Regular readers will remember that in the beginning, although I was pretty crap at cycling and it took a while to learn to run properly, the swimming aspect was the stand-out disaster zone for this particular blogging triathlete. We were all on tenterhooks for the first couple of months, wondering whether The Queensland Government would actually pass a by-law banning me from all public pools in this great State, for fear of tarnishing our reputation as an upstanding member of the swimming community.
SIDENOTE: If they did pass such a law, I didn’t receive official notification, so hopefully I am safe to continue to frequent lane 5 at the Caboolture Aquatic Centre. Yes, I have my own lane. That is how quiet the pool is here, if you go outside of the dolphins’ training hours. Continue reading →
Following on from my rather pathetic whining during the Wild Horse Mountain 16.5km race and throughout the ensuing report, it is time to answer the million-dollar question that literally hundre Grandpa has asked me:
Why don’t I just buy myself the infamous fancy Garmin watch that measures distance as well as time?
Well the answer is complicated, because in case you hadn’t noticed I am a complicated soul. Turn your brain on and try to keep up because before unleashing this blog post upon the world I re-read the dribble and counted approximately 8 instances where I contradict myself or make no sense. Brace yourself… Continue reading →
Remember this? The elusive unicorn that I call Improvement, with her fairy helpers
The deeper I get into this triathlon training, the less likely it becomes that exciting things happen on a daily basis. That’s how it feels to me, anyway.
Maybe you guys would actually be really pleased to hear about the cycling I did on the spin bike at the gym for an hour, while watching ‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ and Channel 9 News on Tuesday night. But I doubt it, so I don’t write about it.
Tonight I went to the gym where I did a bike ride and watched TV. I watched that slightly weird smug guy Eddie Maguire quiz a bunch of people on the most random facts you could ever hope to not fill your brain with. My favourite question required the contestant to finish the apparently ‘typical Aussie slang’ term ‘It’s London for a _______’ and the answer was brick. Not a single person in Australia knew the answer to the question. Then I watched Channel 9 News where they evidently haven’t heard of Syria or anything. The top story was the weather ‘event’ that had passed 4 days prior.
But in spite of my training not being note-worthy, you should rest assured that I am indeed making some improvements. In fact, the Unicorn That Is Improvement has been broken by my relentless pursuit of it, and I’ve saddled her up for a slow and challenging trek through this mysterious triathlon forest.
Ah, remember the days when a Sunday Session meant a few beers (or more) in a sunny beer garden?
In my quest to become a triathlete, many things have taken on new meanings. For instance, ‘a short bike ride’ now means anything less than 90 minutes, ‘I’m going for a run’ is no longer the punchline to a joke I’m telling and ‘doing the laundry’ means untangling 20 pairs of sports socks, 7 pairs of leggings, 2 pairs of cycling knicks, 3 of running shorts, 9 sports bras, 10 fluorescent-coloured lycra tops and a swimming costume, whilst holding your breath to avoid the stink.
And so it is that, thanks to triathlon, the phrase Sunday Session now involves less beer* and actually refers to training sessions of a Sunday nature, which means that they are a bit longer, or require a special journey to get there, or are conducted in a group I can’t catch up with during the working week due to clashing schedules etc.
*I won’t claim zero beer is involved in these new Sunday Sessions, but there is definitely less beer. Continue reading →
I haven’t grown to love the swimming part of triathlon – yet. I remain ever hopeful that the day will come; I’ve had glimpses of it to tempt me (see here and here) and the gossip among ‘the swimmers‘ aka the dolphins is that there is serious fun and enjoyment to be had. So swimming love exists apparently, I just have to wait until I can stake my claim.
In the meantime, I have approached my swim sessions with something like unease and trepidation. Especially the open water swims, which I frankly dread.
The feeling I get after a swim makes it all worthwhile, so I can’t go so far as to say I hate it. Finishing a swim produces a certain feeling of relief that I can only compare to being at your in-laws’ for dinner then hearing your partner say that it is time to go home. Cue: absolute ecstasy. Except with swimming you’ve also done a workout, so it’s even better than that.
Plus, I simply can’t allow myself to hate swimming. I have already set my heart on some stupid triathlons that require me to swim stupid distances in the stupid sea. So I have to think positive, embrace the challenge and keep at it, because as humans we tend to believe that with practice and hard work, comes improvement.
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 →
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.
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.
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 →
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.
If anyone other than my Grandpa is following along with the training calendar I posted a couple of weeks ago (unlikely) you will know that this morning’s session was to be a one kilometre swim. And for once, I was able to actually stick to the plan – and a 1km swim is exactly what I did.
The idea behind the 1km swim is that I have a 1km swimming race a week tomorrow (Saturday 12th March) and I just wanted to have the confidence of swimming that distance comfortably in the pool, to assist me in maintaining a positive mental state in the race. Because I have pooped my pants a couple of times, thinking about the 1km swim with sharks and jellyfish and seaweed and thrashing arms and legs that is only a week away. Continue reading →