Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How Hard Could It Be?

Are you guys tired of hearing about triathlons yet? Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) for you, I'm never tired of writing about them. So here we go.

When I was little, I was mildly adventurous. I remember bus evacuation day when I was in 1st grade. 2 of the tall kids on the bus would jump out the emergency exit in the back of the bus first then one by one all of us would follow with the tall kids taking our hands and helping us out. By 3rd grade, I was one of the tall kids. Sensing the impending duty of being the first one off the bus I began contemplating first, what would happen if I died jumping out of the back of a bus with no one to help me. Then, I contemplated what would happen to the other kids. Then the day came, I thought, "How hard could it be?" and jumped. Do you know what happened? You're right, I didn't die. The moral of this story is that I went through a phase in life that I think we all go through where suddenly I stopped thinking, "How hard could it be?" and started thinking "How hard this will be." All of a sudden, everything in my life and every potential obstacle became a certainty and in addition, a certain disaster or failure. I don't know what spurred the change and I don't know why it took me so long to change it back, but I refuse to dwell on the past. Almost a year ago I decided that I was going to get in shape and get my life back. It was hard and scary and terrible. I spent months only working out in my own living room in the wee hours of the morning so that no one would see me sweating and panting. I was embarrassed and ashamed of myself and had nothing in my head but blame and doubt. I had a few dvd programs and every time I put one in I'd think about how hard it would be. I remember bursting into tears trying to make my way through a cardio kickboxing workout because just 2 years prior I wore a size 5 (ish) and ran a marathon. That day in November I remember thinking of what my mentality was when I signed up for that marathon, or the half marathon before that and there was one glaring difference. I never questioned it. I never questioned myself. I signed up for the half marathon thinking, "I've run 10 miles and this race is just a 5k more. How hard could it be?" I signed up for the marathon with the same mentality. And there were days when hell YES it was hard but I had some kind of tenacity that all of a sudden had disappeared. After that brutal week and just before the new year I was finally ready to weigh myself. I'd lost 8 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas (Check Out This Flashback Retro Post)! That was when I finally went back to "How hard could it be?" If I was capable of weight loss of any kind between two major food centered holidays, what else could I do? That was when I decided to sign up for the Triple Crown which consists of 3 races over 6 weeks, a 5k, 10k and 10 miler. I'd never done the whole thing before and hadn't been running in literally almost 2 years but as you now know, "how hard could it be?" Surprisingly, not too hard because I did it and didn't walk the whole thing either. All of a sudden I'd gotten back into the right mindset. I became once again, that 21 year old who signed up for a marathon and trained for it while working 3 jobs and an internship and being a full time student heading towards college graduation in 4 years. The last of the triple crown races was in April and shortly after my sister and I decided to do a triathlon. A couple weeks later I bought a bike. A couple weeks after that I learned to ride it. Fast forward a couple months and I swam in the Ohio River and actually did complete that triathlon. All the while thinking (say it with me now) "How hard could it be?" So today I challenge you to go one week, or even one day without considering anything to be too hard for you to do. Maybe it's walking up all those flights of stairs at work or baking a gluten free pineapple upside down cake (which I've done, and trust me, it's hard!) but whatever it is, just try it out. You'll be amazed by how not difficult (bad use of grammar...) a lot of things are.

Speaking of such non intimidating activities, check out this 12 or 24 Hour Triathlon Relay! I'm really excited about it and hoping to be able to recruit some folks to do it with me! Aside from Autumn (my sister's new nickname, jot that down for future reference) I'm trying to coax 1/2 of Team Awesome into doing it too. What the hell, how about all of Team Awesome! And last to be persuaded will be The Colonel. And I don't think that will ever happen. Tips on how to convince your boyfriend to do something he thinks is crazy are greatly welcomed and appreciated!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Little Dose of Depression

How do you keep yourself up? How do you keep from getting down in the dumps? I'm not historically a bright, cheery and positive person but I've done some major overhauling over the past year and am really starting to turn things around. But my real question is how do you keep it up? How, after problem after problem, constant issues, stresses and disappointments, can a person continue to say "It'll be ok." "It'll get better." How many times can you say "Tomorrow will be better." when every tomorrow still isn't any better? When you get to the point where "At least today wasn't worse than yesterday." is the brightest phrase you can come up with before you go to sleep, how long can you keep that up? Having to search for a silver lining every single day isn't how someone should have to live their life. What about a day where there are less storm clouds so you don't even need to find a silver lining? I know it could always be worse, I know I need to look on the bright side. I know every cliche out there about having a positive outlook but I ask, how long can you keep it up before you crack? Before you quit? Before you give up? Before you can say, "This sucks!" and be justified?

I'm sorry for the negative post, but that's really all I can say for right now.

