Sunday, September 21, 2008

Mary's Race Report

Mary’s SheRox Charlotte Race Report

We had originally picked the SheRox Charlotte Triathlon due to scheduling and the fact that Barbara and I are both from North Carolina. The travel time to Charlotte is around 7hrs from DC so we decided to make the trip in two days and stop by my parent’s house around 2 hours from Charlotte. This turned out to be a great decision. My parents asked Barb and I tons of questions about what we were about to get into. My mom and Barb had a nice laugh over my excellently prepared packing list. This list, in my opinion, was precise and very helpful while they considered it slightly neurotic. Everyone was really excited and proud of us and that in turn turned my slight nervousness into excitement as well.

Saturday morning my mom made us a gigantic breakfast of which country ham was included (I figured that all that salt could be good thing or a very bad thing but I sure wasn’t going to pass it up!) and sent us on our way to pick up our packets. I couldn’t believe my good luck when we got our packets and our race caps were hot pink. Score! Even better news (we thought at the time) was that the organizers had planned a big southern BBQ for the party after the race. That’s when I, for about an hour, didn’t even care about the tri but could only focus on the post race food.

We met Suzanne and Nicole eventually headed over to Latta Plantation to check out the course. They were busy setting up and I think that’s when it I forgot all about the BBQ and was back on track for the race. It was nice to ease some anxiety by seeing the layout and driving the bike course so we knew what to expect the next morning. Later that night a few of us went to a Japanese Steakhouse for dinner. Okay-in hindsight maybe that wasn’t the best choice. At the time we thought we could fill up on a load of carbs and get to see some cool knife tossing at the same time. After dinner and some last minute shopping we, for the probably 5th time, double checked our buckets and hit the sack. Yep, buckets-we shoved all of our stuff for transition in bright orange Home Depot buckets (thanks to Barb!). That’s how we roll!

The wake-up call from the front desk, my alarm and Barb’s alarm finally woke us up at the slightly crazy time of 4:15. Trying to eat that early in the morning was a real battle-one of my pop tarts was spared its life. We got to the park and then had to walk our stuff ¾ of a mile, in the complete darkness to the site. Thank goodness my dad and brother had loaned us their headlamps! In the distance you could hear music playing and see the lights that were set up—all under a full moon that was still pretty high in the sky.

We got to the transition area and there were tons of people waiting to write our numbers on us. As soon as a woman had written my number on my arms in, Sharpie marker, Barb and I realized that I had been carrying her bike. Since they got the numbers from the tags already stuck to our bike I had the wrong number on me. So she had to scribble over the number and below it wrote the correct one. I was secretly hoping this was not a sign of how the day was going to be.

We all parted ways to rack our bikes and to arrange our transition areas. I was happy about getting there early enough to be able to put my bike on the end of a rack—easier to find later. After checking my layout over and over I was pretty satisfied and we went to grab our timing chips. We actually had a lot of time to spare so Barb and I walked around and just checked everything out. It was still pretty dark out and participants were busy rushing around while family and friends were setting up chairs and finding good spots to watch.

We walked down to the lake and found a spot to watch the first waves leave at 7am. We were the final wave and didn’t head out until 7:30. I was extremely excited looking at the crowd. This event was relatively small with only around 400 participants but there were tons of supporters there. I turned around and I got the biggest surprise ever when I literally bumped into my mom, dad and sister. They were not going to be able to make it when we last saw them but things had changed and they totally surprised us. It was even better than I could have expected having them there. We took some quick photos together and tried to laugh off some nervous energy. I was still I a little bit of shock at how far the swim looked. Having only ever trained in a pool I mentally new I could swim that distance but seeing it laid out like that for the first time made room for a little doubt to creep into my mind.

It was finally our turn to go and we had found Nicole and Suzanne so we all slowly walked down to the edge of the water. I think I was a bit goofy from excitement so again I had my dad take more pictures of us-of course flexing our muscle in our pink swim caps. I again had a great surprise when saw my friend Dan and his daughter Lizzie as I was about to enter the water.

The voice of Lloyd stuck with me throughout the race. We all reminded ourselves to not let the adrenaline get the best of us but to start at the back of the pack and to relax when we first started swimming. It was really nice to start beside of friendly faces who you’d trained with. Of course when we were told to start I think my heart almost jumped out of my chest but I tried to relax. I quickly lost sight of everyone but I’m sure I swam almost up on top of Barb several times at the beginning. As expected on the swim out breathing wasn’t that easy but once we looped around the end buoy and started to make our way back in it became much nicer. Sometimes it was almost too relaxing. I caught myself a few time just treading water and looking around. It really was almost an overwhelming feeling to be in the middle of a gigantic lake that felt like bathwater with the sun just coming up doing something that you had trained constantly for almost 15 wks for. Swimming in the open water was a much more pleasant experience for me for one due to the lack of chlorine in the water and just the really unimpeded feeling I had (besides the bodies jostling all around me at times).

