Monday, June 25, 2012

I Tried a Tri!

As I've mentioned, I've been in a diet and exercise slump. In the 6 weeks since that post, I've gained even more, so that today I weighed in at 17 pounds heavier than my lowest around Halloween. I trained pretty hard for the 3M Half Marathon in January because I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to finish if I didn't, but once I finished the half (as we runners like to say), I started having a really hard time getting myself to run or to keep running. It was too easy to quit in the middle of a workout, telling myself I'd do a longer workout tomorrow, and even easier to skip it altogether, also in favor of that good workout tomorrow. But of course, tomorrow never comes.

Along with low workout motivation comes low diet motivation, eating more and worse foods and drinking more, and more often. And low diet motivation makes it harder to get up and run in the morning because I'm poorly nourished and under hydrated.

So it went, and I couldn't seem to break out of it.

Then I saw a cheap, small, local triathlon advertised. I'd said to some of my running friends when we were standing around chatting before or after the various 5Ks and 10Ks that I wanted to try a triathlon some time, but they were all so expensive. This one was anything but expensive, so it seemed to me that I all but had to sign up. So I did, with about 3 weeks to train for it.

But I didn't. My malaise lingered on, and I ran only once a week for those 3 weeks. Finally, 3 days before the event, I decided I really ought to test my assumption that swimming 17 laps in the pool for the first leg of the event wouldn't be so tough, and I gave it a try. I made it 10 laps before laboriously hauling myself out of the pool and sitting and shaking for about half an hour. It struck me hard that this "sprint triathlon" was going to be considerably tougher than I had anticipated.

The next day, I returned to the pool, adjusted my pace and stuck to breast stroke instead of crawl. I made it 18 laps that time, and shook less when I got out. I thought, "OK, maybe I'm not going to drown after all."

The race was fun. It was small, with about 30 participants, many of whom looked like they were in worse physical condition than I. The swimming (425 meters) was fine, and the biking (12 miles) was fine, but the part that I thought would be a piece of cake (a 3-mile run) was the hardest of all. When I got off the bike and tried to run, my legs nearly gave out beneath me. I had to walk for a minute or so until I could start to jog again. My left calf cramped up. So did my right thigh and my right side, and I've never had cramping problems when I run. That three miles stretched on forever, and I had to stop and walk several times.

Finally, the finish line loomed ahead. I heard footsteps coming up behind me, and the race staff at the finish line started yelling, "Come on, she's going to pass you! Strong finish!" So I poured on the gas for a neck-and-neck photo finish with the runner coming up behind me. As soon as I started to sprint, I heard her chuckle. She had every reason to. The women had started 20 minutes after the men, so she still had a time 20 minutes faster than mine, but it felt great to "win by a nose!"

It was fun. I beat my time goal by several minutes, and I had that same wonderful "I can't believe I actually finished!" feeling that I had after the half. A friend who also ran the triathlon with me (she's run several before) said that she was going to run the TriRock in September. She's running the "Olympic distance" for the first time. She encouraged me to sign up. I'm going to do the sprint triathlon, which is still longer than the one I did this weekend. It's 700 m/16.7 mi/3.1 mi (compared to the 425 m/12 mi/3 mi I just did and compared to the 1500 m/24.8 mi/6.2 mi on her "Olympic distance.").

I hope that step up in distance over what I've already done will give me the same motivation that I got from the half, the fear that if I don't train hard enough, I won't be able to finish. And having swimming and biking to rotate with my running workouts will help alleviate the burnout I've been feeling from running in place or running in circles. It's only been one day, but so far, I've met all of my diet and exercise goals that I've set for myself this week. We'll see if it lasts, but I'm feeling more excited about losing that 17 pounds and getting back to progressing instead of regressing.

Anyway. Sorry that was a long post, and it didn't include even one cute story about a preschooler, but hopefully moving on from this malaise of mine will see me back here more often, writing more words.

1 comment:

anne said...

wooo hooo good for yoooo! great work! i did a sprint tri once - 15 years ago - details are on my blog. congrats on finishing - excellent accomplishment!

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