Thursday, November 26, 2009


after the 87 mile ride with Judi on Sunday, i wasn't sure how the legs would cooperate for the race this morning. i mean, i felt great on the ride. i lifted weights and swam a little on Monday. I swam masters on Tuesday...

then, on Wednesday, I went out for an easy 7 miles. and my legs felt sooo heavy. at that point, i decided i would just have fun with the race. i had a previous, somewhat far-fetched goal of running in the 41 min range.

after dinner with mom and my niece and nephew Wednesday night, i got up Thursday morning to meet the Cincy Express folks at the local running store about 5 blocks from my place. We chatted a bit and ran over to the start. it was chilly, but i knew it'd heat up quickly once the run started.

we all corraled before the 7 min pace signs and waited for go time. there were almost 17,000 people registered, so even that close up, it took over a minute to get to the start. and then it was a mad house trying to run through the people running a 10 min pace. weaving in and out, i just went forward, through downtown Cincy. i hit the first mile around 6:50. the second was 13:14, the third, 20:17. i passed an old boyfriend from high school that just did IMKY who said he'd not done much of anything since then. (funny how IM training will do that to some people) I picked up a guy who wanted to pace off me. i'd seen him in the first mile. (dude, do you know i'm not the greatest pacer?)

from there on, i just relaxed. lately, i've just not had it in me to hurt too much. usually, i'm uber competitive, but the spark has left me. so, i just took it home, thinking about all the things i've got to be grateful for, particularly, sport and the people it's brought into my life.

i have amazing friends. and family. they all support me. they show up to races. they pick me up when i'm feeling down. they encourage me and always tell me how i inspire them. heck, i couldn't have gotten through this year without them. it wasn't so long ago, i thought this racing season was over. IMKY was a shadowy prospect. but it's turned out to be one of the most amazing seasons of my life.

and with all that, i got a new 10k PR. 42:19 (6:49 pace...looks like i didn't do so bad pacing after all :)). not blazing fast, but better than the past.

from there, i met a buddy for a swim. while he ran home to get his trunks, i warmed up with an easy 700 and then we set out to do 50x50, but we were cut short because the gym was closing. got in 38 of them though.

it was a beautiful day. thank you so much for all you do. i'm a very blessed girl

Saturday, November 21, 2009

sometimes, there's nothing better than...

...the sound of pebbles and fallen leaves crunch with every foot strike.
...hearing the sound of your own breath.
...sweating in 30 degree weather.
...the way the sun breaks through the trees, casting shadows on the dirt floor.
...the smell of deer piss early in the morning.
...running at your own pace.
...crossing a stream and not getting wet.
...falling and having no one else witness.
...watching deer watching you.
...seeing the steam rise off your shoulders.
...feeling that grumbling hunger in your belly.
...seeing the lake from 100 feet up.
...fearing you've lost your way and suddenly coming upon the trail head.
...running trails for two hours all alone and then meeting up with a friend to blaze some new ones.

Friday, November 20, 2009


 - My best friend from high school turns 30 today. This is scary to me. I registered for Triple T the other day, and it said my age is 30. WTF!? I'm closer to 29 than 30. I know that come Jan 1, according to USAT, I am 30, but I still have some time. Shit, that's scary. I still wear arm warmers and hoodies and skip around like a little kid. I like to stop at the playground and swing when out for a long run. Just a number...whatever.

- Sometimes, the drama in my family gives me a headache. For real.

- Tri Diesel totally inspired me with his post today. I think I'm going to do Great Floridian again. It's not a Kona qualifier. And there's no huge prize, but it's a well run race. And it's in Florida. And it doesn't really interfere with any of my other races. It will put next year's season at the same length as this years.

- I went out for lunch with the intention of purchasing new trail shoes. Instead, I bought a pair of bad ass boots. and a pair of cute flats. for work. not for the trails.

- I have no plans for tonight. It's Friday at 5pm and I have not a thing to do. That excites me some.

- What causes nightmares? I'm thinking this is why I'm feeling so tired during the day. I get awoken by them. I did some research. One place said it's just stress. Another said i'm mentally ill. Rob tells me it's just that I don't have four hours on my bike each day to commiserate over the shit in my head so it comes out at night. I like his theory.

