Wednesday, June 29, 2011


    Eleanor Roosevelt said "Do one thing every day that scares you."  Well, in that mindset, I just signed up for the Chattanooga Waterfront triathlon - which is in about 11 days.  It's an Olympic tri - 1,500 meter swim / 26 mile bike / 6.2 mile run - the longest I've every attempted.   Again, as with seemingly all of the tris I've done this year, I'm not exactly prepared.  Yes, I've been training, but my training schedule is completely geared towards the Half-Ironman at the end of September.  Anything before that is iffy in regards to my level of fitness / preparedness.  But what the heck, right?  Life is all about experiencing new things!  So off to Chattanooga I go!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Refuse to Believe These Things Work...

  It's officially summer, which is good in many respects, but not so good in regards to my local pool.  I belong to the local YMCA, which is extremely child-friendly.  That's great.  I'm all for kids leading an active, healthy life-style.
   However, what I am not a fan of is all of the swim teams / swim lessons that are now taking place during the most popular swim times for adults and therefore closing some, if not all of the lanes.  I understand why - working parents can only get there at certain times, but it still doesn't make me happy that I pay money to swim in a pool that I can't use when I want.
   But that actually is the secondary point of this post.  What REALLY gets me is that frequently I swim at the same time as an infant / toddler swim lesson.  Now I'm all for kids knowing how to swim, but you can probably see where I'm going here.  Infant / toddler = swim diapers.  Now COME ON!  I don't care how WHAT the diaper companies say - you can't tell me swim diapers work.  Nope.  Refuse to believe it.  How is this at all sanitary?  I'm not allowed to pee in the pool!  Why are what are basically super-sized, pee sponges allowed?
   I know, I know... I've heard the excuses - there is chlorine and that kills everything, urine is sterile, open water is worse, blah blah blah.  I. Don't. Care.  Plus, it's hard to think about urine being sterile when you're swimming laps next to the lessons and feel a sudden sensation of warm water (it's happened).  It TOTALLY SKEEVES me out!
   What gets me more is that we have another, larger outdoor pool at the Y that is a water park / lap pool.  Do the lessons out there!  You know other kids are already peeing in that pool!  Why contaminate both?
Am I the only one who feels this way?  Again, for the record, I'm not anti-kid and I'm FOR kids learning how to swim and knowing how to be safe in the water.  But am I asking too much for one of the pools to be a pee-free zone?  I don't think so.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mach Tenn Tri Race Recap

   On June 4th, I raced in the Mach Tenn tri - 1,000m swim / 16-mile bike/ 4-mile run.  This was, by far, the farthest swim and run I'd attempted in a race, so I was a little intimidated.  But I had signed up for the thing, and I'm too cheap to bail, so off we went to Tullahoma at 5:30am on the first day of my vacation (I know, crazy, right?).
   Upon arriving at the Arnold Air Force base, where the event was being held, I realized quickly this was unlike any of the previous tris I had raced.  Rather than being put on by a big promoter like Team Magic, this race was a put on by a local running club - Mach Tenn.  This gave the race a bit more of a home-town feel, which was awesome.  The race also leaned to the more experienced triathlete.  I want to say the Ramblin' Rose was probably 90% beginner (participating in less than three tris), while the Mach Tenn was probably only 10%.  That's strictly a guess, but judging by the bikes and athletic ability of most of the racers, I doubt I'm far off.  These guys and gals just looked FAST.  
Holland, Rae and me - all smiles before the race.

