Some News is Good News

25 Apr

I haven’t posted in a while, I know. It’s been a zany few weeks since Nautica with lots of traveling and training and work-related nonsense. Not to mention the whole world exploding thing. I have so much more to say about Boston but I don’t know that my thoughts will really add anything to the conversation that’s already happened and is continuing to happen. Suffice to say, like all endurance athletes, the whole thing made me very mad. Like all feeling human beings, the whole thing made me very sad. And then that fertilizer plant exploded and I was just confused.

But in the midst of all the anger, sadness and confusion, there’s also been a great deal of joy, excitement and elation in my world. For all if it, I feel insanely lucky and I thank whatever forces in the universe have conspired to make this such a great year for me thus far. First there’s this:

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BUENA VISTA is the first play I wrote when I moved down to Miami and it came after a particularly painful experience that only now, three years after the fact, makes any sense to me in the grand scheme of things. This production means a lot because I remember quite vividly putting my pen down after writing the words “Black Out. End of Play,” (and yes, I write my first drafts long hand) and thinking, “This is a play for Steppenwolf.” And I was right so that’s cool. Should anyone who follows this blog find themselves kicking around Chicago in August, please come check it out.

Additionally, the U has commissioned another Greek adaptation so I get to work on that all summer. This time around I’ll be tackling the entire Oedipus myth, which is exciting beyond belief and only mildly daunting. I don’t write a lot on this blog about my playwriting life because it always seems a little off topic but this stuff is too good not to share and really my playwriting life is, like, well, my LIFE. Triathlon feels at times like it’s taken over a little bit, especially this season, but at the end of the day, the writing comes first. Which is a perfect segue to the next cool thing that happened. This:

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I qualified for Age Group Nationals! This has been on my “make it happen” list since I learned that this race is  an actual thing. So like, for well over a year now, I’ve been not-so-secretly harboring the fantasy goal of qualifying. And I did. Because of Nautica. So I’m psyched. Unfortunately, I can’t compete.  Fail. And even more unfortunately, I can’t compete but I’ll be in Chicago when it’s happening and Chicago is like an hour and a half from Milwaukee! So close! And yet so far. That weekend is a big couple of days at the theatre and I can’t miss them. So I’ll just have to qualify again next year. Considering the fact that I’m planning to WIN my age group at Nautica next year, this should be doable.

Other great things are happening but they’re things I don’t feel like sharing here. Some stuff is still sacred. Say that five times fast. Today is the last day of classes for the semester so summer is upon me and this will be the first in five years that I don’t spend in Colorado. I’m sad about this but also feel a little relieved. Last summer felt like the last summer for a lot of us while we were living it. It’s time to move on. Every time I think about where I am though and how I got here, when I track it back, everything leads me to Steamboat. And I’m certain at some point that I’ll be led back there.

I kinda can’t believe I’ve been in Miami for three years already. I’m going to be totally cliche and say that time feels like it’s absolutely flown. But when I look at those three years and all that’s happened, everything that I’ve accomplished, all the friends I’ve made and fun I’ve had, all the work I’ve done at the U, all the students I’ve known, all the pages I’ve written and the miles I’ve swum, biked and run, it feels like a mini-lifetime. Here’s to a few more.

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Race Report: Nautica Classic, SoBe, April 7th, 2013

9 Apr

 

 

 

 

The Nautica South Beach Triathlon was yesterday! Look at glamorous Ocean Drive all lit up and glamorous looking at 5:30 in the AM on a Sunday, when most people on SoBe are just getting out of the bars and stumbling into cabs and heading home to fall into bed until 2 in the afternoon. Not us triathletes! We were just getting started. Jacked up on caffeine and pre-race nerves.

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A small bit of the Nautica transition area on Sunday April 7th, 2013. Way too early in the AM.

Nautica is a big team race for Alien Endurance. This year we had over 60 athletes competing, some of them for the very first time. It’s a big race with a good pro showing and amateur athletes coming from all over the place.

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Our Nautica 2013 class picture!

The temps started in the high 60s and got up into the low 80s by race-end. Few clouds, blue skies, very little wind. On the whole, favorable race day conditions. There was some chop on the water and some decent sized rollers to contend with on the way out. But the current was actually in our favor, I think, and the water was blue blue blue!

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Not the crystal clear blue lagoon-flat super swim of last year but still pretty nice.

My original goal had been to finish in sub-2 (last year’s time was 2:04:57) and eek my way into the top 10 of my age group. Then the commander threw down the gauntlet last week and challenged me to a bet. He set a goal time and if I beat it, he’d owe the team breakfast during one of our M/W weight training sessions. If I lost the bet, I would provide homemade donuts. I’ve always wanted to make donuts so this seemed a win-win for me. Still, my pride was on the line.

