Weekly Recap (10/17-10/23)

Monday: Swim—2850 yards
I had a fairly late night on Sunday, so Monday morning was a bit rough.  But I made it up and to swim practice.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
5 x 50 (10 kick roll)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
2 x 200 @ 3:00
100 kick
2 x 200 @ 3:00
100 kick
2 x 200 @ 3:00
100 easy
200 fast (2:37)
We were supposed to swim all the 200s except the last one at the same pace.  I didn’t do a great job at that, and my times ranged from 2:45 to 2:55.  It would have been better to have closer to a five second discrepancy instead of a ten second discrepancy.  However, I was able to rally and swim a strong final 200.  In fact, I ended up swimming it with a negative split.  And with the time I swam in practice, I think that a sub-2:30 200 is possible if/when I decide to swim the 200 in a meet.

Tuesday: Run—3 tempo miles, 5.95 total (51:40)
I went to work early so I could go for a run over my lunch hour. I was dreading this run. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to manage three miles at a 7:15/mile pace in a practice session, and I knew it would be a hard workout. So I put it off for as long as I could before begrudgingly leaving the office at 11:45am. However, despite my protestations, the run went well, and I hit my target goals and then some.
1.77 miles @ 9:43 (17:18)
3 miles @ 7:06 (21:17)
1.18 miles @ 11:04 (13:04)
This workout was hard.  I started out a little too fast and did slow down some, but I ran strong and stayed tough.  I think that I stopped at the exact right spot. Since there wasn’t a road right where I stopped, I based it on the driveway of an office building, and I think I stopped at the correct entrance. If not, I ran the tempo portion of the run around 15 seconds slower than reported above (or about a 7:11/mile pace).  I like this route for tempo runs.  It’s not quite flat, but it’s flat compared to the rest of the terrain in the Salt Lake area.  However, there are still a few bumps here and there to get your legs working.  I felt relatively positive about my upcoming 5k after this workout.

Wednesday: Swim—2450 yards
I went to Masters swimming, and much to my delight, we were working on freestyle as our stroke.  Thank goodness!
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
6 x 50 (10 kick roll)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
2 minute kick (~100 yards)
3 x 50 (some drill)
2 minute swim (150 yards)
3 x 50 (with 6-beat kick)
2 minute swim with overkick (~150 yards)
3 x 50 (hip drive)
2 minutes swim maximum yards (~150 yards)
3 x 50 (early vertical forearm)
200 fast (2:40)
I swam most of my “fast” swims around :40/50 yards, so my coach said that from now on, when we do 50s, I should try to swim them under :40.  It’s good to have a target to aim for.  I was a little disappointed with my final 200 and wished I could have swum it a little faster, but that’s how it goes sometimes.  For the most part, I felt good about this workout.

Thursday: Bike—16.11 miles (59:16)
It was nice to get back on my bike again.  I went on a fairly short post-work ride.  It was cool but not cold.  Perfect fall riding weather.  I rode hard-ish, but I didn’t go crazy out there.  There was nothing too memorable about this ride.  I got to see some nice fall colors and enjoy the cool weather.

Friday: Rest
I took a rest day because I was racing the next day.  I enjoyed sleeping in and having an entire evening to get some chores done and watch a movie.

Saturday: Run—Haunted 5k (21:42.1)
I’ll write up a race report for this, but the race went well, and I had fun out there.  It was a hard race, but I was satisfied with how I performed.

It was an absolutely beautiful day!

Rob and I had some friends in town, so I took the day off. I’m going to try to hit it pretty hard next week and get a few solid weeks of run workouts in before my Turkey Trot in November.

Becoming a swimmer

Generally, triathletes are divided into two categories in regards to the swim: lifelong swimmers and adult-onset swimmers.  The former swam competitively throughout their childhoods and have no trouble jumping back into the water years later and becoming front-of-pack swimmers.  The latter often spend months or years frustrated in the pool as they try to learn a skill that is so completely different from the athletic events in which they participated while growing up.

I don’t really fit into either of these groups.

I didn’t swim competitively as a kid.  I took the regular rec center swim lessons that many American kids did while growing up.  I had to repeat a few levels.  It certainly didn’t feel like something for which I had a natural aptitude.  But I did take lessons long enough to learn the basics of all the strokes.  I mean, I couldn’t actually do all the strokes, but I knew the general idea.

When I was in high school, my mom brought up the idea of taking a course to become a swimming instructor.  She thought it would be a good summer job to have and would keep me from having to flip burgers or do hard labor (thanks, Mom!).  So I agreed, and my older sister and I took the class together.  This time, I actually learned how to do each stroke.  I didn’t learn how to do them all well, but I got the general idea.  It still didn’t feel natural, and I specifically had a hard time with breaststroke and butterfly.  The timing of the strokes was a huge struggle for me.  I didn’t quite have them down by the time the course ended, so I had to practice some on my own.  I would drive down to the local rec center and either attempt flail across the pool (butterfly) or spend half the lap floating when I should have been gliding (breaststroke).  And I just kept trying, lap after lap after lap, until something clicked.  The “click” didn’t turn me into a master of these two strokes, but it did allow me to have a basic understanding of the timing and of how each stroke should actually feel which let me properly demonstrate it and pass the class.

Then, I taught 3-6 year olds how to blow bubbles and float for a few years and promptly lost the ability to do those more advanced strokes.

I did, however, eventually start swimming for fitness.  Once I quit running track, I swam on and off fairly regularly, depending on what else was going on in my life and whether there was a pool available to me for free or not.  Even after taking year-long breaks, I could always hop back in the pool and swim far enough that boredom, not fitness, was my limiting factor.  I was slow, but I wasn’t struggling from wall to wall.  And I liked swimming.  I found it peaceful and comforting.

So when I decided to sign up for my first sprint triathlon (with a pool swim!), I wasn’t worried about the swim.  I knew I could get through it.  I felt the same when I started training for my half Ironman.  I knew I could cover the distance.  I was worried about the bike because I was a complete newbie to cycling when I started triathlon, so I actually cut out a lot of the swimming workouts and replaced them with more cycling.

And I totally managed the swim.  However, throughout my first few years of triathlon, I didn’t see a ton of improvement in that area.  So once I signed up for an Ironman, I decided to start attending Masters swim team.  At the very least, I figured the other swimmers and the structure would help me improve, even if I didn’t increase my actual yardage much.


Sure enough, I improved pretty significantly last year.  So significantly, in fact, that my brain fell behind my ability.

Throughout the past year and a bit of attending a Masters group, I’ve been plagued by a lack of confidence.  This lack of confidence didn’t cause existential angst.  It didn’t bother me at all because until recently, I didn’t even realize it was there.  I just assumed I couldn’t hit times or learn strokes or hit certain milestones.  100s at 1:40?  I can’t do that!  And then when I did… 100s at 1:35?  No way!  A 1:04.95 in the 100yd freestyle?  That’s way too fast.  The time must be wrong.

