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theunexpectedtriathlete

I never saw that coming!

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Training

My training experiences as I discover what it takes to be a triathlete

STREAKING!!

Run-streaking, that is. Sorry for getting your hopes up (or, perhaps, terrifying you). I have been trying to complete a 30 day running streak. For many, 30 days of running every day isn’t very long so this personal challenge may seem somewhat insignificant, but for me 30 days, every day, is tough. I’m a teacher – a dance educator, actually- so I am fairly active throughout the day. It’s a real effort some days when my body is tired an aching from tormenting my students to come home and train. So I decided to force myself, to give myself a reason to get off my lazy butt that would much rather sit on the couch drinking wine and cuddling my dogs.

So, here I am, at the half way point. Working my way on the downhill side and here’s where things are at.

Let’s start with the basics:

The “Commandments”

  • Thou shalt run every day
  • Thou shalt run a minimum of 15 minutes every day
    • I figured 10 minutes was just too damned short, I mean even 15 is pretty short but when you’ve already danced for 3 hours in the day, a 15 minute run takes a heck of a lot of effort. I needed a “bailout” point that still made me work at least a little and also didn’t incur the wrath of my athletic therapist who is constantly scolding me for pushing too hard.
  • That shalt not worry about distances/speeds throughout the process
    • This is proving next to impossible, despite my best efforts. The Gazelle gets a daily text with me complaining that my Garmin foot pod is suddenly registering a slower (this is what I tell myself anyway)
  • Thou shalt award thyself with a trip to Thermea at the end of the 30 days.
    • This is the only thing keeping me from saying “Screw it!” and laying on the couch with wine and puppies.

The “Why”

  • I got instantly lazy after the redemption 10k. The couch won the battle for nearly 2 weeks before I even bothered to lift a foot
  • I needed a challenge that wasn’t about beating a time, distance, The Gazelle or trying to keep up with her husband
  • I want my pants to fit despite my incredible love of fried food and chocolate, plus we have an upcoming vacation that requires bathing suits
  • I need to learn to listen to my body and let it just be OK to be a little slower/shorter/less awesome on my run
  • Why not?

 

Here are my thoughts so far:

Let’s start with the “bad” and just get that out of the way.

  • My legs hurt. They are tired. My right hamstring hates me.
  • It’s really hard to WANT to run every day, especially when I haven’t slept well or work makes me want to eat my body weight in poutine.
  • Laundry. Oh…so very much laundry
  • I WANT TO GO FASTER EVERY RUN AND I JUST BLOODY CAN’T
  • I totally bail at 3km (about 15 minutes) more often than I should.

 

The Good so far:

  • My pants fit even with the influx of leftover Halloween candy and the daily dose of “breakfast chocolate”
  • I actually want wine LESS – I even turned it down one evening. I know this makes me sound like an alcoholic but a glass of wine is often part of our dinner/evening routine and with running, I want water more than anything.
  • I’m choosing better foods the longer this goes on. This isn’t an intentional thing and also has to do with the giant box of tomatoes, 12 pumpkins, mountain of carrots, full bag of fresh garlic, etc that we were given. There’s a lot of clean eating in my house and I’m feeling pretty good
    • **except for the one day were I pretty much wanted to eat everything and anything. I probably would have eaten you if you were nearby. I was RUNGRY in ways I’d never been rungry!**
  • I am learning to back off when things are sore or tired. That’s a big challenge for me. It makes me feel less bad about the early bail outs because I justify it as “I’m learning not to push until I injure myself”
  • My dog, Maddy, runs right after me. She loves the treadmill so her short little Puggle legs get a workout after I’m done. It’s a little extra bonding time for just me and her while her two puppy-siblings watch.
    • this is less cute/fun when she tries to jump on while I’ve got the treadmill going at a speed of 7.2)
  • My body responds really well to running and there are noticeable (to me) changes in just 15 days. I feel more comfortable, confident and strong that I did before. I’m excited to take a mid-way point photo tomorrow morning and to take an end of the running streak photo in 2 weeks.

 

I will save my “would I recommend this” decision until I’m done because there are still 2 weeks to go but so far, I’m really proud of this process and my ability to stick to it. Only 15 runs left to go until I head to the wonderful relaxation of Thermea.

