Wednesday, May 28, 2008

finally, GC RR

The race depicted below actually took place on May 10th... as you can see, I'm still far behind on these posts:

So I ran into the waves – just like Mary and I’d practiced. However, when Mary and I had been rehearsing our starts, I should’ve had her beat me repeatedly with a baseball bat. It would have been better simulation. I’m aware that mass starts can be violent… but, mix in big waves, and you’ve got a full on water war.

I was gulping salt water, trying desperately to find open water. I felt legs, feet, arms, hands… I lifted my head to sight the first buoy, and all I saw was an approaching wave. My mind was spinning. I finally felt like I had some space – but, that didn’t mean the waves let up. I could see a buoy about once every forth sighting attempt.

The swim was a roller coaster ride. The waves never ceased. It was up and down the whole way – I focused on forward progress. Somehow I made it to the turn buoy… about 100 yards over, and turn to go back. You’d think the waves would take you into shore. Wrong. I could feel myself getting carried up and down, and the waves seemed to suck me back. I fought toward shore. Damn, the crowd just wouldn’t get closer. Somehow I forged through the laundry cycle of a swim. I looked over my shoulder to find a wave… and actually body surfed in. Caught sand in my hands and stood up like a shipwreck victim.
(was this dramatic enough for you?)

I ran up the beach and began taking off my wetsuit. Through the showers and toward transition. I entered transition and tried to follow the mental map I’d routed out earlier that morning. Past the port-o-potties, over the bushes, around another section of port-o-potties, left turn, and to my rack. I could hear Marit and Joanna yelling for me to hurry (and thanks to them I actually ranked #3 ag in T1 – go me, small victories :). Wetsuit off and bike gear on. Grabbed my ride and ran out.

The course starts with a short out and back… I pumped my legs and tried to shake off the swim. After all that salt water, my bottles (mix of nuun and Heed) tasted like heaven. For a bit, I was able to hang out on the left – while I passed all those people who’d handled the waves better than I.

After the 1st turn around I saw a girl in ‘The Sports Factory’ apparel lying face down on the road – bike on top of her. At that moment, I though Amy Kloner had gone down. People were running to aid the fallen cyclist… and I prayed that she was ok.

(Come to find out later – it was not the eventual amateur winner, Amy. However, this race did involve some tragedy. There was a young, male, relay swimmer who died on the beach after being pulled out of the water. There were also a few horrible crashes along the bike route)

As I passed back by transition… I heard Marit and Joanna screaming my name. A huge smile spread across my face – and I knew in that moment what it was all about. I could feel Marit’s race energy. I yelled to Marit that it was for her, and I wished she was racing too.

Eventually the riders began to string out. Unlike the IM races I’d heard about and witnessed… I really didn’t see much intentional drafting (although there was a pack of 4 guys obviously pace lining). Up and over the bridge – I stood to stretch my back. Then one of the craziest things happened. It’s much easier to explain in person. I’m big on physical reenactments. But, I’ll do my best in writing: The base of the bridge has a big seam. Just as I rode over, the hammer gel flask (which I’d Velcroed onto my bike frame) launched into the air. By total chance, my left knee was on an up stroke. The flask hit my knee and I caught it in my right hand. ALL while going about 38 mph. I felt like catwoman. Shazam!

(another thing I’ve thought since finishing the race; as I’m pretty sure it was the hammer gel that upset my stomach… maybe fate launched it from my bike for a reason. But, knowing the plan I’d established before the race – I probably would have stopped to retrieve the gel… but the fact that it jumped from my bike is a sign I won’t forget)

What else to say about the bike? I’ve never been in aero for so long. The scenery and elevation didn’t change much. It was exciting to see the male pros hammer on their way back. I saw Peter in 5th place.

The 2nd half of the ride was into more of a wind than we’d faced on the way out. I felt the urge to pee... but, still have yet to master that move on a bike. I tried coasting, standing, relaxing... nada. A woman I'd passed early on the bike, passed me back as we neared transition.

Getting vertical felt a bit odd to my system. Something already felt wrong w/ my stomach, but I thought it was just the need to pee. I quickly made it to my transition spot: discard bike gear, pee, put on run stuff... and head out.

