RR: Lighthouse Triathlon

I was worried about my first triathlon…not because I feared the open-water swim or the legit road bike…and the 5k definitely wasn’t an issue.

I was afraid I’d love it. And want to do more.

And I did. And I do.

I have volunteered for the Lighthouse Triathlon (formerly known as the Pirate Triathlon) the past two years – at a very cold and rainy water stop in 2010 and last year as a flag-waving pirate wench on the bike course. For the 2012 edition of Lake Metroparks’s tri, I relinquished my volunteer status in favor of a very unflattering TYR swimsuit, a borrowed fancy FELT road bike, and – of course – my pink Adizero Bostons.

Directly after the Buckeye Trail 50K, I jumped into a very intense triathlon training schedule. I officially swam four times and biked twice before the race. I also got photo proof of both.

The day before the race I headed up to my office the beach to help organize and run packet pick up. A LOT of familiar faces came through the tent, along with a few new ones that I would see again at Burning River the next weekend (BR100 post to follow). I was very impressed with the race shirt this year – although a t-shirt, not gender specific, and sadly pirate-free, the men’s were blue and the ladies were pink. You might not know this, but I like pink. The shirts also highlighted Fairport Harbor’s Marine Museum and Lighthouse, celebrating its bicentennial next year!

Race morning I returned to packet pick up to help out my favorite LMP staff dudes, then wandered around eating blueberries and talking to friends that were clearly better prepared than I…but probably not quite as excited.

My sister was timing the race, so we paused to take the exact photo we’ve been rocking since the fall of 1998.

500 meter swim

I almost missed my wave. Ladies under 34 were to start at 8:15, but I was so busy chatting up strangers on the beach that I didn’t notice them call my age group. I looked around, saw absolutely NO green wrist bands, and sprinted into the water with three minutes to spare. The water was cold. June 14 cold. I treaded water nervously with the other girls until my favorite LMP bossman gave us the start signal. I immediately got kicked in the calf and the shoulder, so I headed towards the lane line to get away from the splashy, freezing madness. I absolutely stink at bilateral breathing and tend to hyperventilate while doing the front crawl. I also veer at least 40 degrees off course, so I alternated between breaststroke, front crawl, and sidestroke. I like breaststroke the best, and as an added bonus I can see where I’m going and avoid others’ flailing limbs. At the turnaround I knew I was towards the back of my wave, so I made an effort to speed up my stroke and actually passed two people…both were men. I’m not sure quite how that worked.

I hit the sand bar running, high-kneeing it through the shallow water as my LMP bossman cheered me on over the megaphone and gave me a high five. I was a little lightheaded but managed to get to the transition area pretty quickly. I got a drink, Gu-ed, dried my feet, and laced up my Bostons. I slipped on my [nonbike] shorts and pulled my favorite Nike tank top over my head…which promptly got all twisted and tangled in the bib I had so carefully attached the night before. I slammed my helmet on my head, took 30 seconds to clip the darn thing, then grabbed my borrowed bike off the rack and trotted over towards the chute. I knew I took a long time in transition, but at that point I was having fun, not racing. I pretend-reluctantly hopped on the bike, then muscled up the hill to start my ride.

20K bike

I am not big on cycling. I like to watch the Tour de France as much as the next person, and I drool over bikers’ calves more than the average person, but I’ve never really ridden a bike for fitness purposes. I borrowed Sweaty Brian’s road bike for the day (with lame-o regular pedals, which hurt him to put on), and my goals were don’t fall off, don’t die, and don’t be last. I’m not too steady on a road bike – I can’t even reach down and grab my water bottle while in motion – and cars freak me out because I can never hear them coming up behind me. So imagine my surprise when I started passing people…a lot of people. Brian’s Garmin was attached to the handlebars, so I turned it on to try and keep my cadence up to his badass standards on his badass bike. The ride went by quickly, but I was pretty uncomfortable for most of it. Even with boxing, my shoulders were not comfortable supporting my weight on the handlebars, so I kept switching my hand positions around and shaking out my arms on the long stretches. As I headed back into town to finish my ride, I passed BMO and my personal cameraman Doug heading out on their run. I was jealous and couldn’t wait to let my feet pound the pavement.

