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.  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'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 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 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, 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.
  • 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. :)