I should probably stop planning races

I’ve been joking that in 2018, my body decided to fall apart.  Labral tear, ovarian cyst, and just lots of random aches and pains, mostly related to recovering from the tear and from surgery.  Last week, for example, my back randomly went into a spasm and it still kind of hurts over a week later.  Getting old sucks.

This weekend, I tracked a bunch of friends doing various races, from marathons to 70.3s to 140.6s, and it was just another reminder of why I love racing so much.  It was so fun to see the alerts pop up on my phone or photos from spectators showing up on social media.  I loved seeing everyone’s post-race posts.  Some people set PRs and met personal goals, others struggled, and a few ended up with DNFs.  But everyone was so very positive. Sometimes, a race goes great and sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, your race goes wrong.  I’m so proud of everyone, but especially those who chose to stop when they realized that continuing meant risking harm to themselves.

I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not I want to race a 70.3 next year.  It’s a lot of training.  I did one in 2016, and loved it, but took 2017 off because I couldn’t make things work with my schedule.  I kind of regretted that decision, which was why I was scheduled to race 70.3 Chattanooga this May.  My body falling apart took that off the table.  And I still have a ways to go to be back in the shape I was this time last year, so part of me says to take another year.

The other part of me says “GO FOR IT!”  My recovery is going well and there is no indication that I won’t be able to race long a year from now.  I’ve got multiple double-digit run races already on the calendar for this year, and it’s the run where I’ve got the most work to do.  The next couple of months will certainly give me a good idea of where I’m at recovery wise and if it’s a good idea to try to race.

Honestly, I think my body will be fine.  The big question is whether I want to put in the time.  Training for a  70.3 is no joke.  It’s especially no joke when you’re a slower racer.  It’s a lot of hours.

But I do want the camaraderie that comes with a big race.  I want the challenge and the rush of the finish.

Let’s be honest. I’m going to end up signing up for something big.  I just have to figure out what.

The Plastic Straw Ban and Reducing Waste

bridgesward / Pixabay

On social media, there has been a lot of discussion about cities banning plastic straws.  After seeing the video of a straw being pulled out of a turtle’s nose (?), this seemed like a good idea.  After all, do we really need plastic straws?  And places like Disney’s Animal Kingdom and many zoos already use paper straws.  Why don’t we go that route?

Very quickly, I learned how wrong that thinking was.  I was ignoring the needs of those with disabilities.  Many people struggle to drink without straws.  And I know what you’re thinking.  “Well, those people should bring their own straws.”  And I’m sure some do.  But that can be easier said than done.

Right now, stainless steel straws are all the rage.  I have them.  I like them.  But stainless steel straws can cause issues.  They’re hard.  If you don’t have full control of your head or neck, or have issues with your jaw clamping down, you could injure yourself with a stainless steel straw.  I’m not sure I’d give a drink to a kid with a stainless steel straw, that’s for sure.

Okay, so they make silicone straws.  That should solve a lot of the above mentioned problems, right?  Yes.  Except that reusable straws, while easy for me to clean, are not so easy to clean for people with mobility issues.  Getting a little brush to go into the small hole of a straw can be a challenge.  And that also assumes that the person has the energy to clean it at the end of the day.

And I’m sure many people reading this are thinking “Okay, but there are ways around all of this.”  And while that’s technically true, should we be making it even harder for people with disabilities to function in the world?

Paper straws also aren’t perfect.  They do start to disintegrate.  If a person’s jaw tends to clamp down, they can quickly destroy the straw before finishing their beverage.  And have you watched a kid with a paper straw?  Doesn’t always go so well.

A better solution would be for straws to be available upon request, or simply offered instead of automatically given.  Then if someone needs a straw, they can get one, but maybe fewer people will take the straw.

Also, are we over-demonizing straws?  Any plastic waste is bad, but I’m pretty sure there are many other items that are creating even more plastic waste than straw use.

I’ve become fascinated by people who have reduced their trash so much that they can put six months worth of garbage into a mason jar.

I will never be one of those people.

However, I can make smarter choices in what and how I buy.  I can be sure to recycle everything that’s recyclable and compost everything that’s compostable.  I can be better about bringing my reusable bags to the store.  I can use cloth bags for produce instead of plastic.  I can use cloth instead of paper napkins and paper towels.

And I can try to say no when offered a straw at a restaurant.  (Besides, some studies have shown that drinking from straws can lead to early wrinkles around your mouth, and I certainly don’t want that!)


Another OWS Practice

This weekend, I had an opportunity for an open water swim practice, so I took it.  In general, I think every triathlete should get in as much OWS practice as possible.  Swimming in open water is incredibly different from swimming in the pool.  Obviously, pool work is important too, but I’ve seen so many triathletes end up panicking during their races because they haven’t spent much time in open water.

There are some clear differences between open water swimming and pool swimming:

  • pools have lines on the bottom to follow
  • pool water is typically much clearer
  • no plant matter attacking from the deep
  • pool lanes are short, maybe a max of 50m before you get to turn around and push off the wall

But in addition, a true open water experience also involves a big variable – other swimmers.  In the pool, you might be splitting a lane or circle swimming, but there’s generally a lot of consideration for the shared space (except for you, annoying butterfly guy).   However, in open water, it’s every man for himself.

