Three Things Thursday

1. Ironman’s new SwimStart Initiative, announced today.

Ever since I signed up for IMLP last July, one of my biggest fears has been the chaos of the mass swim start. I prefer to avoid being kicked in the face and/or lung, thankyouverymuch. Today’s VERY exciting news: IMLP will be testing a new rolling start system this year:

“Athletes will enter the water in a continuous stream through a controlled access point, similar to how running road races are started. An athlete’s times will start when they cross timing mats under the swim arch.

Athletes will be directed to self-seed on race morning based on their projected swim time. Volunteers and staff will be in the staging area with signs and will assist with this process. Self-seeding will not be mandatory, but will be encouraged. At both events, all athletes will have access to a dedicated warm-up area in the water located adjacent to the swim start.

Age-group athletes will begin entering the water at 6:35 a.m. for IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene and 6:30 a.m. for IRONMAN Lake Placid, and will have the two hours and twenty minutes from the time the last athlete enters the water to complete the swim. An athlete’s time does not begin until he or she crosses the timing mat located below the swim arch. All athletes are expected to start by 7:00 a.m. at both venues, thus keeping all other timelines and cutoffs the same. This will ensure that all participants have at least the full 17 hours (subject to intermediate cutoffs) to complete the event.”

Since I’m neither a crazy strong fast swimmer nor a lunatic, my plan was always to hang back and let the super competitive folks go out first. Now, I get to do this officially, and my time won’t officially start until I cross the mat! Big fan of this move, WTC!

In addition to Lake Placid, Coeur d’Alene will also have a rolling start.  Mont Tremblant will be seeding by age group, and Tahoe and Florida will have self-seeding into corrals. Personally, I think the rolling start with time chip probably makes the most sense to avoid traffic jams and dangerous conditions, while still preserving somewhat of the traditional mass start feel of an IM. But what do I know, this is my first.

2. It’s storm season in D.C.

photo by Brett Thompson via

photo by Brett Thompson via

I’ll admit, all this rain lately is putting a bit of a damper on my outdoor riding. Knocking on wood that it won’t interfere with my long ride Saturday morning! But I also cannot deny that I absolutely LOVE a good thunderstorm. Something about growing up in Nebraska develops a deep love in a person for crazy loud, awesome, freaky storms. We’ve yet to have a big one here this spring, but the forecast has been teasing it for days now….

3. CICADA INVASION!!! Bring. It. On. So they’re gross and a little freaky looking. But how amazing are these little creatures? This brood has been laying dormant for 17 years and will soon begin emerging all throughout the Eastern U.S. as soon as the soil reaches the proper temperature. They burrow out of their underground hiding spaces, shed their shell, and become full fledged adults. When they are out and about, they feed on various plant life. AND they are little musicians as well…the male cicadas “sing” as part of their mating practice. In mass chorus, the sound can be almost deafening.

Oh and let me say that one part again…they have been laying dormant for 17 years. 17 FREAKING YEARS! You just gotta respect that. Seriously. 17 years ago I was cruising around my suburban neighborhood on rollerblades and making mix tapes of alternative rock songs recorded off the radio. I hadn’t even started high school yet. That’s when these little Cicada eggs were burrowed into the ground. It’s mindboggling.

This Magicicada website has an incredible amount of information about our little friends, including tracking maps of brood emergence patterns around the country. Worth a browse, as they are truly fascinating critters. Then you decide, Cicada: annoying pest, or TOTAL AND COMPLETE BADASS?! I’m going with badassery.

(Btw, I also love The Onion’s take on the Cicada re-emergence).

I’m sure I’ll encounter many on my long rides out into rural Maryland in the coming weeks.  What do you think, new bike helmet style to consider?


Tea Time

At various times in my life, I’ve been hooked on coffee in a majorly unhealthy, chain-drinking kind of way.  But in recent years I’ve come to realize that after those first few tastes of amazingness, coffee just results (for me) in jittery hands and an upset stomach.  So I initially switched to tea as a way to get my fix without the bad stuff.

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I still enjoy a cup of irish coffee every now and then, but once tea became my regular, I slowly began discovering all that it had to offer.  Now I’ve become a little tea-obsessed.  There are SO many varieties and flavors of tea, it’s like a world unto itself!  Plus it’s so much more single-user-friendly.  My tea drawer at work is always stocked full (I typically drink at least one black tea and one green tea a day), and at home I rotate between a huge variety of loose leaf and bagged teas.  (As I’ve mentioned before, I also dig me some mate something fierce).

Yesterday, the Post revisited the subject of tea’s health benefits and its growing popularity in the U.S.  Check it out!

What’s your hot beverage of choice?  Tea?  Coffee?  Mate?  Raktajino?

Weekly Workout Plan: February 25-March 3, 2013 (22 weeks to IMLP)

RECOVERY WEEK!  And oh how I need it.  My legs are pretty destroyed after the last 3 weeks of base building.

