Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I spent this past weekend in Charleston. For those of you who don’t know, I moved to Charlotte from Charleston at the end of July 2009. Despite being ready to move from Charleston, I am always ready to go back for a weekend or two.

Saturday I got up early to have coffee with my two best friends before heading out on a bike ride. The weather was a little iffy with rain clouds coming from the north. In retrospect I should have waited but I was eager to get out on my bike. Normally I take the time to swim with my old Master’s team Saturday mornings when I am in town but I skipped it this week. Magnus (VonPounderson) dealt me a pretty good 4K whopping Friday at the MCAC. This worked out well since it gave me the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a good cup of coffee before hitting the road. I clipped in and headed towards the Ravenel Bridge only to find it closed to all vehicle and pedestrian traffic.  I later found this article on the wreck. What a terribly unforgiving and unnecessary accident. Since I did not have access to Mt Pleasant and the Tour de Bridges (my personal favorite bike ride includes riding over at least three of the main bridges in Charleston). I headed towards the tried and true Folly Beach route. It was a great ride mixed with cold winds and a light drizzle but the roads were quiet and scenery was awesome. Why do I like riding in Charleston? Well the ride looks like this:


Yeah see all that blue? It is called water. We don't have anything remotely like this in Charlotte. Unfortunately with the water comes wind and the wind is always brutal when it comes to riding out at Folly. Consider yourself lucky if you get a tail/head wind because most of the time it is a swirly mess of a mental and physical beatdown. Part of me loves it, part of me cringes at the thought.  Riding along the "Edge of America" aka Folly Beach, I stopped to enjoy a Ciff bar and watch the surfers. Do you think you are dedicated? You need to talk to a real surfer. They don't care what temperature the air/water is. If the waves are good they are in there. It was a perfect morning for surfing. The ocean was smooth as glass, the wind was steady, and the waves were perfect. It would not surprise me one bit if some of these guys had been out there since 5AM. 


I was surprised at how few cyclists were out. Later in the day I realized I should not have been surprised as I was the one who insisted on riding in the early-cold-gonna-rain-any-second morning. By the end of my bike ride, the sun was out and it was beautiful. I stopped at one of my favorite hidden gems on James Island. It provides the best view of the Charleston peninsula but I opted to take a shot of the Ravenel bridge instead, my next destination . . . (right between the two diamonds to be specific).


I rode back downtown and back to the Ravenel Bridge hoping it was open again. It was still closed to vehicular traffic but they were letting bikes and pedestrians on the path way. I rode to the top of the bridge and back with probably the world's largest grin. Since I did not swim, I completed the day with a little runneroski. Just a little jaunt to swing me by colonial lake and through the College of Charleston campus. It was quite awesome. 

Charleston is a great place and will provide the perfect setting for training this summer as I prepare for IMCZ. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Swim Set 12/19/11

This is another sure distance swim set with a twist. It is slightly modified from one written by Bill Mavis - porn star/masters swimmer.

I plan to do this set Tuesday morning at the MCAC starting at 6AM for anyone interested.

Warm Up Fluff:
400 swim
6x50 with :10 rest breathing every 3/5/7 by 50

The Main Set:
1200 on 17:00 (1:25 base), (19:00 or 21:00)
900 on 12:45, (14:15 or 15:45)
600 on 8:30, (9:30 or 10:30)
- 1 min rest -
300 on 4:15, (4:45 or 5:15)

For each of the above distances do an open turn to get your time and then descend the final 300 of each distance. The last 300 in the series should be your best effort. I included three different interval options. Chose one that is achievable but not too easy. The first one is the 1:25 base, then 1:35, then 1:45. I will warn you this is a boring workout but it is all about building fatigue while pushing through the last 300 to help you maintain strength and endurance in the longer races when you are tired.

Warm down as needed

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Aging in the time of Triathlon

So Friday marked another year in my life. I am not the biggest fan of birthday celebrations so I tried to keep my big day under the radar. My morning started off with a 2.5 hour trip to the gym. I got to work out with Legs, run on the treadmill, and punish myself with 32 burpees. I then came to work and negated my time at the gym with a chocolate on chocolate donut provided to me by my coworker. Oh well.

I am not going to lie but I feel like my time with triathlon is limited. While I do not have a 5 year plan I carry with me, I feel like I have until I am 40 to do whatever it is I am going to do with triathlon. Part of me recognizes this is a ridiculous statement especially since there are some super strong Masters Open Females throwing it down with the young pups. Sometimes I am not the least bit phased by my statement. Life is so dynamic it is fun to think of the possibilities. Maybe I will get into whitewater kayaking or climbing . . . but then I remember I am just getting old. I would love to think that one day, oh say 50 years from now, I could possibly be one of those old ladies still kicking it out on the course because there is just something inherently cool about doing something someone 1/3 your age and couch bound (by choice of course) couldn’t even dream of doing (actually I do not love this visual at all). But then the competitive side of me starts chatting away and I have to wonder when the point will come when I can no longer PR in any distance or leg of triathlon. And then I have to wonder, when that day comes, am I going to be ok with it? I am certainly ok with not being the swimmer I once was. I recognize that I will never PR in any single swim event  e . . . v . . . e . . . r, ok maybe breaststroke since I am horrible at it and never swim it, but really, it’s breaststroke – it doesn’t count. I asked a Haycraft GTWD what he wanted for his birthday. I was thinking cookies since I got a new handheld blender for my birthday but he said he wanted another year of life. At least I am off the hook from making cookies! He then asked me what I wanted and I said I wanted another year of racing. I figured I would take his response up a notch since you can’t really have one without the other.  I know I should not fear the future but you can’t blame me. I love the sport of triathlon, at least I do today. Maybe one morning I will wake up and hate it. If that happens I guess that is ok too, it is time to move on.


When I realized it was time to move on from Charleston I came to Charlotte. This weekend I return to Charleston for a much needed visit! I have not been back to Charleston since labor day weekend. It is a long overdue trip I am very much looking forward to. Am I bringing my bike? Yes. Am I bringing my speedo? Yes. Am I bringing my running shoes? Yes . . . I guess.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Swim Set 12/12/11

I have decided to post a weekly swim set. In the depths of the black lump in my chest I call my heart, I am a swimmer. I have been wondering what contribution I can make to the triathlon world since this is a triathlon blog. I was stumped until I remembered I was a swimmer. I am not a slowtwitch junkie, a gear snob, nor do I travel the world for fancy races and training camps. One thing I do do is swim, I swim quite well. I aim to post a new workout on Monday so be on the look out, feel inspired, and adjust the workout accordingly!

This set is inspired by my birthday and by Haycraft GTWD. He was talking smack . . . again. I will be swimming this set at the MCAC at 6 AM tomorrow if anyone is interested.

