Thursday, June 23, 2011

Because I like lists and I'm feeling lazy

I know the list-as-blog-post is kinda lame, but I'm not feeling very creative today and don't have the gumption to try to tie this all into one neat and tidy post. However, there are a few things that have happened over the past week that I wanted to highlight and I figured a list post was better than no post at all!

1. Huge congrats to My Friend M who was selected to be an alternate for the Nuun HTC relay team. I am so proud of her! She rocks!

2. Major kudos to my friend Becky who completed her first half marathon, the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, on Saturday! Woot! She pounded it out in 2:24, which is amazing in my book, especially considering the (what I would call) unseasonably cool, wet weather. She's a superstar!

3. Our Ironman Kansas aid station took First Place in the contest for best station at the event. Holla! We earned an additional $750 for two local charities.

4. And speaking of the Ironman Kansas, the perks just keep on comin'. In addition to the sweet-ass KS IM shirt, sweet-ass KS IM bag, box of free food and amazingly unforgettable experience, I also made a new friend that day, K. She is ALSO training for her first sprint tri, so we had lots in common and plenty to talk about that day, and we decided to get together for a few training sessions. Yay for training buddies! And she has a training blog too, but I won't link it here until I have her permission. ;)

5. K and I met up last weekend for our first OWS. We hit a smallish lake, one with little to no boat traffic, so we could hopefully have a much calmer OWS experience the first time out. We took turns at first so we could keep an eye on each other, and while we both had our freak-out moments we survived! I was less freaked out by fish/lake monster thoughts as I was about the extreme temp changes in the water. For some reason, my brain could not handle the rapid switch from hot to cold to warm to cool to cold to hot and it gave me the major willies. But I lived and made it back to the dock safe and sound. We did swim a bit more after that and I think we were both happy with how the experience played out. And again, how nice to have a buddy to do it with!

6. I'm headed to Iowa this weekend to see family, so probably not much training to be had. But that's okay because I'll be in Iowa! I lived there for the first 16 years of my life and it still feels like home to me. I'm excited to see my aunts and uncles, too. I'm taking my shoes and hope to squeeze in a run Saturday morning, but I make no promises.

7. I had my longest swim ever the other day--1000yds. It was AMAZING. The schedule called for 900, but I figured tacking on an additional 100yds wouldn't kill me. Not to mention that 1000yds just sounds cooler. But even as I was wrapping up that longest swim ever (for me), I thought, "I could do this ALL. DAY. LONG." Because, you know, I love the swimming!

Alright. That's it for this lame post. If you're training this weekend, have fun and be safe!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Iron Team

Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of being a run course aid station volunteer at the Kansas Half Ironman that took place in my town. To have an event of that magnitude within spitting distance of where I live is cool enough in and of itself, but to be able to help out on the front lines? AMAZING. We are lucky in that the event is growing and attracts world-class athletes, including Chrissie Wellington (who won for the third straight year).

The day started about 7:30. We arrived at our station, which was at miles 2.5ish/9 on the run course (they ran the same route twice) but happened to be stationed near T1 so we could hear the roar of the crowd as people were taking off from the swim and onto the bike course. Unfortunately, there wasn't much time to watch as we immediately had to get our tables set up and our water/drinks on ice. We set up smoothly and had a little time before the first male runner blew through around 9:15 (the first swim wave started at 6:10). Shortly after that, we had our first female runner--Leandra Cave--and a few minutes after her, I saw Chrissie come through the first time. Seeing a professional athlete of that magnitude that close gave me chills and left me awestruck. And she actually smiled as she came through--what a lady.

It was sporadic for a while, with only a few elite runners cruising through that early on. I decided to do a "behind the table" job since I was nervous about handing off drinks and things, and I set myself up at the food table thinking it would be the slowest of the bunch. Ha ha. Little did I know that every. single. runner. would want Coke, which was assigned to the food table. We also started handing out cups of ice at our table, since so many folks asked for it, so between keeping cups of coke and ice filled, I was a busy bee!

The first rush of runners went through between 10:30 and 12:00, and most people looked like they were still feeling good. Most were still running through the station, trying to keep pace and we did our best to cheer everyone on as best we could, while still keeping drinks and supplies filled. After noon, the temps began to rise and as folks made their second loops through, we could definitely see the beginning stages of exhaustion and fatigue set in. Most folks took the opportunity to walk, many grabbing an orange or some pretzels for a little extra fuel. And surprisingly, several folks were chatty and engaging and seemed happy to have an excuses to stop and chat, if only for a second.

By the end, nearing 2:00, most of the runners had passed through, although we were still getting the occasional BOPer. And THOSE were the folks we wanted to help the most. The ones who were cramping, the ones who looked like they needed an extra cheer or a smile or a heartier clap. The people who simply wanted to finish at that point--the folks who'd be me if I ever get up the guts to try something like that.

