Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Operation Keebler

I need to preface this post. Before you say "Oh, cry me a river" or anything like that, hear me out. And if that doesn't work, well, I apologize for the general obnoxiousness that follows.

When I am on a schedule, my nutrition generally clicks along nicely. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, snack, dinner, snack. There are some meltdowns here and there, like a big chicken cheesesteak, fries, and a beer for dinner, but these are generally few and far between because they wreak havoc on my training the next day. Lately, though, there has been no schedule, because I have not yet started working. I wake up whenever I please, which is generally around 10:00, putter around for a bit, go do some training, work on projects around the house, and so on. But because there's no schedule right now, my eating has totally gone off track in a big, major, catastrophic way.

Here's my issue: I'm losing weight, and have lost about 10 pounds since graduation in May. Big deal, right? But I don't have much room for error - at graduation, I was 118 on a 5'6" frame, which means that a few days ago I was 108. This is as bad as if I had gained 10 pounds, but instead of carrying around extra weight, I feel like I am losing strength, especially on the bike. I feel like the endurance to push the big gears isn't there like it should be. My long ride this past weekend wiped me out far more than it should have for the speeds I went. My clothes are falling off, and I refuse to buy anything new because I shouldn't be this light. This has to stop, and NOW.

Bring on Operation Keebler.

I can 100% attest to the fact that if you stop snacking and keep up your workouts, you will lose weight. Doing so in the weeks before your new A race, though, is a bad, bad idea. So I am making a giant effort to make sure I get those snacks and extra calories in. I'm taking all the diet tips and turning them on their heads - drink only water? I'm drinking as much juice as I can. No mid-morning snacks? I'll have two giant handfuls of trail mix, thanks. No eating before bed? It's Ben & Jerry's for me.

And it seems to be working. I'm up a couple pounds over the last few days. Hopefully in the next few days I can rebuild some of my calorie stores and get my act together. Because this is ridiculous.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Overcoming Doubt

As I've said often, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to sports psychology. I don't need Athlinks, or competitor lists, or really anything in order to get psyched out about a race or my speed/lack thereof. I can get into my head better than any competitor.

I think there are a couple of explanations for this. First, I've never thought of myself as anything other than the 'long slow distance' type. I was on soccer and crew teams, sure, but I was a goalie and coxswain. When I finally got into running, I did it for the physical benefit but also for the mind-clearing aspect of it as well, and I immediately pushed out any thoughts of competition/pressure/anything that would make running anything other than relaxation. I was also slow. The second possible explanation is that I have asthma, which I control with multiple medications, and this recent change to speedwork has left me unsure of how hard I can push without getting into trouble.


Every now and then the stars and planets align, the birds sing, the flowers bloom, and things fall into place. This past weekend was one of those times.

My swim on Friday was the best swim I've had in months; I felt strong and set a new PR for 200 yards.
On Saturday, Speedy and I went out for what we knew would be a tough brick, with intervals on the bike and a race-pace track run afterwards. We had a tailwind on the way out, and since the intervals didn't start until we turned around, we knew we'd have a tough ride back into the headwind. And it was tough, but we actually upped our average MPH during the way back, despite the headwind. Maybe we were just dogging it on the way out :) The run kicked my ass; I got through the first 5 of 8 laps without too many problems and then halfway through the 6th felt that familiar tightness in my chest. I told Speedy that I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold the pace. Instead of letting me stop, he all but tied a rope between us and towed me around the last 2 laps. He lived up to his nickname, pacing me around the second mile 10 seconds under race pace, and I didn't have an asthma attack. I can push the "how far I can push" line back just a little more now.
On Sunday, we went out to Wissahickon to run some trails, and I felt great. I led most of the way on the single-track trail. This was the first run ever that Speedy has told me that he almost had to tell me to slow down. (Note: he didn't tell me to slow down, but just the fact that he was willing to tell me he was considering it was pretty cool.)

Weekends like this help me to remember that I am not, in fact, turning to mush, and even though I no longer have Iron ambitions, I am making some great progress towards my new goal. These training sessions go straight into the bank, sure to be withdrawn during my next tri-related existential crisis.


