Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better...

...because I am a WOMAN!

I rode in the Dallas MS Ride (150 miles of pure pain, let me tell you) and learned a few things along the way:

1. It is amazing how my brain works when in a painful, stressful situation. It goes something like, "I am HOT, I am TIRED and I don't think I can...wait a minute. I survived 56 hours of labor and C-section recovery. MOVE OVER SELF-DEFEAT AND LET'S DO THIS THING." Not that I don't listen to my body, because you bet your saddle I broke up the last 14 miles of Day 1 into three increments and stopped in the shade to drink water until I felt like I could continue. 

2. Rest stops are not for dawdling. This is kinda true for my life right now - the rest stops/distractions in life: TV, interwebs, facebook, they are not a place to park yourself while wondering why the rest of your life is feeling unfulfilled. Much in the same way you can't spend oodles of time at a rest stop and then later wonder why it's taking so long to finish the ride. Get in, fill up your water bottles, grab a cookie and GO!

3. LADIES. LEARN HOW TO CHANGE YOUR OWN FLIPPING FLAT TIRE. Don't wait until you're out on the road to do it. Get the right tools (a tire lever, a spare tube, and a hand-held pump), and practice at home until you're good at it. I changed my friend's tire in a flash and the race helper guy on his motorcycle said that I was one of maybe two women who had changed their flats on their own. COME ON NOW.

What lessons have you learned out on the road?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dusting Off

It's been...a couple years since my epic summer of 3 triathlons. I remember sitting with friends that winter, contemplating signing up for the Danskin in Austin in 2010 and saying, "I really don't want to spend $80 on an entry fee just to wind up pregnant and not be able to do it." 

Good thing I saved myself that $80. I pretty much spent the entirety of 2010 not only growing a person but also becoming familiar with each and every acceptable and unacceptable bathroom for puking pretty much every frequented venue in a 10 mile radius. It started with a stomach bug that New Year's Eve and then I didn't STOP barfing, thanks to my sweet daughter, until early December. I had a C-section and struggled with PPD, which kept me from having any strength or motivation whatsoever to do the MS 150, even though I signed up for a team and have a jersey and everything. Then, I heard about this thing called Stroller Strides and in August of this year decided to give it a go.

I have found a marvelous group of moms and babies and more importantly have found a strength in myself I never knew I could achieve. Turns out three days a week every week of consistent, challenging strength and core training can make a difference in your life. Huh.

Today, I rode in a 35-mile bike ride and noticed an incredible difference between my endurance, strength, and overall performance on a bike compared to the events I've done in the past. I'm in fact throwing around the idea of doing a tri next year just to see how it compares. I had originally believed that just doing the exercises themselves would be enough training for the triathlon, but seriously, doing lunges, working with weight bands, and doing a zillion crunches daily has improved me, physically and mentally. Give it a whirl.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

looking back, looking forward

I wanted to get into triathlons because I wanted to have more of a goal than just "lose weight." I wanted to be fit, I wanted an excuse to be active, to get a new bike, to wear fun spandex. Most importantly, I knew the hubs and I wanted to start a family soon and I wanted to get into something that I would crave while I was growing a person. Don't get me wrong, that desire is REALLY strong - I've already started perusing the 2011 tri circuit, trying to pick at least one to do next year. I'm thinking a Dallas race. In the mean time, I also am getting really excited about other running and biking races along the way. I've signed up for the Dallas MS150 and fully intend on doing a whole mess of 5ks. I'm going to take it slow, I'm going to listen to my body, but WOW am I excited to get back out there :)

On an unexpected note, things I learned from my triathlons have helped me get ready for this crazy race called labor. Did you know there are three stages of labor? Early, Active, forgot the 3rd stage, but I like to call it "gooey." (the part where you push out the placenta. eck.) I can't help it - I associate each with the stages of a triathlon. There's even a "transition" stage in labor! It's really helped me put things into perspective. Like in early labor, the same as in swimming, the goal is to relax, enjoy, and do some work, but be sure to conserve your energy for the next two phases. I'm planning to give birth at a birthing center, where I get to eat and drink the whole time, so we've got a bag packed for the two of us that looks a lot like a tri snack bag: lots of coconut waters and energy bars.

Something else that triathlons helped me frame up mentally is how much the encouragement of others can help you get through each of these stages. More importantly, the influence of my hubs. I remember during the horrendous, brutal last leg of the Austin (olympic distance) Triathlon. K followed me around the track on foot and when I was sobbing and shivering he was right there, fetching me water and saying things like, "This is the strongest you have ever been," and, "I am so proud of you."

I'll let you know how it actually goes, and I am definitely ready to get back out there...January 1st it's so on.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Endings and Beginnings

So, it's no secret that I have a place in my heart for resolutions. I think it's because the New Year and my birthday are so close together so I enjoy taking the time between to reflect on the previous year and decide what I want my life to look like in the coming year. I therefore LOVE resolutions, and don't believe in that whole "I resolve not to make resolutions" stuff. Hogwash. Everyone needs a little reevaluation and resolution, and not just at the New Year, but several times throughout the year. The bonus to resolving at NYE is that you usually get fireworks, sparklers, and a big kiss for bonus :)

In 2008, the year I turned 25 I resolved that I would do the Danskin in Austin that June. I had come to a place in my life where I was nearly done with my master's degree and this looming 25 and I wanted to do something fabulous in what I considered my first real year as a grownup. I was surrounded with all this unfinished business in the way of craft projects, relationships, all kinds of things begun but not brought to fruition. It had started driving me nuts, and I decided I needed a healthy dose of SOMETHING to get me not only in shape, but something I could work toward. It worked. I have learned so much in the last two years about people around me, about what my body is capable of, and that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I ended up doing the Danskin in 2008 and then 3 triathlons in 2009. I can safely say I have the bug.

