Friday, December 30, 2011


I love swimming. Except that I don't love it as much as running, and I don't value it as much as biking, and so it constantly gets the shirked. I have only been swimming twice a week lately, and although I have tried to make the workouts of true quality, two workouts is still just -- TWO workouts.

My big obsession is the fly. I want to be able to swim fly... on and on and on and on...
That is my new goal. And then I will swim a 200 fly in a meet.
Why is this important? Because only bad ass swimmers swim the 200 fly in meets! (and of course I want to be a bad ass swimmer...)

On Wednesday I went swimming with my super swimming studress daughter, Jordan, and she made us this workout:

1000 swim with every 4th length IM order
with fins : 2 x (100 free hard, 150 IM kick, streamline)
200 easy pull
200 fly--no stopping
4 x 300 as
1. pull with buoy, paddles-- easy/moderate
2. paddles, swim no buoy--moderate
3. paddles, fins, no buoy--moderate
4. fins-- hard
off 30" rest
100 cool down
3200 SCY

Though she tried to convince me to try, I decided to the 200 fly with fins. But the important thing is I DID NOT STOP. GO SUPER MARY!
But I did have fins.. Next time, I will try it without. Jordan did it without. Show-off.


My friend Son asked me to write a little piece for the MESC newsletter on what it is like for a triathlete to swim in a Championship Masters Swim Meet. Here is what I wrote. It is very exciting, so I thought I'd share it. :)

Just recently, on a balmy morning in early December, I gathered my swim garb together, got in the car with my MESC swimming companion, Alina Perez-Smith, and headed to Boston University for the Short Course Masters Swim Championship.

The plan: to shed my triathlete persona and play at being a swimmer for a day....
because, the thing is, I am not really a swimmer.

I am a long course triathlete and coach. As such, I swim, and I actually swim quite a bit. But swim meets are not my territory, and as much as I love them, swimmers are not my people. So I come to these championship meets as an outsider--an imposter--as a pseudo-swimmer playing in a world that is not my own. And I love it.  I love it so much that sometimes attending a meet like this makes me--gasp--want to drop everything else and just swim.

All the big dogs come out for the big meets like this one, the SCM Masters Championship. And when I say big dogs? Yes, I mean big. Often, though not always, the best swimmers are huge--with broad shoulders and smooth, toned muscles. Swimmers aren't wiry like many triathletes and runners. They are more lumbering than lithe, except when they hit the water. Then they are not just lithe, they are lightning--a blur of smooth, rhythmic, powerful body parts skimming the water. It is amazing to watch. Amazing.

At this meet I witnessed world records being broken. A MESC teammate, the ageless and gorgeous Diann Uustal, for example, broke the record in the 100 meter IM. Watching her swim the event in 1:20 was awe-inspiring. To swim that fast at 65? And I witnessed it!

The best part of these meets for me, aside from watching the real swimmers swim, is to hang out with the MESC team. Our Maine teammates are so humble, easy-going and down to earth. I love my triathlon peeps, but we are not really, well, humble, and most of us are more than a little Type A, not easygoing. Meets, unlike running events or triathlons, leave lots of time to socialize. A swimmer warms up, then races, then warms down, then waits a long time (usually) until her next event, and during this time she can socialize! I love this aspect of meets, as it turns them into social events as much as athletic events.

The one thing I haven't mentioned in my description of such a swim meet is the actual swimming! For me, swimming in this type of meet is always humbling. I consider myself a very competent swimmer--when among triathletes. But when around swimmers? Not so much! Unlike triathlons, in which athletes start in waves specific to their age group, swim meets do not distinguish the young from the old until the entire event is over. Heats are seeded by time, not age, and so in any given heat you could swim next to a 70-year-old on one side, and a 25-year-old the other. I am nearly always seeded in a very early heat, given my very mediocre times (compared to swimmers, that is...) and I nearly always place in the bottom portion of my AG when the results are tallied. I will say, though, that at this meet I chose to swim the 400 meter IM--my first 400 IM ever at a meet. And I placed 2nd in my AG! Of course, there were only two people in my AG, but who's counting.... right?

I have been a part of MESC for almost three years now. I can't tell you how lucky I feel to be able to experience these meets, and to compete with and for such a great group of people.

See you at Harvard in March! Go Blue Lobstahs!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


“Things may come to those who wait… but only the things left by those who hustle.” - Abraham Lincoln

Today I continue on with my series of posts that take mid-life reflection (read crisis) as the theme....

I'm a hustler.

Saying I'm a hustler is nearly as bad as mentioning that I played hooker in college, isnt it?

Playing hooker allowed me to play aggressively in a big girl sport even though I'm a physically small person. The flaw in it: Once my neck almost snapped in the scrum while playing the (more adept, aggressive and large) Portland Women's Rugby Club and also, the sport fostered my already supremely developed collegiate drinking habit.

I abandoned playing  hooker following college, which is probably good in terms of saving both my neck and my liver.

But I've never abandoned being a hustler.  When I was younger I didn't always understand the most expedient way to get what I wanted--especially in terms of school and sport. It came most naturally to me in terms of the social: I wanted a certain friend, I would get her. I wanted a certain guy, I would go for it. I put fear aside. Who could say no to my wit and charm, right? As a result I met with some painful rejection, specifically on the guy front. But I also ended up getting what I wanted a lot of the time.

As I got older I began to understand, however, that hustling didn't just mean going for it by putting fear aside and taking the plunge. That was a big part of it, but the other part was to take immediate action--and then to follow up that action with hard, consistent work. Suddenly not just the social world was my domain. I could also get straight A's. I could get the job I wanted. I could run a marathon. I just had to take action, right now, and then work harder than everyone else and it was mine.

What I didn't realize at the time was that by hustling--by taking immediate action and following that action with ferocious and unrelenting work--I was also limiting  my options. I couldn't do it all. I couldn't become an animal behaviorist and also a a teacher. I couldn't become an English professor and also a specialist in organizational psychology. I couldn't be a master gardener with a degree in horticulture and also a top age group triathlete. I couldn't be a published writer, and a voracious reader, and own a thriving coaching business and be a dog trainer who also owned fifteen different types of dogs. And I couldn't do any of the above, at least really really well, if I wanted to be a good, loving, focused, attentive mom and wife.

Being extraordinary at any one thing requires a willingness to take action, a will of steel, and a singular focus. I figured out early that the hustler got first choice, and if she backed that action up with work she could usually keep that choice. What I didn't realize is that the hustler still didn't get all she wanted--because in going for what she wanted she automatically limited all the other options in her single minded pursuit.

I tend to have the most admiration for people of have achieved greatness in one realm. Actually, I think this is a national preoccupation. But these most successful people, more than anyone, have limited their options, haven't they? No one achieves greatness without that singular focus. No one is at the top of the game without having sloughed off the extra weight that hinders progress. These people have had to be ruthless in their taking action at the expense of reflecting on other choices.

To hustle. or not to hustle. To focus or diversify. What makes a person most happy? The satisfaction of achieving no matter what it takes, or the satisfaction of letting success go so you can enjoy more than just the pursuit of one, great thing?

