Tag Archives: triathlon

All I wanted to do was go to the pool.

Subtitled, a conversation with myself.

Listen, self. All I wanted to do was go to the pool, maybe get a few laps in because it was a gorgeous day.

I didn’t need you to start talking.

“Man, this is the easiest first long swim of the season that you’ve had in years. You’re not choking, you’re not clinging to the side, you haven’t had to do a resting stroke for a lap yet.”

Great. This will make that sprint triathlon I’m registered for a piece of cake.

“What is the swim for that, like, 300? You’ve done that already. See, you’re finishing up your tenth lap right now.”

Yeah, but my knee is totally messed up still whenever I try to run.

“That’s temporary...There is THREE MONTHS between now and October.”

Lalalalala I can’t hear you.

“You’re on your fifteenth lap right now! You’re going to do twenty like it’s nothing. You could definitely be ready for an October 1 race.”

The last international distance one was so much work and so exhausting.

“You were growing a whole other person. Think how easy it will be when you aren’t pregnant!”

I have a child. I don’t have time to train for a race that long.

“SHE LOVES THE BICYCLE.”

Let’s just…let’s just see how the summer goes. If I’m comfortably swimming 30 laps by the end of the summer, we’ll talk about signing up.

“That’s all I’m asking.”

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2016 – Goals

I do believe in new year’s resolutions.  A new year’s resolution in 2007 started me running and down the path to losing 30lbs.  It led to me discovering all kinds of wonderful things about myself.  A resolution in 2011 to Get a Job led me to two fantastic opportunities that paved the way to better things later.  In 2012 my resolution was to Get A Better Job.  In 2014 my resolution was to Have a Baby and Do an Olympic Distance Triathlon.

So, right now I’m still stubbornly at around the weight I was post-delivery.  So my goal is to kick the baby weight, now that I’m done nursing. I’m signed up for another session of Fit 4 Mom’s Body Back boot camp, which is awesome and includes a meal plan and journaling and feedback on your food journal.

I signed up for a half marathon and a sprint distance triathlon. I signed up for a training plan for the half marathon and I have high hopes of doing the local Masters swim class this summer.

My other main goal is to simply my life. To spend more weekends at home.  To say no more.  We have a toddler now, and our life needs to be more about making sure she is enjoying herself and getting to do things that suit her and challenge her.  None of us is at our best when she is running around a brewery and getting stuck to the floor and my husband is trying to chug a flight of samplers and I’m chasing down the waitress with my credit card to get the check paid ASAP.  We have a few big trips planned, but we have a lot of weekends at home.  We built a deck. We joined our local science museum.  The good thing is, it becomes easier to say no when your child is less portable.  Our daughter has needs.  She wants our attention.  She does not want to linger at a bar for cocktails.  She isn’t happy to sleep in her carrier or nurse at the table anymore.  And people don’t invite you out as much after they see an epic meltdown.  (My in-laws had asked if we’d like to go out to dinner tonight, and we passed, and once they saw our kid have an epic meltdown over the mere existence of her Ikea play tent, they understood why we had opted for takeout.)

Anyone else make goals? Setting limits for themselves this year? What are you going to make happen?

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Pregnant Triathlete, Part II

I just finished my second triathlon of this pregnancy, and man, was it harder than the first.  I did the first at the very beginning of my second trimester, and my second at the very beginning of my third.  I hit 28 weeks on Friday, and the race was Sunday.  

I did this race last year, and it’s a fantastic race.  (Druid Hill Park Sprint Tri) So I knew when I signed up (before the January 1 price increase) that even if I was pregnant, I would probably hopefully maybe be able to handle it, as long as I was having a healthy pregnancy, which I fortunately am.  It’s a 300 yard pool swim, an 8 mile bike course, and a 3.1 mile run.  The run is completely flat, around a lake.  The bike course is challenging and hilly.  The swim is in a pool, which actually presents it’s own challenges but does not feel as endless as an open water swim of the same distance.  

