Category Archives: Triathlon Races

Woo-Hoo! It Finally Arrived!

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Woo-Hoo! It’s here!!

My 2013 TrySports Triathlon Series (TTS) Award finally arrived today! It’s my first official award in the sport of Triathlon, so I am pretty stoked about it. There are lots of cool gadgets and specialized pockets attached to the bag that I’ll have to research, but I am pretty sure it will transport just about anything.

2013 was the final stand alone year for TTS which is now combined with NCTS. As mentioned in my previous blog posts, I am going to take 2014 to focus on the Tri & road races that Mid-Carolina Multisport Club selected for us.

“Congratulations on being a TTS Award Winner for the 2013 Triathlon Season! Make sure to follow many of your favorite TTS races to their new home in the NCTS. We look forward to seeing you this season!”

TTS Award winner for the 2013 season!

TTS Award winner for the 2013 season!

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What’s in that Swim Bag?

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What’s in that Swim Bag?

My recent blog post about swim goggles splashed up several good questions from friends planning their first open water Triathlons, so I thought one more post about swim preparations would be refreshing. If you have absolutely no interest in open water adventures, you might want to skip this one.

Sooooooo, inquiring minds want to know, what’s in my swim bag? Here’s a little secret, I use the same swim bag for pool swims as I do for open water swims. My wetsuit came with its own bag, so it’s on its own. Once I get used to the contents in my swim bag, I change absolutely nothing during the season. I always workout and race with the same stuff. If something breaks, gets lost or I eat it, I replace it with the same stuff. For me, change equals the dreaded ‘p’ word. I like to avoid that.

What’s not in my swim bag? A swim buddy. Never ever, ever, ever Never (that could be a new jingle?) swim in open water without a swim buddy! You’ll need someone who is willing to swim beside you and not let you drift away (it happens!). Someone who will tell you with a straight face that the slimy matter twisted up in your toes is really weeds. Someone to remind you to breathe in and out slowly. That’s important. I enjoy swimming in pods (group swims) with my Tri club because we have experienced open water swimmers willing to offer tips and sometimes kayak support. Kayak support is the greatest! Someone to watch over the pod, the weather, and for motor boats/jet skis. There is also the matter of food. Eating with the pod after swimming is the best part especially if it turns in to a beach party!

I actually learned how to swim in open water at a golf course – before it opened and golfers started yelling, Fore! Crazy as that sounds, the small watering hole was comforting and it was easy to get from one side to the other while chatting with friends. Confidence builder! I believe I also attempted my first wetsuit swim here. Being close to the shoreline as my wetsuit (which was way too big) rapidly inflated with water and took on fishy was ideal. There was lots of water in that wetsuit. I could have swam inside of it.

The best advice I received before attempting open water was to achieve my skills and distance in the pool first. I find open water swimming to be completely different than pool swims, but confidence, good form and strength is transferable. Once that was established, I took the plunge. With my swim buddies, of course!

I was still a bit nervous, so I brought along my trusty yellow ‘duck feet’ aka short fins that I use for the pool. Sometimes too much. Beware, you can’t race with them and ideally you shouldn’t be able to hide them in your wetsuit. Not that I’ve tried. My experienced swimming friends say ‘do whatever makes you comfortable’.  Comfortable also includes staying alert of ever changing conditions (environmental/physical) and sighting. I’ve never had an issue with sighting because I prefer to swim with my head up like a sea turtle. I am hoping that habit will dissolve this year. I’ve built up considerable core strength and have worked on my relaxation techniques. We shall sea. Ha!

The more time I spend in open water the more I acclimate, but I’ve improved my actual swimming by joining the pod, swimming in various watering holes, signing up for clinics and 1 mile open water races. I’ve also started swimming at the pool on Thursdays at 5:00 am with my super talented swim buddies. Why 5:00 am at dark o’clock? I think it’s a good idea to mimic race day situations. I don’t have Triathlons starting at noon. And if you have friends with lots of swimming experience who make swimming both fun and challenging, you’ll show up at 5:00 am.

So what’s in my swim bag? I’ll spill out the contents and the sand…

Swim bag loot!

