Sunday, August 22, 2010

What I did on my summer vacation

I just had an AWESOME week off. I needed this week. My one and only goal was to spend as much quality time with the girls as possible. All I can say is mission accomplished!

We started the week with Peanut's SEVENTH birthday. Seven. Whoa. I just can't believe it. She is growing up so fast. Even though she has a summer birthday - perfect for an outdoor pool or swimming party - Peanut wanted . . . wait for it . . . an ice skating party. Fortunately, the local ice rink is open all year round and guess what? Ice skating parties are DIRT CHEAP in the summer.

So ice skating it was - she and 15 of her closest friends. They had a great time and despite several of the girls being first-time skaters, they all gave it a try and by the end of the session, a goodly number were moving around the rink on their own. Peanut was in her glory, which made it even better.

Mid-week, we headed (as the locals say) "down the shore." On the way, Loaf had to pee (revealing this news less than 60 seconds after passing one of the only rest areas on the Garden State Parkway). I feel it's not officially a vacation until someone has to pee on the side of the road, so over we pulled and dropped trough right there on the grass along the express lanes of the GSP. Fist pump!

Once at the beach, we had an absolutely amazing time.

We dug in the sand, we splashed in the waves, we chased seagulls, ate ice cream and strolled the boardwalk. It really doesn't get any better as far as I'm concerned and there is nothing - NOTHING - as sweet as the sound of your own children squealing and laughing as they frolic in the waves. I wish I could have two straight weeks of it. Just fantastic!

Fearless girl

She was completely fearless. She would have dove in and started bobbing beyond the breakers had I let her.

Ice cream!

It's not a beach day without ice cream!

Beach babies

My beach babies

This was definitely my favorite part of the week. I wrapped those girls around me like a giant beach towel and soaked up every giggle. I doted on them - ice cream before dinner? Sure! I ran with them in the waves and laid on a beach blanket with their salty heads against me, not even minding the sand they trekked with them. This was my summer redemption - my chance to make up for all the moments I've missed over the last few weeks when I've been locked away at the office. I loved it.

On Friday, we took an entirely different trip and spent the day in New York, picnicking in Central Park and visiting the Museum of Natural History where, on our third trip, we FINALLY got to see the famous blue whale suspended from the ceiling (the previous two trips, the room was closed). The girls love the park and could spend all day climbing all over the giant rocks in the park.

We spent the weekend close to home, but stayed busy riding bikes and going to the movies to see Despicable Me, which gets six thumbs (Peanut's, Loaf's and mine) up. And we filled in the rest of our time reading stories, playing Uno, swimming at friend's pond, catching butterflies and just being silly and relaxed.

So not the most exciting vacation in the history of the world, but it was EXACTLY what the doctor ordered. I'm already experiencing serious PVD (post-vacation depression). ::sigh

Back to reality . . .

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Tri number six in the bag

Last Sunday, I completed the Revolutionary Sprint Triathlon. Mucky water, crazy hills on the bike course, uneven, rocky trail run . . . but five minutes from my house. So how can I resist?

I actually slept really well for the night before a race. I went to bed early and woke to the alarm at 5:50. I washed, drank some water, ate a banana and walked out the door around 6:15.

When I arrived, transition was still fairly empty, except for my bike rack, which was completely full. Figures. I squeezed in and started setting up.

My stomach was a little off, but I managed to eat most of a bagel with peanut butter and drank quite a bit of water. Two women from town were doing the race as well, so I found them and we chatted for a while.

Transition closed at 7:30 a.m. so I left and slipped into the water for a warm up. This is, as you may recall, a nasty, mucky swim. Last year, I swam through a piece of floating seaweed as big as my freakin’ car. It was a little less mucky this year thankfully, but still kind of gross.

Pretty soon, it was time to start. My friend T. was in the same wave, so I wished her luck and off we went.


The swim was a quarter mile “M” shaped course. It was relatively uneventful. T. and I finished at almost the exact same time – she ran out of the water right in front of me. Mark says I was in the first half of my wave.

That said, my swim time was quite a bit slower this year. All week I’ve been trying to figure out why, because I’m definitely a better swimmer than last year. Two factors could have been at work:
1. It was a bigger wave this year, and a couple of times I got stuck behind slower swimmers and could not get around them, whereas last year I felt like I just cruised right through the pack.
2. The swim time didn’t end on the beach like last year. Instead, the sensor was back at the entrance to transition, so the run back up the beach and up a hill was counted in the swim time.

Whatever the reason, it was slower and I’m cranky about that.

Last year’s swim time: 10:36
This year: 13:19
I know. WTF?

This was pretty straightforward. I did make a point to drink a big sip of water since I have trouble drinking on the bike, but overall, an OK T1.

Last year’s T1: 4:32
This year: 2:00

Oh boy.

