Pre-Timberman Thoughts

Wow, Timberman is just 2 days away – how did that happen?

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It’s been a wild few months of training. I spent a lot of time and money rehabbing a hip injury that was misdiagnosed. Thank goodness, I found a chiropractor who was able to work his wonders and find the source of my hip issue…my lower back!

Now, I feel ready. I’ve put in the work and what’s done is done. I might not be in the best running shape of my life, but the goal of my first 70.3 is to finish with a smile on my face.

Somehow I’m not nervous. Maybe that’s because I’m not in New Hampshire yet? Maybe it’s because I know I have done everything I could? Maybe it’s because I am a total badass? HA, RIGHT…

A few weeks ago I was talking to a fellow Timberman athlete about the challenges that come with training for a long distance triathlon while juggling work and social obligations. We both agreed that at times, it’s felt like a grind but for the most part it has been an amazing experience.

Unlike marathon training, triathlon training forces variety into your training schedule – whether you like it or not. I have to admit there were weekends where I would look at my schedule “60 mile bike ride on Saturday and a 12 mile run and 2,400 swim on Sunday” and really questioned my sanity and the fact that my training was interfering with enjoying one too many hoppy New England beers. WHY, WHY, WHY?! But, I (not so) secretly loved every moment of it.

Through this training cycle I have been able to dedicate many hours to my first athletic love, swimming.

Kim Woo Invite Soph Year

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I have really missed having a team to train with, which I am looking forward to adding to my regimen in the fall. For this cycling, I have enjoyed that my training plan has forced me into the water, and I’ve loved every second of it.

I have been able to conquer my biggest source of anxiety, cycling! I still have a lot of room for improvement, but my bike knowledge, fitness and confidence have soared over the past 4 months. I have come to LOVE hitting the open road at 7am on a Saturday with friends and exploring parts of Massachusetts that I didn’t know existed. It’s also given me the chance to spend time with a lot of people I don’t see on a regular basis. Foxy has even taken up the sport because of the enormous amount of spent training, he figured it might be worth investing in a bike.

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And last but not least, running. I’m not as fast as I would like to be, but that is OK. Right now I’m pain free and that is 100% worth being slow. As I mentioned, my goal is first and foremost to finish like this:

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SMILING!

After a lot of hard work and pain, I’m looking forward to Sunday. It should be a very interesting and most importantly, FUN. I can’t wait to put my training to the test and learning quite a bit about the sport of distance triathlon. I know that moments of self doubt will creep into my brain, and when it does I’m going to dig deep and fight back by singing “blurred lines” and “safe and sound” to myself. Side note: Thank you swimming for training me to entertain myself for HOURS upon hours of just plain singing to myself.

My original goal when I signed up was to finish in less than 6 hours, which I would 100% still like to do. Though, given my lack of running fitness, I’m going to focus on finishing and if a sub 6 hour time shows up, sweet! If not, no big deal.

For those who won’t be racing with me, but want to track me: my bib is # 933. I apologize in advance for an on-slaught of instagram and twitter updates regarding the course, pre-race nerves and excitement.

Lastly, a twitter and training buddy of mine, Alett posted this on facebook earlier this week:

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She said it was her “theme of the week.” I know plenty of people think I’m crazy for the amount of athletic activities I participate in, many of those people are in my own family. It is the constant urge to set a goal, work towards it and achieve it that makes me tick. Plenty of people are fine never trying, endurance sports are certainly not for everyone. I have found out more about myself through swimming, running and now the sport of triathlon than I ever thought possible. I have found my limits and exceeded them. I’ve made new friends. I’ve gotten sick. I’ve finished a workout or race feeling amazing. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried. I’ve gotten injured…a lot. It’s all a part of the process, and the juice is most definitely worth the squeeze.

I’m lucky that I have a husband and best friend that supports my crazy athletic interests. His support, hugs, encouragement and willingness to wake up at 4am to carry my triathlon bag and ring a cowbell mean more to me than he will ever know. Though he doesn’t share my crazy endurance ways, he knows that these sports make me happy and provide an outlet that I need in my life. I know that it tests his patience, sanity and causes extreme sleep deprivation. But, he is always there for me with a joke, smile and a good luck kiss. Foxy, THANK YOU!

