Friday, August 31, 2007

Telethon not Triathlon

This weekend, I'm participating in a different kind of "thon"... the annual MDA Labor Day (Jerry Lewis) Telethon.

No, I won't be at the big shebang (the nationally televised show, which is live from Las Vegas)... I'll be at the telethon in Asheville, NC. WLOS will film our local version: featuring patients, families, Carolina area VIP's, local fire departments, etc... then, some of these segments will air during Jerry Lewis telethon cut-aways.

Anyway... work is crazy busy. Wrapping up from an event we held yesterday (also in Asheville). Now we're trying to get our heads back on, get stuff together, and go back to Asheville on Sunday. There, we'll hold an all-night telethon... which runs through Labor Day.

I've never planned for or participated in a telethon. So far, it's more confusing than Silly Sally's triathlon hydration plan... or, Peter's daily supplement regimen. Looking over the script, come Monday... I expect to be more exhausted than if I did a triathlon.

*I can't believe I'll have gone to Asheville twice in one week... without going for a ride in the mountains. Augh! I love Asheville, but it's better when you're there for "vacation time." Which brings me back to the vacation time issue I discussed in a previous post.

Also, this weekend is the USA Cycling Pro Championships - in Greenville! Yippee, some cycling excitement here at home. Tonight, Mom and I are going to the VIP reception (Sally is the VIP... I think I'm the "plus one"). Then, tomorrow we will tour George Hincapie's Performance Training Village, Pla d'Adet.... in a helicopter! Fun! Following the helicopter ride, we'll watch the time trial. On Sunday, because I leave for Asheville, I'll miss the group ride with George as well as the road race.

I'll write more about this next week. Hey Elizabeth, maybe I'll get my picture taken with "smockin" George himself, ha ha.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

how to: feel fast

The next time you're feeling sluggish... or just need a confidence booster, might I recommend working out with a pro triathlete who's just raced and IM and driven himself home. he he he.

After Cour d'Alene, Peter and his tired self joined me for a track workout. Damn, did I look like I was flying during those 400's. Right. Maybe instead of feeling so good about my running... I should have realized that a guy, who just finished an IM, was right on the heels of my fresh legs during my all out efforts.

Well, this morning I made Peter meet me at the pool. He said swimming would help his recovery... and I hoped it would help my self confidence. There we were doing 200's, Peter with pull-buoy and paddles - me with neither. During the faster intervals, I could almost keep up! Wow, this post is beginning to sound sad. I need to stop writing before I get depressed about having to red-line it, just to keep up with Peter (2 days and a long drive out of Louisville).

Monday, August 27, 2007

IM Louisville



What an exciting day! Although IMLive was acting-up most of the day (frequently causing me to yell at my computer monitor), I followed race coverage until Peter crossed the finish line.

Not actually being in Louisville, and relying on the internet to give you updates is torture! Refreshing the page, trying to search for other friends in the field, going crazy because the IM site would not cooperate.

So, after checking the final swim times I headed out for my long run. While I ran, I thought about all the IM competitors out on the course... great motivation for my workout.

I came back to find that he was having a good day on the bike. Coming into T2 30 minutes behind the leaders is a gap Peter can usually chisel away at on the run. On a warm (not HOT, as he would have preferred) day in Louisville... Peter finished the IM in 9:22:18 (13th Pro, 14th OA).

As he told me after his visit to the medical tent (Peter's favorite post-race party... 2 IV's = good times), he was happy with his race. The bike was MUCH improved from Cour d'Alene... so, he feels like his training is moving in the right direction. Now, if he can just drop the same amount of time for IM Florida ;)

I'll try to write more about the race after I get some stories from Peter... and other people who were actually at the race.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

boo-ville & loo-vull

Alright, I'll start with the moaning and complaining. It is TOO HOT HERE! I know, I know... I moved to SC to get out of the cold/snow/dreary conditions. But, seriously... 98-104 for two weeks in a row! My body is melting, my bones are drying up, everything is dying, electrolyte drinks have become my life-force. It's already in the 80's when I get up for a morning workout, then by the time I get off work... the asphalt has become a scorching passageway to the place often referred to as, “just leave me here to die.” I’m pretty sure there was a buzzard circling overhead during my last ride… he knew what was coming.

I’ve realized there’s a HUGE difference between 95 degrees and anything 100+. 95 is hot for running & slightly uncomfortable for riding. Over 100, and it’s a different story. Running in temps over 100 is a death wish… for me, it’s intolerable… even riding feels like you’re peddling through a steamy oven (which is set to pre-heat… and ready to cook your BODY).

Usually, during a brick run, I think about drinks (ice, coke, lemonade, powerade, Lipton green tea with citrus…). However, during my last brick run… I was cursing Peter for not having his own IV machine (or whatever they’re called).

Ok, I’m done talking about the heat. It couldn’t possibly last another week, right?! Sure as I post this, we’ll set some kind of extreme heat-duration record. Deep Breath. It could be worse. I could deal with below zero temps for weeks on end (ha ha you IL people).

