Mommy Wants a Timeout

In which I contemplate absurd moments in parenthood, occasionally attempt to refer to myself as a “triathlete” while keeping a straight face, and maybe post some random pictures of stuff I’m knitting

Archive for the tag “swimming”

Whew…Thank Goodness THAT’S Over!

I did it! I finished my first Oly tri! With a smile on my face, no less…and in spite of yucky weather and a major crisis of confidence the week before.

If you want to read my detailed race report with times and everything, look here.

Here’s a more emotional, long-winded summary:

After a night of fitful sleep, I got up, got dressed, and forced some breakfast and coffee down. I packed up my bike and headed to Cathedral Park, which is less than 20 minutes from my house. (Finally! A race I don’t have to drive an hour for!)

I'll be swimming under this, then running over it!

I’ll be swimming under this, then running over it!

Since we weren’t supposed to park IN the park, I found street parking approximately 17 miles away, unloaded my stuff, pumped up my tires, and plodded to the transition area. On the way I ran into a couple ladies I’d done a training swim with, and we swapped hellos and well-wishes for the race before parting ways at the body-marking area. Since it was chilly and windy out, this race required our arms to be marked, instead of just the legs like I’m used to. I held up the line for a minute while I struggled out of multiple layers of clothes, got marked, then headed over to transition to set up.

The weather forecast had called for rain, so I had brought along a couple large plastic bags to place my socks, shoes, and jacket in to keep them dry while I was swimming. As it turned out, it didn’t rain much during the race, but it was a good thing that my shoes were pinning down my bags, because the wind was blowing…hard!

After pretending to listen to the pre-race briefing while putting on my wetsuit, I headed down to the boat ramp. I had a pair of throw-away flip-flops on, which meant I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the dagger-like texture of the pavement underfoot. I debated whether or not to even warm up in the water, since my wave wasn’t scheduled to start for 18 minutes after the race started. I did the smart thing and got in, got used to the water temp, then got out and shivered for what felt like forever until they announced my wave. I kicked my sandals off to the side near the boat ramp and tried to find a promising-looking area to start. It was a big wave, though…At least 60 people, and we were all sort of crowded together like cattle.

Needless to say, when the swim started, it was a madhouse. It took forever to make any forward progress, and I was struggling to find any place where I wasn’t swimming over or into another body for at least a hundred yards. After we rounded the first buoy, it started to thin out, and I found a rhythm of sorts. It was pretty windy, and the water was choppy, but I concentrated on keeping my breathing and my stroke as even as possible. It seemed to take forever to get to the turnaround, but it seemed a little easier on the way back. (The race directors had said to expect the opposite, due to an incoming tide, but maybe the wind direction had something to do with it.) I eventually made it back to the boat ramp, and climbed out of the water feeling like I’d done pretty well. I glanced at my watch and was surprised and a little disappointed to be about 3 minutes slower than what I’d expected, but I was soon distracted by the tiny knives of pavement that were trying to shred my feet on my way up the hill. Running wasn’t an option; I just sort of tiptoed, saying “Ow, ow, ow,” until we were on soft grass again.

When I got back to my bike I did a pretty good job of shedding my wetsuit, but could not for the life of me figure out why my helmet wouldn’t go on my head right. I took it off, looked at it, put it back on, took it off again, and finally realized my ponytail was too high and the helmet wouldn’t fit over it. Obviously the cold water had slowed my thought processes. I adjusted my hair, jammed my helmet on, and headed out for the ride.

The bike is by far my weakest event. I rode as fast as I could comfortably, and as usual was passed by a multitude of people of all shapes and sizes. I was able to pass a few myself, but they were almost exclusively on mountain bikes wearing running shoes. On the positive side, I was able to eat a few energy chews and drink lots of Gatorade, so I felt well-prepared for the run. Besides that, I was able to tolerate the ride pretty well, without too much “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” running through my head (though there was some, to be sure!) There was a mean headwind for most of the ride, which seems impossible, but I swear, the wind shifted about halfway through, and I was riding into it all the way out, and most of the way back.

