Yes, I do realize the way to stay warm in the pool is to swim harder. 😉 However, if you're one of us “adult onset swimmers” that does classes where there's a lot of drilling and standing for instruction and/or you’re a very lean athlete, the pool can get pretty darn cold.
After watching one of my teammates shiver through a workout, I lent her the gear I bought for my Total Immersion class. I had purchased an insulated long sleeve top for that class because I was afraid I’d freeze to death with two days of swim instruction in and out of the pool. (This coming from a person who has fingers that go white and numb at the first hint of cold.)
Thankfully, that class turned out to be well structured with a lot of classroom work first, and in between pool sessions there was a chance to shower and change into warm clothes. Between the structure of the class and the long top, I was comfortable the whole time despite my initial concerns. And since the top helped my teammate in class, too, here’s some info on where to buy similar swim tops for my fellow shivering triathlon swim training friends!
DAKINE Neo Insulator Rashguard - Long-Sleeve - Women’s
While this specific model is discontinued, there are other insulated rashguards on the market, which is ultimately what you’re looking for. They seem to be marketed most at surfers, so that’s something else to consider in your search. I picked up this model at backcountry.com, a great place to get high quality gear at good prices. For a special backcountry code, see the discounts page. (BTW - The short sleeve version is still on closeout at some places, and would probably work as it's the insulated core that's probably doing the most work to keep you warm.)
I've also picked up light-weight long sleeve swim tops at Land's End for outdoor swimming (sun protection in that case!). I see some people use them for water areobics as well, so they might be just enough extra insulation to work for a tri swim class, too.
Specs on the above Long Sleeve Half-Zip Rash Guard from Land's End:
In summary, you're looking for rash guards which are typically non-insulated, and might be considered surfing gear. Select a verison with an insulated/neoprene core for more warmth. And if you've got a favorite I haven't mentioned here, would love to hear about it in the comments!
When there's an opportunity to run for chocolate, and in the city of my adopted triathlon family, I'm in! I'm excited to say I'll be running the Minneapolis Hot Chocolate 15k on April 15, 2017! And wow, does this ever sound like a race to look forward to. Especially since learning it made the list of "World's Coolest Themed Runs" according to CNN.
As I've only done one out-of-state race so far, I was really curious to see how to manage packet pickup. Happily, the Hot Chocolate 15k website is full of great information and answered all of my questions. Given the race is staged in 15 cities (with 11 more in the works), they have the wherewithal to put together a comprehensive resource for runners.
Clearly they're used to dealing with out-of-towners, given that they offer an option to have packets mailed in advance for a small fee. Even though in-person packet pickup sounded like fun (with chocolate samples included!) I opted to have my packet mailed. And did I mention the packet includes a hoodie?! An award-winning hoodie, no less! The only hard part about having the packet mailed is waiting for months for it to arrive after ordering. ;-)
As I'm not great with the delayed gratification thing, I went ahead and ordered a couple of chocolate-themed items from the Hot Chocolate store to train in: a stocking cap and a thermal head band. Both items arrived super-quick, so I got to use them right away in winter training and racing. Bonus! Here's the hat in action at the Belle Isle New Year's Eve 5k, with my son Christian.
One BIG advantage for new/beginning runners about this race is that it includes a complete training plan. When I was running my first half I had no idea what to do training wise (except run a lot more ;-) and I really could have used a plan like this! I love that they even email it to you in snippits each week, so following the plan is as simple as opening your inbox. These days I'm working with a coach so I can't speak to the specifics of the plan, though it's put together by USATF coaches, so I trust it's solid and certainly more effective than my prior "run more" plan!
With so much to look forward to in this race, I hope you join me at the Hot Chocolate 15k in Minneapolis this April. Register by February 5th to beat the price increase, and use the code "MinnHCBR" for a FREE Visor!
I've got quite the collection of gadgets for measuring swim / bike / run activities (though not nearly as many as DC Rainmaker!) and a growing number of accounts on tracking sites as I continue the search for "the one". As fun as it is to try all of these new things, it's also a great way to create a mess of activities that live here and there and everywhere, with no one single view of your accomplishments for the year.
Given that the holy grail of activity tracking does not yet exist, I've finally discovered a combo that covers my favorite gadgets and sites—most notably Apple Watch and Strava. While I'll be the first to admit that this particular syncing solution is a wee bit clunky, it gets the job done and thus far, appears to be the only solution that does!
