Monday, April 30, 2007

Biking Adventures with Ray & Rob

"Life is either a great adventure or nothing." - Helen Keller

Indeed, Helen, our weekend long bike workouts always prove to be be adventurous - and this weekend was no different.

Ray had to work on Saturday at 10 a.m., so in order to get in our hour and a half brick (bike / run), we planned to meet at her apartment at 7:00 on Saturday morning. Robyn had gotten out of bed late and phoned Ray on the drive over to say that coffee and food were desperately needed before we could hit the road. Time was tight and Ray came through like a champ with fuel waiting at the door when Robyn arrived. After gulping down caffeine, chomping through a frozen waffle slathered in peanut butter, finding our bike and running shoes (and our helmets, sunscreen, snacks, water, Gatorade, bike pump, phone, credit card, etc.), transferring gear from Robyn's car to Rachel's, printing off a copy of our new route map (and leaving a copy behind for our hubbies - just in case we needed a rescue) and remembering to lock the door behind us, we were off! It was 7:25 a.m.

We drove to a church in rural Orange County to begin a new 17 mile loop that would be followed by a 20 minute run. We planned to build to race pace during the ride, quickly transition for an easy 5 min run, followed-by 15 min of running building to race pace. We'd planned plenty of time for a nice cool down and stretch. Our coach would be so proud.

Oh, the best laid plans.

On the way into the church, we passed a newly dead doe lying in the middle of the road. Perhaps it was an omen?

The first half of our ride was perfect. Late spring in North Carolina is heaven and this one was one those extra-special mornings. Cool, clear, and crisp blue sky. Ray was navigating and we were chatting away. Then we passed more roadkill. In total, over the course of this weekend's workouts, we encountered the afore mentioned doe, numerous possums and squirrels, two completely squished small turtles, and a giant black snake.

In the midst of our chatter about our week, life, our upcoming race and the incredible roadkill spectrum lying before us, we began to realize that the miles were piling up and we had not yet made the final turn of our loop. Hmmm......

Ray pulled out the route cue sheet and noted that our turn was about 5 or 6 miles back. No problem, we thought. We could use this stretch as a race pace interval and still make it back to the car with time to transition to our run before Ray needed to be at work. Her shower might be cut short, but she could make it. She had been balancing work, school, training, buying a new house, interviewing for doctoral programs, and her marriage for the last two years -and by golly, this workout was going to get done. Not to worry she told Robyn.

We turn our bikes around and book it. We're in our aerobars, flying through farm land with the wind at our back. We hit over 30 mph and feel like pros.

Then Ray's nose starts to bleed profusely. Because of her work schedule, we don't have time to stop -- and we don't have anything to wipe her nose if we we just keep going. She smears blood all over the sleeve of her jersey and starts to resemble all of the roadkill we've passed.

We near the church with one final hill to climb....and then, Ray drops her chain. She yells to Robyn to keep going in order for one of us to get our run in, but you never leave your wing (wo)man, so Robyn pulled over while Ray put her ingenue bike mechanic skills to the test.

A few minutes later we clip back in and head to the church, where we quickly transition into our running shoes for a 6 minute jog.

Bloody and battered Ray was only 8 minutes late to work -- and Robyn promised to navigate our next ride.

Ah, the adventurous lives we lead.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

It All Makes A Difference

"Collaboration creates prosperity....There are no haves and have-nots. We are all haves and our assets are diverse. In the alchemy of collaboration, we become equal partners; we create wholeness and sufficiency for everyone." - Lynne Twist

Just as our daily workouts are slowly building the foundation that helps us reach our racing goals, the small donations we've been receiving in support of Genesis Home really add up. Our entire Tri to End Homelessness experience thus far has really taught us about the big power that exists in small action.

