Tuesday, April 19, 2016

51 Degrees!

51 degree water is cold.

51 degree water is cold, even with a wetsuit on.

51 degree water is cold even with a wetsuit on and makes your face hurt.

51 degree water is cold even with a wetsuit on, makes your face hurt and makes it hard to breath the way you are supposed to when swimming.

51 degree water is cold.

Last year, about this same time of year, my husband and a bunch of friends went to Foster Lake for an open water swim.  Three out of the four crazies were getting ready for Ironman events the following summer.  They came back with stories of how cold it was, how much it hurt their skin and how hard it was.  I was so impressed and thought there is no way anyone is every going to get me to do something like that.  They are crazy!

Well, looks like I've joined the crazy club.

I have my first triathlon next month that has an open water swim.  Probably a good idea to practise before the event, right?
Green Peter Lake
Here's a bunch of crazy people!!  We are still smiling so this was before we got in the water! lol
We headed up to a local lake called Green Peter.  I did an open water swim last summer and it was cold but I had fun.  I wasn't worried about swimming in a lake.  I was worried about how I would handle the cold.I didn't handle it very well.

I think it took me a good 10 minutes before I could even get a couple of strokes done with my face down in the water without stopping.  It was so cold that it made my face hurt and then I couldn't blow out my breath the way I'm supposed to because my body would just panic and I would have to pull my face out of the water.  It was so frustrating!

Brain:  Just put your face down and blow bubbles!
Body:  Owwww! Nope!
Brain:  Try again, we have to make this work.
Body:  Really? Are you kidding me?
Brain:  Seriously, keep at it.
Body:  You are CRAZY!
Brain:  It will get better, keep trying.
Body:  It hurts!  I don't want to do this!!!
Brian:  We have a race coming up so suck it up, we have to figure this out!
Body:  Ugh!!  Okay, it's getting a tiny bit better.  But you do realize this is the stupidest thing we have every done, right?
Brain:  I know!  But it will be worth it...I think.  :-)

Everything on me did pretty well handling the cold....except my face.  Think Ice Cream headache every single time I put my face in the water.  Every. Single. Time.

I got very frustrated that I couldn't make it work better and had to keep stopping.  I was last, as usual and seemed to be the only one struggling.  Frustration and comparison.  Those two things do not make things go well for me on the mental side of things.

Luckily I'm also stubborn.

I wanted to quit.  I wanted to just go back to where we had started and say, "Never mind, I don't really want to do anymore triathlons!"  I wanted to just doggie paddle or do the backstroke.  I wanted to give up.

But I didn't.

That's the win.  I kept trying.

Every time I started swimming again I got a few more strokes done before I had to stop.

So I had some tears about how I did and it's taking me a bit to get over my frustration with the swim.  But I am getting over it and am determined to not let the frustration stop me.  I have worked to hard to stop now!!

Here's a couple of funny things from the swim.   First, fellow athlete Mike lets us all know that the current temperature of the lake is four degrees COLDER than the temperature of the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon coast.  If you have ever been to the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon coast you know that it is numbingly cold.  No wonder my face hurt!!

I told my coach that I would have to make sure I told the kids at my school that so they would have a proper appreciation for how cold the water was.  Later in the day I got the following text from Jon:
Ha!!  Good thing I was wearing a wetsuit!!!  And a special hood.  And booties.

My hands never were bothered by the cold.  It was literally only my face that was the problem.  We have some ideas on how to help with that, maybe.  Which is why it's good to do these things before an event.  Problem solving before the event instead of after.  :-)  The plan is to try and put a layer of vaseline on my face, especially my forehead.  Maybe the small layer will be enough of a buffer to take the edge off of the Ice Cream headache.  We shall see.

After the swim we changed into our biking gear and headed out for a bike ride around the lake.  I was riding alone, which is normal since I can't ever keep up with anyone.  Doesn't seem to matter what the activity is, I'm the slow one.  I really need to find some slower friends!  ;-)

The ride was hilly which is good practise for the Oregon Dunes Tri that is coming up.  I was a little crunched for time because I needed to get home to get my daughter to a driver's ed class so I was only planning to ride for an hour.  So I was going to do an out and back and try and be aware of hills and how long it might take me to come back.

