Posts Tagged ‘open water swim’

Saturday March 28th: Day Before the Race

April 10, 2009

Saturday Morning Team Practice

Team on our way to the beach for our open water practice.

Team on our way to the beach for our open water practice.

Some of us decided to run to the open water swim.

Some of us decided to run to the open water swim.

Other people bikes.

Other people biked.

From the past few months, triathlon mornings always seems to start so early. Saturday morning Tony was already up at 5am  jumping around, watching TV, watching the sun rise nd eating breakfast. I on the other hand  slept in until 6am, ate and got ready for our 1st open water swim in the waters of Hawaii. Our team met up in the lobby at 7am.  We had the choice of riding our bikes or running to the beach. Tony, myself and a few others opted to run a little less than 1 mile to the beach. This was the first time running in the  warm Hawaii heat… this was surly not like like jogging in the brisk chill of the bay area. That morning, I had the opportunity to run with Vanessa and get the juice on how she and coach Mike got together.

1st Open Water Swim in the Ocean

Seethe white cirlce in the back of the pix? That's me and Tony.

Seethe white cirlce in the back of the pix? That's me and Tony.

Our coaches, Chris, Meggen and Mike were there to cheer us on.

Our coaches, Chris, Meggen and Mike were there to cheer us on.

From our team open water swimming in the bay, I learned that wearing a wetsuit is almost like wearing a life vest….as long as you stay calm, you can float with little effort.  Today was going to the be the first time I was going to swim in the open ocean with no life vest and the security of no wet suit. Our coaches warned us of the sharp coral and that many people often get cut the day before the race.  As soon as we got the in water….i was watchful of the coral and to my surprise the water was coooold! I was like what the???!! After a few moments of splashing around i got used to the chill. As soon as I went to stroke….i freaked out…..again! The water was so choppy and whenever I took a breath a wave splashed into my face and ended up with me taking in a mouth full of salt water. The current was pushing me away from the group, the glare from the sun was blinding me and reflecting from the ocean,  the salt was burning my eyes, nose and throat, the salt was causing me to build up saliva in my mouth,  swimming thru the waves were making me seasick, I was miserable.  Tony had to talk me thru the water…..”take a deep breath”…”don’t panic”…”relax”…I was thinking omigosh, after all of this training….it’s  the day before the race and I can’t even swim in this water???  In less than 24 hours I will be swimming one mile in these conditions…..is it possible? Does this story ever get old?  There was so many thoughts going on my head…..how deep is the water? can i really swim out into the middle of the ocean?  is there animals that will get me?  will i get cut by corral? Will i sink without my wetsuit? …. I later found out that I was not alone.  Surprisingly, many of the experienced swimmers on our team,  freaked out in the water as well. Finally, I got into my rhythm, i adjusted my breathing to inhale  away from the splashes and control the building up of saliva and the burning in my nose, i tightened my goggles to avoid salty water burning my eyes and i dealt with the glare. After getting over  the discomfort….I was beginning to better  handle the conditions and enjoy the swim. After swimming got about 30 minutes, I felt comfortable in the water and knew that tomorrow…I could do it. Thankfully the water was clear and I didn’t have to worry too much about sighting bouys. Everything was coming back, I was starting to swim with the same confidence as if I were swimming in a pool.

By the end of the swim, I was feeling great!

By the end of the swim, I was feeling great!

After Practice Packet Pick Up and Event Expo

Rce Packet Pick up and Expo

Rce Packet Pick up and Expo

Tony getting his race packet.

Tony getting his race packet.

Color coded swim caps and race numbers

Color coded swim caps and race numbers

After the open water swim,  we showered off, cleaned up and headed over to the convention center to pick up our race packet. Inside the packet included the typical mini energy bars and advertisements. It also included our colored coded age group swim caps and  race numbers for our bib, bike and helmet.

Lavaman biking jerseys

Lavaman biking jerseys

We hung out at the packet pick up for awhile and checked out the expo. Since, this was our 1st Olympic Distance Triathlon together it seemed fitting to get a fun souvenir, so we ended up getting these ever so bright Lavaman biking jerseys. Afterward we hung out with the team and had lunch at Queens’ s Marketplace.

5pm: Mandatory Race Meeting for All Triathlon Participants

Mandatory Lavaman meeting for all participants.

Mandatory Lavaman meeting for all participants.

All Lavaman participants were required to attend a mandatory race meeting. It basically went over all the event rules and race course. We also found that of the 800 + participants, 300 of them were Team In Training participants from all over the U.S.


