Sunday, July 28, 2013

4th of July weekend. And the training begins...

4th of July Weekend

Representing the HHRC
Elle: We were lucky enough to spend the 4th at a family friend's beach cottage in Point Judith, Narragansett, Rhode Island. And it was HOT. And humid. But still pretty freaking nice. We drove down the morning of the 4th. We both wanted to get a run in, I did 4.6 miles.

Webb: I, on the other hand, had a speed workout to do. Tuesday night is my usual speed session with SEAC>Elite; however, on the 2nd I was held up at work late and missed practice. No worries. I searched online for the nearest high school or junior high track, got the workout from Dan and had a mission. The main part of the workout was 6x1000m. During the warm-up I felt pretty tired. No big deal. That's what warm-ups are for, to get blood pumping. As I was running I noticed the sun dropping steadily behind
the trees that circled the track. Excellent. In no time, I would be running in the shade and it should be cooler. I did the post-warm-up drills and marked the 1,000m spot. Boom! First interval was a little too fast, but not super fast. Second interval was better but still a touch too fast. Third interval ... complete and utter shutdown. My body failed me. First the legs started to go, then the mind. I stopped about 350m in and just walked. I gave myself a good pep talk about finishing the workout even if not as prescribed. I then started jogging and within 25m starting walking again. I had nothing. I conceded defeat, grabbed my water bottle and headed for the car.

Elle:  We rewarded ourselves with a sea-side dinner on the back deck of the Narragansett Grille, overlooking the ocean. Although totally unplanned, we were lucky enough to be able to watch not one, not two, but three fireworks shows from that location. Sweet.

FRIDAY: Brick Day!

Elle: Of course we made sure to watch the Tour de France every day - I even brought my computer for just that purpose. There's just something so special about Phil Liggett's voice first thing in the morning - it's one of my favorite summer traditions. And then, of course, reading Jens Voigt's blog post about his take on the day. Gawd I love the TdF.

Webb: The plan was to do a 25 mile bike around Narragansett followed by a 30:00 transition run. The workout was not supposed to be particularly intense or even challenging really. I put together a loop based on a couple of different Strava routes I found. That area is marked by rolling hills everywhere. It turned out to be a beautiful ride, except for the wall we unwittingly encountered. It was mercifully short and menancingly steep. I was too busy focusing on my front wheel to check the grade. I think what made it worse was that we had to stop at the foot of the climb - a 4-way controlled intersection with traffic - so we could not carry any momentum into it. Ugh. I can still hear the pedals creaking under my feet.

Once back at the beach cottage, we made a decent transition into our run. I used to be adept at transitioning from cycling to running. In fact, I had never felt the dead or wobbly legs that so many triathletes complain about coming out of T2. It has always been a natural transition for me. But at some point in 2013 I lost my brick mojo. My legs have just not been snappy off the bike. That was my goal for the transition run. Not to regain my mojo, but to start the process of finding it again.

Sushi & drinks with tiny umbrellas
Elle: So, Webb is down-playing that 'little' hill we encountered just a bit. Like he said, we were at the stop light. He motioned that we had to take a sharp left, and then we looked up and it hit us like a ton of bricks - are you kidding me? I starting have memories of  St. Croix...

Webb: With a successful transition brick behind us and feeling a little fatigued, we decided to go see a movie. Elle located a cinema that looked like it would have dining spots nearby. We decided to just go there and see what dinner offerings were there. After parking, I immediately spied a sushi restaurant and announced that was what I wanted. Elle was totally in too. Aces! Now all we needed to do was order and eat in time to catch the movie. (Cue: Sad trombone.)

Elle: The goal was to see "Man of Steel", which was recommended to us. However, we lost track of time amidst the delicious spread of maki and beer. Oh well.

Point Judith, RI
SATURDAY: Run and swim
Webb: The plan was simple for me: Get up early-early and get my long run in before the heat came on and/or the day got away from me. I had 10 miles on the schedule. Since Elle is still coming along on her recovery, this was to be a solo effort. I woke up about an hour later than I intended. The sun was already out and rising in the sky, yet it was merely warm. I turned on the Tour to listen while I dressed and ate a light breakfast with plenty of water.

