Thursday, June 30, 2005

TdF Fantasy Cycling Leagues

On the Performance Bikes site you can set up your own fantasy cycling team for the 2005 Tour de France. I've set up one as team Nancy Toby. I'm not sure I'm completely happy with my lineup yet, but they give you a very paltry amount of money to fund your entire nine-man team!

CSC guys are my backbone. About half the guys listed in their big list are not even entrants in the Tour (e.g., Zabel, Piil), so I had to do a lot of cross-checking with the starter list to be sure I was picking people who were actually riding in 2005.

Last year CSC had a game going for the Tour, where you answered questions each day to predict winners of various stages, etc., and I (with much luck) ended up in 5th place. They sent me a calendar and a hardcover book about the CSC team, which were both from the 2003 year (when Tyler rode for them - I guess they had extra old stuff lying around the CSC clubhouse, or something). But I don't see it on their site this year, just a game about the whole pro season.

Does anyone know of any other online TdF games we should be playing? I think it's fun, because it helps me follow along with the various teams and riders better as the Tour progresses.

Anyone else set up a team at the Performance Bike site along with me?

June Totals

It's time to reflect on the month of June. I probably won't get in any more workouts today, other than perhaps some upper body dumbbell work and torso work on the stability ball, but I don't count those in my totals.

My June monthly totals:
Swimming: 2912 yards (most of it at Eagleman)
Cycling: 94 miles
Running: 68 miles
1 half Ironman triathlon completed, so I accomplished my only June goal

May totals:
Swimming: 6048 yards
Cycling: 91.4 miles
Running: 40.2 miles

June summary: I'm holding steady in cycling, up 69% in running mileage (as planned, starting on marathon training), and way way down in swimming (since I practically stopped swimming after Eagleman on June 12th). I think I'm just starting to regain my motivation to swim, so I'll try to reboot my system now and begin some more regular swimming in July. What's on the agenda for this month?

July goals:
Log every bite of food this month
Follow the Tour de France and my fantasy cycling league
Swim: 3520 yards (2 miles) just for practice
Cycle: 105 miles
Run: 75 miles
Other training: Complete 2100 crunches (100 per weekday)
Events: Complete 1 duathlon (5K-30K-5K)

What are YOUR plans for the month of July?

Safety reminder

idI just ordered two new identification tags for my solo training runs and rides, and I thought I'd remind everyone reading to get one yourself if you haven't already, or if you're prone to losing your wallet. I had one from RoadID which velcroed on my running shoes, but somehow I lost it in a transition between shoes. So it was time to get another. I added a dogtag style ID too in my order this time so that I'd have one for swimming (I tuck it in the front of my swimsuit or jogbra so the jangling doesn't drive me around the bend). I ordered mine with a big TRIATHLETE logo on it, just to make sure that I am absolutely positively no-mistakes correctly identified, as well as to broadcast my elite status to the world even if my body markings wear off. RoadID also has velcro wristlet and anklet styles. I have no commercial interest, I'm just a satisfied (though absent-minded) customer.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The ultimate embarrassment?

embarrassOn one of my email lists someone posted that she had "suffered the 'ultimate' in embarrassment" by coming "out of the water DFL" (dead ... last) in a triathlon.

Heh. Been there, done that. Just this month, in fact! I had the slowest time in the water at Eagleman, and the slowest time overall. I've finished lots of running races in last place, too.

But it NEVER EVER EVER occurred to me to consider that last place finish at Eagleman a huge embarrassment. Quite the contrary - I finished! Didn't I persevere, when ~90 DNFs did not? Didn't I enter a tough event and come out and do my best on race day, when lots of people stayed home on the couch instead?

What would YOU consider the ultimate embarrassment in a triathlon?
  • Finishing last?
  • Not finishing?
  • Losing your swimsuit somehow and having to come out of the water naked?
  • Losing your bike in the racks?
  • Losing bowel or bladder control?
  • Getting your period unexpectedly?
  • Puking on an official's shoes?
  • Dropping out of the race when really you could have gone on if you used your head?
  • Crashing the bike because of a dumb mistake?
  • Getting caught drafting? (I don't do this intentionally)
  • Getting caught cutting the course? (I would NEVER do this intentionally)
  • Getting disqualified for bad sportsmanship?
  • Getting yourself in bad enough shape to need an IV or even more medical treatment?
  • Having to pull out because you got bitten on the butt by a seal?
  • What else?

Training strategies

bikeI like many of the things I've read online about triathlete training from Rich Strauss, including this article about force and aerobic threshold in cycling.

"I tell athletes that the best position they can be in is to have a 3 hour ride date every Saturday from now until the end of time. That will set you up to do anything you want in this sport."

Then again, it's a little humbling when he defines "beginner" as a "14 hr+ Ironman finisher". There once were the days when finishing an Ironman was supposed to be the ultimate athletic accomplishment. Now, of course, we can be jaded when some 40,000-50,000 (wild-ass guess) people finish an iron-distance triathlon every year.

Two cuties two

Catherine and Elisabeth yesterday playing in the recliner (rocking wildly and laughing and screaming more loudly the harder the rocking got) along with Catherine's all-time favorite guardian animal, Tiger, and the pink and lavender Jinglebear that *jeanne* gave them. :-)

Perhaps I should load them in the jogstroller and head out to the park to burn off some of that excess energy before they destroy the house?? Or maybe I should hook up the recliner to a generator and let them power the air conditioner.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Fun site of the day #2

I'm bored today. Obviously. But I thought THIS was really funny. Use your imagination. Enjoy.

Fun site of the day

Twenty questions, playable online for people who are really, really, really bored. :-)

Trapezius trigger point remedy

Okay, so I was complaining online about a trigger point that I have in my left trapezius that hurts in one certain location a lot of the time, a LOT. I suspect that it's aggravated by slouching in front of my computer too much and by breathing mostly to my right side while swimming freestyle. I found a good web page here that discusses various causes and remedies.

So Linae recommends this Eagle Pose yoga thing.

BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm not sure that my body does that!!!! Now maybe if Yoga Man could come over to my house and rub my neck a little, that might help.

I think this is what she would recommend for something more serious:

Okay, okay, Linae, I'll try it. I'll try almost anything once.


Actually, Linae, giving credit where credit is due, that really does stretch out that particular location very well (the arm on top, especially). I hadn't tried that - thank you again!

Monday, June 27, 2005

If you're not busy....

For those of our readers with a few spare moments on their hands, here is a list of the Top Ten Ways to Destroy the Earth. If you happen to decide to take on one of these ways as your personal science project this afternoon, just be sure to notify us on the Tri Blog Alliance email list first. We'll proceed to skipping our scheduled workouts and cracking open a cold beer, following the fine example set by Playboy Joel.

Bar recipe from IRONM4N Shelley

Shelley posted this recipe to TRI-DRS, and it sounded so good (I am always hungry, like Holly) that I had to get it up online so that I could keep it on file for my next big event. Or next snack. Maybe if I eat enough of them I can be an Ironman someday just like Shelley.

For those who don't like the cardboard chewyness of Power Bars, here is something someone gave me yesterday on our little race, it was great!! He rolled these things like little cigars and stored them in his Bento Box. Great idea.

PB Recipe:
  • 1 cup: Large flake rolled oats (not the quick cook kind - the real stuff)
  • 1/3 cup: Wheat germ (the best part of the wheat kernel that you don't get in processed flour)
  • 1 cup: Rice crispies
  • 1/2 cup: Chocolate chips (the sweeter the better - but hey, it's your taste)
  • 1/4 cup: Raisins
  • 1 tsp: Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp: Salt (1/4 tsp might be too much. I don't know how much I used. I always salt to taste. You can add more but you can never take it out.)
  • Peanut butter
  • Rice paper
In a blender pulverize the oats to a coarse flour consistency and dump into a mixing bowl. Crunch the rice crispies in the blender as fine or coarse as you like and add to the mixing bowl. Shred the chocolate chips leaving some large chunks is desirable (the blender works fine and it already needs to be cleaned). Add the wheat germ. Coarsely chop the raisins and add to the bowl Add the salt and sugar and mix together.

