Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's good to be GOLD!

I have a confession to make.
Yesterday morning, my friend and I got up at the butt crack of dawn and drove to Solana Beach to wait in line and see if we could get one of 50 remaining entries into the race this morning. I'm happy to report that we were #47 or 50, and thus "Team Smackdown" was born.....

We really didn't think about this until a few days ago, when we got jealous of all the other Divas doing the race. Since I'm a short-timer now and need to get as many CA race t-shirts as possible before I move, I just had to enter, but my body has not been feeling up to a full-fledged sprint a week after Pendleton. My crazy friend (code name "Cali Girl" -- hubby's nickname for her) got strangly excited about doing the swim leg of the relay, and of course, I would only we went on a search for a runner. When everyone else rejected us, we ended up with our Assistant Coach. We'll call her "Uber Runner." You see, she's an Ironman many times over, but she just so happens to have a 21 minute 5K in her as well. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?


We hit the relay jackpot. This morning was awesome!!! Cali Girl got all ready for the swim and stood around in her wetsuit on the beach for over an hour and 20 minutes before her wave went off. Apparently, by that time, the tide was coming in but it was leaving quite a bit of shallow water to wade/dolphin dive through before making it past the break. When the first few relay swimmers came into transition, they said that there was a huge set that came in right as the relay went off and that quite a number of people got pummeled by the third wave. Crap! I was hoping Cali Girl just survived at this point....screw speed. Then I saw Uber Runner sprinting toward transition from the beach. She was going to stay with Cali Girl when she got out of the water and assist in the timing chip handoff.

"Where is Cali Girl?" I yelled. She said that she was coming, so I unracked my bike and watched as the other relay teams started heading up on the bike. Sure enough, she lived and made it to the top of the hill. She sprinted in across the mat and looked like she was in a world of hurt. Good times! Uber Runner grabbed the chip, put it on my leg, and then I took off out of transition like a bat out of hell. It's hard to run in LOOK cleats, especially on wet pavement, but I was sprinting and yelling at people to get out of my way.

The bike was a quick 9-mile course. 2 loops of relatively flat portions of the Pacific Coast Highway. (Pretty positive that was where we were) It was beautiful coming up out of Solana and down the big hill with the ocean coming right up to the road. I just felt so lucky to be out there. From the second I got on the bike, I was hurting. I didn't want to see anything in the teens on my speedometer, so whenever I dropped below 20, I geared up or stood up to pedal faster and harder. There was nothing pleasurable about the bike at this point, just a good old fashion grind. I passed EVERYONE. Seriously, I was never once passed out there on course and I took out everyone that ended up in front of me. Was I drafting??? Mmmmaybe. But not intentionally. Sometimes you had a huge group of slowpokes to pass and someone would swerve out in front of me and pass with me. But I'd pass them in the end. I didn't need to draft. I owned them! OK, just kidding...... But I really felt strong out there and gave it everything I had.

Coming into transition, I was pissed that there was no timing mat for the bike. That means my bike split contains both T1 and T2. So I looked down at my watch and had a split of 26:45 for the 8 miles. ROCKIN' good time for me on that course, I think. We'll see what the official split looks like and how much time we took in transition.

Cali Girl met me before I racked my bike, transferred the chip to Uber Runner, and then OFF she went to conquer the final 5K! I needed a moment to recuperate after my ride--- tummy can only handle redlining for so long. All the guys coming in off the relay were congratulating me on my riding and one of them said he was shocked when I passed him out there. Ha! Good way to stroke the ego.

When I was recovered enough, I grabbed my bottles and Cali Girl and I went to the finish line to cheer on our other, older Divas who were still out on course. Almost in a blink of an eye, I caught site of Uber Runner. She was pounding it!!! She looked totally miserable, of course, but she was flying. Reports on course from other relayers say that she was very strong and "impossible to catch." Fan-tastic!!!! We screamed and cheered her on, then ran to the beer garden and met her.

How exciting. 1:01:22. Still slower than some of the crazies in my age group, but the fastest of the all-women relay teams and quite frankly, a time I'm very proud of. We stuck around for the awards and got our well-deserved medals. It's not every day you can podium in triathlon, so we ate it up for sure.

