Friday, September 4, 2015

The Triathlon Diaries: Colonial Beach Olympic Aquabike

Obviously I need to work on my race update reports...I post them way after the fact...what can I learn if I can't even remember how the race went? However, this one happened in July, so it's a little more fresh in my mind that Challenge Williamsburg was. Let's see how it goes:

Aaron and I met at the shop to load our bikes and stuff up at 3am, leaving at 3:30am to drive the hour and a half to Colonial Beach, VA, a tiny town on the beach where hotels are a rare thing but they have gorgeous sunrises. Taking what I learned from Williamsburg, I took a lot of food with me and ate five scrambled eggs at 3:30am. On the drive, I proceeded to eat two LaraBars, some pretzels and three peaches; much better than the 200 calories I consumed at Williamsburg.

Learning Lessons/Things Improved On:

#1 Good Food: Probably not enough, but it was a significant improvement over my last race, and I didn't see any of it again. #success

#2 Warm-Up: Spent a great 20 minutes in the water warming up. I was the last wave and had a lot of time to prep and just float around to get my muscles ready.

#3 Need Anti-Fog: My open water goggles are great, however fog very easily. I spent some quality time doing breaststroke kick as I cleared out my goggles, not one, not two, but three times. Imagine how fast my swim would've been if I hadn't of had to stop to clear them out.

#4 Kept on Swimming: Listened to my training partner and kept on swimming until I couldn't swim anymore, then stood up and ran to transition.

#5 Bike Course Loops: Are awful because you catch up to everyone who is on their first lap when you are on your second lap and it becomes a passing frenzy.

#6 Long Bike Course: The bike was supposed to be a 40K, we had an additional 3 or so miles tacked on. Not cool, mate, not cool.

#7 Shoes: I neglected to bring shoes (other than cycling shoes) into transition for when I finished my race. I then proceeded to cheer on the run course for Aaron the mud.

Final Thoughts:
Even with the long bike course, I managed to ride 3.5 minutes faster than my ride in Williamsburg, probably due to all the food. I averaged 21.4mph on the bike.
Swim: 23:39
T1: 1:29
Bike: 1:12:59
Overall: 1:38:05 First

Compare my results to the top woman finisher in the triathlon:
Swim: 24:26
T1: 1:22
Bike: 1:10.34
I wasn't far off at all. Goals and work-ons for next year!

The Key of Wanting to Travel (and Train)

After my tip to New Zealand and Australia, my eyes had been opened to so much. I had done things I'd ever done, I'd seen things I'd never seen, I ate food I'd never eaten before, I showered the least times I'd ever showered in a three month time span and I was in the best shape of my life (thanks to all those mountains)! For all those reasons and more, I wanted (still do!) to travel the world and take everything in. Before, I wanted to go as the tourist, and now, I want to go as the adrenaline junkie, culture seeker and foodie. What can you learn about how people live if all you do is go to the over popularized tourist attractions? What food can you enjoy if all you go to are American chains and American dive bars (yes, there are such thing in Australia)? When in a country with mountains and a beach, how can you get the adrenaline, the raw nature, the inshape(ness) from that which mountains provide if laying on a beach all day? That's the reason, after I graduated college, I wanted to travel.

But seriously? How realistic is it for a fresh out of college individual to go and travel (with their own money)? Probably not tremendously likely. So, as I start to make more money, all I want to do is travel more and more.

I think I have found the key: triathlons. Triathlons can take you anywhere in the world--yes, expensive, but all travelling is. I could handle staying at a hostel the night before a race, and I could certainly handle the training and racing in a gorgeous and new environment. You could stay longer than the race or proceed somewhere else. You'd be able to see the world in a different way. And hey, I have already made it to Raleigh, NC and New Hampshire (my road trip to the North East).

All I have to do now is find a job that would allow me that time off....maybe I should keep thinking about this whole travel thing....Good Luck!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Triathlon Diaries: Challenge Williamsburg Oly Aquabike

Better two months late, than never, right? Opposed to writing about the whole weekend (I probably don't remember it all), I am going to focus on what I learned from my first Olympic aquabike of the season. This was going to be my first Olympic Triathlon ever, until I got injured. Yay!

Here goes:
After a long battle the night before of "What's the wifi password," boops (NormaTech Boots), HeadsUp, and trying to find a bedtime melody we both agreed on, I finally went to sleep, only to be woken up a few hours later by my bed mates alarm...then a couple hours later by mine. But I felt great...if only that feeling would've lasted...

Lessons Learned:

#1 Nutrition
   -Race morning I took in 200 calories. No, I did not forget to add a 0 to that. With nerves and being so early in the morning, my stomach refused to take in anymore.
   -When I got out of the water, I ate one LaraBar, which then proceeded to throw up during the bike because I had too much water slouching around in my belly.

#2 Drink More
   -More water = less cramps

#3 Warm-Up the Right Way
   -I'm a swimmer first, which means I need a good 20-30 minute warm up in the water. I had about 15 minutes. I felt good, until about half way through the swim course when I no longer felt good.

#4 Listen to your wise training partner
   - When he tells you to swim until you can't swim anymore, then stand up. I didn't do that. I stood up too soon and had to fight off water past my knees until I got to the beach

Other than these four, I did well. First woman out of the water, and averaged 20.4mph on the bike. I was first overall aquabiker, got a wicked sunburn and tan line and had a lot of fun cheering my friends on. I learned and corrected for my next triathlon...Colonial Beach.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why I Chose Triathlon

A few months ago I posted "Why Swim" listing the reasons why I have and continue to put my body through intense training and hours of waking up before the crack of dawn to jump in a cold pool, why I don't shave my legs for months on end...the list goes on. (That's why I wrote it). So what made a swimmer like myself make the change and enter the world of triathlon?

