Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Last Blast Lincoln Y Tri Race Report

Sunday September 15th was my one and only Triathlon for the season.  An Olympic distance, Last Blast was out at the Branched Oak Reservoir and had about 76 participants in that distance and another 35 in the Super Sprint.  An added 15 people rounded out the day competing as 3 man teams.

I had trained with my husband, using a free, 12 week plan from Garmin, and added my own strength training plan. David and I both felt that our fitness increased and we were challenged but not impossibly overwhelmed by the Intermediate plan.  Unfortunately, I was very sick the two days prior and the day of the race.  I was more sad to miss the experience with my husband than to miss the raceitself. :(  

David was nice enough to write up a race report for the blog.  Here it is, my husband David guest posting today and giving us his take on the Last Blast Lincoln Y Tri!

Last Blast Olympic Triathlon

Well, perhaps I should call this First Blast as this was actually my very first organized triathlon event/race.  It did not seem odd to me to just skip right to the Olympic distance for my first event, I’m not entirely sure if that was the best decision.

With any outdoor event, people tend, or you think they would, watch the weather forecasts to try and plan or have some expectations about the weather.  Well, I’m kind of a weather fan so I watch it on a regular basis pretty closely and for an event like this I start checking it out 15 days in advance.  The weather was looking grim.  Very cold and rainy.  As it turned out, we had thunderstorms starting in the early morning and temperatures around 60 degrees.   There was quite a fear of a delayed start, but around 6:30 the rain stopped and didn’t represent itself throughout the day thankfully and we started on-time at 8:00 am.

1500 Meter Swim

Because of the cooler weather, the water temperature was 76 which made it wetsuit legal, wish I’d had one.  Perhaps a little less than half of the participants did for the Olympic distance (there was also a separate Super Sprint distance event).  It was a mass-start for the our event, though wasn’t too bad as there were only about 80 participants total.  We waded out to about knee deep to the water to prepare for the start.  

The horn sounded and everyone trudged to deeper water.  Initially, as I’ve read in other reports, people being close together have a tendency to swim in to each other and flail some arms and legs at each other.  There wasn’t too much of this, but everyone was all like “excuse me”, or “oh, pardon me”.  That was very considerate.  

After about ten minutes is when I began to have some difficulties.  I won’t pull anything here, I totally had a panic attack during the swim.  This was really my first open water swim.  I’ve swam in lakes before, in the designated swim area.  These areas are deemed “safe” and being tall, I could always touch the bottom.  As I swam out away from the shore the marker buoys seemed so far away that they were even hard to see.  I’ve swam well over this distance countless times in the pool, but here out in the middle of the lake I started to freak out, badly.  I came seriously close to waving in a kayak and calling the day to a quick end.  I stopped and back stroked, and breast stroked, and let my heart settle.  I decided to keep going.

Finally I made it around the first turn and regrouped.  I began to swim and was doing ok.  I made it to the next buoy and though the swim course was a giant triangle, this was instead just a sight buoy and I had to continue on again for another couple hundred yards before I could turn back toward home.  I made it to the next fairly well and turned finally back toward to shore.  About halfway back to shore I was feeling very bad about my bad swim performance that was really a mental issue.  I just wanted to be done with the swim.  I struggled in to shore, I had made it without calling the race, but with a horrible time.  

Still, this race will instantly be a PR for me as it is my first!  Here are some good things that came out of the swim:  I did not drown, I encountered zero lake inhabitants, the other racers were nicer than I expected.  I will be MUCH more prepared mentally next time (yes, I’ll do it again).

26 Mile Bike

After a pretty good transition, I made it out on the bike.  I don’t have a fancy bike but I’ve had it for a while and it has served me very well for what I paid for it.  It’s not exactly a road bike, but a straight-bar bike with road tires.  Having just crawling out of the lake, I was cold.  It was about 59 degrees and the wind was picking up.  I passed on grabbing my jacket and a little uncomfortably cold.  