I find myself doing this constantly, certain I can’t keep up with a particular person or hit a particular time.  A month or so ago, after mentioning to my coach that I hit the interval even though I was certain I wouldn’t be able to, he said, “You know, I think you need to start adjusting your expectations for yourself.”

And he’s right.  I need to start seeing myself as a capable swimmer instead of just as someone who can swim well enough to compete in triathlons.  I need to notice my improvements and get excited about improving further.  In short, I need to become a swimmer.

Even with my regular Masters workouts, I think I still have a lot of room for improvement.  I swim about 7,500 yards a week, a far cry from the 15,000-20,000 that “real” swimmers do a week.  While I don’t have the time to do that regularly, I’ve decided to do a swim-focused block of training this winter.  I am going to spend eight weeks focusing on swimming.  I plan on doing this in January and February for two reasons.  First, during that period of time, I’ll be happy to be indoors.  Second, it’s not a period of time that will be chopped up by holiday traveling.

I’m—dare I say it—excited about seeing where a more focused approach to swimming this winter takes me.  I’m sure it will help me in my triathlons, but I’m already trying to think like a swimmer and consider my open swimming times as well, not just this year but in the years to come.  It can take years of pretty dedicated swimming to reach your full potential, so I’m looking forward to seeing just what that potential might be for me.


Weekly Recap (10/10-10/16)

Monday: Swim—2550 + whistle kicks
I felt much better waking up Monday morning than I have in a long time.  I think the weekend of sleeping in really did me some good.  We did a distance day, and I performed better than expected.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (distance per stroke)
5 x 50 (closed fist)
Whistle kicks (5 minutes)
100 easy
We were supposed to swim all the intervals at either at the same or at a faster pace than we swam the first 200.  I swam the first 200 just over a 1:30/100yd pace, so I was a little worried about keeping that up.  However, the middle two intervals felt manageable.  And the first half of the 500 felt manageable, if a bit difficult.  I turned it on a bit for the last 200 or so, but it was a bit difficult because I was starting to catch people at that point, so I’d swim hard, end up on someone’s feet and have to slow down, then pass them at the wall.  And there was a little miscommunication that ended in a collision right as I was heading into my final 25.  I still finished in 7:12, which is a practice PR for me, so I’ll take it.  I think under the right conditions, though, I could pretty easily go sub-7:00.  That’s officially on my radar now.

Tuesday: Run—Hill repeats, 5.13 miles total (57:19)
I struggled with my run on Tuesday, and I’m not sure if it’s due to my abilities on the day or because of the difficulty of the workout.  Since my next 5k is fairly hilly, I decided I should do some hill repeats.  So after work, I suited up and headed out.  I chose a steep hill near Rob’s place—so steep, in fact, that we never ride our bikes up (or down) it.  The portion I was running was .29 miles long, and I started with the notion that I would try to hit a sub-8:00/mile pace going up it, which comes out to about 2:12 for each repeat. It turns out that wasn’t going to happen.
1.57 mile warmup
4 x .29 mile hill w/ downhill recovery (2:25, 2:34, 2:28, 2:30)
1.63 mile cooldown
I started with the intention of doing 4-6 repeats, and halfway through the first, I knew I was only going to be running four.  My legs were already burning.  I’m starting to think maybe my choice of hill accounts for the difficulty of this workout.  The uphill was constant (except for a brief respite caused by an intersection halfway up), but the grade lessened significantly about two-thirds of the way up.  Even with that flatter portion, the overall grade of the hill (calculated later) is 8.75%.  Also, most of the hill workout stuff I read (after the fact, of course!) suggested hill repeats should be about 90 seconds long.  If/when I do this workout again, I’ll probably cut the distance in half and do 6-10 repeats up that shorter hill.

Wednesday: Swim—2300 yards
I worked on breaststroke on Wednesday, and it wasn’t horrible.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (kick, swim)
3 x 50 (closed fist)
4 x 50 (breaststroke with dolphin kick)
4 x 50 (3 second glide)
4 x 50 (two kick breaststroke)
4 x 50 (focus on form)
100 easy
4 x 100
50 easy
I have a lot of work to do to catch up with my current lane on stroke days, but it’s always a challenge, and challenges are good.  I’m hoping that consistently attending practice on Wednesday throughout the winter helps me improve in this area.

Thursday: Run—9.14 miles (1:18:34)
I went out for a long run on Thursday morning.  And it actually felt good!  This was my longest run by a couple of mile since my Ironman, so I was worried about how it would go.  But I felt strong the entire time.  I started off nice and slow.  I was feeling pretty tired at the end, so I worried I had started out too fast.  However, it turns out the reason I was tired towards the end is because I sped up.  I managed a nice negative split on this run.  It was a bit of a confidence booster that I needed.

Friday: Rest
I rested and drove up to Idaho for another wedding.  It was a long drive, and I wished a few times that I was going for a five hour bike ride instead of a five hour drive.

Saturday: Run—5 miles (39:31)
I ran with my dad, as I usually do when I visit my family.  We had a strong run and got faster consistently throughout the five miles.  In fact, I managed to run the final mile in just under seven minutes.  I felt strong while doing so, and my dad even commented that my stride looked easy and relaxed.

Sunday: Rest
I drove back to Salt Lake and spent the evening working on a time-sensitive project (hence the hurried nature of this weekly recap!).

Review: You Need a Budget (YNAB)

Disclaimer: I took advantage of the free trial offered to all new YNAB subscribers.  I have not communicated with anyone associated with the product.  All opinions are my own.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m a money-hungry capitalist stingy frugal.  This has served me well throughout the years.  My financial awareness helped me navigate through grad school on an $800/month stipend without taking out any additional loans and helped me pay off my minimal student loan debt from my undergraduate degree (a shout-out to my parents for enabling me to take out only minimal loans!) within a year or two of graduating with my MA.

So I kind of thought I had the financial thing down.  When I first randomly ran across YNAB (You Need a Budget), I thought it was a nice system, but I didn’t think I had any use for it.  I was doing just fine.  However, after a few very large and unfortunately-timed financial mishaps (namely, stolen and wrecked cars), I found myself suffering from a lot of anxiety about finances.  My financial anxiety is probably the main reason I’m relatively good with money.  I learned that I’d rather have a large buffer of money than a constant large knot in the pit of my stomach.

One day, I was reading a story on the YNAB website about a family paying off their debt (that and Ironman race reports are what my inspirational reading consist of!).  I started exploring their web page, and I found myself at a list of their rules, which I had actually read before.  However, the first rule jumped out at me in a way that it hadn’t before, and I suddenly started to wonder if maybe I could use this product and if it might help reduce my anxiety about money.

