Trail and Error

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It’s been a while since I’ve written here.  I’ve written but through the FB page but this achievement deserved to be told at home.  In honor of a part of my childhood, this will be told in a non-traditional fashion.


The Evolution of E:  I’m a girly girl, a prude at times (who am I kidding, I still kinda, sorta am) but since I’ve become a Triathlete, I find myself doing things that I would have turned my nose up and so judged you for.  Now, I will change ALL my clothes in the car.  When you are wet, sweaty, gritty, dirty and just ugh, you want to put on some dry clothes/underwear.  It’s like taking a dry shower.  Hey, they have dry shampoo.    I felt like KastOut – the Bizzaro Outkast:  not so fresh and semi clean.


I go get my post-race glazed donut (for later) and head to get something to eat.  This is the best part.  Now, I’m a persnickety, picky eater.  After a race, it’s hard for me to eat.  One or two bites and then I’m full but an hour later, my belly is growling like rabid dog.  We had to eat at the bar due to the small space and limited seating.  A woman came and sat on the opposite side, she ordered the club sandwich.  Now, traditionally, a club sandwich is a 3-layer sandwich with the bread lightly toasted, cut in quarters.  Her food arrives and she proceeds to take each quarter apart.  I thought she was removing the middle layer of bread.  Nope.  When the waiter inquired, she stated “I didn’t know it came toasted.”  They offered to remake it, she declined saying it would be wasteful.  There she sat, removing every piece of bread from each quarter.  A waitress asked again to have it remade, she declined.  The offered to bring her untoasted bread.  The bread arrived and she asked for a side of mayo and proceeded to make a sammich.  You know, a sammich like you make in your kitchen.  I could not stop laughing but you know G-d don’t like ugly because I caught a cramp in my left hamstring.  It put its hand over a hot flame and grabbed the muscle and held on tight.  I discreetly slid off the stool and attempted to massage the cramp out.  Can’t straighten it, can’t bend it, can’t move it.  I have to get out of here before I cause a scene.  I broke leg bird hop out of the restaurant and wobble, shake, jump, skip and hop down the streets of Richmond in an attempt to keep the cramp from spreading.  At the cross street machine it decides to give me a reprieve.  I was mad, I made sure to hydrate.  I’d been peeing like American Pharoah, getting in my electrolytes, salt and magnesium.  Plus taking the HotShot, there was no way I should have cramped.

This race was tough because it was my 2nd Duathlon and my 1st Trail run.  My performance was below sub-par but in my defense, I’m a Trail Virgin, so the fact that I finished, upright and uninjured deserves a high five.  I’m used to working hard.  The fog, roads and trails made me work extra hard.  I wasn’t prepared.  I need to analyze my training and add in a trail or two if I’m going to continue.


There are times I want to say FTS and go back to riding my bike with a basket and bell but then the realization that I’m capable of so much more keeps me coming back.  I want to retire, I placed 3rd in my AG and that’s like winning Olympic Gold.  What else is there?  Lots more.  I’ve only scratched the surface, not sure if the scratch is poisonous, I’ll find out in the AM or tonight if I wake up itching but the fact remains, I finished my first trail run. No experience, blind as Stevie Wonder and I got it done.  It was not pretty, my gloss was low and I felt like a loser.  Not only that, I do believe I was the only BBOT, I didn’t see any others, so finishing DAL didn’t help the cause.  But you know what, somebody has to finish last, so why not me.  I finished strong.  I finished upright, injury free.  I. Finished.



1 – re-evaluate and up my run game

2 – go for a trail run

3 – never doubt yourself, there are enough people doing that

4 – G-d is always with me, even in the fog

5 – I really am a #RealAthleticWoman,  #SizeMattersNow


It’s a good thing my sunglasses are kinda big because I had a TV cry moment when I crossed the finish line and while talking with a friend.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bummed about my performance but as the shirt says, “I’m more than a pretty face.  I came here to win” and WIN I did.  EVERY time I cross the finish line, I win.  At home, watching the Olympic trials, it sunk in and hit me.  I actually finished my first trail run.


