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

 

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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)

It’s going to be a long 2 days

The tri is about 44 hours away and I want to vomit.

I didn’t sleep last night and I’m literally sick to my stomach.

And I know it’s all ridiculous, I mean it’s not even a total of 20 miles.  I should be able to do 20 miles in my sleep.  It’s just that .5 of that total is in the water and another 15 is on a bike.  I don’t do water and bikes.

What the hell was I think?

Gotta run (gotta take care of the vomit in my mouth)

Here we go – all or nothing

This will be my last post before the Chicago Triathlon.  I’m hoping when I write my next post I will be a triathlete!

Wow, a triathlete.  It’s crazy to think I may actually be a triathlete in a few days.  When people say, “never say never”, I’m pretty sure they were talking about this endeavour.

I swore on all things holy that I would NEVER be a triathlete.  I knew I would never participate in a triathlon because the issues that I would have had to overcome to participate in one were numerous and insurmountable to me.  And 95% of those issues revolved around swimming (and the rest involved the fricken outfit!).

I have had an issue with swimming and water since I was a child.  I took, and flunked, swimming lessons as a kid and from there my anxiety with water only increased.  I’ve tried to be “okay” with water for certain activities and I tried not to let my fear hold me back from doing things like kayaking or going in the water while on tropical vacations.  I’d go kayaking but I’d have a life vest on and I’d panic and want to stop the moment the kayak rocked even the slightest bit due to a ripple in the water.  I’ve gone in the water of a Cenote in Mexico, but I basically went in and then promptly got out because it wasn’t fun for me.  I instead stood on dry land and watched Brian jump from cliffs.  There was another vacation where Brian got to play on a waterfall (and he also fell down it – but that’s another story) and I again, watched from dry land and took pictures.  The thought of getting my face wet or going under water was too much for me and I had to watch from the sidelines.

Same is true with triathlons. A few years ago a large group of my friends all competed in the same triathlon and wanted me to join them.  Instead I cheered them on and played event photographer.  It was never in my realm of possibilities to swim and participate in a tri.  The thought was absurd to me and them asking me was laughable. I actually did laugh when they asked me if I wanted to join them and followed my laughter up with a quick, “fuck no”.

If I had to think of all the things that I would have said would never happen in my life – competing in a triathlon/learning how to swim would be at the top of the list, just behind growing 8 inches, losing 50 pounds and becoming a super model!

Not only did I not enjoy water and know how to swim, I had no desire to change my lack of enthusiasm for what I used to call “liquid hell”.  It never occurred to me to try to learn how to swim, especially at my age.  But about two or three years ago, I had the idea of doing a triathlon start swirling around in my head.  And I just couldn’t shake it.  And then once the challenge became real, I had no choice but to learn how to swim.

Learning how to swim is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my entire life.  It’s bigger than just learning to perform a physical task.  It’s taking a true, deep and lifelong fear and trying to shut it the hell up!  And when we talk about fear, let’s not mistake it with my fear of mice or the fear some people have for spiders.  I don’t like mice and they creep me out, but I know a mouse will not kill me.  When I started this journey, I couldn’t say the same thing for water.  The fear of dying was (and still is) real.

So while I’m not sure what’s going to happen on Sunday, I’m sure you all will get a good story from however my day turns out.  I just checked the weather forecast and the winds are more brisk than I’d like and I may be swimming in rippled water. Yikes! And while I won’t like it and I may likely panic, I at least will be in the water trying and doing.  I will no longer be on the sidelines, watching comfortably from land.  I won’t be comfortable, I’ll most likely be scared and freaked out, but as they say, if your challenge doesn’t scare you – it’s not big enough!

Well, this one is fucking huge!

Until next time, when I’ll hopefully be a triathlete…

Gotta run, bike and swim!

 

 

 

My husband and friend tried to kill me

The Chicago Tri is 13 days away and I had my first group, open water swim this past Saturday.  And by group I mean I swam with Brian and my friend Nicole.  Nicole competed in Ironman last year and is an EXTREMELY strong swimmer.  So it was nice to get in the water with her to get some tips and pointers.  I had wanted to get in the water with more people than just Brian for some time, but it’s so hard to coordinate schedules.  But I had wanted to do it because I wanted to get a more realistic feel for swimming in a group – and while two people doesn’t necessarily constitute a group, trust me, I got the full “group swim” experience thanks to those two.

