Sunday, April 26, 2015

I Drank What?

At 5:15AM, my alarm chimed the "Signal."  The signal it was time to rise and shine, eat breakfast, finish packing the bags, wake the kids, load the bike, and head out to Beaver Dam Lake for my first Olympic Distance Triathlon.  We didn't have to leave until 7AM - oh the joy of having a local race that didn't start until 8:30!!  This is hardly the norm for triathlons.  The weather was cool that morning, and rain was in the forecast for noon.

We arrived without incident on-time and I was excited about using my new Tyr transition for the first time.  It could have held even more - but it had my wetsuit, towels, running shoes, bike shoes, socks, sunglasses, helmet, timing chip, watch, nutrition and four water bottles.  Incredible!  I love it.  I set-up my area and started to wander around a bit.

I was saving my ripe banana to eat around fifteen minutes before the swim.  One of the "learn by doing" aspects of triathlon is nutrition - and I knew it was going to be important in this longer distance race.  I had over-hydrated (and probably had too much salt at dinner) before the Tobacco Road Half-Marathon, and I didn't want to make that mistake again on a course where I would be out for even longer. 

One negative aspect of race starting when it's plenty bright outside - you can see everything in the porta-john.  Not. Fun.  Quickly did my business and ran out, gasping for air and stabbing at my eyes to erase the memory.  Gathered my wetsuit, swimcap and goggles and headed down to the water.  Eeek!  Most people were already in their wetsuits, and it takes me about 10 minutes to get into mine!

I ate my banana while jogging toward the park restroom area.  Managed to get into my wetsuit where I was suddenly worried about my timing chip.  Does it go inside?  Will the timing mat pick up the sensor if it's inside my wetsuit?  What about my watch?  Do I take it off at the end, so I can remove my wetsuit?  CRAP.

Ultimately, I pulled up my wetsuit over the timing chip and did the same for my watch.  Time to line up and get in the water.  Thankfully, they let us stand in the water before our wave.  I was able to dip my goggles, lick them, and air them out a bit - as well as put my face in the water and made sure nothing was loose or awry with the wetsuit or goggles.  All was good.  "Go!"

I patiently let the crowd of women surge ahead, then started out on my swim.  The water was cold, but comfortable in the wetsuit.  No waves - overcast sky - hello, beautiful swim.  I have really been falling in love with the lake now that I am in a wetsuit.  Kept a steady pace, noticed most women swimming off to the right.  "Huh - don't they know they're going off to the right?"  And I continued to swim toward the orange turn buoy, with the yellow sight buoy straight ahead.

There's a saying about jerks.  If you encounter one jerk during your day, you encountered a jerk.  If you encounter many jerks - you're the jerk.

I was the jerk.  I soon realized that I was sighting to the second turn orange buoy, and the first turn had been hidden behind the yellow sight buoy!  I corrected easily enough.  Things went on without any real issues until... the speed boat.

GROSS ALERT:  I was headed back around on the long stretch back when I saw a boat speeding by - I assume to help someone.  I braced myself for a large wake because the boat was HAULING.  I didn't get one, and was surprised by that.  I should have waited longer because it sure came.  This slow and easy rising and falling that promptly made my oatmeal come up to my throat and there was no turning back.  I lost a bit of breakfast.  Gross.  Then I needed to clear my throat - which is easy enough to do while swimming.  But I wasn't expecting there to be residual stuff AND phlegm from this stupid cold I've had.  And so... a long line of disgusting phlegm was hanging from my mouth, as though someone glued a piece of yarn to the side of my mouth.  It would NOT go away.  So, I breathed on my right for about three-minutes until it finally detached.

I knew going into this I was going to be one of the last people coming out of the water, and I was - I looked at my watch and it said "48:23" - under my goal time.  I stumbled out of the water, saw my family and smiled, tried to run and just decided to walk.  As I pulled my sleeves down, I hit a button on my watch and COULD NOT figure out how to get it out of the menu screen.  What. The. Heck.  So, I just started a new multi-sport all together and got it ready for the ride.

Swim Time:  00:50:58
T1:  00:04:27

The ride itself was fine.  I'm very familiar with those roads, and they're very manageable.  I saw a woman walking her bike at mile 10.  She looked very beat-up - I called out "are you ok?" and she nodded and kept walking.  She was headed in the other direction - so clearly she had probably been one of the top athletes.  When I came to the turn-around, I asked the people to please call SAG because a woman was walking her bike.  I came upon her AGAIN and she was still walking.  This made me very disappointed in the race organizers.  I stopped my bike and asked her what happened.  She appeared to be alright, definitely banged up, but her helmet was intact, no bleeding from her face.  She said her knee hurt too badly to try to ride.  I asked if she wanted me to stay - told her that I had requested SAG for her - and she said, "They're supposed to be on their way, but it's been like thirty minutes.  Just go on, though."