When registering for a pool swim, it’s important to gauge your speed accurately.  I was generous with my time and put 2:30 for my 100m swim time.  Based on what my pace has been at the gym lately, I was spot on.  Last year I put 2:00, which was also fairly accurate.  I was passed by a couple of people but I also passed a few folks.  If you are pregnant, you should probably adjust your swim time down a bit – even though swimming is recommended for pregnant women, the reduced lung capacity and general lumbery-ness slows you down.  

I rode my Canondale Quick 3 for the bike course.  My normal road bike is a Giant Avail, but my sister, who did the race with me, has had custody of that since May.  I stopped riding my Canondale to work about a month ago (more on that later), because it was getting too challenging to swing my leg up over the rack to ride to work.  I was concerned about riding it for the race because when I’ve done long rides recently, the angle I have to sit at presses directly on my bladder.  The seat, which is normally very comfortable, was also uncomfortable on my SBR a few weeks ago.  I asked my husband to swap out the seat for a wider one, which helped considerably.  I would recommend a comfort saddle like this one for anyone who is cycling during pregnancy.  (I don’t actually have that one but it looks a lot like the one I do have and it’s nice.)  If you still have saddle discomfort, consider slightly tilting the nose down.

Like I said, the course was hilly.  I did not train hard enough for the hills.  My lungs were working at their capacity and I was having braxton hicks contractions on the steep uphills.  I coasted as much as I could on the downhills to give myself a break, and I didn’t push myself.  One guy that passed me kept cheering me on, which was lovely and was the extra push I needed to finish the bike course.  

The run course was where I felt the crappiest, at least for the first half.  I wore my camelbak hydration pack but forgot to bodyglide my arms.  So of course I started to experience chafing from my arms pumping against the wet straps.  I knew from my run last weekend that following my 2 min run 1 min walk pattern was going to be hard.  So I switched to a 1 min run, 1 min walk pattern.  Even that was too strenuous for the first mile and change – I was still having Braxton Hicks contractions, I was getting round ligament pain, and the chafing on my arms was really burning.  I stopped and walked for about five minutes.  Everytime I tried to run again, something hurt.  So I had a pack of Stinger gels and walked as fast as I could.  At the end of Mile 1, I saw my husband and brother in law on the course and handed off my Camelbak.  Once I did that, I was able to run again – I’m not sure whether it corrected my posture or just not chafing was such a relief, but at that point I picked up and stuck with the 1 min run / 1 min walk intervals.  Everyone was super encouraging and nice to me, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to say to total strangers when they say, “you are awesome!” So usually I just said “so are you!” or something else like that.  

As I got to the end, I could see where the chute was to the finish, so I took my walk break and gave the baby a quick pep-talk.  We were going to walk until we saw the sign for the chute, and then we were going to sprint.  I did not think this was actually going to work, but it did, and we were able to come flying into the finish line, which I’m pretty proud of – usually I’m so spent from races that I have nothing left at the finish line, but the advantage of being conservative on this one was that I had plenty of legs left, even if I didn’t really have the lung capacity.  Also, the finish was downhill. That helped.  A lot of people congratulated me after the race and asked how I was feeling and commented on how great it was that I was out there.  

I also got to hang out with my tri club for a little bit, which was really nice.  My husband usually crews me for races but I feel like being in the club will make it easier next year when I have to go by myself and leave him at home with the kiddo.  Everyone in the club is really nice and super-supportive.  

My time last year was 1:16:25.  My time this year was closer to 1:35:37. I’m okay with that.  I felt a little uncomfortable with the attention I was getting (I wasn’t even the only pregnant athlete there – I overheard another girl saying she was 16 weeks), because I didn’t sign up for this race because I felt like I wanted to prove anything.  I really just wanted to do it, and I’ll admit that a part of me was curious if I could do it.  But it wasn’t like anyone told me I couldn’t and I needed to prove them wrong.  I will also say that I did not notice any judgmental looks, comments, or implications.  

