Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It’s my Birthday!

Ok today’s my birthday and with that I’ll take that literally to start- a-new today!   I can’t believe I’m 37!  I really do feel 25 most of the time, except when I think back to the things that ‘kids today’ just don’t get, yet they make me smile .
  • It was safe to walk to kindergarten alone (ok that one is sad)
  • Riding in the rear window of the car
  • Riding in the back of the el Camino
  • Watching my brother fall out of the car because we stuffed about 15 kids into the Nova to go to Dairy Queen
  • Going to the BANK with my ‘passbook’
  • Holding a paycheck in my  HAND
  • Having a console TV, console RADIO, and DIAL BUTTONS on my radio
  • Changing the channel with pliers
  • TV dinners in aluminum
  • Sticking the big extra square thing in the middle of my record player so the 45’s would play.  
  • Getting  home before the streetlights turned on
  • Bubble gum cigarettes (can you imagine giving them to kids today?)
  • Where’s the beef
  • Centipede
  • Asteroids 
  • Sticking the quarter in the Nintendo so the game would stick so I  could play Super Mario Brothers
  • Speak and Spell & Merlin
  • Tab 
  • Not eating the RED M&M’s because they were cancerous  

  • AquaNet
  • Crimpers
  • Giant Hair
  • Boys had tails
  • Roller skating (chess-a-rina for my pgh friends) 

  • RECORDS, 8 Tracks, the first CDs, BETA, VCR
  • Dance Party USA
  • you can’t do that on television “I DON’T KNOW”
  • Punky Brewster
  • Silver Spoons
  • Dukes of Hazard
  • “Bright Light, Bright Light”
  • Watching Marlena get possessed
  • Smurfs
  • Slap bracelets
  • Jelly shoes
  • Pegged pants
  • Giant shoulder pads
  • Laura Ashley
  • Sweatpants with ONE leg pulled up
  • 2 pairs of socks one to match your shirt - one to match your pants
  • Spending 10 min trying to put my jeans on in the AM, then not being able to breathe for the next 8 hrs
  • Ripping my  jeans and REALLY aggravating my parents
  • Stretch mini skirts, hypercolors t-shirts, (I have pictures, you know who you are and are lucky I’m not posting them).
  • HAIR METAL (although most of my friends didn’t like it until years later)
  • Girl bands (ok I was in one, we sucked – “angels without halos” LOL!)
  • waiting until Friday night 9PM - MUSIC VIDEOS
  • New Wave
  • Side B,
  • 10 speeds
  • 30 lb bikes
  • Writing on jean jackets
  • Boom boxes on your SHOULDER
  • Break Dancing
  • Really wanting the "yellow" Walkman!
  • Footloose
  • ALF
  • Love Boat
  • Night Rider (yea my ring tone is Night Rider right now)
  • The facts of Life
  • The Breakfast Club
 That's all for now.  2010 is almost over and I'm glad!  I'll write more soon I promise, I have much to catch everyone up on!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Back Inside

The weather is turning and although it would be nice to bike outside TODAY, I decided to return to the gym.  Two of my friends broke clavicles this year and I broke my elbow before in separate bike accidents.  I am nervous enough around wet leaves.. so spin class here I come.

I texted a few friends last Sat to let them know I was going to this class.  I purposely didn't ASK anyone if they were 'going', I just said "txt me if you want me to save a bike."  That way I'd feel compelled to go.... and it worked!  Sunday AM I woke up thinking "EWE, I could just lay here, but I don't know who may be counting on me to save a bike." -- So I went :).  Same thing happened to me on Monday!  I totally didn't feel like going to boot-camp, but because I conned Jen into doing it with me, I felt compelled to go.  Workout buddies are SOOO important, even if they don't show up :).

I had a migraine from Wednesday afternoon until I went to bed on Saturday!  But, as luck would have it, I was ok on Sun woohoo, so off to Spin class I went!  You have to get there early to get a bike so I had 30 minutes to wander around.  I decided I was going to run if it killed me, so I set up my bike then went to the DREADmill!  I ran a mile - eh yea so what it was only a mile but I RAN, didn't stop... just ran.  The machines face the pool and all I could think about is "oh, I could be doing laps right now." - but I did it anyway!

Since the diagnosis I have been really thinking about my form and how my body is moving, I'm really conscience of the mechanics of my joints.  I know that ChiRunning's motto is "Pain free running" but it couldn't be more appropriate for me!  I was really thinking about form, where my knees were, how my feet were landing and most importantly (for me) how short my stride was.  This made a huge difference in my ability to run the mile.

Once finished, I went to the spin room and jumped on a bike 15 min early- for a total of 1 hr 15 min on the bike.. I do love the bike and swim! perhaps I love it because of the impact on my joints!  I'm really looking at everything so different now!

I haven't signed up for the Providence 70.3, but its on the list and its in my head.  I don't think I'll sleep until I actually put the credit card down.

If you haven't yet, please see the facebook "LIKE" button above, it would be cool to get some recognition over there.. plus I put up my potential race schedule there and I have some other random stuff to keep there like recipes and thing that may be irrelevant for the blog.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Delusions of Fitness

It has been month since I've worked out!  I've gained 7 pounds!  I'm not married to the scale but man I hate that!  I've had a ton to think about though in these last 30 days!

I really need to get back into things, so I created the Facebook support page for this blog!  Thanks to those who have "Liked" me, if you haven't please do .. (shameless plug)!  look to the right for the LIKE button.

I started to look at next year's schedule.  I put myself down for a half marathon in March and a HALF IRON in July! I need to find a Marathon, then more importantly I need to figure out HOW TO RUN!  I had this same problem last year, I set my schedule and had all these plans for the year and then suddenly spring was here.. I hope to not let it happen like that next year!  Delusions.. I hope they aren't all Delusions!!

Some of you know that my tri-coaching partner was hit by a car while I was on vacation.  She also owns a bootcamp in town!  She was due to have surgery yesterday and I agreed to help with the bootcamp while she was recovering.  I've coordinated fitness groups before with no problem, specifically swimming/tri groups, but I'm knowledgeable in the other areas too. I spent a few days at bootcamp with Alexis,  where the women were introduced to me as a "workout leader"." As most of you have probably gleaned, I am up to any challenge, so even though the number of women was a little intimidating, I was ready for it!

WELL, yesterday, while Alexis was supposed to be in surgery I get a text from her. At first I thought someone stole her phone, then I thought she was just high on the drugs :).  Turns out that her clavicle was healing nicer than expected and NO SURGERY NEEDED.  Awesome!  I was looking forward to the challenge, but also relieved and happy for her to not be opened up!

Since I had already planned on getting up at 4AM, I decided to ATTEND bootcamp.  I totally felt like a male gynecologist (no equipment, yet all the knowledge).  I felt like all the women were looking at me &  looking at how pathetic I was doing the exercises. I felt like saying "hey, even though I may look pathetic, I DO know what I'm talking about :)"

I've been reading a ton about my Ehlers Danlos Syndrom (EDS) and many things are making sense now. This was my first workout since the diagnosis.  The first revelation was the mountain climbers.  I've always hated them, but today realized WHY!  Every time I brought my left leg up, it would click OUT OF PLACE!  ouch.. all of these years I totally thought I was just out of shape and couldn't make this work!

Another issue was with push-up and planks.  I've always had "weak wrists" and it really frustrated me. I thought "am I really that weak???" Well today I realized it's simply because of the EDS.  I had a hard time making sure my wrists were straight and stable.  (they move a LOT).  Also, if I had to drop to my knee at all, my knee caps would simply MOVE over..  again OUCH!

My last revelation was in a shoulder-weight exercise.  I was only using 5lb weights which were no problem 'muscle' wise, but I noticed that every time I got to a certain point that my entire shoulder would just move out!  I have to now figure out a way to do these exercises without pulling the joints out of place!