The bike course was two times around the Branched Oak Lake reservoir.  My wife and I had been saying for a couple of weeks that we should go out and at least drive the course if not ride it, but we didn’t make it.  This was a bummer.   I found the bike course surprisingly hilly.  The best part was that having two loops, you get to repeat the same hills again!  The hills weren’t too high, but they were fairly regular.  

I like riding my bike and passed a couple of people, which made me feel much better after the previous segment.  The second time around the wind really started to pick up which adds to the fun when climbing hills.  As everyone knows, when riding a bike, the wind is always in your face!  I warmed up on the bike, and dried off too and was feeling better.  

I had planned my fluids and nutrition on hot weather that didn’t come, so I had lots of fortified water.  Still I knew that I was expending a lot of effort so tried to take in as much as I could.  I didn’t have any equipment failures, flats or other malfunctions on the bike.  Riding around the lake was beautiful, even on an overcast day.  Because this was a weekend in a State Park, it wasn’t a closed course so we had to try and avoid being hit by RVs, gigantic trucks pulling trailers and boats.  Fun stuff.  

10K Run

So, enter sub-event three of the day, the run.  I had fully recovered after my disappointing swim and felt much better on the bike.  Still, the bike course was pretty hilly.  I was starting to feel the fatigue of the day, and perhaps some age.  I had a very successful transition, in fact I was very pleased with both of them.  I strapped on my cap, running shoes, swallowed a drink of water, grabbed a gel and took off.  I had about a 100 yard run on grass to get to the street.  The grass was still wet and slippery from the rain a couple of hours earlier.  Starting on the run was a little bit of a struggle getting my legs moving, but I was pleased that I didn’t suffer much.  The run course soon branched off of the main paved road to a side gravel out-and-back.  Well, it was supposed to be graveled, but the rock was sparse and the earlier downpours had left it very muddy and quite disappointing.   There were also a couple of sizable hills in the first half too.  During the entire run there were others returning on the same route (on the other side) and they were all very encouraging to “Keep Going,” “You’re doing great!” and “Almost there.”  In all three legs, the other participants were the best part of the event.  

After the completing half of the run on the hilly dirt road, the rest returned to the paved route.  There were two water-only stops on the run course, once halfway through the mud slog and the other at the last turn around spot about mile 4.  

I was most pleased that I didn’t stop and walk once during the run, despite the tiredness, hills, mud and the whole day.  I trudged on, my run time wasn’t fabulous, but it wasn’t a disaster either.

When returning to the transition area at the end of the run there were a disappointing number of bikes remaining still.  Oh well.  Like I knew at the beginning, this was a PR Baby!   I was very thankful that I had not suffered any injury nor significant pain throughout the day.  I didn’t even drown!  Shortly after completing and stopping the Garmin Tracking app on my phone I got some very wonderful messages from my wonderful wife.   I missed her throughout the day as she was supposed to have competed as well, but had been in significant pain recently and could not participate or even able to spectate.  

I think next year we will both be in better shape to take on the Last Blast Lincoln Triathlon at Branched Oak Reservoir.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Food Shaming

Sugar is poison.  Aspartame is poison.  Fat is bad for you, carbs are bad for you.  You should only eat organic produce, meat and dairy.  You should never eat meat and dairy.  Vegan, Vegetarian, Omivorous, Paleo, Low-Carb, Locavore.  
What you eat, says more about you than it ever should.  What you feed your kids and what you choose for your family can even make you the subject of other people's conversations.
I admit it.  I've done it.  I've seen the woman in the grocery store, pushing a cart full of sugared cereal, TV dinners, bottles of pop and bags of chips with her children grabbing candy bars and sodas at the check out.  I have judged that woman and felt like she wasn't giving herself or her children a chance in life by eating that way.  I've even gone so far in my mind as accusing her of neglecting her duties as a mother by feeding her family that way.

