Break Time: Creating my own Tri-Camp

My job is strange.  Unlike regular school teachers, I don’t get your typical breaks (ie: long winter holidays, summers off, spring break, etc).  Even if we are not in session, we have to take vacation days if we want a break.  But we are lucky enough to have a week with no classes after every 7 week session.  I consider it a break because even though I have to go to work, #1) I don’t have to wake up at my normal 6am…sleepin in a little, #2) no after-school classes, so I can leave at a normal time, #3) I AM taking two of my vacation days during this time, and 4) it’s so quiet without the students.  It also comes after a hectic end of session/production madness time–so it’s nice to have some time to breathe.

Anyway, I’m totally excited because I’ve done my best to turn my week into a triathlon-training camp (without spending the thousands of dollars it would actually take to go to one of these camps).  This basically means I schedule my days around my workouts & am attempting to do 3 group workouts that I normally either don’t have time for or don’t wanna bother with.  Tuesday is the local “hill run” that meets at the sporting good store, Wednesday morning 6:30am is the ocean speed circuit–which just started up again this season, and Saturday is the long bike ride along the PCH.  I’m also contemplating taking a swim workshop that happens over the course of 4 Fridays this month.  The guy teaching it was my private swim coach & so far, only one person has signed up–so it is almost as good as private lessons (and cheaper!).  They also video my stroke, which I prefer NEVER to look at.  I will most likely only be able to focus on how ridiculous I look in a swim cap.  But swimming, unlike the other sports, is almost all about technique (so I’m told)–and they help you structure your swim workouts, which I really need help with.

So, that has me excited!  It feels like I’ve been scrambling to try to be ready for race days–I have a race Sunday, another one in 2 weeks–with relatively little training (as much as I can cram in in the past couple of weeks).  But after that, I have a nice long month to build some more endurance/speed/strength.  My race Sunday is in San Diego.  I love San Diego—so beautiful & I’ve never raced there before–so I can’t wait!  I have to say, none of these oceanside triathlons are ever NOT beautiful, though–whether it’s Venice Beach, Newport, Playa Del Ray—great views.  Anyway, it’s a relatively short race which means I need to be FAST from the start.  Did I mention I scored a nice hotel room for my stay?  I’m almost more excited about that than the race itself.

So today is the beginning of my break–Fridays off! & I’m celebrating by not leaving my room until after 12pm.  I’m in my bike shorts and my pajamas and my sunglasses (man, my room is bright mid-day! and also: what a great look!), telling myself I will make it out for a ride soon enough.   But oh wait, noon…that means it’s lunch time!

Race Report: Tri Series #1, San Dimas, CA

Wow, can’t believe I signed up for a triathlon less than a month after the marathon…oh wait, yes I can.  It really wasn’t that unreasonable or anything–it’s a short tri, I had a few weeks to make sure I got in a couple of swim/bike/runs a week–I knew I could finish.  I also knew I wouldn’t be at my best.  That will hopefully come this summer/fall.

This series takes place in Bonelli Park–a really really beautiful course that is almost empty of outside traffic/people…a little oasis of water, mountain views, trail running.  You can’t ask for a better course (well, minus the really really bumpy roads that last for a good mile on the bike…ouch!).  The first race is a sprint (500 meter swim, 15 mile bike, 3.1 mile run) & each one in the series grows progressively longer.  I’m hoping it’s a way to ease myself into longer distances.

Unfortunately, I woke up sick Saturday morning.  I’ve rarely been sick this year, and I don’t even know what it was–the beginnings of a cold & the general “out of it” and “fatigue” feelings that come with it.  I took it real easy on Saturday (I think about 3 or 4 naps), but I knew there was no way I’d wake up on Sunday feeling 100%.  I also knew that races are expensive, and I hate to miss them.  I told myself I’d go, and even if I went really slow, it would be a good opportunity to start practicing all the triathlon race stuff (open water swims, transitions, etc).  I didn’t sleep well, woke up at 5 & wasn’t completely “there,” but also not feeling terrible.  I could definitely do this thing.

I didn’t have the same energy I usually have on race mornings.  I’m usually a little nervous, way excited, kind of worried–and none of those thoughts were there.  In a way, it made it much easier pre-race.  But that nervous energy is what gets me going & lets me treat a race differently than a workout.  It helps me be more aggressive, more competitive.  Instead, I start my swim & someone kicks my ankle/chip bracelet loose.  This is important because it measures all your times throughout the race, and so I had to stop–tread water & try to put it back on as swimmers rammed into me.  Fun times!  I would say a good 2 minutes was lost here.  Usually, this would freak me out, but not today–just kept on swimming.  Looking at my results, my swim was super slow compared to the top finishers.  I finished 6th in my division, but my swim was like 11th!!!  Oops!

