My Daily Online Routine

I find it very interesting that many of us really start our days online now (or is this just me?)  It’s how I end my day, too & I’ve developed a very specific/oddball routine.  I would like to say “Well, I check all the major news sites, my email, and then I’m done!”–but yeah right.  It goes a little something like this:

7am (while eating my yogurt/granola & drinking iced coffee & sometimes blow drying my hair…lots of multi-tasking happening): my e-mail, Facebook, (in case I missed major disaster overnight), (Entertainment Weekly) for the funny TV recaps (I even read recaps for shows I no longer watch).

I am glad my job isn’t in front of a computer most of the day because my list would be much much longer & I would probably never get any work done.  I’m very easily distracted for long periods of time (but that’s probably all of us).  It means that I usually am on my computer at home before bed, though–since I haven’t had a chance at work.  The evening routine is a little more fun:

email, Facebook, CNN, and then I try not to–but I’m always in the mood for something “light”–aka celebrity gossip.  I start with something classy like E! Online–but quickly I get right to the trashy gossip at TMZ (which I refuse to bookmark, but I swear I visit at least once a day).  Then I go to read personal blogs–my friend Kendra’s & then 2 people I don’t even know.  It’s hard for me to consistently visit someone’s blog because usually they either RARELY update…or–nope, really people just don’t update enough for my tastes.  I need DAILY updates people!  And usually these people are professional writers, so their blogs are extremely well-written.  One blog is called: Running to Slow Things Down & I don’t even know how I found it, but I love it.  This girl takes pictures of all the food she eats (along with recipes) & she’s a nutritionist–so it’s all wholesome & healthy & would be the way I ate if I actually took the time to eat well consistently.  You would think I would read her blogs & copy some of her ideas or be inspired to eat healthier.  But so far–no, I just read the blog & think “oooh, that sounds good.”  But then it gets all weird because I follow her life, too “oh, sweet, she just graduated today from college!” and “oh good! her running injury isn’t bothering her as much anymore!”  The other one is even stranger–I guess I was led there by a friend of a friend’s link on his page…I can’t really remember.  But I enjoyed his writing style & for whatever reason–have followed him on and off for a few years.  The funny part is–he’s this writer/dj/bartender–and he would blog about working with this singer/dancer friend…who less than a year later–turns out to be Lady Gaga!  Hilarious.  So now he’s all writing about being a DJ for Lady Gaga and the good old days & he’s a total hipster writing articles for Esquire…but even when I think “this guy and his ego!”–I totally still read it.

I also have “weekend sites” that I visit when I have more time on my hands.  This always starts off with my job searching sites (I’ve always searched for jobs, regardless if I’m currently employed or not–it’s just habit…I used to constantly look at places to rent, too…even if I wasn’t planning on moving–but thankfully have moved on from that).  I spend some time on whatever interests me with triathlon-ing (the L.A. tri club site, triathlon stores, googling questions, etc).  I do any necessary business transactions (contacts, Sephora, Victoria’s Secret, amazon, Nike, travelocity, priceline).  I write really really long emails to anyone willing to read them.  I spend more time reading actual news articles instead of just the headlines.  I get caught up reading hundreds of strange, mostly idiotic comments on articles & then wonder “why did I just read all of those?”

It makes me think back to when the internet first clicked for me.  I remember being 17 maybe–and getting on AOL for the first time…you know, the whole dial up “you’ve got mail” thing.  I can’t remember anything I did online then–except wait for a piece of mail to come in (who was even emailing me?  The other 2 people on AOL?) & visit chat rooms (what was I chatting about?  Sadly, I think it was something involving musical theatre).  When I got to college, we were using a program I can’t recall–what now seems ridiculously archaic…it didn’t seem to be a sophisticated browser like Mosaic…but something free that allowed us to email & search the library–we really just emailed each other.  My friend Eric was the real computer genius at the time–actually creating a website for our band in code.  I had no idea what he was doing or how he did it (and still don’t).

I wonder now about time.  How did I used to spend my mornings before this whole thing happened?   I wonder about information. How did I find a job?  How did I find anything?  How did I write a paper for school?  How did I tell everyone my status on a daily basis?