My second transition went smooth enough, then I steeled myself for the run. It should be my strongest leg, but I wasn’t sure how my legs would hold up after a long ride. Also, the run course had a long, steep uphill climb pretty near the beginning, which is just not fair. (Seriously, it was about a quarter of a mile of around 18% grade. Cruel.) This is the only place I walked during the run leg, and it was only about 15 steps, to keep me from crying. But when I hit mile marker 1, my pace was near 9 minutes/mile, which was way faster than I’d expected! I contemplated slowing down to conserve energy, but my legs felt okay, and I wasn’t huffing and puffing, so I decided to roll with it for a while. I started noticing the spectators along the course, and had enough breath to compliment them on their signs. (My favorite one said, “Hey! Where’s everybody going?”) I also chatted a little with some of the runners I passed and who passed me. The course stayed flat for the next couple of miles, and my pace stayed strong. Then it was time to climb over the St. John’s bridge. I was demoralized for a little while at how tired the climb made me, and I almost lost my hat in the wind. I thought about taking a walk break before telling myself I didn’t need it, I wasn’t that tired, I was strong, etc. etc. The positive self-talk worked, and pretty soon I was crossing back over the bridge and heading downhill again.

Remember that 18% uphill? Well, the course came back down that same hill. A runner I’d been exchanging leads and jokes with since mile 2 finally blew by me for good at that time, and I told her to go crush it. But my quads (and my nerves) can’t handle a downhill sprint, so I took it a little slower. Good thing, because I still had almost a mile of trail along the river and through the grass of the park before I was in the finishing chute. I passed a young woman who looked like she was struggling a bit, told her to push hard and finish strong, and then ran hard the last 50 yards to the finish. I’d run the best 10K time of my short career, and I knew it! I also couldn’t bend over to take off my timing chip without falling down; thank goodness for kind race volunteers. I traded my chip for a medal and a slice of watermelon, and wandered aimlessly in a post-race stupor…”Must text husband…Need water…Call mom…Where’s phone?…Hey, chocolate-chip cookies!” I ate some of the post-race food and eventually packed up my stuff and headed out as the gusts of wind started lifting up tents and knocking over fences. I walked the 17 miles UPHILL to my car (Seriously, not cool…) on tired legs, and headed back over the bridge just as a torrential downpour opened up. Whew…Thank goodness THAT waited until after the race!

Notice how that tree is blowing sideways? It was seriously windy!

Notice how that tree is blowing sideways? It was seriously windy!

So now it’s time for some rest and recovery. I know this was no Ironman race, but it did require a significant amount of training time, especially in the last couple months, and I’m a little burned out. I’ve got a few body parts (hip, back) that are begging for some time to heal, and frankly, some long-neglected housework to attend to. In time, I’ll set some race goals for the winter and next year, but right now I’m just going to enjoy having nothing to train for!

My Legs Were on Hawaiian Time…

Well, this post is a little overdue. Our Kaua’i trip happened back in early March, and I promised to post pictures and a full report when I got back. Life constantly seems to interfere with my best blogging intentions…

Ahhh, Hawaii. Probably my favorite place in the world. This was my first visit to the island of Kaua’i, and also the first time we felt the kiddo could keep up on some fun outdoor activities. And keep up he did…through hikes that had me huffing and puffing, a pretty long kayak ride, and some quality beach time.

In contrast to last year’s trip to Maui, when I had a pneumatic boot protecting my injured foot, this year I was in good shape for running and swimming, and was looking forward to doing both in the new scenery. Unfortunately for me, my legs seemed to relax into that comfy “Hawaiian Time” as soon as we got there, and resisted all of my attempts to encourage them to move faster than my long, slow run pace (even though I never ran longer than 4 miles.) Blame jet lag, blame the warm weather and humidity, or the early-morning, pre-coffee timing, but the running was nothing to write home about. I did, however, see some beautiful sights on some of those sunrise runs:

I'm never up this early at home!

