Sunday, July 8, 2007

gotta mix it up

Triathlon training (as in many other sports) involves SO much repetition. Swimming back and forth in the same pool, watching the same clock, tasting the same nasty chlorine... riding the same roads, being attacked by the same wild redneck dogs, timing the same intervals... running the same routes (until you don't even have to think about it anymore, your running shoes make the turns for you), fighting the same hills... etc... Not only does the difficult training wear you down, but the monotony of routine can break your spirit.

I hadn't even realized my boredom w/ training... until multiple opportunities to "spice things up" presented themselves.

On Thursday night, I found myself sitting on the couch, chatting with Noel. Nothing of major importance... I got to hear about the guy she's "texting and talking" with. A doctor she met at a conference in Chicago. Unfortunately, he lives in California.... wait... not so unfortunate, he wants her to come visit! She told me all about it while braiding my hair. Hello, I needed a new 'do for the morning swim workout.

She was talking, and I was already dreading my morning swim. Thoughts of sleeping in and pushing the workout to the afternoon began to fill my mind. But, you know how it is. If I procrastinate my Friday swim... it forces me to go to the pool on a Friday night... officially making me a 26 yr. old loser.

We finished gabbing about Dr. McDreamy California Edition... and I revisited one of our repeat conversations. A favorite topic called "Noel, you should be doing triathlons too!!!" She is an outstanding runner, would be a phenomenal cyclist, and well... she won't drowned. Bottom line: she's an awesome athlete, and great friend, and we'd have a blast training together. So, let's get this party started!

After the braids were complete, I began moaning about my Friday swim. Like a little kid, I pouted and probably said something along the lines of... "I don't wanna go." Then, like an angel sent from above, Noel offered to get up extra early... so that the two of us could go to her dad's neighborhood pool before work. (the neighborhood pool situation down here rocks!)

She had to be at work by 7:30am... which meant we needed to leave the house at 6. And here we were, like hs girls having a slumber party, watching tv at 11pm. Off to bed.

5:40 came much too early. Miraculously, we both found our way out of bed and into the kitchen. "are we really going to do this?" she asked. YES! Get your bags, we're leaving. The streets were empty... and as we pulled up to the pool, the moon was still out.

It was calm, quiet, peaceful... looking over the 25 yards of glassy water. I hadn't swam here before, or with Noel for that matter. We got in quickly and pushed off the wall. I had a workout in mind, while she was going for 30 min straight. How awesome! I actually felt like I was having fun... swimming outside, experiencing different sights/sounds... it was nice. And, Noel did really well. Seriously, this girl is bound for tri-greatness. Once she gets the form down, I say Watch Out!

After the long workout, I made it home with just enough time to shower, change, and get to work. Pretty slow day at the office (don't worry... just calm before the storm, next week is going to be nuts). At 5:00, I found myself shuffling to the car. Noel and I had agreed to an easy 4 mile run after work. I began wondering WHY we decided to do this?!

I walked into the house, and immediately put on running clothes/shoes. If we were going to do this, we were going to do it asap. Once she got home and saw me on the couch, running shoes already on... I think she began laughing. It wasn't a ha ha, this is funny laugh. It was of the more, we're on the verge of insanity nature.

She was changing when I yelled, "you are the tour guide for this run... start thinking about a 4 mile route."

Saved, once again by Noel, she planned a 4 mile trail run. Leaving the house, we both loudly groaned and complained. However, after the 1st mile... I think we both felt better. We took turns leading on Eagle trail through Cleveland Park. We didn't run fast, but we ran! Usually, I don't stop until I hit the corner at my house... but, Friday was a different story. Our watches hit 30 min... and we STOPPED. Walked our tired selves the rest of the way home.

