Littlefoot Triathlon – Race Recap

Oh man.

This summer I planned to do no races, to enjoy my summer, and to go to more happy hours. And I have! I have spent a lot of time drinking beers on patios, sitting on the couch, working, and very little time working out. As a result I’m slightly squishier but a lot less stressed out than I was this time last summer.

But a few weeks ago Chris and I went for a bike ride and then I hopped off and did a short run. Just to see. Just to see how bad a brick might feel. But it was fine! I was hot and tired, but really, it was fine.

So on a whim, with no training, yesterday afternoon I signed up for the Littlefoot Triathlon, a tiny sprint tri that was this morning. (There were only about 150 racers.) I had done two random 5ks this summer, not really trained, and PR’d both! Maybe 2013 was one long taper I’d benefited from immensely.

Ha. Hahahaha. Oh, Past Mel. How did you get so dumb?

I actually had a lot of fun today, but I totally face-planted in the race. The very short version with random crappy iPhone pictures…

The approach:

Most of my gear came together pretty quickly last night except for 10 tense minutes spent looking for a stray cycling glove. (I have super crappy wrists, I need them even for a short ride.) My alarm didn’t go off (I set it for PM instead of AM) but Chris’s alarm woke me up and I got out the door on time. On the way there, I hit a bump on the freeway and in the rear view mirror watched my bike bounce out of its fastenings on the bike rack and slide dangerously close to flying off. Pulled over, adjusted, drove verrrry carefully the rest of the way.

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The swim:

Always my favorite leg, and I love the part before we start where everyone’s in the water chatting. I haven’t swam (in a pool or in a lake) in a year so I was impressed that I could swim a half mile with no breaks. It wasn’t fast, but I swam pretty straight and was able to pass some folks.

The bike:

Bleh. I think I have realized I do not enjoy cycling, especially on my crappy Target bike. The course wasn’t as hilly as I thought, but it was really curvy, so you had zero momentum going into the uphills. Also, my heart rate was like “WHY DID YOU JUST SWIM SO HARD FOR SO LONG? IS SOMETHING CHASING YOU?” and my heart rate would. Not. Come. Down. Not when I slowed down, not when I had water, not when I took it easy on the uphills.

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The run:

I got off the bike and my legs felt okay-ish, but again my heart rate was like “THIS IS NOT DRINKING BEER. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING??” And by this time it was really hot, and when I tried to run my heart rate exploded and I felt a little dizzy. So since I had no goals, and I was just here for fun, I decided to just walk the 5k. I could have kept up a run/walk situation but…meh. Meh. I say.

I smiled at other racers, chatted with volunteers, and drank a lot of water. It was hot. Then there were fewer people on the course and I got bored. I kind of wished I’d spent my $85 on a new dress.

The finish:

I realized at some point that I was the last finisher, and I felt badly because I think people really like to cheer for last finishers who look like they’re overcoming some hardship but trying really hard. People like it when the last finisher is really old or overweight but doing their best to sprint to the finish! I was just a healthy lady who was not trained at all and being kind of lazy.

When I got to the finish line I tried to nonchalantly saunter across, but the announcer stopped the raffle/awards to call me out, and I waved to the crowd. “Hi! Sorry. Don’t mind me. Are there any vegetarian sandwiches left?” (There weren’t!)

Maybe 15 seconds after I finished, I was slinking off to collect my stuff when the announcer called out my name for first place! Well, only place. In the sadly neglected Athena division. (That means I weigh more than 150 pounds.) I collected my award and marveled at the math that allowed me to be both first and last. Ah, well.

So there’s that. Ninth triathlon in the books. Kind of made an idiot of myself, but I had fun.

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Three footnotes if I could remember how to actually code footnotes:

One, I think I actually came in last place, which is kind of funny. It’s that thing people dread but it’s fine. No one points and laughs at you, you still get the same t-shirt. I’m kind of happy to fall on this sword if it means someone else who would mind doesn’t have to. But, I was also in the last wave, so maybe someone who started 20 minutes ahead of me actually took more time than I did. Who knows.

Two, I wish the Athena division was really a thing. I always sign up for it if it’s an option because seriously, regardless of how in shape you are, it’s just harder to propel 150 pounds around a course than it is 120 pounds, and I’m a big person! I’d like to compete against other big people. I’m tall and broad and the only time in my life I’ve weighed less than 150 pounds was a brief period after college when I engaged in some somewhat disordered habits. Other than that, I’ve fit into the same jeans since high school.

And there were definitely women in that weight range who beat me today who decided to compete in their age group instead. They should have this cool plaque, not me! I mean, to each her own. Thanks for the first place/last place finish, ladies!

Three, race directors: you always run out of the vegetarian sandwiches or burritos! You should have more. I was starving and made a beeline for a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich when I left the park.

Welcome back to my life, ugly wetsuit

Open water swimming opened today! I swim in Bowles Reservoir, where Mile High Multisport hosts swimming from 7-9:30 on the weekends and 5:30-7 Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This year I got a season pass so I can go as many days as I want. I have to go nine more times to make the pass cheaper than the drop in rate. Fine by me because I frigging love swimming outside.

