A new experience

OMG, I’m excited to report I had my first bi experience last night.

NO, not that kind of bi-experience!

I did one lap of bi-lateral breathing while swimming.  Woot Woot!

It was ugly and I’m not lying when I say I drank a ton of water and probably held my breath more than I should.  But I did it.  I swam, I breathed to my left, I swam, I breathed to my right and then I hit repeat.  By the end, I was basically willing myself to get to the side of the pool because it was so ugly and uncomfortable.  But I don’t care how ugly it was.  It was my first and you never forget your first time!

I definitely have to work on my rhythm because it was not smooth and my instinct kept wanting me to breathe every right stroke.  All of that will take time to get used to.  But at least now I feel that there’s hope for me.  I feel that I can keep making progress and maybe I can actually get this whole swimming thing down.

So while I’m not getting any faster, at least I am making some progress and that really excites me and keeps me going.

Until next time,

Gotta run

 

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Swim pace illiterate

Someone please help me; lord I’m a lost cause when trying to figure out my swim pace!

And NO, I’m not even trying to figure it out in my head or old school by looking at the timer clock in the pool.  Maybe that is what I should be doing.  No, instead I’m relying on not one, but two, very expensive watches.  (Don’t ask why I wear two watches – it’s a long story).

A few weeks ago I went swimming at – what one of my watches told me was – a sub 3-minute pace/100 yards.  I can not swim that fast but a few of my laps were flipper aided or were other “drills” so I took my time to be pretty meaningless.  Expect for the fact that the laps I did “standard” seemed to also come up as sub 3:00.  But again, I know this isn’t possible.  That was my first red flag.

My .88 mile swim on Sunday took 54 minutes – give or take.  One watch calculated my pace per 100 yards at 3:04 while the other one said 3:33.  If you actually do the math, the 3:33 is more accurate.  But where did the 3:04 come from?  Three thirty-three has me missing the swim cutoff by about 10 minutes, but 3:04 has me making it by 10 minutes.  Now you can see why I need to figure this out.

I went swimming again this morning and once again did drills, some with flippers and registered a pace under 3:00 minutes – 2:48 to be exact on my watch on my left arm and my right arm watch gave me a pace of 3:19.  Seriously, how can this be?  As far as I know, they are both set up the same, I never set an auto pause on either watch.

So what can it be?  My pessimistic side says to always go with the watch that shows the slower time, just to be safe.  But come on, I need a win every now and then, so if I can actually see improvement in my swim speed, I’d sure like to be able to celebrate it.  But more importantly, I need to truly know what my swim pace is.  If I can’t even swim at a pace that gets me out of the water before the swim cutoff, as I’m swimming solo in a pool, how in the world can I expect to try a Half Iron or Ironman in open water where the conditions are more like a rugby match than they are a casual swim?

If anyone knows why my watches, an Apple Watch and a Garmin, are so far off, please let me know.

Until next time,

Gotta Run

 

Self-congratulations is not easy

I had an early morning session in the pool today with my Coach.  I had seen him on Wednesday too but we didn’t do a lot of swimming or drills on Wednesday, it was more talking about what I’ve been doing and my upcoming goals.  Today he had me doing more drills.

He really wants me to work on my body position because as we both agree, it’s the SECOND most important part about swimming…. with not drowning being number one.  He’s finally conceded that body position is number two because he’s tired of asking me what the most important aspect of swimming is and me answering “not dying”!  So to speed things along, he’s now acknowledging that for me, body position is the second most important.

As we were working on body position in the water he had me just glide through the water with my arms out in front of me and just kicking.  I wasn’t doing any strokes and when I had to breathe, I would stop and stand up to breathe.  It was pretty simple, so I was surprised when he was pretty excited about how I did.  He said my body position was really good and that I was basically 80-90% perfect.  I just shrugged it off and he could tell that I wasn’t overly impressed with it and he wanted to know why I wasn’t more excited.  I said that I wasn’t more excited because it wasn’t that big of a deal.  I wasn’t actually doing the strokes – I was just gliding in the water.  No biggie.

