Saturday, October 25, 2014

Catching Up



Good morning from Miami!
It has been some time since I have been on Blogger but a lot has been going on for me. It is amazing how quickly time flies. We are nearing the end of October but it does not seem that long ago when I decided, on a whim, to apply for another job. It was the beginning of September. Two weeks later I accepted a position with the US Probation Office in Charlotte and handed my resignation to my supervisor at CMPD. Since then everything else has been a blur. I closed out my caseload at CMPD and walked into the US Probation Office hoping to have the skills and experience to effectively and efficiently run the new regional lab. During the transition I placed a lot on the back burner, my friends, my training, my blogging.

I had a good race in New Albany but it was not quite the race I was hoping for. I struggled a bit on the swim, decided not to eat on the bike, and despite the rolling hills my run was completely flat. Following the race my body felt older than its years and my motivation was at its lowest. After struggling to answer some big questions regarding my goals in triathlon an insightful conversation with James Haycraft helped me realize my disappointment was simply a result of my expectations.

I had hoped to race with REV3, in fact I planned a pretty aggressive season around their schedule, but when they announced they would no longer be supporting a pro field I had to shift gears. Tomorrow will be my 5th race of the season which is quite a deviation from the 8+ races a year I usually do. As a result I have been putting a lot more pressure on my training and racing and not allowing myself to have more fun it. I also let my triathlon career overshadow my forensic career. One day a colleague complimented me on a lecture I gave a group and asked me if I would consider giving the lecture on a regular basis and it made me realize that while I am a good triathlete I am a much better forensic chemist. Triathlon will never become my livelihood. And that's ok with me. I help put bad people in prison or help keep them there, which is really ok with me too. Shifting my expectations even just slightly gave me the confidence to apply for a position to run my own lab and get a little more enjoyment out of triathlon.

So here I am in Miami on the eve of my final race of the season, Miami 70.3. We flew in yesterday to a day of wind and rain but I woke up this morning to sunny skies and a gentle ocean breeze. I am excited to be here and I am excited to race tomorrow. I have no idea what kind of race I am going to have but part of me doesn't care. Going into the race without the burden of expectations is incredibly liberating. While my fitness level may not be exactly where I want it, I am exactly where I want to be. I am happy with my decision to leave to CMPD and embark on a new endeavor, to continue to train and compete against the fittest athletes in the world, and to come to a place like Miami where the sun is warm, the people are hot, and the coffee is intense.

My first of perhaps many Cortaditos

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Taco Tuesday

Night sky at Phat Burrito

Tuesday nights mean two things to me:

  1. Group ride
  2. Taco/Phat Tuesday
I have been riding every Tuesday for about four years now. Triathlon season is slowly coming to a close and cycling season officially ended with last weekend's High Point Cycling Classic. Yes obviously there is quite a bit of seasonal ebb and flow to the local group rides but last night I started the ride with about 7 people, a far cry from the regular 20+ . By the end of the ride there were a mere 4 of us. By 7 PM we all had our blinking lights on. I took my sunglasses off at 7:15. The rider next to me pointed out we are just as close to the shortest day of the year as we are from the longest day of the year. I cried a little inside. We had already taken one short cut and as we pedaled in we contemplated the merits of adding another short cut next week. I cried inside . . . again. 

Alas.

Another season has passed and the initial excitement of long hot summer evenings pounding it out on a brutal group ride has long petered out . . . but this is not what I reflected on as I sat alone on the patio of Phat Burrito. I was reminded of the first post ride Taco Tuesdays I went to. At first there were only about 3 or 4 of us on any given night. Over time Taco Tuesday grew to 8+. A mix of riders, significant others, and friends all gathered together to enjoy bad tacos (and I am not kidding when I say bad tacos. The place ended up going out of business. What Mexican restaurant goes out of business?) Every week involved a slightly different group of folks. We were a mix of salty, sweaty, and happy. It was grand. It was great. It was a good time.

I no longer see the faces that comprised the backbone of what once was the famous Taco Tuesday. And I am not just talking about on Tuesday nights. I am talking about ever.

On the surface this seemed like such a sad revelation. Over time priorities change. People change. Circumstances change. I stay the same. But on further reflection I realized this is a good thing. This is the very nature of triathlon.

I love training for triathlons because I train in three different disciplines. After a lifetime of swimming this appeals to me. I am rarely bored. When I get tired of swimming I run. When I get tired of biking I run. When I get tired of running I run  . . . wait a minute . . . 

But the downside of triathlon is the amount of turnover in the sport. People come and people go. It is hard to swim, bike, and run all the time. Maintaining a certain level of fitness in all three sports takes time, energy, and commitment. I get it but I still miss the people who have entered and left my life because of triathlon. These people never would have crossed my path if it was not for this sport. And for that I am very thankful . . . so much so I finished my quesadilla got a cupcake to celebrate. 

