Tag Archives: humility

Race Recap: Greeley Sprint Tri

13 Jun

That was my face getting out of the swim.

Already, you can tell the race went well.

But let me back up. I did my second open water swim practice on Saturday afternoon at Big Soda Lake Beach again. This time, there was only one other (real) swimmer there using the lap lane so I didn’t have to worry about running into someone else. I put my pool tactics into practice and the swim actually went very well. I was swimming relatively straight and was relaxed. I {almost} panicked after my first length because I feared getting out of breath but I just slowed my stroke down and took longer breaths. I did 8 lengths, which I calculate to be about 640 meters (each length is about 80). I went to bed that night feeling more optimistic and less scared.

Race morning came early at 4:00 am. I woke Travis up (we had discussed the need for his prompt rising, which he did – I was so proud and grateful), then took a quick shower, got dressed, and put my hair up and lotion on my arms and legs where I anticipated no body marking to be. As I’ve mentioned before, lotion helps wetsuits slide off easily but it also makes body marking rub off. So I use regular lotion (to avoid weird tan line blotches) and just put the lotion where I know there is/will be no body marking – on my arms from right above my elbow down and on my legs minus the back calves. But I forgot to put on Body Glide before getting dressed, which I was painfully aware of during my post-race shower. Chafing – ouch!

Since it was so early, I wasn’t that hungry when I woke up so I put peanut butter on 2 bagels (one for me, one for Travis) and packed that, along with 2 yogurts and some grapes, into my lunchbox to eat on the 1-hour drive up to Greeley. I also decided that it was long enough until the race (we weren’t scheduled to go until 7:30) that I could venture to drink some coffee. We were pulling out of the driveway (after returning once to retrieve our phones) at 4:40.

We arrived at the race site at 5:45, after some arguments over roads being closed and wrong directions (sleep deprivation = snippyness). I got my packet quickly, set up my transition area, near D (my racing friend), Michelle, and Susan (who both work with D at the racing company I worked for last year). For both of them, this was first triathlon and they were a little nervous about the swim.

I appreciated having the extra time waiting around because I feel so much more mentally prepared and peaceful when I have more than enough time to get everything together – even though its probably a little boring for Travis. I remembered to tape my Shotbloks to my bike, had time for a 10 minute jog to warm up, and used the restroom twice. So far, so good.


Five minutes before transition closed, I discovered that because the lake was so small (see picture above) and the swim start was a time trial instead of a wave, the warm up time was over when transition closed. Meaning I had missed the warm up time. Crap it! There went my strategy for the swim… Even though the water was about 10 degrees warmer than the Boulder Res, I was still worried I would get in, get out of breath with the cold water, and be toast.

As we waited around 20 minutes for the Adult Age Group to start, I had decided to go use the bathroom when I heard the announcer say that the Age Groupers could get in the water and warm up while we were waiting. I chose warming up in the water over going to the bathroom, which I believe was a good, but not ideal, decision (more on that later). The water was actually fairly warm and I was feeling good about the swim.

After warming up, we waited another 30 minutes to start due to timing issues (since I was a race timer last year, I can’t really be mad – it’s complicated and messy.) Finally, almost an hour later than planned, the Age Groupers started going. The order was Men, oldest to youngest, and then Women, oldest to youngest. So I was in last 30 or so people to go.

Finally, it was my turn. When they told me to go, I waded down the rubber mat into the water (this was a man-made lake, so the drop-off was pretty steep) and then did the breaststroke for about 10 seconds, letting the water get back into my wetsuit before putting my face in the water.

Then I started swimming. The first 100 meters were great – I felt totally relaxed and at ease. I can totally do this! I thought to myself.

Then I started noticing water getting in my mouth when I turned to breath so I started swallowing when I should have been breathing out underwater. My breathing got slightly off and I was tempted to panic. Why am I doing this again? Since when do I like swimming? As I rounded the second far buoy and started making my way back, I had the thought, “Why would I ever want to do an Olympic triathlon? I can barely stand 500 meters, let alone 1500!” I was able to mostly keep my cool through the whole swim and slowly, the yellow ducks marking the swim exit came closer and closer. I actually made it the whole way swimming! I did it! I did it!