Nothing like pondering these things when I could be taking action....

Friday, December 16, 2011

SCM Masters Championship RR

The Short Course Meters Championship at Boston University.

MESC women Cheryl, Alina, Diann, Mary E.
World Record in the 200 Medley Relay (AG 200-239).

Every year at this time I wonder WHY I sign up for it. I'm in abysmal shape, I don't feel like racing, and the meet is in METERS as opposed to yards, and so the times mean very little to me (having been brought up on yards and all...)

But each year I sign up... and each year I remember why once I get there. I love my Maine Masters Peeps! And I love watching the really fine swimmers in the final heats of each event.

The swimming culture is so different than that of tri and running, and I love to occupy it for a day or two a year. With running and tri I am an insider. I live and breathe triathlon and running--and even though tri and running culture are slightly different, they are also kindred in many ways and I feel at home in each. The swimming culture is a different beast, though. Here is my analysis of swim versus tri and run culture.

  • There are few short and little people like me at swim meets. Swimmers are not little people. Swimmers are big and strong and muscular--but not really cut. (Well, some are cut... but most aren't chiseled like super fast triathletes and runners are.) 
  • The pace of meets is slow, but the events within the meet, because they are almost all sprints, are fast.
  • You don't compete once in a meet like you do in tri and running. You warm up. You swim all out for a minute or two. You cool down. Then chill. Then warm up again. Then swim all out again. Then warm down again.Then chill--over and over again--all day. It is exhausting, but in a totally different way than say, an Ironman or a marathon.
  • In swimming, all ages compete together because individuals are seeded by time, and only later, after the competition, separated by age. In any given heat you could have a 21 year old and a 65 year old. The only things that matters in the seeding is your TIME.
  • Swimmers are a laid back bunch, but yet they are very serious about what they do. They are unassuming for the most part, and very modest, but the best swimmers are also supremely confident. There are very few flamboyant peacocky types in swimming.
  • Swimming, though people compete individually, is more of a team sport than running or triathlon. People come together to do relays in a meet, and the relays count (in terms of points) more than an individual event. People also really seem to CARE if their team wins or loses in swimming. It was a big deal for Maine to take back the trophy this year, for example.
So there is my assessment.  

Onto the race report!

Hmmm. Not much to say here.

I swam events that have nothing to do with my swim in triathlon--and that choice was by design. I swam the 100 IM, the 400 IM and the 200 backstroke, and a 50 breaststroke in a medley relay for Maine.

No freestyle. No distance. As I mentioned earlier, I am in abysmal, off-season shape. No need to put salt in that wound and SEE exactly how out of shape I am in by swimming in an 800 or a 1650, huh?

Even though I am a triathlete, my best stroke is definitely not freestyle. My best stroke is backstroke with butterfly as a close second. Don't get me wrong: I am very very average in back and fly compared to real swimmers. But if you compare my times in each of the strokes, I am more competitive in back and fly than breast and free.  My favorite event is the IM. My problem with the IM is only that I generally lead quite easily (against those who are my speed/level) through the backstroke, only to fall way behind in the breaststroke and to freestyle. It's a little sad to see every time I swim it...

The 100 IM was my first event. I was seeded pretty much exactly in the middle in terms of heats. I took it out HARD and had an awesome first 50, as per usual in the IM, and then I fell apart in the breast and free, also as per usual, and finished last in my heat. sigh. I swam a 40.05 for the first 50 and a 48.63 for the second 50. Of course, the first 50 was off the blocks... but still. 1:28.68 for a time. For those people (like me) who need a time translation to yards to have that mean anything, I basically took the first 50 out in the equivalent time of a :35 and then brought it home in :43--for a time of about a 1:18 converted into yards.
yep. That's all I have to say about that!

I will add here that a MESC teammate of mine, Diann Uustal , swam a 1:20 for the 100 IM at age 65, and broke A WORLD RECORD in her age group in doing so. A 1:20 IM converted is like a 1:10. At 65! Holy shit!

My next event was also IM--but this time the 400 meter IM. I have never competed in a 400 IM--meters or yards. I was scared--but I really wanted to see if I could finish it, so despite the fact that I wanted to scratch, I didn't.  Turns out it wasn't so bad! Of course, this is likely because I spent all of my energy getting through the 100 meter fly, and then loafed the back, breast and free. I finished in 6:55, which in yards would be about a 6:10. My 100 fly (1:33) and my 100 free (1:33).... ummm.... same split. I guess I didn't leave anything in the tank for that last 100, huh?

Right after the 400 IM I had the 200 meter back. I was tired from the IM, and honestly, I didn't work it very hard. I was 9 seconds SLOWER this year than last. Yikes! I finished in 3:10, which would be about a 2:50 in yards. Last year I finished in 3:01. Hmmmm. Not sure what to say about that. I DID finish first in my AG for the 200 back, though! Of course, only two 40-44s signed up for it... but I'm still counting it as a WIN.

I also did a 50 breaststroke in a 200 Medley relay. My team won, but not because of me, I'm afraid. Still, given I SUCK at the breaststroke I didn't do so badly (for me) and finished it in 46.73, which is about a 42 in yards. Given it usually takes me 55 seconds to finish a 50 breaststroke in practice, I'll take it.

So, that's the story of my meet. The best part was not the swimming, of course, but the hanging with friends and watching the other swimmers. Alina won her AG in nearly everything she swam, and with teammates broke the world record in the AG 200-239 200 medley relay. My friend Tracy won her AG in every event she entered, and also broke the Meet and New England records in the 200 free (2:17) and the 50  free (28.00). She also won her AG in  the 100 free (1:01:77) and was only 1/100th of a second off the record there. She is freaking speedy-- that girl. And pretty and smart and funny... but I'm not JEALOUS or anything...
Not me.

And now... no more racing for me until early January. I plan to run a 5k early in the month, which should be interesting given my weight and recent training... but you gotta start somewhere, right?!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

7 Things

Courtney (aka That Runner Chick) tagged me in a recent post. The game is to list seven things about yourself.
This one seemed pretty easy to complete, as opposed to some other tagging games, so I decided to do it. Also, I know you are all getting super sick of me talking about how time is slipping slipping slipping into the future....and how I am not keeping up, so I figured this was a good opportunity to depart from that topic for a day or so.

