Tri Again

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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.

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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.

~L

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How NOT to do a Triathlon

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#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.

~L



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The Return of Hammer Butt

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Rites of passage… (is it it repassage?)

One of the very last things I need to do to consider myself “fully recovered” (more important, to really feel like myself again) from the year and a half of hemorrhaging followed by recovering from two surgeries was to sign up to do another triathlon which I haven’t done in well over two years. I’ve coached and been a “swim angel” for Danskin and a “swim sister” for Trek, but haven’t competed myself in far too long.

Since I only just got back to running and did my first 5K since it all began two weeks ago, haven’t logged any serious mileage on my bike because I’ve only been commuting back and forth to downtown and Proctor on the beast of a commuter bike, and haven’t done an open water swim since volunteering as a swim angel at Danskin two years ago, I was hoping to find one that took place in late September or maybe even early October to give me enough time to, oh you know… actually get trained up

After I posted my intent to do a triathlon on my accountability group, I went online to sign up for one of the races I was certain would be in September. Sadly, there were no Bob Green races (my first ever tri) on the calender, No Trek Women’s Tri that I can find this year, the Subaru Tri (my first USAT sanctioned race) is now the Toyota Tri and happened early this year. My last hope, the Black Diamond Triathlon is on Saturday this year, and I work Saturdays.

So I signed up for the Meridian Lake triathlon, Which is… August 26th.

I am in NO way trained up or ready for this. (at least I was smart enough to sign up for just the sprint distance and didn’t try to get right back to Olympic distance)

I hopped on Diva, my carbon fiber triathlon bike that has not left the basement for over two years, for a quick spin around the Scott Pierson Trail to see just how out of bike shape I am.

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I almost crashed within the first block because being a full carbon bike, it weighs next to nothing and felt super squirrelly, especially with the areobars.

I’ve been riding on the platfrom side of my combo pedals on the commuter bike wearing flipflops, so I’m also not used to being clipped to the pedals; having to come to a fast stop and not getting stuck and crashing is a concern at this point.

I managed an 11 mile ride (need to get up to 15 for the tri) and managed not to crash . I’ll be fitting longer rides in wherever I can for the next two weeks. I’ll start commuting to work on my road bike and taking the long way home as well.

Yesterday was the big day.

I headed out to Steele Lake for a solo open water swim.

I couldn’t find parking in my usual spot down by the boat ramp, so I had to put on my wetsuit the in main parking area. I’m sure it was a source of entertainment for a lot of folks. I’m thankful that we start out suited up, and that putting the suit on is not counted in transition time.

It wasn’t pretty. It was slow, clumsy, executed with very poor technique and it was pianfully apparent that I am extremely out of shape swimming wise, as I had to stop to catch my breath a lot and was a bit “wheezy” (common for me to not expand my lungs fully when they are compressed by the wetsuit)

The first mishap was forgetting to put my nose clips on. The first time I put my face in the water a huge rush of burning lake water rushed into my sinuses. In addition to the fact that it is painful because it’s the wrong pH, I got my first ever sinus infection a few years ago training in this lake (which being surrounded by houses/yards/septic tanks/dogs/fertilizers/etc…) is not what you want to have up your nose.

After a few stops to blow the water out of my nose I started getting into my rhythm. I’m still doing OK breathing bilaterally, but my sighting is off and I need to really work on that so that I don’t get off course during the tri.

I made it just shy of a mile.

I chose to swim off the beach rather than the boat ramp so that I could get someone to watch my shoes for me (and perhaps call 911 if I disappeared under water, in which case the lifeguard can would be a good marker as to where to find the carcass) and because the last time I swam off the boat ramp (where a lot of people fish) I stepped on a fish hook which embedded into the neoprene socks I was (thankfully) wearing at the time because the water was super cold.

What I didn’t realize is that there is freaking MILFOIL in the beach area. I didn’t notice it going out, but coming back, the first time I tried to put my feet on the bottom, I stepped in a big matt of it, and almost squealed like a girl. Being completely squigged out by the stuff, I flipped over onto my back and swam the rest of the way in that way until there was sand underneath.

The whole thing, start to finish was undignified, including realizing that I have completely lost the skill of getting out of the wetsuit quickly meaning my T1 transition time is going to suck.