****right about here is when I began wondering about my Saturday ride. I was scheduled to do a 70 mile ride in the mountains with my friend G. Where was I going to find the energy to do 6 mile climb repeats?!****

On Saturday morning, my alarm was going off at 7am. I got up... and thankfully felt refreshed after sleeping. Ate a PB&J sandwich (the 1st of 4 for the day) and collected my cycling things. You know it's humid when you break a sweat getting your stuff into the car. Grabbed an extra water bottle to drink on the way.

The plan was for G's wife, Sarah, to drive us about 25 miles north of their house (ride would start in the mountains and then continue home). We found a good spot on the side of the road, and unloaded. For the first 10 miles, I was distracted by the gorgeous surroundings. It was a beautiful day (muggy as sh!%)... but, WONDERFUL to be riding on new roads. We road through the hills, and then arrived at the bottom of the Greenville Watershed climb. With all the other cyclists out there, you would have thought that's what the road was intended for.

G and I climbed, pushed, stood, reminded each other to breath... it was not an easy 6 miles. I found myself thinking about riding down, just to turn around and go up again. Would I make it? I tried to shake off negative thoughts. I focused on my pedal stroke, breathing... remembered to drink... caught sight of a waterfall just off the road. When I thought I couldn't take anymore, G said, "last turn." AH! Let the fun begin!

Sailing, cruising down the road 35-40 mph. What a rush! Heart in my throat during the sharper turns. It made the whole climb worth it! So we did it again... this time we went harder. Sweat streaming down my face into my eyes... little streams flowing down my legs. And again, a roller coaster ride on the downhill. After 40 miles, we stopped at a gas station for water. Not the wimpy individual bottles... we opted for the 2 gallon tank (and almost finished it).

Once we got on our way, you could look back and see the climb we'd done. Great feeling of accomplishment! Fun ride home, new sights... different roads. After the 70 mile ride, we put on running shoes and hit the pavement. Those 4 miles were less than pleasant... but after a long ride, I can usually talk my body into going just a few more miles.

It had been a long training day -- but exciting and new! A cold shower saved my life... followed by 2 PB&J sandwiches. Later on that night, some friends called to announce that the group was headed to Barley's (a local hang-out, bar, pizza place... downtown G'vegas). Normally, I would have declined the invite... but I rallied, put on some jeans and met them for drinks (and by drinks, I mean my friends sharing a pitcher of beer while I sucked on my Gatorade bottle).

By midnight, I was falling asleep at the table. My friends took me home (I was more tired than they were drunk... trust me, it was a good idea). After downing one more PB&J, I crawled into bed and fell asleep in under 2 seconds.

During my long run this morning, I did go along the usual route. But, it gave me some time to reflect on the previous days of training. I think I discovered why I train, why I like triathlons.

The friendships I've made in the tri/athletic world are priceless. Without Noel, I would have been at the YMCA on Friday night... simply getting through the workout. Instead, we had a great time swimming at dawn in a beautiful outdoor pool. Our run was torture, but we suffered together... which oddly enough, made it enjoyable. Thanks to G. and Sarah, we pushed ourselves to ride in the mountains (into NC, might I add) and home!

I might have completed the yards/miles without them... but, it wouldn't have had the same intensity. This week, I'm sure I'll find myself doing the same 'ol, same 'ol... but, I'm not worried about it. We are creatures of habit; there is comfort in training on familiar routes. However, this weekend was a breath of fresh air. Thanks guys!


Sally said...

Ash, What great memories. What great friends! The mountains & watershed area are beautiful. I remember when your aunt Libby & I were little girls going up to this area on a weekend drive. Dad & Mom were up front and we were in the backseat. I can still remember the view! I'm thrilled you too find it beautiful. Love Mom

Anonymous said...

Ah, alas someone who likes PBJ more than me!!!! A miracle. It is quite honestly, the perfect food...throw some sliced bananas in there and Yahoo!
Jen :)

Anonymous said...

Holy shvasollie. I read Liz Fedofsky's blog and I got your link'd blog from her site. I'm a G'villian!