Saturday, May 31, 2008

Fashion Goddess

I'm completely unfashionable. When I go to work I dress in corduroy jeans, a white shirt and clogs. Everyday. I wear my hair in a ponytail, no makeup, and the same silver hoop earrings. Everyday. On the weekends I wear jeans and one of two cotton Old Navy jerseys that I got for $6 each two years ago, and old running shoes. I have one big, thick green down coat for the winter, and my Boston Marathon wind jacket for spring and fall. That's pretty much it. That's my wardrobe.

When I go to the city to have dinner with my chic friends from college, I feel like an incredible fashion loser. To these events I usually dress up my cords and white shirt with a belt. I still wear the clogs. My friends are ultra hip. These days they are wearing stilettos and wicked hip expensive jeans (I'm such a fashion loser I don't even know the brands), tight tops that are still somehow classy, gorgeous long, interesting coats usually made of some expensive fabric or fur, and jewelry that costs a lot and is very sparkley and was given for some anniversary. (Long ago I made it clear to the hub. that I never wanted jewelry as a gift. If getting me a present get something like a bike, or new running shoes or how about a power tap?) My friends are always manicured--with perfect toes and hands, eyebrows, hair-- My toenails are bent and crumpled because of they consistently slam into the toebox of my running shoes, and my fingernails are ripped and short.

Anyway, what is the point of this lament?

I guess I'm feeling a bit LONELY. I don't care about purses, jewelry, hip jeans, push-up bras, window dressings, the right furniture, the right house, the right counter tops, the right car, the right restaurants where "foodies" eat, the right wine etc. etc. etc. I seem to be having trouble talking to most women my age, because I just could give a fuck about these things. That's not to say I don't like a nice pedicure or facial, or that I don't like dressing up and feeling pretty. I just don't care enough to actually put in any effort.

However, I am the queen of fashion when it comes to sport. Well, maybe not the queen. I don't have a hip, pink bike, or really cool Splish suits to wear in races (like Bree Wee). But if I'm going to splurge and go shopping, I always shop for new workout clothes or workout equipment. For example, I just got the cutest little Sugoi racing shorts that I'm so psyched to try out. I also just got a black Craft top that is very hot, and a pretty aqua blue Terry top for biking. I have really nice running bras, socks, running skirts, cute Nike Tops, and a new pair of running shoes every three months. I have eight different swimsuits--all very funky and with bathing caps and goggles to match, and I've been drooling over wetsuits lately (not as enamored with my Zoot one as I was last season) etc. etc. blah blah you get the picture.

But who wants to talk about all that at book club? Who wants to talk bikes and races and workouts and training and cool, new, hip tri clothing?

No one.

NO ONE. At book club we talk about WINDOW DRESSINGS. or TREATMENTS, I guess they're now called. If I'm lucky we might talk about the book we were supposed to read. If I'm lucky.

Also on my mind: Don't you hate it when you don't feel like you've been doing that much, but your body is acting like you've just completed an Ironman? I'm in the build phase, but my weekly hours have only been reaching between 12-14 hours a week for the most part, and my workouts are strenuous, but followed up with recovery drink and recovery rides/runs, and time--and furthermore they (my workouts) are not THAT hard. But my body is freaking out. I'm tired, I'm sore, I'm grumpy, my glands are swollen and any food I consume makes a beeline through me and out of me so fast I have to run to the bathroom before I even finish a meal.

And no, I don't have a virus. This is what my body does when it's trying to tell me to cool it, when it's trying to tell me, YOU AREN'T SOME SPRING CHICKEN, Mary. Get a grip and take a day off!

Sigh. Shut up, body. Just shut up. How am I going to become a superstar tri girl if you don't let me work out more than 14 hours a week?

I did have a great run this morning. It started off on the lame side because I had a bowl of cereal with milk 15 minutes before I began (bad, bad idea--milk. not good.) After about three miles, though, I was feeling okay. My legs felt strong on the hills and I kept imagining myself winning Kona against Chrissie Wellington. Very fun. My last four miles I did at more of a tempo pace. It felt good.

