Wednesday, May 27, 2009


That's how long it took me to complete the triathlon on Monday.

3 hours, 14 minutes and 47 seconds

I think I'm still in awe of myself a little bit. A month or so ago I'd set a goal for myself of 3 hours and 30 minutes, and look what I did! I think it helped that there weren't any clocks out on the course, and I wasn't wearing a watch, so I had no idea how well I was doing until I caught up with one of my fellow TNTers. We ran/walked most of the last loop of the run together. She was wearing a watch, clocking her time, and mentioned that she was going to crush her goal of finishing in 3 hours and 15 minutes. I was surprised and excited to hear that since my goal was 3.5 hours.

Anyway...let's get to a race recap.

My alarm went off at 4:15am so I could get dressed, eat something, and double check that I had everything in my bag. We all met in the lobby at 5am for body marking. Coach Danielle had the task of writing everyone's bib numbers on each arm and each thigh, and their age and swim wave on their right calf. From there, we headed over to the transition area. It was still dark out and the birds were cackling nonstop. Once we got to the transition area, we had about an hour to set up our area at our bike. I laid out my sneakers, my hat, food, water, etc. And then I had to wait around until my swim wave at 7:50am. Mom, Dad and Craig came down around 7:30am and hung out for a while and gave me one last wish of good luck. I wasn't feeling any nervousness until they called my swim wave. Then my stomach got all twisted up in knots, until I had to jump off the dock.

The water made all my nerves go away...probably because there was no turning back now. We had to tread water for a minute or two, and just wait for the gun to go off. The water was slightly warmer than when I swam in the Chesapeake a couple weeks ago, and thankfully the water was fairly still. There were plenty of kayakers, surfboard lifeguards, and police boats in the water to keep us on course and help us if we needed it. And as it turns out...I needed it. On the straightaway, I started to stray off course, swimming towards the wrong buoy. It took 2 different kayaks to get me back on course because the first time I didn't think they were talking to me. Nonetheless, I finished my swim in about 28 minutes. I couldn't believe it when my Mom told me that after the race. It had taken me 37 minutes to swim a mile in the pool, and I expected to take about that long to do the .9 mile swim during the race since I'd be in open water, surrounded by about 100 people.

Coming out of the water, I had a hard time unzipping my wetsuit, but I finally got it unzipped when I was halfway to the transition area. Once at my bike, I stripped off my wetsuit, tried to wipe the dirt off my feet so I could put my socks and shoes on, and I tried to eat part of an orange. I strapped on my helmet, grabbed my bike off the rack and was headed out of the transition area in about 4.5 minutes. We had to run with our bikes a short distance before we could actually mount them, and then we were off on 4 loops around the city. The course was fairly flat, minus the 2 hills near the Capital building, but at least I knew what was coming on the subsequent loops. The two u-turns were a bit tricky too. We also had to dodge water bottles that had fallen off people's bikes and potholes. My biggest fear going into the race was getting a flat tire because I wouldn't be able to change it. But fortunately, both of my tires stayed inflated and my bike served me well for the race. It took me just under 1.5 hours to complete all 4 loops. I almost lost count and had to remember how many times I'd passed Mom and Dad to make sure I didn't do too many or too few.

Since I don't have the fancy bike shoes that clip into my pedals, I didn't have to spend much time in transition. I reracked my bike, took my helmet off, sprayed myself in sunscreen, and ran out. The first mile took us past a Taco Bell and a McDonald's, which just seemed evil to me, but we did have a water station with a sprinkler that I ran through. Unfortunately, the run course didn't provide much shade, so I think I drank a cup of water and poured a cup on my head at each water station. The run course was fairly flat too, minus the run over the Congress Ave. bridge. My legs were shot at this point, and I ended up running and walking the 2 loops. As I started my 2nd and final loop of the run, I met up with Lisa, a fellow TNTer. We stuck together for most of that loop, running and walking and talking, just to keep our minds off what we were actually doing. As we reached the Congress Ave. bridge to cross back towards the finish, she took off so she could run the rest of the way. I planned on doing the same, but simultaneously, both of my quads cramped up. I was able to keep moving forward and I walked until my legs stopped cramping. So as I passed the final water station, I started jogging, and as I got closer to the finish line, I picked up the pace as much as I could, to finish the run in about an hour and 10 minutes.

