This blog recounts my fitness journey into the sport of triathlon and the gifts God has blessed me with while on it! May the movements of my life boldly proclaim that the sparks we encounter in scripture will kindle hope in our lives!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Neoprene and More

Just trying them on!
As I looked forward to the girls being occupied at VBS (vacation bible school), I began to schedule how I would spend my time for 3 hours every day that week!

I had injured my leg and couldn't run at all. (I'll get to that in the next post.) My best options for training were to bike and swim. I reserved 3 of the days for biking and swimming. Charis and I made plans during one of them to shop for a wetsuit. The other I was trying to leave open to be "spontaneous". I'm still workin' on that!

Charis had received a referral from someone to a particular shop for us to try on wetsuits and so our adventure in neoprene began!

We trekked out to the shop on Monday. It was about a 30 minute drive.

The sales staff was very friendly and helpful. It wasn't their fault that wetsuits aren't really marketed to women that aren't over 150 pounds! Fortunately I had already learned about the Athena and Clydesdale racing I didn't find the shopping process entirely shocking.

Let me explain. When you enter a triathlon, they typically ask you to identify what group you should be placed in.

There's the Elite group. That one should be self-explanatory. Professional racers and folks that have an athletic bent beyond most.
Then there are the age group categories. Also self-explanatory. Last year I raced in the 35-39 age group for a few races.
You can also choose a "buddy wave" in some races. These folks are typically more casual racers (which Charis and I discovered rather quickly at our first tri!), or they might want to race "with" a friend but don't fall within the same age group as that friend.
Then there are the Clydesdale and Athena categories. Essentially these are categories for "bigger athletes". Good grief. A woman can qualify for an Athena entry at just over 150 pounds!!! You don't have to enter these categories, you can enter as an age grouper, but they exist.

At the time I shopped for my wetsuit I weighed about 187 pounds. I knew that wetsuits were marketed toward "average" sized athletes. This could get tricky.

Sure enough, the sales clerk brought out the only wetsuit they had that was technically my size. It was almost $700. I had no intention of spending that much but, I figured I should be a sport and try it on. Charis tried on the same one in her size and one other. She was much closer to "average" than I!

No dice. We left without the suits, but some fun pics of our shopping trip and hysterical memories of the grunts and groans and the sweat equity it can take to get a wetsuit on. It's not a delicate process, let me assure you!

We did some fun biking that week and swam. I don't recall that as much as my next trip to shop for a wetsuit though. My friend Becky accompanied me this time. To a different shop. I wasn't about to chance having to ask a male sales associate to help me get into the thing!

 This is the wetsuit I ended up with.

We found the wetsuit! Pulled it right on. It was less than 1/3 of the price of the other I had tried on!

We had extra time after that so I decided to try on some tri suits as well.

You don't HAVE to have a tri suit to do a triathlon, but they sure do make it more comfortable. You wear them for the entire event. They are made out of fabric that wicks away sweat and water. They feel seamless so you avoid chafing. Best of all *insert sarcasm here* they fit like a second skin! Eliminating drag and all that...

No kidding, I tried on about 14 different suits. One-piece suits, two-piece suits, skirted suits, suits with an extra bra, suits that zipped, suits that didn't, suits that had no color and suits that screamed color. One of the suits I tried on caught my attention. Of course, it was one of the most expensive. However, when I looked in the mirror at myself I was kind of astonished. I looked at Becky and she looked at me. "I look HOT in this one!" I said. "I think that it has to be the one!" she said. Success.

My tri suit. Well, you get the idea...

The cool thing is. I'm WAAAYYY hotter now! I tried that suit on the other day. I have to get a new one. It's too big...I'm fairly certain it's the same story with the wetsuit...

I registered in the Athena category for an event this summer. Just for fun. I "figure" it's one more way for me to "Embrace the Athlete"!!


Monday, April 19, 2010

Swimming in the Rain

As far as sports go, I'd played some volleyball growing up. I was a jv basketball cheerleader, so I'd watched some basketball. Thanks to my dad I'd seen some NASCAR on TV. I had never watched a triathlon (Whoops, I take that back. I do remember watching some of an Ironman on TV when I was a kid.) and had read just a little.

Good thing I signed up with Charis to take the triathlon prep class through the YWCA!

The class would cover four elements and help us know what to expect about each during the race: the swim, the bike, the run and the transitions. Having no desire to be competitive, I wondered if I'd be overwhelmed by information. My goal was to simply finish the race!

After my first open-water swim on Memorial Day weekend however, I was more and more excited about discovering what I was capable of. So it was with nervous excitement that I picked up Charis and headed off to our first prep class. The topic for the night- the swim!

There was a gentle rain as we headed out, but no one had called either of us to tell us the class was canceled.

We got the call as we were coming down the main road along the lake. The instructor told us to come and talk with him anyway. Maybe we still wanted to swim?

We pulled in and met our instructor. They'd gotten a hold of everyone else. There was no lightening. He was prepared to swim anyway, but not by himself. Did we want to go for a swim?

Charis turned to me while shaking her head yes. It felt great to say, "Let's go!"

Neither of us had wetsuits yet, but the lake was warmer than the air or the rain. We swam back and forth for a while between the buoys just outside the swimming area and got warmed up. We were just expecting to swim. Then the instructor started talking with us and showing us everything we'd be doing in the class. He had us trying out all the techniques! We got a private session!

We worked on sighting. He showed us a few different techniques for staying on course while swimming. He had us practice them. Then he had us close our eyes and head for a buoy to see how close we'd come. I went straight to it! Talk about a confidence builder.

He showed us how to maneuver around a buoy and had us practice it.

He talked about drafting and had us practice that. (Which I've never used by the way. But it's cool to know how to do it!)

We talked about strategy and mindset for entering and exiting the water and practiced a few options. Including dolphining! (Digging your hands into the lake bed to propel you forward while diving in and out of the water.) I haven't done any races yet where dolphining would be advantageous, but I'm prepared for the day I do!

I remember thinking that I didn't want to forget anything about that evening. Not just the strategies, but the way I felt. It marked a moment when everything from that point became vibrantly alive with promise.

I was swimming in the rain. It was real. Triathlon wasn't a dream I was thinking about some day. I was stepping into it - right now.

I'd made many physically and emotionally unhealthy choices in my life. Willful choices distrusting God's plan. Here I was walking out, with that same drive, one of the most physically and emotionally healthy choices of my life. It felt really good. Supernatural.

I sent Paul a text when we got in the car to leave. Something like, "Class canceled. Swam in the rain anyway. Embracing the athlete!"

Philippians 3:13&14
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
I want to forget, put off, the mindset I've had in the past and grab hold of all God has for me in His service, in His name for His glory while I'm in this life. That's what was bursting from my heart toward Him when I laid my head on the pillow that night.

I needed my rest. My girls were headed to VBS for a week. Three hours a day for me to train!

And shop for a wetsuit...