Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May is MINE

Wanna make a change? Prepare to be uncomfortable.

Back at the beginning of the year, I made a plan to participate in one race a month in 2013. Each would build on the last in distance, knowledge and/or intensity.

But April was weird. First, I couldn't find a race I wanted to do. I eventually decided on the Thanksgiving Point Kids 1 Mile Fun Run for Bridgette. Which of course was awesome. (See last post.)

It's a good thing that's the only race I paid for because, second, April was rough.

Two separate injuries and two separate illnesses pretty much usurped the whole month. My training took a big hit. Not only was I not progressing, I was regressing -- becoming weaker and less able.

Made me want to quit the process. It's been difficult, working hard for something harder. It's frustrating to move backwards and have to make up ground.

Do you know what it feels like to have all that carefully, laboriously cultivated endurance eroded faster than the footings of a sandcastle at high tide? Some of you do.

I decided that with April ripped off the calendar, my current battlecry is "May is mine!"

So here's what I've done.

Signed up for two races and hired a trainer.

Her name is Keena.

Coach Keena

Keena has an impressive record, not only of participating in lots of triathlons but also . . . you know . . . of winning them. In terms of Ironman (140.6 and 70.3) she has qualified for and raced in multiple world championships, including Kona.

She's tough.

And I'm? Wellllll . . . (if you haven't figured it out yet) not so tough. Really.

I've just started Keena's training regimen this week, and it's completely killing me.

"Killing you?" you ask, sardonically.

"No!" I shout, deliriously. "No, of course I didn't mean that! Because what doesn't kill you makes you stronger! Right!? Right, Kelly Clarkson!?"

But in the meantime, it feels like I'm going to die.

Remember how I'm a slow runner?

That's because anything faster than slow hurts.

I mean, let's be serious. Even slow kind of hurts. Just not quite as much as it used to.

When it comes to swimming and running, I've found myself settling into a nice comfortable pace. (I'm still too novice at bike to comment.)

And I get it. My run pace is the same as your walk pace. But that's how I manage not to pass out.

Um, until this week.

(Now I'm a lot more empathetic to all those Biggest Loser contestants.)

Keena has me doing two-a-day workouts. Which is good. That's why I hired her.

And I needed direction. I hired her for that, too.

But sprints! Everything, everywhere! Sprints, sprints, sprints! Bike sprints, swim sprints, run sprints. Maintain sprints for X distance or X time... and then do it again! And again! And again!

I was comfortably swimming 50 yards @ ~1 minute (for a 30-35min mile). I'm sprinting the same distance in 40 seconds! That's a full 20 seconds faster per 50 yards than my comfortable pace.

When I'm "finished," I grip the edge of the pool heaving and trying not to lose consciousness (which seems a little dangerous in water), rest for a few seconds (that's all you get!) and do it again. 19 more times!


My heart, my lungs, my muscles.

Sometimes people say their body is screaming at them. I find it more accurate to say that when my body hits its threshold, it screams for a split second before it drags and whimpers and begs me to quit.

It's the same story on my run. I finally timed myself with a new watch the most expensive piece of hardware I have ever invested in personally. (It has lots of buttons and fancy features, but so far I only know how to use Start/Stop & Reset.)

What I learned was that I am slower than even I thought. I average a comfortable-ish 10:15 mile. But under Keena's suggested-force, I once managed to run a 7:30 mile. See? I told you I'm not fast, but that's still almost 3 minutes off my comfort-zone.

And it's UNCOMFORTABLE! Discomfort. Not comfortable. Completely and totally anti-comfortable.

In addition to two-a-days, I'm doing weekly Bricks. (And by weekly I mean I've just started, so I've only done one.) Bricks = two events immediately back-to-back. I'm triathlon-training after all, so that makes sense.

But it's . . .

Oooh! Guess! Guess!

Did you say "uncomfortable?"

Ding! Ding! Ding!

I did a Brick last night, bike sprint straight to run, and afterward I felt physically nauseous.

Granted, I went for three hours and hadn't eaten in ten. Not my smartest move.

Despite mangling my nutrition, it was hard. Plain and simple.

I really really really wanted to quit. I'm not kidding.

