Tag Archives: Train

I’m a Triathlete. I’m a Bereaved Mother. I’m Both.

This is Susan.  She’s joining us for the first time; she’s training for Nationals.

Welcome to our first Women’s Triathlon Summit.

Yep, this past weekend was very much a social one for me.  And yes, it involved interacting with other endurance athletes.  On Saturday I joined my coach’s Saturday group workout for the very first time.  And thanks to a good friend I attended a women’s only triathlon panel discussion on Sunday.

I was a bit anxious about Saturday’s group training session and admitted this to my coach.  Aside from knowing we’ll swim, then bike and finally run, I told him I really didn’t know exactly what else to expect:  What do I need to bring?  Will I have time to change from my swimsuit into cycling clothes or should I wear a trisuit for the swim?  Should I bring my fins?  Is there anything else I should know?

What I didn’t tell him but, of course, fed my anxiety was having to meet new people and engage in conversation with them for a few hours.  My strategy consisted of staying under the radar.  I figure I’ll most likely swim in the slowest lane and ride at the back of the pack.  As for the run, I’ll just push myself so I’m breathing really hard.  Then I won’t be in a position to talk.  Well, I did in fact swim in the slowest lane.  Interestingly though I made an attempt to swim in the next lane over because the only other person in the slowest lane was a pregnant woman.  (Great start, I know.)  However, I felt as though I slowed down the other lane so I moved over to share the lane with the pregnant woman.  (By the way, the fact that I qualified for Nationals while consistently finding myself swimming in the slowest lane bewilders me!)  I ended up being so focused on my workout I barely saw her and her belly.  And when I did I immediately looked away.  It wasn’t ideal but it wasn’t really horrible either.

We did have time to change in the locker room where I met another member of Pete’s team.  As we changed into our cycling clothes we talked about riding and Honu 70.3‘s horrendous crosswinds.  So far so good.

I grabbed my bike off the top of my car and rode it over to join the rest of the group.  My coach introduced me since it was my first time.  And he announced I have Nationals coming up.  Gulp!  So much for staying under the radar.  For the two hours we rode folks talked about racing, training and technique.  Woo hoo!

I quickly learned everyone doesn’t run off the bike during these sessions.  (Officially Saturday’s workout plan does include a run though.)  Unless I’m nursing knee issues or other injuries I make a point of running after biking.  (It’s great brick training.)  So I ended up running with only two other athletes.  We talked about how each of us found Pete and his training group, Honu 70.3 and training for Kona (aka Ironman World Championship).  One of the athletes who ran with me is training for it!

I managed to avoid the topic of children and made it through the other end of the trigger caused by swimming next to a pregnant woman; not too bad.  And the icing on the cake was I enjoyed the conversations I had with everyone.

On Sunday for the Women’s Triathlon Summit, MLH and I were running late from a previous appointment so I rushed over to where the event was being held. The organizers had a pretty nice spread of food, and I was incredibly hungry.  (I don’t think I ate enough after my long run earlier in the day.)  Everybody else was chatting in their chairs.  Nobody was eating.  (The event was running late.)  So while more polished, lady-like women would make their way gracefully over to the food, I dropped my purse on a chair and made a straight shot to the table where I filled a plate up with goodies.  I know, it wasn’t just hunger; I saw this as a way to avoid people.  But then I had to make my way back to my chair to eat.  And eating I did but then a couple of women introduced themselves to me.  Oh well.  We proceeded to talk about our upcoming races.  That’s it!  Once again, I really enjoyed the conversations.

I will say that as one can and should expect — when planning to attend I somehow didn’t think completely through this unfortunately — some of the topics at a woman’s triathlon event will touch on juggling children/family with training.  I didn’t experience very strong triggers when these topics came up.  I felt a little bit of emptiness inside but it wasn’t an overwhelming feeling.  Perhaps this is because I was in such awe of these women who have children, challenging jobs, partners (who either are endurance athletes and/or have challenging jobs as well) AND are top athletes in their divisions!

It’s kind of weird.  I’m so glad I attended both events and most importantly enjoyed talking to the people I met each day.  I still feel anxiety and automatically put up a wall because I never know when I’ll be asked about children or encounter a trigger.  I don’t know if this will ever truly go away.  However, during this past weekend, I was fortunate enough to talk to fellow triathletes about setting PRs, working with coaches, technique, swimming, bike fits, nutrition and race goals.  I got to meet some amazingly accomplished athletes who’ve qualified for Kona, turned pro, completed 26 Ironmen and earned their way onto the podium several times over!  I almost felt like another person at these events.  I was more social at both of these events than I’ve been at any other event over the past two years.  I actually hung around after the summit to chat with a couple of participants!

Aside from the handful of times children were brought up during the summit and dealing with the pregnant woman during the swim, at these events I felt like just another triathlete training for her next race.  I don’t think it’s like I live a double life:  One moment I’m a triathlete and when I’m away from the sport I’m a bereaved parent.  I think it’s more like I have a couple of layers or dimensions inside.  At both of these events, the triathlete who wants to improve, learn and share is dominant and the bereaved mother, while very much present still, takes sort of a backseat with my wall surrounding all of me.  When I’ve had to attend purely social events, my wall is a lot thicker with the bereaved mother and triathlete switching positions.  And I feel like most of the time when I train both layers are evenly present.

