Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Runners! Shit Or Get Off the Pot

I get asked  why I run in all kinds of shitty weather: extreme cold, snow, wind, heat, rain. And, why I run tough trails that involve grueling ascents and dangerous descents. It's not because I love every minute of it. It's because I can be slightly insane and I like a challenge. Also...

It makes me a better runner. 

When I go out in wind, I think, "The resistance is making me stronger." When I go out in heavy and deep snow, I think "I am using different muscles and this is making me stronger." When I go out in the extreme cold or heat I think, "This sucks balls. Why am I doing this? Oh, yeah, maybe it is making me stronger mentally."

It may sound weird, but to me running isn't meant to be all enjoyment. It is meant to be a challenge and a chance to improve performance and to become stronger. It's a chance to think about running form (I do this constantly when I run - Where are my feet landing? How is my posture? Are my arms pumping and at what degree? Does my butt look cute?). 

It's a chance to build a base that will ultimately help me to keep running until I am 94 (I am pretty sure they make running shorts with built-in Depends, If they don't I am inventing them so don't steal my idea. Let's face it, I could probably use those shorts in my life now).

Every single run here in Colorado over the past two weeks has been below freezing. I am trying to keep up my 30-35 miles/week routine until February or so when I will start building mileage for the TransRockies Run (120 miles/6 days). This has given me a lot of time to argue with myself about going out for a run. 

It's freezing.
So what?
I don't want to put on 100 layers.
So what?
I don't want to be cold for an hour.
So what? Is it going to kill you, you pussy?

What I've come to understand is that there are only two secrets to getting out and running in crappy weather.

1. Having the right gear
2. Having the right mind set

There are all types of crappy weather situations, but I'm going to talk snow and cold since that is my reality.

The Gear

When I first started running I had no clue what to wear in the cold. I contemplated a down coat. For real. I just didn't realize how warmed up you get when you run. It took me a long time to trust that, yes, I would warm up and that, no, I did not need as many clothes as I thought I would need. Here are the essentials:

Warm jacket. I have two jackets I wear when it gets below 20 degrees:

This one from Eddie Bauer (usually $129, now $77!):


And, this one from Target (I don't think they sell it anymore, I got it two years ago):


I put one base layer underneath, usually a long sleeve technical running shirt.

Tights:

I love these fleece-lined tights from Pearl Izumi. I only wear these when it is really cold (also under 20 degrees). My legs never get that cold, it is mostly my ass that suffers. 


Gloves:

I don't see the need for super heavy gloves because once my blood gets moving, it passes onto my hands. For the first mile or so, I have to ball up my fists within my gloves. Then they get warm and actually start to sweat and I can put them back into the fingers. I use these from Athleta (but I'm not sure they sell them anymore).



Hat: I wear a heavier hat form Columbia. I also have one from Eddie Bauer I like with a pony tail hole (see first pic above).

Socks: Last year I won these socks from Wigwam at a trail race. They have some wool in them and are a bit thicker. I also like that they go up above my ankle.  I love them for really cold days.

Shoes: On snowy days I will wear my trail shoes on the road for more traction. I have two pairs of these:

BTW, Lots of people have asked me about YakTrax. I was sent a pair of the "Run" YakTrax this year (they are lighter and mold really well onto our running shoes). My opinion on YT is that they are wonderful...but only for certain conditions. They will not keep you from slipping on the ice. They work best on snow that can be gripped onto (does that make sense)? I will only wear them if I know my entire route will be snowy, because I don't like using the YT on pavement because of the way the wires feel on the road/sidewalk. 


The Mindset

Let's get real. We all know that finding your motivation and successfully getting out the door is all about a shit-or-get-off-the-pot attitude. That's why I call this blog Shut Up and Run. I got so sick of hearing myself and lots of other people making excuses about why they weren't doing the things they wanted to do, so I came up with the name. Running, like anything else, is a DECISION. It's not an argument or a negotiation or anything else. You make running a part of your routine and you GO. That is all. 

