Wednesday, August 31, 2005

One-legged cycling drills

I learned to ride a bike when I was perhaps 7 or 8. So let's call it 40 years now that I've known how to ride a bike.

It took until today to learn how badly I suck at pedaling.

Lots of coaches recommend one-legged pedaling drills to improve efficiency. A few different people have recommended them to me - like Yurtie, and the trainer who did Kona that I rode with for a few miles out on the road who noticed how I was pedaling all stupid and pointy-toed. She unclipped one foot and demonstrated how smooth and easy it should be, then switched feet and demonstrated with the other foot. Never missing a beat, while going easily at about 16 mph.

I tried it on the road by myself when there were no cars around and nobody was watching. I was riding along and unclipped one foot and held it out to the side. Then I proceeded to lose all control and nearly fall down in the middle of the road.

I abandoned that idea until my next trainer ride, which I have cleverly been able to successfully postpone until today.

I started with five minutes warmup. Then I unclipped one foot and pedaled with the other by itself. Fortunately the bike trainer prevented me from falling over. But I was definitely "pedaling squares". It felt clumsy and awkward and as if I had never pedaled a bike in my life. Worst of all, it was *really* tiring. I lasted about one minute.

Then I tried it on the other leg. Not surprisingly, with similar results. Also very tiring.

I repeated the sequence once. That was enough.

A few weeks ago I saw one guy with a bum leg pedaling around easily on a bike with a pedal on one side and a little platform on the other side for his bad foot. I noted it, thought it was interesting, but I was not nearly as impressed by it as I am today, in retrospect.

I sure am glad I have two relatively good legs, so I can hide most of my inability to pedal in a circle. I won't make the mistake of doing that one-legged stuff again.

At least not where anybody can see it.

Katrina's ongoing effects

From a post on the WWLTV discussion boards:

"They interviewed a man in DC that said he used to live in New Orleans.. I think he put it best.. He said "The country needs to understand that a MAJOR US city is in ruins.. Over a million people are without homes, without jobs, without ANYTHING".. I can't believe no one else is emphasizing this fact!! Also, last year in Florida there were FOUR hurricanes in a short span.. In all that time only 5 relief teams went in.. There are FORTY in the city of New Orleans.. The gov't has moved FOUR Navy ships to the area to help with rescue and medical needs and has more forces on standby.. Why don't people understand the gravity of this situation?!? Also, I think it needs to be said that some sort of relief and aid efforts MUST be promoted nationwide.. We spend MILLIONS of dollars on other countries, yet people in Jefferson parish have no water?? This is ridiculous!!"

Here again are those links to relief organizations. Please be generous:
Page of relief organizations
Red Cross

Katrina's spinoff effects

We're all going to experience some repercussions from Hurricane Katrina, though they will be miniscule effects compared to the folks directly in the path of the storm.

Gas prices are forecast to rise by as much as $1.10 per gallon by this weekend. We're filling our tanks now.

My husband may have to go to Denmark for a week to cover some duties that would normally be handled by some employees from a branch of his company located on the Gulf Coast. That may mean I will be on the bike trainer more than usual, will be doing a lot of jogstroller walks, can't go to the pool, and I may have to DNS the St. Michaels Century ride on September 10th.

A little interruption in my training and a little heavier burden at the gas pump seems a very small price to pay. On some of my email lists we still have no word from some of the members in Mississippi and Louisiana - hopefully it's only due to power outages. I think I'll postpone setting my numerical September goals until our personal situation becomes a little more clear.

Hearing the details of disasters like this does add a little grounding to the importance of physical training, though. Would I have the strength to hold onto a tree all night, battered by waves and hurricane-force winds, the way some survivors did? Would I be able to swim to safety from a flooded building? Would I be fit enough to walk down 75 flights of stairs to get out of the World Trade Center in time? Would I have the stamina to carry my children to safety? Physical fitness is NOT trivial in those situations. There were times in my life, not so long ago, when I was heading in the direction of NOT being able to do those things. Hopefully I'm headed in a more positive direction now.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Geezerjock performance standards

The Summer National Senior Games will be held in June and July of 2007 in Louisville, Kentucky. I turn 50 on June 23rd of that year, when the Games are underway, so I may not qualify until the following games (possibly depending on which state I qualify in).

That technicality aside, I've got a little less than two years to train to meet the qualifying standards for 50-year-old women. Let's take a look at the standards in place in 2005 for some selected events:

Track & Field/Running:
100m: 17.40
200m: 35.70
400m: 1:30.70
800m: 3:31.50
1500m: 7:00.00
5K road race: 25:08 (2005 winner: 21:07)
10K road race: 55:00 (2005 winner: 47:03)

50 yd freestyle: 38.20
100 yd freestyle: 1:30.10
200 yd freestyle: 2:46.10
500 yd freestyle: 8:53.40
50 yd breaststroke: 49.50
100 yd breaststroke: 1:54.60
200 yd breaststroke: 4:03.50

They also have cycling competitions (5k, 10k, 20k, and 40k) and a sprint triathlon (400m swim, 20k bike, 5k run) that don't appear to have published performance standards. Here are the 50-54 year old female division winner's times:

5k cycle: 8:13.1
10k cycle: 18:20.8
20k cycle: 36:06.9
40k cycle: 1:13:10.8
Sprint tri: 1:06:51

I'm a long way from any of those times. I guess I have my work cut out for me, eh? It's nice to have benchmarks to shoot for, though!

End of month summary

This all seems trivial after watching the life-and-death drama going on in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but ... well, one of the important reasons I work out is to better prepare my body to handle emergencies. So there's a link.

I had an *outstanding* workout this morning - 3 miles on the treadmill and 2100 meters in the pool, and it all felt relaxed and easy (except for the complaining my arthritic ankle did for the first mile on the treadmill, then thankfully it shut up). It feels so virtuous to be stepping on the treadmill at 6AM, and to be all done with the workout and showered up by 8:30AM. :-)

I probably won't do much tomorrow on the last day of the month, maybe a half an hour on the bike trainer and some crunches. So it's time to look at my totals for the month again, and contrast them with the goals I set at the beginning of the month.

1. Swim 3520 yards (2 miles) just for practice: Swam 9078 yards (5.1 miles). Blew that goal absolutely out of the water. 257% of goal. A+.
2. Cycle 80 miles: rode 119 miles. 148% of goal. A+.
3. Run 80 miles: ran/walked 77 miles. 96% of goal. A.
4. Other training, complete 1000 crunches: 1100 crunches. 110% of goal. A+.
5. Events, complete 1 ten mile road race: Did that, at a pace over 1 minute per mile better than my last 3 runs in the same race. I'll call that an A, just because I'd still like to have a faster finishing time than I actually did.

August grade: A+!!!

The goals that I set were fairly modest, which was important after a few months of not hitting my goals. The bottom line is that I did a great job of meeting my goals for August, my consistency was excellent, I did some very solid cross-training, and I just need to set somewhat more demanding mileage/yardage goals for September. I'll give that a day or two of thought.

Three new things that have helped me train this month:
  1. Slightly milder weather than July, for the most part.
  2. Setting out my weekly workout plans and accomplishments in the right-hand column on this blog. Making it public keeps me accountable.
  3. The advice, encouragement, and wisdom of my friend Simon Hayes, aka "Yurtie", a TRI-DRS member in Australia who, when I was dithering about the Ironman Florida decision, stepped forward and volunteered to coach me online and set up workout plans for the last six weeks and the weeks leading up to the IMFL decision date. Yurtie just plain rocks. He's been a great help in showing me the way to prove it to myself (or not) whether I can do the training it will take to finish an ironman triathlon next year. This month's results certainly make it look much more promising than it did one short month ago. Thank you, Yurtie, and good luck in the Sydney Marathon on September 11!

Hurricane Katrina aftermath

I've been watching the devastation on CNN this morning. Incredible.