Add a little extra whole large flake oats for some more texture.

Take a sample taste of the dry mixture. Add more of anything and season to taste.

Slap a dollop of peanut butter on a plate and fold in enough dry mixture to get the consistency of thick cookie dough. Keep adding peanut butter and the dry mix being mindful to maintain the right consistency until you get the desired quantity.

Roll into 1/2" logs 3 to 4" long. Soak a rice paper in warm water until it goes clear and gets limp. Wrap the log with rice paper and close off the ends with as little an amount of the rice paper as you can manage (just to save chewing effort come eat'n time). Place on cooling rack until rice paper has dried out.

Thank you, Shelley!!!

Consistency is the goal

CONSISTENCY is my new project. That is, trying to maintain some baseline level of run, bike, and swim workouts per week, with the goal of maintaining some nominal baseline level of fitness in those areas. Uh, when I get back to actually swimming, that is.

I just added 3 columns on my personal Excel spreadsheet which I use for a training log, which now give me running totals for the previous 7 days in the swim, bike and run categories. These should let me know when I'm tending to slack off and not getting in the mileage that I need. Actually that was helpful in reviewing my preparations for Eagleman: I had a 4200-yard swimming week, a 49-mile biking week, and a couple of 28-mile running weeks. Not as bad as I thought!

I'm still deciding what the minimum numbers should be on the board. Of course, following my regular workout schedule that is already written on my calendar for the next 4 months would help, too. I think I need a live training buddy as constant as Robo-Stu, but I probably need a babysitter and a schedule that isn't split between two places, first.

What are some of YOUR methods and tricks that you use to help ensure consistency in your workouts, week-in and week-out?

You may ask what prompted this new emphasis on consistency. I just reviewed my fall race schedule (see sidebar) and realized that I'm planning something incredibly idiotic: three marathons in five weeks. LEGS OF STEEL BABY THAT'S WHAT I WANT

Sunday, June 26, 2005

First long one done

I got in my first long, slow distance run on the countdown to fall marathon season. Ten miles are now on the books!

It felt SLOW and VERY VERY hot. I refilled my water bottle twice at the golf course.

There must be something to that "training on tired legs" concept, because running today in the heat after my 26.4 miles on Buttercup yesterday sure made it seem longer than "just" ten miles.

Hopefully in another few weeks, when I start getting better acclimated to the heat and running longer distances again, ten miles will seem like a relatively short outing. But it didn't today!

I dreaded setting out today, but I never regret it once it's finished. Funny how that works!

I'm often rewarded by seeing new and interesting things when I go out for a long run. Today I spotted an unusual, fairly large flock of cedar waxwings. I noticed them only because they have a remarkable ability to hover in flight - not as skillfully as ospreys or hummingbirds, but better than most birds. Lovely things, with a perky little crest on their head and an unmistakeable gold border on the edges of their tail.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Shark attack

A 14-year-old girl was killed by a shark today in Destin, Florida, which is 46 miles from Panama City Beach, Florida, site of Ironman Florida. Just thought you should know.

Getting better all the time....

Woo! It is a GOOD day today. :-) It's June, what's not to like!?

I rode 26.4 miles on Buttercup at an average of 15.5 mph this morning, including two slow passes through town. I think that's my fastest average speed to date! Now, granted, that speed would still keep me firmly at the back of the pack at the Blackwater Duathlon in 36 days (especially combined with slow transitions and running speed), but any improvement is always encouraging and highly welcome! I'm still having a few musculoskeletal complaints with aero position, but I hear that it takes 600 miles to get accustomed to it, and I've still got about 300 to go on that.

My cable TV is now hooked up in St. Michaels! I'm ready for Le Tour!

Best of all, my cable Internet connection is online and working! Yay! I've emerged from the scary and depressing Dark Ages of Dialup once again!

Yesterday I had a really nice swim - the nicest part being that I could get OUT of the pool and say "oh, that's enough for today" after a leisurely 500m/10 lap swim. Ahhhhh, that's the life.

It was more fun walking the girls around in the baby pool. Which they don't call the baby pool any more, because that's somehow demeaning to the age-challenged, height-challenged individuals who use it. They call it instead the "round pool" (versus the "rectangular pool" that the other folks use). Sheesh.

Good luck to Wil and Kahuna and Brother Kahuna (ouch!) and Shelley (thanks for the kind mention!) and anyone else with a Big Event this weekend!

PS: The new "Blogger Images" function ROCKS!

Friday, June 24, 2005

Half or 70.3?

World Triathlon Corporation is now rechristening the half Ironman distance triathlon to "Ironman 70.3". Presumably in order to make it seem less ... trivial. But it's NOT an Ironman! An Ironman is 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling, followed by a 26.2-mile run!!!

I've always thought that "half marathon" races should be called something different, since 13.1 miles is no small distance to run on foot! However, I could never think of an adequately descriptive title for them. Sometimes it's called a "mini-marathon", notably the Kentucky Derby miniMarathon, but to me that belittles it. I've also seen "mini-marathon" applied to all sorts of race distances other than half marathons, including 10Ks and kid's races, so it's by no means a universal term for a 13.1-mile race.

Then again, the term "marathon" is often applied indiscriminately to anything that seems to take a long time or that someone wishes to hype, like a clothing sale or a series of television shows. Wrong. A marathon is a 26.2-mile race, nothing else.

What's the solution!? Help!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

IMFL rumor?

Has anyone else heard the rumor that IMFL in Panama City Beach is in its last year at the current location, and may possibly be "replaced" by an m-dot event in Williamsburg or Myrtle Beach in 2006? Guh. I have no idea if there's any substance to this rumor.

Fortunately, Cathy Morgan reassures me that it's been rumored for years now....

Number Forty-eight

bdayToday is my BIRTHDAY! I'm 48.

Birthdays are important milestones to many of us. They offer us a stopping point for reflection, and prompt us to direct our thoughts to what we want to accomplish in the future. I'm not yet sure what Number Forty-eight signifies. But I'm working on it.

Tri-mama posed some excellent questions for me to think about at this time (post-Eagleman): "In retrospect do you think you bit off more than you could chew?" And "Do you like that you pushed yourself for that long a distance at this point in training?"

The other important question that I need to give some serious thought to is, "Should I attempt an Ironman next year, before I turn fifty?" If I do attempt one, it will probably be Ironman Florida in November 2006, for the reasons I've listed, with perhaps our local non-m-dot Chesapeakeman in October 2006 as a backup if I don't get in.

These are important questions, and merit some reflection. I don't want to succumb to a hasty "Yeah, sure, go for it". I want to think this thing through carefully before I truly commit to it. It's a big big big project to take on. If it weren't, everybody would do it, right? Doing a marathon is hard, and a big challenge. Doing an Ironman is like that same challenge, only cubed. Is it even realistic to consider, given my past training performance? One thing is certain, if I set off down that long road towards the Ironman finish line, I absolutely positively don't want to miss the cutoffs, or end up as a DNF for any other reason. I'll give this all some deep thought and post about it soon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Ten Days to the Tour!

Le TourAre you READY for the 2005 Tour de France!? As Flatman and Sports Illustrated already pointed out, Lance Armstrong does not intend to lose his last Tour! I sure hope that Ivan Basso gives him a good run for his money, though!

I just realized it was coming up in a hurry! I had to quickly order cable TV service for our place in St. Michaels. Atlantic Broadband is the only provider in the area, so it wasn't a hard choice, after we decided to go cable rather than getting a satellite dish installed.

