Flowers & Favors
Megan & Meade
Elizabeth, Megan, Alex
Megan & Aron
Megan and Tracy
Alex & Bear
Megan & Becka
The race weekend started on Friday with packet pick-up at Two Wheeler Dealer and a participant meeting at Wrightsville Beach Park. We met Gail & Bob Crutchfield and Julie Stocks and were introduced to their relay team from Whiteville. We paced out the run from the end of the swim at Seapath Marina to the Transition Area. Plus, Neal and I scoped out my spot in the bike racks. Here is a before and after shot.
A little girl spelled out: Go Triathletes! in the sand.
Sunrise on the participants:
Here I am in Transition 1 (T1). It felt like I took forever to don my helmet, shoes, gloves, watch, hairband, and race skirt, but my T1 time was 2:37. I actually cut my time by 1 minute from my last race at White Lake - which is huge! Here are a few shots and video:
Our 12 mile bike took us over the WB drawbridge, up Airlie Road, to Greenville Loop, back down Oleander to Eastwoood and back to the beach. Dottie Sauer [Neal's mom] cheered me on at mile 2 and mile 9 on the corner of Airlie and Oleander. Kathryn, Suzanna and Jacob Webster were cheering for me a the Lowe's Foods on Greenville Loop, and Anna and Parker had cowbells and pots and pans near the muni golf course! I finished in 43:03! [My goal was 45:00.]
I didn't feel so hot at the end of the bike - I had a stitch in my side and I was simply THIRSTY! [Um....that's what swimming in salt water does...hello!?]. My main goal was to run the entire way...and I did it! Megan and Alex gave me a BIG boost in downtown WB. Hearing Alex say: go Bessie! was awesome! Colin met me at mile 2.5 on the shady side of the course. He ran with me and for a few yards and pepped me up and then we passed Joyce, Dad, Dottie, Anna, Neal, Parker (who gave me a high five!), Amy, Connie, Caitlyn, Emilie and Finn!
I want to thank everyone for helping me eat so much junk food, but especially for coming to show your support and to cheer me on. I know the other athletes loved seeing you and hearing you, too. I may not have won an award for my finish but I should have won an award for the most fans! You all deserve medals for your enthusiasm and time and interest!
Sonja, Eddie and their boys were here for Independence Day, too! Drew & Nathan pose with their ribbons after the Seaside Club relay races.
The Joneses came to visit.
The back roads from I-26 to Greenwood were amazing. If I had had the time to stop in Lexington, S.C., I would have. It had a small-town feel and reminded me a lot of Whiteville. I was blessed by sunny skies, rolling country hills and the Dave Matthews Band channel on XM radio most of the way.
The service was short and very sweet. The officients who eulogized Jack, were eloquent and funny and poignant and loving. They recounted stories of his love of fishing and woodworking and of being a meat-and-potatoes man. My favorite story was of an early morning fishing trip where some Canadian geese flew low over the boat at sunrise. Jack's remark was something like, how can you not believe in God when you see something like that?
My view on Tuesday morning
Neal and I started the weekend at the participant meeting at the NCFFA Camp on Saturday evening. We drove to White Lake, NC, which is about 7 miles from Elizabethtown. We picked up my packet, complete with official WLS tee and my race number (133) for my swim, bike and run. We browsed the expo and dipped our toes in the water. It was a beautiful night and the water was warm (about 75 degrees) and I decided that I would be able to swim on Sunday without my wetsuit top.
On Sunday morning, we left Wilmington at 6:00am and arrived at the camp/event site around 7:15. We parked outside the event on Highway 53. Neal and I both biked to the camp. I dropped off my bike and headed to the body marking and chip timing stations. I had to send Neal back to the car to get my water bottle for my bike. One of the secret weapons I learned from Cheryl Osborne (my mentor for the SheRox Tri) was to freeze the water in an insulated bottle overnight. By the time I was on the bike I had some righteous cold water to quench my thirst!
I went back to the bike and set up my gear. My bike was on the outside of the rack which is a huge plus. When you're in a transition area with almost 700 bikes you can get discombobulated. Someone had already marked the outside of the rack with a carolina blue sock, so I marked my bike seat with my cowboy hat.
The next 45 minutes seemed to stretch on forever. The race was set-up in a wave format. The fastest of the fast (elites) go first and every 5-7 minutes another wave is released. The first wave started at 8:00am and my wave of 35-39 year-old women and the Athena division had a start time of 8:32. I stretched, jumped in the water, tested my swim cap, my goggles and my stroke. Repeat.
Thinking peaceful thoughts.
FINALLY, the horn sounded and we were off!
