Tag: triathlon

Cranberry TriFest Race Story – Good Things Come in 5s

I just completed my 5th Cranberry TriFest Olympic Distance Triathlon. To keep things neat and tidy, I finished 5th in my 5th (and final) year in the 45-49 age group.

Each time I race, I learn about myself: how I make choices and how I feel about the outcomes of those choices.  I’m pretty sure that this and the fact that the learning opportunities seem to be endless are what keep me racing.

A little piece of relevant history… Back in the beginning of July, after 4 weekends of racing each weekend, and after thinking a lot about my training and the mental fatigue I was experiencing at 5am when it was time to wake up and train I made a a conscious, out-loud to Jason choice:

“This summer, I’m just going to have fun and enjoy swimming and biking and running. I’m gonna ride on the beach, run without a watch, and just swim with my friends at the reservoir – maybe the pool once in a while.” Long pause…
“And please remind me that this is the choice I made in August when I’m wishing I made a different choice at Cranberry.”

It’s been a delightful summer. I’ve had great open water swims followed by chatty runs with friends. Jason and I rode so many gravely, sandy, grassy miles on our CX bikes. I was a little sad when I had to wipe spider webs off my TT bike for a local sprint at the end of July, so a weekly TT bike ride got thrown in. I ran hills one day for fun and a lot of beach, off-road miles. I enjoyed every minute.

Although I worried that I’d lose fitness, the reality was that I never had a week with fewer than 5 workout days, many days included bricks (because I like them), and off days meant long beach walks with the pup. I stayed very fit. In many ways because of the off road miles and resting when I felt like it – I felt healthier and much less injury prone. My morning workouts just made me happy and set me up for a great day with work, with friends, with everything.

I didn’t lose my fitness – I did however lose some speed. And we’re back to the race story…

Cranberry was a great race. The swim was a wetsuitless, hot, shallow, 2 loop, pond scummy mess. And I found myself entertained by the chaos. It was on the bike, when I was trying to push a speed that I probably could have held back in June that I started wishing I could undo my choice and go back in time. 

When training regrets creep into your race, flatting is almost a promise. Not that your tire will get punctured, but you feel like it did and the whole race feels flat and frustrating.

I was right there, when a flash of words flooded my brain:

Would you rather have some excuse or rationale for a race outcome: Sick last week, got a flat tire, missed a feed, had to sneeze when the winning attack went, or even just that you lost your nerve that day when it got really hard (yes, this happens). With that, you can forever clasp onto the worrystone-mantra of “I could have won, if only…?”

Or, would you rather honestly know you had ridden a race to the very best of your strength and ability, know there was nothing else you could have done and have that be…not…quite…enough?

Mara Abbott’s thoughts following her courageous 4th place Olympic finish had clearly made a lasting impression and became my mantra for the rest of the race. I would ride to the best of my present strength and ability and let go of the energy wasted on rationalizing anything. And thank goodness, because it was such a more pleasant way to race!

I raced hard. I gave all I had. I’m sore today and I was slower.

And to further emulate, Mara, I’ll be really honest (as she was) and share one more thought I had when I finished …

Yet here is what I will always sort of wish I had:
A podium spot.

The day after, I’ll tell you without hesitation that I wouldn’t change a thing about my summer. It turns out you can still be pretty speedy when you do what makes you happy, play and share joy. I’m thankful that Mara’s story collided with mine when it did.

And thanks to Sun MultiSports and all the wonderful volunteers for a great race!!!

Cranberry Trifest 2016

Have you ever thought- ‘I wish I had that kind of motivation!’?

Me, too.

I hear I’m so motivated, a lot. There are a few people out there wishing they had half of my motivation. I’m quite happy to accept these comments as compliments at 4:00 in the afternoon. I feel super motivated then.

wake upBut come morning, it isn’t pretty. I’m no motivational poster child.  Here’s a little taste of what it actually sounds like inside my head in the morning –

“Ugh. Please let me have another hour to sleep…”  [roll over, look at phone – “crap.”]

