Sunday, November 9, 2014

Favorite Things

It's been a while since I've done a Favorite Things post. And I've got some new favs to share!


Finis Instinct Sculling Paddles - I filled out a survey from Finis earlier this year and for doing so was sent these paddles. I had them for a while before I tried them out and when I did felt like and idiot for having waited so long. These are small hand paddles that cover only a small part of your palm and your fingers. There is a hole for you thumb and you should resist trying to "hang on to them", don't wrap your fingers around them trying to keep them on. They are held on by the pressure of the water. They will point out where you lose tension on the water immediately. Drop your elbow, they will flip right off your hand. They will help you get into an Early Vertical Forearm position. I love that you can use them for all strokes too. What I found is that I have my best grip on the water in breaststroke.

*A side note about regular hand paddles in general - I use them occasionally. And I've removed the wrist strap entirely, I've done this for years. In some ways it mimics the Instinct Paddles by not being able to rely on a strap to keep them on your hands. 

Nike Remora Fem Goggles - I read about these goggles in one of the swim magazines I get and went looking for them immediately. They're designed with "Soft Seal" technology, the gasket around your eyes is made of soft foam. The foam is hypoallergenic and non-toxic. It is much softer than the silicone gasket which you'll find on most goggles. I love these goggles!! I still get the goggle lines around my eyes but it's not as bad and goes away quicker than with my Vanquishers.

What I don't like about them is the strap, to me it looks cheap and who uses white straps on any goggles, and it's really stretchy? I changed mine out to a goggle bungee and that's way better.

Dolfin Chloroban® Swimsuit - I recently got one of these and so far I love it. Team Cambridge Triathlon Racing sent me one in solid red with white stripes that I had used some but I really prefer a print unless my suit is black or navy. So I found this one online and on sale so I grabbed it! I found mine on Sierra Trading Post for a great price!

I was using the Dolphin Uglies suits which I still really like but this fabric holds up a lot longer. The Uglies are really fun prints but they stretch out pretty quick, the prices on them are great and so I still get them. You can usually find them on sale when the new prints are coming out.


ICEdot Crash Sensor - This tiny yellow sensor attaches to your helmet and you pair it with your phone. It detects when there is an impact and triggers the app on your phone. A countdown timer starts and if it's not deactivated then the App notifies emergency contacts and even gives them a GPS location. I have one on my helmet, I hope I'm never in a situation where I will need it but it's good to know that I won't be laying in a ditch somewhere passed out and no one knows where I am. It hasn't been around long but take a look at the Reviews that it's getting!!

And speaking of that, something that I always do with the people that I ride with consistently. We exchange our spouses phone numbers and save them in our phones. Another situation that I hope never to be in, but what if you're riding with your friends and someone crashes bad enough that they can't continue or is unconscious. How are you going to get their "in case of emergency" person's number if their phone is locked? I don't know about you but I'd like it if I was in that situation for them to call Bill. Just a thought.

eFuel - I've used eGels by Crank Sports for ever, but until this year I'd never tried the eFuel. AWESOME!! This hydration product has it all. It has "double the complex carbohydrates, half the sugars and NO artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors." I could ramble on and on about it but instead I will say go to the link and read about it. My personal favorite flavor is the Tropical Punch. I like that it's not sickeningly sweet and it works.

I've used Cytomax and Heed in the past - stopped using Heed when I realized that the second ingredient in it is Xylitol, I've read too many bad things about it. Would never use any thing else anymore. And while you're on the Crank Sports page you should take a look at the eGels too.

Planet Bike Superflash - This was in my original favorite things post but I'm going to include it again just because it is so important to me to use a flashy light on your bike when you ride. And now with the winter coming on, it's even more important. Foggy rides or low light overcast days make it even harder for the cars to see us on the road. This light used to be touted as the brightest light on the planet, I don't see that anymore on the page but I've compared it to the ones that my friends use when they ride and it is much brighter. Visibility up to a mile. It's like defensive cycling. Be Safe Be Seen! Get a light!


