Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Week of Firsts & Triathlon Love

This past week sure was an exciting one!  My boyfriend began a new job with an extremely successful company, I started teaching spinning classes at my gym and finished the week by competing in my second triathlon of the 2012 season on Saturday.

I originally joined the YMCA in 2008 after I started working at a law firm in downtown Indianapolis.  As much as I wish I enjoyed morning workouts, I never feel awake enough to put full effort into my workouts in the morning (plus I'm just not a morning person in general!).  So, I started packing a gym bag and heading to the Y straight from work.  Our employee parking lot just so happens to be the gym's parking lot, so it couldn't be more convenient to go straight there.  As I've mentioned before, my commute is a long one, and I've found that no matter how intent I am on going for a run or getting in a good kick-boxing sesh, if I come home to change, it just doesn't happen.  I'm down for the count once I step foot in the front door.  I am much more successful and consistent with my weekly workouts if I start them immediately upon leaving the office.  Along with becoming fitter, I've met truly great friends through the YMCA, and now I look forward to going there every day, even if it's to kick my own butt.  ;)

The YMCA at the Athenaeum in Indy

Shortly after joining, I decided to try something I had never done before - spinning!  I remember thinking two things during my first class: I am going to have a heart attack, and this is freaking awesome.  Sidenote: walking up and down stairs after that first class was quite challenging.  ;)  If you've never been to a cycle class, here's what you can expect.  The classes are usually 60 minutes of intense cardio set to music, and each song is a different "set."  So, for one song you're climbing out of the saddle at a hard resistance, and then you're sprinting on and off for another.  The classes can vary by gym and by each instructor's personal style and taste in music, but that's the general gist.  Did I mention it's awesome?!  :)  No, really, it is.  That class alone got me back in shape, and at the same time, I discovered how much I love cycling.  I trained for my first triathlon in that class and eventually bought a road bike.  Cycling is hands-down my soul mate workout, as my friends like to say.  Call me crazy, but I love every sweaty, heart-pumping minute of it.  I've been taking cycling classes for years now, and I feel SO fortunate to be able to teach a form of exercise that I love and believe in.  I feel like it's an opportunity to pay it forward and give to others what the YMCA has given to me.

The awesome gym where I teach, the YMCA Indy Bike Hub! 
As you can see, it's truly in the heart of the city :)

The view from my bike in the sweet cycling studio.  Check out those windows! 

My very first class was this past Tuesday, and even though I was extremely excited, I was also pretty nervous.  Who wouldn't be?!  It's like public speaking, except while working out, which is definitely not an easy task.  My nerves subsided once I got going and felt more comfortable, and the class went smoothly from there.  My one and only rider that day gave me some great feedback and encouragement and even said he'd be back for more, so I was pleased.  My second class was on Thursday, and that time around I had five people show up to spin with me!  They all rode hard and made it a great class.  You may not know it when you're participating in a class, but your energy and the synergy of the group really creates an electricity in the air that you can see and feel when you're teaching.  I definitely felt that energy on Thursday, and it made me excited to continue improving as an instructor and to hopefully teach a FULL class someday soon. 

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:45-6:45 p.m., lend me your legs and come spin with me!  :D

Another major highlight of my week was participating in the Triton Brewing Series Muncie Triathlon on Saturday.  When I have a race on the horizon, it's in the forefront of my mind all week.  I made sure to rest (especially because I'm still recovering from that nasty cold), eat the right things to really fuel my body, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  

A typical lunch

My go-to dinner at Noodles & Company - Bangkok Curry with tofu and a side salad
[Anyone who knows me could attest to the fact that I don't like to eat out a lot, mainly because I like to cook meals myself and actually see all of the ingredients.  When I do eat out, I look up the nutrition facts beforehand so that I can make an informed decision about what to order.  Most places have healthy options.  It's just a matter of finding those items on the menu.]

The morning of the race started bright dark and early with a 4 a.m. wake up call and meeting up with my friend and fellow tri-warrior Maria at 5 a.m.  We loaded our bikes and various gear into her sweet Jeep, and off we went to Selma, Indiana.

