Archive for September, 2010

I’m Not Done

That’s right.  Anyone who thought, “Wow, I’m really happy that Liz finished her triathlon, but I wish she would keep writing blog posts so that I could keep reading about how she cries during training,” you just got your wish.  Josh, Phil and I will be registering for the Hot Chocolate 15k, which will take place on Saturday, November 6th in Grant Park.

We have about five weeks to train, and our regimen will involve a lot of cardio and lifting.  This is a nine mile run, and the most I’ve ever run is four.  But, unlike my feelings at the beginning of our triathlon training, I have absolutely no doubt that I can do this.  Just gotta get out there and start running!


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We drove up to Baraboo on Saturday afternoon and pulled into the parking lot of the Willowood Inn, which is the ADORABLE motel I picked out for us. We stayed in the “Wildlife Room,” in which every opportunity for an adornment or an embellishment was taken–the shower curtain rings were little bears hugging pine trees; the walls were covered with owls and wolves and moose and bears.  And you could rent VHS tapes for a buck! AND they had lawn games! Anyway, we’re not supposed to be talking about our accommodations, we’re supposed to be talking about the race!

So we went to bed around eight thirty, but I couldn’t sleep for a long time because I was hella nervous.  We got up at five thirty, had some breakfast, and headed out in the dark for Devil’s Lake State Park.  Upon our check-in we were given Devil’s Challenge Triathlon t-shirts, plastic coffee mugs, our numbers [I was 676], and our ankle strap-timers.  We put the tires on our bikes and took little ride-arounds to make sure everything was in working order, and then got our bodies marked.  I got a big “676” on my left arm [it’s still there, faintly] and a “3” on my left calf to denote my wave–Novice Females.  After that we set up our stuff in the transition area and put on our wetsuits. Gosh, I’m getting all nervous and tingly just writing about it.

Phil was in Wave 2, so he was the first of us to start.  After him, my wave went in, and Josh was in Wave 5.  When the whistle blew for me to start, I ran into the [surprisingly warm] lake along with all the other Novice Females. We had to run or swim out to this big blow-up yellow pyramid buoy, swim around it to the left, then continue straight across to the other yellow pyramid, then take another left to shore.  I’m not sure why–maybe because I was nervous and there were all these other people swimming around me–but I pretty much backstroked and sidestroked the whole swim.  At one point around the middle I accidentally was backstroking like, straight to shore, and had to get back in with the pack.  I kept reminding myself of what Josh told me right before the race started: “Don’t get outside yourself.” So I just calmed down and got through it. Swim time: 13:31.

I ran out of the lake, taking off my goggles and swim cap as I went.  I didn’t think to start taking off my wetsuit until I got to my transition area. I didn’t dry off at all, I just put on my shirt, pants, socks, shoes, and helmet.  I took a couple bites of a Clif bar and a couple gulps of water, then grabbed my bike and ran it out of the area. T1 time: 5:29.

About three miles into the bike I passed Phil walking with his bike in the opposite direction.  He had gotten a flat. Such a colossal bummer! In the couple seconds it took to pass him he just told me to keep going, so I did. And we had driven the bike course the day before, so I knew it was hilly, but damn.  That shit was hard, y’all.  Allow me to repeat myself: that shit was hard, y’all. Some people were walking their bikes on the first hill.  Not me! If I wasn’t trudging uphill for minutes and minutes at a time, I was hurtling downhill at terrifying speeds.  And did I mention it rained?  So I was slowly making my way up these unbelievably long and steep hills in the rain and then speeding down them on slick roads. My fingers and toes were like little blocks of ice.  I would try to downshift but my fingers were so weak that I wouldn’t be able to and I’d wind up taking a hill in third gear.  The countryside was beautiful, though. And at one point we passed horsies!  There was a line of about five beautiful dark brown horses just watching us all go by and I called out, “Hi, horsies!” right when some dude zipped past me. The bike course ended with one last huge hill and then a winding downhill path back into the park.  Bike time: 1:17:29.

I ran my bike back into the transition area and immediately blew my nose.  I heard Phil say, “Say cheese, boo!” and I looked over to see him taking a video with his phone.  I fixed my ponytail ONCE to fit it through the back of my Old Capital Brew Works baseball cap, took a bite of a fun size Snickers, had one or two more gulps of water, then took off on the run. T2 time: 2:34.

I felt pretty good on the run, actually. Obviously I was tired, but I knew how my legs were going to feel getting off the bike, and I knew I could get it done.  The run course was a little hilly–we ran out of the park and over into a campground, where we did a big uphill loop and then turned around and came back down and out.  The hill was challenging, but still, the thoughts I did have that took the form of words were all positive. On the way out of the campground I passed a sign that indicated that I was on the last mile of the run.  I planned to pick up my pace but about a third of the way through that last mile I was struck with what might have been the worst side cramp I have ever had.  My whole torso spasmed and I almost doubled over.  I tried to keep running and rubbing my side but it hurt so much.  I walked for a bit, and a runner passed me, saying something like, “Come on, you’re almost done, you can finish.”  I started to jog again and looked up and saw Josh coming towards me with a water bottle.  I started to cry a little bit, and he told me if I needed to walk, I could walk. But I took a drink of water and it’s like the cramp just went away.  We picked up the pace for the last two hundred feet of the race, and I finished! Run time: 31:55.

So I finished 39th out of 69th in my division, and 475th out of 549 overall.  I always have a hard time feeling proud of myself–I feel like I have to qualify my accomplishments; temper them or lessen them or think of how I could have done better. But for now I’m trying hard to drive the point home to myself that I could not have done this six months ago.  I could not have done this EVER in my life before now. I finished a triathlon–I am now a triathlete.  And you know who else was a triathlete?  GI Jane.

