Category Archives: Ocean swimming

In the thick of things, a new training toy

Anyone who trains for swim meets, runs, cycling events or triathlons knows the inevitable will happen: you will collect a variety of training gadgets.

Sometimes, you will actually use them.

Sometimes, that sometimes will turn into devotion to the device and you’ll wonder why you ever did anything without it.

This is an example of that:


It’s a Finis Tempo Trainer. It is about the size of a half-dollar and I should have had it inserted in my brain years ago. Basically (at least at this point, because I am still learning how it works), you can set it to time yourself to swim a certain distance in a certain time before it beeps in your ear, letting you know you either made it to the wall and turned in the set time or you didn’t. It has other uses, such as maintaining stroke tempo, and for running and bike training.

Right now, its primary purpose is to be annoying and let me know that I don’t need to look at the pace clock for feedback. It does not play music or emit other nice sounds. Just that regular persistent beep. I find myself wanting to #beatthebeep now. I like it because I can already see it helps, but I want to hurl this aquatic accessory into the locker room sometimes. In the long run, I think any training tool you buy that benefits your performance is a good investment, and I  think this trainer will be one of those. At least this item is small and relatively inexpensive.

Now if only I could stop hearing that beeping noise in my sleep…



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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, Ocean swimming, Running, Swimming, thought, triathlon gear, Triathlons

The season so far: sore but inspired

They says this old age thing isn’t for sissies. Whoever “they” are, they aren’t kidding.

Four competitions in five weeks, with another one next week, tends to leave a person hurting a bit. Toss work and writing and keeping up with the house on top of all that, and even I am surprised I still get up some mornings. Miss Bayer, Kid Advil and Aunt Aleve have become close members of my family now.

I’m slowly filling out the competition calendar, trying out some new things over the next few months. The World Out Games are coming to the  area, and I plan to swim there. I’m straight, so you many wonder why I’d go to something that’s geared toward bi, gay and trans athletes. I think the athletic community as a whole has to show love and respect towards athletes whose sexual and gender orientation is alternative to what the world expects. The Pulse nightclub shooting is part of the impetus, but these are ordinary people who do extraordinary things and also happen to be bi, gay and trans.  I’m looking forward to the experience – and looking for an affordable hotel.

I’m going back to a half-marathon in March (I swore these off years ago),  hoping to do my first Olympic triathlon in April and aiming for an open water swim of more than a mile in May.  The holidays are coming, and aside from some standard entertaining, I hope to do some resting. This upcoming weekend’s swim meet will afford some visiting time with family, plus a hotel room in which I do not have to make the bed, clean the bathroom or hang up my clothes. Hey, I’ll take a gift any way I can get it.

I’ve got a 10-mile run, a 10K, local and state Senior Games, a triathlon and one or two postal swims left before the holidays. How about you? What’s your sports torture du jour? And if it hurts, why do you do it?hard

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, inspirations, Ocean swimming, Running, Swimming, transgender, Triathlons

Doing It When You Don’t Want To

IRoads I was not exactly raring to go this morning. It was cold and drizzly, and it’s Day 1 being laid off from a job. I’ve never been laid off from a job. Not in over forty years of working. It is an odd feeling, to say the least.

The pool is closed today, so my schedule said I was running instead. My brain sort of said my schedule really should not matter. My heart dictated differently. So I got up at my normal time, layered up and headed to the track for sprints and bleacher work. After all, my first 10K of the new year is a week and a half away.

I got to the track and ran my laps. The bleachers were wet and slick and not looking all that safe. But something propels me to get up there and run them anyway. I am pushed on, not so much by my lack of a place to go today (though I do have work to do and resumes to send out and interviews to set up) as I am by a book I am reading, Find A Way, the autobiography of marathon swimmer Diana Nyad. It was not until she was 64 years old and on her fifth try that she achieved her dream of the Cuba-to-Florida swim. That means there were four failures before that. Failures that took a toll on her family, her friends, her health and her finances. And that’s on top of a childhood filled with sexual and physical abuse at the hands of both her father and swimming coach. The loss of her brother to schizophrenia and her mother to Alzheimer’s. How does anyone climb out of a place so dark  and not only survive, but keep focused and training and moving forward until they achieve exactly what they know they can do?

