Triathlon Things I’ve Learned Thus Far

So it’s been a long while since I posted last – but nothing like now, especially since my first ever triathlon is TOMORROW! So here’s a rundown of things I’ve discovered since April, 3 months ago.

Not only did I achieve my initial goal of completing at least one 5K road race, I’ve completed 6 races thus far in the past couple months!  Two of them have been with my son.

Me at a 5K finish!

After realizing I was running 5Ks in the mid to low 25s I set a goal of getting below 25:00.  I started to focus my running with a speed workout once a week (such as 8 x 400s in the 1:40s) along with tempo runs and long runs. I achieved my goal – not only below 25:00 but just shy of getting into the 23:00s with a time of 24:02! Speedwork once a week with a great group of friends is an important part of training! I’ve also learned what negative splits are (make the last ones faster than the first ones) and a watch that can track laps has been a good tool to have!

Over the course of 5 months I’ve gone from only being able to run about 2 miles before having knee pain to now being able to run 8 miles with no pain! I credit this success to regular cross-training: gradual run sessions with regular swimming and biking, rest, and good nutrition (still meatless going on 9 months now). I have gradually added run time/distance at a rate of about 10% more per week.

I did my first open water swimming in May – thanks to some wonderful friends. My friend Judy loaned me a wetsuit since I didn’t yet have one of my own. We swam in the same lake where my triathlon will be held. It looked a bit intimidating at first.

“I’m swimming way out there?”

Once we were in the middle of the lake I realized what an inspiring experience this was. Here I am looking like a seal, swimming outside with the sun in view each time I turned to take a fresh breath, and I was with friends with the same goals. We swam out to the marker in the middle and then back – – just under 1 mile!

Friends make it all great!

After a couple open water swims I realized that, yes, I could sign up for the Lost Sailor 1 Mile Swim event at the end of May – in the same lake. It was a great day and not only did I complete this event with a time of 31 minutes, I got to experience the group swimming and it wasn’t so bad!

The pink cap is now a regular – it’s bright and easy to fit over all my hair! The goggles (Aqua Sphere) keep the water out and don’t leave goggle marks on my face!

So happy I completed this!

I went to see my two friends compete in their own triathlon at the beginning of June. While it was a downpour the whole time it was good for me to see a triathlon in action for the first time, especially the transition area.

Homemade smoothies with greens mixed are a great recovery meal/beverage post-workout. They pack incredible nutrition that your muscles will just soak up. You really don’t even notice the greens are in the drink. I make mine with a couple handfuls of fresh kale, along with a tablespoon of chia seeds, frozen blueberries and either plain yogurt or soy milk. What a great way to get taste, nutrition, healthful phytochemicals, carbs and protein to fuel for the next workout.

Joining a triathlon club has been helpful! I have met some great like-minded people to train with and learn from. I’ve been able to go to seminars, run clinics and several newbie triathlon clinics. One of my favorite ones was the transitions clinic. Actual practice of T1 (swim to bike) and T2 (bike to run) is a great idea – it’s one thing to think about it, it’s another to do it.

My first ever brick workout: my friend Dan and I biked the triathlon 12 mile course and then ran the 5K course. I had heard that the legs from bike to run is something to experience during training. Wow, my quads felt so heavy for the first 1/2 mile or so but then leveled out. It was good to experience that and have that training opportunity. I’ve tried some other mini-brick workouts: such as 3 sets of 15 minute bike to 8 minute run. I got to practice speed on transitions and also have my legs get mini training sessions for leg work transitions. I found that the heavy legs lasted about 2 minutes before the feeling leveled off and I felt better. Good to know!

I’ve learned too that tapering is an important part of training, meaning that I need to back off workouts just before the big day. So that’s what I’ve done yesterday and today – no workouts. Feels a bit weird to not do a workout but the big day is TOMORROW! So the day has come to put it all into action while having a fun time doing it. I embrace living with a grateful heart!


Swim crazy

Swimming takes on a whole new light when you decide to train for a triathlon for the first time. Sure, I know how to swim and have fun in the water; but open water swim for 1/3 or 1/4 mile? This is something I’ve challenged myself to get ready for and do (and eventually follow that with a 15 mile bike ride then a 5K run!)  So with the winter still upon us I have made good use of a Master swim class (once per week for 8 weeks). This has been an eye-opening experience thus far. It’s one thing to be breathing hard during a workout in your own living room but with your face in the water it’s a whole different experience!  As I keep learning through the swim sessions I find gratitude in many things:  for goggles and a swim cap (keeps all this long, curly hair in check and adds boyancy!). I’m learning proper drills to help my body flow more efficiently in the water. Wow, what a workout this swimming is; and this is just the beginning. At this point I still can’t even imagine what it will be like to swim for 1/3 mile all at once – – but it sure will be sweet when I do accomplish it. As soon as the weather allows I’ll try another new task: open water swim, and a wet suit. I love all these new things!

