Friday, April 29, 2005

Our local birds

I've enjoyed the local photos so much that Linda has posted, I wanted to share some of our local birds that I spotted today on my short run. I love to try to spot unusual birds when I run - it's one of those things that I would rarely enjoy if I weren't getting outside most days for a workout. Unfortunately my good camera with the zoom lens is broken, so I'm borrowing some photos of birds that are similar to the ones that I saw today. Thank you! I'm not positive these are the exact varieties that live around here in northern Virginia urban areas, but they're close enough for my purposes. While they're not Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, we enjoy them.

kingfisherA kingfisher like this was sitting on a branch just above the Four Mile Run creek that I usually run along. As he flew away he made the chattering call that you can hear if you go to the Texas Education Agency site where this photo resides, and click on it. I very rarely see these, but when I do I always think they're blue jays at first since they're just about the same size and close to the same color, but their brilliant white necklaces are unmistakeable. They always hang out near the water and fly along the creek looking for fish.

golfinchI've been seeing lots of these little goldfinches lately. Their brilliant color is easy to spot, especially before the tree leaves have filled out this time of year. This photo is from a bird lover's site with gorgeous photos called joannesbackyard. They always fly away from me too quickly to watch them for long, though.

I got one of the good ones

My husband wrote me from his workplace this afternoon:

"Dear Wife,
Today has coasted to a stop -- want me to come home so you can swim?"

Isn't that sweet?

Actually, I think I'm going out for a short tempo run instead - to loosen up my legs a little and remind them of what they're going to have to do in the half marathon on Sunday. (Ugh, I just read the fine print - it's got a 7-fricking-AM start time). I'd go cycling, but it's a little chillier (58*F) than I like for that!

Thanks for the good wishes for Sunday, everyone! Best wishes to you all too for a great weekend - especially Tri-Geek Kahuna, Robo-Stu and Head Doc at the Wildflower triathlon!


I got in a 5K run, but it felt slow and clumsy and difficult. You know how non-runners always ask (when they're trying to feign interest) about how many miles your next marathon will be? I have a feeling that this half marathon may be one of those exceptionally LOOONNNNNGG ones.

TV time

I'm scheduled to do a half marathon on Sunday morning between Alexandria, Virginia and the Mount Vernon estate, the Potomac River Run Half Marathon. It goes along the banks of the river on a paved multi-use trail. It's basically the same course as the Belle Haven 25K that I did in February. My running has been skimpy lately in favor of working on my swimming and cycling, and it's a hilly course, so I'm not expecting any world-beater times, just a long supported training run.

I'll get psyched up by watching the broadcast of MYSELF in the 2005 Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in Washington, DC on Saturday, April 30, from 2:30-3:00PM on OLNTV (my favorite channel). Well, I probably won't be shown in the broadcast, but it was a great race. Watch the runners battle some substantial winds on the course.

Then I'll have an opportunity after my race to recover in front of the TV on Sunday afternoon.

marathonMy first pick will be the 2004 Hawaii Ironman triathlon re-broadcast from 4 to 6 PM on NBC. However, I'd also like to see the Dodge Tour de Georgia which is being shown on OLNTV from 5 to 7 PM. This is a serious conflict.

I'm also delighted to see that OLNTV will also be broadcasting the Giro d'Italia starting on May 7, 5 to 7 PM. It looks like the Giro has a great website, but only available in Italian and French. I'll have to depend on Phil Liggett (my favorite sports commentator of all time).

I don't follow any major-league sports (and don't even get me started ranting about the disgraceful drug use in American baseball), but watching triathlon and cycling inspires me. I like to save up my programs for rainy-day viewing and fast-forwarding through the commercials. Maybe it's time to buy a TiVo?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Marathon demographics and treadmill training

marathonThe Road Running Information Center reports continued growth of marathoning in the US in 2004. Women represent 40% of marathon runners, the same as 2002. Median age has also remained steady at 37. Median finishing chip time for all marathon finishes was 4:50 for women and 4:18 for men. Races vary considerably, of course - median finishing time for Los Angeles was 5:53 and Honolulu was 5:42; while Cleveland was 4:05 (but will have an 8 hour time limit on course for 2005) and Philadelphia was 4:04. New York (36,562) and Chicago (33,125 including ME) were the year's biggest marathons by far - the next nearest contender was Honolulu (22,407). My local race, the Marine Corps Marathon, was 7th on the list at 16,424 finishers, but they will be shaking up the rankings a bit in 2005 by admitting 30,000 runners in their 30th year.

My marathons planned for this fall, by the way, are the Baltimore Marathon on October 15, 2005 (actually more of a long supported training run) followed by my trip to the Big Apple: New York City Marathon on November 6, 2005. Will you be there with me?

Another interesting piece details the participation trends in the running industry. Something like 4.2 million American women run 100 days per year or more. I'm not sure if I had 100 running days last year to be counted among those numbers, but I probably did close to it.

For those in training for a marathon, and putting in some considerable miles on a treadmill (NOT me - treadmills are my very last resort for training), Lynne Durham at je cours has offered some excellent advice on approaches to training on the treadmill and how to combat that evil treadmill boredom.

Bike disorders

Spent a while this morning troubleshooting some bike problems that cropped up yesterday.

Problem 1. I snapped off the top of the Presta valve on the back tire while pumping it up. Fortunately it held the air that I had just put in, enough for me to complete a 10-mile ride last night. As soon as I re-checked it today, big WHOOOSH! And flat.
Problem 2. The bike computer that I just bought with the bike at the end of February isn't working. The speed sensor on the front tire isn't being picked up at all. But the cadence sensor IS working.
Problem 3. The new saddle and helmet that I ordered on sale hasn't arrived.

Fortunately I didn't have all the problems that VJ is experiencing! Thanks to the Bike Maintenance Class that I took recently, I was able to solve one of the problems.

Problem 1 solved: I changed the back tire tube. While it took me about 20 minutes to do the job, I could probably whittle that down to a speedy 18 or 19 minutes if I had to do it on a triathlon course now. ;-) Hopefully the tri-gods will smile on me and that won't happen, though.

