Monday, September 15, 2014

Nation's Tri Race Report: Race Day

Race Day did not dawn at all, for we were up at 4AM.  I told my family I wanted to be out the door by 4:30.  I am frequently the first person at races.  What can I say?  I'm a nervous racer and I like my extra time to lay things out.  

We had both spent time the night before packing bags and choosing gear.  Despite M's teasing and threats, he had already picked out all his food, so we were not going to be in for a repeat of the Half-Marathon Madness.  

I even had a food plan.  I knew what I was going to eat and when.  We found an easy parking spot in a location I will never share so that no one else can park where we parked.  (Hey, we were going to get blocked in by the road closures, anyway).  The plan was to send our gear bags back to the house with my parents after the race, and M and I would walk/ride to the Metros and metro home with the bikes.  


The first snafu happened as we were heading towards the race.  My mother, who was my special needs person in charge of handling my cochlear processor, caught a snippet of the verbal announcement and said, "They just said you can't wear your bike cleats."  That obviously made no sense so I immediately decided my mother was just insane in the pre-dawn periods, and ignored all the rest.  Hey, we make dumb decisions at 5AM, OK?  

As we got closer, we could hear the full announcement.  The swim was canceled, and we would all start with the bike.  (That was the "no bike cleats".  You had to run into the bike zone as if you had just done the swim:  no bike gear at all.  The only difference is you'd be dry, not wet.)  It turned out that the hard rain had caused a sewage overflow, and the Potomac was filled with raw sewage.  A few kayakers who later posted to Facebook shared that the water was beyond nasty.  

Having just spent the last year getting over e.Coli, I was very disappointed to not get to swim, but OK with it in the end.  I really do think the Nation's organizers make the right decision.  Considering all the novices at this race, you have to err on the super safe side.  And the not-gross side.  


Well, we all know how happy I am on the bike.  There was one spot early on in the bike loop where I hit that magical spot of speed and perfect gearing where the bike just feels it is humming underneath you.  It's been a long time since I was strong enough to hit that spot, and I thought, "Oh, hello, happy place. There you are!"  

The olympic was a very well marked double loop with an out-and-back section.  I was worried because I hadn't had time to go to a course briefing, but I needn't have worried.  It was SO CLEAR in the markings.  

I actually forgot my bike computer!  So I had no idea how fast I was going at any point.  I knew I'd have to ride by feel.  I went out pretty hard, and stayed in beast mode all through that ride.  I still notice just how slow I am on hills (where did my strong hills legs go?!), so I have an area to work on for next year.  Arlington hills, you are mine.  But on a flat, I'm pretty strong.  And in the head wind, I just hunch into my drops and settle in to suffer for a bit.  Head winds I can handle.  

I spent a fair amount of time passing, and a fair amount battling for space.  The one drawback was a few passes in the no-passing zone, and a few passes on my right.  There's rules for a reason, and if you were in a bind, and HAVE to pass on the right (I had to a few times, when there was a slow person hanging out in the left lane), but I hate being passed on the right when there's space on the left.  In particular was this one Rev3 girl on a tri bike who was NOT happy that I was passing her, and didn't want to give up the spot.  So she'd battle back and come up on my right.  Really, chickie.  You're on a tri bike.  I'm on a roadie.  I've passed you.  So drop back, regain some energy, and come back and pass me on the left like a good girl.  Give yourself a few minutes to recoup and you'll put time on me, but just this constant battling is sapping your energy- especially when I'm still in my saddle and you are standing.  I finally dropped her on the out and back because I was just a stronger rider.  But she came and caught me on the run.  Because that's just how it works. 

Over all: I had a 1: 21 on the bike (about 18 mph).  Not my fastest (which was 20mph on the same course 2 years ago), but not my slowest.  I did my best on that bike course though, and at least I didn't slack off for a minute.  


I had decided I would go all out on the course, just to see what I could do.  That being said, my run legs take forever to come in.  And after really going all out on the bike course, my legs were quite whiny.  But I battled through the initial pain and (yes), laziness.  I decided to cover up my watch and run by feel.  I'm debating if that was a good idea or not, because the mile markers were so clear, and I wonder if I had run by the watch, would I have felt that I could pep myself up any more?  

