First Colorado Lake Swim

I am used to getting up early to go for a swim, run or bike ride.  If you don’t get up early (say 5ish) on a Florida summer morning then you are basically screwed.  Once that sun comes up your body starts roasting and your sweat glands are working in overdrive.  A swim in Florida is actually quite nice at any time during the day, but it doesn’t even feel the slightest bit chilly if you go at 6:00 am (well, that initial jump in might stun you for a minute).

When I participated in my first triathlon in Florida during the summer, I didn’t practice any open water swims in preparation for the lake swim during the race.  That is not a very smart training tactic, but I really couldn’t find any lakes in Jacksonville that weren’t nasty (and the thought of swimming alone with alligators and snakes kind of freaked me out).  I just decided to wing it and you know what, it wasn’t that bad.

Now I am training for my second triathlon, but this time it will be in Colorado.  I figured that I would be smarter this time and find a lake to practice in.  Better yet, I found out that I could actually practice swimming in the lake where the event will be held in 3 weeks.

So, my new training buddy asked me what time I wanted to meet up for a swim in the lake followed by a ride on the bike.  I told her that I had no problem getting up early.  I suppose I didn’t really think about the temperature of a typical Denver morning… somewhere in the 50’s.  Without thinking about the weather, I put on my triathlon shorts and tank top and headed out the door.  I did notice the slight chill in the air as I got out of my car at the lake.  At that moment I was relieved that I had brought the wetsuit even after all of the wetsuit issues I had last night.  You see, my new wetsuit does not fit.  I really don’t like to be choked.  So, when you order it online they only take into account your height, chest size and weight.  Well people who sell wetsuits, I have broad shoulders!  I could barely get the thing zipped up and even when I did I couldn’t move my arms.  Needless to say, I opted for my husband’s wetsuit even though it doesn’t conform to my body.

There I was, easily getting on this wetsuit that was obviously too big for me, but I was happy to be warm and toasty (for once).  We walked down to the lake and immediately noticed the green slime.  I guess every lake has some kind of yuck factor, but at least this one didn’t have any dangerous animals.  I put my bare feet in the water and immediately retracted them back.  OMG, it was chilly!  Granted, it was 72 degrees and my husband said that was “warm.”  It sure as heck didn’t feel warm to me.  I am the kind of person who takes HOT showers.  After I summoned up the courage, I gradually waded in over the slippery rocks.  When the water got up to my waist I started floating, but had to summon more courage in order to put my head under the water.  Yep, it was dark down there.  Not sure if that is good or bad.  I guess it is good if you don’t want to know what is down there.  Bad for trying to swim in a straight line and not running into anybody or any buoys.  It took me about a lap to acclimatize, but then I kind of warmed up and actually felt more focused on swimming.

Then, it was time to get out.  Getting out wasn’t so bad, it was the peeling off the wetsuit and exposing my body to the cold air that was the worst part.  And there was really nothing I could do to warm myself up.  I was left with my skimpy shorts and tank top.  I probably could have warmed up in the sun if it weren’t for the fact that I got on a bike and started picking up speed.  It was a constant blast of cold air that I couldn’t turn off.  I kept thinking that I would warm up at some point, but that never happened during that ride.  EVER.  Not even during the heart pounding hill climbs.  Not even when I got in the car and blasted the heat.  Not even when I walked into my house.  My fingers were numb as I washed my hair in the HOT shower.  After I got out of the shower and got dressed (in pants and a sweatshirt), I FINALLY warmed up!

That was the worst bike ride ever.  I would have much rather endured torturous hills and humidity.  I couldn’t wait for it to end.

Now, what have I learned from this experience?  Definitely wear a wetsuit while swimming in a Colorado lake (preferably one that fits) and always wear layers that you can peel off as you warm up (didn’t I learn that when I lived in Alaska??).



Track Workout

My blog basically tells a story.  It discusses my fitness endeavors.  I have always used a story format in my blog, but now I am starting to think that I should add a bit more technical information.  Once I obtain my personal trainer certification I can even include more fitness tips and workout ideas.  However, I am still in the learning period of this blogging.  I know I have written this blog for quite some time, but I have not figured out ways to add data, pictures and videos.  I think my next step will be to figure that all out and if you have any tips, then please feel free to share!

