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


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.