A Funny Thing Happened....[Part Two]

[A Side Note: Fun things are happening at BethAndrew.Com! CLICK HERE for a sneak peek! ]

You can't help who shows up on race day.  A podium spot should never be the goal. It's something you can't control. You may have the race of your life and if Mirinda Carfrae shows up - you will still be second. It can be icing on the cake - but it should not be the goal. You can control what goes into the cake. So, the goal is to whip up the best ingredients in your race and see how it tastes at the finish line.

I was reminded of this when M.T. showed up. I don't know M.T., but I know she's fast. I haven't seen her in a race in a while, but she looked as strong as always. I decided I was going to let go of my podium goal. I reminded myself to race for more points in the state series and to race HARD.

And I did. I swam hard. I sped through T1, grabbed my shoes, dunked my feet in the baby pool and headed out on the run seconds before Misty. She caught up and we ran together - though I trailed her by a couple of yards and love her even more for encouraging me the whole way: come on, Beth, she'd call. I'm right behind you! I'd assure her. [Which I'm pretty sure she knew because my wet shoes quacked like a duck with every footfall.]

This is What You Get When You Google: Quack + Shoe

About midway around the lake I felt someone on my heels. I felt her come up beside me and could see the 43 on her leg as she passed. Misty and I hung with M.T. for about three blocks and she jetted off into T2. My thought, if I can just stay with Misty, I'll have a chance for third.  I beat Misty out of the second transition and had my aforementioned wardrobe malfunction. C'mon, Beth! she yelled. I was close for a while, but man, that girl can go.

I pushed hard and smiled the entire bike ride. I love chasing and knew that Tardy Spice was close on my heels. I smiled a lot on the run, too, because I was meeting my goals - making it a progressive run. I hit the last swim and stopped. Fear of some big crashing big waves stopped my forward progress, but then I charged in - ready to finish. No one in my age group had passed me and I wasn't going to let it happen in the water.

The thrilling conclusion tomorrow: MAY THE FOURCE BE WITH YOU.


A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Podium

I am not supposed to worry about results in a race. I am supposed to think about the process. Think about the here and now rather than the outcome. Sometimes my pride gets the best of me. I am competitive with myself and others and I want to win the game. Plus, I like prizes. And attention.

I like to check out who I might be competing against. It's another bad habit - along with thinking about the results - that I do before each race. I cannot help it. It's an obsession. So, last Monday, I checked out the participant list. There were three people in my age group. Sweet! Barring in crazy mishaps, I'd probably make it on the podium. Right?

White Lake Podium 2014: Second Place!
On Wednesday, right before online registration closed two new women signed up in my age group. Misty Brown who I have put on a pedestal for many years (that girl can go!) and Roxy, another fast woman I've been chasing for years. Time to step up my game. 

On Sunday, I joked with Misty about hating her guts. Which is impossible. Not only is she fast, but she's funny and talented and energetic and yes, I wanna be like her when I grow up. But, I sent fake hatred her way. I was feeling pretty optimistic. I knew I could hang with the three top women (Misty, Cee and Roxy) on different parts of the race, and if I could pull together a great all-round effort, I'd be close. 

Then, up walks Melia. 


Carolina Beach Double Sprint 2015

On Sunday, I did the Carolina Beach Double Sprint. It is a crazy fun format: an 375 meter ocean swim + 1.5 mile run + 12 mile bike + 1.5 run back to the beach + an 375 meter ocean swim. That means four transitions and eleventy logistics. 

I had a great race. I pushed when I needed to and talked myself through some rough patches in the swim. I think my biggest gains came in the run. Compared to last year's race, I was really no faster. But, I'm actually learning to look at my watch more during the run. My goal for both runs was to increase my speed by five seconds every four minutes. It worked. And by keeping an eye on my pace I could nail it rather than leave it to my perception.

