Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Year to Count Time By

Saturday, I turned 36. And while the "well meaning" comments of a very few regarding my age and the multitude of risks it carries to my unborn child have occasionally sent me into a panic, for the most part, I'm pleased as punch with this phase of my life. It has most definitely been a year to count time by.

I discovered a well spring of personal strength - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual - in training for my first ever season of triathlon (and most assuredly not the last).

I made friends in person and online with an army of amazing people.

I made a significant turn on a path towards healing that I've been walking for many years. Its been so significant to me, I'm thinking of writing it all down in hopes that someone else might benefit.

I hope that I have grown as a person, a mother and a wife.

Just before the end of "my year" (Vickie posted on her birthday that we should measure our years by birthdays rather than January 1), as you know, I discovered that I have received the ultimate gift - a baby on the way!

Not many years are as eventful and full of blessings as this one has been. I pray that I have the wisdom to be truly grateful for all of these things -and for the gift of time and the chance at another day, each and every day.

On a lighter note, I also hope that work lightens up so that I can keep up with my blog and all those on my sidebar. Who ever made this "work at work" rule needs to rethink the plan!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Swim Bike Run for Two

OK, let me start off by promising that not every post for the next nine months is going to be about pregnancy. Kay? K.

That said, obviously, this effects things. All things. Notably, swim bike run things, speedy things, PR things, racing things.

I plan to stay as active as I can for as long as I can. Early yesterday morning, as in 3am, after I found out what was up and had stayed up talking to Hubby, I found I still couldn't sleep. So, I went for a run. Easy, Zone 1, 3 am 4 miler. It felt awesome. I spent the time talking to the little bit in my belly, enjoying the absolute stillness of the world at that time of day, and trying not to notice how FREAKIN' SLOW I was going. In fact, when I glanced down at the stop watch and saw it approaching the 50 min mark, well before I rounded the corner for home, I stopped and cleared the thing. So, my vow is, until the baby is born, I will no longer time my runs and bikes. Its all about heart rate from here on out, baby. A really extended base build, if you will.

This morning, I got in the pool. Warm up was OK - felt a little tired, but who doesn't at 5:00 in the morning. When I attempted the 50 yd "build" of the first set, however, my body said "No thank you." So, going fast, at least today, was just not happening. I'm really coming to the understanding that goals are going to have sort of go out the window for now. At least goals in time or miles. My goal is to keep going when I can and rest when I must. Also, I'm thinking of shooting for the Lake St. Louis sprint distance in 2008, knowing full well that things may prevent it from happening. However, having the hope of a race on the distant horizon will help me accept the current scheme of things. I can't be a speed demon now - but I will be someday. Ironman is even farther in the future - but it will still be there when I'm ready. I've got my own "Ironman" event to prepare for. Let's hope this one doesn't go three days like the last one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Very Big News

We had an awesome trip. We went to the Blair Creek Section of the Ozark Trail - rich with scenery and history.

The trail was well marked and it was usually pretty easy to find where you were on the topo.

There was plenty of water and lots of great spots to stop and rest. Which was good because twenty miles of hills is a difficult task with a full pack. I was hoping my current level of fitness would be helpful in that regard but I was inordinately exhausted through much of the trip. More on that later.

Unfortunately, all of our pictures are from the first five miles or so. The camera fell into a creek at one of the plentiful water crossings.

To the left is Missouri's only raised fen. A fen is kind of like a bog crossed with a spring.
Below are a couple of structures we saw along the trail. The first is a spring house
of some sort and the second looks like an old root cellar.
On the second day, there was an old cemetery which was really interesting. The young ages of most of its inhabitants proves how difficult life was in these mountains. It was sad to see all of the graves of babies and young children alongside their parents sometimes, who often had also died young. Makes you very thankful for the high standard of living that many of us enjoy today.
Saturday evening, after a simple but incredibly satisfying dinner, Tom presented me with a pair of beautiful pearl and diamond earrings to commemorate our second anniversary. I am such a lucky woman! My husband agreed to hike 20 hilly miles with me on our anniversary and hauled this lovely gift all the way up the mountain to surprise me.
We got off the trail Sunday evening absolutely exhausted but rejuvenated. Its a good thing we got some alone time because we were in for quite a surprise.
As I said before, I was really disappointed that my fitness earned through training didn't translate to the trail. My legs felt pretty strong but I couldn't shake the tired feeling for most of the way. That sort of sucked and I was disappointed in my body. Until this morning. Which brings me to my Very Big News.
First, the bad news : the marathon is out for this year.
The Good News: you know how I likened Lake St. Louis to giving birth to the beast I was growing my belly? Well, it looks like its time to grow another manner of beastie - of the baby variety. Yep, I have a little tri bun in the oven. No wonder I was so tired.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Into the Woods

