My First Triathlon Experience: The 2011 LA Triathlon

Ah, the LA Triathlon. My very first triathlon experience is under my belt. I’m glad that the anxiety is all over and now I can focus on bigger and better things (to be announced at the end of the post…don’t skip down!).

Despite having shown up at the expo later than I wanted to, I sat through all of the course talks and newbie clinics. I felt a little less nervous but little did I know that the panic would set in at the 11th hour.

After leaving the expo with my new iFitness race/hydration belt and a shuttle ticket, I ran some errands before getting things set up at home. My wetsuit had a few tears in it already and I needed to grab some energy gels. I also had to test out my bike one last time before the race so I took it for a spin to the bike shop — who knew that bike patch glue works well for wetsuit repair? — and then to a friend’s house.

On my way back from her place, I began noticing a grinding sound. Something was amiss and my sanity was about to unravel for an hour. As I started inspecting my bike, my chain decided to jigger itself loose. Then I noticed that the gear was grinding near the deraileur. I took my allen wrench and went to town on my bike. I also looked up about 10 different YouTube videos to figure out how to fix the darn thing. By the end of an hour — and about a dozen expletives later — things were back to normal. I packed my T1 bag, double checked the glue on my wetsuit, laid out my trisuit and armwamers. I ate dinner and tried to go to bed.

Usually the night before a race is nervewrecking. I get nervous. I start overanalyzing whether or not I’ve trained enough or properly. I took solace in knowing that there were probably many hundreds of other newbie triathletes up at that very moment thinking the exact same thing. By the time I fell asleep it was 10pm (quite early on a pre-race night) and I awoke at 2:30am, 3:30am, 3:45am, and then again at 4:15am.

I got up and threw my clothes on. I packed my breakfast and headed out the door with all of my gear in one go. I’ve always been a fairly light packer. I sped to Downtown LA via 6th Street, which has always been my little secret. Very little traffic the morning of the race. I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t find a parking lot with an attendant so I went to the same one I parked at for the expo, put a $10 in an envelope, marked it with my license plate number, and tossed it into the kiosk hoping that I’d see my car again come that afternoon.

I rode down Figueroa to 12th Street, where the shuttles were lined up and ready to take athletes to Venice Beach. As I boarded the shuttle with about 50 or so more triathletes, it was slightly comforting. Nervous energy was in the air. Everyone was pretty quiet and focused. Some people put on headphones, others gazed out windows, and no one fell asleep. The energy was a little intense but I felt strangely at home. I was finally with my people — the Type A’er, the planning and rehearsing and thinking and reflecting types — and it felt nice. Our driver got lost a few times but we finally made it to Venice Beach. The guy next to me chucked and said that we probably could’ve biked there faster. (I kind of agree!)

T1 wasn’t too hectic. By the time I got there some of the other athletes were already set. I took awhile to get everything set up — bike on the stand, appropriately placed towels, socks, shoes, etc. When everything was done, I decided that it was finally time for breakfast. I was pretty nervous and I rarely have an appetite on race morning, but nonetheless I inhaled 6 or so bite sized brownies and a packet of PowerBar energy blasts. I downed some water and headed to the volunteer station to get myself marked up for the race ahead.

As the transition area closed, everyone was called out to the water for the morning remarks and the national anthem. They began to call the waves — all 16 of them — and it started off with the elites and pros first. It was inspirational seeing how laser focused they were and how they entered the water with such strength and purpose. Right at about that time I remembered that my open water swim coach had mentioned that it was best to get into the water prior to the start of the event to acclimate to the temperature. Even though the water was actually warmer than air temperature, it was probably a good idea anyways so I left the race area to join the other athletes who were doing the same thing.

I practiced a few dolphin dives as the waves began to pick up. I was feeling strong about my training at that time and ready to just get started. I still had about an hour to go before my wave would be called, so I did my best to stay warm. I jogged up and down the beach in my wetsuit, dunked myself into the water, swam a little bit, chatted with some of the other age groupers. It was fun connecting with others who had been training for months leading up to the event, just like me.