Here's the OLN-TV Tour de France broadcast schedule as of today for July 2-24 (it will change daily depending on the stage, though). I would tune in just to hear Phil Liggett's commentary. I love Phil Liggett. :-)
Pre-race 8:30-9am ET
Live 9-11:30am ET
Re-air 12-2pm ET
Re-air 2:30-4:30pm ET
Re-air 5-7pm ET
Pre-Race Show 8-8:30pm ET
Primetime Coverage 8:30-11pm ET 12-2:30am ET

Gee, I better get high-speed internet too while I'm at it, don't you think? Dialup is a sick joke.

I was just browsing through the TiVo site, too. Hmm, is being able to pause live TV and fast-forward through commercials worth $200-$300 for the box and $13 per month for the TiVo service? I'm starting to think that it is....

Never enough training?

Here's my tally (such as it is) for the entire 6 months prior to Eagleman on June 12th - including everything - holidays, tapers, race recoveries, prep races (but not including Eagleman itself), so-called "heavy" weeks, etc. These sums, of course, may tell the tale to my (probably horrified) readers:

  • Swimming: 23 workouts in 26 weeks, averaging 1170 yards/workout (max 2133 yards)
  • Cycling: 41 workouts in 26 weeks, averaging 7.8 miles/workout (max 30 miles)
  • Running: 62 workouts in 26 weeks, average 4.4 miles/workout (max 16 miles)
My average week: 4.8 workouts total
Swim 0.9 times for 1035 yards per week
Bike 1.6 times for 12.4 miles per week
Run 2.4 times for 10.5 miles per week

Of course now, sitting in front of my computer and not actually exercising, I think I can do better than that with a more structured approach. I'm not certain that I'll actually do more workout days per week, but I can see about doing more bricks and longer workouts per session. And oh yeah: I need consistency, consistency, consistency. I haven't kept track of actual workout durations; perhaps I should start logging that. This retrospective look serves as a benchmark and helps me to figure out what will be realistic to expect in the next step.

Does anyone have any similar totals to compare over 6 months or more, leading up to their last big event? I know these are a lot lower than they should be, and only a small fraction of optimal triathlon training, but like everyone, I need to be realistic about balancing the training time with some other demands and priorities in my life when I set my competition goals and plan the next few months.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Happy summer solstice!

I'm on my own with the girls for a few days, so my workouts have consisted of daily 3-4 mile walks with the double jogstroller. I have never gotten the hang of running with it - I just can't seem to coordinate it without feeling very uncomfortable. But we have fun! We stop and pet kitties we encounter, look for the bunnies hopping around the yards, watch for airplanes, spot swans and boats out in the river, go to the park and swing and slide, have people stop and ask us two or three times daily per walk "Are they twins?".

So that's the plan for today too! We've had a spell of unseasonably cool weather again. I have a feeling we're going to pay dearly for this later in July and August!

Thanks for the feedback on my "Century vs. Half Ironman" debate. Here's the vote:
* Century: 2
* Half: 5
* Undecided: 2

Right now I'm leaning toward doing one or both centuries. Why?
- I'm contrary
- I like supporting local events
- I like the idea of a long, long supported ride where I can take a short break off the bike every 20-30 miles
- I like to sightsee without the constant hurryhurryhurry of a race setting
- I can pick shorter distance options if I'm not feeling up to the full 100 miles on the day of the ride
- I don't yet feel very motivated to take on the challenge of a half ironman again (the struggle of the Eagleman swim is still too fresh in my mind).

Any of the events before October work fairly well with my marathon schedule, since my first real marathon of the fall is October 15 in Baltimore - and that's just my warmup for New York in November. I'm also thinking of doing a long-long 26.2-mile run workout as part of an iron-distance triathlon relay team at Chesapeakeman Ultra on October 1st, if I can set up a relay at $123 apiece!

I'm also looking at the local triathlon calendars for a few triathlons in the next few months, to keep me motivated in my swimming practice.

Oh, here are a couple of photos of the bike leg at Eagleman, neither of which are keepers.

A big CONGRATULATIONS also go out to Shelley for her strong performance at the Muskoka Triathlon - you're well on your way to Kona, girl!

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Century or half ironman?

St. Michaels centuryScheduling this fall is getting harder than I thought! I'd like to do a cycling century (100-mile one-day ride) this year, just to see if an Ironman distance race (112 mile bike leg) is even feasible for This Old Body, and I just learned of a great contender - a century that departs about a half block from my house in St. Michaels on September 10th.

That's also the weekend of one of the half ironman triathlons that I was thinking about for this fall, too, however - Diamondman in Delaware. I guess these priorities will take some thinking about.

Seagull CenturyThere's also a great flat century on October 8th starting about an hour's drive away from me, too: the Seagull Century which starts in Salisbury, Maryland. Judging by their beautiful artwork featuring Lance Armstrong's bike, they're going to have some awesome tshirts!

Ahhh, decisions, decisions!!

I think it may be time to consult with the husband on his sailing and flying schedule!

Which events would YOU do?

Track work

I'm already revising the marathon training plan! I had a 10-miler LSD workout on the calendar for this weekend, but then I realized I had a substantial long slow slow slow distance workout last weekend at Eagleman, so I should probably do a tempo workout this weekend. So I went to the track and did one-mile repeats, with quarter-mile walk breaks in between:
  • 10:28
  • 10:36
  • 10:53
  • 11:21
If I get my body accustomed to running 10-to-11 minute miles, hopefully the 11-to-12 minute miles will feel enough easier that I can do quite a few of them back-to-back during a longer race or marathon. That's the idea, at least!

ospreyWhile I was on my first or second lap on the track my olfactory sensors detected a 10-inch dead fish lying about 10 feet from the side of the track - apparently left there by a clumsy osprey who must have dropped it in mid-flight not long after fishing it out of the Miles River about a quarter mile away. After I had finished a mile or two one of the local turkey vultures had claimed it for his prize. Mmm, yum yum yum.

I'm sending good vibes to Shelley, who has hopefully finished up a good day at Muskoka Triathlon in Ontario by now! I'm looking forward to hearing how she did! 117 days until KONA for her!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Walking, swinging, sliding, and marathon prep

Just back from a 4-mile jogstroller walk with the girls, first to the ATM to deposit a check, then to the little park by the cove with the swans nesting alongside. Both my girls got to swing to their little heart's content, and go down the slide MANY times. Catherine is getting good at climbing up the big ladder to the slide now (Danger Girl has often gotten herself halfway up before I notice). While Elisabeth can't manage climbing the ladder yet, she's a little better at pushing herself off the top edge of the slide to go down unassisted. It's always fun to watch them SWOOP down the slide and end up at the bottom, giggling madly.

After the park I pushed them around the 3-mile walk through the neighborhood, the same one that I did yesterday. It is gorgeous weather today - 75*F and low humidity - why didn't we have this weather LAST week?

I worked up a training schedule from now until the New York City Marathon and wrote it all down on my Runner's World calendar. It's a smattering of Hal Higdon, a touch of Jeff Galloway, and some normal logical progression, with at least two shorter faster runs and one long slow distance run per week working up gradually (including some step-back weeks) from a 10-miler this weekend to a 20-miler the first weekend of October, then the Baltimore Marathon on October 15, and finally the New York City Marathon on November 6. I'll wait a while before I decide on any time goals for the marathons, but I'd sure like to run at least one of them substantially better than my marathon PR of 5:51:38. We'll see how my shorter races go heading into the fall season. Heck, averaging 12-minute miles would yield a 5:15 marathon - that doesn't sound so hard "on paper", why is it so hard to get there in reality!?

