Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Got Chipotle on my Mind

Apparently, I live in this SUPER BAD A$$ Fantasy world in which I am a.....uh....SUPER BAD A$$ and can do anything.

Unfortunately, this is a fantasy world. Wanna know how I know?

Mr. Tea told me.

OH THANK GOODNESS FOR HONEST SO's! I'd just HATE for my ego to explode all over the kitchen and get chunks in his cofeee...whichbythewayIbrewedaftergettingupearlyonmydayoffjustsohewouldhavecompanythankyouverymuch.

But let's not hold a grudge, shall we?

This is a joyous, giving time of year.

Tell me: is there anything truly wrong with living in a fantasy world? And what gave it away anyway?

Was it the out loud discussions with my "little friends"? Not as in "Say hello to my little friend" but as in "get your fat a$$ up the hill, bee-yotch. I'm hungry and got Chipotle on my mind."


Let's move on.


Another day of swimming. (See? That's total BA. When most people are FREAKING out about getting their miles in, I'm enjoying a swim).

Mostly cos I'm just getting old and swimming is easy on my joints.

And, ssshhhhhh don't tell anyone but


I personally think we need to celebrate our strengths more, don't you?

Yes indeedy.

And I can't think of a place where swimming will be most helpful except when I'm climbing that hill at mile 27, crying, probably limping, definitely cussing, and barely making the time cut-off.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Welcome to the Gun Show


Dats right! It's a gym kind of day. Just me 'n the meatheads throwing weights around, flexing in front of the mirror, talking protein shakes, and routines, comparing bulging biceps....


That's exactly how it went.

But, I started the day by running. A nice little 4 mile recovery run. Then I did 40 minutes on the bike consisting of 25....YES....TWENTY STINKIN FIVE minutes of standing up and sitting down and standing up and sitting down....who comes up with this stuff?

It was after the run and the hell ride that I did my lifting. Of course, it was some ridiculous circuit thing consisting of 30 reps for EVERY exercise. Hey and just for fun, let's do it again....


If I only had a brain.

My legs were jiggly....and for ONCE, NOT in the cellulite type of way.

Tomorrow is a swim. A nice relaxing 3600m swim consisting of speed intervals.

The day AFTER weight training.

No problemo.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

And they're OFF!! Part Deux

I awoke this morning READY.TO.GO.

It's my long run day. The first of many to come. But first I must eat breakfast.

I head downstairs and notice the chill in the air and radiating up my feet, thru my legs and up my spine.

Well, now, ain't that just fine? It's a wee cold this morning. Since I am De-wimping myself, I need to follow the 7 step process.
First step, wait until it warms up.
Second step, wait until it warms up.

This weekend, I am going to focus on steps 1 & 2.

If I wait until it warms up, I can drink more coffee.

If I wait until it warms up, I can (stealing a look over at the plate) have one of those drippy, gooey, cinnamony, delicious, homemade, cinnamon rolls for breakfast.


But they are looking at my with those big round eyes. Look, they're even crying.

Those aren't tears; it's icing. And no, you are not having a cinnamon roll before running.


Let's just go upstairs to get dressed. We'll figure out breakfast later.

I sneak upstairs to the darkened room. Mr. Tea is sleeping. I grab a slingshot (bra), socks, but then I'm stuck on what to wear.

Y'see, us Irish people do 3 things really well: drink, fight, and stop traffic with our glowing white legs.

I turn to Mr. Tea, who is sleeping, and ask "Should I go with shorts or tights?"

HRUMPFANA, he replies.

Yes, I agree. Shorts is the way to go. Parents! Divert your children's eyes. This is not something they are ready to see!

Now, top. Do I go with the fleece or do I go with the technical shirt that I got at my last race. Any thought, honey?

Snort, smfizzleharufna.

Yes, true. If I wear my marathon top then when people see me they will think, "Ah look at that dedicated marathon runner out doing her long slow run. What a thing of beauty and joy!" If I stick with the fleece, those same people might call 911 when they see me slogging along."

With the tough decisions out of the way, I'm ready to go run 7 miles.

Yes, 7 miles.

All this for 7? Why 7?

Because it's between 6 and 8.

And now, my follow peeps, with my face covered in is time to go run!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And they're OFF!!!

Dear Diary,


I am SO Excited!

I got all packed up, and....



cuz that's just how I roll.

A few random thoughts I had while swimming:

"I wonder if that guy sitting on the bench is waiting for me to get out of the water to tell me how I awesome I am?"

"Am I moving or am I staying still and the black line is moving?"

"Hey, this is pretty eas.......ack!...cough....took it too much water! Someone help me!"
"Just put your feet down you weanie"

"I can't hold this pace for one more meter!"
"yes, you can."
"No, I can't
"Ok, fine you weanie"

"Hey, you've called yourself a weanie twice today"

"Why do I refer to myself in the 3rd person?"

Tough: "3100m isn't much shorter than Ironman."
Me: "Yea, what's your point?"
Tough:"We should do more. Just for old time's sake"
Legs: "Speak for yourself. I have to carry this fat a$$ on a long run tomorrow. btw--did you ever take off that 5lbs? Cuz it sure don't feel like it"
Me: "You just need to shut up. You wouldn't be complaining had you finished that set of 40 squats."
Legs:"You can't pin this one on me. I was all for until you made me do that stupid Warrior 3 for like 10 minutes. Who pulls that kind of crap?"

"I got CHAMPION in my blood!"

A very important part of going long is being able to maintain your focus. As you can tell, I do this EXCEPTIONALLY well.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stupid is as Stupid does

Some people have to work really hard at being stupid.

Me? It's as natural as eating.

Several months ago, I was talking to a friend of mine. A friend who regularly runs 100 mile and 50 mile trail races and wins. He was telling me about the Greenland 50k and said that I should put it on my list.

A few weeks later, I told him, "Hey, I'm gonna run the 50k". To which he replied by jumping up and down yelling, "You're gonna love it! This will be a blast!"

Fast forward to today. I'd pretty much decided that I wasn't going to do the 50k. I was going to do other shorter runs instead. I just happen to run into my friend who says, "We're still on for the Greenland race, right?"


"Come on. You know you can do it. It's all mental"

Me (thinking to myself): Except for that part where the snow and mud and cold and sore muscles come in to play.

Me (saying out loud): Uh yea, sure. I just have to start running...I mean y'know running real distances again. No problem, I have what 6 months to train?

Friend: Well, it's in the Spring, so not really 6 months.

Me: Right right. Yea, I'm in.

I've run a marathon with only running 14 miles. Ok, it hurt a bit, but a 50k is only about 7 miles longer than a marathon right?

Up mountains

in mud

and snow

and they have time limits

Give me a week, and I can finish.


I can do this.

I just have to go run.

And put together a training plan.

And buy some new trail shoes.

And start taking "Anti-wimp" pills.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Expect the Unexpected

Many of you blog-followers know that every year for the past 4 years, I've done a local race called the Rattlesnake Tri. This race is in my backyard--as in I can walk to the race. It's one of the best races and most organized in the state. I love it. It consists of an Oly tri on Sat and a Sprint on Sunday. The bling is really cool, but if you do the Crazy back to back (both races), you leave feeling like you were just on Christmas week on Oprah. (I have the rattlesnake belt buckle to prove it).

Why do I bring this up?

Because my favorite RD's have announced TWO longer races. One would be a 100 mile tri (roughly 3/4 the distance of Ironman) and the 2nd would be 150mile tri (just over IM).

For endurance junkies, this is off the charts "cool" because we now have more options. Since 5430 was taken over by Ironman (Check it out), the local community has been split about losing a favored 70.3 to IM and watching registration fees jump from $100 to +$200. Harvest Moon is still around (and another local fave); it's also a 70.3.

However, if you're one of those psycho basterds where 70.3 just isn't long enough, you were out of luck....unless you want to spend your vacation racing instead of relaxing.

TA-DA! Now we have two. Who doesn't love a local race put on by really great people? Best of all, no more spending the money travelling to a 140.6 (branded or not).

Afterall, I would much rather spend my vacation on vacation.

(If you're interested in visiting the website, it's It's not up and running yet, but they expect to have it up in Jan 2010.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Maintenance, Distance, Speed

Doing tri's is bulk work--not in volume (unless you're training for IM or a half)--but in how I have always thought about training.

Training for a tri is swimbikerun.

It's not swim.



Mentally, I've always grouped the 3 things together. That makes sense, right? Afterall, the key aspect of triathlon is the TRI piece.

My problem has been that I have allowed it to dictate my training. When I was training for Ironman, everything was about going long. When I train for a sprint, everything is about speed.

In 2010, I am taking a completely different approach.

Swimming (my greatest strength), my goal is maintenance. I am not going to try to get faster. Hopefully, I won't get slower. I just want to stay where I am.

For my new love (cycling), I want to build my endurance. I have one century planned this coming year. I'm also considering doing Elephant Rock again. After my great 70.3 bike performance in 2009, I really want to continue to improve in longer distances and in more hilly/mountain areas.

Because the last couple of years have been about going long, in 2010 my running will be short and hard this year. My goal is to improve my running speed. I have many races planned from 5k up to the half marathon in which I'm really going to push my comfort levels. Last year, I pr'd in the 5k. But I haven't PR'd in the half marathon since 2003. I don't think a PR is possible in 2010 (given my most recent half times), but I will get faster this year.

oops....this post will have to be continued later....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Return

At the end of every season, I like to take off a couple of months. It's downtime from "training" and more like exercising for the sheer fun.

