Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Dream Vehicle

Okay not really, but I had a lot of fun this week driving a white 1984 Ford pickup this week that a friend left at our house. It was standard with the old roll down windows and made this charmingly annoying buzzing sound anytime the driver door was open. The steering wheel was up high -- at least for me -- and made it feel like I was driving a farm truck. I made a couple of dump runs with the whole bed loaded up, so convenient and a wonderful escape all the SUVs, volvos and saabs I see tooling around here. All I need now is a halter top and some fuzzy dice and life would be great. And there's that word again -- ESCAPE.

Great swim on Tuesday morning with Kathy at Crescent Beach bright and early at 6am. Thanks to her motivation we swam at least 2 miles I estimate -- back and forth from the cove twice to the second LG chair. Flat, warm and wonderfully empty of people.

Today I got in a 1.3 mile swim at OOB. The first time all summer I have felt excited to dive into the ocean. The air was hot and the water a perfect refreshing but not freezing temperature. It took a good 3 minutes longer on the way back due to the current. I did notice how it is I don't swallow any salty water when I swim in the ocean -- something a few people have asked me about lately. I have never paid much attention to it until now. I'll save that for my next post as duty calls -- dinner!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Team Triple Threat, the Zone Urban Epic 2008 Race Report

Wow, what a fun race the Urban/EPIC was!

I wasn't feeling that nervous for the race and slept very soundly. I got up at 5am ate breakfast... this time cereal, banana with peanut butter, toast with homemade strawberry jam and earl grey tea. No orange juice on the advice of Ange who thinks the acid may have caused my leg cramps in the Peaks to Portland swim. My brother picked me up and we arrived at transition at about 5:50. I had dropped his chain the night before when I racked his bike so he had fixed that and went out for a warm up. There isn't much for a swimmer to do pre-race so I just chatted with people I knew and started sipping my HEED, which I did mix properly this time. By 6:15 Mary and Andy (my runner) showed up and the transition area was hopping. Interesting to see some of the elite female athletes -- they were svelte, muscular and tall. I was deinfately releived that I was not swimming in the same wave as them, although it would have been fun to get so utterly crushed.

It was clear. Then the fog rolled in. We couldn't see the ocean! I stashed some extra fuel just in case the start was delayed.

I caught the second to last shuttle to Mackworth with Mary and Claire. Ange was already there. Mucho fog as we crossed the bridge with very little water visible. Yikes! What would they do?

We arrived, unloaded and waited in line for the potty. The race staff said they were going ahead as if there was no fog and would delay the race only if it remained at the race start. Now I was getting nervous. I had been mostly caught up in being a Tri groupie and listening to all my Tri friends talk about the course challenges etc. Now the reality that I was swimming too set in. Saw John, my friendly competition from P2P. We all headed down to the beach and over to the left side for the pre-race talk by the director. They had set out many more buoys than last year -- thankfully! 2 orange, 2 yellow, 2 orange and then 2 orange on the beach. He said to head for the first set of orange and go through them. Ange had warmed up and said the current was very strong. Hmmm... As I watched the elite wave line up in the chute I was nervous and excited for Ange. What a group this was. A female pro headed to Beijing, 2 very fast amateurs and 3 very speedy Maine women. As they took off it was quickly aparent that something was very wrong. They were headed on a sharp left tangent AWAY from the orange buoys. The current was that strong. It seemed that the group only realized this about a minute into the race, seemingly not that long, but way off course. They now struggled to swim back to the orange buoys against the current. This surely delayed them easily by 4-5 minutes. It was awful to imagine how hard they were working to correct the initial misjudgement. Instead of swimming south towards Portland and the beach, they were all swimming north to get through the orange buoys.

The race director announced that the course was changing. All subsequent waves no longer had to swim through the first set of orange buoys. John and I watched the next three waves struggle similarily to head towards the orange buoys, let alone swim through them. He said he thought we should swim to the right and keep correcting ourselves that way as this may be the only way to get close to the orange buoys and "ride" the current to the beach, instead of swimming against it.

