Bike, Run, Swim

Turkey Tri Tribulation

Today, I completed my second triathlon!  I wish I could say I felt great about it, but I am totally disappointed.  As much as I would like to think that I didn’t have delusions of grandeur, that is really not true.  I was totally delusional this time around.   See, I have been doing very well with my swimming and that was my biggest challenge the last time.  Before that first triathlon, I hadn’t really ever done more than a couple hundred yards.  I knew I could not swim that distance.  Lately, I have done up to a thousand yards.  My comfort level in the water went from a zero to at least a seven.  I really enjoy swimming now.  (Side note, the book “Mental Training for Peak Performance” is a great help.  I clearly need to read it again though.)  Anyway, I was feeling very confident in my swim.  If I had to sum up what I needed to do differently this time, it would have been to be able to swim the distance.  I didn’t have any issues with the goopy water, or the seaweed or rocks.  Heck, I have been swimming with my eyes shut, so that it being dark wouldn’t freak me out.  It was the distance, and the distance alone, so why wouldn’t I be confident?  I’m never one to say it out loud, but in my mind, I was feeling a little cocky.  That is, until the night before the Turkey Tri….

I haven’t been feeling well, I have had a cold for about a week that has been getting better, and then slams me in a vicious cycle.  Last night, I wasn’t even looking forward to the triathlon.  My internal confidence was completely gone.  I felt very apprehensive, scared even.  I tried to tell myself how I trained really well for swimming and that was my only challenge, but that little voice inside knew that I wouldn’t buy it.  I have had some challenging weeks the last couple weeks, been a bit lazy in my training and certainly not great with nutrition.  Though I have improved and enjoy it now, I haven’t been going to the pool like I should either.  I started to feel this sense of dread, but couldn’t really put my finger on it.  I chalked it up to nerves and packed my bag.  I was in a horrible mood, just totally not feeling it.  I didn’t even want to go.  I started to question why I was even doing this.  It would be much easier to just eat junk, watch tv and gain a couple pounds.  Heck, no one ever really thought I was that fat to begin with, so why not?  I hadn’t felt that way in a long time.  I went to bed early and just hoped I would wake up with a new perspective.  The night was rough, I barely slept and never once felt good about what I was doing.  Maybe it really is time to quit, I thought.

I woke up feeling just as lousy as when I went to bed, but got up and had some coffee.  I haven’t been having caffeine so I hoped the jolt would do me some good.  I had a snack, finished making my drink bottles for my bike and got dressed to go.  I was feeling a little better but still really apprehensive.  I did not want go, but how do I tell Darin I just wasted the money because I’m “just not feeling it today?”  I decided to put on my big girl pants and keep moving forward.  We were on our way to the triathlon and I almost asked Darin to pull over so I could use a restroom.  My stomach was in knots, and it wasn’t the coffee.  We got the venue and I set up my transition area.  I was there later than last time, so I didn’t have the best spot but I made due.  I headed to the restroom one last time and went to get body marked.  When I was walking there, I heard the announcer say that the race was wetsuit legal and the water was about 75 degrees.  I wanted to cry right then and there.  I have a wetsuit, but I did not for a moment guess the water would have been cold enough for it.  Then I started to think about the time my sister in law came over when we got the house.  We had no heater in the pool but wanted to swim so badly, we jumped in.  It was like torture to me, it was about 75 degrees.  I do not do well with the cold.  I love it, when I can bundle up, but I get cold very easy.  I also have an issue where, if I get too cold, my body starts taking the blood supply from my fingers and toes to keep my core warm.  Weird, I know but something that doesn’t affect me too often being in Florida.  So, no wetsuit and 75 degrees.  It was about 67 outside and I was cold as it was, but was going to have to make due.  Again, I wanted to quit and I hadn’t even started.

