If you have known me, ever, you will know that I hate working out.
I hate exercising.
I hate gyms.
And big muscles kind of scare me.
Knowing that, you might wonder why in the hell did I ever sign up for a triathlon?
That question is easy to answer. Have you ever heard the expression "Getting old, fat and happy?" I am getting older and happier and unfortunately I was also getting *fat. I was the biggest I had ever been - even bigger then when I was 9 months pregnant. While I am sure I will become a soft and lumpy old woman, I wasn't ready for that day to come in my 30th year.
*I am barely 5'4. I was to big for my frame.
I knew I needed to do something, but as someone who had never worked out, I honestly didn't know where to start.
*I used to run Cross Country in high school and absolutely hated it, so running was out of the question.
*My little sister signed us up for some boot-camp classes shortly after Clara was born.
I was so mad at her. I could have killed her.
Why do people take boot-camp classes? It was miserable!
(Yell at me again crazy gym mother trucker! Tell me I need to work harder? Hell. No. I am not paying someone to talk to me this way.)
*I like Pilates and yoga. However you almost have to be a millionaire to take those classes. $400 for 6 classes? Are you crazy???
Chicago has a brand new gym in Lincoln Park called Flirty Girl Fitness which offers classes that don't sound terrible, but even that gym cost more then I wanted to spend. Price factor aside, I knew I needed more then just a gym membership. I would need a deadline in order to make myself continue to workout longer then one time. I needed a specific goal
After doing lots of research we ended up joining our local YMCA in the Lakeview neighborhood.
For the family package it was around $80 a month.
(This is a steal, I promise.)
I also decided to sign up for the triathlon.
It would force me to workout, and had the least amount of running involved.
I knew if I spent the money on the registration, there would be no way I would back out.
I started my training at the end of February, 2013.
My goal: to get in shape and complete the triathlon without dying.
So here it is. A breakdown of how this pleasantly plump gal trained for a triathlon and the end results of said training.
750 m or 1/2 mile
I was never on swim team, but I always swam and love swimming in general. My mom has a picture of me smiling and waving to her from the edge of the high dive when I was two years old. Fear of water was never an issue for me. However I have never been a strong freestyle swimmer. The Y had a class called Adult Stroke Development that I signed up for. It's designed for people who know how to swim but need help perfecting their strokes. It was just what I needed. I spent most of the class visualizing the race and asking my classmates about their past experiences in triathlons. One thing I DIDN'T do that I should have was practice swimming in open water. It would've prepared me more, but I didn't drown from not doing it. However, the most sore part on my body is my neck from arching so much while keeping my head up from doing backstroke.
I tried to get to the gym to swim laps at least 3 days a week.
I was in wave 13 of swimming, which meant my race started at 7 am. The Mister and I had a good 40 minutes to watch the first 10 waves. We were also able to watch a good amount of people being hauled into boats by the life guards. (At this point my stomach was in knots.) The lake was 70 degrees, which is pretty warm for Lake Michigan. When we jumped into the lake to go to our starting line the water was about 10 ft deep. I went to the middle, more towards the back. They sounded the bullhorn and we were off. The lake was a bit choppy already and with all the swimmers it was even worse. I did about 15 strokes of the front crawl and swallowed three mouthfuls of lake water. (gag) It felt like I wasn't going anywhere at all. I decided to use my go-to stroke, and did backstroke for the entire swim portion of the race. I was able to breathe, I could feel myself moving forward and I could see the Mister the whole time who was walking next to the edge of the lake encouraging me and taking awesome pictures.
(He's so good. I am so lucky to have him support all of my crazy, all the time.)
This first picture CRACKS ME UP!
It looks like I have a question.
I'll be the first to say that I look ridiculous.
But I didn't drown.
22 Kilometers or 13.6 miles
I love riding my bike. It is the best and easiest way to get around Chicago. (Unless it's snowing. Then it's just scary.) For training purposes, I started taking spin classes at the Y. Let's get one thing straight, right now. Spin class is the devil. Seriously, the devil. After my first class I thought I was going to puke. But it was still winter in Chicago and I needed to get my legs ready for this race, so I went back at least twice a week, most of the time three times a week. Once the weather warmed up (about April) Clara and I took really really long bike rides a couple times a week. With the bike part of the race I really wasn't worried about performance. (Especially since I wasn't shooting for a specific time.)