400 EZ warm up
6x50 alternate 50 drill, 50 kick, 50 swim 1:00 (1:15)

5x100 free descend 1:30 (1:45)
8x100 free pull with paddles and a buoy 1:30 (1:40)
5x100 free descend 1:30 (1:45)
6x100 IM or stroke (no free) 2:00 (2:30)
5x100 free descend 1:30 (1:45)
2x100 kick with fins 2:00 (2:45)
1x100 free all out (get time)

100 warm down = a healthy 4000m workout!

Monday, December 5, 2011

How to tell you are dating a male triathlete . . .

I do not know why I felt compelled to write this list. Maybe I have just spent too much time hanging with boys, listening to them gush about their tri-crushes while meanwhile observing the ridiculous essence of "the triathlete" seep into their (and my) personal life. Some of the items on this list are from personal experience and some of them are just from listening to the constant banter of the boys. 

* He runs 2 steps in front of you at all times to prove to the world he isn’t getting chicked

* The underwear he wears during the famous Underwear Run in Kona is sexier than yours


* He doesn’t call you fat but gently reminds you the handful of chocolate covered peanut butter stuffed pretzels you are about to eat aren’t going to help your running.

* The takes the opportunity to drop you on a bike ride to prove his point

* He shaves his legs more than you do and tweets about their awesomeness


* When you express your disappointment in your race he points to his HTFU socks

* A night out consists of ordering in pizza and watching TV until you both pass out around 9:30

* He spends a lot of time and effort cultivating his tan lines
* AND he finds a girl’s bike short tan line sexy because it "shows her dedication to her training"


* He buys you flowers . . . embroidered on a Pearl Izumi cycling jacket because "this year you are going to learn to ride outside during the winter"

* He wears socks to bed . . . with the CEP logo

* Cheering you on during a race consists of pulling down his shorts to reveal his new Speedo as you run by


* The number of shoes he owns is ridiculous and a fact you hide from your dad


* He uses you borrowing his set of race wheels as leverage

* He takes the opportunity to dress like a woman for Halloween and any other kind of costumed gathering.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

IMCZ

Celebrating my entry into IMCZ
So this past Tuesday I signed up for my third ironman. Back in 2008 I signed up for my first and what I thought would be my only Ironman, Ironman Florida 2009. My motivation for signing up was simple, I wanted to do an ironman before I turned 30. So what is my motivation now? Well it is a combination of things:


1) The swim looks awesome. 
I have been fortunate to swim in two awesome swim legs in the last two ironmans. During IMFL I swam with a sea turtle. In Hawaii . . . well it was Hawaii. The swim course in Cozumel looks ridiculously awesome. I was not aware there is supposed to be a current to help the swimmers along but who cares while you are cutting through the crisp clear waters of one of the most scenic swims on the Ironman circuit.


2) Several local triathletes are doing it. Some of them happen to be my favorite. Four of us came together to make this happen. We all have different degrees of Ironman experience. This will be my third, Johnny Garage's 2nd, The Beard's 2nd? and Deuce's first. Awwww Deuce! Deuce is probably at the gym now doing bicept curls to train for it. I have heard rumors of several other local triathletes planning to sign up but I do not have confirmation. Hopefully we will have a large fun group to dominate the island!


3)I want to go back to Kona. IMCZ will be the first attempt of perhaps many to make it back to the big dance. I got lucky in Florida and I thought one trip to Hawaii would be enough - to compete in the holy grail of triathlon and walk away satisfied. In many ways I did  . . . until the race rolled around again this year. As the race day approached I felt somewhat disappointed I was not there to compete. I felt an eagerness I have never felt for a race. I was envious of the athletes watching the sun rise as they scoped out the swim course. The excitement they felt as they previewed the Queen K and dipped into the famous energy lab to have a look around. I wanted to be one of those athletes. 


Who knows what will happen but it doesn't hurt to try right? And it definitely doesn't hurt to try in the company of your best buds!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ok so I have been seeing Mark Kane for several weeks now regarding the nerve issue in my hind end. It has been an interesting experience to say the least. When Mark first suggested Trigger Point Dry Needling I was very excited about the concept. I have received the needling four times now with each session leaving me with a whirlwind of emotion.

What are trigger points?

I will admit my ignorance here. When the words “trigger points” are spoken I immediately think of a power button type scenario. I thought trigger points were simply points on the body when pressed another point of the body was stimulated/effected. I guess I was confusing trigger points with something like the theory behind reflexology. Reflexolgy theorizes parts of the body like the hands and feet reflect the body as a whole and applying pressure to your heel, for example, stimulates your pancreas. However there is a medical definition of a trigger point even though there is a little bit of debate about it. Generally speaking a trigger point is a knot in the skeletal muscle fiber that is tender when pressure is applied. What makes a trigger point different from a simple sore muscle is localized discomfort that can refer or radiate to other parts of the body when aggravated. Trigger points can be a source of pain but also a source of weakness and a decreased range of motion.

And the needles?

The needles are similar to those used in acupuncture techniques. They are fine needles and when inserted properly they are barely detected. However, once they are in the trigger point, the muscle involuntarily spasms or “twitches” (this is where Mark will likely yell out “BAM”). The twitches are a good thing. The spasms of the muscle help to loosen the band of tight muscle creating the trigger point while promoting blood flow and healing in the area.

Does nothing come free?

While the positive effects of the needling are immediate they come at a cost. The more spasms that occur with the needling the more the muscle is worked and the more sore it becomes. The soreness is significantly different than the tenderness elicited by the trigger point but the soreness is almost as immediate as the relief and worsens before it disappears. 

Normally I like pain, especially good pain. . . the pain of digging deep, the pain associated with rolling my IT band, the pain felt when my massage therapist hits that gold mine between my shoulder blades. I would not say Trigger Point Dry Needling is painful but the muscle spasms are shocking. It took two sessions before I realized Mark was not pushing in the needles because I was an obstinate patient, it was my own muscles going crazy. Mark was just really good at finding the gold mines (or should I call them land mines?). Then there is the soreness . . . the lasting impression . . . the gift that keeps on giving . . . the reminder to be good little patient and do my prescribed exercises . . . .

What did I learn?

I tend to giggle when I am uncomfortable. Confusing the pain and pleasure response is not a good thing to do while on the PT table.  But I can't wait to do it again. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Success

FNG shared this YouTube video with me so I am sharing it with you. This weekend is a surprisingly big weekend for racing. I want to dedicate this to everyone who reads this blog but especially to those racing! 

