Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shoes Required

My tri team had a practice triathlon scheduled for last Saturday morning. We were going to go through all of the motions, including transitions. The coach opted to have us meet at a lake just south of town instead of the lake we did our open water swims at last year. The traffic near that park has steadily increased over the last couple years, making it not as safe once we head out on the bikes...such a shame. :(

We would have to leave the house around 7 am so I had all of my gear (minus the bike) laid out the night before. Triathlons definitely need a lot more gear compared to the marathon.

I have a bag that is always at the ready just for my bike crap....
Cycle Shoes
And then I toss in my Shot Blocs, sunglasses and cell phone

Then I had my swim/run bag...
Swim cap
2 pairs of goggles (One clear pair, one tinted pair)
Socks (for both cycle and run)
An extra pair of running shorts (you never know)
Fuel Belt and 2 bottles of water for the run

I also have a bag that has my wetsuit. All of the bags were hanging from the back of a kitchen chair. My running shoes were by the door and the bikes were in the shed. All of that (including The Pilot's cycle gear as he was coming along) needed to go into the car in the morning. You can probably figure out where this is going.

We left the house right on schedule and headed towards the lake. About 1/2 way there a image flashed in my brain. The wet suit hanging from the kitchen chair. I glanced in my rear view mirror. No wet suit bag. I told The Pilot to look in the back. Definitely no wet suit. Dang it! That water was going to be freezing! It was also overcast and only about 65 degrees at 7:30 am. Oh well. There wasn't enough time to go back for the wetsuit. I'd either have to suck it up and be cold...or just not swim (ugh).

We kept driving. I swear, I'm starting sound like a crazy person....but I had another image flash in my mind. My $@#% running shoes were still sitting by the front door. I felt like I was rolling with the punches when I realized the wet suit was still at home but when I realized that my running shoes weren't in the car, I was just frustrated.

I'm known for being extremely prepared for events. Didn't get safety pins with your race packet to pin your race bib to your shirt? Amber's got extra! Need toenail clippers the night before a race? Amber's got 'em? Need pink duct tape and a Sharpie? Ask Amber. Need a bike tool to fix that pedal? Yup, Amber's got it in her bag. Need some sunshine blown up your backside at mile 16 of a marathon? Amber's usually got it for ya!

So as a strong, organized type-A, forgetting stuff drives me nuts! It made me realize that with one month until the wedding and things starting to pick up at work on top of training and coaching with TNT, I just can't keep it all straight right now. I have lists within lists but there are just so many details floating around in my head, I'm starting to drop things. Ugh.

But moving on...we approached the lake and I tried to let it go. I would just do a swim/bike brick workout and try to get in a bike to run brick later in the weekend. Our coach was running a few minutes late so the others started to get their wet suits on while The Pilot and I walked down to the beach to test out the water. Yup...it was cold. A teammate mentioned that the news reported the lake water to be 75. That doesn't sound that cold but it sure felt cold! Our coach arrived and he mentioned he had forgotten his wet suit as well. Two of us that have done this before and we are the two that show up unprepared. Classic.

We headed to the beach and the coach mentioned he was going to have the team do 2 starts (run into the water as a group twice, as if it was a race) but because he didn't have a wet suit, he was only going to run in once and suggested I might want to do the same. Once in the water, you would NOT want to get back out, especially since at the time, the air temp was colder than the water temp.

I waited on the beach until the team ran in for the second time. This was my first open water swim since the race last July...not ideal. After a not-so-graceful entry (I cannot seem to figure out the dolphin kicks as you transition from running into the water and then getting out to water deep enough to get a full arm stoke), the open water swim didn't go too bad. I'm the slowest swimmer on the team and not having a wet suit just slowed me down even more. Despite my lack of speed, I was able to get my breathing under control and once my heart rate settled down after the run into the water, it started to feel like I can just keep swimming for a really long time. I sometimes struggle to find my focus and get distracted by waves, boats, other swimmers, shiny objects but once I get in a zone, I just keep going. Again, I think this ability to zone out and keep going is why I am built for slow, long distances....or something like that.

There we go....and that's our coach in the orange swim cap....stopping to make sure I'm still afloat. :) Sloooooow and steady.

Sometimes it gets under my skin that I'm slow and I do wish that I could just miraculously speed up and keep up with the group. But after years of coaching and racing, I know that everyone is built for different paces. You can certainty improve your pace but that takes a lot of long, hard work and sometimes, you really do reach your peak performance...and you aren't going to get much faster. I think I am almost at that point with my race walking but I still have a LOT of room for improvement in the triathlon disciplines.

Oh, shiny....back to the lake. After about 3/4 of a mile in the open water, we headed out of the water and up to the cars to get our bikes. Holy shivering! It was so cold when I got out of the water. I tried to dry off quickly and keep moving around but it was still really chilly! I was wearing tri clothes (designed to go from the water to the bike and to the run) so I didn't bring anything else to change into for the bike. I did have a cotton t-shirt with me that I opted to put on over my tri top because now I was wet and about to get on the bike and would be creating a breeze on top of the light wind that was going on.

The coach had warned us that there were hills out on the bike course. As much as I hate hills, I knew that I needed the practice because the race course is really hilly. I was pretty tired from the swim but I was ready to tackle the hills.... Until I got to the first hill. I didn't change my gears quickly enough and I got stuck in too hard of a gear. I had too much weight on my chain and I just couldn't keep pedaling. I had to get off the bike and push it up the hill. That's the first time I've ever had to do that. :( I really think this set the tone for the rest of the ~17 mile ride. It was such a frustrating ride that I don't even want to re-live it on here. I'll just say that tears, hyperventilating, choice words with The Pilot and another walk up a hill were all involved. At least it was a quiet, wide open course. Even though there isn't much to look at, sometimes its kind of nice to be out in the WIIIIIIDE open, especially when you live in the suburbs.

The best part of the ride was the last 1/4 mile....my teammates were all well ahead of me (naturally) and were out on their run. They were running up on the dam, which was overhead, just to my right as I headed back into the parking lot. Several of them cheered for me and after a crappy ride, that was just what I needed to hear. If I haven't said it enough on this blog, I LOVE TEAM IN TRAINING!! When it gets really hard, your teammates are right there with you....even if you are the last one in.

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