Warning: Long, rambling post ahead! I just wanted to get some thoughts out. :)
You guys! Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon is THIS SUNDAY!!!! OMG. How did the time go so quickly? Ack! I'm so so excited but yet so so terrified, with so many thoughts swirling in my mind. Will my body be able to handle this race (0.62-mile swim, 16-mile bike ride, 3.4-mile run)? Will I psych myself out? Will I fall off my bike or wreck someone else? Will I panic on the open water swim (the part I'm most optimistic about at this point)? Will it rain (cue frantic checking of the weather)?
Training for this race has DEFINITELY had its ups and downs.
Things started off pretty well, until I somehow (still don't know what caused it, maybe a combo of bike trainer and yoga on the same day?) strained my groin on the left side of my body. This is my tight side, the same side where I have/had piriformis issues (the other side is my weak side, where I have most ankle and knee injuries - y'all, I'm a real mess). I stopped doing everything but teaching indoor cycling classes for a while, and tried to wait it out. It eventually got better with rest, ice, Advil, and a little stretching (side note - creeping up on me again, but that may be somewhat in my mind, who knows).
Swimming is definitely my strongest of the three sports, since I swam in middle/high school and about once a week for the past couple years. Swimming is sometimes the only sport my body (see above) can handle, and even though it can get pretty boring, I'm still incredibly grateful to be able to do it.
To train for the triathlon, I kept swimming once a week or so, usually a mile, sometimes 3/4 of a mile if I was doing a brick workout (swim + bike).
I'm used to playing around in the ocean, so I wasn't too nervous about open water swimming, but decided it would be a good idea to practice a few times.
The first time was at Hammerman Beach in Maryland, and that was more challenging than I thought it was going to be. It was really discontenting that I couldn't see the bottom or anything really, and it was a bit weird to be swimming on my own (I had to go out beyond where the other beach goers were, at a different section of the beach). And I got tired more easily than if I were swimming in the pool.
The second time was on vacation in Rehoboth Beach, at Cape Henlopen State Park. I decided I wanted to try an open water swim/bike brick, so Victor held my socks, shoes, and helmet as I swam in the ocean, and then we both went biking around the park. Swimming parallel was a bit challenging again, as I was definitely fighting the current going one direction, but I think that helped me push past my nerves about swimming in open water. I hope. Swimming with a bunch of other women, that might be scary. I'm worried about being kicked, or not being able to pass people, or getting lost on the course...
I did swim and bike in my tri top and shorts, so I know that they fit well and should do the job!
I love running, but most of the time, it does not love me. I've always wanted to do a half marathon, but I don't know if my body will allow me to. That's one of the reasons I decided to give triathlons a try (pun intended - hehe). When I started training for the race, I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to be able to 'run' the run part of the race. I told myself (and this is still true, I have NO IDEA how I'm going to feel after swimming and biking) that if I had to run/walk the 3.4 miles, that was totally OK by me. I've been running more lately, and I'm up to 3 miles. For me, for my history the last few years, that is an accomplishment.
Alright, here's the drama. I'm an indoor cycling instructor, so I've gotten PLENTY of practice on indoor bikes, which I think will really help for endurance and hills, buttttt yeah, outdoor biking...
It was going OK at first, as Victor and I went on weekly bike rides to Druid Hill Reservoir, where I felt more confident each time.
Then, after I got injured, I wasn't able to bike for almost a month. In case the bike seat had something to do with my injury, I decided to get my bike seat checked out by the bike store, and they determined it was too low, and raised it. I knew it was too low before, because they had purposely put it down as far as possible since I'm a beginner, but now I couldn't touch my foot to the ground when stopping/getting off. And that, my friends, caused me to have a MAJOR panic attack. I'm talking major, hissy fit, yell at my husband, the whole nine yards. I attempted to ride my bike 3 times, in parking lots and tiny parks, and failed. I just could not get my mind around stopping/getting off with my foot not being able to touch the ground. I came this close to quitting. Seriously.
Then, after reading some motivational triathlon-related posts and doing some serious thinking/praying, I decided to drop my bike seat a little (but not as low as it was before, where it was definitely too low and inhibiting my ability to actually bike) and try again.
I took my bike to school one Saturday while Victor worked, and just rode my bike around campus.
Woohoo! Yes, I was biking along brick pathways, and not fast, but, I got back on the bike.
I decided to keep trying, though I wasn't 100% sure if I was going to do the triathlon. We brought our bikes on vacation, like I mentioned above, which went OK, but I still had no real road experience, or experience riding with many other people.
Then I saw that Princeton Sports in Columbia was doing a course preview as part of their Sunday ride. I decided that I should participate to get some real life experience, and I went last weekend.
I was SO nervous because, again, I had never ridden on the road with cars before, and I knew there was going to be some hills, which made me very nervous (still does).
HOWEVER, I DID IT!!!!
I rode my bike 18 miles in the road, with cars, and with people. I'm talking 2-lane highways with no bike lanes, and stopping at red lights behind cars.
I was slow, I had some problems starting at red lights for some reason (nerves), I almost dropped my chain, but I did it. And I'm so glad I did. Now I know what the course is going to be like (yikes, there are some downhills and pretty big uphills - for me), and I know that I can bike that many miles, and that I can ride on the road.
I'm still nervous about going downhill (that I'm going to fly off, and I'm braking waaay too much as a result, but I'm trying not to do that...), and getting passed, or passing people. And I know I'm going into this with not enough practice on the road, and not enough miles, and a seat that's probably a little too low for ideal body alignment. But, when I think about where I was a month or so ago, where I couldn't even get on the bike without freaking out, then I am proud of what I've accomplished so far.
A huge thank you to Princeton Sports for putting on the ride - it was a no-drop ride, and the lady we had with us was wonderful; I'm sure she was a tired of going so slowly, etc. Princeton Sports drove around in their van to make sure everyone was OK, and they checked my bike afterwards (mandatory bike check for the race, but they definitely went above and beyond by making some improvements to the gears, etc.). I will definitely do the group ride again. And a huge thank you to my husband, who went with me on the ride, and rode behind me, giving me tips (mostly - STOP BRAKING, I CAN SEE YOU TOUCHING YOUR BRAKES - haha) :) I can definitely see us biking together in the future, which is great.
I adopted a few mantras along the way, that I will be using come Sunday.
Get out of your own head (Victor)
Don't let your mind beat you.
I saw this on Instagram and immediately took a screen shot with my phone. I love this quote from The Mermaid Club; it is so true for me.
So, I think that's a pretty good wrap-up of this whole training experience. I feel like I've made good progress, let's hope it is enough come race day, and that I don't let my mind or self doubt overcome all of the hard work I've put in.
Any last minute tips?