Tuesday, March 26, 2013

All Things Being Equal

There. As long as we're all clear on where I stand.
Today I got out for a ride. I only went 15 miles but i have a very good reason for that. There was a bulldozer in my way. Yep, as I was preparing to climb Kolekole I got to the base of the road and they were doing construction. There was a bulldozer right smack in the middle of the road. I am not riding around a bulldozer.
It was a decent ride. My Lanikai tri is not going to be fast, that's for sure. I also got a run in Saturday or maybe Sunday, I can't remember now. Three and a half miles, pretty slow and steady. I'm getting out when I can.
Super Awesome Wife and I registered for another relay biathlon that I'm pretty excited about. This one is the Dash and Splash in Kailua on April 28th. Should be fun. I emailed the event organizer and they said strollers are welcome so Dirtbag Baby will also be competing. It'll be his second outside baby event, this weekend we are doing the Looney Lagoon 5mi Fun Run with my dad and his wife. They come out Saturday and the race is Sunday. Funny story about that, I thought it was a 5k. Because when you see a race distance with a 5 in it you automatically fill in k. Who designs a five miles race? That's not a real distance. I sold Dad and Bev on it being a 5k. Whoops. Oh well, should still be fun.
I haven't thanked my sponsor in a while and truly they are the reason I get to sign up for so many of these things. Much thanks goes out to Background Profiles. Much congratulations too on your newest addition to the company. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

So Much the Kicking

Masters Swimming

Working out comes few and far between right now for various reasons, so it is nice to have a swim team which a set time and day. That helps me plan. I got a ride in over the weekend but I haven't done much running recently.
I did register for the Lanikai Triathlon yesterday, coming up on April 21st. I did that so I have something closer than the Honolulu Tri to look forward to, and because I haven't done a full tri since the Honu. That's a long time. It probably won't be a fast race, but it could be a fun race if I have the right mindset. And mindset it all I've got right now, so let's hope that will do.
Yesterday's Masters swim wasn't nearly as full as last Monday's, and that is good. I hate squeezing on to the wall, not having much space. Thursdays aren't as tough as Mondays from what I can tell either. Yesterday certainly wasn't. I guess every workout is as hard as you make it, and I could have worked harder last night, but I was feeling it.
We did a bunch of kick-focused sets. This is both good and bad. It's good because I don't like kick-focused sets and I barely do them on my own. It's bad because as a triathlete I rarely kick when I'm swimming, so I don't need too many of these kinds of days. I'm not saying kick-centric days are bad. I just hope we don't do too many of them.
I felt ok. Focus wavered there for a while. Arms and shoulders were giving out near the end. I'm still not really fit enough to go hard out for the entire 3-3.5k that we normally work out for.
That's it going on in DirtbagLand right now. Busy being daddy, trying to get some writing done for other things. Feeling kind of spread out right now, and having a hard time finding solace in training like I used to. It'll come back.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Summit Seeker- Book Review and Interview with Vanessa Runs