- Someone brought their two pugs into work today. No less than seven coworkers tracked me down or called my desk to tell me. One was only 10 weeks old. It made me want another. I suppose this is what moms feel when they hold a baby again?

- Running trails with Brian tomorrow. Then coffee with Tom. Then Lauren's 30th party. Riding with Judi Sunday. oh How I love the weekend.

- But at least when I go to work on Monday, I'll be sportin' jeans. Yes, at a bank's corporate offices. Through the end of the year. It's the little things.

- I weighed myself at the gym yesterday. I rarely do this. Partly because I know when I'm packing on or losing weight. I know I've been eating what i want. I know I'm gaining a spare tire. and it's not the kind I carry on the back of my bike. But the number made it very clear that it's time for some off-season shedding.

- I have some super duper friends.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

active recovery

I've had a rough week. just training wise. apparently, my body is still adjusting. as is my mind. the whole idea of off season is rest abd recuperation so as to get refreshed and ready for the next season.

problem: i'm not so good at rest. i try. really. i do.

after a longish moderate run on saturday and then a longish ride on sunday, i decided to take it easy on monday. this included running the mile + to the gym, lifting weights and running back. THEN walking the five miles to work. and later walking the five miles home from work. i loved every minute of it. i ran into friends i hadn't seen in ages! downtown is bumpin' between the hours of 8 and 5:30.

tuesday, i got up and went to masters. i felt very flat. i just didn't really want to be there. after a 900 warm-up, the main set of 14x150 started. aaron moved me to the fastest lane. but as i moaned, he let me do it all freestyle while the others had to alternate free and back. i still struggled. i'd lost my mojo. ZERO competitive edge. when i crawled out of the pool after just one of the 5x100 pulls (and yes, 3k...and practice wasn't yet over!) aaron just said "you're exhausted". Yup! and i'm not even gonna lie and pretend i'm not. it's been a long hard season. he suggested i just do nothing until monday; that i take up knitting or something because i obviously need a hobby. and then said he'd not see me thursday, but he would next tues.

i came home from work last night and made candied pecans. and oreo truffles. and i got 8 hours of sleep.

i woke up feeling refreshed. all day, i was anxious. it was 50 degrees and drizzling. this is my absolute FAVORITE running weather. judi did the track work we were going to do together. i was so jealous.

i allowed myself the fantasy that if i were still feeling good after work that i could go run.

i got home from work and immediately stripped my boots and dress and donned a fleece and my IMKY hat. I headed out. slowly. i crossed the bridge and went through the park along the river. i sang along with my new playlist. i saw a couple rabbits ahead. and i didn't even chase them down. i let the natural progression of my footstrikes catch and then pass them. each time i caught myself inching faster, i eased up. i was at such peace. i was smiling.

an hour later, i was stretching on my front steps, barely having broken a sweat. through all this training, i'd forgotten how to get back to basics and practice active recovery. there was no intensity. there is no need for a massage. or compression tights. it was just getting back to running for the love of running. no gut-burning, i want to shit myself intervals. no i must go out at a 7:30 pace and negative split.

it finally clicked. and i am so happy. my legs are going to come back like i asked if i keep luring them in  with these easy sessions :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

The good stuff

I always find it strange how we look so forward to something that seems as though it will never get here...and then it's over and gone before we know it. I try, every day, to be in the moment, to enjoy each day we're given, to make it all it can be. And some days, that means cramming a lot in. This weekend, that's just what I did!

Friday evening began with picking up my weekend guest from the airport (for his first ever visit to Cincinnati!) and taking him for dinner and drinks at Cock'n'Bull. They have ridiculously addictive fries. Seriously. I usually don't even order them because they're that good. But, I knew we were going for a good hilly run in the morning, so I indulged. some.

Saturday morning began innocently enough. I thought we'd go for an easy hour run through Eden park so I could show him some sights and check out the views from atop the hill. This easy run ended up being rather moderate. And longer than expected. But we did stop to swing and race up a hill side (i got beat). It was just so gorgeous outside! Sunny and mid-60s. I didn't want the ru nto end. Until it did. And when it did. I just said "ok. i need a break" in one from training...

I made some brunch and after a quick shower and viewing pictures and talking, it was time for a stop in at my niece's 10th birthday party. And then back home for a walk down to Hofbrauhaus for the Cincy Express post season party...

