Category Archives: Oakland Tri Club

RACE RECAP – California Sprint Triathlon

I’ve noticed a very clear pattern after a whopping two triathlons:

In the days before the race I’m stressed and anxious.

The morning of the race I’m excited and happy.

During the race I’m demoralized in the swim, joyful on the bike, spent on the run.

After the race I’m ecstatic and proud.


Since it was a Saturday race, I worked the day before.  It was actually really nice to have several students on Friday.  They distracted me from the stressful ticker of “what if’s” that was scrolling through my brain.  It was reeeeeally warm in the area I was teaching and was upgraded to HadesHot when I went to pick up my packet in Pleasanton.  Yikes, is this what we have to look forward to tomorrow?  I made sure to hydrate well throughout the day and actually chose water over Diet Coke.

Oh!  You thought I was exaggerating!

Oh! You thought I was exaggerating!

Packet pickup was smooth and I was home by 6:30.  Small bowl of pasta with tomato sauce and about a cup of Ben and Jerry’s Milk and Cookies.  I debated this one long and hard.  I realized after last week’s long run that all my best workouts have been the day after I’ve had cookies and cream ice cream!  No, that is not a joke.  I know dairy isn’t the best idea for your digestive system but it seems to have a proven record of success.  This is pretty risky behavior for me but Tim gave me his stamp of approval and claimed all accountability if something went wrong.  Excellent.

I used the same spreadsheet system as last time.  I check off the items as they go in the bag.  No exceptions.  This way I don’t feel the need to obsessively double check and repack, as I would doubtless leave something out during the repacking.  I can be a little…..scattered when I’m anxious.  Packed, fed and asleep by about 9:30.  Perfect!

I slept well but still wanted to Hulk SMASH my phone when it started chirping at 5:10.  That is a really not cute hour for me.  Anyone else?  Spent quite a bit of time in the bathroom cursing my decision to have dairy.  Eventually I had my first (and most necessary) success of the day and I felt immediately more relaxed.  I tend to have urgent tummy issues when my heart rate is elevated.  The pre-workout evac is really essential, especially when I know it’s going to be hot outside.  Probably enough on that subject.

In another risky move, I chose to wear a brand new tri suit that I hadn’t worn in a single workout.  Yes, I am fully aware that that the cardinal rule of racing is do not do/wear/eat/say/look at anything new on race day.  Thing is, this is the first big outing for my beloved Oakland Triathlon Club and I really wanted to represent.  My singlet didn’t arrive until FRIDAY and I chose rest over a workout in the new threads.  I wasn’t crazy about the fit at my neck but I glided the heck out of myself and hoped for the best.

Fresh.  To.  Death.

Fresh. To. Death.

On the beautiful drive from Oakland to Pleasanton, I listened to my favorite pump-up songs and got a little verklempt.  This training cycle has been full of SO many new experiences and challenges.  I felt proud, regardless of what happened on the course.

Arrived at the race site and OTC was in full-effect.  We had a sweet tent and Chris (president) and one of the members, Z, were there to put on race number tattoos and give high fives.  In the days before the race, I felt a little nervous about the idea of so many club members being there.  Rationally, I knew they didn’t know anything about my fitness level or goals but the performer in me wanted to impress.  Ultimately, it was really fun and nice to have their support and I met some great new people!



We had a rack in very back of transition, near the run out but faaaaar from the swim in and bike out.  I got my stuff set up and explained some stuff to a guy next to me doing his first race.  I say this without any sarcasm: I really admire people who can show up to something like a triathlon and know literally nothing about what they’re supposed to do.  I could use a big dose of that fearlessness.  I hope he had a great day!

The day was already warming up.  Transition closed and almost everyone made their way into the water, regardless of their wave, to cool down.  I made friends with two really sweet girls (Hi Dana and Lauren!) who were doing their first tri.  We waded and chatted, reassuring each other as we headed to the start.  It was time to GET IT.

Swim (0.5 mi / 19:56)

The course always looks so far when you're standing on the beach.

The course always looks so far when you’re standing on the beach.

Two big yellow buoys.  Swim to the first one.  Turn left.  Swim to the next one.  Turn left.  Swim home.

I don’t have a ton to report here.  Swimming is hard.  In the moment, it felt demoralizing to see swimmers get further and further away from me every time I sighted.  I tried to push those negative thoughts out of my mind and just focus on the fact that each time I looked up, the buoys were closer than before!  I wasn’t nearly as robbed of breath as I was in the Mermaid Tri.  I breathed more frequently and switched to breast stroke many more times than I’d have liked but it was what I needed to do.  During the swim, I didn’t feel awesome but in retrospect, it was a VAST improvement over my first, much shorter swim.  Those sessions with Velia really boosted my confidence and ability.  Must do that much more.  It would be great to feel STRONG during a swim but hey, at least I didn’t get kicked in the face!