I was really excited about my swim despite a shaky start. My left goggle lens was foggy so I had a hard time sighting the first turn buoy. I also started out way left which probably slowed me down BUT, my my stroke was even at the first turn and my last 300 yards were fast!
Neal, my GAS man (gear-and-support) met me a the end of the swim and let me know I was right on pace. He followed me to the bike transition area which I think I raced through in under 3:00 minutes. (My results lump my transitions in with the bike segment so I'm not positive about exact T1 and T2 times). The bike is a 14-mile, 2 lap course around the lake. The course is flat as a fritter but it was WINDY! On mile 5-6 and mile 14-15 I slowed from a 3:32 mph pace to about 4:40mph. Yuck! I literally shook my fist at the wind during the second lap. Overall, I was pleased with my effort on the bike: my max speed was 21 mph and my middle miles were faster than my first lap. I basically did intervals on my second lap: 2 minutes hard and 1 minute recovery. Plus, I passed a 25-year-old with a tricked-out Trek. HA! My estimated bike time (without transitions): 50 minutes.
I was so excited to cross that finish line. One thing I love about triathlons is that there are two timing mats at the end of the race. The first timing mat gives your race info to the announcer and the second mat records your finish time. As you run over the finish mat, you can hear the announcer say, "from Wilmington, North Carolina.....Elizabeth Andrew!" I like it!
Mark your calendars for the morning of SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19. That's my next triathlon and it's here in Wilmington! It's the YMCA Tri at Wrightsville Beach and there's still time for you to enter! If you don't want to compete with me, you can join EA Sports. Not that EASports it's Elizabeth Andrew Sports! You can be a part of my cheer squad. I would love to have people scattered along the course to cheer me on. It truly makes me faster. Maybe we'll have a party after at the nearest Chick-fil-A! :)
What a trip! I fell in love this weekend with CHICAGO! Last Thursday, Shelley Cavenaugh and I left Wilmington to join Anna and Molly Thompson in the Windy City. Our main event: the OPRAH SHOW! (More on that in a minute.)
Shelz and I arrived at the "all-suites Omni hotel in the heart of Chicago's Magnificent Mile" around 3pm. After their lunch, Anna and Molly met us in the room and we began our adventure. We went to Banana (as in Republic) and then to Bistro 110 for drinks. After that we went to H&M and Giordano's for deep dish pizza.
After the show, she explained: less than 12 hours earlier, they didn't have a show. Caroline Kennedy canceled. Garth Brooks canceled. Two other ideas fell through. Oprah even suggested that they cancel the show and the audience could have doughnuts and coffee and pictures with her (wouldn't that have been the BOMB?). I got a little teary when she said that they had to show up for the audience. How easy would it have been to give in. They had pulled several all-nighters, traveled to D.C. and back and had everything that could go wrong in one show, go wrong. But they showed up. Even on a bad day.
We went to a pub down the street that sold Fat Tire beer. Yum.
After the pub, we went to dinner at Cafe Babareeba. An incredibly huge tapas and paella joint with great sangria and more Fat Tire. We played the Four C's game and I quizzed everyone on their answers to the Pivot Questionnaire. Which, in retrospect was a great funny bone warm-up to The Second City performance that we attended at 10pm! It was the funniest thing I've ever seen live. Incredible, smart humor and pratfalls galore. Can't wait to see these actors on prime-time someday. Shelz and I stayed for the improv routine afterwards and it was worth it!
a personal record for a half marathon
I hope you have your own highlights and remember these over the low-lights. May the new year bring you many blessings.
WHAT IT WAS WAS FOOTBALL
This past weekend, I finally coerced Neal into walking the hallowed grounds of Chapel Hill. Actually, back in January, he requested away tickets to the Wolfpack v. Tarheel matchup. We hit the Hill with Tony Stroud and Chris Manning and despite the loss we had a great time. I felt a little teary entering the stadium. After all, I hadn't been back to Kenan since graduation day. I felt a little teary leaving, too. After all, I hadn't had a butt-kicking that bad in a long while.
My highlights (aside from the masked Chick-fil-A man in section 103 - see below): Cook Out Chocolate Malt Milk Shake. Divine.
Here are some pix of Sugar that you may or may not have seen. For other pix, you can visit my Picasa site.
Amy, Colin and I arrived at the Battleship around 6:45am. We stayed warm in the car before the race and I tried to keep my nerves under control. The day was beautiful. I think it was in the upper 40s when we started and warmed up to the mid 50s. The course took us over the Isabel Holmes bridge, through downtown Wilmington, around Greenfield lake and over the Memorial bridge. The best thing we did was park Amy's car at a spot on the lake - and so we had a 5-minute tailgate party/pit stop. We loaded up with water, sport beans and ACTIVEON (apply directly to where it hurts!)
