Tri, If I Can

I just wrapped up a master’s swim class at my local YMCA. I signed up for it because, when I get in the water, I’m euphoric. I feel energized, at peace and almost at home. I’m not claiming to be aquatic but if you know anything about the 7 chakra centers of the body, mine is definitely associated with water.

I signed up for this class somewhat on a whim, partly because a new friend I made, who happens to be into triathlons (along with her very fit husband and their two young, future triathletic boys) encouraged me to sign up too. That should have been my first clue to run fast in the opposite direction but the truth is, secretly (OK, well not now that I’m blogging about it), I’ve wanted to do a sprint triathlon since 2005.

In December 2006, eight months after I gave birth to my first child, I thought I was ready to commit. My plan was to find one nearby, start training in the winter and be ready by the time the event came up in the summer. Along the way of course, I’d loose the baby fat and get in tip-top form. Guess what, I didn’t do it.

My excuse then was that I was new to the area, had too many responsibilities with a new job, new baby and my husband in business school PLUS, I had no one to train with (I’m a pathetically social creature). So I kept fantasizing about doing a triathlon but ultimately did nothing about it. Then I got pregnant again.

Now that my second child is two, I figure it’s time. A few years ago, my cousin, let’s call her Calliope, whom I adore and admire, got in to marathons, then triathlons, then Iron Women. At her Colorado wedding in the fall of 2009, she told me if I wanted to do a triathlon, she’d do one with me. I could even pick the event and she’d fly out so we could do it together.

You’d think that would have been the ultimate motivator for me but it wasn’t. What I really wanted/needed was someone to train with, to help motivate me and keep me on track. Basically to kick my ass into gear and make me quit my avoidance techniques.

So let’s get back to this swim class for a minute. The coach, we’ll call her Lavinia (since that’s her name), is Romanian. Though she never once got into the pool with us, it was clear that she was an expert swimmer. I’d even heard rumors she was a former Olympian but she didn’t offer this information to our class.

Tonight, I finally approached her and asked about her background. It turns out that she is the former coach for the Israeli National Olympic Swim Team, the Venezuelan Team AND her native Romanian Team. Did I mention my class was at the local Y?

I’ve been swimming my whole life. For as long as I can remember. I’ve never been on a swim team and I’ve never swum competitively but I’ve always done it and enjoyed it. Somewhere along the way I must have been taught the various strokes because somehow I know them all (OK, maybe not the butterfly but really, who the hell is masochistic enough to need that stroke in their survival kit anyway!?). What I didn’t realize is that I didn’t do any of the strokes well. I was like a cardiovascular surgeon with 20/100 vision performing capillary surgery without glasses on.

My swim class met once a week for nine weeks and over that time Lavinia deconstructed our strokes and put them back together again, all the while staying perfectly dry, beside us. By the second class, I was swimming freestyle in a way that felt altogether more efficient and effective. By the end of the sixth class, I was swimming the same stroke longer and better. One-third of the way into tonight’s final class, I swam 850 meters (17 laps or 1/2 mile) in 20 minutes plus a 200 meter warm up. I was exhausted but elated.

Unfortunately, I missed the penultimate class last week, otherwise I would have known that tonight’s class was the “Triathlon Transition” class: 20 minute swim, 20 minute bike ride, 20 minute run. I wish I had known because now my interest is really peaked.

I feel ready and capable of doing the swimming portion; in fact, the local pond I swim at is having an open, non-competitive swim this weekend and I plan to do it. Over Memorial Day, I cajoled my family (well, really just my DH, since we’re the pack animals for our two half-pint, non-peddlers) to bike the entire Cape Cod Canal (all 14 miles) with me. The running piece, well, that’s my weak link I guess but did I mention I have two young kids?

My triathlete friend from the Y just registered for an all-women sprint this fall. She’s encouraging me to do it too. It’s only a 1/4 mi swim, 10 mi bike ride and 3.4 mi run, surely, if I have a few drinks, I can get myself registered…right? Now if only I can talk my cousin into joining me…

What do you think? Have you ever set your mind on something yet managed to avoid it like the Bubonic Plague? Do you think I should go for it in September or cheer my friend on and start training this Fall?

17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nikki
    Jun 24, 2011 @ 07:32:23

    You make me want to sign up too. Fortunately, I have a great excuse – we’ll be in Nashville for my law’s wedding. Best of luck and I say go for it!


  2. Elizabeth Moulds
    Jun 24, 2011 @ 09:06:56

    You should go for it!! Running’s the easy part – you learned that first. 🙂


  3. slightlywonky
    Jun 24, 2011 @ 21:15:48

    Kai!!!! WOW!!! So amazing! Yes, I think that if you SIGN UP for that triathalon, you will do it. It sounds daunting, but you can already bike 10 miles, and can already swim 1/2 a mile, right? I know…doing all three at once is the challenge, but you have time…even if you have to walk the last mile WHO CARES! Perhaps look at your schedule now, and figure out how much you need to train each week…then, get that into the schedule. Seriously, when you get suited up this September, put your number on your back at the start of the race, hear your friends and family cheering you on, you’ll be so proud of yourself. Make it a priority for this summer. you can do it!


