The past few days I have battled sleep. I feel like I have gone back to college days of late nights and horrible sleep. I walked through Monday with the foggiest, heaviest mind. I need a solid 8 hours of sleep and definitely notice when I’ve gone to bed even an hour later than normal.
In an effort of silencing my anxious mind and body I went to a yoga class at the local Lululemon tonight. The theme of the night was mindfulness. Focusing on the moment and training your mind to release thoughts which is something I struggle against. I replay moments and scenarios continually in mind analysing whether my words or actions were the most effective. Though I do love my analytical mind, having the ability to turn it off and have silence is something I crave.
Here are ways I try to battle the never-ending thoughts and ultimately find peace and sleep:
Running – when I’m pushing through hills or sprints I am putting my whole self into that moment. I’m actually running the stress and anxiety out of my body. At the end of a good run, though I feel shattered I also have a weightless feeling which follows me throughout my day.
Yoga or a few sun salutations – going to a great yoga class or through a few sun salutations helps to center my body and breathing. Even sitting and focusing on your breathe will help ease tension.
Cup of tea – I’m a tea fanatic but the best to help me relax is peppermint. We have a mint plant, though it’s struggling currently, and I will crunch a few leaves and steep in hot water. Peppermint tea also has health benefits from headaches to stomach issues.
Foam rolling – I hold a lot of tension in my back, shoulders and neck. Using the foam roller or a tennis ball to provide pressure and release the tension allows a deeper relaxation
Focusing on solid white – this is something J had me do while at Uni to help calm my mind and sleep. I tend to have very vivid thoughts and dreams so when I am trying to fall asleep I will focus on a white sheet covering all thoughts & images. It’s basically like I’m pulling a shade down behind my eyelids and only focusing on keeping the shade down.
Any other tips of relieving anxiety and finding sleep?
As J and I have signed our lives away to training for the next 8 months documenting my weekly training activities will not only keep me accountable but also provide documentation of my Ironman 70.3 journey. The majority of my training will be with a local triathlon group who will provide the structure and coaching at each session.
Monday: swim 2.8km in 1 hour 8 min. This was a morning squad swim session where we tried to focus on timing and speed endurance drills.
Tuesday: Track sprint session 10k in 1 hour. This session focused on building speed with every lap for 2km, resting and repeat. I wasn’t sure I was following the goal of increasing speed each lap but once I was home and looked at my data I was pretty happy with the effort.
Wednesday: Cycle Hills in the park 17km in 51 minutes. As I slept in for Tuesday morning hill session with the team, I went and did a hill session in the park on my own. I did one flat lap and then 3 hill loops and then rode home which is up another hill so 4 hill climbs.
Thursday: Rest day! I had a work event so when I got home I had just enough time to throw together a mexi bowl for dinner, watch an episode of House of Cards and go to bed!
Friday: stroke correction 2km in 1 hour 18 minutes. Stroke correction has improved not only how I swim but the distance I can swim without stopping. I’ll post soon about my swim experiences! I’m trying to focus on building my upper body strength so I can get more power from my stroke. I also have a bad case of lifting my head too much…so that’s a battle.
Saturday: Cycle 34km, run 10.5km, ocean swim 2km – all completed in about 4 hours. Saturday is our big training day with a two hour cycle session followed immediately by an hour run session. The cycle was a 10km time trial and the run session was interval training in the park. The ocean swim was the first time I swam laps at Bondi Beach which is quite scary as it’s open and clear water! Especially for a North Carolinian girl raised in the mountains! I finished 4 laps parallel to the beach for a total distance of 2km. I only saw fish at the very end of the swim which I’m quite happy about particularly since this was my first swim in the ocean since the shark!
Having a type A personality has it’s pros and cons. As I’m constantly analyzing every situation and playing out the possible outcomes in my head, when it comes to breaking down a race I’ll say it’s a pro! (I’m basically Griffin from MIB3 minus the crazy glowing head thing)
Here are a few things I learned from my first triathlon:
1. Transition is still a race. I obviously knew this was part of the overall race time but I only practiced changing from cycle to run a couple times. Coming in from the swim dripping wet after running through sand and then dirt, I wanted my feet and legs completely dry and sand free before the cycle. It’s not going to happen! For the next race, I’ll spray some water on my feet, step on a towel to get as much of as possible in 10 seconds and ride without socks. I can worry about socks when my feet are drier in T2 before the run.
2. If you drop your bottle stop immediately to grab it. This could be a debatable point but if I would have stopped when it fell and used 30 seconds at the start rather than stressing for 15k I think my overall time would have been faster. Hopefully I don’t have to test this theory!
3. A proper warm-up swim is the best thing to settle nerves. Our coach said the best triathletes have a warm up swim before racing, so about 15 minutes before the start of the race we headed down to the water’s edge. The gloomy morning and knotted stomach was keeping me from plunging in but I pushed myself in and swam out 50 meters. We spent a few minutes treading water as coach chatted to us about the start of the race before swimming a few more 50 meter lengths. Once we finished the initial warm up, the water no longer had the initial icy chill, I was moving with the current rather than fighting it and the ball of nerves had turned into excitement and adrenaline.