Friday, September 14, 2012

My New Baby Saved My Life

I don't want to go into detail. Probably not something a blogger should say considering the reason most of us have blogs is to go into detail about things the people in our lives are completely over hearing about. Anyhow, long story short, the past 2 weeks have been all kinds of awful. From car trouble to professional drama and mathematical woes it's really just all been bad. Regarding the negative, I don't want to go into detail.

What I will go into detail about is my new baby. Let me preface this by saying that I love Big Red and she will always hold a special place in my heart. She was my first (well...sort of). But it was time to upgrade.

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I love you Big Red! Just wait until we start trail riding...

Yesterday, it finally happened. My Trek Lexa S was finally ready! All of the bullsh*t of the past few weeks just melted away when I was on my test ride. I felt like a real athlete triathlete. I only had a slight panic attack when my card was swiped and only considered my future filing of bankruptcy for a few seconds before that part was over and it was just me and my baby. Don't ask me how much I paid for it. Please. I'll burst into tears. Anyway, here she is! So worth it!

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Nearly Perfect Day!

Yesterday was literally a nearly perfect day. My sister and I went out to Swag's East for our first group one together. I've been to a few and she's been to a few but our schedules rarely line up for the both of us to be able to go together. They were doing 5, 8 or 10 mile routes. I chose the 5 and Alexis was planning on 8. It was pouring rain when I got up but by the time we got there it was starting to ease up a bit. It was in the mid 60s with a breeze so I wasn't thrilled to be running in the rain. Where was it when I needed it during those 6am 90 degree days?! Anyhow, off we went and the rain let up after about a mile or so and about 2 miles in the clouds started to break and the sun came out. It was really fun having my sister around and somehow I managed to keep a conversational pace throughout. I tried to go out slow since I'd swam over a mile the day before (for the first time! High Five!) and hit the first mile right on 12 minutes. It still seems so fast to me since only a few months ago I was hitting 15 minute miles huffing and puffing (amazing what 2 years of inactivity can do to a person). Anyway, I continued my intervals, 8 min/1 min throughout but then I committed a cardinal sin, around 2.5 miles I said it, "This is kinda starting to suck." That made the next half mile or so actually suck but I quickly rerouted my thoughts and pushed through. I'd backed off my pace to around 13min and made it back (getting a little lost) logging just over 5 miles. After the run, it was time for breakfast so we headed over to Highland Morning which just so happens to be our favorite spot. If you need a gluten free, vegetarian friendly or just entirely delicious and affordable meal, go there. Now.

So home we went for naps (which didn't work out for me and that's why it was a nearly perfect day) and after a few hours it was time to go *drum roll please* BIKE SHOPPING! Long story short, I fell into a few dollars and was able to get my bike! I'd seen a lot of sales and deals on the Scheller's Fitness and Cycling website and Facebook page so we headed there. I'd done my homework so that I wouldn't look like an idiot or be oversold. The employee walked over and I was ready. 

Me: I'm looking for a Trek Lexa...I think
Employee: What's your budget?
Me: I want to stay under $1000
Employee: We can do that.

How easy was that? He pulled down the lowest grade bike and asked me what my plans were so I talked about tris and all that stuff. He also showed me the mid grade and highest and the best part, I got to take them all for a ride! Good lord were they fast, light bikes! At least in comparison to what I'm used to. The high grade was out of my price range but the difference between the low and mid was enough to make me shell out a bit more cash and decide on the Lexa S with a black and gold color scheme. A little something like this:

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Of course the location I was at didn't have the exact bike so it is being sent in Monday and should be built by Wednesday or Thursday of next week. I can't wait to bring her home and get out on the road!

After Scheller's we made a trip to Fleet Feet where Alexis got some new running shoes (Score!) and then went over to Paul's Fruit Market. If you don't already know, I'm a total produce snob and pretty much only eat fruits and veggies from farmer's markets or Paul's. Then we made one last stop at Big Lots and home I went to get ready for movie night with Tyler! We went to see The Words (I finally got to pick a movie) and it was pretty good. Back home we went and I finally got to lay down and relax. All in all, a great day even though it was almost entirely centered around fitness. What can I say, I'm a Tri Freak!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pioneer 5K Race Recap

Totally forgot to write a race report for the Pioneer 5K last weekend! It was my best 5K to date (aside from when I used to be skinny and a real runner) and I'm really proud of it. You can check out the results here. I got 9th in my age group out of 12 which is surprisingly good for such a small race. In big races I'm pretty sure I won't be last but in smaller races it's not outlandish to think I might be DFL in a small race. Nice to see I wasn't.

