Running, Again

I ran two miles today. The fact that this is even worth mentioning, let alone the intro to this post, shows how meaningful this was. My latest nasty calf injury left me hobbling if I attempted a mere jog. Still, I ran 1.3 miles with my 12 year old son in October, as I was trying to pace him in a 5K. After I paced him through the first mile at around 8:30 pace, then dropped out when the calf pain got really bad, he picked it up, finishing with a 7:30 last mile and a 24 minute time! I don’t think he needed my help…and the calf certainly didn’t need me doing that.

So I stopped trying to see if I could run, and started listening to my body. I continued to see my fantastic chiropractor Dr. H at United Wellness Center, who I am convinced gets some sort of sadistic enjoyment out of sticking needles in me, and I enlisted the help of a physical therapist, Kelly at Chiron PT, who worked on the calf 3 times a week and gave me some great exercises to do. The feedback I got from her was valuable in my decision to run today. Last week I really felt that the muscle had loosened up, as I was no longer feeling it. The difficult thing about an injury is that you get accustomed to feeling something you shouldn’t. I was used to feeling my calf as it was so tight, but noticed when the sensation finally stopped.

So today was the test. I was nervous. I foam rolled first. Then I walked for a bit. I was supposed to walk for half a mile but a quarter of a mile in I was itching to run, so I let myself go. I had to force myself to slow down as the adrenaline kicked in and I naturally sped up. At 1 mile I stopped at Starbucks, just in time to meet members of my running club who had just finished a 5 miler. I hung out with the guys (the girls were running longer!) for quite some time, catching up and shooting the breeze. It was great to catch up. I was supposed to walk home but, again, a quarter mile in I was itching to run again so I indulged in another mile.

I made sure to stretch well when I got home. I have no intention of sliding backwards. And then of course I started looking at all the races I want to do. My last race was in August, and it feels like an eternity. But I realize I have a long way to go, and I still need to be patient.

Tomorrow is a rest day. 😉

Race Insurance – is it worth it?

I just did something I never thought I’d do. In fact, I did it twice. I paid race insurance for Ironman 70.3 Raleigh and TriRock Philadelphia. The insurance was $40 for the Half Ironman and $13 for TriRock, an Olympic distance tri. Both plans provides a full refund in the event of injury, illness, etc. Here’s Ironman’s plan details in case you’re interested.

So, why did I do it? First of all, When you’re talking about races that cost $275 and $180 respectively, the insurance cost is relatively small in comparison, about 15% of the Half Ironman cost and less than 10% of the TriRock fee. (Ironman only started offering a refund plan in July 2014.) Secondly, after an injury-plagued season that saw me pull out of Ironman 70.3 Augusta and too many road races to count, I’ve come to the conclusion that the insurance is worth my while.

I want to race. I want to be injury free. I haven’t run since August in an attempt to properly rehab my injured calf this time, and have sworn off silly stuff that my 42-year-old body can no longer handle, like indoor track racing, back-to-back racing, overnight relays, etc. I have to be sensible. (Which sucks.) However, I realize that injuries can and do happen, and I feel a little better about shelling out a small fortune (triathlon is expensive) if I know I can get a refund should I not be able to race.

In a previous post I wrote about the absurdity of exorbitant race fees, and I realize it may seem hypocritical that I’m willing to pay this much to race. But triathlons are much more expensive than road races. Obviously, organizing a race with three events is more complicated than one, and the insurance for any event in which you put people in a body of water and have them zooming around at high speed on expensive machines is bound to be significantly higher. So I’m willing to pay more for triathlon. Could I find less costly half ironman and olympic events? Sure. But I’d like to qualify for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Austria, so I need to do an Ironman 70.3 in order to do that, and Raleigh is one of the closest events for me. I raced TriRock Philadelphia last year (never got around to a race report!) and qualified for the HyVee 5150 Championship in Des Moines. Unfortunately I couldn’t do the HyVee event because I was already racing at the ITU World Championships! So I’d like another shot at that.

At the end of the day, I feel better knowing that, if I can’t race, at least I haven’t lost out completely.

Have you/would you pay for race insurance?

SoulCycle DC: Sweating in the City

I never promise a complimentary review. What I do promise is that I will share, candidly and openly and with an attempt at wit, my experience, which may or may not come with a hint of bias because, after all, being objective is boring.


SoulCycle opened its first Washington, DC location in August and I was sent a free pass and some SoulCycle goodies. Let me start by saying spin really isn’t my thing. Being in a dark room with thumping music, in close quarters with other sweaty bodies isn’t what appeals to me in terms of a workout. I’ve done it enough times to know that  I prefer riding in a small group, outside, exploring the mountains of Western Loudoun County, breathing the fresh air, and enjoying the gorgeous views. I wouldn’t trade that with any studio in Washington, DC, even if it is very hip and the workout is awesome.

That being said, there are times when riding outside isn’t possible. Like on a weekday. When it’s raining. In winter. When I don’t have time. When my bike is on a truck on its way back from Canada, enjoying the scenery without me. And spin offers a great alternative. I say alternative loosely because it clearly isn’t the same thing. Spin is more like an interval workout. The SoulCycle format is 45 minutes of fast paced riding with some light reps with weights thrown in at the end. To quote the press release I received along with a free pass and some other goodies, “SoulCycle is a motivating, joyful, full-body indoor cycling dance party on a bike.” I wouldn’t argue with that.

With my free pass I signed up for a 7am class on a weekday morning with Abby. Online signup is pretty much a must because the 55-bike studio is often full, and because you get to pick your bike. Yep, no pushing and shoving when the doors open to get a good spot. You’ve already reserved yours. The image below is the 6am Monday class. The grey circles are the bikes that are already reserved. Apparently, Washington DC is full of teacher’s pets who like to sit at the front.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 11.41.22 AM

I reserved bike #2 because I wanted to be able to see the instructor, but I also didn’t want to be slap bang in the middle of all the sweaty bodies. I arrived 15 minutes before class, as the web site advises. SoulCycle is pretty welcoming on a gray morning in DC.


The location at 23rd and M is close to GW University, and so I shouldn’t have been surprised to be surrounded by a bunch of 20-somethings clad in Lululemon and sipping SmartWater. SoulCycle includes bike shoe rental as part of the class fee ($20 for first time riders, $30 regular, 5 classes for $145, etc.) but since I own four pairs of bike shoes and have compatible cleats (that’s important, check your cleats are compatible before bringing them) I just wore my own shoes.

The SoulCycle space consists of the bike studio, bathrooms, and a locker area. Given that it’s small (3,000 sq. ft. but feels smaller) and a large area in front is given to the SOUL boutique, the locker area and bathrooms are pretty cramped. The shower area is so tight that I elected to walk to my office, just four blocks away, and use the comparatively spacious showers there. There is nowhere to wait for class, so I stood along the wall while waiting for the studio to be readied for the 7am class. The 6am class had just let out and the locker area was packed. Someone threw a wet towel into the laundry bin and it almost slapped me in head as it flew past.

