Thursday, August 28, 2008

How Long Does it Take to Raise $2500?

** UPDATE **
Thanks for your help! Keep spreading the word! It's working and $10 donations are coming in!

According to social networker and blogger Beth Kanter, the answer is 90 minutes!

Through using the power of her own networks and asking friends and colleagues to do the same, more 250 people each donated $10 in just over an hour and a half in an effort to send Cambodian kids to college.

So, that's our challenge dear readers. And Beth has proved that it's possible.

If you're a regular visitor to Tri to End Homelessness or just stopping by for the first time, will you DONATE $10 NOW to help Genesis Home end homelessness for families like P's and N's and M's and F's?

$10. Right now. From you. And your friends on Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, and My Space...

The finish line is in sight.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

She Who Runs in the Rain

"Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day. Remember that no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character, are required to set up in the fault-finding business. Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it. Your time is too precious to be sacrificed in wasted days combating the menial forces of hate, jealously, and envy. Guard your fragile life carefully. Only God can shape a flower, but any foolish child can pull it to pieces.” - Og Mandino

She awakes to the sound of raindrops falling in the dark.

She does not question - even for a moment - whether the rain will change her plans.

She no longer has excuses. Speed work in the dark and the rain it will be.

She goes around and around, acknowledging the quiet, but powerful solidarity felt among the others- nearly all women - who did not question either.

She realizes that what makes this o.k. is knowing that she has a home to which she will return. Others do not.

She spits and groans and sweats and labors and DOES NOT CARE - for once in her life - what others think as she wipes the rain drops off of her watch face and starts another interval.

She is different.

She is stronger and more powerful than ever before.

She can do this - even if the rain comes on that morning too.

When a colleague inquires about her training and says "What do you do on mornings like this?", she confidently replies "I run."

Monday, August 25, 2008

Race Report: Sportsplex Super Sprint

"Taking charge of your body can help you take charge of your life. And that power can help you go wherever you want to go, every single day." - CHERYL BRIDGES TREWORGY, member of five U.S. World Cross-Country teams

1.5 miles into the run portion of Saturday's race, I reached the top of the first hill, wanted to throw up more than I can ever remember, knew I had to do this hill again during the second loop of the run, and actually thought, "This might be my first DNF."

Yes, a super sprint triathlon really can be that hard.

* * *
I don't want to do this.

That was my very first conscious thought when the alarm went off on Saturday morning.

It had been a very difficult week at work, a very full week of training, and I just wasn't feeling it. The very last thing I wanted to was 'look for the pain...again.'

Sleep in, big breakfast, mimosa, watch TV all day? Yes.
Race? Not so much.

But, just as I've done SO many times in the last two years of training, I. GOT. UP.

I thought about the message I'd received at the Y the day before and I put my feet on the floor, more as an act of faith than with any real intention.

Twenty minutes later I was at the race site. Got checked-in, bodymarked, and headed back to car to get my gear. Knowing very clearly the state of my mental toughness, I knew that I needed some SERIOUS motivation. I pulled out my number and the big marker I keep in my transition bag (just in case I run out of time and need to bodymark myself) and wrote P!'s name (yes, with an exclamation point) on the back.

I've known P for a few years. His family graduated from Genesis Home's Family Matters program and a member of his family now works at the shelter, teaching other families what she learned during her time in transition. P often talks about how much he loved living at Genesis Home. He is bright-eyed, enthusiastic, and always smiling - despite the hard times that life continues to throw his way. I ran this race with P in front me because I knew that he would have absolutely LOVED to have been out there that morning. I needed a gratitude check and dedicating the morning to P was just that.

* * *
Not surprisingly, the race was a tough one for me.

Still, I gave it everything I had to give on this particular day, audibly repeating P's name several times during the run. Thanks to him, I didn't DNF. Instead, I ended up with my fastest swim, bike, and run efforts ever in a tri; placed 3rd in my age group (by 3 seconds!); and remembered how important it is for my racing - and my life - to have a greater purpose.

Many, many thanks to my sister, brother-in-law, and Sage Endurance teammates for the cheering and support throughout the day!

