Storing and Displaying Racing “Stuff”

I generally feel like I haven’t been racing all that long, but I ran my first half marathon in 2010 and haven’t stopped since.  So over all of those years, I’ve accumulated a lot of race medals and other related things, and I thought it might be fun to share how I store and display and encourage others to do the same.  I’m always looking for new and fun ideas.  (And yes, I know there are plenty of people who just throw their medals into boxes in the back of their closets.  Clearly, that is not me.)

Race medals as of the beginning of August.

These are my running medals.  I’m not exactly sure how many are there, but there were some years where I raced a lot.  My runDisney medals are on their own separate hanger, partly because I love them and partly because I actually have the second hanger bar hung lower because the medals are so huge.  Assuming all goes well at this year’s SpaceCoast Half Marathon and I get the fifth and final medal in the series (plus the second piece of bonus bling), I’m considering getting a separate hanger so I can display all of my awesome space shuttle medals.  I don’t often race for medals, but I definitely want those five shuttles.

Triathlon Medals as of the beginning of August

These are my triathlon medals (and one swim race medal), which hang separately.  Clearly not as numerous, but I’m pretty proud of these.

As you can tell, these all hang near windows, so they’re tough to photograph.  They’re all in the basement, which is where I also keep my treadmill and bike trainer.

Army Ten Miler coins, with plenty of space for many more years of running

The Army Ten Miler does finisher’s coins, which I absolutely love.  Clearly, I love this race, as I’ve only lived in DC since 2007, and I’ve run the race every year starting in 2008.  It’s one of my favorite races all year, and I even forced myself through it last year, two weeks after Augusta 70.3.  If someone else could run it on prosthetic legs, I could certainly run it on tired legs.

I keep all of my race bibs on a display my sister bought me.  It’s designed so you can hang them straight on the hooks, but I have so many that I ended up putting them on rings and hanging them this way.  It’s getting to be a bit much, so I may take some of them down and put them in a box for safe keeping.

Hanging above the bibs is my first marathon bib.  That one will always be special to me, so it gets its own spot.  I’m considering doing the same with my Augusta bib.

In front of my treadmill, I have these two things hanging on the wall.  The clock is actually an award from Giant Acorn, and I love that it has the wacky squirrel on it.  (Also, it tells time, which is useful.)  I also have a poster that I got after my first marathon, which is great inspiration when the training gets tough.

Finally, I have a box of stuff.  This is where I toss things that I want to save after a race.  In here, I’ve got programs from some of my first races, cool handouts, the rack labels from my Rev3 races (I’m not sure why I need to save these, I just do), stuff from virtual races, etc.  I should probably go through this and figure out what I no longer really need to keep, but it doesn’t take up much space, so for now, it’s fine.  It’s also a good place to put my bibs once I cull through the hanger.

How do you store your racing stuff?  Do you keep any of it or does it all get tossed right away?

 

Does Cheating Expose a Deeper Problem?

tswedensky / Pixabay

I’m not going to lie – I love Marathon Investigation.  This started as a way to track down people who cheated to get into Boston.  And it was amazing to see just how many people cheated, and the incredibly inventive way that they cheated.  The site then began to profile other cheaters, mostly people who cheated to get on the podium, but they also occasionally point out people who simply cheat so they can claim they finished.  They also pointed out people who bandited races, either by copying someone else’s bib or running with an old bib (or without a bib at all).

Don’t get me wrong – cheating is always wrong.  I have seen course cutting so many times at Disney races and it makes me mad every time, even though those cheaters would argue that by cutting the course, they didn’t hurt anyone.  I can understand this argument.  They didn’t push someone else off the podium or take a Boston spot or take aid on the course that they didn’t pay for.

But by cutting the course, by lying about their finish, they are harming the sport.  They are saying that it is okay to lie so that you can get a finisher’s medal and proudly proclaim that you finished the race.  I don’t understand this at all.  Why would you want to lie about your accomplishments?  What do you really gain?  And the fact that this doesn’t make sense to me says that there is probably something wrong in how we look at racing.

