Olympic Triathlon: Training Part II

Week 6
By this point in training Rob and I were both pretty worn out and had a lot going on, so the plan to swim 3 times that week didn’t happen. I ran once during the week and went to a Crossfit class but I was achy and painfully sore through my hips and gluteus medius for a day and a half after the run. I definitely over did it at Crossfit, having done over 300 air squats. Other than that those two days, not much training happened that week.

Week 7
I was pretty worried about going swimming this week; afraid to face the reality that I might have lost my gains over the last 6 weeks. Tuesday afternoon, after an early morning, a decent amount of driving, and a long day of wedding festivities, we had planned to go swimming. Rob and I were both tired, did not feel like going swimming for an hour, but I told him I knew I needed to go. Instead of going home, we drove straight to the Salt Lake Rec Center from the wedding luncheon in Provo. When we got there Rob realized he had forgotten his swim bag. I could tell how tired he was, and I told him it was not a big deal, he didn’t need to swim with me. He didn’t fight me on it too much, so I know he was pretty worn out. He didn’t want to leave so he hung out and slept on the grass while I swam.

My plan was to swim about 1300 meters in the outdoor pool, which is 50 meters one length of the pool; so down and back 100 meters. In other words I was planning on swimming 26 laps. I swam 6 laps in one lane and then got kicked out of my lane by a guy I think was a swim coach for a high school team. He didn’t say much, but he must have noticed my swim cap, because he tapped me on the head with a paddle board and then as I lifted my head from the water and looked up at him he asked me if I knew Lindsey Spangenberg. The swim cap I was wearing was one TJ had given me and it had the words “Captain Spangenberg” printed in white lettering along the side of the black cap. I said, “yes she is my sister-in-law.” He seemed to lose interest in me at that point, realizing that I was not a legendary Spangenberg swimmer. He told me they were going to be using the lane, not giving me any option to stay. I was a little bit frustrated that I had to stop, because this was going to be my first 1300 meters without stopping, but I got over it pretty quick and found a different lane to share with another swimmer.

I got in and began swimming again. It was nice and sunny outside. My goggles don’t have any tint to them, just clear, so each time I would lift my head to take a breath I would close my eyes because the sun was so bright. This is when I realized I don’t swim very straight, because I kept running into the lane lines when I would take a breath. Pretty sure that is what the bruise just above my right elbow was from. I didn’t want to buy tinted goggles, because I was worried about them being too hard to see out of in open water. I wanted to have the best visibility I could get, so clear goggles seemed like the best option to me when I bought them. If I keep swimming for exercise after the race, I might want to get some tinted goggles.

I was sharing a lane with only one other person when I got in to swim, but as I kept swimming two other women joined our lane. One of them was just using a kick board to go up and down the lane and wasn’t moving very quickly. I was swimming along and didn’t realize she was just up ahead of me, got too close to her, and got kicked in the face. It wasn’t too bad, but was a wake up call for me that I would need to pay more attention to those around me during the race so I didn’t get kicked in the face! Lesson learned.

Somewhere along the way I decided I wanted to swim further than the 1300 meters and rounded it off at 1500 meters for the day. I didn’t feel very fast, and hadn’t paid too much attention to the time, but felt really good when I finished. I was really happy about that! When I got out to the car to share my success story with Rob, he wasn’t there. He had gone in to try to watch me swim, but was a little too late and I was already done at that point.

The next morning I got up before 6, got dressed, and ate a piece of peanut butter toast on my way to the rec center. I didn’t waste any time in the locker room. I got in the pool about 6:17. My goal was to swim a full mile without stopping. When I began, I thought that 66 lengths (25 yards per length) was a full mile but as I was swimming, and counting my laps, as I neared close to 60 laps, I noticed a sign on the wall directly in front of my lane that read: 1 mile = 72 laps. I looked at the time and began to swim faster and faster. The water felt great. I was in total control of my breathing. My strokes felt strong and consistent as I plowed through the water. Initially I wasn’t shooting for any specific time, but as I got closer and closer to finishing that mile, I peered up at the clock and challenged myself to finish before the clock read 7:00 on the dot.

