Monday, March 17, 2008

Miami Intl Triathlon

I had a crappy race. My first really crappy race.

It wasn't even goal induced (My aim was to "Not get last in my age" and I came in 8th out of 14). I started when I sensed their disorganization at early packet pickup and it came to a head when they announced they'd pushed back start time 35 minutes. I did not enjoy myself - it's a shame, because the course was beautiful.

I race because I love the excitement in the air; because being in the presence of superior athletes inspires me to push myself harder. I like checking out other people's tricks and hearing their stories. I like sipping out of little cups of water and pretending to pump myself up to cliche classic rock. I like waking up obscenely early and accomplishing something before my husband has even walked the dog. I like hanging my shiny new medal on my three year old when I get home and trading race stats with my friends.

What I don't like is paying for the beta race version. It was the inaugural race, so there were kinks to work out, but everything just seemed to rub me the wrong way...including the $90 entrance fee.

Early packet pickup - I arrived a half hour after it was supposed to be open. Son in tow, I drove 30 minutes to get there (pushing his nap time back so I could run in and grab the packet.) The packet folks arrived an hour after me...but they didn't bring the ankle chips. "Pick that up at the Expo" they said. (uh, what's the point of early pick up if I have to go to the expo anyway?) At Friday's Expo, they were going to charge me $5 to park (thankfully I knew the parking volunteer) then expected us to walk through abandoned area with broken glass everywhere. They advertised "Kids activities like face painting and bounce house" - nothing, just broken glass on the sandy shore. They excluded instructions explaining where all the numbers, etc go. I had to ask friend. Not much of a big deal, all this, but just slightly inconvenient. I skipped the Pasta Dinner because I just had a bad feeling it wasn't going to be worth the effort.

Race Morning - They switched parking lots from expo (okay, a little confusing, since part of the expo is casing out your "Race Morning Plan"), we had to park far away and pay $5 for it (school parking lot - not even a public/private parking lot - WTF? why not just put it on my race price of a gazillion dollars?). I'm glad I got there early since I hadn't expected the extra 10 minute pitch black walk.

I get to transition area at 6:15 am (first race at 7, my race schedule for 7:32,), I'm told I have 3 minutes to set my stuff and get out. Wha? The paper said transition area closes at 6:45! I have to rush to set up everything, get out and stand around in a jagged parking lot littered with broken glass for 45 minutes in just my suit? Not happy. I begged them to let me at least go back in and get my flip flops.

So then I realize there is no water ANYWHERE in waiting area - thank god I brought my own....oh, too bad it's locked up in transition area. Man, I'm getting thirsty. Maybe I'll just go wait in line to use the restroom to take my mind off of it. A girl comes out and says there is NO toilet paper in ANY of the 10 toilets we're waiting in front of....this is at 6:30. Okay, now I'm getting angry. Maybe I'll check out the ocean, get a few strokes in away from the start/finish. "GET OUT OF THE WATER." Alright, jerks.

I didn't eat that morning because I had it all timed out. Drink coffee pre-race, swim at 7:30, have first gu right after. It's what I do. 7am they announce my race has been pushed back to 8:05am...after the hot hot Florida sun has come up. Damn, I'm thirsty now. And I'll be hungry by 8, but my SNACKS ARE LOCKED UP IN TRANSITION AREA!!!!!!!

I'm done with the race before I even started. I was so dizzy and angry that I couldn't focus. Yes, I did better than expected, but I aimed way low. About as low as the Race Director.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Not-So-Obvious List of How to Pack for a Music Festival with a Small Child

Taking a small child to a festival can sound pretty scary. There's the heat, expensive unhealthy food, the question of napping and all the freaky people (if it's a good one). But I think it's really rewarding to dance in a field with your child, if you are prepared. In fact, I substituted it for my long run on Sunday.

While looking online to see if I'd forgotten anything, I found no help in getting ready. So, in a change from my usual posting, I've decided to write down a few things I've learned in the last 3 years of parenting-at-festivals. In addition to the usual (sunblock, water, hat), these few items can fit into a backpack (except the final two, of course).

(random video from youtube, this cute boy isn't mine)

  • Food: I don't care that festivals don't allow food. I always pack a small lunch box, aim for the security queue with a woman who looks like a mother and hope she'll know there is no joy is spending 12 hours with a toddler living on corndogs & coke. An apple, a banana, a PBJ, ziplock bag of raisins/nuts/dried fruit, an applesauce & mini spoon, a few boxes of Parmalat (boxed milk), water cup. Add a granola bar for you or whatever you need to keep you from your own melt down when you're tired and sick of waiting in the burrito line for 45 minutes. Bringing food for your kid is legit - they know you'll still spend money on beer and kettle corn.
  • Earplugs/Studio Headphones: It's so very loud, even in the back, so cover those ears so you have at least the option of heading up front with the wee one. Great for naps, too. If you don't have studio headphones or Bose sound canceling headphones, bring several pairs of the foam plugs since they are easy to lose (and oh so cheap, and I guarantee you'll be asked by another desperate-looking mother if you've got extra).
  • 2 changes of kids clothes in Gallon Ziplocks: tightly folded in large ziplock - put everything in it's own ziplock. When the chaos of the fest hits, individual see through bags make it easy to sift through. The ziplocks can be used to hold trash later.
  • Pajamas: tightly folded in large ziplock. Dress kid in PJ's as you leave venue & pray for sleep on ride home. Leave 'em in the car if the walk/ride back to your ride isn't too long.
  • Blinky Light: Put on kid when sun starts to go down and so (s)he won't beg you to buy a $12 glow toy.
  • Camera/Cell phone/Pen: Take photo of kid when you get to fest so if/when (s)he gets lost you say to staff (s)he looks exactly like this. I have a ribbon that has our info on it that I safety pin to the back of my kid's clothes and when I forget it, I just write my phone number on his arm.
  • Folding Beach Mat: I've recently discovered the absolute beauty of one of these folding mats. Not only is it totally compact & easy to fold, but you can sit in wet grass without getting wet. And if it rains or gets mud on it, it cleans up and dries quickly.
  • Small squirt Bottle: Because it's hot & water makes it tolerable. Besides, it's an activity.
  • One small imagination toy: like a truck, a couple matchbox cars, an inflatable ball, doll, or a shovel.
  • Jogging stroller: You need giant wheels to get you through the grass, mud and rugged terrain of a festival. You need a place for your child to nap. You need instant shade. If emptied of valuables, it can be left anywhere. No one is going to steal it (people leave tents, blankets and chairs near stages, your stoller is no different).
  • Prepped Car: Leave behind in the car a bottle of water (because you'll never be able to find water once you leave), bedtime stuff (blankie/animals/box of milk) and change of clothes for you . Keep an extra snack/sandwich/munchie for the ride home. You might want to have wipes (for a hippie bath) and a pillow.
Anyhow - If it sounds like a lot, it really isn't. I haven't ventured camping at a fest with my boy, yet, but that's more because I can't talk his dad into it. And of course, I only have one, so I'm sure it's easier than it would be with more children.

I'm curious to learn your "Big Event" packing strategies.  Go on, share....HERE.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Motivator

Last night, my three year old was a HERO.
He was applauded and cheered for.
He inspired dozens and dozens of people to push themselves harder than they thought they could.
He motivated a 30-something athletic man to run a bit faster than he planned on.
He helped shave 3 minutes off a young woman's Personal Record.
He sat patiently in his stroller as I raced an 8K.

Nothing motivates runners to pick up their pace like being passed by a stroller.

(thanks to Vancouver Dad for the photo)