Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bike checkup day

Today both bikes got a bit of work done. The QRoo got the race wheels put back on along with a "K Guard" to prevent a dropped chain to the inside -- as I had last Saturday for the first time ever on this bike. I could probably blame poor shifting as I came too fast into a stop sign, but this small piece is good insurance for a race.

The Jamis road bike got the rear wheel trued up.

The QRoo rides inside the van, safely nestled between the front and middle seats. The Jamis rides behind the van, exposed, on the rack. I do feel a little bad about that inequity. 

Steve, owner of Just the Right Gear, and original owner of my QRoo, does great work and I just love his shop. It's simple and unassuming from the outside, but very well-stocked, organized, and full of collective wisdom. It doesn't matter what day of the week or time of day I am there, it's always a hub of activity. I just happened to snap the pictures without people in them.

Just the Right Gear was named a "Top 100 Bike Shop" by Bicycling Magazine last year and it's easy to see why.

I very much appreciate Steve's generosity and support of this race season!!

Attending to the QRoo

Sorry to leave you hanging out there, Jamis, I love you too!
Verifying his work with a quick spin on his old ride!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Family resemblance

The wind-induced "helmet mohawk" can't be very "aero".
Then again, it doesn't seem to slow Grant down.

Weekend workouts and season's firsts

This weekend provided a much-needed shakeup to the regular routine for both the family and the workouts. The kids' last day of school was Friday and we were all ready for a bit of a blowout. We enjoyed the elementary school spring festival Friday, a cookout at the new creekside neighborhood fire pit Saturday, a meetup at the New River Sunday, kids farmed out for sleepovers, and dinner with friends Monday. Thankfully the weather more than cooperated.

My normal eating habits got a shakeup too with some ummm "adult beverages" in the mix but I'm back on it today. Race day is looming with the local Salem super sprint on Sunday (300y pool swim, 15k bike, 5k run).

Workouts have been fresh and fun with lots of season's "firsts"  --
  • Thursday - First double-brick of the season (ride-run-ride-run) with the second ride at sprint intensity and then "ripping" the first mile of the second run. I love that stuff -- wondering what you might have left at that point and then just digging in and leaving it all out there!
  • Friday - First lap swimmer of the season at the outdoor pool. I know this because there were no lanes up initially, they had forgotten!!
  • Saturday - Wilderness Road Ride.
  • Sunday - Off day that turned into season's first swim in the New River with my 10-year-old. The river was pretty brisk and I was hesitant to go all the way in, but this is the kid that is good at "daring" me and then joining in. Together we swam/waded/dolphin dived upriver and down - twice - about 1200y total. It was one of those really special mom-and-son times, I sure do love my kids.
  • Monday - First speed work on the track in probably a year (related to injury and risk). Intervals and speed work are typically built into my road runs but there is something very raw and exciting about a track workout. You can't blame terrain or elevation -- it's just your effort and toughness pitted against time. There is nothing like the track to make you feel like a serious runner -- and to make you appreciate just how fast a 4-minute mile really must be! I'm hovering just over 6 and would very much like to log a 6-minute mile (or sub) at some point.
Grant warming up in the sun after our second swim upriver (his third)

The rest of the week is a bit of a taper with a focus on stretching, nutrition, and rest. Have a great week everyone....and it's Tuesday already!!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wilderness Road RIDE...not RACE

I rode the 58-mile Wilderness Road Ride for the third year in a row (write-ups from 2010 and 2011). It's cool to be to a point where I am doing races and rides for a third time, and I pretty much recalled the whole route and knew where I was for once. Conditions were perfect and the company was great!

My instructions on Training Peaks were "have fun, that is the only goal today." This was followed up by a more direct email that said "keep the ride social and fun’s not a race."

Yes, yes, I know. It's a RIDE with convenient friendly refueling stops. This is one of the few times a year where I eat and enjoy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cut into four of those perfect little white bread triangles! YUM!

One of the PB&J stops!

I met up with friends Mark, Mike, and Tim for the ride. I did the best I could to not "race".  But who is not going to drop down a mountain as fast as they possibly can, or take advantage of a smooth and straight stretch of road to whoop it up a bit?  Plus we did a fair amount of talking (and smack talking, haha), so there's no possible way it could be "racing," right?

With 3000'+ of elevation change there were plenty of nice descents to enjoy. Here's the full Garmin map and data.

