It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

July 20, 2016

My Top 5 Good For You Skincare & Body Care Products

Did you know that the average American consumes about 14 pounds of toxins and chemicals per year? Did you know that there are over 1,100 cosmetic ingredients banned in other countries and only 11 banned in the USA? Your skin is the largest organ of your body and since it is porous, it absorbs whatever you put on it. I have really focused on what foods I eat and put in my body, and how I treat my body with exercise, so it only makes sense to start really thinking about what I am putting on my body.  Have you looked at those products on your bathroom counter tops lately?  It might be time to ditch them...and replace them with something better for you!

So here are my top 5 Skincare and Body Care Products I'm using right good to your body and your skin!

Ever Skincare....the entire line is fantastic!  It's hard to pick a favorite, so it's going to make it into my Top 2 (though it could be in my top 10).  Ever Skincare is botanically based and free from harmful ingredients.  It never contains:  chemical sunscreens, parabens, mineral oil, phthlates, synthetic fragrance, and a whole host of other harmful ingredients.  See Ever's "Never Ever" list here.  It is also a highly active skincare line and the products are seriously awesome.  My skin has never looked better since I started using the Ever Pure Results Regimen!

1.  Ever Skincare's Reveal Biomimetic Peel Pads - These amazing little pads simply swipe on after washing your face and they provide gentle, but effective exfoliation.  They help with brown spots, hyperpigmentation and blemishes all without hydroquinone which is in most "lightening" products, even though it's banned in Canada and Europe.  They leave your skin feeling incredibly soft.  It's like an overnight chemical peel without the downtime!

2.  Ever Skincare's Daylight Tinted Moisturizer - This is the perfect day time moisturizer.  It's anti-aging, provides you with chemical free SPF 32 and literally makes your skin glow!  This is my go-to daily product and has completely replaced my foundation.  Available in 3 shades, or untinted (SPF 20).  It minimizes fine lines and wrinkles,while it hydrates and protects...seriously!  It's a MUST HAVE!

3.  Schmidt's Natural Deodorant - Did you know that deodorants are linked to breast cancer and other issues?  Read more here.  I have really stopped using traditional deodorant.  I searched for awhile to find one I liked and this one wins!  I personally love the Bergamont & Lime scent.  It does have a more grainy texture than normal deodorant, but it smells good and really seems to actually work!  

4.  Shea Moisture Soap - I have bought several different bars, but always come back to Olive & Green Tea Shea Butter Soap with Avocado.  I know a lot of people don't use bar soap anymore, but call me old fashioned!  I LOVE this soap!  Hydrate, protect the skin from free radicals and anti-aging...yes please!  Oh and it smells great too.

5.  Kiss My Face Olive Oil and Aloe Body Lotion - I have super sensitive skin and can use so few body lotions.  This one is great, and is fragrance free.  I actually had the opportunity to interview the two guys who founded this company during my MBA program.  That was pretty cool.  I've been a fan of their products ever since.

So what about you think about what you put on your skin as much as what you put in your body?  What are your favorite good for you skin and body products?  

July 08, 2016

Hello Blog World!

It's me again.  I have really not been able to keep this blog together for the last year or probably more. I had stopped blogging frequently when my parents passed, but that has been nearly two years now.  But once you get out of a habit, I guess sometimes it's hard to pick it up again.
21 Day Fix Extreme Cardio

I last blogged in January I think.  So what have I been up to - let's see.  I guess I have finished at least 5 races since then - 4 half marathons and a 5K.  There may have been something else in there that I don't remember.
4th of July 5K

I don't really have any races planned for right now, which is really odd for me.  But I am actually enjoying the non-pressure of not having a race coming up.  I signed up for a sprint triathlon last summer that is coming up in August...I have no idea if I'm going to do it or not.  I need to decide soon because I haven't swam or been on my bike since last summer - probably at that race.  Yes, that was likely the last time I was on my bike or swam.  I don't know why, again, again, you get out of a habit and it just happens.

I am still working out and running.  I am really enjoying more structured programs like 21 Day Fix. I love that they are 30 minutes and I'm done.  I struggle all the time with eating.  Man I love to eat.  I don't know why stuff like chocolate and pizza just can't be really good for you...the struggle is so real. It's a constant battle even though I know what I should eat and what fuels my body and mind and what actually makes me feel better versus what tastes good for 5 minutes.  Why is that?  Why does the stomach win over the mind?