Some pointers:

  1. Shut Up and Run. Did you think I’d start this list anywhere else? Stop being a baby. Provided you are not vomiting, wheezing, injured, or about to become injured, ditch the excuses for why you aren’t running and go do it. The longer you give your brain time to talk your body out of going for a run, the better the chances are you won’t do it. Don’t over-think things. Lace up your shoes and go.
  2. Take a Trip Down Memory Lane. Think of the last time you didn’t want to run but went anyway. Remember how you felt after the run. 99 out of 100 people say they feel better after a run and never regret having done it. Those are pretty good odds. The leftover person who did not feel better doesn’t count because they were probably lying.
  3. Spice It Up. There is nothing wrong with giving yourself a couple of incentives to get out there. Let’s face it, even if you really love to do something, you can have off days. That’s why there are books like “Adding Spice in the Bedroom.” So – add some spice to your run. Put a few new tunes on your iPod. Plan a small reward for yourself once you finish the run (Cinnamon Dolce Latte perhaps?). Wear a new piece of running clothing.
  4. Change Your Attitude. Listen you whiner, you get to run. There are many people who can’t even walk. There are some people, like babies, who can’t even crawl. Take a look around: half the blogging world is injured. Be grateful you can get out there and stop your bitching. Not that I would know anything about being injured.
  5. Take 10. If all else fails, give yourself permission to head out for ten minutes and to turn around if you cannot take another step because you are just that unmotivated. Something physiologically and mentally happens when you start to run. This transformation is so powerful and immediate that you usually want to keep running. Odds are you will not turn for home after ten minutes, but if you do, at least know you tried. Then email me and I will berate you for a half hour (JK).
Now get out there and don't be pussy your whole life.

Any other tips for getting out there in crappy weather?

SUAR


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

If We Were Having a Glass of Spiked Eggnog Together...

Let's pretend we are hanging out over drinks like long time friends. Here's what I'd say.

If we were having a glass of spiked eggnog right now (or chardonnay or craft beer or grain alcohol), I would tell you that my running has been a spotty suck-fest lately. Running in snow, ice and cold makes me want to punch people. I am not talking about the beautifully falling sweet snow, but the slushy, grey, dirty snow that takes over once the white fresh powdery stuff starts to fade. I suppose I deserve this for living in Colorado. It is my fault. But, it looked like this outside my back door this morning so whatever.


If we were having a glass or large mug of spiked eggnog I would tell you that my kids can never put their dishes in the dishwasher. It is that extra step that is truly impossible for them. Poor turds.Their lives are so hard and then I ask them to put their dishes away. I am a bitchy, horrible mother.

If we were sharing a large measuring cup full of spiked eggnog right now I would tell you that this time of year always reminds me of when I ruined Santa Clause for our next door neighbor kids. It was 18 years ago. I was young and naive (well, I was 30...) The neighbor dad came to hide a drum kit in the basement of our house so that he could come get it on Christmas Eve to give to his kids from Santa. Shortly after Christmas, I saw those young kids outside and said something really cool like, "Hey that was fun how your dad hid your drum set in our basement!! I hope you liked it!! Merry Christmas." I am an idiot. I don't think before I speak much of the time. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's offensive and sometimes it ruins children's lives.

If we were having a mixing bowl full of spiked eggnog right now I would tell you that my son, Sam, got into George Washington University this week on early decision. I am THRILLED for him in every way, except for two ways. One: my baby will be at GWU, which is exactly 2,568 miles from Longmont and two: how do these colleges get off raping you of all your money? How can anyone pay for college without selling themselves on the street? Hmmm...that would make for some good blogging material.

If we were having a bucket full of spiked eggnog right now I'd tell you that Heidi keeps going into my closet when I am asleep and playing dress up. Seriously, Heidi? Get a life.

Golden Retriever Swag

If we were sharing a 2nd bucket full of spiked eggnog right now (I don't even like eggnog. Why is this happening?) I would tell you that my favorite thing in the world is having my family all at home, in our pajamas, by the fire, drinking wine (well 2 out of 4 of us) and just being together. This doesn't happen enough, but when the craziness of the day ends and we are all here it makes my heart smile.

And, lastly...if we were sharing a couple mugs of spiked eggnog right now I would tell you to have a wonderful, spectacular holiday. I know I've been blogging less and less, but I am not going away anytime soon. Thanks for hanging with me.

Reminder: take in every minute of time with people who make your heart smile. We never know what is around the corner, so soak it up, love it and be PRESENT. No regrets allowed.

What would you tell ME if we were sharing a glass of alcohol (or club soda or whatever) together right now?

Cheers,

SUAR

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Stupid Ass Things I Do

I would blame the idiotic things I do on being too busy or overwhelmed, but the truth is I'm just not so bright sometimes.

