Thursday, January 20, 2011

Learning to swim freestyle: Challenges and TRIumphs!

LISTEN UP.  You have GOT to get the TI book Extraordinary swimming for every body.     Just stop what you are doing rite now...because YOU NEED to get this book.

I got my copy the first few pages....and there was NO putting this book down. I read the entire 168 pages in one I implemented the tweaks suggested in the book....and all I can say is WOWIE ZOW!!!!! No kidding!

Here are the tweaks...followed by more blather on how the changes affected my swim - it was freakin' monumentous:

  • move my forward extended arm to a more downward position in the water to counterbalance my sinking butt and legs
  • palms face down...with limp saggy wrist
  • the above caused my recovery arm (which is now poised to re-enter the water) enter at a point where both arms are for a moment in the front quad
  • eliminated the pointless endless fluttering kick...with a simple...silent...and more efficient 2 beat kick that is timed with each "piercing" of the water

REBALANCED the extended arm to be LOWER in the water:
I modified depth of front arm to lower in water position...this raised my back end (without adding extra kicking)...and the results are my butt and legs are suddenly floating on top of the water. Why does this matter? This reduces the resistance in the water HUGE...I mean HUGE....which translates into saving energy for swimming. ** By fixing your balance point...which is different for each fix your buoyancy...and reduce drag on the water ** In my arm position was TOO high...just a few inches below the surface of the water. With my "balance position" on the high side in left my legs to no matter how much I tried...I was still dragging along my back end thru the water. It was exhausting! It is absolutely making this ONE SINGLE adjustment. Your speed over the water improves 10 fold by just reducing drag.

Finding the balance point each time with palms down:
next I worked on piercing the water with each arm and trying to nail that lower perfect balance position (that I discovered above) each time. Since I work endlessly on drills...this didn't take too long...especially since my butt rides high on the water now. I tried to feel the sensation of my butt and legs riding high each time. Just for kicks I thru in a balance point that I knew would cause my legs to sink just to see how that felt. I can assure you it won't take long for your body to pick up on what is sinking and what is gliding effortlessly. It's incredible!

2 Beat Kick:
then I worked on getting rid of the endless hyperactive flutter kick that was wearing me out (in addition to my bad balancing). I replaced the endless flutter with the 2 beat kick. For some bizarre reason...the 2 beat kick came natural...and when I time the kick with each piercing / torso propels me even further thru the water -- all effortlessly!! I could probably go 8-9 strokes without air...tho I maxed at 7 just because ;-) The end result of these few I can suddenly take 5-7 strokes without feeling the least bit breathless. Before...3 was max...and by midway thru the pool I had to rotate every other stroke. Now...I'm in no hurry to come up for air. It was so much like MAGIC, that I was afraid to leave the pool in case I come back the next day and this wonderful feeling is gone. But...that won't happen....I'm on to this thing called Freestyle now.

Lastly...I started working on a more seamless breath. Not there yet mainly cuz I ran out of time (1.5 hours in the pool and I was wrinkling up!) - but I felt the breathing was right around the corner. When I roll on my right side (more comfy side) I am starting to keep the cadence of the 2 beat kick as I come up for air (this is typically where I morph into flutter kick and struggle)....will continue working the breathing in next practice. When rolling on left side I can see that I don't need to roll as far...and will also work to coordinate this with the 2 beat kick. There were momentous breakthru's today in the pool....and I'm SOO excited!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Paying it Forward, to my friend Chris

Saturday 10/16/2010:

Words simply cannot describe what I want to say. Many many many thanks to all of the wonderful participants and donations that made Pay-It-Forward to TEAM CHRIS an incredible moment for Chris and his family today.

Our running team of Jill, Mike, Emma, Tamar and Jane walked 2.5 miles from the Canton waterfront - to the Baltimore 5K start -- and arrived with 2 minutes to spare. There was no time to prep, as the 5K race started promptly at 8:30 am...and within 30 minutes we had all crossed the finish line - together. It was pretty miraculous that we finished together considering the size of the crowds, and the freakin' fast pace set by Tamar and Emma. We ran so fast that I never noticed the first or 2nd mile markers....but I think we were all somewhat inspired to do Chris proud today. We each had an opportunity to carry the Team-Chris banner during the 5K event - and of course proudly posed for this picture op.

By 11AM, Jill, Tamar and I presented Chris and his family with your donations and inspirations - and I have to say, it was a very moving moment. I may not know each and every participant in TEAM CHRIS today, but you need to know that your caring and support shed a beam of light, and hope for Chris. Thank you for making this moment happen. You really made a difference.

Monday October 11, 2010
One of my favorite movies - is Pay it Forward. NO, the movie is not new, but in case you haven't seen it, a young boy (Trevor), is caught up by an intriguing assignment from his social studies teacher. The assignment: think of something to change the world and put it into action. Trevor conjures the notion of paying favors FORWARD, and not BACK. Forward - means to repay good deeds not with payback, but with new good deeds done to three new people. Trevor succeeds to make good on his idea bring a revolution of GOOD DEEDS cropping up in an ever-widening circle of people completely unknown to him.

This Saturday, October 16, a group of friends have decided to PAY IT FORWARD - to my friend Chris. We've decided, at least in one small way, to shine a bright light in his direction. We believe that the power of kindness can make a difference. Most likely, you don't know Chris. He was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 throat cancer, his wife is in remission with breast cancer and they have 3 small children. We wanted to take this opportunity to pay forward to Chris - a simple moment of kindness. And just maybe, the collective power of well wishes from our "village" can make a difference to Chris and his family.

My friend Chris, is not aware that he will be the recipient of PAY IT FORWARD. He has no idea what is ahead or how you will have an impact. Try to imagine YOURSELF being the recipient of Random Acts of Kindness from many strangers. The moment is bound to be special and profound.

On Saturday, Oct 16, some of us from TEAM-TRI SISTAHOOD (Jane, Jill, Emma, and Tamar) will be running in the Baltimore Running Festival (5K) - carrying a banner inscribed with your INSPIRATIONS for CHRIS.

Should you is how you can be a part of PAYING IT FORWARD - to Chris:

DONATION and/or INSPIRATION: whatever you can give. We will collect all donations for Chris (to help defray medical expenses) and present to him in person on Saturday Oct 16. PLUS, please take a moment to Write an INSPIRATION that we will carry during our 5K run...and present to Chris as well. Send your inspirations via email HERE -- or simply write use the COMMENT box at the bottom of this POST. In case our paths don't collide this week, contact me if you prefer to mail a check.

Team TRI-SISTAHOOD will present the donations / inspirations to Chris shortly after the Baltimore 5K run on Saturday Oct 16. Even if you cannot make a donation, please take a moment to WRITE a brief inspiration (yes, you can remain anonymous) by POSTING A COMMENT at the bottom of this blog site. Thanks in advance for all you do!

Thank you for making a difference and for PAYING IT FORWARD - To Chris.
You rock.

Jane Wadsworth

Saturday, October 2, 2010

EA (Endorphins Anonymous) - October 2010

10/1/2010 - Remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole

run on the harbor promenade 3.3 mi 00:33 10:00 pace
Had to get in early morning run before we set sail to Annapolis. it windy out here!!!

now time for elliptical 3 mi 00:30
Looks like it is too windy to depart for a sail right time to get in workout fix #2 - a quickie on the elliptical at the Merritt...gotta rush back to the boat now - we're leaving for Annapolis!

swim at the MAC in Harbor East 00:45
walk to harbor east and back 1.5 mi
Had to get to the pool by was a lovely (and windy) day for exercise.
You shouldn't be reading that I'm doing more exercise...BUT...we tried to sail...and it was gale force we got to Ft. McHenry and I wanted to double reef the main. But the reef lines got tangled up...and we couldn't untangle 'em in gale force we motored back to the marina. was too much winds to dock on the we did an emergency landing on the P-dock. Now obviously this has a lot to do with my swim workout. Since we're still HERE in Baltimore...just a dock or 2 away from where we started...I might as well cram another activity into my workout fix. The Merritt pool is closed while they "bubble it" I have a free pass to the MAC. It's a real upscale club here....and the best part is that the pool is EMPTY. Had my own luxury lane for 45 minutes. yes...this is my world....pretty scary!


hoisted the main sail 00:10:00
This is massively exhausting. Our power tools crapped being "deck girl" I had to hoist the main sail by hand....all 56 feet of sail. OMG

run around the Annapolis Naval Academy... 4 mi 00:40 10:00 pace
Sailed to Annapolis...hopped on a water taxi....jumped to shore...and off on a run thru the Naval Academy. Most delightful!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Skate of the Union - 2010

With a focus on triathlons, the tri sista hood has not put skates on in nearly a year.

3 weeks ago, Jilly and I decided to dust off, and lace up the Bont skate boots.... Yes, there was boot pain. Our feet were screaming. Yes, we moved slowly. Yes, old ladies walked faster than we skated. Yes, we wobbled and bobbled. Yet, after only a few miles of very little forward propulsion - Jill looked at me and said "I think you're ready for Skate of the Union". Jill can sell ice to Eskimos.

The Skate of the Union is an annual inline skate race - where East Coast and local amateur speed skaters...mix with the elite pro speed skaters. i.e. these folks move FAST. I had to agree with Jill. We're untrained and unprepared. Perfect condition to step into this world of fast skaters.

Only one problem. The "we" in the Tri-SisterHood became "me". My tri-sista hood refused to look silly on wheels with me. Isn't that what sista's are for? No problem. I had a plan. Don't fall....and get to the finish line before the boots dig holes into my feet.

I signed up for the half marathon - which meant 12 laps on a 1.1 mile track in Chantilly, VA. I started in the back of the pack and would spend the first lap making sure I didn't tumble. Within the first 1/4 mile - I discovered a new group of skate friends for the day. Meet Team New Jersey. Team New Jersey - is a group of 3 young skaters (teenagers?), and 2 skaters closer to mid-life -- draft buddies Rose and Barry. We skated lap after lap in a lovely draft pack. We changed leads every half mile, and everyone did their job pulling the pack along. What a delight - pack skating and a friendly vibe!

