Friday, March 29, 2013

This Moment Of Self Doubt

This week has been very difficult for me physically and emotionally.  I have arrived at the last day of one of the busiest weeks of the year relieved that I was able to get enough help to keep myself from imploding.  I did not work the monster hours that I have been known to work in the past... I think my record was braiding 42 out of 48 hours (and a total of 105 hours for the week) without taking a break (even to use the bathroom for the first 16 hours- can you say dehydrated!)... but at this point, the work that I did pushed my shoulder and hands to their limits.  Sadly for my bank account, those limits are far less than they were even a few years ago.  Still, I think that the choices that I have made this week in terms of both work and training show an evolution in my way of thinking.  I am trying to preserve my body for longer term goals rather than bust a gut (or a tendon) trying to do it all right now.

It's difficult to realize that you cannot do what you could do before, especially when you get paid by the horse.  Every horse I cannot braid cuts deeply into my income.  A couple of years ago I gave myself permission to start prioritizing my physical health over monetary gain and the bragging rights (You did 14?  I did 17!) that are the primary currency in my profession.  I bucked the trend of martyring yourself for the job, not that I wasn't the queen of that once (so you braided while you were pregnant?  Passing out because you have the flu?  Big deal.  I died and still made it to work!- Ok, that story in a minute.) I would keep going through any kind of fatigue, literally just kicking my sense of self preservation out the door.  It became kind of a goal to braid under the worst possible conditions and for as long as possible.

It was true of my training as well.  I used to look forward to the bonk because that was when I could get all the way to the bottom of myself.  It's why I have been able to tolerate ill fitting bikes and saddles, push injuries to the point of ruin, train day after day, week after week with little or no sleep, ride for hours in the midday heat of Florida with taking in no calories and minimal fluids.  There was a certain high associated with smashing myself into the ground.  I loved finishing a workout or a work day so smashed that I couldn't do anything else.  I loved when it got so bad that it seemed spiritual to keep going.

That sort of bullheadedness has served me well over the years.  It's a great attitude if you work with race horses and thoroughbred yearlings, compete in martial arts, or live without a safety net or support system for decades.  I have done all of these things and this attitude has saved me because sometimes no matter how bad it gets, failure (stopping, giving in to pain) is not an option.  But now I am trying to get my body to produce a type of performance that requires it to be functioning at it's peak, not just muscling through the mud.  I find it very difficult to say no to one more horse.  I struggle with feeling inadequate if I cannot do it all.  This week, it feels like I did very little.  I trained lightly, I braided steady numbers all week but about 2-3 more a night than what I can do pain-free, but by comparison to the other braiders who all did more, I feel like a failure.

That feeling, of course, permeates other areas of my life... particularly my training.  I have really struggled since the last race with fatigue and consistency.  I know this happens when I do the big drives and the changes in venue but I still can't shake the feeling that I am "letting it slip away".  I am afraid I will go into my next race less fit than my last (and of course if that happens the sky will no doubt fall).  Intellectually, I think I am making the right choices by pulling back and coasting through these harder times with the intentions of coming through them without a huge physical debt. But my mile wide stubborn streak and life long love affair with smashing myself until there is nothing left is making it hard to believe that I am anything but a total failure right now.

I see other athletes who balance work, training, life, and wonder why I can't seem to maintain the effort.  I really have little perspective and I don't have any idea how much the unstable sleep schedule really impacts my life.  I know that it is both helpful and disheartening to read what my former coach, DW wrote to me regarding training as a part of my life.  I have chosen not to take his advice, to press forward instead, and on a good day, I really believe that progress is progress even if my lifestyle slow down the results.  I know that in a moment I am going to finish this post, put my head down and go through the motions until I forget that I feel like this.  I know that as soon as I get back to a regular training schedule, all this insecurity will evaporate and I will return to enjoying the process.  But for the moment, for right now... this is my blog and I'll whine if I want to.

