Friday, June 27, 2014

Friday Five Things About Me

It's Friday.  Two days until my longest race to date - the New England Trifest Olympic Triathlon in Vermont.  "What's that Miranda?  You're doing a race? You haven't mentioned it at all yet... we are surprised and totally dying to hear you fuss more about it before you just go off and do the darn thing already...."  Shush people.  For the love.  It's hard enough to live in my own head lately.  Which is why I'm jumping on the DC Trifecta's Friday Five this week in an effort to kill a few more minutes of taper-crazy time.....

This week's theme is Five Things About Me.  I'm going to assume no one really cares about five things related to me and my upcoming race, so I'll try to back up a bit and find some more interesting to share.

1)  I wrote, illustrated and published a children's book before I became a parent.  

And have done very little with it since.  It's the story of a baby duck who gets swept away from his family down a white water river, and the animals that help him along the way.  Teaches some natural history, self reliance, and is generally kinda cute.  My friend from graduate school and I got the idea while watching a family of ducks out in Lake Tahoe, around the time that she was getting her white water certification. The media of illustration is watercolor and pen & ink. You can still buy it on Amazon!

2) I lived in Australia for seven months

I studied abroad at James Cook University in Queensland during my senior year (I use the term "studied" loosely).  I did a lot of diving on the Great Barrier Reef, traveled a lot, and got to participate in a research trip in the bush.  On this trip, I found a Blue Tongued lizard subspecies several hundred miles outside its previously known range, which was very cool.  We also trapped bats, did all kind of bird and reptile trapping (and release), went spotlighting (nocturnal surveys of wildlife.  Kangaroo eyes shine in the dark!).  It was one of the best experiences of my life.

Not my photo.

3)  I love birdwatching

Call it a hangover from my wildlife grad school, or from growing up with my mother who's also an avid birder, but I love birds.  We have a ton of feeders in our yard, and my 5 year old son can identify at least 30 species by sight and some by call.  Both myself and my husband keep a Life List of all the birds we've ever seen.  I'd love to go to Costa Rica or Hawaii some day on one of those Audubon Society led tours.  I also have a tendency to call out any birds I see or hear to my workout buddies while we are running or biking.  Some like this, some roll their eyes.  Love my birds.

Photo: Wildlife is getting a little bold. Jamie and I sitting out on front lawn and this guy walks 10 feet from us!!
Turkey strolling by our feeder a few days ago

4)  Biggest fear - Dinosaurs

I'm putting this as past tense, because since taking on the sport of triathlon, I've gotten pretty good about facing fears.  But for a good 15 years after seeing Jurassic Park in middle school, I was petrified of all dinosaurs.  I'd have recurring nightmares about being chased by velociraptors.  When my son was born I honestly cringed buying him jammies with cartoon dinosaurs on them (another reason I've become desensitized).  Actually animals that aren't extinct like spiders, snakes, sharks... none of these bother me.  But dinosaurs?  Ugh shudder.......

This would get me running very fast...

5)  I'm a recovering band geek

Nope.  Make that just "Band geek". IN high school I played french horn, along with flute, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, and anything else I could get my hands on.  My music teacher was one of the most amazing human beings I've ever known.  After high school I played in the college band and considered a minor in music (biology proved too be too difficult to support a minor).  I've played in community orchestras throughout adulthood and am currently teaching my kids to play piano and can't wait until they are old enough to play an instrument regularly.  But not my French horn.  It's my baby - when I was 16 my parents gave me the choice of a horn or a car.  Best decision ever....

Never miss an opportunity to repost embarrassing
 throwback photos.  Me and my coach
at the marching band Halloween parade -
 I was the drum major (in costume as cheerleader).

There you have it.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yes He Can Braid Hair - It's Not Weird

There's a lot of articles zinging around cyberspace right now about "10 things never to say to parents of an only child" and "... to multi-child families", etc.  Cultural insensitivity is rampant, and we all (myself included) say and do stupid things when faced with other people's life choices.  Sometimes we don't even mean to be malicious - some stereotypes are woven into the fabric of our society, to the point that our reactions are almost involuntary.

As most of my readers know, I work full time (plus extra), and my husband stays home full time with the children.  Like many families in recent years, this was a conscious choice.  With two advanced degrees and a well established career in a [relatively] stable industry, my earning potential trumps his.  Furthermore, with several younger siblings and growing up in a home daycare run by his mother, my husband had much more experience with children when we became parents.  Add to the mix that his temperament is better suited to not working, and that the cost of daycare can easily swallow one parent's entire salary - it was an easy choice.

