Like a Popsicle

Yeah, I know I was supposed to write about my ride in Grand Junction.  Sure, that was memorable.  I found out that the course had a few rolling hills, was covered in some cow poop, smelled awfully fowl of manure and nearly touched the Utah border… but that is probably all I need to say for now.  I will let you know more when I ride it during the race on May 18th so stay tuned for those details.

Today’s ride was a tad more interesting.  I had already planned to wake up early and endure a bike/run workout (also known as a brick workout to you triathletes).  I must say that I was rather accustomed to waking up to snow on the ground or maybe a fierce wind blowing across our backyard, but I was not really prepared for the layer of frost on our lawn chairs or on the windshield of my truck.  The weather report stated that it was just above freezing (maybe right at 33 degrees) so that was relatively warm in comparison to what we had been experiencing.  Needless to say, the frost did not make me feel any better.  As soon as I stepped outside I knew it was going to be a bitter cold kind of day until the sun decided to show its happy face (and that took longer than expected thanks to the clouds hovering in the sky).

Yet, I was already prepared and ready.  I just hoped that it would warm up a few degrees before I reached Boulder.  Well, that didn’t really happen.  I was one of the few stupid idiot cyclists who decided to start riding too early.  And who would’ve thought that 8:30 was too early?  It definitely wasn’t too early for the runners who were already out, but cyclists must endure a bit more wind due to the increased speed (unless you are a super fast runner who can attain a speed around 20 mph).  I am truly serious when I say that it must have been a “feels like 10 degrees” kind of morning out there.  My fingers and toes were about ready to fall off before I even started my ride.  As I finally mustered up the courage to get going, I thought about turning back, getting in the car and turning on the heat to high.  But that didn’t happen.  I am much too hardheaded for that kind of crap.  I kept going even if it meant losing my fingers and toes.

I became a human popsicle.  I was basically frozen to the bike.  I couldn’t move my arms (they were stuck in the aero position) and my toes were already somewhere in hypothermia land.  It didn’t matter if I even wanted water because I couldn’t be bothered to get it.  And forget trying to open a package of gel because that most definitely wasn’t happening.  I was frozen in place.  I was lucky that I could continue pedaling.  I kept thinking about my 52 degree swim last week and it didn’t even seem to compare because I knew there was a quick end in sight.  There appeared to be no end today because my bike ride was set to last at least 3 hours.  Three hours might as well have been an eternity.  An eternity in a freezer.  An eternity as a popsicle.

After an hour I had to stop so I could attempt to pry open a bag of gummy chews.  My hands could barely work, but the rest of my body was actually warming up.  I thought that maybe I could take off the full face mask (one that covers your entire head) so I did so.  Then I rode for a minute and decided that was a mistake.  I had to put it back on so I could feel my face again.  It took another hour of riding before I didn’t need it anymore.  The rest of my clothes, however, remained intact until I reached the truck after 3 hours of riding.

Running is another story.  I am a hot runner.  And of course I don’t mean “hot” like “HOT MAMA,” but “hot” like the overheating type of hot.  It is kind of ironic because I am such a cold person.  And maybe you might take that in the sense that I am a “COLD” human being, but that is probably true too so it doesn’t really matter either way.  All of a sudden I was in tights, biking shorts, a thermal long sleeve shirt, jersey, rain jacket and gloves converting to shorts and a thin long sleeve shirt.

Running seems so much easier to me.  Less clothing and gear required.   I can just go at a moment’s notice and not really even have to plan my route.  I took off like a flash and was happy with my half-marathon pace.  Yeah, that lasted about 3 miles.  Then I started to slow down.  I let a dude pass me.  I just couldn’t keep up.  I was getting slower and slower.  I was moving in slow motion and couldn’t do anything to speed up.  It was like hitting that damn wall at mile 20, except it was happening at mile 4.  Obviously I need to eat more.  EAT!  How often are girls told that they need to EAT MORE!

Well, these training workouts are trials and tribulations.  I know that I can only hope I don’t have to race in 33 degree weather, but I can work on the nutrition factor.  Four hours today.  I guess I only need to tack on an additional 2 hours… or maybe 3.  That just seems like a freakin’ long time.

The Ups & Downs of Triathlon Motherhood

That is my youngest daughter trying to sneak into the transition area as I trasition from the swim to the bike.

That is my youngest daughter trying to sneak into the transition area as I transition from the swim to the bike.

Time is a tricky thing.  Most of the time, moms feel like they don’t have enough time in a day to get it all done.  Whether you’re working or taking care of the kids 24/7 there is a long to-do list that never seems to get shorter because you always need to add an item even if you are lucky enough to cross one off.  Some moms are fortunate to have help while others are doing it all on their own.  It can be a battlefield at times, but also very rewarding at other times.

Let me talk about one item that should be on every mom’s list: “Doing something for yourself.”  Everyone has a different idea of what this is: reading a book, going for a run, chatting with a friend on the phone (people still use those for talking right?) or maybe relaxing in the tub.  I believe that this item must be checked off every day in order to maintain the flow of harmony and love.  If mom is happy, then everyone else is happy.

