Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Mock Mini Sprint Triathlon (Free Tips Included!)

June 14 - my flight arrived in Denver, two days before the sprint triathlon. I was the last of the four sisters to arrive due to work obligations. The weather was amazing - 80's and dry during the day, but cooling rapidly in the evening.

Tip 1: Give yourself as much time as possible (ideally a few days) to acclimate to the higher altitude if your training was done at a lower altitude than the race. Drink more water than usual. Everyone says this, I know, but that's because it is really important.

My sister is one of the smartest people I know, and it was her idea for us to practice a very abbreviated sprint triathlon the day before the event. It gave the newbies in the group a chance to practice the transitions, and gave us out-of-towners a chance to get familiar with our loaned gear.

Tip 2: Have a smart sister and/or friend competing in the same race who can think of stuff like this. In lieu of this, ensure that you schedule your own mini rehearsal run.

June 15 - We went to the local YMCA with the bikes loaded onto my sister's Jeep. We practiced putting our wetsuits on, which felt very awkward at first. For the two newbies, it would be our first time swimming in a wetsuit. The extra buoyancy it gave was great. We swam a couple of laps, then ran out of the pool to our staging area.

Tip 3: Pull as much wetsuit material into the chest area as you can, or else you will be fighting the suit while you are swimming. Every little bit helps.  Pull, pull, pull.

Stripping off the wetsuit took longer than I thought it would, and I was surprised at how dizzy I was and how difficult it was to balance. I was probably still adjusting to the altitude. I quickly toweled off and tossed my shorts and shirt on top of the wetsuit. I pulled on my socks and shoes, put on my helmet, and hopped on the bike. After strapping my feet securely onto the pedals, I took off...and promptly fell over.

Tip 4: If you aren't used to them, don't full strap down your shoes until you have some momentum to keep your balance. On race day, I actually didn't fully tighten them, which worked fine.

After disengaging my feet from the pedals and getting back up, I got on my bike again, this time waiting to tighten the straps until I was riding slowly. It took some coordination to reach down and tighten each one, but I got the hang of it.

We rode a few miles around neighborhood roads. I enjoyed using an actual road bike (all of my training had been in spinning class or on my rusty hybrid bike). Changing the gears was different and took some getting used to. It also was a lot more sensitive to turning than I was used to, and it took some time to be able to stand and ride without wobbling.

After sightseeing some of Boulder's neighborhoods, we returned to the Jeep and dismounted from our bikes. A few laps around the parking lot completed our mini sprint tri.

Tip 5: At least practice running just a short distance after biking before the actual event. Running feels different for the first few minutes after being on the bike. Your legs don't feel quite like your own.

The practice run did a lot to help me feel more confident about the transitions between the events. I had a better idea of the things to look out for (i.e. not falling off the bike).

Monday, June 3, 2013

Weekly Goals #12

1.  Write and mail letter to my grandma.  Report: Done! Writing it down here really helped to motivate me to do it.

2.  Get large cup of water every lunch time at work and finish it by the time I leave for the day.   Report: I believe I did this about 3 of the 5 days.

3.  Finish painting living room wall.  Report: Nope. Still not painted

4.  Get new shower curtain. (I need to just do this so I am writing this down).  Report: I refreshed our existing one with a good wash with bleach. Looks as good as new (almost).

5.  Listen to 4 TED talks and 1 Ravi Zacharias podcast.    Report: Done, plus some extra RZ talks. I really respect him. I got to hear him speak at my college once before. He's one of the best Christian apologists I know of.

6. Go on one trail run. The sprint tri run portion will be on dirt, so I would like to practice. Plus, trail runs are great and they kick my butt.   Report:  Err, sort of but not really. I did a regular run but tried to run on the grass more.