5K run

The second transition was crazy easy. Since I didn’t have clip-in shoes, I flung my helmet on the ground, grabbed a drink and another Gu (how does one fuel during a triathlon? Don’t ask this girl), and headed back towards the road with a big grin on my face. My legs felt very wobbly, and it seemed like I was running at a 12-minute pace. I saw a friend as I went up that damn hill a second time and yelled, “How long will my legs be confused like this?” He laughed and held up five fingers. I guess I should’ve done a brick workout after all. Before too long muscle memory kicked in and I found my stride quickly. After a slow crawl of a swim and a full 20K of discomfort on the bike, running felt like home. I started picking people off, set my legs on autopilot, and took a little time to reflect on the day. I was having a blast. It was ridiculously delightful to wake up on race day with no PR pressure and zero expectations. I came out of the water so late in my wave that the rest of the race was a Passapalooza, and I enjoyed every minute. I decided that – at least for me – triathlons are less about technical skill and more about general fitness level and endurance. After a little over an hour of swimming and biking, I still had a lot of zoom zoom in my legs because my body was used to running long and sustaining steady effort. I saw a lot of supportive, familiar faces as I headed up [another!] hill towards the finish line, LMP bossman again announcing my name with a smile. I grabbed a veggie sub (miam miam) and a banana and spent a LONG time smiling and laughing with my sweaty friends.

I really want to do more triathlons. Longer ones. I think I could be competitive. But a girl can only focus on one giant dream at a time, and this is the era of the Boston qualifying marathon. 3:35:00 or bust. Do the work!

STATS: 1:26, 8/30 in my age group, 175/343 overall

PROS: Lake Metroparks, Lake Erie love, 500 entrants, race swag, easy parking, close to home, quick results, familiar faces, LMP family to cheer me on, delicious post-race grub (including roasted red pepper, spinach, and mozz subs!), party atmosphere, super cheap

CONS: I am the slowest swimmer ever. And there were a lot of potholes.


Exhale the stress so you don’t come unglued

TITLE NOTE: Once upon a summer 2009 ”Fireflies” was the free i-Tunes download of the week, and I fell in love with Owl City. Owl City = Adam Young. He plays keyboards, piano, guitar, bass guitar, synthesizer, drums, vibraphone, and the accordion. Oh, and he writes his own stuff. And sings. And seems to be THE nicest, cheeriest guy on the planet, so I forgive him for his emo/hipster/whatever hair and tight pants. Today’s title comes from Rainbow Veins.

Tomorrow is officially the last day of school. In case you are a new internet stalker slash complete and total stranger, I make my millions dozens teaching high school French in the 37th best small city in the nation, according to CNN. I’m finishing up year nine of my career, and for various reasons (in and outside of my control) this was quite possibly the most stressful school year of them all (except year one; year one always makes you cry…every day…for reals). I’m ready to close school on Monday, shut the door to room A216, and melt the stress away with a good three months of beach living. Oh yeah…remember my super sweet summer gig? I’ll be back at it in FIVE DAYS – giving jet ski rides, tubing, paddle boarding, knocking children off of kayaks, swamping canoes, scouring the beach for red sea glass, playing capture the flag, and judging sand castle contests. Do you hate me yet? (;

Not only has the end of this school year been cray-zee, I’ve added to the insanity by stepping up my sweaty game. Today and yesterday were double workout days, with 6M+boxing and 6M+soccer, respectively. Soccer, by the way, is turning out to be way more dangerous than boxing. Not only did I re-break one of my ribs two weeks ago with a carelessly (yet non-maliciously) thrown elbow, tonight I got rolled big time by a shower bag with a shoving problem. I’ve been promised a ninja-style, sneaky tripping/pushing lesson Monday at boxing so next time I won’t be the one on the ground. Monday at GriffonRawl I am also going to try to advance one of my June goals: pull ups. I can’t do any. Not even one. Lately we’ve been doing ridiculously tiring partner drills (we’re talking like 12-punch combos), and my shoulders are in a constant state of ouch. I’m sure it’s the whole tearing/repairing process required for building muscles, and I’m confident that after a weekend of rest (read: running only), they will be sufficiently manly to pull off at least ONE pull up Monday night. [crosses fingers]

In recent running news, speed and distance have been waging a civil war in my brain. Even with the Buckeye Trail 50K only five weeks away and my Sauconys firmly rooted in the single tracks at North Chagrin, I find myself peeking ahead to fall marathon training – track workouts and roads and tempo runs and new pink Adizero Bostons and MGP and BQ and FROYO YOLO. Running a 5K last weekend didn’t help, and neither will my attempt to sub 1:20 the Towpath 10 Miler next weekend. I find myself wanting to go faster but my training plan is telling me to go longer. I want to do it all. Run fast and far. Box. Play soccer. Do pull ups. Chaturanga. I want the goose that laid the golden egg. So in response to my sweaty greediness, my BT50K plan has turned into a hybrid pace/distance mess that overlaps my Wineglass training plan by four weeks. Because even though it will be summer (by my calendar) in five days, that doesn’t mean I will do less work.

