Friday, August 31, 2007

August Club Aquathlon

(Sunset at the Shores after the race. Thanks Paul for the pic!)

I learned the best way to get over a slump is to go and do a great workout. So after all my whining, I had some extra coffee and a Snickers and headed down to the Shores. I got there around 5:30 and got rock-star parking. Since the Aquathlon didn't start until 6:30, I figured I could get in some extra swim time.

Since my wetsuit is being repaired, and I'm trying to toughen up for winter, I "braved" it without a wetsuit. Normally, this wouldn't have been a problem since the water has been in the mid-70s. However, it had dropped yesterday to a chilly 67. I felt the bite on my feet as I slowly submerged myself into the water. Shuffling my feet to avoid sting rays, I dove in. Suddenly, I was no longer cold. I could feel the current pulling gently against me but there were no waves, it was low tide, and the water was calm and glassy. It couldn't have been more perfect.
I looked down and saw swarms of leopard sharks below me in the shallow water. They're brown and black spots glistened in the light. They were so beautiful. Leopard sharks are harmless and they congregate to the Shores every fall for breeding season. Sigh. Another sign that fall is here. I couldn't believe how many they were! They liked the shallow water too. I felt like I was swimming on top of them. As the water deepened a little, the leopard sharks disappeared, and I was surrounded by tiny schools of fish.

(benign leopard sharks; they get pretty big though!)

I swam for about 20 minutes before getting out and chatting with friends. It was so nice to see people! The club is really like a big family. I glanced over and saw a cute, petite woman that looked really familiar. It dawned on me that it was legend, Kate Major. I got all twitterpated but finally drummed up the courage to go over and introduce myself as we were walking over to the start. She was very nice.
I was still chatting (no, me?) when the race started. I hung out in the back, allowing all the speedy people to run out ahead. I followed behind, comfortably finding my spot midst all the thrashing elbows and kicking feet. It was weird but I felt very comfortable in the pack. I had someone to draft off of the whole time. Even though I was working for the 1000 m, there was always someone to draft off of, and we were going with the current.
Got out, glanced at my watch. 17 minutes. Not bad...for me. I did have a current, however. Threw down my cap and goggles and took off barefoot on the sand. I love swimming without a wetsuit and running without shoes but I hardly ever run barefoot. I figured since it was only 3 miles and on sand, I could manage it.
I felt so free and liberated. So light on my feet. Lightning quick. I was It dawned on me that this was why I do these things. As I hit the 1.5 mile turn-around, I was feeling quite happy that I had convinced myself to come to the workout.
On the 2nd loop, my feet started complaining. I had figured it would be my arches or calves that would go first. (Although my Achilles are cramping something awful today). No, it was the skin on my big toes. I seriously thought I had gotten a piece of shell lodged in each toe. It felt like I was running on broken glass. I dodged over to the water to try and soothe the burning, searing pain. Then, I tried to block it out. Just focus on form. Since I felt so fast and light (and the run was pretty short), the adrenaline had really kicked in, and I ignored the pain until it was all over.
This morning, however, I could barely walk. I have a pair of nicely-matching blood blisters--like thumb prints--on both big toes. Now, I'm just trying to figure out how to block out the pain for my long run on Sunday. Novacaine shots? Suggestions?
(after the race with Tri Club friend, Elizabeth; Thanks, Paul for the pic!)

After the race, we noshed on really good food the Club always provides, and I chatted with friends. I saw other San Diego tri bloggers, James and Paul, which was really cool. Finally got to talk to James at a standstill, as opposed to when he's blasting by in a race. That was a first. We all watched the sunset. It was very nice.
(Kate winning IM-AZ).
The absolute highlight, however, was chatting to Kate Major. I got up the nerve to ask her to autograph my visor. She did...and even added her signature "curly head"!
(Kate's signature logo--the curly head)
Then, we started talking about triathlon. She was so open and friendly and humble. A true role model in my eyes. I asked her about Ironman Japan--during which she had gotten sick from the water and ended up doing the whole race with GI upset and hallucinations. She still got 2nd (but still seemed disappointed; she's an animal!). Yes, she finished the Ironman even though her stomach hurt and she was hallucinating. And still got 2nd! Unbelievable.
Then, I told her I was training for IM-AZ, which would be my first. She freely offered training advice and Ironman racing tips for the next 10-15 minutes! I hung on every word.
She said eventually your body just gets used to the longer distances and naturally learns how to pace itself. That the first one is always the hardest because of that. She also advised me not to make the mistake of thinking Arizona would be easy because it's relatively flat. She advised me to still do hill training and lots of aerobar training and hill training in my aerobars. She told me to do Torrey Pines repeats (a local 1 mile hill in our area) until I could go up comfortably in my aeros. Phew! I'm just glad I can do it at all! Once! She also gave recommendations on other good hills in the area--Poway to Ramona 67, Lake Hodges, Del Dios--I know of these and have done these so at least I'm on the right track!
Since it was getting dark, and she was getting ready to leave, I tried not to ask too many questions; however, she seemed really talkative. I could tell that she really loves the sport. It was just awesome.
Feeling great since last night. Even did a Masters Swim this morning! Guess the best way to get out of a slump is to go and do a great workout! I'm ready for a kick-ass weekend. Bring it!
For even more details about the Aquathlon last night, here's a great link
Apparently, Normann Stadler was there too, and I didn't even know it! Jeez.


Mon said...

Beautiful sunset!
I would be terrified if I saw those fish, they look pretty big to me!!!!

bunnygirl said...

Your swim with the fishes sounds fun! I don't get to swim open water enough to conquer my fear of going without a wetsuit, but I've never been afraid of the creatures in the water. Of course, it helps I don't live where there are any dangerous ones...

Kate Major sounds like a wonderful person. I love it that the "stars" of triathlon are for the most part such humble, ordinary folks.

Anonymous said...

Awesome report!!! Looks like you could teach me a few things.

jameson said...

The race was killer. I am stoked I didn't back out just b/c I was tired. It was good finally getting a chance to talk to you. keep the momentum and tear it up this weekend!!

Erika said...

Your evening sounds so awesome. Have an excellent training weekend. And thanks for your tips.

Mike said...

I'm jealous of your ocean thing I miss about SoCal. The "sea life" always keeps you on your toes out there!

Very cool chatting with Kate...she sounds like a cool cat!

Paul said...

I just spent the afternoon at the shores. There were so many leopard sharks, guitar fish, and sand sharks there. Gotta love living here!

qcmier said...

Glad you had a good workout. Love the sunset pic. I'm so jealous.