I'm now pumped that I'm not as pathetic as I thought!  I really did think that I was a slacker and just wasn't working hard.  I may have to re-learn some exercises, but I'm up to the challenge!  Plus, I have to figure out how to run, and at this point, there's not much wrong with my legs.. other than my brain :)...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A reason for the Migranes: Ehlers Danlos Syndrome

As many of you know, I have migraines.  I've had them for 30 years or so. Throughout my life I've figured out different reasons for some of them, and have reduced the severity and/or frequency of them. (eyesight, blood pressure, hormones, etc).  I've seen every specialist under the sun and had every test imaginable. Most doctors have just given me the shrug and I almost started to believe I was a hypochondriac. 

It was TRIATHLON that brought me to this answer!  During the Cohassett Tri, I met a woman during the run.  We got to chatting and she also had migraines.  We discussed the very similar symptoms, drugs,  and the fact that no doctor could figure out what the heck was wrong with us.  Randomly we also started talking about our hypermobility (aka my bar tricks).  I never in a million years thought the fact that I can bend my fingers backwards past 90 degrees, or the fact that my arms flip around would be a MEDICAL problem. And  that problem would  cause my migraines.  I never once thought to even tell my doctor about this!!!



Meeting this woman made me think "hm.. could they be related,  we both have migraines and hypermobility."  So I started to research, discussed with my doctor and he sent me to a Rheumatologist. Friday I was finally given an answer: Ehlers Danlos Syndrome - type 3 (hypermobility). **EDS is a Genetic Disorder of the connective tissues**   Unfortunately this is a diagnosis that doesn't have a genetic test, it has just symptom testing.  I will never be 100% sure, but no one with this type is.  I do have all the signs though.

The more I read about it, the more I have "AH HA" moments.  So many things are making more sense to me.  My back and hips always hurt; the bones always "fall out of place" (this is what causes my migraines).  Occasionally my hip will literally dislocate and I have to put it back. As a kid I used to use the screen door to do put the hip back.   Also on occasion the bones in my feet slip out of place and I have a really difficult time putting those back. This just makes me have to sit down for a while and massage my feet.  I just thought I was "super-flexible." 

I see a chiropractor weekly and during times of intense working out, I see my massage therapist often.  Turns out the myofacial releases are very typical and good for EDS.  Also, everything I have been doing has preserved my joints.  There is no cure nor is there a treatment for EDS.  Being athletic is helping and will allow me to stay at the pain level I am now.  Unfortunately there are others out there with EDS that are in constant joint pain and premature osteo-arthritis that can't be stopped. They continually dislocate their joints and can require braces and/or wheelchairs!  This is just more motivation to me to stay in shape (and now get the weight off the joints).

I suspect I will write a lot more about this as I continue on my journey.  I now have a reason for my pain other than "I'm a wimp" or "I'm out of shape" - I don't plan on using it as an excuse, but its nice to know that I'm not insane, or a hypochondriac- just a little odd :).


***updated 2/21:  This post gets a ton of search hits from Ehlers Danlos + Migraine people.  Please see this post as well for additional info, I wrote more info about me and my plight!
http://fatgirlironmanjourney.blogspot.com/2011/02/ehlers-danlos-you-can-have-it-and-be.html

**to get more daily updates Like my page on  facebook!**

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Connections and a Storm

I  took a little break from racing after the 50 mile ride  and went to Jamaica.  I thought it would be for a relaxing trip.  I would get to swim and dive and just hang out with friends in the sun.  Mother Nature had a different plan for me!

We arrived, checked in and I immediately went to the diveshack to meet the friends that work at the resort.   I made arrangements for John to take a kayak out super early in the AM so I could swim a good distance.   I prefer early in the AM so I don't get run over by a jetski or boat.  After the arrangements were made we left for the bar.

The next day I swam 1.17 miles along the coast. It was amazing to just swim straight, no real waves, boats, and relatively clear water.  I could see eel grass, starfish, the occasional fish such as a puffer.  I didn't even notice the distance and I'm sure I could have done 2 or 3x the length but I didn't want to bore John to death on our first full day of vacation so we returned. I figured I'd have 8 days to swim lots of miles!  I did notice that the quantity of fish seemed to be lacking and it was a little more murky than usual but didn't really think  much about it until a couple days later.

We also went on a dive that day too, it was a nice dive to about 60 feet.  We didn't see much except coral, some adolescent fish and TONS of lionfish.  The waters of Jamaica tend to be over-fished but I think the lionfish invasion is really decimating the coral reefs!  It really makes me sad!

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the dive because my camera broke.  I KNEW as soon as this happened that we were in for SOMETHING - Silly me, I just figured it would be a really cool dive such as seeing a Hammerhead shark, or a whale shark or something like that, I didn't even fathom it would be a tropical storm and I would be taking pictures with a Blackberry!

The next day we woke up early and went for another swim, this time with another friend.  He had only swam 1/4 mile up until this point so we set out for 1/2 mile. (I know I'm mean).   Half way through the swim the swells started to pick up and if you would breath to the outside you would get a face full of ocean.  This half mile was definitely harder than the 1.17 I did the day before!  Little did I know, that was the last open water swim I would have for the YEAR.

We watched the weather report and noticed this large weather mass "tropical depression 16" just SITTING on top of Negril.  This storm eventually turned into Tropical Storm Nicole and really put a damper on our vacation.  It just POURED the whole time, the ocean, which is usually flat calm, was a wreck, and there was so much devastation to the sealife.


We entertained ourselves with lots of silly games, and no real working out.. except one day Kevin and I went to a spin class!  Kevin was speaking with the instructor and she was a new triathlete!  She talked about doing "just a mini" tri, and I sorta yelled at her to be proud that its not "just a mini", it's a sprint and she should be proud.   In that respect I told her about this blog and she said "ya know what? I've actually read that!" (!! seriously??? how cool is that?). -


We eventually returned from Jamaica, NOT rejuvenated, NOT rested, and NOT ready for work.  BUT on a good note, I had a Sorority reunion the following weekend so I was getting BACK on a plane in a few days to go party it up with some old friends!

Partying and vacation really will take a toll on your EATING and EXERCISING habits!  I know that anytime I go home to Pittsburgh that I'm going to have a Primanti's sandwich (or two) and if I'm lucky, some Perogies! This is a large pile of greasy heaven! YYYUUUUMMM!!



I was pretty excited to see my sorority sisters after 15+ years, but it was like we never missed a day.  The thing that got me AGAIN (I'm not sure I'm going to get used to this), is the people who came up to me and recognized the blog.  Sisters who told me it was inspiring and that they were doing something because of it, or were just simply proud of me.  Awesome, simply awesome!  --Really, I don't think I'm going to get used to that, but its going to keep me writing.

I do know that I have to get back on the horse, I'm sure I've gained weight and lost muscle in the last month.  I'm going to be helping my training partner with bootcamp over the next few weeks so hopefully that will get me started. It will at least get me up long before the sun!

Here we go......

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

50 Miles for a good cause!

Saturday I completed a 50 mile bike ride in Kennebunkport, ME for Autism.

3:30 AM is quite early, but as it turns out, I already had a setting in my watch for 3:30AM?   I met up with friends Ethan and Michele @ 5AM and off we went on our 2 hr drive to ride our bikes for 4 hours. Turns out, Ethan ALSO had a 3:30AM already programmed into his alarm! (is there a therapy group for this?).

Michele and Ethan are great riders and agreed to ride "with" me, as I am much slower than they are. So supportive, although riding behind Ethan is like riding behind Andy Schleck! 

The day started off VERY cold! When we left MA, the temperature was in the mid-50's, but by 8AM in Maine, the temp was 41!  We layered up and I looked like a clown, oh well I was warm.  On a good note, each of our long sleeve shirts matched our socks!  There were about 80 riders in total for 2 separate rides, one 25 mile ride and one 50 mile ride.  The ride was absolutely amazing!

We rode along the coast and the temp eventually got up to a very respectable 60!  We even rode past the Bush Compound.  I didn't know it was the former president's house until AFTER I took the picture.

Speaking of taking pictures, I added the bento box on the bike for my Gu Chomps, but it also fits the blackberry nicely! Apologies for the quality of these pics, but its the best I can do while RIDING.  I can take pictures with my RIGHT hand, but have trouble with my left.  The following picture is what happens when I try to do it lefty!  I even have trouble taking the water bottles out lefty, so I should work on that!

