Turn my hair PINK and PURPLE for my 70.3 Triathlon

Working towards taking items off a bucket list is a pretty awesome feeling.  Being able to cross item #1 off that list is even better.

On October 26th, that’s this coming Sunday, I am going to compete in the Miami Half Ironman 70.3 race.  This is 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of cycling and then a half marathon.  In total 70.3 miles.  I’ve been training hard for about four months now.  Getting up when it is still dark in the morning to swim, bike and run my to work each day to hopefully make it to the office by 9am.  My weeks have consisted of anywhere from 10 to 20 hours of exercise.  I’ve lost weight, purchased a fancy bike, eaten gobs of food and [luckily] managed to avoid major injury.  The worst part, Florida’s summer sun and time away from my family.

With the race so close though, some friends have asked me if I’m racing to support any charities.  Until yesterday, I had not set anything up but…..that was yesterday.

In the past, I have done an occasional race in support of the RSDSA in memory of my sister, Rachel.  The problem with this is that this charity is more a memory of Rachel’s death rather than her life.  In life my sister was interested in three things: helping people, helping animals and doing things with glitter glue.  (I’m sure there was something else but those three are pretty encapsulating.)

Specifically, I remember my sister in her younger years collecting wildlife card files, books she would fill with information about wild and endangered animals.  In her ‘later’ years she and I spent a lot of time working with what was then called the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). The mission was to stop racism and hatred of all types.  Unfortunately, NCCJ has not survived the test of time but the Miami Chapter lives on as the MCCJ.  Most important to the sparkling memory of Rachel’s life was her constant obsession of decorating everything with glitter glue.

For each of the first two items, I’ve decided to create fund-raising pages with The MCCJ and The Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN). Their connection to my sister should be obvious to all who knew her.  To memorialize the glitter glue is a bit more difficult so instead of donating do the American Association of Glitter Glue Enthusiasts (gosh, I hope that’s not a real organization) I will instead place one centimeter of glitter glue on my helmet for each $50 donated to the above charities.  And to make sure it is clear I’m memorializing my sister, I’ll use purple glitter glue for donations to MCCJ and pink for donations to WCN.  (If you’re curious, the helmet is black.)

There is one other item about my sister that is relevant.  This Friday, October 24th, would have been her 30th birthday.  So, with only a few days to go we’ll set the fund-raising target at $3,000.  It’s a stretch, I know, but as an incentive if $1,500 or more is raised for MCCJ, I’ll dye my hair purple.  If $1,500 or more is raised for WCN, I’ll die my  hair pink.  If we meet both goals, I’ll be running the triathlon as the Miami Beach version of the villain Two-Face from the Batman comics.

The race is THIS Sunday, October 26th.  I’m not going to do this again.  Click the fund-raising links (MCCJ | WCN), share this post on facebook, and help give my race outfit some serious style points!

KIMG0046 187x250 Turn my hair PINK and PURPLE for my 70.3 Triathlon
Rachel as a bunny!

That time I finished a race in first place…and didn’t realize it!

Checking items off a bucket list is always a lot of fun.  Checking an item off and not even realizing can be even more rewarding.

In early 2013 I challenged a couple of friends to walk with me from Washington, DC all the way to Harper’s Ferry, WV.  We did it, unfortunately that item wasn’t on our bucket list.  Several months later, one of those friends challenged the group to another silly idea, competing in a really long triathlon.

We all took the bait.

This past August, six friends and a pair of one year old twins descended on Penn Yan, New York for the Peasantman Triathlon.  The friend who challenged the group to the event was planning on competing in the Steel Distance Triathlon, effectively a half iron man.  His girlfriend and I signed up for the Olympic Steel Triathlon, while Jillian and the other pair of athletes took care of the Half Steel Relay.  We focused on keeping the race low-key and fun.

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We all finished our triathlons, some of us in first place.

Fast forward to the end of the race… when the two of us who ran the Olympic distance triathlon got the surprise of our athletic careers…we were first place in our respective divisions.  Despite coming in the bottom half of the overall race field, we cleared the first place position in our divisions and, that means item #46 on the bucket list has been achieved.  I came in first place in a race, it doesn’t matter that I was the only one in my division, my certificate says 1st and so… item #46 has been officially checked off the list!