My run legs had settled by mile 2 and I settled into what felt like a hard pace.  Not as hard as I ran, say, Rolf Prima (on dirt) but harder than I ran this course a few years ago.  I was fretting about my shoes a bit.  I'd been lacing my ONs all summer, and switched to the speed laces the night before the race.  Yes, yes, yes, don't change things right before a race.  I know, I know.  I did it.  And I suffered for it.  The ON speed laces just don't give me the support I've come to expect from those shoes.  So I'll need to try different speed laces next time.  


I finished in 2:30:54.  Far from my fastest time (a 2:14 something a few years ago), it was also not my slowest times for those two events.  So I'm OK with it.  Considering how sick I was with e.Coli and how awful the nutritionist was and what a big set back the beginning of the summer was, I'm content with not-the-greatest, not-the-worst.  

My goal for next year: stay healthy, get stronger, and demolish this time for a PR.  

Races I'm considering:  we both want to do Eagleman (a half Iron) in Maryland, and I am interested in the Quassy Rev3 (why not a CT race where family can watch?), and M wants to do another couple obstacle course runs, which could be fabulous since I could have a goal to work on upper body strength for!  I was chatting with his best friend about wrist pain and pushups, so I think I have some ideas and it's high time I stop whining about upper body strength and regain some power.  

Nation's Tri Race Report: RACKING DAY

At last!  Yes, this report is a week overdue.  We had a bit of a situation here with a very sick kitty who finally ended up in the hospital, so I was spending my extra time researching "UTIs and cats" and getting a major little project done at work. 

ANYWAY, here is the race report! 

Nation's requires you to rack a day ahead of time.  This seems to be unusual for an Olympic distance Tri, but if you think about the logistics of coordinating over 5,000 bikes and body markings, it makes perfect sense.  Overall, this was perhaps the most stressful racking we have ever done!  (No fault of the race).  

We live a good hike from the main city- still technically on metro, but far enough out that we can't head in and go home and return in one day.  Once we go in, we are in until we go home.  That explains why we headed to brunch with my parents smushed into a Beetle, with two bikes on the roof.  Yes, my parents have a nice roomy Prius, but they lack a bike rack.  Seriously, after this weekend, I am considering buying a bike rack for guests.  Actually, I'm considering buying a rear-mount bike rack and installing a hitch on the Beetle, because the roof rack system has been seriously stressing me out in this land of parking garages.  

Brunch was at The Diner, a new discovery for me.  It has really creative options, a decent vegan menu, and is great about dairy allergies.  In fact, I plan to write to them to beg... BEG... them to create vegan biscuits and gravy.  I'm desperate for my favorite Eugene dish!  

Packet pickup and racking was much more traumatic.  What with one thing and another, we had a nice time at the expo, we bought The Stick for rolling out muscles (and it is working miracles on my tight back and hamstrings!), and we discovered a broken piece on M's bike that needed fixing.  

WHAT?  BROKEN?  NEEDS FIXING?  WATER BOTTLE CAGE?  WAUUUUGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!  The braze that holds the bolt that holds the screw that holds the water bottle cage on M's bike was stripped, and needed to come off.  M, about to do a 25 mile ride at speed, needed that bottle cage.  That explains our cross-town jaunt to our favorite bike shop for a quickie repair.  

After the repair, we scuttled back to the hotel to get on the bus for me to go to Capitol for my special prize... except M couldn't find parking!  He circled for over half an hour, and there were many phone calls.  You know M and I are very supportive of each other. which explains why those conversations, during which I was inside waiting for the bus and he was outside circling, went like this... "I CAN'T FIND PARKING!" "I CAN'T HELP YOU! JUST PARK!  PARK ANYWHERE!"  "I CAN'T! THE METER MAIDS ARE CIRCLING!"  "JUST PARK!  VALET IT!! PARK RIGHT NOW!! WE ARE GOING TO MISS THE GODDAMN BUS!"  "I CAN"T VALET! WE HAVE THE BIKES ON THE ROOF!"  "PUT THEM IN THE REAR!"  