There were moments during the bike ride where I almost started crying...I just couldn't believe that I was actually competing in a triathlon and doing fairly well. There were about 12 other TNT chapters from across the country that were participating as well, and their coaches and staff were spread out throughout the course. So no matter where I was in the race, there was someone cheering for me. Mom made a nice orange banner for me, so it was easy to spot her and Dad on the course. She wasn't always prepared with the camera, and at one point, I had to slow down during my run to make sure she could snap the picture. Craig had his bright green Red Sox hat on, so he was fairly easy to spot too. They truly helped push me through the triathlon, and I couldn't have beat my goal without them.

I have to get all the pictures together from the race and the weekend, but here are the pictures from the professional photographers that were present throughout the race. I placed 920th out of 1327 people...not too shabby for my first triathlon. I can't thank you all enough for your donations and support throughout the last 6 months. You helped me not only surpass my fundraising goal, but you also helped me accomplish my personal goal of completing a triathlon, and faster than I thought I could.


Sunday, May 24, 2009


That's my bib number for the race tomorrow. That's right...TOMORROW!!

I'll be up, bright and early, to meet the rest of my team at 5am. Hopefully we'll have some jumbo sharpies and we can take care of all of our body marking before heading over to the transition area. I'll have #1315 written all over me, my bike, my helmet...mostly so the photographers can recognize me, but it'll help my parents pick me out of the crowd too. So after the body marking, we'll walk a few blocks from our hotel to the transition area where our bikes are racked. We'll have until 6:30am to set up our small area...lay out our shoes, make sure we have food and drink on our bike, cover ourselves in body glide (so he can avoide chaffing), and build up more and more nervous energy. They close the area at 6:30am, so whatever we need for the swim has to be in our possession. And then I have to hang out for over an hour since my swim wave doesn't start until 7:50am. Then I'll finally get to jump in the water, chill out for a few minutes, and wait for them to sound the horn, signifying the start of MY race.

But enough about the race right now...I'll have much more to share once its over, I'm sure. We arrived in Austin yesterday afternoon, checked into the hotel, and had most of the afternoon to ourselves. My parents and Craig arrived in town around the same time, so we hit up Guero's Taco Bar for lunch. It was delicious! Freshly made corn tortillas, chips & salsa (that you helped yourself to from a salsa bar) and great mexican food! After lunch, I had to pick up my bike since it arrived on a truck, and then I had a little time to relax. Before dinner, Craig and I took a walk up to the Capital and checked out the famous 6th St. It's definitely the place to go in Austin for drinks, live music and tattoos. We met up with Mom & Dad at Stubb's for dinner, but there was a show that night and it was packed to the gills with almost a 2 hour wait. We opted not to wait, and decided we'd go there after the race tomorrow. So instead, we headed over to Hut's Hamburgers for some delicious hamburgers (who would've thought?) The burgers were huge and delicious, the fries were extra crispy and the onion rings were thickly cut and had peppercorns in the batter...a delicious touch. Yesterday's meals probably weren't the best choices for me, but I'm in a new city...I have to try out all the best restaurants! Craig and I walked back on 6th St. to do some more people watching since it was later in the evening and the bars were starting to fill up. There was an interesting mix of people, but there was something for everyone, from a heavy metal pizza joint to a bar with pool tables & shuffleboard to a music venue called, Emo's.

Today was all about prepping for the race. We picked up our participant packets that had our bib number and swim cap, and we got some swag. Not quite what the celebrities walk away with from their awards shows, but I'm content with a shirt, water bottle, and bag! We tried to go for a swim down at one of the parks, but it was closed due to thunder and lightning. So we just took our bikes over to the transition area. I had the mechanic take a last minute look at it, pumped up the tires, and racked it. Tonight was also the Inspiration Dinner. Basically, a giant pasta party for all the Team in Training chapters that are participating. There were 211 of us, and we raised over $780,000 this season! I can't say it enough, but a big THANK YOU for helping me contribute to that total. After the dinner, we headed over to the Congress Ave. bridge to watch the bats! Every night at dusk, hundreds of thousands of bats fly out from under the bridge in search of food. Its an awesome sight! You just see swarms of them flying all over the place...its pretty much organized chaos since they're so bad at flying.

