Was that a fish?

Lake Onteora

After who knows how many times I cancelled my open water swims due to work or fevers, today I finally had my experience swimming in a lake….Seven days before my race. Not too late at all, right? Don’t misunderstand me–I spent every summer of my youth at Lake George, so I’ve had plenty of fooling around and water play. Never, though, have I actually swam in a lake for swimmings sake (remember, up until November I swore I’d never swim). I was meant to do this last week, but the “mysterious disease” I’ve been suffering with for the past month would not allow it.

Today, at eleven o’clock, I met my coach once and for all at Onteora Lake which for people who are unfamiliar with the area, is somewhat close to the Ashokan Resevoir. Actually, if you are unfamiliar with the area, you have no idea what the Ashokan Resevoir is, so never mind. That comment was meant for people who do live in the area. I’m pretty sure there is a fair amount of mountain biking around the lake which I’ll need to check out once this dreaded race is over.

Here’s how my experience went:

I met my coach, who met me bright and early at a picnic table that is located next to the waters edge, carrying in her arms body glide, neoprene caps, a flotation device, and my wetsuit.

“You look tired, are you feeling okay?” Were her first words. I guess it’s obvious to nearly everyone I meet nowadays that I look like crap.

“Meh, not really, but I need to get into the Lake at somepoint before the race.”

My coach herself is doing a pretty popular, tough triathlon next weekend (and mountain bike race on Sunday—I want to be her) so she was going to watch me and not enter the water. After discussing my new baby and life, she went through the motions of putting on a wetsuit. I’ve only ever put a wetsuit on once before in my life and if you’ve never been in one before, it’s very…ehh… different. It took me about eight minutes to actually get into, even with the tri-spray D. used on the inside and body glide. The tri spray helps lubricate the inside of the suit, which makes it easier to take off. The body glide is for your wrists, neck, and ankles to help prevent chaffing.

“You have to inch your way with each leg, then the arms. At the race, you make lots of friends and will need to have someone zip you up. You are going to feel like you cannot breath at first in this, so that is a normal feeling,” D. said as she zipped the back of the suit up for me. There is a sequence that needs to be followed as to how you get into this suit. Holy crap, this is tight, and I cannot breathe at all!

Once the suit was on, I sat on the bench and put on my booties. Now, for race day, you need to remember in what order you put things on–if you put the booties on first and then the wetsuit, in transition, you need to remember to take the suit of first and then the booties. Apparently, Mooseman has people who help strip the wetsuits off you.

However, if you are doing a triathlon and the water is not 56 degrees, then you don’t even need to worry about wetsuits and hypothermia. I really have no idea why I chose to do a triathlon in New Hamphire at the beginning of the summer when the water temperature is in the 50’s. You know what, I really don’t know why I signed up for a half ironman distance triathlon either. I would strongly advise if you are going to try a triathlon, have your first one be (1) in warm weather so you don’t need to worry about a wetsuit and the feelings of claustraphobia associated with being in a suit that makes you have a better appreciation for batman and catwoman and any other superhero in skintight clothes and (2) don’t do a half IM distance one. Please. Listen to me. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever stop making silly mistakes, like signing up for insane races. Parts of me thinks I’ll have a normal thought process after this. And then there is a small part of me that will never learn. I’ll let you know how it goes in 20 years, if I survive Mooseman.

Back to wetsuit application. Once the booties were on,two caps and goggles, I followed D to the water where I continued to listen to her directions and try not to freak out because I felt like I could not breathe.

“Tie this around your ankle. Just incase,” She handed me the flotation noodle thing. Thank goodness she is prepared for if I possibly drown. The water was not too cold, and the fact I was sweating profusely in the skintight thick wetsuit helped me deal with the water temperature. As I tied the noodle to my ankle, I felt something nibble at my fingers.

“Ahh! I think a fish bit me!” I extracted my hand from the water.

“Ohh no! I should have warned you about the fish,” D. said.

My heart rate tripled. Not only was I going to drown, I was fish bait too.  No wonder I waited so long to enter this non-chlorinated water.