Vanilla on vanilla


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Iron Sherpa I am not

Most of you already know that I went to Cozumel last year. Old news, right? Right. I bet you didn't know I learned a little about myself in Cozumel:
  1. Drinking margaritas 5 days straight is pretty much my limit
  2. I don't do shots. Ever. 
  3. I am not a good "Iron Sherpa"
Last year I also went to watch IM Louisville. Luckily I was there to cheer. My only duties were to dress in something banana related and cheer on the athletes. Technically James, Tim, and I were to dress like the peanut butter and jelly banana man. Tim had the banana covered and James's metallic purple grape-smuggler covered the jelly leaving me with the peanut butter. Um, no thanks. Man, I love cheering. 


Cheering dream team
Being an "Iron Sherpa", however, is an entirely different beast. When you are the sherpa you walk a fine line of supporting your athlete without crowding him. You must make sure he has all his ducks in a row without becoming OCD about the race preparations. You must bolster his confidence while maintaining a light nonchalant attitude towards the 10+ hour endurance event about to take place. You must prepare a plan of action so you will see and cheer for your athlete just when he needs it. Each day that line gets a bit thinner as the excitement, anxiety, and trepidation swirl wildly in a cauldron only MacBeth's three witches could be proud of. 

Well there are a few Ironmans around the corner, IM Mont-Tremblant, IM Louisville, IM Chattanooga, and IM Florida, just to name a few. I know some of you are racing but I bet even more of you are a member of an iron-sherpa support team. Being an iron-sherpa is nothing to take lightly. It is not all fun and games and puppy dog tails. It involves hard work, early mornings, long days, temperamental athletes . . . it is a curse and a privilege. 

Tim Ferguson, along with Charlotte locals John Behme, Scott Woodbury, and Katie Howard, are racing IM Mont-Tremblant this Sunday. Tim's dad, affectionately known as THE IRONMAN SHERPA, will be there and I have no doubt he will be ring leader for the entire support crew. This man has sherpa-ing down to a science. I asked Tim if he and Jay would not mind sharing a few secrets on how to be a good sherpa. 

Get out your pens and brand-spankin new spiral bound notebooks. THE man has spoken:

1.  You have to wear cool triathlon stuff to the event.  Being mistaken for an event official is the highest honor achievable by a Sherpa.  Keep in mind being yelled at by motorists, for directing traffic inadequately, comes with the territory.

2.  Mapquest expertise is a must.  Maneuvering through 20 miles of backstreets and alleys, in order to get to the next mile marker before your athlete arrives, is only possible by the most experienced and prepared Sherpas.

3.  Knowing how to vary automotive speed to road conditions and traffic volume takes coordination and a disdain for rules which are frequently abused and sometime violated.  I once caused a car to require immediate mechanical repair.  Not mine - my brothers, who was following my every move in his car (rookie . . .). But only an Ultimate Sherpa would find him a repair shop, send him on his way, and not miss cheering for the athlete at the next appointed mile marker.


4.  A Sherpa must be in good shape.  It is one thing to carry the athlete's transition bags, gear, tire pumps and other assorted paraphernalia.  It is entirely another to run 3 miles with the backpack, the pump, the athletes wife, and retrieve our parked car in order to meet the athlete with cheers and accolades at mile 17 of the bike course. Start training early. Shuttles wait for no one, especially not spectators (not that I consider myself just a spectator).

5.  A GREAT Sherpa can see his athlete start the swim, cheer for him at three different mile markers on the bike course, three different mile markers on the run course, and see the athlete triumphantly cross the finish line with a personal best.  And this was for a 70.3 and a point-to-point race..........

6.  Knowing what to say and when to say it, is something every Sherpa learns and continues to learn with each race.  For example, (even though you may not have known that your athlete was engaged in a bike wreck at an aid station and suffered 5th degree road rash on his shoulder, back and hip) when you first see him on the run, don't yell at him, "COME ON! YOUR RUNNING FORM, YOUR RUNNING FORM!  Oh crap, is that blood?....uh, sorry...."


7.  Mostly, just listen to your athlete and do as your told.  During pre-race preparations, don't take offense to anything said or mumbled in your direction by the athlete.  He/She is generally unaware of the obstacles you and your fellow Sherpas are about to encounter in the often misunderstood World of The Sherpa.

