Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

Take a Leap and Shine!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Wipe Out

OK. We all have bad days and today was one of mine.
The day started out great. Daisyhead Maisy turns 6 today, so even before breakfast I got to watch her open three fairy-related presents. (Thank God Fairies are the new Barbie.)
Then, off to cycling class.
Saturday workouts on our trainers are always harder than the Monday/Wednesday night ones, and you know if we are taking an extra day off (New Year's Eve) then things will be even harder. I'm not sure if it is that or if maybe we've just reached a new level. You know, when you look back at those workouts from the first week of December and we only rode in the big chain ring for short intervals. Now, we ride in the big chain ring for all but the first 5 and last 5 minutes of the workout.
Anyway, on the run, I was feeling particularly emotional. Not sure why. But if I was feeling it, anger, or sorry for myself, or it was just a song that reminded me of this time last year... it didn't matter. Seemed like whenever I took a deep breath I was ready to cry. Then I noticed that actually the emotions were triggering my asthma. That's a new one for me. So I stopped running and walked until my breathing calmed down. I thought I was going to have a full blown asthma attack for only the third time in my 33 years.
I still don't know why I was feeling like that but I guess everyone has their days. And although I did notice an increase in the intesity of the workout, I certainly didn't feel like I was being pushed to my limits. I got to running again, and noted the sigh of relief point (when I have only 1/2 a mile left of my 4 mile run.) I was distracted in my thoughts though I don't know what I was thinking about.
The next thing I know, I'm falling to the ground at warp speed, with not even enough time to put my hands out to catch myself. The sidewalk had worked itself up in a kink on one side and caught my shoe. My knees hit the ground first, and then the palms of my hands. The pain was hard, I felt like I'd high fived a cement wall that was speeding toward me. SMACK! The blood started dripping down my knees and my hands. And I'm ashamed to say crying again. After looking to make sure noone witnessed my fall, I turned onto a sidestreet to finish my run. And for the first time in a while, I felt like I'd hit the wall and gone through it. I wasn't tired at all of running, but I was exhausted. I felt like I could run forever, like I didn't want to stop. But then, I was back at my car.
I was supposed to stop and buy a present for Daisyhead Maisy's birthday and balloons for the party. I couldn't forget the balloons.... but I just went straight home to my family and took a shower instead. And once I got the dried blood off and the water ran clear, I felt much better.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Dada Paints the Sky

Redfish is growing in leaps and bounds. His ear infection, which he's now had for 2 weeks hasn't stopped him at all. (He got a new antibiotic today). He's started trying to entertain us almost all the time with jokes and tricks (takes after me). His logic is kid logic, the best kind. It doesn't really make sense to adults, but make perfect sense to him....and sortof make sense to adults if you just pretend your a kid.
Like each and every time we see a beautiful sunset he asks, "did Dada paint the sky?" And, it is true, the skies we see look like Dada's paintings. "Did Dada paint the tree he asks?"
And when we wake up in the morning and the sun is up and it is no longer dark, he says, "It's WORKING!" Amazed everyday that the sun comes up.

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Wish Comes True

I think it was just a few months ago that I was saying that with as beautiful a river as The James here in Richmond, surely we should have our own river triathlon. Plus, I vowed not to do another pool swim anytime soon. ...My wish has been granted!

Looks like sometime this summer (I'm thinking between the middle of June and End of August)
Richmond Multisport's very own Laurie Mehler will host the Robious Landing Sprint Triathlon - NEW for 2007!
...Is someone reading my mind (blog)?
Date TBA - but we can at least tell you it's on a Sunday!
Midlothian, VA
Race Cap: 500

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Why Do Kids Have to Watch T.V. at School?

Ok. This is just a rant. And not triathlon-related at that. Unless you count a sedentary lifestyle with too much T.V. as triathlon-related.
Why does my daughter watch T.V. at school? . How is that helping her? If she's learning from it, I don't like what she's learning. Dare I call her teacher lazy? Not just on rainy days. or special occasions -- that would be fine. I can't determine if it is EVERYDAY, but almost everyday, she watches TV at school. They finished Disney's Jungle Book by watching it several days in a row. Then it was a sort of demented version of Frosty the Snowman ("the bad guy was much meaner than in our version" says Daisyhead Maisy). Followed by another 30 minute movie afterwards.. that she can't even remember the name of (i'm not sure if that is a good thing or if that means her mind has turned to mush already!
This is kindergarten for Christ's sake. At home, where we are the only "family" we know in Richmond who does not get cable or "magic T.V." as we call it. We have banished the T.V. from our living area because we were watching too much (which wasn't much compared to other families). Now, unfortunately that means the T.V. is in our bedroom -- a place we swore we would never put it.
And why did I have to keep Daisyhead Maisy home from school today? Was she sick? No. I had to keep her home because the entire kindergarten, all 90-something 5- and 6-year olds were going to see "Happy Feet" in IMAX at the Science Museum. This is a show that the Chicago Tribune reviewer says, "I wouldn't take a child under 7 or 8 to see "Happy Feet."
The reviewer, Micheal Phillips, says "By the time Mumble nearly loses his mind in zoological confinement, director Miller seems determined to send youngest viewers into therapy and swearing off zoos altogether. (My (his) nearly-6-year-old son's review of this plot development: "Movie, please be over.")
A movie that is rated PG. Now what kind of parental guidance can they give 90-some kindergartners in the dark, when there are like 4 teachers and a handful of parents? Who will explain "the "Jaws"-like attack of the leopard seal" scene to them? And how is it that I have to pay $16.50 for my child to go even though she isn't going? Not to mention the fact that after the 1 hour and 48 minute movie is over they will watch an approximately 30 minute planetarium show and there will not be ANY time at all to see anything educational at the Science Museum.
Am I the only parent at this school who doesn't endorse taking there child to a "often frighteningly intense story."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Test

I've been thinking about it alot. Self sabotage.
Sometimes when you are scared of something or scared of failing, you actually can make it worse for yourself. I'd been trying to keep my mind off of the upcoming 1 mile fitness test that would gauge our fitness and help our coaches come up with an intensity plan for our workouts. It turns out by trying to keep my mind off of it and trying not to stress myself I subconsiously was still worrying and found a few ways to make things harder on myself.
For example, maybe I shouldn't have run 4 miles at the Vita course and then walked a fifth when when 15 hours later i'd be trying to get my PR for my mile. And then, eventhough I knew the running test was that morning, I still ate breakfast, which I don't normally like to do before running workouts.
Anyway, my 1 mile PR was 11.05, quite a bit off of the 10.21 from earlier this year. It still sucks to be last (always). But at least I've got nowhere to go but up.
Nancy Toby posted this really great running calculator on her blog. I put in 37.50 as my PR for a 5K (at the end of a sprint triathlon) and it gave me a cute little chart that I'm still trying to figure out.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Redfish Funny

Please stop reading now if you are offended by potty humor. This is NOT triathlon related!!!


Redfish did something this morning that just made me crack up...and I certainly want to record it forever so anytime I need a laugh I can refer back here....or use it to embarrass him at his wedding. Just Kidding!
Anyway, to set the stage I should probably tell you the background. And bare with because this will be a long one., but if you hang in, it will be worth the read.

Redfish is starting to be aware of his body. He's realized he can control when he pees. So much so, that for several weeks he was holding it in, because he didn't want to go in the diaper and he didn't want to go in the potty either. He held it so long in fact that when he could finally hold it no longer and tried to go he couldn't. He was in so much pain and we were so concerned that we took him to the best urologist in town. The night before the urologist visit, he had a "spell" where he was in so much pain I paged the pediatrician on call and almost took him to the ER. We didn't know what was wrong with him at that point. He didn't have a urinary tract infection. He didn't have a yeast infection. We were starting to wonder if something was really, really wrong internally.
The urologist did an ultrasound with a full bladder. He said things looked good. Then, I waited in the waiting room for 3 hours until Redfish could hold his pee no longer. He peed so much, his diaper couldn't hold it all. So after cleaning up the waiting room, we did an ultrasound with an empty bladder. Everything looked great the doctor said. He said sometimes precocious little boys do this when they realize they have control and that the problem arises when they try to pee and their bladder is so full they get an erection and then they can't pee no matter how hard they try.
Needless to say, we've been encouraging of Redfish's peeing. And when he finally started to go in the potty, we cheered, we jumped up and down, we had family cheers, basically everything short of doing a cartwheel. Right now his three "rewards" for going in the potty are: mama and dad jumping up and down, getting to flush the toilet, and getting a Wiggles sticker.
That's the background. Now for the story.


We were sitting at the breakfast table this morning and Redfish said, "Mama, Redfish farted."
"OK, honey, say excuse me," I say.


"Please jump around Mama!" says Redfish.


Daisyhead Maisy slaps her hand to her forehead and rolls her eyes.


I try my best, but I can't help but laugh.

"Redfish funny!" he says.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Off Season Triathlonmom is Cranky

Well, it's about one week to the season's start of base training for Eagleman. I'm not sure whether I'm dissapointed that I'm down to running just once a week, or if I'm proud of myself that I'm still running once a week, despite having no team structure.
Regardless, I think it is fine that I took a break. My toe is almost healed. My Christmas shopping is basically done. And my family is going to be totally happy to have their old mom back. I think they are getting tired of the cranky, impatient, fidgety, short-tempered mom that replaced the more well-rounded one that is TriGirl Mom.

Which reminds me. Mr. Preschool says that when I come home from my swim workout, I am always peaceful, docile, patient, and calm. Traits not usually exhibited by me. I guess having an hour or 90 minutes stuck in your head or staring at a black line on the bottom of the pool can be a good thing! A sort of forced meditation. Otherwise I'm not able to force myself to sit down and do it. OK, I am multitasking meditation.....shhh don't tell anyone. I don't think that is allowed.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Richmond Marathon 2006

The Richmond Marathon today was long and hot. And I wasn't even running it. I was out supporting my teamates, riding the course on my bike, cheering them on. Mostly it was riding the brakes the whole way, my voice hoarse from shouting encouragement to random strangers.
I picked up the race at Granite and Cary Street road, passing the police cars and several very slow marathoners who had to walk/walk run with a cop car nipping at there heels. I really related to them....Felt like that would surely be me at least at some point of the race if I was running it. Running makes you loopy. Had fun chatting with the "Big Chafe" Team. Mostly rode the breaks for 12 painfully congested miles.
Caught up with Sharon and Mary, Anna and Kate T., then Lynn, Kate O. and lastly the speedy Carmen. I never did catch Grandison. I spent way too much time riding my breaks.

I was extraordiarily careful of the runners. But, it was so congested I wouldn't suggest riding the marathon course as a cheerleader to anyone else. In fact, I saw several clueless bikers who were impeding runners and being careless.

I did had a blast cheering folks on while passing them...something i don't often get to do.

And, I am in awe of all of all the runners out there. Especially the first timers.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Race Schedule for 2007

I've been thinking alot about the 2007 season, since the start of training is just a few short weeks away. I'm looking to fill my schedule with some open water....some challenging (for me) distances, and shopping for a new wetsuit, of course. I'm sort of over pool swims, but having a bit of trouble filling the schedule for the middle of my summer. Maybe something will pop up. I guess this would be much easier if I didn't mind spending the night in a hotel. Maybe Richmond needs a new race....in the James River....in the middle of the summer....hmmmmm.

