Friday, June 4, 2010

How to Become a More Confident Open Water Swimmer

Hope you're not expecting some fabulous training plan... no... just more of my blithering thoughts.. ;)

This really works though... I was the test subject, so I can say that in all honesty.

JJ (coach) knows I'm nervous about open water swimming.  I recognize now that I can go the distance (in the pool) but it still feels different in the big, open space of the lake and I've been working on mental calming techniques so I don't panic.

Last night I showed up to Kelso and was told 'I have someone I want you to swim with - she's new and has never been in the lake before'.... um, okay, I thought to myself... wow... this should be good...I'm pretty pathetic and he wants me to help someone new..?

I met my new swim buddy (Lorraine) and we waded into the lake together.  I showed her how I go in slowly, get my face wet (and proceeded to splash her and go under and blow some bubbles for a little bit to get acclimatized.  I assured her that although you can't see anything in the water because it's cloudy, it tastes far better than a swimming pool and in a wetsuit, it's a no-brainer to float around if you feel tired.

We swam a little bit of breaststroke and chatted.  She is just about to do her first try-a-tri on Sunday at Milton.  She has only been swimming for a year and is self-taught.  It was her first time in a wetsuit and the first time being in a lake.

I wore my "Nemo" swimcap and so I was easy for her to spot as she swam along... we took our time and a few little breaks along the way while we practiced sighting and staying on course...


The 'newbie' swam 1000m!  Imagine my delight on her behalf!  What a trooper! 

She thanked me for swimming with her and helping her feel so comfortable for her first open water swim and was so excited that she had found her first 'coach' (Who?  Me???).  It was I who thanked HER... together, we swam without fear of the open water.  We built our confidence and enjoyed the experience together. 

Hard to say who benefited the most from that teaming up of like-minded souls:  Lorraine or me...

JJ, smart coach that he is, knew that with someone else to think about, my own fears would take a back seat... way to go, JJ!

I can't wait to see Lorraine again and hear about her first triathlon - I'm betting she ROCKS the swim leg!!  Woo hoo -- you GO, girl!!!

Hypoallergenic Diet - Week 1

I've been feeling decidedly sluggish the past few weeks plus I had gone through a 1-2 week bout of horrible GI issues that left me feeling... well... pretty awful...

When I discussed this with Tara from HEAL Nutrition, as always, she had plenty of helpful suggestions and time to listen to me obsess about the fact that 'my weight is up' and 'I know it's just a number but..'. blah blah blah... how she manages to do this without a trace of exasperation is something to be admired :)

I queried whether a cleanse might be a good idea at this point and we discussed this for a while and came up with an action plan that I can follow and not impede my triathlon training. 

I usually do a cleanse about 2-3 times per year.  In the past, this has involved the purchasing of a herbal cleanse kit from my health food store and swallowing umpteen herbal capsules per day for several weeks and hoping to have enough energy to continue with my regular activities while I 'detox' and get massive headaches, skin breakouts... etc... on a couple of occasions, I wasn't even able to keep up with my regular yoga practice because I felt so yukky.

This time, however, I'm following a dietary cleanse approach.  It's a hypoallergenic diet:  no gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no caffeine... and I'm expecting to follow this for at least 3 weeks.

Note:  I am allowed GU Chomps and E-Load for my long training sessions in the heat... but other than that, I'm sugar-free, baby!

I asked if Eric (still training hard for IMLP) was planning to join me on this food adventure... his response (after reading about all of the dietary exclusions): 'What?  Are you trying to kill me??'.  Hmm... guess's to be a solo journey.

I made lunch plans with a friend earlier this week and told him about the dietary exclusions; he asked if perhaps he should just eat ahead of time and meet me for a glass of water...? 

Have we really become so enamored with gluten/dairy/sugar-containing foods that we are 'lost' without them..?

Actually, I'm feeling wonderful!  I started on Sunday and have not felt sick at all.  No headaches, either!  That was my biggest concern (I suffer from migraines).  I feel good, completely satiated by my allowable food choices and have had plenty of energy to spare for my training sessions.  In fact, this week's training sessions have been of really good quality and I'm happy to be going into the weekend endurance bike sessions from this place :)

My sleep is better and I awaken actually feeling rested for a change.  It's been quite a while since I could say that... plus I have no GI disturbances, which, as all athletes and non-athletes alike will attest... it can sideline us really quickly...

It's been a great first week (I'm in Day 6 of my cleanse) and I'm looking forward to the upcoming weeks.  BONUS: weight loss of 3.5 lbs :)

I made a promise to myself that I would make a note to remember that when I cut gluten out of my diet I feel better in general.  Not knowing enough about it (yet- although having OCD, I'm sure I will research it to death until I learn all kinds of things... ) I am not sure whether the general feeling of better health comes from the exclusion of gluten or sugar themselves, or the other additives and ingredients that go into gluten or sugar-rich foods and products...

Hmmm... food for thought... ;)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer is Here!!


