It Takes a Village

As alone as I felt on Saturday, I can’t help but reflect on the past week and recognize how much support and advice I’ve gotten from so many people. Strangers and acquaintances as well as friends and family, near and far.

I will spare the details but I will say that on Monday, the rep from my car loan told me that I put to much pressure on myself; relax, she said.

Tonight at the pharmacy, I was asking about magnesium supplements and the benefit of added copper, which showed up in some but not all. The pharmacist told me I looked exhausted, and pointed to dark circles under my eyes.

I am exhausted. The week leading up to the triathlon was packed too tight with obligations and yes, I do put too much pressure on myself.

I am mostly exhausted because since the day before the triathlon, my appetite has suffered. I haven’t had food in the cupboards to properly recover from this race and I have been out of my magnesium supplement since race day. I haven’t been sleeping well and I certainly haven’t been waking up well.

Tonight I finally got the check from my quilt sale at Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. It went in the bank as soon as it could and was converted into groceries in a jiffy.

I started reading the book Racing Weight to help figure out a better meal plan to lose weight without sacrificing my training.

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I am so excited for breakfast tomorrow and excited for lunch. I feel like a homeless person who was just let into an all you can eat buffet. I hope my appetite is with me in the morning.

I took magnesium & vitamin D supplements tonight. I bought a different brand than the last time. It was the brand the pharmacist recommended and it was on sale buy one, get one free – so I got both bottles for $8. I’ve heard calcium & magnesium like to go together and vitamin D helps improve calcium absorption.

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I bought a new protein supplement and another large tub of low fat yogurt and frozen blueberries. I am so looking forward to a protein smoothie in the morning!

For lunch I am making my favorite sandwich that I was first introduced to at a great café in Vermont. Whole Grain & Seed bread (Killer Dave’s), turkey breast, cheddar cheese, Granny Smith apple and honey mustard.

I also bought a bunch of Zone Perfect bars because this book harps on the importance of eating frequently, and before, during and after exercise. Which I have not been doing at all. I like the Zone bars better than other energy bars because I do believe in the balance of The Zone diet. So I know that when I eat a Zone bar, I’m naturally getting balanced nutrition.

I appreciate the support I’ve gotten from people from all pockets of my life this past week. Nick at the bike shop helping me out in a huge way with the tire replacement. When I walked into work on Monday I was cheered through the door (I’m pretty sure I finished the race more slowly than I walked into work). The comment about putting too much pressure on myself from someone whose job it is to put pressure on people.. A pharmacist telling me that I look exhausted and to take care of myself (get rest). My roommate giving me $40 just to help relieve my stress pre-race. My friend taking me to lunch to say thanks for the hospitality while she was in town for her first sprint triathlon.

All the comments and emails from friends and blog followers with support and encouragement and advice (even if at first it didn’t come to me as advice).

I want to say – thank you. It’s fun being in this village together with you and I appreciate you all so much.

Now – to sleep!

Things to Work On

Following yesterday’s worst and best Olympic triathlon, I realized I have a few things to work on. I plan to address these over the next few weeks in different posts. I need life to slow down for a quick second so I can collect my thoughts.

Categorized, these are the areas I need to address, in no particular order:

Psychology
1. Why Tri? – Why the heck am I even interested in this sport?
2. Do I believe in myself? What are my goals, and do they have deadlines?
3. Negative voices/bad influences
4. Letting go of guilt related to my dog
5. Race-day apparel (not sure if this fits under “psychology” except that the wrong clothes can certainly make one go crazy!)

Nutrition
1. Weight Loss
2. Sports Nutrition
3. Pre-Race Nutrition
4. Supplements

Training
1. Training plan – one I can stick to no matter the weather or time commitment
2. Open Water Swimming
3. Running… this one will be a long one.
4. Cycling – getting to know the bike a bit better.
5. Strength training
6. Yoga/stretching

Financial
1. Race entry fees
2. Gym memberships
3. Coaching

Next Up

Today I got a chance to cheer on my friend Harmony in her first sprint triathlon at Deschutes Dash. I plan to write a little recap on that and maybe another guide to triathlon when I’m able to collect a few photos. Today I was photographer & cowbell extraordinaire. I got some great shots and even some videos of Harmony’s race. And the cowbell, which hopefully annoyed a few spectators, was enthusiastic in an attempt to prevent someone else from feeling the way I did yesterday on the run.

