Last Post Before Boston!!!!

I said that yesterday too. I lied. I am not lying today.

Just a quick post to answer some questions before I head off to job #2 and then try to catch a few hours sleep before heading off to Beantown ūüôā¬†

What is my number for the 5K? 99.  I love it! 

What am I wearing? I will be in my gray/pink Brooks shorts and black long sleeves with my brand new pink¬†“Runs Well With Others Shirt” that I got from winning Denise’s give-a-way.¬† I just got it in the mail today and I am so excited!¬† Yeah…I am breaking the rules and wearing something new for racing, but I justify it because A- I am wearing a shirt I have worn under it and B- it’s only a 5K.¬† Gotta look cute ūüôā

What is my anticipated 5K time? I don’t have one.¬† I have a time I would like to beat for 5k’s in general this year…but this is Boston.¬† I may never run this 5k again…I want to take everything in and have a good time.¬† I anticipate I will be around the 30-minute mark…little less, little more…depends on how many people I see along the way and how often I stop for photos!

What are my plans for the weekend? I arrive tomorrow morning.  After settling into the hotel, my mom and I will probably grab lunch and then hit up the expo.  I will definitely be there around 3-4pm because I want to hear Matt Long speak.  I plan to spend a lot of time at the expo. And money.  Other than the expo and the 5k, my only other plans are to sightsee around Boston with mom, meet up with as many people as possible (I am attending the Brunch at Stephanies at Newbury Sat after the 5K), spectate the marathon and take a ridiculous amount of photos!   

Where will I be during the marathon? I plan to be around the 5K mark and the 10K mark for a period of time.¬† At different points I’ll probably be with different people but will end up somewhere near the finish to watch you all come through!¬† If you are playing even the slightest bit of attention to spectators, you will see me.¬† I’ll be wearing a Finishing=Winning shirt, holding my sign and cheering on like mad!

How long am I staying in Boston? Our flight leaves Monday night.¬† I’ll have a little time after the race (you reading this Meg and Lindsay!) but then it’s off to the airport!

Hope to see you all there ūüôā¬†


I am not bringing my laptop with me, so I anticipate having 3429874 posts to catch up on upon my return…between reading and writing and working, I might be a little MIA…hope to catch up with you all by next weekend!

Swimming 101- Questions Answered

Ack, the last swimming 101 was in May…cannot believe how fast time goes!¬† After I¬†wrote the first three¬†Swimming 101 posts, I got many questions either through comments or email.¬† The 4th swimming 101 (this one) was supposed to be about workouts, OWS and what to wear when swimming…but I have decided to incorporate that into this, since questions about those topics have been asked.¬† I hope that, after reading more about swimming, some of you who have yet to take the plunge, will.¬† And above all, I hope you have learned something ūüôā

How much should you be swimming weekly to be ready for a tri?  How long should I swim at the pool each time I go?

The answer to this really depends on your current swim ability and also the distance of your intended race swim.  Since the nature of this post is for beginners I will use the example of a first time triathlete doing a 1/4 mile swim.

You should be able to easily swim at least 100 meters more than the race swim.  Therefore if your race is 400 meter swim, you should be able to swim 500 meters without problems.  

If your goal is to simply finish the race, then you could probably get away with swimming once or twice a week.  Some people swim for time and others distance.  I prefer to swim distances; I lay out a plan and accommodate enough time to fit in my determined distance.  My swims are almost always a combination of free swims and drills that range anywhere between 25 minutes to an hour, usually twice a week.

Remember that in a pool you are able to push-off the walls, stop at turnarounds and stand if needed.  While the pool is a great place to practice, it is not indicative of race conditions.  I highly advise against going into your first race (unless it is a pool swim) without having OWS practice.  And if/when you do a OWS, never swim alone!

Can you doggy paddle in a tri?

You can swim however you want- whatever gets you from point A to point B safely.  Of course the freestyle stroke is the fastest and also the most effective swim, but if you doggy paddle your way through that is just fine!

Do you have recommendations for goggles, swim caps, wetsuits and bathing suits?

I can only tell you what I use; each person is different and it is important to find out what you are comfortable using. 

The best goggles I have ever used are the ones I currently have, the AquaSphere¬†Kayenne’s.¬† They stay on tight, without hurting and don’t leak.¬† You don’t have to spend a ton of money on the best goggles (mine were $22) but remember if you get your goggles for $5 at the local general store, you get what you pay for.

