Triathlon Training and Love.

You guys, I have SOOOOO many things I want to blog about, I kind of don’t know where to begin. And man, where does the time GOOOOO? No time! No time!

But! I am currently in taper mode for my half-ironman distance triathlon, which is scheduled for 9/13. So I am hoping I can carve out some time to update more, since I will be scaling back my training hours.

Keep me honest, though, mmmkay?

Turia mentioned that she was interested in hearing about how triathlon training was going. And I realized, you know, I haven’t really talked about it much. So I wanted to fill you in on how it’s going.

This past winter, when I started swimming with a group (this group here) on the recommendation of one of my running club friends, I had no idea my activities this year would look like this.

First, I was burned out on running races. I love running, don’t get me wrong, but my goals were kind of unreachable. I wasn’t sure I was even good at marathons, and for the half marathon, I wasn’t sure I wanted to run as hard as I needed to in order to get faster.  So cross training it was.

And I was swimming with triathletes, who were talking about what races they were doing and how they’d go from a hard swim session to spend hours on their bike on a trainer.

I was intrigued.

Before I start, let me tell you that the swimming has always been my biggest concern about doing a triathlon. I’m not a super confident swimmer, mostly because I nearly drowned when I was four and consequently have this irrational fear of swimming in water where I cannot stand up.

The idea, then, that I’d start a RACE with a bunch of people, all swimming together, in a lake or whatever, where I couldn’t stop and put my feet on the ground, and potentially get kicked or pushed or whatever?

That gave me cold sweats.

I also didn’t have a good bike. My mountain bike was nearly 20 years old and not very well cared for. It had been forever since I had done any kind of riding.

But this year is when I turn 40, and I loved the IDEA of a triathlon. And this winter was snowy and cold and I couldn’t run as much anyway. And my friends were complete enablers, and the swim workouts gave me some confidence that I could do a triathlon. And Jeff got a pretty decent bonus and told me I should get a bike.

So I signed up for one. And I got fitted for a triathlon bike and, though the anxiety about spending that much money on an activity before I knew if I liked it nearly killed me… I bought an amazing, gorgeous, awesome bike.

Let me tell you something, right now. I LOVE triathlon training. Before this year, I ran 6 days a week, 5 miles or more, and I was constantly almost injured – had tweaks and niggles that took a lot of time to manage.

Swapping out bike and swim workouts for a couple of run sessions means I have been able to work out 7 days a week. And all those niggles and tweaks? Are gone. GONE.  It’s like magic – I actually get real recovery, without the pounding from running.

I’ve mastered swimming in open water. With the help of a wetsuit in the spring – the buoyancy of a wetsuit basically makes it impossible to drown – I swam miles in a local pond twice a week. I stopped wearing a wetsuit about a month ago, and though it’s physically harder, I can swim the whole 1.25 miles without issue. I do have to psych myself up to do it, because irrational fears are just that – irrational. But I find that I LOVE swimming in open water, seeing the trees and sun and sky every two or three strokes. It’s very zen.

And I love, love, LOVE my bike. We started off a little haltingly, Pretty Bike and I – on my first “long” ride of the season I got a flat, then managed to pop my extra tube, so for the first month or so of riding season I was terrified I’d get a flat and stayed super close to home. But the bike seems to be my strength. I love bombing down the hills and pushing my speed on the flats. And in the potholey suckness that is New England roads, my mountain biking skills have come into good use.

It also means that I’ve been able to actually work with fatigue, because there’s no PAIN, just tired. I’ve had more workouts this summer that have started on tired legs than I ever have. Which, I know, you might think sounds weird. But being able to nail a workout even though I’m fatigued has been a huge mental obstacle for me. I’m not completely there, but it’s been so much better.

And the two races I’ve done thus far?

It’s PLAY for me. The transitions, where I basically laugh my way into my running shoes (in my last triathlon, I had an ab cramp from where Owen’s head ruined one of my stomach muscles, so I put on my socks and shoes while on my back, my feet up in the air, laughing so hard it made the charley horse even worse. But seriously, how ridiculous did I look?) or use “strippers” to help me with my wetsuit. The bike course, where I get to zoom down hills and around other people and around corners. The run, where in that first mile your legs don’t even feel like they’re ATTACHED to you, but you’re running through it somehow.

Mind you, these were sprint triathlons, which are short and sweet races. The 70.3 distance is a lot more intimidating. But I have put in the training. I swim the distance twice a week, most recently without a wetsuit. I’ve done multiple 50-60 mile rides at varying paces. I have done multiple 10-12 mile runs on an empty stomach to simulate the fatigue I know I’m going to feel. I’ve twice weekly shorter runs off the bike, and know what to expect in those first couple of miles.

I have no idea how I’m going to put it all together, quite honestly. Probably there will be a lot of giggling on my part. I’m assuming it’s going to be one of those “I can’t believe I’m still standing” kind of days. I expect at multiple points I’m going to think, Do a TRIATHLON, I said. It’ll be FUN, I said! 

But I have to tell you: this training has been awesome. And I totally love it.

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2 Responses to Triathlon Training and Love.

  1. Turia says:

    This is awesome. On every level. I am so glad you’re having fun and working out so hard without getting injured!

  2. Kathy says:

    Super awesome. As one who has, at various points, adored all three disciplines, doing a tri is on the long-term goals section of my get-my-ass-back-in-shape plan. I’m so glad you’re loving it – very inspirational!

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