No matter what the situation is, we all have a thoughts on food choices.  In fact, what other people put in their grocery carts, and in their mouths is a multi-million dollar topic of interest to us.  We watch shows about cooking, we buy cook books and diet books and there's always a new set of  rules on the right way to eat.  Even folks who never count calories or monitor their nutrition, likely have opinions about the freaky people that do.

The problem arises when we start to feel somewhat superior for the choices that we make.  We look at others, not in our "group" with pity or even disdain.  We shake our heads and sigh, knowing that our way is the best way.  We may even make passive-aggressive clip art to try to get our point across.  Food is much like money, in that it is an inanimate object.  It is neither good nor is it bad.  It is what it is until you consume it.  And consuming such doesn't change the worth of the person just as the amount of money a person has is not indicative of their worth.

Since losing weight and quitting smoking several years ago, I have become a tireless supporter of good health.  I have tried every eating plan and can safely tell you that, for me, good old-fashioned moderation seems to work out best.  I eat a ton of fruit and veg, drink gallons of water, lots of whole grains and a small portion of meat and dairy each day.  I eat real butter, real sugar, and the least refined versions of oils and the like that I can afford.  I also can't afford organics.  I'm sure they really are all they are cracked up to be - but it's just outrageously expensive to shop that way.

Even these, seemingly healthy and moderate choices, come under fire from one source or another.  There is always some school of thought that argues with you.  I've even seen arguments for my Moderation Diet that say eating very strictly 6 days per week with one "cheat" day is better.  I guess in the end it's about the same, right?

When we aren't feeling superior about our food choices, we are busy trying to shock people into eating differently.  I've never seen the documentary Meet Your Meat, and I don't need to.  I understand that eating meat involves killing it.  Killing a living creature involves blood.  I'm okay with that.  The only thing watching that film would do, is make me feel that I was a bad person for wanting to eat meat.  I can pick something else to feel bad about.  Cheeseburgers taste to good to feel bad.

Other that superiority complexes and shock tactics, there is plain overt shaming.  Articles, photos, headlines and books all designed to make you feel like an out of control freak for eating out of the lines on the diet of the month.  Words like responsibleconscientious, thoughtful, kind and clean all serve to remind us that if your food hasn't been harvested, massaged, sang to and raised less than 10 miles away, you are a filthy, irresponsible, inconsiderate, jackass.

"WHAT!?  You eat processed, non-organic carbs!?  *breath sucking in*  I can't believe it, I thought you were a healthy eater!  Don't you know that those will make your blood boil, your bones turn to chalk and your all your hair fall out?  And worst of all it makes you stupid and MEAN!  We can no longer be friends."

I realize that's a bit of a stretch - but it's the attitude we convey on a whole.  In a world that works so hard to accept every color, creed, professional path and lifestyle choice, I'm sorry to observe that we are psychotic jerks about something as simple as food.   

For myself, I do it on my own.  I perceive being judged and feel sad about it.  I think that others are thinking about what I'm thinking and think that they think I'm bad.  

Wait.  What?

Exactly.  No more.  I refuse to make myself feel bad, or let any other person, media or idea make me feel bad for fueling my body.  I will maintain a positive attitude AND endeavor to uplift others in their nutrition decisions.  After all, change starts with me!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ups and Downs

First, a couple of cute things said by our 4yo son, Cameron.

"I'm done with getting dressed.  I'm going to stay in my underwear now."

--During yoga with me "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?  Yah, I should definitely buy a cow when I grow up."

I'm trying to soak up every single minute that I have with him this year.  He will start Kindergarten in 2014, so I am counting my blessings!

On to the fish oil experiment.  David and I started taking Fish Oil pills last Friday.  We've taken them before, but not for a purpose other than "because they're good for you."  I did some research on the fat burning qualities and decided to begin taking 6g per day split into 3 doses with meals.