   After checking in, setting up my transition area and hooking up with my friends and follow racers Holland and Rae, we headed down to the water to await the start of the race.  My immediate thought was "WHAT am I DOING here?"  I was quite intimidated by how far 1,000 meters looks in one stretch.  Yes, I'd been swimming 1,000 meters, but that was in a 25 meter pool.  When I first saw the buoys which marked the course, I was like "I have to swim ALL THE WAY DOWN THERE?  And then SWIM BACK?"   It was definitely the scariest part of the race for me.  I'd never done an open water swim - heck - I'm hardly around open water even in a boat!  I admit, I was so scared of the swim that, while driving to the race I had a 30-second vision of Dudley having to drive back to Nashville by himself because I drowned.  Nice, huh? 
  Anyway, we headed down to the water and I had the chance to swim for about 5 minutes before the race stared.  The water was almost 82 degrees - it was like swimming in a bath.  Very weird.  The swim of this tri was like the pool-races I'd done: a time-trial start, meaning that #1 gets into the water first and then 6-seconds later #2 jumps in.  I was number 382 so I had about a 1/2 hour wait before getting into the water.  I started chatting with a few other races near me - one of them being a 10-year-old racing his first tri.  Great...I just KNEW I was going to get beat by the 10-year-old.  I also stepped on a fish spine, which HURTS for those who have never had the misfortune of doing this.  Fortunately, it didn't puncture the skin.  One point for pool swims - you don't step on fish spines.
   Slowly I made my way to the starting line.  Pretty basic set-up.  You get to the line and someone taps you on the back and says "Go."  And so I went.  It was VERY cool to hear a VERY loud "GO EAST NASTY" when I was entering the water.  I have no idea who said it, but it was several people and very loud.  I really appreciated the support because I was freaking out internally.    
The Starting Line
Me giving the East Nasty sign when getting in the water.  Note the tiny 10-year old in the background.

There I go!  No rails or pool edges to hang on to!  And definitely no black line to follow!

   My swim went MUCH better than I thought.  Well, considering survival was my main goal, I didn't have a high expectations with regards to time.  Being that it was a time-trial start, I didn't have to go through the battle for position that takes place with many open water swims.  I was thankful for that.  I did run into some traffic on the course.  I think, for the most part, it was me catching people.  It was hard to tell because I really couldn't see anything other than brown water and the occasional swim cap.  Every once in a while, I'd look up to see where the buoys were and make sure I was on course.  The only time I had trouble was after the turn-around.  My goggles had fogged a little, which was no big deal when the sun was behind me.  But after I hit the turn-around, the sun was in my eyes and glared off the water.  I could barely see 10 feet in front of me.  I just tried to follow the swimmer in front of me the best I could and prayed they knew where they were going.  Before too long though, I saw the dock where the finish line was.  I made a bee-line for the dock, but kept getting kicked or swatted by an arm all the way up to the beach.  Who was it?  The freakin' 10-year-old!!  The kid started almost a minute after me and BEAT me to the line!  But at the time, I didn't care.  I was happy to be done with the swim.
Me getting schooled by a 10-year-old

Coming out of the water

  I was happy when the bike portion started, as that's generally my strongest event and where I can gain time.  The course was great.  Rolling hills, but nothing too hard.  At this point, I was REALLY enjoying the race.  It had gone from "What am I doing here?" at the beginning of the swim to "This is awesome!"   The heat had kicked in, but between being wet from the swim and the breeze generated from the ride, I really didn't feel it.  I passed the 10-year-old almost immediately.  Eat my dust, kid!!  (BTW - I'm kidding.  I'm not taking joy in beating a 10-year-old!  He was really cute when I passed him by saying "Great job, Lady!").  Though the ride was listed as 16-miles, I actually think it was more like 16.5 as  I passed 16-mile marker somewhere on the road.  False advertising if you ask me.  I had one small mechanical issue - dropped chain - but I was able to fix it without getting off my bike so I didn't lose too much time.  

Coming in from the ride

   Of course, all good things must come to an end, as did my enjoyment of this race when the run started. By this time, it was around 95-degrees.  My clothes had dried and I don't create a breeze when I run so I got HOT.  Plus, the course was hilly.  Those rolling hills I had enjoyed so much when I was riding felt like torture when running.  And because it was an out-and-back course, I had to run them twice.  As a result, I had to walk up a couple, mainly on the way back.  While I'm not happy I had to walk, I'm OK with it.  My calves cramped up so bad going up the hills that walking was really my only option.  But I did run most of it.  It was slow, but I did it.  Again - thanks to those yelling "East Nasty" at the finish!

YAY!  The finish!  

