Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Moving at The Speed of Life

I needed a few days to get my head together.

My days are moving at the speed of LIFE.

You know life is a little bit crazy when you have to set calendar reminders to eat during the day.

That's the point I'm at. Every thing has to be scheduled.

I'm holding it all together. It's just another one of those times where several things collide.

In other words, it's just life.

Most of you know the story of how we started the business and then the several years prior to, during and immediately after the recession.

During that time, our house fell into disarray. Now that our sons are both moved out, we have gone back and forth about what we want to do and where we want to live. (JMan will be home for a few weeks and then moves into his first official apartment). We've talked about moving into a high density type of unit. We've talked about building a home on land.

Over the weekend, we decided to stay in our house....the one that is in really bad shape....and remodel it. The reason for the decision is that Googs is in his last year college (in the Fall). He's been on scholarship the entire time. JMan has only 3 years left (in the Fall). Since we had saved for two kids worth of college, well, that put us in a good position when Googs got the scholarships.

This means that when JMan graduates, we can pay off our mortgage (which will have about 10 years left).

After thinking about it, it didn't really make much sense for us to take out of brand new mortgage when we'd have to spend a whole lot more to get the size house we currently have. To make all the repairs and remodel, it won't even cost us $20k....which we can spread out over any length of time that we want.

The decision to stay, ended up being a math equation, after we took all the emotion out of it.

My time has been filled with getting estimates and getting people over to the house to start the work.

Besides work and training (currently 11 hours a week), we moved forward on the purchase of the other company. We ran into some issues at the beginning of the year and negotiations stalled.

Now, it's moving forward. Originally, there were some "location" issues: putting together two different businesses (brick and mortar/internet) with different needs. Neither location worked well for BOTH. The brick and mortar has NO place for customer service/product development team, etc. The warehouse is not zoned for retail. Initially, we were looking at a larger warehouse facility that would function for both. We recently decided to maintain two locations: a retail location that can also function as a warehouse (it's a mullet location-retail in the front, warehouse in the back) and then the office space. When you calculated in buying new furniture, internet, phone (for customer service--so a substantial budget for phone), cleaning services and ALL the other expenses that go along with office space, we found a fully furnished unit that is SUPER nice....very....very nice....that includes all those utilities.

The coolest part is that every single employee gets their own office.....which is kind of a nice thing.

(I don't even want to talk about how difficult it is to hire people right now. The good news, if you can call it good news, is that it's not just us. Every company is having a hard time hiring people. Out of 100 Applicants, only 50% will response to inquires, of that 50%, only 30% have realistic salary requirements, of that 30% only 10% will ACTUALLY show up for an interview. If we get 2 good applicants for every 100.....we're on a roll.)

Right now, we have the best staff that we've ever had. Let me tell you, it was NOT easy for them for awhile. To me, the coolest part is giving employees raises and bonuses.....those employees who have been with us the longest and took the risk on us are now being promoted into the highest level positions.

In fact, one of our employees told us last week that he will be buying his first home ever. That makes me feel really good. We can have such a positive impact on people's lives. They took a risk joining our company. Now, they are getting the pay off.

It's a chaotic time for me. A friend called me on Friday and by Sunday, I still hadn't called him back. Although, I did send a short text telling him I'd get back to him later that day.....which of course, I didn't.

I'm WAY overdue for a haircut and have probably worn the same clothes a few days in a row. But, I make sure to get Miss Ray out for her walk every day and have a few minutes to just be.

In a few weeks, I'm doing an open water swim race. I'm looking forward to it because I get to see people I haven't seen in awhile. I've had to cancel rides with them. I get invitations for coffee and lunch and just plain can't make it.

On a more positive note, it means that I'm not on social media much. I deactivated twitter and check FB about once a week. Although sometimes I feel disconnected from the world, I manage to check Feedly every couple of days to get caught up on news and blogs.

I think I like real life better.

I have to say. Everything is good in the Land of CH. Busy, sometimes chaotic but ultimately very good.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Relationship Status: It's Complicated Part 2

January 2014: One of the hardest months I'd had in awhile.

In 2012 and 2013, I had a friend. (We'll call her JM because those are her initials). She and I would swim together. We'd bike together. We'd race together. We always shared hotel rooms. We were so much alike; even though we had about a 10 year age difference. When we rode together, we would talk and joke and then....we'd also have long periods of silence. When we raced together, we ALWAYS competed against each other. We were each other's biggest supporters.

In January 2014, without warning.....I got an email. The email was a generic message sent to everyone in our riding group. She was divorcing her husband, quit her job and moving back to NY.....THAT VERY DAY. No warning. Nothing.

I knew she was having marital problems. We talked about them. But, I was hurt that out of the blue (to me) and without even a phone call or text message....I get a generic email telling me what was going on.

A friend of 2 years, and she was ripped out of my life like removing a tree from your yard. There was a huge hole in my life. (Many of you know all the other stuff that was going on at the time. It was just one lost friendship after another for me, for a while).

I had emailed her once or twice with no response. After awhile, I got over it. I knew I had nothing to do with whatever was going on in her life. I took it as one of those situations where she needed a clean slate. She wanted and thought she needed to start fresh: new home, new job, new friends.

I never contacted her again.

During this same time frame, I had another situation. At the time I thought we were friends, but I realized later that she was just a *fake* friend. I don't want to go into the details, but it was really bad for me awhile. I'm an extremely loyal friend. I take friendships seriously. This woman ended up doing and saying some really bad things to me. I wasn't hurt by this. As soon as she showed her true colors, I cut her out of my life. She was a really bad person. When people do things like that, it says everything about them and nothing about you.

She and I swam together. We went to the same masters. There were several times that we all (as a group) went to lunch and to happy hour. Within this group, this fake friend had other friends. Women that I knew, but I wouldn't exactly say I was friends with. We had very different lives, and I often found it hard to strike up conversations....because we were so different.

One of these women was a triathlete. (I'm going to call her Janet). As long as I knew her, she was IM obsessed. I mean the "unhealthy" obsession. I always got the impression that she didn't like me. It always felt awkward when we were around. I thought it was because of the fake friend. After all, the only time we saw each other was at those events where there were a ton of other people.

I would see Janet at races. I would go up and talk to her. I would talk to her after her races. She would pretty much blow me off.

Although we were the only two triathletes at masters, I gave up on her. I'm not going to like everyone, and not everyone is going to like me. I'm totally cool with that.

These two seemingly random and unconnected and completely different relationships. Two women that I haven't really thought of in awhile.

