Trail and Error

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It’s been a while since I’ve written here.  I’ve written but through the FB page but this achievement deserved to be told at home.  In honor of a part of my childhood, this will be told in a non-traditional fashion.

 

The Evolution of E:  I’m a girly girl, a prude at times (who am I kidding, I still kinda, sorta am) but since I’ve become a Triathlete, I find myself doing things that I would have turned my nose up and so judged you for.  Now, I will change ALL my clothes in the car.  When you are wet, sweaty, gritty, dirty and just ugh, you want to put on some dry clothes/underwear.  It’s like taking a dry shower.  Hey, they have dry shampoo.    I felt like KastOut – the Bizzaro Outkast:  not so fresh and semi clean.

 

I go get my post-race glazed donut (for later) and head to get something to eat.  This is the best part.  Now, I’m a persnickety, picky eater.  After a race, it’s hard for me to eat.  One or two bites and then I’m full but an hour later, my belly is growling like rabid dog.  We had to eat at the bar due to the small space and limited seating.  A woman came and sat on the opposite side, she ordered the club sandwich.  Now, traditionally, a club sandwich is a 3-layer sandwich with the bread lightly toasted, cut in quarters.  Her food arrives and she proceeds to take each quarter apart.  I thought she was removing the middle layer of bread.  Nope.  When the waiter inquired, she stated “I didn’t know it came toasted.”  They offered to remake it, she declined saying it would be wasteful.  There she sat, removing every piece of bread from each quarter.  A waitress asked again to have it remade, she declined.  The offered to bring her untoasted bread.  The bread arrived and she asked for a side of mayo and proceeded to make a sammich.  You know, a sammich like you make in your kitchen.  I could not stop laughing but you know G-d don’t like ugly because I caught a cramp in my left hamstring.  It put its hand over a hot flame and grabbed the muscle and held on tight.  I discreetly slid off the stool and attempted to massage the cramp out.  Can’t straighten it, can’t bend it, can’t move it.  I have to get out of here before I cause a scene.  I broke leg bird hop out of the restaurant and wobble, shake, jump, skip and hop down the streets of Richmond in an attempt to keep the cramp from spreading.  At the cross street machine it decides to give me a reprieve.  I was mad, I made sure to hydrate.  I’d been peeing like American Pharoah, getting in my electrolytes, salt and magnesium.  Plus taking the HotShot, there was no way I should have cramped.

This race was tough because it was my 2nd Duathlon and my 1st Trail run.  My performance was below sub-par but in my defense, I’m a Trail Virgin, so the fact that I finished, upright and uninjured deserves a high five.  I’m used to working hard.  The fog, roads and trails made me work extra hard.  I wasn’t prepared.  I need to analyze my training and add in a trail or two if I’m going to continue.

 

There are times I want to say FTS and go back to riding my bike with a basket and bell but then the realization that I’m capable of so much more keeps me coming back.  I want to retire, I placed 3rd in my AG and that’s like winning Olympic Gold.  What else is there?  Lots more.  I’ve only scratched the surface, not sure if the scratch is poisonous, I’ll find out in the AM or tonight if I wake up itching but the fact remains, I finished my first trail run. No experience, blind as Stevie Wonder and I got it done.  It was not pretty, my gloss was low and I felt like a loser.  Not only that, I do believe I was the only BBOT, I didn’t see any others, so finishing DAL didn’t help the cause.  But you know what, somebody has to finish last, so why not me.  I finished strong.  I finished upright, injury free.  I. Finished.

 

Takeaways:

1 – re-evaluate and up my run game

2 – go for a trail run

3 – never doubt yourself, there are enough people doing that

4 – G-d is always with me, even in the fog

5 – I really am a #RealAthleticWoman,  #SizeMattersNow

 

It’s a good thing my sunglasses are kinda big because I had a TV cry moment when I crossed the finish line and while talking with a friend.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about my performance but as the shirt says, “I’m more than a pretty face.  I came here to win” and WIN I did.  EVERY time I cross the finish line, I win.  At home, watching the Olympic trials, it sunk in and hit me.  I actually finished my first trail run.