Ironman Florida
 -David G. Lee
 -Tyler Wichmann
 -Seth Greene
 -Gregg Wilson
 -Dan LeBlanc
 -Dave Conn
 -Kendra Baran

ITU Long Distance Triathlon Worlds
 -Patrick Armeen

Shipwreck Sprinternational
 -Ashley Ackerman
 -Scott Woodbury
-Melissa Bell

New York City Marathon
 -Bratton Fennell
 -Meredith Byrne


Monument 1/2 Marathon
-Kate Leiser
-Graeme Leiser

Savannah Marathon and 1/2 Marathon
 -Justin Andrews
 -Carrie Andrew
-Sarah Padolsky

St. Nick's SCM Invitational
-Caroline Atkinson

James Island Connector Run
-Jamie Turner
-Thijs Van De Kamp

Monday, October 31, 2011

ASSessment

After the competing in the White Lake 1/2 Ironman back in May I had a really sore butt for days. My glutes felt like I had knocked out a set of 100 squats at max weight, sort of like back in my YMCA days with the world's greatest trainer, Russ Kilpatrick. Thinking about those days now makes me laugh. I was so in awe of my 13 year old female teammate strapping on a weight belt and easily squatting 2 huge 45 pound plates plus the bar. MB you are such a badass!
MB, Russ, Me circa 1994 at YMCA Nationals, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Anyhoots, the days after the race I was struggling to sit down . . . on everything! After I got over the soreness a tightness lingered in the top of my right hamstring. Not an injury and nothing that prevented me from doing anything, I could just feel it and I didn't like it. I tried everything from massage and chiropractic work to seeing a doctor specializing in sports injuries. After two bouts of prescribed physical therapy I knew I still wasn't getting to the core of the issue. The off season is a great chance to address any old/developing imbalances and to prevent future injuries so I am committed to taking a proactive approach so that I could start the 2012 season healthy and without any lingering issues.  I decided to call Mark Kane, an Inside Out regular and local Physical Therapist/Personal Trainer. His work is diverse and well respected in the triathlon community and beyond. I didn't think I had much to lose by agreeing to meet with him and undergoing a short evaluation to assess my biggest asset, yep you guessed it . . .

I will admit at first I was a little skeptical but it did not take long before I was kicking myself for not seeing Mark sooner. Through some exercises to determine a diagnosis he found that it wasn’t a hamstring issue at all but an irritation of my right sciatic nerve which makes complete sense now. It is very difficult for me to describe to someone what it feels like. I would not call it pain and it doesn’t necessarily “hurt” but when I am in a chair I continually fidgit to relieve the pressure on my backend. I am already a fidgiter so most people probably would not notice the increased amount of fidgeting . . . so what if I am spelling out “Mississippi” with my butt . . . it is fun and makes me feel better.



Mark confirmed I have a few issues . . . yeah I know what you all are going to say so shut it . . .

1)    I stick my butt out placing unnecessary pressure on my spine. Yeah well what self respecting girl doesn’t?
2)    The tension on my sciatic nerve was confirmed via the slump test and could be triggered and released with just small movements of my neck. You know you are difficult when you can be both a pain in the ass and a pain in the neck at the same time.
3)    Tenderness and weakness in my glute medius and minimus (my favorite) causes instability for my lower extremities. Further confirmation of my lack of grace. 

Luckily the list ended there. Pheeeeeeeew!!

So Mark set me up with a few exercises and a prescription for Trigger Point Dry Needling. Doesn’t THAT sound fun? 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cashing Checks

So yesterday I cashed a big check. I was awarded $1500 for winning the Inside-Out North Carolina Series put on by Set-Up Events. This is the second time I won money for competing in a triathlon. The first check I received was for winning the Cheraw Sprint Triathlon in the Go Tri Sports South Carolina series. For how much money we put into triathlon I do have to say it is quite generous for a production company to give some of it back. Every year I say I am going to track every little triathlon expense and I never do. If anyone has I would love to see your numbers! Maybe this year will be year. It is not unheard of for someone to drop close to $2000 in last minute stuff and swag at one of those big races with the big expos. I have seen it.

I am not going to lie, winning the money is a very nice bonus to a long season of triathlon related expenditures but I can’t say it makes me feel any more proud of my accomplishments this year. I had a great year of racing money or not.

Initially at the beginning of the season I was not going to go for the series. I thought it would be too difficult to do and still maintain focus on my priorities this year. But my training partner and friend, Johnny Garage, spend a lot of time encouraging me to go for it.  I did not know about the cash prize and initially he bribed me with food so that I would race at Stumpy Creek, the bonus event for the series. I guess he knows me all too well. Humored by the big check scene in Happy Gilmore, Johnny Garage spent the rest of the summer taunting me with the idea of getting “the big check.” So the day of the banquet rolls around and Johnny Garage and I go out for a quick long run before we hit the road. Getting back to the car he tells me to look in the truck and there it was, the big check. There are some moments you simply cannot duplicate.

The Big Check
 It is fun to race and train for triathlon but it would not be worth it if I could not share it some of the best people in the world. Triathlon has given me the opportunity to meet and train with some awesome individuals. 

My mainstays

Monday, October 17, 2011

2011 Season Recap


Yep that is my season in a nutshell, broken down to its basic elements. I had a pretty strong season this year and I am very thankful for that. I took a little bit of a hiatus from 2006-2009 and my return to the world of triathlon has been marked with continued improvement and excitement. I am definitely pleased with my results this year but I see a lot of places where I can improve or at least fine tune.

So to start let's get over the swims. If you look across the board there is little variation among my swim splits from race to race distance to distance. Most of this can be attributed to the fact that race courses are not marked exactly and it is relatively easy to make a long swim longer. I did not swim any of these races with a GPS device so I am relying on the estimated length of the swim to calculate my average pace. Belews by far was my fastest swim which can be explained by one (or a combination) of the following reasons:

1) Course was short
2) Time trial start meant I had less crap to swim through
3) Cooler water temperatures
4) Blueseventy speedsuit

Stumpy Creek was by far my worst swim. It was a week out from Munice and at the moment I just wasn't feeling much in the game. One thing I do want to point out is that I started swimming with my BlueSeventy PZ3TX at Lake Norman and continued to use it  at Worlds and Belews. These three races contain splits almost equal to if not faster than my two races with a wetsuit, White Lake and Nationals. Swooooooooon . . . .

The three half Ironmans I did, hands down, contain the best swims of the year. White Lake is like no other lake you have been to. The crystal clear water, cypress trees and knees, and Spanish moss make it a beautiful swim experience and a great open water swim for those new to open water swimming. This year's swim was threatened by a little bit of fog at the beginning but once the clouds burned off, the water was smooth and clear as glass. The 70.3s in Muncie and Vegas contained courses that were smooth to navigate and relatively easy to sight. Neither race had overwhelming warm water even though they were not wetsuit legal and neither race was plagued by underwater growth one might see when watching Swamp Thing (Swamp Thing picture courtesy of http://superheroeslist.blogspot.com/ I think I saw this guy during the swim at Nationals).

