Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Well that was fun!

Today was what I would consider my first long-ish run of the year, a 12-miler. I've been super excited for this for days. All year we've had to be conservative with mileage and baby my legs thanks to issues that I shall refer to as thing one and thing two. Thing two is still somewhat in the picture but being managed.

The only good time to fit this run in was first thing this morning. No I mean REALLY first thing this morning - 5:30 am! I decided this run would be really extra super fun if I started in the dark and ran with my headlamp. I've only done that once before. I picked a nearby road with a wide bike lane and a trusty surface, donned the Petzl lamp, stuck my blinky bike light on the back of my shirt (and put my pepper spray in my pocket...you never know), and fired up the podcast playlist (This American Life, The Moth, Endurance Planet, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me).

For most of the first half of the run I ran down the middle of the road because....well....because I could! There was no traffic. I owned that road! Yeah!! About the time the sun started coming up, traffic picked up, but I kept the lights on so the sleepy drivers could see me. I laughed wondering what they imagined this lit up thing to be?

Once light enough, I dropped the lights at my centrally-parked car and ran free.

It was a good run, I think I hit it just right. My first two miles were the slowest, as is to be expected. It takes me some time to warm up/wake up these days. Maybe it's age? My last three miles were my fastest and I finished feeling great! I needed that.

Fall to me means long runs and there's nothing quite like it. I think your mind is freer to roam on a long run than on a long bike. On the bike you must be ever vigilant for road conditions, traffic, shifting, etc. On a long run, on the right course, you set the cruise control and settle in for some quality time with your own thoughts.

The reality of the impending half Ironman is beginning to dawn on me. I'm venturing into the great unknown at that distance and have no expectations other than to enjoy the experience and learn some new things. After that then it's gearing up for my third Richmond Marathon....wow!  Just 3-1/2 years ago I ran for the first time in public. It's hard for me now to imagine my life before swim/bike/run/lift.

My parting thought it just to challenge you to find ways to spice up your workouts whether it's riding with a new group, heading out on a different course, or running in the dark ;-)  Make it an adventure!




Monday, August 29, 2011

Measuring Progress

A few weeks ago my friends and I had a conversation about how easy it is to get caught up in numbers particularly during race season - pace, splits, and rankings - and compare ourselves to others and to our own past performances. It's all too easy to let numbers dictate whether we feel a workout or race was successful. 

It's important to remember that numbers provide useful feedback but they are essentially measures of output, dependent on a multitude of inputs. If we look at the factors that contribute to the output, we can identify many other ways of measuring success and progress.

Here are some inputs that can influence our performance on swim/bike/run during training or a race:
  • race strategy
  • swim/bike/run skills
  • training consistency
  • training quality
  • anxiety/fear
  • congestion (in transition, on swim and bike)
  • mechanical issues
  • pre-race/pre-workout nutrition
  • in-race/in-workout fueling
  • personal physiology (which changes day to day)
  • state of mind
  • stress levels (family, work)
  • fatigue
  • travel-related issues
  • phase of training cycle
  • ability to cope with unforseen circumstances 
  • terrain
  • weather
The list of inputs can be used to identify opportunities for improvement. This allows us alternative ways to define success. I'll share some of my own examples.
 
If I look at my swim pace in races this year, I could get discouraged. Despite speedier swimming in the pool, my swim times in races have not shown the improvement I might have expected this year. However, I am far more comfortable and confident in the water, my technique has improved, and I learned how to draft. I spent much of the last few races drafting and maybe setting myself up for what turned out to be my best bike splits. I call that success! Next I am going to try going out with a little more speed at the start of the swim, finding faster swimmers to draft, and increasing my arm turnover. I'm not focusing on the outcome, I'm focusing on the inputs: technique, strategy, and mental toughness. So while my swim numbers don't show great changes (yet) I can still see development in my swimming. I understand too that improvement is not linear, but can plateau and jump.

Other examples of areas where I am seeing success are in nailing down my pre-race and in-race fueling, bike handling, and dealing with unforeseen circumstances (not easy for a reforming control freak). My whole mantra for Nationals in Burlington was to just "roll with it" and I had plenty of opportunities to put that to the test with the travel difficulties and flat pre-race tire.

During a race I ignore numbers. I don't time my swim, I don't know what my previous years' splits were, and most of the time I ignore my Garmin on the run (sorry, Coach!). I run my own race and at the end I give myself time to reflect on what I felt good about and what I might change. I establish how I feel about the race in the absence of numbers. Then I let the numbers in as training feedback, not as a determination of self-worth or enjoyment.

One of my fears is that my love of triathlon would be tied to results because I have had some success. I work hard to avoid that. I don't look at my rankings or standings because there is nothing I can do about a formula or about who shows up to race. I give the best that I have to every race and take away some new insight or understanding. I love the whole training and racing adventure, I love the community of endurance athletes, and I love what triathlon has taught me about myself. I won't let numbers and formulas diminish that in any way. I'm in this for the long haul.

Numbers are information. You choose what they mean to you.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

I'm not a cook, I'm a food assembler

The other day I posted on Facebook that I had roasted chick peas and they were amazing and a friend dared to accuse me of knowing how to cook! Paula Deen would fall in her turkey fryer if she read that. I will admit only to being an efficient (lazy) food preparer/combiner. But it works and I have figured out how to crank out some pretty yummy stuff.

I used to have a pretty typical American eating habits. It took a trainer literally years to convert me (and I still have room to grow) but in that time I've learned how to make it work for me, which means easy and efficient. As an industrial engineer with degrees in triplicate, I am all about efficiency.

My trainer, Kurt, recently wrote a great blog post on Basic Nutrition where he included a list of quality food sources he uses, categorized as chiefly sources of protein, fat, carb, or fiber.  It's a must-read post. I eat nearly all the foods on his list and not many additional. I think they are pretty typical foods among folks who eat for health, performance, and to just feel good! I mix and match those food sources from the four categories as needed.

I figured I'll share my personal application of the system that might help other time-crunched folks who don't have lots of time to spend in the kitchen.

