Last week I was in the market for new swim goggles and silicon earplugs. I had lost my goggles somewhere, and they were the best ones I had ever used, so I needed to replace that exact brand and model.
Saanich Commonwealth Place (where I do most of my swimming) has a good swim shop. I selected a set of earplugs, but was having trouble finding the right goggles. There I was, peering at their selection, then digging in my swim bag to find the case for the old ones, just to make sure I got the exact same model. (Yes, they are that good. They are seriously comfortable, leak-free, fog-free goggles: AquaSphere Kaiman. Try them out if you’re in the market for swim gear.)
I asked the staff person for help. She couldn’t find that model either, so she offered to go look in the back. No luck. So I said thanks and left the store, on my way to the other really good swim shop downtown: HTO. There I found the goggles I wanted.
In among all this searching I forgot all about earplugs, but when I got home I discovered a new set in my bag. OMIGOSH I had taken earplugs form SCP without paying! Guilt! Shame! However, rather than drive all the way back to SCP, I decided to pay the next time I was there and the shop was open.
So today after swim practice I went to the shop and explained what had happened, and handed over my $5.50 for the purloined plugs. Transaction done, the staff member disappeared into a back office and I paused in the hallway looking at my phone. Presently there was a tap on my shoulder; it was the staff member.
“Thanks for doing that. You didn’t have to. Here, have two free passes for the facility,” she said, pressing two passes into my hand.
Photo: “What a Swim” by GasMunky, used with permission via Creative Commons license.
You know how I came to be a triathlete? I was a runner who had to start cycling and swimming because of injuries; it was a natural progression. These days, yet again, I am very glad I’m a multi-sport athlete.
A week and a half ago I was hiking Mount Finlayson with a friend. It was a foggy, wet day (although not raining). The trail was slippery in places, but otherwise OK. I had vibram-soled day hikers on; the same ones that have taken me up this hike, and others, many times.
We stopped at the top for some water and a photo, and started to make our way down. Not far from the summit, I stepped down. My foot twisted in, my leg twisted out, and in a heartbeat I was down on the ground writhing in pain.
My friend helped me hobble slowly down the mountain; but I fell two or three more times; my knee just gave way. At one point it made an audible, sickening crack sound, which was not (thank goodness) accompanied by pain. My doctor says it was probably my knee cap sub-luxating (or something like that). My physiotherapist says I kept falling because after that initial trauma my muscles were tensed up and not working properly.
The next day I hobbled to a walk-in clinic with my now-swollen knee and got an order for X-rays, tensor bandage, crutches, and ibuprofen.
It became apparent to me that my training plans are now put on hold. I spent last week trying to hold off a funky black cloud of misery, weight gain, longing for my bike, and longing to be out running trails, and being unable to even do household chores properly (pro tip gleaned from Twitter: hook a bag onto a crutch to carry things in. Pack food up like a picnic for taking it to the dining room to eat).
My friends were fantastic. Crystal came over to clean my place. Another friend took me out for dinner. I had offers of meals and help that I was so grateful for .. And my friend Yukari sent me a sweet note. All very welcomed and which brightened my spirits immeasurably. I drove up to the Cobble Hill 10k race to help out and cheer from my crutches on the sidelines. It was a gorgeous day and I was inspired to not lose hope.
First good news came a few days later when I saw my own doc. “Have I lost my triathlon season?” I asked her.
“No, no, not yet. I think you should heal. No broken bones, no ACL tear, possible meniscus tear, but we’ll know more after a month of physiotherapy.” So, I made an appointment with my sometime torturer – er – physiotherapist – Matt.
More good news after that first physio visit. Matt thinks it’s not torn, that it was a painful sprain/stretched ligament, and it’s on its way to recovery as long as I do a few things right. I can start spinning on the bike indoors for 10-15 minutes at NO tension. I can swim with light kicking (no paddle board, kick drills or frog kick). I have gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to do for the next 4 weeks.
The other interesting thing Matt said was to hold on to my crutches: either walk correctly (meaning slowly) or use them – but AVOID LIMPING at all costs. If I walk with a limp I’ll be teaching my body bad habits that I’ll just have to un-teach once things progress.
So – there it is. Hope reigns. Things are looking up. I might not get the times I hoped for, but it looks like I will be able to do all the events I signed up for on 2014:
April 27: TC 10K
May 25: Subaru Shawnigan Lake Triathlon (Sprint)
June 15: Subaru Victoria Triathlon (As the swim leg of TriStars Scrambled Legs Relay team-Olympic)
June 29: Tri of Compassion (Sprint)
July 13: Cowichan Challenge Triathlon (“Challenge” distance)
August 4: Self Transcendence Triathlon (Olympic)
Later in August: Maybe Tour de Victoria 140K, but entry fee $$$ is spendy!
