Sunday, July 17, 2011

51, briefly shining

Again, I know it's been awhile.  It's not like nothing has happened, it's just that I haven't felt like blogging about it.
So...I'll briefly mention a couple of things.  
The other day, several weeks ago probably, I was swimming at the big Olympic sized outdoor pool in preparation for the upcoming triathlon.  I had been wondering if I should really attempt to get in shape to swim the whole tri distance doing the "crawl", or "freestyle" stroke.  It's a harder stroke for me, and I have always thought I have a very strong breaststroke.  And while I've been training, I've been doing nearly the entire 1600m using that stroke.  It's just, more comfortable for me.  And then, the older gentleman in the lane next to me and I came up to rest at the side at the same time, and he said, "you have a HECK of a breaststroke!"  I thanked him, and told him it was good to hear because I wasn't completely sure.  He said, "I can't believe the distance you get with your kick!"  I thanked him again.  That guy made my day!  And maybe my whole swim training experience.
Then really the other day (as in, yesterday) I was out for my bike/run bit.  Side note: I really don't like this combo.  It sucks. In fact, after I finish it for the triathlon, I hope to never combine these two activities again.  Unless I do another tri.  Anyway, a woman came up behind me on the trail on her bike and asked, "how far are you riding today?"  I told her, "not too far, I'm doing a bike-to-run brick today." <pause due to blank stare> "I'm going to ride a short distance, and then run when I'm done."  She asked me more about it, and why I would intend to do such a thing, and we talked about how nice the weather has been and how green everything is because of all the rain.  Before we parted ways on the trail, she said, "You'll do great.  From here, your legs look strong".  Awesome.
Two completely different people, offering me unsolicited support in my endeavors   Thanks, Strangers, for those compliments.  It's more meaningful to me than you'll know.

Monday, June 20, 2011

50 blogs

I thought this past weekend I'd change up my triathlon training a little bit.  Instead of combining two of the events together into a "brick", I decided I'd go for a regular longer ride Saturday, and a longer swim on Sunday.
So Saturday morning, I'm awakened by my darling, starving cat.  She starts her job "as the speaking clock" at about 4:15am.  This means, "Meow!" (It's 4:15). "Meow!" (Now it's 4:30).  And so on.  She also knocks my phone off my nightstand.  And walks on my head.  And licks my nose.  It's actually quite adorable.  And nips on my fingers.  Until I can't stand it anymore and at 5:05am I get up, feed her some kibble, put my sleep mask on, drink a glass of water (I may or may not have had a little too much to drink the night before), and go back to bed til about 7:45.
I then get all my bike gear out, padded shorts and all, and head out on my 30.5 mile ride.  It's a lovely day.  Warm, not too crowded, and I only have some slightly gross heartburn and don't feel too hungover.  And I'm only about 6 minutes slower than usual, which isn't too bad considering it'd been 6 weeks since I'd gone that far.  But, to my displeasure, this is the first time I've noticed my saddle, er, rubbing me the wrong way. 
I will admit to these things: 1) I rolled my bike shorts up to both get that nasty sticky silicone gripping stuff off my bare skin (I can't freaking stand it) and to allow the best possible tan line one could get in bike shorts, and 2) my seat post may have started to slide down because my left knee started to hurt for the first time in many many months on this ride.  And because Badger has brought this notion to mind.  So it could have been either or neither of these reasons that caused these really uncomfortable welts I ended up with in my personal space.
So, swallowing most of my pride and determined to maintain at least some dignity, I headed to Bicycle Village to get some chamois cream.  I can't find it, and I'm way too embarrassed to ask, so I wandered forever til I found one tube, and another little doo-dad of something else.  Then I kind of hovered, waiting until I could find a girl there to ask about it, and she doesn't know, so she's like, "You can ask any of those guys", gesturing to like, six of them standing together in a group by the front counter.  My shoulders slump.  Oh sure, like I'm gonna waltz over with this tube of Chamois Butt'r and a stick of Body Glide and ask, "Hey boys, which chamois cream do you think will best protect my princess pea from my saddle?" So I told her that I was hoping for a girls perspective. She takes me over to the only other girl working there, who is surrounded by other customers. She literally asked me, "What are you going to use it for?" I'm thinking, there's more than one use for ass ointment? I just want to know if it's got menthol and is going to burn...sigh.  So my response of raising one eyebrow then opening my mouth, but remaining speechless, prompted her to just say "Chamois Butt'r".  Thanks.
And my triathlon bikinis arrived in the mail last week.  I tried on the small and the medium each about a million times, and couldn't decide which one to pick.  I finally got on the phone with "team estrogen", talked with a girl there who had just finished a triathlon in one, and she helped me pick the small.  And it doesn't even say "S" on the inside. 
I headed to the pool on Sunday (after sleeping in and magically healing from Tylenol PM), again getting there early, and have a chance to ask that woman if she was able to pill her cat.  She wasn't, but she thanked me for asking, and said she was glad to be at the pool to get some of her nervous energy out.  I was also glad to be at the pool, because I had set a goal of swimming non-stop for 1600 meters, or one mile.
Me and my snazzy new red suit, stopping to soak my hair in the shower, plunked into a lane, strapped on my new shaded goggles, and set off.  I swam breaststroke the entire way, and didn't ever have to stop to catch my breath.  I made it 1000m in about 26 minutes, which was 6 minutes faster than my previous 1000m swim.  And just kept going, back and forth, 32 times. 
I had enough time each lap to tell myself.  "That was 50 meters.  When I finish this distance, it will be 100 meters."  And so on.  Until I said, "That was 1550 meters.  When I finish this distance, I will have swam 1600 meters.  I will have swam a mile without stopping.  I am a total bad ass.  Look at me rock this pool."  And so on.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Swimming is hard. (no. 49)

