Sunday, July 24, 2016

July Racing

Know the course, know the transition area.

Sunfish Triathlon – Meridian, Mississippi. 

I haven’t raced Sunfish since we lived in Hattiesburg, and since we are now only 90 minutes away I was excited that I would be able to come back to this event. I’ve been on the track once a week for a month or so and was looking forward to seeing if there was any improvement in my run. The short answer is: “Not On This Day”.

The swim for Sunfish is supposed to be “Line up as you sign up”, at least that is how it’s been in the past. I know for certain that this isn’t true, because I talked with my friend Barbara just before the race and she was way up in the front and told me she had signed up that week. I was back quite a way, and had to swim around a lot of people. Fortunately, I didn’t have too much of an issue with this. I did, however have an issue getting out of the water… there was a pretty good step up from the water to the grass (pretty good if you’re a short girl, like me). They had put a piece of black rubber, plastic… not exactly sure what it was, and when I tried to climb out of the water I slipped on it and face planted. Nice. While I didn’t feel any issues from the fall during the race, later in the week I wondered why in the world my right shoulder was hurting so much, then realized it was from the fall. I instinctively put out my arm and the shoulder (which I have some problems) got stretched pretty good, when I reached out to catch my fall.

I don’t remember this bike course being so hard! And my bike was creaking and squeaking the entire ride. I sounded like a family of mice had invaded my bottom bracket. The road was really rough too, and it was super humid. (What a crybaby!) My hands felt like they were slipping off the bull horns on corners. Came in from the bike and turned down the wrong isle. What is wrong with me today? I looked at the row from the swim exit, but didn’t pay attention to where the row was from Bike In. Another fumble.

Off onto the run and I immediately knew that this wasn’t going to be my day. I pretty much felt like crap. I came up on a fellow Cobb Mobber on the dam, and he wasn’t looking too good. He said he felt bad, too. When I saw him stop for the second time, I told him I thought he should turn back. I think it was the heat. I pretty much resigned myself to plodding along, and although I hate to admit it, pretty much gave up on the run. Even walked a couple times. Ended up finishing 9th overall female, and won Grandmasters. It sounds silly to be disappointed in a finish like this, but when you know that you can do so much better than it is somewhat of a letdown.

Cobb Mobb!
Clay Emge (1st Overall at IM Boulder), Les Carr, Sean Kwiatek, and Me

Now for the good things about the race! First - I had 3 Cobb Mobb teammates there! We all racked our bikes together, and it was great to have people I knew to hang around with after the race!! Second – the shirts for the race were really nice, North Face dri fit! And we got a visor, and a Tervis tumbler. Nice job Sunfish!! Third – the post-race food and drink were fantastic! I didn’t eat anything but there they did a really good job! And Fourth – the awards were awesome!!
Would I go back? Absolutely! Nice job Sunfish!!

My friend Casey Lee, 4th Overall Female!

Barbara Kerby from the Coast, 2nd Overall Female!
If I can't be fast, at least I have very fast friends!!

Capital of Dreams – Montgomery, Alabama.

This was another Team Magic event. They do a pretty good job.

The swim for this race was something different and fun! We boarded the Harriot II riverboat and it took us upstream for the swim start. We got to swim downstream with a current, however on race day there wasn’t much of one. The swim for the sprint was only 400, and there was an Olympic distance race being held that day too. I wish the race was like the YMCA Tri in Wilmington, where you have a 1500 meter swim, and then a sprint distance bike, and run. We jumped off the boat in order like lemmings, it was pretty funny. It was a really long run up from the swim finish to the transition area and along the way I dropped my swim cap. Now Team Magic gives you a set of stickers for your helmet, bike, bag, and swim cap… and like the dutiful rule follower that I am put them on my cap. Well….. I got a 2:00 penalty for “Abandonment of Equipment”. REALLY? I do have to say this is a crappy (I wanted to use a different word for what I thought about this) penalty. I’ve been at this for a long, long time and have NEVER seen this. So, a word of advice to anyone doing one of these races. Leave the cap numbers off. I saw lots of people on the boat with no numbers on their caps. Apparently it’s not an issue to not have it on there in the first place.

