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!

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!