Let’s just say my first group swim was terrifying. I hated every single minute of it, but it’s what I needed to prepare for the triathlon.  Nicole, unlike Brian, who’s my husband and who can’t tell me what to do unless he wants “the look” that all wives are capable of when their husbands piss them off, kicked my butt.  Nicole, being the friend she is – the one who calls me on my shit – was the perfect one to do a group swim with because she wouldn’t let me off the hook.

First, she said I had to take the lead swimming and that I was going to be responsible for sighting, which typically doesn’t happen when I swim with Brian.  And when I say it doesn’t typically happen with Brian, I mean it’s NEVER happened with Brian.  I let him take the lead and sight.  I figure I have enough to worry about just trying to swim, I don’t need the extra pressure of trying to sight too.  I always make Brian swim to my right so I can see him and then when I can no longer see him, I stop – pop out of the water – realize I swam off course and then readjust.  So this time Nicole was making me take the lead.  Let’s just say we did not hit the mark I was given.  But I did practice sighting.  But I really shouldn’t call it sighting as much as I should call it, stopping all momentum as I pick my whole body out of the water to look around and then completely readjust where I am swimming.  As I explained to Brian and Nicole at one point when they were asking me, what landmark I was going to use to keep me on course and I said, “the dock”… but I told them part of my problem with sighting is…. I can “see” the dock from here and from over there and from way over there – so while I’m seeing it and sighting it, I’m still swimming off course, because I can still “see it”.  I just take a really curvy way to get there.  But I was not too concerned about not being able to sight well  because I soon realized sighting was the least of my concerns.

Besides having to do my own sighting, I was also supposed to do my best to treat the swim as the real thing, that included reacting or not reacting to “other swimmers”.

The first time Nicole came up from behind me and bumped into me while swimming, I stopped, panicked and looked at her like “what the fuck!?” (I may actually have said it too – I can’t truly remember).  She said, that I need to get used to it because that’s going to happen.  And then I panicked some more.  She asked me what I’m going to do if that happens on race day and I said, I’ll stop and let everyone go around me or get away from me!  Well, apparently that’s not a real plan.  I thought so, but Brian and Nicole did not.  So when Nicole told me I had to deal with it because it was going to happen on race day, I truly wanted to quit.  And while I fought back the vomit, a tear or two may have escaped.  I was truly panicking on the inside and wasn’t doing too good of a job hiding it on the outside either.  Let’s not forget that I’ve only been swimming for two months!  Having people bump into me while swimming is such a fear inducing act, it’s almost indescribable.

But if that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen so I had to keep swimming.

Long story short, I spent the entire 1/2 mile swim having Nicole and Brian throw everything at me.  They swam right next to me so I couldn’t complete my stroke, they bumped me, they cut in front of me, they swam right behind me so I’d kick them, they kicked water at me, they swam in front and then promptly stopped in front of me so I’d have to swim around them, etc.  I’m not going to lie, it was HORRIBLE.  And besides feeling panicked, I was also just so pissed.  I wanted to just be able to swim and not have to deal with all of this.  Swimming (and now sighting) is hard enough for me, why couldn’t they just let me be and let me swim????

But I know why, because on race day, the other swimmers aren’t going to just “let me be”!

And this is what I have an issue with.  As I was talking to them about it later, I don’t understand why swimming into other people is acceptable.  I mean, I don’t run into other people.  When running, even in the most crowded spaces, runners do everything they can to NOT run into another person.  And we certainly don’t bang into each other, rub tires or throw another biker off course.  Why isn’t it the same with swimming?  Brian and Nicole said it’s because you can’t see while swimming.  But I can see!!!  I saw them in front of me, I saw them alongside of me.  I could see!!!

So, while I hated every single, fricken stroke of the swim – I’m so unbelievably happy that I experienced it.  I’m going swimming with Nicole again later this week, and while the thought of having her run me over while swimming makes me a bit sick to my stomach, I know in the long run – I’ll be better off because of it.  It’s just definitely not something I could ever look forward to.  But it is good practice.  Which makes me think, that all coaches and blogs talk about making sure that triathletes get out of the pool and do enough open water swims to prepare for race day.  And while that’s true I think the biggest miscue by the experts is not making people do group swims.  And I don’t mean group swims where everyone spreads out nicely and goes about their business, I mean group swims where your husband and friend deliberately try to scare and drown you!  Okay, maybe they weren’t trying to drown me, but it felt like it at the time.

