Raleigh 70.3 Race Recap: Still too tired for a clever title

Where do you start a race recap that is made up of 70.3 miles and required months and months of training?  When you’re still deliriously tired you just jump in and start at 3:30 in the morning the day of… or we would all be here all day.

I woke up the day of the Raleigh Half IronMan at 1:15.  I had already had five hours of uninterrupted sleep and I was feeling pretty good.  Nervous.  But rested.  I slept a little here and there between then and 3:30 am and I hopped out of bed at 3:30 ready to go.  I drank three cups of coffee, braided my hair, tried (in vain) to get Lucy to go back to sleep, thanked Mike and Emily for their support (and for watching Care Bears with Lu in the middle of the night) and I headed out to meet my friend Tori, the only friend I have crazy enough to be doing this race (for her second time!)

The play-by-play of a thirteen hour day would bore you to tears, I fear.  Let me just make sure I give you the highlights….. did I poop before I left the hotel? Nope.  Not pleased about that.  But who wants to be a middle of the night pooper? (Unless you are a sophomore in college and you move in with your boyfriend and you pretend that you don’t really do that.  Ahem.)

There was a mile stroll to  catch the shuttle to Jordan Lake where I had left my bike the day before.  I dropped off my running gear in transition in downtown Raleigh and marveled at the number of people that were milling about in the middle of the night.  I tried to convince myself that it was actually very early in the morning but the drunk girl sleeping in the lobby of the hotel and the chain smoking,  loud talking, laughing kids still lingering in front of recently closed closed bars told a different story.

The ride out to the lake was pretty chill.  Lots of chatty, nervous athletes.  When we arrived at T1 (the transition area between the swim and the bike) Tori said “Have a good race if I don’t see you again this morning!” and that is when it dawned on me that I would largely inside my own head for the rest of the day.

The moment we got off of the shuttle bus it was confirmed that the water temperature was above 76.1 and we would not be wearing wetsuits.  The day before I had gotten in the water a bit and felt pretty good about skipping the wetsuit.  I am a confident swimmer, if not a particularly fast swimmer, so I was happy to skip out on the added complications of getting in and out of my wetsuit.

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I found my bike and was pleased to also find a bike pump to borrow in short order. Upon the recommendation of more seasoned triathletes I let the air out of my tires the day before.  Evidently sitting on hot asphalt for 24 hours can cause your tires to pop from the heat if they are inflated.  Bike was ready, water bottles were full.

Back to the portapotties.  Watched the sun come up and enjoyed the fact that whomever was choosing the pre-race music had a soft spot for Def Leppard.  Fruitless visit to the portapotty and some sweet text messages to Emily and it was time to drop off my morning bag of stuff.  Without a phone, wearing only my trisuit, goggles around my neck, swim cap stuffed in my bra I returned to the portapotty line one last time.  Had the good fortune of finding Tori again so I was able to skip out on the mindless, friendly pre-race chatter with a stranger that can take my head somewhere it doesn’t need to be.

Before I knew it the Pros were in the water and the swim waves were lining up.  Fell into a good groove with some nice women in my swim wave.  A delightfully nervous lady had me rolling with laughter before our feet were even wet.  I took my place on the far left outside of the pack (all the better not to get the shit kicked out of you, my dear) and off we went.

swimThe swim felt good.  I hit a nice, mellow stroke, breathing and sighting and doing my thing for the first third.  We turned at the first buoy and the water got a little colder and a little choppier and I let myself check my watch. I had an overall goal of finishing the race within the allotted eight hours and thirty minutes.  My pie in the sky dream was to finish in under eight hours: one hour for the swim, four on the bike, three on the run.  All of these were well within the realm of possibility barring any surprises. The first third of the swim was just under fourteen minutes so I was stoked!  Either I moved ahead and into the pack of men swimming in the wave before mine as we rounded the buoy or the younger guys that started after me were catching up but the choppy water was suddenly the least of my concerns.  I slid back out to the left hand side and stayed out of the way. In spite of the swim being my strongest sport I wasn’t trying to spend the rest of the day with a black eye.  Reading other race reports indicates that the water was giving people a hard time but I didn’t find it too awful.  As we rounded the second buoy I was at about thirty minutes and decided to try and give it another go in the middle of the pack.  I got knocked around a bit but kept trucking.

I finished the swim in the top third of my age group (and that would be the last time I enjoyed that feeling!)  With my swim time closer to 45 minutes I knew I would get out of transition and onto my bike in well under an hour so I took my time in transition.  I ate a Honey Stinger waffle and got ready to ride.  A generous slathering of sunscreen from a volunteer and I was off!

The bike course had a strange little out and back jog around Jordan Lake involving a turnaround on a tiny two line road.  Everyone slowed way down and I successfully unclipped a foot in case I needed it! That tiny bit of confidence had me smiling within the first ten minutes of the bike.  As we head out of Jordan Lake I spotted the Instagram famous Alan and I spent a few minutes thinking about how many people worked so hard to be here and how lucky I was to be among them.