Today’s race helped me to understand a few things. First of all, you could just tell how much easier the sprint was. Yesterday there were some hybrid bikes and not-so-experienced triathletes but today there were some downright newbies in the race. One even rode a straight up cruiser bike.

Originally my goal was to race Leadman Tri in September as another stepping stone in my quest for Ironman. But I don’t feel ready to move up to the next level. Not at all. I want to actually race the Olympic, not just survive it. I don’t want to climb to 5600ft elevation on the bike. I just want a course that I can hammer and call it good.

So for now I think I have scratched Leadman. I’m not up for 50 miles of climbing on the Cascade Lakes Highway.. Portland Tri is the same weekend. Sea level. Say no more. Sea level!

Just need to make it work. I look forward to giving the Olympic another try. I have about 8 more weeks of training. Look how far I’ve come in the past 8 weeks. I now know what I need to work on. More endurance, lots more running, speed work and more river swimming!

I do have a good base now and I really think if I put more actual workouts together, I could really see improvements. I also need to be doing regular strength workouts. Both after Dirty Half and yesterday’s tri, my back was so sore.

I look forward to putting in some real running miles. I don’t ever want to struggle on a run the way I did yesterday. Speed walking exerted too much effort.. I mean, that was rough.

For now, I’m going to bed with renewed dreams in my head. It’s a whole new blog post but one day I need to address the negative voices in my head and where they came from. I didn’t realize they still lived in there but they were just like termites. Rotting away the integrity of my mental toughness, confidence, and physical strength. If I don’t address this, I won’t ever reach my goal. So it will show up in an upcoming post.

Good night!

Deschutes Dash Olympic Triathlon: Race ReCap

I need to begin this recap with a reminder of where I’ve come from since last year. Not how far away I’ve gotten from myself in the past couple years, but how much of a comeback I’ve been able to make. 9 weeks ago when I registered for this race, I was a person I didn’t recognize. Today I paid a few more dues for the 18 months that I allowed my fitness to escape me, but before I begin a detailed nitpicking of my performance today, I do need to honestly congratulate myself for finishing.

I am also writing this before I saw my own results so it’s not based on performance against the field but against myself.

Pre-Race
I woke up with yet another upset stomach. I have been plagued by this for the better part of the past month. It was a discouraging way to start the day. I did not feel rested and because of my stomach issues (which were in full force last night as well, I really couldn’t fill the tank either. It is what it is and there was nothing I could do, so after several trips to the bathroom while I gathered my thoughts, I headed to the race.

I do not recommend showing up to a race alone, especially if it’s a first for you and you are nervous about it. It really helps to have a friend or a family member, someone to help you and take your thoughts off worries. Someone to remind you of important things. Someone to help apply sunscreen. Just someone for support. This was a mistake that would haunt the rest of my race. I either need more friends or different ones. The friends I grew up with would have been there without a question. But those friends are 3,000 miles away.

Swim
This was my first swim in a wetsuit. Although there was a current, it was my longest swim race ever. Last weekend I did a mock tri and discovered how cold the water was, and how hard it was to breathe. So I was surprised to be able to put my face in the water this morning. When our wave left, I was happy that I did not hold back like I did in my first tri. I knew by the kicks and the grabs and the congestion that I was in the thick of it. At least for a little while.

Breathing is not easy for me in a wetsuit. Perhaps my wetsuit is too small right now. But I didn’t buy it for right now per say. I bought it for the future, which holds a lot of triathlons. I have been and will continue to lose weight. And so the wetsuit will only fit better and better.

That being said, I was exhausted when I got out of the water. More exhausted than I expected. And I made a mental note that I need to do a lot more hard swim workouts and a lot more open water swimming. But I had to be thankful that my arm still had feeling. The pinched ulnar nerve that plagued me for 6 months of last year has been keeping quiet.

T1
Transition 1 involved a short run to the TA, and I was able to begin peeling the wetsuit off and swim cap & goggles. My legs felt so cold and tired and I felt like a fish out of water. Wetsuit came off OK (surprisingly) and I didn’t have too much trouble in T1. It just happened so fast and I felt like I was missing something. Bike, shoes, helmet, sunglasses. The bike was already prepped so I was good to go.

Bike
The bike start was difficult for me. I just couldn’t get my normal speed and I blamed the swimmers legs. When I started the bike I was with a decent pack, and we played leap frog as we all found our moment of strength vs someone else’s moment of strength.