Up until Saturday, my longest ride had been around 30 miles.  Leave it to me to increment a ride by 40%.  A normal person would increment by oh, 5%.. not me ;)..

At the beginning of the season I put this ride on my schedule so I would be forced to ride this distance by the end of the year. I fully expected to be in better shape by now, but .. well no buts, I just didn't get to where I expected.

Around mile 30, I thought "ok here we go - uncharted territory" - the first 30  miles were great, had a pretty good avg speed!  - Then Miles 30-38 felt like I did another 30 miles!  I thought, "HEY is my computer broken?? "   My legs started to fatigue a little, but in a good way.  My quads and hip flexors were getting some use that they hadn't seen to date!  My new bike shorts were doing the trick for other parts, so I was going to live.

I had an interesting revelation at Mile 42.38 and yes I know that number exactly.  Michele and Ethan had a discrepancy on their computers so I said "well mine is GPS: 42.38" - then I thought about that.. FORTY TWO MILES?? seriously I just rode FORTY TWO MILES? WOW!  I remember earlier in the year when my 12 mile loop just about killed me.---42.38! ---

That also meant just a few miles to go! woohoo!  We rounded the corner and onto the DIRT ROAD, yea last 1/4 mile on a dirt road was pretty fun (not)!  But luckily I didn't land on my head!  We headed in, and straight for the BBQ!

They were doing announcements, the highest donations, teams, riders that drove the farthest, etc.  Then they mentioned "the youngest rider." - This kid, slouched in his chair raised his hand as the youngest rider.  I thought "hm, I bet you did just the 25" so I went inside and asked how old the youngest was and which ride he did.. turns out he was 15 and did the 25.  WELL!!!!  My riding partner, Ethan is 14 - and rode the 50!  Not only did he ride the 50, but he kept it slow so I could keep up!

I swear, every post I find people that just make this sport awesome, and this spans ALL AGES!!

FYI:   It's not too late to contribute if you would like :)  http://www.firstgiving.com/laurabackus - this should be up for a couple weeks!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I am – Athena!

I am humbled by the number of people that are not only reading my blog, but are taking the time to tell me their stories.  I have people I don’t know telling me their plights, and even how I’ve inspired them to get off the couch.  I find it hard to believe that I’m inspiring anyone but it keeps me writing.  Today’s post is something I normally wouldn’t write about, but I feel that it needs to be said, and I write for all the Athena’s out there!

For those that don’t know, “Athena” is the nice word that Triathlon gives to the fat girls.. and by fat they mean anyone over 150 pounds.  It’s kinda like the “Women’s” section of clothing.. if you don’t know any better you might think “mature” – nope just means fat.  And if you’re like me and Short, you get to shop in “Petites”  -- ok "Petite-Woman” sounds so much better than “short fat section.”  Just like ATHENA is much cooler than “fat chick category.”  I guess it’s better than the men’s category: “Clydesdale” – I’d rather be a Goddess than a damn big horse :)

Fat is a relative term, I have friends that have given me the hairy eyeball “you’re not fat, shuttup, I’d be happy to weigh what you weigh.”  I also have friends that I used to be embarrassed to sit next to on the beach because they’re hot and I felt like I needed to cover up with a towel.   I am, by medical “statistics”  obese- I’ve worked out HARD this past year and, I completed 7 triathlons!  I can swim over 2 miles [updated 2012- 4 miles], I can ride 30+ miles [updated 2012 - 112 miles].  Seriously, they can bite me, I’m not obese, I’m “fit-fat” – is there such a thing?   I know how to wear my clothing, I choose not to wear clothing where my parts are hanging out!  I also choose not to show the tri pictures that are unbelievably unflattering! These are the reasons that people feel the need to tell me "you're not fat."

I hear stories of women who have lost 100 pounds, and are now triathletes!  I am not in that category, you guys ROCK!  I am destined to be a double digit size forever and I thank my relatives for that!  No matter what I do, I will have to drag the extra 30 lbs on the bike (hm.. go with Carbon fiber bike? Or just get rid of some fat).

I’ve learned to be ok with it, fighting with the scale gives me nothing but grief and makes me want to have a date with a pizza.  No matter what I do that needle does NOT move.  I’m getting too old to care about what people think.  So what if those 20-somethings think “omg what is that old fat chick doing in a bathing suit” – it's me and I can swim circles around them!    Triathlon has been amazing, it has given me something to focus on that has NOTHING to do with that number on the scale!

I am learning to watch my food intake for its power and how my body will use it for fuel, not what I will or will not see on the scale the next day. I am learning to enjoy working out for the fun of it, for the greatness of the sport, for the camaraderie of it.  I am seeking new heights in triathlon to see how far I can push myself. 

I’ve had a few people tell me to change the name of my blog, but the real story is, I’m a fat gal, but I’m fit!  I can do an endurance race at over 70-80% of my maximum performance for over four hours [updated 2012- 10 hours]!  Can you skinny people do that :)

I am fat!
I am fit!
I am ATHENA!

**This awesome Athena artwork was created  by Alayna Lemmer  and was published with permission.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A Year of Firsts

This year was a year of first for me!  I've been doing Tri's for a few years, but I tackled many of my fears this year, and had many firsts that I hope to not have seconds!!

I have done the following for the first time this year:

  • Started a blog 
  • Completed 7 triathlons in 1 year
  • Competed in a Pool Tri *annoying*
  • Competed with Men *what was I worried about??*
  • Competed in the Ocean *ok that was COLD*
  • Competed in 17 mph winds with 35 degree air temp.
  • Competed in 62 degree lake water
  • Completed my first Olympic Distance *.9 swim, 26 mile bike, 6.1 mile run*
  • Competed with a migraine (2 different races)
  • Added DRUGS to my transition layout *no not steroids, just the migraine drugs, but still an interesting addition*
  • Became a swim coach/mentor
  • Became an official swim buddy coordinator
  • Had my picture on the front page of a race organization site (not bad for a slow gal)
  • Had an article published in a different race director's newsletter
  • Finished Dead Last - complete with my own police escort
  • Finished 2nd Place in my Category
  • Crossed over 1000 miles on my bike *during the Olympic race*
  • Became somewhat ok with unflattering pictures of my rear end and other body parts (inevitable in tri's) 
  • Spilled Chicken Salad in my shoe --TWICE!!!
  • Splashed Milk in my eye
  • Puked at the end of a race (ok not the first time for that lol).
  • Ran 1.5 miles BAREFOOT.. nope not with those shoes, on a track in my bare feet!
  • Rode more than 30 miles in a single training session
  • Swam more than 2 miles in a single training session
  • Decided I REALLY am going to do an Ironman, finish in 17 hrs or not!
Lastly, and most importantly.... 
  • Discovered that this sport has the best people, and the greatest friends!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Season Finale

Sunday was my 7th and final tri of the season!  I raced with two friends Alexis and Pauline!  I can honestly say I was really excited about it from Feb until about June, then I started to freak out.  Around mid-July I REALLY started to freak out!  I had delusions that I would be a running gazelle by then!  Oh how life gives you things that are so different than what you expect :).

I spent August really working on my bike, I knew this was where I could gain the most for the race!  I went into the race feeling reasonably confident about the swim and bike, but really scared about the "RUN."- then mother nature decided to throw me another curve ball - a heat wave in New England!

I've raced 2 races this summer with full blown migraines &  I really didn't want this to be another one!  Friday I was so busy preparing for my parents to visit, trying to catch up with work so I could take a few days off after the race, that I FORGOT to hydrate!  By Sat AM I had a headache.... I kept thinking, great - here we ago again! I kept on top of it and was ok by Sunday AM!  Up at 3:30AM and in the car by 4:20 with my  Peanut Butter bagel in hand -woohoo, I was ready!

I felt great!  When I got to the race site, got my number, then met Alexis - she said "you're going to have a great race, they lost MY number." This meant I passed Mr. Murphy onto her!  Poor Alexis had to stuff her bike on a unmarked rack, then was forced to MOVE it again 10 min before the swim start!

