Saturday, October 22, 2016

Changes that have helped me

I've been swimming at the same pool for two years. When I first started, I was talking to a woman who was swimming. She was a triathlete, training for IMAZ. (This was October, so her race was coming up).

The reason I even noticed her that day is because she wears this long sleeved shirt when she swims. For 2 years, I have been watching her swim. She swims several days a week and always swims while masters is going on.

The reason I bring her up is because in two years, I have never seen her do anything more than swim back and forth, lap after lap, no change in pace. I haven't seen her swim make any noticeable improvements in speed.

One day this week, I had a solo swim. I saw the woman with the long sleeved shirt again. I started thinking about the things that I have done to improve my swim. Swimming is tough because it's tough to learn how to improve by reading articles (for me).

Big pull? That didn't mean anything to me. I thought I was pulling big.
Overgliding? Gliding? We're supposed to glide, so why is it bad?
Kicking? Who needs it as a triathlete? We're saving our legs.

The list goes on an on.

I thought I'd write about some of the things I have done to improve my an athlete's language, not a coach's language or as someone who has a long history of swimming.

These are issues that helped me.

1.) Regular lessons/masters. Ask for help. Coaches can't read your mind. You have to take an active part in your development. If you want help, you have to ask for it.

2.) Remove the word "gliding" and "overgliding" from your vocabulary. When your arm is out of the water for recovery and ready to start the pull, as soon as your arm is fully extended in the water, start your pull. The glide is result of your pull. Think of it this way, when you run and your foot hits the ground, your other leg isn't stopped at the top, right? If you did that, you'd stop running. The same thing applies to swimming. AS SOON AS YOUR arm is extended, START YOUR PULL. Don't pause. Don't stop.

3.) Stand up. Put your arms straight above your head, completely stretched out, stretch as far as you can go.....That's called your "reach". You need to do that for every single stroke. (That's why body rotation is so important. You reach further when you have rotated to your side. But, don't worry so much about body rotation. It tends to happen naturally once you get the other pieces.)

Next, stay standing. Bring your arms down to a goal post position. Now back up to your reach. Now back down to goal post position. THAT'S WRONG BUT MANY PEOPLE SWIM THAT WAY. Instead of pulling, they bring their arms into a goal post position. I used to swim that way, so it's really easy for me to see in other people.

Try this: Back into your reach position, both arms stretched as far up as you can.  Pretend you are a cheerleader. Leave one arm up, move the other down, so it's 90 degrees from the other arm. (If you turn sideways, it'll look like the letter L).

For all intents and purposes, that's what your pull is supposed to look like. Not a goal post. When you complete the pull, you can brush your thigh. When you do that, your body will rotate toward that side.

When you complete the pull, you can brush your thigh. When you are in the "L" position, think about how deep in the water your arm is. When your arm is deep, you are moving against more water resistance, which means your pull is pulling you further. (This is called "Force"). The L is simply to make a point, your arm will bend a bit as you dig deep.

One quick point. You might hear people talking about the HIGH ELBOW. Don't worry about the "high elbow". That's one of those things that really messed me up. I couldn't get the "high elbow" yet "deep pull". In my head, those were contradictions. Work on pulling deep or the L. (Again, your arm will have a natural bend. It won't exactly be straight like an L).

Have you ever been on a beach? You make a sand castle and all that sand on top is easy to move. The deeper you dig, the harder the sand is to move. It's the same thing with swimming. It will feel harder, but you will be moving faster and further with every pull.

When you put steps 2 and 3 together, one hand as soon as it hits the water, starts the pull. While on the other side, the arm is brushing the leg and coming out of the water. Sounds complicated, so for me, I had to think about ONE thing at a time.

4.) Kicking. If you have access to a deep pool, go into the deep end where you can't touch the ground. Stay vertical. Put your arms straight up and kick. The goal is to keep your head out of the water.
If you cannot keep your head out of the water, it's time to work on your kick.

Here's what I learned: if you are pedaling like a bike, you'll sink. Your kick is coming from your knee down.

Your kick needs to come from your core. When coach used to tell me this, it didn't make sense. So, think of your kick as a "full leg" kick. Your kick actually starts from your hips, quads and hamstrings. They need to move! When you do that, you engage your core....automatically. When you think about it, what is the strongest part of your legs? The tiny muscles in your shins and calves? Or the big muscles in your butt, quads and hamstrings?

Take advantage of those big powerful muscles.

5.) The biggest change that I had in my kick was when my coach had me switch to a 6 beat kick. Most triathletes don't kick or kick with a slow 4 beat kick.

