15 March 2013

triathlon club: pre-practice race preparations

i haven't written in awhile.  

not because of lack of interest, because i do have an interest in sharing my experience.  maybe this is something every blog writer goes through at one point or another.  

first things first, i was sick from thanksgiving through most of february.  that is a long time to be sick.  not the same illness...the first wave went from thanksgiving, through christmas, then let up mid-january.  and i thought, "hooray!  it's over!"  i got to breathe clearly for 2 days before i got all the symptoms again.  so i went through it a second time.  during this bout, i found it harder to get up early and go to swim practice because the congestion was worse than the first time.  i also thought maybe it was the swimming and pushing myself to the extreme that was making me get sick over and over again.  so i let up on the swimming and just tried to do the spinning and running practices as i could.  i got over the second illness and got hit with a weird cramping in my abdomen, which i thought might have been female cramping (sorry guys) but i'd just had that the week before and this was more intense and more frequent.  i put up with it for a weekend but i was very uncomfortable and exhausted from feeling ill for 3 straight days.  i went to the dr and she told me it was probably bladder spasms, and that i was dehydrated and that i should drink a lot more water, every day, for the rest of my life.  gee, thanks lady for breaking it to me lightly.

however i took her advice and really pumped up the water drinking and that has seemed to lessen the symptoms a bit, though i'm still not sure what the cause of the spasms was.  but i digress.

it was good for me to get all full of water as i had my practice triathlon coming up!

one more problem presented itself:  i did not have a road bike to ride for this race.  so my #1 priority for the week before the race became to find the perfect bike for me (in this town of bike shops on every corner) and perhaps purchase it.  this became a big stressor in my life until i realized i could possibly rent a bike for a day if i didn't find the right bike for me.  still, the pressure was on and i felt a lot of anxiety about finding a bike.

i was semi-nervous about being sized for a bike, as i imagined it to be a sort of intimate measuring session, with some person measuring my exact leg length and the distance between the floor and my sit bones...so there was that.  i asked a friend about it and she said it was totally fine, and that they would measure me and give me a printout.  i thought that sounded pretty good so i went in to get measured.

i went to the first store, which is also our club sponsor, and said i needed to get sized for a bike.  the guys in the shop were clueless and said, "what size?"  and i said, "i don't know, that's why i'm here.  i need to buy a bike and i need to find out what size i am."  he then pointed me to another person in the store who could perhaps help me with this, as he had greasy hands and looked too busy to do any customer service.  

the guy i got was nice and he showed me the bikes and asked what price range i was looking for.  i said i wasn't sure but i didn't need the primo of the primo bikes, and probably could do with a midrange bike.  we talked about what makes certain bikes better, and components, and he looked at my height and said he thought a 54cm would be too small for me but maybe a 56-57cm would be better.  i sat on a few women's bikes before he adjust the seats and let me go out for a spin.  i had not ridden a road bike in a very long time.  it was strange to be sitting so far forward and have some pressure on my shoulders and also my neck.  but the gear shifting was nice and i was able to go FAST!  

i will mention here that there was no actual measuring that went on at all.  i have no idea how long my legs actually are, and no attempt was made to measure my actual body.  this was done totally by "how does this bike feel to you?" trial and error method.  which i guess was OK but i thought there would be more of a scientific procedure.  and i never got a printout.

i went back the store and tried out some higher line women's bikes, then some men's bikes, and then a carbon fiber bike which was out of my price range but since i was there...i didn't notice a ton of difference, but then again, this was my first time out on a road bike; i don't have the experience of how bikes feel on the road like people who have been biking for years and years.  i probably rode 6 bikes up and down the bike path, zooming along, yelling out "on your left" or "on your right" to all the pedestrians out for a stroll.  the nice thing about this day was that it was cloudy and cool.  that changed the next day (...to be continued...)

then i said i'd like to take a demo bike out for a longer ride and try out some hills (as the bike path doesn't lend itself to hills, and i was trying to figure out if i wanted the 3rd gear wheel up front or not).  so he got out 2 demo bikes and i got to ride them - they were both nice bikes but one was supposedly $5000?!  that's crazy.  i didn't need that kind of stress on me if something happened to it, so i signed up to take the lesser bike the next day.

that night i went home and did a little research about bikes and sizes and prices and other bikes in that range that might be available to me.  

the next day, before i went and picked up my demo bike, i went to a second bike store, that isn't the club sponsor, but i've always had good luck there and i consider them my "preferred" bike store in corvallis - THE CORVALLIS CYCLERY.  i told them that i would like to try out 2 of their models that i'd looked up the previous day. riding this day was a little more challenging because the weather was so nice, there were people all over the place on the bike path and i really couldn't go as fast as i wanted to.  i tried them out and they were both really nice rides, and then the salesman said, "would you like to try the women's 56cm bike?"  and i said, "yes i would" and he brought it around and i was like, "yeah!"  it was great from the moment i saw it.  and when i rode it around, i noticed that i could almost not feel the seat beneath my butt.  i decided that this was the bike for me.  and it had the 3rd gear wheel up front.

i still wanted to try out the demo bike so i asked them to hold this bike for me and i would come back the next day.  then i picked up the demo bike and took it for a longer ride.  as expected, i needed the tiny gear wheel for going up hills.  unlike most people, i'm wimpy at hills and need as low a gear as i can get.  so i was totally happy that i got the chance to try out this demo bike, but i knew i was going to get the other one.  so i took the demo bike back and said, "thanks guys!" and then went to the other store and got the women's bike. 

keep in mind this is the thurs/friday before the saturday race.

on friday i picked up the bike and my new accessories - helmet, light, lock, gloves, tire repair kit - and headed home to try to figure out the rest of the preparations.

meanwhile, throughout the week, every night i was looking up something else about triathlons.  i really had no concept as to how one would go from swimming to biking.  was there changing involved?  showering?  do you really do the race covered in chlorine?  where do we put our clothes?  will someone watch our wet stuff?  the transition zone concept had not really entered my mind, as all the videos i saw only showed one bike and how to do things more quickly like tape your sunglasses to your frame or put your shoes on the pedals and slip into them as you start to ride.

but i did find a website that let you make your own list of things to pack and it had all the things listed.  i was glad i found this because it made packing easier that night.  here's what i came up with:

morning of race:  check weather / temperature


2 sets of goggles
swim cap

wind breaker
bike gloves
warm gloves
water bottle (1/2 gatorade, 1/2 water)
repair kit - extra tube, CO2 adapter, CO2 canister, bike tool
repair kit bag

headband  / bandana

aveeno baby
energy bar
throat drops
towel to dry off your feet
post race dry clothes
extra water bottle for after race

on top of all this, i decided that i needed to check out the bike and run courses for the race before the actual day of the race.  so when i went on the bike demo ride, i rode part of the bike course.  it was mostly flat so i was happy about that, though there was one part i didn't do that was slightly hilly but definitely low hills - no exceptional climbs.  on monday i had gone to spin practice and i watched my bike computer, and i noticed that at 20km (12miles) that i was at 47 minutes.

and for the run, we did the whole course on wednesday at running practice, so i got the feel for how it was going to go.  i think i finished most of the course in 28 minutes, and that was on fresh legs.  i was figuring on 30 minutes for the run.

(did i mention that i basically didn't get any work done this week?  good thing there wasn't high pressure for me to get things done because i simply didn't have time with all this preparation!)

with all that in mind, i ate a late dinner, chugged 2L of water, and put out my breakfast so that i could get up early-ish on saturday (7am) and get my food eaten by 8am so i'd be digested by 10am.  

wish me luck!

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