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I Am a Beginner Triathlete

CIMBy Michelle Reaves

I am a beginner triathlete. I joined STC in 2011 but due to a chronic back injury, I have mostly participated in the social events. I have always had big aspirations, but I mainly kept them to myself since my body wasn’t cooperating. I have been too intimidated to do most of the group trainings because I always assumed everyone was so much better than I was. The thought of people having to wait for me was way too stressful! I tell you all of this because if you are also a beginner, or are nervous to attend group trainings, or participate in races, or increase your distances, or announce your aspirations to others, don’t be. We can do this together!

For those of you that know me, you know this blog is way out of my comfort zone. The reason I decided to do this blog is because I think if I had another beginner to follow, I would have pushed past my fear a bit faster. I hope that by putting my training progress out there, other beginners will feel more confident to get out and train with the club and push themselves harder. If nothing else, I can provide some entertainment to the club.

My race resume includes six 1/2 marathons, swimming in two relays, two Tri for Fun’s, and my biggest accomplishment to date is CIM. In my grand tradition of leaping before I think and then spending countless hours and days wondering why I make the choices I do, my big race for 2014 is Big Kahuna!

Lest you think I am some Triathlon prodigy, I need to tell you that it’s been a long road to get to this point. My back ‘injury’ is a forever problem and one I have to contend with most days. The back specialist at Kaiser told me I could essentially do nothing physical again – ever. Even swimming was out!  After the initial shock wore off, I contacted my General Practitioner and begged him to let me exercise. While I wasn’t setting the world on fire with my races, I have always enjoyed sports and working out. My GP said to do what my body would let me do and not to return to the specialist, because any doctor that prescribes ‘couch potato’ as a solution is not one that should be listened to.

I started going to Dr. Kim at Performance Chiropractic for Active Release Therapy.  It was, and still is, what keeps me moving. Eventually he said I could start working out again.  I contacted Coach Tim Sorensen in the summer of 2012 and we began working together.  My initial goal was to be able to pick up my 10 pound cat.  Pathetic, I know.  I could get down, but was unable to hold him and get back up.  We did a lot of core work and finally I was able to pick up my sweet kitty without incident!DSC_0889

2013 started out a bit aimless.  I did my sixth half marathon in March while training with my cousins group, Runnin’ for Rhett.  It certainly was not my best time but given that I had been on the road to recovery for the last two years, I was happy.  I got to see all of my training buddies again and got to be back out there getting my sweat on! I wasn’t sure what my goal for the rest of the year was, so Coach Tim and I just worked out.  On March 14th I decided to change my eating.  By the end of August, I had lost approximately 55 pounds and Coach Tim ordered me to stop losing weight. Since I always do as he says, I went ahead and lost 5 more pounds. In June I saw a FB post from someone that had bought an early bird CIM spot and then won a spot from the organizers so was allowed to transfer the purchased spot to someone else.  Ever the bargain hunter, I contacted her not thinking I would be the first person to do so.  So without thinking, or consulting the ‘team’ of people that holds my body together, CIM became my 2013 goal.  When I finally told Coach Tim about accidentally signing up for CIM, he was thrilled to say the least!  He created my training plan and we hit it hard.  Just to make life more interesting/chaotic, I decided three weeks out that I wanted to do the TBF Women’s Tri in September.

My goal for CIM was to be under 5 hours. My ½ in March was just over 3 hours, so it was a big goal.  I had major IT Band issues which made getting to the starting line iffy at best, but I was determined.  With the freezing temperatures and my stomach exploding at mile 17 which made me afraid to fuel anymore thus bonking hard in the last 5 miles (my cousin does a great impression of me), I was thrilled to come in at 4:51:10!  I tell you all of this so you know where I started and can appreciate the leap I am taking.  I hope you will take it with me.


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