My First Aquabike

18 06 2012

Is anyone else as bummed as I am that the weekend is over? I spent my weekend in Orlando with Bill, reunited after 5 weeks apart, while he was working in Alaska! The weekend was great, but far too short!

Bill and I are both competitive people, so what better way to spend our weekend than racing? A little over a month ago, I told Bill there was a triathlon in Orlando the weekend he returned from Alaska. He enthusiastically said “Let’s do it!”, excited to have a triathlon fit into his busy work schedule. I was extra pumped because this would be his first real triathlon; he’d only done a practice tri with the DC Tri Club one time when he was visiting me. So, I registered us both for the Moss Park Father’s Day Olympic Triathlon, and anxiously awaited Bill’s return.

About a week leading up to the race, I was on the fence about doing the full tri or dropping down to the aquabike because of my stupid foot injury. I really wanted to do the full, after seeing how small the field was, but I knew that I probably shouldn’t. I went back and forth a number of times, telling myself I could just push through the injury. But after some encouragement from Bill, reminding me that I have a half ironman in the fall to focus on, I decided it probably would be for the best to NOT run. I didn’t want to ruin the rest of my season by making the injury worse, and I haven’t ran more than a mile since the Crystal River Tri at the end of May. Running almost 6 miles cold just wouldn’t be smart.

So, when Bill and I picked up our packets on Friday, I switched to the aquabike.

We got up bright and early on Saturday morning, and headed over to Moss Park. We arrived with plenty of time, thank goodness, because we had a little incident while pumping up my tires. Bill stuck the nozzle on my back tire valve, and started pumping, saying “No whammie, no whammie!” Now, I’m familiar with the game show, Press Your Luck, but I was wondering why Bill was saying this when he was only pumping up my tires. No sooner did I ask, “Why are you saying that?” that I heard the unmistakeable “PSHHHHHHH” sound. Oh, that’s why. The pump got stuck on the valve, and when trying to pull it out, the valve came off the tube. Crap. No big deal, we can change a tire.

So, Bill took a new tube, got it in the tire, got the tire on the wheel, and then started pumping the tire up. I noticed the gauge on the pump wasn’t holding a steady number. The needle went up, and then fell back down. I felt the tire, and it felt really full. I told Bill what I had observed, and the next pump he took, “PSHHHHHHHHHHHHH.” Double crap. Now I was getting nervous. I had another tube, but the clock was ticking. I ran over to see if there was bike support to help us, but there wasn’t. I asked a triathlete who was setting up his transition area if he could help us change the tire, and he said he’d help when he was done setting up. Phew, ok. But it was getting closer and closer to the time when transition would close. The man asked if I could bring my bike over, so I ran back to the car to check on Bill. He had successfully changed the tire and was putting my wheel back on my bike. PHEW. Crisis averted.

We were not this smiley 15 minutes ago!

We walked over to transition, got marked up, and then, because the race was so small, we could choose wherever we wanted to rack our bikes. Bill and I picked the rack closest to the bike in and out. He and I were the only ones on the rack, so we had plenty of space for our stuff. I set up my stuff, including clipping my shoes to the bike. This was the first race I was going to try this, since Bill and I had practiced bike mounts and dismounts on Friday afternoon. I was a little nervous about it, but I knew it would allow me a much faster transition.

It was so weird not putting my running shoes in transition!

After we set up, we walked down to the water for the pre-race meeting. The water was a warm 79 degrees, and murky, murky, murky. Seriously, it was a dark as a cup of black coffee. I couldn’t see my hand 5 inches in front of my face. Gross. I tried not to think about it, that and the fact that there were probably gators in the water. Florida triathlons bring me different worries than the tris up north.

Bill was in the first wave, so I wished him luck, gave him a kiss, and then they were off! The swim course was 1.5K, two laps around the lake, marked off by big orange buoys. My wave was sent off six minutes later, after the other men’s wave. My wave included all women, triathletes and aquabikers.

I started the swim feeling really weak. I don’t know if I hadn’t eaten enough, or if my arms were still feeling like Jello after the crazy amount of pulling I did at Wednesday night’s swim practice. (Thanks, Felipe.)

I was the first woman to the first buoy, and  shortly after turning the corner, I started passing men from the wave in front of me. I still was feeling tired as I swam, but tried to focus on having good technique. As I rounded the buoy to make my second lap, I finally started to feel a little better in the water. Maybe I just wasn’t warmed up? I kept swimming, and the whole time I was wondering where Bill was. He’s a phenomenal athlete, but I know that the swim leg is his weakest leg, and I just wanted to make sure he was doing okay. I rounded the last buoy to head in, and as I was sighting for the beach, I spotted him, a few strokes ahead of me. I swam up next to him, gave him a tap on the leg, smiled at him when he looked at me, and swam to the finish. I was so glad I saw him. He was doing great!

