Tri Again

OK, here’s the long awaited race report.

Oh, and this was my first time in the 50-54 age group. USA Triathlon regulations specify that you race in the age group you will be on Dec 31st of that year. Since I turn 50 in a few weeks, it was my first race as a fifty year old. Woo Hoo! New age group for me!

For a comprehensive list of every thing that went wrong, you can check out my blog about how not to do a triathlon.

I did do several things right, one was using natural “real” food for electrolytes/hydration. I used blackstrap molasses instead of energy gels and coconut water in place of sports drinks. I’m very pleased with both choices.

I overslept just a bit, but arrived at Meridian Lake in plenty of time to pick up my packet, get everything set up in my transition area and get through the port a potty lines. Come on race directors (all of you) you’ve got a bunch of athletes who’ve been hydrating like crazy, drinking coffee like mad (this is after all the Pacific Northwest) and really need to take care of other [ahem] bodily functions before squeezing into their wetsuits.

It was a lovely clear morning with steam rising up over the water.

I did the Friday Night Swim Race here the previous week so I knew the course which made me more relaxed and confident. I did one open water swim at Steele Lake the previous week and wasn’t feeling too good about my swim performance, my technique was terrible so I was working way harder than I needed to and was pretty darn slow.

This is something about having buoys to site on and other swimmers in the water that put me right back into the “tri zone”. I was not fast at the swim race, but I came in at just over 20 minutes (and that included getting out of the water and running up the ramp)

On race morning even though I was not at my best physically (see aforementioned blog post) once we were off and running (errr… swimming) I was really “in the zone”. I started and stayed in the back. It wasn’t too long before I started to pass people (those who started out too fast) I wasn’t swimming fast because all I wanted was to get through the swim with enough energy left to complete the bike and run. But I really felt good, relaxed, in control of my breathing, and with pretty decent rotation.

After the third buoy I found myself in a “swimmer sandwich” getting kicked in the head by the gal in front of me, and kicking whoever was behind me in their head. Such is the way of things. I wasn’t giving up my line.

I exited the water at 21:17 almost a minute slower than my race time the previous week. It wasn’t a great time but I sure wasn’t last, so I’ll take it especially since I was trying to conserve energy and had to stop and fuss with my goggles.

Next was the bike.

My transition time wasn’t great, 3:11:09 but it certainly wasn’t terrible and I made sure to get some more blackstrap and coconut water down. I do need to work on getting out of the wetsuit more quickly and would be better off getting my bike shoes on if I dried my feet off a bit before putting my socks on.

The course was mostly rolling hills; I was able to get some extra speed and stretch out a bit on the aero bars. My friend Russ recognized me from behind (I was pretty easy to spot with the word “Hammer” emblazoned on my ass in bright pink lettering) so we chatted a bit on the course.

There was one super nasty hill (worse than the hill in downtown Portland on the old STP route) which had volunteers stationed at the bottom to warn us to gear down.

as you can see, four out of five cyclist in this photo could not get up on their bike…

You KNOW it’s ugly when I come up off the saddle (I’m normally a sit and spin girl)

I took 1:03 to get through the bike course, which while not my best time, was not terrible according to my time, I averaged 15.5 mph which included the mount and dismount areas and getting in and out of transition. My bike computer says that I averaged 17 miles per hour which isn’t bad.

My T-2 transition time was pretty decent at 1:46:6 and I was off and running… Literally. I of course had a wicked case of “rubber legs” after getting off the bike and was just determined to finish this thing upright. I did have to make a short visit to the bushes which didn’t help my time any, but 35:14:06 was not horrible for a 5 K, especially after swimming and bike racing first.

I raised my arms in the air in triumph as I crossed the finish line right after this pic was taken.

Total time… 2:04:35:09 Not stellar, but not really that bad.

I almost cried. I had done it. I had overcome all of it, the hemorrhaging, the weight gain caused by not being able to work out for almost two years, the arthritis and scar tissue in my spine and pelvis which also got worse during that time, the stress, the dangerously high blood pressure and two surgeries.

I may not be fast, but I’m back and this triathlon medal means more to me than all of the others combined.

despite everything my body has been through-I am still a triathlete

Oh, after a quick nap, I rode out on the RAPSody bike course to meet up with my long time ride partner Leo and ride a few miles in with him since I wasn’t able to do the ride this year and missed the rest of our usual rides reffing together for CBC.


I slept well that night!

Next up…

the Iron Girl 10K
the You Go Girl Half Marathon
and if I get through that uninjured
the Seattle Marathon.

Seattle was my first full marathon which I did when I turned 40 to celebrate that and learning how to walk again after the accident that fractured my spine and pelvis.

It seems fitting that I should do it again when I turn 50 and to celebrate overcoming my recent obstacles.


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How NOT to do a Triathlon


#1 Sign up for a race that you don’t have time to train up for because it is the only one scheduled on your only day off during the week.