I have been checking out the competition for the Mooseman Oly (or International, I guess. Is there a difference?) I'm doing next weekend. It appears that every fast 35-39 year old in New England (and some outside of New England) decided to sign up for it this year. I will have to be secretly inhabiting the body of Sam McGlone if I want to place. Oh well. Actually, though, I feel a little relieved. I plan to kick ass--but you know, kick ass FOR ME. Hopefully that will translate into finishing well among these crazy fast women, but I don't necessarily expect it to.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

First Open Water Swim of the Season

On Monday afternoon my friend Petra and I headed out to Farm Pond in Sherborn for our first open water swim of the season. Actually, it wasn't Petra's first. She was recently down in Florida competing in the Orlando 70.3 in prep for Ironman Austria, coming up in a month and a half. But it was MY first open water swim, and her first NEW ENGLAND open water swim. Petra's husband dropped us off because you can't park there unless you have a membership to the beach, which we don't. Thanks, Mike! We donned our wetsuits and slipped into the icy water. A wet suit keeps you toasty, of course, so we were fine. When I actually dove in, though, the taste, smell, darkness and cold of the water shocked me. I began to swim and I was immediately out of breath. The cold water trickled into my suit and I cringed. I had forgotten how it feels--how the sun reflects off of everything and can easily make you dizzy when you sight, how the wet suit is so tight on your shoulders, and how it buoys your legs up so high that you almost kick in the air. It's so different than swimming in the pool. We swam out to the middle of the lake, and then paused to tread water. We'd been swimming for seven minutes and I was already totally exhausted! I took a deep breath and soldiered on. Sailboats and a few rowboats dotted the lake, and we quickly decided that going around the perimeter made sense so we could stay safe. I actually don't like swimming on the edge. I don't like to see the bottom with its leaves and debris and fish and tree branches. But it is safer. I really didn't want to get hit by a boat. That would kinda suck. The day was windy and the lake was rough. I kept swallowing water and having to stop and cough. Blek! Still, though, every once in awhile we'd stop and just look around for a moment and I was so happy. We were out in the water! Summer is coming! We swam for about an hour and then finally headed in. I love that tired feeling you get after being out in the open water. It's better than pool tired. I don't know why--it just is. ______________ Today I had a hard bike workout and then a transition run. I really wasn't in the mood for it. I got home from work and really wanted to crawl into bed for a nap. I had 1.5 hours until I had to pick up the kids, and it would be so nice... but I didn't. The workout is three sets of 10 minutes at high power and a low cadence, each separated by 10 minutes of spinning recovery. I keep thinking I will suddenly become stronger and be able to sustain a higher power for these intervals, but I seem to be stuck at 175 watts. Today I did manage to do the last one at 180, but I really, really had to work it and my cadence slipped below 60 rpm--which it's not supposed to if I'm in control! I started my transition run at a moderate pace, but I soon began to recover from the bike and I picked up the pace. The thing is, for the first time this whole season I actually felt really strong during the run. Not really fast--though I was doing sub-8's which is fast for me--but strong. My legs felt packed. Do you know what I mean? I just felt like I wasn't flimsy--that I was made of something thick and beefy, and that I could pick up the pace infinitely if I had to. Of course, my heart rate began to creep up, and I knew that I shouldn't move into full hammer. No need to shatter myself for the week because I wanted to slam a transition run on a Tuesday. Still, I was pleased. The feeling has stayed with me. I am strong.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Whoa, I'm Tired: Gilio 5K Race Report and Other Stuff

Yes, I know it's very green. I got sick of the blue.

I ran a 5k yesterday. I wasn't supposed to according to the plan, but I always knew I would end up running it. The road race is put on by one of my good friends in honor of his parents. It is also a major club event for the Greater Norwood Running Club. Despite all of my focus on triathlon, all my closest friends are runners, and we founded this club together. No way could I miss this event. It would have been wrong. Plus, I didn't want to miss it. I wanted to get caught up with all of my friends!

I figured I would run it easy--try to make my splits even and use it as a tempo in the middle of my long run.

The problem is, I can't really run races easy. I just can't. I get into the race, and well, even if I hold back a little, I still race. Give me a number and I'm off like a shot.

I got up early enough to run for an hour before the race. I then checked in and got my number, changed out of my wet clothing and chit chatted with everyone there. I wanted to make it clear to everyone that I wasn't REALLY RACING and that my warm-up lasted AN HOUR. But that made me feel super lame. So I shut up. I did say that I shouldn't run fast--that it wasn't in the plan.

I was so busy blabbing to my running friends that I didn't even notice that the race director was getting ready to say "go." I wasn't even close to the starting line! I just heard a "go!" and then, with an alarmed little leap, I began to run. I tried to stay calm and not charge forward like everyone around me. Slow and steady, I kept repeating to myself. Even splits. Slow and Steady.

Yep. Didn't work. I saw Maureen, one of my teammates, up ahead and I started pounding. Then I slowed. Then I sped up. Then I slowed. It was kind of a disaster.

I went through the first mile in 6:55. I was hoping to do about a 7:10 pace, so that wasn't too far off. Plus, the first mile is downhill. I finally got into a rhythm and just ran. The course is an up and back thing, and soon I started to see my fastest friends coming back in the other direction. I cheered on each friend as they passed by, which let me know that I definitely wasn't work too too hard.... My friend Zac stormed by first, a good minute ahead of the next guy. Then Don and Jeff and and and... you get the picture. My friend Maureen passed and I noted she was the third woman. Where did that put me I wondered? Just ahead of Maureen was a tiny, tiny woman with a Bay State triathlon singlet on. I made a mental note to talk to her after the race and find out who she was. Competition alert!