At one point I was on a spin bike (it was pouring rain last night in which I willing to run but not to cycle), and the spin room at the gym was empty except for me.

After 2 intervals for a total of only 4 minutes, I started talking to myself.

I did not murmur under my breath. Or whisper.

I was full-out talking. Loudly.

Like Smeagol vs. Gollum...

"Just do 10 minutes."

"No. I can't. I can only do 4."

"You big baby. You've just started. Get it done. And crank up the resistance."

"No. I can't."

"Do you let Bridgette say I can't? How would you feel if Bridgette quit when you knew she could do it, even if it was hard?"

"Fine. I'll do 6 minutes."

"Then you might as well do 10."

"I don't feel good."

"Of course you don't feel good. You didn't eat. You didn't exercise for a month. Chalk it up and suck it up."

"Okay, fine. But I need a break. A drink. I'll go potty and come back. Promise."

"Pleeeease! No you won't. Stay. Right there. Right on the seat. And spin! Do it! Faster!"

"Okay, I've done 8 minutes. I'll do 10. But I'm NOT doing 20."

"It's on the schedule. Keena wants you to."

"Keena's not here."


"Alright, that was uncalled for. I'm sorry."

"You've done 12 minutes, so do 20."

"You're distracting me."

"Well, I'm not distracting you enough. Stop checking your watch. You're not even to 13 minutes yet."

"The minutes are getting slower. I guess Einstein forgot to account for biking-in-place in his relative theory of..."

"Shh. Someone's coming."

Spin. Spin. Spin.

"Okay, they're gone. You can do 20. You know that, right?"

"I hate you."

"Yes, I know. You're welcome."

My first triathlon is Saturday (3 days): the Splash-N-Sprint in South Davis. It's a cute name, I assume in order to make you feel like you're shopping at Toys-R(backwards)-Us instead of racing.

Distances = 350 yard swim, 12 mile bike, and 3.35 mile run.

Based on my Brick, I'd say I'm not ready.

Also based on the fact I don't have a tri-suit and still have never clipped into my new pedals and they terrify me and, oh, I've never done a triathlon before.... yeah, it's true. I'm uncomfortably not ready.

But I'm thinking that's okay for now.

I will trunk-mount my borrowed-bike around 3AM and drive it to Bountiful and take a gander at the unknown. This will be my "tri-play-a-thon" where I begin to figure everything out. And I'll go as slowly and painstakingly as I need to in order to get the most learning from the experience.

My second triathlon is the very next weekend (10 days): the Woman of Steel in American Fork.

At Woman of Steel, my goal is to go faster than my first triathlon and to push myself, as in training, out of my comfort zone. In other words, to actually (and for the first time) really make an effort to race.

Natalie, me, Lynne: trail running last Saturday

Before I head off this weekend and attempt yet again to become a stronger person, I wanted to share my discomfort in all of this.

Because I think we all get lulled into thinking that it's somehow easier-for-the-other-guy. When really, what I've realized is that, if you're stretching yourself, it hurts. Doesn't matter who you are.

It doesn't matter if you're trying to lose weight or you're training to be faster.

There's nothing simple about it. It's the same relentless heartbeat and labored breathing that gets you there. And it's hard for all of us.

Change is uncomfortable at best. And even on "good" days, it can be utterly painful.

No matter your goal, if it it's hard, you'll probably want to quit.

But don't. And don't not-start either. Start. Finish.

Smeagol will help you.

Here's to a new month!

Get uncomfortable, and may May be YOURS too!


Anonymous said...

not so tough...SHA, as if. Kel, tough is as tough does...and you can do tough standing on your head. It has got nothing to do with your current capabilities, and everything to do with your ability to exert the self control necessary to achieve goals that seem impossible at first glance. I think we both know where you stand on THAT issue. :) Julianne

Lore said...

I hope all goes well in your races. Let us know.

Brenda said...

Oh WOW! I am really enjoying reading about your training. I did my first sprint triathlon back in.....2002 and I was not a runner or a biker or a swimmer. I've thought about MAYBE training for an olympic tri but an ironman...WOW, GOOD FOR YOU. Looking forward to reading more about your training! keep up the GREAT work!
~Brenda (Joey's Mom, from HD boards!!)