What's new out there in blog world?  What races does everyone else have planned? What do you struggle with?

January 21, 2016

Still Going......

It's off season.  It's winter.  But I'm still killing it.  Every, single, day.

The dreaded split squat

I have really enjoyed this whole weight training thing. I have to admit it's something I've been lacking for a long time.  I love to run, swim and bike, but that's mostly all cardio.  I would normally throw in some weight training from time to time - you know pick up a couple of 5 pound dumbells and do some bicep curls and call it a day, but I've never really done consistent weight training (well there was a short stint in like but that was a really long time ago).  I have to say I LOVE it.  I don't know why I didn't do it before. No that's not true, I do know why, because I just didn't know what to do. That is one thing I so love about in home workouts. Pop in a DVD or stream to my TV and I'm ready in minutes.  No drive to the gym, no fighting other people, and my workout is ready for me.  I just follow along.  Love it.

Coach Jack checking my form on these weighted Russian Twists

I've seen so much growth these last few months. I'm currently in week 7 of the 8 week Masters Hammer and Chisel workout and it's awesome.  So challenging, but so much fun.  I am gaining muscle, which is still just so cool for me.  Unfortunately I chose to start this program right before Christmas, so I don't think I'll end up with the results I could have because I simply was not watching what I ate for the first 5 weeks of the program.  So the weight loss won't really be there, but the muscle gain definitely is. As they say, abs are made in the kitchen and that's so true.  I have abs, I do, I can feel them.  I just can't see them just yet.

I'm starting to bump my running mileage up again, and I'm also doing my annual indoor cycling class, so I won't be able to keep up the weight training as intensely as I have, but it will definitely become a new norm for me.  I just love it too much!

Do you weight train?  Why or why not?

November 17, 2015

Off-Season Training

I don't know if I can really call it off season for triathlon since I only did two sprint tris in 2015...but we'll say it's off season and I am making the most of it.  Really it's kind of been off season for me since about June.  I haven't done nearly as many triathlons or road races this year, tho I did do a couple of half marathons in the fall.  I've done several races this year that I haven't even blogged about....I can blame it on the craziness of life, but mostly I just haven't been as motivated to write my blog.  I admit it.  I post on Instagram daily and I find that really enjoyable and motivating.  There really is a great fitness community on IG.  If you are on IG please look me up @slowtrigirl.

So, in June I really started focusing on my health and fitness again and not focusing on just racing all the time.  After gaining 20 pounds after my parents passed I was really in a slump and just uncomfortable in my skin.  I was at my heaviest weight in 7 years.  I wanted to do something different.  I started doing 21 Day Fix and focusing on my nutrition.  That went so well I did another round of 21 Day Fix and then I invested in 21 Day Fix Extreme and just kept going.  The workouts are only 30 minutes, but the differences in my body were awesome.  I have lifted some weights before, but I've never been truly consistent with it.  I ended up losing almost 18 pounds right before our trip to Hawaii.  It was so nice to feel confident and not shy away from the camera every time it was pulled out.

After we got home, I kind of got out of my routine a bit.  I ended up having to make two business trips really close together and of course eating right is always difficult.  But I didn't let it control me this time.  Yes, I gained a couple of pounds, but about 3 weeks ago I decided it was time to refocus again!  I started doing another round of  21 Day Fix(which I just finished on Sunday) and just started doing 21 Day Fix Extreme again this week.

I also signed up to be a Beachbody Coach.  This was a huge decision for me.  I wasn't sure if I "fit the profile".  I mean, I'm certainly not the fittest or thinnest person and I still struggle with sugar and eating healthy.  But then my coach reminded me that a BB Coach is not perfect....they are just someone who is on a health and fitness journey just like everyone else, but who wants to help others because they've seen how successful they can be.

I started a challenge group in November and it's been alot of fun.  I love being able to motivate others to make lifestyle changes, even if they are small ones.  It has also gone a long way to keep me motivated as well.  How can I tell people to get up and get their workout done, eat healthy, drink water, etc if I'm not doing it?

So anyway, back to my off season  training.  So that's what I'm doing.  I'm doing these short 30 minute workouts that are working my entire body.  Each workout is different.  Some are weighted workouts and some are cardio.  There is also yoga and Pilates.  I'm pushing myself so far outside my comfort zone, but the results are coming.  I've seriously never really had muscle before.  I am not talking body builder muscle, I'm talking lean muscle.  I see woman who have this beautiful lean muscular physique and I am so jealous.  I have always wanted that.  Now, I will tell you that I'm still a long ways away...but I'm getting there.  I can feel muscles in my arms, legs and abs developing that have never been there as long as I can remember.  It's really exciting.  I'm also excited to see how that will translate into racing next year.  I feel like it could yield some major changes.

