Sunday, December 30, 2012

Over the River and through the Woods...

I am loving your comments on the Swim Bike Mom book giveaway!  Inspirational and hilarious!  Don't you worry, I have a pretty awesome (errr, not so awesome) moment I will share with you when I draw the winner for the book.  If you haven't entered yet, go to the post HERE and add your two cents.  I will be picking the winner on Wednesday.

In other news, this morning I hit the trails!  I don't know why but every time someone has mentioned trails to me in the past I had almost no interest.  Maybe I just didn't want to get my running shoes dirty...

I met my training group this morning bright and early at Stone Mountain and hit the trail.  The funny thing is I run almost exclusively at Stone Mountain and have for about five years now.  I see the trails when I run past the entrances on the pavement but have never ventured off-road.  We finally got a blast of winter weather this weekend.  It was maybe upper 20s when we headed out and there were patches of ice on the rocks from the rain yesterday.

I had heard that your pace in trail running is generally a good bit slower than on the road and I immediately found this to be true.  Lots of roots to step around as well as rocks, trees and other things on the trail.  Maybe it was because it was my first time running trails but I felt like I was constantly looking down trying not to trip and fall.  Apparently I wasn't looking good enough because I tripped and fell within the first mile.  It was one of those moments where you think you can save it but the next thing you know you are down.  I hopped back up quickly and kept going hoping no one noticed.  The lesson learned there is you really need to pick your feet up a bit more on the trails - shuffling your feet will lead to a face plant in the dirt  :)  After that I felt like I got warmed up and really started to enjoy the run.  Almost like falling the first time on the bike while you are still clipped in.  Once it happens, you are over it and don't fear it so much anymore.

We went up and down hills, across rocks and streams.  A couple of  sections where you go up and across part of the mountain had quite a few icy patches.  (Stone Mountain is just a big exposed granite mountain -  ice + granite = slippery).  We tried to head up but were having trouble finding sections that weren't iced over so ended up heading down another trail as a Plan B.  We eventually made our way back to the wooded part of the trail and to the cars after almost 90 minutes for a total of 5.5 miles.

I really loved that run and can't wait to do it again!  I definitely see more trail running in my future.  The best part is that it is practically in my own backyard so I can do it any time.  I am only sad that I did not venture out of my comfort zone and try it a little sooner.                          

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Triathlon for the Every Woman...

You might find this hard to believe since my blog is not the standard of English, grammar and otherwise riveting reading but....  I have friends who actually can write and write well!  Have you heard of Swim Bike Mom?  If you haven't, you must hop over and check her out.  SBM is a one woman triathlon cheer leading squad.  She is encouraging, she is working on becoming an Iron(wo)man at CDA this year and above all she is REAL.  She has up days and down days just like the rest of us and puts it ALL out there on the interwebs for the world to see.

Meredith's book, Triathlon for the Every Woman: You Can be a Triathlete. Yes. You., just hit Amazon this week.  It probably was written with beginners in mind as a way to get them into the sport but I think even someone who has some triathlons to their credit will also enjoy it.  I mean, Bree Wee wrote the preface for goodness sake and she loved it!

I was lucky (?) enough to go over to Meredith's house one day last week and help her box up all of the pre-orders for shipping.  (I think there were roughly 1 billion...ha)  It was my first glimpse at the book and I have to say I was impressed.  This book is legit!  It contains 400ish pages of everything you wanted to know about triathlon but didn't know who to ask.

Meredith has pulled together contributors to cover all areas from nutrition, mental focus and transitions to swimming, biking and running and interspersed them among her personal stories of how she got off the couch and started her triathlon journey.  If you love her blog, you will love this book.  Lots of humor, personal stories and useful information.

I am lucky enough to have a copy of the book to give away!  Just leave me a comment with either your most embarrassing triathlon moment or your proudest moment.  If you aren't into triathlons (yet...), tell me what you are waiting for!   I will draw a winner at random on Wednesday, January 2nd.  Ready, go.....

If you just can't wait to win a copy, go to Amazon HERE and get yourself a copy.  You won't be disappointed!


Monday, December 24, 2012

Have yourselves a Merry little Christmas...

Hope you all have a great Christmas. Thanks for following my journey this year, looking forward to more fun in 2013!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

The wheels on the plan go round and round...