KIMG0012 250x187 That time I finished a race in first place...and didnt realize it!
Just don’t ask how many people I had to leave in my dust….

The only problem is that in training for that Olympic distance triathlon (which I WON!), I somehow managed to sign up for a half Ironman race, something I like to call the “Aluminium Man”.  The reason I signed up is that completing the aluminium man (70.3 miles total) happens to have been the first item on the bucket list.  Wonder if I’ll come in first again….

I just ran a triathlon

It may have been a short triathlon, taking place in North Miami Beach, but it was the maximum length allowed to be called a sprint and it was a good stepping stone for me in trying out this new sport. The race was the 25.75 North Miami Triathlon and it felt great to get out there and even better to finish!

First.  What is a Triathlon?

A triathlon is three sports; swimming, cycling and running.  The three sports are always in that order, it’s pretty logical when you think about it.  In this race, the swim was 750 (.46mi) beautiful meters of open water swimming in Miami’s Biscayne Bay followed by a 20k (12.4mi) bike ride and a 5k (3.1mi) run.  My job was very simply to do those three events, in that order, as quickly as possible.

 miamitriathlon I just ran a triathlon

But Wait, What about those Adventure Races you used to run?

So yes, the adventure races are far more involved, take a lot longer, and involve lots of alligators.  This was NOT that.  My best hope for wildlife was a manatee or two but we didn’t see any of those.  Last year Jill did an Xterra Triathlon in the same waters and other swimmers did report a manatee in the water, but I digress. In an adventure race, the racer uses a map and compass to navigate the wilderness, sometimes on bike and sometimes on foot or in a boat, in whatever direction he or she chooses.  I view adventure races as a more difficult undertaking than a triathlon, simply because of how long it lasts and the mental anguish of poor decision making.  But, the events are very different and require a different type of fitness and mental fortitude.  An adventure race can last for 6 hours to 6 days, this triathlon took me just over 90 minutes while the longest available – the Iron Man – will take the winner just over 8 hours.  Because it is shorter, the triathlon requires a different sort of athleticism and a lot more hustle and no real opportunity to sit down and breathe.  Added benefit of the triathlon: finishing in time for brunch!

As I mentioned, I finished in just over 90 minutes, which is fantastic considering my [much too easy] goal was 2 hours.  My swim time was tremendously quicker than I had expected, I’d been working on that, while my run, which I did in normal shoes, and bike were right about as good as I could have hoped.  Here are my stats:

times I just ran a triathlon

The setting for the race was absolutely beautiful.  Miami’s Biscayne Bay and cycling through Oleta River State Park was a treat as well.  What wasn’t a treat was being passed on the bike by more racers than I could count.  Basically, if do an image search for the word triathlete, you’ll see what one looks like and the kind of bicycle they have.  Sometimes those bikes cost as much as $5,000.  My bike, which I use to commute, cost a measly $300 and well, I don’t think I much look like a triathlete.  Still, I enjoyed a great morning and have something to build off of.  Besides, I had the best looking cheerleaders of the entire race!

miamitriathlonkids I just ran a triathlon

IF YOU want to do a triathlon as well the 2575 race series is a great way to start.  The races are short, yet still long enough to be a very meaningful distance.  Also, the locations are simply phenomenal.  Using these races to travel all around the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean wouldn’t be such a bad plan.

A Really Really Really Really Long Walk

I once walked 100 kilometers in one day. We started at 3am, the four of us. It was an organized event so we weren’t alone but when I walked up to the finish line at midnight I had been alone for hours.

Somehow, I thought it would be a good idea to do that long walk again….in winter!

What started out as a simple dare quickly grew into a quest for myself and three other friends. (This was a different group from my first foray in long distance walking.) I had been hoping to rejoin the 100km walk again later this month but scheduling kept that from happening. In the process I heard about a 50 mile trek to commemorate the first time this walk was done, by Robert F. Kennedy, mentioned to my friends, and there was no turning back.

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At the start there were 34 walkers. Only 12 would walk the entire distance.

Because this was was shorter, the start time was a leisurely 4am. In preparing for the walk, all I could think about was the immense pain and suffering I felt toward the end of the 62mi when I’d done it the first time. Yes, this was was shorter, but it was winter time so really no real benefit from the decreased distance. I’d walk a little less but have to deal with temperature control, freezing water and maybe even snow on the trail.

