Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Timex down!

Ahhh!  I apologize for being completely incommunicado for the past two weeks.  I've had a lot of new responsibilities at work (or at least changes that come along with a new company owner), and I've been swamped.

But I have gotten a couple workouts in despite the busy-ness.  I already talked about running at the hotel during a business trip last week.  I hadn't gotten another workout in since then until last night.

I went to the gym to swim.  As I walked through the door to the pool, I realized that some kind of water arobics class was going on.  That meant that only one lane was open, and someone was already using it.  I was already wet from the pre-swim shower, and I hadn't brought any regular workout clothes with me.  For a moment, I thought I was going to have to dry off and go home with no workout.  Bummer!

But then the arobics class suddenly ended and the pool opened up.  Well, a lane opened up, while the lingering water arobic students stuck around to run up and down the pool in tennis shoes.  Huh.

Then as I stepped into the water, I tried to set the timer on my watch.  I wanted to swim for 20 minutes and see how far I got.  As I was pushing the set buttons, the watch started freaking out!  Seriously.  It started cycling through alien symbols with a flashing indiglo background and making a strange buzzing/grinding noise.  Then it went blank.  Great.

Oh, well.   I just had to use the clock on the wall instead.

So I ended up doing 750 yards in the 20 minutes then continued to complete 900 yards (a little more than the 0.5 mile race distance) in somewhere around 23 minutes.  I don't know how that compares to other tri swimmers, but I'm relatively content knowing that I'll finish the swim portion in under a half hour.

I really hope to get a run and a bike in before the end of the week even as I'm trying to get my house painted before our refi appraisal.  One can hope!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Laps? In that?!

Last week ended up being a great start as I began to ease into triathlon training.  As my last couple posts detailed, I had a very encouraging swim on Monday.  Then on Tuesday I ran out on the snowy bike path.  And Friday, I spent some time clearing a new space for my bike trainer in my basement and pedalling away 12 miles while watching the first half of Matrix Reloaded.

One workout in each of the three tri sports.

Today, I travelled to Mason, OH with my boss for some meetings in our company's office here.  I'll be here for three days and two nights.  As I was packing, I threw some workout clothes in my bag, so I could take advantage of the hotel's "fitness center" during my free time.

I thought about throwing my bathing suit, goggles and cap in the bag, too.  I was really in the mood for a swim, and thought it would be great to duplicate the one-workout-in-each-discipline routine from last week.  I also get so much more motivated to workout if I'm actually in the mood for one particular exercise or another.  But I thought, no, this is a lower-end hotel.  They won't have a pool.  So I didn't pack my swim gear.

During the 5 hour drive down to Mason, I asked my boss about the hotel's fitness facilities and discovered that they do in fact have a pool.  Darn!  I could have done that swim after all!  I thought about stopping at a WalMart to buy a swimsuit just to do the workout, but I decided that I'd really want goggles and a cap, too, and I just couldn't bring myself to buy a second set of all that stuff.  I was kind of bummed not to be able to swim, but a run on the treadmill or a ride on the exercise bike would suffice.

Well...I did get a chance to workout before dinner this evening.  As I was walking down to the fitness room, I first passed by the entrance to the pool and instantly stopped in my tracks when I saw it.  Then I died laughing.

The pool is triangular in shape and about 15 feet long at it's widest point.  Ha! Ha! Ha!  Can you image me trying to do half a mile's worth of laps in that thing?!  My disappointment in not having a bathing suit was completely replaced by the hilarity of the situation.  I had to take a picture with my phone and send it to the hubby.


After I stopped laughing, I ran 4 miles on the treadmill.  It was a good, light-hearted workout as I stared at the tiny pool through the window of the fitness room.

I'll just have to wait to swim until I get back home later in the week.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I swam 1000 yards!

Last night, I planned to get my butt over to the gym to do a swim.  But as I sat on my couch reading Ghost Trails by Jill Homer (blogger at, I didn't want to go out in the cold.  Just reading Jill's description of surviving the sub-zero temperatures while biking the Iditarod trail made me get up and search for a second blanket to wrap myself in.  When she stepped in an icy river and accidentally got water in her boot, I felt that I just couldn't get my own feet warm enough.  Would I get frostbite in my own living room?  Of course not.  But Jill is a wonderfully descriptive writer.  I feel like I'm experiencing the ups and downs of her snow biking adventure right along with her.  If you have never read Jill's blog, go check it out.  She also takes amazing photographs.

Anyway...I eventually decided that my sympathetic coldness would go away if I got off the couch and moved, so I eventually did get myself out the door and in the gym.

