Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Let's Round 'Em Up!

Beginner Triathlete has a wonderful feature that allows users to log times and mileage for the three main sports. I was checking out mine this morning and these are my totals for 2008...

I spent 40 hours and 8 minutes biking 456 miles. I spent 70 hours and 10 minutes running 281 miles. I spent 15 hours and 32 minutes swimming 18,598 yards or approximately 11.25 miles.

When you consider that in 2007 I was doing nothing, these numbers are really larger than they appear.

There are many, many more triathletes who put in so much more mileage than me. They've been doing it for a while, though, and usually train for the longer distance races like the Ironman or the Half-Ironman. I do, however, foresee my mileage significantly increasing in 2009 for many reasons:
  • I'm planning on competing in at least six Sprint distances next season. I only did two in 2008.
  • While I'm competing in Sprint distances, I will begin an Olympic distance training plan in the Spring to be ready for my 2010 season where I will set my sights on Olympic distance races.
  • I didn't start biking until May this past year.
  • I didn't start swimming until June and quit in September due to no Y membership and colder water temperatures.
  • I now have a Y membership. I can train year-round.
  • I want to get out of being in the back-of-the pack and putting in the mileage will be conducive to that.

I took 2008 from a year of having my training pockets empty, to - for what was for me at least - bursting at the seams. I'm so grateful to have the good faculties to train and to compete. I don't take that for granted for one single day.

Here's to a wonderful 2009!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

I Bought a Bike. I Mean, This is HUGE!

Yeah, that's right. This is my new bike. And it was complete serendipity that brought us together.

I was considering a bike in the Giant OCR series, but really wanted a version with better components. Problem is that they're really out of my budget.

Well, the store had 2 of the higher-end models (OCR1) in two of my possible sizes (S and XS) leftover from 2008 they needed to clear out.

So, for right-around the price of the lower-end 2009 model, I got the 2008 OCR1!

After doing a laser body-scan to get measurements, we decided that the size S would work best. So the guy tweaked it to get the fit right and then I went for a ride. It was so windy, but even at that, it was so, so effortless to get fast. That ride was a complete blast.

Anyway, I'm so grateful to be in a position to get this bike. Times are tougher economically - for everyone - and I'm completely humbled.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Swimming Like a "Standstill" Tornado

They say that if you're on the ground watching a tornado move, and then there come a few seconds when it doesn't appear to be moving at all, that that is the point where you should become terrified...

...because when it seems like a tornado isn't moving, that means that it's headed your way!

Sometimes it's so easy to not see any progress in your training. Sometimes you feel as if you just put in a good workout, but, hey, that's about it.

It is during these times that you can be sure the payoff is coming, that the tornado is headed in your direction.

My first tri was June 28, 2008. It took me 27 minutes to complete the 400 yard swim. During my swim training 2 days ago, it took me approximately 12 minutes to finish up 400 yards.

I am...just...completely...floored. I knocked a little over 50% off my time on that distance.

The girl who won the race was my age. She finished the swim in 9:02. The girl with the fastest swim time was three years younger than me. She finished it in 6:57.

Looks like my training these past few months has indeed paid off, even when I have doubted many times that it ever would.

The tornado appeared to be standing still, but all these months, a faster time was twisting its way into my life.

Every workout is just another step closer to the goal. Even, and perhaps especially, when it doesn't seem like it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Notes on a Y

I've been going to the Y for about a week now and am so glad to have the opportunity to do so.

Like I thought, I'm enjoying swimming the most. It's so relaxing, even when I'm working hard.

I feel so at one with the water, it's such a shame I'm not a better swimmer. I'm not surprised by this, though. My middle name really should have been Irony.

I've been doing strength training, too; usually before I do anything aerobic. It's my understanding that it helps burn the fat that way.

I haven't been to a gym in eight years - easily - so I've been using the machines that look familiar to me first, and have slowly been incorporating the unfamiliar ones into my routine. That usually happens after I spend a second watching someone out of the corner of my eye use it first, though.

The treadmill is the beast I'd always remembered it. Even with the ability to run five miles now at some pretty decent grades, completing one mile takes an eternity.

No problem. The Y has an indoor track. It does take 17 loops to complete one mile, but it is still much better than the treadmill.

With that in mind, though, I'm still going to plan most of my running for outside. My running has been slacking quite a bit, but swimming is my WORST sport, so it'll be good to really focus on it for a while.

They've got some bike-ish equipment in the gym, as well as a couple recumbent bikes, but I honestly think they'd be a waste of my time. The next best thing to biking outside or being on a trainer is spinning, so I'm just going to have to sign up for that class.

I already feel like it's my home away from home. Sigh...

Monday, December 8, 2008

No Training for the Sick

My eyes had barely opened. I knew that the soft dawn light peeping in from the crack in my curtains meant that I had slept in longer than I'd planned.

It was at this moment that I noticed the scratch in my throat, a scratch that would actually end-up precipitating a week's worth of physical misery.

I tried everything to squash my cold. I started with Advil Cold and Sinus. Nothing. I moved on to Dayquil/Nyquil. Nothing. Someone recommended Alka Seltzer. I cringed at the thought of downing that stuff, but I was desperate for relief.

Gary went to the drugstore to pick it up for me. He called while he was there to see if I wanted cherry or orange. "Orange," my voice managed to crackle over the phone. How sweet of him to ask.

After a couple days, I started feeling "not as bad." Seeing that my problem was now only nasal congestion, I tried, at another recommendation, Afrin.

Let me tell you, that stuff is like magic pixie dust. I couldn't believe how well it worked. I felt like my breathing was finally given back to me.

After 9 days of rest, I finally felt well enough to go to the Y today. I'm bummed that I had to be out that long, but I wanted to take a few days getting good and rested so as not to be out a few weeks because I was too anxious.

More on my first day at the Y later.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Y" Me?

The other day, Gary mentioned that I just didn't seem myself the last couple of days.

Now, over the years, I have developed a keen sense of quickly determining what the root of my current emotional state is, good or bad. My sometimes pensive or taciturn dispositions usually needed to be explained away to friends or family, lest they misinterpret what's really going on.

After he mentioned this, I paused for about five seconds - my thoughts scurrying about for the explanation - and proclaimed: "I really think it's the cold weather. It's just so much harder for me to get going, to get motivated."

He listened to my diagnosis, smiled broadly and announced, "Well, Baby...your Christmas present from me is a membership to the Y."

I turned my head to face him and said, "Really? I can go ahead and get it today?"

He said yes. He was going to wait until Christmas-time, but it was clear to him that now would be a better time to gift-give.

I called the Y to see what all they needed. The lady on the phone said, "You can come over today and someone can take care of you as long as we're open. But, we're starting a membership drive on Monday and if you wait until then, we'll waive the activation fee."

As excited as I was to get in a pool immediately, I am practical and decided to wait until Monday to save the money. I had waited this long. What's another 6 days?

I'm most excited about being able to swim. That is the sport with which I struggle the most, but it is easily the most enjoyable.

I'm also excited about being able to run indoors, and about having access to the equipment to start Crossfit strength training.

I'm just thrilled about it all, really.

Thanks for my early Christmas gift, Gary. You...are...AWESOME!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Oh...I'm One of THOSE People Now

I heard recently that a neighbor said about me to someone I know, "Oh, my gosh. That woman is way too active. She's always running or riding her bike somewhere."

In many ways, I feel like a triathlete. It's become such a part of who I am. I'm traveling over the holidays and would feel sick if I didn't at least bring my running shoes.

