Hitting my stride

I’m finally feeling it. Feeling like “I can do this.” Of course I’m referring to my triathlon that is swiftly approaching.

Just 11 days ago I wrote the post “One month” as I reached the 30 day mark before the race. I mentioned some of the difficulties I’ve been dealing with as I’ve been training. I’ve been pretty nervous up until this point about being able to complete everything in the race, but I think I’ve reached that point of understanding what I need to do.

I went to a triathlon clinic this past Sunday that is specifically geared toward the Ramblin’ Rose race I am competing in next month. It was great. There were about seven of us, none of which had every competed in a triathlon before. We were able to swim some of the pool, and the coach was able to give us some good tips and explain how things will work on race morning. triathlon unc wellness center rain gym

Unfortunately, there was horrible weather on Sunday morning. We were planning on riding the first leg of the bike ride, but had to settle for a quick ride where we tested out the biggest hill in the race. That definitely made things more comfortable knowing that, worst case scenario, we’ve already had some practice on the biggest hill in cold, rainy weather.

Another important process was working through the transitions. If you’re hoping to be competitive in a triathlon, the transitions can make a big difference. Our coach called them the “4th sport.” If you fall a little behind in one of the sports, you can make some of that up with a good transition.

The whole thing was perfect for getting a feel for what to expect. I feel much more comfortable with what I have to do as I’ve had the chance to walk through it all and talk to someone who’s been doing this for more than 10 years.

And I wrote before that I was concerned about the swimming since I had never swam 250 meters without stopping. I don’t know what happened this week, but something just triathlon be incredible positivityclicked. I figured out how to use the water rather than fight against it. I went from swimming 100 meters and gasping for air at the end to literally doing 750 meters today without stopping and not really being that tired at the end of it.

I also bought some knee braces and new running shoes that give a lot more support. So far, my knees have felt a lot better. I was even able to get up to a sprint without them bothering me.

I think I finally realized that I’m going to be able to do this. There’s still a lot more work to do, but I’m feeling much more confident about it now. I’m really looking forward to it now and actually can’t wait for it to get here.

Respecting the road

I’m starting to understand cyclists more and more. I am not going to lie, I’ve always found them rather annoying. Not even because they are slow, but mostly because they scare me. I’ve always had a small fear that one is going to veer in front of me or fall off their bike when I’m driving behind them. That all became a little more real to me today.

When I decided to start getting into a workout routine and to start training for a triathlon, I knew I was going to need a bike. I didn’t want to cheap out and buy something to “try out” because I didn’t want to be out several hundred dollars when I realized that I was going to need a better bike. Plus, when you’re riding 9+ miles, you have to do it on the roads, most neighborhoods aren’t going to cut it. Since I knew I’d be out there with cars some, I wanted a bike that is more finely tuned and, therefore, less likely to put me in harm’s way. bike cycle triathlon cannondale synapse road

So I bit the bullet and bought a beautiful road bike. And that’s exactly what it was made for: the road. There are only so many times you can loop through you neighborhood, constantly having to turn the bike around. I’ve tried trails, too, but they are often very rough, not very wide with tight turns, and lots and of runners that you’re having to dodge.

With the triathlon less than a month away, I know I need to get used to riding with cars on the road, since the roads will not be blocked for the race. So I took her out today down a road near my house, not too heavily travelled and I tried to go in the morning after rush-hour but before lunch. Most of the ride was fine. A little nerve-wracking as cars are zooming past you and you’re doing your best to stay close to the side. But that led to a very scary moment.

I chose this particular road because a lot of it has very wide shoulder lanes where you can stay completely out of the way, but there are a few spots where there’s basically no shoulder at all. As I was headed back towards my house, a heard a car come up behind me so I tried to stay as far out of their way as possible, but I accidentally hit the edge of the asphalt. I’m not exactly sure what happened at that moment, but my bike jumped and I swerved into the lane. I’m sitting here thanking God right now that there was not another car behind the one that was passing me, because I could be in a very different state right now.