In case you don't remember, Saturday July 6th was Stage 8 - Castre -Ax 3-Domaines - or the coming out party for Nairo Quintana. The stoic Colombian seemed like he was going to make a mockery of all of those who painted Froome in Yellow before the teams even arrived in Corsica. It was too riveting! Watching this unknown Quintana smoothly pass all these great climbers. Meanwhile I was wrapped up in the scenarios of how this would shake up the GC, including the effect it would have on Quintana's leader, Valverde. But then Froome just smashed everyone on the final ascent of the day. Wow what a stage! Just brilliant racing. So yeah, I watched the whole thing, which meant my 10-mile run would begin around 11:30AM.  Oops.

No, not oops, stupid. That is what it was. I thought I was clever. I ran on the road parallel to the coast. We had driven it a few times and I had seen some beach bath houses. I knew they would have water, so whatever. The hills rolled on as the sun continued to rise. It was becoming downright hot. I plodded along managing my effort. I passed the bath houses on my right without stopping for water. At that point, I was well-hydrated and feared drinking too much. The miles melted away slowly until mile 4.5. That is when I began to get tired. I should have turned around but I figured, hey, I can run .5 miles to my prescribed turnaround. At Mile 5 I wondered how I should get back. Truthfully, I felt fine other than being too hot. I wasn't dehydrated but I lacked confidence that the next 5 miles would be ok. I convinced myself to run the couple of miles to the bath houses where I could drink up and hang out if need be. A couple of miles?

By Mile 6 the heat was becoming unbearable. I wasn't in trouble yet so I strategized how to stay out of trouble. My new plan was to run from shade to shade. Any time I came to an extended section of shade, I would stop and walk until I came out into the sun again. The idea was that this would allow me to cool down, even if just slightly. I did this up until nearly Mile 8 when the sun's angle and sparse roadside vegetation offered little to no relief. And where were those damn bath houses? It turns out they were more than a couple of miles up the road. Once there I could not find any water fountains. They had a snack shop open (of course I did not bring cash with me). I took a deep breath and shuffled back out to the road for the final 15 minutes of running ... or more like 25 minutes.

Nearly 30 minutes after I left the bath houses, I entered our small neighborhood and stopped the watch right at 10 miles, which was about 200 feet from the cottage. I took one step and nearly did my Julie Moss impersonation. I righted myself and dragged my feet inside. Immediately I went to the bathroom and started drawing a cold tub. Within minutes I started coming back to life. In the end I was fine and suffered no problems. I ended up running the 10 miles in 1:45. My run in Hell. Lessons: 1. Run earlier, 2. Bring water, 3. Bring money and 4. When you can't find a water fountain fight through the delirium to ask someone.

Elle: It was sooooo hot & humid. I waited until it got a little 'cooler' to do my run, but even still, it hurt. I swear, when Webb showed up it looked like he was about to die - looking at him it was obvious that I had made the wise decision not to run at high noon, in 95-degree heat, with 80% humidity.

Hiding from the sun's
cosmic death rays.
Webb: That post-run cold tub was amazing. After my body cooled down I began drinking in earnest. I not only needed to get back to my baseline, but I need to hydrate enough just to hang around in that heat. Plus we had a bike ride to do on Sunday.

Elle: We really should have done more swimming, but the swells were pretty impressive and scared us off, so we only got one swim in. We swam out to one of the buoys and back to the shore. I did a fine job getting out there, but full on zig-zagged the whole way back. Which is bad for a triathlete, but great if you're a tacking sailboat.

We made a second attempt at seeing a movie. This time, success! We saw 'This is the End'. It was great, better than expected. We laughed through the whole thing. If you liked '40-year Old Virgin' & 'Pineapple Express', you'll love every minute of this movie.

SUNDAY:  Another brick day

Webb: Sunday was supposed to be a lot like Friday, only this time we were doing a 30 mile bike followed by a shorter 15:00 transition run. The idea was more like exercising during a vacation than actual training. Hey, we like to ride our bikes and we like to run. So we just had fun.

