Training Recap: Facing Fears & The Loch Ness Monster

Training Recap: Facing Fears & The Loch Ness Monster

A lot about this weekend was facing fears. And the Loch Ness Monster.

Facing FearsI spent wasted a LOT of time thinking about it. And then thinking about it again. I was going to meet a group on Mother’s Day sunday for some open water swimming. And in that group were very experienced triathletes and coaches. So ideally, a perfect setting for a first OWS of the season.

Except, I was panicking just thinking about it.

I was actually panicking about panicking in front of people!! 

So I asked Lizzie (who is an awesome swimmer) if she’d go with me on a weekday and help overcome that panic, so I wouldn’t be panicked so much on Sunday. That was one hilarious trip! 

First, I couldn’t get my wetsuit on – because I tried to put my leg in the arm sleeves. Oops.

Open Water Swim
Tip #1 for Wetsuit swim: Don’t try to squeeze your leg into the armholes.

 After quite some time of fiddling with it, Lizzie lent me her wetsuit which went on a bit better even though it was long in the arms for me. And I got into the water and started screaming and panicking and gasping. Until FINALLY I calmed down after 30+ minutes to swim. Even then I’d gasp and shudder every time cooler water would hit me in spots. 

Open Water Swim

So that was my problem – not the fear of the Lochness monster, but the fear of the cold water. Or rather ANY temperature that was more than my Y pool which is at a ridiculous 84F!

We finished up the swim with a visit to the famous Dutch Monkey Doughnuts which totally lived up to its reputation!

Open Water Swim - Dutch Monkey Doughnuts

Saturday – My first Brick workout (Ride + Run following the ride)

By some randomness,  I reached out to Joy to see if she’d ride with me (Joy is an Ultra runner and crafter/baker extraordinaire and just all round fun!). Joy also takes awesome selfies while riding! 

Bike Ride with Joy

We met at the Silver Comet and after two false starts – one to stop and buy her a new helmet (and Josh at Silver Comet Cycles took a quick look at my bike to make sure that I had put the wheel back correctly. I had! Win!!), and the second when I realized I’d forgotten to use my Hoo-ha glide (no, it is really called that!). And riding without that is asking for disaster. 

The very first push off, my tri shorts caught a snag in my seat! Those fusion shorts are one of my favorite tri shorts and I think I might not have pulled them up tight enough, so there was a lot of fabric in my behind junk to get snagged. Luckily, no damage done – either to me or the shorts.

As with every long ride, especially one after a week’s break, I felt like a newbie but I surprised myself by riding stronger than I’d remembered. There are parts of the “flat’ trail where it is a false hill and I usually slow down pathetically. This time, I slowed down, but I was also strong. And we kept talking all throughout and didn’t stop (other than traffic lights in the beginning) until we got to the turn around point. I was a bit  hungry and that felt weird because I had my regular fuel pre-ride. We had an equally strong ride back …. until the last 5 miles. 

Bike Ride

I was out of water at about 5-7 miles out. That wasn’t too far and I could easily get back without dying I thought, passing up on a water fountain. WRONG! I faded so badly. It was getting hot(-ter) and I was getting hungry(-er) and needed that water. If this had been a run, those miles would’ve been a walk. That’s how forced the miles felt. 

Surprisingly, the blah of the last 5 bike miles didn’t feel so on the run after. Legs were fine although hips felt …umm… jiggly. And when you are built like I am, jiggly is an understatement. Another reason why I wear skirts on my run!!

Although I did fade on the bike and the ride was flat, for some reason I also felt very confident afterwards. There was something about that ride that made me feel like I could maintain it for 20 more miles even with added hills. I attribute that to a good night’s sleep! Or maybe because we cooled off in the fountain nearby! 

Bike Ride with Joy

Sunday – Open Water Swim and Base Run

The alarm at 5:20 am was too early as I yawningly drove up 50minutes to get to the lake. But it was worth every.little.bit to be greeted by the sunrising over the lake. Could there be anything more beautiful than silent nature, filling your heart with happiness and calm?

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 2.40.45 PM
The first glow
Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 2.41.05 PM
Sun’s out!