In other ways, I still can't believe that I am.

I'm pretty embarrassed to admit this, but I used to make fun of runners. "Hey, look at me. I'm a runner. Yeah, yeah, I'm a runner," was a stupid little song I'd chant to myself as I'd pass by. (I don't know what's more pathetic: that I was making fun of people or that my song wasn't even creative.)

Oh, and bikers? They didn't get the honor of a song. They just annoyed me, taking up that perfectly good road space.

As I have become known as a runner and biker, I feel compelled to reassure, somehow, the people out there who are Old Loras.

For example, I joke that if my bike had room for a bumper sticker, it would read: "Yeah, I hate people like me, too."

A part of me wants them to know that I know how they're feeling. I'm still going to run and ride on their roads, but if I can make them chuckle instead of anger, maybe today's Old Loras won't be as harsh to the New Lora.

Just for the record, I never honked, sped around in anger or yelled harsh words out the window. No, I just muttered to myself, much like the dad in "A Christmas Story" does when the furnace goes out.

As I look back at my attitude, I was jealous. That sounds like an easy pop-psychology diagnosis, but it really is true. I didn't have their motivation or determination, and making fun was just a nice way to pass the time and forget about my own lack of fitness.

It's so funny the way this story in my life has turned out; me becoming the very thing I used to dislike. But, since I am "one of those people," I've no choice but to just embrace it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Snow is Welcome Here

I'm one of the few people who absolutely love snow.

Gary cringes if the weather reports include it. I can't wait to glimpse the first sign of the harmless white invaders.

When it snows, it's as if the fast pace of the world is put on hold. There's a loud quiet in the air, demanding that our lives move slowly.

For the first time in my life, I went running in the snow the other day.

Of all the things that I can do to be a better runner (run more, run faster, eat better, hydrate better), I wasn't prepared for the sudden spring in my step for which the snow was clearly responsible.

I'll be frank: it was just fun. I wasn't focused on my heart rate or how fast I was going. I was just enjoying the descension of my wet, white companions. It was, quite simply, a very calming experience.

Snow has always been special to me. Now, as a triathlete in winter training, I've got another reason to love it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Forgotten 5K Memories

I was Googling myself the other day on Yahoo. (Yes, I meant to say that.) I found a link with my name associated with results for a 5K back in November 1998 at my university.

Since I started training for tris, I've often wondered how I did in that race. I've thought about calling the university to see if they had those results by some odd chance, but just never did.

Yesterday, my curiosity was mollified. I excitedly clicked on the link and found my results - after all these years:

Overall: 108/123
AG Overall: 22/25
AG Female: 12/15

Time: 29:12
Pace: 9:24

Here's how I, a certified non-runner, ended up doing a 5K...

I, along with my friend, Jacki, had decided to join the newly forming women's crew team. We soon found ourselves in a Catch 22. We could not get a coach until we got a boat, and we could not get a boat until we had a coach.

Our captains decided that doing a 5K would be a nice team activity in the meantime. As someone who couldn't run 50 feet without wanting to collapse, I cringed when that idea was tossed out, but I was up for the challenge.

Jacki and I trained with the girls a couple times, running the entire 3 miles. I must admit, I felt really, really good after each run. The biscuits and gravy I had for breakfast afterwards never tasted better.

Race day came and I started off with the team, but the "real" runners soon left me behind. No problem. I expected they would.

The race run was just as much of a pain as the training runs, but at least I'd get a nice long-sleeve T-shirt when I finished. (My friend, Melody, with whom I am no longer in contact, had it eight years ago. That's the last time it was seen. Can you tell I really liked that shirt?)

When I turned the last corner, my teammates who had already finished were cheering me on. That was really cool. I talked with some of the girls for a while afterwards, and then left town for the weekend.

Completing that 5K 10 years ago was cool. I finished it, was proud of myself for a while, but quickly went on with my life.

Completing my first triathlon this summer was a life-changing experience. It was extremely difficult, physically challenging, highly emotional and incredibly, incredibly rewarding.

The Danskin women's triathlon series has a saying that goes something like this: "The woman who starts the race is not the same one who finishes." They are so on the money.

Finishing a 5K is cool. Finishing a triathlon is pure bliss.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

R.I.P. Little Fella. I'm So Sorry.

The darkness had already settled-in for the night and it was only 6:00 p.m.

The road home from work would be a long one, but driving is very soothing to me and I really didn't mind.

Out of the darkness and in a split second, I noticed a Basset Hound mix from the right walking obliviously and directly into the path of my SUV - about 5 feet in front of me. I was horrified because I knew instantly the outcome of his very poor decision.

The impact forced my SUV to fishtail into the other lane and I quickly got back on course. I was very grateful to the Lord above that oncoming traffic was far away and the cars in my lane were well behind me.

I put on my right blinker and pulled off into the shoulder and put on my flashers. I kept muttering through the tears, "Oh, my gosh, I hit a dog. Oh, my gosh, I hit a dog." I got out and started running in the grass trying to find him.

I did find him. He was in the shoulder, laying deathly still on his side with no life in his eyes. I put my hand on his side, hoping to feel or see a breath. I thought I saw one, but my tear-filled eyes could have been misleading me as I was never to see anymore that night; if I had even seen that one.

I knew the little guy was dead, but I just couldn't leave him. He had on no collar so I couldn't contact any owners. I called Gary. No answer. I called again. No answer. I called my boss, Jim.

Jim and his wife, Carol, take in feral cats in their neighborhood and at least get them spayed or neutered if they can't keep or find homes for them. They also just lost their dog, Fergus, about 3 years ago. I knew he would care.

To make a long story short, Jim called the Animal Control office and conferenced me in with them. I did my best to calmly tell the lady what happened and where the dog was. She reassured me that it wasn't my fault, that these things happen, that I had done everything possible and that someone would be on their way.

Gary called me back. We agreed that it really was unsafe for me to be parked along the side of the road. Who knew how long Animal Control would be? I called the kind lady back and she said it would be Okay if I left, especially since the little guy was dead and just needed to be picked up.

I spent the next half hour of my drive sobbing. The thought of hitting something else because I was too emotional helped dry my eyes after a while.

I called later on to confirm they picked him up off the road. The very compassionate voice on the other end informed me that they had. I cried a few more times that night. I apologized to Gary, "I'm sorry. I know it's irrational."

He said reassuringly, "Actually, it's very rational. You love dogs and it's too bad that of all the people who might have run over him, it ended up being you. It's very understandable why you're so upset."

If this little fella would have been alive, I would have rushed him to the vet ER. Frankly, since his owners didn't care enough to keep a collar on him and keep him fenced, we would have had another addition to the family.

Sadly, things ended much, much differently. My two pups below are definitely getting some extra attention this weekend. As if we could give them anymore.

I'm so sorry, little buddy. Rest in peace.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Infuriating Bike Ride

I decided to ride along the road here at home instead of hitting the trails. I just didn't have two hours to spend driving. My goal was 24 miles.

It was the coldest bike ride I've done and I had plenty of gear to keep me warm; probably too much actually. This would only add to my discomfort...and to my fury.

From the beginning, I knew this ride would be "off." You know what I mean. There's a different feel to the air...a different feel to the world even. Perhaps it felt that way because that's exactly how it was.

The first day of truly colder weather was accompanied by its rebellious friend, The Wind. I felt like it was taking out its frustration on me, as if the lack of severe weather this summer had left it pent up and only today could it finally unleash its force.

