Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chapters since February....

I shouldn't say I've been too busy to blog... lots of you have much more going on than I (enter: spouse to appease, children to play with / take care of, jobs with serious amounts of travel involved). So, if busy can't be my excuse... I guess that leaves motivation and desire to write.

Luckily, after spending MANY many hours in rehab, my motivation and desire to train/race came right back. Heck, I don't think that ever really escaped my being... Actually, with a truncated 2008 race season - I got a jump start on '09. I'm pretty sure that, as of this month, I've already completed the same number of races I did in 2008 - total.

In hopes of catching up this blog, I'm going to go bullet format - detailing highlights, low lights, and any other random snippets that stick out. Thanks to my new blackberry, many of these things were captured in digital image... to be added. So, here we go - from February until now. I'll try to enter "breaks" for coffee or bathroom trips... and yes, I should number these events since you'll probably have to read this in chapters.
*To anyone who participated / traveled with me / remembers these events... PLEASE comment, because I know I've forgotten lots.

1. The Sunbelt Masters Championships: Swim Meet in Charlotte, NC
January 24, 25.
A very fun weekend with Dad & Team Greenville - We both swam (he swam much faster), we raced on the same relay a few times (thankfully he's not too competitive - because there's no way I would have been the chosen freestyler), I still can't figure out how to swim a 200 free, the scar on my shoulder served as a good excuse for my less than stellar times (at these meets I am a poser-swimmer... I can try and look the part, but my event results pretty much give me away). Now, fellow meet participants look at the scar - and figure it was a swim yardage induced rotator cuff injury. Little do they know, my times were only seconds off last year's results... pre surgery.
Other than soak up the chlorine, we had a great dinner at Maggiano's and went to see "Gran Torino". (if you haven't seen it - buy it on Tuesday, seriously). Thanks for a fun weekend Dad! You and your swimming abilities never cease to amaze me. (he went on to place top 10 in several events - Masters Y Nationals, Fort Lauderdale)

2. Myrtle Beach (I did the 1/2 Marathon - many friends raced the Full)
Valentine's Day (I figured forcing myself to run 13.1 miles as hard as possible might be the perfect way to celebrate such a Holiday). Good trip with Sarah, Nicole, and Jeff... I was the designated driver - primarily because I LOVE to drive, I LOVE to drive the Mini, I drive stick shift, and Jeff (Mini owner) had worked the night shift right before we left.
This race was important - mentally - because I knew I'd be cut open (clavicle surgery #2) upon returning to Greenville. I wanted to go under the knife with run satisfaction... prepping for a speedy return to 100%. Luckily, it was just that - a Great race! I loved running that day. Many friends from G'ville posted PR's.

Kristi, Jenny, and I waiting for awards.