 

The Run:  So, as in all Triathlons, the run is the do or die event.  You’ve already done 2, so what’s one more.  Well, when it’s on a trail AND it’s your first, well, that one more can be your undoing.  All that was missing was a basket and a red cape.  I surely felt like Little Red Riding Hood going over the river and through the woods, literally.  There was a 1 mile run through a neighborhood and I was actually glad to see asphalt.  My left-knee was still whining after a stumble on a few roots.  There’s nowhere to go and so when you stumble you either have to catch yourself or go down in the DM (dirty mess) and you KNOW, I was not going down.  So I did the drunk walk lean to gather myself.  At the turnaround in the neighborhood, there appeared a G-d sent human.  There was a woman, Debraunda I believe she said her name was, standing on the sidewalk cheering when she comes out in the street and says I’m going to run back with you for a bit.  When I TELL you she gave me LIFE.  I wanted to drop down in the street and cry.  I was so grateful.  We ran, we chatted, we laughed.  She was the energy I needed and G-d gave me exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.  We joked about Moses, who walked everywhere and how I needed to borrow his sandals.  Once I got back on my way to Grandma’s, we hugged and she left.  G-d bless her.  There is human compassion in the world after all.  The last mile was so interesting.  I went from Red Riding Hood to Paul Bunyan because you have to be a lumberjack to do the lumberjack logroll.  The was a path of sticks laid out on the trail like a log road/stick bridge.  And just HOW am I supposed to get over that?  The grass was so high, I knew there had to be a lioness lurking, waiting to prance.  I did my best Misty Copeland to get across those sticks and keep it moving.  I got scratched by some branches and thought about every itchy, scratchy, poisonous leaf ever created.  I rounded the corner and saw the finish line.  I didn’t and don’t sprint.  I kept my stride and the crowd support was amazing.  Grateful for the big sunglasses.  I finished DAL but I finished.  Lot of things to rethink but then again, I did go against Triathlon rule 101 – never try anything new on race day, i.e., Trail running.

 

The Bike:  This was an 18.8 mile ride in the Swiss Alps.  It was so foggy, it was something straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  Any moment I was expecting a crow to swoop down and caw and peck on my head.  This ride was scary for me because I couldn’t see too far in front of me.  I didn’t have my blinky light so how would cars see me.  Black girl, black bike, yeah, you do the math.  The fog didn’t let up until around miles 8-10.  No crows but plenty of pot holes and street crumbles.  The roads were like those fancy crumble donuts Krispy Kreme offers once in a while.  Between the crumbles and the fog, I was riding like a kid.  I was frustrated.  I’d ridden a hybrid on longer, hillier and crappier roads.  I have a better bike, stronger legs, WTH EJ.  Right let started to cramp so I took a HotShot and hot it was.  That shit was like drinking hot sauce, black pepper, and habanero and jalapeno juice with a shot of whatever liquor you have on the bar.  Kevin Petty didn’t warn me about the taste.  On my way back, down the winding country road, I go got buzzed by a silver Mazda.  I wish I had a brick because I’d have blown a lung to catch them and bust their head to the white meat.  Just uncalled for but Jesus loves me and kept me safe.  The driver is lucky Jesus loves them too and told me, I’ll take care of it.  Made it back and let me say this.  I love spectators but if I’m coming down to the dismount and you’re crossing the path and the volunteers are telling you “Biker coming” and you still stroll across.  If you cause me to crash, I promise you, there is going to be a misunderstanding and you will need medical attention if you make me crash my bike.  #movebitchgetouttheway

 