T1 (4:37)

This was a SHITSHOW.  I tried to get the top half of my wetsuit off on my way into transition but I was still struggling as I got aaaaaaalllll the way back to my bike.  Then I couldn’t get the bottom half off.  It would not BUDGE off my left leg.  It took a good minute for me to realize that I hadn’t removed my stupid timing chip.  When will they just implant us with a microchip?!  GAHHHHHH.  Finally got the wetsuit off, everything else on (including HELMET) and took a bolt chew.  I guzzled as much water as I could stand, knowing that I would be riding 14 miles in the heat without any additional hydration.

So, as if the wetsuit nonsense wasn’t bad enough, I was about to experience my second biggest triathlon fear.  Okay, third behind death and public defecation.

Collision Tweet

OH. MY. GOD.  Yeah, it was congested around the bike mount and I didn’t quite have my footing.  I’m NOT great at pushing off when there are people close to me.  I wobbled into the dude very close to my left and he fell over.  FUUUUUUUUUUUUU*K.  I felt HORRIBLE, obviously.  But apparently not horrible enough to actually help him up?!  I apologized profusely and asked if he was okay but then I was off.  In the moment, that seemed appropriate.  In retrospect, I feel like a pretty terrible person for not helping him up.  Oh and the look on the faces of the Oakland Tri Club folks who were literally 5 feet away from this assault?  Yeah, it took me about 4 miles to get over it.

Bike (13 miles questionable / 44:40 / 17.4 mph):

THE BIKE WAS AWESOME.  I pedaled my butt off.  I didn’t eat shit on any of the many u-turns.  I geared appropriately for both of the major climbs.  I PEDALED ON DESCENTS AND HIT 26 MPH FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE.

I was fearless.  It was amazing.

More, faster, better, NOWPLEASE.

The only thing I would change about this ride (besides the convoluted and SHORT course) was learning how to drink on the damn bike.  I had a fantastic ride but by the time I was done, I felt like my mouth was full of sand.  PARCHED.

As you can imagine, I was pretty nervous about the dismount.  Thankfully, there weren’t any humiliating incidents when I dismounted.  Phew.  And Yay.

T2 (1:05):  Lots of water.  Visor.  Go.  Forgot Garmin.  Don’t go back.  Forgot to take off glasses (ugh).  Don’t go back.  RUN AND DONE.

Run (3.1 mi / 31:57 / 10:17 avg)

So, when a race website advertises a “fast and flat bike course!” and doesn’t say anything about the run, you might be in for some unexpected challenges.  Like a trail run with constant hills.  Add 90 degree heat with no shade and you’ve really got a party going.

All my time goals went out the window.  Since I was Garminless, I decided to run by feel and just get by.  Coming upon the first hill, I made the decision not to walk, as many were.  I made this decision for every single hill on the course.  I only paused at the two water stations to pour a cup over my head and drink another.  I felt like I was shuffling at a snails pace because my breath was under control and my body felt really good.  It was easy to thank every single volunteer standing out there in the sun.  I asked a couple if they were jealous.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t.  Throughout the run, I knew I had a lot more in me but I was completely zapped of any competitive urge.  I wasn’t interested in pushing myself.  I just wanted to finish strong.

After many, many, many more hills, I cruised down to the beach and into the chute!  I picked up my pace to the sprintiest strides I could muster and with a HUGE smile on my face, crossed the finish line!

Thumbs. UP.

Thumbs. UP.


AG: 16/38

Gender: 108/221

Overall: 300/507

And how did my times compare to my goals?

Swim goal: 20:00 ……. Swim time: 19:56

Beat by 4 seconds!  Phew!

T1 goal: 2:30 …… T1 time: 4:37

Absolute debacle.  I mean, learning experience.

Bike goal: 52:00 /16.15 mph (based on advertised 14 mile course) …… Bike time: 44:40 / 17.4 mph (based on questionable 13 mile course.  May have been even shorter.)


T2 goal: 1:30 ….. T2 time: 1:05.

Atta girl!

Run goal: 30:00 …… Run time: 31:57

Abandoned goal due to heat and course.  A great run for me under those conditions.  Had I known, I would have made 35 min my goal.

The post-race party was fun.  It took me several bottles of water before I could choke down an orange slice but the burritos looked good.  For someone else.  I hung around for awhile to watch several of the OTC-ers in the awards ceremony!  We had three folks on the podium, including third overall!  So inspiring!  HUGE thanks to all the awesome Oakland Tri Club folks, especially Chris Van Luen.  Whattaguy!