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My goal time of four hours on the bike was doable if I maintained a speed of 14 miles per hour.  Not fast if you are a seasoned cyclist but not easy if you ride your brakes going downhill and planned to stop at each aid station.  My big fear of the bike involves crashing into others.  I was petrified that I would reach for a water bottle and wiggle just enough to bump into a man on a zillion dollar bike.  I would be fine and he would have a shattered collarbone because I was going slow and he was whizzing along.  I focused on staying my course, keeping to the left and listening for other cyclists.  Women shout out “On your left!” almost always but many of the fast men seem to appear out of nowhere. I did manage to get an ear for these fellows, though, by the end of the day. You can actually hear expensive wheels and their fancy whirring sound if you listen for it. Just as I was starting to think that I might actually meet my 14/mph goals (averaging 15.2 mph in the first twentyish miles) a guy road up right next to me, slapped me on the bike and said “heeeyyyy, Kelly!”   Instead of shitting my pants (thanks, Immodium!) I just said “Hello!”  My bike tech and all around super cycling support system was out for a ride to see if he could catch up with anyone he knew.  He rode with me for a few miles and I felt 800% better by the time he broke away.  Just remembering that not everyone that was good at this was likely trying to kill me was a bonus.

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I had a successful water bottle hand off at the first aid station and decided to pull over anyway  just after the aid station to pop into the portapotty and apply some Hoo-Ha Glide! I wasn’t having any issue but hadn’t used any before the swim thinking that it would all wash away anyway.  I hopped back on my bike all smiles! Shout out to the lady that said “You’re all smiles!” I replied “New Hoo-Ha Glide!” and she quickly said “Gotta love the menthol, sister!” before she took off.

Mile per hour average dropped to 14.1 including my stop but I figured I could make up some time.  The rolling hills in the middle of the course were great.  I learned a lot about my cycling skills on the ride.  I LOVE to climb! I got passed by a handful of women on the flats but within a few miles I would find that I passed them on the climbs.  My fear of riding on the road means that I do 80% of my riding on a trainer.  I guess this means I am always pushing my butt and my legs so climbing is where I am comfortable. Who knew?!

I was prepared for the last third of the ride mentally.  I knew that as we neared downtown Raleigh the roads would change and I would need to be more mindful of other riders.  I was not prepared to stop while going uphill FOR A TRAIN! I had some laughs with the group of folks that were hanging out at the train tracks.  I said “This is the Half IronMan version of a fishing story.  I would have WON my age group but we waited at those train tracks for almost an HOUR!” It was nice to have some laughs before we hit the stretch of the ride I had been fearing.

At some point on the ride I was behind a woman with Team Hope on the back of her tri shorts.  I spent a solid thirty minutes thinking about all of the things in my life that make me hopeful.  I think I got a little weepy as I thought about all of the hours that had gone into making this one day happen and all of the people that had supported me.

My average mile per hour was sitting pretty at just above 14.5 so I was stoked!  I tried to be fearless.  When there was nobody near me I leaned into a few turns, I went aero on the downhills and repeatedly said out loud “God dammit, you can do this.”  An unbelievably helpful woman that I met in a Facebook group, Mandy of Fierce & Focused Coaching, told me that I needed to find my own mantra.  Nothing had come to me until midway through the bike when I realized that I muttered that to myself every time I got scared.  I guess sometimes a personal mantra finds you, huh?

Coming into T2 (the transition area between the bike and the run)  I noticed one thing – it was hot, Africa hot.  I had a successful dismount (huzzah! I hate seeing people fall while getting unclipped at the Dismount line!) and found my rack. Got my bike racked and sat down on the curb.  I had planned to apply some Body Glide and hadn’t counted on it being liquid after a full day in the sun.  I slapped it all over me and swapped out my shoes. I paused and focused on the gratitude I had for the swim and the bike.  I had no fear of the run, checked my watch and realized I had over 3:30 hours to do my 13.1. My goal, finishing within the eight and a half hours was totally possible.   It was the first time in the day I got goosebumps.

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I went out on my run feeling good. My pace was all over the place and way too fast but I was excited.  I told myself I would give it one mile to level out and then if I didn’t slow down naturally I would walk for a minute and get a game plan together in my head.  As I slowed to walk after my first mile I realized that in about 200 yards I would see my family.  MQD and the kids were at a hotel on the run course and I would be able to see them three times on the run course as it was an out and back, assuming that they met me at the finish line.  (Out and back – we ran down the street and then back again along the same street in a loop and did this twice.)

I always sweat like crazy when I slow down.  I started to walk and looked at my watch.  Goosebumps.  Not excited, holy shit, I might actually finish this thing goosebumps, but I am freezing and nauseous goosebumps. I watched my pace getting slower and I never started sweating.  I was cold.  And possibly dehydrated.  And definitely starting to cry.  I had to pull my shit together.  I had to be running when I saw my family.  There was an aid station in front of our hotel.  I could get cold water and see my kids.  I was just excited and nervous, I told myself.  I got hugs from the girls, big smiles and a thumbs up from my dad and a “You look hot!!!” from MQD.  I tried to run out as I left the first aid station, I had to.  The kids were watching.

I think I made it less than a quarter of a mile.  Hills were coming up fast and I already had told myself I would walk uphill.  I wasn’t tired, my legs felt good.  But I felt bad, super bad.  And weird.  And…. tears.

In front of me was a woman about my size, she was in my Age Group or so said the back of her calf.  I told myself I would just not lose sight of her.  I passed her and she passed me for a couple of miles.  Eventually after the first turn I settled into a decent pace on the long downhill and I just kept my eyes on her back.  At some point I caught up to her and said (because the mid-race crazies had taken hold of me) “Not to sound like a total creep but…I think I could pick your ass out of a line up with my eyes closed at this point.  I have been trying to catch you for the last three miles.”