So, without further adue, here's the victorious Team Smackdown!!! (We were supposed to be "Diva Smackdown," but who knows what happened to that)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Falling into 2nd Oly Race Report

Race Report-- Camp Pendleton International

Finally. FINALLY! A race I can be proud of, where it all came together (mostly) and my training came through for me. I have to admit, after Iron Girl, I seriously questioned why I wanted to try my hand at an Oly again. That race really sucked the soul out of me....I cannot describe it in appropriate words, but it stripped away some of my love for triathlon and I didn't want that to happen again. But Pendleton was all about revenge on the distance. I was out for blood.

Pre-Race- Woke up insanely early, but was probably the last to hit transition around 6am. I blame it all on my Sherpa husband, who is worse than a woman when it comes to leaving the house on time. Parked my bike in transition right next to Carrie and Ly Ly, then got body marked and mugged for photos. I took my Sportlegs an hour before start time, then headed off to the start with my hubby and all the girls.

The Swim-Wow. It didn't look as long as Iron Girl, but it certainly felt longer! An out and back course, in the saltwater, but with no waves or fear or bizarre ocean creatures. I was in the second to last wave, and waded into the water toward the front. The whole time, we were all saying, "why do we do this? What are we putting ourselves through?" Seriously, it never fails to creep into my head during every single race.

Eventually, the horn blew and we were off. I tried to grab some feet and draft off of some of the faster girls in my heat, but nobody was swimming in a straight line! At one point, this random girl swam horizontal in front of us. It was almost comical, but I was getting annoyed because my plan was to draft.....and it just wasn't working out. I eventually settled into a groove and stayed there for the entire swim. It was pretty boring, to be sure, and the smell of the exhaust from the jetskis all around us was starting to turn my stomach a little bit. Bleh! Finally, I could hear the announcer say "and the first of the blue caps is coming in to the swim finish!" and I was pretty excited, because I was only five minutes or so away from the finish and honestly, I'm quite happy to be 5 minutes behind the swim leaders....

So, out of the water, looked at my watch, and it said 28:16. I felt phenomenal, and I let out a "score!" after I saw my time. HUGE smile across my face. Hubby thought I came out of the water too fast and was afraid I was going to be too tired to finish the rest of the race, but he was dead wrong. I had a comfortable swim and felt fantastic. Iron Girl was not a true swimmer's mile, but this one certainly felt like the real deal. I couldn't wait to get on my bike.

T1: HUGE run to transition. Up the sand to the asphalt, and then a long run into the transition area. I got out of my wetsuit as soon as I hit the asphalt.....I didn't want to try getting out in the sand and becoming a sand donut like Coach last year. I also knew the timing pad was ahead, and I would rather have the wetsuit removal come off of my swim time than be included in my bike time. (No transition times for this race--- the bike leg takes the brunt of the transition) I got back to my rack and noticed that there weren't many bikes out yet. And Coach's bike was still there, too. Woohoo! (Secretly, I wanted to make her sweat a little before I let her beat me...I mean, I did have a 5 minute head start. How embarassing if I lost it in the swim of all places?!) Grabbed my socks and overzealously placed them on my feet......ripping a huge gaping hole into the heel of the right sock. Oops. I just kept going with my low rent ripped sock, and headed out of transition. I saw 33 minutes on my watch at this time, so transition took at least 5 minutes. I could have run through the sand, but in retrospect, there really was no need. It all worked out.

Bike: Ah, the reason why I love triathlon. I love the bike, and this was no exception. From the start, I felt strong and determined to attack the course. I was in the big ring for all but two hills, and really pushed the downhills and flats to make up time. At Iron Girl, I got passed on all the hills, to the point where I was mentally deflated. Today, not a single person passed me going uphill. What a shock! I must admit, that Stuart Mesa hill seems like a little pansy compared to the Santiago Rides I've been doing every week with the girls. And having my hardcore bike training partner's voice in my head, shouting profanity at me while I climb, also seemed to egg me on a little. "You climb like a pussy!" (Yes, she says that.....and yes, it motivates me to try harder!)

