Facing My Fear Part Two-Race Day!!!

 

Race Day, Montauk Might Many Sprint Triathlon

The alarm went off at 4:14am, not that I needed it, because I had been awake most of the night. I wondered if any other participants were as worked up as me.

Like most athletes, I have a specific morning routine that I follow, down to the smallest detail. I drink a cup of tea with honey, a toasted gluten free bagel with almond butter, jelly, and Chia seeds. I have to get up early enough for this to digest, so I can…ahem…leave a little of it at home, so to speak. With the race day jitters I am a frequent user of all-that-is “toilet”.

My race day equipment was packed. I had a bucket filled with towels, a plastic garbage bag, bike and running shoes, socks, extra water bottles, 2 swim caps, goggles, gloves, a jacket, bike helmet and glasses, inhaler, Vaseline, my phone, and God knows what else. It didn’t all fit in the bucket. I WAS going to put on my wetsuit at the house, since the starting line is just a half a mile away, but I opted against that…..I knew I would need frequent visits to the Blessed porta potties before starting. I arrived at 5:45am and the transition area was already about 75% full. The grass was wet on my flip flop clad feet and my sweat pant legs were getting damp. This pissed me off way more than it should have. (STRESS) I methodically set up my transition area, positioning everything I would need for the two changes. My helmet was perched upside down on my handlebars, with my glasses inside.  My wool socks were rolled down to the toes; my towel was ready, water bottle to wash my feet off was ready, and my bucket was turned upside down. Next to all of this were a jacket and my running shoes, and a small water bottle filled with an electrolyte drink for the run. Taped to my bike was a plastic bag with a small protein bar that I could shove  down at the start of the cycling. All that was left was for me to go to the bathroom six more times and put on my wetsuit.

Good morning athletes! Do you like my fake smile?

Good morning athletes! Do you like my fake smile?

Approximately thirty minutes before the scheduled start of the swim, I took a long pull or two on my inhaler and proceeded to encase myself in black rubber.

The time came for all athletes to move over to the shore line and assemble in our “waves”. I was in the 4th wave: females, 40 and older. We all had white swim caps. They assigned MY group of WHITE CAPS? BORING!!! Anyway, we lined up and nervously chatted.

White cap? Yes, but I think the purple adds a little fashion. Oh, and notice the look on my face!

White cap? Yes, but I think the purple adds a little fashion. Oh, and notice the look on my face!

One by one the waves of swimmers entered the water, for their “chest-deep” start. (I assume we didn’t do a beach-run start because they didn’t want people stomping on all of the snapping turtles.) As I  moved toward the water, I felt like a cow going to slaughter. The voices in my head laughed  and told me I was going to die. Then the shivering took over. As I moved further into the lake, I looked around and had what I can only describe as an out of body experience. The only thoughts I had were: 1) Oh my God, I am really going to do this, and 2) Oh my God, I wonder how many of these people around me are peeing in this water?

There was no time to worry about pee because the next thing I knew a gun went off and my wave started. SWIM PATTY! I took a few strokes and found myself playing a water version of Twister with four other swimmers. My goggles fogged up and I couldn’t see. All I could do was TRY to swim, which was impossible because a group of us were seemingly staying in one place, wrestling. This did not please me. I tried zig zagging, looking for a way out of the churn, and I realized I wasn’t breathing at all.  CALM DOWN! Since I couldn’t see out of my goggles, or stop shivering enough to get a good breath, I flipped over on my back and did some kind of messed up version of sculling. Embarrassed by this, I flipped back over and did some breaststroke. Then for some reason, I started side stroking. SIDESTROKING?!!! Who the HELL sidestrokes??? Oh, and I was barely 25 yards from the start! I  considered giving up right then and there. Yep. BUT I DIDN’T. I decided that no matter what, I was going to finish this God forsaken swim and get out of that lake. I never warmed up enough or calmed down enough to do more than ten to twenty crawl strokes at a time. I swam on my back a lot, inventing ways to move my body through the water. I breast stoked a TON, and did my best not to drink any of the lake’s blackish green water. I wondered: “WHERE THE HELL DID ALL MY TRAINING GO?”  I kept going. I stayed on my belly all the way into the shallow water, and jumped up when it was only two feet deep because I heard that is faster than trying to run through waist deep water.