What I wore: 

– De Soto Carrera Loose Top with Drawstring Waist – I ordered this top before my international tri, and I was so happy with it’s performance, even though it was snugger than I’d thought it would be and I knew I couldn’t wear it for this race, and when I went to review it I realized that De Soto had accidentally shipped me the Sprinter Top and I hadn’t realized it when I received it. I sent them a sheepish email asking if it was at all possible to exchange a used tri top for the one I had wanted and they shipped me the Carrera top right away.  The Medium accommodated the belly really well and also accommodated my increased chest, and although I probably would have been more comfortable in a Large, I will be able to wear the medium post-pregnancy as well.  A+, would highly recommend to any pregnant athlete looking for a good workout top.  

– Under Armour Compression Shorts (5″) – Last weekend, getting pretty desperate for something made of moisture wicking fabric to wear for this race, I hit the Under Armour Outlet. I really wanted these shorts in the longer 7″ version, but they only had the 5″. I bought them in a large, and because the waistband is wide and pretty flexible it was able to fit up and over my belly.  However, when I test rode them yesterday, they rode up quite a bit and so I needed to add gripper elastic to the bottom.  (I ordered 2 yards of Gripper Elastic from Quest Fabrics a month ago to add to my running skirt.)  It was a quick project and made a world of difference – my shorts stayed put and didn’t ride up, bunch, or chafe, and they were long enough to protect my thighs from my bike seat.  

Ultimate Maternity Belt – I’m a pretty comfortable person doing what I need when I need to, but even I was kind of embarassed to be pulling on my support belt before the bike course. However, I can’t run without it, so I sucked it up and put it on.  It stayed put and helped keep things in place for the run.  I actually have mixed feelings on whether it’s that helpful for the bike.  

Tri

 

And yes, I went home and took a nap.  

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Pregnancy and Triathlon Training (Part I)

Going into triathlon training was harder than going into half marathon training. I was training for a distance I had never done before.  I signed up for the race because I wanted something to distract me from what I anticipated being a roller coaster of TTC.  Well, I signed up for the race because I wanted to do an International Distance Triathlon.  The fact that I knew it was going to be timed with a possible pregnancy was a minor concern, but I did some googling and it turns out that other women have done tris while pregnant, and I really wanted to do a race. So I signed up.

I started training in January because I wanted to build up a base before getting pregnant. So I pushed myself really hard to follow my training schedule up through the end of February, when I first found out.  Also, I knew that the doctor’s advice would be, “as long as you were doing it before you were pregnant, you can continue”.  So I wanted to be able to do all of the distances for my race before I was actually pregnant.  After I found out, I pushed myself really hard to keep training because other than a bit of nausea, I didn’t feel that different.  Then, around 6 weeks, on my way to the pool in the morning, I got off the bus and puked all over the sidewalk.  It was probably the most upsetting thing that happened to me in my early pregnancy, just because it came out of NOWHERE – I had been fine that morning – and because it was so sudden and so embarrassing.  I wondered if I should skip my swim until I felt better, but I decided to go with it – and it made me feel better.

I cut back on spin class because I was concerned about overheating in the tiny, HOT, cycle studio at the gym, and I didn’t want to tell the instructor yet that I was pregnant.  I did spin on my own and fortunately once it warmed up I was able to ride outside.  I also continued to bike commute (more on that in a later post), so it wasn’t like I was spending no time on a bike.

I kept up my running as part of my half marathon training, and after the half, I cut back on my long runs and ran about 4-6 miles on the weekends and 2-3 miles during the week.  I was lucky to mostly avoid the being super-duper-exhausted that a lot of women report, and was able to make it to the gym at least every other day.  I don’t think, after week 7 or 8, I ever had a full 2SBR week.  I tried to just do the best that I could and have faith that the base that I built would carry me through.

Around week 12 my tri shorts no longer fit.  I ordered a new pair of low rise shorts from DeSoto and a tank from them as well, which were great.  The shorts were low rise and I sized up to a Large and they fit me comfortably through the race, which was at 16 weeks.