I plan to include at least one longer bike ride and a long swim each week too (hour-plus each), for cardiovascular cross-training and just to keep up some "currency" in those areas as well. How much I do in those two areas will probably also depend on if I decide to enter any triathlons in the summer or fall. I'll go back and tally up how much training I *actually* did before Eagleman to decide how much I can realistically include in my plan for future tri training. I have a tendency to devise training plans that are MUCH more ambitious than the training that I actually DO, so my swim-bike-run totals for the last 6 months will be a good reality cross-check.

Recovery mode

Nothing much to report today. I'm still taking it kind of SLO-O-O-OWWW after Eagleman. My muscles have stopped hurting, and my sunburn too (yes, I applied tons of sunblock pre-race but my wetsuit scrubbed it off). I'm getting back into that typical lazy slow pace of life in summer. Taking walks to the park with the girls. Cooking steaks on the grill. Weeding the garden.

I need to get back to watching my food intake carefully. I can't seem to do heavy-duty training and reduce my food intake at the same time - something has to give! But now it's back to get-serious-about-diet time.

Last night we went for dinner at our local Miles River Yacht Club, like we do most Friday nights. Mmm, coconut shrimp and crab cakes! (Yeah, that was BEFORE that get-serious-about-diet time started). It was unseasonably cool and we sat outside on the deck enjoying our dinner with the girls, listening to the sounds of evening (including the revelry in the dockside bar) and watching the boats come in and dock.

Afterwards we went for a drive out on the Bay Hundred peninsula. We saw a couple of unusual sights out in the remote Chesapeake Bay countryside - a male deer that walked right up to the minivan (after I stopped) with big knobby antlers covered with velvet, with his mate in the bushes nearby; and a mother turkey hen with about four turkey chicks trailing behind. One of those times you wish for a camera!

Today my husband is going over to the airport to regain his flying currency which had lapsed since the babies were born (it's HIS turn to pursue some of his hobbies this week) and later in the weekend we will go over to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum a few blocks away to visit the Antique and Classic Boat Festival.

I think my exercise today will just be another long stroller walk with the girls! Or maybe we'll head to the pool when my husband gets home from flying late in the afternoon when the sun is low.

The next event that I'm registered for is the Blackwater Traverse Duathlon, 43 days from now: 5K run, 30K bike, 5K run. I consider it a "just for fun" event since a few of my friends will be doing it with me. I'll have to get Buttercup back out and on the roads again ... some day after my recovery is complete. ;-)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Are you IN!?

NYCMThe results of the lottery for entry into the New York City Marathon were announced yesterday. A record 85,000 entries were received for the lottery, with a total of 35,000 participants accepted for the race. This year's running is on Sunday, November 6, 2005. That means I have just over twenty weeks to prepare! Yes, I'm running New York! I deferred from last year (when I ran the Chicago and Richmond marathons instead), so I knew I was already in. Does anyone have a nice 20-week minimalist marathon training plan to recommend to me?

BaltimoreAn excellent alternative to New York, if you didn't get in, is the Baltimore Marathon. Since I usually train alone, and I those long, long unsupported training runs get really OLD, I'm using Baltimore as my final long slow distance training run before New York. On October 15, 2005, it works out perfectly at three weeks plus one day before the New York City Marathon! It also has a scenic course winding through a city with lots of interesting ethnic neighborhoods, ending up near the Harbor. Highly recommended for your fall season - but enter early, because it will fill! It's also coming up fast - 17 weeks from now! I'd better get myself back into long distance running training mode and back out on the roads!

A10The Annapolis Ten Miler, a popular Maryland event which has already closed to entries, will be one of my prep races. Held on August 28, 2005, its hot and humid conditions combined with some serious hills (up and over the Severn River twice) make it one of the most challenging events on the local running scene. It can take nearly as much out of a runner as a full marathon!

It's also well-known for excellent premiums for the participants, and this year is no exception - a nylon running vest will be given to all entrants, and finishers (which I plan to be!) will be given a 6-inch etched acrylic sailboat trophy.

So will any of my blogging friends be participating in any of these events? I'd love to meet up with any of you there!

I'm still deciding about my triathlon/duathlon schedule for late summer and fall. I'm still not in any hurry to embark on any long swims, but there are lots of fun options out there!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Eagleman swim start and finish

Just for reference, photos from the day before Eagleman of the swim starting area in the Choptank River, with the line of buoys reaching out to infinity and beyond. For the start of the swim, we waded out to the first buoy and waited there for the gun.

Eagleman start

The swim finish area, as seen from under the timing tent. That ramp was slippery and steeper than it looks! On race day spectators were lined up on the piers on both sides, so it was like Shamu swimming for the Sea World spectators.

Eagleman finish

My Eagleman medal

Eagleman medal"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's."

- Exodus 20:17

Now go get your own!!! ;-)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

What I am and am not

Tonight is Eagleman Plus Two. My only exercise since Eagleman has been pushing the jogstroller for a couple miles today, in the hopes of getting some of the stiffness out of my legs.

What I am not:
  • I'm not an Iron-anything. I feel strongly that I cannot righteously use the title IronSomething unless I have completed all 140.6 miles of an Iron Distance triathlon, which I have not. Same as I wouldn't call myself a marathoner until I had finished one (or more). Same as I don't publicly wear the tshirts from races I didn't complete.
  • I'm not a hero or heroine. People who run into burning buildings to save people are heroes and heroines. I'm a slow fat novice triathlete. Like most triathletes, I do this only for myself.
  • I'm not ready to say I'm going to ever do another half-iron distance triathlon, or to say that I'm ever going to attempt an iron distance triathlon. I don't want to attempt either one unless I'm in much better shape for it than I was for Eagleman.
  • I'm not eager to try to improve on my last-place finishing time at Eagleman. Doing it slowly was tough enough. The discomfort is still very fresh in my mind.
  • I'm not making any decisions this week.
What I am:
  • I'm the finisher of one half-iron distance triathlon of 70.3 miles, above the time cutoffs.
  • I'm tired. Still, even after sleeping 12 hours the night after Eagleman.
  • I'm sore. Not terribly sore, but sore in weird places - my wrist where the competitor wristband rubbed. My abs. My side where I got a stitch. My hamstrings.
  • I'm a crappy swimmer.
  • I'm stubborn as hell.
  • I'm proud of myself for completing my longest swim to date, in open water to boot.
  • I'm proud of myself for completing my longest bike ride to date, immediately after a 1.2-mile swim to boot.
  • I'm proud of myself for sticking it out and finishing Eagleman.
  • I'm glad I finished uninjured.
  • I'm glad I finished at all.
  • I'm still undertrained and overweight.
  • I'm delighted to have the Eagleman medal (which I'll scan and post in another day or two).
  • I'm the owner of some wonderful memories. That was definitely a day that I'll remember for a long, long time!
  • I'm super-grateful for all the support, advice, encouragement, and congratulations that I've received.
  • I'm still savoring the experience before I start going off half-cocked and setting new goals for myself.
  • I'm thrilled if I've inspired anyone to push themselves beyond what they thought was possible to accomplish things they didn't originally think that they could.
  • I think I'm overdue for a cold beer.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Eagleman Race Report


I got up at 3AM, after getting 3 hours of sleep and 3 hours of trying to sleep. I forced down a couple scrambled eggs, drank my usual morning coffee, and ate a muffin on the 45-minute drive to Cambridge, Maryland in the minivan.

I arrived at the parking area in darkness and volunteers directed the minivan into place among the other early arrivals. It was 65 degrees, 95% humidity, and the mosquitoes were awake early. Pumped the bike tires at the car and then schlepped all my gear over into the transition area. I had plenty of time as the sun was coming up to set it all up to perfection and obsess about the position of each item that I needed, and many that I didn’t.

It started getting hot as soon as the sun was up. I chugged down some Gatorade and drank an Ensure to get some last-minute hydration and calories. I delayed putting on my wetsuit until the last minute to keep from getting overheated, but then it was time. I waded into the water once to get it wet inside, and then they were getting everyone out of the water to start the race.