This next part is something for you to think about. The kick is a numbers game. Don't think about it when you're swimming. Just think about it logically.
The 4 beat kick sets your body into poor movement. It's 2 kicks per leg per side. A 6 beat kick is 3 beats per leg per side. This is important because with a 2 beat (or kick) per side, you are finishing your kick with the leg on the same side as your pull and your body rotation. Now, this isn't something me or any other swimmer really thinks about. It's simply an "odds" and "evens" game.

On the 6 beat kick, you finish your kick with the opposite leg.

Again, an easy way to visualize this. Put yourself into a crawling position. (Get on your hands and knees). When you move forward, you move your left leg with your right arm. You can't crawl if you move your left leg at the same time as your left arm.

That's the 6 beat kicking concept. When you do 3 beats (an odd number), you are finishing your kick on the opposite side of your pull which is again creating power (or force) and pushes you through the water.

The biggest changes I made:
a.) full leg kick
b.) 6 beat kick

I can tell you that switching to a 6 beat kick was not easy. It's very tiring because it feels (initially) like you are over kicking. Once you get it, it feels much more natural and as though your kick is now a productive part of your freestyle.

One more thing that will help. These fins were recommended to me by my coach.

If you are using long fins, you are learning a very slow kick. (Sure, you move really fast, but it's because of your fins, not because you have a strong kick. Trust me. I swam with long fins for a long time). The reason these fins are so great is because of the notch in the top. In order to really move in these fins, you need to use a fast (6 beat) and powerful (full leg) kick. These fins really make your legs strong.

6.) Pace. Like the woman at the beginning of this post, are you swimming all workouts and all intervals at the same pace?

Do you run 400 meters at the same pace you run a 10K? I hope not. The same rule goes for swimming.

When you swim a fast 50, it should leave you winded. If your 50 pace is very close to your 100 pace, you're either not going fast enough on your 50's or not going fast enough on your 100's. Likewise, your 100 pace should be considerably faster than your 1000m pace.

When you use toys: fins, pull buoy, paddles, even your easy pace, with toys, should be considerably faster than your pace without toys. (If it's not, you might have found a weakness in your stroke).

Just like running or riding, you have to teach your body to move fast if you want to get faster. If you swim at the same speed all the time, you are only learning how one pace feels.

Your swimming days should consist of speed days (USRPT), mid-distance, long days, hypoxic,  and (yes) even stroke days (to stregthen to entire body and your freestyle).

7.) A word about Flip turns. No one fucking cares. Do it or don't. It doesn't matter. An open turn is a completely legal turn in the swimming world. Don't let any arrogant ego driven person tell you that you need to flip turn.

I have always done flip turns. (I taught myself from youtube videos. Then, my coach at masters taught me how to clean it up). I do them because I want to.

Other than coming off the wall faster, I don't really see any benefit that you get from flip turning. Some people claim that it gives you hypoxic training, but you can do hypoxic workouts without flip turning.

Do what you want. I don't care if people flip turn or not when I swim with them.

That's it. Maybe this helps you. Maybe not. For me, swimming was the hardest of the three to learn because it is definitely more of a finesse sport. Don't get me wrong. You have to be strong to swim, but there are more nuances in swimming than in running and cycling, in my opinion.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

2nd Annual Birthday 5K

Having adult kids means finding new and fun ways to celebrate birthdays & holidays.

Last year, I had the most brilliant idea to tell JMan & Googs that I wanted them to run a 5k with me for my birthday. Afterwards, we'd get breakfast.

Voila! A tradition is born.

Funny story.....

Not only did I come in 1st F40-49 with my very FIRST, 1st place in a running race.

But, Jman & Googs tied for 2nd in the M20-29.

I know. I know. It's hard to believe they're in their 20's now.

Before breakfast group selfie.

Because Mr. Tea is home sick, and there's not much more fun that recovering from blood clots in the lungs than being sick on top of's a picture of me and Mr. Tea.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Off season

The off season is here: the time when triathletes let out a collective sigh of relief.

How about a Mr. Tea update?
After a few weeks of many ups and downs, this week is the best week he has had. He is still restricted to 20 minutes of walking a day. His pain is noticeably less. That's been the hardest part. You can never know what it's like to feel completely helpless until you have to watch someone suffer. This week has been better, though, much better. He was able to sleep through the night for the first time, last night.

