She’s BAAAAAACK!

Hey all! Well I took a little bit of an unforeseen hiatus from the ol’ #bloglife there for a bit. The truth is: that dang triathlon really took it out of me. After that Cry-athlon bit, I decided to nose to the grindstone and do the damn thing.

Running the race, I was a ball of nerves and jitters. I had been preparing for months to do it so I knew that my body could handle the race, but as everyone says “you never know what will happen on race day…”

With my Coach Doug

With my Coach Doug

Luckily for me, the weather dropped 30 degrees on the morning of the race, leaving us with an overcast and breezy clime–quite similar to that of San Francisco! How ever as soon as we got out of the gate and onto the swim course, the winds picked up and the waves came crashing over my head. I have never fought so hard for a swim. Each time as I turned my head to breathe, I choked on water and eventually I was forced into the backstroke. Around me I saw people getting seasick, crying and hanging on to the buoys for dear life. It was atrocious.

Words can’t describe how scary this swim was actually. But I think that everything happens for a reason. I think without having had my freak out, something bad may have happened to me in that water. But I didn’t panic and 50-minutes later I triumphantly made it to the shore.

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The rest of the race was a breeze, well I mean as much of a breeze that a 25-mile bike ride and a 6-mile run can be. It felt SO good to finish. I cried. I hugged. I called Moms. And then I basically slept for the next 6 days straight.

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Since then I’ve been nursing a slight foot injury and things are now feeling much better. While my life swung very intensely in the direction of the Tri, I’m now working towards reestablishing a sustainable balance.

I want to send a huge THANK YOU to all who supported be through my journey. Training certainly wasn’t easy and I could NOT have done it with out my friends, family, coaches, teammates and of course, my sponsors who helped me EXCEED my goal of raising $2,900 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Thank you! Merci! Gracias! Muito Obrigada!

So what’s next? Well. I couldn’t be more excited about that. This summer I have a FANTABULOUS event in store here in San Francisco. I don’t want to say that it’s going to be my best one yet, but really, that’s what we’re looking at. I’ll have details about that with a Save The Date later this week!

Sorry for the radio silence for a bit, but life happens and now I’m glad to be back!

My Cry-athlon at my Practice Triathlon…(and how my 10 year old sister saved the day!)

I can’t believe my first triathlon is just two weeks away!  Actually, I can absolutely believe that.  I’m in the midst of what is called “Peak Week” the period where our coaches push us to our fitness limits in preparation for the big race: swims top out at 2600 meters, runs include long hills, and three days a week we have two workouts each day.

It’s been tough, but the results are showing and I feel my body arriving at peak endurance condition.

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Me in my “Trisuit”—the one piece of glory in which I will swim, bike and run! (Not Alcatraz in the background…”

Which is why this past weekend, I was particularly excited to put it all to the test in our team’s Practice Triathlon!  Our coaches had arranged a day that would simulate the actual race as closely as possible.  We arrived at 7:45AM to set up our transition areas, clip our bibs to our jerseys and be “marked” by Sharpies with our age and race numbers on our arms and legs.

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My transition area: everything I need for the race including water, snacks and route maps.

Soon about 50 of us diving into the San Francisco Bay at the same time and racing towards the buoys.  Pretty immediately the familiar feeling of exhaustion that comes with fast-paced swimming crept into my arms and I slowed my pace to catch my breath.

“march of the penguins”…into the Bay

I'm somewhere in this melée.  Please note San Quentin in the background.  Apparently my team does well to swim in front of California's prisons.

I’m somewhere in this melée. Please note San Quentin in the background. Apparently my team does well to swim in front of California’s prisons.

The issue is, I never caught my breath.  My heart continued to race faster and faster, despite my slow pace and eventual transition into doing the backstroke.  My wetsuit grew tighter and more constricting.   I eventually started coughing uncontrollably.  My goggles filled with tears and in emptying them accidentally filled with Bay water.  My swim cap fell off.  I doggy paddled.  I tried to meditate.  I swam. I floated. I floundered. And I STILL couldn’t catch my breath.

 
 

It was an absolute disaster.

 
 

One of my coaches asked if I was okay from a nearby kayak and I shook my head no through a haze of tears and a fit of coughing.  I had somehow managed to finish the .7 mile swim course, but she towed me to shore.  Dazed and confused, I peeled off my wet suit, strapped on my bike shoes and headed out for a 18 mile ride followed by a 4-mile run on shaky legs and weakened lungs.  For me, it turned out to be the hardest run and ride of the season.

