Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Boomer "Tri's"

The past six months have really pushed me. I made the decision to become a triathlete and I entered two sprint distance triathlons. Getting ready was challenging, sometimes painful and often exhausting. Just simple things like learning to ride with cleats and unclipping were frustrating. I had read that you unclip your right foot for safety reasons, leaning to the right to balance, not into traffic. Okay by me. Then I tried learning to do that. Not once, not twice, but four different times I fell onto my left knee, because I unclipped that foot, but leaned left. (Did I mention that I am not a quick study?) What my husband suggested is that I have a left tendency and maybe I should just go with that? Thank goodness for logical observers. My left knee now has a permanent knob and scar, but I did get this under control before race day.

My first tri was with my daughter, the "veteran" triathlete. (She had done one before.)It was right near home, so we could practice the bike route and the swim. Wetsuits were another new learning opportunity. I did my first open water practice swim in Lake Superior in May. The waves were impressive and the water temperature "stunning". However, I gained confidence knowing that if I could swim a 400 in these conditions, I could certainly complete the swim in my first triathlon. What I was, and am, still learning are the fine points of preparing for, putting on and taking off the wetsuit. Body glide- what a great invention! Now to figure out how to run, strip down and pull of the suit quickly, while simultaneously removing my swim cap and googles.

So, how did it that first tri turn out? We both placed in our age group! My daughter got third and I got first! The prizes were large beer mugs (very Wisconsin) complete with graphics of the region and "award winner" printed on them. Nice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Question of Distance

I wonder if I will ever learn the basics of this running sport? I have been at it for a year now, and I still amaze myself at the mistakes I can make. The newest one happened as I undertook some speed work on a quarter mile high school track.

My Carmichael coach had made it as simple to understand as it gets: go to the track, warm up for 1.5 miles; run two laps (800) in 4 minutes; recover for one lap; do another 800, same speed; recover for one lap; do a single lap (400) in 2 minutes; recover for a lap; do another 400, same speed; complete a total of six miles.

Now it's not that I haven't done these before. I understand the pace and distance ideas here. However, I usually just do them on the road using my ForeRunner to measure out the distance. The track ideas was to give my legs/feet a nice fast, flat surface to enjoy, and also not have to worry about marking the laps.

The night was perfect. But, the track area was crowded: a lacrosse team practicing on one end of the infield (football field), a football team practicing on the other end; Special Olympic athletes being trained in track events on the track itself; and various recreational runner and walkers using the track too. So, I decided to stay out of everyone's way by running in lane 9 or even slightly off the track. I did my warm up, and then off I went into my first interval.

For me a 08:00 pace is a good challenge, but one I can achieve. However, when I completed my first interval I was disappointed. I had taken too much time. I completed my recovery lap and did my second 800. Same thing. I did the next recovery lap and ran my first 400. Too slow again. The same thing happened in my final 400. I was discouraged. I have been working hard to build endurance and speed. This made no sense.

As I completed my next lap, I looked at the distance as I crossed the starting mark: it was more than a quarter mile. I consistently ran the remainder of my 6 miles using lane 9. Then I downloaded the Garmin file at home and looked at the splits. I was not running quarter miles. I was running .28 miles. When I converted my data, I had made my pace goals! In fact, I might have done even better if I hadn't allowed myself to doubt and become unfocused while doing the intervals.

When I owned up to my question of distance in my conversation with my coach, he mentioned to me simple track etiquette: "On your left." In the future I will claim the inside lane, except for getting in the way of Special Olympic runners.

Another day, another challenge, another learning opportunity in the life of this Boomer Beginner!

Anyone else got a story to tell?

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Running High

Sometimes running "high" is not about speed or competition, even if you are in the Denver area. Sometimes it's about running with someone you love and are exceedingly proud of. That has been my opportunity and my joy for my last two runs. That doesn't mean that these have been my best runs, given the altitude, but they have been some of my most enjoyable runs.

Now I head back to the reality of the MidWest and running alone while I learn to run long. New goal: run a half-marathon. May 24th. Plenty of time, right?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Journeying From Winter to Spring; Runner to Triathlete

Two weeks ago I travelled to NYC for work. The weather decided to take a turn for the better, and I ran in Central Park (perimeter trail- 6 miles). It was 70 degrees, so I ran in shorts and a technical shirt. Yahoo!

Then I returned to Wisconsin ice, snow and wind... but only for a few days. By Friday it decided to become spring here too (a "teaser" I am sure). Last weekend I ran the Fifty Furlong (10K), and it was fifty degrees and sunny. Not only was the weather lovely, but I set a PR.

Now to the challenges of running. Ever heard of ischemic colitis? I just learned about it post-race in a very personal and painful way. Will this be a recurring problem? No way I am going to stop running!

Then there is my new goal: Becoming a Triathlete (BAT for short). To that end I enrolled in some evening classes that are designed to help beginners be ready.

I also rode my first rides with clips. I only fell over twice in our alley as I was trying to figure out how to unclip and stop/balance. Fortunately none of the dozen adults and children outside paid any attention to me.

Yesterday I did my first cycling and running "brick". I am now fully aware of how far from ready I am! It was exhausting!

Bottom line: running and riding outdoors are exhilarating!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Aloha from Kapolei!

Happy 2009! This week marks the beginning of a new year and new goal for me: the triathlon! Not the serious long one, but rather the sprint triathlon. (I want to survive the experience.) So, as part of my training, I added swimming this week. I also traveled to Oahu for a couple of weeks of vacation! Since arriving, I have been out twice to do some open water swims. The lagoons here at Ko'Olina are perfect. About 200 yards across with good breakwaters and underwater nets to screen out sharks. I sucked lots of salt water on my first effort to swim for twenty minutes and managed around 800 yards, slowly. On my second attempt I decided to breath more often (every other stroke versus after every fourth stroke). That went much better! I completed a faster 400. Oh the joys of being a beginner at my age!

I am also still learning my legs. The newest challenge has been a nerve impingement in my right leg and trying to free that up. (My right foot wasn't working exactly right which made running an interesting challenge, especially in the snow back in my home state). My CTS coach keeps reminding me that rest is a good thing; that it is January and some time off does not mean much when the season is so far away.

As a beginner I am in constant fear of de-conditioning, gaining back the weight I lost, and losing the progress toward meeting my fitness goals. On the other hand, it was great to lay around in the sun and sweat, without doing any workout.

Goals for 2009: sprint triathlon and half marathon.