Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Nation's Triathlon - Part One - The Race

Part of what's taken me so long to post this darn thing is the sheer enormity of the experience.
I simply cannot seem to put it all in one place long enough to get it down, let alone, in one post.
The posting of The Nation's Triathlon will therefore, occur in a three part series.
So, for your viewing pleasure, Part One: The Race

We arrived in DC on Saturday morning, somewhere around 9:45. The littlest Stink and the man headed out toward the Museum of Natural History, and I headed out to make personal history.

It is my impression that these "before race expos" and safety briefings are pretty much the same across events (info gleaned from my extensive two triathlon portfolio.)

That said, this mandatory rule reading was a bit more tongue and cheek than the Philly SheROX, the gist, however, was about the same: rack your bike by your number, be conscientious when setting up transition, the water's clean enough, flail frantically (as if there's any other way to do it) if you're in trouble on the swim, don't even breath into another athlete's bike space, volunteers are placed strategically about the various courses to yell directions at you - heed them. Finish the run strong - we're taking pictures. Oh, and please sign the accidental death waiver at the door and thank you for participating.

On that happy note, we head over to the transition area to rack our bikes for the evening and take a quick and dirty (literally) dip in the Potomac.

The idea of this first swim is for the triathlete to get comfortable with the current and the route, even if in truncation.

It is during our wait to enter the river that my swim buddy, tridiva extraordinaire, Lesley G. says, "You know, looking out there, this doesn't seem like such a great idea." Hmmm. ya' think?!

I'm willing to propose that the pre-swim also serves to rid the athlete of an enormous amount of nervous energy. It did serve that purpose well - right up until about midnight.

Right about then, I sat bolt upright in bed, positive that I had overslept the alarm, set to ring at 4:00 AM so I'd be ready for the 4:45 shuttle back to the race transition area.

I hadn't. Overslept that is.

Then around 2 AM, Trainer Joe banged on my door, military style yelling - "Stink!!!! Get UP!!!"

I barrelled from the bed yelling, "I'm up! I'm up!!" and flung open the hotel door to an empty hallway - He wasn't there after all - who'd a thunk?

At 3:30 AM, I woke and lay awake in bed listening to the DC night un-silence until 3:58. I turned off the alarm and got out of bed.

At 4:15, I tell myself repeatedly that dressing in purple, green, and black spandex, smearing Body Glide in odd places, and drinking absurd amounts of fluids all before dawn, makes total sense.

I am still telling myself how normal all of this is as our shuttle pulls into transition and I get a glimpse of thousands of scantily clad people greased up and wandering about federal park grounds in the middle of our Nation's Capital in the wee hours of the morning.

Yup, we're totally normal.

Within the area, were racks and racks of bikes, nowhere near enough rows of port-a-potties, and what they called a corral (an area where we would all, in short order, be called to wait for our swim wave).

In the predawn grey, the air is almost chilly, but I'm not fooled. Temperatures are predicted to reach record smashing highs by late morning. I have hydrated well in preemptive defence, and have thus traversed the potty lines twice before realizing my wave has already been corralled! ACK!!!

So my mad dash to the corral (jumping and yanking my wetsuit up the whole way) was not quite the meditative experience I had planned. I could not help but to compare the process of being shepherded into a large holding pen and then led through a chute to a murky green depth to a sheep being led to slaughter; or perhaps to my own personal green mile.

That's me at the rear, the poor white-capped lass with her hands grasped tight in plea and prayer.

With four minutes to horn, we begin to enter the water, a gaggle of ivory latex, neoprene and skin. (That's Lesley G there in the front giving you her goggles in the headlights look - she sure seems totally calm doesn't she? That pre-swim must've worked wonders for her, huh?)

Some of you may remember with fondness a YOUTUBE clip I linked to of a swim start; a poor fellow being pummeled with padded oars thrust under water as "Swim MAN SWIM!" is shouted in his ears.

This next picture may seem eerily familiar to you.


The course went upstream to Memorial Bridge, under the second pass, a bit farther upstream to a turnaround, back through the 5th pass and downstream another 1/2 mile or so to the exit ladders.

In essence, that is exactly how it went too, except for the sun glare that made swimming the last 1/2 mile downstream like stroking "into the light". Fellows on boards and boats were shouting something about a red fire boat. "Swim toward the fire boat." Is what I think I heard between getting clobbered over the head by the arm of the zig-zaggy swimmer beside me and focusing hard on not sucking water.

It would have been even better if I'd actually been able to see the big red fire boat before I was directly upon it.

Regardless, I exited breathless but feeling as if I could have gone further if needed. Trainer Joe was among the throng outside of the chute.

"Who STINKS?!" he shouted, grinning, as I passed.

"I STINK!!!!" I shouted back, pumping my fists in the air before losing him in the wet of the misting tent.

Swim time: 39:57 (In Philly, I swam 1/2 mile in 22 minutes; this was a faster swim time for me!)

Here's a shot showing my elation *snort*. I soooo don't remember feeling as bad as all this; but I think it's like labor; the extent of discomfort fades in the glory of the moment.

So that's me running toward transition. Ideally, a triathlete will have their goggles and swim cap off and their wetsuit to their waist by the time they arrive at their bike. I was on my way.

I can't figure out T1; I have been really mulling it over.

