Our Everyday Adventures

We are not adventurers by choice but by fate – Van Gogh

I TRI with a little help from my friends

Post by:  Veronica

Twelve weeks and countless hours of workouts later, I can finally say that Jake and I proudly completed our first triathlon.  YAY!

Just a small sample of the first-timers. Waiting by the finish line to cheer on later heats of athletes.

For three months, we have been meeting regularly with approximately 20 other first-time (or relatively “beginner”) triathletes and our three coaches—sport veterans who wanted to share the “tri-bug” with the rookies.  Such AMAZING people—I’m going through withdrawals now that it’s all over.  Seriously, all I wanted to do on Tuesday was head to the pool right after work for social hour and swim practice! (Which is saying a lot given my lack of excitement for that leg of the sport!) Instead, Jake and I got a few chores checked off the to-do list and are planning to head to the pool for an anti-social pool workout later this week.  Not nearly as much fun.

Looking back, I wanted to reflect on how awesome this experience was.  In addition to the technical benefits of the clinic (I can confidently say that I swim MUCH better than I did before) the whole experience was enlightening for many reasons:

  • It confirmed my belief that the best way to get into something new is to join a group with similarly-experienced individuals that you can learn with. Now that the tri-clinic is over, I’m looking forward to attending a beginner-intermediate women’s group that meets Monday nights to bike (switching between road and mountain).  Groups provide a great outlet to meet people and provide the structure and support to keep you going.
  • I realized that although perhaps intimidating to begin with—experienced athletes, who are passionate about what they do, love to see new, excited people get involved.  And it’s a great community to be a part of.  The triathlon we did was geared toward beginners, but there were lots of veteran triathletes that volunteered or just came to cheer everyone on.
  • I learned that my body is much stronger than my mind sometimes believes.  And if you just keep kicking or putting one foot in front of the other, you can accomplish much more than you once thought.
  • It helped me to remember to celebrate what I do well (and yes, we all have our strengths) and remember that everyone has something they struggle with.  In our clinic, we had strong swimmers who weren’t so excited about the run and bikers and runners who felt like drowned fish at swim practice (Me!).  It’s really the beauty of multi-sport events like this.

As part of the triathlon clinic, we got a t-shirt that so profoundly states:  “I TRI with a little help from my friends.”  Great training buddies = a very rewarding experience. So shout-out to our clinic teammates and coaches—Congrats and thanks for such a great experience!





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Our First Triathlon ~ Queen City Tri

Post by:  Jake

May 21st, 2011 marked our first triathlon, the Queen City Tri.  Since mid-January Veronica and I have been training nearly every single day for this event.  We signed up for a beginners triathlon course at our local health club, Crossroads Fitness, and with about 18 other people we’ve been learning to swim, running together, and taking out the road bikes together.  The class has been incredible and has certainly provided the motivation, accountability, and structure we’ve needed in order to get in shape for the tri.  It’s safe to say, Veronica and I are in nearly the best shape of our lives because of this class.

The triathlon we chose to make our first was the Queen City Tri.  It’s a “sprint” tri designed for newbies like us.  Registration was limited to 90, and we heard that although the race filled up super quick, 57 of the 90 participants were first timers.  Pretty cool to see so many new triathletes considering Helena is a fairly small town and this is a pretty “local” event.  Registration is capped at 90 because the swim component of the race is done in an outdoor heated pool with capacity for 10 swimmers at a time.   The distance of this tri was a USAT sanctioned “sprint” meaning, 1,000-yards of swimming, 12-miles of biking, and 3-miles of running.

1,000-yards of swimming didn’t sound like that much at the beginning of our class. That is, until I tried to swim just 500-yards and felt like my lungs were going to explode.   All of a sudden, 1,000-yards felt unattainable, and I realized quickly this would be the most challenging component of the race.  Even after countless hours in the pool doing swimming drills, and endless laps, the swimming leg did prove to be the most challenging for me.   The outdoor pool was heated to a hot-tub-like 83 degrees, which felt nice initially since it was a cold, overcast day.  The heat certainly began to wear on just about everyone, and from what I heard from the pro’s it slowed everyone down quite a bit.  After about 23 minutes of swimming, I was out of the pool and onto the bike.  Veronica finished the swim in about 26 minutes, although our transition times were a bit screwed up, so I’m not sure what our “actual” swim times were.

