Race Report – The Canyons 50k Trail Race

Link to Instagram Post with Photos and Videos (oooh, multimedia presentation!)

Segment 0 – Oakland to Auburn

Everything is laid out the night before. Alarm at 3 AM, dress, grab everything and on the road by 3:25. Eat breakfast in the car. Everything goes down well, stomach is peaceful enough. Mostly drive the hour and forty minutes in silence. Parking is easy.
I see other runners without drop bags and talk myself out of dropping a bag to be there waiting at the finish line. This was a mistake. Next time, totally doing a drop bag. It wasn’t essential but it would have been nice to have. Check in, get bib, t-shirt, timing chip. One last porta potty stop. It’s 6 AM and it’s time to go. Not a lot of first timers in the crowd but I’m standing next to one and we high five being in the “My First Ultra” club.

That thing in my eyes is a whole lot of apprehension.

Segment 1 – Auburn to Mammoth Bar – 0 – 7.3 Miles

I did not start too fast. Set out at a sustainable pace and watched the field run and then walk up a hill away from me. It was going to be a long day and I didn’t mean to spend myself on the first half mile. I was less than a mile in, just before Robie Point, when two runners passed me. One of the two runners who passed me looked the typical ultra-runner, technical gear head to toe. The other was an old man with a big, white beard who looked to be made out of leather. As they came by, I overheard the ultra looking runner said “….Gordy?” At an opportune moment I nudged him and asked “Is that Gordy Gordy?” He said, with a huge smile “Yes! It is!”

The Western States Endurance Run is one of the most prestigious 100 mile runs in the world. It was begun in 1977 after several human only competitors had the idea to run the Tevis Cup – a 100 mile endurance ride (with horses). One of those humans, and the most famous, was Gordy Ainsleigh.

And so I ran most of the first three miles of my first ultra with Gordy Ainsleigh.

The weather was gorgeous. It had rained the day before. Waterfalls were running, there was fog hanging in the canyons, the sky was perfectly blue and clear. The country was the most beautiful I had ever seen. We passed the confluence of the American River and I cried at how gorgeous it was.

I was moving well, cruising along at my own pace. In the first section I caught people who had run out faster than I did. Almost everything was runnable and I kept it moving. Right before the first aid station there was a very technical down hill (that means roots and rocks and basically running down a stream bed) that was very muddy. It was so slippery that the safest way to get down it was as fast as possible – I believe the kids these days call it “full send.” The 25k racers were busy passing me as we all called out to each other about how crazy it was and how fun.

I came in to Mammoth Bar Aid Station feeling great. I took my time refilling my water and fuel and walked out.

Segment 2 – Mammoth Bar to Drivers Flat – 7.3 – 15.3 Miles

Out of Drivers Flat we came to the first big, brutal climb of the day. I got after it and started power hiking. My hill training absolutely proved out on this section. I spent most of my training finding the steepest hills I could and then going and up and down them repeatedly. Hitting a sustained climb of grades greater than 14% was something I was used to. After 2.5 miles things leveled out a bit and it was mostly runnable.

Every inch of this course was lovely. We were up on a Ridge above the American River, making our way through forest and meadow. The wildflowers were out in force as well. The day was starting to warm up and I started to manage my heat with regular water on my head and the back of the neck. Nutrition and hydration were going to plan, everything was feeling strong and on track.

About this time in the race I linked up with three other runners, Annette, Keith and Norma. We were all moving at roughly the same pace and we stayed together through most of the next ten miles. It was wonderful to have people to talk to. We took turns at the front making the pace, sitting in the middle, and at the back of the group letting someone else set the pace. The time and miles with this group flew by.

I came into Drivers Flat Aid Station feeling good. My legs hurt for sure and my stomach felt good. I checked on how much water I had been drinking and I was on track to stay hydrated. Grabbed more gels and some actual food and set out for the next segment. As I left another runner called out to me “You’re gonna have the most amazing first ultra today!”

I replied “You’re fucking A right!”

