Rear View B2B 2014 - The Swim


It was over too soon! It was a truly fantastic swim. Years ago (2009), I volunteered for my first B2B event. I was assigned the changing tent in T1 and I remember a woman rushing in and letting a big Woo Hoo! That was the fastest swim EVER! She was shaking from cold and excitement. That's how this swim felt. From the get-go I was relaxed and happy. Ace, Erica, Jen and I hit the south end cul-de-sac in the dark. I got to hug Lori Drake and catch up with Mike Worley. We donned our wetsuits under a street light and then shuffled out to the south end - just like we'd done all summer.  We got in the water, we danced at the start line, I hummed the national anthem and we were on our way. 



Two things went right and one went left. The first thing is that I warmed up. I've learned that getting in the water before the horn blasts is essential for me. I was able to get in the water. I got the horrible part over - that cold shiver of water that creeps in through the wetsuit zipper at the small of my back. I put my face in the water. I swam 100 yards easy and then did a few sprint efforts back. I floated on my back and watched the sun rise. 

The second thing that went right was the current. Compared to last year, the tide was rippin'!  It felt like I took three strokes and was past the coast guard station. Three more strokes and I could hear Tim Bomba at the 1.2 mile mark (start of the half iron). The thing that went left? Me. I have the advantage of knowing that channel. My unofficial mantra for the two weeks leading up to the race was I own this channel. I had swum the course and knew the tides. I knew not to go right and swim close to the piers. I know that I tend to veer right so I made sure I stayed left. When we hit the first left turn at Harbor Island, I knew to stay left. At some points I felt all alone - there's a lot of water out in my channel! -  but could tell I was flying past swimmers nearer to the pier. 

Nothing went wrong, but I had a few obstacles to overcome. My biggest challenge was sighting, There are not a lot of buoys on the course and even though I know the channel, there were a few moments when I felt all alone. I sighted for a while on a coast guard vessel until I realized that it was escorting the faster swimmers and it quickly faded from view. At the halfway point, I was able to see my favorite landmark on Harbor Island and sight on it until I reached the turn buoy. Plus, no matter how new or well-fitting or fog resistant your goggles are, there are always goggle frustrations.

The only other issue I had was someone on my feet for at least 500 yards. At first I didn't care, but five minutes of someone tickling-my-toes-slash-grabbing-my-ankles was too much. I don't mind a drafter at my hip or my toes - just please don't touch me. I mean, didn't I mention that we have all this water out here? I don't really kick much in the first part of the race, I usually save my legs a little while. I picked up my kick and still couldn't lose him. I ddid about fifteen hard kicks and suddenly he was gone. [I assumed he was a he only because I wanted to chick someone that day.]


Rear View 2014

On the heels of my last race of the season, I thought I'd write about the race and the training season leading up to it. Last year, I wrote a multi-part race report. This year I thought I'd do something a little different and do a Q&A format to tell the story and help take stock of the year. Some of these are questions I've fielded and others I made up! [See Dad? I AM using that journalism degree!]


It was another amazing experience! I couldn't have asked for a better day - the weather was perfect and I felt rested and energetic going into it. I had set small goals and big goals and overall everything went well. Of course, anyone will say that the finish is always the best part and I think my highlight was the finish line chute. I could hear Tim Bomba from blocks away announcing other finishers. I could hear him say: if you can hear my voice you will make it in under 12 hours. I could hear the music and the people cheering and clapping on either side of Water Street. When I reached the Blue Post alley, I could see the bright lights and I got fired up. I started yelling: HELL YEAH! I pumped my fist and shouted: I'm going to be and IRONMAN! When I got in the chute, I yelled it again and lifted my arms to fire up the crowd. I could hear Anne Goins and Jen Young and Beth Sheppard and Ace and I could see the finish line clock when Tim called my name and proclaimed: ELIZABETH ANDREW, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!


I loved last year. That thrill of saying I AM AN IRONMAN! still hasn't worn off. Last year's experience was peppered with the worry of what if? and the possibility of not being able to finish. Last year's race was an adventure - it was all new and and challenging to face the unknown. It was happy from start to finish. Maybe it was my experience last year, maybe it was a few tweaks in my training this year, maybe it was it the weather - but I was armed with a confidence that I've never felt before. I was relaxed and assured and - to use my one word for 2014, I was CONNECTed - to my effort, my breath, my body, my brain, the course and everyone out there. 