We were let in just before 7 to find rows of closely-packed bikes, each with a towel atop the recently sanitized handlebars. Abby bounded in and announced that if we needed assistance adjusting our bikes, just raise a hand and an employee in a yellow shirt would come help us out. I’ve adjusted spin bikes before but I raised my hand anyway as I wanted the full SoulCycle experience for my review. Also, my bike had clearly just been ridden by a giant and needed serious adjustment. The girl who had checked me in came right over and got me set up, then made sure I was comfortable before moving on to someone else.


Class got going pretty pronto. Abby cranked up the music, put on her mic, and started giving us instructions. Her bike was on a platform with candles on the front (of the platform, not the bike) so we could all see her. Abby was bubbly and lively, bouncing around on the bike, spinning fast and talking at the same speed about happy hour the night before. (This was a Tuesday morning…if I didn’t feel old before, I did now.)

The workout was fast-paced and fun, with lots of “how are we feeling?” – audience participation mandatory. It wasn’t intimidating, but it wasn’t a piece of cake either. I was just getting into it when the fire alarm went off and the music cut out. Abby kept going. I was wondering if we should be evacuating when the staff ran in with a duffle bag like some SWAT team. They quickly and expertly hooked up a set of speakers to get the music working again. Clearly, focus on the important stuff first. The fire alarm went off a couple more times but apparently it was just a drill so we kept going.

Later that day:

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Final synopsis: A fun, sweaty, energetic workout. Great way to start off the morning. SoulCycle markets itself to a young, hip crowd but honestly once we got in the studio I no longer felt like the old lady. Well, except when Abby played her favorite song from high school and I swear it was a tune that came out last year. It’s a bit pricey; 10 classes are $280 and even a package of 30 classes at $780 works out to $26/class. And it’s only 45 minutes long, which is perfect for the time-crunched DC crowd (especially when the Starbucks line is 15 minutes long) but not really long enough for me. But, if you enjoy spin and are looking for lively, energetic instructors, clean bikes, and a quick workout, then SoulCycle may be the thing for you.

Aside from DC, SoulCycle has studios in NYC, California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Here’s a complete list of SoulCycle locations:

Baseballs, not Peaches

Yesterday many of my triathlete friends were kicking butt at Ironman 70.3 Augusta (congrats on qualifying for Worlds, Lester!!!) while I was sitting on my butt…some of it on my bike but most of it watching this guy play ball:


And while I’ll admit that it was hard to look at the facebook updates and while I would have loved to have been racing, I am, in many ways, glad I was in Middle-of-Nowhere, MD, instead of Augusta, GA.


Because, had I been in Augusta, I would have missed seeing this guy pitch the last inning of Saturday’s game. Three batters, three outs in nine pitches. Two strike-outs and one he threw out at first. He knows how to perform under pressure.


And on Sunday, he was brought in as closer again. This time, one batter got a run. Just one. Which of course, was unacceptable to him.


This is the most relaxed I’ve seen him playing baseball. He was actually smiling on the mound. He was so stressed out playing for his first travel team he couldn’t perform well. His confidence hit rock bottom and we pulled him out before the abusive coaching could completely destroy him. He tried out for two travel teams this year. The coach for one of the teams pulled him aside after the tryout and asked him if he thought he would be a distraction to the other players. Yeah, he has ADHD. So does Michael Phelps. In fact, an estimated eight to ten percent of all pro athletes have the condition, as compared to four to five percent of the general population of adults. Needless to say, he’s playing for the other team, which was the one he chose anyway. He fits right in.


Sometimes it’s hard to remember he’s only 10. I was reading his 5th grade “about me” poster last night.

Favorite sport: Baseball

Favorite TV show: Baseball

Favorite athlete: Chase Headley (from the Yankees, who threw a ball to him during the warmup for a game at Camden Yards over the summer)

What I want to be when I grow up: Pro Baseball Player

Well, why the hell not?


Why I Won’t Paint it Black

It’s always difficult coming down off the high of a big race. I find myself wishing I could do it all over again, not necessarily to do better (although that desire is always there), but to relive the experience. I find myself looking at race photos and getting impatient to find out where the 2016 ITU World Championships is going to be, which apparently will be announced on September 16th…three long days away. According to the ITU, the 2016 sprint will be draft-legal, which has me excited and nervous at the same time. It will certainly eliminate the difficulty of staying out of the 12 meter draft zone, and the frustration of having to back off when passed, but it could be dangerous too. I anticipate a few wipe-outs with amateurs riding that close.

Here are a couple of pictures from Edmonton, courtesy of a couple of my Team USA teammates!

Edmonton group ride

Heading out on Team USA bike ride the day before the race. Lots of pointy helmets!

Edmonton swim corral

In the swim corral – we’re next!

Edmonton swim start

The swim start!

So…what’s next? Well, I just pulled out of Ironman 70.3 Augusta. Yep, you heard it here first, folks. I haven’t mentioned this to anyone else (except You Signed up For What? since we were supposed to be driving down together), not because I don’t want people to know but because I hate all the sympathy. Yeah, don’t cry me a river. I’m really OK with it. The reality is that I haven’t been able to run since Edmonton (tried a mile last week and calf was very unhappy) yet for some reason was in this ridiculous state of denial that I could somehow run 13.1 miles. And even if I could, I know full well that the result of that will be an entire fall with no racing.

The reason I think I’m OK with it is that I was really burnt out. I trained all summer for Edmonton and just lost my mojo after that. I was forcing myself to swim and bike when I didn’t want to. And I don’t mean the “I don’t feel like training today” but once you do, you love it. I hated every minute of it. I rode for 3 hours last weekend and despite the great weather and supportive training partners, I hated it. I told myself it was because I was on my old bike (race bike was still traveling back from Canada…the scenic route…finally arrived on Wednesday) but that wasn’t true. I was feeling tired and lethargic, although bloodwork that I had done last week came back with only positive news, including the fact that my cholesterol had dropped 14 points since May (when my coach told me to eat eggs for breakfast and cut out all the sugar)!

So what’s next? Well, only time will tell. Once I can start running again, hopefully in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be able to determine my race schedule this fall. Because I really do want to race. And soon. But the key is to be smart about it. My chiropractor told me that he sees a lot of athletes just like me, but that I deal with these setbacks better than they do. Why is that? Why don’t I want to Paint it Black, as the Rolling Stones would say? Because I see no point in that. I don’t wallow in self-pity and I don’t want others to feel sorry for me. I think adversity is character-building and I wouldn’t be who I am without having had my share of that. When I was 19 and in hospital after surgery to fix the ankle I shattered in a cross-country race, I told friends who came to visit that they weren’t allowed to feel sorry for me. When I was hobbling around on crutches for the next six weeks, I wouldn’t let people help me (although I guess that’s just being stubborn).

