Monday, May 14, 2007

Introducing. . .

Lance . . .
Lance is not my name pick. Lance is, er was, Lala's bike. She is a Lance fan.

Lala called this morning and told me to come pick him up. Pop bought Lala Lance a few years ago. Lala has osteoarthritis in her neck. Apparently this makes Lance painful for her to ride. While we were at the beach she told me I could have Lance. I didn't take her too seriously as I didn't think Pop would at all go for that. Pop is pretty possessive about his things and while he bought Lance for Lala it still falls under the category of Pop's things.

See, Pop is a man who firmly believes in the adage of whoever has the most toys when he dies wins. He has a tool museum (cement mixer anyone? double edge miter saw? framing nail gun? pressure washer?), a couple of cars ( okay just 3 now but when I was selling my Jeep he considered buying it from me because he hated to see it go but I said no. Just seemed wrong to sell a man a car he bought in the first place. As it ended up I sold it to my cousin and the fact that it remained in the family was good enough for Pop).

Pop likes to own things and lots of things he does have: boats, computers, camping and fishing gear etc etc. In our family there is a saying and it goes like this:

Why buy what you can borrow from Beau?

But lest you get any ideas about stealing from Pop I should warn you that not only is he a black belt in karate but he also takes very seriously his right to bear arms. I've only seen them a few times and only one time all at once when he had them laid on the kitchen table admiring? cleaning? I don't know, but I do know that he has a safe taller and three times wider and deeper than me full of guns of all calibers and gauges.

When I began thinking about doing a triathlon I really wasn't too worried about the fact that I do not own a bike because I knew that Pop has at least 4 maybe as many as 6 Trek bikes--definitely 2 mountain bikes and 3 or so road bikes. (If nothing else Pop is brand loyal.) Pop does ride regularly and has for as long as I can remember; but does not ride as frequently as the number of bikes he has suggests. And I figured surely he can spare one of his bikes for his oldest and favorite child (Sorry Pookie, Justin.)

I definitely did not have my eye on Lance since I thought no way would Pop be ready for Lance to go. And I can't say for certain that Pop actually knows that Lala said I could have Lance nor that she called me and told me to come and take him. See, while Pop is a toy hoarder-- Lala, on the other hand, is happy to let any of it go and actually tries to get rid of as much stuff as she can get away with. If you want something Pop has it is always best to ask Lala for it.

So the short of this long is that now I have a bike; well, yeah, sort of. It is a Trek and has the number 1200 on it. What this means? I have no idea and Lala didn't either as she was not at all helpful on instructions on how the gears work or anything else other than that there were extra brakes and it is silver, like a rocket. This means that I am going to have to ask Pop about Lance's specs and that is going to be a pretty painful experience where I get way more information that I ever will need. I will probably walk away from that conversation knowing how to build a Trek bike. This is what happens when half your relatives are engineers.

But in truth I could probably use the advice. So far my future with Lance is not too promising. First, after I went and fetched Lance, I came back in the front of my parent's house to find my children leaping over the sprinkler, fully clothed. Oh well. Lala bought me a box of Allen wrenches and I worked on lowering the seat (I'm shorter than Lala). I thought I had it about right and climbed on: only to immediately topple sideways over into the mud.

Told you I was an idiot on the bike. Ryan thinks I am sandbagging about my specialness on the bike because I occasionally do a spin class and one time I rode from Roswell to Atlanta on a mountain bike. But in spin class the bike is bolted to the floor and it is just a miracle I didn't get killed on that ride downtown.

After some further adjustments to the seat and my pride, I finally managed to get on the bike and took Lance for a test ride on the street--just 2 miles--2 miles during which I could not figure out the gears at all but otherwise it felt fine enough. With "fine" being based on nothing. I have no idea what I am talking about.Whatsoever.

When Lance and I returned from our spin I found my kids completely naked and leaping over the sprinkler. I thanked Lala for her generous gift and crammed Lance into the back of the Explorer and strapped wet naked kids in car seats and drove home thinking that I most certainly would get pulled over for something random and dumb--because usually that is how things work for me. But I didn't and I am grateful that I didn't have to explain to a police officer why I had naked kids in my car. Small favors.