“I think I really need more sleep.” [do math in head, realize I’ve slept for 8 ½  hours – “crap.”]

“Maybe I need more rest.  I should probably take another rest day. I didn’t have enough rest in my schedule last week.” [review previous week and recall that there were actually 2 rest days for recovery from so much dancing at 3 nights of Grateful Dead concerts – “crap!”]

“I have absolutely no interest in doing intervals this morning! I think I might need a break from training. Maybe I’m just burnt out. When was the last time I really took a break and did nothing? I think I need a break. Maybe I should just find something else?” [well, that doesn’t feel right either – sigh.]

“I’ll just catch up on Facebook and Instagram for a few minutes. “ [this is the most deadly of all the possible morning activities – 30 minutes of available workout time goes in a blink – and not like a decision – it just evaporates]

“Fine, I’ll make tea, but I’m not making oatmeal!” [such fierce protest – shuffle to kitchen. Jason’s already got tea steeping – jerk.]

“Fine, I’ll make oatmeal” [eat begrudgingly]

“I probably missed my window” [check phone – “dang.”]

one quality minute“How are you gonna feel at 4:00 this afternoon if you haven’t worked out?” [Sigh. Get dressed. Get water. Get on bike. Start moving pedals slowly around in a lifeless circle]

“This isn’t going to work. I’m not even in zone 1. This is awful!” [stop Garmin. get off trainer. adjust fan. sit back on bike]

“Just pedal and stop thinking.” [pedal, pedal, pedal, slow pedal, pedal more]

“I like this song.” [pedal, slow pedal, 10 minutes of  warm-up pass]

“You know better than to ask yourself if you want to workout in the morning. The answer’s always ‘no’.  Wrong question! It’s gonna hurt, you’re gonna be uncomfortable – of course your brain doesn’t want your body to do this. But this is how the body adapts and gets stronger. Have you ever regretted a workout once it’s done?… No.” [keep pedaling]

“Just do what you can do today. If it’s short workout – fine. Quality over quantity. Do 1 great minute of an interval; better than doing the whole thing half-assed. That’s it -1 quality minute.” [pedal up to zone 4. stay for 1 minute]

“1 more. You’ve got 1 more in you.” [pedal 1 more minute in z4]

This goes on until the first set’s complete.

You might imagine that I go into the second set inspired with renewed motivation.  Nope. The struggle isn’t as as bad, but I negotiate with myself down to only 10 minutes of the 15 minute interval.
When I get to 10 minutes and am certain I’m “put-a-fork-in-me done – I try for 1 more quality minute and then another and then another. I was fine with not finishing the set as long as each minute was good quality. I finish the set. It’s a good workout. Such a fuss, though!

Not all days are this challenging and some are worse. In the beginning, I didn’t win many negotiations with myself.  It’s not easy.

When I see updates from my friends and team mates doing amazing training – I admit – I wish I had half of their motivation. But I suppose we all have conversations like these. We all have to work hard to overcome our own style mental inertia. It just looks so effortless on someone else.

Patriot Half 2015 – Race Stories

Sun MultisportBefore a super long narrative, which includes deep reflection on everything from my sock choice to the Lorax, I’ll summarize… I am over-the-moon-happy with my finishing time! I never tallied the target times I had for each leg – but somewhere I settled on the idea that anything under 6 hours would be awesome and anything in the neighborhood of 5:45 would be spectacular.  I didn’t have an adjective picked out for 5:33:09! (I’ve come up with quite a few since)

The super long narrative: 

Lead up to the Race: Overall, I’ve been very happy with my health, energy, and training / preparedness. I’ve been injury-free since my ankle sprain in April and triathalife has been busy, but not in too much competition with training goals. I’m feeling strong.