The transition area for Cap Dreams is under cover in the old Train Station. It is a long transition, and the surface is painful and rocky, like chip seal. They had some indoor outdoor carpet but it only went about half way to the mount line. Being under cover was awesome! Shade!!

Transition was under here!

The bike course for this race is FAST! So fun to have a flat race! I was holding 22-23 mph, I felt like I was flying! AND THEN….. not knowing the course, I followed two athletes ahead of me and took a wrong turn just before the end of the race. We went up a steep hill, before we figured out we were going the wrong direction. I looked up the time added to my bike split for the off course section and it added 2:12 to my time. Grrrrr. Without this mishap I would have had the 16th fastest bike with men and women included! Yah!

The run is pretty much uphill for half the race and then downhill for the rest. Much better than the alternate! We climbed up to the Capital building, looped around it and back down, finishing through a tunnel and over to a really nice lawn.

Results showed that I was the 5th overall female, and won Grandmasters. But then when they were calling out awards they said I was 2nd Grandmasters female – this is when I discovered the penalty. If I hadn’t gone off course on the bike I would have been 4th. Rats! My friend Jen beat me again. Man, that girl is fast! Someone thought she was my daughter.

Do we look alike?
So on this day I’m going to go with “Performance over Placing”. I know I had a good race, swam well, rode really well, and ran pretty well. When I told someone about all the mishaps of the day, they commented "Well, it's all for fun anyway." (i.e. it doesn't matter). Yes that is true, to an extent. But when I go out to race I'm going out to test myself, not just on how fast I can go, but getting everything right. That means smooth transitions, following the rules, knowing the course, in general being the best triathlon ambassador that I can be. So these mistakes of going the wrong way on the course or in transition are not "okay" with me. Maybe I do take this sport a little too seriously. But my husband is being awesome and letting me do this without having to work, so come race day, even though I am just an age grouper, it is my job and I want to do it right. I'm 55 years old and racing against girls that could be my children (or almost grandchildren for that matter), I want to see how I can stack up against them.

Good finish line food and drink, Mugshots burgers – I didn’t have any food though I did have a beer. (there is a Smashburger on the way home and I was dying for a SmashChicken sandwich). Tervis Tumbler and a pick off the table for awards (I grabbed another pair of those Stuffit things that go in your shoes.) The shirt was ok, drifit but nothing super impressive for the logo. Looks a lot like the one from Buster Britton Tri. Would I do this race again? Yes, and I think I would do the Olympic distance next year, so I could enjoy the longer swim and bike course.

While we were picking up our race packets I saw this in downtown Montgomery. Very cool bike friendly city!! A bike stand, tools, and a bike pump for public use! Awesome!

Next up is RIVER CITIES! Going back to Shreveport for one of my favorite races! Get to see friends!

Friday, June 24, 2016

On Being 55

The other day I noticed how much longer it takes me to recover from everything. I know it's a factor of getting older. While I'm training I don't feel any older than I did 20 years ago, but if I train hard I can feel the fatigue for days.

I'm pretty sure that I will never beat any of my times, or paces again. I may come close, or even equal them, but the PR days are pretty much gone. 

People will tell you that you're only as old as you feel. I don't feel 55, but some days I know I am.

At my last race, my friend Jen asked me how long I thought I would continue racing. Good question. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Two Races and Some Good News!

Two more races done! Both were Team Magic events - Mountain Lakes Triathlon and Buster Britton Triathlon. Team Magic is a race production company based in Alabama, I've done one of their races a few times, the Brett Robinson on the coast. I have to say, they do a very nice job when it comes to races, and race organization. There is always excellent instruction given before the race starts, the bike racks are identified with fun different things to help you find your transition (wish I had a picture to show you). The race course, and transition maps online are very helpful, they offer tri-tats or body marking (and even have a bucket of water and paper towels available on race morning if you're picking up your packet on race day), a well marked course with mile markers, and the post race area is really great! There is a giant tent so you can escape the heat, rolling computer results, posted age group results, and the little thing that you can print out your own individual result. Good post race food, and drinks, and very nice awards. Things ran very smoothly at both of the events of theirs that I've done so far.

