Sunday, July 31, 2011


I'm moving my blog ...

It was simple, really. "First Time Triathlete" was a great way to kick off a blog about my first experience in triathlon, but I've since decided that I'm definitely not the "done one and finished" type of triathlete. No. Rather, I am hooked on this sport and ready to take it to the next level, so I decided to do so under a new name.

Like many triathletes I read about (since I personally know less than 5 age-groupers like me), I am trying to balance this new, fabulous, wonderful hobby along with everything else in my life: My long-time, fabulous, wonderful husband (and our equally wonderful yellow Lab, Cody), my day job as an accountant for a pretty-good sized non-profit organization, my part-time job as a studio quilt artist, and...

...the crazy, demanding, exhilarating sport of triathlon!

I'll hope you'll continue to FOLLOW me over there!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Race Report - South Maui Triathlon

This was my second year at this race, which was my inaugural triathlon.  The few weeks leading up to it were crazy and I wasn't even sure I was going to race until about two weeks before, but I made it!


Last year I couldn't get my breakfast down due to nerves, so this year I planned a liquid breakfast and did what a lot of fellow triathletes with early start times up at 3:00 a.m., drank my smoothie and turned on the coffee pot, then went back to bed and "rested" until my 4:00 a.m. wake up call.  It worked!

Bruce surprised me the night before by saying he would go with me to the race and not drive down later, which was wonderful.  We packed the truck with my bags, poured our coffee and headed out the door by 4:20 to get to the race site by 5:00.

Packet pick up and bike drop off were the day before, so all I had to do when I arrived was set up my transition area.  I was on the corner of a large "L" which was awesome because I was able to set up my transition area directly across from where my bike was racked and out of the way.  That was a good thing because the racks were packed kind of tight and the other athletes who arrived earlier had spread out a little wide.

Bruce and I met up with fellow racer (and recent training partner) Matthew and his wife, Chelvi, and we headed down to body marking near the beach.


On the beach I met up with several other Maui racers.  Having Bruce there and talking with friends before the start was a wonderful change from last year when I didn't know anyone.  I was a lot calmer this year and more confident.  I watched the men's wave take off and planned my start.  Last year I waited toward the back and it cost me a lot of time at the start waiting for the others to wade in and get going.  This year I was a lot more confident in my swimming abilities and lined up at the front and to the left, closest to the buoy.  A couple people passed me which I expected, but it was a good tactic for the start.

Watching the men's wave start.

We were swimming against the incoming current to the first buoy and it was relatively strong, so I just put my head down and pushed.  I should have sighted more, however, because I started to get a little off course and ended up inside the first buoy and had to correct and swim around.  A dumb mistake that cost me some time.

Around the first buoy and on my way to the second we were swimming parallel to the light swell and the rocking motion was making me feel a little pukey (I get seasick pretty easy) but the swimmers were more evened out now and I just put my head down and tried to refocus on my swim.  Thankfully, that worked.

That's me in the middle with the white/aqua/gray tri suit.

Around the third buoy and on the way into shore the sun was coming up and the glare was impossible.  I knew this from last year, but didn't want to swim with tinted goggles for such an early start.  I continued sighting well but this is where the other swimmers around me started breaking down - breaststroking and backstroking, so it was necessary to avoid being kicked and one backstroker even started going sideways across a bunch of swimmers.  I picked up my pace and stayed on course and everything was good going into shore.

2010:  40:12    2011:  34:18   PR by almost 6 minutes!


It's quite a run from the beach to the transition area, up a service road behind the hotel to the parking lot.  I wanted to improve my time from last year, but ran into the woman next to me in transition who was from Maui and we checked on each other to make sure we each had everything and were ready to go for the ride.  Unfortunately, that, coupled with a larger transition area, combined to add to my time from last year.  Otherwise, T1 was pretty smooth and I was ready to go.

2010:  5:52     2011:  6:18


A couple of weeks before the race Matthew loaned me one of his road bikes for the race.  It fit me quite well, aerobars and all, and I was able to get in a couple of long rides on it prior to the race so it felt good.  Last year the course took us through two loops and up "Diamond Hill" a very steep hill, followed by another very steep hill, TWICE.  This year, it was once out to Makena, then up the hills to the Piilani Hwy and a long stretch of wonderful, fairly straight, rolling hills.  On Matthew's suggestion I took the Makena loop to pretty much just warm up, climbed the hills, then hammered as hard as I could on the straightaways.