Before I knew it, we were up to the start line. We ran down the beach, into the water, and dove right in. Even though I had warmed up prior to this, the water temperature just sucked the air out of me. I was only completing the sprint distance (1/2 mile swim, 14 mile bike, 3.1 mile run) but about 0.1 mile in to the swim I was already panicking. It was partially because I had only truly been in the ocean once before. Another reason was that the wetsuit had settled into me a sense of claustrophobia. The people around me didn’t freak me out as much as I had anticipated, and there were lifeguards everywhere. It almost felt like the number of lifeguards outnumbered the number of athletes. One quickly paddled up to me to see if I needed help, but I turned it down and kept going. I tried to get into a rhythm and to put myself into a calmer mindset. I told myself that I had trained hard for this section. I tried to remember the words of encouragement I got from everyone. I told myself that I had finally committed to a goal and was in the process of achieving it if I could keep my bearing. My endurance needed some work so I flipped between freestyle and backstroke. I made it to buoy 1 just fine and had two more and a coastline to go. My Coney Island Crawl ended up leaving me with pretty bad chafing on my neck, days of neck cramps, a lot of spent energy, and bout so breathlessness. Having to switch to backstroke for about half of the swim meant that I ended up swimming in zig zags around the remaining two buoys and back towards the ocean. I honestly probably ended up swimming more like 0.6 miles.

I was swimming with all the energy I had. I felt pretty spent in the water. As much as I was reaching for the shoreline I felt like I was moving inches at a time. I kept trying to remember what my swim instructor told me — reach as far as you can with your fingers, push back with your arms, repeat — but each time it felt like the shoreline was barely moving. A lifeguard paddled to me and coached me back to the shoreline to keep me from zigzagging back towards buoy 3. I was incredibly grateful for them. I kept swimming and swimming as far as I could until someone told me to just stand and run out. (I had remembered hearing advice that I should swim until my fingers can hit the ground before getting up, since you swim faster than you walk. I suppose for me that was pretty arguable!)

I got out of the water and was pretty dizzy. From the race pictures my cheeks were rosy and I was looking down most of the time. Sounds about right. It was difficult getting my bearing, getting my wetsuit off, and getting my shoes on. My transition time was four and a half minutes long, which is a pretty long time. I walked my bike out of transition and got on to it and started enjoying the experience.

As I rode down Venice Blvd. I couldn’t help but think to myself that the hard part of the triathlon was over. Just a few short months before I was absolutely terrified of the water and signed up for lessons. Did I really just finish an ocean swim and NOT get plucked out by lifeguards or deemed unfit for participation? I guess in this case, you really need to fake it until you make it. If you had even looked like you were doubting yourself they’d pluck you out of the water. I was glad that they didn’t do that to me.

I kept riding, being very mindful of any sort of clicking in my bike. I was a bit scared that things were going to fall apart since I don’t really deem myself a bike handyman. I tried to shift gears but things felt awry, so I loosened them up and just rode on the 1-1. As the race director had said the day before, biking isn’t so much about the equipment as it was about the engine. I pedaled as hard as I could up the hills I never anticipated, tried to rest my numbing hands every mile or so, and kept focus on Downtown LA. The bike portion was definitely the most exhilarating part of the entire event, equipment withstanding. I rode through familiar parts of my city and hoped to see a few familiar faces out there but it wasn’t in the cards that day.

T2 was a piece of cake, mainly because I had nothing to change. I parked my bike, grabbed a drink, got my GU on, and started running. I had practiced this transition often at the gym, so the rubber legs were completely expected. Even though I am not a particularly fast runner I deemed this segment to be my strongest. I had been running the longest, after all, and it was the thing that got me into training for the triathlon in the first place. I enjoyed seeing all of the other athletes make the climb up to the Disney Concert Hall. On the way back down the hill, I was enjoying myself so much that I tried to crack a joke with an older man also running. He seemed like he was struggling and as I cracked my very silly joke, he seemed to just get angry with me, so I wished him a good run and kept pushing. By the time I made it down the hill the 3rd mile marker welcomed me home and it was a fairly strong finish. I tried not to sprint all the way down to the finish, only picking up my stride just a little bit. I had learned from my Disneyland Half Marathon that you definitely shouldn’t gun it at the end, especially if you had not trained at those speeds…it only leads to injury, something that I am unfortunately still dealing with to this day.

All in all, the LA Triathlon was a great experience. I learned a lot about myself in the process. I was kind of sad that it was all over! I tried to look at it like this: my training was the journey, and the event was the celebration of said journey. When I convinced myself of that, and the fact that training is never really over until you say it is, I felt a lot better.

My final times were pretty decent. I finished on 2:05:39. My swim took 28:39. My bike took 1:01:57. My run only took 27:48.

