Friday, June 26, 2015


   It's June and normally this time of year, I'd be neck-deep in training.  The past several years, I've had late-season "A" races and my weekends would primarily consist of four, five or six hour bike rides and runs that felt like they lasted that long.  However, this year, my "A" triathlon of the season, Chatty 70.3, is already behind me. I only have Sprint or Olympic-distance races on the calendar for the rest of my tri season (yes, I have a couple of marathons on the Fall, but that's a different topic).
   Now, rather than spending my entire weekend training, eating and recovering, I actually have time to do other things. And while it's taking a bit of getting used to, I have to say - it's kind of fun. It's nice to only have a two-hour Zone 2 long ride, especially when the temperatures get into the upper 90s. And I love to be done with my long run by 8:30 in the morning and have an ENTIRE DAY to do something other than train. Don't get me wrong, I'm a freak and love training, but it's good to revisit some of my other interests. Here's a little rundown of what I've been doing with some of my downtime:

   Most of you know, I'm a avid reader. Always have been. When I was a kid, my mom would try to get me to go out and play with other kids, but I'd frequently say no because I was completely engrossed in some book. I actually brought "War and Peace" to Beach Week when I was a Junior in high school, not because it was an assignment, but because I felt like I was something I needed to read. Yes, I'm kind of a lit geek and I'm totally OK with that. I have a goal of reading 52 books every year, and I've hit this goal the past two years. I'm a little behind for 2015, but am trying to catch up. Here's a sampling of what I've read this year:

  •  "Deep Down Dark" by Hector Tobar:  The true story of the 33 Chilean miners who were buried underground for 69 days after the San Jose mine collapsed. Fascinating book and I absolutely recommend it.
  • "The Girl on the Train" by Paula Hawkins:  A psychological thriller that has been compared to Hitchcock. Have you ever made up a back-story about a stranger you've seen passing by? And then had the opportunity to actually MEET that person and find out what their reality is? "The Girl on the Train" is that, but with alcoholic blackouts and murder.  Easy read - I read it in a day.
  • "As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride" by Cary Elwes: If you liked "The Princess Bride" (and who didn't, really), you'll like this book. 'Nuff said.
   Dudley and I moved to a new house last Fall. Well, it's a 50-year old house, so it's not "new," however, it's new to us. Unfortunately, the previous owners didn't give it the attention it deserved so we've spent the past few months trying to clean it up / repairing things. While Dudley has been doing a lot of clearing of larger trees, my main project has been the side yard. Here are a few "before" photos. Note: I've already cleared a lot before taking these photos. Some weeds were three-feet high in both areas. 

The previous owner loved her Monkey Grass!  


   Both of these areas have been cleared, and are now full of various shrubs, annuals and perennials. There have also been a lot of trips to Lowe's for mulch. Yes, I know that "after" photos are necessary, but I don't have any since I'm not done yet with the entire side yard yet (it's much bigger than these photos show). I'll do a "big reveal" at some point, though I might need some professional help since I'm pretty clueless as to what to plant where.  I've had a few plants die on me already. Sigh. I never said I was "good" at gardening, just that I enjoy doing it.

   I'm not a huge TV watcher - generally news and sports (Tour de France starts on July 4th!). However, I'm absolutely guilty of being sucked into a TV series on Netflix / Hulu and binge-watching every episode. After years of watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" here and there while on the trainer, I finally started just streaming the episodes and am almost finished with the series. I know I'm stating what almost every person on the planet knows, but Joss Whedon is a freakin' genius. The writing on the show is brilliant and I'm annoyed I didn't pay more attention to the show when it was on originally. I also just finished the first season of "Outlander," which probably has the best casting I've seen for any show. Man, do I hate Jack Randall. He's the WORST! 
   Anyway, I'm looking for suggestions on other shows that I've missed, which is most of them. Something less vampy / sci-fi. "Parenthood" maybe?  I tried "Mad Men" but couldn't get into it. Maybe I should try again?

What do you all do on your down time? Recommendations are appreciated!  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mach Tenn Race Recap

   Last Saturday was one of my favorite triathlons - Mach Tenn. It's a little race put on by the wonderful people at the Mach Tenn Running Club, who also organize one of my favorite half-marathons - Oak Barrel. This sprint(ish) tri (1,000 m swim / 15 mile bike / 4 mile run) has been around for 30+ years and sells out almost every year. Obviously, the Mach Tenn Running Club is doing something right.

Yes, this says "Hoe Cakes." We're in the South and we serve Hoe Cakes here.