My other topic of complaint: Not enough Vacation Days! I like my job, but the vacation day policy for new employees sucks. 5 DAYS! What am I supposed to do with 5 days?! I need 3 the week of Christmas… so, now I’m down to 2!!! This is the reason I’ve only done races in SC. I have no time to mess with travel. Now that I’ve committed to a wedding coming up in Colorado (Connie! Love ya, so excited!)… I’m down to even fewer days.

Consequently, I’ve decided to stay home while Peter races IM Louisville. Going to Coeur d’Alene was out of the question from the get go… but, Louisville… this one I hate to miss! Peter and I talked through every plan imaginable: he gets a ride there, I drive up Friday, and he rides back with me (unfortunately, we couldn’t find anyone leaving on Thursday)… well, then we thought maybe we could ride up together (when I got off work Thurs) and I’d drive his car back after the race (hum… he’d get to L’ville at midnight on Thursday and I’d get back to SC around 2am Monday morning… yeah, no). All this ranting makes me want to mention the astronomical gas prices… really, that’s the root of the problem! Anyway, it all started to sound crazy… and I don’t want him stressing. So, in Greenville I remain.

Anyway, I’ll focus my cheerleading efforts on IM Florida. Actually, banking the day off… and using it to go to Panama City will be better. We have many more friends racing/watching; it’ll be a fun weekend.

About Louisville… or ‘Loo-vull’ as people here call it: Best of luck to everyone racing this inaugural IM event! You are going to be in the South, so watch out for dogs chasing your rear wheel, red-necks tossing beer cans out of their truck windows as you hammer it out on the bike, the aforementioned HEAT, slow talkin’ volunteers, sweet tea and fried snacks at aid stations, did I say it might be HOT?! ( says 90 on race day)

GO PETER! After freezing in Wisconsin and Florida last year, then again in Coeur d’Alene earlier this year… you’re due for a warm race. Also good luck to Jay H and P (a friend of Sally’s, who I know reads this blog, and better comment on this one ;).

Also, good luck to Theresa this weekend in her first ever tri: Lake Norman, NC. You have done the training and I know you’re ready. What a way to celebrate the big 3-0! Can’t wait to hear about your experience. Stay calm, have fun, and remain hydrated (my new mantra).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Gay, European, or Triathlete?

You help me decide. The following is a list of qualifying statements. Which male classification do they seem to depict?

Techno Music: appropriate for any hour of the day.

In your opinion, most Americans are fat and lazy.

At your house, clothing is optional… and you’re not afraid to change outdoors, in public parking lots, poolside, etc…

To you, Coffee is a food group.

When asked the question, “Who’s your favorite team?” You answer with something like: CSC, Credit Agricole, Quick Step, T-Mobile, or Rabobank.

When it comes to body image, you’re worse than an anorexic high school cheerleader on diet pills. You constantly weigh yourself and obsess over extra pounds.

Drugs? Yes please!… as long as they’ll make you faster, less inhibited, relieved of pain, energized, lighter, or totally relaxed.

When going for a run, you take serious time picking out matching shoes/shorts/sunglasses. When going out for a ride, you’ll spend precious time searching for the jersey that goes with the bibs you’re wearing. The process is stretched out further when you must determine which sunglasses look best with the chosen apparel. Hello! You never know who you might meet or see while out on the roads.

Preferred style of bathing suit = Speedo

You own an espresso maker, you know how to use it, you collect espresso cups, and you can drink 3 cups in a row without getting the shakes.

You use sunscreen on a daily basis… who wants premature wrinkles?!

You shave your bikini line.

While some people consider a fun night with friends as: getting together at a smoky bar, to eat greasy/fried appetizers (ie: wings, nachos, fries, onion rings, loaded potato skins, etc…), and watching football…. You would prefer to host friends at your house, cook dinner, and enjoy conversation over good wine.

Footwear is serious business.

You don’t see anything wrong with having a calendar featuring nude models hanging in your entryway.

“Lube” is often on your shopping list (oh yeah, I went there).

While amongst a group of average Americans, you feel like a minority.

When you tell people about your weekend plans, they look at you like you're crazy… (this could be due to your heavy accent, or the actual plans you’re describing)

You’re feeling slow and sluggish… maybe you need to hydrate?! (fyi, Hydrate is a very popular gay club in Chicago)

You have no problem asking, another guy, what products are best to prevent chaffing… “down there.”

While in a pack of males, you might be spotted “cruising.” Then, as you attach yourself to the hindquarters of the chosen guy… you pant, sweat, and drool… all the while, trying to stay on his butt.

So, as you’ve probably concluded… these statements seem to describe two, if not three of our male groupings. Beware the Gay European Triathlete, I’m sure he’s out there somewhere.

Monday, August 20, 2007

weekend - this and that

It’s like I want to write a post… but, I don’t know what to say. Maybe I’ll just give a random recap of my weekend, and we’ll see where that goes…

Friday afternoon/night… decent swim workout followed by dinner with Peter, Robin, and Keith.

