Friday, September 30, 2011

Walking Like A Little Old Lady

For the Record:

After four very long, uncomfortable, annoying days of being non-weight-bearing on the injured leg, I got in to see the specialist.  He looked at my X-rays, had me walk around, and said I could "wean slowly off the crutches at your discretion".

I nodded sagely and solemnly, and obediently put pressure on the injured leg, as I thanked him profusely and walked with the crutches out to my car.

Where I promptly threw them into the car, never to be touched again.  I'd rather hobble for a bit.  It feels VERY good to be back on two feet!

The injury was ultimately a HUGE hematoma.  M calls it "zombie leg".  The bruise is the size of a good-sized watermelon.  At the highest point, it was about three inches high.  From a vanity point, it is neat to feel so super skinny as my swollen leg makes the rest of me feel lean by comparison.  The bruises right now are purple, blue, black, red, green, and yellow.

I'm off the bike for a few weeks, and off running until the swelling goes down.

Did you know that a hematoma apparently creates a sort of jelly-like stuff in the injured site as the blood congeals?  So I get to massage it and use warm compresses to break it up and move it about.  But it feels very strange to be hauling around a sack of jelly.  Ew.

I will spare you pictures.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Bike Name: The Bambino

I have been chasing my road bike century for three years and attempts now.  I rode my first century and long rides on my hybrid, back when I didn't know how crazy it was to ride 100 miles on a 30+ pound bike with suspension seatpost and fork.

Then M gave me a road bike for my 30th birthday.  The first century attempt ended in a crash.

The second century attempt- a year later- ended with capitulation at mile 85 with mechanical failure.

The third attempt- at the very well organized "Cycle the Lakes" sponsored by the Cottage Grove Rotary Club- has also ended, at mile 66 with hitting a rogue curb.  So far, it's just major, major bruising.  As in, a hematoma the size of a large cantaloupe on my leg, three inches high at the height.

I have decided to name my poor bike.  It shall now henceforth forever be known as the Bambino, as in, Curse of The.

In other news, the only reason I was able to actually ride this ride was because I begged my poor, long-suffering, and patient boss to have that Saturday off, and our sweet Rector Emeritus was happy to fill in at Circle Service (the alternative St. Mary's service) so I could ride.

Clearly, God is telling me to never ask for a day off unless it is already clear.  If you have to ask the retired guy, it's a sign.  DANGER! DANGER!

The Retired Guy was very happy to step up on Sunday morning to celebrate as well, so the Poor Long-Suffering Boss wasn't all alone.  Also luckily, the Boss was preaching anyway, so it wasn't like I bailed on a sermon.  Though as I pointed out, if I DID have to bail on a sermon, I'd have forwarded it, and the Boss could have read it for me.

Finally, the Boss brought communion over for me, which was very nice, as I really do love my little parish community and felt bad that I couldn't be there with them.  But let me tell you... communion whilst on narcotics- WOW.

The initial reading was about how the elements are the body and blood of Christ for us, and through eating the bread and drinking the wine, we live forever.  Basic Christianity 101, right?

In my loopy narcotic state, it struck me as the most patently ridiculous thing ever.  I starting laughing uncontrollably, realizing that I spent my entire life working for an invisible dude in the sky that no one has conclusively proved even exists.  I get paid to tell people that a little wafer of bread-like substance is a real symbol of their salvation by a Jewish dude who caused trouble.  The entire premise on which I base my life and work is essentially insane.  I mean, time travel has had more scientific investigation than this one!

And yet, I still believe it.

I'm also really glad that one of our hard-core scientists is going to do a Sunday Symposium on hard-core science and faith.  It will be really cool.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Plans for Friday and Saturday

Well, with total donations at over $1000, I think there is a swim in my future tomorrow, though I might also throw in a little light run if I"m feeling antsy.  It's my day off and given the choice between laundry and running away from housework...

What would you choose?  Yeah, that's right.  Bye bye, laundry.

On Saturday, M and I are going to go Cycle the Lakes.  We signed up for the century route.  Considering that I haven't been training for distance at all (but for speed and a fast 40K), I'm not sure about the endurance distance.  This wouldn't be my first century- just my first ROAD BIKE century.  And it'll be M's first century!  

