Friday, November 15, 2013

Can't view blog?

Won't let me view blog?  I want to do so that I can send my post to FB.  Just says new tab on top with no new page.  Am I being stupid?  Surely not.  Help people in the computer!

Monday, November 11, 2013

To any newbie who would love to attempt a Triathlon!

If someone has 1 kid via C-section, employs a night nurse and later an au pair is she called a mother?  Well of course!  Another women has 6 kids all born naturally with no pain relief, breastfeeds them until they 2 and she home schools all of them taking short breaks to eat organically grown food from her garden.  Also a mother right?   Relevance you ask?  I was just wandering if after 1 single sprint triathlon I was allowed to call myself a triathlete and dare to offer any tips or advice to wannabees out there?

There is amazing info out there but much of it goes way over my head.  I feel a little like a young virgin reading 50 Shades of Grey.   I would like to share a few things I wish some zealous newbie told me before I attempted my 1st Tri.   Firstly my dear newbie, not everyone is the Ironman type training 5 hours a day eating very specific food and speaking a lingo known only to other crazy iron people.    The same way you have people doing the local 5km and others doing the Two Oceans, you have triathletes doing Sprint Tri’s for fun and others tackling mammoth races like iron man or even half iron man.  Naturally I would be the sprint fun type.  At my age with my lifestyle and commitments I have neither the desire nor capacity to race insane distances.  (No respect to you crazy nutters who do!)

So what do you need to do a triathlon?   Quite simply, the lus.  Do you want to do one?  Do you want to take yourself off the couch out of your comfort zone and do something that terrifies and excites you all at the same time?  Well then we good.  You don’t need a running background, cycling or even swimming.   Many assume triathletes were excellent in one of these areas and decided to add on another 2 disciplines.  I could not run 100 meters and the last time I had been on a bike was over 30 years ago.  I could swim but not brilliantly well.   What I did have, was the head.  I had the goal and the discipline and the enthusiasm to do it. 

Okay, so you want to do it then.  Here’s my advice to get you going:
If you cannot find a training group or the hours don’t work with kids schedules, work etc, find a like minded training partner.  Someone on a similar level to you who also wants to do her 1st Tri.  You will be accountable to each other, encourage each other and get to celebrate together when you eventually finish.  You might have a partner who finishes 22 minutes ahead of you despite the fact that you trained harder but you will get over it. Grrrr!
Secondly, read Triathlon mags, runing mags, cycling mags, read books, talk to other athletes, do some research.  As I said much of it is way too technical or OTT but you do learn some useful stuff.
Train in all weather.  I so wished I did that very obvious tip.  When it was cold and windy and shite we hit the gym.  Naturally on race day the wind howled, the water was cold and choppy and cycling into the wind was killer.
If you can’t run you start off walking and follow one of those 5km run programmes.   You will eventually get there and you might even love it.  Me, hate running.  Runners high?  No clue!    Don’t just do flat routes and try run at least twice a week making sure it’s not just on the treadmill.  Don’t wear old cheapo shoes as you will mess up your feet.
Cycling.   I did it all wrong but what I should have done was get over my fear of kleats and cycling shoes and I should have used a road bike and not my heavy plonky mountain bike.  I would like to tell you how to get over your fear of kleats but I don’t know myself?!  As mentioned I should have done more real road cycling and less spin classes avoiding Cape Town winter weather.  What I did do and what helped was to go straight from a spin class to the dreaded treadmill and run 5kms.  It gets your legs used to that transition.   Also, don’t laugh at the people as they queue to rack their bikes and they wear their helmets.  Fools you think, don’t they realize the swim comes first?   Reason for helmets…they are checked for cracks before you rack your bike so you don’t fall off and die and your spouse sues them.  I do find it very ironic no one gives a crap at mountain bike events as to the state of your very necessary helmet??  Have a bottle of water to rinse your feet so the sand doesn’t rub and chaffe you.  The hardcore guys aka mothers of 6 don’t wear socks but remember we want to finish this thing and enjoy it so comfort is key.
Speaking of comfort, those cute little trisuits are surprisingly comfy.  You will feel alarmed at the minimal padding on the bum area but remember you swim, cycle and run in them and my butt felt just fine afterwards.  I would go for a brand one, check out the sales and you should get one for around R700.  You can go for 2 separate pieces (good when you need to wee) or one piece.
The swim.  Many dread the swim but luckily I love the water.  In the Tri sprints the distances are only 800 meters which is 32 lengths in a 25 meter pool.  I would strongly advise you to enter an open water swim event before you do a Tri.  Everyone tells you about the murky water and the people on top of you and the large splashy washing machine effect but until you in it, you cannot imagine what it’s like.  It’s bloody scary the first time and all that training in the pool seems to count for nought when you in the dam desperately trying not to panic.  I wanted to cry during my 1st swim.   I thought 1500 meters sounded easy peasy but it was very, very far and very, very horrible.  Fortunately I did a few more open water swims with shorter distances after that and got over my issues.   I also learned about having a mantra that you say over and over again as you swim.  It can even be counting but just something to keep you calm and focused.    That rule about not trying anything new on race day, well it includes tightening your goggles just before you swim.  Your eyes will want to pop out and you will have a headache and you won’t even be able to have a good cry because afore mentioned goggles will fill with water.
If your local pool/gym has a masters swim squad I would recommend you join.  Those guys are damn good and you will feel like a bit of a paw-paw but at least you will get swim fit and be pushed beyond what you would push yourself.  A great tip I learned (after my Tri!) was to swim around the black T instead of touching the wall and kicking off at each length.  Do 16 lengths of that and you will be surprised how tiring it is and much more realistic than using the wall.
Transition.  The serious dudes make a big deal of this and I will advise you to practice it but remember your goal is to finish and if you take 2 minutes or 30 seconds, so be it.  I watched a  You tube clip of what to pack and it was helpful.   I also practiced swimming at a pool in my wetsuit and then taking it off and pretending to run with my bike.  The first time I couldn’t get my zip down.  The 2nd time I caught my entire ponytail in the zip which my amused husband had to ease/pull out.  Naturally he filmed it and it seemed to stay equally funny at each viewing.  Third time perfect and on race day perfect.   What I should have done though when I got to my bike was sit down and pull the rest of my suit off.  I was a little dizzy after my swim so fell around like a drunk trying to get the rest of my suit off.
Eating.  Don’t presume because it’s a big sporting event healthy or nutritious food will be on sale.   Luckily I had a sad old low GI peanutbutter sarmie in my bag but next time I will have a packed cooler box and eat properly.  Our race was at 3pm and we were there the whole day.  By the time I did my run my tank was empty and I walked half of it. 
Have fun.  You might think it’s just not possible due to nerves and how hard it will be but somehow I really did have fun.  I am naturally competitive but this was one competition where it really was about ME and finishing it.  I had a time goal which I did achieve but I was surprised how much I enjoyed my race.  In fact my mantra was This is MY race and its one I plan to repeat at every event I do going forward.   I do want to get better and I will but it’s all about me and doing the best I can.  Corny I know but it takes the pressure off.
Wannabee Triathlete there is so much more info out there than a pleb like me knows but I will tell you one thing.   Finishing that race rated right up there with the birth of my 3 kids, with relocating and starting a new career and with so many other brave things I have done in my life.  Feeling part of this fun fit energized crowd was just awesome.  I can’t wait to do another one and I can’t wait for the feeling I know you will have once you finish YOUR first one.  Next race, it’s YOUR race!