My First Transition Clinic and Open Water Swim

My First Transition Clinic and Open Water Swim

Early in my first triathlon season back in 2008, I attended a transition clinic to learn about how triathlon transitions work. For those of you not in the know, a triathlon has two transitions, one from the swim to the bike and one from the bike to the run. The transition area is where you run into when you emerge from the swim and store items like your wetsuit, bike, bike gear, running shoes, extra water bottles, a large pepperoni pizza, one of those “Hang in there” inspirational posters, etc. Since I didn’t know anything about transitions (or triathlons, for that matter), I went to the clinic to learn how to ease from one sport into the next without looking like a complete asstard.

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Rest in Peace, Zombie Toenail

If you read the Great American Novel otherwise known as my Ironman Canada race report, you’ll recall how I mentioned that a couple of my toenails turned purple after the race. Here’s a picture of the initial discoloration in case you forgot: The pinky toe managed to survive, but alas, I lost Thaddeus von Middlenail. Maybe I’ve been watching too much of The Walking Dead lately, but I coped with the impending death of my toenail similar to a zombie apocalypse survivor having to deal with the fact that his loved one had become infected and was starting to turn. First, there was hope. Despite hearing from numerous people (including Running Magazine) that my purple nurple nail was dying and would fall off, I thought that maybe if I just left it alone, it would pull through. It’s like if Jas got bit by a zombie and I said, “Well, we don’t know for sure if he’ll turn. Maybe different people have different reactions…yes, I’m aware that a huge bite-sized chunk of his arm is missing.” So instead of accepting the fact that my toenail was indeed going to fall off, I masked its rapid discoloration with some nail polish.┬áIt’s akin to wrapping a scarf around my infected boyfriend and pretending that he’s now okay: After a while, though, my toe started to throb and I was distraught to discover that pushing down on the nail caused a clear liquid to ooze from underneath it. I thought to myself, “Well that’s not normal,” and resorted to covering the whole mess up with a Band-aid. Out of sight, out of mind! Zombie equivalent: The toenail eventually stopped oozing and things got quiet for a while. When I finally took the nail polish off my toes, I was surprised and a bit unsettled to see that my toenail was no longer purple, but white-ish. It was as if it tried to emulate my other healthy toenails but couldn’t quite pull it off. It looked the color of bone. That couldn’t be a good sign. Over the next couple months, the toenail went through varying degrees of looseness. Some days I’d be able to wiggle the hell out of it, while other days it’d feel more firmly planted, giving me false hope that things were finally looking up… …until one fateful night when, while Jas and I were sitting on the couch, watching TV, I halfheartedly wiggled my toenail to assess its condition, as I’ve grown accustomed to doing. To my horror, it was super loose. In fact, after a couple wiggles, I was able to successfully detach it completely on the right side and along the bottom, leaving a 1/3 attached toenail that resembled the spine of a book. Oh god, it had finally turned. I was looking at Zombie Toenail. I was devastated. The little guy was supposed to pull through, not succumb to the sickness and die! After sadly flicking my deceased toenail back and forth and thoroughly grossing my poor (non-zombie) boyfriend out,, I knew what I had to do. This bad boy needed to get removed, and the sooner the better. Since I was a nail-losin’ virgin, I didn’t know whether to take the thing off myself or to consult a professional. The problem with my toenail was that it was actually still pretty firmly attached on the one side that was left, as if it was clinging on in futile hopes that it would somehow prevail. I didn’t really feel like torture porning my own toenail out with a pair of pliers, so I asked Dr. Perry about it when I saw him for my foot...
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Bloody Feet at Ironman Boise 70.3