YNAB operates on four basic “rules”:

  1. Give every dollar a job. This is the rule that I suddenly saw in a new light.  I had always left myself some buffer room in my budget, in case I went over in any one category.  Suddenly, I realized that this unaccounted for money wasn’t going straight into my savings.  I had no accountability for this money, so it was going this way and that way.  Sure, sometimes it covered something needed like a parking ticket.  But usually it went to Barbacoa burritos because I was feeling too lazy to cook.
  2. Embrace your true expenses. This was something I already (mostly) did.  Essentially, everyone has expenses that don’t happen every month, whether it’s paying $300 for car insurance every 6 months or signing up for your annual Ironman.  The folks at YNAB suggest that you sock away money every month for these “true expenses” so that you are prepared when it’s time to address them.  I did this monthly for the most obvious expenses (like insurance and Christmas), but not for less-obvious expenses like general gifts or car maintenance.
  3. Roll with the punches. Don’t freak out if you go over budget.  Just find another category you can slash to make up the difference.
  4. Age your money. This rule used to be “live on last month’s income,” which I think is a little clearer.  Again, this was something I was already doing.  At the end of each month, I’d have a full month’s salary in my checking account, and any extra would be transferred to my savings account.  The benefit is that I never had to worry about what bill was being paid when or about overdrafting because I forgot I hadn’t been paid yet.  With a full month’s salary in your checking account, you can just swipe your debit card and call it good for all regular purchases.

So, I signed up for a free trial, starting using the software regularly, and promptly forgot about this draft post in lieu of Ironman training.  Now, I’m coming back to it with my thoughts and opinions after using it regularly for several months.

The basic approach of YNAB is to only budget the money you literally have at the moment.  The question you are supposed to ask yourself is, “What does this money need to do before I get paid again?”  When you get paid, you put the money you have into specific categories associated with specific months and then spend from those categories.  In that way, it’s essentially a digital envelope system which is perfect for me.  I love the way an envelope system helps you visualize your budget, but I’m far too lazy to use a traditional cash-only envelope system, and having a bunch of different checking or savings accounts is overwhelming to me.

Once you’ve budgeted out your money, you spend from your categories instead of from your balance total.  In other words, if you go grocery shopping, the money you spend comes from the grocery category.  Once the grocery category runs out, you just have to stop eating. (Well, really, if you overspend, you can transfer money from another category to cover it.)  For me, this helps created a false sense of scarcity.  Sure, my dining out category and my gas category may be looking flush.  But if my grocery category is struggling, I’ll be careful about what I spend on groceries.  In other words, I see that I only have $15 left in my grocery budget (looks like it’s time for soup!) instead of seeing that I have $150 left to spend in all before the end of the month.

A sample transaction using the mobile app.

Throughout the months, I’ve fine-tuned my categories.  For instance, I found myself never wanting to buy deodorant or shampoo because it was just coming out of my grocery budget.  Obviously, I need those things.  So I created a new “Beauty and hygiene” category for that kind of stuff.  YNAB deals with this kind of flexibility and change very well.  I haven’t had any issues crop up after rethinking my budget categories.

I started using the software near the end of May with the express purpose of saving up for a “new” car.  In the five months that I’ve been using it, I’ve managed to save just under $4,000 towards that goal, and since I tend to buy older cars, that means I’m almost there.  I did that while in the build-up to my Ironman (expensive!), contributing (a little) to my retirement, and without making the big bucks to begin with.  I suspect I’ll be financially able to start looking for a car by the end of November.

A few highlights for me:

I knew I had to get my driver’s license renewed this year.  I also thought I would need to get a new copy of my birth certificate to do so.  I contributed money to my “Legal/Paperwork” category for a few months so I’d have the cash on hand.  And then, I didn’t need a birth certificate and my new license was way less expensive than I thought it’d be.  So I ended up being able to put a hefty chunk of cash in my new car fund.

I grossly underestimated the amount of money I’d spend on triathlon the month of my Ironman, and new race tires emptied out my triathlon budget (and then some).  So I moved some money from my Darn it Fund (which is a category created to fund any overspends or things I forgot about) to cover it.  If I hadn’t had that category, I could have essentially borrowed money from myself and taken it from a category I knew I wouldn’t be using for a while.

My fall is packed with birthdays and weddings.  Instead of spending a lot of money in September, October, and November, I started stashing gift money away in May so that all of the gifts won’t be an issue at all.

When I’m tempted to be lazy and get takeout or fast food for dinner, I am now able to see how much money I have in that category.  Usually, it’s not worth it.  Over the past four months, I have been so much better about deciding to get takeout or go out for dinner because I want that experience and not because I’m feeling too lazy to make a simple dinner.

A few lowlights:

I hate entering the transactions, and I’m really bad at it.  You can often sync YNAB with your bank, but I don’t like doing that, so I tend to get behind on transactions and enter them every few days.  It’s usually fine, but I can never remember if my Smith’s transactions are for gas or groceries.  This is not the fault of the software but rather the result of my own laziness.  The mobile app actually makes it really convenient to enter transactions as you go.

Periodically, I’ll click on something and suddenly that fund is full of money or a bunch of money (that I don’t have) goes to completely fulfill a goal I’ve set.  There’s always a brief moment of panic, but the undo button does its job and I try to remember what that particular click does for next time.

The goal functionality is a little annoying.  I had a goal set up for my gifts category (a certain amount by September, when the birthday and wedding tsunami started to hit).  Well, once I started spending money for those gifts, obviously the amount in that category started to go down and went below the goal amount.  So I just had to delete the goal once I reached it and moved past it.  It would be fun to actually check off the goal as finished or something like that.

My verdict after using the software for a few months?

Try it.

Unless you are already using budgeting software that works for you (and maybe even if you are!), you should give YNAB a try.

The number one thing that YNAB helps me do is see what I have left at the end of the month and make an actual decision with it.  Previously, as the end of the month approached (bills paid, planned contributions to savings account made), I’d take a look at my bank account.  If I had money left above and beyond my one-month buffer, I’d feel okay spending it.  On whatever.  It was “free money” at that point.

Now, at the end of the month, I can see which specific categories have money left over and can actually make a conscious decide what to do with it.  Twenty dollars left over in my grocery budget?  I’ll let it roll over to next month’s grocery budget because that’s the category I tend to overspend most frequently.  Thirty dollars left in my gas budget for the month?  I may stick it in my New Car category or I may put it in my Dining Out category so Rob and I can get some (really good!) takeout at some point during the next month.  But I make the decision consciously, and not on a whim.

YNAB costs $5 a month (or you can save a bit and pay $50 for a year).  However, they offer a free 34 day trial, and if you Google “YNAB 90 day trial,” you should find some special promotions by bloggers who wrote sponsored reviews for YNAB.  For me, the cost is well worth it.  Even though I was fairly responsible with money before YNAB, it has helped me save far more than an additional $5 a month.

And best of all?  It has helped a good deal with my financial anxiety.  It hasn’t completely taken it away, but it has given me the level of control over my finances that I need in order to help mitigate my anxiety.  I don’t necessarily like what my financial situation looks like, but I know enough about it to know what needs to change, and I have the tools to change it.