OTC Badass Ladies!

OTC Badass Ladies!

And thank YOU for reading another endless recap!

Overall, it was a fantastic experience.  Triathlon is hard but the finish line feels SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good.

Onward and Upward!

Onward and Upward!

Tagged , , , , ,

First Open Water Swim: IT WAS RAD!

Because who likes to be kept in suspense?

If you don’t want to read this epic post, go ahead and just look at me smiling and thumbs-upping post-swim.

That's a happy swimmer, right there!

Yep!  That’s a happy swimmer, right there!  See ya later!

Now I know who my real readers are.  You get candy.

After a fitful and crampy night of sleep, I woke up at 5:50am and hallelujah: there was a bit of daylight!  It’s so much easier to get up for an early workout when there’s light out!  Then it doesn’t feel like you should be going to the airport for an early flight. I packed up all my crap the night before so I could literally pull on my trisuit, brush my teeth (you’re welcome, fellow swimmers) and roll out.

Good morning, Bay Bridge!

As I crossed the  Bay Bridge from Oakland to SF, I was a bit stunned that I’d soon be IN THE WATER…

I didn’t realize that Aquatic Park was essentially in the tourist clusterf*ck of Pier 39/Ghiradelli Square.  Thankfully, it was so dang early that parking wasn’t an issue.   Swims later in the day could be a major challenge for this reason (especially during the summer) but there is In-N-Out a couple blocks away for some post-swimming Protein Style.  #WorthIt #SponsorMe

Good morning, very beautiful place!

Good morning, very beautiful place!

This clinic was put on by the newly-formed Oakland Tri Club.  About ten of us were in attendance, with the full spectrum of experience represented.  Myself and a couple others were swimming in wetsuits for the first time while several were experienced Bay swimmers and veterans of Alcatraz swims!  One even swam sans wetsuit!

My new hero for innumerable reasons.

My new hero for innumerable reasons.

Club Founder and President Chris Van Luen led the clinic.  We discussed major points of open water swimming:

* What happens to your body in a wetsuit, in cold water, when you exit the water after swimming, etc.

What to do if you have anxiety and what that can feel like.

Types of triathlon swim starts and where to position yourself in the start, depending on your experience level.


Chris took his time explaining everything we could expect.  Others shared their experiences and for someone who really likes to have ALL the information when attempting something new, it was very comforting.  Before I knew it, we were suiting up and the non-noobs were heading out for their workout.  My grocery bag feet worked like a charm and I got my suit on much more quickly than ever before.  Having my trisuit underneath helped it to slide right up over my butt and hips.  Even got the crotch up in the right place.  Not being able to get my wetsuit on in front of folks I don’t know was really my only fear for the day so with that conquered, I was ready to go!

Sidebar: Everyone else’s suits slid right up their legs.  When I got home, I noted that my suit was actually an XS, not an S, like I thought.  Based on the room in my torso, I think I’m between sizes and tightness in the legs is preferable to lots of cold water pooling around my skinnier parts.  

At Aquatic Park, there is a line of buoys.  From end to end round-trip, it’s about a third of a mile.  I can’t even tell you how relieved I was when Chris said that us noobies were going to start by simply swimming from the shore to one of the buoys and back to the shore.  About 100 meters total?  As we put on our caps and goggles (and I dropped mine in the sand for the first of two times – BALLS!), we walked ankle-deep into the water.  It was cold but not as shocking as I expected.  I walked a bit further and barely registered cold temperatures on my legs.  Wetsuit for the WIN.

I'm pink.

I’m pink.

We broke into small buddy groups and dove in.  My first thought was:


It certainly wasn’t warm water but with the protection of the wetsuit, it wasn’t uncomfortable at all.  I did notice that my torso was colder than my legs, as to be expected with more water collecting in the upper half of the suit.  My face was quite cold (obviously) but my overall temperature wasn’t even distracting.

We swam around the buoy and back to shore.  The first words out of my mouth were “that was rad!”  Surprisingly, we got out of the water to warm up.  Exactly the opposite of the uncomfortable cold that you feel getting out of an outdoor pool.

Okay, so here’s the deal.  There are a few common things that seem to bother/hinder/panic people when swimming in open water.  Those things include (but are not limited to):

* Not being able to see in the water and by extension, creepy things being in the water like kelp, bugs, fish, and predators.

The water being really cold.

The wetsuit feeling constricting and chokey.

* Seasickness (hadn’t heard that one but it came up!)