Mountain Lakes Triathlon - Guntersville, AL. What a contrast to the other race I did at this lake a couple weeks before. This one was pretty flat and fast. I had a good swim, averaged 22.6 on the bike (by my Garmin), and 8:00 miles on the run - last mile was a 7:30. First place in the female Masters category (Team Magic does not offer Grand Masters 50+). Team Magic also seems to do very cool and useful awards - we got a big beach towel and a $50 gift certificate to Cahaba Cycles in Birmingham! I would definitely put this race on the calendar again for next year!

Oldest one on the poduim.
 "The Cobb Mobb strikes fear in the youngsters!" - John Cobb

One of the fun things about this race happened in transition when I was setting up my bike. I met a former Team Aquaphor teammate, Keith Marshall! He recognized me and told me who he was! How fun is that! We had to pose for the obligatory photo, including the sample tube of Aquaphor! What a great team that was!

Keith Marshall, Team Aquaphor!

Buster Britton Memorial Triathlon - Pelham, AL. Ow, ow, ow! This was one tough triathlon! Thank goodness it was short - the swim was kind of warm and long - good for me, the bike course was so hard! I was only able to average 19.3 on the bike, and that got me the 5th fastest female bike split! It was super hilly (by my comparison of races anyway). The run course was advertised as, "The run course is a one-loop course with a mix of paved roads and smooth trails." When I read that I was thinking eh, probably 50/50... uh nope, more like 95% trail. I always find it funny when you're racing on trails and you're going as hard as you can, look down at your watch and see 10:00 pace. I ended up 9th overall female and won my age group. I don't know that I would do this race again, it is definitely one that would be easier if you knew the course beforehand, but yowza it hurt... bad!

This race was my first in Alabama where I got to race with a friend! I met Jen Chapman through a swimmer that I met at the pool. She moved to Tuscaloosa about a year and a half ago, but hadn't been racing any triathlons, because she hadn't met anyone to train with (sound familiar?). Well we've become good friends, and training partners, and push each other in practice. This was her first race back in awhile, and she killed it! She came in 19 seconds ahead of me and won her age group! I'm glad to have finally met another triathlete in Tuscaloosa!

Jen has also convinced me to join her weekly track workouts - I've been the last 3 weeks now - I haven't done any track work since Hattiesburg, and I'm looking forward to my next race at Sunfish in Meridian, MS to see what improvements I'm making! Running, is just like swimming or cycling - if you want to get faster you've got to do interval work. Here is the group's motto: "Pain is necessary - because you don't go fast when you go slow!"

Buster Britton awards was a Tervis Tumbler with the race logo (love these cups, they're all I drink out of in the summer!) and a goody bag filled with all kinds of other useful things! Water bottle, bike tube, CO2 cartridge, tire patches, bar tape, and more! Yah! Or there are some sunglasses too, but they're so BIG that I can't wear them. Anyone have a large face/head want some sunglasses?

*One other good thing has happened in the last few weeks. I got this email from the USATSMW Region:

Some of my former Aquaphor teammates nominated me for this (without my knowledge - thank you Steve, Andé, and Barry!) and I got the surprise email telling me that I'm going to be in the USAT SouthMidWest Hall of Fame! Talk about a humbling experience, to be nominated by your peers for something like this is overwhelming. I love this sport so much, and am so proud to be recognized. I had to choose one of the Regional Championship events to attend, and they are arranging a member of the HOF Council to be there to present me with the award. I'm going to race the Sugarman Triathlon on October 2nd in Youngsville, LA, this year it's the Louisiana State Championship, I've actually always wanted to do this race in south Louisiana, hope to see you there!!!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Lake Guntersville Tri

When I write a race report I try to include some pointer that may help someone out there at their next race. Most of the time I hide them in the body copy. Maybe there will be one stuck in this post somewhere. Right now I can't think of anything to share.

This is my race report for the Lake Guntersville Tri that I did last Saturday. There were some really good things about this race, and unfortunately some unorganized things as well.

I think that the longer I race, and the pickier I become. There are some amazing races out there, races that run like clockwork. River Cities, Crawfishman, Indian Creek, Disco, the Ironhead Race Productions, and the SetUp Events to name a few. What makes a great race compared to a good or average race? Venue? Absolutely plays a part, a big part at that. Having a beautiful site and race course is really important, it is part of what will convince me to return to a race year after year. But more so than that is the race organization. Nothing will keep me away from a beautiful venue for a second year quicker than poor race organization. The poor race director at Guntersville said that a group of his volunteers didn't show up on race morning. 20 volunteers no showed - nice.