My chauffeur for the day ;)

One benefit of getting up so early to race: witnessing some beautiful sunrises

The sun coming up over the reservoir 

We arrived at 6:30 a.m., picked up our race packets, got our arms and legs marked, and began setting up in transition.  The transition area is essentially home base during the race.  Everyone's bikes are racked, and you lay out your shoes, race belt, fuel gels, waterbottles, etc. in a small designated area.  The order of a triathlon is swim, bike, run, and you return to transition after the swim to grab your bike, and then a second time to re-rack your bike and switch your gear before the run.  Transition is often referred to as the fourth sport of a triathlon because the goal is to get in and get out as fast as possible, since the time spent there is included in your overall race time.  Sometimes I'm fast in transition, and other times I've looked at my final times and realized I nearly took a nap in transition.  It's so important that I literally practice changing my shoes and switching my gear in my own driveway when I'm training just to get a feel for how fast I should be moving.  I'd eventually like to race sock-less and switch out my lace-up shoes for shoes that I can just slip on, but those items are on my tri gear wish list for now.  :)

My setup

Transition filling up

Ready to race!

Spinning is my soul mate workout, and triathlons are my soul mate race.  This race was either my 7th or 8th triathlon - I've done a handful over the past few years and have lost count! - but I still felt a sense of complete awe at the start of this race.  There's just nothing else like 'em.  There is so much respect and camaraderie between the athletes.  As you're setting up, you're chatting with others about the race course, and as you're standing line in for the port-o-let, you're wishing each other a fun and safe race.  Between labored breaths, you're saying, "Nice job!" and "Almost there!" to fellow runners, even as they're passing you.  You cheer each other on.  There's a strong sense of unity as you stand in line with your feet in the sand, looking out at the water, because whether you're doing the sprint or 70.3 miles, you're all in this together.  I always feel as though I'm riding on a roller coaster approaching its first descent when I'm waiting to start the race.  Your adrenaline is pumping, and you're full of nervous excitement as you visualize what you're about to experience and accomplish.  Triathlons are one of those crazy human events.  Sometimes I'm not sure why I willingly sign up for something that inevitably evokes pain, but during each race, I'm reminded that it's because it makes me feel ALIVE.

 Tri buddies :)

 Maria heading out on the run portion of her first Olympic Tri

Looking strong in the last quarter mile of her 6.2 mile run!  Heading UPHILL towards the finish!

I'll take one of these, please ;)
Someday I'll own a Cervelo... 

Shot of the chute - I saw a runner remove his hat as he was running under the flag

All finished and all smiles!  (I know you're jealous of my sweet sunglasses.) 
Maria KILLED it!  Olympic for her (sub-three hours!!), sprint for me.  
Can't wait for our next big race together - the Lifetime Chicago Triathlon in August!

All in all, the race was a success.  Even though my time was a little slow, I still had a BLAST throughout the entire race.  My advice to newbie triathletes is always to have fun!  Don't get me wrong, each race is a challenge (as it should be).  There are times when you get kicked in the head, get a mouthful of lake water, nearly fall into other riders as you're dismounting at the transition line, and deal with side cramps on the run, but overall, each race is truly a blast.  This race was no different.  The water was warm, the bike route was full of rolling hills around the reservoir, and the run was a nice out-and-back close to the water.  A few years ago, I received an email from a dear college friend asking if anyone would be interested in trying a triathlon with her, and I'm SO glad that I said yes!  It's become such a huge passion of mine, and I'm looking forward to the rest of this season and many, many more races in years to come.  Whatever you do, say YES to trying something new.  What do you have to lose?  I can only think of things that I've gained by doing triathlons: friends, memories, fitness, and continually pushing myself to new limits.  Now that's what I call living.  :)

Do you recognize the girl in pink on the left? ;)

My next triathlon is right around the corner - next Saturday - but for now, it's time for a little relaxation in the sun :D

1 comment:

  1. I'd like to try a spinning class sometime! Maybe I'll see if Aimee is down to try it with me.