Tim and I turned out to be a pretty good match so we decided to push on and regroup at the support stops. (Mike was just coming off marathon training that ended with a fantastic Boston Marathon so his bike mileage hadn't been built up yet.) From mile 20 on Tim and I cruised about 19 mph and my average heart rate was still in the aerobic zone, so clearly, this was not "racing" -- but it sure was "fun"!

Me with Tim

At several points during the ride we passed by cemeteries, and spotted people placing wreaths and flowers for Memorial Day and my heart ached a bit.

The ride was safe and uneventful other than dropping my chain coming into a stop sign. Tim showed me a trick to use a stick to get the chain back on without getting grease all over my hands.

Mark is a character!!

I sure do love this ride that supports FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and brings us through quaint little towns circling Claytor Lake - places like Snowville, Newberne, and Rogers. Mark is the Outdoors reporter for the Roanoke Times so he knows a lot about the area (see Mark Taylor's Wild Life) and he shared stories of a 10-day cycling and canoeing trip through the area, and the poor town of Rogers that got dropped off of the map! We sure are fortunate to live in such a beautiful region that offers so much in the way of outdoor activities with rivers, lakes, mountains, and valleys.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend everyone...a time to remember those who have died in service to our country.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My one-of-a-kind cycling jersey

Look what came in the mail today!!

This is quite a departure for me. All my other cycling jerseys (total=3) are very plain (unlike my running shoes). This is my first one that says stuff! And cool stuff -- with my sponsor logo and some customization on the sleeve. Can you read what it says??

Hopefully folks will see this and think about pedal power AND sustainable energy options...we've got to drastically slow down the rate at which we are using coal, oil, and natural gas. I'll spare the diatribe, but it's scary, getting harder to ignore, and politicians and lobbyists are screwing us over.

Solar Connexion was ahead of its time, launching its solar energy contracting business over 20 years ago.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Team USA Fundraising Kickoff

This is a weird, awkward, angst-filled post to write. Take a deep breath (sigghhhh), jump right in, here goes: 

I'm kicking off a campaign to raise support to get to Auckland, New Zealand in October to compete on Team USA at the ITU Age Group World Championships and I am asking for help.

There. I said it.

When I earned the Team USA spot last August and committed to getting myself to this race, I pledged to finance the majority of the trip through a creative combination of sponsors, individual support, and odd jobs. It's very expensive -- at least $5500 for the flight, room, race fees, uniform, expenses, etc. Crazy, yes, I agree!!

It turns out it's very difficult to get corporate-type sponsorships as an individual, even when you offer services in return to work with their employees and fitness missions. However, I'm very fortunate to have strong support from Solar Connexion, our region's premier solar energy contractor. With my background in sustainability education and community renewable energy projects it's a great fit.

In addition, I've had some friends and family earnestly ask to contribute. I am now offering a way to do so and am very humbly asking for that support. You can use the button below or the "widget" at the bottom of the page!

This trip will not cure a disease or directly solve any of our countless and dire global problems. But I intend for this journey to further show how sport can renew our spirit, deepen our character, build courage, and provide hope -- traits that are sadly falling in short supply among us. That is what drives me in triathlon and compels me to see this through to a World Championship.

I give my most sincere thanks and deepest appreciation to all who offer support and encouragement in any form.

Direct links to support pages: [Pledge Team Support for Cort] [Sponsors & Supporters]

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Minimizing training impact on family

I do this:

 While the kids do this:


A trip to the New River and back, 38 miles done by 9:30, before the 12-year-old had even thought of stirring and the 10-year-old was barely up. I love early sunrises that make this sort of thing possible! (thankfully they do NOT have my sleep issues, lol!)


Friday, May 18, 2012

Energy Check

My energy levels have been quite good over the last six weeks, corresponding to the timing of my return to running. The reason this is surprising and notable is that I've been sleeping horribly and I'm starting to wonder if this is related to lower body fat, age/gender, or just a phase...a long phase.


This sleep issue has been going on for the past two months. I'm asleep by 10:30 (sometimes as early as 9:30), but then every night I wake up 2-3 times, and always around 3:15 am. After that, I drift in and out until 4:30 or 5 when I finally get up.

The dog sleeps just fine...
This means I'm getting around 5 hours of decent sleep, which just doesn't seem like enough....or is it? I feel pretty good during the day and my workouts have been strong. I've had a few days where I hit a wall (i.e. kids, feed yourselves..I'm fried!), but otherwise, no complaints.

