Falling off the wagon

I've been athletic for a very long time, although you might not think that to look at me. In third grade I started taking ballet lessons and by the time I was in junior high I was taking classes 6 days a week. In high school it became very apparent that I was too tall and too big (and too fond of eating!) to be a ballerina so I started rowing. I rowed, in one fashion or another, through three years of high school, four years of college and five years of graduate school. To say that daily exercise and competition were important parts of my life is something of an understatement.

Then I moved to the desert and rowing was pretty much out of the question. Ironman was big into cycling, so I took that up. And then decided that instead of just doing one new sport badly, why not do three? And so I became a triathlete. And I discovered that it's a lot harder to motivate to get out and train when you are all by yourself. But I had people to ride with and people to swim with. I was never really interested in running with anyone because I am really slow. Really, really slow. And I hate feeling like I'm holding everyone else up. So I ran by myself and slowly and surely improved.

Fast forward a few years to Houston: initially, lots of training, new group of folks to train with, new routes, etc. But then came Devil. And I found out that it's a lot harder to train consistently when you're Mama and when the alarm goes off in the morning and you've been up every two hours feeding a baby all night, a run is just not going to happen very often. Ditto a bike ride or a swim. I did get some training in and I did do a few races, but the commitment wasn't there.

Then came Boo. And if I thought training with one kid was harder, try to do it with two was even worse. While I was on maternity leave it was OK, since I could throw Boo in the stroller and go for a run during the day. But once I went back to work, things kind of went belly up again. I did one sprint tri earlier this summer, but then did not get back on my bike until two weeks ago. That's two and a half months (!) without riding. And I'm pretty sure that I would have continued on that trend were it not for the fact that several rowing buddies from grad school are coming to town to do a race with me in October. The honest truth is if I workout every day I just feel so much better.

Now here's where the tough part comes in: in order to guarantee that I get some exercise, it has to happen first thing in the morning. Like 5 am first thing in the morning. And I'm the kind of person who really really likes their sleep (although 2.5 years of not sleeping past 7:30 EVER has cured me of the ability to sleep in), and if I had my way, I'd sleep at least 8 hours a night. So I have a quandary - do I go to bed early and miss out on the down time we have once the kids are finally in bed or do I hang out with my husband, watch some TV, knit (spin), and only get 6 hours of sleep? This week I've been choosing the latter option - we'll see how long that lasts though. I've got a schedule of workouts written down and hung on the fridge. And I went and dropped $70 yesterday on this instead of more fiber, so I've got a challenge to train for. I've got a running buddy making sure I get out of bed three days a week to go run. The rest I'll have to work in myself. But it's a start. So far this week, I've gotten a workout in everyday, the last fewat 5 am. It's a start.

Back to the races

Yesterday was my triumphant return to the world of triathlon post-Boo. I am glad to be back, even in a slower, larger version then a few years ago. And it went much better then my first race back after Devil was born (where I landed on the pavement 6 miles into the bike and was laid up with road rash and a pulled back muscle for about a month).

The day did not start auspiciously – our drive down to Pearland was very dark, punctuated with brilliant flashes of lightening and the proverbial Ark-floating downpour. It’s always a bit of a concern when the place you’re headed for is completely hidden by the Black Cloud of Doom. The transition area was very wet, the thunder was booming, and I was pretty sure this race wasn’t going to happen at all. But eventually we all got lined up for a hop into the pool. The first racers started just as the thunder started up again. But they kept going (and got through the swim without mishap thankfully). Most sprint races in this part of Texas have pool swims, there being few appropriate (and clean) bodies of water for swimming in and loads of pools. Somehow there was a mix up on my swim time (swim is self-seeded, so you send in a predicted swim time when you enter and you start with people who swim about the same as you) and I ended up passing six or seven people in 300 meters. Hauled out of the water (only two seconds slower then the time I’d sent in) and ran off to transition.

My transitions were just a wee bit rusty after more then a year off, but I finally got out onto the bike course. It was very wet and slick, although the rain had tapered off quite a bit. The road was about as good as they get down here – fairly smooth, no major expansion joints or potholes. I felt pretty good on the bike, although I had no idea how fast I was going since my computer crapped out on me (maybe it doesn’t like the rain?), but I finished about when I thought I would. And then it was off on the run.

The usual M.O. for my triathlon experience is this: kick butt on the swim, fly on the bike, and then watch all those people I just passed speed by on the run. I am not a small person. I do not run quickly. In fact, I run quite slowly. Mr. Iron Man runs about twice as fast as I do at his race pace and my easy pace. So I knew what was to come. I decided as I headed out (legs aching and thinking to myself “Whose bright idea was this anyway?) that my goal for the run was no walking. Given the problems I’ve been having with my feet (@(#&$)^% plantar fasciitis), this seemed like a reasonable goal. No walking and passing the two very large guys I could see ahead of me. The run course started off through the park and then turned onto a gravel path for about half a mile. As soon as I hit the path, the sky opened up and the deluge commenced again in earnest. My first thought was “I’m glad I’m not still riding!” and the second was “My feet are getting really wet, but hey – it’s not four bazillion degrees out!” As suspected the run was slow. Very slow. But I didn’t stop and I did pass the Clydesdales I’d marked at the start, as well as some other folks. Came to the finish line and there was the family cheering away. Well, Iron Man was cheering, while Boo drooled and Devil watched, thumb firmly in mouth.

The best part of the day (other then finishing the bike upright and road rash-free)? Walking in the rain over to the transition area holding hands with Devil, and having her look up at me and say “Yay Mama!” I was tired, my feet were killing me, but my daughter was excited to be out there, even with the crappy weather. There’s not much more I could ask for.