Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A true MILEstone

A MILEstone...get it?  No? Ok, read on and you will.

I ran a full mile today (get it now??). Ok, technically .99 but I'm rounding up! My previous best was .5 mi all at once. Now, it's a mile. It was a slow 16:13 mile but it was a MILE! Of course I died afterwards. Almost. It was supposed to be my Couch to 5K Week 6 day 3 workout of 5 min warm up, 25 min run and 5 min cool down. I hadn’t run in 6 days and I wasn’t sure if I could run 25 mins straight. I decided to set my C25K app for the 25 min run and see how I felt as I went. I wanted to at least run a mile. That was my goal today. Four times around the track. And I did it. Barely. But I did it. It was only 16 minutes and 13 seconds, but I was hurting and I needed a walk break. I knew I couldn’t run for 9 more minutes. I walked for 5 then ran for 4 more to finish out the 25. I remember the days where I was terrified to run for 3 minutes because it was way more than a minute-thirty. Baby steps have been working!

It was a beautiful day at the track today!
I was talking to a co-worker today about running. She runs, so we’ve discussed a few things about running on and off, randomly. I jokingly mentioned today that I wished she could coach me, and she said she wanted to! She’s not a coach, but she’s a better runner than I am and I can learn a lot from her. She just does recreational running but we talked today about a workout and she thought up a plan off the top of her head. It includes speed work, which is totally new to me, so it’ll be fun to try out. We will be starting a week after my triathlon so I can start getting ready for my half marathon in Feb.

Now excuse me while I go puke, because for a brief second, I thought running might be fun. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's the final countdown...and the clothes that go with it!

Yesterday marked exactly 2 weeks until my triathlon. I also had a 5K planned for yesterday, but it got cancelled due to “Hurricane” Irene. I still don't have power and broke out of my garage just to get to Panera for human interaction and this blog. You're welcome.

When I began training, I knew I’d have to figure out something to wear on race day, but I just never went forward with it because it was so far away. The other day I realized I needed to get cracking. One problem though, fat people don’t do triathlons, so it’s near impossible to find tri shorts or tri suits that fit me. The largest women’s sizes go up to XL, and while I am an extra large person, I don’t fit into extra large compression clothing, because compression means squeeze the hell out of you so nothing jiggles while you’re doing this. Makes you more aerodynamic I guess.

I was in a bookstore the other day and I found the book “Slow Fat Triathlete” by Jayne Williams.
It’s about her journey thru exercise and her eventual try at a triathlon. It then goes onto tell about how she continues to compete in triathlons and she loves the sport, etc, etc, etc. It’s basically a push in the right direction for overweight people to get going and stop making excuses because everyone can exercise and theoretically do a triathlon, no matter what your body size.

Lucky for me, I decided I could do that on my own. Now while some of the things in her book have been helpful (I haven’t read the whole thing, just skimmed it through once and I am now going back to read through it) I definitely don’t see her as a Slow Fat Triathlete.

I already love the book, so this isn’t going to be a bash fest. There are so many awesome things in there that I’ve read already, such as a list of places that DO sell plus sized triathlon clothing and lists of accessories to make this journey easier as well as a list of resources to check out for everything relating to a triathlon. Everyone knows I love resources. My main dig to the book is that Jayne Williams calls herself a slow and fat triathlete. HA. What does that make me? A Sloth-like Gigantor Triathlete? Her speed and size may not be what will get her into the pro circuit, but I can’t help but compare myself to her when my 17-minute per mile running (which most people can accomplish by walking) is 6 minutes slower than her 11-minute per mile run (and I'm sure she's even faster now!). And my size weight is about 1/3 more than hers. Her journey started at less weight than I am now and my journey to triathlete will be over in 2 weeks. I’m sorry, but even though the book is great and I will praise it over and over, Jayne Williams is neither slow, nor fat.

On page 30 of her book, she says, “Abandon Self-Consciousness. I just can’t say this enough: Self-consciousness is your worst enemy.” I get what she’s saying there, but isn’t calling yourself a Slow Fat Triathlete reckless abandonment into being self-conscious? At first I took pause and thought "am I being a hypocrite? I call myself slow and fat and other names". But you know what? I am slow and fat! Jayne Williams is not.