I got to catch up with some friends and laugh over gargantuan beer. But we did call it an early night because there was a ride to be had Sunday morning with Judi. And my TT bike was still packed away. Good thing there was a Team USA bike mechanic in the house!

It was 49 degrees at 9:15am, which meant it would be warming up quite nicely...but down by the river at 50 degrees is still quite chilly. So the layers were in effect. 

Chad (bike mechanic) and I rode the 9 miles to Judi's where we were already stripping clothes. From there, Judi led us on an urban ride. And when I say "urban", we got a glimpse of all parts of the city, from the west side, to downtown and Over the Rhine (where a lot of drugs and crime occur), to the area near University of Cincinnati, to the parts of town inhabited by old money and the up and coming yuppies. We stopped at the infamous "Mushroom house" that was once inhabited by a design professor at UC to snap some pics.

We finally ended up at Dilly Deli, where Dominic works and had coffee awaiting us!

From there, we dropped down toward the regional airport and nearly got hit by a truck (which made Judi speed up and go after him...) and then to Eastern Avenue for a ride along the river back into town.

It ended up getting up to around 70 degrees. And it was sunny and beautiful. In the middle of November! Not that I'm complaining... It's been amazing. The whole weekend was moment after moment of laughter and smiles and sunshine and running and riding, food and friends and family and fun.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dear Legs,

If you want to come back, that'd be great...because I couldn't find you this morning. I know you were there the other day for our ride. Are you mad at me for not working you yesterday? Or did you not like that we did so many squats at cross fit and then went out for that ride? Or was it dancing that night? If you come back, I promise I'll take better care of you. I'll even massage you myself. And I'll start wearing the compression tights again after harder workouts. I won't just assume that you can go go go in the off season like you can during IM training. I miss you.

Your biggest fan

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Being productive

Over the weekend, I cleaned my entire apartment. Actually, I unpacked my apartment. I had been wanting to do this since I moved in, but instead, I swam. and biked. and ran. So, this past weekend, I finally opened the door of that scary spare bedroom where boxes were piled and shit was scattered. And I converted that room into a closet! It took me 16 hours, but at the end of the day, I had this...

I ran for an hour on Sunday.
On Monday, I went for a short run and lifted weights on my lunch hour.
Then I came home and shaved my head. Seriously.

Tuesday, I ventured to Masters practice. 4:30 am came so quickly! After a thorough warm-up, Coach Aaron asked how I was feeling. After a little grunt, he let us in on the workout: 14x100 on 1:25, 1 min rest, then 10x100 on 1:20 where we could use fins, if desired. After six, I stopped. He asked if I was ok..."um, i just need like two weeks where you don't kick my ass. i need a break." So I moved over to the 12x100 on 1:30 lane to finish that first half of the set then put the fins on and led the lane for the 100s on 1:20.

Tuesday evening, I was innocently cracked out on FB when I got a PM from the crossfit instructor in town...which led to me committing to my first session on Wednesday morning.

Bright (actually, it was dark) and early, I was up and on my way to get "Rainerized". Ha. We started with a couple stretches, squats, abs, back, a run around the parking lot...then to the WOD which was lots of squats, pull-ups and push-ups. Those pull-ups kicked. my. ass. And hour and a half later, my arms were still shaky.

But, I had a ride scheduled with Judi and Mary. So, I ate and pumped my tires and lubed my chain and geared up. It was cold and windy out there!

We all met at Judi's and rode down to the river and across the ferry to KY so we could cruise down Rte. 8. It was an absolutely gorgeous day outside! The leaves are all changing and farmland is still green. It was a great ride with great company. I'd forgotten just how much I love my road bike.

This morning, I skipped out on swim practice. Simply because I was tired. And there was a very cuddly, snoring pug in my bed that really didn't want to get up. And because I know that soon, I'll be in full swim, bike, run mode. And I don't want to wish I'd really taken advantage of the few short weeks I get as rest.

I've never quite felt like this before. I'm usually so ready to be training for something. Anything. Yes, there's the 10k on Thanksgiving. And there's a 5k here or there. And then the HOS 200 and then Triple T. I know training will resume soon...but frankly, it's just been a HARD year, moreso mentally than physically, and I just need a break.