Hoka One One Running Shoes - These shoes have saved my knees, period! Honestly I don't know what I would do if I didn't have my Hokas! They were designed by ultra runners and they have amazing amounts of cushioning. Some people refer to them as clown shoes because they have a built up sole. If you have any issues with knee pain and run in a neutral shoe you should go and check them out. I have two pair that I alternate and love both of them. Right now I have the Bondi and the Stinson (now replaced with the Stinson Lite). I think I'm going to get a pair of their racing shoes next. The Huaka!!
I don't have to kinesio tape my knees anymore with these shoes! Life is good!

That's pretty much it for new things, I hope you enjoy reading about them!

P.S. One of my readers and ICEdot Teammate was in a bad accident a few days ago, he was hit by a car while running. This is what he posted on his page:

"I should not be here, the guy was cutting corner through a restaurant parking lot to avoid the lighted intersection , he hit me dead center of his tundra . I had enough time to put arm up and jump while running . I flew up ten feet and spun into the bushes. I have several broken parts including my arm."

Please keep him in your thoughts as he heals! Get well soon!! Be careful out there everyone!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Running Season!!

Cool weather = awesome running!

The temperatures up north are already cold and sometimes miserable but here in the South we are just getting into the best time of the year to run! I have friends that live up North and say that they love to run in the heat. But do it for days and days on end in the summer here and you feel like you're melting. And don't get me started on the combined heat and humidity.

I did my first 5K of the season a couple weeks ago - The Great Pumpkin Run!! This race is put on by the Feist-Weiller Cancer Center and raises money for cancer research, a great cause! My second year to run this race. They do a really cool long sleeve t-shirt. This year it looked like this:

This year I placed 2nd Overall Female! Was really 4th if you count the two 13 year old girls who beat me, they have their own "Kids" catagory. One of the girls was a swimmer with COSST Varsity! I love it when I see our swimmers at the races. There were several other swimmers that I saw that morning too!

Jenna from COSST - 2nd Overall Kid's Division! She ran
a 21:22 - 6:54 pace!

I had a good race, tried to go out easier and negative split the run but failed, got too caught up at the beginning. It's hard when you see other women blasting off the line. Two came by right away, I caught both of them. Mile splits were 7:11, 7:19, 7:19. For a 22:20 and a 7:13 average. Last year it was cooler temperature, I went 22:32 for a 7:16 average. 

Nice shirts, nice age group award medals, and I won this for being "Runner Up". Yay!  

Haven't picked my next race - need to look at the calendar. Going back to work at the Sportspectrum next week! Time to sell some running shoes!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hub City Hustle Triathlon Resurrected!

I've been negligent about posting about my last triathlon of the season, The Hub City Hustle. This race was my friend, Denise Joplin's first foray into race directing, and she did a really nice job. It was held on the same course as the old Mighty Magnolia Tri. The guy who used to put that race on decided not to do it anymore so Denise stepped up and took over the challenge. Long ago there was a race in Hattiesburg called the Hub City Hustle, I always wanted to go back and race it. It was held in the Canebrake Subdivision but once the neighborhood got developed and had too many homes it was moved.

I was in redemption race mode because of my fiasco at Meat Pie and wanted to do well. I drove down the day before, went by Belk to see the team there. Bill used to manage that store and I spent a lot of time with the staff there working on merchandising and helping out when Bill needed me. It was so great to see them all! 

Race Shirt!!
Then I drove out to the race site to pick up my packet, we were going to get our chips and swim caps in the morning.... There was going to be a *little surprise with the caps, I'll get to that later.  Passed out some race packets and then put the numbers on the bike racks. Got a volunteer t-shirt for helping!  Cool green shirt with the race logo.

Stopped by Corner Market grocery and grabbed some sushi (and saw that they carry Eternal Water - why can't we get it in Shreveport?) and went to the hotel to relax. I stayed at a Microtel by Windham... it didn't occur to me until I unlocked the door about the name of the hotel... Micro. The room was tiny, it felt like a European hotel, but it was perfect size for me! 

Race Morning:  
Drove out to the race, plenty of time in advance, as usual. Race announced that it was going to be wetsuit legal. Hmmm... should I or shouldn't I? I went ahead and opted to wear it since there was money on the line for the first 3 males and females. Rode the run course with Brinn and could tell that my legs were a little flat from the long drive down the day before. Whenever you have a long drive to a race it's a good idea to get in a spin on the bike or an easy jog after you arrive. I did neither, and I forgot to wear my compression socks for the drive. After the ride Brinn, Elizabeth, and I did an easy run out toward the finish of the run. Measured out a half mile and gave the girls some landmarks. Did a few pick ups on the way in and then finished getting ready for the race. 

