We’ve been Skratched! (And that is a very good thing).

circle_S_blackRemember how I mentioned in my last post that over beers one night a few friends and I started some audacious planning? In the nonprofit world this is simply referred to as a BHAG- a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal.Now, I’m all about some BHAGing, especially when I get more than five minutes of free time. Coincidentally, about the time that B2B was over was when I saw a notification from Skratch Labs.They were looking for ambassadors. I remembered all the rides and training when my friends and I would extol the virtues of Skratch labs and the whole food process. I’ve used their Feed Zone Cookbook on numerous occasions and everything I’ve made, either for breakfast, dinner, or a training ride, has been delicious. I even used their nutrition mix during race day and made some portables. Who better to be ambassadors, I thought, then us?

Well guys, this week I learned that we got it. Our very informal club known as Splash and Dash (now Splash, Mash, and Dash- get it? Swim, Bike, Run??) is now an unofficial, official club that is sponsored by Skratch. What does that mean? It means that we get to enjoy Skratch and continue to talk about how awesome they are for the whole next year. Easy and exciting.

For me personally, I hope that our club continues to grow and keep the spirit of inclusiveness going. Triathlon is such a wonderful sport for building friendships while building endurance. We’ve had a great year and I can’t wait to see what next year brings.

And if you’re super curious, I’m now training for the Myrtle Beach half marathon in February. Got to keep those BHAGs at bay 🙂

Change

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Southeastern North Carolina in the fall is just lovely for a runner. After the oppressive heat of the summer, it feels like a joy to be able to run in temperatures in the 60’s or 70’s. It makes me yearn for a tri that I can train through the fall. It’s also time when people start getting serious about their training. With 26 days left, my friends and I talk of long runs, bricks, nutrition, currents, and race day conditions. We go to bed early on the weekends in order to meet up at 7 am for our long runs or bricks (bike followed by run). We get “on the wagon” and focus on eating healthy, eating clean. We see the irony that getting up during the week to go to work is considered sleeping in. I love these people though. They are new friends to me but they are the reason why I get up while it’s still dark. They challenge me, they push me, they laugh with me, they have become my family.

On yesterday’s ride we were dealing with quite the head wind. We pulled/drafted off each other, replicating geese, pulling for five miles then dropping back to rest. It was cold and my ambition was not present. My toes were cold, my nose was running, my core was cold. We stopped to use a gas station restroom and I complained about not being in the moment to which both Julie and Paula began lamenting with me. Standing outside under a very warm kitchen grill vent that smelled of butter and biscuits, we joked about how much the morning sucked and how crazy we were to not be in bed or eating breakfast. Julie said something to the effect of she wasn’t feeling it either, but she was going to push on and those were the words I needed to hear. It changed my outlook and made me realize how fortunate I was. I could be in a hospital tending a sick family member. I could have bad knees. I could want to go shopping instead. Instead, I chose to wake up and ride, and I might as well enjoy it.

This is Paula. She'll keep riding until her garmin says to stop.

This is Paula. She’ll keep riding until her Garmin says to stop.

With fall comes changes in daylight. We are now unable to swim Friday mornings, which saddens me. I love waking up early and meeting my friends in the dawn. To watch the sunrise over the channel is beautiful. Now, I watch it set, and race to get out of the water before it gets dark, the sky a ball of red, surfers in boats coming back from the barrier island beach. Last week I saw a tourist boat on a sunset cruise and wondered what they thought of the string of pink and green swim caps slicing the water. Where they envious? Curious? Did they think us insane?

The race booklet for Beach2Battleship arrived in my mailbox Saturday. It’s getting real, it’s getting closer, but honestly, I’m feeling stronger than last year. I’m not panicking like I was last year, worried about finishing in time. I’m putting in my time, I’m preparing my body and mind. I am thinking “I am strong, I am strong, I am strong”.

Tick Tick Tick Tick

There’s something to be said for ignorance, especially when it comes to triathlon. You pull up the race website, you look at the cutoff times, and you think to yourself “No problem! I can do that. I’ve been biking at x miles for x hours and I can swim x distance in x time and plus, I’ll have a wetsuit on so that will make me faster, plus there will be a current, so I’ll be fine. Oh, and the run? No problem! I can always walk it if I have to. La dee da, this is going to be great, this is going to be just fine. I’ll train when I want to, still have a summer, la dee da”.

And you do. You train during the summer, you go on bike rides occasionally, you get your long(er) runs in, you swim almost every week, you got it.