Well others strategies did not seem to be working, so I followed John's suggestion. As our wave of Relays, Athenas, Clydesdales and 45-49 year old men took off, I headed west and to the right. Everytime I sighted I saw that the current had pushed me south. I kept recorrectly to the northwest. This worked! I ended up very close to the orange buoys and decided this was good enough and let the current "push" me towards the yellow buoys, however I still had to keep over-correcting towards the north and Tukey's Bridge. This also seemed to work and I easily passed throught the yellow buoys. As I did I saw a steady line of light blue and red caps swimming north and just around the left yellow buoy. I felt for them!

From here it was a steady strong swim to the beach. My arms felt heavy, not from swimming so hard. I think it was mostly residual muscle fatigue from Peaks. I didn't push too hard. I thought about how fresh the water smelled. How warm the sun was. How the top 4 inches of water was actually somewhat warm and below that refreshingly cold. This IS SUMMER and I am doing something I LOVE. How cool is that?

I guess John was on my left at this point but I didn't see him since I was breathing mostly to my right. I started passing lots of people now. Kind of the opposite of most races where I pass lots of people at the start and then it thins out. Red caps, blue caps, green caps, even one white cap! People looked tired.

The last set of orange buoys were not in sight but I knew from last year and from a practice swim 2 weeks ago that the stone pier was what I should aim for. The finish line would be right around the corner. However I was still nervous that maybe I was wrong. I could see tons of people on the beach. Head for the people! About half way through the boat moorings I started to pick up speed. Not a full sprint like usual since I felt a bit lethargic, but I reminded myself that every relay swimmer I passed now was one less my team had to pass on the bike or run. I pushed hard. I rounded the pier and saw people cheering. I saw the beach and let go. This was it!! I swam as far as possible til I could almost touch the bottom, stood up and slogged through the water. Running was soooo much harder! I heard my name yelled once and again and again! That was nice.

I hustled up to the mini-transition area and Andy was waiting. He calmed took the chip off my leg as I panted and heaved and woobled. Off he went!

Most of the swimmers I knew had already passed through.... Ange, Katie, Mary, Claire.. I waited a bit and saw a few more ... Stacy, Carrie, Eric, Brent. Great job!

I showered, changed and headed to transition to find Andy as he waited for Lorenzo to come back from the bike. We were rocking! Lorenzo came in and it seemed we might be in 2nd place overall. Andy is fast so I knew we had a good chance. I went to the finish line with Lorenzo and we watched as the elites came in.

Lorenzo (bike, 1:14.56), Andy (run, 33:51), Me (swim 32:30)

Ange was 5th woman (among them 3 pros!) and she looked great coming acorss the line -- how impressive! (for more go to Ange's Drive to Tri). Andy crossed soon after. By his estimation we might be 1st! We saw Mary cross and she looked really good too, right on the heels of some of her top age group competitors (for more see IronMatron).

As they posted the results we saw he was right. We even beat all of the all male teams. Go Team Triple Threat!

Final Stats
First relay overall (2:26.28)
First XTeam overall

My Swim--
2nd overall in the Relay wave (32:20)
2nd fastest swim among all female age groupers
(one female much faster at 29:35, something to shoot for next year!)
10th fastest swim among all age groupers

(Elites not counted here because they had a longer swim due to the current and course change)

See all results at:

This will be a must do race for 2009!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Be present

Okay so I admit I like to watch TV sometimes... yes even cheesy TV. We don't have cable at our house so we are living in the dark ages. We just got wireless internet about 2 months ago and before that were using a free dial-up service from New Hampshire -- Live Free or Die, or like my husband likes to say, Live, Freeze and Die. He doesn't like NH, but that is another story. Anyways seeing how I am cable deprived I am a bit like a kid faced with the 10 2-liter bottles of soda at a party when the parents aren't paying attention. I gorge myself. Granted pretty much everything on cable sucks. I stayed with a friend earlier this week who had cable. I watched a lot of trashy cable. For example, inexplicably I watched Cindy Crawfords "Meaningful Beauty" infomercial much longer than the obligatory 2 minutes and then as I heard my brains slowly seeping from my skull and came out of the "zone" and saved myself by changing the channel. I almost bought the "amazing" line of products until they dropped the price to 29.95 for about 10 bottles of potion... there couldn't be anything more in there other than Pond's cold creme for that price. MeaningLESS Beauty!