I felt like I was flying out there......until I hit the turn around and caught my first glimpse of Coach on my tail. She started 5 minutes behind me in the swim, but there was no way she was more than 2 or 3 minutes behind me on the bike. I freaked out! The fear of her beating me badly on the bike kept me focused and motivated all the way back to transition. Thankfully (or not), I held her off and made it to transition by myself.

Nutrition wise, I only managed to take 2 sips of my gel and a few sips of electrolyte drink.....I craved water and that was all I really took in during the bike....everything else made me feel a little nauseous.

T2: Too many choices here. Do I bring my gel? Is it hot enough for Endurolytes? Should I spray sunscreen all over? Do I take my Arm Coolers? Next time, I'm eliminating the choices. If it's there, I'm wearing it/taking it/eating it. Otherwise, it's not allowed in transition. The Arm Coolers decision probably took a few too many seconds....I opted to forego them this time around, since it was still overcast and I wasn't very hot.

Run: Oh, my not-so-favorite part of triathlon. My nemesis. My limiter. But today, I had a secret weapon.


I have to admit, when I left transition I started to choke back some tears. My legs felt phenomenally strong and I wasn't feeling cardiovascularly challenged...but thinking of Lucy started to upset me......Since crying has resulted in hyperventilation on two occasions with me so far this month during my runs, I decided to save it for later.

The run was a 2-loop course, sort of t-shaped, so that you did a lot of back-tracking and got to see your competition multiple times. My first 5K was awesome. I felt strong, but the whole time there was a stalker behind me, coming up faster and faster. I knew that I would be overtaken eventually, but I just didn't know when...... Right before the turnaround, Coach (aka "marauding water buffalo") made her move, but not before she humiliated me in front of the Ladera Cyclery boys. It's all good, though. I've got a thick skin. Yes, Coach, even with a hangover and no formal plan post-Ironman, you can still hand it to me. I bow down. I'm not worthy.

Anyway, with that over with, I finished the first loop and headed out to loop #2. I was more tired this time around, and starting to get hot. At the first aid station, I could feel myself getting nauseous. The only way to keep it in check was to walk and douse myself in water. Anyway, the pain really hit at the top of the big hill, probably around mile 5. I saw Coach at the turnaround and told her I was starting to lose it. I think she secretly wanted to see me hurl....apparently you could see my face making that pre-barf look that is oh-so-sexy. I reserved that honor for my friend's mom.

Somehow, I managed to finish this race. I kept moving forward, backed off the pace, and tried to hold in the throw up. I was so relieved to see the finish chute, with my hubby and pals cheering me on. There was no sprint in me today....I just trudged over the line and stopped....and then threw up. Ah, gotta love it. I can't seem to control myself at the finish line these days, but you know what they say--- if you can't taste it, you didn't try hard enough.

I think I broke a 1-hour 10K for the first time in my life during this race. In fact, I'm pretty darn positive I did, and to be honest....I can't help but attribute it to Lucy. Surely, it took some divine intervention to keep me in the chase out there. Oh, and I am so thankful to Robin for her post-race Motrin and Denise for the miracle spray.....I have never felt so much muscle pain in my life!

Overall, I am exceedingly happy with this race. Yes, it took a lot out of me. Yes, it was hard. But I wasn't tortured like Iron Girl. The bike was amazing and fun. And the run was comforting because I saw all of my teammates around every corner. We had an amazing group at Pendleton today, and I was so, so proud to be able to share the course with them and to call them my training partners and friends. I never thought I was capable of throwing down an Olympic like I usually do with the Sprint, but I came pretty close today. (For me, at least--- the top age groupers are super human!) Personal bests in all three sports, and I had a blast in the process. I'm going to miss my Divas. :(

Friday, July 18, 2008

For Lucy

Isn't it funny how somebody you never met can touch you? Can strike a chord so perverse that you think about them in your daily life? Mourn for them? Want to make right by them?

Well, I'm usually not one of those people, but this past week I became enthralled in a fellow message boarders' fight for life. I read her logs, seeing how she'd completed Florida 70.3 in May with a smile on her face. How she was confused and scared about the gradual numbing of her body and limbs. And then I watched as her typing degraded and she was sent to the hospital...... Christine Rusher died of a brain tumor/aneurysm earlier this week, proving that life is too short and that nothing is fair. She was dedicated to triathlon to the bitter end, and she left many, many friends behind.