For a long time, I had a love but mostly hate relationship with FB. Since then, I've figured it out. I narrowed my friends list down and only follow the people that I really like. With my job and training, it's hard for me to keep in touch with people that I don't see on a daily basis.

That's where Facebook comes in. I log in after work. I can check in on people, see what's going on in their lives and comment on their funny quips. It's a great tool for messaging, adding events, etc.

Best of all, it takes me 5 minutes. Can you imagine trying to email all those people....on a daily, even weekly basis? That's one of the reasons I really enjoy reading blogs. I can really catch up with what is going on in people's lives and in their minds.

Yesterday, I was doing my evening Facebook check in.  Within 5 minutes of each other, I received two FB friend requests. The first from Janet. The second from JM.

JM was a slam dunk. I figured it's taken a year and half, but she must be in a good place now. Friend request ACCEPTED.

Janet was a bit of a surprise. I left that masters swim over 6 months ago. As I said, we were never friends. The whole situation was really awkard. (For so many reasons, and they don't matter).

Before FB, people were friends, acquaintances, etc. FB tried to recreate that, but instead it changed relationships forever. People get mad and unfriend others. People take offense when they are unfriended.

People break up with people via text message. We've lost that ability to communicate.

It's harder to be human when technology is involved. Even I find myself thinking (sometimes), what are your intentions? Why did you send me a friend request? Although, I don't care anymore when or why people "unfriend" me.

Actions only reflect the image of the person doing them. They have nothing to do with

I realized I was getting caught back up in this complicated technology relationship thing.

Who cares WHY she sent me a friend request?

She did. She was reaching out to me.

That's all that matters.

Friend request ACCEPTED.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Give it a try? Maybe?

Apropos for races

Some of you know this story, so this might be a post you want to skip.

I started triathlon in 2005 after having an accident. Nothing major. When I asked the doctor when I could run again, he laughed and said, "RUN? You'll never run again. You'll never walk without pain again."

That answer wasn't acceptable to me. When I was in my cast, I started with pool running. Then, I was able to start swimming. 

When I got out of my cast, I had been researching the healing power of yoga. I had always done yoga. But this time, I went into it with everything. I did it every single day. Once I was able to bear weight, I started riding my bike.

Three weeks after my cast came off, I did my first tri. I walked the 5k in excruciating pain. 

My thought was "If I'm going to be in pain no matter what, I might as well keep doing the things I love."

I finished the triathlon. It was the most amazing and empowering thing I had ever done. I was scared to death during the swim BUT I STILL DID IT. I had no idea what I was doing on the bike, but I FINISHED. I was in excruciating pain, but I COMPLETED THE RUN.

After that, I continued to do my yoga. I continued with swimming, biking and running. 

It took 2 years. Two years after getting my cast off, I realized that I was running without pain. The entire run. Not one bit of pain.

I had continued to do triathlon. I went from sprints to olys to half irons to ironman. I moved through the distances rather quickly. 

I had a sense of  "empowerment", maybe? I felt like I could do anything after coming back.

In triathlon, I completely skipped the "speed before distance" mentality. I don't think I'm alone in that.

I went through the motions of all the shorter courses; I was good ole "one speed" regardless of the distance.

Because of that, my long course experiences were ummmm not pleasant. I realized that training for long course meant giving up on a lot of "life". 

Say what you want. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. I blog about triathlon. Because of that, it might seem like I'm obsessed with it. 

I'm not at all. We had two small sons at the time. I was missing out on time with Mr. Tea and time with the boys. Was I physically present? Yes. Of course, but I was miserable. I was tired. I was hungry. I couldn't be a good parent, spouse....OR be happy doing what I was doing. 

Something had to give. It was long course. I wasn't happy being out on a course ALL DAMN DAY. I wasn't happy spending my weekends training. 

I loved triathlon. I decided it was time to go back to basics. It was time for me to work on my speed. That was the end of 2011. I signed up with a Coach in Nov of 2011. It was my first time ever hiring a coach.

At the back of my mind, I always thought that I would go back to long course. I've written about it SO many times. I set some goals for myself. If I break 2:45 in the OLY, I'd do a 70.3 again. When I break 6:00, I'd do IM again. After all, the boys are off to college. I'd have TIME to train.

And 2012, 2013, that was my plan. 

Then 2014 happened. It was filled with emotional ups and downs. There was so much good and so much bad in one year. 

With both boys off to college, I *DID* have more time. My training was manageable. I trained for olys for the first half, then switched to 70.3 training.

I didn't have to do the 70.3. Liz and I had a long talk about it. I knew it was going to be a time suck. Just as things were rolling along with the oly training, I switched gears. I had to make sure that I was doing it for me. 

It was good for me. I would never have signed up for it on my own. Originally, there were supposed to be friends there. On race day, it ended up just being me (and Mr. Tea of course). 

After the race, I realized that my goals were MY goals. I didn't enjoy the race. I didn't enjoy the training. I LOVE swimming long. I LOVE being on my bike for hours. I LOVE running half marathons. 

I do NOT love training for or racing long course. Guess what? Training for the oly still gives me the opportunity to swim, bike and run long. 

There are SO many people who love going long. Those distances get the most attention. The IM World Championship is on tv every OCT/NOV. But the ITU World Championships for the OLY and Sprint? You never hear anything about it. (BTW US women recently swept the podium at Gold Coast). The only reason anyone even heard anything about it was because it was a SWEEP. Outside of triathlon? I don't know if anyone even knew it happened.

Since I've switched to short and intermediate distances, I've wanted to be an ambassador for the distances. I'm not critical of long distances. I simply want people to realize the enjoyment of going hard and short.

I want to encourage people to do sprints and oly distances and embrace the completely different challenge of racing as hard as you can, of pushing the limits of what you think you can do. I want to encourage triathletes who current do long course to give short course a try. I mean a REAL TRY. Take a year or two off from long course and work on your speed. 

There might be a day that I go back to long course. I might get the itchin' to see how my new speed translates to longer distances. 

I recently spoke to a woman who gave up triathlon completely because she no longer had time to train and race long course. She refused to race short course. Her coach recommended that she try short course. She refused. Athletes who do long course should consider at least CONSIDER the benefits of going short.  Enjoy having extra time. Enjoy the challenge of going all out. Enjoy life. Then take that new found speed and go back to long course to see how is translates. Endurance is easy to gain. Speed is not.

At then end of this season, when you're thinking about next year's goals. All I ask is that you consider a year of doing shorter races.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Turning up the Crazy

In my last posts, I talked about how I never had the physical fitness to do an oly, let alone race one. That is, until I started working with Coach Liz. It has been an amazing process and incredible transformation.


