On First TRI

A few weeks ago, I participated in my first triathlon.  It was such an enriching experience!

On race day, my emotions varied from misery in the morning (due to nerves finally hitting me) to elation at the finish line (even though I messed up a few times along the way).

I had trained for it so I was fairly confident that I would finish. The only uncertainty was around the craziness of the mass swim and whether I would fall of my bike (I did not get enough road time on my new hybrid bike thanks to our Wisconsin winters).

Swim

I lucked out!  I was in the last wave! A little less chaos.  Once I started, I glided through the water from buoy to buoy.  I was relaxed and focused. Before I knew it, the shore was within sight!  I felt a huge victory right there!!

Bike

I knew I was going to be one of the slowest but I didn’t expect to be the slowest! ๐Ÿ˜€.  But I didn’t mind…as long as I didn’t fall of my bike. I am sure the lack of clipless pedals and aerobars played into some of the struggles here. I own clipless pedals now. ๐Ÿ˜€

Run

I knew I was home free once I got to the run.  I think I got a little complacent though…I forgot my race belt and had to turn back to get it (adding another 0.5 miles…call it getting my money’s worth ๐Ÿ˜€).

My family cheered me on as I crossed the finish line. Completing the event was rewarding! All the hard work had paid off.  I had overcome so many fears (including falling off my bike). I never gave up.   I had fun with it (even when I messed up).

It was the first time I felt that I could call myself an athlete.  Not an elite  athlete, but an althlete nonetheless!

๐Ÿ˜€

A.K.

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Obsession vs. Determinationย 

Speaking from my (limited) experience, training for an athletic event requires a lot of patience, mental strength and determination.

Patience is needed because results are not always instantaneous.

Mental strength is required to get you past the temporary hurdles

Determination is key because this is what keeps you working towards the final goal through the ups and downs.

Although patience and mental strength are important, determination is critical to sustain the interest and hard work needed to train honestly and to the best of your ability.

So when does determination cross over into the darker side i.e “Obsession”?

While determination has more of a positive undertone, obsession is quite the opposite.

Obsession makes the mind restless.  It is almost equivalent to greed where you want something so badly that it consumes you. You stay in a constant state of discontent…desiring a particular end result.  It prevents you from appreciating genuine progress because your mind is clouded with an unrealistic perception of perfection…which in most cases is nothing but a red herring!

So be patient, strong, determined and train on. Let not the small failures discourage you as those are the building blocks to ultimate success!

๐Ÿ˜€

A.K.

Training for a TRI

For those of you who may not be familiar with the term, TRI refers to a triathlon (swim, bike, run).

Back in May, I completed a marathon…completed being the key word.  

I had trained for about nine months straight to get there.  I certainly had a feeling of “workout burnout” after getting my prized finisher medal.  

Some of the thoughts that went through my head were:

  • “Gosh…I am done with these looong runs!”
  • “I need a break from religiously working out!”
  • “I am not doing anything more than a 10K!”

For the most part I went with those thoughts.  My runs were limited to 3 miles, 4miles at the most two to three times a week.

This summer, every time I went on a bike ride with my husband, I would jokingly talk about prepping for an Ironman, the ultimate distance triathlon (yeah right) just to get him in a panic…much like he experienced when he watched the last 6 miles of my marathon.  There was really no seriousness to that statement though…at the time.

As summer progressed, and with every additional bike ride, I started to think, “Why not?”. In my mind though, the timeframe was somewhat qualified. Specifically, when both the kids  would have “left the nest” (and I would have all the time on my hands to enter into such a crazy endeavor!). So it was about a 7 year plan…or so I thought. ๐Ÿ˜€

When I casually mentioned this to my veteran Ironman teammate, he broke it down for me on how to get there; Sprint triathlon(16 miles) Olympic triathlon(32 miles), half-Ironman(70.3 miles) and Ironman(140.6 miles).  I had no idea that smaller distances were even an option, so this got me a little excited.  After the marathon, I did not really want to train for a super long event, but the Sprint and Olympic seemed like a fair goal. As the saying goes, “The rest was history!”.