Please join me in making a donation to the Red Cross National Disaster Relief Fund to help victims of this catastrophe.

Or any other relief organization - here's a whole page of them. (Thanks for the link, Bunnygirl).

For those interested in Katrina news updates, there's a local news feed here:

Monday, August 29, 2005

Energy gels

2 questions for my readers:

1) Does anyone mix up their own gels? I was just thinking about mixing up my own carbohydrate concentrate, since I can't seem to find one I really like. Read for some ideas on this topic. I'd like to mix up a thick slurry that I can swig out of the gel flask and combine with water from the water stops, either on the bike or on the run, and get the energy I need, supplemented with electrolyte capsules. There's a few recipes online here, too.

2) Is there a commercial gel - any brand, any flavor - out there that really tastes GOOD to anyone when they're working hard and hot and sweaty? I've run through several of them on the market - Powergels, Clif Shots, Hammergels, CarbBooms, etc., and they all taste like warm crap to me when I'm hot. I take them because I know I need them and feel better if I keep my nutrition up, but I really have to choke them down when they start tasting bad.

Recommendations I've gotten so far (I'll keep a list here as I receive them):

  • GU chocolate
  • GU plain (Linae says it 'sucks the least')
  • Hammergel apple cinnamon
  • Hammergel(?) vanilla
  • eGels
  • Hammergels
  • Cytosport Gulp 'n' Go vanilla
  • Another vote for eGels (I think I need a polling feature).

Here's a table of nutrient composition of various gels (thanks Phil!).

Congratulations to IMC finishers!

Congratulations to TRI-DRS member Katherine Hobson on her phenomenal 11:46 finish at Ironman Canada yesterday, and to all the other 2049 Ironmen and Ironwomen who came across that finish line! Well done!

It had the largest one-wave start in Ironman history, and over 30% of competitors were female. It was a tough day for many, with an 8.6% DNF rate.

Many thanks to IronAyla for sharing her great photos of Penticton and the Ironman competition with us.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Run Nancy Run!


When I left the house it was a torrential downpour. When 3900 of us (or so) gathered for the start of the Annapolis Ten Miler next to Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, it sprinkled on us. Then not a drop for the entire race! We were lucky indeed! So while the humidity was maxed out, the temperature was much cooler than usual for this race, which helped a lot.

I ran well! Started sensibly with the first three (mostly downhill) miles in the 11 mpm range, then slowed once I hit those wicked hills as I anticipated. One Carb-Boom and a Succeed cap just after the 3 mile mark, and another dose of both just after the 6 mile mark, and I stayed well-hydrated at the frequent water stops along the way. I didn't care for the taste of the two Carb-Booms that I tried (orange-vanilla and apple cinnamon) but at least they didn't make me gag.

I worked hard for a finish time (on my watch) of 2:01:24. How hard? My average heart rate for the entire race was 175 beats/minute. I glimpsed a reading of 181 on the heart rate meter on the final cruelly steep uphill toward the finish line, even though I was trying my best not to look at it then. :-) (So much for the old "220 minus your age" for maximum heart rate estimation - that yields only 172 for me!)

That's my 2nd fastest ten miler, and more than a minute per mile better than my three previous outings in this race! Yay!! I think I could have gone a little faster if my legs were fresh, but my old hamstrings still felt a bit stiff from the 30 miles on the bike 2 days ago. But just like that day, what a difference 10 degrees makes! So I'll count that as a pretty darned good training weekend and take a full rest day again tomorrow. Ahhhhh!!!!!

Hmmm. I just noticed that there were only 3867 finishers - and yet entries were capped at 5000. Wow, over 22% no-shows and non-finishers!?!? Amazing.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Annapolis Ten Miler Packet Pickup

I went to packet pickup today for tomorrow's Annapolis Ten Miler. This is an awesome race with which I have a long-term love-hate relationship.

It's VERY hilly and usually VERY hot. It lures you in, chews you up quite thoroughly, and spits you out. It would be a challenging course for October or November, but it's held in the dog days of August - so relentless heat, humidity, and sun are big factors. Add on 1 to 2 minutes per mile to your usual ten miler pace and lots of blood, sweat, and tears and you have the Annapolis Ten Miler.

I've run it three times now. It used to have a lovely route through the United States Naval Academy, but since 9/11 it's been routed around it for security reasons.

One of the big lures of this event is phenomenal schwag, and this year is no exception. We received a very well-made wind vest with an embroidered logo at packet pickup. I was delighted to see when I picked it up that the back is mesh and it includes pockets along the rear side edge, like a cycling jersey. This is going to be a perfect foul weather cycling vest! I'll wear it a lot.

Other years I got a polo shirt and a pair of warmup pants. Nice stuff that gets a lot of wear from the happy recipients! Last year I also got a hand towel with the race logo embroidered on it that they gave out after the race. This year the finishers' premium is an acrylic sailboat.

The course is deceptively difficult. I'm pretty sure that negative splits are impossible on this course. Tomorrow we'll start at Navy Stadium and the first mile just takes you on a loop around the stadium parking lots. That's your warmup, enjoy the horizontal surface because that's the last you'll see of it.

Then the course heads down toward the old section of town. Take the roundabout around the Maryland state capitol, then head down the old cobbled main street. Literally down, because there's a fairly steep slope down to the harbor. Take advantage of it and pick up some time here. We'll need it later on.

Swing past the harbor and Ego Alley where the big yachts come in, past the statue of Alex Haley reading to children and the plaque noting that the auction of the famous Kunta Kinte was held near there.

Then swing over by the Naval Academy gate and begin climbing up that hill you just came down. Take some water from the Naval Academy midshipmen and thank them for their enthusiastic support. Take a right at the top and you'll be heading straight up the old Severn River Bridge. It seems to go on forever and it's impossibly steep - don't forget that it's tall enough for sailboats to go clear under it! Enjoy the climb, because you're doing it again soon.

Down the other side of the bridge, almost to sea level, and then take a right and you're heading back up a steep hill into residential neighborhoods in the cliffs looking over the Severn. Up and down and up and down and winding around through this neighborhood you go. Fortunately there's good support from the local residents and they'll be out cheering you on.

Finally you have a long steep haul back down the hill, and another tough shadeless climb over the old Severn River Bridge again. If the temperature is high (and it always is) you'll be scorched on this treeless stretch and working hard over the bridge. Lots of folks will be walking. But after you clear it you've only got only one mile to go - but it seems like the longest on the course. I'll be one of the stragglers at this point and the aid stations will be starting to clean up.

Keep trudging through a zig-zag, and finally you'll see the stadium up ahead. But the course has one last bit of nastiness to leave you with - you have to go all the way around the backside of the stadium, where you're presented with a horribly steep climb to get to the finish line.

Cross the line, congratulate yourself, and pick up your finisher's sailboat. Enjoy your trophy and display it proudly. You've completed one of the toughest ten mile road races in the country!

Fortunately this is a "C" race for me this year - just a 10 mile workout as I gear up for marathon season ahead. I'll use this race to test my longer distance endurance, try out a new running shirt I got at the expo today, and test some new flavors of Carb-Boom gel to see how my stomach likes them during races. My three times (on the two slightly different courses) have all been between 2:11 and 2:14. I'd like to beat those, and tomorrow promises to have the coolest temperatures of my four attempts, but also with the possibility of showers. Let's just get out there and run the best race we can!

DVD recommendations?

Thinking ahead, I'm starting to assemble some DVDs for bike trainer rides when the weather turns bad this fall. I want to head off that tired old "It's too boring" excuse. I don't want to lose the performance gains I've made this year over the winter.

* Ironman DVDs -
Do you recommend any particularly inspiring years??

* Spinervals DVDs -
Any that you found especially helpful and motivating?


My two biggest movie recommendations for the trainer right now are:
Running On The Sun (2000)
Chariots of Fire (1981)

I may also order the Overcoming DVD about the CSC professional cycling team, of which I'm a fan.

