Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lipedema Triathlon - Phase One (Swim)

The Lipedema Triathlon was created in an effort to spread awareness for Lipedema, and to keep moving and challenging ourselves, because without doing so our mobility is at stake.

June is Lipedma Awareness month, and on June 25 we will be taking on this challenge. If you would like to join us from your hometown, click here to sign up.

We wanted it to be all-inclusive, you can choose your level of involvement (do one lap, one mile, one leg of the race, or the full TRI, whatever your fitness level), and we wanted it to be virtual, so no travel was required, you can do it in your own hometown, or your own backyard or living room.

Triathlon, from the Greek words treis ("three") and athlos ("sport"), is a three sport event, typically swimming, cycling, and running.

Triathlon races vary in distance, the one we are focusing on is the Sprint: 750-meter (0.47-mile) swim, 20-kilometer (12-mile) bike, 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run/walk. Here is a break down of what we will be doing come June 25:

Swim - The most common pool sizes built today are either 25 meters or 50 meters (Olympic size) so 750 meters will be 30 lengths in the smaller pool and 15 lengths in the Olympic.

Bike - Most bikes (road or stationary) calculate mileage, but if not , just calculate your speed (MPH) by your duration to get you to 12 miles.

Run/Walk - Most treadmills calculate mileage; or if using a standard indoor track (200 meters), you would need to do 25 laps for a 5K. If using a standard outdoor track (400 meters), you would need to do 12.5 laps.

I knew the swim and the bike were the big unknowns for me in this equation, I had not swam laps or ridden a bike since before my daughter was born over 12 years ago. I didn't even know if I could find a bike that I could use, one that would fit me and support me for a 12 mile ride. Not the average concern of a triathlete, but with Lipedema, your hips and legs can be quite a bit wider than most, and the fluid surrounding the lipedema fat cells also make our legs very heavy.

The first step was joining the YMCA, we have two branches in our town, one with a fantastic 25 meter pool.

Getting myself geared up to be seen in my swimsuit was the next step, but with the help of coach/hubby, my daughter and one of my best friends and future swimming buddy, it was easy peasy.

I opted to wear my bioflect micro massaging leggings under my suit, as I knew unlike aqua aerobics, my legs would be more near the surface and not getting the compression the water provides when standing upright in the water. I am not sure how long the bioflect will hold up in the pool, as not specifically made for that, but so far into our fourth week this Sunday, and only minor color fading is noticeable.

The first day back in the pool was exciting and scary, but I had purchased my speedo goggles and Tyr swim cap for long hair, and I was ready to go.

My friend was great, I was so thankful she was there, as she has been swimming laps for years during her lunch hour, and she had great pointers for both coach/hubby and I. While the goal was 10 laps, we did 16. More than half of the duration we would need to do for the TRI.

The second trip to the pool would be with one of my training mates, who is an Ironman (woo hoo)! She had amazing pointers, pinkies up (like when properly drinking tea) would naturally turn your hand to the correct position for cutting into the water, etc. As it turns out, the big challenge for both hubby and myself - breathing.

I started breathing every time my right arm went up and finally realized well into our hour session that I was not exhaling in the water ("you should see bubbles the entire time", she said). Mentally my body was not letting me exhale with my face in the water. So I spent time just gliding, no arms, with face in the water - when I came up they were so excited. Seems when my face is in the water, my legs  are in the perfect position at the top of the water, but when I pull my head up (you know, to breathe) the legs drop down - dragging behind me.

Breathing is the name of the game - blow bubbles the entire time the face is in the water, fully exhaling all the air out before my body turns to lift my head and take in a new breath.

After our session, which turned into about an hour and a half, my training mate, and our swim coach (Deb) informed us we did 800m (more than the triathlon).

We got changed and before leaving, Deb took me over to the treadmills, bikes, etc. and we tried a couple options. I was so excited that the SciFit recumbent bike fit me no problems - it is amazing the amount of accommodations you can make to the seat, it even turns to allow easier access for those who might need it.

I left the gym feeling fantastic! I could do the swim distance required in the triathlon, and found a bike to fit me.

On to phase two, the Bike!