That’s when he pointed out that it is indeed a big deal.  That last year at this time I needed two pull buoys and flippers to do what I just did now without any swimming aids.  Not only did I need two pull buoys and flippers last year at this time, but I didn’t even want to put my face in the water to do it and I would routinely cough or swallow water.

He also commented on how, when he watched me swim on Wednesday, a lot of what he taught me regarding the basic mechanics of swimming had stuck with me and are still there.  Again, all good things in his opinion.  In my mind, I still am not comfortable and still can not go fast.  That’s what I think about. I don’t think about the mini victories I’ve had (just ask Brian, he’ll confirm it) along the way.  And Craig could tell that I wasn’t impressed with my improvements. That’s when he again said how well I’m doing and said that he actually wanted me to say it out loud.

So I reluctantly said… “yes, I’ve improved!”  And then I got a fist bump from Craig.

I know I never acknowledge my progress and instead get down on myself for that which I can’t do – instead of being proud of what I can do.  So here I am, I’ll say it again, this time not just to Craig as I was sitting in the pool, but to all of you.  I’m acknowledging that I’ve made improvements.  I’m swimming!  I’ve come a long way and I’m not giving up.  I’ve made improvements and I plan on continuing to make improvements!

(It’s taking all of my self-control to not type out and follow-up with all of my negatives and all the things I still need to learn!)

So there’s my Friday self-congratulatory fix!   And it’s just about as difficult to admit I did something well and give myself credit for it as it is to actually learn how to swim!

Until next time,

Gotta run

 

I guess I know what I’m doing this summer

My upcoming race calendar:

3/24 – Dick Lytie 15K

4/28 – Crazy Legs 8K

5/5 – Door County Half Marathon

6/16 – Door County Spring Classic Bike Ride (pending)

6/24 – Pleasant Prairie Sprint Triathlon

7/22 – Ripon Sprint Triathlon (pending)

8/26 – Chicago Olympic Triathlon

10/28 – Marine Corp Marathon

I said I wanted to get back into training and get back in the game – I guess going balls to the walls is one way to do it.

It’s going to be a hard, long and challenging summer filled with swimming, biking and running, because let’s not forget I’m still learning to swim and bike.  And when it comes to running, I haven’t run longer than 13.1 miles in almost 3 years.  I guess it’s time to get back on that horse.

Giddy Up!

Until next time,

Gotta Run

(Or take a nap now while I still have time for naps!)

 

 

 

I’m just naturally not-gifted!

I got back in the pool yesterday.  My goal is to get in the pool at least once a week during the winter months.  I swam 1150 yards, which is the most I’ve ever swam!  For reference, as I was training for my tri in summer, I was swimming 900 yards.  It’s not a lot more yards, but it is 5 more laps.  It’s a big deal for me.  A really big deal!

I looked back at the blog post I wrote last year on 12/7/16 and I couldn’t breathe in the water, had a hard time even blowing bubbles, could only “move” in the water with a kick board and in general, my future looked bleak.  So the fact that one year later I’m swimming MORE THAN a half mile is HUGE!  FRICKEN HUGE.

But I still can’t breathe to my left.  And truthfully I haven’t been putting in a lot of time on this.  First, I just need to get back in the pool and put some time in and get some good laps under my belt before I try to tackle bi-lateral breathing.  I have done a few laps while holding onto the kick board and tried breathing to my left and it didn’t go well.  Last night I tried just doing one stroke repeats while breathing to my left and that too did not go well.  Why, oh why, does it have to be so hard?

A friend asked me why I am trying to learn to breathe to my left and I said it was for two reasons.  1, I feel I need to be able to breathe AWAY from waves and swells if necessary.  And 2, I feel if I can breathe to the left it will make me faster.  I don’t know if this is true, but I figured it can’t hurt.

And let’s just say I need all the help I can in getting faster.  I actually amaze myself at how slow I am.  And when I say I’m slow, I am slow at EVERYTHING I do.  I’m a slow runner, I’m a slow biker and now I’m a slow swimmer.  Do you know people who are just gifted athletes and no matter what they try, they are good at it?  I have some friends like that.  They are good, they are fast, they win things.  I don’t win things!  EVER!