#2 Don’t rest the day before your race. Make sure to spend at least ten hours on your feet (bonus if in the sun on a hot day), lift heavy stuff, and walk no less than eight miles. Also make sure to rack up at least two nights of sleep deprivation.

#3 Make sure to wear brand new flipflops with stiff straps that dig into the skin on your feet and give blisters the day before. Bonus if the straps are thinner than the ones you usually wear and you get sunburned on the white stripes on your feet adjacent to the blisters.

#4 Be too busy to eat or hydrate properly the day before, then drink so much water and electrolytes that you’re up peeing all night long.

#5 If you are a female of child bearing age, not on hormonal birth control, by all means ovulate a day or two before the race; the resulting hormone surges, bloating and constipation will make everything: eating, sleeping, fitting into your trisuit/wetsuit, not feeling like a moose so much more challenging. Bonus if said condition makes you too nauseated to eat on race day.

You may experience the benefit of running/pedaling faster to catch up with that super hot guy in the trisuit ahead of you. After all, our lizard brains are looking for good strong breeding stock and these guys are it!

#6 Load up on fluids and fiber to offset the post ovulatory constipation and drink plenty of coffee; the resulting “flush” will keep you occupied all morning long both before and after you get to the race (and perhaps on your way there and after you put your wetsuit on) Bonus points if said race has insufficient port-a-potties on site.

#7 Don’t bother going through the process of filling your wetsuit with water, then climbing up on the beach to let it drain out, leaving only a thin layer of water for your body to heat up like the suit is designed to do. Just jump in and freeze your butt off. The chattering of your teeth will greatly amuse everyone in your swim start wave.

#8 Don’t adjust your swim goggles properly before starting out; it’s super fun when they fill with water. Bonus if you wear contact lenses.

#9 Don’t do a complete mechanical check on your bike; it’s super fun when one of the armrests on your areo bars comes loose and you almost fly off your bike as your forearm swings around wildly while your going 30 miles per hour.

#10 Be sure to make certain your feet are good and soaking wet from the swim while you attempt to put on your socks and bike shoes. The bunching that follows will provide entertainment throughout your bike and run.

#11 Make sure to over hydrate so that even after peeing in your wetsuit on the swim course (oh don’t look at me like that, everyone does it), you still have to make a choice as to if you want to pee while sitting on the grass in transition or duck into the bushes on your run. Bonus if you’re wearing a bright pink trisuit and everyone running past you on the trail knows what you’re doing.

#12 Don’t practice transitions and getting out of your wetsuit quickly. It will be a great source of amusement to your fellow competitors when you trip over your own feet, land on your butt and roll around on the ground in the transition area yelling, “GET IT OFF ME!!!” *note, this will not be amusing if you are in the aisle blocking someone from getting their bike in and out and could result in tire tracks across your face.

#13 Forget how the mutli sport function on your Garmin works and hit the wrong button immediately after exiting the swim.

#14 Hammer out a super hard pace on the bike for the entire course as if you don’t have to run afterwards, so that your legs are jello and you are disoriented when transitioning to the run. Bonus points if you run into a tree.

#15 DO… have a sense of humor about it all, because if you finished the race upright and walked away with a medal, it really is pretty damn funny.


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Kicking It Into High Gear-Getting Fit in Tacoma

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions-I do birthday/Samhain/Celtic New Year challenges at the end of October, but that’s another story all together.

January still lends its self to getting back on a schedule after the hectic holidays, and in the case of athletes and outdoor enthusiasts, getting back on track so we don’t crash/bonk/vomit/have to push our bikes up hills

I got super out of shape last summer after breaking the foot/big toe, moving, renovating, etc… Then I took the nasty fall down the attic stairs, then the holidays (a time of year in which I take entertaining and celebrating quite seriously) hit.

January is IT by golly, I was going to do it! It was perfect timing; the holidays were over, I was healed up and friends were also motivated.

Well, of course, I got sick. Not only did I get sick, but I got hit with the upper respiratory infection from hell that took out almost everyone I knew (including the uber fit and healthy).

So I started (two weeks) late, but at least I DID start.

I need to be in good shape for Chilly Hilly at the end of February. Leo and I are ride reffing again, and it’s just bad form to vomit while pushing one’s bike up the hill when you are an event volunteer and supposed to look like you know what you’re doing 😉

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January is when my running group, the penguins (yes, that IS because we waddle, why do you ask?) begins our virtual trek to Frostbite Falls (if you click on the link, my friend Karen explains the challenge which anyone is welcome to join)

Since I’m a “Tri-Penguin” I usually swim, bike and run to the falls (I’ve also been known to ski and snowshoe)

Since I’ve been on the spin bikes as opposed to my real bike, it’s taking me more than 100 miles to actually get there 😉

I keep a spreadsheet with distance/mileage, time, calories burned, elevation gain… to track my progress.