Swim

Did I know how to swim?  I guess…enough to move around and not drown.  But definitely not anything that would cut it for a race.  

I had to seek help in this area. But I had to get past some hang ups first:

  •  Expose my weaknesses to a total stranger?  Luckily, I am at a point in life that I am totally comfortable with that.  
  • Go swimming any day of the week or month?  I said to myself, “If I want to be a triathlete, I have to go swimming ‘rain or shine'”!
  • Wear a swimsuit despite my minor body image issues? Too bad so sad…get over it!

I am pretty sure that after the first swim session my trainer must have thought to himself, “My goodness,  I have my work cut out for me!”.  But it has been 6 weeks and we have made a tremendous amount of progress in that area.  

See, you can teach an old ‘dog’ new tricks! ๐Ÿ˜€

Bike

 A few spin classes introduced me to a couple of unused leg muscles.  “Well hello there…have we met before?” I asked.  Now, we are quite familiar with each other.

The best or worst part, depending on your perspective, when training for an athletic event is the investment in “stuff”.  What stuff you ask?  I had a 20 year old department store mountain bike that I needed to replace. To put that into context for the young ‘uns…I bought the bike at a time when smartphones did not exist and digital cameras hadn’t taken off yet…you had to use ‘film’!  I needed a lighter weight bike that would not make me feel like I was doing resistance training every time I rode it.  I got one that had thinner wheels and a different braking system. 

The first step was to overcome the fear of falling off the bike.  It took me a few weeks to get used to its dynamics, but I finally got to a point where I did not fear climbing the bike (yes I can be wimpy at times).

Run

I have run a whole “wonderful” marathon.  Old hat right?  Not really…unless running like a turtle is an option (okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration).  I really wanted some guidance in this area.

In addition to the swimming, my trainer and I work on strength training.  That doesn’t just mean lifting a bunch of weights (which used to be my definition strength training prior to working with him). Of all the types of strength training we do, my favorite is the ‘Box jump’!  It actually makes me feel like an athlete. ๐Ÿ˜€. The result of the strength training though has been faster run times (yay!), better swim endurance and more muscle tone (of course).

So you could say, there’s no turning back now.

I will try to triumph at the TRI but more importantly, I will enjoy the journey!

๐Ÿ˜€

A.K.

From 2 to 26.2

When I completed my half marathon last September, the first words out of my mouth were, “I am so done!  I have no desire to do this ever again!”

Two days later, when I had mostly recovered, I started to think about whether I should in fact stop there.  When I did some research, I found that the maximum mileage for marathon training was 20 miles…only 7 miles more than a half marathon!  How could I resist the tempation then?

So I set a reasonable time frame and started training. I completed the training in four months but I had to wait for three months for a more popular marathon (and better weather).  The wait was the hardest but it did give me a chance to fine tune a few things which I think were huge factors for my success: 

  • Dedicated weight training to put let stress on the knees and joints, and to help with speed.
  • Pacing on long runs to avoid the ‘hit the wall’ scenario towards the 20 mile mark.
  • Race day pacing strategy models built on an Excel spreadsheet…I called the models ‘Optimistic’, ‘Conservative’ and ‘Severe Tank’! ๐Ÿ˜€. Believe me, this helped my mental game immensely on Race day.  It helped  me understand how much I could afford to slow down and still finish on time.

After a long three months, Race day came along.  The week leading up to it was the most stressful!  I think it was a combination of things:

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Fear of the known
  • Fear of failure 
  • Fear of unfavorable weather 
  • Did I say fear of failure? ? ๐Ÿ˜€

The course was structured as a loop which resulted in a few mind games.  When I was on mile 14, I saw the elite athletes returning on what was about mile 24!  This made me question whether I even belonged there at all.  It made me feel like I was not made to do this.  It made me wonder why I was putting my body through this.  But I had to put all those doubts aside…I had to get to mile 26…even if it took me twice the time of the elite athlete. 

Four hours into the marathon, most people disappeared, including some of the cheerleaders and volunteers.  This again made me question why I was doing this. It drove home the point that marathons should be completed sooner than what it was going to take me to do it.  Once again, I had to remind myself that my only mission that day, was to get to mile 26.  

