Saturday, May 18, 2013

My First Triathlon

In 2006, frustrated by an injury that kept me from running, I turned my attention to swimming and biking.  Staring at a black line and swimming lap after lap was not sufficient for my competitive spirit.  I needed a goal - an athletic challenge harder than anything I had done before.  And so, on an otherwise quiet October evening, I registered for Ironman 70.3 Florida.

Months and months of training followed as I built an endurance base and developed the ability to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles.  I probably would have been wise to gain an introduction to the sport with a sprint or olympic distance race, but instead I jumped straight in the deep end.  I'll never forget the bundle of nerves that filled my stomach on race morning.  I may have been smiling for the camera, but I was seriously questioning what I was about to get myself into.

The physicality of the swim provided a shocking start, and I remember feeling as though I wanted to quit and grab onto one of the lifeguard's kayaks many times.  Fortunately, I survived and was thrilled to step back onto dry land.  The bike course meandered throughout central Florida and featured a few downpours to keep us cool on a summer day.

As I set out on the run, I had already been racing for longer than I had ever done before in training.  The run was a three-loop course through the woods surrounding Disney's Wilderness Lodge.  Those thirteen miles were the most painful I had ever run.  Between the muddy trails, soaring heat, and my general lack of experience, I'm pretty sure I was repeatedly telling myself I'd never do this again.

Everything changed, however, as I crossed the finish line, six hours and thirty minutes after I set forth into the water.  Any and all doubts and frustration disappeared and I was filled with excitement, pride, and a huge sense of accomplishment.  All it took was one finish line and I knew right then that I had found my new sport!

2013 marks my sixth season as a triathlete, and I've certainly grown and gained a lot of experience in the sport over those years.  I am still filled with nervous energy at the start of every swim, the bike always feels too long, and I'm completely in my element when it comes time to step off the bike and set off on the run.  Aside from work, my life revolves around swimming, biking, and running, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  The triathlon community is filled with amazing athletes and despite the huge number of us, it frequently feels as though you are racing with hundreds of your closest friends.  

Earlier this year, I was approached with the opportunity to act as an ambassador for the Ramblin' Rose triathlon series.  This event group, presented by Endurance Magazine, produces races with the goal of empowering and  inspiring women and their families.  The 2013 calendar features six events:

All triathlons are sprint distances, including a 250 yard pool swim, 9 mile bike, and 2 mile run.  For a beginner, I couldn't think of a better introduction to the sport.  Being a triathlete is something I am incredibly passionate about, and for that reason, I am excited to share my excitement and love for the sport with other women.  I'll be racing the Ramblin' Rose Rock Hill Triathlon on July 14th, and I want to see you out there swimming, biking, and running as well.

Whether you are looking for a new athletic challenge, need something fun to spice up your workout routine, or simply want to spend a morning meeting a great new group of women, you should swing on over to Ramblin' Rose and sign up to join in on the fun!  I'll see you on the race course in July!

Monday, May 13, 2013


It's been quite a while since I've had a "regular" post.  I've returned to the land of trauma for the months of May and June, which translates to not-so-fun times.  Between rounding at 4:30am, watching fellows operate,  unpredictable schedules, and the general unpleasantries of the trauma service, I'm not having fun.  

Tofu over Pad Thai Rice
I spend a lot of time thinking about the things that I am truly passionate about - triathlon, cooking, family, and travel.  Now I just need an easy solution to pay off my student loan debt so that I can stop counting down to my next day off and start loving EVERY day.  Here's where that winning lottery ticket comes into play!

A Random Pile of Veggies, Garbanzo Beans, and Nutritional Yeast.
You'll notice that my meals are turning into a random assortment of ingredients tossed together without any particular rhyme or reason.  Between being out of town for the wedding, a few work dinners, and a weekend of call, I haven't cooked a formal dinner  in a few weeks.  Fortunately, I'm the queen of turning odds and ends into a tasty meal, so I haven't suffered.

Tofu nuggets, corn salad, sliced raw beets, and marinated kale from the Whole Foods salad bar.
Rather than dump a pretty penny on dinner from the Whole Foods salad bar, I instead opted for a small box of ingredients to supplement some salad components I already had at home.

Some nights by the time I get home and squeeze in a workout, it's tempting to go straight to bed and skip dinner.  I'm never one to miss a meal, though, so instead my dinner ends up looking something like this.

Avocado, mixed vegetables, roasted sweet potato wedges 
After racing on Saturday morning, I headed straight for the farmer's market to pick up a bounty of fresh produce.  I typically shop at the Charlotte Regional market due to the size, variety, and lower prices.  Saturday it was completely mobbed and busier than I've ever seen it.  I love the fact that Charlotte has such a strong support for its local farmers!

Naturally, the fresh fruits and vegetables made natural ingredients for a dinner salad.  I harvested a handful of spinach from my garden for the leafy green base.

