August 30, 2015

Race Recap: Music City Triathlon 2015

At the end of July, I competed in my 11th triathlon, the Music City Tri hosted by Team Magic. This is my second year doing this race. You can read last year's recap here. This year was extra fun because in addition to racing, I was also managing their social media.

The swim portion of this recap is loooong. If you know what happened, or if you've already heard me tell it, then feel free to skip ahead to the bike portion.

Photo courtesy of Team Magic

*400 m swim:  22:31 (5:38 per 100/m pace)

This year I opted for the sprint distance, which should have meant a shorter swim. Should have... At this point, every triathlete in the area knows that this swim went terribly wrong, and that only 25 sprint-distance triathletes completed it. Guess who is one of those 25? Yep. I was of the last racers they let in the water. You line up and start in numerical order. I was #221. I had two friends in the 230's and they didn't have to swim. At some point right after me, they cancelled the swim and quit letting people in the water.

Oy vey. What happened? Well, I still don't know. I heard the Army Corps of Engineers didn't shut down the dam soon enough, which meant we were swimming in a 1.5 mph current. What does that mean? I don't know, but it felt like (and looked like) swimming in an infinity pool. Everyone that got pulled into the current, quit moving and swam in place until they were rescued. How did I swim through it? I have no motherfucking idea. Here is what I remember.

The Olympic distance racers swam first, so we were able to watch them while we waited in line. It was obvious that something was wrong. A friend of mine came out of the water, saw me and said, "don't get in there." Well, shit. Right before I jumped in, one of my swim coaches, Ashley Whitney, walked by and I asked her what to do. She said to stay out of the middle of the river; to swim the Olympic course. The Olympic course was a big square. My course was a triangle and was primarily in the middle of the river. She told me that when I hit the current to kick like crazy and pull left, using the Pedestrian Bridge to sight off. That was it. It was time to jump in.

I swam to my first point and then, instead of crossing the middle diagonally to get to the second point, I swam straight across to the other shore. I was in race mode and not paying attention to how I felt or who was around me. When I got to the other shore, all these Olympic-distance swimmers were standing up. It was shallow and they were exhausted, they were standing up to rest. I kept swimming, using the bridge to sight off, and swam to the third point. This is where it got real. The current was so strong, I couldn't swim around the buoy to make my last turn. Also, I had been swimming alone up until this point, but now I was in the thick of it. A mass of swimmers were hanging on to the buoy and swimmers were being rescued all around me. I switched to breast-stroke to get my bearings. I could see the dock, which was the swim exit, I just had to swim to it - across the 1.5 mph current.

I was swimming as hard as I can swim and I was going nowhere. In fact, every time I looked up, I was getting pulled off-course back to the middle of the river. I wasn't scared, I was tired. I remembered that Ashley said to pull left and kick, so that's what I did. I got back on course and could see the dock and swim exit again. I was about halfway to the dock when I heard a female voice above me telling me that I looked good and to keep kicking. That was weird. You typically don't get talked to in the middle of an open water swim. I heard her again, so I flipped over and she asked me if I was okay and if I could finish. I said I could and she said I was doing good, that I was almost done, to keep kicking. She was on a paddle board and stayed beside me. Then all of a sudden, a man was in the water and told me I could stop, that the swim was over and he was going to swim me to the finish. He asked if I could swim a little longer and I said I could (I was pretty off-course and back in the middle again). He told me to stay on his feet and he was going to swim me in. I was okay once I got out of the current, so he let me swim to the dock on my own and he went back out to get more swimmers.

When I got to the dock, everyone from Team Magic and NAC recognized me and yelled my name, not out of excitement, out of relief, which scared me. Remember, I didn't know anything was wrong at this point. I just knew I had been swimming way longer than I should have been. I had to hang onto the dock for a long time as they pulled us out one by one. While I was hanging there, a female swimmer not too far away was bobbing up and down off-course and every time she came up for water, she yelled, "Help! I'm drowning!" The OEM boat was going towards her, but she was in trouble. She was going under for longer and longer. People were swimming towards her trying to help her, but you couldn't get anywhere. The people on the dock were crying, it was terrible. The boat got to her and pulled her out and she was fine, but apparently that was what the entire swim had looked like.

I got pulled out of the water and Chris McPherson, my swim coach, grabbed me and hugged me. They told us the swim and T1 were cancelled, to take our time, rest, calm down and our time would start again on the bike. I talked to people for a few minutes trying to figure out what happened and then I made my way to transition and got ready for the rest of the race.

*There's no way to know how far I swam. Based on time and exertion, I'm guessing I swam the Olympic distance, which is 1500m. Had I only swam the 400m, it would have taken me 8 minutes.