This is not a long course—only 10 miles—but it is super hilly. You climb a long hill straight out of transition, and another super steep one less than a mile later. Then there are no less than 8 other climbs. I kid you not.

My goal this year, was to keep it over 10mph and finish in less than an hour, which I know to a true cyclist sounds like a wimpy goal, but that’s what I wanted. And . . .

Last year’s bike: 1:02:50
This year: 56:35

So I’m still slow. Quite slow. But significantly faster than last year. Next year’s goal is to do it sub-50. Fingers crossed!

Nothing eventful here. Changed shoes, drank water, popped on my hat and ran out.

Last year’s T2: 2:02
This year: 1:56


The run is a 5K on a trail. The trail is uneven, narrow and loaded with tree roots and rocks. Last year, I took a nasty fall, scraping a good amount of skin off my arm and knee. So this year, I gave myself permission to WALK the worst parts of the trail.

I know, I know. But seriously people, I was on vacation last week. I just wasn’t looking to spend it with a twisted ankle or with my arm all bandaged up. It’s just not worth it to me, especially after passing several runners coming out of the woods with bloody knees.

So I walked the really treacherous sections and ran when I felt it was safe. My run time isn’t great, but even given the walking, I still beat last year’s time.

Last year’s run: 34:59
This year: 33:58

My neighbor (who finished this race 30 minutes faster than me without doing any special tri training whatsoever <--not fair!) suggested getting a pair of shoes specifically designed for trail running, which seems like a good idea. My thick-soled stability shoes are especially hazardous on uneven terrain, so I’ll look into those for next year.

Overall time
Last year: 1:54:59
This year: 1:47:38

So better, definitely better, especially given how undertrained I am at the moment. I imagine if I’d been training this year the way I was last year, I’d have made an even bigger dent in that time.

But that is the best I can do at the moment, and I’m satisfied.

Now, to try to find a September race in order to meet my goal of four tris in 2010.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

She swims, she rides, she runs . . . SheRox!

On July 25, nearly three weeks ago, I did my fifth triathlon—SheRox New England.

I was really excited to do this race for a few reasons:
1. It was all women, and I love the dynamic of an all-women race (and the Revolutionary Tri is co-ed race this year –BOO!)
2. I was doing the race with Beckie and Julie, two of my good friends (and sorority sisters) from college.
3. SheROX has a reputation for putting on a great race.

While SheROX does have a race in New Jersey, it is an ocean swim, and despite doing well in last year’s Mainiac, I still have fears about ocean swimming (especially given that NJ shore has more robust breakers than the spot in Maine where we swam last year).

So, New England it was!

The race was Sunday, but you had to pick up your race packet (chip, numbers, swim cap) on Saturday, so I left Saturday morning to make the three-and-a-half hour drive to Webster, Mass.

I met Beckie and Julie and three of Beckie’s friends from New Hampshire. We drove the bike and run courses and then had dinner in a local restaurant. We then drove about 15-minutes to the B&B in Connecticut (just a lovely little place) and checked in. We all retired early, but none of us slept. I was super nervous about the swim start. This was a BIG race - over 2,000 women, and my wave had over 80 women in it. I had visions of getting run over and pushed underwater at the swim start. I literally don't think I slept more than an hour or two - and not all at once - all night long. Ugh!

I was wide awake at 4:38 a.m. when the alarm went off. We quickly dressed and left for the race site. We were among the first to arrive and secured a good spot on the outermost bike rack. I had the nice volunteers pump up my tires, got body marked and set up my transition area.

Transition area for SheROX New England

Transition area at the race site. HUGE.

I was trying desperately to eat something, but could barely choke down a single Cliff bar. I knew that was not a great thing, but my stomach was rolling and food was making it worse.

Around 6:30 a.m. we went down to the water and I slipped in for a warm up swim. I have found these to be invaluable in calming my nerves. I was amazed to find the water was crystal clear. I could see the every rock and plant on the bottom perfectly – it was the most beautiful open water swim I’ve ever experienced.

Start and swim

At 7 p.m. on the nose, the first wave went off – the pros/elites. Man, they are amazing to watch! The first woman out finished the swim in under 8 minutes. Awesome.

I was in wave 4 (waves went off 3 minutes apart) so I hugged Beckie and headed to the water’s edge. The women in my wave were standing at the water’s edge in five, long rows – by far the biggest start I’ve ever taken part in. I got in the second row way to the right hoping to stay out of the way of the type-As, while at the same time avoid getting bottle necked behind the newbies and slower swimmers. I think it was a successful strategy.

The gun went off and so did I – no hesitation. I railed forward and dived in. This was by far my best open water swim to date. I felt completely at ease, I sighted really well, I immediately went into a strong crawl with bilateral breathing and kept it up for the whole swim.