I know I didn't post much last week. I have been running. Boring. Same old same old: Running. Little cross training, some walks, little weight lifting--nothing new. I think I did 45 or so miles last week. I am trying to organize some sort of training program for the summer. I think I am going to have to cut the mileage if I want to incorporate the biking and swimming. And it is hard for me to give up the running. It is my security blanket. I feel like nothing is as hard as running or keeps me in as good of shape. I know that this probably isn't true so I am trying to wrap my mind around that and trade a few running workouts for a swim and a bike workout. So far that hasn't happened. I just run before the other workout.

I ran 10 miles yesterday--easy. This afternoon I ran 4 miles on the treadmill in under 30 minutes and then hopped in the pool for a workout. And I learned some things.

First the pool at the gym isn't a 25yd pool like I thought but is a 25 meter pool this is per the gentlemen in the lane next to mine that I pestered. So that mile I swam 2 weeks ago in 30 minutes? It was actually more than a mile. Pats self on back. Second, I am pretty certain that I was a faster swimmer when I was 10 than I am now at 35. I can't remember my times for the 100 but I think it was faster than what I did today. I definitely remember it being much more effortless.

My original plan today after my run was to just do a 400yd swim and see how long that took--just to get an idea of where I was starting and what I needed to work towards. After a warm-up I changed my mind and decided to test out my speed at 100 meters--especially since the pool is meters not yards and I don't know how many laps I needed to do. I asked nice guy next to me but he didn't know. This whole meter/yard/mile/lap thing is confusing. I am having to do more figuring and math than I generally like to do.

I warmed up with an easy 100m.

Then I did 100m x 4 with about a minute rest between each 100m. Please note that I was not scientific with the rest whatsoever. Mostly, I spent the rest time asking the nice man in the lane next to me a bunch of questions and had him doing my math for me. Not sure what sort of workout he was doing but he was standing there every time I finished a 100.

I borrowed Beau's stop watch (my Beau, not Pop. I should also tell you that I am wearing his goggles too--again the 3 year old's not the 56 year old's. They are Nike though. And they totally suck.)

Here are my results--again not scientific since I had the watch sitting on the pool edge and to manually paw wet handed over the pool's edge to stop it:
The first 100m came in at 1:30
The second 100m came in at 1:25
The third was 1:28
The last was 1:29

Really this workout was harder than I thought it would be and brought back memories of the time clock and pyramid intervals and the chaos of diving swimmers and the muted echoes of coaches screaming go!go!go! I wished today I had had someone to yell at me when to go. It is hard to push yourself in the quiet and calmness of the gym pool. Especially with polite man in the next lane who patiently answers all of your annoying questions.

I cooled down for 200m and called it a workout.

So now I have a starting point and I think a reasonable goal is to get 100m below 1:25 and shoot for 6-7 minutes for the 400m. I don't know how lap swimming translates to the open water. I am assuming you are slower in the open water but then again you don't lose time for flip turns and you've got that race day magic going on. There is race day magic in triathlons too, right?

Okay, so I guess I am tri-ing. On to the bike. So nervous. . .


  1. Wow. 1:30/100m ain't too shabby. In fact, I spent years getting to that point. And then I spent years not getting beyond that point. There is race day magic in triathlons. With your speed the challenge will be to fight your way out of the pack early. In a shorter swim if you're in the pack you don't have enough time to weave your way out and will be stuck with their time.

    Make sure you take your bike somewhere to get it fit properly. With your marathon history you've clearly got an engine and you don't want a bad fit to rob you of power. You've already got a hill to climb converting your aerobic capability to a slightly new set of muscles. Fit cost is different at each shop. $100-$250 is normal. Check up front. Some may do a mini-fit for less... hate to recommend it but playing the blonde girl in distress card can work (yeah, i know... distasteful). Show up at the shop with bike shorts so that they can see your posture. Maybe call ahead to make sure that they have time to fit you in. They'll likely give you some grief about your bike not being bought for you, not the ideal frame size, etc. Just explain that you can run mad fast, are not buying a new bike today and want to get the most out of this one. My fave shop is, up in dunwoody. Even if you don't do a full fit at least get somebody who cycles a bunch to take a little time to set you up.