Afterwards we talked about swimming again but I think the fatigue had finally caught up with us. We had to decide if we were going to drive back to Boston Sunday night or early Monday morning. Either way we figured we needed to start packing and cleaning up, which pretty much killed any chance of another swim. "We should have swam more," says every triathlete, all the time. We waited until late at night to drive back to Boston.  That was a wise idea - it was much cooler, and, hey, no traffic! Score.

And now the training begins ...

Elle: The week of July 8th marked the first week of my training. Yes, I know everyone else started in February/March and are in peak form as we are in the middle of the season. but I'm just starting. But you have to take things as they come. And I'm trying to stay positive. So I took the big step and hired a triathlon coach. It feels so good to have someone else taking over that responsibility of planning out workouts and such. All I have to do is everything he says. Easy, right? Yeah, after the first week and I was already crushed. Back-to-back spin classes with a 15 minute transition run immediately following the second class, Boot Camp, core work, swimming, running, yeah, I'm training, baby! And holy soreness, Batman! Everything hurts. I'm walking around like an old lady - just not as fast.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Race Report: Cohasset Sprint Triathlon


Elle: Finally, I get to race! Granted, just a week prior I had oral surgery, and still have stitches in my mouth. And barely got cleared by my dentist to do any rigorous exercise. And I haven't been able to do any training to speak of. But still! I was just glad that I was finally getting in the first triathlon of the season. And considering how my year has gone, I had zero expectations. But I was ready to get out there, sport my tri suit for the first time, and get back into the swing of things.

Webb: Elle had to race Cohasset. This was the first race we registered for this season because it sells out so fast. Indeed this year I believe it sold out in 90 minutes for 900 spots. We knew it would be tough to get in, so we wanted to find out about the hype. Why is this race so popular? Does it deserve it or is more like a crowd drawing a crowd? Also five celebrities (of sorts) were going to be in the race.

Here is the deal, if you are remotely famous (but not for being an athlete), then I want to beat you. That is just how it is. It is a flaw of mine. I accept that. This year former US Senator Scott Brown and recent US Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez would be racing. (Apparently both have done it for several consecutive years.) My goal: Beat them. Oh and to come in under 1:10. The other celebrities were all athletes. Olympic swimmer Gary Hall, Jr., was there doing the race again. The big thrill though was racing alongside Dick Hoyt and his son, Rick. If you don't know them, take the time to read about them. They are an incredible example of how sport is about more than just competition. (Yeah, I get the irony about writing that right after talking about the vanity of my goal to beat celebrities.)

Elle: Our good friends Lenny & Lisey had just recently bought a gorgeous home in Cohasset that happens to be right on the race course and less than a mile from transition. They graciously let us spend the night, and it was like being at an upscale boutique hotel. Absolutely lovely. We got there the day before to pick up our race packets and were able to get everything together and ready for race day. We had a nice, early dinner of sushi, and then back to the house to watch the Red Sox and relax. Sweet.

Webb: Mmmmmm tuna and avocado maki.
Race morning, the frosty water awaits...

: Spirits were high in transition on race morning - I think people were happy about the weather. I ended up loaning my extra race belt to one woman, and my body glide to another - hey, it's all about being friendly, and helping out your fellow racers, right? And as always, it's fun running into friends at the races. There were several BTT'ers, of course Beth Allen, and we also saw Leslie, whose husband, David, rode along with us a couple of weekends earlier. In the weekends leading up to the race, Webb and I did some practice rides on the bike course, and one of those times David came with us. We had met in the parking lot, got to talking (of course!), and the rest is history.

Webb: The weather was definitely perfect or close to it. And staying so close to the TA, we were able to get down there in plenty of time to ... wait ... warm-up??? We set up our bikes and gear and then set out for an easy 10 minute jog. The plan was then to hop on the bikes for a 10-minute spin before donning our wetsuits and wading out into the Arctic Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately there was a mix-up in communication that kept us off our bikes. The RD emailed prior to the race recommending everyone just relax and enjoy the event, including going for an easy bike and splash in the water to get acclimated before the race. Well, it turns out that once your bike is in the TA, it does not go out until you are out of T1. That was annoying, although to be honest, doing any kind of warm-up is kinda new to me.