I had a few wardrobe malfunctions. For the eleventy-eth time I did not start my watch correctly at the horn. I do this a lot and think I press start and I really don't. I realized my mistake as I emerged from the water. Fastest swim ever! 00:00:00. From now on, when the starter says FIVE SECONDS, I'm going to start my Garmin.

In transition TWO (from the run to the bike), I had another issue, this time with my bike shoes. For a faster transition, I rubber band my bike shoes onto my bike. I was able to put on my helmet, take off my run shoes, grab my bike and go! 

Do It Like This. [See the Red Rubber Band?]

At the MOUNT line, I jumped on my bike. My right foot slid right into the shoe. My left foot - not so much. As I pedaled, the rubber bands broke (which is what's supposed to happen) and my left shoe flipped upside down. It took me two blocks to get my left foot in and my shoes tightened. I'd only practiced it twice before race day. Lesson learned.



Stoked 2 Go Out?

Yesterday I mentioned that ocean swimming for me is a big swirl of fun, fear, joy, peace and frustration. On Saturday, I was stoked to go out. And almost immediately I was stoked to be in. I don't know what it is about being in the ocean compared to a lake or even Banks Channel, but it is a different mindset for me. It freaks me out. 

Running into the water fast freaks me out. 

Starting with a lot of people freaks me out. 

Swimming beyond the breakers freaks me out. 

Being too close to shore freaks me out.
The wetsuit rubbing my neck freaks me out.
Swimming alone freaks me out. 

Not getting anywhere freaks me out.
Big swells freak me out. 
When I am listening to that freak out voice in my head, I don't swim faster or better. I swim like a freak. I lose my feel for the water. I lose my stroke. I zig and zag. I can't catch my breath and my kick is way off.

I told someone at the finish of Saturday's race that I need to learn to be patient with myself in ocean swims.  I've recently learned of two Greek words for patience: hupomone patience, which translates into endurance or perseverance inspired by hope and makrothumia, inspired by mercy.  I think I will write these two words on my arm every time I do an ocean swim. I need both!

Stoked to Be In
Wetsuit Hickeys Freak Me Out



Pier 2 Pier Swim

This weekend, I learned a lot about swimming in the ocean. It is a big swirl of fear, joy, frustration, peace and fun. On Saturday, Ace and I did our first pier to pier swim of the season. It was an event called Stoked 2 Go Out - a memorial swim for an incredible young man who we didn't know - but wish we had. On Sunday, I did the Carolina Beach Double Sprint triathlon. It is an ocean swim + run + bike + run + ocean swim. As much as I love swimming, I was afraid of these two swims.

I have had some amazing swims lately. Looking as far back as White Lake international in the fall, I've had a string of great races and swims: White Lake and Pinehurst International, Beach 2 Battleship and most recently White Lake half. I've found myself thinking this is what it feels like to swim well. This is what it feels like to swim fast

I did not think that this weekend. 

I did have some great moments. 

On Saturday, my start was great - I am learning the butterfly kick - and was able to use it to get out fast and past the breakers. I would dive into the wave, dolphin kick a few yards, plant my feet on the bottom and launch myself through the next set of waves with more dolphin kicking. I've never done that before and it was very effective

I hit the deep water and stayed with a group of five swimmers for about three blocks before I finally found my groove. There were no sighting buoys, so I sighted off their strokes for a while. When they disappeared to the right and left, I began sighting off the water rescue volunteers on surfboards.  I also loved swimming from very blue water, into very green water and back into blue. The sun was making the surface of the water sparkle and I loved being surrounded by other swimmers.

But, for the most of the 49 minutes I was in the water, I was experiencing every other emotion and thought.  [My ten minutes are up! More tomorrow].


Hard Way Home

Way back in March, I mentioned writing about more than just the workouts and races. I wanted to write more - and discover more about the WHY and the WHAT. Why I do this crazy sport and what makes an IRONMAN and IRONMAN. I am learning that I do triathlon because it makes me a better person. I can apply what I learn in training in racing to my physical, mental, emotional life. 

