Thursday, May 31, 2012

First OWS!

Forgive me that this is the best picture I could come up with, as I didn't take any of my own to mark this "first" in my tri journey, but it is what it is.  

Anyhow, I have been really anxious to get into the open water as Daybreak Tri is just over a week away and it is an OWS (open water swim) and I have NO experience in this area.  I consider myself a decent swimmer, but from from everything I have been reading on BT (Beginner Triathlete) it is something not take lightly, and to get as much practice on as possible, BEFORE races.  And there have been tons of posts lately about people freaking out in OW, so I was really starting to wonder about and be worried about "not knowing what I didn't know".  Though it doesn't scare me or intimidate me, I kept thinking, "How do I KNOW it doesn't scare me?  Maybe there is something about it that will, but I don't know till I go".

So, I got a facebook message from one of the triathlon groups I follow telling about an OWS clinic at Bountiful Pond from 6:45-8:15.  I jumped on it, registered, and went and got a wetsuit ( a whole other experience) and was excited to go!

I picked up the wetsuit and tried it on in the dressing room of Salt Lake Running Company.  Man, when I heard that getting into and out of a wetsuit should be the fourth event of triathlons, they weren't kidding!  It is really something if you have never done it before!  I broke a sweat just getting that sucker on and zipped up!  And then I looked in the mirror and decided it is the ultimate "Does this make my butt look big?" outfit!

I met up with the others attending this clinic at the Bountiful Pond.  My coworkers told me I had now completely lost it to swim in this particular body of water, as it isn't far from the city dump, and one offered to bring medicine for giardhia, as his wife is a physician.  Ha ha, guys!  Anyhow, when I got there and checked things out, other than that bird crap encrusted boat dock we were entering off of, it wasn't bad!  Sure it was a murky green/brown color, but aren't all ponds?  It was a gorgeous evening and no wind, so I was excited! 

I met the others and the coach, Jamie.  She had a fishing inter tube she was going to follow us around in.  She jumped in and told us to meet her out in the middle of the lake.  Some of us weren't even fully zipped up yet!  So much for taking it slow and easy!  I didn't want to look like a complete pansy, so I went in like the rest of them.  I swam with the others until we met Jamie out 100 yards or so from the dock.

I immediately noticed a few things.  One, the cold water was really refreshing.  Two, having trees, pretty sky, and the outdoors around you while swimming is awesome as well.  Three, when your head is in the water, you can't see crap.  Literally or figuratively.  Even with goggles.  Just brown.  This might be what freaks some people out, but for me, I took it as what I don't know (or see for that matter) can't hurt me!  I also noticed that even though I didn't think that I was swimming that fast, my swimming felt more labored.  I was out of breath a ton faster and was breathing every other stroke.  I got out to Jamie with the others and when I explained this to them they explained that is the wet suit and how it does compress your entire body, even your lungs.  Alrighty then, something to get used to, but good to know.

We spent the entire clinic doing basic open water skills like learning the different ways to spot on shore, and into the sun (I really didn't do well on that, the glare in the goggles made it virtually impossible), doing turns in the open water around buoys, and practicing different types of swim starts.  It was really fun, the people that were there were really cool, and I learned so much! 

I walked away from the experience thinking that it was a very positive milestone for me on my path towards triathlons.  I loved it!  The people were great, the water was refreshing and though it is pretty different from pool swimming, it isn't something that should be feared, though I can see how it could be by some.  I just embraced it with an open attitude and thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Now I have added a wet suit to my never ending wish list of tri gear.  I have the one I rented for almost two weeks, and I plan to use it as much as possible in that time frame, and not just for the Daybreak Tri!

Happy Training!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Needing an OWS

My next race is the Daybreak Sprint Tri on June 9.  I am usually ecstatic about races, but this one has me nervous.  This will be my first race with an OWS, or Open Water Swim, and I couldn't even tell you the last time I actually swam  in open water.  I have played on the beach and on the shore line a few times over the last few years, but that doesn't count.  The race will have a 1/2 mile swim portion, and it doesn't look like I will be getting into the water any time soon to practice.