Anyways proceding onward throught the channels I got to a mucho cheesy made for TV movie on the Oxygen Network staring Jennifer Anniston and Kevin Costner. The plot: Jen has a seemingly perfect life but isn't sure her fiance is THE one. She finds out her mom had a fling the week before she got married and Jen becomes obsessed with the idea that this fling guy might be her dad, who is of course Kevin Costner (who in the movie is supposedly the inspiration for Benjamin Braddock in the Graduate, plaheese!). When she confronts him he tells her he can't be her dad because he is infertile due to a "testicular trauma" in high school and yes, you guessed it, they sleep together. Now poor Jen is fraught with guilt for her cheating on her fiance, but opened to the possibility of being FREE. Kevin is so rich he takes her to a ball and flies there on his jet (again, can this be more stereotyped). His deep insight into life, which he tells Jen helped him be at peace with himself and be happy is to -- Be present. Okay, who the fuck actually watches these movies?

Apparently I do.

So in the end Jen makes up with her fiance. Her relationship with her Dad and sister are magically better as she is able to be present and fret. She dumps Kevin even though he wants to be with her -- god only knows why. And so now she is an empowed feminist, now ready to sign off and be a good wifey. Ugghh! Oh yeah I forgot to mention, Kevin slept with Jen's mother and grandmother.

Thank god I don't have cable. I would turn into a brainless fembot.

But still the message.... be present.

I actually think this is what my swimming obsession is about. Well that and escapism. Escape from laundry, food on the floor, missing socks, weeping children, lawns that need mowing, and that seriousness of work.

When I swim I escape. When I escape I am present.

How's that for deep? Well I tried!

Next race: Urban Epic Tri Relay on Saturday. Swim is 1.5K from Mackworth to East End Beach. They had changed the course to go from the right side of Mackworth, which I tried out last week and it was great, just a bit longer than 1.K... more like 1.5 miles. So now unfortunately I think enough people complained that it is now like last years race. An odd S- shaped course with mussel flats lying in wait. I had to claw and then run my way through those last year because I cut into the beach too early. Hopefully they will have more buoys to mark the course this year.

I have lots of friends doing the WHOLE Triathlon: Mary, Ange, Claire, Katie, Carrie and many more people who I don't train with but will be very excited to see along the race course... Steve, Bernadette, Jeff, Stacy, and Abby. Good luck everyone!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Peaks to Portland: Before the race

The Master's gang shows they are ready for Peaks and look smokin' in their wetsuits!
Karen, Carrie, Me, Jim, Karen, Liza, Ellen and Gary (kneeling). (Picture from Jim).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Janice Reale Photography

check out some great close-ups of swimmers coming out at the finish line!
Thanks Janice!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pictures from P2P

Thanks to Claire I actually have some pictures to post.

Me, Ellen, Gary, Karen and Carrie waiting nervously for the race to get under way.

The beach.

The beach again.

The "chute" view from the kayak.

The finish!!!

Karen, Me, Jim and Claire after finishing. Phew!

A Shark Fest?

What do you think? Crazy or great idea?
Shark Fest at Alcatraz Island August 15, 2009.....

Would be nice to have a weekend away from the kids :) that's how desperate I am I guess!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Breakfast of Champions OR my Peaks to Portland race report

1 cup Autumn Wheat cereal
10 oz orange juice
1 banana with 2 T. peanut butter
1 cup blueberries

10oz orange juice

7:30 sipping HEED
8:15 Hammer gel

Okay so it's not the breakfast of champions... I got some MAJOR leg cramps after Fort Gorges. (If anyone has suggestions on improving my race nutrition I'll take them!). They alternated between both calf muscles and to cope I had to flex my foot and only kick with one foot. I think my problem wasn't my breakfast per say. I think I mixed too little HEED powder with my water, about 16 oz. Duh. The container does say 1-2 scoops of HEED per 16 oz and I only did 1/2 a scoop. Note to self: follow directions next time.

Luckily I did follow the directions of my talented, cheerful and knowledgeable kayaker Jo. THANK YOU JO! She was awesome and made me feel very confident, especially when she saw that something was up and I was slowing down... that's what kicking with one leg does. You see if I was in the pool I would have just sat out a set and nursed my leg, not being the martyr type to actually swim through any type of pain. Alas....

However I did have a very fun type swimming this race. It was at times unbearably LONG for a wimpy sprinter like me, but everyone was so hyped up and the very fact of swimming 2.4 miles in the ocean was so cool I think I will have to do it again.

