New-ier and improve-ier for 2007.


Lather, rinse, repeat. . . .

Or should I say, "run, rest, repeat?"

Six weeks from yesterday, I will be running my first-ever marathon. It's like my final exam in my year of "I've always wanted to do this." I have no illusions of accomplishing anything other than finishing. But I want to finish strong.

So I've been seeing a lot of miles. And a lot of miles are good for my soul. Good for my legs. Good for my clarity.

But not very good as far as blog material goes.

So, I'm here. And I'm training. But, I'm also very dull. And that's okay.



Race Report: Oshkosh Triathlon (Olympic Distance)

Originally uploaded by Veegee.
First off, a great big THANK YOU shout-out to Iron Pol. If it weren’t for him, I would not have done this race. And although the execution wasn’t perfect (by a long shot, as you will see), I learned SO MUCH about what I’m capable of and how far I’ve come during the course. It was so great to meet you – you were as encouraging and positive and awesome in person as you are in your writings, and I hope I get to race with you again in the future!

First off, the succinct version:
Overall: 3:25:36 (168/199 (205 started)) AG: 7/9
Swim: 33:14 (173/199 AG: 8/9, 2:31/100y)
T1: 3:10
Bike: 1:48 (179/199 AG: 7/9, 15.5 mph) (y’all, I am so doing this race next year for redemption on the bike. I can’t even tell you.)
T2: 1:10
Run: 59:37 (157/199 AG: 6/9 9:37 min/m)

Also, I don’t remember if I purposely did this when I registered, or if it was an accident, but I somehow ended up listed as an Athena. And while I probably qualified when I registered however many months ago. . . I no longer do. I ended up 2/4 in the Athena division, but I feel kind of bad about that, since it means that the girl who finished fourth really should’ve had an award-place finish. So, Nicole Herbst from Egg Harbor, I am very sorry!

The Swim: A Glimpse of Redemption

I was a little bit apprehensive going into the swim after my panic-filled experience at the SORT sprint. But even more than apprehension, I wanted a chance to prove to myself that I COULD do this. That all the work I’d put in had made me a capable swimmer.

Iron Pol was in my wave, and as we stood on the beach, he asked me what my goal for the race was. In an effort to remind myself that I was only out there for me, I clapped and flippantly cheerleader-chanted “Finish Under Four!” He’s such a gentleman that he patiently withstood my smart-assed-ness, and still managed to share his own, impressive goals with me. Mrs. Iron Pol is a very lucky lady.

Countdown. . . horn. . . go. I totally smiled under water, remembering Bold’s description of a certain lake as “iced tea.” It totally, completely was. But the sunlight coming through it was amazing, like swimming through some beautiful amber, and I quickly got into a Zen-like state of count-to-twenty-one-sight-repeat. There was a lot more bumping and getting swum over than there was in the previous tris, but I didn’t even come close to losing my shit. Just kept swimming.

I have really been working on long, fluid kicks, and I feel like I did that very well. It definitely made swimming feel easier, but I think that the change in form came back to bite me in the ass later.

Sooner than I could’ve imagined, I was rounding the last buoy. And then, I made an amazing discovery. I could sight without breaking stroke. It was totally a “chorus of angels” moment. I don’t know if I actually went that much faster, but I got a huge adrenaline boost from it, and felt like I was just flying through the water. It was so much fun feeling like a “real swimmer,” that I was almost sad to reach the balloon arch. I came out of the water with the clock saying 34:00-something. Nothing earth-shattering, but well ahead of my miserable pace at SORT. My parents were there at the top of the little hill as I got out of the water, and I smiled so big my cheeks started to hurt. It was a sensation that I would come to experience again in a big way.


There were still a good amount of bikes in T1 when I got there. I had a pretty solid transition, and headed out.

For future reference, I should always remember to spot-check my brake and wheel alignment before taking off on the bike leg. After the race, I realized that my front brake pad was rubbing against the wheel, and while I don’t know that it was like that during the race and certainly can’t lay all the blame for the trainwreck to follow at its feet, it might have been a contributing factor.

The Bike: aka It’s All About My Ass

I felt GREAT starting the bike. My legs felt fresh. My energy was WAY up. I was NOT chanting Ludacris lyrics. There was a crosswind, but it was steady and easy to navigate. The sky was the color of Paraiba Tourmaline. A farm tabby crossed my path, then stopped to miaow its salutations to me. I was hitting 18s and 19s on the mph display without feeling even a little bit of lactic in the legs. It was a good day to be alive.

I got passed a lot, by rocket-launchers propelled by aero warriors. But it was expected, and it didn’t dampen my spirits. I wasn’t out to break any land-speed records. I was just there to see what I could do, what the distance would show me. Iron Pol flew by me at Mile 5, and gave me a 21-Bold-Salute as he sailed past: “It’s all about the BIKE!”

I had no idea how true that was going to be.

I learned long ago not to pray for patience or strength, because The Universe has a way of making sure those prayers are answered, in spades. In retrospect, I perhaps should’ve been a little more specific in requests about what I wanted the race to show me. Because just shy of the six-mile mark, the race showed me its ass.

Or rather, it showed me MY ass.

Two golf-ball sized knots of fire and glass shards exploded into existence, one on each side, right where my cheeks meet my hamstrings. I’m not sure exactly where these little fiends came from, because I’d not had the displeasure of meeting their acquaintance previously. As such, I was utterly unprepared to deal with them.

