I do it, and I do it big. Here's to not forgetting about it.

Posts tagged ‘triathlon training’

RARR: Regular Ass Run Review

I ran today.

I was supposed to ride, but my hand is bothering me and my massage therapist said that gripping my handlebars could aggravate my hand.

Because I’m a cold-weather p***y, I waited until the afternoon to run. 4:45 PM. A bit later than I intended, but pressing start on my Garmin made me feel proud. Sometimes I surprise myself most simply by getting started. The goal: 4 miles. Twice. A familiar loop I typically enjoy. I often am concerned with whether I will punk out after one loop, as I have before, but I convinced myself that I was a winner for starting and would cross that bridge when I see my car. Heh.

I turned on Tchaikovsky’s 1st piano concerto on my phone and started my warm up walk. I’ve taken to walking 1/10 of a mile and running 9/10 to help break up my long runs mentally. I groaned at first – I hadn’t run more than 6 miles in several weeks and it sure felt like a lot. Then the exposition of the concerto began to come to a climax and I started to get TURNTUP. I think I remembered why I like running. I felt strong for a moment or two, especially on the downhills. Heh.

The first 4 miles were fairly uneventful. I passed my car and grabbed a gel and some water and got on my way again. Then I couldn’t remember if I had locked my car. I started to walk back and realized I had to use the bathroom. The car was SO close to the bathroom, but I knew I would be pissed if I didn’t allow myself to see that I was capable of running 8 miles. I continued, tired though I felt.

By mile 7 my legs were starting to feel very heavy. The words of a spin class instructor still ring in my head. “You can do more than you think.” “Uh. I think I can get back to my car without having to call my mother.” I pressed on.

Takeaways:

1. I feel like a punk for needing so much gel, but I need more than one. I am averaging about a 12 minute mile pace for my long runs but I need the goods every 30 minutes or I start to feel tired after an hour. I wish I didn’t feel like gel should be reserved for real athletes, whatever the hell that means.

2. I’m gonna keep going. #WhoKnows2015

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#WhoKnows2015

Unless it’s breakfast related, it can be really difficult to get me excited about the future. Seriously, I’ve been known to go to bed early so I can partake of “the future” that much sooner. Heh. Anyhow, even this super blessed, had it super easy all her life girl knows that anything can happen. My health is not promised to me, the health of others isn’t promised to me – hell, tomorrow isn’t even promised to me. I thus find it difficult to proclaim that 2015 will be one way or another. I know that amazing things are possible, perhaps even likely, but nothing is guaranteed.

I therefore christen my hashtag of the year to be #WhoKnows2015. I have to do my best today because I don’t know about tomorrow. Not even breakfast. I’m thankful for a God that knows everything from the extremely delicious Fuji Apple I’m planning for tomorrow to what lays ahead for me personally and professionally. It is my hope and prayer that the quest toward the goals I’ve set for myself draw me closer to Him, as I’ve seen that it’s really easy to do the opposite, even when they are healthy goals.

Here’s to taking nothing for granted.

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It’s good to be b(l)ack.

I accidentally rode my bike yesterday.

What had happened was that I get this text from Coachie. Apparently there’s this chick that rides about my pace and needed a buddy. The “opportunity” to ride didn’t conflict with my going to church, so I figured what the hell. I’m not a jerk. I’ll show up.

Then I remembered that I can’t stand riding my bike. Worse yet, I can’t stand riding with people. This is not a joke, y’all. I’m not going to write again (at the moment) about the reasons why this is the case but I was reminded of them yesterday. Praise God that I am not a fan of conflict and work to practice the principle of being at peace with others when it’s under my control.

In the end, of course, I am glad that I went. I hadn’t spent time with Red Rocket since my last race two months ago – unwise because she still scares me a bit and the more time and distance that I allow between us, the worse our relationship becomes.

It’s really funny how sometimes, just a bit of time is all it takes to improve a relationship. The time spent doesn’t have to be perfect, but consistent. My girl 3M has observed that I have not published a blog post in over a month, though I have been training (fairly) regularly. It’s definitely not that I haven’t had anything to say, but the more time that I allowed to elapse between posts, the less I wanted to do it. Not unlike my relationship with Red Rocket, if I am not regularly spending time with her, it starts to get awkward and I can’t remember why I do it in the first place.

So – to sum things up for the last month, God is still awesome, Coachie rocks for getting me back on my bike, 3M is a big deal for staying on me about my writing, and I have a feeling that this new chick isn’t bad. High praise from me, indeed.

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Warning: Triathlon can make it go soft.

Your heart, that is. What else would I be talking about?