But any open water swim (especially solo) you can walk away from right?

I also managed to get my run mileage back up to five miles, as I had to start over from ground zero after having my innards poked, prodded, cut, scraped and burned. It used to be that I never bothered to go on a run that was less than five miles, it has since become a goal. Life is weird.

I headed out to Pt Defiance and had a lovely run around Five Mile Drive. I took it very easy since increasing my long run distance or overall mileage too quickly will put me at risk for another round of illiotibal band injury, but I ran the whole loop (in the reverse direction going up the vomit worthy hill by the zoo and again between Camp 6 and Fort Nisqually) and I felt good afterward.

I did finally achieve one of my major goals this week, and that was to dump the 25 (yes TWENTY FIVE) pounds I gained whilst dealing with all the stress, medical, surgical crap and not being able to work out. (and of course, hanging out with those who regularly ate and drank to excess over the holidays which I will not be doing again)

I forget how much it is because all I can see is how much work I still have to do to fix my body composition fat/muscle ratio (and then there’s that whole, pushing 50 body changing stuff that goes on as well) so I only realize it when others who haven’t seen me for a while comment.

Several folks have asked how I did it.

The answer is, “There is no quick fix, there is no magic pill and there is no substitute for discipline and hard work.”

I ate and drank less and exercised more.

I dumped foods out of my diet that where empty calories and focused on nutrient dense healthier foods.

The very hard part was changing who I spent a majority of my time with.

When one is making any big changes in their life (even if it’s just getting back to who you used to be) you do have to be conscious about who you are spending your time with

If you hang out with people who regularly drink to excess and base their social life around alcohol and usually too much food; it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder to be healthy. Some will want to be supportive, but it’s just a bad environment, and others will actually (be it intentionally or unintentionally) sabotage your efforts by telling you that you’re “no fun anymore”, “loosen up, just this once; it won’t hurt” or by filling up your glass when you aren’t paying attention or shoveling more unhealthy food onto your plate.

I’ve actually had morbidly obese friends tell me that I’m “too skinny” and “look anorexic” (uh, hello, I just barely got under 150 which is right in the middle of the healthy weight range for my height) When I was running marathons, I was down to my high school track running weight of 135.

Trust me, it’s much easier to be healthy (and happy) when you’re around other people who have the same goal. (as an added bonus, it tends to put you in a much more drama free environment)

All of these scenarios have happened to me at the hands of well meaning friends, despite the fact that my blood pressure had risen to a level where I could have had a heart attack or stroke at any time and had to have my second surgery postponed because they were afraid I’d stroke on the operating table.

None of this is about vanity (as has been asserted by one or two of my less than supportive “friends”) it has been about not just regaining but literally saving my life.

It doesn’t mean that you can’t ever hang out with your “party friends” just that it’s best to limit that time and when you do see them, try to do so in a more controlled environment.

I cut out most alcohol. When I do indulge, maybe twice a week, it’s normally only one beverage; maybe two if it was after a good workout like in the beer garden at the Great Kilted Run. I did have three glasses of wine over the course of a long night at a long awaited reunion with friends, and I made sure to work my butt off before I headed over there so that I had the extra calories to burn for both the wine and the wonderful desert that included ice cream and drank plenty of water. And of course, these are friends who would have totally supported my stopping at one glass (or not having any) had I so chosen.

I do still treat myself (I had Anthony’s Salmon and Chips and a beer just the other night) but do so on days that I’ve burned enough calories to allow it.

A tool that I have found incredibly useful is myfitnesspal.com

It works on a computer/tablet and there is an Android app (I’m assuming it’s available for iPhone as well)

Your program your personal information, height, weight, goals (how many pounds a week to lose) and it tells you how many calories you should eat/drink each day to achieve that goal (to lose a pound a week you need a 500 calorie a day defecit, 500 X 7 = 3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat)

Once that is done, you log everything you eat and drink into the program and it keeps a running tally of how many more calories (and other variables you want to track such as carbs, protien, fat, iron, etc…

If you want to “earn” more calories, you have to exercise (which you should do anyway) you just enter the type of exercise you did, how long you did it and the program calculates and adjusts how many more calories you can consume that day and still meet your goals.