Structure
  1. All of my meals involve some combination of protein, carbs, fiber, and fat, with proportions adjusted for fueling needs. For instance, it's more carbs before workouts, less later in the day, less fiber before a race, that sort of thing. I'm still working on that part.
  2. I eat six meals a day at approx. 6 am, 9 am, noon, 3 pm, 6 pm, 9 pm (give or take depending on workout times)
  3. Meals 1 and 6 are nearly always the same: steel cut oats + almond butter + fruit for meal 1; casein + peanut butter + oats/granola for meal 6. That means I only have to think about four meals.
  4. 3 of my 4 other meals include lots of veggies, the 4th meal is usually something with dairy - either cottage cheese or greek yogurt. I seem to crave that one serving of dairy is all.
Preparation

Twice a month I cook, portion, and freeze my protein sources which include chicken, ground turkey, and lean grassfed beef. (I also use eggs, salmon and tuna)
  • Chicken breasts: put on baking pan, sprinkle with McCormick seasoning of choice, bake. Put in fridge to cool overnight. Once it's cool it's easier to chop. I use a food chopper to finely dice. Then I freeze it in 5 oz portions in bags (approx. 2 servings). 
  • Lean ground turkey/beef: cook in skillet, pour off fat, add water to release more fat, drain again. portion and freeze. Alternative: put into muffin pan to make little "meatloaves". These chilled meatloaves can be sliced or diced too.
I also cook, portion, and freeze my carbs. Brown rice, quinoa, and barley are my favorites. They all freeze just fine.

Once or twice a week I roast up veggies. Translation: I put veggies on a baking pan, spray them with olive oil, add salt, and stick them in the oven at 350 (the default oven temp!). My favorite things to roast are: diced butternut squash, diced sweet and/or red potatoes, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, spaghetti squash, eggplant, peppers....OK, you get the idea. I keep some store-bought frozen veggies around too and always have fresh spinach, broccoli slaw, and shredded carrots on hand.

You can roast or bake lots of things. The two more strange ones I have done are the roasted chick peas and kale chips. The chick peas (canned - rinsed and drained) come out crunchy on the outside and give a sense of popcorn. Kale chips involve removing stems, washing and drying the leaves, spraying them with olive oil and adding cajun seasoning. Bake till crispy! They are SO SO good I can eat an entire huge bunch of kale in one sitting in this way. Beats scarfing down a bag of Doritos, right?

Texture is a big thing for me, I tend to like things shredded, diced, and generally chopped. A big slab of meat or whole potato is a lot less appealing, but that's just me. To each his own.

Mix-and-match

This is the fun part! In my freezer I have my protein and carbs, in my fridge my fiber. The fat is either in the protein or added as flax meal or oil or nut butter. I pull out my ingredients, give them a quick warming in the microwave, and start assembling.

Yesterday's meals included:
  • barley, asparagus, spaghetti squash, turkey + Bragg's Aminos to season
  • flat out wrap, broccoli slaw, hummus, and chicken + salt
  • eggs, spinach, hummus + yellow mustard
  • cottage cheese, raisins, quick oats, flax seed meal + cinnamon and stevia
  • More ideas here
Transporting

On work days I throw my meals in a cooler bag with ice, some utensils, and I'm set for the day. I often hear people say they "can't pack" a meal for some reason but I find it hard to imagine too many circumstances where packing is more difficult than searching out nutritious food. Ice and refrigerators are easy enough to come by, and if I can pack two days of meals into a checked suitcase, I'm fairly certain one can pack a lunch!! (BTW, in most hotels you can request a fridge and microwave if you mention "dietary restrictions." I consider good eating a dietary restriction!!)

So you get the picture. I call it the "Garanimals" of food systems, just mix and match. Keep it simple and make it work for you.  I have a number of other posts under NUTRITION that include other easy food combos. The big key is to have fun with it and experiment. It's all about enjoying good whole foods and reaping the performance rewards (and feeling good) that go along with it.

P.S. I just discovered my camera has a "food" setting that I used for the above picture. How funny!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Review: Can't Swim, Can't Ride, Can't Run: My Triathlon Journey from Common Man to Ironman

Quite simply, I LOVED this book. I would describe the author, Andy Holgate, as the Bill Bryson of the triathlon world. His writing is humbly witty without being forced -- a task made easier because Andy seems to find himself often in odd and humorous circumstances. The story is so genuine (he's genuine) and it's easy to identify with Andy's fears and triumphs as his inner-athlete emerges.  Treasured friendships come along the way and Andy finds his place in the triathlon community. You can feel his sense of worth and purpose grow. As a fellow late-bloomer myself I can really relate.

I read the entire book on my trip up to Burlington and then my friend and roomie Kimberly picked it up and couldn't put it down (well, except to race, and to eat :-).

I first learned about this book when Andy was featured on the June 30, 2011 podcast of the Simon Gowan Triathlon Show. It's a fun listen but the book is even better.

Andy keeps a blog called IronHolgs. His latest post is UNbelievable. I won't spoil it for you, but suffice it to say it epitomizes never ever giving up in a race. Whew.

I sure hope Andy comes out with a sequel!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

No mountain bikes at Nationals

I was secretly hoping to spot maybe just one renegade mountain bike at Nationals. Or maybe a steel framed Schwinn. Nuh-uh. It was slick racing machines as far as the eye could see. I would guess that maybe 95% of the bikes were tri bikes, probably 70% had race wheels, and maybe 50% of the riders had aero helmets. (If someone else has different estimates, feel free to comment)

While I do have the recently acquired tri bike, I don't have the race wheels or aero helmet, and my already-strained bank account thanks me for that.




Transition at USAT Age Group Nationals
There's something kind of cool about the local races where anything goes. I see knobby tires, camelback hydration packs (seen on a 20k bike ride), baggy shorts, and surfing wetsuits! At those races the odd aero helmet looks a bit conspicuous.

I'm thankful that we have all kinds of races where everyone can feel comfortable and enjoy the sport at any level.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dual identities

I bet most triathletes feel like they have two identities. I sure do.

I did a full-body slam back into reality Monday morning. I departed Planet Triathlon of Burlington, Vermont and landed back on Planet Earth, Blacksburg, Virginia. The compression socks came off, the work clothes went on. No gels or electrolytes needed to pack the kids' lunches. I didn't have to worry about being "aero" or accidentally drafting in the minivan. There is no timing chip at work.

I went from this to that:

 

I like the duality though. I'm glad to get back to my routine and structure and I enjoy my job. I work with programs to help faculty with their teaching practices.

Today I had a nice little easy run and got back into the gym for the first time in a week and a half. (And at work I felt the earthquake that was centered about 250 miles from me. That was my first and very strange.)

In 17 days I will again depart for Planet Triathlon. Destination: Patriot's Half in Williamsburg, Virginia. It'll be my first half iron distance race. I won't be super trained up for it but I'm excited just to try the distance, see how it goes, and maybe learn a few things for the next time.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tri-Talk

This clip was shown as a lead-in to the highlight reel that kicked off the awards ceremony at Age Group Nationals.  It's a funny take on the conversation habits of triathletes. I can vouch for the accuracy because on our 13 hour trip home with two vehicles and seven triathletes, the vast majority of our conversation was about triathlon - gear, races, travel, nutrition, supplements, strategies, training, personalities, etc. It's good we got it out of our systems because it saved our spouses, friends, and coworkers from having to hear it all!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Age Group Nationals: Team USA at ITU Worlds...me?!

