Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Post-Race Reflections

The Longhorn Tri was truly my most enjoyable triathlon this season!

For a while, the racing was more nerve-racking than fun because I kept doing longer distances, and I really wanted to put the fun back into tri-ing. It was a festive, well-organized race and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Swim: 21.11 min
My fastest time so far. I interchanged between freestyle & breastroke (blah), because I encountered a tonne of hydrilla along the way. When I got out, the volunteers who gave me a hand teased, "here comes the seaweed monster!" because I was covered with stuff! I was more calm and relaxed during the swim, and only occasionally nervous when other swimmers came in my way or kicked me. After the swim, I felt awesome & energized.

Bike: 57:47 min
Inspite of the hilly course, I did surprisingly better than any of my previous times. The race director did cut off 0.5mile off the course because of construction, so psychologically, I felt it was going to be easier. Plus I did not expect it to be an easy course, so I had managed my expectations well. I could have hydrated better for sure (ended up with a pretty nasty headache later in the day). I pushed through ALL of the hills and didn't walk once. I also got a little teary-eyed (in a happy way of course) along the ride, as I thought about how far I've come on the bike. It helped immensely to stay positive and to encourage myself along the way. My bike mantra was "last TRI, last TRI, go, go, go!" :)

Run: 39:54 min
Certainly not my best pace. The run course was pretty deceptive, winding through in and out of the park. The turnaround was very close to the finish line so mentally I was getting ready to finish when I realized I still had another 1.5miles to go! Doesn't sound like a great distance but I was feeling quite beat. On hindsight, I would have trained on a hillier course for the run because I was not very prepared for the slopes in the park. Still, I had a strong finish, and sprinted the last 100-200m.

The Sprint Distance turned out to be a good choice for me for this season. There are core habits I need to develop before I can compete in an O-distance - doing freestyle all the way to conserve quad energy and hydrating on the bike are two of the most important things I need to work on. More practice, I suppose.

Monday, October 8, 2007

PR @ Target TRI!!

Swim: 21:11 ** Bike:57:47 ** Run:39:54

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Classic Moment!

Cha, you read my mind! As you were writing your latest post on my blog, I rode up and down the killer Rollingwood step-hills! Last month, when I had attempted those hills for the first time I nearly died. Remember how freaked out I was by traffic & racing downhill? I could barely do 1 loop. Today, my first bike session since the end of formal tri-training, I did two loops, and sped downhill without any of the fear that I had felt.

In the first round, I sailed past the school where I had stopped last month when I had a near breakdown, feeling utterly despondent about my performance. Coach Liz encouraged me to get back on my feet. I looked at the spot where I had stopped, and it felt vaguely like a dream.

Then came the Classic Moment. As I was pushing hard on the 3rd uphill on my next round, suddenly, as if by cue, Coach Liz drove by in her car, and yelled, "Come on, Sharanya! You can do it! So, you decided to come back here, huh?" Chariots of Fire might as well have been playing in the background..! Underdog faces Nemesis Hill, with supporters cheering on.

I exchanged a few friendly words with her, and thought how nice it was that she saw me in one of my better biking moments. All through summer training, I had been a sorry state on the bike. Now things were looking up, and I felt much stronger. I'm glad Liz happened to be there to share that moment with me. To top it all, right after I cycled past the school for the 2nd time, Steph called me (we haven't chatted in a while, so it was an amazing coincidence). Coach & tri-buddy chanced upon me while I was training on the monster hills!

These moments make you feel as if the Universe is keeping an eye out for you. Through synchronicity, the Universe told me that I was not alone. ;)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Back in the game

Man, what a month.

It's finally come to a Karmic end. The first two weeks of this month were completely sedentary, and the final two weeks have been SO hectic with my bro in town, travelling, partying etc. Arv and I were talking about how we need to have a better balance rather than rollercoasting through the months. I suppose even if life is a roller coaster, it's important to be able to keep your inner balance through the craziness. During these past two weeks, I have barely trained. I spent a long weekend in Toronto meeting up with a bunch of cousins, and we stayed out until the wee hours of the morning. I couldn't keep up a training routine through it. After returning to Austin, I was busy showing my brother around, and had caught a Canadian cold so I wasn't up to training either.

Tri-training as a lifestyle is definitely challenging.. Finally, I'm back in the groove with training (albeit with two weeks left for Longhorn, and next week is a taper week...). I swam 900m today (inspite of some internal resistance), and I'm quite dizzy from going back and forth in my 15-yard pool! :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Final TRI

0.5mile swim - 12mile bike - 3.1mile run
The Last Race of my 1st Tri-Season

After much hmm-ing & haa-ing, I finally decided to do a sprint distance for the Longhorn Triathlon Festival. This had been my original goal. I had toyed with the idea of doing an Olympic distance at the start of the program, but decided to see how my training & races go before making a call. After my last performance, I had pretty much decided I'll stick with Sprint distance for this season.

On the one hand it felt like a cop-out. Seeing how well my cousins did in the long course, inspired me to give the O-distance a shot. However, the Dilloman race brought me back to reality when I realized how much harder I needed to work before I was ready for an O-Distance. Primarily, I was still not comfortable doing free-style in open water, and my bike pace had not improve one bit. I was also warned about the Decker course (by far the hardest of all the courses in town). Apparently, it is a tough course to begin with so it's not the best choice for an O-Distance. Also, I've barely trained over the last few weeks, with all of the things that have been going on in my personal life.

In the end, I decided I could still leave some goals for my next season, and that the O-distance goal would give me something to look forward to. On reflection, I think somewhere along the way in my training, I had decided tri-ing would become a lifestyle for me, not just a one-off fling with endurance sports. I want to be able to enjoy myself through the races and not dread them, to finish strong and not be injured. For that, I want to build my endurance and prepare well.

My goal will be to finish strong for this race & have fun. Through it I want remember all the motivating reasons for why I tri.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Dilloman Debrief

800m Swim: 22min 24s (2.48min/100m)
It was uber-scary, quite frankly, worsened by gastroentestinal problems. Despite trying to calm my nerves during the test swim, the minute the horn sounded off and we started swimming into the lake, my heart was in my mouth! Panic started creeping up, as the water got murkier. During the first 100m, I didn't dare put my head in the water. As my breathing became irregular, I looked around for the kayak in a moment of desperation. It was pretty far from where I was, and I became more unnerved. Then I passed the first buoy and thought, ok, this is silly, I'm here for a race. Stay calm and don't look down! :) With that, I breast-stroked my way through the rest of the swim. I was sorely disappointed with myself for not using freestyle. I tried once or twice but felt my foot cramping up so I gave up on freestyle. As I came out of my swim, my buddy, Santhosh, called out "Good job! 20min!" and I thought to myself, "Ya right! I was sooo slow, I must have done 40min! But ok, he's trying to be encouraging.." (Sorry, Santhosh, you were right!)

