Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Swim, Bike, Run: Lessons I've Learned in a Week. And Putting on a Wetsuit is Half the Work of the Swim Portion!

I'm still on a writing streak!  Who knows how long it will last or if it even matters much but there is something about writing on here publicly that is a different kind of writing exercise than writing privately.  So, here's to day 5!

As I've mentioned in the last few posts, I'm seriously considering jumping in my first triathlon and using the fitness and endurance I've gained from my marathon and ultramarathon training.  Plus I have four weeks to learn a few things.  AND one special friend who happens to be an Ironman x5 athlete and coach to teach me a few things and join me for workouts! She's been beyond generous with letting me use her wetsuits and whatever I might need.  Oh, and she never makes fun of me for my old gear and ignorance when it comes to swimming and biking.  In fact, she makes me feel as if I can do and be anything I want while teaching me just by being who she is an sharing her knowledge.   Feeling grateful.  Corie moved here not too long ago from Oklahoma with her husband and three kiddos.  They decided they wanted a life change and now live here. Not only do they call Bend home, they truly take advantage of all it has to offer!  Corie's posts about their adventures and exploration here in Oregon have opened my eyes to lots.  Without someone like her, I'm not sure I'd be doing nearly as much as I am lately when it comes to trying my hand (and feet, arms, body) at swimming and cycling!  

It was only a bit over a week ago when I went out with Corie on my first real road ride.  Since then, I've had three really great rides, a few open water swims, and even did my first track/speedish workout in quite some time today!  Really, I've learned some big lessons in a week or two and I'm excited to learn more!  

A short recap below...  

Yay for an evening open water swim in the Deschutes River!  

Last night I met Corie at a spot on the Deschutes River where I was able to practice swimming in the cold river as well as swimming in a wetsuit again.  This time I also borrowed a swim cap so I wouldn't get water in my ears and end up with major vertigo.  This swim was a pleasant surprise.  Having another swimmer with me was such a COMFORT!! I was able to relax and actually practice my stroke a bit as well as get my heart rate up.

Here's what I have learned about the open water swim (particular in this river):
  • Looking ahead while swimming.  Corie showed me how to transition from my side breathing to looking ahead without having to stop swimming to see what is in front of me.  I will need a bit more practice with this.  
  • Getting a wet suit on and off is the hardest part!  Ha!  Seriously, getting that thing on is hilarious! Here's me below trying to yank it on before our swim.  Oh, and I've learned to use the padding of my fingers so I don't rip a hole in the wet suit.  
  • Swimming upriver can be nice! I can get a fantastic swim workout in the Deschutes River by swimming just a bit down stream and then swimming up against the current for most of the time.  You don't go very far but you definitely work hard!  
  • I'm no longer terrified to do the swim portion of a triathlon.  Scared, yes.  But terrified, no.  As long as I accept the fact that people will hit me in the head and be flailing about, I will just go with it.  And no shame in the beginners float, backstroke, or breast stroke.  No shame at all.  I'll crawl stroke the best I can and take breaks when I need!  
  • I have visuals for how to start taking my wetsuit off as I'm walking out of the water so I can transition to the bike more quickly.  However, I won't be like Corie and have my shoes already clipped on the pedals so I can jump into them.  Ha!  
Getting on a wetsuit is no joke.  Serious business! 

This morning I woke up early and met Corie for a bike ride up towards Mt. Bachelor so I could get used to the course that will be part of the Deschutes Dash Olympic triathlon.  I have been a little worried about how steep the downhills are.  After today, I have no doubts I can comfortable ride this route/distance in a race.  I will still be slow on the steeper downhills but I know that even with my slower bike, I will be able to hang going up! There are actually several portions of the downhill where I will be pedaling to gain some speed too so not as steep as my ride up McKenzie pass last weekend. What a beautiful ride this morning!  Twenty miles to start today...10 up the mountain and 10 down.   It was early enough to where there wasn't very much traffic at all and we were able to ride side by side for much of our ride!  Us, wildflowers, and mountain views!  Oh, and I can see why so many of you are early risers...not a bad way to start the day at all!  In fact, I can see myself doing this more and more often.  Yes!  

On our way down this morning.
A few things I've learned about cycling:
  • Riding with clip-in shoes isn't so scary after all.  In fact, I can definitely see how they are helpful.  
  • Thanks to Corie, I have such a good visual of what an efficient turnover should look like while I'm pedaling.  As soon as she described what I want my feet/legs to be doing, I was able to practice this and visualize along the way.  
  • Looking at the white line separating the bike lane and road when going fast can be helpful when zooming by shaded areas or parts of the road with a guard rail.  
  • Trust my bike and relax my hands and body.  
Oh, I also learned that bike shorts make you look like you have a penis even if you don't:
Looks like I'm wearing a diaper. Or have a penis.  
Naming my bike. I named my bike Mater after that scrappy looking truck in the movie Cars after Corie told me her bike was named The Biscuit after Seabiscuit: "Though he be but little, he is fierce."  Still wearing my diaper. 

Today when I dropped one daughter off at a camp and had an hour to pick the other up at the same spot, I took advantage of my time and hit up the track for some light speed work.  With all the endurance training and trail running leading up to my 50k, it's been forever since I've done track work.  I didn't even do much at all but it is so very obvious how out of track/speed shape I am!  Woo wee!  I did four 400s and four 200s with warm up and cool down.  Simple.  Pretty sure my 10 year old runs a faster 400 than me right now!  Granted, I wasn't running them all out but I was surely tired!  I've been running and racing for over 20 years (this makes me sound OLD!) so I didn't learn anything new today but I was reminded: 
  • Start where you are. 
  • Your body remembers.
  • You can build fitness faster than you realize if you're patient and take it one day at a time.  
  • You can be in shape in one area (endurance) and really out of shape in another (speed).  
In taking this time to swim and bike, I desperately miss my trails even though it has only been a few days.  My dog is missing his trail runs too.  I hope to get out there early tomorrow to get my trail fix!  However, bottom line:  It sure is fun trying something new!  

I loved reading your comments on my post from yesterday.  Thank you.  I hope to get some time to respond soon!  

Mostly on Instagram with my blog these days with pictures and long captions.  :) 


  1. Wow! That's awesome you have such a great teacher. And really, it looks like you're having fun. Love the name of your bike. My current bike's name is grover (sesame street) but my road bike's name is Marky Mark... One lesson I l learned way too late, if the wetsuit is easy to get on, it's too big, so looks like you're definitely learning good things early!

    1. Ha! I love your bike names! Good to know these wetsuits are just right then. I've actually had an easier time recently.

  2. Isn't it great to have a friend who is so helpful. I am really lucky to have some many tri peeps in my area and they truly are the most helpful group. This will so fun for you, Amanda. I did my first two weeks ago and I am signed up for 3 more this summer. Good luck.

    1. Hi Rene! Oh this is exciting!! Congrats. Yes, so helpful to have such supportive friends!

  3. I got bitten by the tri bug a few years back and I think it's made me a better runner as well. And in cold water, I highly recommend earplugs. I use the clearish squishy ones, the ones that appear to be made of some sort of clear putty. Not expensive stuff, and I can toss them after the race.

    1. HI Megan. You know, I can see how it would help with running for sure! I definitely need to get some earplugs!

  4. Is getting the wetsuit off easier than putting it on? I sure hope so or you'll be doing the swim and run leg in it.

  5. Getting a wetsuit off and on can be really hard!!!

  6. You are in a great shape! Running, swimming and riding the bike helps a lot!