Bri Gaal - 2007 Blog

Dec 31 - Well, Iím finally feeling slightly better. The weekend was pretty rough for me and being sick sure does make you appreciate oneís health! This very impromptu break has helped increase my motivation and Iím ready to really get back on a good schedule. Although I will continue to take it easy throughout the rest of the week because thereís no sense rushing back into things after being down and out for awhile. One of Martyís friends from the Jersey Shore is coming down to ring in the New Year with us, but I may be bailing early depending on how I feel. I hope everyone has a safe and happy new year!

Dec 29 - This cold or whatever I have is really kicking my butt. I've been feeling downright miserable for 4 days now - dizzy, weak, nauseous, VERY tired, sore throat - everything you get with the common cold that antibiotics won't cure. Last night I slept for about 11 hours, although it was certainly not straight through. There were a number of intermissions that included a stumble to the bathroom for more medicine complete with whimpering and moaning thrown in. Marty slept in the spare bedroom. I do feel slightly better today but still plan on taking it very easy all day. UCf plays at 3:30 this afternoon in the Liberty Bowl so that will be a good distraction. Since I've barely been able to move the past few days, I've obviously not been able to workout. We took Tassie for a walk last night and it just about knocked me right out. Yeesh.

Dec 26 - Merry belated Christmas! We just got back to Cary from my sister's house in Virginia - and I seem to have caught some sort of sickness somewhere along the way. I hope it goes away quick because being sick sucks. Anyways, the past few days were pretty fun. I went to see Enchanted with my mom and niece on the 24th, and I didn't get scared and walk out of this movie :) Then on Christmas we watched the two kids open up what seemed liked hundreds of presents (and of course we played with most of their toys after). Well, Marty was glued to the X-box most of the time, but he did take time out to give me an awesome gift that he spent A LOT of time on. He went and made my trippin06 blog from last year into a book! Complete with pictures that matched up to most of the entries. It's here on Cafe Press if anyone wants it, haha ;) I think we'll work towards adding all of his updates and make one big book in the near future. It was a very thoughtful gift and I really love it. My gift to him wasn't nearly as thoughtful - just a portable GPS unit for the car since we get lost everywhere we go. Our cigarrette lighter doesn't work in the car, though, so it's a bit useless at the moment. Back to work tomorrow for me :(

Dec 23 - Last night Marty and I went to see I Am Legend. I made it through 1 hour before I had to leave. I can't handle some movies anymore - I was too scared and wasn't enjoying myself and had to get out of there! There was one other movie several years ago that I also couldn't handle where I had to leave early and wait for Marty - a Bruce Willis flick called Tears of the Sun. I will stick to comedies and dramas - too much killing and I'm out. Maybe I'm wimpy, but I like to think of myself as very empathetic and sensitive :)

Dec 21 - It's important to have goals Ė and it's not always going to be easy to achieve them. I don't want to give anyone the wrong impression about my previous post. I love running, biking and swimming. That doesn't mean that every workout is a party. But I know if I want to achieve something, you take the good with the not so good. Of course I donít HAVE to do anything. I WANT to do it Ė but isnít this website more fun if you hear us complain a bit? :) Like they say, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It's not, but I know the rewards are more than worth it. And I donít mean prizes, I mean how it makes me feel physically and mentally. Anyways, I digress.

Work is going good Ė itís very busy and every question I have leads to 10 more additional questions. The centerís Iím in charge of have not had a financial analyst working closely with them for quite awhile which has led to little or no forecasts, bad forecasts and just plain overspending. The list I got today of projects I need to dive into and get control of is L-O-N-G. Saying its overwhelming is not even the tip of the iceberg. I think of the term Ďsink or swimíÖand right now I'm barely treading water. I'm glad I like the people I work with, at least!

Marty finally put up an ďAbout MartyĒ page. Everything you ever wanted (or didnít want) to know about the one and only, Mad Marty Gaal is now at your finger tips. Those that have been around for a long time will remember that Mad Marty Gaal Exists in Cyberspace! was the original title of the website.

Dec 18 - Wow, you people are motivated. Iím talking about those of you whoís blogs I read Ė itís something Iím thinking I need to cut down on because after I read other peopleís blogs, I feel like a complete wimp and that Iím not doing enough training to compete with everyone when it comes time for the season. And I hate that. I donít think its healthy to compare myself to otherís and then base my self-worth (consciously or sub-consciously) off of what others are doing. And of course, logically I know this, and Iím the one feeling this Ė you all cannot make me feel anyway Ė thatís all up to me and my head.

I think about these types of things often Ė see I love to compete. Iím a very competitive person. However, I am just not motivated to workout 15+ hours a week. 10 hours seems quite a lot when you have a job and seek a life outside of triathlon. So I often wonder why I even worry about it and thatís when I think, wow, I really need to stop reading other peopleís blogs. Then I think, no, I like reading them, I just need to handle my perspective better. I donít want to be a professional triathlete. I want to do well and I want to be happy with the result. But how can I be totally happy with my result when I know Iím not training to my full potential Ė but therein lies the rub. I donít want to train more :) I enjoy training, and I enjoy working hard, but I just canít be all into it all the time. So I read people doing 3 hour rides on the weekday, swim and run tests, and canít even fathom trying to do that now in December. Or January, or FebruaryÖbut Iíve signed up for races that I want do well at so I have this inner turmoil that I need to be more focused or those races will be here before I know it and I wonít be ready. I know Iím the only one putting pressure on myself and then I have to laugh and realize how silly Iím being! Itís ridiculous that I can get all worked up about something I voluntarily do as my hobby! And then I think about some of our travels and realize how lucky I am to be in the position Iím in. I have a great husband, we live in a really nice city, I have a good job, etc, etc. Yeah, I canít train in the middle of the afternoon if I want, but I also donít have to worry about living in a tin shack or not being able to go to school. So then I feel guilty that Iím being so petty! Itís enough for me to say sometimes, you know, I really need to step back and get a handle on my priorities. Maybe race age group instead of elite all the time. Maybe go on an awesome bike tour somewhere instead of planning a season of triathlons. Take a trip to visit friends instead of saying, no that weekend is really important for my buildup to X race.

So thatís what goes on in my mind during the off-season. I do think itís important to think about these things because you canít grow as a person if you donít. I have to realize what I want out of the sport and then be happy with my decision. I donít know if anyone else feels that way or maybe you all are more focused in on the goals ahead. Good for you if you are!

Dec 16 - This weekend we came to Chesapeake, Virginia which is where my oldest sister and her family live. My dad flew up for an early Christmas celebration since we won't see him for actual Christmas - and it was also Haileigh's birthday earlier this week so we celebrated that, too. We went bowling yesterday afternoon for her party and had fun since none of us are really that good. My form ends up in a lunge after I release the ball and today I woke up with one sore butt cheek :) Yesterday morning Marty and I ran for an hour (very slow!) on a paved trail called the Dismal Swamp. It was pretty dismal since it was gray and chilly, but a more appropriate name might be the Boring Dismal Swamp. It's really just an old highway that is closed to traffic now that runs next to a canal.

Dec 12 - My niece turned 9 yesterday and we bought her a swimsuit from Splish. I like a lot of their suits, but this is the first time I've ever bought something from them because they are just too expensive for me. As a gift to my niece its no problem, but I have a hard time spending that type of money on a swimsuit. I'd rather get clothes, plus Inside Out gives us a good discount so I can't justify not buying tri related stuff from them.

Dec 10 - I got home from work tonight and had this urge to go out for a bit. Of course, I didn't have to twist Marty's arm at all, so we decided to Fly the Saucer in downtown Raleigh. My sister met us out and we had a good time catching up with her. It was pretty crowded in there since it was $2.50 pint night. This morning I had a good workout at Marty's master practice and I was able to get in a short run after work. I'm very lucky that we have an on-site gym at my company so I always have the option of getting a quick lift in or running on the treadmill if the weather is crappy. That was not today, though, since the high was in the 70's. I had just enough daylight left to head out on the paved trails that weave all around RTP (Research Triangle Park). Are you all enjoying the survey's Marty is putting up on his site? He showed me next week's already - he never ceases to amaze me with his creativity. So one other thing I feel like telling you all out there in internet world is the amount of leaves piling up in our neighborhood. A couple of times a winter, this big truck comes by with this enormous hose and sucks all the leaves up! It's amazing! At least to those of us who did not grow up with changing colors and then big piles of leaves on the ground. So anyways, your neighborhood gets a little notice that says the big truck sucker will come by said week - so then everyone in the neighborhood piles up all their leaves on the curb. Our entire neighborhood is lined with pile after pile of leaves and I think it looks pretty funny. Some very naughty children could really do some damage and undo a lot of people's work if they really wanted to.

Dec 8 - It warmed up nicely today and Marty and I went for an easy bike ride this afternoon. Now we're heading to meet some friends at Brixx, where Marty is trying to get his (2nd) MBA.

Dec 3 - I can't believe I'm about to write this, but I'm really enjoying swimming at the moment! I'm terribly slow right now but the master's team is really keeping it fun. It's great to have other people in the lane with you, keeping you honest and pushing you to a good workout. It goes by so much faster and everyone is so positive. I don't think I'll ever like getting up at 5:30 am to jump into a cold pool, but once I'm up I look forward to getting there.

Dec 2 - Marty and I had a great time in Orlando for the weekend. We hung out with Marty's family on Friday and then got up bright and early for the OUC races. We had pretty good weather for the race even though it got warm during the day. I paced the 5K good: 6:17, 6:13, 6:14 (19:23) and finished 2nd overall. For the 4th time! I've done the OUC 5K a total of 5 times and have only won it once. It was fun though because with my inconsistent running at the moment I felt like I could be anywhere from 19:00 to 22:00 depending on how I felt when I woke up. Par for the course at these races, the beer garden was PACKED! We saw so many people we knew and it was great to catch up with everyone. That night a bunch of our friends met us out downtown - I really miss all of them and want them all to move to NC :) Tassie also had a great time this weekend, staying with Cider and Kristie. The two doodles had lots of fun and are both very exhausted now. Tassie was very well behaved, but gave Kristie a bit of a funny scare when she jumped into the shower with her (another one of her weird habits).

Nov 30 - We're down in O-town. It was a quick 1.5hr flight into a very crowded Orlando International Airport. Then we snaked our way through traffic before getting to see our very cute niece! Looking forward to seeing our friends at the OUC races tomorrow morning.

Nov 26 - Back to work today after 4 days off. The vacation was wonderful and Marty and I did not so much the entire time. We were totally on our own schedule of sleeping in, eating, taking Tassie for walks and watching movies. I loved it. On Saturday night we went to dinner at some friends who we've gotten to know a bit through the tri scene up here. We had a lot of fun up at their house and it was nice to hang out with them. Other big news is we had to buy a new dryer and my stupid car failed the state inspection because my window tint is too dark. Even though it passed last year. Grrr. We're going to try another place before we admit defeat and fork over more money. Exciting times.

Nov 23 - We've had Tassie now for just about a year. We picked her up at cargo just after Thanksgiving at the RDU airport. I know we totally seem like the people who are obsessed with their dog, and guess what, we are. What could possibly have tipped you off? Maybe the fact that she has her own blog?! Once we moved up here I really wanted to get a dog, and so did Marty but he was wanting to wait awhile until we got settled up here a little more. But I continually looked online trying to find an affordable doodle (they are out there, you don't really have to pay $1000+ for them!). A few tears later and Marty relented and bought me Tassie.

Like most dogs, she has her own funny traits. For instance, (and I think I've mentioned this before) she is very afraid of inanimate objects. She loves people and other dogs. She loves to lick toes. She'll sit and give you her paw, but she doesn't want you to shake it, she wants you to hold it (like you're holding hands) and play with her toes. She'll stare at you the whole time. She does not sit pretty at all - its always sloppy! She definitely came out looking more poodle, but her personality is more golden retriever. She wiggles incessantly when she gets excited (which is pretty much all the time) She is very loving and sweet, but she also loves to run around outside and chase squirrels and birds. She likes to go running with us but she has no concept of pace. She sleeps in her crate every night downstairs and never makes a peep. I love her so much and want to thank Marty for being such a great pushover and buying me a puppy one year ago.

Nov 22 - Its just Marty, Tassie and I for Thanksgiving this year. We started off the morning with Inside-Out's 8K Turkey Trot. I was just not feeling it this morning but still managed to hold under 7min pace. Marty got pretty far ahead of me and then waited for me around mile 3 so we could run into together. What a nice guy. We're planning on taking Tassie for a walk in Umstead before it starts to rain and get cold. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. I know I have so much to be thankful for!

Nov 19 - This weekend Tassie and I drove over to Maggie Valley to meet my dad, my uncle and Marty. Talk about beautiful fall leaves! Wow. The weather was pretty mild and we had good food and a nice hike yesterday morning. This morning I'm starting my new job at RTI. Wish me luck!