Going through the transition from swim to bike meant a brief barefoot run, down a sidewalk and through some soggy grass to get to our bikes.  We had setup our bikes hours earlier, and placed all our gear on a towel below our suspended bikes.  Sunglasses opened, laying in our helmets, socks rolled to go onto our wet feet easier, speed laces in our shoes… all these things were little tips we learned to help the transition go a little quicker.  Once on the bike, we sped through town as fast as possible, weaving through the pot-holed streets of East Helena.  With heats of 10 people, the course quickly becomes deserted as people get spread out very quickly.  This is a bad thing for me, as there’s no one to “chase” down, or no one coming up on my heals to provide a little extra motivation to pound it out a little quicker.  I was simply out there on what felt like a leisurely peddle through the countryside.  I felt like I could go quicker with a little extra motivation, but coming off the swim, the motivation was just gone…

12-miles later, the biking was done, and it was on to the trail running on a rocky cobble/ dirt trail.  Getting off the bike feels good, that is, until you take your first step to start running.  My legs felt like iron tree trunks, and everything inside of me screamed to stop running.  Even my brain was saying, “it’s ok to walk a little… there’s no one behind you, go ahead and walk…” But I gritted my teeth and kept running.  At about 0.75-miles I glanced back and saw someone coming up on my heels.  I told myself I would not get passed, and kicked it into high gear to prevent that from happening.  I ended up passing someone on the run, and crossing the finish line with a total time of 1-hour 31.43-minutes, good enough for 3rd place in my age group.  Only 1-minute off from my goal of an hour and a half.  Veronica raced two heats ahead of me and finished with a time of 1-hour 39.4-minutes, placing 4th for her age group.

People keep asking us if we’ve got the Tri-bug, and when’s our next race… Although there are several other races this summer, there’s also so many other adventures we’d like to have, from backpacking to rock climbing to simply traveling.  Our weekends are filling up fast.  I do think the triathlon class, and this race were exceptional experiences and were perfect timing in our lives.  It’s motivated us to get back into shape, and getting in shape all winter has opened the door to a summer full of high-energy pursuits.  We will certainly do other triathlons in the future, but for now, there’s nothing else on our calendar for this summer… That could change tomorrow though.

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Mastering the Art of an Active Recovery

Post by:  Veronica

Jake and I have been in full-swing triathlon training for about eight weeks.  That’s two full months of swimming, running, biking and core weight training in some combination 6-7 days a week—except for the two active recover weeks we’ve had—or supposed to have had…

Technically, we’ve cheated.  Not in the way that seems logical—we’re not cheating ourselves by skipping workouts.  Actually, we’re cheating ourselves by adding extra workouts (hitting the pool or going for a bike ride on days off) and failing to give our bodies (not to mention minds and emotions) a break.

Why would the extra workouts be bad?  Isn’t the old mantra—practice makes perfect?  Actually, I’ve always preferred the revised version—perfect practice makes perfect.  Something that is hard to come by when your body and mind are exhausted.

The underlining fact is:  when I take advantage of rest days or recovery weeks, my mind and body is ready to push harder in the more intense days or weeks of workouts.

An active recovery is an important component to any training regimen, because it:

–Boosts the body’s ability to perform during key workouts

–Allows the body to replenish its energy and nutrient levels

–Allows the body to repair damaged muscles and tissues

–Allows the mind to rest (an equally important component to physical recovery) and gets the athlete ‘out of their head’ if their mental energy has gotten in the way of optimal physical performance

When I had the idea to write this post, the active recover week hadn’t yet began.  But I wouldn’t let myself write this article until I’d actually done what I wanted to preach.  There will be no pot calling the kettle black!

So here I am, at the end of my active recovery week—mentally and physically rested and ready to tackle the competitive phase of my triathlon training.  Yes, I followed the recover week workouts, dropping my time and intensity.  My legs (which needed a rest after a 7 mile run last weekend) feel great and I’m ready to push myself harder in this next week’s tough swim and brick workouts.

“Sometimes the most urgent thing you can possibly do is take a complete rest.” –Ashleigh Brilliant

I found these articles on Active Recovery to be interesting/helpful:





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