Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Little Steamboat that Can

I am slowly but surely getting back into shape. I need more recovery days than I'm used to and every little workout makes me sore but it feels good to be consistent again. Today, I jumped on the tri bike for a 1 hour workout. I wanted to test out the 'ole legs. Afterall, I have a race on Sunday! My first triathlon since...March?...of this year. Yikes!

This Sunday, I'm going to do the Bonelli Olympic Distance Triathlon (aka the "Steamboat Triathlon, and hence the cartoon at the top) in San Dimas (, the LA area. Since I'm out of shape, I'm just doing it as a long, fun workout. I tried swimming 1500 straight in the pool on Tuesday. Except for being a little slow and getting out of the water with a sore shoulder (the mountain biking and weights didn't help for that either), I was pretty happy with myself.
Today's bike was great too. I headed out of my new apartment on a different route. One thing I learned today: Carlsbad is hilly. Hill after hill arose, and I diligently climbed each one. I've always been weak on the bike. My hope is that the mountain biking will make me a better climber. Don't know if that is working yet but it feels like it might be making things a bit easier. Even if it's the placebo effect, I'll take it.
Funny thing is, I hate climbing on the road bike but love climbing on the mountain bike. There is so much more to think about on the dirt than the agony of your heart bursting through your lungs and the lactic acid burning holes in your legs. For instance, the fear of falling, the fear that the bike might topple over backwards, or the fear of puking. Afterall, the hills are SO much steeper in mountain biking. I didn't realize this until I began running some of the same trails I had biked the week before. On the bike, I had chastised myself each time I failed to get up the hill, cursing each time I had to get off and walk. Then, after running it, or more like walking with my arms swinging, I didn't feel so bad. I mean, jeez, some of those hills are practically vertical. I didn't know I would need ropes and a harness!
Of course, on our last mountain bike ride, I made the mistake of cheerfully piping up and proclaiming, "I just love climbing on the mountain bike! I mean, I really LOVE it!" Two seconds later, I attempted to climb a hill that was so steep, it rose its ugly head before me like a sheer wall. I did the walk of shame to the top. Even the walk killed me. I was forced to rest, bent over the handlebars, catching my breath and trying not to hurl. On the next hill, almost as bad as the last, I valiantly struggle to keep pedaling, keep pedaling as Blake yells, "Lower your chest! Scoot your butt forward on the seat!" I want to yell back at him that I am doing those things, and I'm trying, and I'm doing the best I can, and to shut the F*#k up but I have absolutely no extra breath to do anything other than heave and gasp up the hill. At the top, I collapse to the ground. I wave Blake off. I just need to sit for a few minutes. It's been a long time since I've had to do that but I don't question what my body needs. I just obey. We both patiently wait. Despite a low level of self loathing, I am simultaneously proud of myself for having made it this far. After a few minutes, my breathing and heart rate lowered, we climb back on our bikes and continue on for a few more hours of glorious trails. Please, sir, can I have some more?
But I digress. This post started about getting ready for a race that I'm not in shape for and my most recent bike ride. The hills on the road, albeit boring, do seem a little easier lately. And then I hit the coast with the sparkling ocean and the smell of salt so pungent, it stings my nose. I can practically taste it. The 101 is fairly flat, and I'm zipping along now, despite a mild headwind. I may not be much stronger on the hills but I'm definitely faster on the flats, like a true triathlete. I come to a screaming halt back at my new apartment with a grin from ear to ear. Time to get ready for Girls on the Run.
Sunday's race should be fun. I like the "Steamboat" metaphor too. Kind of reminds me of the Little Engine that Could. That's me. I may not look tough but looks can be deceiving.


CautiouslyAudacious said...

I have a slight inclination that you are not as out of shape as you may think. Anyone that is going to do an olympic distance just as a workout is in shape in my book! :-) Have fun!

Diana said...

I've done a lot more biking this summer since the feet are healing and I've actually come to the reality that I kind of like hills! They suck in May, but as the season goes in September, what once seemed to be unobtainable is now not even noticed as being a hill!
Good luck in the triathlon this weekend, can't wait to hear all about it.

Mike said...

Have fun at your Oly this weekend! It sounds like you have a great attitude towards it.

Grey Beard said...

Have fun on the OLY Rachel!

I assume you'll be swimming in the Puddingstone Reservoir? I learned to fly at Runway 37 at Brackett Field next door. Puddingstone was the only safe place to ditch if the engine quit.

Btw, there used to be some authentic Japanese Baths up on the hill overlooking Puddingstone and Brackett between Bonelli Pk and Fairpark Dr. Not to be missed.

Beth said...

Such a great, descriptive post. I could 'feel' everything you wrote.

I too feel like The Little Engine That Could.

I enjoy your blog.

Take Care,