Nov 16 - I have been tagged by Jen Harrison! I am supposed to list 5 things about myself that 'most' people don't know (family and close friends probably excluded!). Then I'm supposed to tag 5 other people - so if I tag you, be a sport and play along :)

I am going to tag: Marty Gaal, Donna Skaggs, Kathy Frailing, Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach, and Kristy Peterson

Nov 12 - Yesterday afternoon Marty and I ran in the Old Reliable 5k/10k. I, of course, chose the 5k. 10k's are way too painful if you're not in good shape so no thank you to that. Seriously, we've been running easy and maybe 3 times a week so I was not expecting too much out of myself. I think last Thursday I suggested we do a few strides in the middle of our run so we could remember what turning over the legs felt like. Then we went and did a nice mountain bike ride on Saturday which was fun, but I figured anything in my legs at the point had now been used climbing hills in Umstead. So I started pretty far back and just wanted to cruise the first mile. There is nothing worse than going out too hard when you don't have the fitness to stay strong. I hit the first mile in 6:26 and was happy with how I felt so I decided to pick it up the 2nd mile. I got a little too excited and ran a 6:06. Uh-oh. Luckily, I didn't totally fall apart and stayed strong for a 6:20ish 3rd mile. My watch time said 19:28 for the 5K. Some dude was slowly catching me the last 1/2 mile and was then off my shoulder for a bit. He started his kick, so I started mine. Then he kicked it up a notch and my competitive spirit got the best of me (Oh no he di'int!). I mean, this was by no means a great time for me in the grand scheme of things (but a great time for me at this point in time!) and I had not run fast in well over a month so sprinting all out might not be the best idea, but this guy was not going to sit on me and outsprint me at the end. So we were in quite a battle and I was sprinting like it was the last 100 meters of a state championship or something. I did nip him at the line - so thanks for making me get out of my comfort zone sit-and-kick-dude :)

Marty ran great on limited training in the 10K, too! I guess our overall fitness is better than it used to be a few years ago.

Nov 10 - This afternoon Alisha and her husband Joe came to our house for a mountain bike ride. We headed out to the greenway that takes us into Umstead and did a big loop around the park before making our way back home. It was a beautiful day and Marty and I were bundled up like idiots (first cold weekend! We gotta get used to this stuff again). The leaves are all changing and it was so pretty in Umstead. I was definitely lagging behind the group on some of the hills which I'll blame on my bike and kid pedals, but it probably has more to do with my aerobic fitness at the moment :) I also re-sorted my closet today, exchanging my summer clothes for winter sweaters and ended up with 2 big bags of stuff that will be going to Goodwill this week. I also tried to answer the age old question of how can I possibly have a closet full of clothes (and 2 additional bags) and not have one thing to wear? Still couldn't come up with a good explanation for that one.

Nov 7 - Sorry for the lack of updates, just haven't been very inspired to write anything. Training is slow going, and when we don't want to (like yesterday) we don't. I've been running maybe 3 times a week, all easy so that should make the 5K I'm doing this weekend very slow and painful. And when we say we are going easy, we really mean we are going easy. We are not like a lot of people who will claim, oh I'm going easy or oh I haven't been training and really they have (secret trainers!). Nope, not the Gaal's - the off-season is something to behold and cherish! :) Tomorrow's Marty's birthday - happy birthday best friend! This is now the 8th year in a row that I have celebrated a birthday with my favorite guy.

Nov 4 - I just got back from visiting my family in Virginia. My mom was also up there and it was great to see everyone. This morning we went and watched my 8 year old niece's swim meet. She's only been swimming for a few weeks and I was super impressed with her ability! She won her heat in the 50 free, flip-turning and all in 45 seconds. Not bad at all! She's the opposite of how I was at that age before a swim meet - I would have myself worked up so much and be so nervous I would literally be crying the night before begging my parents not to make me do it (a little dramatic!). Thankfully, they never took me seriously and I always had fun with my friends at the meets. Well, Haileigh could not have a care in the world. I don't even know if she knew what was going on half the time - case in point, she was lined up for the girls 11-12 100 yard breastroke when her next event was the 8 & under 25 backstroke! Woops - Heather (my sister) went and got her before she actually made it onto the blocks. I remember really enjoying swimming when I was her age. It was when I got to be around 10 when all the kids started going to morning as well as afternoon practices, and all I wanted to do was run. So I stopped and will always have an uphill battle to fight trying to hang with the real swimmers. Sigh. In other news, I really missed Marty and was sending good vibes to everyone at IMFL. All OSB Multisport athletes had fantastic races! Congrats to them and everyone else.

Oct 31 - Happy Halloween! I forgot it was halloween until I walked into our cafeteria at work and saw Elvis milling around. I've been at GlaxoSmithKline for 2 months and have really liked it. My co-workers are nice, my boss is awesome, but unfortunately this is another contract position. Contracts can be terminated at anytime, and are not a guarantee for future employment. They also come without any benefits. I was hoping that down the road I would get hired as a full time employee but this recent article made me a little uneasy. Anyhow, I received a call from a company I had applied to back in August for an interview a couple of weeks ago. The interview went pretty good and I was called in for a second interview last Friday. I found out yesterday they want to hire me full time! That was certainly great news. So once again, I'll be starting a new job (on Nov 19th) which is always stressful but I'm hopeful I'll be with this company for many years to come.

Oct 29 - Our trippin06 picture page is back up - once again our server shutdown from last month screwed the page up, but Marty is pretty html savvy so he fixed it. This morning was the first masters practice at the Triangle Aquatic Center. The facility is gorgeous! There's a 50m pool (although they have it set up as two 25yd pools at the moment), another 25yd pool, and a teaching pool. The locker rooms are big and spacious and everything is just so new. The masters team is swimming in the competition pool, which means it is cold ('competition pool' is just another word for 'cold pool'). Cold for me anyways, I know all the real swimmers love it when the water temperature is below 80, but not the rest of us. I sit on the edge of the pool and debate getting in when its ABOVE 80 so this pool will be toughening me up, I guess. Or, more likely I'll probably just whine and complain and be the last one in (like I was today...). It keeps you honest, though, because you can't sit on the wall too long before getting a little chilly. Got to keep swimming. Anyways, after not swimming for several weeks, I got in much more yardage than I would've by myself and my arms were certainly tired by the end! I can't say I loved the early wake-up call, but hopefully Marty and I will get back into a routine of going to bed early and getting up early. I actually like that better, I just have to make sure I'm getting enough sleep each night - I can't survive on less than 7 hours and I prefer 8 or more :)

Oct 28 - Yesterday was an awesome Saturday. I baked 'healthy' chocolate chip cookies from a recipe I got out of the HerSports magazine. They are pretty good - certainly not as good as my real homebaked chocolate chip cookies but not too bad. They came out quite cakie - but I'll take satisfaction in knowing that there's flaxseed, whole wheat flour and a lot less butter in there. Last night we met our friends Alysia and her husband Jimmy at an Irish Pub here in Cary that we hadn't been to yet - I have no idea why we haven't been there yet because it was a great little pub! And this morning we'll be heading over to the TAC for there grand opening. And starting tomorrow morning at 6am Marty will be running the Masters practices. I like swimming in the morning and swimming with other people is so much better than by myself, but 6am at the pool 3 mornings a week may be a little much for me right now! I'll also be the substitute coach if Marty is ever away (like this Friday), so that should be fun, too :)

Oct 24 - Today while at work, I heard it - thunder! Which also meant rain, which our area desperately needs. They've started giving the countdown of how many days left of water we have if we don't get like a hurricane soon. Our town is not as bad as some others (I think I heard Durham has 60-some-odd days left?) but whenever the countdown starts, its got to be pretty bad. And of course you know the local news stations run with it and try to scare the bejesus out of you everytime. I'm sure today if I watch they'll say something like, "Yes, we did get rain this afternoon, BUT ITS NOT ENOUGH! WE'RE GOING TO DRY UP AND DIE!!!!" or something along those lines. Anyways, I like thunder, and I don't hear it that much up here. I don't like the really loud thunder that makes you scream when you don't mean to, or the very close lightening, but for whatever reason I do like the light rumbling. Probably because I grew up in Florida and every summer you can almost count on a wicked afternoon thunderstorm. Luckily, our dog is not scared of thunder. I know there are a lot of dogs who are, and seeing as she is scared of a lot of things (inanimate objects being the top of the list - luggage, balance ball, bike - she's getting better with that one at least). We think its because we live pretty close to the train tracks so she's always heard Angry Bob blowing the horn her whole life. I can talk about Angry Bob in another post - he deserves his own entry. We have Angry Bob, Nice Bob, and Passive-Aggressive Bob.

Oct 23 - Oh geez I've fallen off the wagon!! Marty and I went to lift this evening and then had plans for a very easy, short swim. The lift was good but there were only 2 lanes open for lap swimming and they already had a bunch of people in them so we bagged the swim and promised ourselves we'd get up in the morning. So instead of swimming we went to Total Wine for Marty (great beer selection there) and Cold Stone for me. Yep, that's right, I had "The Pie Who Loved Me" for dinner tonight. This is made with Cheesecake ice cream, Oreo Cookies, graham cracker pie crust and fudge. FOR DINNER!

Oct 21 - I didn't realize that my links page wasn't working. I guess it dropped off when our server shut down unexpectedly several weeks ago. Anyways, I tried to update it a bit and if I get a slow day at work maybe I'll think of some more interesting places. If you have a blog you'd like me to add, just let me know, I'm always looking for diversions :) The picture on that page was taken in Hobart, Tasmania. Neat city! We went on to do a 10-day bike tour around much of the island with Gordo and Monica and had a real nice time. I'd love to get back down there again someday.

Oct 21 - Yesterday morning I slept in and then we went for an easy bike ride in beautiful weather. I love not having a schedule for a little while and just working out when I feel like it. Later on we went to the NCTS awards banquet which was held at a restaurant in downtown Raleigh. It was fun to catch up with some of our fellow competitors, but we were surprised at how quick everyone bolted after they gave out the awards. I thought people may hang out a bit but alas, just another reminder of how our group of friends/training partners in Orlando were one of a kind. It was fine, though, as we went to our newly engaged friend's place Aaron & Casey for another dinner and catching up. Casey's in dental school and her schedule is pretty crazy, so it was nice to finally meet up with the two of them.

Oct 18 - Marty and I bought tickets to go down and watch IM Florida quite awhile ago. We went last year and cheered everyone on, and again this year, we know a lot of people racing. Unfortunately, we planned this trip before I got my new job and it turns out I absolutely can't be away from my computer on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd of every month (during the work day). There is just too much to do during that time period and the programs that I need are only open during work hours. We tried to change my ticket but it was more money and trouble than it was worth, so we paid a little extra and I have a flight I can use until next year on Delta. I'm pretty bummed I can't go down there this year. On the brightside, I'm going to take Tassie and we'll head up to Virginia to visit my sister and nieces that weekend. So that will be fun and it will keep me from being bored and sad at home.

Oct 16 - Yesterday after work we dug out our mountain bikes from the bike, I mean, hot water heater closet. Marty's had actually been used this year, but mine hadn't been ridden in over a year. And it wasn't by me, but by my sister's ex-boyfriend who gave it back to me covered in mud. I said 'wow, thanks for cleaning my bike after using it' to which I think the reply was, 'Its a mountain bike. It's supposed to be dirty.' I digress, because I promptly forgot about it. Upon seeing the state it was in yesterday, I wished I hadn't. Anyways, this mountain bike was a present from my parents on my 15th birthday, so it's 13 years old. It also weighs about what a 13 year old probably weighs, too. Marty and I were heading off to check out some of the greenways we hadn't had a chance to explore yet. Its so nice to have so many near our house. We ended up riding much longer than planned but it was a lot of fun. The evenings are cool and refreshing and it was so nice to be out there.

Oct 15 - Is this a sad picture or what? Tassie is actually doing very good - little does she know that she isn't supposed to be running around the backyard as she goes sprinting out the backdoor. Woops. I wish I could recover even half as fast as she does, and she had major surgery! Unfortunately, tomorrow I'll be putting that lampshade thing on her head since Marty will be leaving for Florida and I'll be at work all day. She managed to take one of her stitches out this morning while we were gone and I don't want to risk having her get anymore out.

This weekend is the NCTS championship race and awards dinner. We'll be skipping the race but will be at the awards ceremony, ready to celebrate. And if anyone reading this is also going, you can bet that the Gaal's will be heading to the Flying Saucer after the dinner, so come and join us!

Oct 13 - John and Bronwyn just left and I was sad to see them go. It was so great to be able to hang out with them all week after not seeing them for over a year and we had a lot of fun. We stayed in this great house outside of Asheville and got to hike and check out some of the sites before heading into town and sampling different food and brews. John and Marty went to the FSU v Wakeforest game on our way back into town while Bron and I hit the mall and then got dessert. It was nice to have some girl time with her. I really wish they didn't live so far away!