The night before, I had been eyeing a few different races…one was another local sprint triathlon in October, and one was a half/70.3 late next year (1.2 mile swim/56 mile bike/13.1 run). In the 7 days after the LA Triathlon I ended up treating myself and registering for both. I’m very excited about the prospect of doing the half. It’ll require lots of training. Lots and lots and lots of training!

I chose the HITS Half Triathlon in Lake Havasu for a number of reasons. It’s close enough to home that I could take vacation time and just drive myself out there (much cheaper than shipping my bike). I’ve also been to Lake Havasu City before so I know what to expect. Plus, I think it’s close enough where my family and friends can come out for it if they choose to. I’m excited about the adventure ahead. Partially terrified, but mostly excited. Reminds me of when I first decided to register for the LA Triathlon.

See you at the next finish line!

 

The Big Day Is Finally Here

After months of preparation, the big day is finally here! The LA Triathlon starts in less than 12 hours. OY!

I’m incredibly nervous but mostly excited. I think I finally have all of my effects in order — wetsuit, trisuit, arm warmers, racing belt, bike (and all the things that come with it), helmet, shoes, towel, tools — and now I can finally relax for the evening.

The last time I ran a benchmark race was the 5K in March. Everything in between has been pretty fun, but mostly filler. I’ve been nervous about those other races before, but the anxiety I feel tonight is similarly reminiscent of that first 5K. I suspect I won’t feel this way again until Athens, which will be a mess all in itself…and I’ll be in a different country to boot.

After sitting through the course and newbie briefings at the expo today, I feel a lot more comfortable and I think I’m just ready to go have a good time. I’m excited that the LA Triathlon is my first. I love the city I was born and raised in and would not want to share this first experience with any other in the world!

In keeping with tradition, whenever I cross off a bucket list race or milestone, I register for another one…so I think I will wrap up my dinner and do exactly that. See you at the finish line!

When Your Best Effort Doesn't Seem Good Enough

I’m typing this as I sit on two bags of frozen vegetables.

This morning, I woke up a little bit on the late side. I had been looking forward to my long run (15 miles) for days now, since the half marathon last Sunday. Things were looking rosy after I took a bit of time off from running to ice my legs and recover.

I took three days off and started running/walking again:

  • Wednesday evening: 5.14 miles. Most of it was walking…I think I might’ve only ran about one or one and a half miles of the whole five. The rest of it was walking and it was with a friend. Energy: low. Morale: high. Pace: slower than usual. Felt: good.
  • Thursday morning: 2.84 miles. Most of it was running at a faster pace than usual. I got up early with Shant and did a quick tour around the neighborhood. Energy: high. Morale: high. Pace: faster than usual. Felt: good.
  • Saturday afternoon: 3.65 miles. All of it was walking along the Venice boardwalk after my LA Marathon/Roadrunners kickoff event. Energy: medium. Morale: high. Pace: slow. Felt: good.

Today I walked/ran a cumulative 10.04 miles. I decided to mix up my route a bit and took the route backwards to downtown instead of to the beach. I wanted to run to downtown, through it, and then back to my apartment. It looked great on paper and the distance was perfect for my training schedule, so I prepped for it. Shant was still here and wanted to come along for the 15 miles so he laced up his shoes and prepped his bike and we were on our way.

I made a point to stretch thoroughly and slowly, warm up, and go at a really slow pace. I was in it today for the distance, not the time. I made it to about four or five miles out before I started feeling that nagging uncomfortable feeling again in my right thigh. It comes on gradually. One foot in front of the other for a block or two and suddenly something gets tight. It then increasingly gets more and more difficult to put that opposing foot farther in front of you. After awhile it seemed as though I had to stop for a stretching break at every light. I tried not to look at my RunKeeper to check out my pace but had I known that I was pulling a 15-minute mile (my usual is between 11-13 minutes) I would’ve known earlier that something was wrong.

I took Beverly all the way down to the bridge before Beaudry. I had to cut around the side streets since the sidewalk abruptly ended. Most of the trek was uphill all the way to the Disney Concert Hall and then it was downhill to Olive and Broadway. I took a right at Broadway and pulled out my phone so that I could text Shant to see where he was. (He bikes a block or two ahead since he goes at a faster pace on his bike.) He was at the next intersection, but by the time I got there, I was already in pretty bad shape. Tearing up, I told him that my leg was hurting again and that I wasn’t sure what to do. We were a long ways from home and I didn’t bring my wallet, but he did. (Thank goodness!) We stumbled upon Grand Central Market and went in to find a place to sit and thankfully, came across a Chinese masseuse.