All right, kids. It’s been a week since I registered for this madness, and I am quickly realizing that my life is very different than it was just a year ago.

“But Lady J,” you retort. “You were sexy as hell last October, even before you did your first triathlon. What are you talking about?” Well. Who am I to fight an argument like that? *blushes* I’ve got to tell y’all, though – the eyes through which I admire myself in the mirror see life in a new way.

Life can be more than a bit torturous for an introverted perfectionist. Already, my tendency is to share myself fairly selectively. Add to that my feeling that the more people know me the less they’ll want to do with me – quite frankly, it’s a wonder that I open up to anyone. Probably because all humans need connection with one another. Whatevs.

Since triathlon has come into my life, I am finding that I resent that need less and less. What is training but dealing with imperfection? Race day is simply imperfection management. I have learned that excellence and imperfection are not mutually exclusive. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that because my definition of success is changing, I am slowly becoming more comfortable sharing with others.

As I think of just how intense my training will have to be as I approach my first Ironman, I find myself looking forward not to race day itself but to the path that will take me there. I am excited to dig deep and see more of what I am made. The real shocking part is that I am also excited to get to know people who are currently in my life even better. Not only that, it doesn’t scare me to ask for help as it once did. I know I am going to meet a lot of new people and it doesn’t even make me roll my eyes to think about it. What’s that about?!

I think my favorite part of my mellowing is what I see happening in my professional life. I find that a kinder, gentler Lady J is more sensitive to the needs of my students. It is easier for me to see the good in their efforts to make music, even when it sounds absolutely horrific. The words that it takes to convince someone to try something new are coming more naturally to me. My babies are becoming less tense because I am starting to recognize that it is normal for them not to understand something right away, to stumble, and then get it if they keep showing up.

“Lady J,” you say in disbelief. “You teach music. Shouldn’t you know better than anyone that practice is needed to become proficient at anything?” Dammit. You’re right again. And I have always maintained with my students that I don’t expect them to be perfect – only to try their best. I am realizing I have secretly been hoping that they would get it right on the first try because their imperfection is a reflection of my imperfection. The more they play imperfectly, the more I have to deal with my own inadequacies as musician and teacher. Twisted, I know. Now, I am able to celebrate their progress with much more than a sigh of relief. “Thank God I don’t completely suck,” I would think. No, no, NO! “Thank God you stuck with it and can reap the rewards of your hard work.”

So, um, yeah. Lord willing, becoming an Ironman is gonna be pretty sweet. The road and relationships I build along the way are going to be even sweeter. Hugs for everyone!

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Shoutout Series: Coachie!

I had to be in the right place to write appropriately for my triathlon coach. If I had tried to write this as my “A” race approached, the post probably would have been filled with hate-filled language regarding her plan for me. That being said, there aren’t too many people in the world who inspire me to have a t-shirt made just for them:

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Because of Coachie, I was able to roll up on the Athlete Village at my first half-ironman with confidence. Let me tell y’all – that is no small feat.

You see, I knew of Coachie’s existence long before she knew me. I actually was getting some swimming help from a friend in summer of 2013 when my friend observed her coaching someone else. We spoke briefly at the time, but that was that. Later that summer, one of the trainers at the gym recommended her to me. Finally, that guy who picked me up in the pool said I should check out her services. Months later, I went to one of her evil spin classes. She’s just so charming about it that you almost forget about the pain in your legs. Almost. In the nine months that I’ve trained with her, I have gone from surviving sprint races to feeling great at the half-iron distance. As impossible as whatever is on my training plan may seem, Coachie helps me not just to physically accomplish it but also to mentally wrap my brain around it.

Here’s the thing: Coachie is a great athlete. But that’s not a really big deal. Anyone can put time in and become proficient at something, given her level of dedication. It is her ability – and willingness – to share her knowledge with others in the style of delivery they need in order to thrive that make Coachie amazing to me. If I am not understanding something, she will show me again and again without ever making me feel small. When I do get it, she will share my excitement. She is one of the few people in the whole world with whom I feel I can be vulnerable, which I believe is incredibly difficult for adults to do with one another.

When she is not doing the nearly impossible job of coaching me (or other more capable but less witty clients), she is kicking ass at being a teacher, mother, and wife. She is going to roll her eyes when she reads this, but one time in one of her emails she wrote “my friend” and I geeked out. “Ahhhh! She called me friend! She must think I’m cool!” It’s easy for me to put Coachie on a pedestal because she never puts herself on one. I look up to her because while she walks with the confidence of an Ironman, she also knows she has room to grow. That balance is freaking incredible.

To Coachie – I’m embarrassed you make me gush like this! Thank you for helping Lady J do it.