They herded the white-capped folks in my wave back behind the timing mats and started the pro wave. I didn’t see them start, I just followed the herd of perhaps 150 people in the “Senior Wave” (men 55+, women 45+) and got into the water. We waded out to the first buoy on the sandy bottom and soon the gun went off.

Swim (1.2 miles):

I started slow in a breaststroke, to get myself accustomed to the water and get myself warmed up. I stayed far out to the right, to avoid getting in anyone’s way. It didn’t take long for me to be the last swimmer at the back of my wave. They had given the Senior Wave a 15-minute headstart on the other age-group triathletes, so we didn’t get immediately swum over.

I wore my dark-tinted goggles because I had experienced some problems with sun glare with my clear goggles three weeks before at Columbia, and I figured the sun would be low in the sky. However, I discovered that these goggles are so dark that practically all I could see were light and dark shapes, making it very difficult to spot the buoys.

The water temperature and the wetsuit felt reasonably comfortable, although the wetsuit verged on being too hot. The top tugged on my neck at times and rode up around my waist. It was annoying but it didn’t stop me.

I found that I was increasingly far off to course to the right. I didn’t remember until I was nearly swimming in downtown Cambridge that there was a 0.4+ knot (0.46 mph) upstream current, effectively sweeping me away from the line of buoys. Funny, and I thought that current was going to help my swim on the way out. There is no “help” in triathlons.

The volunteers were starting to get concerned about me. “Are you okay?” Two people on a jetski hovered close enough that I breathed their fumes for a while. “Head for the boat with the flag.” Far ahead I could see an anchored sailboat flying an American flag. Okay, okay, I’m getting there. Slowly.

I didn’t feel too uncomfortable, I was just moving very slowly and got way way off course. WAY off course. It’s hard to judge distances when you’re a floating speck in the middle of a very wide river, but I wasn’t anywhere near the other swimmers nor any buoys. I certainly was a freaking long way from the sailboat.

I kept plugging away. I realized if I didn’t get serious and start doing only freestyle strokes, I’d never finish. My initial nervous hyperventilation had calmed down enough that I could do some freestyle with my face in the water, as long as I breathed every stroke. But I couldn’t do freestyle for long without veering further off course. But sighting every few strokes slowed me down and tired me.

I settled in for a compromise – 10 to 15 freestyle strokes, then a couple breaststrokes as I sighted for the buoy - which I couldn’t see very well because my goggles were too dark. I imagined myself following a scalloped path, because I veered off to the right and sharply corrected myself with each set of strokes. I tried veering more to the left, and that just resulted in swimming in the completely wrong direction.

Finally I was closing in on the sailboat. Swimmers in the succeeding waves were now out on course, and I had to get close to them to make the turn. Some people in a kayak directed me: “Go between the sailboat and the buoy.” What buoy? I thought we were supposed to go around the sailboat! Oh, that buoy, I see it now. Okay.

I kept slogging along, finally reaching the buoy and making the turn. The faster swimmers started swimming into my sides, and running into my feet. I tried to stay out of their way, but they were on both sides of me and I couldn’t get far enough away to avoid them. I couldn’t do a breaststroke while I was sighting, or my arms would hit them. I managed to do some sort of awkward Tarzan head-up stroke to keep going and try to sight while attempting to stay out of everyone’s way.

Finally I was able to navigate the turn around the end buoy of the course and turn along the second leg of the course, which went straight along the river into the current. This was just as slow going. I stayed on course a bit better, perhaps 50-100 feet out to the right of the buoys, just slogged along at my slow pace and tried to stay out of the way, although there were lots of swimmers that still ran into me.

I was getting tired. I had been out there a LONG time. I was taking it one buoy at a time, just working to get from one buoy to the next, but each one seemed like it took an eternity. Finally I could just make out a couple tiny specks of buoys that I knew were near the swim finish. I checked my watch hoping for a nice surprise.

1 hour and 5 minutes on my watch, and the time still ticking away. Crap. I’m doomed. The official swim cutoff was 1:10, and I estimated that I had a quarter of the course yet to swim. No way to make the cutoff now. The officials are going to stop me as soon as I get out of the water. This is ridiculous. I’d better get serious and swim hard or I’ll be out here in the middle of the Choptank all day. I put my head down and kept swimming freestyle as hard as I could.

Finally I negotiated the last turn and headed for the dock – straight up a boat ramp between two bulkheads. It was an odd feeling swimming down a chute with spectators standing above me on both sides, as if I was Shamu at Seaworld.

Finally my fingers hit the concrete ramp. I struggled to my feet, my legs heavy. I slipped and almost fell, clambering up the slippery ramp. I normally take my swim cap off exiting the water, but I left it on so the officials could spot me and tell me that I was done for the day. I later learned that I was the slowest of all 1434 people who completed the swim.


As I walked over the timing mats and headed back to pack up my gear, nobody stopped me. The volunteers gave me Gatorade instead of stopping me. I took off my wetsuit top, cap, and goggles along the way. I reached my bike, the last one left on the Wave 2 racks, and still nobody stopped me.

Okay, here we go! Keep going until they make you stop, I thought to myself. I took off my wetsuit bottoms, put on my Coolmax shirt over my jogbra, pulled on a pair of bike shorts over the thin Lycra shorts I swam in, then strapped on my bike shoes and helmet. I unracked Buttercup and we headed out over the timing mats. Still nobody stopped me – in fact, the spectators were cheering me and encouraging me on.

Okay, Buttercup, we’re still in the game, even though it’s 12 minutes after my most awful worst-case pre-race scenario. Let’s go, girl.

Bike (56 miles):

I settled in on the bike course and pedaled through the streets of Cambridge out to the rural roads. It seemed to take a long time to reach the place where 5 miles was painted on the pavement. 51 miles to go.

It was getting hot and the sun was strong, but with a headwind on the bike most of the way out it felt reasonably comfortable for temperature, just slow going. I had hoped to average over 15 mph on the bike leg, but in several stretches I found myself down at 12 or 13 mph going into the wind.

Everybody passed me. Everybody. I didn’t pass a single damn person on the bike that wasn’t fixing a tire. One jerk passed me without warning on the right with about 2 inches clearance, causing me to startle and swerve. I yelled Bad Things at his backside.

Many people spoke words of encouragement as they passed, which I appreciated. A few people passing yelled out my name and even Buttercup’s – which gave me a real boost. I couldn’t recognize anyone – I wondered how they recognized me? I guess they didn’t see too many other fat-butted older women out there pedaling along slowly on a hazmat yellow Felt bike. Certainly I didn’t see any other women that were up close to my weight class!

Every 10 miles or so were aid stations where they passed out bottles of water and Gatorade. I always took a bottle, and I had packed along 2 bottles, so I drank something like 140 ounces of fluid on the bike leg. I also took a salt capsule every so often and ate 2 Powergels.

I stopped at a porta-potty at the 22-mile turn and peed, which told me that I was doing a good job on my hydration. It also gave me a chance to stretch out a little, which helped enormously. I felt refreshed when I got back on the bike.

I tried to eat a Powerbar, but it tasted like sand. I got one down and it did give me some energy, but I couldn’t make myself eat any more than that. Karen Smyers said in the Saturday Pro Forum that race-day nutrition is one of the hardest things to get right in long-distance triathlons. Definitely true for me!

Past the 30-mile marker was unknown territory, since that’s as far as my (under)training had taken me. Fortunately we had a tailwind on the way back and I was able to make up a little time there, but every few miles I needed to stand up to stretch out or even unclip one foot at a time to wiggle it around, and that slowed me down. I was tired of being on the bike, my crotch and back were achy, but nothing hurt badly enough to make me consider stopping. I just kept turning the cranks and tried to keep my cadence and effort level up and eventually the roads led back into Cambridge. Buttercup behaved like a champ the whole way, and cooperated beautifully with everything I asked of her.