This year, in particular, doing any type of exercise was difficult. After one of those "out of the mouths of babes" type of moments I realized what happened.

My son informed me that I'm a "giver". He says, "you give and give and give. You never take. Today you need to take. We want you to."

Well, looking back over the past 2 months, I realized that I gave too much. After giving too much, all that was left was this empty shell. Finding time to exercise felt impossible; finding the ENERGY to exercise felt impossible.

That's when it hit me. We all have times in our lives where we need to take care of other people or we have emergencies that need our attention. But, we can't live like that and doing so for an extended period of time turns us into self-sacrificing empty shells.

The past is the past. It's time to move forward.

Or in my case, it's time to make me the priority again.

This morning, instead of working and doing things around the house, I dropped the boys at school and did what I used to do: head to the gym. I ran on the treadmill. I lifted weights. Tomorrow, I'm swimming for the first time in almost 2 months. Swim--that is if I don't sink.

I can handle losing a little fitness, but I won't lose myself again.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's over

Several days after being taken off the ventilator and dialysis, Uncle Joe passed away this morning.

Thanks for all your kind comments and notes. I really appreciate them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Here's an idea.

Last night, my uncle almost died.

We still don't know if he will make it. He is in critical condition in the Cardiac ICU.

In the ambulance, he was shocked 6 times. In a house filled with over 25 people, NOT ONE PERSON knew how to do CPR. NOT ONE!

It only takes a couple of hours to learn. Your certification lasts two years, and you can re-certify online. It doesn't get any easier than that.

For your family, neighbors, and friends, make it your New Year's Resolution to learn.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

what goes up, must come down

Over the last two months, I've been living in a fog. I think life will be settling down soon. Maybe I can go back to feeling normal.

I know this is the time of year where many other bloggers are doing their "year in review" and making plans for next year. I'm kinda-sorta doing that. I'm just going to skip the review.

As the months have passed, I have decided to quit long-course tri's for awhile. I don't know exactly what I'm going to do next year. I don't even know if I'm going to race at all.

I do know, however, that I really want to become a "cyclist". There's so much for me to learn. I've improved alot over the past few years, but I know that my technical skills still have a long way to go. Next year, I'm going to sign up for the Sunrise Century. (If you go to the bottom of the webpage, you can watch a short video of the course). It seems like the next step up for me.

The best part, though, is that the race offers weekly training rides in which coaches go through skills training, endurance, climbing, riding in packs, nutrition, all aspects cycling. AND I'd get to meet other cyclists of all different levels and abilities.

I'm also going to do Elephant Rock again (which is easier than Sunrise).

Hopefully in 2011, I will be ready for The Triple Bypass. I also really want to do Ride the Rockies, which is a 6 day ride through the mountains. The distance ranges from about 380-450 miles. The route changes every year. The challenge with RTR is that it's a lottery. It's tougher to plan.

That's long-range planning though. For now, I'm just going to ride. Next year, I'll do Elephant Rock and Sunrise, and see what happens from there.

I just remembered. A friend of mine asked me to run an ultra with him. Right now, my heart really isn't in it. But who knows? The weather will be a huge factor. We've already gotten a lot of snow, and we're not even in our snowiest months yet. I have plenty of time to think about it. I want to make sure that I have plenty of time to train on the course. Training would not be fun if the course is covered in snow and/or mud.....because my WUSS factor is off the charts nowadays.

As Forrest Gump says, "That's all I have to say about that."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Means to an end

I was reading Titanium's blog today, and I realized that I had withdrawn from blogging. Not that any of you have any expectations of me....

This past month has been really hard. We've had to deal with the passing of two friends, a suicide attempt, the heart attack of a special grandparent...then the surgery, then the return home, then a collapse in the middle of the floor, seizure, internal bleeding, another surgery and several more days in the hospital, another loss of a friend, business issues, home life issues, sleepless nights and finally and almost inconsequentially at this point, our 1992 car breaksdown and is irreparable.

I'm not a drama queen at all. In fact, the reason I did not post about all of this is because at a certain point, I know, readers will say "It's just not possible. She must be making this up".


What I have realized is that after awhile, you just become numb to everything. For awhile, I was thinking "What next", but that's over now.

Now, I'm just very tired.

A little over a week ago, I ran a half Mike's recommendation. I was planning on skipping it.

During this "race", I had not one, not two, but three emotional breakdowns. (I will bet you money that they happened right in front of the race photogs). At the end of the third, I was so emotionally and physically exhausted that I didn't think I would be able to finish.

I did, but not for glory or getting a medal. It was just because I had no way of getting back to the train station except to following the marathon route.

I was reading T's blog today, and I realized that the worst thing that I could have done is gone into hiding. I didn't allow myself enough downtime to fully process everything that has taken place. It might have saved me a few emotional outbursts, but at least it came out.

There's more to this story, but I will have to save it for another time.

Today is my birthday. We're making homemade pizza and eating alot of cake tonight.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Personal Victory

Here's where I wax poetic.

Yesterday, I felt like I did after running my first marathon....for those of you who have never run a marathon: imagine getting hit by a truck as you're crossing the street. You stand up and think "WTF?" and it happens again.

That pretty much describes how I felt yesterday. I still hadn't warmed up after drinking 10 or 11 gallons of tea, I couldn't sit, stand, or lay down without something hurting, and I started falling asleep walking from the kitchen to the living room.

Needless to say, the race results really didn't hit me until today.

Everyone who read my blog has been the most incredible group of supporters over the last year. At each point, I quietly dedicated a piece of the road to you.

Cuz I'm nice like that.

Today when I was at the gym doing my "active recovery" swimming, I felt like the weight of the world had lifted. I never really wanted to do the race, but I had to do it.

It wasn't that I had to prove that I could go the distance, I've done it before. It wasn't that I had to prove that I could PR in all 3 events in ONE day. I didn't really even care if I had a little PR or a big one.

I simply had to do the race.

As Billy put it, it was a way for me to overcome the "Idaho Tragedy".

Sometimes you don't realize something bothers you until you have been avenged.

I know that my reasons were ego driven. I know that all y'all would love me know matter what. But it was all about me.

That exact thought hit me when I started running. I was running and running. I was cruising...until I got halfway.

Then I realized that I didn't want to do this anymore. I walked/ran the last half of the marathon.

I knew that the PR was mine and all I had to do was keep moving to get it.

The PR didn't matter at that point. I realized that my heart is no longer in long course triathlon. Maybe in a few years, I'll have the desire to go back and exact revenge on Ironman. Or maybe I'll want to tackle Nationals in the Half Iron.

I just no longer feel like I have to do it.

But for now, I'm done. Today I feel absolutely fantastic about my race. There will always be people faster than me, and there will always be people slower than me. But Saturday's race was all mine.

I felt whole again.

Mike and I are going to sit down and plot out my races for next year but expect to see Oly races, sprints, maybe an aquabike, and most definitely century rides; of course, a couple of marathons sprinkled in (just to keep me honest).

In 5 weeks, I'm running my birthday half marathon. No pressure to perform, just a little birthday celebration with 10,000 of my closet friends.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

70.3 Race Report

Ummm, this is a picture of the finish.
It's here because I can't get it to move to the bottom.

The white sweat shirt is Jordan, I'm in the shorts, and Justin is somewhat hidden. They ran the last quarter of a mile with me.

NOW....let's get to the race.

Here's the spoiler!
I got my PR.

Now it happened is quite the story...isn't it always?

The weather: gonna be a cold, wet, windy day. Since I'm the biggest wuss around, I wasn't looking forward to being cold.

But ya gotta do what ya gotta do to be an incredible athlete comme moi.

In this picture, I am already swimming. If you look out further you'll see what looks like a dark shadow in the water. Somewhere in that dark muck is me. I tried to smile for the camera, but you can't really see it.

uh, I'm not in this picture either.

Or this one, but the sky was pretty wasn't it?

About the swim, I went out too fast, caught myself and starting to regroup. My goal was to negative split, but I was already cold and knew that my body was doing what it could just to keep me warm. Just as I was rounding the halfway point, I noticed that the AG women's leaders and pro's had just come around the corner. I didn't know what my time was, but I knew that if I was a little behind the leaders that I was doing well.

I wanted to negative split the swim. I don't think I did it, but I don't know. My effort didn't decrease but it felt like I had to work harder to maintain my speed.
As I approached the beech, I could see Mike.
I knew he didn't see me, so I stood up to fast to yell MIKE and fell right down on my face.
Yea, hope the photographers got THAT one.

After righting myself, I looked at my watch....thinking that the swim felt slow....and my time had to be around 40 minutes.
No was a 7 minute 1.2 mile swim PR.
I started screaming at Mike.
That's when I remembered that I still had a bike and run to complete....calm down missy....we got's a long day ahead of us. (Oh, this picture IS me. Dude, I'm RIPPED. Look at those shoulders--and ignore the fact that I can't get my wetsuit off). Also note the number of bikes racked. Yea, one of the first out of the water baby.

Ooops, out of order...I'm in the center of the picture running uphill. I know, it doesn't look like I'm running. Let's just say I was.

