Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Lego Workout

So far, the cycling has been kicking my butt. Running always kicks my butt. The thought of doing the two back-to-back has been daunting, to say the least. In fact, running off the bike might be even scarier to me than the open water swim!!!

This morning I decided it was time to try a "brick" workout, which is triathlon terminology for doing two of the sports consecutively, especially a bike-run combo. Daunted as I was, I started with a very tiny brick, definitely more Lego than cinderblock, if you get what I'm saying.

20-minute bike ride, followed by 20-minute run.

The ride felt good -- I'm getting more comfortable shifting gears, and the overcast sky made for pleasant riding conditions. Towards the end of my 20 minutes, I realized I was going to have to finish my workout heading straight uphill! I live at the top of a pretty steep hill, and thus far I have been avoiding riding up it (in fact I just RAN up it for the first time last week!). In order to get the full effect of running off the bike, I would not be able to spend 5+ minutes walking my bike all the way up the hill, so I had no choice but to ride it. I gritted my teeth, shifted into the lowest gear, and just kept spinning my legs until I finally made it up the hill! Yay!

I parked my bike next to my house and did my little transition: helmet off, fanny pack off (shut up), phone out of fanny pack and quickly switched my workout from bike to run on MapMyFitness, grabbed water bottle from bike, and took off!

Wow...running off the bike feels weird. I expected it to feel weird, and still I was like "Whoa...this is weird!" (I think maybe the adrenaline shut down the part of my brain that thinks of words...)

I felt like I was missing something, and I mean that in two different ways:
1. Having taken off my helmet and fanny pack, I literally felt like I was missing some gear, even though I had the same things in my hands I usually run with (water bottle and phone).
2. My legs felt like they were still supposed to be pedaling something, and going much faster! It was similar to the feeling of walking around in shoes immediately after ice or roller skating -- suddenly you are so much slower and getting much less distance from the same amount of effort.

What I liked about the brick was that my legs were already warm for the run! Even though I usually walk a little to warm up before I run, it still feels like it takes a while for my legs to really get going. Coming right off the bike, I still had to settle into my stride, but it felt very different to settle down from frantic pedaling than to try to power up from a plodding walk.

I did make one mistake. The ride up the hill left me quite out of breath, and I didn't give myself enough time to catch my breath again before I took off on the run. I'm not sure why -- it's not like anyone was timing my transition! I was just in such a hurry to get out there and see how it felt that I didn't bother to make sure I was starting out feeling okay. Since the overall goal of this endeavor is not to die, I need to pay more attention to what my lungs are doing, as breathing is sort of essential to life. Or so I've heard.

Once I got over the general weirdness of how my legs felt, I was able to focus on how tired I felt. OMG, I was exhausted. Somehow I managed to keep up a really good (for me) pace, but it was hard. My thought process throughout went something like this:

"OMG this is so hard. This hurts. I can't do this. This is insane. Why does anyone want to do this on purpose? It's seriously insane!!! I am insane!! But not insane enough. I cannot possibly be this insane. This was a bad idea. A really bad idea. I should not do this. This is insane."

And then it was over, and I was still alive, and my thoughts shifted to this: "I'm done! I did it! Awesome! That wasn't so bad!! But....the race is 5 times as long on the bike and nearly 3 times as long running....there is no way I can do that. No way at all. Maybe in a year, but not in less than 4 weeks. Not possible. Good thing I haven't registered yet -- there is still a way out."

I got home, did a few quick stretches, then grabbed the computer and registered for Iron Girl Columbia. I knew if I didn't register immediately, odds were good I was going to chicken right out.

So there you have it -- I'm officially registered and committed to doing this race. I'm stuck now. I've gone all in. I'm doing a sprint triathlon on August 17th.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

CRAZY: It Begins...

After posting last night, I watched this week's episode of "Extreme Weight Loss," in which the contestant trained for and completed a Half Ironman Triathlon (that's a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run) as part of her weight loss journey. She had already lost a lot of weight at that point, but still carried a hefty 213 lbs for the event. That's less than I weigh now, but not by much! She struggled to complete the race, but ultimately managed to finish within the allotted time. Watching her was both humbling and inspiring!

Then my husband/#1 fan and I had a heart-to-heart about my inner turmoil regarding my current plans. He agrees with all my friends (and thanks for your feedback, by the way!!!) who believe I should follow through with my training and race NOW rather than postponing, and he thinks I should do the sooner race rather than one Candice and I had chosen.