I’m never up this early at home!


An endangered Hawaiian monk seal taking a nap.

An endangered Hawaiian monk seal taking a nap.


I didn’t limit my lower-body workout to running. Hiking up hills is great exercise too!

Checking out the Waimea Canyon views

Checking out the Waimea Canyon views…


This guy's always eager to explore!

…pretending he’s on Mars…


Heading off for a canyon hike

…and heading off for a canyon hike


One of my favorite hikes: the shoreline next to Maha'ulepu Beach.

One of my favorite hikes: the shoreline next to Maha’ulepu Beach.

Oh, and there was some swimming, too, although I must admit I’m always so fascinated by what I see under the water I rarely concentrate on getting a workout in. I’m not comfortable in a snorkel mask, though, so I get lots of practice holding my breath!

Poipu Beach Park

Poipu Beach Park


DSCF0844

We also took a kayak tour up the Wailua River, followed by a hike to a “secret” waterfall in the jungle (not so secret, judging from the hordes of visitors that hiked in shortly after we arrived!) I did earn bragging rights by being the first person present to jump (or wade, slowly) into the water and swim to the falls. Even in Hawaii, waterfall pools are…umm…refreshing? Bracing? Freakin’ cold, more like. Nothing like Oregonian winter-white gooseflesh to make me look fantastic in a bathing suit!

The lush greenery along the Wailua River

The lush greenery along the Wailua River


Hiking along the river to the falls

Hiking along the river to the falls


Not a bad place for a (COLD!!!) shower!

Not a bad place for a (COLD!!!) shower!


Couldn't convince this one to go all the way out to the waterfall with me. Wimp.

Couldn’t convince this one to go all the way out to the waterfall with me. Wimp.

My husband took a helicopter tour of the island with my dad and brother…By all reports, it was amazing, but I’m both too chicken and to prone to motion-sickness to have joined them. Oh, and speaking of chickens…They are EVERYWHERE on Kaua’i! Just part of the local character…

Some local chicks...

Some local chicks…


And a baby daddy?

And a baby daddy?

As much fun as we had on our visit to Kaua’i, there were a couple adventures that will have to wait for the kiddo to get a little bigger and stronger…

We'll kayak the Na Pali coast someday. Until then, this is as close as we'll get.

We’ll kayak the Na Pali coast someday. Until then, this is as close as we’ll get.


This trail is calling us, too...An adventure for another time!

This trail is calling us, too…An adventure for another time!

So there’s the briefest vacation report I can manage…Better late than never, right? And because I can’t get enough of baby birds (more about that in a future blog post) I’ll leave you with this parting shot:

Adorable (and endangered) Hawaiian Nene.

The adorable (and endangered) Hawaiian Nene.

Swimmer’s High

Lately I’ve been feeling like the management at my gym has been adding some sort of substance to the pool water that makes it especially viscous. It’s really the only explanation for why I’ve been training and training, and still feeling so sluggish in the water. I’ve been busting out Total Immersion drills and interval workouts twice a week for months now, with no visible payoff. Yes, my strokes-per-length have decreased, and I’ve seen a few other minor improvements, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had a major swimming breakthrough. Until today, that is.

This morning was Superhero Day at my son’s preschool, so I bundled him into his Batman T-shirt (complete with cape) and dropped him off in the company of Ironman, Superman, a Transformer, Catwoman, and, inexplicably, a fairy princess, then headed off to the pool. (Okay, there was a latte stop, some Facebook and Twitter time, a load of laundry, and a kitchen cleanup in-between, but you get the point.) I faced my morning swim with my usual reluctance and grudging resignation, but guess what, folks? Today, it DID NOT SUCK!!! In fact, today I finally had the kind of revelatory experience that my hardcore runner friends annoy me by bragging about: a runner’s high! Except it was while I was swimming! (I’m still waiting for it to happen while running, actually.)