If you want to get faster, you have to run fast. NOT faster. FAST.

(When I say "you", I mean ME. Everyone is different and has different needs in training, BUT if you are beyond newbie and are at the point you're striving for OA Podiums, ITU Worlds, etc. you might benefit from this).

What I mean by that is if you race 10Ks or Olympic distance races, it doesn't do you any good to run :20 or :30 seconds faster than 10K pace.

Think about it this way, if your average pace is a 9:00 pace, and you run intervals at :20 faster. This approach doesn't make you faster; it makes your existing speed sustainable because of accumulated fatigue.  Most people, and there is research to document this, SLOW down during a race. Running :20 faster for intervals simply means that you won't slow down as much. That means, they don't have the physical fitness or strength to hold the pace they were holding. The only thing you are doing is keeping your body at your current average pace. You start out faster.....and's not just you. It's everyone, and it's because of your training. It's not because you're mentally weak or can't handle pain. (Again, that approach isn't completely wrong. It's good for people who are newer to the sport or to people who primarily do longer distances and aren't used to lot's of high intensity workouts, but it doesn't engage those fast twitch muscles.)

Remember this: That type of workout is comfortable. You don't push out of your comfort zone. You get incrementally faster....maybe....or maybe you slow down over time....that's what happened to me.

In order to breakthrough that.....

YOU NEED TO RUN FAST. It's the only way to build the strength in order to race hard.

I did a bike threshold test. Immediately after that, I ran ALL OUT. THAT's how you get faster. Running at 10K, only ingrains 'running at 10K pace'. It does nothing to help me get faster.

We need to experience running outside our comfort zone. We need to hear our bodies when we are suffering (ie: no wearing an ipod). We need to learn how to handle the stress of true suffering, so on race day, we are able and willing to do what we need to, to be successful.

Run fast, do strength work, do plyo's. The goal is to get as strong as possible. Strong, to be able to hold good run form which in turn makes you a faster runner. Power to push off on your run.

Several weeks back, Liz gave me an interval workout to run faster than 10k pace.

"Ok", I thought. My 10K pace is in the upper 9 minute range, so she means 9:30 or so. After all, that's what I've always done. We all know the saying, "Do what you've done. Get what you always got." Or something like that.

I did the intervals. Within SECONDS, she responded with, "You should be doing these intervals in the 7:00 pace range not 9:30. The way to get faster is to go fast."


For the coming weeks, Liz has put a little bug in my ear, "We have some good challenges coming your way. Embrace them."

I'm completely up for them. I've never had anyone push me like this. When she does it, I know that she really cares. She really wants me to be successful. She is personally vested in each and every single one of her athletes.

I don't need warm fuzzy. I don't need someone telling me "Good job" on a daily basis.

But it's really nice to have someone believe in me AND my matter how crazy or "out there" they seem to other people.

It's time for me to step up and take down the new challenges that she's throwing my way.

One more thing, this is her current blog post and a must read. Why? Because no matter what life throws at her, you'll never see a "poor me" post.  She's the toughest and most down to earth person I know. Welcome to Life. Welcome to the grind.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Learning to suffer

The other day, Mr. Tea was watching me do strides.I didn't know he was watching. 

When I got home, he said to me, "THAT's the form you need to use when you're racing. You don't. I bet you could run an 8-9 minute pace with that form. It was perfect. When you race, you still sort of trudge along, but you have this in you. You just have to do it."

Of course, this lead into a huge ♥ to ♥ conversation about my mad running skillz. Mr. Tea has been watching races since we got together. He has seen the very best runners run and the rest of us. He knows what good run form looks like.

I didn't make any excuses. I just listened to what he had to say.

It's not always easy to hear, "I think this is what you need to do."---especially when it is unsolicited. I mean, I'd like to think I'm already doing everything possible.

But, I needed to hear it. And no one has ever called me on it before. Liz calls me out when she thinks I'm not going hard enough. In fact, this week for intervals.....she didn't leave it for me to decide what I think *fast* is....nope.  

She said, "Tea. You will run these at a 7:00 pace".

The advantage that Mr. Tea has is that he can actually SEE me running.

Since THE TALK, I've been doing a lot of thinking. He's right. I could give every excuse in the book as to why I'm not running the way I should be, but they are just excuses.

I decided to change.

If Mr. Tea thinks I can run fast. And Coach thinks I can run faster. I need to STOP thinking that I CAN'T run faster....and RUN FASTER.

This will require that I focus 100% when I am running and NOT GIVE IN. I am strong. I can hold good running form. When I hold that form, I can run fast at less effort.

When I'm running, I am going to block out everything, block out distractions and only be concerned about being the absolute best runner that I can be at that time.

Today, I had a bike test....which went very well...thankyouforasking.

Immediately after the bike test, I had to run 20 minutes, starting at 5k pace and increasing pace every minute to faster than my fastest ever mile. I had to do that for 10 minutes.

THIS was my opportunity. I was going to RUN. NO FEAR. RUN. SUFFER.

And I did. I had a headwind the entire way out, but I didn't let it distract me. I focused on my form. I focused on running hard. 

And it hurt.....really bad....especially toward the end, but I managed to run a sub 9:00 pace, finishing at an 8:30 pace. Mr. Tea was right.

I was in a world of hurt. I really was, but I DID IT. 

I ran 2 miles in that 20 minutes, with 10 minutes of recovery....which were very very slow.

I realized that I can do that in a race. ONE MORE MILE. I know what it means now. I know what true suffering is. It's WAY beyond going HARD. It goes beyond paces or speeds. YOU GO UNTIL YOU ARE SUFFERING and then you push a little harder. You can't put a time on that because it's faster than anything you think you can do.

It truly means blocking out everything and going to a place that not many people are willing to go.

Drop everything. Forget who you think you are. Start today. Re-define who you are. 

That's what I'm going to practice.

Monday, April 20, 2015


I had a particularly good day today. At masters, I met two new guys who are super nice and were (right off the bat), easy to get along with. The chemistry in the lane was right on. (Sometimes just adding one person can be a struggle, but these guys fit right in).

The majority of my masters are men. I'm the only woman in my lane. The guys are so incredible. So supportive. The lane is the perfect mix of competition, support & kidding around.

After masters, I stayed to talk with a friend for awhile.

When I got back to work, I saw an article about friendships. It just really hit home for me. I thought I'd post it here.

I know I sound like a broken record, but I wouldn't be half the person I am without all of you. Here's the article, or you can click the link above.

