... my journey from ballerina to triathlete

Friday, June 17, 2016

Running for Mangos

Officially Mr. and Mrs. Triathlete
I've been itching to get back to triathlon training lately, after taking time off to marry my partner in life (and triathlon training!), buy a house together, move, and change jobs. It has been an extremely busy past 6 months and I know that life comes in seasons, so I fully enjoyed the transitions and didn't worry that we didn't really find time to train. This season was on of change, not of fitness, and that's okay. We had a beautiful and intimate wedding surrounded by the people we love, I started really dancing again (the "ballerina" part of this blog's title had really fallen by the wayside for a couple of years), and we are now settled into *our* home, a little plantation style cabin sitting on 1.6 beautiful acres out in the country.  It has awesome vaulted ceilings and tons of potential, and a quiet, lovely yard surrounded by tall trees that rustle and sway in the breeze. It also has lots of little roads and trails around it that I can't wait to run on...

So a couple of weekends ago, after a week of thinking about nothing but triathlon, I decided it was time to get back out there. My plan was to head down to Hapuna, swim a little, then run. As is customary for my first workout back any time I've taken a break, nothing went smoothly in trying to get ready; having moved 50 miles since my last workout only compounded matters. I didn't know where my running shoes were. Finally found those tucked away in my triathlon bag, which was itself tucked away in the attic. I dug through it hoping to find my swim bag, but of course it couldn't be that simple. It took me almost an hour of digging through boxes in the garage before I found the swim bag, and I was both amused and embarrassed to find my goggles inside, tangled up in lengths of Christmas ribbon, a cruel reminder of exactly how long it had been since they were used.

By the time I made it out of the house I no longer had time to swim, but was still pretty pumped about running. I had already decided that I wasn't going to push myself too much, just get back out there, get moving, get excited. I hadn't really thought about the fact that it was exactly one week before Honu, the half Ironman, so it was an added bonus when I arrived at Hapuna and found it swarming with triathletes preparing for the race.

On a side note, I have finally given in to wearing visor hats. I used to associate them with golfers and scoff a little under my breath when I saw people wearing them, but with the rim blocking the sun from your eyes and the absent back allowing the wind to cool your head, I just can't deny their practicality anymore. They're too damn comfortable! So, although I am somewhat out of shape (not too bad, thanks to ballet kicking my ass) I fit right in with all the spandexed, visored athletes.

My pace, however, did not fit in, and that was okay with me. I had decided prior to arriving that I was going to do 4 minutes walking, 2 minutes running, alternating, so as not to overdue it in the heat my first time out. This comfortable pace felt a little bit too comfortable, so after about a mile I switched to 3 minutes walking, 2 minutes running, which had the added bonus of landing on nice tidy 5-minute increments of time. It was so nice to back out there that it is beyond words. Like returning home I was reminded of all the little things I enjoy so much -- the feeling of breathing deeply and rhythmically, the view of the ocean off to the side, the cute little Franklin grouse scuttling across the road, and the smell of kiawe wood heated up in the sun. It was truly lovely.

I was surprised and somewhat entertained to see an aid station along the side of the road about a half-mile in, as if they had set it up just for me to sustain me through my first run back! In reality, it was for the free practice triathlon they always have the week before Honu (another thing I didn't think about!). For most of my run, the athletes were out on their bikes, but around the 3-mile mark I started seeing them, and at about 4 miles they started passing me. It was fun to see some familiar faces and extra motivating to be out there with them even if I wasn't part of their race.

Sweaty but happy!
Exactly at my turnaround point (2.5 miles), a man working in his yard and carrying a large bucket called out to me, asking if I'd like a mango. Being minorly obsessed with mangos, I said yes enthusiastically. He was wearing a Lavaman triathlon shirt so we talked briefly and before I started back the other direction he offered me another mango which, of course, I accepted. I had to giggle picturing what I must look like, carrying a mango in each hand as I sweated my way back to Hapuna! Some people carry weights while I power walk, perhaps this is just the Hawaii version!

Things felt pretty good up to about the 4 mile mark, when I started to get tired, or maybe just overheated. I hadn't brought water because I was thinking "5 miles isn't that long, I don't need water," but neglected to consider the fact that walk-running 5 miles takes longer than running the whole way, so as the time neared the 1-hour mark I got increasingly uncomfortable. By the time I got back to the aid station, I actually asked if I could have a cup of Gatorade. Luckily, runners are generous people and they were happy to share. I gulped the Gatorade (had to set my mangos down to down to this -- again thinking about how silly I must look), dragged myself up the last couple of hills, and made it back to Hapuna in good spirits.The 5 miles took me 1 hour and 11 minutes.

It was a lovely little reminder of what triathlon always teaches me: even when things start out a little rough and don't go quite as you planned, keep pushing through and you will be rewarded with mangos. Okay, maybe not always mangos. Sometimes you may have to settle for a personal sense of triumph, but either way, it always puts a smile on my face. I am excited for more.