This is how I WISH I felt after the swim....hahahahaha, silly girl.

This is how I WISH I felt after the swim….hahahahaha, silly girl.

I stumbled, exhausted, out of the swamp. As I gathered what remaining strength I had left, I unzipped my wetsuit and ripped my goggles off. I found that my entire face was covered in slime. I thought it was seaweed, until I realized it was coming out of my nose and mouth. I was a phlegm factory. It took several attempts before I was able to rid myself of that shit.

By the time I ran to my bike, the swim experience was completely behind me and I was READY! I had a little trouble getting my left leg out of the wetsuit because of the bulky timing chip on my ankle, and I started to panic. I stopped, took a calming breath,  and pulled my foot out. I put my glasses and helmet on, ripped open the bag with my snack in it, and shoved the protein bar in my mouth. Never underestimate how dry those things are! I was in the very back section of the transition area so I had to navigate around several people before I exited the area. I clipped right into my pedals, headed down the street, and spit out the protein bar, for fear of choking on the damned thing.

Something happened to me as soon as I got my feet spinning. I turned into a combination of Godzilla and Jim Carey in “The Mask”. I approached other cyclists with the screaming voice; “ON YOUR LEFT!”, “PASSING!”, “On YOUR LEFT!” Oh my God, I was actually embarrassed. (Well, not really) I was a mad woman throwing my head in the air and cackling!  “You’re MINE, I tell you!”

GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!

GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!

The course has a bad ass hill about a mile into the start, that sneaks up on you and never lets go.  My lungs were in my throat half way up. I crested the top and shifted into high gear. I usually brake a little on the downhill, but this time, I just let it go. WEEEEEEEEEE. (“Oh God, please don’t let me crash, please don’t let me crash”) The ride is an out and back and the usually fierce Montauk wind behaved on this day. I rode hard, although my legs were protesting the whole way. At one point I looked down at my computer and it read 30 MPH. WHAT? The last hill was a killer and I slowed down to 11 MPH for a portion.

This lady scares me!

This lady scares me!

Before I knew it I was back in the transition area and in short order, I changed into my running shoes and grabbed my water bottle. My feet took off faster than I thought possible, and for the first mile, I had no feeling in the front half of either of them. The course circles the lake and the views are stellar. Now that I was no longer IN the lake, I enjoyed its beauty. I got a little fatigued and in an effort to avoid an asthma attack, I took a few short walk breaks. I passed a lot of people on my run and finished with a sprint.

Coming down the home stretch

Coming down the home stretch

I put it all out there that morning. When I finished, I was heaving, and wheezing, and within about a minute after the finish, the tears arrived. Like I said in my previous post, they always do. There’s a mixture of: joy, exhaustion, wonder, elation, and accomplishment that I just can’t describe. I did it. I did well. I gave my all. I didn’t die. I didn’t shit myself.

2013-09-28 10.27.41

My bike shop buddies: Pierce and Lenny, and me, enjoying our age group awards!

To some, a Sprint Triathlon is like an easy walk in the park. They could do one in their sleep. For me? It was my biggest physical and mental accomplishment since I did my first marathon last year. But in many ways it was harder. I loved it. I hated it. I laughed and I cursed. I know I will do another one. Will I ever make it all the way to an Ironman? Oh boy…. time will tell. For now, I will enjoy this memory, and keep on training.

When All Else Fails, a Good Attitude Will See You Through

What an interesting weekend. Several days ago, I was basking in the afterglow of seeing several of my “team mates” conquer an assortment of races across the country. I got  caught up in their victories, trials, struggles, and achievements, and found myself desperately seeking the adrenaline high’s they were experiencing. What can I say, I’m a lemming.

