Monday, April 18, 2011

Miles of Smiles: Albany Sprint Triathlon Race Report

I couldn't have picked a more beginner-friendly event.  255 participants turned out on an uncharacteristically dry spring day in Albany, Oregon to participate in this annual fundraiser for Albany Aquatics.  My family and I drove the bike course to get a feel for it.  I was very pleased with how well it was marked.  Next I reported to the swim center to pick up my packet and get my markings.  I enjoyed chatting with people in line and on the bleachers that day.  I was happy to discover how down-to-earth and friendly everyone was.  We asked and answered each other's questions, shared stories, experiences and joked around while waiting in line and waiting on the bleachers for our waves to start.  Triathletes for this event came in all shapes, sizes and levels of experience.  There were mountain bikes, road bikes, tri bikes and even cruisers with baskets and racks.  This event was open and welcome to all.  It was my kind of event!  All my nervous energy and looming thoughts of having some kind of swim, bike, or run mishap vanished.  I felt at ease, completely competent and excited.

In packet pick-up line

Lots of chatting in line with fellow participants

Wahoo! For some reason, I was especially looking forward to getting my "markings"

#173 written on my arm

As well as on my leg and hand

Finally it was time to set up my transition area.  What appeared to to be "prime real estate" near the bike mount and dismount line, was full.  I have since learned that bikes can be put very close to each other and I could have easily squeezed in.  I found an vacant place on a rack nearest the swim center door and run start and began setting up.  I fashioned my transition area in the manner recommended by the bevy of resources I've been pouring over for the last several weeks.
  • Bike was hung from the rack by its seat.  Water bottle sat in its holder and Gu was attached to the handlebars with a band.  Long-sleeved jersey and bright colored towel were draped over my bike.
  • On the ground near by bike sat my helmet upside down with straps spread open and sunglasses and cycling gloves nested inside in the order they would go on.
  • Cycling shoes awaited with straps wide open (No socks for me!)
  • Sitting on top of my running shoes were my running cap and race belt affixed with bib number. (Again, I do fine without socks so rather than waste precious time putting them on damp feet, I skip them.)
Pushing my bike to her perch. Paper bag "packet" in one hand and race kit on my back.

Notice the variety of bikes and people in the background as I set up

Originally I had my helmet on the handle bars, but after seeing bikes get bumped and fall over, I decided to set it on the ground instead
I looked for landmarks that would help me remember which rack my bike was at and where in the rack my bike hung.  My bright purple towel would help me find my transition area during T1 and T2.  Once I was confident that I was set-up properly, I went to check out the bike mount and dismount area in T1.  This was all new to me.  There was a line of cones followed by a white line on the road that indicated where we were allowed to get on and/or off the bike.  The race volunteers were very helpful.  They answered all my questions with clarity and patience.  I walked around the area to make sure I knew what I would do at both transitions. So many details!  Once I was confident that I knew exactly what to do, I retreated to the warmth of the swim center.

Since I was in the third wave, I was able to hang out, visit with others, grab a bite to eat and most importantly, watch the first wave.  It was exciting!  I couldn't wait for it to be my turn!  There were all sorts of swimmers out there, swimming in their own unique way and at their own pace.  Some were having to work real hard to get through and the shorter folks had difficulty getting out of the pool due to the high slippery wall.  I was SO glad that I was in lane one near a concrete wall and a side ladder that I could use if necessary.  My husband, daughters, father-in-law and mother-in-law were there to cheer me on.  It was around this time that we discovered that our camera's battery was completely dead.  I was bummed, but wasn't going to let it get me down.  Steve used his cell phone camera as back up.  This explains the lack of pictures and the quality of pictures that will follow.

My daughters got lots of smiles and compliments on their triathlon t-shirts
As wave two was wrapping up, the intercom announced that wave three was going to start.  They read our names and lane assignments and allowed us to make our way to the pool.  I shared a lane with four other swimmers.  Each of us had a lane position by which we would be sent out at five second intervals.  Once we were in the pool, in our positions and I was sure I had a nice firm fit on my goggles, my excitement, nerves and/or bossy teacher/momma nature took over.  "Go lane ONE!" I hooted.  "Don't got out to fast!  Steady, even, tap on the foot, pass at the wall."  We had noted earlier some reckless unlawful passing in the previous waves.  I didn't want that kind of mayhem in our lane.  I was PUMPED!  Here I was, ME, in the pool ready to start my first freakin' TRIATHLON! Let's get this party started already!  

