The Dream Star's Corner

Dare to Dream...and DO!
walk. run. fly.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Looking Forward to 2013...

...because I'm a planner and obsessed with planning out my race schedules almost a year in advance...

And this is how I came up with the great idea to do a triathlon on a Saturday and a half marathon the next day. :)

So, since 2009, I've created certain goals for myself. In 2009, I just wanted to become a I did. In 2010, I wanted to run in a race every I did. In 2011, I wanted to run a sub-30 min 5k, and run in my first half I did.

This year, I created a lot of goals and I'm still working on them.
  • Run my first full marathon
  • Complete a triathlon
  • Become a Half Fanatic - DONE!

The unspoken goal each year is to complete every race I sign up for... injury taught me a lot about how important it is to maintain overall wellness to make sure I meet that goal.

For 2013, I want to complete a full marathon, and my first ultramarathon shortly after...specifically, a 50k ultra. I think my medal holder could use one of those MASSIVE medals from the Little Rock to figure out how to hang a belt buckle. 

I also want to complete a Ragnar Relay. I have a team assembled for the DC race and here's hoping it all works out and we can conquer this challenge together. 

I thought that training for a triathlon while training for a marathon was a recipe for disaster but it's been quite the opposite. I think, for me, it's the ONLY way to train for a marathon. Compared to my last bout  with training, I feel great everyday! In the winter, I felt achy and sore, groaning every time I had to move, and wincing as I walked up stairs. The forced planned cross training has kept me feeling great and strong! So I will sign up for a couple of olympic distance triathlons for the Spring and Fall in 2013. 

Right now, I'm eyeing the Philadelphia Tri and maybe the Columbia Tri. The shorter race calendar should give me time to work on building my endurance skills on the trail and on the bike and free up some time in my personal life to enjoy some other things. Should make for a fun year! I'm sure this list will change 6 times by next January though. lol


Yep! My swimming is improving!! I asked the awesome Coach from PRS Fit Nation what I should do to become a more efficient swimmer. His answer: DRILLSSSSSS!!!!!!

After my first swim-bike-run workout, I felt like I had a better understanding of what I needed to work on in the water. I put together some organized workouts and my stroke has improved ten fold!! A typical workout includes:

2 x 100m kick drills
2 x 50m side kick drills
2 x 100m pull buoy drills
5 x 100m freestyle stroke

With each workout, I'm hoping to add another 100m to my freestyle distance. I can't believe I finally broke 1000m in the water! Can't wait until I swim 1000m in freestyle. That will be one major accomplishment I could be proud of. 

Monday, July 9, 2012


So I guess I'm a triathlete now. I feel like one... but I guess I don't claim it because I haven't completed a race yet. Kinda like someone who just runs 13 miles for fun but never completed a half marathon? You just don't go around saying "I'm a half marathoner" when you've never competed in a race... but maybe these rules are different with triathlon.

But that's beside the point...the MAJOR accomplishment that we want to discuss here is the fact that I completed my FIRST ever open water swim, bike, and run workout yesterday.

IT. WAS. AWESOME! The day started early at the beach where we all met up. The more experienced triathletes headed out into the water for their workout. The newbies like myself met up with one of the workout coordinators to learn the basics of your transition kit, what to pack, how to pack it, what's allowed per USAT standards and what isn't. It was a GREAT tutorial. Thanks for blogs like Fitness Fatale, I've picked up a few pointers about what to pack and how to pack it but for races that are much less extensive than a Half Ironman or a Full Ironman, some of the needs were a little different. It was a great lesson.

Next we headed out into the water with the other workout coordinator who is also my mentor. She is so so great! She made the entire experience stress free and FUN! She told us what to expect, how you will feel when you get in the water but taught us ways to trick our minds into relaxing so our bodies could relax. It was a great pre-OWS talk. Then we started swimming! The tri club set up buoys for us to mark out a 250 yd stretch of water for us to practice between. I got in 500 yds and got a feel for what to expect during these workouts and even discovered what I need to work on. After the swim, I really got a better idea of what my pool workouts should include and that's a big help!

After that, we transitioned to the bike and this is where I made up my mind to take my time and focus on getting acclimated to my bike. I was given a cue sheet and I took my time going through the course, not really trying to maintain a certain speed or cadence. I just wanted to enjoy the ride and that's what I did. My mentor joined me and gave me a few pointers on how to get comfortable with reaching for my water bottle and how to balance myself on the bike while making motions with one hand. I know this seems elementary but I sincerely needed this kind of direction.

Then came my FAVORITE sport of all - the run. My training partner finished her swim and bike ride before me but waited for me to go for the run. I got my shoes on and took off for a 5k run. Surprisingly I felt great! My legs didn't feel as terrible as I expected. I ran 9 miles the day before and thought that my legs would be toast but I felt strong! I took it easy and just wanted to feel my way through the run but still pace my friend. We got in a 3.1 mile run with about a sub-11 min/mi pace which isn't bad for our first SBR workout.