Segment 3 – Drivers Flat to Cal 2 – 15.3 – 24.6 (25.6 per my watch) Miles

Out of Drivers Flat was a two mile downhill. This caused the first agony of the day. My right IT band had gotten so much stronger through training. Two years ago I would run out of leg within two hours and less than eight miles. On this day it held on for more than four hours and 16 miles. I was struggling to keep running down the steeper pitches of the descent when Norma caught up to me. I was able to pace off of her and stay strong in my technical downhill form to get down to the river at a decent pace.

From there we had miles next to the river and started to have stream crossings. My combination of shoes, socks, and anti-blister treatment worked a charm. I was able to cool my feet in the streams and not get blisters even with soaked shoes. Our little group picked up another runner named Jersey and cruised the next few miles.

To get to the third aid station there was a steep descent and then a long climb. The top of the descent was the last I would see Annette and Keith for the rest of the day. I had to stop a few times going down. I eventually figured out that if I took a very wide stance going downhill I could recruit my hamstrings and quads and not impact my IT band as much. It wasn’t fast but it was better than stopping and crying out from the pain every few steps.

This was when I started worrying about the time cut off. The published cut off for the 50k was 10 hours. At the top of the last hard descent I was ahead of schedule by 26 minutes. I was going down the hills even slower than I was going up them and I was burning that time cushion. I knew I could finish the distance, the question was starting to be, could I finish in time?

I started the climb to Cal 2 Aid Station. Someone had called out that the aid station was at mile 24. I was getting hot and the climb was long and I watched mile 24 go by with no sign of aid. The tears started. I had fallen behind Jersey on the downhill and I passed him during the climb. Mile 25 passed and still no aid. I was going down into a mental hole. I took in extra calories and the last of my water and came into Cal 2 sobbing.

The aid station staffers were wonderful at every stop. At Cal 2 they filled my hydration pack, gave me cold electrolyte to drink, filled my sports bra with ice, and reassured me. I wasn’t the first athlete they had seen in tears and when I said “I’m just really tired” they understood. They cheered when I moved on to the last segment of the course.

Segment 4 – Cal 2 to Foresthill – 24.6 to 32.8 (25.6 – 34.3 per my watch) Miles

There wasn’t much running to be had after this point in the race. Shortly after Cal 2 was a very steep climb. I passed Jersey again (he passed me in the aid station) and he said his legs were totally shot. After the trail leveled out I wanted to run. I ran for a bit and then my legs were done. It was better to power walk and not have to stop than try to run and have to stop. I told myself “Gentle and Steady.” I knew I could finish and I could still make the time cut off if I kept moving. I was ginger on the downhills and steady on the uphills. When there was a runnable section I ran for twenty steps and then walked thirty or forty, then ran 20.

My 26 minutes of cushion had dwindled to 6 when I reached the base of the final climb – 1400 feet over 3.1 miles, climbing all the way to the finish line. I stayed steady in my effort and kept pushing up the hill. I knew I could make the cutoff if I kept up my pace.

I was crying on and off. At 8 hours I reached a place where I started praying for grace for everyone who had ever wronged me. I recited the names of people I knew had faith in me, ending with myself. I let everything that did not serve fall away. Resentment, fear, anger, sadness – if it did not propel me forward it was left behind.

“This is not a time to be dismayed. This is punk rock time. This is what Joe Strummer trained you for.”

If there is one answer I could give to “Why do you run?” it is “To know myself.” I know that I am disciplined and consistent. I know that I can apply myself and follow a plan, not dogmatically, as a guide to achievement. I can listen and recalibrate and execute. I keep going. Through despair and grief and loss and pain. This was not the first day that I was full of emotions bursting out of my chest and looked down and my legs were going about their business.

If there is one answer I could give to “Why do you train?” it is “To know that I get to choose the kind of person that I am going to be.” On the final climb, pushing to make the time cut off, at 9 hours, 25 minutes, 2 miles from the finish, I saw another running sit down and then collapse back across the trail. He was conscious but delirious and could barely get out his name. I stayed with him, got him to drink electrolytes, and tried to get him to eat something. He would get up and walk a few yards and then sit down again. A couple of runners passed us and I asked each of them to send back help as soon as they could. He told me to leave him to sleep and I told him there was absolutely no way that was happening.