Well, friends, Tri Hubby and I are heading out tonight for a much awaited weekend in the wilderness. I finally get to test drive the sahweet Osprey Aura pack I got for Christmas. All this pesky training has gotten in the way of backpacking. We don't really do much summer packing anyway - its really hot and humid and, well, we are wusses - so Spring and Fall are our backpacking seasons of choice. This spring I was - ah - busy. Learning to ride a bike, learning to swim and stuff and didn't feel I could afford a whole weekend away from such activities. I hereby vow that next spring I will have established a strong enough base that I can confidently take a few weekends off to play in the woods.

So, FINALLY, we go. This weekend is our anniversary which makes it extra super special (2 years of matrimonial bliss - still newlyweds) and the kids are with their respective "other parents" so we will have some privacy to - um - hike and stuff. And be Free Range Humans (can't take credit for that, I saw it in a Vasque ad this morning - love it!).

I'm also looking forward to exercising my Backpacking Rule - which is Eat Absolutely Whatever I Want With No Guilt. I've been attempting, with limited success, to buckle down a bit in my eating habits lately. See, apparently, you can't eat absolutely everything in sight even if you are training for a Super Difficult Ass Kicking Olympic Triathlon. Or, rather, you CAN, but you will, apparently, gain weight. That's probably not muscle. That makes pants that fit you last fall, BEFORE you started training for the Super Difficult Ass Kicking Olympic Triathlon and thought that doing same would make you shrink, um ... tight. So, yeah. I'm buckling down a bit. And it SUCKS. But, as heretofore mentioned (can you tell I work for a law firm?) my Backpacking Rule stands this weekend. I look forward to returning to more clothes that don't fit.

Mostly, though, I'm looking forward to enjoying the quiet of the trail with Tri-Hubby and Dudley. Being away from civilization quiets my head and makes me feel centered again. I feel more like myself in the woods than anywhere else - training comes close sometimes, but it doesn't quite compare. And there's nothing better than feeling like myself with my favorite guy and the best dog in the world for company.

So, me an' my boys will catch y'all latah. Peace Out - and have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Know My Word

Stronger will probably understand what I'm talking about, and anyone else who's read Oriah Mountain Dreamer's The Call. For those of you who haven't had the chance to read it yet (I'm sure its on your To Do list), I'll try to give a brief description.

The premise of the book is that we all have a calling and that calling can be summarized in a single word. So, ultimately, its about finding your word then going out to live it and share it with the rest of the world. She stresses that it can't be something that you were born knowing. Her thought - and I believe it to be true - is that its nearly impossible to teach something you know instinctively. Try teaching someone to breathe. Or, if you're rhythm crazy like me, to dance. The best teachers are those who didn't know how to do something - in fact that subject was a complete and utter mystery to them - yet who finally figured that something out. They can teach it because they remember what it felt like not to know - and can clearly define the steps they took in order to really understand. Each person's "something" is different - but its something that is vitally important to their growth in this life. Something that they will be tested on again and again until they finally figure it out. That "something" is their word. When I read the book years ago, I searched and searched my heart, my psyche, my spirit and my life to find that word. I came up with a few ideas, but none of them ultimately resonated - at least not for more than a few months. They were all important lessons - slow down, have courage, have faith, believe in yourself - but none of them were my word.

Then, yesterday evening, on my way home from a meeting with my therapist (what!?!? Yes, world, I have been in therapy and will explain all of it one of these days, if you're interested) when the word came out and hit me right between the eyes. Empower. That's it. That's my mission. First, to empower myself and then, somehow - only Spirit knows exactly - to pass it on.