So if you've read Tassie's recent update you may have been clued in to what happened to her at Camp Canine. Saying Marty and I were angry is putting it lightly. Apparently, another dog bit her while she was there. No one saw what happened and they didn't realize it until the next morning. They then called us and said it was just a small bite, we may want to take her to the vet but they would probably just give her some antibiotics. We thought that wasn't any big deal and she was actually already on antibiotics because of a small cut she had over her eye. We were absolutely shocked when we came home and saw her. The bite was VERY bad. Bad enough that when I took her to the vet the very next morning they immediately put her into surgery and had to cut out all the infected skin. He wasn't sure why they hadn't treated it immediately and said it was not just a small bite. It was 3 inches in diameter and extended deep into her muscle tissue. Camp Canine has told us they accept no responsibility (even though the manager admitted they were understaffed and this type of thing had happened before). We totally understand that dog bites will happen but I cannot understand why they didn't take her to get treatment. So beware if you take your dog there. Its fun for them to play and most dogs love it, but apparently they do not care enough to do anything about an injury besides take your money and tell you it's not their fault.

Oct 7 - Turns out I got 3rd overall yesterday at Pinehurst. Some girl dominated and went a sick 2:07 on that course. And now an All Points Bulletin: People! If you are fast, race elite! Its much more fun to go head to head with everyone! Who cares about the silly USAT ranking? Race up front! That is all. Not that she would've been any competition, she was so far ahead. In more important news, despite being many, many minutes apart, Marty and I managed to have the exact same run split! I guess that's what happens when you train together all the time - I rather we'd done the whole run together instead - now that would've been much more fun. Then we could've crossed the line holding hands and kissing ;)

Oct 6 - Last tri of the season is in the books, and I'm pretty happy with how it went overall. Holy cow, that course is tough! I think I had one of my best swims all year as I came out with people I've never come out with before. For one of the first times ever I was in a pack and had to do several pace changes which was fun. Usually I'm by myself and just holding the same steady pace. My main competition was going to be from Anne Basso, who I know is getting in great shape for the 70.3 World Championships and was just coming off her 1st place overall (by a lot) at the Duke Half. I was definitely relieved to get some time on her on the swim since I know she'd probably come flying by me on the bike this time. The bike was hard for me - I think I've lost quite a lot of power over the past few weeks and it was hilly and windy out there. Anne caught up to me around mile 20 and I kept her insight until the end. I've always said that one of the best places to watch a triathlon is at the mount and dismount line. Well, I was the reason why today! As I did my flying dismount, my first foot to hit the ground didn't land quite straight and I almost did a somesault (with bike in hands) in front of the cheering fans who all immediately went silent. Never a good sign! I quickly righted myself, my bike and grabbed the bike shoe that had flown off. So embarrassing! Anyways, I caught back up to Anne within a half mile and once I had a good lead I put it in cruise control the rest of the race. The run has way too many steep hills to worry about redlining, or so I thought. Turns out an age-grouper from one of the later waves beat me by 15 seconds - arghh!! Sarah is way nice and was so cute when she found out - obviously she was very excited for her overall win and she apologized to me for not racing elite (she understands). I really wish she would have - I ran almost that entire run by mself; it would've been quite a race if she had been up there with me. I actually met Sarah (formerly Hunn) earlier this year at the Cary 10K and hats off to her for a fantastic race today. Anyways, now Marty and I are done and I'm so looking forward to not getting up before 6am for swim workouts the next few weeks :)

Oct 3 - Wow, my first month-end close is over. I worked a lot of hours and was completely stressed for most of it! I knew that if I could get through this first one I would be fine because next month I'll know what to expect and how to prepare better. Anyways, I have a lot to look forward to now - first, the Pinehurst olympic distance triathlon on Saturday. I guess I'm looking forward to it as I do love racing, but I'm really looking forward to being done for the season! Its been a long one for Marty and I and we're both pretty happy with how the year went. I'm hoping to feel strong but I have to be honest - my training over the past couple of weeks has been pretty subpar. My number one training partner has been very unmotivated and although I try to put on a good front, I'm totally ready for a break.

But that's not all I have to look forward to. Saturday evening we'll be heading to the Durham beerfest. That should be a lot of fun and we can pretend we're back at Oktoberfest I suppose :) But the MOST important thing I have to look forward to is our friends from Australia coming into town on Monday. John and Bronwyn, our most gracious and super-fun hosts, event planners, and all around wealth of Australian knowledge will be staying with us for most of next week. John is running the Chicago marathon on Sunday then they fly in Monday night. We're heading to Asheville with them on Tuesday before coming back on Thursday. On our way back into town, John and Marty will be cheering the 'Noles on at Wake Forest while Bron and I pick up some young college boys in some Wake Forest bars :) (John is also a former FSU swimmer, and has now qualified for the Australian Olympic Trials for like the 4th time). I can't wait to see them! They are so great and we haven't obviously seen them since we left Australia over a year ago. Way too long!

Oct 2 - I'm going through my first close at my new job and I'm mucho busy. Had to put in a 10.5hr day yesterday...the best thing about being a contractor is getting overtime.

Sep 30 - Here are the women's results from yesterday's Wilmington Triathlon.

Sep 29 - Most people at the Wilmington triathlon this morning were very impressed at our 2:20am wake-up and 2:45am rollout. And when I say impressed, I mean they thought we had a screw loose. My vote was to drive down on Friday but my penny-pinching husband thought it better to drive down in the morning. He promised to drive the entire time (which he did) and I didn't want to spend money on a hotel room with dog either, so I didn't put up much of an argument to tell the truth.

So the race, brrr! 50's and windy in the morning. The swim was confusing as it was kind of S shaped with buoys that were just 'guides.' Take your own line and hope for the best. Oh yeah, no wetsuits either (boo). LONG run to transition. Was by myself on the bike and hope I pushed hard, I tried, but its hard to tell sometimes when you're riding alone. I spent a lot of time in T2 racking and re-racking my bike a few times as I couldn't get both brakes on and have become completely paranoid about penalties up here. Can you even get a penalty for only having one brake on the rack? Finally took off only to stop and adjust the new racing flats. Then I'm out of transition and clip a post marking the chute and do one of those I'm-falling-but-still-running for about 10 yards. You know what I'm talking about. Never did hit the ground but I'm sure I got several people laughing at me. I was pretty far behind in 3rd place at this point so pushed way hard on the run. I didn't catch Chris T. until mile 2, and actually saw Stacey ahead (for once) towards the end. So I took 2nd, 1 minute behind Stacey which I'm happy with at this silly distanced race (written like a true runner :)

Sep 27 - We've toyed with the idea of getting a hotel room tomorrow night in Wilmington, but decided we're just going to suck it up and drive down in the morning. It will be a very early wake up call since the race starts at 7 and you have to be transported to the swim, but Marty will drive and Tassie and I will sleep :) We're all set with a dog sitter while we're racing (teammate Chis said her mom would be glad to watch our little princess). So I'm probably hoping for a wetsuit swim in vain, but I can still wish, right?

Sep 25 - I've had a sore muscle in my back now for almost a year. It began shortly after we moved up to North Carolina, so I attributed it to unpacking. But it didn't go away after several weeks and massages. It isn't debilitating - it doesn't keep me from working out; it just hurts. I feel it when I wake up in the morning, but not all the time so I can't say its how I'm sleeping. In fact, I try to be as ergonomic in bed as possible. I don't typically feel it when I run or bike, but I also can't say it doesn't make it worse. I mean, the tri-bike position isn't exactly very forgiving, even though I'm not nearly as aero as 90% of my competitors.

So I've just been dealing with it. I stretch it like crazy, and when it gets particularly painful, Marty will give me some massage. Funny enough, it releases when he digs into my lower back. Obviously I have some imbalances and muscles pulling in incorrect directions. My shoulders and neck are also very tight, but that's probably just me and how I hold stress. I can't help it, I've always been a worrier. I remember my grandma buying me a 'worry rock' one time on vacation. I was supposed to hold it in my hand when I worried and let the rock take my worries away. I was 8 at the time! Who knows what I was talking about that prompted her to buy me that.

Anyways, some of you may have seen my shoe rant from a couple of weeks ago. Well, I didn't go out and buy cute new shoes that would make Stacey and Clinton impressed. No, my mom was up here last week and she bought me some new Danskos - yay! When I tried them on I fell in love because they have a nice high arch which my foot craves (and it also helps with my dodgy plantar fascia). After a just a few days of wearing them, my back is also feeling better! Who knew? Of course, I can still feel where the muscle is tense if I turn a certain way, or after long periods of sitting on my butt at work, but I haven't felt it this NOT sore in so long! If I wasn't married to Marty, I would marry these shoes. Just kidding, that's just plain weird ;)

Sep 23 - We're in the car right now driving back from Athens, Georgia where we went to a wedding at the University of Georgia's botanical gardens. Marty and I got an hour run in the gardens after the wedding, which was nice, even though my legs felt tired and heavy. Then we met up with everyone and hit the downtown area which was full of bars with great college beer specials. We had good intentions of getting up this morning and tooling around on our bikes, but we stayed out a bit too late and had to bag it so we can pick up Tassie at Camp Canine in time. We're going to make an effort to ride once we get home...we'll see how that goes.

Sep 18 - I haven't been posting as often which is in direct correlation to the amount of time I have right now, not that I don't have amazing and interesting things to talk about ;) We had a fun and busy weekend with family and friends in town. It was great to have Jamie and Saidel stay at our house all weekend; Jamie and I spent many, many hours at Lockheed discussing everything under the sun procrastinating from our real work, and it was great to catch up again. We both had a lot of fun watching the Duke 1/2 while both of our husbands raced. Although I was risking some major points in the NCTS, I never once thought, "wow, I wish I was racing today" and congrats to everyone out there who was tougher than me. Today was absolutely beautiful and I headed right to Umstead from work to get a run in. It just doesn't get much better than running on trails in 70 degree weather.

Sep 13 - Bummer, I just read on the information sheet for the Duke 1/2 that dogs aren't allowed in the park. Guess Tassie is staying home alone :( I was looking forward to her having fun out there.

Sep 12 - I'm plugging away at my training. I've definitely been feeling worn out and a bit tired lately, but I think a lot of that has to do with changing jobs and starting all over again - the stress doesn't just affect you mentally! Luckily, the weather has finally broken up here! Marty and I ran in Umstead this evening and although he said I looked strong I felt like I was fighting with every hill. It did feel good to be running in lower humidity and temps. Yesterday we met up with Inside-Out ride after riding quite a bit beforehand. We only rode the first half with them before turning around coming home, then Tassie did my transition run with me. We have a special leash we use when we take her running that goes around our waist and keeps our hands free. I felt like I could've been in the Iditarod with how much she was pulling me and I'm sure a looked a little more than ridiculous trying to slow her down. She has no concept of pacing yet.

Sep 8 - This morning I went with Marty out to Jordan Lake so we could ride the Duke Half bike course, and then run a bit after. Our run was short and we did the beginning of the course up the hill. The hills in my memory are so much worse than it really is - I couldn't believe it! I guess because we run in Umstead so much now and before we were true flatlanders. Anyways, the humidity was low this morning and we both had to chuckle as I announced that I was cold at the start of the ride. Too bad its back to 90 now.

Sep 5 - I started my new job yesterday and things are going well. Its always overwhelming at the beginning because there is so much to learn and there are SO many new systems and processes that I need to know (last week) :) The girl training me could literally be in labor any second so I'm trying to retain as much information as I possibly can while she's there. This job seems very interesting and busy, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that everything works out.

Sep 3 - Labor Day Beach weekend by the numbers:

Obviously, we had a great time this weekend. But we'll both be glad to get back into a routine of training and good eating again!

Sep 2 - We've been having a lot of fun here on the east coast of Florida. I did some surfing yesterday - got up and everything! They said I did good but I was not so sure about the inevitable crash close to the shore, or how to navigate when there were other people out there (hint: everyone get outta my way!!!). It was fun though - the water is great and the beach was nice. We'll hang out tonight and a bit in the morning until we start our drive back to NC. One of our friends took a bunch of pictures while we were in the water yesterday so I'll be sure to post some up once we get them.

Aug 30 - I'm going into work tomorrow for a few hours, my last day with this company. They're bringing in Bojangles for breakfast for me since I've never had it; I think its health food. Then Marty and I will be hitting the road along with many other vacationers. Hopefully, we don't run into too much traffic into Florida, but you never know with I-95. This weekend is sure to be a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to a stress-free couple of days before I start my new job on Tuesday. Good luck to our teammates in Hamburg who will be racing in the world championships - go fast!

Aug 27 - Here's my race report for the Lake Norman Sprint Triathlon.

Aug 26 - Marty and I had a nice 2+ hour recovery ride with Alicia P. this morning. Marty is so funny the day after a race, Alicia and I literally dropped him on the tiniest hill. We slowed up and he tried to explain how he is old and doesn't recover fast like he used to. Is this the same guy who averaged almost 25mph on a hilly course yesterday?! He also spanked me on the run at the race - I actually estimated he probably got me by about 30-40 seconds, and that's what it turned out to be. I am glad that he seems to have his hip problem from past years in check. I think its not only because we get to run on a lot more soft surfaces, but also because he hasn't done any long course training in 2 years now.