And not only do I not win, I’m always at the back.  Always.  I had one friend who was a back of the pack runner but when she took up biking she kicked ass.  She could hang with some really fast bikers and was outperforming most of the guys.  I was secretly hoping that would happen to me, that I would get on my bike or get in the pool and discover I was a natural at it.  Nope, that did not happen.

How can that be?  At some point I need to be good at something, right?  It’s only fair.  And I’m not even asking to be fast or to win stuff, I just don’t want to miss the fricken cutoffs in an event.  Right now, with all things being equal, if I were to compete in a Half Iron, I would come in under the swim cutoff time by about 5 minutes.  5 MINUTES!  That’s not a lot.  THAT IS TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT!  And this is based on my time that’s me swimming in a lap pool, by myself with nobody swimming into me, no one bumping me, no waves or swells causing me to panic.  And let’s not forget about the fact that I can’t sight and can’t swim in a straight line, which means I would need more than 5 minutes to compensate for all of this!

Basically I would train my butt off for a Half Iron only to get stopped after the first event.  That would be brutal.

Why am I so slow?  At everything?  I know I’m not athletic, but why does that make me slow?
Why don’t my body parts turnover as quickly as other people’s do?  I tried SO HARD yesterday in the pool to go fast.  I thought my arms were coming out of the water as fast as possible.  I thought I was rocking it.  That is until I saw the old gentleman who got into the pool a few lanes away blow past me in the water like I was anchored in place.

So to all you fast, gifted athletes out there, what’s your secret?  Is it all genetics?  I do admit that I got screwed in the athletic genetic department, so is all hope lost?  I can do drills and put more time in the pool but how much will I really improve?  This goes for biking too, what do I need to do to get faster?  (I’m not even going to ask about how to become a faster runner because now I’m just trying to stop the downward spiral this has become my pace, which gets slower and slower every time I head out the door).  And how much can a really slow person truly improve?  How much can I improve upon my times?

Any and all tips and pointers are welcome at this point.

Until next time,

Gotta run

 

1 done, 2 sports to go

Part Two of My Triathlon Debut:

As I got out of the water I was a mix of emotions.  Part of me said it’s no big deal… I’ve actually swam 1/2 mile before so it’s not like swimming the distance was a big deal.  But what was a big deal was going from crying uncontrollably earlier in the morning to getting out of the water, unscathed.  I did it and I did it without drama.  And by that I mean, no gasping for breath, no getting knocked around by other swimmers, no hanging on to lifeguard boats.

swim

What’s weird about tris – but it’s the nature of the sport – is that you can’t celebrate mini accomplishments along the way.  I would have loved to have been able to chill and relish the fact that I didn’t die in Lake Michigan, but I couldn’t.  I had to get to transition to get on my bike.  I actually found this “must-keep-going-must-do-the-next-sport” feeling really odd.  I hadn’t thought much about it – I had thought about transition and the logistics of making it all work – but I never thought about how I’d feel.  I was a bit let down by the fact that to me – the hardest part was over with, yet I didn’t get to truly enjoy it because I had to keep going.  On the other hand, I also remember being aware of the fact that “this is what tris are all about” – I had to suck it up buttercup and get going.

I ran the 1/4 mile to transition and once inside the barricades, I stepped off to the side on a patch of grass to take off my wet-suit.  I got it off relatively easy and then I picked up my stuff and ran to my rack and bike.  Thankfully I had no problems getting to my rack or my bike, I had a pretty good visual cue – a pine tree – to help with my sighting.

