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Why Tri Now? — Balancing Act

July 17, 2012

Sounds like Joyce is starting to get into her groove with her triathlon training. As long as she keeps the partying with visiting family reasonable and gets enough rest!

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Balancing Act

by: Joyce Nugent

There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to taking on a training regimen at this age. It is certainly an advantage to be at a stage in life where my kids are all grown and not underfoot. I have so much admiration for women who stick to a training program and compete while having young children at home (like Claudia, my coach, does). When my kids were little it was sometimes all I could do to get into the shower and get meals on the table. Now I have time for myself again and I can head out the door in the morning for a swim or a run without the pressure of having to get kids ready for school or do a long bike ride in the evening without worrying about that science project that is due.

There is, however, the other side of the story. And I mean other than the fact that I am physically not what I was twenty years ago. The downside to having grown kids is that when they come to visit, its time to party, which is great in most circumstances but doesn’t interface well with a training program.

Midway through week four of training, my twenty-something-year-old son Elliot, comes to visit from New York City. It is such a joy to have him here because we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like. It’s his first visit to Austin, so not only do we want to show him a good time, but we have something to prove—that New York does not have a corner on culture, nightlife, music or good food and brew. We have to do the usual touristy stuff like taking him to The Oasis, but also the unusual spots that we have come to know and love, like the Whip In. During the week I only missed one workout, but I can tell you that the quality of the others took a hit. Hopefully Elliot left here not only impressed with what a cosmopolitan city this is, but with how his mother can still “hang” (see picture below taken at 9 PM after a day of working out and working, for proof).

9 pm and ready to party!

Meanwhile, as I wrap up week five of training and enter week six, I am seeing another leap forward in terms of progress. Running has been just so darn hard. I have to be careful not to compare myself to how I did 5 or 10 years ago when I was running two or three minutes a mile faster and consistently placing in the top ten percent of my age group. It has definitely been starting over completely, and in the heat and humidity to boot. I have learned to run with a water bottle, something I never had to worry about in Michigan. But I have progressed to running for 45 minutes without walking, even including some faster intervals.

And swimming? I never thought I would say this, but I have actually started looking forward to my mornings in the pool. Compared to pounding the pavement on a run, dripping with sweat, or hammering on the bike while working to stay within a heart-rate zone, it is so peaceful. The sun isn’t up yet, the water is cool and inviting, and there is the lack of impact that can feel like a relief. But don’t get me wrong. It is definitely a workout.

At the end of last week, I was getting frustrated that I still get out of breath so quickly while swimming laps when I can ride my bike for 100 miles at a 18 to 19 mph pace. I expressed this to Claudia and she said that I am still taking way too big a gulp of air when I’m inhaling and I’m not exhaling completely enough. The buildup of CO2 is then causing me to feel out of breath. She gives me the example that when we are walking around or even exerting ourselves on a jog, we don’t take huge gasps of air in and then slowly breathe out. Our breathing is even, in and out. And we are fine. I realize that evidently I am still not relaxed in this relatively new watery environment and that my anxiety is counter-productive.

I make a huge attempt to calm down and practice a minimalistic approach to breathing, picturing myself as I would running, and see what happens. I realize that part of my anxiety comes from worrying about seven weeks from now when I am competing for 700 meters in open—and slimy—water with people thrashing all around me. I decide to just focus on the here and now, and trust what my coach is telling me.

I take a couple of cleansing breaths and start my 200-yard warm up. So far, so good. After a few drills, Coach Claudia now tells me to swim 300 yards and to determine not to stop at those walls that can so easily become a crutch. This time I turn my head only as far as necessary and instead of taking a breath like I’m about to go pearl diving, I take in a “normal” breath and exhale completely each time. The 12 laps go by without a pause and at the end I’m not exhausted and gasping. Success continues through speed workouts and exercises with the hand paddles. Claudia announces that I’ve made a breakthrough.

Through this training experience, I have gained even more respect for triathletes and the discipline it takes to train in three different sports. I felt pretty proud of myself as a cyclist until I saw that just because I could ride a bike didn’t mean that it translated to fitness on a run or a swim. It has been humbling, but also gives me such a feeling of personal accomplishment when I reach a new milestone, incremental as it may be. And it hasn’t meant that I’ve had to give up having fun with my family, as long as their visits aren’t any longer than a week!

I could get into this.

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About Joyce:

Joyce started her Bicycle Sport Shop career on the sales floor at the Lamar location about a year and a half ago, having relocated to Austin from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Then new to mountain biking and road riding, having been introduced to it just a couple years prior by her now husband, she was previously a runner and an equestrian. As soon as she started riding all she could think was, “where has this been all my life?” and was hooked.  As of April, Joyce became the new Marketing Director for Bicycle Sport Shop combining nearly twenty years of marketing experience at both ad agencies and on the corporate side and her passion for bikes. As Joyce says, “it doesn’t get much better than that!”

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