I came to NC-50 for the last few miles, and I felt great.  I was planning on really kicking it up the rest of the way in on the easy rollers on Creedmoor.  Instead, there was a slower cyclist with a police car following her - and the officer was not allowing anyone to pass her.  Cars passed me, which preventing me from attempting to pass everyone.  So, instead of the chance to really fly - I was stuck going about 12 mph while this sheriff played "Eye of the Tiger" for his lady friend.  That annoyed me, substantially, not to mention I was already aggravated because SAG hadn't helped that woman.

I finally passed the "Eye of the Tiger" woman as soon as we entered the park.  The bike is the ONE place I can make up for being slow in the swim and the run.  I really needed the extra boost.  Oh well.  As soon as I entered the dismount area, I immediately asked about the woman who had crashed and if SAG had picked her up, they assured me yes.  And THEN I smiled at my family. :-)

On the ride, I drank about 3/4 bottle of Infinit "Go Far" and 3/4 of a Cliff bar.  I don't drink often enough, now that I have aero bars.

Bike Time:  1:30:41
T2:  00:01:31 <<---- I got first place in my category for *something* LOL

The run.  Oh, the run.  Really not much to say.  I thought quite a bit about Andrea Peet, and her mother's race report - where she said "I wondered what real runners thought about during their runs."  So, I guess runners sometimes wonder what runners think about. :D  I just tried to run as often as I could - my goal was to finish the 10K under 1:15.  During the second loop, there were only about ten runners on the course.  Everyone was very positive - really, throughout the whole run. I loved seeing people in my triathlon club who offered high-fives and "good job's," even though I only knew like two of them.  That felt great.  Not to mention the back-of-the-packers have the BEST attitude.  "We are getting it done!" "We are doing it!"  I loved it, I truly felt so thankful to be racing, so thankful that my legs were carrying me.  So very thankful for everything.

I did have intermittent calf cramps during the run.  Drinking sips of course-provided Gatorade helped with that.  I really need to figure out hydration.

I finally saw my family as I approached the finish line!  I threw up my hands into the air and ran it in.  To... no announcers.  No one really at the finish line, at all.  One man said "hey - you did it.  Good job." and smiled.  No one to even take my timing chip.  I saw the box, and took it off and placed it in the right area.  I guess they were doing the awards ceremonies, but it still kind of sucked they didn't have one person to announce the back-of-packers.

Run Time:  1:13:25
Race Time:  3:40:32
166/176 Overall
8/9 40-44 AG

Lots of hugs from my family, and my husband was truly excited for me because I had finished five minutes under my goal time.  Chatted with a few more lovely triathletes and that was it.  I've got a lot of work for Raleigh, but it was a great practice and a wonderful experience overall.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Are You There?

I had a cup of coffee with a lovely friend this morning.  We chatted about business and regular life - and at one point she described a very frustrating period of motherhood during the first two years of her child's life.  She is a working mother, but works from home.  She had previously hired a nanny to help with her daughter while she worked (basically full-time) at her home office.  Her job is one that requires attention to detail (a LOT of math), so she must focus on her tasks.  Her frustration occurred when she always felt like the odd-man out - a few years older than others with little kids (I can relate), worked -!but not in an office.  Was able to sneak away for a play date - but couldn't spend all day at the park and missed out on bonding with the stay-at-home moms.  

I realized that perhaps the biggest thing missing from her life those two years was simply someone who "got it."  Someone to whom she could relate.  Someone she could lean on a bit for support, who wouldn't resent her for some reason or another.  It was very sad to hear that (and also a reminder we never know what people are going through, because though I didn't see her often, she never appeared frustrated or upset those years!).

I think that's what we all need as human beings.  Someone to understand us.

I just found out that friends are enrolling their child in a private school this fall.  Their child is incredibly bright and also very funny, I've always adored this child.  But when I found out about the transfer from public to private - I felt heartbroken.  Heartbroken for them (because I know what it feels like to be worried about your child's education and their experience), and also heartbroken for public schools.  Why oh why can't we get it right - why can't we offer a quality public education for everyone?  Not just for the lucky kids who get into a charter or magnet.  Not just for the wealthy who can afford private.  But for *every*one.  And why isn't it a priority??

So I went here after my coffee and before picking up my kids.