Vanessa Runs Interview/ The Summit Seeker Review

Ultrarunners are a rare and endlessly fascinating breed of runner. Not content with roads, unsatisfied by the constraints of a normal marathon, ultrarunners take to the trails to push their bodies to limits beyond the limits most people think they have. An ultra is normally characterized by a running event whose distance exceeds the normal marathon of 26.2mi. A short ultra might be 50k (31mi). An average one- 100mi. But unlike a normal marathon, run on the road, ultras take runners up, over, around, and through nature. Not only is the distance daunting, but when running on trails athletes have to cope with drastic elevation changes (for example, the Hawaii HURT 100 includes 24,500ft of cumulative elevation gain and 24,500 ft of elevation loss over its 5 laps), unpredictable weather making already high-skill ground even more treacherous, and wildlife, on top of being focused on nutrition, staying on the trail, and making checkpoints on time. A 100 can take as long as 36 hours so expect to be running those same tricky, root-riddled trails at night with only a headlamp and a hand light as your guide as well.
Vanessa Runs has written a book called The Summit Seeker about her journey into this world that is in turns inspiring, heartbreaking, and life-affirming.  She tracks her life through her running, digging into her past to find out why she runs, what makes her push so hard, and what that says about her. Pulling no punches, Vanessa attacks her story honestly, with the same intensity she uses mountain goating up the Grand Canyon. You’ll read about her early childhood and her emotional honesty will have you feeling as close as you’ve ever felt to a writer. You’ll cheer her through her first runs, and the way she writes about how it feels will make you want to put in a bookmark and get on your shoes. When she decides to leave all that that is safe and familiar to buy an RV and become a running nomad you’ll wonder where she gets the strength and courage. You’ll struggle up slippery trails alongside her boyfriend and her dog and you’ll confront a mountain lion after hours of hard running.
There is a joy in Vanessa’s writing. A pureness of spirit that embodies what the philosophy of a runner should be. When Vanessa writes about those who finish Dead Last and the respect she has for them, you’ll understand what it is to be a true athlete, and how that can and should translate into all facets of life.
This is not a book for only ultrarunners. In Vanessa’s words, “It’s a book with broader appeal that non-runners, road runners, marathon runners, or 5K finishers can all appreciate. I say it’s about ultras, but really it’s about life, transformation, and renewal.
She agreed to exchange emails with me so we could delve deeper into how she thinks about running, her motivations for writing the book, what running goals she has, what it’s like living in an RV, and the mindset of someone who looks at 100 miles as journey to be undertaken and enjoyed.
The Summit Seeker is available on amazon.com in kindle and paperback.

Dirtbag- Your book, The Summit Seeker, is a very personal story. You are extremely open and honest with the reader. While writing it where there times when you thought you were being too vulnerable, exposing too much of yourself? Where there things that were in the book that you eventually decided to take out for personal reasons?

Vanessa-  Actually the opposite was true. I worried I had shared too little. There were so many stories I left out that had a powerful effect on my upbringing, but didn’t directly relate to running. I wanted to maintain the running thread because I feel I’m still too young to write a true autobiography. In many ways, I’m only just now starting to live on my terms. But out of all my current life experiences, I shared less than 10 percent in the book, and I worried I had done some injustice to my memoirs. I’m very eager in many ways to share the “other” stories, and I suspect that some of them will bleed through into my other books. Vulnerability and exposing too much are things I no longer fear.

Dirtbag- How do you train? Do you follow a specific plan or do you run how you feel each day?

V- I don’t do well with plans. I did follow a plan for my first 50K, but even then I ran a marathon the day after my first ultra (not in the plan!). My running career pretty much consists of doing all the wrong things with great success. I jumped from running 50Ks to running a 100-miler. I had run four 100-milers before I ever ran a 50-mile race. Once I had a couple of 100s under my belt, I wasn’t eager to adopt a plan. If I ever want to drastically improve my times, maybe then I will consider “training”. At this point, I know I can finish a 100 with the base that I have, and I’m content with that. I love running, but I don’t like being told what to do.

Dirtbag- In the book you talk about your heritage making it easier for you to run in the heat. Are you going to be searching out more challenging cold-weather races? Is it about the level of difficulty of not only the distance, but the environment? Are you conquering the trail or becoming part of it?

V- I don’t really think of cold weather as challenging. I did run through several Canadian winters, so I’m not worried about cold or snow. I just prefer the heat. I seek out challenges more in terms of terrain, elevation, and distance. Weather does play a significant role when a storm hits, but so far that has only happened to me on training runs.

I like to think of myself as becoming part of the trail. I once wrote, “How can a mountain goat be afraid of the mountain? It is his home.” I want to run like the mountain goat.

Dirtbag-  Is there fear when you’re running, not of failing but for your life? You talk about the encounter with a mountain lion out on the trails. Did the loss of Micah True shake you up on a personal level outside of losing a respected member of the running community? Could it happen to me-type questions.

V-  Quite the opposite. It was sad to see Micah go, but my initial reaction was, “I hope that happens to me someday.” I want to die doing what I love, not laid up in a hospital somewhere. I live a wild life, so a death in the wild is fitting. To me a greater tragedy would be a slow and sedentary death. The goal is not to live longer, but to live better. I’m not afraid to die on a mountain, but I’m terrified of a life wasted in a cubicle.