Weekly Recap (10/03-10/09)

Monday: Swim—2850 yards
It was another early morning at the pool.  I hadn’t slept great the night before (vampire dreams!), but I felt alright when I got in the pool to warm up.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (10 kick barrel roll)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
2 x 75 (kick, scull, swim)
10 x 50 @ :50
50 easy
6 x 75 @ 1:20
20 x 25 @ :30
50 easy
The individual 50 and 75 intervals were done at different speeds.  For instance, some of the 50s were fast all the way through while some were only fast in the middle, at the beginning, or at the end.  Same thing with the 75s.  They were tough, and my arms were fatigued by the end of the 75s.  The 25s after that were a challenge.  Making the interval wasn’t hard, but staying strong (as in, relatively fast with good form) took focus.  I felt good about the workout.  I pushed hard and stayed mentally strong.

Tuesday: Run—2 tempo miles, 5.15 total miles (47:00)
I had seriously been dreading this workout since I planned my week out last Friday.  I had initially planned on doing it Monday, but for various (legitimate, mostly) reasons it didn’t work out, so I decided to do it Tuesday morning instead.  It was cold outside—well below 40°.  So I actually wore a jacket and long tights.  The plan was 1-2 miles warmup, 2 tempo miles at under 7:00/mile, then a 1-2 mile cooldown.  And I nailed it!
1.78 miles @ 10:35/mile (18:52)
2 miles @ 6:55/mile (13:49)
1.37 miles @10:26/mile (14:18)
I hit the paces, and I actually felt relatively strong during the workout.  There was never a moment where I thought, “I can’t believe how much longer I have to run!”  I mean, it helps that I was only running hard for 14 minutes, but still… even one minute can feel like an eternity when you are struggling.  I was glad to be done, but I felt like I could have run further at that pace if needed.  It was a solid, confidence-boosting run.

Wednesday: Swim—2300 yards
It was a rough swim for me on Wednesday.  The workout wasn’t too bad.  We did strokes other than freestyle, and I’m not really good enough to push myself super hard at those strokes, if that makes any sense.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (kick, swim)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
2 x [2 x 50
2 x 75
2 x 100
50 easy]
I kind of panicked about doing other strokes.  And then I misunderstood the workout and messed up the first round of repeats and felt a little more panicked.  Plus, the lane was crowded and people were doing butterfly and breaststroke so I kept hitting and kicking people (and getting hit and kicked).  I actually considered getting out because I was feeling claustrophobic and like I might be getting somewhat close to a panic attack.  I didn’t, and I was able to calm myself down a bit and finish the workout.  I feel like I should clarify that this bad day wasn’t about swimming.  That’s where my anxiety showed itself, but it originated from a couple other areas of my life that I had already identified.  (Sorry to vague-blog!)  One of the things that has helped me manage my anxiety is being able to identify what the real problem is.  Even while I was feeling panicked, I knew that swimming wasn’t the issue, and that helped me calm myself down and finish the workout.  I knew that if things got worse and I could actually feel a panic attack coming on, I could hop out of the pool and leave the situation.  And I knew that there was nothing I could do about what was actually bothering me in the next fifty minutes.  So yeah, it sucked, but I made it through.

Thursday: REST
I spent the day resting and taking care of a poor, sick boyfriend.  (He’s easy to take care of… I just threw potatoes in the oven for dinner and walked down to the store to get him juice and cookies.)

Friday: Swim—1650 yards + leisure laps; Run—4.44 miles (36:29)
I got to the pool hoping there wouldn’t be any intensive kicking drills because I wanted to do a speed workout. And then it was a leisure lap day.
200 reverse IM
200 IM kick
200 inverse IM
6 x 50 (closed fist)
2 x 50
4 x 25 (underwater)
Leisure laps (5)
10 x 50 @ :50
25 easy
25 fast
Leisure laps are hard and are only named as such because they are done in the leisure pool.  You run against the current through the lazy river, up and around the beach start, back into deeper water, up the ladder out of the pool, over the bridge and up the stairs to the slide.  When you get down the slide, you’ve done one lap.  I ended up doing five (and was the fastest one there… yeah!).  And I was pretty gutted by the end.  After we finished up the workout and headed to work, I wondered how I was going to do a speed workout.  And then I realized I basically just had.

So I decided to just do a regular run during lunch.  It was cool, crisp, and sunny outside.  Perfect fall running weather.  I was just a little chilly in a tank top and shorts to start but felt great a mile or so in. The run was actually enjoyable.  And not just because I met an absurdly friendly cat halfway through the run.  I enjoyed running just to run.  I ran until I felt like turning around (I had a general idea just due to being familiar with the route), and I didn’t look at my watch at all during the run.  I ended up running just under 4.5 miles and even having a little bit of fun.

Saturday: Bike—36.11 miles (2:08:58)
I wanted to get out for a decent bike ride, so I headed out around 11:30am.  The weather was perfect, and I had a really fun ride.  When I’m not overdosing on cycling (in other words, training for an Ironman), it’s always a joy to get out on the bike.  However, I did feel more fatigued that I expected towards the end of the ride.  I did ride pretty hard, though.

This is an old, abandoned mill out south.  I love riding by it.

Sunday: Run—7 mile (1:01:06)
Rob and I were out late at the opera on Saturday, so I decided not to set an alarm and to just plan on doing my run after church.  I slept in late for me (until around 7:30am).  And then church just tired me out which is really odd.  When I got back, I decided to go on my run, but I didn’t feel great.  I just didn’t have any energy, and the run felt really rough, despite the fact that I started out slow and wasn’t running all that fast.  I’m a bit worried that I’m getting whatever Rob had earlier in the week, but we’ll see.

Post-race slump?

As much as I loved Ironman training, I was ready to be done.  I didn’t have a post-race depression.  I didn’t wonder what to do with all my new-found free time (TV, anyone?).  And for the first weeks after the Ironman, I didn’t even have trouble motivating myself to exercise.  I had spent so much time doing Ironman stuff that I was actually excited to do some hard shorter workouts.  Masters swimming three times a week?  Heck yeah!  Track workout?  Heck yeah!  A “long” bike ride on the weekend? Heck yeah!

My mind felt so great the first couple weeks that I dared to hope I had escaped a post-race slump altogether.  But I’ve noticed a trend as I’ve been writing my race reports the last few weeks.

“I didn’t really want to get up for this workout, but I was glad once I did.”

“I told myself I could take it easy as long as I got out there.”

“I had to bargain with myself to get out the door and decided to do a longer run instead of intervals.”

“The workout was fine, but I just wasn’t feeling it.”

It’s not hard to see the pattern.

I’ve had some great highlights in the weeks since my Ironman.  I did really well in my first swim meet.  I won a 5k (and, more importantly, I think I hit the paces I wanted to hit).  I powered through to a PR up Emigration Canyon.


