A month or so later, I return to Race Weekend… I return to the “after” and I reflect on all that it was and continues to be. You can find Part 1 of 3 here and Park 2 of 3 here. Photos from Race Weekend can be found my Flickr site in this set.

Upon being greeted with big hugs and wonderful congratulatory remarks by my parents, grandma, aunt, and uncle I joined the line of finishers for food and then joined my other teammates back on the course to cheer in and cheer on the rest of our teammates. As our last teammate ran in, we ran with her… USAT rules out the window! It was great running along side her and then watching as she crossed the finish line. Together, we went to the TNT tent to receive our TRI pins and then a number of us joined the line for a free 10 minute massage. Heaven!

After spending time at the expo again with my family, I headed back to the hotel on what could possibly be described as he longest 4 mile bike ride… ever. Shower, change, and then off to Cannery Row with my family! I enjoyed walking around with them, but did not enjoy the stairs or the actual walking. Haha. I felt so limp. The official TNT Victory Party was a blast, especially seeing little Lauren and her sisters in their matching dresses cutting it up on the dance floor with their parents and the many teammates from their area who fundraised and raced in Lauren’s honor. It was great fun dancing with my teammates too.

We danced until they kicked us out and then I made the decision to go to bed, it’d been a long day and I was definitely exhausted. I didn’t train enough for that fourth event. ;) The next day we packed up our tri bags and bikes with Wheels on Wheels to return to San Diego and then headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for our remaining few hours in the city. We took in the otters, the jelly fish, and other creatures that we were glad to not know existed during our swim the day before. Quality time with the teammies and then Mother Duck sent us off on the shuttles to the airport.

“Wait, just because we finished our triathlon you don’t think we need guidance anymore?! No mentor? Coach? Coordinator? We can’t do this on our own!”

It was a sad moment indeed. We enjoyed the airport and flight as best we could in our exhaustion and sadness that it was ending. We’ve since returned to our day to day lives… some of us training more than others. A number of my teammates recently completed the Subaru Sprint here in San Diego, I was sad to have to miss it. Perhaps next year, I definitely want to keep up with triathlons… I need to get back on the water and keep running. I’ve felt awfully lazy without workouts five ro six days a week.

As a full team, we celebrated just a couple of weekends ago at our finale party. We enjoyed video slideshows of pictures and a fantastic video of our teammate Tim leading Knuckles, the hotel sports bar, in a couple of classic camp songs. We shared stories of our respective races and enjoyed the ever wonderful support and inspiration that comes from our Coach(es).

I miss them all so much, but we’re planning to go out singing in just a few weeks… Karaoke, here comes PGNT Alums, get ready for us!


San Diego Represent!

Originally uploaded by strong_enough

“The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.” Anais Nin

Race day was a blessing… and it is my hope that I too was a blessing to others through raising awareness and funds ($4631 to date! Go go go!). Crossing the finish line was the moment I lived in unison with my dream, I can’t wait to do it again.

More photos will be posted on Flickr soon, but for now this will give you a glimpse at race morning in Pacific Grove with my team. “Team Estrogen” (and Nelson, Neil, and Tim… plus Coach Robbie) at the finish line just a few minutes before the opening ceremonies.

For race recaps, scroll down or go here and here and here.

Scroll down or go here for Part 1 of 3 for RACE WEEKEND.

And now, the big day! RACE DAY!!!

Waking at 4:30am proved to be much easier than I expected… I guess it was the excitement?! Probably. I had everything prepped… from my “nutrition planned and proved” breakfast of champions to my tri clothes laid out in order of when I put it on (i.e. singlet on top of my sweatshirt on top of my jacket). I pumped air into my tires and Catherine and I headed out to meet the team in the dark that is 5am. Adrenaline-pumped, race-ready teamies gathered with eagerness dripping from every word and movement. So, we headed out. The first several blocks felt like they’d never end as we walked our bikes to the safe, lit, and legal bike path for the dark of morning. We rode the remain four or so miles to the transition area where we set up our spots and received our body markings.

After our initial 45 minutes or so “warm up” on the bike, a bunch of us decided to continue our warm up with a run. I did about 30 minutes or so out and back on the path before I returned to refuel, rehydrate, and get ready for our team picture under the finish line. We watched the opening ceremonies with a prayer and national anthem. We listened as Coach Robbie gave a “motivational talk looking out over the swim” when the first wave took off at 7:15am. Together we watched the men’s waves cut through some of the kelp for those of us in the later waves. Then, those of us heading out first went to final prep for our race.