I have just had no luck so far with centuries and my poor road bike- the first attempt landed me in the hospital in the Great Bike Crash of 2009.  The second attempt was two weeks before my first Olympic tri, and I bowed out at 85 miles with 15 miles of rolling hills left to go and a locked up rear derailleur that left me stuck in my highest gear.  (This episode was the deciding factor in the Great Bike Shop Break-up Of 2010.)

This year, I have my boys at Hutch's on my side, and I am madly in love with all of them and what they do for my bike.  I have to upload a picture- they did new bar tape and it's SO pretty!  Polka dots!  Red and white!  Shiny! Don't you love guys who understand their girls just want pretty shiny tough-girl bikes?  Plus they straightened my rear derailleur after the TSA was done with it, reset my handlebars, and trued my wheels.  It feels like riding through softened butter.

So the only thing between me and my first road bike century is going to be patience to gut it out and not get disheartened by all the pacelining bike clubs that will be going way faster than me and M.

In the meantime, I still reign as the toughest person in our house, since I rode my first few centuries on that hybrid, before I ever knew any better.  That bike probably tops 30 lbs, what with the suspension fork and seat.  I rode it all over Virginia before I ever really knew anything about bikes, with some of the most patient cop friends anyone could have.  It was the bike that started this whole love affair/obsession with the two-wheeled contraption.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Total Funds Raised as of today...

Our bookkeeper let me know that the funds raised total is updated:  as of today, we have raised a little over $971 for our causes, Episcopal Relief and Development and Concerns of Police Survivors.

Our original goal was $600.  So, yes, WOW, what an amazingly generous group of people do we know, in Eugene and across the planet.  WOW!

Anyone want to push us over $1000 for the heck of it?  I went 20.0 mph for all y'all!  How about... donate $29 and I'll run hills for you?  Better yet, donate $1000, I'll go swim two laps of Cottage Grove lake, and tell you how long it took and it'll be just like the cancelled swim leg!  Except that Cottage Grove is beautiful and clean, and the Potomac is really gross and silty at the best of times.  But otherwise, just like it!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The End of the Race for 2011: Disaster Narrowly Averted

Coming into T-2, I was pretty excited.  I've worked hard on my transition from bike to run and have it down pretty fast.  I even have a little chant for myself:  "Helmet-left-left-right-right-glove-glove-fooddrinkhat-go".  It gets my helmet off, my shoes changed (that's the left-left-right-right), reminds me to take off my gloves, and gets me a snack.  Kindergarten was the best year of my life ever- due to snacks.  Snacks, I love thee.  Total transition was a little over 2 minutes which includes running in and out of a huge transition area the size of three or four football fields!

At the end of the race with my ice-bath towel given to me by St. Towel of the Ice Bucket, Patron Saint of Tri volunteers.  Look for his inclusion in the next Holy Women, Holy Men.  

Now the run... always the toughest part.  I was shooting for an under 1:00 10K, which I haven't gotten all summer.  I tried and tried and tried.  I thought that if I could hold down a 9:40 or better mile I could do fine.  My miles last year were 10:42.  At mile 1, charging down the Mall, I hit the first mile marker at 9:15.  So I was actually ahead of my pace, and feeling strong.  My dirty secret?  I hum Hall and Oates "Maneater" to myself for the first mile to help me set a pace.  It's a perfect pace song for me right now.  I understand if you just can't respect me ever again.  

I need insane amounts of motivation.  And because my soul is always so sad and lonely and alone and neglected, I need a ridiculous amount of coddling from total strangers who've never seen me before in their lives to make me feel loved.  So heading out of T-2, I started yelling to the crowd "Hey, cheer for Oregon!  Cheer like you know me!"  and people started cheering and yelling and that lasted me a while.

Then I saw a cop, and I yelled "GO EUGENE PD!"  which I would shake up with "HEY!  GO LANE COUNTY SHERIFF'S!"  and that usually got me a whine of the sirens and some cheers from the cops on the route.  Most of the cops seemed to be having fun.  I mean, shutting roads for racing is super-easy overtime and usually terribly fun, with lots of nice people running by you.  And we hadn't even swum this year, so we weren't covered in Potomac sludge!

