Such A Show-Off

Chocolate cake from the Grimsey Brothers on Easter Sunday. Well worth the tortuous swim.

Chocolate cake from the Grimsey Brothers on Easter Sunday. Well worth the tortuous swim.

Happy Easter, Homies!

Don’t panic; I haven’t turned into an American hipster over the course of the long weekend (although I did have a nightmare in which a really rich potato with a toupee was running for president and I had an uncontrollable desire to vote for him, so…)

I’m still an average-Joe Queenslander.  It’s just that I was sitting here, staring at my screen ready to type and had no idea what else to write except ‘Happy Easter, Homies!’

Which is when I realised that I am trying to avoid a certain topic.  A topic that is actually unavoidable on a triathlon blog. Continue reading

Straddie Nerves Kicking In

swimming poool toilets

The glamorous life of a triathlete

Now that I have no silly swimming races with which to distract myself, the unavoidable disaster that is  looming closer by the minute is The Straddie Salute.

I signed up for this race just before Christmas, as a way to bridge the massive gap between my baby Bribie Triathlon (300m-10km-3km) and the Olympic distance Noosa Triathlon coming in October (1.5km-40km-10km)

And suddenly the Straddie race day is only 7 weeks away on Saturday!  Which means THE TAPER is only 6 weeks away.  Which means PEAK WEEK is only 5 weeks away.  Which means it is time to FREAK OUT.

Let me explain. Continue reading

Bribie Island 500m Race Report

footprints in the sand

My footprints at Mooloolaba… leading me to my next race at Bribie

After recovering from the tortuous ocean swim at Mooloolaba last week, I felt sure that any swim at Bribie Island would be conquerable and perhaps even easy in comparison.  It’s so protected in the passage between the Island and the Australian mainland, it’s like swimming in a large lake, not the sea.

I wont go so far as to say I was looking forward to it – I wasn’t.  Swimming is still not ‘my thing’.  I don’t hate it (and I am improving) but I cannot imagine I will ever utter the words ‘I am looking forward to swimming that race in the ocean’.  Nope, nope, nope.  There are approximately seven hundred and thirty two thousand other things I would rather do on my Saturday, than go for a swim in the sea with sharks, jellyfish and a handful of super-good swimming folks that may or may not punch and kick me.  Especially when there is no biking or running afterwards, to make it all worthwhile.

I guess for me, the swim is simply the barrier to entry of any triathlon. Learn to do it, so that you can race the bike and run portions.  The difficulty of the swim is just part of what makes triathlon awesome – without it, the awe-factor is diminished.

Apart from being in relatively calmer waters, this race had a few other things going for it – namely, that I’ve swum in the passage before (when I did my first triathlon).  Plus, at only 500 metres long – less if you consider the current pushing me along – I felt that not a lot could go wrong.  I was also quietly confident that the field would involve a few less elite swimmers than I’d seen at Mooloolaba, so I was hoping the atmosphere would be a little more relaxed and I might see some friendly faces next to me for the length of the race, rather than being left in last place after the first 3 metres.  Continue reading

A New Tri Suit

after the swim

After seeing the photos of myself dressed like a blue sausage running around the Bribie Island foreshore on the day of my first ever triathlon, I had to let my burning eyes heal for a few weeks.

And once I could see properly again, it was clear that it was time to consider a new tri suit.

This purchase had been on the horizon for a while, especially since I discovered that I can’t go to the toilet in my beautiful blue tri suit without dislocating my shoulders and elbows to allow them to contort around and grab the zip, located on the back.

Plus, the suit was just slightly too see-through for my liking.

A not-very-interesting fact about me – I hate belly buttons.  Even typing the words makes me want to gag.  Often in the middle of a heated argument, Shane will taunt me with the threat of sticking his finger in my belly button unless I concede defeat.  It generally works.

When I realised I could see where my belly button is through my blue tri suit (there’s a dark shadow there basically) I wanted out.  Immediately. Continue reading

Moving On and Lessons Learned

should have known better

About 20 minutes before the start of the race, mum took some pictures of me warming up

We all know that I am a bit of a baby.  I put my brave face on for Saturday’s Mooloolaba Ocean Swim failure as much as possible, but at about 3am on Sunday morning (the day after my big DNF) I woke up and cried.  It finally dawned on me how scared I had felt and how much danger I’d been in.