Warmed up with Brinn as we swam across the lake to the start. The race has a point to point swim in a crescent shape along the shoreline. We did a few sprints on the swim on the way over. I typically do 20 strokes hard (about the distance of 25 yards). In masters swim, Kyle has us do 75's a day or two out from a race. He times each 25 and they go like this - first 25 like you would go at the start of the race, and then a 50 at race pace (settle in). So we did a few of these instead.

Denise offered an amateur/elite swim wave at the race so we could choose to go head to head with our competition instead of the time trial start that is typical at this race and how the rest of the age groupers would start. I decided to go ahead and go off in this wave. I kept my mind calm and didn't have any wetsuit issues. The best thing for me is to just not think about it. What I usually do is get it in my head that I'm going to have a panic and then it consumes my thoughts and gets me freaked. Sometimes singing a song in my head will help. Just before the start I said something out loud about needing a song and one guy said "Or you can always fall back on Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming." Used that one and it worked. Came out of the water just behind Brinn, I saw her hitting the beach. Stephanie was way up there ahead of both of us. 4th fastest female swim. 8:15.

*I forgot completely to talk about the swim caps!! So, from what I understand the logo caps that were ordered for the race arrived, but in kid's size!! So thinking last minute instead of just ordering a bunch of plain swim caps Denise thought outside the box and ordered a bunch of "Grab Bag Caps"! These would be the extra caps printed for a custom order by other teams or companies. We got to grab what cap we wanted and they were all different! I grabbed this one, because I love to swim butterfly!! I think it is a great idea and apparently I wasn't the only one. The Grab Bag Caps were a big hit! Love this idea! Good work, Denise!!

No issues in transition. Onto the bike where I quickly made up some ground and passed 2 girls who were ahead of me coming out of the swim.  

Our friend, Geneva!!! Miss you!
One of the people that I went to Belk specifically to see was our friend, Geneva! And when I told her that I was racing and showed her the course she said that it went really close by her house. She said that she and her girls would come out and cheer for me on the bike course! I saw them and waved like a happy child!!

I never felt like I really had the bike speed that I had earlier in the year, and I've pretty much come to the conclusion that it is because I hadn't been able to ride with the fast triathletes on Saturday's. I'm telling you, riding with them really helped my speed. 50-70 miles at 21+ will do that. *Note to self - ride long with the fast folks next year. Bike average, 20.6 - better than last year but rather pathetic.

Zipped into transition and had some fumbling putting on my running shoes. I use the Saucony Kinvara for my racing shoes. It's not a true racing flat, but I feel that I still want a little cushion for my knees. The downside of these is that they are kind of flimsy around the tongue and heel so they are hard to get on. Tri running shoes have the same little loop at the back of them like tri cycling shoes and I've had thoughts of sewing a loop of some kind on the back of them to make them easier to pull on. Oh, and putting some glide in the back to keep from rubbing makes them that much harder to grab. I heard Kyle (our Masters Swim Coach and Denise's husband) say, "hurry Ginger". Like I'm not tying to hurry....

Running out of transition I hear Kyle again on the loud speaker. "Stephanie is about 10 minutes ahead." - like I could catch her - hahaha!  If you knew him you'd know that he has a really dry sense of humor, this was his attempt at being funny. And then he said, "First Old Lady", another humorous comment. I thought it was pretty funny. I know that he is just joking and realizes that I may be old but I'm still pretty fast. Oh, and a volunteer said "second female". Now this was some good information! Was hoping for a top 3 finish and this was good news!

I decided to race "old school" which for me meant no watch and was trying the no hat also. Voting for the no hat? Nope, going back to the hat. My sunglasses were moving all over the place, I usually adjust the earpieces to be on the hat and it keeps them in place better. Learned that lesson. As far as the watch, no big deal because when I'm running hard I can't really see the numbers anyway to see my pace. I just ran hard, but it felt slow and mushy. I felt like I was running in slow motion on some of the punchy little hills on the course. I was surprised to see the results that said I averaged 7:33 miles. I didn't mind not wearing a watch, the only thing I missed was being able to look at the data afterwards. I find that I can learn a lot about what went right and wrong by seeing the numbers - especially the run splits. 