So, onto the SWIM- .9 miles completely around this little lake.  It was very shallow, some parts I could touch the ground with my ARMS while swimming!  I can't imagine how tall people did it!  I saw some people walking,    I started out front right again, I think this will be my spot from now on, I really like it there!    I was kicked MANY MANY times, more than ever, but it didn't really bother me.  I had an awesome swim, I felt relaxed, kinda fast, and overall zen.

There was a really long run, AROUND transition to get to my bike, but I managed and off I went!  The ride was beautiful and fast!  I got a bento box and had some Gu Chomps with me. I have my air traffic control dashboard with me and finally figured out what numbers drive me on the bike (cadence, speed, and average speed).    Ever 15 min I would eat a chop and I kept my numbers in check.  This enabled me to keep a full 2 mph avg higher than I had been!  - VERY happy with my 26 mile bike!  --

I'm still a terrible climber. Even though the hills were tiny, I'm still slow. Every time I slowed down someone would say "hey awesome job, looking good" or something like that, and not until later in the race did I really appreciate that they MEANT it.  I totally thought "ugh, they're thinking 'poor fat slow girl."

I popped in another GU and just WENT, around mile 20 just found this burst of energy!  Some guy yelled out "woah, you look fresh as a daisy?!" -- interesting I thought, maybe I figured out how I need to fuel?

I passed a woman that had been in front of me the whole time, and just yelled out "hey, you're faster than me, and have been this whole race, come-on, you can do it" - so we cat and moused it the last 2 miles.  In Transition she yelled "hey thanks, I needed that." - of course she then RAN..  I knew I wasn't going to be able to run 6.1 miles!

The heat was starting to rage by this time, I have no idea what temp but it was in the 90's.  I started out with my run, which is about 14min mile.  I did that for 1 mile then walked, I can walk the same speed so I decided to just walk!  I noticed this guy in front of me, fit and appeared to be struggling.  He would walk/run/walk/run.  I rounded a corner about mile 1.7 and he was sitting in the grass on the side of the road.  I just walked over, gave him a hand and said "lets go, only .3 to the next aid station, you're walk/running what I'm just walking @ the same speed, I bet you can just walk this."  So he got up, and told me that he had just not fueled properly today.  He was bonked for sure!  I said "they have Hammer Gel at the station, grab a couple, see if that helps." - so he did, and we kept walking, and he started to feel better...

About .25 from the finish line, a police man said "hey its only a short distance left, finish strong!" so he said "ok lets run" --- as you can imagine he ran LOTS faster than I do, so off he went, and I just puttered along.  He noticed I was missing and STOPPED and waited for me!  When I caught up, he said "I would have been a DNF if you didn't pick me up off the ground." - So we crossed the finish line together!

These are the things I love about this sport!  You really do  meet the best people!

And now I've completed an Olympic Tri!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Riding and Riding and Riding..

My first Olympic is rapidly approaching!  3 days and counting!!  A couple weeks ago I decided that it was just too late to deal with my lack of running training, so I would try to amp up my Bike and Swim.  After a few mile swimming workouts, I conceded that I have 'one speed' right now.  So, considering dropping time in the swim  was also a lost cause this late in the game, the only way for me to really gain some time on this race was the bike!
I've had the pleasure of riding with some really strong riders these past couple of weeks.  I really feel bad when this happens, because I know I hold them back, but it also is something we all NEED to do!  I pushed myself to a limit I didn't know I had!  With John and Kevin, no sleep, and terrible fueling, I was able to push out the best time ever on my normal bike loop!

I know I will always make it a point to ride some of my rides with people can push so I can pay it forward!  Thanks guys!  And to the rest of you (you know who you are), I will be ready to ride with you soon!  I promise!

I had my bike re-fit, and it made a tremendous difference and has helped me push myself!  I got my first fit when I purchased the bike. Not only have I changed as a rider, I've quite literally changed in shape, plus I think the first fitting was done with a tape-measure and a protractor!  I spent three hours with Landry's in Westboro, MA and it was worth EVERY PENNY!  They record you, and use a laser  for measurements then you can watch yourself on the monitor with before and after pictures.  She noticed that my seat was too big, (no people I did not buy a big cushy seat, I just had the one that came with the bike)!   Man, I was all over the place, waggling back and fourth!

New seat - waggling gone! - energy conserved!

Next was the placement of my cleats.  She noticed that one of my knees was turning at an awkward angle, so she moved it so my foot was slightly turned in.  It was weird at first, and I'm still having trouble clipping in the first shot, but no more knee pain!!!

She made several other adjustments including changing the way I sit, and set me up to get closer to my aero position. Since I'm hypermobile, she mentioned that I will be much more comfortable bent in half (and I can bend in half)!  I cannot wait to get the new tri-bike!


If all goes well, I will hit 1000 mile mark on my bike DURING the race!  - Then I may be able to retire her from Triathlons in peace!



I had an awesome ride with Ali and Jay in RI last Saturday!  The weather couldn't have been more perfect.  We had intended on 33 miles around Tiverton and Compton, however the directions were incorrect and lead us to a couple of dead ends. 

We drove around through these amazing sights! - That I can't believe I dared to TAKE PICTURES while riding :).


Thanks to everyone that's been riding with me!  I can't do it without you!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Long Strange Summer

It's been a long strange summer!  Six races down and one to go! I thought by this time I would be in tip-top shape, would be ready to run a half-marathon and would be so ready to do my Olympic next weekend!  HAHA!

I still can't run and I'm doing OK on the bike.  I wish I was faster on my swim (don't we all)? but  I'm good with it.  Some day I'm just going to swim until I can't swim anymore to see just how far I can go.  Boredom always gets me first!

This week has been my strongest week so far, I rode with some very strong riders < Thanks Kevin and John D>.  Kevin really is a natural, I can't believe he just started cycling!  They pushed me out of my comfort zone and even though they had a leisure stroll, I had the best time ever on my normal bike loop!    I am also enjoying my new 'fit'- unbelievable what a difference some small adjustments to the bike can make!  I can actually climb a little now!


This week has been crazy, trying to manage getting home, and onto my bike or into the lake before the lifeguards leave, or the sun goes down.  I've turned by bedroom into a transition area, and have now added "put contacts in, change out of work clothes" as part of T1 :).

I plan to ride a nice 33 mile ride tomorrow through some beach towns in RI, then a Bike/Swim on Sunday.  Then I'm onto the taper-week.  It's sad that I'm approaching the last race of the year, but I'm ready to get back to the gym and ready to start getting stronger!  I have a lot more work to do than I thought!

I will be over 4 hours on the Olympic, the run is going to kill me and will probably be half of my time, but I will finish!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Can!


I've been thinking  a ton lately about how crazy I am to think that I can do an Ironman!  This sport is so addicting, and it just makes you want to push yourself to new limits.  I am not fast, I am not an elite athlete, I just like to do it!  Plus I have this 'need' to go to the n-th degree of everything I try!  I have  2 hr sprint and I'm probably going  to have a 4 hr Olympic at the end of the month, I'll probably have a 16:59:59 Ironman (if I'm lucky).  In my mind this is pretty sad since I've been working on this all year.  I've thought a TON about giving up and just keeping with the sprints and keeping with my " I'm last" phenomenon.

I'm very motivated by sports in general, things like the movie Rudy make me cry!  I love sports, I love seeing people overcome obstacles, and just plain managing to "do it."  I've had a tough couple of months, battling my hyper-mobility and most recently I discovered I'm allergic to something and I think its whey!  The whey (if it is that) allergy is lovely considering I'm trying to eat better and fuel properly for the longer races.  The attack put me in a ball on the couch/floor for four days!  FOUR DAYS!  This is in a critical period before my first Olympic tri!  UGH! is all I have to say.  Again, I was ready to give up, and just say "F -it." 