Problem 2 unsolved: I re-adjusted the front wheel sensors and wiring about six different times, with no joy. I need to take the bike back into the shop for a checkup and general free adjustments before the Columbia Triathlon on May 22nd anyway - so I'll have them fix or replace the bike computer then. Eeek, 24 days away! I'll try to do that on Saturday, maybe.

Problem 3 unsolved: After much research, including a phone call to the vendor, I couldn't find evidence of the order I thought I placed anywhere. I'm not sure where I lost it, but now the items I thought I ordered are no longer on sale. :-( Perhaps I'll see if I can get by with my current equipment a while longer.

The nice thing about running (compared to biking or swimming) is that it's so simple: all you need is shoes. And some crazy people not even those!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I can't believe what I just read

drowning"So what if Wil and Nancy drown?", said Rett, the White Salamander, over at Zack's Shack. On Wil's birthday, even, of all days. (Happy birthday, by the way, Wil).

*choked sob*

Then he tried to backpedal with "Oh, wait I guess I would miss reading their blogs."

It's a good thing I'm a careful reader. I just hope that we don't ever swim in the same wave one day. Or that I swim in a wave in front of him, when I'm bound to still be in the water long after he exits. After swimming at a freakishly high rate of speed over my sad bloated corpse.

I think I may have to take this one up with the Kahuna (after his return from Wildflower - good luck!). Maybe even file a formal diplomatic protest at the General Assembly of the Tri Blog Alliance. Or shall I defend our honor and counter this grievous affront by calling him out for derringers at twenty paces?

Or perhaps we should just take it on over to Googlefight and duke it out, mano a mano. (Hint: go over there and type in Nancy vs. Rett.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Our family home for a week

Minnie In a little over a week we will be heading on a road trip to New Jersey and New Hampshire. This is the vehicle we've rented for the trip - a 24-foot "Minnie" Winnebago. I'm looking forward to the adventure! In my travels (around most of the US, Europe and Australia) I've always packed a little heavily but often stayed the night under somewhat rougher conditions in a tent, hostels, or my old truck. We're still trying to figure out where our two girls will sleep, but it probably will involve bringing the two folding cribs so they can't get into too much mischief. FloorplanI'm still hoping for some good recommendations from my friend Ellie who just retired into an RV full time with her husband last year! I know I won't get in much training time on the road, so I'm trying to get a little ahead in my training this week, if that's possible. I also have to work on not getting an inferiority complex about Tri-geek's rig for Wildflower....

USDA Dietary Recommendations

USDA Pyramid
After considering the four healthy lifestyle recommendations yesterday, I thought I'd take a look at what the USDA now recommends in my diet.

I have to say I'm not fond of the new food pyramid. After years of working in academia and the federal goverment, I know that this represents the best current scientific recommendations we have, and it's terribly difficult to produce anything like this that has to go through umpteen layers of bureaucracy, get passed by a bazillion reviewers and stand up to the merciless scrutiny of the food industry lobbyists. Nevertheless, this bears all the hallmarks of being produced by a committee. It has no intrinsic meaning when you look at it - how would anyone know that this had to do with FOOD? What does the orange segment mean? The blue segment - blue FOOD? And what's with the pointy things for hands and feet - some new government disability initiative? And why is one pointy foot poking into a riser instead of a step? But that aside....

Their personalized recommendations for my diet are as follows:

Based on the information you provided and the average needs for your age, gender and physical activity [Age: 47, Sex: female, Physical Activity: 30 to 60 Minutes] your results indicate that you should eat these amounts from the following food groups daily.
Your results are based on a 2000 calorie pattern*.

Grains: 6 ounces

Vegetables: 2.5 cups
Fruits: 2 cups
Milk: 3 cups
Meat & Beans: 5.5 ounces

Make Half Your Grains Whole - Aim for at least 3 whole grains a day
Vary Your Veggies - Aim for this much every week:
  • Dark Green Vegetables = 3 cups weekly
  • Orange Vegetables = 2 cups weekly
  • Dry Beans & Peas = 3 cups weekly
  • Starchy Vegetables = 3 cups weekly
  • Other Vegetables = 6 1/2 cups weekly

Oils & Discretionary Calories - Aim for 6 teaspoons of oils a day
Limit your extras (extra fats & sugars) to 265 Calories

I think these are somewhat helpful guidelines, but I'm pretty certain that I'm not eating anywhere near the vegetables they recommend. I can say right now that my diet has never been real strong on bok choi, tofu, hubbard squash (WTF is that?), wax beans, or kale. Probably it never will be. Actually, I'm not even sure if they sell those things at the local 7-11. Do you think a Slurpee or strawberry Twizzlers counts as a fruit? ;-)

Me and Buttercup

Me and Buttercup

Here are me and Buttercup on a screaming downhill on the CAN Triathlon course on April 17. We are having SOME KIND OF FUN!!! (Yes, I'll scan the photo and re-post it after I receive the print I purchased).





My girls

playgroundHere are my girls Elisabeth (lavender jacket) and Catherine (red jacket) at the playground we always go to in the double jogstroller. They're always happy to arrive. Leaving the park often entails a screaming and kicking tantrum, but I guess that just means they liked their visit so much they hate to leave.

two cutiesElisabeth on the left, Catherine on the right. Curly and straight, quiet and noisy. I caught them after their bath engaging in some weird twin tongue-licking ritual. I don't have any idea what that was about, but I think it made a cute pic.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Are you in the healthy 3%?

A survey by Michigan State researchers finds that only three percent of Americans regularly follow four basic recommendations for good health:
  • Don't smoke
  • Eat well (at least 5 fruits and vegetables per day)
  • Exercise regularly (30+ minutes 5+ times per week)
  • Maintain a healthy weight (BMI 18.5 - 25.0).
I can't say that I'm in that elite three percent yet, but I'm working on it. Nope, I don't smoke. There are days in which I make crappy food choices, at the expense of healthier selections. While my workouts always take more than thirty minutes, I take more than two rest days per week fairly frequently. "Uh, I'm tapering. Yeah. Errr, I mean, I'm recovering. Whatever." And as for that BMI thing, well, let's just say it's a work-in-progress. This does give me some good thoughts on what to prioritize!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Wrapping up the Passover weekend

8:15 on Sunday night - the weekend is coming to a close, and it's been a busy one! I can't say I got in too much actual exercise, however.