The Run/Swim:  Ok, so, I arrive early to get my transition set up and settle my nerves.  Get my bike racked, chip, bib and I’m all set.  I set people still have their shoes on but think, ok, there is a bucket so they are going to put them there.  I’m sitting on a banister, waiting for my assistant and a man walks by and says “You’re going to run in flip flops?” It’s race day so I’m in my own world and give him the RBF.  I’m walking around and I see my friend Jen.  We’re chatting and she says something about my flip flops.  Turns out the swim was cancelled and it’s now a Duathlon.  I do my best Sonya Richardson Ross impression back to transition and trade my flops for shoes and socks.  Now, the would be swim, let’s talk about that.  The river was high, I mean HIGH, HIGH, HIGH.  So high, I think they sent a distress signal to Noah.  In addition, the current was moving so fast and there was so much debris in the river, it looked like something off of National Geographic.  The fog didn’t make it any better.  It was so thick, you couldn’t see across the river.  It was Olympics on Ice fog show thick.  I was actually thinking of skipping the swim because I couldn’t see but again, I need to visit my neighbors every once in a while to hear the latest news and gossip.  So, this initial run.  Yeah, have I mentioned I don’t like running.  Nope.  And it’s a trail run.  What?  I thought it was part trail.  Nope, 95% trail.  Who said this was a Great beginner Tri, even though I’m not a beginner.  LIES.  I survived the swim/run but starting off running throws off my game.  Yes, I can adjust but virgin trail running isn’t the best way to adjust.

 

 

 

 

George Bailey

Good Evening Mr. and Mrs. America and all the Triathletes on land.  Today was one for the books in terms of Tri training for us.  (1) Completed my longest, unassisted pool swim – 1200 yards ANNNDDD (2) Completed my first OWS and let me tell you, it was no where near as frightening as my first attempt at OWS at the 2014 Life’s a Beach Triathlon.  Let’s break the day down, shall we.

Pool Swim:  Started like any other day, I dread swimming.  Not because I’m not good at it, but because I’m not as good as I want to be.  Yeah, yeah, I know it takes time but patience is a bit faded on me.  Starting out is rough and I mean floundering, flailing and rushing rough.  It takes me about 15 minutes to get myself into the right head space and find a rhythm.  During this time, I appear completely brand new to the sport.  I find myself stopping at each 50 – soo frustrating but on I swam.  Sure enough, as the bubbles faded I found myself getting my wind.  I was going down and back with a certain level of ease.  I even tried “sighting” but I kept hitting my hand on the lane line but hey, no pain, no progress, right!  The sun wasn’t out completely so my Garmin jumped a bit.  It said I did 1700 yards – I wish, so good thing I was counting.  I’m happy with my progress, I have to work on my short distance because it is pitiful.

OWS:  Sooo, here’s the deal.  I did the LABT to remove my OWS fear but we started against the current and my swim skills weren’t nearly as efficient as they are now but I’m known for just doing it and so I signed up and was going to give it a go, regardless.  Yeah, didn’t turn out, at all.  The current was so strong, we kept getting pushed back to shore, so they told us to get out because the other waves couldn’t start.  OWS Lesson #1 – never start in the first wave .  I didn’t finish the swim.  Technically I don’t even think I started and the sadness set in as I ran to the bike.  I wanted to leave but I didn’t.  I jumped on my bike and left that experience in transition.

Fast forward to today.  My first time out with the Final Kick/Dai Roberts group and I wasn’t nervous, I was curious.  Everyone was friendly and I got some good tips and so off I went into the rolling deep.  Turns out, my swim buddy was so on point about the swim.  Even though the water is shallow, you still get all the effects of OWS.  The leader wanted me to swim down to the blue roof = .25 mile but I wanted to get myself acclimated to the water and everything so I swam back and forth between whatever points I could find.  OWS Lesson #2 – the water stings the eyes something terrible.  I need to get new goggles, again.

