Swim, Bike, Run–Triathlon Fun

As some of you may know, I’m really into health and fitness. I just love feeling strong and confident in the body that God has given me. One of the ways that I have started challenging myself is by signing up for races. I’ve done 5k’s in the past, but my first real race was the Trial Assail half marathon in Nashotah during September of my senior year. I had such a blast training for the half, and it felt amazing crossing the finish line, especially since I am not the best runner. This year, I decided to sign up for the Lake Country Triathlon for a few reasons. One, I’ve been wanting to do a triathlon for a few years, but didn’t have the guts to actually sign up. Two, I wanted to push myself physically. Triathlons require so much endurance, and I thought the race would be an amazing challenge! I’m proud to say that found a training program, stuck with it, and finished this race with no flat tires or broken bones 🙂

 The Arrival

My alarm rang this morning bright and early at 4:40am. I actually got about 7 ½ hours of sleep since I went to bed before 9pm. Considering I got about 6 ½ hours of sleep when I worked over the summer, I felt great when I woke up! My mom, dad, and I left for the race at about 5:30 am. Once I got to the beach, I got my race chip and my body markings. Then I set up my bike in the transition area. After that, I just hung out with my parents until the race began.

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Swim 0.25 miles

The race began at 7am, the first segment being the swim. I was the last wave, so I didn’t go until 7:40 am. Right around 7, it unfortunately began to rain–first a sprinkle, then a pretty solid downpour. So there I stood on the beach with only a suit on in the rain. By the end, my fingers were blue. On the bright side, the water felt nice and warm in comparison 😉

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My wave (wave 13)–females 35 and under

I never thought that the swim would be a challenge, but man was I wrong. First of all, I had a hard time getting my momentum going. In the swimming pool, I could push off of the side to start propelling myself foreward. Here, I just had to start swimming. Plus, the rain made the water really choppy, so it was hard to get going anywhere. I really struggled to keep my breathing under control, and I was swallowing a lot of water. I was terrified that I was going to drown. I decided to flip onto my back and just float for a few seconds. Then I did a mix of backstroke and breaststroke for probably half of the swim. After that, I was calm enough to finish the swim by doing freestyle. Normally I love water, but today I have never been so happy to be on dry land.

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Mass chaos in the water. See anyone floundering? Yeah, one of those people was me. 

Bike 15.75 miles

Everything after the swim was easy peasy. The bike ride was a very scenic route through Oconomowoc. There were a few hills, but where I live there are tons of hills, so I was prepared. I finished way earlier than expected, even with my slow mountain bike that has thick, heavy tires–not really the most aerodynamic bike ever. My parents didn’t even have time to snap a photo of me as I finished because they thought I was going to be a lot slower.

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Me as I started my bike journey.

Run 3.1 miles

After I finished biking, I dropped off my bike in the transition zone and headed back on the course. I almost started running with my helmet still on, but a nice volunteer kindly stopped me so I didn’t make a fool of myself. The running course was super flat. I didn’t have any music, but hearing the cheers from the volunteers and the spectators were enough motivation for me.

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So not my best running picture ever, but I don’t care because at this point, I was about 100 feet from the finish line!

The Finish

I finished around 9:30 am; my official time was 1:50:12. I had no goal other than to finish, and I am so proud that I did that! I have been training for this triathlon for two months; I’m so glad that all of my hard work and determination paid off!!

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Done! Now where’s my victory ice cream ? (I did have victory ice cream just to clarify 🙂 )

 

I think I am hooked on races now. I just love how you have to push yourself both during the training and during the race. Plus, I love how races are an individual sport. The only person I am up against is myself. I am constantly amazed at all that my body can do, and for that, I am so grateful. Today wasn’t perfect, but I will will always remember this event in my life.

Lots of love,

Hannah

 

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My Health Journey– A Shift from Being Skinny to Feeling Strong

We live in one warped society. Instead of being grateful for the bodies that allow most of us to run, dance, and skip, we stare at our bodies in the mirror and criticize every last imperfection. Yes, there has been a recent surge in body positivity, but many of us are still brainwashed into thinking that our bodies aren’t good enough. This negativity begins as early as elementary school for some children. I think most people go through a stage in their lives where they are insecure about how they look. For me, those insecurities started in middle school. I always felt a little on the heavier side, especially compared to some of the shorter, more petite girls in my class. However, each year as I get older, I realize more and more how much I love my body. I’ve hit bumps along the way, but I’ve realized that I don’t want to be skinny. Skinny to me means weak. I want to feel strong and energized. This is what health means to me now–fueling my body correctly, challenging it, and being proud of all things that I can do with the body that God has blessed me with.

