Posted by: libbith | August 25, 2009

Team in Greging

I am still sweaty, in my workout clothes, and sucking down a blue Powerade as I type.  I just got home from running the “Help Greg Fight Cancer 5K” in Prospect Park.  That’s nice, you’re thinking.  So glad she’s updating us on a 5k she ran today when we are STILL WAITING TO HEAR ABOUT THE TRIATHLON! I know, I know.  I owe you posts.  Many posts.  About the weekend before the tri.  About life post-tri.  And about the freaking tri you heard so much about for so long!!

Well, that’s fair.  I understand your anger, your disappointment, your abandonment. I’ve let you down.  But I have an explanation….I think.  Here goes: The whole experience was so overwhelming, so amazing, so stimulating and was followed but a bit of a letdown, that I don’t know where to start.  Like many things–like training for this, for example–I am getting overwhelmed by how much I want to write and express, instead of just starting.  So that’s why you’ve had radio silence.

greging2I am attempting to unstick this logjam by saying, I just ran a 5k. It was my first post-Race race and it was an interesting experience.  First, it was run by JackRabbit, a local running and tri shop, to raise money for one of their employees, Greg.  He is 22, was training for a 50-mile ultramarathon, and was diagnosed with testicular cancer that is spreading.  Needless to say, the medical bills are overwhelming.  So, what does the running shop do to help? They run, of course!  For a $20 entrance fee, they had a totally volunteer-run race in Prospect Park so that ALL of the proceeds are going to go straight to Greg. [Click the picture to read more about the race.]

This idea really inspired me.  For so many of these races, Team in Training included, you raise money for some large organization and have no idea what your money is going to do.  I’m not saying these foundations don’t need operating costs, don’t need to pay their employees, don’t need to buy stationary.  As a not-for profit intern myself, I understand that every penny helps the larger goal.  What I am saying, however, is that it was nice, for once, to know exactly who you were running for and exactly where your registration fee was going.

Now, just because the cause was all warm and fuzzy didn’t make the run that way.  Well, warm, yes.  Easy and cheerful, not so much.  First, I’ve only run three times since the race (hopefully, more on that in another post).  Second, Lynn and I–I did the race with Lynn and her husband and it was great so see them and catch up–took off to a galloping start, giving me abdominal cramps and her shoulder pain.  So the first mile was a sprint, the second 2.1 a “I hope I make this.”  On top of that, it was deceptively humid, even though it was cooler than it’s been.  So it was fine.  It was nice running in Prospect Park, if frustrating that I had no idea where we were going.  Also, since I did same-day registration, they didn’t have any more timing chips (so many people turned up for Greg!) so I clocked myself.  I had me at a 30:44. Certainly far from stellar.  But, who cares, we did it.  Also, seeing so many familiar faces from training made me realize that I am now part of this larger running community in New York City and, you know what, I kinda like it.

Posted by: libbith | August 11, 2009

I’m Still Here!

I realize I haven’t told you yet that I finished the triathlon.  I realize that I haven’t written since the morning of the race.  I realize that, if anyone reads this who doesn’t know me in real life, I may have left them hanging in horrible suspense.  (Clearly doubtful since I neither have many readers nor am that important, but I can pretend, can’t I?)

For these things, I apologize.

A race weekend summary, in three parts, is on its way.  I’ve had many non-tri related things to take care of since I put them on hold for a few weeks before the race, and then I went on vacation for a week and there was no way I was reading blogs, let alone writing my own, while I decompressed.

So, take this quick little post as a reminder that I exist.  I will be back.  I am not through with this triathlon business, and certainly not letting myself give up on physical fitness.  I have many plans, many new goals, and my Pumpkinman Tri in September to look forward to! Please, keep checking in.  I promise I will be back here with gusto as soon as I can.

Posted by: libbith | July 26, 2009

It’s Here

DSC_0016It’s 3:41 am on Sunday, July 26th, 2009.  I am going to take a quick shower (to wake up, I realize getting clean right now is futile), put on my outfit (see left), get in the Dial 7 car at 4am (cabs are hard to find at this hour), set up transition, walk to the swim start and then…

SWIM. BIKE. RUN.