A choice that twice as many fathers are making in the last decade.  The number of stay at home dads has doubled in the last 15 years.  (Excellent summary here).  The number of male primary caregivers is now 16%, compared to 10% only 10 years ago.  Furthermore, while this increase has been partially fueled by job loss in the recession of 2008-2010, the ranks of stay at home dads are being disproportionally swelled by college-educated dads that choose to stay home, rather than are forced to by unemployment.

I would imagine that most people are nodding at this point (if you're still reading).  All makes sense, right? Especially where we live in a relatively liberal part of the country, the Jedi isn't the only dad on the playground.  I rarely ever get comments made to me about my choice to work outside the home (like I did even five years ago).  I don't often get accused of being an unnatural mother for working, nor does my husband feel particularly judged as less of a man for not bringing home the bacon.  Yet we still feel the bias against our family situation.

When my children were babies, my husband got a huge amount of unsolicited advice from people whenever he went out shopping, who (wrongly) assumed that he was a lost and confused dad sent out to the grocery store by his exhausted wife.  Now that the kids are older, he gets comments from moms who, after seeing him braid our daughter's waist-long blonde hair, tell him that its amazing he can do her hair because their husbands can't even do a ponytail.  Really?  Is the bar for fatherhood so low that the ability to do a simple braid elevates a man to praise-worthy status?  Such that it warrants comments from strangers?

My husband likens this particular variety of condescension to the discrimination women face in the workplace.  The parenting abilities of stay at home fathers (or fathers in general!) are often assumed to be less than their female counterparts, simply by virtue of their gender.  Even when it is their primary profession.  

Maybe they were right.  Look what happened to them....

Overall though, the biggest obstacle we feel as a family is "the weirdness factor".  Although the movie When Harry Met Sally clearly states that a man and a woman can be friends if they are both married, my husband does not feel comfortable soliciting plans for playdates or other social situations from the moms of my kids friends, if I'm not there to chaperone.  Not because he is some sort of predator looking to seduce the Wisteria Lane housewives, but "it just feels weird to ask".  Likewise, my female friends confirm that it would "feel weird" to have the Jedi and my kids over in my absence.  I can't blame them, though I wish it were different.  It does, however, leave me in the awkward role of social coordinator - squeezing in events with certain friends only on weekends, when I can take vacation, or worse - never.  Which is too bad, because it ends up being the kids that miss out on seeing their friends.

So what about the other stay at home dad families, you ask?  Good question.  Unfortunately, another social stereotype proves true in this case - men generally aren't as gregarious as women.  I'm very sure that in most cases, my husband's included, the gene to plan social events resided firmly on that second X chromosome.  The Jedi is fabulous about taking the kids out for events and activities in the area.  By virtue of a small town and my kids being in preschool and elementary, it's almost inevitable that they run into some kid they know from somewhere.  Thus a playdate coalesces, with no planning required.  That works fine.

As I sit my computer screen at work, the summer pastimes roll by in my newsfeed.  Pool dates, trips to berry pick, beach afternoons and hiking outings.  I'm often painfully conscious of what I miss.  (Just as my husband, like any stay at home parent, is painfully jealous of my quiet cube with free coffee).  I wonder if it occurred to my friends to include my kids, or if it was dismissed because I work and thus my kids are unavailable, even as they sit at home during the day.  I wistfully think that I'll have to try to get the kids out to X location on the weekend.  Or I think that I should make my husband a Facebook account and somehow manually connect him to the other couple of SAHDs I know are out there in our area.  Sadly, forcing anything in a social situation rarely works.  This is a no-fault situation. 

Maybe When Harry Met Sally will have a sequel that will show our culture how to be more modern on our thinking and our reactions about "reverse-breadwinner" families.  That would help alleviate the "weirdness" factor.  I hope so.  Realistically, cultural acceptance of gender roles is woven deep into all of us, and it's not likely to change before my kids are too old to need parent-supervised playdates.  So we'll keep on looking for friends at the library and the grocery store, on the playground and at the park.  The beauty of kids is that they makes friends wherever they go.

But don't be that impressed if you see my husband braid hair.  Or if you are, imagine what you'd feel like as mom if someone remarked on your ability to do so.  It's not weird.  It's being a parent.

