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.