Sunday, December 19, 2010

Year in Race T-Shirts

With today's 5K, the 2010 race season is officially over. Looking back over the past year, there have been some pretty great races, but of course a race shouldn't be judged on course, organization, weather and personal performance alone, no, a race should be judged by its t-shirt.

What makes a good t-shirt? First and foremost, size. It doesn't matter what the t looks like, if it's too big, too long or just funny looking, I'm not going to wear it. Extra points for races that offer extra smalls or women's sized shirts.

Second, design. The reality is I'm only going to wear this shirt to train in or on weekends, so it doesn't need to be a work of art, but something that isn't completely ridiculous (see below) is needed.

Finally, material. Generally, I prefer the the synthetic ts cause I prefer to train in them, but I don't mind a nice cotton shirt (especially for longer races where I feel I've earned bragging rights).

Here's this year's favorite shirt:
There are so many good things happening here: women's fit, extra small, synthetic, long-sleeved, simple design. Well done, BAA.

The most improved from last year (which is a little unfair, since I only did a few races last year) is timberman.

It's a little hard to tell from the picts, but despite being a small, I had to cut off both the sleeves and the tail of the 2009 shirt to make it approximately fit. In 2010, timberman was bought by mdot, and they left their mark on the shirts. Not only did they offer women's shirts, they also offered extra smalls. Unfortunately, the combination of those two changes led to a shirt that actually fit my friend's three year old better than my friend, but points for improvement, and I'll know next year to get a small or maybe even medium.

Finally, the worst shirt of the year:
Why is santa parachuting in under a giant turd? Why is Somerville pictured as an industrial park? What's up with the giant popcorn, and the random words on them, and why is one of them unmarked?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

More cooking!

So it's been a few weeks, and the cooking continues. I've learned a few things along the way:

  1. Tarragon tastes like licorice. Who knew?
  2. Topping stew with sour cream is always a good idea.
  3. You can still dry out salmon by poaching it.
  4. Scallops are really hard to make.
So we've made baked pork chops, hungarian beef stew, poached salmon, and seared-ish scallops. All were pretty good. But really, why are scallops so hard to make? I use plenty of very hot oil, but they stick to the pan, and they don't really sear. And they make a mess. And they burned my finger.

But, damn them, they're so tasty.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New adventures in cooking

Maybe it's because it's getting cold outside and curling up on the couch with a hot bowl of soup that's been stewing for hours sounds so inviting, or maybe just because I've gotten bored with our staple meals, I've decided it was time to dust off the old cookbooks (aka, epicurious) and get cooking.

A few notes:

  • So far I've made 3 trips to whole foods, and 4 meals. Hopefully, I'll get more efficient with my shopping as I go.
  • With each meal, I'm learning more about the foods that Paul like and dislikes (Likes: snow peas! Dislikes: Cumin, Ginger, Sesame Oil :-( )
  • I broke down and bought the online subscription to America's Test Kitchen. I used to have a paper subscription to Cooks' Illustrated, which I loved, but honestly, it just wasn't all that convenient when you wanted, say, a pork chop recipe ("Was that in May or March of 2007?"). The online subscription is easily searchable and cheaper than the original, but lacks the same beautiful illustrations. Already, I've used it to suss out curry powder, french onion soup and kitchen timers.
[not my picture]

Meal 1: Beef, Shiitake and Snow Pea Stirfry
I'd give this one a 4 out of 5. Paul felt like there was something sorta missing. I marinated the beef for a few hours in the hoisin and chili (but I followed the advice of some of the reviewers and replaced some hoisin with soy - I will not do this next time and hopefully that will address Paul's concern). This was really easy. I'll definitely make it again.

[my pictures - taken with iphone :(]

Meal 2: Hawaiian Pork with Stirfried Cabbage
This one was probably a 3 out of 5. The pork was way too salty (and this coming from a self-proclaimed savory person) and the cabbage was bland. The plus side was that braising the pork made it delicious and tender even for really lean cuts. I think I'll make this again, but with low-sodium broth and maybe adding dark rum or pineapple to add a little deeper flavor.

Meal 3: French Onion Soup
For this one, I went to ATK. I feel like for classics like this, I trust that they have scoured all the recipes I'd find on epicurious, tested them all and come up with this, the perfect French Onion Soup. And honestly, yes, this was definitely the best French Onion Soup I've ever had (and I've been to France!). And it was relatively easy. They recommend caramelizing the onions in the oven, which, if time-consuming, is low maintenance. And I bought the gruyere they recommended too. Really, this soup was awesome. 5 out of 5!

Meal 4: Curried Lamb and Lentil Stew
You'd think after that last review, I would never go back to epicurious, but somehow, I'd already picked this one out, and I did go to ATK to determine what curry powder to get (Penzey's, which I made a special trip for). Alas, this recipe failed on many levels. It was one note (even a good one note of the Penzey's curry powder didn't make up for it), the cook times were completely wrong - it needed a minimum of 2 hours to make the lamb and lentils tender, the balance between lamb and lentils was off. I tried to salvage by adding some maple syrup to add some sweetness, which helped, but this just wasn't the meaty stew I was hoping for. 1 out of 5.

Tonight, we're trying out Tuna Tacos ala East Coast Grill, one of our favorite local eateries. I'm hopeful that this will be delicious, but I'll let you know tomorrow.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Noosa Race Report: Back to Oz

I went back to Australia for the first time 2 weeks ago. I had gotten an entry into the Noosa triathlon, so I planned a holiday around it. I went to Canberra, the Gold Coast, Brisbane and finally Noosa. It was fantastic to see old friends everywhere I went. It took several days to get acclimated to driving on the left, referring to my "mum" and thinking in metric, but it all came back pretty quick.

I did a terrible job taking pictures on this trip, but a great job catching up with people and making new memories. Lauren and I went to Question Time in Australian Parliament which was quite the experience, we hiked Mt. Ainslee with Kimberley and Hamish, I met Joslyn's new man Matt and shared a coffee with her overlooking the Brisbane River from the Powerhouse, I had lunch at Jamie's new cafe, had morning tea (and tim tams) with the ITIG guys, went shopping with Julie, shared homecooked meals with Julie & Jonathon, celebrated Jawad's birthday and finally headed up the coast to race.