The earlier race is superior to the later one for these reasons:
1. Warmer water = no need for a wetsuit and no freezing to death due to inability to buy a wetsuit at this time.
2. Closer location = no long drive or need for a hotel = less money spent and easier for my family to be there to cheer me on.
3. Familiar location = ability to see and possibly even train on the actual courses = less fear of the unknown.
4. Timing = Race will be over before we get sucked into the chaos of "Back to School" time.
5. More informative website = more user friendly for a first-timer.

There are a few drawbacks, of course:
1. Three weeks sooner = three fewer weeks to train. Duh.
2. Longer swim = more tired for the bike and run.
3. Candice won't be able to be there to cheer me on, which makes me sad. :-(

So I was leaning towards a decision, and then I started thinking about this weekend and needing to shuffle around my workouts to accommodate some plans. On the schedule this morning was a short 30-minute run, but given the amazing cool weather, I decided to make another attempt at a 4-mile run instead.

What an outstanding decision that was! It was a glorious, beautiful morning, and I felt fantastic throughout the whole run. I knew with every step that I would finish the 4 miles. My pace was steady for the first 3 miles, and then I slowed down in the final mile, because most of the that mile was uphill. I even ran up the street (though not the very steepest one) to my house for the first time in years! I finished strong and immediately felt invincible....which is good, because I'm going to need that kind of confidence to carry me through my triathlon training!!

This is still unofficial because I'm not ready to commit yet (though I just learned that the race usually sells out, so I better make up my mind right quick!), but my tentative plan is to participate in the Iron Girl Columbia Sprint Triathlon on August 17, 2014. It's a 0.62 mile swim, 16 mile bike, 3.4 mile run, women only. I've been told it's a really good race, and especially good for first-timers, so I'm excited. And nervous. Nope, more than nervous -- TERRIFIED. But also pumped and motivated and more than just a little bit CRAZY. Let's do this!!!!

P.S. You may have noticed that the race is on the 17th. Today is also the 17th. Yep, I have exactly one month left to train. Yikes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Solo or No-Go?

I'm feeling a little lost today and I need to sort through all the junk in my head. Please bear with me!

Actually I'm not sure I even can sort through it all here, because it would end up being the longest blog post in the history of the internet, and anyone who made it all the way to the end would quickly be looking into whether it's still possible to have crazy people locked up in an asylum!

So here's how this unraveling started: Candice, my partner in crime and much-needed kick in the pants who restarted my triathlon journey this year, might have to drop out due to injuries. I'm praying she will find a way to continue, but I have to face the very real possibility that she can't.

Now, WITH Candice, doing a tri this year is an insane adventure and an opportunity for bonding and deepening our friendship. We both came into this with different emotional baggage, different things to prove, and different obstacles to overcome, but we've been able to learn from and encourage each other. Even though the timing seemed crazy when she first presented the idea, it quickly began to feel right somehow, perhaps even "meant to be," as cheesy as that sounds.

WITHOUT Candice, doing a tri this year is all of the insanity with none of the good stuff that makes it almost make sense.

I could make a rather lengthy list of reasons why I should not be preparing for a triathlon at this moment in time. I've been working on such a list in my head all day, in fact. Some of the top factors are inadequate supplies of time, energy, and money. I could go into detail about each of those, but "longest blog post in history," yadda yadda. In a nutshell, I can think of MANY reasons why I should not proceed with my triathlon plans without Candice, and instead should spend the next year building up my base level of endurance and working through all the other obstacles before actually entering a race.

That conclusion is almost too logical though, so naturally I have to second-guess it and wonder if I'm really just looking for excuses to chicken out and give up on myself rather than follow through with something so challenging. Is that it? Am I just being a big ol' wuss? Do I need to go ahead with the tri ASAP just to prove to myself that I'm NOT a wuss? Aaaaaaand the headgames have begun. I'm a mental case for sure.

I truly don't know what to do. There is an earlier event that I could do without Candice that would solve some (but not all) of my problems, obstacles, fears, and issues, but it creates a few more of its own by being sooner -- I seriously doubt I will be ready in time. So I don't know if that's a reasonable solution. All I know is I need to figure something out soon because I'm cracking up and starting to wonder whether I really want to do a triathlon at all, ever. Maybe my brand of crazy isn't the right kind needed for this sort of thing.

