Just thought I would update you all on where I'm at.
2011 wasn't a great year health and fitness wise. I pretty much let it all go to crap. But, I do feel like I've learned some things along the way and I'm putting them to good use now.
I started a(nother) new job back in Feb and that started me back on the path of eating better. It helps that I usually don't have a car here and that there is no fast food nearby. I've been forced to plan ahead and bring my own food, and when planning ahead I make better choices then when eating on impulse (but then we all knew that, didn't we?") Since I started my new job (2/27) I've lost almost 15 lbs! I'm pretty proud of that.
I also set myself some pretty lofty goals for the year. This was going to be the year that I FINALLY did a 1/2 Iron Man. I figured I would make a commitment to it by purchasing my entry WAAAAY before hand. I also decided that I would train for a 1/2 Marathon before then because I knew the run was the shakiest portion of the whole thing. Training hadn't been going very well though and I was getting discouraged. Then I got an email telling me that a training group was starting up for my 1/2 and that they would be meeting on that Saturday (3/17). I figured I would give it a shot.
When I arrived I wasn't very happy. The group seemed like the typical runners group. Everyone so lean and fit. Who was I to run with them - size 18 and well over 200lbs? After some uncomfortable waiting I started to edge toward the door of the store we had met at but Monica stopped me before I could leave. She said hi, talked to me a bit and then asked if I was here to run. I tried putting her off. Told her I thought I was in the wrong place; that I was supposed to be meeting with a beginners running group and that I had expected (and I quote), "A greater diversity in body shape". She brushed off my concerns, let me know that everyone was welcome here and pulled me back into the store. I will say that I will be eternally grateful that she did!
That day was a turning point for me. She was right. The Run365 folks were great to me, and still are. They never let me run alone. The encourage without making me discouraged. They cheer with me as I approach being able to hold a pace UNDER 13:00 min per mile. It's been GREAT. AND I've stopped putting off and cutting short my training. (for running at least). I actually (almost) look forward to running days when I get to hook of with the girls and gossip for a few hours. I almost feel like I'm making...friends.
And yes, I am improving! That first run was a shock to me (I was barely running 3 miles a few times a week). "5 miles" they said and I nearly passed out. But I did it and everyone was willing for it to take as long as it took. And it took 1:10:42. I averaged a pace of 14:35min/mile. The last time I had really done more then 3 miles was WAAAY back in Aug 2010.
And I've been running more then 3 miles, 3 days a week every since.
The 7th was my longest run (ever). 8 miles! I, the girl who can't run, ran 8 miles! And not only that, but I did it at a pace of 13:25min/mile. Not only am I going longer, but I've dropped my pace a minute per mile already (it's just been a month). That's pretty incredible if I do say so myself.
So - that brings us to this past weekend. I did my first tri of the year. A tiny thing called "Shortest Tri Ever" It's a local tri they hold every year in the little city of Emeryville. 100 y pool swim, 2.5 mile bike, and 2.1 mile run. I figured this was the perfect way for me to start my new 'tri-life'.
I arrived early on a beautiful morning. The rain that's been almost non-stop for months had cleared for the day. It was cold, but by the feel of the air it wouldn't be for long. It didn't take too long to get my number and race setup instruction. It was going to be an interesting race because T1 and T2 weren't in the same place. I dropped the few things I needed for the run at T2 and then walked over to T1. There I set up my bike, clothes, towels and everything else I would need to move from swim to bike. The only dark spot of the day was turning out to be my bike. My regular road bike was in the shop to get some recently discovered major repairs done on it so I was stuck using my 11 year old mountain bike. As I was transporting/racking it I noticed the back wheel was acting funny. It would spin free for a short while and then the breaks would catch and it would stop. I fiddled with it as much as I could but couldn't get it to stop doing it. I finally figured I would just live with it - I wasn't like I was trying to PR or anything here. I was just trying to get back into the flow of race day.