This year I passed people on the bike!!!  That is SUCH a great feeling!  Last year, everyone was passing me on my MTB.  This year I passed 15-20 people and it was awesome.  I pushed as hard as I could, hit a little bit of a headwind on the return which was also mostly uphill, then cruised the final downhill and back into transition.  I was VERY happy with the bike!

2010:  1:50      2011:  1:32    PR by 18 minutes!!


Good.  Racked the bike, slipped on my Zoot Ultra racers (look mom, no socks!).  Grabbed my hat and race number and off I went.  Again, long trek around the side of transition (only one in and one out), so a little longer this year.

2010:  2:22    2011:  3:14


This was my worry.  With last year's foot fracture and lengthy recovery, my run mileage has been low this season.  I also missed several training runs 3-4 weeks out.  My last run off the bike was awful.

I took off at a pretty slow pace, but eventually found my legs and picked up the pace after the first two hills (pretty much right out of the hotel).  This race has a very hilly run course and, with the sun rising and the day heating up, can be very hot, humid and difficult.  I FELT GOOD!  No pain in the foot.  I ran the entire way, with the exclusion of the aid stations when I walked.  In the last mile I passed two younger guys (one who outwardly groaned when I passed him), and they never caught up.

2010:  1:26    2011:  1:08    PR by 16 minutes!

Post Race

After hugs and high fives from Bruce, Matthew and Chelvi, had water, an orange and a banana, then a BIG BREAKFAST at Stella's.  

Even though I didn't meet my goal of making top five in my AG this year (I placed 11 out of 28), I am still very pleased with the results and looking forward to shaving off another 20 minutes for next year's race, which should place me solidly in the top 3!

Coming into the home stretch!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Race Day Play List

I had a little free time today, so I made a CD to listen to on the way to the race Sunday morning.  Last year I discovered that there isn't much on Maui radio at 4:00 a.m.  Since I don't want to be left at the mercy of whatever is in my car right now (too many overplayed CDs), here's what I'll be listening to:

  • Beautiful Day, U2
  • Where Are You Going, Dave Matthews Band
  • Suddenly I See, KT Tunstall
  • Big Time, Peter Gabriel
  • Pump It, Black Eyed Peas
  • Burn It To The Ground, Nickelback
  • Lose Yourself, Eminem
  • Walk On, U2
  • Unstoppable, Rascal Flatts
That is my motivational playlist, in order of appearance!

Music has always been a huge part of my life and I enjoy quite an eclectic mix.  I chose these songs because they either: make me smile when I hear them, motivate me to get moving during training, or keep me moving during a race.  When I'm struggling, I just think of this line from Unstoppable:

"Get on your knees and dig down deep, you can do what you think is impossible!"

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pre-Race Thoughts

It's taper week, which I find rather unsettling for me this year, and not for the usual reasons.  Although my training has been very good all winter, these last few weeks have dealt many emotional upheavals and my training levels plummeted during two very crucial peak weeks.  But I'm OK with that.

I had an amazing bike workout on Saturday with a fellow triathlete (my first non-solo workout with someone who actually knows what they are doing!), but it was later than I expected, I didn't hydrate properly and, as a consequence had a VERY CRAPPY 2 mile run.  I took my gel too close to the end of the bike and it sat on top of my diaphragm and threatened to come up in the first 30 seconds of the run.  And God, was it hot and humid!  I spent the entire two miles trying to keep it down although I may have felt better if I'd have just let it go.  And the fact that I was considering hurling is a huge milestone for me because I do not like to puke and will do just about anything humanly possible to avoid it!

I haven't had gel problems before, so I think it was just a combination of too hot + under hydrated + over exerted + too close to the run.  I can remove most of those issues on Sunday if I just stay focused.

Transitions will be better this year - streamlined and no socks.  T1 last year was nearly 6 minutes!  T2 was 2:22, so respectable.  Going to try and shave off at least 3 minutes total this year.