The important take away message is that you CAN fit two full size bikes into the rear of a Beetle, and if your wife calls Uber while you deal with the valet, you will end up dropped off two blocks away from where the bus dropped off the rest of the prize-winners. 

All you will have to do is to sprint those extra blocks, in jeans, on a day when it's 102 and the humidity is about 1,000%, in under three minutes to JUST MAKE it to your tour in time to see the special tour of the Capitol. 

So worth it.  

After our Capitol tour, we got the car out of Valet, went over to the Mall, racked the bikes, and observed the beginnings of tiny little raindrops as we headed back towards the car. 

"I kinda feel like I should have put the trash bag over my bike after all..." I said to M, frustrated because I had left my trash bags in my car, after bringing them special so I could cover my precious, precious BMC.  

"Just forget it.  You're hungry. You need to eat, NOW!"  he snapped back.  Because, of course, after a frantic day of bike repairs, last-minute sprints, and valets, he was a shining ray of sunshine himself.  Plus, he had gotten to eat a Picky Bar, the Picky Bar I keep in MY purse at all times.  So he'd actually eaten.  

We were racked and ready for race day.  At least that was accomplished.  

By the time we got to Tysons Mall where we were picking up my parents, it was as if a black firehose from the heavens were pouring down upon us.  M dropped us off at the restuarant door, and we were still soaked by the time we got inside.  

"I sure hope they don't cancel the swim tomorrow", said I, "for I do so want to use my wetsuit that I rented to try this different style."  


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Race Day Nerves

So the race is about 72 hours away.  I'm guessing I'll be in the water by now on Sunday.

I'm having MAJOR race nerves.  First off, I have learned I've gone up a wave.  I was mentally prepared to be 30-34... but now I'm 35-39!  It's a different start!  A different cap color!  A different corral!

Lots of people assume this is about getting older.  It's really not.  I have a scary age at which I plan to start lying about my age, but so far, I'm aging fantastically well.  Just a few silver strands, and I'm waiting to see what they do before I do anything about them, and they are hard to see.  No major wrinkles, and all the lasting scars and injuries were honestly gained.  (You've heard my bike crash story, right?)  So it's really NOT about age.

It's about not being mentally prepared.

And I'm nervous.  Not about the race or completion- but about being slow.  I so wanted to get BETTER this season, and I'm afraid I'm holding at the same speed I raced at in year's past.

Swimming is a tough one.  I've gone from a high of 2:47/100 meters to a low of 1:57/100 meters, and I honestly don't know what I'm swimming at right now.  I think it's about 2:00/100 meters, but it's so hard to tell given that I didn't always get the best view of the timing clock.  I know that if I work hard, I've been able to catch M's feet, and I've been able to pass a few people in the slow lane.  But that's about the extent of my swim sense this year.  I do feel like a lot of things have come together, but I haven't RACED in a while.  Plus, I'm nervous about the 8-in time trial start.

Bike- well, you know I love my bike.  I know that I can finish this course in under 1:30, and usually closer to 1:15-1:20,  and I know that an Olympic distance course will take me about 1:30 if it's super hilly.  But my group bike rides were so HORRIBLE this summer.

Run- I'm scared that the run is the part I feel most confident with this year.  I'm loving my On shoes.  They are really comfy.  So I don't expect any pain.

Mostly, I'm worried that I'm going to let my nerves and mental preparation get the best of me, and that I'll blow up right when I need to deliver.

I have to let go of my hopes for a good finishing time, and focus on just finishing.  I have to let go of the anger and frustration at all the people who will pass me, because I have to do what I can do this year.

I really need to work to remember: those people who are passing me and finishing fast... they probably didn't have e.Coli last year, and they didn't have their internal organs poisoned by bacteria, and they didn't spend months on antibiotics, and they haven't spent the last six months slowly rebuilding their immune system and strength.

I also need to remember that the Idiot Nutritionist really put me into a bad situation.  I fired her about a month ago and started with a new coach.  With my current nutrition coach who I heart forever, I have actually dropped a few pounds, even without tracking obsessively, but I'm feeling strong and going much faster.  Carbs, my love, my carbs. She even gave me a great salad "recipe" that I can put together at a Whole Foods, so I am learning how to put together the right combo of food even on the go.  She's given me great, useful recipes, and I have an actual race day nutrition plan, so I don't need to worry about a blow-up bonk.  She's focused on whole foods, but she also has tons of experience with people with disordered eating.  So she's been helping me deactivate some of the triggers that Idiot Nutritionist reactivated.