The damned goal time was uber-agressive. 1:49 on the nose. His splits for me: 18 min swim, 2 min T1, 58 bike, 2 min T2, 29 min run. For the first time ever, I felt confident with the swim estimate. The bike, I thought, was iffy and I was actually pretty nervous about hitting that run in under 30. But I was like, “Shit, if he really thinks this is possible, then maybe I set my goals too low originally.”

I had a couple days to obsess over this before the race so I took the opportunity to scrutinize recent time trials and race finishes. It started to look possible but off by about two minutes, which is actually quite a bit. But I decided to commit to the time and start visualizing. So on all my runs (because I can’t visualize shit in the pool and visualizing during a bike is dangerous) I pictured myself crossing the finish line not just in the time allotted, but crossing as a winner.

And then I did a stupid thing the day before the race and I looked at last year’s results in my new age group. Based on those times, I knew that if I hit the goal, I actually would place. This seemed absurd to me. Nautica is a huge race and the field is competitive and people come from everywhere to do it and who the hell was I to think I could get my ass on the podium?

All of this thinking started making me very nervous. Suddenly there were stakes. Last year, there were stakes but they were basically about not drowning on the swim. Somehow, the thought of performing badly now trumps the fear of drowning. Shows you where my priorities are. At any rate, last year I had no base-line. Any finish was a PR. This year, I actually had something to prove; a time to beat; and a bet to win.

My way of dealing with nerves is to get very quite and go inside myself. I think I was a bitch before the race yesterday morning and if you and I crossed paths and I was anything but gracious and pleasant to you, I apologize. I am on a big team and we were all racked together and everyone was chatting but I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to answer anyone’s questions. I just wanted to be alone. When I was nervous before a fight (which was ALWAYS), I would shadow box and listen to music. Now, before races, I’ve learned that pacing transition and listening to music helps. So I put on my headphones and walked the path from swim out to bike out, mentally marking my racking area so I’d be sure not to miss it during T1.  I drank some water and then we took some team photos and then it was time to leave transition and head to the beach.

I confided to one of my closest friends on the team that I felt like I was being a bitch because I didn’t want to talk to anyone and she said she understood. “What are you going to talk about?” She asked. “What nice swim cap colors they gave us? Do your thing. Get into your zone.” See below, how everyone else looks happy and carefree and I look like I’m about to kill someone?

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After this picture, I decided that I should relax a little and smile and realize that I’d been training for this and that training is part of it and I love training and I love racing and I’m very lucky to be out here on this beautiful day doing this thing that I love with both arms and both legs and all these great people and I just needed to stop taking myself so seriously and yada yada yada.

OK. Then I got into the water and splashed around for a little bit. By then, the early waves were going off and before long it was my turn to line up with the other gold caps.

The swim felt great. I can’t believe I just wrote that.  Getting out to the first buoy was a little challenging but it’s always a little challenging so this didn’t feel any different. I’ve come to realize that there’s something about the frenzy of the swim start that I absolutely adore. The chaos of it all gets me really jazzed. Instead of going into flight mode, I go into fight mode and now that I can actually swim, I love jumping into the washing machine and then getting out of it quickly while everyone else is flailing around.

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I sighted a lot yesterday and was really happy to discover that I was always on course. Also, for the first time ever, I was passing swim caps from the waves that had gone off before me. Sweet.

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I swallowed a lot of water on this swim because I’m still not breathing bilaterally but I made it in almost EXACTLY 18 minutes. 18:17 to be exact.

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Strippin’!

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As transitions runs go, Nautica’s is long and mostly through sand. Then, because of my racking position, I had to make it through pretty much the entire transition area before I hit my bike and, even though I’d spent ten minutes before the race marking my spot, I still managed to miss it by one row. I wasted about 15 seconds in T1 and that sucked. Lucky for me, one of my teammates was right there and we were racked right next to each other so she did me a solid and got me on track. After that, it was smooth sailing out onto the bike course.

The bike course takes you out over the McArthur causeway, into and north through downtown, over the Julia Tuttle and then back. There are a few climbs (by Miami standards, anyway) but that means there are also some swift downhills. I cranked it on the way up and I cranked it on the way down. Because I knew I could. It was awesome. At one point, with the wind behind me on a downhill, I went into aero and clocked over 30mph. I used as much of that momentum as possible and managed to cruise 26mph on a flat for a couple of miles. At the turnaround, I checked my time and knew I was on track to finish in 58 minutes. But I told myself to stay in the moment and do what I was doing without thinking too far ahead. Based on the conditions going out, I was pretty sure I’d hit some wind on the way back so I was trying not to get too excited about my pace.