Oooo, with each step, it felt like someone was inflating my stomach with a bike pump. I was in pain... but, kept reminding myself: that's what racing is all about - pushing to the point of pain. Unfortunately, it wasn't a fatigue/muscular/endurance pain. This was a "balloon about to explode in your stomach" kind of pain.

I made it to the 10k mark in just over 44:00 min. Not bad... but, then I couldn't handle it any longer. There were tears in my eyes - tears because of the pain in my abdomen, tears because I wasn't running like I know I can, tears because I wasn't going to reach my time goal, tears because I knew I could do better.....
I crossed the finish line w/out a smile. So glad to be done, but not happy with the day. Thanks to Marit for being there to "catch" me at the end.

That's pretty much my disappointment with this race. Although the time/finish place seem good - I'm frustrated because it failed to demonstrate the level at which I'd been training. To me, that's what racing is about: on one day, with friends/family watching... you get to celebrate all the hard work you've put in. This race did not reach the goals or expectations I wanted to see.

But, I suppose that's what longer distance races will teach you! It's the combination of hard training, preparation, goal setting, focus, determination, travel, endurance, flexibility, and a good nutrition plan ;)

A great learning experience, indeed. Not to forget, a super fun vacation with HTFU friends!

Great job: Mary, Amy, Donna, Gabby, Peter, Mark, Dan, Megan

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

"to blog" list

I've fallen behind. It seems like things keep happening, and I want to write about them all... and then I realize I've not even posted the Gulf Coast race report. So, to get organized, here is the list of blog topics I plan to cover in coming posts:
  • Gulf Coast 1/2 IM
  • Lake Murray Sprint Tri (including funny antidotes about the trip there/back with Nicole, Tracy, and Jeff... and running with Kat Welling, the Sam McGlone look-alike)
  • My sister, Sarah, coming to town for a quick visit (she had a job interview, we swam LCM together... where she kicked my butt, and then she took me grocery shopping for my birthday)
  • Matt and the horrific bike pile-up at Donaldson (he suffered multiple broken bones and is having a tough time with recovery)
  • A response to Jen Harrison's "race rituals" post
  • Cheerleading as it compares to triathlon training and racing (yes, there are similarities believe it or not... and it's not just the spandex)
  • Stories about things that happened in my life, pre-blog. Stuff you bloggers would get a good chuckle over.

I'll do my best to detail them all.

Monday, May 19, 2008

race article

Rival pair run off with wins
Georgia Tech man, Georgia woman win the Lake Murray Triathlon

The story at Sunday’s Lake Murray Triathlon was more like a bad joke told at an Atlanta watering hole: What do you get when you throw a Georgia Tech runner and a Georgia cheerleader into a lake? The answer: the male and female open division winners at the Midlands’ oldest and biggest sprint triathlon — a punch line that was not funny to the racers trying to chase down the Georgia transplants.

Simpsonville’s Daniel Moss, who ran cross country at Georgia Tech, and former Bulldogs cheerleader Ashley Long of Greenville used strong bike legs to overcome sluggish swims and win by more than a minute each at sunny but breezy Dreher Island State Park.

Told that a Bulldog was the top female, Moss said: “That’s funny. Too bad we didn’t have our school uniforms on for that.” Actually, the 27-year-old Long showed her school colors with a red-and-black bike, on which she averaged 22 miles per hour over the 16-mile loop through Prosperity’s rolling hills. Long was last among the four women in the open division following the 750-meter swim, but she took the lead on the bike course and held it through the 5K run to win in 1 hour, 19 minutes and 27 seconds.

Spartanburg resident Katharine Welling was actually the fastest woman in the field, 14 seconds better than Long. However, the 34-year-old participated as an age-group racer, which meant she was not eligible for the open title, and began the course several start groups behind the elite racers. “This is my second year racing, so I thought age group would be most suitable for me,” said Welling, who swam at Davidson. “I might have to reconsider it (for next year).”

