Friday, February 29, 2008

Quick Update!!!



I'm here! I have arrived.

And after today's swim, bike/run, I think (think?) - I believe that I'm still (somewhat) intact. I can still feel my legs, and considering the company that I was with, and the course we rode, that's saying something.

For updates on what we did and how it went - see Elizabeth's blog. Her entry is great, funny, and summarizes everything really well.

It's really interesting finally meeting everyone for the first time. Yes, in the past I've seen fellow HTFU campers at various races - but was way too intimidated to actually introduce myself. The first thing I did when I walked into the restaurant last night (quick note - I left Florida about an hour later than I had expected. I wanted to knock out my 2 hour bike ride on the trainer before I left... but a very noisy trainer - the kind that wakes the neighbors... - at 5 am wasn't on my agenda. Or Nathaniel's.... so I got a late start. But I figured my friends would understand as they're all, well, fellow triathletes!)... Anyway, I walked into the restaurant, and there they all were. Jen, Liz, Ashley, Mary, and Leslie.

"So," I commented. "You guys REALLY DO exist!"

And we all laughed.

So yes, I can vouch, they ARE real. They DO exist. And they're simply AMAZING!

JEN: Loud, boisterous, funny, peppy, serious. She doesen't drink coffee (that much anyway), but she acts as though she's had 4 cups. She's a beast, will work her butt off, and wants us all to do the same. I got to swim in her lane today... I held on for dear life, and kept going. Through it all, she was supportive, encouraging - but she wanted to get the job done. The perfect coach.

MARY: The sweetest one of us all. Her smile is incredible, and she has a kind word for everyone. Two bad tires couldn't keep her down - after a quick trip back to Carolina Triathlon (local bike shop) she was back on the course, biking her heart out. Warm, friendly, and determined to help me keep my swim splits. A fantastic friend and great listener.

LIZ: I don't know what to say, except pound for pound, the strongest biker I have ever seen. She broke her power wattage record not once, but twice today. I was very impressed. I've got a good 25 pounds on her, and I found myself biking next to her and holding onto her wheel for dear life. Quiet, a little shy at first, but really opens up. The serious one of the bunch, but patient, funny, and willing to explain things over (and over) again for me ("the 12-year old" of the group. I can't help it if I was born in 1981!)

LESLIE: My fellow IM Arizona-er. When the other gals finished their rides today after 3:15 (we had a late start due to an awesome swim and too much time spent looking at bike/tri related items at the bike shop), Leslie and I set out to finish as close to 5 hours as possible. We hit 4:45 before we admitted defeat and parked the bikes. Afterwards we ran 30 minutes toether - when I was suffering with 10 minutes to go, afraid of a mega-bonk at any minute, Leslie was awesome. She simply said, "Take this moment now. Don't give up, because you'll never have this workout again." Leslie is the grown-up of the group, funny, vivacious, whose personality matches her hair (very curly!).

ASHLEY: My South Carolina Soul Sister. She is incredibly cool, an amazing swimmer and awesome biker. Liz dubbed her "The Sleeper" - because she figured that Ashley would surprise us all with something incredible. Well - biking up a big hill, into a headwind, holding 18 mph while the rest of us curse and yell - Ashley showed that she's a kick-ass climbers who takes no prisoners. Thankfully she's in a different age group from me... Down to earth, funny, organized, and so amazing for hosting us all this weekend. She makes me want to return to South Carolina and train again.

So far, trip has been great.

Legs are tired, stomach is full, neck and shoulders feel a little tight - and my air mattress is calling my name.

Off to bed.

Tomorrow, more of the same. Except we're climbing a REALLY big hill.

I may just attach a rope to Liz and Ashley and hang on for dear life. Then again, Coach Jen would yell at me, and do something silly (like make me climb the hill again). But you know what?

I just might.

(At least I'll try).


SORRY - if this blog was so scattered. I am tired, my mind is foggy, and it's all I can do to keep typing. It was an epic day with over 6:30 of total training. Hhhmmmm. Almost as long as it took me to drive here from Pensacola... Wow.

FINALLY - big Thank YOU to Danielle (aka Pedergraham) for her most wonderful care package. Your coffee signlehandedly woke up Liz, Mary, Leslie and myself. The treats were fantastic, and were enjoyed thoroughly. They are all gone... but we all remember. Thanks...


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sout Carolina - here I come!

Deep breath.



And oh yeah, I'm forgetting something...


Oops - I still have to pack.

Simple enough:

1) HTFU suit, goggles, cap - check
2) Bike - check
3) Run shoes - check

Great - I'm all set. (Of course, I plan on wearing clothes... no, there won't be any naked women swimming/biking/running in South Carolina. If you do see one, kindly look away. Hopefully the other members of our group will realize that one of us has cracked, and will shortly be to her rescue).

After they climb Paris Mountain. Or whatever its called. I just know that its big, its steep, and I had to get a new rear cog for my bike. Before this week I didn't even know the difference between an 11-23, 12-25, and 12-27.

That's what living in the Florida Panhandle will do.

Nice views of the Gulf. Warm winters. But no hills. Well - maybe a few "rollers" - but let's get real. "Climbing" a hill for :45 doesen't exactly count now, does it?

Its rumored that some of the climbs will take upwards of half an hour. Wow. That means for an entire episode of Fawlty Towers, I could be climbing a mountain in Greenville, SC. Wow. Next time I see John Cleese, I'll think of biking. Go figure.

So yeah - warm winters, clear (shark-filled) waters, and lots of flat lands for biking. Thank goodness the subject of gearing and tt bikes vs road bikes came up before we converged on Greenville. FYI: we settled on the TT bikes with appropriate cog setting.

No 11-23s for me. That, my friends, would have been really ugly!

So technically, with my new set of 12-25s and 650 wheels, I should be able to climb the hills. That's the theory, anyway. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

In all honesty, I can't wait. I'm so excited - I'm jumping out of my skin. My goal isn't to conquor the moutain or beat it into submission. No - I want to work with the mountain, enjoy her for her splendor, tackle the challenges that she provides, use whatever she offers, and challenge myself to the best of my ability.

Will I learn? I plan on it.

Will it be painful? Probably.

Will I crack? Hopefully not.

Will I have a shit-tonne of fun with my friends? You betcha!

So with that, I'm off to bed. The laundry is in the dryer, my trainer is set up for tomorrow's early morning spin, and the living room has been taken over by an odd assortment of powders, gels, drink mixes, and Margarita Cliff Blocks. It looks like my gear closet threw up.

In a few short hours, I'll be packed up, bumping along the road, heading North to Greenville, South Carolina. And I can't wait!

To the Mountains - Hurrah!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The 200 Butterfly

I’ve often found myself wondering which is worse: the known or the unknown? Is knowledge really power? Or, rather, is ignorance bliss? Does the fear lie in knowing or not knowing? Regardless of what you believe, this is something I’ll continue to ponder well beyond my start at Ironman Arizona – long after the 17 hour time limit has elapsed.

What brings up this philosophical train of thought? Glad you asked.

Yesterday at Master’s Swim, I completed (ahem – attempted to complete) my first 200 Butterfly. No – not 50 fly, not even 100, but the 200 fly.

Never mind that the absolute furthest I had ever butterflown was 25 yards. And yes, 6 X 25 fly is one thing. Especially when you have a good 30 to 60 seconds of rest on the wall, before your next assault, er attempt. And if you do the math – which I’m sure you’re all doing right now – that only amounts to a grand total of 150 yards. So yes, my previous record of butterfly in any single swim practice amounted to a whopping 150 yards.

As long as we’re going to do something, we might as well do it all out – right? Let’s just skip the 50, bypass the 100, and hit a homerun with the 200. If you can do 25 fly pretty effectively, 200 should be okay – right?

Yea. Sure. Okay. (Somewhere, all the swimmers out there – just fell out of their chairs laughing).

At the end, at the finish of those final 10 yards, my single thought was to “hit the wall.” Touch the end, and you’ll be done. Like William Wallace in “Braveheart” – all he had to do was kiss the ring of the clergy, and his torture would stop. Still – his head would be chopped off – but the agony of torture would come to an end.

Luckily, I didn’t die during my 200 butterfly attempt. Yes – I thought I might. But alas, I’m getting ahead of myself.

So while you read – ponder the following: Is it better knowing what you’re about to do, or is ignorance truly bliss.

To each their own.

Yesterday at Master’s it was IM Stroke Drill Day! Oh Goody! My NEW favorite day.


As someone who specializes in freestyle, the thought of doing all IM drills and strokes is a bit, well, overwhelming. Before I jumped in the water, I did so with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. Hooray – I get to swim! Yippee!

The grin quickly slid off my face when our substitute coach set up the workout board. To my utter amazement and horror, I saw NO freestyle after the warm-up. (Cue the scary music.)



Zip, Zero, Zilch.

Bloody effing hell. Just my luck. (It’s almost as though Jen knew, just knew, that today would be IM stroke drill day). Wonderful.

A bit of background, and a friendly reminder: I’m great at freestyle. I’m happy doing the front crawl. Even the doggie paddle. 50s, 500s, 1500s – doesn’t matter. Throw anything at me freestyle-wise, and I’ll do it. I may be slow, but rest assured, I’ll get it done.

And now for the record: before Monday, I had never done anything longer than 50 breast, 50 back, or 25 fly. (Again, I can hear all the swimmers falling out of their chairs laughing. FYI: you guys should just get a pillow, or sit on the floor – as you’re bound to chuckle at my naiveté more than once again. Giving you a fair warning…). Unlike Elizabeth, I don’t plan or ripping out my fly at 70.3 Worlds this year, thank-you very much.

So on the board, when I saw various sets of drills, followed by a 200 of each stroke EXCEPT freestyle, I nearly shat myself. Rest assured, I had already peed, and so that was a no-go.

My lane mates – Kathy and D (awful with names – can’t remember it! Maybe I could if there was peanut butter involved, but even that – I’m afraid – won’t help jog my memory) – and I stared, open mouthed, at the board in amazement. They were both old pros at the drills, having gone through them all before. But as I was the designated lane leader (again swimmer friends – hope that you’re sitting on your cushions!), they had to explain them to me, and we were shortly on our way.