So Sunday rolls around, a friend came over and we were supposed to bike, instead we went shopping.... on a good note, after eating a bunch of crap (chicken fingers, spinach and artichoke dip) I actually felt pretty good!  While stuffing my face, another friend texted me to remind me that KONA was re-airing, so I asked John to record it for me.  Even though I've seen it, I knew I needed the motivation.

For those that don't know, Kona is the Ironman championships, you have to come in top 3 in select OTHER Ironman races during the year in your age group to even qualify for Kona.  - These are the best of the best!  Now there are some others that participate, I'm not quite sure how they get in there, but for the  most part it's the best!

They start out with the athlete stories, first is the woman who had a stroke 2 years ago and was told she would most likely not walk- so what's she do? 2 years later, completes an Ironman!     Next, this man who was born with birth defects that rendered his legs useless and he had them amputated, he completed the swim and the bike but missed the cutoff by 7 seconds.  A 75 year old man who has completed Ironman Kona for 20 years straight.. a Cancer patient, A man who has lost 300 lbs, etc.

Then I think about Rick and Dick Hoyt, I've had the honor of watching them compete in triathlons, I am dumbfounded knowing that  they do IRONMAN too!  Dick is amazing, what I struggle to do as a 36 year old, he does as a 70+ year old PUSHING his son!!!  I have to think, seriously? what is my problem?

I sit and watch these stories and wonder, what the hell am I thinking, I'm just a regular Joe with no excuses, get off my butt and DO IT! 

Why???

Because I CAN!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

My First Close Call

Ok, to be honest, it wasn't really my FIRST close call, but it was the one where I thought I might actually get clobbered by a truck. 

I have RoadID on my facebook and they keep posting the terrible accidents that bikers are having and how "roadID" has helped them.  GREAT, but I dont want to read about this daily, nor do I want these things stuck in my head!

I've been lucky until this point.  You can read about one close call earlier in the blog, I broke my arm because I was scared of a truck coming near me.  The truck was doing nothing wrong, nor was he near me, thus it was MY OWN STUPIDITY!    Then once, I had a dog chase me.  I pulled my foot out of the cleat thinking I might have to kick him in the face before he ripped off my leg; luckily he ran out of steam.

Yesterday's incident was closer than those two, and it pissed me off more than scared me! 

I have a 14 mile loop that I ride all the time.  The first 4 miles are pretty dangerous, lots of cars, two interstate on-ramps, a state highway with no breakdown lane, etc.  If I'm going to get hit or have a close call anywhere, I expect it to be in these 4 miles.  Then the rest of it is on  nice rolling hills, through back roads and usually limited traffic (it's the Webster, Danskin Tri course for anyone that knows that).

I left the scary area unscathed, and started up 'the hill' - I was pleasantly surprised at my ability to climb the hill too!  I had my bike re-fitted on Wednesday, then went for a 28 mile ride on Sat.  The re-fitting and new saddle make for a sore ride, especially on day 2.  The ride on Sat was very flat so I had no idea what the affect would be on the climb on Sunday.  It was amazing, I was at least 2x faster!   It's crazy what you can do when your body is in the right position and you're actually USING the muscles!  So I got to the top of the hill, said hello to Cutter, (the horse that lives at the top), then started the descent.  I was on quite the high, I might actually be able to beat my time today, even with the sore rear!

At the bottom of the hill there's a hard right turn, then from here I can really crank it.  There are lots of road, usually no cars, and you can see a good distance ahead.  I can usually go the speed limit (or faster).  I came to the crest of this little hill and was approaching about 25mph, and I saw this large box truck on the left sticking out of a driveway.  He looked RIGHT AT ME!  now, I have an ORANGE BIKE, I was wearing HOT-PINK, AND I was going OVER the speed limit!  He hesitated, twice, then proceeded to pull out!  Of course he doesn't know how to drive either and pulls out that he takes up the ENTIRE road and basically STOPS in the middle.  Luckily I saw him, and anticipated what he was going to do, so I put on the brakes before I got to him.  There really was no where for me to go either, he was covering the entire road, and the side of the road was a brick wall! 

His wife or someone else was behind him in another car (same driveway).  Man did I curse him, it's been a long time since I rode one handed for that long ;).. I know he heard me too!  I turned to the wife, (who saw the whole thing) and proceeded to scream what a Jackass the man in the truck was..   I hope she tore him a new one when they got to wherever they were going.

So the rest of the ride, I was just fuming, then kept thinking of the RoadID accident reports where people are REALLY getting clobbered by trucks!  I know I'm lucky, but really, how do we get people to not be so stupid? (not in my lifetime, I know)...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Adjustments

I've been thinking lots about adjustments lately, adjustments to my workouts, to my body, to my equipment, to my eating, etc.  Too many things to think about!

I'll start with eating, we all know I have a problem with food!  I've made some adjustments - I started to make a conscience effort to include more protein.  I enjoy my bagel with light cream cheese a couple days a week, but I also have my homemade quiche the rest of the time!   I know we can keep reading about it, but the carbs in the bagel are great, but they make me crash quicker than the proteins!  All this working out and I haven't lost a single pound,  I've actually gained weight so we all know this is where the problem lies!

Another "food "adjustment I made was moving from the G2 Gatorade to Skinny Water. I love G2, but since I can't drink much of anything else, I was drinking LOTS of it.  I didn't realize how much extra SALT I was consuming until I went diving one day and couldn't get my wetsuit over my calves!  (Then proceeded to put a hole in the $500 wetsuit)! -- onto Skinny Water and that seems to have solved that problem, I'm not a gigantic bloated mess anymore!

If you read my blog, you know that I'm hyper-mobile, so I'm always getting adjusted from a bones standpoint, I can't go a week without something falling out of place.  Before I started training, I could go months, now its 5 days before I start to feel it.  It's nice that I'm body aware, but its getting old.  I went to get my road bike re-fitted and during the fit she measured my legs, one leg was significantly longer than the other, I'm like "wait" -- wiggled around a little.. "how's that?" -- yea I can move it around... It made for an interesting bike fitting that's for sure.

So, I did get my bike adjusted. I knew I needed it, but didn't realize HOW MUCH I needed it.  Apparently I've been riding several inches too low on the seat, too big of a saddle, cleats in the wrong spots, handle bars in the incorrect position.. hm.. that's why I'm slow :)..   I can't wait to go out and ride tonight to see if it makes a difference, or if there are so many changes that I'll just be in pain! I know my rear end will be in pain.  That new saddle is..... skinny.... I didn't have an old lady seat before, it was the one that came with the bike!  But apparently my waggling back and fourth  wasn't due to anything other than me trying to keep my butt on the seat! who knew??

I'm starting to really think about running, been stressing about running shoes.  My current shoes are massive, and have big orthotics.  I am ready to go to the Evo (no Toe shoes for me.. ewe), but I went into the Running store the other day and they half talked me into a cross-country shoe (minimalist shoe).  UGH.... too many things to think about!!!!

John is getting good at taking pictures, but with that comes my scrutiny of my form on ALL THREE Sports!  I found several adjustments I have to make swimming too.. I really had no idea I was picking my head out of the water that far to breathe, maybe he was catching the sighting breaths only.. but still.. 

4 Weeks until my first Olympic distance Tri, I really need to iron out these adjustments!  Then the 50 mile ride for Autism in Sept.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Race Day # 6 2010

Race Day!

I do love going to the SheRox/Danskin races in Webster for two reason:
1). they're in my backyard
2). so many newbies



These two races are GIGANTIC!  I've participated with any number from 1500-4000 women, yup that's not a typo 4,000!!!  I love seeing the women there, all shapes, sizes, ages (yea you can see everyone's age advertised on our LEGs)!  Many of whom its their first tri, but for most of them it won't be their last! It is so addicting!  I am so damn slow, yet I can't stop!  Sunday was race # 6 of the season!  I'm getting comfortable with being last! (at least this time it was just last in my age group).