At first, I swam to the middle of the lake and back to my coach, mimicking how we would start the race. Then, my coach had me swim out for 5 minutes and then back to her, just enough to get used to swimming outside.

I started swimming when I heard my coach yell to me, “Molly, put your head under the water.”

I’m not sure it was because I’ve been sick and was afraid I would not be able to breathe under the water, the fact I could not expand my lungs enough to breathe in the wetsuit, my fear of what I would see in the murky darkness that loomed underneath me, or a combination of everything that stopped me from putting my head under the surface.

My wetsuit gear and tri suit

“Okayyyyy” I yelled back at her as I continued to keep my head above the water.

After another couple strokes I finally put my head in the water and began to swim normally. Stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe. Stroke, breathe. Stroke, look ahead and breathe. It took awhile to get used to the swimming rhythm, and despite the limited movement I had in my arms from the wetsuit (you are somewhat constricted in how you move your body in something really tight), I got back into my rhythm quicker than I thought. Mind you, I have not swam in a couple weeks due to the mystery illness, so it’s what I remember of my rhythm. It helped that the water was murky and I could not see too far ahead of me. When I almost reached the lake’s edge, I heard my coach yelling for me to come back. That’s when I turned around and realized that the breeze was facing me. I usually like breezes, but not when they cause currents in the water which you need to swim against, especially the first time you’ve ever swam in open water. That’s one nice thing about pool swimming–you don’t need to swim against currents. I was pretty sure seeing little waves coming towards me that I would never make it back, get really tired, and drown. But, eventually, I made it back to my coach.

“How was it?”

“Different,” I panted, out of breath.

“Okay, let’s go through what you’ll do at transition.”

I jogged back to the picnic table as I unzipped the back of the suit. Finally, expanded oxygenated lungs! The tri-glide and whatever other body lubricant I used for the inside of the wetsuit helped it slide off my body with more ease than attempting to get each of my large feet into it. My coach and I then continued to talk about transitioning and triathlons until it was time to leave.

I bundled up my two caps, wetsuit, booties and caps and balled them up on a towel in the back of my car.

“So this is it, Moll, you’re big race is in a week! Try to get a couple more OWSs in if you can, it would be best if you did not swim alone (uhh ohh, me having to wait for someone in order to do something?Not sure if that will be happening) and good luck! You’ll do awesome.” My coach stated as she got in her car.

To be honest, I could not be more anxious/scared/nervous about a race than I do now. My training these past couple weeks, as I’ve mentioned in a prior post, has been slacking do to exhaustion from working 12-15hr nights, lack of sleep, and sickness which I seem to be unable to get rid of. This race is freaking me out. Not necessarily the bike and run portions–I know I am capable of running and riding those distances. It’s the swim which terrifies me. Hopefully I’ll be able to breathe through my nose at somepoint before the race. I will keep you posted mid-week about further triathlon plans.

After a much needed nap, the grill was started up by X (yes, I have a grill and do not know how to use it. I do, however, know how to re-start a stopped heart if that makes you feel any better?) and we had a fabulous picnic feast outside in the humidity and heat.courtesy of Ironman events

So, Mooseman, after debating on whether or not I would actually go ahead and face you, it’s hard for me to give up. So, I’ll be seeing NH in a week!

I had this song in my head on the way to the water. It’s actually good for tempo keeping on a bike too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Swollen Glands and Mountain Bike Rides

I might be one of the worst people when it comes to taking care of themselves when they are sick. I just refuse to acknowledge that there is a possability of me being ill with something, and continue living my life as if I had a perfect immune system.  Then, after days of ignoring it, feeling like I am on my deathbed, I finally acknowledge the fact I am sick. Of course, this happens when I should be celebrating the fact I made it to the age of 25, and two weeks before the biggest race of my life.

beautiful birthday flowers from L.Geuss, best older sister in the world!