SiteMeter lets me see the general traffic on my blog. I don't have ads or anything fancy; it's mostly just for my own curiosity, and is generally boring. But sometimes it's funny or weird.

Here are two recent searches that have led people to my blog. Suffice to say that I doubt either person found what they were looking for:
  • "Driving a Porsche in the rain" (Thank you, Speedy-as-contributor)
  • "Young Speedo Pictures" (um . . . ew?)
Like I said . . . I doubt either person found what they were looking for.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Shout-out to the Small Ring

I was out for a ride today on a loop close to home that I know well. Its a four-ish mile loop that runs alongside a river with wide shoulders on one side and fairly minimal traffic on the other. There's a small bridge crossing the river at each end, and both bridges are on fairly busy roads. So as you can imagine, this loops lends itself well to interval rides.

Today, it was 4 minute intervals. Ride up the North side, recover on the bridge, ride down the South side, recover on the bridge, repeat. As usual, the wind was blowing down river. Headwind on the first, tailwind on the second, and so fourth. Makes for an interesting interval workout, because its difficult to maintain a similar level of effort from one interval to the next.

The intervals on the North side were fun. Cruising along in the big ring, goin fast, the scenery is a blur; this is what riding a bike is all about.

The intervals on the South side were just hard. Spinning in the small ring at over 100 rpm, just trying to keep the pedals turning over, sweat blowing in my eyes, hunching my shoulders down to get them out of the wind; its the anthesis of the other side of the river.

Somewhere in the middle of a four-minute slogfest into the wind, I got to thinking about what what makes me stronger as a rider. The answer: the small ring. Its not entirely intuitive until you do a ride like today's, but its an inevitable truth.

The big ring is a luxury. When the conditions are nice and the road is flat, nothin beats the big ring. Its like driving a Porsche with the top down.

But lets face it, the small ring is the workhorse. When the going gets tough, you're gonna be in the small ring. Riding up a mountain? Small ring. Twenty-five mph headwind? Small ring. If you're facing adversity on the road, chances are you're in the small ring. Races are won in the small ring.

And you're not gonna be driving that Porsche in freezing rain.

So, Small Ring, here's a shout-out to you. Thanks for making me faster.

Karma is a Bitch

A couple of years ago, I volunteered to adopt a dog from a friend of a friend when she could no longer keep the dog. This dog came with warnings: he was on Prozac and something else (I don't remember what), wore a choke collar and an electric shock collar, and had a behaviorist. I gave it a try, and collected the dog, crate, remaining food, various collars and leashes, medications, and so on, and brought everything home. That night, the dog was (voluntarily) in his crate, and when my cat approached the crate for a sniff he nearly bit the cat's head off. Later that same night, while the dog was laying on the floor, I approached the dog to pet him, and he growled at me. I called the friend-of-a-friend to ask about this and whether his growling was common, and she proceeded to blame his growling on me because, obviously, "Everyone knows you shouldn't go up to a dog that's laying down!" She also promised to call the dog's behaviorist to try to find some explanation. Later that same night, the dog again growled at me, and I ultimately decided that this pairing wasn't going to work. He just had too many issues - after all, what sort of dog needs Prozac and a behaviorist?

About that karma thing: Meet Sadie:
We adopted Sadie in late December, when I saw her at the shelter and just had to take her home. She's a great dog; she's smart and loyal and makes funny faces at us. But she's also got ridiculous separation anxiety. And by 'anxiety,' of course, I mean 'unholy terror of a dog who rips apart our house when we're gone.'

Her haul, so far, includes:
  • 4 throw pillows (including two nice big Crate & Barrel feather pillows)
  • 2 couch cushions
  • 2 TiVo remote controls (both replaced via overnight shipping from Best Buy)
  • the corner of our couch
  • multiple flip-flops (and generally only one of any given pair)
  • 2 coasters
Why don't I just keep her in a crate? That would solve all the chewing problems, and give her somewhere secure to stay while I'm gone. Right? Well, no. She's also chewed up two of those plastic pans that line the bottom of dog crates, and has tried to bite through the wire crate, and I'm worried she's going to seriously injure herself in a fit of panic. So no crate.