* Difficulty sighting and getting off-course.

Contact with other swimmers.

None of these things bothered me!  The temperature was no biggie.  My wetsuit was comfortable (once I could get it on.)  During our second trip out and back, another swimmer literally swam over my body.  I was unfazed.  SO WEIRD.  Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have a metric ton of fears but oddly, the thing that uniformly inspires anxiety in triathlon doesn’t bug me in the least.

If this sounds braggy, can we just rewind to last week when the anticipation of a Sunday morning bike ride with good friends had me in tears?  No one here is claiming to have triathlon on lock-down.

I did, however, have one major difficulty:

I can’t swim very well.

I’m just not in shape yet.  Each time I looked up to sight, everyone was further and further away from me.  My breathing pattern was fairly consistent with my pool breathing, so that’s good.  My sighting seemed decent, if a bit more frequent than I’d eventually like.  The only time I had a sighting issue was after the other swimmer swam over me – probably because I was off-course!  Basically, I swam like myself, and myself is pretty slow.  I think that on each of our three out and back trips, I was the last one out of the water.  While I wasn’t compromised by some of the usual challenges, I also wasn’t focusing at all on efficient technique.  I’m sure I reverted back to rotating less and didn’t take full advantage of my suit’s buoyancy.  There is still much work to do!

Practicing a Grand Prix start.

Practicing a Grand Prix start.

All of that said, I consider today a huge success.  I’ll take a lack of fitness over crippling anxiety any day.  This experience made me so excited to get in the pool and improve!  If I’d had a panic attack, who knows if I’d even continue in triathlon?  Maybe I will be the last one out of the water next week (!) but after today’s clinic I know it will be a really fun and empowering experience.

Huge thanks to Chris for sharing his knowledge and getting some great photos of us in the water!

Ever swam in cold-ass water?  Tell us all about it!

Tagged , , , , ,

It’s All Happening!

Happy Friday!

Yesterday, I was chatting about my upcoming tri with whoever will not cover my mouth with their hand a friendly woman at See Jane Run.

Speaking of See Jane Run, there’s still time to register for their 5k or Half-Marathon in Alameda on Saturday, June 8th!  You can save 10% with the coupon code SJRSFAMB13.  Let me know if you’re going to be there!  I’d love to meet up! 

She asked when it was and I said “about two weeks.”  Except, it’s not.  It’s actually in about ONE week.

Shit is getting real.

I’ve read about a trillion articles about transitions, race plans, open water swimming, etc. but I’m re-reading them all now that we’re so close!  I may not be a talented swimmer, cyclist, or runner but I am a top-notch Googler.


Tomorrow morning, I meet up with my Tri Club (oh yeah, I joined a Tri club.  Did I forget to mention that?) for my first open water swim.  A couple of hours have been dedicated to researching this particular topic.  Lots of posts about panic attacks.  I suppose it’s possible I could freak out but honestly, I’m only nervous about the temperature of the San Francisco Bay at 7am and about looking like a fool in front of all the experienced Oakland Tri folk.  My childhood summers were spent lazing in the Russian River, swimming in pools on vacation, and splashing around Lake Tahoe at choir camp.  It actually never occurred to me to be afraid of “open water” until I started reading all about how terrifying it supposedly is.  

With singer buddies in Barbados, April 2011.  This is not terrifying.  This is heaven.

With singer buddies in Barbados, April 2011. This is not terrifying. This is heaven.

The only other thing I’m nervous about is my ability to put on my dang wetsuit.  The first time posed a serious challenge.  The suit has been sitting in my closet, waiting for me to get up the nerve to try again.  

Armed with a stick of bodyglide and a stopwatch, I went for it, hoping to get it on in under 10 minutes.  That seems insane but you don’t know the leg meat I’m working with.  

I hate this infinity.

I hate this infinity.

I passed the 10 minute mark and I was still at the knees.  And beginning to sweat.  My new time goal was 15 minutes.  Yes, it’s entirely possible that it will take me longer to put on my wetsuit than to complete the swim.  Good thing the swim isn’t last!  I finally got it on but the crotch was still too low.  And it took entirely too long.  Peeled it off and began again.



The second time was a bit better but it still feels like it takes much, much longer than it should.  I watched a couple videos where skinny Minnies slid the legs right up.  Their legs are thin.  My legs are not.  Not helpful, YouTubes.  

Wetsuit is tiring.

Wetsuit is tiring.

I decided to try again today with a plastic grocery bag over my feet and HUZZAH!  (Almost) immediate success!  It slid up much more easily.  I didn’t time it but it felt quick enough that I won’t be completely embarrassed tomorrow morning.  Huge relief!

