Monday, March 30, 2009


Just lately, life has been running at tempo rather than the adagio pace I prefer. I don't mind it, which is good because now that uni is in full swing and I persist in persisting with my mad endurance sport hobby, things won't be slowing down any time soon. I do prefer more pauses in a day, and less housework after dinner, oh well. Despite the volume and intensity, Masters-level study is great - after all those years of theory theory theory it's finally super-practical and relevant. I can picture myself doing this stuff!
I had the best day yesterday. I slept in a bit then went for a run, zoomed into the shower then off to church, then had lunch and a nap then spent the afternoon on the front step in the sun drinking tea and reading 50 marathons in 50 days that I got for my birthday. Of course now that means my 'study breaks' today will be spent washing dishes and stuffing washing in the machine and hauling it out to the line and back in again before the idiot dogs chew it. These things happen.
Exciting news - my darling peugeot hatch has finally reached the beyond-practicable-to-repair stage, so I've bought a (sort-of) new car! It's a 2007 Renault (another French car, what was I thinking?) with under 20k on the clock, much better than we thought we'd do with our budget. It's a snazzy pale gold colour called champagne, which is very apt for me *beams* I'll pick it up on Tuesday night. I can't actually picture myself in a sedan, and the soft clutch will take a bit of getting used to after driving a sports setup for so long, but I'm sure I'll manage LOL.
In other good news, the Grand Prix is over and the footy season has started, rather well as it happens. There's one more race this weekend to wrap up the triathlon season, which will be good fun if the weather holds. Then I can start to get my breath back!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Sorry if this is a bit garbled but I'm going to be super busy this week & most likely won't have time to post. I just wanted to make sure I always remember how happy I feel at this moment.
Today's race, with its decent swim, good bike and fairly tragic run, was brought to you by this quote from John 'the Penguin' Bingham's book The Courage to Start:
"we need to spend less time worrying about doing things well and more time rejoicing that we are doing them at all."
Ten years ago I walked with a cane and hoped I'd get better from from chronic fatigue syndrome if I didn't give up. My friend A still struggles to recovery from CF. Two years ago I'd just trashed my ankle and didn't know I was facing a reconstruction. My friend M would have loved to be out there today but can't race this season for medical reasons. I kept thinking of these things today, and of a comment Nancy once made: this is a get to do, not a have to do. I get to do triathlons with my strong healthy body, and you can't wipe the grin off my face.
Today I got third place - out of four!! (I hope your knee gets better soon, Jill) - and took out the series Athena championship. So far this season I've done six sprint triathlons, two Olympic distances and two ocean swims. It's been one of the best summers of my life! Special thanks are of course due to the Spousal Unit and Noddie for being the best cheer squad a woman could wish for *mwah*
Take it from me, kids: never, ever underestimate the power of optimism, perseverance and good friends.

Life is wonderful
So are good people. So is swag!(click and have a look - mine is red!)
More anon, blessing-counters!
And bring on Geelong!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Letting it go

Category leaders in the triathlon series I am doing have been invited to participate in their own wave, immediately following the elites. I am the leading Athena (70kg+ women. The male equivalent is Clydesdale, 95kg+) because I have raced more times than anyone else. My 40-point lead comes from gutting out two duathlons (yuck) on my own in the rain. Let's be honest here - I am big, and strong and determined, and I Am Slow. The thought of lining up with the skinnyfasts makes my stomach churn. Last summer I copped a huge amount of stick on a tri forum for campaigning that the Athena category should be included, or indeed that it should even exist. Anonymous, venomous nastiness about my weight and my fitness and my character. I know it came from a tiny minority and most triathletes a) are very encouraging or b) couldn't care less, but there have been times when the echoes of that hatefulness have made my hands sweat. I haven't let that experience stop me racing and I don't know why I am so apprehensive now.
Ok I do.
I'm afraid of scorn and judgement and people thinking that I don't belong on the course or deserve my podium. I'm afraid of what other people think. I'm afraid I don't deserve it.
Did I just write that?
*thoughtful pause*
You know what? It's easy to say (as J has, bless him) that I shouldn't worry about what other people think, and that the opinions of strangers don't matter. It is true, but it's not so easy to do.
However, we here at Chez LBTEPA are all about Doing the Hard Things and also Utterly Gratuitous Capital Letters.
All that #$% happened more than a year ago. It's been in my head for too long. As of now I'm officially Over It. I Hereby Let It Go.
* visualising screwed-up bits of paper with mean writing on it, floating out of sight on the wind* I'll be lining up in the series leader wave on Sunday. I earned my points and my podium and my prize and I'll be taking them. So there.