We finally pulled up stakes around 3:00, and I left with a mighty sunburn and the memories of a truly awesome experience. For those of you who participate at this level, you have my utmost respect and admiration. I would gladly stand outside in a parking lot for 8 hours every weekend if it meant an experience like that each time.

I walked away with a renewed fire for training and the longing for the sense of accomplishment you get only after conquering a major goal like that. I know my sprint tri is a drop in the bucket compared to what those athletes do, but it'll be huge for me. Along with my the sprint tri, my next goal is to convince M that she needs to come to Kansas next year and participate so I can cheer her on. Whether I'll cheer from an aid station or as a spectathlete remains to be seen, but I WILL be there one way or the other.

I wasn't able to get very many decent pictures--I did have other things to worry about at the time ;)--but here's the ones I did get.

The overall male winner, Paul Matthews. He'd done a HIM the previous weekend, too, and called it his "warm-up". Ha.

Chrissie Wellington at OUR aide station! I die.

I bet getting chicked is easier to take when Chrissie Wellington's doing the chicking.

Chrissie RIGHT in front of me. (Sorry about the port-a-potty background. Par for the course, I suppose.)

Best free t-shirts ever? Yes, I do think so. (And I got a KS HIM drawstring bag, too.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What I've learned

First things first, if you don't already read My Friend M's blog you should add it to your Reader right now (go ahead--I'll wait). If nothing else, you need to read this post, and not just because I'm featured in two--count 'em, TWO--photos. You should read the post because it's awesome and really emphasizes the impact that running and fitness has in our day-to-day lives, and it sheds a light on how important a support system is and what a big difference a community, whether near or far, IRL or online only, can make in helping someone reach their goals. And in the spirit of her post, if you don't do anything else today, encourage someone. You never know what a difference it might make!

So, I didn't do a training recap for last week as promised, even though I did have a pretty decent week. What I'm doing instead--and we'll see if this holds going forward--is to highlight what I've learned this past week. Some of it will be fitness related, of course, but some might not be. It all depends on what I've absorbed!

What I've learned this week:

1. I (still) LOVE SWIMMING. I have always been fond of the water--I was one of those kids who practically lived in their swimming suit from the moment school let out for summer until it started back up again in the fall. I actually remember sleeping in my swimming suit because it didn't make sense to take it off at night just to put it on again first thing the next morning. (I wonder if my mother knew about that?) I took plenty of swimming lessons and got up to the Jr. Lifeguard level, which is the one right before being certified. I know the basic strokes and generally feel comfortable in the water. However, not having done any real swimming for years, I wasn't sure how well I'd take to the water as an adult and doing it for exercise. Oh. My. Gosh. It's like I'm 8 again, feeling the urge to move to the pool and stay there all summer long. Now, I can't say I'm awesome at it--I'm still slower than molasses--but it feels like home and that's good enough for me right now.

2. Just keep spinning. Oh, the bike. I wish I could say I adore the bike as much as I adore the pool. I don't HATE the bike, and it definitely does have it's merits (i.e. cruising down hills), I'm still trying to find my groove. But I've learned how to shift and when to shift and I've learned that when you're at the bottom of a really big hill A) Don't look up and B) Keep moving, because if you stop, you'll never get started again. I might be moving slower than the sparrows are hopping (true story!), but I'm moving. And that's all that matters.

3. It's okay to rest. You'd think I'd know this one after a successful half marathon training program, but sometimes I still need a reminder that the day you take off off is just as important as the days you put in.

4. Take a chill pill, dude. If you read my last post, you might have gotten a sense of how anxious I was feeling about starting my tri training plan. I'm a worrier by nature, and when faced with a new thing my brain goes into overdrive trying to plan/predict/prepare for every possible scenario. Multiply that anxiety by three--one for each sport, of course--and you've got one very high-strung individual on your hands. It took my awesome friends to remind me that it's okay to let it go. So what if I miss a workout? LET IT GO. So what if I don't bike the day it says to bike and choose to run instead? LET IT GO. So what if I don't train at all and end up doggie paddling my way through the swim, dilly-dallying my way through the bike and walking my way through the run? LET IT GO. Interestingly enough, the moment I allowed myself some wiggle room and a little bit of leeway in my training, I started to stay on schedule better than ever. Maybe it's as simple as knowing I have that bit of freedom that allows me to relax and let it go.

I know there's even more to learn, but it feels like enough for this week. And in the spirit of #4, I'm pulling a #3 and taking my rest day option. Six days in a row of working out and a stressful workweek makes for one tired Mom in Motion. Or maybe I'll ride my bike tonight for an easy 30 minutes. I have the option, you know. If I do ride, I'll do it because I want to, not because the schedule told me to.