Beachbody has a new program coming out in December called Hammer and Chisel which I am super excited about.  It will be a great way for me to take what I'm doing to the next level.  The workouts are a little longer and the program is 60 days instead of 21.  But it should put me in great shape right before triathlon season really starts.  I'm so excited to see the changes that are coming.  I haven't been this committed to nutrition and training in a long time.  I'm taking it one step at a time though.  I know the holidays are coming and things will get harder.  But I will not make another "New Years Resolution" to get fit....I'm focusing on my Year-End Resolution to keep getting stronger!

If you'd like to make a Year-End Resolution there will be new challenge groups starting in December. Leave me your email and I can contact you with more details.
My personal results - same outfit different lighting

October 29, 2015

Misfit Speedo Shine Review

Recently I had the opportunity to review one of the newest activity trackers and sleep monitors on the market - the Misfit Speedo Shine.  I am a big fan of wearable activity trackers so I was excited to give this one a try since it also recorded swimming and cycling.  As a triathlete I was excited about this.  While I do have a Garmin 910 that also tracks these activities it's definitely not something I wear around everyday and I often forget it when I go to he a lot.  So the ability to track all of my activities in single wearable device was pretty exciting!
Super cool and Sleek

Let's start with the basics.  What does it come with?
  • Black band
  • White band
  • Action Clasp
  • The Shine unit and battery 

  • Battery life - The Speedo Shine comes with a watch type battery that does not have to be charged!  Love this!  The battery should last approximately 6 months.  I hate recharging activity trackers so this is one of my favorite features!
  • Style - It is simply stylish.  I got so many compliments when I wore it.  It is sleek and small and really looks cool.
  • Price - Retail cost is $79.99 so it's very affordable.
  • Tracks multiple activities (running, cycling, swimming, tennis, soccer, etc)
  • Swim lap tracking
  • Versatile - Can be worn on the wrist, foot, chest, etc.
  • Easy to use Android or iPhone App
  • Somewhat difficult to switch between activities
  • Ability to tell time easily
Black & White Bands & Activity Clasp

The Details:

When you first get the Speedo Shine you have to assemble it.  You get the Shine itself and have to install the battery and then affix it to the wrist band or the action clasp.  It's really very simple and there is a quick start guide to help you through the process.  Then you can download the app to sync the device and you are up and running.  You can be tracking in 5-10 minutes.

I received the device shortly before heading to Hawaii for a few days so I decided that would be a great place to try it out.  I was a little worried by how light the Shine was and the way it attached to the band that I would lose it, especially in the ocean.  But I never had any issues with it moving around or feeling loose the entire time and I swam with it in the ocean nearly every day.  It did mention that salt water could shorten the life of the battery, but it can be worn which was great! I even did some snorkeling with no issues.  It's water resistant to 50 Meters so you should be good for the majority of water related exercises.

As I already mentioned one of my favorite features was that the tracker does not have to be charged. I was already taking my cell phone charger, Kindle charger, Garmin charger, etc with me, so it was nice to not to have to pack yet another charger.  All I needed was the Shine and my phone to track my activities.

I love that it can be worn on  your wrist, but also pretty much anywhere on your body.  You can attach it to your shoe, your chest, could even hide it in your bra etc if you want to wear it all the time, but don't want it to be a focal point or don't want to be seen wearing your fitness tracker in your little black dress or suit.

So many people asked me what it was or said I had a "cool watch".  It really is a sleek design that stands out and doesn't immediately scream activity tracker.  I've said it several times already, but I really love the "coolness" of this device.

I ran a half marathon while I was in Hawaii so I wore my Garmin 910, my Garmin Vivofit and the Speedo Shine all for the race....yes I was definitely on tracking overkill.  But I wanted to compare them and see how close they all tracked mileage. They all ended up tracking pretty close to the same distance, so I can say that the accuracy seems to be pretty good.  The Shine tracked ever so slightly less miles and steps than the Garmin products, but nothing noticeable enough to be concerned with overall accuracy.
Loaded with activity trackers

I really only had two items I would consider "cons" and both are pretty minor.