You take an athlete, someone who has just been madly stroking a river for a mile straight, you make them run yards and yards back to their bike and then, and here's the kicker, you ask them to get out of a wetsuit. I would be inclined to believe, if anyone actually watched transition, that this whole process is designed for the sheer amusement of race organizers; but, thankfully few people actually see this debacle.

Lucky for you, my sweetheart, manned with the "big girl" camera, got it all in still just for ya'll.

T1 time: 2:33 (I did have several calf cramps while trying to yank off the wetsuit, but a little point-flex of the foot, and I was off!)
The bike was a fast, flat, beautiful 25 miles through the city.

Flat courses are good because there are no hills to crank through and bad because there are no downhills to coast. It was spin, spin, spin all 25 miles.

For the first twenty, man was I flying! I was averaging a super speedy (for me) 19MPH and loving every minute. At mile 20, my legs fell off.

Not literally, of course, but as if a switch was flipped, my bike slowed and I cranked and cranked to pull off 15 MPH for the last 5.

In hindsight, I might have decreased that 19 MPH average to 18, and saved some leg for the end, but at the time, I was just intoxicated by the sheer speed of it all!

Bike: 1:25:38 average pace, 17.6 MPH (Philly: 16.0 MPH pace)

T2 should have been easy, but I forgot my race belt and had to run back to get it.
T2: 3:59

By run time, it was H-O-T hot. You could see the waves off of the pavement.

I grabbed a Gu, hoping to gain back for the run some of my lost bike legs, slurped down a water and headed out.

The run course was flat and sunny, and at least for the first 4 miles (out by the Point), pretty darn boring.

I chatted up several other TNTers from around the country, thought lots about all the folks that had gotten me to this point and who promised to carry me further still, sang the songs from my TEAM STINK playlist, and unabashedly walked each aid station where I took water/Powerade mixes and put ice in my cap.

On mile five, I had a minor skirmish with my digestive system. It seems that my stomach did not love my cerebral addition of another Gu. It rebelled in loud yucky belches and had me taking an extra Powerade at mile 5 aid station.

The last mile, was peppered with people. Folks lined the sidewalks. They waved signs and hooted out numbers. Two of those crazy folk happened to be my mother and sister who yalped and smiled and jumped about waving "See Stink Tri" signs.

The set up of the last half mile can only be described as cruel.

We ran toward what seemed to be the finish, but then switched back. Then again, toward the capital, then back again. As if that was not enough, the final switchback (where MaryAnn, wearing a purple princess cap was stationed with the "Go Team" cheerleaders) lead to a mile long finish corral (alright, it wasn't a mile long, but you couldn't have convinced me of that at the time).

By that time, adrenaline had kicked in and I was moving!

I could see the finish line, the crowd and the photographers, Coach Joe appeared as if by magic, running (well, likely a light jog for him ;) ) outside the sidelines to my left. From my right came a little flash, a blur of hair and grin and there was my girl, the littlest STINK!!!! She ducked the sidelines and came dashing out to run me on home!!

Run Time: 1:08:15

There were over 3000 registrants to the Nation's Triathlon - 2398 individual finishers.

800 or so of those were from Team in Training who, together, raised over 3 million dollars for LLS and cancer research.

The center of metropolitan DC was shut down, the streets lined with people, some of our military and Congress folk, even the Mayor of the city swam, biked, and ran through the Capital of our Nation, and we were a part of that.

You may not have known it on Sunday morning; but you were right there with me, right at my side the whole time.

Together, we did it.

Time: 3:20:21

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Promises, Promises.

It's coming, I swear.

I've gotten your emails; I know that you're anxious.

I'm downloading photos and I absolutely promise some this evening.

The short story is WE DID IT!!!!!!! You and me and a boatload of congressmen.

If you missed Super Nancy's posting of my stats in the comment section (Nancy, you are just the best!) of the last post, here's the recap, in brief...

39:57 swim
1:25:38 bike
1:08:15 run
total time: 3:20:21

Of 953 women, I came in 460th, 1626 overall (there were 2396 finishers).

Next up...

The LONG Story or One HOT Tri.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday Night, but just barely.

I'm awake; I am packed and repacked, but I am still awake.
and it's very late.
and I have to get up early tomorrow to get the littlest Stink and the Man out of the house and into DC.
and I am spending entirely too much time reminding myself that I am soooo trained for this and will be just fine. My digestive and respiratory systems haven't gotten the message yet...

Maybe I'm getting sick. (cough...hack)

Even less appealing is the weather forecast.

We have gone from thunderstorms to merely cloudy skies, high humidity and heat that if not actually breaking records for DC in September, will according to all accounts, feel very much like it.


off to meditate on penguins and Klondikes. I am sooo trained for this and will be just fine ;)

night, now, friends and folk.


So I've been packing the ol' bags for the race in DC this weekend.

Not an organized person by nature, I work best off of checklists.

Here's the SWIM check list:

  • Swim Cap

  • Giggles

  • Wetsuit

  • Towel

  • Body Glide

  • Sunscreen

  • Baby Shampoo

We've discussed the cap and giggles (with baby shampoo de-fogger) in previous posts and the towel is self explanatory, but the rest may be new to some of you.

Sunscreen is a given, but must be sprayed on AFTER the body marking and NOT rubbed in, but rather, allowed to dry on the skin.