Alright, for those of you who were concerned about when I'd finally get in the pool, worry no longer.
Sunday morning I went swimming.  I haven't yet received my special triathlon bikini, so I had to choose from my cute ones at home.  The decision was ultimately made on which suit would best complement my swim cap and pink goggles.  So I wore the (kind of tiny) black and white Calvin Kline suit and headed to the outdoor 50m pool that offers lap lanes between the hours of 11 and noon on weekends. 
I got there early because I was feeling like I needed to claim a lap lane before anyone else.  I didn't know how crowded it would be.  Anyway, hanging out for 15 minutes in front of the locked up pool, I was able to get someone to spray sunblock on my back for me, and overhear a conversation between the elderly ladies that were waiting for their morning pool time.  One lady was lamenting having to start pilling her cat for a UTI.  I can't help but offer my advice, having just learned how to pill my own cat this week.  I try to explain it using words, but end up having to mime holding the cat's head up and dropping the pill into her mouth by using my own head as an example (I can only imagine how that looked).  And when I suggest blowing on the cat's nose once the pill is in their mouth to get it to lick it's nose and swallow, she's SO grateful.  Can't stop thanking me.  I feel pleased I can help.
Then the pool opens up and I head in with the ladies, stopping briefly in the shower to soak my hair as per my stylists suggestion. "Hair is like a sponge, soak it with water before you get in the pool and it won't absorb as much chlorine and won't get as damaged".  Brilliant! 
Hair soaked, swim cap on, I plop myself into a lane.  I then put on my pink goggles that I haven't worn in years, and they are uncomfortable.  They are child-sized, literally, because apparently the other pair I had would leak (this is a faint and foggy memory).  It's like they are smashing my eyeballs, it's awful.  But I can't not wear them, you know?
Alright.  I set my watch up on the edge to time myself, and start the swim.  I only have to go back and forth 15 times (7.5 laps) to go the tri distance of 750m.  How hard could that be?  I have to keep alternating between my stronger breaststroke and the crawl.  The crawl is hard.  In my head I'm thinking, I have to do the crawl for the whole tri, so I should keep forcing myself to do this.  I had a few moments where I'd feel like I had been swimming forever, stop to rest, look at the other end of the pool, and it was like one of those trick camera shots where the distance is skewed.  You know, like in Vertigo or something?  Soooo far away.  But I made it 1000m for good measure, in just over 32 minutes.
Lessons learned:
1) A CK bikini is not made for lap swimming.  It is designed specifically for lounging on a beach, and perhaps for easing one's way over to a swim-up bar.  This was unfortunately discovered after swimming at least 200m with the top twisted over to one side, no longer doing it's job at all.  At least it's just me, the lifeguards, and a few older women.  Maybe no one noticed my inadvertent indiscretion at all...tee hee.
2) I need new goggles.  Preferably with tinted lenses to shield my eyes from the burning bright sun.  (I went and bought some.  Tried on at least ten pairs too to make sure my eyeballs would not be smashed).
3) I should probably swim every weekend I can before the tri.  It's harder than I remembered.  It was different than how I felt after biking or running.  My body was totally fatigued, but it didn't feel like I had fallen out of a moving car.  Well, until today.  Today I feel like that.
Last night, on a spur of the moment trip downtown to enjoy some cake, I saw someone had put a tiny purple party hat on the nose of this flying horse, and couldn't stop laughing. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The T2 Transition (48 and counting)