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Shoutout Series: The Relay Team

So there was this one time I got picked up at the gym by this guy in the hot tub. Pretty sweet, eh? I started talking to him because he had an M-dot tattoo with several dates on it and I had just finished my first triathlon. He was very warm (perhaps it was just the tub) and enthusiastic as he spoke about racing. He not only encouraged me to join a local triathlon club of which he is part but also offered many words of wisdom without being a jerk about it. Que raro.

Well. I did it. Unbeknownst to me, I was in correspondence with his wife about joining. “Hey. Did you meet him in the pool?” she asked. “That’s how I married him!” Tee hee. They’re fun.

The two faithful of The Relay Team have been so kind and thoughtful as I’ve embarked upon my tribaby journey. Both experienced triathletes, they have offered me their company, advice, and support as I’ve accomplished things I’ve never thought possible.

Introvert that I am, it’s rare that I train with the group. However, the two of The Relay Team are as genuine as they are strong and – quite frankly, I love seeing them in any context. They inspire me to keep going even when I want to quit.

To The Relay Team. Thanks for helping Lady J do it.

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Bada$$es need love, too

As the peak of triathlon season approaches, I am feeling many things. With less than two weeks remaining until my “A” race, what I am feeling most is doubt. Doubting that I will finish within the time goal. Doubting that I will finish at all. Incredulous that I belong among this group of people who do things like swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles. In a row. This is my first race of this distance – it’s normal to feel some anxiety, right?

Evidently, I am not the only person who will show up at his or her race with these type of feelings. I have found myself sympathetic with other beginning triathletes who question themselves similarly. However, I have caught myself being judgmental with anyone who has more than like, 5 minutes racing experience than I do.

I’ve been there.

I know what you’re going through.

and the worst –

I. Am. Right. There. With. You.

The f*** you are.

You have been doing this a long time OR completed this same distance or even same course before. You’re so much faster and stronger than I am. Why are you even talking to me? You make me sick.

And then – I am reminded of my relationship with music and my music babies. One of my favorite exercises is to have them raise their hands if they suffer from stage fright. I always raise my hand with them because indeed, I still get very anxious before I perform. Invariably, at least one student responds, “No. Way.” I tell them we are all growing musicians, but I’ve just been growing a little longer than they have. And they actually buy it.

I applaud my babies when they are brave enough to play 3 note songs for each other. As I age, I think I am even more proud of the risk I take as I share music with others. In some ways, greater experience brings greater risk. You’ve delivered results in the past and success becomes more normal than not. As you expect more of yourself, others start to believe in you as well. “Man. People think this is going to go well. What if it doesn’t?”
Dammit, if anyone DARED to question why I was nervous as my recital last month was approaching, I looked at him or her as though s(he) had two heads. “Why wouldn’t I be nervous? Dumbass.”

Oh. Heh.

I suppose that if I am allowed to be nervous on stage, despite having performed since I was 4, people who already call themselves Ironman can be nervous too. While I haven’t read the USAT guidebook lately, I think it’s a safe bet to say that only humans are allowed to compete in races. To be human is to be fragile. Having the will to test your limits, regardless of your experience level, is to always be admired – never judged.

So uh – for all the thoughts that have ever run through my head about you – my bad. 🙂 I am praying for your progress, just as I pray for my own.

13 days.

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Well. That was humbling.

That refers to my open water swim this morning. Before I go on to whine about how I don’t belong and should put all my triathlon gear up for auction on eBay, I don’t regret today. Today was “a learning experience,” as Coachie said.

All teachers know that learning experience is code for bad. f***ing. day.

I was one of 7 today as we started out on the river. Smart people were among us, tubing, paddleboarding, boating. Our butts were in wetsuits and goggles. It’s gonna be a great day, right? I had anticipated being nervous. This ain’t LA Fitness. What I did not anticipate was just how bloody nervous I would be once I started. I have taken to a strategy of swimming from buoy to buoy and it had been extremely effective for me. There were no buoys. Everyone was getting ahead of me. It was swim a million strokes or die. My heart rate shot up and I had to stop. I shouted that I needed to stop and they came back and waited for me. Insert uplifting “people need people, we’re here for you” business here. Yeah, yeah, they encouraged me and I’m thankful. The only thing worse than a bad day is needing people to help you through it.

I continued – with the help of Red, who stayed with me and assured me she wouldn’t let me drown because she would get fired. It’s nice when my life is someone else’s job security, 😉 I kid with Red. I needed help and she was there. “What’s going through your head?” she asked. “I haven’t trained enough!” I replied, on my back, still trying to calm my breathing. “You are well-prepared, you’ve earned this,” she says. I wanted to say, “You don’t know me!” I focused on calming down. She encouraged me to take a few strokes. I could commit to a few. I did. Not so bad. Soon after, she observed that I was swimming fast. Then it hit me.