I felt like I was biking through mud instead of through wind. I felt sluggish and angry, angry and uncomfortable, uncomfortable and...hopeless.

So many times I yearned to turn around. I was just utterly miserable. I kept on telling myself to get my head in the game, like my old high school softball coach used to yell out to me in the field from the dugout. But I was so mad because I was so miserable, and memories of Coach Savilla's leadership just couldn't shake the negativity.

So many times I thought to myself, "That's it. I just cannot and will not do this anymore until I get a road bike. Forget the challenge, forget the training. I hate biking. I'm done."

For whatever reason, I made it to 11.5 miles and turned around. As soon as I did, the head wind was gone and my ride felt somewhat back to normal.

I finished up at 10 mph. My slowest ride ever.

Maybe I needed to have this rock-bottom experience. I've yet to feel so frustrated in this sport, and I'm pretty good about getting in a slump and coming back even stronger.

Here's to hoping that's the case.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Last Nice Day of the Year

I wanted to take advantage of this last nice day of the year by putting in some more miles on my bike. Once again, I loaded up my SUV, drove an hour and hit the trail.

To my surprise, about 3 miles into it, I was growing weary. Twenty-four miles seemed so far away. I thought, "Well, maybe I'll just turn around and that way I'll have done 6 miles."

Luckily, my strong will persevered. There was no way I was going to drive 2 hours round-trip for 6 miles of biking.

I just kept plugging along and I eventually got to a point where I began to enjoy my journey. Instead of forcing myself to bike hard, I decided to just take my time and enjoy the sunny day and bright trail before me. That made all of the difference.

I ended up biking 27.5 miles at a 13 mph pace. That's very dismal but still better than last week. It had been about a month since I'd been on a bike last time, and I've come to realize that I simply cannot go that long without it affecting my endurance.

Now, if I can just get the motivation to bike in the cold this winter, I'll be golden.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Long Bike

My mentor group on BT is doing a challenge for November to run 40 miles, bike 98 and swim 2.4 (or do 5 hours of strength training if you cannot make it to the pool).

So, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather yesterday and start my bike goals.

I have really gotten spoiled riding those trails and my usual route from home just doesn't seem satisfying. So, I loaded up my bike in my SUV and began my hour-long drive to the trail.

Because it was such a beautiful day, because I had nowhere to be and because this trail has many, many miles on it, I decided to push myself and ride 24 miles. Plus, that would knock out 25% of my goal on day one.

It truly was a gorgeous day, a lot like the above picture but with more sun. Every now and then, and only when I was by myself, of course, I'd hear some sort of animal rustling the leaves near the path. I wondered what it was. A snake, a squirrel, a mountain lion? I never found out and I think that's a good thing.

It took me 2 hours to get in 24 miles, putting me at 12 mph. I got passed by a few people who just seemed to effortlessly speed by, as if they weren't even using their legs to move them forward, but had made a secret deal with the wind to make them bike heroes.

I continue to encourage myself by insisting that when I get a road bike, the wind will make me an offer I can't refuse, and I can join their club.

Of course, I know a road bike won't solve all of my problems. Getting better and faster is all about time in the saddle, but being more aero and having a lighter-weight bike will help.

So, here's to a wonderful day of being outside, enjoying the crackling end of a beautiful summer and to having biked 24 miles.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Meeting the Goal - Just Barely

So, I had a goal to run 63 miles in the month of October. On October 31, I met the goal. In fact, I went over it by a quarter of a mile.

Next month, the goal is to do 75 miles. As of today, 1 down - 74 to go...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Death by Triathlon?

Before bringing this up, it's important to note that dying during a triathlon is very, very rare.

This year, however, there was some buzz about it after someone died in the New York City Triathlon and The New York Times wrote a story about it.

Most recently, Beginner Triathlete (BT) published a really good article on it, prompted, I assume, from the questions asked late this summer after the news story.

Here is the BT story.

Here is The New York Times story.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

My 5K Report

There were approximately 400 competitors at my 5K yesterday. It was at the University of Dayton and a lot of the runners were college students and parents.

I assumed that parts of this course would be hilly because UD sits on top of a hill, but I was surprised by just how many were. There were very few, if any, flat areas.

All of my training on hills these past few months paid off yesterday. Besides stopping for a sip of water once, I did not have to stop and walk because it was too tough.

I finished it in 31:17. I wanted to come in under 30 minutes, but given how much the course was graded, I'm not disappointed.

I decide to stick around for the awards, something I didn't do in my 2 triathlons because I KNEW I was in the back of the pack. They were only announcing first place winners overall and within age groups, so I knew I wouldn't place first and, therefore, not get any award. But I was enjoying my Panera Bread cinnamon bagel and had nowhere else to be.

They got to my age group and announced the first place male. Then they announced the first place female and - it was ME!

My prize? I got a really nice red UD baseball cap and a sweet way to end my 2008 racing season.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Published Me

Well, Beginner Triathlete published my article about my first tri today. Be sure to check it out. Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm Registered - For a 5K That Is

A couple days ago, I registered for a 5K. It will take place next Saturday, the 25th.

It's funny how a 5K used to be so intimidating to me. Now, having done a 5k after having swum 1/2 a mile and after having biked for 12 miles, this single event seems like a piece of cake.

I can't believe that I'm looking forward to a 5K as an easy, relaxing race. Life is so funny.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Ran 4 Mi-als, I Ran 4 Mi-als

I ran my longest run yet yesterday morning: 4 miles.

Though this was my longest distance, it was the most enjoyable run I've ever had. Weird, huh?

I don't know if it was the crisp, morning air or having water with me on this run, but I just felt great.

When I started, I wanted to keep my time around 42 to 43 minutes. I came in at 42:25.

I love triathlon training!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Taking My Own Advice

I've given some advice to a couple people over the last few days. They were stuck in a motivational slump of sorts. Basically, my advice was to not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

It's so easy to look ahead at what all we need to do and get overwhelmed, frustrated and discouraged.

For example, I haven't run in the last few days because of a pinched back and rainy weather. I'm running about 3.5 - 3.75 miles now, and starting back into my routine with such a long run as my goal was discouraging to me.

So, I decided to just run 2 miles and to have fun. I just needed to "do it," to just put on my running shoes and go.

I'm so glad I did. I had my best time on a 2-mile run at about a 9 min./mile pace. A "perfect" run would have been going my longest distance, but I couldn't let the ideal run be the enemy of a "good" run.

Doing a little bit of something is better than doing nothing at all. It's all about just taking a step - any sized step - in the right direction.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What's a "Chi" and Why is it Running?

Some of you may notice a link on here to a Web site called ChiRunning. If you want to run better, and pain-free, you have to check this out.


I was skeptical when I heard about it, too, but about a year ago, I decided to pick up running. This was right before triathlons got on my radar screen. I started out running a half-mile and then worked up to one mile. The trouble is, my knees started to really hurt - again.

In fact, I decided to take a break from running and work on building leg strength for a few months. If the muscles surrounding my knees were strong, my knees wouldn't be so weak and, therefore, as able to be injured.

Meanwhile, I got interested in triathlons. I read a swimming book, Total Immersion (TI), and just fell in love with the theories behind the author, Terry Laughlin's, techniques. At the end of his book, he recommended ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer.

Soon thereafter, I got a copy from the library. I read it in one day.

I won't go into all of the details about the mechanics of it. It would take a book to explain and Dryer's already written it, but basically it's about falling into your run instead of forcing yourself to run.