Friendship is one of the best aspects of life. That said, certain friends are certainly much better than others. A real friend and fake friend can be hard to distinguish, but they are very different! Real friends are people you can go to for anything. You know they will always be on your side, through thick and thin. Fake friends might as well be scum of the Earth for all the support they will give you. Use this guide to figure out if your friends are your real friends!

1. Support you in all your endeavors

A real best friend will encourage you with anything that you try! Whether it be taking up square dancing, or changing your career path, a real friend will be there every step of the way.

2. Love your dorky personality

We all have those dorky things we do on a regular basis. A real friend loves those things! In fact, if they are a true real friend they just might join inwith you!

3. Forgive you for anything

Sometimes you royally screw up. With fake friends, a mistake can cost you a friendship. Real friends will know that sometimes you’ll mess up. They will forgive you because they value your friendship more than your (temporary) mistake.

4. Always have your back

It isn’t a matter of who is on the other side, what the issue is, or if you’re in the wrong – a real friend will stand by you no matter what. They always are on your side and will fight for you with no questions asked. That’s just what a real friend does!

5. Let you explore your interests

As we grow, we discover new interests, and sometimes they seem very unlike ourselves! Fake friends will make fun of you and tell you to stick to the status quo. *cue High School Musical song* A real friend will let you do your thing and encourage you to explore this new part of yourself.

6. Know all your little quirks

We all have little quirks about ourselves (IE: we are cranky in the morning, we get flirtatious when drunk, we eat too many dinner rolls, etc.) that only our true friends know about. No one else knows you quite like your real friends. The fact that they notice those little quirks about you is a good sign!

7. They constantly keep in contact

Fake friends will only contact you when they need something or want to know some juicy gossip. Real friends will contact you wherever and whenever because they are always interested in what’s going on in your life. They don’t have to know the latest gossip about your relationship. They might just want to know what you had for lunch today.

8. They keep your secrets

If you can trust anyone to not gossip around town about your dark little secrets, it’s your real friends. Fake friends will treat your secrets like it’s nothing sacred. A real friend values your confidence, and will not tell anyone.

9. Don’t have to dress to impress

If you have to put on really nice clothes, do your hair, and make sure that you smell nice just to hang out – then you know you have fake friends. A true friend will let you come over in sweatpants with unwashed hair. The worst they might do is make a joke, but they won’t really care at all. They just want to spend time with you. Real friendship is measured in how gross you can look when you hang out!

10. They make time for you

It doesn’t matter if they only have an hour between work and their pottery class, a real friend will let you come over for a drink any time. It isn’t a matter of time, it’s a matter of they want to spend time with you, rather than having time to themselves.

11. Always have a shoulder to cry on

A big difference between real and fake friends is how they deal with your ups and downs. If you’re feeling down, a fake friend will pat you awkwardly on the shoulder and try to change the subject. Your real friends will wrap you in their arms and listen to you blubber all night, if you want them to. Real friends are there for you, whether you’re happy or sad.
If you’re trying to decide whether your friends are genuine or not, hopefully this guide helped you decipher which kind of friends you surround yourself with! It’s time to get real.

Source: “11 Differences Between Real Friends and Fake Friends,” from, by Morgan Hegarty

Thursday, April 16, 2015


We probably all know someone who has lost a lot of weight. For awhile after losing the weight, they walk into clothing stores and automatically reach for their old sizes. 

Their brain hasn't adjusted to their new bodies.

This is why I stood in transition staring at all the bikes.

This is why I stared again later, seeing that no bikes had been returned yet.

I haven't adjusted to my new faster self. I know I've gotten really fast. But sometimes, I'm still surprised, no shocked at what I can do.

I haven't shed that old self. I still see people that I think look like athletes (like Fifi), and I don't see myself as one of those fast people.

I know I'm a great swimmer. I know that I'm a strong cyclist. I know that I'm a solid runner. 

But I still don't see myself that way. 

I think it will just take time. After all, I spent years as a back of the pack triathlete. It's only been recently that I've made these huge gains. 

I look at my times. I still shake my head and think "that can't really be MY time". 

In masters, we'll do intervals, and I have to calculate and re-calulate because I can't believe I can swim that fast.

I was recently asked about my bike speeds. I spit out some numbers. The guy said, "Wow. I didn't know you were an elite cyclist."

Me? Elite? No. At least not how I see myself.

When I head out on the course, I always line up in the front on the swim. And THAT took me awhile to do. I finally got fed up with fighting my way through slower swimmers. Whether I believe it or not, my times always mean I'm going to be first or second out of the water. 

When I get to the bike, I always look for any women that beat me out. I don't worry so much about catching them, but I will hunt down the men. I don't really think about my speed. (Hell, I don't even look at speed on my garmin). I just think of hitting my power zones. 

By the time the run rolls around, I can feel myself falling back into my old "slow" mentality. THAT's what I have to break out of. 

Instead of being surprised by my new found speed, I need to remember that I worked for it. I'm here because I worked for it. 

I don't know where this journey is going to take me, but I have a weird feeling that I haven't topped out yet.

That's what I really can't get my mind wrapped around.

I'm not even at my best yet. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Final thoughts

**UPDATE** Just fixed some grammatical errors that were making me crazy.

In true Tea fashion, I've been thinking about my race. For the first time ever, I'm not posting times. (I didn't in the race report either because the timing company jacked up a lot of people's times....mine included. I didn't swim a 1:00 1500m. If I did, I should be in the Olympics. As slow as I am, I didn't run a pace of 11:19. Haven't run a 10k at that pace in YEARS. Also, I didn't bike at 23mph. I had a fantastic bike, and it was over 20mph, but it wasn't 23mph). All that really matters to me is the fact that I felt like I had a great day.

The results are officially screwed up. That's why I haven't said anything about them.

Forget the times. I had a major mental breakthrough on Sunday.

Maybe it wasn't a breakthrough.

Naturally, people will get faster when they train consistently for any distance. It's incremental, but they will get faster.

I want to point out. That ALL my friends do long course. I am the only one that focuses on short course and intermediate. I have NO problem with that at all. I will be the loudest cheerleader at IM Boulder this year. I'll join you for a portion of your long rides. We can swim together. We can run together.

I recently had someone say to me that they were planning on placing at one of the races that I'm doing. (She's in my AG). The race is a sprint. At IM and 70.3's, she typically comes in around the 50% mark. The assumption, here, is that the Sprint is so easy that someone who usually comes in around the 50% ranking will magically be top 3 at the Sprint. The sprint is the distance that I am best at, and even I would NEVER say I'm going to podium. NEVER.