Bloody Feet at Ironman Boise 70.3
I’m finally getting around to writing my race recap of Ironman Boise 70.3. In a nutshell, it didn’t go great. In fact, everything that could go wrong pretty much did go wrong, except for the fact that I didn’t have any mechanical problems on the bike or any flat tires. Other than that, Boise was a bust but I still managed to PR by 20 minutes. Prologue The half Ironman was on a Saturday and boasted a point-to-point bike course (meaning two transition areas instead of one) and a 2 pm start. On paper that sounded awesome — you got to sleep in instead of getting up at butt crack of dawn o’clock, and you could get a proper meal instead of choking down oatmeal. Huzzah! I put off signing up until the week of the race because I had been having knee problems lately and wanted to make sure my body felt healthy before shelling out a couple hundred dollars for the race. Unfortunately for me, they closed online registration the week of the race so I had to sign up in person. Traveling to the Race Jason and I loaded up the Subee, strapped our bikes onto the hitch and drove the 8 excruciatingly boring hour drive through eastern Washington, most of Oregon and into Boise. The drive pretty much consisted of the following: brown nothingness brown nothingness brown nothingness ridiculous thunderstorm brown nothingness Pre-Race Preparations We finally got to Boise, and the next day Jason and I headed to the Expo Center to pick up our registration packet. I had to sign up in person and was forced to bequeath my unborn child over to the Ironman brand (Jesus Christ, race-day sign up is so freakin’ expensive). I also decided to rent race day wheels to see what they were like. They were kind of pricey but still tons cheaper than buying a set of race wheels (which can cost $2,000 and up). After Jason and I finished up at the Expo Hall, we drove over to the swim start so we could drop off our bikes at T1. After a test bike ride, we got in the water for a 10 minute swim, and holy hell was that water cold. I flailed around for a couple meters before running into a group of idiot kids who thought it was a good idea to take a dip in the sub-60 degree water in bikinis and swim trunks. I had the following conversation with one of them: Him: “Are you still cold even in your scuba suit?” Me: “Yeah, this water is pretty cold.” Him: “I’m freezing! How much did your scuba suit cost?” Me: “It’s not a scuba suit, it’s a wetsuit.” Him: “Oh…how much did your wetsuit cost?” Me: “$650.” Him: “Really? I only have $5…how much does it cost to rent a wetsuit?” At that point I was thinking, “Screw you, junior, I’m not lending you my suit,” so I swam off and finished my miserable workout. Race Day The next morning we woke up and went downstairs to eat breakfast in the hotel’s dining area. I grabbed a bowl of cereal but upon looking down at it, I felt a sudden wave of nausea overtake me so I only managed to poke at it with my spoon and not eat anything. When we got back to our room I promptly threw up. Twenty minutes later I yakked again, barfing up water and foamy stomachy goodness. Jason looked at me with a mixture of empathy and disgust, asking if I was feeling okay and if I should race. I called Teresa for advice. Teresa:...
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Pool Lane Etiquette for the Swimmer’s Soul

If you participate in lap swim at a public pool (whether you’re at the Y, a community pool, or your fancy schmancy gym), you’ve witnessed a spat about pool lane etiquette. Every pool has its own rules that swimmers must adhere to, and every swimmer has his or her own interpretation of these rules. Below I’ve shared three pool scenarios that my friends and I have encountered. Hopefully you’ll learn from these anecdotes and remember to play nice while sportin’ your Speedo and goggles. Scenario #1: Getting in the Pool Scenario #1 was witnessed by fellow mediocre athlete and training buddy Beth Garrison. There was an incident at her gym between two irate swimmers. One swimmer was doing laps in a lane when the other one entered the pool area and wanted to begin his workout. Since the lanes were full, he decided to hop into a lane occupied by someone else. The only problem is this dumb ass decided to hop into the pool at the exact same moment the swimmer in the lane was doing his flip turn. As expected, this resulted in a collision and some exchanged words. The end result is that now multiple lifeguards need to babysit the lap pool. Yep, the lap pool full of grown adults is more staffed than the kiddie pool area. Lesson learned: If you have to share a lane with someone, make sure you hop in when he or she isn’t at the same end as you. Also, getting the swimmer’s attention and letting him/her know that you’re going to be sharing is a plus. (I recommend whacking the swimmer in the head with a water noodle, or maybe dipping your toe into the water and going “Yoo hooooooooo.” Or maybe not.) Scenario #2: Sharing a Lane Scenario #2 occurred when Jason and I arrived at the public pool near our house to do a swim workout. We showed up after work, so the pool was pretty packed. There were four lanes available: Easy, Medium, Fast, and Very Fast. The Easy lane had 2 swimmers in it and the other lanes had 4. Logically, Jason and I opted to go into the Easy lane because it was the least crowded. (Also, we’re slow swimmers. Don’t you judge us.) We started our workout and eventually the woman in our lane left, leaving us with an overweight older man sporting baggy red swim trunks, gigantic goggles and some ridiculous pool accessories. His workout consisted of “running” up and down the lane, and he was quickly getting irate that Jason and I were swimming and constantly passing him. He got so irritated that he stopped at one end of the pool, glared at us for a few laps, and finally resorted to complaining to the lifeguard that we were swimming too fast for the Easy lane. Yeah, that’s right, Jason and I got tattled on by an old man who was jazzercizing during lap swim. As expected, the lifeguard shrugged at the dude as if to say, “What the hell do I care?” Unsatisfied, the man waited until we swam back to his end and started whining to us about how we’re swimming too fast, dagnabbit! (If he had a cane he would have shook it at us.) Jason pointed out to him that this lane was by far the least crowded and that it’s not fair for him to hog a lane to himself just because he’s excruciatingly slow. They continued to argue back and forth (but thankfully refrained from angrily splashing each other), with the man eventually challenging Jason to guess how old he was. Jason’s response, logically, was...
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My First Open Water Swim Could Have Been Worse If I’d Drowned