I never knew her. I never knew her, but her loss is really hurting me right now. I think it's because it happened so fast, and it could happen to any one of us at any time. It's just so scary, and sad. Christine (screen name "Lucy") had a dream of completing a 5K in under 30 minutes, and I understand she came pretty close to this goal several times. This evening, a race director in Florida is holding a 5K in Christine's memory. The internet world who knew her is signing up virtually to compete in this 5K, with some dedicating portions of their run in races this weekend in lieu of the actual physical race. And you know what? I signed myself up! I'm in.

Tomorrow morning, I will set out to conquer my 2nd Olympic distance triathlon ever. Instead of being petrified, I am going to be thankful. Thankful that I can swim in the ocean with friends. Thankful that I have the ability to hop on my gorgeous bike and cruise some amazing Southern CA coastline. ANd thankful that I have this run, where I can conquer my mental demons and try to make Christine proud. No, I never knew her.....but I think I will tomorrow.

I'm attaching a link to the thread that really got to me......As you can see, she's touched many people.

Friday, July 11, 2008



Just had to get that out of the way. We've told quite a few people that we had big news for them, and they all suspect that we are with bebe'. No sir. Not me.

We're moving.

Oh, it's so bittersweet. In 2005, when we left Denver, we promised we'd get back in 5 years or less. It was just for my career, and then we'd drop it all and come back to our families. Well, that's a heavy burden to carry around with you. I have never felt like I was able to "settle" because of this promise. We rent. We don't make many friends or have a social life. We spend all of our vacation time going back to Colorado to visit family.

Last week, I snapped. I had been looking at our company's internal job postings for a while, and a position popped up last Thursday that sounded intriguing. I made a few calls and found out it was in a department headed up by a woman I'd worked with in the past. I knew we got along well, so I called her up and had a good chat. After getting my boss and old boss' approval to apply, I threw my resume into the mix and was asked to fly out to Denver to interview yesterday. (Yes, in the middle of my PEAK WEEK for Pendleton! The horror!!) So I flew out yesterday for the day, and went through a complete grilling by my future bosses and new potential team. I suppose I should be happy they took this seriously, but I was expecting a casual lunch and then to have them hand me the job. Apparently I had to earn it and beat out the internal candidates.

So, today was the day. They made their decision and extended the offer.

It's a lateral move "rank-wise." Salary stays the same, but do you know what that means between CA and CO? Well, a lot. I mean, even income tax is cut in half. Maybe I'll be able to buy a rotisserie chicken for less than $12 at the grocery store. (I'm really hung up about this at the moment....please, let me have this moment)

I wish I could say I am bouncing off the walls with excitement, but it's really quite bittersweet. I've grown to love Southern California. I love the beaches.....the weather.....the canyons..... And I absolutely adore my triathlon team. It's seriously changed my life and given me the most amazing friends to train with and get support from. I am devastated to be leaving them, and it really is the hardest part about this move. My goal is to keep being coached by my Coach and to join a tri club somewhere in Denver.....need to figure out which one has the most single guys because my 26-year old sister is a hottie and needs a date!!!

Anyway, the big move should happen around Labor Day. Until then, I'm going to concentrate on Pendleton and then aim for my last race with the Divas to be Santa Barbara. It was my first race last year, and I really loved it. It's almost like coming full circle.

So, that is the big news. Hubby is bouncing off the walls. In-laws are super excited. My family is elated. And I'm sad, but at least I'll have someone to go shopping with on a Saturday afternoon. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I'm Alive!