We walked over to the swim start, and Darin reached into the water.  He asked if I wanted to touch it.  I said no, because I knew if it felt too cold, I’d quit before I even started.  I may be guilty of a self fulfilling prophecy but it went downhill from there.  The buzzer went and we started off.  I began with proper form and tow seconds later, popped my head out of the water.  It was cold, really cold.  I kept telling myself to put my head in and swim.  I tried again but couldn’t exhale out of my nose properly.  My sinuses were clogged again.  I popped my head out again and tried to breath.  I was almost at the first buoy and I grabbed ahold of the surfboard the lifeguard was on.   He asked if I was ok, and I said “not really, I can’t feel my feet”.  He told me he knew I could do it and to just rest a minute, to take deep breaths….through my nose.  I chuckled to myself because I would have loved nothing more than to breathe through my nose at the time.  It felt like an eternity, holding on.  I looked back at the shore and could see my boys and friend that I have known for about 16 years and her kids standing on the shore.  I couldn’t really see their facial expressions, but I knew they were concerned.  I wanted to cry right on that surfboard.  I said “I think I need to quit” to the lifeguard, and he said “no, you don’t… just swim to the next surfboard.  You can do that, I know it.”  I thanked him and slightly miffed that he wouldn’t help me quit, I swam for the next lifeguard.  I struggled the entire time, but finally got to her.    She too was very kind.  She told me to stop kicking completely and relax my legs.  I told her I thought I needed to quit, that I was too cold and couldn’t feel my feet or fingers.  She asked if I wanted her to help me over to the shoreline, where I could stand and pointed out that there was a man taking the shoreline and kind of swimming on and off.  “Isn’t that cheating?  Do they allow that?,” I asked.  She said that they wouldn’t disqualify me, and that it’s my race to do it as I would like.  I sat there for a minute.  I started to feel so sorry for myself, my pity party was in full force.  My feet and fingers numb, deciding between quitting completely, cheating a bit and moving forward.  Then I pictured all different outcomes.  Sorry family and friends, I was just too cold.  I am sick, I have a bad cold you know.  How they would be ok with it and support me no matter what.  Then, that one little voice, that wonderful voice in my head that was hiding all this time said something to help me decide.  “There is a guy in this triathlon, that has no hands at all” is what it said.  How dare I say that I cannot finish?

I pulled myself together, thanked the lifeguard and left the safe haven that was the surfboard.  I headed off again and again, freaked out and could not keep my head in the water.  Well, on my back it is, I thought.  From the moment I decided that quitting wasn’t in the cards, I accepted my fate and moved forward.  I kept the buildings in the corner of my eye so I knew where I was headed and started at the clouds.  I decided to start naming everything I was thankful for.  My amazing family.  My friends, those that woke the crack of dawn and those that wanted to be there but could not.  The list grew, and I was sure to include my fingers and feet, though I could not feel them at the time.  I got a rhythm going and finally made it past the second buoy and to the shoreline where I could now see the concern hiding behind the smiles and cheers.  I couldn’t stand at first, I was dizzy and shivering from head to numb toe.  I shook it off as best I could and headed into transition.  I could hear D2 ask if I was ok, and I said yes and gave him a fist bump.  I could tell he was concerned.  The worst was over, but I still really wanted to just get warm and go home.

I got transitioned and hoped that after a bit on the bike, I would regain the feeling in my feet.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get the feeling in my toes back until the run.  The bike went fairly well, even though it was cold I was much warmer on land.  There were a couple over zealous jerks that passed on turns, which freaked me out.  A nice crash would certainly cap off the horrible day so far, I thought.  Then I snapped out of it, no more pity party, think positive.  Switching my mindset was easier as I passed my group, hearing them cheer my name was great.  Hearing them just as excited for me, no matter what the time and telling me I could do it was all I needed.  I was happy that I didn’t quit and part of me wanted to push really hard to make up the time, but I had no idea what my time even was.  I was having such a hard time on the swim, that I never transitioned on my Garmin.  I decided to turn it off and just try to pace myself so I knew I would finish.  I knew at that point that there was no way I was beating my time from the first race, this would be about survival.