I am proudest of my effort and my mental strength. I had a plan to PUSH on the swim, base my effort on the bike by my POWER meter and to think about the PROCESS not the outcome on the run. I stuck to that plan and it paid off. I pushed on the swim and it was over too fast! I felt powerful on my bike and for the first time knew I was neither sand-bagging nor over-cooking the ride. I stuck to my guns on the run and was mentally strong on the run. My secret: I didn't look at my watch or my pace. I based the whole marathon on my effort and form. It made for one of my hardest - but my favorite runs ever. 


I am excited about my finish and the outcome - but I worked harder on my effort and my mental strength this year than anything else. I think that I would have been pleased no matter what the clock said because I did what I set out to do mentally and physically during the race. Plus, I had a simple strategy to improve (fewer stops on the bike ride and less walking for the marathon), the weather was PERFECT (a tidal push and less wind) and I had one year of experience behind me. All the ingredients were right to take minutes off my time. A podium finish was icing on the cake. I've learned that's a hard outcome to shoot for because too much depends on who will show up on race day. 



The Out-Season

Off Season. Out Season. Transition. Whatever you call it I'm glad it's here! Hoooray for the off-season! I am thoroughly enjoying my year-end break. These past few weeks have been an such a respite - physically (no more 15-hour training weeks), mentally (no more thinking, planning and coordinating said 15-hour training weeks) and emotionally (the high of the race and the low of the post-ironman blues have faded to a sweet spot of satisfaction and contentment).

It is amazing what I accomplish when I'm not filling bottles, planning meals, washing clothes, planning weekend rides and recovering from those 15-hour training weeks! Here's what I have done in my off season so far:

Visited sunny Florida: Days after my race, the Spice Girls and I took off for Panama City Beach, Florida to watch Dirty Spice compete in her fourth IronMan. The jacuzzi, shuffleboard and champagne with Bee Beth, Falcon Spice and Boss Spice were key to my recovery. 

Beautiful Day in FLA
I Went to Waffle House at 4:30am

Dirty Spice and I Played Ninja Shuffleboard

CUCALORUS 20: I did an movie-athlon! Ace and I caught at least 20 movies at Cucalorus 2014. Do See The Bravest, The Boldest, Where Do Cars Come From and Cosmic Kiosk. Don't see Two Films About Loneliness.

Kona Kona Kona! I watched the world championships. Dirty Spice and her dog, Nick Lickerson, came over for pizza, wine and swim/bike/run. We were fired up to watch Mirinda Carfrae overcome a 14 minute deficit to win her third title in the worst conditions (waves, wind, heat) in years!

PUPPY! I've been spending more time with my little girl. Right now she's got a dog body and a puppy brain. She still looks all grown up, but she still wants to bite and chew and chase and wiggle like a puppy.  I've taken her to swim, been on multiple play dates with the aforementioned Nick Lickerson, aka Emerson, aka PET. Plus, we do Sunny Day School: I'm teaching her stay, down, look, leave it and weave. Now if she'll just learn to stay out of the recycle bin and off the leather couch we'll be all good. 
Photo Bombed by Emerson
Girls Night. I stayed out past 8:00pm in the middle of the week! It wasn't wild and crazy, but, it was an awesome evening playing catch-up at K38. Salsa, chips and the best women in the world!

Michelle, Tina, Beth, me and Erica

Okay, I admit. A lot of these things still involve triathlon. I can't help it - I love it! The off-season is not a time to quit. It's a time to rest and reflect. check out the rear view mirror. It's a great time to learn and grow and then let go of one year as you head into the next. 

Since I didn't do a very great job of keeping up with last year, I figured I could take a look back in my next batch of posts. After all, according to Cam Newton, hindsight is 50/50. Plus, I'll try something new and do the review in a Q&A format and see what we discover.


Coach Hat

I love my job. Mostly because I love my athletes. They inspire my training, my work, my life. This week I am going to spend time writing about someone other than myself and why and how I do what I do (when I'm not training). 

It's always the little things about coaching that I love the most. Today I had coffee with an AllStar athlete. We talked about the next seven weeks of her plan and she made me Haitian java. We talked about her goals and I revealed our strategy to get there. I love showing people the next step. 