I continued to swim, feeling comfortable with my breathing and stroke rate, not panting for breath; moving steadily through the water. I swam hard; harder than I ever have before. I wanted that mile before 7:00. When I got to the end of the pool, finishing lap 72, I touched the concrete and looked up at the clock. When I saw 6:59:17 on the clock my heart took flight! I had done it! I had swam a full mile without stopping for the first time in my life, and I had finished it in under 43 minutes! Dang I felt good! My first mile felt fantastic! I climbed out of the pool feeling  hot and extremely thirsty for the first time since we started training. That is when I knew the training was paying off, and I was getting faster! I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face all the way home. Couldn’t wait to tell my incredibly attractive coach at home that his little womanator swam a mile in less than 43 minutes!

When I got home and told him how the swim had gone he got so excited! He was so proud of his dedicated little wifey waking up so early and swimming her little heart out. 🙂


After my two long swims this week, I felt comfortable with the swim portion of the race and thought I should spend some time getting comfortable on my borrowed bike and getting a feel for the transition between the bike and the run. Thursday night Rob was working late so I decided I would bike from home and go for time, not worrying about distance. I figured the 24.8 mile bike would take me about 2 or so hours, so I planned to spend just over an hour on the bike and then to go for about a 3 mile run afterwards. That would be about half of each of the race distances in both the bike and the run.

I was sleepy when I got home from work, and contemplated taking a nap and then getting out on my bike, but I pushed myself to get changed and forego the nap. Good thing too. It was about 6:30 when I began to ride. The sun was still up but there was a light breeze, perfect weather for riding! I rode straight up B Street to 11th Avenue. B Street is a pretty steady incline all the way up to 11th, other than the semi-flat intersections where the roads cross. After I made it to 11th, I rode down Bonneville Boulevard to the entrance of City Creek Canyon. I was planning to ride up City Creek Canyon, Rob’s suggestion, but when I got there I found out that the canyon is closed to bikes on even days. I quickly re-routed and headed back along Bonneville Blvd. towards the Capitol building.

I rode up Capitol Blvd. to the gated community, which was about a mile, came back down, and circled back around halfway down Bonneville Blvd. I turned off on Freedom Trail that lead down to Memory Grove. It was so beautiful through that area. I remember running up Freedom Trail many times when I was training for Ragnar a few years ago, and it was my nemesis. My friend and I would run it after work, so early evening, during the late spring. Typically these runs would be on days that I had also done Crossfit at work during lunch, so by the time we set out to run I was already pooped. Each run up that trail felt so long and I felt heavy, sluggish, and out of breath every time…and riding my bike down this trail I felt like I was saying, “take that you rotten trail, I beat you!” I was flying down that trail on my bike!



When I got back from my ride, I felt great! I had ridden for just under an hour. I quickly parked my bike in the house, drank a little bit of water, took off my helmet, locked the house, stuffed the key on my person, and then took off on my run. I took the same route I had ridden my bike on, but just shortened it some. My legs didn’t feel too bad at first, but after that long up hill to 11th Ave., my legs were heavy and I had a side ache the rest of the run. I think the side ache was from the nutrition I was drinking while I was biking. My stomach wasn’t use to it.

I was happy that the next mile and a half or so were mainly downhill with some flats, and there was only one decent climb towards the end of the run. I slowly jogged up the hill along 2nd Avenue and made my way back to our house. I timed my run on Strava, just to help me get a sense of my pace for those couple miles. I wanted to see how much slower I was running after biking for that hour. I made my way up B Street finishing the loop, and looked at my phone to see my time and pace. I had run about 3.3 miles in just under 30 minutes. I was happy with that time! I am hoping to finish the run during the triathlon in about an hour, and this pace would get me finishing the run in just under an hour. When I got home I felt worked; like I just got my butt kicked at the gym, but at the same time I was pumped that I had just finished my first bike/run transition too! A little late in the game, but at least I got it done and I had a great time biking.

Physical Therapy
I also forgot to mention that a few weeks into my training, I started seeing a physical therapist for overall fatigue that I have been experiencing for about eight months or so, and some aggravating hip pains and shooting pains in my legs, lower back, and hips. The pains in my back and hips especially seem to flare up near the end of a 3 mile run and then they will usually ache for a day or so afterwards. The physical therapist thinks that the pain in my hips and glutes are possibly from an issue with one of the disks in my lower back. He could feel that there was some inflammation near the lower part of my spine as he would press on my back. Inflammation is usually a sign that your body is trying to protect something that is broken or damaged. It was very tender and sometimes painful when he would press in certain areas. When he first started working on my body (week 1 and 2 of meeting with him) he said that my hips were out of alignment; my right hip slightly higher than my left. So he pulled on my feet/legs to try to even them out. Then each week he would have me stand facing away from him with my feet only a few inches apart and he would look at my hips to see if they had shifted at all or were still in alignment. The last two weeks of therapy, he said that my alignment was looking much better and my hips were staying level.