I should note first that depending on your favorite gadgets, you may be able to use a more elegant solution from Tapiriik, a site that purely specializes in syncing your activities with all the popular kids. Currently Tapiriik syncs activities from Garmin Connect, Runkeeper, Strava, TrainingPeaks, SportTracks.mobi, Endomondo, RideWithGPS, TrainerRoad, Motivato, Velo Hero, Epson RUNSENSE, Dropbox, and Smashrun (your heart rate, cadence, power, and temperature data syncs too). With Tapiriik you can manually sync your data, or for a whopping $2 per year, it will automatically sync everything for you. Can't beat that!
Tapiriik was my go-to solution until I upgraded to the new Apple Watch and really wanted to take advantage of its ability to simplify activity tracking with it's built in GPS and waterproofing. It's clearly not the most precision tracking choice, but if it's already always charged and on my wrist that's one less thing to mess with, and more time to spend training (and writing about training. ;-) The catch is that my favorite tracking site, Strava, does not yet support the GPS functionality of the Apple Watch. The Health app on the Apple Watch does, but getting data to and from the Health app is, shall we say, less than ideal.
Enter RunGap App, quite aptly named as it fills in exactly the "gap" I needed! RunGap syncs with Garmin, RunKeeper, Endomondo, Nike+, MapMyRun/Bike/Fitness, Strava, Runtastic, SportsTracker, Polar Flow, Suunto Movescount, TomTom MySports, Adidas miChoach, Health, TrainingPeaks, SportTracks, Smashrun, Magellan Active, dailymile, Fitbit, 2PEAK, Loberute.dk, Facebook, Dropbox and Polar Personal Trainer. Whew!
To sync Apple Watch and Strava activities, first sync activities between RunGap and other apps. Next, you'll need to purchase the "swag bag" to unlock the Strava share feature. I think the cost to upgrade was <$5. It's totally worth it as the support at RunGap App is phenomal—they quickly respond to questions (with real answers) and from the looks of the RunGap Facebook page, they're constantly updating the app. While I wish I had a one-step solution, I can manage sync + share/upload for now. I'm sure simpler solutions will be available in time, and until then, this does the job for me. Hope it helps you, too!
I'm so excited to become a BibRave Pro and join such an awesome group of runners! And I'm super pumped to be signed up for my first half marathon as a BibRave Pro, because the more I read about the Capital City Half in Columbus, Ohio, the more incredible it sounds. We'll see if it lives up to the hype, because this race sure promises a lot! "Cap City" perks include:
AND, it gets even better if you sign up for the VIP experience, which I'm lucky enough to try out this time around. Judging by their guarantee "for the memory of a lifetime", I'm already preparing to be spoiled for every other race from here on out—just check out these VIP perks!
All this makes a great incentive for me to keep training well through the winter! I hope you'll consider joining me for the Cap City Half and taking them up on the promise of a memory of a lifetime. They're even offering a registration discount to sweeten the deal. Use the code "BIBRAVECC17" for $10 off. (P.S. Sign up by December 31, 2106 to avoid the price increase on January 1!)
Looking forward to seeing you @CapCityHalf! Tweet me when you sign up!
I was like a kid at Christmas waiting for my 2nd round of InsideTracker bloodwork to come back, to find out if the tweaks I'm making to my daily routines are working. The good news is, I am making progress—at least when it comes to iron. My ferritin & hemoglobin levels both improved, which is a major accomplishment in my book!
As I mentioned in part 1, I had attempted to improve my iron levels before and pretty much given up. Now that I'm an endurance athlete, low-but-not-clinically-low iron levels don't sound like an acceptable place to be, so I'm making lots of changes, including:
* Eliminating my multivitamin, as I don't need the calcium from the multi interfering with my iron absorption (and I was advised I didn't need additional B12 either, as those levels were already high.)
* I changed breakfast from greek yogurt or eggs & spinach to oatmeal. The oatmeal contains a fair bit of iron on its own, and then I add chia and almond butter, both of which also contain iron. (I also use non-fortified almond milk, again to avoid the interference of calcium.)
* I did try taking an iron supplement and learned that high dose iron supplements don't agree with me (or most other people as it turns out.) I also learned that iron can only be absorbed by the body in small amounts (about 10 mg at a time), so I occasionally take a 10 mg liquid iron supplement later in the day. The trick is trying get the timing right to find an hour between meals, exercise & coffee. (Now that the weather is cooler, I missed the comfort of coffee!)
* I've started packing high iron snacks, like Justin's almond butter. A packet of almond butter is high in iron and protein, so it's a nice little portable snack that does double duty.
