This week was a week of firsts and foils. I rode the Queen of the Hill route (first time), and even took a quick detour to see the lake (first time as well). Speaking to anyone who has yet to see the course, I am confident it’s going to be a great race in June. If you haven’t signed up already- get on it! The lake is beautiful- calm, serene and good visibility (ok so all the triathletes kicking and splashing the day of the race might ruin some of the calmness and serenity but work with me) and the bike/run route is perfect, not too hilly or flat, all right turns, thus no crossing into traffic while riding.

But back to my training week.

On top of my virgin Queen of the Hill ride, I also did my first swim/bike brick and my first bike/run brick. I was anxious to do the swim/bike, as I still find I struggle to regulate my breathing while swimming. Though I don’t necessarily notice in the water, there have been a number of times that I have been dizzy when I get out of the pool. I can almost certainly chalk it up to improper breathing and though I continue to concentrate on this aspect of my training, I wanted to be sure I could get out of the pool and immediately get on a bike. (And by immediately I mean 7-10 minutes later). Let’s just say I am happy I will be wearing a tri suit in June! It will be such a relief to wear 1 outfit the entire race and now have to worry about changing. The trifecta of getting out of my wet swimsuit, into running tights and onto my bike was an accomplishment in and of itself.

Aside from that, my 1st swim/bike workout went well. It felt good to get out into fresh air immediately following the swim. And the ride/run brick…. Not too bad at all. After a great early Saturday morning ride with two fellow clubbers, a 2 mile run felt pretty good. The first few minutes my legs felt wobbly and kind of strange, but after 5 minutes or so, felt fine. I have done some indoor bike/run workouts, but it was different to do outside. Definitely a must before competing in your 1st tri!

So what got foiled this week? Unfortunately, after my swim/bike workout I was unable to get back in the pool. A 2 1/2 hour delay at Philadelphia airport foiled my attempt at a hotel swim Wed night and I must admit, after seeing the postage stamp size of it, I quickly hit snooze (followed by snooze, snooze and snooze) when my alarm went off the next morning. It just wasn’t appealing. Friday I ended my run at the gym, only to discover that the pool had been closed for maintenance from 12-4 (I arrived at 12:12) and today I happened upon a toddler swim class. While I doubt they would have been as difficult to swim against as the aqua class, was more worried about their ability to swim FASTER than me.

So this week is all about swimming. I will tailor most of my workouts around my goal to swim at least 2, hopefully 3 times. It is my weakest sport and it’s time to get serious. That the end of the week coincides with the start of the Memorial day weekend and my in-laws have a great pool is beside the point. I just might have to incorporate a “Rode” style swim workout into my repertoire, one where I swim and “un-wine” after. :-)

Happy training!

Eight weeks of blogging. Can you believe it? I bet you can, as you’ve been (hopefully) following along on this journey. A little under seven weeks left until Queen of the Hill. Can I believe it? Sometimes yes, other times, yikes, NO! Am I ready? Not quite. Am I getting closer to being ready? I think so. But at this mid way point I thought it would be a good time to stop and candidly take stock of what I’ve proudly accomplished and sometimes embarrassingly experienced.

To date I have acquired the following:
~ 1 new bike (made complete with clip less pedals and 2 falls in Action Wheels parking lot)
~ a ridiculous amount of new gear, including, but not limited to: cycling gloves, tri suit, shoes for my clip less pedals, a cadence computer, goggles, swim cap, need I go on?
~ 1 practically threadbare swimsuit (WHAT is in the water at Future Fitness? It is eating my swimsuit)!
~ a cool new vocabulary that includes such words as the aforementioned “clip less pedals”, “brick workouts” and “transition times”

I have completed/accomplished the following:
~ 2 races this season (garnering a PR for Broad Street)
~ 1 virtually insurmountable attempt at swimming against aqua joggers
~ a 3 mph average improvement at cycling in 6 weeks
~ 100 miles on my bike in 1 month
~ 15 blog entries
~ numerous group rides (followed by, let’s just say “several” glasses of wine), 2 club sponsored information sessions and 1 very fun and worthy wine tasting event

And I have, unfortunately, not lost 1 of the 10 lbs I am aiming to lose. Dare I throw out the acronym WTF?!?!