I went online and found a Triathlon nearby in Eugene, Oregon. This race offered a Sprint distance with a 700m open water swim, 14 mile bike ride, and a 5K run. I have been training in open water for the past few weeks and thought it might be a good idea to do this one for a trial run, in preparation for my Sprint Tri in Montauk, New York in September. I immediately signed up and booked a hotel room for the night before. I sent a Facebook message to my coach telling him that I put a Sprint Tri on my calendar for the following Sunday, and his response was: “Ugh”. Hmm, this concerned me. He doesn’t like when I throw things at him that are not in our plan. After three months working with me, I thought he would be used to this by now.

So, good coach that he is, he adjusted my workouts and we both pushed on. I was feeling in good spirits until a few days before the race when I received the email that said:

“The swim segment of Triathlon Eugene has been cancelled. The race will convert to a run-bike-run configuration. Working Friday afternoon with the Oregon Health Authority and Lane County Parks, and after reviewing data compiled during the week, Pacific Sports has made the decision that it is in the best interests of the participants to eliminate the swim portion of the course. We will be announcing the final details and course by Saturday afternoon once we have an opportunity to establish the course and coordinate with the timing company. The Olympic distance first-segment run is 5K and the Sprint distance is 2.5K.”

WTH???

While I am very happy that Pacific Sports decided that exposing participants to God knows what kind of algae, I was, nevertheless, disappointed. The event website was very clear from the beginning: There would be no refunds or transfer of registration, under any circumstance. Well, this was just great. Here I was, preparing for and stressing out for an event that wasn’t going to be the “real deal”. I was signed up to drive two hours,  spend money on a hotel room, and participate in a triathlon that wasn’t a triathlon, and there was nothing I could do to get my money back. Being the “adventurer” that I am, I decided to go through with it.

The packet pick up was at a CrossFit club in Eugene. While I don’t do CrossFit per se, nor do I have any objection to it, I do have one question: Do they purposefully make these clubs filthy and disgusting? I wanted to get a Tetanus shot after spending 20 minutes in the place. Whatever. Be tough, be a bad-ass, but at least make it sanitary.

While at the pick up, I stood for 10 minutes before anyone helped me, and there was only one other athlete there signing in. I was tired from my drive, so I didn’t speak up, I just kept smiling at the volunteers and hoping they would help me. (Totally disorganized) I managed to get my bib and bag, and was temporarily perplexed when they asked me what color swim cap I wanted. I laughed and said, “Oh, I’ll take the purple one, even though it’s not really a Tri anymore.” The volunteer looked at me and said, “Yes it is. You’re doing three legs.” Oh my! With a chuckle, I went back to my car and headed to my hotel.

I arrived at the Red Lion, (and I must admit, my attitude was less than perky) to find the  Hotel Display sign as follows:

Do we really want the stoned out people of Eugene, Or carrying?

Do we really want the stoned out people of Eugene, Or carrying?

My hotel room was actually pretty good and I felt great settling in. I drove out to the triathlon location to do a little trial run and ride, just to get familiar with the place, and ended up pretty much getting lost. The event website wasn’t exactly clear on the location of the start! I drove to three different parking lots before I found the right one. My nerves were starting to get to me, but I ended up having a nice little run and trial ride for about a half hour. The streets were wide, and the hills seemed to be manageable. All was good in my world.

Before the start

Look how confident and happy I am in my new short haircut!

The next morning, I got to the start early enough that I secured a great parking space, got checked in, and had time for several bathroom trips and about 1/2 hour of a warm up. I wasn’t too keen on doing the 1.5 ish mile first leg, in lieu of the swim, but I had no choice.