Now you can see why I was smiling and giving a thumbs up when I came out of the water. The swim was OVER!

Official Time: 13:19


The race organizers had wetsuit strippers on hand but I don’t have that much difficulty getting mine off myself so I declined their offer of help. Like usual, I pulled my wetsuit down to my waist during the run to my spot, then pulled it all the way off at my bike. Both Michelle and Susan, who had started the swim after me, were both at their bikes already! Those little speed demons! I was glad that they had survived the swim though. (Susan later told me that it was a horrible experience and she didn’t think she’d ever do another one. I can relate to that feeling!)

I put on my socks, shoes, race belt, helmet and sunglasses, grabbed my bike and was off.

Official Time: 2:06 (gotta love those smaller transition areas!)


Just like at the Boulder Sunrise, I was pleasantly surprised by how good my legs felt on the bike. I passed quite a few people and definitely pushed myself (maybe a titch too hard). I ate my Shotbloks around Mile 4. The only noteworthy thing about the bike was how bad I had to pee for the last 3 miles. It was seriously painful. I had had to pee since before the swim took off. I now wonder why I didn’t run to pee then, since we stood around waiting for almost an hour. I had contemplated peeing in my wetsuit but didn’t want to do it standing around and couldn’t do it while swimming. I contemplated peeing on the bike but that’s just gross. So I resolved to pee (in a portapoo) when I got back to transition.

Official Time: 35:19 (17 mph average)


After racking my bike, taking off my helmet and grabbing my hat, I made a mad dash to the bathroom. I stopped my watch while I did so, in order to know how long my bathroom pitstop took me when compared to the official time. It probably cost me about 45 seconds. But it was totally worth it.

Official Time: 1:38


Once again, I was confronted with sluggishness on the run, most likely caused by going too hard on the bike. The way out was almost all slightly uphill, so that didn’t help either. I had to stop and walk a couple of times because my heart rate was around 175, which it should have been around 165. The run course also meandered a lot with dog legs so I felt like it went on forever. I felt like I was running very slow and was so ready for the race to be over, although now that I see my running pace I’m not that disappointed – sub-10:30 is pretty good for me lately. Finally, there was the finish line – a giant gorilla!

Official Time: 32:03 (10:21 pace)

Overall Official Time: 1:24:24

Overall Watch Time: 1:23:09

Gender Placement: 74/121

Division Placement: 10/15

I like to think that if we hadn’t had to wait around so long for the race to start, I wouldn’t have had to pee and my Watch Time would be the Official Time, making this race my new PR! (My last race at this distance was only a 350 m swim and I did it 1:23:40). Because it doesn’t really matter one way or the other, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

As far as the race itself is concerned, I think this is a great, very well-organized local race (it’s put on by the Greeley Triathlon Club). The website is informative and has course maps for the swim, bike and run. The race director sent out 2 emails before the race with information about where to park, race day timeline, etc. You get a t-shirt (very cute!), finisher’s medal and towel, plus water, a protein drink, and free burrito post-race. They play good music and the transition area, finish line and swim start are all located in the same general area, so it has a cozy atmosphere. I would recommend this race!

What I Learned:

1. I need to work on my Bike/Run transition.

Even though I have done more running than either swimming or biking in my “racing career,” the run is definitely where I’m struggling the most and not living up to my potential. And I’m pretty sure it’s because my brick workouts in preparation for these races were pretty wussy. For my future bricks, I am going to hammer it on the bike and then run, to get used to the feeling I have during racing (the only other alternative is to not go as fast on the bike and I don’t like that!)

2. If I’m serious about doing an Olympic distance, I’ll have to do the breaststroke.

Doing freestyle for an entire Olympic swim scares me enough that if my only options were that or not doing the race, I’d choose to not do the race. Doing freestyle makes me feel like I’m all alone in a watery world and it’s also harder for me to breathe calmly, especially after swallowing water or running into someone. I am glad that I now know how to do the front crawl (in case of a pool swim, like the Leadville Tri-It-High) but the breaststroke is definitely my most natural swimming method. Plus, I was actually faster doing the breaststroke. Seeing how sore I was after the Boulder Sunrise, I’ll definitely have to slowly transition back into the breaststroke. I’m still going to do plenty of the front crawl during practice, though, because I’m loving the definition in my arms!