The bike part of this race was very lovely. I felt I was able to get a bit more steam that I lost with my backstroke swimming. The only part of the bike that sucked was the hill at mile 13, and that is the hill that takes you over the Chicago river right by Navy pier. I might have yelled out a few obscenities while climbing that hill. I think I should add here, my bike is a 1970 Schwinn collegiate in kelly green. I felt no need in getting a different bike for this race. It is what I trained with and it has a big comfy seat on it.
When I was around mile 6 an older gentleman, who was in far better shape then I, whizzed by me. He then slowed down to my pace and said, "I just want you to know, you have the cutest bike in the whole race." Then he took off again, only to leave me smiling in his dust.
The only thing I would do differently from the bike part of the race is NOT forget my water bottle. I was so parched that every time I saw someones dropped water bottle on the side of the course I was tempted to stop and take a swig from it. (I didn't though. I wanted to complete the whole race with out stopping once.)
Smiling for my Mister, right before transition 2.
5 k or 3.1 miles
Like I have said many many times above, I hate running. Even though I hate it, I have always been a pretty decent runner. When I ran cross country in high school, I would run at least 10 miles a day and it wouldn't even phase me. When I sign up for silly little 5k's with friends and family, I can jog them all with out it really hurting. However the running portion of this race had plagued my fears for months, simply because it was going to be last and I didn't want a measly 5k to do me in. So I started running 2 days a week. I wish I could say I trained harder, but that would be a lie. I only ran 3 times in the month before the race.
(Not the smartest idea....)
(The Mister is terrified of birds. He hates them. He took this picture while running from the biking to the running portion of the race. He wanted me to know that he had to run through a field FULL of geese for me. It was, and still is hilarious to think of him doing this, and probably pooping his pants in fear.)
Day of the race I started off strong. My body was definitely starting to feel tired, but I was still okay. About halfway through the run there were people handing out "power shot gel." I took one thinking it would be like a five hour energy. WRONG. That was so nasty. It was thick, I couldn't swallow it and made me start to gag. I downed a few cups of water and pushed on through. However that was the beginning of the bad part of the race. It was getting hotter out and since I felt like I was gagging I started to feel like I was suffocating a bit, but I knew I had less then a mile left and I really wanted to finish without stopping once. At the very end of the race you have to run up this huge hill, turn a corner and then you are 100 yards from the chute. I sprinted up the hill and the heat, the exhaustion and knowing the finish was right ahead all caught up to me. I could feel the tears coming and my throat start to close. It was SO HARD to breathe, but dammit I was NOT going to collapse at the freaking finish line. The announcer called out my name and then said, "Smile, honey. For the camera." I put on my best fake smile, crossed the finish line and found a fence to hold onto until I was able to catch my breath again. At that moment I couldn't believe I actually did it.
Still feeling pretty good here.
Crossing the finish line, not actually breathing oxygen.
Stats and Times
Catching my breath, right after the finish.
When I started training I was someone who didn't exercise at all. I was a social smoker who liked to be social. I gave myself six months of training and I trained roughly 5-6 hours a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less.
There were 7000 participants in the Tri this year.
My rank was 2058.
I think that is a fantastic number!
Division place: 159
Sex place: 830
Swim Rank: 1937
Bike Rank: 2058 - 14 mph
Run Rank: 1821
Transition time 1: 7:21
Transition 2: 5:57
Finish time: 2:15:07
I always weighed in betwen 120-125 lbs. I also have always either been starving to death or working 3 different jobs (while starving to death). This weight is right where I need to be, to be healthy. I am very pleased with where I am.
Weight now - 135 lbs
So now that it is over, would I do it again?
But probably only one more time. I would like for my girls to have a chance to see me do this. I think it would be good for them to see their mother work and strive for a positive and healthy lifestyle, and know there are other people just as crazy as I doing it, too.
I'm not saying I want them to think you have to run extreme races to be healthy, I just want them to know if you strive for a goal and try your hardest, it doesn't matter how long it takes you or how you go about it, anything you put your mind to is possible.
Have a fantastic weekend!