Trying to embrace the off-season

Ironman Wisconsin spectating:

I woke up early on 9/8/13 to go watch the start of the Ironman. I had always wanted to see it, but it just always seemed so gosh darn early in the morning to wake up and get in gear.

The bikes set up the night before.

The bikes set up the night before.

I arrived at the Monona Terrace about ten minutes before the cannon went off to start the pro’s. And yes, it was an actual cannon. My parents live within a mile of the race start, and when I told my mom about the cannon, she said, “Oh, so that’s why it wakes us up every year.”

At the start of the pro race, about 40 wet-suited men and women sprang from where they were treading water and instantaneously formed a perfect snaking line through the water, everyone drafting off of everyone else, no misdirection or lost distance between buoys. The last competitor in line was towing a raft which held his brother, who has Cerebral Palsy.

Then, ten minutes later, the second cannon boomed and the rest of the crowd took off. This was more than 2,500 men and women in bright green and pink swim caps, and the chaos was massive, even watching from shore. People swam in every direction. The buoys were not on anyone’s right or left, but went under the crowd. Ten athletes immediately swam towards the center of the lake and were chased down by kayaks. One man, swimming quite well, I will add, came directly towards the cheering crowd. After about 25 strokes he looked up to sight, realized he was almost back to shore, and had to turn around.

They looked like a school of fish.

They looked like a school of fish.

In what felt like no time, the pros (and one age-grouper from Middleton!) were out of the water, running up the helix to transition, and off on the bikes. The whole atmosphere was so positive and hyped up. The crowd was huge and everyone was cheering like mad. That experience, combined with watching some of the finishes on the live web feed, has me re-thinking my vow to never do an Ironman.

The beginning of 112 miles of Wisconsin hills.

The beginning of 112 miles of Wisconsin hills.

Allergies:

My last tri was on 9/1/13. Three weeks later, I was still congested from the exposure to the lake algae. Seriously congested. So I finally went to the doctor and it turns out that my initial allergic reaction from sticking my face into the algae-laden water, topped up by watching Ironman Wisconsin next to the lake for hours, topped up by riding my bike around Lake Monona, had blossomed into a massive sinus infection. It’s finally starting to abate, but this doubles down on the fact that I need to come up with a strategy to manage my allergies next year. It’s probably as simple as taking an anti-histamine the entire summer or maybe even just for race weeks. Are there any other triathletes out there who are allergic to lakes? How do you manage to swim in training or races without imploding your sinuses?

Swimming:

I’m thrilled to be back at my Master’s Swim class, swimming three times a week and working on all four strokes. For the first time ever, I think I actually am starting to sort of get the butterfly. Breast-stroke, though, is still a conundrum.

Biking:

I received a bike computer for my birthday, so I spent about an hour one day installing it. I’ve been trying to do as much bike maintenance on my own as I can. I want to be more comfortable working with and understanding my bike and hate the feeling of not being able to take care of my own gear. Anyway, the bike computer installation was pretty straight-forward, and now I can see how fast I’m going at any time. I’m pleased to report that I was officially speeding through a 15 mph zone. On my bike, the speed limit signs seem more like a challenge than a guideline.

Note the cat toy on the ground under the bike.

Note the cat toy on the ground under the bike.

Running:

I cut my triathlon laces off of my running shoes, and although it was a sad moment, at least I got to put my neon laces back on to replace them.

Once again, cat toys everywhere.

Once again, cat toys everywhere. And a few copies of my thesis.

Josh and I are going to run the 10K at the Berbee Derby this year. This is one of my favorite races, which bills itself as “Like a Thanksgiving Day Parade, only faster.” Believe it or not, I’ve never run any race longer than a 5K, so this is something to look forward to and work towards.

In the meantime, we ran in a 5K this past weekend (sinus infection and all) which was a fund-raiser to fight ovarian cancer, and both won our age groups. Josh finished second overall and first in his age group with a PR of 20:05. I finished third out of the women and first in my age group with a time of 25:28. I still find it kind of funny that my fastest 5K time came at the end of the hottest triathlon I did this summer. Also, ovarian cancer is a bastard and you should go read about the facts and symptoms here.

Going to the race, I thought I was forgetting, well, everything. All I needed to bring was what I was wearing: no bucket full of gear, no bike, no wetsuit. What a simple thing running is!

Josh with his first place keychain.

Josh with his first place keychain.

Distraction:

I read somewhere (excellent citation, me!) that for a lot of people, triathlon is a distraction from the things they really need to do. That’s certainly true of me, as well, as I’ve spent the summer since graduation neglecting my novel in favor of geeking out and training. With fall, though, it’s time to get more disciplined about both. All last fall/winter, I was training while finishing my thesis (novel draft) at the same time, so I know it can be done. To that end, creativity in action:

use

And, finally, some gratuitous pictures of cats:

photo-82

photo-83

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