There was another girl in my AG who I kept trading places with on the bike. She was awesome. We threw a couple words of encouragement at each other.  At one point, she was right in front of me and I saw her rubbing her calf so I thought she was cramping and I might be able to overtake her. I passed and she yelled, “Go get those boys!” I said I would. Then a minute later, she was passing me again. “You can draft off me,” she screamed. “I won’t tell anyone.” We were right on top of each other for a few miles but she dropped me going back over the McArthur. I kept her in my sights for a while but eventually lost her going into a headwind. I figured she was maybe a minute or so ahead of me and thought I’d be able to make up on the run if her legs were as tired as they looked. I never saw her again but I thank her for the push. I finished the bike in 56:39. 1 minute, 21 seconds under my goal and with a super PR for that course.

T2 was uneventful. I got into my shoes, grabbed my race belt, threw on my cap and sped off. I’d taken about 210 calories on the bike (3 scoops of Ironman Perform in my water–no more gels on the bike, just liquid) the majority of which I’d consumed during the first 2/3 of the ride. I was ready for more carbs as soon as I hit my feet so I dropped one caffeinated Powerbar chocolate gel immediately and then took in a couple ounces of plain water at the first aid station.

As soon as I got out of transition, one of my teammates who wasn’t racing was there screaming at me to go faster. “Faster Edith, run faster! Let’s get on the podium! Come on, you can do better than that.” And while I appreciated her words of encouragement, there were sort of ill timed. Like, maybe scream that at me on mile 3 when I need a push or in the homestretch. Not right after I’ve dismounted and am trying to get my legs back.

And of course she had to use that word. Podium. I didn’t want to think “podium.” I wanted to think “time.” Just get in under the allotted time, Edith, and the rest is gravy.” But right off the bat, I was feeling like the run wasn’t going to happen. To make 29 minutes, I was going to have to hit a 7:15 average, which is my best 5K pace and this run is 4 miles, not 3.1. I started off at 7:30 with very tired legs. My breathing was labored too so I kicked into some 3-2 rhythmic breathing (I’ve been working on this during training and it’s amazingly helpful) until I got my legs back and then I just let my breath happen the way it happens.

Still though, this run felt hard. In fact, the last two tri runs have felt hard. I can only attribute that to the fact I’m now pushing harder on both the swim and the bike.I’m making bigger gains in the first two legs, but I haven’t yet figured out to put together the full race given the new efforts. I had a feeling this was going to happen this season and my runs are still faster so it’s all good. Just something else to work on. At any rate, yeah, the run was a challenge. I was a little crampy on my right side and I couldn’t quite shake the leg fatigue. I had my best mile between 2 and 3, when the caffeine in the gel started to kick in and I actually got a surge of runners high. My time dipped down to 7:08 for a bit and I got hopeful. I passed some lady who called out, “Great pace, girl! GREAT PACE!” And then some spectator yelled my number and said I was looking awesome. I felt like if I could hold onto the surge, I might be able to dip down to 7:00 and come in just under the wire. But it was not to be. My run time, when all was said and done, was 30:46. Almost a full two minutes over the goal. Oh well.

I crossed the finish line feeling victorious but spent (the way it should be) and looked down at my Garmin. My heart sank. 1:50:07. The official time was 1:50:04 but still. 1 minute and 4 seconds off the damned goal. I owed donuts. There was no wiggle room.

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Me giving the coach the finger for setting a ridiculous goal time. In good spirits, of course.

It took the officials like AN HOUR to post the women’s classic results. And, of course, until they did I was doing my normal, “I know I should be happy about this and yet I’m not” routine. At that point, I knew that I’d shaved 15 minutes off my time from last year and had killed the bike but I still felt like I’d fallen short. I was desperately trying not to wear that feeling on my face as my teammates were finishing and all-smiles and congratulating each other and asking how the race went, etc…  Some of my people were racing for the first time or racing Nautica for the first time and I am tired of being the asshole who’s only thinking of herself after a race. I did my best but change is difficult. Baby steps.

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Here’s one where we all look pretty happy. Kristin, the gal in pink, had the 2nd fastest overall women’s swim time!

I wasn’t the only one who was anxious for results. We were all milling around the board for a while. The organizers had tried to do right by mounting several Ipads in the sand so folks could search themselves but apparently, someone hacked the event wifi and that screwed everything up. After what felt like an eternity, we finally managed to get online and get our splits. And that’s when I stopped complaining.