Well, my daily item involves training for my triathlon.  This is something that I am doing for myself and I immerse myself in it almost every day.  I don’t get paid to do it.  I don’t get recognized for doing it.  I just do it because I want to.  I must admit that my committment to train for a triathlon does have its ups and downs.

What is so great about being a mom who trains for a triathlon?

1.  I am a positive role model to my children.  I show them what it takes to have courage, discipline and intrinsic motivation.  I am letting them know that it is okay to express yourself and make your own choices.  They should not be afraid to take giant leaps.

2.  My family is leading a healthier life.  We follow a mostly vegetarian diet, eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole wheat products, and avoid processed foods.  We go for walks, play at the playground and get involved in local sports.

3.  It is the greatest feeling to accomplish something so challenging.  I love pushing myself to the limits and I am a much happier person when I workout on a regular basis.  The happiness and self-esteem I gain from my triathlon training and racing translates to my role as a mom.  I truly believe that a happier mom is a more loving mom.

4.  I have a chance to meet other moms just like me.  I finally found my niche and have had less difficulty finding friends who share similar interests.  We support each other through the rough patches and applaud each other on our successes.  It is great knowing that I don’t need to be a room mom or soccer mom in order to achieve mommy greatness.  My friends have taught me that I can be a great mom just by being who I am.

What is not so great about being a mom who trains for a triathlon?

1.  It takes away precious time.  It is not like reading a book for a half an hour before bedtime.  I commit a minimum of 2 hours a day, 6 days a week to working out.  I get up early, go to the gym before or after work or just lug my kids with me to gym so they can be supervised in the daycare while I workout.  That is less time that I have to spend with my family in addition to the time taken away while I am at work.

2.  Criticism from other parents (or even spouses) for #1.  They assume that you don’t want to spend time with your family and that you are selfish for choosing an activity that would take away so much precious time.  Fortunately I have a very supportive husband who understands how important fitness is to me.  There are some moms out there who do not have that kind of support.

3.  Pure exhaustion.  Between getting the kids ready for school, transporting kids to school and activities, going to work, cooking dinner, doing chores and training for this triathlon, I am one exhausted mom.  If it weren’t for my husband’s help I would be even more exhausted.  I have somehow managed to train for marathons while my husband was deployed… not sure how I survived, but it definitely wasn’t easy.

4.  In #3 I mentioned something about doing chores.  Yeah, that doesn’t really happen.  Chores are considered very low priority so don’t be surprised when you enter my house.  I am lucky if I can get the dishes done on a daily basis.  And of course the laundry… there is a lot of laundry when you are training for a triathlon (and when you have 3 girls).

Every path we choose will have its ups and downs.  I know that I am on the right path even though it took me awhile to get here.  I love being a mom AND a triathlete (along with all of the other roles I play).

Minus Proper Nutrition

My daughter's homemade jelly-filled shortbread cookies!

My daughter’s homemade jelly-filled shortbread cookies!

My triathlon training is right on track. I am following my training plan pretty much spot on (and even adding more workouts to amuse my competitive spirit during the Jammin’ in January Workout Challenge). Already this week I have accomplished my long ride (enjoyed outdoors), my long swim, my brick workout (ride followed by a run), an interval ride on the bike trainer, an interval swim workout, and an interval run on the treadmill and 2 weight training sessions. I somehow manage to remain motivated even when I don’t want to get up early or when I don’t want to go for a ride or a run after work (especially on Mondays when I have to get up at 4:30 AM to go to work).

I’ve got this! I can do it! I might even be able to do better than finish last! Or I might run out of energy. I might hit a wall or crash and burn. Proper nutrition is not my middle name. I do find that I eat a lot more since I started training and I am pretty sure that all of my choices are not the right ones.

Today wasn’t too bad:
Breakfast: Kellogg’s cereal with a banana & almond milk
Lunch (after my swim & weight training workout): scrambled eggs with black beans, tomatoes, cheese & onions, hash browns, wheat toast and coffee.
Snack: Jalepeno chips (they say that spicy food is healthy!)
Dinner: spaghetti with tomato sauce, bell peppers, onions & spinach, 4 pieces of garlic bread (they were small slices!).
Then I insisted that my daughter bake some of her shortbread cookies. I haven’t eaten any yet, but don’t count on me allowing them to sit there uneaten.

Okay, I gave you a glimpse of one of my better days. I feel so hungry all of the time and I just want to grab something that tastes good and is very convenient. I need to rethink my strategy. I have had some serious cravings for baked goods. I can’t get them off my mind. They tempt me around every corner. Every time I take my girls to the library, I find a new baking book to glance at. I scheme my next baking night. And now I have gotten my daughter involved!

The worst part is that I haven’t gained weight. I know that isn’t a bad thing to most people, but if I were gaining weight then I would be more inclined to avoid the evil foods. But you can imagine what I would look like if I weren’t working out (just take a look at some of my old college photos). This will be the biggest challenge of my training. Eating right is one of the most important components and I am failing!