Sunday, January 31, 2010

Experimenting with the Brick

I got a little stir crazy today and finally took the Mazda out on the roads. My little guy doesn't take too well to the icy roads, but I HAD to get out and do something active today.

After watching my O-State Cowgirls pick up a HUGE win on the road against Texas A&M, I packed my gym bag and headed downtown to the Y since Midtown and CHK were both closed today. I think everyone else had the same idea as me because that place was packed. I don't think I have ever been to a gym on a Sunday and it be that busy. I guess everyone else had a case of cabin fever as well. Oh yeah, I also ran into Megan, one of my tri coaches with TNT as I was walking up to the gym. She told me she went to swim on Friday at Aspen, that's true dedication. I guess that explains why she is doing Half-Iron distance triathlons and I am only training for the Olympic distance. I better get in the game!

It was nice to go back downtown for a change. It's a lot bigger and has better equipment than the Midtown Y, but the crowds during the week make it unbearable. I like being able to walk into Midtown and just grab a machine. However, there is something divine about having a stationary bike and treadmill that have fans on them :-) It sure helps keep the sweat out of my eyes.

I didn't have any set plan when I went to the gym so I just kind of rolled with the punches. I found an empty bike so I hopped on there and logged a good 45 minutes on the stationary bike. I just put it on random setting and it took me through a progression of hills. My goal is to always keep my RPMs above 100 when I am on the stationary bike. I don't even know if that is good, but it seems like it is a pretty good workout so I just stick with it. After the bike, I thought it would be kind of fun to run for a bit just to get my body used to the sensation. I hopped on the treadmill and ran a mile just for the heck of it. It was all in all a pretty decent workout after being a lazy bum for 3 straight days.

We also got our official training schedule for the CapTex Tri today. We have an online account set up through Training Peaks and it will send us daily e-mail reminders with our workouts for the day. It doesn't actually start until Feb 9th so I have another week of "freestyle" before the structure begins. It works out great that way because I will miss quite a few days for my trip to Angel Fire this week. Skiing is just around the corner!

Have a great start to your week my blogger friends. Happy training!

Bike - 12.63 miles in 45 minutes
Run - 1.0 miles in 9:20

Friday, January 29, 2010

Snow Day!

Another snowy day in the big OKC! I love snow. The ice that we got yesterday sure wasn't fun, but it can snow all day in my book. It is so peaceful. I just sat on my coach, sipped coffee, and watched it snow all day. Yeah, sure it sucks for running and biking, but this Oklahoma kid doesn't get snow every day so I will enjoy it by the fire when it makes its grand appearance.

Great news! I already have raised $250 in one day's time. Thanks to David Virgilio (Houston, TX) and Allison Bailey (Oklahoma City, OK) for joining me in my journey!

I also sent out an e-mail to my contacts and received several positive responses so I believe the donations will start rolling in before too long. The great thing about the snow day is it did allow me to focus my efforts on my TNT fundraising goal. I have a list of ideas and now it is just time to implement them over the next month or two. All of you local OKC residents please stay tuned for benefit nights at some local restaurants and all of my twitter friends please look for giveaways and donation matching promotions around the corner! If you don't follow me on Twitter, look me up (@blsloan).

Here are some pics from the apartment doorstep today. Winter wonderland! :

And of course, I have to leave you with my website :-)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

TNT Group Swim

The fundraising site is up and ready for donations! Here is the link for anyone who is interested:

I have also put up a link on my blog's homepage if you want to come back later and not search around for this blog post. Easy, accessible, and for a great cause!

Last night was our first group swim of the training season. We will be meeting every Wednesday at Oklahoma City Community College to go over drills, receive instruction, and build camaraderie. Naturally, everyone was a bit nervous for the first workout, but everyone's minds were put at ease when we all jumped in the water and realized we weren't alone in our struggle.

I could definitely tell the classes at work had helped, but apparently swimming for swimming's sake is different from swimming for a triathlon. I was getting harped on left and right for not kicking enough at the work class, and one of the first things Ryan mentioned to me was that I was kicking too much. It's nice to get a triathletes perspective and learn proper technique that is more sport specific. Ryan gave me several pointers and sent me on my way to do drills to reduce my kick frequency, start my kick from my hips, and keep my head lower in the water. I did receive positive feedback on my stroke length so I have something to build on for next week. I do feel a lot more comfortable in the water compared to 3 weeks ago, so progress is being made. The technique and endurance will come. I have no doubts I will put in the time and effort to become a decent swimmer.