The water here in Northern Utah is still quite cool and I don't have a wet suit yet. I plan on renting one for the race.  I also need people to go with, I am nervous about doing it on my own, and would love to go with other people, preferably those that know what they are doing to share some tips.  However, the only OWS clinics or groups that I have heard about doing anything are all at least an hour and a half away.  At this point I would be willing to drive that to get some practice, however, I can't exactly go to their times when they are all scheduled when I am at work.  I would love ideally to find a group to go on organized swims once a week or so, but I have yet to find anything like that in my area.

From what I understand, it is quite different than swimming in a pool.  I consider myself to be a decent swimmer, but worry about keeping a straight course (you don't exactly have the black line at the bottom to follow) and I have never practiced spotting above the water to stay the course.  It is starting to look like my first time in open water will be race day, and that isn't generally a good idea.  I figure, if nothing else, just follow the bubbles, right?  Just do what everyone else around me is doing and go in their direction?

Tons of people are really scared and freaked out by open water, but I don't think that really applies to me.  To me it is just more of the unknown and not having a chance to practice in it before hand.  I am glad that I don't really have a phobia of it.  I feel for the people that do.

So, I will keep you posted on this latest aspect of my tri journey, any pointers?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Women of Steel Tri 2012 - FIRST TRI EVER!

Well, after months of thinking about it, training for it, reading about it, dreaming about it, IT finally came!  My first triathlon, the Women of Steel Sprint Tri in American Fork.  It was such an awesome day, I will take you from the beginning!


I woke up at 4:15 so that we could get down there super early so I could pick up my race packet.  I have never waited until the morning of a race to do this, but with it being an hour and half away, I didn't want to make the trip just for the packet then come home.  So, we all got up, ate a quick breakfast, and hopped into the car for the drive down.  Thank heaven there were no accidents and no one else on the road that early, and we got there plenty early enough.  Here I am just after getting there, getting my stuff out of the car, and getting my bike tire back on, right before heading to packet pick up.

 I picked up my packet and they were very friendly, and I could tell that there was already a really good energy to this race.  I headed over to body marking, where they put my official race number on both arms and my age on my leg, and I have to say, I felt like such a rock star at body marking!  No idea why, but I did, and I had Ken take a picture.

 I headed with all my race stuff over to the transition area where they had these labels on where you were supposed to rack your bike and set up your transition area.  I know that this was my first race, but it seemed like there was hardly any room to do it, the labels were so close together!  I was glad that I was one of the first ones there so I could get set up before others were.  Here is my name label, and my bike racked, ready to go, and my transition area, or launching pad, you could call it.

 I was quite pleased that my race number was 306.  Six is my favorite number, so I took it as a sign of good luck.  Dork, I know....

 After setting up transition, I had an hour and half until the race started. I made a few visits to the bathroom, and chatted with those around me.  I love this aspect of racing, the people around you, getting to know them, talking about race goals, experience, training, families, etc.  I was around several newbies like myself who were doing their first tri, and there were others that were clearly more seasoned that were on teams, or had completed long course events, and women of every age, size, back ground, etc.  I loved it!  Every one was so friendly and encouraging.

They then had us listen to their pre-race meeting where the USAT officials went over some rules and let me tell you, these people mean business!  They were even telling people how to set up their transition areas, correcting people on how they had their bikes racked, and threatening to give time penalties or disqualifications for sneezing wrong on the course.  It became very clear that this was one new aspect from running events, because there really is no governing body over them, at least not one I had ever seen that had this kind of presence.  It was welcome and annoying at the same time.

We headed over to the pool for the National anthem, and got seeded according to our time estimates.  It was really organized chaos, and I had been really nervous about the swim from the perspective of not knowing what to expect at all.  I guess you could say that applied to the whole race.  I told Ken I was nervous and he didn't understand why as I have done many races now.  I told him that in running events, I know what to expect, but with a tri, I had no clue what to expect, what race protocol is, etc. so I was pretty nervous from the time we got there till I literally and figuratively got my feet wet.  