Dirtbag-  When you’re doing an ultra are you more concerned with racing or running?

V-  It depends on the race. I’m not a lead runner, so I’m never racing to win, but sometimes I do want to race to beat a previous time, push my own limits, or beat one other runner in a friendly competition. Other events I’d rather pace with friends, chat with the volunteers, or fool around on the course. To me the beauty of running is that you don’t always have to run the same way or with the same goals.

Dirtbag- What is your dream race? There are ultraruns all over the world. Do you have a To Do list, and what is at the top?

V- I don’t have a specific dream race, but rather places I want to run. I’d love to run through Central and South America, and the PCT from Mexico to Canada. I want to run in Alaska this year—there are several races there, but the event itself is irrelevant. I just want to run long in Alaska, even if it’s just me in the mountains. If I had to choose one race I still haven’t gotten to, it would be the Copper Canyons Ultramarathon in Mexico because of its history and because all my friends are there every year. In second place would be Fuego y Agua, a 100K in Nicaragua.

Someday I’ll knock out San Diego 100, Hardrock 100, Angela’s Crest 100, and I’m registered for Zion 100 next month.

Dirtbag- Many ultrarunners say that completing the extreme distances those races require is more about mental toughness than physical. Do you agree? What do you think makes you so mentally tough? While deep in a race do you try to stay present or do you left your mind drift to a happy place?

V- I’m a firm believer in the power of mental toughness. It’s not so much that my suffering growing up made me mentally tough, but rather it put these races into perspective. No matter how low I feel during a race, it’s nothing compared to what I’ve already fought through. And nothing compared to what good people suffer everyday, with no buckle to show for it. With that perspective, I can count myself blessed and continue running.

Dirtbag- Do you believe anyone can do an ultra?

V- I believe anyone who wants to finish an ultra, can. But you have to want it.

Dirtbag- The ultrarunning community seems like a close knit one, is this true? Is it bigger than most people realize, are there more ultrarunners out there than the general running community realizes? Or is it very niche and small? And would you like to see it grow in popularity? On one hand, greater exposure possibly means better purses at races. On the other, it means more crowded trails.

V- It’s definitely growing, and that’s exciting to see. However, it’s still much smaller and close-knit than marathon running. I don’t think ultrarunning is for everyone, but I would love to see everybody try at least one ultra. The act of accomplishing something that seems so physically daunting is extremely rewarding.

I do want to see it grow in popularity, and I don’t think crowded trails will be an issue. The trails I love to run are the most remote and rugged ones I can find, and we mostly run during work hours. I don’t foresee any crowds at the top of a 14,000-foot mountain in the middle of a Tuesday, no matter how popular ultrarunning becomes. It’s a very, very big world with countless trails. When we do see congestion, it’s from mountain bikers and hikers. You only see swarms of ultrarunners at a race.  
Many ultrarunners do not see race purses as a positive development in the sport, so there’s some debate on that. The concern is that the ultra will become too large-scale, and turn into a marathon spectacle with fiercer elite competition as opposed to the grass-roots community that it currently is. Today, a lead ultrarunner will stop to chat with you, help you, or even change your car tire.

Personally, I have a lot of hope for the future of the sport. I don’t think purses will damage it. For every race that introduces a purse, another one springs up that is more like a hippie party weekend than an athletic event. Ultimately, those are my type of races.

Dirtbag- Thinking about your choice to leave your job and your life behind and venture out into the unknown, most people would call that brave. Do you think you are being brave? Did you feel like you had a choice, or was this something you had to do?

V-  I definitely had a choice, and this was a good one. I have been homeless before, not by choice, and compared to that this was the easiest, most secure, and most reasonable thing to do in the world.

I never considered myself to be brave, although most people do seem to worry about things I would never consider, so maybe my mind just works differently. In my mind, you do what you love and the rest will fall into place. It has always worked out that way for me, and I don’t question or fear the details. I know that no matter what we go through, it will never be as bad as what is already in my past. Perhaps it’s that perspective that makes me “brave”.

Dirtbag- What is your typical week in the van like? Do you do a lot of traveling or do you and Shaky mostly stay in one area?

