Duathlon Journey: The Recap

It’s now 2 weeks out since I did my first multi sport race, the duathlon,  that I’ve been blabbing up for months to you.  I finally got my little paws on some of the pics they took while on course so I could use them when I wrote this.

You didn’t expect me to just use random stock photos off Google, did you ? 😛

Where do I start?

As I knew it would be, I felt the let down once it was over. The months of training, the days in front of me with my goal at the end, now finished.

Something to celebrate, right? A new adventure conquered, new challenges overcome, another athletic event that I never dreamed I’d do accomplished.

I guess I should mention I’ve had this race on my list for several years now. Due to an injury I was getting over at one point and other things that came up I had been unable to really pursue it.

All I wanted to do was get to a point where I could at least run the distance for the duathlon even if it meant my distance running might still be on hold for awhile.

As I slowly crept back into running, I was getting stronger and more powerful on the bike. I learned I was fairly good at it and could eat up a lot of miles in a quick time.

I knew this would be the year so when registration opened in June, I paid up and made the commitment.

My first duathlon was etched on my calendar.

As you know from previous posts, I was committed to my training, even training in weather that was less than ideal because on race day you never know what you will get. I gave up being a fair weather athlete a long time ago. I know if I’m going to build not just my body, but mind, I need to know how to handle more adverse conditions.

Of course there was more than just me involved in the event…let’s not forget… the bike.

I can’t neglect saying how grateful I am for a wonderful bike shop and the guys who keep my little Cannondale in top shape. 2 weeks out from race I picked it up looking almost all kinds of new again. Poor thing, I’d put some serious miles on it. Not only did they get new tires on it, and clean the chain ( ohhhh it IS silver haha) they checked my brakes, tweaked and adjusted some other things, and made sure my fit was perfect on it. I love being in a place “talking shop” with others who do what I do, and who challenge me to press on to bigger things.

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My bike rarely gets to ride shotgun 😉

 

With the bike in good working order, it was taper time whether I wanted it or not, a winding down to race day. I kept riding and short runs but the ultimate goal was to arrive at the start line healthy and energetic for the task in front of me.

Race Day

There are two things I think athletes worry about before a big event they’ve been training for.

Getting sick and the weather.

Thankfully, I was strong and healthy and the weather although a brisk low 40’s in the morning, was clear, bright and the sun soon showed up for the festivities.

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Waiting in the crisp, cold, beautiful morning with a ton of hyper energy pre-race

There’s something about being at a race with other athletes and this energy that’s almost palpable that makes my heart beat fast.

Although I’ve done many running races before this was my first multi sport event and my first biking event. I checked into the transition area, got marked ( I was sooo excited to finally do something where I got marked… but unfortunately it was under my shirt ha oh well) I got my gear set up and did some light jogging around parking lot to loosen up and set my mind for what was coming.

This event was the state Championship Duathlon and was hosted by a local college. Many college tri teams from across the state were there to race. I was surrounded by athletes the ages of my kids or younger 😛

This race is also listed as “the toughest in the state”.

They tell no lies about that… tough is an understatement.

I understood what was in front of me having trained on it, but I had a healthy fear and respect for it every time I stepped out there. To under estimate it would certainly sink me.

My plan for the race? Simple and straight forward.

To run and bike just like I’d trained and not get caught up in the hype and energy of the crowd but stay in my head and run my own race. I knew the first half mile- mile out was a brutal start as it’s all up a long and winding hill. I knew how I’d paced myself in practice and my goal was to stay there.

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Heading into the hills for the first run.. it was bit to chilly to toss clothes yet!

 

I settled into my first mile which was a little faster than I had been running it but that was ok. Then my Garmin came up at mile 2 telling me I’d just done it in 9:29 I was pretty happy with that. Overall, when I finished my 5k it was over a minute faster than the week before when I’d practiced and my fastest 5k in a long time.

Amazing what a competitive spirit will do haha

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Wrapping the 5k heading to the transition area.

 

Ok so this was all new to me, the whole multi sport, transitioning thing. It’s one thing to practice transition when you are alone ( I had it down to 30 seconds) it’s a whole new game when you’re surrounded by a zillion other bikes and athletes gear and come running in to change and find nothing is like you left it.

Yikes!

My first transition time was longer than I wanted mainly because I knew I had to lose the jacket and peel down to my cycling shorts. I perform way better a little chilled than warm and knew the bike was gonna demand a lot from me so I took a little extra time to do that.

Once on the bike, I knew I would close a gap because I’m strong on the hills. It should be noted we biked right back out where we had run, running up and down hills, then getting on the bike to ride them, ha hello quads.

One by one I methodically picked off cyclists in front of me, a game almost. I churned along knowing some of the toughest stuff was still coming, but also reminding myself I was more than capable and had done it before.

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AND a smile for the photographer.  Still smiling after cresting the monster hill that’s behind me

I had to really focus on what I was doing approaching the huge hill as I noted a half dozen cyclists pushing bikes up.