Today I learned that I don't always take the easy way. I like the easy way. It's often faster and feels better. My workout was a baby duathlon - a run-bike-run - on Wrightsville Beach. The temperature was perfect and I felt great, but it was windy. I'm pretty sure it was blowing 15-20 from the northeast and I could feel it pushing hard against me. On the way to Shell Island I was pushing to hit 14 and 15mph. On the way back to downtown Wrightsville Beach? I hit 25 miles an hour! 

by Chip Hemingway

Today's workout was practice for the Carolina Double Sprint on Sunday. It's a swim-run-bike-run-swim and the second run is a challenge. When I got off the bike today, it would have been smart to run against the wind first. To head north when my pace wasn't important. But, I decided to head south - to feel the wind at my back for the easy effort and to turn around and face the wind as I built my pace for the last mile. When I did turn around, my pace dropped so I picked it up. The sand swirled so I picked it up. My legs were tired, so I picked it. By the finish I was faster than race pace and my effort was hard - but I finished faster and felt better than I did when I got off the bike. 

I worry about taking the easy way. I like the easy way. It's often faster and it feels better. Avoidance, denial, path of least resistance. That's easy. Confrontation is not. Doing the right thing often is the hard thing. Making decisions is not faster. I don't always get it right but on days like today I can remember that I pushed myself to go the hard way in practice. And it translated to a better run, more confidence and results I was seeking.

[written on May 14, 2015. Published on May 15]


Coastal 10-Miler Part Two

As I settled into my race pace behind my newfound friends Derek and Gary, I also met up with some Spice Girls! Beth, Michelle and Jess had run the course backwards from UNCW and they helped pace me in those first miles. We tucked in right behind the men and chatted about weekend plans, food and fun. Beth & Jess peeled off near the UNCW track and I stayed in step with Derek and Gary. 

Nearing the Finish. Sami, I Hear You
It was slightly windy and I drafted off of them in the headwind. At mile six, I stepped up my pace by five seconds - fueled in part by DJ Tom C and the Without Limits party truck and by protection from the wind on the west side of campus. At mile six, I picked up the pace again. As we rounded a corner I noticed the girls that had passed me at the start of the race were now only 100 yards away. I kept my speed around an 8:25 pace and slowly reeled them in. I was excited to pass them around mile eight. Me? Competitive? Nooooooo.

Gary teased me about changing the rules of the game and he backed off - not wanting to test a hamstring injury. Derek and I kept it up and at mile nine on the cross-city trail traded turns drafting and chatting it up. That last mile was tough: it included three small hills and a zig zag through the neighborhood to the finish line. My strategy was to take the tangents and pick  up my effort through every turn. I finished in 1:26:52 and the aforementioned fist pump and self congratulating began.

The finish line party was fantastic (Krispy Kreme coffee and doughnuts). We all got medals I received a thank you tile and a gift certificate to TrySports for first place in my age group. I made it on the podium and to my car in time for spin class.


Coastal 10-Miler

In keeping with my Ten Minute Challenge, I figured I'd start with my Coastal 10-Miler. In mid-April, I ran the Coastal 10-Miler. It's a new race that fit right into my training calendar and I loved it! Ten miles is a great distance - it's not as fast as a 10k for me and not as long as a half marathon. The course was new (to me) and the cause - Victory Junction - was certainly worthwhile.

I can't describe the joy and the excitement I felt after this race. I was proud - not of my result - but of how I ran the race. I walked for half a mile with the widest grin and a few fist pumps and even an "atta, girl!" for myself. I felt a lot of the same emotions that I felt as I crossed the line for last year's B2B. And boy, do I love that feeling!

Far Left at the Start

I felt great because I ran the race just as I had planned. I needed to negative split my pace - run the first five miles at 9:20 - 9:40/mile and increase my pace by five seconds for the last five. This is hard for me to do. I whine when I see progressive runs on my plan. I curse a little. I yell at my coach - oh wait, I'm my coach now. But I did yell at my coach last year for including them. Now I appreciate her wisdom. 