Nicole, myself, and Sarah CRAMPED in the back of Mitch's car... on our way to Margaritaville (post race)
3. Reedy River 10K: Greenville
March 7
Phew... Reedy River is a big one for the G'ville running community. This year marked the 32 running of the RR 10K. We had people from all over vying for the prize $. Overall male winner, Blake Boldon, made the journey from Colorado Springs - and the female champ had a resume boasting a nice finish at the Marathon Olympic Trials. Although we were running around Greenville, almost along my typical training route, the race had a "big feel." I was very excited to crack the top 10... actually placing 6th... but, while walking around near the finish, someone said, "awe too bad - the money only goes 5 deep." Not that I expected to be near the top finishers (a mental hang up, I know.. but, I did not grow up running. I was a gymnast/cheerleader. I line up at the start, see all the "real runners" around me, and try to do as they do)... but, when I realized I'd only been about 10 seconds from making some coin, I couldn't help but feel slightly bummed. Just then I ran into OJ, a friend who happened to finish in the 6th slot for males. HA. We took this picture to document our 6th place, one away from pay.
(Later, at awards, we collected checks. They actually paid the top 7. Not much $, but enough to go out for dinner and a celebratory beer!)
4. Parris Island Triathlon (1st tri of the year)
Parris Island, Military Combat Training facility, South Carolina
March 14
It was COLD. I think it was raining too.. but, I was numb - I couldn't feel much. Thank you Dana for the gloves, you saved my fingers. The swim was in the military training pool (over 80 degrees), so that was all fine and good. But, THEN you had to get out of the water and hop on your bike, and try to pedal while your muscles retracted into a state of shock. I don't think my quads every really showed up for the party. My run went well - only because I was trying to avoid hypothermia and FINISH... and find warm clothes!
Kimberley had a great 1st place finish - while I gratefully accepted a smaller eagle for my efforts. Awesome way to kick off the 2009 tri season.
*Thanks to my [former] Marine friends for a fantastic weekend on Parris Island! I got to stay Saturday night with the Max Motivation Bootcamp instructors... just sitting with them, drinking beer, and hearing the guys recount their bootcamp stories was a night I'll never forget.
~KW emailed me many finish pictures... but, here's the deal: I don't look good while racing, I look even worse at the finish, and at Parris Island... I found a new low... racing, finishing, while 1/2 frozen. NOT a good look - but thanks K!
5. Downtown Columbia Triathlon - The State Capital
March 21
Excellent 1st year event.
Here's a theme you'll find in upcoming race reports... I spent most of the race chasing after Ms. Kat Welling. One cool thing about the bike course: it makes you feel like a cyclist! Almost crit style bike racing around the downtown area (which is why I'd decided to take the road bike). Lots of turns, lots of hills, lots of cars & people. The flight of stairs found on the run course was an interesting surprise.
OH, and I almost forgot - the race started at 1:00 PM. I stayed at home, got to sleep in on a Saturday, ate breakfast, packed up the tri gear, and drove to Columbia with plenty of time to get my packet, set everything up, and warm up by riding the course.
Jeremey, if you're reading this... I know it wasn't your favorite schedule of events... but, Please keep the late start for 2010! Also, thanks Troy for the great pictures.

6. MAC Foundation 5K - MESA Soccer Complex
April 19
OUCH - 5K's hurt, they hurt bad. I suppose it was a "hurts so good" kind of pain... but, I'd much rather do a sprint distance tri than a straight up 5K road race. Dana did a great job organizing the event, Set Up did the timing, and I got to suffer through 3.1 miles with some fast friends. Sam Inman and I battled it out most of the way... but, he found faster feet as we neared the finish.
This 5K reminded me why I participate in and train for races. Every time I turned around, I ran into another running buddy... everyone out for a little speed work. It's a diverse group, the athletes I've become friends with here in Greenville, but I truly value each person I've grown to know.

7. St. Anthony's Triathlon - St. Petersburg, FL
April 24/25
From a little, hometown 5k, to the 2nd largest triathlon in the US. The weekend began with another mini cooper road trip. Nicole and I made our way down to Florida... some interesting pit stops along the way. High & Low lights from the weekend:
- Nicole's supersonic driving abilities.
- Our rendition of "Gangsta's Paradise"
- Arriving to the hotel and realizing I'd forgotten the skewer for my front wheel... then, finding out that Andrew Starykowicz had an extra I could borrow. AH, of all the things needed to complete a triathlon - a small rod of metal could have kept me out of the race! Thanks AStar!
- Thea finally making it (via plane) from Greenville.
- The most active day-before-a-race I've ever experienced. I think the mini made 3 or 4 round trips from hotel to race site. We swam in the ocean (aka: tried to make our way from buoy to buoy in the waves), walked around the expo, waited in line for our packets, checked our bikes in, shopped, had lunch at a cute cafe, did a short run, cleaned up, had dinner with some guy named Andy Potts, finally got back to the hotel around 8:00, packed our race bags, painted our toenails, and went to sleep. I was spent.
- Waking on race morning to Thea telling us what she'd seen outside our window... it's not G-rated, not even PG 13. It involves a guy, a girl, and a hotel hot tub. I took it as a good race omen, why not?!
- Nicole got us to the race site in warp speed (the only driving speed she knows). The mini came in handy, as she whipped into a small opening not large enough for a Harley. We unloaded and made our way toward transition............
- That's when we saw the ocean - and the whitecaps.
- After lots of fret, Thea threatening to pull herself out, seriously worrying (to myself, a person pretty comfortable in most water)... the officials made the call: only Pros would swim. The rest of us would bike-run, starting in numerical order. Thea and I were in the amateur elite division, so we went off almost 2 hours before Nicole (who basically had time to nap and eat breakfast round 2.... but, even after a late start won a cool Age Group award!).
- Great race. Smokin' fast course. Props to all race organizers/volunteers for quickly pulling plan B together.
- My mom won her Age Group by 7 minutes. Yes, she is the 55-59 yr old Female STUD.
- We acted like slugs the rest of the day... but, finally got motivated for dinner that night. We went back downtown, ordered drinks, and enjoyed a plethora of tapas.