I finished the bike and transitioned to the run.  It was nice to start the run with dry feet this time.  I learned from the last one to ensure I had dry feet for the run.  Eventually they were soaked again as I didn’t fully dry off since it wasn’t that sunny out, but it wasn’t until the very end that I noticed.  I passed my friends and family twice on the run, just as I did on the bike, and heard them cheer my name.  Each pass made me smile bigger and bigger, the cheers and the thought of being closer to the finish was sinking in.  I feel like I paced really well on the run.  I walked a few steps when getting water but other than that I held steady.  I sped up a bit at the end as I knew I could and crossed the finish line at 1:42.   As much as I wasn’t caring about time, I was pleased it wasn’t longer.  I assumed it was a good half hour longer or more than my last, but in reality it was about 10-15 minutes longer.  All in the swim, I was sure.

I got my medal and grabbed some orange slices and water and was greeted by those same smiles, this time with hugs, congratulating me and telling me how proud they were of me.  I wanted to cry, just like last time, but in a totally different way.  Last time, I was filled with such pride and accomplishment and appreciation that all my work finally paid off.  This time I was upset.  I felt like congratulations were not in order, this time, I felt like a failure.  I didn’t think they would understand, and didn’t want them to keep trying to make me feel better, so I just let it go.  I wanted to get changed, and get some breakfast.  We had a great time at breakfast, and I ate like pancakes were going out of style.  I started to feel better with every story, every laugh and every thought of how appreciative I was of the people I was with in that moment.  I didn’t have time to think about the failures of the day, this was a celebration.

I have never had such a bad experience at any kind of race.  Considering how many I have done, I am very lucky.  I always read about races and bad experiences, but even my worst had never felt all that bad, until today.  I’m so glad that my first triathlon was challenging but a great experience.  If this were my first, I don’t know that there would have ever been a second.  I’m also glad that I had to sign up for the next one before this one, or I might not have signed up.  Each time I do this, I learn something.  I learned so much this time around.  I learned that while I wish it went better, I am still really proud that I didn’t quit.  I had several excuses that people would have accepted as reasons, but I didn’t.  As Han Solo says and I learned, “Don’t get cocky, kid.”  I learned to appreciate even more, the difference between pool swimming and open water swimming.  I learned that when I have a cold, I don’t do well with the swim.  I learned to bring my wetsuit if there is any remote chance the water could be cool enough.  I know now, that sometimes you have to have a bad experience to truly appreciate the good ones.  This was a very humbling experience, and the kick in the pants I needed.  I start my new training plan tomorrow, for a distance about twice what I struggled with today, but I start knowing that I have the time and drive to make that race even better than the first.  I start knowing, that it is SoPossible’!!

Life, Nutrition

Vacation Challenge!!!

I wrote this post twice.  When I first wrote it, I was taking it day by day and was way too descriptive.  I put myself to sleep so I knew that anyone else reading would have a snooze fest too.  I decided to rewrite it as a summary of how the vacation went as far as my training and nutrition, rather than the detailed novel it became.  I also decided to go with a rating system for each day.  This is something I do in my training log everyday at home.  I generally rate each meal a 1-5 with 1 being the cleanest of meals and 5 being the all out naughty sugar carb filled meals.  Then I give each day a summary number.  It just forces me to be honest with myself in how well I did at the end of the week.  I’m not rating each meal from vacation, since I eat consistently throughout the day when doing so much activity, so I am just going with a daily number.  If I had to rate the last vacation overall, I would probably give it a 5 since I completely fell off the wagon daily.  This vacation, I intended to do much better.  I definitely intended some “loosy goosy” meals because it is a vacation, and I wanted to have those little moments that I love like sharing a pretzel with my little guy.  I also intended to hit the gym or run as much as I could depending on what we had planned.  I certainly didn’t want to hold up any of the fun on my account.

