Busy, busy

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic.

Research: I have been working on two manuscripts (one was rejected! ouch.. and the other hasn’t yet been submitted) and I started yesterday on a review paper. I am going to approach the review paper differently than the previous five papers I’ve put together: I am going to use an outline! Should take the stress away and help me target my topic sentences, anyway.

Opportunities are opening up for me, though. I turned down a job in Royal Oak recently because I want to focus on finishing my degree sooner than later, and Tammy is convinced that by Sept 2010, I will be graduated. I don’t know about that though. Anyway, we are going to be designing a unique drug-delivery device, and I start working on that on Wednesday. Pretty sweet, I say.

Race team
: I applied last month to be a member of Team Trakkers, a GPS-based company who are in their pre-release stages of product development. They haven’t released their product to the open market yet, so as an athlete I’d be able to use state-of-the-art devices that track where I am in realtime along the course, no matter what race. I am one of fifty finalists in the running for their team, which is really exciting. They will only be selecting 10 or so athletes, though, so my chances are still pretty tough. Regardless, I think it would be really cool to share the real-time data-logging experience with my family, especially when they can’t travel with me to all my races. I would likely have one already if the product was on the market. I have a wristwatch GPS but no one can see my data until after I upload it, and sometimes that can take a while… So, here’s to hoping that I make the team! To be able to have a tracking tool on my first ultra marathon would be really interesting… my teammates could share in the experience!

Team Mega Tough: Speaking of teammates… I’ve also been tackling the feat of approaching potential sponsors for support during the 2010 season for Team Mega Tough. It was fun to see how everyone did in the last year or racing by compiling it all in one single document! And, it was really motivating to see what each of our goals are for 2010. I hope that we will be able to do some really fun events together. Right now, we’re really hoping to get sponsors to help us with having uniforms and gear, like headlamps, water-bottle carriers, and nutrition. I also had an idea of forming an “ultra-relay” event up here in the Keweenaw as a type of reunion for previous Michigan Tech runners, and people could do the relay in teams of 12 or less. I approached Ragnar about it but haven’t heard back, so we might just try it without advertising too much, get some local teams involved, and see what happens. How cool would that be? I have a few routes in mind.

Organizing a Triathlon: I’m also really getting the ball rolling on the Kuparisaari Triathlon. The registration site is up, but our website isn’t yet. I meet today with our logo/web designer. We are hopefully going to have some big sponsors. We already have Hammer Nutrition on board… I need to talk to the local community more to figure out course logistics (there will be some major construction going on where we wanted to have the swim start, so now we have to find a different place…). It’ll work out, though.

So that’s that.

Be Safe Out There

While training this summer for triathlon, I was out on the road a lot by myself. I couldn’t always keep up with the guys, and I wouldn’t always call a friend to go for ride right after work. When I’d have Women’s Cycling Nights in Lake Linden, I’d ride the ten miles or so up to the Rehab center on the crazy-scary-sketchy highway with gravel shoulders and angry drivers.

Anyway, it really got me thinking about my own safety. So Adam and I forked over 30 bucks each and got a RoadID.

What is it?
Road ID is a band you wear around your wrist or ankle. Road ID also make tags you can put on your shoe.

Why do I need this?
So if something happens to you out on the road, you’ll be identifiable.

I always run/bike/ski with my phone. Why would I get one of these?
Because it’s strapped to your body. When I bike, I put my phone in my jersey pocket. If I get hit by a car, my phone can easily get knocked out. Plus, if I were to crash on my bike and land on my phone, it might break- and then what? Even if you always bike with your driver’s license, that can fall out of your pocket, too. Also, your RoadID can display any information on it you deem as important. Got asthma? Have it typed on there. Have an allergy to bee stings? That can be on there, too. You get to type on there whatever you want!

What if I get one of these and then move? The info isn’t valid anymore.
Replacement IDs are nearly half the cost of getting an entirely new ID.