Long grew up in Chicago, the daughter of a collegiate swimmer and a triathlete mother. However, the former gymnast gravitated toward cheering in Athens. “I love cheerleading just for the camaraderie. It’s fun, especially at Georgia where we go to all the football games,” Long said. “But neither of (her parents) understood.”

Long was uncertain how she would fare Sunday — a week after competing in a half-Ironman (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run) in Florida and a day after getting up at 4 a.m. to serve as the race director of a 5K run at Furman.

“It’s hard to change your mindset from that (half-Ironman) distance to a sprint distance,” Long said. “But I ended up feeling better than I anticipated.”

Moss, also 27, felt better once he mounted his bike. In fourth place following the swim-to-bike transition, Moss caught Jason Schott, a native of Dahlonega, Ga. — and Moss’ former training partner — at mile 5 and did not look back. “I got on the bike and started hammering,” Moss said.
Moss (1:06:01) held off Schott (1:07:20) to post his third victory in this year’s S.C. Triathlon Series and become the second consecutive Georgia Tech grad to win at Lake Murray. Former Yellow Jackets’ water-polo player Kevin Lisska, who did not return to defend his title, won in 1:08:10 last year.

Columbia’s Jeff Brandenburg (1:11:42) and Janice Addison (1:25:59) were the masters (over-40) winners Sunday in a field of 362 finishers. Amy Pierson served as a volunteer at the race a year after having a heart attack during a cool-down run following her third-place finish.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

MDA results

Thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who participated in, sponsored, volunteered at, and supported our Stride & Ride 5K yesterday.

The weather was perfect and everything seemed to go smoothly. Thanks, in part to the beautiful morning, we had many day of registrants: taking us over the 300 mark!
Set Up Events did a fantastic job with chip timing and providing a great start/finish inflatable arch. Citgo/Corner Mart, our title sponsor, helped with everything from water stations to registration to awards... Chick-fil-A donated hundreds upon hundreds of chicken biscuits, Starbucks gave coffee. Huge thanks to Matt & the Greenville Federal Credit Union (even though he suffered a bike wreck on Tuesday: broken ribs and clavicle, he was still there helping)! Forrest (a tri friend of mine) was nice enough to deliver boxes of Powerbars - thank you.

I also want to congratulate the GIRLS ON THE RUN participants and their families. We were so lucky to host about 120 young girls who had been training for this 5K. I was almost moved to tears as I watched them cross the finish line - arms raised, huge smiles, goals achieved. Many of the girls did the race with their parents and siblings... CHEERS to the parents encouraging and motivating their daughters to get out and run. It was inspiring to watch.

With all the GOTR... I had to laugh in looking over the results. When is the last time you saw a race who's largest finishing age group was 10 and under?! AND our female participants out numbered the males 2 to 1!! Girl Power.

Speaking of the results, they can be found here:


After everything was taken care of for work, I myself ran the course for a quick workout. From there, I booked home to get things ready for the Lake Murray Sprint Tri. Much more on this later.

Let's just say that after doing a 1/2 IM (over 600 miles away) last weekend, and directing a 5K on Saturday... I didn't know if I had a sprint triathlon in me. My mind went back and forth. I wasn't going to go - then I thought I should - then I thought about taking a nap - then Nicole called to see if I was still going down to Columbia with her - then I realized my race wheels were still on my bike (heck, my transition back was basically still packed).... so, I HTFU'd and got going.

It ended up hurting, bad. I suffered today - and thought about my disappointing Gulf Coast run. Which might have given me that extra Oomph on the bike. I was somehow able to pull out a win in the elite/open division.

So, there you have it. An exhausting/successful/rewarding weekend. And now, I am going to take that nap.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

MDA pause, stay tuned

While I continue working on my Gulf Coast RR... Please remember the 5K to benefit MDA this Saturday.

Phew, working as a race director is much more stressful than actually racing.

Race Start 8:30 am (you can register day of)
Furman University
Paladin Stadium
$25 (which helps send children with neuromuscular disease to our summer camp)
Come on out and run/walk
Chip timing
Gas card prizes for AG and OA winners (Thanks Kenneth and Piedmont Petroleum)
Chick-fil-A biscuits

See you there!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gulf Coast - pre race

I’m still shaking sand out of my transition bag… and thinking about Mary (who tried to pack sand into her hair, so that upon her return to NY, she could shake it out and remember the beach). I’m also missing Marit and her French Press. This race report could use a cup of good coffee.