We have moved a lot over the past few years, and every season it's kind of like starting a new school where no one knows you. Now there is good and bad with this, yeah... no one knows who you are so there isn't any performance pressure, but then you also have to go to races where you don't know anyone. Wander around alone. Bill had to work so he couldn't make the trip with me for my first race of the season, it was the day before Mother's Day and the store had a big day.

I drove up late afternoon before to Guntersville, went straight to my hotel - a Microtel - the smallest hotel rooms... I was going to say in the world, but I guess that there are smaller ones, like in Japan where you can reserve a drawer. It's a good thing Bill didn't go with me because there wouldn't have been room for him and my bags.

Couldn't get my race packet because for some weird reason packet pick up for this race on Friday was only from 11-1. Really?? Who does that? Why even bother?

Got up early and drove out to the address listed on the website for the race. It took me to a lodge way up above the lake. I had no idea how to get down to the water. Luckily as I was turning around in the parking lot I saw a truck with bikes on the back and followed it. Followed it for 2 seconds, then the road was turning back and forth and I just drove along hoping I was going the right way, the truck no longer to be seen.

AND then the low tire light came on... so now my blood pressure was going up. I could just see myself on this twisting turning road with a flat. Luckily I made it to the beach area and parked, decided I would worry about the tire after the race. Whew!
2016 Cobb Mobb !!

Did all the typical race prep. No numbers for helmets or bike frames, just a running bib - so that was easy. Bikes racks were first come, first serve, so I got my bike set up by the "Bike Out". And of course with 30 minutes before the start of the race here comes some dude...squeezes his bike in on the same rack, even though there are tons of other open places. Ugh.. so irritating. (this happens to be irritation #1 of the day). Ran, swam, checked my transition again and then proceeded to wait for the race start.

There were a lot of events going on at the same time at this race. An Olympic distance tri, a Sprint tri, an Aquabike, an Aquathhon, and a Duathon. Makes me wonder why the t-shirts and the awards all said "Olympic Triathlon"...... maybe they planned all the other events after the artwork had been done??? I really like the shirts and awards, but I didn't do an Olympic Triathlon.

The swim for the Olympic was two loops of a 750m course. On the second loop they would come back by the start. So they set off the waves of the Olympic race first, and then got the first wave of the Sprint in the water and low and behold.... swimmers coming through on their second loop had to swim through the people treading water waiting for their start. "Look out, swimmers coming through". (irritation #2). My wave was last and so even more people were trying to make their way through. It was INSANE, a cluster.  I had a pretty non eventful swim, a minor wetsuit freak out, stopped and unzipped it about 5 inches or so. I'm not really sure how this could have been made simpler with less congestion - I guess they didn't want to put buoys farther out for the 1.5K?

I checked the participant list before the race and saw that one girl put 1:05 for her predicted finish time. I put down a 1:30. As we were waiting for the swim start, I was pretty sure I saw her lined up by me in the water. Didn't see her again after that - she beat me by over 2 minutes on the swim! Yiy!

Out of the water into transition and out onto the bike course. Pretty tough bike course, and of course there is the guy who has to play leapfrog on the bike when you pass him because he doesn't like being passed by a girl. On the way to the turnaround I caught this guy on every hill, only to have him pass me back. One time he even came around me then stood up and coasted, I guess it took so much out of him that he needed to rest. At the turnaround for the sprint course he kept going - thank you! But speaking of the turn around... it was marked in red spray paint on the road. I almost missed it, as did the two guys behind me who all said the same thing. How about a cone? A sign? A volunteer?
Made the turn and headed back toward transition, another leapfrog guy to deal with on the way back.

Back into transition and onto the run. I think I drank too much on the bike, my stomach was full and it made it uncomfortable to run. Skipped the first aid station. The run was out and back and hilly! All I kept thinking was what Bill told me when I was with him while he was playing golf - "downhill to the water". I saw the women's leader on the run course, there was another woman ahead of me but I kept thinking she was a relay, she was running pretty easy and waved both hands at me as we crossed paths and shouted some encouragement. I was thinking I was 2nd, but you can never be sure.