Me JUST out of the water and not yet realizing that I PR'd by 7 minutes. bike pictures, but here's where the story get's interesting. I get on my bike and know instantly something is wrong.
NO....not ONE thing but TWO things.
I will not say what happened, but I will tell you that my bike was sabotaged. One thing can be replaced...the other I managed to fix.
To the person that attempted to ruin my day:
1.) Karma is a b!tch.
2.) I'm flattered that I looked like such a threat to you.
3.) I still managed a PR.
About the bike: AWESOME....I KILLED IT. The biggest PR of the day. I hope I made The Ranch proud. I've worked SO hard on the bike. SO DAMN HARD. Today it paid off with a 53 minute PR. And no, I'm not kidding. I couldn't believe.
I rode the entire distance with a guy from Germany. At halfway, he asked what my goal time was. When I told him, he said, "You keep this pace, and you will easily beat your time." He could climb better than me, but I'd always catch him on the downhills. heh heh. Maybe a little extra weight paid off.
Get this: the 53 minute PR...even beat my AGGRESSIVE goal. The one that I really didn't think I'd hit today.

I pull into transition and see Mike smiling. I found out later that he had just gotten back to the race. He didn't expect to see me for another 30 minutes. (toldya I was fast). He almost missed me.
Here I am making some weird face. sigh....leave it to me to not smile but instead look like I'm trying to decide what to have for dinner. Wait, that's what I WAS doing.

The run....oh's where things take another interesting turn.

Remember the storm? It hit full force on the run. It was so cold so rainy. I just wanted to be off the course. It was the longest half marathon of my life.
Again, another PR by 27 minutes or so....but still awful. My feet were soaked and were squeaking as I ran. It was brutal. Then out of nowhere some guy starts talking to me. We run the second half together. He was doing the relay. He was from NC. The altitude got to him and his family (who did the rest of the relay). We talked and it really made the half marathon go by quickly. It was kinda nice being able to run with a 22 year old.
As we were rounding the last mile, the rain stopped. Wasn't that nice?
Either way, 27 minute PR is no joke. I thought I could do more but given how cold and wet I was, I'll take it.
So I gave away the spoiler at the start, but if you made it this far then there's a little something special waiting for you.
When I finished, there was no food. Apparently, they didn't order enough. I was pretty much starving at this point. I told Mike and the boys that I was going to check results and leave.
The results weren't up. Cold, wet, and hungry was a bad way for me to be. So I left.
Guess what? I'm pretty sure that I got 2nd place. Could be 3rd, but I think I got 2nd. I know I was first out of the water, but I never saw the 1st place woman on the bike. It could be that she went by me and I don't remember. I've been waiting and waiting for the results to come up but so far they aren't posted.
So maybe the saboteur was right in messing with my bike. Maybe they saw instantly how they were going to EAT MY DUST.
Good company, good race, all in all a good day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Je crois en.....MOI

Almost daily, I have been reviewing my race day strategies.

I feel ready knowing that I have my visual, verbal, and mental cues ready, and my nutrition plan is ready.

2 days before the race:
This is my last carbo-loading day. Eat up little buckaroo.

1 day before the race:
Eat normally, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Pack up race equipment....and for goodness sakes would you PLEASE remember you RACE HELMET?

Create nutrition baggies: 1 for the swim, 1 for the bike, 1 for the run.

Race day:
Double serving of pancakes with Jelly. (It's my preferred race day breakfast).
Bagel with nutella and almond butter.
Bring a banana with me.

One hour before race, eat banana with 16oz of water.

Set up transition area.

Prior to swim: 1 GU with water.

Pacing: Negative split the entire race and then also the individual segments.
Swim: Start comfortably and pick up speed halfway to the halfway. At the halfway, let all hell break loose. This is your event!

Starting bike: 1 GU immediately with water.
every 20 minutes thereafter another GU.
Calorie goal 250-300 per hour.

Second hour on the bike: Lara bar, bar cut into pieces prior to race + 1 GU.

Third hour on the bike: 3 GU's....making sure that one is taken at the start of the run.

Total nutrition: 1 lara bar and 7 GU's.

Bike pacing:
Miles 1-10: Go moderate-hard. The hills aren't as big as they seem.
Miles 10-15: Go easy-moderate. The climb is harder here, but it's no big deal. Save your legs for later.

Miles: 15-30: CRUISE. This section is slight rolling and flats. Here's where you are going to get you speeds up. Moderate-hard.

Miles 30-40: Do what you can here. The terrain isn't bad, but this is the windy stretch. Take it easy. You'll need your legs for the climb.

Miles 40-56: Climbing climbing climbing. You've been here before. Look at that guy...he's wishing he'd trained a little better....maybe he's thinking he should have ridden the course. It's too late now. You own this course. You should be feel pretty good as you climb Tom Bay Road. Once at the top, you can relax on the downhill before climbing the way to the finish.

Before heading out of transition, stuff 9 GU's into pockets. (I won't need all of those, but I've raced enough to know that I will likely lose a couple along the way).

Take one GU at start of run with 16oz of water.

Run Pacing: This is what it's all about, take a few longer faster strides at the begining, then settle into your pace. The first section has the steepest hills. If you're a wienie, go ahead and walk them. It's just a PR you're chasing. No big deal. I'm sure you'll sleep fine tonight.

Walk through aid stations to drink and take GU as scheduled.

SMILE at the other runners coming toward you. They're not smiling back? Well, you probably won't be either when you're at mile 65.

Drink at all aid stations.

GU every 2 miles or so.

I've ridden the bike route no fewer than 6 times in my training.
I've run the run course no fewer than 12 times.

The course I know. Now's it's up to me to believe in myself to make this happen. I don't expect to control the race.

As long as I control my thoughts and emotions, nothing will stop me from getting this PR.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Grocery Store Adventures

Call me naive.

Call me too trusting.

I can take it.

The other day I was cursing all the (almost 1 c. of) water that poured out all over the counters when I pulled out the veggies that I had bought at the grocery store.

That's when Mike said, "Y'know. They do that on purpose."

Me: "Do what?"

Mike: They spray the veggies so they weigh more when you check out. stunned way....why would they do that? Why would they want to possibly charge me more for eating healthy?

"Come on" sez I, "Next you'll be telling me that bags of chips have gotten smaller over the years."

Mike: I'm just telling you.....

Of course, this little conversation stays in my head all day. Since I go to the store every other day for veggies and fruit, I wondered if he could be telling the truth. If so, think about how much money I'm wasting.

I decided to test his theory.

Every day when I get veggies, as soon as I step up to get them, the sound of thunder plays and then the sprinkler system comes on....soaking not just the veggies, but my arm as well.

Today, I put two and two together.

What are the odds that every day at different times, I just so happen to arrive when the sprinklers are coming on? hmmmm.....not likely.

That's when it hit me. The sprinklers are on motion detectors!! As soon as I get close, they wet down the veggies, so the veggies weigh more!

Time to test my theory.

I go to the store. I check out the produce section.

I look left and right to make sure there are no other customers are around who might disrupt my experiment.

I stand 5 feet away from the leafy greens. I identify the one that I want to buy. I run up to the greens, I grab it....the thunder rolls, I back away fast....the rain comes down.

My arm is dry and so are my leafy greens.

I stand back 5 feet for about 5 seconds when the sprinklers turn off!


My theory has been proved correct!

I must retest it.

I walk over to the brocoli. I stand back. I run up, grab the brocoli and step back. Thunder starts and the rain comes down.

My arm is dry and so is the brocoli.

5 seconds later....the rain stops.

Why those nasty little buggers! I think to myself.

Now the true test...the cost savings.

I go up to the register. The items that I bought today were approximately the same size as the ones I bought on Monday. Therefore, they should weigh within a few ounces of Monday's veggies.

Monday's leafy greens weighed 1.5lbs.

Today, they weighed 1lb. Now, you don't have to be a statistician to understand that a half pound difference is WAY outside the bell curve.

AND in fact, my veggies were almost $2 cheaper.

Mike laughed at my little story, but all I know is that I'm $2 closer to buying my tri bike.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Soloist

The conversation went like this:

Me: Next week, the boys head back to school. It's the last week before things really start getting busy, and I was thinking.....

Mike cuts me off here and says: I think that's a great idea. Load up your pack, take a tent, go spend time in the mountains. I'll take care of the kids, get them to school, pick them up. That's a great idea.

Of course, he was right. That's exactly what I was going to say to him.

When it comes to activites or sports, I have two favorites. Two things that are head and shoulders above the rest.

And, they have nothing to do with swimming, biking, or running.

For me, nothing can beat hiking/snowshoeing and sailing.

Everyone is different. What I get out of being in the mountains or being on the ocean is very different than what you get out of it.

As different as hiking and sailing are, they give me the same thing. It's the sense of how powerful Mother Nature is.

When you climb a mountain, (especially heading into Fall), you can feel the power of the mountain. When a storm comes in, you quickly realize how small we as people are compared to the size and power of the earth.

There isn't a race out there that can duplicate the humbling feelings of climbing.

That's why my other love is sailing. Feeling the ocean below and the wind above always draws up images of Zeus and Poseidon battling it out with small humans stuck in between. Being able to reach down and almost touch the water, as you're flying across, salt water spraying your face.

As glamorous as both sound, they also both require strength. Strength to pull yourself up to the next step or strength to pull in the jibsheets or jump or clearing the boom. Both leave me tired, no make that: exhausted, sore, dirty, and sunburned.

That's another aspect that makes both of those appealing.

Maybe it's the work that goes into them that makes the outcome so special. Maybe it is the work it takes to get to a certain point that makes the beauty of your surroundings, that.much.better.

In the meantime, I'm plotting my course.

I'm packing up my gear, going to the sportman's store for a few must have supplies. Then, I'll be heading up.