So here are my seven things:

  • I am destined to be a crazy dog lady. Before I die (oh boy... the time is slipping theme again...) I want to have owned a Boxer, a Mastiff, a Newfie, a French Bulldog, a Grand Pyrenees, a St. Bernard, a Bernese Mountain Dog and a Vizsla.  So far I have only owned 2 yellow labs, a chocolate lab and a Boston Terrier. I have some dog owning to do.
  • In high school, given my love of sneaking off to drink coffee and philosophize about God knows what, I could've been voted most likely to NOT do an Ironman in the future. Ange may have gotten most likely to do one, however. I love Ange for never giving up on me... and waiting for my inner Ironman to make an appearance....
  • After reading IronWar I realized a few things. At first I thought I liked the portrayal of Dave Scott better than the portrayal of Mark Allen because I am more like Dave Scott in my attitude and training predilections. I realize now, however, that I identify more with Mark Allen. He is more like me if I am at all like either--especially in terms of his upbringing and its effect on his personality as an adult--but I would LIKE to be like Dave Scott. I am more in awe of his type... I have always wanted to be someone like him. I want to be able to suffer more and better than everyone else.
  • It is quite possible that my son inherited his ADHD from .... me. I have likely read 1000 books now on ADHD and I keep coming up with.... Oh dear. I know where he gets this...
  • I want to love to cook. But I hate to cook.
  • My kids get after me because I constantly swear in front of them. Jordan frequently lectures me on how I might become more like other moms: work out less, don't swear in front of children, start making wholesome meals. 
  • I am swimming a 400 IM in a swim meet this weekend and I fear I might drown after the 100 fly.
So there you have it. Now I am supposed to tag other people, but I am too lazy to do so. That should be number eight? So if you read this, and you feel like posting seven things about yourself, do so, and then let me know to go visit your blog so I can read all about you. :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Time.... Is Not On My Side....

It's probably not on anyone's side, but I feel the slippage of time so acutely lately, I feel it warrants a post.

Since Kona, I feel like time has acclerated and I simply am not running fast enough to get everything done that I WANT to get done in the amount of time I've been allotted--both in each 24 hour period and also in my LIFE.

My bucket list is huge. It grows a little longer every time I pluck a white hair, and since each day I have more white hair... while you get the idea.  It's like I can see the landslide... slipping slipping....
and I want to do it all before age conquers me.

Does anyone else experience this? My heart starts pounding when I think about it. The pressure. The pressure! I cannot sit on my ass or I might miss out on -- everything !

The problem is that I am not a solo unit. I can't scratch things off the MUST DO list when I have three little rugrats that rely on my placement HERE, and a husband who is as confined as me by job and kids and dogs and taking out the trash.

I had a dream last night that I was deep within the earth. I had crawled down there through this tunnel, and the deeper I crawled the harder I knew it would be to get out, but I did so anyway. it was like a compulsion. Finally I hit the bottom, and then realized I needed to start the journey back--to get air, and light. To be free again. The tunnel, as I climbed UP UP UP was dark and cold and wet. And then there was dirty clothing clogging the tunnel. At first I went by the clothing and thought... ugh, I'm going to have to go back to get that because it needs to be washed... but I kept going anyway. Then the clothing got to be so dense that I couldn't crawl past it .So I started pushing it up, up up... and it gathered and got harder and harder to push. There was so much of it and I was so far from the surface! It was weighing me down and then it began to wrap around me, suffocating me.

Then I woke up.

So there you have it.
I can't get to the top. I can't conquer the bucket list and I'm running out of air. I'm in a dark tunnel and suffocating on laundry. The brain frames dilemmas so well, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Hola friends.

Do you find that you most often become sick when you are really busy sitting on your ass, eating leftover Thanksgiving day desserts and contemplating the state of your out-of-shapeness?

I was sick just a few weeks back with a lovely stomach virus, and now I have a nasty head cold. whimper whimper. I give in to thee, oh Gods of sickness! Forgive me! I will do your bidding from this day forth!

Of course, I have no idea what that bidding might be. Scratch that idea.

I took DayQuil, which seemed a good idea at the time, but I am now a little light headed and woozy. I'm wondering how the bike ride coming up is going to go. Maybe I should do it on the trainer....hmmmm?
I foresee a bit of a problem with balance...

Because I have this DayQuil-treated head cold my ability to think coherently is limited, so bear with me. I want to write about PLANS.

So much of training and coaching is about planning. This week and last I have been steadily working on the ATPs (annual training plans) of my athletes. ATPs are fun to make (at least I think so) because so much is possible before any of the minutiae gets in the way. Your athlete wants to achieve X. You start playing with phases and hours and prep races and soon you have created a path to get from where the athlete is today, to where the athlete wants to be to achieve X.

It's fun.
And full of promise.
I love me a good plan.

Problems ensue, however, and this is where the challenge of being a coach comes into play. The plan is the easy, fun part. Detouring effectively when life gets in the way of the plan--that, like in life--is the hard part.

We (the athlete and I) are traveling down the beautiful, planned out road to achieve the golden X. All is good. And then BAM! The athlete's Aunt Esther dies and the weekend workout you had planned so carefully will not just be reduced--it will not happen. So you carefully manipulate the week--which affects the next week, which affects the whole mesocycle.

So you navigate that little snafu, get the athlete back on track and you are still on the way to the golden X, albeit having experienced a small, unexpected bump in the pavement. But then the athlete gets a cold that he doesn't tell you about, and it turns into a major illness that knocks him out of 5 days of training.

Now there is a major snafu for you.

So once again you carefully manipulate the plan so that the five days is just a nice break-- a needed break. You gently push the athlete back onto the road to X again... and you are back! The golden X is in sight once again!

And then the athlete decides, on a whim, that he NEEDS to do this upcoming 5k, and do you think he can PR? And it's in the middle of a build week, where you hadn't intended to taper him at all, but he won't PR if you don't taper him a bit...

It goes on.
It's definitely a craft.

What is interesting to me at this point is how my coach constructs and deals with my ATP. Because I craft my own athletes' ATPs so carefully, and then I spend the rest of the year navigating the inevitable detours the athlete experiences, I am acutely aware of how much I don't want to fuck up the ATP  made for me. But sickness, vacations, knock down dead spousal "disagreements" that leave you without a night's sleep, your kid's swim meet, a sharp little pain that might turn into an injury, a new race I JUST HAVE TO DO--they all happen to me, too. And it's sometimes hard for me to see that it's okay to have my own own ATP manipulated to accommodate such roadblocks. I want to get to X. I know what is required to get to X. I want to steamroll any roadblocks and get on with the PLAN to X!

We Type A personalities are practiced in the art of not letting the roadblocks get in the way. But the tricky thing about triathlon (and running/swimming--or any other endurance sport) is that if you steamroll the roadblocks because you want X so desperately--it often backfires.

Which is why it's good to have a coach. Because usually the coach can convince you that the road to X is not, despite what you once thought, the original PLAN that was made. It can't be.

And so we plan. And then accommodate the roadblocks and plan again. and again. and again.

But right now... ahhhhh.
Looking out at the landscape of winter and my neat, orderly, clean ATPs so carefully constructed and untainted by the roadblocks to come, I feel excited. You are all going to make it to X! All of you! And so am I!

The ATPs are ready to be wrecked. And I'm ready to redirect. We will all get to X! WOOT!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How Bad Do You Want It

Really the LAST thing I should be doing right now is writing a post.
It's the day before Thanksgiving. I should be hitting the grocery store, packing up my kids' stuff so we can travel to Maine this afternoon, writing my athlete schedules and making sure they are all set for the weekend, or completing my assigned bike workout.

But I'm not doing those things.
I'm drinking coffee and writing.
In case you're wondering, this is a good example of poor allocation of time. It is also a good example of defiance, and how defiance can really screw you even if it feels right in the moment.