* I also try to make dishes with lentils a little more often, and choose hummus as a snack more often, as both also contain decent amounts of iron.
* Last but not least, I'm opting to chose beef more often when eating out, even if it's as simple as choosing beef as the protein source for my bi bim bap. Given I've had such a hard time increasing my iron levels in the past, I figure I need all the help I can get, at least until I reach a "maintenance" level with my iron.
Unfortunately, not all of my results were rosy this time outside of iron. I was disappointed to see that my vitamin D levels were headed in the wrong direction. I suspect this is the result of an "inadvertent" experiment. My son also took an InsideTracker test recently and needed vitamin D supplements, so I gave mine to him and figured that during the height of summer training I was *easily* outside for the recommended 20+ minutes per day.
As I learned after discussing these results with my doctor, the sunlight recommendation is not so helpful for those of us living in the northern half of the United States. So I'm back up to 4000 IU of Vitamin D and hoping to get my levels back at least to where they were.
In addition to Vitamin D, my inflammation group went from optimal to off the charts high, which is likely my fault for testing after a hard workout. Long story short, I went out the night before the test to blow off some steam after a personal loss. Although it felt good to run hard (and I wound up setting a new personal best!), I think I should have rescheduled my test. I'm guessing/hoping that my next test is back to normal so I didn't change anything based on this single result. We'll see what the next test brings.
All in all, I'm glad I took the follow up test as soon as I did. It was great to see the progress in the iron (something to celebrate, yeah!) AND great to discover my vitamin D unexpectedly needed attention. Given that both are such important building blocks to energy and endurance, I'm really looking forward to making more progress during the winter and starting the next racing season with a new burst of energy!
If you're also gearing up for a new race season—or preparing for a new years resolution around your health, I wholeheartedly recommend trying an InsideTracker test. I can easily say it has been the best investment I've ever made, as the benefits are clearly much bigger than just my training. To help you get started, head over to InsideTracker and use my code "THANKSCATHERINE" for a significant Cyber Monday discount.
To your health!
As originally posted at BibRave. See all of my race reviews at BibRave.com.
My kids have only done a couple of Epic Races, but they already know to expect a nice spread after each race! This race was no exception, with pumpkin pie accompanying more traditional post-race snacks. Personally, I loved the chicken broth—after a dramatic drop in temps from the previous day, plus snow while we were on the run, chicken broth never tasted so good!
What caught my eye about this race was the "Iron Turkey" option—running both the 5k + 10k. This worked out great as I ran the 5k with my family, had time to celebrate with them a bit, and then headed back out for the 10k. The race also offers a one-mile fun run after the start of the 10k, giving young families a great way to be involved (and stay busy!) during the race.
The venue for this race is great, it's at Hudson Mills Metro Park. The run is on a scenic, mostly paved path, and the very few "hills" are pretty gentle rollers. The start is held on a gravel trail, enabling the race to set up tents in a grassy field for food, pre-race warm-ups, massage, etc. The tents were a nice safe haven from the precip while we waited for 5k runners to finish and start the 10k. After a short stint on the gravel, the centerpiece of the race is on a nicely paved trail, with a short run up to the finish on gravel.
Another unique twist to this race is that the first place finishers (both male and female) take home a turkey for Thanksgiving! While I didn't take home a turkey, I did manage to snag a 3rd place finish in my age group (first time ever!), thanks to the great pacers who were part of the event.
Overall, the best part about this particular event turned out to be my sons "epic" finish—they sprinted to the finish line and finished with exactly the same time. :-) Looking forward to the rematch!
There are just a couple of days left to win a 30 Day starter package with Team Endurance Nation and InsideTracker--enter the raffle now!
I chose Team Endurance Nation for a couple of big reasons:
As far as InsideTracker goes, I was lucky enough to win a discount on an InsideTracker test a few months into training for my first 70.3. Thank goodness, because the test results showed that I had a few biomarkers that needed work, and they were mostly related to athletic performance!
The OutSeason® Give-A-Way Starter Kit includes:
P.S. In full disclosure I also won a free month of TrainerRoad after joining Team EN, though I eventually wound up moving to Zwift. So if you've heard me raving about how much I love my indoor training, it's Zwift that I fell in love with.
Feeling powerless after the recent loss of a friend to a cycling accident, I was at first frustrated by well-meaning suggestions about things like lights—that would not have made in a difference in her case. Fortunately, another friend helped me see that Karen, as a world-class triathlete, now has a special power to shine a "light" on cycling safety and help others. In that spirit, I've been thinking a lot about do-able things to be more visible and more safe on the road, until we can tackle root causes like road design and driver education—topics for another day.