Inspite of my disappointment at abandoning freestyle, my pace improved nearly a minute from 3.53min/100m.

20K Bike Ride: 1 hour 7:05 min (11.1 mph)
The bike leg seemed felt pretty tough. I suspect the swim took quite a bit out of me, because I felt tired starting out. It was hard to stay positive, and the ride felt tedious inspite of gorgeous scenery. I dare say boredom creeped up, and I played mind games throughout most of the course. There were rolling hills for the most part, and only one really hard uphill that plateaued (so no downhill to help recovery). I took advantage of downhills (no fear this time!). Only once did my bike wobble because of the speed & wind, but I kept steady. I made all the tight turns. Mentally, I did not engage as well as I did in my first tri. My bike mantras changed frequently, and I didn't draw much strength from them this time.

Sadly, my bike pace dropped from my first tri which was 11.7 mph. On the positive side, I guess it's ok considering it was a much longer swim this time round. Still, I wish I could have done better.

5K run: 42min 31s (13:58min/mile)
When it was time to run, I felt pretty lousy. My tummy had given me a lot of trouble, and then I started getting side stitches. I warmed up after 1.5miles. I "slogged" for the most part, until I realized there was a girl ahead of me (in my age group) who was walking ahead of me. I thought, I haven't trained this hard to be beaten by someone who's walking! Then I pushed harder and started running. I sprinted the last 100m, and had a strong finish.

This is my worst running time yet. :( 13:38min/mile is a far cry from 12:19min/mile in my first tri, considering an increase of only 1mile distance.

Overall, the race was ok. I didn't feel at my best, partly because of a stomachache & fatigue. Another issue was that I kept thinking about what distance I wanted to do in my next race, and whether I should increase the distance in my next tri. Inspite of my efforts to stay focused on the present, I let my mind wander, which did me a great disservice. Lesson learnt, I guess.

Arv couldn't be around for the race, since he was recovering from the bout of pneumonia. My friends, Santhosh & Gau, came all the way out to Pace Bend Park to cheer me on & drive me back. They were SO super! They played Tri-Sherpas for the day, and kept my spirits up. It meant so much to me, particularly since I was nursing an upset tummy on the way to the race and a bad headache on the way back. Thank you, guys!

Steph was also there, cheering her head off for me. :) It felt really good to hear her encouragement through transition (both ways) and near the finish line. You rock, Steph!

Two tris down, and one to go!

Dilloman Done!

Finish time: 2:15:15
My first Sprint distance!

800m Swim: 22min 24s (2.48min/100m)

20K Bike Ride: 1 hour 7:05 min (11.1 mph)

5K run: 42min 31s (13:58min/mile)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

An Amazing Brick

After not biking for nearly 2 weeks, I started to get antsy. With the continously gloomy weather over the last few days, I was getting concerned about whether I'd actually be able to put in a bike workout before the race. But just as I started to worry yesterday, the sun came out (story of my life..). It was supposed to be my swim workout day. So I went back and forth mentally about whether I should swim or bike. A friend told me nonchalantly - do both! Aha.. a mid-week brick! How perfect. After some reassurance from Coach Lorrie, I headed out to the Veloway.

It was by far the best ride I've ever had on the Veloway. My legs felt strong, and I noticed that I was able to take corners more smoothly than before. No trepidation about Mr. Veloway Hill either - just sailed over with minimum effort. Instead, I noticed how beautiful the sky was - hues of pink, orange & blue. The weather had cooled down, and the (approaching fall) breeze softly caressed my face. I remembered my numerous rides on the Veloway - fall and all, thrills & spills. This summer has been so special for me because of tri-training. The fear I used to feel while riding felt like a vague memory. I thought about how far I've come from mid-June. From struggling with gears to sailing down the Veloway. I've come to love biking!

After my 25min bike ride, I drove back and swam for 30min in my apt pool. The water was somewhat murky (!!) and instead of being turned off, I thought, oh nice, a lake simulation! I practiced sighting. An adorable dog eyed me from the corner of the pool, but lost interest after my 10th lap. "She's not going to stop," he must have figured, and settled into a snooze.

It was a truly special brick.. it helped me remember all the reasons I tri..

Sunday, September 2, 2007

What's up, Doc?

Arv's fever finally let up. His temp is back to normal for the first time in 10 days, though he's pretty exhausted and still coughing. Over the last few doc visits, we discovered he had a viral fever, and then developed a secondary infection, which was pneumonia. I was relieved on Friday when the doc finally diagnosed what was wrong, and then prescribed the right medication for it. The doc seemed a little too cheerful and nonchalant about the whole thing. He announced to me with a big smile on Friday that Arv was contagious. Whiskey tango foxtrot. I felt like telling him, listen Doc, I don't have time for an infection, I have a tri to do next week!

With my hubby down & out, I haven't had much time to work out. My attention has been on Arv 100%. I discussed the situation with my coach, and she said I'll probably end up doing much better at the Dillo because I've had so much rest, but I still needed to stay active. She said, fitness-wise, I was fine.

I managed to squeeze a 30min run on Friday before the doc's visit. It felt greeeat! Those of you who know my area will know how (in)famous the Spyglass hills are. I ran through every one of them (for the first time, I might add), and felt strong.

Yesterday, I managed a 840m swim workout in my 15-yard apt complex pool (yes, holy cat, 56 laps..). I felt awesome. Hopefully I will get in a bike workout this evening or tommorrow.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Doin' The Dillo

Just signed up for the Dilloman! You read my mind, Cha.. :)

Sep 9 - 800m swim, 20K bike ride, 5K run, at Pace Bend Park.
So, the swim is more than TWICE the distance in my first TRI, and in Lake Travis! My triathlete boss said it's a fun race, really scenic, rolling hills (and the bike route is fairly hilly, but apparently not as bad as Decker). My coaches are really supportive too.
Yaay! My tri-fatigue is SO over. After missing the race yesterday, something got into me. Gee, I think I realize how much I actually enjoy doing this stuff! :)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tri-ing circumstances

So, Skeese' Greets Triathlon didn't happen. Arv's been running a high fever for nearly 3 days now, and I didn't have the heart to leave him alone this morning for the race. He was still running a 100 degree fever at 5am this morning. Going for the triathlon would mean I'd be away for 7 hours straight, without any possibility of him being able to contact me. With Arv being sick, and the recent loss of my grandfather, I was not focused on the race. There are some things more important than racing - like your loved ones.

What was touching was how supportive my friends were. Santhosh & Gau offered to keep an eye on Arv so I could go for the race, and Char offered to come with me to New Braunfels to cheer me on, so I wouldn't have to drive alone. That was really sweet! It made me realize how lucky Arv & I have been to make good friends in Austin.

In the end, I thought it was more important to be with Arv, and even if I went for the race, my mind would not be there. Besides, there are always going to be races to do.

