Archive for January, 2010

Weekend Workout Wrap Up

This weekend I took it pretty easy.  I had some work to do around the house.  I did  a 1 hour spin session, and followed that up with an hour in the pool.

The spin session went well.  I’m not sure if it was easier than previous ones, or if I have just built up a certain level of fitness.  I can say that, although the workout was tough, there weren’t any times that I felt like I couldn’t go on.

For swimming, I continued to focus on drills.  I have been working both on keeping my legs more steady, and on my pull stroke.  I have focused on the pull in the last 2 swim sessions and I can really tell a difference in terms of speed, and in my endurance.  I can go even faster than I was with all that crazy kicking, and I’m less winded.  As an added benefit I can also feel how much work my shoulders, triceps and back are doing.  I am always sore the next day.

Since I have started focusing on my kicking, I have begun to realize that I was kicking at a furious pace.  I looked like Edward Scissorhands:

Man those are fast hands.

It is no wonder that I was so tired before.  I am still working really hard to keep my legs pretty still.  I am trying to only use them to help with my body roll, but when I really try to go fast, I can feel those legs going crazy.  I sure have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks.  But for now I will keep drilling.

I also realize that I need to get more of a training routine going,  tracking info and improving on endurance, but I feel like I just need to get the basics down before I get bogged down in the details.  So for now it is just heads down for at least another week.

Yeah buoy!

Flava Flav

No need for assorted Flavas

I really need to work on keeping my legs still if I have any hope of getting any distance at all in the pool.  The leg muscles are the biggest muscles in the body so using them tends to suck up a ton of oxygen and energy.  If I can hold them still I should be able to get pretty far before needing a break, at least in theory.

So last night I decided to do some drills with a pull buoy.  Sorry Mr. Flav, I didn’t need any help from you, though maybe some motivational chants wouldn’t hurt.  I’m not sure how helpful it was because I couldn’t get enough rotation with the buoy.  I was, however able to get through a lap without being beat.  That kind of proved my theory on the reason I was getting so tired.  Once I took

An actual Pull Buoy

The real deal. From

the pull buy off I noticed that my legs wanted to go a mile a minute.  Not a good sign.  With a lot of concentration and effort I steadied my legs.  It helped to try to push my chest into the water in order to help keep my legs up.  I think a lot of my kicking stems from trying to keep my lower body floating.  I really need to get that “downhill” swimming feeling that they talk about in Total Immersion.  So far it has felt more like uphill swimming.

Having said that, keeping my legs still made a huge difference last night.  I got out of the pool after quite a bit of swimming and my arms were tired but my legs were still fresh.  I was so happy I wished I had a 40 so that I could pour out some for my hommies, luv ya Flava!

Where did my motion sickness go?

I have been thinking lately about the motion sickness I used to get while I was swimming.   It just kind of went away as fast as it first appeared.  It is important to understand the cause of motion sickness so that a proper resolution can be found.  The best way that I can think of to describe the cause of motion sickness is that you feel a motion that your eyes don’t see.  This can be counteracted in some cases by anticipating the motion before it happens.  In a car, for example, I often get motion sickness when I think the driver is about to turn right, but instead they turn left.  In the case of swimming laps, I think the motion sickness may have been caused by a few things:

  • My swim goggles fogging up
  • The motion of the water in the pool
  • Breathing issues while swimming

Swim Goggles Fogging Up

I noticed at one point that my goggles were fogging up and making it hard for me to see.  When I took a break, the water movement combined with the blurred vision seemed to make me dizzy.  Dizziness always translates to motion sickness for me.

Solution: I have tried a couple of things.  I bought some anti-fog solution which holds the fog off for the most part.  My head gets hot when I exercise, so that causes most of the fogging.  The anti-fog helps substantially, but they still do fog from time to time, especially when the anti-fog wears out.  I have gotten into the practice of taking my goggles off at each break (which is very for me right now) and wetting them to clear the fog.  That certainly helps.  I read once that contact solution in the goggles before you put them on would help.  I guess it sloshes around in them while you’re swimming.  I haven’t tried that, but I think for people with motion sickness the sloshing around might make matters worse.