This seriously can mess with my head. I narrowed my vision and did what I had practiced when I rode it… I recited a nursery rhyme in my head…

“One, two buckle my shoe, three, four shut the door….”

Don’t ask.

It just popped in one day as I was grinding up and it became a game, how many times till I reached the top?  ( 2 “ish” times if you’re wondering haha)

But powered up it I did.

On the return trip I pushed hard knowing the last run leg was in front of me… so close to finishing.

The last run.

From practice I already knew how that felt. It’s hard. It’s not just the physical, it’s mental too. I have learned so much about dialing into my head and trying not to be distracted at what’s around me. As I made a turn where the aid station was the young people manning it were doing the usual “you’re doing awesome, almost done!” mantra. I quipped I had paid money to do this when I hear behind me… “yeah, but you’ve been kicking my butt the whole time!” I looked over my shoulder at this young college girl behind me, one I had sailed by on my bike, it was the motivation I needed to finish off that last half mile.

The Finish Line

When I saw the finish line I can’t describe the feelings and emotions that came over me. I saw my time and was pretty happy with that too.

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The home stretch, still smiling.. And yeah, I had lost more clothes 😛

 

I heard the announcer call my number and name as I ran across the finish  line and as the guy behind lines guided me where to go I felt it coming on… tears forming in my eyes… I took a deep breath willing myself not to sob out loud.

I did it. My first duathlon. I did it!  I was simply overcome with emotion.

He saw my face and bless his heart was immediately concerned. “are you ok? do you need anything?”

I assured him I was physically fine but just overwhelmed…. my emotions came out after all the months of training to finally be there in that moment… I just couldn’t hold them back.

As I left the finish area I found hubby and again, just sobbed on him. He too was immediately concerned, but he’s more used to my emotions at times like that than poor unsuspecting guy at finish line. And can I just say how much I appreciate all of his awesome support for what I do? An amazing guy he cheers and supports and encourages my madness. I couldn’t do what I do without him or his support.

Of course I went to the tent to use the laptop to pull up my bib number and get my stats. My time was pretty much what I’d seen when I hit the finish line, however it was another number that caught my attention and I choked out to hubby…

“Am I reading this right?? Does it mean what I think it means??”

I hadn’t really breathed out loud to anyone that it would be kinda awesome to place in my age group.. but this number told me I placed first in my age group.

More tears. Sweet heavens. I’m such a baby.

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Does my smile say it all? Nothing felt better that day.

 

Honestly… I can’t describe how it all felt.  To have accomplished something so big, to have challenged myself beyond what I thought I could do, was overwhelming and rewarding all at once.

The aftermath

I know the let down that comes from preparation of big events. It’s weird to not have this specific “thing” I’m training for. I also  get used to my body physically changing as it peaks into top condition ( a place I loath giving up) but I also know I can’t keep myself at this level all the time.  I loved marking off my training calendar each day as I knocked out what needed to be done and seeing those days move me closer to my goal.

It’s hard to come off the physical and mental high that events like this bring.

So the solution is??

Ha… plan my next adventure! 2018 is coming and I’m already planning the duathlon again as my fall event. I want a shot at getting a new PR.

I have a spring half marathon in mind as well as my first long ride, a 60 mile, ’cause why start small?

I haven’t ruled out someday …maybe… a triathlon… it seems HUGE to me right now but I’m also reminded what I just did would’ve seemed huge to me a few years ago but I did it.

If you’ve stayed with me to this point can I remind you that as the saying goes, you’re never to old set new goals or dream new dreams.

Set some new goals for yourself in 2018.

Or have you already? What plans do you have for yourself in the upcoming year? Tell me.

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Reflections From The Road

It’s a quiet afternoon in my fav coffee cave which is a bit unusual given the time of day but I’m not gonna complain about that. Sometimes, I wonder where all the people have come from and why they are taking up my space haha

It’s also another day in this long week that is nothing but grey skies and feels perpetually like morning…. all… day… long.

Sometimes it makes it hard to feel like doing anything more than grabbing a blanket, a good book and chilling somewhere.

Instead, I’m going to write and let my thoughts out if you’ll humor me. Writing is often cathartic for me and let’s me examine things more closely through words.

As in… thinking about my first multi sport race this upcoming Sunday. My first duathlon.

Did I mention it’s listed as the toughest in the state? Yeah I don’t start with easy things.

I’ve certainly spent a significant amount of time on the road preparing for it. So much time to think and reflect, to ponder this journey that I’ve taken myself on.

I view myself as somehow a most unlikely candidate to turn into a duathlete.

This journey has been over 2 years in the making. It’s been out there in front of me, sometimes taunting and sometimes a bit illusive as I’ve had to bide my time waiting for the right moment.