The last mile of this race is a steady uphill. I actually really dislike the course. (no offense, Mike!) That last mile just kills me every time. I had gone 6:55 and 6:58, but I knew I was trudging up that hill. Also, my heartrate went up higher than I wanted it to, so I tried to force myself to STOP RACING and just slow down. Of course it didn't work and I still raced. I heard someone panting behind me, and what if it was another woman?

I hit the third mile split: 7:05. not so bad. I sprinted in the last .1 and that was that. The course is 3.15--not 3.1--and that .05 counts, Mike! Shorten that baby up! I got a 21:50, which on my watch was a 6:59, pace, but according to them was a 7:03. Whatever. grrr. Cause I'm not racing, right? So why should I care? ha ha.

I warmed down for 20 minutes to finish up the "long" run. I went to see if I placed at all. I love Mike because he doesn't believe in double dipping. I was third in my AG, but I was awarded first, because two of the 35-39 women had placed in the top 3. So I was first in my AG! except that I really was third... :) and I was 5th woman overall. It was a small race, but still, I was happy with my place.

I did chat with that tiny, tiny woman. Her name is Kim. I've seen her name in race results before, actually, so it was fun to meet her. She said she wasn't really a runner. I told her she could've fooled me since she went under 20 and this course is hilly and a smige long! She was nice. Still, I plan to beat her the next time I race her. Of course!

Fun race. I love my running friends. They're the best.


This morning I got up at 5:45 am so I could go for my long, long, oh so very long bike ride. I know that a lot of you (Claire) do like 200 miles a weekend, but for me 65 miles is long, and that's what was on the plan. Actually, 4 hours was on the plan. Same thing. Anyway. It was a gorgeous, gorgeous day. I went the same route as last weekend which takes me through Hopkinton (start of the Boston Marathon for you non-Bostonians) and to Upton. That's just beautiful country out there. Plus, everything smelled so good! I kept getting whiffs of lilac and earth and manure (okay, manure doesn't smell great--but it's that country smell, you know?) It was awesome. When I got to Upton and went through its "center" people where just entering church-- a large Congregational church framed by trees and a graveyard. It was just so New England Americana. Loved it.

When I got home from the ride it was mid-morning and I had to go on my run. I was spent. I hadn't gone that fast (only 16.3 average mph) but I was just so beat. (Could it be that race? oops.) Anyway, I got out on the run and I felt like I was running in place, like I always do on my transition runs. I picked up the pace and began to feel good. Then I looked at my watch and my heartrate was through the roof! And I was doing 7:30 miles! oops. I dialed it back a bit, and finished up. I just went five, but it was a long five. I really felt it. I was even a bit lightheaded when I finally got inside.

When I came inside the kids where watching Charlie Brown's Christmas. Umm--hello! It's Memorial Day weekend! Then I noticed their "city." It was awesome! They leaped off the coach to show it to me. I took a picture. They're very proud. Apparently they had worked on it all morning while I was out.

After a quick shower I crawled upstairs and took a quick snooze with Linus (one of my two pooches). He's smelly and old, but he really knows how to nap. My kids came up 10 minutes later wanting to know if they could go outside and would I push them in the swing? Argh. The hub. had been on duty all morning, so there was no way out. I tried to convince them we should all take a nap together... but that didn't fly. Oh well!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I haven't yet shared the acrostic poem Jordan (age 6) wrote for me for Mother's Day.

Must go to the food store
Ofin (often) does the lundre (laundry)
Thotful of us
Helps me with the dishs
Espesholly nice
Really nice

I lose sleep thinking my kids believe I'm an absent mother because I spend so much time thinking about and training for triathlon.

As this poem reveals, however, my worry is slightly misplaced. Apparently I am, in fact, thoughtful and nice. If I am absent it is not a result of training, but because I am busy going to the grocery store, doing laundry and forcing my children to do the dishes.

I feel better. That makes me a pretty typical suburban mom, wouldn't you say? Admit it. Isn't that how you viewed (perhaps still view) your Mom? She is thoughtful of you, very nice, and she spends her whole fucking life doing chores, specifically laundry and grocery shopping, and she was the taskmaster who made you do chores.

I'll have to have her write an acrostic for the hub. for Father's Day. I'll report back as to how the two differ. You can be sureeeeeeeee they will.
I had a great weekend in terms of training. I went on a 61 mile ride (that additional mile is muy importante) that took me out to Upton, which I'm super proud of because Upton is wicked far away. I was psyched to stop a nice couple walking a pug when I got to Upton to ask for directions. I casually mentioned I had come out from Westwood and I wasn't sure how to find blah blah road. They were satisfyingly impressed. "Westwood? How long did it take you to get out here?" they asked. I was very pleased with their incredulity.

