Seeing the sights by bicycle has always been one of my favorite ways to explore a city, beach or countryside. The bikes available for rent weren’t stellar but they got the job done. Two and a half speeds and enough bounce to rival that of a hydraulics equipped Snoop-mobile. The Poipu beach area of Kauai is a beautiful place to explore by bike and gave me the chance to work off the macadamia nuts, fish tacos and guava juice that I’ve consumed by the pounds and gallons; one of the many advantages of being active while on vacation. Clean, green energy and photo opportunities that fly by too fast to take advantage of when in a car. Enjoy the photos!
“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The 5th annual Alpha Delta Pi-athlon was a short but sweet race held on March 24th in the cold rain in Murfreesboro, TN. (300m/16k/5k) On any other day, I would have enjoyed a cold, rainy Sunday morning. Those mornings are perfect for grabbing coffee and catching up with a good book or magazine that I get too busy to read during the week. This particular morning, however, I found myself, standing outside in the drizzle, later full on rain, with blue goose-bumped skin trying to quell the inner monologue that went something like this:
Me: Turn the car around. Go home.
Me: No, I’ve trained and I’m going to do this.
Me: It’s in the 40’s and raining, idiot, turn this train around and go home.
Me: I can do it. They give out medals at the end. I want one!
Me: I’ll buy you one online, now get in the car and go home.
I came close to following up on the advice given me by the negative voice in my head, but decided instead to treat it like an episode of Survivor and muddle through the best I could. People climb mountains and boat solo around the world so I figured I could make this happen.
The swim went by super fast. I came within a millimeter of getting kicked in the face, but managed to avoid that. I know the day will come in which that will probably happen, but I didn’t need to add insult to the list of imaginary injuries I had compiled while inwardly whining about the weather. Running out of the MTSU swim complex in a wet tri suit wasn’t great and I wondered if the spectators were inspired by us or if they were thinking we definitely drank the Kool-Aid somewhere along the way and should maybe take up a different hobby.
T1 took me a bit of time. Having watched the weather forecast closely the previous week, I hit the cold-weather clearance sale at Sun & Ski on Saturday for gloves and a jacket to throw on for the bike ride. I ended up leaving the gloves behind, not because I’m some sort of bad ass who can bike in the cold rain without them, but because I couldn’t get them onto my wet hands and ended up cursing and throwing them after struggling for an entire minute to get one only halfway on. The rain really settled in during the bike portion of my race. Rain came in every direction. It fell from the sky. It spat sideways at us from the cars (the roads were not closed for the race) and it shot up from the tires, which were kicking up water and dirt. My entire body was soaked and my feet went numb at some point during bike, but I actually had fun and went as all out as I could, safely, given the poor road conditions.
About halfway through the course, I saw a woman with a coffee cup in hand watching the racers from her front porch. I could see smoke coming from the chimney of her house and it did cross my mind that having coffee and a chat by her fireplace may be more fun than what I was doing, but my inner monologue had taken on a more positive tone, so I didn’t stop to bum some coffee and warmth. My favorite part of the bike was the chachki cemetery we passed along the course. I’d never seen anything like it and wished that I had a camera to document the two acres (approx.) of strategically placed fake flowers, lawn gnomes, wheelbarrows and farm equipment turned art pieces. Amazing.
T2 took me about a 3rd of the time T1 did. I just wanted to be out of the weather at that point. I can honestly say that I couldn’t feel my feet for the first third of the run. The rain had stopped at this point, but it was hard to avoid the puddles of water on the course. I just wanted to finish. I was cold, wet and pretty hungry so I cruised across the finish line, thankful to have made it through the first race of the year. My time was 1:24. I figure that my time will improve in the future with better conditions. Happy Tri-ing!
Earlier this year, I signed myself up to join the Nashville Triathlon Club. I thought it would be good for me to take part in their group training events, specifically the group swims. A few months later and I’m helping them with their website and blogging for them! If you would have looked into your crystal ball and told me that I would be not only a member of a tri club, but also be acting as their official blogger, I would have suggested you take a trip to your local therapist to get checked out.