Photo courtesy of Team Magic

T1:  n/a

Again, they cancelled our swim and T1 times, so no time for this first transition from swim to bike. But hey, here's what my transition area looked like!

13.67 mile bike ride:  52:14 (15.7mph pace)

In hindsight, it's impressive that I did anything after that swim. I have so much adrenaline during races, that I don't feel or think until afterwards. Plus, 13 miles is a short ride for me, and I knew the course. I don't remember having a strategy. I think I decided to ride hard and if I had to walk during the run, so be it. All I remember is that I rode HARD.

Mile 1:  14.8 mph
        2:  15.8 mph
        3:  18.0 mph
        4:  13.5 mph
        5:  14.1 mph
        6:  15.9 mph
        7:  20.7 mph
        8:  13.1 mph
        9:  13.1 mph
      10:  22.0 mph
      11:  21.7 mph
      12:  20.6 mph
      13:  16.5 mph

T2:  2:23

This should have been a faster transition. I try to keep T2 to 1 minute. I will say, my transition area was on the opposite end of bike in, so I had to walk my bike a lot further than I do in smaller races. Also, see: swim.

Photo courtesy of Team Magic

3.1 mile run:  35:06 (11:39/mile pace)

I actually felt great starting the run course. I ran past Daniel Hudgins and jumped up and gave him a high-five. The first mile of this run is uphill, which sucks, but what are you going to do? I ran pretty easy the whole time. I was running a consistent 11:30/pace, which felt good. I caught my friend Rebecca Appleton coming back across the bridge and we walked for a minute. Then Jim Schwan, her boyfriend, past us and yelled at us to run, so we ran the rest of the way to the finish.

Mile 1:  11:35
        2:  12:10
        3:  11:28

Total time:  1:29:44

I love this race. Having done the longer, Olympic distance last year and the shorter, sprint distance this year, I think I prefer the sprint. This race is held on the last weekend of July and it's usually around 100 degrees, give or take with the heat index. That's too hot for me for a long distance race, but it's fine for a sprint. And it's fun to race in the middle of downtown Nashville. There are a ton of spectators and you feel like a badass.

Lessons Learned:

What happened with the swim course is not Team Magic's fault. I've known Faye and Therese a long time; Faye taught me how to do my first triathlon, and they care tremendously about the safety of their racers. They would not intentionally put anyone in danger. The second the swim course became unsafe, they stopped it. And they publicly apologized, which I respect. I almost exclusively compete in Team Magic races and will continue to do so. They're outstanding women and they put on good races. Shit happens.

Looking Ahead:

I had planned on doing another triathlon this summer, but the one I was going to do got cancelled and there aren't any more local races this year. It looks like I'm done for the season, which I'm a little sad about, but it's okay. I don't have any races, running or otherwise on my calendar right now. I should probably do something about that. To be continued!

Music City Triathlon
Swim:  22:31
T1:  n/a
Bike:  52:14
T2:  2:23
Run:  35:06
Total time:  1:29:44
15th Age Group (35-39)

August 26, 2015

Mid-Week Musings

Maybe I'll expound upon some of this later. Maybe I won't. In the meantime, here's what is rambling around in my noggin today.

I've been off of Facebook for two months. It feels hypocritical to work in social media and not participate in social media. So I'm going back on. But! A lot of you motherfuckers are getting hidden.

I also logged back on to MyFitnessPal today. I went off a month ago, breaking my insane 890 day streak. I'm still struggling with where calorie tracking fits into my life. Maybe it doesn't. I mean, I'm 39 years old. At what point can I trust that I know what to eat and how much to exercise? We'll see.

Last week, I heard the song "Birdhouse In Your Soul" by They Might Be Giants and LOST MY MIND. Why has it never occurred to buy my favorite album from the early nineties? You can buy everything online! So I bought it and it is the air that I breathe. I highly recommend you go immediately to iTunes or Amazon and buy your favorite album from high school.

I've been catching up on So You Think You Can Dance on Hulu. This show is so good!! This year, there's a street team and a stage team, and they're competing against each other! You guys, there's a Hebrew breaker, a tapper, a girl with a bum leg from a car wreck, and a #shero from Detroit called 'Standing O'. OMG. So good.

The weather this week has me yearning for fall. I read through all the September issues over the weekend and can't wait to start my fall style board on Pinterest. Also, crockpots, chili, pumpkin everything, running again -- I can't wait!

