Monday, June 16, 2014

Catfish Open Water Swim

I did the Catfish Open Water Swim event on Saturday.  This is a local swim race that has been going on for years.  They offer a 500 yard, a 1.2 mile, and a 2.4 mile race.  Since I'm in no way ready to swim a mile in open water, I went for the 500 yard event.

The race is usually held at Chesbro Reservoir but due to the drought it was moved to Quarry Lakes this year.  This actually worked out well for me since I live much closer to Quarry Lakes and I was able to get in a practice swim there a few weeks ago.

There isn't much to say about it.  Show up.  Pick up your packet.  And then swim!  So I'll give you the details in pictures.

I might have been the first person to arrive.  They didn't even have our timing chips yet.

"We have to swim to that first buoy, then turn around." That's me in the sleeveless wetsuit.
Swim in and run through the finish line.
And done!
My favorite race shirt ever!
Next up - See Jane Run Triathlon in September.  I may have to find another event to do between now and then!  Maybe I'll sign up for an Aquabike to keep me motivated.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mermaid Alameda Triathlon Race Report

How can such a short race have such a long race report?

I finally got to do my first triathlon of the year.  It's hard to believe this was only my 5th triathlon ever.  I'm starting to feel like an old pro at this.

One of the things I love about this race is that you can pick up your packet and rack your bike on Saturday.  I got there right at 11:00 am as transition opened and got my favorite spot - on the inside end of the row.

Sunday morning started with the usual feeling when the alarm goes off at o'dark thirty.  What am I doing this, again?  But I got myself together and pulled into the parking lot right next to transition by 6:00.  Transition was split up by age groups, but since Meredith and & both got there early on Saturday we were only two rows apart.  I got my gear set up and hit the porta potty (for the first time), and still had over an hour to kill.

Every time I do this, I bring less and less stuff with me.  Learning!

We did the usual picture taking and wandering down to the water to check things out.  I was very happy with how calm things were.

The usual pre-race photo with my best race buddy

The water was much calmer than last year.

After hanging out staring at the bay and a couple more trips to the porta potty, it was time to head down to the start.

The Pre-Swim

I was lined up on the ramp to get into the water when suddenly there was a commotion out by the start buoy.  A couple of ladies in my wave were calling for help - I could see that they were holding up another swimmer.  Suddenly the race director was climbing down the rocks yelling to the crew, one of the guys helping us down off the ramp into the water dove in and started swimming towards them, while a lifeguard on a surfboard started paddling towards them.  Of course, I stared out there waiting to see the big pool of blood because in my mind only one thing could have happened - someone got bit by a shark.  Thankfully that was not the case.  I never did find out what happened, but they let those of us on the ramp get in and swim to the start while they tended to her.  I hope it was nothing serious.  But needless to say, it was not at all comforting for this to happen as I was getting ready to get into the water.

The Swim

I had only one goal going into this race, and it was to beat my swim time from last year.  I knew my run would be slower since I planned to walk it this year, and my bike workouts have been hit or miss.  But I really wanted to prove to myself that I really was a stronger swimmer than last year.

I lined up towards the back and on the right.  The swim was a straight line with the buoys on our left, then a final left turn to the ramp out.  I managed to calm my nerves before the start and when they sent us out, I was ready to swim.  I focused on just counting strokes and breathing.  Occasionally I'd have to stop for a second to sight - still haven't mastered that skill yet! - but when I stopped, I was always happy with how much closer to the next buoy I was.  I felt like I was making progress.  I managed to pass a few people and am very happy to say that nobody from the wave starting 10 minutes after mine managed to catch me like last year!

Swim time 2014:  15:51 
Swim time 2013: 17:43

Transition 1

When I got pulled out of the swim onto the ramp, I had a hard time walking.  I felt like I was drunk and honestly could not walk a straight line.  I had this same problem at this race last year - something about swimming in the bay vs. a lake.  I'll need to figure this out.  But this dizziness made standing up and while trying to put on my socks quite a challenge!  I was very grateful that I decided to pick an inside transition spot next to the fence because I had to grab it to keep from falling over.