You see when I first got the crazy idea I was fully in the mix of an ugly Achilles injury that had me doing no running at all. It’s during this time that cycling came into the picture a bit more. I had thought the following year I’d be up to it but just had things working against me that kept me from fully pursuing it. I remember seeing the cyclist out that year during the race and feeling a bittersweet longing to be able to do what they were doing.

My goal, my wish, began to be “just let me get healthy enough to run the distance required for the duathlon”. which at the time was bookend 5k’s.

All I had to do was run 6.20 miles … in two parts.  Was that asking to much ?

I diligently rehabbed myself. Spent a lot of time strength training, learning to row to stay strong with my cardio ( for the record rowing to me has many similar feelings to running), and doing cycling. As I got better I took it back to the road for some strong walking. It just felt good to be out there going through the motions even if I couldn’t all out run yet.

Time moved on, I improved and was able to pick up some running again, albeit, cautiously .

This time… the duathlon seemed more feasible. I continued with slow. easy, short “runs”. I stretched, foam rolled, iced and did whatever I could to keep getting better.

When I saw the promotions start coming up for it this past May I knew it would be something I’d take on in this year.

In June I made the commitment and registered. And I say commitment ’cause when you cough up money to pay for an event, you’ve just invested yourself fully to it.

With that, my “official” training began.

I think back to those first brick sessions I did. ( fyi a brick session refers to back to back activities. For me it was a bike and run session. Eventually it turned into a run/bike/run sessions)

I did only 8-10 miles on the bike and then a 2 mile run. I remember getting off bike, changing shoes, and then taking off on legs that felt like loose spaghetti noodles.

It’s hard work changing gears from one activity to another!

I wondered how long it would take or if I would adapt to getting my body from cycling mode to running.

Months later, it’s definitely still work especially after running and cycling, then running again but I’ve found I’m stronger and have managed some decent mile times… you know… for an old lady 😛

And here I am. Months later with the race staring me down the face.

I’m as ready as I can be. I’ve worked hard and prepared to the best of my abilities. I’ve trained in horrible weather and good weather. Right now the forecast is for a chilly but sunny day and I couldn’t be more thrilled with that!

I’ve practiced riding those crazy hills. I remember the first time I took on one that I thought would eat my lunch, which then fed into a second hill immediately after.

 

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So this is the first one…. it doesn’t look so scary in this pic 😛

I cried when I topped the second one. I know. I’m such a girl.

Doing hard physical things and accomplishing them brings out strong emotions in me. Maybe it’s a relief that I could do it. Maybe it’s overcoming something I thought might be insurmountable.  Or once again realizing I’m stronger than I gave myself credit for.

Spend some time on the road making your body work hard, you begin to see what you’re made of. You begin to see how your mind and body can work together or against each other.

I’ve learned I can push a bit longer and farther. I can dial in and focus on that moment in front of me and set aside anything else so I can keep pressing on to my goal.  I’ve learned how to listen to my breathing, to keep it even and steady even when I’m working hard. I listen to my body but try not to let it convince me it wants to quit or back off because it’s getting uncomfortable. ( not injured or hurt, but out of my comfort zone, there’s a difference )

If there’s one thing endurance sports has taught me it’s about discipline, determination, perseverance, and sacrifice.

I’ve learned to deal with hot, warm, humid weather.

 

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Nothing like a good sweat to cleanse the soul haha

 

As well as those  mornings I’ve geared up and headed out into a cold, wet, rainy, or foggy misty morning to train.

Yeah. All I really wanted to do was stay in warm and dry. Yes I considered I might be crazy but there was a deeper thing in me that wouldn’t let me give in or back off from what I had committed to undertake.

If race day dialed up a cold, wet, foggy morning I better be able to handle myself in those conditions.

Of course months of training has leaned me out more, almost a side effect of all my training. I know it’s working when hubby tells me I feel to thin haha

I’ve peaked in my training and with that comes a physique that reflects my work, endurance to do my running and cycling, and improved times doing them.

There is a bittersweet aspect to this as well. I know there will be the inevitable “let down” when it is finished. The thing I’ve focused on will be done, my goal accomplished. It will be time to thing of new goals.  I know these feelings go along with the excitement and thrill of doing it.

Now.. it’s almost show time.

With days out I’ll focus on stretching, rolling, eating well, getting rest and of course making sure my gear is ready and I have the coolest clothes to wear 😉

Looking good helps your performance, right ?

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Sporting the new cold weather cycling jacket I got for the event.

 

One thing I always remind myself of before races… the world doesn’t stop spinning based on my performance. It somehow takes some of the hyper energy off me.

Oh. I didn’t mention that did I? All the hyper energy and edginess counting down to it.. the “taper week”. That energy continues to build till I’m standing on the start line.

As much as I want to do the very best I’m capable of, the fact remains, when I cross that finish line, I’m a winner.

I win because I set out goals and dreams for myself and I worked hard and pursued them and I won’t go through life wondering “if” I could do it.