Somewhere around lap 6, we latched onto the tail end of a larger pack of skaters. At the end of this pack - was a tall man in a navy blue shirt. I HAD to draft him. He blocked ALL of the wind...and suddenly skating became effortless. All we (my new friends from New Jersey) needed to do -- was to stay right behind the tall man in blue....

On the sidelines, tri-sistas Tami and Jill are doing an incredible job as support crew. Tami took most of the pictures on her camera. I think they came out nice. Tami never downloads her digital pictures to the computer, she likes to keep them in her camera at all times. So you'll just have to "visualize". Jill was busy watching the skaters. A speed skater in a well organized pace line is a beautiful thing to watch. Who can blame her?

By now, I can't wait to be finished - so the TriSistas can take off on our next athletic activity. But, first things first. I need to finish. It is now the last lap - and the large group of pack skaters we latched onto at Lap 6 -- crossed their finish line. They were one lap ahead of us - Team New Jersey. I took the lead at this point - and never let go. I needed to fast as possible. Boot pain was taking over, and it was time to end this skating experiment. Rose and I coasted over the finish line - and I wasted no time removing my pink skate boots.

Reunited with Team TriSistaHood - Tami, Jill and I took off for a 40 minute run in the burbs of Chantilly. Being a Sunday morning - the roads are empty. Jill wanted to swim in a man-made pond filled with large lily pads in the middle of corporate America, but Tami and I restrained her.
We couldn't lose any more time. Our thoughts had turned to food. It's time for treats.

View more pictures!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

EA (Endorphins Anonymous) September 2010 Workout Fix

rowing machine 00:10:00
I think it's appropriate that I work on rowing today....while this tropical storm is dumping buckets of water.

Elliptical workout inside... 3 mi 00:30
while it's raining "men" outside...I'm busy sweating my butt off on this Elliptical machine that wants to send you into orbit.

Fast Trak weight workout 00:30
Amazing to think I am now into weightlifting. Yikes!

swim enroute to the Merritt ...
not really swimming...but the water levels are so high along the Canton promenade....that good thing I was wearing boat shoes...cuz I had to wade thru it. It's not nice water either...filled with trash...and more things I don't want to think about.

run along promenade in Canton 3.3 mi 00:32 09:41 pace
Air temps are perfect for an early mornin' run.

swim at the MLK pool in Silve... 1800 yd 00:45
Had to travel to Silver just HAD to make a visit to the local pool. Most delightful.

Fast Trak at the Merritt 00:20
Worked the Merritt Fast Trak weight added some AB workouts

bike at the Merritt 4.5 mi 00:15:00 18.0mph pace
Burning time while waiting for Paddy to finish his weight workout.

elli away at the Merritt 3 mi 00:30
Picked a new elliptical machine and get a much more robust workout. Drenched at the end!

weight liftin' 00:30
whew....these do-dads are heavy!

More on the Elli! 3 mi 00:30
Elli is fitness drug of choice....while waiting for the POOL to come back to life.

outdoor pool at the Merritt 00:15:00
This is the last day of outdoor pool swim. The Merritt Pool will be closed they can enclose the pool in a bubble. Sad day cuz it marks the end of summer in my book...and I'm not ready! Air is cooler, and rain is coming down harder - and only the hard-core swimmers are out today. Swam just long enough to think about pointy toes, wide shoulders...and closer point of entry....and will call it a day. Well maybe not "a day"....the day isn't over yet...and I can always go back for round 2 of swimming ;-)

work up a sweat while watchin... 3 mi 00:30
After I woke up super early to do grocery shopping....and get prepped for a sailing adventure....the weather decided to play with our plans. So, off to the gym at 8AM in a light rain...for an indoor workout on the elliptical. Stared at TV eye candy....and voila - it's time to end the elliptical and hop in the pool

swim at outdoor Merritt Pool 2500 m 01:25
I realize this is borderline excessive...but that dang video has my "little people" giving me all sorts of swim advice. First I swam for an hour in the AM.....then returned to the gym after helping Emma & Mike move to Baltimore...for another 25 min. I've made a few technical decisions here....will just make TWEAKS to my kick (point toes...) and stick with my 2 beat kick even tho it is quite large. If I point narrows the kick to more streamlined. Second...point of entry with hands is slightly wider than shoulder length....this seems to prevent me from over rotating. It also seems to improve my breathing since I can't roll over the side for a long the stroke becomes more natural. And last...point of entry is just in front of goggles....and this seems to help my propulsion. I'm just gonna work on this for awhile. It doesn't tire me out...and maybe eventually it will look "better" when I shoot the next video. Yup. You read it hear. I'm sport technique obsessive. I admit ;-) BTW....I'm also working on accentuating the positive instead of just picking apart areas that need work. Positives include: 1...I can be in lanes with other swimmers and not stress out anymore 2..My breathing is so much more relaxed and rhythmic that I no longer think about it 3...I don't think twice about being in the deep end 4...I love to swim....I never used to. 5...I love working on technique...and with this sport I have plenty to work on ;-)

30 min workout at the Merritt 3 mi 00:30
Worked up a sweat without stressing the joints....

swim at outdoor pool at the Merritt 1800 m 01:00
Swam for an hour...and getting very very frustrated. Went back to basics, and trying to tweak my kick so that anyone nearby won't get hurt. A pregnant lady asked if she could share a lane with me...and I told her it wasn't in her best interest. Trying to get a flutter kick going...but it is sooooo much effort....this can't be rite. Back to studying my Total Immersion video.

15 minutes lifting "things" 00:15:00
While the 70 year old bionic man trainer was busy pushing on Paddy....I did some upper body weights...

swim at Merritt outdoor pool 2000 m 01:00
I'm thinkin' all is good and I'm improving my freestyle....until Paddy took video. OMG. Pretty horrified at what I saw. The kick looks just like my ol' sidestroke kick....and I waaaay overrotate. I thought I was making improvments??? But no. Back to the drawing board....and I'll be studying swim technique in a big way tonight.

Fast Trak weight workout at t... 00:35
Did not feel like lifting weights...but once Paddy and I got started - it wasn't too bad. Fast Trak trainer Adam was there to help motivate - and we ended up having a great workout

swim at Merritt pool 1000 m 00:30
The air is brisk...but the water is warm and refreshing. Grabbing as much time in the water before the pool becomes "enclosed" for the winter in a big bubble.

swim at the outdoor pool at t... 1800 m 01:05
Who knows how many meters...just a guess. Having too much fun breathing, rotating and pretending I know how to swim freestyle. No one in the entire pool except me. Whassup with that? A little chilly outside...but pool water temp is 83. Gotta luv it. Feels like rehab after Sunday's skate.

Skate of the Union 13.2 mi
Great day for a skate on a flat 1.1 mile track!

swim at the Merritt outdoor pool 500 m
hallelujah back in the pool. lane to myself. water heated to 83 degrees. Burning off those calories I packed on in Michigan.

elliptical at the Merritt 4 mi 00:40 this point...I would rather be taking a nap....but somehow I ended up on this elliptical machine

Fast Trak weight training at ... 00:25
Workout back at the Merritt with Paddy. After eating 5 million Italian calories while visiting Paddy's relatives in Michigan.....I think I need to triple up on todays workout.

oh yeah...need to do some ska... 00:25
Oh yeah. Maybe I should skate. Entered the Skate of the Union race (which is tomorrow)....and I haven't trained for this at all. Ignored my skates all week during our road trip to Michigan. hmmmm.... Jill and I decided to just do S-curves in the school parking lot near BWI loop. All slow motion. What fun. I think I"m ready to race now! (not)

bike at the BWI loop 16 mi
Aaaaahhh.....back to Baltimore MD. Arrived at the parking lot at BWI...and it was nearly full by 7:30AM. People exercise here. East coast. It's good to be "home"....and I'm thrilled to be back exercising with tri-sis Fluffy.

along 18ish mile road in Troy... 4 mi 00:40 10:00 pace
Yikes. Detroit. Troy... Whatever. People need more endorphins here. Far too much driving in suburbia USA. Go Pistons. Miss boat and city life. Had to run 4 miles along a huge roadway 6 lanes. Almost felt like Boston Street ;-)

Swim at the Troy Michigan Sen... 00:50
DIscovered a pool here in Troy. It's for senior citizens. I think I'll blend rite in. Shared a lane with an older gent...then a lady just jumped in the middle of our lane. It was quite curious. She thought it was circle swim. Fortunately another lane opened up....and I left her to do her circles. I need more exercise. Too much food. I've gained 150 pounds....

run some suburb in Troy Michigan 3.5 mi 00:35 10:00 pace
I miss my gym and tri-sistas big time. Ran in every neighborhood street....did not see any other runners. Everyone is either in their homes...or in cars. Should have run longer to max out endorphins...but Paddy's relatives wanted to FEED us again. They are Italian. No shortage of food. I'm turning into a puffball.

swim @ MLK public pool in Silver S... 00:40
Arrived at pool at 6AM....then sat at edge of lane with all the other early birds waiting for life guard to show. Got in 40 glorious swim dorphins....then raced off to spend 10 hours in a car drive to Detroit. Motor city. Cars galore. Peeps don't exercise here. They drive everywhere. Yikes!

Sun 9/12/2010
Elliptical at the Merritt Gym 5 mi 00:50
The rain moved my workout indoors...was hoping after our elliptical workout that Paddy would join me in the pool....but someone "forgot" their bathing suit. OK OK...I already did 55 min of pool swim today...but ready to swim more if the opportunity presented itself ;-) Jus sayn.

Fast Trak weight lifting at t... 00:20
Met with Fast Trak expert Paddy...for a circuit workout at the gym.

Swim in the rain at the Merri... 1800 m 00:55
In all honesty - I have no idea how many laps I did. Your guess is as good as mine. All I know, is when I finally stopped to check my said 55 minutes. Seems like that should do for the day! Swimming is pure joy....and breathing is getting better each day. Hands are super relaxed when they enter the water....and I'm getting the breath rotation to a minimum....which makes it even easier!! who woulduv thunk?

Sat 9/11/2010
skate the smooth side of the BWI loop 10 mi
Holy sweet molasses. It doesn't take long for mega-endorphins to kick in. Skating is still a HIGH-10 moment...and Fluffy and I were headed to a place where the pavement is ultra bumps....and no cyclists allowed. Putting on the skate gear is it's own exercise adventure. First apply the bandages...cover up the tender spots....relace the boots about 3 times....put on protective gear...lock the car twice...and we're ready to go. But once out on the trail....the skate vibe was delicious!