Instead of giving me the “Get away from me” eyes, she laughed.  You guys know that laughing just encourages my bad behavior. I don’t know that we ever decided to finish the next ten miles together.  It just happened.  One of us would start to feel good and say “We run to the next three stop lights and we walk through the aid station?” and off we would go. We talked triathlon and kids and labor and laughed and drank Gatorade and squeezed ice water on ourselves for the next two hours. She’d missed setting a new PR and decided not to kill herself.  I was feeling dangerously dehydrated and just avoiding getting spotted by a medic so we made a good pair.

As we closed in on the tenth mile we realized we had an hour to finish the last 3.1.  On the last pass by the hotel I noted that Lucy was passed out in MQD’s arms (and later in a flower bed) and hollered to them to stay at the hotel and not come down to the finish line.  I love that I had been able to see so much of them during the race and that they’d not had to hang out on the sidewalk all day.

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As much as I wanted to get to the finish line – I also felt like a summer romance was coming to a close.  This delightful human being that the Universe delivered was going to disappear at the finish line.  Angie, I am glad I could find you on the Facebooks! We laughed as we talked about how one of us had to drop back and one of us had to hurry up so that we could get our own finisher’s pics. I told her to Go, go, go!

We started picking up speed as we made the turn towards the finisher’s chute.  I fell about twenty paces behind her and figured I would just run in behind her.  I had been fighting a gross feeling for almost three hours, what’s another hundred yards?  And then I felt the urp feeling.

And then it was like the scene in Stand By Me only instead of a pie eating contest it was Gatorade and I was the only one competing.  With one hand on my knee and one hand on a planter I let it rip.  “Oh shit” gag, “oh shit.” I wiped my mouth and looked apologetically at a woman with two school aged kids “Oh man, sorry about the swearing… and well, the puking.”

“You’re almost there!” she said!  I knew that.  But I couldn’t stop hurling and I really wanted good race pics.  I hadn’t lost all vanity in the preceding eight hours. I leaned into the puking and gave it everything I had. More than seventy miles of Gatorade and ice water came pouring out of me.  A fantastic woman stopped next to me and said “better out than in and better now that at the finish line.”  I smiled.  She got me.  “Do you want some salt?” she asked.

Licking crushed salt tabs from a stranger’s hand is not the weirdest thing I have ever done.  I don’t think.  But it certainly ranks up there.  I felt better instantly.

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Eyes on the prize.  And before I knew it, it was over.

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Finished in 8:01:27. Between the puking and the train, I am calling it a win.   A medal and a hat and some pictures and some more smiling and some water and a Gatorade.  I went down to pick up my morning bag and get my cell phone. I called MQD when I got to my bike.  “I knew you could do it,” he said. “Stay where you are, I will send a Raleigh Rickshaw to get you.”

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And the tears started and they wouldn’t stop. “I can’t just stand here, I can’t.  I will just walk back now.  I need to be where you are… I did it.  Fuck.  I did it….”

And I piled up three big plastic bags on my handlebars and I walked another mile.  What’s one more in the greater scheme of things?

I am still riding high.  I still can’t bend my fingers on my right hand all the way. Dehydration?  Pinched nerve?  It’s better today than yesterday.  The rest of me feels great.   After what felt like a three hour labor, I finally pooped.  My 70.3 sticker is on my car.  My eyes still well up when I try and talk about Sunday.  I have all of my toenails. I have a new necklace that says Tri and an Ironman backpack. I am tired. And starving. And so very, very proud of myself.

What did I learn from this experience? More than I can adequately sum up just yet.  But I can share with you two things today.  One – make friends with the person that crosses the finish line before you.  This way when you throw up they will tag you in their finishing chute picture because you can be seen emptying your stomach on the sidewalk in the background.  Really, thank you.  Words can not express how happy I am to have this picture. It kills me.

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Two.  If there is an option to check an occupation in a race registration – pick something hilarious.  If you skip to about 5:46 in this video you can see me cross the finish line and hear the announcer say “Kelly Doherty, a homemaker.”  WTF?  I have never said that in my life and it cracks me up.  I wish I had picked Astronaut.  Or Fortune Teller.  Ahh, next time.

This won’t be the last you hear about Sunday.  It was a big day for me emotionally.  We don’t do things that scare the shit out of us often enough as adults.  And this was terrifying.  And awesome.

Set goals.  Big, crazy impossible goals.  And go get ’em.  Really.  You’ll be glad that you did.

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Free Crazy

Have you ever been so sweaty and crying so hard that you were not entirely sure if it was sweat or tears that was all over your neck and getting on your sunburn and stinging? No.  Well, isn’t that too bad.

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I had a shit day today.  For the first time in forever and ever a good sweat and a workout didn’t seem to cure what ails me.  I spent two and a half hours on the bike trainer today (a special kind of hell that I actually quite like) because I am too disorganized to make a plan for a group ride and too skeered to ride on the road alone.  I think I spent two hours and twenty nine of those minutes imagining every single thing that could go wrong during the bike portion of my upcoming 70.3.  It wasn’t pretty.

And it was hot.  And riding a bike in your backyard and not moving means you are a buffet for the skeeters.  So when I set out to run I was beyond cranky.

About a mile in I thought “Fuck it.  I will just go back home.”  When you are considering turning around and bailing and you only have to run three miles – it is a bad, bad day.  Bad.  So, I started to cry. Naturally.  I kept running.  And crying.  And feeling stupid and slow and defeated and tired.

