Look Ma! No lane lines. (Entry #7)

When I arrived at Trinity College pool for a swim workout something was different about the pool. Had it lost weight? Maybe it was a new outfit? A new hairstyle? Were those new kick boards? No. Someone had stolen all the lane lines!  I was about to call campus security to apprehend the hooligans, when I saw Lynne and Janice with the kinds of smiles on their faces that only meant trouble.  Training trouble. To get the team used to the sensation of swimming in a scrum, they took half the group and placed us at one end of the pool and the rest at the other end.  “Swim to the other side!” Janice and Lynne instructed.  Oh, we’d be on a collision course as well.  We swam towards each other and somehow, no major crackups…we sighted our way through the churning waters. Later, they had everyone form two lines facing each other, about 6 feet apart. Everyone held a kick board, flipper or some other piece of equipment. One lucky swimmer then had to swim down the middle of this gauntlet as everyone splashed. I was one of the last people to go and Lynne exhorted the group “Splash more!”  We weren’t sure if it was because everyone had slacked off or if she was picking on me.  Regardless, as I swam, all I could think of was the poem “The Charge of the Lightning Brigade.”  Splashing to the left of me, splashing to the right of me, water in my mouth and up my nose.” I finished and it was ok, challening, but ok.  I didn’t drown...

The hills are alive with the sound of mucus (Entry #8)

Penwood Hills.  That has a rather bucolic sound to it, doesn’t it?  Rolling hills, sheep on a meadow, winding trails, ladies with parasols.  Sadly, that proved to be only a fantasy that I constructed in my mind as I confronted this workout. From the parking lot was a leisurely jog, just over a mile, to THE HILL.  IT was one of these hills that seemingly just kept going on and on, around every turn was more hill. We were istructed to run for 90 seconds up the hill and then jog down.  Rest and do it again, and again, and again and again. It was a nice night, but not that nice a night for running vertically.  My legs burned, my steps got a little choppy, my heart rate soared and the sweat poured.  But, like one of the little Billy Goats in “The Sound of Music” I kept climbing. Somehow, everyone got to the bottom of the hill before me, so I didn’t have a ton of recovery time.  But, oddly, I found myself enjoying the workout.  There was something about being confronted with this difficult challenge and perservering. I’m not sure if I could have run much longer, but I ran as long as I needed. And, I never would have done this workout by mself, but with a group, with our collective griping, made it oddly fun. Chalk another one up for team training. Published May 30,...

You’re all wet…suit. (Entry #9)

What does the well-dressed triathlete wear these days?  If you guessed a full-body suit made of .5mm thick neoprene rubber, you’d be right. It’s not the sort of thing you’d wear on the red carpet, but it does help keep you warmer in cold water and provides some very welcome buoyancy.  Plus, it’s very slimming. I received my wetsuit as an early Father’s Day gift (I’m assuming they were all sold out of Old Spice).  Lynne and I went into our lake to get used to it. Getting into the suit itself was an interesting experience.  Sort of like rolling really puffy Saran Wrap onto your body starting at your feet.  Nothing slides and you have to slowly hoist the suit on, inches at a time. Once suited up, I was aware of how incredibly snug it was.  Even breathing was noticeably challenging.  Moving my arms also felt restricted. I jumped into the lake and the water rushed into the small openings in the back of the suit.  But, otherwise, I noticed that I was almost floating.  I started to swim and that’s when the panic attack began.  Every time I tried to swim, bringing my arms forward, I felt the suit resisting, pulling them back.  I couldn’t swim freestyle.  Plus, visibility in the water was very limited.  I could see my finger-tips, but nothing further.  The rays of the sun shone down into the water, making the particles of silt sparkle like glitter, but that didn’t help me know where I was going. The quick, racing thoughts that accompany panic started ping-pong-ing around my brain.  “My arms aren’t...

Blinded by the light (Entry #10)

The sun was shining.  As we stood on the shore of Coventry Lake, the back of my wetsuit was getting lightly toasted by the morning rays.  The mellow warmth was a nice counterpoint to the brisk wind and the chilly waters, swollen from the monsoon that had just swept through the day before. The sun is my friend, I thought. We did one practice start.  A quick rush into the water, turning 90-degrees to the right, swimming to a buoy and then another 90-degree turn back to the beach.  As soon as we started, I thought, “What the hell am I doing?  I never swim this fast.  Slow down!”  There was some sort of frenetic magnetism to this moment, dragging me along at a speed that was not my own.  I put the brakes on and tried to better pace myself.  Then, we were hauling ourselves out of the water like the first fish that decided that life on land might be something worth checking out. Then it was time for the main event, a 1/2-mile swim across the lake to the house with the picket fence.   The way out to the house was manageable.  I breathe on my right and was able to use the shoreline as a guide.  The return trip was a different story.  Looking out into the open water each time I took a breath provided no reference point.  I counted ten strokes and then switched to breaststroke to get a visual on the lifeguard stand that was my landmark.  Blindness.  That’s what I saw.  Bright.  Incredible blindness.  My friend, the sun, who had so...

It’s an uphill battle…unless you’re married to the coach (Entry #11)

Wednesday evening’s workout wasn’t high on my list of things to do.  The day had been full of various appointments for my kids as they get ready for sleep-a-way camp.  Working out at the end of the day seemed more insult than anything else. We met at the parking lot outside Cornerstone Pool.  The bike route had us biking up Tunxis Road, not once, but twice.  Tunxis, while recently repaved to give it a lovely, smooth consistency, is also pretty much one, long, slow hill.  Not steep enough to force me to get off and walk, but certainly enough to make me going painfully slow. This was our first group brick workout, where we would do not one, but two different workouts back-to-back.  So, as I was pulling back into the parking lot, I was greeted with the reality that we would have to pull on our running shoes and complete a 2-mile loop. Luckily, being married to one of the coaches has a few perks.  First, I’m never late to a workout.  Two, I was able to convince her to reverse the direction of the run course, turning the long slow uphill portion, into a more palatable downhill.  If my teammates didn’t already adore me (which, of course, they do for my charming wit, winning smile and incredibly pale skin pallor), they now knew that I had their best interests in mind. I hadn’t had dinner and was feeling a little tired from the biking (it was a little warm), so I took a few sips of water and grabbed a Powerbar Bite that Lynne offered.  This particular...

Take me to the water (Entry #12)

Never has there been so aptly named aworkout as “The Brick”.  Useful?  Yes?  Pleasant?  Not so much.  Think of all the cliches you know that involve bricks and most of them aren’t all that soothing: Hit you like a ton of bricks. Just another brick on the wall. Hit the bricks Thick as a brick So, waking up at 5:30 in the morning to tackle anything brick-related wasn’t ideal.  I should also mention that I’d just dropped my kids off at summer camp, so this was my first free morning…and I’d chosen to get up before my sprinklers went off. This was a swim/run brick.  So, we had a few race starts, to continue the ongoing effort to reconfigure my facial structures using only other people’s feet and hands. The facial massage was followed by a 1/2-mile swim.  Oddly, the swimming, once my greatest fear, has become a somewhat manageable activity, which I fully credit to the coaches and the constant repetition.  One issue that has continued to haunt me is my inability to swim anything that resembles a straight line.  I’m fairly sure that an overhead outline of my route would resemble an EKG. At the turn-a-round point, one of the workout leaders who was stationed there to make sure we were doing ok, asked me if I knew I was taking the scenic route.  I can only imagine how much longer I made my swim due to my GPS-challenged route.  But, I wasn’t tired.  I was spacing out and would lose track of my stroke count.  “1-2-3, gee, I wonder what movies are playing later today and...