So I swam back and forth and I felt like I was swimming forever and I’d look up and I’m still in front of the same house, WTH?  So I’d dive in and keep going, took me a minute to find my rhythm but I did and the mind is such a funny organ.  It will hype you up and when you open your eyes it’s like – Fooled Ya!!  The struggle was real.  I was getting frustrated but I kept going.  The other thing, and I’m not sure this is a lesson but the water tasted TERRIBLE.  It smelled/tasted like burnt rubber, freshly tarred street/road.  Of course, I started to worry about getting out smelling like I’d bathed in the I-64 construction site but on I swam.  Ultimately, I ended up swimming 433 yards in 29:17.  I wasn’t concerned with time, I needed to get over the OWS fear and I think it’s happened.  Now, the real test is going to be, can I mimic this in water that isn’t so shallow?

In all honesty, it was nothing like the LABT OWS and I think that experience set me up for this experience.  Next Monday is the next OWS and I think I’ll try to make it to the blue roof.  Most people dread Mondays but today, I developed much love for Mondays.  Today, I got my OWS wings and I did it without Red Bull.

What ails ya?

How NOT to run a marathon

I consider myself a pretty wise and fairly practical person, sometimes.  So when I was asked “You want to run the Shamrock with me?” my first response was nope.  I’d run the Shamrock and being the snob I am, the medals did nothing for me.  But, I reconsidered because I’m all about challenging myself nowadays.  I don’t know how many years I have ahead of me and while running 26.2 miles has never been on my radar, my curiosity was peaked so I re-tracked and said yes.

I will post a video of some of my adventure but lets just say, not training and when I say not training, long runs in marathon training are double digits and I’m talking in the 20s. My longest run to date was maybe 7-8 miles.  Yeah, I wasn’t pressed, see I DON’T LIKE running.  I do it because I can, period.  That and the fact that unlike changing a tire, you can know how to do something but have someone do it for you, I’m perfectly capable so not too many people will run for me.

My run partner left me.  It’s no big deal, I expected it.  I already knew, despite her constant barrage of I’m not going fast, blah blah blah.  NO worries, I was running my own race.  When I hit the 13.1 mark, I was ready to go.  Not because I was hurt but because I was bored.  Yeah, I had music and even when me and my run partner were together, we didn’t talk that much (that is annoying) but my mind was telling my body there were other things we could be doing but my body fought back, so onward we went.  Prior to getting to the 13.1 mark (I NEVER say HALF) I met a woman names Shayla from DC.  She walked with me a bit but then she too power-walked off.  I saw her standing on the side at the 13.1 mark, she tapped out, her legs were done.  I wished her well and trudged on.  Some of the 26.2 runners were heading to the finish and they were all so encouraging.  Seems I was kinda the last runner.  The police car was following me.  At first I felt shame but them I felt like a rock star.  As long as I stayed ahead, I was on pace to finish.  Here’s when the fight started.  VA is for Lovers and we LOVE the military here.  Problem is that if your race is over say 10 miles and held at the beach, you are going to go on a base.  Well, the base closed it gates to the public at 1:34pm and my numb toes were being resistant and I wasn’t going to make it.  I had 2 hours and 5-plus miles to go (as per my garmin) 6 miles according to the markers but I digress.  I was totally going to finish.  6  miles – 2 hours, I got this, even with the numb toes but alas, it was not meant to be.  I missed the gate cutoff and the guy was so sweet about it.  He seemed really bummed but I wasn’t.  I had just done 21.648 miles (my official garmin data) in 5 hours WITHOUT TRAINING.  Now I’ve been training for other things but let’s be real, I don’t like running so it ain’t high up on the list.  I did it to see (1) what the hype was about and (2) would my mental toughness last.

I get the hype. Being on your feet for 26.2 miles is amazing.  I’ve always had mad respect for people who do them but the level of respect went a little deeper today.  The mental toughness, oh yeah, it’s there.  It shows up when it needs to and you don’t even have to ask.  There were times I would look at the overcast sky and close my eyes and walk.  I was unafraid of falling or tripping because I was walking in grace.  I had no runner’s high or nothing like that but I was overwhelmed with the number of high fives I received as I kept trudging along to Shore Drive.  1 mile at a time is all you can do and that is what I did.  When my toes (left foot) came back to life (damn you piriformis) my right calf took over and began to whine with tightness.  I increased my water and did a regular run and it seemed happy.  All was going well but I was quite a ways away from the gate and forge on as I might, I just didn’t make it.  The courtesy vehicle came for me and another runner (it was her first attempt to and her run partner left her too – completely ok) so we all happily boarded the van, quite proud of our achievements.