That said I've set my sights on scouting for a new Sprint Distance Tri to do this summer. I still intend to achieve my goal of 3 TRIs in 3 months, inspite of the unexpected change of course.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Random Thoughts on Training Fatigue

An avid reader of my blog complained that my last entry had "no drama". So, isn't that a good thing, I thought to myself incredulously.

It also struck me that perhaps it's because I'm starting to feel drained.. a kind of "blah" feeling.. a "what-is-this-for?" feeling.. a "have-I-got-my-priorities-right" feeling... It seems like my training dictates my life right now, not just my schedule. In fact, I've re-arranged my work schedule so that I can get enough rest, do regular house chores etc. I'm quite a social creature and love having people over. But with my lack of time & energy, my social life has slowed down. I haven't had time to read, prepare for Chinmaya Yuva Kendra classes, meditate, do yoga.. do all of the things that are important to me.

For what? So I can swim, bike, run 10min faster than I did before...?

I guess not. My best friend, Megs, theorized that the reason I put myself through this is because I have certain vasanas that needed to be expressed. Probably true. The desire to do a TRI was certainly latent, and has suddenly found expression in the most surprising way.

I guess the point is to see what I can really do. To test my assumptions of myself. To see if my mind can go beyond accepted perceptions of myself and be challenged to consider new perspectives of what I can do, and who I am. For that, I'll swim-bike-run, do whatever it takes. To TRI, to unearth the real me.

35-mile bike ride on Old San Antonio Road

The 35-mile bike ride this weekend was really cool. I learnt so much from my fellow tri-buddy, Ellen, who lead the bike trip.

Arvind & I were going to loop around South Mopac 4 times... but fortunately, Ellen asked if anyone wanted to take the route through Old San Antonio Road to Kyle with her. It was (a) an out-and-back ride, (b) a change of scenery from South Mopac, and (c) low-traffic route, so I readily accepted her offer.

We arrived early at 7am at Aikins High School ("it's at the end of the universe," said Ellen. She was right.) and set off. Ellen was really amazing. She had printed out the map & directions and put it into ziplock bags and had clips to attach them to the bike. She was super prepared - with bandaid, advil, cash, water, electrolyte strips.. I was impressed. She was also an excellent lead cyclist, giving all the appropriate hand signals ("look out for debris"), warnings ("car back"), directions ("in about 100m we're going to turn right at the stop sign") and kept a watchful distance while cycling. I learnt so much by watching her. I felt so secure with her leading in front and Arv looking out for me from the back. I couldn't have made it without them. I counted my blessings.

The terrain was fine, mostly gentle hills. Nothing surprising or jarring. I am somewhat used to the traffic now, so I didn't freak out for the most part. We took 2 potty stops at the gas station, and refueled too. The distance was challenging for me, though doable. We were riding at a super easy pace (Ellen said, "it's about time on the saddle, not the speed, so don't worry") I started struggling at the 33 mile or so, and really had to push myself. Unlike Ellen, I did not stretch my shoulders and back, and my hands started hurting. In the last mile, I could barely shift gears because my fingers felt weak. My new bike shorts also took some getting used to, so in all, the last 1-2miles was rough. Apart from that though, I was fine. More importantly, I did it. I felt pretty numb and spaced out once it was over, but recovered fairly quickly.

The next day I even woke up (and I nearly decided to sleep in..) at 6.30am to go for my long run. What's coming over me?? I'm actually sticking to my routine! :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

There is No Spoon

Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.

A great reminder from the Matrix.

Fear is not about something that IS; it is about something that happened or might happen. Either way, it is not real. As I thought about it, I realized it's not about dealing with fear per se. Fear is a mental projection. So I have to train my mind to behave and respond appropriately to circumstances. The body responds accordingly to what the mind tells it. If I fear wobbling, so I will wobble. If I fear crashing, and so it will be.

Changing the external world is futile; it is our internal world that needs to change. The outer world may not be different, but we can choose to respond differently.

I will attempt the hills again. In the same traffic, with a different attitude.

A New Low

I had mistakenly thought the worst was over in my bike training.

Last night was by far the scariest bike ride yet. We had to do two warm up loops starting from across the Stafford Bridge, past Austin High School and to Townlake Animal Shelter and back. I was terrified manoeuvering first through the crowds, dogs, and then through traffic. At the potty stop, I prayed to calm my nerves. The combination of traffic and fear that I couldn't brake in time, crippled my riding. Coach Liz spotted me struggling and took me across to the shelter. I just did one loop.

Then we had to go from Stafford to Rollingwood for the hill steps workout. It was so nerve-racking, that at one point, when I was on Barton Springs, I got off my bike and walked. I used to look at cyclists on Barton Springs and wonder why they love courting death. Now I was one of these crazy cyclists. As I barrelled down the slope on Barton Springs, no glib quotations on battling fear came to mind. No comforting words played in my head. Raw fear reverberated through me.

I was so shaken that I couldn't even focus on the hill workout (which was pretty brutal per se). Coach Liz was awesome. She rode beside me, doing the hills with me and encouraged me along. I felt like a liability. At the end of the five "step" hills, I finally caved in. I told Liz, "Who am I kidding? I am not going to make it through this.." I felt frustrated, let down by myself and wiped out. As if the Dementors had sucked the life out of me. And I couldn't let go of the fear of traffic. Liz said, "You've come very far, think about your first day on the bike. You can do this tough workout, but you need to manage your fear."

On the downhill, my heart raced as fast as my bike. And while others in the group were shouting in glee, "Wee! I'm at 40miles/hr!", my heart was in my mouth. The fear of being unable to stop gripped me again, and I felt my stomach doing somersaults. I slammed the brakes so hard finally that I sprained my thumb. I took a look at the last downhill step and thought, "there's no way in hell I'm going down that hill!". I walked down the hill feeling like a loser. My group mates stopped by me to see if I was ok. Others had done 2-4 hill repeats. I had barely made it through one.

Coach Liz had in the interim organized a mini-entourage to take me back to the Stafford Bridge. Feeling mentally and physically beat, I told her, "No, that's ok. I'll just call my husband to come pick me up from here." Coach Liz looked at me and said firmly, "There's something to be said about facing your fear. Don't give up now. Ride back with the others." Steph, Ellen and Lisa by this time were encouraging me along - "You'll regret it later if you don't ride back! we're here for you." Reluctantly, I got back on my bike, took a deep breath and followed them.

The good news is I made it back. But I felt like crap. I was so disappointed in myself for not being able to manage fear. Coach Liz reminded me that althought I may not have gotten the physical workout I wanted, by doing what I did, my confidence would improve by a notch. She pointed out it was not my ability, but my confidence that was an issue. Reminds me of what Morpheus told Neo in the sparring program, "But your weakness is not your technique."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Oops.. I did it again..