I tossed my wet-suit over the rack, put on my socks and shoes, grabbed my race belt and threw that on too.  Brian had told me not to put my belt on until the run, but I chose to put it on during the bike because I was worried I’d forget it otherwise.  I don’t clip into my pedals so I don’t have to change shoes, which is where a lot of people keep their race belt so they remember to put it on before the run.  But all I had to do was take off my helmet and throw on my hat, so I didn’t trust myself to remember it, being a newbie and all.  So I put my race belt on, buckled my helmet and threw my glasses on top of my helmet and I was off.  I thought I did okay in transition for being a rookie.  I didn’t break any speed barriers, but I didn’t dilly dally either.

As I mounted my bike I heard people shouting something.  I wasn’t sure what they were shouting or to whom.  Eventually I figured out they were shouting at me telling me my glasses were on my helmet – which I knew and is where I wanted them.  The sun wasn’t too bad at this time so I didn’t want them on, but I wanted to have them with me in case I needed them.  But as they were all so persistent in their shouting, I figured it must have been against regulations to have anything “loose” that could fly off while on the bike.  So I grabbed my glasses and put them on.  I later asked Brian about this and he said there is no such rule.  He thinks the people were just trying to be helpful by telling me my glasses were on my helmet – in case I had forgotten them there.  While I appreciate the sentiment behind their shouting, it all kind of freaked me out.  When participating in a tri for the first time, getting shouted at by strangers is not very comfortable.

But you know what was comfortable?  Climbing the first hill – right after mounting my bike.  The course takes riders up the on-ramp and it’s basically right after we mount our bikes, so no time to get warmed up or to get in a low gear.  BUT thanks to all the times I accompanied Brian to his mandatory course talks in the past, I remembered the tip that they gave to make sure your bike is in a low gear in order to make that first climb.  The course lecture we attended this year, didn’t mention that little tip and I think the folks around me paid for it.  I passed probably 4-5 people in the first 50 yards and it was awesome.  And it was just the start of the fun that was about to happen for the next 15 miles.

I had never biked with a group before.  And I’ve only actually biked with one other person a handful of times and it was usually Brian and he’d ride behind me as not to freak me out by being alongside of me.  I was more than a bit anxious to ride with hundreds, maybe even thousands of other riders.  I was scared to get too close to anyone and I was definitely worried about the drafting rules in triathlons.  I figured it would be just my luck to get a penalty or get DQ’d for something as stupid as drafting, especially since I don’t really even get what it entails. And yes, I know what drafting is in theory – but do I know what it looks like in practice and could I guarantee I wouldn’t do it – nope!?  So if I drafted it would have been by accident.

So the only sure-fire way to not get penalized for drafting was to just pass everyone.  Simple enough.

I was peddling along and anytime I got even remotely close to someone I figured I needed to hurry up and pass so I didn’t have to worry about drafting.

aero

It didn’t take long to realize that passing people was fun!  I spent the first few miles zooming by people and I was loving it.  But I figured it wouldn’t last long.  In my mind I figured I was passing all of the slow folks and eventually I’d catch up to the people way faster than me and then the fun would be done.  But that wasn’t the case.  A few more miles and many more people passed.  And in full transparency, I was passing a lot of people on mountain bikes.  But still… I was passing and that’s all that counts.  Plus I was passing a lot of relay people or people way younger than me – so mountain bike or not – they had the upper hand.

I was wearing my Garmin, so I was able to glance at my mile splits and when I saw how fast I was biking, I was pretty excited.  It was about a minute per mile faster than any of my training rides.  But I didn’t get too excited because the bike course is an out-and-back and the wind was at my bike on the way out.  I figured once I hit the turn around my times would skyrocket.  But they stayed pretty low.  I did increase my times, but I was still doing much better than I had on my training rides.

bike

But it’s not like I didn’t get past.  It was around mile 10ish when I really noticed I started getting passed by some people kicking ass.  I wasn’t passed by my fellow back of the packers, instead it was by the triathletes that did the “triple”.  Doing a “triple” is when a person competes in the super sprint on Saturday, then they did the Olympic distance event first thing Sunday morning and when they were done with that, they got back in the water and did it all over again in the Sprint distance.  And contrary to what people may think, this didn’t make them super tired.  No, they were super competitive.  Anyone good enough to do a triple is good enough to catch me and pass me even though they were 5 waves behind me.  I knew they were triples because they were the ones riding $7,000 bikes and were zooming past me as if I was standing still.  I actually heard most of them coming before I even saw them.  Most of them had disk tires and they make a distinct sound in the wind.