But now, I'm getting ready to go to bed. I'm sure the alarm will go off sooner than I'd like it to, but this is what I've spent the last 6 months training for. I'm trying not to be nervous, and I'm trying to stay relaxed. But i'm sure once I get down to the transition area tomorrow, I'll be a nervous wreck! I don't know what to expect, but our coaches and captains have prepared us as much as they possibly could. I know there will be a big group of Team in Training people out on the course cheering us on. And all I have to remember, aside from what number loop I'm on for the bike and run, is to smile and have fun! That's why I signed up in the first place.

If you're interested, you can check out the course map. We have to do 4 loops on the bike and 2 loops on the run, so I'm hoping I don't lose count. The results will be posted online too. I think you'll be able to search by my name and/or my bib number. But I'll also post something tomorrow...after my nap!

So thanks again to everyone for your support...reading my blog, donating money, or just simply wishing me good luck. I'll be thinking of each and every one of you tomorrow!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Time to Pack!

That's right...race weekend is finally here! It's a bit scary, but at the same time, it's quite exciting.

Last weekend we had an open water swim out at Sandy Point State Park, near Annapolis. I got to test out my wetsuit and get a feel for open water. And let me tell ya' was cooooold! The water temperature was only in the lower 60's, plus it was windy, creating a bit of a current. The cold water took some getting used to, as did not being able to see the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay. Up until that point, I'd only swam in pools where I could see the bottom and easily swim in a straight line. So Saturday was good practice for swimming in my wetsuit, swimming in a straight line, and sighting, so I could stay on course. Swimming against the current made me feel like I was swimming in place, but fortunately, we shouldn't face much of a current in Austin.

This week I've just been trying to catch up on sleep, stay hydrated and prepare for the weekend. But like always, I've procrastinated, and will be doing all of my packing tonight. My bike is already on its way down there...shipped out on Monday, so I'll meet it there. I just need to get all my other gear in order; helmet...sneakers...wet suit...tri shorts...tri top...socks...etc.

I'm anxious to get to Austin and take in the whole race weekend atmosphere. We fly down tomorrow morning, and have a good amount of time on our own to explore the city and get situated. Sunday morning we're going to get a short workout in in the morning to get ourselves ready, and Sunday night is the Inspiration Dinner. Team in Training chapters from across the country will gather for a pasty party, as well as hear from honored teammates to remind us why we're all there. And Monday is race day! You can check the website,, Monday afternoon to see how I did. Just search my name in the results section. I'll do my best to post a few times while I'm down there.

Thanks again to everyone for following my triathlon training journey and supporting me and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You have helped me surpass my fundraising goal and kept me going when I was feeling burnt out. I couldn't have made it these last 6 months without all of you!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Less Than 2 Weeks!

That's right! By this time in 2 weeks, I will have just completed my first triathlon and I'll be getting on a plane and heading back to DC. I'd like to say the time has flown by, and for the most part it has, but there was definitely a stretch in March and April where I was totally burnt out. But I pushed through and here I am...less than 2 weeks away from completing a triathlon.

My trip to Vietnam and Cambodia was amazing! I didn't get in nearly as many workouts as I would've liked, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that I couldn't pass up. I returned last week and pciked up where I left off with the training. I tested out my wetsuit, and I was excited to learn how much easier it is to swim in the wetsuit. I don't have to worry about keeping my legs afloat anymore since the wetsuit does that for me. I just hope I don't fall on face trying to get out of the wetsuit when I'm transitioning to the bike portion. This Saturday's training is an open water swim, so I'm anxious to test out my wetsuit in the open water, as opposed to the pool we've been swimming in for the past 5 months.