The run finished into the transition area. Really?? Wow, I can't remember when the last time I did a race that allowed participants into the transition area until the last cyclist was out on the run. I felt bad for the people I saw going out on the run after I finished. So many of them had no idea where "run out" was. I helped send people in the right direction. At the post race someone even said to me, "weren't you working in the transition area after you raced?" There was no announcer at the finish, no one to take your timing strap off (there was a bucket over to the side), no water. I guess this is where the missed volunteers were supposed to be. Mike Gerrity (my friend Denise's dad) was in charge of transition, he was the ONLY one there. He was body marking in the morning (no body markers showed up), directing at the mount/dismount line, directing racers... doing everything! His wife who also raced was working packet pick up before the race started (no volunteers). If Mike hadn't been there I don't know what the RD would have done.

Okay so here is my race pointer of the post - PLEASE acquaint yourself with the in's and out's of the transition area! Walk through it before the race starts. "SWIM IN", "BIKE OUT", "BIKE IN", "RUN OUT", "FINISH". And make a mental note of where the Mount/Dismount line is! I saw way too many people looking really frustrated as they ran out the wrong direction.

So all that rant was the not so good part of the race.. now for some good stuff!

The Post Race was AWESOME! Perfect weather helped, but there was cold beer, and good beer! Corona, Blue Moon, Dos Equis... food, sodas, and live music! It made waiting for the awards a little better. But the timing got all messed up somehow and awards took FOREVER. I don't want to go on about it anymore. I finally found out that I was 2nd overall female. They were calling out names so fast because they knew people were frustrated from waiting. The race started at 8:00 am. I finally got in the car to come home at about 2:30. That was a long day. Still some work to do.

Swim 1:30/100 yds
T1  :43
Bike 20.4 avg.
T2  :34
Run 8:00 avg
2nd Overall Female / 8th Overall M&W

The guy in blue did this cool art piece during the race!
Cute little dog named Peanut that I met.
Took this because it had Phoenix's name! 
Cheers! See you at the next race!

*Oh.. I didn't have a flat tire, just needed some air. Pulled my trusty little compressor out of the trunk and topped off all 4 tires. Voila, no more check tire light!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Bama Triathlon - Relay Time!

It's early season for triathlon. I have a lot of friends who are already racing this season. My first race is still 3 weeks away. But last weekend I decided to compete in the inaugural Bama a relay!!

A few months ago I talked to a couple of the good people that I've met since moving to Tuscaloosa, asked them if there is ever a triathlon that is close by if they would be interested in doing a relay with me! Charlie Wolbach rides with the Druid City Bike Club - he is a great cyclist. He has pulled me back up to the group on many rides when I've been dropped off the back. I have to work to stay on his wheel when he is riding hard. I thought he would be perfect for the relay.

Ann Besanceney and I worked together at Wagner's RunWalk. Ann is an amazing runner - an All American from Michigan State in Steeplechase. When Ann runs, think gazelle! She is also the first friend that I made in Tuscaloosa, she has a good heart, a kind heart.

This is a super sprint race, actually I would consider it a runner's race. Short 400 yard swim, 11 mile bike, and the run ended up being 3.6 miles. It's a pool swim.... ahem, if you've ever read any of my other posts about pool swim triathlons you'll know that I'm really not a fan. Sunday, we were really lucky that the timer sent us off at way more than the 10 seconds that was advertised. She let the person get to the end of the lane (25 yards) before she sent the next person off. If not the swim would have been a hot mess. 

On the registration they asked us to submit a 100 meter swim time. Initially, the race was going to be held in the 50 meter pool, but a swim meet was scheduled for the same weekend, bad race planning. Typically people submit a very "optimistic" swim time. I used a swim calculator conversion since I swim in a short course yard pool. Entered a 1:27 per 100 meter time. Now, I can swim one 100 meter freestyle way faster than that, but I was basing it on what I believed I would hold for the entire 400. Obviously I was one of the only ones who did this. Long story short, I was about the 15-16th person in line and had the 5th fastest swim split. The guy in front of me, Blake caught and passed the person in front of him, and I caught her about 10 yards from the swim finish. My friend Margaret caught two people who were seeded in front of her. She had the 3rd fastest overall swim! What did I tell you, hot mess!

