Monthly Archives: June 2013
I’m considering it a gift from the triathlon gods (Somehow I blame the Greek god for me being signed up for this ridiculous event) that the pool is closed for a week. At first I freaked out – a bump in my nice neat little training calendar? Crap! Then I realized that maybe I should take it as a sign that I need to take a step back, breathe- and focus on some positives for a while. So I’m doing just that.
Aside from my constant freak outs/nightmares about the swimming portion, my training has been going pretty well. It’s crazy to me that just a few months ago I was afraid to wobble down my street on the bike, and suddenly I’m busting out 8 mile bike rides before I’ve even had breakfast. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading books and articles, and watching triathlon YouTube videos (Note to self: do NOT Google “Triathlons gone bad”. You will just give yourself an ulcer) so that I have some kind of idea of what to expect on race day. There have been a whole lot of “Who am I again?” moments for sure lately because I certainly don’t recognize my life anymore.
In other exciting news I began “coaching” a beginners running group through my training studio. I can’t even begin to tell you how proud of myself I am. A year ago to the date I was just bringing home my first pair of running shoes. Fast forward 366 days- and suddenly I’m teaching a group of people how to run…How did THAT happen? I am no expert, but I feel 100% confident in being able to say “Yes this sucks and it takes a lot of work, but if you want it bad enough and you push through it- the feeling is incredible.”
A few weeks ago I participated in the Ruckus Run, which is one of those muddy obstacle races. It just so happened to take place at the same location where the Diva Dash was (My first “5k”, if you can call it that because it was also an obstacle course race). It was a pretty surreal feeling to be back there roughly a year later, running the same trails (30ish pounds lighter makes a HECK of a difference) and discovering just how much more I was capable of. I was scaling cargo nets and hoisting myself over barricades like it’s part of my daily routine. If I had done this same race last year I probably would have sat in the mud and cried.
I see changes in myself every single day that make me stop and realize that even on the days where I seem stuck and not where I need to be- things are still happening. When I knew the pool was going to be closed for the week, I spent a wild Friday night getting in a little more practice. (You haven’t seen calm water until you’ve been to a community pool on a Friday night!). In preparation for a rather hilly 5 mile race this weekend I took it upon myself to spend a night torturing myself on the hills. The difference between who I was last summer and who I am now is that it’s not something I feel like I HAVE to do- but what I WANT to do. I want to try hard. I want to get better. I want to get faster. I want to be stronger. I’m no where close to the person that I want to become but when I stop and take a look back, I have certainly come a long, long way.
As of today, there are exactly thirty two days until T-Day. One month and two days. (You’d think I have a countdown going or something?). This event that has been consuming brain space since November is suddenly becoming very, very real.
With the triathlon getting closer and closer- I have been a little training machine. I bike, I swim, I run- sometimes all in the same day. My legs are getting pretty used to brick workouts, I’ve gotten over my fear of cars while riding my bike (I still can’t take my eyes off the road but baby steps here), and even my swimming has gotten stronger. The first night that I swam 28 laps without stopping I finished and immediately hugged my friend shrieking. Maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel after all.
And then- I had a bad swim workout. Terrible in fact. The pool was at max capacity, and therefore the water was choppier than a whale watch during a hurricane. I couldn’t go more than a lap without swallowing a mouthful of pool, my nose was burning, and I had to keep picking up my head and therefore disrupting my groove.
For anyone just looking to get in a few laps for exercise you could blow it off and move on with your life. Except that on July 21st I will not be in a clear, calm lane of a pool. I will be in the middle of a lake that I cannot even pronounce, with god knows how many other women all trying to get to the same place I am. There’s going to be feet in my face, water up my nose (And it won’t even be chlorinated-EW), and no ends of the pool to latch onto for support. So not only was it a bad night at the pool- but a reality that I have to face pretty damn soon.
I held back my tears until I got in the car. The “What the HELL made you think you can do this?” feeling immediately came flooding back, and the “What-Ifs” started up. What if I panic in the middle of the lake? What if I get tired and can’t keep going? What if I can’t adjust to swimming in open water after being in the pool for so many months? I don’t know if it was what had happened in the pool, or the reality that the day is approaching so quickly, but the more I started questioning everything, the more and more I started to panic.
After talking things out with the two people who calm me down most, I took a hot shower and pretty much fell asleep instantly. I didn’t wake up until my alarm went off the next morning, and groggily threw on my workout clothes and headed out on the bike. The last thing I really wanted to do was anything triathlon related.
Since I can’t use my headphones on the bike it’s a good time to think. And it seems that whenever I’m running, biking, or swimming these days, all I do is think about the upcoming day -so it was only natural that was where my brain went. As scary as this all is, I’ve got to spend the next month training myself mentally as much as I have been physically. If my brain can’t get over the fear- how is my body ever going to be able to handle the physical challenge of it all?
Scary isn’t always a bad thing, for scary means that you are pushing yourself to try something new. Scary means you are stepping outside your comfort zone. Scary means that you are challenging yourself in ways you never thought possible. Scary means that you are learning. Scary means that you are growing as a person. Scary means that you are doing something to be proud of. And if I want those things as badly as I do, I’ve got to find a way to overcome the scary.
