Wednesday, June 8, 2011

DANSKIN 2011 - Train Easy, Race Hard

First, the "Train Easy, Race Hard" title of this post is totally stolen from one of my triathlon heroes - Jayne Williams, THE Slow, Fat Triathlete.  If you haven't bought both her books, stop reading RIGHT NOW, and come back after you've ordered them.

Back?  Good.  You'll laugh out loud AND get inspired reading those books. TRUST ME!  OK, now back to the blog post.

So, I haven't been so great with the blogging lately.  I'm still stuck.  I'm not officially plateaued.  The definition of a plateau is eating as you should and working out as you should and not losing weight.  I'm not gaining weight - really.  I'm basically yo-yoing the same 10 - 15 pounds and have been basically since October of last year.  I'll eat right for a while then eat crap for a while I lose a few pounds, then gain them back.  The good news is that I'm essentially maintaining and have finally come to the conclusion that I CAN maintain a healthy weight. I'm no longer haunted by the thought in the back of my mind that I will eventually gain all the weight back that I have worked so hard to lose.  Also, more good news - even though the eating part has been kind of off and on, I'm pretty much on top of the working out.

Since my last post I ran/walked a 5K with my entire family and my super fast nephew (who won his age group), did 2 bike rides (27 miles and 30 miles) with my husband, finished the Skeese Greets Women's Triathlon on Mother's Day, and this past Sunday, finished the Danskin Women's Triathlon for the 2nd time.

I have consistently done my Curves workouts three times a week.  I've also been working out with a personal trainer at 24-Hour Fitness once a week.  In between, I've done a few run workouts and managed a few weekend bike rides.  I done almost no swim workouts.  To say I've been "training" for a triathlon is a stretch.  I'm definitely consistently working out, but my diet habits, food choices, and current workout regimen does not really qualify as triathlon training.

Despite my lack of training and the continued absence of my groove, I signed up for the Danskin.  I have a special place in my heart for that race as it was my first ever Triathlon in 2008.  It's just a sprint tri - 800m swim, 12 mile bike, 5K run, but the course is HARD, especially for a sprint tri. 

So, the week before the race, it occurred to me that the Danskin was a week away and I really hadn't trained.  Oh my.  But, I'm not going to sign up then miss the race unless I have some crazy injury or illness.  I just decided that I would treat the race as a "long workout."  I won't beat my time from 2008, I won't run the whole 5K, I won't break any speed records, but I will finish.  It's just training for my first Olympic Distance Triathlon in Waco July 24.

I headed to packet pickup on Saturday with my good friend Meg.  I got my packet, got a sweet new Danskin tri suit, checked out all the freebies, and visited with Alison - the Austin Heart Zones coach.  I contemplated signing up for a 6-week Olympic Triathlon crash course. Maybe if I really kick it in gear after the Danskin, I won't totally kill myself in Waco next month. I love me some Sally Edwards, so of course I'll go with her training group if I'm going to train with a real group rather than just winging it on my own - and so far winging it on my own isn't going so well.  After careful consideration, I have decided not to sign up.  With Kev in Alaska through the end of the month, a family vacation, and a work trip scheduled, I can't really make it to most of the group workouts.  So, I'm going to have to figure out how to do this on my own.

Anyway, after packet pickup, I was pretty pumped and feeling excited about the race despite my lack of preparation.  I got all my gear ready and got a little sleep then got up before the ass-crack of dawn to head out to the race site.

Kevin is in Alaska for work all month, and all my triathlon friends had other things going on, so I was flying solo for this one.  I've done enough triathlons, that I know what's up, and I'm OK not having a cheering section.  Besides, it's pretty boring for spectators, and it was HOT on Sunday.  So, I was OK with being alone.  I was just doing a long workout with 1600 of my closest friends.  :-)

At this point, I should give a shout out to my Mother-in-Law for staying at my house this weekend and watching my kids so I could do this while Kev is out of town.

The parking situation was a little wonky and caused a delay of 15 minutes before the start.  I hit the water just before 8am and started going.  Unlike my first Danskin experience, I wasn't nervous at all.  I had totally embraced the "this is a training session" attitude and set out with my only goal being to cross the finish line.  I had not done any swim training AT ALL.  None.  Really.  Thankfully, I just swam.  I didn't panic.  I didn't get overcome by nerves.  I just swam.  I didn't swim fast at all, and given my total lack of training, how could I expect otherwise.

