexible pool schedule for quite some time now, and let me tell you it has been no easy task!  Ultimately, we decided that the Greater Waterbury YMCA will be my new home- for at least the next 8 months anyway.  

I picked the Greater Waterbury YMCA over our local one because they have two pools instead of one and a way more flexibleImage lap swim schedule.  In fact, I don’t think there are any hours that they don’t allow lap swimming during the day.  They also have off street parking AND for some reason the membership was cheaper… which makes no sense because it’s all the same organization.  Anyway, now that we joined, we can go to either one so I guess it doesn’t really matter.  Adam had pushed for the YMCA over the other pools I looked at because they offer spin classes (in addition to a multitude of other classes which I’m kind of excited to try out… if I ever have spare time between all my other athletic endeavors).  They also just did a 10 million renovation so the facility itself is really nice, nicer than our current gym actually and with more equipment including bikes!

As sad as I am to close the chapter on my personal training, I am equally excited about taking the next step in my journey to becoming an ironman (or at least half of one)!  I already signed up for swimming lessons and am hoping to take my first one tomorrow after work.  I am happy that my new home is filled with friendly, helpful staff, AND that they have a triathlon club which starts up this winter.  I am really looking forward to taking on this next challenge and making another step in the direction of my goal… I just hope I don’t drown in the process 😉    

Small Victories

“Fall. Stand. Learn. Adapt.” 
― Mike Norton, Fighting For Redemption: Hangambiiki

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This past week I have had a relatively small victory in cycling, but a major personal victory none the less.  After forwarding Adam a list of the top routes to view CT foliage, he finally coerced me into going for a ride with him.  I have to give him credit too, because as of late I have been masterful at coming up with excuses not to ride my bike.  Somehow I thought getting the road bike I fell in love with would make me want to use it at every available chance.  However, after the multiple spills associated with mastering clipless pedals (not sure why they are called “clipless” when you actually have to clip in to them… and risk significant peril in the process…) I have decided I might love my life more without the added anxiety…  Typically, I try to give my scrapes and bruises a chance to start healing before I go out and acquire more.  In this instance, though, it was clear that my incredibly thoughtful hubby was not only making an effort to encourage my to ride, but also an attempt to spend quality time with me.  What girl can’t appreciate that?

Since awake time with my husband is in short commodity these days, I hit the road with him (despite any reservations) andImage we traveled up to Lake Waramaug.  I have to start off by saying that this ride was EXACTLY what I needed.  Despite the fact that the path around the lake was composed of regular streets, it was clear the route was used primarily by pedestrians and cyclists so the traffic was accustomed to sharing the road.  The route itself was slightly over 7 miles and made a perfect loop around the lake with beautiful views of the water and New England landscape the entire way.

It was a good mix of rolling hills and bends which kept things interesting, however the best part was there were very few left turns or intersections.  In fact, when we switched direction on our third lap and traveled on the lake side of the road, there were NO INTERSECTIONS OR LEFT TURNS AT ALL!  It was like I had died and gone to heaven!  Instead of worrying about falling over at a stop light, I was able to focus on my pedaling and going faster.  I even set a new speed record averaging over 15 mph! (sadly, this is super fast for me).  Adam had pointed out to me a while ago that the reason I don’t fatigue quickly (or even after hours) on my bike is that I “cruise” rather than ride.  I was determined to prove to him that it wasn’t true!  So, basically, I pedaled as hard as I could… at least when I wasn’t stuck behind a slow moving truck anyway

I made it a full three laps around and covered over 23 miles.  Adam went ahead and did a fourth for speed… and partially because he is a show off. jk I probably could have ridden longer but I was starving by the third lap and struggling to get my legs to move… the crazy AM workout with the trainer and over 5 miles of running earlier in the day may have had something to do with it as well…  When we did stop finally stop to get something to eat on the way home I think I ended up eating more than Adam I was so hungry! lol

Overall it was a great experience just to get out and actually enjoy a ride and take in the scenery.  Spending time with my handsome hubby was an added bonus!  The best part is I now have a place where I know I can log miles in without anxiety.  Maybe there is hope for me yet!

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Two Ferries (Plus Some Extra) Recap

“Carpe Diem”Image

There are some experiences in your life that can be described as pivotal: defining moments.  Those moments when you step (or plunge) outside your comfort zone and chose to define yourself on your own terms.  Today I feel like I took a huge leap, and delved full on into the world of cycling.

To be honest, from the moment I arrived at the Two Ferries Ride I felt like an outsider… an imposter even.  Here I was surrounded by all these people who live for cycling, while I am trepidatious at best, and utterly terrified at worst.  Adam had assured me that cycling community would be as friendly as the running community, but I believe he stretched the truth slightly.  The people there were not rude or mean, but they certainly were not as friendly or supportive as the average runner.  Rather, they tended to stick in groups and only socialize with the1369251_10151590400327397_1347518894_o people they already knew.  It was like a great big clique and I wasn’t part of it.  Maybe if I had been a part of the shop’s riding group, it would have been different.  Instead, I was there alone with next to no experience.  I almost cried before we even started.

