Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Under Water

Swimming is going great!  Everything else is...

First the good news, swimming is going well.  I am getting stronger and a feel for the water again.  What is most encouraging for me is being able to swim Medley and actually hold my spot in the lane.  Typically in the past I would be able to keep up for fly, fall back for back and breast and then sprint the free to make the pace time.  Tonight I was able to take it easy during the back stroke and was still able to stay on pace.  Very exciting!

For as good as my swimming is going cycling is not going at all.  I have little desire to get on my bike even though once I am on my bike I have a great time and enjoy my rides.  This is my classic issue with cycling, I cannot manage to get on my bike.  I need to whip my butt in gear and get training.  June will be here soon!

Happy Training!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Process

I often hear the phrase "trust the process" but what about enjoying the process?

I am a very goal directed person and the goal or outcome is what motivates me to work hard.  Whether it is at work or at play I usually like to have a goal to work towards and I trust the process to get to that goal.  What I am trying to do now is enjoy the process.

I have to be honest, I enjoy training.  For me the challenge is not being able to train as hard as I want.  I am not fit enough yet to push the way I like to and this causes me to get frustrated with the progress I am not making.  I find myself wondering if I will ever get to the point where I can push myself to total exhaustion and then complete another interval and then run home.  The process that I am trusting at the moment can quickly turn to torture when I ask my body to go and it just cannot.  I need to be kind to myself, smile and enjoy the process.

There is more to enjoying the process than just maintaining my sanity for the months it takes to get fit enough to train how I want to.  The last few races I competed in were not enjoyable for me.  I was focused on the outcome of the race to the exclusion of everything else I was doing.  I was not enjoying the training or appreciating the work I was doing.  I was not satisfied with blistering fast workouts as I was distracted by the prospect of upcoming big races.  I wanted to win and that was my focus.  I decided I would not be happy unless I won and when I did not win I was miserable.  I did not enjoy the process and when the outcome was not to my liking all the work I had done seemed pointless and stupid.  If I enjoy the process and appreciate what my body is able to do then by the time race day comes around I have already had success.  I still want to compete well and by enjoying the process the outcome will be the cherry on top of the delicious ice cream sundae.

I wish I could put process into other parts of my life however the concept is not necessarily universal.  After a couple years of making a concerted effort to get a boyfriend and facing failure at every turn I cannot think of a process to embark upon let alone one that I could enjoy.  Cleaning is a process I detest though the outcome is always satisfying.  Laundry is the worst chore ever.  That process is something that will never be enjoyable.  I am fortunate to love my job/profession so I can report I love the process of work.

I very much focused on enjoying the process this weekend with a 3 hour BRICK (2.5 hours cycle, .5 hour run), a great 3600 m swim workout Saturday night, spin and weights Sunday morning and 2500 m in the pool in the evening.  Today is my normal day off but I felt like running when I got home from work so I listened to my brain and went for a super 6 mile run.  I still run the same pace as always as I ran an old route and checked my watch at my normal pace spots.  I do not have the endurance but it is good to know I still have the easy pace for running.

I am getting into the rhythm and trying to enjoy the process!

Happy Training!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pool Time

Hard workout in the pool.

I swam 2600 meters of free and fly and I am tired.  Now that I look at that sentence it is a bit depressing that such a short workout made me this tired.  I cannot get discouraged yet as I am only 3 weeks into swimming after a considerable break.

Although the workout was not that long it certainly was intense.  This was my first real hard (I think I am going to drown) workout in a long time.  I made all the times easily and honestly pushed myself harder than the pace times dictated.  I am not swimming the hardest, fastest workouts yet but hopefully I will be close to the fast lanes in a few months.

I dropped my handlebars on my bike.  Time to get into race position while training.

Happy Training!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Peaks and Valleys

That darn bike!

All the time I did triathlon when I was younger I hated cycling.  It was something that broke up my two loves, swimming and running.  Now I find myself already bailing on rides, what gives?

I think the issue is, I am tired of training alone.  Most of the training I have done in my life has been alone.  Day in and day out I pounded the pavement, by myself, for all my long runs and off day runs.  Even while I was in university and living with runners I still ran alone for my long runs, especially during the summer and once in grad school.

Moving out to Vancouver meant that I knew not a single soul who could run with me for my long runs.  I run too fast for most people's comfort.  With cycling speed is not the issue.  Lack of speed is the issue.  I fall between the two types of cycling groups you will find in the city.  I'm faster and more competitive than the recreational groups while too slow for the cyclist groups.  I have a few friends who ride however getting anyone to commit to anything is difficult.  I continue to ride alone.

At one point in my life it was my dream to meet a gay man who could either swim open water, cycle or run.  In my pipe dream we would meet at a race and he would fall in love with me just as quickly as I would fall in love with him.  I cannot think of a more amazing thing than to be able to do what I love most with the person I love most.  The dream has mostly died (to be honest with my dating history the dream of a boyfriend has died too) though there is a flicker of a hope.  Of course there is no evidence for this hope but one must keep dreaming.