Round and round, round and round...   The wheels on the 5k a day challenge and my general training plan fell off the cart this week.  Kind of unusual because I can't remember ever having a time where I went off plan and did nothing for more than a day.  This week has been INSANE at the store meaning I worked 12+ hour days all week.  As you might recall since I quit my full time job in May, I have been blessed with a part time work schedule so I really can't complain about the hours around Christmas (it has actually been kind of fun).  It sure did put a dent in my ability to get any kind of workouts done much less laundry or any other household chores.  Not overly stressed about it as I can't change anything so am just going to roll with it and hope for the best.  It probably means that the Disney Marathon will become less of a chance at a PR and more of a fun run since I missed a key long run this weekend but if you are going to do a run for the sake of running it might as well be at Disney :)    Work-wise I think we have one more week of crowds and then should be back to normal!

With all that said, shall we talk about what I *did* do this week (besides work...)?  Last Saturday, my team had a run clinic with Kyle O'Day from Continuum Sport Solutions.  He showed us some pre-run drills and then had us practice running form after giving us a few tips.  He was only able to sort of hit a few basics in the time alotted but it was enough to get us started and make us want to beg him to come back for more at another time.  I have never had any sort of coaching so it was nice to have someone watch me run and give a few pointers.

Some basics from the day...

1.  Warm up drills.  We were given a series of warm up drills such as walking lunges, high knees, knee hugs and that sort of thing.  He said that the long stretches where you hold a pose for several seconds don't really serve a purpose before a run but are more for afterwards as part of your cool down.

2.  Running form!  Who doesn't need help with this one?  His main point was that you should try and run tall. If you are working on form, make sure your core is right first and then you can progress to looking at arms and legs to tweak your form.  By running tall, it is sort of the same thing you might hear in a yoga class.  Imagine a string coming out of the top of your head and someone pulling you up by it).  Don't lean forward or backward, just keep your core straight.

Head - Keep it up and eyes looking straight ahead 20 or so feet into the distance.  If you need to look where you are stepping, just glance down with your eyes without moving your head.
Arms - Should be bent and should swing between your heart and your hip bone (up and down, not across your body).  Hands should be in a loose fist with thumbs on top.  (not only does this make it easy to give the photographer a thumbs up but also will help you avoid shoulder issues).  I read a quote from Chrissie Wellington this week that you should imagine yourself carrying an egg in your hand as you run.
Feet - Your foot motion should be sort of an oval and you should focus on the front part of the revolution.  If you find yourself shuffling your feet, think about bringing your knee up higher for a better foot strike (not like a crazy high stepper but just an inch or so as if you were stepping over a bar).  You don't need to worry about kicking your foot back behind you as the more important part of the revolution is in the front.  

Now go and be a faster runner!  :)    Let's be real, that is a lot of focus on but if you focus on it for a few minutes during your run, it will be habit before you know it!

In other random news of the week, we had a Christmas party on Tuesday followed by people bringing us random snacks all week so I am pretty much cookie-d out.  I threw out a variety of sweets and treats last night.  

Have you all heard of PV Body?  I had seen a few bloggers post about it and it seemed like a pretty sweet deal.  $39.95 for a new running outfit each month (I think it is has now gone up to $49.95).  Seemed pretty sweet so I thought I would give it a try for a month.  Admittedly, I was skeptical of what I might receive.  Some of the posters who had received products in advance had received lululemon products so I was expecting something of that quality.  For those who know me, I typically wear a lot of black to workout in.  The occasional colored top but mostly black and subdued.  It is just easier and apparently I like to blend into the background.  The survey they had me fill out wasn't all that in depth although I think it has since changed.  I was concerned.  It took over a month to get my outfit.  Here is what I got.  L.O.L.  Yeah, so not me.... unless I take up Zumba.  Until then, it is going back.  :)



Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Mental Game...

This week has been a struggle as far as workouts go.  I feel like I have been playing mental games all week.  You might be familiar with it.  The conversation you have with yourself to get out the door and headed to your workout.  The internal debate you have when the alarm goes off and you reallllllly don't want to get up and go to the pool but you KNOW if you don't do it early, you will either not make it to the pool at all or you might have to beg a person to share a lane with you later in the day when the pool is crowded.

This week has been all about the mental battle.  Right now I am about 50/50 on making workouts.  Dentist appointments, rain, planning a Christmas party for the store had me all off schedule this week.  On top of that, I always am kind of blah around Christmas anyhow.  Dysfunctional family.  Long story.  Weird because I love the decorations  the lights, baking Christmas treats and the meaning behind Christmas.  It is just the family stuff that makes it hard.  So anyhow...  toss that in with the rest and this week has been mentally challenging.