My transition was slow–I was just overall moving slow, but once I got on the bike–I started to wake up.  The beginning miles were a gradual downhill, which is amazingly fun to race.  It makes you feel super fast until later, when you have the gradual uphill and the wind blowing in your face.  But I felt pretty smooth on my bike.  I have raced this course before–but the tougher hills I’ve ridden (like Vegas, or San Francisco) gave me a new perspective & I didn’t find the one major hill to be much of a struggle.  The downhill is amazing, though I was going so fast that my contact flew out of my eye.  I am extremely near-sided & soon realized this totally messed with my depth perception.  I couldn’t notice rocky patches in the road.  I noticed the contact was stuck to my shades, so eventually I pulled over and attempted to put it back in.  Time lost: 2 minutes.  I normally would’ve NEVER taken this much time…these short races come down to minutes.  But I worried how I would get through the bike and run with one contact.

This didn’t prove to be a wise decision–it flew out again within a few minutes & was not recoverable!  Oops!  To make matters worse, I was eating the worst flavor power gel ever–Raspberry Creme (ewwwwww).  Two miles later, I (sorry to be gross!) puked it up.  Now, it wasn’t much–but I had never done THAT before on a bike.  I thought it made me real hardcore, so I didn’t mind.  It did remind me that I wasn’t exactly feeling 100%.

The run I knew pretty well (I have raced it twice), and it really was beautiful.  My lack of energy, push, emotion meant that I didn’t really appreciate it that much–or go much faster than what was comfortable.  This translated to 8:45 minute miles.  On a good day, I am capable of at least 8:30…and I can’t say I was THAT exhausted, or cramping, or whatever—just didn’t have that DRIVE I normally have.

So I knew I didn’t finish very well–ended up 6th in my division–higher than I thought, but nothing to be too thrilled about.  My swim was really what did me in–my bike was actually in the top 3, which was exciting to see!

My next race is only 2 weeks away–in San Diego.  It’s also a short course, and hopefully I’ll be feeling 100% for that one & can at least get my swim going a bit faster.  I figure if these triathlons are going to be a regular part of my life for at least the next couple of years, I might as well get used to doing them even in less than ideal conditions–so I’m proud of myself for not staying at home today.  Sure, when I got back, I felt completely dead & stayed in bed until 4pm–so not the most productive weekend.  But, even feeling crappy, there was an amazing calm that I had mentally that I just began to develop at the end of last season.  It’s like I don’t worry so much about “do I have this?  what happens in transition?  how much energy do i save for the run?”  I perform every swim/bike/run like it is its own event, which seems to work fine for me.  I know all the details of the sport a little better, so I can do it without so much thought.  And yet, I’ve learned a couple of things: don’t move your eyeballs so fast, a contact will pop out…and don’t buy raspberry creme gel….and make sure your chip bracelet is on tightly.  Good to know.

Well, I got the first one out of the way.  Now time for the real training to begin!

Falling down. Literally, of course.

Today was my first official bike crash.  Now calm down, it was the slightest crash possible–my rear wheel came out of it’s position while I was making a sharp turn & I couldn’t get my shoes unclipped before hitting the ground.  In good news, everything turned out to be fine.  I had my bike shoved into my car recently, so I guess my rear wheel release loosened up somehow during that time.  I put the wheel back in it’s place, tightened it & was back on my way.  There are scrapes & bruises, but mostly I was left with the weird shock of being thrown to the ground without warning.  Luckily it was during a turn, so I was going pretty slow.

Well, that woke me up!  I’ve always been slightly fearful on the bike–I’m not really into the idea of downhills at 50 mph, etc…it’s scary!  But of course I’m a dork, so I actually like being a bit scraped up–makes me feel tough.  The funny thing is, I’ve fallen more on my runs than on my bike (ah, the curse of the clumsy triathlete).  But after about 15 minutes, everything was feeling like normal again.  So I guess I can fall and get back up again & it’s not the end of my cycling career.  Word to the wise: tighten your bolts!

Otherwise, my first week back in full triathlon-training mode was a good one.  I got in two bikes, two runs, two swims, and 3 times in the gym.  This sounds like lots, but we’re not talking lengthy workouts–the most challenging part for me is just getting myself out the door that many times (and the wardrobe changes involved! and the number of showers taken!).  It definitely puts me in a new zone–it challenges me, and I like it.  A day off work is best spent when I’m pretending to be an elite athlete: working out, eating, napping, working out again, eating again, etc.  I think: could this someday just be my whole life?  How do I make that happen?

Not much else going on.  I’m staying close to home this weekend (leaving town next week), so doing the normal chores…catching up on some work for school & doing my best to get a movie in this weekend.  Hope you all have a wonderful Easter!