Mid-Year Goals Check-In

So even though it’s well past mid-year, I thought I would go back and look at the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t given them any thought.  Which is not how goals are supposed to work.  You’re supposed to set them and then work towards meeting them, not ignore them and hope things go okay.  However, 2018 went completely off the rails for me so it’s no surprise I wasn’t focused on my initial goals.

Finish my 70.3

Well, this clearly didn’t happen.  I didn’t even start the 70.3 or really get heavily into training for it once my labral tear was diagnosed.  And while not being able to race was a disappointment, I still consider 70.3 Chattanooga a huge win.  I got to cheer on so many of my Coeur teammates and sherpa for them at the race.  I had so much fun, and it was absolutely worth being there.  I worried I would be disappointed that I wasn’t racing, but instead I was just glad to be there, and feeling lucky that I would be able to race later.

Get Healthy

This was focusing on my lingering injuries, and I definitely am doing well on this one.  Labral tear diagnosed and causing way less pain.  Ovarian cyst diagnosed and removed.  My labral tear will never be healed, but the strength work I’ve been doing to support my hip is doing wonders.  I have to keep up the strength work but all in all, I’m really happy with how this goal is going.

Diet

Well, I’m still working to clean up my diet.  Surgery kind of threw me for a loop, to be honest.  Because I wasn’t hungry post-surgery, I kind of let myself eat whatever I wanted, because I just wasn’t eating much.  That wasn’t a trend I should have started.  I’m doing better, but my diet is still way too sugar heavy.  I crave it when things get stressful, and I need to learn to conquer those cravings.

Budget

You know what isn’t good for a budget?  Medical expenses.  With surgery and scans on my hip and physical therapy, I have spent thousands of dollars on medical expenses.  And I am lucky to have amazing insurance.  Also, my air conditioner died and had to be replaced.  So my budget is definitely hurting right now and I need to keep tightening the purse strings.  (Which should be very easy since I’m headed on vacation this month.)  I’m not digging myself into debt or anything, but I would like to beef up my savings and start putting away money for some big projects I want to do on my house.  (Fun projects, not things like getting a new air conditioner – which was, of course, worth every penny.)

So the goals this year have been pretty hit or miss, but there are five months left in the year for me to get things into shape.  I already have a plan to straighten out my budget, and I think more meal planning will help my diet as well as my budget.  And of course, I am going to keep doing my PT work and continue to slowly get back into shape.

July Mileage Update

July.  It’s the month I’ve been aiming for since my hip injury was diagnosed.  And all the recovery time was totally worth it.  I’m still far from being back to full form, but I’m getting to race and workout without pain, and it’s been amazing.

July Totals
Swim – 8 miles
Bike – 163 miles
Run – 27 miles

Lower numbers than June, which is to be expected, with a post-race recovery week in there.  Near the end of the month, I also did something that sent my back muscles into spasm and two weeks later, I’m still feeling a bit of tightness in that spot.  Because of that, I took a few days off and even still am cutting my swims short.  Getting old, man.  It’s a beast.

Still, I’m really pleased with the direction I’m going.  I do have to start picking up my running if I want to be able to do the Army Ten Miler in October, but I’m not too worried about it.  I’ll get there.  My only goal is to beat the time cutoffs, and I should be okay there.

2018 Totals
Swim – 37.4 miles
Bike – 1137 miles
Run – 70 miles

I should probably stop planning races

I’ve been joking that in 2018, my body decided to fall apart.  Labral tear, ovarian cyst, and just lots of random aches and pains, mostly related to recovering from the tear and from surgery.  Last week, for example, my back randomly went into a spasm and it still kind of hurts over a week later.  Getting old sucks.

This weekend, I tracked a bunch of friends doing various races, from marathons to 70.3s to 140.6s, and it was just another reminder of why I love racing so much.  It was so fun to see the alerts pop up on my phone or photos from spectators showing up on social media.  I loved seeing everyone’s post-race posts.  Some people set PRs and met personal goals, others struggled, and a few ended up with DNFs.  But everyone was so very positive. Sometimes, a race goes great and sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, your race goes wrong.  I’m so proud of everyone, but especially those who chose to stop when they realized that continuing meant risking harm to themselves.

I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not I want to race a 70.3 next year.  It’s a lot of training.  I did one in 2016, and loved it, but took 2017 off because I couldn’t make things work with my schedule.  I kind of regretted that decision, which was why I was scheduled to race 70.3 Chattanooga this May.  My body falling apart took that off the table.  And I still have a ways to go to be back in the shape I was this time last year, so part of me says to take another year.

The other part of me says “GO FOR IT!”  My recovery is going well and there is no indication that I won’t be able to race long a year from now.  I’ve got multiple double-digit run races already on the calendar for this year, and it’s the run where I’ve got the most work to do.  The next couple of months will certainly give me a good idea of where I’m at recovery wise and if it’s a good idea to try to race.

Honestly, I think my body will be fine.  The big question is whether I want to put in the time.  Training for a  70.3 is no joke.  It’s especially no joke when you’re a slower racer.  It’s a lot of hours.

