The August Challenge!

The perfect fuel for my relay!  Vegan banana protein bars!

The perfect fuel for my relay! Vegan banana protein bars!

Where have I been?  Not on my blog obviously.  It has been a busy summer of travelling around and I enjoyed every minute of it.  However, I am very thankful to be home and hopefully I will be able to get back into my regular workout routine (and blogging of course!).

Yes, I am in training mode.  I can’t go too long without training for something.  Goals are important.  Without goals I would be lost.  Without goals I would get lazy and sit on the couch all day.  August is a busy month for accomplishing goals.  Tomorrow I set sail on the goal of completing my first relay… 200 miles through the mountains.  I think I will spend about 19 miles with my feet actually hitting the pavement (or dirt) while the rest of the 181 miles will be spent in a van.  The more I think about it, the less fun it sounds.  Oh well, at I will be able to check “relay” off my bucket list.

Since my friend talked me into spending 2 days living out of a van (sleeping bags, too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, porta potties, stinky socks, etc.), I decided to talk her into doing a triathlon.  She hesitated for a bit, but eventually agreed.  Not sure if she is happy with her decision, but she isn’t the type to give up.  So, that sprint triathlon is scheduled for this month.  Not only did I talk my friend into doing a triathlon, but I also managed to talk my 9-year old daughter into doing one.  Score!  I was elated, but then I was curious about her motive so I asked her if SHE really wanted to do it and wasn’t doing it because momma wanted her to do it.  When she said that SHE wanted to do it, then I was able to jump for joy and take her for a ride on her bike.

But that’s not all.  My biggest August challenge is focused on my diet.  I have decided to go dairy free for the whole month of August.  And no, I am not following a vegan diet.  I will call this Heidi’s feel good diet.  I just want to find out if I will feel better without dairy.  Dairy is known to cause inflammation so maybe I can hone my body down a bit and create more energy (since I am lacking in that department). I am not trying to lose weight.  I am not trying to follow a fad.  I am just trying to feel better.  My diet will still include seafood and eggs (I am only a tad crazy… not that crazy).

Going dairy free is much harder than it appears.  I already have some tools of the trade because my husband is lactose intolerant.  However, after reading a few labels at the grocery store last night I realized that some kind of dairy (milk, whey, casein, etc.) is in almost everything!  Even in most bread!  I won’t go overboard, but there are a few vegan options I am willing to try.  However, if someone cooks the potatoes in butter I won’t have a fit.  We shall see how I feel at the end of August.  I will probably be craving a pizza with extra cheese.

Good luck to me (and to my family who has to put up with me)!

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Flip Turn

Exiting a lake swim!

Exiting a lake swim!

I decided to sign up for swim lessons.  Yes, I know how to swim and I could probably get by just fine if someone dumped me out of a boat into a lake, but I can definitely use some improvements in regards to swimming efficiently during a triathlon.  The cost of solo lessons were much too steep so I opted for a small group lesson at my YMCA.  I already knew the coach who taught the class because he is a regular visitor at the pool.  The coach had already watched me swim and provided me with tips for improvement.  He told me that I should join the advanced swim lesson group (at least that made me feel better).

So, there I was on Day 1.  The coach took the other newbie (another triathlete) and I aside and taught us all of the strokes.  What I really wanted to do was improve my freestyle, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to know a few tricks of the trade.  At least now I can resort to the back stroke or breast stroke if I need to take a break in the middle of the lake.  Actually, I learned that the back stroke won’t help me much in any situation unless I want to totally go in the wrong direction or bump my head and knock myself out.  However, my strong legs fair well on that breast stroke.  I just don’t really want to use my legs much while swimming in a triathlon…. gotta save them for later.

Regardless of whether or not Day 1 was useful, I went swimming on my own a couple of days later and I felt like I was queen of the pool.  I felt so great about my swimming form that I decided to do my timed half mile.  It just so happens that I was 4 minutes faster than last month’s timed trial… and in swim minutes that is quite a bit of time!

