Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Day I Bought a Wetsuit Instead of a Vacuum

How do I hate thee?  Let me count the ways...

Tufts of black dog hair had stubbornly lodged themselves in my living room carpet.  As if that wasn't enough, sand and dirt had left a gritty texture over every square inch of my hardwood floors.  This self-proclaimed neat-freak literally has to dust off her feet before climbing into bed each evening.

When my dad visited last year, he got himself all worked up using my #2 Consumer Reports-rated vacuum.  "Jew need a Dyson, mija. This thing is a piece of shit."  Next thing I know, he's ordered me a Dyson from E-Bay.  When it arrived, I was thrilled.  My life will have not only more suction but will require zero vacuum bags!  I later discovered, after I donated my #2 Consumer Reports-rated vacuum, mind you, that my Dyson was missing all the essential attachments.  

With a shedding a dog and active outdoorsy twin daughters, I NEED a decent vacuum.  Enough of this #2 Consumer Reports rated and half-assed Dyson bullshit!  Hubs just bought himself a fucking flame thrower for Pete's Sake.  He'll use this monstrosity at most three times a year.  I use my vacuum daily, (well at least weekly... most of the time anyway).  I deserved the BEST vacuum that money could buy. 

Days went by...  I couldn't bring myself to lugging out my faulty Dyson.  A week passed...  the floors were without a doubt in the worst state of neglect ever.  Oddly, they didn't appear to be bothering anyone else in the family.  I continued dusting off my feet each evening before collapsing into bed.  Sure my family was living in squalor, but I had a 70.3 training plan.  I was exhausted from work and training that the last thing I wanted to do  was tackle the floors with a lame vacuum.  I vowed not to vacuum until I had my well-deserved new vacuum!  The weekend finally rolled around.  I was going to hit up the vacuum store in search of a new life-changing household appliance.  I had an open water swim/bike brick to complete first though.  The vacuum and the squalid living conditions would have to wait.

Off to the lake my family and I went.  My girls have declared the lake their new favorite place.  They would float alongside me as I attempted to swim 1.2 miles.  It was my second time swimming open water in a wetsuit.  My nerves had died down.  I didn't feel I was engaging in risky behavior.  My plan was to stay nice and calm, keep my strokes long and languid, breathe, breathe, breathe and cover the distance without breaks.  I just needed to get through the swim at my A-race of the year, Boise 70.3.  It would be my first half Ironman and would help me decided if  I had balls to attempt a full Ironman.

I had such a grand time swimming in the lake.  Nestled within the protective, buoyant layer of my rented wetsuit, I easily swam my distance.  As I had hoped, I was relaxed, efficient, confident. I didn't weave all over the place or drink the lake water. this time.  I was learning to love lake swimming in Oregon.  I could see myself doing a lot more of it in the future, but I would have to have my own wetsuit, not just a rented or borrowed one.  These babies don't come cheap though and what I really needed was a vacuum.  It just wasn't possible for me to have both. 

The new vacuum was a far more practical way to spend my money.   Unlike a wetsuit, it was something I would use on a weekly basis.  I thought of my ghetto Dyson collecting dust in the closet.  Then considered a new wetsuit.  Was the vacuum really that bad? It mostly worked and got the job done.  Attachments are over-rated anyway, right?  If I had my own wetsuit, I could swim whenever I wanted.  Renting and borrowing is impractical not to mention expensive.  My own wetsuit was an investment that would pay for itself after only six or seven swims. 

Vacuum.  Wetsuit.  Vacuum? Wetsuit? What was a multi-sport momma to do?  WETSUIT!  Yes, I bought the wetsuit.  Today was the day I bought a wetsuit instead of a vacuum cleaner.

Scratch and Sniff sticker: scent of neoprene

My First Open Water Swim

It was the morning of my first open water swim.  I woke up so nervous I thought I was going to throw up.  Boats!  Would they see me?  I tried to keep gruesome images of me being caught in the blades of a boat's propeller at bay.  Those images were only to be replaced with those of a drunk boat operator mowing me down.  It was Mother's Day for godsake!  My whole family was going with me to the lake to support me for my first open water swim.  Please don't let me die before their very eyes.

 Once we got to the lake I saw that the swimming portion was clearly divided from the boating section with a line and buoys.  Whew.  One less thing to worry about.  One length of the section that I would swim was three tenths of mile.  It looked like a ridiculously long ways to swim.   It would take me five lengths to cover 1.2 miles, the distance of my race.  Every single scary blog post, chapter of a book or excerpt from a movie haunted my thoughts.  My daughter, bless her heart asked on the way to the lake, if there were sharks.  Her sister, apparently unsatisfied with her father's negative response, asked how about alligators?  Nope, none of those either.  The water might be contaminated with Giardia though!  Yikes, please don't let me contract giardia.  Note to self: Keep. Mouth. Closed.

The lake was packed with swimmers, boaters, picnickers and folks of all kinds, none of whom happened to be wearing a full wetsuit.  My saving grace was a running friend, who also happens to be a kick ass swimmer, would be out swimming with me.  I ever so carefully, squeezed myself into my rented wetsuit feeling like biggest rookie ever.  Why do I always have to be the greenie asking the dumb questions and experiencing something new for the first time, I complained to my husband.  I complain when I'm nervous.  My hubs has a great coping mechanism for such instances.  He lets my words go in one ear and out the other without appearing to be disinterested or unsympathetic.  He's a real gem, that one.