Adam and I have the Elite bands, which have a metal clasp and a rubbery band. Super comfy, and I barely notice it when I am out running and riding. I almost got the ankle ID because it has reflective banding on it, but since I wear pants all winter (and winter is 6+ months of the year…), I thought the wrist ID would be a better go.

Now that the season is changing, the snow will soon fly (well, I guess it already has), and the days are getting shorter and shorter, the importance of this little tool has really been underlined.

So, I just ordered a few gift cards and hats for giveaways at this year’s New Year’s Eve Fun Run and Walk in Hancock. With my order, I got a coupon for $1 off orders. It can be used up to 20 times in the next 30 days, so if you were thinking about getting one of these, now is the time.

You can also use the code: PCLEVI for an additional discount and 100% of the sale’s profit go to Levi Leipheimer’s charities. I don’t know how long this discount will last! Click here to order!

My code for $1 off is: ThanksMegan558805

Who’s Your Favorite Female Athlete?

Here’s the results of my “poll”- more like survey, since no two people had the same favorite female athlete!!

Kerryn McCann (Australia)-Dual Gold Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist, 11th place in 2000 Olympics, a Marathoner, a Mum, a wife, an inspiration who sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2008.” -blogger from WTS

Paula Radcliffe – less than 10 months after giving birth to her first child, she won the New York Marathon. This was controversial for some, but very empowering for many others. She is a World Champ in half marathon and full marathon, and has won NYC marathon 3 times.

Kathrine Switzer – A pioneer to women’s marathon running, she was the first woman to officially enter the Boston Marathon.

Grete Waitz– Won 9 NYC marathons, more than any other woman in history. World champ, Olympic medalist. She also does charity work for Special Olympics and CARE. Thanks for telling me about her, Tom!

Chrissie Wellington
– making the boys out in the triathlon world look over their shoulders… or straight ahead, because she’s passed most of them.

Beckie Scott– not a runner, but one helluva good XC skier! And she’s super-involved as a humanitarian as well as keeping dopers out of the sport.

Dara Torres– Incredible swimmer who has competed in 5 Olympics, got silver in three events at the age of 41.

Nancy Lieberman – “simply due to her dedication to her sport and its athletes long after she’s done playing. What a role model.” – Megan from WTS

Michelle Timms – elected to Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008 and won gold at 1996 Olympics!

Tanisha Wright – This girl is younger than me! She’s a professional WNBA player in Seattle.

Michelle Akers – Michelle was a member of the famous 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup team after being a 4-time All American in college.

Who is my favorite female athlete? Perhaps I have too many to name. I really look up to my friend Karin, who is shooting for a spot in the 2010 Winter Olympics for Nordic skiing. I’ve met some really awesome women who do outstanding things, like Devon Crosby-Helms (ultrarunner) and Linsey Corbin (Ironman). Additionally, Chrissie Wellington is a role model for any young girl that is interested in endurance sports, and she’s always got a smile on her face! I also look up to all the women that follow their dream to do big things.

Five States Down: 45 To Go

I’ve now completed a marathon in five states since I started running marathons two years ago.

Since Columbus was so much fun, I thought it might be worthwhile to have a rundown of the races I’ve done. What marathon has been my favorite so far? Which was the most beautiful? I hope that this will help me keep track later on, so I will make an update after every 5 marathons.