[seriously, I can't figure out how to get this picture to rotate]

I went up with Vanessa Friday afternoon and met her elite brother and his elite girlfriend (who won the women's race after coming second at Kona 3 weeks earlier) and her parents. There were over 3300 individual competitors at the race. We registered at the massive bays:

And checked out the expo. Asics makes their own Noosa tri running shoe:

And we checked out the gorgeous sunset:

The race itself was not something I've been training for. Good races at the end of the season in the US had made me confident that I could have a good race at Noosa, especially relative to my last showing at Noosa in 2008. 2:48 was the time to beat.

Not sure exactly what happened on the swim. I got smashed in the left eye early on, and I couldn't open it for the rest of the swim cause my goggle was on so tight, so maybe I wasn't swimming straight with only one eye, but I came out of the water in 32 minutes and thought "sweet, oh, wait, this wasn't a half ironman distance. Suck." I expected at most a 28 minutes swim. Oh well. 3 minutes slower than 2 years ago.

On to the bike. The bike felt good, despite not being on my own bike. Heading out to the turn around, I was flying with the tailwind. I felt strong going up the hill, and cranked coming back home. My knee was a little cranky at about the 30K mark cause the seat wasn't high enough, but otherwise, everything felt good. 1:22 in the end. But I was watching my time and still shooting for sub 1:48, that meant I needed to do the run in 54 minutes, which seemed very doable.

Finally, the run. Two years ago, I had a terrible run. This year, I felt good. Ran it in 52. Sweet. End time was 1:47, so one minute better than 2 years ago, on no training and a bit of jetlag.

And on to the 4th leg. I went to the official Noosa after party at the surf club for the first time. It was fantastic. Every one was into it.

It was great having a chance to come back and see every one and even better to get to race in the 3rd largest race in the world. I'm thinking I might make a tradition out of it, and try to go back for Mooloolaba 2012. That will be another 18 months. Though having an extra week down there would definitely be in order.

Monday, October 18, 2010

BAA Half Race Report: it's better with friends

Since the Duxbury race, I've definitely been in my off season. Sure I did a half marathon last weekend, and I've got an olympic distance race in Australia next weekend, but I've been treating it like the off season. Which means I've cut back to about 3 - 6 hours of exercise per week, and I've upped my ice cream intake significantly.

I showed up to the BAA Half Marathon last weekend with relatively low expectations. The Pumpkinman run gave me some confidence that I could do a pretty good time in this race, but I haven't done a half mara on its own since this race last year, so I was a little anxious, but not nervous going in.

Rachel and I did some pre-race warm ups, then headed to the line for the porta potties. This was my one complaint about the race. They did not have enough bathrooms. We waited for about 15 minutes in a line and still weren't even close. Rachel gave up and headed for the bushes, and I should have followed suit, but I thought, eh, I'll be fine.

About 2 miles in, I hear from behind me "Hey, I thought I recognized that ponytail." It's Nathaniel, Paul's roommate from Notre Dame. Nathaniel is faster than me. He runs marathons, but he had told me he was planning on running 8:30s, but now, apparently, he's feeling good. So we start running together and we're holding 7:55 - 8. In the back of my mind I'm thinking, I've never broken 50 minutes for a 10K before, if we keep this pace up... And there's the 10K mark, we've just run it in 49:14. Killer! But I hope that doesn't mean that I'll blow up for the full distance.

Now I start thinking about a sub-1:50. That would be pretty spectacular given that my fastest time was a 1:53:10. The second half of the course is a lot more uphill though, so I try not to get ahead of myself. Still we're pulling in low 8s: 8:04, 7:59, 8:02. We hit the 10 mile mark with a sub-1:20 time. Nathaniel turns to me and says, "if you've got 10 min miles left in you, you're gonna break 1:50!"

At mile 11, Nathaniel decides he's gonna see how much he's got left. I thank him for the pacing, and immediately drop back to an 8:33 mile. Hmm, that's ok, I've got buffer, it's just so much harder to push the pace when you're not trying to keep up with some one. Mile 12, only 1.1 to go. Geez, I've got to pee. But, it's only 1 more mile, you can hold it. 20 more paces, Ack! I can't hold it! I run behind a tree for a quick pit stop. So that added 30 seconds to my time.

Back to the race, and I'm ready for this thing to be over. We run around the grand stands and finally into the stadium where we finish off with half a lap. 1:46:26. Sweet!

I grab water, food, and t-shirt and look around for Nathaniel to no avail. I head back in to watch Jeff and Rachel finish their races. Rachel all smiles with an 8 minute PR!

Two big takeaways from this race:
1. I run better with friends, and I need to learn how to push myself like that on my own.

2. Make sure you pee right before the start of the race.

Stay tuned, next post will be from oz!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

From worst to first

I read a fair few triathlon blogs. They're right over there to the right. There are two styles of these blogs: people who are triathletes and people who do triathlons. Of course those are not the same thing. It takes a more than just your first triathlon to feel like you really belong in the sport.

Recently I noticed that I've crossed the divide. I'm no longer trying to become a triathlete, I am one. I'm no longer just "participating" in races, I'm racing. I came across this photo from my first race in Australia a few weeks ago.

That was a tough race. I didn't come DFL there (turns out I beat one kid and one grandma), but I did at others.

Contrast that to this weekend's Duxbury sprint.

It was my last race of the Boston season and a big team race with 14 of us racing for BPC. It's a sprint and given that it was only 6 days after the half ironman, I didn't have high expectations for it. Go out, have fun, then a big team end of season bbq as a reward. I haven't even done much since the half, I took Monday and Tuesday off from training, easy, drill-focused swim on Wednesday, strength on Thursday and rest day Friday. Didn't do a race plan. Riding over to the course the legs didn't feel like they had much in them, so I decide that those 5 miles to the course are actually enough of a warm up, even if they were 2 hours before the race.

We register and they don't mark our calves with our ages, which means out on the course, I can't tell whom I'm really racing. My coach remarks, that just means I have to be faster than everyone.

The swim has got to be the best spectator swim anywhere. We started on the main shore, and swam, along a bridge to the far shore. Spectators could just follow along, walking up the bridge. About 150 yards from shore, you could hear people cheering, it was great. Pushed it out to the shore. I saw a few pink caps ahead of me, but still felt like a solid swim.

