Monday, August 12, 2013

2013 Swim to the Moon 10k Race Experience

Ok, here goes my long story about why I chose to swim the 10k again, how I trained, and why I was worried I would not beat my time.

So, I ran the 50k trail ultra in April.  I think I signed up for this 10k in January or February.  I had a pretty good idea I was going to get injured training for this 50k.  And yep, I did!  IT band.  I knew I'd be upset if I didn't have another goal after the 50k because I had to take some time off running.  So there's one reason I signed up for the 10k-I wanted my body to heal its running injury, and what better way to do that than swim?
Also, I just really enjoyed the experience last summer.  If you haven't already guessed, I enjoy extreme physical challenges.

Last year I swam all year long, increasing my distance in May of last summer to prepare for the 10k last August.  Total mileage 6/11-August 10 last year was 95.44mi.  I'm assuming from May (I didn't log then) it could have been 130mi maybe?  This year...since May 13-August 11th was 204.7 miles.  Last year I mainly just swam for endurance.  I swam in a yard pool mostly, anywhere between 5 and 6000 3x a week, and 4000 2x a week.  Sometimes 6 times a week I swam.  During the 4000's I would add in a little speed workout, but not much.  Lots of long, slow distance training.

This year....I limited myself to swimming 5x a week and no weekends (unless it was a triathlon race) to give myself a mental break.  I swam a 5k nearly every weekday morning.  I also swam in a meter pool this time, most of the time.  My workouts looked something like this:

Warm up:  800 swim, 100 kick, 500 pull
4x500 on 8:15, 50 easy
10x100 on 1:45, 50 easy
10x50 on :55, 50 easy  (Total= 5050m)  Or some variation of this workout.  I would sometimes swim 12, 16, or 20 100's, 75's, sets of 200s or 400s. 
Sometimes I would do these at a moderate pace, sometimes a hard pace.

Last year I did a lot of pull sets.  So I figured this year the only way I'd get faster is to do intervals.  I knew that I had the endurance since I raced this distance last year, now I wanted to work on speed.  So 3 sets of different intervals I did!  And that's how I got an 8 minute PR!

Race Morning and the Night Before:

I hadn't checked my email since Friday, and there was an email saying the I-94W ramp off 23N was closed, so I had to add a few extra minutes driving time to take a different route.  I was planning leaving at 4am, meaning I had to get up at 3:30 am, but instead I got up at 3:00 and left at 3:40am.  Ugh.  I arrived 1 hour early, with plenty of time to spare.  Also, the night before I had stalked a few of my competitors in my age group (who doesn't?).  One was a college swimmer who swam the mile in 18:35.  I was intimidated!  So I definitely made my goal to beat my own time, nothing else, which is what I always want, but it's nice to try to place :)

When I arrived, Eva (the race director, I work for the company some, so I know her well!) told me the guy who was timing had a family emergency, at 4am, our race was at 6:10am, so her husband had to drive back to Ann Arbor to get their timing stuff.  Because of this, we did not have splits.  But that's OK!  Also because of the fact he had to drive to Ann Arbor, the race started at 6:20am, and we all left in one wave.

The Race (First 5k):

The first 5k went pretty smoothly, as I expected.  It was a mass start, since we all started out in 1 wave.  I tried to draft off people, but the 17 before me were pretty fast :)  I did start out pretty quickly, and then settled into a nice pace I could maintain for the first 5k. 

When I neared the turnaround point, I had to stop a number of times and ask the guards which buoys to swim between (It's confusing at the turnaround point).  It started to get pretty sunny, so it was also harder to site.  Great, I probably lost at least 2 minutes there.  The first year I raced swim to the moon 5k, I swam it in 1:22:28, and last year my split during the 10k was 1:22:30-this year it was 1:19!  (A worker was just telling us what the times were when we got out to check in halfway).  When I stopped to check in, I drank a small cup of heed, and asked her which buoys to keep on my left and right.  So that took another minute or so. 

The Homestretch!!

