I realized that I did a lot of fun things this play season and that it is coming to a close. A bit sad but also, I’m kind of stoked to have a bit of rest. Most of us are usually burnt out around this time and can’t wait to collect some winter fat and hibernate a bit…or at least, the triathlete version of vegging lol. I didn’t do this last year but I really wanted to recap my season. I thought it would be fun to give myself an opportunity to reflect on my season and in future, read about them to see where my ‘athlete’s’ journey has taken me. It would be interesting to see how these experiences compare to future ones especially when it comes to my mental gain and how much (more?) masochism I can endure ;)It’s always interesting for me to read about the thoughts that go through an athlete’s head. There’s a lot of preparation and mental fortitude that goes into preparing for the play season but man, is it ever fun. I hope you enjoy this series. I will be adding more as I go; I’m not sure how I want to organize them just yet. This one just came out as is so maybe I will do it according to sport? Or perhaps, event. I think that I will release these blog excerpts as the season progresses next year. As I started writing up all these recaps, I noticed that I have a lot to write lol. Maybe it’s just me being long-winded…:D
When one is friends and part of a triathlon club, the new year doesn’t start with hangover from a new years eve party. No sir, it starts off with a spin off and brekkie get together. It also kick starts planning for the upcoming race season. Now this was my first new year as a ‘triathlete’ so it was new experience for me but I found myself scouring the web for races. There were a couple things that were important for me to keep in mind: fun, outdoor time and challenging/pushing my boundaries. However, the most important factor was that I chose most of my races/events based on the fact that they had some sort of altruistic meaning behind them. I think that this year I was really challenged to see beyond my goals as an athlete and to also use these abilities that God had given for something and someone other than myself. However, the race season hasn’t quite begun yet at the point of this particular post…:)
This was my first year that I decided to try out winter running. Don’t worry…this decision was made with much apprehension lol. Those who know me know how much I loathe being cold…I’m just a baby when it comes to being cold. Thankfully, as soon as I start moving, my body is pretty efficient at producing heat. It’s always those first few minutes though…*shudder*…literally. Part of the reason I decided to try out winter running is because running doesn’t come easily to me, as much as I enjoy it. Last year, I started off the season struggling with 3-5km runs. My turning point was running a 10k with my good friend Amy B. Even though I wanted to stop, my body went on auto-pilot and after much self-pep talking and suffering made it through! To run at the level I want run at, I’ve had to work very work and sometimes it ebbs and flows as to how good it feels. I know that I really enjoy trails more than pavement and that every time I’m out in the river valley and just completely surrounded by trees, have that sunlight just filtering through the leaves…man it just brings me to this natural, organic happy place. So instead of hanging up my running shoes and putting away my bike (so sad!), I decided to keep commuting via running. Oh the logistics of how to stuff all my clothes and swimming stuff into a tiny pack. Also, where to get a good running pack?! I borrowed M’s for a while but obviously that came to an abrupt stop when we broke up (though he offered to let me keep it for winter season…thanks but no thanks). Thankfully, I got a good little Camelbak pack that worked well. It was a little big but most definitely an improvement from what I was using before. It was a woman specific pack and just fit so much better. I was slamming the back of my head with M’s pack before. Also, how to layer properly?! As spring rolled in, I finally got a solid grasp on my layering system(s) for the various temperatures and weather conditions that one encounters running in the winter. I bought some awesome wool socks that were bomber for running in the winter. There is nothing like wind chill that brings -15C to -25C (I did draw the line at no running when it hit -20C before windchill)…snow in your face because it’s being blown horizontal rather than falling vertical. But there is also nothing like the feeling of running in a blizzard; I think that during the times that I did, I had a huge and crazy looking grin on my face. Part of me relishes on the idea that people probably think I’m nuts…part of me also thinks I’m nuts so it’s good to know some random strangers and I are in agreement. One other plus was that the trail were much quieter so I didn’t have to be wary of bikes bombing down the path behind me or yelling ‘on your left’ as I pass pedestrians.
- Pins/Yaktracks can be pretty awesome. But I was lazy and also it’s hard to find things for my shoe size…so I didn’t get any and just ran with my regular shoes. I don’t remember bailing at all during the winter though I did have a scary descent into the river valley on a hill. I had zero control and it was one of the few times where I totally freaked out internally and no choice but to follow momentum.
- Snow is great. Slush is not. Need to buy some trail shoes for those occasions.
- Penguin shuffle is a technique one should master running (or really, shuffling) over ice.
I also went of Saturday morning spinning with my AiA mates though this was a bit more sporadic. I do like the push that one can do during spin classes and they are very challenging but it is hard for me to be stationary while doing something and doing it inside. Hamster feeling you know? But it was a blast because we had a good group of people doing it. I took the bus out a couple times to our spin; I did feel a bit odd carting my bike to and fro on a bus…and not riding out. However, I had promised my parents that I wouldn’t ride in the winter and to be honest, I don’t feel too inclined to. I’ve bailed on ice and snow before and didn’t particularly enjoy it; kudos to those who commute in the winter! Again, this whole spinning during the off season was a whole new thing for me. It allowed me to keep some cycling fitness during the off season and as winter running provided for my running fitness, gave me a ‘higher’ starting point to go from when the race/’serious’ training season began. I also succumbed to buying spandex…fineeee bike shorts are amazing even though they look ridiculous 🙂 I tried on a pair of bib shorts and have decided that if a man still loves me and finds me sexy after seeing me in a pair of bib shorts, he’s a keeper.
The colder weather also gave me an excuse/opportunity to get back climbing indoors. After taking half a year off, the first couple of climb sessions were so disheartening. Climbs I used to fly up on for warm up were so difficult; my skin felt raw. Though in my head I could see the movement, I couldn’t execute. I don’t quite remember the exact route, but I know that my turning point was a 5.10- that I did cleanly with my friend. Man, I was soooo stoked. I was surprised that it didn’t take quite as long as I thought it would for climbing to come back though strength building is a continuous struggle for me lol. Always has been even when I was climbing regularly. The off season gave me an opportunity to climb 1-2x a week which is a lot less than it used to be but most certainly an improvement from 0. I saw my climbing progress but more importantly, got plugged back into the climbing community I loved but had left behind to focus on triathlon. These were my mates that I hung out with around the camp fire, camped under the stars with and trekked out to gorgeous crags with. I also met new friends as well that were stoked about climbing; stoke is so contagious. My new friends included a group of girls that climbed hard and would play on the same climbs as I did. There is something awesome about climbing with fellow girls. Depending on the climbing style, I was beginning on onsight or send 5.11- after a couple tries. I sent my first 5.11 after figuring out some short person beta 🙂 Granted, this doesn’t necessarily translate outdoors grade for grade but it really gave me some confidence. As the race season and nicer weather neared, I eased myself out of indoor climbing but resolved that I wouldn’t give climbing this season. As I planned out my races, I made sure that I tentatively marked weekends for climbing trips.
So I guess the question is…is there a really an ‘off’ season for us? 🙂 I imagine that my off season will look a bit different with school and what not but I guess we’ll find out!