A picture "with" Andy Potts
Thea's picture "with" Andy Potts..... we know we're stalkers

Alright, he knew we were taking this one!
WRISTBAND POWER! (yes, we all raced wearing a wristband)

8. Training with Gail Kattouf - all around the Upstate.
This isn't about an official race... but often, after training with Gail, I feel as though I've suffered through a race. We have fun, talk about everything, sweat, push hard, laugh, and always end up having a better workout thanks to the other person. I chase her gazelle-like stride around the track until I feel like I might puke. We sit on bike trainers and move our mouths about as much as we move our legs. Our rides have been an adventure each and every time we saddle up.
We road over Caesar's Head to Bevard... while her derailleur malfunctioned the entire time, leaving us to call her parents to come pick us up roadside, and drive us all the way back to G'ville. We've stopped to take pictures of llamas, ourselves, gorgeous scenery, etc... We've climbed Paris Mtn over, and over, and over again. Sometimes we jog along the Swamp Rabbit Trail at a pace slower than a fast walk - other times we haul booty on the same path. Through these training sessions, I've learned 2 very unknown things about Gail: 1) she can talk to animals; most notably, horses. 2) she has the most uncanny ability to plan a long route, look at a map, memorize the turns/road names, and direct us along that route without a hitch. No joke, it's borderline spooky.
Most importantly, we make training fun.

View from the top of Paris Mountain....

9. Lake Murray Triathlon
May 3
It was an early morning getting to Lake Murray - but, I arrived to find a fun group. As is typical of the Set Up Events triathlons... everyone had their own pre-race routine, but we joked around while getting prepared. Troy has some good blackmail pictures of me shimming into my wetsuit. Things were pretty relaxed until the second the gun went off. The people I train and race with - well, they show up to race - and I wouldn't want it any other way. The ladies in this area are such great competitors! Kat lead the field out of the water (in typical form - large margin) before Gail laid the hammer down once on her bike. Everyone raced well, and the rest of the morning was spent eating burritos, sitting in the sun, and collecting our awards (Shamwow's).

10. Training in Franklin, NC (parents cabin)
as often as I can... most recently: May 30
Franklin is an athlete's playground. The roads are a dream come true - rolling through the valley for running, or climbing around the mountains for cycling. To top it off, there is a beautiful lake about 10 miles from my parent's place. My parents, being the amazing / supportive / athletic people they are, seem to understand my crazy mountain endeavors. During my last trip to Franklin: dad drove mom and I to the lake, he paddled the kyack next to me while I swam, I changed into running clothes, then my parents drove back to the cabin. I wanted to run back from the lake... up and over the mountain. It wasn't an easy run, but the thing about point-to-point runs is this: you have no choice but to keep moving forward. It ended up being an Epic day of training... with the most amazing finish - my dad had installed an outdoor shower on the back of the cabin. After a long lake swim, and a long run home, standing under a stream of water (while still in running clothes), is pure bliss.

............... Next: Festival of Flowers triathlon and the Donaldson Center Time Trial.........