Not the cops were fun, though.  At least two separate guys were just sitting in their cars.  I mean, come on, people, it's a race.  Sitting in your car is B-O-R-I-N-G.  Stand up and cheer on the racers!  It's way more fun than sitting in your car.  Chaplain Cuddles says, "Don't be a boring cop."  Trust me.  I care about your spiritual and emotional well-being.  

Sadly for all of us in the universe, disaster struck just after mile 3 in the form of cramps.  My entire abdomen decided that would be a great place to imitate wet rope.  The cramps were quickly followed by the queasies, which is a problem because at that point, you don't want to eat and drink anything ever again.

Best cure for cramps?  Taking in sodium and electrolytes!  Which means me overcoming my stomach which is curled up in a fetal position begging me to never make it digest anything again.  I was also well past the 3 mile aid station but had at least 7 minutes until I hit the 4 mile aid station.  I pulled out my Margarita shot blox and started chowing down, doing my best to run through the cramps and hoping like hell that the sodium would loosen something up.  It was a pretty miserable mile.  (This is all I will say in this public venue about my mindset during mile 3-4.)

At this point, I will point out the humidity.  It was pretty humid by now, and mile 3 was pretty sunny, so it's possible this was all a minor case of mild overheating.

As soon as I saw that Mile 4 aid station, I tore open my Clif Shot (mocha with 18X the amount of caffeine needed to power a small city) and sucked it down.  I walked that station pretty slow.  I threw two cups of water over my arms, a third over my head, sucked down a cup, and got two cups of Gatorade.

One person remarked on my right calf, which by this point was joining the cramp party.  The whole calf was cramping so much that casual bystanders could see it knot up.  Y.O.W.C.H.

This is probably what cost me that sub-1-hour 10K.  But I managed to find a pace again as I came out.  About 2 minutes out of Mile 4, the Shot Blox, Shot, and Gatorade worked their magic.  The cramps thankfully eased up and movement became possible again.

Lesson learned yet again?  Force the food and fluid on the run.  You don't feel like it, but you need it unless you want to suffer greatly.  I keep learning this one over and over and over.

Ultimately, I came in at 1:00:05 for the 10K. It means I held down a fast-ish sub-9:30 pace on the good miles, and slowed way down during the Mile of Misery.  

As I came out of mile 5, I saw a Bethesda firefighter ahead of me.  She was in my age group.  We'd chatted in the swim corral.  I hadn't seen her at all through the bike ride, but she had a stronger, steadier run pace than me so she'd caught me on the run.  She was slowing down a bit, though.  I called out "Hey, Bethesda!"  and she said hi, and we ran together and were within 5 seconds of each other down the finish chute.  I might never see her again, but I definitely had a friend for this race!  There's all sorts of cool people like that you meet in tri.

Coming through the chute.  The white things on my arms, by the way, are arm coolers.  They really do keep your arms much cooler, and helped a LOT during this hot run!
I came in strong through the chute. By this point I was definitely overheating- despite the arm coolers, my fingers were swollen up like sausages and the cramps were coming back.  I'm just not acclimated to this humidity anymore!  (Wanna know how swollen my fingers were?  Part of my right hand actually split along a scar line from the Bike Crash of '09.  Sure, it's only the size and pain of a tiny little papercut, but still.  I am hardcore suffer person.)  

The volunteer gave me my medal, the medics gave me the stink-eye (the one they give you when they are starting to wonder if they need to grab you and haul you off to medical), and someone who is now going to be enshrined in the Episcopal Holy Women Holy Men book as "Saint Towel of the Ice Bucket" handed me a towel and forced my hand and the towel into a large bucket of ice water and draped it over my head.

Two things of Gatorade later and I had cooled off enough to exist.

I got my time from the timing station and was thrilled to find I'd beaten a few goals.  Last year, I'd been in the 78% of my age group, and I was hoping to maybe move up to the 50-60% of my age group.  I also hoped to beat my bike time, and my run time.  I beat both of those, indeed, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was in the 32% of my age group AND gender.  Those Eugene hills have paid off in spades! 

It was definitely awesome to be "home" in DC ten years after Sept. 11.  Seeing my city back to normal after all this time, and having tons of fun made it the perfect full circle. 

But you know what else?  As we came out of the airport in Portland, we smelled the Oregon air and said, "Oooo, piney!"  It was clean and fresh, and I realized I'd missed the trees and the hills.  I was actually eager and excited to come home to my house in the Eugene hills.  The last time I was ever excited to go home... I was living in Arlington.  