When the starting horn went off, I ran like crazy. I was determined to get this first segment over with as soon as possible. I am NOT a fast runner and I am certainly not a sprinter, but I knew this race was going to be set up during this first segment. I ran 8:18 minute miles for the 1.5k, which was pretty good for me, and hopped on the bike to do my 14 miles. I was NOT prepared for the hills! Holy MOTHER, they were tough! I said more than a few bad words in the first half of the bike ride, wondering why in God’s name I chose to do this, until I finally got a hold of my nerves and just RODE LIKE HELL! Several elite type cyclists passed me as well as some “regular” people, and each time, we shouted encouragements to each other. That was pretty cool.  The scenery was gorgeous and the volunteers were fantastic. Just about the time I was heading back into the transition area, it started to rain slightly.

I bounded off my bike, determined to finish strong and sprinted out for the 5k run. My legs were numb and my lungs were heaving by this time, but I managed to keep up a good pace. About halfway through my run, the skies opened up and it just poured. I thoroughly enjoyed the rain, until it was coming down so hard that it was streaming down my face. Thankfully, it was a warm day. When I saw the finish line, I tried to give it more gas, but realized I was already at capacity. I finished strong and with a huge smile on my face. I also let out a few loud “WOOHOO’s” and “YEAH!’s”.

Can you see that rain???

Can you see that rain???

By now, the rain was coming down in sheets. It was ridiculous! I quickly changed into my dry clothes and full rain gear and went back to check on the results and cheer on the other finishers. To my complete shock, I found out I had gotten 2nd in my age group and 12th overall female finisher. SERIOUSLY? WOW, I was stoked!

2nd place AG

OK, I admit it. I took off my rain gear to pose for this one.

Shortly after this photo was taken the shivering commenced and I decided to go back to the hotel and take a hot shower. I had a 2 hour drive to make and I was pretty beat.

This event turned out to be a fun time, despite all the weird twists and turns leading up to it. Would I do it again? No. Not this one. I’d prefer a more organized event. I hope my next one is better run and there’s no algae to ruin the swim. We shall see….in about 3 weeks. Stay tuned.

Have you done a triathlon? Ever thought of one?

How Did it Come to This? (What am I doing picking up a new sport at my age?)

This past year and a half, I have transformed my normal “habit” of working out, into an all out “commitment”. I’ve had high’s and low’s, but for some obsessive reason, I continue to push myself and explore new ways to challenge my body to it’s limit. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I have done so, to the degree that I didn’t recognize when the “No pain, no gain” issue got out of hand, and I found myself with some serious injuries. I hope I have learned from that. I honestly don’t know. (Insert crooked smile)

For the most part, the people in my life appear to support my new commitment, and applaud my efforts to be stronger, healthier, and more fit. But there have been a few sideways glances, raised eyebrows, and full on: “What the Hell are you killing yourself for?” questions aimed at my sweating, heaving, self.

Brutally hot runA particularly hot and difficult run in August

On the surface, all is moving ahead in what I assume is a normal progression. NOT that I have the patience for normal progression. I (of course) half expected after the past two and a half months of intensive training, that I should be able to complete an Ironman. So far, I am not exactly ready.

Case in point: Two weeks ago, I took the plunge (gotcha) and bought a wet suit so that I could start training in open water. Why, you might ask, would one need a wetsuit in August, just to go swimming? HAHAHHAHAHAHA, well, the sad truth is that in Oregon, believe it or not, our mountain fed rivers never really warm up. (And don’t even get me started with the temperatures of the Pacific Ocean! ) So there I was in  The Athlete’s Lounge, stuck in a dressing room trying on wetsuits. Nobody had ever told me that this experience is like trying to put a Champagne cork back into a bottle. Seriously! I was making loud grunting noises. I was falling over, hitting the wall, breathing hard, and sweating like a pig, and it sounded like a porno movie was being filmed! At one point, I seriously considered giving up the sport of swimming, just to avoid having to try these sausage casings on! I got stuck in the legs twice and had to sit down just to catch my breath. That’s when I took this very flattering selfie:

My God, I need my inhaler and a shower!

