Splash, spin, step

Last minute glance back at Jeff for encouragement

Last minute glance back at Jeff for encouragement

Saturday was the Deschutes Dash and my date with destiny! The weekend was off to a great start as Jeff and I packed up his Suburban and headed to Bend on Friday afternoon. About the time we hit Sisters I checked to see what my race number was and how many people were in the Olympic Triathlon. I was #26 and there were 204 racers. Hmmm, I considered this. That’s not that many racers… oh, no… it is entirely possible that I could come in LAST… oh no…. I began to panic. The races I’ve done in the past seem to have a LOT of people and 204 doesn’t sound like that many. I DON’T want to be last. I was traveling with Mr. Optimism who took my panic in stride and offered up logical, rational, calming responses to my panicked “I don’t want to be last” mantra. Among my favorites were “You’ve been training, just do your best!” and “You know, even if you do come in last, and you won’t, who cares! You’re out there to just have fun!”

Jeff’s words were appreciated, but they didn’t have the calming effect I know he’d hoped they’d have. Here’s the thing, in race world, even in amateur suburban mom race world, no one wants to earn the labels DFL (dead f***ing last) or DNF (did not finish). So there I was ruminating in the very real possibility that I might earn either.

We made it to packet pickup and then onto dinner where I decided having a big microbrew was a form of carbo loading. Back at the hotel I re-checked of all my gear and load up my bags for the two transition sites. I needed a bag for all my biking gear and a different bag with all my running gear. There are many little logistical things to keep track of in a triathlon so you don’t end up forgetting socks or your helmet or sunscreen… while I was making little piles of gear and muttering under my breath what each was for, my stomach was churning with anxiety about the race.

After a fitful night of weird dreams (the strangest of which involved me being startled by a dwarf janitor, whom I then kicked across the room) I awoke to race day. I set both transition sites up, walked through a part of the course so I knew where to enter and exit transition and headed up to the swim. I had a new wetsuit I’d just purchased the week before and it fits well, but regardless of the fit it always seems like putting it on is a lot like stuffing a sausage casing. So on it went and at 8:15 I started the race.swim

The water was 62 degrees (a little chilly at first) and the trick with this race was to be towards the left where the current is fast and the duckweed is sparse. All in all, the swim was easy. Eventually I put my face in the water and tried to breath like a real swimmer but it took awhile. We swam under a few bridges where the spectators could watch (hence the swim pictures) and before I knew it the swim was over.

run to t1

Because my friend Leanne had done the course the previous year and I’d look at the course overview I knew it was kinda flat, then uphill and then REALLY uphill. I’m sure a seasoned biker wouldn’t think too much of the 1,800 foot elevation gain over 13 miles but I’m not a seasoned cyclist. I did my bike training in my living room while watching Barefoot Contessa and rocking out to my iPod. There were three really big, long hills where I was in the highest gear and concentrating on a spot about 12 feet in front of me and doing a lot of positive self talk…. “Don’t think about the whole hill, just the 12 feet in front of you.” “YES, I, CAN!” “Just keep riding. Just keep riding…” I made it to the turn around and then it was literally “all downhill” from there. Going up the steepest hills I was riding at about 8 mph, on the way down I was going 30+ mph. I do not have nerves of steel and I kept thinking about how much skin I’d lose if I crashed so I rode the brake and kept it at 25 mph for most of the way down.

Heading into T2 I heard cheers from some good friends, the Engles, who were in Central Oregon and had come out to cheer me on! I felt so loved! With legs that felt like they were filled with bricks I headed out on the 6.2 mile run. OMG! I knew if I could make it to mile 3 my legs would feel better so that was the goal – make it to mile 3! Though I hate to admit it I actually stopped and drank at the two aid stations, rather than “grab and go” which I usually do. I also walked probably a total of 2 minutes because it was hot and I was soooo tired and soooo thirsty! At mile 5 I began to inwardly cheer knowing I was close to the end. I crossed the finish line to the sounds of cheers from friends and the man I love. My feeling of accomplishment was, and still is, amazing! I had DONE IT!

tri finish

We live in a culture where we are encouraged to be humble, modest and to downplay many of the things we’re proud of accomplishing. For today, I say to hell with that. I am so proud of myself! I’m proud I had the courage to start, I’m proud I had the temerity to stick to the same goal for three years, I’m proud I finished, and I’m proud of my results. My swim was 17:53; my bike time was 1:40:00 and my run was 1:00:00. I finished 104th out of 204 racers; among women I finished 28th out of 84; and in my age division I placed 6th.