 

Me somewhere along the bike route

Me somewhere along the bike route


 

Crossing the mock finish line, I officially became a triathlete, but instead of joy I felt defeated and sad with a complete loss of confidence.

 

So I did what any normal girl would do: I called my parents crying. After reassuring conversations and pep talks from both,  my phone rang from the landline.  It was my 10-year old sister Skya.

 

I told her about how I had struggled in the water and how it was really scary to not be able to breath and how the rest of the triathlon was so hard—then asked what she thought.

 

Her words: “Well, Cass.  I think it all just caught up to you.  You’ve been working SO hard on this one thing and then you realized that this is ACTUALLY happening and you got nervous.  So what you need to do is stay positive and remember that you’re a good runner, a good biker, and a good swimmer.  You can do it!”

 

Verbatim.  From a 10-year old.

 

I’m glad I got this panic out-of-the-way before race day.  As Skya reminded me– after three months of training I AM a good swimmer, a good biker and a good runner.  I CAN DO THIS!

 

In a recent team “Mission Moment” I shared with them the story of my sister Keagan and dedicated my triathlon to her in honor of doing this event for those who can’t.  I’m going to share my dedication now to include our other sister Skya, whose positivity and encouragement will help me get across the finish line.

 

Cass, Keagan and Skya!

Cass, Keagan and Skya!

Any words of wisdom, advice or encouragement are very welcome as I head into this last phase!  I can’t wait to share my Wildflower experience with you soon!!

The Final Four…(weeks that is.)

I heard a little rumor that an important basketball game is on tonight, but honestly, I’m much more focused on my final four weeks of triathlon training!  I can’t believe that two and a half months of training have already past and I’m in the home stretch before I swim, bike and run the Wildflower course!  I’m excited to cross the finish line, but right now I am:

Sore and satisfied.

Tired and hopeful.

Excited and anxious.

Hungry for more, but REALLY hungry for food.

When I signed up, I knew that training was going to be hard but I’m starting to feel like now things are about to kick into high gear as we’re coached into putting each of the events together.  This past weekend was filled with a couple of intense workouts that included coaxing my legs into a 2 mile run after a 30 mile bike (and I’m supposed to do it for six!?!), donning a wetsuit and swimming in 50-degree Bay water,  and running 5 miles–all in a decent amount of rain.

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The process thus far has not only gotten my body into good physical shape, but has put me in a very focused, determined and disciplined headspace.  It’s been rewarding to see muscles appear where there weren’t any before and get to a place where running a track practice no longer feels like a chore.

But I will admit it, there have been (and still are!) many a time where I’ve questioned my ability to do this race.  As I said: I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t exactly know just HOW hard it would be to balance a full training schedule with blogging, events, work, projects, home life, friendships and family.  Just like when I feel like I can’t make it another lap or finish a hill, if I find myself getting overwhelmed with it all, I just try to take a second to pause and breathe more deeply to get through it.

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After a recent (and delightfully raucous) bachlorette party weekend in Napa Valley that involved more wine than I care to share, I’ve decided to give myself the gift of alcohol-freedom! That’s right, no booze for this gal until after the tri!  It’s not like I’m a big drinker, but I’ve I’m going to put my body through an intense Saturday morning training, I don’t need to go into it after a rowdy Friday night.  It’s rather nice to wake up refreshed, rested, hydrated and ready to go!

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As a participant in the Team in Training program, I’ve committed to raising $2,900 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  The money I raise goes directly to cancer patients and their families.  It’s been extremely touching to connect with those who have benefitted directly from LLS and I’m proud to be a part of this philanthropic effort.  I’ve already raised over $2,200 and have just another 2 weeks to raise the rest!  I can’t say thank you enough to my sponsors who have already supported me and made contributions!  Whether or not you’ve got a connection to the cause, you’re more than welcome to make a donation to my fundraising efforts!

The bottom line is that yes, training is tough, but I’m still having a lot of fun.  I mean, if I wasn’t would I be able to do this??

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Didn’t think so. :)

 

 

 

Just TRI Me: this ish is tight. Literally.

When you think “California” you may imagine palm trees, golden sunshine and bikini clad people scampering around in the waves of the Pacific.  This may be true for people in Los Angeles and San Diego, but up here in San Francisco our beach life couldn’t be further from this idyllic image.  Our beach trips generally require jackets, scarves, hats and mittens.  It’s extremely cold to even LOOK at the ocean, let alone strip down and hop into the 40-degree water.  In my six years of living here, I have been in the water once for a total of 30 seconds, and that includes dipping my toes in.