Which brings me to my next topic:


I recently purchased a coffee table book by Bob Babbitt entitled 30 Years of the Ironman Triathlon World Championship. In the forward, Babbitt discusses Julie Moss's famous finish in 1982 when she collapsed meters from the finish line, but still managed to claw and crawl her way to the finish. "Her finish proved once and for all that Ironman might be a race," Babbitt writes, "but in the end the struggle was strictly personal and that eventually it would come down to you against you. How bad do you want it? That is the Ironman's bottom line."

Many of you who read this blog want it.
And you want it bad.

It's hard to articulate where or why the want is present, but it's urgent and powerful, and it creates a formidable drive that people on the "outside" cannot understand.

In Babbitt's example the implication is that you must want it, like Julie Moss did, DURING the race. This is true. Ironman is not for the faint of heart. Executing an Ironman requires a focus and will that is unrelenting. What Babbitt doesn't get at, however, is that that focus and will must be present for months and months--even years leading up to the race.

I'm not telling you anything you don't know.  You already know that you have to want it BAD in order to train for and complete an Ironman. What is more difficult to see is the ways in which many of us, with our focus and wills of steel, thwart the very thing we ostensibly want most.

Yesterday Kurt shot me an email. It contained only one line:


Truthfully, I had not actually been screwing with his workouts. I had simply ADDED workouts.  Kurt often has his athletes take this Thanksgiving week off.  I had workouts slated for Monday through Thursday, but no workouts assigned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Last week I was sick for several days and missed a bunch of my workouts as a result. I hate missing workouts, and those free days just beckoned to me. You can make those sick days up! Just add them in this weekend! Voila!

That did not make Coach very happy. Clearly. Hence the email.  I had not yet actually screwed with the plan, but I was planning to screw with the plan, and I wasn't even trying to make a secret of it.
What seemed perfectly logical--even dedicated-- to me, was met with frustration and exasperation on his end.  In his words, "I will say it again-- this time of year is the most frustrating for me. Athletes think about their mental state on November 23rd and disregard their 2012 prep and race prep."

Well, there you have it.

How bad do you want it?

Do you want it so bad that when your coach says to take three days off, you TAKE THREE DAYS OFF?
Do you want it so bad that when you are told to keep a workout easy, you actually keep it easy?
Do you want it so bad that when asked to do three repeats you only do three and not five?
Do you want it so bad that you don't log extra miles, and those keep those miles a secret from your coach, your spouse, your workout log?

Do you want it so bad that you are willing to trust your coach and have faith in his/her plan?

Something to think about--
from one will of steel to another.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sharp Turns

This morning I got in touch with an old friend of mine, a professor in the English Department at Simmons. I earned my Masters in Children's Literature at Simmons back in 2001, and Susan taught many of the courses I took there. She remains, in my estimation, one of the best professors I've had, and I have had many many professors in my life--given my predilection for all things school.

Anyway, when getting in touch it occurred to me that I would have to somehow articulate to her the turn my life took in terms of career in the last few years.  When last in touch with Susan I had just been accepted to do doctoral work in English at Boston College. My intention was to become -- a Susan: a really really competent, fascinating and engaging professor of English.

And I ended up becoming a run and triathlon coach and an endurance athlete.

Life is weird.

The abrupt turn away from academia occurred when I became pregnant with Jordan. Or I should say, it occurred when I realized what being pregnant with Jordan MEANT. It meant we needed an income. It meant I would need to prioritize looking after a little baby over my studies. Looking down at my growing belly, it began to slowly dawn that earning a doctoral degree in English didn't seem to make quite as much as sense as it had when I applied.

And that was that. My academic career came to a screeching halt in favor of changing diapers, singing Hush-a-Bye and keeping us financially afloat (Andy was already half way down Doctorate Road; no making sharp turns for him) with my sixth grade teaching.  And that dream, the dream of professorial greatness, faded, faded, faded.... until it was no longer a dream at all, and I was attending all female, neighborhood book groups in place of classes on The English Novel; discussing the latest Jodi Picoult, (quite contentedly, I will add) while sipping a glass of Pinot Grigio.

Isn't it interesting how sometimes life stops you cold, and then takes you for an incredibly sharp turn, and even though you don't quite realize it at the time, your life path has been irrecoverably altered? What would have happened had I NOT accidentally gotten pregnant at that time? I would've started doctoral work at BC; of that I am certain. Would I now be in Kansas trying to make it as an English professor, struggling with the thought that I had not yet become the next Susan? Would I be totally pretentious and annoying and trying desperately to publish meaningless articles on obscure topics in never-read journals? Would we still have had three kids? Would I have ever gotten into triathlon?

I don't regret that sharp turn. I don't want to go back and earn a doctorate. And I like that the life turn gave me, inadvertently, triathlon. I became both incredibly bored and incredibly overwhelmed trying to keep up with my career as a teacher after Jordan was born, and that state of affairs just got worse and worse with every child I bore. By the time Lara came around I needed an outlet so badly that my running took off in a way it never had before. And then I began triathloning. And here I am.

So from time to time I reflect on the whole "could I have ever been anyone other than me?" question. My little brain struggles to imagine a world in which I didn't travel on this road as opposed to another. How much of this life have I designed? How little?

I wonder these things as my children rage around me, setting fire to the furniture and hiding pencils and old plastic toys into my dogs' alimentary canals. Occasionally I wake from this reverie, fend off the vague sense that some children need guidance and disciplining, and then return and think, "Wow, man. And here I am."

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Cleanse

My good friend Rose practices as a nutritionist. For a long time she has recommended this cleanse which involves eating primarily fruits and vegetables for two weeks. The first six days you only eat fruits and veggies. On day seven you can take in quinoa or the like. During the last three days of the cleanse you may have lean meats in addition to the quinoa and the fruits/ veggies. The cleanse also includes taking these colon blow supplements that help to "repopulate" the good bacteria in your colon while ridding you of the nasty bacteria. How that works I'm not quite sure.

So this week, Andy and I decided to try it. My training currently doesn't involve much training, so it seemed like the right time to mess with my diet. I went to the grocery store at the beginning of the week and filled the cart with things I previously couldn't even identify: leeks, bok choy, kale, persimmon, beets... (Okay, I can recognize beets). My plan -- make a billion different vegetable and fruit soups and ingest them all week.

This plan appears intelligent, but it didn't factor in something very important: I don't like to cook; nor do I cook well. Hence, two days into the cleanse I found myself at Whole Foods purchasing million dollar veggie soups by the gallon. My current favorites are carrot ginger soup and pumpkin curry soup. Unfortunately, both these soups, though tasty, make me fart up a storm. Actually, the whole only eating veggies and fruits thing has had a rather flatulent effect. You really don't want to be near me until this cleanse is OVER. How do vegans do it? Do their colons just eventually adjust?