Day before: Nerves. Definitely thinking that 70.3 is a little too much. Nervous about nutrition and all the unknowns. A nice short brick in the morning, a little less tea than usual, and a schedule of morning meetings, helped to distract me. I was home around 1:00 and packing the car to head to Freetown. Making a packing spreadsheet/list was still one of the best things I’ve ever done. (Although now I occasionally worry that packing isn’t stressful enough – and I probably forgot something.) In any case, I was in the car and heading to meet up with Nancy before the kids were off the bus. Cape traffic made the drive longer than planned, but we arrived at the venue with plenty of time to spare.

Recon: Packet pick-up – easy. Sleeveless wetsuit rental – easy. Transition walk around – so awesome to have Nancy to walk me thought the maze of transition and run-ins and bike-outs. We take a drive of the run course – very pretty, but clear that mid-day sun is going to be direct, on most of the course. (Noted & added to list of things to worry about.)
Nancy left to head home to rest and hopefully get on the other side of her hacking cough. I joined the VMPS swim clinic and got in a quick swim. I happily ran into Shira Flowers, who was also racing and arrived with a batch of 5Q tattoos and swim caps – AWESOME!!! I popped my 5Q cap on and waded in. The water was lovely. So clean, great temp, calm – really, just lovely. Before I made it back to my car, I ran into more triathletes wearing #50womentokona shirts and had passed out all but a few of the tattoos. AWESOME to see such awareness and support for equality in sport!

Accommodations: Days Inn, Middleboro. This was a last minute change of plans. Until the week before I’d planned to drive from home the morning of. The 7:00 am race start and a little working backward, motivated me to find a shorter commute and get more sleep. This was a great call! The room was smelly, but the location was perfect for traveling to the venue and for Jason and the kids to join me.

Morning of: Fell asleep before 10:00 while the kids watched the Lorax and woke at 4:50. Felt rested. Checked my phone – ugh! Nancy was too sick and had to call it. I’d always assumed I’d be with her, waiting to start, eep!  I got dressed and left with bags without waking the kids – Jason was stirring.  Beautiful morning – low 60s. Off to Dunkin’s for a large tea and a raisin bagel. SO nice to not get lost on the way to a race.

MotivationRack 16: I was racked with a very nice group of female athletes, which is more often the case than not. I passed out the rest of the 5Q tattoos and applied my own. The baby powder for inside the socks was the most shared item in my race bag. We all made sure we were well-covered with glide and sunscreen.  There were several racers rocking some sweet Betty Designs kits and the new Team Betty kit got rave reviews! Lots of compliments for the new partnership with Hincapie and the long zipper on the new tri top.  At the request of another racer, we hung my Team Betty jacket on the end of the rack, for VERY easy visibility. (this received many thank yous post race)

Warm up: A few minutes of dynamic stretching and then into the water for a warm up swim. I felt calmer than I’ve been at races in the past. I was happy to be in the water. I felt ready to go see what my winter of training has prepared me for. It was exciting, in a good way, to have a new distance and no idea what to expect.

Line up: Patriot uses a time trial start, so we enter the water in groups of 3, every 10 seconds. It didn’t take me too long to find my friend, Lisa, in the wave of purple caps, right at the front. This was good, we’d be on our way soon.

The swim: This was the most present, strong, relaxed swim I have ever had in a race. I felt comfortable. There was a lot of maneuvering around people, but I was able to keep swimming forward as I dodged limbs. The water got a little choppy, but no anxiety. Just kept my head in it. I loved the sleeveless wetsuit, whether it made me slower or faster, I’m not sure I care – I just felt so good. I think my sighting was fairly good and remembered to get my legs ready before I tried to run to transition on them – all good. 38:22

T1: Wetsuit came off easier than the day before – thank you BodyGlide. My Injinji toe socks were not too bad to put on when filled with baby powder. And a huge improvement over the the first race of the season, I didn’t get water all over my lens and could see as I ran out of transition – yay! (small wins) 02:36

