So the triathlon I’m doing—and can I just interrupt myself, like, immediately here and say that I wish that different lengths of triathlons had different easily-recognized names so it’s more clear that what I’m signed up for is the beginner’s training-wheel version and not an IRONMAN or some shit, I mean I know it’s technically called a super-sprint but that makes it sound like I’m going to try and do it really really fast which is highly unlikely unless my athletic abilities miraculously skyrocket between now and Saturday and/or someone plants a jet propeller in my ass; every time I mention this triathlon I feel like I need to downplay its difficulty which is kind of ironic given how utterly FREAKED OUT I am by the looming race date and, oh, the little matter of having spent most of my summer planning for it and taking swimming lessons, for god’s sake; so let it be known I want FULL CREDIT for the ass-kicking task I’m about to take on, but just so we’re perfectly clear: this is not a full triathlon—is Saturday, and I can tell I’m pretty much having nonstop anxiety about it because every time I remember that it’s in less than a week I have to leap to my feet and run off to the bathroom to pee a tiny little useless pee like a nervous, brain-damaged Pomeranian. It’s going to be a RIOT on Saturday morning when I’m standing around before the swimming stage all sausage-packed into my wetsuit and having to unpeel myself every thirty seconds and scurry to the Porta-Potties.

I’m feeling most squirrelly about the swimming portion, because although I have improved greatly, if I do say so myself, from the head-aloft dog paddle I was doing before, I’m still not the strongest swimmer and I get a little panicky when I have to share a lane with someone at the pool, which doesn’t bode well for my ability to handle the group start when a billion thrashing-salmon racers hit the water at the same time. Despite some lofty plans to improve my open water technique (by which I mean tamping down on the desire to shriek my lungs out like the skinny-dipping girl in the opening scene of Jaws when my hand comes into contact with marine plant life) I only swam in non-chlorinated water twice this summer. So I’ll have to, you know, try and nut up over the fact that the swim segment is in an actual lake that is presumably not perfectly clear or devoid of non-water contents, nor will it be marked with a comforting black directional stripe.

I plan to wear a swimsuit with (non-padded) biking shorts under the wetsuit, and once I heave myself out of the water and get out of the Body Glove that’s what I’ll have on for the bike/run. It is every bit as attractive as you might imagine—the various bits of flesh erupting from the supertight swimsuit, the Lycra shorts clinging in a moist, inappropriate manner— and while I keep telling myself it’s about comfort and not having to slow down to change outfits altogether I’m sure I will experience at least one humiliating moment where I realize I’m out in public wearing this insane getup and I’m not even drunk.

JB convinced me to buy some of those sports gels and I tried one yesterday and damned if it doesn’t taste exactly like the gelatinous substance that forms the goo in those Hostess pies. Which is to say, it’s sort of terrifying and delicious at the same time, like the pregnancy glucose drink. I don’t know if I’ll use any during the race but it’s nice to know I can treat someone’s diabetic hypoglycemia in an emergency. (“EAT THIS GEL! IT TASTES LIKE CHEMICAL PIE!”)

I’m going to try and do one low-key run, bike ride, and swim this week, just to feel somewhat familiar with all three activities, but other than that there’s not much more I can do to prepare. Other than pee constantly, of course. And eat everything in sight, because 1) that’s how I deal with stress these days, and 2) as far as I’m concerned when there’s a sports event in your future, even if it’s many days away, “binge eating” magically becomes “carb loading”. Don’t mind the ever-present Ben & Jerry’s IV stand, I’m carb loading over here.


94 Responses to “Four more days”

  1. Chris on September 15th, 2009 6:49 pm

    I did my first tri 2 weeks ago and came home that day and signed up for another one- the Kirkland on Sunday. You are going to LOVE it. Unlike a marathon, each leg is over before you get sick of the activity. No running for 4 endless hours. You don’t need a wetsuit for the lake at this time of year but lots of people will be wearing them. I was surprised at how nice and supportive everyone involved was at the start and all the way to the finish. People were truly encouraging and cheered each other on. Good luck!

  2. Paige on September 15th, 2009 7:16 pm

    When I ran a half marathon back in the spring, I couldn’t handle the goo. I tried something called “shot blocks”…it serves the same purpose as the goo, only it’s in a gummy form. They were actually quite tasty…like gummy lifesavers. The sporting goods store I bought them at also had jelly belly jelly beans that were fortified with electrolytes. They were pretty yummy as well. Good luck this weekend!

  3. Meagan on September 15th, 2009 7:23 pm

    1. A “full” triathlon is doing ALL of whatever length you signed up for. You are doing a “full” super sprint triathlon. I hate when people think triathlon = Ironman. If you’re doing an Ironman, say Ironman, or “Ironman distance” (if it’s not an IM race).