This week, a teammate of mine got called out by Marathon Investigation for cutting a race course.  She had previously been disqualified by that race.  I admit that I didn’t know her well, and I haven’t talked to her since the piece was published.  I don’t know what happened, but the evidence does not look good for her.  She is no longer on our team, but that doesn’t mean that she is being shunned by the group.  Instead, the leadership has opted to reach out to her and offer assistance.

[W]e have reached out to the athlete and offered to find any resources that will be helpful to her in dealing with this. While it is right and mandatory to speak out against cheating and doping ALWAYS, we also recognize this is a human with feelings. We can all shame her mercilessly on social media and drive her deeper into a hole, or we can try to help her resolve any issues so they no longer hurt her or anyone else around her in the future.

I can understand being in the middle of a race and wanting to quit.  (And sometimes, quitting is the smart thing if you’re sick or injured.)  I have definitely been in races where I’ve thought “Hey, I could just cut the course there and be done!”  Of course, it wasn’t a serious thought.  I It was about as serious as thinking “I could just grow wings and fly through the rest of the race.”

I also know that there have been races that I have been determined to finish because I didn’t want to tell people that I didn’t.  The fear of failure is honestly often my training motivation when I’m just not feeling it.  I don’t want to not finish a race and have to share that.  Not with my friends and family – they don’t care.  But since I do put all of my training out on the internet, it is scary to think that I might have to also share that I failed.

But you know what?  A DNF isn’t failure.  Things happen.  Injuries, illnesses, weather, heck some days you’re just not feeling great for whatever reason.  A DNF says “I tried, and it wasn’t my day.”

We need to remember to be supportive of people no matter what happens at their races.  We need to remember that we are all in this for fun (with the exception of the pros, who I hope are partly in it for fun), and that it will be more fun if we support each other.  Who knows what drives people to cheat.  But rather than point and laugh, we should offer help and be ready to listen when they want to talk.  Sure, some people may not want help. But simply by supporting others when they are successful and when they may be less successful, maybe we can reduce the number of people who think that they have to cut a course or lie about their finish times.

In sum, be nice to people.  It’s a simple rule.

Choosing a Distance

JarkkoManty / Pixabay

This weekend, I realized just how different my training is this summer as compared to last summer.  Last year, I was focused on 70.3 training, which meant much higher mileage, especially on my bike.  A 60+ mile weekend ride was the norm, and that was easily 4-5 hours, including a stop at the gas station for snacks, a bathroom break, and refilling water.

This weekend, I did have a 9 mile run on the schedule, so not so terribly different from last summer, but my bike ride was only 2.5 hours.   I didn’t have to start at the crack of dawn and I still had a good amount of my day left.  I have to admit, I really enjoyed it.

I got out around 7:30 and rode 17 miles, then joined up with the group at Princeton Sports and rode the same 17 mile course a second time.  Somehow, I swear those hills grew between the two rides.  It really was the perfect way to do the ride.  I had to push myself through the first part to ensure that I made it back to join the group ride, and the presence of other cyclists kept me moving through the second part.  I was still slower on the second loop, but some of that is likely also due to the warmth of the day.

(And no, I didn’t quite hit 2.5 hours – I was off my 8 minutes.)

I finished the ride not feeling completely drained, did a quick 2 mile run, went to the grocery store (sorry, fellow shoppers), managed to not buy all the food in the place, and by the time I was home and showered, still had plenty of time left in the day.

That’s not to say that I won’t ever race a 70.3 again, but I’m really enjoying the balance that I get focusing on the olympic distance.  I still worked out over 8 hours this week, and that’s with missing a workout due to work commitments.  So it’s not like I’m being lazy this summer, but I feel like I have decent balance.

Given what I have planned in my life for next year (a northern European cruise in August), I’m not sure a 70.3 fits next year, due to scheduling, vacation hours, and funds, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.  I definitely don’t want it to be a one-and-done type of thing, but I also think I may be an olympic distance athlete.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.