See you all on the flipside.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Looking Back

I took on an interesting exercise this morning.

I went through and found all my previous race results. I took all these race results and organized them into an Excel spreadsheet, so I would have them easily available to compare.

Of course, I'm completely aware that only a complete dork would do this.

Between maiden and married names and legal and nicknames, my results are all over the place.

In doing this, I learned some very important things.

1.) I joke around about how slow I am. Until 2006, I was FAST. Speedy damn fast. It was in 2006, that I broke my heel. I wasn't able to run for a very very long time. Since then, I've done so many long distance events that I've completely forgotten that I.AM.FAST.

I just have to get back into that mindset that I'm not a plodder.

I'm still shocked by the fact that I let this "slow" mindset take control of me for so long. Forget the recovery time and then building up endurance again. I'm past all that. I can run hard again.

I'm going to run hard again.

2.) I haven't had a half marathon PR since 2003.

I know I've told you differently.

But I really believed it.

I thought in May of this year, I had a half marathon PR. But I didn't. It wasn't even close. It was the fastest time that I've posted since my accident, but it was not even close to a PR.

What would you do with this information?

Here's what I'm going to do....I don't know when I'm going to go for these goals. I haven't gotten that far.

I'm going to start exacting some revenge. Not alot, but some friendly competition.

My plan for my Oct Half marathon was to PR. Now, given that I know what my "true" PR is, I don't know if I can accomplish that. BUT, the stakes have been raised. I will beat my May time (granted it's a different course).....and I'm going for an overall PR next May.

I also want to head back to San Diego to beat my best ever marathon time. Flat and running at sea's pretty great coming from CO. The last time I ran there, I pr'd but I didn't fuel properly. Imagine what I'll do now.

I used to run a race called Running of the Green Lucky 7k. It's in our snowiest month, and the race is always cold. My fastest time in this race was 35:12. I'm going to start training to beat that time.

Next, remember that "fun" Turkey Trot. Yea, well prior to 2006, I was posting some smokin' fast times. This year, I'm going all out for that 4 mile race. None of that, "will I break 40 min?" crap anymore....nope.....


Saturday, August 15, 2009

The unexpected PR

My Oly "race" was this morning. It fell on my last peak weekend, where I do the oly today then ride 4.5 hours tomorrow.

Although it was in the back of my mind that it would be nice to PR, my goals were much simpler:

1.) Get my groove back on the swim. The Dip n Dash Crash was a fluke. Go out easy and just finish the swim.

2.) The bike: test out nutrition, try a negative split but don't sacrifice the legs to get it.

3.) The run: run steady and hold it.


I've never been so calm before a race. I had a funny dream right before the alarm went off. In the dream, the race was canceled due to a blizzard. For some reason, I was very calm in the dream, and I woke with the same frame of mind.

I ate more than I normally would for an oly race for breakfast. This turned out to be a good thing because I felt great during the race.

The Swim:
(I don't have official times, so these are taken from my watch and garmin. MY times are likely off).

Slow and steady....just get through it.

The swim went well. I had one incident where a woman crossed in front of me just like during the Dip n Dash, but I forced myself to move over and I kept saying "nice and worries, you're just out for a swim."

I sorta swam extra long taking wider turns and trying to stay out of the crowds, but I think it helped.

When I exited the water, my time was 35 minutes, which is by far my slowest swim time. But I was very happy. I was nice and calm, and I got thru it.....that's all I wanted.

The bike:
I've talked about this course over and over. So, here's the main point. I averaged 17.8 out and about 16 on the return.

I was thrilled with my speeds because: 1.) I didn't feel like I pushed it 2.) I had plenty left for the run.

The bike is also my nemesis when it comes to nutrition. My plan was to have 1 gu every 30 minutes (one being at the start). I was thinking my time might come in around the 1:30 mark. I had an extra one in my pocket when I finished, but I'm positive I had my 3 GU's.

Either way, it worked.

The next part of the bike was knowing the course. For the first time in my "racing" experience, I was passing people. I heard people cussing at the hills and complaining about it, but I knew every single hill. I knew which ones give me trouble and I need to take slow, and I know the ones that look tough but are actually quite easy climbs. This benefited me as person after person would pass me at the bottom of a hill only to have me them pass them and leave them behind on the climb.

Of the entire day, the biggest confidence booster of the day was the bike. I was grinning from ear to ear when I got to transition. In fact, the volunteers were commenting on it.

I felt so good on the bike. 40k and it was over like that.

The bike was about a 10 min PR.....again, I'm not exactly sure.

The run:
As you know, I didn't know what to expect here. My running has pretty much been in maintenance mode.

I just wanted to take it slow and steady and run the whole thing.

The nice part about training for a half iron is the "distance perspective" issue. As I'm running the 10k, I'm thinking to myself "two 5k's, piece of cake".

And it was, it was very slow, and I did not push the pace at all. I think my average pace came in around 11:55. It felt very good.

I brought 2 GU's with me for the run and walked through the aid stations.

In fact, when I finished the run, I asked, "could you do that for 7 more miles?" I'm pretty sure I could, today, without the benefit of the taper.

I pr'd here, but I don't know by how much, I think it was a 6 minute PR.

I think I messed around in transition. I wasn't in any hurry to get out. It was my first race in a year, so I made sure that I had everything that I needed.

I'm pretty sure that I lost some time here.


The funniest part of this race is that this distance is the one that I suck the most at. Hey, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, and well, I'm not afraid to say that I have never gotten above the 50% in my age group in this distance. (I don't even know if I made the top 50% today. The official results are not posted yet).

The best part, though, is that I PR'd so effortlessly. I wasn't even trying. I know my heart rate only got to z3 on the hardest of climbs. The rest of the time, I just kind of plodded along happily talking to people.

There ya have it.
Tomorrow I'm out for my last long ride (4.5 hours), then I'm on to taper.

If nothing else, this race gave me a huge confidence boost. I feel very ready to go all out and try for a PR in September.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Super Support Crew

When I closed down my old blog, I knew that I was going to lose many readers and friends.

What I didn't expect was to have some people follow me over here. I was also able to meet new people.

For as much as I write this for me, it's really nice to have a true support crew who sticks by me and knows what to say at the right time. If you're reading this, then I'm talking to you.

I can tell what great company I'm in by the comments that were posted the other day....well thought out...and to the point comments. (Sometimes we all need a little more than "good for you!"---not that there's anything wrong with that).

Moving to this blog has turned into a quality over quantity thing, and I'm so appreciative of the comments you all wrote the other day.

I thank each of you for stopping by when you have the time and leave your notes of support.

This weekend is a big weekend. The biggest one of peak time.

Saturday: I'm running 2 hours on the Half iron route. I will get in somewhere between 10-12 miles depending on how I'm feeling and the route I take to get there.

I'm also swimming 1:30. I'm going to the reservoir and doing as much as I can of the route (which isn't much). I think that my best use of time for this swim is by doing running starts, swimming out to about 100m then finding my stride for a total of 1000m. Then I'll exit. I'm going to do this about 3 times. It won't be 1:30, but I think it will address some of the problems that I had during the Dip n Dash (going out to fast and being unable to recover after being knocked about).

On Sunday, I have a 5 hour ride. This will be the longest of my training. I'm going out to the course and will do the route about 1.5 times. Obviously that's not exact, but I'll do whatever distance I can in the 5 hours where I don't end up finishing 10 miles away. :) Seriously, the bike is the hardest to gauge my time. That doesn't matter as much as spending the time going up and down the hills over and over again. I'm planning on being out the door at 6am, so I don't spend my afternoon out there again.

The following weekend seems easier looking at volume, but I know it won't be. I've decided to go ahead and do the oly race. The swim is an individual timed start not a mass start. So, I'll go out find my half iron pace and hold it. Likewise for the bike and run.

Once I get through these two weekends, I'm down to the taper. It's roughly 4 weeks of tapering, but a good bit of it is still full bricks and such. The long rides are gone.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What just happened?

I guess I was due for a bad week.

We have alot going on personally (family health issues as well as family business issues) and I think it's one of the things affecting my training this week.

On Saturday, I had a long swim and a long run. Both went exceptionally well.

On Sunday, I had a long bike. For many reasons, the bike did not go well. I mentally was not prepared to get lost as many times as I did (my map fell out of my pocket somewhere along the way). I wasn't mentally prepared for the constant climbing (up into the foothills), and I wasn't prepared for the poor road conditions as I road through three different counties. Finally, I wasn't prepared for the....uhhhhh....incident along the way that had something to do with a broken sewer line.

Had I had it mentally on Sunday, even with the bad stuff, I probably would have enjoyed the ride. As it was, for only averaging 11.7 mph, my legs were shot. There were times in which I honestly thought my legs were just going to explode. I felt like I did a century and not metric century.

OK, that was Sunday.

Recently, I've not been sleeping well. This is for several reasons but mostly it's hormonal. It's hard to deal with, but it's also a natural part of a woman's life. It's just the HEAT. The waking up soaking wet. GOODNESS.

This means I'm tired during the day. So on Monday, instead of doing a recovery run, I opted to just do the strength training.

I didn't sleep well Monday night, and that put me on to the day of my Dip n Dash.

I didn't eat well Tuesday.....keep in mind, that I really eat well. Even when I say that I didn't eat well, that's relative.

One thing was for sure, I did not eat enough carbohydrates for fuel for the race. As I stood at the water's edge, I had that feeling. You probably know the feeling. It's the one where you're not thirsty but you know something is missing, right?