I've tried melatonin, GABA, and arnica, but I wake up at least twice during the night regardless. It doesn't seem to be stress or busy-brain...neither is it the need to pee! I have NO problem falling asleep, just staying asleep. Maybe this is just the way it is going to be now, and since I feel OK I guess I just won't worry about it.


I am about at my leanest right now and I am wondering if that is playing a role in my sleep issues. I mentioned in a previous post that I made some small changes in my diet this spring - mainly ditching the grazing, upping the green veggies, and giving up Diet Coke (yay!).

Over the past few years as I was changing my eating habits, I did a good bit of detailed meal planning and macronutrient tracking, but I would only keep that up for a couple of weeks at a time. It's very tedious but it was/is an important part of the process. Now I am happily at a point where I have a basic plan and can eat intuitively to maintain.

With Kurt's help over the past year, I fine-tuned what works well for me. I prefer to keep complex starchy carbs (rice, grains, potatoes) to a minimum and include more complex fibrous carbs (veggies, mainly green). I stay more sated this way. My main meals used to consist of veggie + protein + starchy carb, now they are veggie + protein. I have a more carb-heavy breakfast but otherwise I don't deliberately add in starchy carbs, other than the days leading up to a race. Enough carbs find their way into my diet without me trying.

Here's a typical day of food for me right now. I have a nut/nut butter addiction...yes.
  • Breakfast (5:30 am) - 2 slices of sprouted Ezekiel bread with crunchy almond butter + coffee
    ====== morning workout =======
  • Mid-morning (10 am) - Greek yogurt + flax seed meal + mixed berries
  • Lunch (1 pm) - Broccoli + lean ground beef + feta + Stubb's BBQ sauce (sounds strange but yummy)
  • Mid-afternoon (4 pm) - Apples and peanut butter with the kids. A piece of dark chocolate.
    ====== afternoon workout =======
  • Dinner (7 pm) - 2 egg scramble + mixed peppers + spinach + tomato + hummus
  • Pre-bed (9:30 pm) - casein protein + quick oats + peanut butter (all mixed together with water)

I'm by no means a food "puritan". I do enjoy the occasional pizza, meal out, french fries, ice cream, frozen yogurt WITH toppings, wine, beer, and all things chocolate. I just include them thoughtfully.

I'm happy with where I am in terms of training and nutrition, but I am hoping I can get this sleep issue turned around.

One-on-One Endurance Day

Coach Jim's clients span the world but I am fortunate to be among the contingent of local athletes.  A few of us swim together pretty regularly but getting together to bike and run is considerably more difficult with all of our different schedules and demands. One exception is the "annual" May One-on-One Endurance day, complete with the portable transition area!

We were fortunate to have Justin back in town from his second year at George Washington and Jim from Richmond, Virginia who was able to adjust his work travel schedule to be with us! So we had a nice little group from college kids to us master's folks -- but all fairly well-matched on the bike. (Of course, I've been logging the miles, while Justin can just pick up a bike after his school year and hang just fine!!)

We started with a group ride and transition to a brick run, then followed that up with the 6 mile, 2400' climb up to the top of Mountain Lake -- 10 MPH up, 30 MPH down!  I had done this ride for the first time in December and made considerable gains, cutting about 8 minutes off the ascent and 1:30 off the descent (about 10k). Edie and I were the first ones down, motivated by our grumbling stomachs and need for food!

It was a great day of catching up and reconnecting!!

Top of Mountain Lake

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Do these shoes make my butt look fast?

I'm very excited to finally have picked my racing shoes for 2012: Saucony Kinvara 2s in Citron and Green! The neon green Xtenex laces are on their way, then they will be perfect!

Mom, if you are reading this, yes, you DID raise me to know better. I know, I know, athletic shoes are supposed to be white. One must always be prepared for a spontaneous game of tennis and I love that you still enjoy the game! And that your shoes will match anything you wear!

But you had to know I had that rebel streak in me and better it should come out in running shoes....than say...body piercings, right?

The other shoes in my rotation are the Brooks PureFlow. In Black!!! Mom? Are you still reading?

I run exclusively in lightweight shoes with a minimal heel drop (these are 4mm). Then the color combo has to be just obnoxious enough to make me feel WILD and HAPPY.

