Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I think I am a swimmer......

For a lot of triathletes the swim is the challenge, I am no exception!the shorter the distance the worse I am off as I loose so much time in the swim it is hard to make it up on the bike and run!
Pink caps females at the start of a 6.2 mile ocean swim
When I lived in Puerto Rico I used to swim 2 miles every morning in the Bay of Boqueron it was a slice of Paradise..swimming like that is not going to make me faster but it gave me endurance!
Pool at tri masters Covina
So when I moved to California and was not with in 5 minutes of a white sand beach I joined various health clubs for their pools and different university or collage pools I finally joined a Masters Swim program
getting ready to start a cool down
SO here is the deal, I learn t pool jargon, so I could do sets of 100s on 2:15, always 500 warm up, sometimes 10 50s with 10 seconds rest. I do stroke technique, high elbow, reach I use a pull buoy and paddles, a kick board and even fins, in the hope my swimming will one day become acceptable, but I am human and in the other lanes are lean swimming machines, adults that were high school swimmers or athletes that have been coached from the beginning on stroke technique.

Somedays I feel like I do not belong, as I struggle through the sets and work outs I go home disillusioned then there are other days when all the stars are aligned and I manage to do the complete work out that I go home happy.

But on the days I feel upset and wonder why I bother to get up so early in the morning to swim I must remind myself of my personnel journey to get to where I am today in the pool. When I first started Covina Masters I could not kick across the pool now I can do 500, its not fast but at least I move!
I like to think I have improved and must really focus on the lane I am in and not look at all the other swimmers swimming so fast!

I was once compared to a pressure cooker, it seems I just cannot go THAT fast that I want to puke and not faint! so before I reach my max output I let out my steam and go into cruise control.

I once signed up for the Survival of the Shawangunks in upstate New York....why? because it predominately featured several cold lake swims in between running I am not afraid to challenge myself. Brrr lake swimming was an interesting eye opener to fresh water swimming!! I have also done 3 mile swims in Grand Cayman and beach to Beach swims in St John, I can swim it just is not fast!!

 At least in California a wet suit is allowed in most of the triathlons and I cannot see myself swimming the Catalina Channel any time soon were wet suits are not allowed! 
Some of my swimming gear....

So now I try to imagine the Olympian swimmers were their hands enter the water or how their bodies rotate.
I do not mind doing back stroke although on more than one occasion I have whacked myself on the pool dividers, it is quite a nice stroke actually and sometimes I get to see green parrots flying over head!
Breast stroke , mm if I thought my free style was slow then my breast stroke is like molasses!!!
Attempting butterfly stroke would surely result in a visit to the local emergency room!
I actually like doing one armed drills, superman kicks, catch up stroke etc its all good in a painful way!!! I just want to be more efficient in the swim portion so I can do a good bike and great run....
If only I could wear my scuba gear for the triathlon swim portion that would even out the field!!
 The most beautiful place I have competed in has to be Kona Hawaii as that 6.2 mile swim although long and the currents and jelly fish sometimes play havoc there is clear ocean, marine life I could watch all day to detract from swimming, dolphins, whales reef fish turtles and yes even sharks, sure beats the dotted line in the pool!!!

I have made some fantastic friends who are World class swimmers and below is a video taken a few years ago in Hawaii in an endless pool
I have also spent many hours reading about stroke technique and watching videos
just some of my swimming gems...
At the end of the day yes I am still a swimmer I could just concentrate on biking and running but I actually like the challenge of the swim!!! I do not always smell like chlorine but I am still a swimmer!!
So I still go to practice, as I know that if I keep going one day something will click!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Heat Exhaustion really me????