The wetsuit is a relatively new thing for me, and though I have, during this week's taper toward race day, been out swimming 300s in it, I still cannot help but feel as if I am attempting to swim wrapped in a rubber taco.

It is not a comfortable thing, a wetsuit. To look at it, you might think it was made for a much taller version of the littlest Stink - a lass with a waspish 21 ish inch waist and freakish proportions. You would be wrong, of course; I am expected to wriggle and jump and squat and pull and pant and gasp my way into this contraption and then...then, I am supposed to swim smoothly down the river in it.

This is an interesting concept.

When I first lay eyes on the neoprene body girdle, I said to head gal Mary Anne that clearly, there had been a mix up. She, without batting an eye said. "Nope. It's yours. Try PAM or Body Glide sprayed on your ankles, under your arms and around your neck."

PAM?! Like the cooking spray?!

That evening, I sequestered myself into the bathroom with my stick of Body Glide, my can of PAM and my neoprene taco. I imagined the MAN standing outside the door hearing alternating grunts and aerosol spray shwishes and the happy domestic waft of oil from beneath the door.

I made him go downstairs.

Fortunately, I did not need the PAM, but it is quite a feat of athletic contortion to get that sucker on...and off. I propose it should be given its own race leg. (would that make this a quadrathlon)

In all honesty, if you can get past that pesky panic that sets in when your lungs are compressed, and the inevitable, accompanying claustrophobia, the suit does make one remarkably buoyant. It also really helps to limit leg fatigue. And as Trainer Bob (seen here in his own Taco) quips, it is oh, so slimming.

I imagine myself as Scarlet O'Hara with Mammy at the helm...
Hold on and SUCK IN!

SWIM gear...


This picture of the BIKE list is not a fair representation of the stuff required for this leg of the race. Much of this STUFF is hidden in the little under seat pouch. So, in addition to

  • BIKE


  • Gloves

  • Bottles

  • Glasses

  • Ruby Slippers


  • happy bottomed Socks (you can never be too colorful)

You also have hidden under tush

  • Tool kit

  • Tire thingies (to pry off a flat)

  • Lube

  • CO2 cartridges

  • extra tubes in case of a flat


  • weird valve adapter

Comparatively, the RUN seems blessedly simple.

  • Shoes

  • Hat/Visor

  • Belt (for number)

  • Gu or some other food-like source just in case.

  • Body Glide is good here too.

  • And I can't forget this - (well, technically, I could forget it... but I don't think they'd let me race. I'm willing to bet my Body Glide that there is a USAT rule against it.)

    My TNT tri suit.

    So that's it. That's all there is to it.


    I don't seem to be going anywhere fast.

    Go figure.

    Monday, September 8, 2008



    photo lifted from credited to Capitol Concerts

    With 7 days left until race day, we've surpassed our fundraising goal!!!!!

    THANK YOU!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!

    To date, I have logged:

    26,350 yards or 16.5 miles in SWIM,

    358 miles on BIKE,


    101 RUN miles!

    All total, that's 475.5 miles -or- round trip - from my house in Pennsylvania to the White House 3x (plus 25 miles!)

    Nation's Triathlon... Here we COME!!!

    Storm's a-brewin'

    I haven't blogged it, mostly because I didn't want to subject you to peevish ramblings and outright whining but since you asked...

    If workouts were MAJOR rot, my attitude was worse. I was outrageously fatigued and unaccountably surly.

    I walked half the run on the 26th, seriously contemplated getting off my bike and parking tush on the side of the road on the 27th, and repeatedly sucked water and otherwise flailed ineffectively about on the swim (that'd be the 28th).

    Not to be outdone, the second half of the week consisted of the run that wasn't (I just decided not to go - 'cause first I'd have to put on my run clothes, then I'd have to tie my shoes, then pull back my hair then...) and a bike that went from a mapped 25 miles to a sad, sad 10. (at mile 10 I heard church bells tolling. This signified, I was sure, a higher message to STOP for God's sake!!! STOP!!!)

    On Sunday, I drug myself from bed and went (oh, woe to the other tri-folks) for the team swim-bike-run "brick" session.

    I managed to keep my whining to a minimum on the swim, but let fly on the bike.

    Because I was humping along at the back of the pack, poor Trainer Bob ended up with my sorry self.

    A lesser man might have run fast and sure for the hills, but not our guy Trainer Bob. In all honesty, I think it just may be some sort of sadistic code of coach's honor; you know, hang back with the last trailing tri-folk, the captain stays with the ship and all that.

    To reward his stalwart devotion to the cause I sang him a shrewish tale of angst and sorrow (I'm thoughtful like that). I think I even cursed at him (I know - ME?!) when he cheerfully reminded me that we do 2 bike loops.

    So, the second loop finds me gazing hatefully at my surroundings, (I mean, how dare the sky be so crystal, the trees so vivid a green), and choking on the crisp September air.

    I am a wretch.

    I think of those folks that would give anything for that chill and the technicolor of the day - I think of Evan, the teenage son of a fellow triathlete, his fight with Leukemia nearly over and I start to cry.

    Now, I am not generally a crier; I don't do it well, or often, and quite frankly, had Trainer Bob not been discreetly riding my tail, I might have just tipped my bike over and given way to the "ugly cry", right there on the side of the road.

    He was though, silently back there pedalling; so, I kept going.
    He continued to be sage-like and quiet, a Yoda on wheels, until he asked if I had checked my resting heart rate recently.