Whew.  Time to go develop some positive mantras.  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Taper Eating Problems

So I have hit the problem I usually hit in taper: knowing I still need to eat, but being suddenly un-hungry.  Today, it was 10:30 before I ate anything, and I had to force myself.  It's because of the huge increase in rest and decrease in workouts, but still.  I have only a week before race day and I want this year to be RIGHT!

I've been working with a nutrition coach who *gets it* when it comes to nutrition, especially of triathletes.  Her advice has been for relatively bland, easy food this week.  So I've been thinking of simple veggies, simple proteins.  I'm thinking maybe we should just eat veggies and grill fish all week?  :-)

My parents arrive late Friday night and plan to play all day Saturday (when M and I have to go rack our bikes).

This is the week I get to have some fun!  As the Oregon state rep, I am waiting for my Oregon jersey to arrive in the mail.  (Scudopro promises me I'll have it!)  I get to take a special tour of the Capitol building with the other state reps, and M of course is my special guest!  So I'm excited for that.  I also have an entire sheet of Oregon stickers, Duck colors Poms, Duck Lips, and other wonderful Oregon stuff- like Picky Bar stickers!- to share.

I plan to continue to force myself to eat the minimum, and to stretch and stretch and stretch.

Erin Condren Planner order, ModCloth bag

So, you can probably tell that I'm in taper, since with all the extra rest, I have to CHANNEL THE ENERGY SOMEWHERE!  And so I'm taking parts of my vacation to catch up on household stuff and organize the daylights out of things.

And iron my linens.  Although I'm beginning to think about adding some fabric onto the sides and tops of the linen sheets that I use as cat bedspreads to make them look a little more finished.  I'm sort of on a spruce-up-the-household kick...

Disclaimer: I have not gone batshit insane or overboard.  I do put M's things away in his areas, but I don't force the man to color code his closet or anything.  

I recently officiated at a wedding, and with the honorarium I received, I decided I would bump a few things off my Wish List.  So I decided I would buy one of those jersey clergy shirts, replace my planner for sure this time since my planner is literally fraying to pieces, get a decent meeting-appropriate work bag, and look into blazers.

I have now ordered a shirt, ordered a planner, received my new work bag, and am waiting for the sale on the blazers in question.

Anyway,  my colleague group (over 1,000 awesome young clergywomen in The Young Clergywomen Project) recently shared about their favorite planners, the Erin Condren ones. I had never heard of these before but people were so passionate about them that I had to try them out!

I've been through many planners, including every iteration of electronic ones.  While each Monday I correlate my written calendar with my Google calendar, I just find the paper planner scratches a deep itch for my working style.  (Not to mention that I hate, hate, hate, loathe, loathe, blech the "flat" iOS.)

Knowing that I needed a new planner and being utterly unable (even with Amazon out there!) to find exactly what I wanted in a binder, I had resolved to try a coil or a disc bound system.  I just didn't want to pay for the paper punch in the disc system just yet!  And as I have realized, I've spent the last 10 years building up a conservative, sensible wardrobe without much cute in it!  So I am taking a fashion risk with a very colorful Erin Condren planner!

You wanna try the Erin Condren, too?  Here's my referral link.  (I believe I get $10 if you order one.  My colleague group shared all our codes to pay it forward to each other.  So if you use my code, you'll get your own to share with someone else!)

Also in the fashion risk category:

I don't have a TON of high-powered meetings, and my main workbag is a fabulous Rickshaw Zero Messenger (in grey, with turquoise lining and purple trim).  I can bike with that bag.  But sometimes, I need something more structured.  (Like for meetings, especially with Bishops or powerful people, or if I go to the city and know I want to meet someone for dinner later.  It looks sloppy to schlep a slouchy messenger to dinner!)

