Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blogless in Northern Cali

There's been stuff going on.....work, spectathlete-ing at Kona, training for a half marathon, hiking some dogs through the beautiful fall hills.

Follow the leader (Bam and guest, Boomer)
You sniff,  I sniff.

But I haven't really felt like writing lately.  So maybe some if it will make an appearance at a later date.

I do have a 10k coming up this weekend, which feels so insignificant after watching seriously amazing IM athletes all day on October 9th.  But maybe racing again, even if it's just a 10k will inspire me to write.

Then again.

Maybe not.

We'll see.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Planning and training

As the tri season has come to a close, and I have only a lowly little 10k and a half marathon on my schedule for the rest of the year, my thoughts have turned to goals for next year.

I know, I know........I should probably just enjoy my last couple of events, and then *really* enjoy a couple of weeks of down time before I start jumping into next year's goals.  It would seem though that I'm just not wired that way.  Maybe it's partly due to heading out to Kona to perform the role of Spectathlete Extraordinaire in a couple of weeks, but my thoughts have been turning towards Ironman.

I have thought, to myself as well as out loud, that I'd someday like to do another IM.  The difficult part is deciding when someday has arrived and secondarily, where that IM should take place.  Further complicating the decision is that if I want to do one of the 'branded' IM races, I'd need to sign up a year in advance.  Truth be known, I'd really like a rematch with Kona.  But I am realistic enough to know that I am never going to qualify for a slot to Kona, and so would need some extraordinary luck to be drawn in the lottery again. So the "where" and "when" are questions still to be answered.

The more important word that follows closely on the heels of any IM thoughts is "if".  Or maybe more appropriately, "want".  If I could commit to training for another IM.  Do I want to?  To be sure the time commitment is substantial, but that's not the bigger issue for me.  When I was training for Vineman last year, I had a great training partner right along with me.  There was someone to bitch to, commiserate and celebrate with.  As will happen, things shifted in schedules, work commitments, life in general, and this year I trained almost exclusively on my own. 

In some ways, training alone is easier.  You're always racing alone, so training alone prepares you for the day ahead.  In working with a coach, I'm almost never just going out to run or bike without some specific goals.  I have specific workouts on specific days, all set up with the big picture in mind.  I am looking to hit certain paces or HR (for running), or certain wattage or sometimes HR (for cycling).  Swimming I'm mostly just looking not to drown.  Okay, okay, there are specific intervals to hit occasionally even in the pool.  The point is that there are goals to be met.  Which doesn't always align with another person's goals.  Now not everyone I know works with a coach, but even the athletes I know that don't, still have jobs, families etc.  Meshing schedules alone is enough of a challenge.  Add in trying to mesh goals, race schedules, and everything else and it really does become much simpler to train on my own.

The problem is in learning to be comfortable with that.  Or perhaps the bigger problem is learning to be UNcomfortable.  Pushing myself to get in the hard workouts, the hard paces, on my own.  I think I handled things fairly well this year.  I pushed myself in training and in racing.  Not as much as I'd have liked, but I'm still learning.  But.....towards the end of the year....and my longest event, the HIM......I was getting discouraged.  Losing focus.  Becoming unmotivated.  Not as much on runs, where I feel okay with music in my ears.  But I found it's not easy to go for 3, 3-1/2, 4 hour rides alone.  It's a long time to be alone with just your own thoughts to keep you company.  Well, your own thoughts, and at times the cars rushing by at arms length.

So as thoughts turn to training for an IM, thoughts naturally turn to the 7, 7-1/2, 8 hour rides that are necessary for that kind of training.  Could I, do I want to, ride for that long on my own.  I just don't know.  Last year, even with my trusty training partner along for the rides, I would find myself in some pretty dark places on those long rides.  Alone....on my bike....for 8 hours, could I find it within myself to tackle that?  Could I suppress the urge to chuck my bike off the side of the road?  Because I certainly wanted to do that at some point this year training for the HIM, let alone last year while training for the full IM.

For now, I *think* I'm pretty much set on a plan for next year that will be very similar to this year.  Shorter races throughout the year working on my version of 'speed'.  Maybe a half iron towards the end of the season.  Maybe the same half iron so that I can compare.  Maybe something entirely new.  Hard to say.  Luckily....I don't need to decide right now.  Good thing, cuz it's time to run.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Race reviews....or not

No, this isn't my race report from last weekend's half iron race.  And to be honest, I'm not sure that will be in the coming attractions.  It wasn't a great race, nor a crappy one.  It was a good solid effort, with some learning experiences, and I ended up with a 33 minute PR, altho it was a bit slower than I would have liked.  Heh....I can't imagine the day when I'll say something like "I'm completely happy with how that race went."  

A couple of quick points about the HIM

  • the swim was....a swim.  Yes they could've used a few more buoys, but the water was warm and saltless, there was next to no chop, and the only fish I saw were bluegills....which I can't imagine bite very hard at all.
  • the bike course had some pretty crappy surface, but I expected that from having ridden the course a couple of times in training.
  • the run course was on fire roads and single track...again, expected.
  • it was hot,  and yes, that too was expected.
Would I do it again?  If they resurfaced the roads it would be a definite yes.  As it stands, I'd most likely do it again.  I really liked how small the race was, only 168 finishers.  Transition had plenty of space.  The volunteers were amazing.  For me, the things I liked about this race probably outweigh the things I didn't like.  

About race reviews....I had a whole write up in my head, a rant mostly, about race reviews and the things people complain about in them.  I mean...this *is* my blog, right?  I can rant about what ever I want.  But I realized I'm entitled to my opinion and so are those other people.  So, I'm censoring myself with the ranting.  Yes, I know....a sign of maturity or something.....who'd have thought.

Next week we start a more 'run focused' training in prep for the Big Sur half marathon in November.   And I now see a long run on  my schedule for the weekend we're on the big island.  I hope I don't have traumatic flashbacks.  Then again, I should be fine as long as I'm not running in the dark.

Friday, September 10, 2010


Posted on FB from the race director for tomorrow's tri:

Nothing enhances performance as much as self-belief, and nothing limits performance as much as self doubt.

And that's all I've got to say today.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010


We're not quite to "go" just yet.

Saturday will be my last tri of the season.  For my last big event of the year, I've been surprisingly blase about it.  I think I've finally realized what the issue is though.  I've had a good year of racing and I've set some very ambitious goals for myself for this race.  Most likely unattainable goals, but I could surprise even myself.  And I think the biggest problem is that I'm already trying to analyze how I'll feel *after* the race if I don't hit those goals.  I'm thinking way too far ahead.  I need to bring things back to the present.  One day.....and then one mile at a time.  No need to jump to the finish line of a race I haven't even started yet.  My body is as ready as it's going to be and I really just needed to get my head aligned.  I think I'm finally ready to go. 

And after much whining (on my part) and some negotiating with both Jeff's and my workplaces, we will be heading to Kona in October!  After participating in the IM last year, I thought it would be great fun to go back and volunteer for the race this year.  On again, off again, on again plans....but we are going!  I'm so looking forward to hanging out in Kona, swimming in the bay, cheering for all the amazing athletes.  We'll be 'catching' finishers from 8pm to midnight and it should be a blast.  Maybe I'll even get to have a picture taken with Chrissie since I was too out of it last year when I finished to have Jeff take one.  And maybe I'll go for a run in my underpants.  Or maybe not.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Lackadaisical:  Lacking enthusiasm and determination.

Yes, I do believe I have been feeling lackadaisical for a couple of weeks now.

