Monday, July 29, 2013

My First Open Water Swim...

Sunday was a big day in the sport of triathlon.  There were events internationally and domestically with an Ironman competition in Switzerland and another in Lake Placid, New York.  The latter is a long term goal  for myself, in the sport, so I followed it from the time I woke up at 4:30 AM.  

Why on God's green earth would I wake up that early on a Sunday?  As the title of the post suggests, it was my first open water swim.  My alarm was set for 5 AM but my youngest had other plans...

Anywho, I wasn't too nervous for my first swim.  One could say I was comfortable with the idea.  With tweets like this going out at 5 in the morning, what triathlete wouldn't be excited to go out for a swim?

Before we get too far into Sunday I need to backtrack a bit to share how our Saturday run turned out.  Lack of a better word, it was great!  Ran a little over a half marathon and felt pretty good about it.  The weather was rainy and in the high 60s/low 70s.  Aside from a little sogginess, it was just about perfect.

Back to Sunday!

I made my way to Bryce's house to carpool to the site of the Portage Lakes Olympic tri in September.  The new Sunday morning swim team consisted of Bryce, James, Adam, and myself.  It was exactly a week from our triumphant North Canton Sprint Tri and excitement was on high.  Along with the excited feeling we were also a little cold.  Summer lasted a week in Ohio this year and it was back in the low 60s on swim morning.  Still looks nice in the pictures though:

Disclaimer: Conditions may be colder than they appear...
What you don't see in this pic are all the fishermen who were around that morning.  Some of them pretty close to the shore.  Walking down the hill to the water I could feel all of their bucket hat laden heads shifting their attention to us.  Almost as if it was like a scene in a movie where a group of people walk in a line in slow motion (usually out of a cloud of smoke, holding rifles).  Although I'm sure they weren't looking at us in awe.  If I were a betting man I'd say they were a bit upset that their calm fishing waters would be disrupted by a few swimming schlubs.

Bryce brought me a swim cap and Adam was gracious enough to offer me his extra wet-suit.  I'm a fan of training in race conditions so I opted out of the suit, thinking I wouldn't be using one on race day.  Once I got the cap suctioned on my head (and almost ripping off my eyebrows) we made our way into the lake.  The water was warmer than the out of water conditions.  It was nice.  The lake bottom felt like I was walking in mud which beats the alternative of walking on rocks.  

After receiving our briefing on the course from Adam I was off.  I'm not sure how much a swim cap helps but I felt like I was cutting through the water.  It was one of those days when you just feel good about your training.  With a little under two months till race-day this open water swimming stuff felt right.  For at least that first couple minutes...

This is when I made a mistake.  You can't see the ground through the mucky lake but I thought I was in relatively shallow water.  Curiosity took over and I stopped to stand.  (There are certain moments in life where you can feel drastic emotion changes.  This was one of them.)  I couldn't touch.  Excitement and effort turned into panic.  James asked if I was ok.  My initial response was "no" (which probably sounded like "blubublubNObublub").  After what felt like a couple days of struggle (less than 10 seconds) I started swimming towards shore.  A few seconds later I stood up.  

I'm about to give a hint to what I said when I stood up only because I'd like to stay transparent.  I'm not proud, or even excited, to share this but I was saying some stuff that would cause a bar of soap to go into my mouth if I had said it 20 years ago...  

After that brief moment I tried to swim a few more times but paranoia set in.  I'd swim a few strokes and I would stop to stand, with a mini panic attack happening prior to each abrupt stop in progress.  This went on for 15 to 20 minutes and I was done.  Tail between my legs, I walked back up to where we placed our equipment.  Panic turned into anger and I sat and sulked. 

Thanks to my friends for giving me a different perspective that snapped me out of my pity party.  It was simple really: I swam back to where I could stand.  January 1st I couldn't swim a few meters.  Today I have done 2 sprint tris and swim a couple thousand meters a week.  When I get panicked I need to remember that I can swim.  Not extremely fast or graceful, but I can swim.  I think I'm going to use that wet-suit though...

We'll be back out there on Sunday.  

Today I checked out the registration for the 2014 Lake Placid Ironman so I knew what info I'd need to register next year.(you need to sign up the day after the race if you hope to get a spot for the next year).  Pretty basic, aside from one spot:

Health insurance carrier and insurance policy number...


Sunday, July 21, 2013

2013 North Canton Sprint Tri: Recap and Reflections

Hello hello!

Pretty deep post title, eh?

This morning I competed in my second triathlon/multi-sport race ever.  Today was really the ending of a great weekend.  Let's take a look back, shall we!?

