Just Effin’ Work Out!

Into the “Washing Machine” at the start of a triathlon swim.

Yikes, I missed a blog week! A lot to talk about today…I think I’ll go in reverse chronological order!

Beginner’s/Novice’s Tri Clinic

I attended a fantastic tri clinic put on by Athlete’s Lounge, sponsored by Ameritrade. It was hands-down, the best triathlon training I have had! The first evening was held at Athlete’s Lounge where professional triathloners, Chris Boudreaux, Phillipe Kozub, and Eric Lagerstom talked about each phase of the event, including training, nutrition, and recovery, along with questions and answers. They offered a ton of great information, including the phrase, “Just Effin’ Work Out”, that I used for this week’s blog title, as a reminder that you have to motivate yourself to train, even on the days you really don’t want to. It’s now written on my bathroom mirror, along with “Are you really tired or just being lazy?” Ha!

Day two was fantastic! We met at All-Star Fitness with all of our triathlon clothing and gear (except the bike) for a five hour practical triathlon training session with the three pros.

We started in the pool, because a triathlon starts with the swim. After some warm up laps we worked on the following skills:


This first drill was on how to pick a spot above the water to swim toward, simulating picking out a landscape feature above the buoy that you are aiming for. We learned how to incorporate quickly looking for that spot every four to eight strokes without disrupting our swim stroke, lifting our head out of the water just enough to visualize and then face back down in the water.

Close Contact Swimming

At all previous tri training, everyone has always said, you just have to get used to getting elbowed and kicked and swam-over, but no one ever had tips on how to actually “get used” to it…we trained on that. We started with two swimmers swimming side-by-side, sharing half a lane and learned how to continue our swimming strokes while contacting legs, arms, how to adjust to have an efficient stroke while doing it, and how to breathe with waves and wake from that swimmer. We added up to a total of four swimmers to practice. There is a lot of contact, bumps, strikes, kicks, and after doing this over and over, we all became quite comfortable with it.


New concept for me! I really had no idea you could draft during the swimming session of the triathlon. The key for drafting is to swim close enough behind another swimmer so that your fingertips contact their feet, this allows you to be “pulled” along in their wake and expend 25% less energy to swim the same pace.

Mass Start

Triathlons start with a fairly confined starting area, everyone getting into the water to start their swim all at once. It’s a lot like the start of a running race, however, you don’t line up according to your pace like run starts often do, leading to faster swimmers swimming over the top of you or you needing to swim over others to get past…it’s intimidating and causes a lot of anxiety at the start if you don’t have techniques to deal with it. We used the skills from close contact swimming and practiced this over and over, changing locations in the pack to experience and learn how to deal with being in front, the middle, back, or sides.

Buoy Turns

Most triathlons have at least two turns, marked by buoys. We learned how to properly aim to reduce turning angle and how to adjust our stroke to more efficiently make the turn without slowing our pace.

Putting it All Together

One we had the skills down, we put it all together from mass start, sighting, positioning to draft, and turning at the buoys in a course set up around the pool. So great! It has reduced so much of the anxiety of open water swimming!

After an hour and a half in the water and a little break for nutrition and hydration, we moved to the spin room, did a warm-up and practiced “spin ups” to maintain race speed and had occasional “hills” thrown in by keeping our race cadence and adjusting the tension on the spin bike. Fans were shut off and doors closed to let us get used to temperature increases. There was a lot of sweat!

During the next nutrition/hydration break the pros went through the two transitions, T1 from swim to bike and T2 from bike to run. They demonstrated techniques for doffing the wetsuit on the run from the water to the bike, how to layout your equipment, tips for how not to forget stuff, and how to mount your bike. They did the same for T2 on dismounting, returning to the transition area, changing shoes and beginning the run.

For the last session we went outside to the Duniway Park track next door for core workout, a one mile warmup run, and running drills. We ran about three miles total, which was enough by the end of five hours of working out! We finished with a final Q&A and discussion on recovery nutrition.

If you are in the Portland area and want to participate in this training clinic, I would highly suggest subscribing to Athletes Lounge’s newsletter from their website. They hope to offer this clinic again as they had more people interested than they had room for. I would even do it again…for $30 this was an amazing deal.

They took pictures during the training but they are not available yet, so stay tuned for an update with clinic pics.

Tulip Festival Ride

Last weekend I went on a 16 mile road ride with the Vancouver Bicycle Club through Woodland, Washington to the Tulip Festival. It was a great flat ride, a lot of people, and the first 70 degree sunny weather day of the year!

Beautiful Tulips!


Vancouver Bicycle Club members on the Tulip Ride

Upcoming and New Events!!

The Portland Triathlon Mock Tri is just around the corner, two weeks away, May 14…stay tuned for the story and pics on that.

Christine and I will be riding in the RACC (Ride Around Clark County) in the 65 mile option next weekend.

Breaking news…..I REGISTERED FOR THE 2011 PORTLAND MARATHON!!! This will be my first marathon, happens October 9 (Mother Superior’s birthday). I really hadn’t planned to do my first marathon this year along with my first triathlons, but I discovered that the Portland Marathon and I are both turning 40 this year, a mere 20 days apart, so I took it as a sign…

Other than that, swimming has taken a turn for the AWESOME! Having a coach does wonders! I now look forward to swim practice and go on my own without hesitation!

We’ll see you again next week after the RACC for details on how that goes, May’s PTC meeting, and hopefully some pics from this weekend’s tri clinic.

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