My friend Francine found a great smartphone/online program (yes, there are several including RunKeeper and Nike which a lot of my friends use) called Endomondo which not only helps track, but acts as a social networking/motivating tool.

What I like about this particular program is that not only can you use your GPS enabled smart phone to track and transmit your data. It will also take Garmin uploads (my preferred fitness tool, but it’s nice to know I can use my phone in a pinch) as well as manual data. It also supports many sports/activities that other programs don’t. You can also connect it to Facebook if you want to share your workouts with your friends.

My totals thus far: (remember, I didn’t start until Jan 15th, so it’s only two weeks, not a full month)

Cycling: 90 miles, 4048 calories, 5 hours
Running: 15.33 miles, 1998 calories, 4:42
Walking: 8.97 miles, 439 calories, 2:45
Swimming: 6 miles, 2453 calories, 4:30

I also tracked 4 upper body workouts, 0 miles, 476 calories, 2 hours

run in the park

So that’s 19 hours spent exercising…
120.30 miles covered
And 9,414 extra calorie burned (yes, that should be nearly three pounds lost, but since I’m gaining muscle back which weighs more than the fat I’m losing, I’m holding steady on the device to be avoided because it tells you nothing about fitness, the scale)

It’s a start.

If you want to join Endomondo to help motivate yourself and your friends (networking with friends sure keeps one honest on getting out there and doing it) you can do so by making with the clicky clicky here.

If you’re one of my friends and looking to connect, you’ll recognize this picture from last year’s St Paddy’s Day Dash in Seattle (the back side of my shamrock shorts says “feeling lucky”

In addition to sites such as the Penguin Runners and there are some great local resources.

Most Notably the “Y” (YMCA) of Pierce & Kitsap Counties Did you know that swim lessons from beginner to masters are included in your membership fee and that membership fees work on a sliding scale for those whose finances might not allow them to join otherwise?

Another is the Tacoma (Beer) runners

Another is the Tacoma Wheelmen Bicycle Club

We have a local version of the penguin list; it’s not been very active lately, but a group of interested locals could change that. Puget Sound Penguins

For those interested in Triathlon, there is South Sound Triatheletes

My short term event goals are Chilly Hilly, the Tacoma St Patty’s Day run, the Seattle St Patty’s Day Dash, and the Tacoma City Half Marathon. I haven’t set my triathlon schedule yet.

See you on the trails…


Swim Sistah Swim!!!


Saturday, I was up at the buttcrack of dawn to get up to Genesee Park to watch the sun rise over Lake Washington.

And a lovely sunrise it was.

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Saturday was the 2nd annual TrekWomen triathlon which empowers women, encourages health & fitness and raises money to fight cancer.

In addition to being a Swim Angel for the Danskin Triathlon, I also volunteer as a Swim Sister for the Trek triathlon.

Our job is to support and encourage the women on the swim course who might be nervous.

One’s first triathlon swim can be very scary and intimidating.

Seriously though, it is scary the first time, especially for those new to swimming, new to events or new to viewing themselves as an athlete. We also have women who are cancer survivors and/or in active treatment.

A woman who is experiencing anxiety or is just unsure of her ability can request a swim sister to go around the course with them. We also go out behind each wave to make sure no one who didn’t think they needed one of us might change their minds once they’re out there a while.

I finally got to spend some time with my good friend Julie (we’ve had a difficult time connecting this year)

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We all squeezed into our wetsuits did the morning briefing thing and waited for the first waves to start.

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There was some fun music playing at the start line and I started doing a crazy dance with my noodles. Much like this awesome sister…

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Ardis grabbed me and a few other silly sisters and we headed up to the start line where there was a Zumba demonstration going on.

So there we were, a half dozen women in full wetsuits (some of us with halos, tiaras and silly hats on) waving swim noodles around doing a Zumba dance performance.

It was hilarious and I hope, made the women waiting to start a little less nervous.

For what it’s worth, I do not recommend wearing a full wetsuit for this type of activity. I couldn’t wait to get into the lake and let some nice cool water into my suit.

After a turn working the start line, Julie and I got to go out and swim behind the last wave.

I LOVE the last wave!

Just after I passed the first bouy, Sally Edwards swam up behind me as asked how I was doing. Yes, she is as nice, down to earth and caring as she comes across in public appearances.

My reply was, “Well now I’ve been passed by Sister Madonna and Sally Edwards on a triathlon course, so pretty good.”

We chatted for a bit and ended up spending the last third of the swim course with an awesome 12 year old girl, Mikayla who was doing the triathlon with her great aunt.

The water was cold as we haven’t had any sunny weather to warm it up and the poor thing’s teeth were chattering.

But she kept going and going and going…

I made sure her aunt knew to make sure she dressed warmly on the bike course (and that her mom needs to get her a wetsuit for next time) and out of earshot, to tell her what signs of hypothermia to look for just in case.

This little girl was AWESOME and she finished that swim, cold, exhausted and smiling; seriously, she was all determination, no complaints, no whining, what an inspiration!