After 25 minutes, Jersey reached us and offered to stay with Braden – the downed runner – while I went on. I took him up on the offer and started back up the trail. My body had cooled down. The time cut off that had been driving me was gone. I walked the rest of the way, slow and steady. It hurt a lot. It wasn’t that I wanted to quit, it was that I wanted so badly to be done and I physcially couldn’t get there any faster.

I was watching the race get packed away in front of me. A truck full of cones drove away from me. A person pulling the course markings off the road was just in front of me. All I could think was “Please don’t leave me, I’m so close.” The finishing chute was still up. The timing mat was still in place and I walked in to an official finish time of 10:39:52.

If there is one answer I could give to “Why do you race?” it is “To be in community with people who understand me.” The finish line volunteers greeted my tears with congratulations. Telling me I was an ultrarunner now. They hugged me and made sure I got a picture with the finish arch. They laughed with understanding when I broke down sobbing (even harder) and said I was “…just tired” and made sure I got a cold Coke and a chair. Race staff thanked me for staying with Braden. Norma was in the recovery area and by the time I saw her I was already feeling better. We hugged and congratulated each other on what a day it had been – hard and beautiful and fun. We agreed that running together had worked out so well and been the best part of the race.

As I was letting it sink in, getting some calories in and worrying about making the shuttle back to my car, I asked after Braden. The finish line staff told me that he was walking in with the two runners who had been with him. I got to watch him finish, smiling, unhurt and under his own power. A very nice capper to the day was riding the shuttle back to the parking lot with Jersey and Braden, rehashing the day.

After the finish –

I read once “We don’t read romance novels to know the what, we do it for the how.” This was a discovery of how I would complete the distance. For all that a cloud of amorphous apprehension loomed in the back of my mind at times (it actually hovers over the back of my right shoulder), I never doubted that I would finish. Not once did I think of dropping out. After helping Braden the only question of continuing was at what pace.

Any tears or low feelings cleared quickly after I finished. I was smiling and laughing in minutes. I easily walked half a mile from the shuttle drop off to my car. I spent the evening at a birthday party with people who, when they found out what I had done with my day said “That’s gangster!”

I chose this goal years ago when I told my coach “I think I have the mind for ultras.” It feels so good to be correct. The positive effect on my mental health of this achievement cannot be understated. Years ago I told someone “It’s impossible to hate yourself for a least a month after you finish a marathon” and this sense of myself as someone deserving and worthy is holding strong. I think this one will last longer than a month.

I was already thinking about doing another ultra on the bus back to my car. 10/10 will ultra again.


Race Report – Napa Tri

The last three races I signed up for did not go to plan.

Sonoma Women’s Tri turned into a Duathlon because there wasn’t enough water for a swim. The Lake Tahoe Triathlon was postponed due to fire. Odyssey Swim Run? Woke up sick and DNS’d for the first time ever.

I signed up for the Napa Tri because I wanted to do a proper triathlon this year. Not a super short one (looking at you Tahoe), not a duathlon (glad I didn’t go with Marin the day before), a regular old standard Sprint Distance Swim-Bike-Run.

I got to do that. I had a great day. I did a course recon a few weeks ago with a club mate. I have been training fairly consistently. My swim is, for being one forty minute session a week, going great. My run is the best it’s been since 2015 and improving. My biking is good and I’ve made big strides in getting comfortable on my tri-bike so I can take advantage of all that amazing aero-ness I paid for.

My goal for the day was to race every leg. The new move I’m making in training is to go out hard and not worry if I’m going to blow up, just hit it and see how long I can hold on.

I lined up at the front of the swim. Am I a front pack swimmer? Hell no. Am I gonna give up places to people who haven’t earned them. Also hell no. The usual mess of people who can swim but have zero technical open water skills happened. Got my line cut across, one person managed to swim under me, which was a first, got some feet to the face – nothing serious. I tried to catch some feet mid way through but that athlete was not sighting well and I always trust my own line.

