There's something in the water

Courtesy Jennie Finch

Jennie Finch is convinced she's had a close encounter with an alligator while training for her upcoming triathlon.

This weekend Lori Pritchett and I did another local sprint triathlon. It was a 500-meter swim, 13-mile bike and 2-mile run. I came in second place, and I really think my transitions are where I need practice. I took more than three minutes total, which doesn't necessarily sound like a lot, but other people are faster. And I know that's where I lost the race.

Triathlons are so different physically from anything I've done in the past, but so much of the athlete's mentality carries over. Your competitiveness kicks in no matter what it is you're doing. It's fun going from being elite in my sport to being a rookie in another. I started this challenge just trying to finish the Aquaphor New York City Triathlon, but now I'm thinking I may have to set a bigger goal. Not sure yet what it will be, but I'll keep you posted.

The other thing I need to work on is open-water swimming. Lori and I do most of our swim workouts in the pool because it's easier logistically. We have to travel farther for open water, plus we always want to have Coach Grampy with us for safety. Open-water swimming is a whole different animal, mentally and physically, from swimming in the pool. With waves and currents to contend with, it feels like I don't have time to get my breath and I can't find my rhythm. I'm working on slowing down and elongating my stride to buy me more time with each breath.

And then there's the whole challenge of swimming straight when you can't see anything. You have to look for landmarks when you breathe (or follow other swimmers) to stay oriented and relatively straight. But underwater, it's so dark you can't see four inches ahead. There's some crazy stuff in that water, too. One time I ran into a big metal cage. Holy cow was that scary! And another time I was swimming in the pond at my in-laws' and I felt something rough brush against my leg. Talk about wigging you out. My husband was convinced it was a big turtle, but I felt like I'd just touched an alligator. Touching something alive underwater is definitely the worst, especially here in alligator country.

I'll be fitting in this week's workouts around travel covering games for the College World Series, plus advocating for an upcoming vote to get softball back into the Olympics and the usual mom duties. My son is playing baseball two nights a week now. It's pretty funny learning the game from the parents' side -- especially since my husband, Casey Daigle, and I are both professional athletes wanting to coach him our way. We're working on finding the balance, though. And surprisingly, we're not the most intense parents out there!

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