I DID IT! I DID IT! I DID IT! After a slow and steady 10 months of 5Ks, I am proud to report that I have finally graduated. My diploma?
I was really, really nervous going into the race. Like “Hi- my name is Kathleen and this is my first time running” nervous. My 6 mile training run last Saturday (Who expects a heat wave the first weekend of June in Massachusetts?) did not go any which way of what I hoped it would- so there was a pretty big question mark hovering over my results.
All the runners started out together, and for the first mile my nerves calmed down. My friends were around, I was tripping over strollers and kids…it felt just like any other race. And then I saw where the road parted: an arrow pointing one way for the 5K, and another for the 10K. My brain was quick to say “5K! Stay to the left! It’s easier! It’s safer!” for the 5K route was normal, it’s what I know I can do, it’s staying in my comfort zone. I looked over and gave a little wave to everyone going the other way, took a deep breath, and headed towards the 10K sign. No turning back now.
Miles 1-3 were pretty easy, they were the miles that made me think “YAY! I love running!” The fun ended somewhere between 3 and 4 with our first big hill. Luckily I was with one of my favorite running buddies and side by side we dug in and made it to the top. I was gasping for air and trying not to psych myself out, and I remember being very proud of myself for getting my breathing back under control and my heart rate down. We had a countdown going for every mile that we passed, and when I finally saw the sign for Mile 5 I gave it a a big thumbs up and wanted to scream with excitement. This could ACTUALLY happen, I could ACTUALLY make it. I mean, what’s 1 more mile when you’ve just run 5- right?
Unfortunately that one mile was the same route that I had fallen apart with during my race back in April. I saw that miserable hill ahead of me and thought “Sorry, not today.” Determined not to let it win me over again I pushed up the hill and just when I needed her, my trainer jumped in alongside me. We rounded the corner and when I saw my fiancee standing there- I knew I had made it. It’s amazing how much energy you can suddenly round up when the finish line is in sight. Crossing that finish line was like reliving my first race. I remember looking up just in time to smile at the camera, for I knew I wanted to remember this moment.
By the time I went to bed that night my face hurt from smiling- I just couldn’t have been prouder of what I had accomplished. Proud that I only decided to train for this a month ago. Proud that I just had completely doubled my race mileage. Proud that I didn’t walk up either of those hills. Proud that I spent a race not worrying about my time, but just enjoying what I was doing. Proud that I was even out there running in the first place. We spend so much of our lives beating ourselves up for what we should have and could have done that when you actually take the time to stop and be proud of yourself- it’s an indescribable feeling.
Oh and the best part of my first 10K? Automatic PR, baby 🙂
Most people look at summertime as a time to relax and slow down the pace: it’s when your schedule is less rigid and you leave time for things like sunday afternoon bbqs, ice cream and lazy beach days.
That is of course, unless you have a hefty summer “to do list”: one which includes a progression from 5K to 7 miles, finishing your first triathlon, and an overall “half ass to bad ass” transformation. In that case, you make time for brick workouts, for swimming, for stretching, for hydrating, for learning.
In that case… you train your ass off.
Let me introduce you to my new summer schedule:
It’s really not THAT dramatic of a difference what I’ve been doing recently, but gone are the days when I could just go for a run on Wednesday instead of Thursday. Every day has a purpose, each workout is intentionally planned. I’m down to just one rest day a week (as opposed to the two I’ve had prior to this). And I thoroughly look forward to it.
After the last few months of getting my feet wet (quite literally), from learning survival skills in my swim class to finally acquiring a bike, it is now time to put all of these things together. After what seems like decades of throwing around the phrase”Brick Workout” (I was so proud of myself for learning that one on my own!) I finally got to experience it for myself. A 30 minute bike ride and 2 mile run? Child’s play. That is until I actually got off my bike and started to run. I quickly realized- it’s a lot more fun to SAY the phrase than it is to do it. Did I take a wrong turn and ride straight into my neighbor’s swimming pool of Molasses? Did my legs become so muscular that they actually turned to stone? It certainly felt like one of the two. After what seemed like the hardest two miles I’ve ever run I huffed and puffed back to my bike and was pleasantly surprised to discover that my miles were both still under 9 minutes. Apparently the pool of Molasses was all in my head.
I feel like having this training schedule has calmed my nerves (somewhat). I can follow the progression on paper, and when it’s broken down day by day it doesn’t seem as overwhelming. In my mind, if I follow the plan exactly as it’s written I will survive…I will be the success story that I so desperately want to be. (Shh- Just go with it.). And so every day I wake up and do what’s written in the “master plan”, and every night I cross it off. Scary because that means I am one day closer, but also comforting that I am one day more confident. I thank my lucky stars that I am fortunate enough to have such an amazing trainer who acts as my brain for all of this- otherwise I’d never know where to start (Who am I kidding- I wouldn’t be “starting” in the first place).
And so this will be how I spend my summer: swimming, biking, brick-ing (?), training, running, racing. And also bitching and whining, because let’s face it– that’s who I am. But as much as I complain, sigh, and roll my eyes- the truth is I’ve never wanted anything so badly. I want to prove to myself and to everyone else that I actually can do this. And WILL do this. And I know that in the end that will push me across the finish line just as much as what’s written on the calendar.