First dense {as shit} thing I did this week:

I ordered our Christmas cards. We always do a picture card -  you know those cheap-o ones that everyone sends. I threw something together last minute and went to pick them up. I was pretty proud of myself for getting them done at all, you know with shopping and working and cooking and napping.

Don't be jealous of my fashion sense

As I opened the pack of 60 cards I noticed something strange. Can you catch it?



Yup. I did not change the default message. We are not the Walkers. We are the Risdons. There is no one in our family named Grace, Andrew, James or Cooper. I am sure they are very nice people, but they are not us.  I have 60 cards from not-our-family. I will send them anyways just to confuse people. Screw it. That's what Sharpies are for.

Next obtuse thing I did:

Person after person has been telling me to read the book The Boys in the Boat. It's not the kind of book that really interested me. I'm not deeply into rowing or historical non fiction or boys (<Thank God or that would be creepy).

But, I did break down and decided to read the book since when people like a book they pretty much shame you until you read the book. I loaded it onto my Kindle and got to work. I liked it pretty well, but kept wondering when all the boys were going to show up and start training for the US Olympic team. I read on and on, not at all understanding where the book was going and what it was about some little poor Irish boy. That's when I realized I was reading this:

The Boy in the Boat

Just so you know, the BOY IN THE BOAT and the BOYS IN THE BOAT are not at all the same book. You see, for the sake of people like me, there should not be books that have such close titles.

And the last dumb thing I did? I am stubborn as hell and as you know I hate the treadmill. When we got a half foot of snow on Tuesday, I didn't run:


But, yesterday I was damned if I would miss my run. I put on my Yaktrax and headed out.


 Not only was it 10 degrees but it was icy with lots of spots of deep snow. People, it took me 41 minutes to go 4 miles and I was exhausted. Not to mention that I almost broke my ass on the ice (that's why I have a crack in it!! Haha!!). Today I didn't want to be so dumb. I did not want to risk making my crack any bigger and maybe breaking bones so I did the unthinkable.

I dusted off our treadmill, which has not been used in over a year. I ran 5 miles on that piece of shit machine. I sweated. I ran in a sports bra.I did not love it, but I did it and it was better than the alternative.

What a lovely spot for a treadmill. Tucked in between the Broncos
cheerleaders poster and my 18 year old's man cave. It's a wonder I don't get on here more often.
There you have it. Confessions of stupidity. I would say it is because I am blond, but really I'm gray under all these years of highlights, so that doesn't count.

What's the last stupid thing you did? Entertain me please. 

SUAR

Friday, December 11, 2015

Party Time and a Sweet Giveaway You Do NOT Want to Miss


Last night we had Ken’s office Christmas party.

Eyes up here Walker Texas Ranger/Chuck Norris!

"Hey there's a booger in your beard"

Which one of these is a lie about what happened last night?


  • I got hypnotized
  • I got stuck in the bathroom stall
  • I wore underwear

(answer at the bottom*)

So…the holiday season is clearly upon us. I don’t know what to buy anyone anymore.

Everyone I know (well, most people) are almost 50 or over 50 and they have everything or they say they don’t want anything except world peace or some bullshit like that.  Okay, it’s not bullshit, it is a legitimate wish, but I don't want that answer when I ask what someone wants.

The thing is, gifts are supposed to be personal and thoughtful, right? So giving something like a gift card is basically like saying, “I don’t really know you at all so here is some money in the form of a card. Go shopping like you do all the time at the same place you go all the time. ” Don’t get me wrong. I actually LOVE a gift card because it feels like a treat, but you know what I mean. So, if you were going to send me a gift card, you still can!

I’m annoyed because I don't feel any of my gifts this year are very personal, funny or creative. I did get my nephew a fart machine, so that’s the best gift I have to offer (if you haven’t used a fart machine before you have not fully lived).

All of this to say, I have two gift ideas for you. Running related of course. Not only that, but I am giving away one of each of these.

1.  The “Live Fearlessly” bracelet from Momentum Jewelry. I adore this thing. It is a soft wrap bracelet with one of my favorite mantras. I simply like looking down and seeing this on my wrist. It makes me happy and it reminds me to be brave. There is a lot of other cool stuff on this site as well. MSRP: $18.99.

Don't mind my wrinkly wrist. I am part elephant.