Friday was pretty lax.  The fam and I went out to dinner and waited for the balloon liftoff for the Football Hall of Fame Balloon Festival.  Unfortunately, no balloons came.  Due to some less than stellar conditions the balloons didn't lift off at all the entire weekend.  Major bummer.  I haven't gone out to watch the liftoff every year but it's cool just seeing them throughout the weekend.  Breaks up the monotony.  We were OK with heading home because we had a busy weekend ahead of us.

Saturday started off a little soggy.  Weather reports had rain starting at 11-12ish.  Our 8 am team run was safe.  On my way to our meet up spot it starts to downpour.  Weatherman fail.  The rain didn't slow us down though.  If anything, it was a welcome sight after last week's hazardously hot session.  Instead of following the training plan's recommendation of 14 miles, we did 5.  That was due to the tri being Sunday morning.  No use killing yourself before race day.  During our run two of us started to infiltrate the head of our friend James with talks of doing Sunday's tri.  It worked.  Beautifully.  We had recruited one more nut.

After our run I headed to my church's outdoor flea market event.  I went out to see a talented young kid named Jarrod.  He had handmade 100 bracelets with all of the money made going to Active:Water.

After picking up a couple for myself, I felt like I could run a marathon.  You don't have to run marathons or do an Ironman to help those in need.  Using your God given talents is what it's all about.  Way to go Jarrod!

Which brings us to today.  Sunday.  Race day.

I honestly didn't think I would be doing another triathlon this year.  Race entries aren't getting any less expensive and my kids have this bad habit of wanting three meals a day.  With some good budgeting and finance watching I was able to compete.

I can honestly say that I wasn't nervous for the race.  While my training hasn't been on plan like it should, I still felt in shape enough to get through a sprint tri.  Also, all four of us had family and friends there which made me feel like it would be easier.  I'm not used to having a cheering section.  We were in the second wave of swimmers in this pool swim tri.  After getting a minute to acclimate ourselves in the water we were off.  I pushed off and starting going much faster than I'm used to swimming.  In the first 50 meters I panicked a bit and stood up a couple times.  I wasn't breathing like I should.  At the first 50 meter turn around I stopped and took a deep breath to calm myself.  The panicky feeling subsided and I was able to continue with limited issue, aside from not being a great swimmer.


I would kick myself if I didn't stop and say hi to my beautiful girls.
Go daddy go!

Transitioning from the pool to the bike was smooth.  Since I don't have any of those new fangled clip pedals I did a quick dry off, threw on a shirt, tied up my kicks, put on my new bracelet,  slapped on my helmet, and I was on my way.  The bike portion was a 3 time loop for 10 miles or so.  Included in the 10 miles were two decent to difficult hills.  Thanks to Bryce installing a bike computer the night before I was able to see my speed.  The race didn't have an intricate timing system so I don't know how fast I did each leg.  I can say, with some confidence, that I averaged between 17-19 mph on the bike.  I was able to pass a few people too, which is always a little confidence booster.  Also, the volunteers were great.  All but a couple of them were extremely excited and cheering us racers on.  Thank race volunteers!  They deserve at least that one second of your race time!

Start of the bike leg.

Hey! I know him!

Go go go

Bryce and Adam killing it on their TT bicycles!
While dismounting from the bike I almost face planted.  ALMOST!  I acted like nothing happened and made my way to the transition rack.  On my way to the racks I had a big cheering section.  The section included my wife, the girls, and my mother-in-law.  Bryce, his family, and his parents.  Adam's wife Erin.  James' wife and 3 sons.  Plus our friend Shane and his wife and son came out to support us.  I can't thank all of them enough for cheering me, and the other guys, on.  Races are definitely easier when you have people you know there for you.  This transition also took no time for me.  I owe it all to not having clip pedals.  I took off my helmet, took a swig of water, kissed my wife, and off I went.  Kinda.  My legs were complete jello.  Right away someone from the first wave passed me up.  Not a great way to start off the run but I got used to people passing me by the end.  I stopped once to drink water, so I'm counting it as a win.  The run was a three lap cross-country course.  My second mile felt the best and towards the end of the third mile my quads were started to spazz out a bit.  No worries though.  The run ended on a high note.  Being the last one to finish out of the four of us had it's perks because I had three more people in my cheering section.  I'm sure the run was faster than I imagined it.  Running after swimming and biking doesn't even feel like running.  After my first lap I asked my wife if my legs were still on the bike...

