A Review: Triathletes Swim First!

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Incase you haven’t noticed winter has ARRIVED!

Damn it got cold! Even way down here in the deep south, we struggled to make it above freezing last week. Burrrr!

However, just like the summer heat….we can’t control the weather and there is work to be done!! Spring will be here before we know it.

Now I realize jumping into a chilly pool MAY not be high on the list of priorities when its sub-zero outside, but its the best time to get some quality swim work accomplished!

And lucky for all of y’all, the ladies over at the The Waterblogged Triathlete have just the thing to help make YOU a better swimmer!

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Triathletes Swim First offers over 100 fresh and innovative swim workouts for everyone, from beginner multisport athletes to Ironman finishers. Anyone who has a goal of an improved swim or just a great overall race day would benefit from implementing these workouts into their current training plan.

Most of us realize that EVERY swim workout should incorporate drills to aid in improved technique and ultimately a stronger swimming foundation. However, this is often easier said than done, especially if you aren’t swimming with a group.

More often that not, triathletes end up swimming countless laps with no objective other than to finish the workout. This book changes that. It gives each and every session a purpose. There are drills to work on the front end of the stroke, body roll/rotation skill builders, sets that focus on kicking efficiency, as well as ones for open water sighting. There are even drills and workouts to assist in wetsuit familiarity!

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This little book has it ALL!

The ladies over at The Waterblogged Triathlete have an extensive background as swimmers. I encourage you to not only investigate their book, but to check out their website. There is a wealth of information over there and by signing up for email notifications, you’ll always get the latest snipet of swim knowledge delivered right to your inbox!

I received a copy of this book last fall while in the depths of IMFL prep and it wasn’t until December that I really got to play around with the workouts.

I do have a coach who writes my swim sessions, but quite often drill sets are optional…meaning I get to choose the drill. To be honest, I know about five off the top of my head and it can get a little old repeating the same ones day after day. Not to mention, rather unproductive. I now have a fresh set at my disposal and THAT is keeping things fresh, fun, and challenging!

Some things I personally like about the book….

  • there are pace charts to help estimate goal times and tips on converting it to yards from meters
  • there are over ten pages of defined terms….don’t you HATE trying to figure out what 3/8/3 means the first time???
  • almost every other page has tip boxes filled with useful information
  • there are pages to write in your own workouts if you are so inclined

Triathletes Swim First can be found on The WaterBlogged Triathlete website for $29.95.  It is also available at amazon.com for the same price OR you can download it to your kindle for $7.99!! The best pool toy you’ll ever buy!

Regardless of the distance you race, being an efficient swimmer WILL improve your bike and run splits. Triathletes Swim First is a great tool to start this process. It’s a fantastic resource to keep your workouts both fresh and productive all season long!

Grab a copy and let me know what you think!

Swim Happy, My Friends!

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Ironman Florida- 21 Weeks and Counting

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Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans -John Lennon

This has turned into the summer of outdoor home repair.

So while it is summer and I should be free to gallivant around town….swimming, biking, and running to my hearts desire, I’m bound to the schedule of those helping us get our exterior in order.

So I sit and wait…

For the painters, for the guys repairing our failing bulkhead (a seawall keeping out land OUT of the bayou), the gutter man, the pool leak detector, the pool REPAIRMAN (because the guy who FINDS the leak can’t actually REPAIR it…WTF???!!), and the landscapers….

There’s a story here….

So I walked out back, early one morning, and said hello to our wonderful painters. I looked at our pool/hot tub and noticed the hot tub was totally empty and leaking into the yard.

GREAT!

So I filled it up and went to run my 6 miles, rationalizing I’d “test” how quickly it emptied…

Yea well, it was empty 52 minutes and 49 seconds later.

Also why I called the leak detector guy….who then told me there was a leak (no??!!), but he doesn’t fix them!

I then got to perform my Crossfit routine for the week by digging out the yard to FIND it…

Oh, and I found it alright….

And my wonderful pool guy came out on Saturday and fixed it. 😉

And my wonderful husband got to backfill the yard. 😉

I’d like to say this is a rare occurrence around here, but it’s not. We’re starting to believe we built this house on ancient burial grounds or something because this has pretty much been how our life has gone since we built the place 4 years ago.