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Finish What You Started

This will be my final communique before our trip up to Baraboo.  As things stand, we all have bikes.  We all have wetsuits.  I have a lingering chest cold and possible PMS.  But we have been preparing for nigh on six months now, and I’ll be damned if I let some phlegm and pre-menstrual bloating stand in the way of me accomplishing what I set out to do!

I am absolutely confident that I will finish this race.  I’m pretty sure I will stop during the swim, but that’s okay.  This is my first race, after all. Everyone’s support has been greatly appreciated–it has certainly kept me going when I began to drag ass.

And I’m so glad I got to experience this with Phil and Josh–it was tremendous.  That’s what she said.

I’m not sure what else to say.  We’ll see you on the other side, I suppose.  Ward, over and out.

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At Last

I’m not sure that this will be my last post before the race, but judging from the frequency of my posts of late, it might be safe to assume.

Anyway, we’ve been working out A LOT.  Not so much hard workouts, but we’ve been getting at least one of the events in pretty much six days a week.  We’re sort of getting some last-minute stuff together: we finally got our wetsuits, and we’ll all be borrowing bikes for the race since some degenerate stole Josh’s bike this week.

Speaking of wetsuits, why is it that every idiot who walks along the lakeshore feels the need to call out to people swimming, “What’s the water temperature?”  Do I LOOK like a thermometer, old man?  Why don’t you jump in and find out?  Athletic tourists… Also, after Phil told one of the guys that the water was cold, he asked, “75?”  So clearly, you have no gauge of what is cold or warm in terms of water temperature–so why the hell are you asking?

The bike I borrowed [from an honest-to-goodness Iron Man] is sweet. It had road pedals on it, though, so I took it in to a shop and switched those out for these bright green pedals that make me kind of happy inside. The only thing is, it’s got the ten-speed handlebars, you know?  That look like ram’s horns? I’ve never ridden a bike with those, so it’s something to get used to.  The heels of my hands, oddly enough, are what get the most uncomfortable when I ride this bike.

So tomorrow we’re meeting to do a little mini test-run–swimming in the lake, biking up the lake shore, and then running around North Pond.  We’re not going to do like, a full fifteen mile bike, because what we’re focusing on is transitions.  I’ll also be glad to get some more swimming in because to be honest, that is the part of the race I’m most nervous about.  I mean I know I can swim the quarter mile, I’ve done it a bunch of times; but never without stopping.  It’s not like it would be the end of the world if I stopped during the race, but I’m going to try my hardest not to.

After tomorrow, we’re going to try and carb-load–not with pasta [womp womp], but instead with fibrous carbs like broccoli!  We head up to Baraboo on Saturday.  We’ll check out the race site and ride the bike course, so as to get a feel for how it will go on Sunday.  Then I guess we’ll all hope to get enough sleep before the big day!

We’ve been preparing for this for about six months now and wow, what a journey it’s been.  I was looking back at old entries and reading about how I couldn’t hold a thirty second plank, or how hard ball crunches were, or how I couldn’t even run a quarter mile when we first started.  That is crazy!  I’m sure six months from now when I’ve been running for a lot longer, I’ll be shocked to read this post, but for the time being, I’m proud of us.

Fight the resistance!

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Grey Ice Water

So, we’ve been swimming a lot. Our past week looked like this: Thursday is the day off, but we still do a brisk thirty minute walk; Friday we ran, Saturday and Sunday we swam [we were supposed to do all three on Sunday, but Phil and I both had to work and we figured the swim is the part that’s giving us the most trouble, so we doubled our usual length and did a half-mile], Monday we spun, Tuesday and today we swam.  Tomorrow is our day off.

We have been seeing improvements in our swimming–Phil is improving by leaps and bounds [or breaths and strokes, as someone really dorky might say].  He’s been counting his breaths and he can do over a hundred without stopping.  So he is getting really close to being able to go the whole quarter mile without stopping.

I’ve been trying different things–seeing how many breaths I can take without stopping swimming, trying to make really tiny kicks with my legs really close together so I don’t tire them out as much, trying to focus on looking at the bottom of the lake to keep my body in more of a straight line, trying to go into a rest stroke when I feel tired so that I don’t stop but I do get my breath back.  Some of these have been more successful than others.  What I’m finding to be most successful, however, is just keeping calm while pushing myself as hard as I can.  That doesn’t sound like it makes sense, but it does.  I am trying to keep an even pace with my strokes, not trying to hurry or sprint, while forcing myself to push past that barrier at which I think, “I’m tired, I’m going to stop;” or “I’m getting short of breath, I’m going to stop;” or “I got water in my nose, I’m going to stop.”  Because I’m never going to reach the end if I keep stopping.  That is obvious, but it has taken a while for that to click in my brain.  I’m not going to get in the water one day and magically be able to just keep swimming until I reach a quarter-mile.  Just like everything else we’ve done, this will be hard work and will only happen if I continue to push myself.

That being said, as the weather is getting colder, so is the water, and you know swimming in cold water means… wetsuits! [Why, what were you thinking?  Cheeky monkey…] We have all purchased our Xterra Wetsuits, and they should be arriving any day now.  I’m just really excited to see how they will affect our speed because the people I see at the lake swimming in wetsuits like, coast above the surface of the water. I know it would be really hardcore if we did the race without wetsuits, but… shit, I’m going to need all the help I can get!

Basically what we have to look forward to is focusing on our transitions [people have told us, do not underestimate the transitions], running distances longer than three miles, more brick training, and me getting better at swimming.  And then carbo-loading.  THE RACE IS ONLY SEVENTEEN DAYS AWAY!

Nice work!

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