I can’t believe it is here.  Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much, my heart is racing, and I am seriously freaking out.

Hope to return here sometime tomorrow after much celebrating to report some good news.

Posted by: libbith | July 24, 2009

And We’re Off!, pt. 2

At the beginning of March, Team in Training held a kick-off event, which I wrote about here.  The event was really interesting, a bit strange, and emotions were definitely on a roller coaster for me that night.  In the way that life–and the TNT organizers–likes to do, this event was mirrored by a another event that was, in many ways, exactly the same and completely different from its pair.

For similarities, the send-off was at the same time, and in the same room at the same building as the kick-off.  People spoke to us from stage, tried to motivate us, and we listened.  We also got packets of information.  Oh, and I was really nervous.  And it was really exciting. That’s where the similarities end.  In contrast, this time, I knew a lot of people, knew who who was speaking to us, and knew a lot of the information being conveyed.  It was shorter, more lively, but less interesting.

Afterward, however, we all met up at a nearby bar for some much needed social time with cheesy music and lots of beer.  And by lots of beer, I mean I had three and had a massive hangover the next day.  That’s what five months of not socializing and lots of exercise will do to your tolerance.   Oh well.  As you can see below, it was definitely worth it!

Excited (and slightly drunk) Soon-To-Be Triathletes

Excited (and slightly drunk) Soon-To-Be Triathletes

(I usually don’t like putting up pictures of people without their consent, but there are just too many to ask and the picture is too good to resist.)

It was, and still is, pretty scary how quickly the end of this has come.  I’m not sure I felt, or feel, ready to be “sent-off”, but I didn’t have much of a choice.  All I know is that I will definitely miss the comraderie of this motley crew when this journey ends on Sunday.

Posted by: libbith | July 24, 2009

Stream of Consciousness Friday

Less than two days and counting.  Here is what’s on my mind:

–I’m trying to develop a mental playlist for the race.  Singing in my head gets me through a lot of mentally challenging or tedious situations, so it should be pretty helpful for this one.  I think I need to have a combination of calming songs (like Anna Nalick’s Breathe (2 am) for the swim, since that is what I will have to remind myself to do and Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind for parts of the bike, since I want to appreciate the scenery) as well as up tempo, motivating songs (I’m thinking some battle songs from Les Mis and Newsies).  Any suggestions? They have to be, as evidenced by my prior examples, songs I already know and have easily memorizable lyrics (iPods are against the rules).  Also, cheesy. Cheesy is good.

–I actually, drug free, slept really well last night.  Normally, when I’m anxious, I have a lot of sleeping issues.  I’m finding it incredibly bizarre that, despite the random tri dream here and there, I have been pretty rested all week.  Watch, tonight, the most important night, will be a disaster.

–Everyone keeps telling me that, no matter how often you do this, it is always somewhate nerve wracking.  So you just have to learn to embrace it.  I’m really trying to just get comfortable with my anxiety which, for me, is completely counterintuititive.

–I’m surprised about what is making me most nervous.  In order from worst to best, I am stressing about the swim, bike, and run.  Fortunately, I am less stressed as I get more tired.  Oddly, however, this is the order of my strengths.  The swim is stressing me out because it is the biggest unknown.  I hate open water, I hate salty water, and I am afraid of the Hudson.  The bike is a little scary because the course is totally unfamiliar.  Even though the run is the least fun for me, I am the least nervous about it because I know every inch of the course backwards and forwards having trained on it for five months.  So I know exactly how much energy to save in the beginning and exactly what I have to tackle up ahead