I am loving getting to know the members of the club and am motivated and inspired by being a part of the growing triathlon community in Nashville. Yesterday I posted a blog on the NTC website in a section that I started writing called the Member Spotlight. I want to share that post with all of you, because it is SERIOUSLY INSPIRING. NTC board member, Nick Nicholson finished the IUTA Word Cup Race Ultra Triathlon in Lake Anna, Virginia in October. He completed the 421.8 mile race in 52 hours. Excuse me, what? Yes, that makes him a triple Ironman! He was one of thirty-five triathletes from 8 countries around the world who competed in this race. I will stick to sprints for now and let the Nicks of the world tackle the ultra triathlons. Click the link below to read a bit of his story:
“Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race.” ~ H.G. Wells
Today was supposed to be a race simulation day in my training schedule, but I asked my coach to make a few changes to the plan so that I could participate in Femme Fondo, a women-only fundraising ride directed by Vida Greer, co-owner of Gran Fondo Cycles. The ride, formerly known as Hope On Wheels benefiting the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation, took place this morning at 8am in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, one of the most beautiful parts of the south that I’ve experienced. I love the quote by Vida on the Femme Fondo website:
“Even as a great fundraiser, I can’t find the dollars to cure breast cancer, but if a healthy, active lifestyle decreases a woman’s chance of incurring cancer by 30% – I can make a difference with this bike ride!”
Vida organized an amazing ride today for 300 women cyclists, and on top of that, she is a fellow rescue beagle owner and that makes me like her even more! (Scooter hangs out at the bike shop and he is one precious boy hound.)
The weather forecast for this morning did not look hopeful as of midnight last night, but the predicted rain remained a light drizzle until the last 1.5 miles of the 12-mile course. For those women who participated in the 35 and 65-mile courses, I’m afraid they ran into a drop of crummy weather. When I arrived back at the finish, the rain was coming down and the wind was picking up. My drive on the Natchez Trace Parkway out to the ride looked something like this:
(Stop and take it in, instead.)
Even with the less than stellar weather, it was a beautiful ride. (Beautiful and oh, so incredibly hilly.) I’ve only been to the Leiper’s Fork area once, four years ago when I got hired to do a job out at Dark Horse, one of the most amazing recording studios around. I don’t remember falling in love with LF as much as I did today, drizzle or no drizzle. Aside from the rides I used to take on the Mt. Vernon Trail in the Washington, D.C. area, this was one of the most magical places that I’ve ever had the opportunity to enjoy.
The working horse farms, the silos, the farmhouses, the green hills and the animals all looked like a Grant Wood painting sprung into existence. My biking buddy for the day and I marveled out loud through the entire ride, and she lives in that area. (It was actually less marveling and more me yelling phrases like,” Holy crap, wild turkeys!”) Yes, it was a beautiful ride. My favorite moment involved a small herd of cattle, all of their heads turning slowly in perfect unison observing our huffing and puffing as we pedaled past their pen. I may have been the only person to notice the cows and the subtle bewildered look in their big brown cow eyes. I laughed out loud. No one else did. Oh, well.
So about my new biking buddy. I met Peggy today waiting for the ride to start. I think I asked her a newbie-oriented question, or maybe she asked me one, I can’t remember, but Femme Fondo was the first group ride for both of us. I was happy to meet someone there, as I was a little bummed about having no one to chat with. Also, losing my keys within the first ten minutes of being there didn’t help. Luckily, they were sitting right where I left them on the registration table. Jeez. Peggy took some of the pictures for us, but I don’t have as many as I normally would. I stopped along the course for a few photo ops, but had to discontinue my photography efforts when the drizzle intensified. I have big plans to go back out to Leiper’s Fork to ride and take pictures, especially with the leaves about to start turning.
(It’s never too soon for silly.)
If you live anywhere in or near Tennessee, in Alabama, Mississippi, or even if you don’t, Vida’s annual Femme Fondo ride is worth the trip.
(Photo Sources: Peggy Crawford and me.)
(Video Source: www.granfondocycles.com)
“Don’t believe in miracles – depend on them.” -Laurence J. Peter
On August 26th, a member of our family was severely injured in an accident that occurred as he was about to bike into T2. He suffered a brain stem injury and remains in a trauma center on life support. If you’re the praying kind and even though you don’t know him personally, please say a prayer for a man named Gary Grant, a husband, a father of three sons, a teacher, a coach and a triathlete.
What are we supposed to do when the only treatment option left is a miracle? If you are a believer, and sometimes even if you’re not, you hit your knees and ask for the miracle to happen, knowing that it can and will if it’s in God’s plan. Gary’s wife, a music teacher at the middle school in their town, asked that people leave stories of miracles on her Facebook page that they’ve experienced, heard about or know to have happened. I am a believer and I know they do happen. She said in one of her recent updates on Gary’s condition, “I know that my husband is a fighter and is strong enough to claim a miracle.” We’re on our knees, Elaine.
I want to share something that Gary’s brother wrote in an update shortly after the accident and I hope he doesn’t mind me doing so. It is beautiful.
“It appears that Gary has accidentally entered that Ironman he always wanted to and ready or not here we go. He has just begun the first strokes of the swim and tides and currents will push him forward and back. Hills, heat and wind will threaten and obstruct but we will all be along the course supplying drinks and energy bars and shouting words of encouragement. This race is not about how long it takes but the will to finish. His spirit is strong and all the support will sustain him along the way!”
