Today I did my last triathlon of the season…the Frantic Frog. It’s a 400m open-water swim, a 14-mile bike, and a 5K run. My longest tri of the season and the swim was in the lake that I panicked at the last time I swam in it because of the milfoil. I was VERY nervous, but I also knew I’d come really far so I was also REALLY excited.
The Panic Attack
Donnie suggested I spend some time in the water before the race started so I would maybe get my panic attack out of the way. (He’s not just cute, he’s smart too!) I got in early and swam and saw/felt all of the tall grass and started freaking out. Rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, tunnel vision…full blown panic…AND I COULD STILL TOUCH. I stood up and thought, This is it. I’m going home. I can’t do this. And I started walking out, trying to decide if I could just sit out and not be noticed. But, then I stopped myself, turned around and went back to swimming. Once I got past the grass and weeds? I calmed down substantially. I treaded water for a little bit, looking around, just getting a feel for the situation so that when I jumped in for the race I would know what to expect. Then I swam FURTHER OUT some more! Probably only 50m total, BUT STILL. That was great for me…and I got my panic attack out of the way BEFORE the race started. I’m glad I got it out of the way, but I still wish I had read tips on stopping a panic attack like my friend had told me too, as that probably would have helped even more!
We had to jump off a dock and there was a line of orange buoys to follow before getting to the giant yellow “TURN” bouy, which is where we would turn (obviously) and head back to shore…not back to the dock. So, basically it would be a straight swim out and then an angled swim back. I had a plan, because our coaches had told us where on the treeline to aim when coming back to shore. I am AWFUL at sighting still, but it’s much easier to do it by looking above the water line, so sighting on the trees would make things much easier. (Sighting: periodically glancing forward to make sure you’re still swimming towards your goal point.) Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to help me get out to the turn buoy. That was still a sight point level with the water, and that’s where I suck major donkey butts.
So, I jumped in and immediately started freestyle, which was a first for me. But, I realized my anxiety was getting the best of my and my heart rate was too high. So, I sidestroked a bit to calm down. Once I calmed down I went back to freestyle and did FINE. My only problem was I kept having to stop and sight and then I would slow and maybe sidestroke a bit. It was probably about 70% freestyle. BUT! No panic attacks! Not even when I felt people around me, kicking me or touching me! And no flipping to my back! Just a mild struggle trying to stay straight.
Once I got around the buoy, I got a little flustered because everyone else was swimming back along the bouys that marked the course OUT. But, I knew that was not the path IN. So, I stuck to my coaching and separated from the group. It worked out GREAT. My swim was shorter and easier because no one was around me! And – as I predicted – sighting on trees was so easy. So my swim back was probably 95% freestyle, EASY. And I came out of the water, not desperate to be done. I was okay with being done, but I wasn’t thinking THANK GOD THAT IS OVER and ready to burst into tears like I always did before.
AND NO FLIPPING TO MY BACK! Not even ONCE!
I headed to my bike, remembered everything in transition for the first time, started my GPS and was on my way! The bike was the longest I’d ever done in a race, but it was fine. I had a good ride. I got passed some, but I also did some passing. I didn’t feel like I was overworking (meaning I’m getting the hang of when to shift to what gears) but I felt like I was pushing it hard. I realized on the ride that I was EASILY looking at my watch/GPS the entire time. That’s a huge step for me. I remember on both of my last triathlons just barely being able to turn my wrist, and not being able to see the data, BECAUSE OF MY DEATH GRIP ON THE HANDLES. This time? I was constantly checking my speed/distance on my watching without flinching. (Yes. I know. I need a bike computer.) I’ve gotten a LOT more comfortable on the bike, that’s for DAMN sure.
I made it back in good time and headed out on the run. The run was fine, always is. I hated the beginning in the sun, but once we got back into the woods and the shade it was quite nice. Even with the rolling hills. The thing I loved about the course, and about my point in group, was I got to see TONS of people along the run and cheer for them. I love cheering for people ahead of me because I’ve learned when people BEHIND me cheer me on? It gives me a boost because I’m all…Dude…They have further to go and they cheered for me…I need to dig in! I just enjoyed the entire thing.
I probably could have pushed it a little harder, but I wasn’t sure how much I had so I was a bit conservative. I’m still not great at interpreting the way my legs field after the bike. Either way? I finished with a strong sprint to the finish and a smile on my face.
