On the night before the Montana Women’s Triathlon a woman stopped and said hi to me at a community event. Recognition took a moment, but I smiled and said hi back. She and I had been high school cross-country teammates. Ofter her and I ran at similar paces and she motivated me through difficult workouts. I had forgotten she lived the town. The two of us caught up and I felt less stress about the impeding triathlon.
The next day as I puttered around the transition area trying not to let my nerves get the best of me they called for us to line up. Something had gone wrong with the timing system and they needed to rematch our bib numbers. In line I spotted a Voleé teammate who at the same time noticed me. We started to chat. I told her this would be my first time wearing the Voleé singlet. She told me there was magic in wearing the singlet the first time and mostly likely I would PR. The chat eased my nerves. During the run we passed each other on the course and high five. That little extra bit of seeing my teammate gave me a boost. And she was right about the magic. I had a PR.
Breath-I know how big of breath I need when I turn my head between strokes. When I run I focus on breathing out to breathing in enough air. During child birth classes they taught us to focus on our breath. A long time mentor of mine has spent a decade reminding me breath work is vital.
When I choose to race the Montana Women’s Triathlon I worried about my breath. I knew I wouldn’t do any altitude training. In many ways a foolish idea because I knew going up 4,000 feet would change how I breathed in all three disciplines.
I didn’t practice at a higher altitude until four days before the race. An article I read recommended arriving ten days in advance to acclimate. As I worked through my last brick my lungs reacted for the rich oxygen filled air to find thin Montana air. I felt light headed multiple times and after the adeline of the workout wore off I felt awful. Some of it was due to stress, but most due to the altitude. A bubble of panic laid heavy in my chest.
The next day my swim practice didn’t go much better. Not only was the air thin, but I needed to adjust to longer swim lanes -37 yards to 50 meters. When I finished I felt floating thinking I could complete this triathlon without more training. Even the reminder of why I wanted to do the race, something fun for me, was not enough to abate the panic.
When race day came I stood an awe as an 83 year old woman ran past me on her way to T-1. She’d been the part of the elite group of swimmers. Suddenly, a new life goal appeared to me if I lived to be old and healthy. As I waited in line for my turn to swim everyone in line cheered for swimmers as they exited the pool. This why I tri.
When my turn came I took a deep breath and crossed the timing mat. During the swim I forced myself to take 5 deep breaths every time I touched the wall whether I thought I needed them or not. I wanted my breath during the swim to be as normal as possible and the breaths on the wall helped. On the bike I felt fine. As I ran out of T-2 the air I thought would flow into my lungs didn’t. I felt the thinness of the air along with a severe hip flexor cramp. For a moment I panicked, however with time I focused on breathing out and running through the cramp. As I neared the finish a participant I passed yelled, “You go girl!” I grinned.
When I finished I had realized I had a 7 minute PR even though my run was slower then at the Beaver Freezer. Shock and elated, I laughed. I took a deep breath of thin Montana air excited to know I prevailed.
Ugh, I don’t keep meaning to go so long between posts. I need to work on being better at picking a day to post. This is going to be my resolution for the summer.
What am I up to next?
Competing in the Montana Women’s Triathlon in Helena on July 17th. The Beaver Freezer was so much fun and I’ll be in Helena anyway so I decided to sign up for another triathlon. I’ve been putting my energy into training for it.
Hiking for the week on the Pacific Crest Trail. As a teenager I was an avid backpacker and I’m excited for the opportunity to backpack again this August.
Competing in Beat the Blerch this September. Hopefully, I will be able to achieve my goal of running a sub 2 hour half marathon. Training for this event started this week and I’m excited to try out a new training plan.
A couple weeks ago I ran a 5k race in my hometown. While I have a goal of running a 5k in under 26 minutes the point of this race was to celebrate ten years of marriage. My husband and I planned to run the first mile together. Going into the race I knew I probably wouldn’t reach my goal. Being sick with a cold/fever all week I hadn’t ran at the higher altitude enough to adapt to it. Finally, I knew my first mile would be slower then my normal pace.