After an early morning workout, we headed to Disney World on Saturday (Day 1).  We dropped Hera off at the Disney kennel, and I immediately missed her like crazy.  We decided to head to the Magic Kingdom.  Until you restrict yourself, you really don’t realize what the smells in that place can do to you!  I got in line for Frappuccino.  It is vacation after all, and I did say I was going to have a couple indulgences.  After a few minutes of self shaming, I got back out of said line and we moved on.   I did really well considering the limited options.  I was really proud at the conclusion of Day 1 in the parks.  We headed back to the hotel and I decided to have some milk to settle the stomach a little and I really wanted it.  That is when I discovered that even milk has sugar in it!  Really?  Are you kidding me?  Milk!? – Yaaas.  Unfortunately, even milk has sugar in it.  No wonder I crave it from time to time… and here I thought it was an ok filling beverage now and again.  Geez, now I have to work that out too.  After vacation.  I was glad to be in bed before 10!

Rating for Day 1: 2

On Sunday, I got up at 4:30 and headed to the gym.  They had a speed cycle, so I was thrilled.  I strapped my feet in and churned for 20 minutes and then went from machine to machine pushing and pulling as much weight as I could for about 5-10 reps.  It was a great start to the day!  I would have preferred a high protein breakfast with maybe a few carbs, but that is just not what is offered at most hotel food stops.  I had a croissant which had an egg and cheese omelet inside with bacon.  Not horrible and far fewer carbs than say, Mickey Waffles!  For the first time in forever (see what I did there? Frozen? – moving along…) I packed water and snacks for the park.  I was SO glad I did!  After paying $12 for 3 water bottles yesterday, I was really glad to have saved that much at least twice over and having my own snacks (jerky, protein bars, dark chocolate for those moments) made it much easier to avoid wanting something totally naughty.    We left Universal and headed to Epcot where we discovered that the Food and Wine Festival was going on.  There are small stops in the various countries where you can have a mini portion of the native food for a few dollars.  We decided to go for it!  Darin and I would split the mini portions so, we basically grazed the evening away for dinner.  It was great!  We had:  Chicken gyro from Greece (one bit of pita for me), Grilled beef skewer with chimichurri and boniato purée from Patagonia (by far my favorite),  Kalua pork sliders with pineapple chutney Hawaii (no bun bites for me), Grilled sweet and spicy bush berry shrimp from Australia (second favorite!),  Chicken pot stickers from China (D2’s favorite),  Buttered chicken with naan from Africa (had to have some naan, I love naan, but only had a few bites).  Then we hit America, where the staple is funnel cake, apparently.  I am proud to say I refrained and just tried to look away while my boys covered themselves in powdered sugar.  Day 2 was another success and we were in bed by 10!

Rating for Day 2: 2

Monday was a rest day, which I was glad for.  My body was pretty tired from the last few days.  I packed the snacks and water again, which works really well for me.  We stopped at a hotdog place and I had a foot long chili cheese dog!  Oh yeah I did…. Well sort of.  I didn’t eat the bun, I used a fork and knife.  I don’t usually eat chili because I don’t do lentils but they aren’t horrible for you, they just don’t always sit well so I like life a lot better without.  Today, I was all in!…and there weren’t many in the little bit of chili on the dog.  I was a nice protein packed meal, even thought I am sure it was processed out the wazoo.   That evening, we decided to close with the Epcot again, because Food.  It was awesome!  I planned to let myself indulge this time.  I was going to also sample the sweet stuff and I really enjoyed it.  They were small portions, so even after Belgian waffles with berry puree, chocolate baklava and carrot cake, I probably had the equivalent of a single serving dessert (maybe not even).  The thing is, that because you go such a long way between but are stopping to eat at each station, it feels like so much more!  It was excellent and we all really enjoyed stamping our food passports and sampling things from around the world.  Another amazing vacation day that was fun filled but still got me in bed by 10.

