Week 5+6 Desert’s Edge Tri Training: A Little Bit of Adventure

The antibiotics are done and the cold/flu has mostly worked itself out of me. The exhaustion is still lingering but I am able to get most of my rest.

I’ve registered for the sprint distance, and oh boy, thank goodness I didn’t spring for the Olympic! I’ve made it into the pool a few times, but my ear infection has had negative impacts on my swimming so I am minimizing my time in the water. I’m trying to increase my endurance on my feet so instead of slogging my usual slow miles I’ve been replacing some of my weekday maintenance runs with the stair climber. My bike sessions have been on the stationary bike or my bike trainer, which is much less helpful than actually being on my bike. Hopefully I can remedy that in the next few weeks before my race.

School is back in session, so I am spending even longer days downtown. To pull off my training schedule, I currently have two different gyms that I go to: 24 Hour Fitness and Planet Fitness. My membership at 24 Hour Fitness was grandfathered in at $50/year because I bought into it a very long time ago at an insanely expensive rate. My Planet Fitness membership was actually only $10/month but I upgraded to their “Black Card” plan, which includes unlimited use of their massage tables and chairs. I figure with all the extra load, it’ll be nice to have those amenities available so close by at work. Plus, I can use any facilities anywhere, which is awesome. On my first upgraded day, I used the massage bed twice. That’s a 20-minute massage, folks.

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My triumph for the day was really that 20-minute massage.

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With such a significant amount of my training happening indoors, it’s tough to simulate real-world conditions. I also find myself taking the tri sequence out of order – instead of doing my workouts in the swim-bike-run order, I’ll just shove them into my calendar whichever way is logistically easier. For instance, it’s usually easier if I swim last because then I can just lump it into my shower and head out the door. Biking on the trainer is infinitely faster than prepping the bike and gear and heading out onto the trail, but….as I am learning the hard way, it definitely doesn’t replace riding on the trail.

Speaking of indoor/outdoor training…

I didn’t make it to the lake last weekend, but I did make it this weekend. Well, I actually only made it to Saturday, and not Sunday. (My goal was to make it to both). I’m batting a 25% success rate. I packed and organized my things the night before so I wouldn’t rush the morning of the swim:

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The morning of the swim, I loaded my wetsuit into the car and I headed to Grant Ranch in Littleton. I took a glance at the route map and tried to remember which way to swim, but apparently I still remembered incorrectly. All I recalled were orange buoys, and for some reason my mind latched onto them like nothing else.

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However, you will also see that the orange buoys aren’t exactly a route.

Yup…I swam a non-existent route. I should’ve swam the yellow route since that was marked as the distance of my course. However,  what was probably most easily read was the orange course. The beach actually starts at the middle orange buoy, so it actually seems almost inevitable that the shortest route someone could swim would actually be 0.93 miles. Either way, all the buoys seemed really far away from each other and swimming is hard and swimming in a lake in dark murky water is even harder. What’s even worse is when you first get into the lake, the mud beneath your feet is very mushy. Then, when you first start swimming the mud beneath you feet suddenly disappears and is replaced with a bunch of tall weeds and plants. Then, suddenly, you’re out in the middle of the lake, just all by yourself…and hopefully you still remember how to swim! If not, then hopefully you still have a buoy, like I did.

I brought my wetsuit again, and this time I came with Body Glide and my trusty trash bags. I tried my usual trick and still, again, I could not get the wetsuit over my calves and thighs. Ugh! This wetsuit that I bought in 2011 no longer fits me. It makes me sad. It last fit me in 2014. Am I really all that different now a few years later? I wanted to avoid buying a new suit, and I know that rentals are still available, but XTERRA sells plenty of cheap wetsuits. I could easily just get a cheap one. It’s just the pain of knowing that my old suit no longer fits. I suppose the 2011 me or the 2014 me is also not as accomplished as the 2018 me, so that’s something to consider too.

Anywho, back to the swimming story.

So I’m out there, without a wetsuit. I try to get my body used to the cold water. Without a wetsuit, it takes me a few minutes of getting my legs underwater. Then my arms. Then my chest. I dunk my head a few times but I can’t quite brave keeping my head there for longer than a few seconds. I remember something my last open water swim instructor said – “to warm up, just swim faster” so I thought, well…let’s just start swimming. I dislodge my feet free of the mud and finally swim past the weeds and suddenly it’s just me and my buoy out in the water. There’s nothing underneath me. I couldn’t stand even if I wanted to. What business did I have swimming out here anyways?

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Panic sets in. I start thrashing around, reaching for my buoy behind me. A family is off in the distance on their standup paddleboards enjoying their Saturday. I glance at my watch and only a minute thirty has gone by.

This is going to be a long morning.

I catch my breath and try to calm down. There’s a few swimmers doing their rounds, criss-crossing the lake. Not a big deal. I’ll just try again. I put my head down in the water and begin reaching again for the orange buoy. Reach, reach, breathe. Reach, reach, breathe. I repeat a few more times and think about how I’m out here all alone, and how we’re never supposed to swim alone. Terror washes over me. What if something happens to my swim buoy? Will I have enough endurance to swim back to land? Would anyone know where to find me? I begin thrashing again and reaching for my buoy.

I’m so frustrated. I know how to swim. Why am I panicking? Why is it so cold? I feel the water slipping into my ear and it makes my head uncomfortable. Has the infection not cleared itself? I look again at my watch. Three minutes thirty seconds. The first orange buoy is still far off in the distance. This swim will literally never end.

This process repeats itself another four times. I am in the water for a grand total of 25 minutes and 17 seconds and I panic six times. I really didn’t quite get it together until I rounded the last buoy and headed back towards shore. That was when I finally found my rhythm, even if I didn’t swim it back all the way in. At that point, my energy was completely drained from all the panicking from earlier and my arms were so sore from the inefficient swimming that I was just toast. It makes me think that my swim needs a lot more work if I want to work on longer races next year. I can’t believe I thought I’d even be ready for a 70.3 this summer. I completely overestimated the time I would have and how quickly my skills would snap back.

I was happy with the last straight shot back to shore. It was probably because I had a goal in mind: get back to land. Get back into my car and drive far, far away.

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I have four more tries before the big day. And one wetsuit to purchase. I’m cutting it really close here.

My motivation and morale was completely shot for the entire day, so on Sunday, I thought I would muster up the courage to head back to the lake. I woke up on the NOPE side of bed. Instead, I got ready for a ride outside…my first of the season. Yes, my first of the season. Yes, it’s also late August and the season is practically over. It’s been a busy season.

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The Platte River Trail is close by. It connects near our home, but also connects near a 24 Hour Fitness and near our local bike shop. So many great places! We headed out for a ride and it was a beautiful but hot day.

It turns out that roundabouts for bike paths are a thing here, and it’s really cute…even if I am terrible at turns.

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After our ride, I headed in to the gym for a quick swim. This new Honey Stinger swim cap is amazing! I love the material. It doesn’t snag or rip my hair. I want to order at least 5 more of these!!

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Post-swim, I was quite famished. Rehydrated with nuun of course, and had a waffle before and after my ride and swim. And I had a sweet treat too 🙂

Next week, we’ve got a bit of traveling so we’ll see how I keep up with my training on the road!

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