You’ve seen the pictures. You know what we did leading up to Saturday’s ½ IM… the typical tri-girl activities; however, I must admit this particular trip gave a whole new meaning to the word skank. Evidence:
- my decision to drive from Greenville, SC to Panama City Beach sans air conditioning (choosing to open windows just blew in more dirt/sand/stink. My car still doesn’t smell right)
- the hotel room floor upon my arrival. Not only did I opt to go air con free… Mary and Marit had planned the same for our room. Listening to the waves = fantastic. Slipping and sliding on a humid/salty/sandy floor = ewwww. My crocs stayed on the entire weekend.
- Which leads me to our shower situation. Again, I left my crocs on… as if I were in a locker-room.
- I know that at some point during the trip, we each used a towel that had been on said floor.
- Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever used a dry towel. Probably a result of the aforementioned open air hotel room.
- Thinking a bomb had gone off every time Marit let the wind vortex SLAM our door shut (yes, having your balcony door open will create a wind tunnel strong enough to suck a human out the opposing door)
- Mary and her infamous red board shorts. Hey, I might win the award for “smelling worst upon arrival.” But, Miss Mary gets the award for “wearing the SAME shorts 4 days in a row.”
- Our trip to HOOTERS for souvenir t’shirts. Panama City Beach Hooters, enough said.
- The “kitchen” set up. So, it was actually the sink… but, you’d have thought Juan Valdez himself was staying with us – and unloading his burro near our bathroom. Hair, toothpaste, chamois cream, makeup, coffee grounds. Sure, typical bathroom mess.
- Hey wait – I drank coffee prepared in that kitchen. Augh.
- To Mary, Marit, and I sucking on nuun tablets. Marit and her priceless face - like a girl eating sourpatch kids for the first time. I could see it coming, and then she sure did reach those fingers into her mouth and pull out a half-disintegrated nuun. The nuun went from her hand right into Mary’s water bottle. And then I watched Mary drink the water. Does anyone else think this is gross?!
- On race morning, I found myself frantically searching for a microwavable container for oatmeal preparation. What did I find first, a dirty coffee mug. Hum, quick rinse. Don’t mico-waves kill bacteria? Whatever, I needed oatmeal and it was 4:00 am. I don’t think straight at this hour.
- Other gross foodstuffs: the jar of natural peanut butter that remained out for most of the trip. I saw many plastic knives dip in and out of the jar. However, the peanut butter was not being spread on anything… the “dipping sticks” were going into mouths, licked clean, and then dipped back on in. At this point, I’m sure Marit and Mary swapped enough saliva to constitute a full on make-out session.
- Alright, I’ve sufficiently grossed myself out.

On to the pre-race story:

Friday was packet pick up and bike check in. I think this was the day it hit me… hit me that this was a BIG race. 69 girls in my age group alone. The line to check in was long enough that we all got our Expo Shopping in by rotating who held our spot in line. I waited while Marit and Mary looked around… and when they came back I set off to buy a spare tire.
Finally, finally we made it to the packet pick-up tables (which were manned by some seriously snippy retirees, btw). #366, a silver wristband, some swag, t’shirt, etc…

We went back to the skanky room to rest. 3 tri-girls lying with their heads at the end of the bed – legs propped up on the wall. I found my iPod and switched on the tunes. Just as I drifted off… our other guests arrived. So fun to meet Donna and Joanna (FL residents, so I can only imagine they’re used to having sand everywhere).

Later in the day, we got our bikes together and drove them to transition. Nerves hit again as I looked at the number of bike racks. I was going to need GPS just to find my spot in the transition area. Well, I racked her up and said goodnight.