Bike: Ok, here was where I got unsure about my plan. I knew that I’d done solid training through the fall and winter. I know I’m a stronger rider. I know I can do this. I fight the compelling worry to slow down and save myself for the run, but stay with my plan. On every uphill, I could hear Nancy in my head – “don’t burn watts!”. I focused on my heart rate  – steady and easy (no power meter) and soon enough I’m settled into a pace that averaged around 19.5. It felt right, but my head was definitely having a hard time accepting that I could make and sustain this higher pace for 56 miles. Lisa passed pretty early in the first loop. (I had no idea I was ahead of her from the swim) I thought she’d blow past me like a freight train, but I stayed ~30 yards back for many, many miles. She’s a strong rider, so keeping her in sight actually made me nervous, but I just kept reminding myself to stay in my own race. The bike course is really great – lots of rolling hills – but not too many crazy scary down hills. There was an accident on the course – a rider crashed into a pedestrian who was on the ground when we passed. So scary. Bikes are fast. Somewhere around 50 miles, I felt ‘done’ with the bike. I wasn’t I’-want-to-throw-my-bike grouchy, but definitely ready to get off the saddle (Note: remember chamois lube next race) I briefly caught up to Lisa again before she took off for T2. The wires between the CX and the tri sides of my brain got crossed as I coasted into the dismount area. I left me left foot clipped in as I dismounted – not pretty – but I stayed upright. (another small win) 2:53:38 (elev. gain: 1,818 ft)

T2: The run in wasn’t speedy, my legs were definitely complaining about the repetition of movement over almost 3 hours. I took my time to reapply sunscreen (although I missed a patch on the back of my neck) and get sunglasses, visor, and Fuel Belt set. 03:31

Run: Oh, stiff legs.  Thankfully, I started out with Lisa and another racer who calmed my worries with veteran assurance that they’d feel better after the first mile…they did. And then the next few miles felt pretty good. My thoughts were clear and focused on posture and nutrition timing, Around 4 miles, I started getting unpleasantly hot. Ice at the water stops was amazing – in the top and shorts…ahhhhh. At around an hour into the run, my legs felt tight again, and getting tighter. The last 5 miles weren’t easy and required a lot of mental endurance. I knew I could add 2 min. walk breaks and keep a pretty decent pace (thank you, Nancy), but decided to see how much farther I could go before I started #galloway. I was nervous that my legs would get stiffer in the walk breaks be harder to move.  Any patch of shade felt like a miracle. As I reminded myself to be grateful for each one, I thought about the kids watching the Lorax the night before. “I am grateful for the trees and the Lorax”  ran through my head over and over – and didn’t seem crazy, at all, at the time.  When I passed the 12 mile marker, I thought of Jes…”I can do anything for 10 minutes.” I wasn’t going to stop – I was going to run all the way into the camp – as long as I didn’t fall down.    1:55:03 (elev gain 394 ft)

The Finish: The run into Cathedral Camp, over the grass, the little bridge, and into the finish chute was awesome! I had no idea what my finish time would be – and really didn’t care. I’d done what I wanted to do – I gave it all I had, 100%  I trusted myself and my plan and didn’t get caught up in anyone else’s race. My body hurt and I felt strong.  I saw and heard  Jason, Hannah, and Will as I ran the last few feet. I had told Jason it was ok, if the day was just too long and they didn’t make it – but I was so happy that they were there.

70.3 Cool downTaking off my shoes & socks and sticking them in the ice cold baby pool was perfect. All my peeps came over and hung out with me while I cooled down. Jes was happy she didn’t have to yell at me to run faster. Nancy ( germs and all) was so excited – she couldn’t wait to see my time. I saw the time on the finish clock was 5:50someting, so I was pretty sure I’d met my time goals. My head exploded when Nancy said 5:3:09. I was just happy. Amazing! I can’t describe the joy to realize that this 48 year old body can accomplish something like this. Amazing! Ha! At that moment I think I fell in love with everything, all at once.

Thank you, Sun Multisports – It was an amazing race. Around mile 9, I was certain that I’d never do another half iron. A week later, I’m sure I’ll trt Patriot again next year.