I'm still working on my checklist of things to do in preparation for this triathlon.  I have now completed the bike/run portion twice.  Today's went waaaay better.  I tried the suggestions I read to help make that easier.
I stood up to pedal in a big gear for about a quarter mile, about 3/4 miles from home.  Then I switched to a tiny gear and spun my legs like crazy for not very far, because it felt ridiculous and I was barely moving.  Then I prepared myself mentally for the run, visualizing what I would do when I got home (remember to pee) and heading out on my run.  I remembered to eat first.  I realized I should add "apply chapstick" to my list of things to do during the transition.
I got home, saved my heart rate monitor data for the bike, went inside, changed shoes and headphones (long story), and took off.  Immediately I felt a difference and the run was pretty smooth.
Earlier this week, I went to a "Tri 101" lecture hosted at Bicycle Village, and presented by the official Tri for the Cure coach, Melissa.  She was great!  She answered a lot of my questions, which I asked without hesitation or embarrassment in front of a fairly large group.  I even made everyone laugh a couple times.  And I learned a lot.
One of my concerns was about the bike ride course being narrow and perhaps requiring some finesse on the turn around points.  I'm great going straight and around gentle curves, but this course appeared to have a few sharp turns and I was envisioning myself teetering around these precarious corners at a slow rate of speed, getting in everyone's way and perhaps unclipping in a panic.  I asked if I should be worried about that if I'm not the most graceful, natural athlete on my bike, and she insisted I'd be fine, and everyone else looked relieved as well.
The other question was about what I should wear.  Let me back up briefly to the hour or so before the lecture, which I spent trying on "triathlon apparel".  This was an unenjoyable experience, to say the least.  First, I was handed a pair of bike shorts with a tiny chamois and pockets.  Yes, pockets.  And for the top, I was handed a tank top with a shelf bra.  Each of these items was over $70.  I asked, what about a bathing suit?  I was told, you swim in the shorts.  Snarling a little, I took them to the fitting room to just see what this was all about.  And it was awful.  The shorts had that silicone grippy stuff around the leg and waist opening.  So it was like, stuck to my body, too tight, squishing every little bit of cupcake up out around my waist, revealing what did not appear to be a triathlete's belly.  Pouting a little and trying to save my pride, I pull on the tank.  Immediately my waist disappears, leaving me looking much like I had no waist at all.  Adding to this "not what I had in mind" vision, was the fact that it was completely uncomfortable.  Even the mediums, I swear.
Anyway, I asked Coach Melissa what I could wear, and if anyone thought I really needed some expensive quick-dry mini chamois for an 11.4 mile bike ride.  The answer from the crowd was a resounding "no" (which I now know to be true, having ridden today sans chamois), and she said, you can do the whole thing in your bathing suit.  Do you have a bathing suit?  The answer: I have one with flowers and crap hanging off of it, it's super cute.  Ha ha ha.
So I spent arguably too much time on line hunting down the ideal racing triathlon appropriate bikini.  I found one that was highly rated by someone who had just finished a triathlon of the same distance through a cute website called "team", and what appeared to be an identical one on "", which offered 15% off for new customers.  Sold.
Team Estrogen 

Upon further inspection, the next day, I notice these suits are not identical.  Close.  I like the one on team estrogen better, and no, I can't explain exactly why but I do.  So, I've ordered three total suits (I've even admitted to a friend that they will all show up and likely be the exact same suit, but they just look different to me in the pictures, don't they??).  One small from trisports, and one small and one medium (realizing I may not be as small as I thought) from team estrogen.  Let's hope one fits, and that it too, is super cute.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

47, and I can do it!