Here’s the thing about getting a ride. Once you stop, it is soooo hard to start back.  We had 2 options (1) get dropped of at 80th street leaving 3 miles  to finish or be taken back to the start/finish line.  They chose to do the final 3 miles, I chose to go home with my victory.  For me, if I crossed the finish line, I technically didn’t finish and since the finisher gift was a beach towel (yeah, I really didn’t want that) I was ok with my own personal victory.

Getting off the van proved to the be hardest part of the race.  Sitting down, my body went into relax mode.  I did my best Fred Sanford imitation getting off the van.  I’d never been so glad to see a pair of flip flops and a bottle of chocolate milk in my life.  I was sad that I didn’t finish but I learned much about myself.  That I am really lazy, mentally when it comes to running.  It’s boring so need distractions.  I do better running with someone.  My run  junkie buddy Tracy is the only person who has ever truly run with me.  We had a nice run and I didn’t get bored.  We didn’t talk we just ran.

I don’t recommend you follow me lead.  I’m not the best conditioned athlete but I am RAW so I have an advantage.  I am a Real Athletic Woman because the effort I put forth was real.  Didn’t matter that I DNF.  I’m superficial with races, the medal has to be nice and the finisher gift has to be something I’d want.  There are some medals and finisher gifts that I may have gritted it out for but again, I was ok with what I had.

Will I attempt another? I don’t know.  Run Junkie Evans talked me into getting into the Chicago Marathon Lottery.  If we both get it, it will be a fun race, I would probably train for it but this race today showed me that Size Matters Not.  I am a Real Athletic Woman.  RAW is REAL.

As I rode by the remaining runners, I could see the fatigue, hurt, stiffness and body betrayal taking place.  It is a humbling and heart tugging thing to see but it is the humanity at it’s best.  Strangers fighting and encouraging each other, willing each other to go the distance.  Some made, some did not but those who did not, the feat is not diminished.  They are warriors, they go hard.  They (and myself included)  fought the good fight, we kept the face and some of us finished that race.  Those of us who didn’t finish that race we are winners too because we fought the good fight and we always kept the faith.

I read a post that said (and I’m paraphrasing) If you need someone to motivate you, if you need someone to push you then you don’t want it bad enough.  I disagree because we all need a cheerleader.  If we didn’t we wouldn’t feel the need to post things on FB, Instagram, Twitter, Tumbler, etc.  Sharing equals encouraging and yes, sometimes you have to encourage yourself but just because you may require some external encouragement every once in a while does not mean you don’t want it bad enough.  Besides, we never really do anything alone.  Jesus is always there, always encouraging so we shouldn’t be too quick to take credit for his work.

I’m still blown away by the fact that I did that distance without having properly trained and aside from the sore legs, I’m doing fine.

I applaud and celebrate people’s achievements because it’s important to them and if you are in my life, then you are important to me, even my FB friends who aren’t really my “friends”.

21.648 miles.  I may rise slowly (due to stiffness) but still, I rise. And that saying about if you still look good at the end of your workout then you didn’t work out hard enough is, IMHO complete BULL.  Prettiness, IMHO never takes a back seat.  I refuse to buy a busted race photo.  #poseforthecameraNowClickClickClick  I worked out hard and was cut at the end, thanks to face wipes and Baby Lips.  Real Athletic Woman:  MY Real, not yours!

What ails ya?