   Overall, I enjoyed the race a lot.  Yes, the run sucked, but my runs always suck.  I'm going to start training hills in Percy Warner so, hopefully, my run times will improve.  The Mach Tenn people were very friendly and the race was very well-supported.  I was a huge fan of the ice-cold towels we received upon finishing.  There was also a great post-race party with all sorts of food not commonly found at smaller races, including hoe-cakes, pizza and beer.  I didn't partake in the beer and hoe-cakes, but the pizza and Diet Coke really hit the spot.  I'll definitely be back next year.
Mach Tenn Tri Results:
Swim: 21:22 (4th in age group)
T1: 2:37
Bike: 54:33 (6th in age group)
T2: 1:39
Run: 43:40 (9th in age group)
Total: 2:03:42 (8th in age group)

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Wetsuit Chronicles - Part I

  I'm racing the Mach Tenn tri tomorrow.  Well, "racing" is kind of exaggerating really.  I'll really more be swimming, biking and running at a leisurely pace so I don't pass out.  It's the longest tri I've ever attempted: 1,000m swim / 16 mile bike / 4 mile run.  Now I know I can do all of the distances separately, but attempting them at all at one swoop in 95 degree heat has me freaking out a smidge.  But my anxiety about the race isn't the point of this post.  That'll come later in the race recap.  No, this post is about a different type of anxiety altogether: my first experience with a wetsuit.
  You see, the Mach Tenn is open water (not in a pool) and wetsuit legal, meaning you can wear one if you choose as long as the water doesn't get above 84 degrees.  From what I have been told, wetsuits are the way to go in open water as they are very buoyant and really help improve your swim times.  Since I've never done an open water swim either while racing or in practice (not recommended), I was thinking a wetsuit would be beneficial and boost my confidence for my swim.
  Of course, that meant that I had to go get a wetsuit.  Bad news is that these things can run up to $800, but the good news is that you can rent them for $40 from Endurance if you're not ready to buy one.  So off I went to see Deanna down at Endurance and rent a wetsuit.
   Deanna was, as always, very helpful.  She found me the correct size and handed me a bottle of Suit Juice and scooted me off to the dressing room.  What is Suit Juice you might ask?  I know, sounds icky, right?  It's actually an oil that people use to help get wetsuits on.  Deanna said to put some around my ankles and wrists and the suit should just pull right up.  Yeah, right...  Have you ever tried to stuff yourself into a neoprene body suit?  Well, I now have, and it wasn't pretty.
   I did exactly what Deanna said.  I put the Suit Juice on my ankles and wrists.  It started off Ok, I guess.  I stepped into the suit and then tried to pull it up my legs.  Kicker was, you can't pull from the outside because you could damage the suit.  You have to pull from the inside.  So I'm trying to pull it up, but it kept getting caught.  It was tight, but that wasn't really the issue.  It was more like trying to put on a pair of tight jeans after just getting out of the shower.  They just don't want to go on.  That's how this suit was.  It fought me the entire way.  So now I'm working up a sweat while trying to put this thing on, which only makes it WORSE!
   After a few minutes, Deanna yells from outside the dressing room "Are you OK?  Do you need help?"  And apparently, I did.  I was at the point where I had gotten the suit over my legs, hips and front torso, but couldn't get it over my shoulders so I could zip it up in back.  Hoping that my husband and Deanna were the only two in the shop (they were), I sheepishly came out of the dressing room looking for assistance.  The suit was all the way up in the front, which hunched my shoulders forward.  Because I couldn't get my arms all the way in, the suit extended down past my fingers.  I kind of waddled out out like a penguin.  I knew I had to look ridiculous, but whatever - I needed help!  Deanna AND my husband jumped into action to help me get zipped up the rest of the way.  Deanna commented that she'd never seen anyone have so much trouble with a wetsuit before, especially since it was the right size.  Figures.  I'm a freak.      
  So we finally get the dang thing on and it fit fine.  It's a weird feeling having a wetsuit on because you FEEL like you shouldn't be able to move, yet I was completely mobile.  I could spin my arms in complete circles just like I was swimming with no problem.  Great.  Moving on.  I headed back to the dressing room to take the thing off, which fortunately only took about 5 seconds.  Which is good, because I would NEVER use one racing otherwise.
  About 10 minutes later we were out the door with my rented wetsuit and a bottle of Suit Juice.  Deanna said that the bottle should last a really long time.  After my first experience though, I have a feeling I'll be bathing in it prior to putting on that suit again.
  What's ironic about the whole experience is that since renting the suit, Nashville has had a string of 95+ degree days, so the water temperature at the race will probably be too warm to use it.  The water was in the 80's earlier this week, which is more than warm enough to ditch the suit.  Oh well.  Maybe I'll just take it to the Y tonight just to get my rental money out of it.  :-)