There are people I know that can go a couple of days without checking email, but I’m not one of them.  There are people that still get the newspaper–and while I love spending hours pouring over a Sunday paper…it’s just so much easier online (not to mention free).  There are people who refuse to be on social networking sites–and while I really wish to be that person, I really enjoy that I get to connect with cousins in Texas, friends in New York, etc on a more regular basis.

But when I’m on vacation, it’s a different story.  I enjoy the few days away from my “daily fixes”–how the focus is much more about where I am now, in the moment, and what I plan to do out in the world.  My phone comes in handy–yes, it’s a smart phone–so I can still check my email, facebook, etc–but it allows me to catch up in 2 minutes rather than 2 hours.

I think about how long I’ve been writing & posting online–since 2002!  Before that, I would still email funny stories around to family & friends…and I’m no writer, but I enjoy the process of it.  I enjoy putting it out there because I would never say so much out loud to you (or anyone, unless I have a major coffee buzz).

But I would love to create some limits.  I would love to go old-school sometimes.  I’m already like that in some ways.  I actually love when my phone dies.  It makes life so much easier for me.  I love that I’m not one of those people who will answer a ringing phone when I’m in the middle of a conversation with someone (though no worries, I don’t blame you for doing so…).  I like to avoid using GPS in the car because it eliminates the fun–I feel it’s kind of like a calculator–yes, you get the answer…but you have no idea how it happened.  But I must admit it has come in handy when my own mapping skills have failed & left me in some random South Central neighborhood with no clue which direction I’m headed.   I just find it funny when you go away for awhile, return & find that you haven’t really missed that much from being away from the internet…maybe you have 100 emails, but only a few or so that are actually important.  Maybe you’ve missed 100 twitter updates, but you can breeze through them all in a matter of minutes.

So, in honor of my summer goals–I always love summer goals–because they are much more fun & frivolous compared to New Year’s goals…I’m doing away with evening internet.  I’ve also read the computer light can mess with your sleeping, & I’m also attempting to create the most decadent, sleep friendly room ever (thanks to a good 10 years without consistent sleep–it’s about time).  I will certainly miss the routine & I’m sure will miss googling all the random questions I MUST have answered every night (recent searches include “Bill Maher quotes about immigration” and “best Texas brisket recipe”)…but maybe I won’t complain so much about having no time in the evening.  Maybe I will get to bed a little earlier…or maybe I will just watch loads of Real Housewives marathons on Bravo.  Let’s see what happens!

Back to the movies.

I’ve always loved going to the movies.  One of the main reasons I feel like I couldn’t make it in a small town (although I still dream about living in one just for the open space they provide–and really, the ample free parking) is because I love what the big cities have to offer in terms of movie theaters.  They show EVERYTHING–classics, small documentaries, the biggest hits, cult films, etc.  For whatever reason, I feel like I haven’t been to the movies at all this year.  I tend to go in phases…sometimes there’s just nothing out for me to see–but usually, I just don’t make time for it.  Luckily, this weekend, I’m back in the groove.

I used to have a rating system for movie theaters on my site, and although I’ve given up on that–I would like to give a shout out to one of my favorites: Culver City Plaza.  It doesn’t seem to be a chain operation, which is tough to find these days.  And the movies they offer run from “dollar movie” type fare to the latest indie/foreign films–I can’t find a more diverse selection anywhere in L.A.  I love it mostly because it’s FIVE DOLLARS before 5!  You don’t find this much in L.A., where ticket prices have climbed to as much as $13 & most theaters only count matinees as the first showing of the day.  Also, parking is free–there’s a lot–but even better, you don’t even have to worry about validation on the weekend.  No one’s working the lot.  There are no crowds, so you don’t have to show up early.  Let’s not forget Ms.Pacman in the theater lobby.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s only a couple of miles away from me.

Anyway, experiences like that get me excited to explore the world of movies in L.A once again.  This morning, I’m going to see Casino Jack, a documentary about Jack Abramoff that is playing in exactly ONE theatre for ONE showing (11am).  And I can’t wait.  It’s good to balance my triathlon stuff with a laid back weekend morning now and then.  Anyone have any favorite movie theaters in their neighborhoods?