And then I saw a piece of trash on the side of the road.  It was a Little Caeasar’s advertisement for Crazy Bread.  It was folded in half.  All I could see were big block letters advertising “FREE CRAZY.”

I was running and sweating and crying and thinking about maybe peeing in my trisuit just to see if I hated the sensation and I saw a sign that said “FREE CRAZY,” guys.  Umm.  Nope.  No, thanks.  I have plenty of my own crazy.

So, I did the only thing I know how to do when I think I might totally lose my shit on a run.  I started singing along with the crappy music I run to… “Oh, don’t you dare look back. Just keep your eyes on me. I said, “You’re holding back!” She said, “Shut up and dance with me!” This woman is my destiny!!!!”

It must be time to take a few days off, dude.  I actually cried and serenaded myself today during a workout. This might have stopped being good for me, huh? Took a peek at the calendar and whaddayaknow? Taper starts this week.  Right on time.

 

Slow down, you move too fast….

We were on the way out of Staples.  I had a huge oversized piece of posterboard in one hand and a bag in the other so there were no extra hands available.

“C’mon, Lu.  We have two more places to go and we need to make sure that we get home before Emily’s bus.”

As I do frequently, I noted that I was talking to myself.  The big double doors of the Staples had slid closed behind me and she was waiting in the vestibule.  A hurried man scooted past her, triggering the doors to open again.  A woman with an infant in a soft carrier walked past me and I smiled at her, knowing she would have to wake that little bitty when she placed them back into their car seat.  As each person walked through the doors, Lucy just smiled at me.  She was waiting to trigger the doors.  Herself.  Because that’s how she rolls these days.

I made eye contact with a woman who was probably old enough to be my mother as she started to exit the store.  She smiled and slowed her pace.  The doors closed.  Lu jumped forward and spread her arms wide as the doors opened, as if to say “I am the Queen of all that I survey!”

“You did it! That was Awesome! Now hold my pants, kiddo, we need to get out to the car.”

The older lady was walking towards me now and she smiled at me.  “You’re a good mom.”

That’s all she said. “You’re a good mom.”

Sometimes you just need to hear it.  You need someone to notice that you were being patient.  You were present and engaged and not looking at your phone or your to-do list or the softball schedule or the coffee that had spilled down the front of your shirt.  You were just there.  You were smiling and being a good mom.  And somebody noticed.

Thank you, Lady at Staples.  I needed that today more than you know.

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Special thanks to Simon & Garfunkel

 

The Lines

On the drive home from the gym every day I have endorphins pumping. I am sweaty and strong and I feel about as good as I am going to feel all day.  Something happens when Lucy and I walk into the house.  I cross the threshold of our side door and enter the kitchen and the sweat starts to dry and all of a sudden I need to make lunch and what have I prepped for dinner and I have phone calls to make and oh shit I forgot to go the post office and do we have softball practice tonight and….

I try to hold onto the feeling. I do.  Today Lucy was cool, we had macaroni and cheese which every parent knows is a crowd pleaser. “Mom, you go take a shower and I will just color, ok?”

Don’t mind if I do.  I walked into the bedroom to peel myself out of my sweaty gym clothes and I guess I didn’t hear her follow me. “Mom!” She was yelling, like something was very alarming. “What ARE those lines?”

Instinctively I pulled my shirt back down.  My still salty face started to flush and I was trying to formulate an answer, the right answer.  I took a deep breath and pulled my shirt back up and said “Lu remember how I told you that you used to be inside my belly? Well, in order to fit in there my skin had to stretch way out.”

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She touched my stretch marks and was quiet. “That’s amazing.  Now your belly is so tiny.”

Well, compared to when I was 40 weeks pregnant, I suppose it is.  So tiny.

“That’s cool, Mom.  I am gonna have lines on my belly when my baby comes out, too.”

And she walked away.

I wish I could see myself like my girls see me.  Just once.

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Happy Anniversary!

It’s so corny to say that I would marry him all over again.  But I would.  Largely because I don’t think I have stayed so late at a party since our wedding night.  Honeymoon babies have a way of making your wedding seem so special…. since yanno, you’re pregnant and nursing and tired and paying a babysitter anytime you leave the house after that.

When we decided to pile books all over the place as our wedding decorations I didn’t think about how one day I would be cursing his piles of books all over our marital home.

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When the viking helmet became a crucial part of his wedding day attire I hadn’t planned on it turning into a keepsake and taking up permanent residence on the mantle in our living room.

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When I sat on the back deck of our weird duplex and power drank a glass of wine in my Punky Power headband and the overalls I wore throughout my pregnancy with Emily I never really thought that I would come home from our honeymoon knocked up.

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But we did.

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And all of a sudden we had a new house and a baby and I quit my job and we navigated a brand new life with grace.  We were a family of four.

But for a week we were newlyweds.  It was just the two of us.

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I got day drunk.

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He got sleepy.

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It was so, so good.

Four years.  We have only been married for four years.  So much has stayed the same.  And so much has changed.  The last four years have simultaneously gone by faster than any four years of my life and held some of the longest days.

A few weeks ago we were in the kitchen talking about marriage and I said that I finally was coming around to believing that maybe we could make it, maybe, just maybe we really would be those old folks with the rocking chairs one day. He looked at me and said “This marriage isn’t ending until one of us dies.”

