End of an Era

When I signed up for my first triathlon in 2013, I did it through Team Fight, the athletic fundraising arm of the Ulman Cancer Fund.  I’ve been a member of Team Fight each year since, and will continue to be on the team for years to come, I’m sure.  It’s a great cause and I’m proud to fundraise for them.

One perk to team membership was team swim, held once a week at the pool of a local community college.  Our two volunteer coaches taught us proper swim form (and in some cases, taught complete newbies how to swim).  They showed up with workouts, put up with our moaning and groaning, and made triathlon fun.

Even better was the camaraderie that developed among the team members.  Over the past few years, I have met the most amazing people through Team Fight, people who I hope will be lifelong friends.  Knowing that my friends were expecting me made it that much easier to show up at practice.

Unfortunately, on Tuesday, just hours before practice, we received an email that this was our final practice.  The college had increased the rate to rent the pool and it wasn’t worth it for a charity team. Due to the timing of the email, a lot of the team members weren’t able to make the final practice – with big races over the past two weeks, a lot of people are in recovery mode.  So the final crew was a small one, but we were mighty.  It was a bit bittersweet to see this tradition end, but I am hopeful that we will find a new venue.  If nothing else, we’re going to get together and swim, maybe not every week, but often enough that we don’t miss each other too much.

Wednesday Workout Recap

Last week was another big week of training, gearing up to my last triathlon of the season.  We also had an eclipse last week.  Seems pretty long ago, doesn’t it?

Monday – Eclipse Day.  This was a rest day for me.  It was also my telework day, and late in the afternoon, when the network went down, I decided to take advantage of the time of day and went to the pool to get in my Tuesday swim.

Tuesday – Took my rest day here.  And it was glorious.

Wednesday – FTP test.  This didn’t go well.  I just didn’t have any energy for it, and about 15 minutes into the 20 minute test, couldn’t hold my watts, so I decided to stop the test and just continue by riding hard and finishing out the workout.  I didn’t even bother to look at the stats, just decided that my I probably wasn’t fully recovered from the weekend and chose to not worry about it.

Thursday – 4 mile run

Friday – 2000m swim.  Got to do this in an outdoor 50m pool, which made it seem faster, but in fact I was sooooo much slower.  I think I was just being lazy since I didn’t feel as rushed – at my normal pool, I’m pushing to get done so I can get on the road to work and miss the worst of the traffic.  This pool (only open early during the 2 weeks when my main pool is closed) is located such that a few minutes here or there doesn’t affect traffic.

Saturday – Got up super early to get my 2 hour ride/2 mile run in before going out for dim sum with some friends.  Worth it.

Sunday – 8 mile run.  It was a gorgeous day to be outside.  I’m ready for the cooler weather (but not so much for the snow just yet).

 

Summer’s End

(For everyone watching the images out of Houston and wondering what they can do, there are a number of awesome places where you can donate money.  Check out this list and remember that every little bit helps.)

scross2601 / Pixabay

I was at a choir rehearsal last night and someone mentioned that summer was almost over.  I was completely surprised by this statement.  Summer isn’t over!  Summer can’t be over!  It’s much too soon.

But this weekend is Labor Day weekend, which is the traditional end of summer.  Kids are already back in school.  The official start of fall isn’t until September 22, but I guess I have to accept that the summer is ending.

I think part of my denial has to do with the fact that my summer isn’t over!  I consider triathlon to be my summer sport, and I have one more race this season, the weekend after Labor Day.  I also haven’t yet taken my summer vacation – that happens later in September.  So in my mind, summer still has an entire month to go.

But fall brings some awesome things.  Like sweaters and not having to wake up before dawn to get in a run before the temperatures reach ridiculous levels.  Fall also means more road races (including some of my favorites) and holidays and football.  Fall means holiday scents and tastes (maybe not pumpkin spice EVERYTHING, but the Cheerios are so tasty).  So maybe I am ready for fall.

Don’t Be Gross – Wash Your Workout Gear

DavidZattarin / Pixabay

On a popular Facebook forum this week, someone posted a question – Do you re-wear your workout gear or do you wash it every time?

People, I was horrified to see all the people posting about re-wearing workout gear.  And I’m not just talking about shirts.  People were wearing bike shorts and sports bras and pants more than once before washing.

I’m no clean freak, but this is unacceptable.  And gross.  And I’m not just talking about the smell.  Because let’s be honest, if you’re working out at home alone, the only one who cares if you smell is you.  And a little BO offending the nostrils never killed anyone.

No, my concern here is all of the other bacteria and dirt that is collecting in your clothing that you’re just putting back onto your body.  Say you do a workout and you then hang your clothes up to dry.  Well, all those fun little bacteria now on your clothes can hang out in that dampness and munch on the sweat and dirt (including oils from your skin and skin cells themselves) and multiply.  And then you put the clothes back on your body.  Let’s not even talk about what happens if you’ve been at the gym and picked up some strange bacteria in your clothes.

Now, this bacteria probably won’t kill you.  But it can lead to skin irritation, acne, and dermatitis, none of which are fun, and all of which can lead to bigger problems if not treated properly.  And if you already have irritated skin and introduce a colony of bacteria… well, I’m no scientist, but that seems like a bad plan.

