Mock Tri Recap

Yesterday was our mock tri. It’s only for Tri It For Life members, and we all paid $10.00 each to participate. Most of our mentors were there, and it was a chance for south, central and north side athletes to all workout together.

I workout with the north side group. We have a slight advantage in that we do our swim training in the pool where the race will be held. We’ve already been traumatized by the 17 foot water, and had time to get over it. LOL! We also bike on part of the race course, so we’re used to those hills as well.

The mock tri was scheduled to start at 8:00am sharp, and we were advised to be there no later than 7:00am. That meant I had to get up around 5:15. That gives me enough time to get up and get moving, have my breakfast, pack my gear, and hit the road by 6:40 at the latest (I live relatively close to the aquatic center).

The alarm went off, and out of habit I hit the snooze button. Ten minutes later, I realized I really did need to get up. Back during my running days, I had to get up early before long runs to give my digestive system time to, uh, work its magic. Otherwise it was bad, bad news during that run. LOL! Glad to know my body is consistent and nothing has changed.

I vacillated on what to have for breakfast. HH had put the bananas in the fridge so those were out. I can’t stand the texture of a refrigerated banana. Blech. I had no yogurt. So I went with a waffle with peanut butter, and some fruit. I also started hydrating.

The night before, I had prepped/packed my bucket. The easiest way to transport all your stuff to your transition area is to use a 5 gallon paint bucket. In it you can put your sneakers/socks, bike shoes/run shoes, shirt to go over your Tri suit, running belt to hold your number, snacks/energy gels, trash bags to cover your items if it’s raining…pretty much everything you’ll need. Then you hook the bucket onto your bike handle bars and wheel the bike to the area. I double checked my bucket even though I knew everything was in there.

I showered and threw on my sports bra, tri suit and some flip flops. It was a bit chilly when I started putting my stuff in the car, so I threw on a long sleeve t-shirt. I put a tablespoon of peanut butter in a small zip loc bag and stuck it in the back pocket of my tri suit for later. HH woke up and sleepily blinked at me. I gave him a kiss and hit the road.

I arrived at the venue and was directed to park across the street at the park. We were using the aquatic center parking lot for our transition area. I saw a few ladies from the north side and we chatted while pumping up bike tires and getting our gear together. Did you know you should check your air pressure and pump up your tires before every ride?

All the mentors had gotten there earlier and tents were set up to sign in, get our bodies marked, and buy gear if we wanted. Try Sports even had a table. I ended up buying a race belt from them since I didn’t have one already. I had my eye on some Yanks (shoe strings you don’t have to tie) but I knew I didn’t need those for the day. I bought a Tri It For Life short to wear over my tri suit during the run and bike.

I was number 22. It was written at the top of my right arm, and above both knees. For the mock, they also had us grouped by type of bike and speed. I was in bike group 6, so that was written on my left calf. They also wrote my name down my right arm. At first, I had them write “CASS” but when I pulled my sleeve down, the C was covered! We had a good chuckle about that. I went back and got the rest of my name written.

When you set up your transition area, it’s really small. Take a small towel, like a hand towel, and lay it on the floor. That’s your space, next to your bike. You put your sneakers on the towel and then you put your helmet down, with your shirt, sunglasses, gloves, and head band inside of it. You put them in the order you’ll get dressed. Obviously you’d want to put your shirt on before you put the helmet on. LOL!

We all mingled and tried to get over our nerves. Next thing you know, it was 7:45 and time to head inside for a speech and to get lined up. At this point you have to take your shoes off, which is why I wore flip flops. You walk across the parking lot barefoot. If you’re squeamish about walking barefoot, this isn’t for you.

Inside, they explained to us what would happen during our race today, and how it would differ from the real race. First and foremost, the pool is split in half with a platform in the middle. They had people in even bike group numbers swim on the more shallow end, odd bike group numbers on the deeper end. I could see the faces of some of our south side sisters go pale, because they had yet to swim in 17 ft. On race day, we will be split up by swim ability, from 1-10. 10 is Missy Franklin, 1 is beginner/slow.

The second difference was, after the swim we were going to wait for everyone in our bike group. Once everyone was there, we would head out with 2 mentors, one in front and one to sweep. On race day, it’s every woman for herself.