A photo story of the last week…ish…

My big brother and me after Johnny’s Run – so proud that he’s running! PS I got first in my AG and FOURTH overall. Thank God for small races!

Enjoying a Nutter Butter with Eric after a very sweaty hybrid asphalt/trail 18

A Lebanese lake-house Memorial Day extravaganza – swimming, jet skiing, boating, and baba ganoush!

All dressed up for a GriffonRawl wedding

A solo race against dusk at NC; I always skip the Squire’s Castle hill and opt to climb up the side; then I remember it’s not any easier…

unidentified flowers make me smile

A freakishly amazing final Little Prince project made out of rice krispie treats. Thanks for everything, MHS Class o’ 2012. Je vous adore.

When summer’s gone…where will we be?

TITLE NOTE:  I’m secretly a big fan of the Doors [thanks to my sister and the Lost Boys (vampires, Kiefer, and BOTH Coreys!?  Sign me up!)].  I also love sappy end of summer songs, and J.M. delivers with his deep, seductive voice and dramatic lyrics.  Check it out.

Last week was officially the last week of Beach Adventure Camp (my sweet summer gig, in case you didn’t know), and yesterday we finished up our end-of-the-season softball tournament.  So even though summer isn’t TECHNICALLY over, and despite the fact that I still have whopping two-ish days of freedom left (which I will spend in my classroom), I feel the need to begin the mental process of putting summer away.

I am crazy happy that I stumbled upon my sweet summer gig.  I now understand how people become beach bums in warmer climates, because you just can’t have a bad day when you start it off sitting on an empty beach with a cup of coffee in hand.  It took about a week for me to get used to the touchy-feely-ness of 5-11 year olds, but I honestly spent the entire summer playing.  [Don’t tell my boss, but I probably would’ve done it for free.]  Some of my favorite memories from BAC 2011…

1.  Five year-old Evan telling me my legs were “smooth” and “nice.”

2.  Riding the Coast Guard boat with four clinging children because the shower bag CG said he was going to flip the boat.  (It actually rights itself in 8 seconds…you just have to hold on)

3.  Five year-old Kyle asking me to take him out to the “salad bar” (known to the rest of the world as the sand bar).

4.  Getting bruises from attempting to slip-n-slide for the first time in two decades.

5.  Being fake rescued by a lifeguard and kid on a jet ski sled.  Being almost flipped off of said sled.

6.  The day the beach was invaded by turkey vultures.

7.  Finding the biggest caterpillar EVER.  Being tempted to eat it à la Pumbaa and Timon.

8.  Unearthing an Eiffel Tower sand mold in the Beach Camp room.

9.  Spending the early morning searching for beach glass and crunching through the newly raked sand in my bare feet.

10. Being a jungle gym, snuggle friend, flotation device, hairdresser, sunscreen applier, yogurt-opener, hand-holder, and BFF Jill.  Playing hundreds of games of checkers.  Giving piggy back rides to kids who were legitimately too big to be carried.  And loving every minute.

I am a clearly a professional.

See? It's ginormous!

Coolest sand toy ever.

Summer soccer has been over for awhile, but yesterday was our last softball game of the season.  It was part two of the end-of-the-season tournament, and unfortunately we were knocked into the losers bracket a couple weeks ago.  SO that meant that if we kept winning we would play up to five games.  And if we didn’t win, we played one.  Well…we played one.  And lost by one.  But we looked good doing it.

Safety yellow. It's what all the cool kids are wearing.

That’s my brother in the back row with regular clothes on.  Some of you may remember that I was ejected from a game a couple weeks ago.  My brother is so badass he got suspended for an entire YEAR.  I could only be so cool.  I have, however, lately mastered the art of photo jumping.

We may have lost, but I still frolicked in the infield.

Jumping for joy before a 13 miler with Sweaty Brian on Sunday morning

And to top the summer off, a birthday pool party for my favorite beans…with a WATER SLIDE.

I probably went down at least 15 times.

Today I was back in the classroom (hello fall post coming soon!) and on the MHS stage for a FLASH MOB PRACTICE!  (Shh…it’s a surprise for opening day.  All I’ll say is that it involves me CLIMBING onto the stage and dancing to “Don’t Stop Believin’ – the Glee version – with 100 of my peers.)  Have I mentioned how much I love my job lately?    (;

What marks the end of summer for you?