My First Triathlon!

I think I've said before that I am always better at working out consistently when I am training for something.  While training for the bike trip, I made it a point to ride my bike practically every day.  Since the trip came to an abrupt end, I have only ridden a couple of times.  Even though I actually really enjoy riding and I love that feeling of accomplishment I get when I've been working out regularly, I just struggle with actually getting off the couch and getting started.

I decided that I needed something to train for over the winter so I don't fall into my normal lazy habits when the weather turns cold.  I have been interested in trying a triathlon for a while now, specifically a sprint triathlon.

A sprint triathlon is usually a 750 meter swim, followed by a 12.4 mile bike ride, finishing off with a 3.1 mile run.
It's not official yet since they haven't opened the registration for next year, but I have decided I am going to run the Kansas City Triathlon on May 20, 2012.  I am SO excited to run my very first triathlon!!

I am going to spend this winter working on all three disciplines.  I have actually never swam a proper lap in my life, so Goal No. 1 is going to be learning how to swim laps. I found a community center with an indoor pool fairly close to where I live that offers lap swimming hours.   I'm also going to see if they have any adult swimming lessons so I can learn and work on proper swimming form.  I need to work up from walking a 5k to being able to run a 5k.  I am also going to continue riding my bike when the weather allows it throughout the winter.

Have you ever run a triathlon?  Were you nervous your first time? 


The Pink Ribbon

Image Source: carolsutton.net

A little pink ribbon…we all know what it means.  The pink ribbon is the worldwide symbol for breast cancer awareness.  Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the pink ribbon is everywhere.  NFL players are wearing pink shoes and reading plays off pink notecards; NASCAR drivers are driving pink cars and sporting pink hats.  But even with all this pink in my face all month, I never really stopped to think about what it all meant.

This past week, I became aware of breast cancer in a way I hoped I would never have to.  My aunt revealed to me that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. 
If caught early, breast cancer is very treatable.  In fact, according to the Breast Cancer Institute, there is a 100 percent five-year survival rate for those whose breast cancer is caught at the earliest stages.  However, my aunt is the type of person who stays away from doctors at all costs.  She is 50 years old and had never had a mammogram until recently.  Now she has been diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer that has spread to her bones…incurable.

My family has always been very private, so this is a hard thing for me to talk about.  I can’t even imagine the fight my aunt is in for.  I feel scared and helpless and just wish I could think of a solution that would make everything better.
Now seeing all the promotion for Breast Cancer Awareness Month has taken on a new meaning.  Some of the advertisements out there are cute and catchy.

But there is nothing cute about breast cancer.  1 in 8 women will contract some form of breast cancer during their lifetime.  Please take a minute today to check yourself for lumps.  Learn about how to do a self-exam here.  If you're over 40 or have a history of breast cancer in your family, talk to your doctor about scheduling a mammogram.  Something so simple (and relatively painless) could save your life.


A Weigh-In...Finally

I have been avoiding a weigh-in for a while now.  It's easy to see from my lack of posts that I have not been focused on weight loss lately.  I decided today that it's time for another go at this.

When I saw the number on the scale today, I wasn't really shocked.  I am very disappointed, though, in how I have done this year.  I came into 2011 feeling like it would be my year for big changes, but it turned out to be more of the same.  I know it's nobody's fault but my own and we've still got 2 months left in 2011, so it's definitely time for me to turn things around.

Today's Weight: 278.0

Goals for the week:
  • Drink a TON of water  (I have been really bad about this lately and have fallen back into the habit of drinking Pepsi with meals.)
  • Eat breakfast every day
  • Exercise at least 5 days
  • Cook at home every day...NO eating out!
I'll be checking in this week to let you know how things are going.


Bike Trip Disaster - The Aftermath

You can catch up with Part 1 of the bike trip disaster here and Part 2 here.

Seeing my grandpa laying on the ground triggered lightning bolts of panic buzzing through me.  I knew I had to remain calm and figure out how badly he was hurt and get help quickly.  I ran back to him and felt relief wash over me as I saw him moving around and trying to get up.  He said his shoulder hurt, but he didn't think it was anything serious.  He was bleeding from his elbows and knees, so my main focus was on stopping the blood.