I had done my first hilly ride the week before on a local road that has a lot of ups and downs.  I was nervous about it but I did it without stopping and having to walk my bike at all so I am feeling more confident about hills.  Rolling hills anyway, not super steep straight up ones yet.
First hill ride!  No walking.  :-)
At one point I had gone down a hill for about a mile and it was still going down.  I was worried about how long it would take me to get back up that hill coming back.  I hadn't been riding for 30 minutes yet but I decided to turn around and head back because I thought it would take me forever to get back up that hill.  I had come down a mile.  I had to go back up for a mile.  Now, it wasn't super steep but it wasn't an easy slope either.  I had to work.  But I got up that hill WAY faster than I thought I would.  Evidently I should have gone 30 minutes before turning around.  I ended up being back to the parking lot in 46 minutes.
Hill ride around Green Peter.  :-)
Guess I should have a little more confidence in myself.  :-)

I went up two really long hills and didn't have to stop and walk my bike.  It was nice to have that confidence booster after how frustrated I got on the swim.

I headed for home.  When I got home it was still an hour before Meighan had to be at her driving lesson so I headed out for my short run.

I was only supposed to do 30 minutes.  It was more of a walk/run because it was hot and my legs felt like they were full of lead.  Again, the win was that I even went because I really didn't want to go at all.  It would have been easy to just skip it.  But I didn't.  I sucked it up and got it done.

Then before I took Meighan to her class I unloaded the car, sprayed down the wetsuits, hoods and booties, and started a load of laundry.  :-)

That was a busy, busy, busy day!!!

As always there is a lot to work on but there are a lot of really things going on.  So I'm going to work on getting better about swimming in cold water.  :-)  And I'm going to work at getting stronger at the rest.  And do my very best at everything I'm doing, which may look different on different days but it's what I got.  :-)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Beaver Not So Freezer

Turned out to be an amazing spring day in Oregon.  I have been to the Beaver Freezer as a spectator a bunch of times to watch my husband or other friends.  It's always freezing or raining, or both.

Not this year!  Blue sky.  Hardly any wind.  Absolutely gorgeous!

After I got off work I did a 10 minute bike ride around the neighborhood.  Practiced starting and stopping, you know, just to make sure I won't fall down.  Then I did a quick five minute run up and down my street.

Joe had to work on Friday so I went with my daughter and picked up my packet and my shirts.  Yep, I got two.  One is a short sleeved Beaver Orange shirt and the other one is a long sleeved hot pink one. :-) I figured I had earned them.  Then we went to the local bike shop and picked up a race belt and a nice timing chip strap.

When I got home I started getting my stuff together. One pile for the swim, one pile for the bike and one pile for the run.  Most of the stuff was the same for the bike and the run which made it easier.  Then I had to clean out my workout backpack so that it only had the stuff I needed for the race.  I made sure that my water bottles were all filled and ready to go on my bike. I had my helmet and gloves set out.  Then I got my race packet.  I put the number on my bike and helmet and got my bib put on my race belt.  I put the timing chip on the strap that I had bought.  I was already happy that I decided to buy that, the strap that came in the race packet looked like it would be very itchy and would rub.  I felt pretty set.  Nervous but as ready as I could be.

The nice part to being married to a guy who does lots of triathlons is that I help him get organized a lot of the time.  So I was pretty comfortable about knowing what I needed and what would work for most of the day.

I got tri shorts last week because I didn't want to wear a swim suit and wear it the whole time or take the time to change out of it.  I decided to just wear my sports bra as my top.  I tried it out at the pool earlier in the week and it worked pretty well.  I was very self-conscious about having everything hanging out but I decided not to worry about it and focus on what I wanted to do in order to make the race work for me.

I went to bed around 10:00 p.m. but had a hard time falling asleep.  I think I finally fell asleep before 11:00 p.m.  I needed to be up by 5:30 so I could get breakfast eaten and then do all my last minute getting ready things.  My eyes opened at 4:00 a.m. and I could not get back to sleep.  So I finally gave up and got out of bed.

Last check of my gear.
Get dressed.
Put bike on the rack on the car.
Load up the car.
Head out to Corvallis.

Oh crap.  Here we go.

