Saturday, May 26, 2012

Peasantman Sprint Triathlon 2012, Race Recap Part Two or The Day The Earth Stood Still

(New? Read part one here.)

As I was saying, I had forgotten, truly forgotten, how much forethought, goes into triathlon. Let's take a trip on the wayback machine, waaaayback to my first trip to Lake Anna in June 2008 for a simple swim/bike practice with D.C. Tri Club. In 2008, the lovely NOD (that would be Number One Daughter, as some of you already know) put this checklist inside the front door to make sure I didn't forget anything:

say, like, Chocolate Chip cookies! (Like I said, just the essentials!)

In my last post, I exposed my fears, worries and fallback position of "I don't even know where my wetsuit is!"

But as the days ticked by, one thing led to another.

My friend and mentor Becky egged me on.

And then I swam 700 m straight in the pool.

And then I found the wetsuit.

And some ShotBloks.

And some throwaway flip-flops.

And the next thing I knew, just like Mitt Romney, I was shaking up the etch-a-sketch, erasing the past two years of triathlon boycott, and on my way to Lake Anna!

Thankfully, there were four swim waves, in this order:

1st: Olympic confident swimmers
2nd: Olympic less confident swimmers
3rd: Sprint confident swimmers
4th: Sprint less confident swimmers

(Can I just say that I LOVE the pc-ness of these swim labels?!?! This is what makes America great--everyone's a winner!)

(Also, for those new to triathlon, Olympic distance is 1,500 swim, 22 mile bike, 10k run. Sprint is half of those.)

What a relief. Clearly organized by someone who understands me!

Into the lake I went. For the first 200 meters I pretty much let the wetsuit swim for me. It's buoyant! Then i tried to focus on not having a heart attack. Then i tried to focus on different elements of my stroke. Finally I resorted to counting. In the world of sprint triathlons, I took forever. People have finished Ironman swims in less time. But I had plenty of company, and people were even laughing and having fun. While swimming.

I know.


750 M: 25 min

As usual, I made my graceful exit:

Am I wearing a tutu? Is that why I am holding my arms out? Am I radioactive?

I emerged dizzy, disoriented, with a headache but oh-so-pleased with myself. I did it! The rest was gravy.

I think I took about 8 minutes in T1 (transition 1). But I was so happy, I couldn't have cared less what my time was. Breakthru thinking people!

The bike out started on an uphill. Which is kind of a challenge, if you're me. So I dropped my chain and the nice bikeout volunteer helped me put it back on. Which is a big no-no in an "official" tri, but no problem in this one!

The bike route was just pure fun. Because there were so many people doing the Olympic and they had started at different times, I was never alone. I wish more race directors would take a clue from Peasantman! It wasn't too hot, the sky was clearing, there were few cars, and we were in a state park. What's not to like?!

11 miles: 1:05

My extensive bike training clearly shows. But I was just so happy!

And then came the 5k run. I have only recently re-ignited my illustrious running career (hello, see name of blog you are reading) by using the Couch to 5k program on my iPhone, which I highly recommend. It's a very gradual intro to running. So with no time goals in mind, I was delighted to do a walk/run ratio of 3 min walk/ 8 min run. And that's what I did. For 4.3 miles.


Wasn't this supposed to be 3.1??

Around the 2 mile point, one of the volunteers cheerily informed us that the course was long--actually 4.3 miles instead of 3.1. Thank God I wasn't trying to beat any records, or I would have shriveled up and died. But people seemed to take it in stride. We just kept on putting one foot in front of the other.

This is why I love triathlon. It really teaches you that if you're going to survive, you have to learn to make the best of whatever comes your way. LESSONS, people, LESSONS!

The other reason I love triathlon? Even though I am OLD and SLOW, just about every single person who passed me said, "Good job!" or some encouraging thing.

Triathletes! They really are special.

4.3 mile run: 50:40 minutes.

And anyway, how could anyone get upset with signs like this?!

With a huff and puff, I skipped the last few walk breaks and ran it in.

Utterly and completely delighted with myself!

And at the finish line? Were these:

and these:
Courtesy hometown heroes Georgetown Cupcake

Stacks and stacks of them! I have never seen so many cupcakes in my life!

I felt sick to my stomach and my head hurt. And? I have never felt so good in my life!