Picture from my Bike-Cam
This is the final AGNC post as I am now home from what felt like Planet Triathlon in Burlington Vermont.

In the "it can't get any better than this" department, and thanks to the age-up rule, I qualified in the #17 spot to represent Team USA at ITU Worlds in Auckland New Zealand in October, 2012.  I finished #39 in the 40-44 age group but since I will be in the 45-49 age group for Worlds, I get compared to the now 44-48 year olds. The top 18 get a spot. I WAS FLOORED! The texts flew from my phone as fast as I could type: Coach Jim, Kurt, Krista. Then I called Robert and of course my mom and dad. No matter how old you are, you still want to share this kind of thing with your mom and dad.

Kate Buss, a high school senior from my town, earned a spot for the Olympic distance. In the sprint distance, Team USA offers went to my treasured friend and traveling companion Kimberley, as well as area triathletes Mike Morris, Betsy Henderson, Donna Williams, and Marshall Wakat.  My fellow Endurance Films Racing Team members Liz Baugher, Scott Endsley, Brannon Potts, and Diane Camet earned spots as well. Betsy, Donna, and Marshall shared about their past ITU World experiences and I got really excited. Good I have a year to figure out logistics and finances.

I'm glad to be home and looking forward to a normal week after the whirlwind of the last 10 days. We left after the awards ceremony last night and got 3 hours of driving in yesterday and the remaining 10 today. It was great fun to travel with six other area triathletes in two vehicles, it reminded me of some kind of co-ed high school getaway (minus the alcohol and with a way earlier bedtime). It's been an experience I will never forget with friends who made the experience rich and memorable.

I leave you with the highlights from AGNC, produced by my sponsors and makers of top training and instructional DVDs, Endurance Films: (there's a quick bit from my bike-mounted camera on there!)


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Race Report: 2011 Age Group Nationals

It was a mighty fine race day, indeed! I knocked it out in 2:27:29 to finish 39th out of 108 in my age group. Thanks to the age-up rule, I also qualified for ITU Worlds on October 22, 2012 in Auckland New Zealand. (The age-up rule means I was compared to people who will be in the 45-49 age group at the time of Worlds) My number-loving husband came up with this from the online results:

829/1624 Overall Finishers
182/650 Female Finishers
61/332 Female Masters Finishers

Hey, I'll take it!

This is the quick race report.
finisher's medal and "Wacko" beer!
Swim

I had no warm-up on anything, no swim, no run, no bike. This was a cold start (as in not warmed up), but the day was gorgeous and the water was perfect. We jumped in off a dock and lined up. It was announced that among our age group was an Olympian! This is Nationals after all. I settled in fast and got busy drafting. The sun made it kind of hard to see the turn buoys and the whole lot of us did not swim straight. The spectators were saying later how wide we all went. It's funny how a whole pack can do that. Like lemmings we just follow those around us. My swim was a 29:18, nothing stellar, but I enjoyed it and didn't get mauled. There was some chop out there and in T1 I felt a bit dizzy but the wetsuit came off fast.

Bike

Given the road conditions, I was happy to finish with no mechanical issues. I saw a fair amount of carnage along the way as there were lots of potholes and some areas of road that were buckled. I swear I caught some air on one bump that got me. I passed quite a few people in my age group plus a bunch of older, but tough, women. The swim wave order was all mixed up and the 30-34 year old men were behind us and a bunch of them just blew past me, their disk wheels purring and the sounds of shifting gears reverberating. I held my own, averaging 21.3 mph, finishing in 1:10:00.
Run

My Garmin got stuck on "locating satellites" forever and I finally gave up. My goal pace was 7:20 but without my watch, I had no idea how I was doing, how far I had run, or my time. But guess what? My average pace was 7:21. Dang. I kept it happy and positive too. It's funny the thoughts that run through your head in the loneliness of a race. I thought of all the support I had heading into this from family, friends, coach, trainer, blog readers, facebook posts, and my new Endurance Films Racing Team. I drew strength from all those pieces and parts. I thought about the craziness of the last 8 days. At one point I swear I heard Kurt's voice in my head, pushing me on. I laughed out loud and found some extra energy. The run always leaves me feeling humble and grateful, somehow just stripped down to bare emotion.
Thank You

Sometimes I still can't believe that I am a triathlete and that I am living this dream.  Thank you Robert for your encouragement and support, and for keeping the family going when I am racing and training. I love you. Thanks Spencer and Grant for understanding why I wasn't there for your second and third days of school. I am so proud of you both. I'm grateful to Oma Therese for standing in for me when I am out of town and for generally pitching in to make our chaotic family schedule work.

Coach Jim, you always seem to know just what to say, just what I need, and just when I need it. I could not possibly do this without you. Thanks for putting up with my hairbrained ideas! Thank you Kurt for helping me to find a better balance in my life. Your encouragement means a lot.

Thank you Mike for talking me into this crazy race. You were right, it was worth it!  Kimberly, I'm so thankful we roomed together, this would have been very lonely without you, and we'll be enjoying more time together on our 15 hour ride home!!

Thank you Eric and Danny and all my Endurance Films Racing Team members! This experience was so much richer because of you all!!

Thank YOU to my readers. I hate that my blog does not let me respond to comments in any sort of way, but I do read it all, whether on TriCrowd, Facebook, or right on the blog, and appreciate it.

My goal is and remains to encourage others to dream big, get a game plan, and then just do it. Have some adventures and see what your body can do......

More later....whether you want it or not.  We are headed to the awards ceremony to finish off the experience, then we'll start our journey back to Virginia!

Age Group Nationals: More Pre-Race

To pick up where I left off yesterday... the plan was to check my bike into transition before a team meeting for filming at 5 pm. I got my bike out of the hotel bike check and noticed the front tire seemed low again. I pushed the bike about a half mile to transition for the bike folks to check it out. We discovered the front had a slit and the best fix was to put a tube in my tubeless tires but they couldn't do it there, so I pushed/sprinted with my bike about a mile to the local bike shop, SkiRak (which is amazing). I dropped it off there and sprinted back to meet the team. I was frustrated but my mantra this weekend has been to just "roll with it." I knew there was a lot of uncertainty and things would happen. I couldn't get flustered and let it affect my fun or positive race energy.

I met up with the team where we did a some filming and had a lot of fun with it! Then I dashed back to the bike shop and finally got my bike into transition. I said night-night to Teddy Roo and got back to the hotel.

I've never seen so many beautiful bikes...check out this wheel!!