They asked us if there were any questions and there were a few. After that, they sent us around to the other side of the pool to meet up with our groups. I was in group 6 with my friend/training buddy Rachelle. The rest of the girls were from the south side. We determined within our group that we’d have the faster swimmers go first, so that we weren’t swimming up on each other.

By is time, it’s crazy noisy. We were allowed to have friends and family come as spectators. Then all our mentors were there to cheer us on with pinker cowbells. We started walking across the platform and the ladies from the first few groups were already in the pool. We got to the other side and I looked up and saw HH and CH in the stands.

Just like race day, ladies were getting into the pool every 5 seconds. Before I knew it, it was my turn! Rachelle went before me and then I sat on the edge. You can sit and then slide in, or you can jump straight down, but you cannot dive forward into the pool. Mentor Lori was counting down for both sides of the pool. I heard her say “5…4…3…2…1!” I slid in and pushed off the wall…then floated up and turned onto my back.

And that, ladies and gents, was the only good push off I had. LOL!

Race day atmosphere is NO JOKE! You have this cacophony of cheers, cowbells, instructions, your own breathing, water splashing…I know I was straight functioning on adrenaline and forgot half my training. I can tell by looking at HH’s video that I wasn’t bringing my arms up into the full “Y” I use for elementary back stroke. I was just trying to get those laps DONE!

I got to the first wall and was breathing so hard that I didn’t take a big enough breath for my push off so I had to come up early. I started trying to take bigger strokes, I was worried about being in the way of freestyle swimmers coming behind me.

Some time during like the fourth or fifth lap, I ran my big head into Rachelle’s foot and she kicked me (lightly) in the head in the midst of her stroke. Then someone was free styling up the lane to my left and it was a 10 second moment of confusion with water splashing into my face. I grabbed the rope momentarily, but then let go and was able to continue on. I think that’s one of the times HH had the camera moving around, so it’s not on tape.

Round about lap 6 I had this random string of delirious thoughts: “I am tired as hell…why did I sign up for is again..omg I have to bike and run after this…I ain’t gon’ make it…save your legs, stop kicking so much…what lap is this?”

When I got to the last lap I was so ready to be out of that pool. I forgot all about water depth, being scared of the water…I just wanted out. I happened to line myself up to where I ended right at the ladder. I flipped over, and climbed out of that pool in a hurry! I heard somebody yelling about getting out of the pool and I complied. LOL!

I was so out of it, I didn’t realize HH had come down to the edge of the pool and was taping me. I got out and started jogging to the exit, high-fiving a few mentors on the way. I actually jogged all the way to my bike. Luckily there were not a lot of rocks/pebbles in the parking lot.

I sat down on my bucket and rinsed my feet off with bottled water. The I put my socks and shoes on, opened my Hammer Gel and started eating that, while trying to simultaneously put my knee brace on. Then my shirt, gloves, and helmet. I swigged some water and then grabbed my bike and started jogging over to my bike group. Halfway there I realized I forgot my sunglasses. D’oh! I jogged back and got them. I will not do that on race day.

Our last swimmer was a little bit slower, so we waited a few minutes for her and then we were able to take off. HH and CH were outside by then and on the corner across the street. I heard him yelling for me as we rode down the hill. At the bottom we had to make a left turn onto Statesville Road, and the mentors had thankfully stopped traffic for us.

Statesville is a long, gradual hill. I like to just beast it, work through my gears and get up to the flat part. We got stuck behind a slower group and I was inwardly groaning. Then one of the athletes ahead of me asked our mentor if we could go ahead and pass. She gave us the green light. After checking for traffic, we moved out and passed their group. Freedom!

Right turn onto Hambright – a long, fairy flat road. A few small inclines, but nothing major. We turned and one of the groups had stopped. I looked back and realized we didn’t have 2 of our people and our sweep mentor. We stopped for about 30 seconds and they caught up so we moved out. We didn’t stop too many more times after that. The ride felt like a breeze as I had already ridden this route so many times in practice. I enjoyed the breeze drying out my locs, and there wasn’t too much traffic.