I eventually decided that I needed to try to focus a bit more and really try to swim like I knew I could. I evidently became so focused that I didn’t realize the last buoy was right in front of me until I swam into it. It didn’t hurt-physically that is but I did stop for a bit wondering if anyone saw that. I’m sure a few of the kayakers who were keeping watch over us got a bit of a chuckle once they realized that I was okay. As I came out of the water a bit tired I was instantly energized by seeing everyone I knew cheering me on.

The transition out of the swim was very long, uphill and dirty! I tried to take it slow and at one point posed for a picture-which probably didn’t help my time too much. Transition went smooth and I was glad I took the time to really clean off my feet before I shoved them into my socks. Looking back I do think it is a bit humorous that I was about to leave with my bike and then I saw that the seat was wet. So I went back and wiped it off. As I was leaving I then sat my still rather soggy butt on my dry seat. Strange the things you’ll do when you’re just a little tired.

We knew from riding the course the day before that the bike would be a little hilly. Nothing like the hell that I still consider the Columbia course to be! But yes-a few “rolling hills”. I just started riding with not much of a game plan other than just to go. I forced myself to eat a pack of sports beans which I normally love but could barely make myself eat on that day. As I was riding out I saw the leaders coming back in. It was actually not discouraging to see them but was strangely reassuring to me that yes-I might come back from the bike as well. For some reason I got bored really quickly on the bike so I started playing a game of giving myself a point for everyone I passed while deducting one when I was passed. Needless to say there was both a lot of adding and subtracting going on until I realized it was hurting my head to do all of that math.

I did find it to be really nice at how supportive everyone was. There was lots of chatter of “looking good”, “keep doing it”, etc. I tried to say something nice or funny every time I past someone. And I secretly took a lot of pleasure of passing someone on a road bike considering that Barb and I both were clunking it up with our big ol’ mountain bikes. I think the pleasure was due in part to a bit of jealousy! My legs did get a bit tired and I began to wonder if I was pushing too hard but I figured if there was a time it was now. There were times that I spaced out a bit and was brought back by someone saying something to me. I passed a lady who was a bit older than I at one point and a bit later I heard her yelling to me “I know I can’t pass you but you’re riding too slow-pick it up a bit!” That made me laugh so hard. I gave her a big thank you and took her advice and picked it up. I thought it was really great to have our ages on our calves. It was inspirational to see some of the older ages (61 was the oldest I saw) and exciting to see ages as young as 12.

I could hear my mom’s gigantic cowbell from a mile away as I came in from the bike and it brought a big smile on my face and I tried to look all refreshed even though I was far from it. After replenishing my chapstick supply and hitting the porta johns (surprise!) out to the dreaded run I went but knowing that I would soon be accomplishing this goal very soon. The trail started out on a paved and shaded road-just my style but soon turned a little treacherous. We were told that it would be “packed dirt” and there was dirt but I wouldn’t consider it packed. There were tons of big loose rocks, exposed roots and eroded banks. I actually spent a lot of the time looking at the ground to make sure I wouldn’t fall. Many people still spoke words of support but in general it was much more quite than the ride. I ran at a pace that I thought I could maintain throughout but I did start too slow down at one point. Then to my delight I saw Barbara and we were able to run together for about 5 minutes. That was really a nice boost at that point. We got to check in with each other, know that we were both going to make it and personally it revitalized me a lot. I also got to say a quick hi to Nicole and to Suzanne, which was nice. After the last water station I “dropped the hammer”. I decided to pick up my pace but quickly realized I might have done that a bit too soon. Just as I thought I would take a quick walk break I could hear that cowbell and see all of our supporters waiting in the distance…just what I needed. So I took off and started passing anyone near me (the words of wisdom from Lloyd in the back of my mind tell me to “eat her up!”). Being pushed on by the cheers and bells I leaned to pass one more person at the finish line which at the time seemed like the thing to do. I had finally made it and felt…well, like a needed to find a place to hurl! Fortunately that passed and I got to join my supporters and cheer on my teammates with that big ol’ cowbell!

Back to the beginning of this novel when I mentioned the southern BBQ—well after it was said and done there was no way I could stomach that so we all grabbed a spot in the shade and relaxed with each other. (We later hit up a good ol’ Cracker Barrel and dug into an amazing cinnamon cake that Dan made for us and brought to the tri-knife included) I think for a bit I was on a sort of on a high from realizing that I had really done this. It was actually a little shocking even knowing that we had trained hard for this. There were so many times that I had an internal battle of really wanting to have a short little rest on the curve but I didn’t give in . I thought back to all of the preparation, knowledge and training that we had all gained from Lloyd and the fact that I wanted to join you guys as a triathlete. I also didn’t want to disappoint myself or that amazing cheering section that was waiting for me.