Grandpa Toby came to visit with his "girlfriend" Blanche, and we made a seder last night to celebrate Passover. Now, I really am fairly clueless when it comes to Jewish traditions, since I was raised Protestant, but I made a stab at preparing the meal. I didn't even attempt to make an actual kosher meal (since none of us keeps kosher anyway), but just tried to make a nice holiday meal and served it on the good old chipped china. On the menu was lots of wine (traditionally four glasses of wine are drunk with the meal), some pre-dinner munchies (mixed nuts, apricots, carrots, celery, matzoh, haroset, and a selection of cheeses), matzoh ball soup from a Manishewitz mix (that turned out amazingly good), mixed green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, baked potatoes, asparagus, grilled tuna with wasabi, and an enormous cheesecake with fresh raspberries for dessert. Everything turned out yummy and we enjoyed the evening. Maybe next year at almost three years old the girls will be able to ask the traditional "four questions" with sufficient coaching - this time, fortunately, they slept through it. Raising these girls is an evolving process, but they're going to probably be - what's the word I should use? Multi-faceted(?). I'm planning on celebrating ALL the holidays we can! Though I should add that I really favor those traditions that encourage children to actually ask questions, as opposed to swearing belief in dogma, supernatural events, and far-fetched "miracles".

The right side of my lower back had been quite painful Friday night and Saturday morning after my long swim on Friday morning, so I think I needed a couple days off. I believe it originated from a) turning my head almost exclusively to the right side to breathe; b) arching my back and lifting my head to breathe instead of using better form in rolling my body; and c) doing a little too much too soon. I'm going to try to prevent it by a) working on bilateral breathing; b) improving my form in the water and using a body roll to breathe rather than so much head/neck turning; c) abdominal strengthening (sigh); and d) swimming more regularly. Let's see if that helps. Any other ideas for me?

Today my only exercise was pushing the girls in the double babyjogger to the park with Grandpa and later a few running laps of the track at the school, which I happily quit as soon as it started to sprinkle. Call me a wimp. Back to the training schedule on Monday. Half marathon next Sunday.

Friday, April 22, 2005


I talk to myself all the time. We all do. Usually my lips don't move, thankfully. I especially do this during workouts. I commented about this on Wil's great blog, and she said it bore repeating, so here it is:

I've learned that positive self-talk is critical. I can talk myself into something, or out of it, pretty readily.

The content of what I say to myself MATTERS, and I have the ability to control that internal dialogue. It affects what I do or don't do. So I have learned to use it as a tool, to positively influence my workouts and level of effort. Putting it another way, tell yourself you can or you can't, and either way you're probably right.

I think that I learned (or re-learned) that from my dear friend Kathy F., the intrepid cancer survivor and auntie to my girls (among other things). Thanks, Kathy. As always, you rock.

Totally unrelated fun link of the day: Terra-server USA. It's fun to look up places you used to live, or browse through the satellite images of famous places. However, it's a little unnerving to see that practically anyone can tell the color and model of the car sitting outside your house from a satellite photo. Of course, they can also do that by simply driving past your house, but still....

That scary half Ironman swim

One of the things oppressively hanging over my head these days is the thought of that Half Ironman swim I have coming up in seven weeks. That scares me! Eeek, 51 days from today I'm scheduled to swim ONE-POINT-TWO FRIGGIN' MILES! I'm nervous about swimming in open water, I'm nervous about swimming in the brackish Choptank River water, I'm nervous about swimming in black water, I'm nervous about the effects of wayward elbows and feet of fellow swimmers, but most of all - because of my slowness at swimming - I'm nervous about that cutoff. The race site says: "All triathletes must be capable of swimming at a 50 min/mile pace" - uh, yeah, I can swim that pace for a pool length or two. "Swim cut-off is at 1hr/10min. and will be enforced". Uh oh. I'm in trouble. Big trouble.

So today I set out to test myself. 40 lengths of the pool was the goal - let's just see how long it takes. Back and forth, back and forth I went. 3 or 4 laps in breaststroke, just for variety, but mostly freestyle. I did a few lengths bilateral breathing every 3rd stroke; a few lengths breathing every 6th stroke, stopped a couple of times to cough; but mostly tried to maintain my regular freestyle breathing on my right side every 4th stroke. Nothing fancy, just back and forth, back and forth. The water aerobics got underway and I watched their legs underwater, hopping around, for a little entertainment.

Finally I got there - the lap counter on my watch read 40, and the time said 1:08:35. YAY! I CAN DO IT!! Especially with a little help from an outgoing tide (hopefully) and a wetsuit!

But then after I got out of the pool I realized my old lap-counting disorder was cropping up again. Looking at the splits from the comfort of the hot tub, two laps were short, and I realized that I must have hit the watch an extra time at the wrong end of the pool. Damn, I really only swam 39 laps. *sigh* I halfway considered getting back in the pool for one more lap, and then decided that was way too anal.

But when I got home and checked the distances and converted it into yards and miles - YAY! 1950 meters is exactly 1.21 miles! I DID IT UNDER 1:10!!! I CAN MAKE THAT CUTOFF!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Bugger blogger

BAH, blogger and blogspot are acting flaky again today. I tried to leave comments on a few of my favorite blogs in the last few minutes and ended up with gruesome error messages. Just know I'm stopping in to visit now and then, fellow bloggers, and your words DO inspire me!

My interesting link of the day is the Webby Awards site. I've been browsing around some of their nominees - some extremely interesting sites to look through that I otherwise wouldn't have seen. An especially poignant nominee is Silent Witness: The Story of Lola Rein and Her Dress from the US Holocaust Museum.