This vision I have of health took a long time to develop. When I was in middle school, I could care less about health, fitness, and nutrition. My mom tried to feed the family healthy meals, but that was about it. I did sports recreationally, but I was not into physically exerting myself. I mean, I would cry when we had to run the mile for gym class. Cry. I just hated running that far (plus I was always one of the slowest people in my class, so that didn’t help anything.) Like I said, in middle school, I was taller and bigger than a lot of the girls in my class, so I didn’t have a lot of self esteem. It wasn’t anything detrimental; I just wasn’t as loving towards my body as I am now.

In high school, my attitude towards health changed. In health class, we had to set a health goal, so I decided that I wanted to run the Make-A-Wish 5k for my neighbor’s team. I found a training schedule, and I actually ran the whole thing. That was such a huge accomplishment for me–going from zero running to being able to run 3.1 miles. In addition, I became very conscientious about the food that I was putting in my body. I really wanted to eat fresh produce, lean proteins, and not a lot of sweets. I was fascinated by the nutrients in food (and still am interested), and I loved learning how to properly portion what I eat. This was also around the time where I found out that I was lactose intolerant, so I was adjusting my diet to not include dairy. It turns out that I got a little too carried away with limiting portion sizes; I ended up not fueling my body correctly. I was on dance team during this time, and I had long practices nearly every day. It turned out that I wasn’t eating enough. So around my sophomore/ junior year, I actually had to gain about 15 pounds. I actually found this to be quite difficult. It sounds fun at first, but having to constantly eat food even when you are already full is tough. It took quite a few months for me to gain the weight that I needed to.

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One of my dance team pictures. I think I am on the left in the far back.

After I had gained that weight back, I realized that for me, I didn’t need to be so conscious about my food. Yes, it is good to be aware of the food that I am eating, but I didn’t need to always measure out portion sizes or look at the calorie count. What I did need to focus on is how my body feels. I think this is the key concept that leads to body confidence– a shift from how your body looks to how your body feels. I started focusing on eating the foods that made me feel energized, but I never limit myself. Heck, anyone can attest that I eat ice cream (usually dairy free) about every other day. In addition, I started doing workouts that I loved. For me, I love variety, so I vary up my workouts all the time–running, swimming, cycling, Zumba, yoga, etc. The final thing that I have stopped doing is weighing myself. I found that if I weighed myself regularly, I would get obsessed with a number. This number doesn’t tell you how fit you are. For instance, people who starts building muscle are typically fitter than they once were, but more times than not, they end up gaining weight because muscle is more dense than fat. Tracking weight cannot be the only way to track your fitness; that’s why I stopped tracking it at all.

Right now in my life, I feel strong. I’m so proud of the fact that I ran my first 5K in high school, and I’m even prouder of the fact that senior year, I ran a half marathon. I’m no size 0. I have stretch marks, knocked-knees, and other imperfections, but that has never gotten in the way of my goals. God has given me a body that allows me to stay active and to challenge myself. Our bodies truly are a blessing. Think of all the people in this world who cannot move the way they want to–due to sickness, a bad accident, violence, etc. I think we all need to remember that it is a gift to have a functioning body, no matter what it looks like. Furthermore, God created us individually in His image. If we constantly criticize ourselves in front of the mirror, aren’t we criticizing God’s work? I fully believe that God created us exactly how He wanted us, so we need to start treating our bodies with a little love and respect. That is why I will choose to embrace my body with all its imperfections, and I will view health based on how I feel on the inside, not on my exterior appearance.

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Me after running my half marathon. Shout out to my awesome friends who came to support me 🙂

I challenge you to think about how your body feels right now? What do you love about it? What has your body allowed you to do? Take some time to genuinely be grateful for the gifts that you have been given!

Lots of love,

Hannah