The funny thing about the challenge is once I get out there and actually do the workout I ALWAYS feel better.  ALWAYS.  So why is it so hard to talk myself into getting out the door sometimes?  I annoy myself :)

So. very. true.

Tuesday's swim workout was a perfect example of how the tiniest things can make a huge difference in my mental game.  The workout involved 6 x 150s, 200, 6 x 150s and a final 200 for 2200 meters.  I loved that workout.  For me, it was perfect.  I like small chunks like that.  Had it been 2 x 450s, 200, 2 x 450s, and a 200 for the same 2200 - I think I would have had a hard time getting excited about it.  I would have done it but the snooze button might have been hit a few more times....

Yesterday, sleeping in, flu shots, a Christmas open house in a beautiful venue with yummy cupcakes and boxing up books to ship for my favorite Swim Bike Mom won out over my workout.

Today, it was a similar thing.  I got a late start.  I should have gotten my workout done in the morning.  I didn't.  I had some errands on the way home and sat in some ridiculous construction traffic.  By the time I got home, it was not easy to get back out the door.  (side note, I KNOW I need to workout in the AM for this very reason - once the day gets out of control it is hard to stay motivated).  On tap today was hill repeats.  I can't say that I have ever done them before.  Prior to this marathon training plan, I pretty much had just been running straight mileage without worrying about any kind of speed workouts.  I came *this close* to scratching the day.  I finally got myself together and back in the car to head towards Stone Mountain.  I did a little over a mile warmup then hit the hills for 7 two minute stretches.  It felt so good.  The weather was cool and December like today and the park was not crowded.  It may be a sickness (in which case I blame the flu shot I got yesterday) but I loved that workout.  I am going to try and work that in more often!

Tomorrow I am back at it with a run in the morning followed by some outlet shopping with an IronDiva!  I won't hit the snooze, I won't hit the snooze, I won't hit the snooze....  


Monday, December 10, 2012

Here we go, here we go now...

December 1st basically kicked off my triathlon training for 2013.  I know...  it is still 2012.  How about taking a break?  In the words of KC, ironman waits for no (wo)man.  I also love that I started training without even knowing what races I might do in 2013.

Up until this week, I was still kicking around the idea of another full IM next year.  I can't even remember how it came about but last week I got the idea in my head that I might want to do IM Louisville.  I was already considering Rev3 Cedar Point or maybe B2B again and now IM Louisville had entered the thought process.

Let me back up a bit...   A few weeks ago I decided to join Team Blue Iron for the 2013 season.  I have done most of my training on my own schedule for the past two years and after having such a great time with them in PCB over the summer, I decided to give group training a go.  As a team, we are training for four races this year. You aren't required to do all four but in my mind if I want to get the most out of the group experience I want to participate in as much as possible.  The four races are a sprint, an olympic and two 70.3s.

Team Blue Iron

In 2012, somehow I managed to qualify for Long Course Nationals both at Augusta and B2B.  I feel like I might have told you this already.  I also feel like, if *I* qualified, they might want to raise their standards.  LOL.  Seriously though I was super excited to find out that nationals are at Rev3 Anderson this year which is a 90 minute drive from home for me.  Score!  Unfortunately, that race is right before B2B which put it out of the picture.  It was then down to Cedar Point and IM Louisville.

I talked it over with my newly acquired coach.  (look at that -  this team thing is paying off already...).  She gave me some pros and cons of each race not really pushing me one way or the other but just giving me some things to think about.  I mulled them over during one of my runs last week and had one of those light bulb moments.  If the point of joining a team was to have people to train with why would I immediately start off by tacking on a huge race that would require me to do a bunch of training on my own?  It really just didn't make sense.

So with that moment of clarity, I came to decide that 2013 will be the year of 70.3s for me..... and I feel pretty darn good about it!    

Spinning this weekend.  I love how all the guys look like they are praying for mercy.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Friday Night Lights...

Did I mention I was doing the 5k a day challenge in December?  Did I also mention that it is actually harder than it might seem?  I am guessing you wise people already knew that.  So far this week, I have hit every day.  It took some adjustments to the schedule but I am proud to say I got it done!

Friday night after I left our store, I headed to Stone Mountain for my run. Stone Mountain used to have light displays up all around the mountain and families would drive through in their cars to look at the lights but that changed last year.  I learned this after I came up with the idea to have some friends meet me for a run through the lights last year.  #fail.  They had a few lights up but nothing like in previous years.

