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.

Start 50 MileKennedy e1365687349873 A Really Really Really Really Long Walk
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.

Chester and Lionel 140x250 A Really Really Really Really Long Walk
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.

2013 02 09 20 42 24 427 250x140 A Really Really Really Really Long Walk

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.

Christy Close up Fixed 1024x682 Interview with OT Surf   New Bikinis

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!)

How to Finish a Half Marathon When You Haven’t Trained

It isn’t a trivia fact I’m particularly proud of, but I’ve completed two half marathons now with very little training. A sprained ankle (the first one) and laziness, I mean a busy life, kept me from my intense training routine the second time around. The most I ran before either marathon was six miles, less than half the total distance. So why do it? Because running that far makes it totally appropriate to eat and sleep as much as you want after the race.

6903807825 6187f454c5 How to Finish a Half Marathon When You Haven’t Trained

Just kidding.

It’s the incredible sense of accomplishment from crossing the finish line.

Here’s my secret to making it to the finish- be stubborn. Let me explain.
Step 1:
Hopefully you have at least registered for a half marathon that a) starts early in the morning or b) a lot of your friends are running. Both A and B make for the best case scenario but either A or B still increases your chances of finishing dramatically. Early in the morning is best because frankly if you are groggy for the first 3 miles the race will go by a lot faster. Friends and family are helpful because they help quite literally pull you along and will smile even when it takes you five hours to finish the half marathon.

6903769865 80498293c1 How to Finish a Half Marathon When You Haven’t Trained

Step 2:
Be stubborn. Sure, it may have taken me twice the time it took you to finish, but I had severe diarrhea during the race and had to pull over seven times. (Ok that part unfortunately is true, but you see where I am going with this- let nothing stop you). Motivate yourself- when you get to mile nine and you’ve hit the wall, remind yourself that if you’ve made it to mile nine you WILL finish. I try to choose someone near me at mile nine and tell myself that we will finish together. I don’t let that person get too far ahead of me and more often than not I finish ahead of them, yup I’m competitive and stubborn.

6903793049 c78d9380be How to Finish a Half Marathon When You Haven’t Trained

Step 3:
Bring sport beans/gu/concentrated electrolytes. I like the sport beans because I can pretend like I am eating candy. Just like a five year old I am motivated by candy, or err sport beans. Only two more sport beans before I finish this mile…

3607235306 87f7593076 How to Finish a Half Marathon When You Haven’t Trained

Step 4:
Walk when you have to. When you get tired, and you will… remember it is ok to walk. Shuffle if you have to instead of jogging, but keep the body moving. If you stop it is all over. At the Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon I could barely run at the end I was SO tired. But I kept moving like a snail. And like that little engine that could I made it to the end and even had some energy to sprint (thank you sport beans!)

6913734711 3363310e1b How to Finish a Half Marathon When You Haven’t Trained

Step 5:
Visualize something else. I try hard not to focus on time or how much distance I have left. Miles 5-8 are the hardest for me so I try to think of something else. I imagine myself swimming towards a boat in the far distance; I make up a story about someone running ahead of me and focus on keeping up with them, or (nerd alert!) I try to list out all the prime numbers from 1 to 1,000 and reward myself with a sport bean.

6903764105 79284156de How to Finish a Half Marathon When You Haven’t Trained

Hopefully you’ve done a little bit of training before the half marathon and aren’t going in completely unprepared. If you are completely unprepared skip 1-5 and go directly to step six- pray before you run.

Racing in Florida’s Wilderness

Florida is best known for amusement attractions and beaches, but a little known fact is that Florida has an incredible abundance of wildlife.   That’s a fact I’m becoming well aware of as we do more adventure racing in Florida’s wilderness.

441476783 1c71cea28f Racing in Floridas Wilderness

A few weeks ago, at my second adventure race in Florida, I learned a universal truth about Florida. Holidays in Florida involve the beach or Mickey Mouse and usually a lot of sun but in the wilderness of Florida…there will always be alligators. We heard of its position in the river not long after we capsized in the mangrove swamp. Thankfully I didn’t know about the gator until after we spent ten minutes thrashing about in the ankle deep water and waste deep mud.

Needless to say, we’re slowly getting used to adventure racing in Florida’s wilderness.   Florida’s terrain makes for a different kind of adventure race where the topography isn’t the challenge.
Dickinson State Park, the home of this race, is known for manatee sightings, alligators, birds, and any number of other animal and plant species.  While Florida beaches may be white sand fit for a postcard, the interior of the state is a bit like a beautiful bayou.  Flat, grassy and filled with water during the rainy season.  More than the topography, the vegetation becomes the main challenge.  Sawgrass is indeed sharp!
This race we added a member to our adventure racing team and for the first race ever we were a trio. It turns out being a trio is significantly different than being a duo.  Where two were a well-oiled machine, three just couldn’t get the mojo flowing.  Perhaps we should have clued our new compadre into adventure racing 101 BEFORE we loaded him and his equipment into the car on the morning of the race.

stelprdb5172679 Racing in Floridas Wilderness

Oh well.

We never quite reached our sweet spot on this race, even the orienteering, which is usually our strongest point felt inadequate and more than once we looked at the map several times before realizing a “cut through”/ “trail” or creek didn’t go through. So much for bushwhacking it to save time.

The real bummer on this race was bike checkpoint 17.  There’s always one that gets you, but checkpoint 17 really threw us for a loop.  Instead of cutting our losses and getting out of there, we spent more than an hour looking for it, convinced it was just behind the next bramble bush.  We weren’t the only ones, we saw several other teams bumbling around the woods for checkpoint 17, many of whom we assume gave up rather than press on.  I guess there should be some honor in pressing on, but there wasn’t.  Add to that a critical map reading error and well… it wasn’t our best finish.

Fortunately we were able to take a step back from our lack of mojo and appreciate the race for what it was- a day in the wilderness.  (And our worst ever Adventure Race finish…)

IF YOU GO: John Dickinson State Park is located just north of Jupiter, Florida.  It’s a great day trip from South Florida – located a bit inland there’s plenty of biking, hiking and canoeing available.  Expect to have a day in the quiet and plenty of animal spotting.  The park also has a number of horse trails and rentals are available on site.  Alligator spotting is free!
Photo Credit: Photo 1 courtesy of flickr user allspice1 via a creative commons license, Photo 2 courtesy of Pangea Adventure Racing