After the initial shock started to wear off, I realized his shoulder didn't look right.  He acted like it wasn't a big deal, but I could tell it was hurting him a lot more than he was saying.  I grabbed my cell phone and tried to call my mom and dad.  They were supposed to be, at most, two miles down the road waiting for us to ride to them.  At first, I couldn't get the call to go through.  Cell service was spotty where we were, and I started to worry I wasn't going to be able to get ahold of anyone.

I finally got my mom on the phone and tried to explain where we were on the trail.  My mom completely panicked and got lost trying to find us.  After 10 minutes of waiting for her and my dad, I started to think I should have just called 911.  Just then, my grandpa announced that he thought his shoulder was broken.  I felt his collarbone and could clearly feel the bone sticking up where it definitely shouldn't have been sticking up.

That sealed it for me that 911 was going to be our best bet.  I called 911 and explained to the operator that we had just crossed over the Boonville bridge and were on the Katy Trail.  We waited another 10 minutes before she called me back and said the emergency response team was having trouble finding us.  I was beginning to worry that nobody was going to be able to find us.  My grandpa was getting more and more pale by the second and was still bleeding from several places even though I had bandaged him up the best I could.

We could hear the sirens in the distance, so we knew the ambulance had to be close.  I told my grandpa I would run to the highway about a quarter mile down the trail and flag the ambulance down.  He insisted on coming with me and he absolutely refused to leave our bikes alone.  Did I mention that his bike is his baby?  Even with a clearly broken collarbone, he wouldn't leave it.  So we both started pushing our bikes back toward the highway.  By then, almost 30 minutes had passed since the accident.

Just as we reached the highway, everyone converged on us at once.  My mom came speeding up followed closely by not one, not two, not three, not four, but five emergency vehicles.  Then a four-wheeler with two EMS workers came speeding down the trail from the opposite direction.  Everything started to blur together at this point.  I realized I was sweating, sunburned, shaken, and covered in blood.

We spent the next two hours in the hospital.  The doctor confirmed that my grandpa's collarbone was definitely broken and that he needed surgery.  However, they didn't want to immediately do the surgery because of my grandpa's age and past medical history.  Needless to say, the Katy Trail ride 2011 had come to an abrupt end.

I felt so bad for my grandpa.  He lives for our yearly Katy Trail ride.  He talks about it nonstop from the time we get home from the previous trip until it's time to leave for the next one.  I could tell the pain of the broken collarbone was overshadowed by the disappointment he felt for not being able to ride his bike anymore.

It's been almost two weeks since the accident happened now.  My grandpa's doctor decided against doing the surgery on his collarbone and told him that he would have a bump there forever.  We don't know yet if he will be able to ride a bike again, but my money is on him.  If he puts his mind to something, he will do it.  He's already talking about taking the trip again next October.  It looks like I need to keep on pedaling so I can keep up with him next year!


Bike Trip Disaster - Part 2

 When I last left you guys, I was telling you about how even with a sprained ankle, the bike ride across Missouri was going great.  However, things were about to get ugly.  If you missed it, you can read Part 1 here.

After resting for an hour, I was ready to tackle “the hill.”  I have ridden the Katy Trail a few other times over the past few years.  The Katy Trail is known as a rails-to-trails trail in that it was converted from an old railroad track into a biking and hiking trail.  Most trails like this are relatively flat, and the Katy Trail is no exception.  Most of the time the trail runs along the Missouri River and the trail is cut into the bluffs of the Missouri Ozarks making it a flat, smooth ride.  There is one 12-mile leg of the ride that gets me every time, though.  It is a 12-mile nonstop incline.  Even though it isn’t steep, it never lets up.
The last time I attempted “the hill” was three years ago.  At the time, I truly didn’t think I was going to make it.  This was the one leg on the trail I really wanted to ride this time.  I wanted to show it who's boss.
Since my ankle was starting to hurt quite a bit by this point in the day, my mom offered to ride “the hill” while I followed in the car, but I knew I had to try it.  As soon as I started riding, my heart rate jumped into the 170s and stayed there for an hour and 20 minutes.  I regreted not taking my mom up on her offer a couple of times during the ride, but I was so proud when I pulled in to the trailhead at the end of "the hill."  I didn’t break any speed records, but I conquered it.
Stats for “The Hill”
Miles: 12.4
Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Calories: 945!