On my way past the front desk, I asked what the length of the pool was.  The girls working there didn't know off the top of their heads, so I figured I'd just count laps and let them fill me in on my way out.  This was the first time I've ever swam with a goal in mind, and I wanted to be able to quantify my accomplishment. 

My plan was to swim 15 minutes without stopping.  I swam whatever stroke I felt like I could do for that pool length each time I turned around, and I made it successfully through the 15 minutes.  The gym was only open for another half hour after that, so I decided to just do a few more laps and then get showered instead of drying off and hitting a treadmill or something.

First of all, I want to say that swim caps are the greatest swimming invention since goggles.  Oh my gosh, did wearing a cap make all the difference in the world for me!  It eliminated a lot of my water anxiety by keeping my hair from flicking into my mouth when I turned my head for air.  Awesome!

Secondly, I'm really surprised at myself - in a good way.  On my way out past the front desk, I learned that the pool length is 25 yards, and therefore a lap is 50 yards.  I did 13 laps in the first 15 minutes, which comes out to 650 yards.  The Ann Arbor Tri requires a half mile swim, which is 880 yards.  So I did more than two thirds of the race distance in 15 minutes.  Cool!  After the 15 minutes, I did 7 more laps for a total of 20, which comes out to 1000 yards - more than the race distance. 

I know swimming in a cold lake, before sunrise, with hundreds of other people kicking and splashing around me, where stopping to stand up and rest is not an option will be harder than doing laps alone in a heated pool.  But I had no idea that finishing the swim portion of this race would be so within reach for me.  I still want to get stronger at my freestyle stroke and be able to do it longer.  But right now I'm pretty proud of myself.  My weakest sport in the tri isn't as weak as I thought.

I just wish the race wasn't 5 months away, so I could go get it over with now!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Running on snow

Yesterday I was bound and determined to go to the gym for a swim/run workout.  Unfortunately, my gym is under new management and the hours have changed since I last checked them.  So I missed my opportunity to swim.

I decided to attempt a run outside instead.  I haven't tried running on the snow yet this year, but I've done it in the past, so I knew the ease of running depended on how the snow had been treated on a given road or sidewalk.  There are several possibilities:
  • Untouched, virgin accumulation.  This is a rare and beautiful thing in the urban/sub-urban world.  I also try to avoid running in it because it's a recipe for getting snow inside your shoes.  A cold, wet, cringe-inducing experience.
  • If the snow piles up without being shoveled or plowed and people walk through it infrequently, you end up with a set of awkward, ankle twisting tracks frozen into the snow two or three inches deep.  I feel like a football player high stepping through a row of old car tires traversing this type of snow. 
  • If snow melts a little then re-freezes, it turns into a thick layer of ice over the pavement.  Not a good surface for any kind of traction.  On this stuff, I'm reduced to a slow ice skate in my running shoes.
  • If a home owner or business shovels their stretch of sidewalk consistently - and even better, salts it - the snow is likely to melt off completely leaving a clear path.  This is obviously the most ideal surface for running. 
  • If the top layers of snow get plowed off of a road or path and then cars or people travers over the remaining stuff regularly, the snow gets packed down but doesn't get icy on top.  This is a very acceptable running surface.  I don't get the same traction as I would on clear pavement, so I sometimes feel like I'm running slower than usual.  But I also don't feel like I'm going to slip and fall.
I encountered some of each of these surfaces on my 3 mile run yesterday.  Fortunately, I took a chance on the nearby bike path, and it turned out to offer the plowed-and-packed snow variety.  So most of my route was very runnable.  I really forgot that it's not so bad running outside in the winter most days.

While I was running, I noticed several sets of tracks from people that were wearing YakTrax cleats on their shoes. 

I tried a similar product only once, so I haven't had a chance to decide how well they work.  Does anyone have experience with products that you strap to your shoes for increased traction?  What do you think of them?  Do they really give you more grip?  Do you feel them through your shoes with each step?  Are they comfortable?  Does snow get stuck to the wires reducing their effectiveness?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Registered for my first summer 2010 race

Yah!  I'm officially registered for my first race of the coming summer - the Ann Arbor Triathlon on June 6, 2010.  It feels kind of strange knowing that on the same day last year, I rode in my first cycling century and this year I'll hopefully be completing another athletic first - something quite a bit different.  This will be my first triathlon, and I'm getting pretty excited about it. 

I put together a rough training calendar while on vacation last week.  Now I feel like I need to get back into the routine of working out multiple days a week before training for three different sports at once kicks into gear for real.  It's going to be interesting.

I won't lie - I'm not super excited about all the training.  Especially the swimming.  But I want to accomplish this goal, and I know I can do it.

Hello 2010!