The Run:  So, as in all Triathlons, the run is the do or die event.  You’ve already done 2, so what’s one more.  Well, when it’s on a trail AND it’s your first, well, that one more can be your undoing.  All that was missing was a basket and a red cape.  I surely felt like Little Red Riding Hood going over the river and through the woods, literally.  There was a 1 mile run through a neighborhood and I was actually glad to see asphalt.  My left-knee was still whining after a stumble on a few roots.  There’s nowhere to go and so when you stumble you either have to catch yourself or go down in the DM (dirty mess) and you KNOW, I was not going down.  So I did the drunk walk lean to gather myself.  At the turnaround in the neighborhood, there appeared a G-d sent human.  There was a woman, Debraunda I believe she said her name was, standing on the sidewalk cheering when she comes out in the street and says I’m going to run back with you for a bit.  When I TELL you she gave me LIFE.  I wanted to drop down in the street and cry.  I was so grateful.  We ran, we chatted, we laughed.  She was the energy I needed and G-d gave me exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it.  We joked about Moses, who walked everywhere and how I needed to borrow his sandals.  Once I got back on my way to Grandma’s, we hugged and she left.  G-d bless her.  There is human compassion in the world after all.  The last mile was so interesting.  I went from Red Riding Hood to Paul Bunyan because you have to be a lumberjack to do the lumberjack logroll.  The was a path of sticks laid out on the trail like a log road/stick bridge.  And just HOW am I supposed to get over that?  The grass was so high, I knew there had to be a lioness lurking, waiting to prance.  I did my best Misty Copeland to get across those sticks and keep it moving.  I got scratched by some branches and thought about every itchy, scratchy, poisonous leaf ever created.  I rounded the corner and saw the finish line.  I didn’t and don’t sprint.  I kept my stride and the crowd support was amazing.  Grateful for the big sunglasses.  I finished DAL but I finished.  Lot of things to rethink but then again, I did go against Triathlon rule 101 – never try anything new on race day, i.e., Trail running.


The Bike:  This was an 18.8 mile ride in the Swiss Alps.  It was so foggy, it was something straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.  Any moment I was expecting a crow to swoop down and caw and peck on my head.  This ride was scary for me because I couldn’t see too far in front of me.  I didn’t have my blinky light so how would cars see me.  Black girl, black bike, yeah, you do the math.  The fog didn’t let up until around miles 8-10.  No crows but plenty of pot holes and street crumbles.  The roads were like those fancy crumble donuts Krispy Kreme offers once in a while.  Between the crumbles and the fog, I was riding like a kid.  I was frustrated.  I’d ridden a hybrid on longer, hillier and crappier roads.  I have a better bike, stronger legs, WTH EJ.  Right let started to cramp so I took a HotShot and hot it was.  That shit was like drinking hot sauce, black pepper, and habanero and jalapeno juice with a shot of whatever liquor you have on the bar.  Kevin Petty didn’t warn me about the taste.  On my way back, down the winding country road, I go got buzzed by a silver Mazda.  I wish I had a brick because I’d have blown a lung to catch them and bust their head to the white meat.  Just uncalled for but Jesus loves me and kept me safe.  The driver is lucky Jesus loves them too and told me, I’ll take care of it.  Made it back and let me say this.  I love spectators but if I’m coming down to the dismount and you’re crossing the path and the volunteers are telling you “Biker coming” and you still stroll across.  If you cause me to crash, I promise you, there is going to be a misunderstanding and you will need medical attention if you make me crash my bike.  #movebitchgetouttheway