My recommendation for next year for the race director - have people submit a 400 yard (or meter) time. 

T1 - Usually when there are relays they have them rack together. There are going to be two other people in transition, and having the relays somewhere so that we're not in the other athletes way is a good idea. There was a tiny rack, that would hold 4 bikes, and I asked the RD if that is where he wanted us to rack, but he said just to rack the bike anywhere. 

My recommendation for next year - if the racks are not assigned, still have the relays rack together out of the way of the other athletes, so they don't get in the way.

Before the race started we were given a piece of velcro to stick to our disposable neoprene ankle chip. It wouldn't stick. So I stapled one end of the velcro to the end of the neoprene, you could still get it off but the whole thing came apart when we tried to take it off to put on Charlie's ankle. We ended up just stuffing it in his back jersey pocket. I saw Dani (a friend doing another relay) running to her team carrying her timing strap, I think it had come off completely in the water - they duct taped it from then on. There has to be a better way for the timing chips for the relays.

There is a fast triathlete in Tuscaloosa named Wilson. When I told Wilson that I was doing a relay, he said "I won't catch you on the swim, but I'll just have to catch Charlie on the bike". Of course we couldn't let that happen! And Charlie delivered! Wilson out split him, but never caught him! Oh... and Charlie was on his road bike, not a time trial bike. He had a fantastic ride! 

My recommendation about the bike course - Move the Mount/Dismount line to the road as opposed to the edge of the parking lot so the athletes can see it. We saw one girl endo on her bike as she came in to T2 because she didn't see the line. A MOUNT/ DISMOUNT sign would be a good idea, and more volunteers on the bike course, too. Charlie missed a turn because no one was directing people at a corner.

We handed Ann the timing chip, and she headed out onto the run course. I was excited to see her run, so I'd told her I was going to try and head out onto the course to cheer her on to the finish. I saw her coming down Hackberry, the last long stretch before the turn to the finish. She was flying! I cut across a big parking lot diagonal to see her finish (think Pythagorean Theorem) and had to sprint as hard as I could and barely made it to see her go by! Man that woman can run!

We had a great day! Both Charlie and Ann were amazing! Would I do another relay? With friends like that, you bet! 

Oh... and yes, we beat Wilson. 

Next up for me, Lake Guntersville Tri! See you at the races!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Why I Became A Swim Coach

Why did I become a swimming coach? That's an easy one, Coach Steve Panzram.

Coach Steve with his
Crawfish Aquatics Team.
I grew up swimming in our back yard pool in southern California, trying to imitate my Dad. He swam when he was in high school, back in 1944 or 1945. I remember seeing the 8mm film of us in the pool, my Dad swimming laps, breathing to the side, swimming breaststroke and backstroke. I wish I still had those films.

I joined a swim team way back in 1978 when I was a junior in high school. My school didn't have a year round team, but 11 miles away in Ocean Springs, MS there was a YMCA team - the OSY Sea Serpents. There was a co-worker of my Dad whose kids swam on the team, and we thought it would be something I might like. The team was on their 2 week break after State, so I went to the pool every day until practice started back. The coach told me to try and work up to swimming 20 lengths - a 500. I did that and remember very clearly my first practice, the coach told us to warm up with a 400 IM. That's a 400 individual medley - or 100 of each stroke - fly, backstroke, breastroke, and freestyle. I'd never done one stroke of butterfly in my life but I got in the lane and did my best.

Throughout the two years that I swam with the team the coach never once gave me any technique pointers, or told me what I was doing right, or wrong. I learned by watching the other swimmers in the lane next to me, and tried to copy the faster people. I made it to state my first year, swam on two relays and the 100 backstroke, and 100 breastroke, all by learning on my own.

When I got older and started racing triathlons I joined masters swim practices. In Jackson, it was just a group of us that would get together and swim. In Baton Rouge I joined Crawfish Masters, coached by Scott Rabalais. Still no one ever helped me. Just swimming what they said and trying to keep up.