On the final stretch, 2 blocks from transition, I passed a corner with a policeman. I clearly remembered standing on that corner five years previously, cheering on the triathletes, being impressed and amazed by them. It felt like a great accomplishment to have finished the 56-mile bike course and be able to think of myself now as one of those triathletes.


The transition was mostly uneventful except I saw Debi Bernardes briefly, who was already all finished with her race. She told me she did “okay” – I later found out that she had won her age group. She encouraged me as I racked Buttercup, took off the helmet, switched to the running shoes, and clipped on the race belt. Oh, yeah, almost forgot the cycling shorts – fortunately I was able to pull them off over my big running shoes successfully and was left with my thin Lycra running shorts. I jogged off through the transition area and across the mats. My total elapsed time was 5:28 – I had made that cutoff with 2 minutes to spare.

Run (13.1 miles):

I was delighted to finally be out on the run! Even though I knew I couldn’t make a sub-8-hour finish, I still felt like I had a big smile on my face the whole way. It was suddenly scorchingly hot – somewhere around 90*F heat index and full baking sun, while the wind had died down. But there were lots of people still out on the course with me, jogging slowly or walking, making their way from one aid station to the next just like me. THIS I knew how to do! My legs didn’t feel too tired from cycling, and after the first couple of miles my feet started to feel somewhat normal again.

I kept taking on as much fluids as I could, taking salt capsules periodically, eating a cookie or a gel here and there. The volunteers at the well-stocked aid stations were kind, helpful, and enthusiastic, even this late in the day.

The heat took its toll, though. I jogged along as much as I was able, but after a while I would simply get overheated and nauseous, which would reduce me to walking. I tried to limit each walk period to 60 seconds, then start jogging slowly again, but each jogging session became shorter and shorter. But this was familiar territory to me – I had done this often on the second half of hot marathons, when my feet hurt much worse than this, so I just kept going along and trying not to be concerned about the time.

At the run turnaround there were still perhaps 15 or 20 people behind me, and I talked to them and encouraged them as much as I had energy for. I was slow, but I knew each step took me a little closer to the finish line.

At the 8:00 cutoff I was still about 4 miles from the finish line. I hoped that I would still get a medal, but I knew I would finish the course no matter what. I was reduced to walking most of the last 3 or 4 miles, just to keep from overheating, but the few people on course that I could still see were doing the same. Most folks still seemed in good spirits and were happy to be close to done.

At one mile to go I took the TRI-DRS dogtag out of my waistpack and put the chain around my neck. I didn’t want it jangling around my neck the whole way, but I definitely wanted to wear it for the last mile to remember the wonderful support that I’d gotten from the online community over the last few years.


Finally I turned that last corner and mustered another jog up and over the mats and finish line. They did have a beautiful medal waiting for me and I took off my visor so a nice young lady could hang it around my neck. I applauded some of the other late finishers and shook their hands. I was tired and had some muscle aches, but nothing hurt as badly as it can at the end of a marathon. My finish time of 8:50:50 was far beyond what I had ever anticipated, and while I was “DFL” among those who crossed the finish line, there were still more than ninety people who had started on course that day and never got there. I had survived everything Eagleman threw at me. I had achieved my primary goal for the day of crossing the finish line upright and with a smile on my face. I felt proud to wear the title of “Half Ironman Finisher”.

Allow me to conclude with one final colossal THANK YOU to all my online triathlete and running pals who supported me throughout my preparations for this event and who cheered me on. And to my beloved husband who watched the babies far more than his share. Quite literally, I couldn't have done it without you. I depended upon you every single day of the journey. You rock.

Eagleman splits email I got this morning


Congratulations on your race at Sunday's EagleMan Half Ironman Triathlon at Blackwater.

Here are your official times:




You can view the complete and expanded results for all finishers here .

Here's my line in the results data:
350 NANCY TOBY 47 ARLINGTON VA 374 1:21:22  364  7:34  366 
3:55:56 14.2 369 5:24:51 265 3:49 349 3:22:11 15:26 8:50:50

Sunday, June 12, 2005

I finished Eagleman half Ironman!

It was a long, hot day, but I finished my first half Ironman triathlon! 70.3 miles in one day, whew! Only because they didn't enforce the cutoffs, because I had a freakishly long swim and finished after the swim cutoff, and also finished the course far behind the overall cutoff of 8 hours. But I followed my own advice to "Just keep going, no matter what. Don't stop until they make you" and that got me to the finish line eventually and I got my beautiful Eagleman medal!

Results are already posted HERE.

After I recover a bit I'll work on the race report, but until then, thanks everyone for checking in on me! I appreciate it very, very much!!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Eagleman tomorrow!

I'm all checked in for Eagleman half IM in the morning! 3AM wakeup for that 6:55 swim start! I drove the beginning of the course just to remember it better, checked out the transition layout, waded in the swim entry and exit but didn't actually swim, although lots of people were. It took me 3:30 just to walk the T1 transition - they're going to be long! The swim course looks BIG but I'm not as intimidated as I was at Columbia and before our open water swim practice in the Choptank. The water feels pretty comfortable, but not too warm for a wetsuit.

I attended the "pro forum" which consisted of a panel of professional triathletes taking questions, first from the moderator and then the audience:
Natascha Badmann (Switzerland)
Karen Smyers (Mass, USA)
Bryan Rhodes (Taupo, NZ)
Luke Bell (Melbourne, AUS)

First they gave Natascha Badmann (the returning champ) a special proclamation from the Governor of Maryland, which was a nice surprise for her.

A few items I recall from the forum (I may have mixed up who said what):

Karen Smyers was genuine and warm and I enjoyed listening to her. She says she does "minimalist" training, 20-25 hours per week. Swims 3-4 times per week, 60-90 minutes each; 3-4 bike sessions, one of them a long ride of 100-120 miles; and 3-4 runs, one of them a long run of 15-20 miles. She believes in recovery days OFF!

She also said that she has a good breakfast, and so she doesn't begin taking on calories until about an hour into the event. She likes to do a short warmup in all 3 disciplines if she has time - says she usually does a 5-10 minute run "looking for the portapotties". She emphasized that getting the nutrition right is one of the hardest things about long-distance triathlons. She doesn't take anything that requires chewing (just uses gels or Gu20 every 20-30 min), because she says it interferes with her breathing (and she doesn't like to see it on the pavement). She said her race strategy tomorrow will be to swim as fast as she can and then bike as fast as she can so that she's as far down the road as possible before Natascha passes her.

Natascha said that she likes Red Bull on latter part of the run - "It gives you wings!"

Bryan Rhodes described a tough training schedule of 40-50 hours per week, including one open water swim per week, and is doing 3 half-ironman distances in 3 weeks, so he only "tapers" for a day or two for them.

Luke Bell said that for the last 3 years he has been on a cycle of competing in the USA all summer, then to Kona, then back to Australia for their summer and competing there all summer. He goes hard in races, and says that he likes to "swim like there is no bike; bike like there is no run; and run like you're scared".

I got the autographs of all four on my race bib for good luck!

Good advice for me? We'll see tomorrow! My minivan is all packed; my alarm clocks are set - Here's to falling asleep early tonight (I hope!).

Friday, June 10, 2005

Email list shameless plug

If you're just tuning in, I just wanted to let you know that we have an email discussion list for people who are attempting triathlons and/or blogging, not in any particular order of importance or seriousness.

Go HERE and please join us!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Transition practice

This afternoon I did one run-through of my transitions between the bedroom and dining room. I didn't put on my wetsuit bottoms, and I didn't use my bike (just pantomimed unracking and racking it), but I think I did everything else except maybe drying my feet after the swim with the towel. I started timing in the bedroom, taking off my wetsuit top as I went down the hall to the living room, swapped out my gear, and ran back to the bedroom before I stopped timing.

