Mini Mighty Man Triathlon Recap

Race day was here and the moment of truth was upon me. I knew I was supposed to eat breakfast to fuel the tank but I was just too nervous. So I just swigged some Gatorade, but not too much since I was wearing a onesy a/k/a one piece tri suit. I packed everything the night before and since my bike didn’t fit into my backpack, I just kept obsessing that I was going to forget to take my bike to the race. I rocked out to Israel Houghton’s “Everywhere That I Go” the entire way the race site. The song got me amped.

As it happens, I remembered the bike and arrived at the transition area, where I had to rack my bike and set up everything I would need during the race. For some reason, I thought there would be more room for my stuff. I had: two towels, one for my feet and the other for my body; my running shoes and socks; my helmet, sunglasses, bandana and hat. I had to carve out little space to place my items next to my bike. I went to pick up my timing chip that gets strapped to the ankle and proceeded to get my body marked. Yes, fun. I had to get my race number scrawled on my left arm and calf and my age on my right calf. Good times. I realized I was starving and one of my teammates gave me a tangerine. Thanks V. Then it was time to strip down to my swimwear. More fun. It was fahreezing out there. It couldn’t have been more than 38 degrees. I decided to keep my running capris on until we went inside to the pool.

Ah, the pool or The Beast as I prefer to call it. I’ve seen it and I’ve been in it but it was still intimidating.

The Beast

We had to seed ourselves so that the fastest swimmers could go first. I promptly found my rightful place at the back of the line. We entered the pool one after the other in five second intervals. Since I was at the back, I got to watch a whole lot of swimming. We had to swim eight lengths of the 50 meter pool. After each length you were required to snake into the next lane until you completed 400 meters. I was mesmerized by the swimmers who were flipping into the other lane. It looked really cool. Before I knew it, the guy in front of me was jumping in the pool. Yikes. That meant that in 5 seconds I would be swimming.

I got my swim started and soon realized that the few people that got in behind me had all passed me. I wasn’t really bothered by it, I was just relieved that they managed to pass me without episode. I briefly felt a hand on my foot only once. After the second length, I ducked into the next lane and saw a guy up against the wall. He looked at me and said, “I’m crapped out.” I told him he wasn’t and he just needed to rest for a moment and take his time. Check me out encouraging others. Well, I took my own advice and managed to complete my 400 meter swim, but not without help from Coach Jackie, who I thought was poolside because I could hear her so clearly coaching me. Turns out she was up in the stands. That was some awesomeness right there. As I was finishing, I notice that I didn’t see the “crapped out” guy. It looked like I was the last person in the pool.

The next thing I knew, I was running into the great outdoors to get my bike. Coach was right by my side, which was great because I was so disoriented after being in the pool so long that I couldn’t figure out where I was supposed to be going. There must have been some serious adrenaline pumping though because I was running bare feet over some crusty cold dirt and grass and didn’t even care. My bike was going to be easy to find because everyone else had taken theirs to do their 6 miles … WRONG. Turns out that my swim was so slow that the bike racks were full because almost everyone had already finished their biking leg, re-racked their bikes and were already running. Panic set in. Now I couldn’t find one of my shoes and my helmet wouldn’t fasten. I grabbed my jacket but couldn’t figure out how to put it on. I heard Coach yell, “You don’t need it” and so off I went in my onesy.

TRANSITION AREA

The above picture does not depict our transition area but provides an idea of what ours  looked like.

After getting on my bike I realized that I wasn’t in the mood to ride it at all. I just wanted to take a nap. How was I going to ride three loops of the bike course? As I was chugging along on the bike a 59 year old woman with a smiley face drawn under her age zoomed passed me. For a fleeting moment my pride told me not to go out like that but the moment passed really fast. Later for you lady, I’m just trying to survive this thing. After a while I passed two women who looked like they were just tooling around on their bikes and conversing about Dancing With The Stars or something. I was feeling good about myself until they passed me on the second loop. Whatever. I finally got done with the bike ride and had to go to back to transition to rack my bike and prepare to run.

Oh the run!!! It was the longest two miles known to mankind. I thought it would never end. Thankfully, Coach Jackie appeared and ran with me for a while. She told me I was running fast but I felt like I was running backwards, my legs were so heavy. I kept going and actually started to pass some people because many of them were walking. Turns out that the people, especially my swimming instructor, who told me that I would make up for my swim with my run were actually onto something.