I visibly noticed one woman cycling at a ridiculous cadence. Though she was pedaling faster than lightning, she was being passed by someone with an oddly slow cadence. This should have been my first clue but I still didn’t notice yet.

The bike course is not easy. 12.5 miles of climbing up Century Drive toward Mt Bachelor. 1800+ feet in elevation gain. I had yet to conquer it and I was feeling discouraged that I had felt stronger on training rides (that didn’t end well) than I was feeling in this moment. I was in my easiest gear way too early in the ride and my legs were just not joining the race. That’s when I realized how far I still have to go in my training to truly be ready.. And I started down a negative road in my thoughts.

Aerobars were my saving grace. So much more comfortable and with noticeably more power, so I rode a significant distance in the aero position. This alone is a big improvement for me!

What I am about to say is going to make me sound very uneducated. Mainly because I don’t really understand verbiage on gears. So please bear with me. At mile 9.3 I noticed that the gear on my left aerobar was up. I never ride in that gear unless I am coming down Century Drive and at coasting speed hitting the 30 mph range. I looked at it and thought it looked out of place. So I decided to switch gears. I prepared myself for a big jump in gears for the more difficult and when it jumped in the other direction – much easier – I literally said out loud, “you’ve got to be kidding me.”

I don’t ever use that gear. Why was my bike even in that gear?! And why the %_€£ didn’t I notice it?! 9.3 miles of struggle when the struggle was already laid out in front of me.

I was so mad at myself and really just never shook it after that. The last two weeks with flat tires and saviors in the form of bike techs and building up my confidence and this is how I do it. W. T. F.

I reached the turnaround and began the joyride back to T2. I was going fast and it felt good. And that’s all I really have to say about that.

T2
T2 was a bit frustrating because Lay It Out Events really didn’t provide the right amount of racks for the number of participants. My bag of stuff was under someone’s bike and there was no room for my bike on the rack so I had to lean it against someone else’s bike, who had theirs leaning three deep. I was still mad at myself for the gear mistake. What a rookie. And I wasn’t in the mood to run. I switched shoes, took off my helmet and through on a tank over my tri suit (still feeling a little too round to be racing in a tri suit). And off I went. Like a herd of turtles.

Run
The run sucked. There is no two ways about it. I have not run enough mileage to have any business trying to run a 10k at the end of a triathlon.

I walked a lot out of pure exhaustion. I had to stop to use a portapotty, which I almost never do in a race. But having to pee was slowing me down and I wasn’t about to pee my pants. Only winners do that and I could spare the minute. Yes, minute. I will never race in a one-piece tri suit again. Maybe [maybe] for a sprint.

I turned my ankle early in the trail section which almost made me fall. It hurt but I walked it off and then kept “running”. I was not actually running. I was extreme slogging. I felt awful. I felt slow. I felt so out of shape and I felt so lonely. I literally cried.

Why didn’t this race have a better support system? I was saying excuse me to double strollers and people running three dogs and entire families out for an afternoon stroll. Hardly any cheers at all. It was the hardest, most lonely run I’ve ever been on. And the tears kept surfacing. I thought several times that it would never end. And no matter how much I tried, I was just not trained for it so I could not pick up my pace.

Finish
I was looking forward to running through the finish shoot so I could hear my name and the cheers. I so desperately needed the encouragement. For a while I could hear the announcer calling out names of people as they finished.

As I turned the corner around a bunch of straight-faced (bored) spectators who didn’t so much as clap, I made my way to the finish where the announcer called “now finishing the Olympic tri #117″. That’s it. No name. No cheers. And I could not have felt more disappointed. No one to receive me. No one taking my picture. No hugs. Not even a familiar face.

I’ve never felt so homesick as I did in that moment. I missed my friends so badly. I wanted my mom.

Someone handed me a medal and that was that.

Post-Race
I am so thankful Dr Kombucha was a sponsor. The digestive issues I was having were not comfortable and he gave me a nice cold glass of ginger kombucha tea and I think it really settled my stomach (finally- and note to self).

When I got back to the transition area to pick up my bike I was greeted by a face I didn’t recognize but somehow recognized me. He asked how it went and I started crying again. I don’t think I ever want to do another triathlon without some sort of support team – whether it’s a fellow competitor or a one-man cheer squad or a coach. It was such a lonely event and that caught me way off guard. It just wasn’t in my realm of thinking in the past 9 weeks of prep.