But as you know, I’ve got this triathlon thang  coming up, which means I’ll soon be having confront the waters of Northern California.  We will be training in the Bay and the actual race will go down in a lake just south of San Francisco, but no matter- it’s still going to be freaking cold.

How am I going to do this?  Certainly not in skimpy bathing suit!  Instead, I will be jamming my body into the thick neoprene walls of a wetsuit.

A couple weeks ago I went over to Sports Basement in the Presidio to take a peek and try one on for size, just to get a sense of what the wet suit experience was like.  I was helped by Lauren, a multi-time Triathlete who has successfully completed many an Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 bike and full 26-mile  marathon run!) so I knew I was in good hands.

Lauren started by taking my height and weight (and unlike the DMV, lying about the latter when it comes to a wet suit fitting can result in very unsavory and painful results) then explained how to put the full body suit on.  It took me about 10 minutes total to get my body fully into the suit.  Imagine pulling on a very very thick pair of panty hose: you have to be delicate, but also use some elbow grease.  Oh you wanna see how I made it happen?  By all means:

 

And once I got myself in as much as I could, Lauren helped me adjust the fit and get me all zipped up!

 

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So how did it feel?  SO TIGHT!  But also, kinda good. It was like a giant bear hug all over my entire body.  Or like a really, really good pair of Spanx because it holds you in at all the right places.  I wouldn’t go walking around in it, but let’s say the thought crossed my mind and I just decided to settle on some good selfies for Instagram…

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Then I had the pleasure of checking out some other tri-gear goodies including a neoprene swimcap (Lola might get cold too!) and a one-piece tri suit that I’ll be wearing on the bike and run portions.

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Moral of the story: lots more spandex and stretchy fabrics in my future over here.  Special thanks to Lauren for bestowing upon me her experience and expertise in the getting me fitted out for the swim portions of the Tri!

Just TRI Me: if the shoe fits….

The one thing I keep hearing OVER and OVER and OVER again is that one of the most important pieces of equipment you can have for a triathlon is a good pair of shoes. I have a personal policy never to invest in a hobby until I do it for a few months so I can make sure it sticks and that I don’t waste money. As a result, I’ve been rocking the same ratty sneakers for the past year.

However, just two weeks into training my toes started feeling bruised and my shins started to ache after mile 2. I knew it was time to see a professional.

I went over to Sports Basement in the Presidio of San Francisco and met with their shoe specialist and running aficionado, Brittany. She gave me an overview of their expansive running shoe department, going over all the different variables from cushion to stability to width. I had three main concerns when it came to picking out my kicks:

  • My chronic knee injury (a torn meniscus) that allows me to run, but definitely needs to be taken in to consideration
  • My flat (and I mean FLAT) feet
  • Color and cuteness, I mean have you see the awesomely bright sneakers out there these days?! #want

Unfortunately, that 3rd point doesn’t get to come TOO much into play when working around the other two issues.  IMG_3341

Brittany had me take off my shoes and socks to check my gait out for any turning in of my knees and to see how my feet connected with the ground.

Although my knee has an injury, my flat feet make it so that I actually don’t need much stabilization or correction in my shoe!  After trying on a few pairs, we settled on a fly ass pair of Saucony’s!  As soon as I put them on and took a little jog, I knew they were the ones!

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Then I saw my reflection in the mirror and realized that not only did they fit my feet perfectly, but subconsciously I must have known that these would be coming home with me because they matched my outfit perfectly.

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I’ve run several miles in these shoes now and they are fast like FIRE!  I’m totally digging them—what a difference a professional fitting makes! Special thanks to Brittany for her expertise in helping to keep my feet [knees and hips] happy as I train for Wildflower!  If you’re in the Bay Area, be sure to swing thru Sports Basement to check out their selection and have their staff help you find the perfect shoes for you!

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Just TRI Me: Diving In + How YOU can support my triathlon cause!

I’m just rounding out my third week of tri-training and, well, things have gotten real.

Training. Is. ON!

WHEN ISH GOT REAL

This past Sunday our first team swim/bike practice was scheduled, which was the very first time we were to do two sports in one day. It wasn’t so much that it was time to do back to back swimming and biking, but the fact that upon arrival to Sir Francis Drake high school that I was confronted with the reality that unlike the pool where I’ve been training on my own, THIS pool was outdoors.

And it was 34 degrees out.

At 8:00am.