The last hill on the route brings us back to where we started. It’s not long, but it’s pretty steep. I tried to ride it sitting down the first time, and had to go all the way down to 1st gear…aka “granny gear.” basically you’re pedaling like a mad woman, and your bike is slowly inching up the hill. Uh, NO. I learned after that to stand up on the bike and pedal. Not to mention, all the dang spectators are standing in this area. No time to punk out. LOL!

I got about 1/3 of the way up and stood up to get up the hill. I had it in gear 2, but I think during the race I’ll leave it in 3 as I didn’t have enough resistance. We got up to the top and had to dismount at the front of the parking lot, then walk/jog our bikes back to transition. I walked, but on race day I’ll probably jog. Also, there will probably be 1,000 athletes on race day, so I’ll really have to remember where my transition station is.

I was feeling pretty good when I racked the bike. I took another Shot Blok and determined I will NOT be using those on race day. It’s like putting a whole bag of gummy bears in your mouth. I have issues with the texture. I’d rather have Gu or Hammer Gel. I should’ve taken more time to stretch my calves. I had more water and then walked towards the start of the run. I saw mentor RJ and she said, “walking? Girl, start running!” so I did. LOL!

I am going to get a run-walk-run timer for race day (we can’t take phones/music on the route) but for the time being I used my phone. I set the intervals for 5/2. Ambitious, much? LOL! I started running and it was relatively flat for the first 1/8th and then there were various small inclines and declines. I was grateful for the first walk break. I did grab water near the corner where HH was standing and then ran through. I high-fived my fellow athletes and we encouraged each other. When the phone indicated I had already run a mile, I knew it was just downhill from there.

My locs were swaying back and forth and the race belt kept riding up, but I knew I was almost done. I came out of the trail from the woods and all I had to do was cross the road! The finish line was in the parking lot! Mentors were cheering and high-fiving us near the finish line. I can see how people just start crying. It’s such an emotional release to finish and realize YOU JUST DID A TRIATHLON.

I didn’t cry yesterday, but I probably will on 9/23. It was so nice to hug all my fellow athletes and congratulate each other. We took pictures together and I ended up staying until the last woman crossed the line.

To say I’m psyched for the real race would be an understatement. I know what I’m going to work on for the next four weeks – the swim and the running. After this, I will be on a loooooooong hiatus from running; possibly permanent.

I’m so happy that I challenged myself to do this. I’ve met a great group of women, both athletes and mentors, and I really hope we keep in touch after this is over. I’m also going to see about being a junior mentor next year.




Old Friends

I was thinking last night about how friendships evolve. Sometimes they wane and fade off into the night. Others get stronger. Others change because your life/interests change. That’s just the way it goes.

When I moved here in 1999, I knew 2 people. They were both co-workers who I worked with in NY and they both had transferred here. Well, let me back up. Before I left, people at church were giving me the names and numbers of all their relatives. So, I knew of people here, but some I hadn’t talked to in years. This was well before Facebook. So for all intents and purposes, I knew – and was in touch with – 2 people. LOL!

So, I moved here, and my life became a routine of going to work and being at home. Then my old choir director moved here and started singing with John P. Kee’s choir, and invited me to come to that church. I got there and ran into someone I met in college at the INROADS Summer Venture in Management Program. It really is a small world.

I began to get to know people at work, and hang with them outside of work. Through that set of people, I met more folks. Eventually, I had a nice little social network, and my sister stopped calling me every Friday to make sure I was “ok and still alive.” LOL!

I eventually left that first job, and ended up at another company where I met a lot of cool people. Several of which I am still in touch with, even if it’s just occasional communication. That group saw me off on my big adventure to ATL…which only lasted 2 years. But I noticed the same thing in ATL: I met friends at work and then my network branched out from there.

The drawback to that is, when you stop working with them, you tend to lose most of those connections. When I was in ATL, single and stepchildless, I had friends who I could call on a moments notice and be like, “let’s hit Olive’s/Golden Glide/pig out on food somewhere” and we would just go. Everyone I worked with was my age or younger, for the most part. I really had a ball.

When I got back here, we stayed in touch for a little while, but then I noticed I was doing most of the reaching out. I got tired of that, so I stopped. I fell back in with my old friends here, and added some new faces to the crowd. But, things had changed. The carefree, single folks were now in relationships. Folks who were already married were deep into child-rearing and their lives revolved around their kids. The dynamics changed. We still hung out occasionally, but it was just different. Not better or worse, just different.

