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

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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!