Like with half training, my long training rides/runs on weekends wiped me out completely. I needed a nap, and once it got hotter out, I found I had a headache from dehydration and being in the sun too long afterwards.  I carried a Camelbak with Nuun and ate sportbeans or stinger honey gummies (which are my new favorite training snack).

My main concern for the actual race was how thirsty I get and how that would affect me during the swim.  I drink a lot of water normally, but I’ve been so thirty all of the time.  And my throat being dry tends to bring on nausea.  I had hoped my nausea would clear up by 12 weeks or at least 14 weeks but I was still nauseated and throwing up the week of and after the race, so that was a little disturbing.  I was also concerned about getting enough water, so I made sure to drink as often as possible from my Camelbak and take water at all of the rest stops on the run course.

Other concerns you might have as a triathlete would include whether your wetsuit will fit. I got lucky – I happen to have a wetsuit that is a size up from my regular size, and I was able to squeeze myself into it pretty comfortably for the race.  Definitely rent or obtain a hyperstretch wetsuit if yours is starting to feel snug.  Don’t google “maternity wetsuit” because it will lead you to about 200 forum posts in which somebody asks about a maternity wetsuit and 20 people tell her that it’s way too dangerous to do any of the activities that require a wetsuit.

Actually, let’s just talk about concern trolling, shall we?  Don’t google “doing a triathlon pregnant” if you don’t have the ability to dismiss a bunch of people who don’t know what they are talking about on the internet.  The responses I read varied from “it’s fine” to “falling off a bike when pregnant is inevitable and will kill your baby.”  (Spoiler: I fell off my bike at 10 weeks and we are just fine, thank you. Not that I recommend it.)  Remember that these people are not doctors. They do not know you. So talk to your doctor, consider your abilities, and then consider how far along you are.  I would not recommend doing a long distance tri beyond 17 or 18 weeks personally, because that was the point when my stamina was really shot and even walking uphill became challenging.  I would not recommend it if you are just trying to PR because the chance that you will PR is pretty slim.  But if you are in good shape, can do all of the distances already, and want to do a race? I say talk to your doctor and then go for it.

There is a part II of this post that will be coming in August, because I have a sprint I’m signed up for.

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Race Report: Maritime International Triathlon

Overall, I would say that I was pretty pleased with the organization and execution of the Maritime International Triathlon.  It’s one of the biggest tris I have done, and sold out at 400 people.  One of my Tri friends had recommended SetUp events to me as a company that put on good races, and I have to agree.  Additionally, the SetUp races are pretty reasonably priced, especially if you sign up early.  Transition was organized by bib number, the course setup made sense, and they let us in the water early to warm up.  They did a pre-race briefing the day before, with both a transition briefing and an actual course safety briefing, and then we drove the bike course.  Always drive the bike course before a race, it’s actually really important and it made me feel relaxed because I knew I could handle it.  The parking situation on race day was also easy to deal with and they definitely had enough volunteers making sure people got their chips and got to the right places, etc.  The bathrooms were further out of transition than I would have liked, but it wasn’t too bad.

Maritime Triathlon 055

Swim: The swim actually had an in-water start, because we started by jumping off a pier.   This terrified me when I went in for my warmup swim.  What do you mean I won’t be able to walk in slowly?  However, it worked really well.  There is a lowerable part of the pier, so you stepped down and then were in about a foot of water and then you jumped in.  The edge of the pier was marked with several noodles, which were visible.  I held my nose and jumped in on both the warmup and the actual swim.  For the actual swim, we then made our way out to the edge of the pier and waited for the gun.  It was good because it gave us a chance to relax in the water and get up to the start line before the gun went off.  Set Up actually let us in the water to warm up from 7 a.m. onwards.  I got in around 7:45, because I didn’t want to freeze while waiting.