It was nice of them to listen and offer encouragement and high fives. Really nice.

And then my friend Julie showed up and it was good to see a familiar face. She is the one who did the mock tri with me. So it was nice to recap with someone who had gone through a smaller version of the motions last week.

Deschutes Brewery had great pasta salad and I could finally eat so it tasted so good. Mmmm.

For Next Time
1. Train more. Just keep training.
2. Have a support system.
3. Wear a visor on the run (I do believe I cursed Bend and said, “why can’t there just be one little effing cloud?!”
4. Figure out digestive woes.. Was this truly nerves, or something I was eating?
5. Ride the bike in the morning just to make sure everything is RACE READY.
6. Figure out a 2-piece tri suit.
7. Practice positive mental thinking.

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Would You Believe Me?

If I told you I got another flat, would you believe me? Two days before the race I wanted to go for an easy 10 mile ride and an easier 2 mile run.

Mile 7ish I got a flat. This time the cause was obvious.

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After a few curse words, I changed the flat and was on my way. It was my first flat change on the road. First time using a CO2 cartridge. I was successful!

Back home, I was determined to at least run and my legs felt surprisingly fresh. Not willing to push my luck, I ran less than a mile and then headed to the bike shop. Yes, Crows Feet Commons to hopefully find my new mechanic Nick. MechaNick.

The problem is, I am broker than broke. I was hoping he had a trick or would tell me riding with a hole in my tire would be fine. I have no other choice. It’s either that or not race.

Or my bike mechanic could give me the shirt off his back, which he did. He kept my wheel and plans to put one of his older tires on it so I can race Saturday.

I am so tired and hungry and now strung out I don’t think I have been able to fully process this gesture.

What the what what.

Just finished baking a pan of sweet potato bread and I need to hit the hay HARD. I have that deadline tomorrow, though! So unfortunately I also need to sew the binding onto my #love quilt.

All I have to say is.. Good things are coming mechaNick’s way..

Thankful tonight.

Quilting: The Ultimate Taper

A deadline has been lurking over my head like a dark cloud, and in the final weeks before the Deschutes Dash, this deadline was becoming more ominous as the days passed by. I cut my design short, making the quilt a bit smaller than I had planned, as I calculated the time available for the work that still remained, taking into consideration the workouts I needed to complete in order to feel ready come race day.

The Michael Miller challenge quilt is due the day before the Deschutes Dash. At first, the proximity of these deadlines stressed me out, but now that I am two days pre-race and by tomorrow the quilt will be submitted, I am seeing the significance in this unplanned timing. The final touches of the quilt meant I didn’t have time for a long bike ride, or a long run, or even participation in my usual volunteer duties at the deep water running class on Mondays & Wednesdays at Juniper Swim & Fitness.

Although it kept me up past my bedtime, I knew I would sleep better with the knowledge that my work was done (or near enough to done) than I would if I attempted to sleep with a nagging deadline over my head.

Top done - progress!

Top done – progress!

The Michael Miller challenge was presented by the Modern Quilt Guild to accent Michael Miller designs. The rules? Use some or all of the six fat 1/8 sent to us by the challenge organizers, include any solid or any Michael Miller fabric and make anything as long as it’s quilted.

I found a website 42quilts.com that had instructions for a bunch of modern quilt blocks – all sorts to choose from. I had fun scrolling through and picking some of my favorites. Most got duplicated with different fabrics and a bit more wonkiness, but near the end of the project, the duplication had to come to an end and I needed to get to work.

The quilt size is about 40″ tall by 45″ wide and is comprised of 30 modern blocks sashed in alternating colors of aged muslin. The top row is sashed using an old Simms Fishing shirt, as I simultaneously ran out of fabric, time and money. If you look closely, you will see a slightly lighter green and a slightly darker gray, which is actually a purple, solid sashing mixed in. I love it. Traditional quilting often uses what you have available, and so I liked my creative approach to stretch the fabric to finish the product in time for the challenge deadline. Quilts are always more needy than you originally estimate.

modern quilt guild fabric challenge 2014

Quilting Detail

I chose a simple double-looping quilt pattern and decided to stick with white thread, and am so glad I did. I have had issues with my machine pretty much since I got it and started learning to free motion quilt. On the last quilt, I was finally able to figure it out and last night the quilting was so fast and smooth. This is such a relief, as I still have a lot of big projects ahead of me.