Pretty awesome, right?  I think the thing I remember most about my dad becoming a "Sherpa" was before Augusta in 2011.  This was the year where I got a coach and was really trying to improve and make an effort to be a better triathlete.  I remember my parents driving up from Atlanta and my dad had asked for the race course maps. After we got back to the hotel from dinner, my dad sat in his car and mapped out points along the route on his GPS. There were 2 different spots on the bike course that next day where I was shocked to see them, all because my dad had made it a point to really develop a plan.  Now, while I do my normal pre-race preparations of my bike and my gear, my dad has a local paper map as well as the course maps and spends time developing a game plan of his own.  It's quite in-depth and I can assure you that he takes it as seriously as I do my race.  I could not ask for more from a Sherpa.

The best ironman sherpas in the business

Good luck guys! I am excited to sit at my computer and track you. ALL. DAY. LONG.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

OVER!

It's OVER!


I was going to post to the blog this morning but I stepped out of my house and into the rain only to find my car's back tire was flat. Awwwww man. The other weekend I got my car cleaned. I even vacuumed and wiped down the inside. I carry a lot of crap in my car so I really need to do this more often than every 4 years. Needless to say I was feeling pretty proud of myself until my battery died on my way home. I got a jump and headed to the nearest AutoZone to have the battery checked out crossing my fingers I did not have a bad alternator on my hands. Luckily my battery was just past its prime and I got a new one paying extra for a 5 year warranty, you know, because I am just so responsible. Now I have a new tire. I should never have cleaned my car. 

Anyhoots, the purpose of this blog is to inform you it's over. My mid-season break officially came to a close Sunday evening. Monday morning I woke up and resumed my regularly scheduled workouts. Swim-run, run-bike, swim-run, run-run, run-bike, swim-bike-run, bike-run, etc. The concept of a mid-season break was foreign to me until I started working with Brian at Accelerate3. Now it is something I look forward to during my season. It is a lot easier to keep the intensity and motivation high when I have something to look forward to and a little break to come off of. I know a lot of people are gearing up for an end of the season ironman and a lot of those same people are struggling being too far away to taper but too close to ease up on the training. The end is near my friends! Now is a great time to visualize your race and remind yourself the hard work you have put in has made you fitter, stronger, and ready to tackle that last little bit of training. 

As for me, I just signed up for Miami 70.3 so I will be gearing up for a big block of training as we enter the fall. I have been looking for a fall race and suddenly everything came together to make Miami happen. I just love it when a plan comes together! 

I do! I do!
Despite my car troubles I am pretty freaking giddy. I am excited to train. I am excited to race. I am excited to go to Miami.  I have only been to Miami once and all I remember is going dancing in my favorite purple one shoulder top. I am pretty sure it had a sparkle component to it too. Hmmmmm . . . purple . . . sparkles . . . I no longer own any one shoulder attire, purple or otherwise, so here's to keeping it classy!

I would love to do another themed sequence of posts on Instagram. Let me know if you have any ideas!

As for you, mid-season break . . .
It.
Is.
OVER!

Friday, July 25, 2014

#wko4days

I have today off from all workouts. Since my last day off I have completed a total of #97 workouts. I kept a running tab of my training on Instagram. I know you all aren't #grammers so I hate you missed out! I am not writing this to brag; 97 workouts in a row is both fun and stressful. I will admit there were some highs and some pretty low lows along the way. I don't remember where and when I came up with the idea to keep a running tally of my workouts but I liked the idea of allowing people to connect with what I was doing on a daily basis. The sport can be pretty lonely and the more specific the training gets the lonelier it becomes, womp womp. When I received my first 2-week block from my coach I counted 30 workouts. I was a little intimated but I figured it was just a big training block. Then I received my next calendar and another 30 workouts. After a difficult trail run when I could no longer stomach the idea of another run on the roads, I started the count on IG to make something fun out of something that seemed to be overwhelming. The past 5-6 weeks probably contain the most work I have ever done under Accelerate3 and even though I am racing this weekend I am not expecting to see any major gains and I am not marching up to Ohio with an I-deserve-to-have-a-great-race attitude because breakthroughs just don't happen. People don't become great athletes after one good workout or one intense training block.. Great athletes are made after years of consistent dedicated training. This, my friends, is the very non-glamorous side of being good at something.