August 11, 2015

Cookies For Firemen

Me at the Statue of Liberty, with the World Trade Center behind me, 2001

In the days following 9/11, firemen got us through. In a city devastated by loss, we had a single bright spot, the fire fighters and rescue workers who risked, and lost, their lives for the people in the Trade Towers. On the night of the 11th, not knowing what else to do, we found ourselves back outside, standing in silence and solidarity with neighbors we didn't know. We stood shoulder to shoulder, staring downtown, weeping. Then a firetruck, covered in dust from the fallen towers, would come roaring uptown, lights and sirens blazing, American flag flying high. And we would cheer and clap and yell and cry. I remember this almost more than anything else. Because it's what kept me afloat in the dark waters of trauma and grief that I didn't know how to navigate. But I knew how to feel pride in my city, and I knew how to feel pride in the men and women going into those Towers day after day, when the rest of us were paralyzed with grief and fear.

In the 14 years since I witnessed 9/11, I have kept my feelings and memories of that day locked up. I am now trying to live my life with an openness around my experience and the affect it had on me. Tonight I baked cookies and hand-delivered them to my local fire house. John drove me there and waited while I went inside. I only spoke to one fireman, and I told him that I baked these cookies for their station as a thank you. I said that I was in 9/11. He asked me if I was in the Towers, and I said that no, I was outside on the street. His eyes filled up with tears and he said he can't believe what it must have been like to see it since it was so unbelievable for him to have watched it on television. I started crying and told him that I'm only beginning to deal with it and that delivering these cookies and saying thank you would help me. He took the cookies and very sincerely thanked me. I cried the whole way home.

The following pictures are mine from the night of the September 11, 2001.

Union Square, NYC, 9/11/01
Union Square, NYC, 9/11/01
Union Square, NYC, 9/11/01
Union Square, NYC, 9/11/01
Union Square, NYC, 9/11/01

August 4, 2015

Thank You

Thanks for all of the comments and messages on my last post. I was in a dark spot when I wrote that and immediately after posting it, but then your responses started flowing in and I felt so loved and supported. Thank you.

I had an emotional day yesterday. I awoke from a dream about 9/11 - about fire and falling. It was hard to shake off. Then I went to a work-out with my trainer where he weighed me and calculated my body fat percentage. Monday morning is a terrible weigh-day, and my weight on that gym scale was a number I haven't seen in over a year. That alone brought tears to my eyes, then he did my body fat percentage. I'm at 28% body fat, whatever that means. I'm sure it was explained to me, but I was trying so hard not to cry that I didn't hear anything.

I did my work-out, got in my car and cried the whole way home. I'm working on asking for help, so when I got home, I reached out to a couple of people. A friend, who used to work out with my trainer, said that gym scale is a fluke and that it always puts her (and everyone else) at least 4 pounds over their weight. She said she doesn't weigh herself anymore. She measures herself once a month and does her body fat percentage every two months.

A friend is helping me with my nutrition right now and she said that 28% body fat is fantastic. She was probably trying to make me feel better, but it worked. She also suggested that for this next month, while I'm processing all of this grief and trauma, I go off of MyFitnessPal and quit weighing myself, which ties into what another friend said, "Go re-read your blog post about this. There was a lot of wisdom in it..."

As of this morning, my bathroom scale now resides in the garage, and this is the first time in 890 days that I haven't logged onto MyFitnessPal.

This post is all over the place, and maybe these things aren't related, but maybe they are. On a good day, seeing a high number on the scale pisses me off, but on a day where I'm already emotionally compromised, forget it. Yesterday, I cried a bunch, ate a ridiculous lunch and took a nap on the couch, where I again dreamed about walls of fire. So I cried some more and then went to Marshall's and bought a black shirt.

It really does feel like there are two versions of me fighting over the same plot of emotional land. The 25 year old version of me is freaked the fuck out and is totally unstable. The 39 year old me is okay, and thus far, seems to be in charge today. But man, yesterday, I was 25 all day.

July 30, 2015


New York City, September 11, 2001

Trauma is weird. You can experience something, never deal with it and find yourself 15-20 years later having feelings you don't understand, feelings you think should have expired by now.

I saw my therapist last week, and didn't know why, but felt a lot of agitation and emotion on my way to her office. She asked how things are going - everything is fine, great, nothing is wrong. I told her how I hadn't been able to meditate and when I went to yoga, I was pissed off the whole time. She looked at me and asked me what's going on. Until that moment, I truly didn't know, but when she asked me, I knew. It took me a minute to compose myself, but when I could talk, I told her the sky that week was the same color of blue that it was on September 11.

This is always a hard time for me, the 4-6 weeks leading up to the anniversary of the event. And it always catches me by surprise. I've learned that I have an efficient filing system for feelings, especially pain. Everything I felt on that day was put in a mental trunk, padlocked and pushed to the end of a long, dark hallway in my brain. I've opened it once in 14 years.