We turned in early that night. Normally, sleep comes easy for me… but, this race was different. I could hear the waves crashing on the beach just outside our room (this was my 1st ocean swim tri). I remembered that I hadn’t started in a wave of more than 20 competitors since 2005. Due to cooler temps in SC, I haven’t gotten in much hot weather training. I don’t think (until this race) I’d ever ridden for more than 20 miles in aero… actually, to prepare for this race I’d had to find a road to do FLAT repeats. How was my body going to respond to 56 miles of flat? I tried to turn off my brain and trust the training.

Whoa, 3:45am came quick. There were 5 girls moving about in the room… it was a nervous/quiet atmosphere. Everyone went about their pre-race rituals, and somehow we managed to work around each other. Aided immensely by our 2 WBS’s (world’s best sherpas). Marit helped coat me in sunblock; I filled and mixed 4 water bottles; somehow choked down a mug of oatmeal; I had a minor panic attack while looking for my bike; I went over my mental check list for the last time; and we were off.

We got to the transition area in plenty of time. It reminded me of the trips I’d made to PC for IM Florida. But, this morning – I was racing. A whole different day was ahead of me.

As I set up my transition area I tried to calm down and take deep breaths. Like Marit had reminded me… I was going to race my race. Did it matter how many people were racing alongside?! No. It didn’t matter if I was out there with 30 or 3,000 other people. I knew my plan.

Tires pumped, all my stuff ready and waiting on a towel by my bike (thanks to the girl next to me who didn’t show… it was like I had the emergency row transition spot, lots of extra leg room). Then I made some mental notes, tried to spot anything that could help me locate my rack quickly. Later realized that a right-curving palm tree is not a significant point of reference ;)

Grabbed for my cap (red! Sweet), goggles (brand new – I was going into this race Jen Harrison style), wetsuit… and found Donna and Mary. Of course Mary was all cheers & smiles, while Donna and I were still fighting some nerves.

We made our way toward the water. WBS’s did a great job keeping pre-race conversation light. I shiver to think about what I would have been like w/out Marit and Mary there to calm me down.

Wetsuits zipped up, cap on, goggles down and into the water for a quick, quick “remember what the waves feel like” warm-up. Oh right, I’m going to be beaten up and thrashed around for over 30 minutes. Grrreat.

They called everyone out of the water, the countdown began. Wave 1 was physically challenged athletes; the Pros went next; then 2 waves of women (including Mary); I was in wave 5 – the red caps (with Donna who got an orange cap because she’s special… or they just ran out of red).

As they corralled our wave into the starting area, I gave serious thought to running back to Marit, handing her my chip, and telling her to go for it (busted back and all). Funny thing, she probably would have done it. Which is what ultimately kept me motivated. There are those who can’t race. Not because they don’t want to – but, because doctors tell them they are not able. Who am I to chicken out because of some little waves?

For the 2nd time out of 2 triathlons this year: Eminem’s 8 Mile started right before my wave. It gets my blood pumping, my nerves on high, my energy focused. In true rap spirit, I extended my fist to Donna. She laughed, fisted me back, and we said "good luck." The announcer counted down and I looked off toward the 1st buoy. The gun sounded and I (along with over 100 other women) tore off into the waves…

Tomorrow I’ll actually tell you about the race

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Gulf Coast pics

Marit sherpa and resident barista
Mary, Myself and our new FL friend Donna at bike check in

Donna, myself, Mary... pre race

Mary's obsessed with the Long Butt shot

Hummm, who looks excited for the waves?!

Donna and Mary - I was running away

Alright, I didn't flee the race - here's our wave

WBS's (Worlds Best Sherpas: Marit and Joanna)

Coming to the finish: So this wasn't a stellar day. I was proud of my swim (rough conditions); had a solid ride; and an o-so-bad stomach on the run. The whole experience has made for a fun trip (thanks to Mary and Marit)... and I've learned what does NOT work for me nutritionally. Still finishing 2nd in AG makes a rough run easier to swallow.

I'll continue to dream, trust, and believe (bracelets Mary presented us on the 1st night here in PC). Thanks Miss Mary Sunshine!

Friday, May 9, 2008

PC pre pics

Some pictures from today's "swim" (aka breaking through the waves, while trying to move forward, and not drown)

Thursday, May 8, 2008


It's a mini reunion... half the HTFU clan here in Panama City Beach!