Don’t swim fast.

Immediately I felt better. I started to notice what a beautiful day it was. I observed a turtle on the river’s surface. I remembered that I actually enjoy swimming.

As I made my way toward the end of our swim, I reflected on the nervousness I had felt when I played my recital program for a small audience prior to my concert. Just the same, my heart rate had shot up. I went super fast and jacked up my playing. I forgot notes – shoot, I even had forgotten how one piece started and had to fake the first few measures. I’d like to say that that’s different because it is easier to hide my panic on dry land, but it’s not. I was no less bothered then than I was today. I’m also equally happy I put myself through the ringer. I was able to take those lessons I learned from my mock recital and give a solid performance on recital day.

If I show up at Augusta, I expect the same. 14 days.

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NB: Coachie let’s make my goal 8:00 to allow for mental breakdown time. If I show up, that is.

Lady Parts

It’s a holiday! You know how it is. Get a lil time off and the Missus be all in your face talmbout “quality time.” I saw an opportunity to ride with others and – get this – I wasn’t even dreading it. I woke up and procrastinated only because I hadn’t slept well. I racked my girl up and off we went.

Yes. Red Rocket. Though I am now comfortable with her clips, I still giggle whenever I hear the sound of my left foot making contact. “Ahhhh,” I sighed as we started off. “Success!” Now, only 19.99 miles remain. Sweet! Then I remembered why I am not comfortable riding with others. I had to like, really pay attention. Worse, as I fumble and get to know m’lady’s gears, people see me struggle. “Everything okay?” I really do appreciate that people in these groups actually seem to genuinely care about complete strangers doing the same thing. The uniting quality of sport is amazing. “Yeah!” I replied. I generally am okay. I just suck sometimes, tee hee. But that’s okay! I’m new at this.

I knew there would be opportunity to stop, which I need. Not just to stay alive through intersections, as all cyclists need, but to hydrate and fuel. Lady J + removing hands from handlebars while moving = nope. I don’t trust it! I don’t trust me. Red Rocket is so sensitive, man. One wrong move and she’ll kick me off like a damn angry horse. I had been playing with my gears like Coachie said in order to increase my average cadence. “Spin up the hills!” she tells me. As I ran out of gears in the big girl ring, I switched over. “Click!” said Red Rocket. “Uh, there’s no resistance,” said my legs. Some more clicks and I was able to get her under control. Winning.

After the first stop, I was feeling as confident as a Lady J could feel. Then I clipped in righty to go again and attempted moving forward. “Um, nothing but resistance,” replied my legs. Hmm. Maybe it’s just cause I’m lame and it’s hard to get going as I start up a hill. I began to walk Red Rocket upward. I tried to start again. “Crunchcrunchcrunch,” groaned Red Rocket. Uh. I moved over to the side of the road and started to investigate. Her chain looked like…weird, man. While I don’t have a mental picture of exactly what her parts should look like, I knew that sound wasn’t cool. I kept rotating the pedals and boop! My chain drops.

I completely blame Coachie for this. Just a few days ago, she was telling me what to do in case this happened. The thought had never occurred to me prior to that. “There’s other stuff that can happen aside from a flat tire? I’ll be damned.” It’s like she willed it to happen just to make a point. Thanks for that.

One of the riders came back to see where I was, tee hee. “Uh, look.” I pointed to my chain. She got her hands dirty trying to help me but said whatever I did looked weirder than what she had seen. Of course it did. Don’t you know who I am? So I called Coachie. “Remember how I told you about the derailleur?” “Uh.” I answered. “Is that the thing that says Shimano 105?” She replied in the affirmative, told me to lift it and return the chain to the gear in which I’d had it. Big ring? Maybe. Small ring? Uh. She said that it would return to where it should be once I started and had the chain attached. I thanked her, thanked the nice rider who was making sure I wasn’t dead or injured, and we got the chain back on. Red Rocket is mobile again, hooray!

I wasn’t deterred from continuing to play with her gears the remainder of the ride. I’m tryna grow here. One might think that I would be discouraged at such a thing, but I am relieved that 1. it happened when and where it did, away from traffic, 2. that must be my trial of the day, what else could go wrong, and 3. I learned more about Red Rocket’s parts! The rest of the ride was uneventful EXCEPT for two very generous riders giving me water bottles as a prize! Even though I held them back! People can be pretty neat sometimes, tee hee.