Fell and wounded the SAME place on my knee as the last time. My poor knee, fresh and pink after recovering from my last fall, took another hit. In a most ridiculous manner too. I had to cycle for 30miles, and just as I finished loop 2 (out of 3), I crossed over to the road divider to turn around into the third loop. I couldn't brake in time so I hit the kerb. My left foot got caught in the toe-cage so the whole bike toppled. Fortunately, there were no cars around, as I sat dazed and collapsed near the road divider. How embarrassing.

I bruised my knee cap pretty badily (it's purple now), so I'm taking rest at home today. I thought it was a pretty superficial wound on Saturday when it happened, so I did my 7-mile run on Sunday instead of resting. Today, my knee really hurts! :(

In another fiasco, I went to Barton Springs over the weekend to get over my fear of open water, only to find out I'm still fearful. The water was icy-cold, and I could barely breathe so that made me even more panicky. The springs is clear enough that you can see the floor, and that made my tummy churn. SIGH. I walked out of the springs after barely 15min, feeling very cowardly indeed.

On the positive side, I did 30miles on the bike - my longest distance ever! - quite strongly (save for the unglamourous fall) and run 7 miles quite effortlessly on Townlake. It was a hot day so I was completely wet in perspiration, but wasn't exhausted.

Arv kicked my butt at both biking and running (as expected). He faithfully accompanies me on my long runs & bike rides for no reason other than to support me. I may not be the fastest triathlete, but I'm the luckiest one for having the most amazingly supportive spouse.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Majulah Singapore!

August 9th is Singapore's National Day.
Happy Birthday, Singapore! :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Fear and all that bad stuff

It occurred to me on Saturday when I did my long-bike ride (18miles) around South Mopac that negative feelings put a huge brake (pun intended) on one's training and performance. It's really not all about building the body for the tri-challenge.. the mind needs to be trained too.

And this dawned on me as I peddled furiously on road shoulder, listening anxiously for traffic (because I dare not turn behind to look for it lest I wobble!). Every time I sped up, I would brake for fear of losing control of the bike. I was so anxious about the traffic that I gripped my handlbars very tight. A wrestler could not have pulled that bike away from me if he tried. In fact, after 18 miles of having an iron-tight grip on the bars, my hands & fingers were sore and weak. I could barely turn my ignition key in the car after training. I realized how tense I had been. Throughout the ride, I had to consistently correct my posture, loosen my shoulders, breathe deeply and quieten the mental chatter.

The hardest part was focusing on the positive because it seemed like a wave of negative thoughts was gushing through my mind ("what if a car drove too close to me?" "What if someone throws something out from their car and it hits me?" "What if my lens pop out?" "what if the car in front of me sprays debris into my eyes?" "what if I lose control of the bike?") To quieten my mind, I had to practice meditation - on wheels! Watch the thoughts, let go of the ownership, allow thoughts to pass, particularly the negative ones.

So long as I hold on to the fear, my speed will suffer. I need to learn to be ok with crashing/getting hurt if I hope to make any more progress on the bike. It's time to train the mind..

Thursday, August 2, 2007

TRI Take 2!

500m swim * 14.1mile bike * 5K run
Just signed up for the 2nd TRI of my first season. WOOO-HOO! It's going to be fun! I'm feeling good about the sprint distance, and it's looking more do-able than I imagined. Plus it's going to be at the Texas Ski Ranch again, so it's comforting know that it will be the same lake where I did my first tri. Both my Tri-buddies are going to be racing this one - Char & Steph - so it's going to rock! Ladies, we need to have a post-race tri-party plan! :)

Monday, July 30, 2007


is the number of times I went up the Veloway Hill during my 25-mile bike ride. Can u believe I had no trouble getting up the hill?!

What Arun told me last week about getting up the hill stuck with me and has been tremendously helpful (thanks, dude) - small gear in front, biggest gear at the back. And while others may have told me that before, I only understood how to work the gears on a my bike last week. Arv watched me get up the hill unsuccessfully, and pointed out I had been on the wrong gears even after I thought I had shifted them. As it turns out, I was doing them backwards! Now that I know which gears are controlled by which side of the bike handles, it is MUCH easier.

It's a great feeling to know I can ride 25 miles. (who would have thought it??) I think I've had enough of the Veloway. It's time to venture out.

The 6-mile run on Sunday through Town Lake was fun. I was there at 7am to begin my workout. I can't believe I woke up that early to do a workout! Arv didn't come with me that day, and I ran with Steph and her friend Elizabeth. We ran a decent pace, and after the run, I didn't even feel pooped. Freakin awesome.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Confessions of a bad girl

No, this is not a raunchy blog entry. (Santhosh, you can stop reading now, this is not what you were hoping for..)

My nutrition has gone out the window, particularly yesterday and today. I used to snack on bad stuff to get thru mid-morning and mid-afternoon cravings. Ever had those cravings? Right about 2pm, my energy tanks inexplicably.. and even if I were cycling in the afternoon sun, I'm sure I'd doze off the bike. I've tried coffee - which helps but the cafetaria coffee tastes like drain water, and I seldom get time to walk the nearest decent coffee place - cookies, popcorn to deal with it but then it becomes a habit. I end up needing to wean myself off those too. I've struggled to come up with alternatives.

So anyway, my tri workout regime really inspired me to get rid of the junk food and eat more healthful stuff. I adhered to my resolution these last few weeks, and then a sugar craving hit me yesterday that I have had dificulty shaking off (it was contagious apparently, because Arv had the same feeling). Today I had M&Ms. a 100-calorie snack-pack, popcorn... and an hour or so before the workout I had a cliff bar (brownie fudge no less), an eggroll (GASP) and 2 veggie potstickers (faint)! Of course, karma ensured that I tasted the eggroll through 3 miles of running the Marshes. I'll never do that again. Arv expressed genine shock at my feat.

Clearly my nutrition needs to be revisited.. I'm definitely not eating the times that I should be and it's resulting in sharp appetite increases at the "wrong" times. Advice anyone?

P.s. No accelerade sno-cones in Austin, Vinoo, so don't even go there..

Monday, July 23, 2007

Optimus has a fall

My weekend training was fairly eventful. I decided to flip the routine around, and do the run on Saturday, and the brick on Sunday. The 5-mile run was very enjoyable, and I wasn't at all tired. During the run, I focused on form a lot, keeping my arms at right-angles and relaxing into the run.

The brick was tough. We didn't get off to a good start, really. We had a late night on Saturday, so we didn't get up until 10am or so. Then the bike rack had issues with carrying both Optimus and our friend's Huffy. Finally, we put Optimus in the back seat, and carried the Huffy on the rack. The sun was blazing by the time we got to the Veloway. One of our friends (who's done a 360-mile bike ride) joined us. Both he and Arv (on the Huffy) were way ahead of me, and sailed through the Hill. After pushing through 5 loops on the Veloway (only making the Hill 1/3 of the time), I skidded on a sharp turn and crashed. I had rode too close to the edge of the lane and skidded on a pool of mud.