Shake Your Pom Poms

This past weekend I got to do a lot of cheering.  Not only was my coach Anthony and fellow triathlon blogger Courtney from The TriGirl Chronicles crushing IM Syracuse 70.3, but my kids raced in their first obstacle race.  The Extreme Field Day for Kids is a race series that put on Warrior Dash-like events for the younger set.  Not only that, but the race was being held at Wachusett Mountain, our nearby ski resort.  Also the place that we got married nearly 9 years ago. Jumping ahead - after the race we rode the chairlift to the top and then hiked the short hiking trail up to the summit.  This picture is us on our wedding day, then our munchkins running up the same trail.  Pretty cool.

The event itself was great. Very well organized, with lots of goodies (included Yasso Frozen Yogurt bars - yum!) available to reward the little racers and their parents.  Gypsy also brought her gang, so my two and her oldest three all ran in various heats.  They had the kids do jumping jacks, knee touches, and generally goof around in the moment before each wave went off, which I think helped dispel some of the anxiety the kids were feeling.


I was really impressed with the way my little guy attacked the rope climb and the mud pit.  He was not messing around.  He was in the Cubs heat, so he ran a total of 0.5 mile.  His sister was in the Tigers heat, so after doing about half of the obstacles she was sent to run up and around the lift to make her total distance a mile.  The older kids would run all the way around the lodge for 1.5 miles.  The obstacles were all kid-challenging but kid-appropriate.  Parents (myself included) were called in to help on a couple of tricky spots, but overall everyone seemed to have a great time.

Over the barricade

My little guy in is the white shirt and brown striped shorts.
Attacked that rope climb!

Through the rainbow tires

My little girl (orange) jumps over
If the Extreme Field Day series comes anywhere near you and you have little ones, I would totally recommend signing them up.  It was a ton a fun, a great confidence builder.... and come on.  What kids doesn't really want to jump in a mud pit??

Podium finish!!!

 In other awesome kid-related news, Hummingbird (left) and I spent chunks of the past week and then most of Saturday making this Marvel superheroes cake for a little boy's sixth birthday.  We donated the cake through Cakes Against Cancer for Kids, a nonprofit that connects bakers and children fighting illness in order to provide a special designer cake for their birthdays or other special occasion.  It was a lot of fun to make, and the first time that Hummingbird and I have worked together on a large project.  She got to deliver it (I was at the race with kids), but she said the little guy adored it!  Success!

This coming weekend, it's my turn again to race.  Gypsy, Gill and I are headed north to Fairlee Vermont for the New England Trifest, sponsored by Sun Multisports.  The weather looks great, and I'll have some great friends by my side.  All that said, I do have a certain amount of nerves about the event.  It will be my first Olympic distance triathlon, and I have some concerns about nutrition and the run.  I've not been able to run continuously since I started back after my cortisone shot a few weeks back - the most I've managed in 5 miles doing 4:1 intervals.  So that part could be interesting.  I have some nerves about crashing my bike, since a good friend bit it at the Patriot 70.3 two weeks ago, and Anthony did this past weekend at IM Syracuse (they are both more or less ok.  But still).

Actually the former friend that crashed turned into a really sweet story.  She hurt her shoulder, but finished the bike and did the whole half-marathon anyway for a strong finish.  After the race, another triathlete in our community organized a secret fund - her students (she is a personal trainer), teammates, and fellow triathletes all chipped in to cover the cost of the ER, her bike repair, and of course a new helmet.  That is one thing I really like about the triathlon community.  You never know who you are inspiring, and people really do join together to help each other.  Very cool for what is, by its nature, a pretty competitive sport!

My next post will be a race recap!  Fingers crossed - I'll be in the water by 7:30 am on Sunday!!!

What should Jedi and I do for my anniversary??

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TriTalk Tuesday - Open Water Swimming

Happy Tuesday everyone.  It's really getting into the summer.  Hard to believe we are dealing with 80 degrees days, too many bugbites, and sunburns after the seemingly un-ending winter we had in New England (and across the country).  But summer it is, and with the warm weather comes the much-anticipated Open Water Swimming Season.  We've chosen OWS as our topic for today, so along with Courtney and Cynthia, if you have a blog on the subject link it up below!

I talked a lot about techniques and tips for open water in our first TriTalk post, The Swim.  Rather than to reiterate them (other than to again take the opportunity to say NEVER SWIM ALONE!), I'd like to share my thoughts and experiences so for this training season.

I've done 5-6 open water practices since mid-May.  Yes, those first few ones were in very cold water and were short.  In fact, I've hardly been in the pool at all in the last few weeks.  When I do swim, I swim outside.  Why?