My off season just started. I looked over my season, (races, training, nutrition). I considered my goals for next year. I didn't really expect to do this right now, but maybe coming off my season, recovering from my season and having a clear head, means it is the right time.

I went over to my keyboard and started pounding out goals. I accomplished everything I wanted at the sprint distance. I knew what I wanted to do next but no idea how to get there. I need help.

I hammered out a novel and sent it over to Liz. I'm sure I'm not the only athlete to send over rambling emails. I listed where I am; what my long term goals are; what I thought would be good short term goals to get me to the big ones.....and I sent over a tentative race schedule.

We went back and forth for awhile. She advised against doing the 70.3 (given my goals). That's now off my calendar. 

When we finished, I had a clear plan of what next year would look like. We figured out when I would race and what distance. I gave her certain goals and left them with's up to HER to figure out how in the hell to make this all happen. My job is easy. I just have to do the workouts.

Besides all that and when I returned from vacation, I decided to get back onto my nutrition plan. It was totally fun stuffing my face with all the food

But I felt it. I was ready to get back into it. For me, it works really well to let loose: go on vacation or really enjoy holidays, just eat whatever I want for a time. When it's over, I'm incredibly motivated to go back to my normal eating. 

For the past 2 weeks, I've done just that. 

I looked at my nutrition for the past year. I could easily see where I did well and when I struggled. I decided to take the off season to experiment a bit more. I also decided that I would drop a little more fat. I gave myself 3 weeks to find my starting point. In another week, I'll take down my measurements and decide what I want to do. 

One of the things that I'm doing is more of tapering my carbs throughout the day. Instead of just randomly eating throughout the day, I'm putting more thought into it. My breakfast will, now, always have some sort of potato. I've found that this is really giving me a boost throughout the day. In the past, I would just have eggs and veggies for breakfast. Then at lunch, I'd have potato or rice. So far, this new structure seems to be working much better for me. My volume is low enough that I don't have to have those carbs at every meal, but having them at breakfast has been a game changer for the past 2 weeks.

I did the same thing with training. I looked back over where I did well and other times that I didn't do so well. I know that moving to the Olympic distance is going really challenge me with increased in volume and intensity. I feel really good about the strides I made at the sprint. I feel mentally ready to really tackle the oly for the first time ever. 

REALLY GO AFTER IT....not just muddle through it.

What else can I say? The rest of Oct, Nov & Dec are my off season. Then, I get ready for my early season races. 

I have some running races coming up (including my BIRTHDAY 5K) and the Turkey Trot (for family bragging rights).  I'm taking time off from Strava. (My workouts automatically upload as private. Unless I make it a point to change them, you won't see much there).

I will blog. I tend to get more introspective as the off-season goes on. Hey, what else will I do when my time isn't filled up with training?

This weekend is my Birthday 5k. 

Don't worry. We'll return to the CRAZY in January.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

I'm ready. Are you?

Oh, the off season. It's that glorious time.

Since my return, I have been enjoying recovery time....and sadly, working on the FAT FACTOR.

Dessert at every meal will do that to a person. I don't discriminate; that includes breakfast.

The good news is the the jiggle factor was probably at a 10 on Monday. Now, it's down to a nice comfortable, soft place to fall: 7.

Slowly but surely, I have been coming out of my food/race coma and started writing down goals for next year.

For the past years, I have been learning how to race. Every time someone asked me about doing a certain race or distance, I'd respond with, "I'm not ready."

I know that was confusing for so many people, but I didn't know how else to say it. "Ready" wasn't a time or a placing or anything tangible. It was a feeling. I had to learn how to give what the race required.

(OFF TOPIC: Dave, it was "Hold on, Cupcake". To this day, probably, still the BEST race mantra EVER.)

I had to learn to trust myself. That doesn't mean that every race will be perfect. It doesn't mean every race will be a PR.

It means that at every race, I will bring my best effort and attitude. I learned that when I bring those things, my race is a success regardless of my finish time; regardless of where I place.

Now, I'm ready to take that attitude to longer distances.

Early Spring, I will be doing my favorite Oly race.

Then, I may  just managed to convince a friend to do a 70.3 with me.

That's right folks. I'm voluntarily doing another 70.3. (I'll tell you which race, later. We're waiting for some things to fall into place.)

After that, I will be going back to Nationals and will once again be racing the Oly on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday; because where's the fun in going all out without being ridiculously sore?

We'll see where my head and heart is in Sept/Oct. I tentatively have the NV races on my schedule.

What about Ironman, you ask? For the first time in 8 years, I can see myself doing one. I don't know when. It could be in 2 years. It could be 10, but at least that door is open now.