Fortunately, I had bike gloves on, so I didn't scrape off the skin from my hands. My left knee took a bit of a beating. Poor Optimus had one of his handlebars bent by the impact. The gears & brakes were fine, so I continued on my loop. The guys were way ahead and hadn't realized I had fallen. I was determined to finish 20 miles, so I pushed ahead on the 6th loop (with a concerned Arvind watching my back this time), and even made it up the hill! I completed the 20miles and a 10min run with a bleeding knee. Quite melodramatic.

Gau & Santhosh told me to wear my wound proudly as a badge of honour. Whatever. In a way though, I'm glad I fell, because it was a nagging fear. Now that it's done, I can ride more fearlessly, knowing I can survive a crash. :) I guess Optimus has now been broken in.

Friday, July 20, 2007


Funny, I don't think I was ever this happy about running when I trained for the half-marathon. Today's session was good. Of course, I'm no gazelle (nor any desire to be), but I ran consistently and did the workout to the T - I ran consciously, thinking about form & pace (whereas previously, I would let my mind wander while running). It was a good workout. Ok, Gau, not "good" or "bad", but my practice seems to be paying off.

Reflecting on my week, I've gone through some ups and downs, and mostly, because of my mind. I'd like to focus on being more equipoised, and being more relaxed during my workouts. This will probably help me focus better. This weekend we have a long bike ride (18 miles) and a brick. Should be fun!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

All geared up and going nowhere

Yesterday I had a lousy bike session. It was like being 8 again when all my friends jumped on their bikes and sped off, leaving me in the dust. Everyone else did hill repeats, while I practiced some pretty basic stuff in a parking lot with my coach, Lorrie. It was my first time out on the road, and I freaked out. Kind of like swimming in open water. You can swim comfortably a million times in a pool but still freak out when you first swim in the sea/lake. I guess it's a fear of the unknown. The traffic wasn't bad, but I really had to steady my nerves in the presence of cars zipping past me. :( I'll get over it.

Gau told me something yesterday, which on reflection, is pretty profound, "there's no good or bad workout, only the need for more or less practice". And thus spake the Ultramarathoner.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Optimus Rocks the Hill!

Ladies & Gentlemen, presenting...

Optimus Azure Blew
Folks, thanks for all your creative suggestions! ("Bucephalus" I did not get.. it sounded too much like a disease..) Arv really wanted Azure somewhere in there, and after trying different combinations, we agreed to this. Optimus means "most favourable, optimum". When I watched the Tranformers, the thought popped into my head to call him "Optimus Blue" (or Bloo, but Arv argued people might mispronounce it as "blow"). Today, as I sailed through the Veloway on Optimus, I felt like I was flying - blown away - hence, "blew". Azure speaks for itself.
I love Optimus! We took him for a spin on Sunday, and it was my first test-ride. But Optimus felt so right! Immediately, I noticed how comfortable I was (because I was sized well for this bike), and it was fast but not uncontrollably so. I practised the gears, and that still needs some getting used to. The biggest thing I need to look out for is my posture. If I choose to, I can sit upright, and when I feel more competitive, I can slide my hands down the bike horns and lean forward. :)
Optimus took me up the hill today! YES! So, Mr. Veloway Hill is not the hotshot he used to be. As I went up the hill today (mostly in shock at how fast I was advancing), a biker chided me for being on the left side of the hill. Oh well. If I WERE such a good biker, I guess I wouldn't be on the wrong side of the hill in the first place, right? I think it's so easy for good cyclists to forget how they themselves first struggled. Anyway, whatever. The thrill of going up the hill made up for everything.

Friday, July 13, 2007

My new baby

I got my first bike! I'm a little nervous about riding a road bike, having barely gotten used to the hybrid. The guy at the store warned me it would be a new learning curve. When I was being sized yesterday, I was pretty tense. Zane told me to relax. I said, can you tell I'm a novice? He said, I see you're a novice, but I'm not sure why you're nervous..

Need to work on my posture on this new baby. I'm slouching and that's going to be a problem. Had no time to take it for a spin because I had to go for run training (hill repeats.. urgh). Arv took it for a spin instead and said it rocked. Can't wait to try it out tommorrow on the Veloway!

Oh, and I'm taking suggestions for names for my bike, so pls throw your idea into the hat. ;)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Insanity in the family

So you think I'm crazy to do 3 triathlons in 3 months? Wait till you hear what my cousins are upto..

Yes, the LONG course of the Santa Barbara Triathlon with 900 participants. That's 1 mile swim in the PACIFIC OCEAN, 34 mile bike ride and 10mile run! It gets better. They don't have a coach, and this will be their FIRST TRIATHLON!

So here I was thinking it's a pretty crazy goal to do an Olympic distance in 4 months of training, and along come my cousins who will attempt their first tri in a longer-than-Olympic distance.. in the Pacific Ocean! My jaw dropped when my cousin, Shobi, told me about this adventure. The "mom" in me leaped out and freaked. Mitra reasoned with me, well, they're big girls, they'll take care of themselves. Point taken. But did I mention its in the Pacific Ocean?? The first thing I did was email them about Swim Aids: (re: for de ja vu, read my earlier post "Look Ma! No Floats!") I became calmer when I read that the swim course will only take you out 200yards into the ocean (it's an interesting loop).

Anyhoots, it's inspiring, quite frankly. My crazy cousins have shown me one thing - anything is possible if you set your mind to it. These chicks are ballsy. I'm really proud of them for setting a target like this. And I know they will rock! August 26 will be big day for both of them, and for me too - While their out in the Pacific Ocean, I'll be making my rounds in the cable lake at Texas Ski Ranch.

Those of you who thought I was mad, now you know - it runs in the family! :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Debriefing 1st TRI

One of the significant differences after the race has been to change the blog reader (right on, Gau) - from "non-athlete" to "newbie athlete". Today, at the bike session (which I sat out since my new bike is only coming in tommorrow - yes!) Coach Liz announced that everyone in our group now is officially a triathlete (my group mates clapped for me in support). It feels like a rite of passage to be called a "triathlete". Let's not get carried away, Sha, says a little voice in my head. We'll see if I'll survive the next race which is a Sprint Distance triathlon (Aug 26).

I have mixed feelings about my race. I'm not feeling uber-good or on top of the world or anything. It was tough. I was really anxious during the swim, and annoyed by my inability to stay equipoised. The bike leg was no zippedy-doo-da ride either.

Swim analysis:
- Well, I didn't drown or yell for a lifejacket. I guess that's good.
- My swim time of 11min for 300m was ok, given the anxiety and fear playing on my mind.
- Need to work on swimming comfortably in open water. I talked to my coach for some options. I'd like to do my weekend swim training in a lake-like environment.

Bike analysis:
- Pat on the back for staying on course, pushing through hills and doing my first double-digit bike mileage in 1 hour. Hitherto, I had only done a max of 8 miles on the Veloway, and that took me a good hour and 15 min.
- More pats on the back for getting my act together in effectively 3 bike training sessions.
- Need to work on getting more comfortable with gear shifting.
- Knowing how to change a flat will improve my confidence generally. That way, I won't have fear of a flat playing on my mind.