Now... since we all went first in a wave and the rest of the competitors went time trial style going every 5 seconds apart there was no way to know how you did until the last person is finished. And that is almost exactly what happened. Brinn and I went out onto the run course to cool down and cheer on the people finishing and we saw a girl that she told me had been her nemesis. She had registered the day before and I believe went off last. 

Cobb Mobb! Brinn and I after the race!

I placed 2nd overall by just 3 SECONDS! It was Brinn's nemesis that placed 3rd. We were really hoping to both be in the top 3. A little disappointing. And if you chose to race in the elite/amateur wave you weren't eligible for age group awards. (See my posting on Rose City where I discuss this policy.) 

Awards and Friends:
I got to see so many great people from Hattiesburg! Lots of friends turn out for this race. But there were a bunch missing too that I was looking forward to seeing. :(  Geneva showed up at the finish area with her girls, Alison and Stephi, so I got to see them all again!! 

Geneva's girls!!

Really cool awards that were custom made for the race, lucite and wood looking like a crank set! And a nice race logo etched pint glass... AND a check for $200 for coming in 2nd Overall Female. It almost paid for my travel (hotel and petrol)! 

Top 3 Females!

All in all a great trip! Getting to support my friend Denise at her venture into race directing - a good thing! Seeing old friends - bonus! 



My girls at Clinique and Connie!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

RACE FIASCO at the Meat Pie Tri


Race Fiasco. Feeling stupid.

I was psyched to race the Meat Pie Tri in Natchitoches , Louisiana but had a major race fail.

Went the wrong way on the bike, crossed over the Red River, hit one of the bridge expansion joints really, really hard. Remember thinking... "uh oh, that was really hard, I bet I get a flat". I also remember thinking "Wow, I can't believer they didn't tell us about that part of the bike course". Rode a little further, had a flat. Crap.

Up until that point I thought that the people in front of me were just far ahead and the folks behind hadn't caught up yet. Thinking I would tell someone on their way back in to send out sag, but then realized I had missed a turn and was off course. What an idiot.

I've NEVER gone the wrong way in a race. 30 years now, not one single time. I saw a couple volunteers at the corner where I was supposed to turn, but both of them had their heads down looking in their bags by their chairs and I guess they didn't see me. No one screamed out, "your going the wrong way".

Made it almost 5 miles out onto the bike course. Started walking back and thinking, this is going to take me two hours. Finally flagged down a truck and a nice guy gave me a ride. He said he was a cyclist too. One of the other trucks I tried to flag down just waved at me.

I used to always carry a can of "fix-a-flat" in races, but a couple years ago threw it to a friend on the bike course in a race and never replaced it. Guess what came in the mail the other day.... you got it.

When I got home and changed the flat, this fast air probably wouldn't have done the trick for this flat though. There were 4 punctures from the rim, top and bottom of the tube.

One more chance to redeem myself this year at the Hub City Hustle (formerly Mighty Magnolia Tri) in Hattiesburg, MS on the 18th. Physically my body is telling me it's ready for the off season. Pretty much everyone I train with is finished for the season. Hope to have a good race in a couple weeks and then dial it down and rest a little and recharge the batteries!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rose City Triathlon Race Report

Over two weeks late on this race report for the Rose City Triathlon in Tyler, TX. I did this race last year and finished 7th - it was some USAT Championship race, I can't remember which one - there seem to be so many different categories.  Club Championships, South Mid-West Regional Championships, State Championships - blah, blah, blah....  The difference is that when it's a championship race people who are interested in scoring points show up.

I did a race earlier this year and the Olympic distance was a championship (I did the sprint). I talked with a girl after the race asking if she was doing the WikiWiki Olympic distance and she said no, she hated that distance (but she had just raced it). At WikiWiki the Sprint was some type of championship - she did that one. Chasing those points for rankings.  I did the Olympic at that one because it is what fit in with my training schedule. Question: What do you do? Chase the rankings points or race to your schedule?

