Sunday, August 28, 2005

First Race

If you are interested in triathlons and have never done one, you can be in shape, even if you've been a couch potato for many years, in less than six months. Of course, I'm not talking about an Ironman or even half Ironman, but start with a sprint distance or an easy Olympic distance.

So I started with the Salem Springs Sprint triathlon in Salem, Utah (about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City). Terrific triathlon to start with! The night before the race, they had a "beginner's" meeting, where Dave Probst (I think that's who it was), a local triathlon coach, gave an hours worth of great stuff for free. The biggest advantage I could offer anyone that he shared with us from the meeting is to not let your first open-water swim be the race itself. Luckily, I had experienced my first open-water swim in Utah Lake two nights previous to the race. He is so right. An open-water swim is sooo much different than swimming laps at a pool. It's scary and hard. You seem to move much slower, and at times I was wondering if I was moving at all. But you do get used to it, and quicker than you'd think.

Salem Springs is a mountain-water runoff stream, so the temprature hovers around 63 degrees. Wetsuits are mandatory. I bought a $240 wetsuit from the Orem Swim, Bike, Run shop, a great purchase since I plan on competing in triathlons for years to come. My husband is well versed in the biking world, having worked at a bike shop during his undergrad years, so he hooked me up with a sweet Lemond road bike for just over $700. So there was a lot of money to fork out for this, but well worth it if it keeps me motivated to stick with it for years to come.

The swim had a slight current. The bike course was flat and fast, and the run followed much the same path as the swim. My goal was to come in under 1 hour 30 minutes. I finished in 1 hour 29 minutes. I was estatic! I had a smile on my face from start to finish. I just had a great time, which probably sounds weird to those who don't like to run or compete in events, but I seriously loved it.

Getting into shape

So March came, and even though I wasn't sure if I was ready to compete in a triathlon (nor was I sure I would ever be ready) I made the leap of faith to plunk down $60 and signed up for two triathlons: the Salem Springs Sprint Triathlon in June and the Burley Lions Spudman Olympic-size Triathlon in July.

My training consisted of going to the gym every other day and doing two workouts totalling no more than 1 1/2 hours (because that's as long as I'm allowed to leave my kids at the Gold's Gym daycare without paying more. Plus, my kids could only handle being there for about that long.) So the 1 1/2 hours also included transition time. So I would bike for 40 minutes, then run for 35-40 minutes; then the next workout would consist of 30 minute swim and 35-40 minute run. I'd interchange those three times a week, than on Saturday, I'd try to double all my efforts by biking or swimming for an hour and running for an hour early in the morning when my husband didn't have to get up early to go to work.

Since my brother is a workout nut and loves traithlons, I also sought his input. He, of course, thought I should be working out more. But I'm a mother of two, for crying out loud. Wasn't gonna happen. I had to be content with my workouts as they were.

My biking speed was fairly slow, and it was on a bike machine, which does not a real road ride make, as those in the know, know. I went about 13-15 miles per hour. My running started at 6.0 mph and increased to between 7 and 8 mph. My swimming speed stayed fairly steady, taking me about 40 minutes to swim a mile. I found that my favorite was the swimming. What a rush! The feel of the water, the way my muscles felt strong after 20 laps, the joy of floating and realizing that for humans, swimming is what I imagine it would feel like if we were able to fly. Glorious.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Warm-up and Introductions

The triathlon season is over for me, but perhaps it's good to reflect on what I have accomplished and set goals for next season.

It started in December '04 when my weight had reached nearly 170 pounds, more than 40 pounds from my low weight and at least 25 pounds over my goal weight. Enough was enough. So I chose the Christmas season to challenge myself to lose weight. For some reason, the challenge of losing weight during the pie hoovering season seemed like a great idea. My thinking: If I can lose weight now, I can keep the lifestyle change throughout the year. I started by reading a few chapters of the Dr. Phil Weightloss Challenge book. I got bored with the book, but continued with the weight loss.

I started with running. Running is my fall back. It's the thing I do. I know how to run. I started by running 30 minutes five times a week. My husband and I re-enlisted in our Gold's Gym membership pass, only this time we added the daycare option. I tried getting up early in the morning to work out, but then I lost my motivation, so rather than beating myself internally for not getting up early to exercise, I took my two girls (ages 2 and 1) to Gold's Gym for an hour in the afternoon while I worked out. Since I was an athlete in high school, I thought I'd choose the hour between 3 and 4 p.m., just like after school sports, to run on the Gold's Gym treadmill. It also gave me the added benefit of being able to watch Dr. Phil with my headphones on.

Around late February I started thinking about triathlons. I have a brother who does triathlons and loves them. Could I love them too? I'd run a marathon four years prior, and I knew I didn't love them.

Short break while I get my girls some breakfast.