Please send a prayer up for Gary.
(Photo Source: insidetheshrink.blogspot.com)
Anything worth finishing is worth finishing twice. That was one of the things I learned Saturday at Team Magic’s first Girls Tri It On Nashville triathlon. The race was part of the Making A Move series here in Middle Tennessee, which is a series of five different events that, as described on the Make A Move website, are “designed to encourage women to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle.” The triathlon was the 2nd of five events and the distances were less than a traditional sprint, hence the name “Tri It On.” Tri it and maybe you’ll like it! There were roughly 200 women who participated in the race and I would bet my fancy new triathlon suit that a large percentage of them were beginners. It was the perfect opportunity for me to experience transitions in an easier race and to build some confidence. The Team Magic ladies are awesome and I was thankful to have the opportunity to participate in what I call my “rehearsal” triathlon.
(Any chance to be ridiculous is one that I will take.)
I had only one brief panicked internal Q & A session before the race, which is remarkable progress for me.
“Why are you really doing this?” “Why did you wear a ruffled sweater wrap over your tri suit? Could you not find something sportier and less embarrassing?” “Why did you forget to buy waterproof mascara?”
(Focus. My least favorite F-word.)
Those were the irrational and hyper-dramatic thoughts that went skipping through my mind on Saturday morning. My next thought was “Ok, Gloria Swanson, trade that turban for a swim cap, dial back the drama and pull yourself together.” When I allowed myself to do that and subsequently took a moment to observe and listen to some of the other women, I realized that there were a few who were also having nerve-induced emotional outbursts, only out loud and in the middle of the transition area.
The end of the world must, in fact, be getting close because I was able to remain calm and talk some of my fellow newbies off of their ledges and into the line-up for the swim. One woman, whose name I didn’t get, but who I will not forget, was walking around exclaiming to anyone and no one in particular, “I’m so nervous. I’m seriously going to pee my pants.”
As it turned out, she was near me in the line-up before the swim. I said to her, “It’s ok. This is my first race, too. I’m breathing and thinking about the bacon I’m going to eat at breakfast after the race. That helps me. This is fun! Let’s just try to finish and enjoy the experience. Think bacon.” Her response was, “But I’m seriously going to pee my pants.” The only thing I could think to say at that point was, “Well, you’re in a swimsuit and actually don’t have any pants on, and if you’re going to pee, just don’t do it in the pool. Or at least wait until there’s some space between us.” I think the conversation diffused some of the nerves because she was laughing and looking a little less terrified when the race started.
Here are the details of my first mini-triathlon:
Swim: I completed the 200-meter swim in 5:12. 200 meters is usually about what I do for a warm-up and in a shorter amount of time, but again, this was my “practice” triathlon, so I’m ok with it.
T1: My time in my first-ever T1 was 2:25. Apparently I need to spend some time practicing the art of getting my bike helmet buckled because the process ate up at least 30 seconds of my time. In the excitement of it all, I clearly lost any and all co-ordination that I’ve worked hard to acquire; and let me tell you, I didn’t have a lot to begin with. I also wasted about 10 seconds asking a fellow racer if I was going to get a penalty for my bike being racked in what I thought was the incorrect way. I’m a rule follower and I suppose I’m ok with that also.
(Do you think we’ll get a penalty for our bikes pointing the same direction?)
Bike: I finished the 5.5-mile bike ride in 17:05. Again, slower than usual, but I’m just thankful that I made it through without any penalties for passing incorrectly. I was irrationally focused on not catching the attention of the girl on a motorcycle who was responsible for doling out the penalties.
T2: I did better in T2 than in T1 and got in and out in 1:43, but still wasted a little bit of time trying to decide if I wanted to put my hair in a ponytail or not.
Run: Here is where things get a little tricky. The run course was a 2-loop situation and I was doing really well until I got to the end of the first loop and could NOT figure out where I was supposed to turn around. I asked a couple of volunteers where the 2nd loop started and they flagged me towards what, to me, looked like the path to the finish line.
I kept running, but quickly realized that I was definitely about to cross the finish line without completing the second loop. Crap!!! I then heard, over the loudspeaker, “Number 52! Robin Grant from Nashville!” I started waving my arms and yelling, “No! No! I haven’t finished my second loop!” When I reluctantly crossed the finish line I saw my new coach Caroline handing out water to the finishers. I’m not sure that she recognized me when I ran up to her yelling like a crazed person that I hadn’t finished the second loop and asking what I should do about it. She said to run back and finish the second loop, so that’s what I did. I ran the wrong way back through the finish line and did another loop. Really.
As it turns out, there was a lot of confusion about the run course and in the interest of fairness, the run didn’t count in the official standings. So after the swim, T1, the bike and T2, I finished 17th out of the 53 in my age group.