Onto the bike, and of course the first thing you do is ride across that same bridge. It's a wooden bridge and about half a mile long, so not an ideal surface for putting on one's bike shoes. The ride was out and back. Not too far in, I get passed by a girl, I try to keep her in my sights. Three miles in, I see one of our coaches, Vic, on his way back in, looking fast. It's fantastic to see my teammates going so well. Just about to the turn around, I see another teammate Jeff, heading back. I wonder if I can catch him. At the turn around, I get passed by another girl, who is really fast. On the way back, I catch back up to the first girl, and she and I and 3 other cyclists, ride back together. Average speed 20 mph, on the nose.

The run is also out across the bridge, which seems to take forever this time around. I focus on picking people off, this includes my teammate Jeff, and pretty soon, I'm heading back toward the bridge. I get passed by one more girl on the run who's pace I just can't match. Strong sprint home, and it's all done.

My coach asks how it went, and I tell her it was ok, I felt pretty good, but that I got passed both on the bike and on the run, but can't know if they were in my age group or not. We head over and check out the boards for results. Nothing, I'm not on there. Oh, wait, they're posting updated results. There's Lauren, there's Christina, there's... me. Oh. My. God. It says I came first. Wait, go look at that again, am I reading that right? I get Patty to look at it with me. Yes, that's right 1st place in the 30-34 year old age group! Woo hoo! Hugs and high fives all around. Plus we've got more podiums on the team, Vic took first, Robyn took first, Christina took second and Jeff took second. Seriously solid showing. We all hang around for the award ceremony, which is painfully disorganized. Christina and Jeff both receive hideous water bottles instead of medals.

First time on the podium and first place out of 26! Looking at the official results, I had the 4th fastest swim, but passed 2 girls in transition. My bike was the second fastest in the age group, but because of the solid swim and transition, I was already in first coming in off the bike. 5th fastest run, but again, I'd put enough of a gap in, that I maintain my first place position. Oh, and, because this race is so late in the season, it qualifies me for age group national champs next year in Vermont. That was my goal for next season, so I'm gonna have to start thinking about not just going, but having a good showing there.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pumpkinman Race Report: All that hard work

Don't know how else to say this. I rocked this race. Not perfect, there's always room for improvement, but still this race far exceeded expectations!

First check out the venue. How gorgeous is that?

[special thanks to Carrie for the picts and to all the BTTers for all the support on the course]

I wasn't much worried about the swim. It was a little seaweedy at first, but you know, extra fiber never hurt. I've been swimming well and enjoying it, so I got in near the front and didn't get too fussed about going fast. Turned out it was a pretty good swim. Second fastest in my age group (of 23), and average of 1:31 per 100. My goal for the season was to swim 1:40s for an olympic distance swim. Crushed it.

This race was unique cause it had a massive hill climb out of the swim to transition. Looks like I liked it:
Then to the bike. This ride was all about conserving. I set a goal of averaging 18 mph. It was tough, there were times, when girls in my age group passed me that I wanted to go faster. I wanted to stay with them. But I stuck to my plan. Let them go and stayed focused on my own race.

I had borrowed my friend Noah's aero bar bottle to stay hydrated. Major advantage of this bottle is that it's refillable while you're riding. On the first loop every time I hit a bump the bottle would splash me. At just about any other race this would have been great. But when it's 60 degrees out, you just want to stay dry. After the first loop, I had drunk the full bottle and I had to pee. Good sign. I found a stretch of road with woods and hopped off the bike for a pit stop. I just couldn't bring myself to pee on my bike. I get to the water stop, and this time when I go to fill the bottle, I knock the valve right into the bottle. I guess I hadn't quite gotten it in right when I filled it that morning, so I stop again and fix out. The last 10 miles, I ease up the pressure and up the cadence. I feel good, if a little cold coming in off the bike, average 18.1mph.

And then I miss my rack... Too many friends cheering me on from the relay section. Oops.

To the run. I focus on one foot in front of the next, I focus on tempo. I start thinking about my friend Simone, doing the Ironman in Australia. Some one referred to her as "metronome" she just doesn't stop. I start singing to myself "Simone, the metronome" and it works pretty well. First two miles at an 8:45 pace. Great. The course is an out and back and out and back route. It was great, I kept seeing friends, high fiving all along the way. At about mile 10, I realized that my secret goal of hitting 5:45 was not just achievable, it was crushable.

Pure race bliss!

In the end, I crossed the finish line 5 hours and 40 minutes after the start. I held solid sub-9 minute miles on the run the whole way. 7th place in my age group.

I've been planning on spending next year focused on getting faster at the shorter distances and moving on from the halves, but with a solid half under my belt, I might just be tempted to do another.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Pumpkinman Race Plan: Third time's the charm

One week from my 3rd half ironman, and I have to say, I'm not all that excited. My last two races at Timberman and Cranberry were just fantastic. I loved getting back into shorter distances and going fast. Now contemplating the 6 hour event I'm entered into next week, it's hard to get pumped about it. In my first half, I hit the wall on the run and had to drag myself through the finish. At the Patriot this year, I got wicked dehydrated and struggled through most of the run. So now on my third and final half ironman for the season, I'd really like to just make it to the finish with a smile on my face.

The Pumpkinman is a unique race. It's a two loop swim, in a small pond, with a run back onto the beach between loops. Then there's there king of the mountain challenge with 250m sprint uphill to the transition. The bike is a lollipop course, with two loops around the lolli. Finally the run is 2 lap out and back course.

I'm not going to set an overall time goal. Instead, my plan is to swim strong and hold 18mph on the bike (actually 18, not at least 18) for the first 45 miles. The last 10 miles, I'm gonna take it down a bit, maybe 17.5. Goal being to save something in the legs for the run. I think I've got the hydration worked out (hello, camelback) and I tested my nutrition out today on the actual ride course. So here goes nothing. Check back next week for the smiling finish line photo.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cranberry Race Report: Knocking on the door

[me, Head Coach Ali, Assistant Coach Christina pre swim]

I did it. I finally broke my PR of 2:43:49. My new PR is now 2:43:05. So 44 seconds improvement, which sounds sorta piddly after 18 months of training. Here's the thing: I went all out on this race. I pushed the swim, I owned the bike and I struggled through the run. I left absolutely nothing left in the tank, so I will take those 44 seconds with pride. (I will also remember that this course is technically 1.2 miles longer on the bike than my previous PR).