March 31st, 2007 Monument Avenue 10K

Saturday, April (3rd week?) Kinetic Quarter, Date to be determined, Lake Anna, VA

June 10, 2007 EaglemanTriathlon, Cambridge, Md

September 16, 2007 (tentative date) Sandman Triathlon, Virginia Beach, VA

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Getting Back in the Saddle

I was just reading J.'s (10-31-06) blog last night and feeling sorry for myself because he was able to transform a really crappy, painful slow run to a joyful, fast, happy run. For me it is almost always just a painful, slow run. And 12 days off after injuring my toe didn't make me feel any more hopeful. I did finally get back out there on Tuesday. It was such a beautiful fall day, but a shorts and t-shirt kinda day...and I had planned on running in the early morning, but I conveniently forgot to set the alarm. (Starting once you stop, even with a reason, starting is SO hard).
I convinced Redfish that he wanted to go for a ride in the stroller (no small feat) , when he changed his mind and decided we needed to go to the park instead.
Compromise: run to the park (2 miles) run back (2 miles). I like this. My toe didn't even hurt while I was running, only when I stopped.
He was happy (mostly) I was happy (mostly). But I did have to give up my ipod to him for the run home. I've decided this can be a new ritual.
Too bad I was still feeling it this morning when I tried to go out for run number two (3 miles). It was light out, thanks to a recent daylight saving grace. But it was also cold, incredibly windy, and raining.
I was ever so greatful that when I started to run, I looked up and snowing upon me were thousands of the most beautiful fall leaves you can imagine. I couldn't figure where they all could have come from, because when I looked up, I saw the dawning of the morning sky, not trees at all. It was one of the most joyful feelings to run in a snow of never ending leaves raining down from the sky.
The running part sucked though. My toe started hurting this morning as soon as I put on my shoe. Later my ankle sort of cramped up. Since the regular season is over, the only chiquitas who showed up were marathoners or half-marathoners. Need I say it sucks to get passed on a one mile track when you are only running 3 miles. And then they switched directions and passed me again! They were as gracious about it as they could be.
And I continued to amuse myself with natures follies. Running faster when the headwinds came on strong. And loving it when the rain blew directly into my wide open, panting mouth. And standing in amazement as I ran into one of Mr. Preschool's paintings of birds attached to the wind.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Oh My Toe

We'll if nothing more, at least I can say I have good timing.
Friday, I thought I broke my toe. Turns out I didn't but I'm still not sure if I believe them, since the pain is worse than the last and only time I broke another bone in my body. My pinky toe is black and blue in a circular fashion with a bright red line up the top/side area.
I won't be running this week. I'm having trouble walking even without a limp. Shoes make it worse.
Don't even ask me how I did it! I was opening the front door. My foot stayed in one place and my pinky kept going with the door.
At least I got the timing right. I should have plenty of time to heal before we start training for Eagleman at the begining of December.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Off Season

I'm officially here. The off season. Last swim was Sunday. The last bike on Saturday was cancelled, due to thunder for the first time ever. So, It's just me and my running for a while. I figure since running is my big weakness, I can't backslide even for a moment. And our indoor bike training for Eagleman doesn't start until December 1st.
Speaking of running, that has been going really well. I've actually been getting up 15 minutes earlier so I could add a mile to my run. I've been running 2-3 times a week, and taking fewer and fewer breaks. Much of the progress is due to newfound old workout partner who took last season off, but now is back full throttle. We alway rode together in the past, but I could never run with her because I took too many walk breaks. Now, with a little patience on her part, I'm actually RUNNING with her. Great.
I joke that she is my new personal trainer, which of course she isn't but her influence over my running has been strong enough to earn the nickname. Actually ran a mile with no walk break at all, except for the 3 seconds it took for her to give me that, "what are you doing stopping?" look and for me to start running again. I guess I'm an optimist because I was hoping that I'd be alble to beat my PR of 10.21 with that loop...but guess again. I'm a faster runner when I walk part of the way. I guess I just need to focus on one thing at a time -- first running without stopping, then speed.

Running at this time of year is beautiful, even if it is at 5:45 a.m. It was cold. And pitch black except for some moonlight. Running in the moonlight kinda' sorta' rocks. I can't wait to do it again. The only problem is in the shaddows of the trees, you can't see jack. I came within millimeters of actually running into someone coming the opposite way. Good thing I run slow, it gave us both just enough time to dodge and giggle at the absurdity of it all. But with the marathon coming up in just a few weeks, it just make sense. You've got to get your training in somehow. I didn't realize until moving the workout time up by 15 minutes that actually there is a whole set of runners that finishes at 6 a.m., which is how I used to be able to get such a great parking space at 6 and now, I park much farther away.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Team RaceAthlete

Thank goodness it is the off season. I actually had time to complete my Team RaceAthlete application. What a great opportunity they are providing. I can't wait to see how it goes. What a great idea!

OK here it is....let me know what you think.

It all started about 4 years ago. My daughter was 2, and I was having trouble adjusting to motherhood and the sacrifices it takes – I was making too many and not doing anything for myself. A friend was starting all-women, all-mom triathlon team. Hmmmm…. sounded interesting. But, technically I was "severely obese." This would not be easy. I had been walking 3 miles daily, even running some of it, in an effort to get the weight off, but it wasn't working. It wasn’t just baby fat. I’d been obese since I was 5, and over the prior 25 years I’d tried everything to gain control over my weight, with mixed results. After 3 weeks of pondering whether I could really complete a sprint triathlon, I was in. It was difficult being the fattest person at each workout, but at least I was surrounded by moms and they were supportive.

After I finished my first race, I knew I was hooked. I took a year off to have another child and here I am, 2 years later with another 2 year old, about to take on the biggest challenge of my life -- training for Eagleman Ironman 70.3.

As we all know, life is about balance and priorities. And sometimes you just have to find a way to make something happen if it is your dream. I guess that is why they always say, signing up is the hardest part. Now, I've made the commitment.

And when you have a dream, excuses seem to melt away -- none being able to stand hard and fast as a dream-stopper. Not money. Not time. And definitely not the remaining 65 pounds of extra weight I still carry around.

Can you justify spending $3,500 a year on triathlons? It would be easy to spend that much. But when $3,500 is your year's salary of working -- Saturdays and Sundays before or after workouts and you've got a family to help support, it just isn't possible.

So, what do you do? You share a bike with your husband (and socks, and shorts, and arm warmers...need I go on?) You barter your services as a team leader on a women's triathlon team, so you can afford to have a pool to swim in and a team to train with. And, you pick and choose your races. Sometimes, just volunteering and watching your teammates and the triathlon virgins cross the finish line is enough to fuel your race need.

And when the kids scream, "Mama, don't go! Don't leave!" when you accidentally wake them up on your way out the door to a 6 a.m. workout, you walk out that door anyway, because you remember this isn't just for you. This is for them too. You are setting an example.

You know, teachers always talk about how important it is to inspire a love of reading and a love of books in your children, but they never talk about the importance of inspiring a love of exercise or participating in a sport you love, which can be equally important. You know it is worth all the sacrifice when they want to go running with you. Or they want to participate in a kid’s marathon. Or, it might just be the way your 2 year-old stomps around the house, getting louder and louder screaming “swim, bike, run… swim, bike run! SWIM, BIKE RUN!" that makes it all worth while.

Or, you might realize it when you have just finished one of your best races and your 5-year-old asks, "Mama, did you win?" And you kinda' sorta' have to answer, "Yes!"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Payoff of Wearing Workout Clothes All Day

So, you know I've been working out HARD all summer. Probably peaking with the intensity of my workouts back in early August with the 46 mile bike. I have been running since last February. And while I have lost some weight, it hasn't been in the past 2-3 weeks. I'm in my off season. I'm taking a minibreak before I start my winter training for EagleMan in Decmeber. I am comparatively slacking. ...running 2-3 times a week, 3-4 miles each time. Biking and swimming maybe once a week.
But, yesterday, I didn't have time for a shower after my morning run. I stayed in my lycra bike style running shorts and my Ryka IronGirl performance tee all day. It was embarrasing how many people came up to me to tell me how great I looked, how much smaller I looked. In my stinky, old running clothes! They all wanted to know what race I was training for, how hard I'd been working out.
I'll have to try that one more often. It's like people think you only work out if they can see you in your grungies! My badge of courage, I'll have to remember that one next time I want some attention and encouragement.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Why Would You Want to Do That?

One of my longtime workout buddies asked me why I wanted to do Eagleman, a half Ironman race. Which will probably take me 8 and a half hours. So after thinking about it, here are my reasons......

1. I feel great when i work out, the harder the races I do the more accomplished and self-confident I feel.

2. I Like experiencing new things. Taking risks is VERY hard for me. This is one way I've managed to convince myself to take risks. It is truly living life full and strong. You always feel so alive when you train and compete. And you ALWAYS have a story to tell.

3. I have fallen in love with the sport, but also with the people in the sport. There is something special about a triathlete....especially a long-distance triathlete. I like the team-family atmosphere and find it a great venue to make friends. I am my best self when I am training hard. Racing reminds me why I have been inspired. I love the culture, the feeling like I'm part of a group, the bringing up others, big brother aspect of the sport. I love being seen as a leader and looked up to by beginner triathletes (TriGirls) which is something I don't get very often. It is an image of me that I like, and can see more clearly despite what strangers and casual acquaintances may think of me based on my appearance.






4. I have struggled with my weight my ENTIRE life. No, really, since I was 3 or 4 years old. I want to be fit. I want to be healthy. I want to loose weight, and I know that right now this maybe the only way I can succeed at doing it. If not, at least I'll be fit and healthy(ier). My coach was telling me how athletes who workout and train (regardless of their weight or BMI) are so much healthier than skinny folks who don't.

5. Because I can, and so many people can't.

6. Because I want to set a great example for my kids and husband. No example was set for me. Ever.



Thursday, September 21, 2006

Eagleman

I can't believe it. I signed up for Eagleman Half Ironman today. I had planned on signing up for the Aquabike, but I kept thinking that I would miss doing then whole race. I can always back down to a Aquabike, but I can't get into the full race after it's full. So, let the training beging.


Today we ran one mile repeats. My watch alarm didn't go off, so I slept a little late. Ran a one mile warm up,l then did one mile repeats.

First mile: 10:49
Second mile: 10:31 ([pretty close to my PR of 10:20)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

SandmanTriathlon, Virginia Beach -- The Race

Sandman Triathlon, Virginia Beach
While the night could not have been worse, the morning could not have been better. We broke our vow not to make Redfish sleep anywhere but his crib at home, and we paid for it. I decided after IronGirl to tough it out and bring the kids to the race because I missed them so much, and it was such an empty feeling to cross the finish line at IronGirl and have no one there for me.

