Monday, January 23, 2012


I thought I blogged about my spring tri experience. I better get it down while I still remember it.

Last year at Easter my sister in law asked me to do a 5K run through the woods for the Children's Advocacy center. I laughed because I have never ran in my life. I was told in high school (by the track coach) that I didn't have a runners body (big boobs and about 25lbs over weight) so I assumed that meant that I "could not" run. I fully was under the assumption that I could not run so I never attempted it (though what I wanted to do in high school was run the 2 mile).

I did agree to do the run (figuring I could walk it) since it was for charity. As it worked out, we were out of town the day of the run so our other sister in law (Liz) ran it instead (she also had never ran and never thought she could). She did run it and finished, she says "it wasn't pretty but she did it". It inspired her.

Liz started looking up other local 5K races and stumbled upon a sprint triathlon that was to take place early August (2011). This race was a quarter mile swim, 15 mile bike ride, and a 5K run and was in New Glarus, Wisconsin. This one especially appealed to her because of the New Glarus Brewery. She asked me if I wanted to do it and I laughed. I told her "I can't run" and she said "you can do ANYthing for two hours", claiming that the longest times were around 2 hours and she pointed out some photos of finishers, who were quite large. She said "if that person can do it, WE can do it". Their were other heavy people in a few other photos and I started to think, "no kidding, MAYbe I really can do it".

I mentioned it to our other sister in law (Kathy) and she was all about it. She got me excited and we told Liz we would do it. Gabriel came in and told me that he was going to do it too. I laughed and asked him if he should see a doctor first (I have been working out with a personal trainer for 3 years and he had not done any physical exercise for..well...ever). I said "great, i'm glad you're going to do it. Seriously, can you swim?" he answered "nope". He figured he would just work it out.

We made a plan to start training June 5th. I walked Magda to her girl scout meeting at the church about 3 blocks away and decided I would run back home. THREE blocks and I was DYING. After half a block I sounded like Darth Vader but I made it all the way home.

The training schedule said to run 20 minutes, so I set my ipod and ran - once I hit 10 minutes, I turned around and ran home so my total time was 20 minutes. I did this for about 5 days then switched to running 2 miles. Once I could 2 miles pretty easily, I upped it a little at a time. Finally after about 5 weeks, I had Gab plan me a 5K route. I set out and did it without stopping at all. I was very excited. I thought about that coach who 25 years ago told me I didn't have a runners body and thought "screw him". If he had encouraged me then, who knows what might have happened.

During this whole time, I also started riding my bike. The first time Kathy and I decided to ride to Humiston Woods. We knew it was 16 miles from my driveway to the woods and back. We checked the time and set out. The ride out was pretty easy, more worried about getting ran over because the roads were busy. Coming home was harder because of the wind and by the time we got home our legs were a little like rubber. It took about an hour and 2o minutes. We felt pretty good about that but knew we wanted our bike time down to under one hour.

We started riding in the country where there was no traffic. There was one good hill also. We would do the 10 mile ride a few times a week and we felt pretty confident with the bike portion.

Swimming...we needed to time ourselves at the swim because we had to have a time for registering for the race. Gab and I went to the Elks and I swam first. My time was 13 minutes (can't remember exactly). Gab got in and panicked and had to get out of the pool. He said he would try again next time. Same thing happened the next time we swam. My time got better and he could never get past the first lap without feeling like he was going to vomit. I asked him again "are you sure you want to do this? seriously, how are you going to get through the swim?". He said his plan was to "drown in the first event and then he didnt' need to worry about the bike or run".

I added bricks. I rode 10 miles on the bike and then immediately ran a mile. My feet felt like bricks but I ran through and knew it would take about half a mile to work it out. I was prepared (i thought).

Finding something to wear. Big boobied women are s.o.l. when it comes to athletics. Performance swim suits don't come big enough so I had to wear a lycra sports bra under my swim suit.