Now have created this little Christmas village and you have to pay $28 per person to go inside.  I am tempted.  I really want to but....  it is $28 so it better be pretty awesome up in there.  There are some Christmas shows, train rides, a parade and Santa so, if I had kids, I probably would go in and check it out.  Maybe I will do it before Christmas.  For now, I will be satisfied to enjoy the lights from the outside :)

Crossroads Village in the shadow of Stone Mountain

Moving the star a little to the left (perhaps I could have caught the show for free through the slats in the fence...)

The lights really are pretty amazing.

I hear there is kettle corn inside.  Totally worth $28. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December Challenges...

Why Hello December!  How did you get here so quickly?  Here we are firmly planted in the holiday season...  cookies, sweets and treats and also a variety of workout challenges to try and counter-balance the situation.   As I had my spoon firmly planted in 10 gallons of banana pudding, KC roped me into a December running challenge.  The challenge is to run every day in December.  A mile, 3 miles, 10 miles, whatever.  Just run.  About the same time, Michael gave a shout out for her 5k a day in December challenge.  Always the over achiever, I am doing that cheating since I am still only running once a day?  I am in the middle of marathon training so a little nervous about taking off running every single day but am planning to mix in some slower leisurely walk/runs so it won't be like I am doing sprints every day.  (I can see my coach shaking her head right about now...  don't you worry it will be all bizness when January 1 rolls around!)

Speaking of challenges, if you haven't been following Frayed Laces' Trainer Tuesday workouts, they are pretty awesome.  Check them out get to spinning!  You can do it as a group at 5:30 EST via twitter or do it on your own at a different time, either way you are guaranteed to get your sweat on.

This weekend included an awesome strength training workout Saturday afternoon with Kacie, Susan and a few others.  It was a fundraiser for Kacie who is training for RAAM next year.  She is doing it as a two person team which blows my mind - all part of life for her though as she has already done it part of a larger team last year and has done an double ironman.  WOW.  Our trainer was Kate who kicked us around for about 90 minutes before we crawled out of the gym praying that our legs will still function later this week.  I kid...  It was so much fun.  It turns out while the rest in the group excel at double ironmans, Kona, and just generally being cool people, my hidden talent involves crawling across the floor in a plank position with my feet on wheels.  Not nearly as many cool points as a double ironman but definitely fun :)  

If you are in the Atlanta area, check out Kacie's team blog for info on the Crowie Alexander meet and greet/group run at All 3 Sports this weekend!

While I was out crawling across the gym on wheels, CR was out reliving his go-kart racing days.  He went out there just to look around and some guy let him take a kart out and run some laps.  Way too generous...  He had a blast racing around a local track on four wheels.  When he got home he had a smile from ear to ear that just wouldn't go away.  So glad he got to get out and do something fun.  He works a ridiculous number of hours a week which makes him not want to do much more than rest on his days off.  He had been looking up information on this track for over a week so it was pretty awesome that he got to take off early today and check it out.  Go Speed Racer!

Tri training gets back into swing next week.  I see a ton of workouts in training peaks waiting for me :)  Guess play time is over and time to get back on a schedule!  Hope you guys have a great week!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Give thanks...

There are SO MANY things I am thankful for this year, I could probably write a post eight pages long... but no one wants to read that do you? I'll save that kind of wordiness for my race reports :)

One of the things I am thankful for this year are the friends I have met through triathlon and blogging. It really is such a great community. I have been fortunate enough this year to meet more than a few of my friends who formerly only lived in my computer - KC, Beth, Summer, Colleen, Meredith - I am looking at all of you! :)

I stepped outside of my routine of training alone and went to training camps and met some great new friends and found new training partners. Now I am looking through my magic mirror and see Sarah, Kristi, Mari, Callie, Trisha, Robbie and Steve. So excited to train with you guys next year!

I am also thankful for each and every one of you! I love reading your blogs and following your training. You are a constant source of inspiration and ideas. For those of you who post such great pictures, I can only hope to be as good as you someday - ha ha! I will take more pictures, I will take more pictures, I will....

I hope you all had a great day. :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

5k domination...

Happy Monday Bloggies!  For most of you it is the beginning of a short work week.... enjoy!  I am sitting here waiting for the repairman to come fix our heater.  He came yesterday morning, adjusted a wire in our thermostat gave it his blessing as the heat was running at the time and left.  This morning, the heater is still not cycling on properly.  Luckily (or not luckily as the case may be) this is the one day we are both off each week so we have all day to lounge around and wait on him.  I feel bad for CR as I think he had big plans on going to do some go-kart racing at an indoor track and then catching Lincoln at the movies but it seems that might get delayed.  Fingers crossed that they show up quickly!