I was supposed to meet Joe at the Reser Stadium parking lot at 7:15 a.m.  When I pulled in I could see his truck was already there. He wasn't so I figured he was picking up his packet since I hadn't been able to get it for him the knight before.  I was supposed to take a short spin on the bike and then make sure the gears were set so that I would be ready for the hill that is right at the start at the bike ride.  So I rode around the stadium.  Joe pulled up on his bike. He had gone down and gotten his packet and gotten his numbers put on his legs and arm already.
Sunrise from Reser Stadium
Getting ready to go check in.  
We finished getting things organized and then walked our bikes down to the transition area.  I got my numbers drawn on my legs and arm and my hand.

Lots of space in transition, it's pretty early yet.
Here's my spot.  
The weather was amazing!  We couldn't have ordered a more beautiful morning.
One of my favorite buildings on campus, Weatherford Hall.
We got our stuff all set up and Joe and I talked about where I should put things and he gave me advice on where and how I should put things on.  Then we were just standing around which was giving me time to start worrying.  He could see that I was getting teary so we went for a walk to scope out the set up at Langton and how to get to the transition.
Our first triathlon together.  
The men were swimming in Dixon this year and the women were swimming in Langton.  They switch it every year.

Dixon is right next to the transition area.

Langton is not.

We went into the pool so I knew where to check in for my wave and where the warm up pool was.  Then we walked outside so I could walk the route to transition. Joe suggested I put my shoes, socks, hat and towel right outside the door.  This way I could dry off my feet, put on my socks and shoes and  be able to run to the transition easier.  I wasn't the only one that was doing that, there were lots of shoes and towels sitting around outside the door.

Then we walked the green mat all the way to transition.
The first part of the route takes us straight towards Goss Stadium, the baseball field.
Then you run on the cement between Goss Stadium and Dixon Rec Center.  Follow the cones.
When you come around the corner you go along the side of Dixon out to the transition area. The men come out right here. 
My friend Faylene arrived so I was able to get a HUGE hug which was very much needed.  Then Kristy and Tony arrived and I got more hugs!  I felt pretty blessed to have them take time out of their weekend to come cheer me on!

I headed over to the pool so that I could set up my shoes and towel and then do my warm up.  Warm up felt good.  I was relaxed and breathing comfortably.  We got lined up for check in and I asked if it would be possible to be in one of the outside lanes because my knee still hurts when I put pressure on it.  The volunteers were great and made that happen so that was one less thing to worry about.  We got into groups of four and pretty soon it was time to go get our timing chip scanned.  My crew of friends were in the balcony cheering for me already.

Felt a little weird to be the one being cheered for instead of being up in the balcony doing the cheering.

Getting last minute instructions.  I'm the big girl on the end.   
Pretty sure this was when I was still struggling with my breathing.  Ugh.
I jumped into the water and I could tell on the first stroke that something was very, very wrong.  My breath was hitching.  I don't know how to explain it very well.  It was like in the middle of my blowing out the air my body wanted to take another breath and would hitch because, obviously I couldn't with my face in the water.  So then when I would turn my head to breath I didn't feel like I could get enough air.  I kept thinking that if I could just get one looong breath to blow out right then I would be okay.  After a couple of laps it was obvious that wasn't working.  I ended up getting so frustrated and off kilter and knew that it was not going to work to do that for the whole 500 yards.  So I stopped at the wall and just took a moment to kind of reset. I took a couple of long breaths to even out my breathing and then got started again.  It was much better after that.  Still wasn't as good as it could have/should have been.  But it was better than if I had kept fighting myself.

My Garmin said that I finished with a time of 12:52 which is decent.  I was hoping to get under 12 minutes.  I didn't go over the timing mat after the swim until after I got my shoes and socks on so my race time says I did the swim in 15:52.  I didn't think of that at the time, obviously.  :-)

I then made my way to the transition area. Having the shoes on did help me move right along compared to some of the ladies that were barefoot.  I got to the bike area and put on my tank top and jacket.  Got some water and some food and then helmet, sunglasses, gloves and I was ready.  I headed to where I could get on the bike.
Getting ready for the bike. 
That's when I messed up my fancy shmancy watch. I hit the button for transition to be done.  Then it didn't look right so I hit the enter button and stopped it.  So I went to start it again but hit the button to end the bike and start the next transition. At this point I knew I had totally messed it up but I didn't want to spend any more time futzing with it. I had my phone on my bike with Runkeeper going to track the bike, it just wouldn't track my heart rate too. I wasn't going to worry about it.  I'm sure my coach wishes he had the heart rate information.  :-)  At least I have the pace and time info.  :-)

