Monday, July 30, 2007

Race Report: Bucker Mission Man Triathlon

"Triathlon is NOT for sissies." - Our Mom, after cheering us on at Saturday's race

We showed up to Saturday's race with a different attitude -- and it paid off physically, mentally, and spiritually. After warming up with our coach and fellow Triangle friends, we gave our mom a hug and lined up behind the first wave of swimmers to participate in the pre-race prayer and national anthem. It doesn't matter how old we are, having our mom there to cheer us on was wonderful and the national anthem always gets us a little choked up.

Ray had just finished one the toughest weeks of her life -- took final exams in her last pre-requisites for the doctoral program that starts in January, closed on her new home, and supported her husband through finishing his nursing school thesis. Sleep-deprived and unsure of the day would bring, she approached the race as she would a long workout and looked to simply enjoy the day.

Rob had been reading The Triathletes Guide to Mental Training and was looking to avenge some of the mental gremlins that plagued her last race.

The Swim

750 yards in flat open water. Ray started at the front of our large wave and was the third woman out of the water! Rob hung near the back and for the first time stayed completely calm and even throughout the swim -- even when she was caught in traffic, kicked in the face, and got a bit off course!

Ray - 13:32
Rob - 19:37

We exited the water running up a boat ramp and quickly transitioned to our bikes.

Ray - 1:04
Rob - 0:51

The Bike
15 miles on a beautiful, gently rolling course. Our strategy was to give 90%, while trying not to let a fellow age-grouper pass us (AND to avoid the penalties we've both received earlier in the season!). Ray felt more confident than ever on her new tri-bike and Rob averaged over 19 miles per hour.

Ray - 48:06
Rob- 46:57

Despite the narrow shoot and traffic, Ray perfected her flying dismount! We both transitioned very quickly and headed out for a run we knew would hurt!

Ray - 0:53
Rob - 0:49

The (Trail) Run
The run course has to be one of the best parts of this race - along with the yummy post-race food and motivating, organized, and cheerful volunteers! After surviving a quick uphill out of transition, we headed into the woods for an out and back 3.1 miles We'd previewed the course during warm-up and knew where to expect the hills (small steps, big arms, small step, big arms!). Positive mental talk was definitely key to this hilly and hot finish. We saw each other and gave our usual thumbs-up at the turn-around and passed a few fellow age groupers in the process, which built our confidence. We both finished strong, as evidenced by the very loud, PRIMAL groan Robyn let out in the shoot -- apparently scaring the dude in front of her who stopped short of the timing mat as she flew by him.

Ray - 29:17
Rob - 27:52

The Bottom Line
We both loved this race. Robyn saw some time and strategy improvements and Rachel was happy that she didn't back out, despite a very, very hectic pre-race week. We both finished in the top half of our age group and the top half of all women racing. Overall, we found the joy inside the challenge and drove home with full hearts and wide smiles.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Our Intention: Bravery and Joy

"This is where we need to remember to be a little bit brave." - Rachel, explaining the narrow bike shoot leading to T2 at the Triangle Triathlon.

"Wheeeeeee!!!!!!" - A 5-year old girl learning how to dive off of the blocks at the Durham YMCA pool last Friday afternoon

As we prepare to race this weekend, we're thinking about the question that our coach and yoga teacher always asks as we settle into her yoga class: What is your intention for practice? The intention is not necessarily a goal, but is instead a focal point for reflection, a reminder, a question we return to as we move from pose to pose. This weekend, our intentions are to be a little bit brave and remember the joy!

During Saturday's race, this means:

  • Experiencing the pre-race anxiety- and encouraging ourselve to Be five. Go Play. Wheeeeee!!!!
  • Feeling the swim gremlins creep up or a fellow swimmer get a bit too close - and thinking with All is well. I am calm and smooth.
  • Being unsure about how much we can push the pace - and saying Possibility.
  • Hearing our bodies say I hate this! I'm done after T2 - and responding with This is what I've worked for. Downshift and take the next step.