My physical therapist’s name was Dave Moss and his intern was Mary Grow. His assistant’s name is Steve. They work at Salt Lake Hand and Ortho. I met with Dave about twice a week over the course of 6 weeks for an hour each session. He and his assistants would have me do the same exercises each week. Most of the exercises were to strengthen my core and my lateral plane. He said that my frontal plane was very strong, but my lateral plane was pretty weak in comparison, just because lateral movements aren’t as common for us to do, so those areas are routinely under-worked.  He also gave me an at home program with 6 exercises/stretches to do twice a day everyday. I was really faithful at doing them at least once a day everyday for the first 4 weeks or so, but I got busier and more tired as training went on, so regrettably I was only doing them a few times a week when I remembered.

I was the physical therapist for 10 sessions; 9 before my race and 1 time the week after.  The feelings of fatigue I have been experiencing were happening at least a few times a month for the past better part of a year, but with the physical therapy, both at the office and the at-home program, reducing my running to no more than 3 miles per run, and only doing body weight movements (no olympic lifting or other lifting with weight), I am starting to notice a difference with the overall fatigue. I am feeling fatigued much less frequently and that is a huge blessing! The hip, back, glute, and fatigue issues are not completely gone, but at least now it hasn’t just been me being a wannie about nothing. Even though we are not totally certain what the issue is, at least he has narrowed it down to something in my lower back and I have some strategies to make it less painful.

On my last day of PT, I brought homemade milk chocolate gelato with chocolate curls that Rob and I had stuffed into a Ben & Jerry’s container for Dave and Steve. They were equally surprised and giddy at the same time. They got some spoons and began to eat it in the middle of the office. Dave said, “this is going to be gone today!” I think they kind of liked it. 🙂

Week 8
July 4, 2016: Second Open Water Swim
The final week of training I had planned to only swim once or twice, nothing hard, to conserve my energy for the race. Rob’s cousin Josh swims and organizes a lot of open water swim races and swimming for fun. He had invited me to come out to Jordanelle Reservoir Monday morning to swim with him and a few others. He said they usually swim about 1 mile. I thought it would be prefect practice for me a few days before the race, because it would give me a chance to boost my confidence in my ability to swim a long distance in open water.

I showed up a few minutes before 6. I wasn’t feeling too nervous, but a little bit. I was mainly only concerned about the water temperature, because I don’t do well in super cold water. Josh had said the water was suppose to be about 68 degrees. That didn’t sound too cold to me, but it was also 6:00 in the am, and it was pretty windy. Josh said the others were already swimming so just the two of us would be swimming together. As we walked out to the water I told him I am pretty slow and he didn’t have to stay with me, but he reassured me that he was there for fun and wanted to stay with me. That was really reassuring and made me feel more comfortable right away know that he was going to stay with me.

We made a plan to swim out to the first orange buoy and then we would swim along the white buoys to the end and back, which would be about a mile. Josh told me that the initial getting in the water is his least favorite part, mine too, but getting in the water wasn’t bad at all. The body parts out of the water were actually way colder then the body parts in the water.

We got in and began to swim. The water was pretty choppy. I was swimming freestyle for the first several strokes, but the waves were just big enough that each time I would lift my head to get a breath water cover my nose and mouth, so I couldn’t get a breath. I started coughing and my heart began to racing. I was panting. I slowly side stroked the rest of the way out to the buoy so I could keep my head out of the water and try to slow my breathing down. I still felt completely rational mentally, but I couldn’t get my breathing to slow down. My body was freaking out inside. Josh was waiting for me out at the buoy. I was kind of embarrassed, and felt bad that he was waiting, but he was so kind and reassured me that I was fine and could wear his flotation belt just for security. I tied the belt around my waist and we began to swim again. I swam side stroke again, because I only breathe on the right side when I swim freestyle, and the waves were coming from that direction, so instead of fighting the waves, I just decided to swim side stroke until I could calm my heart and breathing down. I tried to focus on the gorgeous sun rising in the distance, but my goggles were pretty fogged up and my heart was racing so I wasn’t really able to enjoy it until I got out of the water.