 The swim with Lizzie had helped but I still was faced with cold water (Not really that cold. It was either 74 of 76F and some  people were debating wetsuits). Dan Arnett, the Endurance Concepts coach who was leading his team into water, was very helpful and spent some time with me helping me relax and teaching me to relax in the cold water. Once that was out of the way, I swam confidently out into the deep. 

wetsuit
I bet it took me longer to put it on than to swim! Photo: The amazing Luis!

And I saw a little fish swim under me. But that was close to the shore, not in the deep. If there were fishes in the deep, the Lochness Monster would’ve eaten them all probably … now that’s not a comforting thought. 

Capped off the swim with more doughnuts. Which meant I saved my run for 11:00am. In the heat. I still have no idea how I just started to run without hesitating or hiding away with the treadmill. It was hot, and I’d forgotten my heart rate monitor, but I was happy and smiling throughout (two sets of cyclists/triathletes mentioned that as we’d pass – wondering how I could still be smiling in the heat). 

Mothers Day Run

 The weekend felt long. Not because of the training (I have had longer weekends with Dopey training), but because of all the driving involved! On Sunday alone, I drove about 2.5hrs total to swim for 40 minutes and run for 60 minutes. That’s the part of long distance triathlon training that I didn’t realize before. The DRIVING!

But I came away from the weekend with a quest for more. I want to translate that feeling I had on my bike ride, and the calmness I had on the hot run, and the skills I learnt at the Open Water Swim to something that continues to stay with me over the next 20 weeks.

(20 weeks ??!!!!! Breathe … Breathe … BREATHE)

And I also learnt an important skill during the week – changing a flat/fixing a puncture. Westside Bikes is a new bike store in midtown Atlanta that opened up about 10-15 minutes drive in peak hour traffic from work. Although I love my All3Sports and Cannon Cyclery folks, they are a bit too far for me to go on weekdays and the folks at Westside bikes have clinics every Wednesday (they plan to add a ride from the location too). So another option if you are local to Atlanta and work/live near midtown or downtown.

I still need to go back and work on it more to be proficient, but yet another step in learning to be confident on the #LongRoadToAugusta and learning to #RedefineImpossible.

tire clinic

And the Loch Ness Monster? Much like dear old Nessie, it is something that my brain comes up with from time to time.  But I’m ready for her if she happens to show up! I’m facing fears and not letting it overwhelm me!

Facing Fears - wetsuit

How was your week of training?
How do you bottle that perfect feeling you get to draw on it during hard workouts or race day?
Is it summer already where you are? How are you adapting to the heat?

I’m Linking up with Tara from Running’n’Reading for the Weekend Update. 


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  • So I am a little afraid of what lurks beneath the water as well. I try to talk myself out of being scared.

    • Are the waters near you clear? Georgia lakes are notoriously murky!!

  • Congrats on the OWS Smitha! I am following closely as my own first OWS is not too far off. In fact this past weekend I tried on wetsuits, which was a fail as they were all too small. Haha! I too need to learn to change a bike tire.

    • Wetsuits are a great way to deflate one’s ego just when you think you are looking good! Hope you find the right wetsuit.

  • Congrats on the OWS (and the donuts). It definitely gets better with experience. My first OWS was in the Potomac River – yuck. I didn’t even want to put my face in. Now I’m used to the low vis, although I do occasionally get sea/lake critter heebie jeebies.

    • Our lakes are like that too – murky and zero visibility. Although I must say they are clean only because they are lakes near mountains. Or I assume that they are clean.

  • Way to go conquering the OWS! I also have to drive a fair bit to get to any decent place to OWS.

    • I’m trying to go back and add in the driving time to tri training! Would be a cool infographic at the end of it all.

  • I just read a book called Waters Edge where these 2 guys were searching for Nessie. Pretty good read! Glad you didn’t find him/her.

    • Thanks for the book suggestion! I’d love to read it. I love books like that!

  • Sue Tate

    You triathletes amaze me. When I grow up I want to be one, but I’m too afraid of the swim and I would totally put the wet suit on wrong! 😉

  • Sounds like a great week of training! Very impressed at the tire changing.

  • Pingback: Open water swimming tips — "Faux" Runner ... No More()

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