As I was about to turn the last corner during my run, I saw and heard some random man say, “Go Jennean.” I must have looked at him funny because he started to laugh. And at some point I heard Jackie tell me to sprint to the finish. I don’t know how she managed to keep appearing but she did. As soon as I turned the corner, I saw them. They were right in front of me cheering me on … my teammates. There was a lot of hoopla. This had to be how random man knew my name. I did my best impression of a sprint to the finish. Using my first and last name, the race announcer declared that I had crossed the finish line. This was a nice touch and perk of being in a small race. There was a lady poised to place my medal around my neck. I screamed, “Give me my medal.” Poor lady. I think I might have held the medal up and kissed it at that point. The next thing I know, I had chicken soup in my hand. Thanks Lisa. And I was presented with my super, super fly sign. Here is a picture of me and my co-worker, who had a great race.

Triathlon 002

And here is a picture of the team, the newly minted triathletes.

MMM BGR

Right after I finished someone asked me how I felt and without missing a beat I sad, “Awful.” But that feeling lasted no longer than 60 seconds. I felt fantastic and jubilant. With the help of so many I managed to accomplish what didn’t seem possible a month ago. I learned a lot about myself during this process. I discovered that I might not be playing with a full deck and that I’m a lot tougher than I thought. I was also reminded that God truly answers prayers. Even if I go on to do a full Sprint or even an Olympic triathlon, this triathlon will always be special to me.

Race Time: 1:17:25 – Swim: 26:09 – T1: 4:19 – Bike: 26:31 – T2: 1:49 – Run: 18:36

So what’s next for me? Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon on June 1. Let the countdown begin.

 

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READY OR NOT, HERE I COME

MMM Prep

So it’s here, the Mini Mighty Man Pool Triathlon. Since January I have discussed swimming and have touched on biking and running. Now here is when we talk about  praying. If you believe in the power of prayer, pray that all goes well tomorrow. And if you like to get specific with your prayers: pray that I don’t freak out in 17ft of pool water; pray that my neighboring swimmers don’t splash water down my throat while I am trying to take a breath; pray that I don’t get kicked in the face in 17ft of pool water; pray that I don’t kick anyone in the face; and pray that the LI EventPower staff don’t make me exit the pool because my swim time exceeds the cutoff. We’re supposed to be able to finish the swim in 16 minutes. I finished my last 400 swim in 27 minutes. Umm Yeah.

Whatever happens tomorrow, I feel as though I have already won. Last Saturday, the ladies of BGR! Long Island and NYC came together for a practice run through. It was very well organized and we were even provided with race packets to simulate race conditions. How did I do you wonder? Well, I’d say that I came last by a mile but it was closer to two miles. So for all of the people who told me that I would make up for my slow swim on the bike and run, (my swimming instructor was the main offender) you were wrong. Despite all of that, I felt like a winner. I swam 400 meters, biked 6 miles and ran 2 miles. That’s right, I swam 400 meters.

MMM trial

That’s me crossing the finish line. I was actually crying because I experienced such an overwhelming feeling of triumph and the support from the group was unbelievable. I heard them cheering for me before I even saw them. People in the park were stopping to see what was going on. I had conquered and that was the special occasion.

IN OVER MY HEAD

Deep End

Let me start with something different … running. This past weekend I completed my first official 10K race at the Scotland Run in Central Park. I say my first official because I ran the 6.2 distance last fall in a 50 mile relay race. I was pleased with my time of 1:02:45 but felt as though I could have done better. The race course was very congested in places, especially the first mile, and there was a bottleneck towards the end. This was a little annoying. A few people actually stopped during the race to take pictures and one man started running backwards to look for and wave at his cheering family and/or friends. I had to run outside the cones quite a bit to pass people. I’m such a rebel.

I wasn’t feeling so rebellious when I actually got around to doing a brick workout outside. Yikes!!! It was not pleasant at all. I only had time to run for a mile and it was the most draining mile ever.

Now back to my favorite topic … swimming. There are now only ten days to go to the Mini Mighty Man Triathlon. And yes, I am still struggling with my swimming. However, I have made some major strides in that I stared down my fear and ventured into the deep end. In actuality, the “deep end” is the pool in which the triathlon swim will take place. My first visit consisted of me getting accustomed to being in deep water. One of my training partners encouraged me to let my feet touch the bottom of the pool. It was an interesting exercise because I was in eleven feet of water but had the hardest time getting down to the bottom. This helped to relax me a little because I realized that since I had to work so hard to get to the bottom of the pool, the chances of me accidently sinking eleven feet were slim to none. With that done, I was able to swim a few 25 meter laps in the deep end. Yay me.