I also got in a long run this weekend with my running buddies from GNRC (my running club.) They seriously kicked my ass. I need to run with them more often. They keep me pushing. This wasn't what I wanted when I was doing all zone 1 training, but now that I am allowed to sprinkle in significant zone 2 mileage, I need to begin running with them again.

I have the Mooseman International Tri coming up in three weeks, and because I am obsessed with goals, I'm going to write them for this race. (drum roll, please.....)

1. SWIM: To get with a lead pack on the swim and hang on for dear life. I'd like to go under 22:30 for the swim. I did a 23:45 at the only other Oly I've ever done, but that was an ocean swim. It was a cove, though, so they are similar, right?

2. T1: Get out of my wetsuit without making a complete ass out of myself and getting all dirty with grass and grit. To get out of there under 2:30. That would beat my old Oly record of 2:34.

3. BIKE: I know it's hilly. I'd like to average at least 19.5 mph. That's a real reach, but I think I can do it if it's a perfect day and the wind moves around so it's always at my back. Anoher goal is to smoothly take sips from my Aero bottle. I always have to slow to a crawl, hold the straw and wiggle my lips around to actually get a drink. As you can imagine, this slows me up quite a bit.

4. T2: To dismount without falling. I plan to try NOTHING fancy. I plan to stop. Breathe. Swing my leg over and get off the bike. If I lose time, fuck it. Better that then fall on my ass again.

5. RUN: I'd like to go under 45 minutes. I know it's hilly, but I know I can do this if the conditions are good and I've eaten properly during the ride.

Overall: Place in my age group. This will be very hard, because this race is super competitive (at least in my book it's competitive...) Ange is in my age group, but I'm relying on her to actually PLACE in the top three, so she won't take an AG spot. So go fast, Ange! None of this 4th place overall 1st in your age group stuff! :) I already know there are some super fast Mainers coming down for the race who also happen to be in the 35-39 AG. eek! I'm getting pretty psyched!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Making and Managing Goals

How does one distinguish a goal that's inflated from a goal that's difficult to reach, but, in fact, reasonable and reachable? This is what I have been thinking about all week. Coach Jesse believes that goals can be mathematically determined. One needs to base them on certain measures taken during training and racing. This seems to really work for him and his athletes. For example, he says in an early blog entry just after completing a very fast 10K, that, "Based on my 6-miler performance (5:33 pace), I used the run calculator to back into my 5k equivalent assuming the 10k was considered “flat”. This resulted in a 16:32 5K equivalent on an average course and a half marathon goal for Hyannis of 1:16:54. Assuming I lose another 2 pounds before then I get: 1:16:54*(1-0.0062 X 2 pounds) = ~1:16:00 for a final Hyannis Half goal and a 5:48 pacing strategy using the Garmin right out of the gate. If it does go down this way, I’ll no doubt be in for another PR and on track for my 2008 season goals……" I used that a part of that particular post because you can see how everything is so calculated. There are formulas that when applied reveal the correct goal for your next race--based on real, cold data. Jesse went on to do a 17:04 at Hyannis, which was a PR, I believe, despite that he didn't quite make his 1:16 time goal. But that's actually not relevant to my blathering right now. What I'm really fixated on is that he has a way to calculate a goal for himself, and he then believes that goal is achievable because he believes in his method of calculation. He believes. That is key, I think. You have to believe. The problem I have is that I don't buy cold calculations. I want to--and in a general way they do work--but I can't help but wonder about the intangibles that go into achieving a goal or even simply racing well. Here is a short list of things that cannot be calculated:
  • One's desire
  • One's belief in her ability to complete, endure, and perform
  • The weather
  • One's focus in a race situations
  • One's ability to do deal with the unexpected--e.g. a flat, a bad patch of road, a fall, getting of course on the swim, etc.
  • The effect that no competition or too much competition has on one's psyche
  • How rested or not rested one is going into a competition
  • One's perception of how rested or not rested one is going into competition
  • One's experience racing in general, racing triathlon in particular, and racing a certain distance more particular still
  • and so on.
  • Recently Jesse wrote a race report on the Sudbury Sprint in which we both just competed. In this post he challenged his readers/athletes to be patient with their training. He evidenced his own history as proof that consistency and hard work over years and years really works. The post is very inspirational, so definitely check it out. I commented that some of us are coming late to the game, and have little patience because we are on the down hill portion of our own "life race" (e.g. -- we're facing 40 really soon). He commented back to me as follows:
  • "Mary: And when you are 46, you’ll be faster than you are now with consistent training! We’re patient, we’d be happy to help you get there. That’s the beauty of this sport; when athletes get into it later in life, they can continue to improve even though their age says they should be slowing down. Just ask your teammates: Keith Manning, Maureen Wattley, and John Barrett.
  • BTW…your performance at Sudbury this year was a 7.0% improvement over last year, which tells me a couple of things:
  • 1) You had a larger improvement over one year than any of my performances above.
  • 2) This percentage applied to your Timberman result from last year gives in a 23 minute improvement. This based only on speed potential without accounting for durability improvements, which will be significant for you.
  • Also, you were amazingly well rounded in your splits Sunday, which tells me you are becoming a triathlete. Welcome to the club!"
  • When I read that comment I got teary. No lie. I actually cried. It might be the most encouraging thing anyone has said to me in years. (So if you read this, Jesse, thank you).
  • And I do buy it a little. I buy that I'm better than last year at this time. I buy that I will see improvement in my 1/2 Iron time this summer barring something tragic happening to me on the course. I buy that I will improve every year for many years to come. I buy that I will be more durable come my big race. But I don't buy the number. I don't buy 23 minutes. I'm not saying that I won't PR by 23 minutes in August. I just don't believe that my performance last Sunday indicates I will go 5:02.I want to believe that is what it indicates. But wanting to believe and actually believing are two different things.
  • (I bet you could guess I am an agnostic.)
  • Jesse believes the numbers don't lie. If we were talking about his performance, and not mine, improving by that much would be possible, because HE BELIEVES in the numbers. I, however, can think of a million reasons why it shouldn't be a real goal to chop 23 minutes off my time. The biggest one is that Sudbury Sprint was my first triathlon ever last year. OF COURSE I IMPROVED by 7%. I honestly expected to improve more than that! A month and half later, in early July of last season, I did a the bike leg of a longer race in over 20mph, which is a 7% improvement over what I had done at Sudbury last year. So you see...
  • Okay. Enough of me going on and on. The point is, I don't know how to make realistic goals that are based on something real. I don't know how to make goals that I can and will believe in.
  • How do the rest of you make goals for yourself?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sudbury Sprint: The Race Report