I finally read "Once a Runner" by John Parker. A friend of ours lent it to us and I really enjoyed it. There were a lot of things in that book that brought me right back to my years running in college. The book is out of print now, so if you do want to read it, find someone who already owns. I don't think you want to spend $200+ dollars on this piece of fiction.

Aug 25 - I had a good race this morning at the Lake Norman Triathlon. I didn't have to expend too much energy at all on the swim and came out with Anne Basso. Onto the bike where I felt really good and moved myself into 1st place at the 10 mile mark where I finally caught Chris T. Unfortunately, I had a less than stellar run, but I can't complain about a win that I really wanted. Tassie was the star of the morning getting numerous compliments about how well behaved she was. She was definitely a little freaked out in the hotel room, but for her first road trip with us, I think she did great. Marty had a really good race this morning, too, so we're trying to figure out how to celebrate tonight.

Aug 23 - I got some good news today - I have another job lined up! I had a phone interview this morning with GlaxoSmithKline and will be starting a contract position the day after Labor Day. I'm looking forward to starting something new.

Aug 22 - Okay, all you real swimmers out there, stop reading right now. Seriously. I'm proud of the swim workout I did this morning and if you read it, you'll just shake your head and laugh at my slow times. But its all perspective, right? They're good for me! But I don't want to be embarrassed, go ahead and look at something else on the internet :)

So the swim this morning was not too long, just 2500 yards, but the main set was 8x100, zone 4, so fast. The good thing was that I was going to get :20-:30 rest. The first 4 swim, the second 4 pull (w/ paddles). I started my first one expecting to see around 1:20 or slightly faster, so I was very surprised to see 1:12! Well, now I guess I have to hold that. And I did - I came in at 1:11 or 1:12 for the first 4, and then when I put on my paddles I came in at 1:08 or 1:09. That is flying for me and I was super happy, if you couldn't tell! I kept the rest between :20-:30 depending on what was going on in the lane (circle swimming with some other swimmers) - wanted to try and time it so I had clear water which sometimes meant :20 and other times meant closer to :30. Now how do I translate that into the open water?

Aug 19 - I'm picking Marty up from the airport in a couple of hours. While he was running around Central Florida with his head cut off trying to meet up with everyone, I had a relaxing weekend here getting in some nice training and hanging out with Tassie. I definitely was wishing I was down there with him, though, when he called me every night from some bar with a bunch of our friends. So I had a couple of beers in honor of myself :) I'm really looking forward to Labor Day, when we'll be meeting up with some of our friends in New Smyrna Beach. Its a great group of people who are very relaxed and a lot of fun. I absolutely can't wait. Marty and I have never been able to make the Memorial Day weekend in Siesta Key, so it will be nice to finally get together for some beach days. New Smyrna has the notorious distinction of being the shark attack capital of the world - "there have been more shark attacks per square mile than any beach on earth." This is due to the way the inlet is formed there, making it a great feeding ground, while also having a very nice break for the surfers. So high surf area + good feeding ground = lots of shark bites. Note I said bites because although they say 'attack' no one has ever died there. Does that help any mom? Ha! One time in college I was over there with a friend learning to surf and I did see a shark in the water probably 10-15 feet away from us. To this day, I'm amazed at how calm I was - I merely pointed and said, 'Hey, I think that's a shark.' We got out of the water and it wasn't until much later that I freaked out.

Aug 16 - I've a had a solid week of training, and tonight on the group ride I went on, my legs were begging for mercy. Here's how my week went: Monday - 3.1k swim, 3mile run right after (ran home from the pool), Tue - lifted in the morning, Inside-Out ride in evening (stayed on the group with no problem tonight, yay!), Wed - 3k swim in the morning, fartlek run in evening on Umstead bridle trails, Thursday - evening group ride, Friday - planning on another 3K or so swim, although depending on the water temp, Alisha and I may be kicking with our caps off more than swimming, also, maybe an easy run in the evening. Saturday - long run, maybe a bike ride or easy swim, and finally Sunday - long ride (for me anyways!). So that's my training week. I figured I'd put one up there since I don't really ever do that.

Aug 15 - I've been participating in an office pool for the North Carolina lottery that has gotten quite high (estimated 181 million). This is my last time playing in the pool because it could get quite expensive if I kept going, however, Marty said I could do it one more time. Today, a lady walked by my cube and said, "I authorize you to buy new shoes if we win the lottery."

What? Have I turned into the 'bad-shoe girl' at the office? Do people reference me with, 'you know, the girl with those out-of-date-so-not-cute-shoes?' Oh yeah! THAT girl!

I wasn't sure what to say on the spot when I heard her, so I kind of mumbled something about keeping to a budget, and then changed the subject to the price of milk.

Then I proceeded to analyze how terrible my shoes actually are. See, its not that I don't have cute shoes. I have some very cute shoes. But they are reserved for short periods of time where I don't have to walk around much. Not for 8 hour days at the office. So 99% of the time, I wear my Danskos. Now these aren't exactly cheap shoes, lady! Okay, so yeah, maybe the ones I'm wearing today are hand-me-downs from my mom (a special shout-out to my mom for having the same size foot as me while always being very generous with her shoes). And yes, it is true that the other Danskos I wear were also bought by my parents, when I was in undergrad, you know, probably 6 years agoÖ

But lady, you don't know my feet! You don't WANT to know my feet. They are gross, and skinny, and I have ugly, ugly toes (special family distinction). I have to be careful because that pesky plantar fascitis likes to flare up if I don't have proper support. AND I have a toenail fungus at the moment (TMI! TMI!). And a few years ago, I had a plantars wart for TWO YEARS. Its gone now, thanks to Gemma and her double medicine + duct tape remedy, but this just proves that if there is an ugly foot problem, I will get it (if I haven't already). In-grown toenails? My family has not seen an in-grown toenail we haven't suffered through. My late-grandma and my dad are missing toenails because it was easier for them to tell the doctor to just take the darn things off then suffer anymore torture. That's two generations in my family that said, thehellwithit, I don't care if my toes will look disgusting, the pain of the alternative is way worse. Get rid of them.

Don't you know, lady, that yes I did contemplate wearing cuter shoes today, as I do everyday. But then I thought about that run workout I have later, and how I want to feel good and not have to worry about how my feet are hurting because I wore cute shoes. And then I thought further into the future, about that sprint race I want to rock at and how I want to wear my flats again with virtually no support and feel good while doing it. I've been meticulous about taking care of my stupid plantar fascia, and gosh darnit, I'm going to continue wearing my out-of-date, supportive shoes as long as I want! Long live the comfortable ugly shoe!

Aug 12 - We got a break from the triple digit heat and had a very nice weekend up here. Marty and I did a long easy bike ride complete with a stop towards the end at The Carolina Cafe where I had a very delicious cupcake. What? A cupcake isn't good ride food?! Seemed fine to me :) Yesterday while Marty was getting lost with Mike and Gary on their way to Bandits, I went out to Umstead and had a great long run. I woke up at 6 and at 6:10 my phone rang. It was Marty, whose race was starting at 7am sharp. "Hey Bri. Could you do me a favor? Is your computer on? Could you pull up google maps? We're a bit lost..." No surprise there, and luckily I helped them out and they made it over with not a minute to spare. Later on in the afternoon Tassie had her first swimming experience and she definitely won the Most Improved award. Everyone had a lot of fun and I can't wait to take her swimming again.

Aug 10 - Marty will be getting up at 3am tomorrow to drive over to Bandits, a very difficult olympic distance. I was not so keen on doing a tough olympic distance, especially with that long of a drive. Instead, I'll get up early (to try and beat the heatwave we have here right now) and get a good long run in. Then in the afternoon I'll be taking Tassie to a dog pond with some friends and my sister. Hopefully, Shana's dog (Carter) will teach Tassie and her friend Cider how to swim. Last night Marty and I took Tassie to the Pet Supermarket to look into getting her a doggie life jacket (are we over-protective parents or what?!). They had some, but we weren't sure of her size so we tried it on her. But since we are also stupid parents (apparently), I accidently shoved her head through one of the arm holes! I didn't even realize it - we both just stood there and said, hmm, that looks a little tight. So then I couldn't get her head out of it because it was so small, and I had to stuff her ears through and then pull hard. She is the most tolerant dog ever. She just calmly waited while I wrestled with the jacket around her head. Then when I looked at the picture it dawned on me what happened. So then I put it on her the right way, but it didn't fit anyways! I'm really looking forward to taking her. After that, alls we need to do is get her to ride a bike and she can do her own doggie triathlon.

Aug 7 - My training has been pretty consistent the past couple of weeks. I've been having trouble waking up very early this week, but maybe I just need to catch up a bit on my sleep. My next race is the Lake Norman YMCA sprint at the end of the month. It'll be important for me to do very good there so I can stay competitive in the NCTS. Big competition will be coming from fellow friend and teammate Anne Basso, who will be coming on strong at the end of the season in these races as her next big event is the Clearwater 70.3 Championships. As well as from Chris Tommerdahl, who we're all always chasing after the swim. After that, I'll do the Wilmington triathlon, which is totally the opposite type of race that is good for someone like me (1500meter swim/20K bike/5k run), and I'll finish up with the final race in the series, an Olympic distance in Pinehurst. One race I'm NOT doing is the Duke half. I have only bad, miserable memories from that race - during the race and then after the race as both years I did it, it pretty much ended my season. Not sure if I'll end up doing the Invitational race in October. I'll have to see how I'm feeling by that time. So that's how the rest of my season looks right now. By the time I get done with Pinehurst, I will have done 12 triathlons from March to September. 7 sprints, 4 Olympics, and 1 half-ironman.

Aug 5 - You know, I don't really have anything interesting to talk about. Nice weekend here and all that.

Jul 31 - Tassie gave Marty quite a scare yesterday when she jumped out the window of my XTerra. Luckily, he was in our cul-de-sac going slow, and I think he was more traumatized then she was (she wasn't very traumatized at all - she jumped right back in the car like nothing happened when he opened the door). Last night Marty and I went to see the latest Harry Potter movie - it was pretty good!

Jul 29 - It was a wonderful weekend at home. I got some good riding in with several teammates yesterday and today. Today we rode up to Chapel Hill which I had never done before. Marty and I went out to a neat little bar and grill by our house called Abbey Road and then rented a couple of movies on Friday, and we hit Marty's favorite bar in town on Saturday (The Flying Saucer, for those of you who are new). We were, of course, home by 9 or so, as we are pretty lame and like to go out early and come home early.

Jul 26 - I was very sad to hear that my alma mater (University of Central Florida) has decided to cut their men's cross country program. Add it to the list of schools that choose to cut non-money making men's programs to comply with the misused Title IX. Lets say that a school wants more football scholarships, because, we all know football is king and makes schools money (allegedly). Title IX says you must have an equal number of girls scholarships available as you have boys scholarships. There isn't a sport that takes up as many scholarships as football does for guys, so many male sports get the ax. A school can add more scholarships to a women's team, or add another sport, but its so much cheaper to cut men's cross country or swimming. I'm not saying this is actually what happened at UCF, but it is a typical scenario at many schools across the country. And I do know that UCF just built a fancy football stadium on campus, so I'm just saying...When I ran at UCF they had already cut the men's track program, and men's cross country didn't exactly have a ton of scholarship money, so I find it hard to understand how much of the bottom line it actually affected. Its just a shame. This won't bring the sport back, but if you want to share any discontent with allowing the elimination of the fringe sports, you can add your name to this petition.

Jul 24 - We had a bit of a cool front come through and since the weekend we've enjoyed some gorgeous days. The humidity has been low and the temps have been nice. Marty and I definitely appreciate summer days like this after having lived in Florida our entire lives; we clearly remember those neverending death-hot summers. We did the Inside-Out ride tonight and I sat on Marty's wheel the entire time. He looks out for me on the Tuesday ride and makes sure I don't get dropped. Thursday's are their super-hard ride which he likes to do (and the unspoken agreement is that he's not going to worry about me if I choose to go on it). Good thing I have my own Thursday night ride that I like doing instead. I've missed a lot of these group rides recently because of one thing or another, but I'm going to try and make as many as possible in the coming weeks to try and get my bike strength back up.

Jul 22 - Marty got me on the run the past 2 races, but I edged him out yesterday - yay! I don't think these occurrences are going to happen too frequently anymore, he's getting good.

Jul 21 - Phew, 3 races in 3 weeks! This bird is cooked and ready to start putting in some actual training again. We drove down, once again at the butt crack of dawn, to do a funny format triathlon. Marty had a good chance of racking up some good points for the NCTSeries and mission was accomplished. I had a lot of fun out there - its great to do a smallish race with odd distances, mixes it up quite a bit. My bike was definitely weak and I'm looking forward to putting in some bike miles over the next few weeks, something that I haven't done in what seems like a long time. I wish I had something funny or insightful to say, but its just not there today...

Jul 17 - Here's my Chattanooga Waterfront race report. Also, I put up some pictures from the barbeque and this past weekend on our picture page. Finally! I know I've been slacking in the picture department.

Jul 16 - I thought this was an interesting article about the inspiration for the song 'Hey There Delilah' that's being overplayed right now.