First we went through the breaststroke drills. And then the 200 breaststroke.

Not as bad as I thought… my glide got a little better and I focused on keeping my face parallel to the pool bottom.


Next, the backstroke drills. After Kathy bumped her arm against my feet, I figured that I should probably add a little strength behind my pull, and noticed a significant shift in my stoke. Who would have thought that by rotating your hips, reaching a little further back, and really pushing the water away from your body – you could go so fast? I was downright looking forward to my 200 backstroke, and it didn’t disappoint.


So, for all you Sportsfans who are out there, keeping track, I had just swam my very first 200 Breaststroke and very first 200 Backstroke.

New records for Marit – sweet! Can’t go wrong – right?

And then, ah – then came the butterfly. And our “reward” for doing our drills? We got to bust out our very own 200 fly.


First, I must confess that I love fly drills. Now that I’m finally beginning to understand the concept of “rolling from your shoulders”, and feel the “flow of the stroke” – the drills are kind of, well – dare I say fun? Yes, the single arm fly drills are a blast. Even the single arm alternate make me happy. Throw in some dolphin kicks (with or without fins), and I’m a happy camper. Never having been a “swimmer kid” like Greg, in some weird way, fly drills are my very own “pool play time.”

According to my lane buddies, Kathy and D – the drills ended too soon.

Me, well, it was different. I was, (can I admit this???) – happy…?

In all reality, I’ve been harboring a not-so-secret fantasy to swim the 200 fly. (okay okay – all you swimmers out there, hope that you’re permanently seated on the floor!)

Why? (Perfectly good question)

Simply put, simply stated: It seems like the biggest, baddest, most hard-core swimming event out there. I am in awe of people who can swim 200 fly. I am mesmerized by the flow of their bodies, by how graceful they look in the water. Even if they "butterflop" their way down the lane – well, at least they’re trying. At least they’re making the effort of doing something challenging.

Back when my little sister was in high school (have to call her little sis, because she is now taller than her big sis. Humph. She got the tall genes – not me. Oh well. I’m 3.66 years older than her, so that must count for something!), she decided to swim the 200 Butterfly. To her, it was an event of attrition. No one else wanted to touch it, come even close to it. At first, she would finish last out of 2 or 3. But by her senior year, she was winning the event. She stuck it out, perfected her technique, decided that she wanted to challenge herself, and conquered the stroke.

Yes, she was a little nuts. But she was also hardcore. The epitome of HTFU, if you may. And I was in amazement of her, of her dedication and determination.

Before my very own 200 Butterfly, I thought about Karyna and drew inspiration from her strength.

I looked at my lane mates. And they started back at me.

There was a brief moment of silence.

We looked over at lane #2. The faster guys – they had just finished their 200 fly, and looked pretty, well, awful.

We quickly looked away.

Then we glanced at lane #4, #5, and #6. Which included several octogenarians. They all seemed to sense our stares and made a few jokes about our 200 fly. They inquired if we would be using fins.

“Heck no!” I replied. “We’re doing this, just mind, body, and soul.”

While speaking, I saw my counterparts in lane 4, gearing up for their own set of fly drills, pulling on their gigantic fins. Not even the little zoomers, rather these bad boys looked like scuba fins. The kind that covert operating Navy SEALs use while propelling themselves through the water.

You know the kind: strap them on your feet, and you’re at the other side within 6 big kicks. 10 for the octogenarians.

Our lane 4,5, and 6 friends all wished us good-luck, shook their heads, and were on their way.

With one final round of pep talks – mostly me blabbing incoherently about my first 200 Fly and HOW EXCITING it was bound to be – I started, leading our little trio.

I wish I could say it was beautiful. I wish I could say my stroke matched that of Michael Phellps. I wish I could say that I maintained some semblance of form by the end. Alas, I cannot.

The first 25 went well. I got a big push off the wall, kicked from my shoulders, and felt myself smoothly glide through the water. Yes, I still need a lot of work, but… I actually felt okay for the first 25. I remember thinking that “this wasn’t too bad….”

Ha ha. 25 out of 200 is nothing, my friend!

On the way back, I could feel my lower back tense a little, but all systems were still go. My arms were still clear of the water, my breathing was solid, and I was still pretty parallel to the pool bottom. I was breathing, not choking. Life was good.

I touched the wall, thought to myself “1/4 done!” and set off to complete the 75. My push off was still solid, although I didn’t travel nearly as far underwater as I had on my previous pushes, but I figured it was still okay. I surfaced, took a big breath of air, and started working my way down the lane.

Wow – this isn’t as easy as I though. Hhhmmmm. The wall is only a little further on. Just hang in there….

Around the 70 yard mark, I knew it was going to be ugly. My lower back was a bit more tense, my hips were dragging a bit, and I was desperate for breath. At the time, I thought that if I just held my breath until I hit the wall – everything would be okay. In freestyle – yes. Butterfly – no.

And why?

Duh – freestyle takes me like 3 seconds to hit the wall from that point – and I can glide. With butterfly, I still needed to take a stroke, or two… or three. And 3 strokes of butterfly requires breathing.

I survived, touched the wall – and made the mistake of glancing the entire 25 yards down the pool lane. OHMYGOD! It suddenly hit me: I need to swim THAT in order to hit the 100. And then I need to do the SAME THING FOUR MORE TIMES!


My panic was replaced by resolve: I wanted to do the fly, wanted to know what it felt like. It felt like the entire pool – coach on the deck, studs in lane 2, fin-sporting octogenarians and all – were watching our little procession.

Morbid curiosity, if you ask me.

So I put my head down, pushed as hard as I could off the wall, and kept going. My back was screaming, my legs felt dead, my butt felt like it had a 50 pound weight on it – but the shoulders and arms, well, they were okay.

I’d like to think that it was because of all my shoulder work with my functional strength program. But in reality, it was because my ass had just acquired what felt like a 50-pound weight, therefore forcing the upper body out of the water.


I’ll just stick with the super strong shoulders and arms, thank you!

Through some miracle of miracles, I made it to the 100. And I was surprised to see Kathy on my heels. Though she was little, she was mighty fierce with the fly. In between gasps, I asked her if she wanted to go ahead.

“Sure!” she choked, a bit too peppy for my own liking.

And then she was off, butterflopping her way down the lane towards the 125 mark.

Being the triathlete I am, I tried to enjoy her draft for as long as possible. But my body didn’t really get the memo – the mind was willing, but the flesh was weak. My legs no longer seemed to be working properly, and my arms felt like some sort of weird, twisted windmill. Almost like the drills that we had just practiced on our backs for Backstroke – I was now performing them on my front.


It was all I could do to duck out of the way of Kathy’s arms as she swam back from the 125. One ugly butterflyer per lane is awkward enough. Two is comical. Three – well, three butterfloppers - who have no clue as to what they’re doing, who have never swam 200 fly before, well – that’s an occasion for the entire pool to watch.

Which they did.

The newest spectator sport: 3 simmers attempting the 200 fly for the first time. Brilliant!

I touched the wall at the 125, and well – don’t really remember anything that happened in the next 25 yards. I think my mind blanked it out, from lack of oxygen, from too much pain.

Somehow, I arrived at the 150. I know that I swam, made some humorous attempt at butterfly – my shoulders, arms, back, and legs confirmed that. And it was all I could do to FORCE myself to turn around (again!) and swim another length of the pool.

The lane looked so long. And my body was screaming at me to stop. My form was UGLY, the tsunami-like wave that I produced from my graceless stroke a testament to my struggle. So I did what anyone else on a mission would do: I put my head down, and just went.

I don’t know how I got through the final 50. With my 150 fly – all in a row – I had just matched my previous record for butterfly yardage completed in an entire workout. One word: OUCH! But the 200 fly was written on the board: it was part of my workout. I was determined to see it through, unwavering in my commitment to its completion.

Flop, flop, flop. Get passed by the octogenarian in her SEAL flippers. Flop, flop, flop. Get passed by a Lane 2 stud, kicking (WITHOUT flippers). Flop, flop, flop. See the wall grow closer. Flop, flop, flop. Marvel at the waves splashing against the edge. Flop, flop, contact.


Only 25 to go.

I looked down the lane, a quick glance. I wanted this to be over. I wanted to rip the 200 Butterfly apart, to complete this challenge of challenges.

I pushed off the wall, and flopped my way towards a complete 200 fly. It was ugly. It was raw. It didn’t always resemble fly. But I gave it my heart. I sacrificed my body, sacrificed my breath, and devoted myself to the 200 fly. About 15 yards from the end, I felt like I was going through honey, going through the stroke in slow motion.

FYI: I was so slow, that my dream-like sequence was more than likely a reality.

But it felt dream-like to me. Because I was so close to reaching my goal. So close to hitting the wall, hitting my end, achieving my goal.

10 yards. I saw my wake and cringed. I thought about the wave pool at Valleyfair that Mom took us kids too. The waves made similar motions to what I was producing on my very own. Big breath, more flopping.

5 yards. I could see Kathy, gasping on the side of the wall, and knew I was close.

I put my head down and flew forward with all of my might. With one final FLOP, I touched the wall. And then got out of the way for D who was right behind me.


Together, the three of us had prevailed.

Even though I was in serious amounts of pain, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. Now, I knew what the 200 fly was like. And I could understand why it was so tantalizing to my sister and to others. An incredible stroke, completed over a long distance that defied all odds.

There’s nothing “normal” about 200 Fly.

Just like there’s nothing “normal” about doing an Ironman.

But they are both challenges – opportunities – that I have set up for myself. I didn’t just jump into the pool on my very first day with the intention of doing 200 fly, just like I didn’t sign up for my very first race with the intention of competing an Ironman. They are challenges that I have sought out, goals that I want to fulfill.

Is it better knowing? Well, the jury is still out on that one.

All I can say is that after swimming the 200 Fly, I know I want to do it again. And I want to do it better. I know it’ll be difficult, I know it’ll be painful. It will probably even be comical to those observing on the deck.