WISH ME LUCK!

 

 

 

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THUD!!

You know what that sound is? It’s me hitting the wall. And not the cool “Game of Thrones” wall where the Watch is on duty and I might get to chase after Jon Snow, but the one that hurts a lot more: the training wall.

THUD.

Theeeeere it is. The moment where any sort of productive training stops, everything feels like death and you are definitely regressing not PROgressing.

THUD.

I hit it face first this time. I actually didn’t see it coming which makes it all the more frustrating. But there it is…

THUD.

The lack of progress, the backwards slide, the wrenching frustration that comes with just  not being able to feel GOOD about any of the training sessions.

Mine hit right after the half marathon a month ago. That race was fan-fricken-tastic. I mean, yeah, the IT band hurt and, yeah, I hobbled through the last two kilometers while seriously considering just sitting down and asking someone to drag me, but I finished in my goal time so that makes it fan-fricken-tastic. And then it all fell apart.

I have fallen spectacularly from grace. THUD!! From 13.1 in under 2 hours to not being able to get through 5k without stopping repeatedly to die a little.  Now, I am accustomed to the first few runs after I move to the lake sucking. I am a prairie girl who runs on the flat flat flat and then I end up in the Canadian Shield trying to make my body heave itself up steep hills, or the long, drawn-out hill that I affectionately call “the hill from hell” because, while it doesn’t seem so steep, it just keeps going forever…and ever…and ever…

This year, however, my body seems to be refusing to adjust. Even when I went to my other family cottage in Riding Mountain National Park, which has less challenging hills, my body just says “nope!” Most years, after a week or so of hauling my sorry ass up the hills (and believe me, half way up those hills,  it is VERY sorry),  I can get the groove going. This year however, the theme of each run is “THUD…ugh….wall”. Today, I decided to mix it up with some sprints, so with 30 second sprints at 1 min/km faster(minimum) than I usually run, hitting the wall made a little more sense– I mean, sprinting uphill is two horrible things combined– but it wasn’t during the sprints where I started to fall apart, it was the cool down. Go figure.

How much is mental? How much is physical? Is one better than the other? I mean, I’m kind of pulling for the mental because then it’s all in my head, not that I am entirely sure how to fix it. And, if it’s physical, how on earth did I crash and burn so quickly??

Either way… I need a solution and quickly because that “THUD” is really starting to hurt!  Plus, I have two Sprints coming up a week apart and if I don’t get my butt in gear (hahaha) they are  not going to go well!

It’s not about ego. Or is it? 

The Gazelle is training hard and progressing beautifully. Every session is a magical moment of improvement. I’m proud of her. She had a rough season last year and she is the queen of the comeback. 

There’s just one problem…

I suck. 

Now, I don’t mean that literally. I’ve got some solid races under my belt and I’m certainly more than reasonable in my times but I’m just not seeing the improvement that The Gazelle is.  In fact, lately, it seems as though things are moving backwards!! 

Let’s face it: right now, I suck! 

I had an amazing half marathon and finally broke my 2 hour barrier (1:59 still counts as under 2) and riding the high of that kickass race, I dove head first in to triathlon mode. Swim, bike, run, weights, repeat!! I’m a teacher- I have all the time in the world to train and get butt kicking ready so the Gazelle can’t catch me.

I had big plans for runs and biking at the lake– I will use those hills to build my power (those hills are a challenge for this prairie girl at the start of lake season). I will run and bike like I’ve never ran and cycled before!!! I will….stop half way up the hill and die. 

And there is the theme for all of my runs since the half marathon. Run a few minutes and then stop…run…stop…run…whimper…stop. 

There has not been a good run since the half marathon! How is this possible?? I can run a half marathon in under 2 hours but now I can’t get through 5km?!  

The Gazelle is striding her way in to graceful success and this Bulldog seems to be grunting and snorting and dragging stubby legs.

I will happily accept any sort of suggestions as to how to get past this hump because I would much prefer to improve rather than move backwards- which is how every run feels lately: I may actually be travelling backwards instead of forwards. I am in a constant state of running “blech”.

