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 Road to a Triathlon, Week 2

Week two leaves me feeling both stronger, and sore, from head to toe.

I began the week with Pilates, as usual, and ended it with an easy 30 minute run, hoping to alleviate the tightness in my muscles.

Tuesday was strictly cardio, and Wednesday was my first run-through of my strength-training circuit, which I think engaged my soreness! On Thursday, cycling didn’t seem as difficult as it had been the first week. I enjoyed the prospect of transferring this practice into outdoor biking over the summer!

And finally, on Friday, I had a great workout with my personal trainer, using free-weights, ladders, body bars and bosu balls, among other equipment. We achieved a total body workout that left me sore and sweaty in only 30 minutes! By completing a combination of lunges, squats, jumps, bicep curls, lat raises, and bicycle crunches, inner and outer thigh exercises with a stretch cord I found new ways to work my muscles.

I learned, and experienced first-hand, the way that gravity can intensify a workout. Simply doing the same exercises in different positions can affect the way the exercise feels. For example, taking a bicep curl from standing or sitting to laying down puts a different angle on your muscles.

An image of a lying bicep curl borrowed from msnhealth.com and originally provided by Men's Health Magazine

In this case, it also allows you to extend the move further than you would be able to on a bicep curl machine.

I also learned that working out doesn’t necessarily have to take an hour and a half to two hours every day. With a busy schedule, it is often hard for me to find the time to fit that in.

The workout reminded me of an article I read in Shape magazine’s April 2010 issue. The story, “Shortcut to a Sexier Body,” written by Janet Lee, quoted R.D. Tanya Fakhouri, who is a personal trainer and owner of TNT Wellness Group in Los Angeles.

“If you sculpt your muscles from a variety of angles–by changing your hand, leg or arm positioning–you don’t have to lift two or three times a week.”

By making simple adjustments, you can intensify your exercise routine. This is encouraging for those of us pressed for time.

I also think this idea has been reiterated enough that it can be deemed reliable. From my experience, I think the best way to sift through the abundance of health tips that are out there is to find a credible source and to check multiple credible sources.

And one more thing. My trainer reminded me not to forget about resting and recovery. So, today is Sunday. My day of rest. From exercise, at least. Back to homework!


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The Road to a Triathlon, Week 1

In an attempt to alleviate my insatiable need for exercise, my friend and I have decided to embark on a journey to complete a sprint triathlon over the summer. I think it will challenge and motivate me in new ways, and definitely help me get in shape!

To prepare for this lofty goal, I have enrolled in a cycling class through Ohio University’s recreation center. My first introductory class was on Thursday. It was tough, but will definitely be great preparation for the biking portion of the triathlon. The worst part? My butt hurt really badly by the time class was over. The class is 45 minutes every Thursday for seven weeks…so hopefully all of this practice will get me used to sitting on a bike for that long!

In addition, I have finished 1 out of 3 sessions of personal training. So far, I have completed a body composition and fitness assessment, and a weight room circuit plan. It’s a great way for me to direct my time in the gym and get a more effective workout.

Finally, I will complete my first 5K race by the end of the quarter. Possibly two! The last leg of the triathlon measures out to be about 3 miles as well, so I think this will be good practice for that.

After school ends, I plan to set up a work out schedule involving swimming, running and biking outside. I will also incorporate the transitions involved with the triathlon, such as biking and running directly after.

For now, I am concentrating on getting my endurance up for the 5K by running on the treadmill and outside. Stay posted as I continue on my journey!