So to any newbies out there that may be reading this blog, make sure you have a spouse and friend that love you enough to try to drown you!  You’ll thank them for it!

Until next time,

Gotta run (and swim and bike)

 

 

 

 

 

Be careful what you wish for

I vividly remember standing in the starting corral of the Chicago Marathon alone, even though it was my 8th marathon, it was the first one I was running solo – without Brian.  I remember standing there a bit anxious because I was running solo and because even though it was my 8th marathon, it’s still 26.2 miles and that’s nothing to take casually.  I was standing there listening to all the newbies around  me.  Oh my gosh, the range of emotions they had; excited, nervous, anxious, giddy, scared, worried.  Most of them couldn’t contain themselves and while they were nervous, they were also so freaking excited.  The first time starting a marathon – and more importantly – the first time finishing a marathon is one of the best feelings a person can have.  As I was eavesdropping on the conversations around me, I realized I didn’t have the same level of excitement and I missed it.  I wanted to feel those “first time” butterflies again.  While I was happy it was my 8th marathon and that I was somewhat seasoned and I knew I could handle whatever the day threw at me, I was more than a bit envious of those around me.  I wanted to be excited again.

I share this flashback because my first sprint triathlon is in 16 days.  I not only have the nervous energy and butterflies of a newbie, I also have the terror!  What the hell was I thinking when I said I wanted to be a newbie again?  Being new is terrifying!  And in a sport where there’s a real chance of dying (because let’s not forget I just learned how to swim in June!), it’s not making me feel excited about the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing – it’s convincing me that something horrible will go wrong.

And the difference between being new at running vs. triathlons is the fact that I have to “pack” for race day.  And no, I’m not talking about packing and laying out my stuff the night before a marathon, I’m talking about packing for the actual event.  I have to bring stuff with me.  You don’t have to do this for a marathon!  The most you have to do is maybe bring along a throw away shirt and some energy gels.  Other than that, you’re good to go.  And if anyone has ever traveled with me, or even just went someplace overnight with me, I  OVER PACK!  Hell, my gym bag right now has no less than 4 different shirts in it because I’m just never sure which one I’ll want to wear.  I cannot believe I picked a sport to participate in that requires me to not only pack – but pack lightly.  That to me is an oxymoron.  And it wouldn’t be such a horrible thing to pack, if I felt as if I could bring a few “extras” with me, but there isn’t room for anything extra, the space in transition is extremely tight.

And that brings me to another concern I have – I have personal space issues and the thought of being crammed into transition in such close proximity to strangers just leaves me very anxious.

And speaking of transition, there are about 9,000 triathletes that compete in the Chicago Tri – so that’s A LOT of bikes and people and very little space.  And besides being right on top of one another, there’s the issue with actually being able to spot and find your bike in transition.  And while I know people say to pay attention to what row you are in and find a landmark, etc. – that truly means nothing to me because it won’t help.  I lose my car in the parking lot of stores or other venues ALL THE TIME.  I kid you not.  I actually worry about myself sometimes because I’m amazed at how quickly I can forget where I parked.  My husband is used to it – but yet it still amazes him.  He constantly asks, “how can you not remember, it’s been 10 minutes?!”  I have to park in the same row at the Y or else I can’t find my car.  If there are open spots, close to the building but in a different row, I’ll forego those spots to park in the back of the row that I “must” park in.  I wish I was kidding.  So I’ve basically come to the realization that I will absolutely not be able to find my row and my bike.  It will be the Seinfeld episode where the gang couldn’t find their car in a parking ramp.  That will be me trying to find my bike in transition.