Elle: We were anxious to get in the water, since we heard it was going to be chilly. Holy cold ocean, Batman, it was! It was the kind of cold that gives you a brain freeze when you put your head under. My favorite part was BTT'er Jessica Douglas  coming out of the pre-swim saying, "Well, that's enough of that!"
"You want me to do what
in my wetsuit?

Webb: My bones still ache a little as I recall that first entry into the water. <shudder> Anyway, Cohasset is unique to us in that the swim waves have healthy gaps between them. You are given an estimated swim start, but the way they do it is to wait for the last swimmer of the prior wave to reach a particular buoy. My wave started three minutes later than anticipated and probably a full half-hour before Elle's wave.

THE SWIM: 1/4 mile point-to-point ocean

Webb: I spent longer than I would have liked in that freezing water getting used to it, as if any normal person could get used to it. Standing on the beach waiting our turn I was afraid I would re-acclimate to the beautiful air temperature. I pushed it out of my mind and tried to think about how I was going to manage this dry start. It had been awhile since I had to run into a mass swim start, because this was a definite run-in. We must have had a good 20-30ft of sand to cross before entering the water.
Elle & Leslie - ready to race!

As you might guess, once they sent us off and the adrenaline was surging, the water temp was far from my mind. Once I was knee-deep I remembered back to Elle dolphin-diving at Timberman. I figured I would give it a shot. I leapt into the froth and immediately filled both sides of my goggles with sea water. Wonderful. I went back to high-knee fast-walking whilst simultaneously clearing my goggles. Once in the swim I tried to put my Escape the Cape experience to good use: Find feet and swim straight. I think it worked. But oh wow I was tired. From the get-go I was done. I told myself, forget about the race, just swim, follow those feet, or those, maybe even those, and keep moving. That seemed to work until I turned left toward the shore to make a final, hard push. Oops! Wrong buoy. I had to swim back into the fray and turn at the next (i.e., last) buoy. This was not the start I had planned.

Elle: I actually ended up having a good swim. As soon as the gun went off, we all dashed into the surf, and, like Webb said, with all of the adrenaline running, the water temp wasn't really an issue anymore. And I tried a new technique today, instead of bilateral breathing, I only breathed to the right, and thus swam faster and straighter, amazingly. Things are going well so far!

T1: That's a lot of sand

Webb: Out of the water and up the beach. And up the beach some more. And then up a little more beach. Ok, it wasn't that far. In fact, I've probably had longer runs into T1. It was probably my wacky swim that made it feel like it was far. When I finally arrived at my bike, everything went fairly well. I had a little trouble with the wetsuit, but nothing major. Given my dumb T1 at Escape the Cape, I was much better at getting into my old routine.

Elle: But for some reason my T1 was kinda of a mess. I'd like to think it's due to lack of practice. Or maybe the cold water had frozen my brain a little...

THE BIKE: 12 miles of rolling hills
Webb rocks the bike...

: I didn't know what was going to happen on the bike course. Two weeks prior I woke up with a strained muscle in back. Since then I had done little exercise. For instance, I swam once only to learn that rotating to breathe hurt. That was  bummer. I had done the bike course after the back incident with Elle and the aforementioned David (Leslie's husband). My back didn't bother me much then. But I did that on my road bike and going at an easy pace. On this day I was supposed to be racing, hunched over my aero bars on my tri bike. What would happen? A splendid bike time apparently.

The course is neither easy nor hard; it is challenging. And it is quite possibly the most beautiful sprint bike course I have ridden. St Croix's sprint course is harder and not quite as scenic. It runs through the southern coastal part of Massachusetts that is reminiscent of parts of English wetlands. The non-wetland parts are typical quaint New England towns. I started out pretty hard to test my back. Not only did it not hurt, it felt great. Pretty quickly I fell into a rhythm with four guys as we worked together to push ourselves. About five miles in I accepted that the guys were pushing me too hard so I let them go. Wouldn't you know it, but within a mile or so, we were back at it. All of the guys were great offering each other encouragement. I'm not certain but I think we all cruised into T2 within a minute of each other.
...while Elle rolls the bike

: The bike was fine - I felt good. I  kept yo-yoing with this one woman, which seems to happen kind of often for me. She was good natured about it, and even turned to me at the end as she passed me for the final time and said, "Alright, c'mon, let's go!"