Here comes the pack. And here we are - surprised to see Dad & Anna!
Below: Colin at the Lake.
We had dinner at the Sunset Terrace (the covered porch above) after we settled into our room. Neal had filet and I had the triggerfish. Then we donned our fancy spa robes and hit the mineral pools at the Spa.
The next morning we woke to fog:
On Tuesday morning, we played 18 holes at the Donald Ross-designed GPI Country Club. I did not do very well (I haven't practiced in months). But Neal did well. He parred a few holes and didn't lose a single ball. I lost four balls - but only one in the water. I also found a knack for hitting the cart paths.
This rock has no significance other than it avoided my tee shot.
On Tuesday night, we had dinner with Chris and Raleigh Battista in downtown Asheville. Here they are near (Raleigh did NOT want to go in) one of the GIANT fireplaces in the Grove Park Inn's Great Hall.
On Wednesday, Neal and I spent most of the day at the Spa. We had a continental breakfast at the Club Level lounge and I headed off to a massage. I chose to have hot stones, deep tissue and reflexology. It was AMAZING.
That evening we had dinner at the Club Level lounge. They served drinks and heavy appetizers from 5pm - 7:30pm and we took advantage of the buffalo wings! We went down to the Great Hall and scoped out the view of the sunset from one of the porches.
We lit a fancy cigar from our last trip to the Turks & Caicos and watched the sun set.
Here's a video from our day on the course:
I DID IT!
On Sunday, September 14, 2008, I finished my first sprint Triathlon in Charlotte. I can't believe it's over! Months of training paid off and I finished faster than I projected in each leg of the race. My total time was
Neal and I arrived at the race site at dark-thirty (5:10 am). The full moon was setting and it was pitch black. I have never been so nervous! I got my body marked (No. 19) on both arms and my age on my right calf. The race instructor told us that it may sound official, but that age was essential during the race. "If you are a 40-year-old like me," she said, "and you see someone fly past you on the run course, check out her leg. If it has a big 23 on it, you just let her go on by." I used that advice several times!
Here I am before the sun even came up, prepping for the swim by posing like an Olympian:
We were sent out into the lake in waves. The open division - the fastest - are sent first and then we were sent out according to ages. I think there were 30-40 women in my wave. Each wave wears a different colored cap.
Above and Below: My smile and silliness contradict my fear.
I'm the one in the white cap:
I finished the swim in 19:35 and ran up the hill to the transistion area where the bikes are stored.
I had to remove cap and goggles, rinse my feet, dry off, put on socks, shoes, helmet, gloves, shirt, watch and shades for the T1 transition. I did all that in 3 minutes. (I bet Neal wishes I could get ready that fast every day!)
Then I'm off on the 17-mile bike:
The bike was my favorite part. It was beautiful and fun. The first half was mostly uphill - about 150-foot slooooow climb. For the first of the ride, I heard a lot of "on your left" as some speed demons were passing. Six miles in, I had had about enough of that and decided to hand out a few myself as I passed some cyclists who looked younger and fitter on the outside - but weren't
like me. :)
I finished the bike course in 1:04:52 - about 15 minutes faster than I thought I would. The run was the hardest part of the race. It was a very hilly 3.1 miles on trails. I beat my projected time and came in at 33:33! I will have to say that this was the most encouraging race. Throughout the run I heard, "you're almost at the turnaround", "you're looking great", "it's downhill just ahead." That kept a smile on my face!
THE BIG FINISH!
The finish party was great. As we crossed the line, they presented us with icy cold water and our finisher's jewelry: a three-strand bracelet with a SheRox charm.
I couldn't have done it without my support team. Cheryl Todd was my mentor for the event. She helped prepare me with encouraging emails and information for every step of the journey. She coached me through the practice swim at Lake Norman last month and kept up with my training (and news of the pups!). She was a great inspiration and she came in FOURTH OVERALL. She REALLY rocks.
I couldn't have done it without Anna, either. She was as nervous as I was on race day! She and Neal both brought their bikes and she was able to catch me at least six times on the route - including mile 15 of the bike and twice on the run! She made me cry lots after the race but she also congratulated me with my favorite bubbly - Moet & Chandon White Star Champagne!!!
I love you, Noonie.
Last, but not least, thank you to Neal. He was my main SAG (support and gear). He kept saying that he believed in me and that I had trained hard and was going to do great (even when I considered going home at about 4:15am that morning). He was the best cheerleader on each leg - I could hear him each time he yelled: BETH, YOU ROCK! I think he does, too.
