Monday, July 26, 2010

Like riding a bike? I think not...

It's been a really wierd week. At some point at the end of last week (ironically after a really good monster run), I just lost interest in the whole triathlon thing and my confidence seemed to disappear too. I don't really know what happened to be honest. On Sunday, I just sat around in my running shorts all day and when I finally forced myself to get out there I simply couldn't be bothered and gave up halfway and walked home. I just wasn't having fun. To try and get re-energized we got on Craig's list in the evening and found a perfect road bike for me! I was so excited - we rushed out right away, and brought home a shiny, barely-used Schwinn on Sunday night!

Now...the dictionary says:

like riding a bike
(simile) Said of skill that, once learned, is never forgotten.
 
It doesn't mention anything about road bikes vs. mountain bikes..or fat vs. thin tires...or curly bars. No, the inference of this expression is that biking (in general) is easy, so long as you've done it at some point before. So easy, in fact, that the expression is actually named after it. Anyway, it's a stupid expression. After about a half an hour of wobbling around, nearly falling off and hurting everywhere to get into that uncomfortable, low, crazy-looking position I was so fed up I gave up. I didn't even do 4 miles - it was pathetic. And the pain, oh my God the pain, my hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders - everything just hurt so badly. And the realization after about 5 minutes that I am so far from "tri-ready" just added insult to injury.
 
Here I was, less than two weeks ago, with my mountain bike and hopes and dreams intact...

 
And here is the pesky, bastard bike that is currently my arch enemy...
 

So what now? Well - I'm going to have to learn how to ride it. Apart from the fact that I'm cheap - I'm not ready to abandon the goal just yet. And as my work colleague rightly pointed out I also really hated running when I started this quest to get more active. In fact if I recall I actually hated it more! The triathlon training program (that I have just wasted 7 weeks of my life on) states that it is designed for people who can run 20 minutes, swim 30 mins and bike 30 mins. If that's true - I should be able to start the program again when I can ride my new bike for a half an hour straight without wanting to kill myself. Since I'm on vacation next week anyway (out west so I'll be hiking every day at least), this will be a great opportunity for a nice break from the gym and to refocus on my new objective to conquer the pesky bastard bike when I get back.

Did I really say at the end of my last post "One thing's for sure - if I finish the swim on the day, I'm not going to let a silly bike or run stand between me and the finish line ;)"? How could I have gotten it so wrong? Oh well, I guess life's a journey and all that - I just wish the mode of transportation didn't hurt your crotch quite so much :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Braving the outdoors...

So far I'm managing to keep up with the triathlon training plan which is very exciting! Earlier this week I completed almost 5 hours of training including some things I've never done before such as: a spinning class (which I didn't fall in love with) and biking the 11 mile, beautiful, award-winning Flatwoods trail that I've managed to avoid for the 12 years that I've lived just down the street. Maddy rode the full trail too which totally blew me away! I am actually quite enjoying my bike now that I am not so scared of falling off it and think I may even upgrade to a proper road bike in time for the big day.

I am trying to finish the training plan slightly ahead of schedule so that I can "face my demons" sooner than planned, so this was also the week with the first dreaded 20 minute open water swim. The swim is consistently one of the top reasons that people don't want to do a triathlon, yet it's only about 10-15 minutes long for most first-timers. Apparently swimming in open water is very different than in the comfort and safety of a pool, so we headed out to Fort de Soto this morning so that I could find out for myself.


Lessons learned:

1. It takes a will of steel not to think about what might be underneath you when you are swimming in the ocean...or what happened to that poor Steve Irwin.


2. Warm salty water tastes disgusting and it's hard to breathe when you get hit with a new mouthful every time you make a stroke. Imagine someone throwing a bucketful of miso soup at your face every few seconds.

3. Seawater is full of random, sticky, nasty seaweed - much like miso soup actually.

4. The current is strong, even in calm waters, and it's very difficult to swim against. This becomes more of a problem when combined with #5....

5. My goggles were rubbish and fogged up within seconds so I couldn't actually see anything once I was out in the water. When I finally got them off my head and was able to focus, I'd been swept away quite a bit so it looked like I was miles away from dry land all of a sudden. Like that awful moment in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang...


5. The very last of my problems is whether or not I am able to swim freestyle on the day. There's no shame in being a "breaststroker" - anyone who completes the swim, particularly with 100 or so other people flapping around them, has perfomed a feat worthy of a medal in my opinion.

Dori had it right when she said "just keep swimming, just keep swimming." After about 5-10 minutes I managed to calm down a bit but I was still so grateful when my 20 minutes was up and spent the next hour blowing salty water out of my nose. One thing's for sure - if I finish the swim on the day, I'm not going to let a silly bike or run stand between me and the finish line ;)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mike's a rockstar!

After doing some research, Mike and I decided to do the sensible thing and complete a proper training plan to see how that went before making a firm commitment to sign up for a triathlon. We both liked the look of this one and decided to start at Week 4 to be ready by September:

Triathlon Training Program

On Day Two of the 13 week plan I came home from the gym to find Mike had gotten online and signed up for a triathlon for that weekend! We ended up in the gym on Wednesday doing a run, bike, swim workout to see how the transitions were and reading endless blogs to try and prepare him as much as possible. After very little sleep, we got up at 4:40am this morning and headed out to Crystal River.

You need a USAT license for a triathlon and there are lots of rules to be aware of that can result in disqualification (or a heart attack for that matter). It was really exciting to see everything getting set up while it was still dark. The temperatures were perfect and there was a really nice beach breeze too when we arrived...


You have to wear a swimcap so that they can see when you are drowning. Here's Mikey Boy in his...Check it...Booyakasha!


They write your 'bib' number all over you so that they can identify your body if you don't survive the swim...only kidding - the numbers are so that they can shamelessly rip you off afterwards with the 'post-tri' photos:)

Mike is literally in his underwear...


Don't let the thumbs up deceive you...he's terrified in this picture...


And they're off for the 0.25 mile swim...

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He's done with the swim (incidentally - if there had've been a medal for noisiest spectator...I would have placed for sure:))

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After an OK transition, he's off on his 'pimped up' mountain bike for the next 15 miles...

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Thank God he didn't get a flat (there was no time to figure out how to fix a flat during the 3-day training program). Anyway, he's out for the 3 mile run...nearly there now Mike!...

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And he's in!!!

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It was so amazing to watch and Mike loved his tri experience! His times were fantastic too and he came in 8th out of the First Timers with an overall time of 1:31:12. He said it was the hardest thing he's ever done and promised to stick to a training plan for next time. For me, I am happy to be sleeping with a sexy triathlete but not sure if I'm inspired or terrified! Let's see how the training goes...Congratulations Michael - you have no idea how proud I am of you!