If you want to switch activities  you have to go through a couple of steps.  You have to open the app, change the activity to "swim" or whatever activity you are doing, sync the unit with the app and then tap the Shine three times to start and stop the new activity.  This isn't a lot of steps, but it does take some time.  I would like it if I could just tap a button or something on the device itself to change the activity, but you would probably lose the overall sleek design.

My biggest issue with it was the ability to tell time.   You are supposed to be able to tap it twice and lights will flash at the corresponding points on a clock.  I could not seem to get this feature to work all the time for some reason (probably user error).  And even when I did you have to make sure the device is lined up correctly within the band or it could be upside down or sideways and the lights blink very quickly and you can sometimes miss them.  Overall, I don't use activity trackers for the watch feature so it's not a huge con for me, but if you like to use it in place of your watch it could be an issue.  But again, it was probably just user error on my part.

Overall I was very happy with the Misfit Speedo Shine. I thought it was easy to use, sleek, stylish, affordable and effective!  It is a great activity tracker and has many of the same features as other trackers like steps, miles, sleep, and goals, but with the added bonus of being able to track other activities like swimming and cycling.  This is pretty unique to a small wearable device at this price point.  I think it is extremely versatile and if you are a swimmer and want a wearable activity tracker than I think it's the only one for you.

Disclaimer:  I was not paid for this review.  I was given the Misfit Speedo Shine for this review; however all opinions are my own.

September 30, 2015

JTB Maui Half Marathon Review

This must be just like running in paradise.....oh yes, it,hot paradise!
Pre-race fuel?  Ha, no, fuel for the road to Hana

I would just like to start with - I love Maui!!  This was my second trip to this beautiful island and I am truly in love with this place.  It is beyond magical and Jim and I had the trip of a lifetime.  It's hard to do a race recap without also sharing some of our wonderful experiences...but let's talk about the race first.

We headed out of Kansas City on Thursday and spent the night in LA.  The next morning we boarded a plane for Maui.  We left early, and with the time difference we were actually in Maui by mid morning on Friday.  We got off the plane and I was immediately HOT.  Like so hot.  We had heard they were having record high temps and it was definitely hot and humid. We picked up the rental car and drove the 45 mins to the hotel and checked in to the Sheraton right on the gorgeous Ka'anapali Beach. We headed almost immediately to the race expo after checking in.  
Sea Turtles sunning on Ho'okipa Beach

The expo was small, but they had lots of race specific merchandise for sale, which was good, because I have to say I hated the race shirt.  First, it was not gender specific, which is always a bummer for most women I think.  The shirts are boxy and just do not fit well.  The sleeves literally go down past my I'll never wear the race shirt, but I did pick up a tank and visor that I love!  Jim also got a t-shirt, but we were still in and out of the expo in 15-20 minutes.  

It was difficult to be in Maui and on vacation, but not be able to do or eat much.  We wanted to be very careful not to be sunburned or just too tired, and we really had to watch what we ate through Sat. So that first day and a half we really didn't do much.  My sister and her husband were actually coming to Maui as well because it was her husband's 50th Birthday.  So they arrived Sat night and were there to watch us at the finish line on Sun which was awesome.

We went to be early Sat, which was pretty easy to do since by 8pm in Maui it was like 1 am at home.  It was good we weren't too used to the time change yet because it was an early wake up call for both of us, but Jim even more than me.  The race started at 5 am, but my start was just .4 miles from the hotel. Jim had to be at the shuttle by 3:15-3;45 since he started in a totally different location.
The Black Sand Beach

I left the hotel about 4:15 and headed to the race start.  I expected to see lots of people walking around and was really surprised when I saw no one.  It was a little surreal and even creepy to be walking along an unlit beach board walk at that time of the morning with no one around.  Once I finally reached Whalers Village where the race start was there were plenty of people...tho not as many as I expected.  I hadn't realized how small the race was until just that moment.

