Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sweating to a New Beat (and a Corn Maze)

Not but a few minutes ago did I finally publish my Chicago Triathlon race report. "Pam, wasn't that months ago?" Yeah yeah yeah.

I brushed off that race and have moved onto new things this off-season. Since my fifth triathlon season has wrapped up I've gotten involved with two new-ish and awesome hobbies, both coincidentally from Groupon: group running and hot yoga. Back in May I purchased a one-year membership the Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA - the largest running organization in the area) and in August I purchased a one-month unlimited membership to CorePower Yoga. I've taken my passion for fitness to a whole new level.

I'd like to take a moment and interrupt this portion of the blog to bring you this week's seasonal race: The Corn Maze 5k! It was so corny!!!! I jogged with a good friend Lori and we took our time and I actually documented it the whole way from my phone. Here we are!

Okay, back to business.
Group training isn't new to me but there weren't any organized running clubs or groups near home that were convenient. So, I decided that I was going to make my own fun. I emailed CARA and asked if there was anything in my immediate area. They responded and said there wasn't anything official or organized but if I wanted to host a weekly fun run they'd allow me to do so. They'd promote it and somewhat co-manage it. Shortly after I received another friendly email saying that there was another young woman in my town who also asked the same thing who also wanted to join a weekly fun run. It was great timing actually! We met up before the first fun run and actually have quite a lot in common. I was happy to have a new friend and listen to her marathon experiences while I spilled the beans on triathlons. We began our first weekly fun run not far from home and with some great weather. There were about 8 women total and we ran about 3 miles. It's truly amazing the people you meet when running brings you together. Since then I've twisted my ankle a few times, pushed my pace a bit and conquered a few longer distances (4 miles is "longer" for me). I'm not sure how much longer we'll be able to meet since it's stupid dark by 6-6:30pm but at least we all got out there and have supported each other.

There's a pace that I've had to maintain when running in a group and I've really enjoyed it. Before I know it I'm maintaining a pace that I couldn't do by myself and I'm proud of what I've accomplished. I don't run often anymore but the minimum once per week with the CARA ladies keeps me going.

On October 1 I turned in my Groupon for the one-month unlimited class at CorePower Yoga. Prior to that I took advantage of a free week and wasn't so sure how I was going to feel about hot yoga. (Here's a hint: it was hard, sweaty and challenging.) I've always enjoyed yoga just haven't found the right studio to join. Since then I've been totally hooked. The classes I attend are minimum 100 degrees with 40% humidity. (Here's another hint: I'm sweating when I'm lying on the mat.) Since joining and attending 3-5 classes per week I don't know if I could do anything BUT hot yoga. If I'm not dripping wet when I leave then the class wasn't a success. I can tell that I've worked hard and I've accomplished so much. With hot yoga comes added strength and flexibility and I can see this during my strength workouts in the evenings. My 6am yoga classes energize me and I actually look forward to getting up at 5:20am. Combine that with strength training some evenings I'm slowly losing inches and adding strength.

Bottom line, since the triathlon season has wrapped up I've kept myself ever so busy trying new things and exploring strengths I didn't know I had. I'm very happy I've come across these things even though the monthly membership to the yoga studio will probably cost me a small fortune.

And with my final note I will temporarily transition from my regular motto to...


Learning from the Unexpected

I have been avoiding an update from the Chicago Triathlon. It's been nearly two months since it happened, and I think I'm going to let this one go. I don't have much to report on that I'm proud of, not that I didn't try hard, but the unexpected circumstances really drove my attitude into the ground and destroyed any chance I had of doing well (mentally).

The temperature was nice, but possibly due to Hurricane Irene the water in the harbor was insanely choppy and incredibly hard to manage. People were giving up just as the swim began and it was hard to keep my head in the game. The water was so choppy that the water was all stirred up so even with the minimal visibility under water it was all lost with the water conditions. I couldn't see the swimmers ahead of me, and in turn kept getting kicked in the ribs. Normally I could avoid this if I could see the swimmers, but alas, it happened. I tried to play this game where I wouldn't allow negative thoughts into my head, but it wasn't happening. I checked my time when I excited the water, it was a few minutes slower than I had hoped. I was so exhausted from the swim that the long transition distance seemed like an eternity.

The conditions on the bike weren't any better. I felt like I was going to get knocked off my bike from the gusts on Lake Shore Drive. I don't train in these conditions so I was scared. I knew going northbound the wind is always harder than southbound, but good grief...

Long story short, here's the three disciplines:
After going back and looking at my posts from DailyMile it seems like the run helped my time but it still wasn't what I hoped for.

Since it has been nearly two months I'm going to officially let this one go. I'm in a better place about it and there's no sense hashing it out online. This post has been in draft mode since the race and I'm putting it to bed.

I've learned over the past five seasons that to a degree there is a lot I can't control. Not every race is going to be good. I put each season and all my races up on a pedestal and expect to have a total blast at all of them. I cram in so much and expect so much. Hey, four out of five races isn't bad and it was a big season for me. I'm proud that they're all sprint distance races but I'm not any less proud than longer distance racers. If I'm smiling and feeling good that's all I care about.

I'm 95% sure I'm going to spectate the Chicago Triathlon next year and maybe try another race sometime in September. But who knows... there's always that email in December or January luring me back in with their $10 off discount (by the way, the race registration fee is more than the Chicago Marathon, so even with my USAT discount it's nearly $160). Another reason to chalk it up and let others enjoy the course.

I'm No Ironman, But I Still Tri.