Grrrls ride caboose to caboose

bikergirlsYesterday I went on a lovely bike ride along the W&OD Trail with my triathlete friend Holly. It was perfect weather and a perfect outing! Holly picked me up at the Bluemont caboose after cycling all the way to work in DC and back, and then we went up the trail to the Vienna caboose to pick up her friend Keri, and then they did the return trip to Bluemont with me. The weather was gorgeous and it was SO fun to have some cycling companions to ride with! On the way back I played Tail End Charlie and drafted and coasted the whole way, so I hardly feel justified putting the whole 23 miles on my training log.

At one point we passed a field of boys playing soccer and they let a couple of the soccer balls roll across the trail. Buttercup got her dander up, took on the challenge, maneuvered her front tire squarely behind one of the balls and *pop* shot it cleanly forward about 50 yards. If we had been on the soccer field, I'm sure she would have scored a goal! She is quite a multi-talented athlete, indeed!

It was great to see Holly and get some triathlon fashion advice from an experienced competitor. She was wearing the coolest Bike Virginia jersey - I want one! She's a seasoned cyclist - I was very envious when she did the Tour de Alps last year. I was hoping to do the Columbia Triathlon next month with her, but she's going to be starting treatments for her recently-diagnosed melanoma and may not be feeling well enough to race. :( She has such a fantastic attitude and has an amazingly strong spirit, I know she's going to beat this thing! I hope she starts a blog to keep us all updated on how things are going! Holly, I know you're listening! Good luck next weekend!

My girls. Elisabeth is starting to toddle like a champ now - 8 to 10 feet at a stretch! What's wonderful to watch is how incredibly proud she is of her accomplishments - her elfin smile will light up the whole room. Catherine is working on saying new words (verbally or in sign language) just about every day. Yesterday Steve was wearing a shirt with a Kliban cat on it and she made the "cat" sign at him - stroking her whiskers. This coming weekend they get to visit with Grandfather Toby and show off their accomplishments while I figure out how to cook their first Passover meal. This should be interesting! And no, it's not going to be kosher - that's just too much work!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

CAN Triathlon timing results

Finally (two days late) I found this:
381 KW24017 Nancy Toby T 0:17:10 0:38:44 0:28:22 1:24:16

I guess, sorting through all my available data, it means:
Swim 500 yards (plus pool transit time plus my few laps extra): 17:10
(Swim watch time for my first 10 laps: 12:32)
T1: 6:23 (by my watch, not counted officially)
Bike 10+ miles: 38:44
T2: 4:54 (by my watch, not counted officially)
Run 2.5 miles: 28:22
Total Swim + Bike + Run: 1:24:16
Total with transitions: ~1:35

Swim pace: 2:30.4/100 yards (uh, for those first 10 laps)
Bike pace: 15.49 mph
Run pace: 11:20 min/mile
Transitions: sluglike

I'm just recording this here so that I can see how I compare in my next triathlon on May 22nd. Naturally, I'd like to see some improvement as my season progresses! No sorted data or rankings available yet to see how I compared last Sunday with others in my age group, not that it really matters.

Rest day is SO over!

Back at it this morning! 4 easy recovery miles jogging along the W&OD Trail and the Four Mile Run trail. A few robins and cardinals flitted about, the emerging leaves filled the woods with brilliant green, and the stream burbled along. The tulips and grape hyacinth are in full bloom, along with the pansies, and some unidentified flowering trees (UFTs). Our pink dogwood is just starting to pop. The scary immigrant guys still congregated under the bridge as always, smoking pot, but didn't bother me much on such a beautiful day. I thought about the old days when a four mile outing would have had me sore and resting for four days, but today it just seemed like a normal pretty day enjoying the trail.

Admittedly, I spent most of yesterday on the couch in front of the TV with the laptop, but it was an excellent day for it!

First I watched Catherine Ndereba's inspiring come-from-behind victory in the Boston Marathon, while checking the online splits for several folks I know online from various email lists. Bravo, OLN, for excellent TV coverage of the women's race! From the weather reports it sounded like one of those bright days that is delightful for spectators, but after you've run a dozen miles in it, the sun feels blistering hot and the winds feel like a relentless blast furnace in your face. John Kerry's daughter Vanessa ran an impressive 3:31. One by one they finally came in: Lee Crumbaugh, April Peerless, Bob Mina, David Jones, Barbara Grandberg ... but I waited and waited for results for Eric Bruce and IRONM4N Shelley, to no avail - I think they must have had a rather miserable day. Later I heard Eric made it in about 5:50 with a painful foot. :( No report either from that wacky Dave Decker, who had planned to run from the finish to get to the start, and then turn around and do it again. Go figure. There's always an interesting story from every runner on a marathon course!

Then I watched the telecast of Lance Armstrong's announcement of his retirement at the end of the Tour de France next July 24, "win or lose" - after a full hour of the "Lance Chronicles" padding that OLN used to kill time. Actually I would have rather heard some of the interviews with the riders in the Tour de Georgia, like Bobby Julich, who was seen taking interview questions looking a little scruffy (somebody give that boy an electric razor!), but none of it could be heard.

Then the sad news arrived that Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton has been handed a 2-year suspension. There are still a lot of unanswered questions floating around in this first-ever USADA sanction for blood doping, and I still like Tyler. The dissenting opinion (at the end of the ruling) is well worth reading in this case. If he's guilty, he can sure fake sincerity and bewilderment better than anyone I've ever seen.

I sure wish Lance and Tyler would take up triathlon (again). Wouldn't THAT be a hoot, going out on the same course as those two!? That's one thing that's fun about going out in road races and triathlons - I'm actually competing with the elites! Now, granted, I have always lost hugely so far and I'm out on the course usually more than twice as long, but there's always that possibility at the next race....

And as I write this the news arrived that there is a new Pope in the world. Interesting times we live in.

Over two days and still no official timing results whatsoever from the CAN Triathlon. Definitely NOT a good thing.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

COLD! Sprint tri race report

CANBrrrr! I just finished up my first little sprint tri of the season - the Cure Autism Now Triathlon in Bethesda, Maryland - and I had a lot of fun, even though I FROZE! It didn't get over 60*F!

