For the past few months I have struggled with my swimming stamina. After regularly swimming for several years, I didn’t see the progress that I wanted to. Even post triathlon season I still found myself gasping at the end of a fifty yard swim. My coach told me to stop struggling and use the buoy and just use my upper body. So the next day I did 30 laps (60 lengths of 25 yd pool) for a total of 1,500 yards without stopping. Not bad but in my head I am still using the crutch of the buoy. I have done this for the last two weeks. The other day I decided to try to do fifty yards without the buoy. Guess what? I did two hundred! So what’s my point? After the mechanics kick in what’s in your head dictates your swimming ability. I can’t stress this enough. Relax and rely on your training. The rest will come. Did I mention be patient with yourself? A hard learned lesson for me.
Okay new season of training begins. I think I’m going to sign up for the New Jersey State Triathlon in July 2015. Don’t tell anybody but I think so. So I have to be serious from now on.
On the Black Triathlete’s Facebook page I saw mention of the website SwimSmooth.com. and visited it. It’s a nice site breaking down all the parts of a triathlon. I am concentrating on the swim. Lesson one for me is breathing. Am I breathing out the entire time my head is in the water? Or am I like many swimmers holding my breath?
This week I am working on the breathing part. It’s worth looking at even if you are an experienced swimmer. Blow bubbles exhaling unless you are turning your head to breath. I bi-lateral breathe every third stroke but yesterday I tried every five and seven breaths. Interesting.
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!!!!
Two hours and 59 minutes later and I had my second triathlon metal ever! Someone pointed out that this was my second in 35 days. Sounds impressive to me. I have begun the critique and see lots of room for improvement but hey I did it. Who would think that I could keep moving for hours. Did I mention a 15 minute walk to where the competition began and a return walk at the end? So the breakdown was 32 minutes in the water, 1 hr and 24 minutes on the bike (two loops riding a few miles into a killer wind each time) and a 3 mile run (walk for me). Well I quit again yesterday like I had done in August. But this time I’m serious. That was the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done. Hmn a week off and then I begin training again for next year. Even though I’m not doing it again I need to be ready. Just in case.
These ladies swim with me and were my inspiration. We range in age from 30’s to 60’s not telling their ages. I’m the oldest just short of my 63rd birthday in October. Iron Girl’s all.
I was pretty calm when we approached the water. I grew up swimming in the Atlantic and even though it was a bit rough, I didn’t have any trouble getting in. My strategy however wasn’t great. I thought the slower the better because I wanted to save my energy for the bike and run/walk. Well that’s okay but I was in the water long enough to swim three times the distance. Life Guards kept approaching me and asking if I was okay. I was. Just incredibly slow. The next time I want to relax an swim my regular swim.
Advice, if your triathlon involves open water swimming and you haven’t done this before (splashing around in the surf doesn’t count) please see if there are training swims on location so that you know what to expect. If you are uncomfortable with the swim, do several training swims. Then swim, your swim don’t let anything change your style.
My First Triathlon: 2:22:57
Not sure where to begin this story. Yesterday I completed my first (and I vowed) my last triathlon. I was not a happy camper to be coming in near the end. I know that the time shouldn’t have been my priority but I was bummed out. Any way that’s not the beginning.
Thanks to the encouragement of my Brick City Masterswim pals, at the beginning of this year I signed up for Jersey Girl and Iron Girl. And in the spring I began training sans the bike because I didn’t own one. I think I bought my bike in the end of May. I was so fearful of the bike that it took weeks to get on it. It’s a hybrid and lighter than the mountain bike I had borrowed. Riding is not my favorite activity by far.
So, to yesterday. The rain really caught me off guard. I had thought of all sorts of conditions but not that. It was cool, dreary and rainy for the first hour in Long Branch. Tovah (Triwomen volunteer) had run a great seminar called Transition 101 for us newbies I had packed and double checked to make sure I had everything I needed.
Fast forward to yesterday, the transition area was as I had expected. My husband had made me a flag so I could find my bike and stuff. We were also at the edge of the transition area so we could clearly see everything. The rain kept me from laying out my event items even though I had plastic bags. Just seemed to complicated. So I pulled my helmet, shirt and glasses and put them on my bike seat and covered the whole thing with plastic.
The swim was okay. Pretty strong breakers. I was so slow in the water that people kept trying to give me noodles. I was fine but called myself saving my energy for the bike. I was in the water a very long time for the distance. But lesson learned. Did I mention the water was warmer than the air temp waiting to get in?
T1 was a bit of a mess because of the rain. Everything was wet and I didn’t have time to dump my Home Depot Bucket to sit on it which was my plan. Took me a while to change shirts, and do a balancing act to put on socks and shoes.
The bike ride was an 11 mile nightmare. My new friend Nancy rescued me at about mile six and rode the rest of the way with me talking to me the whole time. I was ready to stop. That course wasn’t what I’d call flat and we were riding into the wind coming back. I had on an open jacket which was like wearing a sail I’m sure. People have suggested that I might have done better with a road bike but one, I just bought my bike and two I swear people went by me on what looked to be the old Schwin bikes I grew up on. I just needed more training rides.
T2, I couldn’t feel my legs or hands. I asked my rack mate to take my helmet off because I couldn’t feel my hands. The legs were gone but I expected that. Again a shirt change and I started my walk.
The walk was not my fastest but not bad considering I had done swim and bike already. It took 53 minutes and the first mile or so I was just getting over “brick” legs.
I was bummed when I finished and saw the time clock. Duh! That was event time not my time. Today I saw my time broken down and I didn’t feel so bad. Except for the swim, the rest was about what I expected. Now I have room for improvement. Oh yeah and as of today Iron Girl is back on. I think!
So I just read Leah’s comment to me and I do have to remember that I am not competing with those ladies that are setting their watches and running like hell into the water. I cannot promise yet that I won’t let them fluster me. In the end of April my buddies and I entered and indoor Triathlon at Montclair State University here in New Jersey. This was just for fun as far as we were concerned. I didn’t even know that the “winners” were getting prizes. So the deal was swim for 10 minutes, ride spin bikes for 30 minutes and run(in my case walk) on the treadmill for 20 minutes. Keep in mind that I swim three to four days every week.
We had to swim two in a lane. I was in the lane with Debra who is one of our teams best swimmers. When the man said go I began to swim and by mid length I had lost it. I couldn’t breathe and was convinced that I was going to swim in to Debra who was at least a half-length ahead of me. I would be embarrassed to tell you how few lengths I did in 10 minutes. The bike and treadmill were fine.
So what’s my point? Most of the Triathletes that I have met so far did one of the three sports when they signed up for the Tri. In my case swimming is my sport. That doesn’t mean I’m good but I’m consistent. So I was extremely upset when it was over and I had gotten so psyched out that I couldn’t do the one thing I am counting on in the Tri.
I must get control of the mental game to finish this thing. Some of those ladies can be pretty aggressive when they are doing their Tri’s. That coupled with open water (I am a pool swimmer) has me pretty nervous. Not to mention that I am incredibly slow in all three at this point.
At least I can swim with my age group not that there aren’t competitive, aggressive 60+ women but maybe they’ll be nicer? We’ll see won’t we. Jersey Girl Triathlon, August 3, 2014, Long Branch, New Jersey will be my first!