2. The Timex Ironman Run x20 GPS Watch. In the day and age when all electronics have gotten so super fancy that they have become confusing, this watch gives you just the basics. Speed, pace, calories and distance.  This attractive and light weight watch (I love the lime, but it also comes in charcoal, bright blue and magenta) is perfect for the beginning runner or the runner who just wants the basics ma’am and an attractive price tag.  MSRP: $56.00 on Amazon.


I never miss a chance to have Heidi in a shot. My battery is dead. Clearly.

So, there you have it. Short and sweet. Want to win both? Enter below. US addresses only. Giveaway ends on 12/15, just in time to get it to you for Christmas! Or late for Hanukah! Or early for Martin Luther King Day! (scroll through with arrow to jump from one item giveaway to the next).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

SUAR



*I got stuck in a bathroom stall = lie

I was sent these two items for review and the giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Horrible, Terrible, Very Bad Run Is Better Than No Run At All

My body has not been itself this week.

Fatigue. Cramps. Farts (well, that’s normal). Loss of appetite. I knew I must be gearing up for the Parting of the Red Sea, the Surfing of the Crimson Wave and/or the Joining of the Cast of Pad Men. Yes, the old period. (<no, I didn’t make these up. Go HERE to see more hilarity).

Today I am 48 years, 9 months and 14 days old. Yet, I have not the slightest indication yet that this period business is ebbing. It just keeps flowing. I guess that is not surprising since the typical age for menopause is 51 years.

I’ve always sucked at keeping track of when she would arrive (<I’m guessing she’s a she. She has to be. A “he” would be creepy). I know it’s not difficult to count days, but I forget. Most of the time, my body doesn’t react too strongly to getting my period. The cramps are kept at bay and I am not regularly found screaming obscenities at drivers at school pick up even if they’re ass-hats. But, then there are some weeks where I’m begging for mercy.

This was one of those weeks. I can deal with the unpleasantries, but I HATE it when anything fucks with my running. Awhile ago, I did a post on how running affects your period. I can’t honestly remember what I wrote (I am 48 years and 9 months old, you know), but you can read it HERE. I think it was pretty interesting and I actually did quite a bit of research (<uncommon on this blog). I also read a great article this week about why your period can cause so much stomach upset. Read it HERE.

I had a few mediocre runs this week, figuring I’d put in some bigger miles on the weekend. Saturday morning I was still feeling particularly turd-like, but I thought a run would help. We barely made it to the trail head when I had to make a run for it (<even though I’d left the kids at the pool before leaving home. Another fun code phrase!):

IMG_5766

I thought all would be good after that, but nope. This was to a be an 8 mile run, cut short to a 6 mile run due to my frequent stops to jump off of the trail.  There was also mud and ice and on Saturday I actually kind of hated running. Yep, I said it. (This is mud, btw).

IMG_5765

Today was a new day and I thought I’d try for 10 miles on the road. I felt crappy pretty much the whole run, but I did it and I’m glad I did. I will be forever grateful to my favorite itty bitty store (Purple Door Market) exactly 2.3 miles from my house that put a porta potty out front. In fact, I purchased a time share.

IMG_5779

So cozy! And purple!

That is all I have to say. The point of this is that whether it’s your period or something else that derails your running, it’s okay. It always means that the next runs will be better or that they won’t, but you will still be running and that is the point.

In my mind, a horrible run is actually better than no run at all. Plus, the rest of the day I just did this:

IMG_5778

My slippers. Heidi taking up the whole couch.

And I WILL tell you something that made my weekend. I woke up to a text Saturday morning from my aunt in Maryland who did her first 5K yesterday at the age of 65. Now THAT put a smile on my face. Go Aunt Donna!

Do you get PMS? Does your period affect your running? When did you first get yours? I was 16!! Late bloomer. I am still waiting to get boobs.

When did you run your first ever race? Bolder Boulder 10K in 2000. Then I took a break for 8 years.

SUAR

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How to Prevent the Dreaded Ass-icle

I invented a new word this weekend.

Ass + Icicle = Assicle

This is a phenomenon that occurs when you are running in snow and 15 degree temperatures several days in a row and your butt (or at least mine) begins to numb, then freeze. Look! Your water freezes too!

IMG_5744

Does looking at this photo just make you cold? Well, it was.

IMG_5733

I always thought that since the butt (or at least mine) is mostly pure and lovely fat, it would keep me warm. But, I did some research (i.e., Googling “why does my butt freeze when I run?”) and found out this is SO not the case.