The price we paid was that I didn't get any sleep the night before the race. Redfish stayed up until 9:30 p.m. or so (instead of 7 p.m., his normal bedtime) and then was up every hour after. That is, until 3:30 p.m. when he gave up sleeping altogether and woke up the neighbors too. When my alarm went off at 5:40 a.m. I was already awake. Redfish was asleep in bed next to me. Something we've NEVER done, but we were desperate.
A friend of Mr. Preschool was letting us stay in his condo, about 1.5 miles from the race. To avoid having to find parking by the oceanfront, I decided to ride my bike to the race. My running shoes, my flip flops, my wetsuit, my towel, Gatorade, water, breakfast, hat and all of my other junk for the race was in the backpack on my back. I rode 3 blocks down to the boardwalk in the dark. Then, I rode along the ocean, listing to the waves and the silence. I rode by the oceanfront carousel that we had let the kids stay up late to ride on the night before. I looked to my right and I could see just a hint of Redish pink coming up where the sun would be in 20 minutes. It was breathtakingly beautiful and I knew right then that regardless of the race I had, It would be a good one.
I got to the transition area very early. I wanted to have time to go down by the ocean and think before the race. It was a gorgeous day -- cool and crisp. I racked my bike in the best spot, which also meant being the only female in the front half of the transition area. I set up my transition and walked down to the beach with my ipod.

Next thing I knew, they were closing the transition area. I still had to go back in, get on my wetsuit and leave my glasses. I had to pee so bad, but I skipped the port-o-john and RAN. I grabbed my wetsuit and frantically tried to pull it on.
"All athletes must leave the transition area now!" they kept saying on the bullhorn. Let me just say that Adrenalin does NOT help you get on a wetsuit. I was freaking out. This really nice guy came over and told me to put a sock on and that would help me get my foot through the hole. I was already sandy, so this really helped. But when I mentioned that now I had a sandy sock he said, "You'll be running so fast you won't even notice it." At least it made me smile when he said that, even if it was just to laugh at the thought.
My plan was to get the wetsuit halfway up and then walk the 1,100 meters down the beach to where they had already started the swim. I struggled some more with racing to put on my wetsuit. Cursed my belly and my butt for making it all so hard, and hustled out of the transition area. I left my glasses in my helmet and put on my foggy goggles (yes, I know this is not a great look) .
Mr. Preschool was outside waiting with the kids. Not exactly great timing, but still I was happy to see them. That same nice sock guy came up and handed me 2 cups of water.
"Here, take this, it's a long walk, you're gonna need this water, take your time."
Damn, more water, just what I needed. I had to pee bad. For half a second I thought about trying to pee in my wetsuit and decided, I just couldn't. I walked down the boardwalk to the swim. It was a long, long walk. And finally I saw it. The exact same public restroom that I had tried to fix my contact in. It was surreal.
"HEY, hey you. Don't you get it?
You are still here.
You are still in the same place.
You are still freaking out...Aren't you here to bury the demons....
To show yourself that when push comes to shove, you can make this happen.
You can take a deep breath, and make a little magic -- take a little leap and shine."

I walked down to the beach and heard the air horn. The third wave was starting. It was chaotic, lots of people running into the waves at the same time and then the lifeguards would go in and start pulling people out. They were pulling out skinny fast runner types and they were pulling out Clydesdale men types. It didn't seem to matter. All sorts of folks were going out and coming back in. I guard told me that they expected to pull out or save about 50 people during the race and when the red flags went up on the lifeguard stand (baning recreational swimmers), I wasn't surprised.
I found my friend Roseanne and her friend Cabell and they helped me slip the top half of my wetsuit on. I knew that swimming in a wetsuit for the first time during a race was a risky, stupid thing to do, but I figured at this point, having come full circle yet again, that I'd adjust and be fine.
And moments later it was my turn. The air horn blew and we were all rushing into the water. The wetsuit was especially tight around my neck, which was uncomfortable, but it was my arms not being able to fully extend that caused me more trouble. Despite that, I realized for the first time that this was really the race for me. The lifeguards came in behind us and starting pulling people out. But, somehow that made me feel more comfortable. I knew they were there if I needed them. And I was excelling in a difficult situation, trying something hard and trying something new.
I love the ocean. When I swim in it, there is a feeling I can't describe that comes to me. I feel like I'm drifting through life, being pulled by my own force. I feel like for one of the only times in my life I am able to let go and drift whatever way the water wills me, but at the same time, maintain complete control. And one of the most absurd things happens, because I have the hugest respect for the water and the havoc it can create. Despite the ocean being incredibly rough, I felt safe.
After passing the four buoys, I tried to ride a wave in, but they just weren't the riding sort of waves. They were just too big, and too confused. I started taking off my wetsuit in the water (bad idea) and got stuck with one arm in and one arm out with my elbow bent, I felt like a bird with a broken wing. I saw Mr. Preschool and thought of asking him to help me. Despite the absurdity of it, the "assistance" penalty crossed my mind and I decided not to ask for help. Mr. Preschool told me that I was only the 2nd Athena out of the water so I better book it (this later turned out not to be true).

I pulled off the wetsuit, grabbed my glasses with a sigh of relief and run with my bike to mount it. There was a huge cluster of folks mounting their bike on the sidewalk! What. What are they doing? Crazy. I pushed my bike off the sidewalk to the street and walked down a few steps and then mounted it. (Mr. Preschool told me that seconds later he saw a biker run over a pedestrian and badly cut his foot, ruining his race.)
The bike was pretty uneventful. Headwinds all the way out. Crosswinds whenever we got near the water. And the wind pushed us all the way home. The course was mostly closed to vehicle traffic (a first for me) , which was a huge relief. At each intersection, there were soldiers from the national guard. I passed many, many folks on the bike and was passed by many men, but only 2 women.
I started the run, and as always the first mile was hard. Okay, the entire thing was hard, but thr first mile sucked more. The good news is that for the first race ever I was able to run according to my predetermined plan. I ran for 3 minutes and then walked for 1 (or 30 seconds depending on how good I felt.) It felt really good to be true to my commitment to run. My run time wasn't that much different, In face it was 20 seconds slower than my PR. But the fact that I ran when I said I was going to run meant alot to me.
I conquered my demons. I finished strong. I had fun. There is no doubt you are living life when you race. Something about triathlons just makes you feel so alive.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sandman Race Background

Flash back to 4 summers ago. I had just done my first triathlon. I'd fallen in love with the sport. As a reward for my first race, Mr. Preschool and I bought a bike. I really nice bike, (OK, not really, really nice) but we spend way more than I'd have ever thought I would spend on a bike. I had found my place in this sport and it had changed my life. And man, did it change my life! I trained and trained. I registered for a little race down in Virginia Beach, called Sandman. And I went to the eye doctor and got contacts for the first time since college, so I would be able to "sight" on the ocean swim, and see where to get out of the water and how to get to transition. I guess I don't need to mention here that I can't see at all without a prescription lenses.

Our old team, Triathlonmoms, drove down to Virginia Beach with our swim coach, Matt Kredich, and we practiced that ocean swim. It felt really great, I felt confident, but afterwords, when I stoped by the public restrooms on the way back up from the swim I realized something was wrong. My eyes were so dry. I had stopped wearing contacts because of the dryness and the pain. And now my eye was so dry that the lense was adhered to the lense on my iris.

This is the sort of thing that throws my life out of whack. My neuroticism seeps in and I feel like my life is spining out of control. These were the feelings that had slipped away as I began to train. The part of my life that went away (for the most part) when I found triathlons, and hell no I didn't want it back.

"Too many variables...
worry..... new town.
Someone else driving the car in a strange city...
Is Daisyhead Maisy Okay? What is she doing?....
Is she missing me.....
I can't get this damn thing out of my eye, It's stuck.....has that ever happened to you?
....... I don't know any doctors in Virginia Beach.....
What if I can't get it out?
If I drive back to Richmond and see the doctor, will they know what to do?
...This is going to be Okay, RIGHT?"

And so with this story, it is not so much the end result of me having to basically tear the thing out of my eye back at the doctor's office with the doctor just sort of looking at me in disbelief that is important. It is that I left my comfort zone. I though I was doing great. Something went wrong and it could have been anything.... a flat tire, a rip current, a jelly fish sting, or a stupid contact...but I couldn't handle it. I was too far gone.

When the situation was resolved and I had calmed down, I looked forward to the Sandman as the true test. The time that I could prove to myself that under pressure, on raceday I could make it all come together, contacts or not. That I could face my demons and overcome them. And whether I got a flat tire, forgot my shoes, or got a shark bite for that matter, I would overcome it. I would complete my race and maintain controll of my demons.

So, a few weeks later when the hurricane swept through Virginia Beach causing flooding, downed trees, power outages and more mayhem, the Sandman was postponed. And although I seriously considered it, I couldn't miss my cousin Scott's wedding, on the day Sandman was rescheduled for. I hadn't seen Scott in 20 years, and I needed to see him.
The next year I was pregnant with Grayfish.
And then the next year, Mr. Preschool had committed to an artshow the same day.

Flash forward to this year. I signed up for IronGirl, and decided this was the year to prove to myself that I could conquer the Sandman despite there being only 3 weeks between the two races.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sandman Results Today, Race Report Tomorrow

Just got back from Sandman. Here are some race results.

The weather today was scattered clouds, 72 degrees F, 76% humidity, wind NNW 14 mph.

There were 14 finishers in Athena U40. 16 Overall.
I came in 6th place in my division.
My time was 1:57:53.80.

My Swim time was 24:02.45, division place 4
My Bike time was 50:42.35, division place 5, Speed 16.5mph.
My 5K time was 38:09.90, Run Pace 12:18 min/mile

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Redfish Turns 2!

Today, Redfish Said, "I love you Mama!" Clearly and for the first time. Man, a thing like that can warm your heart. Right now he is really into repeating whatever you say, especially Spanish.We spent the day at the park with friends.
I told him it was his birthday and he said, "cake!" When we gave him cake, he asked where his present was. Well trained boy.
Temper tantrums started in earnest today too. Funny how that works.
3 days until Sandman. Pack bags tomorrow....for the whole family.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Dear Wil,

Wil,You are my hero. Even more so because of how you raced. They took your chip from you when you didn't make the cutoff for the first half of the marathon. But still, through rain and pain, you made it to mile 19. You came so far, and you came so close to finishing. Folks keep telling you your an Ironman for real because of your spirit, and how you raced, but just not officially. Which is why I find it so ironic that officially, you are an Ironman. Officially, you finished. Officially you are an Ironman.

Last night I dreamt I was racing an Ironman. Something that I've never dreamt before. Actually, something I don't think could have ever entered my world of possiblilities before. Thank you.