My bike splits were pretty even across the board, even more so than the swims! I guess this means I have either dialed in my bike for the 70.3 distance or I am simply not pushing hard enough on the sprint courses. My slowest bike average was in Vegas. The course was significantly hillier than any other race I did. Unfortunately even to this day I wonder if I could have gone a little bit harder on that course. Maybe I will have a chance to go again in 2012 and get another run at it. Ironically my fastest bike was paced on the Munice course. The course was fast and flat but windy. I think the reason this race is my fastest is because I raced smart and used the wind to my advantage. I did not fight the wind but instead I saved my legs to do most of the work when I had a tailwind. I learned a lot using a power meter this year and realizing even the slightest incline or headwind can create a huge spike in watts prematurely fatiguing the legs. While I did not actually race with a power meter I was able to feel how much I needed to back off when against the wind and how much to turn it up when with the wind.
My favorite bike course was in Vegas. Watching the bike course roll ahead over me into the desert was breath taking. I do not think I wiped the smile of my face the entire ride. To this date this is the prettiest bike course I have ever been on. My least favorite bike course was at Nationals in Burlington, Vermont. While I am looking forward to doing the race again in 2012, the roads were horribly cracked and the course was crowded. There was a lot of traffic running on and next to the course which maybe made the race seem extra tight. Hopefully they will drum up a slightly better route next year.

One of my goals this year was to run a 7:45 pace run leg at a 70.3. I came close in Vegas on a course that was either uphill or downhill. While I did not hit my "number" I consider my goal more or less met. The bike and run was hillier and harder than my other two 70.3s and it was still a hot race. Maybe most importantly, I like that my run splits continued to improve from White Lake to Muncie and finally Vegas. At least I know I was on the improving track! The sprint races are just a crap shoot. I was surprised to see Lake Norman has my fastest run split as it was mentally the worst run course of the year. I was so alone on the course, not seeing a single racer coming or going, that I feared I was lost. Maybe I ran faster out of shear panic? This is also the race where I completely ran past the finishing shoot flustered by a small group of the best cheerleaders on the planet. Smooth, that's what they call that little move in triathlon speak.

My goals for 2011:
1) Qualify for 70.3 Worlds - check
2) Run a 7:45 pace for a 70.3 – sorta check
3) Win the NCTS - check (I didn't think it was possible but I could at least try, right?)

Of course I now have 2012 weighing heavily on my mind. Any thoughts?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Truth

I have been thinking a lot about my next blog post and I have had a lot of great experiences in the last month to blog about but I came across this song as I was scrolling through my ipod today at work. Now that my 2011 triathlon season has come to a close I have had a chance to reflect on the experiences I had and all that I learned. I probably learned more about triathlon and myself this season than I have during any other. The outcome is I feel more motivated now than ever.   Maybe it is this mindset that draws me to this song? While there are several interpretations of its meaning (and I will go ahead and admit the video is weird – don’t judge), I find this song to be about inner struggle. The struggle behind countless hours in the pool and on the road, day in and day out, sunrise to sunset . . . . having the confidence and faith in your abilities to put everything you have out on the course on race day . . . seeing all of the open doors in front of you and taking advantage of opportunities as they present themselves . . .  Of course this is probably just another simple love song whose meaning I have completely contorted until there is no doubt in my mind its lyrics can be applied to triathlon-ing.  Alas.
The truth is that I never shook my shadow
Every day it's trying to trick me into doing battle
Calling out 'faker' only get me rattled
Wanna pull me back behind the fence with the cattle


Building your lenses
Digging your trenches
Put me on the front line
Leave me with a dumb mind
With no defenses
But your defense is
If you can't stand to feel the pain then you are senseless


Since this,
I've grown up some
Different kinda figther
And when the darkness come, let it inside you
Your darkness is shining
My darkness is shining
Have faith in myself
Truth.

I've seen a million numbered doors on the horizon
Now which is the future you choosen before you gone dying
I'll tell you about a secret I've been undermining
Every little lie in this world comes from dividing
Say you're my lover
Say you're my homie
Tilt my chin back, slit my throat
Take a bath in my blood, get to know me
All out of my secrets
All my enemies are turning into my teachers

Because
Light's blinding
No way dividing
What's yours or mine when everything's shining
Your darkness is shining
My darkness is shining
Have faith in ourselves


Truth.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Belews Makeup Race

Belews Lake Triathlon was supposed to be my first race of the season but it turned into the last. Funny how things come full circle! I first blogged about the Belews Debacle back in April. I guess due to its title it also happens to be my most popular blog post. I would like to reflect on why this might be the case but I will stick to the point for now.

This past Saturday morning instead of feverishly texting all my racing buddies I solemnly packed my car and ate my breakfast. Since the spring race had been postponed to Sept 24th Set Up Events gave the registrants the option to do the makeup race or one of three other races in the series. Unfrotunately everyone else jumped ship leaving me to fend for myself at Belews. Struggling to eat my breakfast and find anything to motivate me I headed north towards the small lake created by Duke Energy to provide cooling water for the company’s largest coal burning power plant. Needing a break, I stopped at a rest stop and ran into Tanya Houghton of all people! The two of us have been racing against each other for the past two years even when we didn’t know it. I suppose seeing her put a little pep in my step. It was nice to run into a familiar face but it was neat to run into such a tremendous athlete at a highway rest stop of all places! She is headed out to Kona this week so I wish her the best of luck!

I arrived at the race site significantly earlier than I was expecting so I had plenty of time to go through packet pickup, transition set up, and a quick warm up for once. I usually find myself scrambling pre-race since I have a tendency to run late. After a little swim warm up I was ready to line up for the time trial start. In most races, your wave starts as a group and it is a complete free-for-all when the gun goes off (hence the need for me to work on my get out speed). This time we had to submit a 100m swim time and then we were seated accordingly in waves of 2. My wave partner, Happy Frank, was not there opting to train for his Ironman in Kona (no big deal) so it was a lonely start for me. I was looking forward to swimming against Happy Frank since he whooped up on me as relay members at the Cane Creek triathlon. Ok . . . ok, I will admit I was looking forward to a little bit of redemption, mono e mono. So instead I focused my brusied ego on the two open males in the one wave sending off a mere 15 seconds ahead of me. Right before the start it began to rain . . . and thunder. I was worried the race would get delayed/postponed/partially cancelled. Luckily none of those things happened and I was off chasing the boys before I knew it.
 
