It’s Just Like Riding a Bike

You know the old adage…”its just like riding a bike”…right, well that saying doesn’t so much work for me.

Let me explain.

When I was little, like most kids, I owned a bike.  My first “big girl” bike was pink and I learned how to ride it at the Firehouse around the corner from where I lived.  After a few years I grew out of that bike and bought a really cool blue 10 speed.  In middle school I got an even cooler bike…a 12 speed!  One day, when a girl too big for my bike was riding it despite the fact, she bent the rim and I could no longer ride the bike.  Obviously this was much more horrible for her than me, but still….I was out a bike.  And I never bothered to get it fixed and I never bought a new one…until last year when I decided to do a Tri.  And it was like starting over. And given that I was never very bike savvy to begin with, I had a long road ahead of me. Loooonnnnnnggggggg.

The thing is, even though I owned bikes growing up and at one point even mastered the “no hands” technique, I was always hesitant to ride on busy streets or go too fast.  I never felt quite right, or comfortable, on the bike.  I would have much preferred to walk places and, unless we were specifically going for a bike ride, I usually chose that option.  In addition, the town I grew up in is really small (read: 2.5 sq miles of land and @ 3,500 total population) and getting to a friends house, even the ones that lived the furthest from me, didn’t necessarily require a bike.  Although it was a faster mode of transportation, I never minded just walking. 

I still don’t mind just walking. However, in a Tri it’s swim-bike-run, not swim-walk-run. 

It was late fall when I first started thinking about a Tri, but I didn’t commit to the idea until after the first of the year.  When I started telling people they were exicted but most of them, at some point questions my bike riding skills.  The questions ranged from “When did you last ride a bike?” to “Do you own a bike?” to my favorite, “Do you even know how to ride a bike?”  The answers were as follows: 13 years, no and I’m not sure.

But I was about to find out.

Since it was January and I had zero intentions of riding a bike in the cold, I put off the purchase pretty much until I could no longer put it off.  I had decided to just go with a regular bike, nothing fancy or expensive just in case I ended up hating the bike and therefore hating Tri’s.  It took a few trips to a few different stores and a lot of my mom’s patience, but finally I found a bike that I thought could work.  When I finally found the bike I liked (and by liked I mean it was pretty and I could sit on it without panicking) I felt slightly better about riding.  Until I went for my first bike ride, if you can even call it that.  I was a biking mess. I made it around the block twice and then entire time I was petrified of falling and would only stop up against a curb where I could put my feet out to help me stop. Real professional, huh?  What I needed was some Biking for Dummies, but instead I just didn’t ride for a few weeks as if it would come to me in my sleep. Clearly this plan was not working.  I eventually came to my senses and with about a month until race time I bit the bullet and got back on the bike.  I don’t think I ever went more than 5 miles and I definitely never went fast, but I went.  And I survived.  And with very little practice, the race came and it was go time whether I was ready or not. 

And I wasn’t.

The bike portion of my race could only be summed up sufficiently as a disaster.  A disaster by the way, that I still have trouble talking about.  Maybe in another post.  Just take my word for it- it sucked. I sucked. But I finished and I survived.

And I am back for more.

I saved up and with some help from my parents, I went out and bought a new road bike.  A bike that from the first second I rode, I was comfortable on.  I love my new bike.  It isnt that I hated my old bike, or even didn’t like it…I just never felt quite right on it.  It didn’t fit me well and wasn’t suitable for long term anyway.  I rode my new bike more in the first two weeks I owned it than I did the entire time I had my old bike.  I still go fairly slow and I still carry a fear of falling but my confidence level is so much higher.  I am so ready for my race next weekend and even though I am sure I’ll be nervous on the bike, I also believe I will do well.  Just another sign of how far I have come.

Below are two pics from last year. 

This first one is right when I arrived.  Notice, the bike is a Schwinn.  Here is something you might not know about Schwinns…they weight like 98427239lbs! Holy cow! Getting that bike on and off the rack was insane and I am really glad I only had to do it once for a race.  My new bike is so light I can carry it with one hand.

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This second one is just as I approach bike dismount.  Don’t let the smile fool you, I plastered it on my face to keep from crying.  In my head I am thinking “thank god this is over…holy crap I still have to run!”

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Quite A Weekend

And I have a feeling this is going to be quite a post!