The day started off really well even though I had a sore hip flexor from a Chris Freytag workout a couple of days prior. By the way, for anyone looking for a great at home circuit workout weight loss program, Chris Freytag's 10lb Slimdown Xtreme is awesome! But as a result I had a little soreness in my hip so was a little nervous but still excited. It was exactly one week after my tri so the plan was really to just have fun and do a nice little 5K jog with my sister. Tyler was running too in his second race ever but he's faster than me so I knew he'd take off. Tyler and I got there early and met up with my sister after she did a run before the run...yeah, crazy. Long story short, it was time to go! Tyler took off as expected and Alexis hung back with me at what I thought was a nice, comfortable jog. Barely 10 minutes later we hit the mile marker. Oh Crap! I'm a slow poke. I am not a 10 minute miler. Back in my glory days I was a 10 minute miler if that gives you any indication of how not fast I am not. Anyway, upon realizing my ridiculous burst of speed I decided to dial it down...but then there was a hill...a hill that months ago defeated me on my bike. I had to defeat that hill. So I ran hard and fast to the top of that very long hill...it was then time for a well deserved break. Just before mile 2 my shins started up and they hurt a lot more coming down than going up. What did that mean? Run up, walk down. It was a good system. Miles 2 and 3 were slower (obviously) but in my last .1 I went balls out. Yeah, that's a technical term. Unfortunately I'd burned a lot of fuel in that first far too fast for me especially having just did a triathlon but who's paying attention mile so my balls out pace was not quite anything to gloat about. But when I saw I'd averaged about a 12 minute mile I was really happy! And even happier to see I wasn't last in my age group. Even better, my hip loosened up pretty well and didn't cause me much grief at all. Tyler averaged around a 10 minute mile which was great for him since he hasn't been a runner for years. It was a really fun race. The Pioneer 5K will always hold a special place for me though because 2 years ago it was my first race back in Louisville after moving back from Dallas and my first race after meningitis. It was slow. It was painful. I felt terrible. But I did it. This time it was fast(er), less painful and I felt great!

Final Results:

AG 9/12 Rennay Cooke Louisville Bib 577 Age 24
Overall 288/378 Chip Time 38:13.4 Gun Time 38:35.5

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Sweaty Me and Tyler on a ridiculously humid post-race morning

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I think Alexis ran the race before the race AND the race

Monday, September 3, 2012

Things That Matter Now

I couldn't possibly write a blog about things that used to matter without in turn telling you what does matter.

  1. Shorts - I have a long and negative history with shorts. Even when I was young and cute and skinny I still rarely wore shorts. I don't have a good reason for why I disliked shorts so much but my new and improved triathlete self greatly appreciates that shorts and I have buried the hatchet. What really brought about this change was the combination of training and excessive heat. Sounds simple enough but it used to take a half marathon in 90 degree temps to get me into a pair of shorts. Now I have so many pairs (ok maybe like 3 pairs) that I absolutely love I find myself wearing them around before, during and after a workout. I've also found that I don't care. In the same way I didn't care if I was last during the tri because obviously no one else would, I've found that I don't care what people think of me in shorts. I know, it's stupid.
  2. Hydration - Totally obvious but it is so important to be well hydrated even when it doesn't pertain to a workout. Swimming made me really recognize hydration primarily because you don't realize you're sweating when you're in the water. But I guarantee, 1000 meters later walking from your car in the hot sun, you'll remember to drink your water. My exercise has been scaled down this past week +2 days but I still notice if I'm not drinking enough that those little headaches, body aches and general fatigue that used to be commonplace start to creep in again. A page I follow, My Healthy Passions, said that dehydration is the number one cause of daytime fatigue. Lesson learned, drink water.
  3. Hang Dry Instructions on Laundry - You only have to spend over $50 (of your non-profit salary) on a pair of shorts for what you've deemed one of the most important days of your life once to appreciate what it says on the label in regards to care. I could not afford (in more ways than one) for my tri shorts to be anything other than perfect on race day. The same went for my bathing suit (which unfortunately has seen the dryer a few too many times) and compression sleeves. That meant picking through every individual article of clothing before it went into the dryer to make sure my precious apparel was kept pristine. I know some people actually own nice clothing and because of that they pay closer attention than I do. I, however, own maybe 3 articles of clothing that could be considered "nice" and as cheap as I am I have no plans on re-buying anything. Thus, what the tag says goes.
  4. Myself and My Happiness - Last but certainly not least would have to be myself. The triathlon was honestly the first thing I think I did entirely for myself. A lot of things I've done have been for me and something/someone else. I got a Communication degree for myself but also to make my family proud of me. I did the triathlon for myself. I knew my family would be proud of me but most importantly I knew that I would be proud of me and that was something I didn't realize I needed as much as I did. This was something that I did 100% for and by myself. Yes, my sister was there on many occasions during training and was there on race day. Tyler was there to rub the plantar fasciitis out of my right foot on many early evenings. But I was the only one who could set the alarm for 5 am, get out of bed, drive to the training site for the day and do the workout. On race day, I was the only one who could get me across the starting line, who could round those buoys, who could lace up my shoes, who could keep riding up those long inclines and who could run on aching legs and sore feet through the finish line. That was something I needed and now that I know what it's like to do something you love (and yes, I love triathlons now) and succeed I can never go back.