Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dentists recommend 4 out of 5 triathlons

You know how when you learn a new word, you start seeing it everywhere? Or hear about a new movie and then suddenly everyone you know is talking about it. It seems that since I've started this venture I'm suddenly meeting all sorts of athletes or finding out that people I already knew are harboring a secret athletic life.

I have a couple theories for this. 1.) They were always out there but took one look at my decidedly UN-athletic frame and figured I wouldn't know my 10K from a turkey or 2.) Not only does my new interest put me naturally in the company of more athletes but perhaps causes me to seek them out, or encourage them to reveal that secret part of themselves to me due to some subconscious "likes attract" thing.

I'm not sure how I got on the track of triathlons with my dentist this week. He certainly has never brought them up before with me (See theory #1) but it turns out he's a champion triathlete - in his spare time. It was the best teeth cleaning I've had! Not only did I leave with a brand new toothbrush, floss and cute little tube of paste, but full of great advice for training - especially the dreaded cycling, which is his favorite and my LEAST favorite.

He seems to think it isn't enough that I've bookmarked the registration page for a July tri, but that I should go ahead and register now and, get this, sign up for another one for August. He says I'll work so hard to be ready for July that the let down will be pretty big if there's not another one on the horizon.

There was a time when I'd find that idea pretty hilarious. In fact the idea of my even bookmarking a triathlon is still a pretty good thigh-slapper in some of my circles but I remember what it felt like after I finished that first 5K. I was so thrilled that I did it that I ran a 4 miler two days later and a 10K the next month. Now I try to have a race on the calendar every month or I just don't really enjoy my running. So it doesn't seem so way out of there that I might experience the same after a tri.

Oh, and it's funny. I went from adamantly refusing to consider a tri, to saying I was considering one to now telling people I'm getting my base level of fitness set so I can begin serious training in the spring. OK - that one still makes me giggle. Base level of fitness.....Remember, I've been all about the "bass" level of fitness for years.

I wonder if I'll ever really feel comfortable with the term "athlete". I do feel athletic, but I think I'd have to draw the line there. Maybe if I'd choose a run over a good bottle of wine EVER, I'd think about the moniker. Maybe it's like being told you're pretty but all you ever see are your big thick glasses and lumpy nose.

Still, they're attached to some shoulders that are starting to show the hint of definition and that's pretty cool.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Resting has never been something that has come easy to me. In yoga, we practice Savasana, a resting pose, at the end of every session. It is as important, and often harder, than any of the active poses. It is a time to let the cells and muscles rejuvenate and to practice being present and still in our bodies.

My tendency, as I adopt this new lifestyle, is to forget to rest. This is no surprise as I tend to do everything to extreme. I am struggling to find the balance between making sure each day is spent doing something active and aerobic, and not doing so much that I forget to give my body time to recover. A few times this month I have not spaced my swims or runs far enough apart and then have struggled, only to correct it the following week and reach amazing distances and endurance.

And now, with this somatic reminder of the importance of resting muscles that have been torn, pushed, stretched to the edge of their capacity, I try to extend the same kindness to myself in matters of emotion and stress. I've been so conditioned to be strong, capable, handle everything that I can forget that the heart is a muscle too and after marathon-like demands on it's capacity to give and care, it too needs time to rest, pause, climb into Savasana and just be - to prepare for the next opportunity to beat stronger.

Maybe, the next long run, I'll turn over the work to the legs and let everything else just come along for the ride.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Where we are now

I don't want this blog to be a dreary update of how many miles I've run, laps I've swum - how much I can press but it seems necessary to document some changes if I'm going to try and convince my glee club buddies that they, too can be more fit than they ever thought possible so here's the dull stuff:

- When I started this thing late last spring, my primary exercise was walking my kid to school, one yoga class a week and the occasional exercise tape. I was pretty proud of that schedule.

- to get ready for the race, I had to add running 3-4 times a week, using a Couch to 5k training plan and slowly adding on the time and distance. I thought that once the race was over that would be enough for me and I could go back to my normal, lazy routine. But I didn't count on getting hooked.

- An earlier post will tell why I couldn't completely laugh off a friend's suggestion that I try a triathlon. I started flailing around in the pool and signed up to work with a personal trainer two times a week. I still thought the tri was a crazy dream, but I'd give the extra workouts a shot.

- Here we are in mid October. I am working on swimming a mile. This week I've done 1250 meters three times. I keep up with the running, now working on speed but I still lie about doing time on the bike. And the personal trainer? She's brutal. She has gotten me to do things I never thought my body could do. I can't really explain the pride I feel in myself when I've finished one of her crazy ideas, like the step aerobics routine that I did ON MY HANDS.

The fun part has been to see new muscles developing. The comments I get from other people don't stink either! But most rewarding is when someone tells me what they've dared to try after hearing me talk about what I've learned.

I'm not sure my original reasons for getting into this lifestyle are all that admirable - I wanted to prove something to myself, I liked the praise I got from friends, I might have even originally been trying to gain someone's attention....but whatever got me here, I feel great. I know now I'm doing it for myself: people really don't want to hear how great my run was and the "someone" has moved on but that tri is coming up, just around the corner and though I'll probably be there by myself, I will be cheering louder than any spectator when I cross that finish line because I will have fought a doubt and dug down to find a strength and confidence I didn't know I have.

And, my legs are pretty darn hot too!

This is new

Well this is new. I ran in the town race a couple weeks ago. A friendly little 5K and set as my goal to shave time off the first one I ran that started this whole new lifestyle. I was successful, though only a minute faster. Still, I beat the high school girls' lacrosse team who were complaining to each other that their legs hurt and they were tired. HAH! You don't even KNOW tired yet, ladies.

I've never cared about winning, I just like the thrill that I'm actually regularly racing. But as they called winner after winner I started to feel that familiar tug that I used to only feel about academics. I wanted a medal. Now, the race against my own psyche, my own age and my own ass is still my primary motivator - and being fit enough to complete a triathlon next summer is my key focus, but I've started to run just a little harder now. I've started to look at the finishers in my age group before running a race, just to see what I'd have to do. Me, the chubby little girl in the alto section. Hah.