Tethered for Life – 8/25/20

[Photo Description: Paracord Tether at top, SP1belt swim tether below, race belt run tether below, key card swim tether and hand run tether at the bottom.]

Because of my vision, I rely on others’ eyes when I train and compete.  For both the swim and run, we’re tethered together.  I thought it would be helpful to others to discuss that evolution and what currently works best for me.

During the first few runs, I believe that I did them untethered.  I had more sight at that point, and I believed the very visible vests were enough.  While they were early on, I knew that the vision would eventually necessitate tethers. 

The first iteration of the running tethers were hand carried.  While it wasn’t a perfect system, what I found worked best was one of the ‘child leashes’.  I found that it was easiest for the guide to hold the handle.  And while they worked for a bit, I quickly learned that I needed something else.  Simply put, too much focus ended up being put on arm stroke or worrying about losing the tether.

On the swim side, the first tether I used was built by Dare2Tri’s staff.  It was a waist tether consisting of a piece of bungee and 2 hotel key cards.  Early on, this worked great, and I was able to feel the responsive tug as the guide maneuvered us through the course/around traffic.  However, after about a year, they got to a point where the swim tether would continually slip during the race.  Because of that concern, I started looking at other swim options.

While the initial swim waist tether wasn’t perfect, it did lead to solutions on the run side.  What I found worked best was two of the Triathlon race belts with a piece of bungee connecting them.  That has been my run tether since, and it led to the next iteration of the swim tethers.

Prior to Leon’s Triathlon that summer, I overheard someone from SP1belt talking about creating a swim tether using two of their belts.  I was intrigued and looked into it more.  As a result, before the race started, I had a new swim tether that didn’t slip.

I continued to use that tether for about 2 years.  During that time, it became clear that the current tether wasn’t responsive enough.  Meaning that I would be too far from my guide before I would feel it go taut and correct.  At that point, I was introduced to the Paracord tethers. 

These have a two part connection point (waist and thigh), and are connected by a length of paracord.  Because of the double connection point, I stopped having stroke interruption on whichever side the guide was on.  It worked well during the 2019 season, and I’ll be looking at another version for 2021’s season.

So to review, what I’ll be using for the 2021 season is a run tether that consists of 2 tri belts connected by bungee and a Paracord constructed swim tether.  I will be going to smaller paracard so that I’ll have a lighter swim tether.

If you’re interested in being my eyes for training or racing in 2021, please reach out.  The projected schedule includes Indoor Triathlons, Sprint Triathlons, an Olympic Triathlon, Sprint Duathalons, Sprint Aquathons, 5Ks, 10Ks, Half Marathons and 70.3s.  If you are, I only ask these two things:

The first is that you’re extremely proficient in the discipline(s) that you’re going to guide for me in.  Typically, your worst speed should equal 90% of my estimated best.

The other is that you have a good attitude and are willing to learn.  Before the first time out, we’ll spend at least 10-15 minutes talking to ensure that we’re both on the same page.

Double Catapult

Since beginning this journey 6+ years ago, I have become part of many different organizations. They all play a different and important part towards helping me succeed.

Catapult has provided me with opportunities to push my own boundaries while still being safe. They have also provided support so that I could improve in the swim discipline.

I am extremely grateful for their support, especially in this chaotic 2020 season. I am also extremely grateful for the opportunities that they provided for me in 2019. Feeling normal as I went night platform jumping has and will always stick with me.

This is just one of many reasons that I’m honored and proud to be part of their 2020 Ambassador team! And while I haven’t been able to be back in Houston yet, you WILL see me in Catapult gear during the fall/winter 5Ks that I have planned.

Moving Forward – 8/22/20

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.” – Robert Burns

It has been a challenging year from a lot of perspectives. I’ve discussed my frustrations in previous blogs. However, the focus now is moving forward.

Now that doesn’t mean being reckless. I had struggles during the early part of the 2019 season due to medical issues. And the incident in Pleasant Prairie later that summer (having to be pulled from the water) magnified how important it is to be physically sound when racing. What it DOES mean is being careful, smart and not living in fear.

I do realize that there’s a pandemic going on, and that ROs, RDs and many others are going to err on the side of caution. To this point, this has mean cancellations and deferrals of umpteen events of all sizes. But I believe that there are ways to have races while ensuring everyone’s safety.

I also believe that the only way that we’re going to have athletic events in general is if they happen and the sky doesn’t fall. For them to happen though, people have to be willing to show up and race. To that point, while the Ron Jon Tri is no longer the Toyota Paratriathlon Nationals, I truly and sincerely hope that it’s a sizable and successful event. When it is, I believe we’ll have a full 2021 Triathlon season.

While I won’t make the trip for a Regional event, I am focused on local events. I will do the virtual Chicago Triathlon and several in-person 5Ks this fall.

The bigger picture for me though is 2021. I have sent a proposed schedule to my coach that has 10 packed months of racing on it. To the point of being smart — the overwhelming majority of it is planned in the midwest, where we can drive to the events. We’ll see what of that planned schedule actually happens. But all I can do is properly plan and be ready to race.

One other part of moving forward is working on communication. This includes social media, e-mail and the web site.

I realize that the blog -> e-mail piece has not worked in approximately a year. I appreciate everyone’s patience with the tests over the last week as I tested it. If you are no longer interested in receiving the e-mails, please just reply with an unsubscribe request. I will honor those ASAHP once received.

And stay tuned for a new web site late this year / early 2021…