My second favorite moment of the day was solving a problem in spin class.  One of my athletes has had upper back issues for a while and we were sure bike fit was the culprit. She needed the handlebars and the seat closer together. My fix: looping two pilates rings around the handlebars. It closed the reach in the seated and standing position and seemed to be the fix she needed! She left the class pain free! Well, except for maybe I made her quads burn a little on the jumps and hills. 


Other great moments in the past few weeks:
  • one AllStar raced above and beyond her expectations in a local 10k.
  • another raced her first half ironman and overcame major open water anxiety. I did a victory dance as I watched live timing.
  • in June, one of my rock stars finished Raleigh 70.3 - her first half iron and her second triathlon ever. 
This Is How I Want to Finish Every Race 

Amazing Inspiration from Karen. Next Up B2B 140.6!




It's been a busy Monday. I started early by teaching a spin class at 5:30a. I followed that by a run, another spin class at noon (which I faked a workout) and then an awesome open water swim.

spin bikes all in a row

The highlight of the day was the swim.  We caught a break between thunderstorms and almost three inches of rain for the day. We started at Seapath and swam to the Seaside Club. The water was like glass and the tide was in our favor. There were almost ten swimmers at the start and we were relaxed and fast. It reminded me of years ago when we would water ski at Lake Waccamaw after the rain.

Ace, Falcon Spice and Sunshine Spice celebrated with pier jumping and treats from the Mellow Mushroom at Wrightsville Beach. Yummy!



Today marks a day of regular training plus cross training. We started the day eeearly. Anna and I left the house at 5:45a.m.  and met Leanne near Poplar Grove Plantation. We had a chilly start  it was ONLY 68 degrees! We chatted and rode fast, passing the formy-dugargoyles and speeding pastt a German shepherd. The whole ride reminded me of being a kid again. Anna,Leanne and I would speed around on our bikes with weeping willow branches to spur on our imaginary horses.

Today, when we returned back to base ( our cars) there was a weeping willow branch left by Bee Beth!

My cross training today involved a nap and Nerts. I think we might have played Nerts with the Grecos more than we played Ain't No Bears, Monopoly or horse bikes combined. It's a fast paced card game similar to solitaire and it for us as kids involved shouting, tackling and more drama than a highly contested divorce.  Stay tuned for pictures from tonight's game.


Friday SUP

Great day with the first swim, bike, run athletes I ever met!



Screenshot of My Countdown Widget
Yesterday marked 100 days to Beach2Battleship 140.6.
I'm nervous, excited, worried and ready for the next 99 days. This year has taken on a different shape, a different focus and a different feel. Last year was a new adventure - the training was new, the distance was new, the exhaustion was new. This year I have experience and the knowledge that comes from that - but I have new obstacles (an injury), new distractions (bigger demands at work) and new expectations (faster goals). Last year I wanted to merely survive. This year I want to survive and advance. 

They say one of the steps to achieving a goal is to say it out loud - so here goes: 

I want to beat my time from last year by an hour. I want to finish in under 12 hours! 

Does that sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me? Because that sounds ridiculous to me. Last year I finished in 13 hours (and two seconds).  If I race a perfect race, this is what I want to do in 2014:

That's a 1:30 pace without any tidal push.
That's 18mph pace and it's 1mph faster than last year.

That's a 10:30/mile pace and it's over a minute faster than last year. 

If my transitions are under 4:00 minutes, my overall race time would be:


Woo Hoo! That's cutting it close! Now it looks even crazier. I don't believe I can do it yet, but I'm putting the work in, I'm mentally preparing and I have faith. Here's to the next 99 days.

Post Your Goals Where You Can See Them


Now This is the Story All about How......


.......my life got twisted, turned upside down.

Okay. Not really, but I'm going with the Fresh Prince theme from yesterday. My life didn't get twisted or turned upside down with my injury, but my plans did. It's different and definitely less dramatic.  I'm always looking for what an experience is teaching me and here are a few things I know for sure:
Start doing the things you should already be doing. I should have been stretching and massaging and icing and foam rolling before. The injury forced me to do what I should have been doing all along. I am purposeful about stretching now. I have developed a 10 minute routine after each workout. I've added some corrective and core work each day.  
Listen to your body. I can't say I knew it was coming, but you know what they say about hindsight. There were signs - some physical, some intuitive - that I needed a bigger break. Or that I needed to wait on tweaking my run form. Listen to the whispers because the screaming and shouting hurts.