The swim was .8 miles around a cute little pond. The start was messy. I got out to start in the front, and still got pretty thoroughly pounded out to the first buoy. Then things eased a bit. Every 12 strokes I'd look to my right and I'd see another girl in my wave and I'd think, "ok, push it on this one and drop her" 12 strokes later, I'd look right again and see her, no further behind me, but importantly no further ahead. This girl paced with me the entire swim. And it was great to have some one right there. I definitely pushed harder because of it.

[yay 7th]

I came out of the water in 7th place in my age group, right behind the girl who paced with me and one other. I got out of transition ahead of those 2, so I was 5th starting out on the bike. As I've said, I rocked this bike. Just focused on picking people off and drinking plenty of fluids. I even held my coach off until the last few miles. I passed two girls in my age group, putting me in 3rd until the very end when I got passed just before the chute. Maybe it was getting passed at the end, but somehow, I just wasn't thinking when I was dismounting. I'm not the most graceful at getting off my bike: generally, I take my feet out of shoes while riding, then put weight on the right shoe, come to a stop, put my left on the ground, and swing the right leg over. Somehow this time around, I attempted a different dismount. I tried putting my weight on the left, and swinging the right leg over before coming to a stop. I didn't fall, but I did lose my left shoe in the process.
[just about to attempt an entirely new dismount]

I passed the girl who passed me at the end of the bike at the beginning of the run. Then it was just trying to hang on. It was a long, hot slog, not all that different from the half ironman run. I got passed about halfway through by another girl in my age group, just pushing me out of the top 3. I grimaced my way through the last 3 miles, but never got passed again.

[out on the run]

Finally, I've gotta give a shout out to the awesome spectators who get up when it's dark out just to come out and cheer. It was great to see other BPC and BTT athletes out, snapping pictures and cheering us on despite the pain, and of course, Paul and his parents coming out for it.

[post race cool down]

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cranberry plan: one more time, with feeling

Feels like I just wrote up my last race plan, and here I am writing another. Guess that's the way it goes with back to back races. Cranberry is this Sunday, and it's an olympic distance. It's my last oly of the season, and I have to admit, I'm a little trepidatious for several reasons.

  1. Last week's race was awesome, so seems like it will take a lot to rival it.
  2. My last olympic at Mass State wasn't as awesome as I thought it would be, so I don't want to get my hopes up again.
  3. Work's just crazy this week.
  4. Paul's parents are coming to town, so we've been busy prepping.
  5. It rained Monday to Wednesday of this week.
  6. Because of 3, 4, and 5, today was my first training since Saturday's race. This is unheard of for me. I just lost the plot the week. Planning on a quick spin tomorrow morning, and that's probably it in terms of prep.
As a result, I've started obsessing about little details (like how to wear my hair - my hallmark braids aren't working with this new hair cut, so I was soliciting suggestions from my teammates this morning. Solution: two piggie tails on the top of my head, one low pony. Gonna test it out on the ride tomorrow) that my coach points out, won't make me any faster.

In my heart, I want to podium, I want to break my PR, but I worry that using those goals, I set myself up for disappointment again. I don't know how many people will be in my age group (though if I assume 5%, then it should be close to 50). I can't control how hot it's going to be (expected 88 degrees). How can I set these things as my goals when they feel so out of my control?

So here's my plan:
  • 5:00am wake up, oatmeal
  • 5:30am start driving down there (drink a bottle of heed)
  • 6:30am arrive, bodymark, rack
  • 7:05-7:25 warm up run
  • 7:30 replace running shoes in transition
  • 7:45 - 8 warm up swim, gu
  • 8:10 start swimming! Start watch!
In the swim, I want to start near the front of the pack, push to the first buoy, then try to settle into a nice, but hard rhythm. Hopefully a wetsuit will work here, if it's not too warm.

Fast transition, tri shoes, already clipped in, grab helmet and sunnies.

Last week, I got passed on the bike by 5 people (and one whom I passed back and kept behind me). I know my swim is my strongest leg, so in all likelihood, I'm gonna get passed on the bike. I'm embracing this. My goal for the bike is to hang with these tough girls who pass me and use them to push me to go faster. "Keep them in your sights" is my motto. Gu once settled in, One bottle of Heed - drink the whole thing!

Second transition: runners, helmet off, visor on, race belt.

The run is tough too. Those 8 minute miles are elusive, but I will continue to hunt them down. I will use my watch to mark each mile. Ideally, I'd love to pass some of those fast bikers on the run, but that's out of my control. So I'm focusing on 8 minute miles, relaxing my shoulders and enjoying my run.

Finally, a few more piccies from last weekend:

Brenda (ready for her first tri), Andrea and me

into the chute

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Timberman race report: Paying dividends

I came to the Timberman race to have fun, and that I definitely did. But it's also the first sprint that I've done since last year's timberman, so a great chance to see how I've progressed in my training.

I wore my wetsuit on the swim, cause I wanted to practice racing with it. I plan to wear it in both the cranberry this weekend and Pumpkinman in 3 weeks. Also, I knew this race would have wetsuit strippers, and I've never had my wetsuit stripped before. I took a place near the front of the pack. My entire wave was my age group, 82 athletes in all. I started out on some one's toes, but quickly passed her. The water was shallow. Seriously shallow:

Check out all those people walking. After the first 2 buoys, I couldn't see any other red caps ahead of me. I started realizing I could be in first place. Rounding the last buoy, another woman caught me. And she wasn't even wearing a wetsuit. I pushed hard, but I couldn't keep with her. Still I figured that had me in 2nd place. Here I am watching her cross the timing pad ahead of me.
Another woman in my age group (let's call her "the beast") passes me as I enter the wetsuit stripping area. The way this works, is you lay down on your back, and volunteers grab the suit at your waist and fling it off you. Here are some people getting stripped.

My volunteers grabbed my suit and pulled, but the suit stayed on, and instead I dragged along the ground. Luckily there was another volunteer to hold onto my hands, and on the second try, off came the wetsuit.

I passed the girl who passed me on the swim in transition. And the beast came out just ahead of me. She was clearly an athlete, clearly very fit and clearly very muscular. None of this bodes well for my bike. But on the first hill, I overtook her. Sweet. I held her off for about a mile before she overtook me again. But, I kept her in my sights. I then got passed by two BTT girls and a girl in a red tri suit. That meant I was in 5th behind the beast. Going down a big hill (and not using my brakes), I got passed by two other girls in my age group. I was not having that. I passed them both back on the next uphill, and I held them off for the next down hill. I ended up playing leapfrog with one of them for the rest of the course. We even caught up with the beast.