And because, at the end of the day, what I do (or don’t do) doesn’t define who I am.

Onward and upward.

#WTSEdmonton Day 3: We Need Canada Pants

Race morning. 46 degrees at 7am. My roommate, Amy, says, “we need Canada pants.” Indeed, we do. If you haven’t read about day 2 yet, you might want to do that to get the reference, but basically the Canadian team has bright red Canada pants, and we wish we had a pair right about now.

Heading out of The Westin at 7:15am, however, we discover that the sun is shining and there really is no need for any pants, even Canada ones. We take the light rail to the University of Alberta where we transfer to a shuttle bus that takes us to Hawrelak Park, the venue for the ITU World Championships. We’re excited and nervous for our races. Amy’s wave (25-29 women) is at 9:58, mine (40-44 women) is at 10:38, so we have plenty of time. In fact, given that my race is so late I actually drink half a cup of coffee, something I never do for early races.

We’re in the park at 8am and head over to transition. Getting into transition is easy if you’ve paid attention to the rules: helmet on and strapped, wetsuit out to show number tattoo on suit, one arm out of jacket to show number tattoo (this part wasn’t fun given the temperature), race bib on. We got through like pros and headed to our transition spots. I dumped my stuff by my bike and headed to the portapotty. There were only 4 of them in transition so I had to wait a few minutes. When I came out, Amy was waiting for me, having already set up her transition. I still had to put my shoes on my bike, get air in my tires (thanks to the Team Canada guy who lent me his bike pump and then had to help me get it on the valves!), put my water bottle on my bike, and set up my shoes and helmet and sunglasses and bib. All of which seemed to take forever.

When I took off my shoes to leave them in transition I realized how cold the ground was. Within a minute my feet were frozen and I wished I’d brought flip flops or another pair of shoes. Thankfully I had a towel with me (ITU doesn’t allow towels in transition, or anything else non-race-related, in case you ever do an ITU race), so once we found a sunny spot to sit in, I wrapped my feet in the towel to warm them back up.

Before long Amy was putting on her wetsuit, partly to keep warm, partly because it was getting close to the 30 minutes before her start time, at which time you had to report to the athlete’s village to be put in your swim corral. We said goodbye and off she went. It was 9:10, so I had a while. I had my mini grid roller with me so I rolled out the muscles, including my tight calf which had been giving me issues over the past 3 weeks. I had told no-one but the day before I had stepped off a curb onto the ball of my foot and a shooting pain had gone through the muscle. Ever since then it hurt even to walk. I had taped it up with KT tape but wasn’t even sure if I could run. After rolling out I put on my wetsuit. It has never felt so great to put on a nice, warm, constricting, long-sleeved wetsuit.

With about 40 minutes to go before my wave start, I headed into athlete’s village and dropped off my gear bag. I watched as the organizers called the waves by swim cap color. They were very good about spotting anyone who had missed their call, and would yell at them and tell people to clear a path so they could run and catch their wave, which would be heading down to the water. So every now and then you’d hear, “blue cap coming through!” or “white cap, your wave is on the beach!”

Once the wave before mine had been called I turned to the woman next to me and asked her to zip up my wetsuit. We started chatting – she had a British accent so I assumed she was on Team GB. (With a wetsuit on you can’t tell anyone’s nationality.) She assumed the same of me. Of course we soon discovered that we were both racing on Team USA! Shout out to Rachel Jones from Michigan, another former Brit racing on Team USA! (Later I met Jim when we were returning our bikes to RaceDay Transport, another Brit who now lives in Boston and races on Team USA.) Our wave was soon called and we moved into a pen area to wait to be paraded down to the water. This part was actually very cool, as we got lots of cheers from the crowd. Then we had to go single file through a tent with a timing chip scanner, and check that our names appeared on the monitor. Our timing chips had to be visible – no tucking them under the wetsuit.

We then moved into another penned area and awaited our turn. At this point there were 3 waves ahead of us and we had about 20 minutes to go. I wasn’t nervous at all, but surprisingly calm and relaxed. I made sure to do lots of arm circles and swimming motion with my arms, as in my last race, and in the practice swim, my arms started hurting very early on. When I mentioned this to my coach he suggested I warm them up before the swim. I was also watching the waves before us to see where I wanted to position myself. The middle was, as usual, a mosh pit, with swimmers coming at you from either side. I didn’t want any part of that. The left seemed to be far from the first buoy and therefore a long way to cut in. Plus, when I swim I pull left so that would be a bad idea for me. That left the right. Swimmers went or were led (wasn’t sure) to the right first, which meant I needed to be at the front of our group. I snuck around a few ladies and got near the front. I was up with the Mexicans, who I guess had the same plan as me. They all had their make-up on and their diamond earrings in…wow.

As we were led onto the platform, I quickly got into position. I think there were 10 or so ladies to my right, so I felt as if I’d secured a good spot. Which was just as well because the rule is no moving once in position. We were then told to step down into the sand, with “one foot touching the plat-a-form” according to the official giving the instructions. That made everyone laugh and broke any tension. My goggles, which I’d put on early, were starting to fog up and I had to spit in them a couple of times. I had to stop fiddling, however, once we were on the sand because they could blow the horn at any time. Then I heard “on your marks” and the horn right away, and I started running into the water and diving forward.

The first 30 seconds were frantic. Lots of kicking and thrashing, but it didn’t last long. Because we started in a line, there was no-one behind me grabbing my feet or trying to swim over me. It was actually one of the most civilized wave starts I’ve experienced. I felt like I was sighting well for the first buoy and no-one really got in my way. The turnaround was smooth, and I knew from the practice swim that I wanted to head to the right a little after the turn to avoid going off course. The only problem with this was that I was close to the buoys, and once or twice another swimmer would try to push me to the right. Of course given that I pull left I may have been doing some of the pushing, but when I was seeing the buoy getting dangerously close I would push back. We were also catching a male from the previous wave who was breaststroking, so needed to give him a wide berth to avoid getting kicked. As we neared the end of the swim I started to kick harder, to get my legs ready for the bike but also because someone was grabbing my feet and I wanted to get them off me. I swam until my hands hit the sand and then I stood up, somehow swallowing a mouthful of water in the process. I was a little unsteady on my feet at first and running through the sand wasn’t the easiest. I must have been fiddling with my wetsuit because someone passed me. I never get passed in the run to transition so I quickly got the top of the suit down and then chased her and passed her back. The run to transition was long so I elected to keep my cap and goggles on my head until near the end, so I didn’t have to carry them so far and risk dropping them.