Sometimes you need a shake-up to wake up. It's easy to become obsessed with data and wattage and mileage and targets when you're aiming for a goal. I got lulled to sleep with all the stats. This shake up made me realize that my running is more than just a number (00:00:00) on a results page. I missed the oval of the track, I missed my running friends, I missed the sunrises. I missed the simple act of moving quickly. I am waking up to a greater appreciation of movement.

Here are a couple more journal entries:

Thursday, June 19
It's been four weeks. I bought a pair of new shoes and got a massage today as reward for my patience. I've scheduled a bike fit for next week.  I can't believe I've been longing for track workouts. 

Sunday, June 29

It's been one month and I want to run. I feel like a could run - but I won't. I trained with the spice girls today which meant that when they took off on a six-mile run, I walked 2.5. The closest I got to running was a little light jog/walk through the yard with Bee Beth's new puppy, Otto.

Tuesday, July 1

I almost cancelled my follow-up appointment with Dr. Jolley but decided to go. I wanted him to see me once more and to assure me that I'd be able to run someday (soon). He assessed my calf, had me flex and point a few times and stand on it.  As a runner himself, I knew I could trust his word on when to run - and when to wait. He gave me the okay, but encouraged me to wait as long as I could.

Wednesday, July 2

Prepared for LiftOff
I waited one day.  I warmed up on the bike with a fast hour and a half draft-legal time trial at the  Brunswick Forest velodrome (five-mile circular neighborhood with only two right hand turns). I started my transition run with a one mile walk/run/walk. It felt pretty damn good! At the five minute mark I thought, hmmmmm, why is it getting harder to breathe? I looked at my watch and was doing 8:40 pace. :)  EXCIIIIIITED! 

Thursday, July 10

I've logged three run workouts this week and feel great. It's been six weeks since the injury and I'm feeling cautiously optimistic. I'm concentrating on building volume and can't wait to try a little longer run this weekend. 

Sunday, July 13

Six miles in the books! I took it nice and easy. I feel like I've had a running reboot. I did 10-minute miles and had a great run down the sound road. It was sweaty and hot, I got hit in the face with a bug, saw three dead snakes in the road and a mole - but I feel great.



See What Had Happened Was.......

I've taken another break from writing because I've been pouting. I've been acting like a baby - crying, whining and stamping my feet. Okay, I've actually only been stamping ONE foot because I've been injured.

Here's how it all went down. You may remember that the Carolina Beach Double Sprint was followed up a week later by one of the craziest things I've ever done: a double century - a 200 mile bike ride in two days. I recovered for a week with lots of swimming but a week later I added an extra strength session, power yoga and some tweaks to my run form. On the last Thursday night in May I pulled an AllStar team together for the Wilma Dash - an all-women's 5k. We were decked out in stars and glitter and skirts and tutus and more.  It was a great way to spend a Thursday night.

We took a team picture and I headed to warm-up. I jogged/walked down the street. I did my side-to-side dynamics. A half a block later, Sunshine Spice and I turned toward the river and I said: let's do the skippy bound things first because I hate them. Skip. Skip. BOUND!

When I took off on my right leg, I felt like I'd been shot. I folded in half in pain and tried not to crumple to the asphalt. I knew right away that it was more than a muscle cramp. I couldn't put weight on my forefoot, my calf was instantly swollen to twice it's normal size and I felt like I might throw up. My calf muscle was torn.

The pain took my breath away. I assured my team I'd see them at the finish and as they took off for the start line, I sat on the curb and cried a little. After they started, I went into the expo. I stopped by the TrySports Wilmington booth and whined and cursed and moaned and groaned to Scott and Adam and Kristin at the nearby WithoutLimits booth.  They let me hide, elevate my foot and foam roll my calf. As the finishers rolled in, I hobbled out to the pier to cheer on my team. In the end, the AllStars helped me back to the expo where I sat in the corner with my leg elevated, my calf smashed onto a dripping bag of ice. My team kept me fed and hydrated - with wine to dull the pain.

Here are some of my notes along the way.

Friday: May 30
I am sick to my stomach. I'm so sad and disappointed. I drove to Raleigh with a compression sock sandwich on my leg - sock + ice + sock. Walking like a penguin or Charlie Chaplan. 

I spend half the night googling calf sprains v. calf strains, tears versus ruptures, soleus, achilles and gatrocnemious. I self-diagnosed a grade two calf strain. 