Bike at the BWI loop 16 mi 01:00 16.0mph pace
Met with Fluffy at 7:30AM. It was a little brisk (60 degrees)....and since my bod is acclimated to 90 degrees....the first 3 miles were a bit chilly. Once we started the anthill climb into the belly of the airport....the goosebumps disappeared....and beads of sweat are everywhere. By the time we returned to the parking lot...there were no parking spaces....but we're not leaving. Time for a skate workout....

Fri 9/10/2010

cleaning the boat 07:00
I can't understand why there isn't a fitness workout category for "cleaning". It is very tiring. Spent 7 hours cleaning our boat. Worked up a good sweat.

Swam at the Merritt pool 1800 m 00:50
this is all very exciting. swimming. I'm now swimming. freestyle. me. moi. who woulduvthunkit. it's all coming together...after 2 years of obsession. oh sure, I have lots of room to improve....but it's comin' together baby!

apres Fast Trak at the Merritt 2 mi 00:20
Just a routine elli workout....would have preferred to just hop in the pool...but thought I needed something more...

Fast Trak at the Merritt 00:30
Wow...I'm lifting weights now. Not many mind you. Just a few. 30 min on the Fast Trak with Ms. Maria the trainer. She tried to get me to do some funcky ab body refused. All is good...

Thu 9/9/2010

Swam at the Merritt outdoor pool 00:52
brrrr. There is a reason why I'm the only one at the pool at the crack of dawn. 50 something degrees outside. Water felt cool. After a few laps - the swim was glorious. Increased the percent of freestyle to sidefish....and the breathing is relaxed, the stroke is relaxed...and I'm even starting to take less time to INHALE. Swim is becoming more rhythmic and going faster and faster...without trying. Yikes - maybe I can be a swimmer???

Wed 9/8/2010

skate at BWI airport 6 mi 00:30
mini workout on skates....not because of boot pain....not because I was tired....had to rush to the DMV and renew my driver license....and couldn't wait to get in the looooooooooooooooooooooog DMV line of peeps. Anyway - the skate was short and sweet...getting my "form" back...will do more tomorrow

swim at the Merritt outdoor pool 1100 m 00:30
Enjoying swimming in the outdoor pool...unfortunately the vitamin D at the pool will end at the end of the month. Working on my 'slice' - and it is making a huge difference in speed. Still 50-50 free & sidefish...but not for much longer. The speed difference is delicious ;-ooooo

Tue 9/7/2010
pool workout at the Merritt 1300 m 00:37

Finally...the pool is rid of all the Labor Day peeps! Swam 26 glorious a lane all by oh me oh my.... weights???

That's right....weights. I never do this. Probably should. Just don't really like it. But...time to see what all the "Fast Trak" talk is at the gym - via Paddy. Personal Trainer Adam was on call - so he took me thru an upper body workout. Upper bod is now sore. Also worked on the balance ball thingie. Wanted to test my skate balance - and sure enough ....I can do the balance ball just fine. Wish I was skating today -- too much work (sigh)

Mon 9/6/2010

Skated a whooping 4 miles AFT... 4 mi

This is really just an exercise of standing up....balancing....gabbing endlessly with my tri-sista partner.....and making it back to the car without breaking apart scabs forming at the ankle bones. Skating is painful....but also one of my fav exercises...

bike at BWI loop with 3 - 1 m... 17 mi

Fluffy (Jill) is back in town - so my recovery days are now a distant memory. It seems like my speedometer is no longer working. What's with the low numbers? Doesn't matter - temperatures are delightful for Labor Day.

at the Merritt with Paddy 4 mi 00:40

Paddy is a workout machine - so we met at the gym. I was actually hoping to hop in the pool for a leisurely swim...but nooooooooooooooo. Everyone who is off work for Labor Day weekend - is in the pool. No lanes spent time on the elliptical instead.

Sat 9/4/2010
at the Merritt Gym 5 mi 00:50

Should have exercised outside - as finally less humid conditions. BUT...pressed for time since Paddy wanted to go headed to the Merritt for a quick workout. 50 min on the elliptical...520 calories burned. Gotta go find me a treat now ;-)

Fri 9/3/2010

at the Merritt Pool -- where ... 40 m 00:55

Fantabulous. There is nothing quite like a glorious swim in the pool!

on the waterfront promenade i... 3 mi 00:29 09:39 pace

Got out early before steamy humid temps showed up. Still drenched after 3 miles...but it felt good.

Wed 9/1/2010

swim at the Merritt Pool 750 m

I think I'm tired. As I look back thru my logs - it appears I've skipped my "recovery day". The lifeguard at the gym commented that he sees me running, working out at the gym and swimming nearly every day....and wondered how I do it. (I think he really wanted to say "at your age" but he held himself back ;-) My left shoulder is starting to hurt. Not sure if this is from skating position (my left shoulder was trashed during multiple skate crashes)...or if it is complaining about doing the freestyle. In the past...never used the left arm on my funcky sidefish stroke. Either way....I'm in need of a recovery day.

spin bike at the Merritt Gym 5 mi

as if I didn't get enuf at the BWI airport. (sigh) Went to the Merritt with Paddy - and waited for him to get "measured". I biked. The trainer told him he could cut back on his workout. WHAT???? I don't think so.

cycling workout in the wee ho... 15 mi

Met Jill at 6:30AM. Well, not really. She arrived at 7AM. She slept in. We had to make up time and ride fast cuz she had a plane to catch. It was hot...yet a glorious morning for a fast bike. Maybe we're weren't really that fast. It doesn't matter. It's all good.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

EA (Endorphins Anonymous) August 2010 Workout Fix

Tue 8/31/2010

pool swim at the Merritt 650 m 00:15:00
Swimming is sooooooooo luxurious now that I have finally learned how to breathe. Duh! I'm not even trying for speed....but I now do 13 laps in the same time it used to take me to do 10.

spin bike at the health club 6 mi 00:20 18.0mph pace
met up with Paddy at the Merritt - and decided to kill time and kill my legs all together.

Skate 12 miles at Gunpowder Falls State Park 12 mi 00:51 14.1mph pace
The water looked absolutely inviting, calm, not a ripple...but I was not there to swim today. There is a lovely 1.2 mile road loop in the Hammerman section of Gunpowder Falls State Park - perfect for skate training for SOTU. Not that I've committed to SOTU... Jus Say'n. The terrain is mostly flat...and the road surface is TOO GOOD. 10 laps =12 miles. Working on FORM and technique. Shortly after the 1st lap my form deteriorated. Yikes! Partly due to massive ankle pain and rubbage. When will skate manufacturers figure out that a comfy boot might encourage more folks to stick with the sport? I digress. Will dig out the heat gun when I am done. Anyway, despite my deteriorating skate form...I managed to (a) not fall (b) hear a heel carve (c) keep my weight back (d) pass bikers (ok...they were very old people...ok) (e) finish before it got to a zillion degrees and (e) enjoy the whole experience big time. Dang, I love to skate. If I could only get rid of the foot pain.

Mon 8/30/2010

Pool at the Merritt on Boston St in Canton (2700m 1hr 20 min)
An hour and 20 min in the pool MIGHT seem a bit excessive - but I was doing a research project - so I HAD TO BE IN THE WATER for a long time. My research project is to see how long I can last doing more and more freestyle by learning to breathe properly.'s conclusive. I can swim a LONG time -- now that the breathing issue seems to be put to bed. Would have gone to 2 hours...but my skin was shriveling up. This is all very exciting. 54 laps total today. By far my record swim of the year...and I'm swimming faster than b4 (even tho speed is just a secondary byproduct rite now)....Paddy showed up - and insisted I needed to be done with swimming today. OK Paddy....can't wait for tomorrow's swim tho ;-)

Sun 8/29/2010

SKATED !!! 6 whopping miles 6 mi
It has been ONE year since I put these skates on...and the pressure points in my skate boots are still there! Despite the fact my feet hurt from boot rubbage....Jill and I had a most glorious skate thru the BWI woods...and along the flats. We decided we weren't ready for other challenges...such as bumpy wooden bridges....hills....navigating around sand patches (Sheldon??? I thought you were keeping this clean?)....but it was a good start. Realized how much I miss skating...but not the boot pressure points. Every now and then I think I heard a heel carve...or maybe not. Delightful!

2 bike loops around BWI airport 21 mi
Just delightful! Started at 7AM...briefly considered doing the much more challenging terrain at the IG course...but decided WHY? So opted for the BWI loop double instead. Many bikers must have felt the same - as it was busy busy! Not sure how long this took...didn't look at our watches and Jill and I blathered the entire time!

Sat 8/28/2010
pool swim at the Merritt 550 m
ooooh....the pool water is bliss compared to Gunpowder River. I needed this...just to feel as if I've decontaminated. Wanted to also test drive my new breathing methods...and sure enuf - they still are working. I'm increasing the % of % sidefish I up to 60% freestyle...without feeling any sense of being winded. It's a beautiful thing. I promise...done working out for today ;-)

elliptical at the Merritt Gym 3 mi 00:33
Paddy met me at the gym...for one more exercise adventure today. I am a bit pooped...having already swum in a cesspool...and 45 min on bike...but if Paddy wants to workout...I refuse to dog out. (no offense to dogs ;-)

bike at BWI loop and 1mile ex... 11 mi 00:42 15.7mph pace
With my belly full of a spinach omelette from the Diner...I met Jill at the BWI loop for a brief bike workout. I'm not sure if my legs have turned to dry rot...but it sure seemed to take a LONG TIME getting up the mile extension into the airport belly. I guess there was a headwind. Yeah...that's what it was! Anyway, it was good to be out on the bikes... Jill forgot to do her tire spin I think she did the workout with her brakes on.

swim at Gunpowder River 1200 m 00:42
Not sure why I am still swimming in this cesspool....but the IG ladies wanted to do an open swim workout - so I caved and joined 'em. The waves were a bit much for my ability...I swam sidefish in one direction...and sputtered on my back in the opposite. The current felt strong...the water was slimy...and the water temps were cool. WTF? Tami and I swam together....kindof. She started getting dragged by the current OUT from I had to blow bubbles and yell to her at the same time -- "come back to shore Tam". I have to say the best part of this swim adventure...was getting out of the water - and having breakfast at the diner. Jill and her gang of mermaids (Eliott, Tricia, Laura and Patty) - swam the same distance in half the time.