I guess we've found a place to call home again.  And yes, Uber-Cyclist and SuperCruiser and TriJunkie and Fearless Leaders... I WILL go on a bike ride with you! 

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Bike Ride: Race Report, Part 2

Suddenly, after the months of training and obsession, the alarm went off at 4:30 and it was race day!  Actually, the alarm clock, two iPhone alarms, and the wake-up call all went off.  I'm thorough like that.  The Marriott did a great job having the coffee shop open at 445AM.  Nothing makes my M happier than hot coffee at ungodly hours.   Once at transition, I set up my space using my very cool Gyst bag.  After a rainy week, transition was already a mud bath.  Other athletes dashed jealous looks at my bag, so cubular and dry.  Some of them were using the time-honored method of grocery bags for transition bags.  Others had floppy backpacks that did not stand up clean and cubular like mine.  All my gear was arranged and dry and clean!

Terrible shot in pre-dawn lighting just barely showing my racked bike and my Gyst bag.  I racked next to the girl with the race wheels figuring she'd be long gone by the time I got to my bike.  In the end, we weren't that far apart after all.  

I headed out of transition into my swim corral where we'd all line up for our time trial start.  Well, I headed out and then came back to get my glasses, extra water bottle, breakfast, gloves, and arm coolers.  They close transition at 6:45, and as I'm heading out, I always forget stuff!  Swim starts are definitely easier since I don't need to decide in the swim if I need my arm warmers or coolers- today, I had both in my hands and hedged my bets for an hour.  I was sure glad M had brought me a backup pair of running shoes from Oregon- my backup trail runners got soaked and muddy that morning.  I was so happy to have my "street" running shoes dry for the run!

I noticed a ton of bike jerseys and lot of other girls in skorts- I guess without the swim, a lot of us decided to go for the cuter clothes that we usually can't wear under a wetsuit!

Props to DC Tri Club member for her National Anthem.  Unlike so many of the celebs who add vocal riffs and make the song into a performance, she sang it simply and cleanly.  She has a lot of class as a performer!  The crowd started singing along for the last bit as the sun rose slowly over us.

I didn't get to see the start of the race since we were all packed into our corrals.  I was surrounded by men in earlier waves.  Even though I'm tall, I still couldn't see over all of them.  If I stood on tiptoe,  I could see some of the bikes heading out on the course, but it was almost an hour before the corrals emptied enough for me to see the time trial start.  Each age group corral was sent down the "RUN IN FROM SWIM" chute, and sorted into groups of 12.  At intervals of 10 seconds, we were sent off to our bikes.

Waiting for my time trial start.
As we grabbed bikes and ran to the course start, we faced the biggest mud puddle of all- it was deep, sucking, and plenty gooey.  Most of us threw our bikes over our shoulder and one of the girls cracked, "Hey, we're doing tri-clocross!"  Let's just say- back at the hotel later, it took almost 20 minutes and using tweezers as a pick to get all the mud out of the various crevices of my shoes!  

My bike was blazing.  It's not just the flames on the saddle.  It was seriously blazing... fast!  My split was 1:14:xx which means an average MPH of 20.0.  Here in Eugene, I can usually hold 17-19 if I'm really, really booking it.  But DC is pancake flat, plus it was cool and had a smidge of humidity.  I guess my bike liked it!  I was a little worried that I'd blow up on the run course for going so fast on the bike, but what can I say?  I tried to hold it in, but my pony just wanted to run.  I jumped into the passing lane and stayed there most of the race.

At first, I was surrounded by my own age group.  (Women 30-34).  About 10K in, I started seeing the age group ahead of me (the younger women).  I started in the B corral for my age group- I realized I had worked my way through most of my usual pack!  But soon, I started seeing a lot more men!  I was a little shocked to realize I'd worked my way up that much in the pack.

Overall, I felt unstoppable on the bike.  I ate my honey stinger waffle as planned and downed a couple of Margarita Shot Blox, which I am convinced saved my race.  The bike was shady and cool, but you'll hear more about the humidity shortly!