As I ran into transition people were heading out on the run. I heard “Go Alison!” and realized it was my roommate, Amy! I feel bad but I didn’t manage to shout back in time. When I got to my bike row I counted my steps  – 30 – to my bike, which got me to exactly the right spot. I took off my timing chip before removing the rest of my wetsuit. The timing chips were on a massive piece of foam and, although Amy had the bright idea of cutting the foam so it didn’t overlap around our ankles, it was still very big and I was worried the suit would get stuck on it. The suit came off fairly quickly and I got the timing chip back on, sunglasses and helmet on, race belt on (they made us wear them on the bike, hate that), grabbed my bike, and headed out for the ride.

Bike mount went well and I was off, passing two ladies at the mount line. Got the legs spinning and put my shoes on before the first hill. The hill was a doozy. It was steep and short but not all that short. I had to be in the small ring and the easiest gear and even then I had to stand for a bit. At the top of the hill was a turn, and then a downhill and two more quick turns. At some point during the downhill I looked at my Garmin and realized it still said I was in transition. So I hit (what I thought was) the lap button, and it said it was stopping. I was confused for a minute and then I realized I had pressed the stop button when I came out of the water instead of the lap button, and had done the same thing when I started the bike. I had just been starting and stopping. I realized I needed to start over so I cleared the multisport, started it again, hit the lap for the swim and transition, and finally got it on the bike leg. This may have cost me a little time but I needed to see my pace on the bike, and it possibly helped me because it gave my legs a good warm up.

At this point we hit the fastest part of the course, and I was in full focus, zooming down Groat Rd at 36+ mph. It was an awesome feeling. I passed a few other riders and didn’t really have to worry about the draft zone until we started going uphill. The draft zone in ITU events is 12 meters, which is longer than USAT events. I saw several motorcycles go by with race officials on them, and did not want to end up in the penalty box, so I made sure to keep my distance. The only part when this got hard was when I was passed (which I made sure was only a couple of times) because I had to ease up to exit the draft zone. The last thing I want to do when racing a sprint is ease up! But once out of the zone I would hammer it again.

Nearing the end of lap 1 we had to enter a turnaround near transition, and this is where things got hairy. The riders on their 2nd lap were preparing to enter transition and so were slowing, removing shoes, etc. A guy in front of me practically stopped in the middle of the road. It was impossible to ride this stretch fast. You just had to be patient. Heading out for the second loop, a Kiwi on a road bike passed me going up the hill. He was actually very nice and said he expected to see me on the downhill (since I was on a tri bike). As he predicted I passed him on the first downhill as he cheered. The second loop seemed much easier. I had a fairly clear path. The wind had picked up and we got blown around like crazy on the last downhill, but I still pushed as hard as I could, trying to hit max speed. Heading into transition I made sure I had my shoes off nice and early, and made a clean dismount with a big sigh of relief. Ran to my bike rack to find chaos. All the bikes were pointed at an angle so I had to point mine to get it in. One of my running shoes had been kicked to the wrong side of the rack, and the biker to my right had thrown her wetsuit practically in the path. Anyway. Got running shoes on, dumped helmet, and started running. Two guys were heading out on the run at the same time, and were being urged on by a spectator. They both nearly took me down on the turn, and I wasn’t exactly moving slowly!

The run is my strength, but I was very unsure if my calf was going to let me run. I can run in almost any pain, but there have been times were my calf has really stopped me in my tracks. So I pushed the pace, but held back ever so slightly. I was passing people, and counting the countries as I went. I counted 1 USA, 1 GB, 1 AUS, 2 CAN before I lost track. The first almost 2 miles of the run were on a gorgeous shaded gravel trail and I kind of lost myself in there. I told myself to push as hard as I felt comfortable. I wasn’t running the 6:30 pace I wanted, but I wanted to calf to hold up as long as possible. When I hit 2 miles I allowed myself to go a little harder and tried to push the pace closer to 6:30. The finish was getting closer, I was still passing runners, and I was feeling good. With about 200m to go the calf twinged but I didn’t care at that point. As I turned the corner a US flag appeared in front of me (the Team USA coach told us he’d be holding out flags near the finish and we should grab them if we could) and I grabbed it and started sprinting. The blue carpet felt spongy which I didn’t like, but I ran as hard as I could. I had just passed a Canadian and I did NOT want anyone to pass me in the finishing straight. I held up the flag as I booked it down to the finish line, calf cramping, crowd cheering, just so excited to finish my first World Championship. It really was a feeling like no other!

After receiving a medal I immediately asked the medical tent for a bag of ice, then headed to the athlete recovery area where I bumped into three other ladies in my age group who had also just finished: Amy, Brenda, and Rachel (who I had met before the swim.) Here are the four of us celebrating our victory!


Result: 1:18:46. 20th in W40-44 IN THE WORLD. Happy!


With Amy just before she headed home…we have agreed to try to qualify for 2016 together!



#WTSEdmonton Day 2: Trading my Team USA Jacket

One of the traditions at a World Championship event is to trade jackets with a team member from another country. Mexico has by far the best race kits, IMO.




And not just because the guys get to wear pink. The Mexicans clearly know how to make a hot-looking uniform. So I had decided I was going to try to trade jackets with a Mexican. But then we got to hanging out with some Canadians at the opening ceremony.


And one of the Canadian girls said she liked my Team USA jacket. I’m not wearing it in this picture (too hot) but my room-mate Amy is modeling it in the center of the photo. And I got to thinking how it would be cool to have a Team Canada jacket, since Canada is the host country, so I asked her if she wanted to trade, and she said sure! Team Canada has their team picture on Saturday so after that we’ll trade. Canada also has a cool vest (as does Mexico), which they’re wearing over the gray jacket here. They are so coordinated. Team USA needs to get their act together. We were told to wear the white shirt to the ceremony which looks so un-uniform. Amy wore her Team USA jacket because she forgot to bring her white shirt. We should have all worn that as it looks much more like a uniform. Seriously, we looked a little sloppy and mis-matched. Canada even has team pants. So does Mexico, for that matter. Obviously, whoever is coordinating uniforms for Team USA should have a little chat with the Mexican and Canadian uniform coordinator, to learn how it’s done.

Today was a crazy day. I saw the team chiropractor at 8:15 for a quick once-over. Feeling finely tuned now. At 9:00 met up with about 30 other Team USA teammates to ride to transition with the coach. We were a very slow peloton and seemed to take a very convoluted route to get to the park. It was a pretty ride, though, and I wish I could have taken a pic of all of us in formation, but the phone/camera stayed safely in my backpack. It was very cold this morning so almost everyone was wearing a Team USA jacket – we looked better coordinated than at the opening ceremony.

I did use my Bia Sport watch so the route would be automatically uploaded. The ridiculously slow speed is due to the numerous stops to regroup and get some info from the coach.

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After arriving at Hawrelak park I was able to rack my bike in transition. ITU changed my age group’s bike racking time from 12 – 2 to 9 – 11; fortunately Team USA sent out an e-mail late last night letting us know of the update. At the entrance to transition our helmet numbers, bike numbers, and uniforms (which I was wearing) were checked – I even had to turn around so they could check I had the right name and country on my butt! Racking was quick and easy, after which I counted to steps from the end of my row to my bike, as markers aren’t allowed. It’s about 30 steps when running. The run out from the swim is actually quite long, and involves running past the finish chute, which seems unduly cruel.

