Tri the Parks: Mistletoe State Park

So, after I got home Monday from the Rev3 Williamsburg tri, I worked the night shift and figured I’d just give myself the day off since I’d done a solid days’ work the day before. Then I also took Tuesday off, then Wednesday, then Thursday, and then it was suddenly Friday and I had to pick up my packet before work. I wanted to do this race because it was only 30 minutes from my house so it was super convenient. However, I didn’t realize that I was also working the night shift that week and night shift never gets off in time and then I’d have to get up early to get to the race to set up…and that I hadn’t really packed my bag or anything.

I’m usually a really excellent planner and this was one of the few times where I just didn’t really plan it at all.

I got home and did a tiny bit of work putting my numbers on my bike and oiling the chain and making sure I hadn’t left my helmet in Virginia. I also hadn’t unpacked since the weekend before (I really dislike unpacking) so fortunately(?) most of my stuff was still in my car. P and I debated about whether he wanted to get up early with me and go fishing while I was triathlon-ing. Now, to me we never came to a concrete decision of yes or no but I told him I was getting up at 5:30 and leaving by 6.

I woke up at 5:30, he didn’t. I let the dogs out, fed the dogs, fed myself, and packed my bag and still no P. I figured he’d decided to sleep in. Then I took my bike out and he’d moved my bike rack onto his truck. Weird, I thought. But again, since he didn’t wake up I figured he must have changed his mind. It wasn’t until I got to the park and saw all of our fishing gear in the bed that I thought maybe he’d wanted me to wake him up…oops. Also I had both sets of car keys so even if he’d wanted to meet me out there, he couldn’t. I am pretty much the worst wife ever.

Setting up went pretty quickly for me and then I had nothing really to do but wander around and admire the other pretty bikes. The water was 84.5 degrees so wetsuits were out of the question. Fun fact: ever since I bought my wetsuit, it has been too warm everywhere I go to wear it. I guess if you want to guarantee yourself warm water, buy a wetsuit.

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Trying a longer towel method

They grouped all the women together in one big wave (SUCH a big wave!) and to avoid getting pummeled I waited several seconds after the start before heading out. Even still, there were a lot of people and everyone bunched up a bit around the first buoy. The most surprising thing to me the whole day was just how good I felt on the swim. I felt calm and relaxed and even when I got a little fatigued I never felt like I needed to completely stop and catch my breath.

I had also decided that since I didn’t do any solid prep work before this race, I wanted just do it by feel so I left my watch and bike computer at home. It was different and I felt a little naked and lost not being able to look at times, but ultimately I think I liked it better.

The distance from the transition area to the bike mount/dismount was my only complaint. It was ridiculously long. So long that I had time to wonder if the time was getting rolled up into the T1 and T2 times.

The bike course was reasonably hilly but enjoyable, except that there was a lot of drafting going on. At the first turn I tried to pass a group of people but they bunched up so much that I had to drop back because I couldn’t pass a group of six people all riding two by two.

One of the athletes had a bad accident on course and after the race one of the women said she’d been there when it happened. A truck got annoyed by the cyclists on either side of the road and tried to zip between them, went too near a cyclist, who overcorrected on a steep downhill and ended up bloody and in the ditch. When I rode by the police car had moved to block traffic around him and when I came back they were loading him into an ambulance. I really, truly hate when people are jerks on the road. As I was explaining to P about why cyclists don’t and shouldn’t ride in the shoulder, jerks think then they have enough room to pass me and get much too close for comfort. If I ride in the lane, they’re more likely to be safe when passing me because it involves them entering the opposite lane. It makes me so angry that that driver felt like he was in too much of a hurry to pass someone safely and put their lives at risk.