Sally went back out for the last swimmer.

Sally is always the last swimmer, rider and runner in a triathlon.

No woman will ever be in last place in one of her races.

We created a tunnel on the exit ramp with our noodles and did some “voguing” through it while waiting for the last swimmer (the race photographers were loving us for this and our pre race zumba performance.)

As the last swimmer came in, we chanted the “official” call of TrekWomen“YOU GO GIRL FRIEND… YOU GO GIRL FRIEND…”

She came in, just ahead of Sally, tired and smiling, and off she went to finish the event that would change her life and make her a triathlete.

All the women were awesome.

But there is always one who becomes your hero.

This time around, it was Mikayla.

I checked the results page and she finished. She was,the youngest person in the race and was bordering on hypothermia in the swim. She even finished 11 minutes ahead of her aunt.

Once again, I am inspired by those who put on and participate in these events and I am left with a warm feeling in my heart after having been involved.


Mood: Happy


When (swim) Angels Squee…


Welcome to “things that make me go Squee”.

After “cleaning out the pipes” yesterday by venting for WTF Wednesday, I’m ready to “squee with glee”.

In honor of Pop Fiend’s attempt at decreasing drama for at least one day a week on LiveJournal by promoting “Drama Free Thursday” (for those who aren’t aware, my blog is crossposted to LiveJournal, my self hosted WordPress blog, Blogspot, and Facebook), I offer up my own “special” (in a rode the short bus kind of way) contribution, “Things that Make Me go Squee!!!

* Things that make me go squee!” may has become a regular Thursday spectacle production because “Squee” rhymes with “Drama Free”, and I’m trying to do my part.

I think that almost everyone occasionally forgets to celebrate and share good things. I know I do.

So in the spirit of putting “good juju” out there, here are the current things that make me go “SQUEE!!!”

Last Sunday, I had the honor to once again be a Swim Angel for the Seattle Danskin Women’s Triathlon. This is a huge beginner triathlon and many women have never done an open water swim before. Many are cancer survivors, some in active treatment. One’s first open water triathlon swim can be quite intimidating.

I swam sweep on two waves and picked up swimmers that needed encouragement/help. The first one was having heart rate issues (too high, something I’m all too familiar with), but I got her to relax, kept her near the boats and she finished just fine.

The second woman was difficult to keep up with when she was doing a crawl stroke, but she’d get winded and briefly need the noodle to rest. It was a super choppy day out there, with some good sized waves at times, so I’d see her come up and gasp for air and hand her the end of the noodle. She also finished strong.

After my 2nd wave, there were no more waves starting, so I swam back out from the finish, helped some women in (often they don’t need the help or encouragement until the end of the swim course when they get tired) go back out and do it again. I lost count of how many times I did this.

One woman said that when she becomes a stronger swimmer and triathlete, that she’d like to come back and be a swim angel some day. I hope she does.

I missed Karen and Jenn, but did find Alisa and Robin doing just great.

As I headed back out for the last time, swimming into the sun, I could see the silhouettes of the kayaks, lifegards on surfboards and halos and swim noodles of the other angels coming in with the final swimmers. It was then that “Ride of the Valkyries” started running through my head. I laughed so hard. Then got unceremonially hit by a wave and sucked in a bunch of lake water. That will bring one back to reality quite quickly.

The last woman in the last wave (who was not the last finisher BTW, I checked) was the one I remember the most. She was not built like an athlete. She was someone who was out there changing her life and working very VERY hard. These are the women who (other then the survivors) are the most inspirational.

With all the kaykers, lifeguard and swim angels with her, she kicked her way to the finish, laughing, smiling and knowing that she was doing something extraordinary.

We angels were chanting “Jennifer… Jennifer… Jennifer…”

Soon, the lifeguards were beating out a cadence on their surfboards as were the kayakers on their boats.

The dumming and the chanting were contagious. Jennifer laughed, we all laughed. It was awesome.

The swim angels lining the exit ramp, noodles in the air joined the chant, as did all the spectators and race staff on the shore.


I’m telling you, the first place finisher at the Boston Marathon does not get this kind of reception.

I think more than one of us cried tears of joy when she hit the swim finish accomplishing what months ago she probably never dreamed she could.

This race always makes me cry.

You can see me in this picture, I’m the one with the halo and the sparkly pink princess sunglasses

Here’s the first pink swim wave, which consists of cancer survivors taking to the water.

Here’s what swim angels look like on dry ground

How can you tell that you shop at Home Depot too much? (other than having the folks in the garden department ask, “See you tomorrow?” when you leave.

I got a $50 Home Depot gift card in the mail yesterday as a thank you… It was a great surprise.

I am so happy that my wonderful chickens, MaryAnn, Ginger and Lovey provide me with healthy, safe and fresh eggs

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I don’t have to worry about the massive egg recall (380 MILLION eggs as of this morning) due to salmonella contamination.