Or maybe it's exactly the right kind. I just don't know.

Monday, July 14, 2014

I Hate Mornings

If you're short on time, you can skip the rest of this post, because the title really says it all. :)

I am not a morning person. I never have been. One time in high school, I threw my alarm clock across the room at my sister when she came in to wake me up. She told our Mom she would NOT be waking me up anymore because it was too dangerous! True story.

In theory, I'd probably function better on a schedule that allowed me to exercise in the evenings, but with a traffic-filled commute and family dinners and activities and FIVE kids to put to bed...that's just not feasible on a regular basis. Right now I really need to work out first thing in the morning (and that's best with the summer weather as well!).

When I got into running in 2010, somehow I gradually trained myself to get up early every day. I remember it getting easier with time. I assumed, incorrectly, that it would be easy to get back into that habit.

Mornings are killing me. My alarm goes off at 6am every day but I almost never get up then. I know it's only going to get hotter outside, and the pool is going to get more crowded, with each minute that I stay in bed. And yet I stay.

Yesterday, I overslept and didn't start my run until nearly 8am. It was already hot and humid out, and I also might have pushed my speed a little too much, and suddenly a 4-mile run turned into 3 miles with some walking towards the end. I thought maybe I'd finally learned my lesson, but this morning I started my swim at, again, 8am. (Luckily it was a slow day at the pool and my timing worked out such that I wasn't battling little old ladies from water aerobics class for the showers afterwards.)

When my workout starts late, I end up getting to work late too, and my whole day is thrown off. Then I have to stay up later to make up work hours and get other stuff done, and then next thing you know, I'm way too tired the next time my alarm goes off at 6am.

I've got to break the cycle somehow. I'm going to start forcing myself to go to bed no later than midnight and hope that makes a difference. I hate mornings and they hate me right back, but somehow I must conquer them!!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Missing the Forest AND the Trees

I'm a detail-oriented person. This can be an asset at work, and when I'm organizing schedules for our big, busy family. However, sometimes those of us who are good at managing the little things can lose sight of the BIG picture.

This blog began when I got the crazy idea in my head that maybe someday I could complete a triathlon. I wanted to record and share my experiences along my journey towards that goal. Granted, I took a few detours from the original path, in the form of two more pregnancies and c-section recoveries, which became significant setbacks in my progress. But the end goal has always remained the triathlon, and now it's just on the horizon! I haven't registered for the event yet, but I'm training for it 100%...this is real. Meanwhile, I have hardly been blogging, and why? Because I've been caught up in the details.

A while back, I decided to give my blog more structure. I love structure, and rules, and guidelines. In theory, I also like to deviate from structure and break rules occasionally, but for some reason that has been difficult for me with this blog. Instead I've been a slave to the structure, feeling trapped by the weekly updates especially. Many weeks I'd fail to get an update written early in the week, but then felt like I couldn't post on any other topic without having done the weekly summary first. In other cases, I'd come up with a good idea for a post but it wouldn't match the "theme" of that day, and so I'd refrain from writing, only to forget or not have the time on the day when the post would be more appropriate.

This problem has persisted week after week, to the point where I have hardly posted at all lately, even as I've had more and more to say! The result of all this insanity is that you, my handful of devoted readers, are missing out on the stuff that probably is the reason you started following me in the first place. This blog isn't "Might As Well Lose Weight" or "Might As Well FAIL At Getting Into Shape." It's "Might As Well TRI" and I'm finally going to do just that!

So enough already. I'm tossing out all the structure. I'm ditching the weekly updates and the daily themes. From now on, I'm just going to post what I want, when I want. Some posts will be short and some longer. Some will have photos though most will not. There may come a time when I want to keep track of various numbers here, but probably on a monthly basis rather than weekly. None of those numbers are my focus right now, so looking at them every week is sort of pointless. I've got a training plan I'm following and that's about all the structure I need right now.

Ahhhh I feel free, like a burden has been lifted. I'm excited to start sharing more with you, because I am really really enjoying triathlon training even though it is thoroughly kicking my butt!! Tomorrow morning I'm going to attempt a 4-mile run, and I haven't run that far in many years. Hoping not to die -- will report back if I succeed. Until then, good night!