... my journey from ballerina to triathlete

Saturday, April 13, 2013



I feel like in the hub-bub of moving, the fact that The Thing I've Been Training For for nearly four months is less than two weeks away has been nearly forgotten. "Eight days until the triathlon" should be in huge, bold, italicized letters everywhere I look, and instead I am having to remind myself how important it is that I eat right and avoid missing workouts. Long term has officially given way to short term.

This is what it looks like when you have no plan
In the spirit of not missing workouts, I began my morning day before yesterday with a 3.5 mile run and punctuated the afternoon with a half mile swim. Running here presents a new challenge simply because I have no established routes. Each time I set out with my GPS tracker in hand, ready to explore a new trail or road, and more often than not I find that it is not nearly as long as I would like it to be. This is evidenced in my strange, slightly crazy-looking route map. I took every road or trail that looked appealing, then doubled back when I realized that I had outrun my choice. Damn.

Even with my schizophrenic back-and-forth path, however, I loved every second of the run itself. The birds were singing, the landscape was too beautiful for words, and that early morning feeling had not yet worn off. The view was of glowing, green dewy pastures rolling down to the ocean, of long grass, dirt roads, and occasional wild fruit trees. My reward for this run was nearly running over three tiny, adorable wild piglets who immediately ran, jumped, and tumbled their way into the field. Mama Pig was kind enough to run after them rather than at me.

Running here, like biking here, is a different beast than it was on Oahu. There is no such thing as a flat course. I am already noticing differences, however, in how my legs feel as I push up the hills, and in the middle of a hill, something miraculous happened: My gait suddenly shifted from strenuous to easy, my legs seemingly propelled by some independent energy, no longer drawing on my limited strength. They seemed to move faster, more smoothly, with no obvious reason but that I had found my stride. It felt like shifting up in a car -- dropping RPM and strain and settling into a quiet, easy pace. I felt like I could have run forever.

I tried to capture it and memorize each detail of what my body was doing, but I guessed, correctly, that this joy would be fleeting. That was last week and I haven't gotten that feeling back yet, but knowing what is possible gave me a huge boost in my confidence. I know that at some point my body will once again find that stride and, with tim, adopt it permanently. Then, perhaps, I will be able to truly call myself a runner. Until then, I'll just have to enjoy the scenery...

That slope is graph-speak for "you're screwed"
Yesterday it was biking time again. My landlord Don suggested a new road to try out in order to avoid riding up the hills back to the house on a street that has fast-moving cars and no shoulder. Not wanting to end up smeared on the pavement, I thought this sounded like a pretty good idea. After biking about thirteen miles up and down the highway (I am skipping over the amazing beauty on either side of the road, but that doesn't mean it wasn't there!), I found this new route. I tried not to be intimidated by the gigantic-looking hill, but soon I was having post-traumatic flashbacks of my recent rides, gasping desperately for air and pedaling ceaselessly until I entered a strange, nirvana-like zen state in which my body kept moving while my mind went blank. Perhaps this is how people get through ridiculous things like Double Deca Ironman Length Triathlons. Yes, that's a real thing. Either way, I made it up the hill and about two miles later I was bombing down toward my house on the road with no shoulder, keeping pace with the cars and not getting run over.

When I got home, I finally, FINALLY solved the "I don't know how to change a flat tire on my bike" problem! My landlord Don was kind enough to walk me through the process, making me do each step so that hopefully it will sink in. With any luck, I won't have to use my newfound skill set during the triathlon next weekend, but I feel a whole lot better knowing that should disaster strike, I should at least be able to get a new tube on the wheel and enough air into it to make it to the finish line. As an added bonus, I feel like slightly less of an asshole. I hate to be "that girl," doing a triathlon while knowing absolutely nothing about the equipment I'm using. Now at least I should be able to fake it.


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