Sneaking up on 70.3

70.3 bumpah stickahshhhh…I’m doing a half ironman tomorrow, but don’t tell me.

I don’t know why it’s been so hard to accept. I’ve been signed up for the Patriot Half since December, so it’s not like it just happened. I’ve been training. The bike sessions have certainly gotten longer. I’ve got about a thousand calories of race food tucked into various feed bags, so I know I’ll be working for a long time tomorrow. Hell! I’ve even done a pre-ride of the course with a 70.3 veteran. ( I never follow this excellent advice – I like ignorance)

So why is it that I’m just getting around to mentioning it to my family?
And why haven’t I added it to the Team Betty race schedule?

In some weird way, I’m afraid of failing. And I don’t even know what ‘failing’ means to me. Being slow? Being last? DNFing? Getting lost on my way to the race? Looking foolish?
(I’ve done all of these things before and survived.)

It’s not because I’ve never done a 70.3 before, but possibly it’s because I have.

In 2012, after completing my first Olympic distance triathlon (as a total non-swimmer) a single thought inspired me to sign up for my first  – “Holy crap, you just swam a mile! You should totally sign up for a half iron right now while you can swim a mile, cuz what’s another .2?!” 6 weeks later I was doing my first. Never mind that the oly race was my only open water swim and I couldn’t even move in the 59° water…Wow! 56 miles on the bike is so much further than 26 miles!

So, now I have no bliss of ignorance. But I do have more appropriate training. I have an awesome respect for the distances. And I think it’s possibly this respect that has me a little nervous. I hope to show up tomorrow to race on the course – last time I just wanted to survive (and shake off the hypothermia). I’d like to be able to manage my pace and my nutrition so that I can race the whole course. But I’ve it before.

So what’s the worst thing that happens? I don’t hit my pace goals for some reason or another – I will learn. Just like everyone else who is now a veteran of the longer courses. That’s cool.

Ok, so world… I’m doing a 70.3 tomorrow. Holy crap!

peace - love - 70.3

50 Men & 50 Women to Kona

Last night, I commended a triathlete for the work she’s doing to push forward the cause of gender equality in triathlon. Her reply has prompted me to look at the situation differently. She’s just tired of justifying why women deserve a seat at the table or a place at the start line. It’s 2015…IM BTC

Rarely are any of us presented with an obvious opportunity to actually change the world. Ironman / Life Time Fitness have this opportunity before them.

Rather than defending a past decision to base the number of pro slots on gender demographics of current participation, please base it on a vision for the desired future. Become what you strive for, now.

Truly successful organizations do not ‘manage change’. They find brilliant opportunities within the challenge. Ironman stands at this crossroad right now:  Manage the present based on the past or become the most powerful change in sport today?

I regularly ask businesses to write their own headlines. What do you want to be known for? How do you want your story to be told? What does your brand stand for, if we look solely at your actions?

I’d ask Ironman the same right now.  What do you want your headline to be?

Ironman Leads the Charge for Gender Equality in all Sports
Ironman Caves and Finally Agrees to Increase the Number of Pro Slots for Women

One of these headlines will support the stated objectives of the formation of Women for Tri Advisory Board. The other will not.  One will weaken the brand. The other strengthens it and expands its reach to the very population where growth is being sought.

Look, I’m an age-grouper who’s incredibly unlikely to ever even travel to Kona. But last fall, I sat glued to the Kona stream and flooded social media with my enthusiasm as I watched an incredible women’s race. I’m not asking for slots that I will ever dream of occupying – I’m asking Ironman to inspire me! Inspire all of the future age-groupers and up and coming young athletes.

Please, let go of the past and of the limiting practices that impede your ability to inspire the most people possible, worldwide.

Equality is no longer a subject for debate. Equality is no longer something that we should have to fight for. Please don’t make us fight anymore – we have training to do!

An Open Letter to the Women for Tri Board of Advisors – If you’d like to make your support clear – please follow this link and add your name to the comments.