Napa Valley Marathon- March 2007 (3:22); my first marathon couldn’t have been much better than this one in California. The course was mostly on a downhill grade, and was mostly on a single road that weaved through wine country. Gorgeous!! Post race food was a little different than others and included vegetable and chicken soups, and there were free massages. Great medals and swag; long sleeved dry-wicking t-shirts and a really cool duffle bag! Winner (Devon Crosby-Helms) took home her weight in wine. Now THAT is a sweet prize. The trip to Napa was nice, but long, because my friend Marc and I did it on the cheap. Stayed in a crappy motel (pretty sure there was blood on the walls…), broke his fan belt about 40miles from the expo (and almost missed packet pickup), and then had to drive 15hours back to SLC the next day… but it was totally worth it!Whidbey Island Marathon: My second marathon (3:31 was in scenic northwest Washington. I originally planned to run this marathon with one of my best friends and former roommate, Katie, but she got injured during training. I rode up to the island with some of her med school friends that were doing the race and met up with Marc again for a running reunion. I was disappointed in the expo- we arrived around 530pm (the expo went from noon-7pm or something like that…) and they were out of my size shirt. I stayed at a hotel about three miles from the bus pickup and waited for someone in the hotel to come down for breakfast, and I just asked for a ride then (my pseudo-hitchhiking talents). The island of Whidbey was beautiful, but we didn’t get to run over Deception Pass (luckily, one of my MegaTough teammates did at the 2008 Ragnar Relay). It was great weather, and the course was challenging. Lots of steep hills in the first half, and the second had a downhill that I wasn’t prepared for. I had stripped my layers throughout the race, but when I crossed the line, it had started to rain and was ~40degrees. Yet, I didn’t get an emergency blanket. I was bummed about the post-race food (bags of uncooked pasta, hemp-flavored oatmeal, and hot chocolate- but you had to buy the hot chocolate). We didn’t stick around for the awards. Also had to pay for massages.

Lincoln National Guard Marathon- My third marathon (3:38) in Nebraska was the largest marathon I had done at that point. It was a blast! I stayed with my friend Sarah in Omaha and some other midwest friends came too, and we got a hotel the night before in Lincoln. Although I felt like crap during the race (having got sick about three weeks prior) and didn’t run the time I was shooting for, I still had a blast. The first half was gorgeous and wound through some beautiful neighborhoods. The second half was a little more lonely but had a turn-around in a park. It was a little hillier of a course than I expected, but it wasn’t bad… I just wasn’t on my game that day. Post race was outstanding; Great massages with practically no line, nice short-sleeve shirts, cool medals, incredibly helpful volunteers.

IM Wisconsin, Marathon leg- My “fourth” marathon (4:11) was at the end of the Ironman Wisconsin, but I am counting it until I get a chance to do another marathon in Wisconsin. Of course, it was a blast and a lot of fun. Something regular marathon races should consider having at aid stations: Coca-Cola!!! I love it. I stopped and walked through every aid station besides the last two. The crowds were, of course, phenomenal. And post race swag, considering the $550 entry fee, was worth it. I got a hat, a shirt, a medal, and the glory because I am now an Ironman.

Columbus Marathon- My fifth marathon (3:19) in Ohio was the latest and greatest. I stayed with my friend Kendra in Columbus the night before the race, after driving down to Monroe on Friday. The expo was the largest I’d seen yet, and it had a lot of really cool stuff. I didn’t dilly-dally too much, though. Nice shirts, and the use of D-Tags made crossing the finish line a lot less crowded. Even though we started with 15000 people, it cleared out pretty fast. Great aid stations, and very frequent (every mile). Awesome race entertainment (bands every half mile it seemed). Great post-race swag (hats, medals) and free massages and food (although the massager I had was a little less aggressive than I wanted). TweetMyTime was awesome! They were trying something brand new, and it totally worked.

Here is my ranking thus far:
#5: Whidbey Island- not as organized as I would have liked.
#4: Lincoln National Guard- The top four are pretty close together, but I think this one takes the bottom because I wasn’t happy with how I performed
#3: IM Wisconsin- a two-loop course made spectating easy
#2: Napa Valley
#1: Columbus

The top 2 are really close, and the tie breaker was the entry fee and technology. Columbus was cheaper ($70 opposed to $90). Swag was a little better at Napa, but… I think the fact that I got a free entry and CBus had TweetMyTime really pushed them over the top.

