Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 - The year of breakthroughs

Well, another year has come and gone.  Almost at least.  As I'm writing this, it's 10:10 in my time zone.  I probably won't make it till midnight.  I'm old like that.  When you have kids, and you give up sleep on one end of the clock, you don't get it back on the other (by sleeping in).  (Edited to say that I did not finish this post last night, so it's getting published this morning.)

So, one more year.  What do I have to show for it?  Well, when I look at then and now, I start to realize it's lots.

As 2011 rang in, I had just completed my second 5K race, with the frustration of only "kind of" beating the 30 minute mark I had been aiming for.  Having said that, I was entering the year as a runner and a triathlete-in-training.  My longest runs had reached distances of about 12 km (7.5mi) and I could swim a non-stop 1500 metres in the pool (albeit very slowly), a measly 7 months after learning to swim.

At the beginning of the year, I started a swim program that changed not only my swimming, but my outlook on my abilities.  Most importantly, I started to question the limits I had unconsciously set for myself - something that became a theme moving forward through the year.

In March, I did my first race of the year - my second 10K race.  I went into it with a goal of beating 1:02, but found myself running faster then I'd expected and finished in a surprising 1:00:12.  It gave me a 6 minute PR over my first 10k, but it gave me a taste for more.  It showed me that the sub-60 minute 10K wasn't quite as out of reach as I'd previously believed.  I also changed my blog name in March, from DebShrinks to DebTris, recognizing what my blog had become and the person I was becoming with it.

In April, I did a race that I will always remember, my first half marathon, and probably the most brutal weather I will ever experience on a race course.  And, when I say that I mean it.  I doubt I will ever again hit the highways when I read the words "travel is treacherous and not recommended" on the road report.  That race was a lesson in dealing with what you are dealt - in that case a blizzard.  I fell near the start, and made some mistakes with pacing and nutrition.  In the end, I did make it to the finish line, in 2:40:08.  A learning experience.  No regrets.  Even if I wouldn't repeat it (because I'm not keen on getting injured at the beginning of race season, or getting into an accident on the highway).

Around this time, Bella, my road bike made her outdoor debut.  Along with the debut came a right of passage - the clipless pedal fall.

This happened about 5 seconds after I told my husband I wouldn't be falling over for a picture.  What's that saying about pride and falling?
Along with the clipless pedal fall was the reminder of the lesson my son learned recently in skating: You might fall down, but you just have to get up and try, try again.

Don't look too closely at my bike position or fit.  I've had a better fitting done since this.

Meanwhile, some of my biking continued on my hybrid, pulling a little extra weight behind...


When June rolled around, it meant one big thing: triathlon season.  It was hitting the one year mark since the day I'd pledged to do a triathlon, and the time was drawing near.  At the beginning of June, I did my first sprint triathlon.  It was exhilarating.  I had the bug.  No doubt.  No argument.  What I'd once thought was a "one and done" thing had become anything but a bucket list item.  I was dreaming bigger.  I was dreaming iron.

In the swim session after that first tri, Angie asked me to say four simple words.  "I am a triathlete."  I'd hesitated to claim that title so soon, but as I drove home that evening, I repeated it to myself over and over again.  During those 10 minutes in the car, I went from just saying it to believing it.  I am a triathlete.

The summer moved on and I swam in open water while on vacation with my family.  I also panicked in open water, at my second triathlon, and the first one with an open water swim.  Then, I swam in open water  again.  And a few more times.  Remembering that lesson about falling and getting back up.  Or, I suppose in this case, drowning and getting back out.  (Okay, I didn't really drown.)

I didn't do any running races over the summer.  I didn't need to.  Triathlon was my focus and I did a race every month from June - Sept.  August was Strathmore, and then the time approached to do my big race of the year, the Banff Olympic distance triathlon.

I nailed Banff.  I was incredibly happy with my execution, and the race itself was spectacular.  Something pivotal happened to me during that race.  Prior to the race, I'd estimated how fast I thought I could do it, and considered how I should pace.  One thing I'd hoped was I could do the run at a 7:00/km pace or better.  I thought that I should hold myself to no faster then a 6:30/km to keep from blowing up.  Once on the run though, my garmin didn't work properly (perhaps the mountains messed up the satellite signal?).

I was left to run by feel and ended up doing the run in 1:01:05, a 6:06/km pace.  If I had realized how fast I was going, I would have slowed down. That taught me one of the most important lessons I learned that year: it was my mind holding me back, rather then my body.

After that race, I placed a renewed importance on losing weight, and shifted the focus largely back to running.  I entered an Autumn full of growth and discovery.  Every time I broke through a barrier, I found another one and shoved it out of my way, while passing through.  I destroyed my 10K pr, finishing it in 56:33, proving that the 60 minute barrier was simply a line in the sand, easy to step over.

I reached new distances while training for my last race of the year, topping out at 25km (15.5 mi), giving me huge amounts of confidence going into that race - another one where I destroyed a previous record, beating my time from the Police half by over 30 minutes.

In the midst of all of this, I made other breakthroughs in swimming and biking.  Things started to click for me in the pool.  I could finally really feel the water and my swimming improved by leaps and bounds.  Meanwhile, I did my first spin classes and got taught just how easy I'd taken it on the bike in the past, and how much harder I was capable of going, setting the groundwork for some serious improvement in the coming season.

I tried a running streak, and abandoned it in less then a week - learning another lesson.  Balance works for me.  As much as I love to run, running every single day doesn't bring me balance - at least not at this point in my life.

Then I entered a down time.  I took it a bit easy, letting my run mileage drop (but not stop).  I gained a few of those hard lost pounds back and started to feel a bit down about my progress.  Then, a few days ago at the pool, I ran into Angie again and commented on my recent slacking.  "That's okay.  Everyone needs a rest sometimes," she casually commented.

She's right.  I did need a bit of a break in the intensity.  I'm getting ready to gear up again, but the downtime is part of what has got me ready to do that.  It's been one hell of a year.


  1. Loved this post. Cannot believe how far you came in one year. Can't wait to see you crush 2012!

  2. Awesome year for you!
    Time for another awesome year...Happy New Year

  3. Wow! Just Wow! What a year you have had. You have come so far. I can't wait for this year! An. .. for 2014...we'll have to see. :)

  4. Fantastic post! Wish I had this many pictures of my 2011. I'm so bad about conning folks into taking them for me. Thanks for being an inspiration to all of us. Can't wait to see what 2012 brings us!

  5. whoa what a year for you! lots of awesome achievements!

  6. Congratulations on becoming a triathlete! What an awesome feeling. Heading over to read your race report now.

  7. Actually it sounds like you had a pretty good year. Especially with your 10K breakthroughs. I am looking forward to following your progress for 2012.