I left transition and headed over to the swim area. Donned wetsuit, which I was glad to do as now it was windy as well as cold, and headed over to the lake. Everyone was practicing diving or running starts, as the start is from the edge of the blue platform. I stood there for a bit spitting in my goggles, then did a slightly lame attempt at a run/dive. Better get that right tomorrow. The water was COLD. But I didn’t have a problem with it. Must be the British blood. I found that the silicone cap kept my head warm, and I only felt cold for the first couple of minutes. Sighting is easy; it is very shallow – you can see the bottom, just weeds and stuff, nothing interesting, and although it’s chlorinated it doesn’t smell or taste of chlorine. I went a little off course a couple of times so I’m glad I got in the practice. I swam the whole 750 and practiced my run-out. It’s sandy which makes things a little challenging.




Some crazies (see pic) went in without wetsuits. Those guys are NUTS. That water was 17.9 degrees celsius. In fahrenheit that’s virtually FREEZING.

After the swim I needed to warm up but the line for the cappuccino truck was kinda long so I found my way to the “Athletes Village” (don’t start thinking this is fancy, it’s a couple of tents for changing and some trailers with showers) where I changed into dry (but not particularly warm) clothes. I figured I needed a little rest time back at the hotel before 3, so took the shuttle bus (packed) to the train station and took the train back to the stop near the hotel. I was glad to find my roommate had also managed to check her bike and practice the swim, as she just arrived super late last night and was a bit worried this morning that she didn’t have time to do everything.

At 2:45 we headed to the team briefing. They went over all the usual triathlon stuff, emphasizing ITU rules (draft zone is 12 meters, which is longer than the USAT draft zone), where they penalty boxes are on the course should you get a penalty, things that will get you penalized, things that will get you disqualified, until we were suitably terrified. Then we had a team photo taken down by the river and forgot all about it.

After team photos it was time for the opening ceremonies. We all had to gather in this area in alphabetical order by country. We realized it would be fun to take pics with other teams, so wandered around looking for different teams to take pictures with. That’s where we took the pics with Canada and Mexico. Here are a couple with Japan and Ireland.

Japan 2




Opening Ceremony was awesome, but I need to get some sleep now, big day tomorrow!

My race starts at 9:30 Mountain Time (GMT minus 7), my wave starts at 10:38, and if you want to see live action visit

Thanks so much for all the well-wishes on Facebook – I really appreciate it!

#WTSEdmonton Day 1: Pinch Me

This can’t be real. I’m sure I’m going to wake up soon from the dream that I’m in Edmonton competing for Team USA in the ITU World Championships. But for now, I’ll enjoy it…

For some reason, almost every athlete I’ve met since arriving in Edmonton is on Team GB. There was even a girl from Team GB on my flight to Toronto yesterday. Today I met a GB Athlete doing the aquathlon, and got some info on the swim – it’s shallow, the lake is chlorinated (it’s man-made), and apparently the course is short. I wonder if there’s some sort of gravitational pull towards my people…ha ha.

I spent most of my first day in Edmonton at Hawrelak Park, the ITU World Championships event venue. I woke up at 7 this morning after arriving in Edmonton late last night. At 8 I walked the short distance to city hall to register for my event. There was hardly anyone there and a full bank of volunteers awaiting me!

Registration took all of 5 minutes and I left with a rather nice backpack which I’m sure my son will steal, a silicone (high end!) swim cap, timing chip, and enough numbers to cover my entire body. I believe there are even tattoos for my wetsuit. Oh and my bike gets a chip, too…lest I decide to do the bike course without it?


I strolled around downtown Edmonton for a bit and stopped by the bank so I could get some Canadian dollars. Back at the hotel, I changed into my bike gear and studied the bike course, trying to get familiar enough with it so I could ride it. It didn’t look too complicated, but I know my navigational skills are…well, lacking.


Once I had my bike gear together I headed to the subway to take a train and then a shuttle bus to the park. All the transportation is free for athletes and it was easy to know where to go…I just followed Team GB, Team Mexico, and Team Canada off the train and to the shuttle bus stop. Apparently Team USA went the wrong way and ended up standing at the wrong stop…

I had no idea how long the trip would take, but it was only 40 minutes so I was at the park way before Raceday Transport was open for bike pickup (they shipped my bike across the country and into Canada for a very reasonable fee, saving me from the torture of boxing it and dragging it with me through the airport). But that was fine because I planned to see some of the course anyway. I also spent a small fortune in the official merchandise tent…hey, who knows when my next World Championship will be!

I found my way to the lake just before the paratriathlete aquathlon started. I knew the age group aquathlon was happening later in the afternoon but I had no idea the para-aquathlon was also taking place. I watched the athletes’ swim start and then walked all the way around the lake to see them on the run. Then I headed over to the finish line to watch the first athletes finish. It was great to be there in the grandstand and watch them come in.









Time to pick up my bike and ride the course. Raceday Transport was awesome, putting the pedals on for me and putting air in the tires so all I had to do was roll out of there. I had to ask a few people which direction I should be heading in (first bad sign) as I couldn’t tell from the map. After a steep hill there was a right turn, which I remembered. I knew there was another right turn but couldn’t remember the name of the street. But the road I was on had a bike lane so I was comfortable just riding along. As I approached an intersection I saw another rider looking at a map at the side of the road. As I passed her I slowed and asked her if she was riding the course. She said she was, but that we must have missed the turn. We chatted for a minute and decided to try to ride it together. This was great because I doubt I would have found my way without her. Plus I’m sure I would have lost my nerve with all the traffic on Groat Road. I couldn’t place her accent – at first I thought she was Scottish (probably because she said “wee” for small) but after we talked for a minute I thought I detected an Irish accent. So I asked her where she was from – turns out she’s from Northern Ireland and she’s racing for Ireland. Her name is Paula Foley and she’s the only athlete from Team Ireland in her age group!

Paula and I set off and, aside from a couple of stops and just one wrong turn, we managed to ride the whole course. Riding Groat Road was nerve wracking as the speed limit is pretty high and we had to change lanes a couple of times because of exits. But most of the drivers gave us room and didn’t try to kill us. After we parted ways I had the fun task of riding back up Groat Road, but was taking the first exit this time so no lane changing required. I had looked up the directions to my hotel, and this time I managed it without any wrong turns! The road I ended up on was alongside the river and the views were spectacular. There was a bike path so I didn’t even have to ride on the road!