The course was supposed to be a half mile, but I don’t think it was actually that long because my time was 14:02 (in the pool my best half mile time has been about 17 minutes). But anyway, I’ll take it!

A.K.A. "Lake Webster"

I can't say it, but I can swim it! Longest place name in the U.S. Also known as "Lake Webster"


After the swim, it was a loooong way back to transition and my bike was on the farthest rack. I jogged back pulling my wetsuit, goggles and cap off as I went. By the time I got back, I just stepped out of the suit and yanked it off my legs.

Slipped on my bike shoes and helmet, slogged a bit of water and off I went. Not a bad T1, but could be a bit better. Time: 3:24


I quickly realized that I had not done a good job rinsing my feet. I had little pebbles in my bike shoes rubbing the tops of my toes – owie. I wiggled them to get the stones off with only moderate success.

The bike course was 12 miles, with one good, mile-long climb about 3.5 miles in. I’m glad I’ve been working on hills so much. I still slowed WAY down on the hill, but I got all the way up (parts were pretty steep) passing tons of women walking their bikes up it. Felt great.

The rest of the course was rolling hills to flat and I pushed really hard on the bike, working aggressively to keep my speed over 16 mph. I was relatively successful and finished the course in 51:15 (ave. speed 14.0). Had it not been for the hill, this would have been my best bike yet.

OK, here is where I made a very freshman mistake.

I dismounted, ran over to my row and . . . stuff? Stuff? WHERE IS MY EFFING STUFF?

I could not find my spot on the rack, and hence, my running shoes. I ran up and down the rack several times before FINALLY spotting my towel. URGH!

Hence, my T2 was 2:19. This was my lowest place/rank in the whole race. Just UGH!

Once I found my stuff, it was very straightforward – changed shoes, slugged water, ran out.

The run was tough. Really tough. I felt nauseous and lightheaded. My legs were wobbly. I was dehydrated, undernourished and hot. I felt like I was barely moving. I wanted to stop and walk SO BADLY.

However, I was determined to run it all, even if it was slow. The course was 2.9 miles and I was really hoping for a sub 30-minute time. I came in at 30:12. GRRRRR! I missed it by 12 freakin’ seconds. My pace was pretty average for me – 10:25 – but I’m just pissed at myself for not pushing just a BIT harder.

Plus, right at the end, Beckie caught up and passed me. I was happy to finish, and really happy to finish with her, but still totally irritated at myself for not being able (or willing? I often wonder how much of this stuff really is mental and if digging deeper and pushing harder is more about brain vs. brawn) to get moving faster. Anyway, it is what it is and I’m mostly over it. Mostly. But not totally.

Total time: 1:41:12

Wrap up
I was super happy to finish and it was fun to stand on the other side and cheer for the rest of our group as each woman crossed the line. I really liked this race overall and would definitely do it again next year.

Next up: the Revolutionary Tri in New Jersey on Sunday! Stay tuned . . .

Before the SheROX tri
Julie, me and Beckie pre-race

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Friday, August 06, 2010

My poor, neglected blog

So here's the deal.

Ten days after my dad passed away my work life got turned upside down. I was "asked" to come on board full time. Anyone who has been reading my blog for a while, or should I say, used to read it when I was posting more than once every quarter, knows how much I loved the part-time work arrangement I shared with Mark.

I refuse to go into any more details about it, other than to say, alas, I guess it just is no longer meant to be.

Unfortunately, working full time, out of the house, five days a week, with a 50-60 minute commute each way, has taken its toll on just about every facet of my life. My triathlon training is in the dumps. I'm struggling to get in 3 or 4 quick workouts a week, sometimes leaving the house at 5:15 a.m. to swim or running in the dusky early mornings at 5:30 a.m. before I'm even fully awake. Not fun.

I feel like I rarely see my kids Monday through Friday. My time with them is limited to about 30 minutes in the morning (if I don't go to the gym) and about 90 minutes in the evening.

Blogging has taken the biggest hit as you can obviously tell. And it's not just a lack of time. It's a lack of creativity/desire/get-up-and-go. I'm mentally spent after 8+ hours in the office and the last thing I want to look at is a computer. So, it's gotten cut out altogether.

I know BlogHer is happening in New York City - 45 minutes away from me this weekend. It eats me up not to be there, but then I think: for what? I have no readers and don't even know if I'll be blogging at all in a year.

I've decided the best strategy is not to stress about it. I will post when I can, and more importantly, when I want to. If I have readers who are willing to bear with me and check in every so often? Great. And if not, then this goes back to what I originally intended: a place to share pictures and stories about my life with distant friends and family members.

In the meantime, I hope everyone at BlogHer has fun. And maybe, just maybe, this ship will right itself and I'll feel confident enough to join you all in the future.

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