I began a bit conservatively to avoid any digestive upset.  I've not had much luck with my guts lately, so I started with just 3g per day on Saturday.  On Sunday and Monday I took 6g and by Monday night I realized a strange thing.  I felt pretty good.  Like in my brain good.

I don't mean to be a drama queen, but I force happiness much of the time.  I'm prone to depression, just a little bit, and that's why I eat right, exercise and get my daily dose of God's word.  Still, I tend to stuff not feeling right way down deep.  On Monday I could tell that I was feeling "happy."  Things that would have normally bothered me that day didn't trouble me at all.

David and I decided that even if it was a placebo effect, it was still worth taking the pills.  Fish Oil is pretty inexpensive - we got two 100 capsule bottles at Wal-Mart for $16.95.  That's a cheap anti-depressant...and it won't make me gain weight or be hung over like other methods...

I managed to find that my practical experience was indeed backed up by some scientific research.  A quick Google search showed plenty of opinions that point to my same findings.  Heck, even Dr. Weil recommends it.  It's safe, cheap and does the trick, I'll take it.

In other news, after the worst brick workout of my life on Sunday, I had to cut a swim short on Monday.  Yesterday I ran, but had to stop for some abdominal pain - I finished but it wasn't a good day yesterday.   Today I erroneously got up and lifted.  I'm having some of the same problems that were cured 5 years ago by Our 4th Miracle.  I spoke to a very nice nurse yesterday that agreed that we need to get me in ASAP to get things looked at.

And no, there won't be a 5th Little Miracle.

So, that's it.  Eleven days til my redemption race of the 2013 season and I am having to much pain to train.   I don't know why God does this stuff the way he does - but He does.  I'll be glad to get some symptom relief, but hope things will hold off till after the 15th.  I sure would like to look back at this year with SOME sort of pride over my athletic accomplishments.

At least I have the fish oil thing keeping my brain from exploding.  That's always good.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September Freakishness

Goodbye August, hello September!
Hello Autumn, hello soups and casseroles, long sleeved shirts, the smell of wood burning stoves, hello off -season.  I started out September with a terrible nights sleep followed by the most difficult workout of the last 10 weeks of training. 

My ride wasn't too bad, other than the wind.  That died down about halfway through and was replaced by rain in the last 6 miles.  My run was another story.  I got almost to the 3 mile turnaround and walked twice. As I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other I zoned out and had sort of a dizzy feeling towards the end.  Heart rate data indicates that my body was really struggling, not just my mind. 

Pushing myself to exhaustion on a run on a Sunday morning makes me, once again The Freak in the Room.  My husband has had fun with this designation since I read Meredith's post over at Swim Bike Mom.  She talks about how being a triathlete makes her a little different.  From making strange food choices, to leaving social gatherings at 7pm to get to bed early for the next days early workout, being an athlete in training makes you a little...different.

While I can totally relate with this, I would also offer that all of us feel that way at one time or another.  Holding on to your Freak-dom only serves to isolate you and make you feel more alone and separated from everyone.  One of the major things you learn as a small child is to focus on how we are alike, not how we are different.  Choosing to hang your hat on labels and differences voluntarily makes you the Freak in the Room.

I've been thinking a lot about this very topic.  I don't have any friends that do what I do.  I train mostly alone and rely on internet groups to discuss sport.  Frankly, I'm a little short on friends, period.  I sometimes feel that other women don't really know what to talk about with me.  I don't feel like I can eat any treats at pot-lucks or Sunday school, and there's always the question of "did you ride/run here" when I show up at a social event.

It's a great thing to be known for.  But did you know that I like most of the things that every other woman likes?  I worry about how my hair looks, I like chocolate, and I have a bad back.  My ankles swell horrifically in the heat, I get migraine headaches and I don't always feel like drinking my water.  My kids are so awesomely cute and they drive me nuts.  

If I had any friends, I would try to mostly talk about normal stuff.  I promise.  But if you want to go for a run or ride, that'd be cool also. :)