I just returned from an early (my stomach doesn’t do time changes well) dinner at Craft Beer Market, just a stone’s throw from my hotel. They have a rooftop patio and they sat me at the bar. I looked longingly at the beers on tap, but stuck with water. But I told the bartender I’ll be back on Friday to taste all their beers…and the Guinness float…

On tap for tomorrow:

8:15 – Team Chiropractor appt. (I had a massage on Monday with my great massage therapist Rose Hanan and a pre-race adjustment with Dr. H at UWC on Tuesday, but since then I’ve been lugging heavy bags around, sitting on planes, riding my bike with a heavy backpack full of World Champs merchandise, plus it’s complimentary!)

9:15 – Bike to Hawrelak park with the Team Coach (definitely won’t get lost!)

10:00 – Swim Familiarization

12:00 – Bike Check-in

3:00 – Team USA Meeting

4:30 – Team USA Photo

5:30 – Opening Ceremonies

7:00 – Pre-Race Dinner

Not much chill-time before the BIG day!

Four Days to #WTSEdmonton: New Sponsors!


At SR Triathlon. Photo courtesy Tracy Endo Photography,

Had I known how much it would cost to get myself and my bike to the ITU World Championships in Edmonton…well, I still would have signed up. But when I added up the cost of the flight, hotel, bike shipping (it’s very odd not knowing exactly where my bike is right now, but we’ll be reunited on Wednesday), race entry, and uniform…I felt a little nauseous.

I have some wonderful sponsors, including Potomac River Running, Brooks, GU, and Infinit. I believe in these companies and am very grateful they believe enough in me to provide sponsorship. I feel it’s important to have a connection to a sponsor, to not only use their product but believe it is beneficial and works for me. But, because of the extra costs of the World Championships, it was really time to look for some additional sponsors, which is something I don’t enjoy doing.

But the response I got when I reached out to three local organizations – a resounding YES – made it worthwhile. In alphabetical order, here are my new sponsors and a little bit about them.



I’ve known Dr. K. of Kravitz Orthodontics for several years now. Not only is he our local orthodontist, but he is also a runner. I first met him when he joined a run with my local running club, SRRC, back when I was club president. Dr. K. trained for his first marathon – Marine Corps – with us. One of the first things he said to me was, “let me know if there’s anything you guys need; if there’s any way I can help out.” I wasn’t quite sure what he meant at the time; we were and still are a low-key club and I couldn’t think what we might need. Dr. K. sponsors many local sports leagues – including my younger son’s swim team – and every school in our area. When my older son was selling discount cards for his middle school, Dr. K. saw my post on facebook and told me he’d buy four. He is a genuinely great guy who looks out for the people in his community. Thanks, Dr. K. for your sponsorship!


You may recall from my Maryland Olympic Duathlon race report that it was at this event that I encountered T-Blocks for the first time and met their creator, Marcus Robinson. These transition blocks are what every triathlete dreams of using. Racks are cumbersome and time-consuming. You have to lift your bike to hang it by the seat, and, if you have a small bike like I do, it doesn’t touch the ground, and risks getting knocked or blown around. T-Blocks are designed with the serious triathlete in mind…you really get in and out of these quickly, which is key. At the duathlon Marcus recorded my transitions and after that race asked me what I liked about T-Blocks. I was serious when I said I wish I had these at every race!

Thanks, Marcus and T-Blocks for sponsoring me!

United Wellness Center

I’ve been seeing Dr. H. at United Wellness Center for well over two years now. I first visited him when I had a painful hip injury that was affecting my training for a 50K. Not only did he fix my injury, I was able to run the 50K, which had been in serious question. Since then, I’ve been a regular patient, partly because I am prone to doing stupid stuff (like tearing a calf muscle and then refusing to give it adequate healing time), pushing my body further than perhaps I should on occasion, and just being, well, stubborn. Dr. H. understands athletes – he’s the chiropractor for D.C. United, the Washington Nationals, and the Redskins – and knows we are a driven bunch for whom words like “stop,” “rest” and “heal” are, well, four-letter words we don’t like to hear. Thanks, Dr. H. for looking after me and for your sponsorship!

Seven Days to WTS Edmonton and A Run with my Son

This time next week I’ll be a few hours away from my first World Championship race. The Age Group Sprint race at Edmonton takes place on Friday, August 29th. The opening ceremonies are the night before. I don’t plan to miss my chance to be in the parade of nations, but I’m hoping it doesn’t go too late! Mind you, I’m not one for sleeping much the night before races anyway.

I am, however, making sure I get sufficient sleep these last couple of weeks, and so it was already 7:30am when I stepped out the door for a recovery run yesterday morning, after a monster of a 2 hr brick the night before. To my surprise, my 10 year old, whom I’ve invited to ride his bike alongside me while I run on several occasions, actually accepted the offer this time. Summer break must have officially reached boring.

Off we went. Below is a sample of our conversation that went on for five miles. Without a break. It was exhausting, but of course I wouldn’t exchange the chance to run with my son for anything.

Is that a forest?

No, it’s just a clump of trees, really.

That’s a forest. That goes all the way to Chase’s house.


I saw a baby raccoon right here. His face was – hang on, let me get in front of you – like this. Makes baby raccoon face.

That’s cute.

Are we turning?


Are we turning now?


Are there fish in that pond?




Tells me all about snakehead fish, including that they can walk on land.

Why did they bring the snakehead here?

Don’t know.

Are we turning?


Are we turning now?

Yes. Turn right. Turn right!

Oh, I thought you said no.

Are there fish in that pond?


Turtle! Look, a turtle.


Are we near Liberty (elementary)?


We’re not?


Are you sure?


Oh, I know where we are. (reads sign) Providence Ridge!

Are we turning?


Passing a guy mowing the grass.

Why did he turn the mower off when we passed?

Because it’s polite.

So he doesn’t blow grass on us?


Do these people pay to have their grass mowed?


Does Barack Obama have his grass mowed?


Does he have to pay?


Has there ever been a fat president?



Grover Cleveland.

Are we still in Providence Ridge?


Are we in Stone Ridge?


Where are we?

Don’t know.

Are we turning?


Are we turning now?



Yes. Turn right.

Passing another lake, I point to a pair of swans.

Are they real?


Are you sure?


Are they married?


Can they walk on land?

Yes. They are like big ducks.


Are we going in that forest?


How long have we been running?

29 minutes.

16 minutes to go!


Can we go look for the groundhog?


Head over to a spot where we’ve seen a groundhog several times.

Are you sure this is his home?


I don’t see him.

He heard you.

Are we turning?

Yes, turn left.



Is that Lunsford (middle school)?

Oh, it’s Freedom (high school).

Passing Baseball field.

That’s where I’m gonna play one day…hopefully.

Now he knows we’re just half a mile from home.

Race you!

And he’s gone….