3. I need to get me some Athlete’s HoneyMilk.

They were handing this out at the finish line and while I normally shy away from anything even remotely sugary for a good 3-4 hours after a race (even chocolate milk is too much), I decided to take a chance on this protein recovery drink. I’m glad I did! Not only did it not upset my stomach, the Honey flavor was delicious! I think I’ll buy some of this for after intense workouts and races.

What’s Next:

I think I have finally convinced Travis to do a triathlon! We just need to get him a road bike, some tri shorts, a swimsuit, and he’ll be set! (Sportsbasement.com, here I come!) So we may do a different race than the Leadville Tri, since that one is a pool swim and Travis would prefer to try his hand at open water. But I’ll gladly change plans if it means Travis will do a race!

I’ve looked for other Olympic distance triathlons in the Denver region and it appears that the Steamboat Springs Tri on August 28th is the only option for when I’ll be in town. So I’m still planning on that. I also created my new Olympic training plan last week:

{UBW stands for Upper Body Weights – though I might do some Lower Body Weights too. We’ll see. I adapted this training plan to come up with this schedule.}

This plan is subject to change, since I calculated that each week involves 7-8 hours of training – pretty much double what I have been doing. I’ll talk more about my philosophy of training in a different post but for now, I’ll say that I need to have a good balance that involves time with God and my husband. I’ve over-trained before and it resulted in me doing nothing but training, working, eating, and sleeping. Not again.

If I do need to cut back, I’ll do one long and one short workout of each discipline a week, plus one day of strength training.

Last but not least, I have decided to discontinue my triathlon training blog and merge all of my triathlon-related posts into this blog (note the tagline changed to “A Twenty-Something’s Thoughts on Life, Health and God). I started my other blog in 2009 because I felt like this blog’s focus wasn’t physical health, but spiritual health. But as my friend Cathy has been discovering and sharing with me, our spiritual health and physical health are intertwined. And because I love training for endurance races and believe that God has given me that passion, I want to try to show what it looks like to glorify God through personal excellence in a sport (and world!) that is so often rife with pride and selfish ambitions. (But I’m definitely a work in progress, so bear with me!)

Plus, it was too hard to maintain 2 blogs. 😉

That’s all for today!

Faithful with the small things

18 Apr

Just a few weeks ago, I was sitting in bed accusing God of being silent about my life and what He wanted from me. The verse that crumbled my anger that night was 1 Thessalonians 5:24, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

He is faithful indeed.

Since that night, when I realized I had been measuring my life by what I do for God rather than by what He has done for me, I have felt like every message, discussion, song, and verse has been tailored for me, meeting me right where I am and giving me the exact encouragement I need in that moment.

Like last week, our care group discussion was about how Christians can make a radical difference in very “un-radical” circumstances. How do we live so that others notice we are different than the world? Very interesting conversation indeed.

My study of Romans has shown me that God had a purpose for my life even before the foundation of the world.

The book I’m reading, You Matter More Than You Think: What Every Woman Needs to Know About the Difference She Makes by Dr. Leslie Parrott, has reinforced what I have been learning about what makes life significant and meaningful.

And then Greg’s message last Wednesday during chapel was about how to continuously improve, not just in our spiritual lives but in our everyday lives.

Since all of these sources have impacted the thoughts running around in my head lately, this post may seem a jumbled mess of ah-ha moments. I will try to communicate as logically as my brain thinks (that’s a joke…)

In the post following my aforementioned revelation, I typed out a conversation I had had with God that morning. As a person who is usually skeptical of anything super-spiritual like hearing God actually speak, I have wondered if those words were contrived out of my own mind or if it was really God. While it did sound like me talking to myself in my head, the answers were immediate and formed like a response to my question. So I have to assume that the Holy Spirit was at least involved.

Because I like the conversation so much, I’m going to cut and paste it again here:

“But God, I still want my life to matter,” I said.

“My child, it already matters. I was willing to send my only Son to die for you and your life,” God replied.

“But I still want to do big things for you.”

“I know, Kathy, I know you do. Just be patient. I’ll open the doors for you.”

“So what do I do in the meantime?”