From Flab to Fab

So I fished out my exercise ball from the closet this morning (it was folded up and and deflated of course, stuffed in a corner, dust-covered). I was on a mission to pump the thing back up and do something new for myself. So here goes: unfolded the ball, inserted the hand pump and started pumping. Gosh, this is work. My arm’s getting tired and I don’t see much else happening besides hearing some air flow and a flabby pile on the floor.
So I kept going, since it won’t get filled with air without me putting it in there. Kind of reminds me of where I’m at right now lately. I’ve had a rotator cuff injury in my left shoulder for at least a month now and it all came about from lifting weights likely with the wrong posture and most likely too much weight. I’ve been dealing with a slow recovery over this month or so. Right about now I’m feeling a bit like this crumbled up form of a ball on the floor. I keep working at it, will it ever get better? It sure doesn’t look too much different! This is what I’m thinking about as I sit on the couch and continue to push and pull the hand pump to fill the ball with air. This is taking a while . . .
Kind of like the healing of my shoulder – this is taking a while. But I suppose this is also true for any worthwhile goal. Work, work, work, effort, effort, effort . . . Well look at that, some time has passed and there seems to be a better shape taking form. It’s still not the most ideal shape (yet) but it’s getting there…and if I were to quit now what would I have? A partial effort and flabby results. Oh, it’s so tempting though, to give in (too hard, too much work, etc). Gotta see the forest through the trees really if we want anything worthwhile. It takes focus, consistency and effort and it’s not always going to be pretty.

But it can be pretty. Well look at that! Isn’t that fabulous! The work and focus did pay off. What am I taking away from this? You just gotta pump through, whatever it is (exercise, eating better, finding your life purpose), use good form and focus and make it fun, gosh darn it. Be the ball.

Resistance 1

Today I shared with a certain family member my journey into eating foods that don’t include animal meat. The response I got was less than supportive . . . “oh what are you doing that for? you eat healthy enough, you don’t need to do that too. I don’t think you should/need to do that.”

My gut feeling was to defend myself, but I resisted . . . and just let this person have their podium, so to speak…. since I realized I didn’t need to defend, nor did I really want to when someone is being quite defensive…. I realized for me that the only one who really matters with this is me. I’m ok with this journey I’m exploring .  But it sure can take you back when a response like this comes at you.

I suppose like anything new there will be some kinks to work out as you go along – situations faced in order to handle in a new way.

But I must say it rattled me a bit – and I then start to question myself, etc. My reason for doing so was to sort of “prep” for some upcoming family time together. Funny how some from my family can be a bit condescending (perhaps knowing it or not knowing it)! Anyhow, it’s good to get that out . . .

And I realize once again the concept of  “the mirror” – – and even projection.  Perhaps something I do or say results in a “twinge” in someone else – it’s like you are their mirror and we get to see the face of something they can’t seem to see for themselves.

So when I spoke with yet another family member tonight on the same topic, part of me sort of expected a similar response, yet I was pleasantly surprised that not only was it not negative, it was incredibly supportive. This family member offered some ideas for recipes they’ve tried and also some sample combos that worked for them. Really, I sighed a breath of relief . . . this reflection was much nicer! Which leads me to another point, the same statement can lead to very different responses from different people!

So I must continue to remind myself: beware of taking certain negative reactions of others on as my fault/responsibility,  or an indication I’m flawed in some way. I’ve been tempted and have responded that way too often in other situations and it’s not necessary. For me, I’m finding the best way to find that healthy separation and boundary is to be curious, be calm,  be open to considerations yet confident in my choices and that I can manage, allow others their own opinions (with no need on my part to freak out loud – LOL) and be a support for myself. Well, this was a great practice ground for me to do just that, so for this I am grateful.  Funny that something that wasn’t even there (meat) allowed me this opportunity to grow.

Need a Plan

So I’ve been doing pretty well with not eating meat for a bit now. Surprisingly I haven’t had cravings .  It helps too that I work at a university and the dining halls have lots of choices of foods and also vegan stations – so this is quite helpful during the day while I’m at work.

At home it’s been going pretty good too. My youngest son is aware that I’m on this exploration journey with eating and he’s been curious about it and we’ve had some topic discussions. Yet right now my refrigerator is pretty much empty at the moment, with the exception of a bunch of fresh cilantro, a green pepper, bag of whole carrots and a couple of other random things.  So I find myself thinking, what to eat/buy/prepare/etc next?  Besides eating to alleviate hunger where will I get adequate protein, calcium, iron, etc. I feel some sort of plan is in order – – yet my day today is pretty darn full at the moment.