The buzzer sounded and intercom sent the first person out.  This continued every five seconds until all of us were swimming.  The adrenalin pumping through my body caused me to take off like a bat out of hell.  I don't think I've ever swum a lap that fast!  I knew I was going too fast, so I tried to settle down and find my rhythm and race pace.  My lap mates were still going really fast.   We were bunched up.  I wanted some breathing room so I could swim my own race rather than hang on for dear life with them.  I lost track of how many laps I had swum and relied on the lap counter sitting at the end of the lane.  It felt like I was swimming in an endless pool or trying to swim upstream.  It took more effort that I'm accustomed to.  Once I let a couple people pass, I finally fell into a rhythm.  I got tired really quickly as a result of going out too fast.  Each time I made it to the end of the lane, I hoped like heck that the lap counter would submerge the kick board under the water to indicate that I had one length left.  When she finally did, I hightailed it to the other end of the pool, jumped up and out of the pool in one fail swoop, removed and tossed my goggles and swim cap to my hubby and grabbed a towel he was holding.  I ran barefoot outside into the cold in my tri suit while drying myself.  I was so thankful that my weakest discipline was over.

T1 went really well.  It took me 2:47 from the time I got out of the pool to the time I mounted my bike.  Not too shabby for a newbie.  The bike course was super flat so it was just a matter of spinning, hydrating and fueling for the next section.  What I didn't anticipate was the headwind that made me wish I had sprung for the aerobars on my bike.  I tucked myself into as compact and aerodynamic a unit as I could.  My crew van drove by and cheered me on several times along the course.  It always riled me up and kept me going at a decent clip.  I grinned like a fool, whooped and pumped my fist whenever I saw them.  Dang, this was fun!  I was really proud of my strong riding.  With it being so wet and rainy this spring, I just haven't been doing the cycling that I should be doing.  I didn't have the long ride endurance-building mileage nor did I have the strength building hill work under my belt.  Despite that, I maintained an average of 15 MPH.  

The course took us through neighborhoods and along country roads alongside lush green pastures with grazing horses and sheep.  Even with the headwind, I was having a great time out there.  I kept my arms and shoulders relaxed, pedaled at a high cadence, was cautious at the two railroad crossings/trafficked streets and went as fast as I could safely go.  Steve yelled that I was rockin' the bike ride so I felt good and tried to maintain it or pick it up.  I took several swigs of water and sucked down a Gu during my 20K ride.  I LOVE riding!  I can't wait to be able to really throw myself into training, learn more and improve my cycling skills.  My ride was coming to an end and I still had plenty of energy and my legs felt great.  I was eager to get going on the run portion.  I am a runner and could do this without worrying about my form, safety or fear of bonking.

As I entered the busy transition area.  Due to excitement and unclear directions from a volunteer, I dismounted my bike too soon, had to remount then ride a few yards until I was near the line where I dismounted again.  I lost a few seconds and a lot of momentum there.  I ran in my cycling shoes with my bike to the rack where I thought my stuff was, only my stuff wasn't there.  This was the one and only time that I panicked.  The racks were full and cluttered with towels, clothing and bikes.  I couldn't spot my bright purple towel anywhere.  It turned out I was in the wrong row! When I finally found my row, I still couldn't find my stuff!  I stood there desperate, wondering what to do and talking to myself.  I kept searching and finally spotted the corner of my pack peeking out from a pile of stuff.  My towel, running shoes, and cap had been completely covered by someone else's clothing.  I was pissed!  Damn that clunky mountain bike that wasn't properly racked and fell over on me twice while I was setting up.  It's rider had committed another offense by hiding my stuff with their hastily discarded clothes and towel.  It cost me what felt like a ton of time.  I racked my bike, pulled off my cycling shoes and pulled on my running shoes.  I took off my helmet and pulled on my cap and was out of there as fast as my legs could carry me.  Despite my worries, I was able to get through T2 in only 2:03!  Imagine how quick I'd have been if I'd been able to find my spot!

