Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Life right now.....

kids &
little bit-o-fun mixed in too

I'll get a real blog post in here Soon!!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

You wanna Ride Bikes?

That's what we used to say.
"Wanna ride bikes?"

I lived in a neighborhood with a bunch of kids. There were 4 roads that weaved into a dead end. It was perfect. All summer long we'd 'ride bikes.' I actually remember learning to ride on two wheels. I remember Scott watching me as he sat on the split rail fence. He and the other big kids clapped when I 'got it' and then we just rode off. We zipped up and down the roads, over lawns, into ditches, through the woods to the store for penny candy, and eventually up and down the street with newspapers propped on my handle bars so I could deliver them right to each door.
I rode my bike all the time.
When I was 12 or maybe 13, I saved my paper route money and bougth my first Ten Speed! It was a blue Schwinn. I loved it! I think it cost me $186. That sticks in my head but I could be way off. Soon, I rode that bike to and from the Strawberry fields on the other side of town where I picked and picked as fast as I could to earn $.25/ quart. I'd ride home over the Spurwink Hills with my free quart of berries propped on the bars. No helmet.
We never had helmet. Not until tragedy struck our small town and a young boy, buddies of my brother, was hit by a truck and killed while riding with his Dad and Sister.
After that we all wore helmets.
In college, I rode my white mountain bike everyyyywhere. It's how we trekked around the UVM campus all four years. We all had bikes. That trusty bike is still in my garage.

Now, I still ride bikes.
But it's different. It's all business. I have more gear than I know what to do with.
When I was small, I also ran. I ran and ran and ran around the neighborhood. I ran XC meets here and there as a pre-teen. And eventually, I ran on track teams and XC teams. I think that early running helped me to be the runner I am now. Yes, there are days that I feel like a runner.

I wish I could say the same about biking. I don't think all my years of 'riding bikes' has made me a stronger cyclist. I'm not a cyclist actually. I'm a Triathlete. I ride my bike. I am a swimmer. I am a runner. But I don't think I'm a cyclist. Why not?
I do not know.
I think it's because I continue to struggle to find control. I don't feel like I have total control when I am on my bike.
When I swim, I am in charge. I go where I want to go. I move how I want to move. My effort dictates my speed. If I push hard and am smart with my stroke, I will go faster. When I run, I feel the same. My body and my head are in charge. I have control over the road. My legs move where they are supposed to.

I rode 90 miles last Tuesday and nearly got thrown into a ditch. The winds were nearly record setting for a random day in May. I was tossed across the lanes and had the sensation that my back wheel was angled at 45degrees and ready to toss me to the ground. I faced headwinds that resulted in speeds of 11 mph instead of 24 on the sight downhill I rode.
I had no control. A few days earlier, on Mother's Day, I forced myself outside for my workout. Seven miles in, I had a flat tire. Wasn't it Mother's day?? That tiny rock didn't care. It wedged itself into my wheel and burst tube. I pinched the next one and then got to stand on the side of the road waiting for my rescuer for 40 min. Lame. No control. The machine was in charge. And the machine was not my body.
I have been riding day after day this month, and last, in the rain. It's been foggy, and misty, or pouring and windy and as a result, cars aren't seeing me. They don't expect to see bikers out there on the steep winding hills of Western Maine. The giant log trucks fly by me going >50 mph and they're just a few small feet from my little self. Talk about vulnerable. Not a lot that helmet would do for me.

I have bursts of the athlete in me piercing through all that. My mind can take over and talk my way through the wind. I am slowly but surely learning how to deal with that, mentally. I can't move that much faster when it's alive forces push me backwards. But I am crumbling just a bit less inside. I have segments of road that are free from giant trucks and careless cars when I can put my head down and ride hard. I feel my legs and heart working and focusing on the sport. That is why I am out there. I love this sport. This sport of Triathlon. And biking is part of it. So I will keep trying. Keep trying to become part cyclist too.

Two out of three 'ain't' bad.

Monday, May 9, 2011

PolarBear Sprint Race Report

This race is so fast and furious, I don't even remember very much about it.