At the end of yoga class, we're asked to simply remember our intention - not judge how well we remained true to it. We'll be doing the same after our race.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ride for the Land

This weekend we joined two of Ray's co-workers in participating in the Ride for the Land - a beautiful 45 mile tour supporting the work of Triangle Land Conservancy. The ride took us to new cycling territory throughout the deep river region of Chatham, Moore, and Lee counties.

A few notes from the day:

  • The day started off with a strange bang when a male cyclist who was getting up there in years looked at us with a glimmer in his eye and dubiously asked if he could help us put sunscreen on.!!!
  • We twice poured one out for our homies who unfortunately gave the ride's resident bike mechanic a few early morning projects.
  • One of our rest stops was the House in the Horseshoe, a house that survived the American Revolutionary War and still sits on acres and acres of incredible farmland.
  • Our legs and hips were still feeling the effects of plyo!
  • After the ride, Robyn headed over to Genesis Home for some refueling at the shelter's annual summer party for residents and staff. 20 kids who happen to be homeless, forgetting their cares, playing joyfully on the slip 'n slide, and stuffing themselves with ice cream. What could be better!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

You Should Have Been There....

...when we met up with our coach at the track at 6:15 this morning for our first session of plyometric exercises!

We were hopping, jumping, and skipping our way down the 100 yard line -- building power, improving body awareness, and attempting not to laugh hysterically at our sometimes questionable form, as we were passed by seasoned runners who were also awake and beautifully bounding 'round the track.

If keeping workouts interesting and engaging is one key to performance improvement, we're there, as this week's training plan calls for plyometric work in each of our three sports.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A New Endurance Sport

According to Have Fun*Do Good, bloggers around the world are entering the endurance arena!

Blogathon 2007 will launch on July 28. For 24 hours, bloggers around the world will post every 30 minutes to raise funds for organizations they believe in.

Between work, school, training, and the other areas of our lives, 48 blog posts in one day seems like a bit more than we can handle -- but we love the idea!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Race Report: Triangle Triathlon

"I don't want to be anything other than what I've been tryin to be lately /All I have to do is think of me and I've peace of mind / I'm tired of looking 'round rooms wondering what I gotta do /Or who I'm supposed to be / I don't want to be anything other than me."
- Gavin DeGraw

First things first: We're back from a fabulous family vacation where soaked up some summer sun, played lots of games, kayaked through the intercoastal waterway, read several books, ate tons of seafood, and got in a little bit of training -- including Robyn's first ocean swim!

Now, on to the race report!

On Sunday, July 8, the song quoted above was playing through the loudspeakers soon after we crossed the finish line. It truly summed up the attitude with which we tried to approach this race.

We joined 1,100 fellow triathletes -- including our coach and several friends -in the Triangle Triathlon. The race took place just down the road from us in Lake Crabtree County Park. The weather was hot, hot, hot -- but beautiful.

The Swim
The flat 750 yard swim took place in Lake Crabtree -- where interestingly enough, swimming is normally not allowed due to contamination (hmmm....motivation to swim fast!!).

As usual, Ray positioned herself as the front of our wave and swam like the swim champ she is, quickly making it out of water just a few second slower than last year.

Robyn, on the other hand, positioned herself in the back of the wave and freaked out a bit during the first half of this her second open water swim. Goggles leaked, breathing was uncontrolled, and the first buoy couldn't come soon enough. Things calmed down significantly after she made the turn for home.

Rachel - 12:04
Robyn - 17:01

The Bike
After a short run out of the water (We've learned that skipping with knees high helps us move from water to land most quickly!), we were both off on our bikes. The 15 mile course was a clover leaf of constant ups and downs. We saw several folks pulled off the course with gear issues and were thankful to have made it through the ride unscathed.

Ray made her debut performance on her new tri bike. Although the ride is taking a little getting used to, she felt super fast and efficient. Unfortunately, she was dogged with a 2:00 drafting penalty somewhere on the course -- although she was deliberately working hard NOT to draft, especially during narrow sections of the course. After penalties in both of our last two races, we certainly hope we're done with that for the remainder of the season!

Robyn gave it her all on the bike, posting her fastest bike times of the season. Unfortunately, it may have been a bit too much, given how her legs felt during the run.