I’ll spare you the details of my 700-yard warmup and just say that when I started what was supposed to be 500 yards at moderate effort, and then some 100-yard repeats, I began to feel like a superhero myself. I was gliding through the water effortlessly, painlessly, (but not slowly,) breathing easily…Even my flip turns were smooth! And at 500 yards it felt so good I decided to keep going until it didn’t. 800, still great. 1000, no problem. 1200, I could keep going forever. 1400…My swim cap, which had been creeping a little further back with each flip turn, finally popped off my forehead and tangled itself around my ponytail like one of those little bun-covers the Mennonite women wear, leaving me with a swirl of blonde bangs obscuring my view. That’s where I finally stopped. 1400 yards continuous swimming, a flip turn at each end, and a heart rate that never went above 130, at a pace under 2 minutes/100 yards.

I’ve swum further than that without stopping before (though it’s been a while). I’ve swum faster, too. But it never felt that easy, and I always WANTED to be done at the end. Today, I really felt like I could have gone on for miles, blissfully. Rather than welcoming an excuse to stop, I was truly annoyed that I had to. (Swim cap issue aside, I had to go pick up my little Batman from school.) But with no time or wardrobe constraints, I would really have liked to see how long I could have kept going.

I’m under no illusion that my next swim will be so easy, or that this was anything more than a lucky day where things just came together right. But I might be a little more excited to head to the pool for my next few workouts. In any case, I should probably send a letter to the gym’s management thanking them for altering the chemistry of the water to make me, finally, a good swimmer!

I Fried My Garmin, and Other Stories From the Week

Sometimes when I unplug my Garmin Forerunner from the computer after logging my run, it gives me a rude message about always ejecting something “properly,” along with a promise to “attempt to repair the damage” caused by my negligence the next time I plug it in. Ironic, considering the “proper” way to eject it is apparently to find it in the Finder menu and select eject, and my Garmin NEVER shows up in the Finder menu.

Anyway, after my run on Thursday, my online training log wasn’t acknowledging my Garmin, so I unplugged and plugged it back in a couple times, hoping to spark a glimmer of recognition. I got no mean messages from my computer about ejecting it improperly, but on the third attempt the watch face went blank, and hasn’t spoken to me since. Oops. I guess I’m back to estimating my run distances with online mapping software until I get this figured out.

In other training news, the family and I went camping out at Cove Palisades State Park last weekend, and I brought my wetsuit along for a practice swim in Lake Billy Chinook. Brrr!!! The water felt just as cold as Blue Lake back in June when I nearly bailed out in panic. It took me about 10 minutes just to be able to put my face in the water, and I swam for about 20 minutes before my arms felt too frozen to carry on. I’m seriously thinking I might need a wetsuit with sleeves if I can’t find some warmer waters to swim in.

No running on the camping trip…I was too busy eating s’mores. We did some hiking, at 4-year-old pace, and managed to avoid rattlesnakes while seeing funny blue-tailed lizards and cute bunnies. The kiddo made it his goal to climb every boulder he could find, alongside the other kids who took the trip with us.

Seriously, this is totally safe, I promise.

Now we’re back, and fall is definitely in the air. I’m torn between relief that I don’t have to exercise in the heat, and dread that soon I’ll be bundling up in gloves, polar fleece, and ear warmers when I head out for a run. It’s also the official end to the triathlon season, as the Portland Tri is being held this morning. I toyed with the idea of signing up for the sprint, then decided I really wasn’t ready yet and didn’t need the stress. It was the right decision, but it still leaves me a little disappointed that the closest thing to a tri I did this year was that aqua-bike back in June. But the running is getting easier every day, so I’ll just concentrate on getting stronger and staying injury-free over the winter. With any luck, come next summer I’ll be back in the game!

