Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Taking the Plunge

If you missed my tweet on twitter (and if you aren't following me you should @couch2ironwoman) and if you don't check my Upcoming Races page then you may not be aware that Mike and I signed up for our first triathlon recently!

Source: google.com via Jamie on Pinterest



On June 3rd we will become triathletes at the Keuka Lake Triathlon! This won't be our first multi-sport event though, we are going to do a local duathlon on May 19th, but a triathlon feels more real. I'm not sure why, maybe because you do all three events and not just two? I know, how logical of me.

So I hope you don't mind that soon this blog isn't going to be just about running! It was going to happen eventually and I hope that I can convince some of you to come over to the dark side with us!

When we tell people that we are going to do triathlons and, hopefully, an Ironman one of the most common responses we hear is that people are afraid of the swimming part. As former swimmers, Mike and I have the technique down and we just need to get back into swimming shape and work on our endurance.

While some people are afraid because they aren't very strong swimmers, I think more people are afraid because it is OPEN water swimming and that is vastly different than from the comfort of a swimming pool. In this article from the Bangor Daily News (taken from the Washington Post), the author points to panic attacks during the swim leg as the cause of the recent deaths during triathlons. There may have been other causes, but I have to agree to some extent. Swimming is the one leg of a triathlon that the majority of training does not occur in the same environment as race day and any triathlete could be consumed with nervous thoughts.

Mike and I have both swum in open water races and I don't think that we will have a problem with anxiety attacks, but we are going to have to do some open water training swims.


Mike with his triathlon team (he did the swim leg) in 2003

I'm not sure where we will do it because Lake Ontario (thanks Ali for noticing the typo) is pretty nasty (in Rochester anyway) and even though I have gone up to my thighs in it, I'm not about to stick my head under the water.


The first time I swam in an open water race it did not go very well. I was in fifth grade and I had glasses. I did wear prescription goggles for awhile, but my eyes eventually got so bad that they didn't make them in my prescription anymore. I got contacts soon after because it became difficult to function!

You can't see me (I'm behind someone)


Eating after, I'm in the front

During this race, I did so horribly I came in last place! People on my team who I normally beat, beat me by so much because I went in the wrong direction. I couldn't see! A guy on a kayak had to guide me back to the right course and I eventually finished. I think it would be safe to say that after that experience I really didn't like open water swimming.

After getting contacts, I swam in another open water race and I did much better! Open water swimming wasn't something that I did often, we only did it when our swim team went to Florida, but with more practice I'm sure I would have liked it even more.

My advice for people who are nervous about open water swimming, would be to practice, practice, practice! Also, drafting is legal on the swim portion, unlike the bike leg, so try to keep other feet in your line of sight and check where you are every so often. Hopefully I remember these tips on race day, I will be a little bit nervous because it will be our first triathlon! Admittedly, I'm more nervous about the bike portion than the swimming portion.

How do you feel about open water swimming? Any triathletes out there with tips for newbies?

14 comments:

  1. Noooo. Don't go over to the darkside.

    Stay with me, in the sunny wonderful side!

    But if you must be crazy and compete in tri's, I won't abandon you. And when you get sick of it, I'll welcome you back! :P

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    1. Haha sorry Rena! We will still do road races, don't worry!

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  2. That's you in the pink shirt and jumper, Jamie? How old were you? As you probably already know, I know nothing about open water swimming(and probably will never be doing it!). I'll leave that up to you guys!!

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    1. No I'm in the front, on the ground.

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  3. Yay for signing up! I am one of the many scared of the open water swim. :) I love that you both have a swimming background, that will be a huge help! I am tempted to try a tri at some point, we'll see!

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    1. Thanks Laura, we're excited! Our swimming background will definitely help which is why we aren't too nervous about it. I hope you do try a tri sometime!

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  4. that's so funny that you guys call it "ontario Lake" we call is "lake ontario" :P and it WAS super gross (as I used to work on the watershed) but it has come a long way, though still not in all areas. I'd just try to wear goggles and keep the water out of my mouth. Open water is so scary and the swimming would be what would scare me too!

    So cool though, you guys are my heros!!!!

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    1. I have NEVER heard it called "ontario lake"!! I'm thinking (and hoping) that was a typo! :p

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    2. Haha WHOOPS!! I should fix that...

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    3. Oh - that's even funnier....here I was thinking that Americans had a different name for it ;) ahhaha

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  5. Congrats into your first triathlon foray! You must be so excited. I can definitely relate to the open water swim fear - not a fan. And I'd be afraid of being kicked. Also, I'm not sure I could completely dedicate myself to the training aspect of a triathlon because I'd feel like I am spreading myself too thin, especially since I don't have a swimming background like the both of you. Soooo, I'm just going to stick to running and maybe delve into ultras over the next few years. :)

    I was going to contact you because we were in Rochester Mon-Tues but we got in after 10PM on Mon. night and were exhausted. Maybe the next time we are out that way!

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    1. Nothing wrong with just running! I would love to do an ultra someday if I could!

      That's alright I definitely understand, next time!

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  6. Love seeing the old swim photos...you guys will do just great as triathletes!!

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