IT WAS DEFINITELY WORTH DOING. I strongly recommend it. Even though it feels silly.

I know my times for the transitions aren't really anywhere near what they will be in the triathlon (don't I wish! T1 was 2:22, T2 was 1:45), but I learned some important things:
  • The zipper on my one-piece tri-suit is broken! I may never have known that otherwise. I will have to use the separate bike shorts and my Coolmax running shirt for the triathlon. I need to test my running shirt on the bike tomorrow to be sure it doesn't flap annoyingly - if so, I'll use my cycling jersey for the bike leg.
  • It's important to adjust my cycling shoes and visor before the race, not monkey with them in transition.
  • I need to get my bike shorts arranged correctly before the race also - it takes time to turn them right side out. Duh!
  • I may need to add some sunblock and/or bug spray in T2, which will eat up some time.
  • Chugging fluids in transition eats up time, but may be worth it in T2 before the run. Don't bother in T1 - drink on the bike.
  • I'd like to stash the cycling sunglasses in the bento box and put them on once I'm going, but I don't think I'm that steady on the bike. I'll take the 10 seconds to put them on in T1 and avoid a crash. I do need to switch sunglasses in T2, and both pairs needed cleaning.
  • I still love my stretchy tri shoelaces. :)
  • This practice was a great way to check all my triathlon gear, because I found out quickly when I was missing something or it was in the wrong place.

My advice to myself

Before and during every demanding "A" race I find myself repeating the same types of things to myself. A lot of it I heard elsewhere, and it just happened to resonate with me and I kept it for my own. These include:
  • Remember that all these volunteers and officials are here JUST FOR YOU, simply so that YOU can do this event. Thank them often.
  • Remember that this is a "get to do", not a "have to do". Cultivate gratitude for a strong body and a tough mind.
  • Stay in the moment. Enjoy the scenery. Stretch.
  • Smile, even if you have to force yourself.
  • Remember what is important and why you are here.
  • When worries about later stages strike, deliberately banish them from your mind and yank yourself back to the present. You can only do what you can do RIGHT NOW. Can you keep doing what you're doing? Good. Then do it.
  • At some point during this event you will feel pissed off and will enter the Bite Me Zone. Don't waste that energy in lashing out or feeling defeated - use it to your advantage in re-energizing yourself.
  • THIS TOO SHALL PASS. If you're feeling good, roll with it but refrain from letting exuberance carry you over that red line. THIS TOO SHALL PASS. If you're feeling bad, hang in there, keep up the relentless forward progression, and be patient. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
  • Just keep going, no matter what. Don't stop until they make you.

Last minute triathlon advice

Yesterday, I asked the members of TRI-DRS for their last-minute advice before the Big Race Day. Here is just a small sampling of the many gems they offered, based on years of hard-won experience. What a priceless bunch!
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Don't leave your timing chip in the car, especially when its 10 miles from the start of the race.
  • Don't forget the timing chip (happened to me on a marathon, and then I set a new PR by 8 minutes...)
  • Don't leave your drink bottles in the fridge.
  • Do not allow your dog to bite you on the hand the day before the race.
  • The wetsuit zipper should be at your back.
  • Or your helmet. Don't put it on backwards, I mean!
  • Check for open gel packs in the helmet PRIOR to putting it on. Helps keep the vision clear during the race.
  • She who has the most fun, wins!
  • Just keep moving. And check out all the hottie boys during.
  • If you can't smile, you're pushing too hard.
  • The first tune you hear in the morning will be in your head all day. Choose it wisely.
  • You are not as fat as you imagine.
  • Drowning? In a wetsuit, things must go very, very wrong for that to happen. I'd say it is more likely that you'll be hit by a lightning.
  • There is no reason to be nervous. A race is not a test, it is a reward for the endless hours of training you've done.
  • Be Flexible: as in adapt to whatever the day delivers. Nothing is as bad as it seems and everything is better than you realize!!
  • At some point in the race, things will get hard. That's not a bad thing; in fact, deep down, most people are looking for that point. Approach it slowly & back off, or push right through it ... but just remember, it's supposed to be hard, so accept it when it comes and then deal with it how you choose ... ease back, ignore, accept & push more. It's your choice.

Thank you so much, people, I do appreciate all your kind words and support! Special thanks go out to Rick Smith, who took the time to send me a very reassuring item-by-item analysis of my whole list of worries, and to pro triathlete Tara Norton, who sent me a kind "good luck" email while still recovering from the injuries that keep her out of Eagleman. Any other last-minute words of wisdom for me?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

My Eagleman pace chart

These are the splits I have to hit to make the finish line in 8:00 (er, make that 7:59), allowing the full 1:10 for the swim, 10 minutes for transitions, and 3 hours for the half marathon run, and planning in some inevitable slowing-down on the bike and run. Anything ahead of this pace is gravy. If my day is going well, I'm confident that I can make these times. If something bad happens, well, it happens, and hopefully I can roll with the punches and make up a little time later. Does this look correct to you? I think I can, I think I can....


Start SWIM (6:55am)

End SWIM - start T1 1:10



Start BIKE 1:17

22 mile turn 2:42
15.5 mph
37 mile turn 3:40
15.5 mph
47 mile turn 4:20
15.0 mph
End bike - start T2 4:57
15.0 mph


Start RUN 5:00

3 miles 5:38
13:00 pace
turnaround: 6.55 6:25

10 miles 7:15
14:20 pace


Things I'm obsessing over

Five days until Eagleman half ironman. These are the things on my mind:

The heat. Current Sunday forecast reads: "Partly cloudy, chance of a thunderstorm. Highs in the low 80s and lows in the mid 60s." That's okay - as long as the winds are moderate until noon, and the humidity is low. Hah! Low humidity in Cambridge, Maryland is an oxymoron. I'm not yet acclimatized to hot weather after our cold spring, but then again, few on the course will be, and as Linae pointed out, I'm familiar with how I need to handle my hydration and electrolytes in hot running races.

Sun and wind. Nothing I can do about it, of course, just be ready with plenty of sunblock and have mental stamina through upwind sections of the bike course. A little wind on the run course will probably feel good, though!

The early day. It's going to be a 3AM wakeup for me, which may be a bit rough. I've started to get up an hour earlier than usual - I may move it up to 2 hours earlier from now until the race, but 3AM is just Suck O'Clock. I'll plan on an extra-long sleep on Friday night, because let's be honest, I'll be staring at the ceiling Saturday night.

The currents. It worries me to think that I'll be starting during the highest tidal flow of the day, over 0.4 knots. Nothing I can do about it now, just be mentally prepared. I'm going to try to arrange a warmup swim on Saturday at the race site, just to calm my nerves a bit. I'll have to remember to just relax and make appropriate corrections if I start getting pushed off course.

The wetsuit. I'm not accustomed to the constrictive feeling of the neck. I hope it won't contribute to another hyperventilation debacle. I'll try it out at least one more time before the race, though.

Waves. I don't mind a few swells and a little chop. Fortunately the weather reports aren't calling for strong winds, but if we suddenly had sustained winds over 15-20 knots and some serious wave action on the Choptank, small craft advisories, etc., it just wouldn't be sensible for me to attempt the swim. I'm just too weak of a swimmer. I would hope that I would choose to DNS. I certainly never want to attempt Ironman Utah conditions.

Finishing the swim. I keep reminding myself that this swim is "only" 472 yards longer (28%) than the swim I did in the Columbia Triathlon. Even if I swim at the same slow speed I did there, it should only take me 14 additional minutes. Use the first half with the current as warmup, and plan for a hard swim on the second half. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.... Fortunately I see that they have allowed 15 full minutes between the start of the "senior wave" (my wave - gack, I'm not ready for AARP status!) and the next wave. I still expect to be overtaken by several successive waves of swimmers, but I know that if I start seeing navy blue caps when I'm not very near the finish I'm in trouble, because that wave starts 55 minutes after me, and the swim cutoff is 1:10.