Here's a short video of Danny Dreyer, the creator of ChiRunning, explaining the difference between ChiRunning and typical running.

I can say that since running this way since April, I have experienced no knee pain during or after running - none!

If you're tired of your running causing you pain, it is definitely worth your time to check out the book and/or DVD. It may end up not being for you - but what if it is?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Running Surprises

When I first started running to try to get in shape at the end of last summer, I started out just doing a half mile - and wanting to die after I was done. I remember parking at one end of the parking lot at the lake, running to the end and then back to my SUV, scrambling for my bottled water that was inside. I was soooooo out of breath.

Today, I ran my longest distance to date: 3.6 miles. For some reason, today it really hit me that I can - and do - do this on a regular basis. As I was running, I was thinking, "I can't believe that I've already run 2 miles and that's just a little over halfway there. I can't believe my goal is almost 4 miles."

Since I'm not in a position to swim until the winter, I've decided to use that time and focus on running, my best sport of the three at this point. I'm doing a 5K in a few weeks and I'd like to do it under 30 minutes.

My new running goal? I want to do a half-marathon in May of 2009!

(Lord, help me!)

Friday, October 3, 2008

125 Miles in October?

I am insane...

So, I registered on the local tri club's forum. You have to sign up on it to even view it, so this does not mean that I have actually joined the club. This is an important distinction. Well, they started a challenge to run 125 miles in October and yours truly signed-up for it!

To put things in perspective, I did 47 miles in September.

Currently, I run about 3 days a week and I want to run at least 6, so I thought this would be a great motivator to get out there.

On the third day of October, I've done 2 miles. I plan on doing 4.25 or 4.5 miles today, but I'm still behind.

I love challenges because I have a history of pushing myself to meet them, so I'll be sure to post again on how things are going this time around.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Personal Record on My 3 Mile Run

During my tri two weekends ago, it took me a little over 33 minutes to do 3 miles. Last week, during training, I ran 3.35 miles in a little over 36 minutes.

Yesterday, during training, I ran 3 miles in a little over 28 minutes, a personal record for me. What is even more interesting about that time is that I actually walked 2 minutes of it.

Now, I have learned that one's pace improves when he runs in cooler temperatures. I "talked" with some other folks on BT who have experienced the same thing, so I do believe that the improvement in my pace yesterday is 95% the result of better weather conditions. The remainder I will attribute to just simply getting better.

I don't know whether I should be happy or sad about this.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Sad Adieu to Swimming

Well, I'm now in a position where I won't be swimming at all. My sister-in-law's pool is closed and the weather's too cold to go swimming in the lake.

Unless there are a few days coming up that are super unseasonably warm, it looks like it's just running and biking for me.

Now, the good news is that I do plan on joining the Y this winter. My goal then will be to swim at least 3 times a week. I want to get much faster by April.

I've also decided to refocus on strength training. Having gone through one season without doing any at all makes me realize its value. It just has a wonderful way of sharpening how my body feels. I need that.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another Stupid Video?

You betcha.

Here's a video of the pics taken from the Toyota Challenge. This video does include more pics than were added in my last post, so you will see something new. Be sure to check out my race report, though.

I know it's very similar to the video from my last/first tri, but I wanted to get it finished quickly and it was easy to put together.

I've told Gary he doesn't have to go to anymore tris (except my Ironman in 3 years, of course), so it is incredibly doubtful that I'll have as many pictures next year, so I'm savoring the time now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Toyota Challenge Triathlon

I completed my second triathlon Sunday, the 14th. What a day!

The Swim (.6 mile)
I was really nervous about the swim. Gary was with me on the shoreline and he noticed my unusual broodiness. He said, "Honey, if you're dreading this and it's not fun for you, don't do it. If it is fun, go out there and have fun." That advice would help me later on.

Waiting to start the swim.

It just seems to take me a few minutes to find a good groove. I was hoping that warming up beforehand would help but it didn't. I did the final and third wave of the Sprint race. It was an all female wave. By the time I just started to find my groove, the girls were many yards ahead of me.

A minute or so later, I heard splashing behind me and it was the men from the Mini (Olympic distance race) heading my way. "Crap!" I told myself. I knew there'd be no way I was going to swim fast enough to get out of their way without killing my groove and running completely out of breath, so I decided to just keep swimming and just kind of tread until they got out of my way.

My biggest, biggest fear about going into the swim was getting bumped and kicked to death - literally - but it wasn't that bad. (I may have bumped into someone once during my first tri.) I did get bumped a lot, but no one kicked or hit me hard. Now that I've endured that, I won't be as afraid of the swim next time.

Compared to my first race where I had the guidance of another competitor throughout the swim, I was completely on my own. That was really okay this time. I was ready for this. I wanted to be left alone.

I didn't even try to take the standard advice to "just swim to the next bouy." I was just enjoying the fact that I was swimming - really swimming - and that it was a pleasurable experience. I was just going to "have fun." Before I knew it, I was almost at the final turn before the turnback.
(I came in 197/197 on the swim).

Me on the left approaching the last bouy.

Coming out of the water.
THE BIKE (12 miles)

Leaving Transition Area to bike.

The headwind on the bike was a beast. It was easily 20-30 mph. Later on that night, pretty much the whole state of Ohio's electricity would be out because of winds from Hurricane Ike up to 70 mph. Mother Nature was giving us a taste of what was to come that morning. Thanks for the preview, Mother Nature!

Once I changed directions and the headwind was gone, I went much faster. I kept on getting passed by people doing the Half Ironman. I saw no one from the Sprint. Why should I? I was the last one out of the swim and everyone else was probably done with the bike. Unlike my last race, I passed no one - no one! Three people that passed me told me I was looking good and to keep up the good work, or something along those lines. That was really cool.
(I came in 186/197 on the bike.)

Finishing up the bike.

THE RUN (3.1 miles)

Leaving Transition Area to run.

I'm pretty pleased with my run time against the others. This was my best event as I came in 141 out of 197. I thought I was moving much slower, but my pace was pretty consistent with my training. I was very pleased that the swim and bike didn't wear me out enough to mess with my running pace.

As I was approaching the finish line, there were two guys in front of me who crossed it pretty much the same time. The announcer called their names. I was excited that that would happen for me. Throughout this whole race, you're just a number, a face in the crowd. To be called by name, above all places at the finish line, really helps personalize your accomplishment.
(I came in 141/197 on the run.)


Me and my finisher's medal.
So, how'd I do? 197 people started the race. Two dropped out after the swim, so technically I came in 195/197! :) This just makes me laugh. For not coming from any of these sports, I'm very pleased. Plus, this is one of the most competitive races of the year from what I hear. I also came in under my goal of 2.5 hours at 2:25:58.
So, while coming in pretty much dead last makes me laugh - for now - I am a competitive person and I'm training today to move up in those rankings!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My First Tri Suit

I had the opportunity to buy a tri suit yesterday. (Well, I think technically it's not a suit as it's not a one-piece, but that's what I'll call it for now.) What's perfect about a tri suit is being able to wear it during all three events. This saves you from having to change clothes at every transition.
They're quick-drying so you won't stay wet for long after your swim; they have a nice little chamois pad for your bike ride and no material is blowing in the wind while you run.

Here's a link to the shirt I got: I got the Glory Blue color.

Here's a link to the shorts I got: I got the Black color.

I was so worried the shorts would show every flaw. The last time I wore anything like that was when spandex shorts were cool to wear in junior high. No one - no one - looked good in them.