The Run/Swim:  Ok, so, I arrive early to get my transition set up and settle my nerves.  Get my bike racked, chip, bib and I’m all set.  I set people still have their shoes on but think, ok, there is a bucket so they are going to put them there.  I’m sitting on a banister, waiting for my assistant and a man walks by and says “You’re going to run in flip flops?” It’s race day so I’m in my own world and give him the RBF.  I’m walking around and I see my friend Jen.  We’re chatting and she says something about my flip flops.  Turns out the swim was cancelled and it’s now a Duathlon.  I do my best Sonya Richardson Ross impression back to transition and trade my flops for shoes and socks.  Now, the would be swim, let’s talk about that.  The river was high, I mean HIGH, HIGH, HIGH.  So high, I think they sent a distress signal to Noah.  In addition, the current was moving so fast and there was so much debris in the river, it looked like something off of National Geographic.  The fog didn’t make it any better.  It was so thick, you couldn’t see across the river.  It was Olympics on Ice fog show thick.  I was actually thinking of skipping the swim because I couldn’t see but again, I need to visit my neighbors every once in a while to hear the latest news and gossip.  So, this initial run.  Yeah, have I mentioned I don’t like running.  Nope.  And it’s a trail run.  What?  I thought it was part trail.  Nope, 95% trail.  Who said this was a Great beginner Tri, even though I’m not a beginner.  LIES.  I survived the swim/run but starting off running throws off my game.  Yes, I can adjust but virgin trail running isn’t the best way to adjust.





and just think, if I trained

Greetings sports fans.  Your favorite RAW athlete starred in the Elympics yesterday and set some major records.

Let me preface this by saying, I’ve gained weight and as a result, I’m a bit slower add that to the fact that I don’t really train/workout like I’m supposed to but that’s neither here nor there #sizemattersnot

The Smithfield Triathlon, part of the VTSMTS series was my first tri of the 2015 season and man, did I show up and OUT!  Since November, I’ve been focusing on the swim.  I know how to ride a bike and I know how to run.  I know how to swim but not as well as I need to or would like to so I set about work on my weakness.  I started my own swim club with the help of USMS and City of Norfolk Southside Aquatic Center and swim 3 days a week.  I took private lessons at ODU to build on what I was doing for myself which brings us to yesterday.

It was a beautiful picturesque day in Smithfield, VA and I was cool, calm, collected and cute.  The swim was a short pool swim, 300 meters but that’s a lot when you aren’t confident in your swim skills.  Not today, I had a plan and my plan worked.  If you’ve never done a pool sprint, it’s like the HRBT traffic at rush hour.  Lanes clogged with people trying to pass people who don’t want to be passed but I didn’t care, I had a plan and life and everything in the pool went according to it, that is until Drafting Dora decides to weigh me down.  Initially I was pissed, but then I realized, she thought I was that good, even mentioning to me “girl you are fast!”   I swam the swim leg, all of it.  No walking, to aqua jogging, no lane line climbing, none of that.  I swam.  Got out and had to kiss myself I felt so good.

After that, I didn’t give 2 shakes of each thigh about the rest of the race.  I got passed on the bike by my fellow swim buddy – didn’t even care.  I met my goal – swim the swim leg.  Turns out, I did more than that.  When all was said and done, I turned in a sub 2 finish.  My run was great, did better than I thought or was intending to do but again, all that is just roses on an iced cake.  I conquered the swim.  All total I did 13.29 miles in 1:58 and I didn’t even primp in transition but let’s not get crazy, just before the finish, I had to gloss my lips and wipe the sweat from my brow.  Race finish photos are EVERYTHING. I had PRs all over the place. Elympic GOLD or in this case, pink!!

I cannot tell you how happy I am with myself.  I worked on my weakness and it paid off big.  We all know I’m a slacker, if I actually trained like I did before, I mean, in all 3 disciplines, maaannnn the world couldn’t stand me.  Really, I’d be that person,  nah I’m kidding.  I’d be me, just better.  I still have my ultimate goal of doing a 70.3 and that requires OWS training so that’s next on the list but for now, I give all praise and glory to G-d for giving me enough focus to stick with this swim regimen, the physical strength to get it done and mental strength to go when I didn’t want to and re-start when I gave up.  I am FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY Made and yesterday I lived up to it.  Hello, my name is E.J. Powell and I am RAW.  This lil piggie went wee, wee, wee all the way to the finish line!
What ails ya?

#SkirtSports #Ambassador #FusionSports #Ambassador #RealAthelticWoman #RealAthletics #Athena #SizemattersNOT