I suppose when you need to talk yourself into doing something scary, you turn off the voice of logic and reason in your head.  Then at 3am the next day when it turns itself back on again, you have to go through the emotions of what happened.

pre-race

The pre-race photo.  Brave face enabled.

After tears and fears (and rocking back and forth in the corner for a little while) I managed to pull myself together and had a good day on Sunday not thinking about swimming too much.  The things I feel now are 1) a pride at having had a roll of the dice and maintaining my composure – not panicking! 2) an eagerness to improve and 3) a quiet confidence that the swim in my upcoming Straddie or Noosa races can’t be as bad as Saturday’s was, because they only require a ‘once out and back’ swim rather than the M-shaped course I tackled at Mooloolaba.

Granted, there will be further to swim (once I get out past the waves) in those races, but my experience on Saturday was that I could have kept swimming quite happily in the deep blue ocean – it was the breaker waves that got me.  Even faced with the same rough conditions, if I only have to go once out and once back then I should be alright.

This coming Saturday, I am going to do a short 500 metre swimming race in the passage at Bribie (the same slice of ocean in which I did my first triathlon).  And I’ve signed up for the next Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit, on Easter Sunday.  Yep, I’m getting ‘back on the horse’ so to speak.  And yep, I feel a bit apprehensive (deep down) which is why I knew I absolutely had to do these things. Continue reading

The DNF, or Mooloolaba Ocean Swim Race Report

Course Map

1km Ocean Swim Course Map

If you read my post from the morning of the 1km Ocean Swim race, you already know I was resigned to a fairly poor performance.  I’d been battling the lure of pulling out of the event entirely, but the voices in my head told me not to.

Yep, that’s when you know you’re a real triathlete – when you have voices in your head telling you to go do a 1km swim with sharks, for fun.

Oh, and in case you missed the point of the blog – you should totally do a triathlon, too!  Honestly it is the best.  I mean, who doesn’t want voices in their head?  Especially voices that tell you to go swim with sharks!  If this sounds irresistible to you, there’s no need for a doctor, just go here to read some pointers about having a go yourself.

Seriously, the best.  I would not lie to you.

So back to the dreaded, god-awful, terrifying race.  My spirits were lifted slightly when I saw the course map – two 500 metre swims with a turnaround on the beach (as per the map above) rather than a straight-up, flat-out 1km.  This seemed like an immeasurably good thing because I’d know when I got to the half-way point (there is nothing worse than thinking you’re half way and then realising you’re actually only a quarter) and I would also be able to see my mum and get some support in the middle of the race.

You may also remember that we actually practiced almost this exact course in last Sunday’s Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit Clinic.  Honestly Grimsey Brothers, where would I be without you.

So the Triathlon Gods seemed to be shining down upon me, and I even started to feel less terrified. Continue reading

The Stupid Swimming Race

smiling

At the pool, smiling peacefully as I begin the final training session before my race

Of all the things I have signed up for, and of all the things I am planning to sign up for – oh my goodness you guys are going to think I have gone absolutely batpoop insane when I blog about some of the things I am planning for the future – the stupid swimming race has got to be the absolute stupidest.

By a long, long way.

One kilometre more stupid, in fact.

I don’t know what I was thinking.  Well, actually I do – I was devastatingly unaware of the existence of the miraculous Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit when I signed up for the Mooloolaba 1km Ocean Swim.  I thought that entering a swimming race would be the only way for me to practice swimming in groups around buoys in the ocean.  Google had really let me down on that front.

Always blame Google.

I sat at my computer, a few hours after my first Open Water Swim session with soon-to-be-ex-Coach Kirstie.  It seems so long ago now.  It dawned on me that swimming in the ocean is my own personal equivalent of wrestling with bears – there is a high likelihood of death, nobody enjoys watching it much less doing it, the cruelty factor is high, it’s entirely pointless, and let’s not forget there is a high likelihood of death.

Yep, I know I mentioned it twice.