So... back to Rose City. This year I finished 4th overall - less fast people showed up - non championship race. Of course the ones that did show were super fast! Of the three girls who beat me, 2 are training partners of mine here in Shreveport. The other one is a girl who got dinged for drafting at River Cities. All of them are in their 20's. Made me feel pretty good. They could be my kids!

New venue for this year's race - on the other side of the lake. Much better. Picked up my race packet that morning. Wrong size shirt. Was able to leave it there and have them send me something that would fit.

I warmed up on the run and turned on my Garmin to measure where 1/2 mile out would be. Put a stick on the side of the road to mark it. Did a warm up swim and then proceeded to wait around for the last swim wave. Denise and Rachel both registered as Elite and went off in the first wave. I probably should have done this too, but they were giving prize money for Masters, and Grand Masters, as well as 1-3 Overall. I didn't know if I raced in the elite wave as to whether or not it would kick me out of the Masters/ GM category or not and didn't feel like messing with contacting the RD ahead of time to find out, so I just sucked it up and went last.

This is something that Denise and I had a conversation about, and I've talked to several others about it as well. Are Masters and Grand Masters considered part of the "overall" awards? For instance, at River Cities, I decided to race in the elite wave so I wouldn't have to go last and have as much congestion on the swim and bike course. By changing to this wave from the "age group" waves I thought it would pull me out of the Masters/GM awards. Typically if you race in the elite wave you are ineligible for an age group award, however a fast age grouper who starts later can take one of the top spots if their time is faster than an elite. Makes sense to me. But I was surprised when the race director called me and told me he has my Masters award. So, from what I have gathered so far you can race either in the Elite wave or in the Age Group waves and still qualify for the overall M/GM awards. What have your experiences been at races with this?

Crowded and choppy swim, had to go around a lot of people and on the long leg of the swim there was a lot of chop due to the strong wind. Onto the bike with no issues - didn't get to preview this new course - it was twisty and turny with short punchy hills. Not a fast course unless you got to ride it often and know where to expect the turns and climbs. Off the bike and onto the run. Used my new found running style and chanted "easy, light, smooth, fast" - it worked again. Felt amazing on the run and averaged 7:27 miles - sweet! Not a great bike split with a 20.8 average.

Didn't see my stick, may have gotten knocked off the road by the time I got there, but I saw the two black bike shop signs that were just past it and knew when to drive home. Denise came out onto the course to cheer me in. She yelled "strong arms", reminding me to drive the arms as I picked up the pace.

Me, Denise, Rachel, and Brian - Go Shreveport!!!

Won the Masters Catagory and a check for $100! Denise placed 2nd overall! Cobb Mobb teammate Rachel Olson won the event.  One of the guys who swims Masters with us won the Grand Masters Catagory. Shreveport did well!

Okay, now for the wierd and funny part of the race. As Denise and I were putting the bikes on the car a girl in an orange Boston Marathon jacket came walking by and called out "As soon as I get the swim down I'm coming to get you!" Denise said I responded with "okay?" I don't remember answering because it really caught me off guard. So I started thinking about who in the world it might be, and went looking at the race photos online and found her. When I saw her photo I recognized her also from the River Cities Tri. After that race I'd walked over to the East Texas Triathletes tent to say hello to the Cobb Mobb manager. A girl that I didn't know said that she and I had similar bike and run times, but I got her on the swim. It was the same girl that called out to me at Rose City. Hmmm...... guess I'd better watch out!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Abundance Theory

Dr. Stephen R. Covey

Think Win-Win isn't about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It is a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration. 

Most of us learn to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failing--that is, if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Life becomes a zero-sum game. There is only so much pie to go around, and if you get a big piece, there is less for me; it's not fair, and I'm going to make sure you don't get anymore. We all play the game, but how much fun is it really? 

Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. We both get to eat the pie, and it tastes pretty darn good! 

