Animal Frights!! Alligators, Turtles, Snakes & More

My parents were recently in Naples, Fla., enjoying the hot sub-tropical sun. Their condo has a lazy river swimming loop that our family adores when we have the opportunity.

The condo development is on the edge of town, and backs up to a water channel, so we've seen many types of wild animals: gators, boar, armadillos, snakes, fox and more. My parents' lanai looks onto a series of ponds, so we're always on the lookout for "Al." Once, when my Dad was grilling, Al planted himself directly behind their unit!

I've always wondered if animals get into the lazy river swimming pool. It's gated, but some could crawl over and others could slither under the chain fence. When I'd swim alone in the early morning or right before it closed, I'd imagine swimming around a corner and bumping into something scary...

Well, Mom and Dad said this time someone had to remove a 4-ft alligator from the lazy river. It'd snuck under the fence & was enjoying its lazy laps. Sure, it's a little one, but no thank you! They'd also removed a snake from the filter trap & a turtle who was swimming around. And, over by the water channel they had to trap and remove a bear. I love seeing wild animals. But as a mom of three, I don't want to go all "mama bear" in order to protect my cubs.

On Topic:
- p. 120 Fall 2009 USA Triathlon Life's The Big Question column topic is "What is the most interesting thing you've found while training?"

- Swim survivors of Lucky's Lake swim receive a special "I survived" patch after signing the wall. Athletes could see gators while swimming in Lucky's Lake.

- Seven months ago I asked triathletes what they've run into while training. What were athletes' tales from the trails? Read those responses here.

Question for You:
What animal encounter would scare you most while training?

photo by Dad: This isn't Al. My parents saw this sunny gator while on a roadtrip.

Triathlon + Family: LegoTown

This is LegoTown. This miniature world changes daily.

As we build and rebuild these creative scenes, we build up our family. LegoTown helps our family connect. In busier work or triathlon training seasons, we need the moments and interaction worlds like LegoTown provide.

We think triathlon + family = a good thing. But, it's easy to lose perspective and start chipping away at your family's foundation. Stop now and start repairing your own LegoTown.

Questions for You:
- How do you connect as a family?
- Do you love Legos?

More on Triathlon + Family
- Turn to p.90 of the November issue of Triathlete Magazine for "Walking the Tightrope: How to Balance Training and Family."

Hubby and I have finished triathlons of all distances. We have three kids and this year drove 4,000 miles roundtrip as a family to support Ken's second IM event. Read his race reports and meet Team BAMF here:
Ken & family supported my trip this summer to take USAT's Level 1 Coaching course.

photo by me: One section of LegoTown action!

Word Cloud: Triathlete Training

I love words! I write. I read. I learn.

As a writer I read and follow Nathan Bransford's blog. He's currently running the 3rd Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge. He pasted 247,000 words from the 2,651 challenge entries into a Wordle. I love it!

I copied my partial into a Wordle (first three chapters of my manuscript). The result:
Wordle: Sara - partial

Bike is BIG! I'm glad.

Questions for you:
- Do you follow Nathan?
- Do you love words & Wordles?
- What words would represent your current triathlon training experience? What would your big word be?

Image credit:

Congrats Local Finishers @ Ford Ironman World Championships!

I was surprised how many times I heard "from Madison, Wisconsin..." while watching athletes finishing this year's Ford Ironman World Championships. (Search 2009 results.)

Looking closer now at the results, I'm also impressed how many local athletes placed in their agegroups. Congratulations!

Athletes/finish time/placement include:
- Thomas Brunold - 9:27:09 3/248
- Mike Lavery - 9:36:35 5/35
- Michael Meteyer - 9:48:52 3/104
- Mike Gotzler - 9:59:35 56/206
- Joe Kurian - 10:02:03 56/143
- Jackie Arendt -10:17:58 4/51
- Jim Brusketwitz -10:52:05 5/57
- Cindi Bannick -11:11:37 27/67
- Tom Shepard -11:25:38 25/35
- Scott Johnson -11:26:30 102/183
- John Birkelo -11:37:29 109/183
- Colleen Capper -11:42:47 10/54
- Kristin Korevec -11:44:04 31/51
- Jeff Boldt -11:46:10 62/104
- Justin Hart -13:44:22 85/92

I hope I've included everyone. Again, congratulations!

Question for you:
Was your state/city represented at this year's Ford Ironman World Championships?