I think in running and triathlon, there’s this push to do the next thing.  If you run 10ks, you get asked when you’re doing your first half marathon.  Once you do a half, people ask you when you’re going to do a full marathon.  And don’t get me started on ultras.  I did two marathons.  I don’t have any desire to do another, not because I didn’t like them, but because I just didn’t want to be spending that much time training.  I still get prodded about doing a 140.6 triathlon.  I’m completely uninterested.  I need balance in my life.

Cheating Surfaces Again

People seem to always find a way to cheat.  Doping is nothing new in triathlon.  It’s clearly wrong, but it’s not new, and we all know it’s continuing.  The above is a screenshot from a post on SlowTwitch.  For anyone who can’t see the image, to summarize, a woman was caught letting air out of the tire of one of her competitors just prior to IM 70.3 Syracuse.  Thankfully, she was reported, disqualified, and the victim’s tire was reinflated.

I’m sure more reporting will come out, and I would very much like to hear from this woman why she was messing with someone else’s bike (allegedly, she claimed she was trying to inflate someone else’s tire, but got the bikes confused – if so, why did air come out of a tire and not go in?).  But the sad thing is, this isn’t a unique situation.

When athletes dope, they’re only risking their own health.  When someone messes with someone else’s equipment, they’re risking injury to that other athlete.  You might think that letting air out of someone’s tire will just make them slower, or make them have to stop to change the tube (thinking there was a puncture in it).  But this could also lead to a crash and physical injury to the athlete (or to other athletes if the crash takes down others, which can very easily happen).

You hear of all sorts of suspected sabotage.  An athlete’s seatpost suddenly drops during a race because the clamp has been loosened, even though it has never fallen before.  An athlete leaves transition and finds her brake pads are misaligned and rubbing (though this can happen from the bike being accidentally bumped in transition). Tires mysteriously go flat.  Items disappear from transition.

Of course, some of this can happen randomly or by accident.  I don’t understand how you can accidentally grab someone else’s shoes in transition, but I suppose it’s possible. And when something mechanical goes wrong on your bike, sometimes that’s just dumb luck.

But sometimes, it’s because people have decided that sabotage is a great way to cheat.  Conveniently, I’m not really competition for anyone, so let’s hope my stuff is safe.  But this really mars the spirit of triathlon.  I have seen plenty of people stop to help others during races.  We’ve all seen people helping others over the finish line.  That’s the sport I love.  And sure, you can be competitive.  You can push to be faster than someone else.  But the goal is that you are faster, not that you make someone else slower.  And there’s certainly no glory in getting there by cheating.

Race Report – Kinetic International Triathlon

Kinetic International Finishers Photo

Photo credit to Keely

Triathlon number one for the season complete!

This was the first year (I believe) for the Kinetic International distance.  I’ve done the sprint here before, and the course looked the same as Giant Acorn (though I think the bike course is reversed from the last time I raced it), so I had a general idea of what I was getting into.  And then the weather forecasts started to roll in.

Once again, I started the season with a cold, rainy triathlon.  But this year, I knew what I was getting myself into.  I was much more mentally prepared for a miserable experience, and I think that preparation made a world of difference.  Also, it wasn’t that miserable.  But I was prepared for this to be a slower race than normal.

Race morning, the temperatures were in the upper 40s, and it was raining.  Great.  Awesome.  At least the 60-something water would feel warm.  Gotta find the bright side, right?  I got in the water as early as I could, probably at least 45 minutes before my wave started.  That’s the great thing about races at Lake Anna – you can get in the water super early and just sort of splash around until your wave starts.  It’s perfect for people nervous about the open water.

I was in the very last wave, which didn’t worry me too much.  This was an international and a 70.3 distance raced together, so that meant I had no risk of being the last finisher.

When my wave finally started, I struggled to find my groove at first, most notably because it was impossible to see the buoys.  The rain had stopped for the most part, but it was foggy and just hard to sight.  Not a big deal all in all, but annoying.  The swim course was a big rectangle, so once I made the second turn to go back towards the shore, things were much easier, though at that point, the wind picked up and there was some significant chop to the water.  I can handle that as long as I can tell where I’m going.