I placed. At Nautica. I placed third AG.

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My bronze medal!

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On the podium at Nautica!

So now I’m over the moon, right? Because last year I was 16th in my age group and this year I’m third and I totally surpassed my top 10 goal. Also, I have no idea what my overall women’s placement was in 2012, but in 2013 I was 11th. I’m sad that I missed out on top-10 overall by a matter of seconds but I’ll take 11th in that field of super strong ladies! In terms of the overall race, I was 136th this year out of approximately 2600 finishers. Last year I think I was 535th. So I’m moving on up. And actually, moving on up quickly.

Because it turns out that I wasn’t 3rd: I was 2nd! The results were wrong when they first posted. The woman who was listed as 1st had no bike or T2 split and I had beaten both her her swim and run times by a wide margin. By Monday morning she’d dropped off the leader board and I was in 2nd place.

I was happy with third. I’m even happier with 2nd. 😉

Coach Frank made me this because he is awesome and I was bummed about the missed photo op.

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Of course I’ve still found a way to be disappointed in my time. Why not, right? If I’d come in as anticipated, I’d have won the fucker. If, if, if. All I can do now is savor the moment for another few and then keep pushing on towards Haines City on May 19th. That will be a very different race with very different goals but I’m psyched for my 2nd 70.3. Life is sweet right now.

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The team again, getting loose way too early in the morning.

I continue to find irony in the fact that I have always preferred individual sports to team sports and yet, I choose to participate in solo sports with a team behind me. When I boxed, I had the girls of Team Freeform and the amazing Lee Shabaka pushing me through walls that I didn’t even know existed. Now I have all these fantastic Aliens and rock-star Coach Andy Clark helping me to realize what it possible out there on the course. Sure, I was alone out there repeating phrases like, “You want this bad, you want this bad,” and “you’re a champion, you’re a champion” and my ultimate favorite, “No excuses, no regrets,” but every time I saw an Alien uniform along the way, I pushed harder.

Even during those moments when we want to be alone, we are comfortable in our solitude because we know, on some level, that it will come to and end. Then we will return to our people and be embraced.

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Getting a big hug from Coach Ale, who I’ve been trying to catch up to for over a year now.

To everyone who raced Sunday, congrats on a fantastic swim, bike, run. Now, what’s next?

Photos Courtesy of Andy Clark

Easy as Pie. Sort of. Not Really.

27 Mar

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The pie chart above represents my workouts for TODAY.

Not for the last week or the last couple of days. TODAY. In a single day I did 30 minutes of strength training, went for an 18 minute open water swim, biked 2:12 hrs (including one hour that was just going back and forth over a bridge several times), and finished it all off with a 43 minute run.

I really can’t believe that anyone ever trains for a full Ironman because this is what training for a half is like. I also really don’t understand how anyone does this while working a 9-5 job. And I have the utmost, UTMOST respect for anyone who tackles this kind of endeavor while raising kids. Holy hell. I am so freaking lucky. And it’s kinda nuts that it takes a day like today to make me realize that.

Some of you out there are probably thinking that all of this makes me the opposite of lucky. “Four hours of training,” you exclaim to yourself. “That bitch isn’t lucky, she’s DUMB. Or at the very least insane.” And you may well be right on both counts. But I’m still grateful. And maybe it’s the overwhelming surge of endorphins rushing through my body right now but I just have to say thanks to the universe. Not only do I have the arms and legs and organs and overal health that makes it possible to even consider doing something like this, but I also have a great job and my independence and a team of training partners who push me and make me want to get out there and push myself. I also have friends and family who think that this is even moderately cool for me to be doing it.

I also have great weather. I mean, really? REALLY, FLORIDA? Really? Today? The weather today? Did that actually happen? Was it actually 45 degrees with no humidity this morning and then 70 degrees with no humidity and cloudless skies and like, zero wind when we were out on KB this afternoon? Was the water actually that blue? That clear? That flat? Really?

I don’t know what’s happening to me. I’m a little concerned about how I’m going to feel in 90 minutes. When whatever this is wears off and I go back to being grumpy or I just fall out on the couch in front of whatever shlock reality TV show is clogging up the airwaves tonight or my heart explodes or I have to eat two sweet potatoes. That last part would actually be pretty nice. And there are two in the oven right now so it could happen.

I don’t know how to end this post. I wish I could end it with pie. Sweet potato pie. I could. Hmmmm.

I won’t. I’ve seriously eaten so much sugar today it’s a little obscene.

OK. I’m going to go take a shower. And a breath.