Well every now and again when the mercury dips past 100 F some one some where will get heat stroke or in my case heat exhaustion which if not caught can leave you feeling like crap. So I decided to blog about my experience and share what I learnt in the hope or preventing this in another athlete.
Dawn breaks at 5.25am
It was already heating up to be a warm day when I decided to swim early in the am, it was shaping up to be a wonderful day. After my swim I had a good breakfast and went to get my double Triall3sport case out of the garage ....I spent the next two hours soaked in my own sweat as I labored to get the bike box out and clean up the mess I made! (did not drink too much fluid either)
Had my plan for avoiding cramps etc and keep my body functioning.
It was 1pm in the afternoon when I decided a ride in the canyons was in order, despite it being rather warm I thought I would have this wrapped up in no time and had frozen two bottles of water for extra back up and two normal bottles of Heed and Perpetuem on the bike, as the ride usually takes me around 3 hours ish....

I set off all smiles, I slip slap slopped Ocean Potion 50 so would not burn, and was excited to cycle into the canyons. At the base of the Canyon I had already gone through one bottle of fluid I thought mmm better refill at the Parks services as the next stop would not be until East Fork 8 miles done and 12 to go.

I began the climb it was ridiculously hot and I thought strange how I was not seeing any other cyclists or joggers but what a beautiful day, the small little down hills offered little relief from the heat just hot muggy air, I changed out all my bottles for the fresh ones in my back pocket which sadly were no longer frozen and tepid would describe the contents.
Holy Moly it was a 110 in the shade at 2.30pm!!
I stopped 20 miles into my ride to get new water bottles filled from a tap in some bushes near East Fork, a ranger recognized me and could not believe I was cycling in the in sane heat! I explained I was keeping well hydrated and had plenty of electrolytes etc...
At this point I should have turned around and descended down Azusa Canyon but my inner reasoning told me what!!! only a 5 mile climb and then I can descend 9 miles and be home in another 5 after that so I chose the uphill......

I started climbing it was hot, the heat from the road was reflecting off my glasses, I felt like I was putting in a really hard effort of cycling but when I looked at my Polar heart rate it was around 140, I knew the heat was affecting my better judgement. I planned to stop every mile and slow down I did not have a head ache and felt quite happy despite feeling tired....

All smiles at the top of the climb, it was seriously hot and could not wait to ride down the Mountain  road to home.

It was a beautiful day I had a total of 7 bottles of fluid in 4 hours I felt good....
  When I finally returned home I took a protein drink and then my BIG mistake of the day was to liquidize a whole water melon making 4 bottles of water melon juice, it tasted divine and I thought was great way to re hydrate, we went out later that evening and I began to get a blistering headache, I thought I needed fresh air so I ran home at 11pm. The weather was decidedly cooler and enjoyed my jog home. I was asleep by 1am.

Hammer was my Doctor the next morning!
I woke at 7.30am, had breakfast but had a horrible headache and felt a little nauseated, I thought I just need to sleep a little and rest and should be fine, but as the morning progressed so did my headache and I was going to the bathroom a lot too. I called my husband as did not feel good, I put an ice pack on my head to cool down I was pretty concerned as felt dizzy when standing and just felt blah!
not happy as I tried to get rid of a pulsating headache!
As late afternoon came around I had to call a friend who is a nurse as I was feeling AWFUL he asked me a few questions....
On a scale of 1 to 10 how would I rate my headache (I said a 7 with Advil... without a 9)
Did I feel sick.....yes
Was I dizzy another yes

I needed medication for Nausea and Pain  
Saline Fluid
Apparently I was displaying all the signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses! The best option for the quickest return to health would be an intravenous a liter of Saline fluid!
my little dog Hammer was really concerned but he sensed I was not well and have me lots of doggy cuddles

The bottom line was I should never have done a 45 mile strenuous bike ride in triple digit heat as my body could not keep cool enough, I also should not have eaten the water melon which is a diuretic and helped me become really dehydrated the next day.
IV s although only a liter of saline fluid is the equivalent I was told to 2.5 gallons of fluid I would have to consume to get the same benefit! The difference is the IV is going straight into the vein hence the Vascular space is getting immediate hydration and cooling, and my cells are becoming pumped with hydration.I cannot lie as much as I HATE needles I fell in love with the IV and the medication as my relief was immediate.