I think I can I think I can
Adam finishing strong.  It looks like he's floating
Heading towards the finish.  Motorin'

 Some things I learned from this weekend:

- Another person's passion is contagious.  Even if they are much younger than you are..
- I need a tri kit.  There are some other pictures my wife has of me on the bike.  My shorts look like parachutes.  There's probably a reason most triathletes wear them...
- Need to get on the aero bars...
- The triathlon community is great.  I'm privileged to be a part of it.
- Through running and tri-ing my friendships have grown stronger and I've started a lot of new ones.  That alone makes the training and racing worth it...
- My wife is amazing.  She took photos, cheered me on, and watched 2 kids during the entire race.  Also a big thank you to my mother-in-law who was there helping Aimee.  Later at church she told me that she had a crummy week.  She almost didn't go but was glad she did.  Something about triathlons is exciting.  Even to those who aren't competing.

Myself, Adam, Bryce, and James.  Team Dork

Wednesday, July 17, 2013



It's hot here...

16 days of measurable rainfall has transitioned into an official heat wave.  Today is day 3, or maybe 4, of days hitting in the 90s.  This does not include the heat index (humidity included with temperature).  Solid 90 degree days.  No A/C in my car is not making things much better.  I love sweating when  I'm working out.  It makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something.  Driving to work is not an accomplishment deserving of perspiration.  The other day my wife needed our car so my good friend Jermaine drove me to work.  He told me he was going to pick me up at 530 in the morning.  I headed out a couple minutes earlier to wait and just standing outside I was sweating.  The sun wasn't up yet!

I had to get that off my chest.  Maybe the weather is making me crabby?

I had a motivating run on Saturday, but not for the reasons you may think...

It was bad.

Marathon training hasn't gotten off to a great start.  I did ten miles a couple weeks back and felt OK.  Got through the run at 30 seconds faster per mile than my Cleveland Half Marathon PR pace.  I wanted to die at the end, but I felt like I was moving in the right direction.  Since then a funk seems to have take over my being.  Skipping workouts, sleeping in, getting caught up in everything else that life throws at me.

There was a race between that ten miler and Saturday's run.  The race was awesome.  It was on the 4th of July.  North Canton isn't a big town and it's not too small of a town.  Every 4th of July the race takes over the town.  It feels like everyone from the city is there.  I took part in the 5 miler.  Team Active:Water Canton also took the opportunity to get some team photos (minus some members who couldn't make it)

A photographer from the YMCA caught a good group pic.  Including the non running loved ones!

Go Team!
 My daughter also got into the running spirit by taking part in the firecracker run:

Hey Daddy.  Lets run!  The pure joy is beautiful
The run was good.  It was a little hot and it was day two of the measurable rain.  Luckily it held off for the races, aside from a drizzle here and there.  Here are a more pics from race day, plus one of me and my little runner later that day:

Action shot!

Running makes ya tired

Sweaty team picture afterwards

Love that girl.. Especially when she's acting like a goof ball. 

The weekend after the 4th I had a 12 mile run planned but my puking oldest daughter and a little less sick youngest daughter had other plans.  I could have fit a run in I'm sure but the funk fell upon me.  Which brings me to Saturday.  It was a week and a half since the July 4th run (wow, I haven't updated this thing in a while).  I hadn't had a good solid run following the race.  Or any run for that matter (I did get some swimming and biking in though).  There were 5 of us running the 12 miles that morning and we started normal enough.  Going about 9:10 a mile for the first couple.  It felt good but I wanted to dial it back a little bit since I hadn't run in a while.  Brought it down to 9:30 and that is when I fell back.  The group drifted ahead and Bryce yelled back asking if I was alright.  Then a little later would ask if I'm OK.  I wasn't.  I told them to go on without me, like some dramatic Steven Spielberg war drama.  Instead of doing all 12 I copped out and did about 9.


During the run I thought about something.  I thought about how people stake the claim that "well no one is perfect".  Usually after a mistake is made.You may hear this when you tell someone about a bad experience, possibly in distance running.  Maybe this thought came into my brain to help myself feel better.  I'm not striving to be perfect.  Only one person achieved that, and it wasn't by Himself.  Just because I can't be perfect doesn't mean I shouldn't strive for excellence.  Not in time, or placing in a race, but pursuing God's will, which is what this whole running thing is all about.

I would explain how I was feeling about running but a couple days later a friend posted a link that I'd like to share with you.  It describes things pretty well.  It's a little bit of a read, but it's got lots and lots of pictures!

Later on Saturday all I wanted to do was run.  Running as bad as I did made me want to get back out and crush the blerch.  Monday night, in the 80+ degree heat, I was able to pound out 4.5 miles at what felt like a good pace.  Things are definitely looking up. Take THAT blerch!

This weekend I'll be doing the North Canton YMCA Sprint Tri.  It's an outdoor pool swim and my second ever triathlon.  Let's do this!