You see, fat may be a great insulator, but it doesn’t carry around blood like muscle does. Therefore, circulation is limited resulting in the dreaded assicle.

You cannot see it, but there is a block of ice between my lower back and my upper thighs.

IMG_5699

As you can guess, women are blessed with (as a stereotype) fattier asses than men (not fair, not fair at all), so we tend to freeze up more often. Ken never complains about his ass freezing. Never. But I did use this beard ice for my margarita later on.

IMG_5698

I am thinking deeply right now: I bet if Kim Kardashian ran in the cold she would have a monumental assicle. Just sayin’.

Ways to Prevent the Assicle:

  • Stay inside and watch Netflix
  • Build up extreme muscle in your butt (because this is SO very easy to do)
  • Wear an extra layer over your cheeks like a running skirt over tights
  • Run with a quilt tied around your waist
  • Wear a cycling jacket instead of a running jacket. They are longer (and have handy pockets in the back)

Yes, so it does take a bit more motivation and self talk to bundle up on these super cold days. But, the payoff? Peace, beauty and the honor of  labeling yourself a brave and courageous bad-ass. See my post HERE about tips for running in the cold.

IMG_5746

How’s the weather where you are? We are beginning to thaw out after almost a week of snow and bitter cold.

Do you get the assicle? If not, what part of your body gets the coldest while running? For me, it’s my face, my hands and my butt. My legs, core and feet are usually pretty warm.

SUAR

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

10 Tips to Shut Up and Run in the Cold

I don’t know why this happens.

Every year when it gets cold (let’s say below 30 degrees) and it starts to snow (let’s say a few inches) I’m an idiot. I cannot remember what to wear when I run or how to run in the snowy conditions. Yet, this is my sixth year of running through a Colorado winter.

P1110759

I hate being cold so much that I think during the warmer months I completely block out the possibility that it will get cold again. Yes, I could use the treadmill, but I don't because if there is one thing I hate more than being cold it’s running inside on Satan’s wheel while staring at a wall. Not gonna do it. (Unless it’s icy, then I will lay on the couch and eat Doritos).

So, I venture out. Like last weekend.

IMG_5660

This run began when it was 15 degrees. How do you dress for that? After spending way more time than I should of on the subject, I decided on warm tights, an Under Armour, hat and gloves. With the sun shining, that was about perfect. I expect to be cold the first mile of a run and then to warm up. I’d rather be cold for a few minutes than too hot for the whole run.

BTW, every single run I do when it’s freezing outside I have to give myself a pep talk about the fact that I will indeed warm up. I do have Raynaud's, which means I have terrible circulation in my feet and they turn yellowish/white when they get cold. It’s really pretty disgusting because feet are not supposed to be a yellowish white color. I also get icicle-ass where my butt turns into a large, fatty ice cube. Ah, the FWPs of winter running.

As we creep into winter, here are some tips to keep motivated despite the plunging temperatures:

1.  Be grateful: Stop your whining and remember that you can run. You get to run. There are many people too sick, disabled or injured to do what you are complaining about. Some people would kill to go just one mile in your frozen shoes. So, adjust your attitude fool!

2. Know that cold is easier than hot: Running in the cold can actually be less taxing on your body than running in the heat. Your body doesn’t have to work as hard to cool down and this can increase performance and energy.

3. Sleep in your clothes: If you are really desperate, sleep in your running tights and base layer. That way you don’t have to go through the extra step of getting undressed and dressed in the morning. You might get up easier, but I’m not promising this will do wonders for your sex life.

4. Get the right gear: Not only should you make sure you’ve got the correct cold weather gear for your climate (see HERE for some guidelines), but treat yourself to a new, fun, sassy running item (thongs might be inadvisable). Maybe this will make getting dressed and hitting the road a bit easier.

5. Have someone waiting on you: I’ve said it before, but there is almost no better motivation than to know someone or a group is waiting for you to show up for a run. Do you really want to be the pussy of the group?

6. Have a warm reward: Know that after your cold run, you will treat yourself to something toasty and warm like a latte, a hot bath or a cup of tea by the fire.

7. Remember the bad-ass effect: Not everyone runs when it’s cold outside. It takes stamina, balls and determination. Tell yourself that every car that passes you is impressed by your fortitude. You may be lying to yourself, but at least it can provide temporary motivation.