My God, I need my inhaler and a shower!

I am sure the people that work there have to endure months of training so they can learn NOT to laugh, roll their eyes, and generally ignore all the newbies like me that come in all pumped up and “green” announcing to everyone that they “ARE TRAINING FOR A TRIATHLON.” Oh brother.

After an exhaustive session of profuse sweating, I finally bought the damned suit. The way my mind works is this: if I spend more money than I currently have laying around the floor, doing nothing, than I have to justify it big time to myself. I made promises in the car that day that no mortal human being could ever expect to keep! I guess I’m a cheep skate with my money and like many women my age, I don’t think I deserve to spend money on myself. (I’m working on that)

So back to my new sport-the Triathlon. It seems that if you really want to call yourself a triathlete, you HAVE to compete in open water. While that doesn’t sound so bad, consider how many times you have had the opportunity to really swim in open water. How about training? Year round? Nah! Pools are great for drills and off season, but in some areas, the minute the ice melts……Polar Bear Plunge

The time had come for me to get it done. There is a group swimmers that do an open water swim in the Clackamas River, about 4 miles from my house, every Wednesday evening. I had my newly purchased wetsuit and warm summer temperatures, so I had no excuse not to join them and see how I would do. I was a tad bit overwhelmed!

It looks a lot more daunting when you have to swim in it.

It looks a lot more daunting when you have to swim in it.

There are minutely visible buoys in the upper right corner of this photo. The first leg, you swim to an orange buoy. It is not visible to my naked eye when I am standing on the shore,  securely crammed into my neoprene second skin. Time to  get ‘er done. The first time, I wasn’t prepared for the panic. The claustrophobia. The: “Oh MY GOD, I can’t even see my hands underwater-it’s so murky.” sensation. Then there was the: “Shit!, people drown in this river all the time and what if a bloated body surfaces and bumps into me?” random thought. Suffice it to say, I survived. A little shaken, but I did it. I pretty much hyperventilated the entire 1000 yards, but I didn’t embarrass myself, or drown.

I went back a second time and it was much better. The third time, I was actually kind of cocky…..for about a minute. This time, I had already done a workout in the morning that consisted of a 20 mile bike ride and a 1 mile run. By the time 6:00pm came around, I was beat. But I went anyway, because it was Wednesday night, and I am a “triathlete!” It was a tough night. I was fatigued and sore from the workouts I had done this week, and I took a few breaks. I swam breaststroke for a while, floated on my back, cursed a little. (I enjoyed that part) BUT, I finished the swim! I didn’t panic or cry, which is a good thing.

As I cooled down with my new friends, I realized that a few months ago, there would have been  no way I could have, or would have done this. But, today, I walk tall and proud. Tomorrow, I might not get out of bed, but that’s irrelevant. I wondered how it came to this and I decided it doesn’t matter. It came. I’m conquering. That’s it. Oh, yeah, and let me tell you. There is NOTHING like the badass feeling I have when I am strutting back to my car in my wetsuit!

Oh, who's that bad ass chick in the wetsuit?

Oh, who’s that bad ass chick in the wetsuit?

So, how did it come to this? I have no idea and I don’t care. I’m just taking this journey one step, cycle, and stroke at a time. What new adventure are you trying? What would you like to try? Share your story. Thanks for visiting, and please subscribe to my blog.

 

 

Quit Whining and Make a Decision

I sure hate when it feels like I am beating my head against a wall and nothing is going anywhere. I had a run last week that ended halfway through my planned time, because of painful unplanned blisters. Talk about frustrating! Just then, I looked up and saw this:

Talk about hitting the wall!

Talk about hitting the wall!

So here’s the deal. Some days the obvious is staring you in the eyeballs or slamming you in the head, like a wine hangover. It’s right there. Relentlessly knock knock knocking, until you want to run to a hilltop and scream: “OK, I GET IT! NOW LEAVE ME ALONE.”