The run course was partially trail, which was nice, but also went down and up a very steep gully, which was not so nice at all. I was pretty done with the race after the gully and still had another 2.5 miles to go. Seriously. I stopped at all the aid stations and tried to find the happiness in running but honestly, I felt pretty crappy. I just wanted to be done. Finally I saw the finish line but I didn’t even try to kick. I was just annoyed by a lot of things that morning (neighbor playing loud reggae at 5:30 that I could hear inside my house, accidentally leaving P at home) and hungry and wanted to go home.

I cleared my things out of the transition area and checked my time. Despite going watch-less, I was pretty close to my self-estimated time of around 1:40, even with all the walking I did on the run course. I also wonder how much quicker that time may have been without the extra distance from transition to the bike mount/dismount line.

I have a couple of weeks until my next triathlon and right now I’m not sure if I’m going to do it or not. It’s an “intermediate” distance but I’m trying to just go by feel at this point. Fortunately, I’m also back on the morning shift for a while and I tend to be able to workout better on it.

 

 

2017 AJC Peachtree Road Race Recap

I’ve wanted to run the AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta for several years, but it just never worked out for my logistically to plan a trip around it. I was thrilled when I found out that I was moving back to Georgia earlier this year and immediately went to register for it only to find out I’d missed the opportunity to guarantee and entry by joining the Atlanta Track Club by about a week. Fortunately, there was still the lottery option so I entered and back in April found out I’d been chosen.

The Peachtree is held on the Fourth of July every year in Atlanta and is a big tradition. Lots of families run it together and there are many people who run it year after year. It’s the biggest sanctioned 10K in the US as well and while I’ve run big races, they’ve all been marathons so I was curious as to how they’d manage to get 60,000 people through a 10K course.

My original plan was to drive up the morning before, but since I’d registered from Alaska before I had a Georgia address, I’d also chosen to pick up my packet at the expo so it was easier just to drive up the day before, go to the expo, and spend the night, run the race and drive home the following day. I found a Hilton Garden Inn near the finish line and by the MARTA station and booked a room there. Side note: parking was $30/night and there were cheaper garages the next block over, I’d do more research in the future because $30 is crazy.

I drove up, checked into the hotel and decided to get some lunch at a noodle place near Georgia Tech. From there it was only supposed to be a 30 minute walk to packet pick up – it was a 30 minute sweat fest. It was hot, sunny, and my Jacks were not as broken in as I’d thought they were. By the time I’d marched my way to the Georgia World Congress Center and realized the expo was at the building furthest from anything, my feet were decidedly unhappy with me.

I got my packet and realized I must have thought this was a longer race and given them a half marathon proof of time. They had corrals all the way back to Z and I was in W and my corral didn’t start until 0900, when it would definitely be hot and there was a red alert in effect for race day. I already hadn’t planned on running this for time but now I knew I’d need to be more conservative than I’d planned.

I limped my way back to the hotel where I changed shoes and did some recon on the MARTA route which conveniently led me to the Lenox Square mall where I did some shopping before heading back to Midtown for dinner and an early bedtime.

I got up early as usual, which was good since the MARTA was very crowded. I got to the start about an hour and a half early and had time to eat a little breakfast and sit in the shade while watching my corral. Most people were wearing some variation of red, white, and blue and I saw a few people dressed up as characters from American history. We started promptly at nine and immediately, people were walking.

Again, I wasn’t out to break any landslide records or even PR, but it would have been nice if they’d reminded people to walk right and run left because the entire 6.2 miles was just people walking four and five abreast all over the road. It was super annoying.

There was a lot of beer and snacks offered on the course, but it was so hot that I didn’t want to eat or drink anything that might make me sick. I stopped at all the aid stations for water and walked mostly up the biggest hill at mile 3.5 because I felt like I was starting to overheat a bit, plus the people around me were slowing to an even slower walk and I was frustrating trying to run around them. I finished up around wave J, which is probably about where I would have been had I submitted a correct proof of time. At the same time, I know I put what race I was submitting included distance so I don’t know why it didn’t just go by my average pace and not total time.