Race Report: L.A. Tri Series, #2, Championship Course

I know, I know–enough with the races already!  I’m feeling it, too.  It tends to interrupt my training (there’s always a little rest/recover time you need, regardless of the distance) & I’m ready to make some actual progress endurance-wise.  BUT, I must admit I had a great time, and although I couldn’t do this 3 part series every year–it’s got a fun “small town” vibe to it that I don’t see very often out here.  I would expect “small town” competition, but man, there are some speed demons out on the course.

There were 2 options for the day–the “express” or the “championship.”  I signed up for the championship series–which grows in length each race…this time: 1,000m swim, 25 mile bike, 5 mile run—walking to set my bike up, I thought, “hmm, express sounds much more my style.”  I get this feeling whenever there is a shorter & longer course happening at the same time.  The short course racers look so much more at ease.  They look at the buoy AT THE OTHER END OF THE LAKE! and say, “who would ever want to swim that far? that’s torture” & laugh laugh laugh.

I knew I hadn’t really trained for the distance.  Technically, your training is supposed to be much longer than the actual distance you’ll go–so when you put them all together, it doesn’t seem overwhelming.  Instead, my maximum training distance for all 3 events was equal to the race distance itself.  My long bike rides were 25-30 miles.  My swims?  Barely 1,000 meters (and that’s with breaks).  My running is always OK.  So I was sort of at ease thinking, “pace yourself.”  Even when the announcer said that “yes, that swim course does look too long,” I did not get nervous.  Even though one buoy was so far away we couldn’t see it from shore, I did not run back to my car and drive home.  I just told myself to take it easy.  (Not the best race advice, p.s….the races shouldn’t be THAT easy).

So, we started the swim & I pretended I was on summer vacation swimming across the lake (no, I don’t have a lake that I’ve ever swam in during summer vacation).  I could tell other people were swimming fast, but I thought “slow and steady wins the race.”  This was also bad advice I gave myself.  There are some positives: I stayed completely calm throughout the swim, my technique was decent, my spirits were high…but for some reason, I didn’t feel like pushing it.  I’m no good at pacing myself in swimming.  I’m amazing at it on the run simply because I’ve been doing it for so long.  I don’t know my limits in the water.  And that will only come with experience.  I didn’t really take myself seriously this race, so I kind of laughed off the fact that I was towards the back of the pack (and not even out of breath…oops!) when I hopped on my bike.

I’ve done this loop before–but now it was a little longer, and I was doing it 3 times.  I love the loop because it has a little bit of everything–steep hills, slow inclines, some flats portions, a crazy fast downhill, lots of turns, and one area I called “cobblestone”–I started to get bored doing so many loops that I named every portion of the course…the road gets really bad for a little while–terribly bumpy, so I pretend I’m in the Tour de France…where they race on cobblestone FOREVER & it didn’t seem all that bad anymore.  The first loop, I was passing lots of short course racers, etc–but by the time I got to the third loop, the course seemed empty.  I passed about 5 ladies & some men, but it was getting a little lonely.  I knew I had a solid time on the bike, though, and it’s felt easier than it has in the past.

Onto the run:  short course racers are already finished & eating & drinking & making me feel a little bit depressed about just starting the run.  But I was praying for that run to start the last 5 miles or so of the bike because when I’m running, even if I’m tired, I feel the most comfortable.  I was able to right away start running after getting off my bike–no walking or being out of breath–so I just completely enjoyed the run.  Was I running super fast?  No.  Could I have picked up the pace?  Probably.  But it’s tricky when you’re alone & there’s no one to chase (I ended up passing a dozen or so runners, but they were so spaced out on the course)…you just wanna enjoy the scenery.  And it was an AMAZING trail run–we ran across a creek! and through the woods!–with just little yellow paper arrows to guide our way.  It felt like such an adventure.

I pushed it the last couple of miles & finished in 2:52.  I placed 7th in my division, which was better than I thought–considering I never saw that many people on the course.  It was the best time I’ve had at that kind of long course–I felt like I actually had time to enjoy much more of the experience, as opposed to the short races where I’m scrambling all the time.  It’s my goal to now work on actually getting faster at the long stuff, and I have about 4 months to make some improvements.  For now, though–I’m back at this same course in 3 weeks & am ready to improve on my times & use my experience of the course to my advantage.  I spoke of all the technical junk, but what I really want to say was= it was such a blast!  And all the focus on training, my times, etc—none of it really matters…it’s mostly just about the GOOD time.