    2. Pee in your wetsuit. In the water.

    3. If you’re scared of the group swim (and I’m not saying you shouldn’t be) start to the back and outside. That’s where you’re least likely to be kicked in the face/swam over.

    4. Good luck! Triathlons are amazing and I can’t wait to hear about your experience!

  4. Lilly on September 15th, 2009 8:17 pm

    I did a sprint triathlon last summer and it was awesome fun. I was completely terrible at all the events (and did a LOT less training than you have) and still really enjoyed myself.

    I second Paige on the shot blocks, I found them to be a lot less…porntastic than the gels. Tried out the gels on a long bike ride and when I got home my husband asked if I’d been “welcoming visitors to our planet” while laughing hysterically. I had bright blue trailing from each side of my mouth–sexxxay.

    Keep to the outside and back of the swim group. You can wait a few minutes after the whistle blows to let everyone spread out. And keep your arms above your head, even if you’re taking a break on your back. (I got kicked in the head, which sounds horrible but was more disorienting than anything. Not a big deal.)

    Really looking forward to hearing about your experience! I love your writing.

  5. Lilly on September 15th, 2009 8:20 pm

    Also, all the pictures taken of my wave waiting for the whistle to blow are hilarious. Every single person is staring in a different direction, eyes aloof and unfocused, mouth tight. Because we are all PEEING SIMOUSTANEOUSLY.

  6. yaya on September 16th, 2009 12:05 am

    Pee in the wet suit
    Leave a hand towel by your bike to quickly dry your legs & crotch before hoping on bike you will be a lot more comfy
    Put your bike shorts on after the swim, you will be happier
    Shot Bloks are loads better than gels but both are really really worth the taste, they were created for a reason and I just started using them after running 10-12 miles without them, they are like crack, they do give you that lame-ass boost they advertise.
    Have a blast, it will be awesome! You will be so proud of yourself and that is the best feeling in the world :-)
    After I did a half marathon, which I never thought I would do, since I used to be a person who only ran when she was late for a meeting, I crossed the finish line & saw the full marathoners coming in & told myself “I am going to run a full marathon” and I will…sometime. Kudos to you!

  7. Mykee on September 16th, 2009 2:38 am

    No words of wisdom here. Just a real good hefty dose of GOOD LUCK.

    I’m sure you’ll do great.

    Looking forward to the post game analysis. I’m sure it’ll be hilarious. =)

  8. angelynn on September 16th, 2009 3:51 am

    Kick ass woman. You can do it. =]

  9. Heather on September 16th, 2009 4:43 am

    Have a blast!!

  10. Sarah on September 16th, 2009 4:53 am

    I used the Jelly Belly sports beans when training/running a 30K race. I give them a huge thumbs up over the gels, because I found the gels hard to get down once my mouth got a little dry. The sports beans have a little tang to them that make your mouth water a bit, so I found them much better and a lot tastier!

  11. Kristin H on September 16th, 2009 5:55 am

    My advice is to find someone else who’s never done one (or even someone who HAS done one, since they’ll be good for advice) and chat them up while you’re waiting. The waiting before the swim starts is the worst. Once it starts, though, you’ll do great. Keep close to the buoy markers so you don’t get too far off course. Good luck! By this time next week you’ll be able to call yourself a triathlete.

  12. Carrie (in MN) on September 16th, 2009 6:32 am

    You are awesome, Linda – really, I so admire you. No downplaying what you’re doing.

  13. Belle on September 16th, 2009 6:53 am

    You’re a brace soul! Please tell me you plan to post pictures of the outfit. :)
    I went to my sister’s swim meet once, and she accidentally did breaststroke when everyone else was doing backstroke or butterfly or something… the crowd was trying to get her attention the whole time and she couldn’t hear them because she was underwater 99% of the time. She was the fastest (bc breaststroke is far easier) and finished, only to be MORTIFIED. I think that was my first moment of like holy shit this is what empathy is? bc i want to crawl in a hole and die FOR HER.
    Anyway, you’ll be better than that, no matter what happens. Good luck!! And yay for you even trying.

  14. Andrea on September 16th, 2009 7:17 am

    between the writing, parenting, job, fitness and training, marriage, and other general badassness, you’re swiftly becoming my own personal Jesus.

    Good luck! Can’t wait to read about it! And pictures. I promise I won’t make fun of the outfit.

  15. birdgal (another amy) on September 16th, 2009 8:12 am

    All I can say is GOOD LUCK!! :) And maybe send some of your energy my way–I have no idea how you make time for all this, having two young ‘uns and a job myself I KNOW the time crunch you must be working under.

