The Novice Foodie

Just eating real foods, lifting heavy things and learning about it along the way

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Cleveland Triathlon

So I finally did what I set out to do years ago. This past Sunday, I competed in the Cleveland Triathlon Super Sprint distance. Overall, it was a lot of fun and a great challenge, but nothing I couldn’t complete.

In fact, the swimming was even more effortless than I had anticipated. Coming from a swimming background, I knew I would have an edge, but I NEVER anticipated what happened. Standing on the harbor before jumping into the lake, the women in line with me were discussing their anxiety about swimming. One woman even said, “If you stay towards the back, there’s less chance of getting kicked.” In my head, I thought “Or if you stay in the front.”

Once we jumped in the lake for the deep water start, I strategically made my way to the front of the pack on the inside of the 300-yard loop we would swim. As we tread water waiting for the go ahead, we joked about the seaweed brushing against our legs, but in my head I was realizing that I really had a chance here.

It took forever to start, but once it did, I quickly took the lead. Swimming in a lake, however, is not at all the same as swimming in a pool. If I swam normally, with my face in the water, I would end up in entirely the wrong direction. So, I took a breath every stroke to get my bearings and probably cost myself a lot of time. As I rounded the buoy, I saw my closest competitor try to cut me off. I kicked

Cleveland Triathlon Swimming

Here's me in the yellow swim cap, passing some male swimmers (green caps) during the Cleveland Triathlon.

a little harder and regained my lead, but not without her arms hitting my back and legs along the way. I tried to reposition myself for the most direct route to the ladders between the kayaks and male swimmers still finishing before me. In the end, I was the first swimmer out of the water for the Women’s super sprint race. I even passed a few competitors in the Men’s super sprint race that started a whole 5 minutes before the women did. I finished with a time of 5:21, first in my age group and top three for the super sprint race overall.

From all that looking around during the swim, I felt extremely dizzy during the transition. I was also unsure if I was supposed to run to my station or walk or what. It took me a little longer than I would have liked to get everything together, but I figured it was important to be as comfortable as possible for the 8 mile bike and 1.5 mile run to come.

The bike was a nice, breezy relief between my more comfortable mediums of swimming and running. I could tell my bike was well equipped as I passed several struggling mountain-bikers. The route was very hilly, though, and it definitely slowed me down. It was also a cluster of racers, so I didn’t know who was competing for what wave or race distance. It would have been nice to see only the people I was racing against. I mostly focused on my breathing and was even able to reach down and grab my water bottle for some rehydration. (My bicycling balance is improving every day.)

I was still feeling good when the run came, but my legs did not respond to my head. They felt heavy and I was moving very slow. Although my pace felt sluggish, I never stopped running, and passed the girl who tailed me in the swim as she alternated walking and running. I ended up holding a 9:27 pace for the run, which isn’t horrible but still not the best for just 1.5 miles.

I finished in under an hour, with a time of 58:11. My split times are below. See how I stacked up against other super sprinters here, and broken up by age group here.

 Age Rank Swim       T1   Rank   Bike  Rate    T2   Rank   Run   Pace  Penalty   Final
 === ==== ======= ======= ==== ======= ==== ======= ==== ======= ===== ======= =======
 21    1    5:21    3:09    2   34:46 13.8    0:47    1   14:10  9:27           58:11

While researching triathlon training, I came across a recurring sentiment: they are addictive. I can’t wait to sign up for the next race!


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Time to Tri

After last summer’s failed attempt at completing a triathlon, the goal I set seemed to shine even more insistently in the distance.

In March, I completed an indoor triathlon that consisted of rowing, stationary biking and treadmill running. Out of only four female participants, I won the race. Still, it didn’t quite fulfill my goal.

Last summer started off well–I was swimming and running pretty regularly already, and I took a quarter of spinning classes through Ohio University’s recreation center. When school let out, I had quite a few obstacles. I didn’t have a road bike, and I ended up with two internships in downtown Cleveland, putting me away from home from about 7 a.m. to  8 p.m. While I made it to the gym most mornings and evenings and definitely improved my running distance, I was mostly too exhausted to get in a good training session.