I had one of those “aha” moments this morning, while talking to one of my coaches. I have coaches for just about everything I do. Sometimes I actually listen to them. (Although I would venture to say, they wouldn’t always agree with that) Just in case you are curious, here is my list of coaches:

Marathon Running coach, Triathlon coach, Business coach, Voice coach, Acting coach.

Depending on my level of participation in all of the above,  my commitment level varies, as does the frequency of meetings, calls, and evaluations with these very patient people. This morning I had a call with my business coach, who I speak with every two weeks. (Cringing with the knowledge that I might not have done the work he assigned to me during the previous call) This morning’s call went something like this:

Coach: “So, tell me what’s going on in your business. How many calls, notes, and client visits have you done?”

Me: “Oh, I meant to, but,  bla bla bla bla…”(Sweat drops forming on upper lip)

Coach: “Patty, RIGHT NOW, tell me what is stopping you from doing… A, B, C?”

Me: “I’m afraid.”

Coach: “Afraid of what?”

Me: “I don’t know.”

Herein lies the problem. We talked about the fear of failure, of success, of everything in between, and then he helped me come to the conclusion that the reason I am meeting less that 100% of my yearly goals is because I lack confidence. (Do you have this fear? Do you ever admit it to yourself?) It’s certainly not something I advertise, but it is something I know, deep down inside, and carry around shamefully.

On the outside, most athletes and competitive people exude confidence, bravado, and grit. Inside, however, at least SOME of the time, we are not feeling that at all. It’s kind of like my Chihuahua: all tough and “in charge”, until you get too close.

Hi world. I might bark at anything that moves, but when it moves back????

Hi world. I might bark at anything that moves, but when it moves back????

We talked about roadblocks to success and it all boiled down to the ability to make decisions. Lack of confidence hinders that ability. Confident people make decisions faster, and without fear. Think about it. The next time you think of some goal you would love to achieve, how will you respond? Will you commit immediately and set the wheels in motion to go get it? OR will you hem and haw about how there’s not enough time, it’s too big of a goal, or maybe you will think you are not ready, good enough, strong enough? Here is another excerp from my coaching conversation:

Coach: “Patty, when I tell you to act now on your goal, what does that mean to you?”

Me: “Well, I guess it means to start today.”

Coach: “Ok, write down this definition of NOW.”

Me: “ok.”

Coach: ” NOW means EFFING NOW!”

OK, I got it. (Knock knock knocking) He’s right, of course. It is so obvious.

When I decided to run my first marathon, I immediately called a coach and got a plan. When I saw some issues with my improvement after coming back from a sports injury, I got a Triathlon coach. I have all these coaches, but I am the one that has to make the decisions and take the action necessary that will assure I will reach my goals.

So, here, now, today, I am pressing the REGISTER button on the MightyMan Montauk Sprint Distance Triathlon. This will be my second sprint tri, but my first open water experience. My competitive nature wants me to do the Olympic Distance, but I am taking the safe route and seeing how I do in open water. (There’s that confidence thing again.)

Oh, and coach Billy, in case you read this, I have scheduled a lender lunch and am writing an offer today. I heard you. Thanks for being my supporter and “hit me over the head as many times as you need to-er”.

So my advice today is to make decisions, learn from them, and do something to move yourself forward this day, NOW. Think of the rewards.

Are you a good decision maker? Have you jumped into a huge goal that brought you to a stellar achievement. I’d love to hear your story.

I Tried a Tri

It’s a funny thing when you accidentally venture into uncharted “waters”. Last December, when I was diagnosed with 2 torn tendons, a torn muscle, and a few other torn things that I can’t pronounce, I anxiously awaited my first Physical Therapy appointment. I was told to immediately stop running, and in fact, “Don’t walk any further than you have to.”