Whatever your reason is for starting down the path of 5Ks, triathlons, marathons, walking to the end of the block, do whatever you need to do to hold onto that first passion of inspired commitment. I read somewhere that one of the most important things you can do when deciding to do a race is to start telling people you're doing a race. Heck, if you can, sign up and put the money down for it.

And then when you complete your goal, tell us about it and tell us about your journey :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Train away the swim anxiety

The number one reason I hear not to commit to a triathlon is concern for the swim. I’m fortunate enough to have grown up with a lifeguard as a mom and weekend outings to Caddo Lake, which makes me the most confident on the swim than any other leg. For those who have a different story, all you need is to jump in (pardon the pun) and start training to get comfortable in the water.

Start in the pool and practice your freestyle stroke. Remember that a typical Sprint-distance tri only consists of a 600 - 800 meter swim, depending on the race, which lasts about 20 minutes. That’s not long at all. If you get tired as you’re swimming along, you can always roll over on your back and catch your breath, as long as you keep moving forward.

You’ll want to practice a few swims in open water so you get the hang of swimming without a lined lane to follow and a wall to kick off of. For Austinites, Barton Springs is a chilly, but excellent choice. Ian and I figured out that if you go from the ladder near the dam area to the steps just before the diving board area, it’s about 80 meters. Do 10 lengths and you have your half-mile. Open water is an excellent time to start sighting, aka, looking up every third or fourth stroke to make sure you aren’t going to run into anyone. Having other swimmers around is uncomfortable at first, but you get used to it and will find that (at least on race day) people who bump into you are courteous and will move out of the way. After all, they want their own swimming space as much as you do.

I covered gear a little bit in the Attire post, so you should have a basic sport swimming suit. Most races issue swim caps to identify who is in which starting group (wave), so you won’t have to worry about buying one. Amusingly, I have four hot pink caps because they always give that color to the youngest female group. Since I should age out of the babies group this year, I’m hoping to diversify my swim cap colors! Anyway, some people will have big open-water swim goggles, but normal pool goggles have worked fine for me. In fact, a vendor at this year’s Trek Women Tri expo told me that tri gear manufacturers are getting away from the larger, clunkier goggles in favor of more sleek versions. Just find something that fits your face and practice with them.

On race day, the swim will be first (in 99 percent of cases). That’s a good thing for those who want to get it over with. It can be a bad thing since you’ll have overall-race anxiety on top of the swim anxiety. The best way to calm your nerves is to pick a location in your starting wave that works for you. I tend to choose a spot on the edge near the back because like to pace myself; I’m not racing anyone. Many of the swimmers who start off sprinting get worn out in the middle anyway, then I pass them. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I whole-heartedly agree with Christina’s Getting Started tips [see the first entry], especially about gear. Here are a few thoughts to expand on hers. As you remember, she said the most important things are to get a bathing suit, a bike, good running shoes and socks.

The bathing suit part is pretty easy. You’ll want something you can move around in, meaning a “sport” bathing suit that has adequate support. The most obvious choice is a one-piece speedo-type suit or a two-piece sport suit. For later tris, you may consider looking into tri gear like a tri bra (a quick-dry sports bra) or tri tank, and tri shorts (spandex shorts with less padding than bike shorts with a quick-dry feature and side pockets).

For your bike, there are a few things to consider. Since most triathlons will be held on the road, it makes sense to get a road bike. Unless you’re an expert in bike adjustment, you’ll want to go to a bike shop and ask them what size frame you’ll need. (I’m just under 6 feet tall and I ride a 58 cm frame. The seat should be high enough that your leg is nearly fully extended at the base of your pedal stroke.) You don’t need to buy the top-of-the-line bike for a sprint triathlon, but expect to pay between $800 and $1,000 for a new bike. If you’re buying a used bike, make sure to ask the previous owner if it’s ever been in a significant crash. Look all over the frame for signs of damage that could hurt the structural integrity of the frame (these are more than chips in the paint, you’d look for dents in the metal). You'll want to take the used bike to a shop to get adjusted, cleaned and ready to ride. If you're buying new, the bike shop will do all this for you.

Take Christina’s advice on the shoes—go to a shop like RunTex or Rogue Running and let them analyze your stride, how your foot hits the ground, etc., so you know what type of shoe will be best for you.

Socks are easy, too. Get a sport sock that will dry quickly. As you start doing longer distances, you may consider packing two pairs of socks, one for the bike and one for the run, so you have a dry, clean un-blistered foot throughout the whole race.

Getting Started 2 -- Introduction

So you’re thinking about trying triathlons.

As a little background about myself, I never considered myself to be an athlete growing up. When I graduated college, started working an 8-5 job and had some free time on my hands, a good friend encouraged me to sign up for the Danskin Women’s triathlon. We “trained” (quite comically now that I look back at it…more on that later) and I completed my first sprint tri in 2006. That race became a springboard that gave me the confidence to continue getting healthy and challenging my body to be better. Now my race count to date is seven—six sprint-distance triathlons and one olympic-distance triathlon. It’s safe to say that I have the bug.

The hardest leg for me emotionally and physically is the run, and it will probably always be that way. But, I have to say that doing triathlons is much easier than any long-distance running I’ve ever done because it allows you to use different muscle groups throughout the three legs of the race. That’s the beauty of a tri. Don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging to keep moving for such a long period of time, but the feeling you have at the end is indescribable. I’ve cried at every finish line.

As Christina said, there are a few things you need to know as you get started. For searchability reasons, I’m going to start a new post all about attire so it’s easier to go back and find.

For now, congratulations on your decision to be a triathlete and thanks for joining us on our journey, too!