   Unfortunately, due to travel and little things like my parent's house catching on fire, I've only been able to race Mach Tenn once, back in 2011. It was my first open water swim and I was terrified. I remember looking out at the swim course and thinking "This might not end so well." It just looked SO FAR. I had a pretty strong feeling that I really might die out there. Obviously, I didn't drown and the feeling I had after finishing that race is why people get hooked on triathlons. It was hard and I was scared, but I did it and had a huge feeling of "Holy Crap - I can't believe I just did that!" Now that I'm a bit more seasoned of a triathlete, I was really looking forward to going back and experiencing this race through a different lens.
   The differences were noticeable from even before the race. The night before the 2011 Mach Tenn, I was running around like a crazy person packing everything I owned and checking my lists 10 times. But for this race? I didn't even think about packing until around 9:00pm and actually did most of it the morning of. Guess I have a system down. Who knew?
   The race is held in Tullahoma, which is about a 1.5 hour drive for us. It's just on the cusp of being a bit too for to drive down the morning of, but too close to justify getting a hotel and driving down the night before. We ended up getting up at 4:00am and rolling around 5:00 / 5:15am, with an ETA of 6:30 / 6:45. I was thinking we'd be one of the first people there since the race started at 8:00am. So wrong! I sometimes forget exactly how Type-A triathletes can me. The parking lot was pretty full by the time we got there.
   Once I got out of the car, I started having little déjà vu moments from the 2011 race. The first thing I noticed in 2011 was that everyone had such nice bikes! Remember- this is a little quasi-sprint race in the middle of rural Tennessee. I had, foolishly, thought that there would be a lot of beginners and, therefore, a mix of random bikes. This is what you see at most sprint races. However, Mach Tenn isn't your average sprint race. It's totally legit. Sure, there are a few true beginners, however, there are also a lot of hard-core, experienced athletes who show up because it's such great race. Honestly, I felt a little out of place last time with my road bike. But not this year. This year, my P3 with race wheels fit right in.
   While the temperature on Saturday got in the upper 80's, the water temperature was still in the mid 70's and the race was wetsuit-legal. I was torn on whether to wear one or not because the swim was so short and it's a pain to take off. But my coach said to wear it, so I did. I got in the water a few minutes before my swim started to get used to the water. It felt great. One of my FTP teammates did the same thing and actually had a leech attach to his foot. THANK GOD I heard about this after the race because I'm not sure I would have gotten back in the water after hearing that. I'm mentally prepared for fish and snakes when I swim in open water, but no one ever mentioned leeches to me. Ugh.

One of those yellow caps is me.

  The race was a time-trial start with the fastest going first. When you register, you send in the time that you think you're going to finish, and then the racers are put in that order. I honestly can't remember what time I signed up with, but I guess it was pretty slow because I was placed in line behind everyone else I knew. Everyone. Oops. Not a huge thing - the line moved quickly and I just had to wait a few minutes before it was my turn to go. Dudley got this fantastic video of me prancing into the water, which I would totally load here if I could get it to work. It's hysterical.
   My swim felt good. Nice and smooth, unlike the cluster that was Chattanooga 70.3. The hardest part about this race was swimming directly into the sun. It was hard to see the buoys because the sun would blind me whenever I looked up. I was thankful for the wetsuit though (Thanks, Andrew!).  It's a pain to get on and off, but it helped a lot.  
   The bike leg at Mach Tenn is a fun one. Lots of rollers, but nothing too crazy. The hardest part of this leg for me was to remember that I needed to push myself. I was supposed to be racing, after all. However, with my past two races being a 70.3 and a full IM, I kind of forgot how to pace for such a short distance. I passed a lot of people though, so that made me feel good.
   The run was where the race got tough. We ran the same road we biked on, and while those rollers felt good on the bike, they were awful on the run. Especially since the sun was out in full-force and it was HOT. Fortunately, it was only four miles. Unfortunately, the not knowing how to pace myself came back to bite me because I went out way to fast and then started cramping around mile 2.5.  I'm guessing it was from dehydration, but who knows? The cramping only lasted a little while though, and I finished pretty strong.     
   Strong enough for...wait for it...first place in my age group! What? That's right! I won my age group. Believe me, I was as surprised as you all are. I did get some help in the rankings by having some REALLY fast women in my category get bumped up into the overall awards, but I still feel good about my race. It was a pretty solid effort for me. Plus, I was 17 minutes faster than my 2011 race!  Training works, y'all!  (For the record, a professional triathlete won the women's overall. THAT'S what I meant about this being a legit race for a sprint.)

Collecting my award. SuperStah!  

Hanging out with the Nasties post-race.

My first place award.  

Pretty cool, eh?

   I think it's pretty obvious how much I love this race. I had just as much fun this time around as I did in 2011, if not more because I wasn't terrified this time. The course is fun, but challenging. Yes, it's hot, but that's Nashville in the Summer. Plus, race organizers do a great job at catering to the needs of the racers in a casual, hometown atmosphere. And they serve hoe cakes at the post-race party. What else could you want from a triathlon? Thanks for a great race, Mach Tenn!   

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


   It's the thrifty runner's favorite day! It's National Running Day! Yes, the main purpose of the day is to promote running and a healthy lifestyle, but it's also the day that lots of races and running companies give discounts! Here are a few:

Rock & Roll Series Races: Save up to $20 when registering for selected races such Nashville, Philadelphia and Vancouver.  Lots of choices if you like to travel. Check it out here:

Miami Marathon / Half Marathon: Save $15 on registration by using the code runningday. Go to to register.  

Road ID: If you run / ride / whatever, you need a Road ID. Today you can sign up to receive a $10 gift card at

Only Atoms: This small running company based in New York is giving a 10% discount today, plus free shipping and free gifts! Who doesn't like a free gift?  Check them out at

Sweaty Bands: Running-themed headbands are on sale all month!

Nashville Running Company: 50% off of any NRC logo'd item!

   Want to raise a little money for a good cause? You can do that too, today!

Charity Miles:  Just download the Charity Miles app and log your mileage!  Every mile you run will donate funds to a charity of your choice!

Bombas Socks: 100% of proceeds from today's sales will go to Back On My Feet, which uses "running as a way to create self-sufficiency in the lives of those experiencing homelessness."  I've never used the socks, but I've read about Back On My Feet, and they're doing some great things. Here's a little more info on them:

   How about a photo contest?  Fleet Feet Nashville will be giving away three $50 gift cards for the best running-inspired picture! All you need to do to enter is post a running photo on your Instagram account and tag @fleetfeetnash. The contest runs through Friday at 6:00pm when they will choose the three winners.

   Of course, be sure to check out your local running stores for other events today. Now that you've saved some money, go lace up and go for a run!! I'll see you out there!