[heading out on the run, post beast, that's some serious neck tension]

I came out of transition just behind the two of them. I passed the beast on the run in the chute and passed the other girl in the first 100 paces after that. Sweet. Now I was in 4th. Just as I was thinking maybe I had a shot at the podium, another thought crossed my mind. What about the girls who are awesome runners? What if there are some of those behind me? Just then, one of them passes me. Ugh, ok. First mile 7:52. Not bad. I hit the turn around and starting making my way home. Second mile 6:19, ok that one I just don't believe, it must have been short. On the way home, I get passed by the girl who passed me on the swim. And then I'm turning to go back into the chute. There are a ton of BTTers there and I get lots of cheers, which apparently, I like:

I finished up in 1:21. That's 9 minutes faster than last year. 9 minutes! 2 on the swim, 4 on the bike and 3 on the run. EFF YEAH!

Also, I did keep good track of all the athletes that passed me and that I passed. When I crossed the finish line, I thought I was in 6th. Turns out that there was one lightning fast woman in my division, in fact, I think she won the whole thing. She was so fast that I never saw her. That put me 3rd on the swim, 10th on the bike and 12th on the run and 7th overall. Out of 82!

All of this has me super excited for next season. With this race, I could qualify for Nationals this year. I don't want to go this year, it's not part of my plan. I want to get faster on the bike and the run. It sucks having the swim be your best leg and then getting passed by people for the rest of the race. I want to qualify next year with a podium under my belt and be able to have a decent showing in Vermont at Nationals.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Timberman Sprint Race Plan

The race is Saturday morning at 7am. I'm doing this one with my old friend and original tri buddy Andrea. (She and I went to Bangkok a few years ago).

The plan for this race is simple:

  • Have fun!
  • Go hard!
I think I can do that.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cycling community

Last weekend we went on a surprise camping trip to Vermont. I had planned a long ride for Saturday. We were right off the main highway, so I could have taken that out and back, but the cars go rather fast, and there's not that much shoulder. I used my phone to map out a route, and create a cue sheet of smaller country roads. With phone in pocket, off, I went.

About 2 miles into the ride, I see another cyclist pull out ahead of me. I catch up to him and ask him what road we're on (Vermonters aren't all that keen on street signs), turns out I missed my turn, but I explain, I was just out to do a 25 or so mile ride, and he invited me to tag along with him. I love that. Show up in a random place, meet up with a like-minded (and like-speed) cyclist and hang out for a few hours. What a great community of riders. Of course the flip side to this, is that I just enthusiastically followed a complete stranger into the back country of Vermont, but let's keep thinking positive.

I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about the animosity between motorists and cyclists (and pedestrians too, but that's a different matter). I've read a couple of different articles on it. Blaming the cars for putting cyclists in danger, blaming the cyclists for not following the rules, blaming the rules for being unrealistic, blaming roads in Boston for being designed by cows, not for cars or bikes. I've been trying to figure out where I come out with all these.

Here's what I think. I hate riding on the bike path. It sounds silly, right? It's the bike path, isn't that the best place to ride? No, it's not. The bike path is not just for bikes. It's for pedestrians, strollers, kids on trikes, dogs, skateboarders, and the most odious of non-cyclist roller bladers. I hate riding on the bike path because there are no rules. Yes, generally we keep to the right, but the whole thing is only a few 2.5 yards wide, things are bound to get messy. Particularly on sunny weekends. I hate riding on it, because I can't anticipate what all these people will do. Will they stop, move to the left, listen for me coming up behind them? All in all, constantly being on defense just makes for a stressful (and slower) ride.

What I like about the road, is that I know what to expect. Sure, a car could not see me, or could run a light, or make a turn without signaling, but generally, they are well-behaved and orderly. I still have to ride defensively, but I can be reasonably sure that I can anticipate what they'll do.

If I'm gonna take advantage of the orderliness that comes with riding on the road, I have to uphold it myself. That means following the same rules as the cars.* But in exchange, as drivers, we've gotta accept that bikes are gonna be on the road and that that's the best place for them. Give bikes room when we pass, use our blinkers and just follow the rules (that's right, stopping in the middle of a roundabout to let a biker on, is actually not helpful, now you're doing something unexpected and that causes accidents). At the end of the day, I'm both a driver and a cyclist, I try to show respect for both groups.

* Within reason. This means when rolling (yes, rolling, not throttling) toward a stop sign, if there's no one approaching, then roll through it (note: cars do this too). This means it's ok to ride two abreast when you're not in traffic, but you MUST go single file as soon as a car approaches (cars, a nice little toot on the horn [not laying on it] is appropriate if a bike doesn't go single right away). This does not excuse track stands at lights, weaving between cars or going the wrong way on a one way street. And don't get me started on helmets.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

They can't all be good rides

First, Saturday, I took on another Brick of Doom. That's right: 2.5 mi run, 30 mi bike, 2.5 mi run, 30 mi bike, 2 mi run. Phew. 4.5 hours later, it was done. Special thanks to Jeff from BPC for taking this on after 6 weeks off the bike.

Then on Sunday, Paul and I joined a few other triathletes for our first ride together since the Prouty. Not our most successful ride:

  1. We couldn't find the key to one of the bike racks to lock the bike on.
  2. We couldn't find the key to unlock Paul's bike from the bike rack.
  3. The local bike shop wasn't open to try to get a spare key from.
  4. Paul took his first (and second) tumble while being clipped in (had to happen some time).
  5. Paul's back wheel was not true and was rubbing on his brake.
  6. Paul's waterbottle cage was loose and rattling.
  7. Our 28 mile loop was actually 34. And I missed a turn and took us an additional half mile.
  8. Paul was out of water and ready to be done at 25 miles.
But we made it. The next ride can only get better from here, right?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mass State Race Report: Managing expectations

It wasn't quite what I had hoped for. I finished in 2:44. A minute slower than my PR. But, I did finish 5th in my age group (out of 12), and I did have the 2nd fastest swim in my age group. And I did go hard. Here are my highlights:

  1. If I make my oatmeal a little on the soupy side, I can just drink it if I forget a spoon.
  2. I bought new sunscreen for the race. I opted to go with Mission cause it's made by "athletes and scientists." But apparently not industrial designers. I couldn't get the bloody thing to spray, the cap just wouldn't lever enough to depress the internal plunger. Luckily, I discovered this on Saturday, and Paul helped me pry off the outer cap. Other than the can, the sunscreen worked well. I'm a fan of spray, because if you do it in light coats it doesn't smear your race number, obviously a must for the discerning triathlete.
  3. I still find it quaint that races in the US insist on singing the National Anthem before every race. I don't think I ever heard Advance Australia Fair at a single race, but it's a nice touch.
  4. I gotta remember to hit my start button on my watch.
  5. On the first lap of the bike, it became clear that my goal of averaging 19.5 was just not going to happen: there was a head wind on the flat, and the mile long hill killed my momentum in the first few meters. After 12 miles I had a 17.5 average. I reset my expectations, and decided to shoot for a 18 average. Just as I turned into the park to head to transition, I hit 18. Woohoo.
  6. Putting my gu for the run in my bike bento box was not a good plan, I forgot to move it to my pocket.
  7. Sub-one-minute transitions!
  8. My teammate Christina commented on how salty I was after the race. That's right, I was covered in salt crystals.
  9. I need to re-evaluate my goal setting practice. I've never swum 1500 in 25 minutes in open water, I've never run a 50 minute 10K on its own. Why should I think that I could do both of those things for the first time in this race?
  10. I've got an awesome team.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mass State Race Plan

This Sunday is the Mass State Triathlon ( I'm doing the olympic distance race. (Check out the video of the bike on their site).

I haven't really been too focused on training since the Patriot. Still training, but nothing exceptional. Some weeks even taking 2 rest days! Low key rides, nothing longer than 50 miles, nothing faster than 17. Long open water swims with friends. Overall just enjoying the training and not going crazy. This could mean that I'm super well rested for this race, or it could mean that I'll just be slow. Guess we'll find out in a few days.

My goal for this race is to go hard. It's been almost a year since my last olympic distance (since Mooseman didn't really count). Patriot was about pushing, but still reserving something in the tank. This time, I want to go all out and see what I've got.

My 2:43 olympic PR was from Mooloolaba last year, so it's been a while since it's been truly tested. I went into training last fall with a goal of having a 25 minute swim for 1500m, which translates to 1:40s per 100, by the end of this season. Seems like this race is a good chance to test out how close I am to that goal.

On the ride, I'm not entirely sure. It's a mostly flat ride, but has 1 hill (done twice) that's about a mile long and at points it's 4%. I held 18.8 for the first 27 miles of the Patriot, so seems like 19 should be doable. 19.5 is the stretch goal. It would make the ride exactly 1:15.

Finally, for the run, I've always wanted a 50 minute run. That's 8 minute miles. My run at Mooseman was 51:21. I don't really have much of a reason to think that I can go faster than that, but it can't hurt to try, right? Or it will hurt, but it will be temporary.

25+1:15+50 = 2:30 without transitions. So with transitions 2:35? Shaving 8 minutes off my PR seems ambitious. So how about a hierarchy of goals:

1. Go hard!
2. 2:40 overall time.
3. Meeting one or more individual discipline goals
4. 2:35

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Doing what we came for

Yesterday was the Prouty Charity Ride up in New Hampshire. It was Paul's first charity ride. It was also his first ride of the season. In fact, it was his first ride over 10 miles (35!). And it was my second race in New Hampshire in the pouring rain. (Does not bode well for Timberman)

Paul is not a cyclist. Despite his dedication to the Tour de France coverage, he's more of a team sport guy. The non-binary nature of the sport (no single winner/loser) doesn't appeal. On the contrary, that's actually the thing that has drawn me into triathlon. Each race is determined by me: there's no team to support me; no one to let down. If I go a little faster than last time, then that's a victory. If I ride a little further, that's a new challenge to have vanquished.

It's tough to keep perspective when the rest of our team rode 100 miles (after a night a pretty serious drinking [after we went to bed] nonetheless). But I don't think that should overshadow Paul's accomplishment.

This week Paul had been joking that he would only do 10 miles of the race. At 10 miles in, I asked if he wanted to do the 20 mile course, but Paul says no. We're doing what we came here to do.

So, I'm pretty excited for Paul's longest ride ever. We held a pace of almost 16 mph, took on a few serious hills and didn't even stop at the 3rd (and final) rest stop. The last hill, by and far the worst, was one that he thought he might have to walk up, but he didn't. He made it. When we passed through the finish line, he first laid his bike on the ground, then laid himself on the ground next to it and said that hill might have been the hardest thing he had ever done, EVER.

Now that's something to be proud of.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Fourth of July

It's actually been 4 years since I've been in the US for a Fourth of July. Hard to believe, but last year I was in Mexico for Toby and Brooke's wedding (yay!) and the two years before that were in Australia. I can't even remember what I did for my last American Fourth.

This year a friend of mine invited us to her Beacon Hill apartment to watch the fireworks from her balcony. But before all this, Paul and I went to watch the Pops rehearsal on the 3rd out on the Esplanade. It's not entirely fair to call it a "rehearsal" when thousands of people show up, and they do a full run-through with no stopping. We got there an hour early, and they had already filled the oval in front of the hatch shell. But we found a nice spot near storrow that still had views of the big screens and great sound. We brought a picnic and a crossword and just all in all had a great time. Here we are:

Awesome. So we were well-prepped for the actual Fourth festivities. We made the mistake of picking up beer near our house to bring to the party, necessitating lugging it from our house, to the T, off the T up Beacon Hill, passing 4 or 5 liquor stores on the way. Ok, seriously, we will not make this mistake again.

It was a great party, met new people, enjoyed some amazing homemade pizza (why does my crust never come out like that?). And watched the pops on TV, including the patriotic sing-along. Which Paul and I dominated with "to the oceans, white with FOAM!" Yes, that is what was missing from my Fourths these last 4 years. Some one to belt out American songs whose words are burned into my memory from years of chorus.

Then finally the fireworks:
Not a bad view from the balcony, and those weren't even the big ones.

The only real hiccup in the whole performance was trying to get back home. Estimates were that there were over 800,000 people on the Boston side for the fireworks (only 600,000 people actually live in the city of Boston), so getting home was a bit of a nightmare. We walked to Charles/MGH, to find it overrun with people, then crossed the bridge to Kendall - also overrun, continued walking towards Central and finally caught a cab home.

But we did get to experience the surreal feeling of walking down the middle of a busy Boston street that was closed to traffic. Here we are, in the street:

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Uncharted waters

I'm in Canada this week for a conference, Quebec, in fact, here. Needless to say, I was stoked to be going to the great Canadian outdoors, and to get a chance to check out that lake.

Seriously, this was the view from my balcony this morning.

The resort was at the base of Mont Tremblant, a popular ski mountain, so I was a little worried about how cold this lake was going to be. I called the resort last week to see if I should bring a wetsuit. Here's how the conversation went down:

"Hi, I'll be staying with you next week. I was wondering if you knew what temperature the lake was."
"Ha ha ha. No, I don't know"
"Oh, well, have you been in the lake yet? Is it very cold?"
"Employees aren't allowed in the lake"
"Ok, have you seen many guests swim in the lake?"
Ok, fine, it looks cold, and they have a "semi-olympic pool," so I opted to not bring the wetsuit. But when I got there, the water was super warm, maybe 68-70 degrees. Monday afternoon we had some downtime before dinner, and I ran into some one else from the conference carrying goggles. Good sign. I asked him if he was going to swim, and he said, yes, but that he had already been chastised by the lifeguard to only swim within the ropes. But that the lifeguard took off at 5:30. So we bided our time. Finally around 6, we got our chance.

As we waded out of the shallows, I asked him about his open water swimming. Turns out, he's signed up for his first sprint in August, and he's never done any open water swimming, but he's pretty confident. I briefly go over spotting to keep him swimming in a straight line, and off we go.

Here's our planned route.

The first bit is sorta yucky. As the sand disappears into the depths, the seaweed reaches the surface. Despite all the open water swimming I've done over the last 5 years, I prefer to not see anything in the water when I swim. I resort to closing my eyes.

I clear this bit and get into the real deep, and things are feeling good. I pull up to a few kayakers and look back. My new friend is probably 50m back, and is breast stroking. I wait up for him, and assure the kayakers that we will be fine, we're strong swimmers and no, those dark clouds on the horizon don't look that scary.

When my friend catches up, I check in with him. He says swimming into the dark water had been harder than he expected, but he points out, he's gotta do it at some point. Right, I had forgotten about how scary that is. No matter how comfortable you may be at the deep end, when you're suddenly more than a few strokes from the side of the pool, panic sets in. Steve in a Speedo actually talked about getting his brother-in-law in the water for the first time this week.

We decide to continue on to swim to one of the islands. I suggest he tap my feet. This is a drill we do in practice to prep for races. You swim faster with less effort when you're swimming on some one else's feet: it's like drafting on the bike. And you don't feel alone. And you've got a goal which is keeping on those feet, and that helps keep your mind off of the deep.

Off we go. I check every 30 strokes or so, and he's keeping up well, and we make it as close to the island as I want to get (no seaweed). We tread for a bit, then breaststroke for a bit to catch our breaths. Those dark clouds from before, they've moved closer, they are encroaching on the resort, and in the distance we can hear thunder. I convince him to get moving. This time, he doesn't stay on my feet. This time he needs more rest. So we swim for a bit, we breast stroke a bit. He offers for me to go ahead, but no way am I gonna leave him in the middle of this lake.

We make it back through the seaweed, and we're chatting our way back to the shore, when the storm just opens up. Massive drops, strong gusts. We sprint out of the water, grab my clothes as they're just about to blow away. And jog into the hotel. Phew, safe.

Into the elevator, hit the button, doors close, lights out. Sweet, the power is out. About 30 seconds later, the emergency power kicks in, and the lights come back on. Ok, door open. Door open. Door open? Nothing. My friend tries to pry the doors open, but it's a single door, that closes to one side, and he can't fit his fingers in. Luckily, my fingers are small. I can just get my fingertips around the lip of the door. And I pull. Success. We escape.

It's been a long time since my first openwater swim at Walden all those years ago, when simultaneously Robyn, Andrea and I all stopped, panicked and decided to swim along the shore for safety. I'm impressed with my new friend. He did way better than I did, I'm sure he'll have a great swim.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Patriot Race Report: Learning the hard way

A little over a year ago, I took on my first half ironman. It was a challenge unlike other tris I have done. This year, I returned to the distance at the Patriot to try to learn from the difficulties last year and have a solid race. Well, I finished, and I learned more about this distance, but I don't think I can say I had a solid race. I finished in 6:08 - 18 minutes slower than last year. But I did come 8th in my age group (out of 26), so that's not too shabby. Still I wasn't out there to podium, I was out to master the distance, and once again, the half got the best of me. Here's what I learned.

Exiting T1

With temperatures in the upper-80s, I knew I'd need to take on more fluids. I'd even planned on stopping to pee, but as it turned out, I didn't have to. I have 2 water bottle cages on my bike, a front one with my sustained energy and a back one with just water. I usually only use my back cage to refill my front one in training, so when I went for my water 2 miles in, I dropped it. Crap. Well there's a water stop at mile 15, I'll just have to make it there. Bad plan. I should have stopped and picked up the bottle. Instead, I was without water for the first 50 minutes of the bike. I kept drinking my sustained energy, but it just wasn't doing it.

Then, of course, when I did finally get to the water stop, the water bottle didn't fit in my cage cause my bike is so tiny. Bad planning. I jammed it in on a diagonal. I wasn't going to go without water for the next 15 miles. I focused on drinking ever mile, to try to get the fluid back into me.

Finishing lap 1

When I got to the next water stop at 30 miles, I still had half of the water bottle and half of my fuel, so I decided I was good, I didn't exchange bottles. Again, bad plan. I ran out of all fluids at around mile 38, still ~7 miles to the next water stop. At this point I start developing a dehydration headache. Ugh. More water at mile 45, but it was too late.

On my way out of the run, stuffing my bike gloves into a pocket

I got into T2, put on shoes and ran to make a portapotty stop. By this point I had had 3 bottles of liquid, but only a thin stream of gu-like pee came out. Dang, my reflection in the mirror revealed swollen lips. Seriously dehydrated. I tried to remedy with some heed at the first mile water stop. But by the time I got to mile 2, I felt worse. I sat down, drank water, heed, had electrolyte pills, a gu. The volunteers offered to give me a ride back to transition. No way. If I'm gonna quit it's gonna be at mile 3. I start walking. After a few yards, I get up to jogging. At mile 3 I start the routine that will take me through the remainder of the day: splash myself with a cup of water, drink a cup of heed, walk a few yards and get to jogging. By mile 5, I actually felt good. More gu, more electrolyte pills and I was even banging out 9 minute miles there for a bit. Mile 10 didn't feel so good, but I made it. Total run time was 2:21.

Ok, so there are the lessons: pick up the bottle you dropped, practice with the exact mechanisms you will use on race day, don't rely on race provisions, explore other water options (bottle on the bars? camelback?).

Despite all this, there were some really good moments of the race yesterday too. I had the 4th fastest swim in my age group. I averaged 18.8 for the first half of the bike and 18.4 overall, giving me the 6th fastest bike in my age group. Once I got the hydration back in control, my run actually felt pretty good. I'm really proud of finishing the race. And finally, (and most importantly) my knee felt fine. Even a day later it's feeling ok. This was probably due to my absolutely amazing pit crew, Paul, who was ready for me with ice and saran wrap immediately after the race.

This morning I woke up still 4 pounds shy of my regular weight, so I've still got some work to do getting hydrated. But I'm now considering signing up for Pumpkinman. One more meeting with the half distance to tackle it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Patriot plan

Ok, first. I'm writing this from a hotel at the SFO airport. This is not my ideal race prep, but I came out here to give a proposal, and it went well. So I'm going with it. Plus, for my last half I did a trans-continental flight 2 days before, and that was fine, right? I fly out at 6 tomorrow morning.

Back to the race. Since Mooseman, my knee has not been happy. And it's not been indifferent either. It has been angry. Seriously angry. Like 5 days ago, I was considering pulling out of the race angry. It's the same old thing, super tight IT band pulling knee all out of shape. But it was waking me up in the middle of the night. It was painful to put weight on; it was painful to lift my knee. You get the picture. There's been a flurry of physical therapy-esque activity, and just a few tears, and at this point, I'm pretty confident I will be racing in about 36 hours.

It's supposed to be hot. Like 88 degress hot. Race starts at 7:15, so realistically, I'll be racing through the hottest part of the hottest day of the year. Awesome. Here's my plan:

Swim: Last year I did a 32 minute swim. Sure it was one of the best swims of my life, but I'd love to see a repeat of that. Plus, I've gotten faster over winter training. So lets go with 32 minutes.

Ride: First off, I'm wearing my regular cycling shoes, they're not as fast to put on, but they are seriously more comfortable, so those extra 20 seconds or so in transition seem totally worth it. Ok, so last year, I held a 30km/h pace which works out to 18mph. But that course was flat, dead flat. In this preseason, I've been stressing feeling like I'm not able to get up to that sort of speed this year. I just haven't ridden outside nearly as much as I did in Brisbane. But I've had a couple of good rides a nearly 20mph average at Mooseman, and a 17.8 average on the Patriot course a few weeks ago, so I'm thinking 18 is doable. I'll set my computer to average and just hold onto 18. This course is two loops of 29 miles, so it's a bit longer than Busso, so my time will be a bit longer, but the course is more interesting with a few rollers to get out of the saddle for. I'm looking forward to it.

Last time, I had planned on a pee break in T2, but this didn't happen. Not cause I was concerned about time, but because I was way too dehydrated to have to go. This will not be the case on Saturday. I've been training to take in more fluid and despite my coach's recommendations, I'm not going to try to pee on the bike. Like they say, don't race anything you haven't trained, so I'm planning on stopping at the portapotties after the first loop. All in all, this means I'm looking at a 3:15 bike.

Run: This is once again the wild card. I haven't done anything longer than a 10K run going into this, so that's nerve-racking, but I also feel confident that if I keep it controlled, that I can do it. Provided the knee behaves itself. I've got my nutrition and hydration in much better shape than last year (in that I've actually planned them), so if that was truly what held me back last year, then hopefully, I should be ready. 2 hours on the run is the goal.

0:32 + 3:15 + 2:00 = 5:47 + 0:05 (transition) + 0:03 (bathroom break) = 5:55.

Honestly, I will be happy to finish this race. I will be thrilled to come in sub-6. If I come in 5:55, it will be an amazing day. Given what an awesome day I've had today, anything seems possible.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

More lessons from the other side of racing

First, a follow up on the earlier Mooseman post: I came in 27/64 in my age group. Ok, not great. There's some stiff competition in these parts. Here are a few more shots from the official race picts:

Looking aggressive on the bike, though that helmet looks really far back.

I think I like Matt's picture (from the first post) better for what it's worth.

And finally, oh yeah, I caught that guy. Final time was 1:44.

Moving on. On Sunday, Natalia and I volunteered for the Mooseman 70.3. We weren't thrilled going into it: it rained ALL day, but we went, and once there, we really enjoyed it. We were stationed in the transition area along with roughly 30 high school volunteers. Now I appreciate that the school has this program, but honestly, these kids were just in the way. None of them had ever done a tri or had any idea what would be helpful to the athletes. Most were put to work standing out of the way and cheering on the athletes as they ran through. Talia and I stationed ourselves in the middle of the transition area. We helped people locate their racks, sprung into action when a rack collapsed, untangled jerseys and were scandalized by some people's lack of modesty. Again, several lessons to take to my next tri:

  • Never try to put on anything that is not loosely fitted in transition. You're wet. At this race, these items were wet, they just won't be easy to get into. Vests work well. Arm warmers should be swum in or avoided (or possibly rolled, so they're easy to unroll - though I didn't see any one attempt this)
  • Don't try to get food into your pockets in transition. Do this beforehand. If you're putting on a vest, have them stashed. Use a bento box or swim with them.
  • Know where the porta-potties are. We saw one athlete, run back over the mats and out to the spectator loos. I don't know what happened to his time, but it couldn't have been good.
  • If you're going to sit down to put on shoes, have a place to do it. We saw one 3-legged camping stool and several buckets and milk crates used for this purpose.
  • Flip or cover your shoes to prevent rain from pooling in them.
  • Practice entering and exiting transition. I was surprised at how many pros didn't know where their racks were. It's not enough to just generally know where the exit is, actually practice.
Finally, although other race management folks got to ride around in this, we never got to, and I'm still bummed.

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