Swim time: 0:20:16

I got out of the water and began running on the beach towards transition. I knew that transition was a LONG way away, I’d guess at least a tenth of a mile. I had run maybe 200 yards down the beach, and I was breathing really heavy, and I was feeling really lightheaded. I stopped to walk for a little bit, let a few guys pass me, and then I jogged slowly to my bike. No need to kill myself! When I checked my results after the race, I was really surprised  to see that they had timed the run to transition! I’ve never had a Run 1 time, unless I had done a duathlon! So, my run time was 0:02:47, pretty slow since I had walked.

I was putting on my gear at my bike when Bill ran up to his bike. It was great to see him again in transition. We exchanged a few words of encouragement, and I was off!

T1 time: 0:01:01

The time I spent in transition was still a little longer than I had liked, but I definitely didn’t have clipping in problems like I had at the Crystal River Tri, since my shoes were already on the bike! Thankfully, I had a clean mount, and started pedaling out of the park. I don’t even think I had started to put my feet into the shoes when Bill passed me. I knew the bike leg was his strongest, so I smiled, waved and told him to go get it!

The bike was 40K, two loops around the Moss Park neighborhood. I was pretty nervous going into this ride, because it looked like it had a lot of turns, based on the map posted on the website. The map was really poorly drawn and I wasn’t familiar with the area at all, so I was REALLY hoping there’d be volunteers at all of the intersections. I did not want to repeat Rock Hall!

Thankfully, the course was well marked and there were police and/or volunteers at ever intersection. It was really flat, and there was a lot of shade on the course (at least I thought so!).

I knew I was the first woman out on the course, so I was just trying to see how long I could go before the speedy cyclists passed me. Not long at all was how long I kept the lead. Around mile 3, the first female cyclist passed me. I knew I wasn’t really competing with her, because she was marked with a “T” for triathlon, but I still was hoping to do well. I stayed in second for the next three miles, when a group of three women passed me, also doing the full triathlon. Doh!

Since the course was really loopy, I could see just how far in front of me these ladies were. I kept trying to catch them, but I was unsuccessful. Oh well, at least I got to see Bill a few times on the bike. I smiled and waved every time we crossed paths. I was so happy to see him doing so well!

I came in to the bike dismount area and unclipped from my bike. As soon as I got off the bike, I realized my mistake. I was supposed to get my feet out of my shoes before getting to the dismount area, and then get off the bike, and run barefoot. WHOOPS! I guess I didn’t practice enough?

Oh well, I ran with my bike shoes on, through the grass and sand back into transition. I racked my bike, took off my helmet, threw off my shoes, and ran to the finish line. I know I probably didn’t need to do anything other than rack my bike, but oh well! I crossed the line as the first aquabike finsher in 1:35:37.58.

My bike time was 1:10:31, which puts me at about 21 mph for the bike. I think the bike was a little shy of 40K, so I’m not sure how accurate that bike speed is. But, if it is accurate, I’m quite happy with that!

After I finished, I headed back towards the transition area, because I knew the run passed by there (the run course was also 2 laps) and I was hoping to catch Bill. I saw him looking strong, and I ran with him for a few meters, before telling him I’d see him at the finish. He was looking good!

Less than 30 minutes later, I watched Bill cross the finish line of his first triathlon.

I am SUPER PROUD of Bill. He did amazing for his first triathlon, and now has the experience under his belt before our half irronman in October. Icing on the cake? He got 2nd in his age group! Oh, and he did all of this after traveling for about 27 hours – Thursday early morning to Friday mid morning, without taking a nap on Friday! He’s an animal!

I’m really glad I didn’t let the competitor in me do something stupid and race the full tri. I think my foot still needs to rest a bit more, but it feels like it is getting better! Better to be safe than sorry, right?

This was a fun, local race, and a great one for newbies. With a small field, and a little shorter run, its a great way to break into an Olympic triathlon. Besides the gross lake and the ugly tee shurt, I thought it was a pretty good race!

Dunedin Sprint Tri- A Race Spectator’s Report

12 06 2012

On Sunday, I experienced a triathlon from the other side- as a spectator!

