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!

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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.

I love le tour

The most grueling endurance event I know of, the Tour de France simply has no equal.  Lasting nearly the whole monht of July, the Tour requires the best out of every cyclist almost every day for a whole month, over mountains, across fields and time trials.  If you don’t know how the Tour works, better read last year’s post before going on.

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Before telling out about this year’s race, first another brief primer.  Every day, every rider sets out and tries to do the best they can.  Most race in a pack, with racers from all teams clumped together, because being together reduces drag and makes pedaling easier.  When a handful of riders break ahead the idea is to stick together and share the time ‘at the front’ doing the hard work. There is a racer who gets to the finish-line first and every day the winning racer is crowned that stage’s winner.  In addition to an individual stage winner, there is also the yellow jersey which goes to the rider with the best overall time.  Sometimes that jersey hardly changes hands, sometimes it changes nearly every day.

When you ride that close, you’re bound to bump elbows.

This year a TV car caused a crash when it tried to avoid a tree.  At one point in stage 7 (we’ve had 9 so far) there was a crash that involved some 80 riders.  Last year’s winner and this years race favorite has crashed at least four times this year.  He now sits over 4 minutes out of first place.  But crashes alone aren’t why I follow the Tour, I follow it because it is the best television I’ve ever seen.

Every day these men set out to ride a bike as hard and as fast as they can, around 5 hours each day, for over three weeks straight.  They work as team to ‘share’ the work and support their lead riders while chasing and forcing their adversaries to work harder.

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Ever since Team Garmin was created I’ve been rooting for them.  The reason:  they take drug testing very seriously and go far beyond what is required of them to prove they are clean.  In the second stage, the team time trial, Garmin won its first ever stage.  They also propelled one of their riders into the overall first place spot, which he managed to keep for the week.  Thor (yes, the Thunder God) lost that lead over this past weekend but he isn’t out yet.  Will he be able to rebound or won’t he? It’ll take two full weeks of riding to find that out.

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Right now though, none of the riders expected to win are leading.  The ‘expected’ rider doing the best is in 5th and is over 2 minutes out of first.  Last year’s race was decided by well under 60 seconds.   In the meantime, one rider is on a pace to set the record for most individual stage wins EVER.  He has 17 so far, and needs 22 to set that record.

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Competition, drama, teams, what isn’t there to love?

Strange Bikes

It’s the end of Bike to Work week in the U.S. and I thought we’d end with a few bicycles you may never have seen before.  Frankly, I’ve only seen one of these on the road before.

 Strange Bikes

The pedal bike bar. A genius idea or a really stupid one?  I can’t tell, but the idea of this bike is that 16 people pedal while someone serves food and drink from the middle of the bike.  We saw this in Cologne, Germany.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but honestly, I’m not sure if I’m that coordianted.

02 unique bike Strange Bikes

Mountain Bike Backpack.  Forgive me, but I just don’t see hiking with a mountain bike on my back.  I’m not lazy, but admittedly I’m not that extreme.  Folding bikes however, are cool…

folding bike Strange Bikes

Folding Bike.  I actually think this is kind of cool, especially if you commute in the city and don’t want pieces of your bike stolen during the day.  I saw seat posts, pedals and all sorts of difficult to lock and yet essential bike components stolen in DC.  This is small enough to take up to your office or cube.

 cbiked1 Strange Bikes

Walking Bike.  I said strange.  This almost looks like a joke, I had my doubts as to whether this actually worked.  Apparently it does:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSzzgFb5rkg&feature=player_embedded

Thanks to velomobiling.com, lowriderbikespicture.com, blog.tradetan.com, toxel.com for the incredible bike pictures!