Mary and I are racing the Gulf Coast 1/2 IM on Saturday, and Marit has become the WBS (Worlds Best Sherpa). Liz, Jen, Leslie - We miss you!

What can I say about the drive here. It was long. It was hot & sweaty (Jen, I have memories of our rides to Memphis... you shouting something about heat acclamation - so I tried the no air thing, so far it's gotten me some really stinky clothing). I sang the entire soundtrack from RENT. I caught up on some phone calls.

Finally I rolled up to Front Beach Road. I could hear Marit and Mary calling from the balcony. I warned them of my smell... but, they attacked with hugs anyway (although Marit did agree on the foul odor).

After a shower - I was closer to normal status. In catching up with them both, I learned some of us really have lost our "H's". Well, we've got until Saturday am to locate the missing letter. I'll keep you posted.

Check Marit or Mary's blog for further updates or pics.
*Matt thanks so much for coming by with post race goodies! I'll be racing for rolo's (and peanut M&M's). So, at least I've got that going for me... he he he.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

LPond Pics 2

...........and some more classic shots from Matt!

LPond Pics

Mendy, thank you so much for taking/sending these race pics! I even remember running by y'all after the swim, hearing Grace cheer - that explains the smile (well, that and the fact that the swim was over)
Hey G-man, Katie... what are we doing hanging out in the back? ;)

Monday, May 5, 2008

LPond Race Report

first off....
Happy Birthday Sarah!
(my little sister turns 23 today)

And on to the LPond race report:

Sorry this report was delayed… but, it's fitting since waiting was actually a huge part of the Langley Pond Triathlon.

Let me rewind one weekend. Humm, it’s much easier to remember a race by putting myself in race day conditions. Therefore, I’ve turned on the sink and shower – and doused myself with water. Being wet, ah yes… LPond, it’s all coming back to me.

It started by busting out of work on Friday. My roadie/personal photographer/fan club member (one and only)/cycling partner/and friend Matt was making the trip with me. He decided that a trip to Aiken, SC was too good an offer to refuse ;)

We headed out of town and jammed along. Matt and I have similar musical tastes, his iPod was loaded up, and luckily… neither of us can sing, but we do anyway. No shame. We ended up pulling into the race site 5 minutes before they were to close shop. (ps, this was the first time since 2005 that I’ve gotten to a triathlon packet pick-up the day before a race)

Here I met David, Mendy, and their daughter, Grace. So Fun! Grace even practiced her cheers: Go Ashley Go. Really, adorable. Also caught up with Katie, Chris, Brad to check-out the new swim course formation.

After race check-in, Matt and I tried to decide which fine dining establishment we would hit-up for dinner. I was getting worried, until we passed the Atlanta Bread Co. Everything was going well at the restaurant until we saw a crowd of high school girls screaming and pointing at a car in the parking lot. Interesting, I had to investigate.

Turns out that someone had left their pet python on the dashboard of their car. (Marit, I totally thought of you). Yep, the snake was just chilling out, wrapped around the steering wheel.

The rest of the evening was spent applying race numbers, bike cleaning (thanks Matt!), and getting ready for an early wake-up call.

5:40 am: up, getting race uniform on, applying sunscreen (you’ll soon read why this was a bit unnecessary), eating a bagel… the usual.

The drive to LPond was great. I made Matt play “Eye of the Hurricane” about 3 times. Getting organized in transition was easy, my warm-up went well, things felt good. I was fully hydrated. I busted out one of my favorite dance moves: “the wetsuit groove.” (not my most graceful boogie.)
Headed down to the water. Ok, ok… I got in and did a decent warm-up. Back on the beach, the rest of the 1st wave and I congregated for the start. Minutes to go. And then, as my eyes examined some rather dark clouds… a bolt of lightning flashed across the sky. I heard something about a 10 minute delay.

And then the rains came. We’re talking RAIN. It fell, hard, and the lightening continued. Just picture a few hundred people, mostly clad in black neoprene, donning swim caps and goggles, huddled together under a pavilion. It was almost sad looking. But, I did have a good time catching up with Nicole, Forrest, Regina, and some other friends.