If all else fails, laugh!

Often!

I’ve gotten my training in, but it has been a chore.

  • Swimming: I’m averaging right at 9000 yrds a week divided up over 3 swims. I tried like hell, this week, to drop down to a 2 beat kick and finally gave it up. I’ve used a 4-6 beat for so long that it was not only slowing me down, but also ruining my roll to the point my back started to hurt. I have added in a few more kick sets though to help boost the overall strength of my kick. I know a lot of triathletes don’t utilize a lot of kicking, but I was a swimmer first and I kick quite a bit.
  • Cycling: I hit right around 6 hours in the saddle, also split over 3 sessions; 2 shorter/1 longer. The big development was my Quarq started misbehaving and you’d like to think I could no longer pedal without it. I LOVE that thing! I’m hoping it was due to some residual dirt and grime on the magnets, but I won’t know for sure until after todays ride. I spent yesterday de-greasing everything, giving it all a good cleaning, and then a fresh application of Rock and Roll Dry Lube. That is some good stuff!!! If that doesn’t do the trick then it’s off to the LBS for some adjustments with the torque wrench. I’ll keep ya’ posted!!
  • Running: It’s hot and humid, but I’m doing alright. For the first time in ages I’ve got a really good grip on the heat and how to manage my longer runs in the current conditions. My longest so far (post Gulf Coast) is 1:10 and building. It’s the shorter ones that tend to cause me more problems because they usually involve drills, hills, or pick-ups…no speed work per-say, but enough “work” to make me a little more uncomfortable in the heat. The goal, during those workouts, has been to not only complete the session, but to keep the negative chatter away. So far, I’ve been able to do so.

Next week is a step back week and my coach was nice enough to sneak a run test onto the schedule as well…

It’s been a while since that was evaluated so it should certainly be interesting.

I hope everyone is having a great summer training and racing.

Best of Luck to everyone tackling Ironman Kansas and Ironman Boise this weekend as well!

Race Happy, My Friends!

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OverHaulin’

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Last spring, once it became abundantly clear that I was NOT going to be running seriously for a while I needed something to do.

Enter the summer of OverHaulin’ ….the swim stroke!

When I came back from Galveston, in April, I wasn’t particularly happy with my swim time and realized working on technique was the ONLY thing that was going to lead to any significant improvement.

What I didn’t quite understand was just HOW difficult this would prove to be….

The key was (and still is) basically retraining the brain and that, my friends, is crazy-ass hard!

Research has long proved it takes 3,000-5,000 repetitions to correct an incorrect movement.

To put that in perspective…..

There were 7-8 “little” things I was perpetually doing wrong and I could only work on 1 of them at a time or else my poor brain would never get a handle on ANY of it!

And by the way, it felt like it took at least a million times to grasp things! I don’t know whose on the 5,000 fast track…NOT ME!

So I’d master 1 task through spot on perfect repetition and then move to the next movement dysfunction…repeat the process, then the next, and so on….and so on and so on. You get it…

Finally, in late summer, I was able to start putting it all together….

Only 2 (yup 2!) strokes out of every 18-21 performed were actually done correctly when the process first began. I TOLD you it was crazy-ass hard! I went from swimming 3000 yrds to barely being able to finish 25 yards!!

Eventually, my brain and body began to sync. The stroke itself became easier, more fluent, and my speed naturally picked up….I found my mind wandering off to my “TO DO” list once again….a big ole NO-NO apparently!

When swimming, ONLY think about swimming! Same applies to running, cycling, stretching, yoga, weight training, core work…etc….BE IN THE MOMENT and get the most from the moment! And that’s your tip of the day! 😉

It took almost 6 months of diligent and focused work, but I’m proud to say my stroke has been totally overhauled!

Now here’s another interesting factoid: if you learn the correct movement right from the start, it only takes 300-500 repetitions to master that fresh movement pattern!

THAT would’ve been a MUCH easier way to go!!

The interesting take-away point: If you are a new swimmer….find someone to TEACH you the skill!! Don’t do it yourself and develop BAD habits which will be harder to reverse later!!

Personally, I’d much rather perform repetitions in the hundreds compared to the thousands….wouldn’t you?

And let us not forget as well…..