It started Monday when I felt unusually tired. I thought it was just a continuation of my lack of sleep, crazy stress at work, and adding stress to my body with training for Mooseman. Tuesday rolled around and that’s when the fever started. Chills. Vomiting. Gastrointestinal issues. Feeling like someone took a baseball bat and used my body as a baseball. The non-stop rain did not help. There was a new appliance on my face, a faucet, that I had forgotten how to turn off, so constant sniffling and nose blowing was occurring. As well as hot flashes and cold, profuse sweating. Every part of my body, including toe nails, ached. I’ve never felt so close to death before. Perfect timing when my race is so soon.

In retrospect, I should have called in from work both days, but I don’t like calling in. And, the quick ride in the rain on Thursday after work was a stupid idea. Friday morning rolled around at work, and the vomiting and fever started again, and as the shift progressed, so did the size of each gland in my neck.

“Hey V,” I asked my colleague at one point in the morning when we had a breather from non-stop insanity.

“Yes,”

“Come here. Feel my neck.” I took her hands and placed them on the sides of my neck.

“Wow, what’s wrong? You have insanely large glands.”

“I’m not feeling to great.”

“You should check that out.”

I finally took the advice of someone and right after work, barely able to move my body or swallow because I was in so much pain. The doctor had a similar reaction when she took one feel of my neck after I flinched away in pain, actually in tears at this point.

“I think I’m sick,” I told her.

“Yes, I think you’re right. With a 101 fever, and the fact I can see your swollen glands in your neck and shoulders. How long have you been feeling this way?”

“Four days, it wasnt getting better so I came here.”

“Drink plenty of fluids, take the antibiotics, take pain killers for the body aches, and rest.”

“Okay, thank you so much.” I hobbled out of the room hunched over like an old hobbit.

I went home and then slept for 12 hours and woke up for the first time in three days being able to swallow without becoming teary eyed, and walk with a normal gait. I also woke up to blue sky, which I had not seen in a week. After going almost 5 days without doing any physical activity whatsoever, canceling get-togethers with friends, and still “resting” so I will be somewhat alive for my race in TWO weeks, I decided to go for a short spin on my new Scott since I didn’t want to push my body too hard (wow, I think that’s one of the first times I’ve allowed my body to somewhat rest).

Riding a mountain bike on a road is much different than riding a road bike on a road. My Contessa Spark has lock-out suspension in the front, which is perfect for riding on the roads, simply because, well, it locks out the front suspension for you. But, you go slower on a mountain bike than road bike. Then again, I was out to get fresh air, and not push myself so that I’d get sick again.

It was the first time I’ve ridden my mountain bike without my mountain bike buddy. I was a bit hesitant doing it all alone–what if I rode into a tree and broke my neck and no one knew? Or broke a bone somewhere else?Or fell into a ravine and could not get out?–but really wanted to ride it. And we’re far from ravines of any sort. So, I rode the 2.5miles down to Ferncliff Forest since I was (somewhat) familiar with the trails in there.

The beginning of the ride was great. From five days of non-stop rain, there were lots of large puddles, mud up to ankles, and the streams were now rivers. But I maneuvered through mud, puddles, over branches and rocks as I swatted mosquitos away. It was fun, and my heart noticed right away that I was doing some sort of physical activity.

Then, I came to the bridge. It’s not a huge bridge. X, who brought me to F.Forest first to show me the trails, thinks it’s about a yard in diameter, and it’s about 12 feet across. I think it’s much skinnier in diameter, like a foot and a half.

Anyway, my sense of balance and coordination have been slightly off with the fever and whatever infection my body was still battling over. “Just ride over it, don’t get off, you rode over it last time.”

So I rode up a couple of rocks to the wooden planks and did two rotations of my pedals when my faulty sense of balance came into play. “Uh ohh,” I said as I tried to put my foot down.

It was too late. Before I knew it, my bike had toppled over the side of the bridge, with me still on it, into the large stream. “Oopsies,” I stated and tried to get up out of the stream/puddle, but all the wet leaves and mud at the bottom seemed to make getting out a tad more difficult and wanted to keep me stuck to the bottom of the water’s floor. Once I climbed back onto the bridge, covered in leaves that decided to apply themselves to my face, legs, and arms, I pulled out my baby from the water.