happy ending

Since setting this goal three years ago I’ve learned a lot about training, hydration, wet suits, and what the length of the pool is at 24 Hour Fitness. My biggest lesson though, hit me at mile 5 of the run, when I knew the end was minutes away. It was then that I realized how much more capable I am than I generally give myself credit for. It was very clear to me that I can have big goals and I have the ability to achieve them. Like everyone else, there will always be a chance that I earn the DFL or DNF label, but that fear is nothing compared to my sense of triumph and pride! As I conclude this post I just one lingering question,  I wonder what a 1/2 Ironman feels like…


Third time’s the charm

Three years ago I declared I was going to complete an Olympic Triathlon. I signed up for the Portland Tri, started a blog, and had my sights set.   I was READY to take on this goal!!! So what happened, why didn’t I do the race the FIRST TIME?? Well… that was the summer I got divorced… curious thing about divorce, it doesn’t leave a lot of space in your schedule or your head for much else. I ended up changing my registration and completing the sprint triathlon. The next year I signed up for the Olympic Triathlon again – this time NOTHING was going to stand in my way!!! I was focused! I biked, ran and swam my way to readiness. So what happened, why didn’t I do the race the SECOND TIME? Due to unusual “green growth” in the Willamette the swim was cancelled and the TRIathlon became a DUathlon. Yes, I do have the shirt that says I did an Olympic Triathlon, but I know I didn’t do it. So, it remains on my list of things to finish.

Determined to cross this race off “the list,” I signed up a THIRD TIME for an Olympic triathlon, the Deschutes Dash, an Olympic Triathlon that takes place in Bend. The 1 mile swim is in the Deschutes, the 26 mile bike ride is up towards Mt. Bachelor, and the 6 mile run is along the banks of the Deschutes and into Bend. The race is a week from tomorrow (Saturday, July 18th). I could not be MORE ready! I’m trained up, hydrating like a camel, have a new wetsuit, Yankz in my shoes, travel and hotel arrangements, my bike has been serviced and I’ll have my #1 fan cheering me on for the whole thing.

Having taken 3 attempts at this race has sucked, it really has, but the silver lining of it all has been the blog I’ve written. Who knows if anyone has read it, but I have, in fact I re-read through the whole thing a few days ago. It is fun to remember what I was doing and what happened – hail storms, Bo Duke skids, vomit in my car…

If you HAVE been reading this, I hope its been entertaining and I look forward to reporting my July 18th success!

What do you mean the swim was cancelled?

In 12 hours I will start the Portland Triathon, er… well… no scratch that, in 12 hours I will start the Portland DUathlon.  Yes, that’s right a duathlon – biking and running only. The swim was cancelled.  There is a layer of “green growth” on the Willamette River and the river managers can’t determine if it is harmless or not, so the swim was cancelled.  All of my training and panicking over the swim has been for naught… I can’t decide if I’m relieved or if I’m disappointed. On one hand I don’t have to squeeze into an impossibly snug wetsuit and battle upstream with hundreds of other racers like a school of homebound salmon.  But on the other hand,  this was going to be the year I checked the Portland Tri off my bucket list and dammit I’m tired of it being there.  I can’t check it off even if I do finish the race tomorrow because regardless of what my fancy new tech shirt says, it ISN’T a triathlon.   So friends, wish me luck tomorrow as I run-bike-run my way a few steps closer to completing the Portland Triathlon.


That’s what friends are for…

Stevie Wonder sings an entire song about what friends are for… but I don’t need a song to explain what friends are for, I think I can do it in a blog post. Friends are the family you choose. Friends bring out the best in you. Friends are for telling you the things you really need to hear. Yes, that’s right – I think friends have a responsibility to tell you things you need to hear. Such as, “You have food in your teeth. No, not there, other tooth. Okay ya, but there is still some there, a little towards your gumline… got it!” They should also tell you about wardrobe malfunctions, “Hey! Your zipper is down!” or for that matter they sometimes are better off just fixing it themselves “Your tag is sticking out in back, hold still while it tuck it in.” Friends tell us stuff we need to hear. They tell us about the stress-free things like “you have lipstick on your teeth” and the awkward things “you were kinda bitchy!”

It is my belief that friends also have an obligation to tell you when they’ve noticed you’ve made an oversight. For example if a friend was to notice that you’ve signed up for a Triathlon with the impression the swim was a.5 mile when in fact is was to be a 1.0 mile swim, a friend should point out that slight oversight!. A friend who reads that detail in your blog and notices the error should then point it out. Am I right here??????