I was very pleased with how well-hidden flaws were kept in these things. I mean, very pleased. Ladies, you know of what I speak.

I felt like I'd put on my superhero costume or something. How fun!

So, tomorrow's the big day and I can't wait to wear it! I'll have a full report as soon as I can.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Confirming Swim

Today, I went to the Y to swim. I've been doing all of my swim training in my sister-in-law's pool, with the exception of a few open water swims. (Thank you so much, Ann and Robin!) From one end to the other and back is 74 feet, so say 25 yards.

But I just wanted to make absolutely sure that I had not calculated that all wrong somehow. It would be a very Lora-thing to calculate my distance, only to have later realized I forgot to add something to my equation and I had been swimming less (or more) than I thought all of that time.

So, I wanted to get a precise measurement. My awesome friend Becky let me in to the pool today. She's the aquatics director at the Y. Thank you, Becky!

Turns out, it was very consistent with what I'd been swimming. I remember back in December when I was taking a competitive swimming class with Becky, struggling to even get to 100. Today, I did 900 and I could have done more if I wanted.

Fact #1: I can swim 900 yards.

Fact #2: I can swim 900 yards without killing myself if I just relax and take it easy.

Fact #3: It is critical to keep Fact #2 in mind at my tri Sunday.

My new facts of life are pretty cool indeed.

I'm Registered

Friday night, I finally registered for the Toyota Challenge. At my last/first tri, I wasn't nervous, really, until that morning. Today...I'm kind of nervous.

I think the reason is because now I know exactly what I'm getting into, whereas before, I just had a general understanding of what it would be like.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Better Than I'd Anticipated...But

So, my last tri had a 400 yard swim. It took me 27 minutes to complete it and I thought that event would never end.

In my current training, I shoot for completing 900 yards as that's the distance of my next try on September 14.

When I get to 400 yards, I look at my heart rate monitor and I'm at about 17 minutes. This means that I'm now doing that same distance in 10 minutes less. This is great news!

As I said, my next tri in a week-and-a-half is 900 yards. It's taking me about 45 minutes to finish this distance. This is also great news because a few weeks ago I didn't think I'd be able to even go the distance.

However, I cannot rest on my laurels. There will be things at the tri that will add to the challenge. I'll be swimming with women and men and I expect to get hit quite a lot. This will also create a lot of waves and will interfere with my rhythm and my ability to breathe well.

But the good news is I can go the distance - and a few weeks ago I didn't think I'd be able to in such a short amount of time.

I love triathlons.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Nutrition Schmutrition?

About 3 weeks ago, I decided to start logging what I eat again. I've done this a couple times for a few months before and it's so insightful.

Beginner Triathlete has a really great feature where you can pull from its library of foods and log what you eat. I really like this feature, but I find it too time consuming to try to search for everything that I need.

So, I decided to create a spreadsheet which describes what I ate, what time I ate, how many servings I ate and how many fat grams and calories were in each meal. I try to keep it between 1,200 and 1,500 calories.

I'm one of those people who believe that I should be able to eat anything I want, just in moderation. So, if I've had a lighter breakfast and lunch one day, I can afford to go to McDonald's and eat 2 hamburgers for dinner that night. I don't worry about protein, carbs and hardly fat, to be honest. I just focus on the cals.

I think the conventional triathlete wisdom is having your diet be 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. (I really should just look that up.) What I'm realizing, as I'm doing the most intense working-out of my life, is that I really do need to pay attention to these elements.

My stress level is low, I get 8 or more hours of sleep a night and I'm not overweight. Yet I do feel fatigued a little more than usual. It's not much, just a tad. I hope that by taking a closer look at my nutrition, I can begin to address this.

So, I think I'm going to start using Beginner Triathlete's logging feature, because it will tally how much protein, fat and carbs I consume and this is exactly the information I believe I need to keep healthy.

Oh, plus, I really need to start incorporating some strength training. That will help as well.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Subtle Wear-Out From Swimming

I've had 2 really great swims this week. One was a nice open water swim (OWS) and the other was a fairly fast-paced swim in my sister-in-law's pool.

Because I hadn't done much swimming the week before, I was really looking forward to a hot Saturday and Sunday this weekend. (I get cold so easily.) So, with excitement, Gary and I went out to the lake.

A little background: I had gone to bed at 11:30 p.m. last night and slept in until 9:30 a.m., getting an extra hour, hour-and-a-half of sleep. I was still tired by the time the evening rolled around, but I was so excited about the opportunity to get in an OWS that I convinced myself that I wasn't as tired as I thought I was.


Right into my swim, I knew I should have listened to my body. I was really thirsty right into it and very tired a couple minutes later. Usually after a couple of minutes warming up, I'm ready to find my groove. Today, I couldn't have cared less about finding my groove or anything close to it. I wanted to find my way to shore.

So, while I only swam 13 minutes, I did take away some lessons. I need to listen more carefully to my body. I'm so afraid of coming off to myself like I'm making excuses, but I can't let that pride detract from what my body is really telling me. I also learned that I need to better hydrate before training. It was definitely an interesting day.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

And the Answer is...

...I'm going for the longer swim triathlon. Here's why:
  • Though I'm dreading the 1/2 mile swim, I've still got 4 weeks to train for it.
  • I have improved in swimming since my last tri.
  • I've decided to buy a wetsuit. Swimming with the wetsuit will give me an extra level of comfort and safety.
  • This triathlon is so much closer to home which means Gary will probably come. Plus, he'll take pictures. We might even be able to bring the boys.
  • The bike is 12 miles which is the same as my first one. The other tri has a 7 mile bike.
  • The run is 3 miles which is 1 mile more than my first one. I'm excited about training to build up to running 3 miles instead of 2.

I mean, I could change my mind in a couple weeks, but, as of today, these are my plans.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"Falling" for a Change

Fall is - without a doubt - my favorite season. October, my favorite month.

I love how the crisp, bright blue sky rests quietly and colorfully above the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows of the trees below, as if it were finally on a well-deserved vacation.

When the wind blows in the Fall, it even smells differently to me, and the lack of humidity changes how it feels when it meets my skin. It's somehow softer, though it is cooler.

I love bidding farewell to Summer's humidity and to the bees I believe are trying to sting me at every corner. I love the cooler temperatures Fall brings and, with it, the ability to wear a light jacket on a cool evening.

The last couple of days, it has been in the upper 70s and lower 80s. In the night, it has been in the 50s. This, to me, is perfect weather. I can open the windows throughout my house and let nature keep us cool instead of the AC.

However, as Fall begins edging its way into fullness, I find myself not as embracing of this change. Why? Because this means, for sure, that it will be colder in the pools and the lakes which means my time training to swim will be less; mostly because I cannot tolerate cold water temperatures.

All of nature's hints that Fall will soon be here for me to enjoy, now signal to me that Fall will soon be here to interfere with my new love: triathlon training.

Hmm. I guess if I had a membership to the Y, all of this wouldn't matter and Fall and I could become great friends again.

I guess I should go ahead and get that wesuit, afterall.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wheels or Wetsuit?

I'm trying to decide what to do. I could buy a nice, new road bike which will really help me bike a little faster. Plus, the bike I'm using is a friend's who will want it back and I really need my own.

I will, however, probably need a wetsuit for one of the two tris I'm considering in September. One BTer posted that the water was freezing last year. I don't want to freeze.