And nothing will feel better than that.

The Lessons Of Discouragement

It’s a quiet Friday afternoon and I’m taking some time to work on this post which you, my faithful 1.5 readers, will be seeing Monday morning when you open your eyes and are tripping over the dog on your way to get  the lovely black gold we call coffee.

The day just cannot start without the stuff, can it? Oh let’s be real, the whole day is fair game for coffee. 😉

I’m much cleaner now than I was a few hours ago, sweaty and salt crusted from my time out on the road doing my brick training this morning ( bike/run)

Clean AND fed. It’s a good place to be.

Oh and coffee. Yes I have that too so I’m ready to get on with todays topic now….

As I’ve shared in previous posts I’ve taken on the lofty athletic goal this year of a duathlon ( a run/bike/run event) Some of my training days involve brick work because well how else am I going to make my body do that stuff on race day?

I’m going to share a few thoughts? A life reflection? learned on the road today. Perhaps you’ll relate or maybe at best and hopefully, it might encourage you.

It goes without saying  based on where I live, that my training during the summer will be hot. Not just hot, but hot and humid. I’ve been on the road at 6:30 a.m. and still manage to be a sweat fest. So pretty much no matter the time I can simply know the workouts will be hot and sweaty.

I’m ok with that, really. Fortunately, I’m pretty well acclimated to it. However, even in that condition some days are just flat out harder than others.

As I geared up to hit the road this morning there were a few things already going on with me. The biggest being,  half my head felt like it had cotton balls in it from some sinus stuff that came out of nowhere. Add to that, all that junk going into my stomach ( gross. sorry. it is) but it does a good job making me feel queasy. Add to that, the little food I had eaten pre workout had settled like a rock in my belly.

Even with that…

I got my gear on, grabbed the bike, and took off. It always amazes me at how things seem to fade away as soon as I clip in and take that first stroke hitting the road. I let the bike settle in under me and let my body get into the rhythm of the ride.

As the miles unfolded both the day and I were getting hot. I did 25.25 miles on this ride. Not flat roads but also with lots of big hills thrown in. Most of my ride is on the actual duathlon course.

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Somewhere out on the course….

 

 

I wrapped the ride, landed where my car was parked, quickly put my bike in, changed to my running shoes and was back on the road a few minutes later.

My legs have adapted well to the change from bike to run but it still takes a little time to let them settle into a new activity…especially after coming off a long hard ride.

My run is only 2 miles with more hills… but have mercy… when I’m already hot from the ride and the sun is beating down…. all I want to do is move quickly to get back.

I sometimes wish I had some shirt on that passing cars saw that said something like…

“Be nice to me I just crawled off my bike and now I’m running”

But I did it, (even if my GPS for some reason decided on my last mile to not pick  up parts of it even though I knew the exact distance) I Knocked out the run and as always that great sense of satisfaction from doing both of those activities settled over me.

Tired. Sweaty. Thirsty. And appreciative of my body for what it could do.

As I cool down one of the things I do is check my stats from my ride and run. Strava is great to track all of my athletic activities as well as the fact it lets me see what others do and how I stack up against them on those routes.

It’s like that proverbial carrot dangling in front of me 😉

As my numbers came up, I was admittedly, a little frustrated. My frustration as it does when I’m upset, can turn to tears. Where my segments certainly weren’t “bad”, I had no new PR’s.

I should say, the last time I did all of the course, I had multiple PR’s. Having no new ones  sorta fueled my fire of frustration.

Although I knew I hadn’t been a 100% physically on top of my game, and that the heat also affected me, I was still frustrated to have not done better.

I probably should interject here… I’m a wee bit competitive with myself …and have high expectations whenever I step into any of my athletic activities.

I sat on the warm pavement next to my vehicle,  looking at those numbers, clutching my recovery drink and choking back those hot tears.

What was it going to take? How long did I have to work and push to get over that next hurdle of being a little stronger, and  faster?

I questioned being out that morning and maybe I should’ve just stayed in or done something a bit less physically demanding.

I looked at some numbers with only seconds separating me from the times I had been previously. I never thought much about “seconds” but I’ll tell you, in the athletic world, they count for a lot. One second can drop you into a new category or move you into first place from second.

They matter a lot.

As I felt that weight ( and I’m sure being wrung out and hot from everything didn’t help my mood) settle over me the more sane part of my brain began to speak to me…..

The fact alone I had just ridden over 25 miles and then run 2 was an accomplishment not many kick started their day with! Regards of my ideals for my times, I had still done it.

The training counted and it mattered that I was out there.. even if I didn’t think ( in my mind) that it was one of my best workouts.

I realized that my stubbornness and grit to be on the road was an asset that served me well in the rest of my daily life.

Life takes a certain level of stubbornness and grit to get through.

I hadn’t quit.

We’ve all been there, right? Something seems tough. There’s something we know is going to require a lot from us and it seems easier to find a reason to not do it. Quitting seems like an easy way out.

