Tag Archives: Jill

All smiles at the podium!

There is a pattern to this fitness madness.   It goes something like this:

  1. Sign up for an event that you are not ready for
  2. Start training for that event way too late
  3. Taper for the event way too early
  4. Carb load when it is not really necessary
  5. Hope that you won’t be the last person crossing the finish line
  6. Throw your biorhythms completely off by getting up at 4am on event day
  7. Setup your transition area with extra food – as if you may be out for the ‘day plan’
  8. Scope the other athletes, and realize no one has an ounce of body fat
  9. Hide your extra food under a towel – as apparently you are the only person obsessed with nourishment
  10. Miss the mandatory race instructions – identifying route changes – cuz you were in the bathroom
  11. And make one more trip to the bathroom with 3 minutes to spare before the event starts

sendoffThere you have it, the Wadsworth Sista-hood each poised on “race” day for our respective Olympic distance events at Fort Richie – located in Cascade, MD.   Sista Jill – would be taking on the Triathlon – which consisted of a 1.5K swim + 40K bike + 10K run, and I would attempt the Duathlon, consisting of a 5K run + 40K bike + 10K run.   We proceeded to get body marked – where your bib number appears on one leg – and your age on the other.  The rationale for broadcasting your private information (age) to a bunch of athletes you’ve never met — is to identify those in your age category – and turn them into your competitors.  Or something like that.

wetsuitjillIn an unusually cool mid-summer morning with the air temperatures ranging from the 60s to low 70s – the water temperature registered at 73 degrees.   Anything below 78 degrees,  makes the swim leg of the triathlon ‘wet suit legal’.  This immediately put Jill in her ‘happy place’.   Wet suit = extra buoyancy = float higher in the water.   It also means that when you look out on the swim course and wonder why they allowed a motor boat to be on the same course with the swimmers, well, that’s no motorboat!   Meet Jill.   More on that in a moment.

The duathlon event started 25 minutes before the TRI.   This gives Jill more time to spend with her pre-race jitters, and gives me a head start on the ‘day plan’.  I lined up with my peeps.  The start whistle blows and the runners sprinted!   I thought this leg was a 5K – and not a 100 yard dash?!   I fought the temptation to sprint (as if I could!) with them, and opted to stay at my pace – slow n steady.   Within the first mile, I had passed a few older men and even a handful of women, but the bulk of the runners were long gone.   And then there was #51…a women.  Someone in my age category.   Someone I did not know.  I scoped her from behind.   I needed to pass her.  I did.   Now I needed to stay ahead of her.  And, suddenly my event that started as the ‘day plan’ turned into an all out competition with some women I’ve never met.

By the time I finished the first run leg – Jill was beginning her swim.  Without a wet suit, Jill swims like a fish with a motor….but WITH a wet suit – she is practically airborne!  The swim course is actually a funky swim-run on land for a tad-swim course.   Basically, the swim course is designed for the shorter Sprint version – so as the sprint swimmers were exiting the lake, the Olympic distance swimmers had to exit too…and then run across the Fort Richie lakefront to the nearest dock…and dive back in again for their second lap.   From the transition area, I thought I heard waves crashing on the shoreline – only to discover later that swim-motor-Jill was burning up the swim course.   She swam the entire distance in an amazing 34 minutes.   I don’t think she even came up for air.

With the 1st leg of the run now over, I managed to have a fast transition onto the bike – and made sure to pack some food and electrolyte jelly beans in my waist pack.   You never know when you’ll get hungry!   I haven’t seen my nemesis #51 – so I wasted no time climbing the first hill away from Fort Richie.

The bike course goes something like this:

  1. Climb this insane hill the moment you exit the Fort
  2. La de da thru a lovely flat wooded section
  3. Notice a big hill ahead of you…and wish you weren’t already in your granny gear
  4. Get to the main road with wide shoulders and descend for miles
  5. Realize that you have to go BACK the way you came…so better enjoy the descent!
  6. Weave off to a 10 mile country farm ride with rolling hills and bumpy roads
  7. Talk to the cows….

And WHAM….#51 BLOWS by me during the rolling hill descent.   I’m no match for her on the downhill – so opt to just keep the girl in my sight.  I’ve started strategizing on catching her on the uphill.   So much for the day plan.