My first mission isn't quite accomplished - I suspect it will be an ongoing journey - but I'm getting very, very close. And, again, the Mystery of my Why - why did I start training? why triathlon? why marathon? why push yourself so hard? - is illuminated. Its not because I feel I need the abuse. Its not because I want to win races. Or even because I want to go faster. When I train, when I race, when I conquer yet another element of triathlon that has seemed impossible - I feel powerful. This power has been immeasurably important to me - how much so I will have to go into another day. Today, I just want to revel in the joy of finding my word. Empower. So it is.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

When to Say When

I have a problem. I don't always know when to stop. Or, rather, I know when I should stop - or at least pull back - but I don't do it.

Case in point: This morning.

I'm not officially in marathon training until September 23 - I have a ten week plan from Triathlete Magazine that I'll be following as closely as I can. With the plan in mind, however, I'm trying to build my mileage and intensity so that I'll ease into the plan a little. It will still be a jump, there's just no avoiding it, but I'm trying to make the jump as low as possible. ANYWAY - this morning I had a one hour run on the books that would mimic my "plan" Tuesday run with 6 - 8 4 minute intervals at threshold with a 2 minute rest period. I chose to do 6 intervals because I imagined I was being conservative.

The first four intervals felt awesome - I was cruising at threshold (as much as one can "cruise" at that pace), feeling like superwoman, recovering quickly during my two minute jog. The fifth interval started fine but by the end, I could feel the wheels coming off. My legs started to hurt in odd places, I just knew I was just about done. But I had one interval left. I knew I had one interval left in me, but not much more than that. My brain said "Now would be a great time to stop with the intervals and cool down. Remember what The Training Bible said? Stop when you think you only have one interval left in you. Stop with something still in the tank." Brain made very good sense. However Beast said "NO! The plan said I can do one more. I'm doing one more!!!" Beast has her good points, but wisdom and restraint aren't necessarily among them. Beast cannot be reasoned with. And Brain was too tired to argue. So Beast got her way and I did 6. When I got home, I re-read the plan and realized that I was supposed to WALK the rest periods, not JOG. All I can say about that now is: "OUCH."

I'm sitting here, two Naproxin ingested, making friends with my ice pack. My piriformis hurts, my IT band is bitching, my right Achilles is tight and I have a weird pain on the side of my foot. Fabulous.

So, marathon training is off to a great start.

On another note, T-shirt ideas:

"Shamelessly flaunting my imperfections"

Front: "Quit Glaring and Run With Me."
Back: " I Dare You."

"My animal wants your animal to come out and play." But, that could be misconstrued. Hmmm.

Any other ideas?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dare You.

Hey, you. Yeah, both of you - the lady in front of me buying a dozen doughnuts, and you too, cashier. What's the deal? What's the glare for?

What exactly do you have a problem with? Is it the fact that I'm sweaty? That I dare to come into the grocery store in my running clothes, a thin layer of grime from the trail still clinging to me? Is it my muscles? My smell? I know I'm not a daisy, but I'm pretty sure you can't smell me from way over there. And the dude behind me doesn't seem to have a problem with it. Just you two.

Or is it that I'm obviously a regular person, just like you? That I have cellulite on the backs of my thighs, just like you, a belly stretched out by growing a baby, just like you, a few wrinkles coming in, a less than perfect body and unspectacular hair - and I'm not letting any of that keep me from moving, running, sweating and being? Is it that I'm standing here, brazen and unashamed of my imperfections, unashamed that I sweat and bleed and get dirty?

Or is it that my ordinaryness reminds you that you too could sweat and bleed and get dirty? That you too could embrace the wild animal inside of you that wants to run free and work hard and throw away the makeup? Did your animal see my animal glinting at you through my eyes and threaten to stage a mutiny? Is that what pisses you off about me?

Sorry for showing up like this - normally, I would take a shower and put on some cleaner clothes - but I've seen you giving me a similar glare even then. See, its my kids birthday and I don't have any time to waste. So I apologize.