But I digress. Back to the positives! Today I completed my first mini brick workout. When I walked into the hotel gym there was a bike and a treadmill side by side. Beckoning me. I rode 10 miles and hopped on the treadmill for a quick 1 mile run afterwards. I want to start acclimating myself to the bike – run transition, as I’ve heard this can be one of the most difficult parts of the tri (along with not drowning). Fear not newbies- if you’ve been training steadily the past five or six weeks, this transition is not too bad. Of course I need to build up to 15 miles cycling and 3 miles running, but I’ll take it one workout at a time.

This weekend will pose another challenge as I head off to a “girl’s weekend” with my best girlfriends from elementary school. For many of us it will be the first time we’ve been together since our last outing in May 2010. Lots of girl talk, late nights and well, alcohol. I am trying to cram in as many quality workouts as I can before Friday as I don’t think I will be able to find time (or be allowed) workouts during our quick 3 days together. Wish me luck!

Am I being melodramatic if I say last weekend’s Broad Street Run was the best one yet? Probably. But I’ll say it anyway and then ask that you take it with a grain of salt. The truth is, of the four or five times I’ve run the race, this is truly the race where the stars have aligned for a perfect race day. It seems that over the past eight years I have alternated Broad St with baby. If I have the order right it’s been Broad St, baby #1, Broad St, baby #2, Broad St and well, yes, baby #3. And while I did not run last year, I had friends who did and it was wicked hot. The year before it rained steadily the entire race. One year it was so steamy the finish line appeared out of nowhere, like a mirage. This year, however, was as close to picture perfect as it can get. No humidity, cool in the morning but comfortable by race time and most importantly, no rain or wind! Hallelujah!

The trek into Philadelphia was uneventful as well. A few of us carpooled from Mullica Hill and were able to make it to the start line with relative ease. Minimal traffic and a drop off right near the start. Perfect. Except…. How to keep the nerves at bay for a half hour until the start? Obviously a trip to the bathroom helped chew up 15-20 min and then after a few quick well wishes we all parted ways with promises of meeting up at the finish line a jaunty 10 miles later.

From there the morning flew. I lined up pretty far back in the corrals (I subscribe to the “pass a few people and feel fast” versus the “run with the faster crowd to speed you up” way of thinking), but I have to admit that next year I will be a little more honest with my intended finish (ah-hem maybe others should be too), as I spent most of the race bobbing and weaving through runners and never really settled into a consistent pace. It also took almost 15 min to cross the official start. Overall, not a big deal, but would prefer not so much down time between the official start and my chip time.

Some interesting sights along the way (not all of these were seen by me, but I’m still sharing because I think they’re worthy of mention):
~ best tee shirts ~
“Life is short. Running makes it seem longer”
“In my dreams I am a Kenyan”
“Run like a Mother”
~ a Charlie Sheen look-a-like, equipped with a bottle of Tiger Blood, a Charlie Sheen tee shirt and arm band
~ a barefoot racer
~ a runner in flip flops
~ a man running carrying two children
~ a man dressed as a ladybug (“just because” I overheard him tell a fellow runner)

And my favorite: 4 children in wheelchairs sitting outside Shriner’s hospital cheering, smiling and waving despite. Despite what I don’t know, but their smiles and encouragement gave me motivation and strength for the next several miles.

With Queen of the Hill tri sneaking up on me, I am pleased to have Broad Street behind me and anxiously look forward to this next phase of training. Stay tuned. One good race aside, I assume more hilarity, misadventure and 1st time tri experiences will ensue!