I'm also excited to report that I've surpassed my fundraising goal with $5145!! That is a huge number and I thank each and every one of you for your generous donations and support throughout the last 5 months. When I first started training, the fundraising seemed like such a daunting task on top of the rigorous training schedule. But everyone has opened their hearts and their wallets and have made the fundraising the easiest part. I'm still accepting donations in case you'd still like to make a contribution. Please visit my fundraising site:

I can't wait to get down to Austin and soak up the race weekend atmosphere! All of my hard work and dedication to training will show itself on race day. As the days wind down and I'm becoming slightly less anxious and slightly more nervous. I suppose that's normal for any first-timer. We just have a few hard workouts left and then next week should be a little we can be well rested for race day. I plan on posting at least one more time before the race, so make sure you check back before Memorial Day!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Everyone should try Thai massage

So this past weekend wrapped up Spa Week, where select spas and salons offer select services for $50. While perusing the list of participating spas, Chaan Thai Yoga Therapy caught my eye. Rather than your typical massage where you just lay there under towels and get a massage, the Thai massage involved the extreme. This was my first time ever getting any kind of professional massage, but for $50 (about half the normal price) I figured, why not?

Amy, the little lady that would stretch and pull and push my arms and legs in all sorts of directions had quite a bit of strength in her little frame. While she massaged my back, she was kneeling on my legs. And she would wrap my legs around her arms and tuck my feet under her arms while stretching my legs. I was contorted in all sorts of positions. But in the end, I felt a lot less sore. I'd recommend it to anyone that's feeling sore, or just needs a good stretch.

I had a nice 2 hour bike ride on Saturday...riding from my apartment, down into DC and around Haines Point 4 or 5 times, and then headed back. The weather was gorgeous on Saturday, so I made sure to spend as much time outside as I could. There were all sorts of softball and flag football games going on, and it reminded me of last summer/fall when I played kickball. We were the league champs, by the way! And I had another mile swim yesterday, and completed it in about 35 minutes again. I just got word that our wetsuits are in, so I'm anxious to try it on and see what swimming is like in the wetsuit. At least I won't have to worry about staying afloat anymore!

This week is a rest & recovery week, which is good timing since I leave for Vietnam tomorrow for vacation. Fortunately, the hotels we're staying in have fitness centers, so I'm going to do my best to get my workouts in as best I can. I'll still have a few weeks for final preparation once I get back though. I can't believe I only have about a month left. Its been a looooong road thus far, but I know that crossing the finish line will make it all worthwhile.

More updates to come after I return from vacation!

Monday, April 13, 2009

6 Weeks Left!

That still seems like a long time, but I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel now. The last couple months have been more of a mental battle than anything. But I had some good workouts last week. On Tuesday, they took the lane lines out of the pool again, and we had a 20 minute swim, about 1 minute of rest, and then a 10 minute swim. Within that 30 minutes of swimming, I was able to maintain a steady pace and swim exactly 60 laps, which is the equivalent of what I'll swim during the triathlon in May. I think I lapped some of the people in my lane too! But that gives me a good guide as to how long the swimming portion will take +/- 5 or 10 minutes. Once the 10 minute swim was over, I still felt like I could've kept swimming...which I guess is a good thing considering I'll have to bike and run afterwards. I think we'll be getting our wetsuits in the next couple weeks too, so it will be interesting to see how that effects my swimming.

I went for a long run on Friday since the weather was finally nice again. The schedule called for an 85 minute I made it from my apartment, along the Potomac river, across Memorial Bridge, past the Lincoln Memorial, along the reflecting pool, up to the Washington Monument, and part way around the Tidal Basin (where the cherry blossoms are) before I turned around and ran back. The running portion is definitely where I struggle because I get bored with it pretty fast, since I'm not chasing a soccer ball or basketball. But since I had some nice scenery and had to pay attention to traffic and tourists, the time flew by pretty fast. I mapped my run afterwards (on this handy dandy website), and it turns out I ran about 8 miles, which is more than I'll have to run in the triathlon. So this was a pretty good gauge of how long the run portion will take me too.

So I think setting a goal of 3.5 hours for the triathlon is totally reasonable...especially since its my first one. The transitions shouldn't take too long, as long as I don't get stuck in my wetsuit! Transitioning from the bike to the run should be a breeze since I don't have to switch shoes. I guess that's one advantage of being a novice triathlete...I don't have the shoes that clip into the pedals on my bike, so I'll just be wearing my running shoes on the bike. I'll just have to remember to take my helmet off! I know we'll be practicing the transitions before the race, as well as swimming in open water, aside from the pool without lane lines. The coaches have done a really good job so far of preparing us and giving us tips for race day.