Oh, I tried to dislodge them: I changed positions. I changed cadence. I stopped and stretched. I cussed. I cussed some more. I invented some new combinations, and possibly even some new words. But my Dear Little Fiends were some tenacious bastards, and would not be moved. They’d set themselves up a picket line and were holding hands singing “We Shall Overcome” in my butt cheeks.

I watched my mph slow to a crawl. And then the course turned, and the steady crosswind became a profanity-inducing headwind, and the crawl turned into drunk stumbling. Not only was it physically painful, it was emotionally and mentally devastating to be performing so poorly, when I knew that I was capable of better. I felt like my body was letting me down. I was ashamed and angry – no, furious – at the betrayal.

I contemplated bailing out at the next volunteer station. There was no pressing reason for me to push through the pain. There was a very real possibility that I was doing serious damage to myself by continuing, and that I could be jeopardizing my chances to do the October marathon. And really, who was I kidding with this triathlete nonsense, anyway? Who did I think I was? Bitter, choking tears appeared and burned behind my eyes.

Then, ya’ll, I was hit with this absolute deluge. Kahuna and his near-death experience. Roman and his eight flats – and finish. Iron Pol barefoot-running the bike leg of his first tri. Wil gutting it out at her Oly. Iron Benny’s excruciating IronMan AZ. Tri Greyhound beating back his mental devils to finish his 70.3. It was an absolute tsunami of strength and heart and spirit.

The tears were still there, but they were no longer galling. They were just salty, and no different from any of the sweat I’d felt in all the hours out there before, in all the hours when I’d thought of all these fine, fine people (!) that I’ve never met, but that I admire so very much.

Then my own strength and heart and spirit got into the act, and decided that they needed their own little musical interlude to drown out the chants of “hell no, we won’t go” emanating from my posterior. And there was no more fitting line, ever, than what popped into my head at that moment:

“It’s much better to face these kinds of things with a sense of poise and rationality.”

The fact that I was out there, was all that mattered in the end. The fact that I wasn’t living up to my own expectations was, at the very least, immaterial. At the most. . . it was the entire point. Failing, falling, getting up again -- that's the stuff that these "real triathletes" were made of. That's what I'd set out to find in myself. And here it was, plopped into my path (or, I guess, ever-so-slightly to the rear of my path), and I had two choices. I could lay down, or I could take it for what it was and keep on.

If this were a fairytale, my shift in attitude would’ve allowed me to still pull out a brilliant ride. But it’s not. And it didn’t. It still hurt and still sucked and still burned a lot when I got passed by people that wouldn’t have been passing me any other day. The racks that were still pretty full when I left T1, were also pretty full when I returned for T2.

But it wasn't done yet. *I* wasn’t done yet. I still had a little something to prove to myself.

The Run: Best. Thing. Ever.

I’d been afraid that the twin demons in my asscheeks were going to turn my beloved run into a death slog. My fears were unfounded. My body was so glad to be off the bike, that it was willing to go along with whatever other idiocy I might have in mind.

I trotted out of T2, doing a bit of triage and evaluation. While I was still on the bike, I had planned for a run that would basically be gritting through. Now, the world was looking a little different. A little brighter. Now, it was time to pour it on, for the pure joy of being able to do it. I grabbed a cup of water from one of the volunteers, dumped it over my head, and mentally clicked in.

The course was a straight-up out-and-back. And I’m telling you right now, I have never, ever experienced so much positive energy out on a course before. Almost every single one of the returning runners had a word of encouragement, a thumbs-up, a smile and wave to share. I pulled it in and reflected it right back. Iron Pol passed by on his way to the chute, looking strong. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. The volunteers at the water stops were making up songs to “advertise” their Gatorade. The guy mowing his lawn high-fived me. I felt like I was floating – and this time, it was only in part because I couldn’t feel my feet.

After the half-way point, there (unsurprisingly) weren’t as many racers coming toward me, and I had some time to dive into my own head. And what I came up with was this:

I spent many, many years of my life in an organized team sport environment. And I’ve considered myself athletic for pretty much my whole adult life. But, I’ve had this “Holy Grail” of former fitness hanging over my head for the past few years: I have been determined to get myself back to the level I'd achieved before I had kids.

In those quiet moments, truly enjoying the HELL out of running down a tree-lined country road, after a swim I could not have conceived of nine months ago, and a ride that had hurt me in every sense of the word, I realized: although I don’t have a “pre-baby body,” I am FAR more fit than I was six years ago. And tougher. And more flexible. And happier. And, best of all, I haven’t even begun to reach the limits of what I’m capable of. I have so many opportunities for growth, and so much to learn.

But one thing I already know is this:

Six-point-two miles that feel like you’re flying? That is one DAMN good way to finish off a tri season.

Yeah. It’s MUCH better to face these kinds of things with a sense of poise and rationality.



I'm like a bee

. . . really. damn. busy.

In the past two weeks I've:
a) attempted to shed my SLP* status by running 10 miles at 10,000 feet and following up the summitting of a fourteener with a 2,000 yard swim.

b) done some intense blood-pressure training by staying in a two-bedroom condo with my children AND in-laws.

c) done some additional intense blood-pressure training by sitting in an airplane next to a 16-month-old child who screamed bloody murder every time you tried to put her in her seat, and ultimately screamed bloody murder for the entire final 35 minutes of the flight due to ear pressure, overtiredness, and utter orneriness.

d) gone from having all of my app documented and ready for handoff to an offshore group, to having six new areas of responsibilities added to it, all of which would be REALLY NICE to have done by, say, end of August?

e) bought some really, really cute shoes.

f) decided that I'm going to have to just be content with finishing the Oshkosh Tri on Sunday, and leave the full-out racing until next year.