Triathlon 101 – Step One: Commit

Tandem Electric Bike Around Angel Island

The last time I rode a bike was renting this tandem electric bike to ride around Angel Island for my mom’s birthday. Not a triathlon approved bicycle, I’m sure.

What in the world did I just commit to?

I went on a run a few weeks ago with my fitness twin, Lizzy (both of us were born on March 10th, although I am 5 years older).  We run regularly once a week for an hour or so.  We’ve both run a marathon before (for me, it was a one-time 26.2 miles when I turned 26 years old).  Yeah, so I’d say we’re average runners.

Lizzy told me that she started taking swim classes in the start of September (and like me, she had never officially swam a lap before), and she had worked up to swimming a mile each class.  And… with this new “skill,” she had a goal of training for a triathlon.  Not just any triathlon, but the Ironman one day.

Lizzy knew she could share this with me because I would understand.  I know she can do anything she puts her mind to.  I know this goal is attainable.  She can absolutely do it.  No doubt.

Problem is, this is where the twin factor comes in, because now I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  Ok, obsessing about it.  A triathlon?  I’m turning 40 in 6 months and do I want to do one too?  It was like a switch in my head that I never knew was there.  And now that switch was ON.

  • No, I don’t swim.
  • I’ve never swam a real lap before.
  • I don’t even have goggles.
  • I never go in the ocean when I am at a beach.
  • I really really really do not handle cold well.
  • No, I don’t ride bikes.
  • When was the last time I rode a bike?
  • I don’t even know how to switch gears.
  • I don’t have a helmet.
  • Forget the helmet, I don’t even own a bike.

Thoughts and thoughts kept circling my mind.  More and more No’s.  More and more stop being crazy.  More and more why do you want to torture yourself?

But just one YES.

A persistent, determined, gritty YES, I can do it.

No!!!  Stop!  Ok, what exactly are the distances of a triathlon?  Let’s get realistic here.  Approximate distances:

  • Sprint: 0.5 mile swim, 12.4 mile bike, 3.1 mile run
  • Olympic/International: 0.93 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike, 6.2 mile run
  • 70.3 Ironman: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
  • Ironman: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run

Given that information, I gave myself a “test run.” After teaching a cardio dance class (I equated it to a short 3 mile run), I took a 40 minute indoor cycle class (covered 14 miles), and then attempted to swim.

Ok let’s break down my swim.  It was a 25 yard pool.  I put on my 7-year-old daughter’s goggles.  I swam 2 laps (back and forth), and could not breathe without huffing and puffing.  I had to adjust my goggles every other lap until I found the right fit so that water wouldn’t leak in.  By then I probably had gone 10 laps (with stops), and I was OUT of breath each time.  I looked around me and all the swimmers around me were lapping nonstop, until finally the lady next to me rested.  I humbly asked her to give me some breathing tips.  She told me to work up to “bilateral breathing” which means taking a breath every 3 strokes and switching sides.  Right stroke with breath, left stroke, right stroke, left stroke with breath, right, left, etc.  I tried.  And failed.  I couldn’t breathe to my left without flailing or gasping for air.  Ack.  So I asked another woman for advice.  She said to just breathe every 2 strokes on my right to start and build endurance.  Then work on drills for my left after.  Ok.  By then I had barely survived 20 laps and basically concluded the triathlon was not possible.  But I was determined.  I wanted to swim for the entire hour.  So I took the 2 stroke breath technique and told myself to slow down my strokes, keep a steady, calm yoga breath, and just go as long as possible.  No rushing.  Yoga breath.  “Just Keep Swimming.”

Miraculously, from 20-66 laps, I did it.  Over half a mile nonstop swimming.  Somehow, breathing often and mentally calming down helped me find a rhythm, and that’s what worked for me.  I was shocked I did it.

Which meant, I can do a triathlon after all, well sort of, if you count a pool swim, an indoor bike, and a dance class.