Andy, though not overly competitive with me, has gleefully kicked my ASS in the cleanse department thus far. I have cheated with the following foods: coffee, almonds, pumpkin seeds, Lara Bars, and cottage cheese. (I also went out to dinner with Alina, who was down this weekend, and had bread, enchiladas and wine, but let's just forget that little transgression.) Andy, conversely, has been perfect, which is probably why he has already lost weight and is feeling all cleansed.... and I have not and do not. I just want a freaking peanut butter sandwich already.

The benefit of the cleanse, for me, has to do with requiring myself to figure out what to eat. My daily intake generally involves peanut butter and bread... and that is about all. Occasionally I have almond butter instead of peanut butter if I am feeling a bit nutty.  I also drink water. And sometimes I have salad. But if we are what we eat--I am basically a larger peanut butter and wheat bread sandwich.

This adventure has required I NOT EAT bread (kill me now) or peanut butter (can you say quivering withdrawal?) for two weeks. I happily report that I have now made it FIVE DAYS without peanut butter and bread. To boot, I have figured out some cool things, like you can't taste kale in smoothies or if you eat ENOUGH salad you can actually get sort of full. Here's someting else interesting that Andy learned yesterday. He had made a kale, squash and corn soup and had added too much cayenne pepper to it. It was so crazy hot that neither of us could eat it, despite being really committed to eating it no matter what--so as not to waste all that kale, squash and corn. To cool his mouth after forcing down a bowl, Andy ate some grapefruit. Then he decided to add grapefruit juice TO the soup.

And it neutralized it! Amazing! It also make it slightly sweet, which was very yummy.
So, kale, squash, corn and GRAPEFRUIT JUICE soup. Not bad! Who would've thought?

In other news...
Oh wait. There is no other news because I'm not training.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Slow Down, You Move too Fast.

You've Got to Make the Good Times Last.

I should change the pronoun YOU to I, of course.  I'm listening to that disc now--the concert in Central Park--in an effort to get myself to calm down. Just callllmmmmmm downnnnnn. Woah, girl.

Before racing in Kona, I now realize, I felt relaxed. Ironic, I know, that my anxious, crazy brain fell silent before that race, but now that I'm home and should be preparing to hibernate for the winter, I have transitioned into a ball of frenetic, manic energy. I think I need Valium. Or maybe electric shock treatment. My eyes are pried open, I am radiating twitchiness, and I'm scrambling manically to get everything done that has been on my list of "things that must be done" since my last off season-- a year ago.

And this, my friends, is why I do and coach long course triathlon and running. If I had to deal with this list all year, I would be in a mental institution--there is no doubt in my mind. So I created a world in which I must train hours a day and spend the rest of my free time making schedules and conversing with athletes--and THEN I do not have time to attack that list! It just grows and grows... and I think, NO WORRIES. I will attack it in the off season.

It's the off season.  And I only have about a month before the off season is no longer the off season. MUST. GET. STUFF. DONE.  MUST GET IT DONE NOW!  Hence, the crazymanicfrenticinsane pace at which I am moving currently. It's rather frightening. Yesterday Ange, via cyberspace, told me to just SLOW DOWN.

Weep! Okay.

Enough on that.
Let's discuss a more soothing topic:
Next season's race schedule! Ahhhhh.... I can feel the rush of relaxation in allowing myself to be transported into that safe realm....

I'm not totally sure of the early season races.  There will likely be a 10 mile road race in my hometown, and maybe a few indoor TT on the bike. 

But starting in May:

Sudbury Sprint  (Jordan will do this one with me! :)
Mooseman Half
Ironman Lake Placid
OOB Rev 3 Half
Pumpkinman Half

Yes, I am signed up for IMLP once again. I toyed with IMFL or IMAZ but finally decided they were too late in the season. I have a hard time cooking much past October 1st. Both of those races are still on the someday list, however, of course!

I have been regretting not signing up for IMLP since the race this year. The only way into the race at this point is by purchasing an IM Foundation slot, and after probably not quite enough thought, I pulled the plug and decided to sign up that way.  ueueeu! I'm excited!

I plan to crush the course and take back my barf-filled race day of 2011. I honestly can. not.wait.
Unfortunately, though, even if I earn a Kona slot at IMLP this year, I will not be returning to the Big Island in 2012. I would *love* to compete in Hawaii each fall. Alas, until it starts raining money I will be unable to do so. Hopefully I will save enough of my pennies and be able to return in 2013.

Are you training for IMLP 2012? If yes, I would love to arrange a bloggy meet -up! Also, I'm thinking of taking my IMLP athletes to train in Lake Placid sometime in May. Anyone interested?  This reminds me that Ange and I are still filling our roster for 2102. Shoot us an email if interested!

 Ahhhh.... I feel so much better now! Simon and Garfunkel + thinking about next season...
Who needs to hang those pictures? clean the basement? wash the rugs? dust the floorboards (more like SCRUB them since they haven't been dusted..... ever.)
Not me!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Letting the Underwear Show

Visit to the playground. Late October, 2011.

It would be nice not to give a rip whether your underwear showed.

I know you will forgive me speaking metaphorically here.
I care too much.

You'd think after 41.4 years I would not care what is thought of me--if anything is thought of me at all--and you'd think I'd be able to accept who I am, warts and all, and just be. But I go through phases of being racked by anxiety that I am not all that--and that the world knows it--and that something must be done about it RIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE.

I am in one of those phases now.

It's a funny thing about training and working. It gives me such day to day purpose that I don't focus on my shortcomings. Without it, I lack focus--or more accurately--I am aware of my lack of focus and more annoyed and burdened by it. I can't seem to keep up, and this bothers me very much. Generally I am irritated by people who seem to have it all together, yet I feel I SHOULD be one of those people. This disconnect is yet another reason to be annoyed with myself.

There is laundry all over the dining room table, my kids are watching MonteCarlo (that very profound 2011 movie with Selena Gomez) for like the tenth time even though it's really not age appropriate for Lara, I haven't made dinner, the dogs didn't get a good walk today, the grocery shopping wasn't done, and here I am. What DID I achieve? I don't even know! Nothing? Drinking coffee while watching soccer? Swimming a few thousand yards while the kids messed around in free swim? Answering email? Checking FB?  Worse, I haven't worn make-up in like a month, my eyebrows are growing together, I have a zit on my cheek and I am finding more gray hairs every single day.

Each day I go to bed with new resolve. TOMORROW I will pull it all together. I have got my lists, I've made a schedule, I'm fired up and ready to go.

And by 9 am I have already fucked it all up--having spent too long on email and coffee before the day has even begun.

But when it comes to training and working... now THAT I can do. I rarely miss a workout. Actually, I'll be frank. I never miss a workout. And I love spending time constructing my athlete schedules and emailing with them about workouts And that gives me esteem. Hey! I have fourteen loads of laundry to do, and my dogs are farting up a storm because they ate the strewn remnants of Goldfish crackers and yogurt off the table, and my kids are somewhere in the neighborhood rip-sticking but I'll be damned if I know where, I'm so hairy you'd need a lawn mower to clean up my eyebrows, my legs (etc), my hair hasn't been cut for nine months, and the downstairs toilet is caked in dry piss, and I totally spaced and failed to take Jordan to her orthodontist appointment, but

HEY !  I got that 3000 yards in and I responded to all of my clients today! Yes, I did!