Perhaps this will make more people consider backyard chickens, farmers markets or at least supporting small local farms instead of factory farms where this sort of thing happens due to crowded, unhealthy and inhumane treatment of these birds.

And let me tell you… with chickens and a compost pile, NOTHING goes to waste from the kitchen or garden.

Speaking of urban farming, my garden continues to grow like mad.

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My first Juliet tomato is finally turning red.

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My corn is getting tassels

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And I have cucumbers…

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I also have squash, green beans and apples that are almost ready to pick.

A few more updated garden photos are available by clicking here

I received my pasta extruder (a manual crank, no fancy electric for me) and I made my first batch of yummy home made pasta. It’s easy (the hard part is letting the dough sit for an hour) and WAY better than the dried crap you get at the store.

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My blog post about said pasta making is available by clicking here

I went on an AWESOME hike up to Spray Park at Mount Rainier National Park on Friday.

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More photos are available by clicking here

I went on an AWESOME hike up to Snow Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness on Monday

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More photos are available by clicking here

And here are little smilies for all the squees left unsqueed

And of course, the greatest squee of all…

I am blessed to have really GREAT friends in my life

And you can see a lot of them here… (if I don’t have a picture of you here, send me one)

Insert “squee” of your choice here

I wish everyone a happy and drama free Thursday, as well as lots of things to go “Squee” over.


Now, I’ve got to get back to work, I typed this up last night and posted on my break, (which is now over).


Mood: Gotta Squee


Swim/Bike/Run or Why I’m too tired to rant or squee this week

I didn’t have the time, energy or inclination to rant yesterday or squee today.

In addition to being super busy at work, and my usual frenzy in the yard/garden, I’m finally getting off my butt, now that the foot/big toe is finally healed and working out again.

I’m volunteering as a Swim Angel for the Danskin Women’s Triathlon again on the 15th, and have signed up for two sprint triathlons in September (when I will also be volunteering as a Swim Sister for the Trek Triathlon).

I need to get off my butt.

Three months off of training has completely kicked my butt, I’m out of shape and weak (and none to happy with myself about it)

I already blogged about my not so smart five mile “run” on the steep evil trails of Chambers creek which left me limping for a few days.

I did take a rest day on Monday. (yard work counts as rest right?)

Tuesday, I joined the Harmon Bike Club for a ride, which was not the smartest thing I could have done since they were trained up for the Courage Classic and I’m in worse shape than I was in February (actually, in February I was kicking ass and taking names)

It was hilly (over 1,000 feet elevation gain) because ALL of Tacoma is hilly. (oh, since I live on the HILLtop, it’s a long uphill slog to get back home)

I was feeling pretty demoralized after I was done (the last person in) but at least I did it.

point defiance ride

Yesterday, Gene and I went out the Steel Lake for an open water swim. If I’m going to be a “calming” and “motivating” influence on women (most of them doing their first triathlon ever, many of them cancer survivors, some in active treatment) I’m helping through the swim course at Danskin, I’d better be competent and confident, so I needed to get back out there.

I managed to get through a mile swim. I did have to stop and rest a few times, but that’s no biggie. It’s probably the least demoralizing thing I’ve done since I started working out again.

Today was the Tacoma (Beer) Runners run.

We started out at Woody’s on the Waterfront, ran up and over the 11th St Bridge, around the tideflats and Foss Waterway, back up Pacific Ave and across the bridge of glass.

I was not fast and I was not last (but close)


I did not even stay for the beer (wait? Wasn’t that the point?). It was too crowded and too hot to wait inside in line for one, so I socialized a bit, drank some water and headed home and enjoyed a margarita on my newly screened back porch.

Now, I’m exhausted and need to go to bed.

I have another long work day tomorrow, and then I’m taking Alisa, Robin and Karen (all will do their first triathlon at Danskin) out for an open water swim clinic. I may swim a bit after they’re done to get a workout in. But tomorrow is about them and paying forward all the help Gene and Steve gave me when I was first starting out.


Mood: exhausted


Hurts so Good!


Holy Crap! I hurt in places that I didn’t know swimming could make a person hurt.

All that triathlon stuff? My long slow swims at the gym?

NOT swimming.

Today I finally got brave and showed up for my first Masters Swim session at the Y.

(did I mention that I hurt in places I didn’t know swimming could make a person hurt?)

I’m going to have to read up on the drills because apparently, all I did in swim/PE in high school was screw around and I don’t remember all most of them. I remember a few.

And my (butter) fly? OMG… I look (and feel) like a paralytic Orca when I try to do the fly. I can do the drill where you only breathe every 4th stroke, but when I try to coordinate enough to breath of every stroke, it’s not pretty. I’m sure I’ll get it back.

My backstroke is still good and my upper body is pretty good on the crawl (yeah, I need work on rotatation, but who doesn’t?).

