How I Was Able to Litter and Spit on the Streets of Singapore

The announcements were beautifully coordinated by the dutiful DJ.

“Orange cappers, remember these four words: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY” (*Listen to your heart*- Roxette)

“If something doesn’t feel right, slow down, take it easy” (*Take it eaaaasssyy*- Eagles)

“And if it doesn’t get better, don’t be shy to take a break or even stop” (*STOP! In the name of love*- The Supremes)

“Lastly, on the bike course, keep to the left” (*To the left, to the left*- Beyoncé)

It was hot. Already at 9.40am, the sun beat down on the group of orange-capped swimmers lined up to start the Singapore Sprint Triathlon. To my dismay, the announcer added that due to some medical attention out on the water where the men had already begun their race, we would have to “wait a while” (an expression, I was learning, meant to describe less time compared to its common use in the US). From where we waited on the beach, the medical boat was visible on the murky, light blue choppy waters beside the triangular swim course outlined against an endless backdrop of container ships. Within a few minutes, we were given the All Clear and plunged into the warm, salty ocean.

While I relished the familiar atmosphere and positive energy of the race, it was thrilling to experience the differences to races I’d done in Germany and the US. Between markers, tattoos and no-numbers, I’d encountered a variety of methods for body marking for example, but getting stamped like a horse (with ink) was definitely new! I’d also never encountered a swim course that had a lane line strung along its entire length! That’s a very long lane line! Then, when I got to the bike course, it took an entire lap to get comfortable with riding on the left, but passing on the right, while maneuvering over several speed humps. The most fun I had though was on the run course. At five different water stations, I had the privilege of spitting my gurgled water and throwing my empty plastic cup directly on the Singaporean street. Nowhere else did that feel so cool!

While this race included many novelties, those mentioned above seem very minor compared with the sobering news I received later in the day. The medical emergency that delayed my wave’s start resulted in the death of a 42-year-old Briton, who drowned. Besides the mild guilt I felt for my impatience and for racing and having fun during such tragedy, despite being uninformed, this also put into question the sense of safety and security I have developed at triathlon events until I learned that he had also experienced a heart attack during the swim.

Nonetheless, this was an enriching and fun event to participate in and even though it took place on the other side of the globe, I felt right at home!



Washington Sprint: Transitions were the difference for a win

Starting Gun

Do you ever practice or think about Transitions?   Sure, you do your swim, bike & run training, but do you ever “train” or practice your transitions?   Do you look to see what the athletes with the fastest transition times spend vs. what time you spend in transitions and then think about how you can trim off seconds on your time?  Maybe you can skip putting socks on (practice running with no socks first!)   I know it’s only seconds and not much of a big deal compared to swim, bike & run times.   But someday, it may be the difference between on the podium and not being on the podium.   In my case, it was the difference for winning the whole event.

Washington Sprint 2017:    The water quality of the Pamlico River wasn’t good enough to swim in so this year’s event was changed to a Duathlon format.    I knew there were some pretty fast runners in the event, so my goal was to stay near them in the first run (0.5 miles), put as much distance on them as I could in the bike and try to hold them off in the final 5K.    I was in 6th Place going into T1 but with the fastest T1 transition time, I left the Transition Area in 2nd Place.   It was a nice mental boost having a quick transition and I quickly passed the fastest runner on the bike.  I was able to build about a 2 minute lead on the bike over the next 2 competitors.   Now came the final run.  I made a note of the time as I reached the midpoint of the “out & back” run.   I had about a 40 second lead.  I had no idea if that was enough but I was definitely worried as 2 runners running together tend to push each other.  I had to push myself and kept telling myself they were getting closer and catching me.  I was running scared.  In the end, I was able to cross the finish line in 1st place.  The margin of victory:  15 seconds.      My total transition time was 35 seconds.   What was the total transition time of the 2nd place athlete?  1:12 which is a difference of 37 seconds!    His transition time cost him the win!  

Don’t let your transition time cost you.   Practice it.  Ask others how they do it.  Try new things and you will be faster.   It’s not much time, but someday it may make a difference.   My brother, Brian, taught me all he learned in his first 5 years of triathlon.  I’m very thankful that he impressed on me the importance of a quick transition time.  It really isn’t that hard if you get in the habit of being quick, efficient and stingy with every second.   In this case, it gave me my 1st win in a Duathlon!



Returning to the Races after Baby

Take a look at the team photo and there’s something…different…about the gal on the far right. That’s me, with the huge belly poking out.  Fast forward a couple months to mid-May and that’s when my family’s new addition, Cora Kate Harrison, arrived.  I was thrilled that the pregnancy and delivery was relatively easy compared to past experiences, which included tragic loss in one and 4 months of bedrest during another.  I was also glad to hear the doctor’s were fully supportive of me returning to my previous activities as I was comfortable (though I’m not really sure they fully understood what that meant for us crazy triathletes).

Fast forward again a couple months and training was back on in earnest.  Being on the team is a big motivator for me in itself–I want to make my team and sponsors proud!  I also wanted to get back something for me.  Since all the races would have to be late in the season, it panned out that the Rex Wellness Wakefield Sprint would be my first race, followed shortly by the White Lake Sprint and so on.  The date on the calendar makes a world of difference in training focus.  The Wakefield Sprint would be when my daughter is just shy of 3 months old.  How would that go?  Well, only way to find out was go for it!

Training after just having a baby is a very humbling experience.  Yes, I just grew a human. I know. I’m not saying I expected to be right back where I was.  But I have to admit– I forgot what it’s like to try to get back into shape from a spot like this.  It’s rough.  Out of breath. Legs and lungs burning. Exhausted… at a pace slower than my old warm-up.  Ouch.  Goals for the efforts and outcomes each workout have to be adjusted big-time.  It can be done and plugging away will have its rewards, in time.

The first race back was purely about getting back into the environment of a race.    Unfortunately, a mid-August race on the Wakefield course means pretty brutal conditions–hot, humid, and hilly!  There’s a part of me that really wanted to stand on the podium with a baby under 3 months old, but the hills on the run were just too much.  On a positive note, the swim and bike legs were strong, with times in the top of my age group.  I finished 5th in the 35-39 age group, just 17 seconds off the podium (argh!).  However, it was a great morning and I was pleased to be back.

The 2nd race was at White Lake for the Fall Sprint. To sum up, the conditions for the race were much better, and the run gives me hope for the future that better times aren’t too far off.   I can’t use podium placement for comparison since I was the only one in my division, so having an overall female top 10% finish feels satisfying.  Cora is almost 4 months old. Not bad.

So two more races left and I’m already thinking of how I can work on things over the off-season.  For me, it’s a way of having a part of myself that’s just me and in turn makes me a better mom. We all need an outlet.  Some may say it’s crazy to be back racing when baby is 3 months old. But for me, it’s a way to be motivated to stay healthy for years to come, relieve stress, and keep daily life from being all-consumed by other people (namely little ones that share my last name).  Big thanks to my husband who helps make the time for my training.  Thanks too to the team for supporting me through this journey.  I’m grateful to be a part of such a great community of athletes and friends.  It’s good to be (getting) back.

TMS-IOS athletes at the Rex Wellness Sprint-Wakefield in Aug 2017

TMS-IOS athletes Tom Lehr, Geraldine Walker, Doracy Harrison, and Mary RobbinsRex Wellness Sprint-Wakefield in Aug 2017.