Fri 8/27/2010
Bike on mile loop at MLK in Silver Spring 10 mi
This is more of a TREK test than training...but I did enjoy the workout ;-) The TREK folks seem to think that I don't know how to ride my my plan is to test ride 2 trek bikes today - and see if I can recreate the dreaded bike wobble at high speeds. I tested my old Trek 1.2 bike,,,,and Trek Madone 4.7. Also swapped front wheels between the 2 bikes to see if this has any impact on downhill performance. Test inconclusive today...couldn't get going fast enough to create a road wobble in any situation. Not that I'm looking to be thrown from my bike....but it sure would be nice to solve this bike problemo. More testing will occur...

pool at the Merritt 1800 m 00:47
Getting closer to figuring out how to breathe while swimming. Pretty silly...right? Not at all like land activities...but here is todays discovery. (actually...a continuation of yesterdays discovery!). Exhale gently underwater. Don't worry...water won't fly up your nose if you exhale gently. Never quite grasped this b4. This is the main reason why I couldn't freestyle for any length of time...I exhaled so forceful....there was no way I could inhale enuf air back....and voila...outta breath. But a different story. Exhale gentle...don't actually get rid of all the air down to your toes...and OMG...I could swim forever. ByGollyMissMolly there is hope. It was absolutely effortless and exhilarating ....could have kept swimming for hours....but had to go to work (sigh)

Thu 8/26/2010
salt water pool at the Merritt Gym 800 m
Gotta love the slightly cooler weather - as there is no lack of empty lanes. Love swimming in a pool. Swam 16 laps, half side-fish, and half-freestyle. Making little freestyle discoveries which are very exciting for a novice like moi. Such as, if I don't exhale like I'm trying to blow out birthday candles....then I don't get so friggin tired. Feeling much more relaxed AND doing my freestyle in the deepend (which I never ventured to do b4). Baby goal is to be a may take awhile ;-) Paddy joined me for this fun. He is now up to 12 laps. Go Paddy!

Wed 8/25/2010
pool swim at the Merritt 550 m
forcing myself to swim half the distance doing freestyle. Wow...I'm lots faster....and lots more tired.

workout at Merritt w/Paddy 00:40
30 on elliptical and 10 on bike. Paddy avoided the lady who had him doing Jumping Jacks yesterday. No more jumping jacks for Paddy....

Canton / waterfront promenade 3.1 mi 00:31 10:00 pace
back to running with my ipod -- all is good! Temperature is perfect - no humidity. What a delight!

Tue 8/24/2010
pool swim at the Merritt Gym 00:40
Temps in the 60's - and no one wanted to swim in the outdoor pool....except me. Got in 40 min - unknown number of laps - felt great

Mon 8/23/2010
bike & treadmill at the Merritt 00:45
Workin' out with Paddy and dockmates Rick and Linda at the gym. Relaxing workout after IG weekend...

Sun 8/22/2010 Iron Girl Triathlon - Columbia MD

Centennial Lake - Iron Girl Race 1100 m 00:35
Swim wave started at 6:55AM...Tami & I swam together - we stayed on the far outside perimeter of the swim course just to be sure we missed the hundreds of swimmers. This meant we did lots of extra mileage out there - but hey - it's all good. Nobody swam into us or over us. I think we even passed someone...or maybe that was a floating log. I dunno. There was a very large wake in the beginning of our swim wave - and we found out later the reason why. Jill. She was zooming along at a 26 minute clip. The wake nearly drowned the rest of us ;-)

Centennial Park and Beyond - Iron Girl Bike Course 17.5 mi 01:06 15.9mph pace
Tami and I left the transition area rite after the hustle up the hill and start pedaling for the bike part of the Iron Girl race. This is when the clouds let go of all their water...and it poured for the first 20 minutes. Being somewhat nervous with my already malfunctioning bike (morphs into the bike noodle over 25mph now!)....I took it real slow. If only the race was ALL uphill - I would be in heaven. But no...what goes up...eventually comes down....and for the first 20 min...I braked that bike silly on the downhills. Very sad. Eventually, the rain gods let up....and my comfort zone with a wet slick bike course improved. Lost Tami in the crowds during the 2nd uphill we both had to work IronGirl solo from this point.

Centennial Park - Iron Girl Run 3.4 mi 00:35 10:17 pace
Usually I run with my iPOD listening to my fav 2 tunes over and over (so sad)...but today during the IronGirl run - we had to leave our music behind. I kept hearing someone breathe very loudly near me....oh my....that's me?? Never realized I'm so noisy breathing, as I'm usually drowning out the noise with my iPOD. In any event, my goal was to just keep running -- and get to the finish line as fast as possible. Not because I'm trying for any overall time....but because I just wanna be done. Finally, 35 minutes of running put me at the IronGirl finish line. 2hrs 22min. A whopping 20 min improvement over 2 years ago. Still room for more improvement - but glad to finish the swim without having thoughts of drowning...and to finish the bike without a bad case of road rash....and to be able to cheer on the remaining sista-hood out there! Jill rocked with a 2hr 16min finish....Tami 2hr 29min...and ByGollyMissHolly in under 3 hours. It was an amazing day of celebration....but right now I'm thinking of getting a nap.

Fri 8/20/2010
to the Marina and back 00:10:00
This is a whopper workout...I needed to clean my bike to prep it for race day - which meant a walk to the marina and back to get the cleaner and lube from the car. I probably should take a nap now.

Thu 8/19/2010
at the Merritt pool 400 m
This was primarily the "wash cycle" after swimming in contaminated water at Gunpowder River. And it was delightful

at the Merritt 00:15:00
Seems like I rarely ride my bike outdoors....thanks to the heat and humidity.

elliptical @ The Merritt 00:30
I had the pleasure of watching Paddy and Rick do a circuit training on the Fast Trak (which looked kindof hard!)...while I bounced along on the elliptical

Gunpowder River 1200 m 00:35
Just a few days b4 IronGirl - and needed a good vibe in the open water swim practice. Swim buddy Jill and I briefly read the warning post at the shoreline. Something about severe water contamination...b careful w/open wounds...and better not swallow any of the water. It was a nose scrunching moment...but we got in anyway. I think the Perdue chicken farms got flooded upstream. The river is filled with feathers...and more things I don't want to think about. Jill swam laps around me....I got tangled in seaweed...and managed to finish 1200 despite many thoughts about the nasty water.

Wed 8/18/2010
canton waterfront promenade 1 mi 00:08:05 08:05 pace
ran in the rain as fast as my wittle wegs would go....pretending that a 70 year old bionic man was about to pass me. Clocked my fastest time since high school (ok....I ran distance and wasn't very fast in HS ;-)

elliptical at the merritt gym 00:40
Rain sent me indoors (as if I'm going to melt). Thought I was doing well...until a 70 year old man who appeared to be bionic hopped on the elliptical next to me - at the maxed out setting. humbled once again by my elders

Tue 8/17/2010
to the Safeway for food 0.1 mi
it was really quite exhilarating in the 90 degree heat and humidity (not) - but we needed some kabobs for din din...i.e a trip to the safeway. Paddy and I walked down the A-dock...across the wooden pedestrian bridge that is falling apart....and crossed Boston St traffic in rush hour....which meant a mad-dash over 4 lanes of traffic. Does this count as exercise?

merritt pool 1400 m
the winds looked perfect (light) for an outdoor swim at Gunpowder Falls State Park - but my swim buddy (Paddy) wasn't in the mood for this adventure - so we opted for a workout at the gym. Paddy has taken to the Fast Trak equipment - and is showing me all sorts of weight resistance exercises using pulleys and stuff...but I made a beeline for the pool instead. Did 29 laps with a goal to not get winded. That part worked out well - I wasn't winded...but I think I looked like a manatee out there. Extremely slow...floating on the surface...barnacles everywhere (ok - maybe not the barnacles)...and not a lot of propulsion. Paddy joined me for my last 10 laps. He's a workout machine, so I had to pick up the pace on the last 10 laps ;-)

Mon 8/16/2010
pool swim at the Merritt 00:40
I brought my new fancy smanchy watch to help me count laps...but then I forgot to press the button each time I did a I have no idea how many laps I did. The one time I did remember to press the lap button on the watch....I nearly drowned - so decided knowing the number of laps wasn't that important. Some dude hopped in my lane after 30 min...couldn't he see I needed the whole lane to myself to do the side stroke? Had to reduce my kick after that....didn't want to cause him bodily injury

stationary bike at Merritt 00:15:00
It would be nice to bike outside...but temps too hot. A/C is lovely in the Merritt Gym and when I click on the little FAN button on the stationary bike (Linda showed me this feature!)-- my hairdo is flyin ;-) Paddy joined me at the gym - and he was busy outdoing himself on the elliptical machine with arms and legs going in every direction. That Paddy.

Canton-Fells Point waterfront... 2.6 mi 00:26 10:00 pace
run started early 7:30am - so it wasn't to beastly hot yet. Pace felt good for an ol'fart. Asked Paddy to join me on the bike...but he needed coffee

Sun 8/15/2010

Gunpowder Falls 1100 m
at Gunpowder Falls State Park - winds from southeast - huge waves - could only swim in 1 direction. Tami and I did water aerobics against the waves. It was really raucus. WTF???? Who's idea was it anyway to swim in this sh@#? (did someone say "Jill")?

Gunpowder Falls parking lot 00:10:00
ran around the parking lot cuz we didn't actually swim that much in the tsnaumi Gunpowder Falls. Jill, Elliott and Tricia had no problems swimming both directions....That's because they are pros. Every time I looked over at Tami she was being tossed around in the waves like a little cork. Tami and I thought the swimming was crazy. Nobody was real keen on running afterwards. I had to give Jill the stinkeye, and Tami eventually caved. Ok - so we did 3 measly laps around the parking lot to make up for the lack of quality swimming in the brown lake


Iron Girl Course 3.4 mi 00:36 10:35 pace
Now, if you just look at the may appear kindof slow, but I'm hoping that I'm still just figuring out how to use my new watch with the timer. Maybe I started it before we actually ran? or maybe I didn't stop it in time? I'm guessing that any slow factor should get blamed on the new watch.