The water was warm.  The water was dirty and yucky as expected.  There was the usual kicking and being kicked.  Since I hadn't really trained and hadn't really even looked at the course from the start line, I wasn't exactly sure where I was on the course or what the buoy looked like at the turn to the finish (the swim course is kind of a triangle).  Twice I passed a buoy thinking I was approaching the turn to the finish.  Twice I realized when I got to the buoy that it wasn't time to turn yet.  Oops.  Regardless, I kept swimming.  When I made it to the end, I wouldn't consider myself completely "un-tired" and raring to go on the bike, but I was also not completely exhausted.  So, off to transition.

On the way from the swim exit to the transition area, I met a woman who was lamenting that she had done so much better on the swim than she expected that her family wasn't around yet to cheer for her.  She didn't have a cell phone in transition, so I let her use mine to call her family.  She was beaming because she had "rocked the swim" on her first triathlon.  It was nice to see her so proud of herself.  Unfortunately, I didn't run into her again, so I'm not sure how the bike and the run went for her.  I hope she was as elated at the finish line as she was in T1.

The bike.  I've ridden the Danskin bike course many times.  It's a tough course, but it's familiar.  The bike was relatively uneventful - except for the little incident on one of the easier hills when my chain came off - or at least I thought it did.  I shifted gears then suddenly my pedals wouldn't move at all.  I got off the bike expecting to have to get all greasy to get the chain back on the bike, but it seemed to work fine after a few turns of the pedals.  Not sure what happened, but it didn't slow me down too much.  I even managed to get going again with no problem despite being on the middle of a hill. 

T2.  Uneventful.  Time for the worst part.  The run.

I decided to walk a little while to get my heart rate down and get my legs back then I would settled in to "2-1's," running two minutes then walking one minute.  I walked about the first 5 minutes then I headed off with my planned 2-1 routine.  Twice I switched to 2-2 when my heart rate was still off the chart at the end of the 1-minute walk.  The worst part about 2-1's is that the 2-minute runs always seem infinitely longer than the 1-minute walks.  As I neared the end of the run course, I knew a nasty hill was coming up.  I decided to walk the entire hill then run the rest of the way to the finish.

Then I crossed the finish line.  I got my finishers medal, an ice cold bottle of water, and an ice cold towel from the volunteers - God bless the volunteers.  It was HOT.  I was done.  Yea!

I didn't have friends and family there.  I've done this before.  Sure, I felt great to finish and just relieved to be done, but it wasn't quite as big a deal as previous triathlons, especially not my very first one.

Over the course of swimming, biking and running basically by myself, I did a lot of thinking about my goals, my being stuck for months, my fitness, etc.  The Danskin was both good and bad in that regard.  It was bad in that I had not trained, was not prepared, and it was a slap in the face to remind me that I really need to get back in gear not only with training, but also with eating.

However, it was also good.  I desperately needed that slap in the face, and I think it's already helped me get back on the right track.  I'm probably still not eating perfectly, but I am thinking about it more.  I'm also already working harder on the training.

Also, I officially achieved a major long-term  fitness goal.  I stated about a year ago that I wanted to achieve a baseline of fitness such that I could do a sprint triathlon whenever I wanted without having to specifically train for it.  I can do that.  I just did that.  I finished a sprint triathlon, and I did not specifically train for it at all.  I did workout consistently, and I expect to ALWAYS do that.  I didn't run the whole 5K.  I wasn't fast by any measure.  But, I did it.  My baseline of fitness is such that I can complete a sprint triathlon without specifically training for it.  YEA ME! 

So, I guess I've officially achieved a point where I can train easy, race hard.  I'm good with that.  I am going to train harder for my upcoming events, especially the Olympic in Waco, but I have a level of confidence in my general fitness I didn't have before the Danskin on Sunday.

Now, I just have to get my diet and training groove back on track 100%. 

Stay tuned for training updates and a Waco race report.

Oh, and no pictures this time - I was by myself, so the Danskin race has no picture documentation.... 


  1. You rock. That is all. Hubba hubba!

  2. You DO rock! You chugged right on through that bad boy. I know how you feel when those 2 minute runs seem eternal too.