Never stop practicing the basics! The more correct repetitions performed, the more likely we are to master it permanently! And THAT is a wonderful thing!!

Each and every time I get in the pool, after a nice warm up, I go through a series of fundamental drills to reinforce the neuromuscular pathways that have developed. I NEVER want to forget how to perform these movements and if I slack on the basics, my form suffers. I can tell immediately.

How much has it helped you ask?? Has it really been worth the 6 months of chlorine damaged skin, ruined swimsuits (I went through 3), and the severely bruised ego?

On average, my 100 yard split has dropped between 10-15 secs while my perceived exertion has remained constant, if not easing a little.

If I hadn’t lived it, I don’t think I’d believe it!

There is a lot of work yet to do and I’m still building endurance in the small muscles that are not accustomed to being used and abused for such long periods of time, but overall it has been nothing short of amazing!

Well worth every single stroke, wouldn’t you say?! 😉

I’m now applying this same knowledge and technique to my running form. I’ll keep ya’ posted on how that goes. I’m about a month in and it’s no easier on land than in the water, but I’m already feeling some positive changes!

Swim Happy, My Friends!

Keeping a Low Profile

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If you don’t have anything nice to say, then just keep your damn mouth shut!    -Mom’s all around the world
 

Sage advice, no doubt and the reason I’ve been keeping a low profile.

No need to dampen everyone’s training and racing successes! But at the same time, I didn’t want y’all to think I’d been kidnapped by Wal-martians or been run over by beer guzzling rednecks!

So I decided to give y’all a brief update…stop smirking, it’s comparably brief!

Mississippi is on full alert..

Well, the Gulf Coast at least…as I’ve become more and more cranky by the day. It has become quite evident, that this issue with my knee/leg is going to require some serious time off running.

1st, I actually need a diagnosis!

The thing about having a husband for a physician is that you get a lot of what I refer to as, “back door medical advice”.

Sure I can get an MRI in an hour and my results just as fast, but the opinions are really as good as what I can look up on the internet.

“It may be….”  week 1-2

“Oh, better be careful…it looks like it could be….”  week 2-3

“I bet it’s….”  week 3-4

You know the saying, “Opinions are like assholes…..everyones got one!”

Ask 100 doctors their diagnosis, you WILL get a different answer almost every time. I promise!

I warned you…I’m cranky!

So here I sit, 4 weeks later with a whole bunch of free advice about an MRI that “might” show a stress fracture or “might” just be a normal variant of the training load I was doing.

NOTHING…NOTHING….NOTHING replaces a hands on exam and I know this, but I was being lazy…..

trying to take the easy way out because the orthopedist isn’t the easiest person to see

AND maybe because I kinnda wanted to cherry pick the advice I accepted.

Those that said “overuse”, ITB issues, tendonitits…..yeah, well they HAD to be spot on!! Anyone who said stress fracture….pfft, CRAZY!!

I mean, come ON… REALLY??!!! How could I have a stress fracture?? I can hop on 1 leg for Gods sake.

I wasn’t training THAT much…cough, cough….not as much as most….some….a few.

See, it only hurts when I run…yes, I know that’s just 10 steps, but it doesn’t get REALLY bad until about a mile…., maybe .5 mile and if I stop and walk for a sec, well I can repeat the whole process…about 7 or 8 times actually.

Stress fracture…pfft, y’all are nuts!

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So, now after once again trying to run last week and at just under .3 miles (yes, that’s barely to the stop sign at the end of the street..I KNOW, I KNOW) having that ole familiar pain creep back into my lateral knee, I conceded…..

I cried uncle.

Then I screamed bloody murder, cried holy hell, and had a good old-fashioned temper tantrum!

I was long overdue, really.

Then realized, as usual, I have no one to blame but myself.

I always say, life mimics sport…sport mimics life…however you wanna see the glass…

This is another fine example.

There is no easy way out…there is no simple solution.

It needs an actual VISIT to the physician so he can actually touch it, see it, compare the films with his clinical exam, and finally take what I’m telling him and make a good judgement call.

Then maybe I’ll have an opinion worth a damn.

So, for now…

Swimming, swimming, swimming….cycling, cycling, and more cycling.

And I’ll work on the crankiness too!

