Hello, my name is Kristen, and I am a TRIATHLETE. Woot Woot!!! I kind of had to start with that because it’s somewhat of a big deal right now. Has it really been twelve days since I finished my first triathlon? Have I really spent the last week making a big dent in my couch, watching a lot of soccer (USA!) and movies and Orange is the New Black, sleeping, grading, submitting final grades, and trying to figure out which race to do next? Yes. Let’s face it, my journey as a triathlete has just begun.
With all of this down time I have had a lot of time to reflect on and digest everything that has happened over the past several weeks. I cannot even begin to express the gratitude that I have toward so many people, without whom this journey would not have become a reality. First and foremost, I have to thank my husband, Justin, for encouraging and supporting this dream and newfound happiness of mine. He has been incredibly selfless from the beginning and has been understanding in every way imaginable. He cooks for me almost every night (gourmet chef style), gives me massages, is patient and listens when I go though emotional training-related ups and downs, accepts my intense training schedule, and continues to be proud of everything I do and accomplish. He makes this all possible.
I am also incredibly thankful for my coach, Mike Larsen. How people train for endurance events, especially those who are new to the sport, without a coach baffles me. I have learned so much from him in a very short period of time. Mike’s passion for the sport, absurd amount of knowledge and expertise, and his desire to teach others, truly comes through during every interaction and conversation. He has never once put me down or made me feel incapable of completing something. In fact, it has been quite the opposite. From Mike, I feel as though I have already learned a lifetime’s worth of information, not only about triathlon, but also about character, balance, and facing challenges and goals as an athlete. I am going to continue to work hard to realize my full potential and transform myself into the athlete he believes I can be. I highly recommend the investment of a coach to anyone – it pays off tenfold.
To my family, friends, and all of you out there in the blogosphere who supported me along the way, I felt so motivated and encouraged by all the comments, messages, texts, and shout outs in the days leading up to and following my race. Meeting people through my blog has been amazing and I continue to learn from and be inspired by others experiences and stories. Thank you to my mom and Billy for making the journey over to Boise to cheer me on. Every ounce of that support gave me strength and perseverance.
My doctor advised me to take it easy after Boise. After returning home, I did absolutely nothing for the first week and am just now getting back into the swing of things. I had plans to do the Pacific Crest Half Ironman distance triathlon, but now have switched to the Olympic distance. I feel it will still be good practice and experience for open water swimming, transitions, and speed in a race environment. This race is a week from Sunday in beautiful Sunriver, Oregon.
I have also signed up for Ironman 70.3 Lakes Stevens, which is in August. My husband’s family lives in the Seattle area, so it will be nice to visit them as well. We are going up there for the 4th of July and will be staying on Camano Island which is close to Lake Stevens, so I will get to ride and run the course to familiarize myself with it prior to race day.
I will also be training and preparing for the Portland Marathon, which is on October 5. My goal is to not only PR but to quality for Boston. It will be interesting to see how I do given that my training style has completely changed over the year, but the cross training of swimming and riding should help.
What Will Change This Training Cycle?
Nutrition: I have struggled on and off with my nutrition. Heck, when I first started training for Boise I was NOT getting enough calories. This was a major change I needed to make → eat more! It sounds so simple, but sometimes I have a hard time eating 3000-4000 calories in one day. Because I need so many calories, I sometimes splurge on chocolate, sugar, or other “empty” foods that do not provide any value to my diet. Don’t get me wrong – my sweet tooth is not going anywhere. I will still enjoy the foods and sweets I love. I just need to employ moderation and balance. One of the things I am going to try to improve is eating several small meals throughout the day and keeping a food log to assure that I am eating enough.
Resistance and Rest: I will admit that I might have over-trained a bit during my first cycle. I have this awkward mindset that every effort and workout has to be my best, which I think wore me out a little. My coach puts very specific zones, speeds, and intervals on my schedule and when I don’t stick to the plan and decide to go “all out” it usually ends up biting me in the butt. I mean really, it’s just me out there. Why do I feel the need to race myself? During this go around I am really going to strive to stick to the schedule and go easy on easy days, and hard on hard days. No more running or biking fast (we can exclude swimming, because I couldn’t swim fast if I tried) just because I can. This will likely be the most difficult and challenging change, but one that I am going to take very seriously. Just yesterday while I was out on my bike ride, I yelled at myself on several occasions to simmer down and take it easy.
Sleep: I typically get about 7 hours of sleep a night, which is great and a lot more than many people, but there are times when I need more. Justin and I are both morning people and we love getting up early to start our day. This is when I get a lot of my work done and do a lot of my training. I am also an afternoon fader, meaning that I lose energy and momentum as the day goes on. Often times I feel as though an afternoon nap is needed, but I also feel guilty about sleeping in the middle of the day. Again, I would like to alter this line of thinking and get the rest my body needs. There will likely be more naps and a lot more rest (even if it’s laying poolside or under a shaded tree) from here on out.
Wind and Hills: The Lake Stevens bike course appears to be quite hilly and challenging. My goal this cycle is to integrate more hills into my bike routes and learn about how my body responds to different efforts and speeds. I also want to get out more when it is windy and learn to mentally cope with headwinds. This is a weakness. I was absolutely deflated in Boise when going up against 15mph headwinds for a majority of the course. I wasn’t prepared. The more I can ride in the wind and build that mental strength, the better off I will be if and when mother nature attacks during a race.
Open Water Swimming: Now that summer is here and the Cascade Lakes are looking more inviting, I want to do a lot more OWS and sighting. Right now my husband and I are working on getting him a wetsuit so he can come out and swim with me (which would be really nice). Plus, all of the local pools are now cluttered with swimming lessons, swim team practice, and masters. This puts a lot of restrictions on the times I can swim. I actually like open water swimming more anyway.
And there you have it. My thoughts, feelings, and goals right now and moving forward. Taking more than a week off really helped me relax and regroup. Now that I’ve been back in the pool, had a good shakeout run, and was able to get back on the saddle yesterday, I am feeling reenergized and ready to continue my training. The summer has only just begun!
What did you learn from your first race or triathlon that changed the way you train?
What is one thing that you are most looking forward to this summer that doesn’t involve racing or training?