Swim, 400m, 7:51 (1:58 / 100m)
Bike, 12 mi, 36:49 (19:56 mph)
Run, 3.1 mi (or a little shorter!), 25:49 (8:20 / mi)

Total Time, 1:12:28, 16/97 Women, 3/17 Age Group

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Good Day

"At 85 years old any day I make it to the Y is a good day!" - My locker room buddy after this morning's swim

It's been one of those weeks when balancing training and work and relationships has been challenging. But this morning's "chance" encounter with my locker room buddy was just the reminder that I needed. God works in mysterious ways. . .

A good day indeed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Intention: Look for the Pain...Again.

"Perhaps the single most important element in mastering the techniques and tactics of racing is experience. But once you have the fundamentals, acquiring the experience is a matter of time." - Greg LeMond

Another race on Saturday. Local, short, fun. An opportunity to go ALL OUT and look for the pain...again!

This will be my last sprint of 2008 and I intend to race as if it could be my last. When I cross the finish line, I want there to be no doubt that I gave it everything I had. Potential, here I come.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Rest Week: A Liberal Interpretation

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time” - John Lubbock

Well, I certainly didn't get much water-listening or cloud-watching in this week, but I did workout less in order to focus on other areas of my life.

After each three-week block in my training program, I've had a step-back week during which both the prescribed volume and intensity of my training are lessened. This week, for the first time, I chose to take down even a few more notches and really, really rest. After my last base-building block, which included my most recent race, my legs, heart, and mind were really, REALLY tired at the beginning of this week. Now, after limiting my training to one hour a day and prescribing myself many hours of inspirational Olympic coverage, I woke up this morning itching to get back at it.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Last Trimester

"Like all of us in this storm between birth and death, I can wreak no great changes on the world, only small changes for the better, I hope, in the lives of those I love.” - Dean Koontz

Less than three months to go until we birth this baby. Hard to believe. After nearly two years of solid training - over 300 hours of running, biking, swimming, weight lifting, and yoga since January alone - November 1 is just around the corner.

And like the mothers living at Genesis Home have done before me, I'm starting to visualize that day. The plan, the pain, the unknown -- and the support I'll need along the way.

So many of you have already been incredibly supportive: sending encouraging emails, meeting up for long runs and rides, sharing our blog with your circles, and making personal donations to help fund Genesis Home's work to end homelessness one family at a time.

Now, with three months to go, I'm nearly 2/3 of the way to my fundraising goal! Your generosity has raised $4,680. That means, we only have $2,620 left.

I know that we can make it across that finish line. I hope that you'll help and make a donation to Genesis Home today. No amount is too small -- or too large!

You can join us in ending homelessness HERE.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


"...I think you can go faster than that, though..." - My coach, via email, following Saturday's race

As per usual, I contacted my coach after my last race to let her know how it went. As you read in my race report, immediatley after the race, I was on cloud nine. In my mind, nothing could have gone better.

She responded with a wonderfully supportive email that just happened to include the sentence quoted above.

Did I see the supportive part that came before or the coaching part that came after?

Ummmm, not exactly. Instead, I got defensive. REALLY DEFENSIVE.

Faster? You think I can go faster? You think I SHOULD have gone faster? Gimme a break! What the hell is she talking is about? She wasn't there! She didn't see me grunting and groaning and spitting my way to the finish. Don't knock me off my cloud, lady! Does she not think I'm working hard enough? I CANNOT get up any earlier and work any harder than I already am. I hate this. I hate this. I hate this. ...and I might hate her!

Yeah. It was quite a mature response. My husband was amused.

I went into the kitchen and starting chopping tons of vegetables for the dinner I was preparing. My mind was, of course, spinning. I took a few deep breaths and thought about the race. As I wrote in my race report, in general, I felt REALLY, REALLY good throughout the entire race. In fact, my body responded so well that it shocked me. AND, if I'm really honest, I can admit that went I came into T2, I knew that barring something horrible on the run I would easily meet my overall goal and finish in under 3 hours. Then, I saw my sub 9:20 split at mile one and somewhere deep down thought "'s o.k. to slow down a little bit." Then I remembered that after the race my mom said I looked so good at mile 5 that "it didn't even look like I was working."