The race was GREAT. I enjoyed myself, I had fun, and I felt good about all of the events. I didn’t panic on the highway on my bike or in the milfoil in the water. I just kept thinking about how far I’ve come and just enjoying that feeling of progress and success. It was FANTASTIC.
It’s really hard to compare results from race to race, but basically my bike was as good as my last tri…which I was expecting. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten loads faster in the last month, but the fact that I held that speed for twice as long is a good thing. My run was a tad bit faster which is great since my bike was longer. The trick was…my swim. I felt like it should have been a LOT better, but I’ve been nervous because sometimes I feel like my freestyle may not be any faster than my side stroke. And according to EVERYONE, this swim was LONG. Like, I heard it was 600-650m total, instead of 400m. So, I looked at Donnie’s time between the two races and his was 3 minutes longer. So, mine should have been the same or more if I hadn’t made ANY improvement. But mine was only TWO minutes longer so I think that means it’s safe to say I made a HUGE improvement. And…as Donnie pointed out…my rank in the group is the same for my bike and run, so I should look at it that way. I’m now as solid of a swimmer in my age group as I am a runner!
I think I owe some of my success to good pre-race planning. I never focus on hydrating or fuel the day before a race but after some bad workouts last weekend, I really focused on hydrating and getting some good protein and complex carbs in. I think I had PLENTY of fuel and fluids in me today and that helped IMMENSELY.
All in all? A HUGE success and a great ending to a crazy summer.
Oh, And My Husband Did Okay Too…
Oh, and THIS guy? He won his FOURTH trophy of the season. This one for a 3rd-place finish in his age group. He was #26 and I was #489 in the water, which worked out GREAT because I got to cheer him out of the water before I got in, and I got to cheer for him on his bike because he was finishing as I was starting!
Great day to be a Zoot.
7 thoughts on “My Frog Wasn’t That Frantic.”
You are both so awesome. How do you stop the rubberband legs thing transitioning form bike to run? I’ll probalby never tri because I cannot stand to put my face in the water while I swim, but I’ve done short Du’s. I hate the run because rubberband legs. And I normally like to run (AM SLOW BUT STILL LIKE IT).
Awesome job! So proud of you!
You are so amazing. I think I am going bite the bullet and sign up for a tri next summer. I just love reading about you fitness adventures.
Congratulations! It has been great to watch your progress, it’s very impressive, and it does me make think about trying something new as well.
Ah, yeah. I’m still not sure how to interpret that feeling when I’m trying to push myself. I practice a lot of bricks (doing a long bike and then a run immediately after) with that training group, so I’ve come to trust that feeling goes away eventually. Which helps push through that first bit. But I’m still unsure how to push myself in terms of speed because I just feel WEIRD. But – the rubberband legs do fade before my first mile is up usually, so I trust that at least! But, yeah. I’m definitely glad that class had me practice those so often before.
Yeah, bricks. I didn’t find they helped other than as you say, convincing you that eventually the feeling goes away. And of course it’s all good exercise and practice. Congrats to you and Donnie.
Wait- you held the same pace on the bike for twice the distance?! That’s huge! Imagine your first marathon- if you had run half marathons, then ran your first full one at the same pace, wouldn’t that me an awesome accomplishment? I was a swimmer, then a swim coach, but never a biker and even when I was in the best shape of my life I could never run, so I don’t know if that comparison is apt. If you did that in swimming, though- held a shorter distance pace for race that was twice as long, that would be pretty impressive! I guess it’s different when neither distance is a “sprint” per se, but still- you should probably be even more excited about that!
Congrats on the swim- sighting is the hardest part, so maybe think of the side-stroke breaks to sight as a necessity when it’s water level. Good job being brave enough (and prepared enough) to take the path back that you knew was right, rather than swimming with the pack! From what you’ve written, I don’t know that you’d have been confident to do that in the past. Since it’s the end of the season, I’d look into a few swim lessons with a local swim team coach over the winter. The tri classes for swimming are good, but they’re different. A USAS coach, and actually, if you can find one with some experience who coaches kids in the 8-12 yr old range, will be able to correct a lot of things for efficiency and sustainability over longer distances, as well as help with pacing and help you figure out where your strengths are. I’d do a few private lessons, and just work on technique. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that they coach competitive swimmers- when I coached, requests for private lessons from adults looking to start or improve triathalon swims were super common. Any coach will have had plenty of clients just like you!
Again, congrats! I’m so happy for you!s