I had only one thought, as I passed on the mounds of cupcakes that were gently whispering my name, and the piles of food at the barbeque:

Please sir, I want some more.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Peasantman Sprint Triathlon 2012 Race Recap, Part One


Hmm, what's the best way to explain Peasantman? Perhaps I'll just quote a bit from the Athlete's guide to give you a flavor (and I encourage you to go read the rest of it if you need a good laugh):

Hello Peasant Class Citizens,
The greatest day of your lives is here. For many of you, this will be your first swim, bike, and run combo event of any kind. A few of you may not be able to sleep the night before. Others will likely pee a lot inside their wetsuits prior to the swim.

All I have to say is, please bring a cup or wear your favorite chastity belt underneath your wetsuit. Assuming the later isn’t from the Ballston/Claredon/Court House corridor, where chastity is frowned upon.
(n.b.: This is a sophisticated D.C. humorous geographical reference.)

For some, this event will bring validation of all their training and hard work. For others, it will be a rude awakening of work that lies ahead. It may scare many to see what a real open water swim entails.

Getting molested during an open water swim is not as fun as the liberal media may portray it to be. If things do not go as you expect, I give you the below quote.
"Courage doesn't always roar, sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying "I will try again tomorrow."

To the new triathletes among us, you guys are doing something that few even have the courage to attempt. I applaud you for that. I’d applaud you louder if you resist the temptation to pee in the lake. If you don’t, it won’t matter – the discharge from the nuclear power plant at Lake Anna will zap anything you discharge.
(n.b.: More local humor.)

One of my favorite quotes is “life is not measured by the number of breath that we take but by the moments and places that take our breaths away.” Success or failure, this will be one of those moments for you. Embrace it! Live it! ... for there is only one first time.

The best way I can explain Peasantman is to say it's a training triathlon with both Sprint and Olympic distance options, takes place at Lake Anna (Virginia); the sprint is a 750 meter swim in Lake Anna, followed by 11 mile bike ride, followed by a 5k run. Exactly like a real tri except for all the rules. So, for instance, if you find yourself unable to finish the swim, it is perfectly acceptable to get out early and continue on the bike. Or skip the bike, and just run. Or skip everything and just eat.

My kind of race!

It is the brainchild of D.C. Tri-(er? ist? man?) Tuan Nguyen (aka the "Vertical Swimmer") several time Ironman, who (you might be surprised to learn) is of Vietnamese extraction. He is harder to explain, except to say that he is a mix of juvenile toilet humor (see above) and breathtaking inspiration (see above).

In a word, the perfect man!

Tuan's epic-length weekly email updates about this event are ... well, epic. And hilarious. And really? The main reason I registered, after being absent from triathlon/running/sportsofanykind since oh approximately exactly Jan. 30, 2010 is so I could stay on the mailing list.

So, on a fateful March 8, 2012, apparently while in some sort of fugue state, I hit the register button. For a May 6 triathlon. Which would give me about 8 weeks to go from zero to sprint tri. Continuing to uphold the Notborntorun motto:

Undertrained and overanxious!

Sometime in late March (why rush?) I realized I should probably start training.

My secret plan was to sort of half-assedly train, because I never for one moment thought I might, you know, actually compete.

But a funny thing happened. I found that I had actually missed training. A LOT. I started looking forward to it. I figured out a way to run (ok, run/walk) on the awesome rail-to-trail near my office. And I made it a point to get in the pool at least twice a week.

Oh wait. Isn't there's some third thing in triathlon that I'm forgetting...?? Ah yes. The bike. Yeah, I figured I would just wing the bike. I mean, how hard could it possibly be to ride a bike for 11 miles????!!

Thus began my spring 2012 triathlon training!


My friend and mentor Ironwoman Becky was a constant source of encouragement. And about 2 weeks out, I started toying with the idea of actually showing up for this race, if for no other reason than to make her happy! (I should also add that Becky was volunteer coordinator for this event, which benefited the High Cloud Foundation).

So two weeks out, knowing she probably had nothing better to do, I emailed Becky and we had the following exchange (I am soooo not making this up):

Me: Ok, can you give me a (relatively) SANE swim workout for tonight? Forget about 30' or 60'... time goals just totally freak me out. I think the longest continual swim i've done this spring is 400m (and that includes wall clutching!). i have a total mental block about swimming 700 straight thru. i'm completely convinced i cannot do it!

Becky: You've got a week and a half. How many swims will you do between now and then, honestly? I'll come up with a progression with that in mind.

Me: Four swims, realistically. counting tonight!



Becky: Sigh.

Becky: Try this:

1) 4x200 (30").
2) 3x300(30"),
3) 2x400(60").
4) 600(60"), 200.

Me: Is that ALL for one night??


Becky: no, each is a different day's workout.