My First Open Water Swim Could Have Been Worse If I’d Drowned
Last February when Rebecca and I decided to tackle our first season of triathlons, my most immediate concern revolved firmly around the fact that I am strongly opposed to drowning. Not only that, but the last time I had done any swimming outside of treading water in a lake or jumping around in the ocean like a total idiot was probably around 10 years ago. So, knowing we had only a matter of months to get from a “dead man’s float” and advanced dog paddle skill level to a manageably decent crawl stroke, we both set off for the local pool. I’m pretty sure our first swim was only 1200 meters, but somehow we managed to drag the ordeal out for almost an hour. In hindsight, I appreciate the fact that the lifeguards were able to keep their laughter to themselves. We both swam with our heads almost entirely out of the water, feet dragging under the surface, gasping for air with every single stroke. It was an exhausting ordeal, and quickly became apparent that we should probably seek out some guidance and try to hone our technique prior to our first race. Over the next twelve weeks we participated in a triathlon swim training class at the Seattle Athletic Club that helped provide us with some basic technique, and took us from being humiliatingly awful swimmers to just being competently poor. During that time we practiced sighting, breath control, and even some simulated group starts. So, as we continued to practice my confidence slowly grew. Here’s where it’s important to note the two distinctly different approaches Rebecca and I take with regard to our training. Where she tends to be extremely hard on herself and constantly question whether or not she is going to be able to accomplish something, I typically inflate myself into believing that if someone else can do it then so can I. As a result, in the weeks leading up to the race she had wisely decided to get in a couple of open water swims with our training group while I had come up with some excuses and quickly rationalized that “swimming is swimming.” Fast forward to the day of my first race, the Issaquah Sprint Triathlon. We arrive at the race with plenty of time to setup our transition area. Rebecca and I were both fairly nervous because it was our first race, and I was suddenly becoming concerned about the fact that despite all of the in-pool training, I hadn’t done a single open water swim. However, after surveying the 400 meter course I was able to calm myself by talking through how ludicrously close each of the buoys looked to the shore. “400 meters is nothing,” I told myself. “I can do this in my sleep, open water or not.” I confidently made my way into the water and prepared for my age group’s start. The gun goes off and I am swimming like I’m in the anchor leg of a 50 meter relay. It’s an all out effort the likes of which I’ve never put forth and I’m in the middle of a strong pack. Unfortunately, amidst my race day excitement and foolish bravado I’ve forgotten that I am NOT a very strong swimmer, and as my lungs begin to give out a sense of panic starts to set in. “What the hell was I thinking?” Now not only am I getting run over by everyone smart enough to go out at a sustainable pace, but I am also one-hundred-percent convinced I’m going to die before I round the first buoy. Somehow I manage to talk myself out of...
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