I feel good about my effort and paces, and my supplies and organization. I majorly screwed up my timing, though - and ended up (I think) swimming 12 or 13 laps instead of 10, because I missed a few lap counter hits on my watch and I was relying on it instead of counting laps in my head! DUH! I'll have to check the official times when they're posted. But it doesn't really matter, this was just a practice tri for me (and for most participants) to start the season anyways.

Swim (supposed to be 500 yards) felt reasonably good - especially since it was in a toasty warm pool and we had all been waiting to go in at 7AM in 45*F with teeth chattering! My hands finally warmed up after about 5 laps. I think my overall pace was about 2:30/100 yards, which is fast for me (all open turns in a 25yd pool). I was hyperventilating a little (with no warmup at all) and just kept working on relaxing while having to take one breath per stroke, but I was still able to maintain a freestyle stroke the whole time (instead of bailing out to breaststroke as I have in the past). It was the honor system for participants to count their own laps - so I was extra-honorable. ;) The swim time counted all the way from entering the pool area to exiting, and they forbade running in the pool area, so the reported times will be a bit generous for everyone.

T1 was slow - 6:23 by my watch, but I didn't rush because transition times weren't being officially counted anyway. No errors, and no, I didn't take a nap - just used a little extra time to dry off a little, get my bike shoes on, pull on armwarmers (GLAD I brought those at the last minute!), helmet, and sunglasses; and get the bike out of the crowded transition area safely.

The bike leg went well! 3 hilly laps around the National Institutes of Health campus for 10 miles. Actually my bike computer read 10.5 miles, but that's okay. My overall pace was something like 15.3 mph, and I got over 33 mph on the Big Screaming Downhill we repeated three times (as fast as I dared, with a sharp turn at the bottom). Wheeee! We paid for it with long slow climbs the rest of the way around each lap.

T2 was slow again (I missed the exact time), switching to running shoes, and politely-as-I-could informing some guy who showed up late that he had taken my bike rack spot (fairly obvious, since he hung his bike right above my gear that was all laid out on a towel).

I'm not sure of my time on the run (2.5 miles), since I didn't get a T2 split, but I think my pace was between 11 and 12 min/mile. My hips felt stiff and my stride felt short and choppy, so it wasn't exactly a "sprint", but I maintained a reasonable jog most of the way through a hilly residential neighborhood.

Final time on my watch was 1:35:19, a little over my original goal of 90 minutes, but considering my crazy swim issues and casually-slow transitions, I'm happy with that.

As soon as I got back from the run, I had to immediately bundle up again in a sweatshirt and polartec shirt, and didn't really warm up again until I got in my hot bathtub at home! Now I'm ready for that nap! Those 4AM wakeup alarms come early!

It was a GREAT rehearsal and confidence-builder for the next two bigger triathlons that I have coming up in May and June - an Olympic distance and a Half Ironman distance. I felt a little dumb when I looked at my splits on my watch and realized what happened to my swim, but I think it's kind of funny, too. I needed a little longer swim workout, anyway, and I won't have to worry about counting laps in my upcoming open water swims! Live and learn!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Congratulations Ian!!

MdSCongratulations to Ian Wright for his finish of the grueling Marathon des Sables in Morocco. We applaud his tenacious performance and salute his efforts! Here are his final results (in French):

Classement général (overall placement)


Classement de l'étape 1


Classement de l'étape 2


Classement de l'étape 3


Classement de l'étape 4


Classement de l'étape 5


Classement de l'étape 6
453 692 WRIGHT Ian H GB
02H43'13" 1H25'22"

Salt replenishment to prevent hyponatremia

saltThese days there is suddenly a lot of talk of hyponatremia in endurance events, and some people advocate drinking less fluid. Why not instead adequately address the sodium losses and prevent both dehydration and hyponatremia?

Sodium losses? Sodium replenishment? Of course, these vary *considerably* from one person to the next, but let's just work through a fairly typical example.

Let's do the math for, say, an event involving some prolonged exertion in warm temperatures - perhaps a marathon or a cycle trip or a half ironman triathlon taking 5 hours. Typical sodium losses in sweat during exercise are 1300 mg/hr. 5 hours * 1300 mg sodium per hour = 6500 mg sodium excreted in sweat (and possibly urine as well) in 5 hours. This is a typical deficit experienced in 5 hours if there is no replenishment.

How do people often go about trying to replenish salt losses? Some sports drink, perhaps some sports gels, maybe some orange slices or bananas. Let's see what a typical mix might provide in the way of sodium replenishment (using typical sodium contents of various items):

5 sports gels at ~50 mg sodium/serving = 250 mg sodium
24 ounces sports drink at ~15 mg sodium/fluid ounce = 360 mg sodium
1/2 banana = ~1 mg sodium
1/2 orange = ~1 mg sodium
64 fluid ounces tap water = 40 mg sodium
Total intake of sodium from all above sources: 652 mg sodium intake

Sodium deficit: 6500 mg sodium excreted - 652 mg sodium intake = 5848 mg sodium deficit

Some people eat a few potato chips or pretzels to attempt to address this sodium deficit, but while they may taste good, even a full ounce of pretzels offers only 500-600mg of sodium, and potato chips less than half as much.

Sodium is 39% of the weight of table salt, so replacing 5848 mg of sodium would require a larger quantity of table salt to replenish: 5848 mg sodium * 100 mg table salt/39 mg sodium = 14,994 mg table salt or about 15 grams of salt.

One teaspoon of salt weighs about 6 grams, so it takes about 15/6 or about 2 1/2 teaspoons of table salt to replace the sodium deficit incurred in 5 hours of exercise with typical sources of sodium replacement.

Is it any wonder that more than 1 out of every 8 marathon runners is experiencing clinical hyponatremia at the finish line? If you're experiencing adverse symptoms in the latter part of endurance events such as dizziness, disorientation, acute nausea, muscle cramping, bloating/sloshing, finger swelling, or foot swelling/blistering, you may be one of them.

