Wednesday, September 19, 2018

How Being Crafty Made Me a Better Swimmer

Cross posted from my main blog

I'm very open about the fact that I'm a lousy swimmer. I figure it's nothing to be ashamed of. I never learned properly as a kid, I was never on a team.

But for reasons that still elude me, I really wanted to do triathlon. So I cobbled together knowledge from swimmer friends, fellow tri bloggers, my triathlete PT, and the little bit of coaching I've been able to afford along the way.

Moving up to 70.3 this season was a huge motivator, in an abject fear of the swim cutoff kind of way.

I knew my regular routine of slogging through junk yards at the gym wasn't going to cut it. Especially after months of recovery from plastic surgeries, followed by my compressed spinal cord situation, kept me out of the water for over a year... and let's be real, I hadn't been in it all that much since my comically bad performance in the 2015 Chicago Tri that I won't even pretend was due to the 58 degree lake.

I had always assumed I'd go to the Master Swim class at my gym once I was ready to take the next step. But it's currently not happening due to lack of instructor, so I was on my own.

Started researching training plans. Understood I had to add things like drills and speedwork.

Quickly discovered that I can't keep track of it all in my head.

Then I remembered seeing swim sets being laid out for the Master Swim on the white board at the lap pool. Thought about using that, but since I'm not an experienced swimmer, I couldn't entirely figure out the cryptic notes.

I needed something simple. So, I made myself a card that incorporated options for all the various types of swim training plans and drills I've seen floating around tri geek world.

Then, I...
  • Laminated it to make it waterproof and dry erasable
  • Punched a hole in it
  • Used a binder ring to hang it from my swim bag

Before I head to the gym, all I have to do is fill out the card with the swim sets in the training plan.

The only catch is if I shove it in my bag, the dry erase can rub off. But I'm too lazy to bring the hard copy of the workout and a dry erase marker to the gym, so I just try to be careful not to rub too much off.

It sits poolside, right next to my pull buoy and other related torture devices.

Sometimes I secretly use checking it as an excuse to take a few extra seconds of break between hard sets. It makes me look like some fancy athlete doing something all official when the truth is I'm just a terrible swimmer with no stamina in the water.

But it really has helped a ton. I waste a lot less time pausing between sets trying to remember what the hell I was supposed to do next, or counting on my fingers trying to sort out how many more laps are left of a given set.

It helped take my tri swim from abysmal to below average. That's a big win for me.

The guy crawling behind me was all of us
after that unbelievably hard swim.
Rescue pulled 210 athletes from the lake that day.
The swim coach I worked with this spring very much approved of it as a training tool. Between her fixing my stroke and general approval of the direction I was taking my training plan with help from this planning tool, I was able to take my swim from never gonna make 1.2 miles inside 1:10 to reliably doing it in roughly 48 mins in practice.

Of course, we all know you never know what race day will bring. In the case of Steelhead 70.3 2018, it brought huge waves and, because Lake Michigan is a fickle bitch, an are you freaking kidding me wetsuit optional water temp of 76.4. Hundreds of us opted in, because we like not drowning.

This picture is of me frantically checking my watch as I cross the timing mat to find out if I was disqualified after surviving the uphill swim through the washing machine stuck on the murder cycle.

I squeaked in with 2:34 to spare.

I couldn't have made it without the focused effort I made in the pool with an appropriate training plan, made easier with this swim training aid.

If you're like me, you're heading into winter thinking about lazy easy ways to hone skills so you come out of the off season ready to train. This card is the perfect tool to help with that.

You can make your own handy dandy swim training card with this free PDF download.

Laminator not included. Sorry, Google hasn't sorted out how to digitize that yet. But they assure me they'll get to work on it as soon as they nail down the self driving cars.

 At some point I'll write the race report for Steelhead. It was an epic personal victory. I cried a lot.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Taking My Ego for a Ride

Cross posted to ShesAlwaysWrite

I got my racing bike off the trainer, dusted it off and cautiously pumped tires that have been flat since last spring, when my OB laughingly informed my non-stop puking self that I was pregnant.

Here's what I learned:

A) Headwinds still suck.
B) Holy shitballs Batman, I am out of shape.
3) See A and B.

This was the conversation between my legs and cadence computer about 3 minutes into the ride...

CC: You suck.
Legs: But... but... complicated pregnancy! Puked every day for 9 months! Pre-eclampsia and bedrest!  Emergency c-section!!
CC: You TOTALLY suck. Now HTFU and give me 85.

Also? Postpartum bellies and aero bars are mutually exclusive concepts.  And what was I thinking signing up for a triathlon that is somehow only 9 weeks away?!

There was some good news...

1) I can still clip in without wiping out.
2) I still remember... mostly... which gear levels do what.
3) I can, technically, still pull 21 mph into a headwind while hauling 100 extra pounds on this poor, tired ass.

It's not gonna be pretty, but I'm fairly confident I can finish the Danskin sprint in August. Even if I have to hold hands with Sally Edwards to do it.

Bottom line? Time to spend less time pounding big girl martinis and more time hammering in the big girl ring.

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Future Relay Team

This pretty much sums up where I've been for the past year.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011



= New Favorite Workout

Hardest part is restraining my geektastic show choir drama club marching band self from running hard and singing at the top of my lungs.  Cause that would totally kill the Zone 2ness of it all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Harder to Wait for than Christmas

Waiting to give Bear his bike at Christmas was a zillion times easier than waiting for it to be nice enough to let him take it outside!

After that epic blizzard, we've still got some waiting to do before all this snow melts and we can trade our ski caps for bike helmets.