In very exciting news, last night I picked up my finally complete, re-fit and re-mastered bike!  I did my first ride on it this morning.  Although the weather was decent, I did my 2 hours on the trainer as an attempt to get used to the new set-up and new pedal system.  It was a good plan.  It also meant that I finally watched the first two hours of Deadwood, which was a long time coming.  I foresee a lot of Deadwood-accompanied trainer time in the future.  (Seriously, HBO Go is the greatest.)  Nothing eases the pain like a young Timothy Olyphant.  *Swoon.*

In other news, D and I are desperately seeking appropriate lodging for Eagleman in June.  The host hotel is booked, as are most hotels in a 30 mile radius.  We may have a lead on a great place but still waiting for things to shake out before we’re sure.  Why did I not book as soon as I registered?  You’d think I would have learned by now.

In the meantime, I’ve got a lovely recovery week planned….

Monday: REST
Tuesday: AM – 1800 yard swim; PM – 30 min core
Wednesday: AM – 45 min interval bike; PM – yoga
Thursday: AM – 55 min run; PM – 2100 yard swim
Friday: AM – 90 min brick; PM – rest
Saturday: 55 min run
Sunday: core + strength

Since tomorrow is a sleep-in and rest day, I am enjoying the Oscars telecast in all its glory tonight.  To be fair, I’m so exhausted that I won’t make it much past 10 PM, which is fine because I *literally* did not see a single nominated movie this year.  Pitch Perfect and Bachelorette were totally my fave movies of the year, and beyond that I think I only saw Hunger Games, Dark Knight Rises, and Skyfall.  Seriously, I am not good at movies.

Also, I must admit I was super bored by the fashion choices on the red carpet.  When did everyone get so afraid of wearing color, for gosh sakes?


But at least I got to see Harry Potter sing and dance.  And the Shatner?!  (Weird.)  And also a full musical number about boobs…and let’s be honest, the rest of the show had NOTHING on the sock puppets. I think we can all agree that we need more sock puppets in our lives.

I'm sorry but it's just plain true.

I’m sorry to break it to you but it’s just plain true.

Oh look, singing!  I do like singing.  And my personal favorite moment from the Oscars – realizing that Samantha Barks is Eponine in the movie of Les Mis!!!  I was a fan of her way back when I’d Do Anything was first re-broadcast on BBC America back in 2009.

If you’ve never watched any of the BBC Andrew Lloyd Webber casting reality shows, you really have no idea what you’re missing.  I am so disappointed that I didn’t realize this newfound success for her until now.  You go, Sam!  Now maybe I will have to suck it up and go see a movie.

Aaaand…please someone make Russell Crowe stop singing.  Now.  Please.  Thanks.  I think this is a sign that it’s my bedtime.

What did you think of the Oscars telecast?  

What was your favorite movie of the year? 

How do you celebrate/enjoy your recovery weeks?  

The requisite Lance-related commentary

“Did you at any time feel that you were cheating?”



Disclaimer: I don’t think I really have that much to add to the conversation about the Armstrong doping reveal, but I just feel like venting about it a tiny bit.  I’ll keep it short.

I never really understood the outrage about doping in sports before.  Every time there was more news of a baseball player using performance enhancing drugs, my reaction was always “well, figures” and I moved on.  I suppose now that it’s because I was never too invested in the sport, so I didn’t care to know much more.

But with Armstrong, I wanted to know.  I have always loved watching the Tour de France, have been fascinated by the beauty of the peloton.  Now that I’ve started cycling much more myself I have an even bigger love for the sport.  And Armstrong is, quite simply, the face of cycling.  A hero for some, and undoubtedly a legend.

When Armstrong’s doping was first revealed, I was not surprised, but I was sad.  I wanted to believe in the legend.  I wanted to believe that humans were capable of what he and his teammates accomplished.  And maybe they are, or close to it, but that’s something we just don’t know.

What we do know is that drugs can make people accomplish incredible things, and act like total and complete jerks.

So, I watched Part I of the Oprah interview, and was both horrified and devastated by the details.  The direct intimidation of Armstrong’s teammates and threats to kick them off when they wouldn’t participate.  Lawsuits against people who knew the truth and had the audacity to tell it.  And then, there’s the vastness and complexity of the doping methods.  Back dating prescriptions are one thing, but secret mid-tour flights to Spain for blood tranfusions?  This is like serious, gross, novel-worthy conspiracy stuff.

Maybe I’ll have something more interesting to say in a few days.  For now, enjoy the (as always) witty and snarky Bike Snob’s take here and here.

And to further lighten things up, here’s a little fun to keep you occupied in for Part 2 of the interview tonight, if you can stand anymore (I’m not sure my stomach or my heart are strong enough).  Hey, it’s more early morning training-friendly than a drinking game.