Sunday: June 1
Spent the day cheering for my AllStars with Erica all day. I almost cried when she saw me limping around. Oh, Honey, she said....and I knew it was bad. She's a P.A. and has seen all sorts of injuries. When she suggested going to the doctor, I knew I was in trouble.

We spent three hours on the bike course and three hours on the run course. It was an amazing day.  Karen finished her first half iron and Lisa (my adopted AllStar for the day) had a great race!

Karen, Coach and Beth S.
Monday: June 2
I wake up crying. All that time on my feet yesterday means pain today. As Ace was stretching after a run, I stretched out on my yoga mat beside him and sobbed. I'll never be able to run! Why did this happen? I was in the best shape ever! This isn't fair.   Wah Wah Wah

8:20am. I'm waiting to see the doctor. I don't want to be here but it's the responsible thing to do. If my athletes faced this same predicament, I would insist on a great doctor and a definitive diagnosis.  The definitive diagnosis was just as I expected: grade two calf strain. No running for four to six weeks.

Tuesday: June 3
I survived a 3200-yard Lance swim without kicking. And I pushed off the wall with my left leg only. 

Saturday: June 7
I've spent most of this week sleeping including two hour-long naps yesterday. Part of it is physical, most of it is mental. I'm sad. I was doing so well. This was going to be my fastest year ever. Now all my run progress is lost. I'll never run again! 
My life is over. Nothing will ever happen to me anymore!

I woke up this morning at 5:00am for the second annual celebration swim at Banks Channel. I arrive early and limp to packet pick-up. I try to hide my injury from my tri-buddies, but meet up with Rebecca in the Blockade Runner bathroom. Girl! I know what you mean, she assures me. You may remember that she was the one at the Azalea tri in 2013 who calmed me, loved on me and made me feel better about pulling out of that race. She shared her story of an arthritis-type ailment and assured me that this wasn't a forever thing. She encouraged me to embrace the break. I hope to rally and someday perform amazing feats like she does (like qualify for Age-Group Nationals).

I limped into the water and swam without kicking for 1.2 miles in a slack current. I had to walk backward up the beach and across the timing mat at the finish to avoid more pain and strain in my calf. I still finished in 31:14 and finished first/fifth in my age group. I was very pleased.

Thursday, June 12
It's been two weeks. I am walking less like a penguin but running is not even an option. My overly dramatic train of thought has morphed into worry: what if I can't run again? What if I can't race B2B? What if I can't race at all? What if this were worse - what would I do?

I've added a very sexy accessory for my recuperation. I'm wearing it at night - to keep my foot flexed and stretched. I borrowed it from a friend who did the same thing to her calf (both at the same time!) a while back. When she went to the doctor, he told her it was a common middle-age injury. We both agreed that that comment probably hurt worse than the muscle tear. 

Saturday, June 15
I'm still sad about my injury. I won't lie, I'm grieving. I can see the cycle - I am well-versed in shock, denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. Today I had my first flash of acceptance. I did a fun swim > to > bike transition and had a blast with Jen, Renee, Ty and Jon. Somewhere on North Lumina with the sun coming up and the wind whistling through my bike helmet I thought: this isn't so bad. If worse becomes worse, I can swim and bike. This feels amazing!

Sunday, June 16

Thankfully, I'm turning the corner mentally. I've gone from OH, I'LL NEVER RUN AGAIN! To: Hey, I like not running. I'm starting to enjoy my recuperation.


Saturday: June 14
Blueberries. This week I added two bike sessions, including the Tour de Blueberry in Burgaw, NC. I nailed the ride - 42 miles with a purposeful transition walk afterward. Then I did an ambling transition walk with Sunshine and Honey Spice in downtown Burgaw for the Blueberry Festival. We taste-tested eleventy blueberries from different farms and I left with a flat of blueberries from Ivanhoe, some blueberry preserves and a blueberry muffin. 

Tuesday: June 17

We're at the three week mark. My leg is blue but my mood is not.  The swelling is down but there is beautiful blue bruise around my ankle and up to my calf. It's not pretty. 




How to Live a Life that Matters

I'm stealing a post today from Michael Hyatt's site.

The desire to create lasting transformation in the world is what really drives us as leaders, right? Since the news of her death, I’ve been thinking a lot about Maya Angelou. Her legacy offers several valuable insights for living a life of true significance.
Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou speaking at Burns Library, Boston College. Creative Commons.
The odds were against Angelou in her early years. Her parents divorced when she was three, and she spent several years under the care of her grandparents.