Iron Girl Course 17.5 mi 01:03 16.7mph pace
slow on downhills - Ms. Madone still gives me road wobbles. I don't think we can be friends again until Ms. Madone gets over herself on those dang downhills. Jill and Tami were just moments behind. Jill had this brainy idea that we should all go at our own pace? What fun is in that? Had no one to talk to or to complain about my lack of oxygen on the uphills? Need to have a talk with Jill about her ideas.


stationary bike 00:20
more workin out with Paddy. Is this really my husband? He is kickin my butt at the gym. I'm already thinking about my follow.

elliptical 00:30
workout with Paddy at the Merritt. He's a workout machine these days. I think Paddy has morphed into a Jock.

Merritt pool 1100 m 00:33
side stroked like a mother...Jill and I attempted Gunpower Falls - but water too turbulent - so ended up in the pool. It has finally dawned on me (being a boater) to check the winds and wave direction before we trek up to Gunpowder Falls. Any wind from the southeast - is gonna be trouble. And in my case, any wind at all creating an itsy bitsy ripple out there is no good either. Such a whiner.

stationary bike at Merritt 00:55
Hopped in my car to drive the the BWI airport for a bike workout with Jill at 6:30AM (i'm not awake at this hour)...only to find out it would have been helpful to check the weather first. The moment we poured....and poured....OK already...I get it. It's not going to stop raining. Returned back to B'more...and took the bike workout inside to the Merritt. It's not the same...but will have to do on a rainy day.

Swim 1500 m 00:45
Pool workout at Merritt. For those of you who KNOW how to swim using strokes like the freestyle - or something that "normal" swimmers do...this is pretty slow time. But, for me and my piti side isn't too bad....ok jus say'n. I know - someday I'll do freestyle for more than 100m....and then maybe not. Time will tell

run on promenade on canton waterfront 2 mi
pokey slow. heat zaps my energy. only 2 miles and I'm drenched - need to run early early in b'more. Forgot to check time time before I left the boat so I don't know how long I ran. Listened to my iPod with a whopping 2 tunes installed (Love Shack and Amadeus)...and they repeat over and over. I don't know why I like running to these tunes so much....but they have a good running beat

Sunday, August 22, 2010

2010: Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon

Headline News: Iron Girl Triathlon Team Sistahood completed the journey on Sunday 8/22/2010 (swim, bike, run) and are now a bunch of Iron Girls... (yes, it rained...thank you for asking!). Woo hoo!!!

And, for those of you who want it is: Iron Girl is a women's only sprint triathlon, held every August in Columbia MD. 2500 triathletes sign up each year - to test their stamina, determination and grit - for an event that can take as little as "just over an hour" for the PRO' somewhere over 4 hours for those who want more time exercising.

Leading up to the Iron Girl sprint TRI - is endless training....and eating....and more training. It is an all consuming activity. You about your next training event...get hungry just thinking about it....turn the smallest detail into a training activity...

Our training looks something like this:

8/10/2010: 2 mile run on the Canton/Baltimore waterfront: 95 degrees. In dire need of air conditioning. Note to self....don't run in this heat. Listened to my iPod with a whopping 2 tunes installed (Love Shack and Amadeus). They repeat over and over. Someday I'll add more songs to the run collection

8/15/2010: Open water swim at Gunpower River: winds from southeast - huge waves - could only swim in 1 direction -- WITH the waves. Tami (who is all of 78 pounds...wet) and I did water aerobics against the waves. WTF???? Who's idea was it anyway to swim in this sh@#? (did someone say "Jill")? Jill, Elliot and Tricia had no problems swimming both directions in the tsunami....That's because they are pros. Every time I looked over at Tami she was being tossed around in the waves like a little cork. After that "swim" (or whatever you call what we did in the water!) I wanted to go and run. You know, just be cuz. Nobody else thought this was a good idea. I gave Jill the stinkeye, and Tami eventually caved. We did 3 measly laps around the parking lot to make up for the lack of quality swimming in the brown lake. After all of this nonsense...we headed to the diner to devour omelette's and short stacks. Food makes everything better.

8/16/2010: Pool swim. I brought my new fancy smanchy watch to help me count laps...but then I forgot to press the button each time I did a lap. The one time I did remember to press the lap button on the watch....I sucked down a lot of water - so decided knowing the number of laps wasn't that important. A man hopped in my lane after 30 min...He must be new to the pool. With my ultra wide kick...rarely does a man dare to jump in my lane and risk bodily injury...

8/19/2010: Last chance open swim workout at Gunpowder River: Just a few days b4 IronGirl - and needed a good vibe in the open water swim practice. Swim buddy Jill and I briefly read the warning post at the shoreline. Something about severe water contamination...b careful w/open wounds...and better not swallow any of the water - or you will notice a 3rd eye growing on your forehead. We should have headed back to our cars...but we got in the water anyway. I think the Purdue chicken farms got flooded upstream. The river is filled with feathers...and more things I don't want to think about. Jill swam laps around me....I got tangled in seaweed...and managed to finish 1200 meters despite many thoughts about the nasty water.

The training season is now over, and it is Iron Girl weekend. This is where the bacon hits the grease, the sh@# hits the fan....or Tami just bakes us a bunch of cookies. IG weekend starts out with a mandatory shopping spree. It is a very well organized event. First you pickup your race packet with bib numbers....and then you sachet through a maze of vendors with anything and everything an exercise girl could want....but doesn't really need. Don't that that "need" factor stop you from buying tho....and there we were - bags bulging with new tshirts, post exercise dresses...and more spandex. Someone has to stimulate the US eco.

Saturday afternoon arrives - and it is now time to rack our bicycles....check out the transition area....and closely inspect the buoys in the water. Team Jill-Holly-Tami and I find our bike numbers amidst the 2500 bikes that are preassigned on large metal racks. We spend another 20 minutes staring at the surroundings trying to locate something "unique" that will alert us to finding our bike during the event. Tami's bike is next to a tree....Holly is a few rows from Tami's tree....and Jill and I are side by side near some bright orange cones. How hard can it be to find the orange cones?

Next stop....a quick view of Centennial Lake - the swim course. The finish line is dotted with bright orange buoys quite close together. This is a good thing - because one surely doesn't want to get lost in the weeds while trying to get out of the water. At the swim start - a huge white buoy marks the beginning of the course. The swim course takes you close to shore in an "outbound" direction - keeping a close eye on some yellow buoys. Two bright red buoys mark the "turnaround" point, and then you head straight back on the opposite side of the lake - keeping your eye on a new set of yellow buoys, around the island...and to the finish line.

From our vantage point on shore - the swim distance looked quite long. I wonder how they measure up 1100 meters in the Centennial Lake? Jill, Holly and Elliot are busy discussing their swim strategy. They will get right up in the pack of swimmers, breathe bilateral, check their heartbeats to make sure they are in the 'zone', stay tight to the buoys, and swim past the crowd with their special dolphin kick to the finish line. Yeah right. Tami and I worked out a very different strategy. We would wait 10 seconds after the swim wave starts so that the peeps get out in front of us, stay far away from the buoys, far from the other swimmers, hope the kayaks would keep a close eye on us, and Tami would stay to my left so that we could always see each other. OK, so we might be swimming some extra mileage out there...

After spending another hour looking at the transition from every imaginable angle, we decided it was time to move-on from being overly neurotic - and get some food. Barbecue and a slumber party was part of the evening plan -- the night before Iron Girl.

Jill wanted us to arrive in Centennial Park at 2AM so that she could get the first available parking spot. The slumber party IG's (Holly, Jane, Tami) successfully vetoed this idea - and we arrived in Centennial Park at 5AM. We were one of the first 25 cars to arrive on site.

Along with the rain.

Possibly thunder and lightening.

For Tami and I, a little thunder-n-lightening could be some very welcome news. Especially, if it were to force the race organizers to abandon the swim portion of the TRI....and turn it into a run-bike-run. This wouldn't be a bad thing. Jus say'n.

But no such luck. We proceeded back to the transition area - with bike shoes, helmets, running shoes, towels and whatever else seemed necessary to get us from one leg of the the next. It's still dark at 5AM - so it is a bit hard to see. I'm hoping that I pumped up the tires on my bike - and not someone elses.

By the time we finished setting up our transition space in the dark, got body marked, made a few trips back to the car, and waited in very long lines for the is now time to meander over to the swim start. Holly gets in the water with her swim wave at 6:45 - and she swims like a fish out of the gate. Jill, Tami and I move with the herd of pink swim cap ladies toward the waterline. Our wave starts at 6:55AM - and it seems that these women can't wait to get in the water. Tami and I get in the water up to our knees....and wait. Jill tries to coax us further, without much luck. Finally the race officials insist that we move further into the water. OK don't have to be so pushy. We'll start swimming when we have to.

The gun goes off....and we watch Jill glide effortlessly through the water. That's what swimming is supposto look like. I had counted to 6....(out of 10)...and Tami was getting impatient. She suggested we might want to start before the next swim wave gets in the water. Oh - ok. And we're off.

I can assure you - there were NO swimmers on the outside perimeter of Centennial Lake. Occasionally, someone on a kayak a few feet from me - was saying something. With an earplug in one ear -- I'm hearing impaired - so his conversation was one directional. But, I got the idea...these were the moments where Tami and I had ventured too far off course. Tami was swimming strong - and I had my work cutout for me -- to keep up. Tami swims freestyle, and occasionally does some breast stroke. She swims at a perfectly choreographed cadence, one that was passed down to her from her older sister Beth. I swim using the 1-sided-breast-stroke-lurch. It's a variation of the side stroke, breast stoke and butterfly - and I'm fairly certain it will be considered as an Olympic event - soon. In case you want to try this in your pool - you basically swim on ONE side (right)...propel outta the water (like the breast stroke) - but only on one side....and occasionally fly outta the water when attacked by seaweed. It is probably the most energy inefficient stroke available to mankind - but if you work at - you'll get yourself a fine workout.