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It took every fiber of my resolve to strip down to my suit on the pool deck and hop into that water. At the time there was nothing I’d rather be doing less than swimming outdoors in near freezing weather. I spent the practice swallowing massive gulps of water while attempting to fill my lungs with air as I made my way up and down the length of the pool. Eventually I found my pace and completed what was definitely the most challenged practice yet for me. The next day, I couldn’t lift my arms, but I felt accomplished that I had made it through and just two days later I found myself doing the exact same workout! RELENTLESS INDEED!!

Training for a Cure

I’m participating in a program called Team In Training, which raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. As a team, we have a goal of raising $308,000 to support the cancer patients and their families, while pushing forth for a cure to devastating blood cancers. I have a personal goal of raising $2,900 to contribute to this cause.

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Cancer has impacted almost all of us and our communities; I am proud to be raising money to support finding a cure. It’s this greater cause that keeps me going when I don’t think I can possibly run another lap, pedal up a hill or get out of bed at 6:15am on a Sunday to dive into a pool.

Support The Cause!

Many of us have a connection to cancer and as I train, I’d love to invite you to share your stories with me and the NaturalSelectionBlog so that I can keep them in mind as I keep on keeping on. Feel free to share them in the comments or email them to me at cassidy[at]naturalselectionblog[dot]com.

If you are willing and able, I very much welcome your contributions to my fundraising goal! Any amount is much appreciated and never fear, you will be very much thanked in a special way here on the ol’ blog. To make a contribution, please visit my fundraising page!

Next up in Just TRI Me : the story my fire feet!

Why oh why did I sign up for this?

Y’all, I did something crazy.  Like, really crazy.  What is it you ask?

Welp.  I signed up to do a triathlon.

Obviously in the grand scheme of cray, it’s not Britney Spears head shaving or anything like that, but for the next four months I will be swimming, biking and running 6 days a week.  THA SHI TOTES CRAY, SON!

Now you’re probably wondering, how did this all happen?  Let me explain:

Last year I started running because I decided to make an effort to overcome my lifelong mental aversion to it.  I hated it at first, but I stuck with it and now I can rock it.  A few weeks ago I was out in the park for a quick little jog when I began to think that I actually wanted to get BETTER at running.  Knowing myself and the aforementioned aversion I realized that the only way I could get better at running was if I had someone pushing me to do so.  This got the gears in my head a-churning thinking about the other things I wanted to get better at and the next thing you know I was sitting at my computer researching the glorious, yet terrifying, triathlon trifecta of swimming, biking and running.

A few years ago I did something called the AIDS/LifeCycle which is a 570-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles geared towards raising funds for and awareness of AIDS.  It was one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences of my life not to mention I got in really, and I mean REALLY good shape.

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Me with my trusty steed at the halfway point between SF and LA…about 300 miles into the ride!

I figured with a triathlon I could not only get back into endurance sport shape, but also have the direction and focus of something to train for!  So what the hey?!  I signed up!

Out of the gates, I thought I would do a Long Course, which is a 56-mile bike ride, 1.2 mile swim and 13.1 mile run (yes that IS a half marathon tacked on at the end there).  After getting a peek at the training schedule, I’ve decided to scale back seeing as this is my first Tri and all and do the Olympic Course, which is a 28-mile bike ride, .98 mile swim and 6 mile run.  I have been assured that this is still damn hard.  The whole shebang will be going down the first weekend of May out here in Cali.  I’ve been told that the course is quite steep….. o_O

I’m just wrapping up my first week of official training and what can I say: I am sore in places I never thought I’d be, I am constantly hungry, but I am having fun being challenged in this new way!  I’m sure that there will be many more lessons along the way and I hope that you will join me for my journey!  I’m going to be sharing updates on the training process so that you can follow along with the progress of this grand new adventure! There will also be some opportunities for you to support as well so stay tuned!  I can’t wait to share with you the ups, the downs, the learnings, and the GEAR!

Oh the gear.

If there is one thing I have come to realize is that triathlons are basically excuse to live in spandex (which I love) and the truth is that I am one flashy mofo when it comes to exercise gear.  The brighter and tighter the better, right!?  Right.  Lots more where this came from.

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“No, but really, Cass….what sport are you going to do in that outfit?” – My roommate Smiley (answer: BIKE!)

 

Strength training with my roommate Dylan.

Strength training with my roommate Dylan.

So here’s to trying and TRI’ing new things!  HERE GOES NOTHIN KIDS!

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