At the end of the workout, we had a little fun as well. Ryan and Megan split us up into 3 teams and we did a 25m relay race followed by a couple of mock mass starts. The mass starts are going to be interesting to say the least. Basically we all just jumped in one lane and started swimming at the same time to get used to the hysteria in the water at the start of the race. It was actually quite fun and I am sure it will be a weekly ritual for our group. All in all, I was extremely pleased with the group workout. It was great to hang out with everyone and start building those relationships.

After leaving the pool, I joined up with two of our coaches for some beer and dessert at Hideaway. Megan was the benefactor of the Hideaway's benefit night so 15% of their sales went to her fundraising efforts for the Mardi Gras marathon next month. We did our part and spent a little money to help out. It was great listening to their stories and picking up on things that I can apply to my own journey. They both have very lofty goals and plan to push themselves hard this year. I admire that in someone who is pushing me towards my own set of goals. It takes a lot of time and dedication to pursue your own endurance sport goals. It takes a love for the cause and the sport to push other people to their goals at the same time. Kudos to them for giving back. I know I am very appreciative.

It looks like weekend workouts will have to be postponed due to weather. It actually might work out pretty well for me. Our bike clinic was supposed to be next weekend, but may get pushed back a week now. I have plans to go skiing in Angel Fire, New Mexico, next weekend and the bike clinic is one thing I don't want to miss. I am clueless about a lot of things pertaining to the triathlon so any educational session I can attend will make me much more comfortable. Off to bed for now. Even though our offices are closed for the weather, the NYMEX doesn't work on Oklahoma inclement weather schedules. I will be up and at it early in the morning logging in from home. My PJs will be much more comfortable than dress slacks though!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Team-in-Training is a GO!

Today was a great Saturday. I officially signed the dotted line to help fight blood cancer and will be training for my very first triathlon along the way. I am now a TNT Oklahoma member!

When I first started looking at joining up with TNT, I was looking at it as a way to get into the sport of triathlons with the support of coaches, team members, and resources to succeed. It was purely selfish and something I am embarrassed to admit. This is my blog though and I like to be honest with my blogger friends. At the information meeting last Tuesday, my train of thought started to shift as I watched a video of the impact the money raised through this program has on the lives of those affected by these illnesses. Today was just the final tipping point. Meeting true heroes who have fought and won the battle with cancer really puts everything into perspective. You are raising this money and participating in these events for them. It's not about me anymore, it's about the survivors, the fighters, and anyone who has been affected by blood cancers.

The kickoff meeting today was a great start to what will be an amazing 17 weeks. We were introduced to heroes who have beaten blood cancer and met the members who we will be sharing the sweat, pain, and joy with along the way. My group consists of ten volunteers, 3 coaches, and a couple of mentors to help motivate us along the way. Ryan Ellis, Megan McKee, and Steve Schlegel will be there to teach us how to swim, bike, and run our way to a great finish. I am excited about getting to know my fellow team members and expect many memories and lasting friendships will be created along the way.

After a large group meeting with marathoners, cyclists, and triathletes all grouped together, we broke off into our respective sports to go over our training plans in more detail and to get a better idea of what to expect as we continue on the road to the CapTex Tri. I have signed up for the Olympic distance triathlon so I will be swimming 1.5k (.93 miles), biking 40k (24.8 miles), and running 10k (6.2 miles) on my way to my first triathlon finish. Ryan laid out a sample training plan for us and it looks doable, but will definitely eat up a lot of time as we get further along. Wednesdays are going to be our group swim days and then we will do brick workouts on the weekends where we combine two disciplines and practice transitions. During the rest of the week, we will be expected to do training sessions on our own time and raise money along the way. We will also have clinics that will teach us bike maintenance, etiquette, gear needs, nutrition, and a slew of other topics. We will also have group happy hours each month to continue to create those bonds between team members. The goal of the TNT program is to raise money and to keep fostering relationships that will continue to expand their reach and impact. I am very excited about the entire process and can't wait to get started.

Over the next few days I should be getting my fundraising website set up and I will provide a link to those of you who may be interested in donating. I also plan to do some promotional type things to help entice people to donate so I will fill you in on the details when I get it all set up.

On another note, I had my 3rd swimming class today and it was great. I am becoming more and more comfortable in the water with each session. Today I got a lot of positive feedback from the coach and he acknowledged that I had made tremendous improvement in just 3 weeks. Our group swims with TNT start this week so I already have a built-in workout on Wednesday and my final class at work is Saturday. Swimming is slowly becoming easier. Thank goodness for adult swim improvement classes :-)

Oh yeh, almost forgot, I ran 3 miles yesterday and it felt great. Progress my friends!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Short Update

Not much time to write tonight, but at least wanted to say hi and let everyone know that all is going well.