I shook off my frustrations and got my head back into the game.  My family was right there and cheered me on.  I loved having them there and am sure it helped my performance.  I had swum my heart out, pedaled my heart out and now it was time to run my heart out.  Running isn't nearly as new as swimming and cycling to me, so I was feeling pretty confident.  While I had looked at the run course on paper and on-line maps, I hadn't driven or checked it out ahead of time on foot or bike.  I was confident that if they marked the bike course as well they did, that the run course would be equally clear.  The run portion took us through residential areas and along a pretty bike path along a canal.  It was nice and peaceful to be away from cars after the bike ride.  Three miles is hardly anything to me.  Doing speed work has made me realize that I can be pretty uncomfortable for many miles and still continue to find additional gears in me.  I put the pedal to the metal and ran as fast as my legs could carry me without getting too painful of a side stitch.  I opted to run by perceived exertion rather than relying on my Garmin for pace.  My legs still felt great, strong and fast.  Nonetheless, I was glad that this race was coming to an end.  I spotted the high school track where the race would end.  Steve was waiting for me at the fence and telling me what a good job I was doing.  He's the best!  I dug a little deeper, strided out, pumped my arms and gave the last 300 meters my all.  

The home stretch!
I will never get tired of hearing my name being announced over the loud speaker as I come down the finish chute.  This time it was especially sweet.  It had been a year since my last bittersweet race.  Shortly thereafter, I suffered an injury, was forced to hang up my running shoes for several months, went through countless sessions with my chiropractor, acupuncturist, herbalist, and sports doc, wore a cast and/or night splint for months on end and had my first DNS for a 50K for which I had trained so hard.  At one point, I feared that I might not ever run again, certainly not for any significant distance.  It was a tough year living without running and then later with a much modified running program.  Initially I hated being forced into other sports but later I came to love swimming and cycling.  Perhaps the universe had something other than distance running in store for me.  Maybe the only way I would be open to other possibilities was by enduring and overcoming this injury.  Some how, the injury and healing process that followed, turned me into a triathlete.  36 hours after my triathlon debut, I am still experiencing a glorious "tri high".  As I look over my pictures, I notice something.  In every single one, I am grinning from ear to ear.  Be it swimming, biking or running, the day brought miles of smiles.  

Forgot to take off my cycling gloves at T2 and wound up running in them
Official time for the whole triathlon:  1:37:39

Official Splits:
  • 750 M swim: 17:02
  • T1:  2:17
  • 20 K bike:  47:53
  • T2: 2:03
  • 5K run: 28:24 
More often than a racer cares to know, courses are inaccurately measured. When I first learned my results, I was slightly disappointed in how slow my 5K time was.  Recently I found out that the course is actually 3.3 miles rather than 3.1 miles. This explains why my perceived exertion and actual race pace didn't jive.  I feel better about my 5K time knowing that and that my perceived exertion was right on even without my fancy Garmin on my wrist.  

I was ravenous after the race.  My in-laws treated us to a yummy breakfast. I have since declared huevos rancheros my recovery food of choice.  I am so used to running distance events and being totally depleted afterwards.  I am pleased to say that after the event and into the following day, I've had tons of energy, no soreness or residual pain.  I did soccer mom duty and cheered for my daughters as they played their first game.  Today we all went roller skating together.  It was fabulous to not be so wiped out by my athletic endeavors and to have energy to be there for my family.

I am going to keep on tri-ing!  In six short weeks, I'll participate in my second triathlon, another sprint.  This time, I'll race with a friend on a more challenging bike course.  I am also hoping to do my first open water triathlon in ten weeks, but am still trying to figure out if I want to stick with the sprint distance or challenge myself even more with the Olympic distance.  

Love the tide, the ride and the stride.  Congrats to all the AASprint Triathlon finishers. It was a pleasure racing with you.