Shant ran off to find an ATM so that I could get a few minutes in. The masseuse definitely knew what he was doing. By the time I was done I had nearly cried three or four times but it felt much more relaxed. I felt that at least I could walk the 7 or so miles back to get the distance in. Shant had somehow finagled a cheap merchant to give him a bag of ice so that I could rest for a half hour before we headed back. He did a good job at trying to cheer me up as I sat there moping.

We decided that it was time to head out so we went back onto Broadway and took a right on Sixth Street. The street narrows a bit so we headed to Wilshire and began heading home. I tried to jog a bit but only made it a few miles until I had to stop again. My right leg was throbbing again but now my left leg was tensing up. Things weren’t looking too hot and even walking was getting unbearable, so I flagged Shant down and we hopped a bus back home. The bus dropped us about a mile out, so we took a leisurely stroll through my neighborhood to get back home. As soon as I got there, he prepped the shower and bathtub for an ice bath. During my bath I was flipping through one of my old Runner’s World magazines and came across a cauliflower mac and cheese recipe and we decided to make it for dinner. It was delicious!

Despite a fairly good end to a pretty crappy day, I can’t remember the last time a 10-miler felt…unaccomplished. With the rate I’m going, I’m trying really hard to make sure I’m in good enough shape to make it to Athens, but doubt has really began to creep in. I’ll need to re-evaluate my training schedule between now and November to make sure that I can hit my targets and that I can finish safely and without injury. Now’s probably a good time to double-down on my acupuncture visits, massage appointments, and sleep/school/work schedule. At my peak I was running 40 miles a week. Now at 20 I feel like I’m slacking off and accomplishing nothing.

I’m also starting to debate whether or not I should skip the LA Triathlon this year so that I can just focus on my marathon training. It’s a shame — I’ve really been looking forward to it. It’s only 14 days away but I wonder if I can do a lot more damage by pushing myself through a multi-sport race. You could argue that I could take the event slow, but I know myself and I know that I’ll want to push as hard as I can. I’m asking myself a lot of questions…

  1. Would I regret not doing the LA Triathlon? Probably.
  2. Will it exacerbate my injuries? Most likely.
  3. Would I prefer the LA Triathlon over the Athens Marathon? I’m not sure. The LA Triathlon is here at home so there’s less stress. I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and I wanted to do it in a big way…so this is it.

So now, I’m sitting on two bags of ice, polishing off a glass of wine, and thinking about the next couple of months and what it looks like. My LA Marathon training group starts next week. It’s definitely going to effect my training to have to run double-duty until November. (Group training on Saturdays and then long runs on Sundays.) It’s been more than a week since I’ve hit the pool or a bike. The triathlon is 14 days away and I haven’t made a decision yet but it’s weighing heavily on my mind. I need to make a decision — is the LA Triathlon more important than the Athens Marathon? If I had to choose, which one would I pick?

Fitness Fridays: Working Through Excuses

One of the most important lessons I learned while running is how to read.

Your body was built to preserve itself. It does everything it can do to protect your energy reserves, so once in awhile you’ll find that your brain comes up with white lies to get you out of running. By learning to read your body during your run, you’ll save yourself the heartache of stopping a moderate workout early. Other times, you’ll learn to back off when you’re pushing yourself too hard. Excuses come with the territory but you just have to learn to read when your brain is in fact playing tricks on you.

Here, I’ll outline some issues that have come up with me and what I did to work through them.

Problem: After a long day at work, I’m mentally beat. That translates into me feeling physically tired. All I want to do is go home and rest.

Solution: I tell myself that I’ll keep it short. I devote 10 or 20 minutes to a short run. Most of the time I have enough energy to do twice or three times that, so I keep going. Only once or twice did I stick to that minimum time.

Problem: I had an early lunch and now it’s 7pm and I’m starving! If I eat now I’ll cramp up on my run.

Solution: Have a light snack or one bite of a protein bar. If I can get liquid calories from a protein shake or a gel, even better. Then I can run with no GI distress.

Problem: I forgot my iPod. I don’t think I can get through my run.

Solution: Instead of drowning out the sound of your efforts, learn to focus the energy inward. Listen to your breathing. Pay attention to your form and posture. Get to know your route. Soak in the world around you. Make eye contact with drivers while crossing the street.