He’s not a sentimental guy, at least not verbally.  I thought that was the end of his train of thought.  “I am not talking Murder One,” he added.

Cheers, MQD. Happy Anniversary.  I am super happy that you plan on staying married to me and not killing me.

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Burgers with Fried Eggs

The mindless chatter that happens between a married couple can be damaging.  Because the things that I say when I think nobody is listening – someone is listening.  And 99% of the time that someone is a little girl who will remember what I said for years to come.

We were on the way to dinner, headed out to a bar for bar food when neither of us are drinking and I am knee-deep in training mode (because we are, as MQD might say wicked smaht)  “I should get a salad.  Dammit, I really want a burger with a fried egg on top but I should get the salad.”

MQD mumbles something to the effect of “Get the burger if that’s what you want” since we agreed long ago not to police one another’s behavior.

“But five weeks out from the Half IronMan I should really get the salad.  I was faster when I was ten pounds lighter and really the faster doesn’t even matter, it’s not like I will place no matter what but it will just be easier to haul my ass 70.3 miles if I am lighter.  Not that any of it will be easy but….”

And I realized that both of my girls were listening.  And so was my husband.  And I was mindlessly rambling about weight.

I took a deep breath and spoke clearly.  I spoke to myself and to my girls.  “It’s not about what I weigh, but if I eat a burger now I will feel tired and yucky and I have to ride a bazillion miles and run tomorrow no matter what so I should eat the food that makes me feel good.  Everything I read supports that.  Over and over, garbage in makes for garbage out.”

“So, get the salad,” he said.

I got the salad.  And I ate half of Lucy’s chicken fingers but that is neither here nor there.

It’s so hard to train and eat and fight old feelings of being weight obsessed and have small eyes watching.

My new tri suit came in the mail today.  My new, new tri suit.  The first one came a week ago, an extra-large because it said to size up if you were in between.  Against my better judgement (and okay, okay, because my mother said I should) I sent it back and exchanged it for the smaller one. You want a dress that makes you feel good and is comfortable but you want a tri suit that is tight.  There’s no other word for it.  Tight.

I have avoided the scale all week because I am training hard this week and eating clean (and a lot) and my jeans indicate that I am retaining water (likely because my legs are screaming tired) but I feel strong.  And capable.  And like 70.3 miles is not an insane goal.  I don’t need a number on a scale to make me feel like I am not good enough.  Don’t get me wrong, I love numbers.  I have run 346 miles this year.  I have ridden 663.  I have swum 17.  These numbers make me feel strong.

I pulled the suit from the package and I headed for the bedroom to try it on.

When I popped out of my bedroom my greatest fashion critic said “It looks awesome!!”  The tiny teller of truth said simply “It’s really tight on your muscles.”

I had to walk away.  I couldn’t do a round of “Are you crying?  Why are you crying?” just right then.

Yep. It looks awesome and it is tight on my muscles.  And it is also tight and unforgiving across the roundness of the stomach that housed two children and the fullness of the hips that are filled with pizza and beers and burgers with fried eggs on top.  But all they saw was “awesome” and “muscles.”

Kids see what we show them.  Somehow I had just stripped naked, poured myself into a skin-tight tri suit, kicked aside my bathroom scale and presented myself to them as strong and capable and proud and ready to kick some damn ass.  Painstakingly slow ass, but ass, nonetheless.

I am calling that a win for the day.  Triathlon is hard.  Parenting is harder.  Being kind to myself, however, is proving to get a teeny bit easier every day.

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Race Recap: Lake Belews International Triathlon

You know those bad dreams that start with you getting off the school bus at some familiar-ish looking building and you realize it is a high school and you have an exam and you have no pencil and no pants?

The start of last weekend’s triathlon at Lake Belew was not too dissimilar.  Ordinarily my pre-race freakout takes place in the pre-dawn hours and it is quiet and kind of dark, not a lot of time to think about what you’re planning on doing.  However, due to the late start of this race (9:30 am!) it was plenty light out when I arrived. Typically I scan for the registration tent and the portapotties.  But they were blocked by trucks.  Huge trucks filled with bikes.  And college athletes.  Cue panic.

It seemed that everywhere I looked there was another gaggle of 20-something hard bodies, blissfully unaware of their 2% body fat.

I quickly scanned for Grown Ups.  There had to be Grown Ups here, right?  Oh, and there were.  Lots of them.  And each one looked more seasoned than the last.  These people were Athletes.  They trained and ate “fuel” instead of food and probably woke up at 5:00 am and kept their bicycles in their living rooms and OMG WHAT AM I DOING HERE?!

That’s pretty much how I was feeling pre-race, like I was in way over my head.  My partner-in-crime and the woman I blame/credit with my thinking that this is even possible reminded me that the further you go the more people tend to look like swimmers.  Swimmers – that strange breed of folks that have perfect, giant shoulders (making their bodies resemble a chiseled triangle no matter the shape) and that seem to miraculously not look tired at the break of dawn since they have been up before the sun for swim team their entire lives.

Got my  transition area set up quickly and did not have my Superman towel with me for the first time ever.  My spot was smack dab between one of the aforementioned college triathletes and a fellow old enough to be father that surely could have kicked my ass.  For the first time in the history of my triathlon career I did not take a pre-race selfie.  That is indication enough of how self-conscious I must have been feeling.  Popped down to the dock to feel the water and was pleasantly surprised.  Cold but not take your breath away cold.