I don't think I can stay through the entire workout next Saturday due to family obligations but I definitely look forward to doing it again!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My first bike crash

It finally happened. I went down. I crashed...and it was traumatic. Ok, well it felt a lot worse than it really was.

I went to my first newbie ride a couple of nights ago with the triathlon club and it was rough! We met at a park and I assumed the ride was through the park for some reason. I've never road my bike with traffic before...ever! So when we headed out to a main road with moderate traffic and no shoulder or bike lane, I did everything I could not to freak out. I coached myself and said "Ok, KJ, just go in a straight line. Don't brake. You have people behind you." But when I did that, I felt my bike pull to the right, and I proceeded to let out every expletive I knew. Falling to the right would've landed me on a steep ditch with branches and trees. But I made it down the road without falling. We turned onto a much quieter road and it was much nicer  - scenic even. I regained my composure and hugged the shoulder since there wasn't a bike lane. happened. My bike was starting to go right again, while I was going down a slight decline so braking wasn't helping. This time, I tried to steer to the left and lost my balance. The bike and I took a tumble off of the side of the road. Thankfully I didn't do any real damage to me or the bike. I have some scrapes on my leg and on my arm, but nothing serious. 
My poor forearm... the least of the wounds

A little blood and mud for good measure

No bruising. But I have to say that I was mentally toast after that. I was so angry with myself. I can sometimes be really hard on myself when I don't get something right. And I guess it didn't help that earlier in the week the cycling leader kept talking about someone wrecking last week and how annoyed she was with it. I didn't want to be that person and there I was, in the brush, holding up the entire ride. I got over it, grabbed my bike and got back on. I tried my best to do what I could but at that point, I didn't want to do anything to relive that incident again so I had a hard time staying to the right. I also stopped focusing on shifting and didn't make it up any of the steep hills on my bike. So I had to walk. Then it started to rain but by then, I was riding with the "sweeper" cycling coach (the one who stays with the stragglers) and another tri club member who I befriended at the hills workout who stayed back with me. 

I was the last to finish and I felt defeated. I mean, I'm not giving up - I will do my part and practice on closed trails and paths. I need to learn my shifting and learn some more basics about road biking. I guess the newbie rides are good for practice...but definitely not a great place to learn. And I know that people fall...a lot... but I just didn't want to fall on that ride. 

I have my first swim-bike-run workout tomorrow and I'm anxious to see how the bike ride goes. I haven't been back on the bike since this all happened. But I'm ready to focus. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

"Nutrition will make or break you in your training..."

I've read this line in just about EVERY article written about triathlon training.  And now that I'm actually training and had to back away from the rosemary asiago cheese, smoked duck, googobs of syrah, grenache, and pecorino... *sigh*...and actually figure out what I needed to eat.

Goodbye beautiful friends...

When I did weight training, I was on a strict eating regimen. What you put in the body predicted what you got out of it in the gym and it showed. So I did right and ate a balanced nutritional diet of protein, carbs, fiber, and healthy fats. But when I started running, I noticed that I didn't have to be as strict so I definitely took advantage of that. Woooooo bring on the pizza, alll the cheese you can find, wings, and lots and lots of beer! :D

But now that I'm training, I wanted to get back into a more controlled nutritional routine. Fortunately I've had experience with it from the past so finding the discipline wasn't a challenge. Finding the right routine was...well sort of.

So here's what I'm eating now and how my day usually goes.



Wake up - 4:50 a.m.

Eat Breakfast #1 - Half of a whole wheat bagel flat with natural peanut butter

Workout #1 - Swimming at 5:30 a.m.

Eat Breakfast #2 - Strawberry, banana, spinach smoothie

(COFFEE - My one daily treat)

Snack #1 - Yogurt with blueberries and 4 whole almonds

Lunch - Turkey sandwich w/tomato and carrots or a small salad with balsamic vinegar

Snack #2 - One orange and 4 whole almonds

Workout #2 - Running at 5 p.m.

Dinner - Salmon steak with pan seared asparagus and brown rice

Dessert (I rarely want dessert)  - Frozen yogurt with one square of dark chocolate

So there you have it. My daily meal plan. I think I'm going to try to keep my dinners of the vegetarian variety. Just last night I tried portobello mushroom burgers for the first time and I'm in love! MUCH better than turkey burgers. I don't eat red meat or pork so I don't think the transition to vegetarian would be that hard for me.

I found some ideas on one of my favorite websites that made me fall in love with weight training years ago, Muscle and Fitness Hers.  I found the smoothie idea on an actual triathlon training website and the recipe is super simple.

I use the pre-washed and bagged spinach, fresh strawberries, and a half a banana, ice, and fat free milk. Throw in however much of each you want (there's a science to it, but I just make mine by 'feel') and blend! Surprisingly, the smoothie is actually filling!

Some sites suggest adding whey protein powder. Meh... maybe if I were training for a Half Ironman or doing more strength training, but I don't think I really need it.