It holds you accountable and teaches (or re-teaches) you to think of food as fuel (which is what it is)

I have lost 25 pounds without depriving myself (which just leads to binging) While I try to eat mostly healthy foods, I have enjoyed pizza, beer, ice cream, mexican food, the occasional margarita, fish & chips, real cream in my coffee and real butter on my baked goods.

The other tool that my friend Christina told me about is the FitBit

It’s super tiny and I just wear it clipped onto my bra.

While I’ve never been a fan of pedometers, this thing is a “pedometer on steroids” has a great computer interface and integrates with many other programs including MyFitnessPal.

It not only measures steps taken, but floors climbed (there’s some motivation to take the stairs) calories burned, etc… I’ve found that it’s pretty darn accurate.

I syncs with your computer and keeps a running tally of your steps, miles, floors, calories burned and active score.

You enter your information, set goals and it tells you what you have achieved each day.

For me, that number on my desktop goads me into doing a bit more before the day is over.

One of the really cool things it does, is measure your sleep; how long it takes you to go to sleep, how many times you wake up at night and calculates your sleep efficiency. Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain, so this is actually important to know.

I do not have it synced to MyFitnessPal, because not everything I do is recorded by the FitBit (cylcing/swimming) and while you can manually enter it, I like using it as a separate tool which I can double check against.

I still have a LOT of work to do (at a few weeks away from turning 50 it’s not as easy as it used to be) but…

Hammer Butt is back… (I’ll be taking an updated Hammer Butt photo before the tri…)

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~ L



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Kicking It Into High Gear-Getting Fit in Tacoma

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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 endomondo.com 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…

~L


Swim Sistah Swim!!!

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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.

~L

Mood: Happy



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When (swim) Angels Squee…

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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.

“JENNIFER… JENNIFER… JENNIFER!!!”

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.

SKA-WEEEEEEEEE

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

~L

Mood: Gotta Squee



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the end of the season

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Yesterday was the culmination of the (sanctioned) triathlon season here in the Pacific Northwest.

I had grand plans to perhaps do a Half Iron triathlon (and and there were the two marathons I was going to do to earn my “marathon maniac” status)

But my training this year was “epic fail”.

Of course, the goal I set at the beginning of the year was an Olympic distance triathlon which I did complete (three of them actually) It just didn’t feel like “enough” once I completed my first one in early June.

I started out by barely surviving the holiday season (our busiest season at work and the beginning of my Mom’s medical drama)

I had to take several weeks off of training at the end of February when due to the aforementioned mom and job stress, layoffs at work, and having been sick I bonked on the Chilly Hilly ride with a heart rate of 215 (totally sick with cold/flu, stress and sleep deprivation induced).

February through the end of July, my mother was in and out of the hospital and there was much drama, lying, and resurgence of childhood issues including abuse.

And then there was the drama leading up to my mother’s death and the news that her body had been found and all the legal financial pressure dumped on me as the sole survivor. (not to mention having to deal with her friends wanting this or that, and vulture real estate agents)

After that, I got the flu, then I got a nasty sinus infection, then I tried to break my ankle falling/crashing my bike in the transition area at the Bonney Lake Triathlon three weeks ago.

It was a rough year, and I spent so much of it sick, stressed out and grieving that my training was completely inadequate.

I still raced through it all. I knew that my times would suck and that I’d be prone to injury if I pushed. But I needed to move (when I wasn’t sick)

Yesterday I completed my third Olympic triathlon (which I was hoping would be my first half iron distance) at Black Diamond. My 11th triathlon this year, and my 14th triathlon ever. (I started this silliness late last season)

When I drove through Enumclaw early yesterday morning, the thermometer at a local bank read 37 degrees (F) friends who were at the park (Nolte State Park) said that the thermometers in their cars read between 33 and 36 degrees.

That’s just “butt cold”

The lake (Deep Lake at Nolte State Park) was steaming when I arrived.

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I needed to get there at 6:30 AM in order to get one of the very limited parking spaces at the state park; otherwise, I’d have to park 1 ¼ miles away in Cumberland and take a bus (not likely, I’d have ridden my bike and hauled my gear) to the park.