Wetsuit on with little struggle and stood in line for a bit. This was a fantastic, staggered start open water swim so you run the risk of running into only a few swimmers and being kicked by just those in your immediate time spot instead of 300+. I was worried about hydrating enough on the bike (since I sort of feel like I am going to crash when I get my water bottle out of the cage still) so I pounded some water and decided that I would pee in my wetsuit! Yes! Another first!  First race in a wetsuit, first time clipped in to my bike, first time riding more than 25 miles outside, firsts all over the place.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 8.51.29 AMHow was the swim? It was good. I tried to put my head down and just swim and not sight to awful much.  My watch said I had put in 1.35 miles when I was finished with my .96 mile swim, however, so perhaps a little more sighting might be necessary next time.  You can see from the image here that it was a far cry from the triangular route I was gunning for.  I am particularly fond of the period where it appears I was actually going backwards. All in all, swim was a positive experience.  Loved the new wetsuit.  Didn’t feel like I was going to die at all.  And for those dying to know… my wetsuit remains pee free.

And on to the bike. Transition was uneventful, got my wetsuit off quickly and dried off my feet and hopped into my shoes.  I had been on the fence about throwing on a long sleeve for the bike since the morning had seemed rather chilly but it had warmed up nicely so I was good to go.  Straight out of transition was a hill on the bike (WTF) but I managed to be in the right gear and get up and out uneventfully.  I concentrated for the first 30 minutes on “cycling.”  I tried to drop into aero when I could, I tried to not fear the gear shift and just do what I knew to be the right thing.  All of the time in the saddle that I have put in has paid off and I felt strong…  and then I got bored.  Do you have any idea how weird it is inside your own mind?  Or inside mine? So, I started looking around. I waved at a guy that I thought was walking the most enormous dog ever that turned out to be a donkey.  I sang songs to myself.  I screamed in delight when I passed a gas station and what was I am 99% certain an old friend of mine getting gas.  I patted myself on the back for not turning around to go back and say “How the hell are you?” and that deserves quite a pat since this is a guy that never travels without a cooler of brews.  Periodically I reminded myself that although this was a gorgeous morning it was not a casual bike ride and I needed to turn up the heat.  Those moments typically came seconds after a guy in a helmet shaped like a rocket zipped past me.

The second loop on the bike didn’t bring fatigue but it did bring a fervent need to pee.  So, I tried.  All of the reading that I have done regarding training for the Half Ironman tells me that peeing on the bike is a skill one must learn.  I am hard pressed to imagine myself whizzing around the neighborhood (HA!) so I thought this was a good chance to try.  Nope.  Not even kinda sorta.

As I came into transition I was grateful for that hill, popped my feet out of the clips early and coasted down the hill and to the dismount line.  Did not fall.  Huzzah!

My goals for the run were simple. I wanted to try and maintain a consistent pace and look at my watch as little as possible.  I wasn’t a mile into the run before I realized that I could never maintain my pace.  My first mile was at my 5K pace and it was because I was very likely going to pee in my pants.  Came around a bend and there was a portapotty, a glorious portapotty!  Took a pitstop (my first mid-race pitstop!) and kept on trucking. Mile two was also at 5K pace and I was beginning to think that my legs belonged to someone else.  Hit the water stop at 2.5 and my legs were once again the old legs I remembered, I didn’t come to a screeching halt, but the sense of urgency seemed to have left the building.  I was delighted that I was almost finished!  The run was a two loop out and back and when I turned around after my first loop I told the lady that she would seem like Santa Claus when I saw her next.  Sure enough she shouted “Ho Ho Ho” when I saw her the second time and that little bit of encouragement helped me kick it into high gear (that and the fact that it really was a downhill from there on out.)

IMG_8790As per usual I encouraged the volunteer that came at me to remove my timing chip to back up so I didn’t throw up on his head and paced around a bit after the finish line.  No puking!

Did I feel like I could have gone twice as long?  Oh hell no. But I am certain that come May 31 I will be ready. I have a 10 miler this weekend for fun and a 60 mile bike race on May 1 to look forward to… and a whole lotta training. Jones Racing Company did a wonderful job.  Tasty pizza and plenty of volunteers and people to help.  And a medal!

Lessons Learned:

Sunscreen.  Use more of it.

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Tents.  Don’t sleep in them after a race.

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Water is your friend.  Before, during and after a race. However, once the sun goes down if you plan on sleeping in a tent – beer is your friend – your very best friend.

The final lesson:  I am going to keep moving. Keep moving this old body of mine and keep being grateful for the opportunity to do so.  I moved my ass a little over 35 miles and then I ate some good food and drank some cheap beer and I woke up feeling awesome.  Also, pigtails.  Always, pigtails.

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You know you are an “insert thing you might not really be” when…

If you only stop by to hear me get weepy about my kids, skip ahead.  But if you enjoy my triathlon related rambling with a dash of bodily fluids – this one’s for you!

Observations Pre Race:

The day before my first Olympic length triathlon I had a couple of goals –   get on and off my bike a bazillion times and try not to panic about riding clipped in and get back in the water in my wetsuit and see if I hyperventilate.   Note the trend – don’t freak out.  I was dreaming big, guys.

