Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Did It

Well, August 21 had the audacity to march its sassy little self right up on the calendar and there wasn't much I could do about it. A triathlon--who, me? Now, that's just a bunch of crazy talk! But there August 21 sat on my calendar, smugly waiting to see if I'd feign illness or simply bury my head under the pillow until leisurely, comfortable August 22 rolled around.

Doesn't the bible say something about it being a sin to get up and head to an athletic event before the sun has risen? There I was, driving to the Aurora Reservoir with everything I'd need to (hopefully) survive the day--swim gear, bike gear, running gear...and my mom, who was kind enough to fly in for the weekend to witness this momentous occasion.

I felt a bit like the new girl in school who had just moved into town a day earlier as I awkwardly got my bike and gear out of the car and made my way to the transition area, pretending like I did this sort of thing all the time. It would have been much more fun to have a friend doing the tri as well (no guilt intended, Summer!), but I couldn't rally any troops.  
Once my arm was marked with my bib number and my wetsuit was on, though, I didn't have all that much time to fret.  Like the possibility I'd start too fast and burn out, unable to finish the race.  Or the fact that merely a month earlier after my swim race in the testing-the-waters relay tri I was completely exhausted and never would have been able to bike, let alone bike and run.  hahahahahaha, a 5k?  I hate running.  Anyway, I was suddenly at the water's edge and it was Go Time.

Triathlon times are broken down into the following categories: swim, transition #1, bike, transition #2, and run.  In the interest of full disclosure, I'll include my times for the race.  Don't judge; it was my first race!
The 500m swim is short for a sprint triathlon; typically it's 750m.  Although I didn't feel particularly fast in the water, I felt fine coming up on the sand and in the picture you can see I'm already reaching behind for the cord to unzip the wetsuit.  Thanks to the handy wetsuit strippers, I got out of that suit in no time.  Underneath, I was wearing the DeSoto Carrera Tri Capri shorts and Nike Drifit top that I'd wear for the rest of the race.

Official Swim Time: 12:46, which I thought was surprisingly slow until I learned that it also included the time getting out of the wetsuit and crossing the line into the transition area.

Official Transition #1 Time: 1:02.  Not bad for finding my bike amongst a sea of bikes, gulping down some coconut water and a bite of Luna bar, applying sunscreen, putting on my bike shoes and helmet, and heading out the gate.

Now, I'm no bicyclist.  My bicycling history includes the following: being the last person in my neighborhood to learn to ride a bike (I was a strictly Big Wheel kid for longer than I'd care to admit), and as I've mentioned before, hitchhiking in college after a bicycle ride went much further than anticipated.  There's no Tour de France yearnings here, folks. 

I had the good fortune to borrow my friend's husband's bike for the past 6 weeks, and my training consisted of riding 6-8 miles at a time through City Park and the leafy streets of Park Hill.  Well, you can imagine my surprise during the 12-mile bike race when I found myself approaching a decent-sized hill.  And then another.  And then another one, and this one seems....massive.  My only thought as I trudged up the 'hill' (the word 'Alp' is more fitting; I saw two people walking their bikes up) was that it was going to be awfully fun zooming down this thing.  There were certainly lots of people on fancy tri bikes with their disc wheels passing me, but I really enjoyed myself. 

Side note:  I Googled 'tri bike disc wheels' to see if that's really what these high-tech wheels are called, and I saw that the price for ONE WHEEL is between $1034 and $2074.  You'd think for that amount of money you'd also get you a magic potion to transport you and your bike up the hill in a flash, or at the very least a sturdy sherpa.

Official Bike Time: 46:38.  For some reason I have no idea how to figure out my average speed...

Official Transition #2 Time: 2:10.  This includes getting my bike back to the rack, removing helmet and bike shoes, and putting on socks and running shoes, and heading out for the run.

My training leading up to the race focused on running, since I'm not a runner.  At all.  A 5k (3.1 mile) distance is not huge, but prior to this summer it might as well have been a marathon.  I became comfortable running 2.7 miles around the City Park Golf Course, and I even had some great 3.5 mile runs.  But I didn't know how I'd feel after swimming and biking, and I don't do well running in the hot sun, either.

