To the Giant Purple Asshole at Lap Swim

I swim at the Y near my house, and I mostly hate it. It’s kind of expensive for how ghetto it is, they keep the pool temperature at an uncomfortable 85 degrees (sometimes 86, while occasionally they “treat” us with a refreshing 84), the pool tiles are jagged and broken and collecting more sketchy-looking black grime each week, the locker room is nasty despite the heavily advertised 20 minute daily cleaning it receives (wow, a whole 20 minutes! Too bad that’s apparently not enough time to clean the tumbleweed of body [probably pube] hair clogging up the shower drains), and the hot water is nonexistent on a regular basis (probably because it’s all pumped into that hot spring they call a pool). But I put up with it because it’s a couple blocks from where I live, and because their lap swim times are pretty decent. But let’s face it, it’s the Central District YMCA so I’m not exactly working out in the lap of luxury or expecting greatness here, which I fully understand. I also understand that since it’s the Y, there’s an eclectic group of people who work out there. You’ve got your lower income families, your skinny, tatted up hipsters who exercise in skinny jeans and Converse, retirees who aquacize during lap swim, huge, menacing dudes who look like extras from The Wire, student athletes from nearby schools–it’s a ridiculously random bunch, but everyone is mostly polite and does their own thing without incident. Until recently, of course. I showed up to lap swim yesterday to get in a workout during my lunch break. Judging from how loud the pool sounded from the locker room, I could tell it was going to be a crowded day, and when I emerged from the showers my suspicions were correct. There are four lanes in the pool, and they were situated like this: The slow lane (typically reserved for people who tread water, float around, or are doing some sort of water therapy) had two people in it Medium Lane #1 had two people in it The fast lane had two people in it Medium Lane #2 inexplicably had four people in it In the context of my triathlon team, races, and most of mankind, I am a slow swimmer; however, by the Y’s incredibly low standards, I’m more of a “medium speed” person so I walked over to Medium Lane #1, which had a woman and a man splitting the lane. The man had taken off down the pool but the woman (who I shall henceforth refer to as “Grimace” due to her garishly bright purple swimsuit and her top-heavy stature) was on her way back, so I waved to get her attention. Me: “Can we circle swim? Sorry, I know it’s crowded.” She nodded and took off. When she caught up to the guy she explained the change, and we all settled into a circle swim. Typically, when the pool is crowded and you’re forced to circle swim with other swimmers, it can be difficult to follow your original workout. I know this from having done enough circle swims and from reading various swim forums where the consensus is that some sort of compromise is required in order for everyone to successfully share the lane. Today I had planned to do a speed workout, but I knew that I was going to end up taking a few extra seconds here and there waiting at the end of the pool to create gaps between me and the next swimmer, or that I’d have to time my sets so that everyone was spaced out accordingly. It’s not ideal but...
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I’m the Benjamin Button of Swimming

I swear, I must be the only person alive who seems to be getting worse the more she tries to swim. I’m like the Benjamin Button of swimming — the more time I spend in the water, the crappier I seem to get. My good swims are at about a 25-33%, meaning one out of every three or four swims actually feels decent. On the rare chance I”ll have what I think is a “good” swim workout (meaning I was just tragically slow instead of abysmally slow), the next 2-3 swims will be freaking awful and I’ll beat myself up over how hopeless I am until my body throws me a bone with a semi-decent swim again. Take today’s workout for example. Teresa persuaded me to do the “postal swim,” which is an hour-long time trial. The rule is simple: see how far you can swim in 60 minutes. She pestered me via email and asked if I was going to sign up, and I sighed and responded with, “I don’t really want to do it, but I will if you think it’ll be good for me.” By the time I stopped dragging my feet and committed to doing the workout, there were only a couple slots left. Teresa cheerfully jammed me into the first of three waves. Wave #1 started at 7 am. On a Sunday. FML. As if getting up at the ass crack of dawn on a Sunday morning for a bullshit swim workout wasn’t bad enough, I scanned the list of folks who were swimming in Wave #1 and realized that I was woefully outpaced among my fellow teammates. All of the fast assholes on my team were swimming at 7 am. I needed to be in Wave #3, which started at 9:30…or Teresa needed to make a separate “slowest of the slow” wave that started at noon and consisted of me and a no armed, one legged drifter named Hobo Joe. Also making the swim worse was the fact that I was out of town this past week for work, so my weekend workouts were especially heavy duty to make up for my travel time. I spent the weekdays in Denver before flying home and forcing myself to do a swim workout on Friday. My swim wasn’t great, which gave me a glimmer of hope that, by the Law of Transitive Beccas, my Sunday swim would be better. On Saturday I had a “Welcome back to Ironman training you lazy bastard” workout that consisted of 3×1 hour bike intervals with a 15 minute brick run after each set. By the end of my 3:45 workout, I was exhausted, my legs were aching, and I was dreading the early morning swim that would end my weekend. This morning I woke up at a soul-crushingly early 5:30 am and puttered around as nervous as I would be if it were an actual race. I was irrationally anxious and agonized over what to eat for breakfast. I even sucked down a cup of coffee, something I only do on race mornings. Jason and I hopped into the car (he didn’t want to do the postal swim either, but I nagged him into Band of Brothers-ing it with me) and drove over to Mercer Island. It was stupid and dark outside–as in “dark enough that I should still be in bed instead of driving to a turdtastic swim workout.” The island has no streetlights and the pool center was dark too, resulting in a supremely paranoid left turn into the parking lot since I was worried about missing the driveway and careening down an embankment (which, admittedly, still...
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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Bullshit