It was still raining as I headed out on the bike. Luckily neither me nor the rain was going hard enough for it sting but it did turn the roads into a puddle-fest. I tried to ignore the weather but towards the end of the bike I was starting to worry about the steep dismount into T2. Testing the brakes I knew it was very possible I would not be able to stop without fishtailing or crashing. I came into T2 very conservatively and luckily I was able to keep my stead steady.

Looking at my happy
feet or convincing my
feet they were happy?
Heading out on the run my thoughts were only focused on “happy feet.” Since this race was a time trial format I had no idea how quickly my competition was chopping away at my head start. I tried to focus on not worrying about what everyone else was doing and just on getting to the finish line with happy feet.

5th race. 5th win.

The award for the top three finishers in each category was a set of four stemless wine glasses. On my way back home I fought the urge to stop at Trader Joes so I could celebrate my victory with my new glasses and some “2 buck chuck” but instead I opted to drive to Augusta, GA to cheer on some of the local athletes at the ESI Augusta 70.3. Good start to a great weekend!

Friday, September 23, 2011

70.3 World Championships

When I heard Ironman was changing the location of the 70.3 World Championships from Clearwater, Florida to Las Vegas, Nevada I knew instantly I wanted to do it. I do not know exactly what the draw was but something about the challenge behind the heat and hills appealed to me. My main goal for the 2011 triathlon season was to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships. Unfortunately this put a lot of pressure on the only 70.3 race I was planning to do but luckily I had a great race and was able to qualify at the Muncie, IN 70.3. It becomes a slight dilemma when your whole season is focused on qualifying for something but when you do are suddenly left goalless which is exactly where I found myself going into Vegas. Since this was the first year of the race there were no past results to analyze, no real chance to create expectations, so I found myself floundering a bit towards race day. Even now, two weeks after the race, people ask me how I did and the honest answer is I don't know. I felt good during the race and finished strong. Does that mean I executed the perfect race day or does it mean I could have dug deeper?  Hard to say but overall I enjoyed the inaugural event I am hoping to go back again sometime in the near or distant future.

Swim (27:51) -
Swim course going out
My wave was not set to go off for thirty minutes after the pros started but when transition closed we were all expected to line up. A full hour before the 30-34 females were set to start we were all in a line and some people already had their speedsuits on. I waited until the last minute to put on my BlueSeventy PZ3TX because I wanted to breathe while I was still on shore. Encouraged by my first time in the speedsuit at Lake Norman, I had great expectations for that tight but ridiculously fast little suit.

Needless to say we all lined up like obedient water-loving penguins and slowly made our way to the docks where we jumped in but still had about 15 minutes to float/swim to the start line. The swim course itself was quite nice with easy visibility and only three turns. I opted to wear my metallic BlueSeventy Elements and even though it was still dark when the race started the sun rose fast and we were swimming into it by . With so much time until the start I struggled a little bit to hold position on the front line but when the gun went off I was moving. I have been working on my get out speed and it has helped. In less than thirty seconds I was off the front with only one girl to my right and a small group way off to my left. By the 200m mark I was alone and had the luxury of a paddle board escort. I found this very encouraging and swam hard to stay in the lead. Luckily the waves ahead of me were stretched out so I did not have much trouble as I started picking off the previous waves but by the time I made it to the bridge I was starting to wonder if this swim was ever going to be over.

T1 () -
I am not sure on the logic of this transition but the swim started on the left side of the lake with the bikes. We exited on the right side of the lake and then had to run up a hill, over the bridge, and then down again to enter T1. I am not sure why they didn't just start the swim on the right side but maybe I should just shut my mouth since I did not major in logistics.

Bike () -

Pretty much sums it up
 The bike course, hands down, was the highlight of this race. We left the lake and immediately started climbing the road leading out to the main highway from the resort. Once out on Lake Mead Highway we turned right, rode about 0.5 miles downhill before we hopped on a trail under the highway and then back onto Lake Mead going the opposite direction uphill. From there all I could see was desert and mountains. There had been an early morning rain shower, while there was no moisture in the air, the smell of rain still lingered and the morning dew was still burning off in the distance. It was the most beautiful sight I have ever encountered during a race. I wish I had a helmet cam to capture what I saw. Looking at the spectacle before me all I could think about was how lucky and fortunate I was to be there. I spent a lot of time with these thoughts for the first half of the race. I was really conscience about taking the first 28 miles conservatively as the hill profile made the last 16 hills appear to be all uphill. I was passed by 6 girls in my age group before the ½ way point but I tried to not let it get to me. The bike isn’t over until mile 56, right? Ultimately the bike course proved to be more mentally challenging than physically challenging. The climbs are the climbs so you just have to be smart with how you take them but the false flats – those guys mess with your head. There were several times I would look at my speedometer and the surprisingly slow speed I was putting out on what seemed to be a perfectly flat surface was morale breaking. This is the course to take advantage of a powermeter.


Still feeling good during the second half, I found myself enjoying catching people on the uphills only to be passed again on the downhills. I was beginning to worry I had taken the bike out too slow but just as I was starting to feel it in my legs, I passed 2 girls who had flown by me in the first half. I felt a little more confident in my pacing.

T2 () -
Happy to be off the bike . . . not looking forward to the run.
Run () -
For the first few minutes of the run my legs did not feel good. Luckily the rest of the mile was downhill to the first turn around. After the turn around it was 1 mile uphill to transition/finish and then 1 mile uphill to the next turn around. Then it was the same downhill, and then again uphill, and then again downhill, and uphill, and then downhill 1 mile to finish. No the world’s most exciting run course but the 2 mile stretch was filled with spectators and Hal, who went out of his way to announce my arrival. The run course was simply fun and I pulled a lot of energy from being surrounded by other racers (much unlike LKN). The best part was feeling like the miles were flying by . . . a feeling I rarely experience while I am running. All of a sudden I was running the last downhill towards the finish line. When I saw the race clock at 5:29:50 I just had to give the finish everything I had. I was supposed to start 30 minutes after the pro men’s field so I had less than 10 seconds to squeak under 5 hours. I thought I made it but the timing must have been slightly off as my final time ended up being 5:02:00. Have I ever mentioned how much I like even numbers?

I just want to take a second to thank my mom and Charlottesville Dermatology for donating my flight, Hal Cobb for gambling so much my room was comp-ed by the staff at the Palms Casino and resort, Patrick Ray for letting me borrow his race wheels . . . again, Graeme Leiser and Martin Jones for their donations towards my travel expenses, and my brother Mark for his overwhelming enthusiasm and encouragement towards my racing. I am constantly reminded how lucky and fortunate I am to be able to do something I love with the support of those I love. 

My casino and car rental (I wish), oh yeah, dig it!