Webb: Yo-yo.

T2: Helmet off! shoes on.

Webb: I was not sure how fast I rode but I knew it felt great. I was in and out of T2 pretty quickly but did not look at my watch until I almost hit the Run Out exit: 45 minutes and change. Nice. All I had to do is run 3.2 miles in under 25 minutes. I can do that.

Elle: T2 - Finally it happened. I did the one thing I'm always afraid of doing - I ran of of T2 with my helmet on! And of course all the people cheering at the 'Run Out' arch yelled as I passed by, "HELMET!!!" Dammit! I unlatched my helmet, ran a couple of steps back and dropped it off right inside the transition area, fully believing that a good samaritan would hold it or return it to my bike. That's the way triathletes are. Good people. (fingers crossed!)

THE RUN: 3.2 uneasy miles

The suffering is evident
Webb: The run is hard. Out of T2 you have about a 1/4 mile of undulating false-flats until you turn right and begin a looooooong, low grade ascent that just takes out of you whatever you kept on the bike. You reach the top and are greeted with a pleasant and too brief descent off to your right. The course then rises up again before taking an easy jaunt onto Jerusalem road. This road is gorgeous even as you are thinking about quitting and sitting on the shoulder to have a good cry. First it takes you up a hill and then drops you down near a wetland where there are birds and beauty and happiness and none of it is for you because you are about to climb a soul-crushing hill in two stages. It sucks. The descent from this monstrosity brings no relief. It is not that your quads will tremble, it is quite simply because you are done, even if you are not finished, and there is still .7 miles. Or at least that is how I felt.

I was so worn down climbing the first hill out of T2 that I told myself not to look at my watch until I made the summit of Jerusalem Hill. Two weeks earlier (the day before the back symptoms arrived) I set a new 10-mile PR on the Firehouse Run that features the famed Newton hills of the Boston Marathon.
Plus my 5k PR off the bike (set in 2012) is under 22 minutes, so I knew (I knew!) if I ran hard I could comfortably make my goal of 1:10. At the summit I glanced at my watch to see how fast I would need to run the final .7 miles. WHAT? 1:06:40??? Even fresh I could not cover that distance to make 1:10. I dug a little deeper and ran it out finishing in 1:11:37.

: The run was baaaaaaad. I could feel my loss of speed due to injuries & lack of training right away. And it was hot. And humid. And hilly. I just did my best and didn't stop. I still passed a bunch of folks, but I was definitely not at my normal, speedy pace. But today was all about getting back out there and having fun. And I was really happy to be there. It was great running past Lenny & Lisey's place, less than a mile from the finish line.
They were clapping and supporting from their driveway and even wrote words of encouragement in the road with chalk - super nice touch!

It felt sooooo good to run under that 'Finish' arch - the first race of the season - DONE! And there was Nicole (whose sister was also racing) and Natasja at the finish line, clapping and taking photos. Gawd, I love this.

Post Race Wrap-Up
Elle: Of course Beth Allen came in first in her age group, that rock star. And even with my less-than-stellar time, I ended up beating Gabriel Gomez (woohoo!), but not Scott Brown, who is surprisingly fast! We hung around post-race, chatting with friends and fellow athletes. All in all, I think a good day was had by all. We packed up our gear and rode back to Lenny & Lisey's glorious home, and then proceeded to take a ride in their super snazzy Caddy to get ice cream. This made Goose very happy (see photo below).

Goose smiles for the camera

Friday, July 5, 2013

Race Report: Escape The Cape Triathlon

Webb: Well it finally arrived: the first triathlon of the season. We selected Max Performance's Escape The Cape sprint triathlon to be our season-opener. The race is so named as it is in the quaint towns of Onset and Wareham, just off Cape Cod (a little over an hour outside of Boston). We have done this race every year - which now stands at four.