Others? Thanks in advance for your recommendations! I'll compile a list when I get a few together!

Recommendations received (I'll keep a list here):

Overcoming - link to order inside USA

Ironman 1995: Karen Smyers victory, PNF collapse, Mark Allen comeback
Ironman 1997: Bob Jordan tearjerker
Ironman 1999: The Hoyt's journey

Breaking Away
American Flyer
Remember the Titans

T2 sunblock for speedy application

Here's a great product for spraying on the sunblock in transitions in a big hurry, if you haven't seen it before: waterproof, sweatproof SPF 30 sunblock in a pressurized spray. I like to use it on my daughters, since it goes on very quickly while they're squirming around getting excited about going outside.

I also like SPF 36 Bullfrog in the pump spray, but it takes a little longer to get on. And after a while I my finger gets tired from pumping it.

Your skin will thank you. (Just ask Oldman and Holly).

Friday, August 26, 2005

What a difference!

Wow! what a difference 10 degrees makes! Today's bike ride - in only 80*F - was wonderful!! Plus very little wind helped, too.

Here's my route around the Bay Hundred peninsula, from St. Michaels to McDaniels and Claiborne, then to the bridge to Tilghman Island and back. 30 miles, with some nice glimpses of the Chesapeake Bay along the way. Flat and fast on wide shoulders.

I made an all-time high average speed for a longer ride: 17.2 miles per hour! On fire! With an average heart rate of 145 bpm. That's a massive improvement for me! I only made 16.2 mph in my last race on July 31st. Perhaps it helped that I paced myself most of the way with my watch timer: 5 minutes riding hard down in the aerobars, then 1 minute for sitting up briefly or standing, stretching, and taking a drink of water. That worked well to keep me fresh and my back lasted a lot longer before it started complaining.

I know I can get faster - more time in the saddle is the key! Finally I'm getting to the point where my creaky old body - including my crotch, which gave me discomfort for months and months, is finally getting used to the job I'm asking it to do and I'm riding strong!

Or is it that I'm finally getting Buttercup trained!?

Happy swimmer

I've turned on word verification for comments because I loathe comment spam. I'm sorry they've ruined it for the rest of us. :-( I also loathe cowardly commenters who use the cloak of anonymity to leave nasty personal remarks and other filthy evidence of their vile personalities while lacking the courage to claim their own words. That goes double for quasi-anonymous folks, who have gone to all the trouble of signing up for a blogger account yet put no other information about themselves on the site, with the sole objective of spewing rudeness and ugliness in their derogatory comments. You know who you are. "Uh, tell us how you really feel, Nance." But anyway....

For my *nicer* readers, here's one of the happiest little bears you're ever likely to see. I wish I looked that happy when I swim! I think I probably look just about that plump.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Great IMMOO tool

For those of you doing Ironman Wisconsin on September 11, 2005; or contemplating it for another year, there's a fabulous online tool for calculating all your split times. I haven't seen anything like it for other race locations.

Swimming stats o' the day

My swimming has a long way to go. But it's coming along. Today was just a run-of-the-mill lap swim day, 1250m. Just for fun I counted strokes (and timed it) for 100m of breaststroke and 100m of freestyle, just so that I can track it in my training log as I (hopefully) improve. I was not pushing it, just swimming at my normal lap swim pace that I feel I can maintain over a distance.

Here's my data, just for the record, alongside some data from elite female swimmers, 13-14 years old, during 100m races. It's not a valid direct comparison, certainly, but it's the first such swim stroke data I could find in a quick net search.

Breaststroke speed (meters/sec) : Elite: 1.27 Me: 0.54 (42%)
Breaststroke speed (sec/100 m) : Elite: 78.7 Me: 183 (43%)
Breaststroke stroke length (meters/stroke) : Elite: 1.61 Me: 1.04 (64%)
Breaststroke stroke frequency (strokes/sec) : Elite: 0.79 Me: 0.52 (65%)
Breaststroke, strokes per 25 m: Elite: 15.5 Me: 24.0

Freestyle speed (meters/sec) : Elite: 1.59 Me: 0.54 (33%)
Freestyle speed (sec/100 m) : Elite: 62.8 Me: 185 (35%)
Freestyle stroke length (meters/stroke cycle) : Elite: 1.90 Me: 1.31 (68%)
Freestyle stroke frequency (stroke cycles/sec) : Elite: 0.84 Me: 0.54 (64%)
Freestyle, stroke cycles per 25 m: Elite: 13.1 Me: 19.0

What does this tell me?
* Not that I don't compare well to the elites. That's obvious - I'm about 1/3 as fast! It's not my objective to challenge the elites, that's laughable! Besides, I wasn't even RACING. ;-) I was in a 25m pool and I don't even know how to do flip turns. Yet.
* My objective is to see how my own performance improves gradually over time, and the numbers hopefully move in the right direction, as I repeat this little test periodically in the future as my swimming improves. Today's test gives me baseline data.
* My breaststroke is comparatively better than my freestyle. They were approximately the same speed today.
* Both my distance per stroke and stroke frequency should increase in order to get faster, over time. (Although most experts say work on the technique first to enhance efficiency, then work on stroke frequency and power later).
* I'd like to find some better comparative data, say, for example, female masters swimmers. If you have those numbers for stroke frequency and stroke length, please send them my way! (Like this study, showing that world record times for older female masters swimmers for 1500 m are in the 25-minute range, and anything under 30 minutes is pretty darned fast).

Here's some more swimming data I was just referred to in another great source: the 2000 women's US Olympic Trials (thanks, Jill!):

Breaststroke, 200m, speed (meters/sec) : Elite: 1.22 - 1.34
Breaststroke, 200m, speed (sec/100 m) : Elite: 74.6 - 81.9
Breaststroke, 200m, stroke length (meters/stroke) : Elite: 1.61 - 2.01
Breaststroke, 200m, stroke frequency (strokes/sec) : Elite: 0.665 - 0.770
Breaststroke, 200m, strokes per 25 m: Elite: 12.4 - 15.5

Freestyle, 800m, speed (meters/sec) : Elite: 1.58 - 1.74
Freestyle, 800m, speed (sec/100 m) : Elite: 57.4 - 63.2
Freestyle, 800m, stroke length (meters/stroke cycle) : Elite: 1.70 - 2.22
Freestyle, 800m, stroke frequency (stroke cycles/sec) : Elite: 0.73 - 0.94
Freestyle, 800m, stroke cycles per 25 m: Elite: 11.2 - 14.7

That is just sick, isn't it? I mean, those Olympic freestylers could do a full lap in our 25m club pool in 29 seconds flat. And those aren't even the sprinters.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Evidence found

I found it. Conclusive evidence of Shelley's nefarious activities. Right over there on her blog for the whole world to see.

I sure hope that syringe is full of EPO. Because I may just need it.


I love the Tri-geek Kahuna's rant: Blog or else! Yep, if the blogs on my sidebar can only muster one or two posts for the entire summer, they're getting culled off my list. That's ridiculous! There are no vacations from fitness! Show me a triathlon blog with infrequent posts and I'll show you a blogger who isn't training.

Also, another blogging pet peeve: If you're going to stop by someone's blog, why not take a moment to LEAVE A COMMENT? It only takes a moment and it's a nice compliment to the blogger that their writings are having an impact out there for their readers. Blogs are meant to be more or less interactive - so COMMENT already!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

It's Shelley's fault

I can't believe that Shelley talked me into this.

The Ford Ironman World Championship selects 200 athletes each year to participate through a lottery system. One hundred and fifty of the athletes will be selected from the United States applicants and fifty athletes will be selected from other countries. The Ford Ironman World Championship is one of the most in demand athletic events in the world. Qualifying gets more difficult each year, so the lottery is another option to enter the race.