Let’s discuss the swim here for a min. 1st off, I’d like to say a big Hallelujah for the return of high school swim season. No, I didn’t join the local HS team… but, until late, I’ve had to share a pool with the age group club team. OUCH! 9-10 year olds kicking my butt! Maybe, on their one-arm-fist-butterfly-no breathing DRILLS… I can hang with them (of course, I’m doing an all out 50). Ps; some 13 year old girl from the team just qualified for the Olympic Trials in the 100 fly! I’d MUCH rather my practice time coincide with the hs team. Hey, they can still beat me… but, it’s a much closer race to the wall.
I don’t usually describe my workouts in full detail, but here goes: WU 500 free. 10 X 50 drill. (400 @ 85%; 200 pull no paddles @ race pace; 4 X 50 all out effort) X 3. 200 CD. Wow, wasn’t that exciting to read.

Now, on to a more exciting Friday event… dinner. Peter and I hit-up the Publix grocery store for pizza ingredients, and then headed to Robin & Keith’s house. It was a great evening filled with yummy pizza, wine, hilarious stories… an overall A+ night with friends. My favorite topic = Keith’s years at the Naval Academy. Poor guy was starving so badly, he actually stole a loaf of white bread from the mess hall… then, ate the whole thing in the middle of the night. Thanks guys! And, I’d like to mention the dogs (Cleo and Brutus) were on their best behavior, ah.

Wasn’t easy to get up for that long run on Saturday morning. Probably already dehydrated, I got on the road around 7:30. Already into the 80’s… we were going to have another hot one. It was humid, and my stride felt off. After 4 miles, I was planning to do a 3 mile TT effort. I hit my watch and sped up… after completing the course (what I thought was 3 miles), I looked down to see 27:05. WHAT?! Yeah, I should just quit now. The next 20 minutes were spent jogging along, contemplating my slow time.

Finally, I could stop moving… drink… stretch… shower… drink more… PETER! So, either I ran longer than 3 miles for that TT…. Or, I just suck big time. When I described where I ran (the route I thought he’d told me was 3 miles)… he cleared it up, I actually ran 4 miles hard. Ok, that’s better.

Back to Publix (doughnuts and water), and then I drove to the Spartanburg Fire Department. They’ve been doing a Fill-the-Boot drive to raise money for MDA. Great guys, standing outside on these HOT days, asking for donations. Can’t thank the S’burg FD enough!

As I returned home, the temps were moving into the upper 90’s. My body was begging for rest. I actually sat on the couch, legs propped up on a pillow, cool drink by my side, and read. I started & finished an entire 262 page book. Might I recommend “Running with the Buffalo's.” Recount of a year spent with the University of Colorado’s CC Team.

That night, a bit under dressed, I went to Caroline’s birthday party… festivities at Kate’s new place. Great old-school music, dancing… the typical party scene. Funniest occurrences of the night…. Acrobatics: seeing how many girls could fit into the powder room at once; Kate’s wardrobe changes; the piƱata filled with tic-tacs; a trip to the haunted basement… I went home as they were headed downtown.

Sunday morning I woke up early for the Greenville Sprint triathlon. Thank God I wasn’t racing, I might have died. I don’t have a good excuse for not entering the race. But, I’ve learned to keep my name off the participant list if I’m not excited about the event! So, I reverted back to my cheerleading days… and supported Peter & other friends. Although Peter’s been in full-on IM training mode (Louisville next weekend), he had a smokin’ fast sprint race. He won the elite division… but, there was a fast amateur who ended up posting the fastest time by about 30 seconds.

After the race, G. (who also raced well!) and Peter rode their bikes home (about 30 miles). I drove back to Peter’s house and went out for my long ride. Since I’d spent so much time at the race, it was now the middle of the day… and H-O-T. 12 miles in, and both water bottles were already empty. Luckily, there’s a church on the regular TT loop… that church (well, the hose on the side of it) has saved me more times than Billy Graham has called for people to “become a Christian.”

Two 9 mile TT’s later and I was spent. Done. Finished. It was so hot and windy, I pictured myself cranking out the efforts in the Sahara Desert. There was a constant, scorching, thick, head wind. Honestly, I wondered if I’d make it home. In my mind, I’d already called off the brick run……….. but, after a slow 10 miles… I had some Coke and put on my running shoes. I actually had people (who were out watering plants) shake their head at me as I ran by. Yes, I know I was crazy to be running at 4pm while heat radiated off the asphalt.

Usually a cold drink and a shower are all I need to shake off a tough day of training. But, Sunday… Sunday was another story. I felt exhausted to the core. Dehydration, maybe? Lack of sleep, possible. Whatever it is, hit me hard. I’m with Jen… sometimes you need to detox. I don’t know how I’ll do that this week, but liquids (both alcoholic and electrolyte charged) will be involved.

Another important note from the weekend… I lost my roommate, Noel. She moved to Santa Rosa, CA. There are too many things to say about her departure. Another blog will be dedicated to her soon! You know I miss you Noel!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

MDA Summer Camp

Sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed early, lace up my running shoes and hit the pavement… or drive to the pool and jump in the water. When it’s 104 degrees outside, and I drip sweat just pumping my tires, do I really want to ride? There are times I would rather do a brick shower than a brick run. I find myself complaining about slow times, or feeling exhausted during a workout.