Seriously, I feel like #5 today.
It was my first time in the ocean since Dave Martin was attacked by a Great White in Solana Beach back in April. Dave died while swimming with a group of his triathlon team members, doing a morning practice that every one of us sort of takes for granted. I don't. I was flipping out about this return to the ocean since it hit the workout calendar. I know that the odds are excruciatingly low and that sharks don't seek us humans out when we are swimming, but it really hit far too close to home for me and I found myself thinking about it non-stop over the past few months.
I honestly don't know how I didn't cry my eyes out as I hit the water with my team and headed out to the first buoy. I guess I just felt like I needed to get this done to overcome my know, this "Year of Overcoming Fears" has sort of bled into two years, and I'm grabbing life by the balls and trying to deal with my emotions. So I followed my group, stayed in the middle until I felt comfortable, and then went about my mile swim.
Was it pleasurable? Hell no. But somehow the thought of shark was tempered by Sublime's "Caress Me Down" (I got this cool new music phone and I have some really random favorites that I listened to before I got in the water) and I just held off the bad thoughts. But I did think of Dave out there. How he probably didn't know what was happening and was hopefully enjoying his swim before he was bitten. And how he would probably be right back out there in the water swimming if it had happened to somebody else.

Anyway, didn't mean to go so off course with this post. Was originally intending it to be tongue in cheek, but I can't deny the fact that with every stroke, I thought of this man I never had the honor of meeting. While what happened to him gave me this fear, I do think that somehow he got me through that swim today, too.
Dave, rest in peace. Thanks for the swim.

Monday, July 7, 2008

More Randomness

I've been tagged. I'm supposed to tell you 6 random things about myself now, thanks to lovely Leah at Because I Tri. I'm going to do my best to find some random stuff, trust me.

1. In 6th grade, I traveled the state of Colorado playing the tenor recorder with the Recorder Club at my elementary school. I play a mean Recorder Rock.

2. I had 2 rats in college named Sex & Candy. (You know, the song?!) Except I returned Sex because he was totally unhealthy and ended up getting Wesley instead. He didn't match the whole Sex & Candy theme, but he was paired with my roommates' rats, Buttercup and Valerie. Yes, we had the Princess Bride rats. I loved them!

3. I hate cilantro more than anything else I hate on Earth. It is vile and it makes me angry when I see it.

4. When I was a kid taking riding lessons with my pony (and these weren't ordinary riding lessons--- I was with some serious "A'" circuit trainers with other motivated, talented riders and we oftentimes had entire lessons without stirrups) and I was in incredible pain, I use to sing the Don't Do Drugs song that they had on TV at the time, over and over and over again. "Users are losers, and Losers are Users, so don't do drugs, don't do drugs!" Yeah, you wonder why I'm so by the book now? It's because of riding lessons.

5. I didn't take my husband's last name. I don't like it, and I don't see why I have to give up my identity just because he's the man. To each his own, but thankfully he supports me 100%.

6. Every once and a while, the old Boston accent creeps into my conversations. It's usually when we start talking about lobsters and parking the car in Harvard yard. It's particularly bad after I speak with my grandparents or when I spend a summer in Maine.

The rules:
Link to the person who tagged you.
Post the rules on your blog.
Write six random things about yourself.
Tag six people at the end of your post.
Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog
Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

I guess I tag Confessions of a Chinese Food Addict and Amanda so that they can experience the fun and excitement of being random. ;)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Danskin Denver race report

Well, the race this weekend was hilarious.

On Thursday, I taught my mother how to shift her bicycle. She screamed every time it flipped into the granny gear and her legs turned over as fast as they could. So I took the bike in for some rear derailleur adjustments, then called it a day. Her mantra was "keep moving forward, and put it in "overdrive" on the hills" --- how crazy that her bike actually has a gear in the back called Overdrive!!

Expo was a blast--- my mom and sister loved Sally Edwards and were going around yelling "you go girlfriend!" all day long. Mom even bought a Danskin sweatshirt, Crocs, and shoved her bag full of swag....totally into it! But you should have heard the moaning and groaning about the 4am wakeup.