The big news is that I was swimming the whole time. Not letting my mind wander and coasting. I was in it. Staying with my stroke, focusing on getting a good catch, opening up and using my lats, keeping my elbow high and my body rotating. Head down. Swimming from the first to the last.

Dizzy as hell getting out. Ran most of the way up the boat ramp. T1 was, for me, not my finest moment. Shaking, hadn’t practiced a quick wetsuit removal. Running on a gravel parking lot in cycle shoes to a bathroom break.

The bike was so good. Course recon is always the move. The ride out of the park to the road is horrendous. The first half mile on the road is a bit crunchy and the next eleven miles are lovely. Smooth pavement, low traffic. It’s a continually rolling and curving course. There are no flats or straights for easy miles. There weren’t any very technical moments and I spent more than half the ride in aero.

It did start raining on the ride which I had not planned on. It didn’t get bad enough to slick the roads or muck up my glasses and it kept the temperature down. I do very well in cooler temps and I’m sure I gained some time on people who both took the time to put on jackets and then had the jackets catching the wind. There were some lovely headwinds that had me pushing the gear harder than I expected on some downhills. Thems the breaks and everyone had to do it.

Like the swim – I rode the whole ride. Head in the game all day. Checking on effort. Didn’t look at the watch, just asked my body if I was pushing too hard. Kept after it and pushed it to the end. Got into aero early and often. Hit the downhills spinning in a big gear to take the free speed and refresh the legs. It’s always a good day when I’m moved to yell out “Fuck yeah!” at some point.

Again, not my favorite transition. You’ll never catch me slipping at the rack though. Bike up, shoe change and gone.

The only metric for the run is cadence. 190 was the goal. Like breathing. Gonna take calories in the bottle next time. I wasn’t thirsty because it was cold. A nice hit of flavor would have been wonderful.

Stayed in the run the whole way. Cadence strong and quick. Completely happy to be where I was and to be doing what I was doing. Taking in all the energy from the other racers on course who were just as happy as I was. This is the one part of the race I could have pushed harder. It would have been a big ask after the bike and it wasn’t that day. I didn’t need to go to the well in that way. I was happy, I was present. I also ran my best 5k of the year off of a hard bike, on a hilly course, not feeling like I was pushing particularly hard at all, so there is that.

I made sixth in my age group and I am damn proud of that. A great day at the races and I’m stoked to move into the winter. Got big plans for next year.


Sink, then swim

When I was four or five I nearly drowned. After that I was afraid of water.

Couldn’t take showers until high school, couldn’t keep myself afloat in a pool until 19. Learned to swim properly at 30 to do my first triathlon.

I have done triathlons for ten years, building a massive toolkit of coping skills for anxiety and panic. I started full custom triathlon coaching last year. A few months ago I was telling my coach about my whole history with water and she said “It sounds like you have some Post Traumatic Stress from that.”

Because so many other people in my life had “Bigger Problems” or “Real Problems,” because I was able to cope, I was able to go on despite my anxieties, I had never thought to even consider the impact of my near drowning in anything other than practical terms e.g. how do I swim, how do I shower? It had never occurred to me that there was anything other than just dealing with it in the moment.

After under-swimming my fitness in two races my coach said “I think it’s time for you to talk to the sports psychologist.” I had a session with a psychologist named Will and we went through an exercise that was developed to help people with Post Traumatic Stress. It seemed pretty simple and easy.

I think that once you live with the memory of a traumatic event for long enough, you stop recognizing what it brings up as a problem because you need to live your life. As Lady Gaga said about trauma – you need to put it in a box so you can keep functioning and living your life. So sitting there and ranking my feelings of fear and panic at close to a ten was the normal I had developed.

I will always be grateful that I learned to look my fear in the face and say “That’s cool, let’s go anyway.” That I have learned how to pull myself out of a panic attack. How to observe my thoughts and choose my reactions to them. It had never once occurred to me that I could have no fear, no panic, no anxiety.

Two weeks ago I went swimming in open water for the first time since my session with Will. It was just…swimming. In a wetsuit in the San Francisco Bay. It was cold and dark and it was just swimming. Not a one hour exercise in anxiety management with some swimming added. I was in the pool this Monday and we were going hard and it just felt like running.