But at least I’ll know. Because I’ll have challenged myself in the first place. I will have attempted to answer my own questions.

So to all my fellow swimmers, triathletes, and friends out there, good luck answering your own set of questions. Enjoy the journey, take time to laugh at yourself, and learn as much as you can while you’re at it.

I did.

So, fly on, my friends – fly on!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Weekend Recap




My date.










What do two, kidless people do for kicks at 6pm on a Sunday night? Well - they go to Panera Bread. Even though the fridge is full of good stuff. Even though there's plenty to eat in the house.

So we just went out.

In all seriousness - it was exactly how both Nathaniel and myself got through our work this weekend.

My wonderful husband, didn't even step outside AT ALL today. He sat in his green recliner (all day ALL DAY!) and studied for a possible 9 flights. Wow. I think his butt print is still imbeded in the recliner.

His focus for today - was to accomplish all of his flight prep before I finished my swim... and get to Panera Bread before they closed at 7.

For me, I had my run and then a swim to contend with. Nothing too complicated, but as I'm schwacked (as Nate likes to say...meaning very tired) from yesterday's awesome ride, my heart was willing but the body was weak. But I put my head down, reminded myself that this is what its like training for long-course triathlon - and did my work.

Of course - knowing that we had a hot date at Panera Bread was a great motivator...

And I guess that's my point. You don't NEED a whole lot of stuff to be happy, to be satisfied. The simple things: putting forth your best effort, working hard, and knowing that there's a fun treat afterwards - can make all the difference.

The best part of my weekend wasn't completing my workouts, zoning out in front of the tv, writing, or reading - rather it was spent in Panera Bread with Nathaniel. We joked, we made fun of each other, we laughed, we had a great time.

It was a great weekend, lots of work accomplished on both sides...

But by far the most wonderful - was the 45 minutes I spent with Nathaniel on our date.

Tabbitha was happy we enjoyed our date, as she finally had full control of the Green Recliner. Upon our arrival home - there she was, her big furry body, asleep in the chair.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Group "Fun"?

“Don’t make fun of me: I’m training for an Ironman!”

For the first 1:11 of my bike ride today, I rode with “The Group.” Each Saturday, The Group, which consists of 30-40 cyclists (give or take), leaves the Milton trailhead of the Blackwater Trail (behind Truly Spokin’) at 8:30 am sharp (7:00 am Summer time – escape the Florida Heat!).

When I first moved to Florida in September 2006, I had no idea where to bike. Most of my rides were confined to the trainer, or to the 7-mile loop at U of West Florida. It amazes me that I didn’t loose my mind from so much monotony…

After meeting Ludi in February 2007, I was invited to meet up with various local bike groups. It was biking on a stretch of Indian Ford Road, from the Blackwater State Forest turn off, until the road runs into Munson Highway that I rediscovered my love for biking. I had spent all winter (in Florida!) indoors on the trainer, convinced there was nowhere to ride, and nothing available to meet my biking needs. This wonderful 12-mile stretch convinced me otherwise, and I decided at that exact moment that I would bike outside at every opportunity.

My bike, I had decided, would become my new best friend (aside from Nathaniel and Tabbitha).

Steadily, with a good map, a lot of patience, and a good sense of humor, I began exploring the backcountry of Milton and parts of the Blackwater State Forest. The roads stretched onward, their promise never ending. It was all I could do to contain my excitement: I was giddy just about every time I discovered a new path. Peanut Farms, sandy white riverbeds, long leaf pine trees, and the reddish-clay dirt – all part of my Norwest Florida biking experience.

I suppose in one way, that it was through all my biking adventures - by getting lost, I found myself. And now, I feel pretty comfortable with the various roads and routs (although, that doesn’t mean that I won’t on occasion find myself hopelessly lost in Alabama…). When I bike through the Santa Rosa County countryside, I find my inner strength, my peace within.

Today dawned foggy, the sun struggling to break through until 11 am or so.

After breakfast #1 (oatmeal and coffee!) and breakfast #2 (vanilla ensure, peanut butter banana, dried cherries, and coffee!), I drove myself and my ton of gear to the trailhead. After picking up some necessary chamois cream and a few packs of Margarita Cliff Blocks (I will climb mountains for those things!), I was on my way.

The Group left promptly at 8:30, and within 2:00 minutes of the ride, I realized I had forgotten my salt/electrolyte tablets. Oh shit! Ludi told me to HURRY! – so I raced back to my car, tore through my gear for the electrolyte bottle, and then proceeded to destroy my neat piles of running/recovery gear in search of a plastic baggie.

Now I should tell you – I use little plastic baggies for everything. Swim workouts, storing my cell phone and ID cards, writing down Jen’s workouts, SALT tablets – they all have their own separate plastic baggie. Usually I pack 4 or 5 baggies, convinced that I’ll use them all. I never do – but I always like to be prepared.

Today, however, I couldn’t find a single flippin’ baggie. Great. Bloody Hell!

So after a few minutes of frantic searching, I decided to use a sock instead (it was clean). I turned it inside out (just in case), and proceeded to dump as many salt tablets into said sock that I though necessary for a 5-hour/90 mile ride. After re-locking the car, and stashing my salt-filled-sock somewhere within my bike jersey, I was off – chasing after The Group.

Luckily, it only took me 4.5 miles, as they were biking 12 mph compared to my 19.

And even if I hadn’t caught them, I knew they were planning on stopping at the end of the trailhead, 25 minutes or so in to the ride.

Here’s where things became interesting.

In the past, Ludi and I have usually gone off on our own. While we both truly enjoy the camaraderie of The Group, we feel they just stop way too much for our liking (or for our training). Stopping 2X per hour – sometimes less, sometimes more – isn’t something that is good for us AT THIS POINT! Sure, there are times in my season where I’ll draft off the back, crack jokes with the rest, surge up a hill, stop and wait, and go along with The Group.

But today was a little different.

I was forced to do my own thing, to stay within my own zones.

The Group decides to stop for 15 minutes? Too bad – you don’t stop in an Ironman.

The Group decides to surge up a hill and then pull back on the flats? Too bad – you stay within your heart rate, even if you’re biking at 10 mph.

The Group decides to draft off you and then complain that you’re not focusing enough on the road ahead (okay – so I missed one pot hole)? Too bad – I was trying to remove a salt tablet from my sock – and by the way, I just passed your sorry asses after you sprinted up a “hill” (hello – Florida!) and then died on the flats.

And that, my friends, is how my ride went.

Thankfully, like I said before, it was only for 1:11 of my 4:40:45 ride.

During the remainder of my solo-ride, in between grabbing salt tabs from socks, replacing bottles from my jersey pockets with empty bottles from my bikes, taking in my gels, snacking on the occasional Margarita Cliff Blocks, and avoiding steel-grate bridges (there are plenty!) I came up with a list about why – at this point in my training – I feel a bit of contention from The Group. For part of my ride (from 1:11 until 1:51) I got to ride with Ludi, and we discussed what happened during the first part.

So… here we go:

-Don’t make fun of me for carrying 10 gel packets on my bike or person during a ride: I am training for an Ironman.

-Don’t laugh at the 5 water bottles filled with Gatorade and water – as all together they add a good 15+ pounds to my bike, and hydration is essential. The extra weight I carry will make me stronger: I am training for an Ironman.

-Trying to “surge up a hill” and then not following through on the flat sections will get you nowhere, as I am determined to ride steady and strong, keeping my designated zones: I am training for an Ironman.

-When I say, “excuse me – trying to get through, I want to keep going,” while your butt is resting after 25 minutes, don’t roll your eyes. If I could stop every 25 minutes, I would love to. Trust me! But I can’t do this in a race: I am training for an Ironman.

-Don’t blame me for being a bad “pelaton leader”, as it was never my intention to lead the pelaton in the first place. Dude – I wasn’t even drafting off of you! You guys sucked my wheel as I passed you by. The only way I got to the front, was because I was steady during every climb, I pushed my bigger gears on the flats while staying in my proper zones, and I listened to my body and breathing. I have to: I am training for an Ironman.

-Don’t make fun of my 105-rpm cadence while I warm up. I am riding for 5 hours and I plan on running off my bike, and while you might be able to get away with 75 rpm for 1:30, my body can’t handle that. I am training for an Ironman.

-Don’t work your butt off to pass me, only to slow down miserably. It is obvious that you don’t like me being ahead. Heads up: this isn’t a race! YOU are making it out to be one, not I – my friend. I am just riding steady. Newsflash: I can’t “race” 5 hours, not yet. And neither, apparently can you – as you blew up spectacularly after a: 45-second effort. It was wonderful blowing you by: I am training for an Ironman.

-Just because I have my salt tablets stuffed into a sock, does not make me a bad person. I am creative. I am a problem solver. And I get the job done. At least I’m trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t. So maybe my odd combination of salt wasn’t the most effective today, but the sock was pretty great. I am training for an Ironman.

For the most part, bikers in The Group are great, and I have such a healthy respect for them and for our friendships. There are a few, however, that make me feel at odds, that I have to “race” every practice.

Well, I don’t. And I don’t plan on it. When I race, its on my terms – not during The Group ride, thank you very much!

Most of the people are great – and I have a great time with them. When I’m not training for something as serious as my first Ironman (and believe me, I’m nervous about it as is!), I’m all gung-ho. I don’t mind the stops, I think that surging up the hills are fun, and I am very careful about paying attention to the road ahead. I love being around other people – the friendships, their support, are all invaluable. I learn so much from many of these incredible athletes, as they all have amazing stories to tell.

But today was different.

I simply couldn’t afford to stop at every juncture, wasn’t interested in sprinting up the hills and then pulling back on the flats: I had a long way to go, and needed to focus on my ride. I didn’t want to waste my legs on a bit of posturing…

It was great training with Ludi, riding with her afterwards and venting off some of my frustration. Usually I’m not bothered, but today was different. Maybe it was all the tongue-in-cheek comments about my 5 water bottles (2 on the back of the bike, 1 in the cage on the down tube, and 2 in my back jersey pockets – LOVE biking jerseys!), or how I felt during one stretch of road. But, its over and done – you can’t undo spilled milk, can’t go back and change what has already happened.