For those who followed me on my journey, THANK YOU. Your words of encouragement might seem trivial on a social site such as Instagram but each one brought a smile to my face and put a little extra pep in my step. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Coconut Rice Pudding

Don’t ask me why but I have been having a major craving for rice pudding. Most of it is because I am not getting enough calories at lunch. When I am at work there isn’t much I can do to satisfy my sweet-tooth while getting in good calories as opposed to crap calories. At some point I made up my mind that a vegan rice pudding was the answer. After sorting through a number of recipes, I threw together one of my own using simple ingredients I have available in my cupboard:

photo 1 (2)

- 1 bag of boil-in-bag brown rice (because I am lazy or 2c. of cooked rice for you over-achievers)

- 1 can of coconut milk

- 1/4c. of coconut sugar

- 1/2c. raisins

- 1/4c. shredded coconut

-1/2tsp. each of cinnamon and ginger

-1tsp vanilla

While the rice was boiling I heated the coconut milk gently over the medium/low setting. I added the raisins and coconut to give them time to plump and soften. I added the cooked rice and spices and cooked the mixture over low heat until the majority of the milk had been absorbed. I turned off the heat and added the vanilla. I allowed the mixture to sit briefly before I packed the stash in small containers for eating on the go.

photo 3 (2)

If you do not have coconut sugar you can omit the sugar entirely or use plain sugar. I decided to use the coconut sugar since it has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. That just means I satisfy my sweet tooth without creating a spike in my blood sugar. The rice pudding would have been the traditional white color if I had opted to use regular sugar but the coconut sugar really compliments the nutty flavor of the brown rice. I am going to call it a winning combo.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Race Report: Ironman Raleigh 70.3

Ahhhhh . . . the Raleigh race report. I was pretty excited about this race and I was equally excited about writing my race report. Now, more than, oh a month later, not so much. I spent the Monday after the race relaxing at my Dad's house in Raleigh. Unfortunately by the time I drove back to Charlotte I had developed the mother of all sore throats and spent the night tossing and turning with fever sweats. Stuck at home for two days in a fever induced delirium, I made a lot of questionable decisions. Washing (and ruining) 5 pure silk drapes pretty much exemplifies what happens when I am left to my devices and not exactly thinking clearly. In hindsight, I should have written my race report at the height of my fever. I bet it would have been a lot more entertaining.


I decided not to drive to Raleigh until Saturday morning before the race. I did not get a lot of scheduled down time in the week leading into the race and I really don't enjoy trying to get everything together Friday after work AND then hitting the road. I woke up Saturday morning, enjoyed a nice breakfast, and put some finishing touches on my gear. After a short rain shower blew through Charlotte I kissed my cats and hit the road.

While driving to Raleigh I made the executive decision to drive straight to the swim and then drive the bike course into town and to packet pick up. While it was great to see the entire course, driving 56 miles takes a really long time and is quite boring, especially after 2.5 hours of driving. The course seemed to showcase NC's finest foothills and lake views. It snaked through the countryside and dipped into the forests before emerging loud and proud in the middle of downtown. Even though I grew up in Raleigh, I recognized none of it. Hahaha, oh well.

I spent the rest of the day gathering stuff and dropping it all off again. And by rest of the day I really mean all day. I was once again reminded why point-to-point races are everyone's favorite . . . but not mine.

T1 and the start of the swim at Jordan Lake
Swim:
I wasn't expecting the swim to be wetsuit legal, at least for the pro field, but I learned the day before WTC has a different wetsuit cut off temperature than USAT.  This sparked quite a bit of confusion at the pro meeting the day before but in case you are curious WTC wetsuit temperature is 76.1 for all fields. For all USAT sanctioned events the cut off is 78 degrees for age group fields and 68 degrees for all swims under 3K in the elite field. Seems silly but I don't make the rules, I just have to follow them.

Despite having a swim background, I don't hate wetsuits. Wetsuits are fast, especially my Blueseventy Helix, but they also make swimming quite a bit easier. The flotation they provide takes a lot of stress off your core, hips, and legs. In short, wetsuits make it easier for everyone. However, when you combine a hard effort, borderline temperature conditions, and a full sleeve wetsuit things get toasty and in my opinion, unpleasant. Quite a bit different from my swim in Chattanooga!

Nothing but wetsuit love right there
I was in the water with plenty of time to warm-up. The water was calm and the course was a straight forward two-turn triangular shape. No one seemed happy to be in a wetsuit and for a moment I enjoyed being around ladies who were equally enthused by the day's wetsuit swim. Nonetheless we quit our bitchin' in time for the count down and I took off in my customary sorta-pseudo-swim sprint. I was with the lead pack of ladies until the girl in front of me dropped off. Since I was right behind her I could not get around her fast enough to latch back on. This, folks, is why it is better to swim off to someone's side rather than their feet (but ultimately you do whatever you can). At the time I remember thinking how mass start swims are a lot like bike racing. It is all about being in the right place at the right time and being prepared to tap into your fitness when required.

The leader had a SUP lead which I could sight and follow but the lead was growing and I was starting to feel sick to my stomach. My legs felt hot and I stopped trying to kick.  I felt so gross. I excited the swim feeling spent but still had to run up the hill to transition. I only caught a glimpse of one of the ladies ahead me exiting on her bike. I struggled a bit to get through transition but once I did I was happy to let the air cool my core as I headed out on the bike course.