Thank you guys so much for all of your support. I did really enjoy the triathlon but I do have to be honest that for me the process of making it up to that point was the meat of it all. Having a great coach and group to rely on was the important stuff!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Amy's Recap

Amy's race report, Iron Girl 2008:

Is it the journey or is it the destination?

Last year, I figured that since I could swim, bike and run, to some extent, doing a tri would not be insurmountable. And it wasn't, as I did finish, and I was alive at the end (by some accounts). It wasn't pretty, though, and I learned where much improvement was needed.

That was 2007, and in my excitement of having finished, I did what I could to encourage my sister-in-law Deena to give it a go with me for 2008. We both signed up soon after registration opened, and being smarter than I am, Deena actually found a way to ensure that we would both improve on our fitness and readiness- she found Lloyd and On-Point Fitness. The chances of my having stumbled upon this group were small since I live out east by Annapolis, but it sounded like such a good idea. And practice swims were to be held 2 blocks from where I work in Silver Spring. Karma!

After 12 weeks of training, the big day was finally here. I first saw Cherry, and we were checking out the lay of the land. There was much excitement as everyone was setting themselves up in the transition area. Eventually we found Sally, Deena and Keanne- and, to my great surprise and joy, there was a whole team of On-Pointers there to join in the early morning fun! The camaraderie helped calm me down as we headed back to prepare for the swim.

Ah yes, the swim. At least this year, our caps were purple. Last year mine was yellow, and it just was so not-me. I started at the back of the group, which is pretty much where I ended. Or was it the back of the next group? I kept up a steady TI stroke the entire time, calmly, without breaking, except when getting kicked in the face. Before I knew it, I was at the finish. I was feeling fresh and it was marvelous!

Then, the bike. Deena was in my age wave but had finished first (yay, Deena!) so I rushed to start when she did. She was one of the only two people I ended up passing- pretty much, people were whizzing by me most of the time. The hills were quite doable- I kept a strong and steady pace throughout the challenging course. Heard family and friends yelling for me as I was biking into the park- that was a thrill!

Finally, the run. I still felt strong (maybe it was the 4 Gus), and I was amused and energized by the chalk note to me, care of Lloyd, cheering me along as I tromped around the path. Started to tire at the big last hill, but I saved a last spurt of energy to finish strong- and as soon as I heard the cowbell and saw my team, I was flying! What a way to finish!

As I look back on this summer, certainly training with the group and with Lloyd can be credited with my 15% improvement over my last years' time. But it was more than that. Each and every person in our group brought their own energy to our merry band- we were a true team, working individually toward the same goal. We sweated, pushed, ached, and inspired each other to do our best, and to achieve. I couldn't have asked for a more supportive coach and team.

Looking forward to Iron Girl 2009!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Deena's Race Report

Iron Girl 2008 Report by Deena Bleich

Because of Lloyd and his triathlon training group, every step of the Iron Girl was just as I expected it. So thanks Lloyd.

Lloyd has a reservoir of patience; he never made me feel ridiculous even though I asked him 100 times how to do the skate or whatever that other swim drill was called (just kidding). If it weren’t for him, I’d probably still be trembling at the starting line. Also thanks to his occasional stand-in, Keanne, who is a bottomless well of encouragement. Thanks also goes to our teammate and my sister-in-law Amy. If she hadn’t convinced me that people like me really can do triathlons, I never would have gotten to the starting line in the first place. And you guys, the OnPoint Fitness training group, were with me all the way to the finish line. Of those not participating in the Iron Girl, some sent email encouragement or congratulations and some came in person. And those that came to cheer us on were not mere spectators. (For the full flavor of this, read Mary’s report.) Each one touched me specially and individually by hugging me, telling me how proud they were, taking pictures or running out to the run course to drag me in.

I met Lloyd because my husband Mark bought running shoes. Subsequently, Fleet Feet sent us regular emails, which I actually read. And in those emails, there was a notice about a tri training group that Lloyd was going to have. Joining a training group seemed like a good idea since I had signed up for the Iron Girl months earlier but had not made much progress in getting ready for it. So, it was my turn to do the convincing, and Amy signed up too.

The day before the event, I was very nervous, even more than on the actual event day. I started by getting my bike checked at Princeton Sports, then went to the Sheraton. There I listened to the race director talk for a while, picked up my packet and race chip, got all my free gifts and looked at the expo. That stuffed Aflac duck that screams ‘AFLAC’ when you squeeze it is definitely worth the registration fee. It made a big hit at home, plus it is great for waking the kids up. I know. I used it Monday morning for just that purpose. But I digress. Then it was off to rack my bike. There I ran into Amy, who because of circumstances involving age and alphabetics, was racking her bike next to mine. We comically tried to figure out how to rack our massive hybrids next to the diminutive road bikes all around us.