Now that I’m in this new space I’m realizing how much of my life was spent managing constant anxiety. That one experience had jammed the panic button in my brain so hard that my whole life was in one way or another brushing that button, triggering that very real and justified fear that was now in the way of everything else in my life.

That constant anxiety is falling away and I’m working to identify the habits I built to cope with it and rebuild my life to reflect my healing. I’m spending a lot of my days thinking “Why am I doing this? I am acting as if I had anxiety about this but I do not feel anxious. This is a coping habit and I can let it go.”

I’m telling this story because I you to know that no matter what anyone else’s problems are, your problems are real. There is treatment available and it can work. You deserve and are worthy of treatment.

Oakland Triathlon Festival – Reasonable Goats

Oakland Triathlon is coming up on August 18, 2019 so it’s time to make a plan.

Race performance is an expression of your reaction to the conditions not only on race day but during the training period.

I hurt my left ankle quite badly in May. It held up through Folsom Lake Triathlon and for most of the Tilden Tough Ten. I kicked the last fifty yards of Tilden and absolutely jacked my foot. I was smart about it and took time off, went to the Physical Therapist, and did my homework to rest and recover.

The good news is that particular injury is almost completely healed up. The bad news is that there is a host of other shit going on with my feet that I’m managing and I took a few weeks off of running during the build up for this race. I’ve been back to it for a few weeks and I’m feeling great. I’m still being very careful of my ankle and foot health.

During the summer school break I have my daughter Friday night through Sunday night. This means I don’t get out for a three hour low intensity ride with a transition run on the weekends. The summer has had a lot of trainer rides – especially during my ankle rehab we filled the gap with more trainer work. That, combined with not being able to run has resulted in a lack of big training days. I do have a lot of fitness from the rest of the year so I’m not un-fit. I haven’t done many bricks and I need to get a bit of transition sharpening in.

Swimming has been going very well over the summer. This is the first time I haven’t taken a four to five month break and it shows. I’m faster and more importantly have a done a lot of work on getting more comfortable and confident with hard efforts in the water. I was unable to push as hard as I wanted at my last two races so I under-swam my fitness. I want to get closer to what my pool times say my open water time could be and I think I’ve done a lot of the work to get there.

With all those factors in consideration I’m going to be very reasonable in my expectations for Oakland.

Swim – 1500M (1640 yds)

My last race at this distance I went just under 40 minutes. That race was fresh water and very choppy so I think I can cut a pretty good chunk off. I definitely want under 40 minutes and I think I can get below 38. Super stretch, “I’m having the best swim ever plus this swim always goes with the current” goal is 36 minutes. (EDIT: I just checked the tide table for race day. The tide will be ebbing and almost slack at race time so the benefit will be minimal).

T1 – The transition from the swim to the bike is very long and includes running up and down three flights of stairs. I always drop shoes at the swim exit and take my wetsuit off right after the swim rather than after I’ve run for five minutes. The last time I did this race I did T1 in 8:25 which includes getting out of the wetsuit, grabbing shoes, and a bathroom visit. I will still do all of those and I’m aiming for 8 minutes.

Bike – 40K (24.5 miles)

This leg has a power target, so I will stick it there regardless of speed. I’m thinking it will be between 16 and 17 mph average so somewhere between 1:27 and 1:33.

T2 – 1:45

I will not be prideful. I will approach my transition with humility. I will focus on execution rather than speed. (This is my way of saying that I usually do this very quickly but I don’t want to get caught up in making this fast and sacrificing my overall effort. They don’t give out podium places for transition times)(Also, I’ve been running in socks lately and that’s gonna slow me down)

Run 10K (6.2 miles)

Running has been coming along. More than feeling fast, I’ve been feeling steady and controlled. This leg has a heart rate target, so regardless of speed I’m going to set the effort and sit there. Training suggests I should be able to run 12:30 – 13:00 per mile and that would give me any where from 1:14 – 1:20 and I’ll be happy if I’m under 1:30 because I haven’t run that far in almost three months. If I’m feeling strong after the halfway point of the run I’ll try to put in a push but I’m going to be the daintiest little flower ever coming down the stairs after the overcrossing. And no kick at the end (or a very, very gentle one)

Overall – My PR for the course is 3:37:35 and my training strongly suggests that I can meet that and maybe beat it a bit, which would be very, very cool but anything at 3:45 or below will be just fine by me.