I am amused at the quantity of CRAP people bring to transition though, most races require you to walk and/or ride your bike, yet people pack for the weekend!  I saw bags big enough to carry a body home (or maybe that was the point?).  You need the gear that you're going to USE during the race, not every contingency known to man... people its not going to SNOW in July.. you aren't going to need a blanket, you aren't going to need 43 pairs of socks.. and for heavens sake, you don't need a comforter and pillow set out in your transition area.  I did wonder if some folks were going to take a nap in transition!  I felt junk-envy when I saw the woman across from me, she had about 1500 calories worth of energy packs.. 1500 CALORIES!  do you know how long of a race you'd have to do to burn that???

Ok in all seriousness, packing for race day has actually become pretty easy for me, especially a sprint!  My bag seems to pack itself.  The day before, my bench seems to "collect" gear. - Then as I pack my SMALL BACKPACK, I make myself a little "woman" - I say "swim, bike, run" and make the little woman out in how I would look in each sport.  This way I won't forget anything. 


Unfortunately this race was yet another one that just about killed me though.  Saturday about 4PM, I started to get a migraine, and not just a normal one!  A really, really bad one!  I was getting pretty bummed because we had so many people from the group doing it, PLUS I was hosting the after party! I've never once thought, "I am not doing this race." but about 6PM, I thought "if I feel like this in the AM, I'm not doing it."....


Lots of drugs later, and probably 2 hrs of sleep later, it was time to get going!  Even though I ate properly, I'll spare the details but suffice it to say I was not properly fueled for the race!  I didn't feel "as bad" in the AM so I decided the show must go on!  Thing is HUGE races take FOREVER to get going, there were 23 waves of over 100 people in each wave!  4 minutes a wave!  It was after 8 before I even got to swim!  By the time I got in the water, I needed more drugs.   It was pretty funny to lay out drugs with my Gu on my tiny little towel in transition.


I had an ok swim, there was no way it was 1/2 mile ;)..  I tried something different this time.  I'm normally an outside back of the pack person, this time I tried outside and FRONT.  The Danskin & SheRox races are SUPER polite so I thought if I got kicked today it wouldn't be that bad.  Turned out  I kinda liked it.  I had lots of feet and arms all over the place, and had a few abrupt noodle stops (people with noodles standing in my way) but other than that, it was quite nice!  I even saw a big box kite out there, I might have to go try to find it again later.


I probably would have had a better overall time but I just moseyed along to T1.  I could have taken a rest in one of those comforters/pillow stations.   I jumped on the bike and went for a ride.   The ride was pretty nice because there were lots of people for me to pass!  That NEVER happens, and especially when I didn't feel well, this was a little boost for me!


About 1/4 mile from the end of the bike, there's a big cluster of people, spectators, runners, bikers, etc. This woman on a bike was ALL over the road, and would not let me pass her.  My choice was to get hit by a car, run over a runner, or just sit back and watch her COAST down the road, she wasn't even peddling .. so aggravating.




I eventually passed her and sprinted down the last 25 yards.  I was actually mad at that point so I ran to T2.. kinda funny for me!  Then the run UGH!  Migraine, AND my miserable running ability - I decided to run/walk every .25 miles.  I actually kept up with that, except the few places where I knew people. They made me run longer (thanks guys) btw, I use the term "run" loosely. 


I rounded the corner toward Waterfront Mary's expecting to see the old lady with the hose, she was not there.  She was about 100 anyway :( how sad- I missed her, I'm sure about 2000 of us missed her.


Once I rounded that last corner, I knew I had just over a mile to go - woohoo!  I really thought about swimming though, I could have jumped in the lake shoes and all and swam to the beach no problem!  It would have been easier than the run!


I love rounding the corner to Webster lake, its FILLED with people cheering you on.  I knew I could run in, so I did.... then .. thank goodness, it was DONE!

We collected the group, and went to my house for a cookout!




Congrats everyone for finishing, and for kicking ass, and for really having a fun party after!  Anne, Alexis, Me, (the tall one) Mireya, Julie, Pam, Stellah!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Swim Tidbits

I thought I’d write a bit about swimming tidbits.  These are tips I’ve picked up or told over the years a ton of times.  May sound stupid to some of you, but believe it or not, some people were never told some of this! 

Gear- what to buy.

The most important things are FIT AND COMFORT Do not listen to people that say you have to have the most expensive, fastest, most innovative, etc .. what you need is the item that FITS YOU best and is most COMFORTABLE!

Goggles:
I’ve been to way too many ‘talks’ where the speaker says “you NEED to buy the wide goggles, you can see more” – well if your face is shaped differently and you constantly get water in your eyes, you can’t see ANYTHING, it is USELESS.    I personally cannot wear those types of goggles, my face is short and the water leaks under my cheeks.  I’ve seen friends with flatter noses try the same thing.. bottom line, try them!  Expensive doesn’t mean “better” for you!  You have to find the goggle that FITS.

I do find that I enjoy a TINTED goggle especially on sunny open swims!

Swim Suits v TriSuits:
Again, you don’t NEED a tri-suit (one piece suit to swim in, bike in, run in). Try one out, see if you like it!  There are different kinds out there.  I’m short, so I personally like the two piece tankini and then tights/bike shorts.  You can also go to the restroom a little easier with two pieces!   Plus, I have a problem with the zippers on the tri-suits, they like to come un-done on me.

FIT AND COMFORT, it’s up to you on what you are comfortable with, don’t let expense or peer pressure make you get one.  It is best though, to have one ‘outfit’ to wear during the entire race, especially the shorter ones. Find what works for you and do it.

Wetsuits
I love my wetsuit!  The first time I swam with my wetsuit, it cut 10% off my time on a ¼ mile!  Again, you don’t need an ‘EXPENSIVE” one, but you do need to find one that fits you comfortably.  Wetsuits are generally uncomfortable though if you’re not used to them.  They will be tight around your neck, and arms if you get the sleeved one.  You should be able to move, and breathe without the feeling of being strangled or reduced lung capacity.  A wetsuit should not be loose though.  You do NOT want enough space where water can ‘woosh’ in your suit, that will keep you cold and uncomfortable.

Sleeves vs sleeveless -  up to you, the conditions you will be swimming in.  Again this is down to FIT AN COMFORT (see a theme?).  What is your tolerance to the colder water? Do you freeze in warm water?  Sleeves are probably better for you.  Are you super buoyant as a swimmer? Sleeveless might be the way to go.   These are factors to consider when going sleeves or sleeveless. 

I go with my sleeveless unless the water is less than 64 degrees.  My arms are pretty buoyant (as is the rest of me), so the sleeves make me feel like I have to work harder to keep them down.  – personal body type though. 

Remember what works for one person may not work for someone else, take in all the advise you get, but use your judgment!


Gear- How to take care of it.

Goggle’s –
Water:
 If you’re getting water in them all the time, first, are they too tight.. yup.. TOO TIGHT!  You can tighten them to the point where the lip flips over and becomes useless.  Try loosening them!  You want a little suction, but you do not want indentions in your eyeballs!    If you’re still getting water in them, it’s possible that the type of goggle may not work for you.  Look at yourself in the mirror, is there a space around your nose, is there a space next to your eyes on the sides, if so it may not be the right type for you.  Try another kind.

Fog:
Goggles will fog up.. LEARN HOW TO SPIT.  I can’t say this enough, so I'll say it again, learn how to spit!  Not this silly little ‘tah’ – work up a gross white amount of SPIT.. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve seen, LICK, or gently spray their goggles with saliva.. that just ain’t gonna cut it.. :) .  You want to get the film off the goggle and spit works great!    Use your finger to wipe it around, then wash it off. 

You can buy an mask anti-fog cleaner from a scuba shop, however you won't be racing with it, so it will only be useful to you for the FIRST part of your race! 

Another trick to fogging up is to keep water in your goggles.  After you defog (with spit or defogger), put some water in them and leave it there until your ready to put them on your head.

Lastly, if you’re getting an excess of fog, wash your goggles with toothpaste (the regular kind).  Use enough to coat both sides and rinse it well.  This will help get some film off of it as well.  Careful not to use the toothpaste with abrasive material, you dont want to scratch your goggles!

