April 15, 2014

Tri Talk Tuesday Linkup- Swim

This week I am linked-up with 3 other triathlon bloggers (Cynthia from You Signed Up for WhatMiranda from Cupcake Triathlete and Courtney from TriGirl Chronicles) to discuss the swim portion of a triathlon. Linking up is a good way to find other blogs in your niche and to connect with some new people. The purpose of this link up is to connect specifically triathlete bloggers with one another on a different topic each week. This week we are discussing the swim. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee and let me share with you how my first swim experience went down. It wasn't pretty.

My first open water swim (OWS) was in Lake Mead for my second triathlon. I've swam in Lake Mead before and I thought how hard can it be? Then again my so called "swimming in Lake Mead" really meant jumping off the back of the boat while keeping your hand up so you don't spill your Coors as you jump in.

Again how hard could it be?

The morning of Pumpkinman triathlon I pulled on my wetsuit for the first time (fail #1) and panicked because the long sleeves felt way too tight! My breathing started getting faster and faster and I felt like I was going to choke. I began waving my arms over my head to see if I would even be able to lift them at all and I couldn't. I couldn't move my arms so I grabbed a pair of scissors and started cutting the sleeves off. My brother and his wife (aka Mr. and Mrs. Ironman) looked on in horror and tried to talk me down off  "the ledge." It was either swim with the suit or without at this point. I chose to swim with it.

I stood on the edge of Mead frozen like a statute looking at the other waves starting their swim and didn't dare get in the water to warm-up (fail #2). My wave was announced and I turned to Mr. and Mrs. Ironman and told them I was going to barf. I think they just said, "go have fun and you'll be ok!" The gun went off and I put my face down in the water and saw darkness, mud and bits of plants under me. I immediately pulled my head up for fear that I was going to see a giant Carp like the ones near the dock from the day before.
I'm pretty sure my heart rate was well in the 200's at this point. I couldn't get my breathing under control and was being kicked and punched by other swimmers as they swam over me. I finally pulled off to the side and flipped over on my back and looked up at the sky. Something about the blue sky calmed me. I took some long deep breaths as I felt the panic attack coming on and just kept focusing on the sky. After a few minutes I got myself under control and swam. I closed my eyes a lot during the swim because every time I looked at the bottom of the lake I feared seeing a fish and it would immediately bring me back into panic mode.

I followed the trail of other swimmers and probably dog paddled most of the time. But I was so glad when I spotted the big arch that meant water exit. I couldn't have been happier to see that arch. I got out as fast as I could but had trouble getting my wetsuit off. It was then that I remembered that in a hurry that morning I skipped using any Body Glide or TriSlide (fail #3). It took several volunteers to pry it off me and I even wished I had packed those darn scissors, I considered cutting the darn thing off.

I've since done several other open water swims and found each one gets easier and easier. I have learned to relax in the water and while I still fear the fish, I just talk myself down when I start to think about it. I bought a new wetsuit (a sleeveless) and that made a huge difference in my comfort level.

This fall I will return once again to swim in Lake Mead for Silverman 70.3. Here's to hoping it goes a lot smoother this time!

Have you ever done an open water swim? How did you feel the first time? I'd love to hear your experiences!

Do you have a triathlon blog? Would you like to link up? Visit one of the blogs listed at the beginning of this post to include your link.

April 14, 2014

TRI Tip: What to carry in your bike saddle bag?

saddle bag, cycling, triathlons

If you follow my Facebook page: Just A Mom Who TRI's you may know that every once in awhile I like to include my collection of "TRI Tips." These are just things I have learned over the years that have helped me. I'm certainly no expert (far from it) so take each bit of information as you'd like! And what has worked for me, may not work for you. This tip about saddle bags required a little more information than just a snippet on my Facebook page. 

TRI Tip: I highly recommend carrying  a saddle bag or under the seat bag on every ride. 

A saddle bag is typically that little pouch that hangs underneath the seat of your bike. It contains some very important items, especially those that pertain to changing a flat tire. I can't stress how important it is to know how to change a tire on your bike. You never know when a flat will happen and you may not be in a place where you can get help. My advice is to practice many times until you can do it all by yourself. Then practice it again.

So what do you carry in a saddle bag?

Here's a few things I carry in my saddle bag:

1. Rubber gloves. I am a little obsessive about having clean hands. I can't stand bike grease and gloves is a must for me. I put these on before I do anything to my bike.

2. TWO CO2 cartridges and nozzle head/base This is what you will use to inflate your tires. I always carry 2 cartridges in case I screw up and inflate incorrectly or by chance the cartridge is empty. These are small and lightweight so it's not a big deal to carry an extra one.

3. Tire levers These are small plastic tools that are used to assist with pulling the tire off the rim.

4. Handlebar end cap Did you know that the USAT requires your handlebar ends (and aerobar ends) to be capped? And if they are not you could immediately be disqualified from a race. I have raced a few triathlons where officials would check your bike as you began setting up your transition area. What a bummer it would be if by chance one of yours had just recently popped out by accident! I always carry an extra one, since it doesn't take up much room in my bag.

5. TWO spare tubes As my rides started getting longer I began carrying an extra tube. I would hope that I wouldn't have to use two but again you never know.  You could also end up being a hero if someone asks you for one during a ride!

6. Hand wipes/alcohol pad Did I mention I was a little obsessive about bike grease? I also have white bar tape! Can you blame me?

7. Money (with at least a single dollar bill) I always have cash in my bag. This way if I run out of water or just crave a cold drink, I can stop and purchase one. I also make sure I have a one dollar bill because this could be used to repair a tire. If you get a gash in the tire you want something that will cover the hole from the inside to avoid exposing the inner tube. Fold the bill in half (or more), place on the inside of the tire to cover the hole and replace the tube as you normally would. This is only a temporary fix and hopefully sturdy enough to get you home.

8. A band-aid No explanation needed on this one.

9. A mini bike tool kit This little tool allows you to make adjustments to your bike. Imagine if you took a hard spill and were fine but noticed your seat was knocked out of place. This way you could loosen it with the tool and adjust it back to the correct setting.

Am I missing anything important in my saddle bag? What do you carry in your bag?