Bike:
Since I painstakingly drove the bike course the day before I had a pretty good idea of what to expect. I did not research the weather, however, and did not anticipate a headwind for most of the course. I was given a target power number and I was eager to see if I could still hit it given my new bike position. I have been working with James Haycraft on my position and once we got it dialed in we had to make some small equipment changes. Some of which I tried to do myself resulting in the fork falling out of my head tube right before I was supposed to help lead at the Carolina Half course preview ride in Davidson. I learned my lesson and took Sam to Inside Out Sports the week prior to the race and let James and Greg handle the last minute tweaking and race prep.

My custom Cervelo P2 thanks to a couple of auto decals
Linsey Corbin's custom Trek Speed Concept (probs not auto decals)
I was a little nervous about the bike course or my ability to ride the course without getting a drafting/blocking penalty. The race officials were very adamant about enforcing the rules. Each rider has a 10m drafting zone beginning at the front of his/her bike wheel and extending about 9 meters back. If you get in that 10m drafting zone you have to pass and if in passing you get into someone else's drafting zone you have to pass them too so if there is a long line of riders you have to pass everyone . . . in one go. Ouch! They also discouraged slipstreaming and a whole long list of other tactics commonly used in racing. I did my best to keep a low profile but I ended up catching up with another female who was riding the hills hard and the flats easy. This was pretty much the opposite of how I was riding. I was having a hard time deciding what to do. I did not want to blow myself up going too hard on a hill but I was getting tired of soft pedaling the flats. She was also riding on the left side of the lane. An official rode behind her forever and I thought for sure she would get a blocking penalty because I could not pass her on her left without crossing the yellow line. She didn't. I guess WTC picks and chooses when they will enforce the rules.  Eventually Linsey Corbin passed us and I decided to make my move. My motivation? I wanted to tell Tim Ferguson I rode with Linsey Corbin. I counted each minute so I could tell Tim all about it. 43.

My kit has no pockets so the taking
of this picture was well timed.
Eventually I got stuck behind a dude during intervals on the course (dudes are so freaking weird). I am not a fan of wasting the energy of going back and forth with another racer and since I was starting to catch some of the ladies ahead of me I was confident and content in my positioning. Coming into the city was mostly uphill and as the wind started to pick up I realized just how much I wanted to get off my bike. It is funny how you can hit mile 50 and feel this sense of relief, "pheeeeeeew almost done! I made it!" and then have the last 20 minutes just crush you. Thanks Raleigh! Coming into the city I had to get over some tough hills and the wind was dead set against making it easy. While I was more than ready to get off my bike I was also thankful I had not pushed the pace early in the ride. I really needed my legs to get up those last three hills and I ended up coming into transition with 3 other ladies. Of course I was the last one to leave transition . . . I still have some work to do there. I blame the socks.



Run:
Oh my gawd, heading out onto the run my legs felt so heavy. The other girls were already gone and I was struggling to get my feet off the ground. The new run course consisted of two loops with the first half of each loop heading up a long low grade hill. After seeing my mom, dad, and stepmom out on the course I felt pretty alone. Luckily some of the spectators I knew from back in the day started to cheer for me after seeing the "LEISER" scrolled across my butt. While I was having trouble locking in on faces from the depths of my very own personal hurt locker the crowd's energy put a HUGE pep in my step and by the second loop I was feeling much much better. I was feeling light on my feet as my legs were finally starting to turn over. I was also starting to see some of my friends and teammates from all over NC. It was really cool to encounter one familiar face after another. The sun was finally shining in full force but the breeze kept the temperatures from truly escalating. And guess what!! I passed someone! In the last quarter mile I passed a competitor . . . on the run . . . in a race! Oh yeah!

Go ICE and Team Ferguson!
I wish I could have pulled my run together a little earlier but overall I am happy with my race. Every race is a challenge and presents a new opportunity to learn something about myself. While I am a little disappointed with my position coming out of the swim I challenged myself to be a little more aggressive on the bike. Just because I do not like to yo-yo with other athletes on the course does not me I am content to let the race ride away from me. I was still smart and allowed my watts to slowly build over the course. I probably could have been a bit smarter the last 6 miles but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and that was all I was focused on. Last year I would have been super happy with my run and the fact that I am slightly disappointed shows just how far I have come. Still work to do but I am on it. Next up Challenge New Albany!

Check out my interview after the race! I had just just finished and could barely talk. Thanks guys.