All together in front of Lake Billy Chinook

What Mommy’s Been Up to Lately…

Obviously, not blogging! So here’s a quick summary of my activities since I last acknowledged my blog’s existence:

Swimming! After this spring’s open water disaster, I decided it was time to rethink my swimming form and training techniques. I checked out the book “Total Immersion” by Terry Laughlin and prepared to revolutionize my swimming with a whole new philosophy (That’s what the book’s cover promises, anyway.) What I found was not so much revolutionary, but some really practical concepts related to swimming efficiency that have helped me get past the feeling that, in order to swim faster, I must make my arms go faster. My rotation in the water has improved, my breathing has become much easier, and I’ve reduced the number of strokes per length of the pool from 20 to 18, all without sacrificing any speed (or finishing the book, for that matter. I was only halfway through when it was due back at the library.)

Biking! Finally got that bike fit I so desperately needed. My backaches: Gone! My knee pain: Gone! The pain in my tush: Worse! Apparently, when your bike fits properly, you sit directly on your seat bones, and if your saddle isn’t right, you end up with a bruised butt. So I think it’s time to go back and visit my friendly neighborhood bike fitter (He really is friendly, and not intimidating at all, though, I kid you not, he goes by the name Rambo) and check out some new saddles. After all, a 12-mile bike ride should not cause me trouble with sitting for 3 days afterward.

Running! The foot is holding up just fine, and after 2 months, the heart and lungs are starting to catch up. My best effort yet over 3 miles is a humbling 11:11 minutes/mile, but I’m okay with that for right now. It was a 3 1/2 month layoff, after all. Still, hard to believe I ran a half-marathon in February, given my current lack of endurance.

Gardening! I’ve picked over 50 pounds of produce from my very own veggie garden so far this summer. The hits? Sugar snap peas…They’ve been gone since July, but they were far and away the most popular item for 4-year-olds and their mommies to eat straight off the vine this year. Tomatoes, especially the cherry ones, are also quite popular, and while zucchini as a veggie has been unpopular in the preschool set, zucchini bread is a smash hit. But green beans…Oh, am I ever tired of green beans. Note to self for next year: 5 rows of green beans is 3 rows too many.

This guy loves his veggies!

Knitting! Oh, dear Lord, how I’ve knitted. I’m using my triathlon training to give my hands a rest right now, since I’m pretty sure the tradeoff for letting my foot injury heal this spring was carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists from time spent on the couch knitting sweaters.

Tweeting! Okay, this has only been going on for a couple days. But if you’re interested, I’d love to pick up more than one follower! @MartyInTimeout

Hope you are enjoying the end of summer, and welcoming the fall! Off I go to see if I can improve on that 11-minute mile!

Panic Counts as Cardio, Right?

Here we go with a very belated race report on the Blue Lake Aqua-Bike from June 9th. I didn’t advertise that I was considering doing this race(ish thing) beforehand, mostly because I wanted to give myself a chance to back out at the last minute. This might be the first time I’ve ever not gotten a discounted race fee for registering early…I signed up Thursday for the Saturday race.

My real motivation for doing the Aqua-Bike was my husband…He decided to tackle the Blue Lake Sprint Triathlon, his first full-length sprint tri. (He did a novice tri last summer, with a quarter-mile swim instead of the half-mile one.) He finds open-water swimming very intimidating, so it was pretty huge for him to decide to go for this. I was going to be there anyway to cheer him on, so why not try the two events my foot would allow me to do? (Common sense provides a few reasons: a $85 race fee, for one; icy-cold early June lake water, for another.) We decided to go for it, together, so that cold Saturday morning found us unloading our bikes in the muddy field of Blue Lake Park.

“Honey, show me your excited face!” This was the best he could do.

After we set up our transition areas, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. My normal triathlon warmup would involve jogging for a few minutes, but since jogging was out, I settled for warming up by putting on my wetsuit, which got my blood moving a little (Have I mentioned it was really cold out?) Hubby and I then headed down to the water, where he did the responsible thing and got in the water, to get used to the water temperature and practice his stroke. I, however, got distracted by the confusion of several racers about where the bouys were located for the half-mile swim. (No one ever listens to the pre-race briefing, do they?) In my usual do-gooder (know-it-all) style, I explained the course to them, and to the next people who came up after that, and the next, and the next…Until my husband came up and told me I better get in the water, because they were about to line up my wave.