I arrived nice and early with a well thought out plan. I would leave my bike in the car, get checked in, drop off the bag to claim my bike spot, then go back to the car for a quick bike warm up. Except I walked all the way to T1 and forgot to get body marked. Then, I walked all the way back to the car, but had forgotten my bike shoes. Finally, I was ready to ride but the bike mechanic needed to adjust some cable. Next thing I knew, I still had to run a bit, and then swim, but there was only 20 min left with the pool open! Uh... was this my First race? You might have thought that if you'd watched mess around that morning.

Oh well. I got it all done. I laughed at myself. I contained my pre-race nerves to a very moderate level I must say. I am honestly not sure why people (ahem, my Friends! ) give me such crap about my pre-race 'state.' I don't think I act any different than anyone else. Ok, I might move around a lot. I might get a little chatty. I check and recheck things I had ready two weeks earlier. Isn't that normal? Well, as my buddy Bob pointed out, it works for me.

My family had arrived (husband and 3 sons, Mom and Dad, and my Sister in-law with her 3 kids) so I was ready to go.

Time to hit the deck and wait for wave 3.

The swim was sort of comical at the start. If you ask me. Here's the thing. We're in Brunswick, Maine people. Not Southern California, or Kona, or Florida or Costa Rica. We've barely seen upper 60s here this year. Barely. It's chilly. It's muddy. It's buggy. We're pale. And, we're Triathletes!!!
I am going to go off on a rant and tangent here. I'll be brief.
There's a 20-something woman who swims in this each year. There are actually a bunch of college women & men who are excellent swimmers and just do that leg of the race.
But this one lady, bear with me men, is a little too excited to show us how Incredible her body is. Yes, I admit it. She looks amazing. All other women undoubtedly envy her. She is tall, tan, and has a strong athletic swimmer's body. Ok! I admit it. She is gorgeous. I have to back up here and admit that I haven't seen much of her face. I've only seen her in a cap & goggles and a VERY SMALL Portion of a bathing suit. THIS year, her suit of choice was a bikini that would fit my BFF's 9 year old.
Get OVER yourself honey! Seriously. Teeny tiny triangle top biking with a bottom that didn't even cover her a--. No joke. She stands on deck and struts herself around for all of us to watch and admire. It's silly. Honestly, she is LUCKY because, she is good. She can at least sort of hold her own in the water. Yeah, she outswam every.single.one.of.us. Even my brother Jeff. Even the woman that I have been trying trying trying to keep up with for years. So ok, she's fast. But she Does look Foolish at a Maine race, in May, in a pool, in a bikini. The men all smirk and say, "I don't think it's that
bad. Ha. Of course not.
Back to my race. I shared a lane with a 12 year old girl. We enter our 'times' for a 500 to 'qualify' for certain waves in this race. So I knew she'd be fast. I felt like her Mom. It was her first Tri. I gave her some tips and we decided on a time to break together. Thankfully, I did beat her. Phew...


I told you the race was so short that I didn't remember anything about it. It's all before and after!


the whistle blew and We were OFF!

I couldn't see the main person I was racing. I knew I had to maintain focus, keep count and push hard to keep the pace strong and steady for the whole 525. After about 250 I realized I could see the clock! I saw 2:51 as I hit the 250 and got confused. Is this possible? Maybe I miscounted. But there was no way I was doing 2:51 for a 200. It was right! Cool. I was moving along well.
400 was 4:53 Not bad. Considering 5:10s or so are my practice 400s.
500 6:07 and that was it. I cruised down the last time, pulled myself out and tore out of the building. I heard Mark scream my name from the bleachers above. I scanned the transition area to see where I stood. Where was she?
ah ha...there. just leaving.
Jeff 's leaving too. I ran out just behind him.
T1 :28 seconds.
On the bike and around the two quick corners and off on the first long stretch. The road is a slight slight hill and that day, we had winds hitting us. My Glutes were just screaming. My HR felt fairly well controlled but I was working to get my legs in the game. There is NO time for error. NO time to rest or take a short minute to get one's breath. It's just GO GO GO GO!!! I passed Jeff and exchanged some sort of noise, smile, grunt. Not sure, but we did acknowledge each other!

