Have Helmet, Will Travel

Grab a cocktail or cup of coffee, this is going to be a long one. I took a weekend trip to WI for all of my favorite things: friends, family, beer, triathlons, and tattoos. I'll explain.

First things first. Somehow I managed to pack all of my racing gear, including bike shoes, pedals, wet suit, and water bottle, into a carry on sized duffel bag. My helmet wouldn't fit, so that was my personal item. I received some strange looks and a few questions. I think I'm going to start travelling with random objects more often. It was hilarious.

I decided to rent a bike instead of shipping mine. But the only thing the Trek store rented out were the Madones. Darn, I had to pick up a $4236 bicycle to race with. John made the comment that if I finished on the podium, I could keep the bike. He later clarified that AG podium didn't count, but if I beat any of the elites (who weren't injured) that I could also keep the bike. Please make a note of these statements for later.

After picking up the bike, my friend AM and I enjoyed a Berghoff Oktoberfest beer and then went to the Great Dane for food, drinks, and to meet up with CZ. CZ recently did Ironman WI. What a stud! I love getting to meet other virtual tri friends! This is what I had for dinner: WI Cheddar n Mac, served with a pretzel and I had the Devil's Lake Red to go with it. That would make any German happy.

Cheese curds, of course.

CZ, me, and AM after dinner.

I had to share the bathroom at AM's with her turtle, Tattoo. I've never taken a couch-surfing vacation and to be honest, I had a lot of fun.

We drove to the race site on Saturday. Here is a pumpkin on top of a silo. You do know what a silo is, right?
I don't have any pictures during the race just yet. I forgot to check the weather and had to buy a long sleeved shirt when I realized it wouldn't be above 65 until after noon.

As for the race itself, the start was cold - 52 air temp and 72 water temp. The water wasn't actually that bad. I heard there were about 1750+ starters. The elites went off at 7, my wave was at 7:43. I was nervous as always and I don't know why. I hadn't really trained for this race and was just doing it for fun. At some point, I hope the sweeping nausea before a triathlon will go away. Nerves is one thing, not being able to stomach food is another.
I started close to the front of my wave since I knew there were a lot of first-timers I was looking to avoid. No offense, but it's natural to freak out during your first open water swim and it's not fun for those who catch a thrashing arm or leg in the face. I found open water and cruised. The swim was point-to-point, which I've never done before. I came out in 12:59, or 1:38 min/100m, my fastest swim split to date by over 20 sec/100m. I think that means I stink at sighting.
T1 was slow - 3:56. I struggled trying to get my long-sleeved shirt on over my wet body, but I'm glad I did. I grabbed my rental bike, whom I named Chip for the day, and took off. I could easily launch into a side bar about how amazingly awesome it is to ride a $4200 bike, but I'll save that for later. Chip and I had a good time and great ride. I was passed by only 1 person and did the ride in 37:44 (19.7 mph). Sweeeeet.
T2 again was slow (2:45). There was a cluster at the dismount and I got stuck behind some slower moving women. Oh well. On to the run. I left my shades on and took off. 3 miles. I was excited. With the distances I've been running while training for Heartland, 3 miles is nothing. I skipped the first aid station and just started passing people. I stopped at mile 1.5 for Gatorade and kept on. I was feeling well, so I decided I'd pick up the pace at mile 2 and run hard in. Just like speed work with KT, I told myself. Run like Meeka. The run for me was huge - I didn't get passed by a single person and that never happens. The run is usually my weakest area and it says a lot about my training that I showed that much improvement. I finished strong and my watch said 1:20. Nice!
I hung out until AM finished and cheered on the other finishers, which was a lot of fun. A few bottles of water and I was looking forward to the blueberry pancakes we were planning on afterwards.
Me and Chip, post race. Check out that hair!

Since when I returned my bike, the racks were empty and I didn't see anyone from my AG on the entire run, I checked the results on a whim.
I had to look twice. Three times. Really? I couldn't believe it - AG 25-29, 3. Kevern 1:19:57. I sprinted all the way back to transition to find AM and tell her the news. My first podium finish! Can we stay for the awards ceremony? Pretty please?? Of course!