I just want to take a second to thank my family to trekking out to the race course. Spectating is both hard and exhausting. It is probably worse than spectating during my swimming days -standing out in the heat for hours only to catch a glimpse of me rolling by for a second or two . . . that's dedication. I would also like to thanks Inside Out Sports for all their support. I rely heavily on James, Melissa, and Greg to get me ready for race day. Charlotte is so fortunate to have a store that specializes in making you a better triathlete. I do not want to spend all my money on products that are all flare and no function. Their combined experience and knowledge is unparalleled.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Caturnalia: Spoiled

In an ideal world all homeless cats would be rescued by a loving home and this spoiled:



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Caturnalia: Sleepers

You are likely one of three kinds of sleepers: on the back, spooning on your side, or drooling on your stomach. Cats are two kinds of sleepers: legs all in or legs all out. 


Friday, May 30, 2014

A treatise on confidence

This treatise is a response to James Haycraft's "Sprintitude" post on his blog. I will be honest -and I hope James doesn't kill me- but when you train a lot with the same people you often get a very good idea of their strengths and weaknesses. And if you are paying attention you might even receive some insight into where they are most confidence and where they are not. I often see two very different sides of James. I have seen James attack a sprint hill like a cat stalks his prey. He watches the other cyclists try to position themselves for an easy win - they take off eager to create a breakaway. James stays back pedaling with ease, a slight grin turning up the corners of his mouth. The cyclists are 5 feet away, 10 feet away, 15 feet away, 20 feet away . . . and all I am doing is watching and thinking, he can't do it, there's no way he can bridge that gap, he waited too long, so-and-so is too strong . . . While I am forming this string of negative thoughts, James attacks. He jumps out of his saddle, reels in his prey, and the gap is bridged. Once caught, his prey struggles to grasp the remains of a lead that at one time seemed insurmountable only to become the first loser. I am sorry, sir, but you just got Haycrafted.

And then there is the James that shows up to swim practice. He gets to the pool on time but then dillydallies on deck for another 10-15 minutes before getting in. He swims the 1000+ warm up and starts the "heart-rate" set which is basically another 800-1000 where you are expected to go from warm-up pace to all out sprint pace. [As an aside, this is my favorite part of practice because the whole masters group does this together. Regardless of our abilities, we swim as one. Pretty cool.] Ready or not, it is time for the main set. James starts at the back and steadily moves up the line as the older over-zealous masters swimmers out pace themselves. But then something happens. Instead of making his way to the front and flourishing, James is out of the water and sitting slumped on the bleachers overlooking the rest of us as we struggle to make the interval. He shakes his head slowly when I look at him quizzically and then he is gone. Not every workout is going to be a breakthrough but when this happens more often that not, something is definitely up.

So how does one person oooooze confidence Tuesday night and be completely void of it Wednesday morning? When I asked James this very question the answer came down to what he believes to be true before initiating each action. When sprinting he channels his "sprintitude" but when swimming he enters a downward spiral of doubt and lack of motivation.

Triathlon is a tough sport on the body but it is even a tougher sport on the mind. Everyone looks fit. Everyone trains hard. Everyone has strengths and, believe it or not, everyone has weaknesses. What would happen if everyone approached his/her weaknesses in the same fashion and his/her strengths?

The conversation with James reminded me of a TED talk I watched a long time ago. My short attention span makes watching TED talks an ideal past time. It is a 20 minute talk on the influence of body language on confidence. In a nutshell, when you use body language that portrays confidence you ultimately are more confident.


Let's take athletics out of the equation just because there are too many variables, ie. genetics, coaching, training, time availability, dedication, yada yada yada. Now what if I am preparing to go to a party. Normally I am shy, awkward, and self-conscious of my lack/desire of fashion sense (Why do I drop $80 on a pair of bib shorts but can't bring myself to go shopping real clothes and a decent pair of shoes??) As a consequence I feel intimidated and subsequently less outgoing. What if I take a second and tell myself, "I am going to be the best looking girl at this party." Obviously that is not going to be true - there are some pretty damn good looking people in Charlotte - but what if I tell myself that anyway? I might walk in the door more confident. I might be apt to stand a little taller and make direct eye contact. My body language might just reflect a person who is calm and confident . . . AND approachable so any one of those ridiculously good looking gentlemen I spy over there will come talk to me and not the overly tanned creeper with the gold chain and patchy chest hair.


So I encourage you, all of you, to take a power pose or phrase and "fake it until you make it." Instead of belittling your abilities, embrace them. Go ahead and tell yourself you are unbeatable. Convince yourself you are the prettiest girl at the party, in Charlotte, in NC, in the entire universe. Who cares what you tell yourself but by all means hold your head high and quit beating down everything about you that makes you amazing.

Ahhhhh but there is a caveat! Use your power pose to gain confidence but don't get crushed under its weight. If telling yourself, "I will win this sprint" puts you in a position to perform at your highest potential but you don't actually win, let's not turn to the bottle in defeat.  Don't fill your head with unrealistic expectations and then walk away from your dreams in frustration. Keep perspective of the journey and only be mindful of the destination. Running is my weakness but that does not mean I am a bad runner. You know what it does mean? My potential for improvement is highest in running and this is exactly what I tell myself before every single run.