Jul 15 - The race went well this morning. The weather, although humid, turned out to be pretty nice, even for us late starting folks. I don't know about this river current talk we kept hearing because there wasn't any current today, and it actually was quite choppy for the last 600meters. Times were definitely slow - the bike was challenging and the run had a few annoying hills. Anyways, I finished 2nd overall so in the money! First was an agonizing 9 seconds ahead, but she went like 45 minutes ahead of me and I had no idea. I felt like I went as hard as I could but you can never stop wondering, ah what if...Really, I can't complain. Marty also had a good one, and beat me bad on the run. We both also won our age groups which qualifies us for Worlds in Vancouver next year, but I doubt we'll take them.

Jul 14 - We're in Chattanooga right now - beautiful city! We also had a great time in Asheville last night. We met up with Aaron's old roomate who was on the Elite Team last year, and he was out with a few friends at a local brewery...perfect! Fun people and nice town. Marty thought he had found heaven this morning on our jog when he saw another brewery right next door to a bike shop. So tomorrow should be interesting. The bike course is on a highway that is quite hilly, and by the time I get to the run it should be sizzling. They seeded you based on a swim time you submitted, and then within your age group. Unfortunately, my age group is the last to go off, so out of 1200 participants, I'm number 1107. That means I'm the 1107th racer to start! At the approximate 3 second intervals, this puts me starting about 1hr behind the first people. This wouldn't be a big deal, but I was hoping if I was feeling good I could sneak into the top 5 overall. We'll see how it goes. No matter what, I'm going to have a good time and race as hard as I can.

Jul 12 - Tassie is definitely part Retriever. So far, this is what she's dug up in our backyard, leftover from previous owners and buried under years of pine needles: conch shell, 2 toy balls, 2 frisbies, spiggot attachment for a hose, full sprinkler attachment for a hose...I keep telling her that buried treasure would be more useful.

Jul 11 - Here's my brief Triangle Triathlon race report. I've been resizing pictures and we'll finally have some new ones up on our picture page from our barbeque (cookout, whatever) in the next few days.

Jul 10 - The splits went up yesterday and across the board my times were 'eh'. My transitions were good, though :) I put my bike shoes on in transition because I'm just still not convinced that I'm faster leaving them attached to my bike. The girls who did leave them attached had faster transitions by just seconds (which were most definitely negated as they put their feet in and got back up to speed) so I'm still not convinced its faster for a lot of us! Here is the big news, drumroll please....Marty finally outsplit me on the run! He got me by 6 seconds this time; its very funny that we've been running so close to each other in all of these races. He did have me as a carrot though, as I was starting the first loop and he was starting his second loop about 8 seconds behind me. He said he did close a tiny bit, and although it would've been cute to run together for that loop, you'd better believe slowing down to be next to him did not cross my mind!

Jul 9 - The Triangle Triathlon yesterday was hot, fun and tiring. I felt pretty good, not great, but you can't feel at your best all the time. I wish I could've given Stacey a bit more competition but I went as hard as I could on the day, and it turned out to be way slower than her race. I think our barbeque was a big success and just about everyone from the team made it over with most of their kids in tow, as well as several other friends we've made up here. It looked like everyone was having a great time: adults, kids and dogs - the only casualty of the day was our hammock which at one time held something like 25 kids. It was a lot of fun to have everyone over and host the event.

Its been on my mind ever since I heard the news, and it sure puts our little complaints into perspective. A friend of ours from Orlando recently lost his sister in a car crash. She was my age. One year earlier, her husband died of cancer. I don't know why some people get dealt with these cards, but it sure does make me thankful for the time I get with my friends and family, and having the ability to compete and race. Don't forget to enjoy your life along the way - don't complain that this didn't go exactly right, or if only this had happened instead. Live the moment!

Jul 6 - The 4th of July ended up being a very nice day, after our swim we had some lunch with our friend Alisha, and then we hit a couple of barbeques before calling it a successful midweek vacation day. Work was super hectic on Thursday and Friday and I'm glad its finally the weekend. My sister Heather and my nieces Haileigh and Ashleigh drove down yesterday and my dad flew in this afternoon. It'll be a fun weekend with the race on Sunday (my money is on Stacey and Kristin to be duking it out, I'm hoping to be in their same time zone). The mens field is stacked to high heaven reminding Marty and I of the old days at the Coca-Cola series in Florida where getting top 10 was an accomplishment.

Last night Ashleigh was in hyper 2.5yr old form which included lots running, jumping and shrieking throughout the house. She is very cute. Tassie was so good with her, too! I'm so proud of our puppy; she didn't get too rambunctious around Ash and even when Ashleigh was standing halfway up the stairs screaming, "TASSIETASSIETASSIE!!!!" Tassie very slowly crept up and licked her, even though I know every bone in her body wanted to gallop up the stairs 4 at a time. Of course, this was after Tassie had run around our backyard (resembling the Tasmanian Devil, actually) upon everyone's arrival. At least she knows where she should go crazy and where she shouldn't. I think she slept very good last night - at 6am when I opened her crate she sat in their and gave me 'the look' she gives me when she thinks its too early to get up. Hmm, come to think of it, I think Marty gave me that same look this morning.

Jul 4 - Happy Independence Day! Its too bad Wednesday has to be the worst possible day for a holiday to fall on. It was, however, a beautiful day for a 100K bike ride which is what we did this morning. I had some chamois problems unfortunately, if you know what I mean, but still had fun. Going to hit pool at the Y in a bit for a short swim which will probably be filled with pee by that point, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. I'm also going to try and get some new running shoes as mine seem to be shot to Hades and I've re-developed some very painful plantar fascia pain. Not fun.

Jun 30 - Sometimes you have to know when to say when and just listen to your body. I like to think I'm pretty good at this as I tend to stay pretty injury-free and not too burnt out too soon. This week was one of those weeks - I had wanted to get in some real solid workouts with the highly competitive Triangle triathlon just around the corner, and then an olympic distance race we're doing in Chattanooga the weekend after, but my body said no. It wanted rest and it let me know it! So rest is what I gave it; gotta baby the body :) Today we did a good ride, though, went on a bunch of new roads (they are seemingly endless in this area, and we haven't even been up to Chapel Hill which is supposed to have a whole bunch more) for about a 70 mile ride. WHY was I doing a 70 mile ride? I didn't plan on it being that far! I thought it was going to be around 62 miles but it turns out it was a little longer than originally thought. So yup, that's my second longest ride ever (yeah, I know, I haven't ridden very far compared to a lot of you out there). Anyways, the ride was nice and steady and didn't get too hot until the very end. In other news, Marty has been busy fixing up our backyard. He's been planting, and gathering and bagging and he even bought a grill. This will come in handy for the barbeque we're hosting after the Triangle triathlon next weekend.

Jun 27 - Here's my Kure Beach race report.

Jun 26 - My niece Haileigh decided quite awhile ago that she wanted to grow her hair long so she could then donate it to Locks of Love. Today she got to go to the salon and get all of her hair chopped off! Here's a funny smirking before picture. And here she is after. She's 8 1/2 years old...what have you done lately?

Jun 24 - We had an early wake-up call this morning (3:30am!) and we were on the rode to Kure Beach at 4 with teammate Aaron Kiefer snoozing in the front seat. I was in the back with Marty's bike seat pressing into my right ear. The race was a lot of fun - it hurt quite a bit but I was able to push it pretty hard and since none of my teammates were there, I was the first female. Here are the women's results. What is really funny is somehow I still managed to outsplit Marty on both runs - but only by seconds. The first 1.5 mile run was very hard, much harder then the second, even though I only slowed down a tad on the second run. I was able to drop my heartrate on the long, soft sand run to the start of the last swim so I wasn't totally anaerobic going into the water and felt much better than I thought I would. Really fun race and a great workout to boot.

Jun 21 - This Sunday Marty and I are going to do the Kure Beach Double Sprint Triathlon. I've never done a race of this format and I think its going to be a lot of fun. 375meter swim - 1.5mile run - 20K bike - 1.5mile run - 375meter swim. I'm sure that last swim is going to be very slow and painful! We're going to be doing the 2+ hour drive the morning of as hotels on the beach right now are too expensive for us for it to be worth it.

Jun 19 - This interview of the recent spelling bee winner is hysterical!

Jun 17 - Just got back in from Orlando where I had a great time with my family. We got to the Magic Kingdom pretty much when the park opened and hit all the good rides before they got too crowded. My niece Haileigh is a lot of fun to be around and doesn't whine or complain. She's a very easy-going kid. It was also nice to see my parents and my sister Heather (although for only a brief dinner and dessert). Ashleigh, my 2 1/2 year old niece is beyond cute and was very happy to see all the disney characters - the machine has already got a hold of her tightly. Our tri clinic went very well in Lakeland - once again, great group of people. Rich Wills, owner of FITniche allowed us to host the clinic out of his store. Go check it out if you're in the area. Unfortuntately, vacationing in Florida with the fam does not a good training weekend make. Luckily, I only have some sprints coming up so I'll get back into it this week.

Jun 12 - You know what would be insane? Going to Disney World in the summer. So guess what Marty and I are doing on FridayÖooh you're so smart! Yes, we will be with the throngs of tourists wearing fanny packs, socks with sandals, and mickey ears as we all sweat our way through the Magic Kingdom. We're not usually so stupid, but it all came about rather quickly. You see, Marty is running a triathlon clinic in Lakeland on Saturday, and originally I wasn't going to go with him. But the demand was higher than expected so it seemed like a better idea for me to fly down there and help out. It just so happens that my older sister will be in Orlando reffing at a big volleyball tournament. My mom and dad were taking her daughters (my super cute nieces) to the Magic Kingdom on Friday, so I booked my flight for Thursday night to join in the fun. Seriously, it will be fun to hang out with the kids (and my family, too). I haven't seen them in quite awhile, and apparently my youngest niece, Ashleigh, has starting calling me 'Rabbit' (?) Anyways, we all about fell over when Marty decided he also wanted to accompany all of us. I can't wait until we're waiting for2 hours to ride 'Itís a Small World.' Its tough to predict who will be crying first.

Jun 10 - I've been watching my friend Alisha's dog while her and her husband are up at Eagleman. Symba is about 10 years old and is a very nice dog. It is clearly evident that Tassie has a whole lot of puppy still in her when she's around him. Symba puts up with her fine and even played with her in the backyard. When I would come home, Symba would be wagging his tail and looking at me, whereas Tassie is wagging her tail so hard her hips are swinging back and forth. She's wiggling so much you think she's going to catapult herself into the next room. Then as I walk closer she does a few circles, paws at me, stretches (and usually farts!) then starts her wiggling again. Symba just stands there wagging. If I open the door to the backyard and Tassie thinks Symba is moving too slow, she will literally vault over him, do a couple circles on the deck, and then look back to see where he is. They've been good company while Marty's been away.

A lot of my teammates had great races at Eagleman! Alisha pr'd despite having some hip issues on the bike and run - her swim has really improved and she came out right in the mix of the pro's. Marty had a good one and pr'd even though he was a fred on his bike. Kristin Price stomped on all the amateurs and her sister Kara had a good race "until those last 13.1 miles." :) Douglas and Anne rounded out the lineup and both turned in smokin' fast times. I'm proud to be associated with all these people!

Jun 6 - While Marty will be up in Maryland this weekend for Eagleman, I'll be holding down the fort and staying pretty busy myself. Saturday morning I'm doing the run portion of the Triathlon clinic our team is putting on. I'll be going over some form drills and tips as well as how to run fast :) Then later that day I'm going to be a model for Ladies Night at Inside-Out Sports. Me and a few other girls will be getting our hair and make-up done, and then we'll be strutting around in lots of tight lycra.

Jun 5 Ė I was named after my dad, Brian. I have two older sisters and since I was last one, I got to be his namesake. So thatís how you get Brianne. I think itís a pretty easy name, but Iíve found over the years it isnít Ė most want to call me Brianna. My name got shortened to Bri in college, which I rather like and most people get that. Although my mom still says, ĎYour name is BRIANNE! Not BRI!í (Not that she even calls me Brianne - I've always been Annie to mom and dad). I read today online about the top baby names for 2006 and am realizing why my name is so mispronounced. Brianne hasnít made it in the top 1000 since 2004! In fact, the lowest it ever got was #332 in 1992. Brianna, on the other hand, was ranked #20 last year, and was all the way down to #15 in 2000. Check out where your name is.

Jun 4 - Happy birthday, dad (and Judy)! Here's a very in-depth, play-by-play race report from the Over the Mountain triathlon.

Jun 3 - Marty was pretty confident he had finally outsplit me yesterday in the run portion of Over the Mountain. Well, results are up and I still got him. 2 seconds was all that separates a big, fat, BRI WINS :) However, it is pretty evident that my bike was poor. Very poor. I knew I didn't push it too hard, but now looking at the results, my split was very bad. So its a good thing I had a good run!