The weather was ideal. Overcast, warm, low breeze. Only minimal waves on the water. Pre-race on the boat and the beach I had some good fun with my Masters teammates Jo, Jim, Ellen, Liza, Kathy, Karen, Gary, Karen, Jen, Liz, and Carrie (pictures to follow).

The start wasn't all that bad. The "sharp" rocks and mussels on the beach were noteably absent where I entered. I went right up to start with the blue wave (mostly all men which was a bit intimidating). The water did feel very cold before we got going, but not as bad as I feared. We were all close together at the start, but only once did someone brush me, I crossed next to someone and someone swam over my legs. No paddle butts to the head as I had heard from others. Phew! One annoying guy did keep crossing next to me and I couldn't shake him. Then shortly after when I finally located my kayak, he started swimming with us -- hey get your own kayak! After that the middle part of the race was LONG. I started daydreaming about what I would write on the blog, fantasizing what it would be like to win.... fantasizing how the harbor master would escort me in to the chute just like a police escort in a road race .... opps I am still swimming... still around the fort... ughh... back to reality!

I think my leg cramps came on about 1.9 miles. At the time this was actually the farthest I had swum in the ocean. First my right leg. Then my left leg. I tried to swim closer to the beach, just not the right beach. I was so longing to stop. My wonderful kayak god mother ushered me back to the boat with a smile and some encouragement. Then I was inside the boats and decided no more of this one leg kicking crap. I HAD to swim thorugh this and actually sprint to the finish like I had planned. After passing to the left of the big beautiful sailboat with the guy on it with the long beard ( I waved to him, see I was having fun), I started sprinting. It helped that there was some poor lad swimming exactly parallell to me on the right. I decided I had to beat him. About 200 yards from the beach I had him. Sorry Mike! It felt impossible to run out of the water and I was told later that I looked like I was about to collapse. I was just happy to be on dry land.

Final stats:
Time 52:27
6th woman
33rd OA
4th AG

Pretty good for my first P2P!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tomorrow is the the day

Okay one day to go to P2P. I had a great 1.5 mile bay swim on Tuesday from Mackworth to East End Beach. Good to visualize coming into the beach and I felt very strong in the water. It was warm all the way to the boat and then FREEZING all the way to the beach... head throbbing ear aching freezing that is. Note to self: definitely wear my hoodie for the race.

Then on Wednesday I pretended to be a fast Masters swimmer and joined the Portland Y group at the outdoor pool. Admittedly it was a blast but boy there was a lot of testosterone there compared to my regular Masters group. Really made me work much more than normal and it was just a gorgeous 80 degree day. They were tappering for Peaks so it was a fast 2000 meters and then we all called it quits. I was able to easily keep pace with the guys in my lane, but in the "fast" lane next to me they were hauling some major X%Q#$%. Reportedly there is a guy who swims 48 or faster in the 100 free (and he is my age). Yikes.

Now on to planning some strategy with my kayaker. She has swum Peaks before so has a pretty good grasp of the race and how to plot a fast course to the beach. When I picked up my race packet yesterday I was told I would be in the LAST wave since I was new to the race. Well luckily IRON MATRON was with me and she would have none of that. I am now in the FIRST wave!

Here I come Peaks! See you all at the race tomorrow. It should be beautiful.

Monday, July 14, 2008


What a fabulous race it was yesterday at the Scarborough Tri. The conditions were unbelieveably rough at the swim. Four foot swells, white caps, stiff wind and a hazy mist. As the first wave of men ran into the surf the sun cleared the haze and it was just gorgeous. It was all I could do to not grab one of the pink 35-39 caps and jump right in there myself. I cheered for my friends Ange and Mary and saw so many others I knew which was a blast. After the swim, my daughter and friends hopped the shuttle to T2 and watched our friends transition to the run from the bike. We then RAN to the finish line to see Ange win overall for women and Mary place second in her AG! Way to go!!
Saturday is P2P and I am hoping it will be good weather wise. I am psyched for the swim and challenge of the course. Long practice swim tomorrow and some shorter speed training wed and thursday.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Best of summer