More anon, goddesses!
BTW, I don't think I am fat. I am happy about my body and what it can do. I am LBTEPA and I am fabulous

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Race report: Victorian Olympic distance championships

Rating: Very Pleased

There were many possible titles for this post
- it's better to fear pain than to fear failure
- training is cheating
- you call THEM jellyfish?
- enjoy every minute
- expletive deleted hills (I need more gears)
- the great sock disaster of 2009
- you’ll have to work harder than that to beat me!
- It’s not meant to be fun

Worry about the training I haven’t done this summer kind of hummed underneath everything during the week before the Victorian Olympic distance tri championships. The trouble was, I knew I could finish anyway – it was just a matter of how slow would I be and much would it hurt. This time last year I didn’t know that. Is it better to fear pain than to fear failure? Conclusion: yes.
I enjoyed the pre-race carbo dinner more than I did last year – for a start, the guest speaker was hilarious! Everyone was teeny and lean and scary looking (yes, I have issues! You knew that!) but I hugged memories of my two previous Olympic distance races tightly and they warmed me a little bit against the cold fear and doubt. Later that night, though, I was just about hyperventilating with terror. On the way in the door I said to Mum that I couldn’t do it, it was too hard, I was too old, too slow, too fat, too lazy and triathlon was a stupid sport anyway. She, bless her, just offered me an alarm clock so I wouldn’t sleep in. The Spousal Unit asked me why I did it at all if it was so awful? Wasn’t it supposed to be fun? I didn’t have an answer for him then but I worked it out next day. More on that later.
You have to walk along the river to the swim start. On the way I got chatting to a lovely bloke about how as a spouse, parent, student, employee AND triathlete, we have to deal with racing when our other priorities have meant that we haven’t done ‘enough’. While we strolled along, this obviously highly intelligent bloke made a Very Good Point, viz: EPO and other performance enhancing drugs are cheating because they give some people an unfair advantage. Training enhances performance too. Therefore people who train a lot are actually cheating. Fair play is important to me so I felt much better at once.
We slid into the cool brown river hmmmmahhhhh so nice…..A few la-las were making a fuss about the small number of teeny tiny non-stinging jellyfish floating about. As my five faithful readers will recall, I am oblivious to anything less than shoals of the creatures the size of my thigh so I sniggered to myself and enjoyed the last few moments before It Was On. It’s always hard to concentrate on working hard in the swim when there’s plenty of room and the surroundings are beautiful but I did my best and put it away in 26.49. Noddie and Mum were having a lovely time yelling and cheering me on. I decided not to wear socks during the ride – but then I was just about to get Minerva off the rack and realised I hadn’t put my shoes on either! Major DOH! There’s a reasonably steep rise at the beginning of the ride which is a good ‘get your head into it’ start. After that, before theHill Of Doom, there’s a stretch of quite rough bitumen which is a bit disheartening to the easily disheartened, i.e. moi. Luckily I’ve learned that disheartened = agitated = A Bad Time in more than one sense. My five faithful readers knowthat I am quite adept at conjuring Cheer The Heck Up for Goodness’ sake strategies out of thin air – but my friends, my friends! Sunday’s was the best ever. Want to know my secret to a good race? Shal I tell you? All right then…...I decided to enjoy every minute.
It was that simple.
Enjoying every minute meant I never fell into the complaining/despair death-spiral. Enjoying every minute kept me from focussing on my quads and my glutes and, um, how can I put this? how much I’d have appreciated waterproof chamois butter ow ow ow and how everyone I’d beaten out of the water whizzed past me on the Hill of Doom as though we were in some weird time-slip sci-fi movie. If I may digress, though, this year the elites didn’t lap me until the 17km mark, a pleasing improvement on last year *beams*. Enjoying every minute also meant that I had about fifty seconds every minute left over to bitch and complain and moan. Perfect! Then I’d chortle at how hilarious I was, and keep riding.
It’s really hard to explain what it’s like in my head during an endurance event. It’s as though there are two LBTEPAs. The first is grit-her-teeth competitive, concentrating on technique and form and breathing and nutrition and Going Hard. The second is happily vague, oblivious to weather and hurt and shortness of breath, looking at the scenery and generally having a lovely time. In shorter races the former tends to dominate, but in longer events I am learning to almost retreat to that happy place and let Keen LBTEPA do her thing. Nuffy LBTEPA’s most important job during the ride is, of course, to Not Think About the Run. There’s a little pinch hill (aka short steep leg-burner mofo) right before you get back into town. Last year I slogged up it. This year I got up out of the saddle – yes, you read correctly! – and powered up it! On both loops! *pause for wild applause*