V- It varies drastically. Sometimes we stay in an area for weeks, and sometimes we drive for days straight. That’s the beauty of our lifestyle—we’re free to follow our whims. Most days we end up at a trailhead. Here we spend the day running, doing yoga, reading, writing, and playing with the dog. In the evenings we usually seek out wifi if we’re not in the middle of nowhere.

Dirtbag- What is the hardest part of the nomadic life you’ve chosen for yourself?

V- It’s very challenging to convince people that it’s actually not very hard, and certainly attainable for anyone who wants to live this way. We are a very fearful and skittish species.

Dirtbag- Where are you answering these from? How long was your most recent run?

V-  We’re driving to Papago Park, the meeting point for an Arizona group trail run. The run is this evening, but we thought we’d hang out at the park all day until it was time to run. We’ll do the usual there—play with the dog, practice some yoga, read, and write.

My last run was only 2 miles up a hill, and the one before that was 13 miles up to Tom’s Thumb in Scottsdale, Arizona. I try to train with as much “quality” miles as possible, so the tougher the climb, the better. I’d rather do 2 miles of strenuous climbing than 10 miles of easy, flat running.

Dirtbag- If you had to point to one or two athletes, ultrarunners or otherwise, who have most inspired you, who would they be? Why those people?

V- I didn’t come into running with any role models. When I started to run, I didn’t know any other runners. The ultrarunners I know now are people I met on the trail doing the same thing I’m doing, rather than people I admired from afar. So my heroes are the people who run by my side and buy into my crazy antics—my boyfriend Shacky and our awesome dog Ginger. There are many talented runners out there, but I mostly admire all the people who show up to run 100 miles with no chance of winning, fame, or glory. Just because the trails call to them.

Dirtbag- What was the goal when you sat down to write the book? Is there something you hope the reader comes away with?

V- Yes, I hope the reader is inspired to go after whatever it is he is truly passionate about it. I hope she starts to revolve her life around those passions. These days we’re pressured to seek balance and moderation, but sometimes a little obsession and specialization makes life much more enjoyable, and contributes to society on a greater level. What if Einstein had spent as much time on art as he did on science? What if DaVinci had tried running as much as he painted? The world would have lost the fruit of their passions. Always do what you love and the rest will follow.

Dirtbag- When you describe running in the book the reader gets a sense of joy. Has running always been a joyful experience for you or did it happen slowly over time as you felt yourself get stronger?

V- It started off as a form of stress relief, then transformed into a way to burn off anger. After that, it became a joyful experience and the joy hasn’t changed since then. It took about a year for running to become a true joy and celebration. But I needed it just as badly when I was angry and sad. I don’t think getting stronger is what made it joyful. There were just things in my life that I had to work though, and running gave me the courage to do that.

Dirtbag- What is the most joyful experience you’ve had running?

V-  Running the Grand Canyon. The enormity of the rocks and the redness of the sand overwhelmed my senses. The Canyon makes you feel very, very, very small. And incredibly grateful.

Dirtbag- What’s next short term? Long term?

V-  We’re headed to Utah next to run Zion 100, with a pit stop at the Grand Canyon for a Rim to Rim. After that we will start driving north, running our way up to Alaska, checking out British Colombia’s trails and Yukon’s mountains. We will be in Alaska for spring, summer, and fall. After that we will head over to Pennsylvania to visit a friend who has property there. We’ll be spending the winter with him and helping him tend to his farm, chickens, goats, and fish. After that we may be heading into Canada to wave hello to my family there. By then it will be 2014 and we’ll pick the next adventure: possibly a PCT thru-hike, or a run/drive across Canada, or even traveling through Central and South America.