A person or organization that approaches conflicts with a win-win attitude possesses three vital character traits:

Integrity: sticking with your true feelings, values, and commitments
Maturity: expressing your ideas and feelings with courage and consideration for the ideas and feelings of others
Abundance Mentality: believing there is plenty for everyone

Many people think in terms of either/or: either you're nice or you're tough. Win-win requires that you be both. It is a balancing act between courage and consideration. To go for win-win, you not only have to be empathetic, but you also have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you also have to be brave. To do that--to achieve that balance between courage and consideration--is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win.

This is the first time I've been somewhat embarrassed to be a triathlete. I've always had a lot of pride for the nature of triathletes..... well in this case most of them. I suppose I have chosen to hang around those that are supportive and positive. I guess there are always going to be those few who have to knock someone down for their accomplishment rather than be happy that someone new has joined the multisport lifestyle.

Last weekend Brett Favre did a triathon. It was a super sprint in Gulf Shores, AL. I saw a thread posted by USA Triathlon on Facebook. The comments that ensued after it were mixed but I was horrified to see so many post really negative things about it. What gives people? Are you so insecure that you can't be happy for Brett instead of posting rude remarks.

I happen to know Brett and Deanna, they are friends of mine, and I know that he did this race with his daughter. He didn't train for it, he didn't "race" it, he wanted to be out there supporting Bre in her first triathlon. Deanna did the triathlon too, but told me she was so worried about both of them that she didn't "race" it. She still came in 3rd Overall! Deanna is a great triathlete and has been racing triathlons for years but chooses to fly under the radar. I'm not surprised after seeing some of the nasty comments about her husband.

I've never written a post like this before. I don't plan on ever writing one again. But I find it incredibly sad that people can be so mean spirited and hateful, and just needed to speak my peace. Lighten up people. There is room for all of us!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

ITU World Triathlon Race Report!

Wow, where to start? The anticipation of going to this race was crazy! So much planning, so much training, so much anxiety! Then it's come and gone in what feels like an instant.

Bill and I left for Canada and the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Edmonton on Thursday - my race wasn't until Monday. In retrospect it might have better to arrive a day or two later and then stay for a few days post race. That way we could have enjoyed Canada without all of my pre-race nervousness. I wasn't nervous about the race, like you are an Ironman where you are thinking did I do enough, am I ready?

I knew I was physically ready; I stayed disciplined and focused in my training and have seen the improvements this season in my bike and run in previous races. My anxiety stemmed from the logistics of this race! No cars allowed at or near the venue. You had to take a shuttle on the LTS (Light Transit System) over to the site. Figuring out when and where to catch the rail.....   AND then where to catch the shuttle....  and what time do we need to get to the rail....   AND how much time do we need to allow ourselves to get over to the venue.....  If you know me at all then you know that I wanted to "practice" on how to get there. We had to go over to the venue several times anyway for different things and so by race morning we were pros with the transit system.

Thursday afternoon we drove over to the mall in Edmonton, it's the largest mall in North America - being retailers of course we had to see it! Thursday afternoon at this place looked like a busy Saturday at the Galleria or North Park Mall in Dallas! It was crazy with people! We wandered around for a bit saw the indoor wave pool, the giant play area for kids, and the seal exhibit (poor seals living in a mall!).

I used Race Day Transport to get my bike to the race. But that meant driving it 3+ hours to Dallas to the participating bike shop. RDT did a great job with my bike and I would use them again in the future. I talked with one of the folks there yesterday about the drive and they told me that if we had 5+ bikes heading out of Shreveport for an event that we could arrange a pickup from a local bike shop!! The advantage was my bike was right next to transition and all I had to do was wheel it out. The only bad part was that once you checked it out of RDT it was yours. And I didn't want to schlep it back and forth on the buses and trains, so I left it with them for a few days. I was worried about it being out in the open but then noticed as we were leaving that they cover all the bikes with giant tarps at night.

 We had to check our bikes in on Sunday and they give you a one hour window per age group for this. (found out later that it is really more of a suggestion). My time slot was from 10:00-11:00 on Sunday. Checked it out around 9:30, and got to ride it back and forth on about a quarter mile of blacktop in the park before I had to take it into transition. Rode for about 30 minutes - did some pick ups to get the legs moving. There was another race going on and so I couldn't take it out on the course. Actually a lot of the race course was closed to cars for most of the daytime hours due to races going on so I didn't get to drive the course and see what it had in store for me. Just looked at the map and talked to a Team Cambridge guy who had raced the sprint. He gave me some heads up on the hills. At the pre-race meeting we were told that if you were from Colorado they were hills, but if you were from Florida they were mountains. I would say for me - Mountains.