Inspiration Dinner
Straight from the race meeting we went to the Team In Training Inspiration Dinner. Entering  the dinner all participants were welcome to a line of TNT coaches, mentors and staff, banging spirit sticks, waving pom poms, bangin cow bells and cheering. It was really fun way to enter dinner.

Wehn entered dinner with all of our coaches and mentors cheering us in.

Wehn entered dinner with all of our coaches and mentors cheering us in.

Inspiration Dinner: carbs galore

Inspiration Dinner: carbs galore

Our view during dinner

Our view during dinner

After the race meeting, all Team In Training participants had an outdoor pasta dinner.  Dinner was over looking the ocean with a backdrop to a beautiful sunset. As we dined on carbs galore.

Coach Chrish giving everyone a motivating talk about the various "moods" we will  experieince during tomorrow's race.

Coach Chrish giving everyone a motivating talk about the various "moods" we will experieince during tomorrow's race.

We met six time IronMan champion Dave Scott.

We met six time IronMan champion Dave Scott.

We listen to inspirational talks from honorees, our coaches  and six time Ironman Champion Dave Scott. After the dinner, Tony and I went up to Dave Scott to say “hello”. Ok, actually I just wanted to thank him for inspirational talk and ask to take a picture with him. Surprisingly, with many people around crowing to talk to him, he took the time to actually engage in about a 5 minute talk with Tony and I. He could have easily brushed us off after the photo, but he stayed and gave us tips on triathlons. We really appreciated his kindness.


Notes of Motivation

During the dinner our Mentors handed us letters that Coach Meggen’s 2nd grade students wrote to each member of our team. They were do funny and very sweet.  I looked at it the night before the race it made me smile. It was so funny b/k the messaging for each letter fit both tony and myself individually so well.

"Dear Donella Berno, It not matter if you are 1st or last what matter is that you have raissed $1 or  10,000 $ your  a winner"

"Dear Donella Berno, It not matter if you are 1st or last what matter is that you have raissed $1 or 10,000 $ your a winner..."

Tony's letter from a 2nd grader.

"Tony Dimaano, Thank you for raising money for cancer and are friend Jensen. I hope you have fun in your race and I hope you win. You can do it ..."

  • Basically the gist of Donella’s letter: “thanks for doing the race and raising money, and it’s ok if you come in last“.
  • Basically the gist of Donella’s letter: ” thanks for doing the race and raising money for cancer, and I hope you win“.

We had a good laugh at this. Yep, it pretty much summed up our race strategies. I think all of the misspellings (including my last name)  and grammar mistakes was so real and so cute. It think it was one of my favorite souvenirs of the event.


Team Huddle Night Before the Race

Team huddle the night before the race.

Team huddle the night before the race.

After the Inspiration Dinner, our chapter had a team meeting go over race day logistics, what we should prepare for, what to bring etc. And in a rare moment of openness each coach emotionally thanked everyone for joining the team and shared why they volunteer to coach TNT and why it’s important to them. It was a nice way to close off the evening.

Preparing the Night Before the Race

Laying out my pretend transiton area.

Laying out my pretend transiton area.

Packing up my gear the night before.

Packing up my gear the night before.

The night before the race, we discovered hole in my tire.

The night before the race, we discovered hole in my tire.

As we preparing our gear the night before the race i noticed that my front tire was kinda of flat. As I spun the tire and inspected the tread, i noticed that there was a hole in the tread of my tire.  Uh oh, of all times to get a hole, in the tread….the night before the race. There was no way I could get a new rubber tire. And not knowing what to do, we called Martin and he nicely came over to our room and helped us out. Since I couldn’t get a new tread, he placed the  metal wrapper from the Gu packet in between the inner part of the tire tread and the inner tube. That way if something puncture thru the hole at least there would be another barrier before it hit the inner tube. We put my current inner tube in a basin of water to see if the rubber spewed bubbles. That way we could determine if there was a hole. It didn’t bubble, so decided to keep the current inner tube in. I worried about my tire all night…

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Our First Open Water Swim: Take #2

March 4, 2009
Same day, back at lagoon to try again.

Same day, back at lagoon to try again.

After our workout and brunch with the team, Tony and I headed back to Redwood Shores. I was still frustrated, but I was determined to make it back and forth across to the other side of the lagoon on my own.  Tony did well in the open water swim earlier in the day and the extra swim was unecessary for him.  For safety purposes, he was kind enough to swim with me and follow along. We put on our wetsuits and once again the endured the freezing temperatures. I again proceeded to go thru my anxiety of struggling to breathe and adjust to the cold…….I tell you this winter cold water is a shock to the system. Everytime my face hit the water, instead of exhaling, I’d hold my breath and  messing up my rythm. I had to go thru the whole 5 strokes, then 10 stokes bit again…..Finally, I started to warm up, my breathing started to normalized and i started to bilateral breathe.  I began to get into my usual pool rythm. I made it back and forth 4 times.  It wasn’t fast, but I did it. Things are  getting better….I’m sure I’ll  go thru the anxiety time after time…. In time, hopefully I’ll get better and it will lessen.