I was essentially alone on the roads. Well, Jeff was behind me for a while he said but I couldn't see him. I couldn't see ANYONE and that was irritating me. There are a lot of turns on this course so you don't often have a nice view of folks ahead. I just raced. There were some hills although not too bad, some wind, and a rough area that shook me around a bit. (maybe that's why my helmet was crooked?? :o)
Mile 9 or so, my coach crept up beside me. He got next to me, looked at me and quietly said, "Come on.. " As if, "stay with me. let's go."
Oh and I tried! But Kurt is basically like a flash on his bike. He's there, and then he's gone. I saw him for a while and then, he was gone.

And that was that! 11 miles give or take and I was back at Bowdoin. 30:36 for the ride. I made it through T2 without wiping out or running into anyone else. Improvements!
I grabbed my race belt, shoes..that's it! :35 sec. I was off. And...so was Bob. My friend Bob snuck in and out of T2 juuuuuust ahead of me. Just like last year. However, Bob stayed a bit ahead of me this year on the run. (not much though Bob!! watch out mista! ) We ran along the roads for mile 1 and then into the woods. Through the trails and then out to the field. My gang was right there giving me high 5s and smiles. Little Nick had stashed a cow bell won at a previous race and shook that thing so proudly for me to hear all day. Love it. Mark was proudly taking those pictures. You know those shots you wish would go away. The ones where your face is unrecognizable because you've been gasping for air for the last 49 minutes and still have 1.5 miles to go. Oh I love those shots.
We ran around the grassy soccer field and back into the woods. I was still chasing Bob's blue shorts. I couldn't find the black ones I was really trying to catch.

And then, that was it! The finish! My boys were in the field and I yelled, "Run in with me!" Tommy was the closest and ran fast fast fast! He kept right up. It was very cool and I had visions of our future. (Later, Nick said, " I was a little behind. I didn't know you were going to run so fast at the end of such a long race Mommy." Gotta love that...)
So, I ran in hard. I felt good. 20:42 on the run for 5K. I knew I wasn't winning at that point so my next goal was to break the 1 hour mark.
You know what?
2nd woman to break an hour at Polarbear. I'll take it.

It was a great day. I felt pretty strong. It's fun to bust out the race gear and let it all out for an hour. It's even better to reconnect with the Maine Tri community after being cooped up all winter. There's a great group of people around here and I'm so excited to be part of it.

And if I can end up feeling the type of honest pure joy that my little guy appears to be feeling in the photo above, then I've won no matter who finishes ahead of me. That is my new goal.

(dont' get me wrong, I still want to win. )

In the end, I was 2nd woman overall / 154 and 10th finisher overall/284 triathletes.
I'm also proud to say that Jeff and I took top brother-sister team with both of us in the top 18. :)
And! I was happy for my family to point out on Mother's day, that I was the Overall Winner for Moms. No other Mom beat me. So, I sort of won. :) heeheee....

Friday, May 6, 2011

First race of the year.......

I guess that's not entirely true. I raced a marathon on January 15th. But that's not the same.

We're talkin' Tri Season and suddenly, it's here. Mother nature doesn't seem to know we're ready to jump in the lakes and spend 5 hours on the roads, but we'll do it anyway.

I have 45 min left before my little ones come home from school. My goal for the day was to 1) get ready this morning 2)complete the short pre-race workout and 3) chill---- put my feet up, nap? , just breaaaathhhhe.

Somehow, steps 1 & 2 took until 1:30!!! I had to clean my chain, take off the big heavy bottle cages, and on and on. It took me all morning to get to this stage. Now, I'm out of time. The nap ain't happenin'... what else is new.

Polarbear is here. It's a short race at Bowdoin College in nearby Brunswick, Maine. I have a love/hate relationship with this race. I love the pool swim. I love to see everyone. Nearly all Maine Triathletes show up for this show-down. I also hate the pool swim. I hate racing in a pool by pushing off the wall. It's not how I start a swim race and it throws me off. I hate that I can't seem to breath until mile 5 of the bike because I've gone 110% on the swim. I also have a nice record of mishaps on the bike. Let's see---there was the wipe out coming into T2 or the slow leak in my tire last year that left me feeling like I was pedaling through mud and analyzing my workouts with my coach after. I love the run through the woods and yet, there's never Quite enough time to 'catch' that speeeeeeddy girl just ahead of me.