  • Could it be turning the big 4-0?  Don't think so.  I don't feel 40.  I'm told I don't look 40 (but then, really, who tells you that you *do* look your age?).  It's just another number.  I know I certainly don't *act* 40.
  • Could it be the rocky sleep lately?  Possibly.  Bam has been restless, and itchy...literally itchy.  And since I'm such a light sleeper, I wake up when she scratches, bites, licks, etc.  Oh, and when she goes out the dog door.  And comes back in the dog door.  And back out.  And back in. And back out....
  • Could it be the work stress?  Maybe.  There's just a lot of upheaval at work, nothing new really.  Just more of the same.  A lot more.  With very slight variations.  And while I've been assured by my boss, and her boss, of my value as a member of the team, sometimes things just look different than they sound.  If that makes any sense.
  • Could it be that we usually have a vacation on the books to look forward to by now?  And that we'd usually be *on* vacation in the next month or two?  Likely.  There's just something about having a trip booked.  The excitement of something different.  Some time away.  This year, it's not going to happen until spring most likely.  Jeff's has some projects going on at work that will keep us from taking time off this fall.
  • Could it be the fantastically crappy long ride workouts I've had lately?  Likely.  My big "A" race is in less than two weeks.  I have set a very ambitious goal for myself.  A couple of them really.  Okay, maybe three.  *sigh*  Perhaps I'm putting just a bit too much pressure on myself.  This isn't my job after all.  It's supposed to be fun....remember?   Part of it is that I feel like I've worked pretty hard this year at getting stronger and I'd like for that to show in my time on race day.  But I feel like I've been stuck in a loop....crappy workout leads to negative thoughts....leads to crappy workout....etc.  I need to break my head out of the cycle.  But all my 'big' workouts are done.  Race day is in 11 days.  Yikes.
Anyway...I have some more ideas, thoughts, ponderings about this lackadaisical-ness.  But I've bitched and moaned enough.  It's time to let it go.  What's done...is done.  The bad, but the good too. 

I've had some long run sessions lately that have gone very well.  One of them, had I run another half of a mile, would have been a half marathon PR.   My races this year have gone pretty well too with quite a few PRs.  There's a lot to be proud of.  A lot of work that I can cash in on in 11 days.

Time to work on seeing the race I want to have.  Let the mind lead the body.  And really......just get out there and play!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th is a great day

Today is my grandparents 60th anniversary.  60!!  years!!

This year was Jeff's and my 15th, so they've been married 4 times as long as we have.  Yeah, yeah, I know, they're a little older, and a lot wiser, than we are.  I'm just saying...it's a long time! 

They live in a 100+ year old farm house in Illinois. My grandpa has been a farmer his whole life.  He's still farming at 84, although slowing down a bit now.  At 84, I think he's entitled to.  When I was little and loved Winnie the Pooh, he would call me Christopher Robin.  He can make his ears wiggle, which as a kid would send me into fits of giggles.  He reads a lot (guess that really does run in the family), is quiet (until Jeff and he get to talking), and is a lot stronger than your average 84 year old. 

My grandma is the heart and hub of our family.  She's the one that keeps in touch with us all, even if we don't always keep in contact with each other.  She sends surprise packages in the mail when she finds something that she knows one of us will like.  For my 16th birthday, she took me to get my first pair of contact lenses.  She's always been the "coolest" grandma, driving a bright red mustang convertible for many, many years, until my uncle bought her a Solara convertible....but of course, still bright red.  She has always been there for us, offering anything she can to help when we needed it. 

They've helped me, and a lot of my family, through some tough times.  And of course, they've had some very tough times themselves, and I hope that we've been able to help them through those times at least a tiny bit.  Believe me, I know how lucky I am to have them.  And to still have them both.  I hope that my luck will hold for many, many more years.

For their 40th anniversary....hard to believe that was 20 years ago....a big group of us took a trip to Hawaii to celebrate.  For their 50th....back to Hawaii.    For my Grandpa's 80th birthday it was Aruba.  So, Gram and Gramps, when does the trip begin?!?!   All my love to you both and Happy 60th Anniversary!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Tri for Real

The main reason I signed up for this race was to get a preview of the course for the half iron I'm doing next month.  But having just missed my time goal at my last olympic tri, I really wanted to hit that goal this time around.

After deciding not to find a hotel close to the race site and instead drive out the morning of, the alarm went off at what should have been the shockingly early time of 3:50 am.  But which wasn't actually a huge deal since I had been woken up by Bam at 3:45 am.  Yes, she is just *that*  helpful of a pooch.  I had most of my stuff packed up, so that all we needed to do was put the bike rack on and load up the truck.  Jeff was going, along with a friend of his from work, to play golf while I was out there putting in some miles.  Got all loaded up and we hit the road....about 15 minutes later than I wanted, but the GPS said we'd still arrive pretty close to 6:30, which was when transition opened.  And that's even after I made a quick stop at Mickey D's so the guys could grab some fast food breakfast.  I had my almond butter and honey toast which I ate on the way.  Breakfast of choice on race day.

 The guys dropped me off and I headed over to check in/transition.  A few things struck me right away.
  •  Very low key.  This is a small (just over 200 entries, I think) local race.  And it's paired with a kids tri, which was just awesome.  Those little kids were rockin' it.  A little scary was the kid with the aero wheels on his bike. Super serious.
  • Transition was *huge* for the number of athletes.  There was probably 4 feet between me and the guy who set up next to me.  And no, someone didn't squeeze in between us.  No need. Space aplenty.
  • I received my race numbers at check in, but no timing chip.  Ummmm.  Yep, this was the first tri I've ever done that didn't use a timing chip.  I was pretty interested to see how this was going to work.
 I got all set up in transition, running through the race in my head to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything.  Got body marked, and then suited up.  I wandered down to the water just before the first wave was scheduled to go off.  I checked out the course and then got in the water for my warm up.  And the water was just about perfect.  Not so cold that I felt shivery in my sleeveless wetsuit and not warm enough that I thought I'd overheat on the swim. Soon enough my wave was lining up at the start.....all, maybe 30 of us.  10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-Go and we were off.   There was a bit of a chop on the lake which I wasn't really used to, but nothing too bad.  It did make me think that there might be a bit more wind on the bike than I expected.  There was one swimmer who I was keeping pretty close to, drafting when I could, but I was zig zagging a bit more than usual today and her bubbles weren't always where I expected them to be.  She would get a ways ahead and then I'd find her feet again, especially on the turns, which she seemed to take slowly.   While the buoys looked far away from shore, it always surprises me how quickly the swim passes and soon enough we were approaching the final buoy and the exit.  That same girl's feet were still in sight and I thought I really should try to pass her.  She didn't seem to be making a surge for the finish, so I went for it and pulled ahead with just a 100 or so yards to go.  Hey, I have to take small victories where I can.

Into T1, yank off the wet suit, stuff my sunglasses and helmet on my head and take off.  My shoes were attached to my bike, and I'd put them on while on the move.  In and out in no time.

Off on the bike, which to be honest, had more rolling hills than I remembered.  And since I was mostly cruising along close to the 20 mph range, a *lot* more tailwind than I had hoped for.  Not that I don't love a good tailwind.  It's the head wind I have a problem with.  The one that smacked me in the face just after the turnaround.  The turnaround where I followed a couple of folks pretty closely thru the u-turn and the police officer yelled out to me "Don't let them get away!  Go get those guys!"  That gave me a good laugh.  About the only laugh on the way back.  The headwind and rollers started wearing on my legs and my attitude.  The last straw with the attitude was when a woman passed me (no not that), immediately followed by another woman.  Okay, not a big deal, she's probably trying to pass that first woman.  Um, yeah.  No.  She was drafting. As she continued to draft for a bit, I yelled out "How long are you going to draft off her?!?!?"  But she didn't respond.  Now, I know a lot of first time triathletes do this race, but she was wearing an aero helmet, which leads me to believe this isn't her first time around the block.  I let myself steam about it for a few minutes but was able to talk myself out of wasting the energy any longer than that. The other issue of concern on the bike was my front tire.  It had this weird sort of bulge happening.  I had asked the guys at the shop about it and they convinced me it wasn't a big deal, and while I was still a little freaked out about it, I made it through the entire bike without mechanical incident.  Always a win in my book.  Back into the park and out of the wind (finally!) for the last stretch of riding.  Out of my shoes and into T2.

Throw the bicycle up onto the rack, swap helmet for hat, stuff on my socks and run shoes, grab my race belt and gel and head out.

