Danskin 2011 – Registration

•November 1, 2010 • 1 Comment

All month long I’ve been complaining to my friends and family about how I feel as if I am running, constantly, to catch some goal that keeps moving.  Professionally and personally, everything seems to be going at breakneck speed.  I got an email this morning letting me know that the race registration for the Danskin Tri had opened.  I stared at the message on my screen for a minute, poleaxed, trying to figure out whether I had lost time.  Could it be that time of year already???

It was my intention, always, to do the Danskin again next year.  But, this morning’s email made me realize how short time has really become.  Just as weekends are a fleeting punctuation to the workweek, so is the winter nothing but a pause before the hell-for-leather preparation that comes before doing a triathlon.

Maybe the race producers knew this and decided to help me (yes, me, personally) with my goal-setting by opening the race earlier….?  Okay, maybe they just want to sell out the race quick so they can draw in some big time sponsors, fine.  The end result is the same:  I have to get off my ass and get moving, like NAO.

The sum total of my training so far has included a summer of CrossFit (more on that later), which ended in August with the start of the school year, and watching my husband come home from his nightly runs in training for his own marathon this January. (The fact that 4 weeks of running seems to have reversed time and transformed him back into the 27 year old I met hasn’t been as motivating for me as you might think)

And so I started asking myself, Do you really want to do this?

And the answer is, No.

Emphatically, no.

Do you want to get up early and run? No

Do you want to swim endless laps until it gets too cold to force your self into the water? No

Do you want to schedule bricks on your Saturdays while your kids are at karate or basketball? No

Do you want to have to convince yourself, during every workout, that you should not stop, should not take it easy, should not call it a day?  No

But, you’re going to do it anyway, aren’t you?  Yes

I don’t do this race because I think I can.  I do it because a part of me is convinced that I can’t… that there is no way I can carve out the time in my schedule… that I don’t have the energy… that my family will miss me too much… that it’s too expensive…

That part of me wants me to believe that what I’ve done is good enough, and that I don’t have to prove anything to anybody.  That girl is happy with the status quo.  My plan is to drown her in the swim.  And if that fails, I’ll run her over with my bike.  And if I can’t do that, I’ll leave her behind in the run.  She’s bad news, that girl.  She’ll buy you ice cream and then ask you if you’re seriously going out in that bikini.  She’ll feed you doughnuts for breakfast and teach your kids that Wii baseball is better than playing outside.  She’s remarkably resilient, and I’ll probably never be totally rid of her, but if registering in November instead of February will shut her up for an extra three months, then let me get my credit card.

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Danskin 2010 – Race Day Report

•May 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Today is the eve of my 34th birthday. The soreness from the race is gone and I’ve had a few days to get back into the grind of day to day work. Today is a day like any other, but I have found myself taking inventory – I suppose on our birthdays, it is what we are supposed to do.

Training for the Danskin was, in a way, an inventory as well. Each training day, I’d number my aches, the minutes of lost sleep, all the reasons why I didn’t have time to do this. I’d count strokes and steps and minutes and laps. When those seemed too much to do, I’d just count breaths.

Standing in the water on race day, I found myself counting women. There were about a dozen swim caps I could see in the water from the wave ahead of mine – little bobbing yellow blurs, seen without my glasses. They had to be close for me to see them, so i knew they were slow, and I knew they were scared. To my right was a woman waiting to begin her first race ever. I’d leave her behind in the first minute and never see her again. To my left were a dozen friends – chatty, grinning. excited. Ahead of me was an older woman, looking grim and determined. I counted them and cataloged them and I wondered who I was to them.

The race start took me by surprise and then we were off in a churning rush of hands and feet. There were exclamations and apologies as we sorted ourselves out and the bottom dropped out of the pond. I took a few hard strokes to test my muscles. I fought hard against the urge to sprint ahead and try to gain some ground. I felt light and sleek in the water – my body knew exactly what to do and I turned my inventory inward.

I am 34 years old – that’s thirty-four times around the sun.

I have married one man twice. Yep, twice to the same guy. We’ve been married 11 years.

I have two children. They are six and four years old. They were each delivered at 39 weeks. They were each nursed for 12 months. Neither has slept a single night all the way through.

I have totaled one car.

I have had one miscarriage.

I have traveled to five continents.

I have been to Disney 87 times.

I have five email accounts.

I have no pets.

I have two blogs, one public, one secret.

I have one sister.

I have been working at the same place for 12 years.

These thoughts carried me around the course, passing markers and swimmers. Swim angels called out to women but I pushed through because I knew none of them were talking to me. As I turned around the last large marker and headed towards the beach, I began to count the women who’d brought me to the race today.

Paula, my mother-in-law, who is cancer-free for 11 years.

Karen, a co-worker who lost her battle with cancer.

Christina, my best friend. We went to high school together, but weren’t best friends then. Cancer-free for three years, she is one week older than me. Our children say they are going to marry each other.

Merry, my high school best friend. We haven’t spoken in many years. She was diagnosed three years ago, and I do not know her status.

Magnolia, my mother’s best friend for the last 44 years. She is in the fight of her life.

Betsy, cancer-free for 30 years, with children, grandchildren, and a fiance.

Pushing hard through the water, I felt a wholeness I hadn’t really thought possible. Every stroke, every breath, reminded me that the challenge I took on in training is tiny compared to the fight these women are facing. Women like me, whose lives are filled with lists and responsibilities.

In the end, I posted a time that was faster than my training. I came out of the water nearly as fast as I had gone in, and sprinted up the beach find my team-mates. I sat on the grass and watched the women coming in to transition – elated, shaky, smiling, grim – every one of them doing her own inventory, counting the reasons to push through. I could list endlessly all the reasons why this race is a good idea, but really, I just have one reason. For me.

I hope that you did it for you.

Danskin 2010 – Race Day Registration

•May 11, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Saturday Morning: Race Registration
I had a strict time line for the morning, as I wanted to be home in time to clean up before hosting my son’s little league team. I had it scheduled like this:
8:00 pick up Paula (my team-mate)
8:10 Starbucks
8:20 hit the highway
9:05 park at Disney
9:20 wait for registration to open.

It actually went more like this:
8:00 – head out to the car with 4-year-old attached to my leg, crying
8:10 – give up and head inside to help 4-year-old change her clothes
8:15 – leave for Paula’s
8:25 – head out from Paula’s for Starbuck’s
8:30 – get a call that I had left the house with both kids’ carseats, and my son was late for karate testing
8:33 – Paula realizes she doesn’t have her photo ID in her wallet
8:40 – drop off kids carseats at home
8:43 – meet Paula’s husband in the middle of the road to handoff ID
8:50 – STARBUCKS!!!
9:00 – hit highway
9:17 – narrowly avoid firey highway death due to asshat in a Forerunner.

After all that, it was pretty smooth sailing. We arrived at Disney at about 10:00 am and inquired about parking for race registration. The attendant kindly told us to “Follow Doppy.”

um. wut?

“Follow Doppy!”

um. k thx bai.

We opted instead to follow the car in front of us, which had a road bike strapped to the trunk. This turned out to be a Good Thing. We parked, headed over to the Mears Bus and waited. Like any Disney associated event, waiting is the theme. But that’s alright – I brought my knitting. No, really. It’s a lovely merino/bamboo/silk blend in fingering weight four-ply. It’s for socks.

I had a fun time people-watching while waiting in line. It was amazing to see such an array of women, all ages, body shapes, fitness levels. Some with no makeup, some with body glitter. All a little nervous and excited that the day had FINALLY come. Registration was the usual organized chaos. With over 1200 athletes, I thought it went smoothly. We browsed a bit ($32 for a spandex running belt! o.O) before heading home to await Race Day.

Open Water – Danskin 2010 Edition

•April 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Deb Costello thoughtfully arranged for some of the women training for this year’s Danskin Orlando Tri to have a practice swim at Lake Sybelia in Maitland yesterday. Even for experienced open water swimmers, it’s important to get in there and do a race-day distance during training – if only to reassure oneself that even thought it may be exhausting, it won’t likely result in having to view replays of one’s limp form being rescued from the water over and over on the local nightly news.

Even though I have serious (SERIOUS) misgivings about lake swimming in Florida, I decided to join in. After all, I had to find out if my new red-orange-yellow suit was as fast as my son had predicted (It’s FIREY!! Like a kersplosion!!!).

I arrived at the lake 10 minutes late, coffee in hand, no breakfast, and barely conscious. True to good race training practice, I tried to recreate race-day conditions as closely as possible. No time for niceties, I whipped off my kit, donned my goggles and off we went.

The half-mile was to be a there-and-back x2 (I found out about the x2 halfway through the x1). Lake conditions were beautiful. Cool, flat, clean. The sun was still low on the horizon and, with every stroke, I prayed that we’d be done and eating bagels on the dock before the alligators decided to make their morning repast.

I started out strong – slow, but strong. It felt good to be in the water, and even though it was very chilly it was nice to me moving. (I was strongly motivated to get moving by the slimy tendrils near the dock, potentially concealing any number of crocodilians or testudinaes. I kept this bit of info to myself). My goal for the day was to do the swim without talking myself out of finishing the distance. I am my own worst enemy in training so this is a bad habit I have to constantly overcome. As we crossed the open water, I stayed in the Back of the Pack (at first this was by Choice, by about 400 meters this was by Default).

We all finished in less than half an hour. It was really valuable for me to have done this. No matter how much time I’ve spent in the open water (a lot), there is always a bit of performance anxiety coming up to an event like this. The hardest part for me is occasionally forgetting how to swim and breathe at the same time (Backstroke, for the Win) and my relentless internal monologue of doubt (I am actually moving FORWARD, right???).

The chance to sit after, eating and laughing with this wonderful group of women absolutely made my morning, and reminded me why it is that I repeatedly sign up for this torture. Volunteering to do something that seems crazy, even foolhardy, and then going out and doing it reminds me that there is no too tired/too busy/too difficult except in my own head.

Race Day reports to follow (or, you know, look for me on the evening news. You’ll be able to spot the suit)

Danskin 2010 – Adventures in Bathing Suit Purchasing

•April 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

On Sunday, after being foiled by the rain, I decided to head over to the Sports Authority to see if I could find anything suitable (ha ha) for race day. I snagged my six-year-old boy to be fashion critic, and off we went. I arrived totally thrilled to find a 40% sale on competition swimsuits! Woo hoo! Robert and I began plowing through the rack, pulling out all kinds of sizes (I haven’t worn a competition suit since high school), and Robert throwing out helpful advice (“Get this one. Mom, it looks fast!!”).

Things I have discovered.
1) I have a torso about three inches longer than the average American woman. Speedo does not want to sell anything to me.
2) TYR does their sizing different for blue swim suits. Don’t ask me why, cause I don’t know. I can only tell you that they do. Blue swimsuits are 2 inches shorter than every other color in every other size, and the leg-holes are made only for mannequins and teenagers.
3) Both TYR and Speedo assume that swimmers of all sizes are dimensioned roughly like a Cola bottle. I do not mean this figuratively. If you have a small waist, or a small bust, be prepared to buy a two piece and pay twice the $$ since they do not sell them separately and you’ll have to get two different sizes… OR
4) The only suit that will accommodate a woman with a size 8 bust and a size 14 ass is guaranteed to be the ugliest AND loudest color on the rack. By some miracle, it was not also the most expensive.

Having survived the selection process, and then the fitting process (“MOM!!! No way!!! That thing doesn’t even cover your butt!!”). We picked up a few things and headed for the register. After paying and loading purchases and kid into the car, I looked at the receipt and realized that, in her eagerness to sell me a warranty for my $5 folding chair, the young lady at the counter had forgotten to charge me for my suit. I then unloaded the kid, walked back into the store, and had to ask her to charge me money for the most-hideous-but-least-ill-fitting-suit they had. In exchange for this kindness, she got snippy with me.

I’ll debut the suit at the lake with Deb this weekend. I take comfort that, no matter what, my friends will be able to spot me in the water. 🙂

Danskin 2010

•February 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

As I prepare to do the swim portion of the Danskin Tri this year, I reflect on the Tri I did a few years ago. I posted a race report at beginnertrialthete.com. Here it is for your reading enjoyment. Just remember, girls, DFL is better than DNF. 🙂 ~Lali

Pre-race routine:

Went to the bike racking when someone helpful told us in the parking lot that we could not rack until we had checked in. Good thing before we unloaded our bikes and put them on the ferry. Checked in on Saturday, got body marked and attended a 1st timers seminar hosted by Sally Edwards. Went and racked our bikes. I practiced the walk down to start and back from the finish on the swim without my glasses since I am practically blind without them. Arrived on site at 5:45 Sunday to set up the transition. As I was going down to the waterfront to get water to rinse after the swim, they announced that all athletes had to be out of the transition area. I had a moment of panic as I did not have my goggles, cap, or timing chip on. I hurried back cause I have no idea how strict they are about that sort of thing.

Event warmup:

Walked up and down the beach and watched the other waves go out (as best I could without my glasses). Tried to get my bearings and figure out which of those blurry objects were the bouys.

Swim

Comments:

The main challege was staying oriented as I don’t have good vision w/out my glasses. Also, I feel I could have gone faster but the field was very crowded. Everyone was being so nice and polite that I didn’t want to just try and climb over people.

What would you do differently?:

Invest in prescription goggles. Next time, I will also try to get right out in front quickly.

T1

Comments:

Though I was kicking myself during the bike for taking so long, I really am glad I took my time. I needed it to calm down and get focused. Drank a bottle of Gatorade… really shouldn’t have… nearly threw up in the 1st 5 minutes of the bike leg.

What would you do differently?:

Practice the transition at home several times before race day.

Bike

Comments:

Hillier than I expected. I would have liked the distances to be marked on the course. Don’t know if this is typically done. Though I did train, I was surprised by the difficulty of the bike. Also, the course wound up being 10 miles instead of 9 like we thought when we were racing. Not having had much experience on a bike I am satisfied with my performance. I was mad that there were people passing in the no passing zone. I saw several near-collisions because people were not expecting others to try and pass. It seemed a shame to be needlessly careless like that. Otherwise, there was a lot of support and encouragement from the other women.

What would you do differently?:

Rent a road bike for training and racing. Possibly look into buying one used.

T2

Comments:

I was under the gun cause the cut off to start the run was about 10 minutes away when I got to the dismount point. I really wanted to get moving, but of course my legs were not cooperating. My friend waited for me even though she got in to T2 2 minutes ahead of me. What a pal!

What would you do differently?:

Bike faster!

Run

Comments:

I knew this would be my weakest area. But, I had the comfort of knowing that I could go as slow as I wanted (unlike the bike)! As we exited the park heading up to the finish line, I saw my husband and my son waving to me! It was a big boost as I finished the race. If it were not for my racing friend, I could not have finished this part on my own. She was a huge motivation for me and very supportive.

What would you do differently?:

Running is the worst for me so I just needed to train more. I need to get a running partner cause I find it hard to push myself on the run when I am alone.

Post race

Warm down:

Walked up and down the transition area… stepped in a hole, fell on my face.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

My big a**. Now that I know what I will feel like during the race, I understand where my training fell short. I just did not push hard enough during my training sessions.