'Everyone into the pew-ellll....' or lake, as the case may be!  I swam in the lake at Kelso (for the first time this year) yesterday morning and could not have asked for a better reintroduction to open water!  Usually, I get in, make a face, start freezing to death, get nervous, get water on my face, get even more nervous and promptly have an asthma attack as I start to swim in the icy depths... yesterday none of that happened!

It was an incredibly beautiful weekend and the water at Kelso (on the side of the boat launch - not the public beach) was just lovely!  True, you can't see anything in that body of water but it is pool-water warm and tastes great in the mouth (unlike pool chlorine and bromine).

I splashed about for a short while, to the rock wall and back, as I watched, mesmerized, as the other athletes swam around the lake... I asked one of the lifeguards how far it was and he guessed it was about 1.5-2 km.... OMG - that's what I have to swim at Timberman!!  Funny how things change... in the pool 2000m doesn't seem that bad anymore but outside... it looks HUGE!! Luckily, as I look ahead in my training schedule, JJ has me scheduled to gradually increase my time spent swimming in the lake...

Oh - and the raving lunatic inside my head?  She was QUIET the whole time!  :)

It's going to be a great summer of swimming outside - I can just feel it!


You know, some people just shouldn't be allowed to ride expensive, beautiful bikes... I am one of them... clumsy and awkward on a bike... ugh... I try and try not to feel nervous and create tension in my body but... I'm a KLUTZ! 

I went out for my first outdoor ride on the long weekend and this weekend, continued to build some time in the saddle.   I missed my riding group by 5 minutes so it was a solo ride - which I don't mind because klutz that I am, I'm terrified of taking out another cyclist at a stop sign...

The weather was hot at 9am and off I went.  Great thing I have the Garmin Edge 705... it slices, it dices... it calculates altitude, descent, speed, cadence, heart rate, calories, power wattage - to name a few... oh - and of course - it has a GPS and map feature... which I apparently don't know how to use properly... so I have this expensive 'speedometer' on my bike... I'd like to say I'll take some time this week to read the instruction manual but it's kind of large...

I followed a route that I hoped I could follow back to my car because I did not have 3 hours to be lost on a bike... other appointments...   It turned out to be a great route!  I found my first 'fast' descent of the season and didn't freak out.  Whew.  Then, of course, that same lovely descent became my first 'hard' climb of the season on the way back.  I stayed in my saddle, hung on hoping to hell I would not tip the bike over on the way up and after what seemed like a long time (I'm sure it was not - it was a little hill!!) arrived at the top, heart pounding and looking forward to an easy spinout for my legs...

At this point, I considered consulting my GPS, map-equipped bike toy to plot an alternate route back to the car... I looked down to see a nice yellow background on a map, with a small red line that said 'Credit River' ... that was IT.  Wow!  So helpful!!!!  LOL!  Needless to say, I retraced my steps (or pedal strokes...) instead of venturing off.

I was feeling pretty darn good when I hit the turnaround point and thought to myself "I will just unclip my right foot and turn the bike around and off I go..." - you know what happened next:  BANG!  My left foot stayed clipped in the whole time.  I had to take my shoe off... "Quick release" my a$$....   bike was okay... I was sore... oh well... almost time to quit anyway... rode back, freshly mown grass blowing into my face (I am allergic to everything in nature...) and finished up my workout.

Yesterday's ride was even hotter... my legs didn't seem to have much spring in them compared with the day before... hitting 90-95 rpm was difficult...  all still seemed to be going fairly well, aside from the wheezing in the heat... came to a stop sign - unclipped in plenty of time... and BANG!  Down I went (again?!) - man, that one hurt -- left foot still safely clipped in... bike overhead and handlebars jammed into my chest... nice... the nice people in the pickup truck stopped and asked if I was okay...

Dusted myself off and kept going... decided that 'any idiot on a bike can do a turnaround into the other lane to turn around and keep going... stop being a wuss and practice!!'  You would think by now I would know how to do this but each time I try, I fail... miserably.  I'm just too nervous I guess... I summoned courage, pulled out a teensy bit to give myself a wider turning radius - and saw a HUGE truck bearing down on me... BANG!!!  So much for cat-like reflexes... this time BOTH feet were stuck and I couldn't go anywhere but down.  This time the truck stopped as well as another passerby to make sure I was okay... 'yes, thank you'...

So... it's really great that I have this terrific, beautiful, built-just-for-me custom Guru but honestly I'm too much of a twit to ride this bike... I'm terrified of breaking her... or my arm... as I land on it - or my hip - for the hundredth time... the lunatic is positive that I will crash and burn at Timberman on the bike course... I can't climb... I can't go fast... my bike handling skills suck... I can't even control my own feet!  Please, Lord, I need the courage to continue this quest for athleticism and muzzle her or at least prove her wrong!!


It's hot out there and it's allergy season (with a vengeance).  Other than that - running is going well!  (I know... what, no 20 minute tirade on the run training..??) LOL!!

Get out there, gang!  It's gonna be a beautiful summer!!!!