Heading out!
Up the hill.  :-)
They had volunteers at each corner and intersection stopping traffic and making sure we knew which way to go.  That made it much faster to get through campus and out into the country.  My goal was to do the bike ride faster than I had done it a few weeks ago with Janelle.  Because I had paid attention to my speeds on the hills during the practise it made it easier to know if I was going faster or not.  I did better on the hills for sure.  The weather was great and for the most part the cars that went by were patient about going slow and waiting for the race participants.  I even passed a few people, not just on the downhill either. ;-)

I had just gotten up the big hill after the last turnaround and was heading back to campus when I saw my husband go zipping by.  He was whooping it up and made me smile.  Not much later I saw my friend and co-worker Chad heading out.  It was fun to see smiling faces that I knew out there.  :-)

I had the funniest thing happen when I got onto campus. I was on the road that would take me back to the transition area.  The runners are on the other side of the road, the bikers that are just starting out are next to them.  I notice a squirrel running down the road between runners and the bikes. Everyone was laughing about the squirrel wanting to be part of the triathlon.  Then it moved over and ended up running in the road straight at me!  Guess it wanted to play a game of Chicken with me.  I'm laughing and hoping that I'm not going hit the silly thing in front of everyone and then crash. lol All of a sudden it stops and I swear it looked like a cartoon character.  The look on it's face was, "Holy Shit!" and it suddenly dove to the bushes on the side of the road.  I won the game of Chicken!  The spectators were cheering and laughing.  It was fun to end the bike ride with laughter.

I came down the hill and got off the bike in the appropriate spot....and I didn't fall down!  I walked the bike into the transition area.  Probably should have been trotting but it felt good to give my legs a little time to get used to being upright again.  I drank some water, got more fuel, used my inhaler (just to be safe) and headed out on the run. Started the Garmin for just a run so that I could have the info for all three parts of my day, even it it wasn't all tied together with transitions like it should have been.
Heading out for the run. 
Oh my word, my legs felt so slow!  It is a very weird feeling to run right after a long bike ride.  I headed up the hill to get to the loop I would be doing three times.  It was getting warmer but I was handling that better than I have in the past.  The route is three loops around campus.  You go down a hill, cut across, go up the hill on the other side of the block and then go across and repeat. The hill doesn't seem so big until you are in a race and you have already done a swim and a bike ride.

My friends were waiting at the top of the hill and cheering me on.  Perfect place for them to be. Motivated me to run up the hill each time because I didn't want them to see me walking up it. :-)  Just past them was the water station.  I always get a couple cups of water and walk and drink until I get to the last garbage can.  Give me a chance to drink the water instead of wearing it and I have found that the short break actually helps me do better during the run.  As I went around the corner my calves were starting to feel tight so I slowed down a little.
Coming up the hill.
I heard someone coming up behind me and then they kind of hovered right there for a bit. Suddenly I got a big smack on my ass.  My husband had caught up with me.  Good thing it was him.  :-)  He ran with me for just a little bit to see how I was doing and then took off to finish up.  He wanted to be at the finish line waiting for me!  Gotta love that!  :-)

Coming up that hill the last time and having Joe, Faylene, Kristy, Tony and Jon all hooting and hollering for me was awesome!  Pretty awesome cheering squad!!

A little farther up the road was our friend Joe and his son JJ were there cheering on some friends but definitely included me in the mix as I went by.  I heard and appreciated their cheering at the transition and on each lap of the run.  It was awesome to run by and see their big smiles.

I have this thing were no matter how I have done during a race I have to run well at the finish.  There have been races where I have had to walk almost the whole race but I still run into the finish. I'm not going to walk in front of all those people cheering.  :-)

Joe was there waiting for me as I was getting ready to turn the corner into the finish area.  Love my guy and how much he believes in me.  He ran along side me on the other side of the fence right to the end.  That's where I got my big hug.  I think that's my favorite part about doing events with Joe. We get to be proud of each other at the end.
Finish Line!
Favorite part of an event!
Love this man so much. 
Then hugs and high fives from the rest of the crew.  I have some pretty amazing people in my life. Stuff like this, whether I'm the one doing the cheering or the one being cheered for, makes realize that I've got great people around that I get to call friends.
Joe, me, Ron, Mike and Coach Jon.  All Beaver Freezer finishers. :-)  
Then we got some food!

