Sunday, June 5, 2011

Inspired to blog again!

I finally did something recently that is making me feel inspired to blog! Grab your coffee or popcorn! I plan to bore... I mean... intrigue you with all my new inspiration!

As you all know I struggle to keep my IT bands happy. I go through phases where they don't cause trouble for nearly half a year. Then they flair up and beat me down for half a year. I recently tried an experiment with more days of running but shorter and easier. That experiment was an EPIC FAIL! So, once again I came up with a new plan of action to keep me running and sane. The new plan consists of 3 days running, 1-2 days yoga, and 2-3 days swimming. Much more kind to my body than trying to force it to run 5 days a week.

I cut my running back two weeks ago and had already added the yoga in the mix the previous month. I just needed to get back in the pool. Even before getting back in the pool my legs felt tons better even though my runs were on average longer and harder than a few weeks back.

I've been intrigued by the idea of competing in an aquathlon but couldn't find one without an intimidating swim distance that wasn't too far away. My good friend Laura came up with a brilliant plan of us doing a triathlon relay and I could do the swim and run! So exciting! Last week she asked if I wanted to go to an open water swim practice on Saturday. I told her I didn't know since I had no idea what my swim fitness was like. It just seemed crazy to be getting into open water so quickly after starting to swim again.

My plan was to sign up at the YMCA again this past Thursday. Wednesday night Laura sends me a link to the Carolina's Open Water Challenge. It's so tempting because it's a reasonable distance and they have a 5k following the swim! Perfect, except I haven't swam in a year. I tell her I'll have to see how the swim on Thursday goes but I doubt it's a good idea.

My swim on Thursday went surprisingly well. But I still wasn't sure. Laura helped convince me I could do it as long as I took it easy and took breaks from freestyle stroke from time to time. I spent Thursday evening and Friday morning trying to make a final decision. By the end of Friday I had committed to the swim! Yikes, I couldn't believe I was venturing into the unknown world of open water swimming. I was nervous due to hearing other people's accounts of their first open water experiences.

I was nervous on the way to the swim. I kept talking myself into and out of swimming most of the morning. Luckily as we waited around for the swim to start we realized there were lots of newbies there and it was a pretty informal race.

The time came for us to get ready for the swim. Luckily the water was toasty warm and not too murky looking. Laura and I took our places at the back of the group. The signal was given for us to hit the water. A handful of experienced, or brave, swimmers got right to the task ahead of us. The rest of us, at least half the swim field, just looked at each other. We all mulled around hoping more would get in the water ahead of us. Once it was clear nobody else was gung ho, Laura and I slowly made our way in to the deeper water to start our swim.

I finally take the plunge and get to work on my freestyle swim. Not too bad, only a little water got in my goggles and I was feeling calm. After 100 meters or so I notice a swimmer to my left drifting far from the course. I knew, without looking, it had to be Laura. She got back on course and we laughed about our newbie skills. Luckily for me we kept the same pace. I think Laura's wandering helped keep her back with me, otherwise she would have been far ahead. I took several breaks from freestyle and did side stroke. I had to flip to my back a couple times to fix the leaky goggles. I was having a hard time finding a rhythm until we rounded the buoy for home. After that I hit a good rhythm and managed to freestyle most of the way in, just one break for the goggle situation. Every now and then I'd tap Laura on the leg to alert her she was veering left again. I was really worried about getting pummelled by other peoples' arms and legs during the swim. Luckily I only got hit by a stranger once. The rest of the colliding came from my cohort. I actually swam head first into her thigh once. I knew immediately I must be off course if I had hit Laura. And yes, I was off course, again.

I was so thrilled when the shore was in reach. Not just because I was tired, but because I was excited I had just conquered my first open water swim and enjoyed it! I knew I could finally commit to one of the aquathlons with a 1500 meter swim. Once on shore we celebrated our awesomeness!

There was plenty of time between the swim and run to stretch, relax, change, and revel in our awesomeness. The run was really informal, really just a preview run for the tri that will be held there the next weekend. I was excited when I first heard it was trail, but it wasn't lovely single track. It was ankle killing gravel. We picked a comfortably hard, but not race, pace. By 2.5 miles my shoulders were fading fast. Tired shoulders do not make for fun running. I was thrilled when we got to the end of the run. We did the run in just under 30 minutes, which I'm thrilled with since I had done 5 trail miles the day before and was exhausted from the swim and all the excitement.

Look at me! I'm a multi-sport athlete. Complete with a sharpie marked swim cap to prove it!

Today I'm exhausted but inspired. I had a great time yesterday and can't wait to do it again. If you got this far, I thank you for indulging me in my excitement. I hope you all have a great week of feeling inspired on your adventures!


  1. That's awesome, Ash! YAY!!!

  2. Good job Ashley... glad to see you dustin' off the ol' blog!

  3. So glad you braved the open water with me!!! I'm actually looking forward to lake swimming again! Can't believe I just said that!

  4. I wish I had your enthusiasm & energy..Congrats on your new adventure~!