1. Lights. Front & Back. Night & Day.
There are plenty of good choices for lights out there, and if you're not night riding, just grab one, any one, that you'll actually use. My current favorite is the Planet Bike Spok Light Set 2.0. It's easy to use/move with a stretchy strap instead of hardware, and with a long battery life, these won't get forgotten at home on the charger. If you're not already riding with day lights, please order a set today and we'll both feel better. :-)
2 & 3. Wear High Visibility Gear. Protect Your Noggin. In One Fell Swoop.
I used to wear a high-visibility pink jersey which has since been retired because pink seemed to attract TOO much attention. Rather than building a new cycling wardrobe of hi-vis gear, it turns out there's a simpler solution—a high-vis helmet! Thanks to the Twitter chats hosted by the cool kids at BibRave, I won a Rudy Project Sterling Helmet and chose hi-vis yellow. Although a Rudy helmet isn't cheap, it's cheaper than buying a new hi-vis wardrobe—and a whole lot simpler. It's also amazingly comfy and well-engineered; topics for another post!
4. Wear a Road ID.
It's not fun to think "what would happen if...", but if you're "lucky" enough to make it through a crash, you want the first responders to know all your critical health and contact information. These days, I wear my Road ID 24x7, making it one less thing to think about when I'm headed out for a ride or run. Road ID makes so many great styles, colors and "trinkets" it's easy to personalize one you'll want to wear all the time. Here's a $5 Road ID Discount to help you get started—no excuses now! ;-)
5. Share Your Whereabouts.
In my case, sharing location updates is less about what-ifs and more about peace of mind for those who care about me. As my training rides and runs get longer in duration and further away from home, it's nice for my "support crew" to check in and see how I'm progressing on the planned route.
I've tried several methods for SOS and live tracking, including the now defunct Kickstarter project Bia, as well as subscribing to the premium version of Map My Ride exclusively for its live tracking feature. Happily, this season the market seems to finally be catching up with the desire for tracking features, and at least two new options are available: Strava (Premium) offers a "Beacon", and Road ID recently launched a FREE beta app with both live tracking and a "stationery alert" that notifies your emergency contact if you stop moving for more than 5 minutes, as well as showing your emergency contact information on the lock screen of your phone. Whichever live tracking method you choose, sharing is caring!
6. Chose Your Route Carefully
Though it is clearly the least sexy option on this list, route choice makes a difference. Admittedly, I spend a lot more time on the trainer inside just so I don't have to deal with all the factors that go into riding safely outside. But I do enjoy riding outside, and I do believe it's necessary for some percentage of triathlon training to be outdoors in order to be well-prepared for race day.
When it comes to choosing routes, I'm incredibly picky and would generally rather ride alone and chose roads based on my own (anti)risk profile. This means there is not a lot of variety in my rides, because there's a pretty limited set of roads that have little traffic and aren't falling apart. And there's a pretty limited way to ride them, because it's safest to take a circular route that uses only right turns. Even with hi-vis gear on, left turns can go horribly wrong, and there are too many examples to prove it already. Plan for right turns where you can.
BONUS: In the Car: Take a Deep Breath & Be Patient Out There
While we can't change how everyone else drives, we can set a good example on the days we aren't riding. On so many rides I see drivers that are clearly impatient and causing issues where there don't need to be any—it might literally take a few extra seconds to hang back and wait to pass when there isn't an oncoming car. In many states, passing a bike like it is a car is the LAW, albeit a law better known to cyclists than to many drivers.
Though I can only speak for myself, I know there are days when I'm feeling rushed and/or are distracted by other things going on when I get in the car. These days, I practice getting in the car and taking a deep breath to settle in and concentrate on what I'm about to do. Sometimes I think we forget the average car is 2 tons of metal hurtling down the road at 55 miles per hour, and can cause irreparable harm if we're not very careful.
Be careful out there, and god bless.
Knowing what a humble person Karen McKeachie was, it seems odd to hear so many tributes lauding her athletic accomplishments. Something makes me think she'd be embarrassed at all the attention. Though she clearly loved racing with every bone in her body, she didn’t brag about it. Not even a “humble brag.” You’d hear from *someone else* that Karen won two races in one weekend but you wouldn’t hear it from Karen. If you asked about it, you’d probably get a smile and a shoulder shrug. Karen was the most down to earth person you could possibly imagine.