“Live your life for me and for others.”

“What does that look like?”

“Draw close to me and you’ll see.”

That little line “Live your life for me and others” is the key to a meaningful life, I believe. I think back over all the things I’ve struggled with over the past year or so…being convicted that I don’t share my faith enough, being self-conscious and lonely living in a new state, feeling lazy and self-centered in my hobbies and free time, wanting to see a tangible way that I am making a difference. All are solved by living a life of love for God and for others.

In her book, Leslie Parrott writes, “One of the fundamental truths I’ve learned about making a difference on this planet is that the road less traveled is not actually found in Calcutta or on the mean streets with the down and out. The road less traveled is ultimately found in the heart. It’s found in the heart of every woman who wants her life to make a difference and realizes that the difference is found, quite simply, in love. You walk the road less traveled whenever and wherever you bring more grace, compassion, understanding, patience, and empathy. More love. Why? Because a life of love is rare” (22-23).

Women, by nature, are designed to be relational and nurturing. We are designed to be intimate, intuitive, and loving. We are detail-oriented so that we can notice changes in a friend’s mood, sense a child’s hurt spirit, or remember our husband’s favorite dessert. We are multi-taskers so that we can run households full of children, dirty laundry, piles of dishes, and meals to cook.

But women can also feel incredibly under-appreciated. Though my husband does a wonderful job of thanking me for cleaning and cooking, I still have those moments when he does something inconsiderate (in my eyes) without his being aware of it. I have discovered the truth in Leslie Parrott’s words, “A woman’s pain either makes her bitter or makes her better.” And how do we women use pain or suffering to make us better instead of bitter? Gratitude.

A few more phrases from Leslie’s book: “…The more gratitude I cultivate for the suffering I endure, the less tethered I am to its weight…Gratitude unlocks a loving heart…The more gratitude you cultivate, the more grace you have for others…Grace and humility are two key components of gratitude and essential ingredients of love.”

[Good stuff, no?]

So the way I bring the most glory to God is by loving the people in my life, the people I come in contact with every day. These principles about gratitude, grace, humility, and love are biblical: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.”

I would be tempted to think “Ok, so now I know that I should be loving people. But who? And how?”

That was the question answered by Greg on Wednesday. In essence, the part of his  message that was most poignant to me was this: “Make the most of now. Be faithful with your slice of the kingdom pie, which is what God has called you to do right now. You may not be called to whatever you’re doing for the rest of your life, but it’s what you’re called to do now. We miss out on God’s future vision for us because we don’t make the best of our current situation. Be faithful now and God will open up other doors down the road.”

Amen, brother. This puts into words what God has put on my soul for the past several months. And reassures me that I am where I am for a reason. Right now, I am living God’s purpose for me. God has given me today. He has asked me to be faithful with this day. To strive with every fiber of my being to live a life of love in order to bring glory and honor to the name of Jesus.

Greg also talked about pain, like Leslie Parrott does in her book. She writes, “Ultimately, the pain we carry in our hearts [or experience in our days] is the grinding stone that shapes us to love. It sharpens our capacity to be tender with another’s wounds and to empathize without judgment.” Greg said, “Pain is spiritual protein for us. It develops our spiritual muscles. So we should be grateful for every experience. If you are feeling frustrated at your job, slighted by someone, persecuted or mocked, the pain makes us stronger. Pain, it’s what’s for dinner.”

When I view struggles as contributing to my ability to love, then I can indeed be grateful for their presence in my life. And gratitude unlocks a loving heart.

I’ve already been able to put these realizations into action. Even though the non-profit ministry I work for is small (around 25 employees), there can be some tension between what we call the “sides” of the office (because we literally have 2 different offices that are across the hall from each other–admin/donors/events on one side, sales/marketing on the other side). After having some drama this past week between sides, I thought maybe Admin felt underappreciated, like the Mktg department always expects them to bend over backwards while jumping through hoops to do whatever we want done. So instead of getting angry and frustrated, or gossiping about how they’re not acting like Christians, I suggested our side throw their side an appreciation breakfast. Just so they know that we really couldn’t do what we do without them. My team liked the idea so Phil is going to bring it up to Debb and Jason (VP and Director of Sales). Hopefully it’ll work out…