Now, we will wait to hear your story.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Iron Wil

So, today's the big day for Iron Wil. She is conquering Ironman Wisconsin in the rain as I write this. She's been training for over a year. I'm so excited for her. And yet worried about her. Where she must be now that she is in the first half of her marathon. Where she must be in her head. What she must be thinking and feeling.
OK. I know she's strong. She's trained. She's trained in the rain. She's got rockin' good vibes from well over 100 of her closest blogging friends. So, I guess what I'm thinking is how alone I'd feel. And how I'd be worried about me, if that was me. Iron Wil is always the one who inspires me, gets me back on track. Reminds me of why I'm doing this.
What I want to know is how do you stay so focused on your race and stay so in the moment that you can still remember? I guess you just do. Maybe Wil can tell us when she gets back.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Playing Possum

Ya know this has been a tough week. I wasn't sure what to do with my training. I took a light recovery week last week after the race, but knew Sandman was just around the corner with neither enough time to work up to good distance workouts nor enough time for a good taper before the next race.
So this week the lesson I learned is that when I don't put my energy into intense workouts, I end up wasting it on other efforts like drama, worry, and sleeplessness. Note to self, read this blog entry whenever you don't feel like getting your butt out of bed at 5:30. I am thankful for running 4 miles today. I am thankful that the weather was great -- cool, crisp (but foggy). And I am thankful that today I will avoid the drama, worry and sleeplessness. Plus, I got a PR: 4 loops at the Vita Course, 4 loops in 47 minutes.
Daisyhead Maisy started Kindergarten on Tuesday. Need I say more? Mr. Preschool went back to work, a mixed blessing. And Redfish walks around all day asking where everyone is.
On top of that, we had this really horrid smell coming from our AC vents. Since we just had 12 inches of rain thanks to the remnants of the hurricane, I was worried we had standing water or mold under our house. The good news: It wasn't. The bad news: Dead Possum, maggots and all. Need I say more? I think Mr. Preschool deserves some sort of award for taking care of it. Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What, No Peelers?

OK, so I just tried on a wetsuit for the first time. Yowza. Let me just say it is like a giant pair of pantyhose. Made out of rubber. I swore off pantyhose a long time ago for a reason. I hate them! I thought as a triathlete I could be one of those pants-wearing toughgirls who'd never have to subject myself to that sort of struggle again. Wrong.
And the problem with some of my triathlon knowledge is that it it comes from Ironman bloggers. I've just been informed that at the Sandman, there will be no assistance getting the damn thing off when I'm sandy and wet. No peelers, honey, that's just for Ironman races.
I'm not sure whether I should hope the water is warm so I don't have to wear the thing or if I should just hope the run to T1 isn't too long since running in the wetsuit won't really be a run due to the wetsuit's stiffness.
Regardless, I'm just happy I didn't have to pay $400 for the thing. Thanks to the Richmond Tri Club and 3Sports, Tri Club members can rent one for $25.
And then never have to see it agian.

Monday, August 28, 2006

IronGirl Race Report Aug. 27, 2006


It was a great race. (That is me on the left, Kate and Randi.)
What I learned is that it's not just the work of the race that the race is about. That is not why I love triathlons. It is the overall experience as a whole that makes up the race. Being in one place with 1,850 other women who have the same goal as you do is the set-up for a great adventure.
Whether it is watching an extremely obese woman have the courage to attemp a race like this and struggling to sit down on the dock so she can scoot herself into the water, or whether it is someone (who could be me) changing a flat 50 feet into the bike, this is why I tri. It reminds me of life -- the joys and the frustrations. The life you lead by the example you set. It is like a condensed version of it. Only for me, the race helps me gain perspective on life. It doesn' last forever, how do you really want to spend it? Or as an Ironman athlete once told me "there is no finish line," which is so true.
Where to start? I guess the race adventure for me really starts Saturday morning. Saying goodbye to my kids. It was so damn hard to leave them, that I almost forgot to kiss Mr. Preschool goodbye. But I did it. Mr. Preschool says he's not sure if he is more proud of me for leaving the kids to do something for myself or doing the race itself.
Two hours later I was standing in the Children's Place Kids Outlet at Potomac Mills during what should have been naptime (and breastfeeding time) and my breasts started getting hard and feeling engorged. I had another good 20 hours before my race and all I could think was, how and I gonna' run like this?
I met two of my teamates from back home. We picked up our packets at the hotel then, we drove over to Centenial park to pump our tires and rack our bikes, walking through fields (I kid you not) of freshly mowed poison ivy on the way. An entire field of grass with all these sticklike vines poking up, upon closer inspection we determined mowed poison ivy...did they think they were doing us a favor by mowing? we parked our cars at the race and left them there. Great move, we had prime parking spots. We drove the bike course that we'd heard so much about. It looked scary but not as bad as I'd been imagining in my dreams each and every night.
We headed over to PF Chang's where I had made a reservation for diner. We washed our feet in the bathroom as best we could trying to get the poison ivy oil off of our skin. Then we ate dinner. ...surrounded by kids. And never did I think I'd wish to be home with my babies or God forbid wishing they were their at the restaurant with me screaming for attention.
Then we were off to the hotel for a tormented night of sleep. Let me just say, I hate hotels. Didn't get much sleep AT ALL. I missed the kids and Mr. Preschool so much, was nervous about the race and kept waking up in a panic.
In the morning, we left our room at 4:55 a.m. and headed over to the racesite. It was too dark to see anything and I couldn't figure out how we were supposed to set up transition in the dark. Some people had flashlights, but somehow that seemed silly. The transition area was slightly lit. So, we set up transition. Luckily 3 girls in a row next to me didn't show up so I had enough room to spread out. I met some new friends. One of whom had done Ironman Wisconsin. I have to say it frightened me even more when she said the hills on the IronGirl course were very difficult. I know IW has some of the toughest hills in the nation, so when she said that I just sort of lost it, just a little.
Teamate Randi used her expertise as a yoga instructor to walk us through some relaxation techniques, but I couldn't really focus. I was all nerves. I just wanted to get into my own space.
Vigo, the race director, didn't close the transition area, like I'm used to. This was great for me because when I leave transition I leave my glasses in my helmet and I don't see them again until after the swim. My prescription goggles help a bit, but they get so foggy, and I feel like such a dork walking around with dry hair and goggles on my face.
I have to say someone gave me some advise to just smile and enjoy the whole race....and smile all the time even for the whole swim. I kept thinking about smiling the whole way, and it definately made for an interesting swim, because I couldn't stop smiling. And trying not to swollow water while you are smiling underwater, only makes you want to laugh.
Actually, for me, the swim rocked. I took my time, did some side stroke, tried to encourage those caps who were misplaced and leftover from 1 and 2 heats before....and still came in 11th out of 40 Athena. Actually, I had trouble believing the swim was over, it seemed too short.
I walked for a few steps then ran to T1. Although we had been told there would be a hose or water dip for our feet, there was none. In my haste, I put my socks over muddy grassy feat which caused blisters later on.
Glasses on, whew, what a relief. And then running in bike shoes with my bike up the steepest hill to mount my bike. Four peddle strokes out I see the girl frantically changing a flat. It went through my mind that she was doing it wrong and then I let that though fade because I needed to focus on my race. My mind was playing tricks on me, I think in fear I was looking for a reason to stop. Out on the main road I was passing cyclist, bam, bam, bam. There were so many of us they couldn't possibly be enforcing the drafting rule. I must have passed 30 women when I noticed her. She was drafting on me turn after turn. I pulled to the right for her to pass and she pulled in behind me -- she sat on my tail. I could bite my tounge no longer. "How's the draft back there?" I tossed the words over my shoulder. She mumbled something about it not helping anyway and I never saw here again.
Now a big concern for me was making sure I made it up each and everyone of those huge hills on the bike without stopping. I suceeded -- sort of.
At the top of one of the largest hills was a crazy black border colly-like mutt who lived right there, his territorhttp://www.throughth3wall.com/2006/08/that-ironman-teacher.htmly right on the path to IronGirl. He was barking like mad. Confused as to why 1,850 women invaders had come to disrupt his lazy morning. But to me, who had no family cheering for me, he was my cheerleader, and he was strategically placed just near the crest of the hill.
On the third of four large hills (the Glenelg Hill) I was downshifting and "pop," my chain came off. Now I've seen quite a few chains do this in my riding, but it had never happend to me. As soon as I stopped (luckly finding that in the excitement my left cleat had already unclipped itself) two girls ran up to me. "Chain problems?" they said, like they were mechanics waiting in the pit stop. "Yes!" I said. I had already tried stroking the pedal one time, with no luck, the chain was mangled and twisted. I was greatly relieved to have help, but these girls looked 10 years old! I'm so ashamed, I asked there mom if she knew anything about bikes, right in front of them. "We'll they're pretty much the experts" she said. And so, with a sigh, I let go and let them have a jab at it. And a minute later, it was fixed. "Can you write down your name and address, so I can write you a thank you note?" I said, not sure where these absurd words were coming from. Tear were almost in my eyes, I was just so moved by the experience. No need for a thank you note they said, but there names were Emma and Greer. "Are you triathletes?" I said. "No, but our teacher is" said Emma, and at that point I couldn't help but stop and think of Iron Wil, representing all of the Ironman Teachers in the world.
I walked up the hill a bit so I could mount my bike without falling because of the steepness of the incline. The whold ordeal set me back about 7-10 minutes, I figure. And grateful, I continued on my journey.
I continued passing folks, but not as often after that. My gears just weren't right exactly. I was just hoping to coast home. My gears just kept slipping.
I watched the woman about 20 yards in front of me crash. I was so happy to have experience to know exactly what to do, "Do you need help?" I yelled from my bike as I slowed down, for her to think. "No," she said, still stuck under her bike. Twenty feet down the road from her was a man, just sitting bored-looking. I asked him to help her.
And then I was back at T2, running my bike down the steep, grassy but muddy hill. Puting on my race belt for the run. Here I should mention that the main reason I did this race as opposed to Naylors is that it had a 5K tacked on the end rather than a 10K. But let me just say, I am not the only one who was wishing they signed up for the flat Naylor's run rather than this one! It was brutal. All up hill if that is possible. And Vigo, the race director, who said it was a 5K, finally acknowledged it was a 3.3 mile run and then changed that to a 3.4 mile run. Regardless, it was way too long and way too hilly.
And then it happend. I was trotting along at my usually slow pace when I saw this woman, pass me on the right, How strange, usually you pass on the left. She was running in the grass along the path carying ......flip flops?
"Oh My God!" I said, not even able to sensor my reaction. She was running bearfoot.
"Yeah, I forgot my shoes" she yelled back. And for the next 5 minutes she was in earshot, I was shouting like crazy, "You are a gazzelle!" You are one of those African runners who doesn't like shoes! and "Shoes would just slow you down anyway!" Man, what an inspiration.
Speaking of which, I have to say, I expected that this race would have alot more encouragement between athletes. I mean we are all women right? I so thought it would be a much more supportive environment than the local co-ed races I've been in. And then I realized why there weren't too many folks out there encouraging me. Actually, I think only 2 other athletes shouted encouragement the whole day. It was because I have gone from being the encouraged to being the encourager. I am now the more experienced athlete who understands the importance of encouraging others. And with ove 50 percent first time triathletes racing, they just needed encouragement and couldn't give any.
Although there were 1,850 athletes racing, It turns out that 500 some didn't finish. I hope it wasn't because they didn't get enough encouragement from there fellow athletes. But, I have to say I feel really bad for them. If they were first time triathletes, they might not attempt another. This was by far my most challenging race, I hope they know there are easier ones. Anyone who races puts so much of themselves into the race that a Did Not Finish has got to hurt.
My goal for this race was to be steady and strong and have fun. Not to go crazy trying to make a time, but to enjoy the race, and finish strong. I walked almost every hill on the run, and I was feeling kinda sad about that, but as I came down the home strech I saw an A (for Athena, my racing catagory, 150 lbs +) on the back of a woman's leg. I sprinted past her to the finish and beat her by several seconds. Definately a strong finish. They put a medal around my neck, and I walked up one more hill for a massage. Next time I'll bring the kids and Mr. Preschool, even if it adds more stress and work, I think the work will be worth it.