Ok first, lets just get the whole celebrity death thing out of the way.  Wow.  I just re-read that sentence and it seems harsh…was it harsh?  At any rate, I don’t mean to be harsh, I am just so not into the whole Hollywood hoopla thing.  I think they are all grossly overpaid, and while I do enjoy their acting/singing/dancing/whatever talent they have, I don’t particularly care about what coffee they are drinking, what park they are walking or whose shoes they are wearing.  I am not an Entertainment News person…I don’t watch any of the paparazzi shows or read Perez or peruse the gossip magazines while in the supermarket lines, but even I know that this was a HUGE week for Hollywood. And quite the sad one.  Two icons. Two legends.  

  • Farrah Fawcett- who didn’t love Farrah, really?  Not only was she gorgeous but the girl could act!  People talk most about Charlies Angels but I remember her most from a mini-series titled “Small Sacrifices”.  Her performance was simply amazing.  I highly recommend the movie if you are a fan of hers.  Shortly before she died, I watched her documentary which followed her journey through her illness.  She really gave it her best fight and while it is sad, I am glad she has found peace.
  • Michael Jackson- I refuse to make jokes or get into a battle with people over his personal life.  People will all have their own opinions and I respect that. I just don’t want to debate it. I think the man had many problems. I don’t think, given his childhood, he had much of a chance.  I think he is a musical genius.  I think he is a Hollywood tragedy.  

Whew…now that I got that out of the way, lets talk about what this blog is really meant for:

-Thursday night I took my mom to a Bruce Springsteen tribute band concert.  It was outside and the weather was awesome.  It was such a nice night in the open air, just chatting with my mom and listening to good music.

-Friday was my first summer Friday off and it was hectic. I had to get an oil&filter change and had to get to MVC to get a copy of my drivers record which of course turned into an all day event.  I went to my local MVC, waited in line for the receptionist for about 30 mins just to find out the paperwork I needed could only be processed in Trenton. Of course. Of freaking course!!!  The upsisde to this (and I had to look hard for an upside) is that I wasn’t too far from Trenton at the time, only about 25 mins, so at least it wouldn’t be a long drive.  But it is Trenton, and like most capital cities it is a nightmare to drive into.  Not to mention it isn’t the safest place in New Jersey (heck, it was rated like the 7th worst city in the entire US) so I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I got there and couldn’t find parking. Once I got in things moved fast but then it was another headache getting out of there.  By the time I got back to my parents house, where I was meeting them for my mom’s bday dinner, it had been about 2.5 hours.  UGH!!! I hate the MVC and I know I am not alone; I am sure everyone has their own MVC horror story!      

-I did not run the 5k on Sat. Friday night I was feeling so tired I actually felt sick.  I know this is my body’s way of telling me to get rest so I nixed the run and slept in until 8am on Saturday! Yes, 830am is sleeping in!  I am so glad I did too because I felt totally refreshed and ready to tackle a good workout.  I went to the gym and ran 3miles on the dreadmill and did a heck of an arms/abs workout.

-My first tri of the season is 13 days away and I am getting really excited/nervous.  I am so much more ready (and by so much, I mean soooooooooooooo much) for this Tri than I was last year.  Last year, having only done one Tri, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I just jumped in blind and did it.  Knowing is actually making me nervous.  The good side to knowing what I am in for is that I feel I have prepared more effectively.  I feel good about the swim, except a little nervous about swimming in the Sckukill River.  Everyone says it isn’t bad and that is is actually nicer than some lakes, but still the whole idea of it skeeves me a little.  Of course, once the day comes and I have to get in a swim, I know I’ll be fine.  As far as the bike goes, I know I am prepared.  I have been spinning two days a week and did a lot of outdoor biking as well.  I feel extremely comfortable on my bike and have so much more confidence this year with biking than I did last year.  I am still slow and I still have fears but I really think I am going to be okay on the bike portion.  The run is probably the least of my worries.  Other than some heavy legs and some exhaustion, I forsee no problems on the run.  If my knee starts bothering me, I’ll walk/run.  No matter what happens on the swim, bike or run, one thing is for sure…I WILL finish!

Whew…see I told you this would be quite a post! I wanted to post over the weekend but my laptop has been funky; I am having it checked out by the IT in my building and just hoping it isn’t a virus.  Whatever it is, some sites arent coming up right and one of them is google reader so I am WAY behind.  I am going to try and catch up over lunch and hopefully by next weekend my laptop will be back to normal. 

In the spirit of my upcoming tri here is a pic of me from my first tri last year:

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I love this picture of me. I didn’t know it was being taken and my face so perfectly says everything I am feeling.  It was my nerves, excitement, fear and pride all rolled into one.  I had come a long way and looking at it now reminds me how much further I have come since then and how much further I can go!