And though it felt like it took forever, I was finally out of the water and on my way to T1.

Swim: 41:24

One downside to races at Lake Anna is the long distance to transition.  It’s paved, which is nice, but it’s just a long uphill run.  Barefoot.  And since it had rained so much, once I got to transition, everything was just a huge mudpit.  I bet the bike tracks were at least an inch deep, probably more.  So that was hilarious to deal with.  No running for me – I didn’t need to find out how much padding my wetsuit would give me if I fell.

I stripped out of my wetsuit, getting it super muddy in the process and tried to clean my feet off to get my socks and shoes on.  (Yes, I wear socks on the bike leg.  I get blisters otherwise and it’s worth the few seconds it takes me.) I also watched a guy cursing at his wetsuit because he was stuck in it.

I opted to not put on my arm sleeves since the rain had stopped and I would rather be cool than overheat.  Plus they’re so annoying to put on while wet.

I definitely wasn’t hurrying in transition, which is probably something I should work on for next race.

T1: 4:39

On to the bike leg.  I was worried that because my cleats were so filled with mud that I wouldn’t be able to clip in properly.  Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad, but future me had some serious shoe cleaning ahead of her.  I headed out on the bike, which starts with a lovely uphill.  Having done the course a number of times, I was ready.

The roads were still a bit wet but not too bad, though I was still glad I had slightly underinflated my tires, especially on some of the speedy downhills.  I had a goal pace in mind and found myself just below it, but I think I tend to overestimate my goal pace in general.  I was also struggling with some tightness in my quads because I was so freaking cold.

I was pretty pleased with how I hung in during the bike, though I wished I had brought some cookies for a snack.  I forgot how much I like snacks on the bike.  Snacks are one of the best parts about biking!

Bike: 1:41:59

T2 went much better, though again, no running through the mud, so it was a slower trek.

T2: 3:15

And on to the run.  This I was familiar with.  It was a two loop course (though they tacked on a tiny bit near transition – I guess the old course was just a little short) with a grand uphill on each loop.  Hooray.  I didn’t even bother to try to run it, knowing it would shoot my heart rate up way too fast, so I just power walked it.  The downside to that is that there are tons of spectators there.  So I just chatted and said I was getting my moneys worth out of the course.

At this point, my upper hips/butt muscles were very tight (actually, using the internet I think maybe it’s my gluteus minimus? Anyone?) and I hoped I wouldn’t be fighting this the entire run.  Thankfully it just bothered me on the hill and then faded.

Because it was still cool, I was able to set into a good rhythm.  Not quite as fast as my most recent half marathon, but that wasn’t done on bike legs, so I was pleased to find a good groove.  I got tons of compliments on my Coeur team kit – it will be on sale next season!   It was awesome to feel so good out there.

The volunteers were spectacular.  As I was coming through, the pizza lunch delivery had just come for them, and I kept threatening to steal their pizza.  The tables were manned by kids with adults supervising, and these kids were great.  Sometimes, kid volunteers get sullen or bored, but I loved the enthusiasm these kids had.

Finally, FINALLY, I was cruising in to the finish.

Run: 1:20:22

Total time: 3:51:38

Not my fastest, but far from my slowest. I was thinking I would be around 4 hours with the weather, so I’m quite happy with this.  And I knew I had a good shot at placing Athena this race seeing as there weren’t a ton of entrants.  I was hoping for second.  First was unexpected and a delightful way to start the season.

Now I need a trophy shelf in my pain cave!

After the race, I got back to transition to retrieve my poor, muddy bike, and noticed they had  put down straw in transition.  SUPER nice.  Of course, my bike still had chunks of mud all over it.  That was a problem for future me too.

And my new tip: Use a blue IKEA bag as your transition mat (or stick it under your mat/towel).  Then when you’re done, you can throw all your gross gear inside it and haul it back to your car and contain the crazy amounts of mud.  When you clean your gear, just hose down the bag too.