Once past mile 5 it was a lot better, but right before the finish everyone just completely stopped as far as I could see. I heard that someone may have fainted at the finish line and they were trying to aid them, but everything was so backed up by that point it was insane. Eventually we made it through at a walk and I collected my t-shirt and some water and a snack box and navigated my way back to the hotel. I thanked the Ghost of Christian Past again for booking a hotel by the finish line because I was able to shower and change before checkout time which is always a huge mood booster in my book and I was thankful not to have to ride MARTA back anywhere while hot, sweaty, and smelly.

Also, I didn’t get any safety pins with my packet. Fortunately there was one in my travel kit and I used some thread to see the other side onto my singlet.


Overall, it was an okay race. It wasn’t as much fun as Disney races and I think that had a lot to do with the heat, being in the wrong corral, and just complete lack of runner courtesy and them not reminding runners of it throughout the course. I finished in 1:10, and 20,740 out of a total of 55,413 runners who finished yesterday. That is probably my slowest 10K time ever, and still middle of the pack if that says anything about the heat and amount of walkers yesterday.

I may give it another chance next year when the weather will likely be better, but it’s not at the top of my list of races I want to do.

Georgia Bucket List

When I moved to Alaska I made a big bucket list of all the Alaskan things I wanted to do. I didn’t get them all (partly because I didn’t truly understand how enormous Alaska actually is) but it was a lot of fun to make the list and try to cross things off.

There are already so many things I want to do in Georgia. Here’s the very beginning of my list:

  • Volunteer at a race – volunteers are so important to races going smoothly and I would like to be more involved on that side of the event
  • Volunteer with Girls on the Run – I didn’t start running competitively until college but it made a huge difference in my grades and time and stress management. I want to be able to help others find that same release and confidence in being able to set and achieve their goals
  • Join a running/tri club – because moving means I have to make new friends >.<
  • Run the Peachtree Road Race – the world’s largest 10K
  • Finish the Ironman 70.3 Augusta – because how often do you get to do a big race in your hometown? I love that I could sleep in my own bed and be home in time for dinner
  • Run Currahee – I’ve loved Band of Brothers for years and it would be fun to run the same route. There’s also a Currahee Challenge that runs every year, “three miles up, three miles down”
  • Bike commute regularly – now that I live closer to work and it will be more temperate (though hot and humid), I’d like to try bike commuting for extra exercise and more fun
  • Catch a catfish. I tried a couple of years ago down in Columbus and successfully fed an entire container of chicken livers to the catfish while catching none. I have a few more tricks now that I’m eager to try out.

I am Queen of Excuses

I had a pretty bad week of training last week and even the weekend before. I skipped my Friday workout because I was headed to a triathlon, Saturday was the triathlon, and then Sunday I felt justified in being a slug. I was on a different schedule than normal and it really threw off my groove, plus home stressors just ate away my willpower. I just kept making excuses about how I felt tired and didn’t feel up to the workout planned. Basically, I was being a whiny pansy.

So. Where to from there?

Well, I realized I needed to get back on the train so I committed to solid workouts during some unexpected free time I had at the end of the week and I pushed myself out of my comfort zone with an out-of-the box workout on Sunday with an open water swim (and learned that I am apparently slightly scared of what might be swimming around/under me if I can’t see it) and park bike ride.

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This week I’m committed to getting the work in as prescribed. It helps that I’m back on a more predictable schedule again, but I also know that I can’t give up just because I had a couple of bad days, or even a bad week.

In fact, I had a really excellent swim workout today where I surprised and impressed myself with not only how fast I could swim but also how easy and powerful I felt in the water – I guess all those laps and scary open water swims are paying off!

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This week Training Peaks reminded me, “He conquers who endures.” Yup, I’m going to endure.

Summer Dinners For When It’s Too Hot in the Kitchen

When the summer heat is just too much to even think about having a hot meal (is it really only June here?) I have a few recipes I go to for dinner that are filling and won’t make me feel even hotter than I already am.