Unexpected Blessings

This week’s theme is … Yeah, no one ever told me this about running….  Now that you are a runner, what is something you have learned about running that no one ever told you before.   You didn’t read it in a book, a blog or hear it from a friend or another runner.  Or…maybe you did, but you didn’t understand it or remember it until you learned it yourself.

I hadn’t planned on participating in this weeks TiaRT because I couldn’t seem to find an inspiration; really, how many times can I write about my love for body glide before I start losing readers!  But then it hit me- I was on my Tri Team message board and BAM—-inspiration hit me right in the face…the one thing no one told me and that I didn’t read in books or on blogs is what a difference it makes to be part of a Tri/Running community.  It has been an unexpected blessing.

When I signed up for my first tri I didn’t know a single person who had ever done one.  One day, after months of research about triathlon, I happend upon a website for a multisport club that was based out of the area in New Jersey where I live.  It also just so happend their next meeting was only a few days away from when I found the site.  I was totally intimidated but figured it was that or go it alone.  So I went.  And it changed my life.

The meeting was perfect- a round table discussion on all things Triathlon.  I had a billion questions and was so overwhelmed but I walked away from that meeting feeling a part of the Tri community, even if at that time I was still a good 5 months away from my first race.  Over the next months I got to know, and build friendships with so many of the club memebers.  I volunteered many races, asked questions and learned so much.  When it came time for my first tri memeber of my group were there.  They were taking pictures, cheering me on and at one point my one friend Katie even ran with me when I was struggling.   It was awesome. 

I am so lucky to have the support of my mom and dad, extended family and friends and I love that they come out to races and cheer me on…but without my teammates I don’t know if I would have ever gone further than one race.  I may never have found a love for running. I don’t know if I would have done a 1/2 marathon or be signed up for a full.  I don’t know if I would be signed up for three more tri races this summer.  My teammates get it.  They get the whole thing.  They get the early mornings, the skipped nights out, the blisters, the chafing, the road rash, the money (o.m.g is it expensive), the GU’s/tablets/blocks/beans, the importance of wicking, the injuries, the ups and downs and they know the feeling of crossing the finish line. 

These same sentiments branch out now to far more people: the triathletes and runners who don’t belong to my club but whose faces have become familiar from meeting at different races, the race directors I have come to know through volunteering and all of you.  In addition to my Tri Club, I have all the wonderful bloggers.  I find reading your blogs to be an etremely valuable resource and I feel lucky to have “met” so many wonderful people dedicated to the same heathy and active lifestyle as I am.  Whether you run or bike or swim, do all three or just enjoy an active lifestyle that doesn’t include racing, you all have something to offer.  You are all awesome!

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In addition to TiaRT, I have two birthday wishes to send out:

-My mom…HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the best mom ever.  For those of you who are new to my blog, you can go here and read a story about my awesome mom.  I am truly blessed with a mom who is also my friend. 

-My close friend James would have celebrated his 28th birthday tomorrow.  Sadly, he passed away when we were nineteen and I never got the chance to know him as an adult.  I miss him everyday and want to take a moment here to celebrate a life that was and a memory that will always be. ❤

Rain, Rain, Rain…

That is all it has been doing here in Jersey…raining!  Seriously, there have only been 5 rain free days in the month of June.  UGH!  So depressing!

Okay…in not so depressed land…

I had two really good workout days in a row yesterday and this morning.  I ran 3 miles last night pain free and had a great swim.  This morning I decided I was going to get back into the morning workout groove and I got my butt to spinning at 545am 🙂  This was my first class at my new gym (same gym actually, just new location since I moved) and it went really well.  I haven’t been to a morning spin class since March (ugh!!!!) and have avoided weekday AM workouts entirely the month of May and, until this morning, June.  I was determined to get back into the swing of things.  I was definitely a little out of sorts at first but after about ten minutes I was back in the game.  The instructor was good and kept the energy super high; he talked enough to keep us entertained and was upbeat but without being all perky annoying.  Do you know what I am talking about?  When I was going to spin last summer, the women who ran the Thurs morning made me crazy- it was like she downed an entire pot of coffee before class.  There is only a certain level of perky that works at 545am!  Anyway, because I have to be at work at 8am and traffic is an absolute ridiculous nightmare sucks I have to cut out of the class 15 mins early so I can shower and get ready.  Still, the 40 mins I was there were great and I feel so good about getting back in the groove.

Well not totally in the groove…I totally forgot my towel today!

