Posts Tagged 'Triathlon'

Look!

See that? Isn’t it pretty? And it’s mine, ALL MINE!!! Woo-Hoo!! The bike is a 2008 Trek 1.2 WSD, Trek’s entry level designed-for-a-female road bike. Yep, a real road bike, with skinny smooth tires and curlicue handlebars.

I’ve never had a road bike before, but I’ve wanted one for so long. I kept putting off purchasing one, because they are so expensive (yes, way more so than a mountain bike or a hybrid), but although I complained about the price, I was never closer to actually getting one. I finally realized that, in my head, I may never be able to justify the price, and if I really wanted one, I should just go get it and figure out how to pay for it later. So I did! And by the way, where is that economic stimulus payment already?

I’ve already been out on it a couple times, and I will go out today to, providing the rain holds off…I’m still a little afraid of those tiny tires! It feels so light and smooth and nearly effortless, compared with my old piece of junk hybrid. And because I bought it from a bike shop (as opposed to, say, Wally-World) there were experts to help me find the right fit. I tried a couple sizes and brands, and I could really notice a difference in the geometry. I get free adjustments and tune-ups for a year, and all the components have been tweaked to fit me.

I’m panning to use this bike to train for my big triathlon debut…you know…someday. And I’m planning to ride it to work. The trip is about seven miles, one way, but it has one big huge hill, that I don’t yet know if I can do. I plan to find that out this weekend, and if all goes well, I’ll be riding to work on Monday! I have two coworkers who also live in this town and are talking about riding to work throughout the summer, so that should be fun, and we’ll help keep each other motivated. I’m going to have some killer legs and a smokin’ behind (oh, yeah, I bought the shorts, too), and I won’t be buying so much gas for the station wagon.

I’m so excited!! See you on the road!

“Run Like an Animal”

“Take a look at any school playground, see anyone jogging?

Our guess is no. In fact, what you will see is running. Running to the swings. Running down the ice cream truck. Running to pick up a stick. But not jogging. That’s because the act of jogging is a learned behavior. You see, somewhere between being told not to run in the halls and not to run with scissors, running morphed into a cautionary activity that’s done at the speed of chit-chat. And real running became dangerous. So it should come as not surprise that the majority of people grew up to be joggers, while sadly only a few continue to run. Next time you lace up, take a cue from our tiny-tot brethren. Run like an animal.”
~ Pearl Izumi ad (Runner’s World Magazine. p 65, May 2008.)

I love the above quote! It hits on so many levels. I only remembered the “run like an animal” bit and was planning to blog about just running, but when I looked it up again to find the source, I realized that it says a lot about life too.

Running

I’ve never ever been fast. In middle school I was one of the kids who couldn’t run a full mile. I had to walk much of it at the back of the pack, complaining with the fat kids (no, I wasn’t a fat kid). By the time I got to high school I already had several patella dislocations under my belt. I favored the knee; I hated to run. I switched from offense to defense in field hockey so I wouldn’t be running as much, and I visited the school’s trainer everyday before practice to get my knee taped up to hold it together.

I’d say I average about two dislocations a year, and I can reset it myself, although I prefer to have someone nearby do it for me. One time in Montreal, two of my friendly neighborhood homeless guys set it for me. Following my first x-rays in high school, an orthopedic surgeon told me I would need a total knee replacement by the time I was thirty. Conventional wisdom, particularly from non-runners, says that running will only speed up the inevitable destruction of my natural knee.

I’m an active person, and over the years I learned that certain situations are particularly dangerous for dislocations, certain actions hurt one part, other actions hurt a different part, and some actions don’t hurt at all. Walking on ice really frightens me; when my heel slips inward and toes go outward, I dislocate my knee. The same thing can occur on on other slippery surfaces. I also dislocate my knee by bumping it on something, such as the corner of a coffee table. Hiking (which I love to do) downhill and stair-stepper machines (which I avoid) hurt in front, down low. Lateral movements (eg jumping jacks) and pivoting motions (eg side heel kick) hurt deep inside the knee. Tennis? Basketball? F’gettaboutit. Running on a straight, flat surface of any material? No pain. Ever.

I had another round of x-rays and saw a sports med doc the other day. It was my first appointment with this doctor, and my first visit to a specialist in several years (my crappy disaster-level health insurance kept me from taking care of ‘optional’ issues). I approached the situation as “I am an athlete not a criple. Please work within that context.” It was a good visit. He clearly explained things that are shown on the x-ray. For example the tendon that holds the patella to the lower part of the leg is normally only slightly longer than the height of the patella itself. Mine is much longer, so the knee cap goes slack and sits above its groove when my leg is completely extended. Every time I take a step, my knee cap has to find that groove. It is unlikely I have ever torn something (eg ACL), as my dislocations have been numerous and similar, but not severely traumatic. He also pointed out that my quads are different sizes; I’ve been subconsciously protecting my knee fro years, resulting in the other side doing more work.

The prescription? Long term…probably surgery (but not in five years). Short term…strengthen the quads. Running (not including marathon training) on roads will help me develop stronger quads, as will one-side-at-a-time weight lifting. The doctor actually liked my running gait better than my walking gait.