    And remember-HAVE FUN! (well, as much fun as you can have doing a triathalon, of any caliber!)

  16. Deb on September 16th, 2009 9:55 am

    All this “pee in your wetsuit” advice is hilarious!

    Other than that, I got nothin, except to say I totally hear you on the anxiety = having to pee front. This happens to me at the most inopportune moments, the worst being the INSTANT I am naked-except-for-a-cocktail-napkin at the gyno’s. Which is completely irrelevant, but that’s never stopped me before…

  17. Julie on September 16th, 2009 10:22 am

    Good luck! My husband and I have done a few marathons in the last year so I have bought my fair share of GUs from the grocery store and EVERY time the teenage checker closely examines the packet and asks what it is. When I tell them it’s for energy while doing long training runs, I can see their little brains trying to figure out if there is some way to obtain some sort of high from eating them!…my advice, suck the babies down with lots of water and then swish out your mouth when your are done! (can you tell they are not my favorite? but they do work!!) By the way, long time reader – first time commenter…

  18. Anonymous on September 16th, 2009 10:36 am

    “…nervous, brain-damaged Pomeranian.”


    Good luck! You’ll have your own blog-land cheering section rooting for you!

  19. Penny on September 16th, 2009 10:52 am

    Hey, be careful, you might end up getting addicted to those things.

    The swimming will be unpleasant, but the biking and running will be much better and crossing that finish line, even if you’re the last person to cross it, feels really really good.

  20. Carolyn on September 16th, 2009 11:08 am

    LOL—chemical pie. hilarious.

    GOOD LUCK. (all caps=better luck)

  21. Amy on September 16th, 2009 11:13 am

    Hey! Good luck! Did you do a “dry run” 9(ha!)with the actual gear you are going to wear? Just wondering. Good luck!

  22. michelle on September 16th, 2009 11:25 am

    Speaking from a bike racer’s perspective here, not a triathalete’s, but the same principles should apply…

    Do the goo twice –

    1. As other’s have said, take 1st dose about 15 minutes before the swim. Do not try to eat solid foods for at least an hour before the race. You will likely be too nervous to eat before the start anyway, plus your body won’t be able to digest it in time. Have a good breakfast involving carbs and protein though.

    2. Get on the bike and take some goo about halfway through the bike leg. (If you don’t have any pockets in your get-up, tuck it under the leg of your shorts, on the top of your thigh – make sense?). It will help power you up through your run.

    The goo is a good idea. The last thing you want is the low blood sugar/adrenaline combo during your big race!

    Good luck!

  23. Sunshyn on September 16th, 2009 12:47 pm

    Does the chemical pie come in lemon? Cause that is my favorite snack pie… Go, Linda. You’re gonna do GREAT.

  24. Ginger on September 16th, 2009 2:38 pm

    Pee through the wet suit, Linda. I understand it is the “done” thing. My friend who did the Paris marathon peed on the Arc d’Triomphe before the race began because there was only one handy house. You’ve seen photos of athletes with shit running down their legs. Join the ranks of the accomplished and pee freely!

  25. Ginger on September 16th, 2009 2:38 pm

    Pee through the wet suit, Linda. I understand it is the “done” thing. My friend who did the Paris marathon peed on the Arc d’Triomphe before the race began because there was only one handy house. You’ve seen photos of athletes with shit running down their legs. Join the ranks of the accomplished and pee freely!

  26. Cheri on September 16th, 2009 5:41 pm

    Every time you mention your swimming anxiety, I can’t help but think of this old SNL skit with Martin Short – “I’m that strong a swimmer” (at the :50 mark).

  27. Frank on September 17th, 2009 4:01 am

    Good Luck with the race. I hope there are pictures!

  28. SK on September 17th, 2009 5:31 am

    One suggestion for your first open water race, you may panic a bit and get breathless. I am a decent swimmer and that happened to me in my first race. I had read in a book somewhere that you just do the doggie paddle until your breathing is normal and then swim away. It COMPLETELY worked. I was all psyched up, in the water and then suddenly felt a bit like I couldn’t breathe. But I just paddled for about 2 minutes, the feeling passed and I started swimming like normal. It’s never happened since then. A true “first time” experience. Good luck! You are going to do great.

  29. mia on September 17th, 2009 6:50 am

    I’m pretty sure you can just pee right there in the wetsuit. That’s what they’re for!

  30. JamieT on September 17th, 2009 8:19 am

    Good luck Linda!

    When I did tris in the past we always put the Pam on our legs first to help pull the wetsuit on. I never tried it on the outside. I would also recommend putting body glide on your neck around where the top of the wetsuit hits, and on the underside of your arms to prevent chafing from the wetsuit.