I packed my bag last night, checked it this morning and went off.  The whole way to the gym I kept thinking I forgot something and then it hit me when I got in the locker room (like when the mom in Home Alone is on the plane and can’t shake the feeling that she forgot something- it was like that…but a towel, not a kid).  Ugh…no towel.  This has never happened and I needed to do some quick thinking.  There way NO WAY I was going back home and not working out, but I also knew there would be no time to go home and get ready after spin either.  All I had was the small towel I take to class so I sucked it up, went to class without a towel and used my washcloth version of a real towel to dry off after my shower.  Of course, I still had to deal with my dripping wet hair.  That is when I came up with a genius idea. I turned my T-shirt (I only wear it into the gym, not while working out) into a hair towel.  It worked perfectly. 

In other news, I am still up in the air about this weekends 5k.  I want to run it because I want to run outside and because a few of my friends are participating so I think it will just depend on the weather.  I haven’t ran or biked outside in almost two weeks.  Have I mentioned the rain in Jersey!  Blech!  I miss the sun!

I hope everyone is having a great week. 

Oh, and if you get a chance, check out Racevine a SUPER easy way to find races.  Like Jill said (not me, another Jill- I didn’t start talking in third person), it is super simple- Sometimes the whole KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) philosophy works so much better!  So check em out and show them your support 🙂

Big Announcement

Ok…

So I finally made it official and signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon!!!!!!!!

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This will be my first full marathon!  154 days until I can (hopefully) say I ran 26.2 miles.  Holy crap! 

I will post my training plans, thoughts, fear and MILLIONS of questions in various future posts.  If anyone else is interested, they also have a half and an 8k (which I ran last year).

Sweet Summertime :)

Tomorrow is the official start of summer. School is out…kids are gone…teachers are gone 🙂

This week’s theme is … Summer Gear and Tips.  Tell us about your must have summer gear to get you through hot runs, long runs, and your favorite races.   Running is a simple sport made more enjoyable by shirts that keep us cool and hats that keep the sun out of our faces. Share your tricks of keeping cool.

I started running in December 2007…it was cold. My first 5k was cold. Then I ran an 8k in 100degree weather.  It was brutal to say the least.  I was chafed, sunburnt and downright unhappy.  I had two choices: don’t run in the heat or learn how to run in the heat.  I chose the latter. 

I depend on manythings to help get me through summer workouts but here are my top 5 recommendations:

1. Timing is everything-  As much as I might not want to wake up before sunrise or go wait until the sun goes down, those are the runs/bikes in which I perform best.  It’s still light out enough to be safe but dark enough to be cool out.  While the humidity is still bad (it’s New Jersey…the humidity is ALWAYS bad) at least I am not contending with the hot sun on top of it.

2. Body Glide-This was the best thing I ever found when it comes to running.  The idea of running without it makes me cringe.  It’s entirely possible I am addicted.  I used it on my underarm area and inner thighs to prevent chafing and on my feet to prevent blisters.  The stuff goes on easy, isn’t sticky and lasts forever! 

3.  Use (the right) Sunscreen– I am pretty obsessive when it comes to sunscreen but I didn’t realize how important the right suncreen was.  I was using the same sunscreen products for running as I do for everyday use.  Now I know how important it is to use a sport specific sunscreen.  I am a big fan of Neutrogena Ultimate Sport.  I also use their Sports Face.  It is clean, lightweight and doesn’t drip in my face when I sweat.  It also stays on for a long period of time so even during long races I don’t get burnt. 

4. Hydration- drink drink drink.  Hydration is important year round, but even more important in the summer heat.  Drinking before, during and after workouts is of the up-most importance.  I am not a big fan of plain water (gasp!!) but I am a fan of GU mixed with water, powders mixed with water and most sports drinks.  If I am running a short distance I will either hydrate well before I go out or carry a small bottle in my hand.  I don’t like to carry anything too long so I use a belt when I am on long runs that holds two small bottles.  For the most part, when racing, I don’t carry or wear anything to hydrate which means I depend of well run fully stocked water stations. 

5. Clothes: When I first got into training for a Tri, I would go to the gym and run/bike/workout in whatever I had that looked remotely like gym clothing.  Now I have clothes for running, biking, yoga, swimming, spin….it is actually quite ridiculous.  Of course, you don’t have to spend a lot of money; most of my tank tops, shorts and running skirts come from target and I purchase my more expensive items like Run Ready Race shorts at RunningWarehouse.com on sale/clearance.  There are items I am willing to spend more money on like wicking socks and I highly recommend them to help stay clear of blisters.  My best advice would be to stay away from cotton.

There you have it folks- a little advice from a novice runner 🙂