What I took away from this day was this: I had a great time. I found a new friend in a fellow rookie who I’m going to be doing some running with. I got to practice transitions. I got a new workout t-shirt and a hot pink water bottle coozie. I finished, two times, a race that not that long ago, would have been impossible for me to complete.
-Any funny stories from your first triathlon? I would love to hear them!
“I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle; I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride my bike; I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride it where I like…; I don’t believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman; All I wanna do is bicycle, bicycle, bicycle…”
In my last post, I wrote that I would start reporting on what workouts I got in the previous week. To be honest, I’m surprised I, or anyone in the state of Tennessee, (or the other states in our situation) accomplished anything in the physical fitness department other than walking through the house to turn the thermostat down. Hot.Dry.Wow. Tennessee hasn’t seen this kind of heat and drought situation since 2007. If you could, for one minute, block out the searing heat and just look around, you might think it was fall. Dead leaves are scattered all around, plants are dying and the grass hasn’t needed to be cut in almost a month. Bizarre.
Thankfully, we’ve had a little rain pop up here and there and, finally last night, a much-needed down pour. The weather prediction of the day says that we shouldn’t see temperatures higher than 89 degrees, so hopefully I will be able to get in an outside run today! As you will see in a moment, I didn’t do much running last week. Biking, yes. Running, not so much. I blame it on the Tour de France. Watching the coverage, if you’re interested in this sort of thing, is really exciting and if you’re like me, makes you want to go hop on your bike and start pedaling.
So here is the workout review:
Monday, July 2nd: If fanning one’s self in the heat counts for an arm workout, then I get a gold star for getting in a workout. If not, then no workout on this day.
Tuesday, July 3rd: 1:03 minutes out on the bike.
This particular bike ride was a reminder of two important things: Don’t be stupid and ride when it’s still 101 degrees outside. Even if it’s at 5:30PM and I think l’ll be ok. The second thing is also safety-related. It would probably be a good idea to have some form of identification while out running or biking. I got pretty ill in the last 20 minutes of my ride. I got really dizzy and nauseous and was hanging out on the side of the road looking for some place to lose my lunch. I kept thinking to myself, “Wow, you’re gonna pass out. You have no phone, no ID. You’re gonna be Jane Doe in the hospital in your embarrassing padded bike shorts.” Thankfully, I made it through the Tour de Heat Exhaustion and was ok. There have been about a hundred commercials for these Road ID’s during the Tour coverage and I think I may buy one.
Wednesday, July 4th: 55 minutes on the bike.
I was out much earlier in the day, but was still a little tired from the previous evening. All went well.
Thursday, July 5th: A combination of drills in the pool totaling 800 meters.
Friday, July 6th: 60 minute Barry’s Bootcamp Full Body Class.
The first 15 minutes was all running, so I’m going to say that I did get some running in. The rest of the class was a mixture of plyometrics, weights and a bit more running. I needed to mix it up a little and this class did the trick.
Saturday, July 7th: Another hour on the bike. I can’t stay off my new road bike. I love it.
Sunday, July 8th: Sunday was a “life got in the way” day. I had a million things happening, so I didn’t get in a workout. Boo!
There we have it! Now today it all starts over. I’ll be trying to stick to my plan a little better, but still add in a Barry’s class. Happy Monday!
“I believe in manicures. I believe in overdressing. I believe in primping at leisure and wearing lipstick. I believe in pink. I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day, and… I believe in miracles.” -Audrey Hepburn
The first time I ever purposely wore pink was for a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event, at which I ran in honor of my grandmother, a breast cancer survivor. But before then, I always hated pink. I never wore it. Nor did I wear bows, ruffles or pink frosted lip gloss. I was a seriously dramatic choir girl with a brooding and sensitive reputation to protect. Yes, I loved clothes and make up, but if the color was pink? Pass.
Flash forward to 2012 and chances are you will see me sporting some piece of hot pink athletic wear that I decided, at some point, I couldn’t live without. There is a theory floating around out there proposing that our tastes in pretty much everything changes every 7 years. For example, if you didn’t like tomatoes as a child, chances are you will begin liking them at some point in adulthood. That makes sense to me. I was never a fan of cheese or anything pink and now I seem to beeline for the cheese samples at Whole Foods and anything pink in the athletic-wear department. My Polar HR Monitor is hot pink. My reflective running gear is hot pink and now I can add a ridiculous hot pink biking jersey to the list. I tend to buy things based on how they make me feel. I’m a retail marketer’s dream consumer. I’m sure that mine isn’t the most efficient purchase-making process, but this jersey made me laugh. Who doesn’t like to laugh?
What is Father’s Day? I think this picture says it all.
Photo Credit: My Mother