1. Learn to pump tires
2. Learn to fuel/hydrate without stopping
3. Learn what a derailleur is
4. Learn what a derailleur does
5. Change a flat tire

Progress. 27 days.

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Slurp: An Anniversary Story

I rode my bike today.

This should not be particularly noteworthy. I have registered for a triathlon, after all. It makes sense that I would prepare myself by regularly riding my bike, right? Especially because the second leg of the race comprises just under 80% of the miles covered. Alas – when was the last time I rode my bike before today? Uh. Some time in July. The evidence of my slackerdom was on my legs, as my triathlon tan had just about disappeared. Whoops!

Before I write about today’s ride, I’d like to reflect on the day she and I became one. On August 20, 2013, I handed a check to my fabulously patient bike shop manager. I asked my father to be a witness to the occasion (he’s an ordained minister and this union was KIND OF a big deal) and take pictures.

There she is; she likes food just like me

There she is; she likes food just like me

Money changes everything.

Money changes everything.

I had completed a duathlon on my bike from Christmas 1994 and envisioned myself getting fairly serious. I thought it prudent to purchase a road bike on which I could be more comfortable for longer distances. Just look at her. Ain’t she purty? I knew I could be proud to be seen with her. Red Rocket. That’s my girl, y’all. But, as with every relationship, nothing is perfect.

The clips.

I tried using clipless pedals and it was JUST. NOT. WORKING. I would just stare at her; say hi, and keep walking inside. I had had a goal of using them by my next race; an Olympic distance duathlon, but I wasn’t comfortable, so I rode with flat pedals. We still had a good time. I completed my first triathlon with the flat pedals as well. I started to feel better. I was clipping in successfully by my second triathlon in January of 2014. My mother even said we looked good together! It’s nice when Mom approves, amirite?!

But that wasn’t enough.

Apparently, she wanted her seat higher. Red Rocket is into legs and butts, I guess. “But then I can’t touch the ground when I stop!” I protested. What Red Rocket wants, she gets, I’ve learned. It’s the only way to peace. Still, passive aggressive partner that I am, I had her adjusted in early April and didn’t ride her again until my first Olympic distance triathlon at the end of the month. Whoops! We made it through, though. I was observed smiling many times on the bike course. We then spent a bit more time together, preparing for my next race in May. I rode her even faster and more confidently.

Then – summer. As I dealt with plantar fasciitis and Beethoven and them, I started neglecting Red Rocket again. Every time I turn around there is something else she “needs.” “Give me air.” “Get a flat kit.” “Spend time with me.” You know how it is. However, if you read my blog, you know how I am too. I’d often rather ignore a problem than deal with it.

Oh, Red Rocket. You’re so…complicated. I take you as you are, but you want me to learn how to use a pump. You want me to wash you. You want me to learn how to fix you in case something happens. You want me to KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT YOU. And to top it all off – you want me to spend time with you at regularly scheduled intervals? I don’t know if I can handle this.

So on Wednesday of this week, when I arrived home from work, I said “Sup, happy anniversary, we’ll go out this weekend.” She looked dusty and sad. I’m living my life, man. I just ordered dinner for myself and went to spin class. That’s how I roll. Cold as ice.

This morning, I woke up, thinking it was Friday. “Gotta work out before I go to…dammit. No work. Long ride today.” As I prepared to leave the house, I didn’t smile once. I usually crack jokes to myself in the morning and laugh. Not so today. In fact, the first time I smiled was when I was on the highway and I thought I saw flashing lights behind me. Though I wasn’t speeding, I thought, “Yes! I’m gonna get pulled over and miss my group! Then I can go home and go back to bed! Points on my license > riding my bike.” Kinda sick.

Driving record unscathed, I reached my destination. I saw my dedicated Coachie about to embark on a 5710472037 mile ride. She hugged me and I confessed that my relationship was estranged. She didn’t beat me up, but she probably was just saving her energy for her own ride. I met my group. “Great, my two favorite things; being vulnerable in front of others and riding my bike. It’s gonna be a fantastic day.”

Off we went. Important takeaways:

1. Red Rocket really likes when I pump her tires properly. My last ride in July felt like hell because they were at 40 and 60 PSI. I’ve since learned (again) how to properly inflate them. All by myself! This ride just felt like hell because it was. But it was made less hellish by

2. Humans. Other humans. Other human triathletes who have real problems like I do but still are working them out. As much as I would like to not need other people, I needed them today. Some were even encouraging, and most were inspiring. Who knew? Everyone? Shut up.

3. I need proper pedicures for long rides. I just do.

36 days.

N.B. – “slurp” is the sound of my sucking it up. I’ve decided I want to survive the race.

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