Ok, so IF this really is possible….. then a triathlon is a huge investment!  It’s not just a one time thing.  With running you can get a good pair of shoes and clothing, and you’re off.  A triathlon requires a lot more upfront costs on things that you should be using again and again.  I thought through what I might need (Note: this is from a Beginning Triathlete point of view):

Swim:

  • Water cap
  • Goggles
  • Swimsuit
  • Wetsuit

Bike:

  • Triathlon padded shorts
  • Fitted top
  • Helmet
  • Wrap sunglasses
  • Cycling shoes
  • Bicycle

Run

  • Running shoes
  • Socks

Yes that will add up.  But at this point, doing a triathlon was something I just couldn’t shake off.  I justified the cost as an early 40th birthday present to myself.

Moving on.

Researching races.  Conveniently (or absurdly), there was a local race in a few weeks.  The Marin Triathlon Sprint on November 3rd, 2018.  A perfect test to see if I could truly survive the cold water and swim, ride a bike, and then finish with a run.  And if it works out, the goal is doing an Olympic triathlon in the Spring, followed by the 70.3 Ironman in Santa Rosa July 29th, 2019.

So that’s where I am at today.  I am in too deep now to backup.  At the very least, I signed up for the Marin Triathlon Sprint.  What I choose to do after is uncertain.  But this is a start.  And we all have to start somewhere right?

I am terrified people.  I am really scared of the water and I don’t want to let anyone down if I can’t do it.  Please pray for me.

And a teeny tiny part of me is excited and giddy.  I am determined.  I am focused.  I am proud of myself for trying to conquer some major fears of mine. I can do it.

Time to go shopping.

Original post written on October 12, 2018.

 

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My Birthday Wish

I love birthdays because it always reminds me to stop and reflect on all the good in my life.  Two daughters that I can get endless hugs and kisses from.  A husband that supports our family by saving lives everyday.  A loyal dog that follows me everywhere I go.  New homeowners and surviving months of remodeling.  Flowers delivered from my best friend.  Friends and family sending hellos and birthday wishes.  A celebratory lemon drop martini.  Surviving our first family dinner out at a restaurant since my youngest was born 2 months ago.  Continuing a week-long dessert feast for my sweet tooth…

It’s easy to remember to cherish all the big and small blessings around me on my birthday, but the tricky part is slowing down the other 364 days of the year and not get too affected by the unimportant drama that can drag me down.  Being late to school.  Waiting in a long line at the grocery store.  Fighting exhausting.  Losing my patience.  Paying bills.  Organizing files.  Keeping the house clean.  Worrying about my weight.  Dealing with people that I disagree with.  The endless to-do list…

And then I read an email about my childhood family friend who I went to high school with.  Newly married, has a baby, normal life, and just diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer.

What. Is. Going. On.

The answer?  Life.  This is life.  Temporary, unpredictable, cruel, and always too short.  As much as I try to control and plan ahead, life will take its own course.  I must accept that.  My friend has to accept that.

Everyday may not be my birthday, but beginning today, I will treat each day as if it were.  Because everyday deserves a little celebration, a little reflection, a little indulgence, and lots and lots of big hugs and kisses, regardless how out of control life seems.  Life is too short to look at the glass half empty.  It is always half full.

My birthday wish?  Stop and reflect on all the good in your life, right now.  Reach out to a long-lost friend and say hello.  Eat slower and savor each bite you chew.  Show your family you love them.  Filter out what is truly a big deal, and what is just drama that needs to be let go.  Tell stories and share with each other.  Let’s treat everyday like it is our birthday.

Yoga Dance – “Make You Feel My Love”

It’s been about 9 months since my first Yoga Dance, and now that I am a year older as of yesterday, I decided it was time to try doing another one.  Yoga is such a challenging and humbling practice.  There is always something more to learn, more to grow, more to develop… and yet, we learn in yoga to stay only in the present moment and let go of expectations, competition, or judgment.  We let go of where we’ve been, and let go of where we want to go, and only focus on the “now.”  Every time I step on the mat, it’s a whole new experience.  Some days are wobbly and weak, other days are stable and strong.  And I just accept it, appreciate it, and remember that I am grateful for simply… being on the mat.  I absolutely love it.