I moved to Dallas and joined DAM, Dallas Aquatic Masters. This is Jim Montgomery's program. Here I finally had a coach tell me something. Bobby Patten told me, "Ginger, we don't swim looking forward anymore, look a the bottom of the pool and let the water hit you in the middle of the top of your head." And one of the other coaches told me... "When you take your first pull off the wall, use the hand that is on the bottom."

That's it. That was the extent of the coaching I received in 30 years of swimming.

Then in 2010 we moved to Hattiesburg, MS, and I started swimming with the HubFin Masters. I was told that I would like Coach Steve. I think it was either the first or second practise that he told me, "I'm going to completely change your freestyle." During the year or so that Steve coached me he did completely change my stroke, he focuses on technique. I went from 24 strokes per length to 17. Got much faster, and did it using a lot less energy, learned a ton of drills, and why they improve your swimming. I finally got to experience really being coached. Someone that wanted me to get better, get faster. A coach that cared.

Swimming in the Mississippi State Games.

A time came when he needed a new assistant coach, he asked if I would be interested. Of course! An opportunity to work with an amazing Head Coach, and learn from one of the best coaches out there. Unfortunately Steve left shortly after I joined the staff for Nevada, but I will never be able to thank him enough for the opportunity. To this day, I stay in contact with him, mostly to ask questions about swimming, he responds immediately.

Last Day with the HubFins

If you haven't noticed by now I have an incredible passion for swimming. When we moved from Hattiesburg to Shreveport, Steve reached out to Butch Jordan, the Head Coach of COSST - The City of Shreveport Swim Team.

At COSST I got to work with JV1 and JV2,  the 11 and unders. I had the best experience there, the kids soaked up the information I gave them. Every single one of them will never be forgotten. I have memories that will last a lifetime. I got to work with a coaching staff that all have the same goals, we were all on the same page, it was a dream job.

COSST Coaches
I've told others before that being a swim coach is the only part time job that feels like a serious career. As a swim coach, or any coach for that matter, you're not just helping them to athletes to be better in their sport, you have an opportunity to teach them so much more. Teach them about respect, and integrity. Teach them about hard work, and the pay off they get from their efforts. Teach them about teamwork, and about being a team.

I'm not coaching here in Tuscaloosa, it just didn't work out with the local team. I miss it daily. I miss the kids.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hot Water Swimming

The pool at UA has been closed for 10 days for Spring Break. I went to one of the Para pools in town on Monday to get in some yardage. It was a nice pool but super warm. There is a time clock on the wall but the second hand is missing... ugh. There is a regular little clock on the wall with a second hand so I squinted and used it to time the intervals.

I wasn't planning to go back, but then Mary Jo messaged me and asked if I was swimming on Wednesday, so I agreed to swim again at the same pool. This time the water was even hotter! We ended up getting in 2500 yards, mostly by a big set of 50's doing IM change, then a kick set so we could keep our faces out of the water.

It got me thinking about racing in the summer in the South. The temperature of the water we race in is sometimes in the upper 80's. It never occurred to me until that morning about my slower swim times in those races.... hello..... Anyone else ever thought about that? I have always contributed my slower times at some races to poor navigation. But now I have a real excuse! Haha!

I know there is a chart for running that I've seen that tells you how much your times suffer with different air and humidity temperatures. I wonder if there is something like this for open water racing?

At any rate, I didn't go back on Friday to cook myself in that pool. Tomorrow the pool at the Aquatic Center on campus is back open! 

The University of Alabama triathletes are putting on a tri on April 10th. The BAMA TRI. It's a 400 meter pool swim (bleh), 12.4 mile bike, 5K run. I recruited a couple people that I've met here in Tuscaloosa to do a relay with me! Charlie Wolbach, one of the guys who rides with the Druid City Bike Club is going to be the cyclist, he is an fast cyclist and will be using my ITU clip on aerobars. Ann Besanceney, who I used to work with at the running store will be running - Ann was an All-American runner from Michigan State. This should be fun! My first relay - will let you know how it goes!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Trail Running - Tashka

The Tuscaloosa area has some beautiful lakes! There was a flyer up at Wagner's for a trail race to be held at Lake Lurleen, so I decided to do my once a year trail run and sign up!