However - aches, pains, miles, yards, sacrifices, early mornings, sore muscles, fatigue, etc… are all part of being an athlete. They make you stronger, faster, more powerful, mentally tough. And, all things considered… I welcome the torture, because I can. I am able.

I got a good reminder of this last week. From time to time, it’s good to get a swift kick in the butt. And, MDA Summer Camp did just that. Spending time amongst those kids… witnessing their challenges, seeing their joy, watching them sing, dance, swim, play, pull pranks, laugh… reaffirmed the work I do. Not only did it validate my job, it struck an emotional chord.

On the surface, my work is in fundraising: event planning. I have goals to meet, deadlines, budgets to exceed, phone calls, emails… but, sometimes I forget the importance of what I do. The money I raise sends these kids to camp. A camp they call, “the best week of their lives.” A time when they can be together and not feel like an outcast in a wheelchair. They are understood, accepted, not alone.

During arts and crafts, we turned their power wheelchairs into race-cars fit for the MDA 500. There was a video game tournament. We had water gun fights, told ghost stores, and roasted marshmallows. At the talent show we had singers and pianists. Some kids went fishing. We tie-dyed shirts, played softball, watched a movie, and their favorite… spent time in the pool!

As normal as these activities seem, there is an undeniable challenge when you don’t have full use of your limbs. Most of these children rely on someone to help them use the restroom, bathe, eat, get dressed… actions I don’t think about twice. I heard the nurses stress the use of bug spray. They made it sound so important, I had to ask. One nurse explained that bug bites can be torture when you can’t scratch them! If they are uncomfortable lying in bed, a counselor had to rotate or reposition them. Can you imagine… simply needing assistance when you want to roll over, or scratch a bug bite on your leg?!

Too often I complain about swimming. I struggle to make intervals, I get bored, my body gets tired. Well, these kids consider the pool heaven on earth! It’s quite a production to get them into the water, but once they’re there… you can see their delight. No longer are their limbs heavy burdens. Their smiles, heads bobbing up and down in the water, are memories etched in my mind… a newfound motivation for me as I push off the wall.

Summer camp is just one of the many things funded by event proceeds. We help provide necessary medical devices (wheelchairs, communication tools, leg braces, and so on), support group meetings (for patients and their families), counseling, flu shots (as their immune system is often affected), medical clinics, physical therapy… and one of the most important areas: research. The search for a cure.

Spending time at MDA summer camp was not the first time I’ve felt fortunate for my health, and it will not be the last. But, we all need a reminder every now and then. I'm sure, in the future, I’ll still moan about tired legs, aching muscles, and long workouts… but, today I am lucky. I was blessed with an able body. Something to think about the next time you find yourself scraping the bottom of your training fuel barrel.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Lake Logan Race Pics

Here are some pictures from last weekend's race (see: every second counts)

ps. Is it sad that I can wear Peter's hand-me-down tri shorts?! Really, it can't be good.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Reviews & Recommendations

I can spend hours in a Barnes & Nobel Store. It's peaceful, cool (sometimes a bit too cold, as I politely discussed with the Manager during my last visit), close to my office (great for lunch breaks)... and they are in the business of selling some of my favorite products: Books, CD's, Movies, and Coffee! This combination doesn't get much better.

After long days and weeks of training, my body asks for down time. Reading, listening to music, or watching a movie is the way to go. Well, I've been very pleased with my recent purchases... here are my reviews and recommendations:

The Emperor's Children
I hesitate to evaluate books because I'm not a reviewer, I'm a reader. Nevertheless, I would like to counteract some of the bad reviews I found regarding this book. The Emperor's Children is suitable for someone who likes modern literary fiction. Those fans of Stephen King and Tom Clancy should probably not bother. Books like this are not about the 'plot'. They're about people, life, experiences, love, rejection, crisis, family, etc... The writing is exquisite. The characters are fully drawn and highly believable. If you like beautifully written, character driven literary fiction, you can't beat Messud.
*to note: it's also the 1st fiction novel I've read which depicts the events of September 11th (although, it's definitely not the focus of the book!).

CD (Soundtrack)
Miami Vice Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

"In the Air Tonight" - Nonpoint
"One of These Mornings" - Moby with Patti LaBelle
"We're No Here" - Mogwai
"Sinner Man (Felix Da Housecat's Heavenly House Mix)" - Nina Simone
"Auto Rock" - Mogwai
"Arranca" - Manzanita
"Ready For Love" - India.Arie
"Strict Machine (We Are Glitter Goldfrapp Mix)" - Goldfrapp
"Pennies in My Pocket" - Emilio Estefan
"New World in My View" - King Britt & Sister Gertrude Morgan
"Sweep" - Blue Foundation
"Anthem" - Moby
"Blacklight Fantasy" - Freaky Chakra
"Mercado Nuevo" - John Murphy
"Who Are You" - John Murphy
"Ramblas" - King Britt & Tim Motzer
"A-500" - Klaus Badelt & Mark Batson

GREAT soundtrack... some techno, a few Latin inspired tracks, some good instrumental pieces from the score, and more. I love a soundtrack for it's variety.

MOVIEYES! This movie is Amazing... can't believe it didn't get an Oscar nomination. Ok, ok... so it's no complex drama, but it is good. Maybe this is the "cheerleader" in me coming out. Am I the only triathlete who watches Center Stage the night before a race for motivation?