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By the time I got my transition area set up, my feet were numb from the cold. I walked back to my truck, cranked the heater and hung out there until the start. It takes a lot time for the sun to hit an area surrounded by the Cascade Mountains and old growth forest.

My teeth were chattering (even in 3mm neoprene) when this picture was taken

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The water was a “balmy” 64 degrees which sadly, felt good to get into.

I got the snot kicked out of me during the one mile swim (someone even hit my injured ankle). It was like swimming in a washing machine full of boulders. The start area was very wide across the shore, with everyone heading to a tiny point to round the first buoy.

*this shot from last year’s event… Check out how close the buoy on the far left is to the shore (it’s a small lake) No… not the one to the left of the shore, the one behind the shore… We all had to jam into that tiny spot to get around the first buoy (oh, and this shot shows about 1/3 of the swimmers in an average wave…)

Black Diamond Triathlon 9/14/08

I keep saying this, but I have got to stop starting in the back of the swim. I end up getting stuck behind slower swimmers, and there should be a rule that those who breast stroke should start in the back-it’s difficult to safely pass a breast stroking frog kicker.

I had a rather unimpressive transition from swim to bike and hit the rolling hills of the Cascades for what must be one of the most spectacularly beautiful bike courses I’ve ever seen.

The temperature “might” have been up in the 40s by then, but I’m not so certain. I did put on my The North Face Cipher jacket to cut some wind chill on my wet tri suit.

A woman who rode next to me for a time said, “What about that crazy swim?” Apparently she got the snot kicked out of her as well.

The 25 mile ride was challenging without being too difficult. My Garmin shows 1,410 elevation gain, 1,140 feet elevation loss (my Garmin says negative 191 feet of flat. I’m not sure how that works, but let it suffice to say that it was not a flat course)

My legs felt like mush by the time I was done with the bike ride.

I had another unimpressive transition (I was so out of it by this time that I put my bike shoes back on instead of my running shoes so had to change shoes again) to the 10K run.

I was very concerned about my lack of training and injured ankle (it wasn’t sprained but with the kind of trauma it was subjected to, I’m suspected that it would be more prone to injury than normal so I took it very easy on the run, quite a bit of which was on trails.)

The important thing here was to finish uninjured.

I met a very cool woman on the run portion (we also chatted a bit on the bike ride)

Here is my new friend Natalie and I after the race.

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I actually managed to eek out a 3rd place finish in the Athena/40 and over divison. There were five women registered. I don’t know how many actually finished (the results page was borked at the time I posted this report) but I’ll take it.

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Any finish you can walk away from right…

Here was the course…

My goal this year was to finish an Olympic Distance triathlon.

I completed three. I even (still don’t know how this happened but it’s still showing on the USA Triathlon website) got All American Honors for the Moses Lake Olympic Triathlon. (I think the rest of my times were too slow to even show up on the rankings as that is the only one I could find)

I completed a total of 11 triathlons this year.

And I got a lot of shiny things 🙂

Triathlon Shinies won in the 2009 season

I’ll take it.

And I’m planning on 2010 being a MUCH better year!

But I’m not done with 2009. I’ll be running the Seattle Half Marathon, the Norpoint Turkey Trot and some of Bob’s uber fun races down in Elma.

~L

Mood: Tired



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This afternoon’s fun

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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)

~L

Mood: Amused



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I tri d again

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Today was triathlon number 13 (number 10 for this year)

Yes, it’s an illness, (or as my friend Linea says, “You can never leave the firm.”)

I was a bit unsure about this one, as I’ve been off training for two weeks due to the ankle I beat and bloodied up two weeks ago at the Bonney Lake tri. Other than some very light hiking (couldn’t do anything heavy, I couldn’t even lace up the hiking boot due to the ankle pain) last weekend at Grand Teton National Park, I have been a complete and total SLUG!

THIS is what my ankle looked like after my crash in the transition area (I STILL can’t believe I ran 10K on this…)

*note it wasn’t sprained, all that swelling was caused by blunt force trauma direct to my skinny little ankle bone.