I jumped in the (freezing) water as fast as I could, did a few breathing exercises to try to get used to putting my face in the water, and barely had time for 5 or 6 strokes of freestyle before I had to get out and run over to the starting line.

I was totally out of my element in the mixed group of my wave, which was comprised of aqua-bikers, relay team members, and, in an odd juxtaposition, kids 11 (and under) through 19 and Clydesdales. None of them seemed to be interested in any prerace banter (30-something females, my usual peers, excel at it), so I was alone with my thoughts until the horn sounded.

Blame it on the lack of a warmup, or the decline in my fitness level due to injury, or the cold I was coming down with but didn’t know about yet, but that was the most miserable swim I’ve ever had. As soon as I dove in, I was panicky and short of breath. My arms felt like they were flailing, and I couldn’t stand to put my face in the water. Getting into any kind of a rhythm was out of the question. Switching to breaststroke didn’t seem to help, and I was seriously considering bailing out of the whole thing by the time I got to the first bouy. Then I saw the row of rescue kayaks on the inside of the course, and realized that any time I wanted to, I could just swim to the side and they would save me. At that point, I decided to head for the next bouy and see what happened. I tried to force myself into an even stroke, breathe regularly, and use the legs I’d forgotten I owned (they were dragging along behind me like a half-dead horse.) It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast, but eventually I got to the next bouy, and the next after that, switching to breaststroke every time the panic started up again. Eventually I was at the finish and heading back through the super-muddy transition area.

After slipping in the mud and stubbing my left big toe, I was back at my bike and struggling to get out of my wetsuit with numb fingers. (I have a sleeveless wetsuit, so I was essentially numb from the shoulders down. And my feet…I couldn’t feel my feet at all.) Once I fumbled my helmet and gloves into place, I was off for the slippery 0.22 hike to the bike mounting line. (Seriously…It took forever, so I checked my bike computer.)

The best thing I can say about my ride is…It wasn’t my swim. I think there was a headwind both ways, if that’s possible, and I barely dodged the giant dead possum in the roadway. I was thrilled to see my husband’s smiling face in the oncoming riders after I passed the turnaround. Thrilled because A) He obviously survived the swim, and B) He almost looked like he was having fun!

Then I was at the bike dismount line, and crossing the timing pad, and…I was finished. The most anticlimactic race finish ever. As I walked my bike back, I was passed left and right by triathletes running back to get ready for the last leg. A kindly old lady looked at me walking along and said sympathetically, “You’re doing fine, honey…Save your legs for that run!” I appreciated the good will, but had to explain that my race was over. Really, it was a strange feeling…I felt like I’d forgotten something I was supposed to do.

I racked my bike, threw on some sweats, and got over to my husband’s bike rack in time to cheer him on as he headed off for his run. Then I beelined for the coffee cart, and ordered my self a nice hot mocha. I strolled back along the course and cheered a few runners on, then saw my husband, still smiling, running along WAY ahead of when I’d anticipated. Totally awesome to see him finish so strong!

Still smiling!

So, it wasn’t the Olympic-distance triathlon I’d hoped for to start my summer, but it was better than nothing, and it certainly taught me a couple things about warming up properly before an open-water swim. The highlight of the day was definitely seeing my husband finish something that I’m sure, a year ago, he never would have thought possible. Funny, I think I probably felt the same way just a couple years ago!

Back to Reality…

But reality kind of sucks right now…Can’t run, can’t bike, and the kiddo is really sick of hearing me say, “Mommy can’t chase you right now…She has an owie on her foot.” So instead of reflecting on my current reality, I’ll sit on the couch eating caramel-macadamia nut clusters and reflect on our week in Maui.