LKN 2011

Recently several people have commented on the large number of races I have competed in this year. The funny thing is as of right now I have just as many races under my belt as totaled last year. I have two more races to compete in this season but with one of 2010’s races being an ironman I do not feel like I have overextended myself. I do regret that several of my races were back to back but sometimes that is just how the timing plays out. This is exactly what happened to the Lake Norman Sprint Triathlon. I sighed up for the race at the beginning of the season when the rumors of a sellout were all around me. In the meantime, the opportunity to make Nationals a cheap trip fell into my lap so I had to take it. Generally speaking I prefer to do only one race a month so these back-to-back weekends have been both a learning experience and a challenge for me.

Coming out of a lack-luster race in Vermont, I expected it would be difficult for me to find the motivation to push hard at the Lake Norman Sprint but I knew I would have to. While the race did not seem to have the depth it had in previous years, the presence of both overall female winners from the two years past validated the battle for top three. So on my drive up I turned to Toots & the Maytals to get me going.



Despite being a little late to the race site I seemed to have plenty of time to set up the transition and even sneak in a short warm up swim. I decided to swim with my new BlueSeventy speedsuit, the PZ3TX. Going into the swim I was not sure if it was worth wearing a speedsuit but I wanted to give it a try as I planned to wear it in Vegas. IT IS AMAZING! After years of seeing swim technology come and go, I honestly did not think the speedsuit offered much in the triathlon swim realm. I was so wrong! I sprinted off the start and found myself alone with one other guy but at the very first turn buoy I pulled out the super-duper-super-special buoy turn Patty Waldron, the head coach of MAC Masters, taught me and then I was alone. Suck it sucker! (don't feel bad nice fella, you passed me in transition)  From the there I felt fast and smooth until I exited the water and removed the suit with ease. I thought the time gained from a speedsuit would be offset by the time it takes to get it off but I was wrong there too! Wrong, wrong, wrong. If you don’t have a speedsuit, get one (preferablely from Inside Out sports – they are a blueseventy dealer).


The bike itself was unremarkable. Happy Frank passed me and passed me fast. I have been able to hang with him in the past but he simply blew me away this time. I guess his Kona training is paying off! After that a few more open men passed me but I was not able to hold pace and pretty soon I was riding solo. The solo theme continued as I transitioned from the bike to the run. I appreciated seeing some familiar faces in the transition but back on the run course I felt so alone. There were stretches of 5 minutes when I did not see another racer, volunteer, arrow, or spectator. At one point I was beginning to think I missed a turn and was now lost is the morass of some suburban neighborhood. The neighbors were all having yard sales and such . . . didn’t they know 500 athletes were about to tromp through their ‘hood dropping GU packets and spreading sweat on their wares? Won’t be an issue if I am off course . . . . and then finally I see another arrow. Pheeeeew, I was really starting to get nervous. Of course then I missed the last turn to the finishers shoot. Ooops. Luckily I did not get far before I was corrected.

I want to thank Cline, Vespa, and SmellyPoo for coming out just to cheer me and the other racers on. It was great to see some friendly faces out on the course to push me on!

Friday, August 26, 2011

AG Nationals Burlington, VT

It has been a while since I posted last and I have been a part of a lot of fun and interesting things like an epic ride to and up Beech Mountain, the 24 Hours of Booty, and USAT Age group Nationals. Unfortunately everyday seems to have less time than the last and while I would not consider myself caught up by any means, I figured Charlotte’s taxpayers wouldn’t mind if I took a little break to blog about my little trip to Vermont.

My little adventure began when HaycraftGTWD (aka SmittenKitten), Talladega (aka Big Kat) and I all piled in the car and hit the road for Chapel Hill to pick up the fourth character in our journey, Mark Carey, from Raleigh’s infamous elite Triangle Multisport Team. We arrived to Chapel Hill at a reasonable hour and spend the evening downing pizza, talking tri’s, and wondering who would crack first on our 14.5 hour drive to Vermont. Despite the fact we were driving through every major city on the east coast, our drive was surprisingly uneventful. We missed all the major traffic jams and two short detours forced us to do a quick Clark Griswald tour of DC and New York City. Not bad. We arrived to the beauty of Burlington, Vermont along rolling major roads that would be considered back roads here in Charlotte. The cats and I ate a great dinner at this little joint next to the hotel and eagerly awaited the fifth and final member of our team, Moose (aka Moose, yeah that’s right).

Team Awesome
We spent Friday, our only free day, getting in our respective workouts, picking up our packets, dropping off our bikes, and previewing the swim course. My legs felt ridiculously stiff from the drive and I was really struggling to loosen my IT band on my left side. I do not usually have IT issues but I guess it could be expected from drive. After a bike ride, swim, and some Ibuprofen it had loosened up to the point where I could at least walk without feeling something tugging at the side of my knee. While we were all feeling our commute, I think the five of us were ready to get our race going. This is the first time in over 5 years I have travelled a distance like this to compete in anything under a ½ Ironman (Note – I am not an ironman elitist, I just took three years off from racing). It was refreshing to know the physical, mental, and time commitment to the Olympic-distance race would limit our fatigue so we could still enjoy the rest of the day in Vermont.

Swim -
I was one of the last waves to start the event, almost a full hour after the first wave. I had a lot of time to watch the previous waves glide through Lake Champlain. The course seemed simple enough with 4 90-degree turns and a swim into the boat ramp but as I watched the previous heats make a wide arch around the end of the course, I knew I would have to sight well in order to not make the same mistake. My turn to churn came fast as I struggled to put my 7 year old wet suit on probably for the last time. Like a troop of trained seals, the girls and I shuffled through the shoot and into the water. As we were all lining up for the in-water start and jockeying for a front of the line position this one girl turns around and says, “you all are going to want to get behind me, I am a swimmer.” I had to applaud her strategy but wouldn’t you know people believed her and did it!?! Well that is one crafty way to end the fight for the front! I am not going to complain because it gave me room to squeeze in next to her when the gun finally went off. I have been working on my sprint speed thanks to HaycraftGTWD’s critique towards my lack of such speed. I really tried to hit the beginning sprint hard to find myself some clear water and to trounce "the swimmer.” The strategy worked and ultimately I found myself in a pod of only four girls. We stayed together until the second turn, which can also be described as the turn into the sun, and immediately our group shattered like a piece of glass. As I desperately fought for glances of the next buoy I noticed that I too swam the arch instead of the straight line. I guess my learning curve ain't so steep afterall.