Ok, the story... As I have told you before I had some odd issues when my thyroid imbalance and gluten intolerance were untreated.  One of those was very low blood pressure combined with a low heart rate.  One week I had been feeling particularly bad so I went to a doctor and they drew blood.  After it was over, I started to feel very sick and dizzy.  The next thing I knew, I was waking up in an ambulance.  I spent the day in the ER with docs making an enormous fuss but never really telling me what happened.  Finally, they released me with no diagnosis.  I had a friend pick me up and take me to get my car.  I then went home, changed clothes and went to work.  Months later when I followed up with the original office where the blood was drawn, I found out that the panic was because my heart had stopped for a short time and for a brief period it looked like I was not coming back to planet Earth.  I was checked out by two cardiologists and ultimately given the green light to engage in any sort of activity, including triathlon/ironman training if I so chose.  The conclusion was that I had a vagal response but since my bp, hr were already so low, the heart lost pressure... or something like that.  I suppose if I had known that I had taken a walk on the dark side of the moon, I might have gotten those ponies covered by another braider... maybe, but the culture of the braiding world would have been working against me.

Total madness, total madness. I refuse to believe that I have made a poor choice by refusing to push myself this far past my limits to earn a little more money (or get a few more miles in) today.  I do believe that I would be dealing with far fewer injuries if I would have learned to pace myself a little sooner and in the long run would probably have gotten farther in all aspects of life.  Here's to hoping I get the most out of what I have left.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Coach's Wisdom, Grumpy Dwarf, and My New Steed.

Yes, this is what I consider a shovel.

Since my last race, I got myself into trouble with fatigue again.  I forgot my "no excavation equipment" New Year's Resolution.  Fortunately, this time it was not a "season ending, hospital visiting, body damaging" crater but more of a "ruin two weeks of training" hole.  This time finding my limits was like driving down the highway and seeing your exit too late to get over to the lane. You blow by it, go to the next exit, turn around, and chalk up some lost time to not paying attention.  However, it was also a warning shot off the port bow from my body.  A reminder of the consequences of biting off too much, a reminder that I am not invincible... TAKE NOTE.

Note taken.

An email correspondence with my coach included this edict:

"So I'm instituting a new rule for you.

Before you pick up the shovel and carry it with you, ask yourself why?  Why carry that shovel in the first place?  It's only use to dig a hole.  Next time you are thinking of doing something crazy, ask yourself if you've packed a shovel.  If so, drop it."

I responded by pointing out that since I am three apples tall and prone to hairy-ness (thank you Italian genetics), Peter Jackson has determined that I am supposed to carry a shovel.  Without it, the other dwarves would make fun of me.  I also signed my email this morning "grumpy dwarf".

His response?  "Don't be grumpy, you have a P5."

OH YEAH!!  THAT.  I guess I haven't mentioned that.  As you know, Seabiscuit is for sale.  There is a new horse in the stable.  

The New Thoroughbred.

We have a long way to go on the fit.
The front will get a lot lower with a different stem.

This bike is reminding me that I LOVE to ride!

We are still dialing in the fit but so far, it looks like the duck might have finally found the right partner.  A big THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to TJ Of The Pig Buds for making the impossible possible!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Full Circle.

The more things change...

One year ago.

The more they stay the same.


Did you notice??  Do you see it??  Do you know what my next post is going to announce?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rest In Peace, My Friend.

I am behind in posting.  I had several big travel days to get from Florida back to Texas and had to go right to work as soon as I got here.  There are at least three posts backburnered right now and they are going to stay that way, at least for now.

Today, a friend of mine lost her life to cancer.  I have never in my life seen someone fight so hard, yet with so much grace.  She was a little younger than me, in her mid-thirties, and was one of the most genuine people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

There was a point, a few years ago, that she and I identified closely with each other because we both suffered from severe back and neck pain.  We were both braiders.  We were of similar builds and both carrying a lot of weight in our upper bodies, contributing to the pain.  That is where the stories diverge.

You know the path my life took.  Her life took a different path.  Her pain continued to increase until a scan revealed tumors pressing on and fracturing some of her vertebrae. Those tumors were cancerous and she began a several year battle against cancer.  She handled every setback, every roadblock with a level head and a quiet courage that I will spend many years trying to understand.  I am in tears writing this, yet I know that this is trivial compared to the pain her loved ones are feeling tonight.

I feel almost guilty for the good fortune I have had in my life.  My problems were solvable with proper diet and exercise.  It is easy to forget my fortunes and focus on the negatives but in truth, though aspects of my life have been very difficult, in many ways it has been nearly charmed.  I have what I need.  My problems are first-world triathlete problems.  I bitch about work, I can't figure out how to adjust a derailleur without breaking something, I need new flooring in my camper.... BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.  Right now I am grateful for a life that is kind enough to allow me to believe that things of this nature are actually problems.