So what to do, when you have already signed up for a triathlon that involves a 1.5km swim in October but your new coach is moving to Tully and Google tells you that you have no other way to practice ocean water swimming?  Of course, you sign yourself up to do two thirds of the required triathlon swim distance 7 months beforehand.  Yes that’s right, sign yourself up to swim one whole kilometre, seven whole months before you actually need to do it.

Of course that’s the answer – if you have no actual brain cells left from your bear fight. Continue reading

For Blog’s Sake

sketch-1457673347759.jpg

Blogging is an interesting hobby.  It’s kind of weird to write what is basically a private diary on the internet, for any Tom, Dick or Harry to see.  I’m often surprised – no, mortified – at the people I like and respect who mention they read one of the posts on my blog.  I immediately want to run away and delete the entire website.

But I am glad that my sister persuaded me to start writing this rubbish down; it has really helped to keep me on track.  We all know that keeping a diary is therapeutic – well, keeping a blog is therapeutic too and also makes you accountable.  Knowing I have a blog to write means I can’t get away with just doing some training and then blocking it out of my head when it all goes to poop.  I have to sit down, relive it and lay it out in writing – to go down in history.  As a result of this, I think I have learned more from my triathlon mistakes than I would have done without a blog.

Yet another advantage of blogging is that I am able to go back over the past workouts I’ve done and see how much I have improved – or not, as the case may be.  Sometimes I’ll read an old post and find I’d forgotten nearly everything that happened.  So it helps to keep the memories alive for me, which will hopefully be very rewarding in years to come when I have returned to normal life.

So if you’re embarking on a new adventure, I would definitely recommend starting a blog (or at least writing a private diary, if you’re not in to over-sharing)

Although in saying all of that, the hobby of blogging can also be an exercise in insanity. Continue reading

Training With Gels

Endura Gel - Raspberry and Grape flavour

My gels of choice

You may remember that my report on the Bribie Island Triathlon included a mention of the very glamorous moment that I had a little vomit.  Honestly, this sport of triathlon is just perfect for ruining any image you had of yourself as being sophisticated and lady-like.  You should totally try it.

Anyway I thought that the ‘issue’ was caused by a number of factors – including nerves, swallowing copious amounts of seawater, prolonged jiggling up and down and trying an energy gel for the first time.  Which was a silly thing to do, by the way – never try anything new on race day!  How many times do I need to say it!

In fact, most people I spoke to about the race felt that the gel was mainly to blame for my tummy trouble.  But I usually have an iron stomach that can handle all sorts of gone-off milks and whatnot (apologies to those who have dined at my house, but I tend to treat ‘Best Before’ dates as ‘Buy Me Before’ dates and ‘Use By’ as ‘Begin Using By’)

So I don’t know if it was the gel’s fault.

The thing I do know is that I should train the way I plan to race – which means incorporating some gels into the longer training sessions that need it (sometimes forgoing my beloved Sesame Snaps for a gel) Continue reading

Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit – Round 2

Grimsey's Swimfit

Absolutely thrilled to be about to jump in the ocean again

If you missed the report, you can go here to read about the first Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit clinic I attended.  If you live for the moment, hate to dwell on the past and can’t bring yourself to read about things that happened a month ago, here’s the summary:

In January, I signed up for a Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit open water session that was to be held two weeks before my first triathlon – the Bribie Island Triathlon.  Prior to the clinic, I’d only completed two open water training sessions (at Bribie and Caloundra) and they had both served as rude reminders that swimming with sharks and jellyfish and seaweed is terrifying.  I didn’t do very well at Grimsey’s clinic either: I panicked; I swam slowly; I got stung by jellyfish numerous times; I got kicked in the head.  But on the drive home I realised I had survived it all, and that simple fact was a step – no, a leap – towards improvement.

That’s it, in a nutshell.

The clinic itself wasn’t hard and embarrassing and scary – ocean swimming is those things.  In fact, Grimsey’s clinic gave me the safe and supportive environment I needed to get out there – to try and make progress towards ocean swimming being less hard, less embarrassing and less scary.

So I was both dreading and looking forward to having another chance to be coached by a Grimsey before my stupid ocean race in Mooloolaba on Saturday.  Luckily, after the previous session got cancelled, the Grimsey brothers scheduled an extra clinic for yesterday and I got myself on the list. Continue reading