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.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I am HERE!

It is amazing here.

But getting here sorta sucked, I admit.
Andy and the kids drove me and my friend Robin to Logan early early early early on Saturday morning.
This is Robin:
She is taking a picture, so this is actually Robin, in profile.

Anyway, we arrived at Logan very early to board our plan to Phoenix that was to leave at 6:20 a.m.
It did not leave at 6:20 a.m.
The left engine needed a new part, a part that wasn't at Logan and had to be sent for, and so after an hour and half we got off the plane and boarded another plane. We finally left at about 9:15 a.m. eastern time.

And, of course, we missed our connecting flight to Kona. We were re-routed to San Fransisco, where we waited a long long time, and then we arrived in Kona at 11:50 pm, Hawaii time--also known as 5:50 a.m. eastern time. By the time we arrived at the hotel we had been traveling for over 24 hours straight.
It was pretty special.

But we were in Kona!
And the next morning we got up and headed to Lava Java!
On the way I saw this huge snail:
Can you see him?
We also stopped at a farmer's market:
I have never seen Dragonfruit. Cool huh?
We then drank quite a bit of really good Kona coffee. I saw Normann Stadler. I stared at him until he looked at me. That was the extent of our deep and meaningful interaction.
We then strolled around until noon, when I could pick up my bike at TriBike.
I tried not to buy every single knickknack and t-shirt I saw. But I wanted to!

We had a ride on the schedule, and so we took our bikes out to the Queen K to check out that scene. Everything was quite lovely--we zipping right along-- until we got past the airport. Then the wind! The wind! It blew at us from the side and I thought, this is bad, but I can handle it. I couldn't stop looking around. The black lava contrasting with the white grass reminded me of the Klondike section of climbing Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Occasionally we would see others people riding. Everyone was decked in colorful kits and sported sweet bikes with zipp wheels. I was mesmerized by it all.

And it was hot. I made it through both my bottles in an hour and a half. After 25 miles or so we turned around, and BAM! The crosswind was 50x as bad as it had been on the way out. We crawled along, and I must admit I was pretty darn concerned about race day by the time we rolled into Bike Works, a local bike shop located on the way back to our hotel. I was parched, hungry, and a salty sweaty mess, and we had only been riding a few hours! And, worst, I was not at all sure I could handle it. But I will handle it. I just may get blown to Kansas as I try.

Later that afternoon we went for our first swim from Dig Me beach. It was pretty quiet with just a few swimmers and a few kids playing in the waves.  Most triathletes seem to swim in the early morning. Anyway, the water was warm and calm, and after swimming out maybe 25 yards we saw the coral and colorful fish. It was so incredible--like swimming in an aquarium. Robin and I swam for 10 minutes and then spent the next 10 just exclaiming over and over what we had seen... a turtle! a tiny black fish with white fins! a yellow and blue fish darting in a coral hole!

I'm not sure how to convey how I feel about being here. I know I am here to race, and I will race, and it will be hard, and horrible and amazing. But this is so much more than this race. I want to suck up every moment here--breathe it in--digest it--carry it.
More tomorrow.