Overall, my ride was great – and I cherished (nearly!) every moment of it all. And I will look forward to biking in The Group – as there are lots of great folks there whose company I truly enjoy.

But not next weekend – I have my Camp HTFU Ladies to look forward to. And I bet that I’ll be hoping that we stop every 25 minutes. Something leads me to believe that we won’t…

Friday, February 22, 2008

The 25 yard Hurt Box

Before I get going on my Tri Blogger Swim Challenge, I just wanted to give a great big GOOD LUCK to Liz at the Desert Classic Duathlon, Kellye on her 10K, and Beth on her 10-miler. Wow - you guys are hardcore! And to Ryan - IF you choose to race out in New Orleans this weekend, may your legs be swift and calm winds be at your back. Personally, I hope you show up at the Blackwater Trail at 8:30 am for tomorrow's ride... as I'm looking for some speedy (BIG) people to block the wind for me.

Hope that I got everyone who is racing, if not - so sorry! It was not me, rather it was all the chlorine from my swim challenge today... I'm still a little fuzzy and could swear earlier that the clock at the gym was moving backwards... But good luck to you as well!

And now for my Swim Challenge: 40 X 100!

Today dawned partially sunny, humid, and with the promise of thunderstorms in the air. Upon walking in to Running Wild (local run store), I could see the clouds piling up to our Southwest. After leaving the grocery store and hour later, the temperature was a heavy 82. The humidity was thick in the air, and dark clouds were rapidly amassing. No thunder, no lightning - just the promise of big storms in the not-too-distant future.

Driving home, I was downright worried about getting the entire 40 X 100 set in before the storm blew up. I was scheduled to meet Ludi at 1 pm, and figured after our usual chitchat, I would be in the car by 2:30 or so....

Please please please, oh weather gods, don't explode until 2:31!!! Please please please. I don't want my set to be interrupted, in spite of what I'll be thinking DURING the set. I just want to get everything done in the time allowed. Please please please don't break out the lightning until after I'm done. Better yet, wait until I'm in the relative safety of my car. Then you can Crash all you want... just please let me get in my swim.

Oddly enough, this was a new, rather pleasant feeling...

A year ago, I would have hoped that my swim get cancelled by thunder. Heck - four weeks ago (before the coaching change!) I would have looked for any excuse to not get to the pool. The workouts were boring, the same 10 repeated time and time again. It was stale, it was monotonous, and I wasn't assertive enough, didn't know enough to expect any different. So I just went along with it - hoping and praying that every time I went to swim, the pool would be closed.

Lifeguard on strike? A-Okay!

Pool chemicals out of whack? Not a problem!

Pool deck filled with Girl Scouts practicing their swimming qualifications? Be my guest - and you can complete MY swim while you're at it! Thanks!

But recently, between Jen's workouts and my Masters Practice, I've loved the pool. I don't mind waking up at 4:30 am to jump into the pool. Breath sets that make me pee? Ha - I'm there! Swimming - nay, swimming, biking, running, functional work - is fun again, and I feel like a different athlete. I'm learning new things about myself in the process, and growing leaps and bounds. It isn't always easy (today's swim a prime example), but even Nathaniel - who is flying, studying, reading, or preparing to fly - has noticed a complete change in me.

Over dinner, he made the following comment, "I think you're a little more tired from the volume of training, but it’s a good tired. You're not trashed from too much intensity. You're challenged and you're doing what you love in the way you love doing it. I have never seen you so happy about triathlon, happy in general..."

Aw shucks - what a great guy. And this was after my Monster Swim Challenge.

Long story short, after nearly crashing my car in anticipation of the workout (I was trying to get a parking space next to Ludi, and some idiot driver decided to park his van in the middle of the parking lot - stupid!), I met Ludi. After a quick stop to pick up water for her, we made our way on to the pool deck.

I wasted no time. Didn't poke my toe in the water. Didn't make endless trips between my gear and pool lane. Didn't obsessively adjust my goggles. After saying "farewell," to Ludi, I hoped in and completed my 200 warm up.



Its the warm up, silly! It's supposed to be. Sigh...

Before starting my 40 X 100, I had done some strategic thinking about how I wanted to arrange myself during the set. As I'm not the best lap-counter (ahem - small cough), and this was 40 X 100, I knew that counting would be the key.

Dude - if I'm going to swim 40 100s, I'm not going to inadvertently swim 41. OR 39 - now THAT would be a nightmare!

I quickly arranged my pull buoy, my two zoomer fins, and my two yellow paddles at the end of my lane. After each 100, I would simply move them individually in one direction, and then after hitting five, move them back the other way. I figured this would be pretty easy, as Jen had broken down my 40 X 100 into 4 X (10 X 100) on various rest intervals. As long as I had time to reset my watch (no pool clock from where I was) and move said item left or right, I would be good-to-go.


That sounds like a lot of work to do - okay on the 1:30 or higher.... but on the 1:25, 1:20, and dare I say on the 3 X 1:15... would this method seem reasonable?

Only time would tell.

Before I set out on my journey, Ludi mentioned that she would try to join me for a few of the sets, but she wanted to follow her workout as well.

"Girl, I am here for you, moral support - to be here when it gets tough. No worries - you can hit your splits. Just go! Don't worry about me, just do your times, and you will be awesome." She winked at me, gave me a big hug, and we were soon underway.

The first 10 X 100 felt decent. Not so bad.... I though while completing the fifth. I was swimming conservatively, not on a really fast rest interval, because Jen had organized my splits so that I gradually negative splitted the entire thing. Legs were a little tired, but overall things felt smooth. Now wasn't the time to bust out a 1:10 on the first 100. Or even the second.

In the battle of the tortoise and the hare, for this workout I was starting off as the tortoise, but rationalized that somewhere in the mix (probably in the last 1200 or so), I would have to transfigure myself in to the hare.

Perhaps Dumbledore could help...?

(Rest assured, he did).

After my 6th 100, I realized how utterly ridiculous my pull buoy-zoomer-paddle method was. Too much energy and time to think! I was forgetting which one I had moved, and it was way too much effort for something I should be able to do myself. So with the amazing mind-power I have, I decided then-and-there, at the 700, that I would keep track in my head, using my watch and Jen’s rest interval splits.

Before you fall out of your chair laughing... hear me out.

Jen had me mix up how many 100s I swam on a particular split (never more than 4). So as long as I could keep track of how many 1:25s, vs 1:30s I was swimming, I was pretty much set.

And you know what? It worked!

I encountered a little more pain during the 2nd set of 10 X 100, but it wasn't horrible. I kept rationalizing though - that the fast, hare-like stuff, wouldn’t come until the final 1200 or 1300 - just be patient. Legs still felt a little heavy, but after my 3 hour trainer ride yesterday, this wasn’t a big surprise.

And sure enough, at 2500, I began to experience Dumbledore. It was especially nasty when I inhaled a mouthful of chlorinated water instead of air, and proceeded to suck it all into my lungs. Luckily I had only 3 strokes to the side; otherwise I would have (literally) tossed my cookies in the pool.

Thank God I made it to the gutter (and that there were no witnesses!)

The Erin Baker's Breakfast Cooke - Pumpkin Spice flavor - which I SO LOVE, came up, chlorinated water and all. After a few coughs, I managed to catch my breath and finished the remaining 25 of the set. Needless to say, I didn't make my split time, but pushed off at the: 30 instead of the: 20 (close!)

I powered my way through the final 100s of the third set, came so close to hitting my 1:15 (made a 1:18), and then started in on my final 10 X 100.

Time to bite down, dig deep, HTFU, seek out Dumbledore, and nail this set!

My legs were burning and I could feel my arms, heavy and tense. Inwardly, I laughed at my innocent suggestion to Jen about assigning me 50 X 100 instead of the 40 X 100s. Part of me really wanted to do the additional 10 X 100, but the other part of me wondered if I could even hold my assigned splits for the final 10 of 40 X 100. I had no choice, except to swim.

No question, no fret, no worries - just swim.

But I was worried.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the deep purple and blue clouds, piling up against the SW sky. The clouds were furious, and the humidity hung low over the pool. At any moment, it appeared that the sky would release all of her fury: I just hoped she gave me 15 minutes to finish my work...

The first 3 of the set were at 1:30 - simple enough for me. I found myself relaxing, especially after my 1:15 effort, and soon found my groove. Even though I swam roughly the same splits for my 1:30 rest interval and 1:25 rest interval (1:20/1:21 each), my swimming felt so much more efficient, relaxed, steady during my 1:30. Not because I was going slower, but I wasn't so rushed or worried about the rest interval. I was calmer about making my split, and that sense of calm affected my stroke in a positive manner.


The final 5 were all on guts and glory. I was supposed to swim 3 at 1:20 and then conclude my 40 X 100 with 2 @ 1:15. The 1:20s were painful, with barely a second or two of rest, but the 1:15s were an all out suffer fest. My lower back felt stiff as I powered clumsily through the water. It felt as though Dumbledore was enjoying his ride, as I swam the exact same 1:19/1:18 but with such a greater effort.

My legs were dead - left somewhere on the other side. I had stopped feeling my arms around 3300. And my stomach was - truly - in the pool gutter.

But I finished. I didn't loose count. And I completed my challenge. Hooray!

It wasn't pretty, and it certainly wasn't easy - but I did it. I learned that I could hold 1:20-1:22 pretty consistently, regardless of the rest interval. Not as fast as the speedy-people out there, but a good start nonetheless. I learned that I still love Pumpkin Spice cookies, even though I lost them a few hours ago... And I found that having another person in your lane, cheering you on while you complete your challenge, can make all the difference in the world (thanks Ludi!)

More importantly, though - I learned that I love swimming and I love a challenge. For so long I've been doing the exact same thing, day in day out. Hard as they are, Jen and her workouts are simply amazing. Never have I walked into the pool and hoped that the thunder would hold out. Today was the first time since moving to Florida, that I hoped the storm would hold off – and to my relief, it did. Moreover, I was happy and excited while walking onto the pool deck.