Courtney and Felipe were racing in the Dunedin Sprint Tri so I decided to go cheer them on. Dunedin isn’t too far away, and the race was on Honeymoon Island, which I had heard was a beautiful park with a gorgeous beach. Say no more; I’ll go cheer you on as long as I can get a good spot on the beach to relax afterwards 🙂

(yes, I did a little post-processing 🙂 )

I left my house a little after 6am on Sunday, and got to the race site with plenty of time to spare. It didn’t take me too long to find Courtney, and we stood around chatting until it was time for her wave.

While we were chatting, the first wave started. Or, at least we thought they were. We noticed that the mass of youth in maroon caps was heading out to the buoy; some were swimming, some were walking. That’s weird, I thought. A few moments later, when most of the swimmers were out to the buoys, the siren went off, and that’s when there was a flurry of splashing arms and legs. Oh, apparently this race had an in-water start because of the sandbar.

The start line was about where that yellow buoy is in the picture above. Courtney left me when the woman announced “2 minutes until start.” Yipes! 2 minutes to get out to the buoy wasn’t a lot of time. I don’t think anyone in the white caps was even in the water yet! I watched as the mass of white caps moved towards the starting buoy, and before I knew it, the siren was starting this wave. I’m positive there were a lot of people unprepared for that start. I did notice that the wave after the white caps learned from their mistakes and moved into the water immediately after the white caps left the beach.

I walked the quarter mile down beach to the swim exit and kept my eyes open for Courtney and Felipe. I was also searching for Jess, who I thought was racing, but it turned out she wasn’t.

Soon, Courtney popped out of the water. She was the 2nd white cap out, not too far behind the girl who came out first. Not too long after came Felipe who was in a wave or two behind Courtney. I almost missed him!

After they both passed, I walked over to the bike course to see if I could catch them there. The bike course was two loops, a total of 12 miles. I snagged a spot near the start of the bike, where I could catch the cyclists making their turn for the second loop, and then only a few meters away I could catch them again on their way into transition. I was standing with some other spectators, watching the cyclists go by, and we noticed one of the volunteers standing on the course, telling the cyclists to “Slow down, left merge.” I’m glad this guy was volunteering, and I’m glad he was concerned for the cyclist’s safety, but I think my biggest problem was that he was standing on the curve, about five feet into the course. The road wasn’t all that wide; it was barely wide enough for two cars to fit through. Some cyclists like to take the curves wide, and this guy was totally taking away valuable real estate on the course! I was frustrated, and I wasn’t even racing! I wonder if any of the cyclists were bothered by him. /rant

Anyhow, I was watching every cyclist go by, keeping my eyes out for Felipe and Courtney. Though I had seen Felipe exit the swim, I hadn’t registered what he was wearing. So, I kept looking for the tri suit he had worn at the Crystal River Tri. Every time a group of guys came buy I would look and snap some photos. When most of the lead guys had finished their first lap, I figured I had missed Felipe so I started looking for Courtney.

I saw Courtney looking like a total pro on the bike.

I gave her a holler and then moved to the straightaway right before transition. I cheered on some more cyclists, and then I saw Felipe! He was moving fast and ready to hop off his bike and run.

It was at this point I realized that Felipe was a) not wearing the same tri suit as Crystal River and b) not wearing the same helmet either. Had I known he was wearing a bright green helmet, I’d probably have spotted him on the first lap, instead of taking a picture of someone who I thought might have been him, and unintentionally ACTUALLY getting him in the photo.


I got to see Courtney finish up the bike, and then I walked to transition. Where I was photographing the bike leg wasn’t too far from the transition area, but I was pleasantly surprised to get there just in time to see Courtney run out!

I was so caught off guard, that I didn’t have time to fiddle with the camera settings, so she came out a little blurry 😦

After seeing her start the run, I headed over to the finish area. Twenty-some minutes later (or less?) I saw my friends finish. I clearly have problems with focusing on runners because all of my pictures of Felipe are blurry:

And Courtney too:

Oh well, at least I got a good shot of them with their awards:

Courtney took 3rd in her age group, and Felipe took 2nd. Studs.

After the race, it was beach time! I brought a cap and goggles and planned on going for a short swim as my workout for the day. Felipe and Courtney said they’d go too. So we spotted a boat about 200 meters or so out and decided to swim out to it, go around it, and back in. When we were just about to the boat, it started to pull away. We stopped swimming, and joked with them that they were our turn around point and now they’d moved! They told us they’d spotted a 6 foot hammer head, which is why they were relocating. GULP. We asked if they were joking, and it was clear they were serious. We IMMEDIATELY swam to shore. I’d like to keep my limbs today, thank you!

