Another swimming attempt

I know I can run and I am pretty sure I can ride a bike okay (at least if I am not going over hills or riding down a busy road), but the swimming thing is a bit iffy.  When I went to the pool a few weeks ago to swim laps (which I hadn’t done in over 8 years), I was concerned that the lifeguards were going to jump in after me since I know it must have looked like I was drowning.  Well, I decided to try again a few days ago.  I think it went much better than expected, but not as great as I had hoped.

So, I bought myself a pair of swimming goggles since I had no idea where I had put mine (I did mention it has been over 8 years, right??).  Last time I swam laps I used my husband’s goggles and I just couldn’t get them to fit right.  Water kept entering and I kept stopping to pull them off.  Much better this time.  They fit perfectly and kept the water out the entire time.

As we arrived at the pool I noticed that all of the lap lanes were full.  It looked like some high school team had taken over the lap lanes and I was left with one section of the pool that was open… it didn’t have any floating lane lines (or whatever those things are called).  My husband just told me I could swim there, but I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to swim in a straight line and that I would bump into the dude who was currently swimming there.  Then I saw some kid at one end and I could only imagine him walking in front of me and messing up my rhythm (because I thought I was going to have some kind of rhythm).  But I didn’t have any other choice so I sat on edge of the pool and dipped my feet in.  The water was cold.  I soooo hate cold water.  I can spend the day with the water at my waist if it is too cold for me to get in all the way.  I kind of needed to get in all the way this time, though, if I wanted to swim laps.  The initial contact was a shock, but I warmed up within the first minute.  I figured it was good motivation for me to just keep moving.

One out-and-back lap done and I was feeling pretty good.  I actually thought that maybe my form had improved since last time, but I can never be sure since I always thought I had good running form and we all know that isn’t the case.  At least I didn’t feel like I was drowning and that all eyes were on me.  That’s an improvement.  I kept swimming from one side of the pool and stopping at the wall to push off.  I have no idea how to do one of those flip turns and I have no desire to learn how to do it.  It is not like I will be flip-turning in a lake (but I also have to remember that I will not have a wall to hold onto either).  My breathing was kind of similar to a person who is hyperventilating, but I just tried to focus on moving my arms and legs.  I can’t do everything all at once!  It only reminded me of the time when I was learning how to fix my poor running form.  I was supposed to slightly lean forward, shorten my stride, keep my arms from moving to much, relax my shoulders and count cadence.  Sure.  Whatever.

Well, I did learn that when you are swimming there is not much else to do, but swim.  And think.  There is really nothing to look at and it is not like you can wear headphones and listen to music.  All you see is water, a black line, a white wall and maybe some bright colors that pop up sporadically when the person swimming next to you is wearing a funky speedo.  All you hear is water sloshing in your ears and the muffled sound of kids yelling or whistles blowing.  And people say running is boring?

I was relieved when I finally passed lap 6.  That was the furthest I had gotten last time.  My goal was to do 10 full laps.  It had to be at least half a mile.  If I could do that then I would be set for doing a half mile during the triathlon.  So, I kept it up until I reached lap 10.  I got out of the pool all proud of myself and told my husband how many laps I had done (without stopping of course).  I asked him how far a half mile would be.  He started making some calculations in his head and replied with the number 17.  17 laps??  Those 10 took me 15 minutes.  That would mean I would have to do nearly a half an hour of swimming?  It just didn’t sound right.  I guess I didn’t believe him so I went home and used google to convert yards to miles.  Sure enough, he was right.  I felt slightly defeated.  Now I need to go back to the pool to swim farther and faster!



My First Ride

Well, I have had my new shoes since Thursday and today is already Tuesday of the following week.  It took me that long to get on the bike.  So Friday I had a lot of baking and babysitting to do.  Then on Saturday I was out fundraising and running (I just can’t say no to my weekly long run).  I thought Sunday would be the day.  Until I found out that there were 20 mph winds.  Then on Monday it was super cold.  I don’t know.  I guess I was just waiting for the perfect conditions even though I have always said that you just need to suck it up and do it anyway.  I just didn’t want my first biking experience to turn ugly because that would turn me off.