But I’ve also been seriously struggling with motivation.  Some days, it’s harder for me to wake up for a five mile run than it was to wake up for a ten mile run during Ironman training.  There have been plenty of mornings where I almost turn my alarm off and sleep through swimming.  There’s nothing wrong with taking it easy, but I’m torn.  It’d be easy to know what to do if I were constantly sick of exercising—cut back.  But the thing is, when I’m not struggling with motivation, I’m very excited about future goals and new athletic pursuits.  And I know that winter is coming.  I want to take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and fall colors before this whole place turns gray for three months.

I’m of two minds.  And I’m having a hard time reconciling these conflicting feelings.

After giving it some thought, I suspect that part of the problem is my post-Ironman habits.  During Ironman training, I was always very careful to get plenty of sleep.  I’ve (understandably) been a little more lax on that front since the race.  But I’m a person that needs sleep.  If I mix get a fairly even mix of 7 hour and 8 hour nights, I’m pretty much where I need to be.  However, recently, I’ve been having way more 7 hour nights than usual, with a few 6 hour nights thrown in here and there.  And that’s bound to mess with my motivation and make it harder to get up in the morning.  Additionally, I’ve been kind of lazy when it comes to fueling as well.  I’ve been skipping breakfast here and there and choosing to snack instead of actually sit down for a real dinner.

I don’t want to miss out on fall running and fall cycling because I’m suffering from the side effects of not getting enough sleep.  So I’m going to try to focus on getting my sleep and on fueling properly and see if that helps my motivation and general well-being.

And for now, I’m going to keep at it, while offering myself plenty of opportunities to reschedule, rethink, and play things by ear.

That means that so far, in this week alone, I postponed a tempo run from Monday evening to Tuesday morning when I remembered that I had something important to do on Monday evening.  I also moved my planned Tuesday evening bike ride to Wednesday evening after I got to Rob’s house, saw that he wasn’t feeling well, and decided it was more important to be a decent partner and make him dinner than it was to go for a bike ride.

And that’s good.  There’s not much room for flexibility during Ironman training.  But there is now, and a part of finding a schedule that’s maintainable in the long term is embracing that extra wiggle room.

Weekly Recap (9/26-10/02)

Monday: Swim—3100 yards
I had a little trouble waking up (I swear I used to be a morning person!), but I did make it to swimming.  We did more of a distance workout which was welcome.  We tend to do more short stuff, and it’s sometimes nice to take a break from gut-busting 50s and 100s.  It didn’t make the workout easier, per se.  Just a different kind of hard.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (10 kick barrel roll)
6 x 50 (closed fist)
2 x 250 build
5 x 100 descend
10 x 50 overkick @ :55
500 negative split (3:50, 3:28)
I switched off leading the intervals with another woman in my lane.  I led the five 100s, and I was determined to do it “right” and get faster with each one.  So when I popped up out of the water after the first one and saw I had hit 1:30, I was a little pissed at myself.  I didn’t think I was going to be able to each 100 faster than the last with a starting point of 1:30.  But I went for it anyway.  And I ended up nailing it!  My approximate times for the 100s were 1:30, 1:27, 1:23, 1:20, and 1:18.  I was pretty gassed at the end, but our lane didn’t push the 50s too hard which gave me a chance to recover before the 500.  And, despite feeling more tired than the last time I ended a workout on a 500 negative split, I ended up swimming it a couple seconds faster.  As I got out of the pool at the end of practice, I gave the coach a typical wow-I-can’t-believe-I-did-that spiel about the five 100s.  He said that I probably needed to start adjusting my expectations for myself.  And he’s probably right.  I need to start expecting a little more of myself because I’ve shown that I’m a pretty decent swimmer.

Tuesday: Bike—25(ish) miles; Run—3.5 miles (28:11)
I worked out twice on Tuesday!  My car was in the shop, so I worked from home.  I actually rode my bike to go pick up my car around the middle of the day.  I couldn’t find my Garmin before taking off, so I just rode without it.  It was a nice break from data.  I rode reasonably hard, but it was a great ride.  I’ve missed my bike.  The cooler weather and fall colors were amazing as well.  I used the opportunity to try out some of the cycling clothes I got from the employee sale with Rob, and they didn’t disappoint.  The shorts in particular were very comfortable.

After I got home with my car and finished working for the day, I headed out for a short run.  I was surprised at how tough it felt.  I guess I was kind of expecting that running would feel effortless since I had a decent race a few days earlier.  Obviously, that’s ridiculous, but subconscious beliefs often are.

Wednesday: Swim—2350 yards
I headed to the pool early (as usual) for a good, hard swim workout.  We did a shorter warmup because some folks were going to leave a bit early due to the water at the pool being shut off around 7:30am.  I’m always out by 7:15am anyway, so I wasn’t affected at all.
500 skips (swim, kick, IM, pull, swim)
3 x 50 (10 kick roll)
3 x 50 (closed fist)
8 x 75 (kick, scull, swim)
2 x 100 (fast)
100 easy
12 x 25 @ :25
100 easy
5 x 50 (2 turns)
Practice felt a bit rough.  I just didn’t feel on top of my game.  The 25s in particular felt hard.  But during practice, I miscalculated how long it was taking me to swim them.  I had a touch over five seconds to rest for each one.  For some reason (I blame the morning), I thought this meant I was swimming them in just under 25 seconds.  Clearly, since the interval was 25 seconds, I was swimming them just under 20 seconds.  Big difference there.

After work, I rather reluctantly geared up to ride Emigration Canyon.  I had something to get done in the evening, and I considered skipping the ride to work on it instead.  However, I decided to stick to the plan and do my ride.  I had planned to do some intervals, but since I wasn’t feeling super into it, I decided to just climb Emigration instead.  Lo and behold, partway up, I started to see some surprising speeds on my Garmin.  Huh.  So I pushed the pace a little more, and by the time I reached the start of the final grind, I was in a good position to PR the climb.  I pushed the final climb hard and ended up breaking that training PR by about thirty seconds.  Not bad.


Thursday: Swim—2800 yards
It was the last Thursday practice of the summer.  And it was a rough one.  I was tired from the day before, and my arms in particular have been fatigued as I focus on improving my midpull which is using slightly different muscles now.
500 swim
300 kick
6 x 50 (distance per stroke)
4 x 25 (eyes closed)
8 x 200
The 200s were tough.  Swim Coach Max wanted me to swim them on a 2:45 interval (YEAH RIGHT), and he didn’t believe me when I said I couldn’t hit that (which is fair, considering all the hand-wringing I do!).  Well, I was right this time.  I couldn’t.  I did a few at 3:00 intervals, but had to bump that up to 3:10 for the last few.  I think on a good day, I could hit 3:00 intervals, but with my fatigue and my attempt at 2:45s, it wasn’t happening.  And that’s okay.  Not every day has to be awesome.

