Monday, February 18, 2008

Wetsuit Virgin

Today Mojojoey and I set out to do a 10K ocean swim. Basically 6, laps around the Flip Flop Pier. We only made it around 3 times. Mojojoey crashed on her brand new super fast triathlon bike, and hurt her shoulder a few weekends ago, and has not been in the water for a while, and this was her way of making up lost yards for Can-Do February. Honestly, when I woke up this morning, a 10K swim didn't sound all that great. Once we were there, though, I was really enjoying the water. It was fun just being out there splashing around, and not racing or looking at a clock.

So, you might ask, how did I manage to not freeze to death swimming in the ocean in the middle of February? Oh, you know, it was only 52 degrees, no big deal for a burly open water swimmer like myself. Lynn Cox aint got nothing on me. Ok, I'll admit it. I wore a wetsuit. Mojojoey lent me a wetsuit she bought off of Ebay.

This is a big deal to me in a way that people who aren't open water swimmers might not understand. It seems a little counterintuitive. I mean, Ultra-M wears wetsuits when she does triathlons, and she has more open water swimming creds than I do. Coach and tons of other triathletes on M.M. are much better swimmers than I am, and they wear wetsuits.

My first love is open water swimming. I hated competitive age group swimming as a kid, but I was forced to do it by my parents. Open water swimming changed all that. I loved the feel of the open water, and the feeling of accomplishment of crossing a lake, or swimming the length of a pier or bridge. It didn't matter much to me even if I got last place. I still felt happy just to finish.

I have never, ever thought of triathletes as lesser athletes than open water swimmers. On the contrary, I've always been impressed by people who did something I figured I couldn't. But many triathletes don't love the open water in the same way I do. The swim, for many, is the least favorite part of the triathlon. So if I'm out swimming in the ocean in the summer, and I see a group of people in wetsuits, I didn't instantly feel a sense of camaraderie with them. If someone is out there without a wetsuit, it means they are there for the same reason as I am, out of love, not just to get something out of the way. Someone with a wetsuit might love the ocean just as much as I do, but it isn't an instant sign of a common love like seeing someone out there without one.

There's a little more to it, perhaps a bit of snobbery, not just a feeling of camaraderie. My cold tolerance is my only natural talent related to my chosen sport, so as goofy as it might seem, it's hard not to take a little pride in that. Open water swimmers also tend to think that a wetsuit is a flotation device, and hence it isn't real swimming if you're aided in that way. I like that swimming is largely just about you and the water. You don't need any expensive equipment to do it. Just some goggles, a cap, and a suit. I know triathlons are simply a different sport, and wetsuits make a lot of sense in that context, but I still wouldn't want open water swimming to change to allow wetsuits. It really isn't about cold tolerance as much it is about simplicity.

I'm probably making a bigger deal of this than I need to. My heart isn't broken. I don't feel like I've crossed a line that should never be crossed. Just some thoughts running through my mind. I bought the wetsuit from Mojojoey at a bargain price, mainly so I wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb at Wildflower this year.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Training Accomplishments for the Week

OK, this may seem like bragging. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But I'm probably the slowest person on my tri team, so I felt I need some documentation of my progress to keep my spirits up.

- Went up Old La Honda 5-6 minutes faster than last time (only 4 weeks ago.)
- Did a 4 hour ride, and biked 10% farther than last time I did it (also 4 weeks ago.)
- Have learned how to drink from my water bottle without drama.
- Have learned to eat while riding, although it still slows me down quite a bit. (But have also learned the slow down is worth not bonking.)
- Biked 3 days in one week for the first time.
- Did a 6 mile training run on pavement with little pain, and maintained a pace faster than my other training runs (although not nearly as fast as my race pace, still.)

Yay!!! I actually don't feel those exclamation points so much. It's kind of funny. I remember back to a few years ago, after I ran my first 10K or did my first open water swim. It was such a big deal, I think I felt like I could take a day to celebrate, or not necessarily feel like getting out and training the very next day. Now it's more like, "Cool. What's next?" I still have to come back to the real world, get my household chores done, go to work, and get back on my training schedule.

Friday, February 08, 2008


On her blog, my sister-in-law Rose describes my brother Elwood: "His two main emotions are mellow and pleasantly surprised." I used to think my brother and I were a lot a like. We're both very shy people, and have or had similar tastes in movies and such. I told Raybon about how Rose described Elwood, and said jokingly "That's just like me, huh?" Raybon disagreed. I asked him to characterize me in a word (mellow not being the right one), and he said "Restless." When I think about it, that is a pretty good characterization of me. I'm not sure it is the word that defines me best, but it probably best describes the difference between Raybon and I.

