03 October 2010

Green House, Good Life

I see you found the new URL. So...why "Green House, Good Life"?

As I mentioned, "Green House" and "Green, Green House" were both taken on Blogger. And, in the end, I'm fine with that. This blog is definitely about our house, which is green in both color and energy-efficiency. However, it's also about the life we live in and around the house. We are absolutely blessed to have a great life, and I love sharing those stories as well.

Today was my only triathlon of the season. It's hard coming back, not only because of the physical challenges, but also because so much goes into a successful triathlon. I've forgotten my pre-race breakfast and mid-race nutrition routines, was afraid I'd forget to pack one of the hundred necessary pieces of gear, and am out of practice making quick transitions from the swim to the bike and the bike to the run. I was prepared for a disappointing performance.

This was a small race, so multiple age groups were combined into each swim wave, which means that you can't tell by looking at the colors of swim caps how many of your age group are ahead of you. I'm definitely slower in the water than I used to be, but I was fairly satisfied with my swim. I had a relatively quick transition to the bike and started tackling the rolling hills, still out of breath from the swim but riding as hard as I could (and dreading the run, since my legs were already exhausted from yesterday's 10 miles in marathon training). I checked the age written on the calf of each girl who passed me and was relieved every time I saw an age group other than mine (although I was passed by a 62-year-old, which was sort of worse). But a mile or two from the end of the bike, a "31" wearing a fast-looking black and yellow tri suit passed me. I began an internal dialogue about whether I should try to keep up or whether she would just take off on the run anyway. As I caught up to and passed her on a downhill (or was it an uphill?), I said, "tell me you're lightning fast on the run so there's no point trying to keep up." She insisted that she's not a fast runner, but I didn't believe her...but I also knew that I was riding as hard as I could, so if she got away, she got away, and there was nothing I could do about it. I think she passed me again, and then I may have passed her again before the end of the bike.

For the last couple of years, I've used the advanced technique of leaving my bike shoes clipped into my pedals, running my bike out of the transition area in bare feet, hopping on the bike, and putting my feet into my shoes after I've gotten going. At the end of the bike, I take my feet back out, setting them on top of my shoes for the last couple hundred yards of the race, jumping off of the bike while it's still moving, and running my bike back to my spot. I'm pretty good at this, and I often have one of the fastest bike-run transition times of anyone in a race (important, as transitions count toward the total time, and seconds can make the difference). Today, I did a perfect "flying dismount," garnering cheers from the spectators and totaling 38 seconds to run my bike into the transition area, put it back on the rack, put my running shoes on (with special laces that don't need to be tied), grab my visor and race number belt, and head out the other end of the transition area. And running was indeed hard. And I wasn't fast. And it was getting warm, and it was going to be a long few miles. But about a minute in, "31" caught up to me and said, "See? I'm not fast," to which I responded, "apparently you are, since you're passing me." She explained that she pushed the pace to catch up because she doesn't like to run alone, and then she ran alongside me. We spent the whole run chatting and distracting each other from the discomfort of running. (You might think that I could have run faster if I hadn't been talking the whole time, but today I really needed her to take my mind off of my legs, which felt like lead, and I'm sure I ran faster with her than I would have without.) When I told her my name, she remembered it from race results because we frequently have similar times. Indeed, as we chatted further, we discovered that we were first and second place in our age group at this same race last year. We tried to figure out how many others in our age group might be ahead of us -- since we knew from last year that the top three would win a free entry into next year's race -- but we had no way of knowing if we might be contenders. At one point in the last mile, she said, "oh no," and I saw that another girl with "32" on her calf had run by. I took off to try to pass again, but 32 was too fast. When the last hundred yards or so came up, 31 (whose actual name is Justine) gave me some encouraging words and started her sprint, crossing the first timing mat just ahead of me...but that wasn't the actual mat, and I don't think she heard the person telling us that the next mat was the end of the race. So officially I beat her by a hair, but she really beat me...or we tied. It wasn't until the official results were posted that we discovered that 32 was the only person in our age group ahead of us, so we both won free entries. (When I got home, I looked up the detailed results online and found that we are so well matched that we also had the exact same swim time.) Thanks to Justine, it was probably the most fun I've ever had at a triathlon, and I'm sad my season started and ended in the same day.

Today was also a reminder of the sacrifices we made to be able to build the house. I missed out on a full year of serious training and racing. (Friends of mine have literally had babies and returned to racing faster. One friend actually won a big triathlon this spring while on maternity leave.) The accomplishment of hauling your body across 16 (or more) miles of the world, the feeling of finishing the bike and then the run without ever having caught your breath from the swim, and the happy ache of sore muscles afterward are like nothing else. I can't wait for next season to begin.

Good life indeed.


  1. Congrats - but I'm certain it can't have been the most fun you've had at a triathlon. That would be my honor... obviously.