Posted by: libbith | July 21, 2009

A Break in the Clouds

Sort of.  It is still raining on-again, off-again and the coaches confirmed our fears about the possibility of the swim getting canceled if the weather is bad on Saturday and/or Sunday.  But, on a sunnier note (I’m going to take this pun as far as it will go), I found something positive to focus on amidst all of this stress.  When all of this started, our Tuesday run GTS workouts were around a half-hour.  At that point, while I had run for more time than that before, that was still a pretty great distance and time to cover and took a lot of energy.* Tonight, however, for our final–yes, FINAL–GTS of any sort, we had a social 30 minute out-and-back run.  While I am certainly hungry after it is over, I am no where near exhausted.  I could have kept going for a long, long time.  Knowing that not only gives me a small boost of confidence for Sunday, but even more than that reminds me of how far I’ve come and what this journey has really been all about.  So, even though my heart is still racing from anxiety and my mind is all over the place, I can sit still–in my soaking wet clothes from running in the rain–and let a small little part of me know that, whatever happens in about 5 days time, that this entire endeavor has been a success.

(And hopefully saying all of that will take some of the pressure off.)

[*Editor's note: I tried to look back at past posts to read about the early run workouts and, while there are a few, there are not nearly as many as I thought.  I have not done a great job with this blog and that really makes me sad now that we are near the end.  I wish I had documented this journey more thoroughly and I hope my memory does a good job in filling in the gaps.  Hopefully, as I continue to work on my physical fitness after this race, this blog will improve as well.]

Posted by: libbith | July 21, 2009

Drip, Drip, Drip

37 This weather is making me crazy.  It has been beautiful for nearly  the whole month now, and then, all of a sudden, the forecast gets dreary, the clouds open up, and I have one more thing to worry about.  I really don’t want it to rain on race day.  If the rain is really bad, they cancel the swim and make us run twice.  While the swim is right now giving me the most stress, something I keep avoiding writing about, I will be really disappointed if I don’t have to face that fear and don’t get to do the event as planned.  Even if it’s not that bad, I’ve never biked in the rain. And I doubt the crowds of spectators will be as enthusiastic–and I am counting on their enthusiasm.

If it does rain, I am sure I will make the best of it.  For one, I will be a lot cooler while running, which is always a positive thing.  It may also take the pressure off of doing the bike really fast, because I’ll have to slow down to be safer.  And I won’t let a little moisture ruin this day.  In my imagination, however, I am running the race in the sun, and there is a beauty about the celebration afterwards that necessitates sun.  I realize that my image of it can be totally wrong, but this is the picture I’ve been seeing in my head for months.  I just don’t want anyone raining on my parade…literally.

So, in the meantime, I am monitoring weather.com like it is my internship (haha, get the joke?).  I feel like my mom.  Before the website, she used to be glued to The Weather Channel–she may still be, I just don’t live with her anymore–before any major event.  The problem with doing this is that you have absolutely no ability to change anything and have no idea the accuracy of the forecast.  So, you drive yourself insane praying that the weather will be exactly how you’d hoped and spend far too much energy on it.

Despite all of that, here’s to hoping the sun shines on the morning of July 26th!

Posted by: libbith | July 20, 2009

Less Than A Week

There is less than one week left to go before the race and my nerves are, understandably, out of control.  I’m trying everything I’ve been told to try: visualizing the course and race day, reminding myself I can do this, focusing on other things, and embracing the fear and anxiety because they will be with me for the next six days.  What is striking to me in this last week is how much the final challenges are mental, and not physical at all.  We have stopped training hard and are letting our bodies rest, but now have to get our minds in the right spot.  I took on this challenge because I was used to completeing difficult cerebral tasks, but not so good at those of the body.  In the end, however, I am finding that my biggest hurdles are still all in my head and I am having to try and fight demons that plague me in all areas of my life (being overwhelmed at large tasks and not being able to break them down and focus on one piece at a time, anxiety over the unknown, general self-doubt).  I am sure that I will learn these lessons in time, but having to tackle this part of myself is certainly an unexpected consequence of completing this goal.  I am glad I have to be so introspective–as it is where my strengths lie–but I also wish I was able to break away from that for a few minutes and focus on the reality of the world around me: work, errands, meals, chores.  Instead, I am totally and completely in my head and imagine I will be until sometime Sunday morning (mid-way through the swim maybe?)