Over the weekend I did a fun 5k with friends.  I say fun but as it turns out one had big plans on total 5k domination...  ha ha.  Early last week I got an email about a 5k across town that some of my friends were doing and did I want to come out and support the group?  Sure, sounds like fun - who doesn't love a nice low key 5k I told myself.

Friday night, the tweets started.  "Going to bed early so I can DOMINATE..." followed by a tweet about carb loading and garmin charging.  I think the words "it's ON" were used by another friend.  Suddenly my leisurely 5k didn't seem so leisurely.  I knew I was in trouble as I had done boot camp Friday morning and by Friday night, the DOMS was already taking up residence in my quads.  I knew it was going to be a painful weekend.  Who needs to go upstairs anyhow?

I arrived at the race Saturday and assessed the situation.  Mari took off on a warm up run as I stood there and conserved my energy.  :)  Yes, she wasn't kidding about domination.  The race was pretty small, so small that I worried I might get lost if I couldn't keep the people ahead of me in sight.  We all lined up at 8:00 and headed down the road.  I don't have any real strategy to racing other than to break free of the crowd as soon as possible.  Not because it give me any advantage but because I just hate dodging people.  About a mile in Miss Domination cruises past me.  At the turnaround, I am counting women and realize I am 4th OA.  I do thrive in races with small participation....  My other friend Callie is right behind me in 5th.  Up and down a few hills and we are headed for the home stretch.  I see a shadow coming up fast behind me.  It is a guy making a sprint for the finish.  Why must they always do this to me?  I kicked it into high gear and sprinted down the chute to the finish just barely beating him.  Afterwards, he came up to me and congratulated me on the race.  He said he was trying his best to beat me until I kicked it in gear.  LOL.  I ended up 2nd in my age group (Miss Domination took first - as it should be...)  :)

Post race, we headed over for coffee and bagels before I made my way to Trader Joe's.  We have a few in the ATL area but none are really near me.  Once I realized there was one across the street, I couldn't resist.  Check out my new prized possession....  a brussel sprout stalk!  They look so much fresher than the ones sold in bulk.  Apparently you cut them off the bottom as you need them.  They will stay fresh on the stalk for 2 weeks.

I had such a fun day!  I don't think I have laughed that much in a long time.  I need to do group races more often.  Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving week!  My Disney marathon training starts this week.  I am running this one with another total DOMINATOR (KC) so I had better lace up my shoes and get to training.    Can't wait!


Monday, November 12, 2012

What's happening now...

I hate when I go weeks without posting.  I feel like there are so many things to tell you and that each probably deserves its own post; however, if I did it would take three weeks of post to catch you up.  Not that I have been oh-so-busy but I have done some fun things since B2B.  (I love how my life falls into these categories, "before B2B" and "after B2B").

The first weekend after B2B, I went to a Kona watching party on Saturday.  These are mostly friends I have connected with in the last few months through Blue Iron Coaching.  I am looking forward to doing more with them in 2013!

Sunday was a relay at the Atlanta Marathon with Colleen.  We had a team all lined up (Diet Coke mafia) and then life got in the way for two of our teammates leaving us with the prospect of each running a half on race day.  Colleen could have knocked it out no problem but one week after my 140.6 was probably not the best time for me to try out the legs for more than a few miles.  We ended up connecting with two other people who needed running partners through Team Type 1 and we created a relay team mash up.

Where are all the people?

Colleen with one of our teammates.  Apparently she is a super star biker, I was hoping some of it would rub off on me :)

The logistics to a relay are interesting, you have to kind of figure out what time everyone will run their legs in order to determine when you need to start looking for your runner.  It is extra interesting when you have never met the runner you are looking for...  luckily she ended up yelling out " Colleen?, Karen?" several times.  ha ha.  All in all a fun day!

Thank goodness for the buses.  It was soooo cold we waited in the buses until right before our runners rolled up.

Runners waiting for their teammates.  This really doesn't capture how many relays there were.  I think there might be more participants doing the relay than running as individuals.

Last weekend, I got to go down to IM FL to cheer on friends who were doing the race and also do some volunteering.  It was kind of whirlwind weekend.  I drove down on Friday to make a quick meet up with new and old friends at noon.

We then went for a late lunch ...

and a little course preview...

Kristi re-enacting the run from the swim to T1 in case you needed a visual.