Official results with splits just in!  I was the 142nd finisher.  If you like numbers, ranking and age division placing, you can check it out the stats at:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Anal-Retentive Guide to Preparing for Your First Triathlon

I'm so excited that I'm ready to jump out of my skin! As my children might ask, "How many more sleeps until [insert highly anticipated event]?" Four more sleeps until race day!  I have run a few marathons and several other races, but this triathlon feels much different.  Perhaps it's because it's been a whole year since I've last raced.  Perhaps it's because I am finally back on my feet after a rough year of injury, my first DNS, a surgery and two months off all exercise.  Perhaps, just perhaps, it's because this time around I am a total newbie, an absolute rookie, green as Kermit the Frog in the world of triathlons.  What do I do when my world seems to be spinning out of control and I have no power?  Why I plan, organize and obsess about the few things I actually can control, of course!  Here's a brief run-down on my last two weeks of uber-preparations:

Two weeks before:
  • wore my tri-suit for a swim/bike brick. By golly, it does feel good!
  • took a free bike maintenance course at REI and learned how to clean my bike, what tools I should have at home and on long rides, and how to change a flat 
  • met with my tri-expert friend to pick her brain, freak-out and get excited
  • looked over check-lists to see if I had all the clothing and equipment I would need
  • crashed my bike trying to get my bare feet into my pre-clipped cycling shoes while riding.  Note to self: Put on shoes FIRST, then mount the bike. I'm still a beginner after all!
  • did a race-simulation with a friend, had a ball, gained confidence, got an idea of what transitions will be like, got an accurate swim time for seeding purposes
  • sent updated swim time to race director
My speedy shoes with lock-laces.  My first case of poison oak on the right leg
One week before:
  • washed my bike
  • broke my valve putting air in my tires prior to a ride (oops, it must've bent during my crash)
  • to my bike to the shop to double check the fitting and get a tune-up
  • discovered that I bent my chain ring when I crashed
  • had my chain ring upgraded ($50 for that spiked circle of metal!) 
  • bought a two new tubes (one for now, one for later)
  • got my bike blessed
  • had husband install lock-laces on my running shoes (Thanks Stevie!) Sweet! Love 'em!
  • got my race number, start time, lane and position from the event website
  • printed race day information and directions to the event
  • studied and printed the bike course (I will also drive it the day of the race.)
  • studied and printed the running course (I will also drive it the day of the race.)
  • carefully laid out all my clothing and equipment head to toe by sport before carefully packing it into my pack
  • watched video after youtube video of setting up transitions
  • continued gentle daily workouts that didn't exceed more than 60 minutes
Final things I need to do:
  • change tubes (I need Steve to babysit me while I do this. I'm petrified I'll break something again. One bike maintenance class, does not make me a bike mechanic.)
  • see what the timing chip strap feels like while swimming, biking and running
  • see how easy the bib belt is to put on and how it feels while running
  • breathe, breathe, breathe and HAVE FUN!
What's in the bag (or what's spread across the table)?

o   Tri-suit
o   Swim cap
o   Goggles
Timing chip ankle strap

  • o   Bike loaded up with the following:
    • GU strapped to frame
    •  Water bottle filled with Gu Brew
    • Pump
    •  Tire change kit
  • Towel (Do I really not take a towel into the pool with me?!)
  • o   Helmet
  • o   Sunglasses
  • o   Heavy long sleeve (I froze last post swim bike.)
  • o   Light long sleeve (This shirt might do too.)
  • o   Wind breaker (It might rain or be windy.)
  • o   Bib belt
  • o  Running shoes
  • o   Cycling gloves
  • o   Shoes with lock laces
  • o   Short sleeve shirt (I don't know if I 'll wear it, but it's there just in case)
  • o   Arm warmers (Another just in case item)
  • o   Cap
  • o   Garmin (I don't know if I want this. Hmmmm... Do I really want ONE more thing to put on?)
I have put in eight weeks of structured training and done my homework.  I am as ready as I'll ever be and yet I imagine I will learn a TON on race day and be humbled.  My goals are to have fun, meet new people, gain experience and complete the race in as smooth of a manner as possible.  I have a vague idea of what times I'm capable of, but this race is not about time.  Next time I blog, I will officially be a triathlete!  I certainly hope I like it as much as I think I will.  I've already signed up for another sprint tri and have my eyes set on an open water Olympic.  Wish me luck!  If it looks like I forgot anything, let me know!  I still have four sleeps until race day.  Plenty of time to buy, try out or pack additional items.