Wild and Happy Me = Faster Me

Even though the new Kinvara 3 is out, the available color combos just didn't give me that "thing" I needed. Plus I raced in the Kinvara 2's last year (pink and black) and they worked great.

Is anybody else this weird about shoes??

I would like to thank Ian and the staff of Runabout Sports for four years (and counting) of shoes! It's pretty cool to walk into a store where they know your preferences (hang-ups), training and racing volume, and even your shoe size!! They are much more than a retail store, serving as the community running hub!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Swimming: Arghhhh!

Swimming is incredibly maddening sometimes. Arghhhh!  I enjoy it, I really do, but at the same time I can't believe the mental energy and time that goes into analyzing it, thinking about it, and working on the minutiae. Hand entry, catch, pull, push, recover, roll, breathe, body position, kick...repeat!

It seems just as I chase one bad habit off, two more pop up in its place. It's a bit like a twisted game of Whack-a-Mole.

If you are like me and you didn't swim in high school or college (or really ever before triathlon-ing), it seems the best we can hope for is to swim well enough to be able to draft off of those who swam in high school (forget the college ones - they are off on their bikes before we get to the final turn buoy).

We are fortunate to get regular swim video and consultation/analysis with Coach Jim. This latest video showed that I am doing a better job of leaving a goggle in the water when I breathe. However, I've developed a lateral "wiggle" as seen from above, my legs could come up, and my elbows have dropped. That means my arms are too straight in the catch and pull and I'm sacrificing the mechanical advantage. The classic analogy is that when you push yourself out of the pool up on to the wall, you do so with bent arms. Straight arms are far weaker.

I'm officially launching "Operation High Elbows" to rid myself of this once and for all (haha).


And to help with that....a little retail therapy in the form of not one new pair, but THREE new pairs of my favorite goggles to get me through the season - the Aqua Sphere Kaiman. Goodbye yellowed chlorine-wrecked goggles.

"Operation High Elbows" begins Tuesday. The workout is 30x50 on a tight-for-me 55 seconds. Yeehaw!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I will sometimes get comments about being "an inspiration"  and while I know it's a compliment, to be honest I have never been comfortable with that. It feels funny given I am just doing what I have been lucky enough to discover and I don't feel deserving of such credit. It's not as if I'm doing something heroic or overcoming some great odds.

I didn't know exactly why I felt so funny about it, since I do hope that the fun and energy that I have discovered through sport and fitness will influence others to seek the same. In that sense I really do want folks to be inspired -- in the adjective sense of themselves, not in the noun sense of me!

A recent situation helped me finally get to the root of the issue.
I was waiting on my youngest to finish up at a birthday party and I was chatting with the other moms (and one dad). I had just finished a morning brick workout that included a rough 35 mile bike ride in an unexpected cold heavy rain. I had been under-dressed and miserable. I toughed out the ride and finished up with a great run that all-in-all left me pretty pumped.

Somehow my brick workout just "came up" in the party-waiting conversation. (LOL!) Honestly, it does come up!! Most people who know me go with the "how is training" greeting rather than the standard "how is life/family/weather/etc."

Anyway, about a week and a half later, I saw one of those moms at a school function. She told me that because of that conversation and discovering that I had worked out in such adverse conditions, she decided she could get up off the couch and start doing something. At that point she had done something every day for five days including bike riding and some easy running, mailbox-to-mailbox just like when I started! Her excitement was palpable and I was so happy for her! I offered praise and encouragement and said I would check up and see how she was doing.

I felt great to think that I played a small role in her getting up off the couch! She was inspired to move, and I am totally comfortable having a role in that!

So I figured it out. If you feel "inspired" you need to finish that sentence. That goes for me too.

Inspired to do what? 

Inspiration without action or change is just ethereal....floating out there doing nothing. (I could put some kind of great quote here from some famous or smart person, but that isn't my style.)

The next time you are feeling inspired, please, put that into motion! Do something with it. Make a change, just a small one! I am going to be aware and do the same thing. Inspiration can come from many sources, it is given and received without cost, but empty of value unless i do something with it.

Photo Note: The picture up above shows a happy me who thought I had just finished 5 x 2 miles threshold intervals today. I found out when I got home and looked at my data that I had only done 4. How's that for inspiration, LOL!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Switching out bike wheels - an easy 90 minute job!