So my options are: crate her (not really a viable option), make sure one of us is home with her at all times (not practical), or keep her confined to one room while we're gone and hope that she does not destroy anything or injure herself while we're gone (currently the frontrunner). Because we don't have any good options, I've been talking to her vet, and while they've been great, they finally told us that they didn't think they could be of much more help (which is okay; they're really great in all other respects). They referred us to the veterinary behavior clinic at Penn, and in the meantime, to help with Sadie's panic when we leave, have prescribed her an anti-anxiolytic. On the plus side, though, when I talked to the people from Penn they sounded like they see cases like this a lot and can probably help us. Which is good, because the other alternatives are not so appealing.

My dog has a behaviorist and takes drugs. That karma; it'll get you every time.

Straight Out Of A Commercial

I recently ordered a new suit from Splish, and knew from the tracking email that it would arrive today. I've been waiting not-so-patiently for the FedEx truck (I love Splish suits).

A small-ish Budget rental truck pulls up to my house, and a uniformed FedEx guy gets out and drops off the package on my front porch, ringing the doorbell and yelling "FedEx!" through the screen door.

Yes, FedEx is delivering this route today with a Budget rental truck. How long before this becomes a commercial?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Brilliant Idea

Speedy and I celebrated our first anniversary on Saturday by going to Cape May for the weekend. We stayed at a small bed-and-breakfast, of which there are like 100 in the town. It was nice.

We kicked off the weekend in classic style:

On Friday evening, we decided to go to dinner at a place about 1.5 miles from the B&B. It seemed like a lovely evening, nice and breezy and shady, and I thought it would be nice to walk there. Speedy didn't really agree, and wanted to take the beach cruiser bikes that the B&B keeps for guests. But he decided that if I really wanted to walk, we could walk. You won't be surprised to hear that he was right; walking was a bad idea.

It was indeed nice and breezy and shady - on the tree-lined street that the B&B is on. Turn off of that street, and it's 90 with a hot breeze and bright, hot, unrelenting sun. For the whole walk. I had tried to pack light, which I am not really very good at (what if I need that? and that? and that? I better just bring it all...) and I had only brought a pair of flip-flops and a pair of flats. And my bike shoes and running shoes. Since I determined that my flip-flops would not be supportive enough for the walk, I chose to wear my flats. This was an ill-advised decision. I've worn them before, but really only for walking to and from class, nothing like a 1.5-mile walk with sweaty feet.

By the time we stopped on a little drawbridge near the restaurant, my feet were on fire. I had gotten three blisters - one on each heel and one on the top of my left foot. I could barely walk by the time we got to the restaurant, and my light-gray cotton shirt was gross with sweat. Speedy was also sweaty, but had worn socks and comfortable shoes, and was wearing a t-shirt under his black polo shirt, so he was not as obviously gross as I was.

We were given a table in a dark corner of the restaurant, and given our collective grossness I think the hostess probably deserves a raise for her wise decision. Once seated, we each drank two tall iced teas like they were the best thing ever.

We called a cab for the way home.

Go us. We know how to party.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Well....It's Complicated

Warning: Totally undeserved and somewhat entitled rant ahead. Read at your own risk.

Many relationships are complicated. Romantic relationships, family relationships, friendships - all have their share of occasional (or frequent) drama, punctuated by things as mundane as grumbling to yourself or more invidious like silent seething, or the out-and-out battle of wit and will.

But a relationship with a coach? Now, that's supposed to be simple. You tell your coach your goals, you work together on the big plan, the coach sets out the details like the workouts and taper, you do it, and you go fast. Right? Right.


Now, let me preface all this by saying that I know I'm not the easiest person to work with, especially when I'm stressed. Speedy is a saint (a fact that my family likes to note on a fairly regular basis). I've been very surprised by how my relationship with my coach has formed. After going back and forth with the idea of working with a coach for a little while, and then using a one-size-fits-all online training plan, I connected with a young local coach who was just getting his coaching business going. I figured this was perfect - I didn't mind that he didn't have a ton of experience, I liked his coaching philosophies, and his prices were very good.