Wetsuits:
Too tight:
DO NOT DRY IN THE SUN… let me say that again.. DO NOT DRY IT IN THE SUN!..  neoprene shrinks in the sun!  so many of us think we gained weight, nope, you let it sit in the sun and it shrank!

Dry it in a cool- dark/dry place if you can!

If you find your suit too tight, you CAN stretch it. 2 liter bottles are useful.  For example if the arm is too tight, put the bottle in the arm hole and leave it there overnight. 

Washing:
You don’t need to wash your wetsuit   with soap after every use, however you should rinse it.  Rinse it VERY WELL if you were in salt water or chlorine. Try to limit chlorine exposure as it will break down the material and shorten the life of the suit.

You can soak your suit or wash it using dawn dish detergent.  You can also buy a special wetsuit cleaner from a scuba shop, but dawn works just fine. 

Getting in:
Wetsuits:

Many people struggle to no end getting into a wetsuit.  Trick #1, - it’s not pants, don’t yank it up like it’s a pair of jeans!    Roll the suit down until the crotch is exposed, and stick your legs through.  ROLL the suit up your body.  DON’T YANK.  If you try to stick your legs in you will end up with a big gap in the crotch and will be struggling with it, especially if it’s hot.  If you have trouble getting your feet in, put your feet in a plastic bag before sticking them through the leg holes, but don’t forget to still ROLL it up.

Women, think about putting on the wetsuit like you put on pantyhose!  - Men,  I don’t know what to tell you, ask a woman how to put pantyhose on.

You can also use a mixture of Dawn and water in a spray-bottle to assist.  Only do this if you’re in open water, don’t soap up someone’s pool!  Spray your arms/legs with the soapy water and you’ll find you slide right in. (still roll in).

Swim Caps:

Swim caps are a pain – but are a necessary evil.  I’ve seen a lot of demos where they tell you to stretch it and just stick the top of your head in…. guess what- you’re going to send that cap flying.  I’ve sling-shotted one a good 15 feet once!  If you have shorter hair, open the cap using both hands then stick your forehead in the front of the cap and stretch it around the back of your head. Then tuck your hair in as appropriate. 

If you have longer hair (like I do).  Flip the pony tail over the top of your head, open the cap up, and start from the back of your head and stretch it to the front.  Then pull the pony tail down as required.

Make sure you get the air bubble out of the top.

Swimming:

I’m not going to get into too much here, except – Total Immersion is awesome!  Take a class if you can!

 And if there’s three suggestions I can offer its:

  1. Don’t kick so much, this is where much of your Oxygen is spent, and its why people think they can’t swim that far!  You only need to kick to keep your-self horizontal.
  2. Head in the water!!!!   Holding your head out of the water is a big waste of energy.  It’s like driving your car down the road with a parachute sticking out the back.  Get comfortable with your head IN the water! 
  3. Stroke and Glide.. (ok this belongs to a friend Jim, but its in my head ALL the time).. just remember Stroke .... and GLIDE...


I hope some of this helps!       

Monday, July 19, 2010

Oh Yea.. THAT'S WHY!!!

 Yesterday, I volunteered at the Mass State Triathlon.  I know I said no more, but I was signed up for this one and one in Sept.  I just didn’t have it in me to do 2 races this month, so I volunteered to be a swim buddy.   Half of the group I’ve been assisting this year was competing in this race,  so I really thought I should go.  

I convinced  a group of folks into being swim buddies with me. Some had done it before, some were new and a little apprehensive of doing it.   The night before was a little weird, I was like “ugh, I’m not racing.”  But then I remembered the joy of being a swim buddy.  I kid you not, it really is a great experience!

A swim buddy is a pretty cool and the most rewarding job @ a race.  We hang out in the water typically between the start and 100 yards in.  Most people that freak out are going to do so in this small space.   We have flotation devices and have them to offer to racers who are tired or panicked.  We give them the option to take a quick break and keep going.  When we are in the water, they don’t have to get ‘pulled out” and get the dreaded “DNF.”   We let them hang on, talk them out of the panic, have them breathe, and offer to swim next to them if the want.  Just having someone next to them, is often all the encouragement people need to finish!

Yesterday was typical of my experiences as a swim buddy!   Since there were only 5 swim buddies, they didn’t “announce” that we were there.  Tim, the Race director did let a few people know and within a few minutes, two women asked to have assistance for the swim.    The first few waves, each of us swam back and forth from the first buoy looking for signs of distress, with only a few people who needed to ‘catch their breath.’

I saw the yellow caps and went to pick up my buddy.  She was visibly shaking.  I just grabbed her by the shoulders and said “you do know how to swim right?” she said yes –I said “you’ve swam this distance before right? “ – she said yes…

 So I said “take a deep breath” – (then another).. – then I said, well I’m here, and I have a float, so you can stop whenever you want, and guess what:  you have as long as you want to finish this!  You’ve done this before, and it’s no different!

Off we went!  She did great!  She only hung on 2x during the entire course, and that was when 2 waves of splashy men came by!  A few times she  looked at me and said “there is no way I would have got this far without you”!   My response was “well when you get more comfortable, you will be a swim buddy, and will swim with someone and talk them though and tell this story” – she just laughed- yup she was relaxed enough to laugh.

We got closer and closer to the finish line and she was on her back.  I told her to turn over and swim looking at that lovely finish line! To enjoy it, she was ALMOST there!    I touched bottom first, and I told her “hey the bottom is there if you want it.” – she just looked at me, gave me a huge hug, and this wave of just pure emotion covered her face.  Exhaustion, excitement, and the best..... triumph..

She did it!



and Oh yea, that's why I volunteer!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Red Feet

Had a chi running clinic yesterday.  It started with just two of us for the level II, on the track &  It was sweltering hot!  My form is ok, I can get into the "c" shape ok, but I have trouble keeping it while 'leaning.'  I look back at pictures from races and I look like a duck, so I know I have some work to do.  I asked Vince what I can do about the "duck" as well as my hip-bursitis and he noted that I'm crossing my feet very close together.  His suggestion : run barefoot to feel the ground under you, and 'know' where you're going.  Note, I was in myBARE feet, none of these weird 5 toe shoes!

Ok good idea ---- in theory!

The level I class joined us, and I removed my shoes.  The rain came, THANK GOD, it felt so nice!  Running the first lap in barefoot was pretty cool.  It really made me pay attention to where my feet were landing, and I wasn't thinking about how out of shape I am, I was thinking about - where my feet were landing.  I have to say I felt drunk as I staggered along the track line! 

The 2nd lap was good, it was nice to run in the puddle too!   We practiced the 2nd and 3rd gears and I think I'm getting it, I just need to build up some endurance.  The bare-feet thing was pretty cool up to this point too, it made me think about those weird shoes, except... do I REALLY need another thing to spend money on??

3rd lap, I actually looked at the bottom of my feet - EEK.. the track was red, and so was the bottom of my feet!  not so much from irritation but from the color of the track.  I felt like Lady McBeth!

4th lap, OUCH... each step was irritating, I could feel each raised groove in the track!  I swear I was floating just because I didn't want my feet to touch the ground! 

5th lap - just torture.. I splashed through the puddles as much as possible, got to the other side and found my precious shoes!

We then practiced hills.  I learned some new techniques on how to go up a pretty steep hill without straining the calves, also I learned how to go 'down' a hill  without killing myself or really pounding my knees.

All in all, a good day.. but damn my feet hurt today!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Niche

Well, good news is I found a niche, bad news it’s at a terrible cost to ME!

I’ve been assistant-coaching a tri-group.  I am not very good at the bike or run part, but I’m an ok swimmer.  I wouldn’t call myself a swim coach, but as a divemaster, I am trained to help people with fear, anxiety, and other issues with the water.  I’ve turned that into something useful for triathlons.   My specialty isn’t to teach people to swim, nor is it to teach people to swim fast.. But to teach folks to swim efficiently and without fear of their face in the water, without fear of fish, seaweed, and to just slow down and enjoy it.  As a good friend once told me (and its repeated in my head over and over and over and over..) STROKE AND GLIDE…..