Her idea to abandon self-consciousness is definitely a great motivator. Just the other day, I was at the track doing Week 6 Day 1 of the Couch 2 5K program and during one of the running intervals, I went by a group of people who were walking. One of the ladies said, “Oh, no she’s passing us!” in a mocking voice. I said “It’s okay, I’m not going fast enough to maintain it, I’m sure you’ll pass me a little bit later”. She said, “How many times have you been around?” I checked my Garmin, G-cube, and saw I had gone 1.5 miles and said “Six” over my shoulder as I was now considerably in front of them. She said “Wow, that’s a lot”. Then about 20 seconds later she lowered her voice and figured I must have been out of ear shot because she said “That’s a lot of movement for someone that size!”. I didn’t respond, but I definitely did a little jig in my head while I thought "you ain’t just whistling Dixie, lady". It’s DAMN hard to move this big mass into everything I’m doing. Swimming, biking and running, not to mention elliptical, spin classes, yoga, and I’m sure that kick boxing class I got a Groupon for, but haven’t used yet, all exhaust me. But I’m doing it. I’ve heard that people can get heckled while running, but I never really thought about it until it happened to me. But you know what? I’ll take it. Because I was tired and hurting by my 6th lap around that track and her mocking me pushed me to go a little bit faster for the last 2 laps. Thank you, lady.

Just one of the things Jayne Williams says is get out there and do it, it doesn’t matter what your size or fitness level is, we all have to start somewhere. That is so true and brings me back to a favorite quote:

So back to my struggles of finding tri gear that fits me. I checked in stores and found that most tri shorts were small medium or large and if I was lucky, there would be an XL on the rack. But as I said before, XL just wouldn’t cut it. I searched all around the interwebs to find someplace that might have something for me. My problem was tri shorts are NOT cheap and I wanted to be sure that returns were possible and not charging me $15 for shipping, then the same for returning. Welcome to Zappos!VIP. I was upgraded to VIP last winter when they kept sending me the wrong size snow pants. With Zappos! Everything is free shipping both ways, but with Zappos!VIP, it’s free next day shipping. Pretty sweet. I try to do a lot of my online shopping with Zappos!, especially if I already know my size in something and need an extra pair. Or I’ll try something on in a store and decide later that I really do want it. Zappos! is my friend and it should be yours too.

In my experience of being a large and in charge lady, I’ve found that men’s sizes are sometimes (almost all the time) bigger, even though they don’t have the hips God granted me. So I went in search of men’s tri shorts. If anything, I’ll get more padding in that area down there, right? I found two pairs that interested me: one was 2XL and one was XL. I was in the frame of mind that men’s XL is larger than the women’s XL, Which is usually the case. The tri gear arrived on Thursday and I danced around excitedly.

Pearl Izumi Elite Tri Shorts
I tried on the Pearl Izumi 2XL shorts first. I didn’t take pictures. No one needs that visual. You’re welcome. They fit just fine, but the waist was huge. Luckily there was a drawstring and I cinched them up nice & tight. They are a little bit shorter than I would like them to be, but they cover all the possible chub rub areas, so they’ll do. Then I took a short walk around the dining room. The material is of the sort that likes to make sound and be noticed. It sounded like I was rubbing sand paper together. Of course I got the giggles. I said “MY god, I could start a fire with these things! Imagine catching on fire during the race? I need to call these people and tell them to have fire extinguishers on site!” My mother just laughed at me.

Then I tried on the longer tri shorts. Size XL.

CW-X Ventilator Tri Shorts
They were a different brand, and they looked a LOT smaller. Like maybe a medium. But they were longer, which was desirable. I got them up to my knees and was laughing to hard to get them up any further. I said “Look, at the thigh part, it barely fits on my calves!” My mother said “Oh, those ones don’t come in XL?” I said “Mom, these ARE the XL!”. She said “Oh, but I didn’t mean it like that!”. She now claims that she was talking about something else, and she doesn’t remember what that something else is, but I think she’s just trying to use her senior citizen discount.  Story of my life.

I’ll be returning the medium shorts, excuse me, the XL shorts and I’ll keep the 2XL. With the way those shorts run, I was expecting to need a 4XL. Those things are tiny when no one is in them!

But here’s the real question in all of this. Tri shorts are made for swimming, biking and running. So, since it’s technically a swimming suit for the swim portion, I don’t know what to do about under garments. Regardless of the top I choose, whether it’s a swim suit under the tri shorts or just a rash guard (like a surfing tee) I will need 2 sports bras under there in preparation for the run.

Oakley Rashguard: though he's not bad to look at either.
But if I go without the bathing suit, do I wear underwear? Such a dilemma. 

