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.