I headed straight to the porta potty line, and by the time I got through it, it was time to start.  Let me just say that at 5 am it is dark!  Once we left the dim lights of the hotel area and headed for the highway it was pitch black.  There were no street lights.  You could barely see your hand in front of your face.  This is not a closed course either.  There are 3 lanes of traffic and only one lane was coned off.  So the only occasional light you got was from a car coming up from up on you from behind.  It was actually kind of scary.  I stayed as far to the right as I could, so I wasn't close to the cars, but I was always worried I was going to go off the side of the road and not realize it.  I was worried about potholes or running into the person in front of me.  Yes, it was that dark.  Lots of people were tripping over the cones and the reflectors in the street which you couldn't see at all.  It was also very crowded.  With just one narrow lane to run, you really didn't have room to move around much, so you just ended up going the pace of the other runners for the first mile or 2.
Swimming in a waterfall
Even at 5 am and in the dark it was hot.  I checked the weather at 4 am and it was already 80 degrees with 88% humidity.  It was tough race conditions, and I knew it would only get hotter once that intense morning sun came up.  We had a hot and humid summer in KC, so I think I felt "prepared" to race in hot and humid conditions.  I don't know if it was the cooler weather a few weeks prior to the race, or just simply the intense sun, but the conditions ended up being even more difficult than I thought.
Running along the ocean

It wasn't terrible before the sun came up, but once it was up even a little it seemed like the temps began to climb quickly.  I was completely drenched within just a few miles.  By 6 am the sun was coming up and you could at least see.  By 6:30 it was pretty much daylight.  The course was an out and back so there were a ton of water stops.  There was a water stop about every mile, so over the course of the half I think there were 13 or 14....which was needed.  I never passed up a water stop! The volunteers were great!  They were very enthusiastic and cheered everyone on.

By the time you made it to the turn around it was daylight and you could finally see the gorgeous ocean that you had been running alongside for the first half.  It was really beautiful!!  There is something magical about being able to run and see the ocean.  I was having a great time, but I was really starting to feel the conditions.  I know myself and I do not do well with heat.  I had made my decision before I even started training for this race that it would be a run/walk race for me.  I knew that would be the only way I would get through it.  I had trained all summer with a 2 min run/30 sec walk recovery.  I was keeping this ratio with no problem, but by mile 7 I could feel myself starting to slow down some.  For the first 6 miles I averaged about an 11;45 pace.  At mile 7, I had my first 12 min mil (12:10) and I could feel the heat was starting to get to me.  It was about this time that  lady ran beside me and said "have you ever heard of the Jeff Galloway method?".  I said, yes that's basically what I'm doing.  She asked me my pace, and said oh ok, you are going faster than me.  But for the next mile I found that we would just pass each other back and forth.  During one of these passes, I said what are you doing and she said 1:15/30.  So I was like do you want company?  She said sure.  So we walked/ran together for the rest of the race.  It was great to have someone to chat with.
Pre-race cool and comfortable lol

She was awesome!  She was in her early 60s and this was only her 2nd half marathon ever!!  She was definitely helping me stick with my plan.  She had been in Maui for about 10 days or so prior to the maybe that helped her acclimate a little better because she was from CA and she sure couldn't have been used to that heat and humidity.  We chatted and took a few pics along the way. There was a small rainbow out over the ocean at one point.  She kept saying how much I was helping her..and I was like you are totally helping I guess we were helping each other.  It made the 2nd half of the race go by in a flash.  Before I knew it we were making the last turn and my pace was back down in the 11s.  We were on pace to finish around 2:30ish.  Cheri's first half marathon had been 2;44 - she was going to have  PR in Maui!  We had about half a mile to go and Cheri, said "I'm going to try to run the rest of it out".  Not long after that I had to stop to walk and told her to go on, but she said "no we are in this together" and she stopped and walked with me for a few seconds.  We could finally see the finish line, and then she saw her husband who was cheering her on - and he was so happy for her.  I yelled "she's killing it----she's going to PR".  As we got close to the finish, Cheri still had a lot and took off ahead of me and finished.  She did awesome!

As I crossed the finish line I heard my sister and brother in law yelling for me!  That was really cool!! It was nice to have someone there at the end....especially when you are so far away from home.  The announcer said my name as I crossed the finish line and said I was from  Apparently he didn't know that MO does not mean Montana, but Missouri!

Mile 13 ended up being my fastest of the race at a 10:59 pace...pretty impressive.  Maui also ended up being my fastest half of 2015 with a 2:32 finish.  It was my 6th half this year.  Considering the heat I was shocked.  I figured I would finish around 2:45.  I had been working really, really hard since June to lose weight and get  in better shape and it definitely paid off!!

I found Cheri at the end and we even had pics taken together with our medals.  We exchanged numbers and said our goodbyes.  I then found my sister and waited for Jim to finish the full marathon.  Within 30 minutes of finishing, the heat got even more intense as the sun really came out. I was feeling for everyone still on the course, and was thanking my lucky stars I hadn't been doing the full.  I knew it was going to be difficult for everyone, including Jim.