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a remarkable change in several folks, and it has been special.  I’ve seen SEVERAL people not be able to do one lap in the pool and within 1 hour be able to do a ¼ mile swim!  It really is rewarding in itself! 

HOWEVER! I’ve spent this summer worrying about other people, volunteering almost all of my free-time helping others that I forgot about me.  I went for a bike ride on Sunday and it was PATHETIC.  I feel like I totally wasted the last 8 months of training, and the thousands of dollars I’ve spent on personal training. I feel like I just let it go! 

I have my first Olympic triathlon just around the corner, and sure I can hustle, but I don’t have the luxury of spending the $$ on the personal training again, nor do I really have the luxury of the time anymore.  I was volunteering almost 40% of my free time to the tri-group, then another day to PT, and another day to Pilates.. There’s my week - no real time for my training. (now of course I didn't push it either).

I love to dive, and I had anticipated that I would have time to spend diving the 2nd half of the summer. I'll have to decide which I want to do, dive or tri!  I have to rush back to get into the shape I was in back in May!  It’s sad really!  Sure I can do it.. but had I planned a little better, not just ‘given’ myself, I wouldn’t be in this situation!

I guess the moral of this is to not forget about YOU! – because no one else is going to remember YOU!

Monday, June 28, 2010

On Your Left!


Just finished the Cohasset Tri yesterday. It was an absolute beautiful day, calm flat ocean - clear skys, etc. Apparently the last few Cohasset races were not so lucky! This race is a nationals qualifier so all the elites of New England show up! It was the fastest sprint sellout in the country- It sold out in just 60 hours!

I felt kinda icky on Sat, nothing in particular, just my lower back hurt and my hips/ITbands always hurt. Woke up Sunday bright and early 4AM, and I didn't eat what I had prepared to eat. We ended up being a little late so I ate a bagel instead. Anne stayed over and we picked up Alexis and went on our way. Arriving in Cohasset right on time 6:15AM.

You had to park 1.5 miles away from the venue, our Tri-Sherpa John brought a bike too so he could also ride to the race site! We get to registration pick up, I give the woman my info, she checks me off the list and goes to get my packet.. of course it's missing.. seriously I AM MURPHY! So we stand there for a while as they dig around the boxes, then he race director comes over and shoves a "race day late entry" thing in my face and tells me to sign it. ???? I"m like "uh, I've done this??" - he THEN explains that they'll issue me a new # if I fill it out. So I fill it out, then some guy comes over and hands in my packet, they had given it to someone else! We joked that it was probably Scott Brown :) - ONLY ME!


The race was in a great location, the beach was awesome but freakin COLD! I debated between sleeves and sleeveless. Anne had a shorty sleeveless so I decided to go sleeveless just because she was. I'm glad I did too! They had a pretty long wait between waves and it was VERY hot out. I would have died if I had that long sleeve on!


I've never done an ocean race, nor a beach start. I like messing with my goggles in the water. With a beach start you have to have them set before hand! This way you can just high-tail it down the beach and dive into the 60 degree water!


I dove in and YIKES, I knew how cold it was because I was already in there. I need to practice diving in and NOT messing with my goggles. Of course they fogged up on me, I tried to deal but I took a second to rinse them again. Then the most freaky thing to me was the breath. My friends have all told me about how the cold water takes away your breath, I didn't believe them! It was like I had 1/4 the lung capacity. For the first several strokes (1/2 way to the first bouy) I took a breath EVERY STROKE! jeeze.


The rest of the swim was ok, my arms weren't too numb - feet were just fine. I tend to stay back and to the right so most of the pack was in front of me. I prefer to not get kicked so I'm ok with this location. That second buoy seemed SOOO far away though! The third buoy came quicker, I guess I found my stroke by then. Next thing you know I'm on the beach again, and there's another 50 yard run UP THE BEACH.. and I mean UP! YEA!

I walked, Alexis passed me on the run up and was like "why are you walking?" LOL!!

Transition was fine, mediocre T-time, but I learned to not put my socks on for the bike. I just dont need them. This also means they're DRY for the run! The bike was beautiful but it seemed like it was 40 miles long! I kept looking at my HRM and it said "4 miles" I'm like "WHAT??"


The whole town comes out in some fashon, so there's lots of people sitting out, cheering you on! The entire bike all I heard was "ON YOUR LEFT" "ON YOUR LEFT" "ON YOUR LEFT" (for those of you that don't race, that's what you're SUPPOSED" to yell when you pass someone on the bike). -- I decided that was the motto of this SEASON for me! "ON YOUR LEFT!"

Given my Murphy's law history, I round this corner and see a sign "Warning, Golf Course"- watch out.. I'm thinking to myself "today IS the day I"m going to get hit with a golf ball!...

It was just a short twist through there, but I was totally convinced I was going to get clobbered by a golf ball! Luckily, I survived.

I finally came to the dismount on the bike! I thought "what, now I gotta run?" it was getting hot and I was just not having fun today. I am so not a quitter so on went the socks and shoes and off I went. I jogged/walked. Then I met my new friend Veronica. We walked a good portion of it together (nope it's not cheating). I crossed the finish line and still didn't feel quite right, so I sat in the shade and drank some coconut water and some Owater (that stuff is pretty good). Eventually I felt better!

BUT, I kept thinking to myself "HOW THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO AN IROMAN IF I CAN'T RUN 3 MILES!!!"

Ugh.. guess I need to step it up a "little."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Lots of Races

I apologize again for not writing in a while. I was consumed with the Adventures of Flat Stanley! That's not to say that I didn't' have lots to write about with my Tri-world, I just need an additional day or two in the week.

Since I last wrote, I've been seeing a physical therapist weekly for IT band syndrome and hip bursitis. That's just lovely, right? They ask you "what's your level of pain?" The hip is typically a 2-3 for me on a 1-10 scale, but I'm comparing that to a 9 migraine! I really have no idea how severe it would be for others! They just look at me like I'm crazy for being there for a "2."

I've also had a crazy unforgiving piriformis muscle. I joked to the PT that I've had "more people touching my butt this week than I have--EVER." He totally didn't find it amusing at all! The PT, the Chiropractor, the Massage Therapist and the Pilates instructor all have had their pain sessions with me and that muscle!


I've been working with Alexis with a Triathlon group, sharing my experiences, helping with swimming, hopefully providing comic relief, and most importantly letting people know its OK to be a TRI-TURTLE! Finish what you start, that's the key!

I've had two races since I last wrote. I actually placed in "The Y-Tri" - the hilarity of this statement still kills me! This was a TINY race, there were only 2 people in my category. YEA ME, right? HAHA!! The Turtle takes the race!

This was probably my last race in a pool, I really don't like the pool starts, I feel like I'm racing alone. I really need people around me to keep me going. This past weekend I rode the Webster course with Alexis and John's friend Jay. There happened to be a triathlon going on at the same time! We started out on the bikes just before the elite men exited the water. The confusion on their faces when they saw a GIRL up in front of them was priceless! I'll take this as another "win" - I was in the front of the pack for the race - HAHA!!


The second race was the King Pine Triathlon in Madison, NH. BEAUTIFUL.. but.. if you're going to do a race in the MOUNTAINS, and the transition area is in a SKI RESORT parking lot, EXPECT IT TO BE HILLY! - No idea why I thought it would be anything different than that! The swim was good, I expected it to be cold but it was a balmy 68! Bike was a nice hilly, you could really crank it on the downhills, but the run was pretty challenging for me. It was also quite hilly, and it was mostly trail. I really need to work on the run! Nice little benefit was the cute twenty-something massage therapist dude after the race :).


My Sunday ride is getting to be pretty cool. There are a variety of riders, and enough of us to push each other, but also enough that we don't have to feel guilty if we can't make it. I like organizing the Sun ride, because it makes me get off the couch early in the day.

I won't be doing it this week though, because I have the Cohasset Tri with Alexis & Anne. "Not last" could be a problem at this one, it's a regional qualifying race! Lets hope I dont get run over.

Next scheduled race is the SheRox on July 25th that'll be #6 of the season!

-Tri-Turtle-
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