Tonight was my first short course swim workout in a really long time.  Backstroke and freestyle and lots of kick were on the menu tonight.  If my cycling is less than inspired I can report I am really enjoying being in the water and swimming with my club.  It is nice to be in the water with old friends and lots of gays!

Happy training!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

And It Begins!

Training weekend one is completed!

I have said goodbye to the average world and hello to world of a training athlete.  I am excited to have goals and workouts to look forward to.  I am mostly excited to be back to the person I am.  I feel like I am back to my true authentic gay athletic self, and it feels great!

There is the saying "you don't know what you've got till it's gone" and in my case it is my fitness.  I have not been kind to my health over the last couple of years living the gay life.  Going out and partying while concentrating on the beautiful body rather than the functional body has meant that what once was easy is now difficult.  My brain feels great but my body is tired!  Workouts are hard and running is very difficult.

My issue with running at the moment is that my muscle memory dictates that I am on my toes with quick turnover and a driving stride.  This alone is not an issue but since I do not have either the endurance nor the cardiovascular function to maintain the workload, my body starts to breakdown during my limited amount of running.  In my current 4 month block of training my focus is on cycling and swimming though I worry I will not have time to get my running ability back.  I need to trust that it will come back as the most pressing issue is learning to ride a bike fast.

I have had my Cannondale for less than a year now and he is going to be my steady boyfriend.  I am going to be getting on top of him for some hard and long rides.  It is a good thing I am in love.  Compared to my old bike my C Dog is like heaven.  I finally understand how people are willing to spend 5 or 6 hours on a bike.  I am not looking forward to those long rides however I know with my trusty two wheeled lover I will manage just fine, though it is a long way off.

I had a great mental moment in the pool tonight during cool down with my swim club, English Bay Swim Club.  As tonight was the first workout of the year it was low tempo with the focus on technique.  I was thinking to myself that I needed to do more and was contemplating going out for a ride after I got home.  The urge to work more after a workout is a sure sign that I have prepared well this summer to train hard but also that my mind is ready to go.  I have had a few false starts with training but I really believe that I am ready to work hard.

The first few months will be the most difficult as I will have ups and downs as my body and mind adjust.  As I push myself into the depths I need to go to be my best I will get sad and upset when my aging body does not respond as I think it should.  I will need to be gentle with myself (and patient with others) as I pursue my Ironman goal.

I had hoped that by now I would have a real boyfriend to help me through those moments when things do not feel right or are not going how I had hoped.  The dream has not happened and I continue to venture through this world without the support and love of a romantic relationship.  Being back into my bubble of selfish focus means the prospects are again going to be limited.  A prospective mate will have indulge my eccentric and alternative triathlete lifestyle.  In the gay world he will have to be truly one of a kind (just like me!).

Happy Training!



Sunday, August 25, 2013

One Week To Go

I have one week until I really begin training again.

It has been an interesting summer of trying to get back into the rhythm of life as an athlete in preparation for actually becoming an athlete again.  I spent a week at home in the Maritimes which helped get the feeling for training again as I had the time to run and swim without work or the city to get in the way.  I even had the chance to swim an open water workout with the PEI Canada Games Triathlon Team.  I was very excited to be able to keep up with the guys and girls without a wetsuit!

I have been thinking quite a bit since getting to the city from the Maritimes about life and where I want to be.  Without a partner or family or property grounding me anywhere I always have the opportunity to move whenever I want.  With the option of moving always present it offers the opportunity to escape when I feel a bit sad or down on myself.  This morning was one of the those mornings when I felt like Vancouver has become like a home for me.

I swam just over 1500 metres this morning (in a few short months that will be four km...).  What is most encouraging for me is running into a few people from my swim club at the pool and having a great chat with quite a few of them.  When I get away from sport I miss the friendships I have within the sports I have loved so much.  I got a few updates on swim team and already it is time for summer break to be over.  The registration party is this week and I am excited to reconnect with old friends, coaches and maybe make some new friends.

I am also excited to get some rhythm and routine back into my life.  I will have my Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday swim workouts and five cycling workouts a week for the first three or four months of training.  My Saturdays are going to be quite the day as I hope to BRICK in the morning and have a hard swim workout in the evening.  I am going to be quite the sight to behold for the first few months.  Hopefully my body and mind will not fall apart.

My vacation from sport is really coming to an end and I am getting excited!

Happy Training!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Building Base

I am actually starting to get a bit fit again!

After false start after false start I am beginning to get consistent with training and working out.  It is a challenge to fit everything I want into each day though it is nice to be busy.  By the time I head to bed I almost fall asleep before my head hits the pillow.

Triathlon training takes a lot of time.  As a former runner I am accustomed to spending long hours pounding away on the trails and pavement to get in shape to race.  Triathlon presents a whole other time commitment beyond anything one can imagine.  I am not fit enough yet to be able to spend hours on my bike followed by running and stretching and drills and strengthening, but I am starting to get close.  My plan to start real training in September is still on track!

I anticipate some difficulty managing between my social life and my athletic pursuits.  When I was training hard for running the only thing I had ever really done as an adult was train and go to school/work.  I am still allowing myself to skip workouts in favor of going out and having social time with friends however I am skipping second planned workouts.  I am managing to slip primary workouts into mornings and around other activities.  Pretty soon skipping second workouts will not be possible. 