I took pause for a moment. Without realizing it, she completely disrepected the distances that I do. I didn't argue the point. I will say this here....if you focus on long course, you will not magically jump up to a podium at the shorter distances. If the field is "slow" that day, you could.

But unless you TRAIN for short course and intermediate, you don't know how to RACE short course.

THIS EXACT FACT IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN LEARNING FOR THE PAST YEAR AND A HALF. (I started focusing on short course races in 2012).

It's one thing to DO an oly. It's a completely different beast to RACE an olympic. The men and women who race those distances are SICK fast. They can handle a level of pain that can only be learned through correct training.

Going back to my mental breakthrough. This race wasn't a huge race as far as times....well, except for that AMAZING bike.

The was huge because it took me a year and a half (well actually....much MUCH longer than that) to get to the point that I could race 2/3 of an oly and run (not race) well. RUN without the physical pain.

I don't know if I am going to say this very well.

The reason I could never race an OLY is because I wasn't physically fit enough to do it. Could I cover the distance? YES. But that's NOT what I'm talking about.

When I ran on Sunday, I was so shocked at how I felt after riding like I did....I was at a loss. Instead of pushing my boundaries and running like I should have, I took the 10K as a time to relish what I have accomplished.

I know that probably sounds ridiculous. In a way, I had to get the monkey off my back. I had to have a "good" experience with the Oly.

I've always hated it because I couldn't figure it out. But DAMMIT, I am just stubborn enough to keep working at something until I get it right.

Sunday, I got it right. The next step for me will be that; now that I know I am physically fit enough to run hard....that's what I want to do. I want to race 3/3, not 2/3.

Everything clicked for me at the Sprint last year, and I keep getting better.

This year, it's going to be the Oly.

To anyone that thinks they can do a sprint while training for Ironman and podium. Go for it. I'm confident, but I'd never be cocky enough to think I could podium at IM just because I do at the sprint.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Race Report: Marquee

I was going to wait until I've rested, recovered and peed out all that damn water retention. But as it is, I'm tired and laying around a hotel room and thought, "Since all you're doing is hanging out waiting to pee, why not write up the report?"

There was so much awesome and so much more that I learned. This was probably my most successful race ever.

A couple of things going into the race:

I never posted a race plan on my blog, so I'll go through those details too. In other words, this could be rather long.....and boring. The forecast was supposed to be hot and windy. Liz and I adjusted my fueling/racing plan based on this. The day before, the forecast changed to cloudy and no wind. BONUS.

As it turned out, the day was hot and windy (during the second half of the bike course). Even though the forecast had moved around, I decided to "plan for the worst" and hope for the best. This was the best thing I've ever done. Many of you know that fueling for an OLY bike has just been a thorn in my side. Last year at SOMA, I nailed my nutrition and was hoping for a similar outcome.  Another interesting little twist: the bike course has no aid stations. None.

So. Another weird thing. I couldn't get a straight answer on how long the bike course was. In the athlete guide, on the website and at the athlete meeting, there were 5 different distances. Again, plan for the worst, hope for the best. I love being on the bike. I'll never complain about having to ride longer, but it does take fuel (especially when the course has none).

Transition set up.
Transition opens stupid early, like they all do. The woman next to me starts explaining to me how to set up my transition area. Like most triathletes, we all have our own patterns of behaviors. We keep doing things over and over so they become habit and on race day, we don't have to think about it.

I said to her, "I think I'm good. Thanks." She went on. I finally left to just get away from it for awhile.

This is really judgmental of me, but she had a really sweet bike. Let's call her FiFi. FiFi was really lean. Very fit. I kept thinking to myself, "Why do you even care? You will be LONG gone before I even finish."

At the same time, I would never say things to other athletes unless they ask. Let them do their thing. That's what they've practiced. That's what they know. On race day, some athletes like to talk. Others want to be quiet. Some people dump their bags and some have a meticulous way of setting up their areas. Respect the other athletes.

The swim

The plan for the swim was to go out moderately and negative split. Actually, that's the plan for the entire race.

The race has an olympic, a sprint and a super sprint. The Oly race started first. I was the last wave. That meant that the sprinters and super sprinters going after me.....well, they plus my age group were probably going to collide at the turnaround points for those distances.

I lined up in the front. All women +40 were in blue swim caps. I lined up in the front of the swim. Yeah, I know that's a little cocky right? I mean ALL women over 40, and I line up at the front?

For the first time in a long time, I was nervous at the start. I really wanted a successful race, and I was so worried that I wasn't going to be able to pull it off....that I was going to screw up something. Not really a vote of confidence, but sometimes that happens. This is the Oly distance. It's a hard distance for me, and I feel like I'm still just a newbie at the distance.

When the gun went off, everyone took off. The women you're just talking to and joking around with are now beating the shit out of you.

I was instantly passed by by what seemed to be half the field, but I knew that they were all going to pass out in due time.

Sure enough by 300m, they were all dropping back. By 650m, It was me and two other women (that I could see). I didn't know or really care where I was in the +40 women. I had these two women with me, and I was going to try to drop them as soon as I hit the the next buoy.

Looking back, I should have gone a little faster at the beginning, but that's because of what I found out later.

What I found out was that when the oly, sprint and super sprint all collided, it was mass CHAOS. We hit very new triathletes who were doing the back stroke. We ran into the slowest sprinters. We were already passing the slowest men from the Oly. It was crazy.

I held my line. I wanted to get faster. I felt like I had "faster" in me, but I had to be strategic at the same time. I saw one guy swim right into a buoy. Another backstroker cut right in front of me going horizontal.

When we made the last turn, I saw an opening. I had a straight line to the exit. I didn't look at my garmin. I felt good about my swim.

I grabbed the volunteers hand and up and out of the water they pulled me.

I went TEARING down the runway to get to T2. I saw Mr. Tea. He yelled at me "YOU'RE TOP TEN OUT OF THE WATER."

Top 10? Wait. There's no way I'm top 10. I'm almost always 1 or 2. Whatever. It's time to RUN. And I ran to transition.

I PASSED PEOPLE RUNNING TO TRANSITION. All I knew was that whatever I had to do to make this a great day, I was going to make it happen.

That's a first.

I get to transition. I told Liz ahead of time that I was going to take my time. I wanted to reapply sunscreen. Well, I spent a little too much time there as I stared in disbelief.....the simple fact:


Now, I've never....not once....podiumed at an Oly. BUT, I knew I had a really good swim, and the shocked look on my face must have been obvious because a guy on the next rack said to me, "you had a great swim."