Our first Open Water Swim = horrifying

March 3, 2009
Our first open water swim at Redwood Shores Lagoon.

Our first open water swim at Redwood Shores Lagoon.


Saturday was our first open water swim. And one word to describe it – horrifying. Yep, that’s right. I was hoping that today I’d be able to tell you I conquered my fear of swimming by conquering the open water ….alas I was wrong. I had been anticipating the open water swim ever since joining Team In Training. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, the “swim” part of the triathlon is what I most fear. The thought of drowning is oh so scary. But at the same time, it’s also the part that I am most eager and excited to accomplish. For the past couple of months we’ve been practicing at the pool, drill after drill,l lap after lap, and mile after mile. I’ve conquered my fear of swimming in any depth of the pool….I didn’t think I was ready for the ocean. But open water, lakes, lagoons bays…I figured…ok may be. Friday night, we packed up all our swim gear needed for tomorrow’s swim, body glide, wetsuits, jugs of water to rinse off in etc. We were originally scheduled to be at UVAS reservoir or Steven’s canyon reservoir, but due to permits we were moved to Redwood Lagoon. We headed over to redwood shores and arrived a little before 8:30am. Everyone was already getting into their wetsuits when we parked, so we quickly slapped on the body glide and put our wetsuits on. All the beginners (like myself) were paired with an experienced open water swimmer and mentor. The more experienced swimmers and previous triathletes went on their own. Compared to what I’ve seen in the past, the water was fairly calm. Todd was my mentor for today, he’s been nice for the past season. Back when we had a bike ride in almaden, my chain fell off and he stopped to help me fix it. Anyhoo, most people were already in the water and to set expectation, I informed him that this was my first time. We sat on the dock and he told me not to worry and that the minute I jump in, to sit in the lazy boy position. Apparently wetsuits are somewhat buoyant. It gave me comfort knowing that my wetsuit would help me float. Not as buoyant as a life vest, but buoyant. I took a deep breath …1,2, 3 and I hoped off the dock……..burrrrrrrr the water was freezing. Surprisingly, I was ok. I was soo cold… i was already breathing unevenly. So I waded for awhile and Todd was like ok, “you gotta put your face in the water” . Now, it as time to swim….all these months of swimming in the pool, bi lateral breathing, drills and strokes were gonna be put to use. I was actaully really excited. The minute, I stuck my face into the water I freaked out…..it was so dark, so green and so cold. I felt restricted by the wetsuit, and couldn’t breath in the cold, I started flailing my arms, I started hyperventilating, and swallowing the disgusting duck poo filled water….i was panicking. As I lifted my head to breath the precious air, in between my flailing splashes I could hear Todd’s voice in calm yet stern manner…..”you need to relax, calm down….you’re panicking” .. Oh gosh, i thought I was about to cry. After I stopped panicking, I took a few deep breaths….and I tried again….and again I went to the gasping motions of drowning…again…i needed to relax. Finally, i calmed down and Todd said, “ok, just do 5 strokes and you can take a break”. I was thinking, I’ve been doing hundreds of strokes these past few months, and I can’t even get thru five??!!….After, I did five strokes……he upped it to ten strokes….then twenty….and finally until we made it to the other side. During this entire time the team went thru the triangular of bouys 2x. I was only able to make it across once.  Ugh, I was so frustrated. This must be what coach chris calls a “low points” in training and racing.

Our post swim, 2 mile run.

Our post swim, 2 mile run.

After the swim, we transitioned into a short 2 mile run. During this time, Tony surprisingly ran with me. He’s much faster than me and usually runs with the speedy grop, so I was surprised he stayed back. Later he said that my face  had the unusual expression of  “defeat” on it. So he wanted to see if I was ok and give me a few encouraging words. I called it a “pity run” but in the end his company seemed to cheer me up. After  about 1 mile, he noticed that I was ok and he took off to catch up with the rest.  Oh,  this first open water experienced sucked big ones, but it just means I have to work harder…I’m still nervous about going back in, but I wanna do it!

btw, your prayers and words of encouragement would be good right about now! Think good thoughts for me! =)