Problem: My friends keep bailing on my runs. It’s demotivating.

Solution: Keep going without them. By being consistent they’ll know that you’ll be there when they are ready to get back into a routine.

Problem: My RunKeeper/GPS won’t go no matter how many times I restart your phone or refresh the program. My life is officially over.

Solution: Run with a watch on a familiar route so that you can duplicate it in your log…or, neat concept — run for fun and don’t time it. Go enjoy yourself!

Problem: I want to go running but the person I want to go with hates running.

Solution: Tell them to hop on a bike and come along for the ride.

What are some excuses you come up with? Let’s see if we can work through them together!

Recent Read: Kara Goucher's Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons

As you may already know, I hit a bit of a rut with my training a few weeks ago. Before the bout got better, it got worse…by a lot. Eventually I did nothing — no swimming, no biking, no running. I was pretty low on motivation. I couldn’t get friends to join me. I was also under a lot of stress. I remember reading somewhere in Runner’s World magazine about Kara Goucher‘s book that was published awhile back (Kara Goucher’s Running for Women: From First Steps to Marathons). It was geared towards women runners and was said to be a great resource, so I dusted off my nook, bought the book, and began reading.

I spent one weekend devouring the book. I couldn’t put it down! The three sections that I found most helpful included:

  • Balancing running with family and work: she gave tips and first hand advice on how to manage different commitments, deal with setbacks and guilt, and the positive reinforcement system
  • Finding the right training program for you: understanding that everyone has strengths at different distances and that you don’t have to race to be a runner
  • Building a successful support team: how to speak to your loved ones, friends, and family and help them help you during training, even if they can’t run every step alongside you

As I flipped through the pages, what was most helpful was that her authentic voice came through. It was incredibly genuine. It didn’t feel like I was getting advice from a world class Olympian. It felt like I was getting advice from an older sister.

My favorite piece of training advice: run three days a week. The three runs should include one easy day, one hard day, and one long day. Anything else outside of that is just gravy. With that mentality I’ve been able to schedule my runs in a lot easier, and it takes less mental preparation if I’m not so busy worrying about times, pacing, distance, route, etc. Easy/Hard/Long. Super simple!

Pick it up! My rating: 10/10

Fitness Fridays: Set Your Intention

It’s that time of week again! I wrapped up an awesome Team Dress for Success orientation last night (hey, it’s not too late to join!) and it was super motivating. To top it off, I had an amazing run this morning as my ever-loyal boyfriend decided that he’d bike alongside me for the entire 10K trek. When I came in to the office today I was admittedly a little tired from the bike ride to work but I tried to stay focus amidst all of the work I still have ahead for a successful season. Check out my vlog below or keep reading…it’s your choice!

What really started setting my day on fire was an amazing call I got from one of Dress for Success’ past clients. (If you don’t already know, Dress for Success helps women transition from unemployment to work by providing them with career development services and work-appropriate attire for their interviews and eventual employment.) Her story: she used to have an amazing job and fell on hard times. (Sounds familiar.) Hard times ended up escalating and she started living out of her car. Her family eventually took her back in while she is trying to get back on her feet…and she is trying…trying VERY hard. Interview after interview, application after application, she remains diligent and focused. She has set an intention of being able to land a new job here in the city, preferably in an office-type environment. Her goals are clear and as she called to give thanks for what we’ve provided to her, she very tearfully unloaded her story. I was touched that we were able to give her the help she needed and invited her back in to take advantage of our other resources so that she can give herself even more of an edge.

So, you may ask, what does finding a job have to do with Fitness Friday? Well, it’s not too far removed actually. Setting an intention is necessary whenever you are trying to achieve any goal, no matter how large or small or insurmountable it may seem. The next time you head out for a workout or for lunch, ask yourself what you are trying to achieve. If you’re heading out to lunch, are you looking to stuff down whatever you can find at the closest fast food joint? Or, are you really looking to nourish your starving body and tired mind? Set your intention, change the way you look at things, and you might be surprised at your results!

Taking Time Off Is Hard To Do

So the past few weeks I’ve inadvertently taken a bit of time off from consistent and regimented training. A part of me wishes I had a triathlon coach. Another part of me wishes I had more friends that were into running. (I’ve fixed that my coordinating the RunKeeper meetup group in LA as well as the Dress for Success LA Marathon team.)