This message is generated as confirmation of your recent registration on You have been successfully registered for the following:
Registration: 2006 Ford Ironman World Championship Lottery
Purchase Date: 08/23/05
Team: United States
Category: Lottery Application
Event Date: 10/14/06

The 2006 Event will be held on October 14th in Kailua-Kona, HI. The lottery results will be posted on April 15th, 2006 at 12:00 pm EST on Athletes who are SELECTED through the Ironman Lottery must have completed a Global Tri Group (GTG) endorsed event within one year of the 2006 Ford Ironman World Championship to validate his/her lottery slot. Lottery winners should plan on completing the validating race before August 31, 2006, and all validating information should be received in the Kona Race Office by August 31th, 2006. Failure to comply will result in forfeiture of the lottery slot.


It's amazing how two 2-year-olds can turn a simple trip to the grocery store into an adventure fraught with unpredictability.

Let me say first that we're incredibly lucky to have Peapod grocery delivery by the Giant grocery stores in our area. I don't know what we would have done without it in the last couple of years. We're able to shop online and get all our groceries delivered within a two-hour window for a nominal charge. It's pure luxury. I honestly don't know how parents who have to take two or more little ones to the store simultaneously do it without going nuts. When we need to make an emergency run to the store, my husband or I have always done it while the other watches the girls. A couple of times we have taken Catherine, but not often.

But today we were out of milk, Steve wasn't here, and I was forced to take both girls with me to the store. Together. For the first time in their little lives both together, believe it or not!

Catherine threw a tantrum first getting into the minivan because she apparently thought we were going for a walk instead of driving somewhere. Wrong. But she settled down when we were underway.

At the store parking lot I got a cart and I strapped Catherine in the seat and put Elisabeth in the basket. Elisabeth remained seated quietly the whole time in the bottom of the basket like a little angel, just taking it all in silently! What a good girl!

As I was going in, I passed a woman exiting with a cart overflowing with 87 bags of groceries, two tiny girls traipsing alongside, and a baby in the cart seat. It put things in perspective for me really quickly.

Inside the store the girls seemed overwhelmed and were as good as gold! I was not expecting that! I asked Catherine if she wanted one of her favorites, watermelon, or "wa-muh", and she was happy to help me pick out a slice.

We went through the aisles and I piled up the groceries around Elisabeth in the cart. The only little problem was when she tried to open the little carton of fresh mozzarella swimming in water. I didn't think that was a good idea, but some rearranging solved it.

Otherwise they were quiet and happy the whole time! *shocked disbelief*

The only time Catherine was unhappy was when I took the watermelon out of the cart and put it on the checkout stand. I think that she thought I was giving HER watermelon away to the cashier.

One of the older checkout ladies started asking Elisabeth, "Will you give me your curls?" I thought that was a little creepy. But fortunately we were all done shopping without incident and I was able to pack up my groceries and hustle my girls out and take everything back home again.

This was definitely a lucky break today. I know I'll have to pay double for this one some time in the future. Just wait until they learn to wheedle for me to buy them things....

Monday, August 22, 2005

Speaking of slimeballs

I couldn't be more delighted that that cowardly human sewage Eric Rudolph got life in prison without hope of parole for the deadly bombing at Centennial Park at the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games in 1996. In fact, I think a substantially harsher penalty would be entirely deserved for his terrorist acts, including his deadly bombing of an abortion clinic in 1998.

I was at Centennial Plaza that very day for my work at the Olympics, just a few hours before the bombing occurred.

Another interesting Google mapping application: Map the registered sex offenders that live near you. Uh, if they're registered. Take a look at Washington, DC: there's a pretty scary concentration of them in the Southeast quadrant of the city.

Two extremes of athletes

A couple of my correspondents wrote today about a woman who participated in the 18th Central Park Triathlon (1/4-mile swim, 12 mile bike, 5 mile run) yesterday. She apparently omitted one of three laps in the swim and still tried to claim an award for the 55-59 age group. The race director was on to her tricks, though, since she apparently was known to have done this kind of thing previously.

The woman from whom the LOSER CHEAT was so eager to steal the first place AG award, Dr. Harriet Kang, is back-of-the-pack runner and physician who does a lot of volunteer work at marathons (Boston this year, I believe) and with Achilles runners, and is extraordinarily supportive of everyone she runs with. That first place finish couldn't have gone to a nicer first-time triathlete. :-)

Contrast that ugly mental image of the LOSER CHEAT with a far different picture of courage and indomitable spirit (from a message in the new Big Bike Forum, check it out!):

"If you ever wanted to make an excuse for not going that extra mile, forget it. After watching this video you'll never have another excuse again. If you don't know them, it is about Team Hoyt. I actually saw another video of this and it brought me to tears."

Here's the video:

Here's their web page:

Equivalent birthday (postponed)

Over the weekend we had a bit of a non-event: my girls' 2nd "Equivalent Birthday". That is, August 20th is two years from their due date. If you think back to how long ago I posted about their 2nd birthday party (2 years from their actual birth date) on June 1st, that tells you how seriously premature they were - they missed out completely on about twelve weeks they should have been in utero. They've come a long way since they were teensy 2-pounders!

We're very lucky that these girls are happy and healthy and doing great. Catherine is perhaps a couple of months behind a regular developmental schedule, but talking away and jumping and running and doing everything right in sequence. She is seriously far-sighted, though - a opthalmologist appointment this week may tell us how soon she needs to get fitted for glasses. They're inevitable by the time she's 4 or 5.

Elisabeth has substantial speaking delays. Since she had a bad heart (that was repaired at 5 months) she was very weak her first year. She only learned to walk this April at 22 months, and hasn't quite learned to run yet. She was fed mostly through a tube until about 8 months, which delayed the proper development of her speaking musculature. She only said her first word within the last few weeks, after much coaching and prompting - finally she says "mum mum" for "more" food. She knows dozens of signs, though, and adores watching her signing videos.

We had a breakthrough today, though: Elisabeth signed a sentence on her own! We were having breakfast together and talking about how Daddy left earlier. Elisabeth signed "bye-bye", "car", and "all gone" all in a row, showing me she knew that's how Daddy left! Even though she makes clear progress every day, it's still reassuring to Mom to see that her mind is working and thinking about conceptual things that aren't visible in front of her!

We're looking forward to having a family celebration of their "Equivalent Birthday" in a few weeks when their paternal Grandpa visits and we can combine it with a celebration of his 80th birthday.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Photoshop sickness

Totally unrelated.... I think some of these doctored photos are hilarious. Part of an ongoing series at I think I need to buy a copy of Photoshop.

And more fun links found on Fark:

Mullet-hunting at the Iowa State Fair

Top 100 Hunks (this link's for you, Dawn)

Bug Day

"Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug."

Today I was the bug. Why?

"It's not the heat, it's the humidity."

Damn straight.

I did everything right for my planned 15-miler today. Laid out my running clothes, got to sleep very early, woke up before the 5AM alarm, drank some coffee and had some cereal, and I was out the door at 6AM, 20-odd minutes before sunrise.

The humidity hit me like a wave as I walked out the door. It hadn't rained, but everything was wet. Still, it was "only" 77*F before dawn, and I thought it wouldn't be too bad.

I was wrong.

After a mile of jogging I was sweating hard. After 2 miles I was sopping wet. NOTHING evaporated. Not a hint of breeze in the air. The mosquitoes never went to sleep, and they were delighted to see me out and about. The deer flies buzzed around my head. I used my bandana about once per stride to mop my face and fend off the insects.

By 4 miles I stopped to wring out my ponytail (it was dripping down my back, how disgusting) and got about an ounce of liquid out of that, and another ounce of liquid poured out of the bandana. My shirt and shorts and socks were a sodden dripping mass. I stopped to remove a stone from my shoe and found that my feet were wrinkling prunes. It might as well have been raining.

I programmed my watch for 5:1 run:walk intervals. That lasted about, oh, a mile.

By 6 miles I was a trudging, dispirited mess. I had plenty of water, plenty of salt, and everything I needed - except a teensy breeze, maybe, and a smidgen of evaporation.