My kick is extremely weak. Part of it is being out of practice, part if it is that I have freakishly small narrow feet, and part is that due to my feet having been broken by horses stomping on them, I don’t point well (that and triathletes tend to save their legs for the bike/run). I’ll just have to work harder on my kick.

Of course, since I use mostly upper body doing the crawl, I was pretty good on the pull buoy drill.

My endurance isn’t what it should be, but that’s my fault for having been lazy this fall/winter. It will come back. I felt a tiny bit wheezy for a bit which is probably a result of whatever crud I was fighting off last week/weekend.

I am slow. I was the slowest one there, but that’s OK. I was the only new person there. I’ll get my speed back (I was pretty fast as a kid/teen)

This (being pushed and drills) is exactly what I need.

I did the whole workout and wasn’t told that I needed to go back down to an intermediate swim class, so I’m calling it a success. (and I’m going back on Wednesday)

I think I’ll sleep well tonight.


Mood: Incredibly tired


This afternoon’s fun

I tested out the Go Pro Hero waterproof video camera today on an open water swim at Steele Lake.

I strapped it to my lifeguard can and we were able to shoot some fun video of each other swimming.  Since neither one of us have seen ourselves swim before it was quite helpful (I’m dropping my left shoulder a bit and need to pay more attention to my rotation)


Mood: Amused


Racing with the Ironmen in Moses Lake

My first Olympic Distance triathlon was quite the event.

What I didn’t know is that it was the first USAT standings race of the year and a whole slew of Ironmen were clamoring for ranking.

Woah doggie this was a fast fast field of competitors.

This race was close enough to the motel (a little over a mile) that it was easier to just ride my bike over than to try to deal with driving and parking. That was really nice.

Annie, Jill, Kathy Gene and I arrived bright and early to get our transition areas set up and sutff ourselves into our wetsuits like sausages.

Here are Katy, Myself, Annie & Jill

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and of course, doing the now obligatory butt shot…

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Gene broke his goggles at the last minute, so the woman next to me loaned him a pair of pink goggles. This picture does not do their pinkness justice.

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I got to meet my (up until today) online friend Lynn. We started reading each other’s blogs some time after one of the Elma triathlons and finally got to meet face to face.

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Gene’s awesome parents came out to cheer us all one and take pictures

The swim was rough. I knew that I could swim a mile, but I still had plenty of anxiety over doing it in a group, then hopping on a bike for 22 miles and then running a 10K.

The wind picked up during the 2nd lap of the mens race which was when our wave started. (the sprint swimmers did one 750 meter lap and we did two) The Olympic Distance woman started 15 minutes after the men (we were told to be nice when picking off the slow ones)

There was a lot of chop in the water and some pretty big waves. When I came around the 2nd buoy (there were only two it was kind of an oblong course) I rolled my head to the left to breathe and inhaled a wave.

Luckily, I didn’t panic. I stopped long enough to get my head out of the water, facing away from the waves and cough all the water out. Then I went right back to swimming.

But DARN IT, if I didn’t have the exact same thing happen in the exact same place on the 2nd lap.

I thought I was swimming well, but noticed that I was not in the middle of the pack like I usually am, but rather in the back of the pack.

I swam a mile and got in to the transition area in 32:28 which exceeded my best case scenario of 33 minutes based of my other triathlons this year (40 minutes was my worst case scenario based on the tri I swam last year with the sinus infection)

As it turns out, I swam a faster pace for a full mile than I did for 400 meters; and I swam a faster pace for 400 meters than I do for 250 meters.

Molly’s right, the shorter races seem harder because I’m not warmed up yet.

My transition was quite mediocre. It took 03:49 to get out of the wetsuit and into my bike gear. Of course the fact that I forgot to take my Garmin off the strap of my swim cap and put it on my wrist didn’t help. (it’s only rated water resistant for 30 minutes, so I wear it on my strap to keep it out of the water but hadn’t done it in a race yet) I know I shouldn’t have, but I ran back across the transition area to go get it which cost me some time.

The bike did not go well at all.

First, one of the pads on my aerobars flew off at about mile two of the ride. I had to lean my forearms on bare metal and bolt heads. My forearm is swollen and it feels like the bone is bruised. I expect to be able to see the imprint of the bolts by tomorrow. Since there was no shock absorption on that side, my shoulder and neck really started to hurt.

It was a fairly steady hill going out with some rollers. There didn’t seem to be as much downhill on the way back as I expected.

And it was windy; very very windy.

At one point on the bike ride when I was out there all by myself, I wanted to cry.

It was my worst triathlon ride ever, I was behind everyone (seriously, I was the last rider in the last wave and got the motorcycle escort in) and felt like I didn’t belong out there. I finished 22 hilly windy miles in 1:28:39 averaging only 14.89 mph.

How in the heck was I going to run a 10K after getting my butt kicked in that choppy water and doing so poorly on the bike ride?

After a 1:44 transition, I waddled out onto the trail for the run.

