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! :)