Run analysis:
- I hobbled through half of this distance. In the premises, my 12min/mile pace was decent. Interestingly, my 2-mile time trial for last-year's the half-marathon training was 22min 17s. So the fact that I did 12min/mile AFTER the swim & the bike ride, is worthy of another pat on the back.
- Need to work on a more powerful finish.

One thing's for sure. If I want to survive longer distances than this rookie triathlon, I need to train A LOT harder.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

And you're going and you're going, and the road's real straight!

My 1st TRI is done! Woo-hooo! I clocked 1:42:46.

Was definitely the most challenging part - not physically, but mentally. I was anxious looking at the murky water. During the warm-ups, I could barely get myself past the first buoy before swimming quickly back. Just the thought of not knowing the depth and not being able to hang onto to something (even though I knew I could easily swim the distance) made me feel nervous. I kept looking to Arv for comfort. He had his usual chilled out cheerful smile. (Coach Liz told me, "He's such a good husband! Does what he's told, carries the bag") After the gun shot, I spent about 100m just calming myself down and regularizing my breathing. It was just a freakin mind-game, and I was somewhat disappointed that I didn't overcome it faster. Inspite of the mental drama, I did it in a decent time (I think). Well now I know how it feels to swim into the unknown, I'll get better at it the next time.

Fairly smooth, and drama-free. I had mentally rehearsed it in my mind, and got through it decently.

Hitherto I had never done 12 miles, so I'm quite proud of myself. My goal was to stay on the bike and ride safely (both of which I did). We were told there would only "gently sloping hills" but it felt like there were SO many of them! I learnt how to use the propulsion from the downhill to move farther on the uphill with less pedalling. No bike issues. I saw one or two whose bike chains came off or fell off to the side. Scarlett was awesome! She stayed steady inspite of the strong winds. Coach Liz would be proud of me. I came up with my own mantra to get through the mean hills "and you're going and you're going, (x 6) and the road's real straight!" :)

Was very disoriented, and felt somewhat dizzy. Not an easy transition this one. Had to figure out where my bike rack was..

My sit bones hurt a LOT. It was the longest and most painful 2 miles I'd done. Fairly boring. I kept telling myself I was minutes from being a triathlete!

As I crossed the finish line, Coach Liz yelled to me, "Good job, triathlete!" Arv had a big smile on his face, and concern in his eyes as I slapped an ice-cold towel over my face and panted profusely. It's done, honey. The first TRI is done.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Simply amazing TRI heroes..

Admittedly, I've got the flutters in the tummy the night before the race.

One of our friends, Joel Hayes, is an Ironman, and shared with me some inspiration. Last night, over dinner, and he told us about an amazing father and son team who've done 6 Ironman triathlons. The 44-yr-old son has cerebral palsy, and his 66-yr-old father has pulled & pushed him on his wheelchair through every single one of those races (and some). Joel said he was passed by the father & son team in one of the Ironman races (Team Hoyt), and he was blown away by them. It was very humbling indeed.

I watched the video and had tears in my eyes, feeling very small indeed. Nothing compares to this, people.

I think the lucky triathletes are the ones who have their loved ones behind them 100%. That's where I consider myself very blessed to have a hubby who's so supportive and encouraging of my triscapades. He's my biggest fan & cheerleader.

I'm very fortunate to be able to compete at all. I'm going to have fun tommorrow, and be very grateful for the opportunity, and for all the support I get from loved ones & friends.

Another Brick in the Wall

I made up my run during lunch yesterday. Ran from the Hobby building to Auditorium shores, did one round around the Steve Vaughn statue, couple of footdrills (I must have been a pretty crazy sight skippity-hopping by myself) and 8 times of 30/30. In the middle of it all, Woody (the guy with the guitar on Townlake) even serenaded me and complimented my smile. LOL.

And then I went for an easy 5-mile bike ride in evening and finished just in time before it poured (finally beat the weather, ha!) Was pretty shocked at myself. I'm usually quite creative (and effective) in finding excuses to weasle out of training sessions. But here I am willfully and purposefully exercising. Arv was pretty stunned too, and commented it was probably the first time he saw me training without being persuaded to. I told him it's because I'm afraid for my life on Sunday. :)

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Ok, so the title is cliche and TRI-ite. So sue me. I didn't go for my run today because the weather cheated me. And I didn't want to run in the drizzle and risk slipping on muddy paths/slippery roads. Call me a ninny, but the race is more important. I'll make up the run during lunch tommorrow.

I was able to work on my collage assignment during the chill out time. It was fun! If this wasn't an all-girls training group, I doubt if we would have had a collage assignment - to visualize our success. Regardless, I like the idea. This is like a Visual Map of my goals.

I got some magazines from Half-Price bookstore and from Kerstin (my triathlete boss), cut out some inspiring pics & words.

After some reflection, I decided that variety.. athletic achievement..general fitness..staying in focus.. these really drive me in tri-training. The challenge is in balancing all this with other things I want to do in life.

Race Prep & atahasa ("elaborate rituals")

I confess I went to see the Texas Ski Ranch today. I know what you're thinking - scaredy cat! Whatever. I'm the one who'll be in the middle of a lake, not you, so I don't care for your judgement, quite frankly. Arv, inspite of his lousy bout of allergies and pains, said in his usual supportive way he'd accompany me. I have been having the butterflies in the tummy thinking about swimming in open waters. I read in Triathlon Life that preparing for your swim in the open waters can feel like a death march. So I wanted to see what I was in for, rather than risk panic spasms on race day. Quite an unglamourous way to go, passing out at the start of a rookie race. As it turned out, the lake wasn't at all intimidating. Only 9 ft, the manager told me. Pshh.

After that, I went to hunt for tri-gear and/or race gear. I don't have a triathlete's body yet, so none of the two-pieces worked for me. I'll probably stick with my swim suit & wear my bike shorts on top of it, and then add a tee for the bike/run. Inspite of not getting any swanky sportswear, my shopping at Academy yielded me a significant bill for sports sandals, Gu-shots, camelback and a visor.

Oh, and it seems, Mum had told Dad that his daughter was planning to risk her life at a lake for a triathlon. His calm reply to her was, relax, it's only a lake. Not like she's swimming out into the choppy ocean waters or anything. He told me, you'll do well, baby, good luck for your race.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Not Pink Floyd's Brick

I did a brick today. A brick I learned is a bike-run or swim-bike routine (Arv argued that the latter should be a swibe, not a brick.. and thus spake the pedantic hubby). It was my "rehearsal" for the race. So I did about 25 laps in my 15m apartment pool and then practised a transition (well, kind of anyway). Before I could get a laundry card from Gau's place, grey skies poured on me. Undeterred, I ran back to the gym to do the stationary bike for 45min. True to Sally Edwards' description of one's first triathlon issues, I found my legs a little wobbly after the bike ride (after averaging about 80 rpms).