8. Know you’ll be less SAD: Research has shown that running in the cold can actually reduce symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Running can release feel good hormones that stave off depression, decrease anxiety and promote a general feeling of contentment.

9. Let your goal stare you in the face: If you are training for something, want to lose weight, or are simply just trying to stay in shape, write your goal down on a sticky note and put it on your alarm clock or bathroom mirror. Sometimes these little powers of suggestion can be the extra push you need.

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10. Sign up: There are all kinds of short races throughout the winter time – Peppermint Schnapps 10Ks and Freeze Your Ass Off 5 Milers. Sign up for one just to keep your head in the game.

Any other tips you’d suggest for running in the cold?

Are you a cold weather runner or do you head inside to the ‘mill?

SUAR

Friday, November 20, 2015

2015 Nevis Triathlon Race Report/Review

 {Warning: This is long. So was the race. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride}

Enough about the island (that post HERE). Let’s talk about the whole reason I went to Nevis – the RACE.

When I was invited to come to Nevis, I checked out the website for the race and saw that it was one of the most beautiful triathlons in the world. Sounds awful. I better go and check it out. 

The Nevis triathlon has two distances: a sprint (550 yard swim, a 20 mile bike and a 5K) and the long course, which was double (1,100 yard swim, 40 mile bike, 10K). I was like, well I am not going all that way to do a sprint, so I signed up for the long course. I mean, I’ve done two Ironmans (well, not in the biblical sense, but you know what I mean), so this seemed like a piece of cake.

Famous last words. Did I mention I hadn’t swam in a year or biked in months?

The day before the race we drove around the island. There is one main road and I would ride it twice. Sure it was windy and extremely hilly and hot and there was no shoulder and the roads were pretty rutted and everyone drove on the “wrong” side, but NBD, right? Let’s just go with the flow. Because I am such a laid back person. No Type-A here. <where is the sarcasm font? 

I didn’t have time to ship my bike, but was assured they would give me a bike to ride. The morning before the race I spoke to the bike guy and told him my height and that I’d like a tri bike. He said, “How about a hybrid?” I thought, hmmm…he must mean like a cross between a tri and a road bike –I’ve never heard of that, but he doesn’t mean like a hybrid, hybrid the kind you cruise around on, right?

At the bike shop some guy came out with a beautiful tri bike. YES! This was all going to work out fine. Until that guy took the bike and went away and the bike guy came out with this for me:

IMG_5540

I was a bit worried about the pedals not having cages and the sheer weight of the bike. I kept telling myself “You are in it for the adventure, who cares?” Plus, it had a sweet tool kit and pump. And reflectors!! Safety first.

Race morning dawned warm and beautiful like every day in Nevis. We got to the start and I set up my transition area.  To the right is Jane Hansom, pro triathlete, who just came in 2nd in her AG at Kona.  She and I are clearly very alike. Only she did not steal the green towel from the hotel like I did.

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Looks like a swell day for a swim in the Caribbean.

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Start/finish line.

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The race director, Greg, did the usual debrief. I asked a volunteer if there were bathrooms along the way. “Well, no, my love. You will just have to contain it or sweat it out.” Hmmm..hadn’t heard that one before. Clearly she does not know who she is talking to. Sometimes there are things that are hard to contain and sweat out, sweet lady!

We stood on the beach and with a “ready, set, go” ran into the water. The swim was uneventful. I saw a star fish on the bottom of the sea.  I would have dove down to get him but I was kind of in a hurry. To get on…

The bike started out well enough. Riding on the left side was odd. Don’t even get me started on the round about. I can’t even do those in the States on the right side of the road, not to mention on the “wrong” side of the road. I lived to tell.

I began the ascent on what is called the “Anaconda.”  This is about a 4 mile steep and winding hill. My gears were not cooperating and my feet were slipping off the pedals and there were 95 f-bombs dropped, but I made it to the top.

The reward was a sweeping view of the Atlantic and the Caribbean as well as cold blue Gatorade. I took a GU (I had fortunately stuffed two in my suitcase last minute…they were to be my only fuel for this race. AND I stupidly forgot my Salt Stick). Btw, I was WAY under fueled for this race. I usually take in 200 cals/hour on the bike and for this race I only had about 50 cals/hour.