Again and again, I thanked my Eugene stars for all those hills.  Hutch's and Multisport Advantage spent the summer dragging me up and down hills all over town, and at the time, I suffered and suffered.  D.C., on the other hand, is pancake flat.  There's a teeny little roller here and there... but it's so much smaller than what I've been riding that I felt like I was riding with afterburners when I surged up those hills.  Ever climb an off-ramp at 17mph?  Yeah, me neither until Sunday!  I had the unique experience of having the race volunteers calling me to slow down. 

All too soon- barely 1:14:xx later… I was rolling towards the dismount sign.  M was hoping to nab a hardcore competition shot, but I saw him and started waving madly.  Here’s the happy shot, instead. 

Happy bike!  I had actually worked my way up so far that I was among the girls who were taking their feet out of their shoes while still on the bike.  I've never been that far up with the fast girls before!
TOMORROW:  The Run- Chasing a Sub 1-Hr 10K Again:  Sodium, Oh Sodium, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Race Report

First off, many thanks to the partners who gave us the chance to stay in the race hotel! Packet pickup, race shuttles, staff being cool with bikes wheeling through the fancy lobby... we had no worries!  It was really worth it in relaxation.  I had a nice space to run through my six checklists of gear.

Race morning- time trial start as the sun rises.  

Thank you also to our incredibly generous donors:  we have raised over $921 for our causes (with more still to come!).  This is going to be split between Episcopal Relief and Development for their general fund, and Concerns of Police Survivors.  ER-D will use our donations to help people in our country- like people from St. Luke’s in Oregon who recovered from a tsunami to people in Vermont who are still assessing their post-flooding needs- and people internationally through programs like Nets for Life which gives mosquito nets to families so they can sleep without fear of malaria-bearing insects. 

Our donation to Concerns of Police Survivors is dedicated to the family of Ofc. Chris Kilcullen who was killed in the line of duty on April 22.  He was shot during a traffic stop.  Since that time, a number of St. Mary’s families have shared their connection to the police force- a neighbor, a son, an officer who helped out in a difficult situation- and the community consensus was that this situation was above any individual politics- this was about helping out our neighbors and letting our public servants know that they do have people here who care about them as human beings.  I think we are blessed with a fantastic police department here in Eugene.  So far, in every dealing I’ve had with them, I’ve found them to be professional and competent and possessed of a good sense of humor… even though I’m officially sworn as a chaplain to Lane County Sherriff’s!  We’re very glad to be able to give a little to the cause to let our officers know their neighbors care.  This donation will help cover the cost of sending the Kilcullen family to Washington, DC next May to attend the National Police Week C.O.P.S. Survivor’s Conference.  We hope it helps them in their ongoing healing. 

Showing off the Ofc. Kilcullen Bracelet, surrounded by Team in Training People.  The Bethesda Firefighter is just out of the frame of this shot.  
Ultimately, the best part of the race wasn't the sheer speed of the course (even though I love riding my bike really fast).  It was meeting all the other people and talking to all those doing the race for a cause.  Team in Training is the biggest cause, but a good number of people were fundraising for the Wounded Warrior Project dedicated to helping wounded military vets.  The thin blue line bracelet I was wearing in honor of Ofc. Chris Kilcullen of the Eugene PD was noticed and remarked on by a lot of law enforcement folks- there were a lot of good wishes for our Eugene guys!  I got to talk up Episcopal Relief and Development a bit, and it was neat to hear people say they had been looking for a cause like that that helped people internationally AND domestically.  On the bike course, I saw a competitor without legs pedaling away on specialty legs on his bike.  Guys like that are such a great testament to human optimism!  I love how people strike up random conversations- who you are, where are you from, why are you racing.  As I headed to the chute, a man wearing a Eugene Ducks t-shirt saw my hat, and started cheering for Eugene, and he got the crowd going for this by-then-very-hot-and-overheating Eugene girl.  He and his wife sought me and M out after the race and we had a nice chat.  Races just seem to bring together a ton of really nice people who like to help others out.  

So here you go:  SUNDAY MORNING.  Race Report.  

First thing tomorrow.  

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Nation's: Zombie Apocalypse Style

In the zombie movie formula, it seems one starts off with the seemingly innocuous event that would touch off the great Zombie Apocalypse.