Well – what do you know?

And I learned that its okay to not always hit my splits: that's why it’s called a challenge. If it was easy the first time, then what's the point? Now I have a goal to work towards: absolutely nail my 1:15s. And I can't wait! Rain or shine, count me in.

Here's to the Tri Blogger Swim Challenge (thank you Danielle!), discovering our new old selves, setting new goals, and almost hitting our splits.

And next time, well - you never know. I may just go for the 50 X 100...
Without thunder, of course.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Aaaahhh... Back in the Saddle

Right now, the windows are thrown open, the temperature in our bedroom is a steamy 81, and the rain is making the most beautiful "shushing" and "tapping" pattern on the sides of our windows. The perfect time to write a long blog about the beauty of yesterday's Lunar eclipse. I have given it a lot of though, have a few interesting things to say - but alas, don't have enough time to devote to the post to make it to MY liking.

You see...

Bree called me out, and commented in my last post: NO MORE LATE NIGHT BLOGGING!

And she's right.

I'm nocturnal, by nature. I "Burn the Midnight Oil," as my Dad likes to say. Staying up late, reading, writing, studying, watching mindless TV - are things I've always done.

But no more.

I am on strict, self-imposed orders to have the computer off by 10 pm, the lights out no later than 10:30 on non-Master's nights, and (gulp) lights out by 9:00 pm the night before Master's swim practice.


Because - as of now - I think I have averted major disaster. After Coach's orders to take the entire day off yesterday, and wallowing in my own misery, I decided that my trainig, recovery, and racing were too important to gamble with... And all for what? Watching "The Girls Next Door" or other reality show tv? Reading an extra chapter from my latest read? Writing a little longer?


So NO Lunar Blog tonight - that'll have to wait...

Today was much better, and even though I was a little more fatigued than usual, I managed to have a great 45 min run outside (IN the thunder, thank you very much! HA - only heard 3 thunderclaps, and managed to NOT wet myself. An impressive feat, given my track record) and did a sweaty 3 hour bike ride on the trainer.

I don't know what's worse: living in the freezing North, or living in the warm South but being forced to ride the trainer because of thunderstorms.

(If you haven't gotten the memo, I'm not a big fan of thunder!)

No - I take that back. Thunder is okay. The thought of getting zapped by lightning keeps me indoors. Yeah. If you've seen what I've seen, YOU would be of the same opinion.


3 hours on the trainer, and I still feel okay. Even better, I still love my coach. That, my friends, speaks volumes.

And now, I've got exactly 13 minutes to brush my teeth, take out the contacts, stack the dishes in the washer, and make sure everything in the house is locked down.

It's been a great day, and (fingers crossed, knock on wood), I think I'm over my hump. With that I'm off. You'll just have to stay tuned to my Lunar blog.

So much to do... so little time.

Then again, stacked dishes are overrated. I think I'll rebel a bit tonight and leave them out. Enjoy the rain, enjoy my book, and then settle myself to sleep.

Yep, the dishes will have to wait.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sleepy Lessons

In the house I sit
My undies twisted in fit.
Because I don't want to be sick.

My sore throat has gone away.
Thank heavans - today is my day...
In the house, I had to stay.

With all that being said.
No longer do I feel dead
Tomorrow I'll train and get ahead.


You know that feeling? That whisper of a sore throat that is kind of there, but you're not really sure... That happened to me last night. Alas, my 3 nights of 6 hours or less of sleep per night caught up to me. What does this mean?

Well, for starters - its my own bloody fault.

I know better, I need sleep!

More importantly, I need to listen to my body when it is CLEARLY sending me "warning" signals.

So when my alarm happily chirped away at 4:40 this morning, I could tell I was just off. While brushing my teeth, I thought that my pulse seemed a little high - but I nearly jumped through my skin after putting on my heart rate monitor and seeing the numbers read: 95, 98, 100, 103, 99.


Granted, the over 100 signal was probably my own flippin' reaction to seeing the numbers in the 90s, but for Pete's Sake! Geeze Louise!

Immediately, I nixed my Master's Swim, sent Coach Jen an email explaining my predicament, and jumped back into bed. The sheets were a little damp from my night sweats, but I was soon fast asleep.

Long story short, after speaking with Jen this morning - I was given a new assignment for the day: get as much rest as possible, take it easy, relax, do what I need to do, and we'll get back into it tomorrow. So, like the good pupil that I try to be, I did.

Can't remember much of what happened, as my body alternated between deciding if it should either be sick or be healthy.... but I only went outside once at 4 pm.

I was, however, a little stir-crazy...(Let's face it, Tabbitha can only keep my company for so long... she's not the greatest conversationalist, as the conversations tend to be one-sided. Like Courtenay and Greg talk to Charlie, I talk to Tabbitha. I SWEAR, she understands. Like when I tell her to attach Nate - she does! Perhaps she just likes attacking, though... hhhmmmm.)

I was VERY tempted to do some core work, or hop on my bike. Or just do something, anything, to take my mind off my not-so-sore throat. After watching a very helpful swim technique video on UTube (emailed by said Coach), I shot an email back and asked if I could practice with the chords. I was bored - cooped up. I had SO wanted to swim and was really looking forward to my long ride up in Milton, past the Peanut Farms and woods of the Blackwater Forest (the weather was not stormy, like what is predicted for tomorrow...)

"NOT TODAY SPARKY" was her reply.

She replied about 2 minutes after I sent my plea. She just knew.

Great. So again, being the diligent pupil I am, I remained seated with my chords in the closet. Big sigh.

But, it forced me to think about what I learned, why I was stuck inside (and missing my swim and bike...) Because up to this point, I MADE THE CHOICE TO NOT LISTEN TO MY BODY AND NOT GET ENOUGH SLEEP! No one forced me to stay up late, when I knew I needed to get up early the next day - I, my friends, did that all on my own.

Bloddy Hell, I know better!

But, the news isn't all bad...

I also learned something new....

I'm becoming a better athlete - because I AM beginning to recognize some of the signs that my body puts out. Very rarely do I take my morning heart rate - but today, I felt that something was off, and I did. Additionally, in the past, IF I skipped a workout session or pushed it off - I NEVER told my old coach about it. I just never felt that I could - so I would ALWAYS make up work on my own. And as a result - I would get (more) sick or injured.

Today was a big change for me: I admitted that I wasn't at 100%, made a decision, stuck with it, told my Coach, and followed her plan.

In the world of Marit - a person who likes to go "all guns blazing, full stop, break-neck speed, at 220%" this was HUGE!

So sure, it sucked having to miss my workouts. But its a lot better for me in the long term. And, I reasoned, it's not like I was deliberately trying to get out of my workouts... I know enough to know the difference. I learned that I DO recognize when I'm feeling bad AND that I take the initiative to do something about it, rather than pretend that everything will be okay.


So instead, I watched some mindless TV, read from a few different books, anwered my emails, snuggled up to Tabbitha, drank a heckuva lot of tea, ate a chocoalte truffle (or two), and took it easy. Guilt-free recovery, in my book.

And next time, I've learned to recognize my signals before I hit this point. Get enough sleep, listen when your body is tired, applaud what you've accomplished, but recognize that part of being human is needing time to sleep and to recover.

Cheers! To healthy and happy training. AND my new day tomorrow - I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the minute you’re alone and do something you typically wouldn’t do, droves upon seemingly droves of people show up. And they look at you (but pretend to NOT look, but they can’t help it, because you look very different from them). And then there you are, left to your own devices, embarrassed out of your mind because you’re doing something that you don’t normally do. But you have to pretend that this is “normal” for you, because why would you be doing it in the first place – right? So you have to pretend that this is normal behavior, otherwise returning to how everyone else is behaving would completely show everyone that what you’re doing at the present is really something that you would never do in the presence of others.

Are you following me?

Good. Because I was caught doing something that I don’t normally do.

And unfortunately, this happened to me today.

Sigh. This needs some explaining.

This afternoon I headed over to one of two fitness centers located in the apartment complex where we live. It’s nothing to write home about, however it has all the devices, weights, mats, and contraptions that I need to accomplish my functional strength work (Can’t have functional strength without “fun” now – can we?).

I really enjoy my new functional strength routine. For the past year or so, I’ve been lifting the same weights, doing the same old same old same old 3 X 20. Same old (did I say that?). Except on taper or testing weeks, then (big pause….) I got to lift 3 X 15.

Twice. (Always Monday and Friday – except for race weeks, then it was only Monday)


But I love my new functional program. I get to use a wide variety of weights, bust out the bands, work on some balance, and use (even better!) tri-specific muscles. Alas, no longer will I have the upper body of a shot putter. Well, that’s my hope anyways. (Give it a few weeks and I’ll start to notice a difference!).

And dare I say it – I can already fell the difference….

Wonder of wonders!

Or perhaps its all the IM, swim stroke drills, and oodles upon oodles of butterfly that I’m swimming (well – not exactly swimming/flying… butterflopping right now, but I’m sure that one of these days my new stroke will come along just beautifully. In the meantime, I’ll work my tail off and flop down the pool to the best of my ability!). Regardless of this, my back and shoulders and even my core – have all begun to look a little different.

Lest I say, they’re actually becoming a little more defined??? (said very quietly, so no one will hear).

For the first half of my gym session, there was one other individual at the gym with me. Up to my usual antics, I nearly killed myself trying to lower the bench from the shoulder press position to the bench press position (admittedly, I’m not that good with numerical descriptions, but I’ll give it a go: lower the bench from a 90 degree angle to a 180. Cappish? Good).

After successfully (or so I though) lowering the darned thing, I eagerly put my body weight on one side, my 25-pound dumbbell in tow – all in attempt to begin my bent-over rows. The minute – the exact second – my knee with ALL my weight hit the bench, the effing thing made a creaking noise, and suddenly dropped about 6 inches.

I let out a “Whoop!” and then turned bright red. My voice resonated loudly against the mirrored walls. Thank goodness my bladder was empty!