After we got settled in to the condo, we proceeded to make signs for the next day...

and model costumes...
Kristi was a cone. 
Saturday was an early day.  I was on sunscreen duty at 6 AM.  Our job was to slather people with sunscreen as they came out of T1 to the bike.  It was a pretty cool gig as you got to see all the racers pass by whether they stopped for sunscreen or not.  After sunscreening, we were all pulled in to help organize the clothing bags so when the racers came back that night, they could easily pick up their gear.  Here is a tip for all you iron people out there...  write your number on the bag in sharpie.  Those labels they give you come off so easily with the slightest bit of water and the bags get super wet from the swim gear.  The sharpie might save you from losing your gear.

After I was off duty, I met up with friends and proceeded to stalk friends and cheer until the last one came in around 11:00 or so that night.  Spectating is a lot of work!  I wish I had worn my Garmin so I would know how many miles I covered walking back and forth during the race...

Regina, Joe and Callie
 The A-Train Cheering Section

Callie at the Finisher's Chute
Mari, Trish, Callie, me and Kristi

Which leads us to this weekend...  I was scheduled for a 50k on Sunday.  I had signed up a little while back using the logic that I could sort of use the IM training to get me through the run.  I want to cross a 50k off the list and this seemed the easiest way to do it - just piggy back it off of another race.  I was looking forward to it as it was a looped, paved course (it is rare to find a non-trail 50k).  Saturday as I was gathering my things together for the race - garmin, ipod, gels - the excitement had waned.  I could not get enthused about getting up super early to drive an hour across town.  By the time Saturday night rolled around, I knew my head was not in the race and I decided to scratch it from the plan.  I think my mind and body were just tired.  I had not had a weekend to just relax and I think that was what I needed more than a 50k run at this point.

Sunday I got up late did some chores around the house then headed out to Stone Mountain for a 10 mile run.  It was just what I needed, a long weekend around the house without any huge activities on the schedule.  BTW, I think you all should know I am now the Mayor of Stone Mountain on FourSquare.  I still don't understand the purpose of this app but yet I check in places from time to time.  Someone explain the point of it to me...  For my first act as mayor I am going to require people walking in groups to leave some space on the sidewalk for runners to pass.  You have been warned  :)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Beach2Battleship: The Return Trip

So here is the thing...  You all know there is no way to make this short.  You have been warned. 

The weird thing about this race and Augusta for that matter is I really did not feel as prepared as last year.  It probably was just one of those mental things.  I had trained more with groups this year and less on my own.  Last year I followed "the plan" a little more rigidly out of fear and this year I let go on that a bit.  I still put in the work but was more flexible in how that work was completed (i.e. group training camps and rides versus taking the whole thing solo or with a training partner).  In the end, whatever I did must have been just fine so I really did not need to spend last week obsessing over what had or had not been done and whether there was enough hay in my barn.  :)

Thursday, CR and I headed out on our road trip to Wilmington.  We stopped at South of the Border in South Carolina where you can pick up the latest in Mexican Souvenirs.  It makes no sense to me.  It is quite the complex of restaurants and touristy stores all with the South of the Border theme.  CR said they used to stop here back in the day when he would visit NC from FL with his parents.  Apparently Highway 301 was the best way to get there back then... 


If you remember, last year CR wasn't able to come up until the night before the race so it was nice to have him along from start to finish. We arrived later Saturday afternoon and went straight to packet pick up.

I got to meet the fabulous Tonia manning the Tough Chik booth, picked up a few race shirts and treats from the expo and was on my way.  We went to a Facebook meetup for dinner so it was a quick check in at the hotel and off to check out the swim start then head to dinner.  

It was nice to meet so many people in person who I had been chatting with on facebook for the past several months.  I think CR soaked up a few tips here and there as after the dinner he was offering me tidbits on things he had heard that might help me on race day.  (You know, peeing on the bike and that sort of thing...).

All packed and ready!

Race day nutrition.  I used about 3/4 of this.  I overestimated on the bike because I wasn't sure of my time. 
I took in everything except for the energy blasts and a couple of bonk breakers for the all three legs.

Friday was the usual whirlwind.  You think you are going to have all this time to relax but somehow the day ends up being a constant stream of dropping off this and that.  Thursday night I had transferred my gear into the various swim to bike, bike to run and special needs bag so those were ready to drop on Friday.  The biggest tip I have to offer for anyone who is doing their first iron distance is this...  separate all your gear and pack it up in bags at home.  When you get to the hotel, all you have to do is transfer the things from your bag to the official race bags.  It saves A LOT of stress.   