Hmmmm.......maybe I could have pushed a little harder on that run? Did I really feel pain? Did I? I know that I was breathing really heavily, but I'm having a hard time remembering any pain now. Maybe she isn't saying "You SHOULD have gone faster - i.e. I'm disappointed" but is instead saying "You got potential, kid -- don't leave it out there!"

I shared this reflection from with my husband. He looked up from the couch and said "You mean, we don't have to hate her now?" and smiled.

As Sage likes to say, "the job of the coach is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

Well, job accomplished. Consider my buttons pushed.

After some additional reflection and discussion, I realized that she wasn't questioning my effort or my commitment. Instead, she was simply putting forward a physiological statement. Based on last year's 1 mile time trial, I CAN go faster. The math is there. Rational and to the point.

So, it's got me thinking about potential. About how and why and when we - all of us, including those folks living at Genesis Home - notice our own potential up ahead, but for some reason hold back and choose to let it get away from us.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Race Report: Lake Logan Olympic Triathlon

“These triathlons tire me out!” – My Dad, multisport spectator extraordinaire , during a post-race lunch at the Mountain Mater Festival

For me, Saturday’s race offered a glimpse of potential. My body responded so much more strongly than I had anticipated and planned for that it’s now got me thinking. Thinking again about my effort, about what’s possible, and about what’s still holding me back.

Thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking...

But, NOT thinking too much is a big part of what helped make this race so special. So, for now, let’s get on with the race report and save the thinking for another day.

This weekend offered the opportunity to spend some alone time with my parents. No husband, no sisters, no friends, just me. I can’t remember the last time the three of us simply got to hang out. The oldest kid in me felt some deep, biological selfish longing satisfied and it was an absolutely wonderful three days.

Saturday morning, my mom joined me for a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call and we headed west in the starry mountain darkness. Despite the complicated directions and our encountering of a few closed roads, I felt incredibly calm. We navigated, listened to music, and mom reminded me to breathe.

We arrived at Lake Logan within the perfect amount of time: Just enough to get me set-up, bodymarked, and warmed-up before the race director announced that it was time for all athletes to head to the lake.

Lake Logan is beautiful. Even with the drought-lowered water level, the scene is simply postcard perfect. Because the water was lower than originally anticipated, race officials changed the swim course, moving it significantly further from the transition area. As a result, all racers were encouraged to bring their running shoes to a make-shift mini-transition area located at the swim exit. As I was walking the half-mile(?) to the swim start, running shoes in hand, I distinctly noted that the walk was taking a little longer than I would have liked. None the less, I walked with a smile on my face. It was race day, I felt so calm and ready, the weather was perfect, and I was prepared. As I walked I mentally recited one of my favorite poems by e.e. cummings:

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;
this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

The horn sounded and my wave was off! Knowing that plenty of intensity lay ahead, my plan for the swim was to slightly increase my effort as I reached each buoy. I simply stuck to my plan, sighted well, and maintained my form. As my mind occasionally drifted, I brought it back by counting my strokes and mentally humming “Om” with each exhale.

I reached the turn-around buoy and was shocked. So shocked in fact that I stopped swimming, lifted my head out the water, turned to the left, turned to the right, and looked behind me just to make sure I was still on course. I could not believe that I was half-way finished with this swim. Assured that I did indeed need to make the turn, I returned to my plan. Before I knew it, my hand was grazing the muddy lake bottom and it was time to run.

1500 m
Avg 2:06 / 100 m
Fastest open water swim to date!

T1 (The First)
I popped out of the water, removed cap and goggles, began stripping my wet suit, and made my way up the steep bank toward the spot where I’d left my running shoes.

Wet suit off, running shoes on, GO!

Legs? Uh, hello, legs? Let’s MOOOOOOOVE.