I was awakened at 5:45 by my alarm. It took me thirty seconds to remember I was racing that morning.


Everything was in the car, packed the night before, so I just dressed and left. Kids and the hub were still asleep. They planned to come to
the race just as it was starting. I was pleased that my heart thudding annoyingly in my chest didn't wake them. Why the hell was I so nervous?

I had spent much time the night before choosing my race outfit. I really wanted to represent our team by wearing our uniform, but I also really wanted to be comfortable in the pool. Having a bare stomach in the pool--yuck. Not what I'm used to and not what I like. Finally I decided to wear my bathing suit that has a biking pad fitted into it. It's plain, unattractive and flattens my already small chest to pancake-ish flatness. It's pretty comfortable though, and I'm not particularly squeamish about running and biking it. I was wishing I had one of those suits like Bree Wee has by Splish. They are so colorful and cute. Do they have a bike pad in them? They must, right?

Okay, back to the report. I got coffee on the way and had my usual pre-race egg and cheese on an English muffin. I know it's not the best choice in the QT2 System of Nutritional Know-How, but it's always worked for me so I figured I probably shouldn't change now. Never change things on race morning. That's what they say, and I'm sticking to it.

When I got to the venue I was pleased to find I was early. I'm generally not late, but I'm also rarely early. The lines for packet pick-up and marking were pretty short. Very good. This would leave me time to get unpacked at transition and go for my warm-up.

I got distracted, though. First I found a few of my teammates, Kim (Locked and Loaded) and Maureen. Then I got distracted chit-chatting with everyone I didn't know in transition and secretly putting them into the categories of not a threat , possible threat and definitely a threat. There were two girls who fell immediately into definite threat--code red! One had a Wheelworks Multisport outfit on and was tall, slim, strong, and young. She casually mentioned she had done
Coeur d'Alene last year. Fuck! Add experienced to that list! Begrudgingly, I also had to add nice. She was really nice and very modest. The other definite threat was smaller--almost tiny-- but had a serious game face on and was clearly both experienced and strong. She was pleasant, but focused. After the race I figured out who these two chicks were. (You must scroll to the end to find out.)

There was also an extremely annoying woman setting up in transition who attempted to try to tell all of us how to set up our bikes. She had done this race last year, you see, and had lots of tips for us. We all looked at her like, Do we look like we haven't raced before? But we just nodded. Later I asked Wheelworks Strong and Thin Threat if she had raced here last year. Yes, she answered. Me too, I added. Okay then!