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I knew this would be all about just surviving (I LOVE inaugural races, so I was not giving this up) so I’m afraid I didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. I didn’t eat as well or get as much sleep as I should have last night (total lack of discipline/motivation on both parts)

I got there in plenty of time to get my transition area set up, hang out with my friend Julie and wander down to the water. I’ve never competed on this course before, but I’ve volunteered on the water twice, once as kayak water safety and once as a swim angel for Danskin.

Since this was a new race, it wasn’t overly crowded. Julie and I were in wave 4 and had plenty of room.

I have GOT to quit starting in the back at these races (with the exception of the Moses Lake Oly which is almost all Ironmen competing for rankings). I just get kicked in the head by the people I’m passing I’ve got to suck it up and start in the middle. I ranked 423 out of 815 finishers on the swim today which is obviously middle of the pack. My swim time was 20:56 (would have been faster if I hadn’t started in the very back and far outside)

I’m finally getting a bit desensitized to my “milfoil disorder” (that nasty, invasive aquatic weed creeps me out) after a few tris in Lake Washington.

My transition from swim to bike was nothing spectacular, 3:58 (it was a bit of a run from the water to the transition area and I was at the far end)

I didn’t feel all that great on the bike, but as it turns out, it was my best event, I ranked 418 out of 815.

This course is deceptive because it looks much flatter than it is. Getting on and off the I-90 express lanes on the floating bridge is hilly, almost always windy, and there are some hills on Lake Washington Blvd. There is one very squirrelly section of switchbacks heading up to the bridge. Luckily, no one lost their momentum and fell in front of me. (it happens)

I usually unclip from my right pedal because the switchbacks are narrow and a lot of people don’t make it up without at the very least getting off their bike to push it.

This is where my ankle hurt like heck. When I twisted my heel out to get my cleat out of the pedal. I think it puts pressure on the bone.

OUCH!

I was VERY careful in transition after my crash at Bonney Lake, got the bike safely racked and hit the road running… (OK, wogging) in 2:10.

My time for the 5K was a rather unimpressive 35:39 which isn’t all that bad considering that I was not trained, rested or otherwise prepared for this race and my ankle was not all that happy after clipping and unclipping.

I finished in a rather mediocre time of 1:48:04, which put me 16th out of 51 in my division and 435 out of 815 overall. It also put me almost a minute below the average time of 1:49:02.

I really can’t complain.

The GOOD news is, my ankle looks like THIS (this was before I iced it which is pretty impressive) instead of like the picture above.

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Julie and I both got shiny things. I just LOVE shiny things

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Speaking of which, here’s an updated photo of my “shiny thing wall” (kitchen)

shiny thing wall September 2009 001

I’ll have a couple more by the end of the year; they Black Diamond Triathlon next weekend and the Seattle Half Marathon in November (maybe a few Elma races in between)

I was toying with the idea of downgrading from the Olympic Distance to the Sprint next weekend, but I tend to earn a lot more points for my triathlon club when I do an Oly Distance, and I need to make that my standard distance (when available) because I’m shooting for a Half Ironman next year.

What really hurts is the bike, twisting to clip and unclip and I won’t be doing that any more on a longer course.

I am glad that I canceled both my marathons scheduled for next month; I’m not trained up (life happened) and I don’t want an injury from upping my mileage too quickly to plague me for the rest of the year.

Now it’s time to rest, eat, drink and ice my ankle.

It’s days like this when I wish I had a cabana boy to bring me ice for my ankle and mimosas.

Oh, and a cabana…

~L

Mood: Tired



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A bad triathlon is better than…

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A bad triathlon day is better than good days doing a lot of other things.

But those other days don’t usually hurt as much.

I knew I wasn’t trained up, had been sick, stressed out… blah blah blah…

What I didn’t plan on was getting injured (in transition no less) or to wake up feeling the way I did.

I was “on it” last night. I ran my errands, got all of my tri gear together, made crispy bits to have for breakfast (diced potatoes with garlic, cracked pepper and parmesan cheese baked (tossed in a touch of olive oil) until crispy and even got my espresso machine set up and ready to go.

USATriathon releases were printed and signed, maps and driving directions were as well.

My nutrition was good, I was hydrated and I had time to get a full night’s sleep.

I was on it.

I was ready.