Thank you again to Vanessa for taking the time to speak with me. The Summit Seeker is available at amazon.com in kindle and paperback. I strongly recommend it to athletes of all levels and persuasions. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Life in the Fast Lane (and neat news)

Masters Swim
Oh yeah, the switched to long course too
You know what's harder than having a rough day in the water alone?
Having a rough day in the water on a team. I was draaaaaaaging ass last night during Masters. Last Thursday was pretty great. I felt fast, I felt strong, I felt good. But for whatever reason, last night was one of those nights. Where no matter how hard I wanted to push I couldn't It was a mental block and a physical one, and they played against each other. I probably would have been ok if I didn't get in feeling slow. But I did. And then I got put in the fast lane, which I deserve, and started getting my ass kicked. Getting your ass kicked either a) makes you work harder to hang or b) drives your motivation into the bottom of the pool. I can get to option a, but last night was all about option b. I was having none of it. I seriously considered bailing on the workout about halfway through. And if I was swimming alone I probably would have. I'd have thought, "I got in 1500yds, that's good enough for today," and gotten out. I'd have felt crappy about myself for bailing, but it would have happened.
Not in a group. No matter how slow I feel and out of it I am, swimming in a group will keep my egocentric ass in the pool.
Oh yeah, the other thing that probably contributed to my death by swimming was, as you noticed in the above picture you observant reader you, long course! Yep, this is one of them fancy-shmancy pools that can be converted from long course to short course. For those of you out there in InternetsLand who don't know what those terms mean, very quickly-
Short Course- the pool is 25 yds long, this is traditional distance for most swim leagues because most pools are this length
Long Course- the pool is 50m long, this is the distance of Olympic pools.
Often there is a long course season and a short course season for swimmers, normally so the fast people can adjust in time for Big Meets. Where I was coming up we predominantly swam short course. Our pool was not set up for long course. I did a few long course meets, but they were few and far between. It's a fun novelty for me, but man is it an adjustment.
The difference between a meter and a yard is very small, but the difference between 25yds and 50m is huge. It screws with your brain. You start looking for a wall long before you get to it, and if you're dumb enough to glance up as your swimming because the wall has to be coming up I must be done with this lap soon only to see it waaaaaaaaaay off in the distance you do the Big Sigh Of Disappointment. You adjust rather quickly, but it's still a long way. 100m is only 109.3yds, so it doesn't seem like much, but those 9.3s add up when you aren't used to it.
To be sure, long course is better for triathletes to train in. I love the wall, I have a good turn, I can use the wall. But in the open water? No walls. Fewer turns in the pool are good for me.
There is also some nifty-neat news in the world of Dirtbag Fitness. Today I was part of a podcast put on by Kevin Koskella, of TriSwimCoach. He was looking to talk about relationships and triathlon and I threw myself into the conversation mostly because of this article. He liked what I had to say, so myself and Kat Gunsur, who wrote this article for active.com. It's funny, you should read it. We had a fun, good conversation. I'm really glad I got to be a part of it. Kevin says it'll take him about ten days to edit and post the pod and you can be sure I'll be talking it up here, on the twitters, and on Facebook. Wow, that was a lot of links in one paragraph. This is my first podcast and the next step in Dirtbag Fitness taking over the world!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Masters Swim- Meeeemoriessss