So, item "Complete bike/run portion of the tri" has been completed.  I got up Saturday morning, had Husband check the tire pressure on my bike, laid out my running shorts, socks, and shoes, and took off on my bike. There has been some fires in the area lately, leaving a strange haze in the air.  The light of the morning sun coming through this haze was unlike a sunlight I had seen in Colorado in awhile.  It almost seemed...beachy.  Like the sun was shining through smog and humidity in California, instead of shining through ash and smoke of fires in Colorado.
Anyway, I ended up going 12.47 miles (at a reasonable place to turn around on the trail).  I got back home, ran inside, changed my bottom half attire, and headed out on the run.  And it felt...weird. Like, my legs were heavy and not moving the way I wanted them too.  I felt all shuffly and wonky, and slow.  But, I plugged along, wishing I had both thought to eat something before I left on the bike ride, and stopped to pee before the run.  Notes to Self.  I ran 3.1 miles.  And you know, I felt OK.  I didn't feel, like, normal or anything, but it felt fine.  I can at least do that much!!
That night I used the most fabulous vibrating hand-held back massager on earth for the entire 20 minutes it will run before shutting itself off to prevent overheating.  Add some Tylenol PM, nearly 11 hours of sleep, and Sunday I felt pretty damn self-satisfied.
I met a friend for lunch and some shopping, and we ended up going downtown to see the Street Chalk Art festival.  Wow wow wow!  
After walking around in the afternoon (pretending to be beachy) haze, looking at this art on the street, we found dinner on a patio, and found life to be...just very enjoyable.  :o)

I have done a little google research on bike/run transitions.  Apparently, what I experienced is completely normal.  The article I read had some suggestions on what to do on the bike towards the end of the ride to help ease into running without freaking your body out.  Some standing up in the saddle to pedal, some over-spinning in a small gear, and stretching your legs and back as much as you can.  Also preparing mentally from pedaling to running.  I can do that.  I'll try again next weekend.  I'll eat first, I'll transition physically and mentally on the last mile or so of my ride, and I'll wobble along another 5k run.  

Thursday, June 2, 2011

46th, and my "to do" list

Since this triathlon endeavour is likely the most interesting thing in my life right now (or at least, the thing most on my mind), I'll be sharing my experiences and thoughts about it with you all.
First, I have come up with a list of concerns I have about this event.  Let me enumerate my fears:

1) I'm actually pretty worried about what the chlorine will do to my hair when I finally go swimming.  I'm growing it out, and I don't want to ruin it.  I'm feeling like a princess about my hair.  I am planning to ask my hairdresser what I can do to protect it when she gives me my trim next week. 
2) I'm very concerned about wearing the same bikini thing that I will be swimming in for the entire race.  This idea is gross to me.  It's wet, I have to pull on bike shorts over a soggy wet bikini bottom, and then ride my bike sitting on my soggy butt for however long it takes me to ride.  Then I pull off the soggy bike shorts and am supposed to run?  In my bikini? 
3) I'm scared someone will kick/hit me in the face during the swim.
4) I'm scared I'll swallow the gross lake water and get a weird intestinal infection.  In fact, I not only don't want the water in my mouth, but I would prefer it not touch my skin at all.  It's dirty.
5) I'm nervous about being able to unclip without fail in case of bike emergency.  I've ridden on the crowded bike path, but what if this is more crowded?  How do I successfully negotiate a crowd (or let someone who is more badass than me pass me) without falling into a big collective bike heap that is entirely my fault because I am clumsy on my bike?
6) What if I get sunburned?  Is it appropriate to leave a can of spray sunblock and a towel in the "transition" area?
7) Do I really need to practice my "transitions"?  Isn't that just a measure of how quickly I can change clothes, and not a measure of my fitness?  And we're not talking about a lot of clothes here.  Remember the bikini?  I'm working on feeling confident running in this item.  

To better assist myself in getting over these fears, I have come up with a list of things to do that may help me chillax.

1) Purchase the special triathlon bikini, hoping it is comfortable, quick-drying, and will stay in place.
2) Run and bike at least once in this bikini, perhaps while it's wet, so that I know it will stay in place and not do anything terrible to my body.
3) Complete bike/run portion of the tri (on my "to do" list this Saturday).
4) Complete swim portion of the tri, preferably several times, both in a pool and in the disgusting gross icky murky reservoir.  Maybe I'll even ride my bike in the bikini to the swimming destination.  Maybe.  It will depend on the bikini.  And my self-confidence.
5) Start to think about learning how to fix a flat tire on my bike.  Because that's the kind of luck I have.