So, I'm taking it. And I don't feel guilty.
Especially considering I got am email from coach E this morn saying training starts Mon.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

you know it's off season when...

 - you get to sleep in 'til 7 am.
 - you actually have to wait in line at the grocery store because you go during 'normal' hours
 - but that grocery bill is nearly cut in half!
 - you actually have time to walk the dog...other than as part of cool down.
 - you only have to do one load of laundry a week.
 - you only take one shower a day.
 - you get home from work and don't know what to do with your evening.
 - you get a whole new library of music.
 - you have time to cook. and clean. and spend time with friends who don't constantly swim, bike, run.
 - you actually have to watch your caffiene intake because you're no longer so tired by 8pm that it doesn't matter.
 - you finally understand why people have cable.
 - you eat whatever you want for lunch without concern of how it will affect your evening run.
 - you actually meet your friends for happy hour.
 - you're still awake when the first number on the clock turns to double digits.
 - your stripey tan lines start to fade.
 - you haven't consumed flavored syrup from a pouch in weeks!
 - and you don't panic when you see you only have three left in the pantry.
 - like the remainder of the population, your spandex is reserved for special occasions.
 - your bike is still packed in the box from your last race.
 - you don't sleep in compression tights four days a week.
 - you finally turn that spare bedroom into a walk-in closet.
 - you go out to eat and actually have food to take home.
 - you get give back a little and help at races.
 - but you still get a little twinge of race envy...

Friday, November 6, 2009

results...and what's next

Ok, so I finished th 3k swim, 80k bike and 20k run in 5:13.03, 18th of 38 in my AG. Middle of the pack. I will note that there were some wicked fast chicks in my AG though...first was 5th OA, ahead of many of the pros. But, as competitive as I can be at times, this race was really about participating. It was about doing the best that I could do and enjoying the experience, smiling along the race course, taking it all in...

And once it was all over, I was really grateful for some time off. And I still am. I'm going to masters practice and I'm running when Iwant. And I walked to and from work (about 5 miles each way) the other day.

I registered for Triple T  ( yesterday though. he he he... gotta start hill climbing soon. But for now, I'm enjoying the few weeks of rest that I have available to me :)

Here are just a couple more pics from Oz...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

...And onto the run

I ran into T2 and hit the second aisle...and saw number like 682, 624, 718. SHIT! I went down the wrong second aisle. We came in the opposite way we went I continued down the row of bikes and looped back around to my spot, wasting precious minutes.

Stripped the helmet, slipped on the zoots, grabbed a gel and headed out as quickly as possible into the heat.

It was blazin'! The sun was beating down. The typical breeze was stagnating. It was 32 degrees C. That's 90 for us folk. And we were running on blacktop. That always increases the temperature a couple degrees.

The run was also a four loop course. We'd been warned that it may be a little short. I can tell you, that after that first loop, I knew this was not the case. I ran, gel in hand, stopping at each aid station (I believe there were three) to take a sip of water and dump a cup over my head, onto my arms, down my neck. It was so hot. And my stomach was bloated. I was incredibly grateful for the snug fit of the fast skin uni. My legs felt really good though. And I kept trying to determine who was on what lap, who was ahead and who might be behind.

I headed into the crowd of spectators. I spotted dad and waved. I noticed he was snapping pics with his phone. Yeah, the camera battery died while i was on the bike, so unfortunately, no pics of the run except the pro ones. I heard some cheers for USA, the team manager told me to breath from my diaphragm. What a strange thing to remember. I told him I was bloated. He told me I was fine. I kept running.

I dumped a cup of ice down my top on that second loop and let it settle in my belly button before shoving it down my leg. I cheered for every USA suit I saw. Anything to keep my mind off the heat. Toward the end, I took in that gel. My tummy had settled. My fingers were still swollen, but I knew I wasn't going to pass out or puke, so I just kept the legs moving.

Time for lap three. This lap, I was determined to catch a couple of the girls I'd seen in front of me from the second lap (though I didn't know they'd only been on their first). It wasn't far into the third lap where I saw my bike motivator ("come on, USA. Push it, ok?") walking. yes, WALKING!!! I grabbed his arm. "Come on, run with me". And he came along. We kept a good tempo. "Where you from?" "Virginia, you?" "Cincinnati". Anything to keep his mind off the pain he was feeling. Then I got distracted and started cheering for some of the girls I'd met. "You're awfully joyful..." he said.