And so it went. I love not having to plan my own workouts, and I love getting faster. But, um . . . I don't like being told what to do. Yes, I know that this is fundamentally inconsistent with the fact that I pay a coach to tell me what to do. It generally works out okay, until I have a crappy week of workouts, or I 'feel slow' (how's that for an arbitrary and nebulous description?) or I don't race well.

My last few weeks have been rough, tri-wise. The week before the bar, I was tapering for a sprint. The week of, I took the testing days off. Last week, I was recovering from that 'hit by a truck' feeling, and had a bad race. This week I am finally feeling better, and getting back into speedwork. But I can't shake the feeling that there's an element missing, like my coach and I are not connected in a way that we need to be.

It's ridiculous, I know. I've been really busy and extraordinarily stressed out, and he has tried very hard to accommodate me by setting out doable workouts. Not only that, but my focus had been a Half-Iron, and is now a sprint, which makes my weekend workouts a good bit different. And what do I do? I bitch. And grumble. And silently seethe.

Fortunately, cooler heads (aka Speedy) prevail, and remind me that:
  • stress,
  • a significantly changed focus,
  • generally good race results, and
  • an overall increase in speed
mean that really, my coach is serving me quite well, and I'm misdirecting my bad-race frustration at a totally undeserving target. Fortunately, rather than shooting myself in the foot (now that would ruin my season) by having this conversation with my coach, I have a top-notch sounding board in Speedy, who (more often that I would like to admit) keeps me from doing something stupid. So instead, I grumble to myself while doing 1000 repeats around the track, since that's what my coach told me to do. (The repeats part. He didn't tell me to grumble while doing it.)

Sigh. I thought this was supposed to be easy.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Speedy's Brigantine Race Report

Disclaimer: Ok, its not the shortest race report ever. If you get tired of reading, you can always petition Cheaper than Therapy to revoke my access :-)

Brigantine Island Triathlon
August 4, 2006
Swim .25, Bike 11, Run 4


This race is about at close to a home course as you can get. My parents live in Brigantine, and I’ve spend plenty of time training on the roads that the course used. I also anticipated seeing lots of South Jersey types that I knew from my high school days. So I should have been really excited for this race, but the whole week leading up to the race I was flat. I think it may have been the post A-race letdown after New Jersey. I’d had a few really good weeks of training, I did a good taper, and I raced really well, exceeding my goals for the race. So there wasn’t a lot of mental energy left for Brigantine.

I finally started to get excited about racing on the drive down to my parents’ house on Friday afternoon. Race morning we slept in (relatively speaking, or course) til about 6am. Got up, ate some breakfast, threw the transition bag over my shoulder and (get this!) rode my bike the 1 mile to transition. No loading the car, no looking for parking… it was great.

The Swim

The water was warm, but the RD allowed wetsuits anyway. I decided not to wear mine because I was already feeling pretty buoyant in the salty water. The swim was basically a trapezoid with the first leg into a strong current. My plan was to go out hard and take advantage of the tough conditions.

Waiting for the swim to start, I experienced what seems to be a common theme in the races I’ve done. You’ve got a bunch of guys in their twenties and thirties, all fired up and ready to race, and acting like meatheads in the water. Invariably I end up thinking to myself “oh man, these guys are hard-core maybe I should start off to the side in the second or third row…” So the swim starts and everybody takes off and typical swim-start craziness ensues.

I had a pretty good swim and found some feet to follow after the first turn. After the second turn we were swimming with the current and moving quickly. The final turn was into the swim exit and required swimming across the current. I made it to the swim exit and saw your host Cheaper than Therapy standing along the fence waiting for her wave to start. She yelled to me that I was fourth out of the water. Fourth?!? What happened to all those guys meatheading it up at that start? Anyway, it was a good swim and I was happy with it.

Time: 6:59
Rank: 22

T1 was a fairly long run down a narrow transition area. I saw my parents as I was running up to my rack, that was pretty cool. Put the helmet and sunglasses on and I was outta there.

Time: 1:13

The Bike

After the typical craziness of the swim, the bike was the total opposite. Starting at T1, it was a lonely day out there. I got passed by a guy who looked pretty strong in the first mile of the bike. After that, I was alone. I hate starting in the first wave.