She did, and compared to her, my dark place is a just little ditch. The book was a Hanukkah gift, but the timing of its arrival was perfect. I’ll be fine.



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January 7, 2016 · 1:51 am

Big calendar, big plans

One year, three triathlons. I never thought I’d do one, let alone three.

The first, the super-sprint, was the test. The second and third were sprints, and in fact, I finished second in one and third in the other. You’re damned right I got the medals. They are hanging next to my bed, so they are the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning.

I’ve got one of those big paper flip calendars in front of me, with enough room to write in my races and my training schedule. Yes, I have a smartphone, Excel spreadsheet and all the other digital doo-dads. I’d use them, but I like the paper version better.

This calendar has a hook, and that means it can hang on the wall. And that means I can see it. It confronts me every time I walk into my home office. A paper calendar says “I’m here, and you cannot ignore me. You put your plans here, ink on paper. So shut up and get it done.”

I know the digital way is more modern and has a better “cool” factor. I’ve seen my fellow competitors whip out their iPhones and compare the info they’ve downloaded from their FitBits, cycling computers and heart monitors. And those are all good tools, if you can spend the money on the purchase and maintenance. A paper calendar is zero maintenance, other than filling it in and checking off your accomplishments.

I’m off from work this week, so I’m doing a lot of quality training time and picking from the lists of what’s next. I’m looking at a possible six triathlons in 2016, including my first international. That’s on top of 10 swim meets, 12-14 road races and maybe my first ever bike event.

Here’s to a racy and injury-free new year for all of us.
Share your thoughts and stories, my fellow Athena,
Clydesdale and other competitors. We may all look and play
differently, but we’re still one big, happy, mostly functional


A path to somewhere, and a plan to get me there.

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, Ocean swimming, Running, Swimming, thought

‘Twas The Day After Triathlon…

Two days after, actually. Yes, I did it. I surprised myself with the accomplishment, actually.

Finished mid-pack in my age group, no injuries, flat bike tires or other incidents. My transitions could have been better, and I hated the (trail) run portion of the event, but aside from that, I enjoyed the hard work of it all. I did not get a spectacular time out of the event, but it’s done. And that’s the point.

A triathlon means you’re willing to take three sports you do pretty well (or two you do pretty well and one you’d rather not do at all) and put them together in a single competition. It means spending more time that you’d like off the comfy couch, away from the TV and computer. It means regulating your eating habits, your bedtime, your fluid intake and most of the crazy fun stuff you like to do. It means scheduling workouts so that the bike, the run and the swim each get something akin to equal time.

That’s me (in the pink shirt) crossing the finish line. Photo courtesy of Tri Bike Run, Juno Beach FL.

But mostly it means that if you cannot be brave, you can at least become less afraid. My first ever practice ocean swim was three weeks before the triathlon. I hated that practice; I thought about turning back to shore halfway through it. But there was no way to turn back during the triathlon, so why consider it in practice? I got past the fear, like I got past the choppy surf that day – by finding a different way through it. I didn’t cut through the waves, but rather used a butterfly stroke to go under them, until the ocean smoothed out.

As for the trail running: my triathlon camp coach says everyone has a “red zone,” a place they hate to be and makes them miserable when it comes to training. I’m afraid trail running will be my eternal red zone.

So, what’s next? Another new challenge – a one-mile ocean swim. Then a month of training without competition. Oh, and I think I found my next triathlon – it’s a sprint-length race. But I really need to get a bike rack first; I’m getting too old to haul that bike in and out of my compact car. And then there’s that nice triathlon top I wanted…

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