(Insert large sigh here…) Yes, I signed up for the Portland Tri and I thought the swim was .5 miles so this whole time I’ve been training for a .5 mile swim. (Insert F word here). Last weekend my very good friend Leanne came to visit and over casual conversation says “You know it’s a 1.0 mile swim right? I mean I know you blogged about a half mile swim, but that was a type-o, right?”

No it wasn’t a type-o.

Me: What? No, its twice the distance of a sprint so it is ½ a mile

Leanne: Ya, well the swim in a sprint can vary, but you signed up for an Olympic and it is a full mile.

Me: No… seriously? No…

At this point I started Googling and yes, I signed up for the Olympic and yes it is a 1.0 mile swim. (Insert F word again).

Leanne: Ya, I thought about saying something, I even had an message typed out, but then I figured, eh… she knows…

Me: What? No!!! You tell me things like this! What am I going to do? I’m going to drown! (insert teary eyes and mild panic attack here)

Leanne: (Downshifting into the “you’ll be fine” gear) You’ll be fine! You’ve been swimming, you’ll take it easy and you’ll be fine! How much have you been swimming? How far can you swim?

Me: 37 down and backs

Leanne: (unsuccessfully stifling a chuckle) 37 what? What is a ‘down and back?’

Me: You know swim down to one end of the pool and back. A down and back. 37 times. No problem.

Leanne: How big is the pool?

Me: Big… I don’t know how big.

Leanne: BIG big, or smallish big?

Me: Like medium big… whatever 24 hour fitness has… oh my gosh… I’m going to drown. I can’t believe you didn’t tell me I did this!

The conversation went on like this for awhile until I decided to call 24 Hr Fitness where Sam at the front desk informed me he’s “pretty sure” the pool is 25 yards long. Leanne did some quick math and here is where I stand training wise…

The swim is 1.5 Kilometers

The pool is 25 yards long

1 yard is .9144 meters

25 yards is 22.86 meters

One “down and back” is 45.72 meters

37 “down and backs” is 1691 meters

1691 meters IS (drum roll please…) 1.69 kilometers

WHOO HOO! By some weird twist of fate I have been unknowingly training for the correct distance without knowing it. Thank GOD!

There are two lessons in this story. First, always read tt and lhe details and know what you are signing up for. Second, friends should tell each other the things they need to hear and sooner, rather than later, is always better.

This is Leanne and I two years ago at the Portland Triathlon 🙂

Run like a Mother…

July 31, 2014

There is a book written by a local author entitled “Run like a Mother.” The book itself is great! It is funny, smart, informative, and best of all validates some of the crazy things we do as mothers who are trying to get a workout in. I also love the title… I love what it seems like it means at first glance, and I love what it means literally. To run like a mother requires a different level of commitment and balance and creativity than to run as a single person or a childless woman or for that matter even a father. Why is this? Well, I suppose its equal parts guilt, multitasking and sheer necessity.  Lets take yesterday for example. My plan was to wake up early (6:00 am) to get a 6 mile run in before the kids were awake (my mom is staying with me over the summer so not to worry, there would still be an adult in the house). Unfortunately I went to bed (very) late and then woke up at 4:20 to a soft pounding on the walls which I thought was one of the kids, but turned out to be one of the dogs kicking the wall with his back paws while he was likely dreaming of running (ah, the irony). Alas, I did not get back to sleep until 5:30 and then slept in until 8:00. My early morning run window was closed by then so I needed a plan B… a treadmill workout wasn’t appealing to me but then… Lightbulb! I needed to go into work for an hour or two and told the kids if they were willing to go to work with me for a bit we’d stop by their school playground afterwards and they could play while I ran around the playground on the concrete track. They could play, I could run – we’d all be happy. So that is what we did. I logged my miles on a hot, 91 degree concrete track and then “worked out” on the playground equipment. Was it ideal for me? No. Would I have preferred a cool morning run and a workout in my air conditioned gym? Absolutely. I know there will come a day when my kids are doing their own thing and I’ll be able to get my runs in whenever and however I want, but until then I’ll just run like a mother.




July 25, 2014

Two years ago I planned on completing the Portland Tri but, for a variety of reasons, I didn’t do it. Fast forward to today and I am 57 days away from swimming, biking and running my way through the Portland Olympic Triathlon. I think I can complete it, though I’m honestly worried about the swim which is a ½ mile swim in the Willamette. The biking part doesn’t seem dangerous (just long) and the running part, well it’s running which is fun(ish). So, the swim is what’s hanging me up… there are certainly things I can do to prepare (besides the swim training itself). I need to buy a wetsuit. An actual triathlon wetsuit. Confession: I’ve used a water skiing wetsuit for every swim I’ve done in the past. Yes, it has kept me warm but I think the time has come to upgrade. I’m not quite sure where to start…

As for the Portland Marathon, well that is 71 days and 318.2 miles away. This will be my 4th Portland Marathon. I love this race, I really do. It isn’t the course I love, but rather that it’s here, at home, and completing it means something important to me…

Well with the countdown of days and miles looming ahead of me I have calendared my training schedule and hereby propose a toast (with my water bottle) to the fun of a good challenge!