I looked around. Please tell me no one saw that.  Infact, only tiny insects were laughing to themselves at my sight. There was no way I was going to attempt to dry off–I had nothing to dry off with–so I decided it would be best to just ride back home and cut the ride short, since I did just recover from a raging fever and was now drenched from head to toe. I did take a picture of my bike still in the stream, but alas, phones do not like being submerged in water, and mine broke, which lead me to purchasing a new iPhone (which is….amazing). So, I cannot post a picture of how large this small body of water that I fell into was.

I rode back home, and arrived to my neighbor who stared at me in shock, “Where did you ride? Was there a storm we missed?”

“Uhh, I fell off a bridge into water….”

Thankfully, she did not judge, even with the small pieces of leaves that were stuck to the sides of my face.

drenched, but still smiling

Even though the ride was cut short, it was fun. And, it gave me the opportunity to go upgrade my phone!

The Biker Tan Returns!

I cannot express enough my delight with the weather we’ve been blessed with this past week. Ofcourse, it was short lived, as every day next week there are “chances of showers.” Despite attempting to ward of sickness, I’ve managed to spend as much time outside as possible. And after returning from a brilliant ride yesterday and taking off my jersey I noticed those distinct lines that mark the middle of my biceps. The biker tan has returned! As I am somewhat of a nut, I actually wrote a post all about sun screen protection and biker tans here  so I will not be redundant with the importance of sun screen. However, with this weather, I must admit I’ve been slacking on my sun protection and will need to step it up a notch for the next ride I’m on. (I don’t really need to worry about it for my runs, since I run at night).

Angry little bugger

My ride yesterday was perfect. It was warm enough for sweat production, I was hitting the hills with gusto and felt more fuel under my belt than on my past couple rides which have been torturous. Perhaps because I had riden on roads I’ve never been on. I realized that most of the roads in Milan/ that general area, have “Hill” attached to them. Like “Milan Hill,” which I like riding in the direction away from route 308 instead of towards it, “Turkey Hill,” “Becker Hill”…etc. I think Turkey Hill should actually be called “Snappy Hill” because on all my rides up that hill which tends to make me feel angry, I’ve never once seen a turkey. But, on my ride, I did see a snapping turtle crossing the road. Ofcourse, I had to stop my ride and help him so he would avoid premature death by zooming cars. (Just Imagine: my bike on the side of the road, me in  cleats, spandex, jersey, my new awesome  Evil Eye Addidas Glasses which don’t fog up, and helmet, slowing down cars on that road. The turtle survived, although his only thanks to me was getting angry and trying to attack me with his snapper mouth).Back to hills. There is also “Academy Hill” and lots of roads which should have the word “Hill” attached to them.You cannot go riding around there without hitting a hill. So, if you like the feeling of burning thighs and feeling your lungs on fire, go cycling in that part of dutchess/columbia county, and you will be in heaven.

View of the Mtns from Becker Hill

I do miss my time on the mountain bike, but for the next couple weeks (less than three weeks to be exact), I’ll be living on my first road bike baby until Mooseman, and making sure I apply some sunscreen so when it comes to swim suit time, I will not look like a complete freak with tanned lower legs and forearms and pasty white thighs, hands, biceps, and core. Then again, the only time I’ll ever be seen in attire resembling swimwear I’ll thankfully be wearing a wet suit.

And upon ending this short, somewhat useless post I must admit there’s never a better feeling nor sensation when you reach the top of a long, painful hill and the only thing you can see are fields of emerald green grass, budding trees, and the picturesque Catskills which lay right ahead of you.

Let’s Du it!

I feel it’s been a while since I wrote my last post. Work has been busy, training has been tough, and life in general has just been busy—you know what I mean.

I can tell you,it IS FINALLY spring here! It only took until May for it to arrive. I’m not going to lie, Mother nature must take pleasuring with messing with our heads: one day, it’s in the 70’s, the next, down to the 40s and downpour for most of the day. I think this year she didn’t get what she wanted for christmas and is taking it out on the residents of the Hudson valley.