What would you do?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. It’s around that time of the month when pizza and chocolate make me happy. I came home today craving pizza for dinner. I knew I had some frozen ones in the freezer so I didn’t bother ordering out & spending $20 on a pizza. When I got home all I had was Kashi. Apparently I was feeling “healthy” when I picked out a pizza from the Natural Foods section of the store.

After pulling it out of the package I was less excited about having pizza for dinner. But under no circumstances can you not have pizza when you have been craving pizza all day. I decided to give it a try and if it sucked, I’d call & order a pizza.

It wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. It was okay, but definitely not satisfying.  And of course, as soon as I finished eating, I saw a commercial for Papa Gino’s. Their pizza looked better. Murphy’s Law at it’s best.

2. I haven’t been on my bike in 28 days. I have been so focused on running and getting in the lake to swim that I’ve slacked on the biking. I’ve done the stationary bike at the gym and I’ve done spinning classes, but I haven’t been on my bike at all in 28 days. That’s pretty crap. If it weren’t for Hurricane Irene blasting us this weekend, I’d plan a ride to get back into it. But speaking of spinning, I love it. I have done it in the past and haven’t really been that into it. Now, though, I love it and can’t wait til my next class. I’m hoping they’ve been keeping my legs strong enough to survive on the bike.

3. Since starting all this race business, I’ve never experienced a race cancellation. I’ve heard of other races being cancelled or rescheduled with no refunds, but it hasn’t happened to me. Until now. I was planning on doing the Tavern to Tavern 5K on Sunday, but due to the impending hurricane, it has been rescheduled for September 4th. I’m going away that weekend and can’t make it. It sucks because there are no refunds so I can’t get my money back and, of course, I can’t go either. I’ve been monitoring how they’ve been handling this on twitter and whoever is organizing this race has been unnecessarily rude to the participants who are, understandably, upset about the change in date. Being a holiday weekend, lots of people already have plans, myself included. I figured I’d just lose out on the money so I didn’t contact them about a refund, but some people have and they were met with rude responses and sarcastic remarks.

For your viewing pleasure, just a few convos:


That's almost as good as a 3 year old stomping their feet and crying when someone blames them for something.

Apparently these guys were absent the day that they were teaching people how to attract participants to your race and not alienate them by being an uncooperative and unsympathetic. Nice job Tavern in the Square. Thanks for the invite to next year’s race, but I think I’ll stick with organizations that are not rude to participants. I’ve already dealt with sarcastic nitwits sponsoring races this year. My quota is already filled. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1. I’m doing this for me and no one else. Don’t judge what you don’t understand.

This whole triathlon journey was started on a whim while in a crazy mood. During the training process I’ve learned so much about myself and although I’m not where I want to be in my training, I’m happy with how far I’ve come from the beginning of it all.

It was said to me recently that I’m too hung up on the race aspect of things. Considering I’ve been doing 5K races during training to better myself and the final result is a race, I don’t think I am. I’m not racing anyone else but myself. I’m pushing myself to train and go further, harder, faster and stronger to make myself better. Timing myself and checking out my pacing helps me keep track of my progress and helps me determine what I need to do to improve.

I had a quote emailed to me today that fits here perfectly:

Frustration is first step towards improvement. I have no incentive to improve if I’m content with what I can do. ~Bingham

I can’t lie; I’m a competitive person by nature. I like to compete. Being in races motivates me to do better because seeing someone ahead of me makes me want to catch them in that moment. I love that feeling. Motivation. But, when it comes down to it, I’m only in competition with myself. I want to do better than I did the last time. And I’m disappointed when I don’t see forward progress. That’s human nature and I don’t see anything wrong with that. 

What I do think is wrong, is other people passing judgment on me because I don’t think the same way they do. I don’t think I’m better than you because I like to compete and I don’t think you’re better than me because you don’t. I think it just makes us different. And different is good. Embrace it. Don’t fight it. And definitely don’t be rude about it.

2. On Tuesday I did couch to 5K week 5 day 3. This included a 5-minute walk warm up; 20-minute run and a 5-minute walk cool down. The mental hurdle has been leaped and I actually believe that I will finally finish the Couch to 5K program this time around. This is my 3rd time attempting it and it’s the furthest I’ve ever gotten. I know I can complete it. I dread running each and every time I do it, but knowing that I can do it is what’s pushing me to actually do it. Maybe one of these days I’ll enjoy running, but don’t hold your breath.