Wishing that I had SOME kind of beverage....hell, I would have drank a soda a this point, I scrounge around in my bag and find a two year old bag of Luna Moons.

It's hot out, so they are soft. What the heck. It's better than nothing, and I cram almost the whole bag in my mouth.

I am signed up for the 1500m swim and 5k run.

But, I'm dragging. I run into several women that I've gotten to know over the years from DipnDashes and local races.

My energy level is at it's all time low. I mean that if someone said "here's a cot just lay down and take a nap", I would have done it.

It's hot (95 degrees). I have a wetsuit on when I feel a hot flash hit me. As I'm walking down to the water, I can feel the sweat running down my face down my legs, side. I need to get to the water.

Everyone is talking about how cold it is. But, I go right under, and I've never felt anything so good.

Some women start talking to me. I'm usually very social, but I really need to save my energy.

When it's time to start, I started swimming like crazy. As it is with OW swims, It's frantic. I think to myself, "Wow, the field has really gotten faster."

I know I'm in the front with the faster women. Then, someone swims over me, and under I go. No big deal except that I took in a bunch of water, and the water was pretty rough. I tried to come up for air and got socked with another mouthful of water.

Needing air, I try to do a head out of the water type of swim, but my heart was racing, and I couldn't calm down. I knew that I would be hyperventilating very soon.

I decide to try to swim freestyle again. Just as I start, I look up to find the buoy when someone crosses in front of me and kicks me right in the jaw.

OH geez, that hurt. Now, I can't swim for anything. I wave to a kayaker. I know I need a break.
She starts talking to me and saying things like, "You can do this. I know it's hard. But you can do it. Swim anyway you can, but get back out there."

I'm calmed down and start swimming again. That's when I decide that I'm not doing the 1500m swim. I'm going to do the 750 swim, and I AM GOING to do it.

I'd like to say the rest of the swim was a piece of cake, but it wasn't. The water was turbulent. I kept imagining my wetsuite choking me. Then, I found a guy who was swimming in front of me. I realized that I had actually caught up to the slower guys (who left before the women). I decide to draft him. (For those of you unfamiliar with the swim, drafting is LEGAL in swimming AND it requires less energy because the person in front of you is taking the current. You just get to swim easily behind them).

As I exited the water, my legs felt like lead. My time which should have been around 14 minutes (in training) or much faster (in racing) came in at 17 minutes for 750m.

The funny part is that I would have guessed I was out there for 20minutes! I guess that's good, but now I have to run.

Mike and the boys are sitting there. I must have had a funny look on my face because they start cheering and looking at me as though something isn't right.

I almost burst into tears.

I take off my wetsuit and start running. It's so so hot. Really wishing that I had something other than this now 97 degree heat. My legs just won't "fire". I don't have my garmin. They've changed the route, so I have no idea how far I've gone. I keep thinking "Just turn back. It's just a dip n dash." But I keep going. The route is entirely small steep hills. I decide to walk up and run down each hill.

The race doesn't use timing chips anymore, and I accidentally stopped my stop watch when I got out of the water. But I think my time came in around an hour.

I guess that's not too bad given that I walked half the course.

Again, it was mental.

I was walking/running thinking that maybe it was time for me to retire from the world of triathlon. Maybe I should just do the cycling thing for awhile. Or go back to running, but I really like swimming. Maybe I should just exercise and not compete.

Maybe I shouldn't even bother with Rattlesnake or Harvest Moon. Maybe CDA messed me up more than I realized. Maybe, maybe, maybe....I should give myself a few days of rest.

Last night, I still didn't sleep very well, but it was better than previous nights. I didn't get up until 8:15.

I know that peak weeks are difficult. I know that the volume of work is physically and mentally demanding. That with "other stuff" can really take a toll on the body. So.....

I'm going to do what I can. When I feel like I need to back off, I'm going to.

We'll see where I stand in 10 days when I have my first race of the year: an Oly tri.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Don't think, just do, phase.

I will be peaking shortly.

I IRONPeople out there might say "Eh, peaking for a half iron....easy peasey" It's still a helluvalotta work. THANKYOU.

Sometimes, I think I really can't do anymore than I'm doing. No skipping workouts. No quitting when I'm tired and think, "I can't hold this pace for another minute" (like today's workout). My diet has been about as good as it gets. I even opted to not lose 5lbs (which is my normal racing weight). If it ain't broke don't fix it, right?

Really, it's that point of "Don't think. Just Do." Because when you think about the distances and the speed work or tempo work or form work or hill work, it becomes too much.

Needless to say, I've not put this much effort into a half-iron before.

SO....a week from my first peak week, and I'm starting to think about how hard those weeks hard it is to EXERCISE (for goodness's not a part time job!)......for up to 17 hours in a week.

At the same time, completing those workouts is a powerful thing. Think about the hardest thing you've ever done. Think about how you felt when you did it. It was so hard. You were SO glad it was over.

And you said you'd never do it again.

Then, you do it again. a way, it's like childbirth. You remember being miserable but the "finish" blurs some of the details, and you can't really remember the pain....but it couldn't have been THAT bad, right?

After all, you lived.

That's about it. That's where I am right now.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Need a little Oooomphhhh

Usually when people post anonymously, I know who they are. Last week, someone posted. I thought I knew who it was, but I think I was wrong. Why am I telling you this? Because I did the workout that was mentioned. Clearly it was written by someone who knew what they were talking about.

With that said, Thank you mystery coach.


This week is a "rest" week. By definition, this means that I am doing one workout per day and taking off Friday completely.

It also means that it's testing week.

After having several days off from swimming, I opted to do a muscle memory swim yesterday: no more than 12 minutes and enough to remind myself that "Yes, I really do know what I'm doing here."

Today, was my test. I did not have the confidence that I did during the last test (4 weeks ago). Have I felt stronger? Yes. But....but....but....what? I don't know. When I was standing at the edge of the pool, i didn't quite feel right....not sick....

hmmm, I wasn't nervous.....

I just lacked confidence. I stood there, and I thought to myself, "I need a little ooomph today."

My last swim test was so good and took me so much by surprise, I didn't think I could replicate it. Let alone, try to beat my previous times.

My time trial is 3 x 300's keeping all 300's within seconds of each other and a short break (15 sec) between each 300.

I started my first set. I felt good, but I kept thinking "Don't worry about time just do the best you can."

As I started my second lap, a woman jumped in next to me. She seemed pretty fast. I thought "Hmmm, she's fast, but I need to focus on my pacing."

Shortly thereafter, I realized I was catching up and then passing her. I think she mentally got defeated because her speed dropped quickly when I was a half a body length in front of her.

I felt good, but I kept thinking "Don't worry if you can't hit your times from last time....just keep going."

At the end of 300, I hit my watch.

:20 per 300 faster than last time.


Next set, final set....same thing. My times were :01 second off the 2nd set and dead on for the 3rd set.

It was one of those days where I had to sit for a minute and think back to when I first started. Back to when I couldn't even finish 800m and 300m would take me over 9 minutes. In my very first tri, I clocked a 25:15, 750m swim.

Now, I'm closing in on a 30 minute half iron swim, and I didn't think I'd be able to beat my previous half iron time.

And, all I really wanted to accomplish was getting off the bike and not feeling like death warmed over.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Training Cycle

I have some random musings about my training. It'll likely bore the hell out of you, but at least I feel better about writing it down....because it shows that I CAN LEARN from past mistakes or....even not mistakes but just areas where I can be better.

As you might recall, I'm training for a half iron PR in Sept and a half mary PR in Oct.

Here's what I've learned:

1.) As much as I like to believe I can swim 3 times per week and improve, it doesn't work for me. I've worked with many plans over the years and typically make the adjustments that I need for them to work for me. One adjustment that I've never made until this year is 4x per week swim with one of those being muscle memory 15 minutes easy swimming after my long ride. I've found that this has had a huge positive impact on my swimming overall.

2.) The next change has to do with cycling. What have I done this year? EVERYTHING possible. And yea, this is a change for me. I know I've been a slacker on the bike in previous years. This year I've found that if I focus less on how fast I'm going and more on each individual workout, I have greater success. A 4 or 5 hour ride IS a 4 or 5 hour ride. A 1:30 tempo IS a 1:30 tempo. An easy ride focusing on cadence is exactly that. The pressure to "go fast" is "out". The importance of doing it "right" is the new black.

3.) Running....oh it is.....after running for as long as I have, you'd think this would be a slam dunk. But Noooooooooo. Like swimming, 3 days a week of running isn't good for me. Even 3 good QUALITY running days. Four days however, on some weeks, can be too much. Instead of doing one long run on weekends and two 3 milers during the week, I've added in a mid-week mid length longish run with accelerations or tempo running. Without adding an extra day of running but adding a harder workout has made me feel alot better and stronger.

So there ya have it!

I'm sure you were all wondering exactly how I was doing.....I mean, that IS how you spend your free time, right?

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Beast is in the hospital

My bike went into the shop this week. I waited patiently for the phone call saying that everything was done and come pick it up.

Instead, I got the "Not only is your bike not done, but you have a couple of big problems that we should fix, and we need to order parts. AND parts won't be here until the end of next week."


Well, maybe the mental break from riding outside will be nice. I was looking forward to my 4 hour ride tomorrow. Instead, I'll do spin classes and run more this coming week.