My male companion nearly fell out of his seat laughing, and then promptly offered to fix it for me. (What a Gentleman!) I was mortified, but tried to make some lame joke. (Never was very good with the comebacks….)

I was still beet red when he left a few minutes later.

But finally, I was alone. Aaaahhhhh. If I tripped over a dumbbell, there would be no witnesses. Then again, stuff like that never happens to me when no one is around. Only when the room is occupied by others do I make an idiot out of myself.

I had just completed my planks, and was feeling really great about my workout. Terrifying-collapsing-bench aside, I was doing a-okay. I could see my reflection in the floor-to-ceiling mirrors on 3 of the 4 walls, and I thought I looked pretty darned spiffy (who doesn’t in old running shoes, shorts, and a new marathon shirt? Ha!).

I picked up my weights in attempt to start my lateral raises, and then it hit me.

A very un-Marit-like idea.

Something I have done only once in my life. (Last summer, it was 95 degrees with 85 percent humidity….)

Something I never do.

Something that when my coach suggested I do it for last weekend’s race, I secretly blanched.

You see…

While my back may be toned, have the upper body of a football/shot putter, and legs of a runner, I have never had really great abs. They just don’t run in my family. Genetically, I didn’t get the “great ab” genes. Big Sigh. Try as hard as I might, my core resembles Santa’s “bowl full of jelly” more than that of an elite athlete. I never never NEVER run without a shirt on – because I don’t have the confidence. Perhaps its because I used to weight a lot more, was heavier while growing up. Maybe I’ve always been hyper-aware of my “tummy” flab (that Nate claims to love).

When Jen suggested that I race in just a sports bra, I nearly bust a gut laughing (but kept it in). Even though my stomach isn’t all that bad now, I’m still a bit sensitive about it.

But my confidence is growing….

So today (BIG BREATH), when totally alone, in the middle of the early afternoon (when most normal people are at work), in Gym #2 of our apartment complex, I looked at my reflection in the mirror, and thought it would be kinda neat to see my back muscles reflected in the mirror across the room.

I have never EVER EVER done this before, but figured it would be interesting to see how the muscles move, how they look, AND I could actually check my form and posture under my three-sizes-too-large race shirt.

Big mistake.

Exactly 5 seconds after taking off my shirt and re-starting my lateral raises, 2 people walked in to the gym.


They were evidently a couple, as they had been happily chattering away as they entered the room. Upon seeing my figure, huffing and puffing away in the corner, wearing ONLY a sports bra and running shorts, all conversation ceased.



Zip Zero Zilch.

They looked. They stared. And then they saw me looking at them, and quickly looked away.

I was absolutely mortified. But, like the “good athlete” I am, I finished my lateral raises.

I slowly walked my weights to the corner rack, sucking in my stomach, doing my best to keep my abs taunt and tight… and then the following thoughts raced through my mind:


Thankfully, everything was internalized. Except my face was very red.

I bent over; pretend to look at my functional strength workout sheet. I made a few scribbles next to the numbers, but was really only stalling for time. My mind raced, as I contemplated the various option.

I could:

1) Put my shirt back on. But that would show my two new friends that I was self-conscious about myself in the first place, and the stubborn part of me didn’t want to give in.
2) Put my shirt back on and apologize profusely, explaining that it was really “warm” in the room, and that this wasn’t “normal” behavior on my part
3) Admit that my stomach was not as great as my back, crack a few jokes, and throw on my shirt.
4) Run out of the room in shame, throwing on my shirt in the process
5) Pretend like this was “normal” for me – can’t you tell, I do this ALL the time? I’m a triathlete, yeah. So there! I do this because I’m hard core and training for my first Ironman… If you’ve got a problem with it, you can leave!

Unfortunately for them (and me) – I choose option #5. And they didn’t leave.

So there I was, for another 15 minutes (squat jumps and all! ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod) stuck at the gym without my shirt on. I know I was being stubborn, but I was too embarrassed to reach for my top. So I pretended that everything was fine, that this was normal. And perhaps (but I’ll never be sure) – perhaps they bought it. I kept going back to the episode of Seinfeld where George lied to his dead fiancée’s parents about owning a house in the Hamptons...

(Spoiler Alert: They called him on it, and he decided to drive them out to the Hamptons to see his (imaginary) house. Both sides knew that he was lying about it, but none decided to call the other’s bluff. The dead fiancée’s parents didn’t like George, and knew full well that he didn’t own a house. Yet he was intent on pretending that he did all the way up to the very end after he drove them up TO the Hamptons, and they admitted that they knew he didn’t own a Hampton Home. Are ya still with me?)

Very funny.

I kept waiting for my two new friends to call me out. Call my bluff.

But they never did.

And the more I worked out, the more I got used to myself lifting weights in the warm room wearing only a sports bra, and the easier it seemed. In all reality, I didn’t look that bad – and honestly, I’ve always been my own worst critic, being able to pick out every flaw, every error.

It was actually quite, er, liberating…

But I still put my shirt back on before I hopped on the elliptical for my cool down.

Today, I learned something knew. I learned what it’s like to face one of my deepest fears, my own uncertainty, and prevail through. Working out in just a sports bra was pretty darned neat. Would I do it again? – Perhaps… I’ll have to wait and see.

You never know when the mood will hit.

After all, summertime in Pensacola gets really hot, unbearable, and ugly. The temp is well above 80 and dew points are nearly as high before 6 am. So if you see me at some point this summer, minus a tee shirt, wearing a big grin and colorful sports bra, and running to my heart’s content, be happy for me. I’m facing my fear and pressing on. And I hope you do the same too, whatever those fears may be.

Now sharks… Sharks and open water are a different matter all together…

Monday, February 18, 2008

Race Report: Pensacola 1/2 Marathon

First: thanks to everyone for all of your wonderful comments – I read them all and truly enjoy. BIG thanks!

Second: I wanted to give a big shout-out to everyone who raced, participated in the Tri-Bloggers Swim Challenge, and did mega-amounts of work last weekend. You guys are MY inspiration, and you all ROCK! Don’t think that you know this (how could you, because I’m only writing about it now), but on the back of my race number, I like to write inspirational thoughts, quotes, names, times, etc. Just something for me to draw strength from during the race: If I can carry a little of Bree Wee’s speed with me for 13.1 miles, I’m bound to succeed, right?

Yesterday one of the many things I wrote on the back of my number was “blogger friends” – so thanks to all for your strength and support. You were (literally) with me every step of the way.

Without all the pain and discomfort, of course.

Third: Most of you have already perused through the Race Quips (good, bad, ugly!) part, so you basically know what happened. This being said – I’m still writing a race report – just because I want to. Ha! AND, it’s good for me to recap in my own voice. This time, I’m going for first person present. Read on! (Like a lot of the stuff I write, its long… beware. But it’s true, it’s me, and it’s an honest reflection of the things that went through my mind during the race.)

Please enjoy (did I just quote Morimoto from “Iron Chef”)?

(Man, I could really go for some sushi…) AGAIN!

Pensacola Half Marathon Race Report:

My alarm goes off, loudly at 3:30. Bloody Hell – it’s effing early. I jump out of bed, make my oatmeal, eat as fast as I can and try to go back to bed, but have a hard time falling asleep. I finally drift off and again awake around 5:05. Nate wakes up 15 minutes later and give me a great big hug. I hand him his coffee and we’re out of the house by 5:35 or so.

I am nervous and excited, and I fiddle with my race number and chip in the car – finally getting everything in order as we arrive at the race site. We park and I jump out to do my 15-minute warm up. About 2 minutes into my run, I run into fellow blogger Ryan and his family. After a few minutes I press on, finding my rhythm and stride through the dark streets of the old quarter of Pensacola. I pass a house and see a middle aged man sitting at his dining room table, reading the paper and enjoying an early breakfast. The scene is so surreal: while I am nervous and running, other people and getting up and doing every day thing.

I try to make a quick trip to the Port-o-Potties, but am amazed at the LONG line for the bathrooms. Immediately, I turn to Plan B and look for a bush. Or large house. Or anything to block the world’s view from my rear end (they’ve already seen it once, I didn’t want to do it again!) My bladder was quite full, as I had been sipping on water al morning. I saw a lot of guys heading up and alley – but no bushes in sight. Plan C: just go. So I did. Sorry – it’s totally gross, and I felt really weird doing it, but figured it was clear anyway. I had been drinking so much water that it was bound to be clear. If Bear Grylls (Man vs Wild) can drink his own pee, than I can certainly pee on myself before a race start once. Or twice. Dude – if you gotta go, then you gotta go. And it made all the difference.

I return to the car, grab my gels, extra water (rinse my legs), and Nate and I make our way to the start. In the grass next to the start line, again I see Ryan and his family. His daughter is so cute, ready to complete her marathon, while his wife is so supportive of the both of them. After exchanging a few pleasantries and commenting about all the pelicans flying inland away from the storm, I set out to do my pre-race strides.

I’ve never done strides before, and feel self conscious, like I shouldn’t bother doing them. Only really fast people do strides: it was just yesterday that I learned about tempo trainers (mid-weight shoes that you wear during tempo runs and longer races… lighter than regular running shoes, but offer more support than racing flats) – and I feel odd running off the line with the “fast” people. I notice a few really fast local guys and see Jennifer McGranahan – the local female running guru. Jennifer and I exchange pleasantries and I wish her a great race.

After kissing Nathaniel good-bye, I line up at the start. The wind whips up along the bay front, and the clouds race overhead. The temperature is muggy and warm: 71 degrees with humidity ranging from 90-95%. The only reason there wasn’t fog was due to the 20 mph SE winds. But I was determined to not let it bother me, and in fact had planned on throwing in a surge during the 2.5-mile long stretch along I-110 that faced directly into the wind.

The crowd pressed in around me, and I tried to jockey for a better position. I didn’t want to seed myself at the very front – fearful that I was setting myself up for failure by not meeting my own expectations. I simply wanted to go out, run my own race, and break 1:30. I could feel the body heat from other people, and soon enough we had our :30 countdown.