The weekend of the tri came (too fast) and I prayed for a severe thunderstorm that morning. We did get a thunderstorm but it came (and went) too early and by the time the race was to start, it had cleared up. We headed to the park and all the other athletes were there and they all looked totally buff and fit. I looked around the park for the other out of shape runners and said to Liz "um, where are all the freaking fat people Liz?". She looked around and pointed at us and said "right here". We realized that WE were the ones people would look at in photos and think "well if SHE can do it, then I can do it". I was terrified but had come too far to not go through with it. I put my bike in the staging area, got my ankle timer and number and lined up in my swim group. Gab was in the first group (slowest times went first). We had just guessed on his time (20 min.) since he had never actually completed a run. Luckily they put him the lane next to the wall, he got through by walking, hanging on the edge, and doggy paddle. He kept going though and was out and on the bike within 18 minutes.

When it was my turn to get in the water, the other people in my lane looked all athletic and skinny. A young girl was right in front of me (there were 3 people per lane - i think, maybe 4, i'm forgetting now). Anyway, we swam down one side of the rope then swam back the other. A few head bangs but I swim with my face up so I could see. I totally lapped the skinny young girl and felt awesome about that. My swim was 12 minutes.

Jumped out of the pool and ran/walked to the bikes. Dried off a bit, shoes on, tee shirt on, helmet on. Grab bike and walk it to the street, jump on bike and take off. I seriously UNDERestimated how long it would take my heart rate to come down from the vigorous swim. The bike ride went around the corner and immediately started going UPHILL. It basically never stopped going up hill, it was INSANE. The one part of the whole race I was not worried about was the bike ride and here it was killing me. I seriously almost started crying at one point. At the top of every hill I expected some relief but was met with another series of hills, mostly going up. As bikes would speed past me, I felt like I was crawling. The young skinny girl who I had lapped passed me pretty quickly into it. Ah well. Just when I started thinking I couldn't do it, an athlete would come up on me and encourage me "good job" and "keep going" and "you're doing awesome" REALLY helped keep me going. I thought "i have been out here for HOURS" (definitely taking a watch next year). I wished I had my cell phone so I could call Gab and see if there was ever an end to this bike ride. The people along the route would yell to me "this is the last hill, then it's all downhill from there" and I would be like "YEAH" then I would get to the top and see four more hills and think "those fucking liars". All I kept thinking was "well at least I know I'm not totally last since Kathy hasn't passed me yet" and then I hear "SHANNON!" and thinkg "oh damn". The very last mile of the ride, Kathy caught me and we rode in together.

Hang the bikes back up, helmets off, bandana on. Start running. OMG. I was prepared for my feet to feel like bricks for a little bit but this was something totally different. My feet didn't feel like bricks but my thighs were quivering and shaky. Because all the hills worked totally different muscle groups. I ran for about half a mile and then took three small steps and that was a huge mistake. Kathy kept going like a champ. I completed the 5K doing some run, some walk but I kept going. I honestly thought Gab, Liz, and everyone else had finished so far ahead of me that I pretty much gave up and just was going through the motions. As I headed out, some runners were heading back in (the 5K route was straight out one side of the road and then turn around and head back the other side). I see Gab coming back and he's going strong. I think "damn, they aren't even finished yet, WHY did I slow down so much?". About half way through I see Liz coming back, I yell "I fucking hate you Liz vincent" (only half joking because she convinced me to do this). Some very kind people had set up a table with water half way through and that was very much appreciated. As I approached the end, Gab had come back and was running with me encouraging me to keep going. I crossed the finish line and was SO glad it was over.

I got my medal, we took some pictures. I could barely walk at this point and we had to walk back to the hotel (just a few blocks) and clean up and pack and get checked out. Definitely next time we'll stay two nights so we aren't in such a rush after the race. We missed the big awards, etc. and the free beer was all gone by the time we got back so we just headed to the brewery. I was driving to Lake Tomahawk after that so I wasn't able to ease my pain with beer either (another reason I will be staying a second night).

For the first couple of hours after the race I said there was "no way I would do that again" but by the next day we were all talking about "next year" and we realized what we were saying. Soooo, as it turns out I am a runner. Not a very good one, but who cares. I finished and I wasn't even last (5th from last) and a whole bunch of people dropped out altogether so I feel pretty good about that.

2012. practice on more hills or take spin class. get a better swim suit/sports bra, wear a watch/pedometer