Lately, I've been getting asked why I chose triathlon. Do people not think the progression of swimmer to triathlete is an appropriate jump, or at my age I should be focusing on other things? I'll tell you my reasons, and maybe you'll consider a life of awesomeness.

I think that everyone begins triathlon because of one person or one challenge. I began for both reasons. My sister, Julie Patterson, was THE person who brought me to the sport. After years of sneaking into transitions as her 'coach', making matching coach and athlete t-shirts, and watching her succeed, I think I was ready for it. My first 6 sprints were because of her, then came college and a busy collegiate swimming career, so my triathlons stopped. Then came the challenge....

Coming from a swimming background, I know what commitment and dedication is. I know what it's like to look at a workout and have your heart crushed, but through the thought of getting better, you put those feelings aside and you put your head down and swim. I know my body and I know my psyche. My body craves the workouts, the repetition and the constant conditioning to get your body to a point where you'll be able to hold up in a competition. In simpler terms, my body craves a challenge. My mind craves that competition. Although my mind craves it, it also doubts it. It doubts the ability of my body to overcome the competition and do well with the challenge. (I'm working on that!) So being able to know this about myself, I was able to find a sport that offers both things; competition and a challenge. Triathlon certainly offers both:

What a better way to challenge your body by throwing in two additional sports to swimming? My workout plans typically consist of 15-17 hours of workouts, on top of my 40 hour a week work week. Not only is it a challenge for your body, it's a challenge to stay on top of things. Are you a multi-tasker or planner? You could be if you want to try triathlon. It's a busy life, it challenges you in more ways than one. But along with the challenge comes the sacrifices you must take in order to achieve your goals. What are you willing to give up within your week to fit in that 5 hour long ride? Are you willing to give up something for that 5 hour long ride? Back to commitment and dedication. I've given up a lot for the sports that I love. For triathlon, sacrifices are certainly another challenge.

What better race offers a competition where hundreds of people are on the course with you?
The triathlon community provides one of the best I have seen in my years. If you are hurting on the bike or run, people will motivate you, cheer you on and urge you to keep going. However, with that community still comes a great competition. People will swim on top of you to get better positioning in the water. People will race you, people will push you and people will challenge you, giving you the best competition you can get. Because you know what? There are a lot crazier people out there in the triathlon world than you, and they want to be the best.

If you're not in it for the competition, though, that's okay, too. Triathlon is home to the competitive and the just for funners, the young, the old, the experiences and the novice Every race has something to offer an athlete.

Breakdown of my race:
The swim is easy for me. I have a special connection with the water. The water just makes me feel so alive and at home, it's easy to move through and fly by people. The part I struggle with is knowing people are on my feet. Not okay in the pool, so that mentality transfers to open water. People touch my feet, I kick them off my feet. I see people out of the corner of my eye, I dart ahead of them. I want to be my own swimmer...I should probably learn how to effectively draft, though.

The bike has certainly grown on me and its to the level that the water is, now. Being on a bike, staring only slightly ahead at the road, or wheel, in front of you, feeling the wind move past you is a wonderful experience, because you know your legs keep you moving. Your legs are hammering the pedals beneath you...speechless. Nothing better than completing a 50-100 mile ride and just feeling so accomplished.

Now, my run. Never in my life had I said, "I like running," until I couldn't do it anymore. My run was getting really good and I was confident I could do well in the triathlons, until I over pushed and got myself injured. It's a hard road back and it takes a lot of mental toughness, which is fading fast on me. I want to run. I want to train bricks, because I want to be the great athlete my coach knows I can be. But my coach believes in me, and I am on the right path to an injury free athletic life, so keep pushing, keep doing the right things and I will be getting back to running soon. (Fingers crossed)

Why I chose triathlon:
With the right dedication and commitment, the want for a challenge and the competition, triathlon chose me, I did not choose it.

The Importance of Community Dinners

Imagine working a long day. You're tired, you're probably grumpy and you're hungry. By the time you get home, changed out of work clothes, you're checked your mail and make it to the kitchen, you find 1) frozen meat and fresh vegetables that would take you 30 minutes to an hour to make something with or 2) eggs, fruit and cereal. You opt for option number 2, the quick and easy route. However, you continue to choose option two until you realize it's not longer healthy for you--eating the same bland meal (and by now you're probably out of fruit). Not to mention the fact you have only talked with your roommates or your dog briefly before everyone scrambles to their next thing for the evening, leaving you to seclude yourself to eat dinner in  front of the TV or computer or with your phone out. This is not the ideal community dinner.

Growing up, even now when I go home, dinner was a time to turn technology off, sit down at the table with each other and chat about how our days went and what was going on in the world. It allowed us to take breaks from eating, opposed to stuffing our faces quickly so we could do whatever needed to be done that night. It was a community environment that allowed us to eat good and healthy food. (My mom even made us switch off who cooked dinners every so often).

This being said, I am so blessed and thrilled to have people in my life who see the importance of eating healthy (or just really want free food). Whether be once or twice a week, I am able to make or eat a delicious home cooked meal and have that community feel. It started with just three and now has grown to five or six people. We are all athletes who understand the importance of good food, but even though we are all busy with work, school and training, somehow make time to share dinners together.

So do you have community dinners? If you don't, I challenge you to strive to do so. Share your recipes or a funny story from dinner. Enjoy the food and the people, for every gathering is a blessing.