    Your bike skills may progress something like this:
    1) Neighborhood rides, very low traffic. Get used to shifting. Play around on some hills with shifting. Go around some corners. Get used to clipless pedals.
    2) Silver Comet. Start to put in some longer, uninterrupted miles on the Comet where there are no cars. Could be five or ten to start. You'll be excited to see your heart rate up with a completely new set of pains and sensations causing it.
    3) Silver Comet group ride. Find some friends and ride with them on the Comet. Get a little freaked out by how close they ride. Talk to them about group etiquette, drafting, etc.
    4) Organized group road ride. Show up at one of the local bike shop rides ( Learn the group dynamic. Listen to how people warn for potholes, cars up and back, stop signs, etc. There's a vocabulary to learn.
    5) Move up to more difficult group rides that fit your aerobic capability. This will happen as soon as your bike skills catch up with your aerobic capability.

    How quickly you progress is up to you. Skip or add steps in there according to what your friends are doing. Just an outline.

    With your 400m goal I'm guessing you're eyeing the Sweetwater Tri or the Carrollton Tri. Sign up. Get scared. Have fun. Repeat! Looking forward to hearing how things go! Not looking forward to getting passed by you on the swim and run!

  2. I think that guy was working out his eyeballs watching you swim. : )

    Way to go on the bike. I've scoped some races - the Acworth one and then there is one at Lake Lanier on Sept 30 . . .

    Also, I'm going to REI on Sat AM to look for a swimsuit that I can actually swim in, if you want to shop.

  3. Wow Joe! Thanks for all the great bike advice. I will have to freshen up my highlights for my trip to the bike shop ;) and get schooled.

    And no worries on me blowing by you on the swim since I am certain grandmas on beach crusiers will pass me on the bike.

    I am looking at a women's tri in Acworth in August but will check the dates on the ones you suggested.
    Thanks for the tips. :)

  4. Steph-- the one on Sept 30th is the day after Pookie's wedding so I think I am a no on that. But still looking at the one on Aug 12th.

    I have a pretty good suit that I am currently swimming with. By good I mean sturdy and ugly. I bought it when I found out I was preggars with Carmella and was struggling with the running. So it works for now. Were you thinking I was swimming laps in one of my string bikinis? I'd be naked after the first flip turn. ;) Now that would have definitely given the man in the pool something to look at. As it is I am a pretty unsexy swimmer in my way too sporty one piece and my raccooned smeared mascara eyes (forgot to take it off).

    Okay we might need to get together for some swim workouts. BW has a lap pool, right? I am thinking leaving all the kids with Doug? Carmella can help him surpervise.

  5. Hi Natalie- I am a long time reader (found your site on runners world) but this is my first post (obviously).

    I have been doing tris for a couple seasons (living and training in NYC), but come from a long swimming background (actually swam at Emory, and miss ATL every day!). Some hopefully helpful pointers on your progression with the swim:

    You're a strong swimmer and will mostly likely be at the top of any group in the swim. I would say more important than working on lowering your time for 100m is to develop a strong base, done by lots and lots of laps- speed is important but you already have it, and working on your base yardage will help with the speed as well.

    As a strong swimmer (which you are!) the goal in the tri may be to get through the swim using the least amount of effort as possible- you don't want to sprint the swim then be dead on the bike. Developing a strong swimming base will allow you to do this.

    As for open water swimming vs. lap swimming. I think open water is more taxing, but not if you prepare for it. Add 100+ people, no lane lines and possible wind (wind=waves) and it makes for quite an experience. And flip turns are acutally a form or rest when you are lap swimming, so taking those away in an open water swim actaully makes it a bit harder. Something you can do to prepare for an open water swim in the pool is to practice your 'sighting'. In an open water swim you want to breathe to the front (lifting your head and looking forward) every so often to be sure you are headed in the correct direction of the course. You can practice this in the pool by simply breathing 'to the front' a few laps per workout.