Masters Workout
No, it was dark, this is from the swim meet I did there this summer
Diesel found a nearby Masters swim club that just recently opened up and told me about it last week. They swim at Veterans pool, the site of the Aloha State Games swim meet I participated in this summer. It's two days a week, Monday and Thursday, from 7:00-8:30pm, and only $15 for the month. Aside from that being annoyingly (but understandably) late in the evening, everything about the team sounded great to me. I grew up on swim teams and getting in the water with a group, swimming with peers, having a coach tell me what to do instead of planning it myself all sounded kick ass. I even readied my ego for a beating because I've not been swimming like I was last year and don't feel fast or fit. So there would probably be guys and gals there faster than me. Which is good, swimming is the one place in triathlon training where I allow myself to get more competitive. I'll ride the bike hard and chase, but I take being left behind in the water personally.
Just walking on to the pool deck was strange for me. I spent so many hours at a pool, not only in the water but hanging out on deck waiting to swim, watching the other groups swim and lifeguarding that being on deck in any setting brings back memories. I felt more like a swimmer already, and I hadn't even gotten wet yet. The age group swim club was just finishing up their workout and it was cool to watch them panting, dragging themselves out of the water, running last minute diving drills.
I met a couple of other swimmers, triathletes mostly, hanging out, but in my head I was just waiting to get in. I didn't know how my body would react to being in an organized swim session again. I should find a faster lane. Which is a faster lane? Who are the quick people? It's hard to judge swimmers by their bodies so I couldn't just look. I ended up in a lane by myself, and one other guy joined me during the 400 warm-up. I'm not going to detail every set because I don't remember everything that we did. The only reason I know the total distance is because the coach told us at the end.
My lane mate fell right into circle swim during warm-up, which was a nice surprise. Yay, swimmers who know how to swim. When we stopped he asked about splitting the lane in half and since it was just the two of us that was easier. Then in the next set he started blowing me away. Him, a guy in the next lane over, and some dude in a green cap in a far lane where all quicker or just as quick as I am. Everyone else ranged from just a touch slower to I don't know I was busy sucking wind.
I loved this workout. Hitting the wall, coming up and looking for the clock, doing quick mental math to figure how much rest you get, nailing the walls, watching the guy a lane over and pacing off him are all Old Skool to me and I slipped back in to those habits like an old pair of goggles (Note: This is a crappy analogy because an old pair of goggles are almost guaranteed to have a strap that's going to break immediately, but it was better than "an old pair of Speedos" because eww). The coach never, until the last set, gave us a time standard to work with, instead giving us rest times. Which is easier when you're planning for a big group with a wide range of abilities.
We cranked 3,500 yards all together, which is the longest workout I've done in a long time, and it was great. I swam hard, as hard as I've swum since getting back in the water, and felt strong most of the time. Sure, I'd get tired way quicker than I should and my breathing rhythm would go to crap and my elbow would start to drop and my core would get loose, but that's all weakness that will self-correct as I continue to swim regularly. It was swimming in a group, with other swimmers, being pushed externally, laughing and joking on the wall, that was great. Even if I don't go every workout, it is completely worth the $15/mo they want. I talked to the coach after and he said while they don't have Masters meets set up yet he is talking to the other coaches because that is something they would like to do.
I think all my tri buddies should come (Grey, this is directed squarely at you). I was telling Diesel after the workout that if this is all he does in the water from now until Honu he's gonna have a blazing swim. MamaSaid isn't confident enough in her ability to play yet but from what I saw the skill range was wide and deep and she should. Also, Veterans is by far the nicest pool I've been in in a while. So much better than 24's. And the quality of the pool makes you feel faster.
Last little story about the guy I shared a lane with for most of the workout- During a break I asked him where he swam because he was damn fast. "Oh, I swam at West Point." Ah, oh, ok, that makes a lot of sense and I understand the super speed now. And he was really cool the whole time, no ego at all. After we got out of the water saw a small tattoo of the Olympic rings above paddles on his ribs. "Hey, why do you have the Rings tattoo?" I asked. "I had the honor of representing American Samoa in '08" he replied. "Holy fuck, that's amazing!"
So I got my ass kicked last night by a guy who swam in Beijing. Awesome.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Haleiwa Sprint Tri '13 Race Report

Bike Factory Haleiwa Sprint Tri Relay Race Report
Relays are a great way to do triathlons without doing a triathlon. I understand that doesn't make much sense, bear with me. At this point I've done plenty of tris, I know triathlon, and I enjoy triathlon. But sometimes I don't feel like doing an entire race. I want to be a part of the event, but for whatever reason doing the whole thing isn't in the plan. Last time we did a relay, the Lanikai Tri last year, it was because the Grey, Diesel, and I were mid-Honu training and none of us wanted to do a sprint, but a race sounded fun and we figured we could place, which is always nice. For the Haleiwa Tri I didn't feel fit enough to put together a respectable effort for an entire race so I talked the guys into relaying it. Again, we knew we should place. That helps sell the idea.
I swam, Diesel rode, and the Grey ran, like last time, because that is our strongest line-up. I picked up Diesel at 5am race morning, both of us grumbling that I had talked us into getting up that early to race for such a short period of time. He has a twelve mile ride ahead of him. That's less than 30 minutes of work. I had a 500m (they said) swim. That's less than ten minutes of work.
Sometimes triathlon is dumb like that.
We met the Grey there and got set up easily. Check-in and everything went well. I was excited because Carrots, my tri-friend and Super Awesome Wife's knitting buddy, was doing the race too. Seeing friends makes races better.
T1 Set Up