So, today I will be sharing some data.  One way to motivate yourself is to post your goals and accomplishments for others to see.  When you do so, you feel more obligated to hold yourself accountable.  I have a friend who just started discussing her 10K training in her blog.  She mentioned that she would run that 10K on her birthday no matter what!  Now, it is beneficial that I know because I can occasionally ask her “Hey, how is training going?”  She doesn’t want to be embarrassed to say that she has been skipping workouts, so she will make more of an effort to do that evening run.  Yes, peer pressure still works wonders even at our age.  The best part about it is that I will feel like I am part of her cheer squad from afar and I will be excited for her when she crosses the finish line.

I need to keep myself motivated and hold myself accountable.  Not only that, but I would like to share my experiences with others so that they can learn from my successes AND my failures.

Today was my second track workout here in windy Colorado.  This track stuff is a new challenge for me and I have no experience in working with intervals and splits.  I barely knew that 400 meters equals one lap around the track.  I know that is a surprise for most of you because I consider myself a runner, but I always kind of feared the track for some reason.  Probably because I would just drop my jaw in bewilderment as I tried to interpret something like this:

2 X 400 r=200, 8 X 300, r=100, 2 X 400, r=200 

??????????  Looks like a bunch of math formulas  to me!

Yes, that was our workout for the evening.  And NOW I actually know what it means (for the most part).  To sum it  up for you:  warm-up with a few easy laps, run 400 meters FAST, jog 200 meters, run 400 meters FAST, jog 200 meters, run 300 meters SUPER FAST, jog 100 meters (do that 300/100 8 times), go back to the 400 meters FAST (twice) and then run an easy mile to cool down.  Now, I won’t even mention the whole @5K pace or @10K pace because I am still trying to figure that out.  For now, I just run FAST and SUPER FAST when required.

Great stuff…. really.  It is only 300 meters that I have to run SUPER FAST (well, 8 times), but I feel like I am going to PASS OUT during the last 100 meters because I am pushing so hard.  Then they tell us to do it again and AGAIN.  Oh, maybe I should mention that 400 meters would equal .25 miles.  That would make 300 meters around .19 miles.

So, during each of these sprints we were timed.  These are called splits.  It is great if you can run each one consistently (in this case, all 8 for the 300 meters).  It is even better if you can run each one FASTER than the one before.  Those would be considered negative splits.  I was so thrilled during the Goofy marathon when I found out that my buddy and I had run the second half of the marathon FASTER than the first half.

Here are my splits for today’s workout:

400 meters : 1:40, 1:43, 1:51, 1:50 (sort of consistent, but I obviously hard more energy during the first one)

300 meters: 1:14, 1:14, 1:15, 1:14, 1:13, 1:16, 1:15, 1:14  (not bad for consistency)

After all the FAST running, SUPER FAST running and jogging, I realized I had run a total of 6 miles.

I’m not sure if it good or bad to run with people who are faster than you.  I love being challenged, but I think I about killed myself!

Somehow I have to get my poor body out of bed tomorrow morning at 6:00 am to go swim in a lake and follow it up with a bike ride.   Yes, I love torturing myself.

Sometimes you just gotta say “yes” and see what happens…

If someone invited me to a party full of strangers I would be the kind of person who responds with a polite “no thanks.”  The thought of walking into a crowded room where I don’t know anyone scares me.  Sparking up conversations with people I don’t know is not a natural process for me.  However, I have realized that I seem to become friends with these type of people.  Probably because they approached me first.

My husband and I were in the pool the other day and we were sharing a lane.  As I came up to the wall I saw that he had stopped and was having a conversation with the woman in the next lane.  She had inquired about his Ironman bag.  All triathletes know what an Ironman is and they can’t help but be impressed when they meet someone who has completed an Ironman.  I stopped and introduced myself.  She continued to talk about training for a half Ironman and talked about the recent event she completed last weekend.  I just kind of nodded and was actually hoping to continue my swim workout, but I didn’t want to appear rude so I just stood there and interjected myself into the conversation whenever I could.  I think I said something like “I don’t know much about triathlons, but I did complete my first sprint tri in June and I am training for one more next month.”  It just seemed like such a minor statement in the scheme of what this woman was talking about.  She was discussing “real” Ironmans.  I am just in the minor league.

