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Eye to the North

"Out of the North He comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty." Job 37:22

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Swim

How Not to Panic in an Open Water Swim

triathlon swim
My experience in the try-a-tri swim portion was a little scary. Within 5 strokes, I took in water with my breath and had to stand to cough it out! Fortunately, I was still close enough to shore to touch the bottom. But that left me a little panicked, and I couldn’t get my breathing under control. Every few strokes, a wave would hit my face and I would struggle again. Instead of quitting, I turned on my back and spent some time to breath, before going back to front crawl. I actually spent a lot of time on my back, increasing my time in the water. So, here are a few things I learned:

1. Learn to Swim – properly
Proper swim technique gives you confidence. Plowing along in a pool works, because at the end of each lap is a chance to pause. That does not exist in open water. Once you start, you have to keep going. Breathing on both sides allows you to face out of the waves at least some of the time. If the waves were bigger than the 2 inches I faced, facing away from them to breath would have been critical.

2. Practice – in open water
You cannot really appreciate the difference between a pool and a lake until you get into the lake. I was aware of the difference, in theory, but did not take the opportunity to experience it until the day before the race. Reduce the panic by being familiar with the conditions.

3. Stay near the Back
Got this one covered! By swimming behind, you can follow. Sighting (seeing where you are supposed to swim) is harder in a lake than in a pool because there are no lines. Following a few other people allows you to stay on course without lifting your head too high to see where you are going. The danger with this is that you may get too far behind, or the person you are following may not stay on course. You still need to see the buoy, but not as often.

Of all of these lessons, the most important for me is to learn to swim properly. Perhaps swimming lessons should go on my list of “things to do”. Although my 13 year old thinks she has enough knowledge to teach me! I have no doubt she has the knowledge, but I’m not sure she has the ability to teach! This may be a learning experience for both of us!

I Made It – Once!

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I DID IT!!!
I didn’t really think it would happen! A year ago when I started on this journey, I couldn’t run 1 block without stopping to walk. A month ago, I was still struggling to keep moving for an hour. And yesterday, I swam, biked, and ran (ok, walked too) for 1 hour 26 minutes to complete my first try-a-tri!
Even Saturday, I was feeling totally unprepared.
Until I actually entered the water, I wodered what I was doing, why I was doing it, and how crazy was I anyways? Once I started, it was easier to keep going than to stop, so I kept going! And now the accomplishment feels great, and my body is not even very sore, although still tired.
Will I do it again? I don’t know. I no longer need to prove to myself that it is possible. But, I could have done better! And there is the aspect of maintaining a level of fitness.
For now, I will bask in the glory!

One (More) A Day

It started with a relatively innocent comment from my youngest daughter. “Mom, I’m going to work on my arm strength this summer.”
That got me thinking about upper body strength and how it affects swimming. If I had more upper body strength, I could be a better swimmer! And if I worked on it with my daughter, I could be a better mother! Two birds with on stone!
So how do you build arm strength? Most research I found involved lifting weights. As I am not prepared to invest in a gym membership for my preteen, I looked further for things to do at home. Push-ups! The simplest, yet effective way to build upper body strength is the push up!
My daughter wasn’t enthusiastic, with memories of “how many can you do in a minute” gym class of just last week, so we decided to start slow. One push up today. Add one push up the next day. Add one more the next day. And on and on.
One push up was not impossible. Two became possible. We are now up to 10. Everyday, the last push up seems almost impossible, but the next day, one more is still do-able!
Start slow. Add slow. You hardly notice! We will see what difference 2 weeks of push ups makes in my swim on Sunday – at the Try-a-tri!

The Core

As I plowed through the water trying to finish 300m, my daughter comes gliding up to me. “Can I tell you something? It will help you! You need to keep your body higher in the water. You need core strength”
And she is right. I have been concentrating on so many things – endurance, running form, breathing, counting laps – that I have not even thought about my core.

Strong core muscles improve balance, posture, and strength for running, swimming, kicking and throwing. http://www.swimsmooth.com/core.html is a great article on the effect of core muscle strength on swimming technique.

What am I doing about it? Honestly – not much right now! But I know where to start when I am ready to add another dimension to my work out.

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