On race day, I completed the first sport, waking up and getting dressed in time (I consider this a quadrathlon.) and was making my way to the first transition area, known in more normal circumstances as the garage. Then I received a booster shot of morale as I looked at the door to the garage. My three daughters had posted a colorful and poetic sign wishing me well at the Iron Girl. This was sweeter than any medal. I know it’s cheesy but I couldn’t resist and a picture of it is attached.

On to Columbia. I saw the whole gang when I arrived shortly before six. Time went quickly and before I knew it, I was standing in a purple cap on the edge of a lake. Mary was shooting pictures and I think Lloyd said something like, “Deena, give it your all.”

As I said before, the actual sporting events went very much as I expected. The swim felt great; it was a relief to be started after all the anticipation. I was pleased to do the 1000 meters under 30 minutes on my first ‘tri’. The bike ride was grueling, even more than I remembered from practice. Some of the bikers who passed me would call out words of encouragement. The run was ok, and here I fell into step with some of my companions from time to time, many of whom were considerably younger than me. One of them, when she realized my age, said she wished her mother would do something active. It appeared to be a theme. Others also mentioned the sedentary lifestyles of their mothers or grandmothers. This led to me sharing the story of my mother, who had diabetes and had her leg amputated several years before the end of her life.

This sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants/sex-in-the-city type bonding was broken up by a ringing in my ear. It was Lloyd and Nicole and that darn cowbell. So I started hustling to the finish line. A couple of my daughters ran with me to the finish line. They were given finisher medals too, which my kindergartener really liked.

I guess it’s a good sign that I was composing this report in my head while I was jogging tonight, just two days after the tri. Or should I say 363 days before the next Iron Girl?

Teammate and Photographer Mary's Race Report

Mary’s Race-Day Report

As I was woken up from a night of troubled sleep (too much excitement and anticipation), I hit the snooze button wondering why it was still pitch black outside and rolled over. Thank goodness I had laid out all of my clothes the night before so I could grab that crucial five more minutes. My On Point Fitness shirt was ironed, its matching hat was lying on top besides them were cargo pants, with pockets for my chapstick, phone and crucial items needed for the day. I listened to Lloyd leaving my packed bag sitting beside of the door awaiting the moment that I sleepily stumbled out of the house.

Nutrition (coffee) in one hand and my bag in the other Barbara and I zombie walked out the door to head over to pick up Nicole and Suzanne. The ride to the tri was silent. Some of us nervously going over our race day strategies, wondering if the prime cheering spots would still be open when we got there, if there would be long lines to the porta johns and where would eat after the race was over. The air was wrought with anticipation! Others of us were just sleeping. (cough, Nicole)

Upon arriving we were met by a long line of taillights. Oh no, what if we miss the entire race sitting here waiting to get in, I thought, as I looked at my watch and it said 5:50. My fears were soon quelled as we were directed by many men to a parking spot (who I am still convinced were husbands who wives were doing the tri and were forced to volunteer). We grabbed our bags and before heading down I double checked to make sure I had everything I needed for the big day ahead…sunglasses-check, camera-check, extra fluids-check, toilet paper-check.

Off we went to find our teammates who had arrived even before us. (and I thought I was nervous about arriving on time!) Everyone looked the part of a true triathlete; sitting on the curbside, in spandex, in the dark. I felt proud to be a part of this group of women even after I got dirty looks for making them pose for numerous pictures. As the sun came up and we could finally see, I looked down at a sea of bikes and women in the transition area. I looked at the gigantic crowd and the many children and dogs with shirts declaring their moms, sisters and even grandmothers were Irongirls. I peered over towards the massive steaming lake and appreciatively thought, man, that’s going to be cold-glad I’m not getting in there.

As the announcer rushed the women out of the transition area, Lloyd and I speed walked our way down to the lake to find the perfect spot for the start (knocking small children out of our way and stepping on barefooted triathletes—we had to get there!). There was a great spot to see the many waves of swimmers into the lake-reassuringly enough directly beside of the “No Swimming” sign. We stood out on a series of, somewhat slippery, rocks where we were waiting for a spotting of someone from the group. Then I heard the yell from Lloyd “Sally! I see you! Sally! Over here!” followed by the first clank of a cowbell that would later cease to be silenced. Through the morning we saw everyone from the group—Sally, Keanne, Amy, Deana and Cherry and a few other folks who had trained with Lloyd as well. I loved spotting someone we knew so we could get everyone to stare at us as we went berserk yelling at them. I know our teammates in the water enjoyed that little bit of a distraction as well (at least that’s what I was telling myself). We got several waves, lots of smiles, a flexed muscle or two and only got flipped off once (just kidding about that but I was waiting). Everyone looked so prepared, confident and quite dashing, in their goggles and swim caps, as they entered the water. We did see one lady with a camera, attached to little floats, taking pictures as she was swimming and I wondered why Lloyd hadn’t told us we could do that as well.