I slithered into my wetsuit, greased up my neck to prevent more “love bites” from said wetsuit, and finished my water. I restructured the layout of my transition area and headed down to the water with my teammates. We were part of the first women’s (and first TNT women’s) wave at 8:45am. We “warmed up” our strokes in the chilly 57 degree water and then jumped around in excitement… waiting for that countdown.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1! And the race began! I ran into the water and started swimming at my absolute fastest in hopes that I could draft off of the faster women for as long as possible. I kept up with most of the group for most of the first section before they were too far ahead of me. I continued as fast as I could and occasionally found other swimmers at my pace that I was able to draft off of. My first loop of the swim took around 23 minutes… just a little longer than I’d hoped for (as 20 minutes had been my fastest half-mile previously). I was excited though because I’d expected that the people and the kelp would slow me down much more than that. My second loop was slower and I crossed the timing mat into T1 at 9:33am at 00:47:57 with a pace of 00:51:26 minutes a mile. This is a relatively slow pace, but I’ve never been nor claimed to be a speed demon. Haha. I was excited to come in at less than my predicted 50min for the swim.

T1… my first transition! It took me 00:06:29 for my transition (about a minute and a half slower than I predicted). I think the added time can be greatly placed on my use of arm warmers. I’d never used them during our practices and trying to pull clothing onto wet arms is tricky. Plus, I didn’t put my singlet on until I got done with the swim. It was still relatively fast given that I had to tie my shoes (I don’t use bike shoes or yanks), put on socks and arm warmers, and I even took the time to thaw out my hands and feet in hot water. It may have been a “long” transition, but it was well worth it.

Time for the bike! The bike course was a 10k loop that we did four times. I loved having a looped course. First, it made nutrition planning super easy. I planned things for “at the beginning of each loop” or “at the end of the first three loops” and it worked out perfectly. It gave me time to digest and process the energy in the gels and utilize the electrolytes during and before the run. I finished all of my hydration and nutrition system at the beginning of the first loop and had a full six miles to process it all. I also loved having a looped course because I was able to see people I knew in the crowd at each loop and hearing those encouragements really kept me going. It also meant that I was able to see people I knew often on the course. I found that I was watching the opposite side of the road for teammies more often than I was pushing my speed. Plus, by the second loop, I had refamiliarized myself with the loop and knew when to shift gears, prep to shift, and when I could really push the speed. In the end, I finished the bike a full 12 minutes faster than I predicted. I finished the bike at 11:28am after 01:48:32 with a pace of 13.7mph. Again, some would consider this pace to be fairly pedestrian, but it was faster than I’d ever gone before. My coach predicted my bike would take me 01:53:13; I made him proud! Woo hoo!

T2… the second transition! Normally, I rock the second transition like nobody’s business because I don’t use bike shoes. Rack the bike, grab my water bottle and hat, and GO! When we had our practice tri, I rocked out onto the run in 00:01:16. Unfortunately, my hydration caught up to me and I had to slow down to take care of that. So my T2 time was 00:03:03, but I was ready to go when I got out to the run.

Time to run… and remember when I said I was ready to go? Apparently my legs didn’t get the memo. The first two miles (the first loop… yup, the run was looped too, love it!) were terrible. Absolutely terrible. I went through a constant cycle of run, walk, stop and stretch. Try again. In the end, my first loop took just nearly 31 minutes (with the first mile taking just under 17 minutes). Those two miles really warmed up my calves though and by the end of that first loop I was feeling significantly less cramping. I finished my second loop in about 27 minutes. When I started that last loop I ran past my cheering section (love you Mom, Dad, Uncle Russ, Grandma Betty, and Aunt Carolyn!) and told them, “I’ll see you at the finish line!” I finished my last loop in 25:27, which was still significantly slower than I would have liked my average pace to be, but I was thrilled to cross that finish line in 04:09:11! I predicted that it would take me 5.5 hours back in July when we were filling out race forms. In fact, I didn’t even know if that was possible. Then, we had our practice triathlon mid-August, I realized that I could probably do it about 4.5 hours. Then, Coach asked us to predict times for each section and I predicted my total time would be 04:12:30… and I beat it! I beat that time despite my run taking 01:23:08 (just over eight minutes longer that I predicted and just about 10 minutes slower than my coach predicted). As I’ve been recounting race day, I’ve been looking at old projected times and such and I realized that while I was (and still am) disappointed by the run, I actually came in faster than my initial projected 10K time. Wow! I guess the little disappointments just mean I’ll have to do this again (and I’m hooked, so it’ll happen… one day).