I hopped back into the water, and felt pretty strong on the return trip, unlike last year.  Last year I felt progressivly worse miles 4, 5, and 6, lol and just wanted to finish it, I had no time goal.  This year my business was to beat 2:50:56.

However, I got confused again at the buoys since you had to again swim around certain ones before heading back to the finish.  I had to ask another guard which buoys to swim around and between.  Finally, when I swam around the last turnaround buoy I was relieved because I didn't have to worry about swimming between 2 buoys anymore, just the 1 on your left.  I still felt pretty strong during miles 4 and 5.  Me and this other swimmer were swimming on each others heels for quite a bit.  I decided to draft off her for awhile, it was quite nice, I got a break!

Mile 6 or so (hard to determine where you're at):

Once I got back to Halfmoon Lake, the final lake leading up to the finish (you swim through 7 lakes up there in Pinckney Recreation Area), I was excited to almost be done!  I started swimming as fast as I could, and was relieved it was almost over, because at this point my arms wanted to fall off, and my hamstrings and hip flexors were getting pretty tight from kicking for over 2 hours!  Again, the sun made it hard to site, so I had to look for each buoy individually, make it there, then try to site for the next buoy.  Everytime I swam to a buoy, I thought I was almost finished, ha, but noooo this final stretch seemed to go on and on!!  Finally I saw the finish line, got to the last buoy, and did what I call a sprint to a finish.  (It was NOT a sprint, my whole body was so sore!).  Once I got to shallow enough water, I stood up, then ran to the finish line!  I was relieved it was over!

I wore a watch, but silly me forgot to start it at the beginning of the race, and I didn't catch what the clock said when I finished.  Judging from the actual time of when I started, and when I thought we started, I thought I swam the 10k in 2:47.  This is why I was so shocked when I saw my official time of 2:42:41!

So excited.  I never in my wildest dreams knew I had that in me.  (Well, ok, I did have an idea, but I had no idea how well I'd swim on that day).  First in my age group, 5th overall female, and 18th overall.  My goal was just to beat my time from last year of 2:50:56, even it was just a minute.  I beat it by 8 minutes, and the awesome place I came in was just icing on the cake!  Oh and that college swimmer....I ended up beating her :)  I'm not sure how this is possible, since I never swam in college, but I'm guessing that I have the ability to hold a faster pace for a longer amount of time.  This is something I'm learning more and more about myself every day.  I am definitely NOT a sprinter!

Will I do another one?  I think so.  I just need some time off from swimming.  Mentally, it takes a toll on you, because there is no one to talk to, and I have to train mostly in the pool.  Staring at a black line for 1 hour and 40 minutes is not what you would call fun!  But, swimming is very meditative for me, so I always feel great after my workouts :)

If I do more, I want to do the Swim Michigan series next summer or summer after.  10k early June, 3 mi early August, and 10k second weekend of August.  It'd be nice to go to nationals for the 10k one year.  However, it'd also be nice to race at USAT nationals, as well.  I don't know.  I am tired of swimming, and do I really want to start training again in a few months for another 10k in June?  And keep it up all summer long?  I've got a wedding to plan also!  Which is why I'm not doing an IRONMAN next summer.  I've got some time to figure it all out.....:)

When I was young, I was the kid who was always picked last in gym class.  However, I loved swimming, and we never swam in gym class.  I was the kid who never wanted to get out of the pool.  I used to HATE running.  My lungs burned whenever I tried.  But then I started running, loved it, and never stopped.  My dad took our family on 15-20mi bike rides when we were kids.  What I'm trying to say is this:  If you have a dream, whether athletically, academically, or professionally, don't give up.  Never give up despite all the odds against you.  If you have passion, discipline, dedication to training or the work necessary to achieve the goal, and determination, you can achieve it!

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I---
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."  Robert Frost

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Women's Only Sylvania Tri 2013

So, I was pretty nervous before this triathlon, not as nervous as last year but still pretty nervous.  Why?  Because I knew I could place.  That always puts the pressure on a bit!