The swim portion I was dreading as I had seen tons of YouTube videos of pool swims for tri's where people get backed up bottle neck style because no one is really accurate on the times that they turn in, and it can be a mad house.  So, I knew it was advantageous, but I went ahead and seeded myself with the people with faster times than I had thought I was capable of.  I knew I would either be that guy  that every one was backed up behind, or it would be a smart move by not being backed up behind other people.  It was a move that proved to be smart as I never once got passed in the pool, but in turn passed 3 people :)  I'm not going to lie, it was a great feeling.  I knew right away in the swim that there are things I need to work on.  First thing is flip turns.  I know there is much debate about whether these are even necessary for tris as most time you are in open water and who needs them, right?  Well, I found that they would benefit me in that they help with that idea of a long continuous swim where you aren't breaking every 25 m to take a quick breath and push off the wall.  This was a 50 m pool, and I kept thinking, "Shouldn't I be at the wall by now?" Mentally it really was something to get over, but I did fine.  I felt strong on the swim, but kept having that ARE WE THERE YET? feeling.  Definitely going to practice more of those.

I left the swim feeling out of breath, but very pleased with my performance.

Total Swim time: 6:43, as recorded by the chip, and I finished 20th in my age group of 140 for the swim portion. SWEET!  Never would have expected that!

Here is a picture of the start line at the pool.  Ken got some good pictures of the rest of the race.  I love the next few at the pool! 

 I have to interject this picture of Janae, she was obviously trying to stay entertained during the swim portion...LOL


I headed into the first transition  running somewhat but also trying to catch my breath as I burped the whole way from swallowing tons of water in the pool.  I ripped my swim cap off, with my goggles, quickly found my area, sat to put on my cycling shoes, socks, helmet, gloves, and sunglasses, grabbing my bike and running awkwardly to the mount area on those darn cycling shoes with the annoying clips on the bottom.  It went smoothly, but I probably could have shaved some seconds off by doing a few less things.  But, this was a learning experience right?

Total T1 time: 3:30

Bike Portion

I mounted my bike and it immediately had a slight incline with a very short downhill where we turned and went up the hill again.  What a way to start a course!  But, I found that I was automatically just shifting on my bike without thinking about it, and that was a key moment for me as I realized the climbs and rides I have been doing had lead to this kind of automaticity on the bike, and I was pleased with that.  I have to be honest, I am loving my bike more and more, and this was a fun part of the race.  The total bike distance was 12.96 miles, and you did a 6 something mile bike loop twice.  It had an uphill the first part of the loop, and then evened off, then you got the downhill.  It ran mainly through a residential neighborhood, and then down a Main Street in Highland and American Fork.  The uphill was tough, but doable.  The down hill was pure heaven.  I loved that I caught a tailwind, and loved every minute of it.  I felt like I was maneuvering my bike in and out of other people, and passed a ton of people, but I had tons of people passing me as well.  I just loved the whole thing, I felt strong, got some good speed, and just had a blast on the bike. It went way too quickly for the amount of fun I had on it!  

Total bike time:  46:18, which is an average speed of 17 mph

Not bad for the uphill on that!


I dismounted my bike and ran across the grass to rack it as quickly as I could.  I tried to do so without taking out other bikes or messing up other racers transition set ups.  I stripped the cycling shoes off, the helmet, the gloves, threw on my running shoes, my race belt with my number, and my hat and I was off!  I saw the my cheering section of Ken, my Mom, and the kids as I left T2, and here is a picture they took as I threw my arms up waving.  

Total T2 time:  3:12

 The run, which in many ways felt like "coming home" as it is the sport I have the background and history in, started out rough.  The obvious was the lead legged feeling of just coming off the bike and switching to the run.  It feels like you have anvils attached to both legs, I was out of breath, and while fighting through his feeling, was running uphill at the same time.  NOT pleasant.  I started to get myself mentally discouraged, as I had people passing me, and thinking I should be doing better.  But then I was at the crest of the hill and it felt much better.  My legs felt like my own again, and I started to pick up the pace, mentally started feeling like myself, and enjoyed it.  Then we turned again as we headed down the same hill.  People passing me on the bike loop cheered me one, people were on the ends of their drive ways cheering, and I had the same familiar race feeling, and it was fun to coast towards the finish line like that.  Here are some pics Ken took of the finish line:

 Here I am rounding the final corner onto the field where the finish line was, and starting the sprint for the last 25 yards or so to the finish

 Yeah for a strong finish!