Crossing that finish line was unbelievably amazing and indescribably fulfilling. The entire run was very emotional for me. With the first loop causing me much frustration, it was a huge blessing and great feeling to reach “the hill” and see the love and support offered by our mentors and others with a “San Diego Roll Call” lining the hill. It was great seeing not only my name, but each of our names there. By the time I started the second loop, my thoughts started to think about all of the names on my singlet… cancer fighters, cancer survivors, and angels lost to cancer. While I competed with LLS and raised funds for blood cancers, people with all types of cancer lined my singlet. I thought of the children as I raced on Childhood Cancer Awareness Day. I thought of Lauren and her parents from the night before at the Pasta Party… “chup chup,” she’d said. Cheer up. As I passed my family, my teammates, my coach, my mentors, my coordinator on that last loop… as I passed by every individual yelling GO TEAM or GO BREE (my name was on my singlet), I thought, “I’m really doing this. I’m really going to finish.” Once more, I reminded myself not to cry despite the surge of emotion. I thought of each one of you supporting me with words of encouragement, countless prayers, and donations. The support has been incredible and I can honestly say that I would not have been able to cross that finish line without each and every one of you. You were each with me, guiding me with beautiful words and prayers, as I crossed the finish line. Angels wings’ carried me and earthly angels cheered me on. Thank you. Thank you SO much.

Wow, this has turned into quite a novel. Stay tuned for what came *after* the race…

(P.S. You can find more race results and stats here, but remember that I never boasted to be a top athlete. You can find official race pictures here, but remember that I was RACING (and therefore cannot be held responsible for strange faces and other appearances.)

A much belated, but carefully thought (and hopefully engaging) account of race weekend…

I last messaged you all on September 11th after arriving safely in Monterey… oh! What an eventful weekend it was! After I sent out that email, I met up with my team for a walk into downtown Monterey for lunch.

“It’s only about a mile,” Mentor Emily noted.

It was only about three or four TO lunch. Well, that’s one way to get acquainted with the town. We came back to the hotel after a short stop at Trader Joe’s and I took a much needed nap before our course preview. Our bikes arrived about an hour late, so we didn’t make it out to the bike course until the sun was already setting (and the Monterey cold was setting back in). The bike was pleasantly flat and it was great to preview it and realize that I could bike much of it in my big chain ring. We took a short stop at Lover’s Point Beach where about half of my team elected to do a quick polar bear swim (well, wade… as Coordinator Heather deemed swimming post-sunset to be a bad idea). I elected to watch and take pictures of my crazy teammates.

We went back to the hotel after riding about 14 miles total and met for dinner and decorating. We decorated our singlets for race day. Names, dates, inspirations, and other puff painted notions to propel us forward and remind us of our reasons on race day. For those of you that shared names, know that each one was on the back on my singlet… every fighter, every survivor, every angel was in my thoughts.

On day two in Monterey, it was all about the preview and the expo. We swam the “kelp crawl” in the bitter 58 degree water before previewing the run course. Friday was cold and overcast all day. I could not get my muscles to warm up after the swim and felt a little anxious about race day. I just kept reminding myself that I’d only *previewed* the course… and that doing full distances would warm me up much better! I walked around the expo and picked up my race packet with my numbers (#760!), swim cap (pink!), timing chip, and other fun things.

I went back to the hotel to warm up and get ready for the pasta party… what a blast! The food was delicious and it was so fun being surrounded by so many TNTers and supporters. We learned that the 341 athletes representing LLS at Pacific Grove raised $1.2 million! WOW! The top fundraiser received a new bike from Schwinn… he raised over $12,000! I think I’m abusing my right to use exclamation marks, but I can’t help myself. I still get so excited when I reflect on the weekend and all that was accomplished. We had a few other comments from LLS, some comments from Schwinn (they’re the newest national sponsor of Team In Training), and a handful of remarks from the head official for USAT about the rules of triathlon. Finally, giving the ultimate in “mission moments,” Emma and Lauren of the Great San Francisco Area spoke about Lauren’s fight against leukemia. Lauren, a now cancer-free eight-year-old, was diagnosed just before she turned five. As Emma, her mom, spoke of Lauren’s treatments and the love they have felt from LLS (Lauren’s been an honored teammate for awhile now) the emotion in the room continued to build. Lauren spoke about her courage beads around her neck and her favorite song: “I Will Survive.” Emma and her husband Michael competed with us on race day in their first triathlon. What an inspiration! It was great hearing them speak, but it certainly caused the tears to run.