Columbus Marathon: Complete Race Report

I decided to do the Columbus Marathon before I competed at IMoo, because I was lucky enough to win a free entry through Racevine. Even if I hadn’t won an entry, I can honestly say that it would have been well beyond worth the entry fee. I’ll get to that later.

I drove down from Houghton to Monroe on Friday and had dinner with my mom, sister, their kids, my grandparents, and my uncle. My mom made mostaciolli and had some rice pasta and sauce left for me. Delicious! I slept in… not too late… and went shopping for interview clothes in the morning with my cousin after playing with my nephew, Seth. I headed to Columbus around 1230pm, and missed my exit off I75. That tacked on about an hour to my drive, but I made it down to Kendra and Tom’s by 430pm and we went to the expo.

The expo was much bigger than any other expo I’d been to before. I thought Lincoln National Guard’s was big, but I guess this is what I get when I race against 15,000 competitors! We picked up our packets, bibs, D-tags, and race shirts, and bought a couple packs of orange burst Gu from a running shop (I had left my Honey packets at home). Then, we stopped at Whole Foods to grab some dinner and headed back to their house. I took my frozen pizza from Whole Foods with me over to my cousin’s (Jenny) place and met her 3-month old baby, Sophia, for the first time! So cute. After eating, I went back to Kendra’s, went for a quick run, and got ready for the morning. I was in bed by 930, and slept like a baby. A happy baby.

I woke up before my alarm, which was nice. Halfway through the night, the vial of concentrated Nuun that I had made for race day exploded. I used an old tube of Nuun filled with water and put one tablet of Kona Kola in it. I let it sit out for about an hour before putting the cap on it when I went to bed, but apparently that wasn’t long enough. I woke up to a loud “POP!” at 2am and then had a dream that the Nuun spilled all over Kendra’s dresser. Luckily, that didn’t really happen, but the top did explosively pop off and hit the ceiling. No damage was seen.

After I woke up, I ate a bowl of cereal, drank some nuun, and packed my race food. My race food was a bulging wad of fruit snack that was a little cumbersome in my shorts pocket. I would remedy this later… I took in some caffeine so I didn’t get a headache, especially since I hadn’t weened myself off caffeine whatsoever. [I don’t think I will ever do the “weening” thing again, after having a terrible race in Lincoln in May]

We got in the car and headed to the race around 630, and it was about four blocks to the race start. We stopped by the Convention Center for a bathroom pitstop before heading to the race start, and then hit the portapotties one last time when we arrived. I threw my bag in the big truck (that was really convenient) and Kendra and I headed to find a spot between the 3:20 and 3:30 pace groups.

The race started on time, and I crossed the starting line about a minute after the race clock started. The first mile was relaxed, slow, weaving around people, 7:57. Slower than I wanted, but I tried to stay relaxed. Kendra made a comment that there were something like 40-50 bands along the course, and we started to see and hear them rather quickly. Every major intersection had someone playing an instrument. It was distracting, which was a good thing.

The start was the most crowded start I’ve experienced yet, with 15,000 runners (half marathoners and marathoners started at the same time). Eventually, the crowd cleared a little and I could see the 3:20 pace group ahead and we stuck behind it at a constant distance for the a few miles. Kendra and I hung at 7:31 for mile 2. Where I wanted to be, but I also knew that I had to pick off 20seconds from the slow first mile. I paid attention to my breathing, and mile 3 had some downhill, so we rolled out our third mile at 7:21. I tried to keep the next three miles right at 7:30s, but the speed varied depending on turns and crowds. We eventually caught up to and got around the 3:20 pace group and I felt good being ahead of the crowd because I could see the road and the race in front of me. However, the pace group did a great job of blocking the wind. Win some, lose some, I suppose! I took some chews exactly at 30minutes and stuffed my food in my sports bra (my shorts pocket kept spilling its contents, and having chews in my underwear was not the most comfortable feeling).