The Swim:

You have to seed yourself to how fast you think you'll swim.  Each swimmer leaves 4 seconds apart.  I decided to go first this year, unlike last year where I seeded myself 4th, but ended up passing everyone anyways (I was too nervous to go first).  This girl (who I later found out was in my age group) caught up with me on the swim during the first part, but I was able to swim ahead of her the rest of the way.  When I got out of the water, however, to run up all the stairs into transition, she was right behind me!  Ahhh! 

My swim didn't feel as strong as it did last year.  Last year I swam a 6:35, this year it was 7:40 (I missed a week of training because we were backpacking 2 weeks ago-I did not feel strong at all in any workout this past week).  The girl who was right behind me also swam 7:40.  We tied on that!  However....I did not let her pass me up in anything else, hehe!

T1:  I was pretty happy, 0:57.  However, I struggled putting the straps on my bike shoes down. 

The Bike:

It took me some time to get clipped in, and was worried about the straps on my shoes.  Then I thought, "The hell with it," and just rode on with my velcro straps loose.  My feet weren't going anywhere, they were already in the shoes.  Riding down Centennial was fine, except the part where I almost took out one of the policemen working the race.  I thought I was supposed to turn, then realized he said straight, and almost ran right into him!  I slowed way down for that.  I continued on smoothly, riding around 21mph, until I turned onto Sylvania Ave., and then came the wind.  I watched my speedometer decrease in 19, 18..nooo!  I tried to keep it up around 20, but it was a challenge.  Then I turned onto another road, not sure which one, and there was a nice tailwind.  23mph the whole way.  Another turn, 21-22 mph, and into T2!

Two older women passed me (a 60 and 40 yr old!!), and then one other woman caught up to me at T2 (which I knew she would because she's amazingly fast on the bike and run!).

T2:   I struggled with this one.  Because I don't wear socks during triathlons to save my transition times (which would be a lot slower than they already are!), it was hard to get my wet foot out of my cycling shoe.  Oh well, next time I'll put baby powder in them beforehand.  1:08-still not bad for me, it's a lot better than the last 2 years.  Oh and I don't know why, but I put on my race belt first before my running shoes.  Usually I grab it and buckle it on as I run.  Oh well.

The Run:  I wore my Garmin so I could pace myself.  I tried to keep my pace under 8:00 the whole time.  I felt like I was going to throw up during the whole run, so I just told myself, "It's ok, you can puke when you finish, just keep running as fast as you can."  I was amazed with my run time.  24:27.  That's about 15 seconds slower than my 5k time without the swim an bike attached.  I owe that all to Sandi Nypaver, and her running form video.  After my 50k when I got ITband syndrome, I knew I had to be done with heel striking and do something about my form.  As soon as she said to lean forward with your ankles, not your hips, something clicked in my brain!  Definitely don't have perfect form, but it's a lot better than it ever has been.  Also, I think psychologically I know the run just sucks after the bike, so why not just think positively, and do the best I can?  Change your attitude towards things helps, too. 

Overall Time:  1:06:30.  4th out of 167.  2nd on the swim portion (well, we tied), 6th on the bike, and 11th on the run overall.  Very happy!!

Ok, I must work very hard this week during swimming so I can be ready for my 10k swim August 11th.  Seems I have lost some strength due to the backpacking week, but that's ok, I think I can bring it back.

Great job to all my friends who raced today!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Fluid Needs in Endurance Athletes

Fluid Needs in Endurance Athletes


It is good to keep drinking a lot of pure water during a long distance race, such as a marathon. T/F

An athlete does not need to drink fluids during intense endurance exercise as long as they drink enough in the 24 hours before exercise.  T/F

Sodium helps retain fluid during vigorous endurance exercise.  T/F

It is ok if I train in a semi-dehydrated state so that my body gets used to this and I don’t have to worry about slowing my pace to drink during races.  T/F

I don’t need to drink during endurance exercise in cold weather.  T/F

What is Important for Optimal Performance?