Total Run Time: 28.01, which averages out to a 9:02 minute/mile...SHUT UP!  


 I love this picture.  I had just finished and had a total rock star feeling as I realized I was OFFICIALLY a triathlete, and it was hard and fun at the same time.  My kids ran up to give me hugs, and I got the finisher's stuff, it was just awesome.  The finish line was clearly designed by women for women.  They hand you a necklace and a Diet Coke as you cross the line, and then lead you over to massages and chocolate.  Oh yeah Baby!
 They had also featured a booth that kids could color signs for their Moms running, and here are my troopers with their signs for me.  It was so sweet!

 Here's my Mom and I at the finish.  This was the first race she had ever seen me do and it was great.

I love this pic as well, it shows in closer detail the sign Joshua did for me.  I am totally framing this one.

So, the day was a complete success.  The weather was in the low 60's, but the pool was heated, so that was no biggie, and the rest of the race I felt temperature wise like I was perfect, not too hot or too cold, and I only wore the tri suit the whole time.  There was tons of crowd support, it was great to have my family there, and the race was very well organized.  I wasn't prepared for how much FUN this was!  I have loved running, and still do, but this race was so different than that.  There are so many facets to triathlon with the multi sports to train for, more phases of the race to formalize your plan for, and then the whole smooth transitions piece.  But I loved it!  I can't wait to do another one in a few weeks!  I went into this wanting to do well, obviously, but more than anything just to LEARN as this was a totally new thing for me.  I LEARNED a ton.  But before I get to that, I was guesstimating my time to be around 1:45, knowing what I typically do for each sport time wise in training, and planning for things like possible bumpy transitions, pool back ups, etc.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised, okay shocked when I saw my official finishing time as....drum roll please....


I was in the top 20% of 900 finishers, and placed 55 in my age group.  I was very pleased with the times I posted, and the whole experience.  LOVED LOVED LOVED IT!

So, here are my LESSONS LEARNED for this race:

-Invest in Body Glide.  That tri top was awesome, but I need some Glide to make it even better
-Do more bricks
-Spend more time in the pool with more flip turns/no breaks at the ends of lanes to be better prepared for OWS where there is none
-Make sure to reset bike computer from previous ride BEFORE heading out of T1
-Practice smoother transitions including running bike mounts/dismounts
-Triathlon is going to be very, very fun, if this race is any indicator.  So excited to do more

My next race is the Daybreak Sprint Tri on June 9, three weeks away.  Can hardly wait, and will be doing some open water swims between now and then!

Happy Training all!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Here we go again...

Checked the lotto results for the St. George Marathon, and I got in!  For the second year in a row!  I am very excited, but the reality of adding this training to my tri training is somewhat daunting, but when have I ever backed down from a challenge?  I am really looking forward to is October 6.  Many of you know my feelings on this, it is my favorite race of all time, and the only one worth doing 26.2 for, so looks like it will be my season ender, and I am excited to go out on a high note.

Happy training all!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Best ride ever!

I had the opportunity to ride with one of my very favorite people, my Dad.  He was an avid runner until he injured his ankle pretty badly in a race when he hit a pot hole with his foot.  He gave up running after that and bought a bike, and hasn't looked back.  He loves it and is dang good!  He was visiting from Denver for my cousin's wedding and since I now I have a bike, he figured he could bring his over with him and we would go on a ride.  We selected to do the 50 mile route for the Wildflower Pedalfest that I am signed up for in August.  I was initially nervous about this since I thought it was going to be way too hard for me and I thought that I would have all summer to train.  Well, he said that he would get me through it.  I took the day off from work, and it turned out to be a GORGEOUS day.  Below is the view from the start, where we parked our car and started our ride.

Here are our sweet rides.  His is the red one. I have read that you need to be scared of the guys with red bikes.  They were right, my Dad is a beast on that thing!