I don’t know why, but I had some faint hope that my aggro Ironman training wouldn’t really kick in until the start of 2012. One one hand, I’m really focused on hitting my workouts and pulling a Knutson and training like a hardcore mofo for Ironman Canada 2: Ironman Boogaloo. On the other hand, the holidays are fast approaching and I really want to enjoy my monthly pies, so I was hoping that I could enjoy my newly uninjured body by doing no workouts whatsoever. Wouldn’t it be great to stay thin, strong, and fast without putting in any of the hard work or effort? “Not by a long shot!” my chipper coach Teresa most likely exclaimed as she loaded up my workouts with classes and utter bullshit. For example, here are just the classes and group workouts I’ve got scheduled for this week: Monday: dryland strength class (It sucked; I was tired and Bridget made us do burpees with a biceps curl, one of the poopiest circuit workouts along with triceps pushups, which she also made us do. I hate Bridget.) Tuesday: track (in which I get to do a speed test which basically involves running as hard as you can for 30 minutes so Teresa can assign me new heart rate zones. FML.) Wednesday: dryland strength, cycling class Friday: swim class Saturday: group run Sunday: cycling class, swim class That’s not even counting the additional swims (two) bike workout (one), core workouts (two), and runs (one) I’ve got this week. Tell my wife and kids (meaning “Jason” and “pie”) that I love them, because this girl is going to be living and breathing fitness for the next 10...
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One of Those Days

We’ve all had them–I’ve certainly had my fair share, like when I set out to ride the Lake Stevens course a couple times and made it 10 miles. Or when I set out to ride 82 miles and made it about 30 and nearly froze to death. Sometimes you just have one of those days where you set out to do something and the forces combine to eff up your ess so that you have the worst day imaginable as one thing after another goes wrong. Yesterday was one of those days for me. I had a speed run workout scheduled, so Jas and I headed to the Greenlake track on our lunch break to bust it out. The plan was to do a 20 minute warm up, then two miles all out with a five minute recovery, then 4×100 at my previous all out pace with a three minute recovery, then a 10 minute cool down. Total workout time: 1 hour. I started my warm up then began my hard effort. It sucked. Bad. My stomach was really sour and I felt like I didn’t have any speed. I stopped after one mile, figuring I’d do my recovery and then I could do another hard mile. I started my recovery time and the sour stomach went into overdrive. My easy set quickly incorporated some “awkwardly mosey over to the portapotty and unleash the fury” time (at least there were portapotties nearby — I wasn’t about to fail my #1 goal). When my stomach quieted down, I left the portapotty and dejectedly made my way back to the track. Okay, so my two mile hard effort was kind of a bust, but at least I could do my 4×100 sets, right? I started one and had a decent lap time, then did a recovery lap. During my second lap the stomach acted up again, and once again my recovery lap included a sprint to the bathroom where I had to do the walk of shame past the same tennis players who I had just passed five minutes ago. I felt like waving and announcing, “Yes, yes, it’s me again. Yes, clearly I’m having some sort of bowel issue. Thank you for noticing. Yes, I have seen Anna Kournikova on The Biggest Loser. Uh, no, I don’t really like her more than Jillian. I mean, she kind of sucks and she’s got the crappiest team, so…you know what, speaking of ‘crappiest,’ I really gotta go. Again.” After Wave of Number Two #2 came and went, I managed to bust out a super sad cool down mile, figuring that the workout was a complete bust considering my guts weren’t letting me run hard. Instead of 7-7.5 miles, I managed a fairly sad five. We drove home and I had some soup and some tea to try and quiet things down, then I headed to the allergist to get my weekly shot. I needed to get a swim workout in but wasn’t sure I’d make the swim time at our gym, so later that evening after my shot I headed over to Medgar Evers to drop in on their lap swim time. When I got there, the employee recharged my parks & rec card and was about to scan it when I looked over at the pool and noticed an unusually large amount of pre-teens occupying the lanes. Me: “Uh, is lap swim going on right now?” Employee: “No, it’s a youth swim clinic.” Me: “Oh…how long does that go for?” Employee: “From now until 6:30.”┬áDamn it all! Me: “Does lap swim start after that?” Employee: “Yeah, from 6:30 to 7:00.” Oh,...
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My First Triathlon: Flat Tires and Lessons Learned