Friday we met up with Sarah and Kristi at the noon pre-race meeting.  There was some explanation of the changed run course.  I remembered at the time thinking it sounded confusing and hoped there would be signage.  *ahem* 

We parted ways with Sarah and Kristi to go get some lunch and drop off my bike.

... and a couple of hours later met back up with them for dinner.  Sarah likes pre-race sushi so we went to a Hibachi type restaurant so those of us who prefer our prerace meals to be cooked could eat as well. 

Back to the hotel to try and get some sleep....  I think I went to bed about 9:00 and then my eyes popped open again at 1:30.  There was no going back to sleep so I laid there and waited for the 4 AM alarm.  UGH.

CR drove me out to T1 where I dropped my gear, pumped tires and then left him as I got on the trolley to the swim start.  I don't know why but that part choked me up last year and did this year as well.  Sort of the final farewell I suppose.  Spectators can't get to the swim start easily so there are a lot of good byes and last minute good lucks at the trolley stop. 

As you get off the trolley everyone just sort of gathers outside the beach entrance since it is still dark.  I chatted with people around me until it was time to put on my wetsuit.  I finally saw Sarah right as we were ready to head to the start.  She hung to the back of the pack for the start and I made my way more to the middle.  I found myself starting right in front of a guy who had both arms amputated.  I later found out his name, Hector Picard (  I am told he finished the swim in 1:09.  It was one of those "what is your excuse" moments.

They played Eminem and we were off.  My swim wasn't the greatest in terms of sighting.  My goggles fogged up as usual so between that and the grey caps, I was having a hard time figuring out where we were going.  I was so far right at one point, the paddleboarders had to corral me back in as I was about to miss the left hand turn.  I only got caught up in a pack for a few minutes here and there, got kicked once in the face and had my feet grabbed about 500 times (but who is counting).  Got stuck by a guy with the most awkward stroke ever and was thinking he might pull me under with that thing for a few seconds.  Finally broke free of that and could see the dock.  Ah - freedom from the water!

Swim:    57:42 (I should say the race is known for fast swim times - there is a current much like Augusta)  4th in AG

Got the wetsuit stripped and rinsed off in the heated showers.  So awesome.  As I was doing the quick rinse, some guy who was also racing looked at me and said "that was a fast swim for you".  I assume meaning because I am a girl.  (the race is 70% men, 30% women).  Uh, what?  I think he meant it to be a compliment but what a weird thing to say...

Ran across the road to T1.  I decided not to change this year.  It was warm enough that dry clothes probably wouldn't help one way or the other with the temperature so I just pulled on my garmin, helmet, and shoes and headed to the bike.     

T1:    6:03

Grabbed the bike and ran the 10 feet to bike out.  (I was blessed with a super close spot!). 

See that aero bottle?  Yeah, I lost it on a bump about a half mile down the road.  Stopped to retrieve it and realized the bracket was broken so left it on the road.  I was down to the one bottle I had on the down tube.  Thankfully, there were frequent water stops.  I was using skratch mix and didn't think I could manage mixing it up on the go so ended up having to stop at almost every aid station to mix my skratch in the bottle.  Overall I don't think it added all that much time but did have me off my nutrition plan a bit.  It also didn't help that my bag of salt tabs flew out of my hand around mile 20.  Luckily the aid stations had enduralytes... 

The ride was so much better than last year.  All I can remember of last year's ride was hunkering down and trying to stay warm and not blow over sideways.  This year it was a little windy but nothing like last year.  The route was different this year too so am not sure how much of a difference that made in the wind.  I actually got to enjoy the ride which was a nice change.  I made my way from one aid station to the other.  Passing cotton fields, farms and a lot of highway riding.  I even passed a huge turkey coop at one point.  Thousands of turkeys were gobbling away looking out the window as we rode by. 

Bike:  6:52:33 (this is definitely the weak(er) of my legs - I dropped from 4th in AG to 18th in AG here to give you an idea of how I stacked up)

I headed into T2 and the volunteers took my bike.  I made my way through the convention center to get my bag and change for the run.  The T2 location was new for this year so I wasn't sure where to go although the volunteers did a decent job of directing us.  I did a full change out of my bike gear for the run.  Toweled off with my Shower Pill (LOVE these things by the way... they are like wet wipes but thicker and larger).  We also had the luxury of real bathrooms and running water so took advantage of that while I was changing.  Handed my bag off to the volunteer and I was out...