#mqgfabricchallenge

Quilt Top Done – Dog Tested

By the time I got done quilting, it was way past my bedtime. Andi had already decided to turn in without me. She was so out of it that when I draped it over the bed, she didn’t even notice that I covered her. I love this photo because you can see my bike helmet and shoes on one end of my bed, a mess in front of my closet, my I <3 running Sigg bottle, my cutting mat kind of thrown out off my work space, and a beautifully sleeping puppy sandwiched between two of my quilts. It really captures the essence of me.

Quilt Back - a few wrinkles

Quilt Back – a few wrinkles

I was a little disappointed by the few bunches on the backside of the quilt. But my happiness to be finished with the quilting, and the bulk of the work, overrode my disappointment. If I hadn’t shown you, you would have never known. The back was a miracle. The challenge required use of any Michael Miller print and any other solid. I was out of resources, so I really had to dig deep through my stash to find pieces of this and that to make it work. The overall finished product looks pretty cool, in my opinion. Even cooler now that it’s been trimmed up and prepped for binding. Andi is still sleeping.

I plan to do the usual photo shoot once the quilt is completely done. I just wanted to share with you all what I have been doing during this low-volume week. I am hoping to feel rested and ready for a hard workout on Saturday!

Oh, I forgot to mention what this quilt is all about. It’s titled, “Hashtag Love” which is hopefully obvious from the center of the quilt. The MM in the bottom left corner does not in fact stand for Michael Miller, but it works. It actually stood for Modern Monday, the name of the series where I found the block tutorials on 42quilts.com.

I’m not sure what to do with the quilt after it’s been submitted into the challenge. I have had a few ideas run through my head, but I think I will hold onto it while a final decision is made.

Lots of Nuun, water, stretching, mental prep, sweet potato bread (making my 2nd batch tonight), as I prepare for Saturday’s Deschutes Dash – my first Olympic triathlon – and if you can’t tell, I’m super excited to be racing again! Man, have I missed it. It’s interesting how I have been able to find a balance this week between quilting and triathlon. They are both expensive, time consuming, and passions of mine. So it’s been nice to see them come together and co-exist, even if it’s only for a week.

Till next time!

Race Day Prep

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Preparation is key in just about anything in life. Think about it. If you had been prepared, you could have thought out your answer, your reaction, you could have prevented or avoided the situation entirely. I usually only get nervous and anxious when I haven’t gone through the steps toward preparation.

Race day is approaching. Race numbers are revealed today and packet pick up begins this evening!

What’s laid out in this picture is not the final edit. Just the rough draft. It’s expected to be in the 90s on race day, so I don’t anticipate needing my arm warmers or jacket. But.. Getting out of 60 degree water might tell a different story so right now, the arm warmers are in the first draft.

Last night I made a practice run with bare feet in shoes and new no-tie laces. They need some adjustments before I cut them to size and add the clips at the end.

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On Monday’s ride I decided I wanted water with me on the ride. Lots of it. So I have to forgo the discomfort of the aero bottle in order to bring as much as I can. I’m not used to having weight by my handlebars, but I’d rather have water and be hydrated.

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I’m excited about this race. It’s a step toward a much bigger goal. My longest triathlon to date. First time racing with a wetsuit. One step closer to Ironman.

I know I have my work cut out for me and I know what I have to do to keep the momentum going. Have a goal, a race in sight. And stop ignoring the run!

I need to run more. I love the bike, but I have to remember that the bike is just one leg. I have to find a way to get more mileage in on the running shoes. This is why I also enter running races. Dirty Half was just a sneaky way for me to get in a long run without having to nag so much at my will power. It worked. I ran 13.1 miles that day. Slow but with great form. And I did it.

Anyway.. I am missing two things from my race prep pile. The bib/chip and my race belt which attaches the bib for easy access. I need to find it.. and hope I know where it is! I won it at my first triathlon. “Win” is a strong term. They tossed them out to first-time triathletes.

I will write more today on race prep and plan to do an easy ride followed by an easy run just for more prep on that transition without pounding my legs. I want to try to find a good water level for my aero bottle without getting splashed or pushed about.

And I am still undecided about the sock situation. Decisions, decisions..