He is comfortable just being.
I feel like I have to be doing something. If I'm resting, if is strategically recovering for doing something later. If I'm just sitting around, I get depressed.

He likes everyone.
I don't like everyone. I sort of want to, but I go through moods where I think "Everyone pretty much sucks." I realize this is because I am insecure. If anyone shows me the slightest amount of disrespect, I think they are useless A-holes.

He doesn't watch a Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy and think "This is f--king stupid."
I watch J-Lo movies and think "This is f--king stupid."

He thinks he is perfectly normal and is happy with himself.
I feel like I need someone to "save me from the ranks of the freaks who suspect they can never love anyone."

On the Other Foot

So, now that I've decided not to swim 100,000 yards, I've becoming the type of person that annoyed me last year when I did 100,000. I say bitchy things like "I can't compete with retired people." I'm tempted to snicker when someone makes a comment about all the Type-A personalities in M.M. But you know what? At least I realize that I shouldn't say these things, and deep down, I'm just jealous, because they get to swim more than I do. I'm still a sucker for awards, so I better make myself clap for all the people who get the 100,000 yard award, despite my total jealousy.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Backing Off

Before I signed up for Hawaii 70.3, I wrote a letter to myself. I think I need a reminder. For some reason, I remember things better if I post them on my blog, so I'm posting this here:

I think my two biggest challenges in getting my mind in the right place are:

1) Understanding what it means to be committed and not be obsessed
2) Letting go of my expectations and being open to the joy, character building, and challenges I may be confronted with.

I think before I start training I need to make a list of the things that are more important to me than doing this race:

· Not being constantly exhausted
· Coming out of this physically stronger, not weaker
· Not injuring myself
· Having enough energy for those around me
· Keeping an interest in enough things outside of the sport that I’m able to be engaged when talking to people who aren’t involved.
· Keeping my house neat
· Taking the time to eat healthily
· Working enough hours per week

I'm failing on not being obsessed. This may have less to do with the triathlon though, and more about me not letting go of focusing on swimming. It is Can-Do February at M.M., where we donate a can for every 2000 yards we swim, and get prizes at the 50,000 yard level and 100,000 yard level. Last year I did over 108,000 yards, putting me in the top 10.

I'm a slow runner and a very slow cyclist compared to most people on T.S. I'm a faster swimmer than many of the people who are much better runners and cyclists, though. I'm not a great swimmer, but I'm at least pretty good. (I'm not even a bad runner, actually. I placed in my 10K about like I place in some swims. I'm just slow compared to almost everyone else on T.S.) It's tempting to go back to what I find easiest. But honestly, running that 10K offered more immediate emotional gratification than any of the swims I did last year. I was happy to finish, and surprised by my results.

So... I'm letting it go. I won't swim 100,000 yards this month. I'm exhausted. My house is a mess. My eating habits have slipped. I'm not keeping up other interests. I don't have enough energy for those around me. I decided to try to swim 25,000 yards this week and see if I can hack it, but I can't. There's part of me that finds my Type-A personality amusing, but it really is making me miserable.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Superbowl 10K

Ran a 10K this morning.

Time: 58 minutes and, I don't know, 12 seconds?

I've been running 12-14 minute miles when training lately, so I was pretty surprised that I was able to average about 9 minute 20 second miles. I even started at the very back of the pack and had to stop and tie my shoe laces twice, so I would have probably been a teeny bit faster otherwise. I even had enough left at the end to sprint.

I found my H.R. Max is at least 10% higher than I thought it was, which I just based on 220 - my age. I had planned on going about 95% of my H.R. Max, but then about mile 1, a girl I know from F.F. Masters caught up to me, and I started doing about 103% while we chatted and pushed each other along. I sprinted at the end, and reached 110% of what I thought my H.R. Max was.


- Maybe I need to step up my training pace a teeny bit. Running 14 minutes miles while training when I'm a 9.5 minute miler is probably pretty lame.

- Racing occasionally is good for me. It gives me a more accurate assessment of what I'm capable of.

- I'm faster than I thought I was. My first 10K in 2004, I think took me about an hour or so, although I can't quite remember. The second one, which was hillier than this one, took me about 55 minutes. I've lamented for a while about being soooo much slower than I used to be, but considering I have been training very softly, I'm not doing too badly.

- I have the H.R. Max of a 13 year old. Yay! Take that, IronMan body fat monitoring scale that says my biological age is about 30.

- I like being an underdog. :) Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I don't know.