How’s this for an auspicious beginning to a vacation? I’d already made the unfortunate trip to the podiatrist that earned me an immobilizing boot and an admonition that “You’d better come back from Hawaii with a tan that ends just below your knee!” Then we get to the airport and learn that our flight has been delayed 15 hours, until 1 am, because a bird flew into the plane engine. (In the midst of the adults’ discussion of this inconvenience, my sweet little guy pipes up, “Did the bird die?” Oh, that innocence just about breaks my heart sometimes.) Many hours later, we find ourselves in Maui in the middle of the worst storm to hit the islands all winter…Flooding! Wind! Lightning! Welcome to vacation!!!

But it did get better from there. Maui’s winter rain is, at worst, a heckuva lot better than Portland’s. And after a couple days, the rain slacked off, and though the seas were still choppy, I got some great ocean swims in. Nothing too demanding, though; when this is what you’re seeing underwater, it’s tough not to slow down and check it out:

By the way, all those pictures were taken by my husband…He had the benefit of snorkel gear. (Actually, I rented gear too, but when it came down to it, I trusted my own breathing apparatus more than that tube thingy that kept filling up with water.) Here he is, showing off his superior grasp of all things technical and complicated:

The orthopedic boot didn’t slow me down too much. (Partly because I only wore it when we weren’t on the beach, which was about half the time we were there.) I hiked down to here:

But not up to here:

And I probably shouldn’t have walked out here:
But I did it anyway, and managed not to trip over the lava rock or into a tidepool.

The three generations of my family that took this trip with me did a great job of distracting me from my injury, and they forgave me for staring wistfully at the dozens of runners along the beach paths and highways. But now we’re home again, there are no tropical fish to swim with, and the boot is still firmly secured to my foot…Whatever will I distract myself with now? These macadamia-nut clusters are pretty good, and it’s only a week until the Mad Men premiere, so I’ll do my best to muddle through. But what I wouldn’t give for a teensy, weensy little five-miler right now…

The whole family (boot included)

“Hey Kids, Watch Out for the Cranky Lady.”

Yes, I am a mom, but every now and then I turn into one of “those women.”

You know, the cranky ones who really don’t seem like kids that much, and don’t try to pretend to be nice when other people’s kids do things that bug them. And who give dirty looks to those kids’ mothers, and complain to other people about the lack of supervision those mothers are providing.

Which is not to say I don’t like kids at all. Just not the ones who crowd the pool when I’m doing laps, recklessly swimming across my lane and underneath me, usually right as I’m going into a flip turn. (Yeah, this is more of a triathlete post than a parenting one, just so you know.)

It’s bad enough that I come up sputtering and coughing when these reckless kids run into me, or that they steal my kickboard. (“How many times do I have to tell you kids? A kickboard is not a toy!”) What really bugs me is that they bring all the contents of their toyboxes into the pool with them, and then let all those things drift into my lane for me to run into when I least expect it. Or they throw footballs to each other and miss, and the footballs hit me in the back of the head. (This is actually excellent training for the kicks to the head everyone takes at the start of a race, but it really messes up my concentration in the pool. And I’m in no mood to look on the bright side right now.)

Lately, since my dirty looks have been ineffective, I’ve taken a new approach: If it’s in my lane, it belongs to me. I take the balls, boards, and random floating items back to the start of my lane and toss them as far toward the wall as I can, so at least the little hellions have to get out of the pool if they want their toys back. But it’s not making that much of an impact, so I’m considering a new strategy: I’m thinking of bringing a giant locking Rubbermaid bin to the pool with me and placing it at the end of my lane, then locking each toy up as I gather it. I might throw a kid or two in there too, if they’re really bothering me. And if the bin gets too full, I’ll just start dragging the kickboards, footballs, and swim noodles with me as I go. My 100-yard splits won’t be pretty, and I’ll eventually look like that Texas-size island of floating plastic in the Pacific Ocean, but I will have WON, you hear me? I WILL HAVE WON!!!

And something tells me the crankier I act, the more likely it is that the pool will miraculously clear itself of children every time I show up for a workout.

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