Rating for Day 3: 4

Tuesday was our 14 Year Wedding anniversary!!!!  And one of our favorite things to do, the Very Merry Christmas Party!!!  I was so excited, and I have to say, a little nervous.  How the heck was I going to stay up past midnight!!??  I got up at 4:30 and planned a 5k for the morning run.  I was feeling great when I headed out.  It was 59 degrees and the air was clear.  I headed out determines to get my 5k in and post all kinds of fun picks.  That was until I got to a little over a mile and a half and the bottom started to drop out….literally.  Apparently all those countries I had sampled the night before were at war, in my stomach.  I will spare you the details, but anyone who has run before shares one of my greatest fears called… the trots (use your imagination and you are probably spot on).  The thing is, that I am stubborn and almost didn’t head back to the room.  I really, really wanted to hit 5k!  I decided that it was better to just let it go (yeah, another frozen reference – what do you want from me? I am at Disney!) and headed back to the room.  Oh well, 2.2 miles instead of 3.1 would have to do.  Thankfully, the countries made peace and all was well in the gut.  I had a Frappuccino in the afternoon right before a short nap.  Thankfully, those two things helped me stay awake the entire party.  I had two Christmas cookies that were not on the plan, but I needed a little something half way through and that was about all there was available.  Like how I just made it seem that cookies were the absolutely only sustenance available on the planet at that moment?  Me too, I am going with it.   Oh, that and hot chocolate.  It’s a Disney Christmas party for crying out loud!  Not my best day, but I had a blast!

Rating for Day 4: 5

Wednesday was  planned rest day, because I knew I would be up so late.  I didn’t sleep well and was feeling like a blob.  I did a much better job with my food intake.  I was determined to be back in compliance.  I had the usual breakfast and for lunch a “power salad” which was really good considering lettuce and I don’t usually get along very well.  I snacked on jerky, protein bars and bananas.  We had beef and fried rice for an early dinner.  I watched D2 have ice cream and really wanted in on that fun, but didn’t partake which I was really proud of.  It was a great day.  Oh, and I wore my Vibrams the entire day (and part of the day before).  I can’t believe how much better my feet felt in them than in sneakers walking a Disney park!  I am definitely going to get a couple more pairs and intend on wearing them as much as I can.  I was shocked and pleased at how great they were.

Rating for Day 5: 2

Our last full day started out with a gym session for me and Darin.  We let D2 stay in bed in the hotel room.  It was really weird but he was totally fine with it, and had Darin’s phone just in case he wanted to call.  It felt really good to get moving in the morning again.  Part of me could not wait to get back home and back to normal training and sleep, but part of me was sad to see it all pass by so quickly!  I discovered a new breakfast item, a spinach and egg Florentine wrap which was perfect and my new favorite.  I did really well again with nutrition considering the options available.  I wore my Vibrams again and was really glad I did.  I could feel all sorts of little muscles in my feet getting their workout, but the soreness was nothing like how my feet hurt in the sneakers towards the end of the day.  I could flex and stretch my toes and the different textured walkways felt like mini foot massages all day.  It was an excellent day, but bittersweet in that we knew we had to go home the next morning.  We decided to change our clothes and head to Disney Springs for dinner at the movies.  We watched Dr. Strange, which was way better than I expected, but unfortunately the only real food selections were bar type snack foods.  My nutrition suffered a bit in that I had some of Darin’s pretzel bites when my mouth was on fire because of my spicy chicken wrap!  It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, so I was pleased.

Rating for Day 6: 3

We slept in a bit and had some breakfast before starting to pack up.  I absolutely could not wait to get Hera.  We picked her up at the Disney boarding facility and let her get some energy out in the dog park before hitting the road.  I did well as far as healthy snacks on the drive and we had a late lunch at the wings place.  It was awesome to have a nice home cooked steak for dinner.

Rating for Day 7: 2

Overall, I think this vacation was a success as far as my nutrition and training.  I will say, it was much harder to be consistent in training than I expected, but that’s what happens when schedules are all off.  I certainly didn’t want to inconvenience the family by making them turn in for bed early or anything simply so I could get a workout in the next morning.  As I write this, I am also discovering that it may have been a little too much on my body.  I came down with a terrible cold the day after we got home.  It hit me harder than any cold has in a long time and I was laid up for a couple days.  Maybe by next time, my body will be more used to a higher level of training, or I may be better at fueling for the activities involved.  It’s hard to view walking around a theme park as a workout, but it definitely can be.  As far as nutrition goes, I averaged about a 3 on that 1-5 scale, which is a vast improvement from last time.  Now, to just get better and get ready for that Turkey Tri next week! Yikes!!