Monday I settled back into training, hitting the gym in the morning and planning for an easy recovery-type ride in the afternoon. Since my next race is not for a month, I thought it would make sense to switch back to my normal wheels on the bike. I've watched the bike gurus do it effortlessly, many times. Can't be too hard right?

Apparently for me, yes....very hard.

With only two arms, no bike stand, no knowledge of the "tricks" like moving the derailleur out, I struggled. My confidence waned and my frustration grew. I was afraid of breaking something.

I searched Youtube, carefully typing out "install rear bike wheel" with my greasy hands and my rising blood pressure. I watched all kinds of people do it fast because they had a bike stand....oh and a CLUE.

I finally conceded, putting the whole mess in my car and hauling it off to East Coasters where Anne and I wrangled it back together. It took a bit of time (likely because I was "helping" haha) and definitely some effort. We had to tweak brakes, the cadence sensor....  Then I took the bike out to discover a clicking sound - the spoke magnet was hitting the frame. Some set screws were fiddled with and all was well. By that time about 90 minutes had elapsed so my hopes for a ride were dashed. I returned home to feed the troops and then finally resorted to the bike trainer at 8 pm. Few things frustrate me more than a plan not coming together.

In three weeks I will have to repeat the whole process. I have this underlying fear that if I do it myself things will not be optimal. There is something reassuring about having the experts give it a once-over and their seal of approval.

I really need to get over this phobia I have of working with my bike.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Race Report: A WIN at the Smith Mountain Lake Sprint Triathlon

This was a breakthrough race for me, a home run. I hit significant PRs on the bike and run resulting in 1:13:03 race -- a 5:33 improvement over last year’s time (2:21 off last year's run and 4:18 off the bike). That was more than enough for the overall female WIN! My first ever!

Simply said, things came together in a way that exceeded my expectations. I am still shocked by how this race unfolded.

I had the fastest bike split, fastest T1, and second fastest run among the women. Here are my times and rankings compared to the women and the men in the race (Full results here):

  • Swim (750m) – 00:15:16 (20/120 among women; 80/215 among men)
  • T1 – 00:01:23 (1/120)
  • Bike (20k) - 00:34:36 (1/120; 16/215)
  • T2 – 00:00:56 (6/120)
  • Run (5k)– 00:20:53 (2/120; 19/215)
  • Total – 01:13:03 (1/120; 20/215)
Now for the back story, for those who care to continue!


This is essentially our “home town” open water swim triathlon so it’s a really welcoming and supportive atmosphere where I get to catch up with all the local characters. This would include race organizer Mike Morris, who I met at this venue a year ago and who was the guy who talked me into Nationals! I'll always be grateful to him and for that bit of serendipity.

I also caught up with Betsy Henderson who was the Grand Master champion at Sprint Nationals last year. I first met her at this race two years ago when I was a newbie and I was blown away by her performance and state of fitness. She beat me soundly then, and narrowly last year. This year she flat out said, “It’s your year to take it, Cortney.” That brief exchange was deeply meaningful and a valued affirmation from a triathlete who I very much respect.

The first race of the season is tough for anyone, and certainly for me. After a pretty successful season last year and a solid winter of training (minus the 6-week run layoff) I couldn't help but feel some pressure that left me wondering if I still had “it”. You know, that ability to dig and be tough and really race!

With about an hour to go till the race start, I withdrew from the social scene seeking some quiet solitude. Coach Jim had the right words ready for me and then he took me through a swim warmup to get me prepped.


Is there ANYTHING quite like that feeling when you hear “ten seconds”? I think not. I took a deep breath and at the sound of the horn, exploded into the water.

I had positioned myself at the front of the pack for the first time ever, not wanting to have to pick through people at the start. The plan was to hold back for the first 250 but dig in after that. I settled in quickly and found my space. I reminded myself to reach and roll and to keep high elbows and not resort to “scrappy swimming.” I found myself a little wide after the first turn buoy and never got into a good position to catch a draft off anyone. We were too spread out and it didn't seem worth it to hunt someone down. Despite feeling generally solid and aggressive on the swim, I was about 35 seconds slower than the previous year. One thing's for sure, I’m always glad to get the swim done to move to my favorite events and so I love the sprint up to the transition area.


The wetsuit gods were smiling and it was a smooth "extraction". I threw on the glasses and helmet, ran the bike up the hill (passing people), and did my usual step-over mount, with my shoes pre-clipped in and the left one tied up, ready for my foot. Best T1 of the women!! Woohoo!


