Back to Air Squats

This might be small to some, but it’s huge to me. I can do air squats again.

I used to be able to back squat 135 lbs. The very first day I started Crossfit, I did 88 air squats in a row, after 45 minutes of other stuff. But in the worst of my recent health issues, my leg strength bottomed out. I couldn’t get up off the ground using only the strength in my legs. I couldn’t get up off the sofa without using momentum or pulling myself up.

My recovery plan sounds simple. I started more specific-to-me supplements; I worked to decrease stress and improve my life habits; and I’ve been getting substantially more and better sleep. I also started rowing in the morning. It’s low impact. After months and months of new life habits, supplements, and better sleep, and after rowing for a few weeks, I started to think it might be time to try doing a few air squats. The first day, I did five. They felt weird and hard; but I did them. Then the next day I did 10. The next day, 12. And today, I did 18.

I was skeptical though, because all of those were after warming up on the rower.

So tonight, at dinner time, I told Ryan, with a hint of excitement in my voice, “I can do air squats again.” “Yeah? Show me.” “Okay.” I had to psych myself up. I wasn’t warmed up. The last time I tried to do an air squat in the kitchen it hurt like hell and it took me a good five seconds to do it. I hadn’t been ready.

But this time, I did two. And then two more.

I was so happy, I cried.

And before I finished writing this post, I got up and did three more just to prove to myself that it’s really true. I can do air squats again. The strength in my legs has returned. I’m on the mend.

 

Use Your Blinking Indicator!

Today a white minivan took off a piece of my skin all because the driver thought that using his indicator is optional.

I was doing my daily exercise – today, a quick bike ride – and I was going straight through an intersection when the second car in line, a white minivan, suddenly turned right instead of going straight!

Thankfully, I had been paying attention and had slowed down enough so that my collision with the vehicle was decidedly uneventful.  The vehicle scraped my elbow as I did my best to turn with it. I’m not even sure the driver was aware that I’d hit him. He finished his turn and kept right on going. I turned into a parking lot to catch my breath.

Had the driver used his indicator, I would have been aware of his intentions and would have slowed to let him turn before going straight.

Please, people, use your indicators!  Blinkers!  Flickers!  Whatever!  Just use them!

Book Store Flies

After the screening of The Garden on Saturday night, we stopped at a used bookstore around the corner and I bought a book about long-distance cycling for $4.  This was a traditional used book-store with the typical book-store-flies.  You know the ones.  They love books.  They love thinking and talking and sharing opinions. They wear mostly faded black.

Well this group was no exception and when I rounded the corner to pay for my book, I asked, “Who wants my money?” and they immediately broke into a round of quips about who would like to take my money and why. Witty folks.

Then, one girl standing beside me asked if I’d like to see a real “sea-bug” and as I pulled out my dollars I answered, “Well, I grew up on an island, so it may not gross me out.”

“Which island?” another book-store-fly asked.

“Newfoundland.”

A chorus of “ooohs” met my ears followed by a discussion about where it is and which time zone it uses.

Cute.

They proceeded to ask me questions about the province: how many people, how cold, etc.  They seemed genuinely interested.  One guy told me that I was the first Newfoundlander that he’d ever met. So I curtsied.

After entertaining a few of their questions, I raised my hand, waved and said, “Good night, y’all!”

I bet that kept them quipping for a while.

My First Triathlon!

On Saturday, I competed in my first triathlon.  It was a sprint reverse triathlon.  Whereas most triathlons will begin with the swim, transition to the bike, and finish with a run, this race began with a run, transitioned to the bike and finished in a pool.

It was also a sprint distance.  For an explanation of triathlon distances, click here.  The swim portion for the race in which I participated was only 150 meters since it was in a pool.  Typical times for a Sprint Distance Triathlon are between 60 minutes and 120 minutes.  I had expected to complete the race in about 90 minutes given my training times.  I thought I’d do the run in about 35 minutes, the bike in about 40 minutes, and the swim in about 5 minutes, plus about 5 minutes for transitions.  That’s about 1 hour plus 25 minutes.  I would have been happy to complete my first triathlon in about 1 hour 40 minutes.  It was my first!  I’d just be happy to complete it!

img_0067-fbThe energy before the race was electric.  Ryan said after that I was moving faster in the morning than he’d ever seen me move in the morning.  It was a little chilly and I wanted to stay warm so I was jogging everywhere.  The excitement was contagious.

Ryan was able to stand with me on the side of the road right up until the final horn!  I kissed him right before I started running.  That was neat.

The run was hard.  I truly thought that I wasn’t going as fast as I wanted to go.  It was a slight uphill going north and then a slight downhill going south.  So I was able to push a little harder on the return 1.5 miles.  Perhaps that is what saved me?  Either way, when I finished the run, I felt like I could have pushed harder.  Trotting into the transition area, I passed Ryan cheering for me.  That felt great.  Also, knowing I was about to get on the bike added a little energy to my step as well.  Apparently, I like transitioning.

The bike leg was awesome.  I was halfway through the first mile when a professional-looking guy on a tri-bike said to me as he passed, “Reduce your back gear!  You’re on a slight hill!”  So I said, “Thank you!” and did just that.  He was right.  It’s enough of a hill going north that I needed to be in gear 2 and not gear 3.  I was so grateful for that stranger because it really made my bike leg rock!  Going North was challenging; but I was competitive.  Then as we made the turn to the West and ultimately South again, I gained speed and zipped past lots of people on road bikes.  Me and my little modified mountain bike were flying!  So repeat that twice more and that’s how my bike leg went.  I passed Ryan on the South side twice.  The third time, all I could think about was how my calves had been cramping on the bike and I hoped they wouldn’t cramp once I got off my bike and tried to run to the pool.  I give serious thought to whether I should wear my sneakers to the pool or run the half-mile barefoot.  I choose barefoot.  Also, as I turned down towards the transition area, people were still coming out of the transition area on their bikes, having just finished the run.  Apparently, I was in the middle of the pack.  That felt good too.

