Thursday, August 30, 2012

Things That Used to Matter

So my friend, fellow blogger and 1/2 of Team Awesome suggested that I let you all (you know, both of you) in on my final thoughts from training for my first tri. I've decided to do this as sort of a series, primarily because I'm sleepy right now and don't feel like writing a whole big long blog like the last two. So I'll start with what I like to call "things that used to matter."

When you take on a big undertaking or make a significant change in your life things tend to, well, change. Before I started training, working out was a priority for me but not to the degree it became. Here are some examples of things that took a back seat.

  • Television - The thing about tv is that mine is attached to a dvr. Even with the dvr it used to be important to me to wake up in the morning and spend some alone time catching up on all of last night's drama. Throughout the summer I was literally deleting things that I just couldn't keep up with because that morning downtime didn't exist anymore. Up at 5am, out the door by 5:30am, in the water/on the bike/pounding the pavement by 6 and home by 7:30 or so. Get ready for work, eat breakfast and out the door again by 8:30. TV? Yeah, sorry.
  • Showering - Now I'm slightly embarrassed to admit this, but only slightly. All of the important bits were cleaned daily but as far as long, leisurely showers with music blasting, well, those days are long gone and there are 2 very important reasons why. 1. Time. This will be a reoccurring theme. 2. Soreness and general body fatigue. Standing is one of the last things I wanted to do after a 2 a day...or a long 1 a day. Yes, a few baths were taken but sitting generally turned into laying which turned into sleeping. Never good in the bathtub.
  • Shoes - Another friend and fellow blogger over in Kaliwood along with my 20 year old self and women all over the country will be terribly disappointed and may possibly stop being my friend over this, but hear me out.When training for any physically demanding activity you really begin to realize how very important your feet are.That's not to say they still don't deserve to look good, but from an athletic perspective, it's more important that they feel good. But just so you don't hate me let's just say that my shoe game has just been refocused to running and athletic shoes.

    I went from these (my feet on the right but I picked out both pairs)

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To these...

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More designed for comfort than looks but come ON! They're so fun!

  • My Hair - Getting my hair messed up or even worse, WET, used to be a cardinal sin (according to my mom, still a cardinal sin...) During tri training, it was wet pretty much daily whether from me forgetting my shower cap and unable to be bothered to reach for it from the shower, sweat or the pool. Training also did much to reaffirm my decision to cut my hair short. Such a blessing.
  • Drinking/Partying/General Young Person Fun - Training doesn't schedule in hangover days. Now if you were talking to slightly younger me who could recover in seemingly minutes from a rave we'd have no problem. 24 year old me (yes I've just admitted my age online) couldn't waste what would surely be at least 2 days on recovery from irresponsible decisions. Not to say they weren't good times, I was just looking for a different kind of fun...which was actually slightly torturous.

From this...

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To this...

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Fair Trade.

  • My Ipod - USA Triathlon prohibits the use of audio devices on the course which meant dumping my ipod almost immediately and completely. I've been running road races for years and for many of those years not a one of them was done without an ipod. A lot of people have a lot of concerns (and opinions) regarding the use of ipods during races but as a former ipod wearer to an ipod-less competitor (I use that word loosely) I can honestly say that the ipod was not missed at all during tri training or especially during the race. During the race in particular there's so much more going on than in a running race that your brain is plenty occupied. During training I guess I still could've used it while running but on the bike I was too worried about not hearing traffic and I don't have a waterproof ipod case so with 2/3 of the training in my own head, the music just didn't seem as necessary. Now I did always have to dig out the ipod for a gym workout...but all rules change under those circumstances.

Welp, those are the big things I can think of right now. Hope this gave you a little insight into how my world and priorities changed a bit when I began training. If you're planning to do one or something like it I sure hope this didn't scare you off! Change can be a good thing and when you have to change to reach a goal, and then you reach that goal, it makes it all worthwhile.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Go Girl Sprint Triathlon Recap!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am now officially a triathlete! I'm so excited to have completed my very first triathlon! Not only did I complete it but it was also pretty much completely without incident. No severe panic attacks, no road rash, no injured limbs. So, without further ado...

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Ready to hit the road!