In the opening shot, the camera would pan across the waters.  You'd see debris and something pretty much just like this: brown and dirt grey mixed together.  A clever montage would include screen shots and voiceovers of news channels talking about the recent earthquake, hurricanes, and typhoons.  The camera would cut away to an airport shot where your heroine would sit reading the Washington Post.

The movie would continue with a charming comic moment, cleverly underacted with great wit, as the main character discovers that the TSA had inspected her bike and done a lousy job of repacking it.

The DC zombie movie progresses with the intrepid and brave heroine persevering through assembling the bike with nothing but an awkward multitool.  (The camera, oddly, would spend a strange amount of time panning over the tools on said multitool.)  A hard-bitten bike mechanic character would be introduced who would swiftly reassemble the bike and warn her against the Potomac.  Bad things happen in that river, he'd say.  Besides, running is for criminals and those fleeing... (movie spooky foreshadowing sound effect) the unknown evils.   In the movie, he'd leave behind a tool or two which the heroine would pick up and find useful uses for later.  (In the real world, the hard-bitten bike mechanics counts his tools so his klepto sister-in-law doesn't walk off with an allen wrench or two.)

Despite that dire warning, the main character would still head out on a mechanical ride.  And all would seem well.


Other than the bright brown sludge standing in for the river, all seems perfectly normal.   

The tri swim start would be readied.

In the movie, the tri swim dock would actually start to be assembled by dock workers who would haplessly get a bit of brown sludge on a single sliver of exposed skin.  And since we all know our zombie movies, you know how it goes from there. 

You realize very quickly that the bike-riding heroine is actually the damsel in distress, and the hero/love interest is somewhere in the skies above.  He'd land in Dulles, take a taxi to the metro, and arrive to a deserted city where abandoned papers would skitter across grimy streets.  

Somehow he'd work his way to the race hotel where he'd find the bike-riding heroine, defending a last group of survivors with a bike pump and an aerowheel, with maybe a Macbook Air fashioned into an ax.  I hear the newest edition of those things are DEADLY.  Or useful for chopping cabbage.  Those might be the same thing, actually.  

Sadly for all of us, every time I have taken the "Would you survive the zombie apocalypse test", I inevitably come up with the answer of, "You will lead a group of survivors to relative safety but die sacrificing yourself in sight of sanctuary".  M, on the other hand, is always "You survive to build a new society on the ashes of the debris-filled zombie wasteland".  

So I have no idea how the story ends.  

Put your money on M in the event of Zombie-Apocalypse, and in the meantime, let's all be grateful that the swim was called off and that no human beings that we know of were actually exposed to the Potomac sludge above. 

Did the Nation's Race organizers save us all from certain death? 

We may never know for sure.  But let's give them credit where credit is due.  

Friday, September 9, 2011

So What Now?

So there's no swim.  I completely support the race organizers' decision.  This is not one that was even borderline go-or-no-go.  They couldn't get into the water to build the swim dock (which takes a few days) because the Potomac hasn't even hit the crest of its flood stage.  It's running fast and furious with a few tons of debris that we can see.  This doesn't even mention the raw sewage.  (Well, not until now.)

Yes, I'm fine with not swimming.  A smidge disappointed that I won't beat my time from last year, but I understand and accept.

Instead, I'm going to chase my 10K Personal Record (PR).  Officially, it's 1:04:23 from the Butte to Butte.  Unofficially, on a non-marked course, running with Robot Lance on my iPod telling me "Good... Job... Your... Longest... Run... Yet", it's 1:00:17, in sunny conditions with a hill at the end.  This is going to be cold and wet and totally flat.

I run well in wet and cold and flat.

A lot of racers have pulled out of the race.  This is somewhat sad, but I think for a tri like this, there's two ways of looking at it.  It can be a race where you want to beat a time and/or qualify for the Nationals in Vermont and/or do your first Olympic tri.  The duathlon is still a qualifier, but I suppose if you are here for the other two reasons, missing the swim is a deal breaker.

A few people are considering pulling out due to the "unspecified terror threat" reported in the NY Times and the Washington Post.  To which I say:  Hooey!  There are always going to be credible, unspecified threats.  That is the fabric of our national life, now.  We just don't normally HEAR about those threats in our daily lives.  And I'm sure as hell not going to let a threat stop me from going out and living life every day, in every city I'm in, from the storm-tossed Atlantic to the wild Pacific.  I will race in my beloved, beloved DC, say farewell to my favorite city, and return home to sweet Eugene.  No fear.