Which reminds me of a few words I received from a friend last year I keep posted on my wall at work:























Tru. Dat.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Caturnalia: She's not heavy she's my sister

Why Cali does this to poor Mimi is beyond me. She certainly can't do it to Smudge or Coda. They would annihilate her. I guess Mimi really is the low girl on the totem pole. 

And Cali is fat.


You still alive under there?


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Chattanooga



As I mentioned last week, I headed to Chattanooga for the weekend to swim in the USMS National Open Water Championships as well as to run and ride the IM Chattanooga course.

James, Tim, and I left the Queen City Friday night and headed west with clear eyes and full hearts. Since there is no direct way to Chattanooga we had two choices, drive through Atlanta or drive through Asheville. The combination of Friday night and rush hour made the choice very easy . . .

We arrived  to Asheville just as the sun was going down. Along with the sun, the temperature was dropping dramatically. Significantly under dressed, we got out of the car and went for a casual jog along the famous Wedge run route which is a flat out-and-back from the Wedge Brewery along the French Broad River. It is pretty spectacular, especially with a sunset.

Starting to feel cold and hungry, we dropped into a local restaurant I found highly recommended on Yelp, The White Duck Taco Shop. I will be the first to admit you just don't know what you're gonna get in Asheville but this place served up some seriously delicious tacos. I had the Banh Mi tofu taco and the special Mushroom and Potato taco. The Banh Mi was incredible.


Damage control not needed
When we finally arrived to Chattanooga it was down right cold. Like 50 degree cold. I was too tired to dwell on this and fell fast asleep with little on my mind except the potential to oversleep in the AM.

Silly. Me.

I got up relatively early considering our late arrival so I could do my regular routine. Coffee - check. Small breakfast for the belly - check. Warm up on course - nope. We drove the one mile to the start very aware the temps had yet to break the 50 degree mark and it was beginning to rain. Luckily I thought to bring my Blueseventy warm ups but I still envied the swimmers walking around in their parkas and wetsuits. Needless to say, getting in the Tennessee River to "warm up" wasn't going to happen. Instead of warming up I sent angry text messages to Jeremy Gregory for convincing me to sign up. Some people were saying the water was hovering around 68 degrees, others claimed it to be a balmy 72. Honestly, at that point it really didn't matter. I put on my brand spankin' new Blueseventy NeroTX. I was given two - an orange and a black one and was very disappointed when the orange one was just a tad too big. {insert sad face}

Getting in the water actually wasn't that bad. Since the water was warmer than the air the river felt comfortable as I swam over to the start line. I was slow getting in so I did not have long to wait before the gun went off and since swimmers have more sense than triathletes there was no real initial sprint to take my breath away. We started our swim against the current and I was pretty happy with my position, near the front and more or less in the middle. Currents are the weakest close to the shore so I slowly made my way in the direction as the swimmers thinned out a bit. Eventually I got to be about a body length behind a woman who was swimming a pace I was pretty comfortable with for the first loop. Then this behemoth of a gentleman came sailing my way throwing his weight around with every stroke. At times I was convinced he alone was going to drown me. He would get about 3 feet away and then some barreling back until he was snuggling in my armpit. He would not go away and hung around through to the second loop until he finally dropped back (ugh, dudes). Even though I never felt cold, I did not feel all that great starting the second loop. I was swimming ok but I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I was swimming . . . but . . . I . . . wasn't. The pod in front of me wasn't breaking away but I was just going through the motions. Rounding the last turn, however, I felt like my body was dangling in the water. I suddenly realized I could not feel anything from the knee down and I needed this swim to be over. The competitive fire went out and I just needed to get out. When I finally got to the finish ramp I very gingerly exited the water and awkwardly made my way to the timing mat. All the volunteers were asking me if I was ok but all I could think about was getting to my towel and warm clothes. Once I got to my stuff several volunteers descended on me with hand warmers, hats, and hot chocolate. Before I knew it the race doctor was there and I was being rushed to the changing tent where I was stripped from my suit, placed in several layers of clothing, and ushered to a warm car. It took at least 15 minutes before I could hold a cup pf hot water without burning my hands and I was in the car for 30 minutes before the doctor would release me. For the rest of the day several volunteers stopped to tell me how much better I looked. I apparently I looked pretty awful coming out of the water. I hope there aren't any pictures to document my glamorous exit. It is scary how you can completely lose your sense of reality.