Becky: 4x200 (30") translation: after your warm up, do 4 sets of 200m swimming. Between each set of 200 rest for 30 seconds.


Me: i thought you were saying to do it IN 30" !!!!

Me: OK, now I like you again.:)


And the next thing I knew, it was May 6, 2012, race day.

To be continued...

(Sorry I know this is lame, but I have so much to share! I promise I won't leave you hanging for long. If it helps, SPOILER ALERT: I FINISHED!)

Monday, April 02, 2012

Back to the Future

Since we last spoke, I did something like this:

Thursday, walk/run 2 miles (45 second run /1 minute walk)

Saturday, walk/run 2.5 miles (45 second run / 1 minute walk)

Sunday, Cherry Blossom 10 Miler!!! Yay!!!

Monday, swim 600 meters

Race recap:

Settle down. I was only spectating while NOD's (for the uninitiated, that's Number One Daughter's) boyfriend ran under someone else's number. Out of 20,000 runners he came in 3200, bringing it home in 1:20.

Going to this race a spectator brought it all back for me. I was kind of bummed out just to be watching. I vividly remembered my two tries at this race—and it made me nostalgic!

Although, it was once again was confirmed for me that spectating is not for the weak.

Number One Boyfriend and I got up at 6 a.m. Sunday morning and rode bikes down to the Washington Monument where the race started. (That felt oddly familiar. And wrong! So very very wrong!) It was cold -- 44F. But thinking hey, it's April, we counted on things warming up, so dressed lightly. That was wrong! So very very wrong!

Cuz it turns out that when you ride a bike downhill? It makes everything colder!

Who knew??

Number One Daughter, and moi --both cold. Very very cold!

The joggler—still joggling!

I never thought I'd utter these words, but it's true: I miss running!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

News Flash ... Hot Flash?

Swimming! I remember swimming!! It's that activity where you feel like your limbs are encased in a sea of marshmallow fluff while crawling through molasses which has been poured over the cement blocks covering your hands and feet.

Yes, swimming!

Tuesday, 3/27/12: 200 kick, 100 pull

Don't knock it, it's a start!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

News Flash

Sunday, 3/18: 20 mile bike ride

Tuesday, 3/20: 2 mile run/walk

Thursday, 3/22: 2 mile run/walk

Saturday, 3/24: 16 mile bike ride

Sunday, 3/25: 2 mile run/walk


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Collapsible Helmet?

As I wonder around our fair city, on my heavy duty tough guy 400 lb Bikeshare bike, I usually stick to the sidewalks.

Technically? This is not actually illegal in (most parts) of D.C., I learned tonight, after a quick spin around the Interwebs, spurred on by some of you who questioned the legality of such an activity. (And by the way, thanks for the welcome back from all peeps who have NOT forgotten me after all!)

But even though it's not illegal doesn't make it smart. Most of the time.

Here's my rationalization:
a) Most pedestrians are moving faster--way faster--than I am.
2) I'm only going a short distance.
iii) I have no helmet.
Or, more correctly, I have no helmet actually WITH me when I need one.

Take last Saturday, for instance. We strolled about a mile down the hill from our cozy nest to this lovely restaurant for brunch in Cleveland Park. I had some shopping to do afterwards down in Dupont Circle, about 3 miles or a few Metro stops away. But it was such a gorgeous day, I couldn't bring myself to head into the bowels of the earth to ride the Metro. So I hopped on a handy Bikeshare, and boddabing, Bob's your uncle.

View Larger Map

OK, so technically? I do have a helmet, but I don't want to have to schlep it everywhere just in case I need it.

So, as I was swimming tonight (swimming, yes!) I started thinking. "What I need," I thought, "is a helmet that I can fit into my backpack. Or my purse. If I carried a purse. Which I don't. I need a smaller, more compact helmet. Like a folding helmet. Or, even better, a collapsible helmet!"

For some reason, this made total sense to me at the time.

Now, however, in the comfort of my bed, several hours later, I'm sensing there just might be a flaw in my thinking.

I just bet you there's a market for this.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I have two new loves that I thought I'd share with you (all three of you), since it suddenly occurred to me that there may be people in the world who don't actually already know about these things.

First up: Capital Bikeshare.

This is quite possibly the most brilliant invention, ever. You pay a yearly (or daily) fee, and in return, get a key, which unlocks a bike that you can take and ride to wherever you like, then return to a Bikeshare location.