One simple way to replace these sodium deficits with minimal stomach upset is to replenish sodium with a buffered electrolyte replacement - one popular brand Succeed provides 344 mg sodium per capsule. (Another popular brand is called Thermotabs). While it would take 17 Succeed capsules to completely replenish the 5848 mg sodium deficit, the simple expedient of taking just one every 30 minutes (10 total during a 5-hour event) would replace well over half the sodium deficit and likely prevent serious hyponatremia symptoms in most athletes. Why not give it a try?

Friday, April 15, 2005

Baby brick

In my excitement over Shelley's Kona entry and waiting for Ian to report from the penultimate stage of the Marathon des Sables today (he survived to take on the final 20km leg tomorrow!), I forgot to report on my workout.
  • 3 miles on the treadmill (2 miles run, 1 mile walk) to briefly wake up my legs. The guy next to me was doing some wild stuff - cranking it up to over 9 mph for a little "jog"; then slowing it down to 4 mph - and turning around to walk backwards. Huh.
  • 1000m in the pool, all freestyle, including my first 500m ever under 15 minutes, without really pushing.

Tomorrow I rest and pack up all my gear, working from my triathlon packing list; and on Sunday I HAVE FUN at my first sprint triathlon of the season. I'm looking forward to it!

Then I'll come home and look to see if *jeanne's* results from the New Jersey Marathon are posted on Sunday night. Then on Monday I get to relax and recover at home while I watch the Boston Marathon and keep an eye on the intermediate splits for Shelley and a bunch of other running friends! So far the weather forecasts for the northeast look a bit warm - 68-70*F and sunny - let's hope for cooler-than-predicted weather for them, light winds, and fine racing for anyone else out there this weekend!

And how will YOU enjoy the weekend? It sounds like our White Salamander friend will be up to no good.... ;)

Congratulations Shelley!

Today announced the winners of the lottery for entry into the Ironman World Championship in KONA. And whose name should appear on the list but fellow TRI-DRS member, Tri Blog Alliance member extraordinaire, and 2005 Boston Marathon runner, Shelley, aka IRONM4N! (In fact, she may not even know of her good fortune yet, since she's currently on her way traveling to Boston).


And good luck on Monday in your first training race for KONA!

Some people have all the luck (and commitment, and effort, and talent). :)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

On a more serious note....

Two interesting online articles from Physican and Sportsmedicine for those with a technical bent:

Emergency Triage of Collapsed Endurance Athletes
A Stepwise Approach to On-Site Treatment
LTC Fred H. Brennan, Jr, DO; COL Francis G. O'Connor, MD

When and Whom to Stretch?
Gauging the Benefits and Drawbacks for Individual Patients
Ian Shrier, MD, PhD

There's a lot of talk about hydration and hyponatremia on the various lists due to some newspaper articles out on the subject now. I'll rant at length about electrolytes at some later date, but until then, keep up your hydration but at the same time (they talk about this aspect far too little): replenish, replenish, replenish your sodium and potassium!

Catherine's gift

Another Proud Mom story. Skip if you're easily bored, or grossed out.

I come into the living room where Catherine has been playing in the big pen (a huge corral of gates we made for the girls). She has been lying on the carpet playing with toys. She stands up when she sees me to bring over to me some little morsel which she has picked off the carpet, and delivers into my palm with great dexterity her gift.

[Me]: "Oh, thank you, Catherine!"

I stare at the little green gooey thing in my palm.

[Me]: "Um, where did you find that, Catherine? Was it in your nose?"

Catherine points at her nose, smiles proudly, and toddles away.

(Me, thinking: It could have been worse. It could have been from Elisabeth's nose, instead.)

Triathlon Packing List

This will probably be a post-in-progress that I will edit from time to time, but here is a working draft of my personal triathlon packing list (will vary somewhat for sprint to longer distance races). Please offer any suggestions you might have!

Race information
Map to start
Extra keys (?)
Bike lock (?)
Sports Drink
Water Bottles (full)
Pre-race food (?)
Tire pump
Extra bike tools/cartridges
Ponytail holders
Heart rate meter (?)
Crate/transition bag
Misc. plastic bags

2 towels (bright color to spot)
Trisuit/jogbra and shorts
Wetsuit (?), PAM (wetsuit lube)
Swim cap (?)

Race number/holder
Helmet with number
Wrap sunglasses
Bike/full fluid bottles
Bike shoes
Bike gloves (?)
Seatpost pack (check supplies)
Energy bars (?)
Electrolyte caps
Cycling socks
Cycling jersey (?)
Insect repellent

Running shoes/RoadID
Extra running socks
Nylon socks
Baby oil gel (lube of choice)
Extra sunglasses
Dry Coolmax shirt (?)


Comic relief

Normally I don't pass along Internet jokes and stuff like that, but here are a couple of pretty good ones I enjoyed:

I first saw this funny animation from Brooks on Heather's blog: RunWorldRun

This selection of dietary delights and the accompanying descriptions made me laugh out loud.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


That's the sound of a Happy Crotch. :) YES, the old comfortable bike saddle worked perfectly on Buttercup when I took her out for a spin tonight. YAY! YAY! YAY! I did order a new one on sale at Performance Bicycle today, along with a new red helmet, but I think the old comfortable saddle is going to work great too on either my old bike trainer bike or Buttercup.

I got in 12.1 miles on the W&OD Trail and despite several stops and hordes of people and dogs and children on the trail, I averaged 13.2 mph. The best part was when I found myself actually exceeding 16 mph going UPHILL at one point. Granted, it was not a steep hill, but still. Or maybe the best part was when I received my second "Nice bike!" comment at a stop light. Or maybe the best part was when I got off and it didn't feel like I had been sitting on razorblades the whole ride.

It was a Great Ride, in any event. I'm feeling fairly well-prepared for my sprint triathlon on Sunday! Tomorrow I work on my Triathlon Packing List.

Quick hillwork

brickMy husband came home for lunch today, which allowed me THIRTY GOLDEN MINUTES to escape my babies and get outside on this beautiful day to "enjoy" a quick little workout. I had swapped out the evil new knife-edge bike saddle, and need to road-test the more comfortable old one that I put on Buttercup. However, I need more time for that ride.