You’re nodding your head… you’ve been in the same boat too…

But that’s when you dig deep, sometimes really deep, and pull out all you’ve got to do what needs to be done.

Making an excuse to not be out there would’ve made me feel worse than not doing it. I never finish a workout that I haven’t been happy for doing it.

Even if my times weren’t as impressive as previously.

That’s when it hit me.

How far I’ve come.

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How much progress I’ve made. The changes I’ve gone through. The strength and speed I have gained.

What I’ve learned through the process.

Each step moves me towards my goal and those steps are made up of good and sometimes not so good moments. But they all are leading to my goal.

I learn more about what I’m made of when I have to work harder or push myself out of my comfort zone.

The lesson for you.

I’m thinking as you’re sitting there reading this, sipping from your now tepid cup of coffee, that you may have been or be in a similar place.

You are pursuing a goal, working towards something important, have a new vision.

Discouragement, weariness, self doubt, feelings of inadequacy, questioning your sanity… all of those things might creep in on you.

It’s in those times my friend, that we learn more of what we’re made of. If we’re strong, we push back and reset our focus and continue our forward movement. If we don’t feel so strong, new strength can be born in us, giving us more confidence in our abilities.

It’s a time of growth and change… if we allow it to be.

Don’t give up and don’t give in even if you get discouraged.

And me? How am I ?

After those truths settled over me, I wiped off my sweaty, salty face and made my way home to shower and plot my next training session.

Are you doing something now that sometimes frustrates you? Do you get discouraged when you feel like you haven’t done your best? How do you handle it ? Have you learned lessons out on the road ?

 

 

 

The Accidental Cyclist

It came up again in casual conversation as it almost always does….

“So, when did you start cycling? I guess you’ve been at it awhile?”  ( you can also interchange “running” as well with these questions)

Ok, I’ll admit I love the opportunity to share sports I’m passionate about especially if it encourages someone to want to get out and try it. It’s obviously  fun for me when the person is involved in whatever activity  and we can “talk shop”.  I use those times to pick brains and learn more from someone who might have more experience in the field than I do.

So when the question came up I shared  I had only gotten my “real” racing bike a year ago but there was a catalyst that propelled me to that because before then I felt like…

A Wanna Be Biker Chick

I usually back up to the fact that running is my passion, and as passions go I had thrown myself whole  heartedly into my love and also picked up an injury that had majorly side lined me from my passion. (Heavy training for a marathon, straight into a 50k… but it was so worth it)

I had a bike, a cheap little mountain bike, that I used for cross training days when I’d give my legs a break from running. There were honestly weeks that went by I didn’t see the bike. I loved running. I didn’t consider myself a cyclist. I was a runner.

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My mountain bike that would start it all…

 

I was at Walmart one day and realized they had cheap little “road” bikes for sale.

Ahhhh perfect I thought. This will get me moving more on the bike and I can maybe start training for “something”.

A road bike was, for me, an upgrade from a mountain bike.  I still did not see myself as more than a casual bike rider. But none the less, I started packing some miles on it. About my only nod to looking like a cyclist was wearing a helmet ( for heavens sake…always…wear a helmet no matter what)

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See. I told you. Nothing but running gear, a helmet, and my trusty road bike from Walmart.

 

I’d see “real” cyclists flying down the road in their sleek clothes, bright helmets, feet clipped into pedals, on bikes that were the price of a good used car and think those are REAL cyclists….

I still felt like a wanna be biker chick.

I took my trusty new road bike to a local shop in town for a “tune up” before I started pushing more miles on it.

The tune up cost me what the bike did.  Seriously.

By that time I had been logging some real miles, using it as a substitute to fill my craving for all the  miles I wasn’t getting on the road running. I was already entertaining the very lofty goal of the duathlon if my feet would just heal up already.

I shared this tidbit with Mr. Knowledgeable Bike Shop Man … he nicely said..” I don’t think this bike is going to work for what you’re wanting to do.”  He then of course started showing me nice pricey little bikes he had available and I just thought he was trying to upsell me and make some money.

Ah. Little did I know.

A year rolls by…..

I had been seriously abusing my little bike. I was logging anywhere from 45-55 miles a week on it. I was getting hooked. I still had my duathlon dreams lurking in the back of my mind and the bike gave me the adrenaline of miles without beating my body up.

As things happen in life I came across a nicer road bike for re-sale. I had taken it in to another bike shop to have them look at it and to see if it would fit me (when you have a long body and long legs you gotta consider these things!)

Of course, the bike was to small for me.

As luck would have it, he had a bike that would fit me perfectly. He wheels out this bright, shiny red  Cannondale that looked like the equivalent of a sports car to me. With a few tweaks and adjustments he hands it over to me telling me to “take it out for a spin”.

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So pretty… just waiting for miles….

