Friday, June 29, 2012

Race Report: Big Green Triathlon

Three weeks ago, I competed in the Big Green Triathlon, and Brynna and Alex and my parents came up Hanover to cheer me on.

This race is a new event this year and made it on to my list as a step-up race to longer distance triathlons. So far, all the races Alex and I have done have been "sprint distance," which is generally the intro length. The swim is usually between 1/3 and 1/2 a mile, the bike 12-14 miles, and the run 3.1 miles (5K). We are planning to do an "international" (also called "Olympic" distance) race later this season: a 1500 meter swim (almost a mile), a 40K bike (about 25 miles), and a 10K run (6.2 miles). This is a big jump, with the swim being a particular concern of mine.

Soooo...the Big Green Triathlon had two things going for it:
1. location in Hanover, where we are always happy to visit
2. intermediate length, between sprint and international: 1000 meter swim, 30K (18 mile) bike, and 8K (5 mile) run

Alex and I went up with a friend from our tri club and tried out the course a few weeks in advance. We realized that the course had two things very much NOT in its favor:
1. "T1" or "transition 1" between the swim and bike involved a more than quarter mile run up a steep gravel hill
2. the run involved a lot of very steep, short, up and downhill segments

So, we headed up to Hanover on the day of the event, which started at the entirely civilized time of 1:30 in the afternoon. I got set up in the transition area and then headed down to the beach.

Part 1: The Swim

I have been working on my swim a LOT over the winter and was focused on staying steady and panic-free. Due to a nasty cold and lingering cough, I was a bit concerned about the breathing part. This made me susceptible to a suggestion about a different breathing pattern that I had read about in a triathlon magazine. It is usually a disaster to change big things like this right before a race, but I tried it out the night before in one of our local ponds, and it worked great, so I went ahead with the new method. And the swim was TERRIFIC! The distance was no problem, and at the halfway mark I felt so good that I actually increased my pace a bit and started passing people, which has NEVER happened to me before.  Oddly enough, it was only in the last hundred yards or so that I started to get a bit panicked, because I'd been working harder than usual so was more tired than usual and was very eager to get to shore!

Interlude 1: The Awful Nasty Run Uphill To The Bikes
It started off well, with Alex and Brynna greeting me on the beach as I put my Tevas on with a big grin, thrilled about my swim.

We will not discuss The Rest, but here is photographic proof that I made it to the transition area at the top of the hill:

Part 2: The Bike

My new bike is AWESOME! Other than the potholes and gravelly section on River Road, it was a fast, enjoyable eighteen miles. I passed some people, felt strong on the hills, and zoomed on the downhills. My quick progress was briefly interrupted by a confused deer on Route 10, who wandered out into the middle of the road and then paused. I slowed drastically, fearing a collision if he (she?) broke the wrong way, and a few seconds later she (he?) trotted off the road in front of me.

Interlude 2: Took off bike helmet. Took off bike shoes. Put on running shoes. Started to run. (T2 is pretty straightforward.)

Part 3: The Wretched Run
Turns out that pushing hard on the swim with my newfound swimming skills, and hard on the bike with my new bike, and having a cold on top of all that, does not lead to a great run. My legs felt like a gangly fawn's at the beginning, and even once I got my feet under me, it didn't feel very good. I creaked my way up the steep hills, and minced my way down the steep hills, and reminded myself that I just needed to do two loops around the pond and it would be over! Even really good runners hated this course--one of my super-fast friends was grumbling about it as she zipped by me like I was standing still.

The Aftermath
I felt WAY more drained than after a sprint tri. It was hours before I felt like I could eat (I made up for it the next day). I had a stripe of sunburn on my back where my jersey and shorts didn't quite come together. (Yes, I put sunscreen on. Didn't work.)

Overall, this was an encouraging step in my triathlon training--I met my goals for the swim and the bike, and the run will come along with health and with more experience running after a long swim/bike.   The race was very well organized, but I'm not sure I will do it again in the future, mainly because of the run course (though the long run in T1 wasn't fabulous either).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kickstarting a Bakery

There are several places downtown to get baked goods of one sort or another. However, the hours are a bit spotty (compared to our hectic schedule), and one could always use more choices. A new bakery, which had been using rented kitchen space north of Concord and selling through retail outlets, it looking to move into a vacated storefront on Main St. To do this, they have secured financing in a variety of ways, including raising over $4000 through Kickstarter.

Can't wait for our delicious brownies and bars!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mother-Daughter Travels

Brynna and I went on a midwestern swing earlier this week and had a delightful time catching up with dear friends in Chicago and in Wisconsin.

L, S, and little M live right near the lake in Chicago. Brynna was thrilled to be reunited with them, and we were astonished to discover that since our St. John trip, M had become both a walker and a talker! Brynna was also excited to explore the wonderful playground five minutes away:

Brynna also broke in some of M's puzzles:

And we got to go to my favorite breakfast spot, Tweet, where they have many delicious vegetarian and vegan options, as well as kid toys/activities.

The next day we drove to Wisconsin so that I could meet V, the daughter of my best friend from medical school. She is just as sweet as she looks (as is her mommy).

Silly iPhone with no flash, but here's our B happily reunited with B and M:

They've been buds for awhile. Here's a flashback:

There was also a great playground in Appleton, where we spent several happy mother-daughter hangout hours:

L and Miss M:

Brynna as surrogate big sister:

Brynna planting a garden of dandelions on top of the slide:

There was this cool lion in front of our hotel:

I do NOT have a picture of L and I tapping away madly on our laptops in the dark room while our children napped. But we did a lot of that, too, since we both had some work to do.