I am grateful for my run tonight.  I am grateful for a heart that beats, lungs that take in air, eyes that see all the colors of the rainbows, hands that get up every night and create something beautiful no matter how injured, for the roof over my head, the special little dog responsible for the laugh track in my life, for EVERYTHING I HAVE AND MORE.  I am alive and that is enough to warrant immense gratitude by itself.  I am also grateful to my friend who showed the world by example the meaning of courage, gratitude, and grace.

Andrea, I will miss you.  The world is a lesser place without you.  I am, and always will be, humbled.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"The Biscuit" Is For Sale


Lounging before a race.  I was second this day.

ALL of you know I love my bike.  ALL of you know that I have struggled since I got it to master the fit and handling.  The bike is awesome.  The bike is fast.  But since the bike doesn't fit me, it is none of those things once I climb aboard.  After spending every day off for an entire season in and out of shops trying to make it work... after, get this, FIVE professional fits (including two Retul) by the best fitters I could find in three states... after broken bones, concussions, road rash, and a wrecked shoulder (but not a scratch on the bike!)... after enough money in upgrades to buy the bike over again...

I.  Give.  Up.

Seabicuit, in all his awesomeness, is for sale.  (If you are interested, please email me directly with Seabiscuit in the subject line.  I would like him to go to a home.  I do not want to simply dump the bike on e-bay to someone that will not treat him well or appreciate how incredibly cool he really is.  I want someone who will love him and feed him carrots.... wait... maybe not carrots... chain lube?

With the race wheels and red tape.
The cockpit has been upgraded (see below) and it will come with a different saddle and the crankset shown below.
The cage mount between the bars is not included.

I have won on this bike.  I have had an overall fastest bike time, an age group win, and seen the podium for every race (with a bike portion) I have done since I got the bike, there is no doubt the bike is fast, but it doesn't fit me.  It will never fit me and that adversely affects the handling, my comfort, and power output.  It should fit me, I am the right height for the bike, but I have some very odd body dimensions and apparently ride a bike like a frog on a log.  I need more reach and less stack than this bike has to offer. If you are between 5'3" and 5'7" (and are not a frog on a log), this bike will most likely fit you... though I strongly recommend that you confirm your stack and reach needs with a fitter before looking at any bike.  If this bike fits you, it will be all the racehorse you will need.  Just ask the previous owner who took it to Kona! (She was 5'6".)
Kona karma!
I added some podium karma!

 My options are two:  go full custom or buy a bike that is too big with a standard steerer tube and bring the height down by chopping the seat post and inverting the stem.  For now, I am choosing to go with the latter.  Hopefully, I will be able to get what I need without going to a fully customized frame... but more on that later.

Seabiscuit in his training wheels.

2008 Felt B2 Pro (frame replaced under warranty in 2011, low miles)
size: 50cm, 650 wheels
Bayonet 2 fork
matte black carbon with red accents, white lettering (very sharp!)
excellent condition, slight blemish in paint on fork

Full  Shimano Dura-Ace build:
includes new front derailleur, new brake levers, chain
55-42 170 mm Dura Ace crankset (55 translates to a 51 tooth compact  crank on a 650 wheel)
11-23 rear cassette
This is the crankset and bottle cage included.

cockpit: New!
Profile design Prosvet Base bar 40 c-c carbon
T2+ Alloy S-bend extensions uncut
extra roll lizard skins bar tape (red)
includes 70,80,90 mm stems
prior to changing the stem length and pushing the extensions forward.
The cabling has been cleaned up.

race wheels: dream wheels!!
Zipp 404s (deep dish carbon rims w/alloy brake track)
kenda tires w/ 80mm presta valve tubes (no valve extenders to fight with)
Zipp skewers
very light use, race day only
small tear in one of the decals
includes two brand new spare tubes
no cassette

training wheels:
front easton vista sl
rear Felt TTR2
gatorskins tires (new in Jan)
includes three brand new spare tubes
however many cartridges I find laying around for 650.

Felt 3:1 carbon
Wearing red bar tape and the saddle that is included.
Cockpit has been upgraded.