Slowly...we passed buoys. One at a time... and eventually rounded the red buoys - which meant we can start swimming to the finish line. Tami and I were focused on our swim....but always keeping an eye on each other. Tami would call out to me to swim closer to her - when I started weaving to the lily pads. And I would yell "watch out Tam" - when a swimmer came up behind Tami. I didn't want my girlfriend to get mowed over....we needed our swim space. Before you knew it....we had reached land. Tami and I stood and hugged. We had done it. The swim is now behind us...and we're feeling real good.

We run up the hill to the transition area... Where are those landmarks? The tree? the orange cones? Tami can't see a thing without her prescription glasses - which she is not wearing. She is busy running circles around the transition area - and I can't seem to locate those friggin orange cones. I eventually found my bike....and Tami located her tree. Whew.

Jill and Holly were long gone from the transition area - and the rain was now coming down in buckets. This should be fun. Tami and I take the first 20 minutes of the bike ride at a much slower than normal pace. Not sure how the bikes will react to slick roadways - and we don't really want to find out. Slow is fine. For awhile anyway.

Ms. Madone, true to form - cannot hold herself back on an uphill. We easily fly past 30 bikers... And then, the dreaded downhill. Ms. Madone - who has not been herself this year - slows to a crawl to avoid the noodle affect. It's better to be safe...than we watch all of the peeps barrel past us. Including Tami. "See ya Tam on the uphill" - I yell out. "Ok girlfriend - you rock" she replies as she whizzes by.

5 miles into the course, the rains had stopped...and the big pools of water on the roads were dissipating. Ms. Madone catches back up to all the downhill speedy bikers....who are now tiring on the uphills. And so we uphill....slow downhill....for the remainder of the bike race. And with the sheer volume of bikers on the roads....Tami and I became separated.

I returned to the transition area having successfully not fallen off my bike (due to slippery conditions or to the dreaded bike noodle)....and was pumped up to be starting the run. Not because I'm an exceptional runner or anything....but because I knew the end of all of this crazy exercising was near.

One problem...I can't find my rack#. Did someone move those orange cones? Finally...there it is. I whipped on my running shoes....and bolted out onto the running course. Running....after you have swam 6/10ths of a mile...and raced on your bike for 17.5 miles...isn't exactly easy. For the first 1/2 mile, you contend with leg mush. This is where you put weight on a leg...and it turns to mush. You spend your energy trying to talk your legs into behaving like a runner - but they just don't listen. An iPOD would be handy (with my 2 favorite tunes) right about now...but the race officials won't allow. With an iPOD, at least I wouldn't have to listen to my own heavy breathing. You know you are breathing scary, when people ahead of you look back, eyes wide, mouth open and JUMP to the sidelines out of your way.

As I descend Heartbreak hill....I see Jill - ahead of me, looking strong. "You rock Sissy" Jill yells out...."No YOU rock Fluffy" I yell back....and she is long gone. Ahead of me is a para triathlete - who is doing an incredible job running with one leg, and one prosthesis. As I pass her, I greet her with "you are such an inspiration girlfriend"....I find myself suddenly very emotional. This woman really is - an inspiration. I vow not to bellyache about my breathing, or how tired I might be feeling. At least I can refrain from bellyaching for the next 10 minutes!

With a mile to go on the run course - I cross paths with Tami - who has not even broken a sweat on the run. She breaks out into a huge smile and we give each other some encouraging words. Jill crosses the finish line first with an amazing blazing time of 2hr 16 min, Elliot and I cross the finish in 2hr 22 min....Tami 2 hr 29min....and Holly well under 3 hours. Considering that Holly had to become a professional bike mechanic on the fly (her bike became possessed - and her chain popped off twice) -- she showed what she is made of. Pure grit.

Many many thanks to our support team of Chuck, Paddy, Jim, Rick & Linda, and Dave who braved the wee early hours and rainy weather - to cheer us on, make us laugh and walk at least 5 miles to watch us from every vantage point. And special thanks to Paddy (who did his first TRIrelay this year), joined the gym to be my workout partner, and believes that I can swim in open water - long before I believed it....and Chuck (who also did his first TRIrelay this year)- who never misses an opportunity to support Fluffy, Sissy and everyone else in the periphery. xoxoxoxoxo

Moving forward....we have a new recruit to the TRI-family. Hellooooo Linda - let the fun begin!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

It's all about Heart

In 1978, my friend Minh, escaped from Vietnam on an over sized rowboat. It took a huge leap of faith for Minh to step into that "rowboat" and head out to sea. There were no life vests aboard - and Minh did not know how to swim.

Today, Minh would face her fear of the water head on. Determined to learn to swim at the age of 50 - it is showtime. July 25, 2010 - the day of the Hagerstown Maryland Sprint Triathlon. Minh is poised at the edge of the pool. Will she be able to swim and overcome her fear of the water?

In order to appreciate Minh's fierce determination - let me first share with you Minh's story -- in her words:

Minh's Story

I was born and grew up in Dalat, a small resort town up in the Lang Bian mountain, with an elevation of about 1,500m, 300km north west of Saigon, where I lived until May 1978, when my family fled Vietnam on a small fishing boat – about 6ft by 20ft, with 17 people on board – 9 in my family, 2 family friends, 2 fishermen and their family.

We left Vietnam via the Cam Ranh bay on May 18 sometimes after midnight when it was pouring rain. It was very frightening for me, a then 17 year old girl, who didn’t know how to swim, to wade out to the boat in chest high water in the dark pitch of the night, compounded by fears of getting caught by the coast guards and sent to jail for trying to escape. Each of us had to carry our supplies of water, gasoline, and food too.

All of us cramped into to hull of the boat, covered in fishing net when the boat left the harbor. We headed straight out to the South China Sea, in hope of getting rescued by those big ships that we saw when we got to the international water. But none stopped for us even when we sent out the distress signal. After 5 days, we ran out of water, food, and had a little bit of gasoline left, so the fishermen decided to let the boat afloat. It rained a little bit and we caught some water using a piece of tarp. The fishermen caught some fishes too, but most of my family members and our friends were very weak by then, due the dehydration and sea sickness.
Desperation set in on May 23rd, when we didn’t see any ship for the whole day.

Around 4 o’clock that afternoon, we caught sight a small vessel ahead of us. The fishermen turned on the boat engine and chased after the ship. When we came up along side of the ship, their crew thought we were pirates, so they were yelling at us, wielding their big fishing spears. My father screamed for us to get up from the hull. After seeing us women and children, they put down the weapons and threw some ropes over to our boat. They were from Taiwan and one of them, the cook, spoke a little English. We were very lucky that they were following a school of fishes and veered off course and were going pretty slow for us to catch up to them. After giving us some food, water, and one can of gasoline – they were low on gasoline too so couldn’t give us a lot - they pointed us toward the coast of Indonesia while they went the opposite way.

Around 8 o’clock that night, a big storm gathered on our left and coming fast at us. The cloud was so black and lightening was everywhere. The fishermen were screaming and cursing in panic and we all thought that was the end for us. The big waves and rain had started to come in when we caught sight of the Taiwanese boat again. They had turned around when they saw the storm coming. They stayed on our left side to block us from the storm. I still remember those big waves. One minute there was a big black wall of water in front of me that I thought would smash into our boat, the next I was on top of one, looking down at the dark pit of water below me. The storm had passed quickly but it seemed to me like a very very long time.

When the sky cleared and the waves calmed down, we bid farewell to our rescuers one more time. The cook jumped down to our boat, crying, handed us a piece of paper with his name and address – which I kept and wrote him a letter when we first came to the US – more on that later.

At dawn the next day, we came to one of the most beautiful beaches I had ever seen off the coast of Indonesia. The people there let us came on shore to rest, and gave us one of the most delectable food I had ever tasted. Since they didn’t have any refugee camp in the area, they gave us some more gasoline, water, and food and showed us the way to Kuching, the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak, where we stayed for 3 months in the refugee camp that was setup on a deserted strip of land on the bay near Kuching.

It was there where I was almost drowned one day when I went along with some kids to take a bath in the river. I was holding on to the side of one of the boats left on shore by us, the people who came to the refugee camps, when the tide rose so quickly I lost my footing. I could still see the sun fading as I sank down to the bottom of the river, holding my breath at first, then inhaling water, choking. I don’t remember how long I stayed there until someone caught me by my arms and brought me up to the surface. I vaguely remembered being slapped in the back and I was coughing so hard it felt like I couldn’t get any air in.

After that episode, I became panic every time I got near the water. I still have nightmare about being in the ocean at night. I’ve tried to take swimming lesson a few times since we came here in the US, but I every time, I had to quit after the first day because I couldn’t get over the fear even though I wanted so much to know how to swim. When we went to the beach or the swimming pool, the most I could do was standing in the water at thigh high, and every time I saw my family had fun in the water, I wished I could join them.

It was until the end of last year that I made a vow to myself that I had to learn how to swim before I turned 50. I signed up for a lesson at the community pool last November and went through 4 sessions where we learned to blow bubbles and float on our back and front in the kiddie pool. I finished the class without much improvement. Signed up for the next one at the community college where the instructor was like a drill sergeant. I don’t know how many gallons of pool water I had shallow in that class and still had not been able to swim except to float on my back and front crawl a few feet. I have to admit that I had been able to jump down to the deep end of the pool once (12 feet I think), when the instructor forced us to. I was coughing and choking when I came up to the surface and was so freaked out, but I survived!

The breakthrough for me came when my good friend decided to take on the big task of teaching me how to swim. Something in the way that she showed me how to breath under water, how to move my body so I would glide instead of sinking, how I turned my head to breath to the side, made it so easier for me to learn.

When my 50th birthday came in June 2010, I was able to swim free style the length of the regular pool without stopping! I had sign up to do the swimming part in a relay sprint triathlon on July 25 - and now needed to swim 6 laps in a row. I've never done this before.

Sunday - July 25, 2010. It was another typical Maryland day. Sweltering heat in the 90s. Unrelenting humidity. Jill (driving at warp speed), Chuck and I arrived at the Hagerstown Sprint Triathlon at the wee hours of the morning - well before daybreak. Jill and I were entered in the triathlon - but today would not be about our accomplishments. Today was about Minh and her family. My bro Chuck is part of the "race crew" and heads to the registration desk to report in for 'volunteer duties'.