Tomorrow I’m doing the Issaquah sprint triathlon. Fun fact: the Issaquah sprint was my first-ever triathlon three years ago. In typical Mediocre Athlete fashion, my first race didn’t go so well. Basically, I should be able to PR tomorrow by about 45 minutes unless my leg falls off or I get abducted. I thought I’d offer up an exceptionally belated race report so you have an idea of how my first-ever triathlon went way back in 2008 — enjoy! Back in 2008, I was training for my first half Ironman, the not-quite-half-Ironman-distance New Balance race in Victoria. I was a sorry sight, riding on a borrowed road bike with mountain bike pedals and swimming even more terribly than I do now. I was basically the Tai to Teresa’s Cher if this were the movie Clueless. Teresa urged me and Jason to do the Issaquah sprint triathlon so we’d have a little bit of race experience going into the Victoria half Ironman. Since it was my first tri, I was ridiculously nervous. Swim Summary The swim was a teeny tiny 400 meters — it would take you longer to get your wetsuit on and off than it would to actually swim that distance. Of course, I was convinced I was going to drown. I swam with a handful of other girls in my age group, stopping at every buoy to gasp for air and gaze longingly at the shore. Swim time: 10:29 (2:37/100 meters) As embarrassingly crappy as my swim was, it marked the only time I’ve beaten Jas during the swim portion of a race. Since this was his first ever open water swim, he panicked and flailed in the water and I ended up edging him out by a minute or so. (Check out the only Mediocre Athlete post my lazy boyfriend has ever written for a recap of his swim from that race.) Transition 1 My transitions have always been decent, even from the get-go, and my first race’s T1 was a respectable 2:14. I think I’m just anxious to get out of my stupid wetsuit as quickly as possible. No matter the reason, my transitions aren’t that bad. Bike Summary I hopped on my borrowed bike and made my way along the 15-mile course. It’s an out and back and I just puttered along with all the other racers. I didn’t have a bike computer at the time, so I had no idea how fast I was going or what my cadence was (it was probably pretty shitty). I momentarily went the wrong way when I followed some schmohawk who took a wrong turn, but thankfully the race volunteers quickly corrected us. When I was a few miles from transition, I was descending a hill when I noticed an odd noise coming from behind me. “That doesn’t sound normal,” I thought, so once I got to the bottom, I got off the bike and checked my rear tire. It was dead flat. Great, I’d gotten a flat tire during my first triathlon and not only did I not know how to change a flat, I didn’t have any tools or spares with me so I couldn’t even attempt to figure it out. I kind of stood there for a while, not knowing what to do, before eventually click-clacking down the road while pushing my neutered bike. Eventually my teammate Beth came along and, bless her heart, stopped to try and help me. She had a spare tire and tools, but the only problem was she didn’t know how to change a flat, either. We both fumbled around for a bit and got as far as taking...
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