Category Archives: Triathlon

My First Triathlon- DONE!

Well, I did it! Officially conquered my first triathlon today. 

I’m a big fan of inspirational quotes, and one that has always stuck with me is from Ralph Waldo Emerson- “Always do what you are afraid to do.” Now, I can safely say I followed his advice!

So let me start from the very beginning. I set my alarm nice and early (5:50) and crawled out of bed for some coffee and 2 pieces of whole wheat toast with my newest creation- (I’m going to call it Amazing Almond Nutella, recipe soon to come!) and a banana for good measure.

 

Toast with Amazing Almond Nutella

Toast with Amazing Almond Nutella

I tripled checked my list of supplies (didn’t forget anything- phew!), and soon we were off. My mom, dad, and I crammed into my dad’s truck because it’s the only car we have big enough for the bike, so it was a bit cozy as we drove over. Luckily, we didn’t have to go too far as the race was right in Lowell.

I checked in, got my race bib and loot (another t-shirt! SCORE!!), and went into the transition area to set up and get marked.

checkin

I didn’t really have any in-depth system to laying out my things. Mostly, I just tried to copy what everyone around me was doing. 

After that, I went to watch the start of the Olympic distance group- they began an hour before the sprint was set to go. This is when things went south for me, mentally/emotionally. First it’s important to note that on this course, the Olympic was doing pretty much double whatever the Sprint distance did- they did 2 loops of the bike course while we only did 1, and they had to run twice as far. SOO, it stood to reason that they would have to swim twice as far too. And looking out at their course, I started freaking out because just 1 loop of the course of buoys they had to swim looked WAY TOO FREAKIN’ far for me to swim. I started panicking- it looked so much farther than .25 miles! I honestly felt like I was going to throw up (or cry.).

The olympic men getting warmed up. Watching, I start freaking out.

The olympic men getting warmed up. Watching, I start freaking out.

The olympic distance men's wave begins!

The olympic distance men’s wave begins!

 

Feeling doomed, I went to put on my wetsuit and go to the beach for a little warm-up swim. As I was hanging out with other folks doing the sprint distance, I overheard people talking about the course WE would have to swim, and finally realized I was not going to have to swim the full loop- turns out the loop is half a mile, and the Olympic group was doing it twice for a full mile-long swim. I breathed a sigh of relief, and felt reassured. I could do this.

My wave, warming up!

My wave, warming up!

Before I knew it, we were off! After hearing numerous horror stories about getting kicked in the face, swum over, and having panic attacks in the water, I decided to play it safe, starting towards the back of the pack and a bit on the side. I just wanted to be able to do my thing, and I knew I wasn’t going to break any swimming records!

My wave!

My wave!

And I actually passed some people (my dad counted 7 people that I passed while watching me with binoculars!). That gave me a serious mental boost, and while I was one of the last ladies out of the water, I did manage to catch up to a couple of men from the previous wave! Not too shabby. 

Here I come!

Here I come!

Then it was time for transition! I was pretty flustered, trying to quickly change out of my wetsuit without falling over. My plan was to do a vanilla GU before the bike, but with my wet hands, I could only get it half open, so I took one swallow through the partial opening, and considered it good enough.

In T1

In T1

 

off i go1

Off to bike 11 miles I went!

I’m going to be completely honest. I totally underestimated the biking. I had done some rides in and around the neighborhoods near my house, but it wasn’t the best prep for this course. Tight turns in the neighborhoods kept me from really building up any speed, and apart from a couple, sudden, steep hills, the course I trained on was relatively flat. This course had long, straight stretches that I tried to pedal hard on, but it also had a number of long, gradual hills. HILLS, THE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE! Well, I tried on those hills. I really did. I put my bike in the easiest gear and I pedaled as hard as I could, and I barely. Moved. Yeah, mountain bikes are really not made for speed. People whizzed by me on their super-fancy, light road bikes. But everyone was so nice and supportive- one guy told me I was doing great and to keep it up.  I guess I looked like I needed a bit of encouragement.

My legs were shot when I rolled in for the second transition. But I was happy. The bike was done and all I had left was to run 3 miles. 3 miles?!  Psshh, that’s hardly enough to warm up!