It was hot, but the breeze saved me for sure.  My goal was to not walk at all, and I only allowed myself to walk a teensy bit as I navigated the turnaround at the halfway point.  At that point, a girl passed me and offered some kind words of encouragement, which invigorated me enough to start running again. 

I was happy and relieved when the end, including my cheering family, was in sight.  Kenyon ran up and held my hand so we could cross the finish line together, and my other two boys were so proud, saying I was the best person in the world.  It felt great to share the occasion with my mom, my husband, and my three favorite boys.

Official Run Time: 30:18, with a pace of 9:46.  That was much better than I had expected, considering the fact that I didn't feel swift at all.

I had a fear that everyone would act like Captain Racey McTriathlon and I would feel really intimidated and unworthy, but the truth is everyone was totally supportive, encouraging, and there was a thread of positivity running through the entire event.

Official Standings: Final time of 1:32:54.  19th out of 38 in my age group (30-34 year old women) and 246th out of 434 men and women.

While I don't think I'll be getting those disc wheels anytime soon, I will definitely compete in a sprint triathlon again--my next race recap will be from Australia.  And when we're back in Denver, I'll be recruiting a bunch of friends to do the tri with me--you ladies know who you are and you have two years to become good swimmers!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Maine 2011

This year we squeezed in a trip to Maine despite our Halt On Travel To Save Money For Australia plan.  We didn't go last year, and we got a great deal on the flight to Boston, so I caved.  I love that my kids are as enamored with the Maine house that my grandparents built and jumping off the dock at Moose Pond as I am.  When it comes to classic family summer vacations, it's just so darn hard to beat Maine.

Because we now have 385,284,275 house projects left before we leave for Australia (we managed to complete 2 but added 6 more), and I'm competing in a triathlon next weekend, I'm going to let the pictures do most of the talking for this post.

We spent every one of our 7 days in Maine at the lake, loading up with boogie boards, oars, and a stocked cooler shortly after breakfast and returning home after lunch for a rest.  Before dinner, we'd head back for some more swimming, and after dinner a group would venture out yet again for fishing.  The beach chairs are an upgrade from when my grandparents sat and chatted there 30 years ago, but everything else is amazingly, wonderfully, the same.
Pleasant Mountain, view from the beach
my boys, on the rock that seemed so huge when I jumped off it as a kid

cousins out on the dock

Sam enjoying a sand castle meditation
The fish didn't bite much this year; I didn't catch a single one.  My brother clearly had the magic touch and caught something each day, but the kids definitely got an exercise in patience.  Jackson and Alex never got a nibble in the brutally hot fishing tournament, but they were excited to fish every day nonetheless.  
Jackson, Lexie and Alex

Alex in a moment of heavy concentration
Is it just me, or should this be a rain slicker ad (hear me, Target?)
Patience paid off, and there were some successes.

Nana with her catch
Kenyon keeping a lookout for the giant snapping turtle

Kenyon, Jackson, Alex, and cousin Dylan waiting for the results of the fishing tournament
As the next step of stretching his wings, we allowed Jackson to go out fishing on a boat, with just his 10-year old cousin and a friend.  For two hours.  I had a knot in my stomach in the beginning (okay, for at least an hour), but they came back right on time.  They had caught a fish and rode to an island, where they made a fire, cooked the fish, and ate it.  That's the stuff 8-year old boy dreams are made of right there, and I'm so happy that he got to do it.  

Whenever I applied sunscreen, Alex asked me to make sure I protected his freckles.  I love this one.
At one point, there were 14 people (eight of them children) in the modest 4-bedroom home, providing a hearty dose of togetherness.  It's tough enough as a parent to decide when to step in during your own children's disagreements, but even harder with friends or cousins that are used to different norms or parenting styles.  It went well, considering, but there of course was a certain amount of cousin-torture and drama.
reading with Uncle Matt
cousin bunkroom with the same sheets I used 30 years ago.  Are multicolor swirls still all the rage? :)
cousins shucking corn
lobster and mussel feast for Nana's birthday
Lexie and Captain Eyelashes

Maine, we will miss you next year, but as always, we can't wait to come back.