We got to the trailhead a bit late but still managed to start with the group. It was dark. It was cold. I wanted to walk faster than the rest of my group. We all wanted to sleep. The sun came up. We ate food. My water froze. I unfroze my Camelback’s hose so I could drink. It froze again. Fun, right?

CO Canal Towpath A Really Really Really Really Long Walk
A lot of the path looked just like this. It was a beautiful day….in February!

The walk itself took place along the C&O Canal. The Canal was built alongside the Potomac River to ferry goods up and down river between Washington, DC and Cumberland, MD; a distance of about 185mi. The walk I did before, the 100km, started in DC itself and went all the way to Harper’s Ferry, WV. The “shorter” walk I did the second time started further upstream in Great Falls, following the same canal and towpath all the way to Harper’s Ferry.

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You can see Chester’s bow tie…I tied it!

Eventually we all hit our stride and began to enjoy our day despite the cold. This is probably a good point to introduce the rest of my cohorts. There was Chester and his lovely bride Catherine. Chester and I knew each other from GWU where we played Rugby with the fourth member of our trip, Lionel. Lionel and Catherine, who for various reasons didn’t want to walk the whole way, each took turns shuttling the car while Chester and I walked the full distance. We were all dared to start the day wearing oxford shirts and bow ties (my bowtie fell off before our first pit stop) to help us commemorate RFK but Chester was the only one stupid strong enough to make the whole trip in a pair of Cole Haan dress shoes.

The walk itself is easy.  Technically, it is uphill, but 600 feet in elevation spread over 50 miles doesn’t really count for much elevation.  It’s that very flatness that causes the pain in the hip flexors and ankles, from doing the same thing over and over again for hours.  With the sun up, we warmed up quite a bit and I didn’t have any more problems with water freezing.  We walked some more and some more.  We talked politics and business and philosophy, as friends do, and then we talked about how much we hurt and what we wanted to eat.  A friend visited us a few hours before sunset and brought us hot chocolate and magic bars.  Amazing.  We kept walking.  Walking some more.  Did I mention this was a very long walk?  We saw some kind of strange albino deer. The sun set.  The temperature dropped a lot.  We still had miles to go. We kept walking.

In the end we didn’t finish too long after sunset, arriving at Harper’s Ferry right about 7pm.  Although 7pm sounds like a nice time to finish something, we’d been walking for 15 hours straight and were simply exhausted.  For me though, I was shocked at how much easier a 50 mile walk was compared to a 62 mile walk, and thankful that we’d not encountered any snow. When I’d finished this walk the first time, doing the full 100km, I could barely move.  Although I was plenty sore this time around things like stairs and hills didn’t look quite so scary.  We even went out for dinner and each enjoyed a nice pint of beer.

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Then we got to the B&B we’d booked for the night, and Chester removed those Cole Haans…  The shoes survived surprisingly well but the feet were another story.

   2013 02 09 20 43 41 307 140x250 A Really Really Really Really Long Walk

Interview with OT Surf – New Bikini’s

Christy and Scott of Ordinary Traveler just launched a new women’s bikini line designed to actually STAY ON for any woman who is tired of always fixing her bikini. We’ve pre-ordered a suit and can’t wait to get it for the summer! The line, called OT Surf, is manufactured in the USA and is being crowd funded right now through Kickstarter.com.  Since we think highly of it we thought we’d share it with you as well.

Tell us what prompted you to go ahead and design a bikini that stays put? Was there one specific incident? I know I for one have flashed too many people as the result of an ill-fitting swimsuit purchased in Costa Rica.

It definitely wasn’t just one incident. I think most women get frustrated with their bikini from time to time. I’ve had incidents in pools or just laying on the beach, but mostly it came down to every time I ducked under a wave with my board, I would have to pull up my bottoms. That slows you down a lot, especially when the waves are big. There were also times when I was just playing in the waves and would come up for air only to realize I had to readjust my top and bottom before anybody noticed.

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How did you research fabrics and seamstresses? Do you have a background in clothing design or are you a project runway groupie?