I found a really, really great deal on a wetsuit and it would only take up one quarter of my tri budget. With the remaining dollars, I could buy a good pair of tri shorts and a nice tri top. These are really great outfits because you can swim in them, bike in them and then run in them. Going through the clothing changes during my last tri made me appreciate the need for them.

I just don't know what I'm going to do.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

To Swim - to Really Swim - Is Beautiful

Gary and I went out to the lake for my OWS Friday evening. The first half seemed a struggle; I just could not get a hold of my breathing. Even though I told myself not to be, I think, subconsciously, I was afraid of my surroundings. Once I realized I was doing this and could really relax, things started to take great shape.

According to the Total Immersion method of swimming, you must keep your bicep stiff and your forearm limp as it comes up out of the water and before it slices back in. This is something I've focused on the last couple of swims and really got the hang of it today.

As always, this brings me to a new dilemma. When my hand enters the water, it seems to be doing so at a 90-degree angle. I don't know if that's problematic, but I can say that, at this point, regardless of whether it's improper or not, I'm swimming better.

I also focused on making sure that that same arm is continuously moving. One thing I noticed about my swim, which was holding me back, was that I would pause for a moment or two after switching arms so my entry-arm was just kind of hanging out. Once I focused on keeping it moving, my swim improved as did my confidence.

So, once I relaxed and focused on keeping my entry-arm moving continuously, I swam for quite a while with no stopping. It was absolutely the most peaceful time I've ever had in the water. What a day.

P.S. Oh, and we came back home and I biked for 12 miles.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

So, I Didn't Win the Bike...

Beginner Triathlete drew for the winner of its bike raffle. I didn't win (sigh...), but here's a link to the blog of the lady who did. Congratulations again, Carol.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Weight Loss, Confidence Gain

This is one of the forums on Beginner Triathlete As I've said before, if you're interested in triathlons, you absolutely MUST get plugged in here. Join a mentor group, a challenge or a weight loss challenge to start "meeting" people and to get great information on the sport.

This is a "before and after" forum, where some of the people on BT posted pics of what they looked like before training for tris and what they look like now.

If you are reading my blog thinking that you're too overweight to ever do a triathlon, let me be clear: No, you are not! If you want it, it's yours. Let these folks on BT inspire you. They certainly have me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Go Away, "Groggy!"

Pretty much everyone is tired in the morning. I'm no exception. I'm one of those people who likes being up in the morning, but I don't like getting up in the morning. I sleep with the alarm not set more than set.

So, because I'd been so tired lately, I decided to just sleep in until my body woke me up. It woke me up at 9:00 a.m. After a few minutes, and especially after a few, comforting sips of coffee, I'm typically awake. This morning, and all throughout my day, I just could not shake the grogginess. I'm also recovering from some earache and sore jaw combo (I don't know how triathlon training could've caused that one!) and my stomache's been a little irritable lately.

I even tried to take a nap but Slumber was not putting out its welcome mat. I made plans to go for a slow, short walk with my friend, Becky, but after dinner, I started feeling crappy again so I didn't go. I've also had watery eyes and a runny nose all day. Gary thinks it's allergies. He's probably right so I'll be grabbing the Veramyst before I go to bed.

I soooo wanted to at least get in a swim today, but my body was begging me for a break - so I obliged. No training for me at all yet this week. My mind is in the pool and on the pavement, but my body's on the couch watching nothing on TV.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Training Mistake

I knew before I started I shouldn't. It was Sunday evening, about 8:00 p.m. Gary and I had just gotten back from Frisch's where I had a chicken alfredo dish. I hadn't trained since Friday because of a stiff neck and I was itching to do something. It would be dark soon, so that meant I had to go as soon as we got home from the restaurant.

I decided to go for a 2 mile run. About a quarter mile into it, I started feeling bloated, but I pressed on. I made it through the run OK, but because my stomach was tight, this messed with my form as I couldn't keep the ChiRunning posture. I ended up walking the last couple minutes of my run. Obviously, I did more than a 10-minute mile.

I woke up in the middle of the night sick. I'm better now as I write this, but I should have listened to my body instead of forcing it.

Well, it was a lesson learned and today is a new day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Surprisingly Good Swim

I went swimming yesterday in Ann's pool. Taking a few-day break from swimming really gave me a great opportunity to get a fresh look at my form.

Today, I decided to just take my time and swim 750 yards, the distance of the race I want to do on 9/16. When I got to 400 yards, I looked at my time and it was about 20 minutes. During my tri on 6/28, I finished 400 yards in 27 minutes so this was good. It took me 34 minutes to complete my 750 yard goal.

I've learned many things about what I'm doing wrong with my form, and I won't bore you with the details, but this was the most interesting thing to date: I was winded during this swim, but it was a consistent windedness. Like, when I would stop to turn around I was fairly breathless, but I decided to push on. Pushing on in my fairly breathless state - if I kept the same pace - did not increase my breathlessness!

I'd been afraid that if I did this I would become so out of breath that I'd have to stop. This is really super cool and majorly encouraging!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A TRUE Open Water Swim

Gary went to the lake with me yesterday. We went to a different beach where the water's deeper. This is helpful because that's how it will be on race day and if there's one thing I've learned about triathlons it's "train like you'll be racing."

I would never go to the lake to swim alone, even with other people there, but more than just a swim-buddy, it was great having Gary there. He's a no-nonsense kind of guy, and I can kind of get stuck in taking baby steps when my steps could really be much bigger.

He's like, "Just swim. Stop thinking about swimming and just swim from here to this buoy to start."

Once I got relaxed, I was able to do it. I think I swam freestyle more today in training today than I did on race day. Training in Ann's pool the last couple weeks really helped me take it to the lake. I'm definitely seeing improvement already, but I have a long way to go.

I'm going to call the Park Office tomorrow to see if anyone knows how far apart the buoys are placed. That will undoubtedly be the weirdest question they'll have received, but I'm an expert at asking weird questions and if I get my answer, who cares?

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Smells That Linger

One of the great things about riding a bike along the highway is that when you pass by honeysuckle, the wonderful fragrance lasts longer than if you'd just ridden by in a car.

By the same token, the pungent smell of roadkill does the same.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What a Way to be Humbled

I had actually seen this video on the Ironman's website a few months ago. It was a little different and actually had interviews with the father and son. It was moving then.

A couple days ago, this came to me in a forward. Read the story and then click on the link to watch the video. As someone who wants to do an Ironman someday (2010?) and who has just gotten into the sport, it makes my accomplishments pale in comparison.

Here's the text of the e-mail:
The son asked his father, "Dad, will you take part in a marathon with me?"

The father who, despite having a heart condition, said, "Yes." They went on to complete the marathon together. Father and son went on to do other marathons, the father always saying "Yes" to his son's request of going through the race together.

One day, the son asked his father, "Dad, let's do the Ironman together."

To which, his father said, "Yes."

For those who don't know, Ironman is the toughest triathlon ever. The race encompasses three endurance events of a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and ends with a 26.2 mile marathon.

Father and son went on to complete the race together. View this race at:

Friday, July 11, 2008

Another Video

(Adjust your volume before hitting Play)

I am an active member of This is where I get 95% of my information and where I log and track my training and races. If you're interested in triathlons, you must go there.

Well, they are having a raffle to win a new bike, this new bike:

To be eligible for the raffle, you have to make a video about yourself and post it in your profile. So, that's what I did.