All of that is ok.....I just didn't realize that I'd miss my bike so much. I look at the empty spot, where it normally sits. I can see dust starting to settle where the wheels normally take up space. My helmet sits there empty, quietly rocking back and forth when I pass, they are old and ugly and pretty heavy, so I don't miss them much, but everything else....when did this happen?

My bike is 6 years old (almost to the day---yes, I know the day I got it, so just shaddup). It's a great bike, to me anyway. It's a Trek 5000, and I call it the Beast because the bike has always been faster than me. Of course, I have been catching up to it recently.

Well....that's it. swimming has been absolutely great, running is "eh", and riding.....sigh.....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My pay day will come

Yesterday, I felt invincible.

Today, I was humbled.

Weekly volume increased again. One more week of increasing volume, and then I have a testing week.

Yesterday was my first full brick of the year, and it went extremely well.

Today, well.....halfway through my ride, I started to feel yesterday's hard brick. The first 27 miles or so, I was in cruise mode. Everything was going along great.

Then, I turned to head south. It was like I slammed into a brick wall as I started my 27 mile uphill return into the wind.

I'm pretty sure I let out a whimper. I might have even cried. I definitely said a few curse words. Each level of the climb was a challenge. My legs were shred. My butt hurt. My quads hurt. My inner thighs hurt. My back hurt. My hips hurt. My calves hurt.

If you've ever been at this point in training, and you're chasing a goal that is really important to you.....and one that is SO close you can taste doesn't matter what level of pain you experience. You just know that you are going to do whatever it takes to hit your goal. Period.

At one point, I considered placing a rescue call. But, I knew that I wouldn't. I knew that I would keep climbing. Keep going. Because every single turn meant that I would be stronger physically and mentally the next time I head out.

Of course....

I was pretty sure that I'd never walk normally again.

And I think the neighbors thought I was going to pass out as my bike wobbled up the a horse carrying a sick rider.

As soon as I ate and showered, I felt almost completely better.

It was a total of 54 miles. Next week, I jump to a 4 hour ride, which of course means that my half iron should feel like a ride in the park come race day.

Tomorrow, I have a 1:15 ride.

By my calculation, I should pull a pretty good time at my half iron with all this cycling.

Friday, July 10, 2009

That kind of day

I head out early to do my long brick. I wanted to get there before all the families filled the "beach".

At 9am, it was already getting hot out. This was my first long open water swim this year. The water felt so good. The swim was an easy swim. I met an older women (70ish) out there who does sprints and olys. We do alot of the same races, and it was really nice to have someone to talk to on such a beautiful morning. Especially since, I had a bike and run planned immediately after the swim. We all know how lonely it can be out there.

At one point in the swim, I rolled over to look up at the sun. Birds above me, fish below me and only the cool slapping of water. I couldn't have asked for a nicer day.

Next up, the bike. Another easier day. I decided to circle the res a couple of times to get my hour in. I started feeling the heat on the bike and went through an entire bottle of water in an hour. I was glad I opted to take the T1 GU. I didn't think I needed it, but I noticed my stomach start to rumble with hunger.

When I get on the bike, I always expect to feel nice and cool. I guess the good thing/bad thing about tri clothing is that it's supposed to dry quickly. Today, all I felt was heat. Hot breezes, hot water, hot skin. Hot everything.

These are the crowds cheering, no bands playing, no aid stations....just me out there convincing myself that this is a good idea.

These are the days that make race days easy.

I kept thinking about the sandwhich and iced tea that I packed. THAT was a stroke of brillance. When I'm done my run, I'll go down to the water and soak my feet and eat. How great is that?

After the bike, I took a pre-run GU. It's really very hot now. I drink an entire 20oz of water (and still no need to pee...did I say it's hot?)

As I start running, I start formulating my half iron run plan. Do I run 5 walk 2? Or is that too much for a half iron? Maybe run 5 walk 1? I have a pretty lofty goal that I think I can hit. I think today, I'll do run 5 walk 1 because of the heat. Then on race day I'll adjust depending on the temperature.

At the halfway point, all I can think about is my sandwhich. I don't even remember the running back to the car.

I open the car door. I see my wetsuit on the floor. My bike is laying in the back. Everything is strewn about. I don't know why, but it makes me smile. I'm hot. I'm tired. Now, I get to eat my sandwhich.

I pull out my flip flops and exchange them for my running shoes. I grab my iced tea and head to the water.

I sit for awhile with my feet in the water, watching the kids splash and run around.

For now, I feel really good. It's time to enjoy and relax.....because tomorrow I'm up early for a 3.5 hour ride.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Waiting, waiting, waiting

If you are a triathlete, you know how hard it is to get good at this sport.

My nemesis has been cycling. Each year, it's a battle. I feel like I'm working so hard, but I make little progress. I don't see significant speed increases. Hills don't seem any easier.

THEN, today happened. To say I had a breakthrough day on the bike would be an understatement.

The funny thing is that the day really didn't have the makings of a good day. I woke up so sore....unbelievably sore. All I could think was "3 hours on the bike is going to be very painful and very hard."

That's what training is for, right? Push yourself and build strength then rest. All I had to do was get through 3 hours. Who was I kidding? I'm probably going to end the day crying like a little baby.

I started out very easy, going slower than I had two weeks ago (my last longer ride). I'm starting to know the bike course really well, but I hadn't done the full loop since last year. Still, I remember the harder climbs and some easier flats.

WELL---my legs were dead. They were sore. Yet somehow, I was maintaining a great speed! My heartrate stayed within zone 2-3, and I wasn't anywhere close to being as miserable as I was expecting.

I was trying to save any energy for the biggest climb which came at about 38 miles. When out of the blue, BAMPOP! I hit something in the road, must have been a rock and my tire just blew out.

Why does it always happen midway up a hill? I pulled out my cell to call Mike and let him know that I'd be late, but the NO SERVICE message flashed at me. I pulled over changed the tire and had a quick snack. When I got back on, I realized that short break really helped my legs which had been burning pretty good when my tire blew.

(Oh....almost forgot....while I was changing my tire, I got swarmed by bees. I'm not allergic nor afraid of bees, but they certainly didn't help my situation. Especially the one that flew into my helmet. very nice).

I hopped back on and checked my average speed. Still above expectations, but here comes the climb. No big deal. Take it slow.

Before I knew it, I was at the top. I felt really good. Maybe not REALLY good, but much better than I expected.

By the time I got to the meet up place (where Mike was going to pick me up), I was tired, but I had a smile plastered to my face.

Finally after the years of doing this, nutrition, hydration, training all came together.

Each week, I get nervous for my long rides. Each week, I'm getting stronger. My next long ride is 3.5 hours. I'm excited. I know it will be difficult, but I know that I'll be able to push through.

All I know is that I'm setting myself up for a very good race come September.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Being a junkie

I get excited for my big weekends. I know this sounds crazy, but I really miss Ironman training.

Yes, I know half iron training is still more training than 99.9% of the population does.

I've been doing my training. It's been going GREAT, but this weekend is my first real weekend of longer distances. Longer being relative. I still have a hard time referring to a 3000m swim as long, or a 45 mile bike or an 11 mile run as being long....even when they are done over a weekend.

It's that thing we like to call distance perspective. The longer we go, the shorter "long" feels.

I don't even know how it happened. I don't know HOW I became an endurance junkie.

A friend of mine has been trying to get me to do the Greenland 50k next May. My hesitation wasn't about whether or not I could do it. It was trying to figure out if I could fit training in with the 500 mile bike and the Ironman race that I want to do.

That shit's insane.

When I stop to think about some of the stuff I do now, I can't figure out when I switched. For a long time, I was happy doing up to half marathon distances.

I think the appeal for me is the meditative side. The concentration required for a short race is so intense, but it's different for endurance events.

It's the rhythm that I get into when running. It's my way of blocking out all distractions and focusing inward. When I'm swimming, it's the rocking of the water. It's different everytime, but it's always there. On the bike, sometimes it's the lines on the road. Sometimes it's my own breathing. Sometimes it's a line from a song playing over and over and over in my head.

Every little ting gonna be alright.

I think I'm a better person because of it. I'm much more relaxed during the day, more confident, more focused. Things don't bother me like they used to. I've had good races and bad races. Good training and bad training, but I keep coming back for more. I can tell's no fun getting your arse kicked.

But, the other side....the challenge, the success, the perserverance, the moments in which you feel few and as far between as they may be, make all the bad days worthwhile.

And the water felt thick

If you don't spend alot of time in the water, you might not understand. I might not even be able to explain what I mean.

Swimming is about balance, propulsion, and form.

It's about being a straight line, elongating your body and rotating. It's complex. It's hard to master.

It's much different than the swimming many of us learned when we were 7 years old.

If you're like me, swimming was more of survival, splashing around frantically just trying to get to the other side.

It never felt easy.

Then we make progress....and a little more....and a little more.

Still, the effort is there. It almost feels as though you're battling the water instead of using the water. There's nothing to hold on to that allows you to pull yourself through.

After years of making small adjustments of getting faster, maybe you've resigned yourself to the fact that swimming will always be hard. The water will always feel as though it's slipping through your fingers. You reach out for it, but it dissolves as your arms sweep back.

Your arms are paddles. They smack the water and hurry back out, so they can try to keep you afloat.

One morning, as you plunge in, you notice that you feel like you are laying on a soft mattress. You are laying on top of the water. Your legs aren't sinking. You aren't struggling to stay afloat. Out of nowhere, when you plunge your arm ahead, instead of dissolving, you feel like you are pulling yourself through jell-o. You have a grip. Your legs are forcing the current. You can feel the power of your kick propelling you forward. You can use the water, but it doesn't feel like water. You're not sinking; you're not struggling.