It had to fit an iPad, a slim planner, my "purse stuff" (wallet, sunglasses, that sort of thing), a few pens, a phone...  I really wanted something big enough to carry work in so I could work in a coffee shop like I do, but small enough that I could head to dinner without looking like I was carrying luggage.  Check out women's work bags in Staples sometimes.  See how huge most of them are?  Yeah, no.

I was tipped off to ModCloth, and put about 12 possibilities on my WishList.  Then I discovered a really cool ModCloth feature- the Stylist!  I was able- in live time!- to discuss color choices, size, and material with a real person.  I opted for the Full Course Load in teal.  It arrived this morning!

It is just the right size, and nicely structured with little feet on the bottom (ideal for coffee shops!). It is also a much darker teal than on the website- that looks a little grandmotherly teal, but the actual bag is a dark teal.  It'll be nicely flexible!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


It started off pretty funny.  M was getting ready to head into the district to do some work on the Mall, and he wanted to take his bike.  (Sometimes he gets posted with a Ranger and they've said if he has a bike he can do bike posts!). He was planning to metro in, because we live soooooo farrrrrrr awaaayaayyyyy in Tysons.  But he missed the time cut off, and you can't bring your bike on the metro during rush hour. (LAME!) 

I suggested he ride all the way in.  He replied, "but I don't want to pay the full rush hour fare!"  I replied, "so just RIDE IN!"  He said, "I don't want to pay the money!"  We went back and forth about five times before we realized we were talking about different rides!  

Coffee was made.  

Then I offered to ride in with him.  We ended having a lovely ride down the W&OD and Custis trails into DC.  It's actually super easy to get dumped off in the mall... It's just a long ride.  (Over an hour!) the ride was fast and easy.  I used a few tricks I picked up reading the Fat Cyclist's latest series (his awesome wife, The Hammer, is getting coached through Leadville by ReBecca Rusch and we get to learn stuff! and really put down some super easy speed.  

It also helps that I'm getting way more carbs. In fact, for breakfast, I had spaghetti and sauce!  I love dinner for breakfast. 

So I dropped M off, and by then the day was heating up.  I debated metro ing from the start, but I decided to ride as long as I was in the shade and catch the Metro in Arlington.  So I was riding away, when I happened upon another rider who turned out to be pacing me. We both paused at the top of a little climb and said hello, and it turned out we were both headed in the same direction... Except he didn't know how to get there!  So I decided to ride him to his street crossing.  We rode and chatted, and by the time I dropped him off, I was almost at Gallows!  

I did stop by work (on vacation!) to refill my bottles. I was totally empty! And getting really hot and thirsty and beginning to doubt humanity. Two bottles of ice water restored my confidence in the goodness of creation.  Gotta be careful of dehydration! 

I recently discovered a turn in my route home that eliminates the last big hill. It's nice to be finishing a 26 mile ride and not having to redline the last few minutes. Sometimes you need the hills, but I had already biked almost double what I set out to do today and I don't want to go into Nations tired! 

Overall a good ride, but we both agreed that is our last ride before the race.  We've both been pushing really hard and we need to recover and get our stretching and core work in.  

Running the monuments and my fun tip for running with a faster partner

A few days ago, I needed to get a run in.  Somehow, that turned into me talking M into coming with me.  It was Sunday, when parking is free in DC.  So I decided it would be a fun day to drive in and run the monuments.  

I've always wanted to run the National Mall.  It just feels like the ultimate local thing to do... I know, it's weird. But even though I enjoy running in strange cities, DC feels more like a hometown when I bike or run it.  It feels like "hey, I'm local enough that I can run here and not care about how gross and sweaty I am, because a shower and snacks await me at my house!"  

So we started near what will the T1 transition area- not far from memorial bridge where all the playing fields are.  We ran the war monuments, then up by the reflection pool, then up to Lincoln.  If you've seen the second Captain America movie, you know the route.  

Then we ran all the way up the Mall.  I paced M pretty well. On the way back down, he went and did a few out and back sprints. This is a great way to run with someone faster than you- have them run to a certain point, and then they come back towards you. So he'd run two lights down and then come back and meet me.  It's a good way for the slower person to get a little speedwork in too- start running faster when the fast person is spotted coming back to you! Sprint to meet him or her, and then you get a little interval in!