And, hey, I don't hold your glares against you. I get it. Its scary looking at what you might be if you only tried. I'm not better than you, just braver. At least right now. But you could be brave too, if you wanted to. Anyone can. And that's what's really making you mad, isn't it? So I dare you. I dare you to quit glaring and come run with me. I might be slowing down to let you keep up with me now - but later, I might be struggling just to stay on your heels. You might leave me in your dust. You never know. Not until you try.

So I dare you.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Happy Birthday, Boy Genius!

Tomorrow, my baby turns eight. Eight years old. Where does time go?
This morning, we walked to school in the rain, a big umbrella sheltering us from the deluge. He was a bundle of giggles and sparkling energy. Its so much fun to see him in such a good mood.
We used to walk in the rain when he was a toddler and I was a stay at home mom, he in his little blue duck rain boots, I holding the big umbrella. I blinked and I was walking him to second grade.
Back then, he would stop at every puddle and jump until I guided him to the next one - like every kid does. This morning, he didn't jump in every puddle - his momma cautioned him against spending the day with wet feet - but I could see by the glint in his eye that he wanted to.
Back then, he wanted to spend every moment that he wasn't exploring on my lap. No one but momma would do. Now, he prefers to spend his time running the neighborhood with his pack of boys, getting muddy, riding bikes, performing death defying stunts on scooters, bikes and skateboards - I am relegated to watching from the kitchen window, chewing on my lip, bursting out the door to put a stop to any activity that is truly dangerous - like riding sleds down the neighbor's driveway into the street ?!?!
Still, sometimes he throws his arms around me and tells me he loves me. He still wants me to kiss him goodnight. And at least three times a week or so, he crawls in my lap for a snuggle, smiles his little smile with his head on my shoulder.
He's grown into quite a little boy. When we arrive at school, we are greeted by a chorus of little voices, calling his name, happy to see him. I take that as a good sign. He's funny, spunky and scary smart - all qualities I admire. I just can't tell you how proud I am of him.
I remember driving with him one evening when he was about three. We were on our way home from somewhere, darkness and silence surrounding us. His little voice comes out of the backseat, out of nowhere and says "I love the whole world." Words to aspire to for all of us.
Happy Birthday, little man. Time flies too quickly, but I'm so happy to spend it as your mom.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

First Run

This morning was my first run since my race. I know it wasn't that long ago - like four whole days - but it still seemed significant when I set out this morning.

It was raining. Hard. The "lazy me" wanted to stay inside, go back to bed, extend my recovery by another day. But the "beast" wanted to go out and play - rain or no rain - and the "beast" won this round.

It was still relatively warm - 71 - so, once I got moving, the temp felt perfect. And the rain wasn't nearly as drenching as it sounded like from inside my house. It was actually more of a gentle shower, welcoming the day, quenching the thirst of the dry ground and inviting me back to my roots.

This is where I started - running. I've always considered myself a runner, even though when I started years ago, I was painfully slow. I think that label helped get me out the door on mornings like these, when it would have been easier to stay in bed. It helped me push my six month old son in that old jogging stroller over miles and miles in the heat and humidity when it would have been easier to stay in the air conditioning. It helped me to quell the "fat monster" who insisted I was a cow every time I passed a mirror. I was a runner. That was power to me.

This morning helped me to believe that I'm still a runner. I'm a little quicker than I used to be, and that feels good. I'm a lot stronger than I was at the beginning of the season, and that feels awesome. This morning's run was a new route that Tri Hubby discovered a couple of days ago - its an addition to an already hilly route we've been running since we moved to this 'hood. The addition includes three more hills, two of them very steep. We drove it yesterday and it looked pretty intimidating, especially considering the long, slow grind of a hill that finishes mile three of the route. You know what's waiting for you at the top of those hills - more hills! I used to hate hills - they reminded me of my limitations, aggravated my asthma and often forced me to a walk. But today, today the hills seemed to melt underneath my feet. Just like they did on Saturday. I still only averaged 11:00 miles, but I felt like I was flying. And, more importantly, I felt strong, at ease, natural. I felt like a runner.

Sitting here now, I'm a little sore. My legs are certainly voicing their displeasure for putting them through those particular 5 miles. They'll get over it, though. They're gonna have to. We've got a marathon to run, after all. Gulp. A marathon.