As I return from the 10 mile farm loop toward the main road – I see Jill just beginning this loop and keeping pace with all of the zero-body fat male athletes with the $10,000 bike wheels.   “You go girl” we yell to each other, and I watch momentarily with awe as she keeps up with the boyz at her 100 rpm Tour-de-France cadence.

With Jill outta sight, it’s time to refocus onto #51, who is now within passing distance.   I wait until we reach another climb, in the hopes that she won’t be able to stay with me…and make my pass.  Now I have to stay ahead of her (not sure why?  but I do!) for the 8 mile ascent and return back to the Fort.

Here is what occurs during that final 8 mile ascent into the Catoctin Mountains on the bike course:

  1. You try to stay 1-2 gears above granny – just in case you need her
  2. Pace slows to 8mph
  3. Male athletes with fancy bike wheels pass you as if you were standing still
  4. You get to see all roadkill up front and personal
  5. The ‘day plan’ returns
  6. You try to eat something…but it won’t go down and stays in your cheeks as mush

Back to the transition area, I rack my bike and begin the final leg of the event — the 10K run.  The legs are a bit mushy at first, but within 100 yards – light feet return.   The first mile + of the run is uphill, so I’m breathing heavier than I would like.  No sign of #51 yet, so I have to sustain this pace.  For the final 10K run, we have to do 2 laps on the same course.   This means, as you NEAR the finish line after your first lap…don’t think about it – and turn the other way.   You have another lap to do.  It’s all mental at this point.   Jill had shared with me 4 jelly bean electrolytes – and I had eaten 3 of them during my first lap.   Was holding on to #4 for lap 2.  Turns out that wasn’t the best strategy – as the jelly bean morphed with sweat in my palm – and turned into a sticky mess.   Live n learn!

Still no sign of #51 (i.e. she hasn’t passed me) – so I amped up the pace of the last mile for added assurance – and was happy beyond belief that I had finished before the day was over!    Moments later – I watched Jill finish her first run lap – and begin lap #2.   I’ve never seen Jill with such giddy-up in her run!   She was even smiling and talking – and if you have ever run with Jill before – that is rare!   The run has been her least favorite event — but it seems like for today — she has made friends and peace!   30 minutes later — Jill sprints across the finish line – beating her prior PB in an Olympic Tri!

podiumjanepodiumjill01All the pre-race anxiety was long gone – and there were smiles everywhere.   I met my nemesis #51 – a lovely lady – and we vowed to look for each other in the next event.  As for an added bonus – Jill and I each earned a spot on the podium for our efforts!!   And earned the right to eat whatever we wanted (within limits!) for the rest of the day.


Every little thing, is gonna be alright

Celebrating the Iron Girl TRI Journey

Columbia, MD
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Somewhere mid-way through endless hours of swimming, freestyling, studying technique, breathing efficiently, bicycling, hill repeats, interval training, running…fast running….and just thinking that we are running fast….for one very long week in early July….time stopped.  Training stopped.  Perspectives changed…and not a whole lot about anything that we once thought “mattered”….mattered any longer.
When the Emergency Room physician first discovered the large mass in TriSista Jill’s lungs — there was name dropping.  The “C” word.  It was a game changer….and suddenly we were all an even tighter knit group of friends-and-family.   There was a lot of Google medical research done by not-so-medical-family-members….text messages averaged 100 per day….and we looked for a sign…any sign…of hope.  We hoped someone in our network might include some kick-ass doctor at Hopkins.   We hoped for a new reality.   And suddenly, 3 little birds appeared.
The first sign occurred while stimulating the economy at Starbucks.     As I waited to be served an extra-dosage latta-soy-latte….the hub of the coffee grinders and cash registers hushed….and the chorus line of Bob Marley’s tune….repeated over and over.  Who listens to the music at Starbucks – when you are in a rush for caffeine?  Yet, some force….beyond logic…was begging me to pay attention.   This was a message for our TriSista Jill….and in a strange surreal twist, that turns logical thinkers into head-scratchers – the message was clear.  “Every little thing is gonna be all right”.
For the next 3 days, the scene repeated itself at Starbucks.  Each day….the same Bob Marley tune was playing.   How is that possible?  And sure enough, with the power of all of the TriSista’s, friends-n-family positive thoughts….OK – AND with the help of some kick-ass doctor at Hopkins….Jill’s diagnosis changed from the “C” word….to something akin to a medical turd caused by too much open water swimming near chicken farms on the Gunpowder River.
In case you are getting bleary-eyed, and wondering if this year’s Iron Girl Columbia TRI Blog is a bit of a ‘tear jerker’….don’t you worry.    With a new lease on life, TriSista Jill was not about to let the rest of us off the hook.   Oh no.  That week off of training….the luxury of sleeping in until 6AM….those days were over.
Thanks to Patty (who we recently discovered is the state champion for dead-lifting farm equipment in Maryland), a new watering hole was discovered.  Located west of Frederick, was a clean lake, shallow (uber important – jus sayn;-), with live fish, under-water-visibility – and no floating bird feathers or duck poo.  This became our open water swim training grounds.   Every weekend, we car-pooled (no pun intended 😉 an hour-plus drive….to wait another hour plus to get into the popular crowded park….to swim 30 plus minutes….inhale food an hour plus at the Myersville diner….and add another hour plus drive to return home.   Never once did we question the logic of this training routine.   We’re triSistas….this is what we do.