The Motion of the Water

At one point I really thought the motion of the water was the culprit.  That freaked me out because I can’t control that.  I still think there might be some merit to that one, especially if you are resting and not in motion.  While you’re swimming, however, your body is in constant motion.  If you are swimming correctly, the motion of the water will be negligible compared to your forward motion, and your body rotation.  Since you are controlling both the forward motion, and the body rotation it shouldn’t be too bad.

Solution:  This is a tough one.  At this point I don’t think the motion of the water was causing my motion sickness.  I think it may have been accentuating the issues I was having with the fogging.  Of course, if you aren’t holding your head still during the body rotation (i.e. stay facing the bottom of the pool) the constant rocking of the head could be a cause of the motion sickness as well.  Keeping your head in the same spot relative to the bottom of the pool, except when you’re breathing, could be the key to helping the motion sickness.  Another possible solution is to use Dramamine or some other motion sickness medicine.  I’m not sure how that will impact your performance however.  Aside from the drowsiness, it may cause issues with water retention, heart rate, and race nutrition.  I would advise seeking the advice of a doctor before trying that, and of course always try it in training before the big race.

Breathing Issues

I think this might be the biggie.  When I first started swimming, and even now at times, I would rock my head to get air.  That quick twist was obviously more of a panicked reaction than a proper breathing technique.  It’s that quick jerky motion that may have caused my motion sickness.  I also tended to over-rotate to get to the air.  Any of these excessive movements combined with the fact that I was holding my breath under water instead of exhaling, and I was really setting myself up to get sick.

Solution: I have been breathing much better lately.  I don’t twist as far around, in fact the other day I had my first session of swimming where I was able to breath while keeping one goggle in the water.  Also, you should always be exhaling while your head is in the water.  That will help make sure that you minimize the amount of time you spend with your head out of water.  I think learning how to breath properly is the key to feeling comfortable in the pool.

In my first triathlon, there was a ton of small waves in the pool from everyone swimming and from the fact that there were no swim lane markers to break the waves.  I felt a lot of swaying, and although I had plenty of other issues with the swim, I didn’t have any issues with motion sickness.  I think that if you give it time, eventually you will stop getting sick.  Of course, when I get to open water swimming, I may start getting sick again.  If that happens, it’s back to the drawing board!  I have also heard about physical therapy for motion sickness.  Apparently there is some sort of controlled motion technique that is supposed to recalibrate the motion/vision issues and help to reduce or eliminate motion sickness.  If I ever give that a try, I’ll write a post about it.

2010 – First Triathlon: Race Results


Today was my first triathlon event.  It is part of the YMCA training series, so the distances were very short, and it was indoors because it is winter here.  The distances were  1/4 mile swim, 9 miles on a spin bike, and 2 miles running on a treadmill.  I was excited about the event, but really nervous about my leg.  I was still feeling pretty sore from the severe cramp I got on Friday.  Even though I spent all day Saturday taking it easy and keeping the leg warm, it was still feeling pretty bad this morning.  Once I got in the pool, however, it didn’t bother me at all.  It had no impact whatsoever on my performance.  I sucked all on my own.


Swim:17:53 (450 Yards)

T1: 1:59

Bike: 20:35 (9 miles)

T2: 0:10

Run: 21:58 (2 Miles)

Total: 1:02:08

Place:  33/37


My first race went relatively well.  Relative being the operative term.  I had nearly the worst swim time (I think only one person was slower) but I was pretty strong on the other events.  Considering how much I put off all my other training, I am pretty happy with the results.  At this point finishing was victory enough.  My wife did much better than I did, she placed 29th (Yay Miriam!).  Although my swim time was slow compared to everyone else, it was my personal best.  I did it about 4 minutes faster than I had in training.  I felt it though, I was sucking wind pretty bad by the end and I know I need to get my form perfected if I hope to even be in the game come a real race.