I had read a couple of reviews about the run course, and mapped it out on mapmyrun.com so I thought I had some idea of what was ahead.  But the course ended up being a bit hillier than I expected.  Mapmyrun had the total elevation change at under 50 feet.  Flat.  But the actual route has about 400 feet.  Not a huge amount, but enough to feel those last couple of rollers in the legs for sure.  There is next to no shade, and even at the early hour it was a bit toasty out there.  There are also a couple of miles that are run on single track (or is it double track if it's wide enough for 2 people?!?!).  I love running on single track.  But as a bit of a klutz, the uneven terrain does require me to pay attention and place my feet rather than just running along.  At a couple of points along the course I started getting a little lightheaded and a little chilly. Dehydration.  So even though I had been practicing drinking only water on my long runs, I added in some sports drink at the last two aid stations.  It seemed to help a bit, but in the last two miles, my legs were *done*, and my pace slowed.  I was so glad to see the finish line. 

And even better was that I beat my time goal by just a hair under five minutes, which also gave me over a six minute PR for an olympic distance race. Sweet.

After I downed a few glasses of water and electrolyte I went and floated around in the lake for a bit.  It felt so good on my tired legs. I could feel my right hamstring wanting to act up so I made sure to do a fair amount of stretching too before the guys made it back to pick me up.

Oh!  Timing!  So here's how it seemed to work.  There was a number (like a tiny bib number) that I had to safety pin to my wetsuit pull string.  As I exited the water, a volunteer grabbed the number.  So that's the swim timing.  There were also volunteers at each entrance/exit in transition that would yell out bib numbers to another volunteer who would record them.  Then the run, of course, was timed from exit of T2 to the finish. 

A few lessons learned from this race:
  • I need to either make sure to bring my aero drink bottle on the bike, or learn to drink from my bottles in the cages *while* aero.  I didn't want to get up out of my aero bars in the headwind on the way back and so came in off the bike under hydrated.
  • The aid stations on the run may be a bit far apart for me to be able to rely solely on them during the half iron.  Then again, maybe if I come in off the bike better hydrated it will work.  My last long run was fueled on 'schedule' with the posted aid stations for the half iron and seemed to work out ok.
  • If something seems "off" about your bike....get it checked or change it prior to the race.  That tire was on my mind more than I needed it to be on the bike.  And guess what...in a case of honestly *awesome* timing, it was flat when I rolled it back to the car after the race.  I'll take the tire in and have it checked, but will most likely just replace it before the half iron.
  • Don't stress over the stuff you can't control.  Yes, I let myself get worked up briefly over the cheater, but I actually kept it together pretty well battling the wind.  I just need to remember this for the half iron, when the last long section (15-ish miles maybe?) will be on that same road back towards the park and into the wind.
  • "Hand" tallied race results take *forever*. I made the guys wait around until I could get my official finishing time but I almost gave up. 
Overall it was a good race.  And with just one more tri this year, I'd venture to say it's been quite a good season of racing!

Coming up this week.....a swim clinic on Friday!  Based on this quote from the registration: "Are you tired of working so hard to swim so slow?  How would you like to swim FASTER with less effort?  This clinic is just what you need!" I'm expecting big things!


Thursday, August 05, 2010

Free stuff

Just wanted to let you know, there's a great give away for a Garmin 310xt going on now thru 12Aug.

Yep, a 310xt!  Nice!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Big week

Today finished out my 2nd biggest week of training prior to the 1/2 IM in September.  Whew.

Yesterday I drove out to the site of the race to check out the bike course.  Jeff was worried about me heading out there by myself, so he decided to tag along.....no, not to bike with me, although I tried to get him to ride along.  First he was going to fish in the lake while I made the rounds.  He ran out of time to pull his gear together, so as an alternative I found a golf course he could play that was right on the bike course.  It meant I'd be starting at about mile 46 of the 56 mile course, but no problem.  It's the same loop.  I ended up with about 53 miles, so the only part I missed was the section out of and back into the park.   On the drive back home, we went into the park to take a look around.

Nuclear power plant (decommissioned) that the lake was created for.

View for the majority of the ride.  Scorched earth.  Guess the 95 degree temp at the end of my ride shouldn't have been a surprise, eh?

View of the lake from the road around the park.

Traditional post long ride reward.

The quick and dirty of the ride:
  • *narrow* roads....while this hopefully won't be a problem on race day, the 6" of shoulder left me feeling a little vulnerable out there.  Luckily there wasn't *too* much traffic and the parts where there was more traffic had a nice wide shoulder.
  • *crappy* roads....the nicely paved sections were few and far between, but don't get me wrong my arse was more than happy for those sections.  Vast portions of the ride were just terribly bumpy, or rocky with gravel, or both.  
  • both the above had me riding in my aero bars a lot less than I would have liked.  
  • hills....while I seem to remember this course being billed as mostly flat, there were quite a few hills on the ride.  Almost entirely towards the end.  But at least now I know a bit about what to expect come race day. (mile 10-ish below is the actual 'start' point for the half iron race)

  • wind....the first and last sections of the ride are on a road that heads into the wind.  One of the highlights of the park is supposed to be wind surfing, so again...shouldn't be a surprise.  Hopefully the wind won't really kick up until later in the day.
  • heat....it wasn't too terrible on the bike, but I really noticed it on the uphills, when my speed dropped off and I was working harder.  The run is definitely going to be a challenge.
I head back out there this weekend for an olympic distance race.  The bike course is an out and back on the flatter section of the half iron route.  The run is the same course, one loop instead of the two that I'll be doing next month.  So, a small preview of what I can expect for the half iron.  Only two tris left in the year!  Definitely time to go for broke. :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Brain dump

A collection of completely unrelated thoughts

  • I drive by a chocolate factory on my way into work.  The delicious smell is bad enough most days, but pure torture when I've been to swim before work and am starving.
  • Speaking of starving...I've been trying to clean up my diet in order to get to 'racing weight' before the half iron in September.  But with the increase in training comes an increase in hunger and I haven't been very successful.  I mostly want to eat whatever I can see.
  • The entire month of July has been unseasonably cool here.  One of the news stations said it's been the coolest July on record.  Fabulous for doing workouts, but not so great for getting ready to race in the heat.
  • This week the personal trainer had us workout on a gravity system .  A whole new method of torture. Ouch.
  • My hip seems to be mostly healed up (knock on wood) with just some residual tightness in the hamstring.  No pain after long runs, up to 9 miles so far, so that's a good thing.
  • I'm considering an investment in race wheels.  Okay, not so much an investment as a 'just for fun because I want them' kind of purchase.  Stimulating the economy and all.  They'll be my birthday present this year for the "big" day.
  • I've been craving diet Pepsi lately.  Not so many years ago I was a "one a day" drinker.  I've virtually eliminated it now, but as my friend Jolynn tells me: "Your addiction was just in remission."  Hmm, seems sad but true.  So far I've only caved once.  I think my body is needing the caffeine right now.  Okay, maybe not needing, but wanting.  Need....want....same thing, no?
  • Jeff and I are starting to feel the need (again, need/want) for a vacation.  We usually plan something for the fall, but it looks like we're both going to be super busy at work this fall, so will probably put it off until spring.  Maybe Belize.....ooooooh, whale shark diving. Yes please!  Research is needed.
  • A few times on our evening dog walk we've seen the most adorable Doberman puppy at the park.  Which prompted me to check out the NorCal Doberman rescue group.  You know...just to look.  And although they have some great looking/sounding dogs and I'm tempted....I don't think it's fair to bring a new dog into the house right now.  Bam is pretty satisfied with not sharing it seems to me.
  • I'm planning to drive out to the race site of both my next races this weekend for my long ride/short run.  It seems like a bit of a waste to drive more than I'll be riding (2 hour drive each way, 3:30 workout), but I think the experience of having seen the race course is worth it.
  • A week from Sunday is my second to last tri of the season.  It's been a great year so far, so I'm hoping to finish up the year in the style to which I've become accustomed. 
  • I plopped another 10k into my schedule in October.  Why not?
  • The offices on either side of mine are empty.  People like to go into them to have 'private' conversations.  I should probably tell them that when they face my office and talk I can hear everything they're saying.  Yeah, I probably *should*.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to find some Diet Pepsi and a snack before I wither away. *snort*

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010

    Five years

    Five years ago, in February, my uncle was diagnosed with leukemia.