Cubed, hacked caprese salad from Smitten Kitchen. I have been a follower of Smitten Kitchen for years now and I love her food. This recipe is absolutely perfect for summer weather and has all the classic bits of a caprese salad – mozzarella, basil, tomatoes, balsamic – but also delicious extras like cannellini beans. I usually just eat this with a spoon and sometimes also throw in a cubed avocado.

Okroshka. This is a Russian soup served chilled, like gazpacho. I like it because it has meat which makes P happy, and lots of veggies which makes me happy. I don’t like the yolks of hardboiled eggs so I just leave those out. It’s also great because you can make it in the morning and leave it alone all day and eat whenever.


Watermelon gazpacho. I feel like gazpacho is a summer staple and so is watermelon so this is just a perfect union of the two. Not to mention that this is the perfect weeknight dinner because it’s just throwing a bunch of ingredients in a blender and that’s it. It dirties almost nothing and is ready in the time it takes you to blend it together. I used a quarter of a watermelon for two adults, so a full-size watermelon would probably be good enough for a family of four. 

Shrimp ceviche. I am 85% certain that my husband first fell in love with me because of my shrimp ceviche. I always add extra avocado and serve it with corn tortilla chips and it’s my signature dish for parties and tailgates. It goes with everything and I never have any left to take home, much to P’s disappointment.

Pre-race Rituals

I am really particular about doing things a certain way and having everything just so. I’m not a completely annoying person about it (I think anyway), I make messes, my clothes end up on the floor and sometimes I take a few days to fold and put my laundry away. But having some particular pre-race rituals really helps me to get my mind and my equipment ready. 

– I lay everything out the night before. I know this is sort of trendy but it (usually) helps me to make sure I have everything I need. I didn’t lay out my goggles at the Tall Pines tri and I forgot them. I lay everything out now. 


– I lube everything up the day before or two days before if I won’t use it. The bike chain, the cleats, everything. I also air up my tires and pack my pump still. 

– I make sure I get there about an hour before the start. This is my happy spot because I can get in, layout my transition area, get marked, and do a little warm up before it’s time for the start. 

– I drink a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. This is my normal routine and I try to keep things the same. I don’t usually eat before a morning workout but I might eat some Cliff blocks or something easy to digest like a banana. I really just don’t want to do anything new or different. 

– Last thing I do is try to go to bed on time or even a bit early since I can have trouble sleeping in a new place. I’ve sort of trained myself to sleep in varying environments with the use of soft ear plugs, a sleep mask, and some lavender essential oil and maybe some melatonin. It really helped when I was TDY and sleeping in large open bays with hundreds of other women all in different schedules and with alarms. 

Summer Favorites

Summer has always been my favorite season. I love the long, hot days and the warm nights, BBQs with friends, going to the beach or the pool, and how time just seems to slow a little bit.

SnoBalls. There’s a Pelican SnoBall stand right by my house and I would always see cars dart in there and today I finally understood why. SnoBalls are what snowcones want to be when they grow up. They’re fluffy, delicious, and they have 100 flavors and a multitude of toppings. I had Wedding Cake (it’s my anniversary weekend) and POG (pineapple, orange, guava) with cream drizzled on top and it was heavenly. I am going to be one of those many cars darting in there now, too.

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Grilling! Is there anything more summer-specific than grilling? I know you can grill anytime, I did it in Alaska in the winter (and okay, it was almost always winter) but there’s something about a summer grill session with a cold drink in hand and dogs and kids running around outside that makes me nostalgic. Plus, you can’t beat the smoky flavor of food grilled on open coals and with soaked wood chips thrown in for extra flavor. We left our scraggly propane grill in Alaska and as an anniversary gift to P, we got a combo propane and charcoal grill (and it was on sale at Lowe’s, which is even better!) His dream grill was the Oklahoma Joe combo grill with a smoker box, but we actually have a full-size smoker box already so a smaller grill attachment is sort of redundant.