I attended the Team-In-Training (TNT) meeting on Tuesday and felt really good about the program. I got a good vibe from the people in attendance and am pretty confident I can meet the minimum fund raising goal if I am persistent. Please don't hate me if you get bombarded with blog posts requesting money :-)

I went for another run yesterday and had another pleasant experience. It seems like the Achilles is holding up nicely. No pain before, during, or after runs. Physical therapy did kick my butt on Monday, but it was a great workout and was a good test. It will be my last session for quite some time hopefully, although I really enjoyed my therapist. I will definitely request her next time I have a PT need. Again, hopefully that is not anytime soon!

Also, went for another mid-week swim workout. I spent 50 minutes at the pool after work and managed to get in quite a few drills with the fins on. It sure makes it easier to work on your technique when you aren't huffing for air. I still can't quite get the breathing down when I am doing my freestyle, but it is getting better. Baby steps. Two more weeks of classes and then I will be joining up with the TNT coaches.

Kickoff meeting for the TNT tri program is Saturday so I will report back with full details and give everyone a link to my site if you wish to donate. Every little bit helps and it goes to a great cause. Happy training everyone!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Swim, Bike, Run - Starting to come together

Can't believe it's been a full week since I have posted. I wasn't home during the evenings this past week so I guess I have an excuse. It sure puts a damper on the workouts when you have customers come in to visit. Luckily I think it will slow down for a few weeks and I can focus on getting into a routine with my training again.

So, good news on all fronts this week. I got in a swimming workout by myself on Wednesday night and really focused on doing the drills we learned in class last weekend. I only was going half-lengths in the pool and concentrated on form and breathing. I am taking baby steps towards becoming a better swimmer. I have a lot of bad habits I need to break, but I am making progress.

Swim class yesterday was much more relaxed and I felt much better after leaving. We had a different instructor and he automatically asked me if I was a runner when he watched me swim. He said he could tell because my legs naturally sink. It was kind of a compliment because he said my legs were so lean and muscular that I would struggle maintaining perfect balance in the water, until I found out what worked for me. He was much more positive than the last guy and told me that I would definitely get it soon. I was encouraged and am actually pretty excited to get back in the water this week to continue working on my stroke.

Two more exciting things happened this week. I went for my first run in nearly a month on Friday and I LOVED it! It was so great to get back to running. I only did 2 miles, but it was a nice, easy, relaxed run and I was pleasantly surprised it went so smoothly. No real noticeable pain in the Achilles post-run so we are making progress. I have one more physical therapy appointment and then I will be on my own. The plan is to run 2 to 3 miles every other day for a few weeks and then amp up the running for the half marathon if all goes well.

Next, the really, really exciting thing this week : I bought my first road bike! Woo hoo! I am definitely ready to start conquering the bike now. I got a sweet deal at Schlegel's here in OKC and took the plunge yesterday. I ended up getting a 2009 Orbea Onix TDA all-carbon bike on clearance and upgraded the pedals to LOOK brand clipless pedals. I also bought my helmet and shoes and am ready to go. I even bought a cycling bib so i can ride in comfort from the get-go. I still need to purchase a rack for my car so I can transport my bike, but I am hoping I can just slide it my car since my seats fold down. That will be my experiment today.

Here is a pic of the new ride:

Pretty sweet, huh?!? Only thing left now is to plan my race schedule and learn how to ride this beast. It's been a while since I have ridden a bike and I know there are many things I need to learn about racing which brings me to my next point, the triathlon.

So, a week ago I was pretty bummed out after swimming class and had pretty much written off the triathlon in the short-term. After talking with several people and e-mailing back and forth with Team-in-Training (TNT), I have reevaluated my position. It's really odd how things come about, but over the past week, the TNT program keeps popping up in front of me everywhere I go. When I went to Schlegel's to get sized for my bike, the owner was wearing a TNT jacket and turns out he is a cycling coach for their triathlon training program. Another girl that works at the shop is also a cycling coach and prepares people for their century ride in August. I also talked to a couple of people who went through the program last year and everyone said the swimming would come and I would be ok. I am definitely leaning towards joining the program this week. I go to a meeting on Tuesday to get more information and then I will make my final decision. Crazy how things come full circle. It's all about believing in yourself and having support along the way. I know I will work hard enough to make it happen. Maybe it's time to take the plunge.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wow, swimming....what can I say?