The Gazelle asked me if it would really be so bad if I didn’t have to wait for her at the finish line. I said “yes.” 

It might be a little about ego. 

Maybe more than half crazy

My athletic therapist and I had a visit today. I was in pain. My hips were killing me and my knee started to hurt so much that I tapped out during a run (which I never do). She treated my injuries and we talked about my illness in October. 

Suddenly it all made sense.

My comments to friends about not feeling like I’d fully recovered are accurate. I’m not crazy!! (Well, at least not when it comes to that 😆)

I hurt because my body is fighting to stabilize. I’m burning out because my body is still working harder to balance as I run. It makes sense.

I have a half marathon coming up in two weeks and it’s scary. The finisher’s gift last year for that half marathon was a blanket. That blanket was with me in the hospital. It was a reminder that I am strong, even when I couldn’t stand up on my own. There is an importance to completing this half marathon: a year ago it was the first one I ever ran, my cousin helped start it, and it’s blanket comforted me when I was at my weakest. But, it’s scary to know that my body isn’t 100%. It’s scary to have to change the goals from personal bests to merely finishing. It’s scary to wonder if my body will fail or be strong. The unknown is frightening. 

I feel determined to finish, even if I have to crawl. 

6 months ago, I couldn’t stand on my own. It was months before I could run without tipping over.  In two weeks, I will challenge that same body to run 13.1. 

Undertrained

Wobbly.

Weaker than I’d like. 

But determined, and maybe stubborn enough to get through. 

The Land of Broken Training Sessions

Well, that was fun. And by fun I mean frustrating and annoying.

I have a race in a week so I figured before I started easing back, I’d better get a brick session in. I haven’t done one in a while and I should probably remember what that horrible jelly legs feels like.  So, off I go! And my cycle is feeling pretty good. I’m givin’er on the hills and they’re finally not feeling like death. I’m a happy camper and then WAIT! What was that???

RESCUE #1

I have a flat. On the side of the highway 4km in to my ride. The good news– at least I was down the hill before I ran in to the problem. The bad news– it was a terrible way to wreck the fabulous momentum I had. So, I get off the bike and call the husband for rescue because the last thing I want to be doing is fighting with changing a tire on the side of a busy highway.

We get back and find the hole and patch it because it turns out that the backup tube in my kit is way too large for my bike. Good thing we figured this out now and not mid-race when I was desperate.

Fixed up! Good to go!

Back on the road…

I’m not feeling quite as fabulous but I’m ready to go on attempt #2. I head out on the highway and I’m not flying at quite the speed I was, but hey, at least I’m going. Get to the turnaround spot, wait for the tons of traffic to pass and head on home. It’s a bit windy but overall beautiful and my patch is holding so yay!

All of a sudden I hear a noise and look up just in time to see a cooler lid come flying off the back of someones truck. ACK!

“please don’t hit me …please don’t hit me…”  whew! It lands on the highway. but WAIT! There’s another car about drive over it.  “please don’t fling it at me…please don’t fling it at me…” and it just stays put until the next car hits it and here comes the cooler lid flying right at me! And it just misses my back tire by a matter of inches. Yikes.

At this point I figure “that’s two”…I’d better get back before I end up with a third thing going wrong.

In the distance I can see them…the dark looming clouds. We’ll call it motivation  to pick up my pace and get going. I figure I have lots of time. I figure wrong. I feel the first few drops and sigh. Well, at least I won’t over heat

RESCUE #2

And then it hits. The WALL OF RAIN…awesome. I’m still more than 5km from home and I am getting pelted by rain. I chuckle a bit because rain seems to be the theme of this year’s tri season for me. And then I stop chucking. The rain has picked up and I can no longer see anything. It’s pouring and the semi-truck drivers are pulling over to the side for a minute. I realize that’s it. I can’t do this in this weather. I pull over in to the gas station parking lot and call again for rescue. A couple of flashes of lightening in front of me tell me I made the right decision. All I can do is laugh when the car pulls up to collect me. I look like a drowned rat. I’m completely soaked.


I give up. Today there will be no brick session.

And then the sun came back out.

You have got to be kidding me.

I still give up.

Today is not my day.