On Sunday I will step on the start line and race for me. I will smile throughout the swim. Take time to enjoy the beautiful scenery on the bike. And, I will hold on and dig deep in the run. It’s been a wild ride, and one that I have a feeling might just be getting started.

Do you have any last minute 70.3 race advice for me?!

Pretending to be a cyclist

2013 has certainly been an interesting and very busy year – I could bore you with all of the ups and the downs, but right now my eyes are on the prize: Successfully finishing the Timberman Half Ironman with a smile on my face on August 18th! 

So far, training has been great. I’ve been nursing my hip injury from Boston training and the running portion of my training plan is definitely behind, but I’m not nervous. Strengthening and avoiding future issues is definitely my #1 goal. 

To compensate, I have been swimming at higher volume than in my prescribed training plan.  Swimming is my strongest leg and where I feel the most confident. I am extremely grateful that I started the sport at such a young age and my swim club had such heavy emphasis on stroke and technique. I listen to fellow triathletes complain about the swim portion of the race constantly. As they talk, I nod my head and usually insert a quip about what a novice I am in the sport of cycling, but silently I am thanking all of my swim coaches over the years. Imagine if I had anxiety about swimming AND cycling? I think this whole Half Ironman game would most certainly be over if that was the case. I’ve adjusted my training plan as follows: when my plan calls for 1,000-1,500 I am traditionally swimming anywhere from 1,650-3,000. Part of this is to try to over compensate for lack of running, and the other part is: 1,000 yards swimming is a joke for me! In order to feel like I have done anything at all, I really need to swim at least a mile. 

The other part, is aggressively trying to wrap my head around the sport of cycling. I have been slow to get started with my new “hobby”, but luckily I have some really patient cycling friends. They are willing to give me parking lot tutorials on how to clip in and out, proper technique for starting and stopping and generally avoiding getting killed by crazy Boston motorists. They will even wait for me at the top of a hill when I’m too nervous to go up clipped in and half to walk my bike up to the top (this has happened on multiple occasions) and of course they are always willing to smile for a photo as I constantly need to document every single aspect of training. 

Here are such a few of my cycling sensi’s & myself in Lexington a few weeks ago – Proof I can do this!

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And, cycling is VERY hard, especially on Boston’s first warm weekend of the year. #unattractiveselfies

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All in all, I know this will pay off in a big way at Timberman, but I’m TERRIFIED. I looked at the elevation chart and HOT DAMN, there are some crazy, crazy elevation grades. If you don’t believe me, just check out this course map here. I just feel like there is so much to learn, and so much strategy behind it! Luckily the internet has a breadth of cycling and triathlon tips, tricks, videos and articles. Thank you, internet!

The other source of cycling anxiety is my general “fraidy cat” ways when driving a car with an engine, let alone a road bike with tiny wheels sharing the road with crazy Boston motorists. I’m hoping this pays off since I am overly cautious, but I definitely have a tendency to psyche myself out in a big way. I just need to repeat to myself “keep calm and pedal on.” (Side note, I need this shirt!)

I know in order to succeed, I need to stay calm and focus, so here are my goals over this next month of training:

  • Get increasingly more comfortable on the bike
  • Tackle as many challenging hills as humanly possible (without having a total mental breakdown)
  • Amp up running mileage once I get the OK that my hip is cleared to run longer than 3-4 miles (hopefully this news will come very soon)
  • Practice transitions. Luckily I have a triple brick work out planned on Cape Cod with friends on June 15th followed by the Oh My Goddard Olympic Triathlon June 23rd and the Cohasset Sprint Triathlon June 30th

So there we have it friends, someday soon perhaps I can remove “pretending” and instead shout from the roof tops about how much I love cycling. Something tells me it will be awhile before I get to that point, but I am certainly in it for the long haul to give this new sport the good old college try. It also wouldn’t hurt if I took a step back and reminded myself of this…

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Do you have fears of cycling? What steps have you taken to help ease your fears and build up confidence?