    No, I had not.

    He said to do so the next time I woke. "If it is over 72 or so", he said, "don't train that day".

    I made it through the rest of the bike, and thanks to Bob's tales of Triathlon Greats, through the run as well.

    I even made it home and into bed before I slept 4 hours straight.

    I checked my heart rate when I woke.


    I didn't work out on Monday.

    The next morning - 72.

    No training on Tuesday either.

    6 AM Wednesday - 64 BPM.

    I rode the rail trail with the littlest Stink to the ice cream shop.

    Thursday I woke in what I can only describe as an Oz-like world. To say I sprang from bed and clapped my hands and declared the day ripe for a good bike ride might be a slight overstatement, but not by much.

    It appears, (and I'm sure that some of you, more familiar with this sort of thing were on board long before now), that I was over training. Trainer Bob calls this "crossing over to the other side".

    It is not fun, it is inexplicably debilitating and depressing.

    I hope never to land my house there again.

    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    I can count on three fingers the number of times, in my adult life, that I have been afflicted with a stomach flu.

    It just figures that last Friday night would be number four.

    It is a tribute to the depth of my mental instability devotion that as I prayed hard at the porcelain bowl, I thought... 'perhaps I will be well enough by morning to make it to trainer Joe's for the team training'.

    I was not. Well enough that is.

    I have spent the greater part of each subsequent training session of this week alternately ruing the day I decided to Tri and cursing trainers Bob and Joe for their cheerful leadership, unflagging encouragement and quippy chatter.

    I think I am getting better though; yesterday evening as I contemplated the still cool waters of Pinchot Park, I marveled at how far I have come.

    It was here you see that I took my first plunge. In these very waters, in this very buoied partition that I struggled through my first 100 yards.

    I slapped the chill from my arms, rinsed the baby shampoo from my goggles (it keeps them from fogging - thanks BOB) and sluiced smoothly through the water, imagining myself as a sort of aquatic nymph - a being of light and grace if you will.

    Then I sucked water through my nose.

    Friday, August 22, 2008


    Yesterday evening, I met up with Trainer Bob and another tri-chick, Leslie, at Pinchot State Park for a swim session.

    Despite the recent cold snaps here in Dutch country, the water was still remarkably warm. Pond-weedy for sure, but warm pond-weedy. This made good hunting grounds for the littlest Stink and her friend Sam out adventuring with nets during the training.

    We swam over 1500 yards in a sort of train across one swimming area of the pond. I was the caboose.


    Once for our little three person train, and again when Trainer Bob lapped me.

    I'm not too concerned about this lapping thing however; I'm beginning to recognize the near freakish intensity with which Bob approaches this tri thing. It's well disguised under his "everyman" guise, but I'm not fooled; not one bit.

    I had enough energy at the end of the 1500 to do an extra 200 yds in a sprint pace (well, sprint for me anyway). It's an amazing feeling to really move smoothly through the water; there's this perception of a cohesive union with the natural elements. It's A zen-like "one with the water" that lasts only as long as you are able to maintain breath.

    So that means roughly 175 yds of "union" before I took a big breath of pond.


    Still, this is much improved from the big crappola streak I have been experiencing in the Stink vs. the TRI games of late and I am heartened and encouraged.


    1700 yds is OVER a MILE!!!!!


    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    Did someone ask how my training is going?

    I am, for an ol' gal who biked a hard, ugly, 25 miles this evening, awake at a mysteriously late hour (12:49 AM EST).

    I am accounting this to the two out of three workouts in as many days that were, if not completely disgraceful, certainly dancing on the very precipice of it.

    Further accounting for my insomniac behavior might be attributed to the chocolate bar that I ate to bemoan my cruddy workouts; not having imbibed in any sort of refined sugar or caffeine of late, I'm guessing this shock to the ol' system may indeed be the culprit. (okay, maybe I ate more than one bar, but they were little and... okay, fine... three of those mini bars... fine...fine.)

    It's likely better off that I am solitary save for you; my stomach hurts, my legs are sore, I am, quite frankly, positively shiny with disagreeable glory.


    A salty ol' gal - or - the one where I learn the REAL meaning of cross training.

    We've just returned from a week and some odd days at the beach.

    Swim training in the ocean is sort of similar to the swim sections of the She ROX; choke, gag, stroke and all that.

    I did sort of get the hang of it, however, and by mid week was managing 1100 yd swims without too much added waterloggish suffering.

    In addition, early in the week, The Man and I rode 26 miles north (which is nearly to the end of the island) and I did a pleasant brick early one morning, mid week, with a ten mile bike sprint to the south end followed by a six mile, Flat (with a capital "F") out and back to the fishing pier.

    Training while on vacation is, I suppose, the equivalent to eating a snowcone without the flavoring, or driving a Maserati at 5 miles per hour; there's still novelty, but the real flavor of the thing is rather missing.

    Never a people to be denied, by Thursday, the entire family Stink began to deviate a bit from the training schedule.

    Let's just call it cross training.

    Monday, August 18, 2008

    Back in the yesterdays, when I first registered for Team in Training, I thought it would be wise to have a pre-tri tri of shorter distance before racing the big race in September; I registered for the SheROX Triathlon in Philadelphia.