I really enjoy open water swimming.

I grew up in upstate New York.  It was about a three hour drive to any ocean.  Summertime for me was long days at Greenwood Park, the local lake beach near our home.  The feel of mud between my toes, the cool lake water, eating sandwiches on the gritty beach and begging my parents for popsicles from the snack stand.

My childhood stomping ground

I'm sure it the time of year and the fact that my own family is on summer break, but I'm feeling very nostalgic for those summer days.  I learned to swim at a similar camping ground lake.  Now my kids spend days at similar parks, and it brings it back.  These parks are also where me and my training partners do the majority of our open water swimming.  We even brought the kids along and parked them on the beach once with the Dads while the mommies swam:

My swim coach Gill started out our Total Immersion class with a comment that swimming is a very sensual experience.  It is.  The feel of the water on your entire body.  Being supported by it.  Water moving around you. Add in the open water portion and you have (to me), a very calming and fun experience.  My most recent OWS was last week.  I had had a killer stressful day at work, my husband was sick, and I was deeply frazzled.  I met Gill and Gypsy at the lake for a swim.  Gypsy was also pretty wound up with her own trying day.  We were a bundle of nerves.

When we got in the water, it all melted away.  It was a beautiful evening.  Clear and warm.  We swam, enjoying the peace and quiet of the lake.  Just a few fishing boats.  By the end of the swim we were giggling (not Gill - would not suggest that a man giggles) and chatting at our stops.  Even Gypsy, who is as critter- and icky mud- phobic a swimmer as I've met.  We came out feeling much calmer and centered.

New stomping ground: Photo credit Gill
Fun to swim outside the buoys!!  
There are a ton of blogs and articles out there about conquering fear of the open water.  I get it.  I do.  But the next time you are out swimming in a lake (or ocean, or river - wherever you train), I challenge you to remember back to being a kid.  Back when you had no fear.  When you still thought worms were cool.  To summer days spent swimming and splashing.  And have fun.  Yes, your pace is important, as is sighting and many other skills for triathlon, but...

 if you aren't having fun.... why are you out there in the first place??

Happy swimming everyone!!  Next week we'll be getting back into the technical and talking about swimming gadgets, aids, tools, gismos, etc....

Friday, June 20, 2014

School's out!

It's summer vacation!!!  

Well, that is, it's summer vacation for everyone but me.  But that's ok - a break from the endless backpack packings, dance recitals, games, and remembering which day my daughter is supposed to wear silly socks is welcome.  The last few weeks have been extremely hectic (hence me dropping this week's TriTalk Tuesday post - sorry all!).  To make the end of school hustle even worse, my work scheduled all-day business meetings the last 2 weeks.  My husband has been felled with killer poison ivy, so lots of extra house stuff is on my shoulders.  Aaaaand I was finishing up my last big workouts before the New England Trifest Oly next weekend.  Whew.
Saturday - 18 mile bike and 4 mile brick run w Gypsy
Sunday - 3.5 mile run with kids in jogging stroller (best I could do Jedi was sick)
Monday - 1.1 mile open water swim with Gypsy and Gil
Tuesday - 5 mile run with every mosquito in the world
Wednesday - 25 mile bike with Gypsy, a porcupine, and a coyote (really!)

My helper at work today
 On the athlete front - I'm good.  Hip is okayish, if I can just get rested and hydrated I'll be ready for the race.  On the life side... well.  Yeah.  Jedi is having a tough time so I've been doing double duty at work/kids/cooking etc.

I have a tendency to overdo things.  To push too hard, and do too much.  Across the board.  So with the start of summer, I'm really feeling the urge to pull back.  To let this blog go a bit (so apologies in advance if I'm quiet).  To put up the kiddie pool, stock up on popsicles (the cheap HFCS kind), feed my kids hot dogs for as many nights as they will stand it.  No summer camps.  No plans.  Just a hammock, a pool or sprinkler, some books, and summer.

I will not make special organic home-made popsicles.  The summer reading list is on the fridge - a library card will be a primary source of entertainment.  Roasting marshmallows and camping in the yard.  I will take my kids berry picking, but only when we feel like it.  Hiking will be ad hoc.  I may even toss my last Oly of the season and throw myself out to my girlfriends as a tag-along for their training plans (since they've suffered through so many of mine).

Because isn't that was summer is for???

Sadly my hammock broke right after I took this picture.
So that's one goal - go to hardware store and fix hammock!

What are your summer plans??