For this race they give you "Tri Tats" which are temporary number tattoos for your shins and arms. At most regional races they just use Sharpies. Kimberly suggested we put the tattoos on the night before which was a good thing, because it took some time. We both made a classic rookie mistake and forgot to take the plastic off one number, thus transferring the number not to our skin, but to the plastic. Luckily she had a Sharpie and we just improvised and wrote those numbers in!

We did these right
I slept great, got up, ate my usual oatmeal, had some electrolytes and water with Scivation Xtend (BCAAs).

I headed to transition and was getting organized when I heard a voice and saw a person who I swore was Tara, the winner of The Biggest Loser (I forget what season).  Last winter and spring I watched reruns of that show while I rode on the trainer and she was my favorite contestant. She won every challenge and just never ever gave up on herself. So I went over and asked if she was Tara, and indeed, yes!  She seemed kind of nervous like the rest of us and we had a conversation about nutrition on the bike. We compared plans and decided we were both OK. She's training for Kona and this was a training race. She planned to add onto the run to get a solid training day in. I was so jazzed to meet her!!

Me and Tara!!
 The last pre-race thing of note is that Eric and Danny of Endurance Films asked if they could put a small camera on my bike to record the course. It was maybe 6 ounces or so but what the heck. It recorded audio too so on a few occasions I added in some commentary. Some was intentional, some (the sailor talk) was not.

bike mounted camera
 With everything set to go....it was race time!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Age Group Nationals: Pre-Race Day

This morning began with a warm-up swim in Lake Champlain at 8 am. I met up with the team and we were all a little more relaxed as our collective travel adventures (bike problems, delays, etc) were behind us. It didn't take us long to feel connected and for personalities to emerge!


Siphiwe and Me
Silly boys...
In front of Sip's rig..
At one point I was talking on the dock with Eric and Danny from Endurance Films and with another guy who was putting on a wetsuit to join the swim. In the course of the conversation I discovered it was none other than Rob Urbach, the new CEO of USA Triathlon! My quick take on him? He's a great listener and fully invested in the future of the sport.

The water temperature was pretty ideal for wetsuits and there was just a bit of chop as you'd expect for such a large lake on a breezy morning. The swim was short, but enough to feel good about the conditions. Quite a few on our team (that would NOT be me) are distinguished swimmers, including Sip (Fitness Trucking Founder) who made it to the Olympic Trials at one point for the 100 free and barely missed making the team.

Late morning I headed to the expo to check out the products and enter all the drawings such as free lunch with Jared Fogel of Subway and a Computrainer! I also bought a new bike bottle since airport security nabbed mine since it had water in it. I ran into most of the Roanoke, Virginia folks at the Expo: Sam, Donna, Betsy, Kimberly (my roomie!), Marshall, Mike, and Mark. I saw Ryan the day before, and with Kate, I guess that makes at least 10 from our area.

Representing Southwest Virginia!
Kimberly, Marshall, Mike, Me, Betsy, Donna, and Mark
Remember the story about discovering Grant's (my son) online friend's dad was also coming to the race? Well, Tom and I met up at the Expo! He's a great guy and I hope someday we'll be able to get our two kids to meet up in person.

At noon the Endurance Films Racing team gathered for some photos and video ops. Afterward, my cheap self bummed a ride from some fellow athletes back down to the waterfront rather than pay for a cab. I wanted to get back to the hotel to eat and rest up before this evening's bike check-in.

sweet bike!
Our hotel room is pretty funny. Kimberly and I both brought food. We have two refrigerators, a microwave, coolers, and tri gear everywhere, including on the headboards:

Triathlete hotel room - kits drying from the morning swim!

As for me, I'm feeling good and relaxed but all the excitement has put me in a slight state of brain-fog!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Age Group Nationals: I made it (phew)

I flew to Burlington, rather than drive, so I could be at home yesterday for the kids' first day of school and presumably have an easier trip here. Oh, the sense of humor of the travel gods.

The plan was to fly out of Roanoke at 7 am, fly through Philly, and roll into Burlington fresh as a daisy by 11 am. The reality was I got on the plane in Roanoke, got off the plane in Roanoke, sat in the airport for 2-1/2 hours while storms moved through Philly, then missed two opportunities to connect to Burlington. The second was a near-miss involving a wild sprint though the airport. It might have been my fastest 800 interval to date. So much for my rest day. Then I had to sweat it out on standby, but I made it. I hugged the gate guy who gave me my boarding pass. I finally arrived at 3:30 pm, then things improved. My checked bag with all the food miraculously made it.

My bike and gear, sent with another local tri family, arrived at my hotel almost simultaneously with my cab.  The shuttle arrived just as I headed to the Expo, where I met my teammates as well as Danny and Eric from Endurance Films. I also got to see the beautiful Endurance Films Racing Team custom bike by Kane Custom Bikes. The rear disc wheel looks just like an Endurance Films DVD. I will get a picture of it tomorrow.

The Endurance Films booth

I headed out for a short bike ride with EFRT members Laura and Casey, and all was right in the world again. The venue is beautiful, I have already met so many wonderful athletes, and I am excited to swim, bike, and run here.

I learned today that there are some 140 or so competitors just in my age group. WOW!  So while I will be racing my heart out, I have no expectations on the outcome side of things. I plan to be in the moment and enjoy the whole experience. I think it will be good for me to race against the best of the best and see what is possible thus raising the bar for myself.

Riding with Casey and Laura. How's that for mobile picture taking?
Tomorrow morning the EFRT will meet up for a group swim to start the day off.  Off to bed, I am exhausted.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The world is small, my suitcase is not

My techie kids, ages 9 and 11, run a server for a game called "Minecraft", played on by ten or so kids across the world (one is from Iceland), and the kids will Skype each other and build collaboratively in this virtual world. So today I hear Grant having a conversation with the Arizona friend, and they discover that they each have a parent going to Age Group Nationals. What in the world are the odds of that?! So now I am hoping to find him in Burlington. That's probably weird of me, but oh well.

The bike and gear bag left yesterday, which is good, because I could focus my packing neuroses on the suitcase and carry-on. Two-thirds of my suitcase is allocated to food! I have enough food packed for 2-1/2 days - oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs, apples, Wasa bread, almond butter, casein, and granola. I made three each of two kinds of meals and froze them in ziplock bags. One is diced and roasted sweet potatoes and red potatoes with ground turkey and the other is corn meal, mixed veggies, chicken, and flax seed meal. I won't win any awards for meal presentation, but it's cheap and easy and my stomach will be glad for it.

 meals-on-wheels, right down to the small roll of paper towels
I should arrive in Burlington by lunch tomorrow and my first outing as part of the Endurance Films Racing Team is a group bike ride in late afternoon.