Check out the huge leaves on my spinach plants.
Sunday morning was finally my opportunity for sleeping in and utter laziness.  I wrote my race report while sipping on a chai latte, and then later made a veggie egg scramble and sliced local strawberries.

Charlotte has seen below average temperatures for several weeks.  Fortunately, the weather took a turn for the better this weekend and graced us with sunny skies and temperatures nearing 80 degrees.  As you might guess, I spent a majority of Sunday soaking up every last ray of sun from the comforts of my deck.

Salads are becoming the theme of my meals.
It must be the warm weather and bounty of seasonal vegetables.
I finally put a little extra time and effort into this dinner - sauteed garlic herb veggie sausages with bean sprouts, roasted kombucha squash, and sliced avocado.  The kombucha squash was rescued from the freezer, and sadly is the last of the batch.  I had never before eaten that particular squash variety, but I'll be roasting a lot more of it in the near future.  Yum!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Jetton Park Triathlon

750 meter swim, 20k bike, 5k run

May 11, 2013
Cornelius, NC

A Quick Recap:
Swim: 12:42  (2/67)
T1: 1:28 
Bike: 36:16  (4/67)
T2: 0:52
Run: 21:49  (3/67)
Finish Time: 1:13:06
Finish Place: 4th OA

The past two weeks leading up to my first race of the season have been anything but ideal.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, however, I'm starting to adjust to racing with less than consistent training.  May brought the start of a two month stint on trauma, which translates to morning workouts being replaced by rounding at 4:30am and evening workouts being cut short or not happening at all depending on the length of the workday.  It's frustrating and definitely puts a major damper on my attitude. Ultimately, I'd love to combine a part-time job with full-time training and just see where it took me over a few years.  That's a whole separate post though, and requires that I win the lottery and pay off my student loan debt.  

By the time Friday arrived I was so tired and craving a morning to sleep in, that I was contemplating not racing at all. However, I rallied, put a smile on my face, and went through my usual pre-race prep and packing.  Once again, I'm proud to represent The Sport Factory for the 2013 season!  

The race was held at Jetton Park, along the banks of Lake Norman, just north of Uptown Charlotte.  After weeks of colder-than-average temperatures, the tail end of the week finally brought some sunshine and warmth.  It was still a cool morning though for May, mid 60s and windy.

SWIM - 12:42 (1:41 / 100m)     2nd/67
Water temperature was recorded to be 69 degrees on race morning, and thus I opted for my wetsuit.  Contrary to the pictures, (taken in a sheltered cove) the lake had a decent chop due to the winds.  Second to St. Anthony's, it was one of the rougher race swims I've done.  I was in the third wave and positioned at the front with a straight path to the first turn buoy.  I found open water nearly immediately, but was surprised by how much I was jostled around by the waves.  At the first turn we paralleled shore, and the waves were crashing into my face each time I breathed to the right.  Fortunately, that was the shortest of the legs and we soon made the turn back towards shore.  Based on the fact that I was second out of the water (and only beat by 20 of the more than 250 guys!), I really think all of the swimming I have been doing is finally translating into improved race performances.  It will be interesting to see my times in more ideal water conditions.

T1  1:28  4th/67
A 200 meter run brought us from the water and into transition.  Thanks to a copious coating of body glide, my wetsuit came off without difficulty.  A wave of nausea hit me as I attempted to regain my land legs after a bumpy swim.  One of my goals for this season is to learn flying mounts so that I can stop spending the extra seconds in T1 putting on cycling shoes.

BIKE   36:16  (21mph)  4th/67
I've never done an ITU event, but if I had to guess, this bike experience would be very much an ITU-style.  The combination of a short distance, narrow and curvy neighborhood roads, several turn-arounds, and two waves of men that had gone off before I did, made for a very busy bike.  There were very few moments of sustained time in the aerobars.  Based on heart rate data, I averaged high zone 4 throughtout the 13 miles.  I was passed by one woman within the first few miles, and than frustratingly, by one other within two miles of the finish.

T2   0:52    2nd/67
Nothing too remarkable here - in and out without incident.

RUN   21:49  (7:02/mile)   3rd/67
The run course was largely on the narrow sidewalks that curved through the woods in the park.  One of the volunteers shouted that I was 3rd woman as I exited transition, yet at the two mile point, I would later be told I was in the dreaded 4th position.  I've struggled with tendonitis in my knee for a few months, and over the past month have run only a handful of times.  As expected, it hurt as soon as I stepped off the bike.  Five kilometers is a very short distance though, so I did my best to find speed in my legs and gain time on those in front of me.  I did manage to negative split the run (7:10, 7:14, 6:48) and came within sight of 3rd place, but in the end, crossed the finish line a frustrating fourteen seconds out of 3rd.