My wife and I volunteered to help out.  We were in charge of timing the bike leg of the race for the first 3 waves.  It was a bit intimidating trying to keep track of everyone running in and out of the spinning room.  It really didn’t help our nerves any.  When we got relieved we ran over to the pool area and waited anxiously for our wave to start.  I was pretty nervous, but it was nice to be there with my wife because it helped keep me at least a little more calm than I would have been otherwise.  I swam a little back and forth to warm up then just waited for the start.


My wife tells me that I took off like a rocket when they called start.  I don’t really remember.  I do know that I was winded after just the first lap.  By the second lap my wife had caught up to me.  She added to her lead each lap.  By the time she was finishing her last length I still had 2 whole laps to go.  Just goes to show, slow and steady does win the race.

A couple of notes on the swim.  My form was a disaster.  I struggled mightily to get through the swim.  I could feel the wake from the other swimmers pulling at me.  I thought several times, holy crap what will it be like in open water?  I was the last one out of the pool in my wave.  In fact, I still had a lap left when the last swimmer got out.  I was getting cheers as I went in for lap 8, and had to let everyone know I still had one to go.  That last length felt great though since I could see the light at the end of the tunnel (well maybe that was me nearing death)!

As I got out of the pool I was gasping for air, my heart was pounding, and my legs were shot.  I obviously was using way too much legs in my swim.  I have to work on that.  I decided to just throw my running shoes on, with no socks, and head for the spin bike.  That was a decision I would later come to regret.


There really wasn’t a lot to talk about on the bike.  I got on after a quick transition, and plugged away at it.  I didn’t feel winded or tired.  I was a bit nervous getting out of the pool with such wobbly legs.  I thought that I would struggle through the rest of the events.  I had no issues though.  Once I got off the bike I booked to the treadmills for the run.


I had a couple of issues on the treadmills.  At first I couldn’t figure out where the distance was located.  I ran for a few minutes before realizing that the last person’s distance hadn’t been reset.  I stopped the treadmill, reset the time, and started over.  I felt beat right away, I didn’t know how I was going to do 2 miles.  At the 1/4 mile mark I started feeling like a rock was in my left running shoe.  They were brand new so I knew that wasn’t the case.  I thought maybe the tongue had gotten messed up or something.  I thought about stopping to adjust it, but then decided to just press on.  At the half mile mark I started getting the exact same feeling on my right foot.  By this time, the rock feeling in my left foot started feeling more like small nails scratching at me.  I closed my eyes for a second and thought, ok Nelson, when you run a marathon it is going to hurt, so just push through it.  I focused on my run and ignored the pain.  At the mile mark I thought, oh man, I can’t do this, it is too far.  Then I thought, wait, why do I think I can’t do this?  I ran through a mental check list.  My legs feel fine, I’m not winded, my heart rate seems ok, I can do this, in fact this is easy.  Immediately after running through that checklist I felt like I could run forever.  I was running at a pace of about an 11 minute mile, and I wasn’t even breathing hard.  I knew I would be fine.  I told myself that once I get to within a quarter mile of the finish I am going to sprint, heck, maybe I’ll get to a 9 minute mile!  As I approached the 1/4 mile mark one of the people that had organized the event came up to me and said, ok now you need to crank it and finish strong.  I bumped the machine up to an 8 minute mile and ran like Forest Gump.  I made it to the end just before I was about to run out of gas.  I jumped off the treadmill and ran to the finish.

It felt amazing to get through my first tri.  And, even though I was near the bottom of the group, I still felt like a winner.  I know if I can get my running up to snuff, and shave about 50% off my swim time, I can be in the thick of it.  All in all, it was a lot of fun.  I’m very glad I did this, and I look forward to doing another one next month.  But ugh, it is going to be longer :(.

Lessons Learned

  • Wear socks when I run, ouchie.  After I got out of the shower, I put on my socks and felt immediate pain.  My feet must have been rubbing against the netting in the shoe which caused the rock and nails feeling as I ran.  As a result the skin on the inner arch of both soles of my feet had been rubbed raw.  It burned when I put my socks on, and felt worse when I put my shoes on.  When I got home I put antibacterial cream and bandages on my feet and I felt much better.  Clearly the combination of wet feet and new shoes was not good.
  • Get better at swimming, my goal is to half my swim time by the time we get to the 1/2 mile swim.  That means I need to do the full half mile in the same time I did this 1/4 mile, or faster.
  • Don’t ignore the running.  I think I can actually do well in the running, I found that I had a ton of endurance today, if I can get faster and maintain the endurance, I think I can do really well.