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First Outside Run Since I Injured the Ankle

Yesterday my gym held a private event so I couldn’t workout there. I had to run outside. I was a bit nervous because the last time I ran outside was on December 25th when I sprained my ankle. Interestingly for the December 25th run, MLH and I planned to run eight miles. Yesterday’s plan called for an eight mile run as well.

Washington, D.C. has been experiencing actual winter weather over the past few days. And yesterday felt like a true winter with a low during the day of something like 24 degrees and a high of 34 (excluding the wind chill factor). And it was quite windy. I decided to run around 2 pm which is not my ideal time to workout. I prefer to train in the morning but I wasn’t about to spend 75 minutes or so in 24 degree weather. From 2-4 pm the temperature was as warm as it would get. MLH planned to run as well but he had to run 12 miles yesterday. So we started out together and then I turned around at mile four.

During the first half of my run, I was a little cautious. I constantly looked behind me for cyclists and other runners who may pass me. The volume on my iPod was just loud enough for me to recognize the song. I didn’t want to miss any sounds or warnings. And I didn’t run as fast as I should have because I picked a pace that would ensure stability with each step. Also, since running outside is different from running in a climate controlled room on a steady treadmill, I wasn’t sure how difficult this run would be. So I didn’t really push myself for a bit.

After my initial warm up I was still a little cold, especially where I wasn’t able to fully cover up such as parts of my neck and slivers of my ankles, (the gap between my running pants and socks). Also, although I wore gloves, my fingers never felt truly warm. At one point for a couple of minutes I thought about the differences among body temperature, climate controlled rooms and outdoor temperature. I thought about Noah and all of the temperature variables with which he dealt. During surgery and other procedures his body temperature was lowered. During the first few days of his life the nurses kept him warm with a heating device which was positioned above him. Most of the time he wore a hat to keep his head warm. These unexpected thoughts were a pleasant surprise. I’m still amazed at and grateful for how much Noah has and continues to impact my life.

At my halfway point I turned around while MLH continued for another two miles before his turn-around. At this point I felt really good. By the end of the first four miles, I became less concerned about having another accident and more interested in pushing myself. I felt very strong both on the cardio front and physically. I began picking up my pace and focusing on widening my gait. During the last 1.5 miles my left leg started to tighten a little. Once again I pushed through the discomfort. (I did spend a good deal of time stretching, using the foam roller and stick and icing both legs last night.) I completed my run and felt great afterwards. There’s something satisfying about training outside during the winter. You push yourself and feel as though the sweat and warmth from your body are signaling to the cold that you can take the brutal weather and then some.

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Training Playlist: 9

  • Such Great Heights (Postal Service)
  • Viva la Vida (Coldplay)
  • Every Car You Chase (The Snow Police) (Party Ben)
  • I Want You Back (Z-Trip Remix) (Jackson 5)
  • Time to Pretend (MGMT)
  • Leaving Las Vegas (Sheryl Crow)
  • Woman (John Lennon)
  • Praying for Time (George Michael)
  • Everybody Knows (John Legend)
  • Lovefool (Cardigans)
  • No Such Thing (John Mayer)
  • Name (Goo Goo Dolls)
  • Life in Technicolor II (Coldplay)
  • Philosophers Stone (Van Morrison)
  • Calling All Angels (Train)
  • Strong Enough (Sheryl Crow)
  • Big Yellow Taxi (Counting Crows)
  • One Thing (Finger Eleven)
  • Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Michael McDonald)
  • Fire and Rain (Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds)
  • Into the Mystic (Van Morrison)
  • Walls (No. 3) (Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)
  • Solsbury Hill (Live) (Peter Gabriel)
  • Ordinary People (John Legend)
  • Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) (Marvin Gaye)
  • Dog Days Are Over (Florence + The Machine)
  • You’re All I Need to Get By (Marvin Gay & Tammi Terrell)
  • Give a Little Bit (Goo Goo Dolls)
  • Yahweh (U2)

Duration: 2 hours

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Training Playlist: 2

  • Take a Chance on Me (ABBA)
  • When You’re Falling (Afro Celt Sound System)
  • Halo (Beyonce)
  • Good Times Roll (The Cars)
  • Rain King (Counting Crows)
  • Staying Alive (The Dancing Queen Group)
  • Babylon (David Gray)
  • There’s a Girl (The Ditty Bops)
  • American Boy (feat. Kanye West) (Estelle)
  • 1234 (Feist)
  • Superman (Five for Fighting)
  • Don’t Stop Believin’ (Regionals Version) (Glee Cast)
  • Everybody (Ingrid Michaelson)
  • Time After Time (Quietdrive)
  • With or Without You (With Strings) (Scala & Kolacny Brothers)
  • Whatever Gets You Through Today (The Radio)
  • New Soul (Yael Naim)
  • Calling All Angels (Train)

Duration: 1.2 hours

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