You can just barely see the swimmers heading out the first buoy.
Bike –
I knew there were at least two girls ahead of me coming out of the water and when I was in transition I did a quick recon of the rack. It did nothing to help me, ie time wasted. Thanks to starting later, the bike course seemed overwhelmingly crowded. It was difficult to tell who was coming and who was going, who was blocking, drafting, and overtaking. Maybe I should have shut my mind up but I really found it difficult to find a groove. I found it difficult to hit some kind of appropriate pace. I honestly felt like I was riding in a 56 mile ride instead of a 24.8 mile bike ride but I had a goal. HaycraftGTWD and made a small bet he would pass me before the 10th mile marker. I had a four minute head start and anything I gained on the swim. I had no reason not to make it. Even though he had a heck of a bike ride, he did not pass me until just before the 13 mile mark. Sometimes small victories are the best. I spent the rest of the ride in an unfocused state, “hey look at the silo, hey look at the cows, hey look at the . . . “ Didn’t see until I got my results how painfully unfocused my ride was. Ouch. Not my best effort.

Run-
My coworker says my bellybutton is too low which is why I am not a good runner  . . . but my low belly button makes me a good swimmer. Thanks for the analysis. Carry on . . . 
Looking fast in my BlueSeventy

At this point, any excuse for my poor run split is a good one. Coming out of transition we made one turn and then headed straight up a .25 doozy of a hill. I think the fast feet I may have had starting the run died a slow death on that hill. After the grunt (grunt = small steep hill that hurts a lot and you can't just grind it out) the run course was quite nice, mostly flat, in and out of the woods. As the girls in my age group started to pass me, I vowed I would only let one pass me per mile (more like wishful thinking than a vow). Pretty much only one girl came blowing by me per mile until mile 5 and then it was all me. Like the bike, my legs just didn’t have it. Looking at my splits I was left wondering how my training runs were faster than this. I just didn’t have it this day.
I crossed the finish line grabbed my one allotted bottle of water and sat by the water’s edge. Mentally and physically I felt beat. A local volunteer came and sat next to me and we chatted about the beauty of Vermont. I of course asked her if the cold was worth it. She said absolutely. Her answer, with its complete lack of hesitation, reminded me that not all races and training days are good ones. Some hurt more, some challenge us physically, and some challenge us mentally but they are all worth it. After a few more moments to myself I went to find my crew who had pretty much camped themselves out in the beer tent (Surprised? No.). No one was particularly happy with their race but everyone, including me, was in good spirits. HaycraftGTWD finished 22 AG, Moose, 3rd, Scarey Carey 6th, Talladega 51st, and me at a surprising 9th AG finish. Theam Awesome had three world’s qualifiers and the three podium finishes. We had some celebrating to do! I personally celebrated with a big bowl of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, the hard to find Coconut Seven Layer Bar flavor. Yum.

Auckland here I come? Not unless someone happens to drop $5000 my direction . . . hint, hint, wink, wink, hint, hint . . . . dang why doesn't the hint-hint-wink-wink thing ever work!?!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Crack Down at the Creek

I have been working on this blog entry for the last week trying desparately to come up with something intelligent to say about it. I wish I had more to say about the Stumpy Creek Olympic-distance triathlon but I was tired going in and I was tired coming out. I was brow beat by Vespa to enter this race just a week after my half-ironman in Muncie. Part of me wanted to do for the points and the experience to race in an Olympic distance triathlon again (I have not done one since 2005!) but my body felt far from ready to do it. My legs were still a little stiff as I climbed the four floors to my office when I came back to work on Tuesday so I knew it was going to be a long week. I would continue on complaining here but then I met this girl this weekend that competed in three ironmans in three weeks (Meredith Dolhare – she’s got quite an impressive website)  so I will just quit the whining and continue with the show.
To be perfectly honest I feel I did not show up to the race to race. All I wanted was a decent finish and I didn’t want it to hurt that bad. Although I was no longer sore, I was worried if when I started to dig deep my shovel would hit rock bottom. If you aren’t all in why are you toeing the line, you ask? I asked myself this question many times during the week prior to the race but then I saw a friendly face before I hit Lake Norman and she reminded why I was there. The blond bombshell reminded me I was there to race afterall.

Swim (24:03): I need to emphasize here the importance of goggle section in an open water swimming. I was in a hurry in the AM and I accidently grabbed my back up pair of goggles instead of my primary pair. I was worried about them leaking but I quickly remembered why they weren’t my primary pair – they fog . . . bad. I did not have time to worry about it when the gun went off so I started out in my usual conservative pace but it did not take long before I found myself in a small group of three racers. The three of us were all over the map – at several points the two of them were way off to the left and I was way off to the right and then suddenly we would meet again, shoulder to shoulder. At one point I swam so wide I started to sight the wrong buoy, the buoy for the leg going out, not the buoy for the leg coming back in! Way off course. Oops! See - it is all about the goggles.

T1 (:55)


Bike (1:13:05): HaycraftGTWD passed me at the 1.5 mile mark on the bike at the Latta Sprint so my goal (more like a hope really) was to make it to the 3 mile mark before he passed me since the swim was twice as long. He didn’t pass me until the 4 mile mark. Oh yeah! Take that Crafty! The bike was rolling along just fine until I was passed by Happy Frank. And then I was passed by Stacey, one of several very competitive women out on the course that day. Dang . . . ! The three of us ended up getting stuck together. I made one attempt at passing them and then they both passed me right back. It wasn’t worth fighting for position here when I knew I couldn’t out bike either one so I just hung a good distance back.


T2 (:58): I must learn the flying dismount. A MUST.


Run (42:55): As I headed out on the run I could tell Stacey was quickly pulling away from me (surprise . . .surprise). The run course was a two loop hilly course and it seemed to take forever to get to the first mile . . . f. .o . .r . .e. . v . .e . .r. I was really starting to worry the run entire run would drag on like this but then somehow I settled in and the miles started to fly by. I think it helped that I was starting to see some of my friends out on the course. They looked so relaxed and strong, I just tried to follow their lead and give ‘em a cheer. As I headed out to the second loop I heard one of my favorite song blaring from the trunk of a spectator’s car. It really put a pep in my step. As I ran in fear for being run down I was reminded of the lyrics:

"You can be better than that - Don't let it get the better of you”

I ultimately felt much better on the second lap even when the ginormous hill came between me and the finish, I was ready to tackle it. My run split turned out to be my 2nd fastest 10K ever. I will take that. So ended up finishing a solid second and the girl I thought would pop out of every corner and pass me, never did.


And then the confusion: So I was dilly-dallying somewhere – probably just coming back from packing my car – when the awards presentation started. As a result I missed the race director announce my name and place but it seemed like he announced Stacey’s after mine. By the time I realized it, the announcer had called all three names of the top females. Stacey was not there to pick up her award and Amie did not take the podium so neither did I. There was some confusion about the medals and no one asked about mine so I just kind of meandered off. The medal I received was definitely not silver and looking back at it I noticed scrolled across the top the words “Third Place.” Third place? There was a girl ahead of us!?!