That afternoon we drove home and I was greeted with brownies and cards (from Dad & Joyce) and Daisies and great Tri stickers from the Websters. I donned my new bracelet (this picture doesn't do it justice) and headed to Trask Coliseum to see SUGARLAND.
They put on a great show and I had the BEST time celebrating! I was on the first row of bleachers and could practically touch Jennifer and Kristian! They were on fire.
They even played the song I was praying for: We Run.
Smells like rain, hits like thunder
A storm is coming, I've got nothing left
So we run, yeah yeah yeah we run
Come undone like a string on a sweater
That you pull but you know better
But doing what you shouldn't's half the fun
so we run .....
It was such a great experience and I can really see myself doing another one! I even found out today that I'm the "cover girl" for the
. Thank you to everyone for being so supportive for so many months of me talking Triathlon. I can't believe it's over and so many of you had a hand in my journey. I am grateful for you all.
There is nothing like the JOY of accomplishing something you NEVER thought you could do.
I am a Triathlete. Holy Cow!
On Thursday, Neal and I headed west to the Charlotte area for my Tri! Along the way we paid a visit to our puppy in Gastonia. Anita and Paul Pennell welcomed the two of us, plus Sonja (Neal's sister) and our nephews Drew and Nathan to their home to sit with the two-week-old pups.
On Saturday, we had a break in our agenda and visited AGAIN (I couldn't resist). They were peeking through mostly open eyes and starting to scooch around.
This one is from Thursday:
She stuck with Neal nearly the whole time. It must have been his brown shirt.
The Countdown is On!!! You can see more pix on Picasa.
Instead of swimming back, I hoisted myself onto the nearest dock, rinsed myself off and jogged bare-footed back to the Seaside Club. Neal, who was my SAG (support and gear), caked on some Benedryl cream (that expired in 1999) and I decided to finish the second leg of the race - the 15 mile bike ride that ended at home. I reapplied my anti-sting cream (Neal bought some brand-new version on the way home - awwwwww!) and I headed out for the 3.1 mile run!
My face burned for the rest of the day and there's a hint of a red swoosh on my cheek. (Maybe I'll be the new cover girl for Nike). My new mantra: on PHIRE TO THE PHINISH.
This video was created by the team at PC3 for our latest message series. This is how I've been training for the Triathlon during the rain. I think you'll love Bob.
PUPPIES: On Thursday I visited Anita and Paul Pennell at the Carolina Kennels in Gastonia. I met Vicki (our mom), Skye, Murphy and Precious. I spent close to two hours visiting in the kitchen with them and I'm so impressed! We talked puppies and grooming and discipline and crate training and whelping.....phew! All the dogs were very well-behaved and not as hyper as I've been led to believe. The Pennells have a similar philosophy to ours: a tired dog is a good dog.
Vicki reminded me a ton of Maggie. She came over and leaned against me and I got all teary! She is due next Tuesday and we'll be able to visit in September when we go for the triathlon. Plus, they will update us with pictures throughout the first few weeks. Our adoption day will be in week 8! Yay! You can check out some pix of puppies here. Right now, the leading name on our list is Carolina's Masonboro Sugaree. (We'll call her Sugar)
PANIC: I am not talking about the southern-rockin'-jam-band-from-Athens, Georgia that we just saw at the House of Blues. I am talking heart-sinkin'-mind-skewin'-fear-pulsin' panic. On Saturday, I was at the Cornelius, NC YMCA for a practice open water swim in prep for the triathlon! There were close to 300 people total and they had us swim out in waves of 40-50 at a time. I was in the fourth wave with my tri mentor Cheryl Todd. When they announced our turn, we waded into the water, got accustomed to the temp and the mushy lake bottom and adjusted goggles and caps. When the whistle blew everyone took off in a moderately mad dash to the first buoy. I felt the panic about 50 yards out. I kept bumping into the person in front of me. I swallowed water. I got a little off course. I couldn't find my rhythm and my breathing was crazy. My thoughts: I'mgoingtodrownthere'sacanoeI'lljusthangontoitorturnaroundI'mnevergoingtomakeit.
Fortunately, the night before Leanne Greco had given me some sage advice: Pheel the Phelps. I had it written on my arm along with PHINISH. I stopped. I tread water. I read the words on my arm. I started the breast stroke instead. I stayed on course to the first buoy. I did the freestyle to the second buoy. I switched up my stroke on the back stretch and didn't have to stop! In fact, I even passed a few people!
After the swim, Cheryl coached me on how to set up for the T1 - the first transition when you come out of the water and jump on the bike. I was also able to visit Latta Plantation Preserve - an equestrian/nature preserve in Huntersville - to test my hill riding and running skills. I can't believe I have a month to go! Wish me luck!