Post race photo
4. Having a support group or team cheering for you at the finish is ideal! I ran the Canberra Half Marathon in 2012 by myself. J had just started a new job and was on a project about 12 hours away. My boss at the time was running the race and let me tag along to their dinner the night before but for the most part I was alone the entire preparation, race and post-race. That was a very internal race with only the thoughts of saying “I ran a half marathon” waiting for me at the finish line. This was the first race where I had a team at the finish and where J was able to see me multiple times throughout the race and cheer me on. It makes a huge difference to the mental side of racing….which is a much bigger challenge than the physical aspect!
What are some things you learnt from your first race?
Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. -Earl Nightingale
Yesterday the Western Sydney Ironman 70.3 opened registration to the public. At 12pm Sydney time, J and I put in our credit card number and pressed submit. I’m not sure if it’s soaked in yet but I now know what I’ll be doing the next 9 months…training!
The race is on 30 November in Western Sydney at the Sydney International Regatta Centre where many of the 2000 Sydney Olympic events were held.
In the words of J: “Does a half ironman and a half ironwoman make a full ironman?”
who else is training for a 70.3 or for any events that are scary?
First Triathlon complete! Crossing the finish line with my name being announced seemed surreal. It was one of those moments where you see the world moving at a faster pace while you are in slow motion. As I came to a stop at the edge of the finisher’s mat a guy was huddled by my ankles taking my timing chip off, I somehow remember to stop my watch. I then hear the familiar whistle over the noise, commotion and announcer cheering on the finishers – I look over and see J beaming & waving with his camera. In that moment I thought “oh man, I’m doing this again.”
Let’s go back to the night before…
The past two weeks I’ve been battling a cold/flu and an awful case of tonsillitis. With about 5 or so days’ worth of penicillin in me, I decided as long as I felt ok I should give it a go. I knew if I didn’t at least attempt the race I would have regrets, plus I had already paid for the accommodation and the race! As the race was about 3.5 hours from home I had plenty of planning and checklist making to do before we drove down. After loading up the car with all my racing gear, snorkelling gear for post-race swim in Jervis Bay and fishing gear for J’s brother we headed out of Sydney. Anyone who lives in Sydney knows the pain of trying to get out of the city on a Friday evening especially when your destination is the South Coast. I had my (new) cooler bag packed full of snacks and a charged phone ready to chill out in the back seat for the long slow drive.
We stayed at the Palm Beach Caravan Park in Palm Beach which was about a 15 minute drive from Huskisson. A great little cabin ensuite with a comfy bed, hot shower and kitchen – everything I needed pre-race! Though I was on site less than 12 hours I was pleased with the late key pick-up, location and check out.
The rain started about midnight and was still coming down light and steady when we woke up at 6:30. I focused on having a stress free morning with a hot shower, bowl of weetbix + banana and double checking my transition bag. Checking in was a breeze – I was there right after the men’s race had started so there were no lines for packet pick-up or transition area. Once I was set up and covered my shoes with my spare towel (so happy I was over prepared) I had about an hour before the start. Just enough time to fill up with butterflies and have a warm up swim with the team! This was also when the rain stopped and clouds started parting hinting at the gorgeous day ahead.
Going into this race the swim was the leg I was most nervous about. Though I had swam much further in training, horror stories from the start line and overall first race nerves kept my thoughts busy. I did a warm up swim with the team which eased my nerves and assisted in swimming away the jitters. This was a deep water start and I was in the second wave so shortly after swimming out to the start line, the horn went off and the lime green capped age groupers were swimming. I kept to the right side of the pack and kept thinking “slow and steady” with each stroke. I had a few mouthfuls of water within the first 200 meters but once I hit the first buoy I was feeling good. I reached the second buoy quickly and then realized I was already on the stretch back. I was swimming stroke for stroke with other green capper so I made it my mission to beat her to shore! I was convinced we were the last two in our age group and I had to beat at least one person! As I ran up the beach toward T1, I heard J call my name and got a quick thumbs up and smile in.
Swim time: 18:54
Transition 1: 5:54
I’m not sure if it was the high of finishing my swim feeling great or I lost all sense of time but I spent an outrageous amount of time in T1. In my next race I will know not to assist the girl next to me when she is stuck trying to put on a sports bra wet!
My plan for the cycle was to stay steady and not push too hard. I was nervous of slick roads from the rain and pushing too hard while on antibiotics. The course was a fairly flat out and back ride. I saw J right as I started the ride and then again at then as I came back into town. Right after leaving town I dropped my water bottle which hit my wheel and shot out to the ditch. I spent the next 15 km stressing about the bottle. I was worried that it would be considered littering and I could get penalized or if I didn’t get it on my way back in J would be slightly aggravated since it was his new camelback! After the turn I focused on keeping my eyes open for the bottle which made the time go so fast but at the same time I think kept me from pushing myself faster. In the end I found the bottle and safely made it back for the final transition without a crash or flat tire!
Transition 2: 3:23
This one was a blur and I changed my socks and shoes, a few bites of my almond & date bar and a couple drinks of my water.
The run was also an out and back course along a running path. They had 2 water stations set up so we had 4 opportunities for water and some sort of energy drink. I stuck to the water and used the water stations as my walk breaks primarily because I am horrible at drinking water from cups while running! The run is where I finally started passing people. I knew I was far into the pack as I saw a few from my team who started a few waves behind me. As I came around the corner towards the finishing line I heard my team cheer and then heard my name called as I sprinted toward the finish.
This was a great first race as it was well organized with fantastic volunteers. I’m quite happy with my time though it is on the slower side. Having a slow first race means next race I should PR!
Any others out there who had to help a stranger into a sport’s bra in the middle of a race?