Diesel and The Grey getting ready

It's very early

Carrots and husband
Race start was planned for 6:30, which is kind of dumb because it's still dark at 6:30am. So we probably started at 6:40 or so. Two waves, men first, then women and relays. I wasn't thrilled with having to wait to the second wave. I know how quickly I swim, and I know how slowly a lot of triathletes swim. I'm going to hit the back of the men's pack. Oh well, whatcha gonna do?
I lined up on the beach with the girls pointing as straight on to the first buoy floating 150m offshore as I could. Why swim at and angle? That makes your race further. Why are all you people so far down the beach?
I didn't hear a countdown for the men, just the horn. Fine, whatever, go go go. Once they were away I got my goggles ready and shook out my arms. Next to me on the beach was a very serious looking woman in a pro tri suit. Like name on the stomach and back and everything. Decided to hang by her. If you're going to get beat, get beat by someone who didn't have to buy her own gear.
Thirty seconds...GO!
I had a great start. Killer start. Looking to my sides I think I was the first to the turn. Pro Girl may have beat me, but I didn't see anyone in front of me. Felt stronger than I expect. So fast that I was worried I'd run out of gas before the swim was over. And I might have if it was really 500m. There's now way it was that far. 400m tops. By the second buoy and the turn into the beach I was in the middle of the men's pack, fighting through feet and bodies. Got wide of the group for the sprint in and swam hard. I don't think I was the first of the second wave out of the water, but the transition area was pretty damn full when I got there.
Honestly, the hardest part of the swim was the transition run. Long ass run from the beach, along the park, up to T1. Then chip to Diesel and he was off.
Dirtbag swam hard

Carrots gets her helmet on...

And she's off!
This is the fun part for me. I never get to see transition fill and empty. I never get to cheer on other triathletes as they chug into T1, change, and head back out. It is cool and made me feel like part of the tribe. Then it was out to the street to watch the cyclists on their three laps and talk to Carrot's husband, MamaSaid, who came down for the race (Super Awesome Wife's mom was in town and Dirtbag Baby had a long day the day before so they skipped this event), and another relay team. This race is cool because they have a beach cruiser division. So you've got dudes and dudettes on $5k bikes roaring by then a guy on a rusty cruiser with high bars pedaling away. Triathlon should be fun.
Diesel came ripping in to T2, and I had to call out to The Grey, who got distracted talking to someone and had to rush into transition to get the chip.
Diesel goes zooooom

Coming in at the end of Lap 3

Diesel and The Grey in for the switch

Grab the chip!

And he's away!
 The run course was a tough out and back along the beach. So it was sand and trail out, then on the beach back. No one really likes this run course. Thanks Grey! He had a great time.
Here he comes!

And across the line!
 Once he was across the line we hung out for a while, talking, snacking, and being friendly. Diesel and MamaSaid left to hike and the Grey and I checked out the results postings only to discover that we weren't listed. What the hell? The Grey and I bothered the timing guy until he gave us an answer- The chip time for the bike said 18 minutes, which is impossible. Which means he thought Diesel only did two laps. Which means he disqualified us! What. The. Hell. The Grey argued and I grumbled until he looked at the swim time and run time and the final time and realized that what his chip was telling him didn't make any sense. So yeah, the Grey bullied the timer into giving us our time back. Second place! Woo! We got a nice tile, leading to many jokes about doing this race until we can refinish a bathroom. We are hilarious.
Team Dirtbag!

Carrots is a tough triathlete

Tough guys with second place tiles
 Another race with good swag, we got nice long sleeve shirts, a sticker, and a bag. They tried to give me a trucker hat instead of the bag and I shot that right down. Who wants a trucker hat? That's what the race people get for giving me a choice. I'll take the choice. 
I love being around events like this and relays are a great way to play without too much pressure.
Final Splits
Swim- 5:49 (hell yeah, but that means there us no way it was 500m)
T1- 2:16 (long ass run)
Bike- 33:37 (blazing!)
T2- 00:37
Run- 26:24 (not bad for a bruised up old man hehe)
Final Time- 1:08:42
Swag- long sleeve, sticker, bag