Race Report: 2575 Triathlon, Fort Lauderdale, March 17th, 2013

18 Mar

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As the above picture illustrates beautifully, the race yesterday was an awesome way to open the season. This is my third 2575 event and my third time on the podium. What made yesterday even sweeter, however, was the move from 3rd place to second and the fact that I finished 14 minutes ahead of last year. Fourteen minutes??!? Granted, the course was different: the first two 2575 races were held in my backyard on Key Biscayne. This year, because of the construction mess on the causeway, all of our KB races have had to change venue to one degree or another. So 2575 moved north to Fort Lauderdale to a very flat, very fast and relatively scenic course right along the beach.

The race was also bigger this year. The last two times, I don’t think there were any more than a few hundred athletes but this year the race sold out it’s max capacity of 500. I don’t actually think there were 500 people on the course. Looking through the results (which is what I’ve been doing for the last two hours) it seems like the field was closer to 350-400 people. But I can’t tell exactly.

In terms of conditions, it was a pretty perfect day. Cool in the morning, a little bit overcast with wind out of the Northwest. The swim was northbound with the current and it was wet suit legal so it was bound to be fast. But historically speaking, none of those bonus conditions that tend to make everybody else super happy have ever had any effect on me (with the exception of Augusta) during the swim. I’ve always just sorta suffered no matter what. Yesterday things changed.

I had the race swim I’ve been waiting to have for the last year and a half. I came in 2+ minutes under my estimate, which one could attribute to the current. But the good thing about race conditions is that they’re the same for everyone on the course. So if the swim is fast, it’s fast for the fastest swimmers and the slowest. If the current is against you, it’s also against the former all-state freestyle champ swimming 2 minutes ahead of you. Yesterday, I was less than a minute behind one of the strongest swimmers on my team and neck-and-neck with another teammate who is male and 22 years old and absurdly fit. So good conditions, bad conditions, my swimming has improved.

Our wave was the largest. They put all age group women in with all the men 25 and under and all the men 50 and over. So it was a friggin’ washing machine in there. And not just at the start. It was legs and arms and elbows and people gasping for breath and frog kicking and backstroking into you for the whole swim. And yet somehow, I was able to come out of the water  in the top 3rd of my AG as opposed to the bottom third like normal. When I came into transition, my bike wasn’t the only one left. Regardless of the way the waves are staggered, that is still a huge psychological bonus.

For the first time ever, I swam the whole distance freestyle without having to breast stroke or roll over on my back for recovery. I was able to swim through the fatigue in my shoulders and I had complete control over my breathing. The hardest part was heading back to shore after the last buoy because at that point the current was working against me as I tried to aim straight for the swim-out chute. I made it though and was psyched when I looked at my watch. Not only psyched, actually, a little shocked.

Of course, I got out of the water and immediately had to run across 100 meters of loose beach sand while trying to strip out of my soggy wetsuit and catch my breath. Fun fun fun. But I felt pretty fantastic all things considered and ready to see what I could do on the bike. This was my first race on Starbuck and my first race since I started doing the high intensity training.

I’m not going to go into great detail about the bike mostly because I was disappointed with my performance. But only after the fact. Because that’s my MO. I’d been aggressive with my estimate the night before because, well, because I feel like it’s time to start setting more challenging goals for myself. Goals that are not totally delusional but also not totally wimpy. I figured the course was so flat, I could probably get a 20mph avg. I didn’t really account for the twisty-ness of the course. It was two loops, so already we’re dealing with multiple u-turns and then a couple of right and left turns that slowed things down considerably and then there was the headwind on the way back. So I don’t think I pushed enough in the first three miles, although I was going 23-24mph with the wind. Even that didn’t cover  the inevitable slow-down during miles 5-6 and 11-12.

I was gauging my energy output based on how my legs felt (HR monitor on the fritz) so when they started to burn, I pulled back, especially going into the wind, for fear of blowing my load before the run. In the last mile, I did something that was maybe stupid and I decided to spin into a lower gear to move some lactic acid and get my legs going faster in prep for the run. I say it was dumb because I don’t think it made a lick of difference on the run and it cost me time on the bike. Maybe not much time but time is time. Ultimately, my bike was 4 minutes off what I’d been hoping to do and not that much better than my sprints from last year.

Remember when I said I wasn’t going to go into this in great detail? Well, because I’m crazy and have too much time on my hands, I averaged out the top bike times from each female category. The first place female elite amateur had the best bike split at 34:35; the first place female 18-24 age grouper had the slowest with 49:32. So what did this obsessive number crunching get me? The realization that I am the average. But at least, I’m the average of the best. Enough.