Bill took this because I was next to the Japanese!  
Bike Check In - had to show your helmet, race number, uniform. They made me tighten the chin strap on my helmet. okay. Rack Q. During the pre-race meeting we were told that the transition area wasn't fair. No kidding it wasn't fair. My rack (since my swim wave was last) was the farthest away from the swim entrance, and the bike and run out. End of the line. So all of us old ladies got to run the entire length of the transition area 4 times more that the people on Rack A. Think it doesn't sound like much? A third of a mile in each transition. My Garmin showed T1 was .37 of a mile and T2 was .34 in transition distance, it took me 3:15, and 3:11 respectively . And why is this important? Only when it comes to me figuring out what kind of race I had (*I'll get to this later).

Walking the transition area with my new friend!

While I was racking my bike I chatted with a couple of the women in my age group nearby and found one who wanted to walk the in's and out's of the transition area with me. Kathy was from Canada and lived about 20K from the race. How nice is that? We covered every in and out and I felt so much more at ease afterwards.

Showing Kathy that the tents were across from our bikes.
No transition towels allowed so I checked around for a marker or something to help me find my bike instead of my pink Hello Kitty towel. Fortunately the red tents we had to pass under to get into transition were directly across from my bike, perfect land mark! Notice how we are on the absolute last row of bikes? The empty ones to the right stayed that way. The laminated numbers hanging by zipties on the racks were all wet and floppy, so I used a couple pieces of electrical tape to hold my number flat. Put a little piece on the bottom corner of the number too so I'd have something else to look for in transition.

Okay, done with all that pre-race stuff so now I could relax and get mentally set for the race. Oh, we did go to the pre-race meeting. It was okay - some good information covered. They allowed questions at the end of the meeting and geez..... some people ask some really strange questions. Mostly on things that were already covered and they must have been snoozing during that part of the talk. Or saying things that weren't questions but more like complaints. Nothing that the Team Managers could do anything about- really strange things. "The ankle strap is too thick." o-k-a-y..... We were told that if you wanted to wear something over the uniform it either had to be the team jacket or a clear jacket and that you would have to wear it during the run too. One lady complained that the only jackets left for sale for the team at the host hotel were too big. I loved when she was told that it had been for sale for months on the website. She said it again, and was responded to with exactly the same comment. Haha - loved that part!

Okay.. so race morning!

Transition area open from 6:00-7:15am. My swim wave: 9:43am. Air temperature 41 degrees. Hanging around outside for almost 4 hours. Only brought one pair of running shoes, my racing flats. Mistake.... no shoes to run and warm up in- running in UGG boots.... not really practical. Found refuge in the Boathouse building! Warm. Thank goodness! But way too much chatter from all the other nervous triathletes. Have you ever noticed that when talking with other triathletes that most sentences start with " I "? A friend of mine and I were talking today and she had a great point... if you want to tell your triathlon stories over and over again.... WRITE A BLOG! Hahaha... love that!!! p.s. She writes a blog too.

We had to assemble 30 minutes before our wave went off and be "escorted" to the swim corral by a guy playing the bagpipes wearing a swim cap and goggles. Classy. We get over to the corral and I realize that I forgot to take my gel, but right before my wave goes off I see Bill on the other side of the fence about 7 feet away. Was able to ask him to get the gel out of my bag that he's carrying and he flings it to me, and I actually caught it!! People around him applauded!

We line up with one foot against the blue "blocks" and wait for the starter. During the pre-race swim a couple days before a girl and I practiced our starts, figuring out how many steps before we should dive into the water. I was also told that the time between when they said "take your mark" and the gun was really short, so I was ready. Bill caught this picture of my wave start!