My kids' race day clothes

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Few of my Favorite Things

Seeing the Sound of Music remains a childhood memory etched in my brain.  I was eight years old when my mother, sister and I got all dressed up and went to the theater.  To this day, it remains an all-time favorite.  In the song My Favorite Things, Maria has the most exquisite list of faves.  From delicious things to eat,-- crisp apple strudels, to marvelous sights to behold-- rain drops on roses, to sensory delights--  warm woolen mittens, doorbells and sleigh bells and wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings, I was in awe at the range of things Maria came up with.  I remember coming home and jotting down a list of my very own favorite things shortly after the play.  Over the decades that list has been ever evolving just as I have.  As a busy, athletic, working mom, my latest list is made up entirely of sports clothes and hi-tech gear.  I narrowed my list down to my twelve favorite running, swimming and biking things.  Without further ado, here's my dirty dozen:

1.  Asics 2160 shoes:
After suffering a foot injury and being prone to leg overuse injuries, I am a firm believer in good shoes.  I have four different versions of this shoe that I rotate through.  When the shoes have logged more than 400 miles, they retire from my running wardrobe.  Sure, cute shirts, capris, running skirts are great, but good, fresh shoes are essential.

2.  Running Skirt:
These are super comfy, they look cute and have handy zippered back pockets.  I love the unrestricted feel of running in skirts.

Modeling my favorite shoes and running skirt
3.  Sporthill shirts with thumb holes:
I run year round in the Pacific Northwest so I need running clothes that are going to keep me warm and dry.  I learned the hard way that gloves aren't for me.  Shirts with thumb holes are more versatile.  They can be worn in different ways to keep hands and fingers warm.  If/once you or the weather warms up, you can completely ventilate fingers and hands.

Courtesy of REI
4.  Nathan Hydration pack:
Until recently, on long runs I would carry water in a hand-held holster and/or plan my runs around drinking fountains or makeshift aide stations.  Now I fill up the bladder of my hydration pack and wear it!  The added bonus to hands-free running, is that there's enough room to schlep lots of other things (rain coat,  Gu,  Cliff bars, food, ID, cash, keys, camera and phone) in the pack.  This version is woman-specific and has adjustable chest straps.  Even when it's full, it's very comfortable.  The weight is evenly distributed and the pack doesn't bounce or rub.  I can't say enough good things about this handy pack.  I've also used it for cycling and hiking, as well as running.
Courtesy of REI
5.  Dirty Girl gaiters:
These gaiters keep sand, bark and dirt from creeping into my shoes and giving me blisters or irritations on my trail runs.  They add a fun splash of color and sense of humor to trail running outfits.  

Courtesy of Dirty Girl Gaiters
6.  Lightweight rain jacket/wind breaker:
Great for running and/or cycling.  Compact enough to toss in Nathan pack or tuck in cycling jersey, but enough to keep you dry and protected from the rain and/or wind. 

7:  Garmin 405:
I have a love hate relationship with this device.  It has so many buttons and features. I find it very complicated to operate.  I love it when it works, or more accurately, when I correctly operate it.  It's awesome having access to mileage, pace and workout duration.  On good days, I love setting it next to the computer to download my workout to show me how far or fast I cycled or ran.  On bad days, I dread seeing the cold, hard numbers.  It's a very accurate device that takes the labor and guess work out of determining mileage and pace.

8.  Felt ZW6 road bike:
Words cannot describe how much I love my bike!  From it's frame to it's components, this bike is women specific.  I have the petite size frame just right for my height.  Additionally the seat and handlebars have been fitted specifically to my body by the amazing Gilad at Lifecycle Bike Shop.  He spent over two hours measuring and fitting me to this bike.  It's an amazingly comfortable, smooth, speedy ride.  It was love at first sight and utter bliss on my first ride.  She gets pampered and coddled more so than any other material item that I own.  I just adore her.