    SheROX is an all female sprint distance triathlon in its second year. For those of you who are, as I was once, blissfully unaware of the distances of triathlons, sprints can vary slightly, but run generally in the 1/2 mile swim, 15 mile bike, and 5K (or 3.1 mile) run arena.

    There were 1600 women (both relay and individual racers) athletes that crowded the swanky boathouse row in Philadelphia the Saturday before the race for "packet pick-up", the "mandatory" athlete meeting, and the "Expo".

    I received my packet - full of lots of numbers (858), a time chip (to be worn around the ankle), a fluorescent pink swim cap (the color designated for my age wave), and my complimentary t-shirt. I bought elastic laces (clever things that let the triathlete just slip on their sneakers) and treated myself to a brand new pair of tri-shorts (they were 25% off and as discussed in a previous post, these chamied bottoms, once worn, smell regrettably similar to livestock, no matter how many times you wash them. I only owned one pair, so I treated myself to a new one for the race).

    The meeting, was basically a citing of the rules for USAT, the governing organization for triathlons; and darlin' let me tell you, there are RULES!

    If I could remember all of them, I might treat you to a recitation, but around this time, I began to feel as if an elephant was sitting squarely on my chest. I watched the Schuylkill river rush by, felt the presence of hundreds (and I mean that literally) of sort of sticky women and thought that this was perhaps the dumbest idea I had ever had in the history of my existence.

    This is, I was informed by trainer Joe when I called him at home in ranting hysterics (sorry Joe), a completely normal reaction (gee, now I feel better). His advice was to get out of there, go home, eat some whole wheat pasta and meatballs, lay out my gear, and go to bed early.

    I did.

    Going to bed early is not sleeping, however, and what rest I got was spent in one of two dream activities, cycling or falling prey to any of the rather humiliating body responses to extreme activity or both of these at the same time, so I guess that's one of three activities.

    I gave up at 3:30 AM, got up, shaved my legs, put on my Sunday-go-to-races tri-shorts and top, and with the littlest Stink and her father tucked snugly into the car, headed Northeast toward Philadelphia.

    I arrived at the transition area (this is where you begin your race, and return after each leg to switch gear) at 6:45, had my body graffitied with permanent marker, and began the set up as outlined in the aforementioned phone conversation with Trainer Joe.

    Note here the white feet. This is not, as you might have guessed, an odd symptom of some rare disease, but rather the sad, sad side effect of hours of training on bike and road - oh, the sacrifices we make for sport. ;)

    I digress.

    Spectators are not allowed in the transition area, so I had a bit of alone time to get my bearings, attempt to familiarize my surroundings, and angst at the "water support" (roughly 4 guys on surfboards, 4 in kayaks, and several in motorboats) .

    I'm glad they were there, of course, but their mere presence suggested that I might need them. Did I mention that one of the "rules" covered at the meeting was "If you cannot complete the swim, remove your swim cap and wave it frantically above your head"? Okay, the "frantic" part is an add in - a giving in, of sorts, to my dramatic tendancies - just trying to help in the visualization of the moment ;)

    The bullhorn sounded for the seven professionals right at 8 o'clock. The rest of us followed in waves set 8 minutes apart (4 to get in the water, and 4 minutes to tread prior to the start - this is called a "deep water" start.

    1600 women were divided into heats by age group (or, in the case of relays and pros, by their category).

    The husband remarked at the resemblance of my group to a bunch of floating strawberries - lovely.

    That's the beginning of my wave -

    I've really been training my swim hard, so aside from the visions of sinking unceremoniously beneath the pull of the current, I thought I'd be in pretty good shape.

    I did not account for the full contact effect of swimming with hundreds of other women. In training, I had been working on my stroke cadence; it went like this: stroke, breathe, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe.

    At race time it went like this: pummel, stroke, tread tread tread, breathe, stroke, choke, gag, smack, kick, kick, gag... you get the general idea I'm sure.

    When I mentioned this particular experience to Trainers Bob and Joe, this clip from YOUTUBE was forwarded to me:

    I think it's a fair representation of the swim portion of a triathlon.

    T1, or the first transition is from swim to bike. Before I even exited the water, I was saying this little mantra: "helmet, shoes, glasses, bike". If you remove your bike from the rack without your helmet BUCKLED, you are disqualified. (As a side note, they don't tell you you've been disqualified until AFTER you finish the entire race.) So, HELMET, shoes, glasses, bike, and off I went.

    The bike was a 2 loop course which means that you complete the course twice before you are finished. I spent the first loop catching my breath from the swim, but the second loop, I was able to focus a bit more on speed and cadence, and to get into a bit of a groove.

    I did not, you will all be astounded and amazed to hear, fall off my bike - even at the dismount ;)

    T2, or the second transition is from bike to run. For this one I said this mantra: bike, helmet, shoes, belt. I really didn't want to leave for the run still wearing my bike helmet, and by belt, I meant the belt that held my race number - that's another disqualification point.

    The run is where I felt most comfortable, and interestingly enough, by my times, is where I could stand the most improvement in pace!

    It was a smooth run, and the day, even by this last leg, was not too hot, so I really should have pushed the envelope a bit, but I remind myself now, as I work intervals on run days, that my goal was really just to finish standing.

    I heard the littlest Stink before I saw her. She was screaming "MOM! MOM! That's MY MOM!" She high fived me as I ran by and threw herself at me as I crossed the timing pad and finish line. They took off my timing chip as she held tight to my neck, riding my hip as she hasn't done since she was much younger, her face buried in my neck. "Mom,", she said, wrinkling her nose, "You really stink".