WTS Grand Final Edmonton: The Countdown Begins

In my 20 years’ living in the United States, I’ve never known an August as cool as this one. In fact, when I first arrived in the US (I lived in Maryland for the first few years) it was August, and I didn’t think I could survive the interminable heat and insufferable humidity. I didn’t have clothes for this kind of weather, and immediately bought one of those floaty sundresses, wearing it practically all the time. I couldn’t even contemplate running in this weather. I recall trying an evening run (morning running was not my thing as a 21-year-old) and feeling as if I was being slow roasted on a barbecue. I took up sailing instead. At least the water was coolish.

But this August – and in fact, this entire summer – has been delightful here in Virginia. Sure, we’ve had a couple of sticky days as reminders of what we usually endure on a daily basis, but for the most part, temperatures have been more than bearable. Usually during the summer I have to start my run at 5:30am (I managed to adapt to morning running in my late twenties) and even then it’s often a sweatfest, but this summer I’ve been able to delay until 6:30 or even later (I ran at 9 on Friday!), at which time it’s still really nice.

The pool has been chilly. Usually this time of year it’s like a tepid bathtub; even the beetles that fall in lie around in a stupor, too hot to try to fight the inevitable. I like to swim in the morning, before the water becomes hazy with sunscreen, and this summer the first few laps are a bit of a shock to the system. This morning I had to swim at 7am, the earliest I’ve swum all summer. I wore my wetsuit. Granted, I didn’t really need it as neither the air (66 degrees) nor the water was all that cold, but I didn’t overheat, either. I wore it because I was doing a race simulation workout, and struggling with practicing wetsuit removal is an important part of race simulation so you don’t look like a complete idiot on race day.

Speaking of races, my race at the WTS Grand Final in Edmonton is just 12 days away. My bike leaves tomorrow. I leave a week from Tuesday. My race is Friday, August 29th. And the weather in Edmonton? Pretty much the same as it is here right now! I’m now well into the sharpening phase of training. Yesterday’s workout was with the coach – 12 mile ride at race pace, 1 mile run at race pace. Three times. I was feeling fine after the first lap. My legs were a little rubbery when I stepped off the bike after the 2nd lap, which was the fastest at 19.9mph. After the 3rd lap, my legs were buckling underneath me on the run, but I managed a 6:30 split. My legs ached like crazy the rest of the day. I wanted to sleep but they hurt too much. Today’s workout was 1000m swim, 10 mile bike, 2 mile run, 5 mile bike, 1 mile run. On the 5 mile bike I was attacked by a gigantic bee-type creature while in aero. It flew into my helmet (which I’m glad has a bug net) and then fell onto my arm. I had just flicked it away when I felt something else hit my helmet. Then all of a sudden the heavens opened and I was caught in a torrential downpour. Fortunately no other plagues followed and I finished up the workout with my younger son accompanying me on the bike as I ran the mile. I realized during the run, while he asked me questions incessantly and I tried to give single-word answers, that he actually runs a mile faster than I do, so I should have had him run and not ride. Might have kept him quiet.

One of the things I’ve been working on the past few weeks is the diet. I have cut out all the things I like  junk and am eating and drinking healthy stuff. I find that I eat too much when sitting at my desk, so I have resorted to this tactic:

Well, it’s an idea anyway. The main thing is to get enough fluids and eat the right types of food – lots of protein, natural anti-inflammatories, healthy fats and carbs, etc. One way I’ve dealt with the cravings is by making a chocolate protein smoothie: 8oz almond milk, a scoop of chocolate muscle milk, a kiwi, a banana, some spinach, and lots of ice. Tastes fabulous!

Sleep is another thing I’ve been working on. 7.5 hours per night at a minimum. At 41, recovery takes longer, and the effects of lack of sleep last longer, unfortunately.

Just the other day this came in the mail:


I left things a little late and had to do the expedited service to make sure I had it in time, but I figured it would be easier than traveling with my United Kingdom passport and naturalization certificate. So my trip to Canada will be my first trip as a US Citizen, using my US passport!

South Riding Triathlon is next Sunday, an event I’ve competed in 4 times. I wasn’t planning on racing 5 days out from a world championship, and wouldn’t have wanted to without my race bike, but then a friend mentioned that his daughter’s relay team had lost their biker to a soccer tournament. I couldn’t resist, and offered to fill the spot. So I am the old cat on the Wildcat’s team…going for the win, of course, although I have to ride my old bike!

12 days and counting…

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Maryland Duathlon X2

Way back when he was considered by many to be something that rhymes with but is much more complimentary than the zero he is now, Lance Armstrong (well, I guess mostly Sally Jenkins, really), wrote a story in his first autobiography, “It’s not about the bike,” of a time when he sent his training data to his coach. His coach was confused, because there were two sets of data. He called Lance to tell him there was something wrong with the data. Lance replied that there was nothing wrong; he wasn’t happy with the first result, so he went and did the workout again.

Putting the doping aside for a moment, hard though it is, a story like that resonates with me. It shows the mindset of an athlete who isn’t satisfied with good-enough. I find that I’m able, in spite of everything we know now about Lance, to apply a story like that in my own experience.

And when I finished the Maryland Olympic Duathlon last month with a less-than satisfactory result (including a wipe-out during a too-fast dismount from the bike) that was eight minutes slower than my time last year, my first thought was that I wanted to do it again.

First, of course, my coach and I had a chat about possible causes. Lack of sleep (I confess to going to bed way too late most nights the week before the race) to the point that I almost fell asleep while driving the hour and 15 minutes to the race venue at 4 in the morning, work stress, and general fatigue were, we decided, the probable causes. Discussing my flying barefoot dismount, coach suggested that, because it was on a downhill, I might be better off keeping my bike shoes on and just coming to a regular stop.

So with some training adjustments and a lot more sleep, I hoped I’d have a much better result at the Maryland Women’s Sprint Duathlon, a shorter version of the Olympic, with the same 2 mile 1st leg, but just one 13-mile bike loop followed by another 2 mile run, instead of the 4 mile run at the Olympic.

Of course, things are never quite that easy. I must have been about five miles from the race site when it started pouring, hard. And by the time I got to Western Regional Park in Woodbine, MD, it was evident it had been raining for a while. Huge puddles everywhere. Not good conditions for a fast bike. I checked in and then waited out the rain in the car, as the radar said it should pass. At 6:30 (race start was 7) I took my bike over to T1. As with the Olympic Du, elites were treated to the fantastic T-BLOCKS transition blocks, instead of the racks for the rest of the field. These blocks are custom-made, featuring inserts that make them work for any size tire. Below is a video of me in T2 (moving a bit slowly having just wiped out on my dismount) using T-BLOCKS at the Olympic Du:

The rain stopped while I was setting up my bike. For some reason I couldn’t get my bike to sit upright in the blocks, and spent some time fiddling to stop it from leaning. This was precious time I didn’t have. Usually I set up so early I have tons of time, and I just wasn’t thinking. I dried off my bike one last time and left transition as we were being told to get out. I still hadn’t done my warm up. During the warm-up I realized I hadn’t lubed my shoes, and my vaseline was in transition. Too late now. I was also not wearing my sunglasses, which was one more thing I had to put on in T1. I really did not have my head in the game.