My response? "We're in Australia. Racing. And going into the last lap of the run. What's not to be joyful about?" and as we approached the next aid station, I added that I would be stopping to get some water. He stopped too. And when I began running again, he just said "wow. got get it, girl".

As I came into town for the last lap, I saw dad and waved and smiled and held up my finger and said "one more". the team manager looked at me this time and loudly say "Hey Amanda!" and then a bit more calm "Great race!". Then I saw the team bike mechanic at the turn around and said "hey, Chad! There better be a Guinness with my name on it tonight".

I stopped for a few jelly beans, some water, electrolytes on that last lap. A French guy I'd seen a few times on the bike passed me and said "Come on Lindsey, focus. Take it home". I tried. It felt like I was moving so slowly. My legs were beat up and the finish was so close. It was auto-pilot.

As I came into the final stretch, the Team manager handed me an American flag and said "nobody passes you now" so I took all I had left in me and ran as hard as I could to the finish. (seriously, check out the link and watch the video of me finishing. it's hilarious).

It wasn't a PR (or maybe it was since I've never raced this distance before?) but it was incredible to just be there racing with athletes from all over the world. SO many people had told me it would be "the trip of a lifetime" and I kinda thought it hogwash...but really, I lead a pretty charmed life. And it really was an experience of a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And then it came up...

So, I came out of the water feeling ok. My feet were a little chilled and I was in a bit of shock. I checked my watch...about 55 mins. I made the 800m run to T1. Official time turned out to be 56:17 for the 3k swim. Good enough for 7th fastest swim in my AG, which isn't incredible, but definitely good for a non-swimmer!

I got my wetsuit off, put the helmet, sunglasses, shoes on and ran out of transition. This was the first time I recall hearing screams for me. By first name. It was the team manager, doc and travel agent. I realized a bit too late...but once I did, I was a tad overwhelmed with emotion. It finally sunk in that I was across the world competing!

I mounted after the line and set out for loop one of four...

The wind was still pretty strong and I had taken in some gulps of salt water. I tried to stay with my typical routine of just taking in water for the first half hour of the bike. I felt thirsty, and i kept drinking...but then I'd want to burp...and a burning, salty, acidic vomit would come up. I'd swallow it back down and hope it would go away.

I hit the first loop around 36 mins, just a little over 20 mph. ANd that was where things got interesting. Bottle exchange on the left! We obviously had to ride on the left, pass on the right...but attempting the bottle exchange scared me. But I did it! And quickly filled my aero bottle and crunched back down for lap two.

It was time to start taking in some calories. My gut was refusing. I had a package of Clif Shot Bloks and i took a couple of those in. Again, wanted to belch and release some the bloat in my gut, but all that would surface was some stomach acid. Swallow it back down. I looked at my fingers. They were swollen. I worried a little, sipped some more water. The sun was beating on my back. I started to feel like "oh crap, there are another two loops after this". And then, one of the Aussies I met and had coffee with the day before came up from behind and smacked me on the ass. I screeched in shock. This was followed by another Aussie passing me, who looked over and said "Don't think i'll try that". Miraculously, my spirits were lifted!

I came around for lap three where I saw dad and the Team Manager, who told me to just work on picking them off. I was more concerned about working on getting in some calories. I was afraid I was going to fade.

But somehow, I kept it up. I ate a few more Shot Bloks. I remember, from running the mile in high school, that the third lap tends to be the most difficult to keep up the pace, so I just focused on spinning my legs, going hard into the wind (thanks to Coach E, who gave me this advice at IMKY) and staying relaxed with the wind to not burn out my legs.

Before I knew it, I was headed back into town, off the expressway and into the crowd. The shouting and cheers were incredibly uplifting. Around the turn for the last time and onto lap four...

I was so excited at the prospect of being nearly through with the bike. My arms were getting burnt. And my fingers were staying swollen. And I hadn't yet peed. But, I knew it would be just a short 35 mins before I'd be on my feet again.