My goals haven't changed either. I still have those really stupid big goals lingering out on the horizon. This year, I learned something. I can work on multiple goals at once. Triathlon isn't black or white. It's too complex for that.

Reaching for your goals is a complex structure. This is the journey I have been waiting for. I am ready.

Monday, October 3, 2016

What happens in Vegas

Ends up in my blog

Going into this race, I had so many ups and downs that I almost didn't even bother.

If you are a regular reader, you know what the last (almost) 2 months have been like.

This race was supposed to be a mini vacation with Mr. Tea. Because of everything going on, he decided to stay home. It will take him awhile to feel comfortable leaving. The doctor told him no more than 20 minutes of walking. Going to Vegas and/or a race would mean quite a bit more walking than that. 

I drove to the race. I love road trips. Normally, they help me clear my head. Unfortunately, the day I drove through Utah, a cold front moved in. It was 5 hours in the pouring rain. I stopped every hour to take a breather. At every stop, I thought about turning around.

Have you ever been emotionally and physically exhausted? I was battling guilt of leaving....I shouldn't's not fair that I go on vacation and have fun.

Eventually, I got to St George. St George where the weather is completely different than every other city in UT. The sun was out, and it was 95 degrees. I decided to stop to eat for an extended break. I walked around in the sun, and my mood just picked up immediately.

Believe it or not, even when I got to Vegas, I was still doubting that I'd do the race. I was tired from lack of sleep. I had a headache. This race wouldn't mean anything.

The problem was there was a voice in my head that kept can win this race. I had looked up finish times to give me an idea what the course was like. This was a standard sprint. Yet, finish times for the bike and run were considerably slower than a regular sprint. I entered my bike data into BBS. It told me that i could expect about a 38 min bike time. I knew then that the bike was tough. I assumed from the run times (and I checked all age groups) that the heat and hills were going to make this a tough race.

Do I do the race? Do I just take some time off and relax in Vegas?

And I thought about regrets: what people regret the most. They regret *not* doing something. Not *doing something and failing".

For some reason, the race was pulling at me. I wanted to be pushed. The average bike time for this 12.4 mile course was 45 minutes. In my age group, it was 47 minutes. Yet, BBS was telling me I could have a 38 minute bike. 

Would that be possible? Could I actually do that?

I had to do it. Had to. I wanted to prove to myself that I really had something with my bike ability....I wasn't just making up this shit. I'm fucking good on the bike. Let's see how good I can be.

With all that, you might think I'd be nervous....pressure to perform and all that. It was quite the opposite. This was the most unbelievable year I've ever had. I told Liz that I wanted this race to simply be a celebration of the most unexpected year ever.

After a long day of driving, a great dinner and a fun night of Thursday Night Football in the booking room........I decided the race was one.

The next morning, I was in a particularly chipper mood.

I did an easy ride, an easy swim. I pretty much did whatever I wanted. I ate ridiculous amounts of foods that weren't good for me....all weekend long.

I set the alarm for 3:45 Sat. I ordered room service to arrive at 4am and went to bed.


That morning, I had more confidence than I've ever had. No nerves. Nothing. This would be my celebration race.

It really lived up to every possible way.

That morning, I met a woman in the 50-54 ag. I certainly didn't know it at the time. We got along great and hung out all morning. She gave the probably the single most greatest piece of advice EVER. (I later found out she won the 50-54 age group and had been at Nationals this past year. 

As the swim was getting ready to start, I lined up right in front. My goal: Be first. Period. I am capable of doing this. At the last minute, the swim course was changed. My understanding is that Lake Mead often gets some crazy weather and questionable swim currents. Nevada had a cold front coming in, and the winds were expected to get pretty crazy. 

When we started, I immediately pulled to the front. There were 3 women ahead of me but I didn't care. As soon as we made the first turn, we were swimming into the current. This was the longest stretch.

This is where my swim strength comes in.

One by one, the women dropped off. I looked up and saw the previous waves. (They started 10 min before us). I picked up my effort. I wanted to get through the sea if swimmers as fast as possible.

As I came up to the swim finish, I knew I was in first of all women +40. (I was 3rd overall on the swim and 1st in my wave which was all women +40).

The run to transition is a challenge. It's a rocky terrain. I brought the worst flip flops ever. My feet were slipping all over the place. My run was more of a stumble. Still, I was joking with the volunteers and other athletes.

Today was my day. I was enjoying ever step of it....every slip....every stumble. For those are the moments that make up triathlon. 