9.  StarTrac spin bike:
Much to my delight, I can run and swim year round.  Cycling is another story.  It's dark and wet many mornings and evenings. Riding in such conditions isn't as safe or enjoyable and it often requires a lot of extra post-riding bike cleaning and maintenance.  If I could just take the bike into the shower with me, it'd all be good, but sadly, it doesn't work that way.  I save my bike for fair weather and crank out miles during the dark winter and rainy spring months on my spin bike.  I can get my training in from the comforts of my own home and can even ride while on momma duty, watching tv or reading!  Lately, I am finding my trainer especially useful for early morning swim/bike or bike/run bricks.  

10.  Aqua Sphere Vista Lady Swim Mask 
Who needs Italian shoes when you can have Italian goggles?!  These are the latest piece of equipment in my arsenal.  I was plagued with leaking goggles and, I kid you not, I'd have goggle lines for days after a long swim.  This swim mask is super comfy and leak resistant.  It only gives me a slight red mark on the bridge of my nose after wearing them.  The mark quickly fades and I don't have those embarrassing goggle lines for days to come.  Love these! Supposedly they'll come in real handy once I hit open water triathlons and get to experience swimming in a pack and being kicked in the face.  These babies are less likely to come off and allow for some peripheral vision.

Courtesy of REI
11.  Zoot Tri bib holder and chip holder:
This was a "welcome to the tri world" gift from a triathlon inspiration, friend and mentor.  I had no idea that such things existed, but am delighted to have them in my race kit.  I can wear my timing chip on a comfortable velcro ankle strap and my bib number can easily be fastened to my bib holder which will be quickly moved from back to front as I move from biking to running.  These can be worn for running events too and would make it easier to change shirts mid-run.

12:  Tri Suit:
I had no idea that I would like this giant "onesie" so much!  Sports bra on top, padded seat below, sleek, tight for swimming, cycling and running.  I am amazed at how quickly it dries out after my swims.

Mine is Pearl Izumi

Honorable mention:  
While these didn't make the coveted dirty dozen list, I do rely on all of the following on a regular basis:

  • Black Diamond headlamp for running the wee morning hours or winter evenings  
  • Gingies Ginger Chews to quell an upset stomach on a long, hard run.  
  • Training log to record workouts, routes, numbers, shoe/tire mileage and need for replacement.
  • Foam roller for rolling out those pesky, knotty, tight muscles.
  • Large gel ice pack with velvety cloth cover.  Icing is never a pleasant experience, but these make it tolerable.
  • Asics arm warmers.  Hands down, the best swag I've gotten at a running event.  
Maria Von Trapp has hers, I have mine, what are some of your favorite things?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mock Triathlon Race Report

Today's mock triathlon was so much fun and was a huge confidence booster!  Nine hours later, I'm still grinning from ear-to-ear.  I shared this great experience with friend, and fellow aspiring triathlete Tanya, my husband crew-extraordinaire Steve and cheering-squad daughters.  After playing it cautious for the last several months following my injury and surgery, it was really fun going balls out and having some of my favorite people along for the tide, ride and the stride.

It was a beautiful clear day in Eugene, Oregon.  After random hail storms and a solid month of rain, we were delighted to have the weather's cooperation for our "try tri".  Tanya rode her bike to the gym.  She has a hefty mountain bike that gets plenty of around the town miles as she hauls around her kids in their "bike train" (a tag-along with a bike trailer behind it).  My bike on the other hand is light, has skinny tires, has never been attached to a lock, left unattended or spent a night outdoors.  I have yet to find an appropriate name for my bike, but Princess comes to mind.  While "Princess" can't tow, she can GO!  We nervously rifled through our bags and set things up for T1 in the back of my van.  It was now time for our do-it-yourself event to begin!

Tri Mommas are ready to "bring it"
Donning our brand new tri-suits, Tanya and I climbed into the pool.  Steve had a clipboard, pen, stop watch and spreadsheet.  He would count laps, record splits and let us know when we were done.  Our job was to swim 750 yards.  This is 30 pool lengths or 15 laps in this particular pool.  I wanted a good time estimate for my 500 meter swim so that I would be properly seeded for my upcoming triathlon.  I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with my time.  In my excitement, I went out a little too fast.  It would serve me better to maintain a more consistent pace .
    Lots of nervous energy
    Here I am
    Here's Ms. Textbook Swim Form
    We quickly pulled off swim caps and goggles, toweled off and made our way out to T1.  Steve had pulled our bikes out of the van and had laid out our cycling accessories.  He's a keeper!  (Sorry I snapped at you earlier, honey!  It was pre-race nerves, not you.)  All the tri books that I have are very specific on the order that these things go on.  I had studied up ahead of time, but all that prior knowledge flew out the door in my excitement.  I still have no idea what order I put on my jersey, shoes, helmet and glasses.  Off we set for a chilly ride underneath a crystal blue sky.