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

TriTalk Tuesday: Training / Life Balance

This week's TriTalk Tuesday link-up topic is hysterical.  Training / Life balance.  Not because it's not serious, but because all three of us (Me, Courtney and Cynthia) are all struggling to write about it.  Why?  Because our jobs, our training, our families, and our LIVES are all getting in the way of blogging time!!  I actually told the girls I was going to opt out of this week entirely, but then decided the irony in doing so was just too much.

So let's talk about it.  The balance.  The struggle.  The guilt.  The commitments.  I usually call this Life Tetris, because that's what it feels like - trying to get all the blocks to fit together when they just keep coming faster and faster.  I could give you a hit list of my favorite multi-tasking life "hacks" and how to get it all done, giving the impression that I am Superwoman and never miss a deadline, have last night's dishes in my sink or cut a workout short.  However I think there's enough of that disingenuous drivel out in cyberworld to make all of us feel unnecessarily crummy enough about ourselves already.  Instead I want to talk about how to put this game of tetris in context.

First off, the notion of Anything/Life balance is misleading, because it implies that the "thing" is somehow separate from the rest of your life.  "Work/Life Balance" implies that your job is your job and should be turned off like a switch outside working hours.  No coming home exhausted and cranky after a nine hour board meeting.  No sir.  The phrase "Training/ Life Balance" has similar implications.  In other words, that we should be able to consistently awake at o' dark thirty, do a three hour workout and then continue with our day with no ripple effects.  Dum dee dum dee dum.  No fatigue or consequences here.  Riiiiiight........

There is no "Whatever/Life Balance".  There is just Life.  You get to pick how to live it, and how to feel about it.

So listen.  I love nothing better in the world than to beat myself up.  I work full time, and have at any moment between one and four part-time jobs on top of that (right now that number is three, for those keeping track).  I have two getting-less-small-every-second children, whose extra-curricular activities alone would keep a small army of parents busy.  Doubly so if those parents tried to worry about feeding them all natural meals, instilling perfect manners and moral compasses, and volunteering at all school functions.  

Tonight I attended the end-of-the-year pizza party for my daughter's scout troop.  When the thank-you awards time came around, I was quite literally the only mother in the room not thanked for helping.  Because I didn't.  Not a meeting, not a field trip - not a thing.  Could I feel bad about this?  You betcha.  There's always something to feel bad about....

I also like to make lists.  And schedules.  I love Training Peaks, and my coach has had to remind me on several occasions that my TP schedule is editable, that the little boxes can move and be modified and deleted, and should not be used as a bludgeon, flail, or other implement of torture.

Because that is what guilt is.  Imposed self-torture.  Mommy guilt.  Bad employee guilt.  Bad triathlete guilt.  Bad blogger guilt?  (Now that's a ridiculous category).  Lists and schedules and training plans are great, but life happens, and you must be able to allow it to happen or you will drive yourself crazy.

My coach wrote this to me in an email last week (during one of my life/injury/training plan freakouts).  I thought it was a really powerful statement, and has kind of become a mantra since.  Can you have a mantra after only a week?  

"Outside factors ebb and flow.  Sometimes they interfere but sometimes they let you train nicely.  Right now you are being interfered with.  So don't sweat [your training]"

Yes, that is my coach telling me to chill out three weeks before my first Oly distance race.  (You can totally tell he was an English major in college.  "Ebb and flow!"  Love it.)  When I have to work late, I am being interfered with.  When my son is wrapped around my leg imploring me to not leave for the ride I planned with my training partner, I am being interfered with.  That is ok - because there will also be moments when I'm not.  Like this weekend, when I did manage to seize opportunities to put in three really strong workouts toward my Oly.  Remaining calm, open minded, and flexible is key.  (I can actually hear my coach, my mom, and several friends rolling their eyes as they read that last sentence, since I'm rarely any of those things.  Hey - I'm trying to learn here!!!)

Unless you are a professional, triathlon is supposed to be fun.  It's supposed to enhance your life, not stress you out more.  If it's not fun, chances are you're not doing it right.  I'm not saying that every minute will be fun. Some workouts don't feel good, getting up early is just painful, and you are going to have bad days.  But overall it should be a plus, not a detriment.  Hmm... I think those are actually my coach's words too.... 

See what I did there?  

