Category Archives: Triathlons
Okay, I’ve spent a lot of time in the pool over the last three years and the bottom line is that I haven’t made the progress that I should. I am easily defeated and when I don’t see fast progress I ignore the fact that I haven’t put in the work to get better. We have indicated to our Coach Mike Garrett that we want to improve, maybe compete and for sure improve our open water times for triathlons. Speaking for myself, I have been mostly playing. By now a mile should be a routine. I am gasping for air after 100 yds. Plain and simple I haven’t done the work. So here is my 2015 pledge, no more whining just doing. I started today. Let’s see what I can do.
Okay if you want to hear really stupid things google them. I looked out of curiosity and because we had a very unsuccessful swim event for kids last evening. Now without debating a myriad of silly issues about swimming I am going to say that the sports that get the least attention in some communities have the fewest participants. Who knows how to swim and how do they learn?
I grew up in Manhattan, the only child of a father who was afraid of the water and a mother who knew how to swim. I did not have a local Y to go to or any indoor pool that I can remember. Occasionally we went to public pools but not often. Yet I have been in the water my whole life. Probably because my mother loved the water and she passed that information on to me.
So dispensing with a lot of other theories, I think that you only know about swimming what you are exposed to.
Currently I am enjoying a Facebook page dedicated to Black Triathletes. Before you say why is that page necessary, it’s to offer support and spread the word about a sport that may still be unknown to many minority people with athletic aspirations. Swimming is often the topic of conversation because many people haven’t learned how to swim.
So much work to do. Pass the word, swimming is fun and may save your life one day. If you live in New Jersey and can come to Newark, let me know we have a beautiful pool, a Master swim team and would love to have you learn to swim!
So how exactly did I get here? An admitted lifelong couch potato I have had episodic bouts of fitness over the last 62 years but nothing consistent enough to call a way of life. Honestly I’m not sure how I got here. I guess Roz was the biggest moving force. She took the rest of us to a Triwomen meeting and we began our triathlon journey. When I began swimming with my team BrickCity Masterswim, my intention was to improve my swimming and that’s it. The next thing you know I am volunteering at Iron Girl, Sandy Hook and I became intrigued. The next year I signed up and due to health issues I couldn’t do it. This year I did two sprints.
After spending time with my swim family it just seemed like a natural progression. I swore that if I just finished both times, I wouldn’t do it again but I’m getting ready to sign up for 2015. Perhaps this has become my new way of life.
I have so much to learn about triathlon. I have inquired of people who have done the New Jersey State Triathlon about the event before I pay my money and sign up. First the swim is in a lake and I’m not crazy about lakes. But okay I can give it a tri Lol! Second it is a USTA sanctioned event and it’s timed. Only 35 minutes for the swim, which makes me a bit nervous. Even though I covered more distance in 32 minutes anything can happen and over 35 minutes from your start and you are pulled from the water and dq’d. I would be devastated to say the least. From what I gather you have about three hours to complete the ride and four hours to complete the whole event. They close the course at 11:30 am. That shouldn’t be a problem but I’m anxious about the timed aspect. Now I’m told it’s a “tread” start. Do you know what that is?
You actually start the race in deep water and swim out to the start and tread water until the horn goes off! What? Well this will be a new challenge if I decide to tri it.
You off and on watch Ironman Kona on-line from early morning until late night and are thrilled watching people finish. Now an Ironman is out of my realm of possibility but it is still thrilling to think about what it takes to do one. I see now how people escalate from sprints to olympics to 70.3 to full Ironman events. How far can we push ourselves? I look at olympic distances and say to myself I can train for the swim and ride but I can’t run so walking 6.2 miles is out of the question. Or is it? OMG what am I saying. After both of my events this year I swore that I was finished. As the day wore on I had rationalized that I just needed more training. Well that’s true. But I am way ahead of myself. Let’s just get through the winter and then…..
How do I describe myself post two sprint triathlons. Well I’m a heck of a lot healthier than I was, fitter and for sure I feel a sense of accomplishment but am I an athelete? I don’t think so. Athletes run marathons, do Ironman Triathlons and swim long distances. That isn’t me for sure.
According to Free Dictionary.com:
“Athlete: a person possessing the natural or acquired traits, such as strength, agility and endurance, that are necessary for physical exercise or sports especially those performed in competitive contexts”.
Well okay so I don’t have a lot of strength or agility but doing something for 2hours and 59 minutes says I certainly had stamina.
So okay if you call me an athlete I may answer.
Today some of the members of a Facebook page I follow did and Iron Man triathlon. For those of you who don’t know that entails a 2.4mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and a marathon run (26.2 miles). I believe that most have a time limit in which you have to complete it. Anyway people ask you do you do that and the answer is the same as the one for sprint triathlons like I do, you train for it.
Being the best swimmer in the world doesn’t help you on your bike. Being a marathon runner does not prepare you for the swim. You have to put in adequate time in each sport to stand a chance of completing the entire event.
I know of a few people this year that were not successful in their triathlon attempts and several of them had medical issues that arose and kept them from being successful. I think that if you talked to the rest of them you would find out that they just didn’t get the right amount of training in. It’s a delicate balance and other than doing the distances in training you are always unsure whether what you’ve done is enough.
If you watch your elite athletes, they are constantly training to stay in the game so to speak. So when you are getting up in the dark to get your training in visualize the finish line!
One of the things that took a while to sink in for me was that no matter how many people are around and no matter how supportive they are, when the horn goes off and a triathlon begins, you are on your own. If your mental game is not right all the cheering in the world won’t be enough. I go over this in my mind often because once I began to swim I started hearing all the negative things possible in my head. I lost focus on my swimming and concentrated on how far in the distance my exit point was. As I was leaving the water I began to be uptight because I had struggled so on my bike the month before. The ride was tough for me without a doubt but when it was done I realized that I had trained fairly well. Since I don’t run the walk was the most enjoyable part of the whole thing. I practiced in my head saying that I was through with triathlons all the way to the finish line. I told my friends that I was never doing it again and that I was going to sell my bike the next day.
Wow! I can carry on. The fact is I had the wrong mindset through the entire thing. My planned mantra went out the window or in this case floated out to sea within two minutes of the start. After that I was fighting myself for three hours.
So I have about ten months to get it together. Planning for a better mindset next year!
So let me explain. I was a triathlon newbie this year. I am a pretty literal person so when you tell me a course is flat I take your word for it. So here is what I learned don’t ask a real swimmer about the swim in a triathlon. They will tell you something like ” it only a 3rd of a mile you’ve done that in the pool. True. Lesson one the pool is not the ocean or the bay. I swim four to five times a week in the summer and could do the distance that I needed for the tri’s. I was not however ready to swim the distance with waves, wind and people swimming over my slow head. Plus something touched my foot and there were no people near me.
Lie number two, bikers don’t count hills that don’t make them stand up while they are riding. At Iron Girl they said a little wind. What? I felt like I was riding into a wall for a mile or two and had to do it twice.
This time the runners didn’t lie and the course was flat and pleasant.
This past February though I did a 5K with my buds. We all walked it. Could anyone have told me that Morristown, New Jersey is built on a series of hills. I was talking to my self out loud by mile three.
So whatever an athlete tells you ask them first how fast they run, ride or swim and then multiply what they say by at least three.
Words to the wise!!!!