I'm supposed to fit in some more calcium somewhere in here. I bought a bag of string cheese and I think I'm supposed to have it with lunch or something... I should add that in. This goes without saying but I also drink a lot of water during the day and with every meal (aside from breakfast). It's been unbelievably hot here in Baltimore so the decision to drink water has been a super easy one for me.

I went for a cycling workout this morning and finally met my mentor! She has the coolest bike EVER and taught me some things about my gears. I even learned that for my bike, the shifting is different on each side. This answers A LOT of my questions. lol Yeah, glad I didn't just rent a bike the day before a race to "just give it a shot." Best to learn on your own bike. I have so many lessons learned from the newbie set-up experience, I should definitely write something about that.

Lesson #1: When you buy a bike, buy a bike rack at the same time

But since I had to get out on the road so early this morning, I did a fasting workout (i.e. didn't eat, just had water - DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME KIDS...unless you know what you're doing) and it's something I can get away with because I know my body. I don't suggest this for new athletes. But when I got home, I went ahead and combined the two breakfast meals into one.

And yes, I am aware that today is the 4th of July and no I won't be eating everything....until Saturday. lol That's when my family is having their big cookout celebration. But even then, I will keep to the veggies (my dad is a vegetarian so we can share that celery stalk of his). I will have my very first swim-bike-run workout on Sunday morning so to avoid any puke worthy moments, I will keep to this plan. No biggie... everything is quite delicious anyway :)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Early Mornings on the Trail

This morning, me and my tri training friend hit the trail for a 6:30 a.m. bike ride!! Yep, six...thirty.

I am not a morning person...

But things got better once I got on my bike. This was her first ride on her new bike and she wanted to get a feel for riding it so we met up early enough so that we could get in a good ride and I could make it to church.

We rode about 18 miles and really enjoyed ourselves!!

We even saw some ferocious wildlife!!


This little guy was making his way across the trail for a morning stroll and we thought we'd stop to say hello.

I definitely "crashed" for my first time. It was kind of avoidable, but whatevs...things happen when you're learning. And I learned not to put my hand out to catch myself. OUCH!

Afterward, tri training buddy wanted to see what it felt like to run after a ride. 

Look at her go!
So once we made it back to the parking lot, she hopped off the bike and ran about a hundred yards. Mini-BRICK for breakfast anyone?

So I have something else I want to talk about. There's no denying it nor is there a way to ignore it. I'm a Black woman who loves sports!  When I started running, I didn't really care if I was the only Black woman in the crowd at a race or the only Black woman outside running in 95 degree temps or 20 degree temps. The love for fitness is colorblind.  Sometimes I run with Black Girls Run! whose founders started the running club for its namesake - to tell the world that Black girls actually do run! 

Thanks to great articles and events featuring the ladies of BGR!, the running world is more aware of our presence on the pavement. But, this morning Tri Training Friend and I experienced THE FUNNIEST reactions to two Black women on bikes - BEFORE 8 a.m. and in 80+ degree temps (it was really hot this morning). There were other cyclists on the path and that was great! But when we passed by two Black men on bikes, it was like they were looking at a mirage. At first the two guys looked at each other with a "Do you see the same thing I see!?!?" look of confusion, then back at us and let out a hardy "GOOD MORNING LADIES!!" 

And that wasn't the only time we were greeted with excitement with a hint of shock. I had to ask myself, "is it really THAT rare for a Black man to see a Black woman on a bike?" I guess I was entertained by this social dynamic. 

I don't feel angry or uncomfortable or anything. I love the fact that I am showing some small percentage of people that there are some of us who are fighting back against stereotypes about Black women and fitness and the sad health statistics of so many unhealthy people in the Black community. And perhaps, if one Black woman sees me on a bike, perhaps she will consider trying it out for herself and bringing along a friend. This is how a healthy lifecycle Black woman swimming/biking/running at a time :)

Training with the Tri Club

I'm the type of person who is very comfortable with diving right in to figure things out and execute when taking on something new. But in the case of training for a triathlon, one thing is for certain, there are a LOT of moving parts - meaning there are THREE sports to prepare for, train in, and transition between. And that is something I knew early on wouldn't be easy.

So I joined a triathlon club. 

It's been great so far! I love having a group of people to workout with and share stories with. I also love that I'm a newbie! When I started running with others, I found that I was on the more experienced side of the spectrum. But this time around I'm the bright-eyed bushy-tailed newbie with lots of questions and it's great! I'm getting real answers from people who have been through a triathlon and are continuously training to meet new goals. 

Last week, I attended a hills workout (running) and hung out with other tri club members afterward. The run was led by a workout coordinator in the club. While we were waiting around for others to join in before the workout, she mentioned that she's afraid that she broke her toe earlier in the day and perhaps wouldn't be able to run full out or run at all! But as soon as we got started, she TOOK OFF! 

On top of that, she was the first to make it up every hill, and even met up with the stragglers (like myself) to coach us UP the hill in the 100 degree temps. AMAZING!!

I simply said "WOW! I wanna be that tough!" :)

Can't wait to workout with the crew some more in coming weeks!