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.