3. Yesterday I attended a swim clinic by Max Performance. They are organizing the Title 9 Triathlon that I’m doing. I grew up swimming, so I have a strong background, but I wanted to learn about swimming in a triathlon and learn tips and tricks that would help me out on race day. I’ve read many articles and heard lots of people talk about the swim being the hardest part of the race for most people. I’m lucky that I grew up swimming in lakes and ponds, otherwise I’d be right there with everyone.

When I did my duathlon a few weeks ago, I waited until most people started, then started swimming. During the clinic, I wanted to put myself right in the middle of things so I could get a feel for a hectic start and deal with the “worst case scenario” before race day. We did 3 race starts to a buoy 100 yards out and back. There were about 70 people there and they split us up into two groups. We did start waves in 2 groups to lessen the amount of people. They said for newbies, it’s easier to stay on the outside since most people will swim as close to the buoys as possible. The first start, I was in the middle of the pack, right in the center. The second start I tried to stay as close to the inside as possible, but still in the middle of the pack, front to back, to get as many people around me as I could so I’d get jostled and see how I could deal with it. The last start, they had the two groups go together, for anyone who wanted to give it a tri (see what I did there? J) I got myself right up front and on the inside. I figured if I was gonna get kicked in the head or swam over, I’d rather it be during a swim clinic than during the triathlon. Although in the actual race, I’ll probably still hang back a little bit and err on the side of caution.

The clinic was very cool and it was good to get another group swim under my belt. I’m so used to swimming solo and swimming with a group motivates me to push myself and do better. After the swim, the Max Performance people hung around and answer some questions and talked with everyone who was interested and gave some great tips on triathlon swimming. They also mentioned that they would be having a “Newbie Night” for Tri-newbies to talk about anything and everything regarding a triathlon. I’ll definitely be attending. It was a great event, I’m sure the newbie night will be great too, and it’s making me look forward to the triathlon more than ever. Max Performance sure goes above and beyond to make sure they make everyone feel comfortable before race day! Thanks guys!

Before - all smiles

After - still smiling!

Friday, August 12, 2011

What's the difference between a real runner and a fake runner?

I’ve been thinking a lot about a quote someone shared with me a while back. It’s really pushed me in my running and resurfaced in my mind when I started to doubt myself. It’s about being a “real” runner.

I often hear someone say I'm not a real runner. We are all runners, some just run faster than others. I never met a fake runner. - Bart Yasso

So according to that, I’m a runner. Not one of the faster ones, obviously, but I’m a runner. Why? Because I run in spurts between large amounts of walking? Obviously I’m making progress since I started out and was only walking for 20 minutes at a time for my workouts. But how much progress does it take to convince myself that I'm a "real runner"?

Yes, that's really me. Running.
Here’s the thing: today and 2 days ago I ran for 8 minutes straight. Then I walked 5, then I ran another 8 minutes straight. Does that make me a real runner now? Who knows?

I don't run 10-minute miles and I can't keep up with a group of runners. Therefore, I have to run by myself. And I'm okay with that. Well, that’s kind of a lie. I'd like to have someone to run with, but I don't know of anyone who is at my level right now. I'm sure I could find MANY people out there who are in the process of completing C25K week 5 right now, but I'm sure our paces are very different. And I wouldn't want to hold anyone up in their training. So I’ve been known to say, “Once I'm a real runner, I'll find a running group to run with”. Well, shoot, I could complete the C25K program and still not be the same pace as a running group. It's frustrating. Which is why it's hard for me to say I'm a runner. I still don't really consider myself a runner, because I'm still learning. 

Even after 8 months of learning to run and trying, I'm still a beginner.

But I don’t know where to draw that line in the sand. I'm out there running, but I'm not running the whole thing. I'm walking most of it and running in spurts.

Maybe, I’m getting closer to believing that I’m a runner because lately I’ve caught myself saying “I’m going to go run”, instead of “I’m going to go work out”.

Maybe, once I run for one mile straight without stopping, I’ll consider myself a “real runner”.

Maybe, once I run an entire 5K with no walk breaks, I’ll consider myself a “real runner”.

Maybe, when I do a half marathon.

Maybe, when pigs fly.

I mean, honestly, it’s all mental! And I know this! But it’s still hard to believe in myself.

Sure I feel good about myself when I realize I ran for longer than I ever could before, or when I ran faster than I did last time. Or when I completely punched my mental block in the face and ran a half mile without stopping on the same track I could barely run 100 meters on. (That was today in case you were wondering).

But feeling good about myself while watching my progress doesn’t get me where I want to be like, NOW. Which is being a runner.

A friend once told me to stop looking at what I can’t do and focus on what I have done, how far I’ve come and what I can do now. She’s right. And I try to focus on that and Bart Yasso’s quote when I start the downward spiral.