The first couple miles of the bike course was into the wind, and I just tried to keep my cadence up. After the turnaround at the southern end of the island, I was able to put it in the big ring and really crank for a while. The bike went by quickly and next think I knew I was back into the windy section of the course with only about a mile and a half to go.

Time: 29:33 22.3 mph
Rank: 39

T2 was nice and quick. I was surprised to see how many people were just coming into T1 as I was running through T2. Saw the parents again, its nice to have a cheering section.

Time: 1:13 (consistent, eh?)

The Run

Off onto the run course and still nobody in sight. My legs were feeling ok but not great, and I told myself to just treat the first half of this run like a 10k. The sun was hot and the canting of the road was brutal. I got through the first aid station and still nobody around. I kept thinking that I was probably gonna get run down at some point, but nothing yet. Sometime around the aid station, the bike course turned and joined the run course. That was definitely the coolest part of the run; I was really surprised by how my people shouted encouragement to me as they passed on their bikes.

I made the turn in 13:30. I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t moving faster, but why should I be; I spend the whole run telling myself to treat it like a 10k. Immediately after the turn I was on the lookout for guys behind me. Passed the closest guy going the other way at 14:15. So I had him by a minute-thirty. And he was gonna have to run 6 flat to catch me. This was not the stimulus I needed. Instead of pushing the last 2 miles like planned, I backed off. That welcoming invitation of easing off the gas was too much to resist.

The last two miles still went by slowly. Every few minutes I’d give a glance over my shoulder to see if anyone was coming. No one did. Making the right hand turn into the long finishing chute was actually pretty cool. I started in the first wave, so I was 4th person to cross the finish line.

Time: 27:23 6:51 min/mile
Rank: 22

Time: 1:06:20
Rank: 18/501 overall, 1/38 age group

Despite being almost alone out on the course, I have to say that the fan support was awesome. For such a low key race, there were a lot of people out there. And the volunteers were great too, apparently there were 200 of them. Every turn on the bike course had 3 or 4 volunteers telling people where to go. And getting the age-group win was pretty nice, too. So all things considered, a pretty good race on the “home course” which I’ll definitely do again.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Conversations with Speedy

Preface: When he's feeling unimaginative, Speedy will train with me, doing the workout my coach has put together for me. We generally discuss this in advance, so I know whether or not to wait for him to get home before I go run or ride. For much of last week, I was feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck, as a result of the bar. One of those days, Speedy and I had agreed that I would wait for him to get home so we could ride together, and upon his return the following conversation took place:

Speedy: How are you feeling?
Me: (Yawn) Tired . . .
Speedy: So, are you still planning to ride this afternoon?

And just like that, I felt steam start to come out of my ears. Why? Because he asked me if I was "still planning to ride," as if there was an equally good chance that I might just blow off the workout as that I would actually do it. He asked me if I was still planning to ride, and I heard, "You're not gonna wimp out on me because you're a little sleepy, are you?? Are you, Princess?"

I'll admit to missing a workout here and there when I was studying. But, um, I was studying. It's not like I make a regular practice out of skipping workouts just because I'm tired.

And, of course, by the time we actually got out onto the bike I had worked myself into an indignant huff, which meant that our planned easy ride turned into hard intervals until I was thinking a little more rationally.*

Yes, I'm still planning to work out, thankyouverymuch.

*Because I am apparently incapable of doing an easy ride on my local roads (what? I get competitive when I get passed!) my coach has relegated me to the trainer for my recovery rides. Oops.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Hello, bloggerland!

At the behest of your intrepid host Cheaper Than Therapy, I have signed on to be a contributor to this blog. You can expect the occasional race report, training update or indignant rant, written with all the mastery of the English language one would expect from an engineer.

Thanks for reading,

Say Hi to Speedy!

Speedy has graciously agreed to be a contributor to the blog (read: we both talk way too much, and this is a good outlet). Be nice to him!

Not All Races Are Good Ones - Brig Tri

Yesterday was the Brigantine Triathlon. I went in with big goals; I wanted to match or beat my paces from NJ State, and in doing so I was hoping to place in my age group. Unfortunately, neither of those things happened.