It rained, and rained, and rained. I suggested finding a slip-and-slide to set up in front of transition; see pic below. Come on, that would have been hilarious (and possibly good for my transition times?!)
Suddenly, after about 40 min of standing around in my wetsuit – the hydration kicked in. Ooo, needed to pee. It got to a painful state. Tracy and Katie told me to just “go.” And, I would have… but, Set Up was still deciding if the tri would go on, or if they would have to switch plans to a duathlon. AND, if this thing was going to become a duathlon, I did not want to have to strip off a wetsuit I’d just peed in. I waited for the call.

Finally, the rain subsided and the tri would go on. However, and this is a very noteworthy however: one of the roads was underwater. Consequently, they had to reroute the bike course – cutting roughly 4 miles (of a two loop course). Ouch! I pleaded to cut off some of the swim buoys. No such luck. We lined up at the start and awaited the call. Eminem’s “8 Mile” played in the back ground… and I jumped around like a football player in a huddle.

After a very long, rain filled wait – we were off. I swam hard, I might have peed, I tried in vain to keep up, I found myself alone, I missed my flippers, men from the next wave began to pass, I rounded buoys, I kicked… the end finally came into view. I pushed my body up onto the pier and looked at my watch. And let me please report that if you look at the results online, the swim times include a very long run to transition and T1.

Yes, the run to T1 was very long. I was “running,” while removing wetsuit, goggles, cap, all while trying to not fall down. Then I found her – Beyonce, my bike. I grabbed my trusty friend and headed out. After a swim like that, it always feels so good to pedal, get aero, and churn my legs.

Even though the loop was cut short, it was still fun and challenging. After leaving the park, you make some turns, go uphill for a few miles, pick it up over some rollers, and then fly downhill… and again. I’m not going to talk about going downhill at 40 mph coming up to a 90 degree turn with wet brakes. My family would not be happy.

The ride was fun. All that riding in the mountains paid off. As Chris passed me, I thought about the day I chased him up Caesar’s Head. Only a few guys passed me... I passed some people. It's all becoming a blur in my memory.

All too quick… well, a 55:30 bike split in an OLY dist race would be nice, but not so realistic. I moved into T2. Hello, my name is Ashley and I need to light a fire under my butt in transition. Finally got my soggy running gear situated and headed out. My legs could feel the hills I just climbed, but eventually I found a rhythm in my squishy shoes.

Not many people have talked about the humidity, but I think it played a small part. With so much rain in the am, and sun trying to come out, the air felt thick. I kept Tracy’s orange tank in sight. Then, moving at warp speed (the girl ran a 37:02), I saw the lead female coming back. Yowza. She rocked that course. After the turn around, Tracy and her orange moved a bit further away. I also saw 2 girls moving at a pretty fast rate on their way out (girls which had stared in a later wave).

I held steady on the way back. Coming up the incline toward transition, I saw Matt, Mendy, and Grace all yelling for me. I couldn’t help but smile, the finish was only a mile away. As we turned onto the grass/gravel part of the run… I rolled my ankle and yelled a rather inappropriate word (sorry to the man in yellow who was running next to me). I shook it off and sped up. Crossing the finish line felt fantastic – one race down, so many yet to come!

After the race I caught up with Matt, Hank, Sheila, G-man, the super stud female winner… and, just as we were packing up – the skies opened up yet again. Another MONSOON!! I lunged toward transition to get my stuff together. Unfortunately, moving around in such haste, I rolled that damn ankle again. Seriously. Shoot. That one hurt.

The rains continued, everyone huddled under the pavilion again, and they tried to call out awards over the loud downpour.

Me, Matt, Beyonce - all very waterlogged - got in the car for our sing-along style ride home. Matt had stocked up on peanut M&M’s (for me) and Reece’s Pieces (for him… hey, a good cheerleader deserves an award). We dashed back to Greenville, since he was going to try to get a ride in. I, however, spent the rest of the day resting, unpacking, and wringing water out of my gear.

Cheers to a great 2008 tri season!