Recovering from a tough weekend, Peter and I sat down to watch a movie on Sunday night. This was my choice.... so, he pretty much made fun of it the entire way through - and that, in itself, was entertainment for me. After my blog about his poor dancing skills, I thought he would be eager to learn and improve. Not so much. But, seeing him try a pirouette... and come close to death, was priceless!

*and, another Great soundtrack!


Monday, August 6, 2007

every second counts

Lake Logan Race Report

It was another early start on race day - alarm going off at 4:20. We predicted the drive time to be about 90 min... oops! In leaving 10 min late, and underestimating travel time... we pushed it WAY too close. After fighting through the mountain fog and trying to avoid state troopers on the highway... we finally pulled into the Lake Logan Park. We were funneled off the main road into the grass area parking lot, further and further and further back. As Dean, Peter, and I were opening car doors... we caught a race announcement over the loud speakers: "transition area to close in 15 minutes."

AH! We grabbed for bags, threw on shoes, ran to registration (praying that it wasn't already closed). Stood in line for our race packets, port-o-potties, body marking... then another mad dash, back to the car. Scrambled for bikes, wheels, wetsuits, etc... then ran, sprinted, back to transition. This was, by far, the closest I've come to missing the start of a race.

Well, with a "warm-up" already accomplished, I tried to locate an opening on the bike rack... and set up my area.

"The transition area is now closed, please make your way to the swim start"

I hooked my bike on the rack, unloaded shoes, socks, helmet, sunglasses, race belt (numbers... I know they gave me numbers, where are they... oh, phew...), attached #165 to helmet and race belt, dug for goggles, grabbed my wetsuit, looked for Peter, and we hightailed it to the mass of people already in the water.
We were both struggling to get our wetsuits pulled up, while holding our goggles & cap. Jeremy proceeded with the kick off speech, while Peter and I zipped each other up. With a quick "good luck," we split up... and I saw him dive into the water.

I took a breath and tried to gain composure. I was to start in the 2nd wave, which I thought was all the women. Without much time to get nervous, I made my way around the dock and found a spot among the girls. In the past few races, I've been in the elite wave... a small group of strong competitors. Usually, I know the people I'm starting with. Well, this race was different. I knew Alicia Parr (the race favorite) was among the ladies... Kimberly was here somewhere, right?

We got a 60 second warning, then 30 seconds... my heart was pounding. The gun went off, and as usual... I felt like I was instantly in last place. I tried to find some feet, but the girls around me were either way ahead of me... or going off course. I aimed for the 1st buoy. My stroke felt labored, breathing irregular, shoulders tight. As I sighted the yellow turn buoy, I was passing men from the 1st wave. I tried to pick up my pace as I rounded the 1st turn. *Here's where I finally calmed down.

While breathing to the left, I caught sight of the mountains. Ok, so maybe I shouldn't have been sight seeing during the race... but, it was so gorgeous. One of my favorite Peter/Joe quotes popped into my mind, "aren't we just so lucky to be doing this?!"

I rounded the second turn... now, it was a straight shot to the bridge (swim finish). I focused on my stroke, reach, pull, kick, breath, stay straight. The bridge was getting closer. Because we were in such a rush to get everything in order before the race, I'd failed to identify the important entry/exit points at the transition area. Oh well... the one benefit to knowing you're not going to be the 1st person out of the water, ha ha. Always someone to follow.

I swam under the bridge and felt a rush of cold water. The swim finish was located right where a river fed into the lake. (see pics at top of page - dock on bottom left) I got to the floating dock and pushed myself out of the water (never easy at the end of a swim). It was a pretty long run to TA... hum, what # am I again (so I could find the rack which held my bike).

Following a not so speedy transition, I ran my bike down the gravel path to the mount line. I jumped on my chariot and took off after the guys ahead of me. The start to the bike course was up a hill to get out of the park area. My legs felt strong and I passed a few guys going up the hill.

Now, according to what I'd been told... this was to be a "flat/fast bike course." Yeah, so when I found my average speed to be 24.5 mph at mile 12... I began to wonder. Uh, what goes down from transition, must come back up to transition. It was pretty much a false flat most of the way back, with a nice 1 kilometer climb right before we finished the bike. I had passed 2 girls along the ride, and as I made my way onto the run someone yelled, "2nd girl."

I knew who was ahead of me... and in knowing her capabilities, I was sure she was AHEAD of me. The run became a personal challenge. Thank goodness I'd read the race description: 5K up and 5K down. To be honest, hills don't bother me. I took the first mile out conservatively... I felt good. Well, 2 miles into that uphill run, I could feel my calves getting tight. There was no relief from the uphill. The route was not steep, but there was NO flat or downhill for 5K. I pumped my arms and put my head down. Already, I could tell my legs would be sore the following day!

The run, albeit challenging, was fantastic! We were climbing, winding up a road, alongside a river, a waterfall splashed to my right. I took a second to appreciate the surroundings, the beauty around us. I was having fun. Soon I saw Peter flying down the mountain, no words - but a smile shared. Not long after him, Alicia came charging down. She looked comfortable, fast, and strong!