Jun 2 - Marty and I had a good time in Kings Mountain for the Over the Mountain triathlon this morning. I was ready to have some fun and put in a good effort. The swim was non-wetsuit and seemed kind of long. The bike was a rolling 45K and since I had not previewed it I just tried to keep a good tempo (and probably didn't push even close to what you should in a race). The good thing is I came off feeling fresh and was very comfortable on the run. I also felt like I could've gone faster on the run, but I was content with the effort and it was nice to not have to go to the proverbial well. Got done and wasn't that tired so I'm psyched for the rest of the summer racing. I finished 2nd (by a lot) to a very fit Stacey Richardson who should kick some major bootie out at nationals in a few weeks. Marty also finished 2nd - we're so cute!

May 31 - I took Tassie for a run tonight - she did great! 15min and didn't slow down a bit. I think we've got ourselves a runner.

May 28 - I saw Jon Blais roll across the finish line at the 2005 Hawaiian Ironman. At the time, I didn't know what the heck he was doing, but cheered anyways. There were a lot of people doing strange things when they crossed the finish (one person did 10 pushups immediately after...). Then when I watched the NBC coverage I got the full story on The Blazeman. Very sad to hear he died yesterday. Its amazing that with all of our modern medicine, there is still nothing that can really help this disease.

May 27 - I feel like I'm getting back on the wagon. Had my first long run since the White Lake 1/2 out at Umstead on Saturday morning, and did all right considering I was coughing for about 35% of the run. This morning was a solo broken brick which went pretty good - not fantastic but not bad either. Although I didn't miss too many workouts this past week when I was pretty sick, I definitely think my body wasn't recovering as quick as normal (uh, duh, maybe it was trying to get me better...). This coming Saturday Marty and I are doing the Over the Mountain olympic distance (plus) race. It rapidly moved to a C- on the race priority list for me, but I've heard nothing but good things about the venue and challenging bike portion. So I'm going to go over there and have a lot of fun and then try to get my fitness back under me for some summer sprints.

May 26 - I woke up on my birthday feeling much better, it seemed that I had gotten over the hump of my sickness. Marty took me to a very nice dinner and then he wanted to head to a downtown sports bar before watching some of the Raleigh Criterium. I was definitely surprised to walk in and have a bunch of our friends sitting at a table for us! Marty and my sister threw this little get together for me and I never knew until the moment I walked through the door. It sure makes you feel good to know people will surprise you and meet you out for your birthday like that! We caught the end of the criterium before closing the night at The Flying Saucer. It was definitely one of the Gaal's latest nights in a very long time, but hey, it was my birthday ;)

May 24 - Oof, this cold is getting hard to shake. I loaded up on NyQuil last night and a breathe right nose strip and I actually got a decent night's sleep. Marty, however, woke up at 4:30am to one of my coughing fits and couldn't go back to sleep so he got a good jump on the day! I got a (slow) swim in this morning at the un-bubbled Cary Y pool, and nice ride tonight with what is typically called 'The Sanchez Group.' I'm glad I've found some great people to work out with - especially for weekday rides.

May 23 - Stupid head cold!

May 20 - Okay, deep breath! This past weekend was really good, and I'm feeling more relaxed than I was at the end of the work week. The Surf 'n Turf triathlon was a whole lot of fun to watch on Saturday. With all the short distances and multiple transitions, people were running every which way the entire time. I think I get way more nervous watching an event than when I am actually racing. Our friend Bill came into town and we've been hanging out and having a lot of fun with him. He took us on a plane ride today which was pretty cool, although I have to admit I wasn't as cool as I pretended to be up there. The plane was TINY and every little air movement caused little drops and pitches (sometimes big drops and pitches), but it was very neat to get a birds eye view of the area. We went up about 2500 feet (and we did have a flight instructor, so no real worries). We flew over Jordan Lake and got see the hundreds of boats and people tubing - it was really gorgeous out today. Then we went over Pittsboro and Siler City, both places I have actually never been, but I heard something about there being some really good ice cream shop in Pittsboro so its definitely on my to-do list. This Friday is my 28th birthday - I'm now the age Marty was when he first met me 7 years ago! I can't believe I'm close to 30 when I really feel like I'm still about 20. I really can't believe that 10 years ago I graduated high school. It seems like it wasn't very long ago at all, although I didn't do a good job of staying in touch with anyone in high school and only talk to about 2 people that were there with me. I often wonder how people are doing, where they are and all that stuff, but my best friends really came out of college. My high school was so small we probably won't even have a reunion, but it would be kind of fun if we did. Wow, this post sure did ramble off..

May 17 - Being gone every weekend is really wearing me down. I feel like I'm never caught up on anything, and by the time I get home from work and try to train, I'm exhausted. Laundry is never complete, and then of course, never folded. The nooks and crannies of our house are getting quite dirty, but the last thing I want to do at 10pm is get on my hands and knees and clean. I really feel like my training has gone downhill fast - I tapered for St. Anthony's, rode that through to White Lake, and then took most of last week off, so effectively I haven't trained much for 3 weeks. I felt it last night at Umstead as I tried to do a run workout and it turned into a slogfest where I felt like I was 400 pounds and running through water. I can't even imagine having kids to take care of like a lot of you do! This weekend we're gone again - I'm working the team tent at the Surf 'n Turf triathlon while Marty races. Itís a 2.5 hr drive down to Surf City which we'll be doing Friday night after I get off of work. No sleeping in on Saturday as the tent needs to be set up first thing when transition and registration open. To top it off, work has been very stressful. Can you tell I'm not having a great week?

May 14 - Its 6am and Marty and I are sitting in the Orlando airport. I'm not sure why we always think these early flights are fine when we book them. We had a lot of fun down here hanging out with the family and our friends. If our friends could just move up to NC everything would be perfect! I have to say though, I really like living in Cary, and I'm reminded of why I like it so much whenever we come back to Central Florida. Marty and I both had nice surprises on our cell phones upon landing here - voicemails from our friends in Australia! They're coming to visit us in October and I can't wait to see them again. I can't believe its almost been a year since we were there last.

May 11 - This easy week has been fun; no getting up super early to swim, no worries about going out at night and missing a workout (either before or after) and no rushing home from work to get some training in. I did manage to splash around the pool twice and did a group ride last night (although I hung off the back and didn't pull once!). I'll get back into it next week. They took the bubble off of the pool at the Y we swim at, but that pool doesn't reopen for another couple of weeks. There is another pool there, but its not heated and we had some unseasonably cool weather so the water temp was pretty chilly. I opted to go out of my way this morning and swim at the Pullen Aquatic Center. Tonight we're heading down to Florida, the land of smoke and fires apparently.

May 8 - Here's my race report, for those of you who are into that stuff.

May 8 - Results were finally put up from the race this weekend. My estimates were pretty close; swim was 31:09, bike was 2:34:51, and my run was 1:31:47. Marty is very proud of himself because for the first time this year, he beat me on the run (by 37 seconds). I feel surprisingly good right now but am still going to take a pretty easy week. We're heading to Orlando for a wedding this weekend - it will be fun to travel and not have to worry about a race!

May 5 - The White Lake Half went very well this morning - for the first time I actually RACED a half ironman! I finished 3rd overall, behind two teammates that were total studs out there. I was about a 1:30 behind the winner (Anne) and about :30 behind 2nd (Jeanna). Splits aren't out, but I did something like 31 minutes for the swim, 2:35 for the bike and about a 1:31high for the run, for a total time of 4:40:36. I am very happy with this effort.

However, I got my first penalty - sweet! No longer am I a penalty virgin - I can't tell you how many tri's I've done over my life, but its probably over 100 when you count all the little ones I did as a kid. This is the girl who never even got a detention in school! Seriously, I was not happy when I saw my number show up on the penalty list. Out on the bike course I saw several officials and I was so happy that they were out there on this flat course - I never once thought, oh geez, that was questionable and worry that I may have been dinged. The ref explained to me that someone passed me and I dropped back immediately, however, I did not drop back the required 3 bike lengths in 15 seconds, as the rule states. I don't know who counted the 15 seconds, but I know I was very careful out there, soft pedalling when necessary and taking a stretch break if I needed to drop back. So it plain sucks to have a penalty next to your name, but you can't do anything about it. I know I didn't intentionally try to cheat and I hope those that know me also know I wouldn't. I guess at some point with the number of races we do this is bound to happen. Just got to move on and not let this spoil the race I had. Luckily, it didn't drop me any places. And just to keep it all in the family, Marty also got a penalty, but his was way more bogus and really a judgement call.

May 4 - Its funny how something so simple can put you in a bad mood. I left work yesterday in a decent state but upon entering traffic all the radio stations were in a plot against me. I have 5 presets and 4 of them had commercials that were shouting at me (NO MONEY DOWN!! NO INTEREST FOR A YEAR!!") My only hope was preset #4. And you know who was on that? Freakin' Phil Collins. I HATE his music. I have no idea why but it irks me to no end. Just the sound of his voice makes me cringe. Can you tell me what a Sussudio is? Nobody knows. And hey, Phil, maybe she does have an invisible touch, but I know she certainly doesn't have an invisible touch-eh! Arghhh! By the time I got home I was in such a bad mood. Stupid Phil Collins for making me like this - why does he have that power? We must have had some scuffle in a former life. At least Tassie was there to greet me with her wiggling little butt to help me smile a bit.

May 1 - Moved up a spot in the amateur elite division, 7th place now! They took the girl with the super-fast bike split out so it bumped most of us up. Still doesn't change the award I got - besides the beautiful artwork they always give out at St. Anthony's, our division had some good prizes, but only for the first few places. 1st place got an Orbea frame, 2nd received race wheels...7th & 8th? A water bottle and cage :) I have a very funny picture a friend took of me on Sunday, but I'm debating putting it up on my site. Let's just say, Michael Jordan and I have something in common. Also wanted to let everyone out there know that I've been coaching my sister for a few months - and she got 3rd overall at a local sprint tri up here. Way to go, Shana!

Apr 30 - St. Anthony's was definitely an 'A' race for me, and it went pretty good. I really can't complain at all since it was a huge PR (2:08:50) but that was still only good for 8th overall in the division (possibly 7th b/c one of the girls bike splits looks very suspect). The conditions were really great - glass calm, wetsuit legal swim, little wind on the bike, and the typical hot run. I had a very good swim, didn't actually feel too snappy on the bike but still managed a new 40K PR, and then I had really hoped to break 40min on the run but was 11 seconds shy. The last two miles were mentally and physically very challenging. I can also say something that barely anyone can say who has ever done St. Anthony's - except for the first 5 miles of the bike, I literally rode the ENTIRE course by myself. I caught a few struggling pros but that was it. At one point I felt like I was out there by myself on a training ride! Anyways, I'll write a race report and probably post it on the Elite Triangle Team's website.

Apr 25 Ė Marty left this morning for the drive down to Florida. Iím not with him, but he has plenty of company Ė 4 bikes (mine and his, plus 2 teammates) and various other items. PT Cruisers are deceptively big. Iíll be flying down on Friday evening with Alisha, and then we both have the early flight out on Monday morning. Iím definitely excited about the race on Sunday. Iíve only raced there twice, despite being there almost every year since I was 8. I donít think either of those two times were very good races for me so Iím looking to go down there and nail a good one. One thing Iím not thinking about is how Iím going to do the White Lake Half a mere 6 days later. Hmmm, wasnít really thinking of that when I registered for both of these races over 4 months ago.

Apr 22 - It was absolutely gorgeous yesterday. I did some biking and running and didn't have sunscreen with me at the time for my legs and arms and they consequently got pretty burned. 2 weeks ago we were bundled up riding and running in 30 degree weather and today I have my cyclist tan back. I don't go out without sunscreen so I was pretty mad at myself for not remembering yesterday. All those days of arm and leg warmers got me to used to not worrying about it. Anyways, my legs were pretty white so this is one way to get some color back on them.

Apr 18 - Marty comes back from Miami tomorrow after visiting his dad for a few days. Poor guy got some food poisoning and has been pretty incapacitated. Tassie and I have been keeping ourselves busy while he's been gone - she runs around and gives me kisses and takes showers with me...what type of website is this?! You must be 18 or older to enter!

Apr 15 - I haven't been very motivated to update for a few days. Don't you guys out there get bored reading about my inane life? Work, blah blah blah, training, blah blah blah. But I guess you're still here so here's what's been happening. Today was my sister's birthday, so we took her to brunch and then to a pub. I didn't get a Hawaii lottery spot which is a good thing (I was still trying to figure out why I put my name in that drawing...). We ran a clinic yesterday that was a lot fun, and I finally got to meet the nicest lady in the world. For those of you who have been here awhile and pay attention, this is one of Marty's athletes who GAVE me her road bike. Those clinics always prove to be more tiring than I remember and my bike ride never happened yesterday. My friend Alisha kicked everyone's butt at Powerman Alabama this morning. She won by almost 5 minutes which is completely ridiculous. Yup, that's about it. Can't really think of anything else.

Apr 10 - I thought Tassie was whining early this morning, but it turned out it was just Martyís stuffy nose making a funny whistling noise. Last week was a big training week for me; one of my highest ever. Iím feeling real good, and whenever I want to slack off I just take a look at the St. Anthonyís elite amateur start list Ė itís so stacked!