I’ve had some major life changes over the past few weeks that I’ve had to deal with:

  1. I parted ways with a project that I worked on for 3 and a half years
  2. I parted ways with a really close friend
  3. I went through a relationship crisis (things are better now)
  4. I’ve recently decided to finish grad school (only 6 classes left)
  5. I’ve adopted a cat (he was on the euth list)
  6. I’m coming down with something that feels strangely familiar to bronchitis/pharyngitis (on antibiotics now)
  7. I’m in the process of deciding what to do about my business (always in flux)

So, in a sense, as life ramped up a bit, my training took a back seat. I’m only human, right? I’m trying to rationalize that this is totally normal but it still makes me anxious since I have so many races coming up this fall.

Over the past few years I’ve gotten better and better at listening to my body. Especially with running it feels like I can better discern when I’m legitimately not feeling well and need a break, versus just being lazy. It’s not always easy to reconcile the two, but definitely necessary. I don’t really want to exacerbate a slight running injury or the slight pain in my lungs, and if it means that I have to take a few weeks off to prevent myself from being down for a few months (something that’s not totally out of the realm of possibility, given my health history) I’d rather do just that.

I’m trying to use this time well to reflect on my training, go over my training logs, evaluate my progress, and so forth. The graphs look impressive and I suppose they make sense. After a number of solid months of serious training, it only makes sense to scale back and to allow my body to reap the benefits of said training and to become stronger. (That’s what it says to do in all of the running books, magazines, and websites I’ve read.) So, as it seems, my body and my life seems to be on the right track.

I’m also using this time to catch up on some reading (I just fired my nook back up and purchased Kara Goucher’s ‘Running for Women’). I have a few books from the library checked out too, one called Spontaneous Healing and one on Ayurveda medicine. I’ve been thinking about getting a second Master’s degree (my first one is in progress right now) in some sort of non-Western medicine field so I’d like to test my interests level a bit by doing some independent reading. It’s the same approach I took when I was trying to decide if my current degree program was for me: I checked out about 40 contemporary marketing communications books from the Santa Monica Public Library, read through all of them, and decided that I was still interested in learning more…so I took the plunge. Looks like I’ll be conducting the same type of experiment this time around.

With my time off I’ve been trying to get my affairs in order…get checked up for my cholesterol (this time last year it was in the 210 or 215 points range), get regular sleep, try to put together some regular semblance of a schedule, get back into the routine of being in school, etc etc. This weekend to myself has been great. So far I’ve gotten everything on my to-do list done: got an early jump start on my reading for class, did laundry, finally went grocery shopping, got an overdue massage (can be misconstrued as luxurious but it really is just an hour and a half of me getting beaten up by a Chinese man), got checked up at the doctor’s office, and caught up with some friends. I’m halfway through reading Kara Goucher’s book and I hope to get in a few more chapters in my PR book. So, all in all, it’s a nice rest from training but I will be more than motivated to hit the ground running, get some great pool time in, and hop back on the bike.

Taking time off is a necessarily evil. It’s not really evil, but for someone who likes to go at full throttle all of the time, it’s difficult accepting that I am not a machine and that sometimes I just need to recharge. What do you do when you need some time off?

Via Formspring: Do you consider your heart BPM when training? If so, how do you go about it? Do you track avg BPM? Do you try and maintain a certain % of your max heart rate?

Sorry for the delayed reply! I have NOT done any real BPM training, primarily because I don’t own a monitor. Since I’m new and starting out, I’m really trying to learn to listen to my body instead of measuring and gauging every little thing. (I’m prone to that and I measure as much as I can…)

I’d say that it’s important to gather as much data as you can on your workouts. If you have the means to purchase a monitor, go for it! Some of the cardio equipment at the gym already have sensors built in, i.e. stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical, etc. I would love to have one for running but don’t yet have the need or want to know. 🙂

I also have a philosophy of perceived exertion. People should learn to read their bodies to the best of their ability. Most of the time, the answers are self evident if we just learn to clue in to the signals. Of course there are outliers (i.e. someone found out they were seriously ill and died in a matter of days/weeks) but for most of us, we need to track our habits and address the negative ones before it’s too late. Learning to depend on yourself and not a device/machine to give us all the answers will put us one step closer to that.