Contrary to Yoda and every inspirational saying ever pinned on Pinterest, triathlon and life aren't black and white.  There's no such thing as do or don't do.  You don't have control over everything.  There's no such thing as a ten minute ab workout that will give you a washboard stomach in six weeks.  No one actually makes all those natural organic perfect recipes for their angelic gourmand children seven nights a week.  And a week where you actually hit all your workouts in any training plan is a rarity (if you're at all like me).  Embrace it.  The more you can be flexible and loving towards yourself, to seek out activities you truly enjoy, and be grateful and joyful in your training, the less you'll think about "Training/Life Balance".  

It'll just be called "Life".

My life this weekend?  

  • Friday - Work.  Brick workout with the kids in the trail-a-bikes.  15 mile ride, 1 mile run.  Graduation cake for customer
  • Saturday  - one-mile open water swim in 45 minutes.  Teeball game.  Giant rocket ship cake for my son's party.
  • Sunday - 30 mile bike ride with Gypsy.  Just over 2 hours.  Party prep.  Rocketship party for one very happy little dude.  Balance that!!!

Next week's topic, in honor of Courtney's IMCuze 70.3, will be Tapering.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Friday Five - Five Things I'll Do This Summer


Five Things I'll Do This Summer

1.  Volunteer at a race

I've yet to do this, and I think it would be a great experience.  My swim coach Gill asked if I'd be a swim angel at a race in early September.  Now that I'm so much more comfortable in the water, I think it's be amazing to help others who are where I was a year ago.

2.  Hike more

The kids legs are getting longer, and after the last couple of years where they've been too big to carry and yet to small to cover any reasonable distance, I think it's time.  My little girl really wants to try backpacking.  I might take her for an overnight on the MidState Trail at some point this summer.

3.  Log more time in the hammock

Seriously.  This is real goal.  I got this bad boy for Mother's Day last year.  Guess how many times I've used it?  Hint - fingers of one hand.  Guess how many times my kids have used it?  Many more....  I really, truly need to relearn how to slow down and enjoy down time.

4.  Make time for bike dates

My husband and I both really like to ride.  Last summer we had the luxury of a regular babysitter every Wednesday night.  Those were some of the best weeks we've had in years.  We rode to the top of Mt. Wachusett on our anniversary and took photos in the same spot that we were married 8 years before.  It was really nice.  I need to work on finding another regular babysitter to make nights like this happen again.  Any takers???

5.  Spectate IronMan Lake Placid!

I'm actually really excited about this one.  Instead of our usual family vacation destination, I convince my family to go to Lake Placid to watch my coach take on IMLP!  Sheriff and I are old friends from childhood, so I also convinced a few of our other high school friends to come up for a long weekend.  A little mini high school reunion.  It's a beautiful area - I'm looking forward to hiking with the kids, reconnecting with old friends, and supporting my coach.  I suppose the weekend will be a little less restful for him, what with the race.... but it should be amazing to watch!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Race Recap - Greendale Sprint Triathlon

This Sunday marked the start of triathlon season!  Whoot whoot!  My first race of the year was the Greendale Sprint Triathlon.  This was a particular fun race, because it was held at my gym.  In the lake that I do most of my open water practice in.  With all my friends.  Overall a great day, with results I was not at all expecting.

The week leading up to the race was not spectacular from a training perspective.  I got a cortisone shot in my hip last Thursday and was on enforced rest since.  So aside from some yoga, mostly rest.  By rest, of course, I also mean my crazy life schedule of kid activities and work commitments.  I just wrote a post on pre-race jitters - needless to say I didn't have any time to even get nervous about this race.  Moreover the doctor had told me to take it easy on the race (no PRs, please), and I had already switched my entry to a relay, with my friend Spark's wicked fast sister taking over the running leg for me.  My biggest goal was just to have fun!

Most of my concern was logistical.  My runner was also watching Spark's 3 year old son at the race, which meant that I need to bring my gang and the Jedi along to take over childcare for Spark Jr. once I came into T2.  Can you have children in transition?  Not sure....  While I love having my family there to cheer for me, the little circus that is my kiddos does invariably make things more complicated.

I also had never done a triathlon as a relay before, and wasn't quite sure how all that worked.  Plus packing with weird, and setting up my prep transition felt funny as well, since I didn't have anything running-related to remember.

Night before transition setup/packing.  Kitty mandatory

Morning of, I needn't have worried.  The Jedi's packing and prep is thorough that he had the kids dressed and in the car as I was still blinking sleep out of my eyes.  He even brewed my coffee and then put it in the car to get me to hurry up and get a good transition spot (which turned out to not be necessary since they were assigned by bib number).  I got set up, got drawn on, and had a good amount of time to take photos with friends.  Plus a random stranger wearing a "Running Sucks" tshirt that I just HAD to document.