We got last hugs and goodbyes from our friends and started making our way down to transition to pick up our gear.  When we got to Reser Stadium we put our bags in the car and then went for a 15 minute ride around the parking lot. Jon had said to do that before we left campus to give our legs a bit of a shake out.  If you are going to have a coach you should probably listen to what he says.  I'm sure people in some of the buildings nearby thought we looked funny because we basically found a quiet corner of the parking lot and just went in circles for 15 minutes.
After race picture. 
Then we headed home.

Food, shower and then nap.  Aaaahhhhhh.

The Bad:

  • Struggling with the breathing during the swim.  I'm going to have to work on that.  I didn't use any of the things that Bri has taught me to get it under control.  I could have flipped over and done backstroke for awhile. I've also could have done breathing on one side which forces me to slow the exhale down and gets me smoothed out.  I didn't do that either.  Had a little bit of a panic attack I think.  Anxiety about wanting to do well and knowing people were watching me.  Need to get over that. :-)  
  • Transitions were slow.  I knew they would be and so I didn't let myself stress about them.  I had to start somewhere.  Now I know more what to expect and can work at making that better during the next to events I have coming. 
  • Learn to work the technology!  lol  Seriously!  
  • I will need to be stronger on the bike for sure.  But I know that I'm so much farther than I was that I'll just keep working on it and making progress. It will be interesting to see where I am next by summer time.  
  • After we got home and had lunch I took a shower and headed to bed for a nap.  Felt a little shaky so I went and checked my blood sugar and it was pretty low for me, which was weird because I had a good solid lunch, not to mention the snacks after the race. I had a banana and felt better after my nap.  But my numbers continued to be low all afternoon and evening. Still low a little this morning compared to what I normally am in the morning.  That's going to be something I will have to watch. I haven't been checking my numbers because I have been feeling solid, even with all the new working out.  I'll have to start checking more often just to see how things are doing when it's just regular workouts and then again at the next tri and see if a pattern emerges.   
The Good:

  • I finished in under two hours, which was my goal.  Here is my final results:
  • I wanted under 13 minutes for the swim (which I did get) and the good is that I was able to calm down and do better.  Proud of being able to mentally reset when things were tanking in a hurry.  That is not something I could have done a few years ago.  
  • I wanted the bike to be under an hour and I wanted my average pace on the run to be low 12 minute miles.  Got both of those. :-)  
  • I didn't crash on the bike!!!  Yay!
  • I was very tired and worked very hard during the race but I'm not completed wiped out and sore.  That's a big win because the first and only other time I did a tri I was a sore wreck for a couple of days.  Definitely more in shape this time!
  • I had the support of an amazing husband, fantastic friends and a coach that I'm loving working with.  Pretty sure that I can't fail with that kind of posse behind me!
  • I had fun!  It was challenging and I have a lot to work on but I had a blast.  Sunshine added to the fun factor for sure!
I will keep working at getting stronger and better.  I will work on the other areas that didn't go well.  But it was a very good day and I had a great time.  Fun way to start off all these triathlons I'm signed up for.  

I saw elite athletes that finished their entire tri in less than an hour!  I saw really young people and really old people.  I saw men and women of every age and size possible.  I saw people swimming that looked like they were fighting the water and might drown if they actually put their face in the water.  I saw people riding bikes that looked and sounded awful, but they were getting it done. I saw a guy walk his bike the last three or four miles because he blew out the back tire of his mountain bike.  It was totally shredded.  He declined offered of a ride to the transition because he was determined to finish the entire race, one way or another.  I saw runners that looked like everything hurt but were still moving.  I saw runners who looked like they hadn't been doing anything up until the run, fresh as can be.  (Maybe they were on a relay?)  I saw people fly up the hill and others walk.  But you know what every single one of us had in common?  We all did the Beaver Freezer Sprint Triathlon!! 

A big part of my journey to being a healthier me has been learning to celebrate that I have done the race.  I love celebrating what others accomplish, I have been learning to celebrate what I accomplish. I did a sprint triathlon!!  It was awesome!!  :-)

Next up, the Oregon Dunes Sprint Triathlon.  Need to start working on riding on hills.  Lots and lots of hills.  ;-)