The gun goes off, and I start off. Immediately I kick myself in the rear for not placing myself further up towards the start. I am forced to dodge people left and right for a minute or two. But after 1/3 of a mile, the crowd really thins out and I find my stride. I notice Jennifer shooting off way in front of me, and figure that I’ll chat to her after the race. I notice another girl next to me and she matches me stride-for-stride. I take a peek at her number and see that she’s running the full marathon – so no worries. After another ½ mile, she’s not next to me, and I can only see about two or three-dozen people in front of me.

I pass the first mile and see that I’ve just run a 6:23. Too fast – so I immediately back off my pace. I am afraid of blowing up at the mid-way mark, even though my Coach says this is impossible. I have the endurance. I feel fine, but I decide to run conservatively for the first 5k, assess how I feel, do the same for the next 5k, and then light it up in the second half.

I pass mile 2 around 13:00 and feel better about my pace. I figure that it’ll vary – but as long as I can run sub 1:30 OR run to the best of my ability, I’ll be okay. As I’m running, I try to chat with some people. Some are receptive, others not-so much. Some sound miserable, while others are just cruising along. I note the variety, but am still doing my own race.

I crest a small hill before turning onto Scenic Highway and I think about last year – when I ran the full Marathon. Everything seems so much faster now – not just the pace of my run today, but my life in general. Much more excitement with triathlon and racing, and I am so happy to be here, at this exact moment in time. I am happy and I can’t think of anything else that I would rather be doing on a beautiful (albeit windy) Sunday morning.

The wind is on my back along Scenic Highway, and the crowds have really thinned out. Cars are passing, honking their horns and blasting their stereos, and I wave a few time and give a few thumbs up. It’s awesome that people are out here, cheering us on. I see a wheelchair athlete, accompanied by a mountain biker, and I draw strength from him as he’s rolling along. I pass him, exchange a few pleasantries and run along. I feel as though I’m flying and just hope that I can hang on to this feeling as long as possible. I feel free, I feel fast, I feel like this is my time to run.

Ahead in the road, I spot an orange cone, knocked over and lying on its side. Two runners pass it without stopping, and I think about the PC athlete a few seconds behind me. I speed up, bend over and try to throw the heavy cone into the grass out of the way. I hear someone yelling that they’ll do it, but I didn’t listen. I didn’t want the PC athlete to veer into traffic – and it seemed the right thing to do. It took all of a few seconds, and he would do the same for me if the rolls were reversed.

I quickly regain my stride and look ahead. I see Jennifer and a group of about 4 or 5 runners about :30 - :40 up, and I think that after 4 miles, I’m not that far behind. That’s only :10 per mile difference. I figure that she’ll light it up in the second half. I see Nathaniel shortly after the half marathon turn off – where the full marathon and half separate. After making the left-handed turn and grabbing two cups of water, I am truly on my own. I can here a few people pounding the pavement behind me, but not too close. I can see the pack of 4 or 5 up ahead, and I vow that I will keep attached to them as long as I can. I see an invisible string – pulling me along, keeping me connected. As long as I don’t break contact.

I know there’s another water station around mile 6 or 7, and I figure that’s when I’ll take my first gel. My stomach is a little upset now – just from not taking a crap before the race (ggggrrrrr), and I figure if I just relax everything will be okay. And if I have to pull over and use a bathroom, that’ll be okay too – just part of the experience. I can still see my group of 5, and shortly pass Nathaniel who yells encouraging words at me, and says that the gap is staying the same. I respond that there’s NO WAY I can catch Jennifer, and I truly don’t think I’ll be able to. So I just keep running.

I pass another aid station, thank as many volunteers as I can, try to throw my water cups into the trash bin and miss horribly, and am on my way. I see a few of my Master’s Swim buddies volunteering and one guy yells that he’s looking forward to seeing me at Master’s the next morning. I yell something back and keep going.

My pace is feeling great, and I am surprised by my perceived exertion. I am averaging between 6:35 and 6:45 per mile, and feel great. I keep waiting for it to get really really hard, but remind myself to be patient – that I will be really happy that I played it safe around mile 9. As I’m not wearing a heart rate monitor, I have no way of judging my body’s effort.

But I do….

I listen to my breath, I listen to my feet, I focus on my posture, and don’t check my watch every minute to get my hr data. Every mile I’ll check my split, but I often forget where I was at during the previous mile, and try rounding up to the nearest :30 or :60. I know that I’m going fast, and my body feels calm. My legs feel refreshed and I can’t believe that I rode 100+ miles the previous weekend, and had a solid week of training. I kept my posture in check and felt myself fly along the road.

On 12th Street, I hit a big downhill and then a sharp, but quick uphill. I lean into the hill, take baby steps, and practically laugh out loud as I think about Dumbledore. There are people at the top of the hill, cheering, and one yells that Jennifer is just a little bit ahead – less than a minute. It seems that everyone knows Jen, is cheering for her. And I am quick to jump on the wagon. I know, I reply – but she’s so fast. I’ll be lucky if I can finish in the same ballpark as her! The woman smiles and nods, and I feel a little peeved. Everyone just assumed that Jen would win – myself included. But why?

12th avenue is beautiful, and I am amazed at how the Spanish Moss and Live Oaks cover the road in a twisting and green canopy. It provides the perfect wind tunnel for the 20 mph wind, and I lean forward and feel as though I’m still going up a hill. There’s a runner right ahead of me – the first from Jennifer’s group to drop back. There were 5, and as I pass him, I think to myself – “1 down, 4 to go!”

We take a right and are briefly out of the wind. I see Nathaniel again, and he yells that the group is still :40 up ahead and that I need to close the gap – that I CAN do it. I fly past the 9 mile mark, and figure that I’ve got 4 miles left. I am right around 1 hour and 10 seconds, or 1 hour 1 minute – I’m in my zone and can’t remember. My splits are all running together, so I stop worrying about time. I think that if I can just hold 7 minute miles, I’ll go under 1:28. And then I remind myself of the .1 mile extra, and think suddenly that going 1:27 or 1:26 would be possible. Every time I think about slowing down, about not fighting my way up to Jen and her group, I think about my poem that I wrote and I think about Elizabeth’s wizard. My wizard. I know that the doubt, the questions – are all Dumbledore trying to jump on my back. I won’t let him get the best of me, and decided I will power my way through the 2.5 miles into the SE headwind.

The temperatures are still warm, but my stomach is okay. The gel that I took in around mile 7 is sitting well, and I don’t think I’ll need another. I hit the bridge just before the turn at the 10-mile mark, and Nathaniel drives by me – cheering and yelling that they’re RIGHT THERE! He honks the horn and I know I’ll see him at the finish or at the turn at Palafox.

I see Jennifer and her group of 4 hit the turn, and guesstimate myself to be :40 back or so – and my time to reach the turn confirms this. The wind hits me – and I decide that the wind is my new best friend. The wind will not hold me back, and I know all the power sets in zone 3 that Coach Jen has me do are making my legs stronger, more powerful. I am strong and I am meant to run into the wind like this. I will not get blown away. Up ahead, I see the first casualty from Jen’s group self-implode.

I pass him quickly, and note his ipod and headphones. That makes me angry – and I can’t explain it. Perhaps because running (to me) is about listening to myself, finding myself – and using music seems to keep me out of touch with my body. There is a time and place for an ipod – and a race simply isn’t one of them. Plus, the race organizers work really hard to make sure that people are safe, and wearing an ipod when there’s traffic, other competitors, and volunteers all around doesn’t seem like a very good thing to do. He tries to stay on my shoulder for a bit, but I am not interesting in towing someone else along. I throw in a bit of a surge, and his footsteps quickly fall away.

I have no idea where I’m at course wise. I think that I’ve passed the 11-mile mark, but am unsure. I’m no longer looking at my watch: instead, my eyes are boring a hole into the backs of Jennifer and her 3 remaining companions. They are getting closer with each step – agonizingly close. I know that I will catch them – I just know it. But it’s only a matter of time. The wind is my new best friend, and I feel myself laughing in her face, challenging her to blow stronger. Jen and her 2 remaining companions are working together, taking turns pulling into the wind: but I am alone, exposed. And that’s exactly where I draw my strength form. I think of Peter Reid and Chrissie Wellington wearing all black in Kona – drawing inspiration and energy from the Sun, laughing in the face of reason. And I understand what they did, because I’m doing the same with my 20 mph wind.

I see the steeples and monuments of downtown Pensacola, and I crest the hill at the top of the city. All downhill from here. There’s probably 15 seconds or less separating me from Jen’s group, and I can hear the crowd cheering for her and for her 3 companions. Just before I hit the right turn onto Cervantes Street I see a guy who works for Running Wild looking at me and making a note of my number. I don’t think that he sees it though, but I don’t care. I have exactly 1.1 miles left of the race and I want to see how fast I can run and how much time between Jen and myself I can put. The course loops out and back, so everyone who is cheering for us now, will see us one final time before we take our final right turn onto Palafox and run the three and a half blocks to the finish line.

I can hear people cheering for Jen, see the aid station explode with yells for her. I am on her heels now, and I hope that the race is just a tad longer so I can make sure to separate myself from her as much as possible.

I fly past one of her companions, and now it is only she and Mark Sortino – a local triathlete that I recognize. Three down, two to go. I make it my mission to up my pace and pass them both by the end. We hit the U-Turn and head for the final homestretch. I come up to Jen’s shoulder – I know that she’s having a tough race, as her breathing is quick and labored. I try to offer a few words of encouragement, but I have no idea how they come out. Because she is a pure runner, I am terrified that she’ll put on a kick and stay on my shoulder, and the run will turn into a sprint for the finish. I wanted to avoid this at all costs, so I tried to throw in as much of a surge as I could when I passed her.