After the waves were gone, then we had to decide where to go to get the next great sighting. As we made it back to the bikes, I was shocked to hear that the pros were coming in from the run. Wow. I made it just in time to get a shot of Keanne leaving on her bike (only of your butt, though-sorry!). There was commotion everywhere around me-I had to focus on my task ahead-got to watch for teammates-see them in time to get a picture and to yell really loud.

Eventually we found a sweet little cheering spot, under a shade tree (it was hot!) near the end of the run course. I called Barb, Nicole and Suzanne to leave their lounging spot on the hill, stop eating the free packs of granola and come join us. It was a frantic search to spot a runner coming down the path-identify them and yell for them. We all had to be on top of our game. For ten minutes I thought Lloyd knew everyone in the tri-community as he yelled out name after name. Then it was brought to my attention that everyone’s name is written on their bibs. Right on-it was on then.

Carla and her boyfriend joined us and to my surprise joined in Lloyd’s mad cow bell ringing extravaganza. Then I saw Keanne’s sister with one as well! I secretly was jealous that the noise I was making dimmed in comparison to their raucous commotion. I witnessed as runners were moved from a slow jog, a dead walk and even a one-legged hop to an all out dash upon hearing the craziness that Lloyd inspired from us all.

It was hard…our hands hurt from clapping them so hard (hence the cow bell jealously), our feet hurt from jumping up and down, my head hurt from hearing myself scream. We had trained hard for this - I only hoped our training could sustain us. We were running out of water-nutrition supplies were low-I just didn’t know if we could make it. . We were a team, though. If one of us got tired of yelling, another one of us stepped in and took over. It only took one voice to jumpstart a chorus. Everyone from our group there was cheering were like animals.

It was totally worth it, in the end, to see frowns turned upside down, legs re-energerized and looks from startled runners as we screamed their names. We learned from our leader the secret chants that could change this race such as:

· Eat her up!

· Reel her in!

· Dig deep – I know you can do it!

· I see you! I see you (insert name here)!

· Catch her!

· Catch that young girl! Don’t’ let her beat you! Don’t let her pass you!

· I’m not going to stop ringing this bell until you run!

As we saw each of our teammates cross the finish line I though, “Damn they look good!” I bet we’re going to have some good race finish photos from this bunch. By the end of the race everyone’s family and friends were there in support, all of us trying to dodge the sweaty hugs of the elated finishers. Medals were being shown off and I swear I saw a few people kissing theirs. It was an end to a great day. (as soon as we got lunch). J
Congratulations to all of you! It was so very exciting seeing you all compete in this race. I was so proud to think back to the journey that led you all here. This was the first triathlon I’ve even seen (this is excluding the many youtube videos I obsessively watch on a daily basis). Having our race in a few weeks, this was great motivation!

Thanks guys-you rock!


Sally's Race Report

Race Report – Iron Girl August 24, 2008

I could barely sleep the night before but arrived excited. I think I was actually more nervous for the dress rehearsal swim three weeks before than I was for the race. After setting up transition, I ran into most of my On Point teammates, which took me out of myself. I really felt like I was a part of something and not in this alone.

Entering the water for the swim, it was a mucky mess beneath my feet. So I was ready and grateful for the start. Seeing Mary and Lloyd smiling at me was one of the best parts of that unforgettable moment. The low sun was blinding me until I rounded the first buoy. But after that, it was smooth sailing. I slowed down toward the end, as Lloyd instructed, and improvised long enough to go into the sweet spot for a moment to – er, uh – avoid having to use up time later for the port-a-potty in transition. It was a useful if unhygienic strategy. (I recommend it.) AND I ended up shaving 5 minutes off my usual 1 kilometer swim time! The adrenaline of race day helped a lot.

T1 took a little extra time because my feet were so muddy. Glad I brought that extra water bottle to rinse off my feet. (Thanks whoever gave that suggestion.)

The bike ride was tough. I was a little dazed. It took a few minutes to get mentally oriented. But at least we knew what to expect with this very hilly course. A woman wiped out hard right as she was trying to pass me during a long climb. It was frightening. I wanted to help her but was afraid I’d get hit by the others whirring around me. I was glad when it was over. I was pleased with my time. But with the crowded field, the fast downhills, the traffic, etc., this leg seemed the most potentially dangerous and out of my control. It was joyous to see “my peeps” gathered to cheer me on just as I rode in.

T2 was a breeze. Just had to change shoes and throw on the visor. I brought a water bottle along so I could drink as I ran.