Soon enough the gun went off and I just tried to hang with the other elite women. We went through the first mile in about 6 minutes (there’s a lot of downhill) but I knew mile 2 would be slower as it has more uphill. I allowed a gap to open up as I couldn’t hold the pace, but wasn’t far behind as we entered T2. But when I got into T2 I realized I was so out of breath, it was hard to do anything. Unlike when I exit the swim, coming off a run is much more exhausting. I also had to put my bike shoes on as I’d decided it would be easier with the uphill start, as I’d had some trouble with that in the Olympic. Then I remembered that I hate running in bike shoes. I was OK on the grass, but on the road I was slipping everywhere. I would much rather have been barefoot.

The bike is 13 miles of relentless hills. My plan was to go as hard as I could. Trouble was, it was very wet, which slowed me down, and also forced me to be more careful on the turns. Whenever I could, I opened it up and pushed the pace as hard as I could. My split wasn’t anywhere near what I wanted, despite working as hard as I could. In fact, my pace was slower than for twice the distance in last month’s Olympic…Coming into the dismount I saw the 2nd place elite female heading out on the run. I got in and out of T2 as fast as possible and headed out. My legs actually felt OK and I was averaging 6:30 for the first mile, but of course the uphill was in mile 2. At the turn I saw that the first female of the age-group athletes, who had started a minute after us, was not far behind me. I really didn’t want her to pass me so I pushed up the hill as fast as I could. I tried to increase my cadence and maximize the downhills, and crank up the uphills. It was a huge relief to see the finish line in sight, although the time on the clock was several minutes slower than my goal. I placed 3rd overall and got a nice trophy, polar heart rate monitor, and pint glass. Thanks, Rip it Events!



While I’m glad I raced this course again, I feel it’s become a bit of a nemesis for me. My first time racing here, I had such a good race, and I feel I am now chasing that. I vowed not to race Ironman Raleigh 70.3 again because I knew I’d be chasing the great race I had there last year. Perhaps I need to stop chasing this one.

I have less than four weeks to the ITU World Championships. Time to get my head in the game!

Seven Reasons Triathlon Isn’t Sexy


Bike = sexy. Triathlon = not.

I’ve heard “Triathlon is Sexy” numerous times. I don’t remember the source, but there seems to be some pervasive impression that swimming, biking, and running has sex appeal. Of course, there are some sexy triathletes I could mention, but triathlon, as a sport, sexy? I think not. Here’s why:

1. Chlorine. Nothing sexy about smelling like a swimming pool all day after your 5am swim.

2. Goggle eyes. Yes, indentations under your eyes, totally attractive.

3. Biker tan.

4. Road rash.

5. Chafing. Never met anyone who thought that was a turn-on.

6. The ability to pee while swimming, biking, and running. That’s one skill you might want to leave off your eHarmony resume.

7. Shoes that reek. Because bikers don’t wear socks. And because #6.



Gang Signs

Last Saturday I thought my 10 year old was flashing gang signs from the starting blocks of the 9-10 50m breaststroke event. He had his arms crossed at the wrist with his right hand open and his left hand closed with his index finger pointing. I wasn’t quite sure what he was doing so I just gave him a thumbs up. I knew the two boys on either side of him had faster seed times, and I didn’t want him to feel intimidated.


I don’t have a picture of the gang sign, so you will have to use your imagination

He started the race well and all three boys were together through the first 25m. They turned together and were neck and neck until about 10m to go. Then Josh started to pull ahead ever so slightly, putting in a fierce finishing effort to clinch the win. He gave a little fist pump before shaking hands with his competitors.

Turns out that what I had thought was some sort of gang sign was actually him trying to tell me that both boys had 51 second seed times. He knew his seed time was 54. But what I had mistaken for intimidation was actually his determination to take them down.

At 10 years old, he knows how to do something that has taken me 4 times as long to figure out: how to outrace a faster racer. He knew he wasn’t the fastest swimmer there by a long shot. But he was prepared to work the hardest, because he really wanted that win. And he knew that if he could stay with the faster swimmers, his strong finish would help him.

I don’t know how, at 10, he knows how to pace a race perfectly and then outkick at the right moment. How he knows how to psych himself up just the right amount to not lose it all by going out too fast, or be too intimidated to think he can beat faster competitors. He is the consummate competitor. I am so proud. And when I stand on that start line of the elite field at Sunday’s Maryland Olympic Duathlon, I won’t let the speedy women around me intimidate me. I will flash my gang sign and give it my all.


Clearly, this isn’t a picture of the event either!



Run for Another with Janji

These days, I have to decline most product review requests. While I love reviewing products and providing honest criticism, my full-time-and-some job, as well as my hefty triathlon training schedule (my coach is doing a countdown to my ITU World Championships race, while I prefer to live in oblivion about how few weeks I have left), has left me little time to even write a post, let alone conduct a thorough product review.

But when Janji contacted me, and I took a look at their Web site, I had to accept. Janji makes the most beautiful running apparel (I actually wanted to buy a pair of their Kenya shorts at Santa Barbara Running Company over a year ago, but they didn’t have my size), with a twist. Founded by former collegiate runners Dave Spandorfer and Mike Burnstein, Janji is a running apparel company with a conscience. And by purchasing from Janji you are supporting the fight against the global food and water crisis.  

How do they do it? I learned from an infographic (a great tool to provide information visually, by the way) that Janji selects organizations that provide innovative, sustainable solutions to the crisis, and supports these organizations’ efforts through the sales of their apparel. What I like about Janji is that I know exactly how much help my purchase is providing. For instance, I know that each purchase I make of Janji’s Haiti apparel provides 8 packets of nutritional medicine to a child in Haiti, while also creating jobs and supporting local farmers…

The Hispaniolan Trogan, Haiti’s national bird...Janji's #1 selling item!

The Hispaniolan Trogan, Haiti’s national bird…Janji’s #1 selling item!

…while a purchase from the Kenya line provides a growing season’s worth of water for a family in that country, through a partnership with KickStart.


Kenya Elephant Shirt

The ability to choose where and how to donate is, I think, a more satisfying experience than a donation where you have no idea how and to what degree it is helping. With Janji, you can select from seven countries, including the United States, for your donation. Sales of the United States collection provide meals to Americans who need them through a partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank. (Janji is headquartered at mile 23.4 of the Boston Marathon route.)

Janji sent me their women’s logo short sleeve, a purchase of which provides 8 meals to a family in need in the Greater Boston area. I immediately fell in love with the softness of this tee. I wore it several days in a row until I started getting strange looks from my neighbors.


Next time you’re looking for some new performance apparel, check out Janji, and run for another. AND, through August 2014, get 20% off your order using the code GITTELMAN. 


I am hopeless at this selfie thing…