South of the border (North Carolina)….TriSistas Holly and Shelby had ramped up their training program to new heights.  By Golly Ms. Holly could be seen puttin’ on the ritz (code for “makeup”) both before and after training bricks.   Apparently Holly has designed a special “speed cream”, that you work up into a lather, plaster it onto any slow moving body parts – and instantly – you move “slick”.  She did not share her speed cream with the rest of us, but we will be watching her closely from now on.

Shelby had gotten herself an iPod.   She discovered that if you crank up the volume on your iPod, you no longer hear your body complaining about pain.   Let’s just say that Shelby got a little too carried away with the volume control.  When her foot finally broke with a stress fracture….during the final leg of her first ‘southern belle’ triathlon, she didn’t hear it coming.   Shelby screamed for help – and two volunteers rushed to her rescue.  Rushing, in an elderly sort of way.  The first volunteer – was in his early 90’s….and the second was closer to 100.  Never underestimate a senior man over the age of 90 who volunteers for an all-women’s triathlon.  They know exactly what they are doing.  5-6 hours later (who’s counting?), they took turns holding Shelby’s hand.  While icing her foot may have been more effective, clearly the situation was a cluster, and Shelby’s IG debut was put on temporary pause.
In the mid-Atlantic, summer temperatures reach record highs.   The norm, is 100 degrees, with a heat index well into the 120’s.   Outdoor pools baked in the extreme heat, and morphed into large saunas filled with too many humans.   Every morning, at OH-DARK-thirty – we dragged ourselves out of bed (because Jill insisted – jus sayn 😉….and pushed ourselves to swim…bike and run.   With Jill’s lung turd keeping her oxygen capacity down to the 60% level….this just meant that she needed to take moments here-n-there….to hack up a hairball…and catch her breath.  All I can say, is when her TT starts (code for “Turd Treatment”), and Jill’s lungs are back to 100%….I’m gonna need to borrow Holly’s speed cream.  While Tami and I didn’t have the “lung capacity issue”, we were more than happy that our training regimen included all of Jill’s breath catching breaks.
By 0400 Sunday August 21….the TriSista slumber party had come to a end.   Chuck was brewing multiple pots of coffee for the slumber-girls and getting the latest internet weather reports.  Jill, had apparently taken my queue from our last IronGirl event in Atlanta…and slept the night in her TRI clothing.  It’s very efficient.  Outta bed…and ready to go.  Jane consumed a protein drink and a large bottle of crystal light….while working on juju for a rain-thunder-lightening dance that could nix the swim. Tami changed from jammies to TRI skins in the hallway, and ate exactly 1 teaspoon of peanut butter and 3 crumbs of bread.  She then managed to lose her bike number…assigned swim cap….and timing chip.  The rest of us went into a frenzy trying to locate all of Tami’s gear.  Shelby was busy tending to her foot cast, and lamented how much she would miss not being able to swim in .62 miles of pond scum.  Laura, our sign artist, without even a sip of caffeine…designed 2 picassa posters in support of the TriSistas.  ByGolly MsHolly had no time for breakfast. With a flick of the wrist, a bat of the eye, and a flick of the hair….it was makeup time – and out came the speed cream lather.
By 5:30AM…we were bustling in the dark transition area….and proceeded to get “mechanical” with our bikes.  Getting “mechanical” goes something like this:   “How much air should I put in my tires”…..”I dunno…what does it say on the tire”…..”I can’t read it in the dark”……”You wanna guess?”…..”How does 90 sound to you?”…..”Sounds good to me”….”let’s give it a go”…..”How do I know when I’ve put in 90 pounds”….”Does anyone have a tire pump”….and on an on.    You’d have to agree….this is some world class bike “mechanic-ing”!
Just moments before the 7AM triathlon start….we were greeted with the most delightful popup thunder and lightening storm….with buckets of rain.  Granted, not everyone was ecstatic to see the weather situation unfold….but I held out one last bit of hope that the swim portion of the TRI would get cancelled.  No such luck.   With a 15 minute rain delay….our swim waves were called to the water.
Holly’s wave first….and she glides through the water….makeup intact…swimming like a fish….with speed cream.   Jill, Tami and I are next.  Jill is our designated swim angel…and Tami and I put up a pout each step further away from shore.   The role of a swim angel, is to keep your sinking ass from drowning, point out obstacles (i.e. other women who swim worse than you) and keep you on course (i.e. away from the shoreline snapping turtles and snakes) and close to the buoys.   The role of Tami and I….is to stay as far away as possible from all swim obstacles….even if that means swimming an extra mile or 2.   Swim conversations would go like this:
Swim Angel Jill:   “Come this way (substitute name here — Sissy or Tami)….closer to the buoys”
Jane (Sissy):   “ok”…..and continue on a course away from the buoys….toward land
Tami:   after 3 or 4 freestyle strokes…..”we’re fine”….and back to head in the water….with no course correction
Despite our obstinate behavior….our swim angel brilliantly guided us to the swim course finish line.  The 3 of us were beaming from ear-2-ear….as if we had completed the entire event.  We still had the bike…and run….and none of us were wearing Holly’s speed cream!   We had some work to do.
Our plan…was to finish – together.  Jill and Jane would take down the bike course….and Tami would catch us all on the run.   Team J&J work the bike course like this:    Jane races up the hill on “Black Beauty” (yes, I name my bikes)….and passes 25 women…..and Jill flies down the next hill passing 25 more women.   This tag-team effort hurts some feelings…especially those women in the younger age categories…and they eventually wear out trying to chase us down.  OK OK….maybe this is not very “nice”….but hey Ms. By Golly had all the speed cream!   We had to do “something”!
Off the bike course….into the transition area…for a quick change into running shoes.  Jill’s lung turd…reared it’s ugly head…and insisted that Jill slow it down…and get oxygen. It was a moment to reflect.  6 weeks ago…the diagnosis could have been much worse.  How incredibly amazing — just to be participating….and soon to be finishing –  the Iron Girl TRI.