I had eaten well the day before, the morning of and I kept eating Cliff shot blocks and drinking Heed the whole time I was on the ill fated bike ride.

I ran slowly, it was only about finishing. I knew I was not going to do well.

Instead of the heat that was forecast, a gentle rain began to fall.

It was delicious, glorious wonderful coolness from the sky.

There is nothing quite as sweet and magical as desert rain.

When I got to the turn around for the 10K mark, I finally got brave enough to look at my watch.

“OMG! I could actually finish this in under 3 ½ hours. My best case scenario finish time was 3:30 and my not quite worst case (just being slow at everything) was 3:47.

I came in at 3:25:22 which may be slow, but it was faster than I was expecting to pull this off.

And heck, it was my first Olympic Distance Tri, any finish time was a PR.

There were 4 DNFs, three after the swim and one after the bike.

Only after I felt like such a slow loser, did I learn that this was a big race for Ironmen looking for rankings for the year and that it was an insanely fast field.

One woman who I swam with (and got passed on the bike by) was no other than Sister Madonna. This woman, a Catholic nun, is 78 years old (born the same year as my mother who refuses to even go walk more or less exercise or take care of herself) and has completed FORTY Ironmans and set age group records.

Here are Gene, Myself, Sister Madonna. and Annie

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You really should click on the link, Sister Madonna-Iron Nun. to read her story; this woman is an amazing inspiration.

I had no idea that the lady I was standing around in the water joking around with at the start line was a legend until Kathy told me.

Since there weren’t a lot of Athenas, I got 2nd place (and a bit of extra hardware)

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The Icky Boy was kind enough to carry my bag back as I walked my bike next to him.

As we were crossing the bridge these GIANT fish (carp I think) were leaping out of the lake. I swear, these things were big enough to take off my arm. And to think that I was swimming with them. [shudder]

After the race, we sat on the balcony of the hotel watching a thunderstorm enjoying a beer. Then we met up with Gene & Joanne and Gene’s parents for Pizza. If you’re in Moses Lake and want Pizza, Chicos is the place (but get there early)

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I have some more photos here, Lisa’s Moses Lake Olypmic Distance Triathlon Photos

and yes… I’m already planning on coming back to do it again next year.


Mood: Tired


The Great Issaquah Triathlon Adventure

The great adventure starts the day before when I had to pick up my race packet in Issaquah between 2:00 and 7:00 PM on a Friday.

For those who don’t live here, trying to drive from the East Side down to the South Sound where I live at rush hour is pretty much the worst thing ever. It can take 2 ½ hours, especially on a Friday.

I was going to try to dash in and out (which as it turns out, would have been a grave mistake as everyone was hitting the roads because the weather was nice and traffic was a nightmare before 3:00 PM.) and take a back highway home.

But my wise friend Julie thought it would be a better idea to meet for Happy Hour in Issaquah. It would have been rude for me to force her to twist my arm to have a beer, so I obliged. Our friends Claire and David joined us as well. (pictures posted yesterday)

I got off work at 1:30 and made it to the packet pickup by 2:00 PM (I work about half way between where I live and Issaquah) and so did everyone else. It was a long line for ID/USAT license checking, packet pickup and body marking, bit it ran smoothly.

I then headed off to Target to get a few things on my shopping list and some cash.

Then I headed over to REI for some electrolyte solution/cubes and to visit. I noticed that there was a GNC in the same shopping center, so I grabbed a few of the 42 gram New Whey protein shots (they REALLY help recovery after a hard workout or race and at only 3 oz, they go right down even if you’re not hungry/thirsty.)

One of the managers at the store had told me earlier in the day that he was going to be grilling burgers (I had asked for recommendations for happy hour, bonus points for a good burger) for bike commuters and that if I stopped by, he’d cook me up a burger. I did, and it was good. I visited with him, Kelly and some bike commuters, and then headed over to the Brewhouse (Rogue Brewing Company) to meet Julie, Claire and David.

It was a gloriously beautiful day and we scored seats outside.

I hit the road around 6:30 PM and took Highway 18 home. It was a breeze, probably the easiest drive I’ve ever done from there.

I was home in plenty of time to fine tune my packing for the triathlon and get to bed early.

This is where things went bad.

As I was thinking about giving my poor congested allergy ridden sinuses a flush with the neti-pot, I could feel my nose running. That was odd because I was congested. The first thought that ran through my mind was, “Oh, crap, I’ve got a sinus infection from the few moments I was in that damn lake without my nose clips on.”

That’s when I saw that I had blood on my hand.

UGH! That’s (a nosebleed) what you need when you’re trying to finish race preparations and get to bed early.

The next “incident” involved my Garmin.

I KNEW I put it in my race bag. I SWEAR I put it in the bag, THAT night, I took it off the coffee table, took the cradle off of it, and PUT IT IN THE RACE BAG.

Guess what wasn’t in the race bag?

