Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Training week 4- 70.3 and one week countdown to Pigman Sprint

So last week I had to travel at the end of the week for my grandpa's funeral and the beginning of this week I had to travel back from my grandpa's funeral, plus took a side stop at home to help my mom with my grandma who had to take a little visit to ER for a fall.  Anyways, after all that driving and "life" I look back and am happy with what I accomplished this week.  Even though looking back also brings out some not great chattynatty memories of training and my reaction to when the training gets challenging...

My mileage for the week:
Swam 2600 yds
Biked 39 miles
Ran 14.72 miles

So overall when I type out this mileage I'm again astounded due to the fact that Tuesday and Wednesday I was driving from VA back to home.  However, it was a mentally tough week (not sure how much my grandpa's death played into it- strange but I still haven't really cried yet- I'm one of those weird people who death hits me at the most strange and normally inopportune times- so I'm just waiting for the water works to hit sometime soon).  It was also a physically challenging week- 30 miler on the bike was tough and I came ill prepared for fuel and so was hungry the last hour of my ride.  My body finally succumbed to the swim. I normally don't feel overall body fatigue after swimming, but this past week I swam Friday 2000 (a combo of 500 meters x 4 with a minute break between each set) and then Saturday I swam in open water for the first time. 

I thought the open water swim was going to be easy- not a piece of cake, but if I swam 2000 meters the day before why couldn't I swim a easy 500 meters in open water with a wet suit on, which the "coach" had talked up like it was going to significantly cut down my swim time, because it did his. 

Well lets just say the best way to describe how it went was:  

 Picture A - what I saw when I went under for the first time. 
 
Picture B- was what I thought I was going to see and didn't so the start/entry into water wasn't that clear which led to some apprehension. I didn't think it would be pristine water, but did think I would have some visibility.
 
 I started swimming and just couldn't catch my breath.  I didn't think the wet suit felt like it was helping.  I felt like an anvil sinking with arms that were struggling to make the stroke.  I sounded like I was having an asthma attack/ wheezing when stopping my free style stroke to do breast stroke.  Sighting is a needed thing in triathlon swimming in open water, because unfortunately there are nice lines marked on the bottom of lakes for you to follow.  I wasn't horrible with staying in a straight line, but I did tend to veer off every now and again, and I've been pre-warned not to just follow the body/bodies in front of me during a race because it can become a bad game of "following the leader" and the "leader" may not know where the heck he/she is going.  My body did not feel all buoyant like I thought it would, unless I flipped over onto my back and then I floated like nobody's business; but you see swimming on your back isn't really that effective for a triathlon- more of an emergency type stroke or Plan B for the triathlete that starts to struggle during the open water swim.  I swam about 4 lengths of the perimeter and each time I reached the roped area/floating perimeter pieces of wood I would take a break and try to catch my breath.  After the fourth I time I went in and sat on the shore, while the kids played with their sand toys and watched my " non-swimming hubby" go back and forth looking like this open water swimming thing was no big deal. 

So the "coach" (aka hubby) came up to the shore as he was concerned something was wrong with me and I just let it go- not huge sobbing or anything, but just cried and vented a little about how freaked out I was about how poorly this was all going.  And not just thinking about the here and now and the week away sprint triathlon, but the "WTF did I do signing up for a 70.3 tri with a 1.2 mile swim" feeling in the back of my mind.  As he always does he had a logical response and answers. 
"This is your first time in the wet suit".  "You just have to get use to it".  "Next Sunday is only 500 meter swim and you will be middle of the pack"... "Lots of beginners like us will be there next weekend with less training and experience than the two of us"... "you'll be fine".  "Don't think about August Tri now, plus you have two months to train". Following his comments I also got a pat on the back from my youngest who said, "mommy you just have to practice, practice, practice".   All of this made me feel better and I made myself get back in and do two more lengths of the perimeter.  However, this experience really did screw with my brain.  My body felt extremely fatigued the rest of the day which didn't help my mental fatigue because I kept thinking how the hell am I going to survive the swim to only have to get on my bike and ride 15 miles and follow it up with a 5K.   

Luckily I have had the great fortune of becoming friends with a member of the tri group I joined in January.  She is also the person who did the "coach's" and my swim evaluation back in January. She also is getting ready to "swim Alcatraz" so she knows a little about open water swimming.  She talked me down off the ledge and told me I just needed to get back out there again.  So even though the following work out really occurred just yesterday (meaning week 5 training) I will share that I swam much better. I met her early at the same Lake/Reservoir and talked about what I struggled with: murky water/low visibility, inability to catch my breath and just feeling extremely fatigued during and after the swim.  She gave me some pointers: really utilize my hands going into the water as propelling machines and pushing through the water to really "go the distance".  Relax and remember to site ever so often as to not waste energy swimming all over the place. She watched me and said she didn't understand why I was breathing the way I was breathing, because she felt like my stroke looked good and that I wasn't "flailing around in the water". She was trying to be nice, but thought my breathing was more mental induced than physical. I still had a hard time breathing, but I felt better than Saturday's swim and I was able to not feel so fricking drained after the swim.  I don't think I will have time to get another open water swim in before Sunday, but I do plan on heading back to the pool at least once to try and just keep swimming and working on my form/technique. 

The swim really was the toughest part of last week's training.  The 30 mile bike went well and the runs all were good.  Well almost all the runs were good, by Sunday my body started retaliating I have felt sore (left leg cramp during run- which I never get, and right lateral knee pain during run too). 

So the answer is to get rest (have to get good sleep this week), eat better (going back to healthier eating choices, although I'm putting in a lot of exercise hours my weight has increased due to all the reward type eating- "Oh I ran 7 miles today I can eat a bag of peanut M&Ms and have a few beers after dinner", etc, etc.  I am also reminding myself this week of that great line "if it was easy everybody would do it".  This can be used in so many facets of life.  My problem is I don't always do well with challenges- sometimes I just want to be good without trying very hard, however, that just isn't me- I'm average at a lot of things and so I have to put the work in to maintain that average status in the "playing field" too.  I'm not doing these Triathlons to get medals (I'm not going to place in the top 3 :)).  However, I do want to do the best I can knowing that I gave my training schedule my all.  I truly feel, other than the food part, I've been putting my all in- getting the workouts in despite the "life issues" of the past weeks so when I dove into the water on Saturday and saw this...

 
and realized how tough open water swimming was going to be for me- I was really frustrated.  Moving onto a new week and focusing on rest, stretching, eating, and mental relaxation is my goal- not the miles or the number of workouts.  I'm hoping my body's physical and mental fatigue is just occurring as it has in past training periods (marathon training mainly) as a reminder to step back and take some time off to get ready for the "big dance".  I'll let you know how well I "dance" on Sunday.

PS- word to the wise for anyone interested in Triathlons- please don't let the above info about open water swimming deter you.  After my horrible day on Saturday I connected with some of my tri buddies via facebook and they said this was completely normal and common for first open water swim and that it only gets better from here.  Plus can't be too horrible- I went back two days later and am planning to go back many more times this summer. As Dory says "Just Keep Swimming". 

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