Minh and her family arrive. Minh is understandably nervous. She has never swam in a competition before - and has the added pressure of being a swimmer in a triathlon relay. If she doesn't finish her swim 'leg'....then her relay team will not have the opportunity to participate. Her relay team, includes hubby Trung on the bike, and son Bach as the runner. Her daughter Lamie - will be attempting her first individual triathlon. Minh's determination to learn to swim - has inspired her entire family - to TRI.

The first wave of swimmers - are the elite men. You know, the guys who are super speedy in their super speedos. They are out of the water in less than 5 minutes. The next wave of swimmers are the elite women. I don't know what these ladies eat for breakfast - but I could use some of "that" in my diet. The swimming pool is completely churned up as the elite women power through 300 meters in the same time it would take me to do 2 laps.

The relay teams are next in line. This includes 9 super charged men...and our Minh. I watch in amazement as Minh remains undaunted by the field of swimmers that she is pitted with. Jill and I, along with Lamie, Bach and Trung stand on the sidelines - and I'm guessing that we are just as nervous as Minh. Well...maybe not. We can't see Minh's face - but she is about to put on her game. She steps toward the water...and taps the lane official on the shoulder. "You might want to take a nap" Minh explains to the man...."It's gonna be a long swim for me". The lovely man smiled, and assured her she could take all the time she needed. Leave it to Minh to charm the men.

The relay swimmers are OFF. The water is churned up with 9 serious manly swimmers creating what looks like a pool tsnaumi. Minh struggles to get air, but keeps working on getting to the end of the lane. We stand on the sidelines...and send her telepathic messages "One length at a time can do this". Minh completes her first lap. On her second lap, she falters. Freestyle is much harder with all of the waves created by the power swimmers. There are no wake barriers between the lanes...and the pool is ultra choppy. Minh tries swimming on her back...but struggles even more. We yell to her from the sidelines "COME ON MINH YOU CAN DO THIS!".

People standing near us....wanted to know Minh's story. So here it is. Minh didn't need our screams from outside the pool deck that day. Minh would dig deep. Just like she did in 1978 when her family left Vietnam.

As we stood in the crowd of swimmers on deck....suddenly Minh appeared OUT of the water. Her face was BEAMING as she rushed toward us. We stood there hugging and crying. Minh had done it. While many first timers would have been intimidated to be in a pool with such strong athletes, Minh was undaunted. She finished swimming her 300 meters - and there wasn't a dry eye among her support team. Trung was now on the road - pedal to the metal on his bicycle - and Bach was standing by waiting for Trung daddio to return.

It is now time for the run - and we cross paths with Bach - who is just finishing his last 1/2 mile. He's in the shady section - and ready to complete the event for TEAM MINH. Bach is looking fresh - and has barely broken a sweat.

Lamie is less than 1/2 mile behind us and running as if she could run all day. Jill and I are busy applying cold bandanas...and counting the steps to the finish line. In this heat, it can't come soon enough. Lamie races over the finish line - hands stretched high overhead - and with energy to spare.

Knowing her incredible journey, today was a huge day for Minh, and her family. Triathlons are more than athletic achievements. It is more than how fast you go, or where you place. It is bigger than simply competing with others or yourself. Triathlons are like the fairy godmother of infectious diseases .... camaraderie ...encouragement ...courage.... determination... inspiration. Minh - not only learned to swim, but she dug deep, conquered some very deep rooted fears of the water, and finished her first swim event. She inspired her family to be a part of her day. And she inspired countless more in the process. I'm pretty sure we'll be seeing Minh as a regular on the triathlon circuit.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Piseco Lake Triathlon

It is 6:30AM, and Paddy and I are busy prepping for the Piseco Lake Triathlon. Paddy remarks this would be a good sailing day. Translation -- it's windy. The wind gods were ignoring my pleas for calm waters. As we sat on the campsite picnic table - looking out over the waterfront - there was no mistaking that sound. The sound of waves lapping the shoreline - one right after another. I saw whitecaps build on the lake. I’m not sure I can do an open water swim in whitecap conditions. I'm not even sure I can do an open water swim in calm conditions... I start thinking of better ways to spend my day rather than attempt this open water swim. But, this TRI is not simply a "jane pursuit" today -- I had convinced Paddy to join me as a relay team. We would be the "Team TRI -- Jane and Paddy". I would do the swim and bike -- and Paddy would complete the 3rd leg in the event -- the walk or jog to the finish. We are a team. I had to at least...TRY. Paddy was counting on me.

Paddy and I hop on our bicycles - for a 4 mile ride from our campsite, to the Irondequoit Inn. We could have driven the monster RV - but it didn't seem right to move the beast once it had nestled into our campsite. The Irondequoit Inn is a bed and breakfast, that sits overlooking Piseco Lake at the northern tip. It has a tennis court, sprawling land with fabulous views, and a soft sandy beachfront. The Irondequoit Inn is hosting the start of the triathlon - the swim portion. Perhaps the water would appear less lumpy from the beachfront? I had high hopes for calm "seas".

Paddy is happy to be done with the hilly bike ride from the campsite. He takes a rest at the top of the hill, while I head to the water to study the swim course. I'm hesitant to register for the TRI, until I have a chance to see the swim course close up. I've only done 3 open water swims prior to this event -- and in each case I had a personal swim buddy (or buddies) near my side. Today, I would be by myself. I stare at the course. A line of buoys runs parallel to the shoreline. I make a few mental notes. I could swim to shore if I get in a panic. The winds and waves have increased. There is no denying it - the water is choppy.

One lone race official is busy prepping the swim exit chutes. I ask him a zillion questions. The little people in my head want to know many things. "Is the water over my head" I asked. "Yes - at least 10 feet" he assured me -- as if I was hoping that he would say "yeah - it's nice and deep for you". The direction of the a quarter mile swim is out-and another quarter mile back. You follow a line of buoys into the waves and wind then turn around and swim with the wind and waves on the way back to shore.. The official assured me there would be big pontoon boats 300 yards apart for the swimmers to grab. In case you need a rest. He assured me there would be plenty of kayaks and canoes for swimmer support. It all sounded well organized. I'm still not sure I can do this -- but Paddy and I decide to go and register anyway.

Paddy and I hopped back on our bikes – for a 1/2 mile ride to the Piseco Lake Airport. Registration for the TRI occurs here - at the Piseco Airport grounds. We filled out a form, handed over some moolah – and signed up as a team. There it is. In print. I would do the swim and bike, and Paddy would do the walk / jog.

The Piseco Lake Triathlon is a unique Triathlon. Not that I am worldly when it comes to triathlons - but I have done a few. Here in the Adirondacks, they do not use official “race chips” to automatically time the participants. There are no bike numbers or running bib numbers. As a matter of fact - there are no paper numbers at all. No numbers except the numbers you are body-marked with. The theory is -- once you enter or exit each leg of the event - you loudly call out your number to the race official. This is how they keep track of you. I love it. Very low-tech. Very Adirondack.

As we handed the registration form to the race official, the nice lady gave me a green post-it sticky with the number C-42. This is our team number. C-42. We are instructed to take the green postit sticky marked C-42 to the body marking lady – and she will write our number on our arms and legs. Body marking is the only way for the race officials to know who you are. Paddy and I now have C-42 written all over our arms and legs. I think this means we are officially registered.

Now mind you - nobody handed us a map, or any instructions for the Piseco Lake Triathlon. Just the little green post it sticky with our number - C42. I assumed that was all we needed to know.

Paddy and I hopped back on our bicycles - and rode back to the Irondequoit Inn. There are no bike "personal space" that is marked only for you. Just find a spot on the lawn or tennis court - and leave your bike there. This is how the Piseco Lake Triathlon works. You pick a spot in the sand - any ol' spot will do. So Paddy and I left our bikes near the tennis court fence.

I look around at the other bikes, and note some very serious athletes here. Some bikes were equipped with $5000 bike wheels on top of fancy $5000 bike frames. These bikers must know how to ride in nearly "off road" conditions on a race bike. I had already opted NOT to use Ms. Madone for this event. Why? Not because I’m mad at Ms Madone for becoming a noodle during my last 2 triathlons. Not because we’ve had words. Instead, the roads around Piseco lake seem more like a dirt trail, rather than smooth pavement. Huge potholes, gravel and lots of road dugouts. The old Trek jalopy (i.e. Mr. Huffy Puffy) with the big fat wheels will be my bike of choice today. Mr. Huffy won’t be anywhere near as fast as Ms. Madone – but he is much better equipped to handle the terrain.

Riding Mr. Huffy simplifies the equipment needs too. No special clip on shoes are required, I can just wear my running sneakers. Paddy is busy holding on to a coffee mug, my swim goggles and swim cap, smoking a pre-Triathlon cigarette and proudly displaying his body marks – C42. This is his way of getting psyched up. We head down to the beach. Other triathletes have gathered and it is becoming quite a crowd.

Other swimmers are commenting on the lake conditions. Most of the chatter revolves around how “choppy” the lake is. The winds have picked up, and I’m having many self doubts. The little people in my head are chatting nonstop about how rough the water has become. It’s time to tone down the little people. I look at the pontoon boats who are now in position along the swim course. I discuss strategy with my team – Paddy. “I think I can make it between pontoon boats – so I just have to swim from boat to boat.” Plus,, there are lots of support boats swarming around. “I think I can do this” I finally said to Paddy. "I think I can do this". Paddy nods in agreement. He hopes the swim starts soon so he doesn't have to listen to my incessant anxiety over the open water swim.

The official with the megaphone announces it is time to get in the water. We all get in the water at once. A big crowd lurches forward. There are no swim waves, no organization of swimmers….just everyone gets in the water at the same time. Of course I linger back. Way back. If I stayed any further back - I would be standing on shore. Every other swimmer is far ahead of me. The whistle blows….and the bodies surge forward into the water. It is pretty shallow at the start – so we get to walk along ways in the water before we need to start swimming. There is no turning back now.

I am the very last swimmer into the water by a long shot, and I’m hoping that all of the support boats take notice. My message is keep a close eye on me OK? I start swimming. So far so good. No panic, I’m just breathing and getting into a rhythm. I make it to the first pontoon boat no problem – and consider continuing on to the next pontoon boat without stopping. On second thought it is a bit of a distance to the 2nd pontoon boat. I stop for a moment and catch my breath.