I'm hoping to meet lots of TriCrowd folks at the race, so if you see me, please say hi! (Especially if your kid plays Minecraft with mine ;-)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dodged a bullet

I was cleaning off my bike today to get it ready to be transported via a friend's van up to Nationals tomorrow and discovered a big-time flat front tire. I tried to pump it up and heard the telltale pshhhhhh sound of rushing air coming out between the tube and rim. I'm wondering how long it was like that and if it happened during Sunday's race? At any rate, I certainly dodged a bullet.

I have tubeless tires that came on the bike and found out they have to be filled with sealant periodically. I had no idea. Just like I had no idea for the first month of bike ownership that with a presta valve you have to unscrew the end before filling the tire or you are doing nothing. Duh. I did a lot of nothing.

What else do I not know?

Ugh. So it will make an emergency trip to Just the Right Gear tomorrow, because my car is in the shop getting a new radiator today so I can make it to the airport on Thursday.

Maybe I need to go back to my days of riding horses, but with my luck we'd throw a shoe!!

Race Report: Luray Double


I completed the Luray Double (Virginia) this weekend, with an Olympic distance race on Saturday and a Sprint distance on Sunday. That brings me to a total of 12 triathlons in my two year triathlon "career". The double has been a goal of mine since last year when I did just the Olympic and really wondered how it would feel to do both. I can wonder no longer. I really enjoyed it, I felt great throughout, and the icing on the cake was a 3rd place Master’s finish Saturday and a 2nd place Master’s finish on Sunday. This whole town rallies to put on a top-notch event in a beautiful venue with phenomenal crowd support. That's why the event continues to grow in size and caliber.

Luray Olympic – August 13

Truth be told, I was nervous for this race. It was my first Olympic distance tri of the season (and only third ever) and just a week out from Age Group Nationals, also an Olympic. It was a dress-rehearsal and I wanted it to go well.

My car made the three hour trip to Luray (never a given anymore) and I settled into some kind of retro 1960-ish motel that was very clean and well-maintained but wow you don’t see bathrooms like this anymore. My friend and fellow-racer Tanya arrived that evening.

We drove to the race site pretty early and were rewarded with…. the furthest possible parking spot. However, the long trek to transition gave me the chance to discover that I can push my tri-bike from the seat rather than the handlebars! I used to think it was so cool when people could do that! I never could manage it on the roadbike but it was explained to me that the weight distribution and geometry makes it easy to do with a tri bike but not so much a roadbike. They also warned me that riding with no hands is not too smart on a tri bike, so I will cross that off my “learn-to-do” list.

This was my biggest race to date. (I know there are lots that are bigger, but for me from the sticks, this was big) The race sold out at 700+ and 388 men and 195 women (583 total) finished the race. There were imposing, smartly-uniformed teams from the DC area and one team arrived with multiple tents, a slew of logoed camp chairs, a buffet, and a massage tent. I, conversely, had a Gatorade, some granola bars, and my butt with which to sit on the ground! Eh, but the race is a great equalizer.

This was my last race weekend in my trademark blue and grey “One on One Endurance” trisuit. It’s one-of-a-kind and I’ve worn it for every race but my first. It's a little hard to let it go. But starting next week I’ll be wearing the Endurance Films Racing Team kit for the next year which is pretty gosh darn exciting!!
Swim
The swim is a crazy perimeter-then-triangle pattern to fit the course into the little lake. I felt solid on this swim, and drafted for probably half of it, which was new for me. I still ended up in about the 65th percentile so there is plenty of room for improvement. Swim speed remains an elusive mysterious concept for me and I’m not sure if it’s physical, mental, or some of each.


Bike
At the beginning of this season we set out to improve my bike leg and I’m happy to report this was my best bike ever. My bike split was the fourth fastest of all the women on this fairly technical course. At this race last year I lost my chain twice but on the new bike it was smooth sailing. I caught up to Melanie, another 40-year old, on the course and we passed each other several times. She looked strong and I knew I had to keep her close.

Run
My energy and legs felt great starting the run. (You’d think I’d learn by now that how you feel at the start is a poor indicator of how you will feel at the end.) I was shoulder-to-shoulder with Melanie from the bike course. I accelerated to see if she would hang, and fortunately, she didn’t. Then I made my usual stupid decision to ignore my watch and my pace and just “go by feel”. That would come back to haunt me as my pace dropped with each passing mile: 7:06, 7:25, 7:29, 7:56, 8:15, 8:29. DOH! But I survived to hear the sweet sound of horns and cowbells calling from the finish chute!
Results
9th overall; 3rd Master’s Female
1500m Swim - 32:25 (68/195)
T1 - 01:45 (5/195)
26+mile Bike - 01:16:34 (4/195)
T2 - 01:36 (75/195)
10k Run - 47:17 (9/195)
Total - 02:39:36

Post-run/recovery
I did my post-race jump in the lake to cool down. Then I followed Coach Jim’s very specific recovery instructions which included hydration, food, stretching, compression socks, and sitting. He also cautioned me to resist my usual after-race on-my-feet socializing! He knows me too well. I did as I was told and sat in a chair at the massage tent and waited my turn for 15 minutes of bliss. I got back to the motel and iced, rolled, stretched, propped my legs up, and refueled. I had packed all my food and was glad for it. I tried to nap but to no avail; the endorphins prevented that. My friend Krista arrived and we headed into town to pick up our packets in a total downpour! She started to worry about the weather and I just figured if it was bad it would add to the adventure.

Luray Sprint – August 14

I woke up feeling pretty relaxed, loose, and ready to roll. Despite threats of horrible weather, the morning was quite nice! Coach Jim emailed me with a reminder just to to “have fun” today, but I figured I’d just see how I felt on each leg and go accordingly. I wasn’t going to give myself a big excuse to slack off as I kind of wanted to see what I had left.

Swim
The swim was more chaotic and opportunities to draft didn’t last long. I’m feeling more confident and comfortable in the swim but it's not translating to faster race times yet.

Bike
Because it had rained heavily the previous night and the roads were wet and gravelly I took the corners more conservatively. This was not the time to take risks. My legs felt good, but my pace was off what I had done the day before. Still, I passed a LOT of people and had a LOT of fun!

Run
This was when I started to feel the effects of the previous day as the legs were a little sluggish on the run and I could feel my quads on the downhills. I wanted to run happy on this and had no desire to go to that last leg-burning, lung-searing final gear. Obviously I didn’t as my splits were 7:32, 7:31, 8:06. I saw my favorite rival and friend Ellen Sortore ahead of me a good bit on the run and she was going strong. She finished as the top Master’s. The real bar-setter was the overall female winner, Hillary Cairns at age 41! She was amazing (and tiny!) and her finish will keep me working hard to improve at the sport.