I'm dismounting!

I’m dismounting!

I finished my gel from earlier, guzzled some Gatorade mixed with water, switched my helmet for a hat, and got going.

I head off to run 3 miles

I head off to run 3 miles

My pace starting out felt incredibly slow, but I didn’t stress about it. I was going to finish this triathlon, and THAT was all I really wanted. I passed a few people, reached the turnaround point, and finally started heading back. The end was within sight! And that is when a niggling pain in my left knee really started rearing its ugly head. I’ve run on tired legs before (the end of a half-marathon, for example!), but this was the toughest pain I have ever run through. I just tried to focus on my mantra- “Light, quick, relaxed” (ie, what I want my form to be!). It didn’t help that a few times I felt my Gatorade almost come back up- I think I may have drunk too much too quickly. But luckily, it stayed down and I avoided the trauma of upchucking.

Finally, I could see the Finish archway, and I pushed to give it all I had. And I did it. I completed my first triathlon. YES!!!

About to finish!

About to finish!

After hanging out a bit and sampling a free Greek yogurt swirled with caramel, we packed up my stuff, and went to a diner for a post-race breakfast. 2 chocolate chip buttermilk pancakes and a side of scrambled eggs for me. I was ravenous, and absolutely devoured the deliciousness. (I had taken pics of the yummy food, but I think I accidentally deleted them. Oops.)

after

After a shower, it was time for an ice pack for my knee and a little couch action.

post tri

Words cannot describe how I feel. This was such a different experience for me, and I really started to freak out there in the beginning. BUT I DID IT. I didn’t drown or hyperventilate on the swim, didn’t crash my bike, and I ran the whole 3 miles (except when I had a little water at the water stop. But that was a really short break, so it doesn’t count )

On to the next adventure! (After I rest a little more, of course.)

4 Comments

Filed under Races, Triathlon

Keep Calm and TriathlON!

Hey there,

Keep Calm and TriathlON- what I’ve been trying to do today! At this point, I’m excited and ready to go.  And maybe just a tad nervous… 

I tried not to do anything too strenuous today, but I did want to keep my legs active to avoid feeling flat tomorrow. So, I went for a leisurely 10 mile bike ride around 9 am. It was gorgeous out- there was a nice breeze, and plenty of bikers/joggers/walkers were out enjoying the sun as well. It was a pretty nice change after the past rainy days.

When I got back, I tested the wetsuit on a short swim again. I wanted to practice getting OUT of the suit as quickly as possible. Not the easiest thing in the world, let me tell ya! 

After that, I just took it easy today, reading and cooking. I made a delicious pre-race fueling meal of pasta carbonara. I made some substitutions to make it a bit lighter (skim milk instead of heavy cream, etc…) This was what my mom and I ate before our first half-marathon ever, and it seemed to work well for us then! Hopefully, it’ll do the job tomorrow.

Pre-Triathlon Dinner!

Pre-Triathlon Dinner!

carbload2

As I was cooking, I made a list of all the supplies I’ll need for tomorrow to calm my anxieties about forgetting stuff. It’s hard to do a triathlon without a bike or running sneakers. 

tri checklist

Wish me luck! I’ll be posting about how it goes (if I’m not too tired! And assuming, I survive the swim!)

1 Comment

Filed under Training, Triathlon

Taking a mental chill pill

Hey there 

So yesterday, as planned, I accomplished my first brick workout- a 10 mile bike ride followed by a 20 minute run (roughly 2 miles, I’m guessing).

I knew it wasn’t going to be super easy to run after biking that distance, but SERIOUSLY! OUCH. I cruised down my street after finishing up the biking portion, already mentally celebrating being almost done with the workout- a 20 minute run? EASY AS CAKE.

I traded my helmet for a baseball cap (to hide my embarrassingly sweaty hair), chugged some water, and set off. 3 minutes later, I was huffing and puffing. The mental celebration quickly changed to mentally cursing myself. I may have even questioned whether I would be able to run the full 3 miles on the actual day. The doubts were swirling, and I was not in a happy place.

