Sunday, April 7, 2013

Adventures with mermaids

It's no secret that once a year I coach a girls running club through the folks at Mermaid Series called Mini Mermaid Running Club. Running with my girls brings me such great joy and I am so thankful to the lovely ladies who developed this program and bring it to hundreds of elementary school age girls. the majority being from under served schools.

Part of coaching these girls and my own children involves encouraging the girls to overcome their fears and be confident in themselves and their bodies. The best way that I can teach my children these traits is by my example. My oldest daughter and I both learned to swim freestyle around the same time last year. My youngest is learning right now despite the fact that she was adamant about not swimming swim team six months ago.  They observe so much about my training; they notice when the swim bag comes out, they run around crazy asking for things when they see me put on my bike clothes (they know I won't get off the bike to get them drinks and snacks), and they wait by the door when I go out for a run.

This weekend I attended a tri clinic with the Mermaid Series in Alameda. The main goal for me was to swim in the bay along Crown Beach. I don't have any fears of water but I do have an interesting relationship with the ocean. Having been a scuba diver in a previous life it has made open water swimming less daunting for me. Putting my face in cold water is not a big deal, having no visibility can be dealt with, it's motion sickness that is my weakness. I have been known to get sea sick in Hawaii and Lake Tahoe (not kidding). I can't read in the car, video games make me queasy and even Soaring Over California in Disneyland is borderline. There are so many great triathlon's out there and many of them are ocean swims, and in the back of my mind I told myself I probably couldn't do them. When this clinic came up I figured it was a perfect opportunity to try it out in a very safe environment and it's not like the water off of Alameda is the open ocean.

When I arrived to the beach it was pretty cold and the water looked choppy. I know that I have dove in much colder water so I wasn't too terribly worried about the water temperature, I was however concerned about the chop and how that would bode for breathing while I was swimming. We were told there was a current and we would be swimming into it. Again, I'm accustomed to current when diving, but that also involves the use of fins. My last open water swim had been at the See Jane Run Tri at Shadow Cliff's where I already felt like I was swimming on a continuous treadmill, so I knew this would be interesting.

The only time I was cold was at the start while we were in the water listening to instructions. I felt a little concerned being in a sleeveless wet suit when nearly everyone else was in a full suit. I reminded myself of why I purchased sleeveless in the first place. I dove in and off I went. My first thought was "salt", silly I know, I hate salt water. So far the chop was not creating any issue with breathing and I was able to do my usual bilateral breathing. I think I was swimming a fairly straight line. I remember looking at my Garmin and might have thrown out a cuss word when I realized I had only traveled 68 yards. Okay, this was hard, but I was not panicked, I was fine and would keep swimming. I periodically stopped to check my sighting and how much further I had to go. I started realizing that there wasn't anyone really around me, when I looked ahead I realized there were only a few people ahead of me, including the guy on the surfboard who was paddling out to mark our end point. That felt good, even if I kept thinking that it was really, really hard. At some point I had the thought that there was no way I could get on the bike and run after this. While I stopped frequently to compose myself, at least the time spent swimming seemed to be efficient and I felt no motion sickness. I was super excited to be approaching the surfboard, what I didn't realize was I had to just get to him. I was ready to swim around him and up to the beach! It was very exciting to learn that I was done and had made it when I reached him! I looked around and realized that I was the 3rd or 4th person in. I did it! And I wasn't sick! What a great feeling.

As we walked back I mentioned to Coach Heidi that this swim was going to be the determining factor in whether I signed up for the Mermaid Tri since Alameda was the site for the race. She looked at me and said "Looks like your signing up."

So of course, I came home and registered. I obviously forgot how I felt during the swim in regards to biking and running (kinds of like childbirth).

The greatest part is that the night before we will run with the girls in the Mermaid vs. Mermen 5k. This will be Kylie's first 5k. For the past two years she has run part of the Mermaid SF course so I am so excited for her to complete her first full 5k.

It's good to be a mermaid.

Proving that we can swim too! 


  1. Woot! I am so happy you had a great swim and can't wait to hear what you think of the tri.

  2. Shoot, my commnt from yesterday didn't go through. Great job!!! I'm so glad it went well for you. How awesome did it feel to get out of the swim in the front?!

  3. You did fantastic! So great to see you out there.