This woman started to get really excited about getting together to do some training.  I figured it might be something that Ed would be interested in because I was definitely not at her level.  I just kind of nodded my head respectfully, but I naturally assumed that we would never meet up to do anything.  I don’t know why exactly, but you know how some people talk about getting together, but then never do?

Boy, was I wrong.  Two days later my phone rang and I didn’t answer because it was an unknown number.  When I listened to the message I realized that it was the woman from the pool.  She was asking me if I wanted to go for a bike ride the following morning.  As I was listening to the message, I was already formulating how I would tell her “no thanks.”  I had just gone for a bike ride and a run that morning, so that was one excuse.  I had already left Ed to take care of the kids one weekend morning, so that was another excuse.  There was no way that I would be able to keep up with this woman and her friends, so there was excuse number 3.  I was scared of riding up and down hills and on busy streets.  There.  That should be enough excuses to get me out of this one.  As soon I mentioned it to my husband he told me that I should go.

All of a sudden a light bulb (in my head) came on.  How are you going to make friends if you always say “no thanks?”  How are you going to challenge yourself if you always think that you aren’t good enough at something?  For crying out loud, just take a risk already!  Really, what is the worst that can happen?  You have awkward conversations?  You tell them to go on ahead without you?

I called her back before I could change my mind again.  I told her “yes.”  I did not call back to say that something came up.  I did not ignore my alarm.  I got up and did just what I said I would.  Granted, I did have a weird dream about having a flat tire on my bike and not being able to fix it before everyone decided to leave me behind.  I just kind of ignored that thought and made sure to check my tires as soon as I walked into the garage.  They were perfectly aired.

I arrived at the house and she started talking about her wheels and how she needs to get a new pair.  I just kind of nodded because I don’t know anything about bike wheels.  I looked at my bike and was just grateful that I at least know how to ride it (for the most part) and change the tire if necessary.  Don’t ask me anything else because I haven’t got a clue.

The friend showed up and she also seemed nice enough.  It was time to get started and I just kept telling myself to go with the flow.  I was nervous about riding on the main road, but we were only barely cruising.  At that point I wasn’t worried about keeping up, but then I reflected back to last week’s track workout and I knew that I couldn’t really be sure of their “real” speed yet.  They mentioned going up Dinosaur Ridge and I remember that place very well.  We took my parents and kids up there a few weeks ago.  We decided to ride the tram because it is a very steep climb.  I remember seeing the cyclists going up and down the road and I thought that they were crazy.  Now I was going to be one of them?

Before getting to the crazy incline, we went down a rather steep hill that helped me pick up speed… too much speed.  I kept putting on my brakes even though they told me to get as much speed as I could so that it would help me go up the incline.  I didn’t listen to that advice.  I just kept picturing myself hitting a rock and flying 100 feet into the air.  No thanks.  I opted to have less power at the start of the climb.  As we started going up, the super Ironwoman flew past.  I didn’t try to keep up.  I stayed with the friend.  I was actually relaxed and we were able to have a conversation all the way up to the top.  I felt great and I knew that I really didn’t have anything to worry about.  I was ready for more hills.  And we did find a few more, but they provided amazing views that made the effort well worth it.  We stopped a few times to admire it all.  On the way back, I took the lead with confidence.

By the end of the ride, I was so grateful that I had finally opted to say “yes” even though I was a little bit nervous about taking that first step.  Seriously, you never know unless you try!  That is my new motto.  Now I have new friends who are already talking about the next ride.  I have more confidence and maybe I have gotten rid of a little shyness.