After the pasta party, Coach Robbie did some housekeeping with our San Diego team and Head Coach Gurujan (aka Mother Hen) called to tell us he loved us, missed us, and wished us well. He was in Washington D.C. with a handful of our other teammates competing in the Nation’s Triathlon on September 14th. My roommate Catherine and I retreated to our hotel room where I proceeded to pack and prep and pack and prep and double check and triple check everything for race day. I went to bed just before 10pm with a stomach full of butterflies and an unbelievable feeling of excitement.

I’m off to bed as I have an arrival time of 6:15am tomorrow morning at Moonlight Beach… crazy! We start our practice tri at 7:30am. It’s a 750m swim, 20K ride, and 5K run! Oh geez! Am I ready? As I’ll ever be…

Fundraising deadline got extended a few days… so make those donations, you still have time! $900 to go!

Okay, so, I’m just going to continue moving back in time until I have the blog all caught up…

On Saturday, we had our FULL TRANSITION SHAKEDOWN! Wow! What a feat!

It was incredible and so eye-opening for race day!! Look at all these exclamation marks, can you tell I’m excited? Race day is less than four weeks away, where did the time go???

Back to Saturday, we arrived at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas [the site of some of the biggest triathlon moments in history] at 6:45am where we set up our transition areas and listened as Coach Gurujan reminded us that we were following in the steps of greatness and that where we stood was “holy ground” in the triathlon world. Apparently, if you tell triathletes around the world that you had a practice tri at Moonlight Beach or ride Fiesta Island they will “worship at your feet.” Haha, but seriously, it was pretty incredible to hear the stories that Coach told and also very inspiring.

Just as inspiring was Jenny’s Mission Moment about her dad who died of a sarcoma her sophomore year of college. Jenny’s an alum and this is her fourth event with Team In Training. While her dad didn’t die from a blood cancer, she feels that this is a way that she can honor her dad and work towards a cure. One of the things that inspires each of us is knowing that sometimes the drugs and research for one cancer can help combat another. That is a great thing, truly.

On with the practice! First, we watched our mentors and assistant coach (Brian, Emily, Penny, and Robbie) do surf entry, swim out about 50m, then swim back and surf exit. Then, they ran up to the transition area where Emily and Brian were in a full race. She hopped on her bike at the mount line and slipped her feet into her bike shoes without socks. Brian didn’t have his shoes on his bike, plus he wore socks… so his transition was a little slower. Meanwhile, Robbie and Penny also made their way up to the transition area and transitioned to the bike.

After completing the bike portion, they transitioned to the run and sprinted out the demo. Crazy!! And then, IT WAS OUR TURN! Ready, set, GO TEAM!

I swam out and around our mentors and Coach Robbie and boy! I have never done a surf entry with THAT MUCH SURF… it was a whole lot more difficult than La Jolla Shores. Then, I ran up the ramp to the transition area where my gear was waiting… I pulled off my wetsuit (so hard!) and pulled out my water bottle and rinsed (most of) the sand off my feet before I slipped my socks and shoes on. Slipping socks onto wet feet is not my favorite thing in the world, but better than I expected it’d be. Now, as my personal bank account doesn’t have the wiggle room, I’m using cages on my pedals and regular running shoes on the bike. I’m also using *real* laces… so my transition from bike to run is pretty slow. Luckily, after the bike, all I had to do was hop off the bike, grab my water bottle and hat and take off… one of the fastest transition times because I didn’t have to change shoes! Woo hoo!

Now, we only did a very short distance as the goal was to practice transitions and not distance on Saturday. However, because it was all so quick, it was very high intensity and boy was I exhausted when I crossed the finish line! I’m interested to see how the practice tri will go in a couple of weeks. Running (walking?) that short distance of a half mile or so wasn’t bad with wet socks, but we’ll see if that changes and the distance increases.

We did all of this one more time (actually, we ditched the wetsuits the second time around) before the team headed out on a 20 mile bike ride. I had to skip the bike ride on Saturday to go work at the Qualcomm company picnic with Picnic People who gave me $10 an hour toward my fundraising. It wasn’t the best way to fundraise, but every little bit helps and I’m grateful for their generosity.

And *that* was Saturday… 5:30am to 8:15pm… BUSY! Haha, and so it goes.

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