Rachel - 48:10
Robyn - 47:45

The Run
As the temperature started to rise, we were thankful that the majority of the double loop 5K run took place in the shade.

Rachel ran consistently and passed two guys in the finish line shoot! Check out the pictorial evidence here.

On the other hand, during the first five minutes of the run, Robyn had the conscious thought of wanting to sit down on the curb and cry - just a little bit! She didn't and her weary legs came around after a slow first loop, but the run was her slowest of the season and she let a fellow age grouper get away during the last couple hundred yards. Note the pained look here.

Rachel - 26:32
Robyn - 28:15

The Bottom Line

Rachel - 1:31:41 (22/42 AG) -- 45 seconds faster than last year
Robyn - 1:35:51 (27/42 AG)

At first, we were both a bit disappointed with our overall times. We've been training so hard and would be lying if we said that we wouldn't LOVE to see huge drops in our times - instead of incremental progress (Who wouldn't?!). But -- then we chatted with our coach who reminded us that (1) this race was not our goal....instead, we have our eyes set on a different prize; (2) because this race was not our goal, we weren't rested; and (3) incremental progress is the name of the game.

So, we thought of the finish line song, drove straight to the beach, and remembered that we're in this for the long haul!

Things we're keeping in mind when we race again in two weeks:

  • Exhale!
  • Tap into the fire -- cadence, cadence, cadence!
  • Find another gear on the run. We know it's there.
  • Keep those quick transitions.
  • Smile -- this is FUN!

Special thanks and blogging love goes out to Ray's husband Dave and his brother Chris for motivating cheering as usual (and some tri sherpa-ing back to the car after the race) and to our local "teammates" with whom we warmed-up, cooled-down, and enjoyed lots of pre-race company.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Post-Race Vacation

We interrupt these pre-race blog posts to let our loyal readers know that IMMEDIATELY following our sure-to-be dominating performances at Sunday's Triangle Triathlon, the Tri to End Homelessness sisters will be joining our parents for The Annual Beach Trip to Isle of Palms, SC.

We'll be spending a week enjoying sun, sand, and surf -- and getting a little training in! Reports on Sunday's race will be posted after we return home.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Something's Changed

"Confidence comes from training" - Peter Reid, Ironman World Champion

Something's changed.

When we started this season back in January, we wondered what was possible. We had high hopes, an ambitious new year's resolution, a solid training plan, a motivating coach -- and some serious, deep down, super secret, highly irrational internal doubts:

What if the plan doesn't 'work'? What if we can't do it? Maybe we're just built to stay where we are. Maybe we don't really have what it takes to improve. Yeah, we've run a long way before, but this is different...this isn't just gutting it out - this is giving all we have....and what if that isn't good enough? What if we aren't good enough?

With all of that inside, we dove in and since the start of our 2007 training, we've:
- Biked over 98 hours
- Run over 82 hours
- Swam nearly 150,000 yards
- Practiced over 25 hours of yoga
- Lifted weights for over 30 hours

With that effort, we've seen real improvement - our technique is becoming more efficient, we're more in tune with our heart rates, our endurance has risen several notches, and our times are coming down.

But more than any of those external changes, something's changed on the inside. The attitude with which we approach our training and our racing is completely new. More than ever, the training represents our intention to live our best lives -- everyday.

Now, there are still days (like yesterday for Ray and today for Rob) when training just feels like work, one more thing to do...but still, even on those days, there is inside us a glow, a revived authenticity, a lightness, a knowing, a new ability to take it all in stride. And for that we are thankful.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Race Week!

"My thoughts before a big race are usually pretty simple. I tell myself: Get out of the blocks, run your race, stay relaxed. If you run your race, you'll win... channel your energy. Focus. -
Carl Lewis"

After completing three weeks of BIG volume, we're excited to race this Sunday in the Triangle Triathlon - a local open water sprint, attracting 1,000 athletes.

Five months into our tri year, we're both feeling strong, focused, in-tune, and ready. We know we can go the distance. We know we can go faster than ever before. We know we've put in the time. We know that our coaching has helped make a huge difference.

One never knows what will come up on race day....but we're ready for that which we can control.