Wow! Awesome 1.8 mile swim tonight. It was gorgeous.... a little choppy on the way out but so smooth on the way back. And it was surprisingly warm, especially compared to my Richmond Island swim a few weeks ago. I feel really ready for P2P and psyched for the swim. Took the ferry out to Peaks today with the kids to scope out the course. It is going to be really fun. Just getting out of the starting shoot will be the challenge but the rest will be just good honest swimming which I definitely feel ready to handle. Got some good nutrition tips from my tri friends so that will help. Tomorrow another training swim from Macworth to East End Beach (hopefully with Ange!) and then on Friday I will hopefully do another long 2 miler with a couple of friends. This is the best of summer for sure. On the way home tonight I picked a flat of strawberries and they were so plentiful it only took 15 minutes. I could hear the waves in the background... doesn't get any better.

Easy 1 mile

Just an easy 1 mile today before heading home from vacation. First .5 mile I took easy and then on the way back I sprinted. The waves and current were a little stronger than usual so it was a good, albeit short, workout. Water definitely seemed warmer and upon checking NOAA buoy says 63. Hope it is that warm next Saturday.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

57 degrees -- Ouch!

I have been feeling less motivated the last few days to do my ocean swims. I think the "thrill" of an ocean swim has worn off a bit, at least the last 10 days or so since I have been mostly swimming alone. I definitely swim faster and feel more excitement swimming with others. I think I need to try some new swim locations too. I train much more intensely in the winter with a coach standing on the deck yelling and threatening me (sorry coach!), but it's true. It's not that I am lazy, I just thrive on the competition and having a "reason" to work my tail off. I will work hard, very hard, under those conditions. But lately it has been just me against the ocean. Admittedly, as much as I am a life long swimmer, that can get a little boring sometimes (did I really just say that?).

I have honestly considered triathloning as I have dear friends who feel they have found their "thing" through tri's, but as convenient as running is, it hurts my neck (old whiplash injury). I love biking, but moutain biking, the easy leisurely kind where you go just as fast and hard as you feel like... not the racing kind on a super expensive bike that you don't dare leave unattended in front of a corner store as you make a spur of the moment pit stop for a popsicle. Anywho... I digress.

Today I managed about 1.9 miles in 43 minutes, which is all well and good, but I didn't feel so hot. My arms felt a little sluggish. And the water was COLD again. The NOAA buoy read 57 degrees which is on par with where it was mid-June. Not sure why. This is possibly how cold it will be for Peaks so I should get mentally prepared.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Go Dara!

How amazing was Dara Torres?! Fastest final qualifyig time in the Olympic Trials 100 meters at 41 years... I am so inspired! I remember watching her in the 1984 Olympics when she was a teenager. This will give me the extra push I need for a long swim tomorow.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Short one

Just a short one today... maybe 1 mile? It was COLD and kind of choppy. Maybe 59 degrees? Tomorrow I should try to swim to the pier... have to get psyched up for that. I think my best distance is 1 mile to 1.2 miles, still a sprinter at heart.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

1.4 miles

Easy 1.4 mile swim today, about 29 minutes. Not too many waves and I felt really strong coming back on the second half. Sat on the beach tonight and wondered how it would be to swim at sunset. Maybe I'll try it tomorrow night. It was so calm, which is interesting considering how just 2 hours earlier there had been a pretty strong off shore breaze with lots of white caps. I think that pattern is pretty typical here. Really nice day ... finally feeling like a vacation from everything. Phew!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Back to OP

As my 4-year old son said it was a beautiful day for the beach. We headed back down to Ocean Park and after lubing all the kids up with sunblock we all headed down to the beach. My friend Mary was recovering and enjoying breakfast after a 3-hour workout that morning so I was lifeguard for 6 kiddos. Once Mary got down to the beach with her jumbo hazelnut coffee, the kids had already burned through 4 rice cakes, 2 oranges and a cheese stick -- and it was only 10:30. Time for ME! Out for my swim. I had a new funky green suit on and was psyched. The water felt great, cold but in a refreshing way... at least with that thick wetsuit on. I was feeling good so I swam for 40 minutes. I felt really strong on the way back and just motored with my legs, which usually I just kick in a 6 or 8 beat pattern. The waves and wind weren't too strong. Total of about 1.5 miles. What a great feeling today. Truely a great beach day. And when I got back my 3-year old was yelling "Mommy, Mommy" from the beach and gave me a big hug.