My Garmin data has me at 22.2 mph over 12.66 miles. It’s a somewhat twisty course, not closed to traffic, and one section heads out to a busy boat landing. On two occasions I saw trucks up ahead hemmed in by bikes fore and aft. Right or wrong, I made the decision to pass these vehicles on the left, the only option that I felt I had. I know there is a rule about not crossing the yellow line, and I may have, but what does a person do in that situation? I knew I was taking a chance, but that’s what racing is all about.

I passed a LOT of people on the bike! Man, I just LOVE the thrill of the hunt! The whole ride was basically just one big pass for me and no one passed me. Any time I hit a downhill, I said out loud to myself, “Free Speed!!” and squeezed everything I could out of it. I never let up, and I kept my cadence from creeping up too high as is my tendency. I never ran out of gears either thanks to my new cassette.

On the last mile and a half I had a friendly passing duel with my friend Stacey Ballowe, also from Blacksburg. I edged him out on the final uphill. All part of the fun!

In a sprint I give no thought to "saving" anything. It's all-out effort, hinging on faith that the training will have left me with enough leg to get through the finish strong. My average HR on the bike was 167 as compared to 169 on the run. Up until now, my bike HR has been significantly lower than on the run, so this is good news that my biking quality is catching up to my run quality.

In case you were wondering, nope, no aero helmet. But I did break out the nice Giro Ionis helmet that Steve Hetherington (my bike guru from Just the Right Gear) had passed along to me. So I was on his old bike and in his helmet and with the new wheels. A winning combo! Oh, and another big first...I finally gave up my glasses-mounted mirror for racing. The time had come! My last remaining piece of original equipment from my first race is my bike shoes. Three years of sweaty bare feet in get the picture.


6th ranked T2. I blame the socks!


This was my best 5K EVER (Garmin Data here), in a triathlon or road race, my first sub-21 minute one, done at a 6:43 pace. Splits were 7:11, 6:53, and 6:19. 6:19!!! In the last month of running, I tapped into some kind of newly discovered wellspring of speed that I could hardly contain. I chalked it up to the 6 weeks off running that left me doubly hungry. I am also racing leaner than I was at the end of last season, and I know now I want to maintain that. I stayed relaxed and pushed to run what I thought I could sustain for a 5k, leaving a little for a final kick.

Like last year, I met up with Mike Morris on the run, but this year there was no time for a photo-op. I kept on accelerating all the way to through the finish chute.

I didn't tell Coach Jim or ANYONE but I had a secret goal of a sub 7:00 paced tri 5K this year, I just didn't think it would happen at this first race and certainly not that far sub 7:00.  It felt awesome!


Coming through the finish I saw 1:25 on the clock, not recalling that I’d started 12 minutes off clock time in the fourth wave of swimmers. Betsy asked me my time so I said 1:25:something and she said no way. I had no idea. I didn’t need results to tell me I had run a great race, surpassing my own expectations, and I was positively giddy. Results were posted and I saw a few females on the list and figured my name would show up on the next sheet. It didn’t really matter, I was content. Some time later my friend Tanya looked me in the eye and said, “You WON.” “Won what?” “WON it…the whole thing.”

My next closest competitor, friend and teammate Crystal, was 1:20 back, and everyone else was 4:30 or more back from me.

That was a moment of glorious shock I hope never to forget. It was completely unexpected and not something that I even thought was within my realm of possibility. So cool!! Natascha Badmann won IM South Africa last month at age 45. Maybe at 45 I am just hitting my stride too!

General pre-award hubbub

Thanks, Coach Jim!!

Coach Jim and the girls...the boys had vanished!

Post-Race Fun

After the awards ceremony, and flying high on adrenaline, I went on a 20-mile bike ride (Garmin data here) with Mark Taylor and Mark Long who are both training for the Kinetic Half IM next weekend. It was meant to be an easy ride but I was so jacked up that I couldn’t help throwing in some surges. Mark T. later wrote that I “still did not want to let off on the gas.” I felt like I could have gone forever, except for the fact that I was suddenly ravenous and ready for copious amounts of solid food!

After the bike ride I met up with my family back at our State Park Cabin for some R+R (and food and yes, beer!). The boys' good friend Davis was along and it was nice to shift gears to just playing with them. (more on that...) I wrapped up the weekend with a 90 minute sunrise kayak trip from the cabin to the site of the race swim and back, enjoying my breakfast afloat! Then it was back home to unpack, do laundry, and get back to reality. No resting on the laurels, it's back to the gym Monday morning and on the bike Monday afternoon.

The kid flotilla - kayak, blow-up boat, alligator! No wetsuits for them!

Final thoughts

I said in my last blog post that I race because “I love the speed, the search for flow, the need for mental and physical toughness, the solitude, and the suffering.” With this race I found the whole package and then some. That surely doesn't happen very often so I will treasure this experience.

This was an expectation-busting race that reminded me not to think in terms of limits, only possibilities! It left me motivated and fired up --

Thank you!

Many thanks to my family who make this entire venture possible and who provided the great after-party at the lake cabin! The sport would not be half the fun it is without great friends and teammates to share it with. I am deeply grateful to:
  • Coach Jim of One-on-One Endurance, who has seen me through thick and thin for three years now.
  • Kurt Weidner, for guidance and accountability on strength and fueling.
  • Bryan Walsh of Solar Connexion for sponsoring my race season and feeding the "need for speed"
  • The Endurance Films Racing Team and our sponsors Training Peaks, Champion System, Eco Bottles, Jack Kane Custom Racing Bicycles, and Sweat Vac.


On with the season!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cort the Sport does Triathlon: Season Three

I'm about to kick off my third (THIRD!) full season of triathlon in two days when I race at the Appalachian Power Smith Mountain Lake sprint triathlon. It's been 6-1/2 months since my last triathlon and I feel a bit like the crazed race horse, ready to get into the starting gate and just GO already!!

After almost three years in the sport, my excitement and gratitude for it continues to grow. Part of that has to do with fighting through another pre-season injury and just being glad to be able to enjoy all three sports again. I've been running for a month, and this week I noted that my hip and glute were really off my radar, a sure sign that things are normalizing. The picture to the left was after today's short and quick brick. I was SO happy to be feeling good and strong and ready! I'd found the tri-top stashed in my closet this morning, and put it on for the first time in ages, remembering that I wore it at my first ever race. That got me thinking back, as well as forward, as I head into season three!

This triathlon "thing" started for me in 2009 when I did one "just" to try it out and see if I liked it. I started working with Coach Jim nine weeks before the novice-only race at Lake Norman in North Carolina. I was coming off of an injury (yes, even then) and pretty much got the accelerated course in swim and bike; I had about a year's running experience at that point. Well, clearly I loved it, and I set a goal of racing five events in the Virginia Triathlon Series the following year.

2009 - Lake Norman
My first full season in 2010 was really to learn the ropes, get some experience, and have fun. I did five events - three sprints and two Olympics. They were all open-water swims and the big accomplishment was moving up to the Olympic distance. That swim distance seemed very scary, and I still have a healthy respect for it! I had a successful year and set a goal for 2011 to race smarter and faster and perhaps improve my ranking in VTS and in USAT.

2010 - Luray International
In 2011 I did nine races including 6 sprints, 2 Olympics, and a half Ironman; that included a double-race weekend at Luray. Part-way through the season I signed up for Nationals which led to the opportunity to be part of the Endurance Films Racing Team. The 2011 season was about committing to the sport and taking chances. Doing a half IM, competing at Nationals, applying for the EFRT -- make no mistake, those were pretty bold moves for me.

2011 - Patriots Half

Looking ahead, I'd say 2012 is geared toward adventure and self-discovery. Adventure will naturally come with new-to-me races on the schedule, a return trip to Nationals (signed up for the double - sprint and Olympic), and the Team USA spot to ITU Worlds in New Zealand. This year, I want to learn how to get even more out of this body and this engine.

Over and above all of it though, I just want to continue enjoying the sport and the unbelievable feelings of "giddiness" that result from the training and racing. In a lot of ways, it still feels really fresh and new to me, and maybe that is the essence of what draws us to the sport. It is an endless source of challenge, reward, and yes, frustration too. But in a world that can become much too steady-state, it's those ups and downs that make life interesting.

I love the speed, the search for flow, the need for mental and physical toughness, the solitude, and the suffering.

I can't control who shows up on race day or what might come my way, but I can sure as heck remember why I am there. And none of my reasons can be measured, timed, or ranked.

Here's to a season of adventure and self-discovery!