The other reason is why I'm here:  to support a fabulous cause, together with my partners across the country.  I'm racing because St. Mary's is focused on reconciliation and rebuilding, and that happens no matter what.  We will always have something dreadful happening to some part of the great body of humanity, and we will always have work to do in rebuilding lives in every way.

It's so much more than a race.  I'm so grateful to be here, and so proud of St. Mary's for all they have done this summer, and for their forward, positive focus.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

No Potomac Swim

It's official- Nation's has called the swim leg and made the race a duathlon.  While I'm disappointed to not do the race as a tri, I think they made the right call.  I spent about 5 minutes being sad, and then I started jazzing myself up for a PR in the bike and especially run.  I had given up on my sub-1 hour 10K this year, knowing I'd be tired after the swim and the bike.  Now, I'll have extra energy.

I'm chasing that 10K time.  10K... I am going to own you.

The river hasn't crested yet, and is expected to crest sometime tomorrow.

There's visible debris in the water... meaning there's even more invisible debris.

I don't know what the bacteria level is, but this is a city and there's a ton of run off.

Parts of 495 are flooded.

Yes, not swimming in the river is a disappointment.  However, they are bravely still doing the rest of the race and the finish line festival, and in a city like DC, that means they are adjusting their logistics on this weekend when dozens of events are happening everywhere.

(Attention DC people: take Metro.)

I am a little sad, but I support the race organizers' decision.  No race is worth risking lives for.

Good call, Nation's.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Above Ground Swim Leg

I arrived in Dulles on schedule, despite the best efforts of Boston.  JetBlue had those of us with Dulles connections get up and sprint off the plane ahead of everyone else. The flight was fine, I guess.  I left my eyemask in my overhead bin carryon, and then switched seats with these newly-weds who were not sitting next to each other so they could sit next to each other, so it was gone for the night.  Other than being woken up by the guy in back of me who decided that 1AM was a great time to re-apply his aftershave (seriously, you stinker?  Do I need to back there are devastate you now?  Blech!), it was a typical flight.  Long, dull, and boring.

Bike box action shot.  SCINTILLATING!  

I was thrilled that my bike arrived in its box.  After a teammate had a very stressful-with-a-happy-ending moment with his bike, I was plenty nervous.  But the TSA opened my box and obviously poked and prodded... badly.  I have some ground up padding, a naked quick release that poked a hole through the side, and a helmet that spent all its time on the bottom of the box (where the inspectors seem to have dropped it.  Yeah, I always stick my helmet on the bottom).  Thankfully, Hutch's padded my bike to within an inch of its life, so we'll see if there's any actual damage once we get it all out.

In the category of "Beetles are the best car ever",  I had reserved a full-size sedan, but it wouldn't fit my bike box!  (Beetle, 4-evuh.)  So they gave me a mini-van, which is just like a 40 foot yacht.

This is a good thing, as it started pouring rain like it only seems to rain on the East Coast, mid-hurricane.  So anyone with pairs of animals needing a rescue, text me.  I'm obviously driving the boat.

It fit the bike box, and had room for the luggage.  However, with the last row of seats folded down, it is just long enough to just fit a bike box.  Points for cuteness: Beetle.  Points for vehicle with lots of straps on the seat and a professional car rental person needed to fold down seats?  OK, mini van.

By the time I got to the Seminary, it was raining so hard, I think I swam the entire swim leg, above ground, fully dressed.  I would not have looked out of place in my wetsuit.

OK, I would have looked out of place in my wetsuit on campus.  But I would have been a lot warmer and my jeans wouldn't have gotten so wet!

Except that I found out that one of my professors from Seminary is also doing the race!  I'm so totally stalking her right now to see if she wants to hang out and talk about tris and stuff like that.   I'm a friend geek like that.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On My Way...The Amazing TSA-wowing Running Toe Socks.

Well... after all the training, with far fewer times in water than I would have liked, a boatload more running than I ever thought humanly possible, and a bunch of great bike rides, I'm off.

The bike has its new tires (Continental 4000S) and the wheels DO feel lighter.  My brother-in-law mechanic is going to meet up with me to put it together on the DC end.

