We arrived early to get set-up and fortunately the dark sky didn't open up on us with any rain during the race.
In late April I set my mind on doing my first triathlon. My sister and her husband had moved to upstate New York last fall and her husband signed up for the Cazenovia Sprint Triathlon which was August 9th. I thought signing up as well would be a great way to tie in a visit to their new home and I was eager to mix up my running with cross-training for a tri. After months of swimming, biking, running, searching for the best thing to wear, practicing transitions, and mentally preparing to do a triathlon it was finally time to put all that work to the test.
The days leading up to the tri I tapered my training and kept my meals consistent with what I’d been used to eating. The day before the race I had three square meals with slightly more carbs in each than I would normally have, a race routine I’m used to. We all (myself, my husband, and my brother-in-law) went to bed at a reasonable hour with a 5:45 a.m. alarm set. As happens before any race, I woke up several times to make sure I didn’t miss the alarm and at 5:30 I was ready to get going. Continue reading →
My first open water swim that I would consider as part of my triathlon training was in crystal clear waters in a protected swim area in Jamaica. The second two have been off the beach at Chesapeake Bay Foundation and I hope there are at least two more open water swim practices in my future before the day of the triathlon. Though the tropical conditions of the Jamaica water with colorful fish I could see below me and a high level of salinity helping to keep me afloat and the brackish dark water of Chesapeake Bay are drastically different, they do have one thing in common–there is no perfectly straight black line along the bottom to guide you.
Within the enclosed swim area in Jamaica my goal was to practice the drills for that session, sprints and threshold swims. I had marked off the distance and knew about how many “laps” I would have to do to complete the drills for that day’s training session. The plan was to swim to the rope at the far end of the area, turn around, and swim back to the beach as many times as necessary. No sooner did I start off to my target end of the rope than I was headed diagonally toward a different area entirely. Where I ended up is not at all where I had planned to be. Part of the training for that day then became practicing swimming in a straight line when there was no black line on the bottom to follow. Continue reading →
Recently I wrote about the process of buying a new road bike. At the time I had tons of questions. My husband and I were buying road bikes together and it turned out that his bike was delivered to the store a week before mine. I watched as he got an orientation to his bike, was shown how the gears worked (very different than I’d ever seen), did a test ride around the parking lot, and talked through the various carbon components with the Bike Doctor’s bike expert. I tried to pay close attention knowing I would be doing the same thing soon enough.
Originally the Cannondale Synapse bike I ordered was to have an aluminum frame but nowhere could the Bike Doctor find one in my size. I was upgraded to a carbon frame on a 9-speed bike rather than a 10-speed bike with the rest of the components being essentially the same. The bike I’ve been training on so far is a 9-speed so while I understand there are certain advantages to having just two big gears, I was comfortable knowing my new bike would have a set-up I’m familiar with. Finally, my Cannondale Synapse Feminine 6 arrived and I went to the store to meet her (yep, I refer to my bike as a female and am working on names now!). Continue reading →
Our taking off point for the first open water swim practice. Photo by james_shelton32.
I am sure that some people who train for triathlons go into the race without having ever done an open water swim. Perhaps they live in a landlocked area and have no access to open water in which to practice. More power to them for taking the plunge for the first time at the race! I feel very fortunate to have the Chesapeake Bay at my fingertips because I cannot imagine going into my first triathlon without having practiced open water swimming.
My husband and I met our friend at the beach of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (she also works there which is a nice inside connection!) for an open water swim practice. My husband swam competitively all through childhood and in high school and has one triathlon under his belt, so there was not much mystery in this swim for him. My friend has done several triathlons and was excited to be getting back into the water. At the pool, I’ve been working on my form, my stroke, my pace, and also breathing drills to prepare for open water and in the pool I have been steadily improving and feel good about my swimming skills. My only concern standing on the beach was that I would get cold. Continue reading →
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason; whether I agree with the reason or not is something else entirely. For months now I have been training for the bike portion of my triathlon in a combination of ways. I started out in spin class at the gym until it warmed up enough this spring for me to bike outside. (Mind you, I ran outside all winter but biking in cool weather I find to be much more chilling, so I stayed indoors until the temperatures suited me.) I also worked the stationary bike into a number of work-outs mostly because I found it easier to do a controlled hill work-out on the stationary bike. Though I’ve been riding my mountain bike for my outdoor rides, I never planned to ride it in the actual race.
For the race, my plan has long been to borrow someone else’s road bike. As luck would have it, a friend of my parents who is about my size offered her road bike to me for the triathlon. Wanting to get some practice time in on the bike I happily picked it up and accompanied my husband to our local Bike Doctor where he was going to buy a new bike and I was going to have the borrowed bike adjusted to fit me.