And the thought stayed with me. FIFI's bike was still on the rack. She might pass me sometime today, but for right now....i beat Fifi.

I see Mr. Tea. I think I yelled at him. I'm not sure. All I know is that I'm ALL geeked up.

The bike

Most of you know that I got a new bike last week. What you probably didn't know is that I had not been able to ride it outside. I had NO idea what it was going to be like.....until yesterday when I took it for a spin around Tempe.

Let me say this. Me and Deus Ex Machina were made for each other.

As I hop on, I noticed that I wasn't getting any power or cadence info. Ok. That's fine. It usually takes a few seconds.

A few seconds later, I got nothing. I think back. Did I calibrate? Yes. Um. I'm at a loss. This is now the 2nd race that I will be racing without power.

I start doing some quick calculations. I didn't want to follow HR. (With the heat, it might be elevated). I decided to set a goal of 20mph. Based on my 70.3 last year, I thought I could pretty easily manage 20mph but anything above and beyond that is what I wanted. 20mph was the minimum speed.

My goal was to take the first 10-15 minutes building. Then, go for it.

This was really really tough for me. What was 171-182 watts going to feel like on my first ride outside? Was 20mph going to be hard enough?

It was all I had to go on. Demi can corner like no bike I've ever had. She climbs like a a GOD.

The men that I didn't catch on the swim, I would look, plot my strategy. (sharp turns, narrow passing lanes)....


The only people that were catching me were the men in the sprint race. There were no women. I would catch woman in the previous waves and pass them.

At this point, I'm averaging over 20mph. I'm fueling according to plan. THEN, I see a pack of men. Clearly they sprinkled too much testerone on their Wheaties. I could make a move to catch them, but I had a feeling I should hold back for a second.

Just then, a guy from behind makes a passing move on a narrow section. I think to myself.

That's when I see the rider behind HIM, ALSO make a passing move.


No one yelled out "passing" or "on your left. The guy in the middle got malachi crunched. He swerved into the guy passing. The collision of those two sent a 3rd rider down.

Four bikes down, immediately in front of me. I saw bikes flying and athletes skidding across the ground. I SCREAMED to the guy I just passed, "CUT RIGHT! CUT RIGHT!"

We both swerved into the lane of traffic.

We make our way around the accident and back into the race lanes. I didn't look back, but I'm sure bikes were stopping. (They had to). And I was hoping there was no more damage other than bruised egos.

The rest of the ride was uneventful. I never saw another woman in my AG until the woman from Havasu (Karen) passed me. We talked for a bit. She came in 3rd at Havasu, and I came in 3rd too. (Different race distances).

With 10 miles left, the wind hit. It was like riding into a wall. I saw my pace dropping and dropping and dropping. Liz had said to me, "Your speed will drop. Don't worry about it." But without power, how do I know if I'm going hard enough? Maybe I should be going harder? I stayed aero. And I pushed it.

As I came around the corner to head to T2. I glanced at my watch. 1:14. Wait. How's that possible. That's a 10 minute bike PR. I hopped off my bike and went RUNNING once again into transition.

Mr. Tea. has a HUGE smile. I had told him to look for me at around 1:30, but he got there early. All I kept thinking was, "EMAIL LIZ. TELL HER WHAT I DID!"

I threw my stuff down in transition. I stared again.

FiFi's bike was still not in.

Fueling: 450 Calories, 36oz of water and 1400 mg of sodium.

As I exited T2, I yelled to Mr. Tea. "Did you see what I did? Did you see it?" I think he was laughing at me.

I took off running.....or MY version of running.

So, the run. What I learned today, and this is a big that I space out on hills. I start plodding along. When I get to the downhill, I don't pick up the pace.

Even though, physically, I CAN. My legs felt great. I just plain space out.

I noticed this after the first loop. It's hot. I'm taking water and walking through the aid stations. I'm throwing ice down my shirt.

I get to the top of a hill....and I start to plod along the down hill.

WTF? SO. HELP. ME. Don't make me go all

Are you willing to just THROW AWAY a PR?

Well, yes and no. The run was 6.5 miles. Although, I'm not sure, I think that's a PR pace.

But the biggest thing for me is that I now know that I have to keep my focus. I knew I wasn't afraid of running out of energy or blowing up.....but I couldn't quite figure out what I was doing wrong.

Also, I learned that my body is very strong. I was running, and I could physically feel the difference. That, to me, is a really big deal. I've never really felt that way before.

Now that I know that I can fuel correctly on the bike, and that I fuel correctly on the run (300 calories), and that I'm physically capable of running a 10k off the bike.....I'm ready for the next step.

I know it probably seems like I'm a slow learner and that I should just be able to run faster. You might be right. But, I'm really happy with my progress. There were a lot of issues that I've had to work through and some might be very basic to those of you that are runners, but I've had to learn them. On the other hand, there are things that completely come naturally to me on the swim and bike; things that take other people a long time to learn.

I can't begin to say how happy I am with this race overall. I have a sprint next month and then another Oly in June.

In Summary:
Although I think I did a pretty good job on the bike, I'd like to see if I was on track with my watts. A PR is great, but what if I can do better? The swim will be what it will, honestly. There are a lot of factors with the swim. Is the course measured correctly? Did I swim straight or go off course? Today's 1500m felt SO SHORT. Because of that, I think I have more speed in me.  The run: I'm happy with taking baby steps. I don't know what my next goal will be, but I know that I'm strong enough to run a 10k. I know that I have to work on my focus. Focus comes very naturally on the swim and bike. I don't know why I have to work so hard on the run, but I do.

I know this was very very long. I'm very very tired.

Thank you all for all your encouragement, calling me out on my own bullsh*t and being the best cheerleaders around (when I really need it).

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Let's go over this one more time

"Give yourself the race you've worked for all winter.  It won't be easy so really go after it and embrace any challenges you encounter."--Coach Liz

I wrote my race plan early in the week. Then, we had to make a slight adjustment after finding out the bike portion is actually longer than the normal oly bike course and that race day was going to be hot and windy. Although now, it's looking like it's going to be a very nice day.

I've gone over and over my race plan.
I don't know how I feel anymore. I have no expectations, but I don't usually for any race.

The Olympic distance has always been my nemesis.  In the Sprint, I have (as Tonya says) quite a collection of AG medals.

In the Olympic distance, the highest I've placed is 7th. In the past, I've always had nutritional issues. Last year was the first year, I really worked to resolve those issues.  When I did SOMA, I nailed the nutrition. It was a HUGE confidence booster.