So, after yesterday's post, the consensus seems to be that the marathon will be hard. Really Hard. As in: The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done. Except for possibly childbirth - that was a bitch of an endurance race for me: three days culminating in the birth of a bouncing 10 lb. baby boy. Yes, I said three days and yes, he was ten pounds. And no, I didn't have a C-section. Thankfully, the last nine hours were blessed by an epidural. But, I digress.

I hope I don't get injured. I hope I don't DNF. I hope I don't fall over. I'm NOT planning on racing the thing. Its gonna be years before I'm ready to actually RACE 26.2 miles. I'm just hoping to finish. I think I'm partway doing this to talk myself out of wanting to do an Ironman. I figure after the misery of a marathon, I'll be able to quench that little desire burning in the back of my head. Now is not the time for IM. Not in my life. As our friend, Bold says in today's post, Ironman is not the measure of a person, but how you manage life around Ironman is. I cannot manage life around Ironman training right now - that mountain is going to have to wait. As I have come to realize, however, the "beast" is not easily placated. She wants what she wants when she wants it. So, I'm feeding her a little marathon. See how that sits with her. I'm hoping that fills her belly for awhile.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Next Up:

Marathon. Wow. What is it about me that has to keep raising the bar to be satisfied?

Funny, up to this point, I've been thinking about the marathon as a means to an end - 10 plus weeks of focused running to improve that portion of the beast that is triathlon. Not that I haven't intellectually respected the distance, but, subconsciously, I've just seen it as one long training exercise. I have a feeling that will change when those long runs start exceeding the 3 hour mark.

Sigh. Well, I guess if we truly thought out everything we did, we'd never reach. If I'd taken the time to really analyze how triathlon training would effect my life, I might never had done it. And I would have missed out on all the intangible benefits that training has blessed me with. I could have predicted that it would change my body - though I think I expected more dramatic, visible changes than actually occurred. The other stuff - some things you never see coming and you're not supposed to. You just enjoy them when they fall on you - like unexpected rain in the desert. I suppose marathon training will bring similar blessings - and challenges - that I just can't see from where I'm standing.

So, I'll just take a step, then another, then another - and hopefully I'll reach that destination, just by putting one foot in front of the other. Its worked so far. After all, I'm here, aren't I? And Here is a really good place to be.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Beast in my Belly

Race day really started yesterday, when I came home to flowers from Tri-Hubby and a card that read "You Are Gonna Rock!" That was a pretty cool beginning to my Night Before the Race Vigil. I never got that last workout in, only a nap, some stretching and some quality time with my Stick. I know what you're thinking. Click on the link, you won't be dissapointed ;). Most of the evening, I just read all of your comments (You guys rock!), chilled, and packed my bag, sometimes stopping to take a big breath and keep myself calm. This was a big deal for me (in case 'ya didn't notice!) and I had to struggle to keep it in perspective at times. All in all, I kept it together and settled down for a fitfull nights sleep at about 9:00. Boy Wonder was home from college this weekend and managed to wake us up not once, but twice as he came and went trying to figure out if he was sleeping at his mom's or his dad's. But, it wasn't like I was getting alot of deep sleep anyway so, no harm no foul. Thankfully, I had read somewhere that its the sleep you get two nights before the race that really counts, so I wasn't too worried.

The alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. and I shot out of bed. I had everything ready to go the night before, so I really just ate my oatmeal, got dressed, and did a bunch more of those deep cleansing breaths. You would've thought I was in labor or something. And really, when you think about it, I was. In fact, the seed was planted in my brain in November, nine months ago, when I got it in my head I wanted to try a tri. And this morning, in the pre-dawn of my A Race, I was about to give birth to the beast I was growing in my belly these long months of training. My FTE was like the ultrasound - a little peak at what was in there, just enough to make me fall in love.