T2:  9:09

... on to the run.  The run course was different this year.  Mostly for the good but there were also some confusing parts.  To the good - we no longer had to run over the two bridges at the beginning and end of each loop (WOO HOO!).  To the bad - there was a new section that proved to be kind of confusing.  It would seem I needed to study the map a little more.

To be honest I had heard in the meeting that I needed to run a triangle section twice but the way it was laid out and the directions that were being given just didn't make sense to me when I got to that section.  I have since heard a lot of people screwed up this part of the run so at least I wasn't the only one who didn't "get it".  

Basically what was supposed to happen was this... you run this triangle once then at the fork bear to the left for an out and back section of 3ish miles.  You come back run the triangle again and then bear to the right to head back to the finish area (or special needs to begin the second lap). 

What I did was this...  I ran the triangle once then was told to go to the right (back to special needs) meaning I missed about 4 miles.  I was confused at the time but was even more confused when I started seeing the mileage signs that were about 4 miles off.  (for example, I knew I was on mile 8 but the sign was showing mile 12).  I just kept running and tried to figure out how I came to be so far off.  Were the signs off?  Did I miss something? How can I fix this without having to scratch this race as a learning experience?  I rolled up on special needs when I was on mile 9, grabbed 2 gels out of the bag and kept going.  

At this point, I kept thinking about the people who were tracking me at home and CR who was keeping up with me here.  I had crossed the mat at the turn around but had only gone 9 miles.  How can I fix this and not mess up this whole race?  If I couldn't figure out what I missed or fix it easily was I going to have to cross the finish without having really done the miles?  It was a little stressful but I guess it was good as it gave me something to occcupy my mind for 8 or so miles (ha ha not...).  It also got me off my refuel plan a bit as my mileage was all jacked up at that point.  I just kept going.  By the time I got to the triangle again, it became apparent what I needed to do to make up the missing mileage.  I ended up running the triangle three times on the last loop (to make 4 times total) and the out and back twice.  Again, I was thinking about the people tracking wondering what they must be thinking.  I was worried that CR wouldn't know where I was as I had not seen him since the first mile.  I was thankful it was a double loop course.  If had not been, there would have been no easy way to fix the missed mileage. 

On the last loop, I saw Kristi on her bike and she sent a text to CR to let him know where I was on the course.  Immediate relief because I was thinking he might be worried at this point.  On my last triangle loop, Kristi gave me a shout out and she took off for the finish.  Three miles to go! 

This year the course finished in downtown Wilmington which was SO MUCH BETTER than last year.  I made that final right hand turn and ran for a third of a mile or so past crowds of cheering people along the cobblestone road.  There was a wedding party on the left side of the road, a huge crowd of bar patrons on the right, they all cheered for me and I cheered back at them finally making my way to the finish line.  I had done the math in my head along the way but wasn't sure exactly where I stood.  I don't have one watch that holds charge long enough for the whole race meaning I have to change watches between the bike and the run.  I estimate my times and add them all together which at the end of a race can be harder to do than you might think.  I was hoping for sub-13 but didn't think it was possible.  When I came into view of the clock showing 12:46 I started choking up.  The crowd was cheering, the announcer was calling my name and I was trying to not hyperventilate from choking back the tears.  I pulled it together and sprinted across the line to meet CR and Kristi the super sherpas on the other side.  

Run:    4:41:18  (4th AG - see what I mean about the bike being the weak link?)

FINISH:  12:46:44 (7th AG)

It was such a great day.  I love this race so much.  I was worried that maybe I had such fond memories of it because it was my first but this time it was just as great.  They have some work to do on the run course in terms of signage or maybe training volunteers better on directing traffic but even with those hiccups it was so much better than running those bridges.  The finish was also much better than last year.  Did I mention they had XS race shirts?  BONUS!  Unisex tech race shirts in size small never fit, XS was perfect!

Post race, CR had already gathered my bike and changing bags.  He even had a cherry coke waiting for me in the cooler on ice.  The best sherpa ever!  I ordered a hamburger from room service (they had post race food but none of it was appealing to me at that time).  Only ate about half of the hamburger but it was the best thing ever.  I didn't really feel hungry until the next morning.

On the way home, we stopped by the post race brunch.  It was such a nice day, I am glad we made the time to do this last thing.  One guy who won his AG had a time of 10:00:01.  Can you imagine?  ONE SECOND to bust the 10 hour mark.  UGH.

Thanks for following along with me.  It was such a great day!