And I have to say this:
I think I wouldn't dislike myself so much for my inability to keep it all together (aside from my work and my working out) if everyone didn't present such a fucking cheery picture on FaceBook.

REALLY! I only need five minutes on FB to feel like crap. I look at happy, productive families, joyous and life affirming updates, witty snippets of smooth as silk lives, and people who are neat, trimmed, youthful...

And the worst thing is that I am guilty of presenting the same thing!

Which pictures are the cutest of my kids? Which are the funniest? How can I present the very most funny, smart, good-looking image of ME and my progeny possible so that everyone is jealous and wants to be ME!

Oh dear God I feel sick even thinking about it.

What would happen if I posted pictures like this:

Hey look! It's my kid! He's stolen my iphone and is taking pictures of himself as I drag him in the car on who knows what errand!


Hey look everyone! It's my really really messy desk! I am totally disorganized! Aren't you jealous?

as opposed to something like this, which I'm fairly certain I did post to FB:
 Hey! Look at my cute kids. They like each other and we have FUN as family doing things like going swimming!

I'm not sure why I try to make everything look cheery, except that to NOT make things look cheery means I am less cheery than you, and hence I am less realized and well off and successful etc and so on. I'd hate for you to think that--that I am not as cheery and successful as you. And you'd hate me to think that of you too, I bet.

But constantly viewing people's perfected versions of their lives really does a number on me. I know the plastic lives presented are not REAL, but they seem real--just like the life I present to you on FB does. You know?


I think I may have lost the thread. Maybe you can tell me. Maybe post it on Face Book.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Re-Entry has been tough for me. Poor me! (I'm kidding.... ;)

I spent 17 days in Hawaii. Yes, 17! And even though I spent that long, I still didn't want to go home when it was time. I loved the heat, the ocean, and the rhythm of each day. I loved being in a condo that was not my home and devoid of all clutter except that which we brought to it with our luggage. I loved going to Lava Java and getting a latte or a banana soy milk smoothie. I loved seeing sea turtles and colorful fish every time I swam. I loved trying to identify the various Hawaiian birds and flowers. I loved seeing a mongoose slip into the bushes. I loved waking each morning and thinking, Hmmmm, what should we do today?

If I were twenty-two again--single and free--and just post-college, I would do things differently. Of course, it's easy to say that now. It's easy to think I would just go to Kona and live there--teach there--try something new. Get AWAY. But at 22 I wasn't adventurous at all. I moved from Maine to Boston, entered graduate school because there were no jobs for college graduates (recession - 1992) and moved in with my best friends from college. It was the right choice for me then, I suppose. I didn't know then that it would be bascially my ONLY CHANCE to get away... to get out.

And I do know that it is only when the possibility of trying something new is not available that it seems so appealing. I know... I know.

Anyway. I have been inundated with the minutiae of home life since my return. Swim meets, drum and piano lessons, play-dates, homework enforcing, making lunches, doing laundry, walking the dogs, cleaning the house. (Guess it's no wonder I didn't want to leave Hawaii!) I have also felt really panicky, which I don't understand. It could be that I am on REST right now and my body does not like REST--(or  maybe, more likely, is simply not used to it). It could  also be that I put off an awful lot of schlock before I left on our trip, saying.. Oh, I will take care of that when I get back.

And now I'm back. And that list is long, baby... LONG.

Since my race I have done two short swims, two short runs, and one short bike.
I have one more week to bask in my laziness before I feel the pressure to actually adhere to the Training Peaks schedule set before me by the man. It feels wonderful not to feel pressured to work out... and also terrible. I know you know what I mean...

Speaking of plans...

I have been having fun creating my long term season plans for my athletes. I have some incredible runners and triathletes returning to work with me for another year, and I'm thrilled! Ange and I are both currently reviewing applications of athletes who hope to work with us this coming year. We both take on a limited amount each year, and we like to close out the roster in December. (Which is not to say we don't add or subtract after December... we do! But ideally we like to have things set by then.) 2011 was a huge year for Ange and me in terms of our own athletic successes, and also the successes of the athletes we coach. Our TriMoxie peeps have had many podium finishes, Ironman and 70.3 finishes and marathon finishes (including a sub three marathon! Go Jeff!). If you are interested in our coaching, now is the time to contact us.
For more info. on our coaching you can visit our website or email us at We would love to talk with you, or to set you up with one of our current athletes so they can talk to you about the work we do.

Sorry about the shameless self-promoting. ;) Generally I try to keep the advertising OUT of my blog, but hey...I'm in the off season and the best thing to do in the off season is to start thinking about the NEXT SEASON! (for you and for me!)

I just thought I'd let you know that as I sit and write, Ernie won't stop farting. I love my Boston Terrier, but no dog emits worse smelling farts... I swear to God.

I leave you with some Hawaii pictures... weep weep! I want to go back! Guess I'll just have to qualify again... ;)
Ange and me, sporting our bikinis before we gain that off season weight!

 Making sand cakes

 Andy and Lara

All six kids (Bancroft and Wilson) from left to right: Jordan, Tommy, Lara, Cam, Noah and Nick
 Drinks !
 Smoothies at Lava Java
 Jordan and me Pre-Shopping
Jordan, me, Lara, Noah- Pre-Snorkel

Walking through a rain forest (with a path... :)
 Volcano crater (Mauna Loa area)
 Steam vents in the crater

Steam vents and Sunset
Jordan--hiking in the crater

Kona--Sunset over the water

Saturday, October 15, 2011

IMWC continued

Dropping off the bike, the day before the race.

The thing about vacation is that you actually believe you will have more time than usual, as if the day expands and suddenly there will be more hours to do everything, including blogging. But alas, time doesn't expand like that, especially when you are vacationing in paradise and want to take advantage of every minute you are there.

This morning we went kayaking to a coral reef, tied up our boats, and snorkeled.
This is my favorite fish:
Its a Trumpetfish. He's very cute close up.

The kids are trashed now, and I think actually, Andy is taking a nap, too!
So I have a second to write about the race.

As I mentioned in my last post, I executed an incredible (because I remained happy and healthy), but very conservative race. It's easy, in retrospect, to wonder whether I should've approached the race differently. I had more in me, there is no doubt. But I also remember, even though retrospect has clouded my memory, that I needed to have a race in which I celebrated my making it to Hawaii. For me, celebrating came in the form of slowing myself down enough to I soak it in and enjoy it, and NOT end up in the medical tent.

I spent the morning of the race hovering. I hovered around Robin, around Ange, around my bike. At some point Robin and I headed to the medical tent to complete some Timex study requirements. We filled out a few questionnaires, listed what we had eaten for breakfast, were weighed, had a cheek swab taken, and were asked to pee in a cup.

As you all know, there is plenty of pee to be released race morning. And, of couse, peeing into a cup is easier if the stream isn't a torrent. I did my best, and came out of the porty john only slightly covered in pee, and with a very, very full cup. I believe I was cursing under my breath when I looked up, cup of pee in hand, and there, standing before me, was Craig Alexander.