    One day, more out of a sense of helplessness than anything, I signed up with Team in Training to run the Nike Women's Marathon.

    In something of a miracle (or so I understand), my aunt was about as close to a perfect match as you can get for a transplant.  I had a vision in my head, naive to be sure, of my uncle recovering from the transplant and being at the finish line when I crossed it in San Francisco in October.

    Five years ago today I received a call from my grandmother telling me that my uncle had passed away. Admittedly I'm fuzzy on the details.  Once I heard the first part, everything else was just.......noise.  I think that there were complications from his treatment, either radiation or chemo, that damaged his bone marrow in such a way that the transplant couldn't take.  And he just couldn't recover.

    To this day, I think I can very safely say, we all miss him.  We're a small family and he was a very large personality in that family....extremely intelligent with a fabulous sense of humor and wit.

    Everything I've accomplished in the last five years, athletically at a minimum, can be pinpointed back to that day five years ago.  A couch potato signing up for that first marathon with TNT, determined to finish.  And now I've done everything from 5ks to marathons.  Sprint tris to Ironman, including Kona.

    And while I've been known to say that I wouldn't trade my Kona experience for anything....well......let's just say I wish he was still here.

    I'll have to make do with my hope that he would have been proud of what we've accomplished.  Because it's not just me.  Many of my family, my brother, my aunt, my cousins, and friends of ours.......we've all pushed ourselves to feats that we might not have were it not for the inspiration of my uncle's memory.  So today I look back with sadness, but also with gratitude, for I can truly say that my uncle helped make me the person I am today.

    Monday, July 05, 2010


    This was the week where my workouts started to get a bit longer.  Over an hour of running at a stretch, a bit longer swims, and on Independence Day I celebrated with a 3 hour brick (2.5 hours riding, .5 running).  

    Seeing that 3 hour brick on my schedule, I pulled out my long ride/run nutrition plan that Heather had put together for me last year for Kona.  I had forgotten just how much planning there was involved in this.  And totally forgot how I was able to carry enough water/sports drink on my bike to meet my 'sweat challenging' needs.  I decided that I may be able to tone down the fluids a little since I planned to hit the road before it warmed up too much.  Yeah, global fail there.  I seemed to also have forgotten just how long it takes to get all the various bottles, computers, etc loaded on the bike and get ready to roll.  In retrospect it's probably a good thing that I couldn't work out plans with any of my go-to riding partners since I was so late getting moving.  It was about 9:30 before I actually pushed 'start' on my Garmin and hit the road.

    It was a beautiful day out there and I felt great just pedaling along.  I headed out Niles Canyon, which didn't have too much traffic, probably due to the holiday.  Or maybe people were at church.  Either way, I was glad.  That curvy, sometimes too narrow, road tends to make me a bit nervous when there are a lot of cars.  Most people are pretty aware and courteous, but several times I feel like I've been 'buzzed'.  Kept going out towards Calaveras, planning to turn around before I hit the real hills.  I had just turned around to head back for a loop through Pleasanton when I felt something a little off with my bike.  Sure enough, a not quite flat, but seriously deflated rear tire.  Pull out the spare tube, CO2, and pull off the rear wheel.

    The Calaveras Reservoir area is a hot spot for cyclists here.  So while I was riding on my own, there were lots of other cyclists out there on pretty much all the roads I was traveling.  I'm not sure how long it took me to change that tire, probably longer than it should have, but I wasn't really hurrying either.  So it was no surprise that probably 6 groups of cyclists passed by while I was standing there changing my tire.    What *did* surprise me was that the majority of them made sure I had everything I needed and that I was okay.  Some of them yelling as they went by, some actually stopping to make sure.  It was nice.   My first thought was, "Wow, chivalry isn't dead after all."  It didn't occur to me until much later on the ride that perhaps it was because I looked like I had *no* idea what I was doing and really needed help.  Either way I managed to change that tire all on my own and got back on the road to finish up my brick.  The next hour and a half passed by uneventfully for the most part.  I took in all my fluids, nutrition, and even remembered my salt sticks this time.

    Pulled into my driveway, hopped off the bike.....and realized my T2 was going to be a bit long.  I forgot to put all my running stuff out.  So I scurried around gathering stuff while Bam looked at me like I was crazy.  And I finally headed out for a short half hour run....and wow, it was toasty.  Even though weather.com said it was only 78 when I finished up, it sure seemed warmer.  If my half iron is 10 degrees (or more!) warmer than that, I think I'm in trouble.

    I finished up and grabbed my recovery drink (chocolate milk mixed with almond milk) and sat down to figure out my fluid balance.  I had remembered to weigh myself pre-brick, weighed myself post-brick, and the difference was......down 1.5 pounds.  Yikes.  I guess I shouldn't have tried to dial down my fluid intake from my IM plan after all.  *sigh*  I plugged the numbers into the sweat rate calculator Coach Liz sent me and sure enough......if I had taken the amount called for in the plan, I should have been right on the numbers.  Something to work on for sure.  It does get challenging trying to figure out how to carry that much water around on the bike tho.  But it's good to find out now what I'll need on race day and get my body used to taking it in.

    Just over 8 weeks until my big race of the season!  And coming up this weekend....10k time.  And I signed Jeff up for the 5k.  Hopefully he won't have to wait around too long for me to finish.  Especially since I'm hoping for a new PR.....even with the hills.  Fast feet, fast feet, fast feet!

    Sunday, June 27, 2010

    Trek Women's Tri

    Is it just me or does she look less than thrilled?

    I decided, kind of last minute....altho not last minute enough (more on this in a bit), to sign up for the Trek Women's Tri. 

    A while back an email came through for a $20 discount for a new tri in the area, the Trek Women's Tri.  It was only a couple weeks after one of my "A" races for the year, so I wasn't sure I was up for it.  But there were some perks: Tina was doing the race, the discount, and a tech t for starters.  I got the 'ok' from coach to race it altho was informed that it would be one of those races I'd train thru....so no taper going into it.  Okay, no problem, I'll just race it to race it and see what happens.  Yeah, cuz we all know that I'm not competitive *at all* and could do a race just to have fun.  Uh huh, yep, that sure *sounds* like me. (exaggerated eye roll inserted here)

    Time goes by, I'm all signed up, looking forward to a short sprint, when some troubling information starts to circulate.  First is the news that Trek was offering $1 registration for this race.  Uhhhh, okay.  So instead of being rewarded for signing up early, I just got penalized to the tune of $64.  Niiiiiiice.  Second was the lack of course information...or any race information at all.  Until about a week before the race when I started getting something practically every day from them.  Third was the 'approximate' distances shown for the course, as well as changing distances.  I'm pretty sure the race was set up as a 400 yd swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run.  But it somehow, for *some* reason, turned into an 'all distances approximate' 1/2 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 3 mile run.  Huh.  That's a new one.....'all distances approximate.'  Okay, whatever, it has to be close to those distances right?  Yeah, you'd think.

    Just a few more pet peeves about this race.  And no, I don't think I'll be doing it again, but you never know. 
    • Lack of buoys on the swim course.  For what was supposed to be a half mile swim (okay, okay, approximately), there were 2 buoys.  Yes, 2.  One at each turn of the rectangular shaped swim course. Oh, and the swim start was directly into the sun.  So for about 1/4 of the swim it was the blind leading the blind.  Straight into the sun, straining for any kind of buoy sighting.
    • Poor transition set up.  The racks were set up by wave and there was a distinct advantage to being in an early wave.  The swim in was thru the back of transition, but the bike out, bike in, and run out were all at the front.  I was somewhere midway thru, but those poor ladies at the back had to run the entire length of transition 3 times.  Not exactly fair.
    • I get the 'girl power' thing. Seriously, I do.  I'm the one who used to be all pinked out on the bike, remember?!?!  But enough already.  I don't need a cheerleader at the start of the swim telling me how I'm an 'awesome' swimmer, and when I get to the bike that I'll be an 'awesome' cyclist, 'awesome' runner, 'awesome' triathlete.  Awesome, awesome, awesome.  And then instruct me to hug, double high five, whatever, the people around me while announcing "You go girlfriend!".  Please.  A touch more testosterone at races may not be a bad thing.
    And yes, I get that I am most likely not Trek's target audience with this race.  Altho...wait a minute...it's the Trek WOMEN's triathlon, so yes, yes, I guess I *would* be the target for this race.  But you know what I mean.  I think they're trying to make the race as woman-beginner-triathlete friendly as possible but it was a bit overdone.