Finally I went to warm up on the bike. I got on the road and saw Kim warming up. "You forgot your helmet!" she screamed. Oh God. Can we scratch that I'm so experienced thing I just said? I must admit it did feel really nice to have the wind in my hair. After retrieving my helmet, I again set out. I did one loop of the bike course. I felt pretty strong. I also felt cold.

After my quick little bike warm-up I stripped down to my bathing suit, immediately started chattering b/c I was so cold, and headed toward the building to warm up for the swim. On my way to the bathroom I found Speedy. Speedy was volunteering at the race, and had agreed to warm down on the run and bike with me. Yeah! I was a little flustered when I saw her, though. I was so cold and felt totally naked in my little suit, and I was starting to realize that I might have missed my opportunity to warm up. We chatted briefly and she promised to cheer me on and take a few pictures, which she did. So now, courtesy of Speedy, I have a few race pics! Thank you, Speedy!

After seeing Speedy I raced to the bathroom and then the pool. Warm up was still going on despite that the 8:00 am start was minutes away. I jumped in. The water was much warmer than what I'm used to, and I swear to God it felt thick. Has anyone ever experienced that feeling? I did a few laps and quickly got annoyed that people were just hanging on the walls as
opposed to warming up. Get out of the pool if you aren't swimming! It was crowded! Anyway. The whistle blew and we got in line according to seed time.

I looked to the front of the line so I could catch a glance at Jarrod Shoemaker (the Olympian) and his wife Alicia Kaye (who the hub now loves due to her oh so lovely bod), who I knew were competing in the race. Then I heard cheering and Shoemaker was off--the top seed of the day!

Here is a picture Speedy gave me of all of us shivering, waiting for our turn to swim. I'm the one with my arms crossed--the short one leaning against the window in the black suit. You can see Wheelworks Strong and Thin standing close to me, talking to the guy in the red cap. I am looking away from them, shivering and freaking out because the race is about to begin.

We watched as Shoemaker and Ethan Brown (another pro) and Alicia Kaye swam smoothly across the water, exiting the pool after 400 yards in like 4 minutes. I watched Jesse (of QT2) begin, his careful and calculated stroke even and smooth. Maureen, my teammate, started soon
after. As they swam I chatted with those seeded just before and after me. The girls in front of me weren't sure if they could do a 5:30 and didn't seem too concerned about it. This worried me. Did this mean they could easily do a 5:30, or did it mean that I would have to pass them--which would slow me up?

Then it was my turn. We were set off 20 seconds apart. Within 125 yards I was touching the toes of the girl in front of me. Damn! And, of course, she wouldn't move. I tried to go straight down the lane to pass her. When I got to the wall, three girls were hanging on to the wall! WTF! I did a
flip turn in their faces, tried to land it so I wasn't pushing off from one of their stomachs, found the wall, pushed, and set off. I wanted to scream. They had slowed me up, made me stop, and made me act like a bitch by blowing over them. Why can't people just be honest and sign up for a time they can really do???

Okay. enough. I was finally able to cruise along. Speedy took a few more pictures. That's me with the black cap swimming on by. I have 1.5 lengths left.
I finished unceremoniously. Clicked the watch. 5:52. Not even close to the 5:25 at hoped for! Damn! As I left I saw my kids and the hub. Yeah! I waved.

T1: I tried to put on arm warmers. It didn't work. I gave up, crammed my feet in my bike shoes and slammed on my helmet and glasses, and prayed I wouldn't freeze to death! Here I am
getting on the bike. Nice wedgie, I know.

It was cold out there. The only thing to do was bike really, really hard to warm up. I shifted into the big ring and began to move. I hauled along for while, all alone.
Then I saw a few bikers ahead of me. I could get them! I began to push harder. First lap down. I could hear a few cries of Go Mary! from Speedy and the hub. and kids.

Here I am going through the first loop. I think I look kind of hunched
up. I think I need to invest in a good fitting. Opinions are welcome.

I continued to move as fast as I could in the second loop. I was proud that I stayed in aero the whole ride. That's unusual for me. I just don't feel safe in aero position. I'm half way through the second loop when it happens. I get passed--by CODE RED Wheelworks Strong and Thin! Fuck! I do my best to catch up to her--but she's gone. rats rats rats. Then, suddenly, a whole throng of riders pass me, all with those silver pointy helmets and scary bikes. They are all men, except, Shit! an undiscovered CODE RED female! She is moving fast and has a fancy tri bathing suit with lettering on the ass. At first I think it's Kaye, but then I realize that would be impossible as she's probably already finished the race. Then I figure it out. Karen Mackin. She's a local elite/pro who coaches an all women's team west of Boston. It must be her. She was moving so fast-- I saw her overtake Wheelworks Strong and Thin in one smooth, fast pass.