Maritime Triathlon 059

The swim course wasn’t bad, just endless, and I got soooo thirsty. It was pretty well marked – orange sighting buoys were about every 125ish meters, pretty evenly spaced, and the water temperature was actually pretty perfect compared to my fears. I wore a full 3/2mm wetsuit, and plenty of folks were in sleeveless suits. I double-capped, partly to avoid my goggles getting kicked off and mostly for warmth. I was not at all cold, except the period between my warm up swim and starting the swim.  There were lifeguards in kayaks and on surfboards, but there weren’t as many of them as I expected and they were further out from the course than I expected. I kept telling myself I could rest if I passed a kayak and needed to rest, but I didn’t actually pass any because they were on the move.  I could have signaled for one, I know, but I didn’t need to rest badly enough for that and was buoyant enough in the brackish water in my wetsuit that I could really just float on my back and kick a bit if I needed a rest.  I had been warned to body glide my neck and other spots the wetsuit might hit, because of the salt water, but I forgot to use/bring chapstick so after the swim, my lips were really, really dry.

Maritime Triathlon 069

Bike: The bike course was open to the road, which made me pretty nervous initially, but the intersections were really well managed and I didn’t have to unclip or stop once.  I slowed down and signaled at all turns because it’s good habit, but it wasn’t necessary. The course was marked pretty clearly with neon arrows at every turn and it was hard to imagine being able to go off course.  The volunteers with the flags were cute and enthusiastic (I would guess high school, but possibly college) girls who would cheer and wave their flags, and there was also a police officer at every intersection to stop traffic and they did a great job.  Cars mostly stayed out of the way and the pavement for the bike course was extremely nice for anyone whose been cycling in a city and avoiding potholes on the regular. There were a few spots with a bit of dirt or gravel, but nothing bad.  Passing was pretty easy and the shoulders on the busy roads are so wide you could ride on the shoulder and be passed on the shoulder.  The course was indeed flat and fast.  There were maybe two or three “decent” hills, by which I mean hills that required you to shift down.  The wind was pretty bad – we had a headwind the first half to the turnaround, so my speed was pretty low on the way out – 14-15mph but on the way back I was riding comfortably at 17-19mph.

Maritime Triathlon 087

Run: The run course was not my favorite – we were running on the wide shoulder of Route 33, which is a pretty big road.  There was a turnaround at the end of the run course, and then you went back on 33, so we were running with the runners going the other way on our left, which made it feel narrow.  The upside was you got to see all the other runners, but when you’re at the back of the pack, you feel a bit disheartened.  It was two loops of a 3 mile course, which I wouldn’t have minded if it was more scenic. The other problem with the two loops is that the faster people were passing the slowing people when the fast folks were on their second loop and the slower folks were on their first loop.  However, it was nice for the spectators hanging out in transition.  The parts of the course that weren’t on 33 were gravel, so again, just not a great run course.  It felt like they picked a great swim and bike course, and had to sacrifice a bit on the run, which is understandable.  I would rather have a calm, flat, easy entry/exit swim and a low traffic bike course than a scenic run.

Maritime Triathlon 333

 

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On Doubt

Both my sister and my husband teased me a bit after the race, just a bit of “aren’t you glad you didn’t drop out?” and “you thought you couldn’t do this!” I’m not even sure that teasing is the right word.  But I was reminded that I had major, major doubts coming into this.

I had major, major doubts during the very first portion of the open water swim.  In fact, the doubt was so severe it almost developed into a full blown anxiety attack.  The buoys looked so far away, and I started to doubt myself really hard.

The thing is though, doubt is good when it comes to racing.  My doubt that I could get through a one mile swim is what had me at the pool, swimming a mile or close to it, twice a week, from January until the week of the race.  It had me standing in a freezing cold lake the first weekend it was open for swimming, dunking my head in and out of the water to force myself to shorten my breathing so that I could force myself to take deep breaths in cold water.  I know plenty of people who do their first triathlon on minimal training, figuring that they can swim, and ride, and run, and so why would they need to do those things all at once? I have a friend who did his first International distance race to train for his first half-Iron distance race, and I did his only practice open water swim with him and we definitely did not swim a mile.  Doubt is why it took me so long to sign up for a longer distance tri, even though it’s been on the bucket list for four years.  Well, doubt, and money.  But I doubted myself so much I knew I had to really push myself in training.