Changing clothes in transition. This may cost me a couple of minutes in transitions, but I think the added comfort will pay off in the overall time. I'm swimming with a jogbra and plain thin lycra shorts under the wetsuit. Then in T1 after stripping the wetsuit I will add a bike jersey and bike shorts on top of all that. (Yes, I've practiced cycling in the 2 pairs of shorts and it seems to work well.) Then in T2 I will remove the jersey and bike shorts, then throw on a clean dry Coolmax shirt, my visor, and race belt, and run in the lycra shorts. Plus swapping my bike and run shoes. I may want to practice these transitions on Friday when I have all my gear assembled.

Managing my fluid, electrolyte, and fuel replenishment on the bike course. I've got my watch timer set up to beep at 30-minute intervals. Right now I'm planning to ingest at least 1 bottle of water or Gatorade (20-24 ounces), 1 Succeed buffered salt capsule, and half a Powerbar or a Powergel in each half-hour time period. I'm much more familiar with managing my refueling during running races, so I'm not worried about the run leg. My number one job on the bike (aside from getting around the course) is to get myself to the run leg feeling reasonably good and topped off with fuel.

Flats? That would annoy me and slow me down, but I have everything I need to handle a couple of flats and keep going, after some considerable delay, no doubt.

The bike leg distance. 56 miles and close to 4 hours on the bike will be a BIG challenge for me, to be sure. My longest training ride has been 30 miles, which is not nearly enough. It's almost like doing a marathon with no long runs over 14 miles. I expect to be in considerable discomfort by the bike leg finish - but at least you can't drown on the bike leg.

The run? That doesn't worry me. While I respect the half marathon distance, and expect that I may be feeling kind of rotten when I get off the bike, I've done a couple dozen half marathons and I know I can handle the slow, relentless forward progression that it will take to finish it. With people starting on course as long as 1:34 behind me, I probably won't be the last person to reach the finish line. Being passed all day? No problem, I am TOTALLY accustomed to that! And after running out last time, I'm pretty sure that the race organizers will make sure that there are enough medals for the late finishers.

My gear? I think all the stuff I need is just about ready. I have a pile of things assembled in the dining room protected by a baby corral so the girls don't start picking through it and strewing it around the house. I have to pack my bike bento box and run waist-belt, and fill my bike water bottles, but that's about it. Yes, Vertical Man, my water bottles are already clean! My regular Tri Gear Checklist is here, and I've already printed it out and checked off a lot of stuff.

What else? Am I forgetting something major? I'm sure there's more. I may add to this post as I think of more things. Get them down in writing, and maybe they won't be spinning around in my head quite so madly. It all seems very complicated right now, but maybe after I have more triathlon experience the whole thing will seem simpler. I feel that if I walk through all the worst-case disaster scenarios in my head, I'll be ready to cope with any that occur on race day. Thanks for bearing with me through these mental gymnastics!

Oh yeah. I almost forgot the most important parts: Remember to HAVE FUN and THANK THE VOLUNTEERS!

And I should never forget that like Zack -- I, too, have a Secret Weapon!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Two out of three

Karen SmyersOne of the cool things about triathlons and road races is that you get to be out there on the same course with the professionals, experiencing the same conditions, racing the same race. There are not many sports where that is possible!

I'm not much of a celebrity-watcher, but there are three female professional triathletes that I'd especially like to see in person. Two of them are racing at Eagleman and starting on the swim course just five minutes before me! That will be the last I'll see of them that day, but it will still be exciting to watch them start - like beginning a marathon in Corral #2 directly behind the elite runners (or so I imagine).

Tara Norton, a professional triathlete and TRI-DRS member (10:52:51 for 25th place last year at Hawaii Ironman World Championships in Kona), had planned to race at Eagleman before she suffered a devastating bike accident in mid-May. We wish her a speedy recovery and quick return to peak health and racing form.

Natascha Badmann is known not only for her five wins at the Hawaii Ironman World Championships in Kona, including last fall when she was robbed by the doping Nina Kraft, but also for her radiant smile throughout the race. She has won Eagleman twice, last year in 4:13:42, and is returning for her third race to the podium.

Karen Smyers, pictured above, has attained legendary status in the triathlete community. Her resume includes numerous wins - World Championships titles in 1990, 1995, 1996, the Professional National Champion title for six consecutive years, a gold medal at the 1995 Pan Am Games, the Triathlon Pro Tour in 1993 and 1994, the World Cup Series in 1991, and a dramatic come-from-behind victory over 7-time champion Paula Newby-Fraser in the Hawaiian Ironman World Championships in 1995. But what's more significant even than that is the incredible spirit she has shown in coming back from thyroid cancer, road accidents, serious injuries, and the births of two children during her long career. She was honored with the Comeback Athlete Award and also voted Sports Mom of the Year by Working Mother magazine, and as one fan said, "Three months after having a c-section was up and competing."

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The TRI-DRS dog tag

TRIDRS dogtagIt arrived in yesterday's mail - a simple dog tag on a chain. Along with it came a sheaf of notes and mementos from the members of the TRI-DRS list. They had encouraging words, and dates and signatures - but the individual identities aren't as important as the collective message:

"May the tag bring you a constant tailwind and many easy miles."
"Undertrained + overweight + dog tag? = 3:53:27 - PR, BABY! May your two legs never tire! November 24, 2002"
on a piece of a Philadelphia Marathon brochure
"28 Nov 04 4:10:48 Jim B___ US Army Best time in 4 years" on a race bib reading "Bagdad Marathon, Camp Victory"
"IM USA - DNF @ mile 127.5. If you ever hit bottom, experience despair or fear in a race - take my advice. Do yourself a favor and sit down and eat. 5 minutes or 10 - then try again. Decide if things still look black. You may be very surprised." on an Ironman Lake Placid bib number.
"I got my Mickey medal! You can reach your goal too! Good luck!" on a scan of the dogtags with a bib number and a medal from the Walt Disney World Marathon
"M&Ms / Trail Mix / Potato chips in water bottles" on a program from Ironman Lake Placid
"A battle that was won when I crossed the finish line! 11:39:36" on a bib number from Ironman Canada
"May you enjoy the power of a thousand smiles. Wear the tags with pride and race with joy." on a smiley-face card.
"The legend of the tag continues. May it bring you as much strength and stamina as it brought me. Race well." on a bib number from the Around the Bay 30km
"IMLP 2003 - 'The Monsoon IM' The TRI-DRS tags got me through the rain and wind and cold and hills and so much more. Use them well." on an item from Ironman Lake Placid
"TRI-DRS dog tags rule! PR by 5 min." on a Buffalo Springs Half Ironman bib number
"Character lies in conquering fear." on a Ironman Hawaii postcard
A birth announcement of a 10 pound, 11 ounce baby boy with a photograph of him wearing the dog tags
"The magic of the TRI-DRS dog tags continue! It brought me energy from Hopkinton to Boston on my very first Boston!" on a scan of a race bib and race photos from the Boston Marathon
"The legend of the dog tag continues. A new 1/2 IM PR by 16 min. Could not have done it without the group." on a flyer from the Gulf Coast triathlon
"The dog tag did it again! 11:58:47" on a postcard from Ironman Hawaii
"Use the dog tags. They work. 13:34 IMLP 'The Monsoon IM' with NO training." on a race map for Ironman Lake Placid

I'm overwhelmed. I love these people. They have entrusted to me their holy relics, still bearing stains of their sweat and tears. I'm honored that they've welcomed me into their numbers. I can only hope to do the tag proud on race day.