Fishing. I got hooked (no pun intended) on fishing while living in Alaska and I love it. It’s relaxing and fun and the best part is I can eat what I catch. I’m looking forward to hooking up on some more trout and also landing some bass and catfish.

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king salmon fishing in Alaska

Dogs in bandanas. I don’t know if there’s anything more adorable than a dog sporting a bandana. I have two very fluffy dogs so every couple of months they go to the grooming salon for a bath, trim, and they always come home smelling great, soft and silky, and with a cute bandana that just makes me and everyone who sees them want to pet them because they just look amazingly cute.

 

Finding Discounts

It’s Memorial Day Weekend and while it’s a day for remembrance, it has also come to signify the beginning of summer since all the schools get out and marks a definite wardrobe transition.

Now that I’m no longer making mad money from Alaska COLA, I’ve had to scale back the lavish lifestyle I developed (ha). Part of this is holding off on major purchases for a longer while and/or looking for discounts. Here are some helpful tips I’ve gathered that I use to fund my triathlon training needs and wants.

  • Many brands have bigger discounts or sales over a holiday weekend. Oiselle is having an extra 30% off their sale, Kovey is having up to 80% off, SwimOutlet has up to 80% off in their Memorial Day sale, REI has 20% off one full-price item, and SOAS  has an extra 20% off right now with their code ANNV20.

 

  • Many local stores are also clearing out old merchandise and slightly discounting newer merchandise to attract people to the store. My LBS had an entire table that was 50% off cycling shoes as well as many other accessories.

 

  • I have a toolbar app called Honey that automatically looks for coupons when I’m in the checkout procedure of any store. It doesn’t always work, but it’s so much more convenient than searching for coupons in a separate tab. Plus, it will automatically try them for you so you can just sit back and grab a cup of coffee instead.

 

  • eBay is a great source for some things, especially slightly used clothes. I found a matching tri kit in my size for 25% of what it was brand new, and also a cycling jersey for 30% of its original price. Sometimes people either just get out of the sport, don’t like the style, or just have too many clothes (who are these people?) I’ve tried Postmark but they’re more for regular clothes. For Oiselle, there’s an awesome Facebook gear swap page where women sell their used or even new-but-didn’t-like-the-fit clothes.

 

  • For online shopping, it’s sometimes worth leaving things in your shopping cart for at least a day to see if the company will offer an additional discount. A few times I’ve gotten an emailed coupon to entice me back to a purchase.

On My Mind…

It’s a Free Friday, so I thought I’d just unload some of the other things I’ve been up to. I hope everyone has a safe Memorial Day and enjoys some time with their loved ones and remembering those who aren’t with us any longer.

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  • As soon as I moved to Georgia, I dove right into some big house projects I wanted to get done before the movers showed up. My goals were to pretty much repaint the entire interior of the house with a more cohesive color scheme and remodel the kitchen. It was a LOT of work, especially the kitchen, but I am so pleased with how it’s turned out. I still have to paint the ceilings and the trim and at some point I want to remodel the two bathrooms as well but the big stuff is all taken care of. I honestly love my kitchen now and it’s one of my favorite rooms in the house.
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The original kitchen. Red walls, blue-gray laminate, and yellow oak cabinets. Ew.

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Painted the walls using Sherwin Williams Eider, it took two solid coats to cover the red.

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Used Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations to make yellow oak into white oak

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Used Giani Granite Bombay Black to remodel counters and painted the backside of the cabinets with SW Eider. I decided to keep the hardware because I sort of liked it, and didn’t feel like more $$$.