The run. The run felt hard. I went aggressive with my run estimate as well and was hoping to actually beat my most recent 5K road race time. I don’t know why I thought that was going to be possible but it wasn’t. At least not yesterday. I was off by a minute from my PR and 1:43 off my estimate. But whatever, I finished first in my AG on the run so that’s cool. Still, it was a LONG mile and a half to the turnaround. I’d gone through about 20 oz of Perform on the bike so I felt adequately hydrated but I ended up taking half a caffeinated chocolate Power Gel around mile 1 and the other half around mile 2 to avoid any potential bonk.

We had the same headwind on the run that we’d had on the bike so the way home was rough. But my legs felt good and my breathing was fine despite the fact that I was way high in the zones at this point. I really, really, really wanted to win my age group. I went into this race wanting to win my age group and at mile 2 of the run, that desire to win had not faded. Of course, as an age grouper, it’s not like you really know who your competition is. Maybe you know a name or you’ve seen someone at a race before but it’s not like you’re prepping with a specific competitor in mind. But in this sport, the person you really have to be ready to tackle is you. You have to be willing to destroy your own mind. That’s one of the things I love about triathlon because as any of my closest friends will tell you, I absolutely love to beat myself up.

That said, right before mile 2 on the run, this chick sidled up alongside of me and said, “You’re doing really great, great run, I’ve been following you for a while.” I thanked her as she passed me and she said, “Don’t worry, I’m not in your age group.” And I said, “Then go get it!” I was running around 7:20 pace at that point so she must have been hovering right around 7:00. I kept her in my sights until the very end. With a mile left to go, I saw her sidle up alongside another chick and then pass her. I quickened my pace at that point and starting closing in on the other chick. I checked out her leg, saw that she was in my age group and was like, “Fuck that noise.” Until that moment, I had no idea what other women were in front of me. All I thought was, if she’s the only one up there and I have the chance to take her, I’m taking her immediately. Especially, with less than a mile to go.

I didn’t really have to pick up the pace that much. Just a touch so get beyond her. Then there was the realization that she’d probably see the number on my leg and, if she was any kind of competitor, that might be the boost she’d need to kick into gear. So with that thought rolling around in my head, I knew there was no slowing down. In fact, I absolutely had to speed up enough to keep the gap wide or force her into a home stretch burn out. I took it down under 7:00 for the last several hundred meters. It hurt. It hurt a lot but the thought that this woman might catch up to me was enough to keep me going.

I got through the finish like 14 seconds ahead of her and then discovered that there was indeed one woman who had beaten me through the shoot by about 50 seconds. But because of that extra push at the end, I moved up in the rank from last year. Hard work and performance addiction pays off.

It was a really big day for the whole team. Six of us placed and got to take home fancy hardware.

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Below is a pic of me with my teammates JD (who took first in his notoriously tough AG and 27th overall) and Mike (third in HIS notoriously tough AG). I train and race with these guys all the time so it was nice to be on the podium with them, even if it was only for the photo op. If the day comes when I’m actually able to beat Mike in any of the three events, I’ll have to turn pro.

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Somehow I got camera shy during the awards ceremony:

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And then got my mojo back:

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The rest of the day looked a little like this:

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Not a bad way to spend a Sunday in March.

Addendum:

I just realized that if you’re a tri person reading this blog, a lot of what I’ve written will mean nothing without my splits. If you’re a non-tri person reading this blog, you’re like, “what the F is a split?” And even if you know what a split is, then mine will mean nothing to you without some frame of reference. So I’m going to post my splits (the times for each event) along with the splits of the woman who got first in my age group and the top female elite amateur. So you know what’s what.

Top Female Elite:
Age 28, Finish time: 1:10:04
Swim time: 12:10,
Transition 1: 1:41
Bike time: 34:35
Run time: 21:41

1st Place Female 35-39:
Age: 36, Finish time: 1:20:17
Swim time: 15:31
T1: 1:51
Bike time: 38:49
Run time: 24:07

My Splits:
Age: 34*, Finish time: 1:21:07
Swim Time: 15:43
T1: 1:35
Bike time: 40:07
Run time: 23:43

* USAT decides age based on how old you’ll be on December 31st of the current year so even though I don’t turn 35 until September, I had to race in the next age group. But it actually worked out in my favor this time since the field was much more competitive this time around. Had I raced in my old category, I would have placed 6th.