I was so relieved to be on terra firm for the run. It was starting to get hot and plenty of people passed me. But I just kept steady, hitting my cadence like I was in automatic pilot. Imagine my surprise when I saw Lloyd’s handiwork. All along the route on the pavement, he had chalked special notes to us as a team and to each of us by name. It was such a huge morale boost. When I read, “relax, lift, lean,” it re-focused me to think about “chi” form and get out of my own head. I was in the moment and almost home…

I worked hard and I did it. We all did. Yeah, us!! It was the fun and motivation of working with a fantastic, dedicated team that helped to give me the tools and confidence to do it. I’ll never forget this experience and you all. It’s like a graduation for me. I’ve spent the last five years consciously transforming my life physically and spiritually. Thank you for being a part of the journey.


Iron Gal Sal

Cherry's Race Report

I am back to comment on my experience - it was great! I really was grateful for the experience of the open water and the bike route. It is one thing to practice 2 out of 3 events and then the actual day all 3 of them.

As I told Lloyd before regarding the swim I was chilling with the breast stroke and not doing the free style, it was a bit much. However, I promised my coach for Nations that I will free style all the way:)

The bike ride was crucial especially seeing so many Iron girls with bike problems I kept on praying please Lord not today. It helped yeah.The running was not as bad especially when the gave out AFLAC cold sponges it was just what I needed. The support was great and my friends were everywhere which was cool. In my transtion, someone had put their stuff in my bag, very interesting!!!

Overall, it was a fabulous experience - an especially nice atmosphere of all women of sizes, ages and ethnic backgrounds. Are we ready for next year???????

Thank you Lloyd for seeing much more than I did!! You are the best coach.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Carla's Race Report - SheRox Philly

Hey everyone. Here are some of my thoughts from the day. The whole day was pretty exciting. I got to the transition area around 6:30 a.m. Maria, Corey and I were in the same wave and racked our bikes pretty close together. Found Keanne who had a pump and made sure that we were all ready. We walked the transition area to make sure where to go. There were 1600 bikes racked in a small area so making sure you know where your bike is in relation to where you come out of the water is important.

The open water swim is an experience like no other. I completely panicked. I also wasted a lot of energy by forgetting all the freestyle technique that Lloyd has been teaching. I probably did not start calming down until I was 400 meters through the 800 meter loop. A lot of it is mental. One thing I would definitely do differently is sight more. It's pretty easy to start going wide of the buoys and then you have to swim more to make up the difference. My wave wore pink caps. After a while the next wave of swimmers wearing yellow caps passed me and then the orange caps started coming through. My 3 goals were to 1. get out of the water before another color of caps started showing up, 2. not hold on to a kayak and 3. not drown.

Transition 1 was OK. It's really easy to forget things - it's important to lay things out, even if it seems obvious. With all the adrenaline and excitement, things can get missed. I forgot to put my race number around my waist before the bike and did not realize it for about the 1st 5 miles. Also forgot the sunscreen. I probably should have walked from the swim to my bike, but I got caught up and was jogging. Had to wipe the dirt off my feet before putting on my shoes and socks and ended up sitting down to do it (nerves).

Bike course was nice. There were 2 hills that weren't too bad. Since I am on the slower side, I made sure that I stayed to the right. In fact I heard "passing on the left" an awful lot. I will say that there was a lot of encouragement offered by the participants in the race itself. One thing that I need to practice is drinking from my water bottle while riding. Another thing that is different from our rides is that there are no stop lights, stop signs, cars and other vehicles or people crossing the road. That means no stops that I like so much to "regroup". Lloyd was a pretty impressive cheering section all by himself. My boyfriend and some other friends were they also. They cheered so much that 2 participants in the race in the bike section were like "you have an awesome cheering section! We wish that we had people like that cheering for us".

Transition 2 was better than transition 1 because I only had to take of my helmet, bike gloves and put on my race number (made sure of that). I also drank some water and got some nutrition. The run was pretty hard for me, that is definitely one of my weakest areas. That first 1.5 miles seemed to last forever before I got to the turnaround. The course was not closed and by the time I came through, there were people on the street who would cycle by, roller blade, etc. It was the hottest part of the day by this point. I saw Cory and Maria heading back to the finish when I was heading out and they looked great. Keanne and Lloyd met me near mile 3 and encouraged me through the last few meters. It was an absolutely wonderful feeling to cross the finish line. The best part of the whole day was having Keanne, Maria, Cory, Lloyd there. My boyfriend Colin was awesome also and took a bunch of pictures. I will have to email a few once I download them.

Feel free to email me with any questions. Special thanks to Lloyd - I could never have done this without his coaching, training and most of all quiet encouragement and confidence that I could do this.

On to Nations!