After all the worry, the give-the-bike-to-the-plane-people handoff went well.  It seems JetBlue has briefed all their people on the Nation's Tri, so it was completely worry free.  (Yay!)  They even weighed the box for chuckles and grins- 26.5 lb.  With the helmet and a bunch of padding in there.  I dragged it over to Oversize, and off it went.  See you on the other side, Bike!

As I went through Security, the portal beeped!  Yeah!  I was a lucky winner!

Oh, no, just for extra screening.  I wish my luck would work- just once- on the Powerball or something.  I'm the luckiest girl in the world *except* when it comes to the lottery.  And don't you think I'd be a terribly responsible lottery winner?  I'd be so very benevolent.

Anyway, my shoes got swiped with some special wand and a piece of cloth and then it was scanned for all manner of illegal substances.  The TSA guys got wowed by my running toe socks.  I guess these don't show up every day.  These being hardened TSA agents, it takes a lot to wow them.

Now I'm just waiting for my red-eye!

 The Amazing Running Toe Socks.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

VW Beetles Are the Best Car Ever

In case you needed to know...

That is a bike box in the back of a VW Beetle.  Fully loaded, bike inside.  

This is my shoulder, because I'm snapping a picture over it while I'm sitting- **COMFORTABLY** in the driver's seat, which I didn't even have to move to fit the bike box into the Beetle.

And the hatchback even closed without a worry.

My Beetle is the best car ever.  Beetle and me, 4-evuh.

Thus is resolved the last worry I had about getting my bike from here to Portland.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Stocked Up

Okay, Race Fans.  The bike has been dropped off for boxing at Hutch's.  I'm busy second-guessing and self-doubting my decision to go with the bike box... I still hear and read accounts and research that a soft bike bag is the way to go, that  a specialty hard case is the way to go, that a clear plastic garbage bag is the way to go, that nothing at all is the way to go...

EDIT: I called JetBlue and they say it's a bike box, or the bike doesn't fly.  Phew.  That was so much easier than fretting for weeks on end, right?

The bike will get to Portland and it will get on a plane, somehow.  The end.

I also stopped by REI to pick up energy food.  I don't usually eat this stuff except during a race, and knowing that races are heavily branded, I can never be certain that they'll have what I like.  So I bring my own so I don't have to fight uber-athletes over the Clif Shot Bloks in margarita flavor.  There are people out there who are much tougher than me, but they would be astounded how scrappy I can be when desiring my Shot Bloks.

This is what I got.

My Clif Bar standards, and my new favorite: Honey Stinger waffles.  Oh, Honey Stinger, how badly do I want to eat a waffle right now to be sure you are just as tasty as you were last month when I first tried one...

Yes, it's a lot of food.  I stash some of it in my checked luggage and some in my carry on, so if one thing gets lost, I'll still have food on the course.

And yes, I'll have to check a bag this time.  I think there's no way the airport will let me carry on a spare tube, a multitool, and a few packets of Clif Shots.  I'm sure the priest thing is just a mild-mannered front and inside there is a ne'er-do-well aching to get out and enact airport shenanigans.  I could possibly use the Shots in nefarious ways.  I mean, I could give the mocha extra caffeine espresso wonderland one to a toddler and let him loose on a plane.

Airport Survival, Stressball Style

Clif Bars are great for airport survival.  I mean, how many times have you been dashing between terminals between one connection and another, and you need food since we can't carry on most food anymore?  I cannot pack and take an adorable little tiffin.  You thwart my cute lunch, TSA!  Never again will you confiscate my PB&J!  Your choices are typically the Chinese-Mexican Fusion Express, the Deep-Fried Lard-o-Rama, and the sit-down-yes-we're-a-microbrewery-in-an-airport-why-don't-you-believe-us place.

Sometimes, I look longingly across a crowded room at the sushi display placed alluringly right before the steam table that is keeping the heat on the Hot Fresh Pizza Made Fresh For You, and I wonder... is this the day I redeem airport sushi from the pits of airport cuisine?  Have I at last found the diamond-in-the-airport-rough?

It's never worked out between me and sushi in the airport, and that explains why I often end up wondering whether egg rolls and french fries might really be the next great fusion dish.

So it's probably a good thing I have some Clif Bars in my bag when I travel, isn't it?