Somehow, the water has become thick. Instead of fighting it, you've found the balance. You've found the technique. You've discovered power where you didn't think it existed. Instead of struggling, the laps become effortless. You are pulling yourself through the water as if you were rock climbing. Each stroke gives you another handle to pull yourself through.

When the water becomes thick, you've found your stroke.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A new goal...

Recently, I've been thinking alot about my half iron race in Sept.

This race oftens has some insane weather ranging from 100 degree temps to horrible storms.

I get it. I know about the potential for external elements.

Weather aside, I have been thinking about my goals. I'm very certain to PR, regardless of weather.

So, I have been pulling previous years race results. Women in my age group have been nearly doubling their prescence every year. Of course, very few women in my age group (even today) compete.

This is where is becomes interesting. If twenty women compete this year, I have to place in the top 6 in order to qualify for Nationals. Last time, I was 8th.

There's quite a jump in finishing time from 6th to 8th. I'm well aware of that. AND, it's not likely that THIS year, with the increase in competition, that I will make it to the top 6.

But, it's a nice goal for future years, don't you think?

Afterall, the competition gets faster, but so do I.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Imaginary Blog Writing.

Since my training hours increased, I've found myself writing blogs in my head and then looking for them online. Maybe it's just me, but this summer certainly feels alot busier than previous summers.

Over the last two weeks and during my training, I've found myself thinking alot about "one thing" and "perserverance or dedication or that thing inside us" that keeps us coming back even when we've been knocked on our butts....hard.

One thing....
People don't like change. Ok, MOST people don't like change.

But I've found that people, in my life, have a very hard time with change. They want to lose weight or they want do a race or they want a new job.....but it becomes an all or nothing approach.

THAT becomes overwhelming.

And that means that nothing ever happens.

Because to lose weight, to get faster, to find a new job....that means changing something. Instead of believing that you need to change everything....change ONE THING.

If you want to lose weight, change one piece of your life at a time. You don't have to change your entire diet and go on an extreme exercise regime at once.

Start by walking everyday for 15 minutes. There isn't one person out there who doesn't have 15 minutes to walk. Someone I know always wants to tell me about shows she watches. She insists on giving me the latest updates of "Lost" and "CSI" and whatever else is on tv. Then I ask, "How was your walk today?" She says "I didn't have time".

Walking is cardiovascular and weight bearing and best of all, FREE.

If you are an athlete and have stopped exercising, don't expect to jump right back in where you left off. The past doesn't matter. I don't care that you've run 15 marathons or a gazillion triathlons. You haven't exercised in a year....start walking!


We all have times where our diets aren't quite right or we stop exercising for a bit....we're human. Don't be embarrassed by this. Just because you are running a 13:00 minute mile now when you used to run 9:00 miles....don't justify away what you are doing now.

The past doesn't matter. What matters is what you are doing now.

Remember, we can only be our best when we give ourselves the opportunity to be our best.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Now THIS is good stuff

Over the years, I've been fortunate to run into some of the cheesiest guys around. We've had the Mr. Cheese--the goldchain porno-watching-in-the-steam-room guy. We've had the arrogant Ironman who told me "Oh I did CDA before they made it easier."

Those were just my favorites.

Today, I got to meet Mr. Tanline. The pool was quite full when I arrived. I noticed three men standing at the edge of their pools. I thought I would join one of them before they got started. Lucky for me, one of them was just leaving. HE was talking to a guy in another lane. I tried to ignore the conversation, but the guy in the lane was talking at such a volume, it was clear that he wanted EVERYONE to hear what he had to say. So, I listened while getting ready. This guy went on and on about the fact that he is a TRIATHLETE and he has an awesome TRIBIKE. People are always stopping him on the road asking him when his next race is.

I am not kidding.

So, I'm thinking, "Ok, this guy is a total noob." He probably went out and bought all the gear before even doing a race.

I start swimming. When I stopped for the break between my speed sessions, he turns to me and says, oh you (dear reader) need the visual.....y'know when someone is talking to you and looking over a pair of glasses? That look? OK, he was looking at me like that and says, "I see you have the triathlete's suntan." Then he turns and points to his back and says, "So do I. You get that from being aero."

Can't you just hear the bowchickabowbow music playing?

I mumble something about being the triathlete's tatoo. I see him mull it over for a second and start laughing.

I think the best response was how his arse got CHICKED a few minutes later when I kept beating his butt up and down the lanes.

Now who's the triathlete?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Up Next

Last week, I started Specific Prep 1. My strength training is now down to maintenance only (1 day a week) and I've added a mid-week long bike. My mileage all around is increasing, again, this week. Next week, I'm into a "testing" week. I feel pretty good and think that I've gotten faster, but of course it's difficult to say with the mileage increase and feeling fatigue most of the time. Although it is becoming harder and harder to shave time off my swim (hopefully masters will change that), I'm still doing a decent job on the bike and the run.

Training hours this week: 14

I'm glad to have today as a relative rest cuz I'm feeling the last three days of training. I'm tired, and I didn't sleep well last night.

I have Rattlesnake in roughly 8 weeks, and it will be my first Tri of the season. It'll be a good test to make sure I still know how to bumble my way through transition. It'll also be a nice test to see how well I maintain my pacing. Don't look for a PR for this race. Look for a smooth, well-organized race. That's success this time around.

btw--I mis-stated my goals....not that anyone called me on it.....but I didn't mean that I was planning on hitting ALL those goals in the same race. If any ONE of them happen, I will be thrilled! I believe it will be more of a mix: maybe 1 minute on the swim, 10 on the bike, and nothing on the run....that sort of thing.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Today was my 3rd day in a row of hard workouts. Hard as in distances travelled not in effort.

This morning I set out to do my long ride on the Harvest Moon half iron bike course. This route is my route of choice because 1.) It's close and 2.) It's hard and 3.) Sometimes I don't think things through.

Still, I'm fortunate to live right next to Aurora Res where I can get my fill of brick workouts on the course of many different length races.

I set out to cover roughly 30 miles of the HM course. On weekends, there simply isn't a better cycling route. (Ok, in places the road can get a little rough because of the spring snows). But the positives are that: the locals give cyclists PLENTY of room; there is very little traffic; there are many cyclists, so you're never really alone out there.

This morning I left as soon as the fog lifted. As I rode east and into the sun, I was in awe at how beautiful it was. We've been plagued by droughts for about 6 years. This year, we've finally come out of it. The fields were green. The trees had life to them, and the creek beds were full of water.

As I topped one of the larger hills, I thought I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. Out here, we get to see all kinds of animals from antelope to deer to cows to various birds to rattlesnakes and I've ever seen a giant turtle. We also have coyotes. I've seen them in the distance while running, but I've never seen them out on the road. I looked to my right, but I couldn't see anything and figured it was a breeze blowing through the trees.

As I started picking up speed going downhill, a coyote jumps out and directly in line with my bike (now flying down the hill at 30mph). In that split second, I think I'm ready to have a horrific crash. Just then the coyote realized I was there, tucked his tail under, arched his back, and bolted across the street.

We came so close, I swear I felt his fur rub my leg.

It took me a few minutes to calm down. My heartrate was off the charts. I was getting ready to make the biggest climb, and didn't want to stop because I was (somewhat) on a tight time schedule. So, I lowered my gears and decided to take it easy getting to the top.

Even without running into the coyote, the ride was tough. After two days of cycling, I was starting to feel the same soreness that I experienced at Elephant Rock the previous weekend. Except that I realized, I've already gone further than E-Rock.

At the turnaround point, I was slower than I had been over the past few weeks, but I was also faster than I was the last time I did Harvest Moon (2007) at a lower heartrate.

Even before the weekend of hard workouts, I'd set some goals that I think are reasonable. Challenging, but reasonable.

I might as well share them here....

Last time, I placed 8th (I think. I'll have to check that) in my AG. I want to get into the top 5. The field is faster year to year. I really think this could be the year I crack the top 5.

This year, the swim is the wildcard. My swim was pretty good in 2007. Still, I think I can shave 4 minutes off my swim. Four minutes off a 1.2 mile swim is pretty substantial.

Next, the bike. My goal is to shave 18 minutes off my bike time. I think I can do this right now. 18 minutes over a 56 mile course is a reasonable goal.

The run is a gimme....I'm going to take off 27 minutes from my last time. Why so much? In 2007, we had a terrible thunderstorm with high winds, terrible rain, and hail. Several of us took cover in a porta-potty for about 20 minutes. Besides the storm, I've been focusing on my running and have made some significant improvements.

Of course, even shaving one minute off of each event will give me a pr, but we all need to have stretch goals.

And what's that saying? Reach for the moon because even if you miss, you'll still be among the stars.

The Indispensable Sherpa

In the endurance world, there are a few critical components of going long. We have training. Without training, we can't compete.

We have nutrition. Without proper nutrition, we can't compete well.

We have mental toughness. Without mental toughness, nothing will happen. We won't make any attempt to get up early to get in a 4 hour ride. Mental toughness is what carries us through pain. Mental toughness is that thing that pushes us beyond what we think we are capable of.

Here's the BUT, you were waiting for it weren't you?

I have never read an article in any sports magazine that stresses the importance of the Sherpa in endurance racing.

If you are new to the endurance world, let me explain the Sherpa.