I’m such a walking contradiction. I hate running. But I wish I were a runner. I wish I could run. I wish it weren’t so hard. I subscribe to 2 running magazines and I read them cover to cover like I have an addiction. Yet I can't do what those in the magazine can do. (Hey, Runner's World, wanna do an article on slow-maybe-not-real-runners-trying-to-run?? Or a better sounding article title??) 

The only reason I’m still running is because of my triathlon and it’s 1/3 of the race, so I have to. But it sure doesn’t explain why I signed myself up for a half marathon in February. Deep down, I want to be a runner. I want to be good at it. I think that’s my motivation. I want to be good at it and I’m too competitive to quit so I keep trying, even though I dislike it.

Is anyone else as crazy as I am? I mean honestly, where else can you find someone who hates doing something, but willingly does it? I’m nuts!

Speaking of my triathlon. It is in 4 weeks. One month. 30 days. Either way you look at it, the next thing I know I’ll be waking up on race day. Am I scared? Hell yes! But I feel like I’ve been doing all that I can to prepare. I’m not going out there to win. I’m going out there to finish and I know 100% that I will finish. And I will have no problem whatsoever calling myself a triathlete when I’m done!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Spin class survivor

I survived my first spin class today. No, that’s a lie. My first ever spin class was taken about 6 years ago when I lived in Florida and went to a ritzy (expensive) gym. I think I took one class and never went back. I don’t remember hating it, but it just wasn’t appealing to me. Exercise in general wasn’t appealing to me. Obviously.

When I started this triathlon journey, I planned to take spin classes once I brought my endurance up on the bike. But I kind of forgot about it. Mainly because once my endurance was up and I felt ready to take the spin classes, it was becoming so much nicer outside and I didn’t want to be stuck in the gym on a beautiful day. I’d rather be outside on my bike. This weekend I finally got around to doing a spin class. At 7:15 am. On a Saturday. I’m not a morning person.

Besides waking up earlier on a Saturday than I do during the week, I loved the spin class. The instructor was great and the 50 minutes just flew by. Well, not really. I specifically remember looking at the clock at 7:20 and thinking, Oh God, it’s only been 5 minutes. But after the initial shock to my system, it flew by. 

During one of the hill intervals, the instructor said “Dig deep, no one is getting you up this hill but you”. How’s that for a kick in the gluteus maximus? I’ll have to remember that one when I’m out there struggling to get up a hill.

I plan to go back for more spin classes. I really enjoyed it. I also will remember to wear my bike shorts. For some reason I thought a bike seat on a spin bike wouldn’t try to crawl up my butt and stay there. Live and learn, kids. Live and learn.

Do you take any classes at your gym?
What would you recommend?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

July Totals and Recap

July totals
Swim: 3.28 miles (5800 yards)
Bike: 64.89 miles
Run: 20.46 miles
Walk: 1.55
Rest days: 12

The good: Chunky Dunk Duathlon. Even though I was sore for days (still am!) it was a huge milestone for me as I was able to “run” for 3 miles straight with minimal walk breaks. And I surpassed my finish time goal by 11 minutes!

The bad: Torn between my track workout at The Nick and my swim at Hopkinton State park; the swim was easy, but turned my suit brown and grossed me out.

Goals: 50 Mile Run Challenge. It didn’t happen. Halfway through the month, I changed it to the 31 Mile Run Challenge. I didn’t make that one either, but if you check, you’ll see that this month was my highest month for running mileage at 20.46!!

For August

Races: Tavern 2 Tavern 5K (medals for all finishers!!), maybe another one if I can fit it into my schedule.

Goals: Considering this month has been my highest run mileage to date and it was 20 miles, I don’t think I’m going to push it and try to do the 50 or 31 mile run challenge again. This month I will create my own challenge and I shall call it the Marathon Month Challenge. Meaning I will run a marathon within the month of August. Not run a marathon in August, you must be crazy, but I will challenge myself to run 26.2 miles in August. I'll be tracking my progress on twitter (@runaroundsara) using the hashtag: #marathonmonthchallenge. Please feel free to join me!

I also want to build up “run” endurance, now that I’ve figured out a shuffle-jog trick that seems to work for me.

I need to stretch better and more often. I’m so lazy at stretching.

And I want to learn how to fuel my body better for more energy during workouts and recovery after workouts by using the right carbs and proteins before and after workouts. If you have any advice or suggestions, please let me know!

What are your August goals?
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