I learned a couple of things. If you don't want to be stared at, avoid doing intense laps when a poolside party is going on. A little girl saw me swimming furiously across the pool and scrammed out of the way in fright. Nevertheless, I thought it was interesting to swim amidst people (not quite as interesting for them, though) and get a feel for swimming in a crowd. Another thing is that its tough to put on bike pants after your swim. So me thinks I'll stick with wearing the lycra shorts on top of my swimsuit and keeping them throughout.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Look, Ma! No floats!

So I broke the news to my mum that I was doing a triathlon next week. She freaked out. Have you lost your mind? What are you trying to prove?? Why must you do this?? Not proving anything, ma, just want to see what my body is capable of doing. Besides, it's just 300m swim, 12 mile bike ride, 2 mile run..

12 MILE bike ride?? She gasped. That's crazy! So you and Arvind are doing this together? No, just me, ma, Arv has to learn to swim well. Mum was briefly amused. Have you been practising? When was the last time you swam? I told her I had joined a program to help me train. Of course, swimming in the open water would be something new..

OPEN WATER? She was shocked. Are you going to be wearing floats?? *sigh* No, ma, no floats, and no lifejackets. It's a RACE!

I could hear her marking the date mentally, and envisioning me doing a triathlon. I think she's mostly stunned because I was never athletic growing up (even when she encouraged me to try different sports). And here I am, attempting a triathlon as a personal challenge. I can barely believe it myself.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Fartleks in Missouri

Well, I did it. I actually managed to follow somepart of my running routine. And discovered that hubby is a pretty brutal coach. We went running around his parents' neighbourhood - I should add it was a hilly neighbourhood, and not the easiest place to be doing fartleks. We did the 4-3-2-1 routine, and it seemed as if everytime we were running our fast pace, Arv would direct me towards a hill! "You @#$#^%!" I cursed at Arv as he ran in the direction of an uphill on our 3-min fast pace. "Doing fartleks downhill ain't gonna do you any good!" came his sharp retort. Ouch. And thus spake my wicked hubby..

I think I pushed too hard on the last minute, though. Felt a sharp pain in my chest as I raced downhill (like Forest Gump running towards the banner "Run here Forrest" in the scene at stadium). I needed a full 15-min rest period until the pain stopped. Bizzare. Don't think I'll get to do any biking or anymore running this weekend. It's been raining and chilly, and I don't have good running gear for this. :(

Been having some weird running dreams too. I dreamt that I was watching my friends (that's u people - Santhosh, Gau & Ganesh) running on the trail, and midway thru, Santhosh and another girl sat down on the trail, back-to-back, eyes closed. To my great astonishment, they started levitating across the trail. Ganesh & Gau told me, we don't tell the race directors about this part! And I thot, wow, it's no wonder Santhosh always finishes first..

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Revenge of the Flippers II

Flippers are not for humans, I'm sorry. They look ridiculous and are extremely brutal to ankles. I cramped again today for the first 2 drills. Fortunately, my ankles made a faster recovery this time around. The coach advised more Potassium. And water. I agree I don't drink enough water. Guess I will need to do some research on how to get more Potassium.

I ended the session today doing 250m with a 10-15s break after each lap today. Wasn't exhausted surprisingly. Including the drills & warm-up laps, the total distance comes to approx. 800m. Most of it I did in freestyle - or at least some version of it (pat on the back). Char's advice rung in my head - to kick off in freestyle, and break into breast stroke when I felt tired, and pick up on freestyle again. I might do that for the first race.

As I drove back on the picturesque 360, my mind wandered to race day. So after all this swimming, I was supposed to hop onto a bike and go about 4 times around the Velloway, and then run from roughly the Town Lake water stop to Lamar Bridge (that's how I've figured the distances). Holy cow.

I'm noticing subtle changes in physique. My fatigue must be causing hallucinations. After one week of training?! Arv assured me my calves & quads were more defined than before. Well, I hope the rest of me keeps up, or I'm going to start looking VERY weird.

Bike Mechanics & the Veloway Hill

While others went off to ride on Mopac today, I stayed on the Veloway (thankfully) and did 8 miles. I had done 9 miles over the weekend, and the practice was definitely helpful. There's a horrible (but short) hill on the Veloway which I haven't been able to ride through. It caused me some anxiety and a sense of dread as I did my rounds. I've tried about 3 times now, and each time I am able to make it a little further up the hill. Geez. My boss' 8-yr-old can make it up the hill. The little guy is also doing a kid's triathlon this year (!!)

For the most part, I worked on riding curves and shifting gears. Had some trouble with gears (the small chain), and the chain popped off twice. Fortunately, some good Samaritans stopped and helped. It's pretty cool to see how nice and helpful riders are on the Veloway. When I pulled off to the side, I had several people ask me if I needed help. Might need to take it to a bike mechanic to see if it the derailer needs adjustment. Next week, our coaches are going to show us how to change a flat!

Still haven't found a bike yet. :( I've only seen about 6 bikes so far, and I'd like to see some more before I blow a tonne of money. My friend (whose bike I'm riding) - Charanya (my namesake!)- has been really awesome about lending me her hybrid. Luckily for me, she's told me to take my time to find a good bike, and to borrow hers in the interim. I'll stick with her bike for the race, most likely, and then buy a new one. It always takes time to get used to a bike, so I don't want to be riding a new bike on race day. Charanya had advised me to wear tri-pants for cycling, and I can see how that could be helpful, so I'll probably get a pair for the race next week.

Monday, June 25, 2007

First TRI

WOO HOO! I've signed up for my first race!

The Rogue Women's Tri is on July 8 at Texas Ski Branch in New Braunfels. The race course is a 300m swim, 12mile bike ride and 2mile run.

My goals are:
1) Get experience swimming in open waters (!!);
2) Learn how to transition;
3) Build endurance & confidence.
This is not going to be a race for me so much as it is going to be exposure to triathlons. Exciting, exciting. They're also going to have veggie burgers for us after the race. Can I ask for more?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Week Two - reflection & anticipation

Feeling good that I actually managed to adhere to the beginners' workout schedule prescribed by Liz & Lorrie. Did my long bike ride on Saturday and gained more confidence. It was pretty eventful, with my bike buddy having an accident with her bike on the Veloway, and her buddy having trouble with a bent back wheel! Thankfully both are ok. My bike buddy had gone ahead of me, and pulled off to the side after her accident. But I blissfully rode past her because I hadn't noticed her injuries (!!!), and told her casually that I wanted to do one more round before calling it a day. When I returned, I was shocked when I realized she had fallen off her bike. Golly. How oblivious can I be! Note to self: Be a better bike buddy!

The short but deadly hill on the Veloway threw me off completely. I've never tried to ride up a hill as steep as that, and only managed to climb part of the way on my 2nd attempt (before I ended up injuring myself). That's ok, though. I'm giving myself a break. I think I did pretty ok for a first week.