Maybe this is the year.

But what I DO love about this race and what keeps me coming back is the way it shakes us all up. It gets us out of our day to day to day training routine and lets us pour all our hearts into the day. It's a fast and furious test of will. You must not miss a step. There is no room for error. No time to stop and think about what's next. You just GO GO GO GO and think about it after. It's the best way to dust off the cobwebs and see what your body is ready to do after loads of hard work all winter.

I can't wait.

I'm going to wake up early, go through my morning of race rituals and leave nothing out on that course. Let's see if I can put it all together this time.

35 min left. Long enough for a nap?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Swim time!

Yesterday I met my coach at the pool for some swim stroke video & analysis and some FUN body fat testing!!! I think everyone should start their Monday with a little caliper fun. Don't you? Haha...seriously though. It ws all welcome. Per my last post, you know I've been working hard at the weight loss thing and I was curious to see how it's translating into body fat %. I'm doing just fine... a bit more to go but I'm pleased with the results so far.

On to the swimming!! I haven't been taped or watched in the water since I was 15 or 16 at Mercersburg Swim Camp in Pennsylvania. Back then, I was scrutinized with a fine tooth comb. Pool swimming requires a lot of presicion for one to improve and be as fast as they can at fairly short distances. However, that was ahem, 25-26 years ago!! Wow. It kind of hurts to write that number. I remember my Dad used to say, "You know, I FEEL the same as I did when I was 20!" I used to think he was crazy. Now I get it. I think I might possibly feel Better than when I was in my early 20s.
moving on...
See what you think:

My Freestyle


another view

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Days of Discipline, Moments of Reward

The sun came out in Maine this week. I think I grew two inches like the Daffodils in my yard and I'm proud to say I'm now sporting a slight tan line where my garmin and sports watch set up camp on my wrist.

I've enjoyed a few long rides in warm air and sun. One day, I stripped down to a single short sleeve shirt On the Bike! It's a spring miracle. I've been waiting since September for that feeling again. It's amazing how much more pleasure I get from riding when I'm not hidden under 4 layers of warm gear.
I've been able to run in humidity that left me gasping for water. It's been a long time since I've finished a run hallucinating for sprinklers and hoses that quench my desperate thirst.

But that's not the best part.
The best part for me has been something that's coming along slowwwwly but surely. It's requiring disciple, patience and lots of mumbling to oneself.
I'm losing weight.

I think the count is 7-8lbs total. I don't weigh myself too often. I am keenly aware of my own personal fluctuations that most women deal with. With that in mind, I refuse to become obsessed and possibly depressed with the small glimmers of success that is characteristic of losing weight the healthy way.

It's not easy. I eat healthy foods and have for a long time. My issue is portion control. And, learning to only eat when I am hungry. I eat out of habit and appeal. If I crave an apple with almond butter, I used to just make one. Because hey, after all, that's Healthy right? Right. But not if I don't need the calories.

So that's about it. That and a whole lot more. I'll spare you the details because that's boring after all.

I am noticing nice changes in how my clothes fit. I am a bit more at peace with the view of myself in my speedo as I walk into the pool on those early mornings I'm still too sleepy to see anything else. I no longer feel like my stomach is puffing out where it shouldn't. That's all good.

But it's not the best. The best for me only happens for a few minutes each day or over a few hours of the week.

Today, I was running. It was a run that took me up and over the lovely yet dchallenging hills in my neighborhood in Western Maine. I run these hills all-the-time. They are not easy and to see my pace drop 3-4min per mile on the ascents is Normal. And, it hurts! It's hard to get up those giant climbs no matter who you are. I do them over and over reassuring myself that I am only gaining strength and toughness by cresting them several times/ week.

Back to today. My run called for a gradual descend in pace. The goals were reasonable. Except for the fact that I felt SO GOOD!! My body was lighter. Fresher. Faster.
I noticed it yesterday too. I felt controlled and strong for all of today's run but there was this One hill. There was one hill in particular tthat struck me today. You see, I just ran up it. My pace hardly faltered. My HR didn't top out on zone 5. I just ran up the hill.


My fitness is growing, my form is improving and.... I'm lighter.

All those days of discipline pay off in small moments like that but it IS so worth it!!!