Give me a Q!…. Give me a U!…. Ok, that’s enough. With only 3 days left until the Queen of the Hill Sprint Triathlon, cheering best describes how I feel. Now is that cheering in excitement and anticipation of the event? Or cheering in relief of being only days away from being done with my 1st “official” triathlon? Up to you to decide.

To start with, after a very hectic week in Boston, I am much relieved to be back home in NJ, running, riding and even (gasp) swimming outdoors. I was able to stick to my training schedule while on the road, but I found it challenging to push myself and get in as intense of a workout in the hotel gym as I do in the lovely outdoors of Mullica Hill. Add in the fact that the hotel pool was smaller than most backyard pools and you can imagine how difficult it was to get in a good swim when it’s pretty much eight strokes across each way. (If only I knew how to do a flip turn….next year….next year).

Probably one of the most interesting parts of the week however was meeting a gentleman by the name of Wayne Kurtz. Does this ring a bell? It didn’t to me either, but take a moment and Google him, or better yet, just read on for a brief synopsis. He’s a pretty fascinating guy. But who is he exactly and why should you care? Well, he’s an ultra triathlete. He competes in deca Ironman’s. Yes. That’s right. He competes in 10 Ironman triathlons @ one time. I don’t have the exact specifics in front of me (oh but I did look them up) and to summarize- it’s a crazy amount of swimming (like 20 miles), an insane amount of biking (think 1,000 plus) and 10 full marathons (over 200 miles. On foot). At one time. With very little sleep in between. If I remember correctly, the swim takes approximately 15 hours and then it’s right to the bike. There is about 2 hours of sleep each night. I might be wrong about this, (you have to know I spent a good deal of the 1st five minutes speaking to him with my jaw on the floor and a huge amount of disbelief nagging at my brain), but I am pretty sure he told me that he once competed in a Deca on a 1 mile track! Needless to say I was fascinated. How can you not be? But check him out for yourself. He has a website, a blog and a book titled Beyond the Iron.

Bottom line, this is all good stuff, but I also feel it ties in with the approaching tri this weekend (at least for me). How so? Ever feel so tired trying to fit it all in and continuously training for 3 sports? Me too. And while I’m not trying to downplay what I’ve been doing this spring, none of it comes close to the training and fortitude it takes to complete such distances as a half, full or deca Ironman. But that isn’t meant to sound defeatist. In actuality, I found some extra motivation in meeting Wayne when I took to the ows at Lake Gillman Monday night. A 1/2 mile vs a 1/4 mile? You got it! No problem! Thank god it isn’t 2, 3 or 10 miles! The other motivating thing that happened simultaneously, but unrelated to my chance encounter last week, was that after 4+ months of training for the tri, I have finally found a way to enjoy the swim. While I originally thought I would be fearful of the open water swims, they have been quite nice (minus the browning of Lake Wenonah), as I find they’re peaceful and serene with blue skies and beautiful trees aligning the water.

So the truth is, I am very much looking forward to this weekend’s triathlon. I have learned and found a passion for two additional sports, finally shaken the last of the baby weight that haunted me for almost a year, and made some fantastic new friends along the way. Thanks for coming along for the ride (swim and run). See you at the finish line!

(oh and despite my assurances this was my only tri of the season, I will see you @ SheRox too. Guess the sport of tri-ing IS addicting). :-)

Ick. Blech. Yuck, yuck, yuck. That about sums up my thoughts on my 1st open water swim last night at Lake Wenonah. Nothing against the lake (or the other 100+ people who clearly don’t mind swimming in a swamp…er cedar lake), but I was completely disgusted with what I looked like after I finished my swim. The good news is I was more nervous about the fact that I couldn’t touch the bottom than I was about the not so clear water, so submerging myself initially wasn’t too much of an issue.

When I showed up to the lake I was #99 to get signed in, so that in and of itself threw me into a near panic. How many people exactly would be swimming while I was out there? Obviously it wasn’t 100 at one time, but a quick glance at the lake and the sea of continuously circling swimming caps confirmed that this was not going to be me, myself and a couple of my friends tooling around the lake like the wonder years of my childhood.