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Someone made a terrible mistake and seeded me 180th out of about 500

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Me and my skinny sister before the start

We got to transition around 6:15 or 6:30 really after the half mile trek from the car to transition. Why they park volunteer athletes so far away from where they need to be I'll never understand. Anyhow, I set up transition just how I practiced and the woman next to me was very nice and wished me luck. It was her third tri and she was seeded appropriately so she was actually fast. My sister and I listened to the pre-race instructions together and before we knew it, we were heading to the swim start. I was definitely a little worried about my sister since she'd never done an OWS but I figured she'd be fine after the initial shock. I was starting a bit ahead of her and since it was a time trial I had to line up at the chute without her. She stood close by and cheered and cheered and I even heard her after I'd crossed the start. It was a beach start so there was a lot of splashing as we all ran in and tried to start swimming. I could feel myself starting to panic a bit but, better equipped and better trained than the Ohio River swim, was able to shut it down quickly. I was terrified the most about gassing out. Swimming has always been exhausting for me so I tried to swim way slower than normal. Unfortunately it turned out to be way too slow and I added almost 6 minutes to the goal time I had in my head. Of course, I didn't know this when I got out of the water, all I knew was that I'd finished the first 1/3 and in some ways the most difficult 1/3 of my first tri! I got out and saw my mom so I gave her a great big wave! I saw Tyler as I was making my way through the chute to transition. It didn't occur to me that I'd been passed by a lot of people until I saw how many bikes were already gone including my whole row.

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Crossing the start!

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Finishing the swim

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Time for the bike

Off I went with my bike. I'd spent about 2-2:30 minutes in transition which I thought was pretty good for my first time. I'd forgotten to put my bike in a low gear (after reminding my sister to do that to hers before we got started...) so it was a bit of a mash up hill out of transition and onto the course. It was a really difficult bike course and admittedly I probably wasn't as prepared as I could've been. Through the last weeks of training I had a hard time fitting in those longer rides and probably took the bike portion for granted. I also trained on a lot of steep or rolling hills whereas this course had a lot of long, slow inclines. Brutal. It was an out and back course which meant I got to see all the people faster than me as they came back through. It was actually really motivating and we were all very supportive of each other. The one thing I was most jealous of was not their fitness level or athletic ability, I can get that on my own, but their bikes. Oh holy bike porn did they have some nice rides! New mission, new bike. Anyhow, after the turn around as I was heading back to the park I saw my sister coming towards me. She looked like she was having a rough go but once I heard her say she was ok I felt a lot better. Back I went up and down hills and inclines towards my second and last transition. As a BOPer (back of pack-er) there are a few things one has to get used to such as riding back to transition avoiding runners who are FINISHING their entire race before you've even finished 2/3 of yours and very little volunteer support. I cruised down the hill and into transition then I was off on my run.

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Coming back through transition

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Re-racking my bike

Compared to swimming and biking, I hate running. Running hurts more than the other two. But as I approached my achilles heel with an uphill climb right off the bat I thought "Oh my gosh! Only 3 miles stand between me and being a triathlete! I can do this!" I suddenly got really excited and started running, forgetting that through ALL of my training I've done intervals. About 3 minutes in my quads were screaming and I quickly remembered that bike ride. Instead of quitting, I simply adjusted. One minute run, one minute walk. I didn't feel terribly winded but my legs just didn't have the energy left to take down those miles as quickly as normal and I thought that I really shouldn't expect them to be able to do that anyway. 15 minutes later I reached mile 1 and took some water from one of the 2 volunteers left on the course. It was another out and back so I once again got to see a lot of faster people coming towards me and I felt the same way about it as I did on the bike. It was great to have so much support! Remember how I mentioned lack of volunteers? Here's where it got interesting. I'm running along and eventually start to wonder when and where I'm supposed to turn around. I was significantly slower than the people ahead of me but significantly faster than those behind me so I'd spent a large portion of the course on my own. On the bike luckily there were cones everywhere to keep traffic away but the run was on a closed park street. Finally I spot a single orange cone in the middle of the road. I decide that's where I'll turn around. But then I started to panic that it wasn't the turn around and I'd be cutting the course. Now granted, there wasn't a soul around so no one would see or catch me but I would know and I couldn't live with myself for that. As the cone gets closer I really start debating. At the last minute a man on a bike comes racing up behind me shouting "turn around at the cone!!!!" Aha! I was right! I guess he'd abandoned his post thinking surely no one was as slow as I was but little did he know we were still trickling through. I turned around and just before mile 2 saw my sister coming towards me again. She's a much faster runner than me so I was expecting to see her sooner or later. She said "We can do it!" and I was pumped to see how excited she was, especially knowing she had a rough bike ride. I picked up my pace (just a little), grabbed water at 2 miles and was determined to finish. That last mile would not beat me! A lot of people were walking on the course back to their cars but they all let me pass and gave me the loudest, most enthusiastic cheers I've ever had! I was so excited and so touched that complete strangers were so proud of me! I dug deep and pushed hard and finally I saw the downhill that marked the sprint to the finish. In my head I broke into a sprint but I'm pretty sure my legs stayed where they were. I wanted to finish the run in under 45 minutes and was really happy to check my watch and see that I did! My mom was there at the finish and so was Tyler. I knew Alexis wasn't far behind so I grabbed a cup of water and gatorade and "ran" (I use this word loosely) back to the finish so I could see her. Somehow my body managed to jump up and down and yell for her as she came through the chute and I'm glad because her finish line pictures all have huge smiles in them.