Ask me anything

A Saturday of Personal Bests

My Saturday = 4 + 0.5 + 19.39

Needless to say, my Saturday was pretty intense. It started off slowly enough with a steady 4 mile run, which 1) was a catch-up from from the other day and 2) served as a warm up for the rest of the day. I took it at a nice pace, down the street and back to my friend’s house where I retrieved my newly constructed but ill-fitting bicycle. The run was a little more difficult than usual. I’m not sure what happened but something on my run triggered some flashbacks from some prior events in my life and I suddenly started crying. It wasn’t the feeling of sadness, anger, or release. It seemed to be an autonomic reaction to the psychological stimuli. Despite the disappointment from having purchased a bike that I really liked but couldn’t use, I tried not to let it get me down.

But it did.

After I got home from my “walk of shame” I felt super lazy. I ate breakfast, read a little bit, laid around and did nothing, clicked around online, and mentally procrastinated on dealing with anything remotely important. I was feeling a little bit demotivated and mopey and still a bit teary for reasons beyond me. It was a strange funk to be in, but awhile ago I figured out that the time you should be training most is when you feel like doing it least.

So, I lathered up the sunscreen and headed down to the pool for my double session with my swim instructor. I was a bit tense from the day already, and compounding it with not really wanting to be in the water wasn’t good. The two shallow ends were taken and since she noticed me at the open lap swim earlier that week, she deemed me ready for the deep end. (My heart was pounding so loud I could hear it in my ears!!)

We worked on diving today: diving from the seated position, the track runner dive, and the jumping-into-the-pool dive. I struggled with it a lot since I wasn’t as confident in my abilities in the water. My swim instructor does it so effortlessly. Her freestyle stroke is so deliberative. She never seems to gasp for air. Again, that’s years of training staring me back in the face, but she is gently encouraging and only slightly pushy. After our session was over, she went to write out a workout plan for my swimming component and I made nice conversation with another swimmer who thought I was with a team. She complimented me on the strengths of my stroke.

It’s interesting to see how much of your perception of yourself is really all in your head. Things are never as bad as they appear to other people compared to what it looks like in our minds. I’m positive that I’m the belly flopping adult attempting to dive into the 8 foot section as 10 year olds are cannon-balling around me. I’m pretty sure my Coney Island Crawl looks ridiculous. I’m pretty sure I’m overextending my stroke to a point where I’m exerting twice the effort…yet this other person who swam in high school and college thought that I was doing a great job. When I told her I was working on obliterating a list of fears and that swimming was on the list, she seemed impressed. Strange how that works!

When I returned home from my swim session, I was feeling a little better about my training. Even though I feel that I’m behind with my swimming, that’s something I have complete control of. I can always add more swimming and detract something else. I prepped my bike for the long ride and took off.

The ride down Fairfax was smooth. I took it all the way to Venice Blvd and then headed west towards the beach. It was a gorgeous ride — started off in the early evening and ended with the beginning stages of sunset. The ride was very smooth. When available, it feels like riding the bike lanes is a whole lot safer than riding sidewalks. On sidewalks you have to deal with people walking around and getting in the way. You also have to deal with driveways which are pretty dangerous. However, on a bike lane, you have the right to that lane. You get to use it as you would a car lane. By being reasonable and following the laws I got to Venice Beach in one piece!

When I got to my friend’s place we completed another short bike ride around Venice and Marina Del Rey. Biking along the beach bike paths were gorgeous. I’d love to go back and get some riding done there since it’s continuous and scenic.

So, all in all, this Saturday I completed a 4 mile run, a half mile swim, and nearly 20 miles of biking. No day like today!

When in Doubt, Ride a Bike

It was a great weekend in Los Angeles!

With all of the hoopla of Carmageddon, it was definitely a big weekend for public transportation and biking here in LA. In fact, I’ve never been more proud of living in LA. Late last week, it was announced that the biking group, Wolfpack Hustle, challenged JetBlue’s ridiculous $4 flight promotion between Burbank and Long Beach (two local airports roughly 40 miles apart) to see who would make it there faster. I put my money on the bikes and they didn’t disappoint.

I was, in fact, so motivated that I went home on Saturday night after a 12 mile bike ride with my friend Kaylee and purchased a brand new road bike. I’ve been meaning to get a second bike anyways. The good thing is that it’ll require some small upgrades to be in optimal shape for the triathlon, but it’s a much smaller impact on my wallet than previously imagined. Hooray.

To celebrate all of this goodness, I decided to go park my car in a safe spot so that I could bike to work ALL week. I’ve missed doing that the last three since…well, I can’t find a place to park my car during the day. What a lame problem to have!