And I feel summer coming–with it, the urge to spend about 75% of my time outdoors.  Family, friends, water, sun, food, drink—-yesssss! to all of that.  And of course, a couple more triathlons thrown into the mix.

Food Fascinations.

I love food.  I love everything about it–the way it can tell you things about a culture, the way it can bring back all sorts of memories, the consistency of your favorite foods in a world of constant change (ok, I’ll stop with the dramatics soon), the sensory overload it provides (also, I’m easily overloaded), the place it plays in festivities/holidays, and just the simple act of taking a break out of your day to fuel yourself.  I am not one of those people that ever gets too busy too eat.  I feel really sorry for those people.  I am one of those people that eats every few hours, that wonders “Is it lunch time yet?”  I wake up thinking, “Oh wow, yogurt and granola soon! Hooray!”  I have never ever fasted; it sounds completely terrible.

The funny thing is, I don’t really like cooking.  I like to grill outside & I like to cook when I’m at home in a big kitchen with my family around me—but on my own, I tend to search for the quick options.  I’ve given up lots of processed foods in the New Year (I used to survive on Lean Cuisine pizzas, oooh the mushroom and spinach is awesome!), which leaves me with even fewer options.  So my day to day diet doesn’t necessarily showcase a love of food.  (yogurt for breakfast, chicken for lunch, chicken for dinner, blah).  But take me out to eat & I’m in heaven–I’ll eat anywhere, but my current obsession is a good burrito or sandwich with avocado.  What’s weird to me are the long term ‘food addictions’ I seem to find myself involved in, without warning.  Here are some long-lasting foods that I’ve totally been addicted to.

State Farm microwaveable corn dogs (haven’t had them in years, but i can taste them right now)–used to eat them every day before I realized I should eat things that were actually good for me.  The Dr. Pepper I drank (and the chips I ate) were equally tasty and bad for me.

Fuji apples–this is the king of them all.  I fell in love with apples around 2000 & I haven’t looked back. I think apple picking is probably the best fall activity ever invented.  I tried every different kind of apple I could get my hands on, but nothing could beat the Fuji.   At its height, I was eating 5 or 6 apples a day!  I would go on vacation & feel slightly uneasy without my apple companions.  The crispness & the sweetness make me drool–especially with the saltiness of peanut butter.  I have thankfully outgrown this a bit & am now down to one or two apples a day.  Those apples aren’t cheap.

Extra Cinnamon gum–this habit lasted several years…no other gum could come close.  I would go buy it IN BULK.  I bought gum in bulk!!!  Ridiculous.  My new love is Stride Winterblue.  I buy it in packs of 3, which seems much more reasonable.

Sprite Zero–currently me and Chuck can’t get enough of this stuff.  I can’t help it.  Water bores me.  I drink it all the time when I’m working out, & I want something with a little kick for dinner.  It’s perfect & way way better than Diet 7-up.

Baskin Robbins Sugar Free Mint Chocolate Chip Hard Candies–This is the saddest tale of all because it’s so impossible to find these candies.  Me and my running buddy staked out the few stores in Manhattan that had them (weird dollar stores in Chelsea), I would drive out of the way to the only Walgreens in L.A. that still carried them, and I still freak out if I’m out of town and run into a store that has them.  It’s better that I can’t buy them regularly because this stuff can’t be good for you.  But it tastes just like ice-cream & is the perfect counterpart to a soda when at the movies.

Oatmeal–it doesn’t get more exciting than this.  I had this every morning for years, until I bored myself to death (or it was just too hot outside to be eating oatmeal).  I probably loved it less for its taste (it has one?!?) & more for because of the simplicity–buying the big tub of oats, my measuring cup to measure the right amount, and presto.  I love ordering it when I’m out for breakfast because of all the goodies I can put on top (brown sugar, walnuts, blueberries, etc).

Parfaits–In the past year, I’ve really been enjoying parfaits.  I like to try them everywhere I go to see who has the best.  This can get expensive as a daily ritual, so at the current moment, I make my own: non-fat plain yogurt, Kashi Go Lean Honey Almond cereal, & frozen blueberries.  It is crunchy goodness & sometimes I love it so much, it’s also my dinner.

Cookie Dough Balance Bars– I mostly eat healthy, but come on, I need some trash now and then.  Also: I am in love with cookies (best dessert ever, especially when soft and warm…oh, cheesecake is good, too, or maybe a brownie…), so this is my substitute.  It really tastes like cookie dough to me & is a great dessert/treat.

I’m sure there are way more addictions I can’t even remember anymore.  In my quest to have a “cleaner” diet, I guess I mostly worry about having to give up on some of these weird, chemically laced awesomely tasting foods.  I can’t ONLY shop at the farmer’s market, guys, they don’t sell my GUM!  But, habits change, my taste changes, so who knows what my future food fascinations will be (I can bet  it won’t include BEETS).  Do you have any quirky food issues?

Happy Mother’s Day to one of the few people that admit to visiting this site.

So I could go on and on here about how wonderful my mom has been since the day I met her, but a) I can barely remember what happened a few years ago, much less when I was a toddler and b) I probably wrote that post already at some point in my last 8 years of having my own website (at least I erase my entries all the time, so you have no proof).  So let’s stick to the past couple of years.  Because really, Mom, you just keep getting better.

My mom’s support shows up in about every way possible, but I can’t tell you how much it means to me when she comes out to my races.  This past year it has meant a trip to Vegas and L.A., and I’m not sure I could’ve finished the races like I did without her cheering me on.  Not only that, she seems genuinely interested in all the details of the race that consume my thoughts both before and after.  She literally walked a mile in the desert to meet me towards the end of my run in Vegas, and that right there says about all you need to know about my mom.  Especially when at that point in the race, I could only manage to greet her with mild annoyance.  In the marathon, she met me FOUR TIMES along the race.  If you knew L.A. traffic, especially on the day of so many road closures (and parking issues), this was really a more amazing feat than the run itself.  Not only that, but she gave me a goody bag before the race–including all the race day essentials that I may need (Mom, do you really think I will need THAT many band-aids?)

I’m lucky enough to travel back home at least 2 or 3 times a year, and I truly look forward to these visits.  My mom is about all the little things, like a fresh bouquet of flowers, new magazines sitting near my bed when I arrive, and fuji apples in the kitchen (sooo Martha Stewart…minus the prison time).  Who does these things if not your mom?  And it’s totally representative of how she “mothers” her kids and grandkids.  It’s never been in the least bit overbearing.  She doesn’t say “LOOK AT THESE FLOWERS, KRISTY! DID YOU NOTICE THE APPLES?” (I would TOTALLY do that, p.s.) She has somehow found the perfect role to play in everyone’s life and plays it perfectly.

Since I’ve moved away from Texas, Mom has endured many a phone call from me (usually weekly).  I say “endured” because I usually don’t talk very much, especially about myself.  But for whatever reason, my mom has developed a tolerance for my whining and will listen (or pretend to listen) at length to me as I work out my ‘career issues’ over the phone (thanks life coach!)  I always feel a little ashamed after our conversations (oh no! I talked for way too long!), but after her words of encouragement, I also feel much much better about myself and my capabilities in the world.  So I thank her for listening.  It’s an incredible skill to have (Grandmother was such a wonderful listener, too!), & I like to think it’s a quality in myself that comes forth when I’m working with kids.

There are certain qualities in my mom that I could never even try to emulate, so instead I just say thank you!  I will never be as smart, as modest, as thoughtful as my mom.  I hope to God I am funnier than my mom (just kidding, last comic standing, Mom!!!).  Certain similarities make me smile (and make us great travel companions): our mood swings when we’re hungry, the need to be in bed by 10, our love of reading,  & a general distaste for confrontations or drama (although sometimes when hungry, I can be dramatic).  So Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, I love you!  And also to all the other moms in my life (my amazing aunts, cousins, Grandma Edna, and friends):  I’m totally impressed at what you do.  It looks like a really hard job.  I’ll stick to being the “Crazy Aunt” for now, thanks.

My made up tri-camp reflections…

So, if you check back a couple of posts you can read about my fake tri-camp I went to this week.  Basically, I was off from teaching–so I had actual energy & thought I would use it by shaking up my training a bit.  I was, as always, over-ambitious–but I did try a couple of things.

#1: Ocean swim:  This is a L.A. tri club weekly event (May-September).  It’s in Santa Monica–there’s a buoy placed out in the ocean, some cones on land—we swim to the buoy, run to the cones, and repeat as many times as you want.  It’s really the only ocean swim I’ll do because 1) it can be as long or as short of a workout as you want, 2) there are tons of people there–so it mimics the triathlon start & makes me feel safe from sharks and drowning.  I hadn’t been in the ocean since October, and man, I forgot how terrifying it can seem.  I mean, I hear about people who grew up in the water & are totally comfortable in it & just “ride the waves”—I am not that kind of person.  I jump into  the ocean & feel like I’m at war the whole time, being beat up & in survival mode.  Also, this is cold ocean water.  Really cold.  All I could think about for the first minute was “when am I getting past these waves?” and “I can’t feel my face.”  At no point did I think “wow, this is fun!”   It seemed like hours before I hit land again (ummm, nope, turns out only 7 minutes) & instead of running around cones & going a second time–I ran quickly to my car & drove to the safety of my gym pool.  I was proud that I actually made it out, though–and thought “well, next time will most likely be better.”  It does wake you up, though, that’s one thing I can say about it.  And I’m sure if I wasn’t freezing the whole time, I could’ve appreciated the sun rising and all that beauty.

#2: Trail run:  I live fairly close to a ridiculous amount of awesome trails.  It is part of the reason I love living here.  But honestly, when I’m crunched for time, it’s so much easier just to run out the door & go my typical route.  Even though there are some quiet moments along my normal route, for most of it, it’s full of cars & traffic.  I love runs where I don’t run into a single person (or car!)…it’s a completely different feel.  It’s part of the reason NYC running annoyed me at times–people everywhere!  So I took Friday off & made my way along the coast into Malibu & just drove until I found a trail.  I had run this before, but only once–so it still seemed fresh.  The wildflowers are in bloom & there is water in the creeks, so it was completely beautiful.  The way up is always a little challenging, but it’s totally worth it when you get up to the top of the trail & get to run down it…so much fun!  After one of these runs is over, I always think, “I NEED to do this more often!”

#3:  UCLA Workout:  This was the scariest of my ‘new’ workouts this week–but the most fun & challenging.  Best of all, it’s FREE.  I’ve decided not to put any more money into any training/lessons/gear yet–as long as I feel I can make decent progress without it, I don’t need to buy it yet.  Anyway, this is led by the UCLA triathlon coach–and part of the team was there along with half a dozen or so L.A. Tri club members.  He limits the numbers, which is nice.  We meet at the UCLA track–we put our bikes on “trainers” (allowing us to ride in place…I’ve never used these before since L.A. weather is consistently gorgeous, but I’m sure people in other parts of the country are used to them–really cool, actually, I may invest in one next winter when the days get so short).  Now, it’s billed as a “bike/run” workout–so I’m thinking we will bike for an hour, run for 30 min or something like that.  Oh no…we do much shorter intervals (bike 5 min/run 800 yds) and (bike 3 min/run 400 yds) over and over again.  There is a constant changing of shoes (bike to run), which allows you to practice your transition a dozen times.  I met some great people, got some advice from the coach on my running form, & really pushed myself—and had a blast!  He offers these once a month, so I definitely hope to do more in the future!  Now I just need an adjunct gig teaching at UCLA, so I can join the team!

Those were my “shaking it up” workouts–I skipped a group run, but I’m getting a friend to go with me next week.  And I kept my normal workouts in, too (doing my long bike tomorrow & looking forward to adding some distance).  I’m really learning how time in between races really allows you to improve–where as my “race every 2 weekends” pretty much allows you to…race every two weekends.  I’m sure I improve through racing, but I’d almost like a good 3 months where I’m just building on my training & not worried about resting up before races & recovery time after…who am I kidding, I really love races!!!  But when I do mix my training up, it keeps it exciting & meeting other people in the sport is always a good thing (everyone’s so nice).  So it was a fun week of some new stuff & am eager to keep building on this even with classes starting up again this week.

Race Report: San Diego Spring Triathlon

Man oh man, bring on the races!  I’m not ready!  But I still love it.  This was surprisingly the biggest field I’ve raced in (my age group) for a sprint race.  There were 71 of us 30-34yr olds!  I placed 15th, which I wasn’t too impressed with until I saw how close the final numbers were.  I was just a few minutes away from 2nd place—so that gives you an idea of how close we all were.

My race was much more solid than a couple of weeks ago.  I was feeling good (though no more prepared for the swim than I was 2 weeks ago!) & ready to really race this time.  We were swimming in a bay–we all just started off in the water, so we were just treading for a good 5 minutes before our heat went.  I for some reason placed myself right at the very front, as if I was some speed demon swimmer & couldn’t be bothered with all the “newbies” behind me.  About a minute before the race, I contemplated just swimming to the back of the pack–but it was too late.  And I figured I could use all the head start I could get.  No one warned me about the seaweed.  It was everywhere!  Ewwwww!  It was grabbing onto my arms, ruining my attempt at a pretty stroke, and just making me feel gross.  I kept thinking it would end, and eventually it did–but I felt coming out of the water I was going to be looking like a swamp woman (you know how those swamp women look!).  Also, there is no doubt about it that my swim is not up to par.  It’s a fairly short distance (450 meters or so), but my shoulders/arms had enough about 200m into it.  I could feel people passing me, but there isn’t much to do other than to keep going.  I was surrounded by girls the entire time, so I never had a moment to just relax and really focus on my stroke.  I was just trying to keep forward momentum.

I was really focused getting on the bike & I’m sure my transition times were much better this race.  I paid an extra $20 to be VIP–so I wouldn’t have to attend the pre-race expo the day before–but it meant my bike placement was on a rack labeled VIP.  I have never been VIP in my life, so this was by far the most thrilling part of the race: “Excuse me guys, VIP coming through!”  The bike was short (9 miles), so I really tried to push it.  I was speedy on the way out (22 mph) & it felt amazingly easy.  I should’ve known this meant the wind was helping me out–because making the loop, ugh, it got progressively harder.  I passed a few ladies right away–and there was one girl in my age group right in front of me through much of the race that I finally passed in the last mile.  It was really strange having a short, fairly flat bike race.  I remember back to San Fran last year–how PAINFUL those hills were & how much it slowed me down.  It’s something I love about triathlons–each one is its own race.

I was feeling really great coming off of the bike–my breathing was controlled & I was looking forward to the run.  The run was 2 loops–which is weird for such a short run (3 miles).  My basic problem with the run is the first 15 minutes of it.  I still can’t quite figure out how to pace myself.  So much can go wrong so fast on a run–sudden side stitches/cramps being the worst…that will have me walking.  But by the last mile or so, I felt “safe” & like I could really pick it up–and man, I passed at least 4 or so people in my age group–sweet!  I finished strong with a sprint–and two guys ruined my photo finish by chasing each other down to get to the mat first–I said, “really?!”  as they pushed me aside.  I wanted to comment on how my swim started after theirs & I beat them both, but I refrained.

It sucked to see that after I ran a pretty smooth race, I was 15th–I haven’t been that low in a sprint race ever, but again–with such a large field (70), –and once I looked at times online, I saw how close we all were.  And that’s the biggest joy/frustration–knowing I’m just a few minutes away from being on top.  But of course, those are the kind of small improvements that take the most time/effort.  I was really happy to see my swim was just a couple minutes off–not ridiculously slow like it felt.  I feel like if I could finish in the top 10 during the swim, though, I would be racing alongside the best folks for the bike/run & that would drive me to be faster.

I used to think, “why work on the swim?  it’s just a couple of minutes difference,” but now I really do want to be a triple threat (since I can’t sing or dance, let’s try this instead).  It means I should probably get in the pool instead of just showing up at the race & trying to all of a sudden will myself to be a great swimmer (I’ll be starting at the front, guys, excuse me, thanks, did I mention VIP??).

The race itself was really well organized.  There was parking onsite, the course was well labeled, started on time, etc–it was at a park, so the views were either the bay or dirt…not amazing, but always fun being outside.  It was cool and cloudy, which is perfect for race day.  Well, there’s race #2 for the year.  The third is coming up way too soon–in 2 weeks!–and it’s a long one (1000 m swim…huh? wha?)…but after that, I only have 3 more scheduled for the entire year–so you won’t be reading these posts EVERY WEEK, I promise.  But thanks for reading this one.