Open water swimming!  Bring. On. The. Tips.


CA Sprint Tri Training – Weeks 3 and 4

My punishment for not blogging is that I have to try to pretend I remember how these workouts went.  Lesson learned.

Here’s my training for the last two weeks with the few details I can remember.

[You can mail my BLOGGER OF THE CENTURY award directly to the Barney’s on College Ave.]

Monday 4/22 – Run, Swim

Completed!  No idea how it went.  These workouts were the first day of ‘Battle Hymns’ tech week which feels about a million years ago.

Tuesday 4/23 – Cycle

Skillz practice in a parking lot.  I’m practicing grabbing my water bottle, which I can now do.  What I realized is that I have no idea what I would do once I got the the bottle into my hand.  I’ll figure that out later.  When I got home, I decided to try some hill repeats and practice shifting gears.  I chose the hill nearest to my house and was demoralized to discover that I couldn’t even make it halfway up.  Once.  Uhhhh….

Nice try.

Nice try.

Wednesday 4/24 – Run, Swim

3 easy miles and a short swim.  Uneventful workouts except that when I went into the locker room to change from running clothes to swimsuit, I looked down to notice that I had banged into the corner of a bench.  I barely felt it.  Which is weird because it turned into this:

Hrm.  OWW.

Hrm. OWW.

Okay, bruise.  No biggie, right?  Except when I woke up on Wednesday morning, I literally couldn’t bend my leg from an extended position.  It was so stiff and so painful!  I had no problem walking but I couldn’t put any weight on my leg if it was bent.  NOOOOOOO.

I was incredibly stressed and anxious about my upcoming concerts and this injury gave me an opportunity to focus solely on my performance.  No workouts happened for the rest of the week.  Lots of icing and cursing.  I wasn’t happy about that but it was necessary as the show was physically demanding and my knee got worse before it got better.

Monday 4/29 – Swim, Cycle

Easy indoor ride to test my knee and a longer swim.  I’ve decided that the swim distances of my training plan aren’t long enough for me to feel confident doing a half mile swim on 6/29.  I’m going rogue and extending them.  On this particular day, I did 11 x 50 and felt good.  The ride was 40 minutes and while my knee felt weird, it wasn’t any weirder during or after the workout than before.  All systems (gently) go!

Tuesday 4/30 – TDM

I love Dailey Method.  Kimberly is the bomb.  She accommodated my knee weirdness but TDM is so anatomically thoughtful that none of the exercises bothered it in the slightest.  It’s awesome.

Wednesday 5/1 – BRICK

My first legit brick!  Finally got to feel like a badass and use the multisport mode of my Garmin.  What what?

So keeeewl!

So keeeewl!


This workout was haaaaaard.  So….I’ve ridden the stationary bike and run right after a few times.  You know, on TriFri!  I really didn’t see what the big deal was and figured I was just the beginning of a new species of athlete biologically designed for brick workouts.  Like a SuperLady!


The ride was easy.  A comfortable loop of Bay Farm.  I made an effort not to ride too hard and save my legs for the run, especially since I hadn’t run in about a week.  I set up my little transition area (nerd alert!) in the car so as soon as I was done, I tossed the bike in the car, switched my helmet for a visor and took off.  Without drinking water.  At any point.  Also, it was 90 degrees which is obviously irrelevant.

I only had to run for 20 minutes but it was brutal.  I was running faster than I should have, completely dehydrated.  But I did it and didn’t walk!  Many lessons learned for today’s redemption brick!

Thursday 5/2 – Rest.

Believe it.

Also, #tbt




Friday 5/3 – Run, TDM

Three easy miles and a not at all easy Dailey Method class with Susannah.  She asked me to DEMO which totally made my LIFE.  EGOSPLOSION!  I worked harder than I’d planned since I felt like people were watching me and expecting me to be strong!

Saturday 5/4 – Cycle

55 minute ride in Alameda.  On streets.  With cars.  It was AMAZING and a huge breakthrough.  This deserves its own post, if I can get my shit together to write one before it is eclipsed by newer amazing accomplishments.  Being a beginner is awesome.

Sunday 5/5 – Swim

Another easy, shortish swim 9 x 50.  Easy on paper, not easy in real life.  I’m such a shitty swimmer.  I know my body position is incredibly inefficient.  I’m doing my best but it’s really time for someone to fix me.  Gotta get on that.


There are some other major things that happened to this little introvert this week.  More info forthcoming but I’ll tease ya with THIS:

Oh Shiiiiiiiiiiiii....

Oh Shiiiiiiiiiiiii….