Finally, calves on fire, I could see the turn around. Ah, sweet relief. I opened up my stride, let my legs fly. It was downhill the whole way back (fyi my 1st 5K was 23:55, my 2nd 5K was around 19:30). I saw other women running toward the turn around, but none in super-close distance. I caught sight of Kimberly running uphill... hum, what's going on. Normally, we're very close out of the water. If I happen to beat her in the swim, she's for sure to pass me up on the bike. I suspected mechanical problems, a flat? *remember, I thought all the women started in the 2nd wave.

I felt great rounding the last turn and running across the Finish. However, without any competition ahead of me (Alicia was a mile+ ahead on the run)... there was no need to sprint the finish. (or so I thought)

I caught up with Peter, grabbed some water, and looked for Alicia. She was with a reporter and I made my way over to where they were talking. After they finished up, I congratulated her on an outstanding race. According to Peter, they'd rolled into T2 together! Damn girlfriend. It was great to meet Alicia and hear about her Nationals experience, and plans for Worlds.

Walking back to the transition area with Peter, I was so happy with this race! I had managed a decent swim, strong bike, and I had really enjoyed the run. 2nd Place (what I thought at this point) was awesome... coming into the race, I had no idea what the competition would be like.

Not only was the race challenging and fun - the location was Amazing! Personally, I give this one the "most beautiful race site in the SE award!"

Dean, all smiles after his race, found Peter and I when he finished. I was glad to see his excitement... in his 2nd Olympic distance tri, he dropped 15 minutes!!! WOWZA!

Without waisting any time, Peter collected his stuff and we went back to the car. Not that Peter didn't race hard (I don't think he'd know how to take a race easy if you paid him)... but, he's had a tough 2 weeks of training in preparation for IM Kentucky. The race was great training, and just for additional fun... he would be riding up to the Blue Ridge Parkway (11 mile climb nearing 6,000 ft of elevation), and all the way home (est. 110 miles).

After giving us instructions on where to meet him along the way, he was off. Dean and I headed back over to the post race gathering for awards. To check my final time, I made my way to the posting. That's when I realized that Kimberly had beat me by 3 seconds! What?! Did I have a penalty... no. After asking around, I leaned of a 2nd wave of women (over 40). And it all made sense. That's why she didn't pass me on the bike. Seriously, we started in different waves and finished 3 seconds apart. wow.

Alicia had dominated the Women's race by 9 min! I can't wait to see what she does in Germany. She was a gracious champion and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her.

Kimberly and I shared a laugh as I accepted the 3rd place trophy. Since our swim times are consistently very close... and she can kill me on the bike... I'm usually left to run after her. Lake Logan proved to be what triathlons are all about: going as hard as you can, for yourself. I have learned that every second does count. Looking at the results, I shake my head at the transition times... I swear I don't stop for coffee after the swim!

After awards, Dean and I drove off in search of the crazy Czech riding into the mountains. After winding, climbing, and almost going off the road admiring the views... we found Peter, out of the saddle, jersey unzipped, sweat streaming down his chin, SMILING as he pumped his legs.

"This is AWESOME," he yelled. "I feel like I'm climbing to the sky."
We left him to his "play time," and accelerated ahead. Dean and I pulled onto the BR Parkway... frequently pulling over at the scenic overlooks. After an 11 mile climb, and 10 miles along the parkway, Peter stopped at the car. Dean unloaded his bike and they made final plans for the trip home.

I would drive the car to the end of the descent, and wait for them at a gas station. Well, I think they were ahead of me most of the way down! Driving Dean's beast, I had to go slow around the frequent turns. They however, got aero and probably came close to 50 mph.

After loading up on snacks and coke, I drove away from the insane boys. They had quite a journey ahead... and a couch was calling my name.

Anticipating their condition upon getting home, I stopped to buy drinks on the way back to Peter's. The temperature was around 96 and I was soaked just unpacking the car, bikes, and bags.

Around 5:45 pm, I was getting anxious. Dean's longest ride (before Saturday) was 75 miles. Today they'd be riding close to 100 (very hilly miles)... home from a RACE! Finally, the very salty, sweaty, tired, boys came through the door. Dean immediately hit the floor.

YEAH! They made it home and lived to tell me about it. My favorite story from their ride involved a guy, obviously drunk, who pulled up to a gas station.... on his riding lawn mower... beer in hand. Mmmm, back-woods NC. Ye-haw.

What a GREAT weekend. I loved that race! I'm pleased with my performance and how I felt throughout. I was even able to wake up on Sunday and, after a slow 1st mile, get into a rhythm for 10 miles.

Here is an article about the race (from an Asheville, NC paper)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

One Crazy Czech

Seriously, I love to laugh… and certain people have the ability to strike my funny bone (much like a doctor taking that rubber mallet to your knee to check reflexes)

Peter possesses this talent. Let me take a minute to describe the many ways he displays his comedic powers:

Peter – The Chef
This doesn’t sound very funny, but I assure you… I’ve actually fallen to the floor laughing while in his kitchen. He’s what you might describe as a… hum, picky eater. So, when it comes to a foodstuff he’ll eat… he purchases it in bulk. I do mean BULK. He orders oats, rice, and couscous from a farm in Kentucky. It is like he’s housing livestock… there are feed-bags in his breakfast nook!