With all that work going into it, I decided to post it here, too. It's really, really cheesy and these are the only pictures I've got of myself on my computer, but I hope you enjoy. Be sure to scroll down to 6/28/08 to watch the video about my first triathlon if you haven't already.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Trophy

So, Gary leaves to go to the post office a couple days ago, but he takes longer than usual. I don't think anything of it. He then goes out later to get some Pepsi.

As he walks from the garage through the kitchen, I see him carrying a trophy. At first I thought he was bringing in one of his from the barn from high school. But something else he has in his hand clues me in otherwise. He is carrying a card.

I said, "What did you do?" but I already knew the answer. I didn't place in my triathlon, so I didn't get any awards. He went out and got me a trophy that reads: "Lora Abernathy, 2008 Triathlete." How sweet is that?

The card congratulated me for defying the odds. How sweet is that?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

One Week After

About this time, one week ago, Gary and I were just about to walk into the house after driving back from my tri. I can't believe it's been a week. It feels like yesterday.

I'm still deciding on which tri to do in September. This one is in Akron, 3 hours away. Since my friend Becky is out with injuries this season (boo), she probably won't be able to go with me and that means I'd go by myself. I'd just make it into a nice little "me" trip which could be fun.

The pros are that it's a shorter swim (250 yards) than the one I just did (440 yards), the bike is shorter (7 miles) than the one I just did (12 miles) and the run is the same. Plus, it's a women's only which helps take down the intimidation level.

The cons are that it's 3 hours away, the bike is shorter (7 miles seems too easy now that I've been training for 12) and the run is the same. Plus, Gary won't be able to come.

The other one is about 45 minutes away.
The pros are that the bike will be 12 miles and the run is one mile longer (3 miles) than the one I just did (2 miles). It's close to home, Gary said he might even come (even though I told him he never has to go to another one) and they even have race packet pick-up the day before so I wouldn't have to get up so early the day of. Oh, and I could go up one day beforehand and ride the course to be familiar with it already.

The cons are the swim is a half-mile, and I just barely made it through a quarter mile, and it's co-ed.

Well, having listed that all out, it sounds like I just need to swim, swim, swim, swim, swim 'cause the last one definitely has the most pros. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Couple Days Since

Wow! Yesterday, after having gotten much rest, it sank in a little more about what I had just done on Saturday. I am so excited I am ready to burst at the seams.

I knew that completing a triathlon was a big deal, that it would bring a major sense of accomplishment, yada yada yada. I was not prepared for the overwhelming pride and joy I would feel. Sigh...

Here's a link to the race results. They list them overall and then on another page break them down according to age groups.

I was 207 out of 217. Having come from none of these sports, I'll take it!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My First Triathlon

Caution: This video has audio, so adjust your volume.

Gary and I left the house at exactly 3:00 AM. I was one of the first 5 competitors there at 5:00. I'm really glad I got there early because people were still picking up registration packets close to 6:30, when the Transition area closes. This gave me time to get settled in and prepared. I was able to get my race number (number 1, by the way) on my helmet, bike and bike/run shirt. I was one of the first to get body-marked. (They mark your race number on both arms and write your age on the back of your right calf.) I got my timing chip secured and was ready to go. (They velcro a timing chip to your right ankle. As you enter and leave each event, you cross a big mat which records your times from your chip. It's really cool.)

About 6:45 AM, they played the National Anthem. Next, they said a prayer. I couldn't believe it. Good for them.

The wind was blowing quite a bit and I thought for sure the water would be freezing. It actually was not bad at all. This would be the least of my worries...

THE SWIM (.25 mile) (27 minutes)
Numbers 1-30 were the first to go in, so that was me. I got about a minute into it and, despite telling myself not to for months, I panicked. I could not get my breath. I said, "I can't do this, I can't do this." A sweet and confident voice close by replied, "Sure you can, honey. You can swim with me. I'm a slow swimmer. C'mon. You can do this." This older-than-me lady, #22, was a God-send. She was with me and a few others the entire way, letting us know if we were going out too far or in too close.

About halfway through, others were shouting, "We're almost done!" My heart sank because I was thinking, "Shouldn't we BE there NOW?" This was taking forever! I prayed for the Lord to get me through.

Look, I knew I wasn't going to drown. My legs were surprisingly only a little tired and I knew if I just relaxed and took my time I'd get through this. I should have bought some anti-fog stuff for my goggles because they were fogging toward the end, which just added to the helplessness I felt.

As we got close to shore, about 25 minutes later, #22 grabbed my hand and we came out of the water together. Thank God for her! I don't know if I were in her position if I would have been so willing to go so beyond a few words of encouragement and really look after and guide my competitors. I will never, ever, ever forget her kindness. Her selflessness has humbled me beyond words.

Gary was right there on the beach taking my picture as I finished. What a sight for sore eyes. He had been really worried about me because I wasn't with my wave. He would tell me on the drive back that some people had to quit the swim early.

TRANSITION 1 (3 minutes/30 seconds)
This went pretty smoothly, though I'm surprised it took so long.

THE BIKE (12 miles) (1 hour/4 seconds)
Coming from that swim, I had never been more relieved to get on a bike. Very soon into it, I started getting passed. I knew this would happen, especially given that I'm a beginner, but what surprised me the most was that there were still that many people behind me from the swim. I know some started in later waves, but I went really slowly on that swim!

What's great about this sport is that there were women who were bigger than me, and there were women who were older than me passing me. Good for them. Halfway through I was in a position to pass this one lady. I told her, "Good job," etc. She said she was slowing down to wait on a friend. I thought, "Well, of course she is. The one person I'll end up passing is someone who was intentionally going slow!"

The bike training really paid off. I finished this up in just almost exactly an hour. There was a pretty strong head wind the last few miles. The last 3-5 miles, I started passing people who had passed me which was kind of nice. Good for me.

TRANSITION 2 (1 minutes/45 seconds)
This went faster than T1. It felt great to put on my running shoes and ballcap because this meant I'd soon be done.

THE RUN (2 miles) (24 minutes/56 seconds)
My legs were so heavy the first .5 mile, having come off the bike, but they did start to feel lighter eventually. The first and last parts of the run were on a sidewalk. The middle section was through a trail in the woods. There were some seriously big mud puddles I had no choice but to stop running and walk to get around.

Another competitor caught up to me and we walked the last quarter of the first mile. I remembered her from the bike. She was one who had passed me but who I ended up passing at the end. I do regret not running more because it really added a lot of time to my event, but it was nice to relax a few minutes.

When I reached the end of mile 1, I ran the whole second mile back. When I hit the sidewalk part of the run back, a volunteer was there saying, "Just four-tenths of a mile to go." Four-tenths of a mile? That's a snap!

As I was coming around the last bend, the announcer said, "And here comes Lora Abernathy" and some other words I couldn't make out. I was busy looking for Gary and I spotted him. He was standing a few feet in front of the finish line ready to take my pic.

I crossed the finish line and mat and a volunteer took off my timing chip and placed it in a box with the others. The box was pretty full already. :-)

Gary and I met on the other side of the finish line and hugged. He said, "I have never been more proud of you." I'm really glad he said that.

I went to the Transition area and just threw all of my stuff in my bag. Gary took my bike and put it in the SUV and I took my bag to check out the preliminary results. At that point, I had come in 39th out of my age group (30-34). Clearly, I hadn't placed in the top 3, so I wasn't going to stick around for the awards.