After a small amount of prayer and silent meditation, I didn't have any answers to my questions.  My eyes still brimmed with tears as I left the sanctuary.  They are still filled now.

Right now my kids attend a private preschool.  It's not cheap.  Next year my son will go to a public school with about 40+% on a free/reduced lunch.  Sometimes I think we forget what it's like for young "trouble makers."  Children whose only meal each day will be that free one at school.  Who are being watched by a teenage relative or neighbor.  Whose parent works night shifts.  Children who aren't snuggled at night or at all.  Children who don't have a home of their own, no toys to speak of.  They don't hear "I love you."  Maybe never.

And so they act up.  They desperately want attention.  They might have SPD or some other "not recognized as requiring OT or an IEP," but they do not receive help - and don't have someone at home following up.  They act up, they act out - they get our kids into trouble or scare them.  We, as parents, want to protect our kids so they can learn in an easier environment.  And then what happens?

Those kids keep acting up.  And we walk away from it (because I know I will if my child is completely miserable).  And my heart keeps breaking because I can't find an answer to it all.

Are you there?  Is anyone there for them?  I just don't know anymore.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


I'm not sure how many races I've participated in, but let's say it's around one dozen. A dozen races since the spring of 2013. In all of those races there is one person who comes in first, and then there is everyone else. Some races hand out "Finisher" medals and many races have a number of "First Place Female," "Age Group" award categories and so forth, as well.

I had a series of children's books as a child, and now Alex has been enjoying them. One of the books is about a boy named "Pierre."

Bad kids get eaten by lions

This book both terrified and intrigued me when I was young. I loved the defiant attitude from the boy. (I guess this explains a lot about some of the men I dated before getting married!) But I also loved that the child eventually realized you should care... about some things, at least.

I think I came in first place in a race ONE time when I was about four years old at some church summer camp. I grew up chasing after kids because I wasn't as fast. Honestly? I don't know that it really bothered me. As long as no one was making fun of me, I didn't care.


Triathlon has been such a wonderful experience - I truly think that participating in just one can be life-changing. I've met, both in-person and virtually, scores of women who overcome obstacles to find the finish line. Elite athletes and beginners.  Confident and strong Age-Groupers. The people I train with are generous and kind, infinitely encouraging. They inspire me to keep going. But, the more time I spend in the sport and the more people that I meet, I start to see...

The Competition

This one photo encompasses so much about my life experiences ;-)

Perhaps it's to do with my complete lack of participation in organized sports as a child, but I just don't have it in me. I don't care. I know my swim pace. I don't care. I know my running pace. I don't care. I know my speed on the bike. I don't care. I am never going to win a race - I'm just not going to.

And I don't care. Frankly, The Competition totally turns me off. I don't want to hear it, I don't want to think about it. I don't want to tell you how fast I was, or what place I came in - I don't want to think about that at all.

Isn't that ridiculous? For me, there is a distinct difference between "faster than I was a year ago," and "faster than the other woman I swam by in the lake and has that weird-looking water bottle." And the latter - that aspect of racing doesn't appeal to me at all. Not a drop.

Not everyone is like this in the sport, or even if they are highly competitive with other women - they're kind. But others, I feel like they're constantly comparing/competing with each other and I CANNOT STAND THAT. (For me) I don't know how long I will be involved with triathlon, but ultimately - this might be what ends it for me some day.

There are plenty of other reasons to race, and competing with yourself is necessary. I do think it's mildly amusing that I am turned off by COMPETITION in a RACE. Ha!

I'm a weird person, folks. Very weird. But, I do care about improving. I do care about fundraising and volunteering. I do care about being healthy. I do care about supporting triathlon and fellow athletes (even The Competition). 

A podium finish would be nice someday, but if it doesn't happen...


Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Own Worst Enemy

The wetsuit.  Have you ever seen people in second-skin wetsuits?  Trying one on for the first time is comical.  You tug and pull, fingers stop working, wrists give out.  The end result is something dragging at your crotch and tugging at your shoulders.  "I am supposed to swim in this?" you ask yourself.  No, you didn't put it on correctly.

This describes me attempting to put on wetsuits intermittently over the last few months, preparing myself for the inevitable open water swim practices that awaited me.  Leading up to my swims at Raleigh 70.3 and Steelhead 70.3.

I was not excited.

Putting on full-sleeve wetsuit last night.

I read on Facebook that a few hardcore people were going to Beaverdam Lake today to test out water temperatures.  Something in my heart said "you need to go, if nothing else, just to splash in the water in a wetsuit."