I had seen the rack of sturdy red bikes about two blocks from my apartment, but it looked complicated and scary, so I cleverly avoided trying it out for several months. But my commute these days includes about a one mile walk (or bus ride) home most nights, and while I like walking, it is sometimes just too slow if I'm getting out of work late. And I'm far too impatient to stand around and wait for the bus.

So, I gathered up my courage one day, and watched the BikeShare video, learned how it worked, and then gathered up even more courage and tried it.

Voila! (Or Viola?) It's simple!! You can pay on the spot for a day pass ($5.00) by credit card. (I paid the yearly $75 fee. The day AFTER a groupon expired for $37. Sigh.) You get 30 minutes to get to your next location before you incur more fees. So this is not the bike to take if you want to go for a 2-hour ride somewhere (although really, that would only cost another $3, so it wouldn't kill you either). You can use the bike as often as you like in a day, but only the first 30 minutes (each time you take it out) are included in the day rate.

But the yearly fee isn't bad, and it's for a good cause: Making the streets safe for the non-car bound!

You get the cutest little key for your keyring!

The bikes are heavy duty but fun to ride. Three speeds, with a handy basket in the front. I generally ride on the sidewalk because they're not exactly nimble and I do still value my life.

So far, only once have I wanted to use one and found them all gone. It was 7:45 a.m., and I just wanted a quick ride to Metro, but apparently so did everyone else. The other problem can be getting to the other end and finding there are no open docks. But Bikeshare promises that every 15-20 minutes they have someone shuffling the bikes around by truck. I've never seen it but I trust them.

But the best part is, whenever I find myself someplace in the city where I think, I could really use a bike, I turn around and, like magic, there they are!

For instance, my hair place is at 1522 U Street, which is about a 15 minute walk from the Metro or my bus stop. Not bad, but since I'm usually late to begin with, I inevitably end up jumping in a cab. No more!

View How Convenient Is This? in a larger map

If you're city doesn't already have this, I'm really sorry! The town I work in, one stop north of D.C., doesn't have it, which kind of sucks since if it did I could definitely ride all the way to work. So I feel for you. But it's the greatest idea ever, and I have NO idea why everyone does not use this.

Next: SharedBites.

I honestly thought blogging had jumped the shark. (I think jumping the shark has jumped the shark.) Who knew that there were still people out there churning these things out every few days??!

But I happened to stumble across this blog belonging to a D.C. Tri-chicka who I used to swim next to 16 lanes away from at Monday night Catholic University swim practice. (Not to put too fine a point on it, she was in the fast lane. You already know which lane I was in.)

Turns out? She has hidden talents. Not only did she marry the captain of D.C. Tri, she is a wildly brilliant blogger and baker. She has a baking blog (baking blogs are the running blog of the '10s). Someone should create the Baking Blog Family (is that thing still on?? Hi Mark!)

If you like baking, which I do, or you just like reading about baking (check!), you really must check this thing out.

Ms. Katie has a way with words and photos that make you just want to get all barefoot and preggers and in the kitchen.

I made her vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for my boy's gluten-free sister, for Easter (only it turns out that, ha, vegan, does NOT mean gluten-free! Live and learn!), and they were phenomenal. PHENOMENAL! I ate them all and then joined Weight Watchers the next night. No, seriously, I did.)

I can't believe I didn't take any pictures. Trust me, these were fantastic. And so healthy! Like eating a bowl of oatmeal! With sugar, oil, and chocolate chips. Yum.

Need I say more?

Check her out. And tell her I sent you!


Friday, July 30, 2010

Really, I Really Was Not Born to Run. No Kidding.

According to my workout-o-meter, the last time I worked out was March 25. That is all lies and calumny, of course.

Between then and now I have taken a few bike rides, run/walked a few miles, and taken a few P90x classes at work.

But nothing to write home about.

Or write a blog post about.

I can't believe I ran this only in January.

Back then, I looked 13.1 miles in the face and laughed. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Who's laughing now, eh mon amie??

But in a not-so-triummphant return, this week I laced up my running shoes three times.



As in, THRICE.

I am lucky to be finally living in a place where I can walk out my door and turn any which way for a great run. Past the National Cathedral, Cactus Cantina, or up to American University.

If only I could actually run, this would be ideal.

I am back to run/walking. And up to a grand total of: three miles.

In case you were wondering what would happen if you take some time off from running, this is what happens.

You kind of just lose it.

You get to start all over again.

It's fun!

Almost as fun as being a really slow runner!

Which I was kind of getting over.

I shall return, my friends.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Coldest Half-Marathon Ever

Texas Half Marathon, (somewhere in Dallas), January 30, 2010, age 52
2:36:34, 11:57 min./mile (7/15)

It started innocently enough.