I started too fast but worked very hard to slow myself down. In the first half mile, I went from an 8:00 min/mile pace to 9:00 min/mile. Adrenaline and pride are the enemy of a great long run. I checked both of them in the first mile. I let a group of fast girls pass me and made myself stay behind two men that were working to stay at a 9:15 pace.   


Ten Minute Challenge

I've been too busy to write! A lame excuse for a blogger. So I'm gonna get back to it. I've been challenged by another blogger to write for ten minutes each day for the next few days and see what happens. So, I've set my timer and started. 

I have been having fun. I've raced two times since my last blog and learned how to Stand Up Paddleboard from World Champion Danny Ching. I started teaching a new class at the Fit Center [Bessie's BadAss Bootcamp] and I'm enrolled at Stanford! Okay, it's really an online class about how My Body Adapts in the World. I'm not really going to Stanford. But, my brain is full of useful knowledge about what happens when we get cold, hot and old.

See? It's hard for me to write about life when I'm so busy living it! But, the reason to live it is to write stories about it. Very. Short. Ten-minute stories.

Danny Ching Stole My SUP and Other Stories.

My timer just buzzed. Gotta Go!



Azalea Sprint 2015 (part three)


My run was awesome. I did not have a personal best. I did not follow a run strategy. I did not stick to my paces and I didn't draft off other runners. It didn't feel fast or good. I didn't even look cute (my allstar kit was rockin' but, what's up with that hat?). But it was awesome. Here's why:  It was better than what I have been running in practice. 

In the three weeks leading up to Azalea, I'd run almost 10 miles. That is not a lot.  Five of those had been that very week. I had been sick with an upper respiratory funk that left me short of breath and coughing for 24 days (but who's counting?!). My longest run in 2015 was 6.65 miles exactly one month prior and my average pace for the past month had been close to a 9:30/mile. That ain't my best!

On race day, I ran 8:30/mile for 3.23 miles (you read that right - the course was long). It was two minutes and 30 seconds slower than last year. But, I knew I was pushing hard and didn't let up. I was focused on my breath and my effort and I pushed myself mentally when I wanted to slow it down.  

Here's another reason why my run was awesome: I was able to cheer on other runners. I saw Beth and Erin and Jen and Julie and Andrea out there on the course.  I was out there with some of my favorite people and celebrating a race with friends is really the most rewarding part of the race. Before the race, I was chatting with our coach, Lance Tate. Our conversation included the EVERYTHING is AWESOME song from the Lego Movie. Naturally, it was on my mind throughout the race. Over and Over and Over.

But it's true, everything is awesome when you're part of a great team. I am so grateful to be a part of this team and proud of the courage and dedication it takes all the athletes to work, train, study, parent and race. And, it makes me happy to go play after a race: we met at the Mellow Mushroom for pints and pie.

Honey Spice Bringin' it Home

Andrea B. at the Finish

As a wrap-up of Azalea, I will say that my goal is to finish this race in under one hour. Last year was soooooooo close. I finished in 1:00:44 and had my best run ever. It's fun to think that the first time I did it, I finished in 1:28:ish and I've improved so much. But, I'm still shooting for a sub-one hour. Maybe after that, I'll retire from this race.


Azalea Sprint Tri 2015 (part two)


The coldest part of the race may have been then stairwell leading out of the pool. It was drafty and frigid and it was almost a relief to get outside in the sunshine. Almost. Due to a late start, the temps had warmed, but it was still in the mid-40s. On my run to transition, I grabbed my bike jacket and put it on. I had strategically placed it on the run to that I could grab it and go. In T1 I also donned my shoes and booties and gloves and hat. It was too much. I was warm - don't get me wrong, but next time I'll suck it up and just put on the jacket. 

too many clothes


After all, the bike is less than nine miles! I can do anything for nine miles. Right? I don't remember much on the bike. I was listening to my breathing and trying to get my wattage up. My favorite part of the course is always the bridge over Bradley Creek. The marsh grass was golden and the sky was tropic blue. Other than that I did what I always do: encourage one, thank one, pass one. I thanked each volunteer, I encouraged someone in transition and I passed at least one cyclist. 