When we did start, I probably road faster than I ever have in my life.  My fear of being left behind drastically outweighed my fear of moving quickly.  I managed to keep up with the back end of the pack up until the 10 mile rest stop, and then I was left in the dust.  I actually was able to follow the markers without trouble and remain calm despite being alone and completely unfamiliar with the area right up until I missed a turn at mile 19.  I had been climbing a hill for quite some time when I realized I had not seen a marker in a while.  I also noticed that I wasn’t seeing any at the intersections and that I must have gone of course.  If that wasn’t enough of a hint, the cyclists flying down the hill from the opposite direction (with plenty of markers on their side of the road) hammered home the point.  I made it all the way to the top of that hill before I started bawling.

I was faced with two options, I could either back track and find the turn I missed, or follow the markers for the route on the other side of the road.  The problem with option 1 was that I already had missed the marker for the turn once, and now it would be on the opposite side of the road and harder to see.  The problem with option 2: I didn’t know whether the markers I found were for the 66 or 100 mile course.  Worst case scenario I figured I could manage the 66 miles, but I certainly did not want to get stuck on the 100 mile route.  Ultimately, I decided it was better to take a longer route I was sure of than gamble on finding the marker I missed. Since all the rides ended up at the Ferry at some point (or even multiple points) in the ride, I figured that even if I ended up on the longest route I could still get back on track once I found the Ferry.

Luckily, my plan worked out.  The markers led me back the direction I was supposed to be traveling, and I was able to pick up the correct path again once I was off the Ferry.  By the end of it I had been on the bike over 3 hours AND only fell once… though I did have several near misses.  (I suppose if you a clumsy person in general that it tends to carry over in cycling as well)  Many… ok most… of the things I was worried about happening actually did: I fell down, I was clumsy, I was slow, I got lost, and I got left by myself. However, I still survived and finished relatively unscathed.

The people who work in the bike shop were actually impressed that I was able to climb to the top of that hill.  They said I get extra credit in doing so and remarked that “a lot” of people had missed the turn and gotten lost.  1079637_10151590400392397_1128471104_nI suppose that made me feel slightly better.  The one thing that I did feel good about was that fact that everyone else was complaining about the hills while I hadn’t struggled on them.  In fact, they were easier than I expected and TREMENDOUSLY easier than the route I take to the gym.  I figured if these experienced cyclists were complaining about the hills, and I didn’t mind them then maybe I’m not such a complete disaster on my bike after all.

I’m not sure that I will ever love cycling (or anything) as much as I love running, but I am hoping that the more time I spend on my bike the more comfortable I will get both with riding and the cycling community.  I draw hope from the fact that I don’t know anymore who just “likes” cycling.  People tend to either be completely obsessed with it passionate about it, or they don’t ride at all.  This leads me to believe that with enough exposure  therapy practice I too can become a cycle enthusiast and actually ride with a sense of enjoyment rather than a fear of death.  There are fleeting moments now when I forget about the peril and actually enjoy the freedom of the road… primarily areas free of winding turns and intersections.

If nothing else, it is my absolute fear of riding that keeps me coming back to it.  I am determined to conquer my fear and I am willing to accept that it may be a long and arduous process.  This ride was a major step to doing just that,

An Epic Week!

“There’s nothing like biting off more than you can chew, and then chewing anyway.”  

~Mark Burnett

Haha Story of my life!!! 🙂

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I’m BAAACCKKK!!!!  And no, I was not away on a honeymoon (Boo I wish!)… Instead I have been working my ass off; now I’m here to tell you all about it!  The past few months I have been basically spending every spare second cramming for my recertification exam (the PANRE).  Prepping for this exam basically involved having to relearn everything from medical school that I don’t use on a regular basis (which is A LOT given that I work in a specialized field).  I was taking it a year early so that if I didn’t pass for any reason I would have time to try again; however this did absolutely nothing to make me feel better.  By the time I actually took the test, I had not slept in over a week- despite taking ambien on a nightly basis.  The exam itself sucked as badly as the initial certifying exam, causing me to leave the testing center with a pit in my stomach.  I didn’t feel confident about the majority of my answer choices (it’s really more of “selective the least awful answer” than “select the best answer choice”).  However, I just got my email confirmation this week that I PASSED!!!!!! That means no more cramming for another 11 years!!!   I can’t even begin to explain the sense of relief.  That was first awesome thing that happened this week.  😀

ImageBut wait! It gets better!  Saturday I took my mountain bike out for a nice long 26+ mile ride which brought me well over my goal of 100 miles biked this summer!  Beyond just being stoked about achieving my goal, I was thrilled that I managed the ride solo.  It was my first long one without Adam AND I did it on a hilly route with lots of busy streets and intersections!  This is HUGE for me!  The first bike ride I took with Adam, I couldn’t even do the downhills.  I was too scared.  Our second bike ride was completely flat and, I was still in a panic and hyperventilating.  Now,  I’m riding difficult routes in trafficwithout freaking out!