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Almost there!

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Finished!

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Finishers and Triathletes!

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My medal :)

All in all I think this was the best experience of my life. I have never been prouder of myself than I am right now to be able to say that I'm a triathlete. Everybody needs help at times and I recognize that but becoming a triathlete is something I did completely on my own. Only I could make myself wake up at 5am and be in the pool by 6. Only I could make myself do a quick wardrobe change after work to hop on my bike for a few miles in 90+ degree temps. Only I could make myself get up at the same 5am on a Saturday (my only weekend day off) to head out for those long runs. I did this for me and in the process became a better sister, daughter, girlfriend, friend, co-worker and person because of it. I wouldn't trade a single piece of training or the race for anything in the world.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ohio River Open Water Panic Attack...I mean Swim Recap

Last Saturday I signed up for an Ohio River Open Water Swim. I decided that I really didn't want race day to be my first time swimming in open water and I'm SO GLAD I didn't wait! Essentially, I took just over an hour to swim only a half mile because of a full on 100% panic attack. So let's recap...

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Things started off well enough. Lovely morning, calm waters and just an all around beautiful day for a swim. As I was checking in I was already beginning to panic but was able to keep it together and fake excitement for most of the volunteers. As Tyler and I took pictures and checked out the course a volunteer approached me and flat out said, "You look terrified." I had to agree. He continued with, "You should be excited!" I told him I was...until I got there. He showed me the course and did his best to console me. I pretended he did the trick because there was no way I could tell the poor guy that not only was I going to drown but my corpse would be ripped apart and devoured by one of the Volkswagen sized catfish lurking in the river and my poor mother and boyfriend would look on in horror and have to undergo electro-shock therapy for the rest of their short and traumatized lives. I told him I'd be ok. I walked back towards registration where I got my very first body marks! There was some excitement!

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Next came the safety meetings. There was an optional one followed by a mandatory meeting...I was at both, right up front, pre-workout energizer clenched in my shaking hands. The man who was in charge of the meetings was nice enough and obviously very experienced, unfortunately, he did absolutely nothing to ease my fears. Between his mentions of River Monsters, currents, barges and of course the man who died during the swim portion of Ironman Louisville last year, he really just made me want to vomit. Well done sir, well done.

Before I knew it, it was time.

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So off I went! Into the abyss! We were told during the safety meeting that if we had any fears or concerns to let someone know and they'd put a kayak with you in case you needed anything. I wanted to request the Coast Guard...but decided the kayak would do. Hanging onto the dock before the start, the race director told me to sing a song to keep my mind off of the fear. He suggested It's a Small World. He had me sing it at the dock. "It's a small world after all...it's a small world after all...it's a...a...a...gasp...gasp...OMG THIS IS THE BIGGEST DEEPEST RIVER IN THE WHOLE WORLD AND I'M DROWNING IN IT RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!" Ok, singing doesn't work. I'd at least made it off the dock. So I'm now holding onto the kayak to regroup. Kayak Operator Kris looks at me and casually says, "You'll be ok. You know how to swim." My head responds with, "Are you f**king crazy?! How could anyone swim in these types of conditions?! Look at me! I'm a mess and three quarters, holding onto a kayak less than 5 strokes into a half mile swim. Tell me again that I'll be ok." My mouth says, "I'll be ok. I know how to swim." I repeat it about 50 times to myself before letting go and trying again. Stroke, breathe, stroke, OH MY GOSH I'M DYYYYYYING!!!!!! I flip to my back to float and try to catch my breath. "It's a small world..." Eventually I think I'm ready to try swimming. I go to flip back and realize my body has quite literally forgotten how to swim. I freak out and grab onto Kayak Kris' paddle. He says, "Keep going, you're doing fine." Is this what fine looks like to you? Seriously? We have several more exchanges of me trying to swim then immediately flipping over on my back. Finally Kayak Kris says, "Um...grab on here and I'll take you back onto the course. You have to keep pushing swimming against the current because it just carried you all the way back to the start." Now granted, I had maybe gone 80 meters but it took more energy than I'd ever imagined! The thought of trying again honestly made me nearly cry but then I really had to dig deep. I said to myself, "What are you doing Rennay? You know how to swim. You can do this. You're in the water already! People are watching you, your triathlon future depends on this, your mental health depends on this. You can do this so just shut up and swim!" Determined, I tried again. I managed about 8 strokes before a wave of panic. I held onto the kayak for a bit then went back out. Kayak Kris challenged me to do 10 strokes before stopping. Then challenged me to 20, then 25 and before I knew it I was losing count of how many strokes I was doing. Kayak Kris even told me how well I was doing and that I actually had a really nice stroke. I was efficient and actually quite fast (relatively speaking). All he kept telling me was that when I made the turn and swam with the current it would make a world of difference and be so much easier.