You guessed it. I dumped the contents of the bag (and every other bag/pack in the house) out no lesss than four times. I scoured every room.

I glared menacingly at the BadKitty and pleaded with the house faeries to return it.

At 10:00 PM (I had to get up at 4:20 and should have been in bed by 9:00 at the latest) I gave up.

I tore the apartment apart the next morning, and it was apparent that the Kitty and/or the house faeries weren’t giving it up.

That’s when I noticed that my bike computer was dead. (my bad night was turning in to a less than stellar morning)

Planning on taking solace in a mocha, I loaded up the espresso machine, poured the milk in my cup and YUCK!!! It plopped out like cottage cheese.

No Mocha, no place open that early to get one.

I was not amused.

I got out the door on time and arrived at the park to set up my transition area.

I thought this would be a small local event; Wrong! It was BIG!!!

It was VERY well run.

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Notice that the splash guard is not on my areobottle? I was so tired from lack of sleep and no mocha that I stuffed it in my bag instead of putting back on after I filled the bottle… DOH! I wore a lot of that electrolyte drink.

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When I pulled my wetsuit out of the bag, what did I find way down at the end of my sleeve?

My Garmin. At least that went right.

I wandered down to check out the lake before the mandatory pre-race briefing.

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You can see the buoy for the final turn through the arch (this is where we exited the water)

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My wave (the old lady wave) was 2nd to the last wave so I had lots of time on the beach to chat and do some warm up swimming. We were joking that we were having a “geezer party” down there. I had to get back in twice to get more water in my suit because I was drying out (and to answer the call of nature-if you think you’ll never pee in your wetsuit, you’re wrong-if you keep doing tris, you will)

The women in my wave here hilarious and lots of fun. We had a great time getting lined up for our wave and were joking about designating “kick free zones”.

We were a fairly small wave and we really didn’t swim over each other much. I had a challenging time passing one woman who was dolphin kicking. It got a bit crowded around the first turn (there were two) but after that, we all had plenty of space. One woman occasionally touched my leg to let me know she was there, but it didn’t bug me like the woman that kept grabbing at me last year in the Subaru triathlon.

I swam a solid crawl stroke the entire way and felt good when I got out of the water. I’m still a bit freaked out about my Oly distance tri next weekend, but I’ve already done one full mile + swim and will do two more next week.

I swam the 400 meters (& got out of the water) in 8:45 (I did 250 down in Elma on Monday in 5:26) which still puts me at being able to swim a mile in 33+ minutes.

My transition wasn’t so great; it was 3:59, of course it was a good long run from the beach to the transition area and since I was near the back of the TA, it was a good long run out with my bike, so I did transition faster than in Elma.

The bike was much more difficult than Elma because this course does have hills and I had get down in my lowest gears to get up one of them. There was also a no passing zone in the park, and of course, on the way back in when I wanted to make up time, I spent way too long behind a very slow person (I was going batshit crazy, but didn’t want to get disqualified). The other thing that really slows down the bike segment is a couple of nasty speed bumps. I heard something crack on one of them, I’m just not certain if it was my bike or my spine.

I came in at 51:05, which is a very disappointing 15.26 mph average. Of course, the big hill, the no passing zone and the speed bumps made this more challenging than other races.

My transition from bike to run was 1:54, but a lot of it was a fairly long distance into and out of the transition area so I’m not going to be too disappointed in it. I had hydrated very well and had to pee (yes again) I tried using a technique that a certain Athena triathlete many of you know told me about, but I just couldn’t pee on the grass while changing my shoes while casually chatting with the guy next to me.

I did not feel good on the run. I beat myself up pretty badly last week (this was my 2nd triathlon in 6 days with a 5K race in between) Whatever was spewing pollen just about took me out. I was actually wheezing. It was getting hot and it was a trail run which also slows things down. Oh, and I had to pee, bad.

I swear, it was the longest 5K ever, it’s like it was never going to end. We could hear the finish line but not see it. I had a bunch of people fly past me and was feeling like fail, until I realized it was the 5K and 10K race and they hadn’t just swam and biked.

The first part of the trail was freshly mowed grass (with 3-4 tall grass on the sides) and then it varied from gravel, dirt, rocks, potholes, etc… it was not a fast course, and my IT bands didn’t much care for the lateral movement. I came in at 34:32 which is an 11:06 pace. Given that I was wheezing and it was a rough trail, I guess I’ll have to take it.

I crossed the finish line at 1:40:15 which I don’t think is too bad. Hey, it’s a PR for this course and I won’t have to worry about breaking it until next year.

Of course, I got a shiny thing. (you know how much I love shiny things)

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I really enjoyed this race. The narrow no passing lanes are a pain, but with the narrow winding park roads, there really isn’t a save choice. It would have been nice if someone had checked the bike route there was some sand, gravel and even some broken glass in the bike lane (I saw one guy changing a flat tire)

I’ll be back next year.


Mood: Accomplised