Then there came the flip turn lesson.  I always thought swimmers who did flip turns were the real swimmers of the pool.  As I started triathlon training I realized that was not a correct assumption.  It actually didn’t make sense for me to learn how to flip turn because I wouldn’t be doing that in a lake!  But still, it looked pretty cool and if I ever want to be a competitive swimmer (which I don’t) I should at least try to learn how to do a flip turn.  After two lessons on flip turns I realized that I probably will never become a cool swimmer who knows how to flip turn.  I am the most clumsy flip turner ever.  Sometimes my feet don’t even touch the wall.  Other times I hit my head on the bottom of the pool.  Most times I get water up my nose.  Oh, and that is only when I practice a flip turn without actually swimming laps.  The coordination of swimming and flip turning at the same time is just too much for me.  I mean, really, I can’t even run with proper coordination.

So, I am focused on the freestyle (and just touching the wall and turning my body).  I have learned that my left hand comes to far to the right.  Now I keep it in a straight line.  I have also learned that my hands flip up instead of down when entering the water.  I now have trained them to point down.  I have often brought my arms out of the water before they reach all the way back, but now I follow my pull all of the way through.  Not sure what is going on with my legs, but that will be the next step in the process.  I almost forgot how much I enjoyed learning.  And I am even becoming a better swimmer!

Spending Money is Motivation

Not many people in the water with me... this is how I like it

Not many people in the water with me… this is how I like it

Rather should I say that when you spend money on a race, you are one step further at being more motivated to actually complete the race.  There was only one race that I missed.  The reason was illness.  Normally, I don’t mind running when I have the sniffles, but this was the full on nasty flu where my body felt so limp that I could barely get out of bed.  Otherwise, when I spend money on a race I make sure that money doesn’t go to waste!

So, I have been thinking about doing a Half Ironman for quite some time… since this past summer when I completed my first two sprint triathlons.  I was considering the next step, an Olympic distance, but for some reason I just decided to skip that step.  I don’t know, I guess I figured that I might as well go the distance on this one.  And it’s not like I did a 10K or a 15K before my first half marathon.  I managed a 5K, but that would be similar to the sprint triathlon in this situation.

 

The constant debate in my head wasn’t about whether or not I would do a Half Ironman (eventually followed by a full IM of course), but about when I would do it.  I knew it would be during the summer at some point, but I was really opposed to completing one during our vacation or even after our vacation.  I’m sure my husband would love me to pieces if I woke up at 5:00 AM in our little camper to go train for 4 or 5 hours.  I’m sure I would be able to find some nice lakes to swim in though.  Okay, so it would be ideal to find a race that I can complete before our vacation.  Then I could just relax (you know, relax while on vacation with 3 little kids).

 

That was settled.  I needed to find a Half that I could do in May or June.  Well, one popped up on my radar right away.  It was a Half Ironman in Kansas.  Yay Toto!  It is at the beginning of June (right around my birthday… but just after it so I could race with the next age group and have a better chance of not coming in last).  Then I started reading the reviews.  Lots of hills on the bike.  Wind, lots of wind.  Choppy lake… waves about 3 feet high.  Running in circles.  Running in 95 degree heat.  Wow!  That sounds like fun!  Sign me up!  I do love challenges right?  Sure.

 

Aha!  I was waiting for this.  Another triathlon series, HITS, was considering it’s Colorado date and location.  I was waiting, patiently, because I am so very patient.  Okay, I was about ready to sign up for Kansas and an 8 hour drive across no man’s land when I noticed that HITS had posted its date and location:  Grand Junction in May!  Whew!  I had been so worried that they were going to hold their event in July.  I’m all over that.

 

 

Wait, I just realized something.  This HITS triathlon venue is not Ironman.  Everyone knows the big wigs… you know, the IRONMAN folks.  But lets not get ahead of ourselves.  This HITS Half Triathlon is the SAME distance as a Half IM.  Seriously people, it is the same thing!  I know those hardheaded IM folks would beg to disagree.  Okay, so maybe I will only be getting in the water with 700 people instead of 2,000 people!  I guess that means that I am not tough enough to call myself a Half Ironman!  (not that anyone really calls themselves half of an Ironman, but you know what I mean… you have to start somewhere).  Whatever, I am just a beginner.  I will stick with the smaller event for now.  I don’t really like crowds anyway.  But, I am thinking that I may have to consider an IM event for my FULL.  Okay, that’s settled.  I will eventually be able to put the sticker on my truck after all.  No worries about finding that tatoo parlor… that big red M insignia doesn’t do my skin justice.  I might have to figure something else out.  Ideas anyone?