T1 2014: 3:39
T1 2013: 4:28

The Bike

I started the bike not feeling my best and that continued throughout almost the entire ride.  By the time I got out of transition the drunken feeling had passed but my legs were nowhere to be found.  I spent the first few miles alternating thinking, "My legs are dead" and, "Damn, this road is bumpy!"  I tried to get some chews in me and drank when I could, but neither thing tasted good to me.  Honestly, this bike ride was a pure sufferfest for me and I was honestly shocked that I beat last year's time.

Bike 2014: 52:32
Bike 2013: 55:02

Transition 2

I got back to transition and was followed in by Meredith - whose wave started 10 minutes after mine.  Go Meredith!  I was so happy to be able to rack my bike and get on with the run - or walk, in my case.

T2 2014: 1:28
T2 2013: 2:10

The Run (or Walk)

I grabbed two cups of water on my way out of transition, and I suddenly realized that as bad as I felt on the bike, I felt equally as great now.  In fact, I realized that my hip did not hurt AT.ALL so why not try a little running.  I decided that I'd run and count to 20, and it felt good.  So I spent the run leg walking until I felt like running, then running for a 20 count.  All was going well.  I felt great.  It was a beautiful day.  Life was good.  And then suddenly I was falling.  I felt like I was in slow motion.  I tried to catch my balance and thought I had it, but gravity took over and I was on the ground.  THUNK!  I had tripped over an uneven crack in the path, and down I went.  I had road rash on my palm, my knee, my right arm, and my pinky finger was dripping blood.  But most concerning was that I had hit my head on the pavement.  Two women who were walking behind me saw me go down and came to help me.  I sat there for a minute just stunned, but really I was making sure that nothing was broken and that my head was OK.  These two women were amazing.  They helped me up, brushed me off, and I walked with them for a few minutes until we passed the turn and I was sure that I was OK.  When I realized that I surprisingly felt fine, I thanked them for probably the 20th time and told them that I was going to take off.  So back to my 20 count running/walking intervals I went.  Even with the time lost from the fall and walking most of the run, I realized that I still had a chance to beat my overall time from last year.

I think I was less than a mile from the finish when I saw Coach Stephanie of the Go WOW team out for her Sunday run with the group.  She gave me a huge hug which gave me even more of a boost to bring it home strong.

Run 2014:  38:48
Run 2013: 37:16

Sprinting towards the finish
(Photo courtesy of Meredith, my official race photographer!)

Even with the sufferfest on the bike and falling and cracking my head on the ground, it was a great race.  I shaved time off all disciplines except the run - and if I didn't fall I would have beaten that time, too.

Finish time 2014:  1:52:18
Finish time 2013:  1:56:39

Monday, June 2, 2014

Nerves...and Not of Steel

Six days until my first triathlon of the season and the nerves have already set in.  It's not the thought of doing a triathlon that scares me.  It's the swim in the bay.

I've got a number of open water swims under my belt at this point and for whatever reason, I just can't make swimming easily in the pool translate to swimming easily in open water.

I met up with a group yesterday for some more open water swim practice, and it went relatively well.  But it seems to take me so much longer in open water to get warmed up and find my groove.  And with a swim that's only 400 yards, I may never find that comfortable place.  I seem to do much better in lakes than in the bay, and I'm sure it's because I'm not afraid of being eaten alive by sea creatures.

I saw this quote this morning and it really struck a cord with me.

"Don't be afraid of your fears.  They're not there to scare you.  They're there to let you know something is worth it." - C. JoyBell C.

When I was swimming in the lake yesterday, struggling at the start, I actually had thoughts of not doing this triathlon or the Catfish swim.  I was mentally beating myself up for not joining masters like I said I would.  I was wishing I could run so I could switch from the triathlon to the duathlon.  

But I kept on swimming and eventually found my groove.  And I'll be there in the bay on Sunday morning to face my fears.