Elle: Like Webb said, we've done this race every year since it started. It has a symbolic meaning to us in that way, and also because last year, when the weather was awful, and they had to cancel the swim due to dangerous ocean currents, I secured my first ever first place AG podium finish, which was freaking awesome. You can read all about it here. So the fact that I couldn't race this year stung. A lot.

Escape The Cape

THE SWIM: 1/3 mile point-to-point ocean swim

Webb: I set an aggressive goal for myself two years ago to race this course in under an hour. Last year the RD canceled the swim due to the weather. This year with some new speed in my run legs, I liked my chances. Of course, I needed the weather to cooperate in not turning the race into a duathlon again or wind-driven waves pushing me backwards (see 2011).  Both of these were possible with Tropical Storm Andrea whipping up the east coast.

It rained all day Friday and into the night. All of the meteorologists forecasted that the rains would end early and be replaced by winds gusting to 45mph. Great. Wind instead of rain. I'll take rain any day over wind. Thankfully the towns worked with our favorite race director to push the start time from 8:00AM to 10:30AM to allow TS Andrea more time to make her way through New England. By the time 9:30 rolled around, it was overcast, breezy and basically pleasant. No rain. No gusting winds. And the water looked basically flat. Operation Under One Hour was on!

Except that it wasn't. TS Andrea had done her damage the night before. The RD had to shorten the bike course due to road damage and unsafe levels of sand in the roadway. I was disappointed to a point. Nothing says high-speed crash with subsequent infected road rash quite like sand. It was the right decision.

During the 1/3 mile walk down to the swim start, I chatted with a MA-native, NYC resident. He was a super nice guy and good athlete so it helped me not to think too much about my goal. Quite frankly the only strategy was to go hard until I crossed the finish line. If I thought too much about it, I was going to psych myself out.

Thankfully it was a wet start. For many of you a 65F water temp is not so cold. For me, it is horrifying, even in a wetsuit. I waded out in the water and swam head up to the starting point. I know you are supposed to put your head in the water to acclimate, but I just could not do it. It was soooooo cold. After not very long the air horn sent us on our way. Even though the plan was to go hard, I was not going to go hard on the swim. First, I have been a negligent swimmer this season. Second, when I have swam I have noticed a correlation between increased effort and slower speeds. I needed to focus more on technique and efficiency. And third, I needed to swim straight. The two prior swims at this race I have found myself drifting out towards the bay to the right. My remedy this time was to repeat constantly to myself, "swim to the left, swim to the left." I did that and found as many feet to swim behind as possible. The result was a full minute faster swim than my best time at Escape The Cape. I was off to a good start.

T1: Have I done this before?

The Giro Attack Shield makes
its debut on Webb's head.
Webb: A seasoned triathlete is not immune to becoming cocky about the little things. Standing there dripping at my bike, I was confused. I fumbled around, dropped my helmet three times and generally wasn't sure with anything I did. Listen veterans! Do yourself a favor and run through your routine before your first race of the season. I was surprised that my T1 was not slower, and yet, I know that I could have been :10-30 faster if I had taken the time to rehearse.

Elle: I had a lot of time to kill, so I went to the local breakfast place and had some eggs. It was tough watching all the athletes go by, doing their pre-race run/bike. We had parked a bit down the road, so after breakfast I decided to drop off the excess race bag stuff in the car. When I got there, I was just so tired that I reclined in the passenger seat and before I knew it, I had taken a serious, 30-minute nap. By the time I woke up I realized that I had missed the swim, and that Webb would be coming by soon on the bike. I jumped up and ran out to the road to cheer him on.

THE BIKE: 8.75 miles
The bike leg is normally a 10-mile out and back. As I mentioned above, thanks to TS Andrea the road conditions were unsafe. Luckily the damage was at the turnaround point so we only lost 1.25 miles.