Below are a few questions to ask your self and if you say YES to any one of them I would highly advise you to call a doctor

Do you continue to have blurred vision, a headache, or vomiting after 1 hour of first aid measures and drinking fluids
Do you have a fast heart rate (over 120 beats per minute) or fast breathing (hyperventilation) after 1 hour of first aid measures and drinking fluids?
 Do you still feel very tired, lightheaded, dizzy, or weak after 1 hour of first aid measures and drinking fluids?
Do you continue to sweat profusely or have pale, cool, and moist skin after 1 hour of first aid measures and drinking fluids?
Do you have abdominal cramps, severe heat cramps, or muscle aches after 1 hour of first aid measures and drinking fluids?
Do you continue to feel weak, thirsty, and have mild heat cramps after using home treatment measures?          
Do you continue to feel faint after exercising in a hot environment despite using home treatment measures?
Do you continue to feel nauseated and lightheaded after using home treatment measures?

I did not have any heat cramps, I just had a wicked headache, felt extremely nauseated and very tired. Despite drinking and taking in a healthy diet it was just too hot for my body to be cycling the body could not cool fast enough, added to which just 4 days prior to the heat exhaustion I was suffering from being to cold while scuba diving to 100 feet ....

At the end of the day we must listen to our bodies they give pain and send signals for a reason. We all have different levels of tolerance I met mine on that ride and it cost me two days of slow recovery.

Plenty of time to ride when the weather is more favorable!

Here is a recap of my 4 hour journey...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 4th great day for training!!

I grew up in England and although a blurry recollection of many different celebrations July 4th was never celebrated! As an athlete who has done the Boston Marathon recollections of the Boston tea party come to mind!! But that did not stop me enjoying a beautiful July 4th in California!!!

By 7am I had ran 3 miles and swam 3000 in the pool !

My day began at 5am I decided to run to the pool and do a nice swim which included a few painful sets of stream line kicking but all good, while doing back stroke I had the pleasure of seeing green parrots fly over head! I ran home showered and quickly jumped on my beloved Cannondale to head out to Glendora Mountain Road (GMR)
Finally caught the tail end of the SC VELO ride at the top of the ridge road.
 I rode alone watching my speed hoping to make the gate at 8am to meet SC VELO, but as soon as I started the small climb to the gate I knew they had probably gone. Always great to ride up GMR on July 4th as the roads are closed so preventing the motor bikes and cars on the road. Lots of cyclists and hikers out enjoying the day I just wanted to catch the tail end of the cycling group.
Met Colin Campbell at the top of the ridge always great to run into him
I enjoyed my day I did a total of 60miles,it was not with out a few challenges as I had a little difficulty in shifting finally when my chain fell off the chain ring and got stuck between my frame and ring was time to seriously assess the situation! Luckily I was riding with a great group of SC VELO riders and I mentioned I was not going to change gear again as I had broken my other chain a few months back when my friend said I think you need to stop and sure enough one of the links was making its bid for freedom! Lesson learnt here I carry a spare chain link, and tool, but my friend Jeff took matters into his own hands and fixed my chain for me but we had the tools to do the job!! My second mis fortune if you could call it that was a front tire blow out on the descent of GMR wobbled a bit but again I had spare tubes and co2 so was able to change this and carry on with my July 4th celebrations.
My beloved mode of transportation after surgery! Will ride again!
Just loved being out on the bike meeting friends along the ridge road rode all the way to Baldy Post office were I could re group and get water and take in my nutrition.
Roxy, Michelle and Jeff thanks for the company across the ridge.

Was really nice to chat with Liesel for a while on the road too.
Got to admire Brent he took the tandem up GMR along the ridge with his son! That is dedication!

Good to see my friend Mr Pain Freak out on the ridge.   
It is ALL about the bike!!
On my way home I stopped to appreciate the view of the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains, how lucky am I to be able to train here in Southern California, enjoy new friendships and be healthy too.