We're also learning that we all have something to give and we all can benefit from the gifts of others. A few recent examples we find inspiring:

  • Our coach donated her talents to our efforts to improve our own lives and those homeless families who are living our community. Now, her mother-in- law is doing her part by passing on her yoga teaching gifts to those that could use them.
  • This morning we read a great story about a man who makes gifts of $20 to $200 change people's lives around the world. Like the many donors to Tri to End Homelessness, he's leveraging the power of relatively small dollar amounts to make huge change.
  • Organizing this campaign has added new meaning and purpose to our triathlon season. Now, many of our friends and co-workers have recently told us that our campaign is inspiring them to donate to causes they believe it and reinvigorate their exercise routines. Hooray!

Pass it on. Pay it forward. Give back. Accept generosity when it comes to you. Prayers, presence, gifts, service: It all makes a difference.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Ninety percent of my game is mental. It's my concentration that has gotten me this far.” -Chris Evert

During a recent trainer workout , our coach Sage asked to us notice our thoughts and compare those to our thinking during the first race of the season. During the bike workout and to some extent during the race, we both noticed our minds wandering. As our concentration easily drifted away from the moment, our power lessened and our speed slowed.

One of the reasons we love endurance sports is that they generally help us stay in the present. It's tough to think about all of the other things on life's list when we're concentrating on just getting through a long workout. When we're constantly repeating "Just keep going!", the only thing that goes through our minds in putting one foot in front of the other.

But this year, we're not just trying to get through it - we're working, we're racing, and we're trying to get faster. And that takes A LOT more focus. At this point, we know we have the physical strength to get through the distances we're taking on -it's the mental toughness we're finding most challenging: the ability to dig deeper and find another gear when what we really want to do is cruise; the willingness to push and not quit during a speed work interval; and the control to acknowledge the intensity we're feeling in our muscles, but not let that acknowledgement distract us from our purpose.

To help train our minds, we've added visualization and meditation practice to our weekly schedules. Because we're new to this (and a little antsy!), we've started with only 2 minutes of concentrated meditation -- adding 30 seconds each time. The hot, flat sections of our next race will put this part of our training to the test.

In general life, it's all too easy to just cruise through. This year, however, we're not looking for easy - we're looking for intentional. As golfer Arnold Palmer says, with that intention, comes increased happiness: “Concentration, Confidence, Competitive urge, Capacity for enjoyment.”

Monday, April 23, 2007


"If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment." - Marcus Arelius

Deep into a peak block of training (simulating racing conditions), Robyn faced a big fear this weekend: OPEN WATER. As a tri newbie, she's only raced in pools up until now. However, since the next race of the season will put her in a lake for the first time, Coach Sage astutely suggested that we give the big, dark, choppy water a try before the start gun goes off in two weeks. And, surprise, surprise, it was not nearly the terrifying adventure Robyn has been anticipating. Those yards in the pool focusing on breath and form really do pay off - especially when the environment is constantly changing.

Facing fears in a changing environment is something we know the families living at Genesis Home also learn to manage. Whether it's going back to school when one's previous school experiences have not been successful or choosing to remain sober or going on a job interview, taking that first step - that first plunge - is often the scariest part. It all seems simple - and maybe even fun - from there.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

New Race!

We're excited to announce that we've added a new race to our 2007 season!

On July 28, we'll be competing in the Buckner Mission Man Sprint Triathlon in Burlington, NC:

750m swim (open water)
15 mi bike
5k run

Like this past weekend's race, Mission Man is part of the Endurance Series - open to all athletes, but beginner-friendly! So, come join us!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The week after our first race of the season has been hectic one. Robyn's very busy at work. Ray is working hard to finish up her master's degree (only a few more weeks left!). Our houses are a mess. Our refrigerators are empty. Clothes are dirty. Mysterious bills keep showing up. And gas is three dollars a gallon. Wouldn't you know that Life just keeps creeping up!

During this week's "life moments" we've found ourselves using several of the motivational mantras that we also relied on during last weekend's race:

Take it as it comes. -- One step at a time, whether it's racing, working to meet a deadline, or dealing with a car break-in (as Ray and Dave faced yesterday).

Breath and form. Breath and form. -- Focusing our breath and form during a race helps us maintain power even when we're tired. Similarly, returning to our breath helps calm the nervous chatter when the days events are replaying in our heads as we try to fall asleep. Remembering our 'office form' also helps keep us alert when we're faced with too many hours in front of the computer.