Once PT started, I was both devastated at the fact that I was done running for several weeks, and elated that I could at least bike and swim. Thankfully, I could “feed the beast” that was my need to exercise! I rushed off to find an indoor pool that had a temperature I could endure. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to being cold, so there was no way I was going back to my old 24 Hour Fitness Club. THAT water was frigid!

UntitledI found a pool that had nice warm water, and started working out once or twice a week. Boy, it felt good to swim again after so many years. I also go t my bike out of the garage and figured out how to ride it after several mishaps. Being January and all, I would have to say that the first several weeks of riding was a bit of a challenge.

January bike attire in Oregon for the "Non-cyclist"

January bike attire in Oregon for the “Non-cyclist” Yes, those are snow pants and boots.

Oh yeah, now, THIS is a fashion statement. I rode 19 miles round trip to a Pt appointment in the freezing rain. I was smart enough to bring a change of clothes for the ride home.

Oh yeah, now, THIS is a fashion statement. I rode 19 miles round trip to a Pt appointment in the freezing rain. I was smart enough to bring a change of clothes for the ride home.

Let’s just say that I was desperate enough to do anything that would get my blood pumping, and since running was out of the question, I got out and did what I could do! A few weeks into this cross training, I had a crazy thought and started researching Triathlons. What the Hell? As of one year earlier, I hadn’t run more than around 6 miles at a time, and by now, I had 2 marathons, and numerous 10K’s and half marathons under my belt. Why not a tri?

I searched online and found a Sprint Triathlon in McMinnville, Or. This event was on June 1st, so I had almost 5 months to train for it. I signed up immediately, without a second thought. Off I went to the Sporting Goods Store to find a legit swim suit, and managed to buy one that I didn’t hate. (Have you ever tried those swim suits on? They are tight, short, and torturous)

My tri training went well for a few weeks, until I was able to start running again, Then the obsessed runner emerged and swimming and biking went out the window for about 2 months. I dove (hehehe) headfirst back into running and ended up completing 4 half marathons in 6 weeks. This was not the smartest thing I have ever done, because by the last one, I was barely able to walk the last few miles, due to the recurring injury I had exacerbated. Stupid over training again. Oh, when will I learn?

Fast forward to the weekend of the tri. I had studied up on the methodology of preparation. I had researched all the things I needed to bring, prepare, have on hand, and I packed my transition bags so that I would look like a pro! Well, not really. I had plastic grocery bags and a large “pine scented” kitchen garbage bag holding all of my transition items. HEY, at least MY area didn’t stink! The only thing I didn’t prepare for was getting sick. I caught a nasty cold 6 days before the event, and was pretty much in denial the whole week.

When I woke up on the morning of my inaugural triathlon, I had a sinus headache and was coughing up thick green crap. (Sorry). For several moments, I sat in my hotel room and contemplated driving home. BUT, I rallied and thought, “What the Hell.” Off I went.

Fortunately, the parking was easy and there were only about 200 athletes in this whole event. The facility was fantastic, and I never even had to wait in a bathroom line! It was raining when I arrived, so I was glad I had the handy plastic bags to lay out by my bike in the corral.I met some great people while waiting for my heat and the friendly conversation kept my nerves at bay. I had this picture taken about an hour before the race began.2013-06-01 08.19.04When I got in the pool at 9:35am for my start, I was in a lane with 3 guys. The rules say that if you want to pass a swimmer, you are supposed to tap them on the foot and they they should wait at the end of the lane so you can pass. We started our swim and warmed up in the first 100 or so yards. Once we found our own rhythm  our paces started to differ. Someone tapped my foot, so I waited and let him pass. Then I tapped the foot of the slug that was in front of me and he must not have wanted the only chick in the lane to pass him because he never did stop and allow me to pass. There was no way to pass him while swimming because there were people coming the other way, so I just hung back and followed him. I nearly drowned from having to swim so slowly. There were moments when I fantasized about grabbing his legs and pulling him under, but I kept my cool. I started stopping in the shallow end and waiting until he got a ways down the lane, just so I could get a few legitimate strokes in. LESSON: If you are going to enter an event where you are asked to estimate your swim time, PLEASE make sure you actually KNOW that time, and put yourself in the appropriate lane! 11:56 had passed by the time I got out of the pool.