After spending the last 30 minutes horizontal, my legs were a little freaked out by the idea of running, but I slowly got it done and made my wobbly way down the gravel path toward transition where my mom and dad were cheering away.

T1 (The Second)
Running shoes off (This is weird), bike shoes on, glasses, helmet, bike, GO! Back down another gravel path I ran, stumbled for just a second to mount my bike, and was then away!

Total T1: 7:42

This was the kind of amazing bike portion of a triathlon that makes me think – just for a second – that I should forget this whole multisport thing and just ride!

For the entire 40K, I felt incredible. Strong, focused, not quite sure that I could maintain the pace, but eager to try. I put her in the big chain ring, got aero, made the two climbs out of and in to transition seem like nothing, chose great lines with each turn, and RODE my little heart out.

At various moments throughout the ride, when the pack I was riding near got crowded or when I remembered the stair-step strategy intensity strategy that my coach recommended, I shifted into my small ring and spun my legs out a bit. At several of those moments, I gave myself an out loud “’Atta Girl” and smiled.

One lesson from this race that I’ll take into my half-iron is the need to practice my nutrition while riding at race pace. Although I had planned to take in Sustained Energy, water, and Endurolytes during the ride, my stomach started feeling just the slightest bit sloshy about half way through. It made me a little nervous. Knowing that I did not want to start the run with a yucky tummy, I quickly decided to shift my plan and forgo “the Sus” in favor of a Hammer Gel I had taped to my tube, just in case. That “Just in Case” gel has now come in handy twice this season!

Avg ~20 mph
Fastest tri bike yet!

I COULD NOT believe that I finished that ride in the time I did. Fastest bike in any triathlon to date.

Into T2 I went and out I came – dropping the Endurolytes I had planned on taking during the run on the way out to the road. I stopped picked them up and waved to my folks as I headed out onto the run course.


A minute later as I reached into my back pocket I realized that I had also dropped my run Hammer Gel coming out of transition.

Hmmmm……What’s our plan going to be here? Adaptation, adaptation…. Can I make it without the gel? Probably. Wish I had it though. Oh! Oh wait, there’s HEED on the course. That has calories….I’ll just drink some of that. Sloshy tummy, sloshy tummy….not a good idea, Rob. Hmmmmm……

At that precise moment I looked down and an unopened gel in my favorite flavor was lying on the road in front of me. I scooped it up, said a quick thank you, and got down to the business of climbing the hill that made up the course’s first 5K.

About ¾ of a mile into the run, a man in his 40s came up beside me. We were running at the same pace and somehow acknowledged that we would help each other get to the top.

We exchanged a few words:

At mile 1, I chuckled, “Longest mile ever!” and he replied “Uh huh.”

At mile 2, I grunted, “Hardest part of the day done,” and he replied “No, getting up at 4:30 was the hardest part.” I smiled.

We ran together to the top of hill, I said “hallelujah,” and he pulled away - for a while.

Then, I was alone.

It’s often been at this point in the race when I become cranky and negative. But this race, oh this race!, was SO DIFFERENT. I was practically glowing with positivity. Butterflies (No, really BUTTERFLIES...I was half expecting unicorns and rainbows next!) were literally all around me as I ran downhill and I imagined that they were there just for me, leading me to the finish line. Inspirational song lyrics floated through my head. I was almost giddy with excitement.

When I would feel pain - and I did feel it throughout my entire left leg and back and shoulders, as predicted, at mile 4 – I simply said, “Oh, there it is” and kept moving. As the last two miles ticked away, I felt a little nausea. I felt the chills. But amid the intensity, my mind found this new, completely joyful place. I was SO HAPPY.

How did this happen?

I honestly don’t know. Maybe endorphins. Maybe, it had something to do with my dedication for this race.

On the back of my race number, I’d written three initials: M. F. H. M and F are two little boys who currently live at Genesis Home. I met them a few weeks ago at the shelter’s annual family picnic when I was the one of the adults playing in the pool with all of the kids.