Swim Happy, My Friends!

Wordless Wednesday

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Well as wordless as you’ll probably ever get from me anyway…

They say great minds think alike.

My mom likes to say it’s because we’re soul mates…

When stuff like this happens, we definitely know why we’ve been together for 25 years!

I wish I could figure out how to post the inside of the card because it’s HYSTERICAL!

I hope everyone survived Valentines Day and is out swimming, biking, or running off  all the chocolate and red velvet cupcakes.

NOT that I would know about things like that! 😉

Train Happy, My Friends!

Peace of Mind

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As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7
 

It’s recovery week around here and that tends to mean there’s lots of catching up to do.

Catching up on sleep, cleaning, laundry, errands, and anything else that’s been neglected these past few weeks while swimming, cycling, and running for hours upon hours.

In addition to all that good stuff,  I’ve decided I’m also going on a quest….

I’m going to spend the week trying to find a little peace of mind.

Now I consider myself a pretty strong person. The type that doesn’t give up or give in easily….who perseveres in good times and bad….

But I have a little secret…

I really, really HATE to be uncomfortable!

Not like, “it’s kinnda windy and cold to be out running 10 miles” uncomfortable.

Or even, “there aren’t any bathrooms for 10 miles so I guess I need to pee in the bushes or on my bike” uncozy.

Naa, that’s a non-issue.

What I’m talking about is that down to my core discomfort.

The place where you know your head is going to ruin things long before your body ever has the chance.

I’m talking about the, “WTF am I doing??? I just rode 40 miles, into a constant headwind, at 20 mph and now I’m 3 miles into 6 mile run dealing with the heat, the humidity…I hurt like a son-of-a-bitch and I REALLY don’t like this shit anymore.”

Yeah, you know it! That’s the kind of uncomfortable I’m talking about!!!

I really don’t care for it much at all. To be honest, I don’t handle very well either.

I normally train to avoid this type of unpleasantry, at all cost, by building my endurance above and beyond race distance when at all possible.

That’s not really feasible this go round.

This time it’s different.

It’s unpredictable, it’s unfamiliar, and it’s starting to get VERY uncomfortable!

Every time I put on my shoes, get on my bike, or step to the pools edge I’m so consumed with fatigue I swear I’m not going physically be able to complete the task at hand.

Yet somehow I do.

This is how the program works. I know this. I studied it. I’ve implemented the protocol myself and assisted others numerous times. It works. You break the body down, rest it, and let it adapt to improve. It’s not a difficult concept and I can deal with that process just fine.

What I can not handle is the self-doubt when things hurt; when my legs and arms feel like steel beams, or when my paces and splits make it appear that my finishing time will be closer to a FULL Ironman as opposed to a HALF! ugh! 😦

So this week I’m on a mission….

To figure out a way for my mind to be ok with the discomfort my body feels and move past it instead of focusing on it.

To know that the discomfort is ok. It is not unbearable. It is temporary. And it will pass…

Somehow…

Someway…

Eventually…

I also need to get a good grip on reality and stop focusing so much on paces, splits, and averages right now.

The 1st step is to admit you have a problem….

Apparently everything I need to know is right here:

Doesn’t THAT look nice ‘n easy??

The fun never ends…

A constant string of parties, one after another, around here!! 😉

I’ll let y’all know how it goes!

Run Happy, My Friends!

Kickin’ It Off Right

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Happy Ground Hogs Day!

January is officially in the books.

That means it’s that time again…

Time to look back on the work that’s been done and decide what, if anything, needs to be changed.

So here’s how the month played out:

Swimming: 10 miles/ 5hrs 50mins

Cycling: 299 miles/ 15hrs 04mins

Running: 83 miles/ 12hrs 35 mins

Strength/Core: 6hrs 40mins

TOTAL:  392 miles/ 46 hrs 34 mins

The very 1st thing I noticed, when I was working on these numbers, was the 299 cycling miles.

REALLY?

Apparently I don’t study this often enough, because I was on the bike yesterday and I would’ve CERTAINLY gone another 3 minutes or so to make that an even 300, but….whatever!

My time in the pool has stayed pretty level all year and that’s just how I wanted this winter to play out. There’s nothing too exciting to report other than it’s really nice to already have my swim fitness and not need to get out and work on it.