    "You betcha'." I said. "I really do."

    As an aside, and for inspiration, you'll remember that I mentioned the relay teams that participated in the SheROX. One of those teams was made up of 5 gals with prosthetic legs. One of them did the swim leg, one the bike, and the 5K was split between the last 3, each of them running a 1 mile leg. This brave little Miss crossed the finish line to a deafening roar.

    She was running to raise funds for folks who need prosthetic limbs and cannot afford them.

    Word about the grounds was that she had just turned 6.

    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    Stop by, bid BIG

    If y'all haven't stopped by Ebay yet, now's your chance!

    Those awesome ebay gals have listed and listed and all for Team in Training! You can click on the link below or find them all by typing "CANCERSTINKS" in the search term box.

    for all you "tri-gals" on the loose out there...
    one of my special friends, Erin from The Vintage Pearl has listed this rockin' tri-bracelet!

    Several of the auctions are headed toward their big finish, so jump on board before Monday's close!

    You can also check out our Stinky Pete & co.. thank you auction - "Gettin' by with a little help from our Friends." Set to run Monday 9AM EST.

    Next up... Reflections from last weekend's Sprint Triathlon - the SHEROX Triathlon in Philadelphia!

    Wednesday, August 6, 2008

    Feathered Heels or Why We Race.

    Every day, there are new reminders of how this "personal" challenge, is not about me at all.

    What it is, is so much larger than me, and you even. It's about loss and triumph and tears and joy and battles and endurance and blessings. It goes so far beyond my corner of the world, my training routes and waterways. It spans the globe and unites us.

    Yesterday morning, I received an email from a woman in Australia that I have never met nor heard from before. She commented about TEAM STINK, applauding the cause and sharing that her brother-in-law was nearing the end of his fight with cancer.

    Paul, she shared, had triumphed over so much. Nearly twenty years earlier, he had received a kidney transplant.

    His mother was the donor.

    The transplant was only supposed to last five years; twenty years, a marriage and a daughter later, his kidney began to fail. It was only when he went in for his kidney, and broke his hip that they found the Cancer. Somehow, it had camouflaged itself and escaped notice.

    When Shelley, of, wrote me yesterday, her husband was jetting fast and sure across the country to be at his brother, Paul's, side.

    Paul is only 46.

    Yesterday, I biked 19 miles in 46 minutes.

    I thought of Shelley and her husband, and of Paul most of the ride. I thought of Paul's mother, having given, so many years earlier, a piece of herself to save her son. I thought of his young wife and their sixteen year old daughter, Lia.

    My son will turn sixteen at the end of this month; in my mind, his face is hers.

    It is in this aching, this burning in my legs and in my heart, that wonder begins to take route. Rotation after rotation, hill after hill, breath after breath, I am humbled by the power of a life well lived. Awed at the force that is the human will. Amazed at the ties that connect us from all the way across the world.

    I wondered too, if way over there, a world away, if they, somewhere in their grief, feel that sense of wonderment too. Some small comfort that we are united, their family and mine. That, together, today, we all rode breathless across the hills of Pennsylvania, pedaling strong over valleys and roads.
    That even as Paul battles, his will was the breath in my lungs and the wings on my heels.

    I cannot help but to think that this - this is why we race.

    Tuesday, August 5, 2008

    CANCERSTINKS boutique auctions on EBAY

    A group of amazing women has joined the race! These selfless gals have begun listing their work, their art, their designs, and their jewelry to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through my Team in Training coffers! Stop by and visit TEAM STINK on Ebay; now through the 22nd of August.

    Thursday, July 31, 2008

    A little girl to goggle bonding.

    On Monday evening my goggles and I bonded - for a long time.
    I swam 1100 yards.
    Then I rushed to the computer to google "how far is 1100 yards in miles" cause I never did master distance conversion.
    Guess what?
    It's nearly 3/4 mile!
    "Hoo Hoooooty!", I cry and dance a wet jig.
    Shortly thereafter I fell into an exhausted heap - who'd a'thunk?

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Can I just take a moment?

    Every Saturday, early in the morning, my tri-guy group gathers together to sweat, swear and smell raunchy.

    Before we begin though, we have a "TEAM moment". I like these moments, when anyone in the group circle shares about Cancer - research about cancer, breaking news about cancer, facts they've learned about cancer, stories of folks they know with cancer - you get the idea I'm sure. I like these times, not just because they are moments when I'm not sweating, swearing and smelling ridiculously worse than any one woman has a right to, but because they remind me of my intention - my purpose.

    I thought I'd share a moment with y'all, so gather in a circle.

    This Saturday was the All Team Team in Training Training (I thought that name was hysterically funny, and said it several times fast to various members of the group - for folks with such decent humors normally, they sure take their sacred stuff seriously. Apparently, the ALL TEAM TEAM in TRAINING TRAINING *giggle,snort* is not something to joke about - go figure).

    There were nearly 100 cyclists, halfers and full marathoners, walk/runners, and us tri-guys that gathered at Trainer Bob's digs where he had marked the separate courses in white paint on the pavement. It's a good thing he did too, because I, in the spirit of true adventurers, forgot my directions and had to follow the arrows and CAUTIONS backwards like so many breadcrumbs from "Hansel and Gretel" in order to reach the house.

