Most people who race triathlons wear tri shorts. These look a lot like bike shorts but the chamois (this is a fancy word for the padding) is much thinner and made of a material that dries very quickly.  You want quick drying because these shorts are worn under the wetsuit during the swim portion of the race.  You get out of the water, strip off your wetsuit, put on a racing jersey and shoes and jump on your bike.

I bought my first pair of tri shorts yesterday in preparation for the sprint triathlon I am racing in tomorrow.  There was only one problem – I didn’t know if they were supposed to be worn with underwear or not.  I felt embarassed asking, so I referred to the oh-so-handy Google.  I typed in “tri shorts with underwear” and found the topic as a discussion thread on a bulletin board. 

Turns out the answer is no underwear.  Lots of people felt the need to weigh in on the subject and everyone said no.  Until the very bottom, that is.  One fellow wrote, “Guys, stop messing with the newbie.  Of course  you wear underwear!”  Then, after scrolling down about four inches, I saw that he added, “Just kidding!”

I guess I’ve undone the anonymity of asking an embarassing question on the Internet by writing a post about it, but there you have it – no underwear.


Brrrr . . . .

May 23, 2009

On Thursday, I tried on my wetsuit for the first time.  Swimming in a wetsuit feels quite a bit different than swimming in a regular suit.  Also, swimming in freezing cold lake water feels quite a bit different than swimming in a temperate pool.  For one thing, I felt like I could entirely fill up my lungs when I took a breath.  Was this due to the snugness of the wetsuit around my ribs or the temperature of the water?  I can’t tell.  My brain tried to go into “AAAAAAAAAA you’re not getting enough oxygen!” panic mode but I told it to calm down and it did.  I guess that’s why it is important to practice in the lake before a race – so you know what to expect.

On the plus side, I naturally swim pretty straight.  We practiced something called “sighting” where you pull your head out of the water during a breath to make sure you are swimming in the right direction.  Nine out of ten times, I was.  So, rest assured, I won’t be swimming all the way to China during the race.

May 20, 2009


It’s been awhile, I know.  My apologies.  I started feeling overwhelmed by my life and then I got sick so I took a week off from training.  It felt great and now I’m ready to finish strong – only five weeks left!

Some quick updates:

  • We get our wetsuits and start practicing in open water tomorrow.  Up till now, all of our swim practices have been in a pool.  Tomorrow, we will swim in a lake for the first time.  I hear that the two most difficult aspects of open water swimming are the temperature (cold!) and not having lines to guide you.  It’s possible to swim off course without realizing it.  Not good. 
  • I am still fundraising, but getting oh, so close to my goal .  On Saturday, I gave out balloons at a local farmer’s market for a suggested donation of $1.  If you need to raise money, this is a great fundraiser – easy, cheap if you get the helium donated, it advertises itself and what little kid doesn’t want a balloon?  I’ll probably write a longer post on this later – it was a really good time. I am now at $3400 – only $500 left to go!
  • I will be racing in a sprint distance triathlon on the 30th of May.  It has all the same components of my big race, but the distances are only about half as long – 750m swim (.47 miles), 20 km ride (about 12 miles) and 5 km run (about 3 miles).   My coach suggested it so I can get a feel for the transitions between sports.

That is it for now.  I will try to post more about my balloon fundraiser later.  I’ll also be sure to include pictures from the sprint triathlon after it happens.

Rounding third

May 9, 2009

I started this crazy project at the end of January which puts me about 3/4 of the way through training.  Luckily, I can report that I feel like I am rounding third base in terms of readiness.

Yesterday, I swam 1500 meters without stopping!  This is the length I will swim in the race and, up till now, I had been secretly wondering if I could do it.  Now I know I can.  I swam it in 32 minutes, 36 seconds.  This time won’t win me any medals, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of, either.  The best part: I wasn’t that tired at the end.  I totally could have jumped on a bike and started riding.  Which, of course, is exactly what I will have to do on June 28th!

In fundraising news, I am getting close – I have raised $3290, 84% of the total amount.  Next Saturday, I will hand out balloons at a local farmer’s market.  The suggested donation will be $1 per balloon, but of course, I’m hoping people will give more.  We’ll see – if nothing else, it will be a chance to spread the word about Team in Training and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s good work.

Remember back in February when I posted about getting a pair of fancy new shoes?  The store that provided the shoe clinic and gave us the discount also sponsored the Tacoma Marathon this past Sunday.  As a Team in Training participant, I received an email asking if I’d be willing to volunteer.

I signed up, partly to give something back to the store that had treated us so well and partly because I had never been to a marathon before.  When I got there, I was placed right in the middle of the stream of runners approaching the finish line.  I had to direct the people running a half marathon to the left and the full marathoners to the right.  It was a great assignment; I felt useful and I witnessed some terrific moments.

  • As a man came into sight, a toddler broke away from the spectators and started running towards him.  The runner opened his arms wide and scooped the child up, finishing the race with the child in his arms.
  • Two runners crossed the line slowly, one with a bandaged knee limping and leaning on the shoulder of another runner (who must have given up trying for a good time to help.)
  • A 79 year-old man finishing his 400th marathon!  They gave him the race number 400 to commemorate it.
  • Two teenagers stood on the sidelines.  One had a t-shirt that read “I (Heart) Mom.”  The other one had a shirt that read “I (Heart) Dad.”
  • A couple crossed the line holding hands.
  • A group of small children stood at the edge of the crowd holding signs for a woman that I think was their grandmother.  Most of them said things like, “You Can Do It!” or “We are Proud of You!”  The smallest girl; however, held a sign that read, “You’re Crazy!”

Derby Party Report

May 3, 2009

I hosted a successful derby party last night.  We watched an exciting race, consumed a great quantity of bourbon and raised over $500 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society!

In addition to mint juleps, I made a big pot of burgoo.  Never heard of it?  You’re not alone.  Burgoo is a meaty stew pretty much found only in Kentucky.  Even there, it is a very regional thing – the recipe changes depending on the county.  Ingredients differ, but the joining factor is consistency – burgoo should be soupy but thick.  You achieve this consistency through cooking it for a very long time.  Since my mother grew up in Davies county, I used a recipe from there (scroll down to see the recipe).  I couldn’t get mutton out here so I used lamb.  I also halved the recipe.  A halved recipe  still made six full quarts and I worried that N and I would be eating burgoo for a month but not a teaspoon was left at the end of the night.  It tasted pretty great, if I do say so myself.


The spread - burgoo is in the crock pot.

The spread - burgoo is in the crock pot.

If you watched the race, you understand why they call the derby “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”  The owners of the horse favored to win pulled him at the last minute because of a potential injury.  This left the race wide open – who would win?  For the first 90 seconds, it looked like Join in the Dance would win but at the very end Mine that Bird (don’t horses have great names?) snuck in along the rail and wound up winning by over 6 lengths.  Incredible.  The odds against him were 53:1, no one thought he would win.  As one sports columnist wrote, “there are probably some rich ornithologists out there right now.”  Partygoer Jeanie won four tickets to the movies for predicting two of the three top finishers.

I wanted to give more than one prize, so I added a hat decorating contest.  Honestly, I did not know if people would participate, but my friends did not let me down.  All of the decorations came from the dollar store and included fake flowers, army men, ribbon, lizards, moss and plastic fruit. 


I gave prizes for categories I came up with at the spur of the moment: most covert (see picture below – there are army men hiding in the flowers), most materials used, best use of fake blood and most obviously constructed by a children’s librarian.


Although the race was over by 3:30, the party continued on until midnight.  As  mentioned before, a great quantity of bourbon was consumed and a good time was had by all!