So, Maybe There Is Something Wrong With Me?

mask-style goggles

My current swimming garb

Swimming.  Ah, the enigma.

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.

And that’s the thing.  Where is my improvement?  Aren’t I overdue? 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

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

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

Swimming at Lightening Speed

extreme excitement

Extreme excitement at swimming super fast

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

Bribie Island Triathlon Race Report

Smiling

The finish line at Bribie Island Triathlon

So here it is!  This post is loooong.  Get a drink first.  Maybe get two.  If you can’t be bothered reading: I survived it.  If you want to know the juicy details, well read on…

The Lead-Up:

I decided that the day before race day I would just stay home and act normally, cleaning the house and mowing the lawn. This didn’t get off to a great start, because it was frankly very weird to wake up without an alarm clock going off – I simply woke up naturally and went and sat on the lounge chair with a book.  Yes, an actual reading book that you read when you have a thing called leisure time.  The dog looked at me as though the apocalypse was probably coming, and went to hide under the bed.

She was kind-of right.

From my triathlon research days (they seem so long ago now!) I had heard of the term The Taper – used to refer to the rest period prior to a big race – so I knew people speak of it with a mixture of hatred and fear, but I thought they were all triathletised fools who couldn’t appreciate a well-earned rest when they finally got one.

Until yesterday, when I suffered my very own Taper Day fear and hatred (note that The Official Taper for a proper triathlon is around a week, not a day!  How will I cope?) and I practically had to tie myself to the chair to prevent myself from rushing out the door for a quick run to the pool, where I thought I might try a 4km swim and then run back home to do a 70km bike ride.

Because what the hell was I thinking, that I could take a day off from training when I was about to do the ultimate training the very next day?!  It seemed so illogical!

The panic that bubbled just under the surface of my skin was quite frightening. I hadn’t done enough training. The training I had done was not good enough. I was too heavy to reach maximum speed on the run – I needed to lose 37kg within the next 3 hours. I hadn’t practiced clipping in and out enough lately. I needed to check my goggles and cap still worked.

I was on the brink of a breakdown. So at 10am I went shopping. Continue reading

Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit

Suttons Beach

Suttons Beach at Redcliffe on Jan 31, 2016

My blogging habits are the stuff of great mystery… and will remain so because it is a very boring mystery that no one would care about.  But today I can reveal that I usually follow a fairly un-magical blogging routine.

Knowing what training sessions I have lined up each week, I generally have an awareness of what to expect in each of them: what challenges will be playing on my mind; how I am feeling towards the session; etc etc.  So I lay down the ‘skeleton’ of a blog post in draft form a few days (sometimes weeks) before I am going to post it. I write in my calendar which post will go live on which day, and make a mental note of what pictures to take when the time comes, to accompany my verbal spewage.

These opening sentences you’re reading now, where I set a scene or give you the background info to help you understand what craziness I have landed myself in, are the best bits to get down early in order to ensure I’ll be off and typing at lightening speed when I get the time.

Even with ‘surprises’ like getting my first flat tyre, I had known in advance that I was going for a long ride that morning, so I had some of the information already written down as a jumping-off point when the big day arrived (although the nitty-gritty turned out very different from what I had anticipated writing the day before)

What I mean is, each day I have the bare bones of a post ready for details to be added after the event.

But today’s post on Grimsey’s Adult Swimfit is different. Continue reading

The (Mis)Adventures of Frogwoman

the Adventures of Frogwoman

The start (and probably the end) of my comic strip-writing career

The complete true story of the daring exploits of the one and only Frogwoman!

(Yes, I totally borrowed that from Superman issue 1)

Recap: A cretin on the East Coast of Australia, determined to push her mental boundaries and physical limits, Frogwoman had begun life as a normal human but morphed into a disgusting monster after torturing her ego to an extent from which it would never recover.  And after buying some hilarious-looking frog goggles.

Believing herself invincible, and fancying that she had become ‘the champion of the oppressed’ – the hero of sh*t athletes everywhere – she was unaware that her feeble attempts at (dun dun duuuun) TRIATHLON TRAINING had taken over her life, until one day she could no longer return to the simple, humble beginnings she had once known.  She would forever be… FROGWOMAN Continue reading