It wasn't just the bike, either. My swim time was my fastest ever and I set a new PR in the 5K of 22:32 or 7:16 min/mile. I am still in shock. My fastest run pace in a short-distance tri before was 8:30. I knocked over a minute off my pace. I owe SO much to my training partners KT and MO for how much I have improved this year.
So final stats: 1:19:57, 3/179 in my AG, 36/1711 finishers total. If you remember what my dear husband said, you'll remember a podium finish meant the bike was mine. I would argue that I have photographic evidence, AG or not. Besides that, I beat 3 of the elites!! I'm currently in negotiations for new carbon wheels and an upgrade to Ultegra components for my bike since I know $4200 is a lot for something you have to pedal.
The story isn't over just yet. I mentioned tattoos earlier and I wasn't just referencing AM's turtle. In celebration, I got a new tat on my left wrist. It's a good time since I'm done swimming for a little while.

I also met up with my parents and little brother for dinner, and my cousins later that night. Me and BM went out the breakfast before she dropped me off at the airport. That is what I call a successful weekend.

Bring it on, Heartland.



I'm off to WI for the weekend to race with an old high school friends and more importantly, hang out. I'm looking forward to the trip and glad to get away. It's been one of those weeks where life feels upside-down and I don't know how to right myself. I haven't been swimming or biking and I'm feeling a little low on running miles too. Ce la vie. Time for bed.


Rump Shaker

I consider myself fortunate that I have a husband with whom I share so much in common with. We're both civil engineers, so we can share work stories, we both love to drink beer, work on our house, and we both like to run. But sometimes togetherness goes too far.

Before we even started trail running or ultras, we had decided our runs together had to be limited. Different paces and different goals made for some unpleasant runs. We used to run at the same time, just different routes. If we ran together, it was usually because I had a tempo run and he had a recovery run scheduled.

Once we started running longer distances, we started running together again. When you're out in the woods for 4+ hours at a time, your spouse should be welcome company, right? Well... It reminded me why we didn't run together. John runs by his Garmin, I run by my body. Usually, half the run was spent by "You're going to fast, you're going to blow up" or "This pace is too slow, it screws up my stride." But my all-time favorite was a comment he'd make while I was leading and usually after he had stumbled or tripped: "Your legs are so muddy I can't see the trail!"


So the Limited Runs Rule was reinstated. We agreed upon running together every 6-8 weeks. John doesn't really like people, anyway. I've been doing a lot of running with KT and MO, besides the Thursday night Nerds run and solo recovery runs.

But recently we made a discovery as to why we have the Limited Runs Rule. John said after a Thursday night run, he realized why he couldn't run behind me and always seemed to trip. My ass blocks his line of sight. Those were his exact words: "Your ass blocks my line of sight." To which I promptly replied "On behalf of my ass, I apologize. And that is exactly why my ass and I don't want to run with you."

Now for the gentlemen that may be reading, you should never tell a woman that her ass blocks your line of sight, no matter how large or small the rear end in question may be. A better way for him to have said that would have been "I can't follow you because I just can't take my eyes off your behind and that's why I trip all the time." No damage done. But "Your ass blocks my line of sight" implies that maybe you should be wearing a WIDE LOAD sign on your posterior.

So of course, after this conversation I became a little self conscious of my bum. Do I need a WIDE LOAD sign on my rump? Does it get in the way of other runners? I've lead the Thursday night run on a number of occasions; has my butt been the cause of trail mishaps that I wasn't even aware of? Maybe I could use this to my advantage during races, I'd just have to position myself at the front of the pack and I could box out my competition. Those skinny runner girls won't know what hit 'em! I got junk in my trunk and I'm not afraid to use it!

My ass and I have politely decided to retreat to the back of the pack on group runs and appropriately play the caboose. Heaven forbid my bottom causes other runners undue stress.

For the record: My ass is a size 6 and has covered more miles than I can count. I also used 10 different words for "butt". Any other suggestions?


We're getting close

We did something unexpected this weekend. After our run on Saturday, John and I went home, showered, and took a nap. I forgot how nice it is to do nothing, even if it's only for an hour on a Saturday afternoon. Between work, the homes tour, social events, and training for a triathlon next week and Heartland in a month, I feel like I haven't sit still for more than 5 minutes in the last few weeks.