    The end result was that I missed the moment, the start of the workout, and ended up with a largely solitary ride. I biked ferociously (for me at least) around the "Tour de Bob" bike loop, catching, to my glee and amazement, the last four cyclists in the group, though none of my tri-guys. You will all be pleased to hear that I did not, even once, fall off the bike! (It's all about baby steps) and came back to start quicker than I thought.

    I transitioned fairly smoothly, and headed out on the run - I'm alright at running - I figured I'd certainly meet up with the group on the way back on the run course, so I was keeping my eyes peeled.

    It was still pretty cool, and this particular run was feeling good (some runs definitely feel like pounding pavement and heaving air for four straight miles - others, well, I get lost in, and suddenly, they're over).

    I was feeling grateful for the mature trees on the course (shade - yippee!) when I rounded a bend in the road.

    Up ahead, began one long straight row of white signs, waist high, lined up like little soldiers.

    The first read something like this: "Today, we remember why we run."

    Then: "We run for those who cannot run" (the next 15 signs or so were all home and school photos of babies and children)

    The next: "We run for those who fight the battle" (the next 20 or so signs were personal photos of folks and their families)

    Next: "...for those who fought and won" (these photo-signs were greater in number, and filled with all ages, including my team's honored team mate CURTIS. Some folks were even in Team in Training gear on finish lines!)

    and finally: "and for all those we have lost." (the rest of the first mile, these photos smiled out from their signs, some winsome, some laughing, some young, some old. Each one - the girl next door, the grocery bagger, the broker, the runner, the child, the mother.)

    With each sign I passed, a new awareness, with each face, another life effected, changed, lost. All of those spirits, and the force of my own loss powered me on.

    Sometimes, when I run, I get the distinct feeling that it is just me and God and the pavement, mile after mile, thought after thought, but on Saturday, God and I, we were joined by hundreds of others, urging me on, pushing me forward.

    I never did catch my tri-guys, though I passed them on my return run (they had done a second bike loop to my one, and THEN hit the 4 mile run course). But I did run almost 5 1/2 miles in about 48 minutes. That's a really good time for me - must have been the angel wings on the heels of my sneakers.

    Guess I didn't miss the moment after all - and now, neither did you.

    Thank you all for being part of this journey with me - know that every bit we do is another smile on a sign, another wing on a shoe.

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    Lessons I've Learned in Training

    1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate.

    2. Do not hydrate with pond water; it is best used for swimming, not ingesting.

    3. Whoever designed road bikes was clearly not well. I can find no other logical
    explanation for the marble seated, thin tired, featherweighted thing that is
    the racing bike.

    4. Falling is inevitable when you are attached to a bike. Be prepared.

    5. Bike gloves are not for looking cool. They are to protect the palms during the frequent aforementioned plummets to pavement.

    6. Tri-shorts are very helpful to the poor abused nether regions - wear them. Unfortunately, regardless of how often they are laundered, they carry with them the stench of what can only be described as chronic donkey butt.

    7. Goo is something you are supposed to eat and like. (blech)

    8. Runners trots have nothing to do with horses.

    9. Vomiting on a run is considered an almost tribal rite of passage. It is met with great yalps of excitement and cheers of encouragement from gleeful coaches and fellow tri-guys alike.

    10.If I am very quiet on an early morning run, I can solve most of the world's problems in the first 20 minutes.

    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    Training Log - Sunday July 13,2008

    As of yesterday's Team training, I have officially been at this for 3 weeks.

    At the first Team Swim, I could swim 100 yds freestyle and then switched to breast stroke for the remaining 100 yds before a 2 minute break.
    Yesterday, we swam 2 x 400yds with a 1 minute break between. I didn't have to switch from freestyle until the last 200yds where I did side stroke - 100yds on each side.
    My air is so much better, and my lame-o shoulder is amazing me with how not lame-o it truly is!
    800yds is nearly half a mile!
    All in all, I've clocked 4150 swim yds or almost 3 miles in 3 weeks!

    In addition, I have a total of 115 miles on bike, 12.2 running miles (several of them interval or fartlek), and 4 hours of yoga ;)

    When the little perfectionist in my head starts talking trash, I remind myself that this training process is not about winning or even competing, but rather about systematically approaching challenges, surmounting them, and ultimately triumphing.

    I remind myself of all those with cancer, those that I honor and those I remember. The brave folks who face obstacles I cannot know with strength I can only aspire to.

    I don't think we're in Kansas anymore or my Ruby Slippers


    are my Ruby Red Slippers.

    I've tried clicking my heels three times and saying "There's no place like home.", but the darn things appear to be broken.

    It seems that the only way I'll be able to "get on down, get on down the roooaaaaddd" is if I hook the silly metal clippy things on the bottom

    into the vicious jaw like pedals on this regal looking steed.

    Frankly, I can think of a bazillion things to do with handmade Italian leather shoes. Walking in Milan, for instance, or down some equally romantic shwank of a street.

    Even this "Get Smart" inspired thing

    seems to make more sense, though, to be honest, I think the littlest Stink and her BFF were having trouble getting any kind of good reception.

    Shoe phones and swank aside, at one point,long ago, some clever soul decided that these little slippers should be the mechanism that locks an otherwise unsuspecting triathlete (in training) onto a piece of carbon and aluminum that is, for all intents and purposes, careening wildly down hot asphalt at speeds upwards of 20 MPH.


