Somebody Somewhere

This has been quite the week for me!  I’ve learned to clip into Speedplay bike pedals (like a big girl)!  I rode my longest ride ever and I attacked a bay swim in seriously choppy waters that our dear Mary Wagner compared to “swimming in a washing machine!”

Saturday was probably one of the best days I’ve had in quite a long time.  One of the most exciting things about exploring multi-sports is that I now have the opportunity to spend time working out with individuals that I would, otherwise, seldom see!  I was quite blessed and encouraged by the bravery that Mary and Jason both showed in taking on the challenge of a bay swim with big waves and a strong current on Saturday morning.  I definitely couldn’t have done the swim without them (nor would I have even tried to do the swim by myself for safety reasons)!  I left the bay and headed to meet up with Bryan who drove us out to Matthews County, VA for a scenic day of riding.  Again, I could not have cycled for almost five hours without his company and his confidence in our ability to meet our mileage goal!

I began our Saturday ride with a lack of confidence in my ability to effectively clip-in to my pedals and, more importantly, to unclip in a timely manner so as not to fall sideways when coming to a stop.  Sixty-seven miles later, I felt quite confident in my ability to manage clipping and unclipping.  This may seem like a mundane accomplishment but this unclipping business has been intimidating me for years!  It’s a miniature, yet significant, accomplishment for me – a milestone in my journey toward a half-ironman.  I have to confess that I DID fall, but I want to clarify that it wasn’t because I had failed to unclip in time.  You see, Dai told me a few days prior to my Saturday excursion that “Triathletes get on and off their bike from the left” in order to avoid the gears on the right when they are moving quickly.  I had been in the habit of putting my right foot down, first, and so unclipping my left foot was less intuitive.  Still, I was determined to make this change before I had further solidified my tendency to dismount on the right side.  Success!  A few hours into our ride on Saturday, I was successfully unclipping my left foot first with very little deliberate effort to do so.  Unfortunately, I had not yet gotten into the habit of shifting my weight to the left when coming to a stop!  Bryan and I were slowing at a scenic dead-end on one of the bike routes and I unclipped my left foot, rode into a patch of thick sand while gazing in amazement at the beautiful landscape… and promptly toppled to the right because that’s where my weight had shifted!  Oops!!  Thankfully, I couldn’t have fallen on a softer surface if I had landed on a mattress!  I gently plopped onto a pile of thick sand and tall grass.  There:  I fell!  I’ve done it and I can move on, right?!

There were a lot of take-aways this weekend with regard to training, nutrition, rest, etc.  However, the biggest take away for me was related to the experience of gratitude.  Have you ever been feeling sorry for yourself and had someone try to comfort you by saying “Someone, somewhere has it worse”…?  I’ve heard it before and I didn’t find it helpful so much as 1) annoying and 2) terribly depressing!  What I realized this weekend, though, is that this is very true but poorly phrased.  I prefer this reframe: “Someone, somewhere is thankful for less!”

Hardships happen.  I’m fortunate in that the injury that is currently preventing me from running is temporary.  I know many who are not as fortunate and yet manage to carry on with great enthusiasm.  I must remind myself, repeatedly because I fight ungratefulness on a daily basis, that I have many things for which I can be thankful.  I’m sure you can see how this would apply across the board and not just to athletics.  So, if you catch me whining… remind me of some of the many things for which I should be thankful:  supportive and encouraging friends and family, the resources to explore new experiences, the knowledge that I will run again, etc.

With that said, I’m grateful for my training rest day, today!

Aaaaaaand the best part!

Aaaaaaand the best part!

After a 3/4 mile choppy bay swim and a 67 mile bike ride, I’m finally showered and in my p.j.’s! Justin, the worlds most amazing future husband, had a cold beer ready for me as soon as I got out of the shower. He also made a tray of nachos stacked with chicken breast, black beans, cheese, cilantro, jalepenos, fresh tomato and Greek yogurt. IT WAS DELICIOUS!! I was in bed by 8:30 p.m. Tired tired girl. Dai tells me the calorie burn on my ride was similar to running 30 miles. Yikes!

The final tally!

The final tally!

We were probably at about 67 miles even, since I forgot to restart my watch after we stopped for FREE CAKE! Regardless – the longest ride of my life!!! WOOOHOOO!!

The best part? I was prepared with good nutrition and anti-chafing tactics. I didn’t bonk and my butt wasn’t sore!

Scenery

Scenery

One of the many beautiful views we took in on Saturday in Matthews County. There are so many things we miss when we’re driving that you can observe while cycling. We saw a vulture swoop down just a few feet in front of us, cranes, and a hawk’s nest that looked like a giant basket!

Helpful Volunteers

Helpful Volunteers

These gentlemen were volunteers at one of the aid stations at the Tour de Chesapeake. They were actually flexing their muscles but I was zoomed in too much so they look like they’re constipated, which is ironic because we were having a conversation about how effective some of their station grub would be in “keeping things moving” in the digestive tract!