For a person like me, who handles that little voice inside her that says, “you can’t do this!” by saying, “just watch me.”, racing is how I conquer doubt.  It’s also how I remind myself that I can do big, scary, hard life things.  Finals became easier for me once I started running half marathons.  One of the things I’m learning in therapy is that anxiety is not an unproductive emotion until it becomes too severe – a small amount is a good thing, it can help you be more prepared and I’m trying to channel my anxiety into going, doing, being, instead of letting my anxiety rule me and tell me that I can’t do things.

I know a lot of people who let their doubts and anxieties and issues keep them from doing awesome things.  I have known several people who have dropped out of races because they didn’t think they had trained well enough for them – even if they had completed way more training than I had for the same distance.  I know a lot of people who have talked themselves out of professional opportunities because they doubt they are qualified for a position or they doubt they will get an interview or the job.

The day I decided that I was going to do this race and get pulled out of the water if I really couldn’t handle the swim was the moment I stopped giving into my doubt.  I did it, in fact, by giving into it.  The easiest way for me to shut the voice up is to say, “I’m going to try” and recognize that failure is, in fact, possible.  Because the truth is, failure is an option.  But trying is a learning experience.  If I had DNF’d the swim, I would have learned something about it for next time and I would have eventually done it.  And I would have done the bike and the run and I would have been okay and felt okay about myself.  Obviously, one should never do something one is too horribly untrained or extremely injured to attempt, but if the only reason you are scared to go forward and do something is that you haven’t done it before? Go forth.  Be awesome.

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Brick (and spring!)

Last Sunday, I did my first brick workout.  We did a 20 mile bike ride, and I followed it up with 2.5 miles of running.  I was surprised and pleased at how easy a time I had with both of those, as well as my transition.  We finished the bike ride in under two hours, including a break for snacks, so I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to make it through that portion of the race and hopefully the run.  My legs felt pretty good on the run.

Monday I did a full mile swim.  I’m a bit concerned because I keep needing water during the swim, but the internet suggests that during the race itself, I might be okay. The internet does not suggest a way to rig one’s wetsuit to hold a camelbak.  I’m also still working on my foot cramp issues.  I think I need to potentially up my calcium, salt, and/or potassium intake to try to combat this issue, but I’m also getting better at stretching out my foot while I am swimming and managing with the pain.

Tuesday, I went to a tri club meeting for the start of the season.  Then it snowed.  And I felt discouraged again and I let it affect my workout for the rest of the week.  I really need to get out of this funk, and I wouldn’t mind not feeling so tired either.

On Saturday, we went up to my inlaws house and I did a 14 mile bike ride and then did a 6.2 mile run.  The bike ride felt awesome – I was averaging 18mph while I was on the road! Then once I hit the trail, I slowed down because it curved a lot and there were pedestrians, but I was able to keep it above 15mph for a lot of the rest of the ride.  Things went way downhill on the run though – I need to hydrate better and eat more on the bike. I know most triathletes eat a lot on the bike leg, but I have a lot of trouble balancing on my bike with only one hand, so that makes me nervous.  Next weekend, I’m going to try nuun in my camelbak and force myself to maybe drink water every mile or two miles. I think I’m going to try to do a full International brick – a 24 mile ride and then the 10k run.

The really good news is how comfortable I’m feeling on my road bike. I clipped in on Saturday and didn’t fall over at all.  I feel much more confident and balanced, although my husband is joking that we need to do donuts so I can practice my turns.  It’s really not a joke, I’m terrible at turning – I’m a total chicken.  If a turn is too sharp, I get off my bike and walk it.  So, we’ll be working on it.  I also am not having any real trouble with the bike-to-run transition – my legs don’t feel like jelly going into the run, even if I really pushed myself on the bike.  I’m just having overall stamina issues, so I’m spending the next three weeks (eeek) working on those, because if I’m as tired as I was on Saturday + a mile swim, there is no way I’ll finish in the 4hr time limit.

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