I opted for a quick series of hill repeats up the quarter-mile hill by our place. It's steep. It's steep enough that I have never yet been able to cycle up it, nor run up it without doing a significant amount of walking. History tells me that four repeats of the hill climb is enough to give me a seriously Sore Butt. So off I went.

1. First attempt, walking as a warmup. I smile when I notice there are Hash House Harrier Marks in purple chalk: a series of -+-+-+-> leading up the hill. Somebody who laid this trail is Pure Evil. I laugh out loud when I get to the top of the hill and notice the reward for the harriers who made it to the top: "Beer Near!" 3:42 split.

2. I try to jog up it, taking teensy tiny steps, and I'm forced to walk by halfway up. 3:01 split.

3. I try to jog again, keeping the pace relaxed from the start. I walk, but pick up a jog again, working hard toward the top. 3:01 again, dammit.

4. I'm slowing down now. I try power-walking the second half of the hill, to see how much time I actually lose. Only 15 seconds: 3:16.

My fat butt is going to hurt tomorrow. Note to self: Add "jog up entire hill without walking" to list of 2005 goals.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Pre-race jitters, anyone?

My friend *jeanne* (remember her?) is having a little case of the pre-race jitters before the New Jersey Marathon this coming weekend. She says, and I quote verbatim:
"I am currently in the state of abject I CANNOT Do A Marathon This Weekend Terror. Everything hurts. Everything is twitching and pinging and twingeing and aching ... DNF DNF DNF ... downpours sunstroke heartattackstressfracture SWEEPWAGONSTERROR"
Why does this sound so familiar to me!?

Actually, she is an experienced runner and a very competent marathoner (as well as lots of fun) so (after I finished laughing at her) I told her: "YOU. WILL. BE. FINE."

Maybe it's just because she's from New Jersey originally?

Any other words of wisdom for her, other than "Be sure to tie your shoelaces"?

Words to the wise

Here are Ten Reasons Not To Run the London Marathon, but they apply equally well to any old garden-variety marathon. Heck, some of the reasons even apply to some of my 10km runs.

Here's a swimming event that I'd recommend avoiding, too: 24 miles in Tampa Bay. I have a hard enough time doing 24 miles on my feet.

16:59 Ironman?

There's a thread going on about those who do a 16:59 Ironman. What are your thoughts about those final finisher folks? C'mon, be honest.

Now I have to admit a little prejudice in this department, as a slower-than-average runner. And an exceptionally slow swimmer. And a slow-but-getting-faster cyclist, thanks to the sprightly assistance of the intrepid Buttercup. My first two marathons ended with finish times over 7 hours. No, not mountain trail marathons, or Sahara Desert marathons - just plain old road marathons (Myrtle Beach and Maui in 2001). These days I'm still delighted to finish barely under 6 hours (Chicago and Richmond in 2004), about an hour slower than the average female marathoner in the USA (median finish time 4:52 - 4:56).

I would LOVE to do a 16:59 Ironman, myself. Anything before that horrible no-medal DNF cutoff - anything but 17:01!!! Two of my time goals for this year are to finish my first Olympic triathlon (Columbia on May 22) and my first Half Ironman (Eagleman on June 12). I want them to be happy, fun experiences, not filled with time-pressure and frantic flailing in transition, so I've set my only goals going into them as finishing by 4:00 hours and 8:00 hours, respectively. There are many more triathlons out there at which I can work on getting faster, after I get these safely under my belt. (Yes, I've also got Ironman Florida in the back of my mind for 2006, before I turn fifty).

But maybe I'm letting myself off too easy. Maybe (as one contributor said at Slowtwitch) when I do road races or triathlons I'm just taking "a vacation from being a Fat Bastard". Of course it is true that being a Fat Bastard is a fairly all-consuming full-time job. ;)

Your thoughts?

Monday, April 11, 2005

One brick in the wall

brickFirst brick of the year done! Okay, it was a little one, but it needed to be done for confidence-building, if nothing else. I did a little test-run of the bike-run distances that I'll be doing in next Sunday's Cure Autism Now Triathlon.

I hopped on Buttercup and did 12.1 miles - I would have done only 10 (as I'm doing in the tri) but it's a mile each way to get out of the heavier traffic on the main street of our little town. So I waited until I was out on the open highway to get in my 10 miles down on the aerobars. Once again, it felt great as long as I was going downwind! Ugh, it got hard again when I turned around. I have to remember to start upwind on training rides. And definitely get a new bike saddle. Ai ai ai! It felt like knives!!! But I was pleased with my pace - I was going 18-20 mph in several sections with the wind for long stretches. The overall average was 14.1 mph, factoring in that slow return trip with standing up on the pedals several times to relieve that vicious pressure.

Then a 5-minute transition at home (would have been much quicker but the damn phone rang).

Out for a short run. I was thinking of going to the local track for a time trial, but then realized it was a Monday and there were lots of schoolkids using the facilities. I did a 24-minute jog on the roads for 2 miles. That felt amazingly good! It sure helps me a lot to be warmed up first before running - smooths out all those usual aches I experience in the first mile or so.

I'm more or less ready for the sprint tri - all I have to do is make a packing list and remember to bring everything! And if I don't, well, that's exactly why I'm doing it - to be sure I make my mistakes early!

I just realized that last night I had a dream about an autistic woman that I used to know who became a successful consultant and author. Haven't thought of her in many years. It just occurred to me that this is a pre-race dream about the Cure Autism Now Triathlon next week! Fortunately it was a fairly benign dream, I was just waiting in line at a book-signing of hers. How funny! I wonder if it means anything, other than... I'm waiting!?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Marathon des Sables

MdSJoin me this week in watching the intrepid participants in the Marathon des Sables in Morocco, particularly a fellow TRI-DRS listmember, Ian Wright, #692, and enjoy their adventures vicariously. They definitely encourage people to send messages!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Ride to Tilghman Island

Just got back from the longest ride yet on my new bike Buttercup - 26.3 miles (42.3 km) round trip to the drawbridge at Tilghman Island and back. It was beautiful weather for it - 63*F and bright sunshine. I felt perfect in my long-sleeved bike jersey and shorts. The road is perfect for cycling, too - very flat and with wide (8 foot) shoulders, free of gravel and sand. The forsythia and cherry and pear trees were in magnificent bloom.