And even though I was now getting past by people who started 5 waves later than me, I wasn’t upset.  It was actually fun to watch them bike past.  They bike so effortlessly, unlike my biking, you have to give them all the respect and props they deserve.  Also at this point, I was just enjoying myself too much to care.

And yes, I was actually enjoying myself.  I was biking better than I could have imagined, I was passing people, I wasn’t losing control of my bike while in aero position and I was able to enjoy my surroundings. I made a conscious effort to soak it all in and enjoy the experience.  I saw the ferris wheel on Navy Pier, I saw the skyline, I saw both the Hancock and the Sears Tower (no I will not call it the Willis) in the distance.  It was a beautiful day for a bike ride and I was enjoying it.  And then it started raining.  Not heavy, but enough to notice.  And much to my surprise, I didn’t freak out, I actually thought about how lucky I was that it was going to be raining for my run.  I LOVE running in the rain and I thought the triathlon gods had finally thrown me a bone and given me some favorable conditions.  Unfortunately the rain didn’t stick around for my run, but it was fun while it did last.

After completing my 15 miles on the bike, I got back to transition, did my dismount – and yes the mounting and dismounting were a concern of mine – and I think I did okay.  I didn’t fall or get in anyone else’s way, so I consider that a victory.

Back in transition I racked my bike, took off my helmet, threw my hair into a running hat, sucked down an energy gel and I was off to the run course.

Holy balls, two out of the three are done.  Just one short 5k and I’d be crossing the finish line.  I can do 3.1 miles in my sleep.  This will be a cake walk.

Or so I thought.

When you don’t actually do any runs longer than 1 mile leading up to the tri and when you push your legs too hard on the bike because you’re passing people and it’s fun… you have no juice left in your legs for the run.

Running, the one sport I could do, was going to be a struggle. That just figures!

Run, run, run.

Man my legs feel like concrete.

This sucks.

Oh yes it did.  I had a bit of the typical “lead” feeling that all triathletes have after getting off of the bike.  But that wasn’t my main concern, it was the fact that my legs were just so damn tired from biking.

Ugh.

But just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s only 3.1 miles for gods sake – even in pain, I can do that.

So on I went.

I thought it was a simple out and back run course so I thought we’d be turning around at the 1.5 mile mark.  This was not the case.  Instead we turned around closer to the 2 mile mark.  And we all know how well I do when I don’t know where I am?!?!  Anxiety about not turning around started to set in and even though I tried to tell myself that it was no big deal and that the longer I run “out” the shorter the run back “in” would be.  But I still wasn’t a happy camper.  I was completely thrilled when I hit the turn around mark.

I didn’t think about much while on the run.  Other than how crappy my legs felt of course!  Like on the bike, I tried to take it all in.  I tried to appreciate the scenery and all the people.  I also tried to appreciate the fact that it was only a 5K and nothing more!

run

As I made the last turn and was about to enter the finisher’s shoot, I could see the finish line in the distance.  I was just moments away from crossing the finish line and from crossing off a MAJOR item off of my bucket list?

 

finish

What would I feel as I crossed the finish line?  What do I feel now after having over a week to reflect on my accomplishment?  And what’s next?  Well, you’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

Until next time,

Gotta run (or bike and swim)

 

 

I didn’t die

I know some of you are anxiously awaiting my Chicago Triathlon recap, but it will most likely take a few days to write it – so stay tuned.

But for those of you that are curious – just know that I finished and I did well! I’ll just say it was a HUGE rollercoaster of emotions.  I was fighting against my internal demons and had to deal with a handful of physical ailments I manifested because of my emotions.  It was a long and crazy couple of days.

Here are a few photos to leave you with until I have time to recap all the craziness – and by craziness I mean my bouts of crying or near vomiting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time,

Gotta run (or swim and bike – just because I can)