  • My poor house had no curb appeal and I was determined to fix that. After failing to do my homework and almost killing a hydrangea by putting it in the sunniest spot in my entire yard (seriously, what was I thinking?) I decided to get some help and went to a local nursery. The woman there was so unbelievably helpful not only in choosing plants that would love all the punishing Georgia sun they could get, but also with planning a cohesive color scheme and giving advice on landscaping ideas. If you’re ever in the area, Double B Plant Farm is not only the place to go for help, but it’s also really beautiful just to walk around and find inspiration. If I had an unlimited budget, I’d just bring them out and let them advise me on what I should plant. I’m a pretty lazy gardener so I’m glad they were able to give me some suggestions that fit the space but also my experience level and lifestyle. So far, all the plants are doing well and I’m working on getting my lawn looking less-sad now.

 

  • I made grits for the very first time in my life! If you know me, you know what a shock this is. I’m still shocked myself. I’ve had shrimp and grits in restaurants and had a craving for it last week. I actually had to ask someone where grits are sold in the grocery store because I didn’t know. The recipe came out fantastically and I am sold on making grits (as long as they have a 2:1 ratio of cheese to grits, anyway.)

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  • 2/3 of my pets have gotten to visit the vet in a 24-hour period this past week. Sophie had a scheduled removal of two mammary cysts that have been leaking fluid and then Twister got spooked enough to run out of the backyard and spent the whole night having Fight Club with two other cats until I found him on the roof and rescued him. Zane feels left out and doesn’t understand why I obviously prefer the other two and they get special car trips.

 

  • Two swallows made their nest on my front porch and their eggs just hatched. There’s five baby birds in there now and it’s fun to be able to watch them at such a close distance. Their parents are amazing in how they seem to have a telepathic connection in avoiding each other in flight as they swoop in to feed them. Twister also enjoys watching them from his cat tree by the window.

 

Bike Maintenance for Beginners

The first day I walked into my new-to-me LBS, I was only looking for some cleaning help for several thousand miles of road grime but when they told me there was a basic maintenance class held every month and you could bring your bike in and that it was free, I knew I needed to go.

For too long my bike maintenance has consisted solely of lubing my chain and hoping nothing would go wrong. P gave me some tire levers as an anniversary gift once and I only knew what they were because of the packaging they came in. I knew I’d have to do some learning if I wanted to be confident enough to wander further from home not to mention if I had a break down at a race (my worst nightmare.)


This class was perfect for that. Phil, the owner of Chain Reaction in Evans, Georgia first showed us the basics of cleaning and then lubing our bikes. I knew I needed to lube the chain and sort of how to clean it, but I never knew I also needed that same attention to the derailleurs or even what those were and where to find them. He also showed us how to use the edge of a rag to “floss” the cassette and get it cleaner. I was thrilled with that because it’s been driving me crazy trying to get down in there.

 

Next he showed me how to take the tire off my bike, strip out the tube inside and replace it all back together. Not going to lie, this was more awkward than he made it look and took a couple of tries but I got it all back together by hand and was so pleased with myself when I inflated it and didn’t have a pinch flat. I am sure now that if I get a flat while riding, I’m not doomed to walk back in shame.

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It wasn’t too bad, really. I didn’t have any problems getting the tire off but I tried putting the tube and the tire back on at the same time with hilariously bad results. Phil came over and told me what I was doing wrong so I had to start over.


The last thing he showed us was how to repair a broken chain and even how to ease a stiff chain link. This part was straight magic to me because I had no idea that was even possible. I almost hope this happens because it was so amazing to watch him “break” a chain and then knit it back together so easily with just little chain links.


It was such a good experience and I’m so glad that the wonderful folks at Chain Reaction take the time after the close of business to instruct some people on basic bike maintenance. It was also interesting to see all the different bikes and the little differences between them and I couldn’t help but feel like when I watch how magic tricks or done or see how they created special effects – I know now that it’s not that complicated but it just seems so amazing to me that it’s that simple and that even I can do it. And after admiring all the different bikes there, I really want a beach cruiser to take down and ride by the Canal now, or a mountain bike for the trails out here.