Tuesday, September 21, 2010

50 Miles for a good cause!

Saturday I completed a 50 mile bike ride in Kennebunkport, ME for Autism.

3:30 AM is quite early, but as it turns out, I already had a setting in my watch for 3:30AM?   I met up with friends Ethan and Michele @ 5AM and off we went on our 2 hr drive to ride our bikes for 4 hours. Turns out, Ethan ALSO had a 3:30AM already programmed into his alarm! (is there a therapy group for this?).

Michele and Ethan are great riders and agreed to ride "with" me, as I am much slower than they are. So supportive, although riding behind Ethan is like riding behind Andy Schleck! 

The day started off VERY cold! When we left MA, the temperature was in the mid-50's, but by 8AM in Maine, the temp was 41!  We layered up and I looked like a clown, oh well I was warm.  On a good note, each of our long sleeve shirts matched our socks!  There were about 80 riders in total for 2 separate rides, one 25 mile ride and one 50 mile ride.  The ride was absolutely amazing!

We rode along the coast and the temp eventually got up to a very respectable 60!  We even rode past the Bush Compound.  I didn't know it was the former president's house until AFTER I took the picture.

Speaking of taking pictures, I added the bento box on the bike for my Gu Chomps, but it also fits the blackberry nicely! Apologies for the quality of these pics, but its the best I can do while RIDING.  I can take pictures with my RIGHT hand, but have trouble with my left.  The following picture is what happens when I try to do it lefty!  I even have trouble taking the water bottles out lefty, so I should work on that!

Up until Saturday, my longest ride had been around 30 miles.  Leave it to me to increment a ride by 40%.  A normal person would increment by oh, 5%.. not me ;)..

At the beginning of the season I put this ride on my schedule so I would be forced to ride this distance by the end of the year. I fully expected to be in better shape by now, but .. well no buts, I just didn't get to where I expected.

Around mile 30, I thought "ok here we go - uncharted territory" - the first 30  miles were great, had a pretty good avg speed!  - Then Miles 30-38 felt like I did another 30 miles!  I thought, "HEY is my computer broken?? "   My legs started to fatigue a little, but in a good way.  My quads and hip flexors were getting some use that they hadn't seen to date!  My new bike shorts were doing the trick for other parts, so I was going to live.

I had an interesting revelation at Mile 42.38 and yes I know that number exactly.  Michele and Ethan had a discrepancy on their computers so I said "well mine is GPS: 42.38" - then I thought about that.. FORTY TWO MILES?? seriously I just rode FORTY TWO MILES? WOW!  I remember earlier in the year when my 12 mile loop just about killed me.---42.38! ---

That also meant just a few miles to go! woohoo!  We rounded the corner and onto the DIRT ROAD, yea last 1/4 mile on a dirt road was pretty fun (not)!  But luckily I didn't land on my head!  We headed in, and straight for the BBQ!

They were doing announcements, the highest donations, teams, riders that drove the farthest, etc.  Then they mentioned "the youngest rider." - This kid, slouched in his chair raised his hand as the youngest rider.  I thought "hm, I bet you did just the 25" so I went inside and asked how old the youngest was and which ride he did.. turns out he was 15 and did the 25.  WELL!!!!  My riding partner, Ethan is 14 - and rode the 50!  Not only did he ride the 50, but he kept it slow so I could keep up!

I swear, every post I find people that just make this sport awesome, and this spans ALL AGES!!

FYI:   It's not too late to contribute if you would like :)  http://www.firstgiving.com/laurabackus - this should be up for a couple weeks!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I am – Athena!

I am humbled by the number of people that are not only reading my blog, but are taking the time to tell me their stories.  I have people I don’t know telling me their plights, and even how I’ve inspired them to get off the couch.  I find it hard to believe that I’m inspiring anyone but it keeps me writing.  Today’s post is something I normally wouldn’t write about, but I feel that it needs to be said, and I write for all the Athena’s out there!

