Last spring when I was riding a million hours a week in prep for CDA, I decided that in the fall I would NOT ride my tri bike at all. I would take up cross. I would take up mountain biking. I wouldn't just be a woman riding solo on the roads, I would be a woman riding solo on trails, too. And on the weekends I would be one of the super cool chicks who can hop on and off her bike without mutilating her lady parts and who can do 180's on her bike without tipping over and who can leap over hurdles like WonderWoman.
Alas, none of that came to pass. I never got a cross or mountain bike, I still get on and off the bike like a granny (actually, I bet there are some grannies who get off and on their bikes better than I do), and I still experience near cardiac arrest when I must make a sharp turn, let alone a 180.
The one thing I DID do this fall, though, is get out to SEE a cross race. At least I can say that. This weekend I went to Canton to see Cross in action. The race in Canton was a good race to watch because I knew three people racing: Donna, Solobreak and Kurt. I missed Donna race, which I am pissed about, but Lara had her last soccer game in the morning, and that was that. I got to see Dave (Solobreak) and Kurt race, though, so that was good.
After Lara's game, Andy and I packed up the kids and pups and headed to Canton. When we arrived, we immediately met another dog mom (and kid mom), there to watch her husband race. Her puppy was a 7 month-old yellow lab named Daisy. Our dogs fell in love with playing with eachother, and so I spent the rest of the time hanging out with this woman (Suzanne). That was fun. I love having new friends, and she was very cool.
Suzanne is a veteran cross watcher, and so she told us exactly what was happening, who to watch, and where to watch from. The racing turned out to be far different than what I had imagined. I imagined people riding in packs, and it definitely wasn't that way. Riders were spread out--with the leaders far far ahead of the last racers. The race was much slower than I thought it would be, too. I am used to watching bikes zoom by, as they do in triathlon, but in cross the riding is more careful because of the grass, hills, turns, barriers. It is also just--quieter. No noisy Zipp discs--just quiet riding and heavy breathing. I marveled at the way the riders got on and off their bikes so easily. Especially the really good riders made it look seamless. It is also a very laid back scene compared to triathlon. I'm not sure exactly what made it feel that way.. but there were a few key aspects, I think: fewer people, spread out over a bunch of different races, some nice looking bikes, but no showy bikes, some kits, but also people riding in jeans, no major finish line with a big fat ribbon, no blaring music, fewer spectators, more mutts and fewer expensive looking dogs. I liked it. I think I am more of high strung triathlete type in the end, but I still liked it.
I'm not sure where Dave placed (have to still check his blog), but I know he was right up there from watching. I only got to talk to him for a second after his race because he was warming down on his trainer, and I wanted to watch the next race. Kurt placed 3rd in 35+. Suzanne's husband, Mark, placed first in Kurt's race. I guess he used to be a pro... and clearly he is still very good! It was fun to know and watch a few of the super good riders, I must say. Dave keeps telling me to try Cross, but I am afraid on so many fronts, not the least of which is that I don't want to be D.F.L.
Okay, enough on that. let's talk swimming.
Right now my running sucks. So does my biking. I don't really feel much like doing either of them because I suck so bad right now.
But swimming... ahhhh.
Joining Masters was like finding that special potion that when consumed makes you leap in your fitness beyond your wildest dreams.
Okay, maybe that is a little extreme... but really, if you are on the fence about joining Masters,you should. It works. I have actually made more gains in my swimming in the last three weeks than I have in the last three years of swimming on my own.
Why is this?
I'm not positive, but I think it is simply that when you swim with other people you are constantly worried that you will FAIL in front of them, and fall behind. This worry provides you with the energy you need to make sure that does not happen. Once you have gotten over your fear (takes a few practices) then you start getting competitive.
For example, last Friday I swam with a few guys and a girl who I now know. When I swim with this group, I lead the lane. At least I led the lane until last Friday. On Friday Ken arrived. He hadn't been there in awhile... at least not since I arrived on the scene and started leading the lane. So he went ahead of me. This lasted for all of warm up and for the first set.
I was polite. I did not swim up his ass or yank his ankle or SCREAM WTF, you know and I know you are slower than me! Move over!
I did not do that.
On the second set, though, I did say with a smile, Do you want to lead this set?
I'm not sure he knew how to respond. so he said, Well, I have been out for awhile and I'm not as fast as I usually am. What do you want to do this next set on per 100? 1:30s?
I smiled sweetly. No, I'd like to do them on 1:15. (the set was 2 x 300, 2x 150, 100 hard 100 easy, repeat.)
But it's okay! I said. I don't mind leading... Really, it's fine.
So I led. And I kicked his ass so badly on the 300s that I finished each one while he had more than 25 still to go. I am pretty sure I have NEVER swum that fast in practice. I was finishing the 300s in well under 4 minutes, which is fast for me.
So, this was all good until the end of practice. I was speedy, and Ken didn't catch me--not even close. As icing on the cake, after practice Ken asked if I was planning to swim in the BU meet coming up and said welcome to our club.
But then the coach caught me as I was walking to the locker room.
Next practice, he said, you're moving up a lane.
Anyway, that is how Masters makes you faster. Or, at least, it's why it has made ME faster.
I have a few meets coming up and I'm psyched to see how I do. The problem is that I will be swimming in a basic swim suit rather than the speed suits we were allowed to wear last year--so even if I am faster, my times might not actually be faster. But I hope they will be.