Luckily, I was clueless that Karen was a legend in triathlon when I was invited to her basement—more affectionately known to those who have spent time there as The Torture Chamber. At a recent gathering for Karen one woman remarked how she thought she was going to die down there—she had never worked so hard, sweat so much, or had a heart rate so high, and I know what she means. Feeling the same way, the crew I ride with had joked Karen ought to install a defibrillator, to which she smiled and pretended to check that everyone had waivers signed… In retrospect, I think she knew what true suffering was, and knew that we mere mortals weren’t in danger of pushing the limits in the way she knew how.
Those group CompuTrainer workouts wouldn’t have happened if Karen wasn’t an engineer / geek. CompuTrainers are fiddly beasts, especially when you’re trying to run in “multi-player mode”. It seemed like every week some new issue arose, and she diligently worked things out. If something was needed to make her basement setup more efficient, she’d just create it—like building stands for the CompuTrainer remote units. Her engineering ability and creativity had no limits. (Thank goodness, because that's also why we all have cut out bike seats now!)
In that basement, Karen wasn’t an elite athlete—she was a sherpa. Embarrassingly so, sometimes. You’d show up and find your bike already on the trainer. She’d check the tire pressure and get it up to snuff. She’d insist that you stay on the bike while she adjusted the resistance. I gave up protesting and enjoyed being doted on, as she seemed genuinely happy being helpful. Apparently, this was another one of her specialties, as one of the remarks at the gathering yesterday was from someone wondering what they would do now after all of the things Karen took care of for her—such as patiently explaining what kind of replacement tube to get after a first flat. Her willingness to help had no limits.
I once got to return the sherpa favor at Ironman Louisville—to take her bike into the hotel, up the glass elevator, and into her room. I have never been so careful! As I pondered whether I should get a tri bike, too, Karen quickly assessed it would make little difference. (She’s also famous for not mincing words, and that candor endeared her to many.) A couple of years later when she and Lew took me to get my first tri bike, it was more than a shopping expedition. It meant a lot that she thought it was time—and that they both took the time. Her time seemed to have no limits.
There were also no limits to her desire to help others achieve their potential—and I have no doubt there are a books worth of anecdotes about people she helped along the way. Strikingly, there was also an “I am not worthy” theme to enough stories about her, it left me with the distinct impression that she had a way of believing in people before they believed in themselves. I gather she was famous for running back and forth across the track to time women running 13:00 minute miles with the same care and attention reserved for elite athletes. If you cared enough to try, she cared enough to help. This simple “strategy” helped a lot of women get faster and make fitness a part of their lifestyle. Her belief in the potential of others had no limits.
There were no limits to her own potential either. 63 was just a number, not an age. She spent her life competing against men and women of every age—and routinely beating them. She drove herself to get better and better every day, “even” at 63. She set an example—a new standard—for everyone that knew her. Clearly, age was not a limiting factor. You couldn’t ask for a better role model as someone entering the world of triathlon at 39. Right in front of you was living proof that anything was possible, so that’s the frame you're also operating within. I’ve run three half marathons so far, and gotten faster each time. I expect the same will happen this year, and the next. (I can safely say this because I still have plenty of room for improvement. Trust me, Karen would agree!) This year, I completed my first half Ironman, and there will be more. I’ve gone from being a desk jockey to someone getting stronger, faster, and racing smarter as I age. It’s a pretty great feeling! And it wouldn’t have happened without Karen and the supportive group that has gathered around her. She had no limits, and she inspired others to believe there were no limits, too.
The part about this story that’s hardest to convey is this is not just my story—it’s the story of countless women who knew Karen. I've heard women grateful for her welcoming them into the local community after a move, women grateful for her help during times of grief, and of change. Women grateful for the friends they developed as part of her Running Goddess group. Women surprised and touched Karen had taken to time to learn about their kids. Women surprised by her random acts of kindness. Yes, Karen was a remarkable athlete. She was an even more remarkable person. The kind of person who inspires grown women with children to say, "I want to be like Karen when I grow up.”
It’s time to kick off my triathlon blog, and what better way to start than with one of my biggest accomplishments on the way to my first 70.3—saying goodbye to the swim jitters!
As soon as I signed up for Ironman Muncie, I turned around and signed up for Team Endurance Nation (EN) as well. I happily went along with the EN approach of focusing on the longest disciplines, the bike and run, with remarkably little swimming. (It turns out I misunderstood that a bit, but that’s for another day...) When the swimming finally hit in my training plan, it was a rude awakening.