I can include a set of 1 year old Shimano 105 pedals that are scratched but totally serviceable.  I will also include the red bottle cage.  It will be professionally packed and shipped from the bike shop.  Zipps and a few accessories will ship from a different location.  Price includes shipping for all items and pay pal fees.

This bike has been cared for every step of the way and is in amazing condition.  It is set up with everything you need to train and race successfully.

HERE is a review of this bike for this year.

Total package: $3500 shipped CON US.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Most Essential Element

When I wrote up the weekend's race report, I didn't touch upon one significant point.  This was my first Olympic Distance.  I completed it which is what I set out to do.  The win really was gravy.

Last year, I spent the first 2/3 of the year pulling myself out of a deep fitness and injury hole that I had dug the previous year.  I did not see my first triathlon of the season until August and within 6 weeks, I had completely unraveled.  I completed the first race (a sprint) as planned, downgraded the second race from Olympic to sprint, then DNS my next three races.  Two sprints, one TT, and two 5Ks were all I managed for the year.

Going into this race, I had the recollection of downgrading or DNSing the last four Olympic Distance races I entered (and one other DNS from 2010).  I had been trying to do this distance for so long and each time, I had failed to make it to the starting line.  Each failure built up a stigma in my mind, making this distance (and all longer distances) seem absolutely impossible.

Shoehorning a race into the middle of a braiding week is always tricky.  I have never attempted a major race while braiding and only attempted a few minor races over the years (a 5K in 2009- my first, a 5K in 2010, a 4mi TT and a 5K in 2011).  Doing this meant that the day before the race I would go for 29 hours with nothing but a 2 hour nap and the day of the race would be a 24 hour event, with only one chance at sleep between the two.  As the race got closer, the little details like hotel reservations, wet suit rentals, shifting action on the bike all started to unravel.  I was genuinely worried that I would have another failed attempt at this distance.

The last few days before the race, all I was doing was running like mad to put out all the little fires that were cropping up.  This trend continued right into the race and all the way to the finish.... and beyond.  In retrospect, it may have helped.  By the time I got to the race, I felt like I was so far from prepared that there was nothing left to do but put my head down and push through.  So I did.

And guess what?  The finish line showed up right on schedule.

All the stigma surrounding the distance is now gone AND I proved to myself that I can get it done even when it seems like every detail has fallen apart.  Going forward, racing can be a more natural element of my crazy life.  That's good because as fast as my situation changes, survival and success are ultimately dependent on one critical quality.... Adaptability.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Which Way Did He Go, George? - a race report

THIS was the theme of the day.

Today I did my first olympic distance tri.  I struggled with this race from start to finish.  Honestly, I struggled with this race starting the day before and will still be struggling with it all night on my ladder.

I worked Thursday night, getting off Friday morning.  I took a two and a half hour nap and got up to head three hours north to Orlando.  I was pretty much exhausted and running on fumes when I got there.  Before I left, I double checked my hotel reservation and found out they had lost it.  With a fair amount of negotiating, I managed to get the pre-paid reservation sorted out (or so I thought).  I picked up the bike from the shop where it had gotten some much needed love and headed out.  But I got there without further incident, picked up my pack with time to spare.

There was a quick conversation with DD about the temps.  It was predicted to be 48 in the morning and I have very little cold weather gear. It was decided that I should wear my windbreaker on the bike, socks, and gloves, plus tape over the vents in my aero helmet.  I headed to walmart to pick up a few supplies.. gloves in particular, then on to the venue to check out the course.  Packet pickup was an hour from the venue and the hotel was on the way.  Something told me to go check in first, so I did.

Never forget to match your nails to your bike.

At Walmart, I hit a wall... no pun intended.  I hadn't eaten and my lack of sleep was catching up to me.  In the space of a few minutes, I was crashing.  BADLY.  I figured I could eat at the hotel before I headed over to the venue.  I also snacked a bit in the car.  I got to the hotel and of course, reservation issues again.  By the time that got sorted out, it was after 8 pm and I was totally cooked.  The venue was still over an hour round trip with traffic and I realized I wasn't going to make it.  Adam, who is also trained by DD agreed to fill me in since he was there checking at the time.  I realized I was going to have to just wing it.  I decided I was OK with that.
Adam to the rescue.
I'll miss knowing someone at the races.
This is the last race before we both head home from Florida.