January was our first race of 2012 with The Louisiana Marathon. While I was thrilled with my results given the set-backs with my quad injury, the recovery was far longer than I anticipated. Truth be told, I’m just now getting back to my former running self. I read somewhere that you should give your body 1 day of recovery for every mile covered in your race. Well, I’m a believer.

There are 59 days until we climb in our wetsuits and walk to the water’s edge in Galveston to take on those 70.3 miles.

I’ve left the kind and cozy world known as base phase and I’m now deep into the 2nd week of the building part of the plan. Why is the 2nd week always the hardest??

The biggest part of February will be miles in the saddle. It’s my goal to build to 150 miles/week by the end of the month.

I’ve got to find my running mojo and so that is a big objective of this month. I’m running a shorter long run and more frequent medium distance runs (6-9 miles) to hopefully regain some happiness out there. I seem to be most comfortable and remain injury free when running between 90-100 miles/month. I’m tweaking my plan, each week, to fit these runs in where they work the best and where I can squeeze the most out of them while still trying to log as many cycling miles as possible.

A tedious task at times, but one that will pay off no doubt.

All in all, I was quite pleased with January. Despite the setbacks, I was still able to get in a lot of work and move on to the next training block. What more can a girl ask for really? 😉

How ’bout you?

Have you taken a few minutes to study the past month…see where you’ve been and made a plan for where you want to go?

Run Happy, My Friends!

Miles and More

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I’m a few months behind tallying up my miles.

What can I say…Been kinnda busy 😉

Working backwards, this what keep my busy a good chunk of September-November.

November:

  • Swimming: 5 miles/ 2hrs and 49 minutes
  • Cycling: 273 miles/ 12hrs and 58 minutes/ avg pace 20 mph
  • Running: 83 miles/ 12hrs and 39 minutes/ avg pace 9:11
  • Total: 361 miles/28 hours and 27 minutes

October:

  • Swimming: 5 miles/ 3 hrs and 6 minutes
  • Cycling: 274 miles/ 13 hrs and 11 minutes/ avg pace 18 mph
  • Running: 77 miles/11 hours 47 minutes/ avg pace 8:36
  • Total: 356 miles/ 28 hours and 4 minutes

September:

  • Swimming: 8 miles/ 4 hrs and 23 minutes
  • Cycling: 283 miles/ 13 hours and 17 minutes/ avg pace 21 mph
  • Running: 63 miles/ 9 hours and 46 minutes/ avg pace 9:11
  • Total: 354 miles/27 hours and 26 minutes

All in all it appears to be a fairly strong base as I look to ramp things up in January. I should have a nice foundation to build on as I start the 10 week block focusing on 70.3 preparation.

I can definitely tell when the weather started to cool as my run paces improved and distances increased. Just the same, my bike paces decreased and the miles fell off slightly as I finished the season.

My goal was to maintain 4-6 miles/month in the pool during the “off season” and so far, so good. There is really nothing worse than re-developing the “gills” after months out of the water.

I’ve also been training for the Louisiana Marathon which will take place in Baton Rouge, La on 1/15/2012. I’m only running the half, but really needed to focus on working in some longer runs and I’ve been fairly successful at accomplishing that while continuing to average 60-80 miles/wk cycling. I really hope to break 2 hrs, at this distance, this year and so far the majority of my race pace runs have been on target. However, as my legs fatigue this gets more difficult to accomplish. I only hope proper preparation, adaptation, and a good taper/rest the week prior does me right in the long run (ha!).

In the end, it’s really all about 4/1/2012 ….the Half-Ironman.

I’ve grown accustomed to running on tired legs day in and day out. If I don’t break 2 hrs in January I know that I’ll live to fight another day….10 weeks later to be exact.

And that’s when the true pay-off will be felt. Or at least, that’s what I keep telling myself as I run in the cold windy weather, day after day, after spending hours on the bike and/or in the pool.

In addition to logging these miles, it’s been a busy time around here as well. From keeping up with all of you, to playing Santa, to making the really big decisions in my life…like, should I grow my hair out? maybe change the color? 🙂

AND since I’m still practicing my slide show skills….

Remember…I’m still learning, and I’m short on time, AND I have yet to sync my iPod so the music choices are very limited!