Getting my crap together

And it’s official: tri/duathlon season has started! And, I do not think that working night shifts go hand-in-hand with trying to compete in early morning races when your body is telling you that that is in fact not the time to be running races, but rather sleeping. Then again, do you think the lack of sleep ever stops me from putting my body through an hour and a half of imense torture? Pshhh. It never stopped me in the past. Other than that one incident where I set my alarm for 7pm instead of 7am and awoke to find I missed the race? No, I don’t. I  must admit, my body h-a-t-e-s me when I compete in races when it does not want to–you’d think it would learn by now that I’m not that easy going on my poor exhausted limbs.

Today I finished my first duathlon of the season, the 8th Annual Trooper Biathlon in Memory of Mike Kelly, Ken Poormon, and John McKenna, put on by the New York Tri Organization. All my races that I did last year (multi sport races) were through the NYSTri organization, and they  do a great job organizing them–Bravo! Plus, I have a special place in my heart for NY state troopers after they helped me with my cycling mishap, as I wrote in this post about troopers.

8th Annual Trooper Biathlon

Walking to the start

The weather was perfect for the race- warm enough that once you were sprinting (either on your feet or on the bike) it was enough to create small beads of sweat flow down your face, dropping of the tip of your nose and silently hitting the handle bars. There were lots of TT bikes, all of which I was envious of, but my Scott did a fabulous job helping my fatiqued body keep speeding down route 28.

The run was a two mile out-and-back deal, and the same was for the run after the biking portion, and I’m not going to lie, all the 14 and 15 mile long slow runs I’ve done for Mooseman prep have did little to help me with simply running 4 miles.

In retrospect, I should have checked out the route the night before, but I was too busy playing on my new toy to scope out the race scene, so everything was fresh for me. As you probably know from reading my posts, I hate hills. Especially when you are on two wheels having to pedal up them, and running on a basically empty tank of gas because you only got two hours of sleep the night before.  (The amazing moutain bike ride the night before probably didn’t help give my thighs a rest either…but the non-rest was worth it). The bike ride had rolling hills and followed the Ashokan Resevoir for a little ways, which was very picturesque, especially on a crystal clear morning that we had. The route then went down 28 and turned onto Hurley Mountain road, which had more rolling hills and which I was able to gain some speed on. And then, we had to turn and go up Doug hill Road, which was basically, 4 miles of straight uphill, which I was not prepared for. I swore my way up the hill, passing some people who had to get off and walk their bike up (I tend to embarass myself enough when having to hop of my mountain bike with X and walk up short hills on our past mountain bike rides).I was determined this time to go “slow and steady” up this 4miles of not-so-nice race course.

Hill: done!

Alas, I made it to the transition, and the last leg of the race–the same two mile sprint which preceded the bike ride. I must admit, all my training in the past have been for Mooseman, which has a long ride and long run, so I have not really been doing too much speed work (don’t tell my coach, because technically there is speed workouts on my weekly training schedule that I kind of….”tweak” since I hate speed work) and my lungs and legs could feel my lame attempts to sprint. However, my detested hill work in Dutchess county was the one thing that helped me going up dug hill!

Finally, I ran down the finish line, legs burning and intestines regretting the coffee I had that morning.But, I made it! First Duathlon of the season done! I must admit, in the middle of the race, I always find myself asking why I am doing this, especially since my body does not want to cooperate with me in early hours of the morning (damn you night shifts!!!!!). But after all is said and when your foot touches the ground below the finishers banner, you feel this immense sense of achievement. I did it! No, it wasn’t in the time that I was hoping for, but I was able to overcome the mental negative thoughts of “you are too tired to do this….you don’t do speed work….” etc etc and actually make a decent time!

All in all, it was a great organized race, and I totally see myself doing the same one in the future. Perhaps by that time, I’ll be working day shifts so I’ll even be just a tad bit rested before the race!!!

Congratulations to all the participants, and thank you to all NYS troopers, for everything you do for us.

It's over!

Theme song to the race ( i know, I know, I’m a dork. I admit it. But it has the great ability to pump you up prior to race time.)

Yayy!

When was the last crazy post written?

May 2011
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