I didn’t hear her breathing, but was too afraid to look back and see if she was trailing. I tried to catch a glimpse of our reflections in store windows, but to no avail. Mark was just ahead and I caught him just after the turn onto Palafox. If I wasn’t working my hardest in the first 9 miles, taking it easy, I was sure feeling it now. I had just blown by 4 of the 5 people I had set my sights on, and wondered what could I have done if I had run harder in the beginning. I flew past shops and the cheering crowds, and quickly rationalized that I would not have been able to negative split and have the incredible power on the 2.5 mile hellish headwind stretch had I gone out all guns blazing. 2 blocks to go. Mark turned around and looked at me, and made some kind of motivational comment. I don’t remember if I responded, I just shifted into an extra gear, fearful that Jen was right behind me, hot on my heels. She has out sprinted many a faster runner in the past, and it was all I could do to keep her off me.

I saw the Subway sign that indicated the final 50 meters and made the left-handed turn. Upon turning, I was greeted by a cheering crowd, and was dimly aware of the announcer saying my name. I could see a lot of cameras at the finish, but didn’t want to slow down and enjoy the moment. I tried to give a half smile at the finish and raise my arms up, but I was as surprised as nearly everyone in the crowd. I powered across and then nearly doubled over. Mark finished 7 or 8 seconds after me, and we hugged each other. I was pretty emotional, as I had spent nearly the entire race trying to either justify myself being: 40 behind his group or trying to catch his group. I had only picked off the final person with less than 300 meters to go.

I waited and 30 seconds later, Jen came across. I think I yelled for her just before she crossed, but can’t really remember. I gave her a hug and could tell she was tired. I felt so awful for her – knew how hard she had worked, and felt guilty. I had wanted her to go out and run her 1:22 or 1:21. I knew she was capable of it, and felt badly about passing her at the end. This is something that I know I need to work on – I can still be supportive of my friends and fellow athletes, but I also need to respect myself enough to not feel bad about this. I am still working on this… If I was having a bad race and someone passed me, I wouldn’t want THEM to feel bad, to slow down. This is part of the sport.

Jen was okay and after hugging again, I soon found Nathaniel. I tried to thank as many volunteers as possible, but wanted to keep walking around. My legs felt surprisingly okay – not trashed like they did after Timberlake ½ marathon. I wondered if I had really worked hard enough in the beginning, and chalked it up to inexperience. I’m still learning a lot – and this is only my 5th half marathon ever (without a bike and a swim before it), so the learning curve is still pretty steep.

Overall, I was happy with my race – happy with my mental strength during the windy backstretch, happy with my time. I really enjoyed watching Donna and fellow Pensacola residents/friends finish. The heat and humidity didn’t seem to affect me too much, and I feel that I’m adapting to Florida’s heat (sort of). I took in my recovery drink (YUCK! – and thought about Beth’s Thumbprint cookies) and then had a block of Margarita Cliff blocks. Very tasty – and I enjoyed the salt.

It was a great training run, and the first time I feel that I’ve been in control of myself during a race. And it was done without my heart rate monitor. I was pretty nervous about not having it at the start, but found that I really preferred listening to my body, rather than worrying about the numbers on a screen. I guess my heart rate monitor is to me, what an ipod is to a lot of others. Got it. I’ll be less judgmental in the future! We all have what works, what doesn’t, and what we simply need to get through. That’s life, I guess.

And next time, I’ll use tempo trainers and see how much faster I can go…

To everyone who ran the race: GREAT JOB! Thank you to the organizers, Running Wild, ALL the FANTASTIC volunteers, the Marines who manned the intersection (BIG Ooh-Rah!), and the friends and families of all the runners.

Doing a race like this takes a lot of effort – and not just on the part of the runner. It’s easy to forget that while we’re racing. But I am so grateful to everyone who cheered, who handed out water, who cleaned up afterwards… these events would not be possible without you.

Here are my stats:
Overall time – 1:27:20.
1st place female, 7th place overall.

Post race – shower, food, nap, food, tv, read, SUSHI. Enjoyed sashimi (just the fish, no rice), some nigiri (fish + rice), a cucumber salad, edemame (boiled soybeans), and my FAVORITE ROLL IN THE ENTIRE WORLD: The Cambodian Roll. Have no idea what’s in it, but its delicious. Danielle – if you ever make it to Pensacola, we’re going out. My treat. Every day is a good day to eat sushi!

Thanks for reading – sorry if this was so long. I just get “into” it.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Good, Bad, Ugly... Race Quips

Howdy folks! My Pensacola 1/2 Marathon Race Report will be finished tomorrow. Understandably, I've been in a bit of a funk today - first with the race, then with the weather (thunderstorms and tornados again!), and finally I'm feeling the affects of Sushi Overload (nothing gets me going like Cambodian Rolls - said with smile on my face and eyes slightly out of focus.... mmmmmm). And besides - I've got my 0530 Master's Swim tomorrow. Bright and early! Hurrah!

So here are a few quips from my race today - enjoy!

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly... Pensacola Half-Marathon.

The Good: Seeing Nathaniel's smiling face this morning
The Bad: It was 5:15 am when I saw his smiling face (early!)
The Ugly: I had been up since 3:30 - eating my breakfast of oatmeal and too excited to sleep.

The Good: Running around before the start, seeing good friends (Ryan, Ryan's family, Jennifer, Jennifter's Mom, and several other folks I know through biking/swimming/running but couldn't quite recognize... remember - I'm awful with names!). And then seeing more friends at the finish - Donna, Mark, and a few others.
The Bad: Seeing a sky full of dark, racing clouds.
The Ugly: Watching the Pelicans fly as fast and as far away from the storm as possible. I have never seen as many Pelicans flying NorthEast at any other time in my life. Yes - the weather would turn ugly... (but later!)

The Good: I was able to pee twice before the race start
The Bad: It wasn't in a porta potty or in the woods (yuck)
The Ugly: The line for the Port-O-John. Eeeeek! What's a hydrated-girl to do?

The Good: Feeling as though I was flying through parts of the course
The Bad: Hitting a hill and feeling my pace drop. A lot.
The Ugly: Knowing that I could have gone faster, had I used tempo trainers or race flats. Apparently - people do this (my coach just about fell off her chair when I asked her to tell me what tempo trainers were for - great!). For all this time, I've been using my regular training shoes to race in... yeah don't make too much fun of me. Remember, it was only recently that I started biking without underwear.

The Good: I get to get more shoes! Yeah!
The Bad: Buying more shoes.
The Ugly: Wondering how much of a difference this would have made in season's past.

The Good: The tremendous volunteers and race support
The Bad: Not enough people saying "thank you" as we passed them by
The Ugly: All the cups and crap they cleaned up afterwards - they do such an incredible job and these races would not be able to happen if it weren't for volunteers.

The Good: Dumbledore
The Bad: Dumbledore
The Ugly: Dumbledore

The Good: Relaxing for the first 5K, 10K, and then assessing how I feel
The Bad: The wondering of "am I working hard enough."
The Ugly: When I realized that "yes, I have been working hard enough!"

The Good: Hearing Nathaniel's wonderful voice on the course, cheering for me and giving me the time between me and the pack of people in front of me.
The Bad: I ran the entire way practically in no-mans land - There was a group of 3-4 about :40-:60 ahead that I could see the entire time, but couldn't catch. (Until the final 1 mile.)
The Ugly: Passing the first place female, Jennifer (an incredibly sweet, shy, fast, nice, awesome runner/person) with about 1/2 mile left and knowing that I was doing so partly because she was having a tough race. She is incredibly fast, and a few days ago she mentioned that she was going to try to run 1:22 or so... When I passed her, I could tell she was suffering. I hate seeing people have a bad race, giving it their all, but just not having a good day. It's painful - as I want everyone to accomplish their goals, to succeed if they can. Passing her was bittersweet. I didn't care about place, and I was only running for time, running my own race. But I know how awful it feels to get passed towards the end, after you've poured your heart and soul into something - and my heart went out to her as I went by.

The Good: The wind (it was my friend. All the power sets I've done on my long rides - a few minutes here, a few minutes there - have really made a difference in these two weeks. I feel so much stronger.) Today, the 20 mph SE wind (constant!) was my friend.
The Bad: The wind (for everyone else). A LOT of people were complaining about it afterwards.
The Ugly: The tornados that swept through after the wind. Luckily the race was over with - but the front was passing through during our race. Nice.

The Good: Subway Cookie after the race
The Bad: Nearly choking on my water while scarfing down my cookie.
The Ugly: There were witnesses

The Good: Overcoming the mental demons that crop up during every race - wondering if I should pick up the pace during the 2.5 mile stretch between miles 9.5-12, while running directly into the fierce headwind. I did, and closed the :40 gap on the group in front of me.
The Bad: The constant wondering of whether or not I could make it to the group (I did eventually - and passed them all by the end)
The Ugly: The spit on my face that I couldn't get off during this stretc. I kept trying to wipe it away, but was so focused... it just stayed there.

The Good: It didn't rain during the race
The Bad: It was 71 at race start
The Ugly: And 95% Humidity. Yeah.

The Good: The Pensacola Kid's Marathon - Ryan's 5 year-old daughter (sorry - can't remember her name, except that she looked SO BEAUTIFUL in her pink outfit at the race start) ran 1.2 miles today, after running 25 miles with her Dad and Mom this past month. The 600 kids that participated are amazing - good for them!
The Bad: I couldn't be there to see them run.
The Ugly: Many of them - kids - had a parent or two running either the half or full marathon. And they had to wait around. What great troopers!

The Good: Post race nap, shower, comfy pjs, sushi.... yum
The Bad: post race recovery drink, and spit-up cookie
The Ugly: Sushi induced coma in about 5 minutes...

Here are my stats - in case you're wondering (it'll be in tomorrow's RR) - 1:27:20 overall time. 1st place female, 7th overall 1/2 marathon. Heart rate - your guess is as good as mine, as I ran nakend. Not in a literal sense... yuck! (Now that would have been ugly!). Nope - didn't use the heart rate monitor, just watch. And it was wonderful!

Hope that Kellye had a great TT today, good luck to all doing the Tri-Bloggers Swim Challenge, and oodles of good vibes sent to Bree for tomorrow's Great Aloha Run!

To Bree: Vvvrrrrooooooooooooooommmmmmmm!