My schedule is starting to wear on me. I need more than 7 hours of sober sleep, especially on the weekends. Key word: sober. I'm limiting myself to 1-2 drinks a night until Heartland, mostly so I can get some quality sleep. But the running has been going well. I took a week off speed work due to a sinus cold, but I've been getting all of my long runs in. I'm hoping after the tour I can catch up on some sleep and take a few naps.

Right now, I'm averaging 30-35 miles between Saturday and Sunday. This weekend, John, MO and I ran on gravel roads between De Soto and Eudora. It was great Heartland training - gravel roads and no shelter from the sun. We did get to see two Lamborghini's at the gas station in De Soto. Go figure. By the end it was hot and humid, no shade or breeze and the loose gravel was taking a toll. When we were about 1.5 miles from the end, I decided to pick up the pace. I ran the last 1.5 at an 8:05 pace. That made me pretty happy for how hot it was and how much we had already ran.

Sunday, MO very politely put up with me for my second weekend run, which included much more walking than normal. Either way, we were on our feet for another 2.5 hours. This was the first Sunday run where I actually felt fatigued before I even started. John slept in, which made me a little jealous, but I am glad I got that run in. One more weekend of solid running, two weeks of consistent training, and then I start to taper.

After our run this week, I think I have a game plan. Assuming "normal" temperatures, I'm going to run the first few hours at around a 10 min/mile pace walking a few minutes every half hour or so; hopefully that will be about the first 15-18 miles. Once the sun is up and temps have risen, I'll pull back a bit, hopefully to about an 11 min/mile, but I want to take advantage of starting in the dark and the cooler temps. At the turnaround I'll reevaluate and adjust my pace. The last 4-5 miles are mostly downhill, so I'm hoping to pick up the pace at the end.

That being said, I know if it's hot and humid, I'll be walking a lot and running closer to 11:30 or 12. If I overheat, I'm in trouble so my main goal is to prevent overheating at all cost. I think the key for this race is just listening to my body and responding appropriately. If things go well - great. If not, it's just another learning experience. Either way, I've been having fun with Heartland training.



What a fantastically exhausting weekend. It started with several margaritas and a few unnecessary gin and tonics Friday night. Saturday morning came much too early, but MO and I managed to put in 17-18 miles on the trails with headaches and nausea. We called the run early but still put in 3:20. How sick is that, we "only" ran for 3 hours and 20 minutes. Geesh. I'm starting to believe all those people who call me crazy. By the way, Garmin lies. It was very unreliable in overcast weather and dense trees. We did a minimum of 17.

Back at the ranch, John, MO and I worked on our patio and yard the rest of the day. Lucky for MO, we pay in beer and BBQ. With the KC Modern Homes tour fast approaching, we have a lot of work to do but we're making good progress. For house updates, click here. If you're in the KC area, consider yourself officially invited.

Sunday, I basically repeated, sans tequila. I ran 15 miles in town, got breakfast with John and the neighbors, and went back to work. Our neighbor bought a smoker, so Sunday night I ate enough smoked meat that it started coming out of my ears. Today I rode and worked again. Needless to say, 32 running miles, 20 biking miles, and a newly-landscaped yard later, I am exhausted. I already showered and brushed my teeth and I'm just waiting to climb into bed.

KT and I moved our morning speed session to Wednesday since in our minds tomorrow will be like Monday and we usually run on Tuesdays. I'm sure I would have been too slow in the morning to keep up, so I'm glad to take tomorrow as a rest day. I'm hoping Wednesday night to head back to the climbing gym. Between the alcohol, running, working, and inhaling dirt, dust, and debris, I'm feeling a little stuffed up. No more beer until this subsides; hopefully it doesn't turn into a cold. Another reason I'm heading to bed and it's only 9:01 pm. Sweet dreams.


Feeling like a sloth

I feel like a sloth. We've been really busy at work and today was just one of those days where I left the office and my brain felt like mush. I'm pretty sure some may have spilled out of my ears. I should have done something tonight but I didn't think I had the mental capacity to safely ride in traffic and it is an off day from running. So here I am, Corona in hand and waiting for the weekend. Thank God for 3 day weekends.