I'm still a little nervous.

I keep telling myself to think about those intervals I've done. THINK about what I've accomplished on the bike, pushing intervals at 500watts, holding intervals for 245 watts. (HELL, holding 172-182 watts should be easy after that stuff, right? Well, nothing is easy in triathlon.) Focus on my run. Think about the runs off the bike that have felt like they've never felt before. They made me feel like a real, competitive, triathlete. Swims? I've gone to new levels, holding faster paces for longer and longer.

I do the Oly because it's the hardest distance. I want to get better at it. I want to one day say, "LOOK! I HELD close to threshold for X HOURS!!!" And yes, I would be screaming that.

I want to prove to myself that I can do something that I didn't really think was possible, but I put the goal out there for myself thinking that even if I didn't make it.....I'd be faster, stronger than I was before.

Still, there was this itty bitty voice deep inside me that believed that I COULD do it.

Now, I'm faced with my first oly of the year....I'm staring it down and wondering if I have the guts to make it happen.

Somewhere, buried deep inside is a little voice saying, "Yes. You can."

Monday, April 6, 2015

Freedom...........................and Happy Birthday

Tempe: Here I come

What a ride it's been.

The past 4 months have been crazy. There are times, I still can't figure out how I got everything done when I needed to get it done.

I the midst of the insanity....saying to Coach, "Forget it. I give up. Put the workouts wherever you need to. I'll make it work. Even if it means doing the late masters." (To put this in perspective. I despise late masters. It messes with my sleep. I get home WAY after my normal bedtime.)

After trying to negotiate my work schedule, my meetings, my training schedules....I couldn't do it anymore. 

I surrendered to the chaos.

But I did it. Whatever she told me to do, I got it done. No excuses. 

I'm telling you. There were days I couldn't see straight. There were days that I knew I'd be on the trainer late that night and on the treadmill at stupid o'clock in the morning the next day.

I was tired from working in the warehouse. I was tired from walking 8-9 miles a day in addition to my workouts. I was tired from lifting boxes. I was tired from getting home and seeing that puppy face staring at me....telling me it was time for MY walk, when all I wanted to do was SIT DOWN. JUST FOR 5 MINUTES. PLEASE.

Somehow, I did it. Somehow, I did all the training. I packed boxes. I walked miles at work....and I ate and slept like it was my job.

Then in the past couple of weeks a sense of calm, a sense of freedom has come over me. 

It was a freedom that I've never felt before. Things started changing in my training. My outlook changed. I felt like I was changing.

I was letting go of those old bonds.

Out of nowhere, I felt like a entirely new athlete. 

Goals that once seemed impossible started to seem possible.
I think it all happened after this post. It was about me accepting me. Reconciling with myself. It was about letting go of that "old self".

I felt capable of achieving. I felt strong. I felt my mind clear out, and I saw myself for what I really am, for the first time.

I feel ready.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


We all have gifts.

I feel like mine is the bike.

I'm a really good swimmer. I'm competitive in my age group. When I line up at a race, regardless of the conditions, I am confident that I will be 1, 2 or 3 out of the water.

But I am not a "gifted swimmer". I have absolutely NO competitive background in swimming.

Like many people, I learned to swim when I was young. It actually consisted of lessons. No one threw me in a pool and said, "This is how you learn."

That was it though.

For whatever reason, I always loved swimming. When I went to college, I was running. Then one day, I started swimming laps. The only thing I knew was what I learned when I was a kid.

But I swam.

As time went on, I stopped swimming. At the time, pools weren't as abundant as they are now (where I live).

When Mr. Tea and I got together and Googs came along, I found myself at the pool again. Thinking back now, I was swimming 1500m in an hour.

ONE HOUR to do ~ a mile. (For those of you who do not swim, I now swim 1500m in the pool, in about 25 minutes; 22 minutes in open water).

I always loved the water. A friend of mine used to say it was because I was a Scorpio (water sign). That might be. All I know is that water is about the most calming thing I know.

When I started triathlon, I just swam in a pool, doin' my thang.

Then, I had to go to open water. THINGS CHANGED.

The first time I swam in open water was a horrible experience. I didn't know anything about open water swimming. The water was cold. There was a thunderstorm with rough water. I swam without a wetsuit.

I was terrrified.

I remember seeing Mr. Tea standing on shore. I could see the terrified, helpless look on his face.

I got out of the water, shaking. I thought to myself, "It shouldn't be like this."

As badly as I was shaking and honestly thought I was going to die out there, all I wanted was to go back and prove that I could beat this thing.

For my first triathlon, I swam 750m in 25:14. I had a wetsuit,and it was still a horrifying experience. I had held onto one of the canoes for awhile. I got out....once again....shaking.

After that, I was hooked on triathlon. I thought swimming on my own, doing drills, watching total immersion videos....I thought that was enough to make me a better swimmer.

It was for a very short time. My swim time dropped from +3minutes per 100m to 2:45.

Can I tell you something? At 2:45, I thought I WAS THE WORLDS BEST SWIMMER.

I kept hearing about Masters swimming. What I thought masters was and what it actually is....are two completely different things.

I thought masters was where the "pro's" went. I thought it was for retired Olympians and collegiate athletes who need a release for their competitive side.

What I found out later.....was that masters swimming is for regular people, like you and me, who want to swim for fitness. Some people are swimming as a means to stay healthy; some use it to train for triathlons; some ARE former Olympians and collegiate athletes; some people want to learn how to swim; some people do swim meets like runners do 5ks.

In other words, there are ALL levels of abilities at masters swim practices.

The first day that I showed up for Masters, well, it was hard. I didn't know anyone. I didn't know how to read the board. I was put into the slow lane.

I was hands down the slowest swimmer in the slow lane. I didn't understand swim etiquette.

That first day, I got my ass kick. I was EXHAUSTED at the end of the session.

But, I went back the next day. I knew this was the only way for me to see my potential.

Was it scary the first time I went? Yeah. I think I remember being nervous, but I set that aside in order to do what I had to in order to become a better swimmer.

I spent 4 or 5 years at that masters. My swim times dropped from 2:45 to 1:50 per 100m.

Then my swimming stagnated.

I had heard excellent things about the Masters team at DU. I also knew that they were crazy fast. They repeatedly win state; have people compete at Nationals and Worlds. I knew they had one of the top coaches in the state.

I was in need of a new masters team. This old one wasn't doing it anymore.

I can't stress this enough. When something stops working, you need to make a change.

