Needs & Wants….

Ok lets be honest, this time last year when all this Trithlon stuff was just for kicks and it was about just completing the event, having nice stuff wasn’t that big of a deal. Everything I used to get through my first TRI and all last season worked fine, its just time to get serious now. Its still all about completing the events and its still for the kicks, but its also for much more.   I didn’t need the fancy accessories and since I wasnt sure how far I was going to take this adventure, I didnt really want them either. Now its a part of my life. Its about beating my old times (that should not be difficult) and its about challenging myself more and participating in bigger events.

Now I need them. Now I want them.

First and foremost I need a heart rate monitor.  This is an absoulte need.  I will have this upon the cashing of my next paycheck. There is no way I can distinguish my easy workouts from hard workouts properly without one.  And if I am not benefiting from my workouts then whats the point.  Why wake up early and  sacrifice time/sleep or give up other activities to do workouts if I am just being mediocre. I dont need to be breaking anyones records but my own, but in order to get better I need the proper tools- beginning with the heart monitor.  

The next order of business is the bike.  Given my circumstances of really only having just learned to ride the bike four months before my first race, I didn’t want/need some fancy road bike.  I still dont need anything fancy but I do need a real road bike.  The bike I have has been good for learning and mild training, but I know that without the road bike I wont be able to really improve. I have been saving my change for over a year which probably equals to a couple hundred and lucky for me, my awesome parents saved their change for me over time and gave it to me as an xmas gift. This probably also equals a couple hundred. Together that puts me in pretty good shape for a decent bike.  Hopefully I will have this by mid-spring.

Lastly, along with the bike, I would like a bike trainer. This isnt a need- purely a want, and I will only allow myself this indulgence if I find a good one of Craigslist for a low price. I saw a few in the $100 range which I know is a great deal- the problem is I dont know a single thing about a bike trainer. I dont know which one to get, how to set it up or what to do with it once I have it. I do however know that once I have one I can train inside and this will probably make me more comfortable about training outside. So I have to look into this and its probably not going to happen this year.

There are about thirty other things I could ramble off about wanting, but I know enough to know they are wants and not needs. On my tight budget I have to really be able to assess the difference. If you dont know already- this is a VERY expensive sport. And the lists of needs and wants never seems to get shorter, only longer.

Notes on Lent

Today is the start of Lent.  I will admit that for the most part, I dont follow the Catholic church but I have for some reason always believed in Lent.  I think it is humbling to see what a difference taking something away or adding something new in your life makes- whether its big or small. 

Last year, instead of giving something up, I took on something new.  Thats when I decided to get really fit. I was already on WW and working hard with the triathlon in mind, but for Lent I treated myself to one year of personal training.  It felt really good to take on the challenge and it most certainly gave me the discipline that I am so depending on for this upcoming season.  

This year it just isnt possible to take on something new and I was finding it difficult to give something up when I already feel as though I sacrifice so much during this time of the year as it is. I didn’t want to give up anything that would interfere with what little social life I have during this time but I also wanted it to be something that was truly something worth the effort.  Between the time I give up for my daily life plus doing what is necessary for proper training, there isn’t much left to take away.  The thing is, as if it wasn’t enough to be a 3/4 time student while working a full time job, the Spring is also the start of softball which I coach at the school I work for.  Take all that and add training on top of it and I am a pretty busy girl.

So after some thought, I decided to take the morning to think about my decision. As lunch approached it dawned on me.  Years ago for lent I had given up soda and it ended up lasting almost six years.  For whatever reason I decided one day to have a soda and haven’t been able to give it back up since.  Over the last year I am to the point of drinking one soda every day for lunch and usually I have soda on the weekends too.  So decision made: no soda for lent. Giving up soda will be hard (kind of the idea behind the sacrifice) but it will be worth it because in the end I will be healthier.  Given its upside, I couldn’t think of a better idea.  The downside is that it will probably make for a lot more coffee drinking!

See Jill Run…

I officially ran tonight for the first time since Novemeber 23!   3 miles in 36:06. It was nothing spectacular but I wanted to do cartwheels out of excitement. If this was six months ago I would be really dissapointed with a 12:02 pace, but having not ran in 3 months I am really happy with that time.  This is proof that I am able to bounce back and I really think its only going to be better from here.

The run itself felt great- I paced well and felt good. My knee started to bother me into the third mile so I slowed it down a little, worked through it and resumed the run.  Feels good now after a good stretch and some much needed ice.  If I stay on top of taking the care I need of my knee then I think I’ll be back to my old self in no time.

Looking back

If you went and found my old gym teachers and told them that I have completed a Triathlon and that I am currently training for a 1/2 and full marathon- they would keel over (so I dont recomment you actually tell them).  As much as I loved to play sports and be active, I was never very…how do I say this…accomplished in my efforts. 

I was always the kid who took home the green participation ribbion on Track and Field day- I always tried my hardest but it just never seemed up to par.  Receiving that green ribbon really pissed me off every year; it made me feel like I was being made fun of in some way for not being good enough.  Like “here’s your ribbon for showing up”.