Y’all have a Great Weekend!

Caution: Schedule Overload

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This week’s tip comes at a time when most of us are happy to simply get the workouts done, much less take things to the next level.

Stress, even good stress, takes a toll on the body. This is something we all need to remember as we cram in swimming/biking/running with all the holiday madness these next few weeks.

This quote from Ryan Hall sums it up perfectly:

“I actually think being a more balanced person makes a healthier, happier, and thus faster person. The question I try and ask myself when I consider whether or not to train more is what is my body craving and what is my body ready to absorb? Sometimes pushing harder is not the answer. It takes self control, confidence, and intuition to know when to train and when to rest, but when in question error on the side of being over rested. ” 

Sometimes success is measured in simply getting the work done.

Train Happy, My Friends!

Back To Reality

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Once a year I take a week or so off and really recharge. Last week was that week.

The combination of everyday stressors (work, house, family) plus training really start to take a toll. I doubt many of us realize how hard we push to get through the weeks, but it definitely has an effect on health, training and performance.

When we left for Aruba, I had just finished Iron Girl New Orleans and had tweaked a muscle in my hip just prior to the race.

One of my vacation goals was to read Sage Roundtree’s, The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery. I know I have a HUGE problem with training at too high of an intensity and after months of doing this I end up hurt and exhausted. So this was step 1 in creating my new training block.

It is a great book for everyone, not just triathletes. It covers every aspect of recovery and regeneration from water/hydration to the ways in which to incorporate active recovery into your harder interval/tempo sessions. It also touches on supplements, compression gear, EMS, and of course yoga. It really helped me write my training plan for my next race in July.

As far as the rest of the trip it was very relaxing and JUST what the Dr. ordered 🙂 .

We did manage a run on our 2nd day there, but my legs felt like bricks as we ran up the mountain and my husband runs at a pace that I could only keep up with in my dreams! So it wound up more like me running a mile or so, then stopping to walk while screaming at the haze of yellow sneakers far ahead to slowwwww down and wait up. I just know if I could run topless, like he does, it would make all the difference, but it is what it is! Obviously, my body needed more rest.

This is outside our villa where we ran. Not bad, even if your forced to walk!

This place is full of cyclist too. They were riding all day up out in front here. We actually watched a 40k race Saturday morning with teams from Aruba, Curacao, and Venezuela. AquaDoc walked up to the start/finish and chatted up some folks and actually spoke to the girl who finished 1st for the women. She had this cool pink helmet and I’d been watching her ride in front of the villa all week. She said there are ony 3 women on the ENTIRE island that cycle. ONLY THREE! Pretty good odds, eh?

We rented some mountain bikes for the week and I gave “off-roading” a shot. I quickly decided I will not be entering any Xterra events in the near future. My husband kindly refused helmets and I, in turn, refused to ride…WTF, who doesn’t wear helmets??? So he went back and got them and then I proceeded to walk my mountain bike down the boulder-like gravel path. If you have not been on one of these things, they are really HEAVY. I have  a whole new respect for those folks in the fat tire division. I doubt I could rack these things as I tore up my leg with the crank just trying to pick it up off the ground. We made it back to the road, but then we were faced with winds from hell. The kite-surfing guys told us winds in Aruba are sustained at 30 knots and gust higher. These islanders all ride old, beat up road bikes with NO aerobars and NO special wheelsets. And they average about 23-25 mph. Man, if they had technology on their side they would be crazy fast.

This was the extent of my open water swimming!  I’m getting some ab work in as well so bonus points for me!!

I snorkeled a few times as well (not as much as the kids who were on a quest to find Dory and Nemo) and we had every intention of logging some miles in sea, but that time simply got filled with better stuff.

And based on how I feel now, upon my return, I think it was a week well spent.

BUT…I never forget what looms in the future….always thinking…

I think I settled on Galveston 70.3 on April 1, 2012… I just love that it is on April Fools Day! AquaDoc is still trying to wrap his mind around it, but I have confidence he’ll get there  AND

There is a sprint and olympic tri in Aruba every July. Mark your calendars! And train on HILLS and into a 30-40 knot headwind!! Oh, pack your bike too!

 Train Happy, My Friends!