We were all suited up.  I kept hearing "How I Met Your Mother" character Barney Stinson say "Suit up!"  I of course changed the phrase to "Wet suit up!"  God, I'm a nerd.  I offered another prayer before slipping into the water.  Please don't let me drown on Mother's Day in front of my family and hordes of people enjoying this amazingly sunny warm day at the lake.

I've always been a water lubber.  Nonetheless I'm one of those highly annoying folks that enters the water slowly gasping and shivering every painful inch of the way.  In my wetsuit, only my hands, feet, neck and head were exposed to the elements.  The rest of me was protected by a lovely buoyant layer of neoprene.  The water felt lovely.  I was still nervous as hell.  There was no backing out now.  I had paid my race entry, reserved a hotel, taken the time off work and trained for 16 weeks for this thing.  I was ready for the bike.  I was more than ready for the run.  The only thing I had left to conquer was the open water.  Today was the day.  I slinked deeper and deeper into the water.  The day before I had been told that I would need to 'burp" my wetsuit.  Huh?  Let a little cold water in at the neck so that it filled up any air pockets that might be trapped in the wetsuit.  I did just that.  Brrrr!

Next thing I knew, my feet were no longer touching the bottom of the lake.  It was time to put my face in the water and swim.  I did just that.  I was pleasantly surprised at how warm and buoyant I was in my wetsuit.  I swam scared that first length.  I couldn't see under the water.  I couldn't control my breathing.  I quickly tired.  With all the boat action, sighting was difficult and swimming in a straight line seemed damn near impossible.  I managed to get a mouthful of water which much to my horror I ended up swallowing rather than spitting out.  Giardia?!  Would I spend the rest of my Mother's Day sicker than a dog?  I suddenly feel queasy. Shut up! Stop it brain. I'm swimming here!

As much as possible, I kept my eye on the graceful swimming of my swim mate.  It was reassuring to have her close by.  While she could swim much faster than me, she stuck with me and kept a watchful eye over me.  I stopped several times testing out the suit, resting and regaining my bearings.  I thought I would never get across the first length.  I was thrilled when I finally did and felt the reassuring solid ground under my feet.

Could I possibly swim back across?  I wasn't entirely convinced, but I tried anyway.  This time I got light headed and dizzy.  It was quite disorienting.  I must have appeared like a drunken swimmer swerving all over the place.  I plodded on.  I took fewer breaks this time.  Once I got my mind to calm down and let go of my fear, things got easier.  Nothing bad was going to happen to me.  It is just water.  I can swim.  I could always flip over and swim on my back if things got hairy out there.  I was OK.  By my third length, I relaxed enough to find a more efficient, sustainable swim stroke.  I was starting to have fun now that I wasn't flailing around wildly and gasping for breath.  How nice it was to be swimming under the blue skies on a sunny day in a lake!  My third length felt good.  I was tired though.  I decided to end the day on a high note rather than attempt my final length.

Perhaps my swimming 1.2 miles in lake wasn't such a crazy idea after all.  If I got through that portion of the triathlon, the rest would just be gravy.  Being the overly-eager trainee that I am, I committed to swimming in the open water as often as I possibly could.  I would get my bearings and build my confidence in the warmish waters of Fern Ridge Reservoir before moving into the snow melted lakes on the outskirts of Lane County. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

5 Weeks until Boise 70.3!

Whew! I don't think I've EVER logged so many hours or expended so much energy.  Last week, I hit all my planned workouts except for a 2200 endurance swim.  This came to a grand total of 13.5 hours.  I found myself hungrier, crabbier and more focused and driven than ever.  I had to be super creative to get it all in around my work schedule, hubs' workout schedule and kids' soccer practice and games.  Hubs and I even managed to squeeze a lovely date afternoon of ice cream, cribbage in the park, dinner out and hot tub soak while the kiddos were at an extended play date.

Thankfully, after three weeks in the "build-phase", I get a slightly easier week to recover.  I'm planning on focusing on sleep and diet this week.  I have not been getting enough sleep and have been eating like crappola because I've been so stinkin' busy. I can hardly believe that after this week, I have three weeks of building, a week of tapering and then it's race day!

It is time to take care of logistics:
1.  Find and try out a wetsuit.  I've never even done and open water swim before!
2.  Get bike checked over and blessed by my buddies at Life Cycle.
3.  Figure out what I will wear race day.  Try these clothes/gear out.
4.  Practice using my watch's multi-sport function.
5.  Read over the gazillion page athlete booklet.

I have really, really, really missed my family over the weekends when my training volume is at it's peak.  I reconfigured my schedule so that my off day is Sunday so I can spend more time with them.

This week's workouts:
Monday:  Bike 45 min w/ 5X2 min hard efforts

Tuesday:  AM 1300 swim with main set of 6X75 sprints
                PM: 5 mile run (2 mi w/u, 1 mile at 10K pace, 2 mi easy)

Wednesday:  Bike 40 min moderate + 10 mins hard

Thursday:  AM 1300 swim w/ main set 200-300 pace
                 PM:  5 mile run with my speed group

Friday:  Long ride divided into two chunks.
            5AM 90 mins w/ spin class
           11:30: 2 hour ride + 15 minute ride after work before picking girls up from school.

Saturday:  AM 2000 swim w/ main set of 500 @ race pace + 12 mile run with last 2 miles at race pace.
                Girls last soccer game!

Sunday: REST.  Be with family for Mother's Day.