I ended up doing the 2.4 mile swim in 54 mins and getting 3rd in my age group. Since the swim was both with and against the current it was "an honest" swim course. Unfortunately the wind was blowing against the current so I never really felt like I was flying. The IM course is all with the current and a is a straight shot. Like the new Cozumel course it should be fast and easy!

I felt pretty crappy the rest of the day but after downing some hot soup and some more hot liquids I was feeling a ton better and went down to watch the ICE crew get their awards. I then went back to the hotel to take a nap to end all naps. It was fitful and feverish but it got the job done.

That evening we made our way to the Urban Stack, another Yelp recommendation. If the weather had been nicer it would have been pretty awesome to end the day on their patio but we still had an incredible dinner that started off with a nice serving of fried chickpeas and ended with a round of drinks.

This is a stock photo. The sun was NOT shining.

Not a stock photo. This DID happen.
The next morning we woke up to what I would call "a steady rain" and what Tim calls "a drizzle." How ever you want to call it, it was raining which put a huge damper on our plans to ride the entire IM course. We already arrived to Chattanooga under dressed and none of us was prepared to ride in the rain. After loitering around the hotel for way too long we decided to go on a wet run and head back to Charlotte. The run ended up being a lot of fun and gave us a chance to explore what Chattanooga has to offer. We crossed the foot bridge and ran around the arts district and the trails of Coolidge Park. Since we were each armed with a camera we took turns goofing off and filming each other. The physician who treated me at the race told me Chattanooga is the Boulder of the South. While at the time it sounded like an awfully lofty designation, I certainly can see it. Chattanooga really does have a lot to offer the athletically/outdoors inclined. I think an Ironman here will be really successful. Even though Chattanooga reminded me a lot of Louisville, the residents here will be a lot more receptive to the presence of the race and influx of athletes and spectators. I am super excited for all those "Doin' the Choo," especially Mrs. Honey Badger herself.

Rainy day revelry











Chattanooga's parting shot:


Made in Nooga since 1917

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Back at it!

Back to blogging that is!
I took an unintended break from blogging . . . other than Caturnalia because that just doesn't count. For the last month or so I have just been trying to keep up with the pace of life. It is entirely my fault. I want to do everything . . . I think I can do everything. When I realize I can't I get really frustrated. The key, however, is that I do exactly what I want to do all the time.

4/27 - I went up towards the Wilkesboro area and rode the Brushy Mountain loop. I wasn't quite prepared to ride close to 80 miles but I got guilted into it. Guilted . . . yeah that's the ticket.


5/4 - I hitched a ride with the very talented Sebastian Binnemann to compete in the Buck Hurley Sprint Triathlon. Like last year I had a blast. Unlike last year the weather was awesome.


5/4 - I spent the rest of the day lounging alongside Lake Norman tanning my already tan arms and hoping to get the slightest bit of color on my not very tan belly.

(you're welcome)
5/5 - I celebrated Cinco de Mayo at Cabo Fish Taco with these amazing tofu tacos. I was not a fan of CFT until I downed these bad boys. So incredibly good!


5/7 - Since I am no longer taking the time off to compete at Rev3 Knoxville, I decided to sign up for the USMS Open Water National Championships. The race coincides with a course preview of IM Chattanooga. While I am not "DOIN' THE CHOO" as they say, I am still excited about the opportunity to ride and run the course.



5/11 - I went on a mountain ride with some of the guys from ICE as well as some others. It was an amazing day. The sun was out but it was neither too hot nor too cold. It was perfect. Riding in the mountains of NC is such a treat. 


5/13 - I received a reward at work for all of my *cough* hard work and *cough* dedication to my department.

Taxpayers: You. Are. Welcome. 
Other than that is has been business as usual. I have not had any top notch training weeks. I have just been plugging along, smooth and steady. Over the last 5 weeks my swims, bikes, and runs have been consistent which is the best training possible, especially when I am purposely trying not to rock the boat. I need to keep things even keeled if I am going to continue to manage my work, workout, and professional lives. The 1-2 punch I received traveling to New Orleans and returning to a very busy work load had a detrimental effect on both my mind and body. BUT I am back! I have no reason to be anything other than grateful for all the amazing opportunities presented to me daily. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Caturnalia: Good deeds

Yesterday I went to the Charlotte Humane Society and donated a bunch of old feed bowls from my cats and a HUGE bag of donated blankets from Jones Racing Company. It takes so little to give so much!

And then when I was finishing up my bike ride I came across this scene:


There are at least 5 stray cats in this picture but someone was feeding them. Hungry little buggers! They freaked out a little when I showed but quickly assessed me as a sucka. I am surprised one them did not come sashaying my way with please-take-me-home-eyes.

Of course I then went home and lectured my cats on what a bunch of spoiled brats they are. Spoiled! Brats!