I believe I said..... "Oh!" and then, "Oh Oh Oh!" and finally, "Hi!"
It took him a second to say hi-- a shy, amused smile  lingering on his oh-so-unbelievaby cute face--and step around me. As the door clanged behind him I said,  "Good luck today!" I then turned back to see Robin and the rest of the Timex study people snickering at me.

Anyway, I decided to view the sighting as an auspicious start to a great day.

When we finally headed out to the water, I was very ready to begin the race already. I had enough pre-race anxiety, and just wanted to START! My approach to the swim was to go to the far far far far left. I was so far left that I was literally alone, except for a lone kayak who kept telling me to get over to my right.
If you look very carefully, you might be able to see me.... a pink cap just barely inside of the left-hand side of this frame.

After treading water for what seemed like an hour the cannon suddenly, and without warning, went off.  It is possible there was warning, of course, and I was just so far off course I couldn't hear it. Anyway! I swam and swam and swam. I could see the buoys about a quarter mile to my right. I saw fish, some coral, a few competitors, and a ton of kayaks, who kept pushing me toward the race and away from the left.
Here you can see the yellow kayakers. I weaved around them, all the way to the left. You can see the pier and the red buoys to the right.

Here is a photo of the race start.
You may THINK I was stupid to stay to the left, but ummmm.... I beg to differ.
When it was time to make the turn to head back to Kona, I had to swim the quarter mile to the turn buoy. That was unfortunate. I wasn't sure how much time I was losing by swimming so far away from the crowds, but I tried to remind myself... we are not rushing today. We are having a GOOD DAY. When I approached the turn buoy I begin to get crushed by bodies. It felt a bit like I imagine entering a washing machine would feel.  After 10 minutes of it I had had enough, and began swimming to the far left again to come back. I once again found myself alone save the kayakers, fish, and the few swimmers who were aiming away from the crowds, like me.

At one point I looked down, and I saw them. DOLPHINS! They were gently swimming... so soft and graceful. I thanked myself for swimming so far away. What an amazing thing! Dolphins! Obviously I did not take this picture during the race, but this is what it looked like:

Eventually I heard the loud noises that signaled the end of the swim. The problem was... I couldn't see the ending because I was so far to the left I was on the other side of the pier! So I swam back around the pier, and finally found myself close to the end. Final time 1:13:40. Yep. That is my slowest IM swim time by 7 minutes--and that includes non-wetsuit swims! oops.

But who cared! I saw dolphins! And I had loved my swim and couldn't wait to get on the bike. (I want to thank TriBike here for my super cool new Torque!--sorry I didn't swim fast in it. Next time!)
The run to my bike took forever, but finally I arrived, and I was off! I saw Mark (Ange's Mark) and the boys going up Palani, and in their usual awesome style they went crazy cheering. Thanks, guys! Andy later told me they had just missed me, having spent a very long time looking for me coming out of the swim. They got confused when I was like 10 minutes later than I had told them I thought I would be! oops again.

The first part of the bike on the Queen K is AWESOME--wind at your back, a lot of gradual down hill. It's fun! It's fast! You feel like a rock star! Well, except for the packs of cyclists streaming by you... that doesn't feel so great. But still, this part of the ride was FUN. Can you see me smiling? And look, Kat, the Pumpkinman bottle made it all the way to Hawaii!

I kept my watts pretty low, drank a ton of water, and ate a gel every half hour. I also had a few mini-Snickers, which though totally melted, completely hit the spot. Yum.

Finally I made the turn to climb Hawi. Things stayed easy and calm until about 4-5 miles before the turn around. Gradually... gradually things got windier, and windier and windier, until finally I could barely ride. The palm trees were so bent and blown it appeared we were in the midst of a hurricane, minus the rain. It was insane! I was deliriously happy. Going 1 mph, but happy. How cool! THIS was Hawaii! This was it! This is what everyone meant by the insane winds! And OH BOY did they not disappoint!  Finally we turned around, and then the wind was at our backs. I got in aero, tucked in and flew. Then I started to weave, I panicked, and I got up on my bars and prayed instead.  Here I am heading back down...

 The hardest part of the ride for me was returning to town on the Queen K. It just went on and on and on and on.....  And there was this nasty headwind that made me want to scream. I just kept drinking water and eating gels and hoping someday the ride would end.

I'm sweaty, but I'm headed home! (and still happy...)
I think I forgot to mention it was hot.
Yep. It was hot. Like a bottle of water every half hour, pour water over your head and on your legs, and still feel like you are boiling hot, hot.

Finally finally finally I got close to the end. I took my feet out of my shoes... yeah me! And hopped off my bike. 5:57:40. Okay. I'll take it, I guess! Then I tried to hop some more. ouch ouch ouch. It took a bit until I could stand upright, I admit.  T2 passed in a blur. And then....

here I was... on the run.


I took it out slow. Then looked at my pace, and went a little slower. I didn't care if I ran nine minute+ pace, as long as I ran the whole thing, and finished strong. That was the plan!
Running down Ali'i Drive it was HOT. Holy mama!   I think I'm squeezing a sponge on my head  here.
I saw my family at the turn around on Alli' Drive and I was so excited to see them. Lara screamed as I headed off again, "Don't end up in the medical tent, Mommy!" and I smiled and shouted, "I won't! I promise!"
Running up Palani to the Queen K I braced myself. I had been warned... the hottest part of the course was coming up. But I felt good. Not GREAT, but good... and I knew if I just kept running at this pace I could run forever. I saw Ange as she headed back on the Queen K and slapped her five... Oh! So good to see her! Then I entered the Energy Lab and Thank God and Heaven Above, the sky clouded up. I could not believe my good fortune. I could do this. I had passed the turn around andwas headed out of the lab when I saw Robin. She shouted and again, AHHH. So good to see a smiling, happy, friendly face!

And then I just had seven left. As I ran on, slowly slowly slowly I thought of something Pat Wheeler said in a interview last week. He was talking about what motivated him on the final 10k, and it was the thought that he only had 6 miles until the off season. And that is what I thought during those last miles... Seven more miles til the off season. Six more miles til the off season... five more miles til the off season ..... 
When I got to mile 24, it hit me. I had only 2 miles until I would successfully finish this race--not sick, not unhappy--just totally happy and alive and thrilled to be in Hawaii. I picked up the pace... and then some more. By the time I turned on to Ali'i Drive I was sprinting.
And I was screaming.... I had done it!

An 11:21:18 is not my fastest IM. It is also not my slowest. But this was the first IM I completed in which I raced within myself and did not allow myself to make mistakes. I did not take risks, but I raced with joy, and I did it at Kona. 

I will compete in my next IM in just over a year from now.
I guarantee I will race it, and I will race well and hard. And I will get back here. I will!

Love and huge thanks to my incredibly supportive family, my amazing friends (especially Ange and Alina and to Robin for spending the week with me!), to my parents, to my awesome sponsor, TriBike Transport, and of course, to my incredibly intelligent  and supportive coach, Kurt.
And to all of you for your support too! Mahalo!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


When I left off, I had promised to discuss the Timex study I am in, and also to detail my pre-race final days.