Eventually, Kendra and I split up (around the 10K) and I comfortably sat at 7:20-25s until the half. I felt good and ate some more of my chews. I tried to not let my 12th mile get too fast because of all the half marathoners passing me, so I ate the rest of my chews and was smiling as I ran through the spectator-lined main street. Once the half marathoners split off, the road cleared even more, and it just got quiet. The music bands were a great distraction again. I caught up with a guy exiting the portapotty and we secured the 7:30s for a few miles. There were a few gradual uphills between miles 15-18. I decided to turn it up a notch to see what I could do, and I increased my turnover. My mile 17 was a little fast (7:06), but I didn’t know it at the time because I missed my split. I knew it was faster, but I thought that it wasmaybe a 7:15. Then, I started to feel a mini bonk coming over me, and I quickly reached for my rescue Gu in my shirt pocket. I felt the bonk mostly as a factor for my legs and head, aerobically I still felt great. The bonk disappeared and I was on track for a 3:15. Mile 18 was back on to 730s, but I then started to feel a twinge in my hamstring as I started mile 19. I tried to focus on running upright, forward, using my arms. The pain would subside, but then I think I would lose my form again, and the pain would return. I started to develop a limp, and it hurt to push off with my left foot. My stride shortened substantially, and I started to fall apart.
I struggled to keep my pace at 8s. When I would recuperate my form, and look at my GPS, I was around 740min/miles. But, thirty seconds later when I started to slouch, the pain would return and I was running 8:15s. At mile 20, I thought to myself that I could still run a 50min 10K and PR. I am not sure if this thought spoiled my race, but while I was running, I was in pain. I knew that I needed to keep moving forward and that the 6.2miles would be over before I knew it. And they were.

Rolling into the finish felt good because the last 1/4 mile was all downhill. I felt my adductor muscles tighten as soon as I crossed the line, but it felt good to be done. My time was 3:19:51, which is 2 minutes, 20seconds faster than my previous best (my first marathon; Napa Valley).

Mentally, I think I have work to do on my last 10K. Also, I wore my ST3s, and although they made me feel fast for the first 20miles, I wonder if they just weren’t enough support for the 26.2. That thought crossed my mind too, and I probably started to make excuses for myself during the race without realizing it. I thought: “Had I worn my Trances, I might not have biomechanically fallen apart.” I was really happy with how I did, though, and I felt good even though I didn’t quite make my ultimate goal of 3:15. My clothing was perfect. The temperature was ~35F when we started, and with all the people, I avoided the cool breeze and kept warm. I wore gloves until around mile 19, and kept my longsleeve on the whole time. I was comfortable temperature wise the whole time.

The race was phenomenal. The music was a great part of the race atmosphere. The spectators were awesome, and the other people racing were very encouraging. Not too many people wearing iPods, which I found to be a relief. When I crossed the finish line, I was immediately given a space blanket and medal (really cool “spinner” medal with color paint on it). I then got a finisher’s hat (fleece) and was corralled to the massage room. Although the massages were disappointing, it was nice to be able to sit around. I went to get my pre-race clothes bag and it was really easy to find. I put on a few layers, found Kendra and Tom, and then we left to get lunch from PF Changs.

What I wore:
Brooks ST3s
Brooks Podium shorts
Brooks PR T
Brooks Equilibrium long sleeve top
Brooks runner PED socks
Brooks Run Happy hat
Cheap (99cent) cotton gloves

What I ate:
Pre race: Envirokids Panda Puffs (a bowl-full, plus a handful, so probably 2-3 cups), 2tablets of Kona Kola Nuun (caffeine) in 1liter water
Race: 2 packets of Honey Stinger chews, Pomegranate and Mixed Fruit (I emptied two packets in saran wrap), 1 Orange burst Gu (with caffeine), Gatorade Endurance on course after mile 17, water at every other station

New things about the race I hadn’t experienced before:
-I had never used D-Tags before. Very easy to use. Just don’t crease them!!
-TweetMyTime was really nice because it synced with both my Twitter and Facebook. My friends could see how I was doing at the 10K, half, 20mile, and finish!
-Lots of race photos; I didn’t see many cameras out on the course, but I had six or seven photos from the race.