As I rode along taking it all in, I was trying to ignore the fact that I had to do the Anaconda all over again and the fact that my legs were working REALLY hard to keep this bike cranking and to keep my feet on the pedals. I dodged the herds of goats and the wild donkeys. I knew the run was going to suck balls. But sucking balls in a beautiful place is better than doing it in an ugly spot, right?  After the first loop I checked my watch. It had taken me about 1.5 hours to go 20 miles!!!  Jane was probably already done with the entire race. Damn Jane.

Groundhog Day and let’s do the bike loop again. 8 miles from the bike finish some car behind me would not pass and kept trailing me. I waved him on for a couple miles then realized he was a police escort. WHY? I am not first, I am not last. I did not poop on the road and I didn't break any laws that I knew of. Unless the f-bombs were a crime. He followed me to the transition area, putting on his siren for the last mile. I was in a PARADE!

The last thing in the world I wanted to do was run. It was inching near 90 degrees and I was spent. I knew I would find a way to squeak out 6.2 miles, but I was in a bad mood about it. I started feeling sick and I had major chills, which I knew were a sign of dehydration. How was Jane doing? Oh, yeah. There she is coming into the finish. Go Jane.

By this time I had been out there for 3.5 hours. There was no shade and I could feel the heat coming off the hot asphalt. I took a couple of walk breaks and just tried to get through it, throwing water on my head every chance I got and talking to myself like a crazy person. With one mile to go, a police motorcycle came along side me to escort me to the finish. I’m surprised he could ride this slow. Again, on came the siren.

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I think he is going to run me over. Or, he’s checking out my ass.

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So glad to be done after 4 hours, 25 minutes.

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Determined face.

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Then, thrilled to find out I would win one of these for coming in third! Best prize/souvenir ever (even if security at the airport didn’t appreciate it). Three faces, one for each phase of triathlon.

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JANE!

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My first podium finish. Thank you Anaconda. Thank you blue Gatorade. Thank you police escort. Thank you Academy.

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After a shower, there were beers and burgers for all. And, lots of pool time.

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All in all, this was one of the tougher races I have done. For a variety of reasons. Climbing, heat, etc. It was also hands down the most scenic race I’ve done.

You should do this race if:

  • You like to combine a kick ass vacation spot with a race.
  • You enjoy a good challenge. This one is HARD.
  • You prefer smaller, more intimate races.
  • You like being warm (hello, no wetsuit!).
  • You are inspired by scenery and a continuous warm breeze. Mountains + water + palm trees + wildlife.

SUAR

Thank you to the Nevis Tourism Board for hosting me!

Thanks to Kevin Mackinnon (Triathlon Magazine/Canada) for the race photos!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Let Me Introduce You to My New Friend, Nevis

{In case you missed it, I took a last minute trip to Nevis this past weekend to do the Nevis Triathlon. First post is HERE}.

It’s just a small spot in the Caribbean. Easy to miss on a map and difficult to get to on a plane.  Yet, within this 36 square mile “spot” is a rich culture, an expansive history, and an unspoiled mix of white sand beaches, thick jungle and a dormant volcano – Mt. Nevis (3,200 feet) – visible from all spots in on the island of Nevis.

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The grounds of my hotel – the Nisbet Plantation and Beach Club. Cannot say enough about
how peaceful, friendly and comfortable this place is.

I began my journey to Nevis on a freezing morning in Denver, leaving my dark home at 3:00 a.m. to board a 6:00 flight. This was to be a 14 hour travel day for me, so I talked my brain into accepting the cramped seats, smelly toilets (to which I contribute on every flight. Not sure why flying makes me poop – nerves? altitude?), and the long security wait lines in exchange for a visit to what I had heard was paradise.

On any trip there are a thousand moments that grab you – if you pay attention. I try to travel with an openness to people and experiences (except when I’m tired and irritated. Then I just sleep). I don’t want to ever miss the chance to hear someone’s story or the chance to shift my perspective. Instead of highlighting differences in people, travel always makes me realize how alike we are beneath the many cultural and outward appearances.

Denver –> Houston. Houston –> Puerto Rico. All pretty uneventful.  Except for the people in 19A and 19B who did not know how to use their quiet, inside voices at 6am.

Then the adventure began to unfold. There is a moment when things shift when you travel. As you leave home you gradually shake off the place you left and begin to enter the world of the place you are going. It’s subtle, yet you know when you’ve joined a new realm and you have left behind your “other” life for a short time.