>Funny story: I was at a race once and when I came out of T2 a friend of mine informed me I was in 2nd place. I yelled no way thinking I was in third place having been smoked by a girl on the bike course and pointing at this person ahead of me with a slight frame, a tri top rolled up like a sports bra, speedo, and bouncing curly hair with frosted tips. I was then informed this “girl” was actually a boy. Oops – high five for androgyny! Sometimes late at night I wake up and wonder if he heard that conversation.I also wake up and wonder about Mr. Visor's poo problem but I will have to save that story for another day.<

Anyhoots, I stayed to watch several of the other athletes receive their awards but after about 10 minutes I could not stand it any longer and I went to recheck the preliminary results. Searching through the finishers, the first female name I can across was mine. Whaaahwhat? Having finished 2nd but standing there with the third place medal I find out I was actually awarded first place? It turns out the first place finisher received a 2 minute penalty and since I finished 1:52 behind her, I narrowly edged her out for the win. This girl smoked me by close to two minutes on the run course alone! There was a clear winner out on the course but it wasn’t me.

Confused and elbow clapping (real display of talent)
Overall I am pleased with my race effort, especially coming off of a race like Muncie but I will admit I am a bit disappointed in my splits. I think these next couple of weeks are going to be a bit of a challenge for me. I have reached the portion of my season where building endurance has passed so now I have to focus on building speed. Building speed is hard work and I don’t like it (or maybe I love it . . . yeah that's the ticket, yeah).

But now the important stuff! 24 Hours of Booty!

PS. Vespa, thanks for the kick in the pants!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Muncie 70.3

And then there was Muncie. 2011 is the first year of the Muncie 70.3 but the race itself has over 30 years of history as the Muncie Endurothon. Why did I pick Munice? My goal this year was to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships. I knew they had changed the location of the championships from Clearwater, FL to Las Vegas, NV and I was excited about the new venue and the rumor of the new and very challenging course. I started off the season without the knowledge that they had also changed the date so initially I looked into racing in the Augusta 70.3 for a qualifying slot. When I realized the date change was not going to work with the Augusta race I looked into alternates. This is when I noticed the race in Muncie, just an hour northeast of Indianapolis where my brother lives with his family. I could not pass up the opportunity to pet two dogs with one hand (the animal friendly version of the saying) by visiting family and racing at the same time. Thanks to an entry fee donation from my mom I was excited to sign up for the inaugural Ironman Muncie 70.3.

Maisie communicating how
she feels about spectating.  
Like most race mornings it started early. 4AM alarm and 4:30 departure time would give us plenty of time to get to the race site. It is about an hour drive to Muncie from Indianapolis and a 6:30 sprint triathlon start time meant we had to get there at least 2 hours before my wave hit the water. Luckily my brother was ready and willing to get up early and cart me to the race site. For a race with 1800 participants there was surprisingly plenty of parking and little to no race traffic to delay our arrival. Setting up my transition was uneventful so I was left with more than enough time to fret about my outfit for the day. I think I made 15 laps around the race site evaluating porto-potty lines, checking my transition, looking for Graeme, looking for water, warming up in the lake, changing my outfit, etc. I should have been ready when the cannon went off to start the first heat of pro men but I was way too busy dilly-dallying. The whole wave start was a bit of a surprise to me. I scowered the athlete's guide and it never mentioned a wave start. I just figured it would be a mass start with a pro wave. Silly me. I was a little dismayed to find I would be one of the last waves to start and especially the last female wave to take the plunge. The late start meant there would be a lot of people ahead of me but most importantly it meant it would be hotter and sunnier when I found my way onto the run course. BUT everyone has to race the same race and everyone in my heat was facing the same challenges so when the florescent yellow caps moved toward the start line I, too, bellied up to the bar (one Shirley Temple on the rocks, please!).

Swim - 29.16
The knee deep in-water start gave me the opportunity to execute a couple of dolphin dives and establish an early lead among my heat. I caught the majority of the next heat ahead of me before we hit the first turn buoy. It was somewhat game-like to picking off cap colors one wave at a time, something like a combination of Frogger and Bejeweled. The good news is I had to pay a lot less attention to sighting as the bobbing heads in front of me offered a more than adequate guide towards the finish. Despite the late start, this was one of the smoothest swims I have had in a race. No one clocked me and no one tested my patience - as long as I kept my eye out for the sidestroke-breaststokers it was pretty smooth to navigate.

T1 - 1.35

Bike - 2.30.00
Hoping on the bike I felt calm, relaxed and refreshed. It did not feel nearly as hot as it was so I focused on meeting my nutrition targets and not pushing too hard on the first half of the course. The bike course rolled through the very rural areas surrounding the reservoir. Everyone said it was flat as a pancake. While it was not hilly by any means it still wasn’t as flat as the lowcountry! Like the lowcountry, however, the biggest challenge was the wind. At any given moment you either had a headwind or a tailwind. The trick was not pushing too hard against the headwind but saving your energy to really push it with the tailwind. Since we had such a strong headwind as we headed south along the west shore of the reservoir, I knew after the turn around I would have a long stretch of tailwind heading back north. I really saved up for this stretch and worked it. By the time I got to the 50 mile mark and I was feeling great and ready to hit the run.  

T2 - 1.39

Run - 1.43.36
Catching some air with
my trademark gangsta lean
I felt pretty good coming off the bike into T2. I was very surprised to find T2 deserted. There were very few bikes on the racks and even fewer racers milling about. The Muncie MultiSport website said a hat on the run was a must have. Mr Visor would have been proud as I ALMOST broke down and bought a $23 visor at the expo but ultimately I did not. I just couldn't do it. So my T2 was just a matter of getting my shoes and socks and taking off. The first couple felt pretty good but I started to feel those early warning signs of cramping. The run course was really hot so I knew I had to get on top of any potentially debilitating cramps so I ended up taking all the salt and Endurolyte tablets I had left. I did not have many left to begin with so by mile 4 they were all gone. You have to treat cramping like you treat the competition; you can't just run side by side you have to be ahead! I could get ahead of any cramping issues then I could just rely on the course nutrition the rest of the way. Luckily the cramping twinges did subside and I finished the run cramp free. I also like to pat my back here and say this is the first 1/2 ironman I have competed in where I did not stop and walk. I usually end up walking at least every even rest stop or all the rest stops, depending. I also refused to look at my watch. I am a very conscientious that my run is my weakest leg. At White Lake I was watching my run pace like a hawk and I think when I started to see my pace slipping my confidence just tanked. So on this run, I check my watch periodically but I forced myself to quit with the calculations so I would not find my confidence dropping with my pace. All the little games I played worked and I crossed the finish line feeling good and confident.
Total - 4:46:01, 1st 30-34, 3rd overall