Getting Results....

Ok, first the results...then the race report.
I came in 24th out of 40 Athena athletes under 40.
Overall, I came in 918 out of over 1,850 women competing.

I was 11th out of 40 Athenas in the swim, with a time of 20:00
T1 20 3:41
I was 25th out of 40 Athenas on the bike with a time of 1:12:23 14.5 (mph average, but on a very tough course, even the top Athena placers averaged 15-17 mph)
T2 34 2:51
33 place out of 40 Athenas on the run with a time of 45:49 !!!! (OUCH!) 13:53 per mile
Total time was 2:24:41

Getting Results....

Ok, first the results...then the race report.
I came in 24th out of 40 Athena athletes under 40. (although this may change in my favor since swimers 1-2 have either no swim time or an impossible time, under 2 minutes.)
Overall, I came in 918 out of over 1,850 women competing.

I was 11th out of 40 Athenas in the swim, with a time of 20:00
T1 20 3:41
I was 25th out of 40 Athenas on the bike with a time of 1:12:23 14.5 (mph average, but on a very tough course, even the top Athena placers averaged 15-17 mph)
T2 34 2:51
33 place out of 40 Athenas on the run with a time of 45:49 !!!! (OUCH!) 13:53 per mile
Total time was 2:24:41

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Update on IronGirl Start Times

Swim start times are finally posted. I guess i'm in for a hot run. If only I was 35...I'd be starting right after the pros at, 7:08. Oh well, I'm sure 30 more minutes of standing around with nerves won't kill me.

7
07:40am
WOMEN: 20-24, Athena
NEON PINK

The Countdown

Five days until IronGirl. I'm trying to make doing my best at the race my sole focus, but at the same time I'm sure it will be a sleepless night, the night before. It will be the first night I've spent apart from Redfish ever and the first night I've spent apart from Daisyhead Maisy in over 3 years. Not to mention my husband, otherwise known as the wizzard of sleep. I've been waking up at 5 a.m. each day regardless of whether I have a workout, so getting up at 3:45 on raceday, hopefully won't be a shock. I'll have a 55 minute drive and need to get to IronGirl at 5 a.m.

I've really enjoyed my training. I feel like i'm as ready as I'll ever be. Saturday we rode 20 at Westcreek and ran 2. Sunday I did the ACAC/Richmond Tri Winterpock hill to build back my confidence after that tough Naylor's ride. The Winterpock hill is about a 300 foot climb over maybe 2 miles. The IronGirl climb from what I can tell will be tougher. 500 feet up, broken into a 200 foot climb and then a 300 foot climb. Maybe I should have done it twice, back to back.

I'm not sure if this is common, but I keep wavering between wanting to just finish the race and feeling like there is some small hope that I'll place in Athena. This is the first race I've done with an Athena catagory, so I'm not really sure what the competition will be.
After looking at IronWil's body stats, and realizing that this superfit and major muscle chic could qualify for Athena (despite the fact that she is 5' 5 1/2) if she just ate a box of doughnuts, (she is 2 pounds to light to make the 150 lb Athena category) I'm not so sure.

Regardless, my goal is to take it one event at a time. To feel strong and confident and enjoy the race.

Mr. Preschool let me change his flat yesterday, as a refresher, so I should be ready for any flat I might get. With 1600 women racing, and Vigo as the race director, it is sure to be an inspiring, fun event regardless of my results.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Naylor's Beach

So, we did the Naylor's Beach practice ride and swim yesterday. It was tough. I should have known I was in for trouble the when I realized the last thing Mr. Preschool said to me was "When you get back from your ride I need to replace the cleats on the shoes, they shoes keep poping out of the pedals on the hills." Hill number one, middle of the hill, shoe pops out, I lose my balance and fall. I'm lucky I didn't take anyone down with me. Hill number two. Pop you guessed it. Stopped on the hill. Hill three...i'm guessing I don't need to continue this story. That Naylor's ride bucked my confidence a bit. I'm just not sure how much of it was technical and how much of it was me.
i hope i'm ready for Irongirl. I've been putting in lots of hours training, but i'm getting burned out. I guess i'm ready to taper. 1 more week before i can though.
The team is going great. Some of those girls are so damn competative! The marathon chiquitas are making the rest of us look bad!
Still struggling to get the weight off (big surprise) I figure I've struggled with it for 28 years, I'm going to struggle for 28 more, at least. I'm not at my goal weight, but still on my way down, plus i've added lots of muscle.
After IronGirl and Sandman, I'll need a rest. So after 4 races this season, I'll be sitting out at the ACAC. I didn't really enjoy the wet, 35mph downhill at 6 am when it was still freezing cold out in the middle of October. I guess there is a reason the ACAC is the last triathlon on the east coast.

Friday, August 04, 2006

We're Going Where?

Finished 46 miles (new record) last Saturday. Man, it was getting hot, I was on my last loop at 40 when my coach said, hey follow me I want to show you something.....6 miles later we were back. Good thing I didn't know where we were going, I don't think I would have signed on for 6 more.
Tomorrow is the practice Naylor's Beach open water swim and bike. I'm nervous about the bike, I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow. Reward when I get back Richmond Tri Club picnic, free beer, more open water swims, wait, i'm taking the kids, this won't be relaxing at all. Have a kid leash I can borrow?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Race Report 3Sports Triathlon, Birthday race

Never thought I'd choose to do a triathlon on my birthday, but, check, done. Turning 33 was easy. The race was not easy, but it was fun.
Perfect weather for race day. It rained. But, I'm not kidding, it was great. It was about 80 degrees during the race which was super, for July 23rd. We were all wet anyway right?
Highlights were an overall personal record. PR on the bike, barely, PR on the run, barely. Here are the stats.
16th place out of 25 women age 30-34.
6th place swim: 5:43
T1 12 2:43
9th place bike 38:55
23 2:31 T2
23 place run 37:50
Total time 1:27:40

Kate ran in with me, as the announce sang a little happy birthday song, that was fun.
The other highlight was getting to hear Redfish sing Happy Birthday for the first time ever.

As Redfish keeps saying, "Happy (Birthday) Mama"

Saturday, July 15, 2006

40 Miles on the Bumble Bee

I know, it's been a really long time since I posted. My training is ramping up, getting more intense. Mr. Preschool went to San Diego for a week and was replaced with my mom! (That threw things out of whack!) And basically, I haven't had the time that I'd like to devote to this blog.
A week from tomorrow is my next race, the Shady Grove 3 Sports Triathlon. I'm ready. The main goal really for this race is to improve my time from the last race and break 35 minures on the 5K. The training is done. Either I'll do it or I won't.
Today we biked 40 miles. That is a new distance record for me. I have to say, It felt kind of rough getting off the bike. Sort of like when you've been on a ship for a week and then you try to walk on land. My legs didn't quite know what to do once they stopped going in circles. The workout took just over 2 hours. We averaged about 17 mph.
I'll have to get a photo up soon, but since all the cool triathlon chics name their bikes, I decided of course I had to name ours too. The bumble bee. May it buzz me up some hills!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Summer is Here

Man is it HOT outside. The heat index is at 100. But it is the humidity that gets you. I can't tell you how hot is was this morning at 6 a.m. when we were running, but I can say that I was dripping with sweat before the first mile. When I got home, after 4 miles and Mr. Preschool said I didn't have time for a shower, that just about ruined my day. Bless him for changing his mind and sending me upstairs to rinse off.
Today is Daisyhead Maisy's first day with no school. Change is in store for all of us. I'm used to droping her off at school and then running a few miles on the way to the pool with Redfish. Now, I'll have to get all my workouts in without kids, since I 86ed the double jogger (I can only deal with two whiney voices at a time when I'm running, mine and one kid.)
Daisyhead was such a mess yesterday. She couldn't stop obsessing over a plastic gem she had glued to her cubby and wouldn't come home until we dislodged it from what seemed like crazy glue. When we got home she went to her room and played with it for several hours. She came out complaining that she had a headache from concentraiting too hard on playing. Transitions have always been especially hard for her and leaving Pre-K is a big tranistion. Saying good-bye is always tough, but more so when you are 5. Her best friend from class won't be coming back to her school again, so I think she was really sad about that.
Saturday is a big workout day for us. Deposit day. Pay now, or pay later. 24 miles (mine will be reinforced with extra hills) and then run 3. Sunday we'll run 3, then swim for an hour, then go eat as a team and discuss our goals for the year.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Not Enough Time to Get Where I Want to Go

I still haven't signed up for a race. I don't know what it is. Maybe I know better than signing up for 2 races in 2 weeks. IronGirl is 8/27/06 in Columbia, MD. Sandman is 9-17-06 in Virginia Beach and is a personal goal for me to complete this race, ever since I had to give up on it back in 2002 when they delayed it due to the huricane and I couldn't make the make up date.
I'm just a novice, and just doing these for fun. But also, I know most of the triathletes designate A B and C races.
I guess 3Sports/Shady Grove on 7/23/06 (my birthday) is my C race
IronGirl is my A race (but I wish I had more time to train for it)
and Sandman is my B race, that I'm doing just cause I have to, for me.
But the schedule doesn't really make any sense. I'm fighting some demons, and I know me, I'm looking for an excuse.
Yesterday was a great workout, 22 miles on the bike and 1 mile running, but also, it was the kind of workout that made me realize how far I have to go. Up on the Capital One extention at West Creek, I bottomed out on the hill at 8.8 mph. I know if I'm going to do IronGirl it needs to be 11 mph, not 8. And, on the 1 mile run, I had to take a break and walk for a while after 1/2 mile. I want to/need to do the things that will make me prepared for the IronGirl race. I'm just scared, and worried that there is not enough time.
But you know what? This is a process. And completing the IronGirl can be a goal for this year, and getting a great time and running 3 miles straight after that extrememly challenging technical bike can be a goal for next year too.
Mr. Preschool was so sweet yesterday. He told me that I had inspired him to bike and get fit. I think he sensed that I really could use some encouragement. He said he had never been more fit in his life, and I helped him do it. He said that he never thought he could be the type who was really strong or physically fit at something. I'm so proud of him, now that he is. He has been biking to work every day. His 40 mile Father's Day ride today, makes my 22 look like a cakewalk. I guess that explains why he is crashed on the couch sleeping while I'm up writing this.
We both mentioned not having examples in our parents for physical fitness. And how much harder that made things for us as kids. Especially when it came time for the Presidential Fitness test, which wrecked havoc in our school years.
Redfish is inspired too. He got so excited on Friday when I pulled up at a light next to a cyclist, It made his entire day, when the guy pulled up his shades, turned around and said "hi" to him.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I Belong