I sent a message to my new triathlon coach and told him my wetsuit worries.  When I said I had a full wetsuit and booties, he said, "oh, you'll be really
comfortable.  Go check it out.  And make sure you put your face in the water to relax."

What the what?!? Is this man crazy?  Putting my face in water to relax?

I freaked out.  

We had a lovely Easter brunch as a family.  Came home and dyed eggs.  I talked with Alex about Jesus and His message.  Then it was time to head to the lake.  On the way there, I strongly considered pulling out of my half iron races.  I just couldn't do this, I said.  I was visibly shaking.  I'll fundraise in another way, I told Derek.  


I followed the YouTube directions to get on my wetsuit - and like magic, it pulled all the way up in the legs.  Pulled on my booties.  Grabbed my noodle and headed down to the water.

   Okee dokee

I began to walk into the water.  Wow!  This isn't that cold!  This isn't that bad at all!  Coach was right!

   Then I put my non-neoprene-covered hands in the water.  Mother. Of. Thor.

Well.  Is this enough, I wondered?  Ok - it fits!  I'm done, right?  Those other guys are across the lake - they didn't even know I was swimming.  So, I'm done.  Right?

But then my husband waved from the shore and said, "well?  Go! Go on!"

I pulled my goggles down.  And I thought about Andrea.  I thought about Jon Blais.  They both did this for the first time, too.  I know Andrea would give anything to do it now.  And I know Jon's parents would give anything to see him do it today.

So I did it.  I swam.

I swam about 3/4 of the way across and swam back.  I met up with the guys finishing their longer swim and chatted.  And then I swam again.  I did it again!

It was amazingly comfortable.  I felt a little anxious and felt like I was getting out of breath easily.  The wetsuit was very warm, and though my face and hands were cold at first, it never bothered me.  (I drag a pool noodle as a floatation device in case I freak out.)

Today I really learned the scariest of scary things (to ME) is scary, to be sure.  But when the actual obstacle is your own self-doubt, you just have to actually dive in.  And do it.  

Don't let your own self-doubt or self-loathing hold you back.  Not ever. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I Did It MY Way

We often read about "villages" and "tribes."  People post pictures of themselves on social media on group runs and rides.  Combined vacations on spring break.

    Just us.

So, what if it's just you?

I have a personal pace at which I swim/bike/run.  Unless I literally get pulled off the course at Raleigh IM70.3, I will be what they call a "back-of-the-pack-er."  I can't hang with too many group rides right now, weight gain/inconsistent training has slowed me down on the bike.  I've struggled with nutritional choices as my metabolism changes in my pre-menopause years.  I don't run without walk breaks very often - certainly not for long runs (I am actually fine with that, because I no longer have shin pain - that's another story).

What does this mean for training?  It means that sometimes people shut you out.  They don't tell you about group rides or runs, they don't want to be slowed down.  That honestly stinks.  I would much rather be told, we are going for a ride at 17mph.  If you don't mind riding alone at a slower pace, join us.  I try to be mindful of this with other athletes when I make plans, and I always will be.  As I become more involved with my triathlon club, I hope to offer slower-pace rides for those of us who aren't 19mph, but aren't 10mph, either.

It can really mess with me, especially at times I am already feeling self-conscious.  I took "before" pictures for my 21-day-fix eating plan that I am trying to follow. 

      I can swim 1.2 miles.
  And a few weeks ago, I ran 13.1 miles.

That's me.  I would like to point out that Lycra is a friend, because here is another picture of me, two days prior.

  The tri-club kit. And thank LAWD for Lycra. :D

But the "before" picture me - that's what I feel like sometimes when I don't fit into training groups - someone who probably doesn't "look" the part of being an athlete.  When I drive my Kia Minivan somewhere from our tract house without fancy decorations inside or out.  When I wear 12-year-old jeans and my husband's Cubs t-shirt around town.  I am not a fancy person, I never have been - but so, so, so many other people are - or at least want to give that impression.  I don't think they want to hang with a woman whose hair looks like this at the moment. :D

Originally - it was to entertain Mads, then I realized - hey, this is actually keeping my hair out of my face. :D

But more power to them.  They can do it their way, and I can do it mine.

At the end of the day, I put two happy kids to sleep in their beds.  I kiss a wonderful man goodnight.  I feel the love from my family, even though they aren't with me.  I feel the kindness from the handful of *good* friends that I have.  I have my faith.  And I have my pace.

  It's a great way to spend seven hours.

Those things really are more important than a village or a tribe.  Believing in yourself really is a difficult thing, but only you can do it.  So, do it YOUR way.  (And thank the inventors of Lycra along the way!)