He also has a Hot Sauce collection that will rival any Mexican/Thai/Spicy food restaurant. (If you’ve seen the 1st date scene in the movie “Along Came Polly”… when Ben Stiller is sweating through his shirt… well, this is Peter & his hot sauce, aka “man sauce” dinners). And, I’m not going to even start on his fancy-shmancy coffee/espresso/cappuccino maker (which I’m scared to touch… Jen, I know you can relate here).

Fortunately, he a great cook. I often enjoy homemade pizza, baked pasta, Brazilian style rice & beans, oatmeal creations (various combinations of oats, peanut butter, nutella, honey, flax seed, olive or almond oil), yummy breads and cheeses, etc… oh, if you could only see how much of the listed items he can put away (and with such speed)! Once, while eating, he noted how long it was taking me to finish the meal.
“Well, I take smaller bites… I enjoy the taste, texture… I chew…”
“What?!” he said, “you chew… how do you chew rice?!”
“What?! You don’t chew,” I cried back.
“I only chew food that’s too big for me to swallow whole. I like to give my stomach a work out while I’m digesting,” was his serious explanation.

Peter – The Performer
He can sing, dance, and do dramatic readings… just not well, according to normal standards. But, he does them with pizzazz and conviction!
As far as his singing goes… Do you know of William Hung (famous American Idol contestant, of Asian decent, who did “She Bang, She Bang”)? Well, let’s put it this way. Peter thinks he’s good. Not good, like funny good. Peter thinks William’s got actual talent. One of Peter’s favorites to sing, “It’s a Beautiful Day,” by his favorite band: U2. There is no possible way to describe it here in writing. He says that, to himself (in his own head), he sounds just like Bono! Sure Peter, keep telling yourself that.

Peter’s dancing pretty much parallels his singing. He and William Hung would make a mean duet. Those Czech hips just don’t lie. I don’t think his momma gave him much to shake… nor does he have a booty.

The dramatic readings are something to behold. I think it began when I was having a “down day.” In an attempt to cheer me up… he grabbed a nearby cereal box and began reading the back. Not just reading, but passionately reciting the text with fervor and hand gestures. I’ll never look at a box of Kashi GoLean Crunch the same again.

Peter – The Model
This falls in line with his talents in the arts, above. I attribute his modeling skills to his European-ness. He is super picky about what he wears, how it looks, if it matches, etc… I’ll run in just about anything – I mean, it’s a workout… I’m going to get sweaty. Well, somehow, in Peter’s world… the road is his runway. He dresses up for the catwalk. He decides on running shoes and sunglasses according to what he’s got on for the run. Rudy Project would be proud to see him flying down the streets in Moore, SC!

One of my favorite Peter quotes: Once, I commented that a certain shirt looked nice on him.
His response, “I know, I can make anything look good.”
(Fyi, it was said in complete seriousness)
He followed it with, “even goggles look good on me.”
I’m sure at this point, I was having trouble breathing.
Self confidence is NOT an issue here, obviously.

Peter – The Czech Language Teacher
I’m intrigued by anyone who can speak multiple languages. Sometimes, I’ll even get on a kick and try to learn some new words. I’ve quickly learned that Czech is the most difficult and confusing language EVER created. During a ride one day, I asked Peter to teach me some Czech phrases.
*disclaimer: NONE of the Czech words will be spelled correctly… I’m writing them phonetically.
“Ok,” he said. “Doa Prava… To the Right.”
“Doa Lava… To the Left.”
Easy enough… I spent many rides practicing my new words. I directed us around the streets… Doa Prava, Doa Lava… then I made a slight slip, a mispronunciation… Doa Pradilla. Oops, don’t know where that came from.
Peter almost fell off his bike laughing. “WHAT?!!! Did you just say ‘Doa Pradilla?’ Do you know what that means?!”
No, I definitely don’t know what that means.
“You just said, ‘up the @$$’!!!”
Are you kidding me… Doa Prava is ‘to the right” and Doa Pradilla is “up the @$$?” yeah, I’d say that’s a slip up. My bad. “Well, let’s go Doa Prava… definitely not Doa Pradilla.”

His father, Jiri, came over from Czech last December. Jiri got quite a kick out of my Doa Pradilla mistake. Then, taking advantage of my Czech ignorance… Jiri taught me, what he called a Czech lullaby. “Stirgi mishki yedna girsa… yeh na dru ha per dil lisha……”
I worked hard to memorize the whole song. The 3 of us sang it together… and I finally got it mastered.

Then, months later… some Czech tri-friends came to stay with Peter. Gabriela Loskotova and her boyfriend, Jirka. Goodie, time to practice my Czech. Peter had me sing the “lullaby.” Ohmygosh did they laugh. So I found out what I was really singing about: rats stuck in a hole together, licking each other’s ___holes. Awe, how soothing.