Something that has really inspired me recently is reading this blog Run Big, by Nancy Toby. Not only did she just finish Eagleman, beating her old time by an hour, but she just has the greatest attitude. Each of us has our own struggles as a triathlete, and I guess I identify with her becuase some of her struggles are the same as mine.
Just before her race, she wrote an entry about preparing for her Half Ironman race. So, the thing that stuck me is that she says to herself, I belong. I Belong here. When you don't look like everyone else, and you don't feel like everyone else and maybe you're even here for a different reason, it is so, so important to remember, I belong here. Because really anyone who can and wants to do the race belongs.
But, when your whole team orders race jerseys that match, and you just can't buy one because it would never fit, then, you feel like you don't belong. To fit the largest size tri top that Sugoi offers, a large, I would have to have a 30-32 in waist and be a 34C or 36B. Maybe if i quit breastfeeding Redfish and loose 50 lbs. ....
There is nothing like that to make you feel like you don't belong even if maybe you were feeling pretty good because you sucked it up and woke up at 5 am to run 5 miles this morning. Even if you did have to get there 15 minutes early so that you could finish in the same time.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Choosing My Race

I've been thinking alot lately. Trying to decide where I want to go with this triathlon thing -- what i want from it. I guess it's not surprising that i still haven't figured it out. I have a friend who used to always say she'd never do an Ironman, or half Ironman or even an Olympic distance race becuase that was just to extreme for her. She wanted balance in her life, and training for a sprint triathlon was just right for her life. Even though she won 1st place in her age group, she was satisfied with that and nothing more.
Now me, I'm not competative like that -- meaning I'll never come in first, but I'm not sure that i'll be satisfied with sprint triathlons forever. Balance in my life? There is hardly any balance when you have a toddler. You can try your best and that is all you can do. Between training for a sprint and working part time and trying to be a good partner as a wife, balance happens somedays and it doesn't others. Training for a longer race might just mean a different kind of balance.
I thought I was going to try the Naylor's Beach Olympic distance Aquabike, even said it was made for me, but I don't like the idea of not running at all. Plus, I can't get any details on it. The race director won't email me back.
And ever since I found out about the Ryka IronGirl race I've been thinking now that will be one cool race. It is all women. God bless all 1,600 of them! that is 4 times as many folks as i've raced with before. And, it also sounds like a race created just for me because it is a longer than a sprint race. A long swim (1000 M), a long bike (30K) and a short run (5K). It is a premier race, attracting women from all over the U.S. and it is being put on by the same folks as Eagleman. Plus they are doing the same race in several cities all across the U.S., it's creating a buzz.
So, I'm supposed to decide by today. Naylor's price increase is tomorrow. This is really hard...most of my team is doing Naylor's, but I know from friends that it is not the best run race. Paritcipants told me that last year the swim was almost twice as long as it was supposed to be., when you are looking at your watch and freaking out becuase you've never swum that slow in all your life, you'll be panicing to say the least. Several friends will be racing at IronGirl, but I'll have to drive out of town (Columbia, Md.) and stay with my in-laws if i do it. Both races are the same exact day August 27, 2006.
You know what, it is great to only have this question as a concern tonight. Redfish had been so sick yesterday and last night with a fever of 104 degrees, I didn't even get to work out. Or stop worrying about him for 5 minutes. Or sleep for longer than 45 minutes at a stretch for that matter.
I guess it doesn't really matter at all.

Choosing My Race

I've been thinking alot lately. Trying to decide where I want to go with this triathlon thing -- what i want from it. I guess it's not surprising that i still haven't figured it out. I have a friend who used to always say she'd never do an Ironman, or half Ironman or even an Olympic distance race becuase that was just to extreme for her. She wanted balance in her life, and training for a sprint triathlon was just right for her life. Even though she won 1st place in her age group, she was satisfied with that and nothing more.
Now me, I'm not competative like that -- meaning I'll never come in first, but I'm not sure that i'll be satisfied with sprint triathlons forever. Balance in my life? There is hardly any balance when you have a toddler. You can try your best and that is all you can do. Between training for a sprint and working part time and trying to be a good partner as a wife, balance happens somedays and it doesn't others. Training for a longer race might just mean a different kind of balance.
I thought I was going to try the Naylor's Beach Olympic distance Aquabike, even said it was made for me, but I don't like the idea of not running at all. Plus, I can't get any details on it. The race director won't email me back.
And ever since I found out about the Ryka IronGirl race I've been thinking now that will be one cool race. It is all women. God bless all 1,600 of them! that is 4 times as many folks as i've raced with before. And, it also sounds like a race created just for me because it is a longer than a sprint race. A long swim (1000 M), a long bike (30K) and a short run (5K). It is a premier race, attracting women from all over the U.S. and it is being put on by the same folks as Eagleman. Plus they are doing the same race in several cities all across the U.S., it's creating a buzz.
So, I'm supposed to decide by today. Naylor's price increase is tomorrow. This is really hard...most of my team is doing Naylor's, but I know from friends that it is not the best run race. Paritcipants told me that last year the swim was almost twice as long as it was supposed to be., when you are looking at your watch and freaking out becuase you've never swum that slow in all your life, you'll be panicing to say the least. Several friends will be racing at IronGirl, but I'll have to drive out of town (Columbia, Md.) and stay with my in-laws if i do it. Both races are the same exact day August 27, 2006.
You know what, it is great to only have this question as a concern tonight. Redfish had been so sick yesterday and last night with a fever of 104 degrees, I didn't even get to work out. Or stop worrying about him for 5 minutes. Or sleep for longer than 45 minutes at a stretch for that matter.
I guess it doesn't really matter at all.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Chaos

This morning was total chaos.
Maybe that is what made me run upstair and change into my running clothes on my way out the door. Yes it added to the chaos temporarily, but gave me a release in the end.
Redfish, bless him, let me run. I drove Mr. Preschool's SUV to the Vita Course because the giant jogging stroller won't fit in my subcompact. It was a beautiful day, but I still couldn't believe how many folks were out walking. There were groups of 60- and 70-year-old African American men walking 8 across. A woman, who looked to be in her late 50's with an oxygen tank and a walker.

Redfish ate animal crackers. I ran. Redfish ate Letter Cookies. I ran. Redfish drank juice. I ran. He was done after 2 miles. But I wasn't going to let that be it. I had an idea to run the next 1/2 mile, go over to the park at the Carilon and let him play then run back and finish my last 1/2 mile. Only one problem, OK, two problems. I forgot his shoes and I forgot my water.
So, I let him play barefoot. And I had his last swig of backwashed warm juice as my water.
When we got to the playground the SEAL Team was jumping in and out of the fenced play area. I watched in amazement. One of the women said, you know you want to do it, go ahead. Most of them had gloves on to keep from tearing their flesh on any loose wire fragments of the fence top fringe.
Yeah, she was right, I wanted to do it. So, I did. It was fun. But Redfish loved it! Loved watching Mama jump. He cheered me on. He tried to climb the fence. He was so excited I did it 5 more times just for him. Each time was harder though, and by number 8, I was done. Now my knees are kiling me. What was I thinking? So much for the Seal team. I think I'll stick with triathlons.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

One Stroke at a Time

I'm feeling really good. I showed up for the Richmond Tri Club coached swim this morning at the ACAC on Southside. I was pretty nervous, since i'd only been once before and it is always a killer work out. We did 3300 meters (just over 2 miles) total -- the main set was 5 X 400.

Since we were swiming in a 50 meter pool, that was alot less flip turns, alot less rest.
I just wish I hadn't whined so much when he announced our main set. I was visibly freaked when he told us we were to do them on the 8 and if we did we'd earn 60 seconds rest before the next one. The first one came in at 8:29, which was fine with me. I got to rest for 31 seconds and then kick out another 400 meters. Only problem was we kept getting a few seconds slower and by the time we were on no. 4, we had like 5 seconds rest before we started the last one.
But, I did it. And, it felt good. Yes, it was hard, but it will be easier next time.
And, maybe next time I'll have the courage to go on the 30 mile bike ride that follows.
One step at a time. One stroke at a time. I'm starting to get the hang of this. The more I do, the more I want to do. Maybe that is how we ended up with an Ironman.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Visitation

Going to Margie's visitation was really strange. It was like stepping back in time 10 years, when I used to work at Style. No one really looked like they had aged, everyone looked the same even though I hadn't seen them in 10 years. Only one person looked different, and she was 4 the last time I saw her.
I felt bad I couldn't stay for the funeral, since I only had someone watching Redfish for 30 minutes, but seeing that it was standing room only made me feel like I made the right decision. I wasn't close to Margie and there were so many people who were. Just being there was really moving, especially seeing all those folks who had only one thing in common -- that they loved her.
When I go, if people come together to remember me....make sure it is outside near nature. I've never been an inside kind of person.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Yesterday I found out that a friend of mine died. Margie Robinson-Jeter was one of the reasons I loved to work at Style Weekly. She was always positive. Always nice. And so grounded.
I left Style in 1996 but since we lived only a block from each other, I'd see her quite often, even after I left Style. The last time I saw her was just a couple months ago. We ran into each other at Target, but we talked for almost 10 minutes, catching up. She was so sweet. Kept saying how beautiful my kids were. Talked to me about how things were at Style, 10 years after I left.
Margie was only 41 and her kids are not much older than Daisyhead Maisy. This has been a rough year.
I'm going to her visitation in a few minutes. I hope that I can tell her husband something that gives him comfort, but what can you really say to a man who lost the love of his life?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Can I Still Say it was a Good Race, Eventhough I got Passed by a Pregnant Lady?