Which takes me back to why I wasn’t that grossed out about getting INTO the lake. I am, after all, a by product of NE PA, a bit of a tree hugger in my earlier days if you will. Growing up I swam in lakes all the time (note: NOT cedar ones) and no one ever discussed the ick factor of it. If you wanted to get wet, jet ski, water ski, or just have a ball on a tube, you had to get in a lake. And I survived just fine! But I’m older now. I never thought or worried about half the stuff I think of now (When do I stand up on my bike up a hill? As a kid that was an easy one… um.. when you’re tired dummy and need to give yourself some extra oomph), so I can only use the tree hugger rationale to some degree. Again, I think the truth lies in the fact that my fear of drowning was greater than my fear of well, browning.

Until I got out of the lake. And since there wasn’t a mirror around, I have to admit I was mostly getting grossed out looking at others around me. At first I thought I might come out looking a little tan (not a bad thing), but when I actually did get out and grab my towel, I was pretty grossed out by just exactly how brown I was.

As for the swim? It was ok. I wouldn’t say I loved it and will be rushing back for an open water swim daily, but it was an absolute must leading up to the Queen of the Hill tri. Last week’s mock tri was great and I am thrilled that a pool swim came first. After completing that, last night’s open water swim and tomorrow’s mock tri, I think (hope?) I will be ready for my 1st triathlon.

If only I can figure out how I’m going to get through 5 straight days of travel next week. Locked in 10-12 hour meetings and training solely in a hotel gym on a treadmill, stationary bike and very small pool. Yikes. Let’s hope it doesn’t derail me.

But I digress. It’s midnight as I type this and I realize I should be closing my laptop and turning in for the night. I need a good night’s sleep before tomorrow’s tri! Looking forward to seeing many tri members out there bright and early tomorrow. Don’t look too close though, after 3 showers, I might still have a little “cedar” on me. :-)

I was introduced to someone at last night’s 5K as “This is Stephanie, the newbie blogger” to which I replied “Weeellll…. I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus.” This has truly been for no other reason than a busy work and training schedule. In some ways it’s good though, it’s like we’re long lost friends, finally catching up over a cup of coffee and I have so much to tell you (it seems that way at least).

Last I blogged I was aiming for a great week of swimming which started out well intended (they all do) and ended up just ok. My goal to hone in on swimming as Queen of the Hill quickly approaches has forced me to extend my swim time in the pool to 20 or 25 minutes and I have tried to do at least two, preferably three, swim workouts a week. If I remember correctly, my 1st week aiming for 3 swims ended with two actual workouts and a swim night seminar at Gloucester County Library. Does that count?

Training in the brutal heat and humidity the past few weeks has been somewhat difficult, forcing me out of bed earlier than normal or hitting the pavement late at night after the kiddos are in bed. The Memorial Day 30 miler bike ride was fantastic- but very hot and I was rocking a ridiculous tri suit tan (ok, sunburn) for a good three days afterwards.

I also ventured out for a group swim last week at Raccoon Valley. I have yet to make an open water swim, initially because the water was too cold and I don’t own or intend to purchase a wet suit and the last two weeks due to scheduling conflicts. I figured I might as well get out and in the pool with other tri members and try to garner some feedback and advice from those with more experience in the water. It was very beneficial and I want to give a special thanks to my fellow blogger Cheryl Tevano and also Leigh Ann Reddington for their much valued and appreciated advice and coaching.

And lastly, last night’s Fabulous 5K, was just that: Fabulous! A fast, flat course through a beautiful residential neighborhood, followed by music, margaritas and massages! Oh my! Colleen did a great job hosting (as expected!) and the “crown” tokens given to all finishers was a great idea. Congratulations to all 94 runners who came out last night.

Tomorrow marks my 1st mock tri; I’m very much looking forward to it. I think this, coupled with an open water swim Thursday night and next weekend’s mock tri, should tee my up nicely for my inaugural triathlon end of the month. I am moments away from printing my tri checklist and I’ve already started gathering gear for tomorrow’s tri as I pick up my goggles in the playroom, my cycling gloves from under the couch cushion and my sunglasses from the laundry basket. (Isn’t it great having young kids who take and hide your things for the heck of it??) I feel so official, almost like a REAL triathlete. Lots of luck to all the newbies (and repeat triathletes) who are venturing out tomorrow morning for the 1st MHWTC mock tri of the season. See you all there!