I took Lucy into the kid room and managed to push my bike, hold her hand and hold my helmet and my shoes.  I even successfully pushed my bike from the seat for a bit, which if you don’t know, totally makes you look like a Cyclist.  It is the Grown Up equivalent of riding downhill with no hands. Not NO HANDS when you have your hands up over your head, but just the casual Big Kid in the Neighborhood hands hanging straight down and zipping down the hill with a slightly bored expression on your face kind of Cyclist.

Shoes on.  Helmet on.  Onto my bike. Rode around about ten miles, switched gears, went up and down some hills.  Came to a dead stop in an empty parking lot and decided it was do or die time. Picked a line in the parking lot and pretended that was the Mount/Dismount line. (In a triathlon there is a Transition Area where you switch from one activity to the next, you can’t ride your bike in there. Just outside of there is a line where you mount your bike on the way out and dismount on the way in.  Side note: If you have the pleasure of knowing the delightful Laura M from high school then you know that I love this line on my way out.  She is a bad mofo that supports my triathlon endeavors and I love seeing her name as I start out on the bike leg of a race!)

I told myself that I would ride to the line and dismount 25 times.  That seemed like a reasonable number.  I did it 21 times and thought “oh hell, I got this.”  And then I decided that was lame to cut it short and did it 4 more times.  And then I felt so damn good about riding clipped in that I stopped and took a picture of myself to send to my mom with the caption “Look, I might not die in my race this weekend!” And then I prepared to ride back to my car and rack my bike.

And I fell down.  Of course I did.  I should know better than to get cocky.  Falling actually thrilled me, I no longer had to fear tipping over! Bloody knee?  Check!

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I hobbled into the pool.

IMG_3214 copyWetsuits are tricky.  Getting in a wetsuit on a cool, crisp morning in the out of doors looks pretty silly but you’re doing it because you’d freeze if you just hopped in the water.  Wriggling into a wetsuit poolside at an indoor community pool warrants weird looks from the pool joggers and the AquaBikers.  And when you can get pool joggers to look at YOU funny… well, that’s a win.  Swam 1000 yards before I was so warm I had to get out.  Wetsuit Success.

Into the showers at the gym.  Rumor has it chlorine is dreadful on a wetsuit so I just hopped in with it on to rinse off.  As I pulled my neckline out from my throat to let the lukewarm water run down the length of my body I immediately set a new goal.  I wanted to pee in my wetsuit.  Not now in the shower, I save that for the summertime.  But I wanted to pee in my wetsuit during the swim portion of the race.  If lukewarm water from the gym shower felt this good some 98.6 degree pee would be glorious!  (As I said above, I dream big.)

That just left packing up my tri bag and getting a good night’s sleep. Heh. Sleep eludes me on a good night.

But I did get packed.  And I did get out the door at 0’dark thirty. Did I Swim 1500 meters, bike 27 Miles and run a 10K?  Well, you will just have to stay tuned! I have to get to the gym because… well, because I am obsessed.  Determined.  Obstermined? Detessed?  Your call.

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Did you hear that?

“Scuse me, while I kiss this guy” – that is probably my favorite misheard song lyric.  I suppose there was a time when someone standing not ten feet away from Jimi Hendrix looked to his left and to his right, desperate to make eye contact with someone else that heard what he had heard.  “Did he just say that? “Kiss this guy?”

I have what one might call an active imagination.  Pretty frequently I hear things that are not at all what was just said. I get a kick out of saying “Wait, hold up, I swear you just said [insert inane comment that could not possibly be correct.]” But the other day I had a real, live, honest to god “NO WAY. THIS DID NOT JUST HAPPEN” moment.  And nobody heard it but me.

Let me set the scene. Girl Scout Awards Ceremony.  It’s chaotic.  It is dinner time and Lucy is not really into meetings at 5:30 pm.  She is trying to be quiet-ish.  Emily is making faces at us both and I am trying to balance the “Please pay attention to your troop” with the “Please keep entertaining your sister, holy cow, it is a long day when you don’t come straight home from school to relieve me from my entertaining small people duties.”

I am seated next to a friend. Not a Mom Friend, the friends that you make because your kids are in the same class and you lock eyes at a horrible birthday party and realize you are of like mind but a Friend Friend that just happens to have a daughter in Em’s troop.  We are quietly saying howdy and exchanging twenty words (the highlight of my otherwise toddler-filled day) when I have that sudden realization that I am an Adult.  I should be paying attention.  I try to refocus my attention to the Scouts as they excitedly receive their goodie bags filled with badges they have dutifully earned.  The older girls are explaining their badges.

Scout meetings are held in a local church with gorgeous acoustics.  Acoustics that, I imagine,  can lift the voice of a passionate speaker and deliver their words to the pews in a neat little package.  However, the voice of a pre-teen girl that is not quite sure of herself can get lost in the sounds of thirty some girls wiggling at the end of the day. I listened harder. “Stereotypes….. and so we….. break down…. For example, white girls.  Everyone thinks that white girls are boring…. and then you get to know a white girl and she is fun…”  This is about when I could not keep my eyeballs in my head any longer.

I turned to my friend with the tamest version of my “Are you fucking kidding me? Is this real life?!” face on and whispered “Did she just say “white girls are no fun?!” I barely got it out of my mouth before I had to scoop up my three year old, holding her in front of my face like a visual excuse for being noisy.  “Shy girls,” whispered my friend.  “Shy.”

Oh.

Of course.