Fast forward to tonight. The task at hand was to swim the length of the 50 meter pool without stopping. Until now, all of my training swims have been in pools with the length of 25 meters or less. Once again, I would be swimming at the venue of the actual triathlon, only this time the pool had been extended to 50 meters as it will be on the day of the race and it got as deep as 17 feet.

Before I even began, things started to go bad. I somehow managed to slip and fall in the locker room and banged up my knee. This actually sounds like the makings of a joke, “a lawyer slips and falls at the pool and then …” Only it wasn’t really funny because I whacked my knee and wound up on my back. Talk about an ugly fall. I guess it might have been funny if it wasn’t happening to me. Anyway, I hobbled out to the pool and eventually commenced my 50 meter mission, making sure I was swimming close to the wall at all times. It took me a few times to make it across without stopping. I bumped into the wall a few times and had some water choking incidents. After a few tries and a good pep talk from one of my teammates, I made it across without stopping but it was probably the most ugliest 50 meters known to man. There was some freestyle, some flailing, a little funky breast stroke and more flailing but I got to the other side. The lifeguard was watching me closely and looked like he was considering whether he should rescue me. After I caught my breath and received another inspiring pep talk from my patient teammate, I tried it again. It was a little more graceful this time and I made it across. Yay me again. Now, I just have to figure out how to do it like that seven more times in the inner lanes to complete the race.

QUITTERS NEVER WIN!

perseverance

I have occasion to remind my daughter that “quitters never win” at least once a week. Now I have to tell myself the same thing three or four times each week. My swimming is improving, but very slowly.

My form is atrocious. I know what I’m supposed to be doing but implementation is eluding me. There are so many things to remember. Keep your head down, breathe, lead with your elbow, kick from the thighs and not the knees, breathe, stay aligned, inhale with half of your face still in the water, relax, breathe. UGH! My swimming instructor has taken more hiatuses than Scandal this season, but I still get in the pool three or four times each week. My tri coach, Jackie, has been a lifesaver. Thankfully, she has been assisting me with drills and tips. So onward I go but time is working against me right now as the race is in 5 weeks.

Since we’ve had a real winter, complete with freezing temperatures and snowstorms, we just managed to get in our first group ride. It felt great to be able to dust the bike off and hit the outdoors. Although I am tres rusty, I enjoyed the 6 mile ride. But I really need to incorporate more spinning into my schedule because I struggled a little and we didn’t even hit any hills.

For all of my whining about swimming, it has been helping my achilles and I’ve found that I’m better off doing some running than none at all. I have been increasing my running distance slowly because I have to be ready for a half marathon on June 1st. I couldn’t resist. The real challenge that I’m facing with running is to not push too hard. I have to remember that it is better to run slowly than not at all.

The Highs and Lows of Learning to Swim

help swim

Just when I think I’m making some progress with the swimming, it all seems to go bad. My fourth swimming lesson was a little discouraging. I figured I would get in the pool and build on my prior success. However, it took me 30 minutes just to replicate what I had done in the previous lesson. There was a whole lot of water inhalation and even an embarrassing intake that resulted in a barf. Yes, I said it. If I’m going to tell the highs, I’ll reveal the lows too. Fortunately, I managed to get out of the pool without soiling it and Lorraine was great about the whole thing.

The very next day, I dragged myself to my coached swim with the team. I cannot tell you how hard it is to get myself to the pool in this cold weather. Well, I got there and was so discouraged because I felt like everyone else was advancing while I was reverting. I was struggling with my funky breaststroke while my teammates were cutting through the water perfecting their freestyle. Coach Steve must have sensed my frustration because he gave me a pep talk and was very supportive. I guess I’ll just have to add another swim workout and try to be patient with myself. Since my time is maxed out I’ll have to replace one of my runs with a swim.

In other news, the team is scheduled to go bike riding on Saturday. I’m looking forward to the change of pace … pun intended.

Swim, Swim and More Swimming

swim

Tri Training Has Begun

My triathlon training officially began this week. I am training with some awesome ladies from Black Girls Run! Long Island. We are serious and are working with triathlon coaches, Jackie and Steve. It’s on!!! And swimming was on the coaching menu for Tuesday. The tri coaches expect that we can already swim and are helping to prepare us for triathlon swimming. Yikes!

So How’s the Swimming Coming Along?