All of the triSistas finished their Iron Girl journey – and it was big smiles at the finish line.  This year’s “record buster” award goes to ByGolly MsHolly — who set a personal best record – beating her prior PR by 25 minutes.   That is no easy feat – tho maybe you could share with us some of your speed cream next time?….jus sayn 😉

Setting goals….overcoming obstacles…picking up the pieces…pushing to get fit ….achieving…. believing…. inspiring…. and knowing – that “Every little thing..is gonna be all right“.   Congratulations to all the TriSista’s – to their amazing stories and journeys.
L–>R   Holly, Patty, Tami, Jane, Jill
Special thanks….
Bro Chuck…for putting up with all of us during IG slumber weekend….making coffee…chasing us around on event day….and for all of the fabulous pictures!
Chuck & Jill – for hosting the slumber party & Afta Party
Paddy….for enduring my crazy swim obsession over the past year!
Laura…for being great support to all of us, holding your mom’s makeup bag, signage….and joining the TRIsista hood next yea
Linda & Rick – for joining the TriSista’s & TriMista’s this year…getting up early and chasing us around on the IG course – you guys rock!
Shelby – volunteering at the finish line….and waiting patiently for her turn….it will come!
The ‘Hood…
TriSista’s:   Jill, Jane, Tami, Holly, Shelby, Patty, Eliott, Trisha, Deb, Melody, Kim, Maria, Julie, Linda, Minh, Emma, Lamie
TriMista’s:  Chuck, Paddy, Rick, Owen, Trung, Bi