M is the third of 4 young children in his family. He’s about 3 years old, fully possesses the twinkling eyes of a woodland sprite, and is FULL of life. Although he could not swim, he had absolutely no fear of the water. Even when he would jump too high in the shallow end and his head would bob under water for brief second, he did not cry. He simply came up out of the water, giggled, and said “I want to do it again!”

F is the complete opposite. He is probably 5 or 6 years old and lives at Genesis Home with a woman that I assumed was his grandmother. Sitting on the edge of the pool, afraid to even dangle his feet in, his eyes were hollow and distant. But, by the end of the afternoon, he was a changed kid. M and I successfully coaxed F into the water and taught him to blow bubbles and kick his feet while hanging on to the edge. He was smiling and laughing and full of pride.

I dedicated this race to the two of them because I wanted to remember that just barely under the surface of fear lies immense joy.

H is, of course, my little sister Holly. Right now she’s one of the toughest cookies I know. I dedicated this race to her because I wanted to draw on the tenacity I knew she was probably demonstrating that morning in the special race of her own known as Plebe Summer.

I thought of these three numerous times between miles 4 and 5.

I also thought …no, ‘thinking’ isn’t the right word…Form came into my focus several times as well, and each time I consciously relaxed…my shoulders, my forehead, my hips, my jaw.

With about ½ mile to the finish, I saw my mom up ahead cheering. She excitedly yelled “You’re so close!” as I passed her and gave her the thumbs-up.

I came out of the woods, rounded the lake, grunted loudly, crossed the bridge, gave a high-five to a young spectator, and saw my former hill-climbing partner up ahead. Without contemplation, I surged and passed him moments before crossing the finish line.

Av 9:24 / mi
5 minutes faster than my last Oly 10K!


63/147 women

After crossing the line and taking my usual ‘I think I’m going to puke and I don’t want to do it in the chip taker’s hair’ moment away from the finish corral, I looked at my watch, instinctively raised both hands in the air and said, “YES! Oh, thank you God!” For the first time, I felt as though all of my previous racing intentions came together in one moment: I embraced it. I found the joy. I attacked the bike. I looked for the pain.

My official finish time was 9 minutes faster than my previous Olympic tri time – and if we hadn’t had the extra run between the swim exit and T1, my time would most likely have been closer to a 14 minute PR. Different race, of course, but nonetheless a BIG drop in time for this distance.

I was reminded again that the my body can do amazing things, that training really does lead to results, and that racing these things is SO MUCH FUN. For these reminders, I am very grateful.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thank You Endurance Magazine

If you live in the central NC / SC area and you're like me, at the beginning of each month you anxiously await the new issue of Endurance Magazine. You search the distribution bins throughout your local neighborhood and feel a certain sense of anticipatory glee when you see a new stack. You love the inspirational stories of pros and newbies alike; you're always sure to check out the yoga column; and you appreciate the gear reviews and nutrition hints.

Well, this month, notice hometown gal Shalane Flanagan on the cover of the August issue and send her Olympic well-wishes. BUT THEN, be sure to immediately flip to the back page because the Tri to End Homelessness gals are featured as Endurance Citizens.
Thanks Endurance for helping spread the word!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Best Race Ever!

Just a quick note to say that the "sneaky / no fightin' the pain approach" really does work!

I raced my very, very best this morning and set a 9 minute Olympic tri PR -- even with the extra half-mile (or more?!) that we had to run from the swim exit to T1 due to low water levels.

It was truly an amazing experience. I can't wait to tell you all about it. Full race report soon.
Photo by Steve Dixon, Asheville Citizen-Times

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bid Today to Tri to End Homelessness!

Today through August 10, YOU can help Tri to End Homelessness through eBay!

In January, Tri to End Homelessness was voted the first place winner of Toyota's Engines of Change Power of Sport Contest - thanks to many of your votes!

Through that contest we were lucky enough to win a BRAND NEW 2007 Toyota United Pro Cycling Team Fuji Frameset (size 56 cm). Now, you can turn this prize into a donation for Genesis Home, by bidding on the frameset through eBay (Item # 280251927086). At least 50% of the final selling prize will go directly to support Genesis Home's programs for homeless families.

Let the bidding begin!