So much for all my great techniques for not cutting long runs short. At the 7.2-mile intersection, I headed for home. I was beaten. I'll just have to do that 15-mile run another day.

Today I was only good for 9.6 miles. I got back home about 8:30AM, by which time it had plummeted to a mere 89% humidity. But I was already toast. Wet, soggy toast.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Half of a weekend

Just like Linae, I had two big workout days planned this weekend. Today was the bike - swim day. I've been "juggling" a lot of workouts lately, and it was high time to get in a longer bike ride and a longer swim workout. I wasn't sure until it actually happened that I'd get this brick done.

This morning I went out for a 30+ mile ride. I had a fun time! I met a woman out riding who was staying on a boat here with friends and preparing for Chesapeakeman. We started riding together and she asked me if I was training for anything special. I mumbled something about how I usually do triathlons but I'm just getting ready for a couple centuries and the NYC Marathon now. Then I looked over and noticed she was tanned and ripped and had a Kona Ironman World Championship cap on, so I shut up fast.

We had a great chat for about 15 miles. Her name is Marianne and she's a trainer/coach in New York City. She did the NYC Triathlon that was televised recently, and told me all about the NYC Marathon for this fall - but she's planning on doing the Chicago Marathon this year. No Kona this year - she said she did it a couple (?) years ago when it rained. She has a slight accent that I couldn't place - a little like Dutch but not exactly. She said she competes in the 40-44 AG, I think. She gave me pedaling advice, and recommended single-leg drills for me - obviously a good observer of (poor) technique!

As always, it was a rare treat for me to have a training partner! Hopefully I'll see her again at Chesapeakeman.

Then in the afternoon, while the babies napped, I was able to steal away to the pool. I managed 1750 slow meters in an hour. Dodging kids - and old ladies and old men, too, who can't seem to understand when someone is trying to swim laps - maybe added another 50 meters. ONE black line, that's all I want. You old folks can walk around the whole rest of the shallow end, and you kids can play on noodles anywhere else you want in the deep end. Do NOT swim underneath me or directly in front of me. Is that too much to ask?

Tomorrow is the dreaded long run, AGAIN. It's supposed to "only" go up to 91. I think it's another 5AM wakeup for me.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Bathtime directions for twins

All inside on a rainy day? Might as well take a bath.

Bathtime is always wild at our house.

Ask our twin girls if they want a bath, and that engenders excited shrieking and running around. Your first task is to catch two giggling running-away two-year-olds and corral them into the bathroom.

Then try to get their clothes off while running the water into the bath. Stop them from hurling themselves headfirst into the bath with all their clothes and dirty diapers on. Keep one hand on each baby or this is inevitable. Remember to stop the water before it gets too deep or they will be very upset when they go headfirst into the water.

Then when the water is a few inches deep, and two babies are successfully undressed, put them both in the bath. They will stand up and fall down several times. This is normal. Try to keep Catherine from using Elisabeth's hair as a hand-hold while she stands up. Elisabeth tends to resent that.

They will also take all the shampoos and conditioners and dump them in the water, along with the two rubber ducks, the wind-up duck, the wind-up fish, and the wind-up frog. Their favorite toy, however, is the plastic cup. They will fill it and practice drinking from a cup several times. Needless to say, they can't properly drink from a cup, and the water mostly pours down their little naked fronts. Hilarity ensues. Prevent them from pouring the cup contents outside the tub. Intervene when the inevitable cup tug-of-war battle develops. If you have the slightest opportunity, grab the cup from them, wet down their hair, and soap up their hair.

Then we proceed to swim practice. They each lie down in the tub on their front and practice kicking. Most often Catherine kicks in Elisabeth's face, which Elisabeth tends to dislike. Try to get them lying down in parallel.

Then Elisabeth will practice rolling on her side, pretend-sleeping, and will see if she can put half her face in the water. Try to keep Catherine from drowning her as she does this.

After a while the girls are wrinkled and waterlogged and the water is getting cold. Open the drain and listen to their plaintive little cries of "Bye-bye wawa. Bye-bye wawa." Be ruthless.

One by one you must catch them with the towel, pull them out of the cold bathtub, and attempt to towel them off and get them into a clean diaper. Usually this is done simultaneously with a kicking screaming tantrum because they don't want to leave the bathtub. Steel your heart against their cries. Try not to let them run out the door without their diapers, because bad things happen when they run around without diapers.

If you're really lucky, you can catch them again and wrestle clothes on them. And then if you're extraordinarily super-lucky, when you put them into their cribs they will actually take a nap. That is your cue to also collapse in bed, exhausted.

Nap fast. You're going to need all your energy when they wake up.

PS: Don't forget to mop the bathroom floor. The tile is already coming up....

Rainy day

Today I was hoping to do another long walk with the girls in the jogstroller. Alas, I checked the weather map and there's a big line of green, yellow, and orange headed this way. Since I'm watching the girls on my own today, I think it's a good idea to wait until that passes through.

That means it's time to set up the bike trainer here in St. Michaels, so that I can get in some workouts regardless of whatever it's doing outside! Super-nice guy Graham Wilson from the TRI-DRS list shipped me a bike trainer that he wasn't using, so today I can unpack it and set it up and try it out with Buttercup.

Update: Tyler Hamilton says his hearing on the blood doping accusation that has kept him out of competition for a year is scheduled for September 6th and will last about a week. We wish him well! Here's a quote from his latest journal entry:
"So there is a bright side to every situation. Training in the mountains and riding along side champions of all kinds is comforting territory. My forced break from competition has been a drag but it has also been a gift. I've never been one to take anything for granted. The end of my ski career taught me that lesson. But I can say that I have had the great fortune of spending some of my time off with folks who remind me not to feel to sorry for myself. [Wheelchair athletes] Jimmy and Steve prove to all of us that kings don't throw pity parties. They just regroup and get back in the game."

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tugboat Tags

More things to buy! I found these following a Tyler Hamilton Foundation link on Flatman's Blog. I might have to get these too, along with a nice new THF cycling jersey. Or should I wait until after the CAS hearing?

The "Believe" tag commemorates professional cyclist Tyler Hamilton's dog Tugboat, who died during the Tour de France last year. Tyler wore his bone-shaped dogtag in the race the following day, before he crashed out. (The previous year he valiantly finished with a broken collarbone). Some months after that, Tyler was hit with blood-doping allegations, which are still under appeal.

We need this!

Oooh, an IRONMAN double jogstroller! Since many of my days are spent pushing the girls around in the double jogstroller, I think we *really* need to buy this one, for inspiration value if nothing else. It's nearly twice the price (~$350) of the Baby Trend jogstroller we have now, but isn't the logo alone worth it!? Plus (not shown) it has the full "IRONMAN" logo across the canopy. And who could miss that day-glo yellow - almost the same color as Buttercup!?

Our jogstroller has a slow leak in one tire, so I've been pumping it up almost every day. That means it's time to buy a new one, right?

Yesterday we did a five mile walk, broken up by a half an hour at the playground. The slide was too hot to slide on, so instead I let the girls splash in the creek with their shoes on. Dad would have been horrified.

Somewhere Elisabeth decided to throw out her obligatory pacifier along the way. That's 2 pacifiers and a shoe tossed from the jogstroller in a month. It may just be time to give up both pacifiers and shoes. Then diapers, too, I hope.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Fears and Phobias

We all have things we fear. We also all have a few little semi-irrational phobias hiding in the corners, too. We tend to cover them up, and rearrange our lives so we conveniently don't encounter those things we fear. We make sure nobody sees us confronted with those things we fear. But they're still Out There.

Skatemom's comment about frogs got me thinking. Frogs are just fine with me. Bats, lizards, sharks, slimy things in the water, bugs, spiders, rats, heights, public speaking - no big problem for me, really. Getting hit by lightning? Been there, done that. Being in a plane crash? Done that too (deadstick landing after the engine quit at 7000 feet).