We swam slowly from buoy to buoy. We swam maybe quarter of a mile and I was still panicking inside and couldn’t calm get myself to calm down inside for some reason. After about 4 buoys I told Josh I thought that was far enough and we could head back. I swam breast stroke between the last two buoys and then side stroked to the dock. I felt kind of embarrassed about what had happened. I have never had terrible experiences in water or been afraid of the water, so I would never have anticipated feeling this way. I don’t know if it was the waves, the wind, the dark water, the depth, or a combination of all of them, but it totally unexpected. I was so grateful Josh was there and that he was so patient with me. He never made me feel dumb, even though I was a little bit embarrassed. He even shared an experience he had had a few years ago at this same reservoir, having a panic attack in the water, even though he had been swimming open water for years. That made me feel a little better knowing that I was not alone and that it has happened to other people too; even experienced swimmers.

We got out of the water and talked for a little bit, but I started shaking because I was so cold so we parted ways. As I drove the 45 minutes back to Salt Lake, I was feeling really discouraged, fighting tears the whole way home.  When I got home I crawled into bed, hoping not to wake Rob, but he woke up as soon as I got into bed. He asked me how it was and that was when the water works started. I told him all about the swim and the panic attack. He was so sweet and helped comfort me and helped me recognize what I had accomplished instead of focusing on what I felt I had failed on. I’d gotten up early on a holiday, 4:50 am, driven almost an hour to a reservoir. Gotten in the water at 6:00 am and spent almost an hour in the water. So even though the swim hadn’t gone anything like what I had hoped for, I had gone and done it, and I didn’t quit. When I panicked, I didn’t immediately get out and go home. I stayed in the water and I swam! That was success, no matter how small. Progress is progress, no matter how small! I was especially grateful for Rob and Josh that day.

The rest of the day I was pretty anxious thinking about my race coming up in 4 days. I was just worried that what had happened that morning might happen again during the race. Even though I was nervous, I knew I needed to get back in open water before the race on Saturday. I needed to get comfortable in the water again. So Rob and I decided to go to Echo Reservoir on Tuesday night to go for a little swim!

July 5, 2016: Third Open Water Swim
Tuesday after we work, after replacing our car battery in the Auto Zone parking lot (we were dripping with sweat). We were ready for a nice cool swim! We headed to Echo reservoir, which is about a 45 minute drive from Salt Lake. We drove around the lake to get familiar with the area.  It was a beautiful area, with lots of red rock and trees. We found an area to park, changed, I said a silent prayer in my mind, and we walked down to the lake. I was a little nervous as I was getting changed, not sure what would happen out in the water, but I was not about ready to let one scary experience stop me from doing what I had been training so hard for the last 2 months.


I waded into the water and waited for Rob to get the gumption to get in with me, but he was really cold. I told him he really didn’t have to swim with me if he didn’t want to and could just wait on the shore. I could see his wheels turning, debating whether or not he really wanted to get in the water. I waited another minute or two and then dove in and started swimming! I didn’t want to stand and debate any longer, I wanted to get out there and get comfortable swimming again!

I swam out to the first buoy and treaded water for a few minutes, feeling pretty good. Visibility in the water was 2-3 feet, and I couldn’t see or touch the bottom so I am guessing it was pretty deep. The elevation at the reservoir is about 5560 feet, which is about 1330 feet higher than Salt Lake. The water was a little choppy, about as choppy as Jordanelle on Monday, but less windy. I wasn’t as nervous once I got in the water as I thought I would be. I could hear Rob letting out little sounds of discomfort as he made his way deeper and deeper into the water. I was trying not to laugh at him too hard, but it was pretty hilarious. He eventually made it in all the way into the water and swam out to me. I thought the water temperature was so nice and refreshing!

I could see another buoy not too far and thought it would be good for me to swim back and forth between the buoys, kind of using them as a safety net. And so that I could see that I was getting somewhere, unlike when I was swimming along the shore at Utah Lake and felt like I was swimming in place the whole time. That was not awesome :}

Rob and I spent about an hour swimming back and forth between the two buoys, treading water, and training myself to stay calm even when the waves came and got in my nose and month. We had fun and just enjoyed swimming together. Rob was cold the whole time, even while we swam. Poor guy. As we swam back to shore, I felt a sense of pride in myself for having the courage to get back out in the water and swim. I was grateful to have Rob there with me. He was the most awesome supporter and swim coach I could have asked for!


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Just keep swimming swimming swimming 🙂

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