The rest of the day was mostly uneventful.  We ate lunch, and then my mom and I switched off riding with my grandpa.  We finally made it to Boonville around 3 o’clock.  We only had one leg to ride before stopping for the night.  At this point, it was starting to get pretty hot.  We were all starting to get tired, but we knew we only had 12 miles to a hot shower, a TV, a couch and relaxation.

Riding out of Boonville towards Rocheport was SCARY!  Leaving Boonville, we had to ride over a long bridge spanning the Missouri River.  I could see the water flowing a hundred feet below me, and all I could think about was the fact there was only a flimsy chain-link fence separating my bike and me from plunging into the frigid water.
I thought it would be smooth sailing after making it over the bridge, but I was wrong.  We had just turned off the bridge and ridden down the trail about ¼ mile when it happened…the wreck. 
I always ride slightly behind my grandpa so I can keep an eye on him while also riding my own pace.   I was just to the left of him when I saw him bend down to adjust his water bottle.  Since he has had several strokes, he doesn’t have very good control with his left hand.  When he bent down with his right hand to fix his water bottle,  he lost his balance and his bike careened to the left.  His front tire went directly into my leg, and I had to hold on with everything I had to keep from crashing. 
Everything started happening in slow motion.  After I regained my balance, I skidded to a stop and turned to look behind me.  I turned just in time to see my 80-plus-year-old grandpa flip over his handlebars and land face down in the ditch next to the trail.
Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of the bike trip disaster.


Bike Trip Disaster - Part 1

Lately I have been telling you guys about how I have been training for a bike trip across Missouri with my grandpa.  The trip was scheduled to happen from this past Wednesday (the 5th) until Friday (the 7th), but things went wrong...very wrong.

Before the Trip

This story begins about two weeks ago.  At this point, I had already been riding my bike every day for the past 5 weeks.  I was feeling amazing.  I hadn't really lost any weight, but everyone I saw was commenting on how fantastic I was looking.  I was definitely toning up, gaining muscle and losing inches.  Over those 5 weeks, I came to absolutely love the time I spent outside riding my bike.  Then it happened.

I was walking in the backyard when my foot got stuck in a groundhog hole, and I sprained my ankle badly.  Before the pain even registered, I started thinking about how I was only 2 weeks out from the bike trip I had been training so hard for.  My ankle immediately swelled up and within a couple of days it had turned an ominous shade of blue and purple from my toes to the bottom of my calf.

I got an air cast for my ankle and wore it for about a week.  Sitting in a chair with my foot in the air was not exactly what I had in mind 2 weeks before the bike trip, but rest was the best medicine.  The week before the trip, I decided to try to ride my bike a few miles just to see how it felt.  My first ride did not go well.  My foot went completely numb after only 2 miles and swelled back up.

Just as I was feeling like I wouldn't be able to ride as planned, I started to feel a lot better.  The swelling was almost completely gone by the day of the bike trip.  I decided to go ahead and ride as far as I could and just see how I felt.  My mom and dad were also coming along on the trip, but they were planning on driving a car in case my grandpa or I needed help.  My mom decided that she would take over if I couldn't ride any further and I could follow in the car with my dad.

The Trip

The weather was absolutely perfect leading up to the trip.  The sun came up at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday, and my grandpa and I were ready to go.  We set off riding from Calhoun to Windsor, an up-and-down ride of about 7.5 miles.  It was COLD when we started off and my arms were freezing.  I warmed up quickly and actually really enjoyed the ride.  My ankle felt great and I was starting to feel like I was going to be able to ride the whole way as planned.

We stopped in Windsor for a granola bar and some water and then were back on the way.  The next leg of the Katy Trail was from Windsor to Green Ridge, a flat and easy 8.8-mile stretch.

Next up was Green Ridge to Sedalia, 12.2 miles.  By this point, my ankle was starting to hurt a little bit, but I was so proud that I had ridden almost 30 miles and was still feeling fit!!  Once we pulled into Sedalia, we decided that my mom would take the next leg of the trip.  I took that hour to ice my ankle and get ready for my next ride.  I was shocked when I looked at my heart rate monitor.  I was having a ton of fun and had burned a TON of calories.

Stats for the Calhoun to Sedalia ride:
Miles: 28.4
Time: 3 hours, 11 minutes
Calories: 1552

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the bike trip where things take a BIG turn for the worse!