It's there if you want it -- Robyn has been using this one to help her focus on speed during her runs. She's also been pulling it out this week, as a reminder that is her one and only life -- it's hers to create.

The life season never ends, so share your mantras with us!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Valdese Sprint: Race Report - Part 2

After a wonderful, celebratory evening with our family in Asheville, NC, we've awoken on Sunday morning still aglow with our first race of the season. We're only getting faster from here!

THE SWIM - 250 yd, pool

Our sister Holly was competing in her very first triathlon! She was the first the first swimmer in the water -- but was quickly passed by super swimmer Ray. Robyn started 26 minutes later. Ray pushed the swim. Holly got a little frustrated -- as we all have in our first race. Robyn conserved a bit for the bike course that lay ahead. All of us felt solid about our swim times:
Ray, 3:58
Holly, 4:57
Robyn, 5:30

Lots and lots of ups and downs. At various points on the course, our speeds ranged between 7 miles per hour and 30 miles per hour. Holly truly gutted it out on a heavy mountain bike!

Ray, 36:31
Robyn, 38:31
Holly, 1:04:17

THE RUN - 3.1 mi, rolling

The course turnaround at the half-way point felt like it a while to reach, but once we did, Ray and Robyn tried to put the past month's speed work to the test! We both felt like the first half of the run was a little slow, but felt good about the push we made for the last 1.5 miles.

Ray, 27:00
Robyn, 27:33
Holly, 37:04

Overall, it was a fun, fun race. We're so proud of our little sis for taking on the challenge. We're thankful for our parents' cheerleading and our husbands' support. Now, we're ready to go faster!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Valdese Sprint: Race Report - Part 1

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear,our presence automatically liberates others."- Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love

WE DID IT! Full race report to follow. A few brief notes on a great day in Valdese, NC:

First Place, 25-29: Rachel (1:08)

Third Place, 25-29: Robyn (1:13)

Third Place, 16-19: Holly (1:48)

First Place, Overall Women: Coach Sage

Pictures (from top): Holly, Rachel, and Robyn post-finish!; Robyn, Sage, and Rachel in our winners trophy t-shirts; The Gang from the Triangle and Asheville, NC -- all placed in age group or overall standings!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Goal #1 Achieved!

"When you let go of trying to get more of what you don't really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. When you make a difference with what you have, it expands." - Lynne Twist, The Soul of Money: Reclaiming our Inner Resources

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! When we launched our season back in February, we set what felt like two ambitious goals: (1) to raise $2500 for Genesis Home by the date of our first triathlon of the season and (2) to successfully race our first international distance tri. Thanks to the generosity of our friends, family, community, and strangers, we have achieved our first goal! Thanks also to Wal-Mart for their recent contribution.

Our first race is this Saturday, and to date, we have raised over $4,500 to support the housing and supportive services Genesis Home provides to homeless families in our hometown of Durham, NC. Thanks to the support of a local foundation, these funds have been matched -- effectively doubling the impact they will have in helping to end homelessness one family at a time. Like all good competitors, we would love to blow our original goal out of the water, so your donations are still welcome and encouraged!

Tri season, here we come!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

According to a story in today's local paper: A 2006 report by the National Coalition for the Homeless found 142 attacks last year against homeless people, 20 of which resulted in death -- a 65 percent increase from 2005, when 86 were violently assaulted, including 13 homicides. A majority of the attackers were young and male.

As those not living in poverty, we have a choice: We can look away. We can say they deserved it. We can say that would never be me, not in my community, doesn't relate to my life no, never.

Or, we can do something.

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak outbecause I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one leftto speak out for me.
- Pastor Martin Niemöller

Another Way for You to Tri: Part 2

Need a great new messenger bag for commuting to work? Need a place to store you work/life/ tri gear? Haven't yet tri-ed to end homelessness by making your donation to Genesis Home?