Spark, me and Hummingbird ready to go!
Running does suck.....

The Swim: 1/2 mile in 17:31

I was very excited to test out my new Total Immersion skills in a race for open water.  I even used my tempo trainer (it's like a metronome in your cap) to keep me calm and focused, with steady pacing.  One of the common drills I do in the pool is to vary the pace on my tempo trainer, while making sure to maintain my stroke per length count.  Faster tempo with same SPL = faster swimmer.  

My TI skills did not disappoint.  I was calm and steady the entire swim.  My only complaint was that one leg of the "square" we were swimming was stright into the sun, and for the life of me I couldn't even see the buoy.  So I just kind of followed along.  I also had the new experience of bumping into several swimmers as I passed them.  I definitely hit a few feet and even a couple of bums - it's hard to apologize while swimming.  I exited the water feeling great and like I could have swam quite a bit longer.

Coming out of the swim was my favorite moment of the whole race.  My kids were right there at the swim exit.  From there you have to run up a short ramp and into the transition area.  My kids ran the whole length with me, yelling "Go Mommy Go!!!" while several other spectators said "Aww!  Look at that!" and similar expressions of cuteness.  I loved having my little cheerleaders to run me up!

Swim out

Transition 1: 1:52

Transition was uneventful.  I had a bit of a wardrobe change from my usual trikit - choosing to race in a sports bra and then throw over my favorite cycling jersey for the bike leg.  I can only attribute my relatively quick transition time to practice and getting more comfortable with racing.

The Bike: 16.5 in 1:00:32

I'd ridden the bike course a week prior (again, the advantages of a home-town race!) and was pretty familiar with it.  Moreover, a big portion of the course overlaps the Monday night group rides I often do as training, so I was feeling good.   Despite the doctor's admonitions to take it easy, my hip felt great.  There were a lot of turns on the course, but they were all very well manned, so I was able to keep my speed well above 16 mph for most sections.  The course was more or less a gradual climb up for the first half, then a nice fun downhill and some rollers at the end.  I was flying.  It was gorgeous weather, I felt great.  I went for it.  Towards the end I realized I might be about to bring it in under an hour, so I sprinted.  I came in so fast that my husband barely got a picture of me.  I came into T2 about 5-10 minutes before I'd told my runner to expect me, and yelled for her as I crossed the timing mat, since she was down the far end chatting.  Turns out I missed the hour mark by a few seconds.  But still.  I walked over to where my husband and kids were, and he told me that I was one of the first 10-20 women in on the bike. Really?

Coming in hot

T2: 19 seconds.  Much faster for a relay!  Chest bump and go!

The Run (not me): 2.5 miles in 19:10

Before the race my swim coach Gil, who was racked near me, asked if I was feeling disappointed about not running.  I answered honestly no - not even a little bit.  Especially since my runner did a lightening-fast 7:40/mile pace!  She was back before I missed her.  I ran with her the last 1/2 mile or so to the finish.  She still left me in the dust, but I was happy to run with no pain!

Total time for our Relay Team: 1:39:25

While they don't mix your scores in with the age groupers when you do a relay, if I had been, I would have been 3rd in my AG for the swim and 4th for the bike leg.  I was also the 12th female overall on the bike leg.  That feels pretty darn good.

All my friends did well, with my swim coach Gill winning the relay division, friend and coach Jill taking 1st for her age group, and Hummingbird and Spark putting in excellent times as well.

At the finish - Hummingbird, me, Gill, and Jill

I feel like this was an excellent start to the tri season.  That truthfully came out of nowhere, since I've had a lot of health issues and life conflicts in the last month.  I'm looking forward now to the New England TriFest Olympic distance triathlon at the end of the month.  Just keep swimming, try to keep my bike legs strong, and even maybe get my running legs back a bit.  I've started the Galloway-style run/walk intervals to get moving again.  Ironically, the day after the race (yesterday), I ran/walked 2.5 for myself.  So who knows how the next one will go? 

My coach Sheriff asked me what I attributed my performance to.  In the swim - definitely the hours in the pool and the Total Immersion training.  On the bike... honestly those few days of rest!  I know that many taper while still working out... I seem to do the best with a few days completely off in the days before a race.  More rest!  Magical.....  