I've recently been reminded, however, of a few things that I really don't like.... I mean, that I actually fear. Of course, some people would think these are no big deal, and my fears are silly, but there they are, nevertheless. I don't have any dire phobias that send me into a screaming panic, at least not that I can think of. But there are things I'd truly rather avoid, if possible.
  • Starting the swim leg of any triathlon. Hard to complete a triathlon without it, so I have to just do it anyway.
  • Getting to the painful part of a marathon. Hitting the wall. Bonking. I certainly try to avoid that one!
  • I used to fear getting a flat tire on my bike in a race, but now that I've changed a few, I think I'd mostly be simply annoyed and a little on the slow and clumsy side.
  • Making "cold calls" to strangers. I dislike it and avoid it. I don't talk much on the telephone to begin with. I used to have to do this a lot for my work, and I procrastinated like crazy on calling people I didn't know.
  • Asking directions from strangers. I'm a total guy in that regard. I'd rather buy a map and figure it out on my own.
  • Taxis. I don't take them unless there's really no alternative. I really don't like being in a car with a strange man at the wheel who can take me anywhere he wants to go. Or go the long way and charge me some ridiculous extortionate amount. *jeanne* recently recommended taking a cab after the finish of the New York City Marathon, and I told her that I'd rather walk or take the subway, even after completing a whole marathon.
  • Well, clowns, of course, but everyone knows they're evil. ;-)

What things do YOU fear? Hmm, I guess "strangers" and not being "in control" is the common thread in several of those. I won't tag anyone in particular, that's just too mean, but ... What are YOUR secret phobias?

Bloglines rocks!

I'm finally getting the hang of this blogging thing, after several months!

Yesterday I put all my regular reads into Bloglines. I used to use the tedious method of clicking through all my blogs listed in the right column to read them. How Stone Age! At Bloglines you can set up your list of blogs and news feeds to read on one clickable page. If you download a little program there, you can also get a notification in your taskbar when new posts are added to any of your regular reads (instead of repeatedly going to the page and finding no change every time). Also you can set it up so you can subscribe to new blogs or newsreads with just a click in your "Favorites" bar.

It took me an hour or two to set up, but after this it should save me considerable browsing time. Actually, if you read a similar list of triathlon-related blogs, you can even download my current list of blogs and news feeds onto your own Bloglines list HERE. Some of these may not interest you, of course, and can easily be deleted from your own list.

There were a couple of blogs that I was unable to locate RSS feeds for, notably the Kuala Lumpur Penguin and Tri-Geek Dreams. Maybe they'll enable them, or let me know where to find the feed so that I can stay tuned in.

I know some of you have been doing this FOREVER, but I just haven't come across this easy way to do it yet, so I thought I'd share!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Loops v. out-and-backs

A couple people have commented on my running loops yesterday. Just a few notes on that:

I don't run loops out of my house. Never. I would quit on the second or third loop, for sure. As a fundamentally lazy person, I would find "justifications" for going in early. Nor do I do longer runs on the track that is a couple of blocks from my house. Too close to the comforts of home.

Instead, I run loops starting at a point about 2.4 miles away from my house. From that point, there's a series of 3 different 2.4-mile loops going out in 3 different directions, none of which get me any closer to home. I have to go 2.4 miles to get home. So even if I only do one loop and "quit", I've still done a 7.2-mile run.

There's a place where I can steal cold water from the golf course that is at the center of the loop. There are plenty of places in the bushes if I need to "go". There's even a resort with a soda machine along one of the loops. I carry along salt capsules and some sports gel. I have everything I need, and I depend on no one. No excuses. No easy outs.

On the loop that I always do last, I know where the half-mile marks are because I painted them there on the street once. They've been paved over, but I still know where they are. Even if I've taken lots of walk breaks before that, it's okay. By the time I get to the final loop I've usually got some good LSD mileage on my legs. I time myself on my last 2 to 4 miles out there to make sure that I get in some faster running paces before I turn off towards the final 2.4-mile route home.

If I think I might possibly be tempted to cut short a long run, another technique I have used is to do a long, long out-and-back, but drive out first and stash water bottles along the way. I use rinsed-out used soda bottles that look like trash, hidden underneath bushes. Few people bother those. And I don't take a phone. Nobody is going to come to get me. I go out on my own two feet, and I have to return the same way.

Those are my "no-excuses" techniques of making sure that I don't cut short my long runs. Otherwise, I'd certainly take the easy way out and go home before I'd completed the planned mileage, once it started getting hard. What techniques do you employ to make sure you tough it out on the road once it starts getting REALLY HARD?

Disney 2001

Just for fun, here's a shot I just found from the Disney half marathon in January, 2001. Before I was married, even! I wore a lei because I was in training for the Maui Marathon (2 days after my wedding that March).

Disney costumes?

Remember those weird friends I mentioned that are planning to do the Disney half marathon as characters from Sleeping Beauty? One of them suggested this costume for me for the half marathon. Malificent.

Um, I just don't see that happening. I think those horns would get kind of annoying after 8 or 9 miles, not to mention the sweaty cape flapping around my legs.

Do we have any other actual GOOD ideas for Disney character costumes out there that I might possibly be able to jog in, and that wouldn't drive me wacko?

I was thinking of something easier like Nemo, but then got concerned about the fish tail thing. And running with a bum fin. And the prospect of ending up as Nemo sushi by the end of the race.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Ramping up the long runs

Today was one of those tiresome scheduled solo long run days on a HOT HOT day (official heat advisories in effect until 8PM).

So I dragged my carcass out of bed at 5AM, filled it with coffee, and headed out for my planned 14 miles on the road. On foot. At 6AM, before sunup, it was already 84 degrees and impossibly high humidity.

But whenever I get out there and do the job I'm always rewarded with interesting sights that I would otherwise never notice. Today it was several "fairy rings" of huge mushrooms that had sprouted up in big circles, as pictured.

I was meticulous with my water and sodium, because today I really needed both. My course has several loops, all about 2.4 miles in length, so I would stop (stealing icewater that is set out for the golfers every morning) and refill my 20 ounce water bottle and take one Succeed cap (344 mg sodium, 21 mg potassium) on each loop, roughly every half hour. That worked out quite well, and I only had to kick in one more capsule when I started getting a teensy bit of hand swelling, as monitored by the "tight wedding ring" test.

Glad that's done for the week! My ankles are a little tired, as expected, but otherwise I'm feeling pretty fine! Total distance (via Gmaps pedometer) was 14.7 miles. Even though it was getting brutally hot by the time I finished, I felt like I could have continued for another 11.5 miles to the marathon finish line, if I HAD to, which is exactly how I want to finish these runs feeling!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Juggling update

Well, I did my swim workout today for 1900m instead of 1500m. And now it's 102*F heat index. So I'm not doing the bike workout I had planned. Call me a whiny loser, I still ain't doing it.

I'm looking at the schedule for sunrise at 6:15 tomorrow and I'm thinking I need to get my butt out the door by 5:30 to beat the heat. I've got to get that long run done in preparation for marathon season, and every one of those 14 miles I have planned is gonna be UGLY.

I spent last night and this morning trying to figure out this Goofy thing. I booked my flights, now I'm trying to decide where to stay out of the six zillion Disneyworld options. I don't want to have to walk much except during the races, so I'm not planning on going into any of the theme parks. I may splurge and stay at one of the three resorts (Contemporary, Grand Floridian, Polynesian) served by the monorail, all of which cost small fortunes to stay at. Insiders tell me that the monorail is running before the 6AM race start, so that may work. I don't want to have to get on any of the friggin' Disney buses at 3AM just to stand around forever in the dark! I DO want to lie around the hot tub and pool all Saturday afternoon after the half marathon, sipping a tropical umbrella drink like they used to serve up at Trader Vic's, to steel myself for the marathon the following day. So I'm leaning toward the Polynesian.

