For the sake of time

January, June, same thing, right? Sure. Here’s a quick recap of the past few months. You’ll notice the theme of time not always being on my side.

January: My last blog post. Elliott and I had just come back from Minnesota and Canada, so you’d think we had checked the box on winter. Nope. I was quietly scheming with my dad and brother to fly out to California to surprise my mom for her birthday. We had a house near Truckee that was adjacent to some trails so we could snowshoe out the door. Literally. I think it snowed over five feet while we were there. And since I was on vacation, every day was a snow day with no work!

Not your typical Monday.

February: I got to venture up to Pittsburgh for work to explore their robotics and venture capital scenes. Between Carnegie Mellon University, a new Army Futures Command outpost, and the medical community, that city is surprisingly vibrant on the innovation front. My favorite new gadget was from a student pitch competition: a toilet seat with sensors that alerts the hospital if the user is showing unusual changing in heart rate, heart rate variability, weight, etc. It’s such a great example of weaving the intervention (in this case, follow up care for heart patients) into people’s usual behavior. As they say, everyone poops.

Coming soon to an Uber near you!

March: Time to rip off the bandaid with the first race of the season. In this case, it was a swim meet at William & Mary College in Williamsburg, VA. Even though I have no affiliation with the school, I train with their alumni swim team, and this was the annual home meet. Rather than just registering for some short/fun events, Coach Liz had me do the 200 and 1000 free, plus a 50 breast (some fun after all!) and two relays. I hadn’t raced the 200 since high school or the 1000 ever, so it was nice to not worry about expectations or setting a PR. Most of the team stayed overnight, and I got to get totally lost in the running trails near campus with Liz the next morning.

And I only faceplanted once!

March also saw a big professional moment for me: I spoke on a panel at South By Southwest Interactive! Avid readers of the blog (hi, Mom) will know that I have attended the event twice, and always had the goal in the back of my mind of “someday, maybe, I’ll give a presentation. Or something.” That someday was March 11, 2019, when I spoke on a panel about storytelling in the Intelligence Community, along with some amazing colleagues from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Having spent most of my career in a place where the whole point is to keep things secret, it was scary to put myself out there but also invigorating to see the positive reaction from the crowd. Several people came up to us afterward and said that they hadn’t known the intel community valued innovation and inclusion, and that we were, you know, real people.

Somehow I doubt James Bond would have had this much fun with a name tent. #itme

April: My first tri of the season! Or not. For those of you not familiar with the sport, triathletes tend to not race all that often (maybe a half dozen times per season, or even less, if longer distances), and races sometimes sell out, so it’s very common to plan an entire season six months before it starts. In my case, Liz and I set up the race schedule in November and I registered for many of the events in December, when prices were low. Set it and forget it, right? Fast forward to April. I was getting ready to race Rumpus in Bumpass sprint: bike was clean, hotel was booked, workouts were short, etc. But something was missing: a pre-race email. Usually, those arrive the Wednesday before the race. Huh. I didn’t think much about it until Friday morning, when I was at work with my bike and gear, ready to drive down to central Virginia that night. Hmmm. My teammates confirmed that an email had gone out. Looking at the start list, I most definitely was not on it. But what about my email confirmation? There were the confirmations for all the other races…but not this one. Not sure what happened; maybe I missed a final “confirm” screen back in December, but I had definitely not registered for this one. The race wasn’t sold out, but it was just a local sprint race that would have been great at the $80 price point in December, but not the $200 or so it would cost to register on race day. Oh well.

On the more positive side, April also saw the annual DC Tri Club Elite Team camp. This is my first year on the team, and it’s pretty amazing. We rented a lake house in North Carolina, so we could easily swim, bike, and run out the front door. Plus, two of our sponsors (Georgetown Sports Massage and Justin Durner Photography) trekked out with us, so we were able to recover in style and have photos to prove it.

I honestly don’t remember what Kelly and I found so funny. But there you go.
Pic: Justin Durner, of course!

May: Ok, finally, actually some triathlons! Or one, anyway. I did the Kinetic double again, and for yet another year, the Saturday was kind of a bummer. In this case, I managed to injure my finger during the swim. No idea how that happened–maybe I hit someone on the head?–but when I came out of the water and tried to put on my bike shoes, my finger wasn’t working. Could I still race with a broken finger? I figured that I didn’t need it to bike or run, and that I wouldn’t be able to leave for the hospital until the race was over anyway, so I may as well keep going. On the ride, I realized that while riding didn’t require the use of all 10 fingers, it was surprisingly difficult to eat, drink, or brake with a searing pain in my left hand. Cool. The run was a slog, since my hand still hurt from the morning and my glute hurt from a persistent injury I’ve been battling since January (thank you, Holli, for finally diagnosing a few weeks later!). I just focused on finishing–“blinders on, keep running, this will end.” And it did. The next day, my finger was purple and my glute hurt so much, I could barely sit down. I switched to the aquabike, so at least I could be done a little sooner and didn’t have to run. This is supposed to be fun, right? Honestly, it really wasn’t. I just felt tired and defeated. My swim on Saturday was one of my slowest for that distance in my eight years of racing, and Sunday–half the distance–was an even slower pace. I just wanted to be done and go to sleep.

My haul from Sunday’s aquabike. Purple/swollen finger not pictured.

All aspects of life have highs and lows, none of which last forever. But what is dragging on, however, is this blog post. Stay tuned for the next episode, in which I race another double header, learn the dangers of a very unstable gluteus, and ponder the proper analogy for the Eastern Shore.


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