Other words I’ve picked up:
Horshitza = mustard (I can remember this one ‘cuz it sounds like Horse$h!*)
Jak se maz = a greeting (Used by Borat in the movie)
Turpaslik = yard gnome (a very useful word, I’m sure I’ll get around Prague with this one)

Other jobs Peter has mastered:
Dog sitter
Home builder
Computer Programmer
Spinning Instructor
Wedding Coordinator and Videographer (no joke, someone did hire him to help plan a wedding and then take the video… I’m sure the commentary is priceless)
Bartender (yes, he even has his bartending license)
Bike Mechanic (very, very handy)

All said, I think his true talents lie in triathlon! Peter… you have many gifts; you are “special.” But, stick to the swimming / biking / running combo!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Started by Sport

I've met some of the best people through the various sports I've done over the years... relationships that have withstood the test of time and distance. People I would have never met, if it hadn't been for cheerleading, swimming, running, triathlon. Friends that share a common passion for athletics - an interest that's formed strong ties between myself and many others.

Without Lindsay & cheerleading, I don't know if I would have made it through high school?! Admittedly, I was not so cool. High School is notorious for cruel cliques, and since they didn't accept our applications, Lindsay & I formed our own. Now, she's a mom. However, if you asked her to bust out the SNL Jim Carrey Cheerleading Skit... I know she'd perform like a champ.

Along with my HS squad, I competed on an all-star team: SuperCDA. Now, that was a crazy bunch. A rag-tag group of hyper-jumping-ADD-sleep deprived-acrobatic high school kids from all over Illinois. We weren't just a team - we were a family. The core group is now spread all over the states (with real jobs, spouses, and kids) but I know that I could call any one of them… and we’d talk for hours. While in HS, we competed… then, when we moved on to college, we became summer camp staff. The stories about those days could go on forever. Love to Kate, Becky, Brooke, Ryan, Travis, Gracie, Krista, Jeff, Ben, Craig, Gina, Jared, Rich, Woods, JT, “D” himself, and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone…

After HS I moved to Athens, GA to cheer on the DAWGS! The UGA squad became my sorority/fraternity. It was an instant group of friends… our own little troop in the big bad world of college. Clif and I quickly bonded as I made him help me move into my dorm (he he, well… he had a truck!). This group had my back: what classes to sign up for, what professors award the most A’s, the best apartment complexes off campus, cool parties, great hang-outs, secret parking spots, etc… Actually, 2 girls I cheered with (Erica and Kim) are now both living in the Greenville area! Recently, I discovered this while running my usual route, they were walking near my house (one was wearing a UGA cheerleading t’shirt).

Because I didn’t want to be a cheerleader for life, (yeah, it’s really not cool as you move into your mid-20’s ;) I found running to be a great way to stay in shape. I’d always enjoyed running on my own, or as cardio during cheer practice. In college, I raced some 5k’s & 10k’s… finishing pretty well for a NON runner.

It didn’t take much persuasion when Mom asked me to join her in racing a triathlon in 2003. I dusted off the mountain bike and we headed to Greenwood, SC. (wow, funny that I’m back here). I had NO idea what I was doing before or during this race. Pool – snake swim, then I run where? Get on my bike (after disabling the kick stand)… ride 12 miles?! That’s seems far… get off my bike and start running? Well, the whole thing was a disaster. I wanted to die after the swim (luckily, I do have some history in swimming… thanks to my Dad), but I hadn’t actually raced 400 meters since I was about 10 years old. My bike was… well, something you wouldn’t catch me on today. And, to top it off… I dropped the chain at mile 9. So full of frustration, I actually broke 20 min in the 5K for the 1st time in my life. After that race, I was hooked… I knew I could do better! But, I needed HELP.

Enter the MANY friends I’ve made since 2004. Triathlon was a catalyst for many friendships I cherish today… but, it’s the personalities that keep ‘em going! Karyn, a phenomenal athlete/coach/friend, who taught me what organized training is all about… and is now almost a family member (thanks for taking care of Sally!). Jen, who demonstrates that you can be a mom, friend, wife and Ultra Competitive triathlete. Connie, Elizabeth, Jim V…

Training for triathlons also pushed me to swim with my Dad & his cronies! Not quite as competitive as the tri-crowd… but, so much fun. What a great family bonding experience: The Long Family Relay… Dad-Back, Sarah-Butterfly, Me-Breast, Mom-Freestyle. (kinda went from fast… to not so fast, but we had fun).

In moving to SC, I really didn’t know anyone. But, by searching out contacts through the “race network,” I’ve now got some amazing friends and training partners: Noel, Peter, G, Dean, Ana, everyone at Run-In, Jay, Chris, Sarah Oliver, Robin, Keith, Mike, and then list continues to grow!

Being athletic has lead me to run around the island of Nevis with Tom Nelson, ride through Rocky Mtn. National Park with Mom & Karyn, swim off the coast of Kona with Jen, Jerome, and Connie, run up Table Rock trail with Ana and Noel, ride over 100 miles with Peter through the Carolina Hills, do “bleachers” on ancient ruins in Mexico…. And I know the fun times will keep coming.

I love triathlon for what it is, how it makes me feel, the people I’ve met, where it takes me, and the adrenaline rush I get at the start of every race. Keep the adventures coming!