But I still have the speed issue. I will run races this summer, in part to work toward my someday goal of completing a triathlon. My gym has a 5K in May, which I think will be my first. There is also a 7.5 run/walk from landmark A to landmark B in June that interests me (perhaps because of the word walk in its title). I had originally been thinking I could do the 5K in 30 minutes (slightly better than a 10 minute mile… a snail’s pace for a 25 year old). But I want to do better than that. I plan to run like an animal.

Life

We are taught to live cautiously, and in doing so we lose the freedom of childhood. Life could be so much more exciting if only we could rid ourselves of our inhibitions and chase down the ice cream truck. Remember how much fun that was? A 9-5 existence is frigin’ boring! Why must we always think before we act? Can’t we ever just be or ‘just do it’ (another sneaker ad)?

I know I live cautiously, but I’m too afraid to do any differently. How do I let go and get in touch with my inner animal?

Girl Envy: A Catty Post

“But I’m insanely jealous of the people that you know
And I’m insanely jealous of the places that you go
And I’m insanely jealous of you
Yeah, I’m insanely jealous of you”

~Soft Boys (Insanely Jealous)

Every gym has one, and my little hick-ville gym is no exception. Just thinking about her makes you sneer. You know who I’m talking about: the Girl You’ll Never Be (GYNB). Or, for my male readers, the girl you’ll never get with, so please stop hitting on her already. It makes me ill.

At my gym, GYNB and I have some things in common: we both run on the treadmill; we both do lots of sit-ups; we are both about the same age and height; and we both have blonde hair. But that is where the similarities end. I’m the girl with the glasses and non-ear-bud headphones (I can’t make those things stay in!) and all that stuff on my head doesn’t like to stay put! GYNB looks like:

kw.jpg(Yes, her, but I will not name her or admit to watching that television show.)

GYNB’s blonde hair came straight out of a bottle of peroxide, while mine is a warm dark shade. Her tan is much too dark considering our latitude and the month (sadly, I’m pale year-round). Her skin tone is also a funny shade of orange, so I suppose that color came out of a bottle, too!

GYNB dresses in a matching outfit! Yes, matching, as in color-coordinated. For me, matching gym clothes is simply a matter of grabbing something comfy that doesn’t stink. She wears black spandex pants (ugh, *shudder*, spandex) with pink and white side stripes. Anyone else ever noticed how those side stripes call attention to the outer curve of the leg? So if one isn’t a size 2 or is somewhat knock-kneed, the thighs look massive? Not that this is GYNB’s problem, though. GYNB sneakers are pretty and pink and white. My sneakers are absolutely hideous – Asics must have been crazy to think that florescent green was a cool color, but I didn’t buy them for the look, I bought them for the feel. Her sports bra is also pink and white. Actually, I can’t complain about this too much, it has a really cool-looking cris-cross back. She tops off the attire with a black cami. Pink, black and white. Head to toe. I see GYNB at the gym frequently, and she is always dressed like this. Her clothes must stink!

Ok, so maybe I’m not too jealous of her skin, hair, and wardrobe choices. But I am jealous of GYNB’s workouts and the physique that resulted from such workouts. The other day I was shuffling along at my 10-minute mile pace on the treadmill and glanced over at hers. She had an incline at level 2.5 and a pace of 8.5 miles/hr. That is a seven minute mile uphill…a pace I will probably only ever dream of. I was bent over, huffing and puffing, while she maintained a good posture and relaxed breathing. I later noticed GYNB on the incline bench doing sit-ups with a very large dumbbell – certainly larger than anything I’ve ever picked up, and I don’t use extra weight for crunches.

I learned long ago that competitive sports weren’t really my gig; I simply do not have the must.kill.everything. drive necessary in a good athlete. I did team sports in high school, but without the same passion as my teammates. So what if I just liked to run around on the field and get to hang out with my friends? I also do not consider myself an ‘athlete’. I’m strong, yes, and I like to play, but a 10-minute mile is pretty darn good for me.

I am drawn to the sport of triathlon. To me, it seems an extreme measure of physical fitness. Similarly, I also hope to run a marathon someday. Or, dare I say it, an Ironman Tri (the final leg is a full marathon). But I digress. Baby steps, people! I had hoped this summer I would finally run a couple 5K’s, maybe a 10K and a sprint distance tri (typically a 500-750m swim, 20K bike, 5K run). I know I’ll never win, but it would be fantastic to say ‘I did it, I finished’.

Most individuals come to the sport of triathlon with a background in cycling or running. Training guides, coaches, and those more experienced than I, all say that the race is never won in the swim, but those who go out too hard will fail in later sections. I am a swimmer, first and foremost; the swim would be my best section, and things would go downhill from there. Hell, I don’t even own a bike! And I was hoping to use my tax refund to buy a bike (See here why this won’t happen). I also have crappy knees, so the clock is ticking to complete these goals. Oh, and my tendinitis has kept me out of the pool for almost two months.

So I’m off to the gym, now. Maybe someday I’ll show up at your gym, and you’ll sneer at the Girl You’ll Never Be.