 

So, I will be in Grand Junction in May.  Too bad I won’t be able to let loose at sea level, but at least it is about 2,000 feet lower than where I am now.  I don’t think I will need to worry about scalding temperatures during the run, but I will have to deal with freezing my tushy off in the lake.  Let’s do this!  1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run here I come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My First Ride

Well, I have had my new shoes since Thursday and today is already Tuesday of the following week.  It took me that long to get on the bike.  So Friday I had a lot of baking and babysitting to do.  Then on Saturday I was out fundraising and running (I just can’t say no to my weekly long run).  I thought Sunday would be the day.  Until I found out that there were 20 mph winds.  Then on Monday it was super cold.  I don’t know.  I guess I was just waiting for the perfect conditions even though I have always said that you just need to suck it up and do it anyway.  I just didn’t want my first biking experience to turn ugly because that would turn me off.

Tuesday morning finally came and I had my chance.  My husband was home in the morning.  Okay, so that meant I could sleep in while he got up to take care of get the kids.  No, I forced myself to get up.  For some reason it would have been easier if I were just getting up to go for a run.  I suppose you just get comfortable doing one thing and you don’t really want to reach outside your comfort zone.  Well, I had no other excuses.  The temperature was reasonable and the winds were calm.

Before I headed out the door I had to get on the trainer one last time.  My husband had to show me how to shift. He told me it was a lot like driving a car.  Good thing I know how to drive a manual transmission.  Yes, as I go faster I need to shift up.  When I was picturing it in my head, though, I just didn’t really see how I was going to be going so fast that I needed to shift up.  I was prepared for slowness.  When I first started running I was slow.  Slow, slow, slow.  Then as I practiced I became faster.  I really can’t expect to just jump on the bike and win a race… but I sure as heck would try.

I straddled the bike at the top of my driveway as my husband watched in anticipation.  Okay, he was actually yelling at me to get inside because of a dog running by.  This dog had been known to chase people in our neighborhood.  I suppose it wouldn’t be a good idea for him to chase me on the bike because I would most likely run him over and crash.  I waited for the dog to leave and then I was off.  Yeah, I made it down the street before I realized that I needed some more clothing.  I know what to wear for every temperature when I run.  I tend to run hot so I thought that I would warm up when I started riding until I realized that riding a bike causes more wind to hit you.  Well, duh.

Jacket, check.  Now I was finally ready to go.  I had already decided to go in and out of the subdivisions.  I knew that I didn’t want to go out on the main road.  I also knew that I didn’t want to cross over to the other side of our community because that would mean going uphill.  I love going up hills when I run and I think I might actually like doing it on a bike.  However, I know that I will dread going down a hill.  That just scares the crap out of me.  So, let’s stay away from hills for now.

Riding in and out of the cul-de-sacs was kind of a pain for me.  It was good for learning how to use the shifter because I would constantly speed up and slow down.  However, I just wanted to go faster and not have to stop, but that would mean getting out on a busy road.  And I wasn’t even sure what to do at a stoplight.  I mean, do people still use those arm signals?  What if I wanted to turn left?  I would be sitting there in the middle of the road with all of these cars around me. I guess I just kind of felt exposed.  I knew I didn’t belong on the sidewalk, but I also didn’t feel like I belonged on the street.

I felt like I could go for a long time.  I wasn’t even sweating so I wasn’t even sure if I was burning any calories.  It didn’t seem like a real workout to me, but I think that would be different out on the open road where I could really get going.  The only thing that stopped me from going more than 10 miles was the fact that I didn’t have any padded biking shorts yet and that my upper body was tense from leaning over in an awkward position.  Yep, I obviously don’t have the endurance for that yet.  Just like running, I would have to work my way up.

All in all, it was an okay experience and I will definitely get out there more.  I feel a bit more confident about a triathlon.  Now I need to focus on getting out onto the roads where all of the cars are.  As I was driving today, I saw a cyclist wearing a very bright green jacket.  Yep, that is a good idea.  It looks like bright and ugly will become part of my wardrobe.