The Quest for New Running Buddies

Most normal (I don’t know if that is the right word… what is normal anyway?) people who stay rooted in one place all of their lives don’t realize how difficult it is for military families to move every 2-4 years.  They might assume we love it and that we get to enjoy endless adventures, but it isn’t always so much fun and definitely not so easy (especially in the beginning).  Besides all of the obvious packing and unpacking, there is the relocation to a new area where you most likely don’t have any friends or family to lean on.  It is easy to understand that kids might have difficulty adjusting, but the parents also have to learn a new place and find new friends.  Granted, some military folks are good at adapting and very extroverted so they instantly make friends with everyone on their block.  But, what about us introverts? We have to face more challenges in that aspect.

Of course, as a military family it is usually easy to get connected with other members who work with the military spouse.  Yet, we appear to be in a very unique situation here because my husband will not be working.  Instead he will be attending school.  A school where there is currently only two other military members assigned to our service.  I guess that doesn’t really matter to me much because I have always tended to befriend more of the “outsiders” (the people not affiliated with the military) so I am used to reaching out in different directions.

Now, here I am.  I have taken some initiative already since I have done years of research into finding my niche.  Anything that deals with running is always a good start.  Therefore, I opened up my laptop and started a search for local running clubs.  Hmm, I was surprised to see… hardly any in this area.  I didn’t type in “cycling club” but I have the feeling that over a hundred options would pop up if I did that.  But wait, I did find something that said “running and cycling” club.  I guess that is better than nothing.

I kind of thought about the club for a couple of weeks before actually getting up the nerve to attend a track workout.  You know, it is always hard to force your way into an already established group of people.  People naturally tend to stick with those that they know (unless they are extreme extroverts I suppose).  That’s not to say that people aren’t friendly, but you kind of just want to stick with what is most comfortable.  I know that I do.

So, I showed up at the track 15 minutes early (of course, because I am naturally punctual thanks to my VERY strict curfews as a teenager… I would get grounded if I was even 10 seconds late).  I watched the football coach on the field yelling at his little team of boys and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them.  I was thankful that I wasn’t doing their workout.  But, then again, I had no idea what I was about to partake in.  Club members started staggering in and I tried to remember names, but it is almost not fair because they only have to remember one new name.  They all seemed really nice and the one thing that I noticed is that they actually asked me a lot of questions.  That always makes a new, introverted person feel more at ease (take some notes here!).  The coach arrived with his two stopwatches around his neck and I was starting to feel excited about this whole track thing.  I had never really trained on a track before and I suddenly felt like some kind of Olympian.  Then he started talking about 400’s and 800’s and 1200’s and I had to turn to the guy next to me and ask “400 is one loop around the track, right?”.  Fortunately, I didn’t feel like too much of an idiot for asking that question because I was already pretty comfortable with the group and I kind of played it off like this track might be different from other tracks (I mean, it was gravel and there were weeds growing on it).

So, we started off on a warm-up and I ran next to a girl that I enjoyed 2 laps of small talk with.  I remember thinking that it seemed like a great speed to me and that it should be easier than I had anticipated.  Well, then all hell broke loose when we started our intervals.  “Run this at your 5K pace” said the coach.  Okay, sure.  I am just going to run with these guys.  It appears that they run at my pace.  Yeah, they run my pace during the warm-up!  I was huffing and puffing and working so hard to keep up during that first lap.  I finally realized that there was no way that I was going to keep up during all of these intervals because my energy was waning.  I played off the altitude thing.  “Yeah, I just moved here from sea level.”

Needless to say, even though I thought I was about to keel over at the end of those 6 miles, I had a good time through all of the pain.  I love challenges and that was definitely a challenge.  I bid my farewell and promised to return to another training.  That night I received an email from one of the members asking me to run some extra miles during the week.  People asking me to go for a run?  Now that is a friendship in the making.

Funny thing before I close.  I just got a phone call today from a lady my husband and I met in the pool at the YMCA (we started talking about triathlons).  She called to ask me to go for a ride tomorrow.  Granted, I have never been on a group ride.  I am also very slow.  Not only that, but I have a fear of going up and down hills.  Yet, I responded with “sure.”  This will be another new challenge that scares the crap out of me!  I will let you know how it goes.