Tri-Hubby was up not long after me, packing a cooler to share with my Mom, Dad and Thithy (that's Our Family speak for sissy) and her two year old. Once again, they made the trek from the other side of two rivers to come and sit in the sun and get an occasional glimpse of me swimming, biking or running by. I'm just overwhelmed at the support of my family. This was definately not thier idea - in fact, I think they probably thought I was a little crazy to want to do this - and yet, they got up early on a Saturday morning and came out and cheered my name and kept me going. You've gotta love those people! Also, my friend Sally and her husband Steve came out - cowbells in tow - and yelled for me. Again, I'm just overwhelmed at the support I've had. The best thing about my summer in this sport has been the people I've met - in real life, online, and, twice, both. Triathletes are just awesome people.
But I digress. We made our way to the race sight by 5:30 a.m., were guided to a parking spot, and proceeded to situate Pyro on her rack and set up my transition area. This event was so well organized - bike racks were designated for each wave, the race director stood on the top of the timing chip trailer and made announcements throughout the morning, letting us know the water temp (77.5 - absolutely perfect), the rules regarding transition, reminding us to pick up our chips, telling us where the food was, etc. It really helped and I never had to deal with that "what do I do if . . ." kind of anxiety. There was a woman racked right next to me who was doing her First Tri Ever, the short course. I felt a kinship with her and told her this was only my second and reassured her that she would have a blast. Then, I walked down to the swim start. The contractions were coming closer together - I knew it wouldn't be long now. And I began to feel strangely calm. The sun was coming up over the beautiful lake. The buoys looked as far out as ever, but I knew I could make them, I'd done it before. The air was chilled but I knew that the chill would be a comfort while I was doing the work that was set out before me.

There was a pre-race meeting which pretty much repeated what the director had been announcing since dawn. Again though, it was comforting to feel like I knew what was going on, that I didn't have to worry about the details of the race, only to focus on what I could do. After the business end was concluded, he announced that Kevin Hunt, the triathlete that you may recall died during the swim leg of a race in June, had been registered to race this morning. He said that he was sure Kevin was looking down on all of us with pride - and though it sounds kind of cliche now, it did feel that way, and I was grateful that they mentioned him. We had a moment of silence for Kevin then the national anthem was sung. I got in a quick warmup and, before I knew it, it was time to head down for the swim start. It was time to deliver the beast.

My overall impression of the race was that it went by so fast - I was expecting to have a feeling like "Oh my gosh, I've been out here so long" but it never came. The swim was as close as I came to that because, well, you know, I swim slow. I still managed to pass some people - even some in the wave in front of me. That, I couldn't believe, I was like "Look at me, I'm passin' people that started five minutes ahead of me!" Of course, then I had to look to make sure they were alright and still moving and stuff, and, thankfully, they all were. I certainly got passed a lot more than I passed, but that's par for the course for me. I'll get better. I hope. Still, before I knew it, it was over and I was heading out of the water. I wasn't last in my leg, but I was close, so I was anxious to get on the bike and get moving.

Swim Split: 38:45

There was a relatively long trek back to Pyro from the beach - and when I first got out of the water I was a little woozy from being horizontal for so long. So T1 was slow.


As I ran up the sidewalks (which myseteriously hurt my feet on the way down and didn't even register on the way up), I heard Sally and Steve and Tri-Hubby and Mom and Dad and Thithy yelling my name. They were my doulas, encouraging me to keep moving, keep breathing, and the beast, the beast who's been growing and stretching and waiting to wake up, the Phoenix, she made her appearance sometime after I got on the bike.

I'm not sure I can pinpoint the exact moment of her birth - was it that first hill that seemed so hard last Sunday that just dissolved beneath my wheels today? Or was it the first person I passed along the way? Or maybe it was when I felt the wind - wind that was not made my nature because all the flags hung limp on their poles- it was my wind, Pyro's wind, the wind of the beast. Whenever she made her entrance, her presence was known througout the entire bike - I attacked every hill, often staying in the big ring all the way to the crest and feeling only exhilaration; I passed a lot of people - men, women, people on hybrids, people in kit on nice bikes - lots of people were tied to posts out there on the course this morning, especially on the up hills. I'm not saying I was never out of breath, because I was, or that my quads were never on fire, because they were, it was just that everything clicked for me and I never felt misery, only elation to be out there, to be moving, to be FLYING on my Pyro. I was yelling thank you to every volunteer, every police officer, every spectator sitting on their lawns and cheering us on. I felt so grateful to all those people who had come out to make this day safer and less stressful for all of us out there. I can't even put it into words - it almost moved me to tears. I saw several members of my team out there also. Every time we'd pass we'd yell "Go Big Shark!" Totally awesome. It all brought home the affirmation I read this morning "God is in all, and all is well." That was the perfect theme for the day.

