A close call with Cujo

I had a run-in with a Cujo-wannabe tonight. I was on mile 5 of what was going to be an 8-mile run, but I cut it short to 6 miles because apparently adrenaline doesn't sit so well.

I was running in relative darkness, when the neighbor's dog got loose and came barreling at me from his front door.  Since it was so dark, I couldn't tell exactly where he was, but I could hear the leash on the pavement. I reached for my hat light (thanks Michelle!!!)  and turned it on, just in time to see his jaws looking pretty much like this picture and coming right for my face. I was screaming at him to "Get Back,"  The light distracted him for a split second and I chucked my hat towards his owner and he went after it and his owner was able to grab him.  Two other smaller ankle biters were still on the loose and circling and yapping. 

Similar hat light
The owner had the audacity to ask if the dog scared me. Umm.. yes.  A dog's teeth coming toward my jugular scares me.  I was able to grab my hat off the ground and then took off.  I'm considering carrying mace now.  I'm a dog-lover and would hate to do that to one, but I would have no regrets at that moment.  I seriously thought I was going to be headed to the ER.  Animal chases and stupid drivers are the reasons I don't wear headphones while running outdoors anymore. I just put my iPhone in the armband and leave the speakers on low.  You can definitely hear things a lot better. If I had headphones on, I wouldn't have heard that dog until it was too late. 

Run safe, my friends!

USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships 2010 Report

Pre-Race:  Checking out the swim
What an amazing experience!  I can't say enough about how exciting it was to compete at the National Championships.  I'll preface by saying I was way over my head in competing there, but I knew it going in, so I decided to "race my race" and just enjoy the experience!

The 11+ hour drive from Texas to Alabama in a small SUV with 4 adults and a 2-year old actually went really well.  My 2011 Kia Sorento (love my new car!) was packed to maximum capacity, but was styling with my USA Triathlon sticker and bike on the back.

The set-up was just awe-inspiring.
Made you feel like a world-class competitor!

Since we left on Thursday, we weren't rushed to get to anything on Friday.  We got up, had breakfast at IHOP and then headed down to the University of Alabama to check everything out.  The USA Triathlon crew was busy setting up and everything about the venue was absolutely first-class.  It's amazing the difference some printed fencing and some American flags can make at an event! Walking down to the swim start area, I seriously started to tear up.  How crazy is that? I guess I still couldn't get over that I was privileged enough to be able to participate.  Heck, I learned how to swim freestyle just over a year ago.  And here I am, going to be racing on the same course as our future Olympic athletes. Who would think that at age 34, I'd be able to ever compete in a National Championship?  So, definitely humbled and giddy like a school girl.

Athletes were out everywhere.  Running, swimming, biking... it was a cluster of activity. Again, very cool.  I was wanting to be out there with them, but I had mommy duties.  After walking around for awhile, we headed to the packet pick up early, which was a great idea.  The line had already started forming.  I found my teammates: Mike, Susie, Josh and JoBeth and we picked up our stuff.  And, I'm talking awesome schwag.  A combo cooler/ mesh bag with the USAT Nationals logo on it, a nice v-neck (women specific!) tech shirt and it was stuffed with tons of samples, a visor hat light, an embroidered USAT running hat and more.  Yankz! was there and were handing out a free pair of laces.  I bought a Nationals t-shirt and sweatshirt and then we headed out to the Children's Discovery Museum to let my 2-year-old daughter run some of her energy out.  She had a blast there!  Wish we had something like this closer to home!
The finish line- Pretty impressive!

We headed back to the hotel to pick up the bike and take it down to the bike check in. We made the mistake of following what USAT said to do and my mom and I ended up walking over a mile to drop off the bike. It was hot out.  Way in the upper 90's and pretty high humidity.  It was about 4pm and we were burning up.  Got the bike in and luckily we were able to get picked up, so we didn't have to walk all the way back. 

We then headed to the Longhorn Steakhouse for dinner with my teammates and then back to the hotel to turn in early.  

Race morning I was up at 4am, showered and applied my race number tattoos (Pic below).  I was surprisingly calm.  Everything was accounted for and organized, so we were able to get to the race site with no problems. Brian drove my mom and me and then headed back to the hotel to stay with the munchkin and my dad who was watching her.  I was at transition right when it opened, and got everything set up and then just walked around a lot with my mom and stretching.  We did a lot of people watching.  There were a lot of older competitors.  Men and women in the 60+ age groups, which I think is just awesome. I hope that one day I can be one of them!  

Me, JoBeth, Mike &Susie pre-race in
our Team Fit-N-Wise jerseys
The morning seemed to go slowly.  Met up with my teammates to wish them all luck and then watched the first swim waves take off. There was a 20 minute break between the first 4 waves and then 4 more and I was walking down the ramp.  The water was bath water perfect with barely any current.  As I was holding onto the dock with my fellow purple-capped competitors, the leg of the girl next to me rubbed up against mine. She hadn't shaved in like a week!  Ewww!  It was so gross.  And, then it happened again.  Almost said something of a funny nature, but decided against it.  They counted down until 10 seconds and then at 8am, the air horn blew and we were off.  Lots of bumping, feet and flailing arms.  I didn't panic. I just went for it and tried to avoid getting my goggles kicked off.  I got into a rhythm quickly and never felt like I was struggling for a breath. A little while after, the swim champs from the wave behind me passed me like a dolphin being chased by a killer whale.  Two strokes and the guy just glided by.  Holy ..wow.  