But I didn't cause I got all stressed out and in the I'm going to race an Ironman in 24 hours, OMG mode, and couldn't focus enough to write a post.

So now, here I sit, three days post-race. My family has arrived and I am in full slothdom, eating, drinking, and otherwise sitting on my ass with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, ignoring my children as they repeatedly ask me to watch them do this or that flip off the pool deck. It's quite wonderful, really.

We plan to stay in Kona until next Tuesday meaning that by trip's end I will have spent 2.5 weeks here on the Big Island. I'm digging the Big Island. It's quite possible my family will have to carry me to the airport kicking and screaming. Can't I just say here? They need teachers and coaches everywhere, right?

Where to begin? On Friday, as I said, I started to get the pre-race jitters. The fact that I was actually going to compete in an Ironman--here, in the heat and wind, slowly became real and unavoidable. I took Mrs. Z for a quick spin Friday morning to see if the gels I had taped to her down tube would scrape my legs. All good.  Then I went for a one minute run to get a free t-shirt from the colostrum capsule people. If you haven't heard of the colostrum people, go here. The gist is: If you take colostrum (from organically fed New Zealand cows) every day, you will develop an immune system as strong as a New Zealand cow, and be able to race as fast as a cow, or maybe even faster. Anyway, the company was giving out free shirts, and I liked the shirts, so I ran to get one.

Robin and I also had a very large breakfast at Lava Java. When I read about Lava Java in blogs before coming to Kona, I thought it must just be a hot spot--the in place to get coffee. It is that. It also serves, however, the most delicious food I've had in forever. I sampled  breakfast, lunch and dinner there,(not all on the same day :) and every meal surpassed my wildest yum factor fantasy.  Anyway, for breakfast I had banana and macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup and a cup of fresh, local fruit. My mouth waters thinking about it.

Race night I picked up my family at the airport (yeah!) and then I went back to my hotel where Robin and I snacked on victuals from a previous supermarket visit, and went to bed by, drumroll... 8:30 pm.
Stunningly (and after 10 mg of melatonin) I fell asleep and didn't wake until the alarm went off at 4:00 a.m.

Before I start into painstakingly reliving race morning and the race itself, I must preface this novel of a post by emphasizing that this time around I implemented a new approach to nearly every facet of my IM race--including but not limited to preparation, taper, nutrition during taper and during the race, pacing strategy, and biggest of all, attitude  both before and during the event.

The result was that I had the race I expected to have in terms of execution and time. I also was able to feel joyful throughout the race, sure of my ability to finish strong, and thrilled to be in Kona and living this dream--even at some very difficult moments--like, for example miles 21-23 of the marathon.

I also felt sure I would not come close to achieving an Ironman PR.

That is the price, I learned, you pay for ensuring yourself a joyful race experience, one in which you feel strong from first stroke to last step. To achieve this you (or, I should say I, since I can't speak for you) must take the risk out of the race, and rely on what you know you can do, for sure.

I do not regret my approach. Not even a little. After struggling, barfing and shitting my way through the marathon portion of my first three Ironman races--and ending up in the medical tent passed out for two of those three, I needed to PROVE without a doubt that enjoying the race, and not ending up with an IV in my arm was possible. I needed to take that step--backward you might say--to go forward again. And I had to do it here, in the heat and wind of Kona.

And I did it.
I swam easily, away from the crowds--so far away that I saw a pod of dolphins swimming beneath me--and probably swam an extra mile by doing so.
I rode nearly 10 watts lower than my coach recommended for the first 56 miles of the race, and then 5 watts below for the rest.
I started the run easy, walked every water stop, and kept running easy until the final two miles of the race, when I picked up the pace to the pace that Kurt had recommended I start at.

And I never felt sick. And I never felt desperate. And I never felt that I wouldn't make it to the end or that I need help, and NOW.
I just felt good, and I finished with my arms in the air, a look and feeling of glee about me.

And you know what? Now I know it's possible for me to execute a race in that way, with that level of caution, and that level of confidence that I will finish strong.

And I also know that's the last fucking time I race like that. Because it's not racing. It's just going 140.6 miles.
I needed to know I could do 140.6 with a smile.
Now let's get back to business, baby!


Off to dinner. We're going for Mexican and margaritas. More tomorrow. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kona II

And on the second day in Kona.....
I saw Macca at Bike Works! Robin and I had just finished biking, so we were stinky, but he still agreed to a picture with us. I think I look almost as tan and fit as he does, don't you?

At Bike Works I signed up Mrs. Z to receive a wash and a tune-up. I think she may have been the smallest, oldest and dirtiest bike there. We share that. No really... she is not just small, dirty and old... she also has an extremely used and stinky (read I can't get rid of the smell of pee) saddle. (I don't though...really. I swear.) The leather is completely worn off and if I don't change it soon, I will wear it down to the post.  So, I figured, the least I could do was to sign her up to get a wash and a trim.

After we had purchased way too much in the way of Kona inscribed garb at Bike Works and had had our Macca sighting, we headed back to the hotel. In the parking lot we were approached by a few PhD students from UConn doing a study sponsored by Timex. They asked us if we would take part. At first I wasn't interested, but the more I learned, the more excited I became.

This is from the Timex blog site describing the study:
The Korey Stringer Institute and Timex are sponsoring a study  that examines Performance variables and Physiological Responses in Elite Triathletes during a competitive race.  The Timex athletes are participating plus some additional volunteers bringing the total to 30 athletes.  The study checks heat, hydration, nutrition and other related measures.  The photo below is an athlete receiving a whole body sweat washdown.

They will check the sodium content in the sweat in relation to what he is eating and how they match up. During the race, the Timex Global Trainer will provide important data for the study.  In addition,  they will also be taking core temperature of the athletes during the race as well. At the finish, they will have a Recovery Intervention at the finish line where half of the participants will be cooled immediately following and the other half will not.  Principle Investigator is Dr. Douglas Casa and Student Researcher is Rebecca  Stearns.  Timex will be receiving feedback for their athletes.
How cool is that? The Timex Team will receive the feedback, but so will we. I'm quite excited.

More on our Timex study adventure in tomorrow's post....

The rest of the day was spent exploring shopping, eating and hanging out. Later that day Ange got in, and we made plans to swim together in the morning.

The next morning we met and I was so excited to see her! My Ange! Here we are... can you guess which one I am? This picture was on the Competitor site yesterday.

And here we are from the front:
From left to right... Shelby, me, Ange, Michelle, Kerrie, and Kerrie's daughter, Rain.
After the swim I socialized, of course.
I love the swimming here. I am vowing to swim every single day until I must leave this island. It's warm, it's salty, it's stunning underneath the surface. And until race day, you can even swim out a quarter mile and get a cup of coffee from Coffees of Hawaii! I stole these pictures from Michelle... (Thanks Michelle). :)
Pictured is Michelle's friend Nalani. See how you hang on the boat and drink the coffee!
I never want to leave.