This weekend I’ll welcome my ninth (ninth!) triathlon season. Whether or not 2016’s first tri will start with a fizzle or fireworks, I’m excited: I’ve been training consistently for three months, I hired a new coach last week (a ‘just because’ gift to myself), and it seems like every triathlete I’ve met so far in Vancouver will be lining up for body marking on the shores of Elk Lake on Sunday morning—along with some friends from south of the border.

Just a quick ferry ride away, Victoria really is “the new Oceanside” for this recent transplant. It will be my first half-Ironman in my homeland, too, which I think makes it kinda special. (Untapped maple syrup packets for the run to celebrate?)

Regardless of whether I’m overtrained, undertrained, or like Goldilocks’ bowl of “just right,” I’m hungry for that finish line. And besides the usual butterflies (how romantic, I still get them after all these years), here are a few more telltale signs that the first race of the season is nigh:

… because when I finally find my aero helmet under a pile of winter cast-offs with my last race sticker still plastered to the front, I get a strange wave of almost tender nostalgia (like “aww, Copenhagen! How cute!”)

… because my TYR duffle bag has sat open on my floor all week, a receptacle for goggles and gels and socks—the kind of week-long pseudo-prep that only morphs into the real thing the day before departure.


… because when I open my phone, my race checklist pops up before Instagram—er, I mean my work email.

… because I find myself digging through my Tickle Trunk-esque sports nutrition bin and wondering what wacky cocktail I’ll put together this time, while feeling like a bad triathlete for not having my bulletproof, go-to nutrition plan DIALED IN. (Already feeling grateful to my new coach Britni for giving it the seal of approval.)

… because I’ve spent far too much time this week poking around in Training Peaks looking at power numbers, past half-iron nutrition plans, post-race notes, and my recent training volume (and feeling like a bad triathlete for not knowing what watts/heart rate I ALWAYS RACE HALVES AT, DUH.)

Pre-race chilling with work (and Lena Dunham) at Shutterbox Coffee in Victoria.

Pre-race chilling with a hemp milk iced latte, work, and Ms. Dunham at Shutterbox Coffee in Victoria.

… because that good old chronic glute thingy has flared up again, as if to say “I refuse to be your bitch any longer.” (I told it who was boss by taking it for a good pummeling by a—new and wonderful—massage therapist.)

… because I’m suddenly wondering if I’ve been eating right, drinking too much, and running fast or slow or often enough, while wishing I was 5 pounds lighter and then feeling oh so cliché for even thinking about that. (In other words, because … obsession?)

… because suddenly there it is again—that messy tangle of goals, excuses, and just plain caring.

Yep—must be triathlon season again.