Once I was done fumbling about in T1 and had my bike in hand, I was anxious to ride hard. I hopped on the bike and fumbled around some more clipping my shoes into the pedals. Focus. Focus. Focus. Locked onto my bike, I charged up the short hill that starts off the bike. Down the back side I started to crank away and get some speed going. Pretty soon thereafter a guy passed me easily on the left. Up ahead I placed someone in my sights and worked to reel him in. I was working really hard and was having a hell of time catching him. It was driving me nuts. I could hear his bike making this whining sound and thought to myself, "This guy is out here on a bike in serious need of a tune-up and I can't catch him?" My legs were rapidly becoming fatigued. And that whining sound from that guy's bike. Utter madness! Focus. Focus. Focus. "Wait! Could it be my bike? Might it be a brake?" I stopped and checked the front wheel. Sure enough, my front brake was off-center and rubbing against my wheel. A quick re-centering and I was back on the bike.

I put the brake debacle behind and began making up time. Eventually I found myself riding around (i.e., passing, being passed by) the same group of guys. We were making good time but it lacked organization and became quite frustrating. Obviously drafting is not permissible. However, you can work together by the lead rider setting a pace. The following rider then overtakes the lead rider when he or she begins to let up. It is about forcing each other through peer pressure to keep the pace up, not using someone's slipstream. The wrong way to do it is to surge ahead once you realize that you are being passed only to slow down again once you are back in front. If you are being competitive and can surge ahead and maintain the separation, then do it! You are in race after all. If you surge ahead simply because you can't stomach being passed or are trying to force the other rider into a penalty, then you are just being rude. Surge if you can maintain it, otherwise take the opportunity to work with someone.

I came into T2 with an acceptable time. I would have like to have gone a bit faster, but hey, it is the first race of the season and my focus has been on the run all fall and winter. It was time to put it to the test.

T2: Helmet off, shoes on.

T2 went much better than T1. I gave myself one second to ask, "Helmet off, shoes on. That's it?" Yep, that's it. Time to run.

THE RUN: 3.1 miles
Webb: Running out T2 I noticed something odd: I couldn't feel my toes or the balls of my feet. Hmmm. I I was pretty sure I was running. Feel it? Not really. It turns out that I rely quite a bit on feeling my foot drive through the road. I would guess it was a good mile or so into the run leg when feeling began to return to my feet. When it did, the feeling was mostly pain. You know the pins-and-needles type? Ugh. Anyway, thanks to muscle memory I'm pretty sure it did not actually slow me down.

Unfortunately, I just don't think I had it that day. I ran hard and even tried to push harder into that extra gear that was there - just not presently available. For some reason, I just couldn't get to it. As I crossed the finish line I felt smashed, but not my usual "Is an EMT handy?"- smashed. I suppose I could have run another mile or more at that pace. I should have run faster and felt worse.

I finished a little more than two minutes under an hour. Add back in that 1.25 miles from the bike and I'm pretty sure I would have missed my goal. Subtract the minute or more I should have run faster and now we start thinking about that one-hour goal again. Oh well. It was the first race of the season and there were lessons to be learned/reminded:

1. Rehearse transitions.
2. When taking the bike off the car rack, give it a once-over to make sure all is working order, <ahem> including the brakes.
3.  Pedal with your legs, not your feet, lest they go numb on the run.

Elle: Watching a race that I've always competed in was an interesting experience. The only woman to pass me on the run last year (an elite) was clearly there to settle a score this year. Remember her? I saw Kim readily passing men today, looking fresh as they looked like they were on death's door. I also saw Kyle Damon run by, team director of TEAM We've been involved and are members of the team ever since we saw Running the Sahara, a movie I can't recommend enough. And today Webb was sporting the TEAM triathlon kit. When I saw Kyle run by, I shouted out, "Go!!!", and even in his exhausted state, Kyle clearly was happy to hear the support. A short time later, Webb came by, looking great, as always, but said to me, "I'm dying a little...". Yup, that's about right.

I made my way to the finish line, and who do I see but our good friend Beth Allen (who took first in her age group that day). And there were other triathletes there who we knew, it's kind of a smallish community and it's always nice to see familiar faces. It's one of the fun parts of racing - seeing old friends, meeting new ones. Oy, that sounds really cheesy. Anyhoo, the weather turned sunny and nice and it ended up being a beautiful day. Webb chatted more w/ Kyle (who finished 4th in his AG) and Bill (also from Team, who won his AG!).  It was a good day - sad that I had to sit this one out, but I'll live to race another day.