For those that don’t know, “Athena” is the nice word that Triathlon gives to the fat girls.. and by fat they mean anyone over 150 pounds.  It’s kinda like the “Women’s” section of clothing.. if you don’t know any better you might think “mature” – nope just means fat.  And if you’re like me and Short, you get to shop in “Petites”  -- ok "Petite-Woman” sounds so much better than “short fat section.”  Just like ATHENA is much cooler than “fat chick category.”  I guess it’s better than the men’s category: “Clydesdale” – I’d rather be a Goddess than a damn big horse :)

Fat is a relative term, I have friends that have given me the hairy eyeball “you’re not fat, shuttup, I’d be happy to weigh what you weigh.”  I also have friends that I used to be embarrassed to sit next to on the beach because they’re hot and I felt like I needed to cover up with a towel.   I am, by medical “statistics”  obese- I’ve worked out HARD this past year and, I completed 7 triathlons!  I can swim over 2 miles [updated 2012- 4 miles], I can ride 30+ miles [updated 2012 - 112 miles].  Seriously, they can bite me, I’m not obese, I’m “fit-fat” – is there such a thing?   I know how to wear my clothing, I choose not to wear clothing where my parts are hanging out!  I also choose not to show the tri pictures that are unbelievably unflattering! These are the reasons that people feel the need to tell me "you're not fat."

I hear stories of women who have lost 100 pounds, and are now triathletes!  I am not in that category, you guys ROCK!  I am destined to be a double digit size forever and I thank my relatives for that!  No matter what I do, I will have to drag the extra 30 lbs on the bike (hm.. go with Carbon fiber bike? Or just get rid of some fat).

I’ve learned to be ok with it, fighting with the scale gives me nothing but grief and makes me want to have a date with a pizza.  No matter what I do that needle does NOT move.  I’m getting too old to care about what people think.  So what if those 20-somethings think “omg what is that old fat chick doing in a bathing suit” – it's me and I can swim circles around them!    Triathlon has been amazing, it has given me something to focus on that has NOTHING to do with that number on the scale!

I am learning to watch my food intake for its power and how my body will use it for fuel, not what I will or will not see on the scale the next day. I am learning to enjoy working out for the fun of it, for the greatness of the sport, for the camaraderie of it.  I am seeking new heights in triathlon to see how far I can push myself. 

I’ve had a few people tell me to change the name of my blog, but the real story is, I’m a fat gal, but I’m fit!  I can do an endurance race at over 70-80% of my maximum performance for over four hours [updated 2012- 10 hours]!  Can you skinny people do that :)

I am fat!
I am fit!
I am ATHENA!

**This awesome Athena artwork was created  by Alayna Lemmer  and was published with permission.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Year of Firsts

This year was a year of first for me!  I've been doing Tri's for a few years, but I tackled many of my fears this year, and had many firsts that I hope to not have seconds!!

I have done the following for the first time this year:

  • Started a blog 
  • Completed 7 triathlons in 1 year
  • Competed in a Pool Tri *annoying*
  • Competed with Men *what was I worried about??*
  • Competed in the Ocean *ok that was COLD*
  • Competed in 17 mph winds with 35 degree air temp.
  • Competed in 62 degree lake water
  • Completed my first Olympic Distance *.9 swim, 26 mile bike, 6.1 mile run*
  • Competed with a migraine (2 different races)
  • Added DRUGS to my transition layout *no not steroids, just the migraine drugs, but still an interesting addition*
  • Became a swim coach/mentor
  • Became an official swim buddy coordinator
  • Had my picture on the front page of a race organization site (not bad for a slow gal)
  • Had an article published in a different race director's newsletter
  • Finished Dead Last - complete with my own police escort
  • Finished 2nd Place in my Category
  • Crossed over 1000 miles on my bike *during the Olympic race*
  • Became somewhat ok with unflattering pictures of my rear end and other body parts (inevitable in tri's) 
  • Spilled Chicken Salad in my shoe --TWICE!!!
  • Splashed Milk in my eye
  • Puked at the end of a race (ok not the first time for that lol).
  • Ran 1.5 miles BAREFOOT.. nope not with those shoes, on a track in my bare feet!
  • Rode more than 30 miles in a single training session
  • Swam more than 2 miles in a single training session
  • Decided I REALLY am going to do an Ironman, finish in 17 hrs or not!
Lastly, and most importantly.... 
  • Discovered that this sport has the best people, and the greatest friends!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Season Finale

Sunday was my 7th and final tri of the season!  I raced with two friends Alexis and Pauline!  I can honestly say I was really excited about it from Feb until about June, then I started to freak out.  Around mid-July I REALLY started to freak out!  I had delusions that I would be a running gazelle by then!  Oh how life gives you things that are so different than what you expect :).