I contacted the coach at DU. I was put into the slowest lane. Over the coming weeks, I was moved to the second slowest lane. That's where I swim today.

Within months of joining the new team, my swim pace dropped from 1:50 to 1:25 per 100. Even more importantly, I can hold that pace for a long time, which is important in triathlon.

What masters will teach you:
1.) Correct form: If you want coaching, just ask.
2.) Clinics: learn to swim all the strokes
3.) Pacing: Learning to swim with faster or more experienced swimmers is always the best way to learn pacing.
4.) Open water swim techniques.
5.) The opportunity to compete at swim meets. And guess what? You are seeded by your times. This means at a meet, you will be racing people who are the same speed as you. How cool is that?
6.) Strength training: Just like tri training, USMS coaches use a periodization training that includes strength training. You'll sprint 25m/yds, get out of the pool, do strength work, get back in, swim back...repeat up to 8 times.
7.) It builds your confidence in the water.

I'm writing this today because I know I'm a good swimmer, but not everyone knows what it took to get me here.

I've worked incredibly hard at swimming. I work on my form. I ask for help. I go to masters 3-4 times per week. I swim with people who are faster than me. I take lessons (outside of masters).

I am not a gifted swimmer. I got this way because I've put in the time and energy to get good at swimming.

In triathlon, swimming is about conserving energy. Triathlon swims are by far longer than just about any single set you'll do at masters.

Masters swimming teaches you how to be efficient, how to move yourself through the water, expending the least amount of energy. Regardless of the tri-swim distance. The swim sets up the rest of your day. If you expend less energy over a distance, you'll race better the rest of the day.

Besides all that, you learn one of the most important tricks ever: How to hold a conversation in 10 second intervals.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

I'd like to poll the audience

This might come as a surprise, but I have multiple blogs. This one has always been used as a training blog. Back in the day when the internets were just getting started and FB didn't exist yet, this was the way that all us athletes kept in touch.

Over the years, it's been really helpful for me. I can look back and see the changes I've made as an athlete, some good/some bad but all have put me where I am today.

I wouldn't change any of it.

On this blog, I have always kept personal situations and the bigger work issues off. I used my other blogs for those situations.

I've never told anyone about my other blogs because I didn't want certain people to have access to that information. Since then, many months ago, actually, I removed IP tracking from this blog because I realized that I just don't give a f*ck anymore.

If you read my blog, I see you as a supporter not an enemy.

Since this blog is the oldest and has the most history, I am considering merging them all together here.

BUT---the readers of this blog (I think) come here for my training/racing exploits. I don't know that for sure. I'm just guessing.

On this blog, I've ventured out, testing the waters to see if anyone is interested in other aspects. I just don't know.

I suspect most readers of this blog come through Facebook. I have a special list of people in FB that get notified when I post. (WHETHER THEY LIKE IT OR NOT)

If you have an opinion, one way or another, you can post it in the comments on FB.

If you aren't a FB friend, you can post your comment here. Although, I don't allow anonymous comments, and that alone presents a problem for those of you who just want to stalk in peace. I'm ok with that. I have my own list of blogs that I stalk. I don't know the authors. I just enjoy their blogs.

What say you? Would you be interested in reading posts not related to triathlon?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What it really means

Did you know that for the first time in history, in the United States, more small businesses are going out of business than are being started?

Those are devastating numbers. It's a 100% political conversation. Politicians strangle small businesses AND use us as their own political toys.

But, I'm not going there today.

One of my favorite things to do is to meet and talk to other business owners. The REAL business owners. The people who work crazy hours every week. The people who won't get rich doing what they do, but they have more pride in their work than anyone sitting at a desk at a big corporation.

When I say REAL business owners, I'm talking about the people on the street. I'm not talking about the VERY RARE entrepreneur that comes up with an idea that makes them a billionaire. Those are very rare.

When we were in Telluride, we met the owner of Baked in Telluride. (Of course, you MUST visit). We talked about those customer reviews on Yelp and the impact on business.

When I was in lake Havasu I met the owner of Havasu Pizza. When I went back later, he introduced me to his family. Good people, good pizza.

Every time I get my oil changed, I walk over to a BBQ place called Jabo's. When I go, I talk to the son who works tables. (The entire family works in the restaurant).  Today, I met Jabo and his wife Susan.

I took a seat at the bar and started talking to Jabo. The pride he has in his work (all of his BBQ sauces are his own recipes) is evident. He sat down with me to tell me about the origins of BBQ and the differences between Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Lousiana, and on.

Then his wife Susan pulled up a chair. We started talking about their restaurant. They asked me how the internet business was. That's when Susan smacked her husband on the back and gave them that look that said, "SEE?"

When Jabo got up to help another customer, Susan said, "I've been trying to get him to sell his sauces online! He won't do it."

We started talking about what it would take to get their products online and in grocers.

She was asking me questions, and I could tell that she wasn't even sure how to start. I wrote down a few ideas and things that she should keep in mind as well as gave her the name of a couple of other smaller companies that could help her get started.

As I left (the lunch rush was hitting and a line was forming), I was thinking about that deer in a headlight look Susan had.

I've been there.

I can't possibly share (in 30 minutes) what I've learned in the past 10 years. In fact, when I meet people, and they want to get started....sometimes I'm just at a loss for words.

Besides the very basics of starting a company (from deciding to be a sole prop or corp), there's all the emotion, all of the ups and downs....where the ups are the biggest successes you can ever experience to downs that almost or DO put you out of business.

The enormity, of what we have done, really hit me; every aspect of the business: how to build a website, how do you take payments, what is SEO, what about location, how do you get money when you need it, how do you build a customer base, do you follow in the footsteps of the big corps, how do you advertise, how to you find vendors/suppliers, how do you find employees, how to you handle returns, how do you handle growth, how do you get through a recession, how do you separate work from life, and the list goes on and on and on.

Recently, one of our employees (a very young guy putting himself through college) came to us. He was so excited. He had bought his first new, financed car and wanted to show us.

Then, we hired a woman. Her background doesn't fit with us, but that's the benefit of working for a small business. We hire PEOPLE not positions. When we talked to her, she reminded me of ME. We offered her a job. She almost broke down because she was so excited to work for us after being treated so horribly at her previous place.

THAT's what you get with small businesses. Employers who really care about employees. Owners that really care about their product. Companies that care about customers because we know how hard it is to gain them and how easy it is to lose them.

Yes, there are small business owners just out there to get rich.

The rest of us? As I always tell people, "I want to build something GREAT."