"We should go somewhere warm in January, " I said to Number One Daughter back in November '09.

"Yay!," she retorted. "I know, let's run a half-marathon with Runner Susan! Down South! In Texas! Where it's warm!"


So, off we went to meet the inimitable Runner Susan, whom I have known virtually, for, well, I don't know how long I've known her. (I just searched my gmail, and the earliest e-mail from her is April 2006. I think we first started getting to know each other when she wrote for CompleteRunning (a site I used to edit, which is sadly, now dormant).)

Susan is a highly talented writer and Web designer, and just the funniest and funnest friend I had never met.

Anywho, so NOD and I booked a trip and down to Dallas we went, expecting, well, WARM.

As in HEAT.

Cuz last time I looked, TEXAS was a bit further SOUTH than say, Boston. Or Maine. Or even D.C.

We got to Dallas airport at 11 p.m.-ish, and darling Susan was there to pick us up. Right before we got to her car, I whispered to Deirdre, "Oh what if this is awkward??"

Cuz you know...we had NEVER met. It could be the worst, longest, and most expensive blind date in my checkered dating history.

Two seconds after climbing into the Soozemobile, though, it was just like coming home.

Like we'd known each other for ages. Like we were reuniting after not seeing each other since high school (where I would have been her teacher, since she's a few years cough younger than I am).

But anyway, the point is: It was easy.

Susan is delightful. Her family is delightful. Specifically, her CHEF is delightful.

NOD, Chef. They are tight.

We stayed with Susan Friday through Sunday, and somewhere in the middle there, Susan and I ran the Coldest Half-Marathon ever (AKA the Texas Freaking Half-Marathon).

I have seriously never been so cold in my life. And I'm from New England. I've lived in Boston. I know from cold.

The course wound around what I'm sure is a lovely scenic lake at some time of the year.

A lake.

With water in it.

That somehow generated wind.

That blew in my face.


As I ran in a circle.

Which meant?

The wind was changing direction just to mess with me.

Number One Daughter ran into some trouble with her training (as in: forgot to do it), so ran the 5k instead. She brought this guy with her.

And here's how she did:
13/25 in females 20-25, 21:15.

(Well, so say the results anyway, and we know they never lie.)

And then there was moi.

Did I mention I was cold??

The race announcer said afterwards that with the windchill the temperature was -2° Fahrenheit (-18.88° Celsius).

By mile 2 I was in serious face pain, which was good because it took my mind off the cramp in my right calf. I was (as always!) contemplating a DNF.

Susan and I started together but she took off after, oh, 2 minutes, and I didn't see her again until mile 11 when she passed me heading toward the finish, while I headed on a dogleg away from it, yelling, "You're almost there," the universal lie reviled by all racers. Susan, seriously??

Somehow, don't ask me how, I managed to will myself around that freaking lake. I had my iPod and listened to two episodes of This American Life.

The crowd was small and I was quickly at the back, but surprisingly, I was not alone. And I wasn't last!!

I lurched from mile to mile, just willing myself through.

At mile 7, the cramp in my calf started screaming. I stopped and stretched. And then carried on.

Cuz that's how we roll.

We had many other adventures, involving taking 100,000 photos, clothes, shopping, wine, a total makeover, eating, and clothes, but that will have to wait for another day.

Old friends, bookends.

Final time:

7. Texas Half Marathon, January 30, 2010, age 52
2:36:34, 11:57 min./mile (7/15)

6. Fredericksburg Blug Gray Half, Dec. 13, 2009, age 52
02:42:10 12:22 min./mile (19/19)

5. Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half, Dec. 15, 2008, age 51
2:28:43 11:21 min./mile (10/10)

4. National Half, March 29, 2008 age 51
2:31:57 11:36 min./mile (48/53)

3. Fredericksburg Blue Gray Half, Dec. 9, 2007 age 50
2:34:26 11:47/min (8/9)

2. Philadelphia Distance Run, September 16, 2007 age 50
2:38:06 12:04 min./mile (221/303)

1. Parks Half Marathon, September 24, 2006 age 49
2:38:15 12:05 min./mile (55/64)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I'm off to Dallas to visit Runner Susan, go shopping, drink wine, get a Runner-Susan makeover, drink more wine, visit the hot tub, then drive to Austin for a haircut (no, seriously), visit Little Miss Runner Pants, and, oh why not, find love.

Oh yes, and run.

Stay out of trouble while I'm gone.

I hear they like big hair in Texax.