Follow this link to purchase The North Face messenger bags donated by Great Outdoor Provision Company:

ALL proceeds benefit Genesis Home - where homelessness is ending, one family at a time.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Another way for you to Tri

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.- Winston Churchill

Thanks to Great Outdoor Provision Company, folks interested in supporting the Tri to End Homelessness campaign will have another way to donate later this week! As the newest sponsor of our efforts, GOPC has donated several of The North Face's Messenger Bags. All proceeds from the sale of these bags will go directly to Genesis Home. More information about how you can purchase a great bag while tri-ing to end homelessness will be posted here soon. Stay tuned! Thanks GOPC!

Saturday, April 7, 2007


"An intense anticipation itself transforms possibility into reality; our desires being often but precursors of the things which we are capable of performing." - Samuel Smiles

One week, one week, one week! One week until our first race of the season. A small, fun, local-supported sprint triathlon in the foothills of the North Carolina mountains.

During Friday's swim and weights session, we talked about how exciting it will be to put this training to the test -- to see how our bodies respond after to the commitment we've made over the past couple of months. We definitely feel stronger mentally and physically, and the stopwatch has shown that we are taking seconds off (one by one by one....), but there are those small, nagging thoughts of self-doubt that have been creeping up during the occasional lap or mile of a long run.....

What if our race times don't change? What if the fear creeps in and we don't respond? What if we return to old, easy habits instead of putting the lessons of the past couple of months into action when we need them most? After this work, what if nothing happens?

Now, we realize that triathlon is triathlon -- and life is life -- and if all that happens next Saturday is we have a fun, beautiful day of swimming, biking, and running with our family watching, well, then we're luckier than 90% of the world on any given day. But when we've put in the effort, we really do hope to see results.

We wonder if the families living at Genesis Home have some of these same thoughts as they're preparing to transition into living in homes of their own:

What if my life doesn't change? What if the fear creeps in and I don't respond? What if I return to old easy habits instead of putting lessons learned into action? After all of this, what if nothing happens?

For the week ahead: We're visualizing success. We're trusting that we know what we know -- and that the 45 hours of biking, 23 hours of weight-lifting, 34 hours of running, and nearly 68,000 yards of swimming we've put in will make a difference. And, we're keeping it all in perspective.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Begin it.

"Whatever you can do or dream you can, BEGIN IT. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."-Goethe

It's SPRING and, everywhere we look, beginnings are sprouting! The official start of our race season is only a few days away. Our little sister will be competing in her first tri. Ryan has pulled his bike out and has returned to pedaling to Genesis Home. Several of our friends and co-workers are starting training programs for the first time. Even more folks we know are training for a new, longer distance this year. Our folks are heading back to the gym.

These are folks with busy, demanding jobs and homes full of kids and spouses, who are active n their communities and generally just have A LOT on their plates. When we all have hundreds of reasons not to lead active lives, seeing all of these beginnings is inspiring. For hundreds of reasons to keep going, check out Runner's World's 101 Kicks in the Butt!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


"Focus your efforts on seeing what it feels like to go FAST! Take your speed work right to the edge of really intense sensation (but keep your form together so you don't get injured)." - Coach Sage

"I'm o.k.....I'm o.k.....I'm o.k.......I'm just really, really, really uncomfortable!" -- Robyn's inner mantra during this week's speed workouts

One and half weeks until our first race of the season and we're in the middle of a two week anaerobic endurance / speed building workout block. Early on this year, we talked a lot about wanting to get faster, wanting to improve, wanting to see what our bodies could really do if we REALLY put in the time, effort, and smart training. Funny how speed works, though....we don't get faster just by wanting. We get faster by working.

And so working, we are. And work it is! As gals more accustomed and comfortable with long, slow, distances, speed does not come naturally. But while the physical output it's taking to go faster is really challenging, we're finding the the mental output is even more so. Going fast for us speed newbies requires complete mental concentration. There's no zoning out. There's no dialing in and letting gravity take over. There's no casual taking in of the scenery. We have to concentrate -- on cadence, on breath, on form, on cadence, on cadence, on cadence.....

It's tough.

But we are getting faster!