Almost from the day I signed up for the race my husband has encouraged me to just buy a proper road bike. My preference has been to make sure I like triathlons before making a purchase. I sat on the hardly ridden, borrowed Trek bike in the store and an associate came over and immediately (but nicely) squashed any thoughts I had of riding that bike. It is a size 54 and I was identified as a size 51. The seat is too far back and too angled down for me and the handlebars are too far away. I attempted the conversation of things we could do to make the bike work for me but with my husband and two associates pleading the case for why I should have my own bike, I finally caved. Buying a bike was not what I had planned for the day, but I guess that is what was supposed to happen. Let’s just hope I love triathlons! Continue reading →
It’s been a couple months now that I have been swimming consistently as part of the training for my first triathlons (one in August and one in September). Before I hopped in the pool for that first session it had been many years, since middle school swim team, that I swam consistently. I knew that it would take plenty of time in the pool and lots of practice before my stroke and form resembled even what it looked like in the 7th grade let alone what it should look like for a triathlete.
Over the weeks, swimming has gotten progressively better, definitely more enjoyable, and I am more confident in my ability to swim and breath correctly. This is in part due to practice. However, I definitely credit my progress to a few other important factors. One of them is talking about it. Any chance I have to talk to another swimmer or triathlete, I do and I ask questions. I tweet about it, sharing what I’ve done and inquiring what others are working on, and I always learn something new. I haunt the blogs of other swimmers and triathletes picking up on what has worked for them and I try to absorb as much information as possible.
The other factor I credit for improving my swimming skills is a website that I visit often but that I still have much to learn from: goswim.tv. Continue reading →
Overlooking Sunset Cove where we spent much time on the active "Sports Beach" and did an open water swim.
I was on a roll. Swim, bike, run, swim, bike, run, write about it, tweet about it, three square meals, healthy snack choices…a few weeks ago I was doing great. Mentally I’d been preparing for quite some time for the full week vacation I would have in Jamaica in order to be at my best friend’s destination wedding. I pre-wrote my blogs and set them to post. I researched the gym and swimming facilities at our all-inclusive resort. Packed my running shoes, goggles, swim cap, and training schedule for the week.
By the time we got to our resort in Jamaica (the flight was a piece of cake on Air Jamaica for what it’s worth) I was completely relaxed. It really didn’t take long for vacation mode to kick in; it was an all-inclusive resort after all. The first morning I dutifully went to the gym and used a stationary bike to get in the 45 minutes of hill intervals my schedule called for. I even did my 10 minute transition run jogging around the resort and through the outdoor dining area where folks in our group sipped on coffee as I went by and the smell of omelettes and baked goods lingered behind me.
Day two I dragged my husband with me for some open water swimming. The resort did have a pool that would have sufficed for the various laps and drills I’d written down from the schedule but it seemed too good of an opportunity to get in my first open water swim. Goggles in hand we went down to one of the many beaches and eyeballed our swim route. We freestyled our way overtop beautiful reefs and tropical fish to a marked swim area that we estimated to be 40 yards in length. In this area I did the required sprints and threshold swims and then just practiced trying to swim in a straight line. I will write more about this open water swim experience later for sure.
For many of us who are dog owners, there is no question about the motivation a dog can provide to get you out of your seat and out for a run. They need exercise just as much as we do. But what if you’re really not a runner, never were, and never plan to be? But your dog is, or easily could be. I was discussing this exact scenario with a girlfriend of mine who is queen of the elliptical machine at her gym and a proud new puppy owner.
As a dog owner, she is well aware of the dog’s need for exercise and walks him regularly, but the walks don’t do for her what her regular gym routine used to do. It’s been weeks since she’s been in the air conditioned gym, bobbing along to her iPod, and sweating it out on the elliptical. While she wouldn’t trade her new pup for the world, something about dog walks that involve lots of stops for training and ‘doing business’ just isn’t cutting it for her own exercise.
This long Memorial weekend was a reminder to me of a phrase I have let slip from my vocabulary–all in moderation. I went into the three day weekend with a long list of things that I wanted to do: garden, bike, go boating, hike, kayak, play beach volleyball, lay by the pool, cook-out, read, play with the dog, relax. Somehow I managed to get them all in, but only one of those activities is on my triathlon training schedule and hardly any of them involved healthful eating or drinking.
There is something about a long weekend, sunny, summery days, and an abundance of social gatherings that toss all training discipline and focus out the window. It’s so easy to enjoy snacking all day long when you’re on a boat or a beach and when the sun is setting but everyone is still laughing and talking, having one more drink seems to be part of the fun. By the end of the long weekend, you end up consuming more than you would on any normal day and your body is sunburned and exhausted from playing non-stop. At least that’s how I feel. Continue reading →
This spring I volunteered as one of three assistant coaches at Windsor Farm Elementary in Arnold, MD, for Girls on the Run. Every Tuesday and Thursday 15 third through fifth grade girls plus the coaches would meet to talk about life, confidence, making healthy choices, family, friendship, trust, self-respect, and a host of other topics designed to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual, and physical development. In short, the program teaches girls how to avoid getting stuck in “the girl box” all while training for a 5K.
Each class day had a lesson paired with a running activity in which we practiced proper form, pace, breathing, and the basics of running. When I think about the types of games and relays we played we were actually doing the type of running you’d see on any training schedule–sprints, hills, tempo runs, and race pace. Even the day we played sharks and minnows had a lesson of teamwork in it and certainly some sprinting involved! Continue reading →