The Swim: This was a bay swim, and the current was moving along pretty good. The water was a little choppy, and one particular person kept running into me (or me into her), but the real problem came when we turned around the buoy and into the current. I misjudged how fast the water was moving, and instead of heading back on the diagonal into the beach, I ended up going out too far and had to make a 90-degree turn back into the beach, and in doing so I lost a decent amount of time.

T1: I tried to rush through transition, and tried to put my helmet on forgetting that my sunglasses were in it. The sunglasses went flying, and one of the lenses popped out, so I had to fix that before I could get on my way. After having problems in T1 two races in a row, I think I need to be more methodical (but not slow) in T1 and make sure I am doing things step by step.

The Bike: For an 11-mile bike, this was surprisingly hard, due to bumpy roads, lots of turns, and a fairly decent wind blowing. I averaged 19.8, which I was pretty disappointed about. I had been hoping to be above 20, and at or above 21 mph, so ending up under 20 was a bummer. In fact, I averaged around 19.x in one of the tris I did last year, before I started working with a coach, so to not see any improvements for this race was very frustrating. But, on the up side, I got some good racing experience going back and forth with someone in my age group. She passed me when I was getting my feet into my shoes in the first mile (I remembered to put them on my bike this time!), then I passed her at about 3 miles in, she passed me again about a mile later, and I kept her in my sights and passed her with about 2 miles to go.

T2: Went fine. Got my bike in the rack, shoes on, race belt and visor in hand, and off I went.

The Run: Sucked. The course is a 4-mile out-and-back, on very canted roads with little to no shade. Given that I ran 7:20s at NJ, I was hoping for 7:30s or so. Nope. I ran 8:21 miles. And it was hot. But, like the bike, I got some racing in, running down someone who had passed me at about the halfway mark.

Overall: This was a very disappointing race for me. Looking at the results from the day, if I had hit my goal paces I would have placed in my age group, but instead I ended up 6th, coming in 6 minutes behind someone that I should only be about 2 minutes behind. I know that not every race can be a good one, but I've been racing well this season and it was a big let-down to have a crappy race. But, Speedy had a great race - he won his age group by quite a margin, taking on and beating some good competition in doing so.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

I feel like I've been living in a hole for a while. Speedy tried to engage me in a discussion about the Democratic presidential candidates, and it lasted about 2 minutes before I pleaded ignorance. That's pretty embarrassing - I just graduated from law school and I can't have an informed discussion about presidential candidates? Yeah, me = head under rock.

But things are slowly getting back to normal. I'm catching up on things that have fallen to the wayside in the past few months, including mundane things like cleaning my house. Boring, I know, but I hate feeling like I'm living in squalor.

I'm also getting back into training. This week is fairly easy in terms of intensity, and I am really liking the shift in focus from the Half-Ironman to the sprint race. Not only is it much more in line with my training right now, but it's more in line with my current strengths. I was planning to one-and-done this Half-Ironman, and spend the winter and next season trying to focus on getting faster at the sprint and Olympic distances. I think I am going to continue down that road, and put off the longer distance for a few years. I know, it's practically blasphemy in the tri world to have something other than an Iron-distance race as a goal, but that's where I am right now.

Meanwhile, I am freaking exhausted. The exam wiped me out, yes, but apparently my mom and sisters have also been unusually tired for the past few days, so I'm wondering if I picked up a low-level virus or something. Either way, I am feeling better each day. And I'm going to continue to claw my way out of this hole.

Race Report - NJ Sprint

I went back and forth in the weeks before this race, not sure whether I should race or not, because it was the weekend before the bar. I finally decided that I wouldn't be missing out on that much study time at that point, and the race would be a good distraction. Given all else I had going on, I didn't have any great expectations, but was hoping to place in my age group, since I thought a lot of the really strong competition I usually face would be doing to Olympic race.