My loot includes swim caps collected from various races, my favorite tie dye cap (it’s good to be super visible when the top of your head is the only thing visible), a turtle towel, no drip sunscreen, fins, goggles – tinted and clear, anti-fog lens spray, dry ear drops, gels, hair ties, extra contact lenses, water resistant swim drills book (I also write out my workouts on sticky notes) in a Ziploc bag. Absent are my post workout clothes, bottled water and saltine crackers.

questions?

My 2014 Triathlon Race Schedule

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My 2014 Triathlon Race Schedule

After much thought and some trepidation (ha!), here is my (un) official triathlon race lineup for 2014.  Ah yes, I’ve left some time in transition for a few races of the non-triathlon variety – 5k/10k charity runs, a metric century (sure would be nice), and 1-2 open water nearly drowning swimming miles (around small islands, yachts, whales, you know the usual).

Mucho thanks to Mid-Carolina Multisport (www.midcarolinamultisport.com) for coming up with these focus races for us this year.  Joining a local triathlon club makes everything better, seriously.  At least I’ll go down (literally) in style while my supportive race friends cheer me back up on to my feet!

June 14 – The Three Little Pigs (honestly this race name intrigues me so much that I could not pass it up!)

July 26th – Buckner Mission Man (best race EVER hands down!)

August 2nd – Lake Logan International (what am I thinking here?!? crazy, crazy, crazy and crazy)

August 10th – UNC Wellness Super Sprint (over before I can blink the chlorine saturated pool water out of my eyes!)

A bit of a lighter schedule than originally planned, but I have a few specific goals in mind and I want to be super competitive with myself this year because you know, I still have that lingering Tri bike bet to win this year.  Did you hear that hubby?  I am going to win that bike!  Yay, babe!

Abundance

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This is a repost from my Barnby Notes journal.  I’ve decided to transfer the entire series bit by bit to my new blog.  Enjoy!

December 30, 2012

Every Friday I do what I call ‘a random act of kindness’.  I often believe all this world needs is some extra kindness towards each other no matter how small the gesture.  I don’t plan ahead what I am going to do, hence the randomness, but I purposely come out of my shell, separate from my own desires, plans, preconceived wants and seek the opportunity to make the day just a bit brighter for someone else.  Through this quest, I have taken notice of how much ‘stuff’ I am surrounded by.  Stuff provides momentary excitement for me; however, I can tell you with certainty that my top life-changing events were not derived from stuff, but rather by people who enriched me with experiences that were not created to fulfill their own motives.

Abundance may have a different meaning for you.  Abundance for me stretches beyond consumerism.  It is when we begin to lose sight of each other (human and 4-legged) and what truly matters.  Trapped by our own clutter in various forms.

With this new year, I am taking a different approach with goal setting.  When I look back on my riding a year from now, I don’t want the focus to be on those shiny new dressage boots I just purchased, the number of text-book trot half passes I achieved in a certain month or how many blue ribbons I have won.  I want to remember the sights, sounds and smells associated with my experiences and interactions.  Without it, my goals are meaningless.

Journal writing has transformed how I view my goals.  They are no longer just words on paper or the desire to ‘catch up’ with what so and so is doing.  I can now take my goals and turn them into experiences as simple or as complex as I want them to be.  The outcome is not important, it is just a product of my goals.  What is important?  The knowledge and memories I’ve gained through my experiences which help shape me into the rider and really, the person I want to be.

Yesterday morning during my warm-up on my horse, I was thinking about abundance and how I should write about it in this journal entry.  It was raining, so we deviated from our plan to work outside the covered.  During the winter, my horse and I both take a rejuvenating break from goal specific training.  We are not spending our break slumped on the couch or relaxing on a stall nest (an interesting nest made with her extra hay on cold nights), but rather shifting focus on to new discoveries during less intense, yet varied workouts.  I apply this same concept to my Triathlon training, so that I am race ready come Spring.  Otherwise, my body is sure to break down from the repetition and sheer intensity without a break.  I often pick up alternative activities such as ice skating with friends.  It’s interesting how well these diversions complement both mental and physical growth in my riding.  There needs to be a balance and not an extreme to one side or the other.   Interestingly, it is always on the recovery side that I gain a new perspective, which may not have been so apparent during times of stress.

