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.