I was calm even after getting a letter from someone I recently ended a relationship with and had asked nicely not to contact me because of all I’m going through (it upset me for a number of reasons that I won’t go into here) and I also received the probate papers and will for my Mom’s “estate”.

I felt good.

Gee Lisa, tempt fate much?

I’ve been having “issues” with my digestive tract since the 14 days of high does antibiotics I was on.

I thought I was done with that, and I stopped taking the probiotics.

I started cramping up last night, I woke up this morning in agony, nearly doubled over and spent a good deal of time in the bathroom.

I had also been attacked by the “snot monster” in my sleep. I don’t know what set me off, but I had to neti-pot twice and was still snotty.

And just to make it extra “fun” I had “girl” cramps.

It was also pouring rain, monsoon like rain, which although expected didn’t help me feel any better about doing an Olympic distance triathlon.

I had to stop for bathroom breaks twice on the way up there and was afraid I wouldn’t be there for packet pickup on time. I called Annie who confirmed that I’d still be able to pick mine up.

I had to park a bit father away than I’d have liked.

When I first got to the very crowded registration table I had forgotten my signed release form. I also realized that my USATriathlon number is not on the card/checklist on my bag. (there are a bunch of other numbers on there, just not that one)

Gene was there so I asked him to watch my bag and bike and ran back to get all of that.

When I got back to the table, I didn’t have my bib number (that’s how this group looks for our packets and I know this) I started to walk away to go find my number, but they had a list there.

I was in pain, stressed out, running late and apparently very much affected by yesterday’s mail.

Some of my friends asked how I was and I started to cry. They all thought I was insane to be there at all, more or less doing the Olympic distance. (I wasn’t going to change to the sprint)

I needed to do this. I needed to not quit, to not let anything beat me. I needed to see my friends and I needed to do something physical and active. Going home and laying around feeling sick would have been bad for me physically and emotionally (in addition to everything else, I’ve been very bummed out about my lack of training/fitness and my body fat composition as of late)

I’ll tell you, when Gene says someone is psycho when it comes to triathlon and training, that’s pretty bad. He’s about as “nuts” as you can get.

I got my transition area set up (barely) and make another trip to the bathroom.

Since we were all soaked to the skin, it was difficult to get wetsuits up and on.

I walked out to the lake for the swim start and noticed how far apart the buoys seemed to be (I think our swim at Moses Lake was a bit short)

Here I am getting used to the water; the lone pink cap in a sea of blue capped icky boys… THERE WERE BOY COOTIES IN THE WATER!!!

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Annie found me, hugged me and helped me zip up my wetsuit. (I started crying again, I was a mess) She was so incredibly sweet (as were Kathy, Jill and Gene; I am blessed with wonderful friends)

She got a shot of picture of me lifting my pigtail up to put my swim cap on…

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I was feeling a bit “wheezy” at the start of the swim which I’m sure was a direct result of whatever set off my allergies. It always goes away once I relax and warm up.

I started in the back and to the outside of the swim and took my time.

I may not be a fast swimmer, but I am a strong swimmer and am very comfortable in the water.

For a brief moment before the first buoy, I thought about turning back, giving up, going home. being sick and feeling sorry for myself.

Then I thought about the women I encouraged at the Danskin triathlon as a swim angel.

What kind of angel/mentor/role model would I be if I quit?

Nope, my Danskin women deserved better than having an angel that was a quitter. (I was in no physical danger, I was just not feeling well)

Once I got around the first buoy (the first time, Oly distance swims the course twice) I relaxed and told myself, “It’s just like a swim around the lake with Gene after work.”

I was worried during my second loop that the Sprint distance might start and I might be mowed over. It didn’t happen, but when I stopped to poke my head out and look, I was treated to a cramp in my right calf. I flexed and worked it out.

I exited the water after about 40 minutes which wasn’t all that bad. (I was happy to have not been last)

I ran to the transition area and got out for the rainy bike ride in 2:59 which really wasn’t that bad a transition time, especially since I hadn’t done a triathlon at all in the month of August.

The bike course was hilly and a lot of it chip seal with some loose gravel. It was not as wet as it could have been, but I was still concerned about the bike going out from under me on a corner.

I did not feel like I really had my legs under me. They were tired and untrained.