I searched for the ticket counter for my flight to Nevis on a small airline called Trade Wind. After scouring the airport with no luck, I finally saw a small sign. As I approached the empty ticket counter, the agent said, “Elizabeth?” First time I’ve ever been personally greeted by an airline rep or saw one smiling. She told me I wouldn’t go through security or need a boarding pass. Huh? I was escorted to a lounge with free drinks and snacks while I waited to board with three other travellers. Is this how famous people feel all the time? Well, non-famous people like me get boners over stuff like this.

We boarded the 8-seater flight for Nevis. 8:00 p.m. Dark, breezy, balmy. Not in Colorado anymore.

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A Nevisian woman, Raynice, and I became fast friends. There was a cooler of drinks between the seats and we grabbed a small thing of wine which we shared and chugged straight from the bottle while she pointed out all of the islands – St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Kitts – to me in the dark. She knew them all by their shape. She smelled good and I fell in love with her island accent. Can you guess which one she is?

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In Nevis I was greeted by Yvette from the Tourism Board. Yvette and I would be attached at the hip for the next two days.

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Okay, this is post-race. You can still see my number on my arm. #tiredeyes

Yvette took me to my hotel, the Nisbet Plantation, about a mile from the airport. As we got out of the van at Nisbet, I heard a sound I’d never heard before. Tree frogs. At check in I wiped away the airplane scum with a cool towel and sipped on a strong rum drink. Yep. I’ve arrived.

We walked down a dark, grassy palm-lined area to my cottage. I couldn't see much but I could FEEL the magic of the place and I could hear the waves crashing, the frogs singing, the breeze through the palm fronds. I was seriously giddy.

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My room. There was also a sitting area, mini bar, huge bathroom and patio.

Yvette and I had dinner on the beach. I told her I was tired and ready for bed. Then a live band started playing and the wine started flowing and, well, Yvette got tired and said goodnight and I stayed late and hung out with all of my new friends that I’d never see again. #travellife

I woke up late the next day and it was like Christmas morning. My room was dark, shutters closed, I could not wait enter into the life outside.

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See that other hill? That’s  St. Kitts. I would later travel on that zig-zag road from the beach to the airport

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I asked to be in a Corona commercial here, but no one hired me.

I met Yvette for a tour around the island. We would be driving the bike course and seeing some other historical sites and hotels. There is one main road that goes around Nevis that is about 20 miles. I would be riding that twice during the race, so I wanted to see what I was in for. Hills and incredible scenery is what I was in for. People always tell me that because I live in Colorado I must be really strong on hills. Not true. There are hills and mountains in Colorado. That doesn’t mean I choose to ride on them. There are also flat roads.

I learned that no cruise ships come to the island (too small) and no chains are allowed (with the exception of the Four Seasons – that is the only chain). I knew I loved this place. Wouldn’t be missing Chili’s and Red Lobster one bit.  Also, there are only a total of 400 hotel rooms.

We went to an old (think: 1700’s) sugar mill. Mmmmm…sugar.

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We had lunch at Sunshine’s on the beach. Mmmm….lobster.

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Look how tan I am. Those lobsters didn’t know what was coming. A very warm death bath.

People kept telling me I should try the “Killer Bee” drink at Sunshine's but that I probably didn’t want to because I would be racing the next day. Who are these people who clearly don’t know me very well? Bring on the Killer Bee (rum drink with passion fruit juice, sprinkled with nutmeg).

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Back to the hotel where I promptly fell into a deep sleep at the pool. The kind of sleep where your mouth is splayed open and a bit of drool rolls out onto your chin. Sorry, no picture of my drool, just the pool.

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That night I met up with the other three journalists on this trip with me (well, they are journalists, I am not sure what I am). Kevin Mackinnon who is the Senior Editor at Triathlon Magazine in Canada, Bob Taylor who writes for the Charlotte Observer and Nneya Richards who has a blog (‘N a Perfect World) and writes for Suitcase Magazine. I don’t have a picture, but they are all really real, not just my imaginary friends.

We got to bed pretty early as the next day Kevin and I had a little race to do in the morning.

Up next…Nevis Triathlon! Spoiler: I would find out there was a reason only six people (including myself) chose to do the long course.

Ever been to this part of the world?

SUAR

My trip was sponsored by the Nevis Tourism Board. All opinions about the island and the race are, of course, my own.