I spent August really working on my bike, I knew this was where I could gain the most for the race!  I went into the race feeling reasonably confident about the swim and bike, but really scared about the "RUN."- then mother nature decided to throw me another curve ball - a heat wave in New England!

I've raced 2 races this summer with full blown migraines &  I really didn't want this to be another one!  Friday I was so busy preparing for my parents to visit, trying to catch up with work so I could take a few days off after the race, that I FORGOT to hydrate!  By Sat AM I had a headache.... I kept thinking, great - here we ago again! I kept on top of it and was ok by Sunday AM!  Up at 3:30AM and in the car by 4:20 with my  Peanut Butter bagel in hand -woohoo, I was ready!

I felt great!  When I got to the race site, got my number, then met Alexis - she said "you're going to have a great race, they lost MY number." This meant I passed Mr. Murphy onto her!  Poor Alexis had to stuff her bike on a unmarked rack, then was forced to MOVE it again 10 min before the swim start!

So, onto the SWIM- .9 miles completely around this little lake.  It was very shallow, some parts I could touch the ground with my ARMS while swimming!  I can't imagine how tall people did it!  I saw some people walking,    I started out front right again, I think this will be my spot from now on, I really like it there!    I was kicked MANY MANY times, more than ever, but it didn't really bother me.  I had an awesome swim, I felt relaxed, kinda fast, and overall zen.

There was a really long run, AROUND transition to get to my bike, but I managed and off I went!  The ride was beautiful and fast!  I got a bento box and had some Gu Chomps with me. I have my air traffic control dashboard with me and finally figured out what numbers drive me on the bike (cadence, speed, and average speed).    Ever 15 min I would eat a chop and I kept my numbers in check.  This enabled me to keep a full 2 mph avg higher than I had been!  - VERY happy with my 26 mile bike!  --

I'm still a terrible climber. Even though the hills were tiny, I'm still slow. Every time I slowed down someone would say "hey awesome job, looking good" or something like that, and not until later in the race did I really appreciate that they MEANT it.  I totally thought "ugh, they're thinking 'poor fat slow girl."

I popped in another GU and just WENT, around mile 20 just found this burst of energy!  Some guy yelled out "woah, you look fresh as a daisy?!" -- interesting I thought, maybe I figured out how I need to fuel?

I passed a woman that had been in front of me the whole time, and just yelled out "hey, you're faster than me, and have been this whole race, come-on, you can do it" - so we cat and moused it the last 2 miles.  In Transition she yelled "hey thanks, I needed that." - of course she then RAN..  I knew I wasn't going to be able to run 6.1 miles!

The heat was starting to rage by this time, I have no idea what temp but it was in the 90's.  I started out with my run, which is about 14min mile.  I did that for 1 mile then walked, I can walk the same speed so I decided to just walk!  I noticed this guy in front of me, fit and appeared to be struggling.  He would walk/run/walk/run.  I rounded a corner about mile 1.7 and he was sitting in the grass on the side of the road.  I just walked over, gave him a hand and said "lets go, only .3 to the next aid station, you're walk/running what I'm just walking @ the same speed, I bet you can just walk this."  So he got up, and told me that he had just not fueled properly today.  He was bonked for sure!  I said "they have Hammer Gel at the station, grab a couple, see if that helps." - so he did, and we kept walking, and he started to feel better...

About .25 from the finish line, a police man said "hey its only a short distance left, finish strong!" so he said "ok lets run" --- as you can imagine he ran LOTS faster than I do, so off he went, and I just puttered along.  He noticed I was missing and STOPPED and waited for me!  When I caught up, he said "I would have been a DNF if you didn't pick me up off the ground." - So we crossed the finish line together!

These are the things I love about this sport!  You really do  meet the best people!

And now I've completed an Olympic Tri!
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