After roughly 7 minutes, my legs did loosen up, and it wasn’t HORRIBLE. It sure wasn’t pleasant though. In fact, it was nowhere in the vicinity of the pleasantness spectrum. I don’t think it helped that my legs were still a little fatigued from my 15 mile ride the day before. Oops.

BUT I GOT IT DONE. I gutted out that 20 minute run, surviving to run another day! The heat was really bad again, but I think with some cooler temps on race day, I should be able to make it. I’ve already registered, so I’ve got to at least “tri” (har har har, I love me some good triathlon puns! )

In the evening, I was lucky enough to get to hang out with a couple of my girlfriends! My friend had the idea to do something a little different from our usual routine of just hanging out at each other’s houses- we went bowling. Let me just say, I am a terrible bowler. Absolutely dreadful. Thank god for the bumpers!

Here I am, about to bowl a strike! Just kidding.

Here I am, about to bowl a strike! Just kidding.

While my bowling skills leave a little something to be desired, it was pretty fun to just relax and NOT think about something triathlon/running-related for a while. Instead, I focused on my trash-talking skills.

Unfortunately, this didn’t help my game, as I lost quite soundly.

The final score... Note that I came in last.

The final score… Note that I came in last.

After the bowling, we went back to my friend’s house and made a grilled veggie pizza! Homemade pizza is a regular staple in my cooking at home, so it was fun to introduce my friend (and her family!) to my tips/tricks for a delicious (and healthier) pizza than the ones you get from fast-food restaurants.

Pizza made up for my failure as a bowler.

Pizza made up for my failure as a bowler.

All in all, it was a super fun evening, and a wonderful way to kickback from the morning’s tough workout. I feel mentally refreshed and ready for my tapering week before the big triathlon on Sunday!

2 Comments

Filed under Training, Triathlon

Swim, Bike, Run, EAT

Hi again!

Triathlon training is officially in full swing.

Yesterday, my mom and I went for a swim at our local pond again. It was gorgeous- the water was warm, the birds were singing, and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It was very serene.

Calm, tranquil swim

Calm, tranquil swim

Totally peaceful.

Totally peaceful. (I’m the speck in the middle!)

Do I have good form? No idea, but at least I'm floating!

Do I have good form? No idea, but at least I’m afloat!

Probably nothing like the swim I’m going to experience 1 week from Sunday.

Oh. My. God. What have I gotten myself into?!

Oh. My. God. What have I gotten myself into?!

BUT I REFUSE TO DWELL ON MY FEARS!

After coming home, my mom whipped up some stuffed zucchini for dinner, using a leftover stir-fry of tofu, pesto, sundried tomatoes, chicken, and onions, which we mixed with some breadcrumbs, and topped with parmesan cheese. [Recipe to come!] It was the perfect post-swim workout meal.

zuchinistuffed3

Today, I continued the triathlon training with a long bike ride. We’ve been in a heat wave for about a week so far, and the forecast was calling for a high of 99 degrees today. Absolute craziness for New England! I made the best of it by getting up at 6 am for my ride. It was great! There were next to no cars on the road that early, and I got to see at least 4 bunnies at one point on my ride! They were nibbling away at their breakfast of grass, looking super adorable. I really wanted to scoop one up to bring home to be my pet, but I resisted the urge. 

These were the bunnies I saw! At least, they bore a striking resemblance.

These were the bunnies I saw! At least, they bore a striking resemblance.

I did 15 miles total, not too shabby for someone fairly new to biking! When I was done, I was a sweaty, quivery mess. My plan is to try a “brick” workout tomorrow- meaning, I’m going to try to run after biking 8 or 9 miles to get the feel of what it’s like for my leg muscles to switch to running after biking. The best I can hope for is that my legs will adjust after 10 minutes or so of running, and I will be fine. The worst that could happen is that I fall flat on my face. So we’ll have to wait and see!

After coming back from my ride, I cooled off with a tall glass of half Gatorade/half water and a bowl of blackberries and strawberries topped with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt. Nothin’ like a little Greek yogurt to celebrate a good bike ride!

berrybreakfast1gatorade

 

 

Now I am relaxing in the air-conditioning, happy that I got my workout in before the heat of the day. You know what they say- “the early bird gets the worm!”

1 Comment

Filed under Training, Triathlon