And have you ever picked up an item of clothing that’s still a little damp from sweat and put it back on?  That can lead to a fungal infection, including yeast infections.  And don’t just think this is something the ladies get.  Have you heard of jock itch?  That’s a fungal infection, and it can end up throwing a party, typically in the groin area or the bra area (but it can happen anywhere).  Definitely not an experience that I would recommend.

My rule is this: If the clothing either 1) touched my skin or 2) got sweaty, it gets washed.  So if I’m wearing a jacket over a long sleeved shirt in the winter, that jacket is fine.  But if I’m wearing a long sleeved shirt over a short sleeved shirt, the sleeves of the top shirt also touched my skin so everything gets washed.

What if you don’t own enough workout gear to get you between trips to the laundromat?  Do you have a sink?  Wash your stuff in the sink.  I’ve been known to do this with sports bras because they are the item I own the fewest of.  It’s really not hard, I promise.

If you want to re-wear your jeans 10+ times before washing, go for it (unless they get sweaty or smell or you spill a plate of spaghetti on them).  But when it comes to your workout gear, throw that stuff into the wash.  No one wants a weird infection.

Volunteer Recap and Lessons Learned

This is the only picture I took all day. That’s how hard I was working. Also, I’m terrible at taking pictures.

On Sunday, I was up bright and early (wait, it was before bright and early) to volunteer at Iron Girl Columbia.  I had to be at the race site at 4:30, which meant leaving my house before 4.  I had friends telling me I was crazy, but really, it was something I needed to do.  I get so much from volunteers at races that I need to give back.  Besides, volunteering at races is so much fun!  (Except for that early thing.)

Iron Girl Columbia is a sprint distance race, and the race gets a lot of beginners, but don’t let that fool you – this course isn’t a waltz.  The swim is .62 miles, the bike is a hilly 16 miles, and the run is 3.5 miles.  So it’s longer than your average sprint.  But it’s a great challenge.

I worked at body marking until I destroyed two different markers, then headed to swim finish.  I definitely learned a lot about racing at swim finish.  I’ve worked at the finish before, but I’m usually further back.  This time, I was at the edge of the water.  There were a bunch of people stationed at swim finish, and we’re definitely ready to deal with a lot of issues that come up.  Thankfully, we didn’t have to deal with any of them.

Well, there was one.  And ladies, I need to talk to you about this problem.  I was unaware it existed.

Our coordinator referred to it as “suit check” and then made his wife explain it.  Sometimes, women do the swim in looser fitting attire, and as they get out of the water, their top pulls down and there are boobs all over the place.  So we had to remind ladies to pull up their suits on many occasions.  I only got flashed once, so that’s a good thing.

But let’s give this some thought here.  If you’re doing the full race and not just the relay, you shouldn’t be wearing a top loose enough that it can fall down that much.  If you are, it’s clearly not supportive enough.  (I suppose there are likely women out there who don’t need a sports bra to run, but those were not the women we had to remind.)  Even if you’re wearing a sports bra, if you can fall out of it, it’s not the right size or shape for your body.

Yes, oftentimes when lady triathletes get out of the swim, they grab the top of their kit and bra and yank them up, because when you stand up and all that water drains out, it’s natural that your kit will pull down a bit.  But it shouldn’t actually be going anywhere significant.  I usually have to pull my top back up over my bra because it has slid down a bit, but the bra has gone nowhere.

So take a look at what you’re wearing and maybe consider something a bit more supportive.

Now, back to the race.  The volunteers at swim finish aren’t allowed to touch you, as that’s technically outside assistance.  The boat ramp was slippery in spots, and it was tough to not be able to reach out to help, but we wanted to follow the rules.  There was an older woman who I offered an arm to, and it wasn’t an issue, and if someone seriously needed help, we obviously would have provided it.

Unfortunately, this race had a hard time cutoff for the end of the swim, and there were still some ladies making their way in.  The last two ladies out of the water before the cutoff were probably very confused as to why we were screaming so much at them to keep swimming and practically shoved them towards transition.  But once the cutoff hit, Kristin and I walked further into the water and offered assistance to the ladies getting out of the water.  They couldn’t be double DQed after all.  But it was heartbreaking to watch.  One woman had two spectators waiting for her, and they knew she hadn’t made the cutoff.  I very much appreciated that they weren’t angry at us, instead they just kept cheering.  The woman exited the water and started crying because she was so overwhelmed that she finished.  Her friends were hugging her and the volunteer captain came over to give her the bad news, at which point, she just started sobbing.  They were awesome to be there for her and remind her that she had finished the swim, and that was a huge accomplishment (and it is!)

A few of the other people were angry (understandable), and the poor volunteer coordinator had to deal with their anger.  If you find yourself in this situation, remember that the volunteers aren’t the ones who made the rules.  In this case, it came from the police – we couldn’t let any cyclists out onto the road after a certain time.  The volunteers just often end up being the ones who have to give the info.

After swim finish, Kristin and I headed to the run course to cheer.  After about an hour of this, my energy was seriously flagging.  I had wanted to be there for the end of the race, but I was exhausted, and ended up leaving a little after 11.  I still had a great time and was so glad that I took the time to volunteer.  I’m definitely putting the race on my schedule for next year to volunteer again.