Columbus Marathon: Brief Race Report

I thought I’d let ya’ll know how the Columbus Marathon went real quick-like. 14,000 racers started together on the 35degree Sunday morning. It was great, I was dressed perfectly in a long sleeve and shorts.

I finished in 3:19:51, over 2minutes faster than my previous best, and good for 15th in my AG and 56th overall. It was a competitive, fast course and I felt really good about the race. Toward the end, I’d lose focus and fall apart biomechanically. Cardiovascularly, though- I felt amazing! I had a minibonk around mile 18. Needless to say, my last 10K was a little rough. I had the right mentality for most of the race, though, and really felt it was my strongest marathon yet. Still, I know what to work on for next time, though!

I’ll write a more thorough race report later. Gotta go to work now!!

Ready to run…

The Columbus Marathon is on Sunday. I’m leaving for downstate tomorrow morning, going to wave hello to the Mackinac Bridge, and will hopefully miss the rush hour traffic of Detroit and Ann Arbor. Saturday morning will be a relaxed departure from my parents’ home in Monroe to my friend Kendra’s place, right in the heart of Columbus. We’re going to pick up our race packets and then?… I will get to see my cousin and her newborn baby, hang out with one of my awesome MegaTough teammates, and just chill out for the evening. I have a lackadaisical attitude about the whole thing, and I’m not sure if that is good or bad. Columbus isn’t my “A” race (that designation was given to IMoo), but – of course- I still want to do well. I was hesitant to set any steep goals, but the way training has been going and how I’ve been feeling the last four weeks, I thought, what the hell.

My goals:
A- Finish around 3:15. This is seven minutes faster than my PR, mind you.
B- Finish under 3:30. That would make Columbus at least my second-fastest marathon.

If I don’t complete “C”, I will be disappointed. I will probably still be a little bummed if I don’t get goal “B” as well, but I guess I can’t really predict what will happen on race day. It could blizzard… or something worse.

How am I going to try and reach my “A” goal? Here’s my race day strategy:

-Settle into a good rhythm, focus on form and breathing
-Go out the first around 47min. Not too much faster than that (7:30-7:35s)
-Get to half around 1:38-39. Again, not too much faster than that. (same pace)
-Second half needs to be in 1:36, so after halfway, pick up pace to 7:20-25s.
-Last 10K, hopefully have enough in the tank to give’r a little more. 7:15-20s.

I think it’s doable. We’ll see on Sunday!

Bicycling Mag’s take on gluten free diets

I posted the following topic on Slowtwitch this afternoon, but I thought it could also serve as an entry for this blog! Let me know your thoughts!

I follow a gluten free diet. There are at least a handful of pros that do, too (rappstar, Brandon and Amy Marsh, etc). Which means there is probably a good chance that several of my fellow STers do, too.

I got my Bicycling Magazine yesterday and was a bit annoyed by the article “The Word on Wheat”:

Other than the lack of transition in this article, I found the article misleading (and somewhat annoying). It kind of gave me the impression that, unless you are diagnosed with Celiac disease or a wheat allergy (or a chiropractor tells you to to try a gluten free diet), then you should just keep plugging away at that plate of linguini. The bottom of the article in print (not on the website) displayed a list of gluten free foods that are available, and the reviews of these made it sound like gluten-free food was … “meh”.

What really got my panties in a bunch was this:
“…according to Julie Miller Jones, PhD, a nutritionist and advisory board member of the Grain Foods Foundation, gluten-free diets often lack a host of nutrients typically found in whole-grain wheat products such as vitamins B and D, calcium, iron, zinc, folate and magnesium. And because cyclists rely on the carbohydrates found in many wheat-based foods to pound out miles, it’s important to know if you’re a good candidate to go gluten free, or if you should just keep digging into that linguini.”