October (if all goes well) – Victoria Half Marathon
UPDATE May 25: I have edited this post to take out the name and photograph of the person with whom I was hiking, because reasons.
Three weeks ago during my first open-water tri – the sprint distance at Shawnigan Lake – there were several achievements I left “locked” for next time. I think I did well in learning those lessons this time around, during the Subaru Victoria Triathlon.
Lesson #1: relax and trust your training
Achievement already unlocked 🙂
Yep – I got this one down. I was more excited than nervous going into this race, and having the Sprint under my belt helped. Also helped that the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for Sunday’s race: warm but not too warm and no wind with a few clouds.
I got butterflies the day before the race when I took my bike out to set up in transition area overnight, but those went away once I got in the water for our 10-10-10 pre-race workout (10 minutes each sport, just to shake out any nerves and warm up the muscles).
The swim wasn’t as fast as I would have liked (I was hoping for 36 minutes) but I think I went wide trying to avoid all the bodies in the water. Swimming over and through a bunch of other people is something I’ve practiced with the team, but am not comfortable with quite yet. I didn’t find anyone to draft.
Here’s the best part about the swim: no nausea, no dizziness, no confusion at T1. I attribute this to earplugs. I had scoured the triathlete discussion boards and found I am definitely not the only person who gets dizzy in open water, and this was the #1 tip. (My friend Erin also told me that during Ironman races she takes a quarter of a Gravol pill to cut her nausea. If I ever do a Half or full Iron distance I’ll try a training swim with gravol if needed.)
Lesson #2: be redundantly, excruciatingly early to set up transition area
Achievement unlocked 🙂
I was up at 5, out of the house by 5:30 and set up in transition area by 6:15, a full hour before I had to line up on shore. Being relaxed and ready is so much better than being panicked.
Lesson #3: know your strengths
Achievement still unlocked 🙁
Is this one ever really achieved for any of us? I know I have so much potential deep down, but I still found myself during the first half of the bike saying things to myself like:
Why the hell am I doing this?
This is hard.
Legs tired already; maybe I’ll just finish this stupid bike course and not do the run.
You know, I can just quit.
I could just do this race and never do an Olympic distance again.
By the end of the bike portion I was back in my happy triathlete zone.
Obviously I talked myself out of it. This was all during the first 15-20K of a tough bike course with lots of hills at the start. Also, this was not the time to be discovering that Shot Blocks make my tummy sore, and I can’t chew waffles while I’m breathing hard. Thanks be to awesome triathlon race organizers who had two aid stations with PowerGels available. After the first gel kicked in I was saying things to myself like:
Well geez louise, this is a RACE, it’s SUPPOSED to feel like I’m working my ass off!
This is one of the most beautiful bike courses in triathlon. Enjoy the day.
I know the humiliation of just quitting would last forever. Even if I get two flats and/or have to walk the run course, I know I’m going to finish this race, because that’s just how I roll.
Shut up legs!
By the time the course flattened out, at the airport, I was fine. I spent much of the last half of the bike in my drops (no triathlon bike for me just yet) trying to make up time. Once again, the bike turned out to be my strongest of the three sports and the part I enjoyed most about the day.
Lesson #4: make it so you don’t have to think at transition area
Achievement unlocked 🙂
My transition times could use some improvement, but in general I didn’t think about it, I just switched from one sport to the next without second-guessing my choices or looking around for gear. I’ve also mastered the art of getting my wetsuit off while still standing. Practice makes perfect!
Lesson #5: Bricks are your friend.
Achievement unlocked 🙂
I felt great on the run pretty much right from the start. No side stitches, no legs feeling like they were someone else’s. I was tired, for sure, but that was because I had already been exercising for 2.5 hours by the time I got to the run. It didn’t stop me from pulling off a respectable (for me) 1:05 for the 10k run. Astonishing considering how little I’ve been running lately, compared to when I was marathon and half marathon training.
After the race I went for a dip in the lake. Ahhh! All photos by Connie Dunwoody by the way – she always brings out my biggest smiles. 🙂
I can’t wait for the next race. I’m not sure when it will be, but I know I want to do the Banff Subaru triathlon in September. No definite plans yet. Stay tuned!
*Note: This post has been edited from its original version as of May 2015.
TriStars who got on the podium – and that’s not all of them – my team is awesome.