Then, when she finally moved back with her mother at age eight, she was sexually abused by her mom’s boyfriend. Within hours of his conviction the abuser was murdered.

Angelou blamed herself for the man’s death. Can you imagine the trauma? It was so overwhelming she became a mute and wouldn’t speak for years. But somehow writing gave her a road out.
She wrote poems as a teen, moved to New York as a young woman and joined the Harlem Writers Guild, and then traveled abroad as a journalist, working in Egypt and Ghana.
At home in the States she was active in the Civil Rights movement and also worked as a singer, actor, and screenwriter. She’s best remembered as a poet and the author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first of five best-selling memoirs.
Sure, people will debate the merits of her work, disagree with her politics, and criticize her literary contribution. But whatever your opinion, Maya Angelou has a lot to teach us.
I’m sure others could come up with their own lists, but here are five lessons from Angelou’s story that resonate with me as important for living a life of lasting significance:

Lesson #1: Faith Is a Source of Courage

A foundation of faith can give us the confidence we need to act boldly.
“When I found that … I was a child of God,” Angelou told an interviewer about her faith, “when I understood that, when I comprehended that … when I internalized that, I became courageous. I dared to do anything that was a good thing.”
Look at the long list of Angelou’s accomplishments, and ask what we could do if we could take courage in our faith. I bet it’s more—and better—than we dream.

Lesson #2: Excellence Pays Big Dividends

Everyone today says we should follow our passions, that we should do what we love. I agree. But that’s only a recipe for significance if people care about what we love.
I like how Angelou put it: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”
Whatever our passion and drive, we have to contribute to others for our lives to matter to them. We need to offer something they really need, something they just can’t let go of.

Lesson #3: Success Takes Work

Angelou’s writing is so graceful it can seem effortless. But it’s not.
“Being a natural writer is like being a natural concert pianist who specializes in Prokofiev!” she said during a talk at Johns Hopkins. “To write well one works hard at understanding the language. I believe it’s almost impossible to say what you mean and make someone else understand.”
It takes practice, training, and cultivation for talent to become more than potential. A life that matters requires work.

Lesson #4: Optimism Puts Us in Control

Speaking about the South, Angelou said it’s easy to see it as “a repository of all bad things,” but she decided to see it differently.
“It’s beautiful!” she said. “That’s why people have fought for it. The place where I live is lovely.”
Why be so upbeat? I think the key is in a line from her book, Letter to My Daughter: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
Optimism puts us in control of negative events. Sometimes the only thing we can control is our reaction. And refusing to let the tragic and unfortunate get the upper hand is the best response if we want to rise above.

Lesson #5: It’s Worth Taking a Few Dares

Sometimes others know us better than we do. A challenge from the outside can be just what we need to trigger excellence.

Initially, Angelou didn’t want to write I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, but a friend, James Baldwin, conspired with Angelou’s editor Robert Loomis.
“If you want Maya Angelou to do something,” Baldwin said, “tell her she can’t do it.”

Loomis followed Baldwin’s advice, called Angelou, and told her to forget it—writing the memoir didn’t make any sense. “It’s nearly impossible to write autobiography as literature,” he said. She took the bait.

“I’ll start tomorrow.” And the rest is history.

And thank goodness. Maya Angelou has had a global impact for these and many other reasons. Perhaps the best way to honor her accomplishments is to take what was best in her life and let it fuel our own.


Battleship to Beach

I've taken a few days off this week. Honestly, I've been processing all that happened last weekend in 208 miles for the Tour de Cure. I'll write more about that in the next few days, but I wanted to give a quick update on today.

I think I'm considering today's ride the start of my Beach to Battleship Ironman training. It had all the markers of a new beginning: connection. It felt like ironman from the start - the alarm goes off at 4:30am and I begin all the preparations for a long ride. Coffee, calories, coconut water. I left the house with six bottles: four for my bike, one for a breakfast smoothie and one for coffee.

Downtown from Battleship Park: Sunrise and Moon Set
I met a group at the Battleship that included Falcon Spice and some VERY fast boys. I was able to keep up and even chat with a few of the other cyclists (including fellow blogger Matt Ham) for about thirty minutes. We rode two-by-two for the first ten miles which was AWESOME because headwinds roared at ten to fifteen miles per hour. My Garmin bike computer beeped at the 30 minute mark and I think the boys heard it - suddenly they sped up, moved to a single file pace line and took off. My heart rate also took off and after only five minutes I fell off the back of the line. 