I was pretty stressed out by the traffic. There were no real bike lanes and most traffic either followed close behind or raced past within inches.

Part of the reason I wasn’t worried about doing this with my intestinal issues was that I had been eating well and had consumed plenty of electrolytes and fluids.

That’s when my bladder decided to join my intestines, uterus and calf muscle and also cramp up on me. My body was one giant painful cramp. (not due to electrolytes, I’d have stopped if that had been the case)

I’ve never had to do this during a triathlon, but I had to pull of the bike course and find a place in the woods to “un-hydrate” (hey, at least I wasn’t doing this one for time, I got passed when this happened)

I was slow, sore and felt like crap, but at least I wasn’t last.

One positive note about this ride, (which will only be appreciated by my cycling and triathlon friends; everyone else may want to pass…)

I learned how to do a “snot rocket”.

I’ve always thought it was rude, crude, crass and disgusting.

Due to my snotty condition and the rain and wind, I had no choice. I felt a small sense of pride when that thing went flying (and didn’t hit me) It was perfectly executed.

I wheeled into the park carefully (good thing too, I heard later that riders were slipping as sliding around that corner)

This is where it got really interesting…

As I was running my bike into transition from the dismount area, some guy that had already finished, decided to just mosey into the transition area entrance which was very narrow (no room for two people and a bike)

The volunteers yelled at him“BIKE COMING IN!” and I said, “excuse me… Excuse Me! EXCUSE ME!!!”

I almost took him out, and I wouldn’t have felt bad about it. He was a healthy young man that knew better.

I had to dart and dodge to get to my bike rack, I went to hit “lap” on my Garmin and lost control of my bike (the areobars make the front end squirrelly) It went down, and I almost went down with it (I went partially down and over it), banging my ankle and leg pretty good. I’d like to blame that on dodging people and the crap that was inconsiderately strewn all over even the main paths but it was all me.

I limped to the rack only to discover that the sprint people who I was sharing space with (they came in earlier that I did because they only did one bike loop) hadn’t bothered to leave any room for my bike and had thrown stuff all over the place. I had to move bikes and unbury my neatly stowed gear.

There was a lot of VERY POOR TRANSTION ETTIQUITE!!!

I was out of transition and on the run course in 2:32 which would have been a lot better if it hadn’t been for the incidents getting in, all the crap I had to dodge, and not being able to get my bike racked or access my gear easily.

All I can say about my run (also hilly) is that I finished. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pretty but I finished

As I was coming into the park my friends were just leaving (they had all done the shorter race and waited as long as they could before they started to get hypothermic. They honked, yelled and cheered from the car. It was a nice feeling!

Gene was still there waiting for me to come in to cheer me on and make sure I was OK. He had shown up just to support us and his friend’s son who was there doing his first triathlon.

What an AWESOME friend!

I got my finsher medal and a 3rd place medal for my division,-not because I was fast, because it was a small division; I don’t’ care, I’ll take a “pity medal” A lot of people didn’t race at all because of the crap weather and I certainly worked hard to get through it.

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When we went back to get my bike, I took my shoes off. I noticed blood on my shoe, then I noticed my sock was soaked in blood.

Then I noticed THIS; I actually ran 10K on this; my guts hurt so bad that I didn’t even notice this until it was over. (I’ll do photo updates if it turns cool colors)

Bonney Lake Triathlon 2009 033

I’ve also got numerous cuts and bruises on my leg.

I’m not sure if I should feel stupid for doing it in so much intestinal pain that I didn’t notice this or if I should feel like a read badass…

After the race, I headed over to Kathy and Jon’s for a wonderful BBQ. They are wonderful hosts and Jon is a great cook. We all had a great time, and since we weren’t getting into our wet suits at the same time (I was doing a different distance race) we found a way to do the obligatory triathlon “butt shot” (hey! My butt’s popular, everyone wants to grab it)

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I came home, took a nice bath with some of my duckies and glass of champagne and have been icing and elevating the ankle.

I knew I’d survive this race, no matter how uncomfortable it was… For a number of reasons…

But the biggie? I found this cute little guy in the parking lot…

A good luck ducky

Bonney Lake Triathlon 001

Here’s the course.

Now, it’s time to ice my ankle again

~L

Mood: Tired



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