Tri to prevent catastrophizing!

“Catastrophizing” is one of my favorite psychology words! You can probably figure this out without much explanation, but catastrophizing involves a type of cognitive and emotional escalation that causes a small issue to become a catastrophe.

My own thought process will serve as an illustration.  It went something like this:

“My calf hurts AGAIN.  I’ve already taking time off and seen a doctor and a chiropractor and a physical therapist.  I’m going to have to go back to the doctor and the chiropractor and the physical therapist and my insurance isn’t going to pay any of it so it’s going to be really expensive.  I’m not going to be able to afford the treatment I need and, even if I can afford it, recovery will take FOREVER.  I’m going to miss out on weeks and weeks of training.  Everyone else is getting faster while I’m barely able to maintain fitness because of this stupid injury.  Actually, this injury has continued to recur.  Maybe it’s some sort of permanent injury.  Maybe I’m one of those “injury prone” runners everyone is always talking about.  The doctor and the physical therapist are going to tell me that I can’t do high mileage.  They’re going to tell me that I am not going to be able to train for a marathon.  I’m not going to get any faster at long distances because I can’t do proper marathon training.  I’ll never qualify for Boston.  I may never run another marathon, ever again.  What if they tell me I can’t run AT ALL and I can never run ANY race EVER AGAIN!!??  If I can’t run, I’m going to gain weight.  I’m going to be fat and unhealthy and lose all of my friends who are runners and die alone!!!”

I’m sure at least some of you can relate.  And, no, the phenomenon of catatrophizing is not exclusive to athletics so it can creep into any part of your life!

If catastrophizing were an Olympic sport, you’d be reading the blog of a gold medalist.  Over the years, I’ve gotten much better about halting this process early on but, like my shin injury, it’s pervasive and I cannot let down my guard.  When Dr. Wittenberg told me that I had to take eight weeks off from running to let the heel heal (alliteration – I love it!) he said to me “Eight weeks of thinking about nothing other than not-running is going to be a long eight weeks.”  So true!  How does someone who LOVES running and THRIVES on a runner’s high survive eight weeks of no-running without losing their mind?

They set goals!  Stop thinking about the running goals that you can’t work toward at the moment.  In some sense, you’re still working toward them but you won’t see any real progress on those until you’re able to run again.  Create a situation in which you can feel a sense of accomplishment soon, and frequently!  You can be creative with your goals. Maybe you want to lower your body fat by a certain % through your cross training.  Maybe you simply want to see how many miles you can ride on an exercise bike in a twenty-minute period, setting a new mileage goal each week.  The goal setting is very personal and it doesn’t really matter WHAT the goals are as long as they are well-constructed goals (I’ll talk more about that in a future post) and they motivate you.

Initially, I tried setting generic fitness goals while we were waiting for my leg to “feel better.”  After the 8-week running ban was initiated, I knew I needed more concrete goals.  After discussing the options with Justin and with my coach (http://www.dairobertsgroup.com/), I  have decided that I will run a half ironman (or an Ironman 70.3) at the end of September 2012.  Ho-ly smokes!  I’m excited!  I’m intimidated!  I’m wondering how in the WORLD I’m going to do it all!  This is a rather large commitment for me; I’ve got class four days a week and I work in the psychology clinic 3 days a week… plus, at some point I should probably start doing my homework.  We’ll see how it goes!  I’m lucky that Justin is so incredibly supportive and Dai is so incredibly flexible!

I’ve been biking and swimming just to maintain aerobic fitness for the last month but now I’ve exited “athletic purgatory,” as I like to call it, and am headed into an intense training cycle. I’m eagerly awaiting the email from my coach with this week’s workout schedule.  There will be swimming, cycling and strength workouts!  Today, I went for my second bike ride outdoors, on the roads, with a “proper” road bike and this afternoon we bought bike shoes for me so that I can begin to learn how to clip into the pedals rather than riding with cages.  I’m already starting to feel much more comfortable on the bike and I’m encouraged by how rapidly I’ve adjusted!  I followed up my bike workout with a 40 minute bay swim with a friend from my days working in the Pentagon, Jason Pittman.  He did quite well, despite being certain that I would swim circles around him.  I learned, today, that if I have a bit of congestion in my ears and the water gets choppy, I experience motion sickness.  I had intended to swim for longer but I began to feel rather nauseated so we called it quits at 40 min.  It was still a good workout AND I learned something; take no chances on race day – pop a dramamine!

I’m thinking about the kind of time goal I want to set for my Ironman 70.3.  I’m thinking under 6 hours?  I believe that could be reasonable if I can get in a respectable swim, a respectable bike ride, and a sub two-hour run.  I’m hoping I’ll have a better idea of what I can expect of myself once I’ve got some tri-specific training under my belt.