Welcoming & Wanting

I’ve felt so very alone for years and I felt like I didn’t know how to be friends with people or that no one was my friend, acquaintances but not friends.

The other day I was really thinking on why, what I thought would make someone a friend in my brain and I was able to separate my friends into two categories. This really is helping me to understand and break through my negative perceptive filter (seeing everyone else’s actions as being about me and thus an active rejection of me at all times rather than mostly having nothing to do with me and being neutral).

My two categories are Wanted and Welcome.

There are hundreds and hundreds of people who Welcome me. If I called they would answer, if I said “Let’s hang out!” and then set a date they would joyfully welcome me and love being with me. If they see me somewhere we will totally spend some time. But they aren’t calling me, they aren’t pressing for my time, they aren’t pushing to be an active and frequent part of my life. (AND THAT’S OK! People have their own things happening and their lives don’t need to be about me!) These people Welcome me.

Then there is Wanted – I can think of very few people (less than five) people who are friends who Want me. People who reach out without my having to reach out first, people who ask for my time, ask for my energy (this is reciprocal – no energy vampires here – I do the same to them, we Want each other). People who send me links and pictures and memes because they are thinking of me. People who are actively asking for my time, my energy, my presence.

When I was expecting everyone that I applied the word “friend” to to fulfill the Wanted criteria, there was practically no one. I was basically friendless and totally alone. When I gave myself these categories and permission to think of people as “Welcome” friends that really opened my perception of how many friends I do have. Just because they aren’t beating down the door doesn’t have to disqualify them or me from friendship.

Race Report! – Discovery Bay Tri

Last fall I decided that part of turning forty and being single would be getting custom triathlon coaching! I’ve been doing that for a while, which is it’s own thing, and this was my first race with actual “Coach’s Orders!”

I’ve done the Discovery Bay Sprint tri as my first race of the season the last three years. It’s a grassroots race, field is capped at 300 for both Sprint and Olympic Distances, and I get there early enough to park about 30 yards from transition.

I was oddly nervous this year. I actually got into open water before the start of my racing season, which was the day before. I had a sort of rough go of it, nutrition was off, and that was in my head so I had extra swim anxiety on top my pre-existing swim anxiety.

I just wasn’t as dialed in as I have been for some other races. I forgot my race belt (managed to borrow the exact same race belt that I have from a teammate, go OTC!) I was feeling just a bit lost all morning. I was ten minutes behind schedule when I got into line for the porta potty the last time. Now this isn’t late, it’s just that I was behind perfect and I knew it. The nerves were horrendous. I was practically crying. But there was about 5% of me looking at this saying “Wow, these are some really bad race day nerves!” and not participating in the breakdown.

I nattered at a random person as I walked down to the water and that helped. I saw another ETPA athlete and got some water off of them for the dry mouth that had developed. I was able to zip up my wetsuit with no help!!

SWIM 700 Yards 15:44 2:15/100 Overall Place 70/114

I jumped in with about three minutes before the first wave and six minutes before my race start. It was cold this year! about 58 was what I heard and I felt that all the way in my chest. Brain freeze and yay! more panic. I just held on to the dock and waited for the men’s wave to go.

They went and I took some strokes to get the sighting line right, check my goggle fit, make sure my goggles weren’t fogging up too much. Then it was go time. For all the nerves, I was fine when the horn sounded and we were off.

The word from Raeleigh was to find my edge. Well, I didn’t. I’ve had a mantra for swimming for a while and I lost it. I swam strongly but not as fast as I could have. I tried to kick up my pace once or twice but my chest started to get tight and I just backed right off. My head game was not all the way there and I knew it.

I stayed patient, I kept my strokes long and I kept swimming all the way to the end. No in swim panic, just steady effort.