Granted, I’m WAY faster than I used to be, and that’s with major kudos to Barb Figurski who got me from one sputtering lap at a time to comfortably swimming a mile or two at a stretch. That said, the thing that worried me about Ironman—really worried me—was the swim cutoff. I’ve got a decent bike background, and I’ve done enough half-marathons to know that neither the bike or run would be a concern. But the swim—oh, the swim...
My swim panic started at my first race. I fatefully asked why the caps where such awful neon colors and someone explained it's because we were swimming in a deep quarry… Um, great. Hadn’t considered drowning. So helpful, thanks. :-/ Then I spotted a woman wearing a USA suit with her name on it—wait, what?! I don’t belong in a race with people who compete for Team USA! By the time I got in the water, I couldn’t breathe, and I could barely swim. Somehow, I side-stroked and splashed my way through. Later races weren’t much better, though I did learn it’s legal (and helpful) to hang on a paddle board when panicked.
As my big race grew closer and my swim times weren’t changing, my nerves got worse. I posted in the Team EN forums about my fear of DNFing the swim (you get a “Did Not Finish” if you miss a cutoff during the race) and was surprised at the ferocity of the “get that stuff out of your head” responses. I was looking for something tactical. I knew it was too late in the season for major changes, but seriously—just work on my head?! That's no help!
I decided to do the Motor City Tri (sprint) for some practice. Even though my plan called for a longer race rehearsal that weekend, I knew I needed a “real” race rehearsal. I had developed the chops (or should I say arms? ;-) to swim across a lake, or in Lake Michigan without fear, but that became irrelevant each race day. Something about the race itself was messing me up, and I needed to figure that out before Ironman. I sure wouldn’t make the cutoff by hanging on paddle boards...
Alas, that swim wasn’t graceful either. Instead, it felt like one of the worst! I was mystified. I had made a point of doing the pre-race swim instruction, and the Detroit River was MORE choppy during the swim clinic than on race morning. During the race I was swimming (or trying to), troubleshooting, and simultaneously considering whether I should bail—it was that bad. Until something suddenly clicked. I started breathing on one side instead of using the bi-lateral breathing I’ve learned in the pool. Eureka! My rhythm and stroke returned, and I finished the swim feeling more confident, and with a concrete tactic to use in my next race.
I got home and immediately signed up a race the following weekend, determined to nail the swim. I needed to go into Ironman with a solid race swim in the bag. In the interim, the advice in my DNF thread continued to focus on mental stuff; so much so it finally started to sink in. After all, my swim had improved, EXCEPT on race day. What could that mean, except that they're right? Drat. Double drat. Drat! Not the answer I wanted, but one I was (finally) willing to accept.
Then something else also clicked—I’ve been measuring metrics for every other discipline—but not the swim. Since I’ve learned that measuring makes a difference whether in athletic training or business, I knew I better start measuring my swims. (My family remains baffled by my constant need for gadgets, but whatever. I clearly “needed” the swim watch. ;-) Whether in the pool or the lake, it turned out I was pretty consistently 53 minutes. That's under the swim cutoff (1:10) for a half ironman, but not by a huge margin, especially if you wind up hanging on paddle boards...
I did the swim clinic for my next race as well. This time I learned two things: to increase my stroke rate and how to warm up. I spent some time talking with the clinic coach about my fear of the in-water warm up. I'm afraid of warming up, then getting stuck standing on the beach turning into a popsicle. I know I SHOULD do it, but I chicken out at every race. So we talked through the timing of the warm up, and at this race you could get in any time, like right before your wave. We also discussed alternatives for races where in water start isn't allowed (or possible) like Alcatraz—and he said push ups are great in those situations. My takeaway was that getting wet is good, but getting heart rate up by any means (like push ups) was the key to a good warm up.
On race morning, I set out with a new mantra—"it’s just another swim”, using that idea that a normal lake swim is a non-issue. As I wandered down to the beach with this fresh perspective, it was truly transformative. I started realizing how much negative chatter there is at the swim start. I physically moved away from people joking about how terrible they were going to do or how nervous they were. I made my own little bubble, bounced to the music and encouraged the women around me. Oh, and the other thing I did differently was to downsize the coffee—I figured I’ve got enough adrenaline on race morning that less caffeine might help me be less of a wreck on the swim.(!)
I finished that swim with two observations: I was too warm in my wetsuit, and the swim went ok. Only after the race was over did I fully absorb what “ok” meant. It was my first race where I got in and just swam. No rescue strokes, no treading water, no paddle boards—just swimming! Yeah!