 We rode from Mountain Green up Morgan Canyon to the top of East Canyon Reservoir.  It was a awesome ride, with the steepest climbs that I have done so far.   My Dad was great though, he taught me a lot about my bike that day, and shared some tricks with me.  And I must admit, though climbs are tough, I have started to enjoy the challenge, and the downhill is a very sweet trade off!  Here we are at the top before we headed back down.  This is my Pa, he will be 60 this year, and he is awesome!  I know that he held back for my sake on this ride, and I appreciated that.  It was so nice to have the time with him.

The total ride was just under 50 miles.  We didn't go quite as far around the reservoir as the route for the organized ride calls for, and we had to get back for family stuff that night.  I can't express how fun it was to spend the time with my Dad, I am a self proclaimed Daddy's Girl, and this one on one time with him is rare.  I learned a lot from him, and it was a great day.  I handled the ride and the climbs better than I thought I would, so much so that I changed my registration to the 75 miler for the same ride that will continue past the reservoir and go to the top of Big Mountain. 

Happy Training!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New favorite riding spot

I have heard tons of people who live in my neighborhood and ride tell me that I needed to buy an annual bike pass to Antelope Island State Park.  They had many reasons, other than one of the obvious being it is literally 1.8 miles from my front door, and it is safer because of less traffic, and you can really make the ride as hard or as long as you want depending on how far into the park you go.  Well, I took them up on their advice and bought a pass last weekend.  I loved it!  You really feel like you are far away exploring some new place, but at the same time, it is so close to home!  Well, this guy above is one of the reasons why I love going out there, they are everywhere and it is fun to ride around them.  You have beautiful views of the Wasatch Front, and though there is traffic, it isn't bad at all, and their are wide shoulders, so I really do feel safer.

I found a new part of the Island yesterday.  I saw a sign that pointed to Buffalo Point and I could see that it involved a significant climb up to this look out point.  Well, I was feeling quite happy with my ride and myself yesterday, so I did it!  It was hard, but in playing with the gears on my bike and going to one with very little resistance and maintaining a high cadence, I found that it was easier than a smaller climb I did last Saturday on the Island, and I was going 2-3 mph faster as well.  I keep having these little breakthroughs on my bike, and I must say, I am warming up to it more and more.  It was hard, but not as hard as I thought it was going to be and I must say, the downhill was SWEET!  Got up to 30 mph!

Like I hinted at before, I am warming up to my bike more with each ride.  It is really a whole new beast to learn about.  I feel that I am still have so much more to learn, and am excited when I make little breakthroughs or have Aha! moments on rides.  I am starting to feel more comfortable with my bike, and on it!  My shoulders are hurting less, though I am not sure I have quite figured out an ideal saddle for me, I guess I have learned to tolerate it.  I love the areas and how MUCH area you can cover on a bike as compared to a run.  I am taking a long ride with my Dad who is in town this week and bringing his bike.  I can't wait for him to show me more stuff, and we are attempting a 52 mile ride with some significant climbs, but it is in gorgeous country, so I can hardly wait.  Hopefully the old man is patient with me!

Another thing I am way excited about it that my classes for this semester are over and I am done until after Labor Day.  I am so excited to dive into some good quality training!  The weather is supposed to be spectacular this week anyhow, so even better!

To top it all off, I am only 13 days from my first tri, Women of Steel.  So excited I can't stand it!

Happy training!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Salt Lake Running Co 5k

So, I guess Hell is freezing over, because I got Ken to do a race with me.  We did the annual Salt Lake Running Company 5k on Saturday.  It was a ton of fun, and really neat to do a race with my honey!  He ran a "very short, yet distinguished" running career in high school, and once had an 18 minute 5k time.  I totally drug him into this one, but he did it, and he even had fun!  He said that he would do it again, so I consider that a success.  I had a good race, not quite a PR, but I did manage to beat him, and went back to cross the finish line with him as he went through.  Here are some pics for that day.  The one above was clearly before the race, and the others below are from the photographer for SLRC.  I took them off of their FB Page :)  Is that considered stealing?

Ken and I are in the back in this one, he is behind the lady in the hot pink shirt.