    Actual performance on the race?  A decent, not stellar effort.  4th/50 in my age group.  24/268 overall. Yes, I will take that.  I had some struggles on the run, definitely not putting out the best effort there.  Each race though, I learn how to push myself a little more.  Push in different ways.  Gain experience, knowledge, and confidence. 

    You may remember the goal was to 'blow up' on the bike.  And according to the race results, I hit 23+ mph on the bike split.  So you'd think I'd have accomplished that goal, no?  Sadly, no.  I knew something was off.  There's no *way* I rode that fast for 12 miles.  And as it turns out, I didn't.  I rode for just under 10 miles.  Uh huh, that 'approximate' bike distance was more than 2 miles short.  Which still makes for my fastest bike split yet, but there's obviously work left to do.  And if there wasn't work left to do why would I still be doing this?  It's the challenge of pushing myself that makes it hard, makes it fun, makes it worth investing the time and effort.  You go out there, you try your best, and once in a while.....it all comes together for a great race.  That's the frosting.

    From here we move on to some longer stuff.  Half Iron race is on the horizon, so start going long.  Gradually adding time and distance to the swimming and biking and running.  Start it off with an Independence Day brick.  What better way to celebrate than a 2.5 hour bike ride followed by a 30 minute run?!?  Hmmm....I need to start planning some long ride routes......

    But next up....10k in two weeks.  My last 10k was in September of 2008, so here's hoping for a new PR!  May be tough, as its not a flat course, but I'll give it my all.  And maybe I'll get some frosting. :)

    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    Back to work

    It seems like it's been a long time since I've had a big workout week.

    I had a fairly light week going into camp, then a rest week after camp. Then I got sick and had pretty much a no workout week, although it was followed by a "race". And this week was a transition week, so a bit easier too.  I feel like I've lost a lot of ground, and need to get myself back in shape.  And yes, I know that it's necessary to take some down time once in a while.  It just seems like I've piled up a lot of down time all at once, not all intentionally, but still.  Things are about to change.

    I was looking through my workouts in Training Peaks the other day and saw this "....with the Half Iron on the horizon.....".  Yikes.  I guess it really *is* on the horizon, about 2-1/2 months out.  And so my long rides and long runs will start to ramp up.  I'm hoping to be able to make the long drive out to the race site and do at least a couple of long rides on the course.  If not though, I'll at least get a course preview at the Olympic race I'm doing there in August.  My biggest worry about the event will be the heat.  I'll start trying to get my body used to it, doing my easier workouts during the middle of the day when I can.  Of course, we'd actually have to get some summer weather for that to work.  So far, altho granted tomorrow is just the first day of summer, we've had a few warm days here and there, but not a whole lot of them.

    On the injury front....the hip is about.....98%.  It talks to me a little bit after running, but I see the PT/bike guy on Thursday, so hopefully he can check my bike fit and take a quick check of the hip to make sure everything is still where it should be.  The number one goal tho, is to make sure the bike is fit properly. 

    A sprint race on tap for this weekend.  Goal....really push the bike.  Show myself that I can.  And that *no* my head won't actually explode......I hope.

    In non-sports news.....we celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this week. Unlike our 10th, where we took a month's vacation to some exotic locales, we didn't do much of anything for this one.  Dinner out, flowers, the standard.  I guess I could say I got myself the new bike frame for "our" anniversary present. :)

    Also this week....5 years since my father was killed in an accident with a drunk driver, on Father's Day.  It's weird.  I can't say that I "miss" him, because we hadn't really been a part of each others lives for many years. But especially today, I miss the opportunities we might have had to get acquainted again.  He wasn't the best father, but he was my father, flaws and all.  It's quite possible that even if we had managed to reconnect that it wouldn't have worked out, but the regret is in not being able to find out.  PSA for the day.....don't wait until it's too late.  Give it a try, and then even if it doesn't work, at least you'll know.

    And to leave things on a lighter note.....Happy first day of summer....here's to warmer weather!

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    SV Olympic Tri

    The short story:  While it was over a 9 minute PR from my last run of this course, it really wasn't my best effort.  And as such is a bit of a hollow 'victory'.

    The very long version.

    Let's start with my bike.  My frame was damaged on the way to tri camp last month and I was in Illinois for a week after that.  As soon as the shop opened the day after I got home, I was at my local bike shop (*BEST* guys *ever*!).  Alan confirmed that altho I probably *could* ride it (and had for the last week), the inherent strength of carbon is dependent upon the fibers being intact.  The damage was on the down tube and if I hit a bump hard there was a possibility of it failing.  Since I was racing the next weekend, Alan said he'd work on getting me a new frame from Specialized as soon as possible.  Unfortunately the new frame didn't come in until Thursday.  But Alan really came through and at 9:00 Friday night I went to pick up my "new" ride.  Some slight changes in the geometry of the frame, but he did his best to put everything back with the right overall dimensions (seat the same height from the crank, etc).  I took the new Ruby out for a spin on Saturday as part of my pre-race brick and felt pretty comfortable.

    Really bad, blurry pic of frame damage

    "New" Ruby ready to roll

    Oh, and amongst my stressing about the bike, I was also sick last week.  Yes, again.  No, the doctor has *no* idea why.  All my blood tests came back normal.  Evidently I'm just a weakling in the immunity department. 

    Saturday night, in some spectacularly bad planning on my part, we headed out to see Sting in concert.  When I bought the tickets I completely spaced the dates and didn't realize it was the night before my race.  I considered bailing, but decided that wouldn't really be fair to my other half.  And to be honest, having already spent the money, I would balk at just letting the tickets go to waste.  I tried not to complain too much about being out late or hint too much about leaving early.  I'm pretty sure I failed miserably at both.  We did leave the concert before the end, but being an hour drive from home, I still only got about 4-1/2 hours of sleep Saturday night.

    I was already a bit concerned about my preparedness going into this race.  Having been sick, I was instructed to rest all week, so didn't have any workouts to see how things were feeling.  Add to that the hip problem and I really hadn't done much running in about 3 weeks.  And I definitely knew I was off kilter when I was all suited up for the race and didn't have a shred of nervousness.  It was more a sense of "let's just get on with it".  Not to say I wasn't excited.  I felt ready to go and just wanted to get moving.  But the lack of nerves was unnerving.

    I felt good during the swim, but probably lolly gagged a bit.  In retrospect I think I felt too comfortable in the water, which tells me I wasn't pushing hard enough.  I did come out of the water 10/54, but probably could have pushed a bit more.

    The new bike felt good, but after looking at the power data, it's obvious I wasn't pushing as hard as I should have been.  The mental block with my bike seems to continue.  What am I afraid of? I just don't know.  I can push myself on the bike tests, but when I get out on the course, I pull back.  I told coach that I think I'm afraid to blow up.  Her response (priceless, I think) "What happens if you blow up.  Do you lose a wheel?  Does your head explode?  FIND OUT."  Given the data from my testing, and the data from racing, it's pretty obvious I'm not giving it my all out there.  And I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who can figure out why and do something about it.   So although my Olympic in August is supposed to be a "B" race, it may turn into an "A" race.  Or at least the bike portion.  I need a break thru moment on the bike and only I can take myself there.

    The run was a struggle.  This was the first hot weather weekend we've had all year, and it got hot with a vengeance and there was very little shade to be had on course. I started off too hard and wilted as the run went on. I would have sworn the last mile was the longest of my life.  It was one of those days when I thought to myself, "This is supposed to be fun, right?  I am not having fun."   And of course as soon as I finished and downed some cold water and had a fabulous on-site, post race massage, I started thinking out to my next race.  Funny how quickly the brain packs up the bad stuff into a little box.