Putting it all together

We had our last swim clinic today.  I have missed about half of the clinics, and have made a ton of improvement since the last one I went to.  I couldn’t even swim half a length then, and my form was nonexistent.   Between getting sick, and not having arraignments to have someone watch the kids, I just couldn’t make many of them.

I was hoping that I could get some pointers from an expert today and see just what I needed to work on.  The night went really well.  The instructor said I was looking very good and only had a few suggestions.   I have been working on my wife’s swimming–I know it’s like the blind leading the blind–and I got the idea of having my wife watch the instructor do a lap so she could see where she needed to put her arms.  The instructor suggested that I get under the water and watch her swim by.  That was probably the best thing that she could have done for me.  Here is what I learned from tonight, and the things I need to work on in the coming weeks.

  1. I have been holding my head to low in the water, she suggested that the water come up to just over the forehead because it would be easier for me to breathe, she was right, as soon as I did that it made things much easier, now I just have to work on keeping my chest deeper in the water
  2. I have to rotate much more than I have been.  Watching her was an eye opener for me.  She rotates much more than I expected, in fact, even watching her from above I wasn’t able to see just how much body roll she was getting, her shoulders were almost completely stacked on each stroke.
  3. I have to coordinate the pull stroke so that I start the hard pull when my forearm and hand are straight up and down in the water.  As I pull that catch arm, I need to make a more complete rotation, and push my recovery arm in.  I did that a few times correctly and felt a much stronger thrust.
  4. Pool turns.  As I get better endurance I need to practice the turns.  She showed us how to grab the pool edge with our lead hand, then flip our legs to the wall while leaving our trailing hand stretched out and pointing in the opposite direction.  Then, with a push of our legs, the hand that was holding the wall comes back quickly to join the other hand and then a few dolphin kicks to get 5 or so yards out before coming up for the first stroke.  When that was going well I was getting 5 or more yards out of it, when it wasn’t going as smoothly I just kind of stalled in the water and went nowhere.  I need to practice that, but for now it is pointless since my endurance doesn’t let me complete even one lap without getting winded.

So, that’s that.  I have a lot of practice to build up endurance, but I really felt the best I have felt since starting to swim.  I have made a ton of progress, and so has my wife.  To think, just over a month ago I wrote the words “OK, I’m not sure the swim instructor got the memo that I DON”T KNOW HOW TO SWIM!!!”  In fact, today I got a few compliments, not only from the instructor, but from another clinic participant.   So, I guess no matter what happens, I am proud of what I have been able to do these last few weeks.  Time to prepare a new memo for the instructor, I can swim!!!

I plan on putting together a post in the coming days about the Total Immersion Easy Freestyle DVD, and the things I that I think really helped me figure this out.  But for now, practice practice, practice.  Don’t forget, I have my first triathlon on Sunday!  I’m really looking forward to it.  I hope I don’t conk out on the run, I have been a slacker in that department, but I think I can do 2 miles without too much trouble.  We’ll see.

OMG I am going to puke!

Those were my thoughts today with about 10 minutes left in spin class. It was all I could do to pull myself together. The workout was so intense and grueling that I was struggling to breathe. I spent a few seconds considering whether I should go to the bathroom just in case and then thought I should just tough it out. I’m not gonna lie, I did consider the implications of hurling in the poor girl in front of me, but I just knew I would hold it together.

The workout was great, but I didn’t get any stats because I forgot to wear my monitor. That’s probably for the best as I can only imagine that the watch would be exhausted from just trying to keep up with my heart.

I went swimming a bit later in the day. I am feeling much more comfortable with my swimming, but I still have a lot of work to do. The pool I was swimming in was also used by a highschool swim team. There was a board on the wall with swim times for various students. A quick scan of the board revealed that the 9th grade girls were swimming 50 yards only slightly faster than I was swimming 25! 29 seconds to finish 50 yards. I can’t even imagine swimming that fast. Wow do I have a lot to learn.