I nearly squirmed out of my running workout today. It was only Arv's gentle but firm reminder of my impending 1st tri race on July 8 that brought me to my senses. My man rocks. :) He has amazing discipline, and far more focus than I do. If he learnt to swim, he'd kick my butt in a triathlon. He is probably also more concerned about my well-being during my first race than I am. It's so awesome to have a supportive partner.

Couple of goals for this week:
1) Bike - practice riding curves and become more stable & comfortable with riding. Also, get a freakin' bike.
2) swim - work on freestyle breathing techniques. Stay calm in deep water, and focus ahead - don't look below.
3) make up the run workout while on vacation in Missouri.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Running Karma

Poor Arv. He went biking on the Veloway yesterday and got some strange insect bite on his hand that made his hands swell (!!). Bizarre. He was so put out by his meds today that he couldn't give me his usual enthusiastic send off advice.

I never imagined saying this, but I actually felt GREAT during & after the training run today. I felt strong and could run decently, even though it was a lot more humid than I had previously run. It was also nice to finally know what drills the coaches were talking about! Grapevine, skippity hop, sideways.. it brought back memories of the cold morning when I made the decision to do a triathlon. After our warm-up run, Liz said to me, "That was a pretty speedy easy run! What was your time for your half-marathon?" So as it turns out, the suffering I went through the half-marathon training is actually paying off.

I've also gotten to know a few of the people in the bike/run group. They seem really nice. I took up Stephanie's offer to do the long bike ride together on Saturday with a friend of hers. I ran with Renee during the fast pace & recovery (in all, a 30-min run), and learnt that her husband is also a running fan like Arv. The small group (compared to the Half-marathon group) makes it easier to interact with people. I'm eager to learn everyone's triathlon stories. Pretty inspiring.

I'm glad to end off the training this week on a good note. Quite frankly, after yesterday's swim, I felt like the only competent physical activity I could do was drive my car to work (thankfully no issues there). A STEEP learning curve lies ahead in the coming weeks. But after hitting such lows this week, things can only get better..

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

When Reality Sinks In..

From the title, it's plain that my first swim training session did not go well. I was late, rushed, and got lost.. Was late leaving work, hunted for my goggles high & low to no avail, and finally Arv literally pushed me out the door (just use the old googles, you'll be fine... whatever, honey) so I wouldn't be any later than I already was. Note to self: get more organized!

Right when I arrived, everyone had got their set of flippers (!!!) and buoy, and were getting ready to set off on their laps. The first 10 min was just plain swimming, in our most comfortable stroke. I started doing my first 25yard lap when my goggles (the ones which I got last summer from Wal-mart when I spent many a jobless day doing laps in the 15m apartment swimming pool) collapsed on me - fogged and leaked all at once. I discovered I was better at manoeuvring with one hand while swimming than while biking. So although it was still a battle with the goggles for a while, it could have been worse, I suppose. Well, then it got worse. The straps slipped out. Urgh. While the coach gave advice, only 50% of my attention was on him, the other half of my brain focused on resuscitating my googles. I'm done with Walmart. And with these lousy goggles.

Swimming with flippers was a complete nightmare! I don't see how it is easier to swim in those darn things. My leg cramped within the first 10 yards and I swam to the side to nurse my ankle. I took a good 40 yards to get used to them. My ankles are still hurting. :( The other swimmers made it look all very effortless. Yesterday's embarrassment followed me throughout today's training. Swimming was supposed to be my strength. And so it was... until I discovered the program would only teach freestyle (which I renounced at the age of 14 because it was too tiresome. Breastroke became my 2nd nature) Geez. It's like someone shut off the light at the end of the tunnel.

I've hit SUCH a low, that things can only get better.

And the Rookie Jumps Right In

As I got ready to go for my first bike training session, I expressed my trepidation to Arv. I had seen him ride effortlessly around the parking lot the night before while I barely made it through 100m. I told him he should be the one doing this triathlon. Or maybe we could do a relay together. Arv took one look at me and said, sure we'll do a relay.. after your triathlon program. Thanks, honey. Arv packed me off to my training with Neo-esque advice - There IS no bike. Gotta love my man.

Then I discovered at the first session today that in my class of 20-odd athletes, I'm the only one who didn't know how to work the gears on a bike. Blast. I must have missed the part in the training program write-up which said only former triathletes need apply. :)

I also discovered that out of the 20-odd people, only 6 of us considered ourselves as beginners (out of which at least two mooted the idea of whether they were really intermediate rather than beginners). Out of them, I am the only one who's never done a triathlon. That said, the group people seem really nice. One of them offered to explain to me how gears work. Another talked to me about how just 3 months ago, she was struggling with swimming & biking, but that she eventually made it through the Rookie triathlon.

My coaches were also very encouraging. I had the pleasure of being the sole person to be accompanied by BOTH my coaches around Veloway. (It was like being 12 years old again. Only the training wheels were missing.) I hadn't rode a bike for a decent distance i.e. more than 200 m in at least 10 years. And it showed. While the other cyclists whizzed past me, I wobbled through my first mile. I couldn't once take my eyes off the road and make eye contact with Liz, my coach, who was riding beside me.

Liz guided me through the gears, and how to manoeuvre around the curves. Thankfully, it was a fairly uneventful ride - no drama of falling by the wayside. She promised I would get better with practice. Lorrie asked me if I would be back for next week's training. :)

I probably should feel a lot worse than I do. Inspite of being the lone rookie in my group, my excitement hasn't taken a hit. I'm still happy to be here. And you know - ignorance is bliss.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Day Before Week One

So here I am. Still wondering how I got here. (the triathlon & the blog, I mean) A day away from the first training session for my first Triathlon. I am still not sure if it's really happening.. if I REALLY signed up for this. But it feels good, even if it is a dream..
The story begins on a cold early wet morning in November as I did sprints around the Austin High track during my training for my first half-marathon (a remarkable event mostly because it was my first EVER attempt at anything remotely athletic). I had signed up for the program with my hubby, Arv. In fact but for him, there would have been no half-marathon for me, let alone a triathlon. His interest in Asha for Education & the marathon training program fueled my enthusiasm. An important detour in the story, but I'll return to my point.
On this particularly chilly, drizzly, fall/winter morning, as I huffed and puffed through the sprints, the banality of the routine struck me deeply. Not like training for a triathlon, I thought. Loads more fun, given the variety of activities. I reflected on that thought in surprise. Did I just think that? What made me think of training for a triathlon? I was barely making it through the half-marathon training program, and yet the excitement of a triathlon already gripped me. The triathlon seed floated stealthily into my mind and took root on that day. Soon, I could't wait for the half-marathon to be over so that I could start looking out for a tri to do.
That would be my next big thing.
And the blog? Another one of those things that popped into my head which I decided to go with.