Let’s get back to the packing part of my anxiety.  Let’s talk about the things I need to think about and/or pack that just pertain to my head/hair!  Most people have to think about bringing a helmet and maybe a hat/visor for the run. They don’t have to worry about a swim cap because the Tri will provide that.  Well, people don’t have to worry about it, unless you are me.  As I was practicing with some of Brian’s old Chicago Tri swim caps I quickly and painfully realized I have too much hair to use the triathlon supplied cap.  It pulls my hair out and it hurts like hell getting it on and hurts just as badly pulling it off.  And it doesn’t stretch the way I need it to and it’s just bad.  Bad. Bad. Bad. I purchased and have been using silicone caps (compared to latex caps most use) specifically designed for long hair.  So what I’ve been doing lately during my open water swims is using two caps – I use my long hair-silicone cap and then put the cheap latex cap over it.  I  do this just to get used to wearing two caps, because it does take some getting used to – it’s really tight.  I thought I was squeezing out my brains the first time I did it.

And beyond just having to worry about my extra swim cap, I have to worry about hair ties.  And not only do I need to make sure I have a hair tie during the swim, I will need extra because I’m not sure how I’ll wear my hair during the bike and run.  So I typically have extra ties on my wrist, but during my open water swim practice, I realized that they fly off when I’m trying to pull off my wetsuit, never to be seen again. UGH!  So I will have to stash some extras on my bike or with my running watch.  But again, something Brian doesn’t have to think about.

I will throw my hair into a bun on the top of my head for the swim.  But as I mentioned I don’t know how I’m wearing my hair during the bike and run.   I have some ideas but I haven’t settled on which one will be the easiest to do in a tight transition area.  I was going to throw a bondi band on and have “loose” hair while biking.  I wanted to have a band on to keep the sweat out of my eyes, but if I do that, I don’t know what to do for the run.  I can easily take the band off and throw on a running cap for the run, expect as you are already aware – I have a lot of hair and when it’s really hot, I like to run in a visor instead of a hat to keep from overheating.  But I can’t put my hair in a high pony for a visor while in transition.  It takes up too much time.  So that leads me back to thinking I’ll just throw on a running cap for the run and deal with the heat because it’s only 3 miles.  Then I was thinking if I do that, should I just put the cap on right out of the water and wear it under my helmet?  It looks a bit funny but it may work.  But it will be hot to have both a cap and helmet on. Ugh, decisions, decisions.

And there are way too many reasons why I can’t keep the band on while running.  There’s also way – way – way too many reason why I must have my hair in a bun on the top of my head for the swim.  I’ve tried a few other ways to wear my hair, and nothing else worked.  So I’m going with what I know and that’s a “shark fin” bun.  But because of my hair issues, I have to pack extra swim caps, multiple hair ties, bands, visors and running caps.  Oh yeah, and my helmet.  Definitely more than what Brian has to think about.

I’m going to spare you the boring details on what I’m wearing on the bike and the run.  I had NO – NO – NO desire to wear spandex in front of people.  But lord help me, I may end up wearing an actual tri outfit, spandex shorts and all.  It makes me kind of sick to think about my chubby thighs, saddle bags and love handles being on display for all to see in their jiggly glory, but I just don’t think I can throw an extra pair of shorts on over the top of the spandex like I had wanted to do originally. I haven’t ruled it out – but we’ll see.

Needless to say, I have so much to yet think about and/or pack for race day that Brian can’t fully understand (i.e. I got my race day top in the mail and then I asked Brian, “what the hell do I do about a bra?  I need to wear a sports bra (and all of my favorites have some padding in them) and it’s going to be wet coming out of the water – how long is it going to take to dry and will I chafe?”  To which Brian replied… you have padding in your sports bra!?!”) and isn’t really very helpful!  I’ve reached out to two of my female friends who not only have done tris in the past, but are training for Ironman this year – I figured they could lend me a few tips/pointers.  And while I’ve been getting tips from friends, reading blogs, and articles – I still feel that no matter what I do – I won’t be prepared and I will forget something.  But as my friend Jamie, soon to be Ironman Jamie, said “try not to let anything get to you…. biggest thing to try and do… stay CALM.”

So, that’s what I’m going to try to do.  Stay calm and not let anything bother me.  I have to remember back to 2014 when I was standing in the corral at the Chicago Marathon and how I wanted to be a “newbie” again and I how I wanted to have butterflies and excitement again.  As they say… be careful what you wish for!

Until next time,

Gotta run (and swim and bike)