The bike was not without my typical dorkiness, unfortunately. The beast may have been born, but she's still a little baby. There was a U turn at one end of the bike course, about half way, and I was worried about it. You know, me and cornering are not good friends. I've been working on No Wetsuit Girl's tips, and they're helping, but I ain't there yet. So, when the U turn came, I almost executed it - but I went off the road, right at the end. Into the gravel. Luckily, I was going slow, saw it coming and was clipped out and ready to catch myself. It was fine, just embarrasing. But, I laughed, said "I knew I was going to do that!" And went on.

Nutrition was going great - except for the Gu I lost somewhere on the course. Which apparently fell, open, onto my water bottle. I discovered this when I stopped, as I'd planned, to fill my empty Aero Bottle with water and switch to Gu and water for the remainder of the course. Suddenly, I had Gu all over my hands. I was laughing, trying to lick it off, my hands sticking to the handlebars. That's going to be fun to clean! But, I was getting in the calories and having fun, so it was all good.

Suddenly, I was at the end of the bike. I couldn't believe how fast it had gone! At that point, I didn't know my speed or my time as I had forgotten to set my bike computer and my watch just wasn't working right. So I was racing blind. Imagine my surprise when I saw the result online.

Bike Time: 1:22:32 Avg Speed: 18

Yep. 18. That's the fastest average I have EVER had on any 25 mile ride, much less a hilly one. I will so take it.

T2 was a little quicker, not as much run time, not as much stuff to switch out: 1:37.

The run began. The first half mile felt hard, my legs were feeling some of those hills from the bike. But, before I knew it, I was feeling amazingly strong. I felt like I was going pretty slow, but I decided to maintain for awhile. I didn't want to give up that feeling. I can't describe how awesome I felt. My legs felt fresh, springy even, my breathing was easy, I didn't even notice the hills on the run. It was like they didn't exist. And I passed people. In fact, I only got passed by one person that I can remember. Of course, it was a chick. In my age group. But I let her go. I was having way too much fun, feeling way too awesome to let that get me. The run seemed to fly by. And, I saw Tryan out there! He looked really strong. He yelled "Go Phoenix!" And I yelled "Go, Tryan!" So, there wasn't any earth shattering wisdom exchanged, but it felt good anyway.
Soon, it was time to turn around. Now, I thought, now you start to pick it up. At first, it just wasn't happening. Legs were like "Nope, we like this pace. This feels good to us. Tell your time goal to kiss it." But, after I passed the 5 mile mark, I was able to convince them to give a little more.

As I rounded the corner to the finish line, I heard Tryan yell "Go Phoenix" again. Then I heard Tri Hubby and Mom and Dad and Thithy and legs said "Let's RUN." And so we did. I crossed the line, heard the beep, and Tri-Hubby was there to put his arms around me.

Run: 54:28 Pace per mile: 8:47. That's a PR. I guess I wasn't going as slow as I thought. That, or the beast has wings.

Final Time: 3:00 even. 5th out of 13 in my Age Group.

That's just peachy with me.
After I finished, I was hanging out, soaking all of it in when I saw a woman in my wave come across the finish line. I had noticed her at the start, looking nervous, and had seen her again on the run - she was headed out while I was coming back - and she had looked like she was struggling but hanging in there. I'm pretty sure she was last in our age group - and one of the last people across the finish - but when she finished, she let out the most triumphant "Whooo!" and her little girl, who couldn't have been more than two, rushed into her mommy's arms. I thought, "She's like me." She probably decided some time this year that she was going to try to do this. And, like me, she probably didn't know if she could. But, she did. And that was her triumph. It was my triumph too. At that moment, I had no idea where I stood in the final results. And I absolutely didn't care. That woman's finish was my finish. We were out there together, giving birth to something we'd never imagined. Something that makes us more than what we were last winter. Something that makes us more than "enough".