    From the gym, we rode out to the fabulous river path for what was supposed to be 7-8 miles but actually turned out to only be 6-1/2 miles.  Oh, well.  We had a brief jaunt on the road and hit both of the traffic lights on the route.  In less than a mile, we were out of vehicular traffic and on Eugene's lovely river path.  This portion was a welcome break for me from swimming.  I was able to suck down my Gu and gulp down a half of a water bottle's worth of Gu Brew.  I had wet hair under my helmet, a light long-sleeved shirt over my tri-suit, bare feet in my cycling shoes and fingerless cycling gloves.  I froze!  Now I know that I could use another layer or a warmer layer on my core, fingered gloves and perhaps something to keep my head and feet warmer.  My legs felt fresh and eager to cycle.  After a few rough bike to run bricks, I was cautious though.  I didn't want to tax my legs so much that they'd be flat come running time.  I was also feeling overly cautious after taking my first spill on my bike the previous day.  I figure I was riding at about 60-70% effort.

    At the beginning of our ride
    At the end of our ride. Tiny specks of blue and black across the river.
    Finally dry by the time I make it to T2
    Steve and the girls were at the park and had set up T2 for us.  As I was bending down to take off my shoes I got a serious muscle cramp that stopped me dead in my tracks.  Ouch!  I could barely move and I still didn't have my running shoes or Garmin on!  I relaxed, breathed and rubbed into it until it finally subsided.  Wow, that was intense!  I had worried that it might be an event stopper.  So many things can happen out there.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for bodies, weather, equipment, fellow participants and all the other variables on race day.  We are all very brave and optimistic for getting out there and trying.  I recently saw a cute sign that a child held that said "My mommy's a winner just for tri-ing." I couldn't agree more.

    Tanya and I were on the homestretch.  We had a 2-1/2 mile run left.  As mentioned earlier, I was nervous about going from my cycling to running.  I had yet to have a good experience in the handful of times I've had a bike/run brick.  Thankfully, today was different!  I think it was because I had great company and support.  We took off for our run with what seemed like a ton of energy.  My legs still had the bike-turn-over feeling, yet it felt like I was running ever so slowly.  My running partner coined our muddy trail runs as "Flintstone style running".  This is so appropriate!  Legs are spinning just like good ole' Fred's when he's starting up his car.  It felt like my legs were spinning but not getting anywhere.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we were running at 8:25 pace with seemingly little effort.  We slowed it down to just under nine minute miles and had a nice conversation for the next 2-1/2 miles.  The miles went quickly and surprisingly painlessly.  My daughter Skylar joined us for the last quarter, she's got a great kick, is a good sprinter and served as the perfect rabbit to reel in Tanya and I.

    Our rabbit, Skylar leads us down the homestretch
    Wahoo! We did it!
    I highly recommend race simulations.  Not only are they confidence boosting, but they also help you work out any kinks before race day.  Come race day, I'll know to pace myself better during the swim portion, dress warmer for my bike portion and excitement and post-bike leg turn-over can help my running portion.  Two more weeks until my first real sprint triathlon!  Could it possibly be any more exciting or fun than today?  I don't know but I do know that I love tri-ing!

    Mock Tri Stats


  • First 250 meters: 5:04

  • Second 250 meters:  5:29  This gives me a 10:33 time for 500 meters

  • Third 250 meters:  5:48.  This gives me a 16:15 time for 750 meters.

  • BIKE
    • 6-1/2 miles in 30 minutes
    • First mile: 8:58
    • Second mile: 9:00
    • Third half mile: 8:24
    TOTAL (Including transistions)
    78 minutes