I had my third swimming lesson on Monday with Lorraine, my swimming instructor, and guess what … YES, I can swim. Okay, so I’ve not yet channeled my inner Missy Franklin or anything but I swam the length of the 25 yd pool. It was a funky breaststroke, but whatever gets me from point A to point B will do. I CAN SWIM!!! As you can see, I am really excited about this new development, especially since it’s just in time for tri training.

What Was So Different About This Time?

Inquiring minds want to know. This time was different for three reasons. First, my past experiences involved group instruction, which allowed me to fly under the radar. Second, I am more determined and motivated to learn this time because I have a set goal in mind. I have already registered and publicly announced that I am doing this triathlon. Shame and disgrace is a great motivator. Hello!!! Third, Lorraine, is the Bomb dot com.

Flashback to the first lesson in December

I got in the pool and Lorraine told me to show her what I can do. I just stood there and looked at her. Then she told me to put my head in the water. Again, I just stood there looking at her. Maybe I expected her to have me do some more exercises to get comfortable in the water. But no, she just looked right back at me. I then made the swift decision that I was not going to waste my good money (my swimming lessons were my birthday gift to myself) staring at this woman for 30 minutes. So, I put my head in the water.

By the end of my first session, I was able to swim half the length of the pool without coming up for air. I think I made a believer out of Lorraine, who went from, “And you want to do a triathlon?” to “I think we can do this.”

Second Lesson Flashback

We spent the second lesson in the “deep” end of the pool, which is 5 feet deep. Considering I’m only  5’3″ I was a little nervous down there. Lorraine had me floating face down, treading water and doing side breathing drills. I had a lot of problems with the side breathing. My ears feel weird when I put my head to the side and there’s a lot of coordination involved. Now if I were coordinated, I’d be doing Zumba or something.

Enough of the Flashbacks

I hadn’t met with Lorraine in almost a month due the holidays and a bout with the evil cold/flu that has been rampant. But, I did manage to get in some solo pool time to practice my breathing and just get more comfortable in the water. So at my third lesson this week Lorraine taught me how to push off the wall, kick and coached me through the side breathing. Then she told me to swim the length of the pool and miraculously I was able to do it after a few tries. I CAN SWIM!!!

What’s That You Say? You Can’t Swim?

pool

I’ll admit that the thought of the 400 Meter swim strikes fear in my heart. The registration form for the Mini Mighty Man even tried to deter me by saying that you should be able to swim the distance in 16 minutes to sign up. Sixteen Minutes!!! But, I am determined to overcome this hurdle. I am a grown woman and I should know how to swim.

When I started secondary school in the U.K. (I’m not sure what the grade equivalent is in the U.S. but I was eleven) we were required to take swimming. While most of my peers either started or graduated to the deep end, I stayed in the shallow end of the pool the entire time. I think it might have been an entire school year. In order to get to the deep end, you had to be able to swim the length of the pool and tread water for a minute (or something like that). The other students enthusiastically aspired to this goal. However, I had no such ambition. I just couldn’t figure out why my swimming cap wouldn’t keep my hair dry, especially when I refused to put my head under the water. I now realize it was because it was a riduculous rubber cap with a strap that my mom got from Tescos. For all of my Monday swimming classes, I managed to learn how to dog paddle for a few seconds before my inevitable sinking.

In 1996, I was back in England and my cousin decided that she wanted to take swimming lessons and so I went with her to classes. Once again, she was really into it and was making progress but I was a hopeless case. The instructor would tell us to put our heads in the water and I would just wade around watching everyone else sputter and look uncomfortable. And like all “smart” teachers, he just ignored me and focused his efforts on the good students. Needless to say, I never made any progress.

Fast forward to Fall 2012 …

I am really into my running and I’m putting in 18 miles per week, which is reduced mileage due to the fact that I have been suffering with chronic achilles tendonitis. I probably shouldn’t have been doing more than 10 but I was hooked. I finally got frustrated because I wasn’t able add any more distance to my runs and decided to just stop running to give my achilles the chance to heal. During this time I figured I could do some cross training but I found the old standby elliptical machine to be bor-ring and the jumping around required to perform my workout DVDs seemed to defeat the purpose. After spending some time researching on the internet, I found some articles that touted aqua jogging as a great way for runners to maintain fitness while recovering from injuries. But aqua jogging required you to be immersed up to your chest and it didn’t seem safe for non-swimmers, so I started thinking about the swimming thing and begain looking into classes. A few weeks later, Black Girls Run! Long Island had a meet and greet and a BGR triathlete did a presentation on triathlons. At that moment, I knew there was a triathlon with my name on it.