Looking back I get it though, because all these years later its the same story- I still take home the green ribbons of participation, in the form of certificates and/or finishers medals. The difference is I love them now.  I deserve them. I am a participant and it isnt about winning, its about doing something bigger than yourself. Its about putting yourself out there and facing challeneges. My “green ribbons” are proof of my accomplishments and I am proud of them. I save each of them as well as all of my bibs.

So today I decided to add the races I completed in 2008 to my sidebar.  I have to say, it kind of depressed me when I saw how little I actually raced.  And I know that I should be super proud of myself for even attempting the things I did, considering where I started, but it felt like I did a lot more than I did. I attribute this feeling to the fact that I attended and volunteered many races and perhaps that is why I was thinking I actually did more.  With all that said, I am still really proud of all my accomplishments thus far.

I also noted my planned 2009 races- much more exciting that last year and I am really looking forward to it getting here.  Not only am I destined to PR on distance but I am training for new events as well. 

Bring on the green ribbons!

Schedule?? Not so fast…

So this morning, I woke up ready to get started on my new “dont-be-lazy, get-on a-schedule”, schedule.  And then I realized that it doesnt start until next week. I dont want to start early because it is specific to my training and will end the week before Philly Womens Tri which is my “A” race this year.  For all my whining about not wanting to be on a schedule, I must admit I was a bit disaspointed to find out I was off a week. I think deep down I am looking forward to becomming more disciplined.  With that said, this week is super busy and it would have been almost impossible not to have missed a work out so I am glad to get a bye and not have to chance screwing up the first week.  Cause I would prefer to not screw up.

So anyway, without a schedule to follow, I treated today like I would any other non-scheduled training day- thought about what I wanted to do and did that. I knew my workout had to be rather short since I had so much painting to do at my new place, so I opted for a 30 minute swim and 40 minutes on the stationary bike.  I know the stationary bike isnt ideal, but I missed the morning spin class so it just had to do. Plus it doubled as homework time as I still had 100 pages to read  for my class tomorrow.  My swim was great- only a few people in the pool and the water was a nice temp.

Overall it was a good workout despite being short.  Really looking forward to the weather getting nicer so I can get outside more for workouts.

The time has come…

Its official, this Sunday my training schedule begins!  I am happy to be getting back on track but like I have said before, nervous about sticking to a schedule.  Fitting in the proper training to my already overwhelming schedule is going to take a serious amount of discipline.  But I welcome the challenge and look foward to reaping the rewards.    

I am following the Beginner Triathlete program for a Run-Focused Olympic Distance Tri.  I tweaked it (very) slightly in order to fit in my work/school/coaching schedule but overall the distances and times equal out.  I dont have any set plans to do an Olympic Distance this year (except maybe a relay)  but its not out of the question either.  I figured that if I did decide to do one, I would at least be prepared. At the very least it will help me prepare for the 2010 season in which I will definitely be doing Olympic distance and also when I plan on doing my first  half-ironman.  I chose the run focused program because of all the road racing I do outside of trithlon.  With my first 1/2 marathon and full marathon both taking place this year, I felt this program would be most beneficial.

Stay tuned………

Back in the swing of things

I have really slacked as far as working out is concerned since November…in part because of my knee and in part because of my insanely busy schedule.  And in part because over the holidays I got lazy.  But all excuses are unacceptable, so today I got my act together and finally hit the gym. 

Although I was really tempted to run, I did a slow jog for about 2 miles just to warm up and see how it felt. I havent ran, or jogged, or even really walked more than a mile since the beginning of December. It felt great and I was really happy not to have pain while running.  I also did a quick swim, which also felt great because I love being in the pool. I did an easy swim, didnt time myself in laps or time but I felt strong.  Had a little trouble getting my breathing under control at the start but was able get settled.  So overall I felt really good about getting back in the swing of things and I am getting really excited about this upcoming season.

And the training begins…

 It’s official- I have clearance from my orthopedic and I am allowed to resume my workout schedule as of next Saturday. This is very exciting and is actually almost two weeks earlier than he had originally predicted.  Turns out all this PT is working- hopefully the whole knee issue doesn’t return and I have a pain free season.   


 Now that I have the go ahead on my workouts, it kind of makes me wish I hadn’t bailed out of the Ocean Drive 10-miler, although I don’t think I would have been near ready.  I know my body will bounce back fairly well, but it wasn’t like I was breaking any records before so I am glad to have more time to prepare for the start of the season.  


 Here’s the problem- I don’t feel like training. It could be all the stress from work and school and moving put together, or maybe it’s because I am currently recovering from the worst stomach virus ever and my energy is low, but every time I think about my training schedule I cringe. It could also be that I have never been one to really follow a training schedule and now I feel more pressure.


 I have always considered myself a lazy athlete- I have never followed an actual schedule; more so just decided when I woke up what I wanted to do that specific day. But now that I am working towards (much) bigger things I really feel like I need a schedule. The thing is, I feel like a schedule takes some of the fun out of. So we shall see. I have a schedule. Here’s hoping I can stick to it.