Now it was time. I had something to prove to myself.

I jumped on the bike. I had it set up in the smallest gears, knowing that we start climbing immediately.

I glanced at my speed (10mph). I glanced at my power 250 watts. Don't worry about your speed. BUT HOLD THOSE WATTS. No one can keep up with you if you do that.

This is a hilly course. Going out was uneventful. It was up and down, up and down.

All week, the news was taking about the Vegas cold front that would bring strong winds. The winds started picking up.

I had a plan for the wind. Go aero. Go as tight as I could and ride as hard as I could. BBS said that I would maintain 18.3 mph on this course. (My actual speed was 19.4mph. I have had a jump in bike fitness, but we have not tested recently because Liz and I are working on other things).

One by one I was passing the men from the previous waves. I didn't see other women, but I knew they were ahead of me.... How many? No idea. I didn't even know if someone in my age group was ahead of me. Although, I was pretty certain I was in first.

I stayed tucked and drove through the headwind. I was going faster and faster. My speed was increasing. My watts were increasing. My legs started burning. 

Then I saw a guy. I decided to catch him. The headwind was beating on us, but I took the lid of my watts and gave it everything I had up the hills. I didn't coast on the downhills. 

I catch the guy. On a huge downhill, were start big deal.... We're only going about 40 mph.

He was the nicest guy. We dismount and start running.

During the run, I hear someone behind me saying, "hold this pace. You got this. You are in first. I'm going to try to stay with you." It was bike guy. He told me his birthday was coming up. I told him MY birthday was coming up. We have the same birthday. He is turning 47 and me 49. I told him as soon as we make it to the top of this 1.55 mile hill, it's time to turn on the speed.

At that point, I lost him. I took off with whatever I could muster on the rocky terrain and steep hill. I almost fell 3 times.

I ran as fast as I could.

It was a risk I had to take. I was not going to be passed in the last half a mile again. It wasn't going to happen.
Then, I caught up to a monster of a guy. I struggled to catch him. He looked like a body builder. I said, "you move awful fast for a big guy". He laughed and said he weighs 250lbs. Ridiculous. He was like a gazelle. I was running 8:15 down the hill, and he was running faster.

It's weird being in the lead. It's weird because you don't see any women. Only one women passed me. She ended up coming in second 30-34..... But my overall time beat hers. The only time I saw other women was after the turnaround. Even then, they were minutes behind....I knew they wouldn't be able to catch me, if they were in my age group.

That didn't matter though. I wasn't going to allow them to catch me.

At this point, it's hot. (Later in my car, my phone weather app said 98 degrees). I had fueled well enough. I made all the adjustments for the heat and wind. (Wind dehydrates a person faster than no wind).

All day, I kept saying "this race will be won by the mentally strongest person."

I didn't let the heat bother me. I grabbed a cup of water at the 2 aid stations. One I drank, one I poured over my head.

When I crossed the finish line, I didn't know what my overall time was. I felt like I could do 1:35. It was tough though. It's hard when you don't know a course or the weather. Still, without being cocky....I thought I could do sub 1:30, without really knowing what the conditions would be like.

I finished the race in 1:29:44.

I had the 3rd fastest swim of all women.

I had the 2nd fastest bike split of the day. First on the bike was a woman in the 35-39 age group.

I was 3rd in my age group on the run.... Officially, the best ranking I've ever had coming off the bike.

I had a 6.5 minute lead over second place and never knew it. Run like you stole something....I gave it what I had for this race.

When I crossed the finish line, I looked for my bike and run guy. I could find him.

I went over to pull results and almost fell over.

I came in first.

For a race that I didn't even know was going to happen.... At a race that came after weeks of taking care of Mike and working every bit of my schedule around his needs..... At race that happened after taking care of EVERYTHING to keep a house and a business running...I broke down. 

I did it. The cards weren't in my favor, but I didn't care. I was going to fight for every bit of that course. When we turned into the current on the swim, I said, "you're a fucking swimmer. Let's do this!"

When the wind picked up and rocked me around on the bike, I thought, "You can fucking do this. Everything you have RIGHT NOW"

On the run, I paced that hill and when I got to the was game on.

Two more things (I know this post is getting long).

1.) Lake Mead, Nevada is an amazing place to race. This whole race was absolutely awesome from the triathletes to the volunteers to the RD (who does a number of races in CO).  I highly recommend any of the races. If you are a flatlander, be warned.....this is not an easy course. If you live in CO, you probably already train on hills. Of course, training has a lot to do with it. Liz had me doing some pretty tough strength building bike workouts. The result was I flew up the hills.