There is another important variable I anticipate having to balance.  I am dating a really great man.  I find it interesting that the couple years I took away from sport to be gay and find a boyfriend resulted in a lot of disappointment.  Once I really started to commit to training I met a guy.  It is still the early stages (reality check, very early) and it is very exciting!  He even rides a bike!

Today's workout
Swim: approximately 2 km open water
Weights: chest and legs

Tomorrow's goal
Bike hill workout (first one...)

Happy Training

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Bike Fit

What a few months!

Since last writing I have been to Thailand, started a get in shape plan and spent the last three weeks with strep throat.  Needless to report that I am very happy to be finished my antibiotics and feeling healthy.

One quick note about Thailand.  When I was in the North of the country, Chaing Mai, I only wanted to be there on a triathlon training camp.  There were many cyclists, I was staying close to a beautiful outdoor 25 m pool and the hot weather was perfect for my achy running bones.  My next trip to Thailand will be with a bike and a few training partners!

Today I finally got fitted to my bike.  It was my first bike fitting and it was very educational.  I learned that technically I am a terrible cyclist (my interpretation of the physio's feedback) but also that my bike was not set up for me to have optimal power and efficiency.  With the new set up my body is in a position to generate power while still maintaining comfort for long rides.  I also got some great technique tips that I focused on during my ride home.  My legs are destroyed though as I am recruiting new muscles to move me.  Hopefully this will also remedy some back issues I have been having while training. 
I am very excited to ride!

Historically I could be described as a terrible cyclist.  I can swim and I love being in the water.  Running is something I was born to do and it has always been my strongest event.  Cycling never really appealed to me as it always took too long, was uncomfortable and I sucked.  Hopefully now that I am on a bike that is comfortable (love my Cannondale!) and is fitted to me I will be off and training.

I am content moving forward with triathlon.  As I have a full time career (which I love!!!) I need to figure out how to get workouts completed during the day without training late into the night.  Regardless I need to be at work for 8 and I need lots of sleep.  Cycle commuting will help however I want to run and swim and do weights too.  The thing is, I do not want to go crazy working out a million times a day while also having a full time job and a social life (lame social life but I need to maintain it!).

Until September I am going to pull myself back from the gay party life and try and get back into thinking of myself as an athlete rather than former athlete.  I want to have improved fitness so that I feel athletic and fit.  I derive a significant amount of self esteem from being a good athlete and I would like to continue this.

It is going to be a slow process but I am hoping that this time next year I may be a gay triathlete who is ready to compete!

Happy Training!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Goal Setting For a Former Athlete

It has been a long time since I have sat down and set some goals.

I am a very goal oriented person and I like to have a target.  The last two years have felt a bit aimless with the vague goal of wanting to get a better body and be 'more gay' (whatever that means?).  Through all the years I have competed I have had very specific goals from long term (run sub 31) to short term (2:12 for the last 800 in the set of 5).  I am very good at achieving my goals and now it is time to evaluate my current status and where I see myself in the next few months and years.

I know I have one big goal and that is Ironman Canada.  The question I have is how do I get there?

In less than two weeks I am going to Thailand and then it will be time to stop my aimless time away from endurance and set some short term goals to accomplish my long term goal of completing Ironman (I cannot do anything half-assed so I will be training hard to be in the best possible shape when I finally hit that start line).  I am nervous thinking of the work that lies ahead but I think the reward and the tattoo will be well worth the effort.

I have had a few false starts on this goal but I need to start training soon before I forget how to swim, bike and run.  A couple weeks of fun in the sun then a nice summer of laying some ground work for hard training.

I am dreaming of Hawaii which means a lot of work!

Happy Training!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

New Body=New You

I'm feeling the power of 20 pounds.

I have had a few false starts wanting to train for a triathlon.  Swimming was great and I got sick and went away for Christmas.  Cycling was good but the weather changed and running.  Running never really got going again.

The consistent element over these past few months has been the gym and my dedication to gaining muscles and strength.  It has felt good to gain weight and I am noticing a difference.  I like how I look.  I like how I feel.  I feel good about myself and it shows through in my interactions with others.  Men notice me now.  It is a good thing.

I have always struggled with the differing pressures in my life as a gay athlete.  The voice of my coach and teammates telling me to stay thin, lean and light clashing with the men I find so attractive who would not show me the whites of their eyes for fear of an awkward silence or an unwanted flirtation.  Now that I am not competing or training I feel the best I have ever felt about my body.  I feel strong and hot.

Though I am feeling good about myself and am pleased with the direction my life has taken me I still have what I consider unfinished business.  I have not completed Ironman.  This is a dream of mine and something I want to complete in the next few years.  How do I balance my competitive nature with the freedom I have found being a normal person and not an athlete?

I have returned to the pool.  I have been skate skiing (a lot).  I am itching to get on my bike for a good long ride.  I am still in the gym.  I am eating enough.  I feel good.  The stop start journey continues.

Happy Training!