In a week I'll be leaving for vacation to Vietnam, but I plan on continuing my training while I'm there. All the hotels we're staying at have some sort of fitness center and/or pool, so I should be able to work out most days. Luckily when I first get there, I'm in the middle of a rest and recovery week, so the workouts won't be too intense. It'll be hard enough getting used to the time change. Then when I get back, I'll have 3 more weeks to train, rest and prepare for the race.

I'll try to post once more before I leave for vacation. Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Its Official

Not that it wasn't official before...but its officially official! I'm going to compete in the Capital of Texas Triathlon on May 25th! Friday was the deadline for submitting our recommittment forms, which basically guarantees our spot on the plane with my fellow TNTers. So now that the Society will be registering me for the race in the next couple weeks, its officially official!

Not much has changed since my last post. I'm still working hard to fit in as many of the workouts as I can, while listening to my body to not run it into the ground. It helps that its staying lighter later and its getting warmer out.

With about 2 months and some change left until the race, its more of a mental battle now, rather than a physical battle. Its been a loooong season, and honestly, I'm a little burnt out. But I'm pushing through and don't get down on myself for missing a workout. When race day comes, I know I'll be ready. But the journey there has been and will continue to be long and hard. But I know that once I cross that finish line, it'll all be worth it!

Monday, March 16, 2009

2.5 months and counting

First off, I apologize for taking a month to post again. Between work, training, and trying to find time to eat and sleep, blogging has fallen to the wayside a bit.

So the countdown has begun...just 2.5 months left until I'm in Austin. Its a bit scary, but I'm confident that our coaches will have us adequately prepared. A couple weeks ago during a Tuesday morning swim, the coaches took the lane lines out of the pool, to simulate open water swimming. It was definitely choppier and we had to put a little more effort into swimming in a straight line. Each week, they give us something new to focus on. Its ranged from our stroke technique, to weak side and bilateral breathing, sighting (looking forward while swimming, so you know you're swimming in the right direction), kicking (but not too much, as to preserve energy in our legs), and this week is distance swimming. They're taking the lane lines out again tomorrow, so it will be interesting.

I finally made it out on a Saturday to a group bike ride (since it was 70 degrees!). You'd think riding a bike would be easy, but there was so much going on. For most of the ride, we were sharing the road with cars, so I had to be sure I stayed as far to the right as possible. I had a cue sheet taped between my handlebars so if I fell back from the pack, I'd know where to go. The cue sheet is basically turn-by-turn directions. It was a good thing I had it because at one point I saw everyone turn right, and I followed, but then they were nowhere to be seen. I turned around to find one of the coaches behind me, making the same mistake I did. And that's when I figured out that "QL" on the cue sheet means "quick left". So we turned around, made the appropriate turn, and caught up with the rest of the group. It was a pretty hilly legs were burning for a good portion of the 26 miles, and the hills were so frequent that once we reached the top of one, there wasn't much rest before the next hill appeared before us. But I am proud to say that I didn't get off my bike until we got back to the parking lot...where we had to run for 15 minutes. You would expect your legs to be tired after the bike ride, but they felt like jello. Try it sometime...riding even a stationary bike for a while and then hopping on the treadmill...its an odd feeling.

Following the ride and run we learned how to change our bike tire. Should we get a flat during the triathlon, we're left to our own devices to fix it. I could use a bit more practice with it...after successfully replacing the tube, it took 3 of us to to get the tire back in the rim. Next month they'll start to have competitions to see who can change a tire the fastest, so hopefully that will help hone my bike tire changing skills. My fingers are crossed that I won't have to actually change a tire during the race.

The last month has been a bit of a challenge. Most days of the week have 2 workouts on the schedule, and its been hard trying to fit them both in between work and my body being tired. I've prioritized the on days where we're supposed to swim and run, I chose run, since that is my least favorite of the three. I was starting to get nervous about how prepared I'm going to be, considering I haven't done every single workout. But my team captain, Leighton, came to the rescue, putting me at ease and reassuring me that its ok to not do every single workout. She said its important to listen to your body, and I definitely did that during our rest & recovery week a few weeks ago...catching up on some much needed rest.