Unlike the athlete, the Sherpa doesn't register to become a Sherpa. It just happens. The Sherpa is the person that provides the athlete with support. Complete unyielding, unquestioning support.

The Sherpa knows the athlete inside-out. The Sherpa offers advice. The Sherpa wakes up at 4am to drive to a race to support their athlete. They cheer on the athlete at the start. Then they sit and wait for a few hours, just so they can scream and yell and cheer again during that brief 5 minutes that they get to see their athlete again. Then they wait again.

The Sherpa is a "coach". The Sherpa is the person that knows the times of every race the athlete has competed in. The Sherpa knows when a race is going well or not just by looking at their athlete's face. The Sherpa is a cheerleader. The Sherpa is a photographer. The Sherpa is a medic. The Sherpa knows the best way to handle cuts, blisters, and chafing. They know how to handle dehydration.

The know every aspect of the athlete's race strategy.

The Sherpa might not understand the athlete's desire to go long. The Sherpa might worry about the athlete, but they never question the desire. They are accepting. They always know what to say, what piece of advice to offer, what words of encouragement to say. They also know that sometimes words can't heal disappointment, but a warm hug can.

During training, the Sherpa will drop everything when they receive the "rescue call" and drive out to help their athlete. The Sherpa will have every piece of a long run or long ride mapped out and will wait at a meeting place for their athlete, so the athlete can reload on snacks or drinks.

The Sherpa does all of the work and receives none of the glory. The Sherpa isn't the one crossing the finish line, but they put in much of the work. They are at the finish line snapping pictures, screaming, and waving the cowbell.

They don't receive a medal at the finish, but they seem absolutely genuinely happy when their athlete finishes.

Without our Sherpas, we couldn't do what we do.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Final Answer

I have OFFICIALLY decided to not run on Sunday. Here's why:

1.) I originally signed up because Mike and the boys would be out of town. They aren't now. (Normally, that's not an issue but read on).

2.) We are going to the Rockies game at 1pm. This means I have to drive into Denver twice in one day. (Ok, not a big deal since I take the train, but it is over an hour of travelling each way).

3.) I have a long brick on Saturday.

4.) I have a 2 hour bike on Sunday.

It came down to this:I don't want to sacrifice any cycling for running. It wouldn't be possible for me to run a half marathon and ride for 2 hours AND still get to the Rockies game without rushing around like a crazy person. As appealing as that might seem, I'd rather enjoy myself.
My race is just over 11 weeks away now. The half iron PR is considerably more important than running a half marathon right now.

Tikki has spoken.

Today: 1 hour run in which I got caught in the rain and the tornado warning. I couldn't believe it. The storm moved fast. When I left, it was clear out. Good thing it was a tempo run because I was haulin' arse to get home.

Earlier in the day I did a 2150m swim. Endurance swim with a bunch of moderate and fast paced intervals. The intervals were longer and within them it was speedplay such as 4 x 250 with each 250 breaking down as 100 mod 50 fast 100 mod.

Moderate = no greater than zone 3 (pretty fast). Fast = just shy of all out sprinting.

Unlike Tuesday, today I felt very good in the pool. I used the guy next to me for pacing. He was seriously fast. Probably the fastest guy I've seen there. I would take off immediately before him, and my goal was to not let him pass me. I knew he was only about 5 meters behind me. When I'd flip, I saw him. I kept going. At the last interval, he caught me and beat me to the wall. What a great workout! I'm not sure I would have pushed so hard if he hadn't been there.

Next week, I'm going to try out the 6am Master's swim on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Tomorrow is a 1:15 ride with 20 second accelerations throughout. I'll go early and beat the afternoon storms.

Did I mention that tomorrow is also Me 'n Mike's 16th anniversary? I bet 16 years ago he never imagined playing sherpa as much as he does.

Monday, June 8, 2009

E-Rock Race Report

On Saturday night, I didn't want to do this tour. On Sunday morning at 4:15am, I wanted to do it even less. It was a cold morning. I was tired. I was unprepared. I haven't spent significant time on the bike, and my last and longest ride was the previous Sunday when I went 30 miles.

This tour was 62 miles.

My poor poor buttisimo.

As I was eating breakfast, I was actually thinking about how I could get out of it. I could lay down on the couch and pretend like I fell back to sleep. I could "accidentally" forget my helmet or my shoes.

Instead, I left. At the last minute, I grabbed my heavier cycling jacket. What a good move.

When I got to the tour, the temperature was 42 degrees. We all know that I'm not a cold weather rider. 42 standing still is ok. 42 on a

My start time was 6:00am. I still didn't want to go as I sit in the car.

Eventually, I got out of the car,put my wheel on, and head to the start. I looked around at everyone. The sky was starting to get lighter, but we wouldn't feel it for quite awhile with the hills.

Then we started. Sometimes there are races that I don't want to do, but once I start, I'm ok.

This was NOT that kind of race.

The first 34 miles are uphill....roughly....there are some minor downhills. There were some areas that felt pretty flat, but it's mostly a 34 mile climb.

Until the first rest stop, I kept trying to figure out how to get out of this thing. Where's the sag wagon? If I turn around here could I figure out how to get back.

The only thing keeping me on task was knowing that I'd have to pass all those cyclists behind me....the true walk...or ride of shame.

That, as unhonourable as it was, was the only reason that I kept plugging on.

After awhile, I thought "Just get to the first aid station. Have a snack and see how you feel."

Keep in mind, my legs felt fine, I was holding a good pace, and everything was physically ok with me.

I just didn't want to be there.

At the first aid station, I hopped off. My toes were numb from the cold. I looked around at everyone. The other cyclists were having a good time. I started thinking that maybe I should just do what I can. I knew that I was undertrained, but just maybe I could go out and have fun. I didn't really know how far I could make it, but just try it.

When I got back on the bike, I felt really good. Unlike last year, where teams kept passing me and I often found myself alone except for one or two people ahead or behind me a few miles, this year I was always in the middle of a pack of quite a few cyclists. At any time, there were hundreds of people ahead of me, and hundreds behind me. I always had people around me.

I can't tell you what a huge difference that makes when you are doing a tough climb.

The next aid station was at the highest point. And, there are very tough, short, steep climbs. I really prefer the slow climbs to those steep ones.

But, I had people around me. We were all panting, sweating, talking (when possible), joking about how long this tour is going to take us.

During the first 20 miles, I kept cursing myself. The 2nd 20 miles, I realized how much stronger I've gotten over a year's time. Even being underprepared, I didn't stop until I hit an aid station. (Last year, I stopped several times). My nutrition was perfect this year. (Last year, not so much). This year, I managed to pass people on climbs: not alot, and I was still passed myself, but somehow, I managed to get better over the year.

When I started, I was mad because I kept thinking "When is this tour going to be easy for me?"

That's when I realized that it will never be easy. As we all get in better shape, as we all learn to climb hills better, it will never get easier. The only difference is that I will be faster, year to year. I don't do this tour because some day it will be a piece of cake. I do this tour because each year I see how much progress I've made over the previous year. It's not much year to year, but it adds up to alot over the course of years.

As I continued up the hill, I started really focusing on the other cyclists. I saw a pack of 20 Iraq Veterans. Half of them were missing one leg. 4 more were missing both legs. One amazing man was missing almost both complete legs. I looked at his artificial legs, trying to figure out how they worked. How did he do it? How with not more than a couple of inches, HOW does he do this?

There were a number of people who caught my attention from amazing cyclists to triathletes, to transplant recipients to the 13 year old (who once again kicked my butt--probably the same kid from last year). Of course, there were a couple of jerks, but they were few and far between. You'll find those people at every sport, regardless of your sport.

What I think about now, is that we were all out there, difference sizes, shapes, gender, abilities, and we all had our own stories about why we were there. For one day, we were all in it together. Encouraging each other, making each other laugh.

As I approached the last aid station, at 45 miles, I was starting to feel my lack of training. My butt was starting to hurt. It was manageable though. My inner thighs were really starting to burn. I took a little longer rest. I knew that I had 6-7 miles of serious climbing. As it stood, I wasn't quite sure that I was going to be able to do it. This was being realistic, not negative.

Still, I opted to press on. With fewer than 20 miles left, I decided that I would have to have significant problems for me to NOT finish. I stood there thinking for a minute, when the guy with the yellow cycling outfit (Who I don't recall seeing prior to this) yelled at me, "Are you coming? We're leaving".

I had to shake my head, when he turned and the back of his jersey read in big black letters: "Pitts". (Few people will understand this reference).

no.way. That's just not possible. I could only laugh at the coincidence.

The next 6-7 miles were hard, but not as hard as I remember them. In fact, they were easier than the map even showed.

I remember this section from last year. I remember getting to the top and my legs were just dead. I had nothing left.

This year, I climbed, and when I got to the top....I thought "Hey, that wasn't too bad. I wouldn't want to do it again, but that wasn't too bad."

I looked around. I realized that I was still with about 20 people that I started with. I thought for sure, they would have dropped me, but they didn't and we stayed together.

I think I have finally become an "average" cyclist.

At the top of the hill, I stopped for just a moment to look down the hill that I just climbed. I saw hundreds ofpeople making their way to the top, snaking their way through the hills.

I don't think I've ever felt so good about being average....a C student if you will.

At the finish, there were hundreds of people lining the mile heading into the finishing shoot. If I didn't know better, I would have thought I won the race the way they were cheering.

I might not have "won", but it certainly was a win for me.