And when I came out I saw that I hadn’t actually started my watch, so no data beside time. I staggered when I came out which probably cost me a couple of seconds to the timing mat, but that’s all part of the game and it counts.

(Last year was 17:10 – two years ago was 15:39, feeling pretty good about that!)

T2 – 4:39

I was shaky as hell. Heart racing, dizzy. Trying to jog all the way but also trying to got some semblance of control. Top half of the wetsuit off, cap and goggle off on the run up. Had to sit down to get my wetsuit off, feeling slow as anything and like always – top half for speed. 2018 T1 – 5:38.

Bike – 16 miles 58:08 86/114

On the bike I had a power target to meet, not too slow, not too fast. I had to do some watch wrangling to get my power displayed. No riding to feel today! I forgot to lube my bike shoes, so I got to practice really shoving my feet in. I did a big practice session a couple of weeks before for getting into/out of my shoes on the bike, I just forgot I’d be wet this time. Took some breaths and did the thing.

I sat down and tried to match my effort to my target power. It was tough because there were gusting winds, slight rises and depressions and changing road surface. My right hip started to complain about half way through and I was on the look out for having to call it a day. No idea what it was but it didn’t carry on to the run, so I’ll call it stiffness and carry on. After the race my average ride power was exactly in the zone I was aiming for and I rode in under an hour so I am well happy with it.

Last year was a 59:41, so again, improving!

T2 – 1:02

My pride and joy! Which I just whiffed. I couldn’t find my spot! I was just blanking and my towel had gotten thrown over my shoes and I was just dazed and confused for a couple of seconds.

I managed to get it parked and then it was just odd. My brain could not quite wrap around what I was doing. Still grabbed my stuff and got going, just not as fast as usual.

Run 5k (it was long, if Garmin is to be believed) 38:54 12:33 pace 95/114

The run was pretty nice! We had lovely weather all day, low 60s, clear, and dry. Some wind but nothing heinous. I got myself all together, heart rate monitor slipped but I got that sorted set off at my target heart rate.

It’s an out and back so I spent my time cheering on everyone who was coming towards me and everyone who was passing me. It was very, very relaxing to not have to decide whether I was going to chase any of the people who passed me. I had a target and I was going to hit it and that was my whole job.

,Some shin splints for the first mile or so but no serious issues, no blisters either. I gave a tiny kick at the end and that was that. Saw teammates, had a beer and then went for my cool down. Yep, I finished my race and then went running again.

All in all I had fun, I had a very controlled race, I was happy with having a race plan to race to and then racing to the plan. Discovery Bay gets a little better every year, they are very good about incorporating racer feedback. This year they moved a water stop so we hit it twice during the 5k instead of just once at the turnaround.

All things being equal, I’ll probably be out there next year!


How do you like it?

I took a love languages quiz today.

I was really paying attention and what I saw was that words of affirmation mean absolutely fuck all to me. Not that they are not good, but when given the choice I will almost never choose them. Words are the easiest thing to dismiss, for the brain weasels to either erase, deflate, or turn into something bad.

I’m Acts of Service, all day, every day. Then touch, then gifts. Tangible things are inured to the brain weasels. They can’t tell me the garbage didn’t get taken out, they can’t interpret that someone made me coffee into something other than that. With the bonus of if someone does me an act of service they save me energy and the more energy I have, the easier it is to properly recognize the brain weasel thoughts and put then “over there in the corner with their crazy friends.” It’s a virtuous cycle.

What’s your love language? If you had your druthers, how would others give you affection?

Race Report – Barb’s Tri

(Ed Note: I wrote this ages ago and am putting it up incomplete)

This summer hasn’t been the best for my training. I got some sort of wonderful lung thing that started as a cough and then continued being a cough for a month. Not optimal for sports that depend on the body being able to get, you know, oxygen.

But, in spite of this, I signed up for Barb’s Tri. Why, Fyre? Why sign up for a race when you haven’t been able to train?

My club set this as a focus race this year. Barb’s Race was the only women’s only half distance triathlon in the US. It was run concurrently with the Vineman Full Distance triathlon and was a fundraiser to support people living with cancer. When WTC (you know them as Ironman) bought Vineman a couple of years ago, the bought the rights to the name “Barb’s Race” and promptly killed it stating that it didn’t fit into their model.