As I came around for the last 400 meters of the race the local ski mountain came into view. It dawned on me this was the first time in over 15 years I’d run a race in my home town. The truth of the statement caused tears to well up in my eyes. I felt a sob build in my chest. Quickly, I took a deep breath and the tears disappeared. I could run or I could cry. I couldn’t do both at the same time.
After I finished few tears trickled down my face. I wished I could transport myself back 15 years and chat with who I was back then. I’d tell me about how I would fall in love with running again. She’d be shocked to find out I fell in love with not just running, but swim/bike/run. I’d tell her so many adventures full of fun, heartache, and joy were in store. Most importantly, I’d tell her she’s okay then and she’ll be okay in the future.
Obviously, I can’t go back in time. Well if the Doctor shows up in the Tardis or I find a time-turner then I could… However, a part of me felt healed when I realized I raced again in my home town. A part of me I didn’t realize had broken.
“I can’t wait to meet my running buddy, hear what she thinks about the program, and share some of my running knowledge,’ I though as I peeled my way to the practice 5k for Girls on the Run. Several years ago I heard about the program and while it piqued my interest my calendar never worked with being able to volunteer for it. Finally, this spring I was able to participate as a Community Running Buddy for a local elementary school.
After I met the girl who I’d be running with the whole group took off for a practice 5k. She shared bits about her life and I told her mostly stories about when I was her age. Sometimes she needed to walk, which was fine. After a little bit of walking, I’d asked if she wanted to try running to a spot a short distance ahead. I’d congratulate her when we reached the spot. Also, every mile her coaches cheered her on and we would either high five or fist bump.
The day of the community 5k all the schools in the area participating in the program gathered together. On the way to the start I scooped out most of the course and mentally prepared how we could best attack the course. However, as the race started I realized I didn’t need to focus on what was ahead. Instead the girl I ran with focused on the now. She enjoyed participating in a 5k. Every mile she beamed when she received a special prize for completing that mile. As we crossed the finish line as cliche as it sounds I was proud of her accomplishment. Running a 5k is a big dealing.
In training and racing I find it is easy to think about what’s ahead, what’s my pace, how long did the transition take etc. All are important things to consider, but that is not why I decided to swim/bike/run. I do it because I enjoy the moments.
Happy Global Running day! Sorry, I haven’t been posting lately. I plan to fix that and will be posting much more regularly over the summer months. Have a great fun today!
When I came out of running retirement seven years ago I decided to run alone. Okay, that is not completely true. Part of the reason I came out of retirement was to deal with a huge life change by running a race with my husband. At the time it seemed romantic to restart running races in the town my husband met and fell in love. However, I trained for the race by myself and after the race I ran by myself.
It was odd I decided to run alone because I ran on a dynamic cross-country team in high school. When I’m honest the major reason I trained alone was because I felt embarrassed. I felt slow. I didn’t want witnesses to my sub-par running.
Six years later I still rarely ran with other people. Occasionally, I ran with my husband. When I trained for my first half marathon an old friend and cross-country teammate visited and we ran together a few times. Last year I ended up convincing that friend and my husband to participate in a 70.3 Ironman relay with me and received a little taste of what it was like to be on a team again.
My husband told me about Oiselle, a women’s running apparel company which embodied my beliefs about running. Scrolling with Oiselle’s website I found out about the Volée, a team and sisterhood of runners of all paces from across the globe. It piqued my interest, but at the time there was no way to join it.
Earlier last month a friend of mine and I discussed Oiselle and how awesome it would be to join the Volée. She sent me a message about conversation our conversation mid-April. I thought, “I’m going to email Oiselle and see if and when they would be expanding Volée membership. The worse is they could tell me no.” The next day I received an email inviting me to join the Volée. They literally had already planned to start inviting people the day after I sent the email. I giggled in disbelief of the coincidence in timing!
As I stared at the invite I realized how profoundly I missed being on a team. I’m excited to meet my fellow teammates! I’m looking forward to the adventures of being a Volée member. Head Up, Wings Out!