After our little shark scare, Courtney and I relaxed on the beach and read for a bit, before heading over to downtown Dunedin for some lunch. Dunedin is so cute! Lots of little shops with art and home decor; it’s the kind of stuff you’d probably see on Pinterest. There are also yummy places to eat! We decided to check out the Broadway Deli and Cafe, drawn in by the fact that they were still serving breakfast.

We walked in, and were immediately intrigued by the soda case.

Lots of unique sodas, made with real sugar and not HFCS. We opted to get one honey cream soda and one blackberry soda, and share. One of the reasons why I got the blackberry soda:

The brand was “Hotlips!” Hahah. It also didn’t hurt that these were the ingredients:

simple, real ingredients. love it!

Courtney and I got two different egg dishes and split them.

The farmer’s market omelet, served with a potato pancake and whole grain toast.

And the bacon and egg wrap (on ciabatta so it uh wasn’t a wrap).

MMM both were delicious! The farmers market omelet was LOADED with veggies, many of which I had never had in an omelet before. We noticed broccoli, zucchini, squash, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, and tomatoes. The omelet was filled with some gooey meunster cheese, which made it oh so yummy! The ciabatta bread totally made the sandwich. Perfectly crispy on the outside. Fantastic!

And, we couldn’t leave Dunedin without a trip to Strachan’s for some ice cream!

I got a scoop of Butterfinger and it hit the spot!

This one’s for you dad!

I would HIGHLY recommend Strachan’s. The ice cream was SO GOOD! If you go, it’s cash only (but there’s an ATM inside).

I got home and was too exhausted to head to the Tampa Bay Lady Blogger meet up 😦 Yoga in the park sure looked like fun though! All in all, I’d say it was a great Sunday! Spectating certainly is exhausting and now I definitely have a greater appreciation for friends and family who have watched me race!

SOHO Cycling Studio

10 06 2012

The past several days here in Tampa have been rainy, rainy, rainy. The weather’s made it kinda hard to get in my workouts, since I do pretty much all of them outside. I know I could go to the gym, but the closest LA Fitness is a good 20 minutes away, and the gym at my complex is pretty lame.

So on Thursday when Beth asked if I wanted to head over to the SOHO Cycling Studio for the 7:30 class, I immediately said yes. I remembered reading Mary‘s post about SOHO when I first moved to Tampa, and I made a mental note to check it out, so I was really excited that I was finally making it to a class.

I reserved my spot online for a one time drop in fee of $15. Beth told me that first timers are free, but I think you need to call and make your reservation, which I didn’t. At $15 a pop for a drop in, it can get a little pricey, but they have various multi-visit packages you can buy. I thought it was pretty cool that you could pick your bike number too. They have a diagram of the room, with notations where the instructor sits, where the fans are, and where the big screens are, and then you just click on the bike number you want. Beth reserved bike 14, so I snagged bike 15.

When I walked in, I could tell this was going to be great. I found my bike no problem, thanks to Beth and the little card with my name on it 🙂 The studio was clean, spacious, and filled with bikes. I think there were 3 rows of 10. There was an elevated platform in the front of the room for the instructor, and two big screens playing music videos on either side of the instructor’s platform. Lady Gaga was blasting in the speakers, and I smiled, ready for a workout to kick my butt.

And my butt got a good whooping! The instructor, Jessica, made us work! She mixed the workout up with some sprints, climbs, jumps, changing positions, you name it! There was also one song that we sat up and did overhead presses the entire time; I’m pretty sure it was an EP too, so by the end, my arms were Jello! They hurt the next day!

Jessica’s music choice was great too. She played a lot of dance music that I was familiar with, and threw in a few other songs, like Headsprung. Whoa, college flashback! Oh, and she switched off the music videos and put on some “extreme sport” videos-snowboarding, surfing, mountain biking, wind surfing, etc. I loved having the visual stimulation because it allowed my mind to focus on something other than the pain in my legs! It also reminded me of Bill, who’s an avid surfer and mountain biker:-)

At the end of class, I was drenched in sweat, but had a huge smile on my face. That’s exactly the kind of workout I wanted/needed. My only complaint about the class would be that sometimes Jessica was hard to hear over the music, since her microphone broke. I feel like that always happens though…

I had a great experience at SOHO, and would love to return. But because I ride outside so much, it doesn’t really make sense for me to spin all that frequently. I’m going to keep my eye out for a groupon (that’s how Mary and Beth started going), but maybe will treat myself to a drop in class every now and again. 🙂 If you’re in the area, definitely check it out!