 

Set back again

So, wonderful, amazing, high-inducing run and then…crutches. Damn.  I blame the ice in my driveway and the spectacular fall I took. Spectacular because I managed to save my coffee, less than spectacular because, well, crutches.

I tried to tough it out and carry on but by the next day I couldn’t handle it. Too bad the hospital was useless ! The best I got from them was “not fractured. Take the crutches and see a physiotherapist or something if it still hurts in a few days.”  Helpful! Thanks. Going to the physio on Tuesday.

So, here I am, almost a week later and still hobbling around. I have discovered I can cycle without any extra pain so at least now I can do that but I am so frustrated!!! I want to run! 

Today, I figured I could go crutch free around the house. Yeah….not so much. By the time I was done making a lasagna and getting it in the oven, I was done. Couldn’t take any more…back to the crutch..and ice…and sulking on the couch.

So much for great training sessions and a rocking bikini body for my vacation in 11 days ☹️

This seems to be the year of the injury. 
  

The good, the bad and the ugly training day

Today was one of those days. I just didn’t want to do anything. I’ve been having pain in my feet so I didn’t want to run, I’m tired so I didn’t want to swim and I’m stressed from trying to get the school play ready for performance so I just wanted to stress eat.

Today’s swim was not good. Ugly, even. I was slow and completely unmotivated. I did my sprint distance -barely- and was a good solid minute slower than usual. My lovely friend did her best to assure me that not every day has to be the best but I’m competitive and I hate not doing my best.

And then it came to the evening and I was supposed to run. And I didn’t want to. What I really wanted to do was drink wine and eat chocolate. But that same lovely friend reminded me that even a short run would be helpful- especially considering I had just ordered a new bikini. So, down I went to my treadmill.

And it was good. 

  

 My smile says it all. It was the right decision to go for a run.  And, as it turns out it wasn’t a short one.  I set a new distance record of 15.3km. The best part is that I know I could have kept going. I had more in the tank. That half marathon distance isn’t so far off after all. 

And now I need to go ice my very sore feet

Back in the saddle

It’s been a while. I’ve been slacking. I wish I had a good reason but the truth is, I don’t. The things that took up my time for training are done and have been for a couple weeks but I just didn’t get back to training. 

 

chain came off 20 seconds in
 
Part of me has been a little depressed and instead of taking advantage of the best anti-depressant, I avoided it.  So, today, I seized the opportunity to get back in the game. I couldn’t decide if I was going to run or bike. So, instead of picking one and doing the logical thing and easing myself back into training, I went for the dreaded brick session.  And not even a gentle one. Full sprint distance brick session. I really can’t do anything half way. Part of me is glad for that. Throwing myself head first in to things is something I really like about myself. I get to really get the most out of a lot of experiences. And while this feels amazing right now, I’m sure I’m going to regret this in the morning. The downside to my “all or nothing” tendency is that there’s usually a consequence. And this one is going to hurt a bit. At least it’s good pain. 

feeling good about those times
  
My times were decent, my body felt good and I was reminded that I really do enjoy this. 

Training is amazing therapy.  

finally smiling after an awesome session

Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned    

This training thing is hard! Especially when you are busy as hell, have an active job and tend to overbook yourself (who? Me? Never!!!…well, ok, maybe).

Sometimes, for those of us who like to “push” ourselves, the days when your body refuses to cooperate are really frustrating. My body is exhausted! Yesterday, I actually skipped a run because I was pretty much down for the count at 6pm. Today, I had a brick session planned. I’ve got this new format where I alternate cycling and running for 20 mins, then 10, then 5. It keeps my short attention span from wandering. Today, I pretty much thought I was going  to collapse in the first cycle session. My legs were screaming some at me, using colourful language, I’m sure and I just wanted to quit! But I didn’t, I kept going, whimpering and whining the whole time. I finished my brick session and then sat down, frustrated and annoyed that I couldn’t just do what I wanted. But guess what?? Sometimes it just doesn’t go as planned. I still did the workout. I have to remember that the only bad workout is the one you didn’t do. And right now, I’m working hard to remind myself because my legs are burning, they’re a little shakey and I feel like lead! And, of course, I have a play rehearsal to get to.

Sometimes “I trained and didn’t die” really is success.

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