Thursday, June 12, 2014

Wetsuit wrestling and other triathlon nonsense

Well, time sure flies when you're busy training for a half iron!  I've been swimming, biking, running, and horsing around all over the place in the last month, and apparently I didn't leave myself anytime for a quick blog update.  I'll try to catch up here as concisely as possible, since this Saturday is the big day!  The Patriot Half is this Saturday, and I'm pumped.  The weather forecast looks like AM clouds and maybe a shower, then afternoon sun, and highs in the upper 70's.  Couldn't ask for anything better.  But before I get into that, let's recap some of the more interesting parts of the last few weeks.

Wetsuit wrestling
A wetsuit is a necessary piece of equipment for early season triathlons, especially for long distances.  I had never swam in a wetsuit before since I've of course only done one tri in my life, and that was last July.  But I had gotten this super nice Xterra Vector Pro on a steal last year.  I remember getting it in the mail, attempting to get it on, giving up, and hanging it up for six months.  Well, eventually the ice melted and it was time to get in the open water, so I met up with Joe for a very chilly early morning swim a few weeks ago.
Farm Pond, Sherborn MA
The night before the swim I dusted off the wetsuit and tried putting it on again.  It took 25 minutes and I was lathered in sweat by the time I was done.  Luckily, over time I've gotten a little better at it!  The first time swimming in it was shocking.  I wasn't prepared for how buoyant it would be, and although that can be a good thing, it was alarming and I found myself fighting it a lot.  I felt like I was hanging upside down!  The biggest problem was that I couldn't breathe.  Between the tightness of the wetsuit and the cold water temperature, my lungs felt paralyzed.  I couldn't even exhale.  It was an awful feeling, but eventually with Joe's advice I was able to get things under control and had a good second half of the swim.  After that, I got in a bunch more open water swims through MRA and attended an open water clinic, and I'm feeling a lot more confident now!  I also picked up one of these awesome little inventions:

Not sure if I qualify as "competent"! 
This swim buoy is awesome.  It can hold your belongings and makes you very visible to other swimmers and boaters.  A must have for open water swimming!

And like any other piece of sporting equipment, the wetsuit found a way to chafe me.  Ah the perils of having such baby soft skin!

Grossness on the back of my neck!
And finally, does anyone else like to play "dress up" with their wetsuit and put them in funny positions?

Pavement Pounding
I've been diligently trying to get in long rides on the bike, and whenever possible I try to get someone to go with me.  But on Memorial Day I went out alone.  The weather was iffy,  but finally the weather man insisted that the rain was done, the clouds were breaking up, and we were in for a sunny afternoon.  I headed out for my 30+ mile ride, and got stuck in a rainstorm about 10 miles into it.  I pedaled through increasingly heavy rain through Grafton, Upton, and Westboro, and finally took shelter under a tree in Hopkinton until the rain let up a bit.

Hiding under a maple tree
At this point I just wanted to be done, so I hopped back on Lexi and headed home.  I got to Winter Street, which is where my favorite hill is.  I started hammering up the hill and my chain let go, and instantly I was pedaling with no resistance and toppled right over.  I thought the chain broke but it didn't (thank GOD because I was a long way from home!).  I scuffed up my knee, and my knuckle started swelling immediately, but otherwise I was fine and so was Lexi.  I tested out the chain a few times and it seemed okay so I hopped back on and continued up the hill (which was very challenging starting from a stop on that steep incline!).  Several miles later, in Upton, I got stung in the throat by a yellow jacket.  I spent the rest of the ride wondering if I'm allergic to bees, since I hadn't been stung by one in probably at least a decade.  By the time I got home and was still alive, I concluded that I must not be allergic!  That was definitely not my best ride, but all you can do is laugh it off!  Oh, and spend a butt load of money at the bike shop getting the bike fixed up.

This is my sad face, dropping Lexi off at Landry's for some repair.  This is *not* my blue steel face.
Sporting a pretty impressive bruise on my knee after the crash, which bulged out like an extra knee cap
Maximum exhaustion
Two weekends ago I hit my peak volume before starting to taper for this race.  On Saturday I did a 1 mile open water swim, then 25 miles on the bike with Marie, and then a 5 mile run.  On Sunday I met up with Rori and did a 53 mile ride with him through a bazillion towns.  I was actually tired going into the ride, and pretty pooped about halfway through.  I was also having a lot of neck pain and had to stop a couple times to stretch.  I picked a pretty sweet place to stop though!

I could've spent all day watching those chickens!  This was in Dover, MA
I was very tired by the end of that ride, and my neck was killing me.  But Rori gave me a hefty dose of Ibuprofin and a beer as a parting gift, so I'll ride with him anytime!  As soon as I got home Stanley wanted to hear all about it and make my tired legs feel better.

That busy weekend left me feeling tired for days, so I listened to my body and backed off a bit.  In the meantime, I had other things to do!

After being out of commission since winter, Rocco is finally ready for some short rides.  If there's an upside to this, I guess it was good timing since it allowed me to invest more time in my triathlon training, but I'm really looking forward to hitting the trails again with this handsome fella.

Kayaking!  Julia and I went out last weekend for Julia's maiden voyage of the kayak she got for Mother's Day.  It was only my second excursion in mine, but we looked like pro's out there and had a blast paddling around all the little islands of Lake Whitehall in Hopkinton.

So, tomorrow afternoon I head down to the race venue.  I'll be staying at a hotel about 10 miles from the race start, so I'll check in and then head to packet pickup.  They're having a seminar for race day strategies, and although by now I should have my strategy nailed down, I could probably use a few tips!  Check back in next week to hear all about the 70.3 miles of pain fun!

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