Guess what happened when I Tri’d

So the purpose of this blog was document my goal to complete the Portland Triathlon and I am happy to report that last weekend I met that goal.  Okay, well truthfully the original goal was to do an Olympic triathlon but life rearranged some of my goals for me so I did the Sprint distance, but the revised goal (the Portland Triathlon) was met!

First, I have to thank my good friend, Leanne, who succumbed to my peer pressure and came over to do the race with me.  She was one of the last people to sign up for the race (literally) and I had to sweet talk the race director into letting me sign her up (she lives in Dufur) but she made it and she made my day!!!! Thank you my good, good friend!

On race day we (Leanne and I) were up at 5:00 am, dressed, packed and in the car by 5:40 am.  Despite the closure of the I-5 on ramp from the Morrison Bridge we made it to the venue with plenty of time to get body marked and watch the sun come up over Portland while we set up our transition spots. It was cold and the Willamette River looked cold and unwelcoming, but the energy at a triathlon is pretty fantastic, especially in the morning as everyone is setting up.

My heat started at 7:39 and Leanne’s started at 7:59  (she was doing the Olympic rather than the Sprint).  So we parted ways as I moved down the ramp and into the water. As I eased myself into the cold, dirty Willamette River I looked up at the St. Johns Bridge and thought how much nicer it is to run over it than swim underneath it.  With a few reminders from a race official to keep the buoys to our left we were off! My typical inner monologue when I start the swim part of any race goes something like this “yikes… @!$#… #$%%…!**!… !**!…#$%^&&**#!… “ Its definitely not a “G” rated monologue and it takes a good minute or two to get past it.  Then it evolves into something like this “you are not going to drown, put your face in the water and swim. You are not going to drown, put your face in the water and swim…” This instructive and less crude monologue repeats intermittently for most of the swim.  The race on Sunday was no different, though I did think a LOT about my running partners and us running over the bridge during the past two marathons and how funny it was to be under the bridge this time. With the swim over I emerged from the water with an uncontrollable need to pee… Why I didn’t do this in the water, I have no idea. Perhaps I didn’t want to get the Willamette River dirty…  I had to head to the outhouse in my wetsuit which made my transition time a little on the long side.  The bike ride was a “long” sprint ride. They are typically 12 miles and this was 16 miles. The only part of the ride I was unhappy with was the 18% ascent out of transition and the returning 18% descent back into transition.  The reason for my dislike in this part was that I was going so slow (both on the way up and down) that I thought I was going to tip over. T2 was smooth and I was off for the run! Back up the 18% grade hill, past the folks who were walking and over the St. Johns Bridge I went. The run was smooth and uneventful (just the way I like them).  As I crossed over the finish line at the end I felt good and happy to be done!

Leanne crossed the finish line about an hour after me – she had  a great race and finished strong! Watching her cross the finish line and cheering her on was almost as much fun as doing it myself. I am always so proud of my friends and she is an amazing athlete!

Later in the day I checked on my results:

Overall 222nd / 374                                       Women 61st/ 158             Women in my age group 12th/ 26

Swim: 23 min      T1 (potty break): 6 min                   Bike: 59 min        T2: 3 min             Run: 26 min

Here’s how things compare with other races – the swim was slow but I was swimming upstream for half of it and I usually swim with no current or with the current. The bike was great – I rode the same average speed as my best bike time yet, and the run was great – I usually clock 9:30s but I averaged 8:30s (min / mile) which is awesome! This was a great way to end the season.

I have a sticker in my office at work that reads “The miracle isn’t that I finished, the miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

Three and a half years ago a different friend, Jessica, told me she was doing a Triathlon and I asked if I could do it with her.  I Tri’d and you know where it led me? To a 5K, several 10Ks, two ½ marathons, an urban adventure race, a Spartan race, two marathons, Hood To Coast, and 5 sprint triathlons.  All in the past 3 ½ years… pretty cool… If I hadn’t tried that first triathlon I would never have gone on to do these other things.  The miracle isn’t that I finished, its that I had the courage to start, the courage to try!

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