Three problems: the wind, my saddle, and some back discomfort. And one problem solved.

The wind wasn't a problem going out! It was only when I got close to the turnaround that I realized that it was at my back the whole time. Due to the 14 mph winds (gusts to 22) I averaged 16.1 mph on the way out (lots of room to improve there, certainly), and only 13.1 mph on the way back. I suppose it's good practice for the Eagleman Half Ironman that I'm doing in June, though, a lot of people mention winds as a factor on that course.

My saddle - ugh. I think I'm going to have to replace it, even though it's the brand new one that came with my bike. I'm just having way too much actual pain on it, and right now that's the #1 limiting factor in my endurance. Even with an extra cushioned pad on it and well-padded bike shorts. Unless anyone has any brilliant ideas for fixing it... ? I've considered a crotchectomy, but that might be a little drastic.

My back was giving me some discomfort toward the end, but not too bad. I do expect that, being down in the aerobars in an unfamiliar position for a long period of time. That problem will respond to muscle conditioning, I hope. They say it takes about 600 miles to get used to aerobars, and I have about 500 yet to go. I still have to tweak the bike position a little bit, too, but mostly I have to (you guessed it) train, train, train!!

Other than that, I really enjoyed getting out in the sunshine and getting in some miles on a gorgeous day!

I was able to solve the problem that I was having with a crick in my neck due to my big wad of ponytail being forced into my neck by my helmet - I put my hair in two braids, and threaded them out through the harness. That seemed to work great. I haven't worn braids for probably twenty years (okay, maybe even thirty), and I may look dumb, but ... it's kind of fun!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Today's swim

cb10Here's another shot from the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler - it captured that gritted-teeth determined look, I think. I needed that determination today during my swim - it felt uncomfortable and rough the whole time - so I kept going, hoping it would smooth out. I got to 36 laps (something over a mile) in about an hour, including stops for choking, lane changes for the water aerobicizers, etc. That discomfort is my punishment for not swimming for a whole week, I believe! I had about four strokes in there where I suddenly felt FAST - it was when I was swimming away frustrated (okay, pissed off) at this lady who was standing stock-still in the adjacent lane and wouldn't move so I could use it for swimming (when there were seven people doing water aerobics one lane over, and I had asked her nicely). But that fleeting few seconds of feeling fast, and the pleasant tiredness in my shoulders now, makes the trip to the gym worthwhile.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

This health craze has gone WAY too far

Now Sesame Street's Cookie Monster is going to be an advocate for healthier eating. Something about that strikes me as tragically wrong. I just don't see him as the model of deferred gratification. Moderation is for wimps. At least that's how *I* was raised.... ;)

Two out of three ain't bad

Perry Bartlett, a professor at the University of Queensland's Brain Institute is recommending such activities as running, crosswords and sex to fend off dementia. I like the thought of that combination, but I need to work on completing the entire triathlon.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Elisabeth cracked the code!

Indulge me as I enjoy a proud Mom moment....

Elisabeth is suddenly WALKING today. Really walking! Before this she would only take one step or so when she cruised between pieces of furniture.

She suddenly realized she could do it, the light bulb went on, so she's off and running!! A little wobbly, perhaps, but she made the leap from one step to about twenty in a row.

She's VERY VERY proud of herself, too!

She's always been a bit of a worry to us, since she was born at 28 weeks (a couple of minutes after Catherine), 12 weeks premature, but has been very slow to grow and develop since she had a ventricular septum defect. She had heart surgery at 5 months of age, but since she was so weak she spent an entire month in the hospital and was tube-fed and on oxygen for months after that. She's getting stronger all the time, but still weighs only about 17 pounds at 22 months of age and her speech is quite delayed.

But finally she has learned to walk! So I'm very proud of her today, too. And all the other days as well, of course.

I'm not sure if Catherine has noticed. I think she may be too busy filling up Elisabeth's crib with diapers. She picks them up at the changing table, carries them over one by one, and drops them in. Clean ones, fortunately. Dozens of them. Don't ask me to explain her, I just house and feed her.

Another day, another stroller walk

The girls. Just got back from another babyjogger trip to the park with the girls for another 2.8-mile walk. And of course stop for swings and slide time. Wooo, we've had our two days of spring, now it's summer and 82*F! I forgot the sunscreen and little Elisabeth's legs were getting pink. I'm a Bad Mom.

Tri stuff. I was testing out my new item of triathlon gear: Locklaces. I'm turning into such a tri-gearhead! I should have gotten these ages ago, though. They're incredibly comfortable, and better yet, once you pull your shoes ON, you're DONE! Off you go! That would have saved me two interminable shoe-retying stops at the Richmond Marathon last fall! I think I could probably buy thin bungee cord and get the same effect as this $6 set of laces, though. I used the excess bungee on Catherine's little tennis shoes that she always decides to untie. Now she's got ghetto slippers and can't hang herself with her shoelaces if she gets arrested and thrown in toddler jail.

Less than TWO WEEKS until my first little triathlon of the season! It's the Fifth Annual Cure Autism Now Duathlon / Triathlon in Bethesda, Maryland on April 17th. It's a 500-yard pool swim (10 laps), then 10 mile bike (3 laps of the National Institutes of Health campus), finishing with a 2.5-mile run. I got my notice that I swim in wave 2, at 0720. After packet pickup at 0600. *Yawn*. It's quite informal - transitions are not timed, it's really just 3 time trials - but it's a nice warmup and gear check to start the season.

Blog stuff. I was adding this blog to some blogrings last night, to generate a little more traffic. One was ~~Mom writers~~. But maybe I won't fit in there. They say: "No profanity, please. Clean blogs only." WTF? I know I'm really new at this being-a-mom stuff, and maybe I missed that part in the Mom Instruction Manual (mainly because I didn't get one), but I thought that I qualified by HAVING a child. I didn't realize I was supposed to BE a child. I'm so confused....