It feels like we’re going through another shift again. Some of them have kids old enough for high school and college. Some are newly married. Some have young children. I’m about to get married myself, and now have a 15 year old step son. Conversations revolve around the best schools, parenting tips, etc.

At my last job, there was a group of women that I enjoyed hanging out with. We used to have “girls’ night in.” I loved it because it was that new set of women, plus some of my friends I knew from before. Since I’ve left, and they’ve been laid off, we haven’t kept in touch that much. I always seemed to be the one to host the night, and if I don’t initiate, it doesn’t happen. Oh well.

Sometimes I miss the good ol’ days. I really had some fun when I first got here. Every now and then I miss the old friends and the times we had. It’s good to reminisce.

At 37, I’ve gotten a little better at rolling with the punches. Lord knows I’ve been through enough moves and job changes that I really don’t have a choice! It’s just nice to sit back and think about how life has changed since I left home at 24.

I hope everyone I’ve met realizes they’ve had an impact on my life in one way or another. Even if we don’t speak anymore, I appreciate whatever lessons they shared with me.

Moving Right Along

Hey peeps!

My sprint tri is in 4 weeks, folks. 4 weeks! This Sunday, we will do a mock tri. It won’t be timed, but it’s there to help us see where we are, so we can spend the last four training weeks tweaking whatever needs to be tweaked. I’ve been able to swim my 250 yards on my back. At this point, it’s just about working on endurance, and maybe working on regular freestyle. We shall see.

CH is settling in nicely. I know he’s bored to tears right now, but school starts in a week. Not to mention, we’re moving at the end of September, so he’ll have plenty to do as far as helping us pack and clean. I don’t think I mentioned it on here before, but the high school we’re zoned for pretty much sucks. I’ve been jokingly calling it Fair Eastside. We’re incurring the moving expense and even longer work commutes so that his education won’t suffer.

So, yeah…I’ve added ANOTHER thing to my plate. Sigh.

Speaking of school, CH’s bus is coming to get him at 6:24am. Yikes! He claims he’s a morning person, but I remember being in NY and HH having to wake him 2-3 times and get him going in the morning. I’ve made it clear that I am not going to be chasing him around in the mornings about getting up for school. When I was in school, my mom worked nights and my dad would be asleep in the mornings. I woke myself up, got dressed, ate breakfast or purchased at school, and kept it moving. His school is not really on my work commute, so I need him to be on point. The Altima is not a school bus substitute.



If you follow me on twitter, you know that on the 12th we celebrated my granny’s 100th birthday! She is still sharp as a tack, just can’t see well due to cataracts. Her sarcasm and comedy buttons still work well. She is a character, peeps! I kind of wish she could see better, so she could see how much my brother favors my dad.




We had a great time, and I met some cousins that I hadn’t met before. I’m hoping we can organize a family reunion at some point, and I also want to work on the family tree on that side.

What’s new with y’all?

Coming Along Swimmingly

Hey friends! Sorry for being AWOL. You know how it is…and if you’ve read the previous blogs. You know I’ve got a lot on my plate.

Today marks the start of week 6 of my triathlon training with Tri It For Life. I’ve been doing great with the biking and running. Despite only having 7 gears on my hybrid bike, as opposed to the 21 gears on a road bike, I’ve been able to ride with the faster group on bike rides. Can I keep up with them stride for stride? No. LOL! That’s always going to be true when it comes to road bike vs. hybrid. Everything is harder for me, especially the hills. But I do what I can.

Now I see why they tried to talk me into a road bike…and now I want one. LOL! I looked at a sweet blue and white one at Trek, but that thing was $1,200! Layaway or no Layaway, HH would lose his mind if I came home with a road bike. I might get one in 2013, though.

Isn’t it pretty? LOL! (photo courtesy of Trek Bikes dot com)

As far as the running, it’s hard to squash that former competitive athlete that lives inside of me. She wants to come out and blaze, but my body is not equipped. At this point, I get 2 days of running in. On Tuesdays, we go to the greenway and go out 20 minutes and come back 20 minutes. For me, that works out to about 3.2 miles. On Saturdays, we complete our bricks, which focus on moving from a bike ride into a run immediately after. During both of these runs I am doing 2/1 intervals, so I am going to do 2/1 intervals for the race. My poor knee really can’t handle much else right now.