For bathing suits, I tend to stick with Speedo¬†and TYR.¬† They are well-made, comfortable and affordable.¬† Personally, I like to wear a one-piece but many triathletes¬†wear two-pieces.¬† (Sorry dudes, I have no swimsuit advice for you!)¬† I cannot really help with wetsuits, as I have only ever used one, but I can say I love mine.¬† I have a Xterra sleeveless, that I got on sale at, and I really like the fit and comfort.¬† If you don’t want to purchase¬†a wetsuit before knowing if you will like wearing one, many places rent them out to try.

As for the swim caps, I use the ones I have gotten at races.¬† I think the first one I ever bought was a Speedo but I tend to think a swim cap is a swim cap.¬† During a race you will be given one to wear, so this is not something to spend a lot of time/money on.¬† The one thing I will say is this…for cold weather swimming (as I learned in Black Bear) a neoprene swim cap is a life-saver!¬† I would highly recommend that if you plan to be in cold water.

Do you need a tri suit or can you just wear a bathing suit?

Tri suits are great because they are made for the athlete to swim-bike-run comfortably.¬† In my personal opinion, for Sprint tri’s, they are not necessary.¬† I typically wear a bathing suit with shorts over them; I never have a problem and I am totally comfortable.¬† I would however recommend¬†a tri suit¬†for longer races, especially because after 20 miles or so on the bike you will wish you had one!¬†

Do I have to have equipment such as paddles or a kickboard to workout in the pool?

While equipment is great to help strengthen your swim muscles and ultimately make you a better swimmer, it is not necessary in order to complete a great pool workout.  In fact, for beginners, it is probably better to start out slow and work your way into incorporating the equipment into your workouts. 

What kind of workouts should you do in a pool to be a better open water swimmer?

In addition to the workouts you should already be doing, speed-sets and drill-sets, there are specific things you can do in a pool that help train for open water.  Here are a few drills that I have used to help me in the open water:

When swimming in a pool,¬†every wall is a chance to rest and recover before the next lap. However,¬†out in the open water¬†there¬†aren’t any walls.¬† A good way to help adjust to this is by doing a swim without touching the wall.¬† Instead of turning at the wall, flip at the end of the underwater lane marker.¬† You will be forced to use your arms and legs to get moving again.

Unlike in a pool, there are no lane lines in open water.  You have to learn how to sight and stay straight in the open water so you do not add work to your swim by heading off into the wrong direction.  A good way to practice this in the pool is to swim with your eyes closed (having a friend there helps with this one) for 8-10 strokes, and lift your head to sight.  The most efficient way to do this is to raise your head up as your arm extends forward in the water.  As you press your arm back down, your head will life more naturally.  If you notice you always tend to swim one way in the wrong direction, attempt to find out what the imbalance is; it almost always comes down to incorrect stroke mechanics. 

Practice turning while swimming.¬† An open water swim will have at least one turn if not as many as three or four.¬† Turns are tight and¬†require a more choppy stroke.¬† Choose an item to be your “buoy” or just pretend one is there and in the middle of a lane, make a turn.¬† For easier turning (and to help with sighting) breath to the side of the object of which you are turning.¬† Practice also transitioning back into bilateral breating after the turn.

Learn to breathe bilaterally.¬† I personally feel that this is the most important skill to practice for open water.¬† To breathe bilaterally means to breath every third stroke; many people breathe either to just the right, or just the left…with bilateral breathing you are alternating the left and the right.¬† (I tend to breathe only to my right and will attest that while this was a hard skill to teach myself, it has made a huge difference in my swim.)¬†

Don’t forget, nothing is like the real thing; doing the above in a pool is great but in order to experience open water, you must get into the open water!

Do you have to wear a wetsuit?  When should you wear a wetsuit?

In races where the water temperature is 84degrees or below, the wetsuit is optional.  It is never mandatory to wear a wetsuit; you never have to wear one.  But if you do wear one, you will benefit from it for sure.  Regardless of your swim ability, the time is takes getting the wetsuit off in transition will surely be made up in your faster swim time.  The wetsuit adds buoyancy and helps you to glide faster through the water.  Personally, I wear mine for cold swims and swims longer than 800 meters.  Even for a strong swimmer like myself, it just makes me feel better to have one on during longer swims.  And a tip for helping to get the wetsuit on and off- load up on the body glide, especially around the feet! 