My plan for yesterday was to focus on the shoulder-in, something we have not worked on much lately; however, my horse surprised me with the most exciting trot steps at the VERY beginning of our workout that I have EVER felt.  What pleased me most was that she captured all of the goals that we have been working on over the past year or so into a single experience that I will definitely remember forever.  I continued that same beautiful trot for about 20 minutes and then called it a day.

Being average is hard work!

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It’s officially Friday, at dark o’clock (aka 5:26 AM) and I am at our local gym sitting in my parked car staring blankly ahead at the pond that belongs to the resident ducks and geese.  The fog is starting to lift.  I hear a slight rustle from the wind and there is a splattering of raindrops across my windshield.  There are exactly 7 other cars in the parking lot right now, I counted.  I grab my workout bag and zombie shuffle towards the indoor pool.

I am here for Basic Training.  It’s week 2 and there are 13 weeks in total.  I am crossing them off one by one on my office whiteboard.  My friends recruited me for this intensive “off season” cross-training adventure that will build Confidence.  I was initially drawn in just like a paperclip is to a magnet by the cool T-shirt they were wearing, not going to lie.  There must be 35 people in the class just like me who really want that T-shirt.  Which has to be earned by the way.  How do I balance this with my riding?  I have a dedicated schedule.  Basic Training is 3 days a week (for me) and I ride 4-5 days a week, doubling up one day a week.  I also have strength training & spinning class on Tuesdays, a long run on Sundays and work full time.  It’s not perfect, but I try to avoid too many excuses to change it.

The course description:

Basic Training is a unique fitness course based on the exercises used by the elite U.S. Navy SEAL Teams.  Basic Training is not a SEAL-wannabe or pseudo-military course – it is a fitness program designed for the general population. Consisting of a variety of exercises and ‘motivational techniques’, this course will push you to new levels mentally and physically.

So let’s face it, statistically very few athletes will ever reach an elite status in their sport(s).  I realized this when I selected the sports of Triathlon and Dressage.  I am an average athlete.  Average swimmer, runner, cyclist and rider.  I signed up for these sports knowing that I would have to work tremendously hard towards achieving my goals.  I am not trying to reach illusive goals written for some unknown.  I’ve often pondered if it’s the ‘I can’t reach elite status’ that puts so many people on the sidelines reluctant to participate in the sport(s) they’ve chosen.  Success comes with so much variation.  Techniques can be modified to suit the individual and/or horse.  I’ve spent a lot of time on the sidelines watching others become stronger.

Today I become stronger.

We start in the pool with warm-up laps.  I am instantly impressed with fellow teammates who are swimming laps for the first time. Captain R instructs us to do 10 swim laps, going out with focus on form, returning with focus on speed.  After each lap, we are instructed to do 10 push-ups on the deck.  A quick transition from the pool to the workout room and we are doing pull-ups followed by 2 laps outside running around the building.  We regroup in the parking lot and prepare for 200 meters of moving burpees, out and back.  Captain R is watching my technique as I declare, “I am doing them!”  He responds with, “You are crushing them!” These burpees bring my mental strength into play.  I ask my teammate beside me as we struggle to complete them why the faster folks ahead of us have not yet turned around.  He replied, because today we are going further.

Running back to the building and finishing up the hour, I shared with my friend that some people say I am crazy for doing what I do.  She responded with, perhaps they aren’t thinking so much about what you are doing, but what they aren’t doing.

The conditions aren't always ideal, but my passion remains strong.

The conditions aren’t always ideal, but my passion remains strong.

Race Report: 2013 Tri the Worx ~ Sprint Distance

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For past races, I have woken up at the ‘dark and oh-not-so-cheery’ time of 5:00 AM feeling groggy and lifeless as I navigate through my pre-race morning routine.  I’ve been known to fill the Keurig with water, insert a K-Cup and then forget the actual coffee cup, watching with dismay as it floods the counter and then drips on to the floor until my husband’s snaps me out of it … “Jen, Jen” !!!

You might be thinking how in the world do I get myself to the actual race site, set up in transition and over to the swim start.  One word.  Autopilot.  I have lots of practice.  My dear husband sends me off with these encouraging words, “watch for animals”.  I think to myself, do you mean prey animals because I would be a target for them right about now!

I have packing down to a science even to the extreme of attaching my bike rack, loading my bike and squishing it all into the garage and closing the door.  I also include a post-it-note on my dashboard reminding me to open the closed door in the morning.  Why?  Remember, autopilot.