He ended up finishing slower than his normal time, but that wasn't surprising at all!  He was still 40th overall!  I thought he did amazing!!

After the race we spent 6 more magical days in Maui.  We swam, we sunned, we did the road to Hana, we went to a luau.  We saw the black sand beach, I snorkeled with sea turtles, I swam in a was just the best, most amazing trip ever!  If you ever get the chance and you want a fabulous racecation  - I would highly recommend it!

August 18, 2015

Matt Mason Sprint Triathlon Review

Matt Mason Triathlon
Smithville Lake, Mo
August  2, 2015
Swim:  500 Meter;  Bike:  11 miles; Run 5K

Better late than never.  I did a triathlon 2 ½ week ago.  I’ve struggled lately to find the time to keep my blog updated.  Work has been busy.  Life has been busy.  You know how it goes. I’m pretty active on Instagram though if you ever want to find out what’s up with me you can find me on there. My user name is @slowtrigirl or there is a link on my blog as well.

Anyway, back to my triathlon.  It was the Matt Mason Memorial Sprint Triathlon.  It was my first tri of the year, and also my first tri in almost a year.  I was really excited to be doing a tri again.  It had just been too long.  Unfortunately none of my friends were racing this one, so it was literally just me all by my lonesome.  That part kind of sucked.  I was hoping to be surprised and run into someone I knew, but nope….just me.

The race is held at Smithville Lake which is about an hour from where I live.   It’s a pretty remote lake and the race actually takes place in one of the camping areas.  There is nothing like driving dark, winding, curvy back country roads at 4am in the morning to get the heart pumping.  I had a death grip on the steering wheel waiting for that deer, fox, etc  to come darting across the street in front of me and have me land in a ditch somewhere.  Luckily, none of that happened.
I finally made it to the race and parked.  I was there very early.  Pretty much when transition opened at 5am so I got a nice close parking spot which was great.  They provided tri tats, so no need for body marking. I got into transition and you were assigned a rack, but not a spot so since I was there early I was able to get the 2nd spot on  the rack, which is awesome! I was also the 2nd rack after the swim exit, so I knew finding my bike would not be an issue. If you've done a triathlon before you know how import your transition spot can be.  I've seen lots of people searching for their bikes before.

I set up my transition area and chatted with a few other people around me.  A few were doing their first tri, some were veterans; it was a good mix of athletes.
Before I knew it they were telling us to exit transition and head for the swim start, but before the start there was a “surprise”.  There were two parachuters from one of the local military branches (I don’t know which one).  It was pretty awesome to watch them jump and land right in front of us. I was bummed I didn’t have my phone so I could take some pictures, but we had already exited transition and I thought it was best not to drown my phone.

Before the race started there was a prayer and a moment of silence for Matt Mason.  It was really very moving.  Matt Mason was a local triathlete who was also a Navy Seal.  He and his entire Seal Team were killed in action in Afghanistan. While the race is named after Matt, all along the run course are photos of every lost team member including their K-9.  It’s really very, very moving. They do a fantastic job of honoring his memory.  Plus all the proceeds from the race go to great charities like Wounded Warrior.  
Now, it was time to start the race.  I lined up in the swim line.  It was a time trial swim start, so one person started every 3 seconds based on your estimated swim time.  I got in line with the 11 minute swimmers.  I knew this might be a bit fast, but I just wanted to get going. All of a sudden I found myself incredibly nervous.  It had been awhile, and there’s always something about an open water swim that makes you a little uneasy.  What seemed like a very long line to start went very quickly and before I could calm my nerves it was time to swim.

The water was warm.  So warm. This time of year the water is not refreshing at all. It’s like bath water.  But other than the swimmers churning the water it was pretty calm.  It took me a bit to find a rhythm, but I finally did.  I had a guy working so hard to pass me.  He finally did, then just a few strokes later I saw him turned over floating on his back to catch his breath.  Ha, I had to laugh at this a little.  The swim seemed like it went on forever, but I finally rounded the final buoy and headed in.  Once I saw land I gave it that final push and headed into transition.  My swim time was 12:38…not too bad for me. Transition time was 1:38 which included a nice up hill run from the swim.
I quickly put on my helmet, etc and jumped on my bike.  They had told us to make sure we were in an easy gear because we would be starting uphill.  I had already made sure to make this adjustment at home so I was ready.  Some people did not listen or did not hear because several people were struggling to get out of transition and get started. Once you go up the incline you start heading out of the park and almost immediately start heading downhill.  I remember when I drove in that morning thinking, man that’s going to be tough at the end.  You aren’t 5 minutes into the the bike and it is a huge downhill.  I was going 35 mph and that is fast for me, but all I could think about was man that’s going to hurt on the way back in.