Photo: Cortisone is working. Walk/ran 2.5 miles of 3:1 intervals at lunch. Beautiful day!!  Fading race tats- irony of having a runner do the 2.5 run leg for me just yesterday!  Still I'll take it.
Irony - 2.5 miles day after race!

This race definitely stands out as one of the most fun I've ever done.  Good clean tri fun with all my buddies.  What more can you ask for??

TriTalk Tuesday - Pre-Race Anxiety

Happy Tuesday!  I can never quite get used to how fast this day creeps up.  If you're looking for previous TriTalk topics, check out the new snazzy page at the top of my blog.  It has links to all our previous topics.  Each post retains all the linked posts as well, so think of it as a blogger's library for all the topics we've covered.

I had an amazing weekend at the Greendale Sprint Triathlon, my first triathlon of the season, this past weekend and the buzz still hasn't (quite) worn off.  I do promise a race report soon.  In the meantime, we'll back up to the week prior to talk about this week's link-up topic with You Signed Up for What? and The Trigirl Chronicles:

Pre-Race Anxiety / Jitters

I have to do WHAT??????

Finally, a subject I'm an expert on!  Not pre-race specifically, since I've only been racing for a couple of years.  But anxiety in general - yeah I have that covered.  I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in my adolescence.  My mom tells me I had my first panic attack when I was 18 months old.  So I've been dealing that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach and the fist around your chest for years.  Old friends... me and anxiety....

This weekend's race was also the first race for a few of my friends (I'm slowly converting all of my runner girlfriends into triathletes <<evil cackle>>), so in addition to my own pre-race queasiness, I fielded a lot of questions from my (understandable) nervous buddies.  My IPhone was chirping near constantly the day before the race.  I'll share with you all the same suggestions I told them, and tell myself when I start to come undone in the days before a race.
  • Trust your training.  Listen - you've worked really hard for this.  All those hours on the road, in the pool, and on the trainer?  The race is your victory.  The hay is in the barn.  Didn't train as much as you wanted?  No one ever does.  It's ok.  Whatever is going to happen race day is going to happen - it's already out of your control.  Trust your body and all the hard work you've put into it.  

  • Rest.  See the above - this is not like cramming for your finals in college.  It takes a week to ten days for any training you do to "sink in" and benefit your body.  So don't think you can squeeze in a few last big workouts to get ready.  It will do you no good.  This is doubly difficult, because for many of us, exercise is how we deal with stress.  This morning I wrote an email to my coach telling him I was horribly overwhelmed and couldn't possibly train for my Oly in 4 weeks.  Then I immediate went out on a run to calm down.  It makes no sense.  I get it.  Resist the urge.

  • Divert yourself.  Remember all those hobbies you had before triathlon swallowed your life?  And those friends who you don't see anymore because they don't like to run around in spandex before drinking their wine?  Now is the perfect time to reconnect with them and gain a little perspective.  Go for a hike, knit something, go dancing.  Have a girls night and let you non-triathlete friends remind you that you are actually pretty darn awesome (just don't talk about your race the entire time or they won't invite you out again).  There is an entire world out there that isn't triathlon.  Go find it.

  • Lower your biological stress level.  Yoga.  Meditation.  Walks in nature.  Listening to relaxing music.  Aromatherapy.  Massage.  Engage in activities that lower your heart-rate and your brain speed.  (Note: drinking lots of wine does not fall into this category.  Again, resist the urge.  Dehydrating yourself isn't a good taper strategy.  But if you must have a glass here or there, enjoy!)

  • Focus on the positive.  Your mind is a powerful tool.  Is is far too easy to allow your mind to focus on all the negatives.  The bad things that could happen.  The workouts you missed.  What you think your faults are.  The more time you think about these, the more you will convince yourself you're going to have a bad race.  And then guess what?  You will.  (This also applies to after your race. Focus on what went well instead of picking at what didn't.  Speaking from recent experience).  I like to practice visualizing myself having a really great race.  It doesn't always work, but reminding myself of my good workouts, my strengths, and visualizing myself crossing the finish line smiling is part of my race prep.

Wishing everyone calm taper weeks and race mornings!

Do you talk triathlon on your blog? Link up with You Signed Up For WHAT?!The Cupcake Triathlete, and The TriGirl Chronicles on Tuesdays for Tri Talk! We’ll discover a new theme each week and talk about triathlon training, tips, and general chatter. Be sure to link to your specific post and not a general link to your blog so that your post can be found in the linkup archives. Links not triathlon-related will be deleted.  Next week's topic will be Training/Life Balance.