Right now, I am in love with the song, “Make You Feel My Love,” by the Glee Cast, specifically sung by Lea Michelle.  Hope you enjoy my yoga dance… one in which you will see me shaking, struggling, and if you listen close enough, grunting.  =)  A big thank you to Jamie Ginsberg, the owner at Marin Power Yoga who was open to doing an impromptu video shoot after I taught my class… sometimes it’s just better unplanned.  =)

The Grateful Habit

Grateful 365 Days a Year

“For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night.  For health and food, For love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today I celebrate another birthday.  Yes, some things are different today.  I might hear from more people than a usual day.  I might receive a few more cards or gifts than a usual day.  I might eat a little unhealthier than a usual day.

But one thing that does not change from the other 364 days in the year… is feeling grateful.

We don’t need a special occasion or event to feel grateful.  We don’t need to receive anything or be acknowledged to feel grateful.  We don’t need to wait until we lose something or someone to feel grateful.

Being grateful is a skill to learn, a habit to form, a discipline to master.  It requires effort and it demands practice.  But when you put in that effort and when you truly practice being grateful, the way you see and experience the world will drastically change.

To be honest, on most days I am a nervous and anxious person who worries about everything and stresses out over the smallest things, causing me to be an insomniac, and is probably one of the triggers for my life-long migraines.  On other days, my naturally introverted personality likes to be self-critical and forces me so deep inside my head that I feel like I am bordering between moodiness and depression.  It is easy to be negative, to be pessimistic, to be angry.  Life is cruel to everyone in so many ways… but life can also be beautiful if you allow yourself to see the light in the darkness.

Three years ago, I received a gift from my sister – a five-year journal.  Each page had the date on the top, for example, March 10th, and underneath were 5 spaces for the journal entry, one for the current year, one for the following year, and so forth.  I chose to use this journal as a tangible method of forcing myself to see, really see, at least one positive thing that I was grateful for that day.  And so I began forming the habit of writing in my gratitude journal, and more importantly, forming “The Grateful Habit” of seeing the positive in negative, or simply ordinary, days.

Feeling grateful for not only the big things, but mostly the little things, is what transforms your attitude, your perspective, and your approach to life.  I am grateful for the rain because it makes my daughter so incredibly happy to jump in puddles when normally I would avoid being outside at all, I am grateful when I share a positive conversation in passing with someone I might normally not have talked to, I am grateful I was kept safe instead of being in a horrible accident that I witnessed, I am grateful for the barista that decided to give me a free drink for no reason, I am grateful for sitting here right now sharing my thoughts with all of you…

My birthday wish this year is for you to try it, at least for today, to reflect on your day so far and pinpoint one unique moment that made today different, a little better, a tiny bit more special.  What is something that made you smile, pleasantly surprised you, warmed your heart, helped you simply get through the day, or perhaps, made you laugh out loud today?

Today, I am grateful for YOU for taking the time to celebrate my birthday and reading my thoughts on this blog.  Thank you, I so appreciate you, and I hope you will be inspired to join “The Grateful Habit” in your own daily life.

Here are some of my favorite Grateful quotes that I would love to share with you:

*****

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

~ Melody Beattie

*****

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”

~ John Milton

*****

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”

~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

*****

“The greatest contribution we can make to the well being of those in our lives is to have peace in our own hearts.  When our hearts are filled with gratitude and our minds are brimming with enthusiasm, everyone we encounter leaves our space feeling a little lighter than when they entered it.”

~ David Simon

*****

“Gratitude goes beyond the ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift.  In the past, I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline.  The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”

~ Henri J. M. Nouwen