So as I come up with new concerns, and as I complete the items in my checklist, I will report back.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No. 45 (or 15337th place)

So I decided a little while ago that I should run the Bolder Boulder this year.  I had done it the first time back in 2004 with a couple friends of mine.  I had started running "for real" maybe in 2003 or 2002, and was enjoying doing local 5k's.  I was really enjoying being able to run, so I entered the BB10k and started training.  I ran 6 miles once, which was two laps around City Park, and felt ready for it.  And I was!  My friends and I ran the whole thing without stopping (which was our/my personal goal).  We kept a slow and steady pace, finishing at a reasonable, if not humble, 1:10:58.  I ran it again in 2005, finishing in 55:53.  In between these two races, I ran a half-marathon in Carlsbad, CA in January of 2005.  I trained in Denver through the winter, which meant that the actual race at sea level at a comfortable 60 degrees was pretty fantastic.  I can't remember my actual finish time for the half, but it was nearly dead-on 10:00 mile (I honestly think something like 131 minutes, 28 seconds).  And I haven't gone farther than a 10k since then. 
I was so glad that the same friend I ran with in 2004 wanted to run with me again this year.  We have always had fairly similar paces, so I felt good about being able to run the whole thing with her again (without stopping ha ha).  And we did!  She set a strong pace, and we finished in 1:00:53.  I came in 15337th place out of more than 50,000 people.  It's a HUGE race.  On the course, there were no fewer than 3 slip-n-slides in people's yards that a runner could choose to dive through (I chose no).  One appeared either filled with beer, or really dirty water.  At mile 2, there was the unofficial "marshmellow station", with a guy tossing marshmellows out into the runners.  I didn't get one, and I'm still a little sad about that.  There was an Elvis impersonator, whom my friend high-fived.  [To make it easier for future reference, I'll call her the Pie Girl, since that's how we became friends.  I am aware all my personal business is out there in
 this blog, but I don't see the need to bring any unwanted attention to the Pie Girl.  Also keeping in mind that being called the Pie Girl is not a reflection of her appearance in any stretch of the imagination.  She is quite petite and fit.  I will be mentioning her again in future blogs.  Back to the race.]  
Somewhere around mile 4 was an elusive donut stand.  I saw a girl running with a donut, and I told the Pie Girl with undisguised envy, "that girl has a donut".  She had seen the stand, but somehow, I missed it.  People come out to the neighborhoods and eat their breakfast in their pajamas, and at least once the smell of bacon was overwhelming.  Nearing mile 6 was a girl with a plate of cupcakes.  I applauded her (literally), but declined.  I wasn't feeling like eating a cupcake just then.  Weird, I know. 
The BB finishes with a run through the CU football stadium.  It's super fun (?) to sprint this last little part.  It's loud, there's music playing, the stands are full of people cheering you on, and you're almost done!  So I sprinted (read: accelerated from a jog to a run) to the end.
And as an aside, this race is always run on Memorial Day.  I had always thought of Memorial Day as a day to honor fallen soldiers.  However, the BB gives you a free bib to honor any and all people who have served/are currently serving.  And I was so excited to put two people of whom I am quite proud: my currently serving Sergeant First Class super secret squirrel brother-in-law, and friend from previous job who was apparently a major bad-ass in the Army at one time.

The Pie Girl and I had a great run.  On the drive back from Boulder, we talked about triathlons.  She's done one, I haven't.  It's something I kind of always wanted to do, but a) didn't have a decent bike and b) didn't have consistent pool access.  I now have a more than decent bike.  So, before I lost my nerve, feeling all super confident and mighty, we registered for the "Tri for the Cure" in Cherry Creek State Park on August 7th.  That gives me just over nine weeks to find a pool, and see if I can even swim 750 meters. 
I feel pretty confident I could do the whole race without training any harder than I ordinarily would do over a summer.  But all bravado and braggadocio aside, by "do" I mean “finish”.  Not heroically, not without a lot of discomfort, and likely not without feeling pretty miserable the whole time, and perhaps with a dramatic crawl to the finish line.  Soooo, I'll find a pool (I already found a couple at rec centers I can pay through the nose to use), and figure this thing out.  And perhaps, eat my words.
I'll admit that the swim part makes me nervous.  It's in a yucky reservoir (one year participants in this same tri all got some horrible skin rash from a parasitic snail or something godawful), it's in open water, there will be a bunch of other swimmers with their arms and legs all kicking out everywhere, and I've never done anything like that before.  And I have literally no concept of what it means to swim 750 meters.  It's like, half a mile.  Is that far?  I don't even know.  It sounds far.  I suppose I'll find out soon enough.
And just to see if I am over-confident or actually capable, this weekend I will attempt the entire bike/run portion.  So I'll ride my bike 11.4 miles (maybe 12 to call it good) and then run 3.1 miles.  My logic is that I can ride 30 miles and be OK, and I just ran 6.2 miles and was OK.  I can probably do half of each at the same time and be OK.  Right??