I am very happy with my progress in swimming and ecstatic with the bike (and the fact that I will be riding a roadie for this race- thanks MC!!).  I'm looking to make gains in these two areas.  The run, however, will be a challenge.  My mileage is down from last year (post injury) and the course is difficult - lots of hills and temps can be high.  My goal is to stay positive, make the most of the downhills, and stay strong to the finish.  Plus, if I can make up time on the swim (10 mins) and bike (30 minutes +), it will be earlier and, hence, a LOT cooler for the run.  I love that this race has a 6:00 a.m. start!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thankful for Good Friends

Some major changes have taken place in the last few weeks.  My last post said I was canceling the South Maui Triathlon.  I missed quite a bit of training since May 23rd since I wasn't going to race, but kept up with swimming and light running.  Not nearly the level I would need to make a good showing at the race. Then last Saturday a long time friend of mine called and said he had a road bike for me to ride and race with (I've been riding my MTB).  I told him I wasn't racing.  He scolded me.

We talked quite a bit and he reminded me that we have very few - two - triathlons on Maui every year.  How could I not race since I had rehabbed so well and trained so hard over the winter?  My swimming and cycling skills were strong, my running was coming along and my weight was down.  All very good reasons to race.  I told him I had really dropped off in volume in the last two weeks (a critical build phase!).  He told me I'd better get my act together and race this race, even if just for more experience.  Go out, don't expect to kill it (my original goal for this year was to place in the top 5 in my AG).  So I left my emotional pity party and refocused my efforts.

I am so thankful for his call and our conversation.  Since deciding to get back into the race, the black cloud has lifted and many good things are coming along.  It's amazing what a change in attitude can do.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Race Calendar Edits

Sometimes a series of events occurs that requires a major course correction.

Thankfully, it's not an injury or other training mishap.  It's not even an equipment issue.  Without going into a lot of detail, let's just say that sometimes you have to make the RIGHT decision even if it isn't the FUN decision.  That said, I have to take the South Maui Triathlon off my race calendar, which is only a few weeks away.

Even though it saddens me to do it, it is the right thing to do.  The flipside is that I will be concentrating on getting stronger and faster in off-road racing for the summer and grabbing that Xterra AG spot in August.

I am optimistic that things will even out over the summer.  The off-road running will be very good for me and the strength I gain over the summer and into fall will be a great base to start training for Honu in 2012.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What's in YOUR cabinet?

The title of this post makes me think of that credit card commercial, "What's in your wallet?"

This is my nutrition cabinet.  A tiny corner cabinet in the kitchen where I store all my healthly stuff.  When I open the door I often think, "I wonder what other triathletes' cabinets/drawers/boxes/etc. look like."  And I'm also thankful that my stash seems simple (at least to me), compared to some other nutrition plans I've read elsewhere.

Here's a quick rundown:
  • EmergenC - taken daily, one of the few types of Vitamin C that don't upset my stomach;
  • MRM Vanilla egg white protein powder (acceptable protein on the Paleo diet - however, this particular brand/flavor has additives that are not  acceptable, so I will be changing next time);
  • Bob's Red Mill golden flaxseed meal;
  • Vitamin E;
  • Calcium with Vitamin D;
  • Fish oil capsules;
  • HEED - melon flavor, which I bought by accident, but turns out is AWESOME - tastes like the essence of a watermelon Jolly Rancher;
  • In the back - Recoverite, Clif Shot Bloks in cherry, and espresso flavored Hammer Gel packets.
  • Not pictured - the four extra water bottles that are in the dishwasher.
I like having everything in one place so it's easy to prepare for rides, workouts, or the day ahead. 

How about you?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cheating and the Consequences

No, I did not cheat on a race, test or my husband. I'm not talking about the "bad" kind of cheating (and,yes, there are two kinds).  I'm talking about the "not as bad" kind of cheating that doesn't hurt anyone but yourself.  You know the kind...when you eat something you really, really shouldn't.

Well, the Paleo spirits must have been really pissed off at me this weekend.  You see, I cheated on them and they kicked up a real fuss.  I ate pancakes at IHOP.

I know, you are probably thinking, "Really?  How bad could that be?  You ate PANCAKES?!?"  Since I've been eating Paleo, I've touched very little non-Paleo food.  No bread.  No oatmeal.  Not even a granola bar or bowl of cereal.  And certainly NOT pancakes.

This past Saturday I ran a 5K with some of my friends from work.  I was pretty proud of myself, as I finished in under 30 minutes and shaved 2 minutes off my time from last year.  (Remember, I'm not fast, just consistent!)  After the race we decided to go have breakfast, which is difficult for me because there are not a lot of options for a restaurant paleo breakfast around here (or a healthy breakfast of any kind!), but I really wanted to go and thought that some eggs and a couple of pancakes wouldn't kill me.  We had a great time, I had eggs, ham and nearly half a stack of pancakes.  It seemed like a good idea at the time. 

But I was stomach does not like this Sam I Am...and I was sick later that afternoon and most of the next day with lower GI issues.  Not conducive to a Sunday long run, so I missed my workout.  And learned a lesson. 

I can't say definitively if it was the pancakes or something else that set me off, but I sure felt better when I returned to my standard paleo eating plan.

I'll know better next time!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Beer, bacon and bananas...

...these are actually things on my shopping list. Scribbled on a post-it and stuck to the back of my phone to remind me what to pick up when I get to the market. The list struck me funny, especially since the beer and bacon weren't for me, illustrating the challenge of eating on a particular nutrition plan when no one else in your household will follow.

I am the only athlete in my house. My husband is a carpenter who has kept in shape over the years through a physically demanding job and a love for water sports; my mother-in-law is 75, has had bi-lateral hip replacement, and gets around pretty well on a regimen of yoga and an occasional water aerobics class.
This diet (I really don't like that word since I've been eating so well!) has everyone especially freaked out.

My husband sort of gets it, since he's seen me radically change my eating habits over the past couple of years; but he's stunned that I've foregone dairy and grains since those were staples of my regular nutrition plan.  My mother-in-law is another story altogether...a lover of all things food and a depression-era child who was taught to clean everything on her plate...worries that I am depriving myself and "is sad that you can't eat this delicious XYZ..."  I keep kindly reminding her that I am happy with my meals and that it is a personal choice for me.  I choose not to eat certain things and to that end am happier and healthier for it!

I've been eating probably 98% paleo since March 12.  I can count on one hand how many times I've had non-paleo food: two pieces of See's candy this past weekend - a nod to Easter and in appreciation of a gift from a family friend; one strip of bacon (that actually didn't taste as good as I remembered); and cocktail sauce I dipped my shrimp into (will someone PLEASE find or recommend a brand of cocktail sauce that doesn't have sugar or vinegar in it!).  And, OK, my egg white protein is vanilla flavored and has small amounts of sorbitol in it, but that's all I could find on this island (I have since found it on the internet without, but it is so expensive I will buy the other stuff when I run out).

This way of eating is agreeing with me! I feel great, sleep better than I ever have before, and have tons of energy for training and everyday living.  I LOVE to cook, so I've been challenging myself to find new ways to cook old favorites and I've been trying a lot of new things, too.  The photo above has become one of my favorite meals: poached eggs on a bed of sauteed cherry tomatoes, grilled onions and bell peppers, and wilted spinach, with a handful of strawberries on the side.  I eat more fruits and vegetables, don't think anything about having chicken, beef or fish for breakfast, and have been challenging myself to try a wider variety of vegetables (eggplant, kale, broccoli rabe).  Dessert is fresh or dried fruit or a couple of dates if I want something sweet.  I don't miss dairy and grains as much as I thought. 

I started this eating plan as an experiment because I could not seem to drop my post-holiday/post-injury weight and it has paid off in such a way that I am committing to this way of eating for a year to see what the continuing benefits will be.  Over the past 7 weeks I have lost 13 pounds - I now weigh 4 pounds lighter than I did at my pre-race weight last June - and am 5 pounds lighter than I ever thought possible.  I am carefully watching my nutrition, especially pre- and post-workout, to ensure I am consuming enough to properly fuel my workouts.

Right now I am supplementing my training with HEED, Hammer Gels and Recoverite because they agree with me and I feel they are the best quality products for my needs.  I know Recoverite contains whey protein, which is non-paleo, but until I become more comfortable with creating my own recovery drinks and obtaining the necessary ingredients without breaking the bank (have I mentioned that living on an island is a lesson in tenacity?), I am going to stick with Hammer.

So, paleo is working for me, I am happier and healthier, and don't feel the least bit deprived.  And my experience is showing me that I can do this even if my family can't quite jump on the bandwagon right now.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On Making More of An Effort

Friday morning as I got out of the pool shortly after 7:00 my coach says, "That all you got?"  I paused for one second then said that that was all I had time for, but still had plenty left in the tank and could swim another 500 easily.

My comments weighed heavily on me for a better part of the morning.  I realized that if I still had that much energy left after swimming 2100y, then maybe I wasn't pushing myself hard enough.  And yet another comment from another swimmer (who was also a long-time coach and whose wife is a former Olympic-caliber swimmer) on the same morning stayed with me.  He said my swimming looks a LOT better and I am evening out my stroke and cadence, but he said, "Pick up the pace - you need to stop swimming the same lazy speed."

OK - I get it!  I realize that I need to push myself harder in workouts.  I have much more to give and should lay it all out there when it makes sense.  I think I even finished my race last year with some left, even though my run was slow.

Time to kick it up a notch!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Paleo and Liking It!

It's Day 5 of my Paleo experiment and can I say, "I'm impressed!"

So far I have not experienced any of the side effects (major cravings, withdrawal, fatigue) that many others have reported on various forums. I feel great, energy is high, and my mood is quite good. I've already lost 2lbs in these first few days.

There is going to taking some tweaking and creativity on the menu planning to keep it interesting and not fall into eating the same proteins all the time, but I like to cook so I don't think that will be too much of a problem.

I had a great smoothie this morning, post workout: 1C green ginger tea, 1 orange, 1 frozen banana, 1T walnuts, 1T flaxseed meal. I love my VitaMix blender!! The smoothie powered me through a crazy work morning...I didn't even realize I missed my snack until it was lunch time!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Going Paleo

I've been intrigued with the Paleo Diet concept since I read The Paleo Diet for Athletes last summer, but never really worked up the courage to put it in motion.

The time has come.

Although reasonably happy with my pre-injury weight at the end summer, I could never get past a certain point even though I was eating clean and still training six days a week. I was still carrying around a higher percentage of body fat than I really wanted. Perhaps it was the diet fairly high in lowfat dairy (cottage cheese, greek yogurt, 1% milk) and grains (oatmeal, brown rice, kashi cereal) - mainstays of the athlete's diet, or so I thought.

Now that I am post-injury and back on a regular training schedule (12-week Oly plan starts in two weeks), I thought I would have lost some of the injury/holiday weight I put on (about 8 lbs), but the regular plan is not working and my body is stubbornly clinging to the fat. Keep in mind that I wasn't looking for miracles either; one to two pounds a week would have suited me just fine. Grrr.

Just around Christmastime I received my copy of The Paleo Diet Cookbook. It was languishing on my nightstand as I pursued the tried-and-true (or so I thought) eating plan these past few weeks. What was the push? I just came out of a two-day migraine bender, usually triggered by food. I picked up the book, read through it, and decided it was time to try something different.

I'm starting a two-week test period on Saturday and trying to go cold-turkey. I don't know how my family is going to react, since all dinners will be Paleo dinners, but I am confident that I will be able to make something everyone is going to like. I "test-drove" the recipe pictured above, Chili Lime Shrimp, which everyone liked.
I'll talk about the process here. The recipes, preparation, ups and downs, and the "how am I going to possibly do without oatmeal, bread, cereal, milk, cheese, yogurt" dilemmas I face along the way.
Oh, and I'm leaving for a business/family visit trip to the mainland after the first two weeks, so I'll talk about how THAT is going to work with this new plan too.
I'm excited!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fits and Starts

Over the course of my injury rehab I was determined to stay on track with non-cardio-related activities. Well, that didn't happen, despite all of the great sports equipment I purchased (bosu, power bands, bike trainer, etc.). I tried to stay motivated, but couldn't. My usual will power left me, and I succumbed to the "just this once, have another bite, I'll just sleep in this ONE day, a little more pie won't hurt you."

Once January hit I was determined to get back on the program. I got back in the pool, I tried to start my weight lifting regimen, rode the trainer sporadically, went to physical therapy for my foot, got fitted for new running shoes, TRIED to eat clean. At least I was making some effort but I found myself frequently derailed by work responsibilities, distracted by various issues on the home front, and surrounded by the "just this one time" crowd.

So here I am now, almost at the end of February, with my official tri-training schedule to begin in a month, and not anywhere NEAR where I should be in terms of fitness.

But that's all about to change.

Part of the problem was that I didn't have an "official" interim training plan. I find that I really do best when I have everything lined up each day. I can look at my calendar and know that tomorrow I have XYZ to do and I prep to do it. I am sitting down this afternoon and planning out the rest of the week - workouts and eating plan - and see where that takes me.

I've got to concentrate on losing that "holiday 8" that I put on before my training schedule starts. I may not take it off in one month, but I can at least make a dent.

Focus starts NOW!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Masters Swimming, Manners and the Kevlar Swimsuit

I am new to swimming. Actually, new to the "sport" of swimming. In case you are new to reading my blog, I only learned how to swim properly last year. February will mark my one year anniversary as a "real swimmer."

When someone wants to learn how to swim and compete in triathlons, it is highly recommended that they join a Masters program at a nearby pool. I did just that and I still consider myself relatively new to the ins and outs of Masters swimming and "formal" swimming with a group. Which is why the events that are about to unfold below came as a total surprise to me.

First, let me say that I LOVE my Masters group. We have a great coach, the people are friendly, the pool is relatively uncrowded (usually 1-2 swimmers per lane), there is a wide age range, and most of the folks who swim are there for recreation/fitness purposes. (I'm not telling you where I swim for precisely those reasons!) Occasionally we get a visitor or two, but last week we had a couple of swimmers who are, what I call, "pro swimmers." My definition would be that these are former college athletes or elite swimmers of some sort who take their workouts very seriously. They attack the water, swim very fast, and know all the strokes.

These two were in the lane next to mine, churning up the pool and splashing all about as I obediently swam my sets. Outside of needing to keep my goggles on for kick sets so I could actually see where I was going amidst the spray, everything seemed to be working out just fine. Then, a nick here, a scrape there. He was leaking into my lane. I was slightly annoyed because I try to stay closer to the middle of my lane as I swim rather than at the lane line, but it wasn't like it was the first time I'd made some contact with another swimmer.

Then IT happened...

I started off the first of 4x100 freestyle. About halfway back down the pool on the return, I felt something hit me square in the crotch, briefly tangle in my suit bottoms, then continue going. Of course it only happened in the split second of a single stroke, but actually felt like a slow motion replay.

My head popped out of the water and I yelled, "Well, dammit!" One of the other regulars asked me what happened and I told him. He told me that happens sometimes. I told him I realized that, but it didn't make it any less startling! I made my way to the wall and the guy who did it finished his set. What really pissed me off was that he didn't even apologize. I would think, especially if you are an experienced swimmer, that you would realize when you touch something other than water, like when you grab a hand full of another person's swimsuit, you would realize it an at least apologize when you got the opportunity.

Well, he didn't.

After I told him what happened he apologized, but it felt more like an obligatory apology rather than something more sincere. Then he went on with his workout.

Everyone seemed to make light of it, but I was still pretty pissed off. Again, it wasn't so much that contact had occurred, or even the location of said contact, but the simple fact that he didn't offer up a friendly apology when he had the chance. Am I really out of line to expect that? On the couple of occasions that I've inadvertently done that, I've quickly apologized. But maybe because that's because I have manners.

He was at the next two workouts, but I paired up with another regular. It meant I had to swim on the wall, but I'd take that any day over combat swimming. And when someone asked why I wasn't swimming in my regular lane, I told them it was because, "I didn't wear my Kevlar swimsuit!" We all got a laugh out of that one.