    Another line of  thought post race was how stupid it was to sign up for a half iron race in hot country in September.  Maybe that was  a *serious* mistake.  I looked up the historical temps.  88 on the day of the race is the historical average high.  Ouch. But then again, so what.  Everyone will be facing the same conditions, and at least I can work towards prepping my body for the heat.  Let's just look at it as another challenge shall we?  The things I liked about the race when I signed up still hold.  It's a small, "local" race.  Lake swim, with a fairly flat bike course.  Run on packed dirt fire roads instead of pavement.  I need to just quit making excuses before I've even started and get to training.

    Okay, enough rambling of jumbled thoughts from my tired brain.  Bottom line(s):  I continue to learn thru my experiences on the course.  And my number one goal is to blow up on the bike.  Trek sprint tri is next up....let's see if I can get my head to explode.

    Wednesday, June 09, 2010

    Happy Camper

    Finally...my *seriously* overdue tri camp report!
    (all pics courtesy of Molly, who was the camp photographer....since no one else had a camera. :)

    For us west-coasters, camp started early Friday morning.  I met Molly at the airport, where we were on the same early morning flight to Chicago.  The flight went well, and went by quickly enough.  The drive out of Chicago to the hotel....not so much.  Lots of traffic, but probably to be expected for a holiday weekend Friday afternoon.  We just had time to check in, dump our luggage, and head over to Jen's house for dinner.  Jen and Liz were the co-coaches for the camp and hosted all of the campers for dinner at Jen's to get acquainted and go over the weekend schedule.  The weekend would be packed for sure.  Soon enough we headed back to the hotel, where we still had to gather stuff for the next day and put our bikes back together from travel.  My only downer for the weekend was when I found that my bike had been dinged during the trip.  I wasn't sure if I'd be able to ride, as I'd heard that carbon can be quite fragile once damaged.  I figured I could have Liz and/or Jen take a look in the morning and we were off to bed.  At about 8:00 "my" time.  Not too much sleep going on there.  Especially until the party in the pool (which was directly below our room) ended.

    Saturday morning came *way* too soon, but I was excited to get moving.  First on tap was an open water swim and clinic.  Jen lead half the group on a swim around a lovely lake, which was almost too warm for my full wet suit.  I started wishing I'd brought my sleeveless one instead.

    Lake in the Hills
    Liz explaining open waters starts, techniques, strategies
    Jen explaining the swim plan
    Me and Molly

    The swim was great, and it was good to practice some beach starts, deep water starts and drafting.  Soon enough it was time for breakfast and then a long ride.  In fact, it was going to be my longest ride since Iron training last year.  
    Breakfast...much needed fuel for the upcoming ride

    After breakfast, everyone got their bikes and themselves ready to head out.  I had Jen take a look at my bike, and although she confessed it wasn't her area of expertise, "we" determined that I'd probably be okay to ride, but could call Liz to SAG me if anything felt off.  Yeah, being 8 months pregnant, Liz was on SAG duty. 
    Liz at 8 months...still weighs less than me *sigh* :)

    It was warming up nicely by the time we were ready to roll.  We broke up into three groups, and I was in the middle group.  It was a great ride heading out, with farm land making up the scenery.  Not too many cars, and just a few rollers on a mostly flat route. 

    Evidently feeling good on the ride

    It was great to just ride along, drafting some, being drafted off some, and chatting away with the other ladies.  And before I knew it we hit the water stop where Liz had parked with snacks, water, gatorade, etc.  Some of the group didn't want to cover quite as much ground as others, and so Liz sent Molly and I off to get "at least 60 miles in".  Yikes....definitely my longest ride to date.  We hit 30 miles and I was still feeling good....until we flipped around.  Funny...I didn't notice that we had *that* much of a tailwind heading out.  Yep, back home all the way into the wind.  I'm not gonna' lie...it was a slog and I wasn't smiling as much nor was I nearly so chatty.  And I *may* have been swearing under my breath.  Especially when we got to the point where we were about 10 miles out, I was feeling lightheaded, dehydrated, and in general just fried.   And it wasn't a whole lot of fun realizing that we were the last ones out there either.  I definitely wasn't feeling up to a 30 minute run off the bike.  Which is what I told Liz once we finally rolled in.  To which she promptly responded, "Just run 10 minutes, 5 out, 5 back."  Grrrr...fine.  Oh, and I was to stay on the flat road since I'd been having hip issues.  I have to say, that 10 minutes seemed so long.  And it was more of a shuffle than a run.  I was covered with salt, dehydrated, and tired.  When it was done I dunked myself back into the water to cool off.  Ahhhhhh.  And believe it or not, we weren't done yet.  There was a yoga session yet to go.
    Post yoga and looking forward to dinner

    After the yoga, scurry back to the hotel, shower up and head to dinner.  Food.  Yes, I needed food.  I think the waiters were astonished at how quickly the food disappeared in front of a group of lovely ladies.  More fun times chatting with the other ladies and devouring salads, bruschetta, salmon, chicken, pasta, and dessert.  Mmmmm.


    Sunday didn't require *quite* as early a start, which was good news to me.  I didn't sleep as well as I thought I might, given the plethora of activities covered over the day, so the alarm still came a little too early.  Up and at it again tho.  We were heading to the pool for a swim workout and stroke analysis.  This would be followed by run hills and drills.  Followed by strength work, followed by an optional ride.  Want to guess how many people opted in to the ride? :)

    Liz giving stroke analysis and instruction
    Me and Kristin in the toasty pool

    I volunteered to be first for stroke analysis and Liz had me do some warm up laps, then started the camera rolling.  In a sad, but reassuring way, the same issues she pointed out were what the instructor from my swim lesson a few weeks ago had identified.  Sad, because I obviously haven't fixed anything, but reassuring in the fact that I don't have any additional problems to work on just yet. :)  After the analysis it was time to jump into the workout that Jen was leading.  It didn't take too long before I realized my biggest mistake.  By volunteering to be first, I only missed the warm up, while other ladies were pulled out of the workout for their analysis.  So I had the pleasure of doing Jen's *entire* workout. Ouch.  And the pool was toasty....indoors, of course.....but I don't think they cooled the room either.  It was stifling.  I think we were all glad to head out and breathe some non-chlorinated air.  I wasn't glad for long though as I quickly realized there was only a smidge of shade, the day was going to be seriously warm, and we were heading out to run in it.

    Waiting to head out on the run
    Group pre-run sweatfest

    We warmed up on a path and then hit an overpass for hill repeats.  The funniest part was that Jen kept saying how the hill wouldn't really be a hill to "the California girls".   It may not have been much of a hill, but the heat and humidity had me (and not just me) hiding in the shade whenever possible.

    Running hills...which I surprised myself by being decent at :)
    Sharing the only speck of shade around

    After Jen gave us some instruction on how to attack the hills, both up and down, we did repeats and then headed back along the trail to do drills.  Again, I surprised myself by tackling the drills quite well.  Probably because Liz has made me do them before, so I knew what to expect.  Finally it was time for lunch.  Yes, the theme was workout, workout, workout, eat, eat, eat, workout some more.  After lunch we drove to a park for strength workouts.  Split into two groups, one group worked with Kate on TRX and one group worked with Liz on bosu/stability ball/medicine ball strength work.  A lot of core here!  
    Showing off my one legged squats on the bosu....hats of to Elena, my strength trainer

    TRX workout with Kate, getting the scoop before the torture

    And finally it was time to wrap up the day.  The offer was made for a nice, easy recovery ride, but I think most people were pretty wiped by this point.  Liz offered to have her athletes come over for dinner and an easy ride.  Sounded good to us, so we headed back to the hotel (getting waylaid by a parade on the way), packed up some clean clothes for after the ride and headed to Liz's.  She lives very close to a beautiful arboretum, almost 2000 acres I think she said, with a nice paved path that winds through.  It was a very easy, very pretty ride with coach!  Probably the only time I could hang with Liz on a ride, I took advantage to chat with her a bit.  After the ride, back to Liz's house for showers and a fabulous dinner that her husband, Chris, had whipped up.  Steak (yum, oh yum!), veggies, bread and cheese, and of course dessert...cupcakes, cookies, and brownies, oh my!