But I feel refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to tackle these last couple months. Thank you to everyone that has donated money, read my blog, and sent supportive vibes my way. I thought fundraising would be more of a challenge, but thanks to everyone's generosity, I'm very very close to reaching my fundraising goal of $5000. If you know of anyone wishing to donate, please feel free to pass along the web address to my fundraising website:

I promise not to wait another month before posting. So check back again soon for an update!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

I think that song appropriately describes where I'm at with the training. I'm in the 2nd build week for this month, and my legs can't wait for the recovery week in 2 weeks. The workouts are getting harder and longer, but I know they're making me better, faster and stronger (like how I tied all that together?)! We've also started having more two-a-day workouts, which have been hard to fit in. Ideally, I'd like to get both out of the way in the morning before work, but since the pools don't open until 5:30am, I'm left doing the running workout after work. We've also started having BRICK workouts on Saturdays where we bike and then run immediately after, to get our muscles acclimated to switching sports so quickly. Thankfully the run isn't too long right now. I don't know if my legs would be able to hold up. But if you think my workouts sound crazy, take a look at this video, I don't know how these girls did it!

Let's see...what else...I've been pleasantly surprised at how well I've been doing with the swimming. I haven't really swam since my days on the Pinebrook Swim Team when I was in elementary school, but I'm enjoying myself. The workouts go by really fast, and the coaches have been really helpful with their tips and critiques of our technique. Biking has been ok. I've stuck to the stationary bike at the gym for now since it's been so cold out, and too dark both before and after work. I've only made it to the first Saturday group ride, again because of the cold weather. I guess I'm a little bit of a sissy in that regards, but once it warms up a bit, I'll be out with the group. Running is still a stuggle, but I'm plodding along. I need to find a way to not get bored after the first 10 minutes. Especially since most of our runs are up around 40 and 50 minutes. Running outside is a big help (there's no way I could spend 50 minutes running on a treadmill), or with people. But I still have plenty of time to force myself to like running!

As for the fundraising, I'm getting closer and closer to my fundraising goal, which is super exciting! A huge THANKS to everyone that has donated money and offered words of encouragement. All the support I've received helps get me out of bed early every morning to train. Just a reminder to anyone that's thinking of buying some raffle tickets...the deadline is March 2nd. So you don't have too much time to send your forms in. The drawing will be at the end of March. You can always donate through my website as well, . Here's an idea of where your donations go:
  • a $25 donation provides FREE booklets for patients and their families that contain up-to-date information about their disease, to help them make informed decisions about their treatment options
  • a $50 donation makes possible a Family Support group with a trained facilitator where patients and families can share their experiences and find comfort and support
  • a $100 donation helps supply lab researchers with supplies and materials
  • a $500 donation provides a patient with financial aid for treatment related costs

I think that's about all for my update now. I'll try not to wait so long for my next update.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

1 month down...

So our first month of hardcore training is winding down with a recovery week. The workouts are shorter and less intense, and I'm getting some much needed rest so I'm ready for next week. I just hope the weather warms up so running and biking outside is bearable.

Last week Leighton, my team captain, had our team over to her house, aka The Ministry of Fun. We ate lots of delicious pasta and caeser salad, heard Sean's story of wearing plastic bags under his pants to try and stay warm (the internet said it was a good idea), and laughed our asses off while playing catch phrase until 11pm. Although our whole team couldn't make it, its was a great opportunity to start to get to know everyone and ask questions and share stories about training, fundraising and the actual race itself. I can't wait for the next get-together next month!

As for my fundraising, I'm more than halfway to my goal!!! A HUGE THANKS to everyone that has already donated. I was a little worried about raising the money, but everyone has been so supportive and generous, and has made this a lot easier than I had anticipated. Just a reminder that if you're interested in buying raffle tickets, let me know so I can send you the form. The forms must be received by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society by March 2nd in order to receive your ticket(s).