After fighting with strong head winds and a lot of self doubt, I willed myself across the finish line! 

It took me six grueling hours!  Interestingly enough, my last mile was my fastest mile.  I wasn’t particularly proud of my time, but I was just happy that I finished! 

The journey that started with a 2 mile training run has finally come to 26.2 end!!!!


๐Ÿ˜€

A.K.

It’s a beautiful day

In the voice of Bono from U2, “Don’t let it slip away…”

I guess my interpretation of Bono’s words would be that the good moments should be acknowledged (in your head) before that momentary joy passes.  

Sometimes we hang on to those moments as a way of defining who we are…but in reality it is nothing more than a moment in our life.  Who we are is defined by what we do every day.  Some days, we will miss the mark but we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves if we have the intent to reel ourselves back in. Some days, we will exceed our own expectations of ourselves but that doesn’t mean we have graduated to sainthood…we are just taking a step in the right direction.  Staying grounded is key.

So why was it a beautiful day?

  • I finally had a chance to go on a Nature walk and take some Fall photos.

  

   
    
 

  •   I finally met the goal my son set for me when I was training for a half marathon i.e. A sub-10 minute mile!!! I never thought I could do this.

  

  • I enjoyed every bite of my lunch…Ethiopian food. Hits the spot for sure!

  

It filled me with joy. It filled me with happiness.  It was a beautiful day.

A.K.

From Start to Finish

  
I finally get to conclude the Half marathon training section of my blog.  ๐Ÿ˜€

It was a very educational journey.  I learned a lot about myself. It made me stonger…both physically and mentally.  It tested my level of determination. It made me believe in myself. 

The few days leading into the Brewers Race day, life threw a slight curveball (no pun intended) my way.  One of my kids generously brought home a cold virus from school.  ๐Ÿ˜€ Unfortunately, I fell victim to it.  I felt stuffy and miserable for two days.  With only one day left before Race day, it was time to take matters into my hands!  

I used all the home remedies possible to beat the cold:

  • Fresh fruit juice loaded with Vitamin C
  • Lots of Ginger Green tea
  • Black pepper concoction 
  • Turmeric 
  • Eucalyptus steam treatment 

Luckily, the strategy paid off!

When I woke up on Race day I didn’t feel quite as miserable but I knew I would have to be extra cautious and pace myself. 

The nerves prior to start time was probably the worst of it.  This was the first time in my life that I was talking to myself saying,”You can do this!”  I said these words many times on the route.  Along with Imagine Dragons, U2, those words got me through!

When I was approaching Mile 12, I knew that I would see my family soon and my pace for that mile went up by one and a half minutes!  I knew the end was near…I was going to make it!

The smiles from my family and the hugs and praises were actually more rewarding than the physical act of crossing the Finish line. ๐Ÿ˜€

It was a good day!

  
A.K.

Penultimate celebrationย 

My half marathon training is almost done.  There are just two weeks left before ‘Race day’!

Since I believe that you should celebrate every little victory I would like to share my milestone with you.

Yesterday, I managed to run 12 miles!  The most exciting part about is that I completed the maximum mileage on the plan.  After that, it is straight on to the 13.1 miles on ‘Race day’.

I can finally say that I have a little more confidence in myself and that I can actually do it!  But I will remain grounded and take things a day at a time.

There have been ups and downs in this journey; physical, emotional and mental.  I realize now that it is this moment that matters now.  I have come a long way from being exhausted only after 2.5 miles!

The lesson here is to persist and move towards the goal.

Through this journey, I have learned a few things:

  • Start slow…lisen to your body
  • Reading too many running articles can boggle the mind!
  • If you feel your heart pounding too hard, slow down!
  • If you feel overly tired, get your iron levels checked.
  • Training for a half marathon is time consuming 
  • Plan for breaks in the schedule…life sometimes gets in the way
  • Celebrate every milestone…life is short!

A.K.

I would like to take a moment to mention my two colleagues that were training for the Ironman event in Madison which happens this weekend. They were riding their bikes when a car crashed into them. 


May their souls rest in peace.