Then race day comes. And somehow it’s an absolutely beautiful day, with a gorgeous sunrise, not too hot, not too cold. You see a friend of yours who is doing paddleboard support and he tells you that the current is flying(!) and you think “Oh, I got this.” You breeze through the swim, see a girlfriend doing paddleboard support (you stop and say hi(!)), see your friend you trained with throughout the summer (who’s even in your corral-yipee!) getting ready to get on the bike as you make it to the transition, and off you go. You finish the bike course with no problems, no flats, no instances, and you get ready to knock out the run.

Until the dreaded wall hits.

Have you ever read Dr. Seuss’s Oh The Places You’ll GoImage

That’s till mile six. And then, you run into this:

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From what turned into “Wow, I’m feeling great, I can keep up a sub-9 minute mile the whole run, it’s only 13 miles!!” Turns into “Walk through rest stop, run to next mile” turns to “Run 20 steps, walk 10”, to the dreaded “Walk 20 steps, run 10” to even “F**k it, who am I kidding? I just need to show some respect and be able to cross the finish line running”.

That was last year. This is this year.

This Year

This year is a real training plan that is actually followed. It’s long bikes and runs on the weekends. It’s missing beach time with the kiddo. It’s getting up at crack of ass to go swim. It’s not sleeping in. It’s making wonderful new friends and looking at their finish times from last year and wanting to be in that same time bracket. It’s wanting to do better, to move faster, to work harder. It’s swim clinics. It’s work. It’s worrying about the weather, and looking at the tide charts, and wondering how much push we’ll really have on race day.

But maybe, with all that work, it’s like climbing a ladder. Maybe all those rungs will bring me to the top. Maybe I’ll be able to finish faster than last year. I know that I’ve met some amazing people this year and have even made some new friends. There are people that I look forward to seeing each week and if I’m going to miss it (son’s birthday trip and party next two weekends- TWO??? what about my training????) I try to see them during the week.

However, there’s a nagging feeling in the back of my mind, like an ominous cloud, like that Dr. Seuss book when the main character gets into the darkness.

What if:

1- It’s raining

2- It’s cold

3- I have to pee

4- I don’t drink/eat enough

5- I get a flat

6- I hit a wild turkey (only mention this cause we saw a few last weekend)

7- I’m sick.

8- The tide is going the wrong way

9- There’s a 40 mph head wind. BOTH WAYS.

10- Add any irrational concern to the list here

You see where I’m going with this.

Trust. Trust in the mind, trust in the body. Trust in the training. Will the world end if I can’t make two weeks of bike rides? No. Will my training suffer. Hopefully not. I’ll add some weekday rides. Will I miss my friends? Yes. Will I have a very happy eight year old who asked me last night if i was going to do a long ride on his birthday? Yes.

Tick tick tick tick. Time to throw out the clock. And dig up my copy of Oh, The Places You’ll Go again.

It’s Where We Live

Saturday morning I was fortunate enough to get a mini-tri in with some friends. Technically it wasn’t really a triathlon, but we did cover all three sports.

Living on the East Coast I’m very lucky to have a wonderful climate and opportunities to exercise outside pretty much all year. The city that I live in has experienced a population boom although the roads have not matched the growth, we are fortunate to have some semblance of a bike trail system. It is by no means comprehensive (Denver) or even enough, but I’m lucky enough to be able to leave my house and get to the beach by bike.

Knowing I had to had to get a 20 mile bike done this weekend I thought it might be fun to ride to the beach, get in a postponed swim, and ride back. The swim was postponed due to all the rain we’ve been having this week. Swimming in e. coli just doesn’t sound appetizing to me or my friends, so we postponed our regularly scheduled Friday swim for Saturday.

The water we swim in is in a channel that flows by the ocean. It’s a heavily developed area with plenty of roads and houses. It’s clean water for the most part, but when it rains you don’t want to risk getting sick. Too many dogs, yards, etc. I have a friend who I swim with who conducts water quality testing as part of his job so if he gives the heads up then we go.

Anyhoo, we met at T’s house and road to the beach, dropped our shoes at the end, and rode our bikes to the put in. The wind was blowing hard from the south and you could see the current moving. It was going to be a great swim. Twenty (!) minutes later we were done and headed back to our bikes. I was worried about the traffic, but in all I saw two boats.

It was such a beautiful morning. The sun was shining, and as I went to breathe I could see golden water drops from the sun’s reflection. It was so pretty I wanted to keep going, which is a rarity.

It was mornings like this that make me feel so grateful for having the time, the opportunity, and the friends to enjoy this beautiful place I’m fortunate to call home.