Friday: Run—6.5 miles (57:58)
I was supposed to go to the track.  But I didn’t.  I just decided against it, for no real reason.  I did go for a run in the morning, though.  And—surprise!—it didn’t feel great.  I went when it was dark, and it was just starting to get light when I got back.  I do like running at that time of day, but the rest of the run was pretty “meh.”  I took a half day and drove to Idaho with Rob in the afternoon for a wedding that weekend.

Saturday: Run—5 miles (39:31)
Since I was in Idaho, I ran with my dad on Saturday.  He is recovering from a knee injury (he fell into a crawlspace), so we started off relatively slowly.  However, we picked up the pace naturally throughout the run pretty easily.  I’m not sure if it’s having a running partner or the elevation difference or what, but it’s a lot easier to run in Idaho than in Utah.  Our first mile was 8:12 and our final mile was around 7:35, which is way faster than I’ve been running lately.  In the evening, we went to the wedding and saw the lovely couple get married.  Despite never wanting another wedding for myself, I’ve become a bit of a sucker for weddings lately, and it’s always a joy to be able to celebrate two wonderful people and their relationship.  So it was definitely worth the trip up to Idaho.

Sunday: REST
I took Sunday off for travel.  I had a late night, and I didn’t want to bother with trying to fit in a workout.  Rob and I left mid-morning for Utah to finish off our whirlwind weekend.

Paul Moore Foundation “Fight like a Girl” 5k Race Report

The Paul Moore Foundation is a non-profit that Rob’s cousin founded to help support young families with a critically ill parent.  They raise money for these families so that the family can focus on treatments and spending time together instead of worrying about the financial burden that comes with serious illnesses.

Last year, I took part in the first annual Paul Moore Foundation 5k.  When I learned that the tradition was indeed continuing, I was excited to take part again.  This year, the 5k was a benefit for Kristy Carpenter, a young mom who was diagnoses with cancer shortly after the birth of her second child, hence the “Fight like a Girl” label for the race this year.

I planned to use this 5k as a fitness test.  I wasn’t sure where Ironman training had left me in regards to speed over shorter distances.  I decided to shoot for a 7:00/mile pace (21:44).  I did a prediction workout and was able to run 4 x 1600 at 7:00/mile, so I felt like that pace was within my reach, though I wasn’t sure how I’d do running in a small race without the track or other runners to keep me aware of my pace.

I woke up Saturday morning to a wet, miserable mess.  And it was cold—around 46°.  I had no idea what to wear (as is common during the first few weeks of fall and then winter), so I just brought everything.  I wore ¾ length tights under some looser pants.  And I had on a t-shirt under a dry-fit under a running jacket under a hoodie.  Rob and I ended up arriving at the race about an hour early while all the volunteers were setting up the tents and booths.  He immediately found his cousin and started helping out, and I eventually wandered over to the check-in/registration tent, trying as much as I could to keep my feet dry.

Okay, so this was after the race.

After checking in, I stripped off one layer and went out for a warm-up jog.  I probably ran a little over a mile and a half, and during that time I got hot.  I had been planning on running with my dry-fit over my t-shirt, but I decided to race with just my t-shirt instead.  After my jog, I did some stretching and some fast striders in the parking lot.  I warmed up more completely for this race than for the races I’ve done in the past, which is something I’ve been working on.

This too!

Fortunately, as the runners headed over to the start, the rain stopped.  Rob decided to go track down some coffee at a gas station and took off.  We all lined up at the start and waited around for quite a while.  I had shed all my layers and was starting to get pretty cold.  After fifteen minutes or so, the organizers called us to attention.  They talked a bit about the organization and Kristy’s story before the countdown.  Three… two… one… go!

I took off at what I hoped was a controlled pace.  And I was all alone.  I heard footsteps behind me for about 50 meters before they faded.  At that point, I figured that, unless I faded pretty significantly, I was probably going to be running by myself the entire race.  I had to rely on myself as opposed to other runners to keep my pace consistent.

I crossed my first “checkpoint” (.24 miles) almost 20 seconds ahead of schedule.  I shortened my stride and put on the brakes a bit.  I didn’t want to burn myself out.  My pace felt easy, and I felt strong.  Rob drove by, coffee in hand, and cheered for me out the window.

It wasn’t long before I was approaching the end of the first mile.  I wasn’t sure whether to expect a mile marker or not, so when I didn’t see one, I wasn’t too worried.  I had enough “checkpoints” written on my hand to keep me aware of my pace.

Near the end of the first half, the race turned onto a paved bike path.  When I checked my watch at that point, I was around 9:07, still over ten seconds faster than the 9:22 that I was supposed to hit at that point.  I knew I’d be turning around in just a minute and a half and used that as a motivation to keep my pace up.  However, when I did eventually turn around, I saw I had gone from over ten seconds ahead of pace to over ten seconds behind pace.  I knew I had not lost a full 25 seconds during two minutes of running, and I thought maybe I had miscalculated my original checkpoints.  I was a bit disappointed because it was pretty clear at this point that a PR or 7:00/mile pace was out of my reach.  However, I still wanted to finish strong, so I stayed in the game mentally.

After the turn-around, I got a view of who was behind me.  There was one man a little ways back, and then third place was another woman.  Neither of them seemed like immediate threats, but I knew I couldn’t fall apart and stay in front.  I didn’t pay as much attention to my checkpoints on the way back.  I was already behind, and I didn’t want to get discouraged.  Instead, I just focused on keeping the pace hard.  Some of the folks still on their way out called out to me or cheered for me as I passed.  I tried to acknowledge some of them, but I didn’t do a very good job.  I was almost completely focused on running hard at that point.

During the final mile, I just focused on looking for the turn, keeping my arms active, and keeping my cadence high.  I felt the beginnings of a side stitch, but fortunately, it never fully materialized.  I made the second to last turn and then started looking for the final turn.  I was scared I’d turn early, so when I saw a street that I thought might be the finish, I quickly changed my mind and figured it was probably the next street.  As I ran by the street, however, I heard someone yelling, so I quickly turned around and did indeed see the finish line down the street I had just run past.

I turned on the street, trying to finish strong and make up a little of the time I lost from the navigation error.  I pushed through and stopped my watch after crossing the line.  22:30.  Huh.  I was vaguely disappointed, as I had hoped to run faster than that (and felt I had the fitness to run faster than that as well).  However, it was fun to come away with the win.  I thought it was especially apropos that a woman win a “Fight like a Girl” 5k.

A few minutes, the second-place guy crossed the finish line.  The woman I’m assuming was his wife went over to congratulate him.  Then she turned to me.  “I’m so glad a girl beat him!” she said.  I responded with my typical nondescript noise that I make when I don’t know how to proceed in a conversation.  Then the guy commented on how I must race a lot and how fast I was for a girl.  I tried not to act completely confused.  When Rob came up, I told him how confused I was.  “I mean, I’m fast-ish, but it’s not like I’m really fast.  I don’t get it.  If he’s run many races, he’s been beat by plenty of women.  But if he hasn’t ever run a decent-sized 5k before, why is he hung up on getting beat by a woman?”