I 100% stole this picture from google image search. This is Bowles Reservoir, but it didn’t look like this today. It was gray and raining pretty hard. One more reason swimming is better than running or cycling? Rain doesn’t really ruin it. The walk from the car to the locker room was chilly, but once you get in the water it’s hard to even tell it’s raining.

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When I did my google image search, though, I found this drawing I made of the reservoir last year. Those are swimmers wearing bright yellow caps. You have to wear a bright colored cap, that’s a rule!

I felt super rusty. I had a false start with my wetsuit and one of the legs was all twisted. I also pushed a nice thumbnail gash into one of the legs. Oops. Maybe I did it subconsciously since I hate, hate, hate my pink wetsuit. It works fine as a wetsuit, it just looks like a 1980s barbie wetsuit to me.

Fancy photo collage of my ugly wetsuit, two pictures from this morning and a race photo from last year:

It’s always hard to put your face in the water for the first time, and it took me a long time to warm up, but after 20 minutes or so I was feeling pretty good and transitioned from flailing and gasping to swimming and breathing. I definitely need to practice my sighting, but it felt good to be swimming outside again. Nothing against the lap pool, I love that too. But I wish I could take a picture of the view from the middle of the reservoir. It just feels so cool to be floating around out there.

And there is not a more friendly group of people than those you meet at open water swimming. Everyone wants to talk to you about your races and their own races and to compare notes on gear.

Aaah! I just feel so good and happy and looking forward to MOAR SWIMMING this summer.

Good morning, sunshine

They only offer weekday swimming at this lake from 5:30 to 7 am, which called for a 4:30 wake up call in this house.  I don’t really understand when people talk about what they look like “first thing in the morning.”  I think I look pretty much the same all day.  But even I was a little taken aback by the face in the mirror pre-5 am.  That’s not even morning, yet.  It’s still night.

I was so pumped to see the sunrise when we got there.  Man, this is going to be such a pretty view while swimming.  Except, wait.  Can you see a buoy out there, far to the right?  Yeah.  Neither could I.

It’s somewhere between 1 and 1.2 miles around all four buoys.  I went something like this.

Getting to buoy number one: Ooh, chilly!  But not too bad.  Splash splash.  Breast/side/free and repeat.

Getting to buoy number two: Yeah!  I am doing this.  Free style/front crawl all the way!  I’m even trying to have some semblance of form.  This feels more like swimming, less like awful.

Getting to buoy number three: Oh.  I’m tired.  Okay.  Pace yourself. Some breast stroke breaks.

Getting to buoy number four: I am hungry and tired and ready for a shower please.  Are we done?

I am randomly off work today! Big plans to be productive. Big prediction I’ll actually be lazy instead.

Open Water Swimming, Take Two

I hesitate to post this photo because you can only see two of the buoys.  The one where you start, and then the next closest one.  The other two are much farther away.  They look really, really small when you first get in.  Read: I want you to be impressed, and I don’t think picture will have this effect.

All the way around all four is one mile.  I have swam a mile or more before, but it looks different to see all those laps laid end to end like this.

My second attempt at open water swimming was much more successful than the first.  I was a little nervous to go by myself since my normal training buddy couldn’t come with me. 

We’ve been swimming at Bowles Reservoir with Mile High Multipsport.  It’s $11.54 for a one day pass or $9 per session if you buy a five or ten card punch pass.  I got a one day pass the first time and then bought the five punch card.

My first swim was all about getting acclimated.  Where do we park?  Check in?  Can I put my wetsuit on on the grass or am I supposed to put it on in the locker room?  Is it cold?  It’s cold.  Only 55 degrees!

I felt like a big lame-o since I sort of flailed around the buoys, doing very little actual swimming.  I can swim for ages in the pool, and I wasn’t freaked out by fish or lake monsters.  Why was my heart beating so hard and why was it so hard to breathe?

Doing some googling, I learned that it’s a physiological response, your lungs constrict in cold water. And that made me feel much better about feeling like I couldn’t catch my breath.

Yesterday’s swim, I felt a lot better.  I knew where to park!  I knew it was fine to put my wetsuit on in the grass.  And the water was a bit warmer. Still cold, but not quite as shocking.

I still had a harder time catching my breath than normal.  I did a few “bobs” (ducking under water and then jumping up as high as I could) to warm up.  I switched off between breast stroke, side stroke, and front crawl.  Front crawl is, of course, the fastest, but my lungs were still protesting a bit.  I tried to use mostly my arms and take it easy on the kick.  That worked pretty well.  I was able to go around the three rightmost buoys in less than 25 minutes as opposed to more than 45 last week.  I think that was about 750 meters.  I was feeling so good, I struck out to do another lap, but halfway to the first bouy I was like, “Okay, Mel.  That’ll do.”  I think I went about a half mile total in less than 30 minutes.

Next time I think I would like to do one lap around three bouys, stop for a rest, and then do it again.  Or perhaps even go around all four for one mile.  Honestly, it pains me to pay $9 for a 30 minute workout (plus more than an hour round trip to get there) and I’d like to get more workout bang for my buck!