For starters, this was the first weekend of my Adult Swim Improvement class. I set out at the first of this year to tackle a triathlon and obviously swimming is one of the key components of marking that goal off my list. Little did I know, but everything I do in my swimming stroke is incorrect. This class was like a nightmare I used to have in college where I got everything wrong on my final and failed a class. I couldn't do anything right! I sank like a rock. My stroke is tense, my breathing is erratic, my hips don't move when I kick, my feet stick out sideways when I kick, I don't dig deep enough with my stroke, and I can't tread water to save my life. All in all, it was a complete disaster. Talk about a huge shot to the confidence. I really don't know what I expected, but I was shocked I could do so many things wrong. I knew going into it that swimming was a weak sport for me. I never took swimming lessons as a kid and I never really have used swimming as a workout. I went in a complete rookie and it definitely showed. My hope now is to keep working and just try to get better.

Swim class started with a brief introduction by the instructor and then we each introduced ourselves with our swimming history. Obviously, I admitted that swimming was new to me and I was a complete rookie. My goals are big, but my base is small. I admitted that eventually I wanted to do a triathlon and one other girl in the class was on the same path. The big difference, she was a good swimmer!

We started the class by swimming a half length of the pool so the instructor could examine our stroke and get an idea of what to expect. I didn't get a ton of negative feedback on this one aspect, but as the class progressed, the more and more critical the instructor became of my technique. Don't get me wrong here, the guy was super nice about it and even joked with me because he could tell that I knew I was really bad too. I think a sense of humor will definitely be required for me to get better and listen to the criticism and advice along the way. As we got further along in the class, we did drill after drill focusing on proper body alignment in the water, catch-up freestyle stroke, proper kick, breathing techniques, and a little one-on-one advice on putting it all together. All-in-all I thought the class was very productive, but it was also very discouraging. I really wasn't aware of just how bad I was compared to where I need to be to do a triathlon. It was definitely a very humbling experience and something I needed to get a reality check and examine where I am and where I need to be. As a result, I believe I will be pushing back my triathlon goals until later in the year after I get a chance to work on my swimming more and get more comfortable in the water. I just don't think I can show the improvement necessary to jump that quickly into triathlon training. My goal is still there, it will just have to be a little further down the road.

After swimming, I decided it was time to get serious about bike shopping. Regardless of my swimming ineptness, I still plan on buying my road bike within the next few weeks. Biking is something I can pick up relatively easy and add it to my workouts to compliment my running. There are also several duathlons in the area where I can combine these two disciplines and eventually make the transition to triathlons.

Yesterday I visited two bike shops recommended by my sports doc. He told me they are always trying to make deals so if I could get in a bidding war between the two, I could probably get a really good deal. Both shops showed great potential and I spotted several bikes that fit my criteria. I am going to do some more research today and then start narrowing down my choices after what I learned during the hunt yesterday. I do have one or two more shops that I want to visit over the next week or two, but I will eventually probably end up at Wheeler Dealer where they offer all employees of my company a 15% discount on bikes and accessories. That's a pretty significant discount when you are talking about buying a road bike. They are not cheap!

It was a productive Saturday and one that puts me in a better position to understand the task ahead of me. I have a lot of hard work ahead and I am excited to accept the challenge. A triathlon will be a huge undertaking, but no one ever said it would be easy.

By the way, the doc gave me clearance to start adding running back into my workouts. The road will be my friend again soon! Now if I can just keep up the good habit of stretching combined with strength and cross-training. Have a great Sunday!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010's getting cold outside

16 for a high?!? When does that ever happen in Oklahoma? Well it is going to happen Thursday and Friday this week. Talk about cold! Good thing I like cold weather because that is bordering on ridiculous in this area.

It's been a busy few days since I last wrote. Work has been nothing short of hectic and the old wheels have been turning in my head with ideas and goals.

First things first, I went to physical therapy again on Monday and it was another very productive session. My therapist showed me several new stretches and functional exercises to use and also gave me some ultrasound therapy on my Achilles. It felt awesome and I may go back one more time just to get ultrasound. She also took measurements of my degrees of flexibility and I added 2 degrees in the short span of a week. I guess that stretching routine really does work wonders if you stick to the plan. My doctor appointment is Friday so I will see what he says and will probably start gradually adding back running to the exercise routine. It's been too long since I have ran!

Another exciting development that I have been hiding for a few weeks now, is that I have officially signed up for adult swim improvement classes. They start this coming Saturday and will be 4 weeks long. The class will meet every Saturday from 12 to 12:45. I am not 100% sure what all we will be doing but I am pretty excited about them. Swimming will be a great addition to my training schedules and puts me one step closer to my triathlon goal.