For this race, I had a dream that I forgot my bike.  Not sure why because we’ve been on good terms this past month.  The mushroom has not felt inclined to deposit me on the side of the road with a dropped chain or flat tire or otherwise.  So, I think we are good there, I think.  It could be that in checking my bike shoes the day before the race (always, always double check equipment the day before a race!), I noticed 3 screws that attach the cleat to my left shoe were gone!  Glad I caught that one.  I don’t even want to think about what might have happened.  Thankfully, the super awesome folks at The Bicycle Chain fixed them for me.  They had spares.  They also noted the wear and well, rust on my cleats and said that I must be using them a lot.  Which is true, but I am also really rough on them AND riding my bike usually pairs nicely with torrential rain.

It’s an hour long drive to the race site and Lorde-Royals played on the radio 3 times.  Guess what song I raced to?  Arriving at the race site, race volunteers promptly inform me that I will not be able to leave the comforts of this prime-o parking spot until the last runner crosses the finish line.  I am okay with that now because it is dark, cold and the alternative is a long walk to the transition area.  I have instant fondness for this particular race site because there are toilets inside of a real building that flush.  Need I say more?

For this race I have already scored points, I slept 7 solid hours, I am nourished and I successfully french braided the front of my hair, so that I can see while on the bike.  As I am finishing up my transition set up a race official stops to ask me questions (while checking for any rule violations).  Why in that very instant do I feel it’s necessary to tell her about my entire race season?  Shut it, Jen.

We’ve been told that the outdoor pool water (70 degrees, maybe) will feel warm in comparison to the air temperature (54 degrees, overcast & breezy).  It’s easy to convince us as we stand poolside trembling with teeth chatter.  I dip my foot to test the water.  Yup, just as I expected not warm.  Not warm at all!  The worst part?  Standing there watching the expressions of the lead swimmers as they come out of the pool.  But I survived Lake Logan (67 degrees of circulating frost bite) and I will take this one for the Team.

I am so numb heading into T1 that I don’t feel a thing until I jump on the mushroom and my ribs start to cramp.  Frozen to the core I am.  I keep my legs going and try to stretch out over the handle bars.  There is a bit of a head wind and I am trying to maintain my average speed of 18-19 mph.  I reach the 3 mile mark and a volunteer cheers, “don’t give up now! crank those pedals” which makes me glance at my speed, still a solid 18 mph.  I am wondering what in the world my competition is doing!  No time for worry as there are 3 hill climbs coming up – one after the other – Gah!  I am experiencing some shifting issues in the valleys.  Here’s the deal, if the mushroom doesn’t think I can handle a harder gear, it refuses to shift despite the coaxing and subtle words of encouragement.  It just won’t happen until I clearly prove to the mushroom that I can maintain a better cadence.  And 9 times out of 10 the mushroom has been right.  But why does the mushroom have to be right during a race?

I am in and out of T2 in 44 seconds as I hear a familiar voice calling from behind the fence, “Go Jen!”.  It’s my husband?  I am shocked because he hates dark o’clock mornings.  I give him a big smile and head out for my run.

I’ve been working on my run this season, I am convinced at least in a Sprint Triathlon, it’s the fastest run that wins it.  At times I’ve felt like speed would never happen even though the endurance is there.  This month I’ve picked up some speed.  Not sure where it came from, but I am not complaining.  So I embrace the run, attack some hills and increase my stride length for the final mile burn.  I finish my run in 29 minutes which is excellent for me.

So, here is the heart breaker… I missed 3rd place in my AG by a mere 23 seconds!  With a pool swim it’s hard to know where your competition is because they might very well be behind you.  Sneaky!  On that note, I did break my own rules as noted in my previous post, to let a very serious 12 year old competitor know that she was totally awesome.  Her smile and thank you was well worth the time.  Kindness towards others means more than winning a race.  Always remember that.

So, here are my final race stats:

10 minute (very cold!) pool swim (350m), T1 59 sec, 45 minute bike (11.4 miles), T2 44 sec, and 29 minute run (5k).

Pretty close to my post-it-note goals (ample swim time = frosty waters & lane crowding).

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Who is waiting for me at the Finish?  It’s my husband, of course!

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