Somewhere on the run the lightbulb went off and I realized why Coach Jim had a number of back-to-back tough workout days on the training schedule. Those efforts helped me to stay strong all weekend.

Results
13th/219 overall, 2nd Master’s Female
750m Swim - 16:00 (68/219)
T1 - 01:45 (7/219)
17 mile bike - 53:28 (8/219)
T2 - 01:18 (52/219)
5k Run - 23:49 (18/219)
01:36:19 (13/219)

Day two!

Aftermath
I made the 3-hour drive home then unloaded and helped my husband clean up and get laundry going from their camping adventure. Then I was in bed, asleep, by 8 pm. Today is starting with a recovery massage, then it’s work, family, and getting things packed up for Nationals. But that’s just one race. It should be a piece of cake!!

I am very thankful and indebted to Coach Jim, Kurt, and my family for their continued support and input! Next stop: Burlington!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

One day and one race at a time

I'm packing food and equipment, getting ready to leave for the Luray races after lunch. Yikes, it's really here!! I'm taking things one day and one race at a time.

This week we got the official schedule for the Endurance Films Racing Team at USAT Age Group Nationals so that is suddenly feeling very real. Among the events, it includes plans for a group ride and group swim. I am glad that I will be scheduled and busy while I am there. One of our sponsors, Jack Kane Custom Bikes, is creating a custom Endurance Films Racing Team bike to be unveiled at the race. It reminds me of the bike version of Orange County Choppers.

I'm not the only busy family member. Robert and the kids have been camping at the New River with friends all week, and I've been dropping in on them for the afternoons. They will get back Sunday, as will I, and then the house will become laundry/muck-out central. Monday is meet the teacher night for both kids and they start school Wednesday. Spencer will be going to the middle school and that means the kids will be on two different schedules. Annd then I leave on Thursday for Age Group Nationals (talk about mom guilt!). My bike is going up with one family, I am flying one-way to Burlington, and then I am driving back with two girls from the area.

A little craziness is good for us all once in a while. Then regular life seems so much easier!

a moment of tranquility at the river

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Letter to myself


Dear Me,

You’re four days out from the Luray Double, eleven days from Nationals, and it’s been seven weeks since your last race. You needed that solid training block but you know it’s always tough when you haven’t raced in a while. It’s only natural to start to wonder if you still have IT. You know…the heart, the ability to suffer, the desire to push hard and want it.

Well, you do.

You’ve shown it in your training. You’ve gutted out threshold intervals in the pool, on the bike, and on the roads. You were afraid of the two miles at sub-6:50 pace but you did it…twice. You weren’t sure you could do the swim laps on 50s cycles but you did. You hammered up Harding on the bike and jacked your heart rate up into a new zone. And on your little “aerobic ride” yesterday you just couldn’t resist blowing past the poor guy up ahead of you, could you? Felt good, huh?

Yes, you’ve got IT!

Coach Jim knows how to get the best out of you and he put together training plans that let you discover for yourself what you can do. You are gaining speed and strength. Think of the PRs on the bear squat and H squat that you hit with Kurt.

You’ve given your best to each and every workout, you’ve been fueling well, and resting and recovering. You have addressed physical issues and your legs are feeling better than ever. Think about how much you love training and love hard work, now you're just taking it on the road.

You ARE ready!

Take each day and each race as it comes. It’s a lot of travel and a lot going on with work heating up, the kids starting school, and the Endurance Films sponsorship, but trust that the energy and focus will come when called upon. Continue to focus on nutrition and rest then have faith that you have done all you can do. On race day, run your race and be confident that your mind and body will know what to do. Enjoy the journey and let go of things outside of your control.

Be fearless!

Keep it positive and be grateful to God for the opportunity to swim, bike, and run in beautiful venues with amazing people. Savor the feel, the sounds, the rhythms, and yes, even the pain.

You are a capable triathlete, but you are also mom, wife, daughter, coworker, friend, and neighbor. At the end of the day you are loved not for what you do but who you are.

Race happy and enjoy the ride!

Love,

me


Monday, August 8, 2011

Mike Morris: Racing a Triathlon in Every State and Continent

2010 ITU Worlds - Budapest
Michael Morris (58) is a business owner, CPA, triathlete, and past race organizer from Roanoke, Virginia with an ambitious goal – to complete a triathlon in all 50 states and 6 "inhabitable" continents before turning 60. He is currently at 36 states with VT, CN, UT, and AZ (plus some local races) still to come this season.  Mike will represent the US at ITU Worlds in Beijing on September 10-11.

Mike has been a triathlete for 26 years and has competed in 5 Ironman races, 5 Worlds, and somewhere around 2-300 triathlons.

I met Mike during a race just this past May and our paths have continued to cross. He is directly responsible for talking me into going to Age Group Nationals. He's an excellent ambassador/arm-twister for the sport :-) and I thank him for his encouragement.

I was intrigued by his quest and what drives him and thought others might be too, so on to the interview!




What is your athletic background and what got you involved in triathlons?

I started running in April 1982. My first goal was to run 3 miles nonstop by my birthday in October. Then everyone I knew was doing a 10 mile run up Mill Mountain to the Star. My next goal was a marathon. I completed the Paul Bunyan Marathon in Bangor Maine in July of 1984, then the Marine Corp Marathon in November, then decide that I wanted to do a triathlon next year. I started swimming in January and did my first triathlon in May of that year. After doing some races including a half Ironman in September of 1986 called the New England Tinman in Wellsley, MA, I set an Ironman goal for 1987 and in September I completed the Cape Cod Endurance Triathlon(iron distance). I believe less than 5000 people in the world had done Ironman at the time and there were only a handful of them around. With a young family this was the only one I could drive to.

Mike in 1987

I cut back on triathlon to spend time with my kids and build a house. I coached Little League, softball, football, basketball and helped with lacrosse. I started back in 1995 and entered the Disney marathon then returned to triathlon in August of 1996 which was the first race in NC for Set Up Events. Since then the sport has experienced explosive growth. There were very few races when I started back and now there is one on almost every weekend day in VA, NC, and SC thanks to Set Up.

Mike, when I first met you at the Appalachian Power Smith Mountain Lake Sprint Triathlon in May of 2011, I discovered you had a hand in starting that race. What is your involvement?

I became involved with the Commonwealth Games of VA while competing in the Summer Biathlon (running and shooting). I went to Smith Mountain Lake to do a 5K swim. We took our bikes, rode off the course and ran the run course after the swim. Next I worked with Pete Lampman who I had met in connection with the biathlon and suggested a triathlon as part of the state games. We chose instead to make it an independent event so we could give out medals to non-Virginians. It became one of their biggest fund raisers. We had 135 people in 1998. I did manual timing and we did all the setup. I introduced Pete to Bill Scott, with Set Up Inc and they have done the hard part of the event ever since. It was the only triathlon in the area for a few years. The “Y” fall race was started a few years later. We have had a field over 500 participants until recently with the proliferation of races.