Tuesday morning finally came and I had my chance.  My husband was home in the morning.  Okay, so that meant I could sleep in while he got up to take care of get the kids.  No, I forced myself to get up.  For some reason it would have been easier if I were just getting up to go for a run.  I suppose you just get comfortable doing one thing and you don’t really want to reach outside your comfort zone.  Well, I had no other excuses.  The temperature was reasonable and the winds were calm.

Before I headed out the door I had to get on the trainer one last time.  My husband had to show me how to shift. He told me it was a lot like driving a car.  Good thing I know how to drive a manual transmission.  Yes, as I go faster I need to shift up.  When I was picturing it in my head, though, I just didn’t really see how I was going to be going so fast that I needed to shift up.  I was prepared for slowness.  When I first started running I was slow.  Slow, slow, slow.  Then as I practiced I became faster.  I really can’t expect to just jump on the bike and win a race… but I sure as heck would try.

I straddled the bike at the top of my driveway as my husband watched in anticipation.  Okay, he was actually yelling at me to get inside because of a dog running by.  This dog had been known to chase people in our neighborhood.  I suppose it wouldn’t be a good idea for him to chase me on the bike because I would most likely run him over and crash.  I waited for the dog to leave and then I was off.  Yeah, I made it down the street before I realized that I needed some more clothing.  I know what to wear for every temperature when I run.  I tend to run hot so I thought that I would warm up when I started riding until I realized that riding a bike causes more wind to hit you.  Well, duh.

Jacket, check.  Now I was finally ready to go.  I had already decided to go in and out of the subdivisions.  I knew that I didn’t want to go out on the main road.  I also knew that I didn’t want to cross over to the other side of our community because that would mean going uphill.  I love going up hills when I run and I think I might actually like doing it on a bike.  However, I know that I will dread going down a hill.  That just scares the crap out of me.  So, let’s stay away from hills for now.

Riding in and out of the cul-de-sacs was kind of a pain for me.  It was good for learning how to use the shifter because I would constantly speed up and slow down.  However, I just wanted to go faster and not have to stop, but that would mean getting out on a busy road.  And I wasn’t even sure what to do at a stoplight.  I mean, do people still use those arm signals?  What if I wanted to turn left?  I would be sitting there in the middle of the road with all of these cars around me. I guess I just kind of felt exposed.  I knew I didn’t belong on the sidewalk, but I also didn’t feel like I belonged on the street.

I felt like I could go for a long time.  I wasn’t even sweating so I wasn’t even sure if I was burning any calories.  It didn’t seem like a real workout to me, but I think that would be different out on the open road where I could really get going.  The only thing that stopped me from going more than 10 miles was the fact that I didn’t have any padded biking shorts yet and that my upper body was tense from leaning over in an awkward position.  Yep, I obviously don’t have the endurance for that yet.  Just like running, I would have to work my way up.

All in all, it was an okay experience and I will definitely get out there more.  I feel a bit more confident about a triathlon.  Now I need to focus on getting out onto the roads where all of the cars are.  As I was driving today, I saw a cyclist wearing a very bright green jacket.  Yep, that is a good idea.  It looks like bright and ugly will become part of my wardrobe.

New Ambitions

A few weeks ago I told my husband that I was condering a triathlon.  “Okay, when?”  “Oh, I think I want to do it soon.”  I then kept bringing up the fact that I didn’t have a bike and that maybe I should get a bike.  I kind of thought he would be pleased with this idea because he has been trying to get me on a bike for a long time.  You see, my husband is a bike lover.  He worked at a bike shop during college and he had biking buddies.  It is actually quite surprising that I haven’t really attempted to ride a bike in his presence during the 9 years that we have been married.

So, let’s see when I last really went for a bike ride.  My husband let me use his mountain bike while I lived in Kodiak, Alaska (when he was living in Florida).  For the most part, that bike stayed stafely tucked away in my quaint little cabin (oh, it was such a cute little cabin).  I couldn’t really ride in the snow right?  And I couldn’t take it with me when I was deployed on the ship.  Yeah, I might have gotten on that 2-wheeled thing about 3 times during the year and a half I was stationed there.  Let me see, that was about 9 years ago.