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Finally (and I mean like 30 minutes later finally) I reach the turn around point. Kayak Kris tells me to turn the buoys in almost a diagonal line so the current doesn't carry me the wrong direction. He also paddles to the other side of the turn and says he'll meet me on the other side. Surprisingly to myself, I made it! Swimming with the current is significantly easier and not far past the turn was Tyler and some strangers on a dock cheering me on! How nice are spectators? And Tyler. *apparently my mom was too busy having her own panic attack to participate in the watching of my race*

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One hour and one minute later I finally swam through those big orange buoys that marked the finish line! I'm not sure that I'd ever been more excited to finish a race and trust me, I've had my share of long, awful races. This time I was ridiculously proud of myself. To the point that I could sort of smile! I swam up to the dock and thanked each of the volunteers who tried to calm me down and waved down a kayak for me before making my way out of the water.

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On my way out another volunteer stopped me for a photo. (which is on their website!) I definitely don't look my best but who would?

"Official Race Photos"

My mom came out and hugged me as if I'd just been pulled from a burning building and Tyler brought my towel since I was freezing! I made my way back to my mom's little campsite and talked a bit to a woman there waiting for her husband to swim the 1.2 mile course. I told her the conditions were great out there and that he should be fine. I didn't add "as long as he is a strong enough swimmer to swim against the current, not hyperventilate, not concern himself with the 0% visibility of the water and/or what may be lurking underneath, and not be affected at all by the enormous waves produced when the barges roll through that smack you in the face only when you're trying to take a breath." I walked over and got a free Gatorade then ate my bodygood bar (omg they're incredible. If you haven't had one, EAT ONE.)

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After hanging around for a bit so I could get rid of my sea legs we started the walk back to the car. Even though it was a horrible experience it actually wasn't so horrible. I went in the pool Tuesday and spent about an hour just hanging around in the deepest water I could find. Treading, swimming. floating, flipping, everything I could do to get myself used to being surrounded entirely by water. It was scary for the first 20 min or so I'll admit but I got more comfortable quickly and think because of the river swim I'm improving very quickly. Oh! Did I mention I got a shirt?

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Friday, August 10, 2012

15 Things You'll Never Hear Me Say

This is a fun copy of a post from a good Daily Trainings blog I follow. I don't agree with all of his 15 but just for fun, here are some for me.

  1. I wish we had a little more humidity today.
  2. Everybody should eat meat.
  3. Will someone turn on some Rihanna?
  4. I'd love to babysit!
  5. I can't wait for the next congressional elections!
  6. Let's go fishing!
  7. I'm thinking about buying a Chrysler Pacifica.
  8. Why don't they talk more and play less music on morning radio?
  9. Do you have these jeans in a size 0?
  10. No thanks, I don't want a raise.
  11. I could really go for some yogurt right now.
  12. I never want to watch another youtube video of cute baby animals.
  13. I'm watching some NBA basketball.
  14. Just pick up some produce at the grocery store.
  15. Could I have bacon with that?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

"Gotta Grind Gotta Get Mine"

It's August 1st! Oh. em. gee! My race is in 24 days! So unbelievable! Even more so because I have yet to do a proper workout this week. Ok, so we did a mini-tri on Monday just to see what it was like. We (me and Alexis) swam the full race length (500m) then biked 6.1 miles (was supposed to be 5 but there were...issues. race distance is 10mi) then I ran 1.5 miles and Alexis ran 2. My swim wasn't great, not sure why but on my bike I flew (I use that word loosely) along like normal. I can't wait until race day when it's just "ride without worrying about traffic lights and cars" time. Wonder how fast I can go... Anyway, then came the run. Seriously, I was another person. I ran an 11:55 mile! I haven't done that since before the hiatus. Back in the day (a Wednesday) I used to run right around a 10 minute mile. Sometimes slower, sometimes faster but usually about 10. When I came back after my 2 years off I was completing miles in about 15 minutes. Notice I didn't say "running". I was not exactly running miles. By about April or so I was sticking with 13-14 minute miles. And 13 minutes was pretty rare. On July 13th I ran a 12:45 mile (on hills) and was pretty spent. Although it was also extremely hot and after work. I had no idea I was capable of 11:55 though. So because of my super sprint tri on Monday I took 2 days off. Actually yesterday I was exhausted for some reason. I don't know that Monday's workout was the reason. And today I'm still a little tired but mostly just being lazy. Tomorrow morning I'm planning to swim but with having to work an hour earlier on Thursdays I generally do a brick after work. The official training plan doesn't have anymore bricks scheduled and has me back to resting 2 days per week instead of 1. I guess I've done my 2 days so back to the grind tomorrow.