    I always raced in my biking shorts with just my sports bra and a dri-fit tank on top. That way I didn’t have to try and put on any more clothes while I was wet. Socks are hard enough to put on wet feet. Don’t worry, everyone looks rediculous.

    For a super sprint you won’t need to eat any goo. Just drink plenty and try an eat a bland breakfast that morning. You don’t want to try anything new on race day. I’m jealous that you only have to pee when you get nervous. I would always take Immodium before I raced, just in case.

  31. annabelle on September 17th, 2009 8:33 am

    I say skip the goo altogether… it tastes like Hostess snot. I agree with the timing mentioned by Melissa, but since you’ll not be running at those times, chewing isn’t a problem. I like the Clif brand shot blocks – like less-sweet gummy bears.

    Good luck and may the force be with you.

  32. Lisa on September 17th, 2009 10:17 am

    Will see you there are Sunday.

    You are an exquisite swimmer.
    You are an exquisite swimmer.
    You are an exquisite swimmer.

    Don’t tell yourself any other story.

  33. Pam on September 17th, 2009 11:12 am

    GOOD LUCK. Can’t wait to read all about it and see the photos. PLEASE post photos. :)

  34. Beth on September 17th, 2009 11:21 am

    Just seconding SK. I recently did my 3rd open water race and still the first 2 minutes is pure panic for me. Now I know it’s normal so I just ride it out. Also, even when you start in the back, the relative movement of the pack makes you feel like you are NOT MOVING when you start. Don’t adjust your speed – you are moving!

  35. ChrisC on September 17th, 2009 4:56 pm

    Hi Linda, A follow-up on my last comment re: spraying the wetsuit with Pam. I asked my boyfriend, did he mean spray the inside of the wet suit and he said no (and then laughed at me for thinking he’d do anything so silly — jerk! :-). He said the hardest part of getting out of a wet suit is once you’ve got the top half unzipped and down and it’s sort of overlapping the bottom half. Basically, you’re almost turning the wet suit inside out trying to get out of it and the neoprene rubs against itself and catches and makes it difficult. Apparently if you spray the OUTSIDE of the suit before you try to get out of it, it’ll make the two layers of neoprene just slide off each other and make everything easier. Does this make sense?

  36. Bridget on September 17th, 2009 5:09 pm

    de-lurking to tell you about Jelly Belly’s “sports” jelly beans. I buy them at our local runners store and they’re decent. It’s basically sugar and carbs with some other fancy named stuff thrown in there. I do half-marathons and find that just a few of them do the trick. You do need to wash them down with water, just like the goo.

    Best of luck! Looking forward to reading about your results.

    BTW–the toddler stuff…you described it well. I’m finally out of that stage but lived every moment for years. I had 3 kids in 4 years so the noise and frustration from them was suffocating at times. It’s good that you exercise. Definitely helps relieve stress!


  37. Shawna on September 17th, 2009 6:30 pm

    GOOD LUCK!!! I cannot WAIT to read your recap of the event after the fact!

  38. Melissa on September 17th, 2009 7:51 pm

    I’ve done 3 “try-a-tri” races (beginner triathlons) and all I can say is EAT during the bike or run if you can! It made such a big difference for me. So the weird goo is a great idea!

    Good luck and have fun!!

  39. Kelly on September 18th, 2009 9:01 am

    I’m in love with your writing. Just read your newest entry and was “me too-ing” all the way through it. I have said outloud to my toddler more than once, “OK, where’s the green vomit? Is it coming yet?” Bible. (Like those crazy Kardashians say.)

    The fact that you’re going to complete a triathalon is awesome. I was a competitive swimmer for almost twelve years, and the thought of swimming in open water scared the shit out of me. The fact that you have some kind of stroke going on puts you leaps and bounds above others. A friend of mine did one awhile back, and she literally doggy paddled through the swimming portion. I read a comment above that suggested you flip on your back if you get nervous, and she did that too. She told me that someone with one leg (the other being a prosthetic) finished before her (she was in the bottom three, apparently), but it was STILL one of the proudest moments of her life. Good luck!

  40. Amy on September 18th, 2009 2:05 pm

    Stay off to the side for the start and just go for it. You’ll be awesome (and yes, you can pee in the wetsuit) Go get ’em!!!!

  41. jobonga on September 18th, 2009 3:45 pm

    I’m doing my first super-sprint tri on Sunday so we are in the same holy-shit-will-this-thing-float boat. I am freaked out about the swim, too! My plan is to not get kicked in the face, but how?
    Also I am trying to remind myself that in the outfit I will be sporting, there is very little dignity at stake. Falling off the bike is okay. Weeping a little bit on the run is okay. Finishing is enough.
    Good luck to us both!

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