Do you get a DQ or penalty if you use the help of a guard at a race?

If you get nervous or tired and need a rest, find a lifeguard (usually in a kayak or on a wakeboard) and hang on to get yourself together.  You can grab onto a kayak to fix your wetsuit, goggles or to simply catch your breath.  You can stop and rest as much as you want during the swim, but you cannot interfere with the progress of other swimmers nor can you use the kayaks or buoys to gain progress on the course.

If you find yourself in trouble during a race and cannot get to a lifeguard, raise your hand as high as you can and yell out.  Do not be embarrassed and if you are in trouble do not wait to ask for help.  Get a lifeguard to come over at the first sign of distress.  Just because you call over a lifeguard, does not mean you will get a DQ.  Typically, the lifeguard will determine with you if you are okay to continue the race.  The only two ways you get a DQ is if you do not finish within the time limits (vary from race to race) or if the lifeguard determines (or you decide) you need to get into the lifeboat.

 How can you avoid contact with others in the water during a race?

The truth is, there is no way to avoid contact in the swim.¬† Hanging back at the start will help, but only if the next wave isn’t starting right away.¬† During a tri, every swimmer has their arms flapping and feet kicking.¬† Being prepared¬†for this is your best defense.¬† Whatever you do, don’t¬†panic.¬† Stay calm and swim out to the side or stop to let the swimmer go.¬†

What if I am the only beginner swimmer?

This will never happen ūüôā


If I missed any of your questions, or you think of one after reading this, please post in your comment and I will be sure to answer to the best of my abilities.  Additionally, if you have anything to add, please do!

Now…my challenges for you:

-Haven’t been in the water for a long time?¬† Start by just getting in.¬† Just swim around.¬† Simply enjoy being in the water.¬†

-Want to start actively swimming but still apprehensive?  Buy one good suit and a kickboard (or any pool toy).  Commit to one hour a week at the pool. 

-Been¬†swimming pretty regularly, want to do a triathlon, but still concerned about an¬†OWS?¬† Find¬†a race¬†that uses a pool for the swim and sign up for a race in 2011¬†ūüôā

-Feel¬†good about your swimming and comfortable with OWS but still haven’t done a tri…whatta ya waiting for, there is plenty of tri-season left, go sign up!!!

Are you going to accept the challenge?


(PS- HUGE Give-a-way coming soon ūüôā )

More Q&A

First of all- welcome new readers ūüôā

This post marks my 285th (I am a blogging machine lately…wasn’t it just my 200th?!?!) and I have been trying to decide what to do for my 300th post.¬† I am over give-a-ways for the time being and I already did a huge meme type thing for my last milestone.¬† I have a little something brewing from my Mom and best friend Jess, but I wanted something more.¬† So…what to do…what to do…I know- another Q&A post!¬†

Readers…if you have any questions you want to ask me, now is the time.¬† It can be about my life in general, my training or about running and tri’s in general.¬† Ask me anything ūüôā¬† And on my 300th post, I will answer them!

Picking The Q&A Theme

I’m baaaaaaaaack!¬† Did ya miss me?

If you missed it, check out my post from last week here about the start up of my new weekly Q&A feature.¬† Looks like quite a few of you are interested, so it is a go!¬† I have decided that it will be held on Monday’s for two reasons.¬† I think it is a good way to start the week and because Thursday is already a pretty busy day with¬†Three Things Thursday.¬† Additionally, as Jill pointed out, is TiaRT ever starts up again, we willl at least be on seperate days.¬†

As for the themes, I did not get as many suggestions as I had hoped but I have narrowed it down to three from the suggestions I was given (chosen by myself and some non-biased co-workers).  Whichever theme has the most votes at the end of the week (voting closes at 10am next Monday) will be the winner!  Check out the poll on my sidebar and cast your vote!

First Question will go out next week, along with the winner of the theme!

VA. Beach trip report tomorrow!  And waaaaaayyyy backed up on google reader- going to be skimming through but mostly starting over from yesterday.  If I missed anything super exciting, please let me know!!!

Posted in Q&A