Last but not least, there’s my former nemesis: swimming. I say former because I feel like I have a much better handle on the situation than I did 8 weeks ago. Most of that reassurance came today, thanks to four great mentors.

On my way to the pool, I felt super nervous. It’s week 6 – I still can’t do the 1-2-3 breathe drills, haven’t mastered alternate breathing…feeling like time was running out. It was like a feeling of nervousness mixed with dread.

Every week when we get to the pool, we have a workout card at the side of the pool which lists what we should do for each week. There is a separate workout for beginners, intermediate, and advanced swimmers.

I finished my 100 yards with the kick board and then one of the mentors jumped in with me (I cannot remember her name or the life of me, lol). She asked me if I could tread water, and I told her I could not. So that was the first thing we worked on. I think I have a reasonable hold on that. She wanted to move me into the 1-2-3 breathe exercises, but I told her I was not really comfortable with that. At that point, she asked our lead mentor, Heidi, what we should do next.

Let me back up and explain about our drills and training. Every week we’re working on everything: kicking with the board, catch up drills, 1-2-3 breathe, elementary back stroke. And swimming on your side. It’s a lot! I would say that I felt like a jack of all trades, and a master of none, but I wasn’t even a jack. LOL! The only thing I could do with relative ease is swim on my back in an elementary T-stroke.

Back to today – so Heidi asks me if I can swim on my back, and I tell her yes. She asks me to demonstrate, so I go about 10 yards and come back. Then she told me what I needed to hear. Listen, it’s week 6. If you want to still focus on learning freestyle you can. Or would you rather work on one stroke and focus on your endurance?

Endurance, please! So she told me to work on trying to swim all 10 lengths (short course) on my back without stopping. That’s the race distance. We broke off from the beginners group and went to another lane where we could be by ourselves.

The first thing I learned was how to push off from the wall under water. It saves you so many swim strokes. If you can get 5 yards from the wall each time you push off, you save yourself 50 yards of swimming. Winning! I still have practice to do with my pushing off, but I was able to push off, float to the top, then flip to my back and do 5 laps in a row without stopping. That’s half my race distance. That’s the first time I’ve done that distance without stopping! And my mentor in the water swam beside me the whole way. I also learned where to look on the ceiling so that I’ll know when I’m close to the wall. Now I just have to learn to use the power of my arms to pull me through, so I won’t have to kick as much.

At the end of out two hour session, they taught us how to change lanes. In the race, the pool will be sectioned off into 10 lanes on each side, with a platform in the middle. The lanes will be set up short course – they will go across the pool 25 yards, instead of the Olympic length of 50 meters down the pool. Basically, you’re swimming east-west across the pool, instead of north-south like the Olympic swimmers.

We will swim 25 yards in one lane, and then we have to switch lanes. We’ll go east to west for one lap, then west to east for the 2nd lap, etc. The same push off I had learned earlier in the day, I had to learn to do under the rope and into the next lane. I didn’t do too bad. My problem is breathing out of my nose under water. I’m not very good at it. But hey – I have 6 more weeks to practice, right?

After our session was over, myself and another athlete stayed and talked with two other mentors, Erica and Lori. They are both excellent swimmers. Erica is an instructor and she gives lessons. I think I will sign up with her when this is over. I want to learn freestyle, but not when I’m under a time crunch. They both gave us some excellent pointers. I may even be able to move from an elementary T-stroke to a regular backstroke.

One thing about my backstroke is that the water tends to come over my forehead and into my face a lot. Sometimes it gets into my nose, but I’ve learned not to panic and to just float where I am and cough it out. Erica told me I’ve got my head too far back and I’m probably bringing my hands out of the water when I backstroke. I’m going to focus on those things at tomorrow’s session. I just feel so much better now that I have a PLAN! I will focus on pushing off from the wall, keeping my head at a neutral level, keeping my arms in the water, and working on getting to 10 laps without stopping.

I got this! 🙂

The countdown to race day (September 23rd) is looking a little less bleak.