Keanne's Race Report - SheRox Philly

Dear Team OnPoint,

Thanks to Cory for kicking off the race reports. Here is my reflection on the day:

Lloyd and I arrived at the race site just before 7am. Transition was open from 6-7:45 so I lined up for bodymarking and then headed in to get set up. Shortly after getting into transition, I found Cory, Maria and Carla (or maybe they found me). I set up my stuff and then checked out their racks. We pumped our tires and made sure that everything was laid out properly. Cory, Maria and Carla (CMC) gave me a great tour of the transition area - showing where the swim, bike and run would begin and end. The transition area was laid out in a fairly straightforward way, but it's always good to know where your bike and gear are relative to each entrance and exit since I'm not always thinking straight after the swim :-) Like Cory said, some people mark the ends of the rows, but that's not always the case.

Transition closed at 7:45 so we all grabbed our caps and goggles and headed to the swim corral to wait for our wave. You could feel the excitement in the air. Lloyd was around taking pictures and it was cool seeing all of the other participants. Because our waves were 45-56 minutes after the race start, we saw the pros go out and come in from the swim. The excitement was infectious, with the age group athletes cheering on the racers who were making the transition to the bike. CMC's wave was right before mine, so I hung out with them until they got into the water and then waited for my wave.
I'd done my first open water practice on Friday in Columbia for Irongirl and spent most of Friday and Saturday working out my mental jitters. I only learned to swim 2-ish years ago, so the swim is both very challenging and rewarding for me. I've been swimming alot this season, but open water is definitely different.

When my wave was called, I got in the water about 2 minutes before it was time to start. I just put my face in the water and blew bubbles. This allowed me to get oriented and helped me calm down. Then, I chilled out in back balance until it was time to go. When the gun went off, I felt relaxed and the swim was really comfortable. Every 10 strokes or so, I'd look up and sight. In the future, I might sight a bit more often because I veered away from the buoys and my turns were really wide. But, luckily I was able to correct that and swim close to the last buoy. When I made the turn at the final buoy and saw the swim finish ahead, I felt really good. Honestly, I felt like sprinting it out, but reigned myself in per Lloyd's instructions. There are plenty of fast swimmers out there, but for me I'm psyched at the incremental improvements. It was my best race swim to date!
TRANSITION 1: The transition was fine. My feet were covered in grass from running to the bike from the swim so I stopped to clean them off before putting on my socks and bike shoes. Some folks go sockless, but I'm willing to sacrifice 30 seconds in order to avoid a blister. Helmet on and clipped and I was off! I actually forgot my cycling gloves, but didn't miss them too much.BIKE:The bike course was really enjoyable. It was a 2 loop course that crossed over a bridge and ran through a park. It was mostly flat with a few hills. None of the hills even registered on the "hospital hill" and "7-11 hill" meter. I saw Maria and Cory on the bike and they looked like they were doing well. The first loop flew by and I ate a gel on the second loop to add a little fuel for the run. Mine tasted like raspberry donut filling (mmmm, donuts. . .) and really I was mostly thinking about lunch. It was getting hot by that time so constant hydration was the name of the game. I drank 1.5 bottles of fluid on the bike. I chatted with lots of folks on the bike and enjoyed the race vibe. The cool thing about women's races is that most of the participants are encouraging each other ("way to go", "looking good," "you go girl"). The energy is just great! As I was finishing the 2nd loop, I snuck up on Lloyd. I don't think he was expecting to see me that soon. But he saw me just in time to start ringing his cowbell like a nut! I started spinning down and headed into transition.
TRANSITION 2:Fairly quick transition since I just had to throw on my shoes and hat. In the future, I'll probably invest in some quick-tie laces instead of dealing with the normal laces. I grabbed a bottle of hydration and headed out.RUN:My goal for the run was to just keep turning the legs over and not walk. I started out at a fairly steady pace and just held it. Though it was only 1.5 miles out, I felt like the turnaround would never come. A girl that I met in the swim corral passed me and I just tried to keep her within 5-6 feet. We played leapfrog for a mile or so and then ran together up until the 2.5 mile mark. She was running with 7 other women from her family, including her Granny who was 73 years young. (Granny did the walking portion of a relay). Finally, there was a guy announcing the last half mile. The last part of any running race is my favorite part! Just before the finish chute I saw Lloyd again. He started hollering at me to pick up the pace and to pass the girl in front of me. I passed her and broke out in a full sprint, passing 4-5 other girls before hitting the line. As a result, I may not be smiling in my finish picture - but I think our fearless leader will forgive me for that :-)

All in all, the race was great! Personally, I had a PR and improved my times in all 3 sports. But my favorite part was hanging out with Carla, Maria and Cory. After finishing, I went back out to the run and helped cheered them all in. Seeing them finish and finish well made me very proud of their accomplishments over the past 8-9 weeks. I was really glad to share the day with them and help introduce them to the sport of triathlon.