It was just when I was imagining this that a male teammate came by and turns his head and says "Come on, USA! Push it! Ok?!" I took off after him. We headed back into town and i took in a gel and more water. I was still feeling bloated, but no longer nauseas. I knew I'd be ok. As I headed into transition, I glanced at my watch. I was under 2:30, so I'd held a 20 mph average on a super windy course. Good enough for me.

Now, time to see if my legs (and stomach) would hold up...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

And now, what you've all been waiting for...

Pre race:
The night before the race, we had a Team USA dinner. I think we all got chills when the team manager gave us the "you are representing the United States of America" speech. Very cool.

Race morning, I actually slept 'til 4am. I'd been getting up automatically at 3, so the extra hour was weird. I ate and had coffee and went to the bathroom and all that pre-race stuff. And then I began to panic. ITU has strict uniform rules and I could've sworn I'd seen something about the logos for wetsuits...I wanted to wear my sleeveless, but it's a Zoot and literally has a tramp stamp and all these swirly things on it, so I rushed over to the host hotel to question the team manager...and ran into the bike mechanic and chiropractor. They're both zen like, and were just like "well, if we see Tim, we'll ask him for you".

I found him, and to my relief, there are no regulations on wetsuits. I hadn't worn mine in months, so squeezing into it was, um...interesting. Dad and his buddy, Gary, met me down at transition before the race. I typically don't get nervous before races, but this one was different.

The Swim:
My wave was set to go off at 8:13. It was just the second non-elite wave. And it conatined all women 18-34 and 50+. I did a little warm-up run and went down to the water with my cap and goggles, handed off the flip flops to dad and got herded into the corral! This is where we got the warning of the wind. There were white caps in the water. Severe chop. We were warned that if we had a disk wheel on the bike to be VERY careful because the elites were having some issues on the the overpass with the cross winds.

We all waded/swam out to the start. Apparently, the officials blew the horn three times before we actually went. And even then, I'm not sure anyone heard it, but we saw the next wave coming into the water, so we went.

And it was cold! And rough. Although it was a river swim, it was salt water because the river dumps into the ocean not far away. Many of the girls were intimidated by the distance of the swim. This was not a HIM. It was a 2x Olympic race. That means a 3k swim. That didn't bother me. Neither did the jelly fish. Or the salt water. Or the waves and the chop. It was the other girls. The clawing and the kicking and the punching. I never like that part, so I tried to just keep my position and be just as rough without purposely hurting anyone.

The swim upstream was long. Stroke after stroke. Bobbing up and down with the waves, trying to sight and just looking for other blue caps, taking in gulps of sea water, brushing up against jelly fish. It was rough going, but soon, the turn around was in sight. So many times I've been to that point in the know the shortest part of your day is nearly over. And you know that soon, you'll be upright, riding that bike...but for now, it's time to power home on the swim.

The age group waves were beginning to blend together. We were catching those in front of us and a few from behind were passing us. That trek back to shore was refreshing. My feet were cold, but I felt as though the most difficult part of the day was over. Riding and running wouldn't be so bad after all that....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Welcome to the land of Oz!

Ok, so the trip started rather uneventfully...except that I did a plane side check with my bag in Cincy and they cracked my laptop screen (which was the first of many flights mishaps), so my Internet usage was limited to the little c-store down the street from the hotel and it was about $4 an hour. I have a lot of catching up to do, so we'll get right to it.

I arrived on Monday. I saw a Team USA jacket in the Sydney airport and introduced myself to Jeff. He's from Maine and as we're chatting, he mentions his friend who just did Hawaii.I figure it's a slim chance, but I ask if it happens to be Ange...and it is!!! Small world. Anyway, we got a cab to the hotel together...where I showered and crashed. For 14 hours.

Tuesday, I walked around the city and found a grocery store, where this cost me $55. And that was a steal compared to eating out.

I pretty much just walked around town and explored my surroundings, checked out the river...

the bike/run path...

the area where they were setting up transition and tents....

and assembled the bike and went for a ride...

 The sun was up by 5:30 every morning and I was up a couple hours before that. The mornings were cool and windy and the afternoons were toasty. I spent some time at the mall and did a lot of people watching. after a couple days, I started to feel like myself again and I got rid of the cankles...and then other Team USA peeps started rolling in and the irony began...