Before I know it I'm done. I try to swing my leg over to dismount. Bad move. I fall, my bike on top of me. I wasn't hurt, just a little embarrassed. I recover and begin running to transition. I'm shaking from my unsuccessful dismount, but I manage to pull on my shoes. Wheelworks is right there in transition. I could still get her! Time off the bike: about 21 I think. I missed the split because of the fall. My Garmin said 7.3 miles, average 20.5 mph. Not bad. Not sick--like Ange's split last week--but good.

We're off. Wheelworks is only 200 feet in front of me, but I can tell she's moving faster than me but quite a bit. I try to pick it up but I am wheezing I'm working so hard already. I didn't pull the Garmin off the bike, so I have no idea my pace. I feel like I'm staying in place I'm moving so slowly. I can see Wheelworks slowly gaining ground. Damn!

No one passed me on the run, and I did pass a few guys, so that's good. Wheelworks and speedy silver helmeted Mackin are far ahead now. I round the corner and I can see the kids the hub and Jesse cheering for me and waving me. I cross the line, and briefly contemplate moving to the side so I can hurl.

Speedy finds me and I'll I can say is I might be sick I might be sick. Luckily, I wasn't.

Final run split: 16:30 for 2.3 including T2. I think I did about 6:50 pace if you take out T2.

I am happy.
  • I am happy that am better than I was last year at this time.
  • I am happy that my coach can give a sigh of relief because I PR'd for the first time this year.
  • I am happy about my stats: 2/49 in my AG, 8th woman OA and 37/383 OA in a pretty competitive field.
I am happy, but not satisfied. I can do better. I could've done better yesterday. It's a tricky balance: if you become satisfied, you can become complacent. If you are chronically under-satisfied you can become defeated and depressed. I am not satisfied, but I was reminded yesterday of something really important. Competing in triathlon is really fun. I must remember this as I critique my own performance, assess where I fall short and where I can improve. I must remember that it is fun--the training, the racing, the game that is figuring out how to cut out another minute here or there.

Thanks for reading! And thanks for the pics and the company, Speedy! I was so glad to have you around so I could blab blab blab after the race! Congrats to Jesse (3rd overall), Kim (5th AG--although her age group included the pro, Kaye--not fair!) and Maureen (3rd AG). I also want to say that Jesse's bike split was FASTER than that of Shoemaker, the Olympian!! Amazing!

Finally, Wheelworks Strong and Thin was second in 25-29. She beat me by more than a minute. Game Face Threat was 1st in 30-34. I beat her by 30 seconds. The know it all woman didn't place.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I need to chill

I'm officially obsessed with thinking about this weekend's race. I'm at the point where I need it to just happen so I can stop thinking about it. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE TURN OFF MY MIND! PLEASE! Distracting myself doesn't work well. I jut get irritated because there's a constant buzz in the background whispering, Think about me think about me plan for me plan race race think about me... It's annoying. It's especially irritating because I'm starting to wonder if I'm mentally ill. sigh. Yesterday my daughter (oldest, Jordan) began whining when I told her I wouldn't be there to get her ready for school in the morning because I would be swimming. She said, "Do you have to swim?" and I said, "Yes, I have to swim." She said, "Who told you you had to swim?" And I said, "I did." And she said, "Please talk to yourself and tell yourself that Jordan wants her hair in ponytails and so can you please NOT swim tomorrow morning?" guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt I swam anyway. And the whole time I kept thinking, guilt guilt guilt and then race race race what do I need for the race what do I need to take when can I squeeze in that ride after the race but before guilt guilt guilt I must get home to honor the mother in law on mother's day shit I need a card for my Mom race race race. You can see why I'm beginning to doubt my sanity. If I begin to totally write in gibberish please feel free to call in the white coats.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I'm Getting Very Nervous....

This weekend is my very first race of the season.

I'm feeling rather silly because I am so anxious about it.

It's the shortest race EVER--like a sprint sprint. It's a 400 yard pool swim, a 7 mile bike, and a 2.3 mile run. Doesn't sound intimidating, right? right.

I think I'm so nervous because this race marks my one year anniversary doing triathlon. I did good last year for a total newbie, but now that I'm a little less newbie-ish I have huge expectations as to what I should be able to do.

I remember last year I was finishing the run course when I saw Jesse, Tim and Cait (my now coach) warming down. They, of course, finished like 1 and 2 M and 1 W overall. I didn't know Cait and Tim at that point--I just knew they must be fast because they were warming down with Jesse. And now Cait is my coach. Weird. A lot happens in a year.

