Bad things happen in threes

August 10, 2009

Another triathlete lost her life this weekend.  An Oshkosh woman died during the swim portion of her first sprint tri.  That’s three in Wisconsin, just this year.  My thoughts and prayers go out to Kim Schmidt’s family, and continue to be with Daniel Murry’s and Julie Silletti’s families.

As of mid-July (so, not including this most recent death), there have been 23 deaths in USAT-sanctioned events since 2004. The New York Times reported on the phenomenon of triathlon deaths back in 2008.  The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal weighed in after Daniel Murry’s death at Pewaukee. It hasn’t escaped the mainstream media that more than half the deaths are during the swim portion.

There is lots of speculation about the cause of swimming deaths, from cold water to long-QT syndrome to jellyfish.

The truth is that competing in triathlons is either just slightly less or slightly more dangerous than running marathons, (depending on which study you read) and that there is some inherent danger in any physical activity.

However, there is inherent danger in LIFE.  From skydiving to showing horses, and from driving a car to eating wheat, the hooded figure of Death will visit you at a time and place of his choosing, not yours.

As I did after Daniel Murry died, I re-affirm my committment to risk my life by living it. Every time I pull on a swimsuit, strap on a helmet or lace up my sneakers, I’m gambling with my life.  I could have a heart attack, drown, stroke, get hit by a car, attacked by a dog, anything.

I welcome it.

I’m not reckless, I don’t have a death wish, I don’t take silly risks.  But when I’m training or racing, and my heart is pumping, my breathing is ragged, my legs feel like lead and I’m soaked with sweat, I feel alive, and I feel healthy.  I’m not going to let that go, not for anything.

I hope lots more people do triathlons.  I encourage my friends and family to get into it, and always am willing to offer advice or be a training buddy.  I hope YOU do a triathlon someday.  But be safe.  This article from the Journal-Sentinal’s blog gives some good tips for preparing for your first tri, and some good tips for making the swim go a little easier even if you’ve done it before.  In summary: Prepare. Swim in open water (with a buddy or a support boat) BEFORE the race.  Swim in your wetsuit BEFORE the race.  On race day, get in the water BEFORE you have to line up for the start.  Knowing what it feels like to swim in colder, choppier water than your local pool will help you not panic on race day.

I have a bunch of stories to tell, and I’m a bad blogger.  But hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of posting this week as I prepare for the Pleasant Prarie sprint on Sunday, Aug. 16.


Giving 110 percent

June 27, 2009

So, I’m just a big whiner and excuse-maker this week.

Monday I skipped my workout because I had to leave at 6:30 a.m for the NPE and wasn’t done with my day until 10 p.m.

Tuesday I had a good run with Trimom.

Wednesday I planned on swimming before work, but dilly-dallied around the house and got to the Y late and ended up cutting my swim in half.

Thursday I went for an early run, but because I hadn’t properly hydrated the night before, I got dehydrated and finished lousy.

Today I went for a bike ride, and focused the whole time on the clicking noise coming from my bottom bracket and the problems with my gears, which have recurred, proving I’m not crazy. Thus distracted, I cut my ride short and didn’t push at all.

Plus, I’ve been playing fast and loose with my nutrition. Just a little too much fat, a little too much sugar, a few too many treats. Luckily, I haven’t gained any weight.


I’m not motivated. I did too well at Elkhart Lake, and now I’m having a hard time focusing on a goal. I know I’ve got Eagle coming up in a month, but for some reason, that’s not putting the fear into me.

However, there is a recent development that may help.

Before Elkhart Lake, I was thinking about the other tri’s I wanted to do this summer, and I got it into my head that I wanted to do the Devil’s Challenge in Devil’s Lake, WI. The Devil’s Lake area is very beautiful and very hilly, and Devil’s Challenge is considered one of the more difficult sprint triathlons in the area.

I told Trimom about my plan, and she was less than thrilled. See, she loves me, and she worries that if I push myself too hard, I could injure myself, or worse. She was even concerned that my Elkhart Lake goal was too aggressive. After I met that goal, she didn’t mention Devil’s Lake. I assumed she was still concerned, but Tuesday night, during our run, she surprised me by bringing it up, and telling me she was okay with it. “You kicked ass at Elkhart,” she said. “You proved you could do it.”

Devil’s Challenge is on Sept. 20th. It’ll be the most challenging race I’ve ever done. So, I had better get motivated, or I’m in trouble.

I’m going to make an appointment with my trainer and talk about a plan to get me ready for Devil’s. I’m sure there will be more and harder workouts and I’ll have to pay closer attention to my nutrition. But to be able to say I took the Devil’s Challenge?

That’s motivating.