    All cleaned up and ready to eat....again

    The last day of camp, Monday, was the running of the Elgin Fox Trot 5k (although some brave campers did the 10 miler).  I started off thinking I might 'race' this, but within the first half mile or so, my legs basically just said "no thanks."  So it was a nice moderately paced recovery run.  Molly and I raced back to the hotel to get cleaned up and made it back to the race site just in time for camp wrap up.  Which wrapped up just in time, as a thunderstorm rolled in.  We *just* made it to the car when the rain started coming down.

    So all in all, camp was a blast.  It was great getting some feedback, having some hard workouts, and basically just hanging out with a great group of ladies.  I'd definitely do it again! (But let's leave out the bike damage next time, shall we?!?  More on this in another post....this one is long enough already!)

    Wednesday, May 26, 2010

    Hi ho, Hi ho

    it's off to camp I go....

    I leave for tri-camp Friday morning.  Have I packed?  Um, that would be a resounding "no". I do have a list and I did start a pile for things I need to pack.  But as yet it's a *very* small pile....and no, that doesn't mean I don't need to take a lot of stuff.  In all I'm staying in Illinois for a week so I need quite a bit of stuff.  I'm trying to learn from past trips though and take only the bare essentials.  Somehow that just never seems to work out.  I typically end up with an over-packed suitcase and then come home with a bunch of clothes that were never worn.   But I have quite a few workouts to get thru, and it's going to be toasty, and I'm....well.....okay, a sweater.  Yes, it's true.  When I did weights one day after running, my trainer wondered if I had just gotten out of the shower.  Yeah, I sweat like *that*.  So lots of workout clothes will be required. 

    The other days that I'm there, I'll be working from my brother's house and I'm just tossing in shorts and t-shirts.  We don't do video conferencing at work, so technically I could stay in my PJs all day.  But that would probably not set a good example for my nieces.

    On the 'injury' front, I had another PT session this morning.  It wasn't with my usual guy, as he is *impossible* to get an appointment with on short notice, but one of his partners.  She's pretty good, but a little less...aggressive.  The look on her face was priceless when she asked when my next event was and I told her I was leaving for a 3 day camp on Friday.  At this point, I'd say it's somewhere between 85 and 90%.  Not 'normal', but not seriously sore like it was.  I have an easy run on my schedule for tomorrow, the first run I'll have done in more than a week.  I'm a little anxious about that.  I did some treadmill hill walking on Monday, and it was a bit tight afterward.   And with camp, topped off by a 5k on Monday, and my first "A" tri of the season a mere two weeks away....yeah, anxious is a good word.  One day at a time.  That's a good motto, eh?

    And so, I'm off.....to finish up at work tomorrow (early I hope).....get packed up....and to board an early, early flight on Friday to Chi-town!  Hmm...seems like I was just there.  Oh, that's right, I *was*.  The wedding two weeks ago where I managed to damage myself....guess I'm coming full circle.  Wish me luck.  I hope I survive the weekend.  If I can do this much damage at a wedding, it's hard to say how much I can do at a tri camp.  Happy long weekend!

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Pity party

    For one?  Right over here.

    I haven't had any more bouts of flu/cold-like symptoms since I last posted (ages ago, it seems).  So that's good news.  And I was really starting to feel better.  Not just physically, but I seemed to be getting my positive energy back, despite work being crazy busy. And when I say crazy busy I don't mean *extremely* busy, I mean busy in a crazy, "are you kidding me", do everything three times just for kicks and giggles kind of way.  "Oh, one more data point came in, can we (read: you) rerun all the programs?"  Yeah, super fun.  But I digress.

    So, workouts felt like they were starting to come back around and build some momentum.  I even had a swim lesson with (another) new instructor.  I really liked the last one, but evidently she's not teaching at "my" pool anymore.  So I had a 1/2 hour lesson with the new instructor just to see if I was making any progress towards my stroke changes.  Turns out the she has had shoulder problems like mine.  And after watching me swim a bit said she was not surprised that I had problems, but was more surprised that I didn't have problems with *both* shoulders.   A few tweaks to my hand entry and my pull would be required.  Not an easy task when the muscles have been memorizing the current pattern for quite a while.  But I'm working on it. Slowly but surely I'll get it there.

    Although I had been frustrated of late with my biking progress (or perceived lack thereof), I think it may have more to do with my mentality than physicality.  Just like building up the biking muscles, I need to work my biking brain too.  When it starts to get *really* tough on the bike my legs say STOP and my brain hasn't figured out how to override them.  I feel like I'm making a little progress here, but it's slow going.

    The run.  This is where I feel like I've made some significant progress so far this year.  I had another 5k a little over a week ago.  And despite coming at the end of a 3 week build in training, I *just* missed a PR.  Which gives me the thought that my goal is within reach if I had rested legs and a good day......a flat course couldn't hurt either. 

    Just prior to that 5k I started to feel some small twinges in my right hip.  Nothing major, just something a little off.  It didn't bother me during the 5k though, and seemed to be loosening up, so I thought no more of it.  Until a little too much dancing, or maybe too much time in heels, or both,  at a wedding last weekend had me waking up Sunday with seriously tight, sore calves and a right hip that smacked me every time I moved.  Or touched it.  Or tried to lay on the right side.  On Monday it was feeling a bit better.  I decided to run and although it felt a little achy, it wasn't too bad.  After the run I spun my legs out on my bike and then plopped myself in a tub full of cold water.  And then dumped in ice.  And sat there until my toes were about frozen.  On Tuesday I woke up and thought, "Wow, I probably shouldn't have run on that hip." 

    Luckily I had an appointment already scheduled for today with my PT.  Again with the "ugh" and "eww" as he watched my gait and poked and prodded my sore hip.  An uncomfortable hour later I had some relief, although not total, some homework and 2 instructions.  1) Come back early next week and 2) no running.  I had gone to the appointment dressed in my running gear and had planned to hit a nice trail by work after my appointment.  Sooo, I guess *not* then.  I clarified...."No running today, or ????"  Then I get "the look".  No running until at least after my next appointment.  A small bit of good news is that he thinks he can get me back to 'normal' after the next visit.  But I really need to work on changing my posture and gait.  Again...easier said than done.  Especially when the body alignment he is looking for feels totally unnatural to me.  My head says "that can't possibly be right".  More hard work to change years of ingrained muscle memory.

    On the one hand...it could be worse, right?  And if I can get things fixed now, I could hopefully prevent more problems in the future.  On the other hand, my first "A" race of the year is in just over 3 weeks.  And I have camp a week from Saturday.  This is *no* time to be injured.  I will try to maintain some positivity.  There are much worse things that not being able to run for a few days.  *Much* worse.  It's just that as soon as I hear 'You can't' or 'You shouldn't' then I want to do that thing even more.  I even started thinking...I could just go for a short run after work.  I'm feeling a bit better now.  Yeah, I'm just that way.  But I will do my best to be a good patient. And hope that I can be right as rain before next weekend.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, would ya?

    Sunday, May 02, 2010

    Sick and tired

    I haven't posted in a while, because, well, there hasn't been any real news to post about.  I've been a in a bit of a blue zone actually.

    I'll try some bullet points on for size this go round.
    • I have been sick once a week for the last 4 weeks.  The latest has been the 'worst', lasting the longest, although at least I didn't have a fever this time.  Symptoms: fever, body ache/fatigue, sniffles, stuffy nose, sore throat.  Now mix and match for anywhere from 36-72 hours a week for four weeks.  Yeah, super fun.  Yes, I *have* been to the doctor.  No, *of course*, he didn't have a solution.  I did have blood work drawn, but my follow up appointment is not for a couple weeks.  Spec.tac.ular.
    • Due to above, most likely, I feel like training has been...well....less than stellar.  There have been some good moments, but there have been more than my fair share of crappy moments.  
    • And as training has felt less than stellar, and energy levels have been somewhat lower than usual, and mood  has been somewhat blue, I've had some long thoughts along the lines of "what's the point of all this training anyway?!?!". Wherein I was reminded by dear husband that our lives are about experiences and for me the training and participating in events make up a large part of my experiences right now.  Something along the lines of going to the grave completely out of gas, but having had a spectacular joy ride.
    • The bike clinic last week was fun, but could have been condensed down into about 2 hours instead of 4.  The two best things I learned.....emergency stops and riding with no hands.  I'm still not about to try and drink or eat while riding with no hands, but I can at least go in a straight line for quite a while.  Or a mostly straight line.  It's a start, but damn, it was about 1000 times easier when I was a kid.
    • 5k this weekend, but coming at the end of a 3 week training build, not to mention (again) the cluster of illnesses, I'm not sure what to expect from my legs.  Run like hell and hope for the best is my plan.
    • Last, but certainly not least, a huge congrats to my family who finished the Illinois 1/2 marathon this weekend!  My aunt ran (her first half!), my sister-in-law walked (first half too!), my brother and cousin both ran, and even my nieces ran the kids race.  Nicely done to one and all.

    Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Quick pics

    A few shots from Vineman Showdown last weekend.

    The always oh-so-flattering wetsuit shot.

    Yes, I do amuse myself....even when my cold, numb foot doesn't want to get into it's shoe.

    This must've been on an uphill....otherwise I have *no* explanation for that forward lean.

    Happy to be finished!  And fun that they held up the banner for little 'ol me.

    Sunday, April 18, 2010


    The first tri of the year is now in the books.  There was some good.  Some bad.  And some ugly.

    T and I drove up mid-day and we made it there *plenty* early.  Probably too early, as we had a ton of time to sit around, wander about, check things out, and generally get bored.   But it was nice to be able to get set up, check out the transition ins/outs, eat some lunch, and especially people watch.  It just amazes me how super fit the majority of triathletes are, even at a small, local race.  And it still intimidates me.  I guess I just don't consider myself an athlete, even after all these years of participating in running events and tris.  Oh, and we had to go thru body marking, of course.  Where I was disappointed that they weren't marking ages on the calves.  Partly because it's both humorous and inspiring when the 60+ folks fly by me, but  this would have been my first "40".  Ah well, maybe the next one.

    Some ugly:  we knew that there was a 'hill' out of transition that in previous years you had to ride up.  This year you were going to have to run up, either with bike shoes on, or with bare feet, pushing your bike.  We made sure to walk the hill just to see what it was like.  Uh, yeah.  About 1/4 mile long, a steeper almost 'hairpin' at the bottom and then gradually up, up, up to the mount/dismount line.  And literally about 8 feet wide.  For traffic going two ways.  Now I see why there were some issues with people riding up/down.  The up would be slow enough you could literally fall over, especially if some people were walking their bikes, and the down would be a screamer.  And not a nicely paved path either.  Yes, it was paved.  About a 100 years ago.  Very rough, some tree roots pushing parts up, some pot holes.  Awesome.  Oh, and how about a few flights of stairs out of T2?  Not a fan.

    Eventually the time crept closer and we listened to the instructions at the athlete's meeting, suited up, and headed to the beach for our warm up swim. 

    Some good:  It was announced that the water was 68 degrees!  Fabulous.  I had been so worried about the cold, cold water.  My plan had been to wear my full wetsuit, get in a good warm up, and hope for the best.  Of course, I'm almost positive that they were lying about the 68.  I did a quick practice swim at the small lake by my house the previous day and the underwater thermometer there had read about 63.  And it felt a lot warmer than the water at the event. But at least it wasn't 55 like they had projected.

    We did a nice warm up swim, where I was reminded again that salt water swimming is not my favorite thing.  And before we knew it, we were heading back up the beach to line up.  Yep, a beach start.  It seemed like no one wanted to be at the front.  We thought we were front-middle, but very few people were in front of us.  I will admit there was a little fear of getting plowed under.  And then.....with a countdown from 10, we were off.  Run, run, dive, swim.  The swim went by both much faster than I expected and at the same time seemed to take forever.  I tend to have a very hard time catching my breath during a sprint swim. So I was breathing every stroke for quite a while, not finding any rhythm.  And there was more contact at this race than any other race I've done, including Ironman.  I had someone bumping me on both sides for almost the entire swim.  And often someone grabbing at my feet with feet right in front of me.  But the buoys were going by quite quickly and before I knew it I was heading for shore.  I swam until my hands brushed the bottom and then popped up and started running to T1.  I finished up the swim in a little over 6 minutes, which is much faster than I had anticipated.  I'm thinking the course may have been short, because I am just *not* that fast.

    Up into transition, strip off the wet suit, sunglasses and helmet mashed onto my head.  I had decided to leave my shoes on my bike and I grabbed Ruby and took off running up the hill.  And then I was jogging up the hill. And then I was trotting.  And I finally made it to the top.  I think it's a good thing my feet were still numbed up from the cold water.  Or the adrenaline.  Or both.  I didn't feel the awful surface of the path too much.  I did have a bit of a hard time shoving my wet, numb feet into the shoes once on the bike.  But I eventually got them in there.

    The one thing T and I realized (after the fact) was that we should have taken some of that spare time to drive the bike course.  Then we would have had some idea what to expect.  It wasn't bad really, just constantly rolling.  And a bit windy.  And as usual, I got passed by everyone and their great grandmother on the bike (only a *very* slight exaggeration).  I have come to the conclusion that I may be the anti-bicyclist.  Maybe I just don't have cycling muscles.  Maybe I just need to pipe down and work a little harder.  Probably the latter.

    Some bad:  I'm unsure how hard is HARD when it comes to the bike.  I see women up out of the saddle for some hills, and wonder how they do it.  I try, then plop back down into the saddle.  I still have a long way to go with the bike. Participate, learn, train some more.

    The bike was over, not quite as quickly as I'd have liked.  I didn't make my internal goal. With about a half mile left to go, I was trying to figure out when to slide out of my shoes so I could run down the hill, leaving my shoes on the bike.  Unfortunately, here again is where it would have been good to have scoped out the course.  Down a hill, into a sweeping left hand turn, and then....uphill to the dismount line.  Damnit.  There is no sliding out of shoes on an uphill, at least for me.  So I had to go into the dismount line with my shoes still on my feet.  I started to run down the hill with my shoes still on and decided...it sucked.  So I pulled to the side and pulled of my shoes as quickly as I could and started running down that damn hill again.  I could feel my feet a little more this time and it wasn't so nice.  But I could see people struggling to keep from slipping and sliding in their cycling shoes, so I'm not sure what the better choice really was.

    I made it into transition and despite heading down the wrong aisle, I was able to get in and out pretty quickly.  Sat down to slide on my socks and running shoes, plop down my helmet and put a hat on my head.  I grabbed my race belt and took off running, fastening it as I went.  And then...the stairs.  &*$&*#* stairs!  I have to admit, midway up I slowed to a trot.  Maybe even a walk.  Okay, yes a walk.  But as soon as I got up to the top, I pushed off and started working on getting my legs back.  I had a side stitch for about half the run, but getting to the turn around was a turning point.  Figuratively and literally.  I knew I only had a mile and a half to go and I tried to pick up the pace.  It wasn't what I had hoped for, but was probably my best run in a sprint to date.  I won't complain too much.  Oh, except about that hill...again....coming in to the the final 3/4 mile.  Uphill....but then a nice downhill to a flat finish line.

    I realized (again) after the race that sprints are hard.  I feel like I can't catch my breath for the entire race.  It starts on the swim, with me gasping on every stroke.  Then just when I feel like I can find a small groove, it's time to pop up and run into transition.  Just when I feel my bike legs coming around...off the bike and run again.  Then just warm up the run legs, and it's time to stop.  Everything is HARD effort, which I guess is the definition of "sprint".   But then afterward, the high kicks in and I'm ready so sign up for another one. Go figure.

    Now it's time to get back at the training.  And Coach Liz says we have plenty of time to find the bike HURT before the next race.  Joy.

    Swim: 6:06
    T1:     1:14
    Bike: 36:55 (yes, this includes running both up/down that blasted hill)
    T2:      1:25
    Run:  27:28

    More good:  4th in my AG (and not out of 4 like I suspected, but out of 20! woot!) and some of the fastest transitions out there (*the* fastest T1 thankyouverymuch). Too bad they don't give awards for transitions...I'd be golden. 

    Lastly....more bad:  The bottoms of my feet are totally bruised from that stupid path. Ouch.