The things I'm obsessed with thinking about are all of those little things such as:

  • Will I be able to manage doing a flip turn and smoothly duck under a lane line as I do so? (We aren't in heats. Each swimmer is seeded according to a self-submitted time and you zig-zag up and down the eight lane pool until you have completed all sixteen lengths.)
  • Will I be able to meet the seed time (5:30) I set up for myself? Will some swimmer catch up to me and need to pass me? Will I have to pass a swimmer? (Both of these things happened last year, I'm afraid...)
  • Will I look like a tool in my QT2 outfit? I know I do, but is this an objective truth, or the the thinking of my delusional mind?
  • Will my goggles break?

  • What if I flat? Should I just bag the race or try to fix it? (This could potentially take me longer than the race itself should.)

  • Should I put the Garmin on my bike or try to put it on my wrist in transition after the swim?
etc etc etc.

I'm a snorefest of a blog writer lately. Sorry. Maybe it's because I have become a librarian?
Perhaps I'll be more zesty after the race this weekend?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Librarian: That's Me

I had a stressful week. But it's over now, and I am now a future elementary librarian. I wonder how many librarians complete an Ironman? hmmmm. It began with an interview on Monday, sandwiched in after the work day and before I picked up my kids. It was for a job I knew was going to someone else. Don't you hate that? I knew the deal, but I still had to interview. Everything was perfectly pleasant, but, well, fake. Still, I reasoned, it was practice for the next day, on which I had yet another interview for a different elementary library position. On Tuesday I had to get a sub and leave work early so I could teach a class in front of the interviewing committee at said elementary school. It was interesting transitioning from the smart-mouthed sixth graders who I have been with all year to the little munchkin second graders who entered the library with such enthusiasm and good spirit. It was a welcome contrast, to say the least. The class went well (I thought) and then I interviewed with a few teachers, the principal and the department head of library in the district. It was fine. I hoped I had a chance, but given that I have no experience teaching little people (K-5) and given that I am a teacher and not a librarian and that I have no library certification, I figured my chances were a little on the slim side. To my credit, I did spend three years as a middle school librarian. But honestly, middle school librarianship and elementary librarianship are very different. On Wednesday night I was invited to attend a benefit for MS at which one of my former students was speaking. I taught Carrie nine years ago, but we have stayed in touch. I was flattered to be sitting at a table with her parents and one of her college professors who taught a course Carrie had taken entitled "Living with Illness." Carrie is extraordinary--and was so even as a seventh grader (when I taught her). She was diagnosed with MS when she was 19, and has since then done everything in her power to raise research money to find a cure for MS. In the last three years she has raised close to $200,000 on her own. At any rate, she invited Andy and me to attend, and it was an incredible experience. Touchingly, she mentioned me in her speech, and it brought tears to my eyes. (corny, I know.) This is the thing about teaching--you actually can reach kids in a meaningful way. Some actually do learn from you, remember you and honor you in years to come. It's pretty cool. And as I was sitting there, listening to Carrie and thinking what an extraordinary woman she has become, I thought, what am I doing? Do I really want to leave a profession that allows me to experience moments like this? But then I went home (very late), got up, went to work, and within thirty seconds of being with my little sixth grade people again I thought, Yep. TIME TO GO. So it was with great relief that I was actually offered the library job on Thursday. Phew! At that point I was able to actually start contemplating whether I really wanted the job. It didn't take long to decide it was the best available option for next year, but I had gotten a little used to the idea that I might not work at all, and so readjusting took a bit of time. So, in short, I actually will be working next year (which is, of course, not quite as good as winning the lottery and being able to stay home)--but not in a middle school, not as a classroom teacher, and not full time. (This job is 3.5 days a week. Yeah!) By Friday I was wiped out from the stress of worrying about whether I would be viewed as good enough to get the job, and then the stress of trying to figure out if I should take the job if I did get it. I went to bed at 9:00 p.m. on Friday night. Working out, you say? Well. Yes. I continued to train through this week--but luckily for me it was a recovery week and I didn't have to do much. One highlight of the week came on Saturday when I went for a 2 hour ride with Melissa. The day was drizzly and so cold (we started at about 40 degrees), but the ride was still fun. Each week that I go out I learn something new, though. This weekend I learned that in wet, cold weather you should always where your booties over your biking shoes. Three miles into the ride my feet felt like frozen stumps. It took twenty minutes to thaw them out when I got home! Another highlight of the weekend was that Ange raced for the first time this season and she kicked ass! She was second woman and tenth overall in a competitive field. Go Ange! (You need to check out her race report so you can see her super bloody knees!!! Yes-she was second even though she fell in T2!) I also had fun tracking Bree Wee at St. Croix. She also kicked ass and finished third woman overall. So fun to watch! Bree, you rock! Finally, nine of my QT2 teammates and the QT2 coaches traveled to New Jersey this weekend to compete in the Devilman 1/2 Ironman. Every one of them, including the coaches, PR'd. My coach, Cait, won it for women! The rest of my team did awesome too. I'm so proud to be a part of this team!