    Hope this helps- I greatly enjoy your blog, sorry i don't have one of my own to share!

    Also just a note on the distances, in a meter pool, roughly 1500m= 1 mile= 1650yards. It's not exact, but it's what people use.

  6. ditto to above.
    and sighting is a skill you will definitely need in an open water swim, or else you'll be all over the course, losing time. like sarah said, just lift your head while breathing every once in a while (I usually count off 20 strokes/look/20 strokes/look, etc.). In the pool I'll pick something like my water bottle and sight off of it while going back and forth.
    In the triathlon swim, you'll be going one way or another around buoys. So you'll be keeping them either to your right or left, bilateral breathing helps, in case the buoys are on your "off" side.
    At my first triathlon, it took me over 28 minutes to swim 750 meters (half a mile). You are starting WAY ahead of where I was, swim-wise.
    You should time your 500 and see where you're at. I imagine you'll finish your swim somewhere in the 8 or 9 minute range.
    When you start, move to the front while standing on the beach. You're faster than most people and don't want to get stuck behind me, flailing away with a poor backstroke and breast kick.
    (For the record, my swim is now MUCH faster, and it only took seven years of constant training!)
    To illustrate, my best 500 yd time in the pool is about 7:30, best 500 yd open fresh water split is 9:51. That time includes the transition, but you see the difference that several hundred other people, plus following buoys with no lane lines can make.
    Also, at the race, put your goggles on underneath your swim cap. There's a possibility that you could catch an elbow or foot (don't be scared, it's normal) and don't want it to knock your goggles off.
    And you're going to do great.

  7. That is definitely an awesome swim time. You will be in the front/middle of the pack with those times. Just remember that in open water you may save time by not having to do flip turns, but you don't get to push off from the all either. That's why I don't do flip turns and I don't push off very hard.

    As far as the bike goes, 1200 is a discontinued model. They do 1000 and 1600 now, but I think the 1200 is nice. We just worked out Dee Dee's seat position and you want to be able to sit on the bike and stand on your tippy toes on both feet.

    If you decide to do some tris around here, I am SO going to come watch you and Steph!

    BTW: A mile is 1609 meters to be exact :-)

  8. If you need help with those gears, let me know. It looks like you have the same kind as we do.

  9. Sarah! Hi! Sarah with an h is both my mom and sister's names so I'm partial to Sarah's.
    That is some great info for the swim. I had wondered how to structure my workouts and I actually prefer lap swimming to the intervals and what not.

    I also had not considered sighting at all and had wondered how people keep from veering off.

    Very helpful stuff. Thanks for piping up and for reading.

  10. Jason. Thanks for the tips! Keep um coming. This is stuff I hadn't even thought about. So I'm definitley going to need a swim cap huh? Are they any less painful getting on than they use to be. THe nylon ones always came off of me and got tanlged in my feet but the latex ones--even powdered-- ripped have my hair out.

  11. Wes, so you are saying my Lance, like the real Lance is "retired" ;)?

    Well a free bike is a free bike, right.
    I think I have the seat right if tippy toes is what is to be touching. I am a tad uncomfortable with that but it does feels right pedaling. I think I usually put the seat too low. And I might need help with the gears. I mean I usually can figured it out on the ride but it is guess work.

    I've been thinking about my flip turns and I am sure that probably pads my time as I know we spent many practices perfectly the flip turn and gettting the most from it. I hadn't considered that at all. I obviously am goign to have to tweak my swim work out so I can make them more applicable to what I experience in the open swim. But I'm not giving up the flip turns. I'll just not power off them.
    Lala did suggest I could practice in her lake but I know there are too many snakes and trees so I'll just use the pool.

    I appreciate all the advice everyone.

    And Joe, I can promise you it will be years before I clip myself to the bike.