Another digression: after the race, my dad (a very good cyclist) looked at Minerva and did a double take. How did you get around there with only that many gears? You need more gears! Once I recovered from the (sort of) compliment, I passed this on to the Spousal Unit. I believe the Mothers’ Day present fairy is on the job.
Alas, it is now time to recount the great Sock Disater of 2009. I brought the Wrong Socks. They look very like my Good Racing Socks, which was how they were able to deceitfully pass themselves off as their brethren, but they are a bit too big. They don’t go on quickly, especially when you’re in a hurry and your hands are shaking a bit. If stuffed on in a hurry, the right one bunches up under your toes. Yes, my five faithful readers, you do well to gasp in horror. They bunch up. The day was warming up, my feet were already a bit damp, I had 10km to gut out and there would be a Krakatoa of a blister on the ball of my foot if this pedalian saboteur was not sorted out. I tried to wriggle it back into place as I ran but that didn’t work. There was nothing for it: after a couple of kms I had to stop althogether, untie my shoe and re-adjust my sock. Bugger! Ah well, preparation is part of triathlon. Live and learn, eh?
I met Pete B during this race last year. He’s 65 and a Spartan Legend and razzed me big time about coasting the downhills during the ride. We’ve chatted all summer at various tris and I knew he was racing. I was wondering where he had got to – could he have outswum me? I hadn’t seen him on the road – when, shortly after the sock fiasco had been resolved, he came into sight about 100m behind me. It Was On. Last year he was affected by the heat, but it was much milder today. I knew he’d catch me eventually but by crikey he was going to have to work for it. When he runs, Pete breathes with a distinctive hoo, hoo sound. We were by ourselves on the path along the backwater and I could hear it, getting closer and closer. Bring it on, old man, I grinned to myself, and I ran on. Through the flash housing estate we went. There was nothing but Hoo, hoo, and the slap slap slap slap of our feet on the footpath. I thanked all the marshalls and so did Pete. I was holding grimly to 7min kms, and km by km he was reeling me in. As we turned to run along the river I spoke to the marshall that guy behind me’s name is Pete – tell him he’ll have to work a bit harder to catch me!I never looked back. On and on I ran. It was like a dream. I didn’t want to blow up with 4km still to run and I didn’t want to leave anything in the tank, and I wasn’t quite sure how to manage it. It was beautiful by the river, which was good because I was starting to hurt. Form, balance, breathe….hoo, hoo....aha, here he comes, good on you Pete *grin*. In the distance I could see the swing bridge – and there were Mum and Noddie, screaming encouragement. I was so happy to see them! Pete put on a surge there and passed me just after we crossed it. Two and a half km to go… He took longer than I did at the drink station, and I caught him again. The run course goes past transition, which is rude, then up a very steep footpath, which is even ruder! I walked up it and so did Pete. Two km to go. We ran side by side along the street where my parents live. Mum and Noddie had left us the best surprise outside the house! Side by side we ran, around the corner and past the paddocks, around the next bend. One km to go... and the last hill, a short steep little mind-#$%*er of a thing. I started up it, then cracked. I had no 'vertical' left. I had to walk. A few steps later Pete said a rude word and did the same. Mum told me later she thought we were waiting for each other. We weren’t. It was still So On. It was great. I started to run again and so did he. I wanted to throw up. I wanted him to sprint away so I could cave. I wanted that finish line more than anything I’ve ever wanted in my life. We were laughing (as well as you can with no spare air) as we went around the last corner, side by side. A hundred metres to go, neither of us giving an inch, throwing it all at the line for 126th place. The announcer saw us coming and started yelling like mad; the skinnyfasts sitting on the ground waiting for the presentations cheered and clapped. Could I take Pete? Did I have anything left? Did he? With twenty-five metres to go, somehow, somewhere I found a little bit more… and I was done. 3.28.21. Eight minutes faster than last year, and eight seconds outside my Olympic distance PB. That’ll teach me to bring the right socks. Pete and I hugged ewwww sweaty said Noddie and laughed and thanked each other for a great run. He's a legend in every sense.After trudging up the hill again noooooo! and shouting my faithful Sherpas to fish and chips, I fell like a stone into a deep pool of sleep and it was all over. The whole thing is like a dream now, a dream that makes me smile and walk taller when I think about it.
When I spoke to the Spousal Unit on the phone that evening I had an answer to his question. It's not meant to be fun*. It's meant to be satisfying, in the way that things that take effort and focus and guts are satisfying. And I am satisfied. I took my fears and issues and my not-enough training and my imagination and dreams and heart and I threw them at that race. I did better than I thought I could, and I had a great day - including a lot of fun - with people I love and admire.
I have hung the sign Mum and Noddie made in my study.
More anon, philosophers!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Bairnsdale Olympic Distance tri: done