I do have to tell a story about my friend J, though. About halfway through the bike - between mile 4 and 5 on Eastwood Road - she saw someone about 50 yards ahead of her get off the bike and sprawl on the ground.  Concerned, she stopped. Worried that it was a heart attack or worse, she asked if he was all right. No answer. Again, she asked, are you all right? Long pause. Finally, he answered loudly, No! I'm not all right! Do I look all right? I'm freaking freezing. I can't feel my hands or change my freakin' gears! (except he didn't say freakin') He threw down his helmet. Legend has it that he cried and stomped his feet. J's remarkable response? Get on your freakin' bike and finish the damn race. And she pedaled away.(She may not have used the word: freakin')

She later relayed this story to another friend who's reply was just as genius: Awwww, he should have worn a warmer dress



Azalea Sprint Tri 2015


I loved the first race of the season. I've done Azalea five times now and it did just what I wanted it to do: it got me fired up for the rest of the season. It shook off the cobwebs and reminded me of how fun this sport is.  It also taught me a few things to take with me to my next race.

It was a VERY COLD morning. Temps on race day in transition were 32-36 degrees. I opted to do my warmup in the pool instead of my normal run > bike > swim routine and although it didn't make a difference mentally, I think it may have affected my body in the race. I normally do a eight minute ride to check my brakes and gearing to calibrate my power meter and to get my cadence up. Then I do a quick run with dynamic drills and some strides to warm up my legs. Then I get in the water and do 200-300 yards to get a feel for the water. 

I skipped most of that because of the temps. I did take my bike out briefly to check on a sticky back brake that had been repaired by the tech in transition. I did run (very quickly) from transition to the natatorium. In that 30-second run, my feet became ice cubes and felt like concrete blocks.

My warmup was spent running my mouth and swimming. The diving well in the pool area was warm and I sculled, kicked, swam and played around for 20 minutes. Got out, got back in and then went to line up.

The swim (300 yard pool swim) was exactly as I had imagined it. Last week I mentioned that I'd been doing a lot of mental work for this race. One thing was visualization: seeing the swim in my mind exactly how it was going to happen. Once I was in the water, it was deja vu. The water looked the same, it smelled the same. I did my flip turns when I wanted and heard the crowds around me. It was just like I imagined right down to the detail of me swallowing chlorinated water on the third lap. I was relaxed for the entire swim. And I was a few seconds faster.

One more thing before I close for the day. The night before the race, I had watched Grey's Anatomy. Did you know that power posing can make you feel more confident?  Before one of the most important surgeries of her life, Dr. Sheppard stood like a superhero. Feet spread apart, hands on hips, chest out, chin up. Spoiler alert: she nails the surgery.  WATCH THE CLIP HERE. 

In the line-up for the swim start, I stood just like this on the side of the pool. Right before the swim director said go, I did it again. I looked him in the eye and when he said, "Go", I took a deep breath, stepped forward and jumped in. I felt like I was flying!


Race Week - Azalea 2015

As I mentioned the other day, it's race week. Azalea is the first race of the season and the launch of my triathlon year. I admit, this is not an A RACE for me. I am not primed for it - I'm not in sprint tri condition -  but I am looking forward to it. In fact, I'm so excited that my bike is already prepped, my transition bag is almost packed and my race plan is written. Here's why: 

TEAM TRI-UMPHS: I'm most excited to do this race with my team. This race has become our tri club's signature race. It's a hometown race with a setup that allows everyone to see each other out on the course. I can't wait to see my friends and teammates out there. This time, like most years, we have triathlon beginners. So as their coach, I can't wait to see them cross the finish line! Plus, we're headed to the Mellow Mushroom for a post-race celebration. Yum!

TriClub at Azalea 2014

TriClub at Azalea 2014

MENTAL METTLE: I have been working a lot on my mental game for the past few months. I'm doing a few new things mentally that I haven't done in the past. The main one is to be focused on the process over the outcome. I've used this one before, but I need LOTS of practice. I tend to get anxious if I'm not going as fast as I think I should or I don't finish under my goal time. To get me out of that bad habit, I'm using this race to practice my shoulder rotation and bilateral breathing in the swim, I'm going to focus on my effort and cadence on the bike and I'm going to focus on my posture and breath on the run. 

My First Azalea Tri [2009] -
My newest mental skill is visualization. This is completely new and I'm not very good at it, BUT, I've been practicing it for weeks and plan to do it before the race. The premise is that I've been using imagery to see myself doing well, racing fast and feeling great so that when I'm in the moment, my body and brain react as if they've been there before. In my mind, I've practiced 12 lengths of the pool, I've counted my strokes, heard the voices on the pool deck, tasted the chlorine (only on my third and twelfth length), felt the water rush by as I streamline off the wall. I've rehearsed the transitions and imagined it over and over, with a stopwatch to see if I can do it all in under one minute. I've replayed the bike and run in my head and used past races to feel that threshold breath, to remember the tangents on the course and feel that burn in my legs. I've even practiced with the video that I created last year. 

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I've been sick for the past few weeks and have missed eleventy practices. Instead, I've been rehearsing the race in my brain.  I may not be faster, but I'm hoping that this will help me save energy, push a little harder and anticipate the obstacles that come with racing.   

PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE: Although this race is not a prime race for me, I plan to race my hardest and best. I'm practicing mental skills, I'm practicing new swim skill, I'm practicing going hard, I'm practicing the nutrition. The idea is that if I practice now on a smaller race that I'll be primed for my May half iron at White Lake. 
The definition of PRACTICE is to carry out, apply; to do or perform often, customarily or habitually; to be professionally engaged in; to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient; to train by repeated exercises. 
Training makes me a better athlete, racing makes me a better racer. Practicing will put good habits into place, physically and mentally that will carry over into the rest of the year. By the time I face Ironman Florida on November 7 [248 days, 20 hours, 47 minutes], I will be proficient! 




I have a friend who loves to RELAUNCH her training every other week. She'll come into the workout and proclaim that it's time to RELAUNCH!  Maybe because she's missed a few or has a newer attitude or a bright new focus. That's definitely what I'm doing with this blog - and it seems to happen every year. The good news is that I have an idea - two themes - that I'm working on this year to guide what I focus on here in GumboLand. 

It stems from the questions: what and why. One of the biggest questions I hear in this sport is WHY? Friends, co-workers, family - especially my mother-in-law - they all want to know: why would you do this (again)? In fact, when you get the question from someone as important as your mother-in-law, you start to ask and really want to find the answer. 

One of my first blog sites centered around the very concept of Why-I-Tri. I listed reasons like big goals, friends, gear, competition and bling (I love a medal). Those are all true and fun, but as my races got bigger and my training got harder, so did the reasons behind the why.

The other theme stems from a question asked by a fellow coach: what are the qualities of a successful IRONMAN? Which ones do I have and which ones do I need work on? What traits do other athletes have that make them successful -- in triathlon and life in general. And, how can I apply what I learn in training or in a race to my life as a woman, wife, sister, daughter, leader, writer, mover-and-shaker and gumbo maker?

Let's start here, because this ironman, Lisa Hallett, has an amazing story and has a clear reason why she tris.  She pushes the boundaries of belief and transfers them to her own life.


Happy Happy New Year

And by new year I mean it's March! I figured I'd relaunch the site today in preparation for a new year of fun adventures. It's the first of the month, it's the first race week of the season and we're on the cusp of spring. What better time to jump into the mix and write about what's going on.

I am excited about this year and what it holds. There is some growing to do, there are adventures to be had and discoveries to make. I'm inspired by this quote that was tweeted by a friend recently. I'll explain more in future posts, but it sums up why I love to do what I do. And it's why I write about it. Here we go!