Morning of the race, the temps were bad but a couple of degrees warmer than projected.  The water was 68* and I immediately relaxed.  A couple of the spring fed pools in Austin are 68* and I have swum in them many times and this time I had a wetsuit.  I warmed up a bit in the water and then waited while the men's wave went off.  The sun was glaring off the water so visibility to the first buoy was terrible.  Also, the water wasn't dark... it was black.  You couldn't see your own arm.
Goofy pre-race mirror shot.  I was COLD!!

While I waited the three minutes, during which time my goggles fogged up over and over and over.  I cleared them the last time in the last five seconds before the start and they managed to fog over again before the gun.  The first time I sighted into the sun with my foggy goggles, I knew I was screwed.  I wasn't vision impaired.  I was totally blind.  I couldn't see the first wave, the buoy, the swimmer next to me.  I ended up having to tread water several times in the first few hundred yards and clear my goggles.  That got me to the first turn.

After that, I don't quite know what happened.  Between poor visibility and being largely alone in the water, I got totally disoriented.  I ended up WAAAAAY off course.  After the race someone told me that they saw this one person swim all the way off into the middle of the lake.  She looked at my face and said "OH! That was YOU!"


Once I corrected, I must have been swimming halfway well because I caught the men's wave before the second buoy.  After that, I was fine.  I had swimmers around me and I stayed on course for the second loop.

There was a really long sand run to T1.  That went fine except that I might have missed the chute into T1.  There were no excuses there.  Just tunnel vision.

After a painfully slow transition with jackets and socks and stuff, I headed off on the bike wet, cold, demoralized.  I had a tough time getting warm and getting my legs to come to the party.  The first loop of the bike course was far under what I normally produce in a ride.  I didn't see the turn off for the bike finish the first time around so I was hyper aware coming through the second time.  All of a sudden I pass a dude... for the third time.  Then I realized that I was doing the loop designated only for loop one... again.  I had somehow managed to miss the turn off.  I shouted to the volunteer "where is the finish?"  Actually I shouted that to four different volunteers at four different intersections.  Three said they had no idea, the fourth said "I don't know.  Back there somewhere."  My brain exploded.  I almost cried I was so frustrated.  I considered retiring if I couldn't find my way off that course.  I can't even tell you how many thoughts went through my head but one thing I did was funnel it all into my legs.  If I was stuck doing a third loop, it was going to be a fast one.  Fortunately, the course turned back on itself and I got myself sorted out.  I really don't know what went wrong or how I got back, but suddenly I was back on course where I started and headed for the finish.

T2 went fine and before I knew it, I was out on the run.  I was actually relieved that I was out on the run which is a first for me.  My legs felt good in spite of what ended up being a strong effort on the bike and I was able to let all the stress go.  I was almost home.  I was going to do this!  In about five minutes, my feet went numb.  After that, every step felt like I was getting hit with a hammer.  Not too long after that, my foot cramped and then later my calf.  I was not far into this run and I was in a lot of pain.  The pain built slowly throughout the run and the only thing I could do with my brain was shut it down.  I cleared my mind, blotted out the pain, focused only on keeping my back straight and my cadence high.

About 2/3 of the way through, I was battling some serious demons.  I knew that I was not going to die.  I was pretty sure I was not even injured.  It was just pain.  I dug in and kept doing.  I separated the battle in my brain from the rhythm of my feet.  No matter what I was thinking, I kept that cadence up, kept that back straight.  I finished the run totally spent.  I also finished the run in a pace only slightly slower than the open 5K PR I set last summer and faster than any other tri run before.  I hit and exceeded my pace goals.

There was, however, a brief moment when I thought I had gotten off course.... again... but I hadn't.

I also did not give up.  That was the biggest part.  A year ago, I would have rationalized giving up and backing waaaay off.  I didn't do that and it paid off.  I was really, really pleased.  I found the grit and tenacity that has been missing in some of my races.  I was proud of that more than anything.

I have had a lot of races where I felt like I didn't quite give all I had.  This was not one of them.  If the way I was hobbling around was an indicator, I got all the way to the bottom of the tank.

I figured I was out of the running for awards so I was on the massage table when my age group was announced.  Ooops.  Guess what?  My first Olympic distance was also my first trip to the top of the podium.  I won.  After all of that, I won.
Wow.  Add the podium and we are the same height.
Woman in third no-showed for awards.