 

I am hardly dressed to ride that day in slim fitting black pants and combat boots but he didn’t have to tell me twice. It only took minutes in the saddle to feel the difference and know this was a game changer.

This would help me get to my goals.

As I came zipping back in feeling like a kid with my hair flying everywhere ( the only time I rode without a helmet) I knew I had to have that bike.

Yet still nagging in the back of my mind… you aren’t reallllyyy a cyclist….

The bike was on sale. He had a limited number. I left that day and basically started selling random possessions no longer needed and squirreling that money away. Within a month I had not only the money for the bike, but also for cycling shoes ’cause I was doing it all.

I was getting the racing bike and shoes to clip in.. geez I thought running shoes were expensive!

As luck would have it, when I got to the bike shop he had one left. He has told me over and over how glad he is I got it, that it was still there for me.

He (still) tells anyone in the shop when I’m in… “DUDE! She was riding 50ish miles a week on a Walmart bike!”

To which I get looks that you would receive if you said you had just hiked the Himelaya mountains… one does not simply ride that many miles on a Walmart bike.  I have sense learned… things fall apart on them at the most inopportune times… like when my handle bars started turning every which way but loose and I had like 5 miles to keep riding back trying to hold them in place. Good times. They are designed for spins around the neighborhood with your kids but not beating the life out of them 25+ miles at a time.

Maybe I am a cyclist…...

Hanging out in a bike shop talking with like minded people who don’t think you’re crazy, who are ridiculously smart on the topic, and push you to your athletic goals is a cool thing. I realized that they completely considered me one and were willing to help and teach me things ( as in learning to change a tire)  I was in recently talking about my training and he referred to me as a duathlete and I looked around thinking he meant someone else.

I told hubby later and he was like… “uh… you ARE a duathlete.”

 

We just celebrated our one year anniversary together.

No. Not me and the hubby, me and the Cannondale that is. I’ve put over 1500 miles on it which compared to some riders, isn’t a lot, but for me it represents lots of training miles, lots of discipline and learning new things. I’ve become stronger and more confident in what I’m doing. I take it in frequently for it’s free tune ups and to talk bike stuff with people who still know more than me. Since I have (officially) signed up for my first duathlon which is in November, I have a team at the shop that will make sure my bike is in top condition for the event. That’s kinda cool, I think.

So I’ve been burning up the road. A wounded runner turned cyclist…turned duathlete…maybe I really am one now….

But I’m more of a rebellious, nonconforming cyclist……

First, I break all cycling rules by acknowledging another cyclist who’s sailing by me. I mean… we are passing each other… can’t miss one another… but I’m always blown away at how many seemingly look right through me. Runners are so different on this score… in the cycling world I think it’s some unwritten law to not acknowledge each other…

I do have more gear now. The helmet of course. I just got a cool new Giro a few months ago. Of course I have their cycling shoes as well and even though learning to clip and unclip and all that goes with it was a learning process, it definitely helps deliver a lot more power on the bike. Now I can’t imagine not riding clipped in.  A lot different than riding in my running shoes from a year ago!

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Ok, maybe I do get a little excited over new gear 😉

 

But you will most likely find me on these warm days in nothing more than my sports bra and my running shorts. Yeah, my running shorts. I do have cycling shorts but training for a duathlon and having to run, I find my running shorts work better. So I’m training like I will race. Although, November is gonna come around and change things up 😉

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A lesser known thing about cycling, learning to perfect your selfie skills on the bike 😉

 

Cycling can get crazy expensive so I invested into the stuff that matters ( a good bike, shoes, helmet) and I fly on the cheap with the rest of it. I love some of the cute cycling kits available but prices on them are crazy so… until I get a sponsor for my fav’s … I’ll keep trolling Ebay for cute ones with good deals 😉

I am a cyclist.

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Cycling girl. And in my most recent acquisition from Ebay. How cute is this jersey??

 

 

The “wanna be biker chick” idea left a long time ago.

Even if I accidentally stumbled into the world of cycling, I’m here. I’m in it. I’ve found another sport I actually enjoy and it turns out, I’m pretty good at.

As the guys at the bike shop tell me “You wanna be better? You spend more time on the road. You ride. You push yourself. You learn.”

So I continue the journey, on foot and bike. constantly grateful for the opportunity to do both and excited to see where I can go from here.

With open roads, the challenges are unlimited.

Tell me, have you accidentally stumbled into something only to find a new passion?

Conquering Your Mountains

Conquer: to successfully overcome, to climb ( a mountain successfully).

I had just returned recently from one of my long rides out on the bike when I got a message from my daughter in law. Actually, it was a photo of my new granddaughter, wrapped snuggly in a towel after her bath.

Her big eyes wide open and alert, her tiny nose peeking through, she looked quite content and comfy.

After responding with the usual… ” eek I love her, she’s so cute”… I tell her that’s what I need…

A shower.