Apr 6 - I have the day off from work today - gotta love the bible belt! This morning Alisha met me early for a swim (she also met me early yesterday for a lift before I had to go to work - what a great friend!). Then Marty joined us and the three of us rode over to The Spin Cycle for a 62 mile group ride. It was a great ride with some hard efforts and a lot of nice guys. After that we all hopped off and did a short transition run. Its 2:00 now and after I play with Tassie in the backyard for a bit, I have no intention of getting off the couch for several hours.

Apr 3 - I started seeing those little brown things on my car and ground that indicate oakÖand I cringed. Sure enough, today as I sat at my desk I sneezed approximately 500 times and went through 75 tissues. I need to go out and buy some aloe tissues so I donít look like that priest we had at my grade school (we called him Father Red-Nose, although I donít believe his red nose was caused by allergies). Tassie likes to run around and play in the backyard but the problem is she then comes back feeling all gritty with the pollen Ė so sheís started taking showers with me. My shower is quite small and thereís something to be said about taking a shower with your dog. She walks right in now so I have to be careful when I donít want her to get all wet. Anyways, she splits her time in there trying to catch the water with her mouth and licking my toes. Try washing your hair while your dog licks your very ticklish toes. I got quite lucky last year with my allergies because we missed this very bad season Ė my last spring was in 2005. Starting from then our seasons went like this Spring Ė Summer - Fall Ė Winter Ė (went Down Under) Summer Ė Fall Ė (Came back to US) Summer- Fall ĖWinter Ė and now dreaded Spring again. I guess I need to just head to the other side of the equator after winter from now on.

Mar 31 - We did our first NCTS race of the year in Wilmington at the Azalea Festival. This was a pool swim where we zigzagged down the lanes in 15 second increments. My slow swim will look even slower as the timing mat wasn't until you got out, went down a flight of stairs (that was fun) and out the door. I definitely felt slow in the water and think the shorts I chose to wear didn't help my cause. I need to figure out how to go faster! Onto the bike where I tried to push hard despite many turns and lots of speed bumps. Without a computer I was having trouble gauging how fast I was going, but I think I put in a pretty good effort. It was weird being out there alone just time trialing eveything. When I got onto the run I felt like myself again and started reeling people in. I ended up first overall, about a minute ahead of my teammate Anne Basso. She started 2 min ahead of me so I never really knew where I stood during the race. It was a fun event - the course was definitely a little squirrely, but Setup Events does a great job with everything. The race itself was short but it sure was hard! We're going on the awards cruise tonight which should be a good time, and hopefully we'll meet some more people out here. Once again, it was weird not knowing a whole lot of people at the race, but I'm sure that will change in time.

Mar 29 - The pollen up here right now is ridiculous. I thought it was bad in Florida, but I've never seen so much yellow in my life. Yesterday on our run we actually ran through clouds of it and came back coated. I've been surviving it pretty good - some of you know I have very bad allergies, but I've been taking my Allegra every morning and that seems to be helping. Pollen is bad but my real nemesis is oak. Mostly, I think Marty and I have been feeling like we're under the weather when we're really not. Last night we had a team meeting with the Elite Triangle Triathlon Team - and we got our aero helmets! They're custom painted to match our uniforms and come complete with flames and a skull and cross bones on the back. I put it on and I look completely ridiculous - I love it! I'm excited to wear it this weekend at the Azalea Festival triathlon in Wilmington.

Mar 24 - Interesting past couple of days. Thursday Marty and I went to the group ride at Inside-Out. I tried to stick with the fast group and made it about halfway before getting dropped. Then I got lost, and then it got dark. I ended up riding several miles on sidewalks that would end for no apparent reason back to the the house. I also had to take my prescription sunglasses off so I couldn't see very well. I was going to wear my contacts for the ride but had a contact solution mishap that was equally moronic. Marty left for D.C. yesterday afternoon to run/coach a couple of his athletes who were running a half marathon today. When I got home from work our transformer blew and the power went out and then upon going upstairs I found a bird trapped in our bedroom. This was after closely examining our living room floor and wondering how Tassie had managed to track in such perfectly formed bird poop. I don't like birds so this freaked me out quite a bit. My friend Kristy came over and the two of us decked out in what we thought was appropriate birding attire and managed to shoo it out of a window. This was, of course, preceded by much shrieking, ducking, and covering. On the upside, I had a fantastic long run at Umstead early this morning before going into Inside-out to work. I ran my longest run of the year (1:45) on a gorgeous morning. A big chunk of it was tempo and I felt really strong. Marty should be home in another hour or so and all will be right with our little bubble again.

Mar 20 - Update - my official time from the 5K this past weekend was 18:11.1 :) My chip malfunctioned so I wasn't in the original results (and I didn't get my award, bummer). So I guess they rounded up in the current results, but Alicia Parr who was nice enough to stick around and let the race director know that I got left out, let me know my real time. And I'll gladly take that extra second off!

I started my job this week, and its going pretty good. On the plus side: I have my own nice cube near a window, they have showers and lockers, there is a small group that runs almost every lunch, and there is free coffee all the time. On the bad side: My job is very confusing at the moment and I hope I can learn things very, very quick! It is quite interesting - I'll be keeping track of revenue for their accounts in Africa, so I'll be dealing with people all over the world. This morning was a weekly meeting that included people from the US, Canada, and South Africa. I'll also be dealing closely with one of their accountants in Nigeria, but she is totally legit. She won't be sending any emails out that start "My dearest friend with Most Honor - I have 1 million US dollars ....."

Mar 18 - Team Gaal was at it again yesterday at the Run for the Oaks in downtown Raleigh. For all of Marty's talk, he is so great to me and allowed me to pace off him the entire way until the end. We went through the mile at around 5:50 and then continued to pass everyone who had gone out too fast. We ended up holding very even splits. Marty took the lead and let me draft off of him on the long windy straight. I passed all the women ahead of me except for one who I never even saw until the last 300 yards. I now have a new road pr of 18:12 - thanks Marty! But I still beat ya ;)

It was also nice to finally know some people out at the race this time. Several of my teammates from the Elite Team were also out there and ran very fast for the early season.

Mar 15 - I start the new job on Monday so I'm trying to enjoy these last few days of freedom and get in some good training. I'm still working at Inside-Out, and will continue to try and work some weekends when I can. You can't beat the flexibility I've had there. Yesterday we did a good swim session in the morning, then rode long with some intervals in the middle. We finished the day off with a very easy loop of Company Mill at Umstead. This morning Marty and I did a long run in the bridle trails over there. We're both running a 5k this weekend in Raleigh, and although I would love to go out and hit some great time, I have to look at the big picture and train through it. Having a fast time would be fun, but I don't want to sacrifice my training going into the triathlon season. So we'll see how it goes. Looking forward to having my dad in town along with my older sister and nieces; should be a lot of fun. My dad is giving me his Zipp 404's to race on all season - is he the greatest or what?!

Mar 12 - I do love daylight savings time, and I'm glad we changed 3 weeks earlier this year. I'm hoping that with my new job I'll still be able to get in a workout after work since it'll stay light longer. I really don't get the whole concept and wonder why we don't have daylight savings time all year? I know, I know, its the farmers (whatever that means). What I think is really weird is that we're the only ones who have changed our clocks. I didn't have any problems - my cell phone and computer all changed automatically, but I wonder if this will mess anyone up internationally. Last year when we were in Australia, we were 16 hours ahead until the time change when we were only 14 hours ahead (because they have opposite seasons, they were falling back and the US was springing forward, hence the 2 hour difference). So last week the US was 16 hours behind Australia, now we're 15 hours, and in 3 weeks we'll be 14 hours. Very confusing.

Mar 11 - First tri of 2007! The camp this week ended with Florida's Great Escape. We couldn't ask for better weather this morning (although the fog made the buoys very hard to spot in the swim). I decided to race elite and thought I was very outclassed upon seeing Lisa Bentley, Dede Griesbauer and some other very fast looking girls. I thought I had a decent swim but was the last girl out of our wave - compared to age groupers I would've been in the top 5 but that doesn't cut it with the pros. Off on the bike and I passed a few and even passed uber-Ironman athlete Lisa Bentley. I'm sure the distances today are her usual warmups! I ended up about a minute off the girls who beat me on the bike, so that is some improvement over a mere two years ago. I passed another girl in transition and then one more on the soft sand at the beginning of the run. I felt great on the run and kept pushing the whole way. They said they GPS'd the run and that the 3 mile mark was dead-on, but the finish was only 15 seconds later so I'm thinking the run was at least 30 seconds short. I finished 4th overall with a total time of 1:20:51, and a run split of 17:46. It was a great way to end the camp and I think everyone had a real fun week here in Central Florida. Marty also had a solid race and finished 6th in a very competitive field. Results are here. They spelled our last name Gall instead of Gaal. Happens a lot. We're heading back up to NC tomorrow and I have my orientation for my new job on Tuesday.

Mar 7 - Very busy the past few days. We drove down to Orlando on Monday and finished setting up different things for the camp we're running right now. The first part of the camp started today and everything went really well. Our group is very relaxed and fun. We got some good training in today, its just pretty exhausting setting up and executing everything well. Its definitely worth it, though. I'm racing elite at The Great Escape, which means I could totally be getting my butt kicked against some real pros, but its the first race so it'll be fun to shake the cobwebs off. Hopefully, Marty and I aren't too tired by the time Sunday rolls around! In other very important news, I have been hired by a company in RTP (Research Triangle Park) and will be starting very soon after we get back up to NC. It will definitely be good for the bank account, but not so good for the training log. Such is life ;) Its time for me to start pulling my weight around here.

Mar 3 - After nearly 5 years, I have a new 10K PR! This morning Marty and I ran in the WakeMed Cary Distance Festival 10K. The start was in downtown Cary and was a rolling, USATF certified course. Marty, my loving hubby and coach, was nice enough to set the pace and block the wind for me for the first 5k. Note I said block the wind, not break wind, which is always a possibility ;) We hit the 5k in 19:06 and still feeling pretty good, I decided to try and keep up the pace through the next 5k. I had to work a lot harder but finished the second 5k in 19:12 for a total time of 38:18, and good for first place overall female. Marty also ran very strong and came in at 38:52. He did great, but not good enough to keep the Gaal Household crown on top of his head - booyah!

Mar 2 - Marty and I are running the 10K at the WakeMed Distance Festival tomorrow morning. Kind of nice, the race doesn't start until 9:00 am and its right around the corner from our house. The course could be a bit hilly, but I'm hoping its not too bad. This morning I met Alisha for a monster swim session of 4,400 yards. We both have similar swimming backgrounds in that we swam when we were younger, but then took big breaks. I always think of myself as an in-betweener, someone who is good compared to people who haven't really ever swam before, but not compared to those who swam in high school or college. We both seem to be getting stronger and holding faster intervals, so maybe we'll start to bridge up to the real swimmers someday. Its so much nicer to swim right next to someone who is pushing you the whole way. I had that in Orlando with my friend Carey and now I have it here; at least for awhile until Alisha is over in Europe cycling with the US team for all of April.

Mar 1 - I don't think my legs have been this white ever.

Feb 28 - Today started off well - I met my swimming buddy at the pool and cranked out a good 3K+ workout. This is probably the first time in my entire life that I have consistently swam 3 solid workouts a week for several months in a row. Well maybe 2 months, but I guess 2 could be several? Anyways, yesterday we did our first broken brick and Alisha accompanied us. It was a 'short' broken brick but pretty intense the last 2 sets. She pushed me hard and I was very glad to stick on her wheel for almost the entire bike portions (granted they were short, but she is a super-stud). So possibly I was a bit fatigued going into my bike ride today because I have no explanation for what happened to me. My stomach was a bit irritated when I started, but no biggie. As the ride went on it got way worse - very hard to explain. I don't know if it was bad acid, gas, or who knows what. At one point I thought I was passing a kidney stone because the pain episodes were ridiculously intense. I ended up calling Marty to come get me (he was just finishing his ride). My nice husband drove out Old US 1 and found his seriously pained wife. I moaned and suffered for a good bit, hid under the covers and then all of the sudden felt better. At one point Marty tried to get me to eat some ice cream and I refused way too quick. He knew I was in pain then! It was just the weirdest thing and I hope it doesn't happen ever again!

Feb 26 - Marty is a bit of a sci-fi geek. And when I say a bit, I mean if it has vampires, interplanetary transport, or comes from a comic book, he could do a dissertation on it. Take for instance what just happened a few minutes ago. He was intently watching Heroes, describing how the show has potential but is teetering on the edge of being really good or really lousy, when I walked in front of the tv. Don't worry, it had just turned into a commercial. I was saying something to him when all of the sudden he leaned to the side and exclaimed, "Oooh! The Silver Surfer!" I turn around and its the preview for some new movie featuring some old comic book character. I was then fully informed about The Silver Surfer. So Marty and I have a whole lot in common, but this is where our interests diverge.

