Two weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to go on a "Traincation" at the end of February through Swim Bike Mom. Swim Bike Mom, aka Meredith Atwood, is an amazing leader in the area of women triathletes. In case you haven't heard of her before, see her website to the right of my blog. Or click here: SwimBikeMom
There's an eerie connection I feel to her, given we are both attorneys, have two kids, work, train and even have husbands with the same name. I identified with her cause immediately, and have met so many other women like me through her blog. I am also, as previously mentioned, part of her Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Team with 29 other amazing women.
So anyway, Swim Bike Mom put together a chance to go to Panama City Beach in Florida and get some training done, as well as attend informational sessions on nutrition, training, injury prevention, etc. Meredith as well as her own coach and Ironman Brett, and another coach named Jack, all ran the program. We would get a chance to swim, bike and run on the course for the famous Gulf Coast Triathlon held each May, which also happens to be part of the Ironman Florida course.
I was excited to go for several reasons, which I will list here... order of reasons is not indicative of importance:
1) Florida in February. No brainer
2) A chance to meet Meredith in person
3) An opportunity to soak up some knowledge by well versed pro's
4) get to train in a nice setting
5) meet a bunch of other women trying to make it all work, like me
6) meet five of my Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Teammate officially
For my 40th birthday, my amazing parents and sister paid for my room in FL, which was so cool. All I had to do was get there, 15 hours south of home. I ended up making plans with my friend Sara to drive to her in Raleigh, and head to FL together. Always a risk to take on a long car ride with someone you barely know, but I had a good feeling... and spoiler-alert, I was right!
|bon voyage sign Jack left for me|
After our kid-free peaceful night in Darien, we head south then east, across the panhandle of Florida, to Panama City Beach. It was a long and very, uh, dueling banjos kind of drive. But it really went quickly, as we basically never stopped talking.
We arrived at our place, which we were sharing with one more SBMAT-mate. We went for a short
|Sara & I, post beach run|
Sarah plans on doing her first IM this year. Doc is doing her first marathon in Paris and her first IM too. And Therese who has done several IMWI, is focusing on the half distance this year. So fun to meet them and chat in person.
|view from our room|
Then there was Meredith. My mom (sorry mom) had some concerns that this all might be a scam of some sort, that Meredith was just taking my money and this may not be all that I think it is. But within seconds of meeting Meredith, I was able to tell that my mom would have loved her too. She's genuine and kind, and really embraces everyone to the sport. All the other women who were there, about 25 others, were from all over the country and from all different backgrounds. And she made a point to welcome each person.
|Brett, teaching nutrition|
The Florida weather proved a bit cooler than we had all hoped. It was also very windy. So we had to change some of our training plans up a bit. The open water swim (OWS) in the Gulf had to be cancelled, and the bike/run were made a little shorter. On Saturday morning, we drove over to the Panama City Beach Sports Complex for swimming. In Florida, there are no indoor pools. So, while the air was only 50 deg, cloudy and windy, the water was a warm 80... lots of people running from locker room to pool to dive in!
The swimming was fun. I was with the A, or faster, group. I really enjoyed being with a group to swim again, doing sets, like practices when I was little. I shared the lane with Sarah, and two other women both from Michigan. Those two learned to really swim later in life, which impresses me so much.
|SBMAT: Doc, Sara, Therese, me, Sarah and Meredith|
|Coach Meredith on deck|
|that's me in the light blue cap in front of Meredith|
|swimming up behind Sarah, who is kicking in the pink cap|
|the whole gang, before heading out|
|Sara and me|
The headwinds were awful, and the A group was moving at a fast clip. But I managed to keep up for the most part, and did it. Coach Jack road behind me the whole time, so I had to formally introduce myself after... I mean, the poor guy had been staring at my backside for about 25 miles or so!
|rockin' my awesome Baltimore jersey from James|
After the bike ride, we did some transition (where you change from swim to bike, then bike to run, during a race) practice.
|huddling for warmth with Therese during transition practice|
Coach Brett had some good ideas on how to be more efficient in changing your gear around, but at that point I couldn't stop shaking from being cold. We went back to our condos for lunch and to shower up, before more talking sessions. Meredith was going to give her "keynote speech" and Coach Brett was going to talk about the 70.3/Half Ironman Distance.
Meredith was wonderful. Her speech was heartfelt, and she even brought a backpack of Coors Lite to
|staying classy with Sarah|
Coach Brett provided us with lots of information. Listening to him got me excited about training when I got home. I hadn't officially mapped out my training for Eagleman or IMMD, but now I was totally ready to fill in my calendar and get it all figured out.
Afterwards, the whole group went out for dinner at the Back Porch, a fantastic seafood restaurant in PCB.
|one of our two tables!|
|Doc and Coach Brett|
He asked me to "drop the hammer" on the last two miles, i.e. finish the ten miles at a very fast pace. Of course my pride kicked in and we really hit it from mile 8 to the finish. It was fun to have a coach for a day!
After the run, Sara and I hung around for awhile with Therese, who had an afternoon flight home to Iowa. Therese is coming back to FL in May for the Gulf Coast Tri and was not leaving FL without her open water swim. So she and a few others actually donned their wetsuits and went into the drink. It was Therese's first time swimming in salt water and waves like this. She is a tough cookie, as it was cold!
|Therese heads out|
Then Sara and I got a start on our drive home. We stopped in Tallahassee for dinner, and Jacksonville to sleep over. Once again, despite the very long hours in the car, Sara and I had a fantastic time. Of course, on Monday, it was sunny and 70 deg on the drive north. Sara and I considered staying in South Carolina, specifically at the famous tourist trap South of the Border, and starting a new life there... but we missed our children and our men-folk, so continued home
|silliness with Sara|
|South of the Border, possible sight for Swim Bike Town|