After I'd ridden up and down those EXPLETIVE DELETED hills for nearly two hours, I didn't care that Pete is sixty-five and has run every single Melbourne marathon. I was going to make him work hard to beat me into second-last place.Thanks so much Mum and Noddie for being the best Sherpas ever *mwah!*More anon, ardent desirers of a long nap.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

LBTEPA vs the NGE fairy

I was right - the BRW tri was a hoot! You have to rack your bike the day before, which is a pain because it’s more than an hour’s drive from our place when there's traffic. But it was fun to be part of the buzz of a whole footy oval covered in bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, fully sick carbon bikes with disc wheels... Noddie and I had a dip in the bay too. Ever the optimist, I stopped at a triathlon shop on the way to look for a new top - and found one! The womens’ sizes were of course ridiculously small, but the mens’ XL was too big! The L was just right – not too loose to be a pest in the swim, should I take the plunge sans wetsuit, and long enough to cover the muffin top during the obligatory finish arm-raise! Thanks to the unexpectedly nice staff at SBR they must have got some new people since I was there last and thanks to Orca! Now make some in fetching chick colours and I’ll really approve of you. I met our third team-mate on Saturday as well, the fast, pretty, slender B, who was also funny and charming and works for a charity….yes I have issues. You knew that. Don’t judge me. It didn’t help that M was boasting up on me big time, going on about how I was Athena series leader and did half-marathons etc etc…it all just fuelled my impostor! You shouldn’t be here! neuroses. Damn PMS
Race day began at 1.00am and then again at 3.45am when poor Noddie had nightmares. That last hour of sleep would have come in really handy had it actually happened, sigh….. and maybe I wouldn’t have forgotten my transition towels and had to go back to get them. I reckon I rummaged in my bag for helmet, bike shoe, bike shoe, running shoe, running shoe, ok, I’ve got everything about a dozen times on the way there…but I’d definitely packed my thermos of tea so all was well. Clearly I hadn’t had enough tea though – I met B and G at our bikes; while they were all chatty and perky I felt sluggish and dopey and could barely form a coherent sentence. There were so many people milling around! In the drizzly half dark it was like a city of ghosts, lycra-clad ghosts exuding a faint air of panic. We set up ‘base camp’ (my picnic rug) at the back of the finishing grandstand, prime real estate when trying to keep track of each other over the day and to watch the finishers. When we went down to the beach to cheer B off, I still felt sluggish and stupid, but managed to appreciate the many fine, fine athletes galloping from the beach back to transition. All I felt like doing was sleeping so I went back to base camp for another cuppa, until M tactfully pointed out that I didn’t have long before speedy B got back. I heaved myself up and staggered down for a warmup swim, then squeezed into our transition corral. It was just nuts – thirty or forty anxious triathletes all jiggling from foot to foot, craning to see their first runner coming and yelling crazily when they did. Here came B! Fifty-five minutes! She smoked it! That was when I started feeling anxious and inadequate. The not-good-enough fairy was riding with me and try as I might I could not scrape her off.
The swim was argy-bargy and biffo from start to finish – don’t suddenly start doing breaststroke, don’t cut me off, mate, and stop hitting me! - but my stroke rate was up, my elbows were up and my blood was up. Grrrrrr! There was a bit of a side sweep but at least that meant I wasn't getting kicked. I rode a nice swell into the beach, whee!