This summer, there were no excuses. I had a bike, and I had a lovely lake to run/bike past every morning. And in two days, I will complete what I set out to do over two years ago.

I’ll be completing the super sprint distance of the Cleveland Triathlon. I chose this race because the 300-yard swim, 8 mile bike and 1.5 mile run seemed a reasonable distance to start out with, and a distance I haven’t seen offered in many other races.

Training-wise, I’ve logged over 40 miles of running on Nike + GPS, about 50 miles of cycling, and who knows how much swimming for the summer (not including workouts that weren’t tracked through a fitness app). I’ve become comfortable biking, although I don’t have bike shoes, and I’m pretty confident about the swimming portion. The greatest challenge will be transitions and the run to the finish.

I do feel that I could have trained a little harder. I followed a modified version of a “Tri-newbies training guide”, but there were many times I wished I had a coach to train with, especially for the biking.

I think triathlons are a good sport for me. I have always been better at endurance and pacing myself than sprinting. But the problem with endurance is that it can get a little boring. In my workouts at the gym, I tended to split up my 30 plus minutes of cardio between the Stairmaster, the treadmill and the stationary bike. Upon reflection, the triathlon seems like the perfect complement, especially coming from a swimming background.

So FINALLY, with nervous excitement, it’s time to tri!

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The Necessity of Warm Down

In all of my experience with exercise, I have always been advised to begin my workout with a warm up and end it with a warm down (a.k.a. cool down), whether that means an easy 200 yards in the pool or an easy 2 laps around the track. So coming across this article from the New York Times surprised me.

The idea of the cool-down seems to have originated with a popular theory — now known to be wrong — that muscles become sore after exercise because they accumulate lactic acid. In fact, lactic acid is a fuel. It’s good to generate lactic acid, it’s a normal part of exercise, and it has nothing to do with muscle soreness. But the lactic acid theory led to the notion that by slowly reducing the intensity of your workout you can give lactic acid a chance to dissipate.

Yet, Dr. Foster said, even though scientists know the lactic acid theory is wrong, it remains entrenched in the public’s mind.

“It’s an idea we can’t get rid of,” he said.

I’ll admit, I always wished this was true. After a long swim practice, I never wanted to warm down. I can recall skipping out on many a lap because I just wanted to get out and get going.

Today, I beg to differ. After a swim meet a few weekends ago, I did little to no warm down at the end of the day. The next few days were very sore ones.

One might also consider how warm down benefits a person after an aerobic workout versus an anaerobic one. Would a short and intense weight-lifting circuit require less warm down because the muscles were engaged for only a short period of time? Or would it require more stretching to loosen the muscles for the next workout?


Why I Love Wellness

High school was extremely influential for me. It was the height of my independence and the beginning of the rest of my life in more ways than one.

First of all, it was in high school that I found journalism. I found the place where writing, layout, pictures and computers came together in one place. My brief yet very extensive introduction to the field prepared me for at least all of my introductory journalism classes in college thus far.

And second, high school was when I began varsity swimming. Although I had been swimming for my neighborhood team since age three and began competitively swimming for a USA sanctioned club team in eighth grade, high school swimming took my life to a new level. It taught me about time management, discipline, self-motivation and fitness. Varsity swimming made me a better person, and I loved every minute of it.

Most importantly, swimming taught me so much about exercise. To this day I remember and often complete high school work outs on my own in the pool or the gym. From sets to abdominal workouts, to cords to the weight room, I learned almost everything I know about exercise from my high school swim coach.

After five years of 24-hours-a-week of practice, my body naturally craved exercise. Today, although a member of the OU Club Swim Team, a majority of my workouts are on my own. Although I have rehearsed and replayed the techniques and work outs I learned in high school, I am ready for a change. I crave new, challenging workouts to target my problem areas and increase my fitness level. The feeling after a great workout is indescribable and something I cannot live without.

This is the challenge I embark on today. In my free time, I tend to research workouts and try them out, then evaluate their effectiveness. A new discovery is Self Magazine’s work-out trackers and tips about foods and other exercises. My plan is to compile the most effective workouts and interesting nutrition tips here, from Self and other various websites or other sources.

So, it begins.