I tried not to let it bother me and just kept swimming.  The longest section of our race was heading East, so we had the morning sun right in our eyes.  It was hard to spot the buoys and I passed one of them and didn't realize it until a few strokes later.  I was swimming straight, though, so was happy with that. Getting out of the water, I tried to stand up a couple of times and it was still too deep.  So, that wasted some time. 
Drool-worthy bikes
I saw my mom cheering as I headed into transition which was great! :)   The transition was a ways away ...up some stairs, around the corner and then into the sea of bikes.  I spotted my sunglasses on the ground grabbed those, got my shoes on and was running my bike out of transition when I realized I didn't have my helmet on!!  What? How does that even happen?  I leaned my bike up against another rack and ran back to find my helmet.  It was about 2 bikes from where I was originally racked. Grrr..  Went back to my bike and it had fallen over.  Great. Out went all of my water from my aero bottle and I only had one spare bottle.  I was so rattled coming out of transition I hit a cone with my back bike tire and sent a volunteer jumping out of the way.  I did yell out "sorry."
Transition set-up. The guy in the black was heading to
Kona after this.  Sure, isn't everybody??
The bike course was demoralizing.  I got passed unmercifully.  And, I was so thirsty. I tried to ration my water and all I could think about was wanting more.  I tried to keep my spirits up. I had a couple of competitors tell me they liked the Texas emblem on the back of our jersey, which was cool.  A little shocked they could make it out clearly since they were whizzing by.  About 1/2 way through the first loop, I saw one of my teammates walking back with her bike. I yelled to see if she was ok and she said that her back tire wouldn't spin.  I felt so bad, I wanted to giver her my bike because she had a great chance of placing in her age group. But, I knew that time lapse was over for her. On my second loop we went back past where the run course was and there were so many people on the course and I could tell that the bike course was thinning out.  I kept pushing onward and staying vertical was the plan!  I saw my mom & dad on the second loop and they were so excited to catch me. I think they thought they missed me.  
Pic with mom.  She's been at every race
and always my biggest supporter!
Love you mom!
Transition #2 went much smoother.  Heading out to the run course, I quickly became aware of how hot it was out there. I had my running water bottle and used the water from the aid stations to pour over my head. Ahh... glorious water!  The run course had a couple good hills as well and I was keeping a pace slower than what I had hoped for, for the first three miles. Once those were out of the way, I ran a lot faster. At mile 4, someone had left a Diet Dr. Pepper can on the side of the road.  That was so evil.  I counted the miles down and couldn't wait to get to the finish line to see the family.  I finished with a smile on my face as the announcer stumbled over my last name. 

So, overall, I've decided that the final results aren't that big of a deal. I went out there and had a personal best time for an Olympic.  I was able to finish the race, when there were lots of people who did not. I had fun. I love this sport and will continue to learn and get better.  I have plenty of room for improvement and while I don't plan on racing a National Championships again any time soon, I had an amazing time and am so thankful for my family and friends who were there to support me and track me online and send me congratulations texts after the race and messages on e-mail and Facebook!  Thank you!!

Packet p/u with dad, mom & daughter
Thought this was a cool monument.
Roll Tide! Campus and they're very
proud of it. The campus was gorgeous
and the stadium was amazing!

Purple wave

Team Fit-N-Wise at our pre-race dinner
Applying the temporary race
number tattoos

Several big-screen TV's were set-up to
capture all of the action

Josh, JoBeth and me
Mike's wave in the water...
getting ready to go!
Just a pretty shot of the river. 

Off to Tuscaloosa for USAT Nationals!

Sorry, I've been out of the Blogging loop for a little bit.  The month of September started off with one of my best friends visiting me from California.  We went down to San Antonio and had an awesome time.  Then the next week consisted of my birthday, my dad's birthday - those festivities and catching up with work for the time that I took off the week before.  So, basically in two week's time, I swam a whopping 2 times and went for one measley 4 mile run.  Pathetic. 

That lack of training reared it's ugly head when I had an Olympic-distance triathlon on September 12.  I actually look decently happy in this finishing photo.  Must have been because I was well-rested from WALKING half the run course.  It was disastrous for me and a big blow to my tri-ego.  I love the Wise Tri Triathlon, though. And, I was going to finish it - regardless.  My legs felt like lead on the swim, I threw up after my pulse shot way up going up a hill on the bike course and then what started as a good run, just spiraled downhill like a runaway rollercoaster.  Good times.  Sadly, I still came in 2nd in my age group.   It was a small group. Bygones.

So, needless to say the Wise Tri was my kick in the pants to get focused for the USA Triathlon Age Group Nationals.  Yep, I'm headed to Tuscaloosa to compete in the 30-34 age group on Saturday. Yay. Exciting!  I wish I had spent more time focusing on the Olympic distance training now.  I started out with a half iron and then my head got wrapped around the idea of an Ironman and I  lost sight of really focusing on training for this.  My head is still focused on Ironman Texas.  But, I shall go to Nationals and have a great time.. soak up the experience and be able to say "I did it." 

There are six of us from our little area of Texas going and I'm so proud of all of them.  Laura actually just finished competing at Worlds in Budapest, Hungary two weeks ago.  So. Freaking. Awesome.  Anyway, I know the rest of my teammates are going to have a fabulous race and maybe I can even turn in a PB- even though that's not promising much.  :) 

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