My First Triathlon

So, normally I don’t post too much about my athletics because I’m not much for bragging, or what I consider bragging because I’m the only person in my small circle who’s doing it; but I joined this triathlon group after reminding myself that I had told myself that I would be more engaging.  See, groups can be cliquish and snobby and quite unwelcoming; which is what I encountered on my way to becoming a triathlete.  Runners are the worse.  If they don’t perceive you as an athlete or someone who can run fast, forget about it.  You’re lucky if you get an introduction, more less someone to run with you.  So, I told them to kick rocks and went on my way.  

Anywho, being raised an only has its perks.  I trained alone for my first Tri in 2012 and overall I did well.  My swim was exhausting. There was splashing, walking, gasping and waayy too much effort, but I made it. It was a pool swim and by the time I finished the first circle, I was ready to go.  Good thing they let you walk and use the lane lines, otherwise some of us might still be there, me included.  I finished in 16 minutes which oddly enough, was exactly what I thought I would do.  My swim lessons were mediocre because (1) too many people in the class and (2) we never really did swim/stroke/deep water. Didn’t matter that I was near the end of the swimmers, my 28 chicklets were still shining as I trotted off to the bike.  Now, every thing I read talked about transition but here’s the thing, I didn’t really think it mattered.  I can’t put wet feet into dry socks and so thus began my tradition of Primping in Transition because Prettiness NEVER takes a back seat.  I did well on the bike, except for the hills.  Good Night Irene those things were a killer.  Made it back and again, PiT took over.  I don’t buy into that whole “If you still look pretty, you didn’t work hard enough” foolishness, reason being, I ALWAYS know where the cameras are and No, I’m not vain but I’m not buying an ugly race photo either,  you can miss me with that. At the end of my run, I turned towards the finish line, saw my friends and I felt a wave of emotion come over me.  I flashed my Orbit smile and raised my arms up and that was and is a winning image.  I had that made into a magazine cover to commemorate the occasion.  When I see my time I chuckle, PiT got the best of me, but I finished. PiT is something I’ve built into my schedule.  Honestly, I’m not too concerned about time, I’m one of those people who just wants to finish because whether I’m first or last 9Ricky Bobby voice), you will still call me a Triathlete. My medal will look different only from the those who are crowned Champion.  

Some people are annoyed by those of us who “just want to finish” but since I’m not competitive, not in that since, my training and effort will pay off by way of my finishing injury free and finishing strong.  My friends ask me all the time, “Why do you do it?” and I say because I can, literally.  I know soo many people who can’t do much and I figured, since I have full use of my body, I’m going to move until I can’t move any more.  I’m highly creative and I have ADD ( I think) so I get bored, quick.  That’s how I started doing Tri’s in the first place.  I will probably never do a 26.2 mile race because I’d be too bored.  Tri-ing is a lifestyle and like all lifestyles, everyone’s is different.  So, this group I joined, turned out to be pretty cool.  I had my doubts at first because, as I stated, groups can be tricky. New people can be annoying, veterans can be a**es; so like a box of chocolates, you just don’t know what you’re going to get. To my delight, I’ve really enjoyed the group.  I’ve learned tons because I don’t ask a lot of questions or if I do, it’s to see if people really mean what they say when they say you can ask anything.  I listen (read) a lot from what others in the group have to say and then I research to see if it’s for me.  I take offense to nothing or at least try not to because nothing is about me, so again, I just listen and take note.

I’m not sure how long I’ll do triathlons before I get bored and move on to something else.  Already I have my eye on a summer adventure, L-rd willing and the creek don’t rise, and it does not involve Tri-ing.  I’m serious about what I do – I buy the gear, gadgets, outfits (yes, that is what I call them) the whole nine because I’m serious about it. Anything I do, I’m all in, even if “all in” is for a brief period. I do Triathlons because there’s something extraordinary about doing 3 events one right after the other and regardless to what your physical shape is or may look like, when you cross the finish line it means only one thing – you are a Triathlete.

I’m not your average athlete because there’s nothing average about me. Well, at one time it was my height (5’5 with brown eyes, smile like the sunrise)  but I’m not average, I am a Real Athletic Woman, my REAL not yours and this is my world.  I don’t allow squirrels.

What ails you?