I had packed everything up the night before, and when the clock turned to 4am, I proceeded to beat on everyone's door and yell "triathlon time!!!" Nobody was excited, and we only managed to get to the parking lot 15 minutes after transition opened. (this in itself is still impressive, trust me)

It started with a 1.5 mile walk from the parking lot to the race site, UP a huge, never-ending hill that would eventually be the bike course. Talk about nightmare. We even witnessed a poor girl flip her bike going downhill....she couldn't feel her arms and I stayed with her until the paramedics showed up. Great start to the day...... I then showed my Mom how to rack her bike --- see bike here:

Since she is 5'1, she looks pretty silly pedaling totally upright with the saddle so low. :) She was sick with a horrible cold and couldn't stop coughing or blowing her nose. Her sports bra was stuffed with tissues and cough drops, but she was determined to do this bike ride. (I was secretly happy about this, even though the bike was to her detriment...she had a fever this morning and the Dr. says she now has bronchitis!!!......I just don't think I could handle doing a triathlon on a Trek Navigator!! I could not live those race pictures down. Ever)

Anyway, as the swimmer, I was in the 17th wave, starting a full hour after the first wave went off. They shortened the swim for fear of the Reservoir being too cold, which is total crap because it was a beautiful 65 degrees and felt like bathwater! Anyway, it was pretty windy, and over the course of the hour, the buoys started drifting closer and closer to shore! We were told it was a 400 yard swim, and the first elite swam it in 4:30, so I thought that that seemed plausible. However, with every 5-10 minutes, the course seemed shorter and shorter. I swam it in 3:38, and I swam faster than I've ever swam before, but it was nowhere near 400 yards!! 275 max, I think?? Anyway, it was INSANE. I couldn't catch a breath and just hacked my way through transition and for the rest of the day. I blame it on the air. Behold scary ear swim photo. I look like a turd:

My mom, who has only done 3 bike rides this year (two 8-milers and a 14-miler, all of them 2 weeks ago), ran that little bike out of transition and took off on a hilly, technical 10-mile bike course. I was so worried for her, you have no idea.....partly because I know what I'm like when I'm out on course, but mostly because she was on this rinky dink upright bicycle amidst fancy bikes and lots and lots of traffic. I sat at the bottom of the last big hill for almost an hour for her to return, flipping out every time I saw the support vehicle return. At any rate, I FINALLY saw her and was so excited-- I felt like we won the race! I ran up the hill as she biked it, cheering her on and watching her spin in her granny gear with a big ol' smile on her face.

She jumped off the bike and then RAN into transition. She later said she thought she was going to fall over because her legs were so heavy, but she was running on adrenaline and wanted our team to do well. I was so, so happy. Isn't she cute?!

I was psyched and totally not worried about my sister-- the pilot -- who was running the 5K. She was wearing sweatpants and a t-shirt -- the only person with her legs and arms covered in the entire race. She feels "fat" and "uncomfortable" in shorts. INSANE!! I was a little angry with her for the wardrobe, but whatever. Anyway, she took off with my Garmin and I guess she was miserable the entire time. I later learned that she had had nothing to drink that morning, had eaten a piece of pizza and a cookie for breakfast, and that she started cramping very early on in the race. Still, she managed to knock out a 35-minute 5K and came into the finish strong--- I threw a pink lei at her, but she was so distracted that she wouldn't even acknowledge me!!! (I lei'd her afterwards to officially do it Diva-style, since she was at Pacific Coast with us last year)

Anyway, I put my mom in the finisher's chute with her, and they crossed the finish line holding hands and the announcer said, "that's the relay team coming in, Captain Bob's Girls!" I ran over to my Dad and he was crying he was so proud. My mom has lost 22 lbs since April and is looking and feeling better than she ever has in her entire life. He was so impressed with her doing this-- it made me smile to see him so proud and happy. I didn't want to be in the finish line photo, because I only contributed 3 minutes to the race and I've already been across it enough times.
I wanted the first timers to feel that finish line glory. I think they loved it.

So, that was the race. It was nerve-wracking for me because I hadn't been there to make sure they were adequately trained, but somehow we miraculously survived and my Mom and sister are feeling very proud of themselves!!!

I guess next year my mom is entertaining the idea of doing the whole thing. I'm psyched! But now I need to find her a group like the Divas and keep her healthy and active....and if I can get my sisters to follow suit, we'll be a triathlon crazy family. ;) Dad's already signing up for the Bolder Boulder 10K next May.

So, that's my race report! We were 8th out of 9 family relay teams, and our time put us 1100th out of 1600 overall. So it could have been worse! But this was an instant where I just felt happy that we finished.....