I chased Falcon Spice for the rest of the ride.  We headed out on HWY 421 to Blueberry Road and then Malpass Corner in gusty winds. The flood of memories fueled me. The last time I traveled this road: October 26, 2013 and I began to retrace my bike steps all along the way. It was fun and kept my mind occupied. For the rest of the miles, I was entertained by my aforementioned bike computer. I realized that it was doubling my speed. I was hitting every mile in 1minute and 45 seconds - essentially 36mph! It was fun. I imagined that my coach wouldn't believe me - that she would accuse me of hitching my bike to the back of a car and driving the distance (which was 45 miles - not 73 as indicated on my Garmin 500).

The best thing about headwinds on the way out means tailwinds on the way back. My wonky computer read 43 mph! I chased Erica and grinned as we hit the mile markers that I know and love: the turn at Blueberry road, the 110 B2B mile marker and even the Battleship (no longer the race finish but still an amazing sight for sore eyes and a reminder of my first half iron). We wheeled into Battleship Park amid Memorial Day traffic. We ran for ten minutes down to the Memorial bridge and back and stretched - chatting like we did last summer.  It was all a connection to last season and it excited and scared me all at once.

Memorial Day Flags at Full Salute
After the ride, I hit the beach with Ace. We spent the day relaxing on the shore: watching the Lazer sailors out on the Atlantic, the pilots on the east coast skyway and the tourists and locals on the shore of Wrightsville Beach.




I heard a great joke today: 
A seven year old boy and his four year old brother are upstairs in their bedroom. The seven year old is explaining that it is high time that the two of them begin swearing. When his little brother responds enthusiastically, the seven year old says, "When we go down stairs for breakfast this morning, I'll say "Hell" and you say "ass." The four year old happily agrees.

As the two boys are seating themselves at the breakfast table, their Mother walks in and asks her older son what he would like to eat for breakfast. 

The seven year old replies, "Ah hell, mom, I'll just have some Cheerios."

Pop! The surprised mother reacts quickly with a reprimand. The boy runs upstairs, bawling and rubbing his behind. 

With a sterner voice, the mother then asks the younger son, "And what would YOU like for breakfast?" 

"I don't know," the four year old blubbers, "but you can bet your ass it's not gonna be Cheerios."

Triathlon Pro

Who says you can't get paid for triathlons? Technically, pros are athletes who meet these criteria: 
Pro: Tim O'Donnell
  • Finish within 8% of the winning elite time on the same course as the elites
    (distance and format) in three USAT sanctioned events that offered a prize purse of
    $5,000 or greater. All three results must be from the same calendar year. 
  • Finish top-10 overall and within 8% of the winner’s time at the ITU Age Group
    Olympic Distance World Championships.   
  • Finish top-10 overall in the amateur field at Ironman 140.6 World
    Championships in Kona.
  • Finish top-5 overall and within 8% of the winner’s time at USAT Age Group
    Olympic Distance National Championships. 
  • Finish top-5 overall and within 8% of the winner’s time at USAT Collegiate
    Olympic Distance National Championships. 
  • Finish top-3 overall in the amateur field at an Elite Qualifying Race.

Elites/Pros (used interchangeably by USAT) are top notch athletes who earn sponsorships from a pro triathlete is paid by sponsors. They may receive bikes, apparel, entry into races, living expenses, lifetime supply of chocolate milk, etc.

Pro: Tim O'Donnell & Mirinda Carfrae
Pro: Crowie

There are ways to be an everyday pro. I'm so lucky to have a nutrition sponsor - Amino Vital. I'm one of their everyday athletes and they send me everything I need to fuel my workouts and recovery. 

Plus, I'm paid, too! Okay, I make mere pennies each year from my triathlon training. And I do it by scrounging up loose change at my swims, bikes or runs. You may remember that last year I beat Jenni Sunshine Dirty Spice on the last day of the year with a .52 cent find on the last run of the year. In 2014 I've made a dollar! And I'm looking forward to the next three months when hurried tourist drop change by the parking meters at the beach. 

Here are my latest finds. I like to write where I found them and who I was with. I found one this past Friday, half-buried in the sand at a pre-race workout at Carolina Beach.

P.S. This was just an excuse to put Craig Alexander and Tim O'Donnell on my blog.