We had two delicious dinners with our Appleton friends, and before leaving to head back to Chicago, spent the morning at the Building for Kids, a children's museum.

This is a giant model of a heart. B is about to slid down the aorta:

There was a big room full of model train stuff, which enchanted our little engineer:

And an amazing firetruck:

Brynna was very upset that she didn't see the fire boots until after she was done playing. Don't mention it to her...

Here she is piloting the model Gulfstream jet:

And there was also a doll hospital. Brynna is giving a shot:

And checking ears:

Here she is climbing back down from the treehouse. She got all the way up to the tip-top platform, insisting that I follow her. I realized as I was tiptoeing through the netting that perhaps it was not the right day to be wearing a skirt!
Then she sent me down ahead of her, because she was concerned that the nets might break if we were both walking across them at the same time. Once I returned to solid ground, Brynna had a full-blown panic attack on the top platform. I was about to climb back up to get her when a lovely little girl not too much older (perhaps five?) turned around, went back up, and slowly and carefully talked Brynna down. It was lovely to see.

After returning to Chicago, we spent our last morning at the Shedd Aquarium. Brynna had such a good time that she hasn't let us cut off her wristband yet!

Here she is getting ready to see the Happy Feet 4D Experience.

There were sharks and beluga whales and penguins and otters, oh my! None of those pictures came out very well, so I will not bore you with blurry swimming sea creatures. But it was cool.

After a nap, we took the train out to the airport, at Brynna's request. With her shrieking with delight and making up little songs about trains, and our luggage plus carseat ensemble, I don't think anyone mistook us for urban natives. 

On the way home, I used the airplane Wi-Fi for the first time (to get some work done) and Brynna amused herself on the iPad and, other than refusing to sleep, was a charming traveling companion. 

Farewell Chicago, we hope to be back soon!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Our little artiste!

Brynna loves her crayons, markers, paints, and pencils. Until now, she's been more of an abstract artist.

But today at breakfast, she proudly presented me with this:

Let the portrait phase begin!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Holy Cilantro!

I can't tell if it self-seeded from last year, or if this is the result of a handful of 2-year old seeds I tossed a few weeks back. In any event, this is a whopping big bunch of cilantro I pulled from the raised beds today. This is really only about half of it - there're more yet to come. It's particularly impressive, given that we have had almost no luck, ever, in getting cilantro to survive long enough to be worth harvesting. It would grow, bolt while still really small, then shrivel and die before ever reaching a harvestable amount. Bummer, too, because we actually use a lot of it - one store-bought bunch ever week or two.

The stems, some of which are as thick as a pencil, are for the most part to tough to be useful at this point. The leaves and smaller stalks are fine for cooking. I filled our salad spinner completely, twice, by plucking this bundle. After washing and spinning, it amounted to one gallon ziplock bag. For most of what we use cilantro for, freezing this batch and using it later (limp and definitely no longer fresh) will be fine.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

404 - The error page

Anyone who spends any amount of time on the internet will be familiar with the 404 error. It's the semi-blank page thrown up by a webserver when the requested page cannot be found. I learned a bit about the history of the 404 error from this recent TED talk from Renny Gleason. I will share this gem from it:

"A whole set of relationship errors, which, when I started digging into them, it looks almost like a checklist for a sex therapist or a couples counselor. You sorta get down there to the bottom and things get really dicey."

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Medical Arms Race

Astute. These guys get extra points for doing it in the style of Dr. Seuss. There is an extra dash of irony here, considering that Dartmouth Med School just took on Dr. Seuss' name. It's just what the Dartmouth Atlas has been telling us for years: empty beds and idle OR suites don't stay that way. The more you have, the more you use, and the more everyone pays.

Thankfully Hilary, as a family practitioner, is a bit removed from the front lines of this decades-long medical arms race. It is tough to argue that there are too many general practitioners, or that they are over-consumed (over-worked, maybe, but that's different).

Rules of the Road

Training for triathlons means putting in the miles: running down the road, cranking the pedals, and (finally) venturing into the open water. We're careful when we're out there: we wear reflective vests during our many nighttime runs, have blinky lights, usually have a phone on hand, wear helmets, and roadIDs. But, still, accidents can happen. A week ago, while biking to work on a backroad, I took a turn a little close to the inside, and suddenly was off the pavement. On a mountain bike, it'd be recoverable. On a racing bike with 1"-wide smooth tires, sliding off into sand and wet grass, on a downhill slope, you're pretty much just along for the ride. At least until the bike decides to stop, and then it's just you and Isaac Newton. This particular morning, it was up and over the handlebars and onto my back onto someone's lawn. After a few well-chosen curses, I realized that I was more or less unscathed: a little pain where I landed on my back, a hard whack on one forearm, and a tire slightly askew.

As it turns out, the pain where I landed on my back was slightly less than it otherwise would have been, because I'd landed on the hip-pack, which held my wallet, some odds and ends, and my phone. Clearly, my phone got the worst of it:

I have great admiration for Gorilla Glass, but there isn't much that can be done to keep a 1-mm thick piece of glass from being completely shattered by being underneath a 140-lb rider. Not to worry: replacement parts weren't too expensive (about $100), and I already had ample experience in fixing my phone. Still, a somewhat costly mistake to make.