Water is the most important performance-enhancing nutrient when exercise and heat stress are combined

The question is, how much is really needed before and during exercise

AND how can the addition of electrolytes in water or sports drinks improve performance?

Intro to the Importance of Fluid Before and During Exercise

Excessive sweating=more serious fluid loss and a reduction in plasma volume

This leads to circulation failure within the body and core temperature increases to dangerous levels.

Intro to the Importance of Fluid Before and During Exercise

During near-maximal exercise in the heat, along with dehydration, relatively less blood diverts to peripheral areas (skin, muscle) for heat dissipation. 

Reduced peripheral blood flow reflects the body’s attempt to maintain cardiac output despite a decreased plasma volume caused by sweating.  (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009)

Core Temperature During Exercise

Any loss of body weight > 3% seriously disturbs body temperature regulation and performance (Wein, 2011).

Hyperthermia –increased core temp. by 5°C or higher. 

Normal core temperature during exercise can reach up to 40°C (104°F).

It is dangerous when core temp. reaches 41°C, or 106° F (Vella & Kravitz, 2004).

Core Temperature During Exercise

Heat generated by the active muscles raises core temperature

Signs of heat related illness can result if one is exercising in the heat, which increase core temp. even further

Rises in core temperature even happen while swimming or running outside in cold weather! (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009)

On a hot day, temperature receptors located in the skin send signals to the hypothalamus to cool the body by increasing the sweat rate (Vella & Kravitz, 2004).

Water Loss  in the Heat:  Dehydration

Dehydration=imbalance in fluid dynamics when fluid intake does not replenish water loss (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009).

Any amount of dehydration impairs exercise performance.

A 2% loss of body weight results in decreased performance and signs of disorientation/confusion (Wein, 2011).

A loss of >3%  seriously disturbs temperature regulation!

The risk for dehydration increases even during intense exercise in the cold, so don’t let the cold weather fool you!

Water Loss  in the Heat:  Dehydration

Health risks associated with dehydration include:

  1)increased core body temperature

  2)increased cardiovascular strain

  3) increased glycogen use

   4) altered metabolic function and possibly altered CNS (Central Nervous System) 

Water Loss  in the Heat:  Dehydration

The risk of heat illness greatly increases when a person begins exercising in a dehydrated state (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009).

Dehydration can slow the stomach emptying rate and cause stomach cramps and feelings of nausea.

Magnitude of Fluid Loss

During high-intensity exercise in the heat, a person can lose up to 3L of water/hour (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009).

However, sweat rate can vary depending on:

  1)the environmental temperature


  3) type of clothing worn

  4) intensity

  5) fitness level

  6)acclimation to the environment (Vella  & Kravitz, 2004).

Body fluid loss results in these 5 negative factors on performance (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009): 

Decreased plasma volume

Decreased blood flow to the skin

Decreased stroke volume (the amount of blood pumped out each heart beat)

Increased heart rate

General deterioration in the efficiency of circulation and thermoregulation during exercise

Water Replacement:  Rehydration

Properly scheduling fluid replacement maintains plasma volume, so circulation and sweating progress optimally (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009)

A well-hydrated athlete always functions at a higher physiologic and performance level than a dehydrated athlete.

Achieving hyperhydration BEFORE exercising in a hot environment protects against heat stress because it:

  1) Delays dehydration

  2) Increases sweating during exercise to help cool the body

  3) Diminishes rise in core temperature

Pre-exercise hydration

It is recommended to consume plenty of fluids in the 24 hours before exercise (Vella & Kravitz, 2004).

In addition, the athlete should drink 16 oz of fluid about 20 minutes before the start of exercise (Vella & Kravitz, 2004).

The athlete still needs to consume fluids during exercise, especially in the heat (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009).

During Exercise

Fluid requirements vary remarkably between athletes and between exercise situations. 

Fluid loss is effected by (AIS Sports Nutrition):

  1) Genetics-some people sweat more (Myself-this note was not in my presentation, lol, but because I sweat a lot, I noticed I have to drink more to stay hydrated than others it seems.)