I headed back to transition to pick up my stuff and found out that the race wasn't quite done with me.  My entire transition area was crawling with fire ants.  Ugh!!  I asked if anyone had ant spray.  Nope.  We shook everything out and I made sure I loaded the gear in the far rear of the Expedition.  I headed off, taking a few of Moss Park's finest with me.

I was back in time for a shower and a nap.  Too bad I couldn't sleep.  I chugged some coffee and headed back to Wellington.  I stopped at one of the travel centers and when I got out of the car, I was walking like a centenarian.  I was privately delighted that I could barely make it to the bathroom.  I did what I have so often failed to do.  I left it ALL out on course.

Of course, the downside is that I still haven't slept and I will be spending tonight braiding.  I will be thinking about that race with each step up and down.  I think the race is not quite done with me yet.
A little hint of gold.  Betcha it won't pass a bite test.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Response To The Alcatraz Swim Death

I am sure many of you have heard about the death at the Escape To Alcatraz triathlon.  It was a 46 year old Austin man.  As a triathlon loving resident of Austin, this hit close to home.  As the organizer of the Austin Area Triathlon Meetup, I felt the need to say SOMETHING to my members.  I said this:

Hello All,

As I am sure many of you already know, there was a death during the swim portion of the Escape From Alcatraz triathlon.  The deceased was Ross Ehlinger, a local Austin attorney, husband and father of three.  This is a terrible tragedy for his family and friends.  My heart goes out to the family in this time of grief.

It is also a very sad day for the Austin triathlon community and for the triathlon world in general.  Some of you may have even known Mr. Ehlinger personally.  While it appears that his death was due to natural causes, the frequency of triathlon deaths, 26 in the last two years, is enough to leave many people questioning the safety of the sport.  Triathlon is, without a doubt, a physically challenging sport.  The swim portion carries with it certain inherent risk.  Becoming distressed during a swim leaves a person vulnerable to drowning.  There has been a call for action from race directors, coaches, and athletes from some notable names in the sport.  Here is a link to one such editorial.

Each of you, as athletes, can make sure you are as prepared as possible for the swim portion of your race.  Training in open water, training in similar temperatures, getting a properly fitted wetsuit and training in it, proper pre-race warm up, even cardiac screenings prior to undertaking major physical activity are all steps that you can take to protect yourselves.  As the organizer of the group, I will be making every attempt to offer open water swimming meetups and clinics as frequently as possible.  If you do not participate in these, please find similar events somewhere.

In our own way, each of us is a steward of the sport and as someone who loves it, who has used it to reclaim her life, her confidence, and her health, I cannot stand to see people turning away because they fear the swim portion.  We cannot make this, or life, absolutely safe... nor should we try... but if we can reduce the risk through proper preparation and education, then there is a responsibility to do so.

If I find out any further information, I will pass it along.  Stay safe, train hard, be well.


Here is a video clip of the swim conditions.

This combined with a reported water temperature of 51 degrees make for challenging conditions.  This is what I, and most, would consider an "advanced" race even though it is not iron distance.  Even still, a mass start- even a wave start- in open water can become dangerous for unprepared swimmers.

I recently spoke to my aunt, who had decided to give triathlon a try but did not have any strong swimming background or open water experience.  I cautioned her about the potential problems and told her that while it was absolutely an attainable goal, it should not be undertaken without some measure of training or preparation.  Initially I felt a little guilty for taking such a cautionary tone.  After this, I am glad I rained on her parade just a little.

Aside from the possibility for undesirable water conditions, there is the confusion of a mass start.  Even a wave start can get messy if the waves are large.  Then there are the things that we cannot foresee.  As we age, our bodies can hide a variety of conditions that can make themselves known at the most inopportune times.  Comfort, fitness, and preparedness are the only line of defense the athlete has.  The price of failure is drowning.

If you are new to the sport or know someone who is, please prepare for the swim (and get a few bike handling skills) if you do nothing else.  If you are unprepared for the bike or run, you will go slowly or at worst, not finish.  A few swim lessons focused on open water skills or some sessions with your local club will prove invaluable.  None of us are really ducks even if we kind of run that way.

Stay safe, train hard, be well.