Some weird friends are planning to do the Disney half marathon as characters from Sleeping Beauty: Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. I don't think I'll pass as Briar Rose, the Sleeping Beauty. Then again, maybe at the 6AM starting line in the dark in January, I could probably do the sleeping part. Or perhaps I should take a page from Snow White and go as Sleepy the Dwarf.

All this for a friggin' Goofy medal. Just because I'm a medal ho. How dumb is that!?

Friday, August 12, 2005

More tags

I'm starting to think these are like skin tags. You know those annoying little growths, do you get those? You pull them off and they bleed like hell?

I just found 2 tags today. There may be more out there, but I'll stop reading blogs now to prevent myself from finding more. ;-)

Shelley tagged me with this: "Who inspires you (must be triathlon related people) and why???"
I could answer with some of the celebrity tri-goddesses like Karen Smyers and Natascha Badmann. Or Lance. But to be honest, those people seem far too removed to me - people who have been fit, competitive athletes their entire lives are not people I readily relate myself to very well. They are NOT like me.

The people that truly offer me inspiration in triathlon are those everyday people who take the hand they are dealt, make the best of it with a positive attitude, start fresh every day, go out there and work harder than they ever thought they could, and give it their very best. People who take pride in their accomplishments and keep a sense of humor and perspective, regardless of what the numbers on the clock say or what the other triathletes did that day. People like those who read my blog. People with spirit and determination, like Shelley and Holly and Wil.

Keryn tagged me with the thing Trimama started about her husband on their 15th anniversary. Congratulations, Tricouple! Much like Wil's sweet tribute to her husband she posted recently.

My husband and I met in 1997, got married in 2001 in Maui and had our girls in 2003. We were OLD when we got married - I was 42 and my husband is five years older. So we were kind of set in our ways already when we tied the knot. I'm not quite sure how to answer some of these, since many of our tastes are quite different!

Favorite movie: No one in particular. We enjoy watching a lot of BBC DVDs together - lots of historical costume dramas, Jane Austen, Upstairs Downstairs, that kind of thing. Steve likes old John Wayne movies, again and again. I almost never watch a movie twice, but my all-time fave is Gone With The Wind.

Our Songs: I don't think we have any. Right now our music tends to focus on classics like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Old MacDonald Had a Farm". We picked three for our wedding video - "I Have Dreamed" from the King and I, and I can't remember the other two right now. Like I said, I'm not terribly musical.

Favorite Food: French, Thai, Chinese, Contemporary American - we ate in restaurants a LOT, before the girls came along. Now not so often.

Favorite hobbies together: Going to nice relaxing waterfront destination vacation spots like Maui or the Outer Banks. My husband is a private pilot so sometimes we used to fly fun places like Tangier Island, Martha's Vineyard, and Okracoke. We used to have a sailboat (he's an avid sailor) but while I like visiting the destinations and "camping out", I find actual sailing kind of exhausting.

Most peculiar: You want me to post that publicly on my BLOG!? This isn't THAT kind of blog.

Okay, I'm going to tag *jeanne* and Holly on these. I'd tag The Big Cheese if he were married, since he cracks me up, but he's not married. But maybe that would still be a funny post...

Thursday, August 11, 2005


I'm in for the Goofy medal. The Walt Disney World half marathon on January 7, 2006, followed up by a marathon the following day.

They're calling it "Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge".

The dumb things I'll do for a medal.... who is joining me? I suppose I could sign up for the 5K as well .... but if I do, just shoot me.

One additional note: A great email list for recreational runners who are planning on attending the January, 2006 Walt Disney World races is Team Penguin Disney. They have lots of good pre-race information and will probably organize some encounters at Disneyworld. See you there!

The Workout Juggle

I knew this would happen if I posted all my workouts! For the next few days I'm going to have to do some major juggling to get them in! But since you all are holding me accountable (thanks!) I feel that I have to explain (i.e., make excuses for) these rearrangements.

Here's what was planned:
Thu 8/11: Swim 1500m
Fri 8/12: Run 14M
Sat 8/13: Bike 120 min, run 5K
Sun 8/14: Run 4M

BUT I didn't go to the pool this morning (had to stay home to get a cracked car windshield replaced), and I'm going to go for a bike ride with Holly instead. And swims work much better on the weekends anyway, when I can go to the outdoor pool. And then there's the time taken up by commuting to the Eastern Shore. I GOTTA get in that long run this weekend - that's the top priority since the fall marathons are getting near. That's the only thing I can't cut out.

Maybe I'll try this rearrangement:
Thu 8/11: Bike 120 min
Fri 8/12: Run 4M
Sat 8/13: Swim 1500, bike 45 min
Sun 8/14: Run 14M

Sound good to you?

Update: Okay, I did 1:40 or so on the Old Blue bike on the rail-trail, which is close enough to 120 min, isn't it? It was getting dark when I got home anyway. That only bought me 15.3 miles, but it *is* the old bike, give it a break.

Hyponatremia death

It seems blogger just lost this post and all comments on it. Let me try again.

Today's Washington Post carried a sad story of yet another preventable death from hyponatremia of a promising young police offer. My questions:
  • Why wasn't the instructor on top of this situation? It's a predictable result of exercise and sweating for long periods of time in hot conditions.
  • Why did it take a paramedic (who happened to be on the scene) to notice that something was seriously wrong?
My thoughts on prevention are HERE. If someone has been exercising for a long period of time and is vomiting or nauseous and dizzy, think SALT replenishment, not water.

"District Officer Dies After Bike Ride: Over-Hydration Cited as Factor"
by Del Quentin Wilber and David Brown
Thursday, August 11, 2005; Page B01

"A highly honored 25-year-old D.C. police officer died yesterday after he apparently drank too much water Tuesday while training to use a bicycle on patrol, police officials said.

Doctors believe that hyponatremia, a sodium imbalance caused by drinking excessive amounts of fluid, most likely caused or contributed to the death of Officer James C. McBride, police officials said. McBride consumed as much as three gallons of water during and after the 12-mile training ride Tuesday morning, police said.

The doctors "did mention that he had consumed an awful lot of water," said D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, adding that authorities are awaiting autopsy results. "They are saying that is a possibility it might have contributed. . . . This is something that is really unusual. We are usually concerned about dehydration as opposed to people consuming too much water."

Hyponatremia, an abnormally low salt concentration in the blood, occurs when a person loses a large amount of sodium or consumes a large amount of water. Hyponatremia in athletes is almost always caused by drinking too much water.

As the blood becomes increasingly diluted, water moves out of the bloodstream and into cells, which swell. The swelling of the brain is responsible for the symptoms of severe hyponatremia -- nausea, confusion, seizures and coma. If pressure inside the skull increases enough, the base of the brain is squeezed downward through where connects it to the spinal cord, causing death.

McBride, who joined the force two years ago, was named the 1st Police District's rookie of the year. Colleagues said he pushed supervisors to allow him to attend the weeklong bicycle training course so he could better patrol his beat, Sursum Corda -- a notoriously violent public housing complex off North Capitol Street.

"This guy is really out here hustling to make a difference," D.C. Police Inspector Andrew Solberg said. "I read the arrest reports, and it seemed like his name was on them all the time. He just seemed to be a central component in everything that was going on."

Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) issued a statement saying McBride was an officer who "loved his city and who served it well." Police said McBride lived in Maryland.

McBride and 15 other officers started the course Monday at the department's academy complex in Southwest Washington. The next morning, the officers did a 12-mile training ride that included hills, police said.

About 2 p.m. Tuesday, McBride attended a training session that focused on how to dismount a bike. An instructor noticed that McBride looked ill and asked him to sit down. McBride complained of dizziness and nausea, police said. He then vomited, they said. Officers initially thought he might have suffered heat stroke.

Sgt. Timothy Evans, who ran the bike course, said he was not aware that McBride had drunk so much liquid and gave him some water to cool him down.