See the girl closest to the camera in the streamline? That would be me!
About 100 yards into the swim, I start thinking. And then I start to get the wetsuit panic. It's not good. I reach around and unzip my wetsuit to let some cool water in and it feels better, then reach back around and try to zip it back up and I can't get it. Now I'm really upset. I came all this way and I'm thinking that I'm going to have to get out of this thing and swim in the 62 degree water without my wetsuit. I managed to swim over to the first paddle board and get him to zip me back up and swim on slowly. I even freaked out a little again and looked back to see how far I was away from the paddle board because I considered going back to it. But it was already 20 yards away, so I put my face in the water and forced myself to swim slowly and calm down. After another 200-300 yards I was able to get a grip on things and pick up my pace a little. After that I was fine and tried to swim hard for the 2nd lap of the 1500 meters.

Me, freaking out!
As I came out of the water and was running to the transition area I saw Bill and he told me I was 7th out - now that really surprised me because I know with all the freak out I lost a bunch of time out there. (It turns out I was 8th out of the water in my age group, one girl had yanked off her cap before Bill could count her.)

2 loop course around this little island.
LONG transition... over a third of a mile. I took the time to put on some gloves (didn't want the Tri-Tyler race experience again with frostbite hands), and headed out onto the bike course. Two loops on a tough course. Couldn't get my gel off my bike, I'd taped it on too well, so I passed on that. Glad I brought the
e-Fuel for the bike bottle so I really didn't need the gel. I passed a lot of people, got passed by people, and came to realize that if you live in a country where you drive on the left hand side of the road you don't know where to ride if you are racing in a country where they drive on the right hand side of the road. Where we live we call it "blocking". I can't tell you how many people from Great Britain and Australia that I had to pass on the right. Either that or it is the triathlete entitlement attitude where it is Worlds and I can ride wherever I darned well please. At any rate, I let that go and had a great ride! It was tough - there was a hill just out of transition and on the second loop I looked down and was going 7 mile per hour. Other hills I ran out of gears on the decent, but managed to average 21.1 mph!

Back in to the long transition and out onto the run. It was a two loop run with almost 2 miles of each loop on trail. Hard pack dirt trail through some really nice woods. I took my e-Gel right away since I hadn't been able to take one on the bike, initially was planning on taking it halfway through the run.  On the plane ride to Canada I finished reading "Born To Run", and while I don't advocate the whole barefoot running thing I did take away 4 little words that helped me on the trail. "Light, Easy, Smooth, Fast".  And it worked. I had the best 10K run that I've ever had in an Olympic distance triathlon. I passed so many girls and just felt awesome. On the last loop in the last 1/2 mile or so of the run I went by some spectators and one of them shouted out "NICE RUNNING, SPANSEL!!!" Finished with a 7:48 average!! (prior best? 8:00 per mile).

This is what hurt looks like.
Sub 2:30 with a wetsuit freak out, hilly bike, and almost 2/3 run on trail, and extremely long transitions.  I'll take that! (*taking out 4 minutes from the transition runs would gave given me a 2:25:30 - that's a PR too!)

I'm a firm believer in looking to what was good and what went right in your races as opposed to what was bad and what went wrong. I know that I went into this race more prepared than I have ever been for a short course race. I'm so very pleased with my race and have zero complaints! Here is what I looked like coming across the finish line. Do you think I was happy?

I found Bill and we went to the Beer Garden! Someone told me we could see results online and I pulled up this! I don't know if you can see it, but it said I was 5th in my age group! I have to admit I got teary eyed when I saw it. You see with our wave going off last in the swim, I was honestly worried about finishing last in the entire race. Was hoping to finish somewhere around mid pack with my age group. Secretly wished for a top 10 finish but really didn't think it was possible. I got to enjoy what seemed to be a 5th place for a day, and then online results showed that I was 8th in my age group. A little let down after the exhilaration of thinking I was 5th but still a top 10 finish and 5th American!!

What a fantastic experience!  Loved it, even with all the drama of my nervousness. Here are some photos that we took during our stay in Edmonton!

My handsome husband!

In the winter this lake is an ice skating rink!
Awesome little English Pub where we ate more than one meal!

Really pretty trees in Canada!

A big thank you to my sponsors!  Team Cambridge and my friend and Team Manager, Scott Eder.
Scott Eder Sports.  Sportspectrum and Matt Brown! Cobb Cycling, John Cobb, and the Cobb Mobb! Eternal Water, and ICEdot! You guys, rock!!