Pre-Race: When Speedy and I went to packet pick-up the day before the race, we also checked out the transition and bike mount and dismount lines. When we saw that transition was long and paved, and there was a good bit of running required, we decided that I should do a flying mount and dismount, rather than trying to run that distance in my bike shoes. Only problem: I don't know how to do flying mounts and dismounts. So we got home and took the bikes out to the street in front of our house, where we ran back and forth practicing. It went pretty well, but the tongue of my shoes kept getting stuck, so we also cut out the tongue of the shoes. That makes me 3 for 3 this year with making drastic last-minute changes to some essential piece of gear the night before a race. Yeah, that adage about "don't make any last-minute changes!" seems to have gone in one ear and out the other.

Morning Of: We woke up early for the drive to the race, and got out of the house without any major catastrophes. Once we were all set up in transition, I headed down for a warm-up swim, but as it turns out warm-up swimming was only being allowed 1/4 mile away, at the swim start. After wasting about 5 minutes debating to myself whether I should walk down there or not, I finally realized that I should get my butt down there and go swim. So I hoofed it down there and got my swim warm-up done, and also determined that I had left my transition area in fine shape and I didn't have to go back before the race started. The swim start had lots of nervous energy. A minor gripe: the music playing at the swim start was Evanescence. It's not exactly the best get-up-and-go music, you know?

The Swim: There was a lot of space between the starting buoys, so I seeded myself in the front row. This wasn't an awful decision, but I definitely need to work on sprinting out of the gate a little more, especially in sprint races. I was moving along fine, had a few people run into me and I almost ran over someone from the wave before mine who was doing sidestroke. I felt bad about that; if he's doing sidestroke he's probably not super-comfortable, and having me nearly run into him couldn't have helped. I was sighting every 2-3 strokes at this point, though, because I was nearing the swim exit, and I swear this guy came out of nowhere.

T1: I tried to get that flying mount down. Which makes it really unfortunate that I forgot to put my shoes on my bike before I went down to the swim start. Rookie mistake, I know. So I shoved my feet into the shoes, rushing too much and getting the sides of the shoe all bunched up under my foot. Then, when I got to the bike mount line, I was that girl who kept shoving her foot onto the clip and I just could not get in. It was bad enough that when I finally clipped in, the volunteer standing there said something like, "There, you've got it. Now just relax and have a good race." Sigh. Not my best T1 ever.

The Bike: Fortunately, I made up for many T1 sins here. I felt strong. I didn't know how fast I was going, because I've found that when I can see my speed it gets in my head too much, so I race with my computer on cadence and distance, and focus on keeping my cadence around 90-95. I felt good, though, and was passing a lot of people, and only got passed by a couple of guys who appeared to be studs. The course was well-marked and overall not bad at all.

T2: This went much better than T1. I started to take my feet out of the shoes almost a mile out from T2, which was good because the course ended up being a little short by my computer, so I had plenty of time. The flying dismount went pretty well, except that I kicked my flat kit out of my rear bottle mount. Oops. I was a little worried that I would get a time penalty for that, but I got lucky and didn't, and went back to get it after the race. Bike shoved in the rack, and shoes on, visor and race belt in hand, and I was on my way.

Run: I went harder on the bike than usual and my legs had the standard jelly feeling for the first half-mile or so, but I was happy to notice that it didn't take them too long to feel pretty good again. I didn't get passed by any women, and only a couple guys. I felt good. The path was narrow, though, and there was one guy who wouldn't let me pass him! When I tried to accelerate around him, he'd speed up too, so I was running directly off his shoulder for a bit, but I was finally able to make my way around him and continue on. When all was said and done, I looked at my time and realized I was running 7:20 miles! That's the fastest I've ever run in any race, and to do that off the bike was awesome.

I had no idea what the finish line announcer was saying, but it must have been good because there were lots of people cheering. This is the second race that I have completely zoned out on what the finsh line announcer is saying, apparently at my last race he identified me by name and I still didn't hear him. As it turns out, I was the third woman across the line.

Overall: As I said in my brief post-race check-in, the unofficial results had me listed as third female overall, which was awesome. As it turns out, though, the unofficial results didn't accurately reflect the wave timing, and I was actually 5th, so no cool overall award. But! I won my age group! That was awesome. And Speedy had a great race as well, coming in 2nd in his age group in the Olympic. Overall, it was a great race.

Next up: Brigantine Triathlon, this Saturday.