More Kona Coverage:
Wellington Sets a New Standard
Women's press conference
An incredible day in Kona

photo credit: Chrissie Wellington Wins!

A Hat Trick for Chrissie! 3x Ford Ironman World Champion

It's a hat trick for Great Britain's Chrissie Wellington! The superstar triathlete defended her title at yesterday's Ford Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, while also breaking the course record!

Wellington's overall time of 8:54:02 broke the course record set in 1992 by Ironman icon and eight-time Ironman World Champion Paula Newby-Fraser.

Wellington's never lost an Ironman event. At a shorter triathlon, Wellington took second to pro Julie Dibens at the 5430 longcourse triathlon in Boulder, Colo. At the women's press conference Wellington referred to that loss and quoted her former coach's advice, "Brett used to tell me that “some sessions are stones and some are stars, but they're all rocks that we build on.” I say, rock on Chrissie!
In Kailua-Kona Wellington held the lead by approximately 15 minutes throughout the 140.6-mile course, ranking 22nd among the entire field of male and female professional athletes.
The top five professional women’s results:
1. Chrissie Wellington, GBR 8:54:02
2. Mirinda Carfrae, AUS 9:13:59
3. Virginia Berasategui, SPA 9:15:28
4. Tereza Macel CZH 9:23:43
5. Samantha McGlone, CAN 9:30:28
With Ironman, "Anything is Possible" and everyone has a story. In addition to Wellington, two inspiring athletes included:
- Kyle Garlett, a 4-time cancer survivor who missed the swim cutoff by seconds. Race day marked the third anniversary of his heart transplant.
- Rudy Garcia-Tolson, the amazing double above-knee amputee, finished the swim in 1:14 and nearly made the bike cutoff. This 21-year-old athlete has no quads or hamstrings, for him riding a bike is like cycling on stilts!
For more inspiration catch the Emmy Award-winning Ford Ironman World Championship broadcast Dec. 19, 2009, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. EST.

More articles:

My 1st Place Husband: Race Report

Ken and I began the spring outdoor season with a challenging, bitter cold & wet ride up in Minnesota in April. Read the full story "Wet, Windy & COLD - the MN Ironman Bike Ride."

Last weekend, it appeared we'd finish our outdoor season with another WET and freezing event participating in our village's triathlon. And while it was chilly, the rain held, only misting us briefly. The cooler temps worked for both of us. Ken ran his fastest sprint triathlon at 1:16:40 (top overall male finisher). I ran my best sprint too finishing in 1:37:37 (3rd AG).
Also racing were several Village Bootcampers: Jennie, Nancy & Jessie! Well done ladies! It was also fun seeing Stephanie & Melissa along the run course! Thanks for your encouragement!

We tried new things:
- Ken biked and ran sockless. Biking was fine, the run was OK for a sprint, but not longer.
- I wore one of my SkirtSports bike skirts. Over the last year I've purchased several types. I loved racing in it, the underskirt grippers stayed put. It was cute, comfortable and feminine.
- Post race I tried my first sample of POM Wonderful 100% juice. I learned there are dozens of different pomegranate varieties and their juices are not all the same, similar to grape juices. I love the name, logo & bottle design.

Photos by my sister. L- me. LC- Ken. RC- me. R- Me, Ken & my brother-in-law Doug.

The Triathlon is intentionally kept small: no bike racks, no timing chips, no signage.
- Athletes pick a bike spot along the service path, lean it against a fence or on the ground.
- Stopwatches are set as each wave begins the swim. Race director Katie Heisier encourages athletes to also time themselves.
- Sharks swim team parents and athletes stand along the bike and run course helping athletes know when and where to turn. And local police/highway patrol helped man major intersections.

The event awarded overall male, female and relay. And gave medals to first place in each category. They also held a raffle with at least 50 prizes (fitness classes, baseball hats, goggles, and certificates to local vendors). Both my husband and my brother-in-law won raffle prizes (Spartan hat and free yoga/pilates class).

Ken volunteered Friday afternoon at the youth triathlon. It was a bitter day for kids under 12. Fortunately the rain held until the last finisher came in. Youth triathlons are the best!

Photos by me. Bikes at the Youth Triathlon. I love the helmet in the basket.

Questions for you:
In what weather conditions have you PRd?
- What size event (running, tri, other) do you prefer?
- What triathlon event do you see growing quickest: youth, women's, sprint general.

Happy 13th!

Happy 13th anniversary Hubby!