The transition to the bike went pretty smoothly, once I got my socks and shoes on. Off I went for the supposedly flat out and back. The “OUT” was mostly flat and downhill, and some of the hills were long and more steep than the description read, so I was not looking forward tot he ride back. I threw all caution to the wind and just barreled through the ride. I ended up averaging almost 17 mph, which is faster than I had ever trained. I felt strong and unbeatable! A few times the voices in my head told me to slow down, because I was going to burn out my legs for the run, but I kept screaming back at those voices, “Who cares, I can walk the 5K! I’m on FIRE here!!!”

Back at the corral, I slapped my bike back into place, and tore out to do the run. This part was tough now, because my throat was closing and my lungs finally felt the morning’s effort. “It’s only 3.1 miles Patty. You can do this in your sleep.” I kept giving myself pep talks all the way. I knew there was water at the turn around, and in my haste, I had forgotten to grab the hand held water bottle I had packed. This was not good. I managed to keep a steady pace all the way through the run and finished strong, despite the fact that I now felt like I needed a hospital, or at least an oxygen mask. I had these two pictures taken just after I finished.

Feeling strong and so elated that I did this.

Feeling strong and so elated that I did this.

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Never miss the chance to “Badger up” at a race.

I had to hurry up and leave right after the race because of another commitment, so I didn’t stick around for the fun festivities. The next morning, I got an email with the results, and to my all time shock and awe, I had taken first place in my division! I can’t wait for my medal.

I will definitely do another triathlon. Next time I hope to be healthy, so I can see what this old body is really capable of! Go ahead and sign yourself up for one of these. Woot woot, it is a blast!

 

What Snot to Love?

I just love it when I am talking to someone and a bucket full of water and snot suddenly propels itself out of my nose. Now that I am swimming and training for a Sprint Triathlon, I am having flashbacks of my youth swim team and lifeguard training.

I am proud to have control over most of my bodily functions, but my “swimmer’s nose” just laughs at me and runs down my face at will. It’s one of the ways I am forced to be humble, I guess. Trust me, nothing says, “Consummate Professional”, like a spontaneous expulsion! If I were an Olympic swimmer, I’d be much more able to get away with it.

Poor Ian.

Oh well, back to me. So, now that I am training for my first Triathlon, I am spending two to three days working out in a pool. This increases the chance of my snot rocket surprises by up to 30% each week, for those of you that don’t have mad math skills. I am a very efficient swimmer. I know how to breathe in and out through my nose and mouth while swimming. So why does this happen, and what can be done about it? Experts vary on the reasons and remedies, but they all agree that irritants, allergies, and bacteria are among the common causes.

Germaphobe that I am, I shutter to think about what I am exactly ingesting while swimming in that community pool. I know people sweat, spit, and God knows what else in public pools, but I have always considered the chlorine (which of course is a poison) would take care of that. I recently read that Olympic swimmers admit to peeing in pools all the time. Nice. For the record I have never done this! You are safe to share a lane with me.

The good news is that, if I get all snotty while swimming or afterwards, at least I know that it is because I am working out. I am off my butt, making an effort to get this body moving, in any way that it can. It takes effort and dedication to convince yourself that it is a good idea to put on a bathing suit in the middle of winter when you are pasty white and it is cold, dark, and raining out, and drive yourself to a pool, so that you can take that first chilly plunge.

My advice? Get out there and do it. Swimming is one of the best ways to start or enhance your fitness routine. The first few days may be tough as you adjust to the water, the newness of your heart pounding, and the shortness of breath. In a few days, you will be amazed at how quickly your endurance improves. Just keep in mind that tissues should always be on hand. Or, buy a nose clip-I hear that can help.

See you in the deep end.