Before long it was near starting time and everyone wandered over to the (lovely) heated pool. After a few race instructions (that way too many talked through) they were loading up the first wave of swimmers and the race was on it's way.
100 yards isn't too long a swim. I don't think a single person took longer then the 5 minutes that had set between waves. (unlike the Deer Valley Sprint I've done in the past where the swim is 200 y). That was the 'good'. The bad was that the women 40-49 group was the largest of the day and when we all climbed into the pool every lane had at least 4 people in it. Let me tell you, that's pretty darn crowded. Everyone had self seeded. The slower in the right lanes going faster to the left. I put myself just left of the center lane. I know I'm a 1/2 decent swimmer, but I've also only swam twice outside of a race in 2 1/2 years! I looked over the other swimmers and just by how relaxed they seemed had a good idea who was going to be the person to beat in the lane. I ended up being right. One of the girls in my lane was doing laps as her warm up and as they counted down to the start of our wave we started to get nervous because she wasn't back to the start line yet. She touched wall just as they said "GO" and we were off!
If you ever get the chance to swim 4 across in a swim lane at the start of a race --- don't. It was a disaster and because it was a disaster I hung back until everyone else had surged a bit ahead. When I pushed off the wall and started swimming I quickly figured out how silly that was... It took me all of two strokes to catch up and then I was stuck behind a wall of three swimmers. (we were supposed to be circle swimming - uh, yeah). I tried moving over - tried juking through - there was nothing. The three hit the wall and turned to swim back and that's where I finally found an opening. I had passed the slowest just as we had hit the wall. Past the next in two strokes as she tried to maneuver around the slowest, and within a pool length I was out in front. After that it was just a matter of staying in front, and that I did. When I hit the wall and tried to pop out of the water I was pretty sure I was 3rd or 4th. Unfortunately my exit out of the water was a little less the graceful and I lost time and watched a few people pass me as I struggled to pull myself out of the pool.
Once I got to my bike I changed as quickly as I could but I found I was having trouble remembering everything and getting to the rhythm of transition. It took much much too long and I watched a few other people pass me with their bikes as I tied my shoes. (No clips on my mountain bike). But I was off without incident and quickly fell into a pattern of peddling. The only incident was at one point a girl I was passing (on the left) decided she needed to take a left turn and almost bashed into me. She yelled, a little confused because she had watched some others turn at that corner. I yelled back, "Follow the cones!" and pointed to the line of cones that clearly marked the bike route. Yeah - they had explained that in the pre-race speech that many people ignored.
You can imagine that 2.5 miles on the bike doesn't take long. It didn't. I passed a few folks but not many. I was passed by a few myself, but again, not many. Those that did pass me were on sleek, light road bikes so I didn't feel so bad since I was on a 20 lb mountain bike with a draggy break.
I hit T2 feeling good. In fact, I felt confident, probably the most confident I had ever felt going into a run. I only had to run 2 miles and the weekend before I had just done 8! No problem! I dropped off my bike and helmet, grabbed my hat and took off.
My legs felt tired but not overly so and I forced myself to keep running because I knew the feeling would wear off eventually. A few blocks later I started to feel better and I was smiling when I rounded the turn from the side street I was on onto the main street. What I saw make me curse outloud. A HILL. But, I've been working all month on not being afraid of hills. So I picked up my head, leaned forward and set my mind on conquering it. Up and up it went. Not really a hill but actually an over pass. And overpass to take cars up and over the train tracks and the trains that ran on them. Not just one set of train tracks but at least 4. I just kept running and was surprised at how quickly the top came. Then it was down the backside, a bit further down the road and poof there was the turn around. A short diversion through a shopping center and it was back up the same road, up, over the hill, down it's other side and few blocks later, the finish line. In all I finished in 46:32 and was 10 out 20 in my age group; 41 out of 81 women. Not bad! Not bad at all!
All in all, a great start to the year and a race I will look forward to starting my season off with next year as well!