Instead, every time I get on that bike I feel strong and empowered.  Even Adam admitted he was impressed with the hills I plow up on my regular rides to the gym.  I can’t believe how far I have come in the past few weeks.  I truly feel like I have conquered a HUGE FEAR, and I am ready to take it to the next level!

Since I reached my 100 mile mark, Adam and I went bike shopping this week.  It turns out I am super short even by bike standards, so we had a hard time finding a shop with any bikes in my size to test ride.  It also turns out we hit the season at a bad time.  All the 2013 models are basically sold out, and the 2014s won’t be available for another few weeks.  This is clearly a huge bummer if you happen to be vertically challenged and looking for a bike sooner rather than later.  After 3 bike shops and several phone calls, I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed.

The first bike shop had nothing in my size.  The second shop was super helpful and had a few I could test ride, but would have to order the bike I wanted in a paint job I didn’t care for.  The third shop had crummy service and wanted to sell me the 2012 version with a better paint scheme for almost the same price as the newer models.  Luckily, REI had the bike I originally fell in love with in my size.  Unluckily, they don’t have a store that they will ship it to in our state. So there I was, stuck with the dilemma of whether it was really worth paying a little extra to get the paint job I really wanted AND have to drive to another state to get it… not to mention pay another shop to have it fitted properly.

While I anguished over the decision, Adam went ahead and ordered me the one I fell Imagein love with.  He said he didn’t want me to settle.  He was afraid if I went with a different bike that I would be disappointed at some point that I didn’t splurge on the one I really wanted.  I can’t help but think of how lucky I am to have him helping me through this process. Despite having to work that night, he shuttled me from bike shop to bike shop and was never anything but supportive about it.  I’m not sure I could have been as patient as he was if the situation was reversed!  He is definitely a keeper!

As far as financing this whole process, that leads me to my last big news.  For the past  several years I have had my first engagement ring and wedding band on consignment.  I put them in a store that belongs to a family friend because I wasn’t sure what to do with them, and I didn’t want to get ripped off.  To be honest, I never liked my original ring set.  In fact, I thought the engagement ring was hideous.  It was everything I said I didn’t want in a ring, but, of course, my ex thought he knew better than me and didn’t care what I liked or wanted.  Up until now, I had never had a good idea of what to do with the money if I sold the rings.  I did know it would have to be for something special.  When I was trying to figure out how to afford a road bike, it just suddenly clicked.

ImageThe reason I took on cycling was to get into triathlons- and the reason for getting into triathlons is to ultimately (someday) do an Ironman.  I could not think of a more fitting way to spend the money than purchase a vehicle to do the impossible.  My ex made it a point to regularly tell me how I never wanted to do anything and couldn’t “handle any little thing”.  I’m sure he would just die if he knew what I was doing with the money from his ring… or he would insist I was just doing it to spite him and take credit. lol  More likely the latter.

The truth is, I am always looking for a new way to challenge myself- physically and mentally.  Ever since I started hearing about the Ironman, it’s been one of those “maybe someday” goals.  Now that I am getting a road bike, that “someday” goal has morphed more into a plan.  Right now, I am focusing on getting comfortable on the bike.  I know I need to ride a lot faster and longer, but I am confident I can get there.  That will be my project for this fall.  In addition, I am working on keeping my running mileage up.  In fact, I did a 15+ mile run to celebrate my 26 mile bike ride on Sunday… at least that’s how far I made it before my groin acted up and I had to call Adam to rescue me from the 7 miles separating me and my car…  In retrospect a 20 mile run may have been ambitious following the bike ride, but I digress…

I know what you are wondering, what about the swimming?  Well, that will be the realImage challenge because I never learned to swim properly- like the whole front crawl face-in-the-water style.  I do, however, happen to know a very good swimmer and trainer who is willing to give me some lessons, so now I have my winter goal set as well: tackle swimming.

Finally, conveniently, this spring their will be a REV 3 Half Ironman just a few hours from our house… SOOOOOO if I accomplish my biking and swimming goals (and manage to stay injury free), I plan on being there.  With all Adam’s talk about family planning and baby making I feel like this is my one shot before I will have to put it off for God knows how long.  THEN, should the heavens smile upon me, and I accomplish this monumental task, we will see about a full Ironman.   Aside from the swimming, I think it’s TOTALLY doable…  lol

So that is my epic week so far.  What makes it even better is I am still on vacation AND Adam and I are going away for the weekend to the Berkshires for some hiking and relaxation!

More than anything, I am so happy to feel like I am on the right path to something.  The amount I got for the rings was exactly the amount I needed for the bike and shoes.  Somehow, I just don’t feel like that’s a coincidence.  If I can come from where I started both mentally and physically and even take on just the Half Ironman, I think it will be a huge accomplishment AND speak volumes to what victims of violence can accomplish when they decide to embrace life and challenge themselves.  The fact that the start of my journey to the Ironman coincides with getting rid of the very last piece of my past is purely poetic to me.

I feel like this song was made for me and thivers everywhere. 🙂