2.) Being away for the weekend and not having to take care of anyone but myself was really awesome. As it turned out my friend Eric was also in Vegas. He did the St George marathon in a smoking 2:38. 

Time alone: I had a lot of time to think about everything.  I looked back over my season,  I have accomplished what I wanted to at the short distance. I'm ready for the next step.

Get ready for something BIG.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Melissa Stockwell: Bronze medalist

My Coach Liz Waterstraat and Coach Jen Harrison co-coached paratriathlete Melissa Stockwell to and through the Paralympics.

Melissa earned a Bronze medal in Rio.

If you have a few minutes, read her story here.

This picture is of them at the Chicago Tri, where they competed as a relay team right before Rio.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A PR & a podium

I've been running for 33 years. I've never once stepped up on the podium at a running race. The closest I've ever come was my race in March. I came in 7th.

Since Liz and I are working my run fitness, I was really happy to find a new 5k race on the same course that I PR'd in March.

I PR'd the 5k in March; then again at Nationals (last month).

My plan consisted of completely new strategy: Go out as hard as I can and see what happens. The 5k is short enough where you don't have to hold back. Of course, there are consequences. If you don't hold back,'s a lesson in pain management. If you do hold back, you wonder what you could have done.

I chose the lesson in pain management.

For the first time ever, I looked at the other runners and decided to line up in the front. I chose a nice little spot behind the guys that looked super fast. Yes, I was totally judging people based on their looks.

The countdown started.

The horn went off.

I immediately regretted lining up at the front.

Once again, I had no pace goal or time goal. I was really hoping to PR. I checked in with my pace at the half mile, 1.55 mile, 2.5, etc. For the most part, I race by effort.

I ain't gonna lie. This 5k really hurt. I was in pain before I even reached the turnaround.

I kept saying to myself, "Just hold this effort. Whatever the pace is, just hold the effort. Once you hit the turnaround, that's when it's really going to count."

I kept my eye on a woman in a tutu. All of a sudden, I realized I was catching up to her. I focused on her with the goal of catching and passing her.

If you race 5ks regularly, you'll notice a difference in how people race shorter races versus longer races. Anyway, MY experience is that in a half marathon, if you pass someone during the race (not the end), they won't really fight you on it. You can catch them, pass them....and you don't really see them again. Everyone is pacing their own race. (That could just be because historically I'm a middle of the pack runner.)

In a 5k, if you pass are racing them. As soon as I passed the tutu, I felt her on my shoulder. I really really wanted to shake her off. 

I started pushing the pace a bit more. I hit the turnaround and saw her about 3 cones behind me. That's when I saw another woman cut the course. She was about 5 cones behind me and sure as shit.....she turned around and was now ahead of me.

None of us like cheaters. I don't know her age group. But there were not many women in front of me. She very likely took a podium spot from someone because of what she did.

The last 1.5 miles is about guts. Nothing else. What do I think about?
"12 minutes, and it's over. You can do this for 12 more minutes."

"With a half a mile, I want you to go as hard as you can."

"Your legs will do whatever you tell them to."


The cruelty of this course is that it is an out and back along the top of a dam. Perfectly flat, but it's a mental course. You can see the turnaround from the start and the finish from the turnaround.

I knew at the last bend that I had a half mile left. That's when I thought about all those half mile repeats I'd done at ridiculous paces. 

I can do this. I know I'm super close to a PR. 

Quarter mile.......I can now see Mr. Tea (who wanted to see me race since he missed my season).

I can't smile. I can't wave. I just need to focus. I'm staring at that DAMN finish line, which doesn't seem to be getting any closer.

That's when the clock comes into focus. I'm going to break 27 minutes. For the first time ever, I'm going to break 27 minutes, but it will be close.....painfully close.

I start running with everything I have left. 

When I cross the finish line, I'm dizzy. I can't even stand.

I knew I was really close to breaking 27 min. Did I do it?

Mr. Tea came up to me. I still couldn't stand up. He said, "YOU DID IT. You broke 27 minutes! 26:51!"

Wow. I did it. I'm *in* the 26's now. 
We walked back to the car.

That's when I found out that I was 3rd F40-49 and 26th overall (male and female) out of +500 runners. (I'll have to double check that 26th later. I'd really like to know where I was among women. There were not a lot of women ahead of me.)

My first running podium......and I left the race.

Who would have thought that I'd finally podium TODAY????