    I think I like the shoe phone idea better.

    Saturday, July 5, 2008

    The Basics - SWIM

    I will profess, going into this, I thought I had, what I considered to be, a basic knowledge of the triathlon.

    I knew that you rode a bike, ran a bit, and swam a little more.

    I knew that it was an endurance challenge.

    I knew of the Ironman.

    It turns out, there's a bit more to it than that - go figure.

    Believe it or not, there's an order to the chaos; it goes like this: swim, bike, run. It is my assumption that this order is based on the sport with the greatest opportunity for bodily harm to the least.

    It could be argued here that propelling oneself across road at high speeds on nothing but two VERY thin wheels and a (aluminum in my case) frame could be considered more dangerous than moving the body through deep expanses of open water, but that would only be if you assume a certain proficiency at swimming.

    And there's the rub.

    I read once that a newborn child is a very proficient swimmer. The concept being, that having floated about in the womb for nine months, the infant takes naturally to an aquatic environment. I don't know how factual that is, but I can tell you this... it is so not true once we're grown.

    There is nothing remotely aquatic about the lopsided panting windmill that is me in the dark waters of the lake - nothing.

    I've been training now for nearly two weeks, have a fondness for "stuff" and feel thusly qualified to fill you in on what you need before you ever dip toe into water.

    The Equipment:

    First and foremost, you need a good pair of these:

    Around the House of Stink, we call these "giggles". (through personal error, I can advise not calling them such in a training situation - nobody "gets" it, and these things are considered sacred tools.)

    For my first swim, I arrived with an old pair of 'somebody's' giggles. They were sort of yellow with age, but they're just giggles, right? WRONG.

    Do not do this! They fog up, fall off and otherwise make swimming VERY difficult. Trainer Bob, advised to purchase a new pair.

    "Look" he said, and took the strap of his high-tech eye wear off his head. "Your goggles should stick to your face without the strap. (Here he pushed them onto his face and they slurped up a good strong seal).

    "Insist," He advises, "on trying them on. Fit is imperative, and everyone is different."

    Here, several other tri-ers show me that their goggles also suction tightly to their face without the strap. Wow.

    La Stink and I head to the Sports Super Store and warn the sales staff that we'll be "trying on", and then proceed to open case after case of goggles, sucking them onto our eye sockets to see if they stick. Sometimes, one goggle sticks and one dangles, sometimes they both fall off. Occasionally, one will stick and then fall off when the other is pressed on.

    This is a sort of time consuming process and not for the faint hearted. It's sort of like trying on masks, or enormous hats, or stiletto heels - in the middle of a very busy public street! Take a friend for support.

    These triathlete people are hardy folk. Aside from the cross training in what can be near frigid temperatures, they have acquired some interesting practices employed to increase the speed of their race. They generally try to wear the same gear for the whole race. So.... you need one of these clever things.

    A tri-suit is a bathing-biking-running short with equally versatile top (either attached or unattached) these are TIGHT with a capital T, triathletes call this being aerodynamic.

    In addition you need this:

    not the hammock, silly friends, the pond or some other sort of open water. Pool swimming is VERY different from open water swimming.

    Further, if you live in the House of Stink, you also need a nice older gentleman named Tom to come with lots of metal cage-like traps to escort these surly party crashers

    from the training grounds.

    Since the beginning of training, I've logged 4 hours of open water swimming (an estimate of 3000 or so yards in addition to lap swimming in my inlaw's 20yd pool) I swam 600 yds there, but at 20yds each lap, I think I deserve bonus time for the dizzying number of flip turns (30!) I had to do.

    To put that in perspective, on race day, I will need to swim nearly 1,760 Yards - over half of what I have done in two whole weeks.

    Thursday, July 3, 2008

    Money doesn't grow on trees or my first contribution is in!

    This is what I found this morning.
    (Okay, so it wasn't actually in the boxwood, but you get the idea.)
    Tucked inside this vintage jewelry box was $10.01. I asked our gal Stink about the box, and this is what she said:

    "It's for your race, for know... the r-a-c-e?"

    So about this time I close my mouth, begin breathing again and I say, "Thank you Stinkish - thanks for giving to the cause; $10.01 UP!"

    "Nope," she says, "just 10 bucks".

    She holds up the little coin and smiles "The penny's for luck."
    Team Stink - on the charts!

    I do wonder though if a lucky penny in a running shoe gives blisters?

    The Family Stink

    This is the Family Stink; the boy (a wicked funny fellow with a good heart and an occasional lean toward the lazy side), the big girl, (a driven and passionate sort of gal with a fondness for creating), the man (intense and fiercely devoted to family), and there in the middle, that's our gal Stinky Pete, the link that binds us together, precocious and cheeky to a fault.

    Oh and that lass at the rear... that'd be me, the mother of all Stinks and quite clearly a bit touched in the head.

    One week ago, while dining on my post-lunch snack-o-snack of Ben and Jerry's and junk mail tossing, I came across a purple-ish mailer plastered wide with hot, sweaty, pink cheeked faces. I spooned another bit of Cherry Garcia in and thought, "I'm going to do that."

    and I am.

    On September 14, 2008, I will be participating in the Nation's Triathlon in Washington, DC.