"I thought it was heat exhaustion," said Evans, who worked with McBride in the 1st District. "It never dawned on me that it might have been over-hydration."

At some point, McBride told an instructor that he had consumed perhaps as much as three gallons of water contained in a backpack he was carrying. Bicyclists often drink water through a tube connected to a bladder contained in such packs.

Officers said that McBride seemed to be recovering as he sat out the exercise. When another officer hurt his knee, police summoned an ambulance. The paramedics noticed that McBride was convulsing and continuing to vomit. They took him to Washington Hospital Center, where he died about 1:30 p.m. yesterday.

Many experts believe hyponatremia has become more common in recent years. More people are engaging in endurance events, such as marathons, that last many hours and during which participants are urged to drink water.

The blood concentration of sodium is normally about 145, measured in millimoles per liter. A study published in April in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in a random sample of 488 Boston Marathon runners, 22 percent of women and 8 percent of men had sodium levels below 135, the formal definition of hyponatremia. One participant, a 28-year-old woman, died of the condition.

In the Marine Corps Marathon last year in Virginia, four runners were treated for hyponatremia, and two were admitted to hospital intensive care units. A 35-year-old woman died of the condition in the 2002 race.

Some experts, however, caution against overreacting.

"We don't want to alarm people into drinking too little, because dehydration can cause problems as well," said Christopher Almond, a cardiologist at Children's Hospital in Boston who headed the Boston Marathon study.""

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

People who inspire me

Reading my fellow bloggers' accounts of their challenges and strategies for success never fails to inspire me.

Good reads today:

Wil's story of her inaugural half ironman (in several installments)
Holly's good news about her training for the Marine Corps Marathon (while continuing melanoma treatments)
Jeanne's fun photos of her day as an extra on the set of Flags of our Fathers, filming near me in Arlington, Virginia
Linae tackling several big challenges, all at once, with a concrete strategy
Lee's determined approach with "... actions which bring results"

And let me throw in a token male blogger, just for fun:
Oldman's continuing adventures with a collie and a cup of coffee

At the same time, I find a large number of the blogs in my list have only one or two posts all summer. Time to cull my list again so I stop clicking on blogs that have ground to a halt. Stagnant blogs do NOT inspire me.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dead Losers Challenge

Somehow I managed to elect myself coordinator for a Weight Loss Challenge which starts tomorrow. Maybe because *I* need to get serious about reducing my body fat if I'm going to improve my performance times (and overall health)?

Participants are mostly members of the email list "Triathletes of the Dead Runners Society", or TRI-DRS, my all-time favorite email list. But anyone is welcome to join in if they fork over the $20 entry fee.

Jackpot of about $160 goes to the Biggest Loser (male) and $260!!! for women!

Starting date is TOMORROW and it runs for 12 weeks! How about taking on the Challenge and cutting out some flab between now and November?

Update: Whoa, this is getting crazy! So many people have entered the challenge that the women's jackpot is edging up towards $400!!!! Wooooo, we're starting to talk about a pretty nice chunk o' change here! :-)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Steelhead results!?

waiting.... waiting.... waiting....

"2005 RESULTS Results will be available within 24 hours of the race finish. They can be accessed from this page at that time."

Uh huh. Didn't it finish TWO DAYS AGO?

Congratulations anyway to Wil, Vertical Man, and Shelley for their inspiring HALF IRONMAN TRIATHLON finishes! And GET WELL FAST, Shelley! It's still a long road to Kona, but you ARE going to make it there in good shape!!!

Ahhh! They're UP now! Finally!! Thanks for the heads-up, Flatman!!

And Shelley was right - she WAS the only one in her class! DAMN I COULD HAVE HAD SECOND PLACE!!! Congratulations on your FIRST PLACE, Shelley - you won it fair and square, you can only compete against the women who show up!!! :-)

Posting my workouts

You'll note on the right sidebar that I'm posting my workouts for the current and past week. I'm doing this only to keep myself honest and accountable. You see, I have this teensy little *issue* with actually doing the workouts that I plan for myself. Some people make a schedule and stick to it through thick or thin. I am most definitely NOT one of those people. I can find a million intelligent justifications (also known as "excuses") to rearrange the schedule (also known as "slacking"), postpone workouts (also known as "goofing off"), and otherwise fail to execute the plan correctly as drawn up.

So there it is, for the world to see and critique. Feel free to kick my butt as necessary.

I will interject one teensy bit of explanation about today's workout - I had intended to do the full 1500m swim as planned, but I got messed up in my lap counts and discombobulated when some fast swimmers joined my lane and started circle swimming and passing me like I was a dead fish in the water. It wasn't really an intentional slack-off, I just missed a few warm-down laps. (Hmm, what about that old saying that "explanation is just another word for excuse"?)

Friday, August 05, 2005

Movie recommendation

Chariots of Fire is out in DVD now and we watched it again last weekend. I hadn't seen it since it was first released in 1981, and I had forgotten how good it is! It truly deserved the Best Screenplay Academy Award. Although, like most historical films, it plays a little loose with the facts, it's still inspirational.

Are any of my readers also Netflix addicts? If so, there's a "Friends" feature where you can see the ratings your friends put on movies and see what they've watched lately. Let me know your email address and I'll add you as my special "Friend"! (Although by way of full disclosure I should warn you that I lean toward costume dramas, documentaries, and BBC series).

Good luck!

Here's some good luck vibes getting beamed across the continent to Benton Harbor, Michigan to everyone participating in the Whirlpool Steelhead half-iron distance triathlon, especially Wil and Shelley and Vertical Man!

It's one I'll think about doing in the future, maybe, since my Mom lives very close to there. Except the notion of jumping off a bulkhead into the water scares the bejeesus out of me. NO going back! No do-overs!

And even the name scares me. Whirlpool. I hope the swim doesn't feel like a whirlpool! And Steelhead. That's a fish? That is in those waters you're swimming in, along with you? I don't like the sound of that either! Does it have teeth?

But, um, I'm sure you will all do FINE!!!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Bluemont 5K

I ran a local DC Roadrunners Club 5K race tonight. In 99*F temperatures, it was a slow one! Plus it went up and over that bigass hill TWICE on the W&OD Trail near mile marker 5 that always kills me even on the bike. So it was my slowest 5K in a long time: 34:52 at the finish line for an average pace of 11:14 minutes per mile. Heat will do that to a person! But I finished without heat stroke or collapse -- until *after* the finish line, at least.

I had Double Stuf Neapolitan Flavor Oreos for post-race food and Oh. My. God. They nearly made me hurl. Thanks, race committee, for the reminder of why Americans (like me) have an obesity problem!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Athlete girls

*jeanne* took some wonderful photos over the weekend that she shared with us, including these two of my girls that I absolutely love:

Catherine nearing the finish line of her 50-meter dash:

Elisabeth enjoying the swings:

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Blackwater Duathlon plaque

I tried to scan the plaque I received, but it didn't work well - only the logo part scanned, the rest of the plaque is too dark. It's the same artwork that's on the t-shirts, which were nice.

HERE is a link to the official photos from the event. The one on Buttercup is okay. It was funny, I think Buttercup got more cheers on the course than I did! Even when I was out on the RUN course (and Buttercup was already safely back resting in the bike rack), somebody yelled "Go Buttercup!". What's up with THAT!? LOL!

July totals

Okay, it's that end-of-month summary time again!

It's possible that I had too many July goals:

1. Log every bite of food this month: I did that for about 3 weeks, so count it 67% complete.
2. Follow the Tour de France and my fantasy cycling league: 100% complete! I even launched a new blog that revolves around the Tour de France!
3. Swim: 3520 yards (2 miles) just for practice: Not hardly. I swam about 875 yards for the month. 25% complete.
4. Cycle 105 miles: Rode 64.6 miles, 62% complete.
5. Run 75 miles: Ran 68.7 miles, 92% complete.
6. Other training - Complete 2100 crunches (100 per weekday): 740 done, 35% complete.
7. