Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Spirit and the Gifts that Matter

A week or two ago I took the scientifically validated and highly accurate How Santa/Grinch Are You quiz. I was not surprised by the result - 25% Santa, 75% Grinch.

I think it's just that the things I do like about the holidays were not at all represented. The quiz was mainly about gifts and movies and decorations and THINGS. I love the holidays themselves, but the needless emphasis on STUFF in our OVERSTUFFED culture saddens me given that we are already living far beyond what our planet can safely provide.

Exhibit A: The "breakfast sandwich maker". I saw this in a sale paper yesterday. I mean, who wants or NEEDS that?!

What I like about the holidays is not the "things" but the general work/life slowdown. I like our quiet empty college town and the free parking. I love having the kids out of school for a few weeks. I like the disruption to the routines and sameness of life. I like the family togetherness and traditions we share. I like making cookies and doing jigsaw puzzles. And I'm not opposed to all things - I enjoy the small surprises and unexpected gifts, given and received, that are just because. 

I like that the holidays allow me to be a little extra playful - with "elf" runs and rides, and swimming in a fun Christmas swimsuit. These put me in the holiday spirit, and help me give the gift I really want to give. That gift is to show that the best treasures of life can't be bought, boxed up, or wrapped. The real gifts of life are things of experiences, challenges, playfulness, and love. The real gifts are in us, in others, and right outside our doors!

If you know where to find them (hint: not in a mall), gifts will flow 365 days of the year.


So get out of the malls, shut down the computer, and despite the busy-ness of the season, make time to get outside and feel the air, hear the sounds, and connect to what matters.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to all.
May you be wrapped in peace and happiness.

....and do at least one silly thing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Finding motivation in the off-season

As mentioned before, I decided this year I wanted my November and December to be unstructured, to call my own shots for a bit. After five full years of racing and training, other than injury time-outs, I was ready to re-charge and Coach Jim was in full support. And from a coach's perspective, it seems silly to write workouts for someone who really shouldn't be and certainly doesn't need to be "working out" with any focus. I'm still logging what I'm doing, we communicate often, and we've begun planning for 2015. The real work will start in early January.

Left to my own devices, I didn't do a whole lot in November - I biked around 180 miles, ran 45, hit the gym a few times, and swam just 5700 yds. I felt a bit lost and absent was the satisfaction that comes from training. I started to look for some ways to motivate without the burden of a structured plan.

Along came the Runabout Sports December 100 Mile Challenge. I knew this was just the ticket and it lit an instant fire under me and lots of friends too! It has the perfect elements of community, flexibility, accountability, and fun. That very afternoon I hit treadmill for my own little speed workout, and I've been having a blast since finding different ways and places to get out and run!

Ironically, my two highest run mileage weeks of the entire year have been the past two!! This could be good base mileage to carry into January. (And now you know my little secret...I'm a low volume runner.)

I'm currently at 34 miles for the month.

The other place I needed a kick in the pants was the pool. I solved that with a new holiday swimsuit. In order to lower my cost-per-wearing of the Santa and Reindeer suit (which was more than the $30 I typically spend on a suit)...well, I pretty much have to go to the pool. It's not exactly something you can wear anywhere else!

It also helps to have friends at the pool :-) Good accountability!!!

Just a few small changes on the motivation front initiated a great ripple effect for me. 

If your fitness motivating is waning this time of year, find some new ways to get excited about it. Consider making a pact with friends, or try a different group fitness class, or get a new pair of running shoes. A change-up can have a big impact.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Florida A1A Half Marathon

I'm in Florida for 48 hours for the very happy wedding occasion of my company's Chief Connector!   This morning I headed out on the scenic A1A for a run, knowing I'd do 8, or maybe 10 miles toward the Runabout Sports 100 mile December Challenge. Impulsively I thought wouldn't it be FUN to do my own half marathon? (Well, to quote something I read somewhere, it was fun...until it wasn't.)

( might want to recalculate that supposed1630 foot elevation gain.)

Now that I'm done, of course in hindsight I will say it was fun. I saw at least 100 cyclists out in small groups, a lot of walkers, and a few runners.  I waved or said good morning to everyone I could.

I saw a lot of mansions, yachts, and expensive sports cars and thought about how no mansion, yacht, or expensive sports car could ever satisfy me more than a good swim, bike, or run!

At the half way point I stopped to take a selfie on this bridge and met Thor, a triathlete who lives in NJ and has a marketing firm in NYC. We had a nice race chat about races, warm temps, and work, then parted to finish our respective runs.

The drawbridge was up over the intercoastal waterway, and frankly I was glad for the excuse to take a little break! The bridge itself is a metal mesh and as I ran over it I imagined what if one of the little grates was loose and I feel through into the water?! The things I think of when I run....crazy.

To the nice man who told me I looked "energetic" at mile 10. THANK YOU. I needed that because I was feeling anything but.

At 13.1 miles, like a pot of gold at the end of my run rainbow, I found myself at a tiny hole-in-the-wall market where I stocked up on snacks and drinks at reasonable non-hotel prices. SCORE!

I hope your day is bringing adventure and proverbial pots of gold too!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Book Review: Mark Allen's 'The Art of Competition'

I've added a new and unique book to my triathlon library - The Art of Competition by Mark Allen with photography by Nick Borelli. (Website: Pardon the post-its in the photo above, they are marking some of my current favorite pages.

First, a little background --

Mark Allen is a 6-time Kona Ironman World Champion (1989-1993 and 1995). He went on to be named the World's Fittest Man by Outside Magazine and voted the Greatest Endurance Athlete of All Time by ESPN. He's in both the ITU and USAT Hall of Fame, and works now as a coach, author, and speaker.

What that list of accomplishments does not tell, is that his 6 wins were preceded by 6 losses, a streak that would cause most of us to give up on ever getting the win. A new perspective built with shaman Brant Secunda allowed Mark to stem the tide of losses, and find the peace, mental strength, and belief necessary to become World Champion - 6 times over!


Mark Allen knows a thing or two about hard work and the physical and mental sides of training and racing. The Art of Competition is a product of 25 years of reflection on what it took to change his mindset to that of a winner.

Triathletes are drawn to books with plans, numbers, and science that can tell us how to swim, bike, and run faster, in the least amount of time, while staying healthy, and attaining an ideal body composition. We look for the details that might give us an edge - a lighter more aero piece of equipment, some new training fuel, a quicker way to recover, a new coach, a sport-specific strength training routine, or a speed workout that is sure to lead to gains.

We spend time and money looking outward for the answers, but I'd argue few of us look inward. We don't know how. The Art of Competition gently opens the door to that process.

It's scary to think about our own insecurities, fears, jealousy, uncertainty, and doubts. Yet those are are the very demons we face on the race course, when we are truly alone with our thoughts. The relatively comfortable lives many of us lead do not offer many opportunities to build courage, invite uncertainty, or experience the discomfort of significant change. We tend toward the status quo.

Triathlon and other sports give us the chance to build our inner character. Mark Allen crafts the words that explain what we often feel in that process but cannot describe. 

The Art of Competition is over 200 beautiful pages with 90 quotes paired with stunning two-page landscape images. You might think you can "read" the whole thing in one sitting, but the fact is you won't. Each quote will leave you quietly thinking about your own experiences and character and perhaps ways to better develop the inner self. Many of his quotes have served as conversation starters with my children leading to far more interesting discussions than "how was school today!"

This is the go-to book when you seek inspiration and something bigger to chew on than endless thoughts about watts or pace or heart rate. These are the mantras that will help you to get more out of yourself, to find the courage, and the belief!

The book transcends triathlon and it's easy to see application of these mini-lessons in work/business, relationships, life challenges, and parenting.

The Art of Competition is a great gift idea for the triathlete in your life. Here are some samples from the book pulled from The Art of Competition Facebook page:

 "Excellence is not a part-time job."

"The final step is possible only because of the thousands taken before it."

"The greatest victories can't be seen" 

"Inner peace, then outer results. Not the other way around."

The Art of Competition was named the winner in the Sports category of the 11th annual USA Best Book Awards as well as a finalist for Best Cover Design: Non-Fiction. Pretty cool. They need a blog category ;-)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The WIN of Not Racing a Race

On Thanksgiving morning, Grant and I did the Drumstick Dash 5K in Roanoke, VA. It was our first year at home in Virginia for the holiday, so this was a new race for us. I was surprised when my 12-year-old Grant (yes, I am aware he is tall) agreed to go with me and I was further surprised that it was no problem to wake him up at 7 am on a non-school day!

This event drew 13,000 participants and raised money for the Roanoke Rescue Mission. It amazes me that this race in our small neighboring city is bigger than the Pittsburgh Turkey Trot that I've raced the last few years. Incidentally, in 2013, 870,000 people joined in Thanksgiving Day races, running 3.4 million miles (source: Turkey Trots by the Numbers, Competitor Running)!

Grant and I contributed 6.2 miles to the 2014 tally.

Grant was looking a little less enthusiastic at the race start.

I got a little choked up at the start of the race as I thought about sharing this beautiful morning with my son, thinking about the 300+ families that spent the night at the Rescue Mission, and feeling thankful for so much.

We lined up in the middle of the crowded pack. Grant was ready to sprint with his soccer goalie fast reflexes, then at the sound of the starter's pistol we took off at a...walk! He said "well that was rather anticlimactic!"

The pack thinned a bit and we could finally run, and as we did we fell into conversation about race strategy, the buildings around us, and life. We were not racing. I let him set the pace. We ran some, walked some, and stopped for photo ops like the giant inflatable turkey:

While I would love for this to be a seed that grows into a future love of running for him, there were no expectations, just the moment we were in.

Confession time. I had to work to control my hard-wired competitive and need-for-speed tendencies.
  • We got passed. I do not enjoy being passed at any speed. (My mind would be yelling, "Just so you know, I am NOT racing you!")
  • It is hard to resist pouring it all out and sprinting through the finish. But resist, I did, and we finished side-by-side.

My self restraint paid off. After the race, Grant said, "I'm not ruling out doing another one."


With plenty of energy remaining, I went home and ran another 7.5 miles around town in my turkey suit.

I got a lot of thumbs-up from motorists, I passed some guy on the sidewalk who laughed his head off, and the customers in Waffle House waved. I had a good time!

I made USAT's Thanksgiving photo this year. That's me in the bottom left in my Solar Connexion kit!

And in other off-season training news:

I continue to enjoy unstructured training. With several trips on the calendar for November/December, some extra family things going on, weather uncertainties, and the holidays, it's been really nice to have flexibility there.

I took most of November off of swimming but got back on the Vasa Swim Ergometer. I'm back at the gym, and doing essentially one training-type thing per day with one day off per week. Nothing too notable aside from a random 15-mile run I did yesterday, just to know I could do it.

That's all from here!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gear up for Winter Cycling

We've had a major cold snap here in Virginia, but I have come to realize how important it is for my sanity and well-being to get outside on a regular basis no matter what. Tuesday morning was absolutely beautiful - clear and sunny. My bike beckoned me. But it was also cold and windy. I was just not at all excited about the prospect of the bike trainer.

I've cycled in temps in the 20's before with no problem so figured with the right gear I'd be OK outside.

And I was!

I got in a nice 20-miler and was quite comfortable, aside from my finger tips getting a little cold when I rode into the headwind. This is what I wore: beanie under helmet, neck gaiter (KEY piece), tank top, arm sleeves, long sleeve shirt, wind-resistant insulated cycling jersey, cycling tights, socks, neoprene shoe covers, and two pairs of gloves. The reason for the arm sleeves is I was already dressed and decided I needed a little more on my arms.

In addition to dressing appropriately, stick to sunny routes and flatter, more rolling courses that avoid the extremes of sweating up a hill and freezing down!

Don't let the cold temps keep you locked inside! Get the right gear and get outside!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Race wheels are off. It must be the off-season.

The race wheels are off, the transition bag has been put away. I am reporting in from the secret underworld of the "off-season!"

Nearly two weeks in, I have been oddly at peace doing very little. I have had no urges for epic adventures of years past like solo century rides. I'm OK with not having a plan and structure! This is how it has shaped up:

Week 1
I basically did nothing aside from one on-purpose walk and sleep-running the PI miler race. Saki and Trixie provide daily reminders of what it means to relax.

Week 2 
I woke up and decided what I felt like doing. That amounted to one spin (to watch new Portlandia episodes), one swim (to get back with the group), one run (on the Blacksburg High School cross country course after dropping kids off), one bike ride (commuted to town for a meeting then tooled around).

Week 3
Will be a general continuation of Week 2. I will resume with the swim group where we are spending November working on strokes and turns which should be fun!

Through the End of December
Coach Jim used the word "transitional" to describe the period through the end of December. I like that word better than off season.  Rather than a shut-down, it's more akin to a "palate cleanser!"

Whereas previously I was very impatient to start building for the next race season, this year I know my body, and even more so my brain, need a recharge. They will get that during this transitional time. Although the whole of my training and racing season was only five months long, it was extremely focused and intense with the lingering question of how the run would return.

Looking back on my now five full seasons of racing, I see that I do best when I can start up the season with that high energy and drive like I had in May. And I see that I can ramp up fairly quickly and don't need a 12-month season. So for now I plan to play a lot, and not let thoughts of racing creep in...

....except for the traditional Turkey Trot / Drumstick Dash on Thanksgiving. But that is in costume so it counts as play :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Race report: Time Traveler PI Miler

Last night (this morning?) I ran the first annual Time Traveler PI Miler put on by the Science Museum of Western Virginia. It started at 1:50 am so that with the time change and setting clocks back an hour, we could finish before we started. I finished in 22:10 at 1:12:10 am, giving me a total time of -37:50 minutes!! How's that for a PR? (13/221 racers, 2nd female; Full results here)

My race week "strategy" included a taper of zero working out since the B2B race the prior Saturday plus a week of less-than-stellar eating capped off by carb loading with Halloween candy and beer the night before. I would not recommend this approach, but hey it was my off-season kick-off week and I took full advantage. I am cleaning up my act starting now!! (Yeah, yeah, off-season except for this little race)

I rode up with fellow crazy people Lynne, Carmel, Anne, Jessie (and TJ who took the photo below where we all look really warm and all our black pants look oddly grey).

...and I met up with other fellow crazy people including such notables as Nancy (top photo, left), for whom a 10-mile race that morning was apparently not enough for the day, Karen (top photo, in orange) who finds time as a 4th year medical student for her cute "little hobby" of Ironman racing including IMCHOO a few weeks ago, and Ron who has been known to sign up for (and race!) an iron-distance race just days before!

It was nice to be among other PI enthusiasts!

the parade of runners headed to the starting line!

It was really neat to do this out-and-back race on the Roanoke Greenway, lit up only by our headlamps and flashlights! It offered a quietness and peacefulness that you only experience in the dark. I didn't plan to go real hard, but I fell into race auto-pilot and enjoyed hunting down and passing the only other female I could see ahead of me (the winner was WAY far ahead).

The course was set up so that the turn-around point represented the edge of our solar system. Instead of mileage markers, there were signs letting us know which planetary orbit we were passing through! I kept wondering if they included Pluto or not, and I guessed not.

I felt my watch signal the passing of the first mile, but never heard the second. I kept thinking that second mile felt awfully long! Then when the watch went off, and I thought I still had a mile+ to go, there was the finish! Happy me!

In keeping with the Time Travel / Back to the Future theme, a DeLorian was supposed to be at the race, but ironically it broke down half a mile from the race, darn flux capacitor! It's OK, Dr. Emmett Brown made it there! He posed with 12-year-old Parker Albright and I. Parker was the overall female winner of the race, and I came in second to her, over 2 minutes back. Great job, Parker!

The best reward was the hot chocolate at the end of the race, which I am fairly certain was the best I have ever had. And that's not just because I was freezing cold. They also had PI in the form of giant Benny Marconi's pizza.

I would definitely recommend this race as just a quirky, fun, different thing to do! Great job, Science Museum of Western Virginia!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Race Report: PPD Beach2Battleship Half Iron Distance

This is my second year capping off my season with the PPD Beach2Battleship Half Iron distance race. I like finishing the year with a break from the all-out intensity of sprints and Olympics and it's hard to beat this awesome late October race at the beach!

Last year I finished this race in 5:15:26 (race report here), winning the master's division. Going into this year's race I thought best case maybe I could shave a couple of minutes off that time mainly in the swim and run, but I also knew it was just as likely that I could end up slower. One never knows on race day so I just went into it wanting a strong and happy race.

Coming in under 5 hours never EVER seemed within the realm of possibility. I confess I briefly thought about the math required to make that happen and quickly dismissed it. So no one was more surprised and thrilled than I was to have finished in 4:59:29. That was good enough for 10th overall out of 329 women, and 2nd Masters! Here's how the day went.


I arrived in Wilmington late Thursday and enjoyed a pretty relaxing Friday. Races are so much less complicated the second year you do them! I headed to packet pickup, chatted with the weekend's honorary host - tri-legend Michellie Jones, and dropped off my bike-to-run bag.

After that the fortyninegroup (me, Erin and John) had a spontaneous reunion/meeting in front of the Wilmington Convention Center! We do some work for the race (communications, social media, sponsorships) but by this point things were moving very smoothly and we were all very happy!

Then I took Roo to T1 bike check-in near Wrightsville Beach (#2118....drinking age and voting age is how I remembered my number).

I had a nice dinner and slept reasonably well for a race night, and awoke at 6 am to start the day, get to transition before it closed and then to the swim start. My wave was scheduled for 9:04.

Swim - 1.2 miles
56th/329 women

Thankfully, it was not nearly as cold this year and I did not need my chemical hand and foot warmers and three layers of clothing! The water was warm, perfect for a wetsuit, and there was a favorable push from the tide. The earlier swimmers had a bit more current assist, and those of us in the last wave had a bit less, but even so, once in the water we found ourselves having to swim against the tide just to remain on the starting line.

The channel is so wide that it's easy to get your own bit of space on the swim. Still, I did a fair amount of drafting and was pretty straight to the first and only turn buoy, then it's anybody's guess if I took a good line. I basically followed the crowd, so who knows.

I climbed the ladder up out of the water and felt my wetsuit being unzipped. I dashed off to the wetsuit strippers and then was on my way! I am not in these pics, but this is what that process looked like (these pics and more from Wilmington Star News Online). Then I ran through the showers and quickly to my bike.


My analysis: Overall a solid swim, feeling strong from start to finish and lots of technique-checks on my stroke. I should have positioned myself more in the front of the line of swimmers and gone out harder to find faster swimmers than I ended up with. I could have scouted out landmarks ahead of time to ensure I was on a fairly optimal line.

Nutrition: 6 am breakfast of oatmeal, PB, banana, coffee, OJ with nutritional yeast. Pre-swim (8:30 am) Clif Mojo bar, half a banana, a few oz of Gatorade.

4th/328 women

I laughed pretty hard when I saw I had the 4th fastest T1 of the women, considering I had to pee...and did. Here's my little trick: squat down while putting on your bike helmet and well, go ahead and pee. T1-P1, I called it. Note: this is best suited to a grassy, absorbant transition area.

As I was ummmm....finishing up, a volunteer came over (they are the best at this race!) and offered to put my wetsuit and gear into my T1 bag. These bags are then collected and transported to T2 at the Wilmington Convention Center for later pickup.

That guy makes me look tan. Few things are more attractive than post-swim cap hair.

Bike - 56 miles
2:37:10 (21.4 mph; Garmin data here)
8th/328 women

The bike started off pretty uneventfully, once I got my feet into my shoes which seemed to take an inordinately long time. I felt great, awesome actually, and fell under the spell of believing I could sustain a higher heart rate than I'd planned on. That worked fine, for the first half, until I realized I was probably pedaling closer to an Olympic distance (24 miles) effort level than a half (56 miles). But I'd had enough tough training rides to know I had some reserve capacity and pressed on, averaging about half a mile an hour faster on the back half than the front so I guess I did OK!

We had awesome conditions - very light wind, perfect temps, and sunny skies! I saw a number of people overdressed out there, fooled by the cooler morning, and was glad I opted for nothing extra. 

I passed a lot of cyclists including a few master's women that I noted (the 40-44's started two waves ahead of those over 45), and I was only passed by a handful of men (obviously the slow swimmers from a prior swim wave). At 30-some miles into the ride I got passed by a group of four - three master's women I'd passed earlier and a small guy with a disk wheel. They were very clearly riding in a pack now and they caught me by surprise. When they did not immediately break apart, I yelled in response, "You guys need to put some distance between you, that's not fair!"

The USAT no-drafting rule is: "keep at least three bike lengths of clear space between you and the cyclist in front. If you move into the zone, you must pass within 15 seconds."

One of the women in the pack with the aero helmet and shield yelled something back at me at that moment and several more times before the bike leg ended, but I couldn't make it out. Probably just as well, as I don't think she was saying "Good job!"

I wasn't quite sure what to do. In all my races I had never found myself in situation of pack riding in a race. I would back off, then my heart rate and effort would drop below what I wanted, so I'd bridge back up and sprint around in front of them and hold them off as long as I could, fueled by anger! I had a few short conversations with other riders and we just wished for course marshals to appear and bust them on this obvious pack riding. You can see the sprint level efforts in my heart rate after mile 40.

It was really annoying. It's not the fault of the race, as there were marshals out and plenty of penalties assigned. This group just got lucky. It just amazes me how blatant they were about cheating. I held them off in the final miles and pushed hard to T2 determined to finish ahead of them, which I did!

Nutrition: I took in an aero bottle of Perpetuem (270 cals), 3/4 of a Clif Bar (200 cal), and two or three caffeinated gels (180 or 270 cals). I never touched my second bottle that was just plain water.

My analysis I don't think I would have done much differently in the bike leg. I don't regret pushing my overall effort, even though I'm sure the surges hurt me. However, I think it was appropriate given the situation.



T2 at Beach2Battleship is a model of efficiency and service! You push your bike over the timing mat and immediately your bike is whisked away, valet style. You continue up around the interior of the convention center where a volunteer yells your race number into a megaphone and another volunteer finds your numbered T2 bag and hands it to you, while you continue running the perimeter. I diverted to the loo for T2-P2 (this time with an actual commode), accounting for the less than stellar T2. I did multitask and change my shoes while peeing, however.

Run - 13.1 miles
1:44:42 (7:59 pace; Garmin data here)
21/322 women

All the bricks, all the transition runs in training, they are never quite like the real deal of a 56 mile race effort on the bike followed by a 13.1 race effort on the run. Right from the get-go my inner quads were cramping and hurting; they would need to be managed to get me to the finish.

I sought that relaxed, holding back feeling the first few miles like I did at the half marathon two weeks prior, but even so, my heart rate was higher than what I thought was sustainable for that distance. I ended up walking through about every other aid station, taking 10s or so to get in enough fluids (and salt tabs twice). I hate walking in a race, just hate it, but just maybe that was the wise choice, who knows.

The aid stations are every mile on the run and they are amazing. Each was like a glittery oasis of energy and nourishment! There were lots of volunteers, and several tables with oranges, bananas, animal cookies, Heed, water, salt tabs, Coke, Clif Shot, Clif Bar, etc. I kept marveling at how well stocked, and how perfectly cut the oranges looked! It's funny what you think about out there. There were speakers and music on the course and a fair amount of shade. It's a flat out-and back course that winds around Greenfield Lake and is very pretty!

I truly cannot say enough about the support and volunteers at this race. The encouragement, the attention, the help, is absolutely incredible, particularly in transition and on the run course. (The athletes have been posting stories of awesome volunteers on the Facebook page all week and I hope the volunteers know the difference they make in our races.)

I arrived at the final aid station that had a "gridiron" theme and I noticed the green asphalt and football field type markings on the road. I knew then that it was just a few turns, a downhill, the cobblestones of Water Street and the finish. I saw my friend Kristin on the course and reached out for a high-five! She helped me find that final gear for the finish!

Thanks Kristin for the high-five just before this pic!

I've become one of those people who wears the race belt around my butt.
It's the only place where it doesn't spin around and annoy me.

Nutrition: two caffeinated gels (180 cals), water, Coke, Heed, four salt tablets.

My analysis: Now that I've seen my heart rate data (mid-160's) I realize I could not have pushed the run much/any more than I did. The walking may very well have saved me and my crampy legs from a blowup and allowed for better running between, but ideally I'd like to get through a future 70.3 run leg without walking. I felt mentally stronger on the run this year than last - more in control of the situation with healthy legs, but there is room for improvement staying mentally tough late in the race.

Having only raced this distance three times in four years, the trickiest question for me is how to optimally balance the effort between the bike and the run. My half marathon here was five minutes slower, about 5% slower, than the Hokie Half Marathon two weeks prior. But how much would I have to hold back on the bike to bring that run time down even even just a few minutes? So as I am typing this and thinking about it, I am realizing maybe I did OK with that balancing act. I pretty well maxed out the bike and the run, had a negative split on the bike, and did not drop off too badly during the course of the run. I definitely left it all out there. So yeah, I'm going to say "good job!"

(See this is why it's good to do a race makes you think about and figure things out!)


It was a bit before I found out I'd come in under 5 hours and I really did not believe it for a long time. There's something so nice about that sub-5 time that is way better than 5:00:01!! It makes me thankful I pushed on all the places that I did, and I am still just riding a wave of happiness and satisfaction from this race, and the whole year.

I was very sore after this race, probably the most sore I have been after a triathlon. It took three days for most of it to dissipate so I guess I did work pretty hard out there!

It was a real treat to receive my award from Michellie Jones, who incidentally finished 3rd overall in the morning's NHRMC 5K running an 18:50!!!! She spent a lot of time out with athletes, it was great!


I've come away with an even deeper appreciation for why people love this race, and why I love this race. It is born of the community of Wilmington and infused with tremendous energy and pride from the volunteers all the way up through the sponsors including PPD (Pharmaceutical Product Development) who are very hands-on. The race includes the PPD Heroes who have overcome medical adversity to race and it's awesome to see their purple jerseys out on the course!

Every athlete from the first across the finish to the last is made to feel like a rock star as volunteers go above and beyond as if your race is their race too. It is a monumental effort to put on a point-to-point race like this, with separate T1 and T2 areas, but from an athlete perspective it is so much fun!

You could say I am biased, because I do work on behalf of the race, but that also gives me access to the behind-the-scenes of this race, one of just a few remaining (and the most successful) non-corporate 140.6/70.3 race in the US. All I can say is a tremendous amount of passion goes into this race and it is worth consideration for your 2015 race calendar.

This was a fantastic ending to a really satisfying season that didn't even start up until late May. I have so many people to thank for this race, and all that led up to it.

First of all, thank you to Coach Jim McGehee, who has been my Coach for almost 5-1/2 years now since I first began the sport, and who has been with me through thick and thin. He does the hard parts of planning, scheduling, adjusting...and managing me (!), while I do the fun parts of swim, bike, run, and race! The best investment a triathlete could EVER make is an experienced and knowledgeable coach. The race wheels, aero helmet, power meters, gadgets, and gizmos are nothing compared to the guidance of a great coach, and Coach Jim is the best! So thank you Coach Jim for another great year!!!

Thank you to my beloved husband Robert and kids Spencer and Grant who accept my triathlon habit without question. Robert is my race statistician and while he is not real keen to be at the races, I always know he is at the computer while I am racing, keeping an eye on my times and those of my competitors! He usually knows my results before I do! I am also grateful to my mother-in-law, Therese "Oma", who fills in when I leave town (and also when I am here). She makes sure that the family is fed and the kids get where they need to go! I am grateful to my "fans" of 47+ years, my mom and dad, Ted and Donna. No matter how old you are, it still feels good to make your parents proud :-)

Much appreciation goes to Bryan Walsh and Solar Connexion for sponsoring my race season and supporting the local triathlon community by volunteering at races and sponsoring kits. I'm pleased to serve as a solar advocate and maintain a connection to renewable energy and sustainability themes that began during my time at Virginia Tech. Bryan is the go-to "equipment coach," problem-solver, and chief sherpa!

Thank you to Coach Tom Williams for the patient swim coaching and the huge infusion of confidence that has come along with that!

Without the help of Dr. Jesse Davidson, vascular surgeon extraordinaire, I would not have been running or racing. Thank you for fixing me!!

Lastly, thank you to Krista, and all my friends/tri-friends who I do not dare try to mention all by name.  This sport is infinitely more fun when shared with others, even those who are remote from me, who I may not have met (yet), but feel a kinship with.

Thank you to my readers for checking in on my blog, where I still don't know what I'm doing, but I write from the heart. My message early on, and my message still, is to dream big and go after it...whatever "it" may be. I never imagined this fulfilling life 5 years ago, and now I can't imagine it any other way.

As you look toward 2015, please, DREAM BIG!