Meeting Mike on the run course in May 2011
What inspired you to take on the challenge of a triathlon in every state? When did you start, and where do things stand now?

I was sitting in an airport and had a copy of USA today and was looking at the state news section. After doing the crossword I had a pen in my hand and I started marking off states I had raced in and decide that I could do them all. I had done 20 at the time. That was a few years ago. I was at 27 at the end of this year and the closer I get, the more it becomes my “white whale”. I should do 13 states this year with 4 “double race weekends”. I will do 20 multisport events if all goes as plans, five more than I have ever done before in one year. That leaves 10 states and 2 continents to complete my goal of states and inhabited continents (6).

Red states have been completed to date

What have been some of the more unusual things you have experienced or seen as you have raced around the country?

I saw a guy in Michigan going to the swim with his wetsuit on backward and zipped up in the front. A guy was riding the bike with his aero helmet on backward. I saw a guy cut the bike and run course short and collect his award in NYC Tri. Had a snake curled up in the middle of the highway ready to strike in the rain in NC as we rode by on the bike. I was in a naked triathlon!

What are your favorite races? Are there any races you still would like to do?

Kona has always been on the list but at this point in my life, only if I could qualify for it. Wildflower has always intrigued me. I want to complete my continents with 70.3 races in South America and Africa. I will wait until 2013 to pursue those I will be in a new age group.

Your race schedule is crazy, with back-to-back weekends of racing, sometimes racing twice in a weekend. It’s a lot of tiring travel, yet you are a consistent competitor finishing pretty high up overall and in your age group. How can you get into race mode so often? What measures do you take to hasten your recovery?

After 26 years it is still just a swim, bike ride, and run. These weekend doubles started when I was training for Ironman races. What would you rather do for a weekend off, do a sprint on Saturday and Olympic on Sunday, or ride 112 miles on Saturday and ride 90 miles on Sunday and then swim 3500 yards? It was a weekend off so to speak. You will not have a top performance but these are not “A” races. I am experimenting this year with the concept of racing myself into shape. Race morning is the time to get psyched. Anything before that is a waste of energy. I have always trained hard. I think to race hard you train hard. We are triathletes, we do things that would make a billy goat puke. I run at midday. Runners would never wait until 11 AM to start a half in summer heat yet that is what we do in a half. If you do not train for it or harder than what you are going to do, then you can slog through it but cannot race it. You can ask the body to go harder or longer but never longer AND harder. Recovery is a function of age. The older I get the harder it is to recover. Truth be known sometimes you just have to suck it up. Just get it done and shut the F up!

How do you train? What is a typical training week like for you? Have you always been self-coached?

My normal training week without any long distance races is 5-7000 yds swimming, 25 miles of running and 200 miles of cycling. The upper end of that when training for long races is 10-12000 yds swimming, 3-350 miles cycling and 35 -40 miles of running. There were no coaches when I started and who has been doing this longer than me? An independent analysis might be helpful but at this point I know what I can do, how to plan for a big race, and the mental tenacity to complete the plan.

How you maintain an interest and keep up your training year after year to remain competitive in the sport so long?

First you need to understand this is not a sport but a lifestyle for me. My circle of friends are runners, swimmers and cyclists. My social life is my training groups. I also use it to keep my weight in check and to stay fit, but it is more than that. At this point in my life it defines me. I also love to compete and it has always been my yardstick of my progress for all of the hours I put into training. After dragging my big a$$ out of bed in the dead of winter to run, and swim in the cold, the race is the reward. All of those days of training usually translate to 10-12 days of racing. A huge amount of effort for a slim number of reward days, wouldn’t you say?

What is your strongest leg of a tri?

I think my right leg is strongest. Ha ha. I started out as lousy swimmer and running was my strong suit. I learned how to swim in 1998 after wasting 13 years in the sport. I went from coming out of the swim in the lower third to coming out in the top 25% after a weekend of Total Immersion. Biking was always strong because of where we live. As I have gotten older I have slowed down running. Swimming is still good but my cycling has gotten better. Go figure.

You know I love that picture taken when I met you on the run course last May. You clearly have a lot of fun with the sport and that enthusiasm is contagious. In fact, I have you to thank/blame for my decision to go to Age Group Nationals on August 20. Playing devil’s advocate here…what is so great about that race?

Nationals are the essence of our sport. It is the best of the best. The Olympic race with their qualifying standards assure that the field is a field of champions. The transition area is a triathlete’s dream of equipment. Award ceremony of city names from all over the country. It is THE place to race for the serious triathlete. It is our Boston Marathon.

Is there anything else you might like to share with the TriCrowd.com readers?

One of my greatest moments was the first time at Worlds in HI in 2005. As I did the the 2 lap run course I heard someone in the crowd yell, “Go USA, Go”. I looked around at the guys running with me and I was the only one wearing a US uniform. It then dawned on me that they were cheering for their country but they were also cheering for ME. It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I will remember those voices yelling for me along the course until the day I die. I almost did a 3rd5k to hear the cheers again. It happened again in Switzerland. As I ran by a small cafĂ© late I the race almost totally alone on the course, I heard a little voice with a slight accent yell, “America, America”. It gave me chills. They hooked me worlds and China will be my sixth.

Let me also tell you about my heroes. It is not the “gifted” pros. It is the oldest guys and gals in the race. I aspire to be one of them one day. To stay in the sport until my eighties would be my lifelong goal. They are working so hard to keep up the racing and training and the field of athletes cut in half every age group forward from here. Statistically I only have a 1 in 4 chance of making it to the 65-69 age group. It scares the hell out of me. I know one day this will end. I do not know when but I treasure every day that I can still do this.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How pink flamingos got me through a procrastinated swim workout

I am typically pretty OCD about getting workouts done on the day they are assigned or sooner if I need to make schedule adjustments. But delay them? Not if I can help it.

But I decided to push Friday's swim to Saturday because my folks were still here and I wanted as much time as I could get with them. Plus the workout included a 1000y time trial that required some focus. Then Saturday I was so annoyed with myself for having postponed it, and having to do it after a scheduled run, that I felt very childishly grumpy. So I put on my happiest swim suit - the new pink flamingo one - and headed to the pool with the kids.

I knocked it out under some heavy clouds that threatened to boom at any moment and end my swim early. Then like anytime I do something a bit begrudgingly, it went well and I felt SO much better afterward.