For the most part, I don’t think the “contact” in open water is intentional.  I don’t intend to run into people while I’m swimming.  But it happens.  Someone slower ends up in front of you.  Someone faster ends up behind you.  People aren’t swimming straight lines.  Current pushes you into someone else.

If you’re freaked about contact with other swimmers, the advice is typically to swim wide.  The further you are from the straight lines between buoys, the fewer swimmers you will encounter.  Of course, you will also be making your swim that much longer.  So the best thing to do is practice.  What will you do if you find you’re running into someone?

Some people will tell you “Well, just swim over them.”  That’s not really my style, plus it’s rare that I’m coming upon someone who is that much slower than me that I’m able to pass them that quickly.  I just try to alter my course a bit to get around.  I’ve gotten stuck behind someone who is swimming in a zig-zag motion and had to really go wide to get past.  I’ve also been touched and clobbered by other swimmers.  It happens and you just deal with it.

However, the first time you encounter this, it’s definitely jarring.  So the best advice I have is to go to an open water practice.  If there isn’t an organized practice around you, get together a group of friends and get in the water.  No open water for you to practice?  Then get in a pool lane with six of your friends and get swimming.  Or find a bunch of kids who are willing to hit you with pool noodles while you swim laps.  I’m sure they’ll be happy to do so.

The more you get used to open water swimming, the easier it gets.  It’s probably the part of triathlon that gets the least amount of practice but has the best chance of derailing your race.  So get out there and practice.

Weekly Workout Recap and Updates

First off, I’m excited to finally get to announce that I’m now part of the BibRave Pro team!  If you’re not already familiar with BibRave, you should certainly check it out.  It’s an amazing place to check out race reviews (and write your own).  I know that when I’m considering a new race, one of the first things I do is check out what other people have had to say about the race, and BibRave has quickly become one of my favorite places to research.  I’m excited to join the team (especially now that I’m racing again) and look forward to sharing the experience with you!  I’ve got a new discounts page that you can find in my header menu where I will be sharing all sorts of race and product discounts.

Apparently I can only get all greens during a recovery week.

Last week was my race recovery week and it went so well.  Look at all that green in my training plan.  It’s rare that I don’t have at least one yellow (almost always due to a slow swim) so that beautiful week of green makes me happy.

Monday – Rest day!  Well, driving home from race day and doing laundry day.  But no exercise, so it’s a win.

Tuesday – Easy run/walk.  I had a bit of residual tightness.  As I’ve gotten a lot of the major muscle groups strengthened in my legs/hips/glutes, a few pesky muscles have decided to make themselves known.

Wednesday – Trainer ride.  This was a reminder that it is a recovery week.  These were some tough intervals.

Thursday – Easy run/walk.  Much easier than Tuesday.

Friday – Swimming!  I think I may have a new favorite pool.  It’s not as enjoyable of an experience, but I also don’t have to fight for a lane at 6am, so I may be switching my pool allegiance once my pass is used up.

Saturday – Trainer ride.  I considered going outside and blatantly didn’t.  Instead I rode inside and watched Coco and did not understand why people cried, then sobbed while doing my PT exercises as I finished up the movie.


Boom.  All green, all done, no pain.  Gotta up that run game though.  Slow and steady.

So What’s Next – Labral Tear Recovery and More Racing?

Kanenori / Pixabay

A week out from my race and I feel pretty darn great.  I’m actually really impressed with how well I recovered.  I wasn’t overly sore after the race at all – something I was definitely worried about.  A little soreness is expected and good, but I was worried that I would feel the weakness in my left side after the race, and I didn’t!

Some of this is, of course, due to smart recovery.  I foam rolled.  I stretched.  I hit the sore spots with a massage ball.  All the things I hate doing, I did them all.

But it’s also a sign of how well my labral tear rehab is going.  My PT was so pleased that I have officially been released to PT every other week, soon going to “as needed.”  That’s huge!

Now, it doesn’t mean I’m fixed.  As I’ve said before, without surgery, this will never be fixed.  But at this point, my PT exercises are pretty much routine.  I don’t have to do them daily, but I try to, simply because it’s a given that I will miss a day here and there, so aiming for every day is just easier.  Now that I’m in the habit, it doesn’t make sense to change.  It’s not like I’m going to overdo it by doing 7 days instead of 4-5.

One unexpected benefit to the exercises – apparently my butt looks better in my tri shorts.  Not what I was going for, but I’ll take it.

I’m also going to race again this summer!  I was holding off on registering for anything because I wanted to see how Williamsburg went, not only with the race itself but also with the recovery.  With two big gold stars there, it’s time to look forward.

So next up, I’m going to register for Giant Acorn Oly at the end of September.  This was my first olympic distance race, and I love the location.  It’s a much more challenging course, so I won’t be anywhere near as fast, but I should still be okay when it comes to the time cutoffs.

(I’m also tempted by Patriots Oly at the beginning of September, but haven’t decided on that one.  I’m going on a two week vacation mid-August, and don’t know that leaping right from that to racing is the best plan.)

I do still need to work on increasing my run distance.  After all, just because I did a 10k doesn’t mean I’m anywhere near ready for Army Ten Miler or Space Coast Half.   But I’ll get there!