I’m in desperate need of it as I’m now sweat dried and dirty from the road.  I told her I had finished up 32 miles to which I get this response…

“you crazy woman!” ( this is a high compliment indeed haha)

It was followed by… “I’m so proud of you for conquering the bike while you can’t run!”

I really don’t think she knew how much those words meant to me.

I had certainly been on a bike in the previous year, but it was a cheap little bike I had picked up from the local Wal-mart and certainly not designed for the things I had been doing to it. I thought the  guy at the first bike shop I went to was simply trying to sell me something pricier when I told him what my riding goals were. I was kind of ( ignorant) to some aspects of cycling at that time… now I know…

I should’ve caught on when during a longer ride the handlebars had come loose and I had to physically manhandle them into place to finish the last 5 miles of my ride.

Cheap bikes aren’t meant to have the life ridden out of them 😛

It was June of this year when I got my first, real, professional road bike. A hot little black and red Cannondale. I found another bike shop where the guys there have taken me in and taught me essential things, and also challenged me on another level as well. It’s also kinda cool to have a place to land where you can talk about your athletic goals and they listen, offer encouragement and suggestions.

So, since June, I’ve been out on the road a lot more. I’ve added more miles, and learned to not be intimidated by crazy monster hills that make me think they’re gonna eat my lunch.

I’ve sharpened my mental muscle a lot more…and I thought it was pretty tough from all that marathon training…but like any muscle…. there’s always room for growth.

Cycling is work. Often hard and demanding work.  You learn to enjoy the downhill moments ’cause you know more hard stuff is coming at you.

Not only that, there is learning about your bike, all that shifting stuff (gah) and also learning how to push yourself more. It’s easy to sometimes stay in your comfort zone, it takes work to get out of it.

So I thought about that whole “conquering the bike” thing.

Being an endurance runner, I will admit, the move to cycling was rather seamless for me. I already had a lot of strength and discipline from distance running so physically it fit me well.

 But It’s not just that…it was learning to conquer:

perceived limitations, my assessment of my abilities, getting out of (yet) another comfort zone, mountains, hills, and more mountains to take on, conquering the mechanics of the bike and riding in a different way,  conquering self-doubt when the next step seems to taunt me that (what if) I don’t have what it takes? It’s also new skills and having an open mind to be taught and learn.

Conquering a new sport when running has been my “baby” for the past couple years.  Hey, at this point, why settle for one sport ? 😛

So I reflected on those simple words she spoke to me and soaked them in… they have come during rides to remind me what I’m capable of, what I’ve learned, and more importantly how I’ve grown and learned.

I’m not done yet. I have so much room to grow, learn, get stronger and better and what I’m doing. But I am confident, I will continue to conquer it.

So I’ll leave these words with you, my faithful readers.

What have you conquered? What seems bigger than you and you find yourself digging deeper to overcome and conquer something you previously didn’t think you could do ? It’s in the journey that we learn and grow but if we are strong and persevere we find we have everything we need in us to conquer and overcome, no matter what it is.

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On top of one of the mountains that challenge me 🙂

So I May Be A Cyclist

How did it happen?  How did I go from nothing… to walking… to lifting some weights and other heavy objects… to running… and then landing on a bike? And then… alternating doing it all?

Like… one sport isn’t enough ??

Evidently not.

I may be a bit of an overachiever. Or at least I have some bigger aspirations to see myself do more than I may have originally thought.

Ok.. so the cycling thing.

I’ve kinda just fallen into it almost by default. I’ve shared before I had gotten a cheapy mountain bike to use for cross training on days I might not run.

There were weeks the bike sat doing nothing. I was happy in my little running world.

Then I’d zip off for 7-10 miles and that would be that.

Until… a stupid injury entered the picture and sidelined the running ( it is still there… cycling doesn’t seem to make it any worse or hurt me… running stirs it up again…sooo… yeah enough on that nagging topic)

So the injury put me on the bike more. It gave me freedom, the miles I craved, the ability to still do some endurance work and more speed than my legs on land could generate.

Fast forward through two cheap bikes till I got my first “real” road bike 2 months ago.

She’s so pretty and we’ve become amazing friends.

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Hello new Cannondale

 

Like all new relationships, we took some time to get to know one another. So for a week I kept mileage short and just got the overall feel of my new wheels under me.

After that, the fun and games began.

Miles started getting longer. I started to take bigger hills. Pushing myself faster. Loving the challenges of working hard. Really loving flying off hills pushing the speed limit 😉

Sweat flying, heart beating strong, legs working… the thrill of feeling my body respond to what I’m doing.. watching the world fly by… powered by only… by.. me.

I’m learning all the strength I’ve built on the road running and all the indoor strength training is having big payoffs on the bike. I think with more training I’m going to be kind of beast like with this cycling thing.

Once you get the bike.. and then the bug gets you… you start doing stuff like this….

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You start buying gear……

 

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And doing crazy things like this….

 

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and this…..     