Back in the saddle

Today is the first day I felt well enough to get back to training, so off to the pool I went. I had a mixed day. I started off just warming up and running through a couple of Total Immersion drills. Then I tried to punch out 9 laps as best as I could. In a little over a week I will need to do 9 laps for my first training tri so that is my goal.

Here are my stats:

8 Laps 400 yards in 30 minutes. That includes the warm up of maybe 5 minutes or so.

I was struggling though I averaged a 140HR that spiked above 150 each length of the pool. So instead of doing the last lap, I decided to work on some more drills.

Here are the issues that I have that I really need to focus on:

  • I am still struggling to keep my breath
  • I can tell that my form on the recovery part of my left arm is really bad, I need to get it to match the right which is much better
  • I am kicking too much and too hard
  • I’m carrying my head too high in the water

I think a lot of these tie together.  Let me explain:

My head is too high and that is causing me to kick too much to try to keep balanced.  The extra kicks are making my heart rate go up and making me breathe too heavily.  The left arm is just an issue of coordination.

So as I said, I worked on drills.  I forced my head further into the water and immediately felt that downhill swimming feeling that they talk about in Total Immersion.  I worked on slowing down the stroke for the drill, and things started feeling good.  I was breathing easier, I was making better forward progress, and things were feeling about right.  Now I just need to ingrain that feeling, and build up some swim endurance.

After some short drills, I tried doing some full lengths with the same slow pace that I did the drills, and things felt much easier!


I’m feeling terrible today. Sneezy, sniffly and just plain icky. Training will wait another day.


Back in ancient civilization there was always talk of various demons, monsters, dragons and other mythical beasts.  The names changed, but the ideas remained constant.  Some unknown beast lurking in the shadows patiently waiting to tear you to pieces.  I’ve often wondered where these ideas came from.  They were such a constant over time, and now a days they just seem to be Hollywood stories.  Good for a few scares and no more.

I was thinking this morning about demons, and I realized that they are still with us every day.  The ancients would give names to their fears, the things they didn’t understand.  These irrational fears or issues in their lives had to be caused by something, must be demons.

Well, our demons are our fears.  Fear of heights, public speaking, death, etc.  Like the demons of yore, our fears keep us from doing the things we want to do.  Fear of failure stops us from starting that business we always wanted to do.  Fear of flying stops us from seeing the world.

My current demon is the pool.  It taunts me and makes me lose my form.  It makes me anxious when the water gets too deep.  It lurks in the darkness and tries to make me give up.  But, like the knights of the middle ages, I will slay this demon, and I will swim.   No guts, no glory.

I wonder if  Speedo has an armor line?  Maybe one that floats?

Did I speak too soon?

Today I upgraded to the lap pool from the kiddie pool.  I made a rough measurement, and I think that the multi-purpose pool (a.k.a. kiddie pool) at the YMCA is about 15 yards long.  The lap pool is 25 yards long.  The lap pool is also 9′ deep on one end.  Standing on one end of the lap pool after being in the other pool reminded me of that scene from Poltergeist where the Mom (actress JoBeth William) is running down the hall and it gets progressively longer the more she tries to run.  I’ve seen shorter runways at airports.  I’m not sure if it was the length of the pool, or the fact that sections were so deep that my safety net was missing, but I lost my form.  I struggled a little with breathing compared to yesterday.

I did manage to pull it together and get full lengths out of my swim.  That is more than I could do last time I was in the lap pool.  Hopefully things will get easier as I get my brain over the fact that I am in a deep pool and can die any minute!  I think building endurance is going to be huge too.  It will be much easier for me when I’m not panting after going 25 yards.  Tomorrow is my swim clinic, I sure hope that I don’t make a fool of myself.

  • The Narcissist Section (a.k.a. Me Me Me)

  • January 2010
    M T W T F S S
    « Dec   Feb »
  • Categories

  • Copyright © 1996-2010 My Triathlon Adventure. All rights reserved.
    iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress