And so it begins…

I’ve had a busy few weeks, recently, including the end of one of the most tedious semester of my graduate career, the adoption of a new fur kid, some serious dissertation edits and the beginning of my triathlon season!

First off, meet Clover:

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Look at that face!  Of course, this was before she was banned from all furniture for a minimum of a month due to her overwhelming need to assert dominance over the entire household.  Well, mostly me and Tibby.  She rather ignores my hubby with it comes to the chain of command.
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One big happy family!  Well, until she started aggressively chasing my little Tibby off of the couch and the bed.  Let me tell you, the first night of not allowing her to sleep on the bed with us with a long night… about 4 hours of sleep for me.  She seems to have accepted her fate, now, though.  Oh, and I’m a secret operative for the CIA, though apparently not a very good one.

We brought Clover (previously known as Chloe) home from the SPCA on the 24th of April.  The first weekend with her was pretty rough – lots of adjusting to do and after spending about 40 minutes on the phone with the trainer who handled her at the SPCA, we’ve been doing much better.  Turns out she’s a bit of a runner herself.  We’ve been taking turns walk/running her and her behavior improved immensely once she was well-exercised and banished from furniture.  Behavior-dependent, we’ll gradually reintroduce her to sharing our furniture in a month or so.  On the plus side, she’s entirely house broken!

We had been visiting Clover at the SPCA for about a month and some change before she finally became available for adoption.  She had a number of issues that prevented her from interacting with non-employees for quite a while.  We were definitely ready for her once they were prepared to let us have her, but the timing wasn’t superb since only a little over a week after bringing her home, we had to kennel her with Tibby so that we could both go race (different races) this last week.  I raced the MonticellMan Olympic distance triathlon in Charlottesville, VA and my husband raced the Broadstreet 10 miler up in Philly.

So, on to the race report for the first triathlon of the season:

First, I rode up with my friend, Bill.  You may remember my post several months ago regarding Bill’s unfortunate accident when he was hit by a car while riding his bike.  Bill isn’t able to run yet and his biking is still limited but he has been able to swim so he jumped in as the swim participant in a relay team this weekend!  I know it killed him to be unable to race the entire course but it was so great to have him back out there!  Welcome back to racing, Bill! 🙂  You’ll be kicking our tushes before you know it!

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Bill being Bill…

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Aaaaand Bill STILL being Bill… haha

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Our good friend, Bryan, also came out to race.  This was his first Olympic distance and long tri event EVER! 😀  He took a tumble over his handle bars toward the end of the bike and ended up breaking his hand but this hard core fella still finished the race and had a pretty good run time, too!  Not to shabby for guy who was told just a few years ago that he would never run, again!

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And Coach and Denise made it up for the race, too!  I didn’t get a picture with Denise… I think somebody got a group photo but I haven’t seen it, yet.  Anywho, she was a great help as always.  She was there at the finish to hand me water (even opened my bottle for me) and she bossed Bryan around after the race when his hand was all swollen and he needed some bossing. 🙂

So… the race itself was quite interesting.  For those of you who don’t remember or weren’t following my blog this time a year ago, this was also my first race last season and I had a rather significant “panic attack” during the first few hundred meters of the swim.  I was briefly convinced that I was not capable of swimming the distance and that I would soon drown if somebody didn’t fish me out of the water.  I pulled it together and regrouped for the rest of the race but it really made me aware of how insecure I feel in the water!  This year was a totally different story.  I made sure to get in the water beforehand for the “pre swim” and got a feel for the water and my wet suit, etc.  I felt pretty confident starting off in the swim and since the water was relatively clear, I could occasionally glimpse at my watch.  I was thrilled to see that a 1:37-1:41/100 yards pace on my watch whenever I glanced!  I was feeling comfortable and confident and I was looking to PR!  That’s no crazy fast swim but for me that is quite a good pace to maintain for 1500 m.  I was estimating my finish time and was surprised when I was still in the water and quite a ways away from the swim exit when I thought I would be done.  At first, I wondering if my Garmin was just really off or if I had just taken a long route on accident… but that would be WAY off for my Garmin and I hugged every single buoy on the course.  I confirmed with others at the race’s end and the swim course was, in fact, long.  My watch said that I swam 1.07 miles so my time was actually about the same as last year’s time but I KNOW my pace was quite better.  That’s very exciting because I’ve been working really hard with swim coach Juliet on improving and it’s finally starting to show some results! 🙂

T1 was uneventful and I was off on my bike.  Oh, and with my new aero helmet, the GIRO Air Attack with the Visor from Final Kick Sports!  I am in love with this helmet.  It fit like a glove and I had much improved visibility with the visor instead of my sunglasses!  Anywho, the first half of the bike was painful – lots of tough hills and into the wind.  There is also a “no pass” zone going down a steep hill toward the beginning of the race and I spent the first half of the race passing large clumps of cyclists and not going at a super high speed.  The second half of the course was a bit better, partly because I had already passed the large clumps of cyclists and partly because the head wind turned into a side wind or a tail wind for the rest of the course.  🙂  I was making good time for the majority of those miles, though I was stuck, on several occasions, behind vehicular traffic.  Of course, the vehicles were going at a slower pace because of the cyclists in front of them going at a slower pace – at one point, I was having to brake on a downhill and was only doing about 12mph.  That definitely hurt my pace/time and really it made the bike harder because I wasn’t able to just maintain a consistent speed – I had to keep slowing down and speeding back up.  That happened about three times from what I can remember (being stuck behind a slower vehicle) and for almost a mile or more each time.  One truck did slide over and give me room to pass on the right and I was very appreciative!

T2… well, it was quick but it was chaos for me.  I realized later that I had spent time visualizing my swim to bike transition but I hadn’t spent time mentally going through my bike to run transition.  I don’t know why that happened but it did and the results were not so awesome.  First I miscounted the bike racks and had to walk back to my bike rack, then I couldn’t get my bike to stay on the rack.  Then, I was already running away from my set up and I went back for my garmin, which I had left on my bike.  As soon as I did it, I thought “WHY did I do that?!”  But I did it. Ha.  I should have just run without my garmin but oh well.  I also forgot my little back of salt sticks that I intended to take with me and pop on the run.  It was pretty warm out and we hadn’t had a lot of warm weather yet so I wasn’t really used to the temperature rise, yet.  I’m not sure if that is WHY my run didn’t go well, but I know that I was DEFINITELY feeling overheated on the run.  All I could think about for the last two miles was drinking cold water when I finished.  My head felt like it was on fire and I had a headache for basically the entire day after I finished the run.  I was well-hydrated with water, coconut water, pedialite and accelorade.  I also took a salt tab at dinner the night before and with breakfast but I’ve found that taking them during my races has been very helpful.  Anyway, for whatever reason, my run was slower than last year and I was pretty much miserable the entire time.

Looking back, that’s really the only part of my race that didn’t show improvement.  If I hadn’t gotten slower on the run and a bit confused in T2 then I probably would have had almost the exact same finish time as last year.  If I hadn’t gotten stuck behind cars and the swim course hadn’t been long then I probably would have had a faster time.  I was disappointed at first but once I looked at it more carefully, I think there’s a lot of positive data here about my fitness level and my racing abilities.  My swim PACE was far faster than last year (about 20 second per 100m if you’re going by meters, which I usually do but my watch showed yards) and my bike pace went from a 20.09 from last year to a 20.6 and that was even WITH those cars.  My goal for Nationals would require me to take a LOT of time off of my current Olympic distance PR.  Nationals is only a few months away and I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull it off but I can say that the Monticelloman race is a challenging course with lots of hills and unique issues with traffic.  Taking all of that into consideration, I think there’s still hoping for lopping some time off before August.  For now, 3rd in my AG at MonticelloMan with lots of work ahead.

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Last year they gave away pint glasses AND beer… this year, just the pint glass.  Oh well. 🙂 Love my comfy post-race Betty Designs shirt!

OOooh and my husband had an AWE-SOME race in Philly!  He finished 15th overall in a race of about 40k people!  He PR’d his 10 miler with a time of 51:49.  He’s sort of amazing. 🙂

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With a shiny, new PR!

Well, enough of that… time to get training! 🙂  I am a Betty, after all!

 P.S.  I met my goal of raising at least $800 for Girls on the Run with a total of $840 before I raced this weekend!  If you’d like to donate and haven’t yet, I’m going to leave it open for another few days.  Don’t forget, donating could get you one of three Betty Designs prize packs:

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Donate HERE!

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