Anyway, this is a total, stream of consciousness rant I probably won’t even go back and edit.  I am trying to capture what this feels like so that, before furture races or months from now, I can remember exactly how nervous I was and exactly what the first time felt like.  So, expect more of this un-polished, less humorous me for the next few days.

Posted by: libbith | July 14, 2009

Semper Fidelis

As I believe I have mentioned previously here–and if not here, certainly verbally to many people–the triathlon requires a much greater body of knowledge than many other endurance sports.  You have to master three sports, learn how to transition between them, and assemble and utilize the gear required for each.  Additionally, there are many external factors related to each sport that one could, if one was nerdy and internet obsessed enough, become engrossed with.  I am certainly nerdy and internet obsessed, so I have devoted far too much of my time learning about each sport.

One thing I had come across, but was having trouble decoding, was the how, why, and when the Hudson River ebbs and floods.  Since the portion of the Hudson near the city is an estuary, it not only is somewhat saline, but is subject to the tides of the ocean.  Rather than having the waters recede from the beach, the tides make the river change the direction it flows, resulting in ebbs and floods with periods of slack water, or no flow, in between.  This is not only pretty interesting–to some of us at least–but can greatly aid or detract from one’s swim time in the triathlon.  Because they start us in waves based on experience (pros vs. elite amateurs vs. everyone else) as well as gender and age, everyone starts at a different time.  For example, the men my age start almost an hour after I do.  So, the river could be flowing very differently for me and them.  Some years, this causes a lot of problems because those who start early get a great ebb (downtown flowing), where as those who start later can get a compeltely slack, or even flooding (uptown) river.  I had heard that this year was supposed to be particularly strong ebbing, around 2 knots (apparently a lot), and would be ebbing for a long amount of time.  I wanted to, however, find this out on a seemingly reputable website for myself.  So I did.

If you go to this website, and scroll down to July, and then scroll down to 26, you will see this:

26 0028 +2.0 0315 0646 -2.9 0952 1314 +2.0 1557 1914 -2.3 2209

After a little while, I figured out that it means that, at 3:15 am, there is a slack river.  From there, the river begins to ebb with a peak at 6:46 am and 2.9 knots.  The next slack is not until 9:52.  Therefore, all of us swimming sometime between 5:50am, the first pro wave, and 7:54am, men 24 and under, will have a strong downstream current to carry us as we swim.  Fantastic.  And, while none of the times are far from the peak, my start time of either 6:20 or 6:23 is pretty darn close.

All in all, great news.  The less time in that scummy river, the better!

Posted by: libbith | July 11, 2009

(Almost) Final Saturday

This is where I get really honest.  I’m sitting on my couch right now with elephant tears streaming down my cheeks.  Why? Really, no good reason.  I could blame some silly stresses in my non-athletic life, but those are just excuses.  What is actually going on is that, every week, after the high of my Saturday workout is over, I crash…HARD.  I always feel pretty incredible after our Saturday workouts, because they are some of the hardest and I haven’t worked all day before them.  I, therefore, can push myself further and feel more accomplished than after most work-week practices.  As the day progresses, however, the fact that I woke up before the sun and worked out for 2-3 hours starts to set in and I get exhausted.  And crabby.  And irrational.  And it isn’t fun.  I hate this about the training because it ruins half of my weekend and makes me mean to those around me (read: my boyfriend).

Fortunately, today was the last hard Saturday workout.  We still have a swim at Coney Island next weekend (the last one resulted in a pretty nasty me for a few hours), but at least that isn’t as strenuous, just early.  Not only was it the last, but it went really well.  So, while it didn’t calm all, or any, of my anxiety about the race that is now only two weeks away, it made me know that, barring disaster, I can actually do this!

So, that brings me back to the tears that clearly shouldn’t exist right now.  This is fun.  And I am enjoying this.  So I don’t want the benefits to be minimized by my moods.  Considering I really do hope to continue this sport and learn to train better and earlier in the morning, I have to figure out how to get over this.  Whether it is learning to hide my moods better or learning to not let my exhaustion so dictate how my day goes, I have to figure it out.  It isn’t fair to me, and it isn’t fair to those around me.

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