Surely the new pink flamingo suit helped. Spencer snapped this picture not long after....see...no evidence of grumpiness! Swimoutlet.com had a big sale recently and I picked up two suits, including this one, for $15 each. It's simply impossible to be grumpy swimming in pink flamingos.

Lifeguard Rachel is looking at the clouds rolling in!
Training volume drops off considerably in preparation for the Luray Double this upcoming weekend. It's an Olympic race on Saturday and a Sprint on Sunday. At the same time, hubs and the kids are off for a big camping trip with friends. Then I'm home for three days, the kids will start school, then it's off to Burlington to meet my new Endurance Films Racing teammates and race in Age Group Nationals. It will be a crazy two weeks, but I'm ready for the ride!!

Incidentally, Grant's Karate group did a demo at our town's summer festival. I'm super proud of him and put a short clip of some of his moves and his board breaking up on the family blog.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Vulnerability

Last week seemed full of reminders of personal vulnerability - in training and in life.

Last Sunday I was riding solo and ended up in an unfamiliar area as I took a road further than I had previously to see where it would go. It's a rural road, nothing out of the ordinary, but my paranoia increased proportionately to my distance from home. Despite trying to apply logic and "odds" to the situation I really creeped myself out and pedaled hard when I turned around to head home.

Monday I had a meeting with a faculty member who arrived with a splinted arm - the result of an encounter with a post-rain runoff gravel patch in the S-curves of the very road I bike each week. He's got a wrist full of plates and screws and plans to sell his bikes and retire from riding.

Thursday we had reports of an alleged gunman on the Virginia Tech campus and the campus and much of the town was on lockdown. Nothing came of the report, but around here we take threats very seriously.

I manage my own vulnerability in training as best I can. I tell someone (usually hubs) where and when I am running or biking, when I will be back, and I report back when finished. I pin my car key, tagged with emergency phone numbers, inside my shorts. (tag is a metal pet ID tag) I wear bright clothing and carry pepper spray and my phone in my bike jersey pocket for easy access. A rear-view mirror mounted on my glasses allows me to keep a close eye on things behind. I am vigilant and monitor road surface conditions ahead. A strobe light is added if there are visibility concerns (although I probably should use it always). I ride early when traffic is minimal but avoid foggy conditions. New or long routes are done with companions but I confess to doing my "usual" routes largely solo.

safety items
One of the greatest joys of riding and running is the sense of freedom and exploration that they bring. Perhaps it's not such a bad thing they also remind us how vulnerable we are. From vulnerability comes a certain gratefulness.



Side note: I enjoyed a visit from my parents who were in town the last four days. We saw the kid's summer theater production and Grant earning his brown belt in Karate. We hung out at our town festival, Steppin' Out, plus my dad repainted my patio furniture, thanks, dad!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Endurance Films Racing Team....eh, me?!?


Speechless. Floored. Excited. Nervous. (a little anyway)

I was selected for one of just 11 spots on the inaugural Endurance Films Racing Team!  It was announced today at 4 pm via the video below and I already can't wait to meet my teammates. This is unreal. Unreal!  All I know is I plan to have a LOT of fun and do my best to show that we moms train and race hard too!


The back story is that I saw the Endurance Films call for applications on the TriCrowd.com Facebook page. They asked for a 2-300 word statement or a 60 second video. I'd never made a video before but my gut just told me to go for it. Thanks to iMovie, and help from my 11-year-old technology specialist and son, Spencer, we put a video together in an afternoon. It was the day before the TriAdventure Summer Sprint race. Spencer filmed me on the track (yes, I sprinted repeatedly the day before a race), picked the music, and Photoshopped my head onto the Endurance Films logo. We had such a great time putting it together! I knew no matter what the outcome, I would always be glad for all the laughs and the shared experience with Spencer.


And what does a newly minted member of the Endurance Films Racing Team do upon seeing the official announcement? Make the kids watch the video, call mom, dad, husband, post on Facebook, then.....drive one child to a sleepover, receive another child, fold two loads of laundry, and now to hit the gym and grocery store! Gotta get stuff done, training goes on early tomorrow as scheduled with USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals quickly approaching!

Thank you, Endurance Films, USA Triathlon, Jack Kane Custom Racing Bikes, Training Peaks, and Champion Systems.

Easier the second time

Today was a repeat of last Friday's tempo run with the workout calling for a two mile section at sub 6:50 pace. I used the same course, went out the same time of day and conditions were nearly identical. I had the same average 6:48 pace.

Only this time I was not at all nervous or keyed up about it like I was on Friday because I knew I had done it once and I could do it again. It felt so much easier - mentally and physically. My heart rate was about 4 bpm lower too (that may or may not be a statistically significant difference). Plus I wasn't counting down hundredths of a mile for the last quarter mile or audibly groaning.

I understand now why Coach Jim planned for me to repeat this workout. The first time left me just barely feeling like I could do it. The second time left me confident and ready for more. I like seeing as Coach's intended training plan reveals itself to me.

The legs are feeling great, energy is high, and the body is definitely adapting to the increased demands. I'm ready for part two of race season!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Repurposing Apples

I think I got a bummer bag of apples, and the tragic thing is they are Pink Ladies, my favorites. Even with copious amounts of peanut butter they just were not palatable in raw form. So I did the mature thing and ignored the bag in my crisper. From their cozy, undisturbed location, they have taunted me on a daily basis.

It finally dawned on me today to repurpose the apples and baked apples came to mind. Thanks to the Internet I learned that a melon-baller is just the thing to use to core them. Stuff them with a little brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts, and add a splash of apple juice in the pan. Then cover, bake and enjoy!! And enjoy we did!!

they look better in person, not so washed out

Food has a much different role in my life now. Three years ago, in my pre-triathlon days, I ate horribly and had no interest in food preparation. I used to wish my kids could eat some kind of processed "kid chow" like the pets do. Just scoop it into a bowl and ring the dinner bell! A lot of food was wasted. The reasons things changed:
  1. I got a rudimentary understanding of applied nutrition thanks to my then-trainer Jake.
  2. I experienced how what I ate affected how I felt and performed. I felt like crap when I ate like crap. I felt super when I ate super foods. I want to feel my best when I train and race.
  3. I taught in an Earth Sustainability course series as part of an interdisciplinary group of faculty and by learning about food systems, I learned that all food is not created equal. An egg is not an egg is not an egg.  Books like Ominvore's Dilemma (Pollan) and field trips to Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm contrasted sustainable farming methods with the ugly side of industrial food production.
Three years ago these apples would have remained in the crisper till they rotted and I tossed them. I have too much reverence for food to do that now. I know what these organic apples draw from the soil, the clean water they require, and labor needed to harvest them.