The mystery remained unsolved, but we moved past it.

One of Rob’s cousins crossed the finish, and I chatted with her a bit.  I saw that she was wearing a Garmin, so I asked, “What did you get for the course length?”

“I got 3.2-something,” she replied.  “And it was still looking for a satellite, so I didn’t start it until about there.”  She pointed to a tree about a hundred meters or so from the start line.  The course was relatively straight and didn’t have many turns, so I don’t think that tangents would account for the added distance.

So I’m totally going to be the blogger that says the course was long.  It makes sense, as it was a small charity race with the turnaround on a bike path.  It would also explain how I stayed on pace so well except for on the last stretch before the turnaround.   So, if the course was accurate, I ran a 7:12/mile pace.  However, if the course was long (somewhere between 3.2 and 3.3 miles), I ran anywhere from a 7:02/mile pace to a 6:50/mile pace.  There’s no way to know for sure, which does make me tempted to sign up for another 5k to see what I can do.

After the race, we enjoyed the silent auction and some time with Rob’s extended family.  I also got a chance to try a common LDS vice for the first time.  Because Mormons don’t drink coffee or alcohol, many of them have adopted “dirty sodas” as a treat.  These are essentially sodas with shots of flavor or puréed fruit.  I had never heard of this before I moved to Utah, but it was pretty good.  And I’m a big fan of soda after I run, so it was a nice treat.

Soda menu

As Rob and I were getting ready to leave, we passed by a young woman sitting with second-place guy (his daughter, perhaps?).  She said, “Oh, are you the one who beat him?”


“That’s great!  He’s told, like, thirty people already, so I think it really bothers him!”

I again uttered my go-to nondescript response.  After we left, Rob and I picked up the conversation about what that guy’s deal was.  We weren’t mad or upset about it.  He seemed friendly enough.  It was just weird.  We could not figure it out.  Eventually, we settled on the idea that this guy was the fastest guy at his Crossfit gym (no offense, Crossfitters!), so he felt fast even though he wasn’t a serious runner.  Some sort of active participation in another form of exercise was the only thing that made sense.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the race.  The day before and morning of the race, I was just kind of dreading it.  I didn’t want to run it.  I even briefly considered trying to find an excuse not to show up at the race.  I wasn’t feeling it.  However, after running the race, I felt like I had seen my strong base from Ironman training in action.  It renewed my interest in doing some shorter races this fall as opposed to killing off that desire for a while like I expected it to.

The main take-away from this race was that I need to start being a little more structured in my training again.  It’s time for me to start planning my workouts at the beginning of the week again and training with more of a purpose.  I know what I need to do to make the progress in triathlon that I want to make.  I need to keep swimming.  I need to add in interval work on the bike.  And if I have the time and desire to make some strides in my running, I’ll do that as well.


Weekly Recap (9/19-9/25)

Monday: Swim—2450 yards
I stayed up fairly late on Sunday (impromptu movie date, which is always fun!), so I wasn’t really happy about getting up early to go swimming.  Once I went, though, I ended up having a good time.  We did a lot of kicking which is one of the weak parts of my stroke.  So while it was a tough workout, I know it was the kind of workout I need to do more often.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
5 x 50 (catch up)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
Whistle kicks (250 yards)
200 build
Whistle kicks (250 yards)
200 easy
4 x 100 (kick)
100 easy
The last 100s of kicking were hard, and they left my legs burning.  However, I felt good about how my kick is progressing.  One woman that I swim with used to have a much faster kick than I do.  Now she just has a somewhat faster kick than I do.  Progress!

Tuesday: Run—6.5 miles (54:59); Strength—15 minutes
I went on my run in the morning from my office.  I felt better than I did Sunday, and the run was actually almost pleasant.  The route that I run from my office is actually remarkably scenic.  It takes me by a river and onto some country roads.  So it was nice to get out there again and be all alone with my thoughts.  I actually managed to run under an 8:30/mile pace on a run that was longer than a couple miles for the first time in who-knows-how-long.  I also hopped back on the preventative strength training wagon.  During lunch, I did a short 15 minute session.  I need to get back into the habit of strengthening my hips and glutes so I can avoid future injuries as much as possible.

Wednesday: Swim—2600 yards
On Wednesday, we typically focus on a single stroke.  Today, much to my elation, that stroke was freestyle.  Because the focus of this workout was on form, we did more drills than usual.
300 swim
200 kick
100 pull
4 x 50 (kick, swim)
4 x 50 (closed fist)
200 easy
3 x 50 (10-kick barrel roll)
3 x 50 (10-kick barrel roll, ¾ catchup)
3 x 50 (catchup)
3 x 50 (¾ catchup)
3 x 100 (build and descend)
100 easy
2 x 100 (build and descend)
100 easy
100 fast (1:15)
I noticed a slightly different metric of progress during this workout.  I am so much better at meting out effort than I was when I first started swimming with Masters.  For the build and descend sets, we were supposed to build speed throughout each 100 and swim each full 100 of the set faster than the last one.  In the past, I would have felt totally blind starting a set like that, with no idea where my starting effort level needed to be.  However, I felt much more comfortable approaching the set on Wednesday.  And I did manage to both speed up throughout each interval and get faster overall for each 100.

Thursday: Swim—3000 yards
It was a distance day at Masters.  I got some good feedback on my stroke early on (my hand is misplaced during my midpull), so I spent the practice concentrating on that particular aspect of my stroke.
500 swim
300 kick
4 x 50 (distance per stroke)
200 (catch and midpull)
250 (breathe every third stroke)
300 (6-beat kick)
250 (breathe every third stroke)
200 (catch and midpull)
100 easy
500 negative split (3:50, 3:30)
200 easy
This workout didn’t look too hard up on the whiteboard, but it ended up being a tough one.  I swam hard, so by the time I was coming back down the ladder, I was really fatigued.  I took a decent break before I did the 500 at the end.  As usual, I wasn’t sure quite how fast to start out.  So I took a guess.  I ended up starting a little too slow.  Ideally, the negative splits would have been closer to each other (say, 3:40 and 3:35).  But I still felt really good about the workout.  I made an adjustment to my stroke that should have me swimming faster in a few weeks.  I really pushed myself.  And I am getting better at judging my pace.

Friday: Rest
I took a rest day because of my race the next day.  I enjoyed the rest, but I did notice I was bouncing off the walls at work.  Usually, I go for a walk during lunch, but I couldn’t do that either because of the rain, so I suspect that was part of it.

Saturday: Run—5k (22:30)
I ran the Paul Moore Foundation 5k on Saturday.  Despite the cold, rainy weather before the race, it went fairly well.  I’m not sure my time reflects where my fitness is currently (more to come in the race report), and I’m somewhat interested in signing up for another race with a larger field to see what I can do.