This event should be called a runathlon with a bit of swimming and riding thrown in. It was at least 400m from the handover corral to the beach, then we had to run back the whooooole length of the the oval, then halfway back again to my bike, then run with the bike to the mount line….you get the picture I am sure. Thank goodness I’d taken the no-wetsuit option; I’d have suffocated running that far in neoprene.
M told me the thing she likes best about the BRW was that you actually get to pass people on the bike (she, like me, tends toward the back of the field), and oh, she was right! Of course there were the pointy-helmet disc-wheel people (and many many others) who zoomed past me like I was glued to the road, but I’m used to that. Mary’s wise words They’re pushing their envelopes, I’m pushing mine soothed me once again. My aim was to keep my pedalling cadence up as high as I could, just go as fast as I could the whole way, and worry about the run when I was running. That b#$%* not-good-enough fairy messed with my head during the ride. I was too slow. I was letting everyone down. Do it for M – she’d give her eyeteeth to be out here. Try harder. Ride harder. I got myself into such a state that I’m getting all blinky recalling it. Damn PMS.
The run from the dismount line to transition was so long that my legs were quite warmed up for the start of the run. For some reason I was very worried about running off while still wearing my helmet, but managed to avert that disaster. I took off like a very slow bat out of hell. Racing a lot has its advantages, I discovered: of course my legs hurt, of course I’m breathing hard, it’s all cool and it will be over soon. At one point, I was overcome with I’m so terrible at this I might as well walk, just once – and immediately, a bloke patted my shoulder and said 'keep running, you can do it!' So I did. I ran so hard I felt sick. It hurt. And I kept on going. Usually I use a “if you can’t keep it up, slow it down” policy – don’t walk, just slow down. Sunday was different. Team LBTEPA adopted a let’s see how long we can keep this up strategy. Just keep running I want to stop keep running I’m so slow I’m letting everyone down just count the lampposts, after ten you can walk for thirty seconds, I promise oooh there’s Nathan Buckley, hasn’t he kept in shape? keep running we’re nearly there, just keep running…
I ran and ran. I couldn’t see G in the handover corral and then there he was. Some swearing while I got the #$%& chip off and almost threw it at him and I was finished.
oh good I can stop running now
The Spousal Unit and Noddie were properly appreciative of how amazing I was, although J kept faffing on about active recovery and didn’t think I should get stuck in to the food until everyone had finished. Noddie took pity on me and gave me one of her sandwiches.

active recovery

G steamed home very impressively, the feast was, of course, magnificent (you’re a legend, M!) and the t-shirts were nice.

I was delighted to run across my friends EE and M in the partying crowd of lawyers and accountants. M had been cheering EE as he braved the waves before blitzing the bike and run, and they joined us at base camp for some more feasting. EE and G were so funny admiring each others’ new (fully sick carbon) bikes – incomprehensible component jargon flew thick and fast. I told Minerva not to worry, I still love her.
We went under three hours for the whole thing, which was great. B and G were thrilled; I was busy flicking the not-good-enough fairy off my shoulder. She'd been enough of a pain today. It was a long walk back to the car and when I got home I crashed like a stone for two hours.
Guess what? When the times were posted, it turned out I averaged 30km/hr for the bike, which is massive for me! *edit: bugger, my maths is as crap as my riding. The actual figures reveal close to my usual, ahem, speed.
Most fabulous of all, I ran SIX MINUTE KMS!!! That's a minute per k faster than my normal 5k speed! Take that, NGE fairy!
So there you go.

Ew sweaty

Now all I have to do is taper for the Olympic distance I'm doing this weekend....