Nope, I never got into Project Runway. Although, now I wish I had. I have always been creative and designing bikinis seems to come naturally to me. It could just be because I’m a perfectionist or that I feel so passionate about making this product.

Google is your friend. Well, sometimes. We did a lot of research online, but you would be surprised at how little information we could find. Even finding information regarding places that sell the materials we need. Almost everything pointed us to buying overseas, which we feel strongly against.

After a lot of trial and error, we finally found a company that is extremely knowledgeable and they have been a wealth of information. This information doesn’t come cheap though. icon smile Interview with OT Surf   New Bikinis We wasted quite a bit of money before we realized that you get what you pay for!

Did you test the product? Any funny stories you care to share?

Yes, we definitely tested it. Well, I tested it because I couldn’t get Scott to put one on. icon wink Interview with OT Surf   New Bikinis As luck would have it, most of the testing had to be done in winter. Now, you might be thinking that winter in San Diego is mild, but the water temperature is usually in the fifties. I was the only person out there without a wetsuit.

One day I had to test just the bikini top, so I had this bright idea that I would be slightly warmer if I went out with my wetsuit up to my stomach. It helped give me the courage to walk out into the water, but once I did my first duck dive, my suit filled up with so much water that it was weighing me down and I had to keep letting the water out the bottom. It must have been pretty hilarious to watch.

Today so much in our society is DIY, but even in today’s world DIY doesn’t mean easy. What were the challenges you didn’t expect when you set out to design and manufacture this line?

I can’t even begin to tell you how challenging it has been to perfect this product. From sourcing quality and eco-friendly materials to finding contractors that actually know what they are doing and then learning how to market all of it, I feel like the challenges never end. It’s been a learning experience to say the least.

Bikini Denisa OT Surf Web Interview with OT Surf   New Bikinis

Tell us about your philosophy behind the product. I understand that the line is environmentally friendly and manufactured locally.

One of our main goals is to reduce our impact on the environment as much as possible. By sourcing materials in the USA and using local vendors, we are able to reduce our carbon footprint by limiting the energy consumed for shipping.

Another reason we chose to manufacture in the United States is because there are stricter standards for pollution controls and labor practices. Local production also allows us to closely monitor the consistency and quality of our products, which is great for us and for our customers considering we inspect every bikini to make sure there are no mistakes or defects.

We are working towards incorporating more recycled and eco-friendly materials into our bikinis. Sourcing recycled nylon/spandex has been quite a challenge, but we may have found someone in the United States who might be able to make the material for us out of recycled materials.

Right now we are focusing on what we CAN do and that is using eco-friendly hangtags and biodegradable mailers. Luckily, we have also found a great supplier for 100% recycled t-shirts.

How did you stumble upon Kickstarter.com? What are the advantages behind crowd funding? Tell us how it works.

I think Kickstarter is a great way to give people the opportunity to become a fundamental part of a new idea or start-up company. We love involving our community in decisions such as color choices for our bikini line and possibly even new designs. I like that we are also able to offer limited edition pieces that will only be made available to the people who pre-order on Kickstarter. It gives people more of a voice, rather than just buying a product.

Your funding video is amazing – I know you’re both photographers, tell us about shooting the video.

Thanks! Well, first of all, I had no idea how hard it would be to find willing friends to model a bikini. As we look back, we realize we should have just hired a model because we went through quite a few cancellations.

Scott shot some of the footage of me while we were in Baja in February and the rest of it was done on three different days in San Diego. The times when it was just Scott and I were comical because we set up a camera and tripod that was shooting video and one that was shooting photos, while I was modeling and Scott was holding the reflector. These are the times we really wish we had hired either an assistant or a model.

Pre-sales through Kickstarter run through April 2nd, I highly recommend you order one now – your tush will thank you this summer!

Christy and Scott run the popular travel blog, Ordinary Traveler and they just launched a new innovative sports bikini line called OT Surf. They are trying to raise $15,000 by April 2, 2012 by pre-selling bikinis and t-shirts. If they reach their goal of $15,000, then they will go into production and start shipping bikinis! Click here to pre-order now. And remember, what makes Kickstarter so cool is that it runs on the all-or-nothing funding approach, so if you pre-order a bikini now and they don’t reach their $15,000 goal, you will be refunded 100% of your money! (Check them out of Facebook too!)