Sunday: REST
I had planned on exercising, but I woke up and didn’t really want to.  So I didn’t.  I’m really enjoying that aspect of recovery—guilt-free skipped workouts.  The off-season rules!

“Fall into Swimming” Swim Meet Report

I was a bit apprehensive to sign up for this swim meet.  Because it was an “all ages” meet, I suspected it would be mostly kids, and I was worried

Considering I’ve never done a swim meet, I had a fairly easy time setting goals for each of my events.  US Swimming has a list of “motivational times” for people of different age groups.  There are several tiers of times, ranging from B-standard to AAAA-standard.  My times in practice for the 50y freestyle and 100y freestyle were within one or two seconds of the B-standard, so my goal was to hit that B-standard for both events.  Striving for mediocrity!
50 yard freestyle—0:31.99
100 yard freestyle—1:09.39
Going in, I was more confident in hitting my goal in the 50 yard freestyle than the 100.  My fastest 50 in practice was a low 32 (so close) whereas my faster 100 in practice was right around 1:11 (still at least 1.5 seconds off).  However, I wasn’t extraordinarily attached to these goals.  This was my first swim meet ever, and I wanted enjoy it and learn a lot.

I was a bit apprehensive to sign up for this swim meet.  Because it was an “all ages” meet, I suspected it would be mostly kids, and I was worried I would be pretty much the only adult there.

I woke up the morning of the meet and checked my email.  The meet director had sent out a list all the heats that would be swum.  I scanned through, looking for heats assigned to the “17 and up.”  I only saw two… both with a single, lone swimmer.  And, of course, I was that single, lone swimmer.  I was literally the only adult who had signed up for the meet.

“Are you sure you still want to go?” Rob asked after I told him.

“Yes,” I said. “I already paid for it.” (I like to selectively ignore what I learned about sunk costs in my one college economics class when it suits me.)

I would be the only adult, and I would be literally the only one swimming in my heat.  At least I was going to win my age group!

The swim meet wasn’t until the afternoon, so in the morning, Rob and I headed to his company’s employee sale with a friend/co-worker of his.  There was a lot of standing in line and a lot of walking around.  We found some great deals.  Rob’s haul included a bike trainer and a pair of $300 cycling shorts, both purchased for a dollar a piece.

The sale was worth it, but by the time we got back to Rob’s place around 12:30 or so, I was relatively knackered.  I fit in a quick power nap and felt a little better (though still somewhat fatigued).  We left for the pool around 2:40 or so and arrived around 3:15, just in time to check in for the meet and warmup.


I headed to the check in table and gave them my name.  I decided to embrace the awkward, so I announced, “Yeah, I’m the only adult” to the guy checking me in.

“Oh yeah!  When I saw that an adult had signed up, I was going to sign up.  But my boss needed me to work instead.”  I silently cursed the man’s boss and gave an internal sigh of relief.  At least one person here didn’t think I was a total idiot signing up for a kid’s meet.

I warmed up with an easy 300, two 100 yard builds and a few starts.  There was at least one benefit of being an adult at a kids’ meet—I think all the kids were afraid to hop in my lane, so I got to warm up in a lane all by myself.

The adults on deck, however, were still more than willing to stand in front of the starting blocks when I needed to use them.
Warming up in the pool.

After warming up, I sat on the deck, surrounded by a bunch of kids while they all swam their events.  There were a bunch of high school guys who had pretty clearly never swam and were there for a good time.  I’ll admit that it was a little funny to watch them get totally defeated by the races.  One kids dragged himself out of the water halfway through his IM (individual medley) and moaned, “I think I’m gonna stick to football.”

Before I knew it, it was time for my 50 yard freestyle.  I couldn’t understand the commands the starter was giving very well (megaphone in a bustling pool area), but I knew the noise to listen to for the start.  I crouched down in the blocks.  BEEP.  I dove into the water, focusing only on getting streamlined quickly to avoid losing my goggles.  The goggles stayed on.  And I started swimming.  The 50 yard freestyle is an all-out sprint.  Start as fast as you possibly can and lose as little speed as possible.  I felt strong coming into the wall and executed a solid (for me) flip turn.  I held up my speed well through the second half of the race, only started to feel fatigued during the last 10 or 15 yards.  I hit the wall with some force (to make sure I activated the timing pad).  I popped my head out of the water and looked at the scoreboard, which was tracking time.  30.04.  The woman timing with a stopwatch on deck gave me a time of 30.23.  I wasn’t sure which was more “official,” but I honestly didn’t care.  I was thrilled either way.  I hopped out of the water and gave Rob a big grin and a double-thumbs up.

I’ve never actually seen myself do a swim start, so this photo was cool to me.
You can’t see it, but there’s a giant grin on my face.

The woman running the meet came up to me after the 50 yard freestyle, told me I had swum well, and asked if I swam with a Masters group (was I just recruited?  Who knows!).  She also asked if I had a kid swimming in the meet as well, but she didn’t seem creeped out when I sheepishly admitted that I did not.  After talking with her, Rob and rendezvoused on the stairs for a couple minutes afterwards, and I told him how happy I was with my time before heading back down and waiting for my heat of the 100 yard freestyle.

I hopped up onto the blocks for the 100 yard freestyle.  The horn sounded, and I took off.  Since the 100 is not (for me) a full-out sprint, I was a little worried about going out too easy or going out too hard.  After the first lap, I felt tired but not spent and decided to keep up my pace as well as I could.  My final turn was subpar, and I didn’t get nearly as much of a push off the wall as I would have liked.  The last 25 was strangely familiar because it felt very similar to the last 100 of a 400m running race (which was a distance I ran pretty frequently in relays in high school).  I was working so hard but felt like I was barely moving… and I had no real idea how fast or slow I was actually swimming.

I (finally) hit the wall and came up gasping.  The big scoreboard showed 1:04.94.  Shocked, I climbed out of the water where the woman on deck told me I had swum 1:07.1.  I was a little confused considering the gap between those two times.  This time, despite knowing that I would be absolutely thrilled with either time, I did care some which one was correct.  Two seconds is a big discrepancy.

Finally at the wall.


Rob and I took off after I was done swimming.  He spent half his afternoon watching me swim about a minute and a half, and I didn’t want to force him to spend more time watching a bunch of kids struggle through the water.  And I was ready to not be the sole adult in a sea of children.  As we left, I asked if the official results would be e-mailed out.  I was told that they would be, but I haven’t received them yet, so right now I’m waiting to see if I hit a 1:05 or a 1:07 for the 100 yard freestyle.

As I expected, I’m very glad I decided to face the uncomfortable situation of swimming with a bunch of kids.  I was thrilled with my performance in both races, which far exceeded what I thought I was capable of.  I’m looking forward to signing up for at least a few more meets over the winter and getting a better idea of my potential as a swimmer.