This was the first year of the new Barb’s Tri, started by that same Barb. So bronchitis or no bronchitis, I wanted to be there to support this race. The fundraising was modest – just $100. The distance was short – a sprint. I’d been training all spring so the distance was doable, I needed to stick with what my body was telling me on the day.

I sent out a fundraising blurb on Facebook but I was completely prepared to throw down the $100 on top of registration. Well, BAM! Donations! I was covered and right quickly with many messages of “Fuck Cancer!”

So now I really had to do it, didn’t I?

There is a wonderful freedom when you race without expectations. I didn’t worry about how fast I was going to go, all I concerned myself with was racing within my limits aka – not puking or feeling like I couldn’t breathe.

OTC had a fine turnout (the first three people in transition were from my club) so there were many people to complain to about racing with bronchitis or whatever the hell was wrong with me. As I warmed up in the water I was very focused on how I was feeling. I felt great. I was able to swim without any distress, which was my goal.

I was racing the sprint distance – 750 meter swim, 12.5 mile bike, 3.1 mile run. The swim started wonderfully. Warm water, mild current in the river, a small race with lots of camaraderie. Then my goggles started leaking. I stopped swimming three times in the first half to try and clear them but had no luck. I resigned myself to having one eye to sight with and stayed calm and even.

When I hit the beach I walked. Usually I push transitions but not this day. Swim to bike is when my heart rate spikes and I was trying to avoid having my lungs do too much. I sauntered up the beach and over the grass to transition and got on my bike without any urgency.

As I got going on the bike I took my time and got very, very warm. Then I felt a bit of aggression and I wanted to push. My body was more than willing to pick up the pace. I very happily spun through the country (it’s a lovely course) and passed a couple of people. It was just fantastic conditions and I was having a great time.

I took a slight wrong turn on the way back but didn’t go too far and corrected to get back to transition. Whoops! I’ve made a bonehead move in most of my races this year. I’ve been able to laugh them off, which is great. I’m able to not take myself too seriously or beat myself up, I just have a giggle at my silliness and let it go.

Back in transition, I wasn’t pulling any fancy maneuvers for dismounting. I rolled up and quickly changed my shoes, grabbed my hat and got out on the run, again, careful to keep it comfortable.

I chugged along. Not pushing hard but definitely keeping it moving. I’ve finally learned to run “comfortably hard.” No spikes, no troughs, just one level effort start to finish.  I did stop to drink at the aid station in the spirit of not going too hard.

I came into the finish behind three women. If I’d been in better shape and in the space to push I would have tried to out kick them but that wasn’t the order of the day. I jogged in to the finish

She’s not hungry

My daughter is five. She recently started kindergarten and we have settled into a morning routine. She usually has cereal for breakfast.

This morning she didn’t finish it. I saw that bowl with milk and little “o”s in it and I got mad. “I work for the money for that food!” “Why is she wasting food?” She doesn’t intend those things though.

Why was I mad? I was mad because I would never have done that. I filled the bowl and sprinkled sugar on it and drank down every last drop of milk. Why? Because I was hungry. She’s not finishing it because she isn’t hungry for it.

My kid has enough to eat. She eats when she is hungry and stops when she is full.  We make sure that she gets enough protein and eats vegetables and don’t make her clean her plate.

I get frustrated when she doesn’t eat a lot or rejects food without trying it. Her tastes and appetite change. But sometimes she’s not hungry and that’s a good thing.


More Data for Better Living – Swim Stroke Rate

So I know my stroke rate in the pool is slow – usually around 44 spm. I was racing on Sunday and my stroke rate was ~60 spm. I know that a faster stroke rate is better, and it’s definitely better for open water – I hadn’t been aiming for it, I just fell into it. I went back and looked at my previous four races this year. Same deal – my arms always move faster when I’m racing.

I’m much faster in the water when I race and I had been chalking that up solely to the wetsuit but now I’m thinking it’s a combo of wet suit and a higher cadence.