Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Why I Tri.

So when I was big and fat with Ham, Dr. Mom decided that she was not to be outdone by her baby sister and signed up for an Ironman. My mom is pretty is extreme and rather type A, so training for an Ironman which takes about a year and is really intense, was perfect for her. I watched her do this, heard her chatter about all of her workouts, and got annoyed when she would workout instead of hang out with me. Then my husband got the bug and did a sprint tri in summer 2009. I was spewing milk like a dairy and decided that racing half naked was not for me. But I do like the race scene. There is something quite infectious about it, everyone is happy, nervous, focused, and despite that it is a race, people are really friendly. I told my self, "self, next summer you are going to do this!" So in February in a moment of cockiness I signed up for an Olympic distance triathlon. Training went really well until all hell broke loose. I could feel myself giving up, thoughts of why even bother kept coming into my head. But then it was time for Mr. Man's first tri of the season (he is doing four this summer, one more left). We went to the pre-race expo (this is where you pick up your packet, look at all the neat racing stuff you can buy, eye up the competition.) I watched petrified and people were dragging their wetsuits down to the beach, smashing themselves into them and doing laps in the reservoir. I didn't even own a wetsuit. I was planning on renting one, but I had never really swam in open water. I was on a swim team in middle school and swimming is easy for me. I have water skied a lot so the thought of being out in the reservoir didn't really freak me out too much. It was more of the fish. And all the other people kicking and splashing that I couldn't handle. So I did what every sane woman does, I shopped. Really, I just went up to one of the vendors that had last year's wetsuits on sale tried one on and plunked down the debit card. Which is generally how I shop, short and to the point.

The next day, at the race, I about passed out from the fear. How in the hell am I supposed to double the distance of each of these events. I had the clear thought that I WAS GOING TO DROWN if I didn't get my act together soon. So after the race was over, I told my husband, holy moly batman, I have got to get my training together. He said, "yep" and then left on a plane. That is the other problem, Mr. Man travels about 4.5 months out of the year. So if the kids get sick and he is working out for mommy.

My mom decided that I wasn't going to succumb to my woe is me state and has let me borrow her trainer this summer so I can at least ride my bike inside if nothing else. Now let me state, the husband has rollers, he is a cycling snot and prefers them to the trainer, I tempt death every time I get on the things and was not about to do it with no other adult in the house. If the t.v. just happened to be on if I fell over and broke my neck the kids wouldn't find me for days.

In between doctor's appointments, illness, Mr. Man's insane travel schedule, and Ham's week long admission I swam, biked, and ran. The funny thing is I became very focused. All of my fears about Ham go away while I am focused on my heart rate, pace, time, and intervals. I mentally visualize racing. Not hospitals, not Dr. Google, not bills, not husbands out of town, not needing to go the grocery store, just focusing on racing.

When Mr. Man travels we tend to bicker. But I have noticed since we have been on this little tri training adventure together we bicker a LOT less. We encourage the other one on when they are feeling blah. We check in with each other about workouts, eating, races, jitters. Right before my race last Saturday, Mr. Man was giving me advice. It was a beach start versus my usual in the water already shivering start, and the funny thing was I was actually listening to him. Generally I am stubborn and just do what I want, but since we have been learning how to do this together we seem to actually listen to one another...and oddly that is spilling over into the rest of our marriage. I really believe that because we focused on this endeavor together we are stronger as a couple during all of this amazing amount of stress and life changes that just keep presenting each and every week. Exercise is a wonderful stress reliever. Racing channels my usually anxiety and allows me to focus this extra energy into a goal. Plus, it is nice to see that all of my training is paying off. All of my times have gone down this summer.

So last Saturday I did the Iron Girl Boulder. This was a sprint triathlon. The distance for a sprint changes depending on the race, unlike an Olympic, half Ironman, and Ironman where the distances are set. For this race I swam 400m, biked 17 miles, and ran 3.2 miles. The swim distance was really short, and is my best event so I was disappointed with that distance because I can gain time in the swim that I tend to loose in the run. (More reason why the Olympic distance is probably the distance for me, it has a disproportionately long swim.) The Iron Girl is also a female only race. While I do think the name Iron Girl is slightly condescending, it was really inspiring hearing all the stories before and after the race about what it has taken some women to get to race day. Some were two time cancer survivors. Some had lost a lot of weight, like over a hundred pounds. One mother of four had broken her back the year before, another had MS. There were women of all sizes and ability. All these women were there bright and early when they could have been in bed sleeping, have breakfast with their families, or sitting around drinking coffee, but they weren't. All these women were saying FUCK OFF stress! I am doing this for me! You are not in charge of my life, I am strong, I can do this! There was just a completely different vibe at this race than in my Olympic and at all of Mr. Man's. Don't get me wrong, I love the race atmosphere, but this was empowering. I am a pretty competitive person and when I was going through transition I was focused on beating these women and setting a new PR, but at the same time I was admiring everyone too. It was during my Olympic distance race after I had made it up Olde Stage Road with my heart ready to beat out of my chest that I realized I was having fun. A lot of fun. I have always had a slight problem fitting in and finding my niche, but this was it. I love this.

That is the one feeling -admiration- I think that sticks with me at all these events, either a race or the weekly stroke and stride. While I admit my life has been really insane this past year I have learned to admire my husband for sticking to this to get his body back in shape and all these other people that put their best face forward when life gets hectic. Not sitting around kvetching but focusing energy, dealing with a problem, and putting your best self forward. And yes, Dr. Mom did do the full Ironman last year and is planning an encore in November. I was and am so proud of her, Mr. Man, and myself.

One of the perks of an all female race, flowers, linen table cloths, and food catered by Pour la France.

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