Of course, thanks go to Lloyd for always encouraging me and providing guidance in training. And thanks to you guys for being great training partners and teammates!

See you this weekend,

Cory's Race Report - SheRox Philly

Hi Fellow Triathletes!I thought I would share my thoughts with you all from this past Sunday'srace.

First, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation and thanks to ourfearless leader Lloyd! I would not be a triathlete finisher todaywithout his always positive outlook, motivation, knowledge and quietencouragement [although not so quiet on race day! :)]. Oh yes, he has acow bell and he is not afraid to ring it!

Overall I will say the race was an amazing experience! I'll give you myrundown by sport. Just before you enter transition to rack your bikeand set up your things, you will probably be body marked. Don't put onsuncreen until after you are body marked and let it dry for a bit beforeyou do. We did get sun so suncreen is beneficial! (I didn't put any onmy face for fear it would sting in the water or while I sweated)

SWIM:After my first practice open water swim, this was the sport that I wasthe most anxious and nervous about. Race day did not prove to be muchdifferent for me from the practice swim. For me, open water is verydifferent from lap swimming in the pool. I think my difficulties aremental in nature and I can overcome them in the future. I would suggestjust practice, practice, practice! I did stay in the back, left-handcorner of our swim wave and that helped prevent me from getting knockedaround at the start. And, don't get discouraged if you see your fellowswim heat triathletes way up ahead as you keep at it in the water. Myswim heat wore flourescent pink caps and most of those caps got far infront of me.....and then most of the yellow caps passed me....and then afew orange caps also passed me. :) But, that's okay! Keep plugging awaybecause the finish line DOES come! Although I didn't need it, pleaseremember that the race allows you (our race did at least) to hang on tothe surfboard/kayaks along the race route if you need to rest. You justcan't move forward while hanging on. As Lloyd told us, don't try andsprint for the finish. Your legs will thank you when it's time to comeout of the water and run to transition. And swim until you can't swimany longer when you reach the finish because volunteers are there tohelp pull you up and get your land legs back.

TRANSITION 1:A lesson learned for me is to reduce my transition time. As wewitnessed the pros, the only thing they put on in transition was theirhelmet! Their bike shoes were already clipped onto their pedals and theyran with their bike barefoot to the bike mounting spot. Not sure howthey had the coordination to mount the bike and get into their shoes butthen again, that's why they are pros! If you can get the elastic lacesand locks for your shoes, that helped me out to not have to tie myshoes. If you can, bring something identifiable to tie to the end ofyour bike rack. It will help you to identify your row when you arerunning in from the swim. Someone in our row had brought an orangeconstruction vest to tie to our rack end. Others broughtballoons/flags.

BIKE:I thought the bike course was great! We did have a few small hills butit was mostly smooth. You may have a pre-race meeting where the USATrules on blocking and drafting are explained to you. Don't let it freakyou out! All you need to remember is stay to the right! That allowsothers to pass you. If you come within 3 bike lengths of someone infront of you, you need to pass them. It sounds like a huge distance andit made us nervous pre-race but it was easy on race day. If you comeupon someone, just pass them. As Lloyd told us, don't sprint to thefinish. Take your bike down to a lower gear and spin your legs for thelast bit of the race as you approach the dismount line. Your legs willget used to that motion that you will need for the run. And smile forLloyd's camera as you pass by him on the course. :)

TRANSITION 2:This was quicker for me since there is less gear to put on for the runportion. As Lloyd suggested, eat your gu or shot blocks or whateverfood you will eat to sustain you, in the transition area. I did sobefore the bike but then I attempted to run and eat gu and then swallowsome water at the beginning of the run route and I was choking andflailing about for all the spectators to see. :)

RUN:This was hard but not insurmountable. It was the hottest part of thecourse and the day. We were basically in full sun. I wore a hat andthat helped not have the sweat going down my face. We had a course thatwent out 1.5 miles and back. Give yourself a point that is a goal thatyou will run to (if you think you may walk a portion of it). For me, Iheard that we would get ice cold towels at 1.5 miles so that we couldwipe off and look pretty for the finish line camera. So, I chugged alongand kept telling myself I was going to make it the first half and get mytowel. Well, literally the woman in front of me got the last towel!! Nojoke. Oh well. :) I walked a couple of minutes and drank some gatorade.Stay hydrated!! I ran the rest of the way and Keanne and Lloyd wereawesome, crazy, cheering fools at the finish line. We were told therewould be a food tent at the end but by the time I finished and cheeredothers on, all the food was gone! So, bring some food for the end justin case they run out because you will be ravenously hungry.

As one of the spectators signs said, If it were that easy, everyonewould be doing it! Be glad you even embarked on this journey and behappy that you crossed the finish line!!

If anyone has any more questions for me, please feel free to e-mail me!I hope to be there at IronGirl to cheer the next set on!