Redfish's bedtime is 6:30 p.m. It is 8:30 and he is still awake. He has been nursing for the past 2 hours. I feel like I'm doing the Ironman Nurse-a-baby. He's a leech.
But, today was my race, and he hasn't seen much of me today. I guess he's playing catch up.
I woke up at 4:19, anxious to get ready for my race, but decided that was a little too early. Went back to sleep just long enough to be woken by my alarm at 5. Tried to eat breakfast, but felt nausiated when I did. Just plain too early to eat.
Got to the race early enough to grab a spot in the parking lot. Forgot to drink my coffee. Set up my transition area, pumped a bunch of tires for teamates. Went back to the car to drink my coffee. Set off the car alarm --(no nerves here!) Checked my stuff in the transition area again. Good thing I did because folks kept coming and moving other folks bikes around -- that is so uncool. Went back to the car to drop off my extra stuff and the pump. Then took the leap of faith. I left my glasses in the transition area. Put my prescription goggles on (yes i looked like a nerd) and walked over to the pool area for the pre-race meeting.
Before the race started, I snuck into the bathroom one last time. The chick next to me was screaming, "where are my clothes? what did I do with my clothes?" Apparently she was going to change in the bathroom and left her clothes in the transition area, which was now closed. I told her to calm down, that we were all here for fun, that they would let her back in the transition area...Those words had just fallen from my lips when my goggle/glasses broke. I had to take some of my own advice as I tried to surpress the adrenaline and just fix them. My hands were shaking so much. I was worried I'd miss my swim start. I thought I was going to throw up.
Then, the race started. Things were Okay. I tried to do the flip turn under the lane line thing, but it just seemed so inefficient. Anyway, my swim time was only 5 seconds over my prediction, so I can't complain. Running with my goggles as glasses proved to be ok. I think I ran a little slow, because of my barefeet and not being able to see each rock I was stepping on, but that doesn't explain the 4-minute transition time. As I was running up on my bike rack I watched from 10 feet away as the guy next to me (who arrived late and squeezed his bike in where there wasn't really room) knocked over my bike, my helmet and my glasses came crashing down. "Nooooooooo!" I could hear myself yell, not that it did much good. I'm so used to not being able to even find my glasses when they fall, that I asked him to help me find them. Changing shirts was a really bad idea. I guess alot of things contributed to that really slow transition time.
The bike was great. Can I still say that eventhough I got passed by a pregnant lady? I passed her. She passed me. I passed her. She passed me. Then, she was gone. She beat me on the run too. I know, triathlon is an individual sport, but when you get passed by a prenant lady or a 12-year-old tells you "you can do it" as he flys by you up a hill, you have to stop and wonder.
My goal for the run was to get 37 minutes and something. Mr. Preschool just got me an Ironman 30 split/lap watch for Mother's Day. I thought I was so cool, timing my own splits. But it really made me worry when I wasn't keeping pace and I couldn't figure out how I could be going so slow. That's when I realized that they didn't place the water station at the 1 mile mark like they were supposed to. I think they must have put it about 1/2 a mile out from the start of the run. I was so worried I was going to miss my goal, and then, there I was sprinting to the finish line. I stoped my watch as I crossed: 37.28.68. I made my goal!
Am I allowed to be depressed all day and actually feel bad about this race becuase when my official time came up my run was 38.04? And, I felt like I hadn't pushed myself hard enough. I wasn't exhausted. I guess I'll just have to live and learn. It's only the first of 4 races this season.
Here are my stats. I came in 21st out of 24 females in my age group.

Place for swim 9 Time 6:02
Place for T1 23 Time 4:07
Place for Bike 5 Time 39:14 Average MPH 19.0
Place for Swim/Bike and T1 9 Time 49:22
Place for T2 24 Time 1:46
Place for Run 24 Time 38:04 Average MPH 12:16
Total Race Time 1:29:10

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I can't get away from it.....

When I'm running I still think about it. When I'm biking. When I swim. When I sleep. When I dream. Any time my mind is quiet. And now when I read the newspaper or watch TV, i'm reminded yet again.
I'm like a week behind reading the newspaper, but yesterday, in one of those old newspapers I read about how "Law & Order" used the plot line of the Harvey's murder for a show earlier this month. How tasteless. How upsetting.
It's not like we need to be reminded. I think most of us who knew the Harvey's, even casually, don't go a day without thinking about them.
Back in January when it happened, I kept thinking that eventually I'd be able to get over it, maybe even put it out of my mind. Now I know I'll never get over it.
How much of Richmond has lost their innocence forever?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Triathlonmom Comes Full Circle

The thing I love about Richmond is how everything always comes back to you. Things come full circle and things fall into place. It is a small enough community that most of the good-spirited folks seem to know each other somehow. And you never know when some good that you've done might come back to you in some other way.

Back during my first season with Triathlonmoms, we always would raise money for a great philanthropic cause. Kim Kredich, our fearless leader, has always been involved in advocacy for kids with special needs, and so that year, we raise money for Katie and Friends Playground. It would be the first playground of its kind: for kids who needed help walking, who had autism, who were in wheelchairs, and for kids with no special needs at all. It would be a place where they could all play together, without limitations and barriers. And, it was expensive to build.
As part of our fundraising efforts, we could donate money and get a tile that would be installed on the playground, and we could decorate it anyway we chose. For our family tile, we had Daisyhead Maisy place her handprints. She was only 2 so we could fit both hands, and we wrote her name.
The only thing was, when I went to the playground after the grand opening, there were plenty of tiles, but not ours. For months, I kept checking the tile towers, and not a one from Triathlonmoms was there. It was disapointing. But, I was so happy with the cause and the playground, I soon forgot.
This year, our team is renting poolspace for our Sunday swim, not far from the Katie and Friends Playground. It fact, we run on a gravel path from the pool over to the trails by the park for our 3 mile run before we swim. Most Sunday nights it is packed with kids and parents winding up their weekend. Filled with huge families, barbequeing or holding birthday parties. Last night, as I was running down the gravel path through the trees I noticed something new. There were 3 new towers on the playground. They were filled with tiles! I cut through the forest off the path, straight to the towers. I searched the first one with no luck. On the second one, a name caught my eye. Right above a smeary blob of blue was "Scout." Then I remembered -- Kim's dog, Scout.
I was so excited I ran around the metal fence of the park to the entrance to get closer to the tiles. I must have looked so strange racing through the playground, dodging kids to get to the towers, that were still roped of with caution tape becuase they hadn't yet been grouted.
I started at the top....Tish, Nate, Hugh....moved to Tennesse later that year. God I miss them. ...Oliver, Finn, Anne....Kim and Matt, Matt's giant hand overlapping Kim's....Ben, Miles, Coleman...Rachel and Theo. the names kept coming. It was like a time capsule of that summer that changed my life. The summer I discovered triathlons. Discovered that I could do something hard if I put my mind to it. That summer I discovered a whole team of amazing, inspiring women, all moms, dedicated to helping each other discover just how strong they are.
Then, at the very bottom, I saw Daisyhead Maisy's hands. So small and carefully placed.
It had been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait.
Running back to the pool, didn't seem so hard. That first summer raced through my head. The summer that set me free and taught me balance. My mind was filled with memories, and didn't have much room left to think about tired legs. That summer I learned that sometimes the best thing you can do for your family (and 2-year-old who is screaming "mama, mama don't go") is walk out that door. And come back after you've done just one thing for yourself.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Wild and Windy Day

I had so been looking forward to this day. And I guess I can't complain.
I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered that the swim at the ACAC tomorrow was cancelled. Actually, I was already awake, nursing RedFish. It was 2:30 a.m. and he kept waking up. I think he is working on his bottom eye teeth. I was happy to realize that I could sleep in without feeling guilty. And VERY happy that I didn't have to get my butt out of bed, drive to Southside and then realize that I was awake at an ungodly hour, in my swimsuit for no reason.

We met at 8 for a tire changing clinic, and then rode 18 very windy miles. When I came home I was complaining to Mr. Preschool about how the 1 mile run after sucked and about how I thought it was supposed to get easier. He kindly reminded me that it was only a week or two ago that I was proclaiming that it finally had gotten easier. I guess no two days are the same.
Maybe it was the wind? I had never ridden in wind like that, I was being blown all over the place. Anyway, at least now I'm prepared if it is windy on race day.

Seven days till the race. I know I'll be ready, but I have to remember that this is the first race of the season and I'll have more time to train. My goal for the July 23 3Sports race is to be able to run the entire 3.2 miles with no stopping, in under 35 minutes. For this race, i'd jump for joy at 37...something.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

National Folk Festival Line-up Announced

The National Folk Festival has announced its first eight performers. The line up looks amazing.
I just wish I could figure out a way to see them all! The festival is Oct 13-15 on Brown's Island and Tredegar. For more info go to their web site.