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At the dismount line, several people stopped all at once and I was too tired to laugh as we nearly toppled all over each other trying to dismount.  I’d practiced my dismounting but not in the middle of other cyclists.  It’s certainly a challenge!

After hooking my bike back on the rack, taking off my sneakers, helmet, socks, shorts and donning my swim cap and goggles, I took off barefoot across the grass towards the pool.  Halfway there, I came upon a girl in blue shorts that I’d been pacing on the bike course.  She too was barefoot and as I passed her I made a joke about how the gravel was horrible on the feet.  She laughed and said, “Heck yeah!” and we both continued our trot towards the doom that awaited me.

I ran into the pool area, unaware of what was about to happen.  While on the bike course, my calves had been cramping.  So I’d been praying that they wouldn’t cramp up during the transition to the swim.  And they didn’t.  Then I hopped into the pool.

Cramp!!  My left leg curled up like a baby fern.  My toes were tight and my calf ached and I had 150 meters to swim.  I was in shock!  What to do?!  I found it difficult and painful to swim the stroke that I’d practiced.  I had no air and no kick to support it.  So I did what felt right: I flipped over on my back and did some sort of reverse frog stroke.  It was slow, but at least I kept moving.  Consequently, I spent about 50% more time in the pool than I’d planned…  But it was nothing compared to the shock I recieved when I got out of the pool!

I hadn’t been able to find Ryan in the stands when I was in the pool.  So many people and I was focused on staying afloat, moving forward, and not sinking due to pain.  I kept moving forward and was strangely surprised and understandably delighted to get to the end of the 150 meters.  We narrowed into one wheelchair ramp out of the pool and crossed the chip mats.  Here was my shock:

The clock read 1:16:44.

What?!  1 hours 16 minutes?!  Really?  I waited around for the results to be posted.  But they didn’t actually get the athena results posted on Saturday morning.  So today they were posted on Active.com.  So, here’s my actual times:

triresults

I performed better than I had expected!!  And I felt great!

The energy after the race was also super happy.  Everyone was congratulating each other and hugging and were super supportive of each other.  Monica met me and Ryan after the race.  We sat on a picnic bench and sipped free coffee from Jones Coffee who were superstars by providing free coffee for everyone.  Ryan and I already love Jones Coffee and we were even more in love with them after seeing them at the event.  Then Monica, Ryan and I went to The Coffee Table for breakfast.  Yum!

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I was a little stiff on Satuday night and on Sunday but that’s the extent.  It’s kind of frustrating.  Part of me thinks that I could have pushed harder on the run.  Even though I finished with my prefered time of 30 minutes.  I tend to wonder what my bike time could be if I was using a road bike.  Next time, I’ll have something to chew or sip that will decrease cramping.  Also, next time, I probably won’t be competing in a reverse triathlon.  I intend to train for an Olympic distance race in the fall.  I might need to practice my swimming more.

Anyway, it was a great little event.  I plan to compete again.  I plan to compete in this event again and I’ve learned that I truly, truly enjoy triathlon.  I’m hooked.  Look for me out on the course, I’ll be the one flying by you on my mutant mountain bike.

Bicycle Overhaul

About nine months ago, the Tandem Arts intern at the time, Taylor Calmus, a former bike tech, bought a bike on craigslist for me.  He fixed it up and we paid him for the bike and labour. It was/is a “Specialized” Hard Rock mountain bike. Gray and pink. He put good ol’ Target Bell tires on it. I bought a gel seat cover and I was good to go…

After riding it for nine months and reading more about triathlons and triathlon bikes, I realize that I should have gotten a road bike. Chalk it up to ignorance.

So my mother gave me a bit of money for my birthday, and among other things, I decided to use a portion of it to get my little mountain bike overhauled into a road-ish sort of bike.  Here’s what I had done:

  • shorter handlebars
  • handlebar ends
  • flat tires
  • peddle toe clips

The bike tech at our local bike shop, Tony, said that lots of people are doing that these days – putting street tires on their mountain bikes. He’s been a racer for twenty years. I bet he thinks it’s cute. But he was super helpful and full of interesting knowledge about bikes and racing. He kindly asked how my training’s been going and helped me find the right gear with which to alter my vehicle.

We picked up the bike tonight. It’s in the garage right now. Tomorrow I’ll lower the handlebars and raise the seat. Before I put it away, I rode it in figure eights around the parking lot in the back. The new tires are so great! The new handlebars are awesome!! The toe clips rock my world!

So Taylor, you’d be bemused to see my little mutant bike. Now it’s even more special. And it’ll carry me through my first multisport race in less than six weeks!

Here we go…!

World Class Fitness In 100 Words

From CrossFit.

Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.

Thanks to Emma.

Free Bike Rentals Are A Good Idea

So I wandered over to River’s Edge Cafe in Tulsa on Friday to do some scouting.  It’s all boarded up.  Someone take over the lease and make it cool again, please!

While there, I made a fascinating discovery!  Tulsa wants people to be healthy!  So much so that they offer free bike rentals!  So trusting!  You have to slip your credit card in and leave a deposit. It’s all automated. And so cool. The bikes are pink so I imagine they have a higher use rate in females than in males.