What I have learned…

Exercise for the point of exercise has never been my thing.  I bore too easily and don’t have the self motivation if I don’t have a reason. Therefore I knew having a goal would give me a reason to get back in shape. Some people would set their sights on a 5K; perhaps some would choose a 10K- reasonable and normal goals.  However, as we know, I am not reasonable or normal. And so I chose to participate in a triathlon.  Without knowing quite how to ride a bike and running an embarrassing 14 minute mile, I set out last year to begin training for and be ready for my first race in August 2008.  My goals were pretty modest; I wanted to finish somewhere between first and being carried out on a gurney which I can happily report, despite some difficulties, I did.


In honor of my first triathlon which I completed on August 17, 2008, and to honor my blog that lies dormant I decided a good first post would be to do a top ten list of what I have learned throughout this journey so far.

-Life has new meaning.  That sounds so prophetic and serious and unlike me I know; but it’s true.  And don’t fall out of your chair here, but I cried!! Sure part of it was out of frustration, a little because of the pain and some out of disbelief that I finished, but mostly they were tears of pride.  I’m the girl who only ever took home the green participation ribbon on track and field day.  While I was athletic, I was also very small, and therefore always picked towards the end in gym class.  I’m the girl that barely knew how to ride a bike a mere 4 months before the race!  And I am a TRIATHLETE! And I love the bragging rights!!

-The people are a family.  People who do multi-sport are dysfunctional, but in all the right ways; you have to be in order to do this to yourself.  But it’s because of that common dysfunction that we all bond so nicely.  You see many of the same people at different races, whether they are racing, volunteering or just watching. And we get it. We understand it in ways people who don’t do triathlon could never understand.

-I am capable of so much more than I ever thought.  Doing this meant doing something that was bigger than myself.  There are few challenges the human spirit cannot overcome but I can honestly say that I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish this. When the idea of doing the triathlon was just an idea, I was fairly calm about the whole thing, but the closer it got the more nervous I became. I started wondering if I had lost my mind. But the day came, the race happened and I finished. The strength within me was there, I just had to be given an opportunity to show it.  Now, six months later, I have an entire 2009 race calendar planned!  

 -Spectators are motivation! This doesn’t need a whole lot of elaboration- it means what it says.  We need the spectators, or as we call them in my tri group “jockstraps” (get it: athletic supporters…).  We need the bells, the whistles, the clapping and the cheering to keep us moving, help us through the walls, make us smile when we want to collapse and give us that last motivational push through the finish line.

-I had no idea how to gauge a mile. Seriously, none.  In my first 5k, when I was sure the finish line was almost moments away, I would come to find out I had only run about a mile.  Eventually I got pretty good with the running but I was even worse at guessing on the bike, especially during my tri.  I was going down the road, thinking for sure I had at least five or six miles on the bike done when someone passed and I asked them. The response: almost three. WHAT!!!!!! THREE!!! This happened throughout the entire bike portion. I knew right then and there I needed a device to gauge my distance and A LOT more bike training! 

-Volunteers mean everything and I mean EVERYTHING! They are the most important part of the race because without them there is no race.  I knew it was important, as I had volunteered a few races, but now that I completed one without many volunteers it became (painstakingly) obvious how much they are needed. And trust me, we appreciate you!

-Transitions are a whole other event in the race!  There is a reason they are called the fourth discipline in a triathlon.  I didn’t think too much of it honestly, I set up my stuff and since I was a beginner that didn’t involve much.  But the truth is, it was a time of profound confusion; everyone but me seemed to know what they were doing.  Some of these things were out of my control and some are lessons learned. I know things will happen (signs where to go might not always be clear and its entirely possible I will try to run with my bike helmet on again) but I learned a lot about being more organized so I am better prepared in the future.

-Brick training is your friend. I needed to make it my friend. I am definitely making it my friend this year. Brick training is the part of training that I just passed by- and then paid for BIG time during the race.  After 13 miles on the bike, my legs felt like jello and when I dismounted the bike they crumbled.  If you brick train your legs become used to this and you can cleanly dismount the bike. Perhaps if brick training and I become friends I will cease the practice of flying into dismount knees and wrists first. Yes, I would say lesson learned.

-There is such thing as the race bug, and I caught it.  Perhaps some people do one triathlon and decide it isn’t for them. I am not one of those people.  Once the swim part of my tri was over I spent the majority of the rest of the race wondering what the hell had made me do this and declared many times I was never doing another race again. But then I crossed the finish line. In a matter of ten minutes I went from “I am never doing this again” to “maybe ill do a relay but never a full race” to “I bet ill be ready for an Olympic next summer”.  And now here I am…with five races planned for 2009 and hopes to do a half-ironman in the summer of 2010. So yeah, I got the bug big time!

-What I knew all along and am even more clear on now is how highly motivated I am by the idea of competing against myself as well as all the other racers.  The thing is…people like me don’t race to win, we race to finish. I am a firm believer that finishing IS winning (there’s that blog title redundancy). I race for the challenge. I race to stay healthy. And of course the free energy bars, free t-shirts and other free swag are nice added perks.