The final results on the website show that there were 217 competitors and I came in 207. There were 42 in my age group and I came in 40. I did the entire event, including Transition times, in one hour, 57 minutes and 15 seconds. I figured it would take me about 2 hours so I actually came in under my goal. Of course, my true goal was just to finish the thing.

They assigned numbers alphabetically, so that's how I got the number 1. So when people spotted my number they would say, "Hey, number 1" or "Hey, there's number 1. Yay." It was kind of like being an event celebrity. That was the only way that was going to happen unless I'd have been the girl who drowned that day. :-)

This event was extremely well-organized. They had plenty of volunteers stationed at different points on the routes cheering you on. Though the swim was first, this is what made the swim feel so lonely. Other than #22 and some others (I don't know if they were the same ones throughout) in my general area, no one from the event was close by. I couldn't even spot the lifeguards (though I wasn't really looking for them). Very lonely swim indeed.

The big question: Will I do this again? The answer is...uuummm...definitely! When I got home - after a long nap - I checked out some on my potential list spreadsheet I created back in January. There's one in Akron with a 250 yard swim (the one I just did was 440), a 7 mile bike and a 2 mile run. The second one I had planned on doing until today is in Mt. Sterling but it's a half-mile swim. As I sit here today, there is no way I would double the swim I just barely did today. Gary said I just need to train for the swim even harder over the next two months and do that one. He's probably right.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Deep Breath Before the Plunge

OK, The Lord of the Rings fans, this is how I feel:

You know in The Return of the King, when Pippin and Gandolf are looking over the balcony the night before the big battle, watching Mordor explode in the distance with a rageful light? Yes? OK, good.

Pippin says to Gandolf: "I don't want to be in a battle; but waiting on the edge of one I can't escape is even worse."

Gandolf replies, "It's the deep breath before the plunge."

I feel like Pippin. Of course, the difference is I could escape my battle tomorrow. I could just not show up, but I won't do that, so there is, indeed, no escape and my analogy is intact.


I practiced going through the transitions this afternoon. It took me 1m: 44s to change from the swim to the bike. It took me 1m: 6s to change from the bike to the run.

I'm heading off to nap now. Maybe I'll get some sleep tonight. Stay tuned for the full report and pictures! Thanks, everyone.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Night Before the Night Before

I went to Ann's to swim this afternoon and I practiced Total Immerson's Overswitch drills. I focused on slicing my moving hand in the water at the front. At that very moment, the front hand begins its move to the rear. I did a few strokes and then rolled on my back to breathe. It felt really good to feel my torso rotate as I moved my arms this way. I cannot believe the forward movement I got from swimming this way. Wow!

Gary and I will be leaving the house at 3:00 AM Saturday to get to registration which begins at 5:00 AM. We totally don't get why they have to start these things so early (7:00 AM). I mean, it's not like it's an Ironman which would take all day.

I'm more nervous about making sure I will have brought everything and that I get set-up in time than I am nervous about the three events.

Tomorrow I'll practice changing clothes and gear from the swim to the bike [Transition 1 (T1)] to the bike to the run [Transition 2 (T2)]. I was thinking of going to the Y, but today was a good day, it wore me out and I absoluely have to rest tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

First Open Water Swim

Gary went with me to the lake this evening so I could do my first open water swim (OWS). There were probably 30 other people at the beach, but I needed someone to keep an eye on me.

The other triathletes (those on say to at least get in an OWS once before your first tri, because it is a completely different experience from swimming in a pool.

Before I went, I was feeling apprehensive about the swim part of the race, in particular whether it would be required to wear a wetsuit (got no return phone calls from the race event people :( ) or whether I needed one based on my experience. I'm not saying that I have no apprehensions at all now, but I feel so much better about the swim portion.

(Wetsuits are typically required if it's under 74 degrees because they help keep you warm. The forecast for Saturday is 82 but that's the high. At 7:00 AM, it could be on that 74 degree edge.)

What's really unique about this race is that you can stand up at any point, you just can't walk it, of course. That makes me feel better about it.

My only mistake for this swim? Forgetting my nose plugs. Yes, I use noseplugs. I mean, I can suck in a lot of water during my swim or I can suck in a little. I choose a little!

I will go to the Y tomorrow for some more practice and I may run tomorrow evening. After that, I must do nothing more before the race on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Big Brick

This morning, I biked 13 miles again. The last time I did 13 miles, I did it in about an hour and 17 minutes. Today, I did it in about an hour and 9 minutes, shaving off a nice 8 minutes from my time. Though, I actually tried to go faster this time whereas this last time I was just trying to make it through. I had been getting off my bike 3-5 times because of hills. Today, I got off once.

I got done with my biking, came back in the house, drank a bottle of water, switched to my running shoes and shorts and traded my bike helmet in for a ballcap. I then headed out the door for my 2 mile run. To my surprise, running after biking 13 miles was not that much different than running after biking 2.5 miles. My 2 miles took me about 20 minutes. When I started the uphill climb on my second mile, I thought for sure completing this run would take me so much longer, but it didn't.

Wednesday, I'll do another brick, though I'll just do a 6 mile bike and a 1 mile run, so I can taper off.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ready or Not, Here Comes the Last Training

Tomorrow I will get up early (7:00 AM) and do a bike/run brick. Hopefully, I'll be done by 9:30 and then I will start my work day.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

First Tri in 6 Days

My first triathlon is in 6 days. It's a quarter mile swim, a 12 mile bike and a 2 mile run. Just 2 days ago, I biked 13 miles for what was easily the longest ride in my entire life.

Just 6 days before that, I biked 7 miles for what was - at that time - easily the longest ride in my entire life.

It's smart to increase just a little bit more with every few sessions, but I just don't have that kind of time.

I've done a really bad job of training with regard to biking and swimming. Not getting my bike functioning sooner and not getting a Y membership have hampered my ability to train in those sports.

On the positive side, my running has gone really well. I'm at about a 10 minute mile and I owe it all to ChiRunning. Bad knees were keeping from running, but I run knee-pain free now; plus I exert less energy which helps.

I'll be doing at least one brick this week (biking and then immediately following up with a run). I'll do an open water swim out at the lake, too, to acquaint myself with this aspect of the race.

Swimming? Worse comes to worse, I can always backstroke the thing.

How am I feeling? I typically don't get butterflies until right before the event. The reality of what I'll be doing, though, has sunk in and I'm excited and a little anxious. I've been wanting to do a tri for 9 months and now the time is here. I just can't believe I'll be doing this.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why I Do Tris

It was around September 2007. Chef Rocco DiSpirito was doing a segment on The Today Show. I hadn't seen him since his American Express commercials and he looked different. He was never what one would describe as overweight, but he had clearly shed some pounds and looked so trim.

Host Ann Curry agreed with my impression as she asked him what he had been doing. He replied, "Triathlons."

What? How random is that?

Rocco then stated something that gave me hope. He continued that approximately 10% of the participants who compete in triathlons have disabilities. I don't have a disability, but this statistic lent credibility to the sport's accessability for an average Jane like me.

I Googled "beginner triathletes" and found a Web site called (you guessed it)

After much reading, I was hooked. Primarily because any fitness training that I could do from this point on would now have an immediate purpose.

Currently my motivation to work out is because in 30 years my bones might be stronger or in 30 years I might still not be overweight.

Now, my motivation to work out is because I need to get and stay fit to have the best body working for me to compete well in a triathlon - in a few months.

HERE'S THE KEY: The better fitness is the inevitable side effect - not the goal.

This switch in perception and motivation has made all of the difference for me and that is why I do tris.


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