I did try a recipe recently – – – a warm black eyed pea salad with a homemade dressing and that was pretty good. But that is since gone.  What to buy now for food?  What are some good and quick staples to have on hand at home?  These are the things that I’ll need to play around with!

Tonight I’m picking up the DVD, “Forks Over Knives” at the bookstore and hope to view it with my son tonight (check the website for the trailer). I was thinking I could stop at Chipotle and pick up a couple burritos for my boy and I – – then I wondered, my son likes the pork burrito; do I get him one or another without the meat?  I don’t want to force my eating choices on him but I wonder if he’d feel bad that I got it for him since he knows I’m not eating meat . . .  ahh, this too is part of the journey…considering all the questions.  I’ll figure it out! 

Take away for today: a plan of action seems to be a good course of action; just keep moving forward – and for this week I’ll start with setting a couple simple goals:
1. Determine some simple staples to get and have on hand that are plant-based and desirable to anyone in my home.
2. Review some cookbooks for some things to try this week.
3. Get some feedback from friends who have some plant-based cooking and staples tips!!!!!

Peace all,

Fillet of Fluffy?

I’ve been taking a college course this semester called Food Fundamentals and I am really enjoying it – which also includes a weekly cooking lab. In today’s class the topic was “Understanding Meats and Game”. In class the discussion started with the definition of meat as “the flesh of domestic animals and of wild game animals” and there was a slip of the tongue and a giggle when a clarification was made that this is not the same as “domesticated” animals (ie. pets).

Which got me wondering, what actually is the reason and difference? After all, it’s still meat – – but really, what is the difference from a domestic vs. a domesticated (potential) meat source?  There are some cultures that have no issue with cooking and eating animals that would seem unacceptable to most people I know (such as Fluffy the cat or dog) – yet chicken, beef, lamb and others are accepted. As I’ve started this journey to re-examine my food choices I see that for me, the difference is the personal connection and relationship we have with a pet animal vs.  more of a disconnect  with formerly living animals that have been processed to provide  meat for consumption.

I’ve always eaten meat and I’m not slamming those who do – – but in recent days I’ve started to see more of the connection to life and the ability to get nutrition from a variety of food sources that don’t need to include animal flesh. I never considered eating a cat or dog but I really never thought closer about other meats I had been consuming. But now I am.

I know that look of panic on a cat’s face and in its body when it feels trapped or in danger. I have felt the same feeling myself and it can be awful – and what a relief it is to get to a safe place. Now I find myself thinking about that meat in my grocery cart or on the plate – and think, what did this animal go through? and was it 100% necessary?  If I can get good nutrition from plant-based sources in place of animal flesh – why not explore that instead?

I’m a work in progress and I’m learning as I go. My journey continues.  A related quick read, and one opinion – but a good one to share (making more connections and decisions):

Results Pictures!

So I completed the 30 day “bear” of a program called, “Asylum – Volume 1: Sports Performance and I tracked my  photos and results (before and after). I also recorded a video clip of a part of one workout where I do long jumps (wow, brings back fond memories of my long jump days back in high school – that was in 1984).  My goals here were not to lose weight – just gain strength and conditioning. So here are my before and after pictures over the 30 days – – not much of a time span for pictures but still all good! Working on those abs and gaining some strength as well!

Stilll sportin' a summer tan

Still smiling.

And here are my conditioning results – – this Fit Test is TOUGH and I ‘m so happy I stuck with it!!!  Yet no matter where I was at -I just had to do the best where I was at (even if I needed to pause sometimes, even if I wanted to stop but didn’t). I am building the foundation of my fitness, my body, my health during each workout – using correct form. And as I found out from monitoring my fitness results – I gained big results for me!

Here is a look at a video clip from one of the workouts – – Vertical Plyo and the first move in the workout are these long jumps. I have long legs and previous experience jumping long, so I was able to jump the entire ladder (it’s 5 feet, 7 inches long) so that was my best for me (others may need to fold the ladder back one rung – – doesn’t matter as long as you’re doing your best with good form – – this builds the foundation and conditioning!).

My Take-Away from this? A couple things:
1. You won’t know unless you go. Go try something you may initially think, “there’s no way I could do that!” I had seen this program while I was completing Insanity (the precursor program to this one) and Insanity is tough too so I was initially like, “ahh, no way!” But in time I decided TO GO FOR IT. And look what I got . . .

2. I got unexpected joy and lots of high-fives for myself for sticking with it, completing it and doing it well! I was pretty nervous the first week of these new workouts – – nervous anticipation.

3. And finally – get your mind aligned and your body will gladly follow. Love this quote: “Every cell in your body is eavesdropping on your thoughts.” ~Deepak Chopra M.D. So make those thoughts positive, patient, compassionate – – you are your own personal trainer!

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