It is a LOT harder than I thought. That is, swimming into a headwind, and waves. Due to the curve in the shoreline, the further out into the lake I swam, the the bigger the waves. I’m doing my best to stay on top of the waves – but it isn’t working too well. The waves run close together, and they are breaking over me. I just need to get to the next pontoon boat. That's my only thought. I am actually passing other swimmers. Pretty rare for me – and I only hope that the support boats are still paying attention.

I arrived at the 2nd pontoon boat – and now I’m breathing hard. Not because I’m panicked, but it is VERY hard swimming in these conditions. Head wind, and waves crashing over your face - unrelenting. This makes my swimming pool practice sessions seem like easy-peasy. But it's time to let go of the pontoon boat, and head for the next one. A particularly big wave crashes over me and I suck down a bunch of Piseco Lake. For a moment, I panicked. I called out loudly for help. And immediately flipped on my back to try to relax. Get a grip Jane. I don’t need help….I can do this. The big people in my head are in charge of the little people now – and I can do this. I did the back stroke for awhile and this was much easier. Somehow, I made it to the last outbound pontoon boat.

I meet up with a fellow triathlete swimmer - who is clinging on to the final pontoon boat. “Are you ok?” he asks. “Yeah” I reply. “Just need to catch my breath”. He responds – “Come on darlin – you and I will do this together”. At that point, we exchanged names. Meet Hank. My new swim buddy. Hank leads the way to the final orange buoy, and I follow obediently. Hank yells out to one of the support boats -- "keep a close eye on us ok?". Hank encourages me to keep swimming. Suddenly - I was no longer alone. Along with another pokey swimmer in our proximity (Joe) and a lady who was too tired to tell us her name….we had become a uniquely bonded swim team of 4. The final 4 swimmers in the Piseco Lake Triathlon who are in the water longer than anyone else, and pretty damned determined to complete the swim. From this point - until we reached the shoreline, we would be looking out for each other.

I rounded the final orange buoy in the outbound direction. Hallelulah. We can now turn around and head back. Finally we are swimming WITH the waves and the wind – and it is SOOO much nicer. Our team of 4 - swam from pontoon boat to pontoon boat – together. Here is how it went down. We would all decide we were "ready" to depart from one pontoon boat - and swim to the next. Usually I was the first to arrive at a pontoon boat (go figure that?!)....and I wasted no time locating the swim ladder to hang onto - and catch my breath. Technically, I was feeling pretty good at this point, but I wasn't going to leave my new friends behind. “Hank – over here – I’ve got a swim ladder with your name on it”, and Hank would always replay “Jane – you’re the best, I’ll be rite there”. Then I would yell – “How are you doing Joe” – and he would check in as well. After a few seconds of rest at the pontoon boat – Hank would ask if we are ready to keep going…and despite how tired any of us felt – we always replied “ yeah - lets do it”.

This scene repeated itself from one pontoon boat to the next….and finally Hank yelled out to me “Jane – you can stop swimming now – we can stand up”. Music to my ears and sure enough I could stand. Our little team of 4 had made it – and we were bonded through the remainder of the TRI. We were smiling now, with high-fives all around. It was an incredibly satisfying moment standing on the beach….having conquered the high winds and waves.

Paddy patiently waits for me to wipe the sand off my feet - and stuff my bare feet into my sneakers. Paddy's turn is soon coming. We trot up the hill together from the beach…to the tennis court – where Mr. Huffy Puffy is waiting. I hop on, only to discover that the seat position is set for someone with a height of Michael Jordan. I never realized Paddy was so tall? This won’t work – I can’t reach the pedals. I hop off…and spend a few minutes adjusting the seat height. Off I go.

Since I am at, or nearly at dead last – I wonder if I’ll see any bikers at all. Especially riding on Mr. Huffy. Three miles later – my wish came true. I see a biker who is body marked. A fellow triathlete. I realize I’m riding Mr. Huffy – who is a magnitude of 10 times slower than Ms. Madone – but I can’t resist chasing a bicycle. Even on Mr. Huffy. Mr. Huffy and I quickly pass the first biker…and I begin thinking there are more cyclists ahead. Soon I pass a group of 5….then more and more appear. Mr. Huffy and I are super excited to be back with a pack of athletes – and not at the end. I’m guessing that I passed between 30-40 bikers. The vibe is tremendous along the bike route. Piseco Lake residents are out cheering us on – and there are race organizers everywhere - all busy writing down your number as you go past. I'm not really sure if I'm supposto - but I yell out "C42" every time I see someone "official". In case they need to know.

As I near the turn to head back to the Irondequoit Inn – the road becomes a buzz with race officials and volunteers yelling out frantically to the cyclists – to “go to your right”. Hmmm…this can’t be correct – as I know that my next turn to get back to the Irondequoit Inn (where Paddy is patiently waiting) is to go to my left. Maybe I have to go around some little road for more mileage?

Nope. We are herded into a parking lot at at the Piseco Lake Elementary school. I notice well over 100 bikes just laying about across a field. What’s going on here? Then I see a sign – pointing to the exit for the runners. What? I’m nowhere near the Irondequoit Inn – and Paddy is waiting for me to hand off the invisible “wand” so that he can be the 3rd leg of the triathlon. Nobody told us that the bikers would NOT be returning to the Irondequoit Inn where we started the swim. Instead – we have to start the run leg from a completely different location.

Back at the Irondequoit, Paddy is becoming the information hot line for triathlon spectators. “When will the athletes be returning here” – peeps would ask Paddy. “Soon….the bikers will come back here – and then the runners will take off” - Paddy confidently advised. Tho it sure is strange, Paddy thought -- "surely ONE biker should have returned by now". But, Paddy patiently waits – and tells others to do the same. “They’re coming” he insists.

I drop my bike like all others (at any ol spot in the field) at the Piseco Elementary school, whip off my helmet…and start running. This is crazy. What if I had ridden Ms. Madone with my special clip on bike shoes. I would not have been able to run (or walk) in these. What about Paddy? He is waiting for me back at the Irondequoit Inn! I assumed that the transition area was back where we started???

Despite the confusion…I had my cell phone with me. I called Paddy and simultaneously started to run toward the Piseco Airport. I'm breathing pretty hard cuz I just biked Mr. Huffy into the ground and passed 40 bikers to give us a shot of not being last - and Paddy can't understand a word of what I'm saying. I keep repeating myself. “I don’t know what’s going on – but they had us start the run from a completely different spot” I panted. “You have to leave the Irondequiot Inn now…and walk past the airport until you see me” I instructed Paddy - who was every bit as clueless about this transition from the bike to run – as I. “Just start walking…and we’ll meet up in the middle”.

Paddy trots like a bat-outta-hell…and is walking with big long strides. Beads of sweat form at his forehead....and his t-shirt is beginning to resemble a sponge. Neither of us know what the heck just happened to the transition area…but for some reason – in the Adirondacks, a triathlon means there are 3 separate locations where you can end up. The lady forgot to write this on the green postit sticky with C-42. The first location is at the lake (Irondequoit Inn). The second location is as the Piseco Elementary School – where you ditch your bike anywhere….and start running toward the 3rd location – the Piseco Airport. Oh my.

My swim buddy Hank (who I passed on the bike) – had caught up to me on the run. We shared more high-5s and cheered each other on. We will probably never see each other again - but I can assure you we are tri-buddies for life. I wasn’t planning on running today – and my focus was finding my teammate Paddy - so that he could have his glory moment. And there he is….in his unmistakable orange t shirt. Hustling his butt to complete the 3rd leg in our team relay. I must say, I have never seen Paddy walk this fast. There was a genuine giddyup in his stride, and he was sweating bullets.

As we made our way along Old Piseco Road toward the Piseco Airport – finally a large group of race organizers were in sight – marking the finish line. “What do you think Paddy – should we run in the last 20 feet together” I asked. “How much is 20 feet” Paddy inquired, clearly tired, yet determined to make a good finish. As we got closer – the triathletes who had already finished – were actively cheering in those of us yet to reach the finale. “Come on Paddy – lets run it in”….and with my prodding, the peer pressure of the cheering crowd – and the excitement of the moment -- there was no stopping Paddy. He jogged across that finish line – as we held hands high for a spectacular moment for Team C42.

Paddy had done it. He completed his first triathlon relay event - and he was clearly diggin' the endorphins. We headed straight to the food tent – and discovered they were serving homemade ice cream. I absolutely love this triathlon. Ok - there was a bit of confusion over multiple transition areas - but that can be long forgotten with some homemade ice cream.

It is now our turn to be supportive spectators. We wait, watch and cheer on the remaining triathletes as they cross over the finish line. Paddy and I - team C42 were FAR from last place…and we spent the next 45 minutes cheering peep after peep.

Our triathlon day is not over yet - there is more exercise on the agenda. It’s time to retrieve our equipment – which by now is spread in 2 separate locations. I opt to head back to the Eleementary School and grab Mr. Huffy. It will be a 3 mile walk…but I’ll get there eventually. Paddy heads back to the Irondequoit Inn – for another mile of walking – to grab Ms. Madone. We agree to reconvene at the Irondequoit Inn.

Fortunately for me, a fellow triathlete driving her pickup truck along Old Piseco Road -- offers to give me a ride. How delightful. I found Mr. Huffy lying in the field at the Piseco Elementary School– right where I left him – and rode him back to meet up with Paddy. Here we traded bikes. I was reunited with Ms. Madone – and Paddy is back with Mr. Huffy. Paddy and I road our bikes along the remaining 4 hilly miles back to the campsite.

The day was classic Adirondack magic. We are in the heart of the beautiful, tranquil Adirondack Park, where the temperatures are in the upper 70's and the vibe is fantastic. Paddy completes his first EVER relay triathlon. He did it. He hustled. And finished strong. And if the TRI athletics weren’t enuf, he rides his bike on hilly Adirondack miles - just to show up at the event.

That new giddyup in his step....lasted the rest of the weekend. Rock on Paddy. As for me, there were 4 people who had to be pulled from the water that day. 4 people who did NOT complete the swim. And I wasn’t one of them.