Here is the line up:
Chuck BrownInventor of “go-go” music
Affectionately known as the “Godfather of Go-Go,” Chuck Brown pioneered a musical blend of Latin beats, African call-and-response chants, rhythm and blues, and jazz that has been identified with Washington, D.C. for more than 40 years. Go-go in this case is not the popular music of the 1960s that inspired a dance and fashion craze, but rather a dance music and social scene deeply rooted in our nation’s capital. Likening Chuck Brown to another musical pioneer, Bill Monroe, ethnomusicologist Kip Lornell says that Brown “remains among the few 20th-century American vernacular musicians who clearly developed and shaped a musical genre from its infancy to a more mature state.”
Brown was born in North Carolina, but his parents moved to the District of Columbia when he was seven. He grew up listening to jazz and blues and took up playing the guitar. In the early 1960s, he began performing with a Latin-inflected pop band called Los Latinos. Brown eventually broke away to pursue his own artistic path and formed a group called the Soul Searchers. In 1971, they recorded “We the People,” said by many to be the first recording with the distinctive go-go sound. Brown’s 1978 album Bustin’ Loose with the #1 hit single of the same name spread this regional music to a national audience.
Go-go, as played by Chuck Brown, is quintessentially a spontaneous, live performance experience. Over several hours on stage in a crowded dance club the beat never stops. The interaction between Brown and his audience is an integral part of the performance, with call and response repartee between each song. The song may go on for five minutes or may be just a verse or two, depending on Brown’s whim.
Today, this sound is heard in clubs and dance halls, as well as on the playgrounds and street corners, of the nation’s capital. The music has a large international following and Brown spends much time touring Europe and Asia. In 2000, go-go music was featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and Brown was presented with the District of Columbia’s Mayor’s Arts Award for his pioneering contributions to the music of the city. Last year Brown was honored with a National Heritage Fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Arts for his contribution to African American vernacular music.
Top Back to Performers
Kenny & Amanda Smith BandContemporary bluegrass
The Kenny & Amanda Smith Band combine tight harmony singing with brilliant instrumentation and compelling repertoire to forge one of the most exciting sounds in bluegrass today. The musical and romantic connection between its namesakes led to the band’s creation five years ago, followed by a rapid ascent to the first ranks of bluegrass music.
Kenny Smith, originally from Nine Mile, Indiana, is widely considered to be one of the finest flatpickers of his generation. A winner of numerous guitar contests, and two-time International Bluegrass Music Association Guitarist of the Year award winner, Kenny spent six years in the 1990s with the acclaimed Lonesome River Band after a two-year stint with Claire Lynch and the Front Porch String Band. In 1997 Kenny recorded a solo album, Studebaker, which showcased his songwriting talent and his wife’s soulful singing
Amanda was born in the small town of Davisville, West Virginia, and grew up singing in church choirs and talent contests at local fairs. She began playing guitar in high school and was attracted to bluegrass through female artists such as Alison Krauss, Claire Lynch and Rhonda Vincent. She met Kenny in 1995 at a Lonesome River Band concert and the two began playing music together shortly after that. At this point Amanda already had two solo CDs to her credit.
In 2001 Kenny and Amanda gathered some of their favorite musicians together and recorded their first CD, Slowly but Surely, which surged up the bluegrass charts on the strength of the hit song, “Amy Brown.” Two short years later the band won the IBMA’s prestigious Emerging artist of the Year award, and a second CD on the Rebel label, Always Never Enough, has cemented their reputation as one of the most exciting new bands in the genre.
In addition to Kenny and Amanda, the band features the fluid mandolin playing of Jason Robertson, from Giles County, Virginia. Robertson, who met Kenny at the world famous Galax Fiddlers’ Convention in southwestern Virginia, grew up surrounded by family members who played. The newest member of the group is 17-year-old banjo player Jason Davis from Ford, Virginia, an astonishing young talent.
Kenny and Amanda now make their home in Meadows of Dan, Virginia.
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Le Vent du NordQuebecois music, song and dance
Le Vent du Nord is recognized as one of the best traditional Quebecois music ensembles performing today. The group consists of step dancer and accordionist Benoit Borque, pianist and vocalist Nicolas Boulerice, fiddler Olivier Demers, and guitarist Simon Beaudry.
For more than three centuries the songs, tunes and dances brought to New France (Canada) by French immigrants in the 17th and 18th centuries have been passed down in the towns and villages of Quebec province at soirees and other family and community gatherings. When Canada became a British colony in 1763, these traditions were preserved in relative isolation in French-speaking communities throughout Quebec. While the songs and stories were passed down in the mother tongue, the tunes and dances were eventually somewhat influenced by the music of their Irish and Scots neighbors, evolving into a distinctive French Canadian body of music. Members of Le Vent du Nord recall the spirit and energy of this venerable tradition in every show by performing the old tunes and traditional chanson a respondre (call and response songs) that they learned from their families.
Benoit Borque, one of Canada’s finest step dancers, has been representing traditional Quebecois culture for over twenty years, through his step dancing, singing and story telling, and instrumental performances. Borque is a founding member of famed ensembles Eritage and Matapat, and is a former member of Ad Veille Que Pourra. Nicolas Boulerice grew up singing the family songs collected by his father. His passion for traditional music led him to travel and perform throughout Quebec and later to France and Ireland where he learned to play and make a European stringed instrument known as the hurdy gurdy (or in French, vielle à roue — “wheel fiddle”). Olivier Demers is an accomplished violin player trained in classical and traditional music who had toured with a number of groups including La Bottine Souriante, Montcorbier, and with Senegalese artist Musa Dieng Kala. Simon Beaudry was born in Saint-Côme, in the Lanaudière region of Québec that is recognized for the richness of its traditional songs and musical heritage. At 12 years old, Simon started to play the guitar and sing traditional Quebecois repertoire with his father and brothers.
In 2004, Le Vent du Nord won a JUNO award for Roots and Traditional Album of the Year/Group. They were also nominees for the 2004 FELIX Award for Traditional Album of the Year and the 2004 OPUS Award for Concert of the Year/Jazz and World Music.
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Mahotella QueensSouth African mbaqanga
Together for over 40 years, the Mahotella Queens are the most famous performers of the urban South African music known as mbaqanga. In the early ‘60s, the Queens - Hilda Tloubatla, Mildred Mangxola, and Nobesethu Mbadu - joined forces with the legendary Simon Nkabindé Mahlathini (the “Lion of Soweto”) and the Makgona Tsothle Band to create mbaqanga, a fusion of traditional South African tribal musics with marabi (a South African jazz form), blues, soul, and gospel.
"Mbaqanga" is the Zulu word for a kind of dumpling, implying the homemade quality of the music’s origin. It grew out of earlier styles that were the lifeblood of South Africa’s illegal township shebeens and dancehalls in the first half of the twentieth century. South African tribal musics, Zulu, Sotho, Shangaan and Xhosa, among others, were a vital part of the mix, along with pennywhistle kwela, sax jive, African choral music, and most notably, marabi. Marabi was a kind of African ragtime featuring piano, pennywhistle, banjo and drums with singers improvising staccato lines steeped in Zulu tradition.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens played beer halls and township dances in South Africa. Their original sound came to be dubbed the “indestructible beat of Soweto”, and their solid four-to-the-floor dance rhythm and soaring vocal harmonies came to embody the spirit of the oppressed peoples of the townships. They took a break in the mid-‘70s to raise families, but reunited with Malathini to tour in 1987 and took audiences in Europe and the U.S. by storm. Following the tragic death of Mahlathini and the dissolution of the Makagona Tsothle Band in 1999, the Mahotella Queens rallied and reinvented themselves, and are back in full swing with a national tour and a new CD titled Sebai Bai. In 2000, they received the second annual WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo) Award, presented for outstanding contribution to world music. At the award ceremony, it was said that “the Mahotella Queens represent so much of what is the best in the music of South Africa: the finely honed art of passionate singing, the latticework of funky rhythms, and the breathtaking art of spectacular live performance.”
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The Quebe Sisters BandTexas fiddling
Three lovely, talented young fiddling sisters from Burleson, Texas are creating quite a stir. The Quebe sisters, Grace, Sophia, and Hulda, play and sing western swing, vintage country and traditional Texas fiddle tunes often in three-part harmony. Before any of them reached their teens, the sisters went to a fiddle contest near their hometown and fell in love with music. "I don't know why we do it," Grace says. "No one ever made us play together. And we all started at the same time so we're all at the same level." Now they are dedicated to playing the fiddle and learning about old-time music.
The Quebe sisters have all been Texas State Champion fiddlers, and each has won titles at the National Old-Time Fiddlers Contest in Weiser, Idaho Hulda won the title of National Junior-Junior Champion, and Grace and Sophia took first and second place, respectively, in the National Junior Championships.
Red Steagall was quoted in the Fort Worth Star Telegram as saying, "I think they're some of the most talented young people I've ever heard. Their tone is so true--they play so well together . . . People just stand around in awe when they play." The highlight of the girls' young careers to date was being invited by Nashville star Ricky Skaggs to perform as his guests at the 78th birthday celebration of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN. They also were showcased several times on WSM Radio in Nashville, as well as performing on the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree.
Besides the Grand Ole Opry, the Quebe Sisters Band has performed at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth before the Duchess of York, on T-Bone Burnett's Great High Mountain Tour with Alison Krauss, at the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and opened for Ray Price and for Riders in the Sky. Recently the sisters recorded their first CD, titled Texas Fiddlers. The sisters are accompanied on guitar by their accomplished fiddle teachers, Joey and Sherry McKenzie, and by bass player Mark Abbott.
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Santiago Jiménez, Jr.Conjunto tejano
Santiago Jiménez, Jr. from San Antonio, Texas, is a singer, accordion virtuoso and bandleader of the first rank. He is one of the major figures in conjunto, a unique American regional music born in the valley of the Rio Grande along the Texas-Mexican border. A member of one of the “first families” of conjunto music, he is heir to a rich family tradition of button accordion playing. His grandfather Patricio Jiménez played the accordion, and his father, Santiago, Sr. became one of the seminal figures in the rise of the conjunto, virtually inventing the conjunto instrumental style, and was one of the first to make phonograph recordings, and appear on the radio in the 1930s. Santiago, Jr.'s older brother, tejano accordionist Leonardo "Flaco" Jiménez, has become well known through his performances with country and western stars and popular music crossover groups.
Santiago Jiménez, Jr. has long preferred to model himself more closely on his father's lively melodic style, a style that is identified with the roots of the tradition. Conjunto (literally “group” in Spanish) is a lively dance music that began to develop in the late 19th century when German, Czech, and Polish immigrants introduced the button accordion into Mexican working class communities in southern Texas. By the early 1930s, the modern conjunto style emerged as a boisterous and distinctive Tex-Mex fusion that revolved around the sounds of the accordion and the bajo sexto, a 12-stringed guitar-like instrument that added a bass rhythm. Bass and drums were added later.
Santiago made his first recording in 1958 at the age of seventeen, with his brother Flaco, entitled El Príncipe y el Rey del Acordeón (The Prince and the King of the Accordion). Since then, he has made over sixty recordings. Santiago Jiménez has toured widely throughout the United States and to Europe and the Americas -- including Russia, Great Britain, Spain, France, and Mexico.
In the contemporary world of tejano music, Santiago Jiménez, Jr. is seen as a standard bearer of deep conjunto tradition, a lively performer, and a man of great humor and wit. He has been honored with two Grammy nominations and was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2000 for his contributions to the tradition of conjunto music.
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The SkatalitesJamaican ska
The members of the Skatalites are living legends of Jamaican music, founding fathers of the modern Jamaican sound. Four decades ago the group virtually invented ska, the upbeat dance music that spawned rock steady and reggae, and inspired three waves of British and American ska revivalists. A triumphal 1983 reunion performance at the Reggae Sunsplash festival led the group to reform themselves on a permanent basis in 1986. For nearly twenty years, the modern incarnation of this legendary band has brought classic ska to audiences around the world. Billboard has called the group ". . . Jamaica’s supreme instrumental band,” and Rolling Stone’s description is: “The Skatalites – Jamaica’s answer to the Motown house band and Booker T. and the MG’s combined.”
The ska style began to emerge in the mid-1950s along with Jamaica’s fledgling recording industry. The Skatalites were a group of Jamaica’s top session musicians who had played together in various groupings for years, both on the resort circuit and in the studio. While not really setting out to do so, their fusion of mento (a Jamaican folk style with similarities to calypso), New Orleans R&B, jazz, jump blues and Afro-Cuban rhythms created ska, the first uniquely Jamaican popular music. Characterized by jazzy solos over a galloping rhythm section, ska featured lots of horns (saxophones, trumpets, trombones). Its rhythms are distinctive, easily recognized by the sharp accents on the offbeat (the second and fourth beats in 4/4 time). Ska was an immediate hit with the Jamaican public and later worldwide.
No other group from the formative years of Jamaican popular music has had as much influence as the Skatalites. Seminal recordings like “Guns of Navaronne,” “Addis Ababa,” “Silver Dollar,” “Phoenix, City,” “Corner Stone,” and “Blackberry Brandy” to name just a few, created a new genre that defined Jamaican music throughout the 1960s, and was the island’s premier musical export. It’s impossible to overestimate the Skatalites’ place in modern Jamaican musical history. Ska, rock steady, reggae, it all began with the Skatalites.
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Yuqin Wang & Zhengli XuChinese rod puppetry
For more than 2,500 years, master puppeteers in China have entertained and instructed audiences young and old with their strikingly lifelike rod puppets. The traditional puppet stories, which feature both animals and humans, often include social or moral lessons about kindness, hard work, bravery and patience, much like Aesop's fables. Other tales, for instance the popular "clever monkey" stories, have similarities to trickster tales told all around the world.
While its appeal is universal, the rod puppetry tradition is uniquely Chinese, a respected art form that can be dated back to 581 B.C. The puppets, which can weigh up to ten pounds and stand two or three feet tall, are capable of subtle and highly realistic movement. Each is mounted on a central rod, which allows the puppet to be held high above the puppeteer, with thinner rods allowing the master to manipulate the character's limbs. Puppet makers in China often spend time watching animals in their natural habitat or in the zoo to be certain that they understand the animal and its movements completely before building a puppet.
Yuqin Wang and her husband and fellow performer, Zhengli "Rocky" Xu, were both leading puppeteers with the famous Beijing Puppet Theater. They founded their own puppetry troupe when they came to Oregon from China in 1996. In their first year, the group was invited performers at the Atlanta Summer Olympics; now they share the beauty and excitement of Chinese rod puppetry with audiences throughout the country. In 2004, Yuqin Wang and Zhengli Xu were named National Heritage Fellows, this nation's highest honor for folk and traditional artists.
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