Feb 25 - Great job to Alisha Lion for winning her pro debut out at the Desert Classic Duathlon! While she was out there cleaning up and spending too much time in transition, Marty and I were the two insane cyclists you may have seen riding out on the lonely, wet roads of Wake and Chatham county. I'm not sure why I thought it would be a good idea to ride outside this morning, maybe because I couldn't stomach sitting on the trainer for 3 hours. Marty wasn't even going to go as his legs were pretty tired from the 20K yesterday, but then he said he felt bad that I would be out there all by myself. If he hadn't gone, you can bet I would've called him to come pick me up! The rain was annoying, but the numbness in my feet and hands were practically unbearable. The temp was in the low 40's and it didn't take long to get soaked through. I felt fine physically, but mentally it was one of the toughest rides I've ever had. The last 10 miles through Apex and into Cary were brutal - and hopefully will make me very, very tough!

Feb 24 - The runs went well this morning. Marty held 6:45 pace for his 20K and half of his race was very hilly. Mine was mostly flat and I ran 24:14 for the 4 miles. I felt really good and strong throughout the whole thing (although I went a little slower each mile, hmmm). I was with a cute, little short lady with a quick turnover for a lot of the race. She would throw in surges and I would think, "Oh, I'm so not ready for this!" I just ran my race and tried to stay with it. She ended up holding the pace much better than me and I finished second. I found out later that she was Joan Nesbit. I have only read about her online so that's pretty cool that I was right there running with her - except for a quick congratulations at the end I didn't get to talk to her (Okay, I'm a bit shy sometimes!), although I would've felt a little geeky going up to her and saying, 'Wow! You're an Olympian!' The other members of the Elite Triangle Triathlon Team also ran well, with super-stud Kristin Price winning the 20K in 1:12.

Feb 23 - Tomorrow morning we're going to do the Coach Bubba run. I'll be doing the 4 mile (because I hate long stuff) and Marty will be running the 20K. It should be nice and chilly in the morning for the races! I have no idea what type of pace I can hold as all of our workouts have been out on the bridle trails at Umstead.

Feb 20 - I was talking to my dad earlier and he told me he was really impressed with my ability to train in the cold weather. See, I'm a Florida girl born and bred, and except for one year in Auburn, Alabama, I've lived in Florida my entire life. My family knows I'm not a cold weather girl - but its funny how quickly you can adapt to your environment. I mean, we're not talking about North Dakota or something, North Carolina is still considered the south! I have to admit, that when I was in Florida in the winter, I secretly snickered at all those people suffering in the colder temps. But you want to know the real secret? Its not that bad! I'm serious! All you really need is appropriate clothing (big thanks to my mom and Alisha for helping me out on that one), and someone to meet for a workout. If you know you've got someone else willing to meet you then its much easier to get your tookas out the door (although that's a good rule for any workout). As long as its not cold AND raining, then there's not much of an excuse. All that being said, I was very happy to wear shorts on my run today!

Feb 18 - It really cracks me up when I look over at Tassie and she is staring at the tv. Like right now, I have the Tour of California on and I look over and she is intently watching the wrap-up of the prologue. I wish I had my camera handy. We had good longish run at Umstead yesterday morning and I drafted for about 2.5 hours today in the chilly, windy conditions on the bike. It was a good ride for me; I feel like I'm getting back into shape.

Feb 15 - Our little girl is going under the knife tomorrow. Tassie is getting spayed. So, we kind of dropped out of puppy class, there was only one left and we did well with everything but walking on a leash. They want her to walk right next to me at my hip like those show dogs do. Fat chance. I'm just glad when she doesn't pull. The Dog Whisperer would not approve, although I have to admit, I do DVR that show so I can watch it when I ride the trainer. Its funny and educational at the same time. You can't say that about many tv shows. Anyways, Marty's sister is coming into town just for the night tomorrow and I'm afraid that Anna won't get the full effect of Tassie's signature wiggle when she greets people. I hope she won't be in too much pain.

Feb 11 - Another weekend has come and gone. My mom flew in on Friday night and we did a little shopping yesterday and then went into Chapel Hill today. Last night we all went to Inside-Out Sports where they were having ridiculous sales, food and drinks for 'Customer Appreciation Night.' They had a great turnout and lots of people walked away with impressive gifts from the raffle as well as incredible deals. We also got in some good training this weekend. Despite it being only 28 degrees when we started, Marty and I got in a great long run with 40min of tempo in the middle of it. And this morning Shana met us for a bike ride - I've written her a training plan for her upcoming triathlons and she's sticking it to it very well. Marty and I went a bit further and threw in some threshold intervals. I'm definitely feeling stronger on the bike - not exactly fast, but strong.

So are my posts getting boring? I definitely had a lot more interesting things to talk about last year at this time. We need to figure out how to do some more traveling before people start falling asleep while reading my updates ;)

Feb 8 - Congratulations to our niece Haileigh for her student of the month award!

Feb 7 - The Triangle got a bit of a warmup today, and it was great to have the day off so I could get a long ride in with Alisha. She was nice enough to let me sit on her wheel when it got too windy. We've been going all over the place so I've been slowly learning the roads - there are so many places to ride around here!

Feb 6 - We took Tassie to her first grooming today at PetsMart. They said she did very good but we weren't sure they gave us the right dog back - they clipped all of her fuzzy hair off! We also realized that she is way skinny, so we're going to be feeding her a little extra now. All that fur made her look bigger than she really is. No wonder she can still fit through the slats of our deck. While she was getting groomed, Marty and I ran at Umstead and we had the entire park to ourselves it seemed. I guess it was too cold for most people today, but we did some harder efforts and warmed up very quickly. I even had to shed one of my layers. It was a really nice run.

Feb 3 - We were having huge sales at the store today and it was slammed - time definitely goes by fast when its busy like that. It was very chilly this morning and as I was stocking the shoes outside in the tent, I realized how not smart I was with regard to winter clothing and common sense. Now I'm trying to get psyched to ride my trainer for a bit. I hope there's something good on tv...

Feb 1 - Do you have 3 minutes you want to waste? Check out our first You Tube video with Tassie in the snow (and Marty pelting me with snowballs). Please excuse the beginning, I obviously have some editing I need to work on!

Jan 30 - So winter is here. Yesterday's high was 36 and when I ran in the morning it was probably in the 20's (I didn't want to check before I walked out the door). That's the best way to do it - just bundle up and get out there. The more you think of it the easier it is to talk yourself out of it. I don't have the best winter workout clothes, but I make do with what I do have. Two of my mainstays are shirts that I originally got for the Footlocker cross country race my freshmen year in high school - yes, that would be 1993. They both still fit 14 years later, but their style is not so good. Tomorrow it will be in the 30's but since I have the day off, I'm going to meet up with a friend and get a long bike ride in. If I remember, I'll take a picture of what I look like on days like that on the bike. I need to finish that dumb disposable camera anyways. Even if its cold out, as long as its not raining, I try to get my workouts done outside. The trainer and treadmill are just not fun.

Jan 28 - We had a great time at Snowshoe this past weekend. The weather was awesome and it snowed today while we were skiing. We went with a fun group of people and neither Marty or I fell once (we're not very adventurous to tell the truth, we take our time and have fun getting down the slopes). Marty did tackle his first black diamond which is a major improvement from his meltdown at Whistler 4 years ago. Its nice to know we can drive not too far away and have a great ski weekend. We took pictures on a disposable camera and if they come out okay we'll post them up here.

Jan 26 - Last night was puppy class 7 of 8. We've missed 3 classes so I feel like we're a bit behind, but no worries, because most of the other dogs were not good at walking on a leash yet so it is probably 7 of 9 now. Tassie did much better last night when we were inside with the other dogs, but once we got outside she was all wiggle and wanting to play with the dogs next to her. Probably the biggest breakthrough was when she jumped into the backseat of the car by herself; I usually have to lift her up and that's becoming more difficult as she is getting a lot heavier (this has no bearing on my very jacked and strong arms). We're leaving today to make the drive into Snowshoe, and my sister Shana is going to be staying over here with her dog Carter to keep Tassie company. Bet she doesn't even miss us!

Jan 23 - This weekend we're heading up to Snowshoe, West Virginia for some skiing. I know its not going to be like skiing out west, but I'm sure its still going to be a lot of fun. We got in a good swim workout with a group at the Pullen Aquatic Center last night - definitely swam much more than I ever could've by myself. We'll be trying to make the workout every Monday from here on out.

Jan 21 - Last night we had our first team party for the Elite Triangle Triathlon Team (ETTT) which was a lot of fun! Marty and I had grand plans of getting up this morning for a nice long bike ride, but we were slow moving and decided to take care of some important errands instead (like getting appropriate socks for the cold weather). Instead we both rode the trainer indoors as the freezing rain started coming down. I watched Little Miss Sunshine and have to say it was quite entertaining. Tassie is doing well, although she destroyed our two kitchen mats recently. Hopefully, her destruction isn't going to be a trend. She was the example a lot of times in puppy class this past week because she seems to have a little bit of ADD and just wants to wiggle and play with everyone instead of sit, stay, and go down. We're doing the best we can :)

Jan 18 - Check out some pictures of our first snow dusting! Here's backyard, here's my car at the end of our driveway, and Tassie with snow on her nose after playing around.

Jan 17 - Monday, we apparently set a record high temperature and tomorrow they are calling for snow! I've never lived anywhere that snow has fallen, so this pretty exciting. Today was quite chilly so we bundled up and went out for a ride. It really wasn't that bad with 14 layers of clothing on. Marty and I looked like a couple of bank robbers with our balaclavas - and Marty's was even better because right before we went, he accidentally dipped it into the beef fat that was hardening from our dinner the night before. Yum! I was on my new-to-me road bike and it was awesome.

Jan 14 - We made it back safe and sound to NC. Had another great time hanging out last night with old friends at The Orlando Brewery, then later at the Crooked Bayou. We had our normal spots outside watching the spectacle that is downtown Orlando on a Saturday night. The parade of people and their attire is impossible to describe adequately, but is a must-see event for everyone. Our trip wouldn't have been complete without being hassled by a bum in downtown, and we were very lucky in that we were hassled BOTH times we were down there this trip. They sure are aggressive.

On the training front, Marty and I got in a lot of solid riding - 5 days straight (6 if you count the tri clinic, but it was only 19 miles). It was our own mini triathlon training camp snuck in between all of our other commitments. It was so great to see everyone in Florida!

Jan 11 - Coming down to Florida is always fun because we get to catch up with all of our friends, but it is literally go-go-go the entire time. There are always people who I really want to see and hang out with but we just run out of time. We're going to need a vacation to recover from this vacation when we get home! We're looking forward to the clinic on Saturday - we're going to have a solid crowd with lots of new faces; should be a lot of fun. Afterwards we're going to do a pub crawl/run organized by our friend Jim in downtown Orlando - I don't know if we'll ever find such a fun group of athletes that like to go out in Cary.

Jan 7 - I ran a 5K at Deleon Springs this morning - it was very humid. Nice little crowd out there for the 5K and the half marathon. I could definitely feel my lack of running over the holidays and lack of any speedwork since the last 5K in early December, but still ran a 19:27 which I can't complain about in the off season. Afterwards, we dined on pancakes at The Old Spanish Sugar Mill. I'm always impressed with how fast Altavista Sports gets the results up. By the time you get back to your house the results are posted (and sometimes even faster than that!). It makes you wonder how if this little timing outfit can do it, why can't everyone else?

Jan 5 - Marty and I have empty nest syndrome. We drove this morning to meet my sister so she could watch Tassie while we're in Florida. We doped her up good with dramamine (its okay, the vet told us) and she slept most of the way and didn't barf once. Made us almost want to turn around and bring her down with us to see everyone in Florida. Anyways, she's been there for about 6.5 hours and I've already gotten 2 pictures of destroyed binkies, care of Tassie Gaal. We're going to need to pick her up next week armed with a truckload of replacements, or maybe its time for Ashleigh to give them up ;)

I keep forgetting to write about this, but good lordy is it warm up here! Marty and I just got back from a short jog and its hot and humid - seems like we brought the Florida winter up here with us. I know we can still expect cold days or weeks in the future, but everyday its not cold is one less day of winter!

Jan 4 - Its hard to believe that one year ago today we boarded a plane to Hong Kong and the beginning of our adventure. Our storage unit was finally packed and we were literally exhausted. I was jet lagged by the time we made it to San Francisco and in Hong Kong I took long naps and slept all through the night. When I think back to the amount of stuff we did to prepare for the trip I'm amazed that we got it all done and now here we are in our new house in a new state with our new puppy running around. Time flies and so many things happen while its flying!

Jan 2 - Crikey - trying to register for some of the North Carolina Triathlon Series races and the site is having issues. Some of these races sell out in a day (bet some of you didn't realize how popular triathlon is in this state). I somehow snuck onto some bandwidth earlier and got us a lodge room (and there aren't many) at the White Lake Half, although I haven't been able to register for the race yet. I would hyperlink the sites but I don't want YOU clogging up the site, too, haha.