But I do want the camaraderie that comes with a big race.  I want the challenge and the rush of the finish.

Let’s be honest. I’m going to end up signing up for something big.  I just have to figure out what.

The Plastic Straw Ban and Reducing Waste

bridgesward / Pixabay

On social media, there has been a lot of discussion about cities banning plastic straws.  After seeing the video of a straw being pulled out of a turtle’s nose (?), this seemed like a good idea.  After all, do we really need plastic straws?  And places like Disney’s Animal Kingdom and many zoos already use paper straws.  Why don’t we go that route?

Very quickly, I learned how wrong that thinking was.  I was ignoring the needs of those with disabilities.  Many people struggle to drink without straws.  And I know what you’re thinking.  “Well, those people should bring their own straws.”  And I’m sure some do.  But that can be easier said than done.

Right now, stainless steel straws are all the rage.  I have them.  I like them.  But stainless steel straws can cause issues.  They’re hard.  If you don’t have full control of your head or neck, or have issues with your jaw clamping down, you could injure yourself with a stainless steel straw.  I’m not sure I’d give a drink to a kid with a stainless steel straw, that’s for sure.

Okay, so they make silicone straws.  That should solve a lot of the above mentioned problems, right?  Yes.  Except that reusable straws, while easy for me to clean, are not so easy to clean for people with mobility issues.  Getting a little brush to go into the small hole of a straw can be a challenge.  And that also assumes that the person has the energy to clean it at the end of the day.

And I’m sure many people reading this are thinking “Okay, but there are ways around all of this.”  And while that’s technically true, should we be making it even harder for people with disabilities to function in the world?

Paper straws also aren’t perfect.  They do start to disintegrate.  If a person’s jaw tends to clamp down, they can quickly destroy the straw before finishing their beverage.  And have you watched a kid with a paper straw?  Doesn’t always go so well.

A better solution would be for straws to be available upon request, or simply offered instead of automatically given.  Then if someone needs a straw, they can get one, but maybe fewer people will take the straw.

Also, are we over-demonizing straws?  Any plastic waste is bad, but I’m pretty sure there are many other items that are creating even more plastic waste than straw use.

I’ve become fascinated by people who have reduced their trash so much that they can put six months worth of garbage into a mason jar.

I will never be one of those people.

However, I can make smarter choices in what and how I buy.  I can be sure to recycle everything that’s recyclable and compost everything that’s compostable.  I can be better about bringing my reusable bags to the store.  I can use cloth bags for produce instead of plastic.  I can use cloth instead of paper napkins and paper towels.

And I can try to say no when offered a straw at a restaurant.  (Besides, some studies have shown that drinking from straws can lead to early wrinkles around your mouth, and I certainly don’t want that!)

 

Another OWS Practice

This weekend, I had an opportunity for an open water swim practice, so I took it.  In general, I think every triathlete should get in as much OWS practice as possible.  Swimming in open water is incredibly different from swimming in the pool.  Obviously, pool work is important too, but I’ve seen so many triathletes end up panicking during their races because they haven’t spent much time in open water.

There are some clear differences between open water swimming and pool swimming:

  • pools have lines on the bottom to follow
  • pool water is typically much clearer
  • no plant matter attacking from the deep
  • pool lanes are short, maybe a max of 50m before you get to turn around and push off the wall

But in addition, a true open water experience also involves a big variable – other swimmers.  In the pool, you might be splitting a lane or circle swimming, but there’s generally a lot of consideration for the shared space (except for you, annoying butterfly guy).   However, in open water, it’s every man for himself.

For the most part, I don’t think the “contact” in open water is intentional.  I don’t intend to run into people while I’m swimming.  But it happens.  Someone slower ends up in front of you.  Someone faster ends up behind you.  People aren’t swimming straight lines.  Current pushes you into someone else.

If you’re freaked about contact with other swimmers, the advice is typically to swim wide.  The further you are from the straight lines between buoys, the fewer swimmers you will encounter.  Of course, you will also be making your swim that much longer.  So the best thing to do is practice.  What will you do if you find you’re running into someone?

Some people will tell you “Well, just swim over them.”  That’s not really my style, plus it’s rare that I’m coming upon someone who is that much slower than me that I’m able to pass them that quickly.  I just try to alter my course a bit to get around.  I’ve gotten stuck behind someone who is swimming in a zig-zag motion and had to really go wide to get past.  I’ve also been touched and clobbered by other swimmers.  It happens and you just deal with it.

However, the first time you encounter this, it’s definitely jarring.  So the best advice I have is to go to an open water practice.  If there isn’t an organized practice around you, get together a group of friends and get in the water.  No open water for you to practice?  Then get in a pool lane with six of your friends and get swimming.  Or find a bunch of kids who are willing to hit you with pool noodles while you swim laps.  I’m sure they’ll be happy to do so.

The more you get used to open water swimming, the easier it gets.  It’s probably the part of triathlon that gets the least amount of practice but has the best chance of derailing your race.  So get out there and practice.