Addendum to the Addendum:

I was looking at my Garmin time yesterday and I realized that there was a  big discrepancy between what the machine had calculated as my run time and what the race results folks had calculated. This happens sometimes. You’re racing, your head is spinning, you hit the lap button a few seconds too early or too late, and your time is a wee bit off. But the race results had me running about 45 seconds slower than my Garmin, which calculated distance at EXACTLY 3.1 miles. I was scratching my head trying to figure this one out and then one of my teammates solved the mystery for me: the race did not include T2 in their calculations, only T1. So they added the T2 time to the run total and that’s where my 42ish seconds went. So my run time was actually 23 minutes pretty much on the nose. So I was only a minute off my prediction as opposed to almost 2 minutes. Now I’ll be able to sleep.

Triple Training and Chocolate Redemption

13 Mar

As the title of this post implies, today turned into a triple training extravaganza and I’ve also found a way to redeem myself from the pudding debacle of last night. I got up at 5AM for strength training, did a little work before (and after) the sunrise, took a power nap and then headed out to the Key around noonish for a bike ride made up of race taper bursts (Race! Taper! Bursts!) meant to get my muscles firing a little without totally fatiguing them before the (first!) race (of the season!) on Sunday. I must be excited. Look at me throwing those exclamation points around like I’m getting paid to do it.

I knew we’d be hitting the water after our bike but I didn’t have any idea we’d be doing damned near a mile this afternoon. I was thinking more in the realm of 15 or twenty minutes but the instructions were to swim five buoys down and 5 buoys back and that all added up to around about 1300 meters. The water was blissful though–despite a pretty aggressive current running against us on the way out–so that made things a little nicer. Unlike last Wednesday, when it was completely black in there and I’m pretty sure I bumped up against a shark at one point (this is unlikely but what I touched was hard and round and while it was probably something man-made, I’m sticking to my story), today the water was crystal clear and sparkly. I kid you not. With my tinted goggles on and the sun hitting it, just so, it really looked like there was fairy dust on the water. Although maybe I was high coming off the bike ride.

I’m trying to get better about siting and doing it efficiently so that the action doesn’t bring my stroke to a dead halt. I did stop a couple of times but on the whole I’m feeling exponentially better in the water these days. I’m able to control myself and my movements and switch back and forth between strong kicking and strong pulling so when I start to fatigue in one area, I can deploy the muscles in another. Breathing is also getting better and I’m able to push through the burning in my shoulders now whereas at this time last year that feeling was enough to make me stop.

There were about five of us in the water and we managed to stay together in a relatively tight pack, which was nice. I think we ended up swimming the distance in just under 33 minutes. Not setting any records but it felt good. Well it felt mostly good. I felt pretty bad when one of my teammates (who also happens to be one of my students–don’t ask) decided to sneak up on me in the last fifty meters and grab my leg. Of course, I spazzed and yelped and jumped out of the water (the same way I did last week when ‘I touched the shark’) and then I turned around to discover the little rat bastard laughing his 22-year old head off at me. I don’t understand why people have to be lame like this when they know other people are iffy about sea creatures.

All in all a good day. I’ve been exceptionally hungry, of course, which is cool because I can tack on some extra calories over the next few days and, more importantly, a few extra carbs! Lord Jesus, it’s a fire! I have been seriously craving sweet things lately–most notably chocolate, which is odd for me as it’s never been my thing. Now, of course, I’m not planning to binge on chocolate and sugar in the days  leading up the race (it’s only a sprint, after all) but I figured it’d be cool if I snuck a little cacao into a snack or two between now and then, just to satisfy the craving. And besides, cacao is actually really good for endurance athletes. Especially if it’s mixed with maca, which mine is.

So this afternoon, I was looking for a fat to add to my afternoon snack and I realized I had a whole bag of sunflower seeds just taking up space in the fridge.

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I decided to make a chocolate sunflower butter since I really dig nut butters but can’t eat most of them due to my headache sitch. This butter is so easy to make if you have a food processor and it is SO MUCH CHEAPER to do it yourself than it is to buy a jar of sunflower seed butter at the store. I bought that 9 oz bag for $3.00 at the farmer’s market. It will easily yield 3 1/2 cups of butter.

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Here’s what to do–oh, and I made a small batch (about 3/4 cup yield) just to see how it would turn out but you can double or triple quantities if you want to make a whole pile of it: I tossed 1/2 cup (or about 2 oz of seeds) into the work bowl of my Mini-Prep and I let ‘er rip until the seeds were ground to the texture of coarse meal. The I added 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of cacao (you can use regular old cocoa powder too) and 1 tsp of agave (substitute whatever liquid sweetener you prefer–I know the jury’s still out on agave). Then I let the processor go until the seeds released their oils and the whole mess got to the consistency of slightly chunky peanut butter. This is a pretty dry butter but it should still be spreadable as long as you grind it long enough. About 3-5 minutes should do. When it’s done and packed in a jar, it looks like this:

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And on a spoon it looks like this:

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And on the same spoon from a slightly different angle, this:

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It is absolutely delicious and in small quantities (2 teaspoons is around 53 calories, 4g of fat, 3g carbs and 2g of protein), it’s not too horrible for you. I had it with pear slices but I’m sure it’d be great on toast or slathered on a banana or as the star of a SB&J or as the base of a bake-free cookie or faux truffle. I could also see this being a hit with little kids who suffer from nut allergies. Give it a try and let me know how you like it best.

