A Triathlete is Born 
Saturday, August 7, 2010, 03:11 PM
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Salem, Massachusetts greeted us with surprisingly chilly temperatures for an August morning. Wishing I had brought a jacket, I was glad that I was not the one who would soon be plunging into the Atlantic. No, that would be my 7-year old niece, Hannah. Although it wasn’t so much plunging as wading until forced to actually swim around a buoy. But, she did it! And even emerged with a smile on her face.

At the Haunted City Junior Triathlon, Hannah learned how to set up her transition area and I learned that bike racks aren’t needed when everyone has a kick stand.

Hannah bravely joined the other shivering children in the ocean and then laughed and chatted through most of the 100-meter swim/walk portion of the race.

She had a whole crew of family members sprinting up the beach to meet her at transition with cheers and encouragement, and then racing off again to catch photos on the 1.5-mile bike course.

Paul and I walked with Hannah a bit on the run course and she made it clear, with words and the look on her face, that this was hard.

But, like most athletes, she managed to find another gear when the finish line came into sight. She blazed down the straightaway, grinning from ear to ear, and claimed her finisher’s medal.

Although she didn’t get one of those trophies she wanted so badly, she definitely earned bragging rights.

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Wildcat Sprint Triathlon Report 
Wednesday, August 4, 2010, 04:48 PM
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Wildcat Sprint Triathlon Top 5 List

5. Live Music
The sound of music is never so sweet as when it signals your proximity to the finish line. While many races feature a DJ, FIRM Racing went one step further with a live band to keep the spectators entertained and the athletes pumped. A very nice touch.

4. Shady , Low-Traffic Bike Course
In Arizona, cycling in the summer means baking in the sun. The well-shaded roads of Massachusetts have been an unexpected perk of our recent move. The website describes the bike route as “a single loop, fairly flat eleven mile course on beautiful roads that make you feel you are in a rural setting.” I’ll give them everything but the “fairly flat,” as this holds true only for the first 6 miles.

3. A 400-Meter Swim
The swim takes place in the Merrimack River, a body of water which, unlike a pool, is known to have a current. Visions of swimming in place (much like in an endless pool) almost kept me from signing up. But, then, I saw that the swim was just 400 meters – half the distance of a typical sprint swim. Some might feel that it’s not even worth getting wet for a swim THAT short. I am not one of those people.

2. Racing with a Tri Girl
In my few years of racing, I have never competed in a triathlon without a fellow Tri Girl. Despite taking place in Massachusetts, this race was no different. Spending a few weeks in the area for work, Keli was actually the one who found this race. We didn’t have a whole TTG rack or hordes of purple-clad cheerleaders. But we had each other!

1. My Own Personal Cheering Section
I admit it – guilt tactics were employed. Nonetheless, it was fantastic to have most of my immediate family present and accounted for…and waving homemade signs.

Despite some rather sporadic training due to the recent acquisition of a job, Paul still managed to take first place in his age group. He didn’t walk away with any hardware, however, as a computer glitch prevented the results from being posted until 2 days later. But we hear it’s in the mail. Well done, Paul!
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Yoga with the Luna Chix 
Thursday, July 29, 2010, 03:54 PM
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After a day spent mostly with my bottom in a chair and my face bathed in the glow of a computer, I was grateful for a reason to get out of my “garden level” apartment and into the above-ground world. The Luna Chix Boston Running Team was hosting a yoga clinic at Danehy Park and, if there’s anything better than a good yoga class, it’s a good yoga class outdoors.

The bike ride was short, just 2 miles away, but somewhat awkward with a yoga mat sticking out of my drawstring backpack and poking me in the head. I’m sure savvier yogini’s have found better ways to transport their mats, but I'm not there yet.

I met the eight or so other women, unrolled my mat on a flat spot on the grass, and suddenly became very conscious of all of the activity surrounding us – a group of men playing soccer, a man talking loudly on his cell phone, families flying kites, teenage boys gawking at us. But, before long, I got past all that and enjoyed the breezy evening and the much-needed stretching.

For a $10 donation to the Breast Cancer Fund, we received a great class geared toward runners (lots of IT band stretching!) and the mother of all goodie bags.

On top of that, I won a raffle prize of a box of Luna bars. While I generally prefer food in its natural state over the bar form, these little packages do come in handy when traveling or on long bike rides. This loot will tide me over for months to come! Had I known about all of the schwag, I certainly would have brought a bigger backpack.

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Kids These Days... 
Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 10:00 AM
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It was a successful week for Project Whip the Family into Shape, especially amongst our youth demographic.

It all started with a Facebook post from my 15-year old cousin – “going for a jog.” I pounced with an offer to join me in the Allan D. Morrison 5K this October and, much to my delight, he accepted. With the official OK from dad, cousin Andrew is now registered for the race. Score!

Next up was my 7-year old niece, Hannah, who, a few weeks ago, agreed to participate in an upcoming youth triathlon. However, like many triathletes of all ages, there was some trepidation about the swimming. Her technique is limited to the dog-paddle. And a brief one at that. And then there’s the matter of sharks. “They like to eat little kids,” she told me.

Fortunately (and wisely), the triathlon organizers offer a swim clinic specifically geared toward kids participating in this race. Hannah was able to, literally, test the waters.

She joined about 15 other triathletes-in-the-making at Dead Horse Beach in Salem for a little swimming, a lot of dog-paddling and, when all else failed, some walking through the water. Most importantly, she made some new friends that she can look forward to seeing on race day.

She seems to have forgotten about the sharks. Now, her nerves come from wanting to win!

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The Most Informal Running Club Ever (TMIRCE) 
Monday, July 19, 2010, 10:41 PM
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While the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue (and the acronym isn’t any better), it’s an apt description of this weekly Cambridge gathering. I was impressed with both the size and the friendliness of this group. About 30 runners strong, I chatted with various people during our run along the Charles River – Margo the nuclear scientist, Larry the barefoot guy, Eileen the fellow MHC alum. And then with some more after the run – a few physicians and an economist. No slouches in this group. Cambridge is full of smarties.

Wanting to get in a long workout that day, I ran the dogs and then ran to the meeting spot, putting 5 miles in the bank before the 10:30 a.m. start time. The group offers distances of 3, 5 and 6 miles with a corresponding bridge for each distance. The Mass Ave Bridge was calling my name, but I pushed on to the Longfellow to make it an even 10 miles for the day – a choice I came to regret.

I had felt strong during my pre-TMIRCE miles, but that was before the heat and humidity completely wrecked me. My pace gradually slowed, I was liberal with my use of walk breaks during the last few miles, and I was nauseous for hours. But, determined to make the most of the experience, I stuck it out at the post-run potluck for about 30 minutes before deciding that I might actually vomit or pass out if I didn’t cool off. I suffered through the 2-mile walk home, took a long, cold shower and then spent an hour in the prone position. Eventually, I felt back to myself and able to take in (and keep in) some food.

The people were welcoming and the course is beautiful, but the coolest part of this group is the potluck held in Andy’s house. He leads TMIRCE and, every week, allows a large group of sweaty strangers to hang out in his living room, cook up some eggs on his stove, and stuff their faces while, undoubtedly, dropping lots of crumbs. With an arrangement like this, any strangers quickly become friends. Andy wasn’t actually there last weekend, but this kind of openness makes me like him immensely already.

Despite the less-than-optimal ending to my run, I look forward to giving it another shot. Maybe I’ll be a little less ambitious with the mileage next time.
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