7. Go on one 18+ mile bike ride outside.  Report: I think it was 14 miles, but that was OK.

8. Be good to myself, especially this weekend. I will probably be working a lot t his week, and want to make sure I don't allow the stress to wear me down. This is kind of a vague goal, but I know how I feel when I am kind to my body and mind.  Report:  It was a good week :)

9. Go to church either Friday or Sunday. It has been a choppier of weeks since I have gone and I miss it.  Report: I didn't go.  Sigh. Not really any great excuse, other than I just didn't feel like it.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Weekly Goals #11

Report out on last week's goals:

1.  Don't go to the grocery store until next weekend.

Result: Done. I went to the dollar store after work on Friday and picked up some pretzels and salsa, but that doesn't count in my book (I like my book, it's an easy read). It got a little low at the end on groceries, but not bad at all. It encouraged me to finish up stuff that had already been purchased.

2.   Swim, bike, and run at least 1x each ( sprint tri distances...0.5 miles, 17 miles, and 3 miles, respectively). I am considering running an actual 5k race for the run.

Result: done, with personal records for two of them! I swam the half mile in 25 minutes, which is a big improvement considering that my fastest prior time was 27:30. I attribute the speedier strokes from some tips I looked up 15 minutes prior to swimming. They obviously made a significant difference. It is still not a fast time by any means, but for me, it's a great improvement!

The biking was actually a spinning class on Thursday. I had intended to go on a bike ride today, but my legs were sore after yesterday's 5k, so I nixed that idea.

Speaking of 5k, that's how I got my run in this week, with the sweet bonus of an unexpected PR of 25:48. Yeah! Again, nowhere near the fast zone, but an improvement for me, and that really is what counts for this amateur athlete.

3.  Go to one yoga class. I have not been in a few weeks and I miss it.

Result: Just barely fit it in to this week, but done. Those few weeks off were definitely felt as I struggled with some basic poses. Part of it was being tired still from the 5k, but most of it was being out of yoga-shape. I felt great although tired when it was over. Yoga is good stuff. I am looking forward to doing it more once the triathlon is over.

4. Call my old retirement account and close it for good.

Result: done on Tuesday, with (bonus) a check coming my way. 

5. Write back to my grandma. 

Result: not done or even started. For a moment I considered using the excuse of not having any good stationery but realized that was a pretty sad excuse. I just didn't do it.

6.  Plant tomato plants outside. 

Result: did it just a couple of hours ago, but they are all planted. I probably wouldn't have done it if I had not written it down here. 

7. Eat lunch with coworkers at least 2 of the 4 times this week. 

Result: done.

8.  Get a head start in assignments that will be due in the next couple of weeks.

Result: done. I was able to help another coworker with his workload too, which was good. I will still be swamped as the next deadline approaches, but I did what I could this week to get a head start.

9. Remember to stop and pray occasionally. Make it a conscious effort, and eventually it will become a subconscious habit.

Result: not good. Why is prayer so hard to start? I hope as I do it more, it becomes a more instinctive reaction. A habit. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Race Before the Real Race

As part of my sprint triathlon training plan, I wanted to run a 5k race to practice running that distance in a race environment before the actual event. Granted, it will be a different experience completing the 5k on race day after having swam 0.5 miles and biked 17 miles. But, it's as close as I can get without doing a rehearsal sprint tri before the actual event.

The race was good. The course was hilly and it was considerably humid even that early in the morning. Despite this, I did PR at under 26 min.  Hooray! It was a nice confirmation that the shorter but more intense running sessions I have been having for the sprint tri training are working. My body seems to respond better to that type of workout than to sloughing through 10+ mile half-marathon training sessions I did in the past. It's a different type of training for a different type of race, of course, but it is neat to see that my legs can run faster under different circumstances. I was really exhausted during their last mile though and ran it a few seconds' slower than the first two. I finished 6th out of my age group of 31 women and in the top 25% overall of 500 people.

Other than the PR, I also got a sweet race shirt and a door prize of a Moe's gift certificate. A good race indeed.

I have consided doing a practice sprint tri but I probably won't. For one it will take some time to recover from - time that might be better spent training on the individual events. There's only one weekend between this one and race weekend. Also, the pool-to-bike logistics are a little challenging. Finally, I don't think that a full rehearsal will make much of a difference in my time during the actual event. It falls into the "would be nice but not necessary" category. Or, in other words,"Ain't nobody got time for that!"