Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tri training is in full force

I have been keeping myself occupied away from the phone and computer lately with plenty of training, but with the heat wave in full force outside I thought I'd catch up on my blog. I finally got back on the bike at the end of June after a long hiatus and I'm actually happy to be back on it. The bike is not my favorite part of the triathlon, I'd be happy doing swim/run races forever, but the bike is there so I'd better get going on it. I am TRYING to get into a routine where I bike to work or just get out and ride at least once a week, so we'll see how that goes.

I got an early start on the weekend last week and hit the road with my bike strapped to the trunk of my car on Thursday night as I headed for the Jersey beaches. I always panic a bit for the first few minutes while driving with the bike on my car rack, but since the George Washington Bridge was the first part of my drive I was extra nervous. I made it down to Mom's without any problems after an hour or so of "omg my bike looks like it is coming loose!" which were all unfounded. I tried to make it an early night, but I didn't even arrive at Mom's until around 10 or 10:30 which sucked because I had to get up at 5 to swim.

Thursday afternoon I spent some time searching online for a swim club or tri team to join for their morning ocean swim and I stumbled upon the Jersey Shore Tri club. Someone from the group kindly emailed me back and let me know they'd be swimming in Bay Head at 6am. Perfect! I joined the group bright and early with a stunning view of the sun rising out of the sea a fiery magenta. It was gorgeous, I miss swimming in the ocean and any other open water during the week so it was great to hit the open sea. As frequently happens, I was the only swimmer out of the 8 or 9 of us there who was swimming in traditional swimsuit, everyone else was pulling on those horrid, sweaty wetsuits. People always have excuses too about why they need them, "I'm getting old" (bullshit) or "I need the buoyancy" (also bullshit, we're in the ocean) but no one in this group was like that, so I respected them for that. I still wish people would practice in traditional suits so they they could improve as a real swimmer and if they still felt the need to cheat in a race, then so be it. I digress.

The swim itself wasn't as beautiful as the sunrise had promised thanks to swarms of slimy, gooey salp which surrounded me, tried to get in my mouth and probably are growing families deep in my ear canals. Salp is a tiny planktonic tunicate, in other words it is a gooey sac-like filter feeder that eats phytoplankton. They look like this and travel in packs of like a billion:

Imagine fishing thousands of these out of your suit and hair.

The salp are supposed to hang out near Antarctica, but they appear to be lost and are hanging off of the east coast in the very warm water. People often mistake them for "jellyfish eggs" or "fish eggs". If you've ever seen caviar you'd know that they are not fish eggs, but from experience I can tell you that they taste about the same. Eww.
The group and I swam about 1.5 miles or so, swimming north a few jetties and then back to our starting point where we decided to keep going because the water was a nice ~73 or so and everyone felt fine. I liked this group. I don't regret doing the extra half a mile or so, but man was that the worst part of the entire morning. The clumps of salp were so thick that I had to put my head down and swim as hard and far as I could before taking a breath. I did not want to swallow any of those buggers. Yuck. Imagine yourself swimming in a pool full of chopped up gummy bears with little stringy bits between them. I made a vow right then and there to never complain about the weeds in the St Lawrence River again.

After the swim I changed into my bike gear (I always feel like a goober, how come some people look so COOL on a bike?) and headed out for a 30 mile ride. I picked 30 because it was my target distance a week or so before, but I only had time for 25. I'm not following any particular training plan right now, so I just hopped on and headed south. The shoulders along Rt 35 in Bay Head, Mantoloking and beyond could use a little smoothing, my hands and butt could attest to that for a few days post-ride. I enjoyed my ride for the most part though, and was happy for the nice weather and fairly light traffic since it was still really early in the day. I rode south through Lavallette and Seaside Park and Heights until I finally hit Island Beach State Park at the southern tip of the island. It is a great place to ride and I saw several other cyclists out, but I wasn't going the full 10 miles in and back out today. I hit the 15 mile mark, had a snack and turned around, I was really happy to finally have the wind at my back. I was able to kick it up and head back to the car much faster than the way down because the wind was pretty strong. Boy, I hope I don't have a headwind for my half ironman, that'd be a bitch. I managed to make it most of the way back before hitting a nasty pothole with 4 miles to go. Ouch, the thump reverberated in my hands for the final few miles. *mental note: get new cycling gloves* I finished 30 miles in 2:01:13 and I'm happy with that. I have no real concept of a great cycling time, but I felt good and I felt like I put in a good effort. I think at this point in my training I just need to rack up some time in the saddle. I should probably bring my bike Upstate with me this weekend to get in a few hills.

It was shortly after I posted my swim and ride on Facebook that I realized "Wow, I'm tri training!" I have three triathlons on the horizon, two of which are coming up pretty quickly! TheNJ State (sprint) Tri is on the 23rd, the day after what would have been my Nan's 88th birthday and I'm doing it with a friend that I've known since childhood. I'm really looking forward to racing again! The NYC triathlon (Olympic) is on August 7th, less than a month away! I also have the Pocono Mountain 70.3 in October, but lets not talk about that just yet. Yikes.

Tomorrow I plan on biking to work for the first time and I'm excited about it, but a little nervous about the logistics and forgetting something important like underwear. I'll be sure to post about my adventures soon.

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