Last year, around this time, a man suffering from schizophrenia, took his life in front of me.  Seeing that triggered the part of my brain that's hurt. There is no trauma rating scale in my brain. There's no yellow or orange threat levels; I go straight to red. When I saw him die, I went to red. You know that saying about fear, 'the only way out is through'? To help me when I saw that man die, my therapist had me open the trunk.

I have obviously talked about 9/11 plenty of times. Shit, I've talked about it here. But I've only told my story once, and it was last year in therapy. The thing about mental health is that you kind of have to be one person. You have to take all the different versions of yourself and integrate them. Or maybe it's just me; I've had to do a lot of integrating. I've now got to try to live my life with that trunk open, which is really hard and scary. I've got to take that 25 year old girl who, every day, thought she could die at any moment, and connect her to this 39 year old woman who is okay and safe.

I am supposed to do three things. I am supposed to start talking about 9/11 and asking friends if I can tell them a little bit about what happened to me that day. The next two things are about honoring, or paying my respects, to the events. To honor the man who died, I can write a check to a mental health organization, volunteer at a crisis hot line, or put some friends in my car, drive to where he died and raise a glass in his honor. The next part I haven't been able to say out loud yet and am crying now typing it, so I don't know how I'll pull it off, but I am supposed to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies and deliver them to a *fire station. I can either say nothing, or I can tell them I was in 9/11, I'm having a hard time, and I need them to take these cookies, please.

*A huge portion of my emotion around 9/11 is related to firemen. In the days following 9/11, people lined the streets and cheered as the fire trucks both went to and came out of downtown Manhattan. To this day, I cry almost every time a fire truck with its lights and siren on drives past me.

I'm supposed to do these things now, not in September. I don't feel ready yet, but I can see myself doing them, so I know I will. I need a little more time.

July 24, 2015

Thoughts On Insta-Shaming

One of my favorite people online, Sarah Von Bargen, posted this to Twitter and I read and re-read it a few times this week. The post is about Instagram - how we use it for good, for bad and how we need to click "Unfollow" more often.

Laura, the author of the post, sites her own insecurities for why she unfollows people. She's not blaming anyone for making her feel bad about being single or gaining weight, she's unfollowing you if your pictures of your boyfriend, or new skinny body make her feel bad about herself.

How simple is that? Instagram is where I go to get inspired - by art, by creativity, by beauty. If I want to get pissed off, I'll go to Facebook (which, by the way, I'm on another hiatus from. Three weeks strong, baby!)

I love Instagram. I love posting and I love following. I follow over 500 people. Y'all, I have no idea who follows or unfollows me. I'm never going to know - don't need to know; don't care.

For me, Instagram is a way to express and connect. I hope the people following me like seeing pictures of Truffle Butter in and around Nashville (I named my bike Truffle Butter) and all the crazy shit I find in thrift stores. If anything I post ever makes you feel bad about yourself, or you find yourself getting mad at me for what you perceive as a life of leisure (which I assure you, it is not), please unfollow me:  A) I am never going to know, and B) I don't want any part of making you feel bad about yourself.

Let's make a deal, I won't feel guilty for unfollowing you, and you won't feel guilty for unfollowing me. Deal? Good.

Now, without further ado, here is the post about Insta-Shaming by Laura Jane Williams.

Insta-Shaming by Superlatively Rude

July 16, 2015

Birchbox Review: May

Another good haul from Birchbox! Here's what I got.

Juliette Has A Gun Not A Perfume, $90

This 'not a perfume' is terrible. And it's the second time I've received it. Enough, Birchbox. Enough.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream, $39

The first thing to know about this is it has a weird scent. The shade is a tad dark for me, but every time I wear it, I get compliments on my skin and makeup. I don't think I'll buy it, but this sample should get me through the rest of the summer. Below is a picture of me wearing wearing this CC cream.

Marcelle Hydra-C 24H Energizing Hydrating Gel, $24

I like this fine, but it doesn't seem to do anything. I do like the Marcelle brand overall though. Heads-up, there is no SPF in this, so sunscreen up before you head outside for the day.

Harvey Prince Sea Salt Texturizing Mist, $22

I haven't used this yet. I'll try and remember to use it and report back in next month's review. For what it's worth, all the Birchbox reviewers love it.

Mally Evercolor Waterproof Automatic Eyeliner, $18

I like this! This makeup line is by Beyonce's makeup artist, so, duh. The eyeliner is waterproof, smudge-resistant and automatic, so it doesn't need a sharpener. I got the Black Cherry color, which is good for my green eyes. It glides on easily and stays on all day. I could stand for the color to be a little bolder, but this eyeliner is legit.


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