After the all-important post-race shower, I recovered with a protein packed kale and raspberry smoothie (hence the ugly brown-green color!).  This morning I took some time to reflect on my results and plan for my next race at Tri Latta in four weeks.  Between now and then stands three weeks of living as a ortho vampire on night float, which is sure to be anything but conducive to quality training.  On that note, I think I'll buy a lottery ticket today and hope for the best!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Perkins Wedding


On Friday, May 3rd, 2013, I had the joy of watching my baby brother walk down the aisle and marry his best friend and girl of his dreams.  After seven years of dating and one year of engagement, they officially tied the  knot and became husband and wife.

The celebrating began on Thursday in Dahlonega, Georgia with a short rehearsal at the wedding venue, The White Oaks Barn.  You can tell by the pictures that it was a windy and cold afternoon.

Stellar mountain views

After practicing our walk and sequence of events, we made our way to Frogtown Cellars for a rehearsal dinner party.  The dining room had a spectacular view overlooking the vineyards, which we enjoyed from the inside since mother nature graced us with December-like temperatures for this first weekend in May.

Royce and his groomsmen (Mike, Ben, and Chris) took a moment relax amidst the stress of the impending wedding.

Dad was Royce's best man and gave a stellar speech and toast prior to all being seated for the feast.  A few tears were shed as he expressed his heartfelt love and joy for Royce and Erin.

Dinner was served buffet style and included pork tenderloin, caesar salad, sweet potatoes with praline topping, green bean almondine, and french bread.  No meal could be complete without dessert, which featured the couple's favorite - key lime pie - and blackberry cobbler.

Friday morning started rather quietly as the bridal party began to assemble and prepare for the day.  Erin and Royce were faced with the tough decision to move their dream outdoor wedding inside as the temperatures hung in the 50s, winds whipped, and rain threatened.  It was a difficult concession after a year of planning, but ultimately the ceremony shifted into the White Oaks Barn.

Erin and Royce exchanged letters and gifts just prior to pre-ceremony pictures.  We all struggled to keep dry eyes as we caught a glimpse of the love they have for each other.

Erin looked absolutely gorgeous!  From her hair, to the sparking earrings, to the flowing dress, she certainly was stunning on her wedding day.  While anxiously awaiting our 5pm call to the begin the ceremony, lots of pictures were taken.  I can't wait to share the collection of professional photos that were captured.

The grandmother's enjoyed all of the girls getting dolled up for the event.  The general consensus was that we are all quite simple when it comes to hair and makeup - opting for straight hair (frequently pulled up) and nothing on our eyes.  Joy (Erin's cousin) was our stylist and beautician for the day and she deserves all of the credit for our finished looks.

Mom, can you believe your son is about to get married?

White Oaks Barn is nestled in the north Georgia mountains, just a short drive from downtown Dahlonega.  Erin and Royce knew immediately upon stepping onto the grounds that it was the perfect site for them to say their vows.  With just a few short hours to shift from outdoors to indoors, the barn was transformed into a gray and yellow themed scene that was magnificent.

The ceremony was held just in front of the large barn doors.  Just as Erin and her Dad stepped foot down the aisle, the doors swung open and breathtaking views of the mountains captured everyone's attention.

Each table was decorated with a burlap runner, mason jars filled with flowers and candles, and framed pictures of the couple.  Each frame was dated with a year and corresponding pictures of Royce and Erin were featured.  

The cake was a simple, yet elegant white cake with vanilla butter cream and adorned with yellow flowers.

Erin's ideas for decor came to life and included personal touches in nearly every corner.  A framed picture of Grandpa Perkins was placed in a seat along the front row during the ceremony.  I know that symbolic touch meant so much to Royce  - knowing that his grandfather was there watching him become a married man.

After introductions of the bridal party, it was time to eat.  Royce and Erin selected a menu of hawaiian chicken, macaroni and cheese, grilled vegetables, salad, and dinner rolls.  Appetizers of artichoke spinach dip with pita wedges and meatballs were also passed while the bridal party and family gathered for pictures.

Royce and Erin played nice when it came time to cut and serve each other cake.  Not a single crumb was smeared on faces or clothes.  Compared to the nervous energy just prior to the ceremony, they both  were looking much more calm and relaxed at this point in the evening.

When it came time for Royce and Erin's first dance, we were all impressed by their choreographed routine that they had learned in dance lessons.

Mom was surprised when they she was called onto the stage for a mother and son dance.  There was laughter as Royce explained that learning a single dance was a large enough task, and thus impromptu moves sufficed for his dance with Mom.

After a night of celebrated with friends and family, it was time for the newly wedded to make their exit.  We cheered them on with a sparkler farewell as they made their way to the stretch limo.  Their destination for the evening was the Westin in Atlanta.  In the morning they will set out on their honeymoon at the Dreams Resort in the Dominican Republic.

Now, as I write this, it is Saturday morning and it's hard to believe that the wedding festivities have come to an end already.  Fortunately, Royce and Erin have an entire lifetime ahead of them to celebrate and enjoy together.  I'm so happy that my brother has found the girl of his dreams and know that they will continue to bring out the best in each other.  I love you both immensely!  Enjoy soaking up every ray of the Dominican sunshine!