So, yesterday we pulled out one of my husband’s triathlon bikes.  Yes, he has more than one.  He is the triathlon man and I am the marathon woman.  Not sure if he likes me stepping into his territory, but he doesn’t need to worry about me trying to show him up.  I will be lucky if I can ride a bike down the street without crashing.

I can tell that this is going to be a long process with an overwhelming amount of information.  I sat on the floor as he propped the bike up on the trainer.  We had to get it to fit my body and that was going to take some adjustments.  He told me to change my clothes and I ended up with pants that were too loose at the end.  “Those are going to get caught in the chain.”  So, I hiked the pants up to my thighs.  Then he brought me his shoes.  Yes, we wear about the same size.  Sad, I know.  I put them on and then straddled the bike.  I had always wondered how the shoes snapped onto the pedals and I was soon going to find out.  Hey, it was way easier than I imagined!  I snapped them in and out over and over again until I felt like it was second nature.  There was no way I was going to get out on the road without feeling confident enough to break free when a crash is imminent!  I guess I should stop talking about crashing or else my husband might not let me borrow his bike.

Then I sat my rear down on the seat,  I thought “this can’t be right.”  I re-adjusted my rear, but nothing changed.  It hurt.  It really hurt.  The seat was digging into me and it sucked even more as I started pedaling. As I pedaled, my upper body tensed as I tried to keep my rear slightly lifted off of the seat.  My husband told me to move forward on the seat, but the only thing making it even slightly tolerable was the fact that I was sitting on the back of the seat.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to ride the bike unless I had a different seat.  A seat that was meant for women (hey, it is much different down there).  I also realized why cyclists wore padded pants.

As I leaned forward to grab the handle bars, we realized that my torso was just a bit too short.  Sorry, but most of my height comes from my legs.  He tried to re-adjust the bars to come closer to me, but that failed.  We would have to purchase another part (okay, I don’t remember the name of the part) in order to bring the bars closer, making the ride more comfortable.  That, with the seat, should make it a little better.  We shall see.

So, today we went to the bike store with our 3 kids in tow.  It is always a pleasure to take your kids to a store…  I was told to sit down on a seat that could measure my butt bones so I did.  Wouldn’t you know, it showed that I needed a seat that was shaped differently than the one my husband used (I probably have a wider rear).  Of course they didn’t have shoes that fit my large feet so we had to order them.  Lastly, we realized that I needed a helmet.  There are 4 helmets in our house, but none of them belong to me.  Even my kids ride bikes!  The first one I tried on was the right one.  I tried on about 5 more just to be sure, but it was the first one that fit my head just perfectly.  And it just happened to be purple.

I started talking to my husband about the difference between road bikes and triathlon bikes.  I was so clueless, but I had heard once that road bikers (I guess cyclists is a better term?) don’t like to ride in a group with triathlon cyclists.  Being that I was clueless, he said that it isn’t proper etiquette when the triathlon rider brings his or her body all the way down because then that defeats the purpose of taking the lead.  But I was told that they can ride together as long as the triathlon rider sits up.  Okay, but I was still kind of worried that I would be outcasted if I wanted to go on a group ride with some biker friends.  Not that I have many biker friends right now, but who knows if I will ever get any when I show up on my triathlon bike.  It might be similar to a walker showing up to a group RUN… I have no idea.

Then I started asking about the actual triathlons.  “Are people allowed to ride road bikes at a triathlon?”  “Yes, they can ride whatever they choose, but a triathlon bike has more of an advantage over a road bike.”  “Okay, but could you ride a triathlon bike on a century ride?”  “Depends on what type of ride it is because some of those aren’t actually races.”  Then I started asking about drafting and how that works in a triathlon.  He told me that you can’t draft and they have very specific rules.  I think he was getting tired of all of my questions so he finally told me that I needed to read the rule book.  A rule book?  When I go to a marathon I just run.  I kept trying to think about all of the “rules” of running, but maybe it was just proper running etiquette that came to my mind.  People don’t always have etiquette (like the run/walkers might just decide to stop dead right in front of a runner).  But I guess with these rules you actually have to comply or else you get booted off the course or something.  I suppose I better read this book.  It all sounds very complicated.  And I haven’t even gotten the bike to the pavement yet.