  2) Body size-larger athletes vs. smaller athletes

      3) Fitness-more fit people sweat earlier in exercise and  in larger volumes

  4) Environment-sweat losses are higher in hot, humid conditions

  5) Exercise Intensity-sweat losses increase as exercise intensity increases

During Exercise

 Better to start drinking early and often during exercise (AIS Sports Nutrition).

Every 15-20 minutes, the athlete should consume between 200-300 mL (about .85-1.25 cups) (AIS Sports Nutrition).

Adequacy of Rehydration

Signs of dehydration include (Vella & Kravitz, 2004) :

  - dark urine with strong odor

  - muscle cramps

  - decreased sweat rate

  - fatigue (Vella & Kravitz, 2004)

The athlete drank enough fluids during and before exercise if they excrete a large volume of light colored, odorless urine (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009)

Sodium Facilitates Rehydration

A moderate amount of sodium added to a rehydration beverage provides more complete rehydration.

Maintaining a relatively high plasma concentration of sodium helps (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009):

  - Sustain thirst drive

  - Promote retention of fluids

  - More quickly restore lost plasma volume during  rehydration

Sodium Facilitates Rehydration

Restoring water and electrolyte balance in recovery can help by adding moderate to high amounts of sodium, such as 2300mg, to fluids or food (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009).

Add 1/3 tsp. of table salt to 1L of water, especially if exercising for a prolonged period of time in the heat.


What About Potassium?

A tiny amount of potassium (36-90 mg) enhances water retention.

This amount may prevent any extra potassium loss that results from sodium retention by kidneys.

However, even at intense exercise levels, potassium lost in sweat is small and poses no immediate danger.

Can replace potassium lost through sweat by increasing the amount of potassium-rich foods (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009).

Sodium Facilitates Rehydration

Fluid intake is increased when beverages are cool, flavored, and contain salt (AIS Sports Nutrition).

This makes sports drinks the perfect beverage to drink during exercise!  They have the right amount of sodium and potassium needed (AIS Sports Nutrition).

Pure water absorbed from the gut rapidly dilutes plasma sodium concentration, so it’s important to drink fluids with sodium in them to prevent a condition called Hyponatremia (McArdle, Katch, & Katch, 2009).

Hyponatremia:  Reduced Sodium Concentration in Body Fluids

Hyponatremia , or low blood sodium levels, causes symptoms similar to dehydration and is potentially life threatening.

The sodium concentration balance is disturbed which can cause swelling of the brain.

Can often occur in prolonged endurance events of 2 hours or more when large volumes of low sodium drinks (like water) are consumed and sweat losses are small (from dehydration).

Taking in sodium-containing fluids helps match fluid intake to sweat loss since sodium helps retain fluid and lowers the risk of hyponatremia (AIS Sports Nutrition).

To Reduce the Risk of Hyponatremia, an Individual Can Follow These 5 Steps:

1) 2-3 hours before exercise drink 14-22 oz. of fluid

2) Drink 5-10 oz. of fluid about 30 min. before exercise

3) Drink no more than 32 oz. of plain water spread over   15-minute intervals during or after exercise

4) Add a small amt. of sodium (about ¼-1/2 tsp. of salt  per 32 oz. to fluid.  Commercial sports drinks are also effective in providing water, carbohydrate fuel, and electrolytes.

5) Do not restrict dietary salt. 


         AIS Sports Nutrition.  (2009).  Fluid-who needs it?

  Australian Sports Commission.  Retrieved from

McArdle, W. D., Katch, F. I., &Katch, V. L.  (2009).  Sports and exercise nutrition.  (3rd ed.).  Baltimore, MD:  Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Vella, C., & Kravitz, L.  (2004).  Staying cool when your body is hot. 

  Retrieved from

Wein, Debra.  (2011).  Nutrition for ultra endurance events:  fluid and

  electrolytes guidelines.  Retrieved from