I wonder if the first person that thought Jimi Hendrix wanted to kiss a guy was really into dudes and not so much down with kissing skies.  Maybe everyone listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon on the Rise” was on their third beer and desperately had to pee and that’s why it sounds so very much like “bathroom on the right.”  Perhaps it really is just all about where you’re coming from in the moment and I am just a boring white girl.  Because heaven knows I am not a shy girl.

And boring? Am I boring?  Maybe.  I am running and biking and swimming and momming.  But mostly I am smiling and laughing and writing blog posts in my mind while I count laps or time running intervals.  I am nearing the end of the precious years I have spent sleeping with a sweaty kid head pressed against my chest so I am less and less inclined to sneak out of bed at night to write down the memories before they escape.

I will leave you with this. In case you wondered if I am a boring girl, white, shy or otherwise.  The other day I sat on the side of the bath tub and ate the last ice cream cone.  It was wonderful.  I was all alone.  It was delicious because ice cream.  But even more than that – it was the last one.  And I was hiding.  Now, tell me I don’t know how to have fun?

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Big Girl Beds are for Babies

Three.

Three is a pretty perfect number.  It is the only number that is the sum of the numbers beneath it.  It’s a spectacular number according to mathematicians.  But ask a parent – you’d be hard-pressed to find a parent that says that they just love three.

But I do.  When you’re three you’re not a baby and you’re not a kid.  You can say hilarious things and roll your eyes and laugh at a joke, a real joke, but you can also crawl into your mother’s lap and fall asleep.  You believe in the power of mama’s arms around you and you are still my baby.  But you pee in a toilet and for the most part you do not leak bodily fluids on my shirt.

I think three is wonderful.

Most of the time.

Lucy Quinn

On Tuesday my baby is three.  This baby – the one that was born about five minutes ago.

My Lucy Quinn is a big personality and her birthday reflects that.  We have been celebrating for days.  She had cake and candles with family.  She had her first haircut.  She slept in her big girl bed for the first time.

Em got kicked out of my bed into a “big girl” bed and I learned a lesson. I slept in a twin bed with a tornado of elbows and tiny cold feet for years and I won’t make the same mistake again.  Lucy’s big girl bed is big – a queen.  She thinks she is hot stuff to have a big girl bed and told everyone that would listen that “my mom and I are moving into my own room!”  I smiled and said “No, baby, just Lucy is moving into your room” but she was right.

We snuggled.  She fell asleep.  I slipped out of bed and came downstairs. I spent five or six hours tossing and turning in my bed and checking and double-checking the baby monitor before I went upstairs and got in bed with her.  I made a brief pit stop in the chair in her room where I sat and watched her sleep and bawled about how big she is getting.  And then I admitted defeat and I climbed in next to her.

Tonight I am going to try… I am going to try and leave her be. But she is still so small, guys.  I can’t figure out if she needs me or I need her but I know that I don’t believe in arbitrarily changing things because it “is time.”  And yet somehow I decided that I was too tired, we were too tired to stay in my bed together anymore.  Nursing all night and waking one another.  So, I started telling her “When you are three you can sleep in your bed, right?”  And she got all kinds of neat stuff for her bedroom over Christmas.  And she helped me put glow in the dark stars on her ceiling yesterday.  And then all of a sudden she was in her bed and we were reading a book and we were turning off the light and she was asleep and I was the one that was crying.

She’s not three yet.  I have two more days.  I just want my baby back.

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And that is when she hollered “Mom!” just as I had shown her.  “Lu, all you have to do is say “Mom!” into the monitor and I can hear you.  See?  You’re not alone,” I explained.  She was listening. She had tears in her eyes but she wasn’t crying, exactly, when I entered her room last night.  I had just finished the sentence above about wanting my baby back when she cried out.  “Mom!” I wish it had been a “Mama” or a “Mommmmmmy!” but I am not picky.

This moving into her own bed will be a process for us both.  Em slept with me until she was nearly four.  And by then I had a boyfriend that quickly became a fiancée and we slept like you do when you’re newly in love, all wrapped up in one another.  And then while I was pregnant I went back to sleeping with Fisher because for reasons I don’t quite understand I can’t get enough of that boy when I am pregnant. And then I had Lucy.  I have slept tangled up in someone for as long as I can remember now.  While I am prone to fantasize about what it might feel like to stretch my legs out and fall asleep without anyone touching me (particularly late at night when I am desperate for sleep and pinned between a snoring dog and a sleeping kid) I am afraid.  I am afraid I will be lonely. I am nervous.  I am nervous like one might be before a first date.  MQD and I haven’t slept alone in a bed since we were married.  I came home from our honeymoon pregnant.

I am trying to tune out all of the advice.  I should night wean her.  I should have had her in her own bed all along.  I should just let her cry for a little bit.  I am trying to remember the advice that I give so many new moms – It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks but you and the baby and your partner. You guys are the only people that get a vote.  Our current sleeping arrangements aren’t working.  So, we are trying something new. And just like with a little kid I need to process that just because we are crying a little (or a lot, in my case) doesn’t mean that it isn’t the right thing to do.  Change is hard.  It’s only been two days.

Bear with me while I blather on about this for the next few weeks.  When she is brushing her teeth and setting an alarm clock for school I won’t remember this time if I don’t write it all down.   The days are long and the years are short and all that jazz…. it happens so fast.  And the promise of a full night’s sleep looms large.  We will make it.

Sappy birthday letter to my Lucy Q is coming…. if you’ve not been around long you can catch up starting here….