Continuing on the triathlon topic, I am also going to look for a bike this weekend if time permits. My goal is to find a bike and purchase it within 2 weeks. I have a general idea of what I want, but I want to visit a couple of different specialty shops and get their opinion. Plus, our company gets a nice 15% discount at one of the local dealers so I am sure I will end up buying from there. They carry mostly Specialized brand road bikes so that is probably what I will end up with for now.

Another note to mention, I have signed up for a Team-in-Training meeting on Jan 19th. I had a good friend from college go through the TNT program for her first triathlon and thoroughly enjoyed the journey. I am leaning heavily towards signing up with them for my first triathlon and have tentatively set my sights on the Capital of Texas triathlon in Austin, Texas, on May 31st. I think that will give me plenty of time to get the swimming gig down if I decide to do it. I should know more about that in the next few weeks. The only downside of doing the triathlon that I can see is that I will probably have to skip the OKC Memorial races. I could still possibly do the half marathon if my body was willing, but I'm not sure. I guess I could do the relay too, but who knows. There are too many moving pieces at the moment.

The most exciting thing that I have been keeping from everyone is something my Mom did last week. She sent me a text at work and informed me of her decision to run a relay leg in the OKC Memorial race in April! I was brought to tears thinking about it. If my running played any role in this decision for her, it makes everything I have done the past year worth every aching minute. I am so happy for her and can't wait to help her through this process. My mom is turning 52 this month and has not ran in many, many years. I found the couch to 5k program that fits her best and will be her moral support the entire way. One positive note about maybe missing out on the race myself is that I can be on the sidelines cheering her on just like she did for me in Dallas on my first marathon adventure. I hope she falls in love with running just like I have so we can run together for years to come.

Off the computer for now. Time to bundle up and get ready for the cold! No running for me this week still, but I have been substituting the elliptical and stationary bike for the running I should be doing on my post-marathon recovery schedule. I feel fit, happy, and ready for another challenge. More updates soon!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 : Resolutions and More New Beginnings

2009 : Definitely a benchmark year for me. Reflecting on the past year makes me very happy with where my life is headed and I can't say that I would change much of anything about it. I was able to go through a year without too many hiccups and was able to find a new passion along the way. In February, I harmlessly started running as a way to get me off my butt and in better shape and I ended the year completing my first marathon and a renewed sense of accomplishment and purpose. I have my sights set on bigger and better things in 2010. I want to make it better and even more exciting than 2009. With a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication, I am confident that 2010 will be another benchmark year for me. I am focused, I am confident, I am ready. Bring it 2010!

Here is my official list of resolutions for 2010:

1) Racing weight - Ideally I find myself nearing my racing weight by the end of the year. Right now I clock in at about 188 pounds...I need to be about 170-175 to be lean and mean. It is well within sight and I plan on making it happen.

2) Steward of the environment - Reduce, reuse, recycle - There is no reason why I can't make an impact with the way I consume. I hope to become a smarter, more efficient inhabitant of this planet

3) Swim, bike, run - Yep, I am making it a public goal. I want to do my first triathlon this year - either a sprint or Olympic distance. More details to come soon!

4) Run smarter and injury-free - My first year of running hasn't been error free. I have had a case of hip bursitis and Achilles problems. My goal is to become a better and smarter runner. Strength training, more cross-training, and smarter training will become a regular part of my routine.

5) Run another marathon - My goal is to run a fall marathon again this year. I want to shave off at least 15 minutes and run a sub-4 hour marathon. Chicago is my number one choice at the moment.

6) Inspire others - I want to continue to be a positive, healthy influence on my family and friends. If I can inspire others to get active and start running it will make what I am doing that much more worthwhile.

7) Drink less - I need to cut the drinking habit a bit to be what I really want to be down the road. Sure, I still will have beers with my friends and enjoy a football tailgate, but I need to cut out the weekend binges at the bar. It does absolutely no good in the long run. It only negates all the hard work from my week of training.

8) Give more - I need to give more of myself and give more of my resources. Volunteer, donate, and help my family and friends without ever second guessing it.

9) Don't be afraid - Be more confident and trust myself to do whatever it takes to succeed. Don't be scared to fail and just make it happen. I need to apply this to every aspect of my life, not just running and triathlons

10) Get out of my comfort zone - I often catch myself sitting at home not wanting to go do things because I am comfortable. I need to push myself to expand my horizons and try new things. Go to dinner with someone I don't know too well, visit places by myself, join new groups, expand my network.

If I can implement all or many of the above resolutions, I will have a banner year in 2010. I hope everyone has a blessed, safe, and prosperous 2010. I know there will be bumps in the road, but I am confident I can overcome whatever is thrown my way. Happy training everyone! More updates to come about race plans for 2010!