 

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Sometimes you feel like this after…               

 

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Or look like this….

 

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and at the end, you learn to appreciate Gatorade, even if I do think it still tastes like sweat.
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Then at the end…. you get to see your accomplishments 🙂

 

 

So yeah, I’m not sure, but I think the cycling bug has bitten me and I can hardly wait to see where my lovely new Cannondale and I will go together .

Tell me… is there a sport or activity you are passionate about ?

The Athlete’s Heart

athletes heart

 

The heart. It’s pretty standard equipment in all human bodies. This amazing organ tucked inside your body pumping blood to all your cells and organs has been beating since your mother was only four weeks pregnant.  Did you know that ??

As I’ve gotten more athletic it’s become more important to me to understand things like my heart rate, my training heart rate, and my resting heart rate.

This incredible organ we must remember, is a muscle and it needs trained and conditioned just like the muscles we can visibly see if we flex our arms. Perhaps conditioning it is at the TOP of the importance list.

The best way to exercise your heart is by doing cardio exercises ( stuff that makes you breath hard and sweat. This is what most people don’t enjoy doing because this is when they realize they are “really” out of shape)

Ok that being said, I mentioned in a post a week or two back that I had gotten the new Garmin Vivoactive HR  which has a heart rate monitor built into the watch and I can literally track my heart rate in normal day activities, training times, and when I’m at rest.

I’ve been fascinated with the fact that endurance athletes begin to develop lower resting heart rates from all of the physical training they go through… it’s that cardio stuff again 😉

I will try and not get to complicated on terms and what not but….

the interesting cause of an endurance athlete having lower resting heart rates than the general population is basically how the heart adapts and basically enlarges due to the training the body undergoes.  Heart rhythms for which the elderly require pacemakers are normal in the trained athlete. This slowed heart beat is a condition called  sinus bradycardia.

Athlete’s heart most often does not have any physical symptoms, although an indicator would be a consistently low resting heart rate. Athletes with AHS often do not realize they have the condition unless they undergo specific medical tests, because athlete’s heart is a normal, physiological adaptation of the body to the stresses of physical conditioning and aerobic exercise.

Athletes tend to have lower resting heart rates because training programs that build speed, fitness, muscle and endurance also train your heart muscles to pump a higher volume of blood with each heartbeat. Ultimately, it takes fewer heartbeats to power a well-conditioned athlete during intense training as well as during rest.

During intense exercise, the hearts of highly trained athletes pump as much as twice the volume of blood as the hearts of untrained people.

While the normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, conditioned athletes and other highly fit individuals might have normal resting heart rates of 40 to 60 beats per minute. This indicates a high level of cardiovascular fitness.

This is where I’ve found having my heart monitor on my new watch to be rather fascinating. In the month I’ve had it, it has tracked my heart rate in daily activities, during my workouts, and my resting heart rate.  Maybe I’m a little nerdy but I kinda like all those stats 😉

Thus far, my resting heart rate seems to land in the high 40’s to low -mid 50’s. Although I’ve had a few nights were my numbers were 38 and 34! My rate in my normal activities stays in the 60-70’s.   Needless to say, I’m in triple digits in heavy workouts 😛

This again is proof and reminds me that my heart is a muscle that needs worked, trained and challenged to stay strong and not have to work as hard because it’s “in shape” too. It also gives me an idea of my fitness level.

My husband has been in the cardiology field for many years now. So of course, you know, I’ve asked him questions and bugged him about this. When I feed him my numbers his usual response to me is… ” you have an athletes heart”. He tells me if we saw a ” normal” person with some of those numbers we would be looking to see why they had them ( as in, it would indicate possible heart problems)

There are some non athletic individuals who might naturally have a low heart rate that can simply be a product of genetics.

Others, if there is a consistent low heart rate might indicate possible problems and should be evaluated by a cardiologist.

So bottom line, your heart is not only amazing in that it pumps blood, non-stop, your entire life, it has the ability to grow, get stronger and change to work more efficiently while neatly conserving energy.

Even if you have no plans to become an endurance athlete, your heart still needs good doses of cardio too! Make sure you’re getting it at least 5 days a week, 30 minutes a day.

And I’ll close this with a few fun facts about your heart you might not know….

A kitchen faucet would have to be turned on all the way for at least 45 years to equal the amount of blood pumped in an average lifetime.

The “thump-thump” of a heartbeat is the sound made by the four valves closing.

And finally, if you need any more encouragement about heart care consider this…

the heart does the most physical work of any muscle during a lifetime. The power output of the heart ranges from 1-5 watts. While the quadriceps can produce 100 watts for a few minutes, an out put of 1 watt for 80 years is equal to 2.5 gigajoules.

 

Are you an endurance athlete? Have you seen your resting heart rate change?

If you don’t work out, do you find cardio work challenging? Do you understand the need to train our heart as much as  the outer muscles we can see?