    • growingmuses
      Nov 21, 2011 @ 14:42:23

      ell, boo hoo, here it is November and I never made it into that Tri. I missed the registration cap (they filled up before I got in). Th good news is, I am so totally in to entering one this coming year, I just need to find the right time and place (of which there never is, right?) So wish me luck, the training has begun in earnest and I WILL do a triathlon before I’m 40!! (12 months to go)


  4. Wendy Lawrence
    Jun 24, 2011 @ 21:47:34

    Yes! Do it! I did my first triathlon two years ago (a sprint distance) and, after the birth of boy#2 in March, am going to do it again in August. It was SO much fun. And let me tell you, I am SLOW. My dad made fun of my speed (or lack thereof) all growing up; my husband does it now. But it doesn’t matter! In these short events, at least the one I did, people are so friendly. I got a lot of encouraging words and very sincere smiles as people passed me on the bike part and left me in the dust. 🙂

    AND you feel so good when you finish, even if I did have to walk have of the 3 mile run. (Like you, I am also a water person, although my last Master’s swim class was not taught by an Olympic coach.) 🙂


    • growingmuses
      Jul 03, 2011 @ 15:43:34

      That’s so terrific! You must feel very proud and accomplished. So how were they? What sort o training did you do leading up to them? How long did you train? Do you think I can prepare for one in just 9 weeks? I guess, as a mom of two boys, you probably need to be a triathlete just to keep up, eh? Thanks for reading and for the encouragement. I’m sorry it took me so long to respond.


  5. Karyn @ kloppenmum
    Jun 25, 2011 @ 20:39:23

    Swimming is my zen too! I think about triathalons and then the thought of running breaks my spirit…perhaps if someone invented one with just swimming and biking…Anyhoo – I reckon you should go for it…what have you got to lose?


    • growingmuses
      Jul 03, 2011 @ 15:50:38

      Karyn, I’m so with you on the running front, we can all do it but some of us just REALLY don’t like to, which is a shame. If only I could get my sorry carcass out of bed each morning and take a jog, I probably wouldn’t need my gym membership. Although, that said, I did drag myself out of bed just yesterday, in hopes that maybe the run really WOULD break my spirit and then I wouldn’t have to sign up for this triathlon afterall…Guess what? I ran more than two miles (4K) effortlessly and without stopping so now I’ve “run” out of excuses. You know what Nike would have to say about that, don’t ya? (incidentally, I am VERY sore today…I think I’m getting old)


  6. Elizabeth Peltz
    Jun 28, 2011 @ 18:34:04

    Wow, I’m so honored to get a mention in your thoughtful blog, thanks for your kind words!
    As for the triathlon – DO IT! You can obviously already complete all the distances for a sprint, and you can probably already do all the events together, but participating in an actual triathlon is the fun part. Nothing is more empowering, and the women’s events are very special. If I can, I’ll be there!

    Sounds like you found the perfect swim class/ coach too – way to go! How was the open water swim last weekend? I can’t tell you what a challenge swimming, especially in open water, is for me. It took me years to swim half a mile – in a pool – then another lifetime to be able to swim in open water. My earth element is definitely bone dry, but if I can overcome that, you can indeed complete a triathlon in September – SIGN UP NOW!


    • growingmuses
      Jul 03, 2011 @ 15:57:33

      Well, if your earth element is bone dry, aside from the copious amounts of snow you get in CO, looks like you’ve chosen a pretty good place to settle. I won’t really hold you to coming out and doing the Title 9 with me but I’d love if you’d at least come to Canada this year and practice the swim and run with me (in between swilling beer and downing fried fish, potatoes and baked beans of course ;o)…it’s four weeks before the race.

      If I survive this one in Sept…would you be up for doing one together next year? Perhaps we could find an all-women one somewhere in a more neutral, mutual location and train (virtually) together? I would love that so much!


      • Elizabeth Peltz
        Jul 14, 2011 @ 13:12:03

        I’ve often thought Canada would be a great place for triathlon training… lots of opportunity to practice swimming in (warm) open water and great running too. Unfortunately, we are not going to make it (again) this year.

        I’m sure you’ll do more than “survive” in September, so I’m definitely up to do a race together next summer. Perhaps we could find one in Boston or Philadelphia just before Nick’s wedding? Happy training!

  7. Susie @newdaynewlesson
    Nov 20, 2011 @ 13:58:58

    I keep talking about doing a triathalon too. Maybe send your friend to me? 🙂


  8. Trackback: Tri, Tri Again | Growing Muses

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