 

Don’t Make the Pudding

13 Mar

It’s disgusting. I’d delete it from the original post but that sorta feels like cheating.

First of all, it didn’t set.

Second of all, it’s not nearly sweet enough. And not in the way of, say, really good dark chocolate but rather, in the way of something that should be sweet and isn’t.

Lastly, it’s given me a stomach ache.

The recipe came from some website and I made a few adjustments. Regardless, it’s NOT a winner so don’t make it. It just goes to show that if you want dessert, it’s better to just have less of the real thing than to have more of something disgusting.

On Time and Chocolate Pudding

12 Mar

It’s been a boring day so I don’t have much to report. Except I did go on a plant-buying spree and spend some time in the garden. Oh and I made a quick chocolate pudding (recipe below). Oh and I returned some library books and did a 400 meter swim test (14 seconds faster than last time!). I guess today was actually pretty full. Whatever. Instead of writing a whole big thing, I’m going to link to an article I just read on the USAT website entitled Fitness Isn’t Always a Linear Progression.

The article spoke to me because I was just bitching to the Commander about my last time trial test on the bike and how I was only .6 mph faster than the bike test we did when I was just back in January, weighted down by holiday fat and still riding my road bike. I was especially frustrated because I’ve been doing this whole High Intensity bike training program with him and I expected to be way faster than I was.

The article basically demystifies why we do what we do when we do it during an endurance training regimen. I read this and realized that I’d never really asked any questions about the logic of training phases. I mean I know the basics but in general, I pretty much just do what the Commander tells me to do. It’s what makes me eminently coachable: my willingness to just do what I’m told because I assume that the person telling me to do the thing knows more than I do. This is also one of the things that makes me eminently easy to walk all over in romantic relationships but that’s a whole separate post.

I’m lucky in that, over the many years I’ve been participating in amateur sport, I’ve had great coaches who know of what they speak. It’s been easy to give over to their authority. In athletics, proof is in the results and I’ve always been happy with my results and the results of my teammates. However, it’s always a good idea to be educated in regards to any endeavor so for that reason, I’m posting a link to the article. The big take-away from it is this, I think:

In our sport consistency is the key to growth. There is no one magic workout that is going to set you ahead of your competitors, but instead a steady diet of hard but manageable workload is what is going to keep you improving. In reality triathlon (or any endurance sport for that matter) is a very “blue collar” sport. There is no (legal) way to get around the fact that you need to put in the work to improve. So get out there and put the trust in your coach or your training program and let them carry you to a new season of personal bests!

And I mean, once again, I’m choosing to focus on what I have NOT accomplished as opposed to what I HAVE accomplished. My bike time was faster. It’s not like I got slower. And also, as stated above, my 400 time has been steadily decreasing between January (8:45) and today (8:17). Also, I’ve been getting way faster on my runs right off the bike. BECAUSE we’ve been focusing on cadence during the HI training sessions. So now, when I get out of the saddle, my legs just wanna go go go! So really, I’m living this article and need to cultivate patience and understand that the more time you put into training, the less time you put into the race.

Now to the pudding recipe. It isn’t great but if you’re craving chocolate and short on time, give it a whirl:

Quickie Chocolate Pudding

2 cups  unsweetened almond milk
3 tbsp sugar (I used coconut palm but you can use whatever you prefer)
2 tbsp corn starch
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp salt
1 pat of butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

Directions

Whisk one cup of milk with corn starch to make a slurry. In a sauce pot, whisk together the remaining milk, sugar, cocoa, spices and salt. Bring to a simmer and then add the slurry. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Run your finger across the back of the spoon. If the track stays clean, no drips, the pudding is done. Strain over a bowl to eliminate any lumps and then stir in the extracts and butter. Pour into 3 serving bowls. Cover exposed area with a small sheet of waxed paper or parchment or plastic wrap, then cool slightly and chill until cold. The pudding will continue to thicken as it cools.

About 150 calories per serving, 5.6g total fat, 1.5g sat fat, 21.2g total carbs, 10.2g sugar, 2.2g protein.