I tried to focus on just getting home and not thinking too much about what just happened because I could feel my legs starting to get weak. But I made it home in one piece with a new respect for the road and for the bicyclists who ride on it. I understand more why you have to take up part of the road. I know it’s an inconvenience when you come up behind someone on the bike and they’re moving at a snail’s pace and you have to wait for an opening to pass them. But I urge you to be patient and realize as a driver that you have a responsibility as the bigger and faster party to look out for the safety of others. In the grand scheme of things, those few moments of slowing down aren’t going to make a difference to you, but can make a huge difference to the person on the bicycle.

One month

30 day countdown triathlon chalkboard

30 days. That’s all I have left to get ready for my triathlon. It’s exactly one month from today, and of course September would be one of the months that only has 30 days.

I’m definitely feeling the pressure. I feel that I have a major issue with each of the three parts involved.

Swimming (250m): swimming 10 lengths of the pool is a lot harder than it sounds. I usually swim about 1km each workout, but I’ve never swam 250m without stopping. Plus, I’ve never had the chance to practice the typical triathlon path that includes zig-zagging down the width of the pool. So far, I’m up to 150m without stopping, but can continue on with a fairly short rest. I’m starting to feel better about my ability to condense that in the next 4 weeks. If I decide to continue on with this training, I’m glad that I will have until next year to work my way up to the usual sprint distance of 750m.

Bike (9 miles): bicycling itself is not too difficult. I’m able to keep going for that distance on the stationary bike and actually did an 11 mile cycle this morning. However, I’m doing that around neighborhoods and making circuits. I’ve hardly been out on the actual road at all. But it’s very unnerving trying to get used to riding alongside a bunch of cars. And I don’t have anyone that I know who bikes that I could ride along with and it seems that most of the groups that go riding are a lot more experienced than I am and I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep up. Fortunately, for the race in October, it will be a Sunday morning, so traffic should be low, and the one portion that is along NC-54 will be coned off. (At least that’s what I’m hoping because it was at the last race I saw in that area.)

Run (2 miles): running is obviously the easiest to pick up in most cases because you are basically doing the same thing you do every day… just faster and longer. I’ve been doing a couch to 5k program so that I’m prepared to run 3.1 miles but only have to run 2. I’m already fine with making it that distance, but the pace has been difficult. I’ve written before about my knees being a problem. I think it’s a combination of residual joint inflammation caused by inflammatory bowel disease and the fact that I haven’t gone running (at least consistently) for a very long time. So I can do it, I just have to resort to walking a good bit of the time.

All of that seems like so much to overcome in the next month. I’ve been a little discouraged about it lately. But fortunately, I had to opportunity to meet up with a lady who my mom knows who’s been doing triathlons for the past 3 years. She was very encouraging and gave me some good advice on how to prepare. I may also get the chance to go riding with her some before my race. But like I said before, I may have issues keeping up.

I have had to remind myself numerous times about why I am running this race. And I’m not competing in it to win. But at the same time, I’m a competitive person, and the idea of not making good time upsets me. But the point of all of this is to prove to myself that I am stronger that I thought. And that IBD or having an ostomy is not going to keep me down. It’s not about winning, it’s about finishing.

No backing out now!

Days 23-25 Prompt: Whether you are male or female, do you consider yourself a guy or gal with GUTS? To me, having guts means that you’re strong and brave. Think about how you fit into this description and read my post to see what I’m doing to be stronger and feel better about myself and my abilities! You can do it too!

Well, I did it. I signed up for a triathlon this October.

This is definitely outside of my comfort zone. I haven’t seriously exercised since high school, so being involved in an organized race is pretty daunting. For me, it’s taking a lot of GUTS to go through with it. And since I’ve already signed up, I can’t change my mind now.

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that due to some joint pain, I’ve been forced to slow down my training plan. That’s still how things are now, but I figure, especially since this will be my first race, making great time isn’t as important as just finishing the race is. And once I make it through this one, if I like it, I’ll continue training and plan on being more competitive in the future.

I’m very excited about it and I can’t wait for that feeling of accomplishment when I cross the finish line.