The Tashka Trail 50K & 25K was on January 16th. The official name was the Nicholas Wilson Memorial - this was the 7th year for the race. Initially the race started as a way to give back to the community, preserving the memory of Nicholas Wilson, a little boy who passed away in 2008. As the years have passed the race has raised over $35,000 for different children's needs. This years beneficiary is the Tuscaloosa Children's Theater, and Kid One Transport.

A couple weeks before, Bill and I drove up to the lake to see where it was located. Definitely a plus for race morning - to know where you are going. It was really foggy the morning of the race, but there was hardly anyone on the road so I got to the race much faster than I though I would. Parked the car facing the lake and sat and watched the sun come up.

The 50K, and 25K started at 7:00 am. It was pretty chilly out, people kept telling me that "last year it was much colder." Have you ever noticed that when we are at a loss for words talking to a stranger that the weather becomes a typical topic of conversation? Honestly I don't really care that it was colder or hotter in previous years. It has nothing to do with the race today. It is what it is.

Race tip: Check the weather, plan to dress accordingly.

I raced the 4 mile - it was an out and back to on the Lakeside Trail. I worried a bit about the return trip and congestion on the trail, but it was a needless worry. Failed to look at the application where it says they cap the 4 miler at 30 people. The race director announced that he had blown off the first mile of the trail of all the leaves, and pine needles, so that all the roots and rocks were exposed. Nice!

Oh, this is interesting, just before the race I saw one of the guys who works at Wagner's. He said one thing to me that really helped for this race. Just a small comment that I shouldn't have any problem at this race. Meaning he knew the women's competition that were there. Funny how one small thing like that can completely change your confidence level, as well as race plan. I was planning on running hard, but being new to the area, I have no idea of who is who. So it made me run even harder, hoping that maybe I could win this thing.

The race started, two men went off in front and I was behind them. For a little while I worried that it was going to be like The Trail Run that I did last year in Shreveport. I had some trouble there getting around a couple men in front of me. But the two at Tashka quickly sped up and I didn't see them again. I heard a woman talking behind me as we first started, and resisted the temptation to look back and see where she was until we made a sweeping turn and I could just look sideways to see who was behind. At that point there was no one that in sight. I raced hard to the turnaround - funny how in trail running, you feel like you are pushing so hard and going so fast, only to look at your Garmin and see 9:30 pace. Haha!

At about 2 miles my left calf started hurting, and then it moved up to my glute, so once I got a about a half mile from the finish, I backed off and ran easy. An interesting observation in the days after the race was just how sore my calves were. In thinking about it (yes, I analyze everything), it does make sense. The majority of time I was up on my toes, either climbing between rocks, and roots, or descending between them. You have to kind of pick your way around them, and most of the time there isn't room for a full foot plant. I can see where regular trail running would be so good for all those little muscles in your lower leg. It would add a lot of lateral strength - the foot is constantly adjusting for the imperfect ground. It was a great workout. I should really do more trail running. Maybe I can get Bill interested so he can go with me!

Back to the race - I didn't pass anyone, and didn't get passed by anyone. Finished 3rd Overall, and was the first woman. When I crossed the finish line the RD handed me my award and that was it. The 4 miler awarded only first male, and first female. So there were no results to tabulate. Got my award, walked back to the car, took a few photos, and a selfie and then drove home. Had to be at work at 11:00. A post race nap would have been nice, but not today.

Next up on my schedule is the Masters Swim Meet in Auburn on February 13th! I've been swimming a lot. This week 6 days. I'm pretty tired, hopefully when I back off the yardage a few days before the meet I'll snap back. But my birthday is just before the meet, and I want to do a Birthday Swim! I finally decided what I'm going to do, just haven't picked the exact day for it. Don't want to do it too close to the meet.

Birthday Swim 5500 yards = 55 x 100

10 x 100 @1:40 warm up
9 x 100  @ 1:40 pull
8 x 100  @ 1:45 25 stroke / 75 free IM order
7 x 100  @ 1:40 25 back / 75 free
6 x 100  @ 1:45 negative split
5 x 100  @ 1:40 25 breast / 75 free
4 x 100  @ 1:45 descend 1-4
3 x 100  @ 1:40 25 fly / 75 free
2 x 100  swim down
1 x 100 kick

And since I'll be swimming for the Crimson Tide Masters in the meet at Auburn, I got this! What do you think?