The bike course was a double loop with lots of turns.  The course was very well manned however.  At every single turn there were one or two volunteers pointing to the turn, reminding you to slow down, etc.  At the first sharp turn however, the guy in front of me took it too fast and down he went.  The volunteer immediately went over to him.  It was a good reminder to me to slow down on these curves, it wasn’t worth a wreck.  A few miles later that guy passed me again. He was ok, but had a lot of road rash on his shoulder.  The course ended up being much hillier than I expected. These weren’t huge hills, but constant rollers.  It just felt like you never really got a break.  The total elevation gain for 11 miles was 600 ft, so not the worst ever, but definitely hilly.  I ended up finishing the bike in 42:38 a 15.5 mph pace.  I was a little bit disappointed with my time as I felt like my “effort” was faster, but I guess slowing down for all the turns and the hills kept my pace down a bit.  My transition from bike to run was 1:10.  I was happy with my transition times.
I was finally on the last leg! The run!  My legs felt awful!  I had done a few brick workouts, but I still didn’t feel ready for this.  It was like I was carrying around 2 lead pipes for legs.  Anyway, I attempted to run.  It was hard. I was tired.  It was hot. Very, very hot and humid.   Luckily the run was on a mostly shaded trail and was fairly flat.  That helped.  Still I did what I almost always do in a tri.  I started the run, feeling awful , but realizing I’m doing a pace that’s not at all maintainable for me and then within the first 5 mins I stop and walk to catch my breath and figure out what “pace” I need to be running.  It’s an out and back, so I saw the leaders coming past me as I was just heading out.  I cheered for them and kept going.  I had passed several people on the bike, but I was getting passed by lots of people on the run.  I’m not a strong swimmer, biker or runner, but the running leg is definitely my weakest area.  I was just about done with the run portion and grabbed some water from the last water stop about half a mile from the finish.  I was already breathing really hard and somehow I sucked it in through the wrong pipe or something, but suddenly found myself choking on it.  I panicked for a minute. I had never done this in a race before and when you are already out of breath and then coughing it's not a good combination.  I imagined myself suddenly passing out because I couldn’t breathe.  I had to mentally tell myself I was going to be fine.  I was seriously panicked.  I knew it wouldn't result in anything major, but I just didn't want to pass out on the course and embarrass myself.  I stopped running and walked trying to clear my chest and catch my breath.  It wasn’t working.  I would cough and then take in a huge breath of air and then cough more.  A lady behind me clearly concerned stopped her run and asked me if I was ok.  I told I thought I would be in just a sec.  I continued to walk and cough and breath.  Finally with the last quarter mile or so I felt like I could run again.  I wasn’t running a great pace, but this certainly didn’t help my run time any.  I see the final turn and the uphill grassy finish.  I grabbed a flag from one of the volunteers and ran through the finish!  My official run time was 35:57 an 11:36 pace. 

My overall finish time was 1 hour and 33 minutes.  It wasn’t a great race for me, but it wasn’t bad either.  It had been challenging and hot and I hadn’t trained specifically for the race.  I had literally been doing just barely enough biking and swimming to be able to do the distances. But it was a fantastic race!  It was great to be racing again and I had forgotten just how much fun triathlon could be.  The race volunteers were outstanding.  By far the best in any triathlon I have ever done. This race was just so well organized and put together.  I can't say enough about it.  Matt would be proud.
I walked to transition to grab my bike and leave and found out we couldn’t go in until the last biker had come in off the course.  I thought this was awesome! I don’t think I’ve ever been to another race where they did this (or maybe I just wasn't done in time).  I don’t know how many times I’ve had races where I’ve had to fight the people leaving to just get into transition and start the run.  It can be a very disheartening feeling.  They are finished and you are just starting your last leg.  I thought that was really awesome. 

I have one more sprint tri in a few weeks and then hopefully next year I’ll get back to doing some more races and longer distances.  This year was just about having fun and doing a couple of tris.  I had hoped to do 3, but timing for a couple just didn't work out.  
Dog Tag Medal