First– Dr Miller Jones is an advisor for the Grain Foods Foundation (http://www.gowiththegrain.org/). Conflict of interest, anyone? And brown rice actually has more magnesium, Vit B5, and Vit B6 per calorie than whole wheat bread. (http://www.vitalhealthzone.com/nutrition/food-values and yes, I did the math). Plus, are you more apt to eating five slices of bread, or half cup of rice? Because calorically, that is approximately the equivalent (remember, calories are good for endurance athletes).
Second– You can still have linguini if your gluten free. I actually find that I like the taste of rice noodles better than regular ones (especially whole wheat ones, bllllah). And who ever said rice was worse for you than bleached white flour?
Third– Being gluten free by choice, not by medical prescription, for a lot of people comes down to wanting to make the right decisions about the diet one is following, and paying close attention to what goes into the body. Thus, people who do it because of their potential nonceliac gluten intolerance (or just because they want to do it) are probably following the diet closely and paying attention to the foods they are putting into their body moreso than folks who follow a regular-ol’ run-of-the-mill diet. I, for one, have found that I eat a lot more whole foods now that I am gluten free, and I cook more frequently for myself (because going out to eat in Houghton is nearly impossible for someone on my diet). I pay much closer attention to the ingredient labels than before I was gluten free. For example, I have practically cut out cereal from my diet (barley malt extract is in just about everything), I no longer have a stash of Triscuits in my desk drawer, and I don’t eat pork products anymore (except nitrite free bacon) because eating pork makes me sick. Maybe the injectable crap they put in pork roasts contains wheat? I wouldn’t doubt it.

Anyway, I just wanted to get your thoughts on the matter. Am I just being silly and getting worked up by misreading the article, or does the article mislead the reader to thinking that gluten free diets for people not diagnosed with Celiac or non-Celiac gluten intolerance are a gimmick?

Things I Didn’t Know Before I Turned Tri

Before I started training for my first season of triathlon (“A” race: Ironman Wisconsin), I had this skewed sense of who a triathlete really was. The only triathletes I had met in real life (prior to meeting Ian) were perfectionists with (dare I say) obsessive-compulsive predispositions. Highly organized (unlike me), meticulous (again, not a trait I hold), serious-all-the-time, can’t-eat-anything-that-isn’t-raw,-green,-or-from-Hammer-Nutrition, and (definitely unlike me) had a lot of money to spend on the sport. Had I known then what I know now, I may have given triathlon a shot a long time ago.

Here are some things I have learned in the last year that I didn’t know before I turned tri:

  1. Triathletes are well-balanced individuals. Physically and Mentally. Not only do they have strong core muscles (from all that swimming), they have strong legs and arms, too. Their backs and abs are strong and tight. AND, they do one helluva job at managing their time. Who else do you know tries to do three sports in one day on a regular basis? The majority of triathletes are moms, dads, college-graduates-with-day-jobs, and yet they still find time to train and race on a regular basis.
  2. Triathletes are perfectionists. Huh. I already knew that. But not the “perfectionist” that I think of with a negative connotation. They are the GOOD kind of perfectionist. They have to be. They gotta fuel right, which means they have to consume the right kind of foods for proper recovery and performance. Shopping lists are taken everywhere! They have to make sure that race-day nutrition is taken care of by meticulous planning and preparation. They have to take care of their body when they aren’t out there destroying it on hills and mile repeats, so they see massage therapists twice a week. They follow a strict schedule: train, eat, (desk-job?), sleep, train, eat, sleep (and they gotta be in bed by 9pm every night [well, not all. and the ones that do, it’s not always by choice]).
  3. Triathletes have a unique form of A.D.D. I mean this in the nicest way possible. When I started training for Ironman, I thought to myself: There’s no way I am going to be able to mentally cram in all that training from all those sports. But then I realized, when I get bored with swimming, I can go for a run. When I’m sore from running, a long spin is the best recovery! And when I’m just tired of all three, well… it’s a rest day!
  4. Triathletes love technology. Maybe this is why I like triathletes so much more now. They’re total data junkies! I’d be curious about the percentage of triathletes that have a science and engineering background. My guess: somewhere around 95%. I could see a peer-reviewed paper coming out of that study! I’ve never heard so many people talk about varied yaw angles, wind tunnels, carbon fiber, and strain gauges on cantilever beams (think: cranksets) in a single conversation. And I never thought I’d say this, but – just like C++ and Linux- I can speak TSS*.
  5. Triathletes love to travel. Who doesn’t? There’s an Ironman 140.6 in New Zealand, South Africa, Malaysia, and of course… Hawai’i! Additionally: Triathletes are incredibly organized when it comes to traveling! For example, try getting your bike, wheels, nutrition, week’s-worth of clothes, and running shoes (race and trainers) out to Kona with you on the plane. I’d like to see Barbie and her pink convertible figure that one out.
  6. Triathletes are brutal. There’s nothing quite like getting kicked, punched, and smacked just thirty-seconds into an event… unless you’re an MMA fighter. I thought I hated MMA fighting. But it isn’t just the folks that are out there hitting you during the swim. It’s the folks out there just givin’er on the bike when it’s raining buckets, racing just weeks after breaking bones, and generally just putting the hurt on men and women alike.
  7. Triathletes come in all shapes and sizes. Not everyone at the race is Chuck Norris. There are people out there for their first time, seeing what they can do. There are people who use triathlon as a goal to lose weight, and it works! There are people that, when you see them on the beach, your first thought is: “Well, crap, there goes my chances at doing well in my age group…” and then you see them again on the bike as you pass them up a hill.
  8. Not all triathletes are competitive. I didn’t know this. I always thought triathletes were really gung-ho, gotta-kick-ass-and-take-names type of people. You know what I mean? Envision the guy standing next to you on the beach, jumping up and down and shaking his arms out. Huffing, puffing, hyperventilating, shaking his head from side to side and looking straight forward ever-so-seriously. He pushes past everyone that has been lined up for fifteen minutes so he can have his waterfront spot. This kind of behavior makes me laugh, but it’s not super common. And I can sort of understand, because I, personally, am very competitive. But that’s why, when I see people out there on race day just having a great time, it makes me smile. They aren’t racing to beat me. They aren’t racing to qualify for Kona. They are out there because they enjoy what they are doing, not because they enjoy beating other people.
  9. Triathletes are not just in it for themselves. Some of you may have heard of Rebecca Keat’s stellar sportsmanship at last year’s World Championship. A lot of professional triathletes do incredibly awesome outreach stuff, too. And they aren’t mystical beings that transcend the rest of us mere mortal humanoids. They are approachable, encouraging, and helpful to people just like you and me. Quite a few professional triathletes troll the Slowtwitch forums and provide feedback to age-groupers’ questions and concerns. Others will respond rapidly to direct emails. My role-model-of-a-triathlete for this: Linsey Corbin.

But, like everything, there are still some things I haven’t quite figured out. Like, why are triathlons so addicting? Other than the possibility that I am an endurance junkie, I can’t quite understand why I can’t stop doing these expensive, long, grueling races. And what’s the deal with LavaJava? Any triathlete ever that goes to Kona rants and raves about LavaJava. Is it the Starbucks of Hawai’i? I guess I will have to qualify to find out.

*not really. but I know a lot of people that can!
Also, I borrowed the above photo of Yvonne Van Vlerkin from http://www.veenmandrukkers.n and the Ironman swim start from http://www.ironcrazy.com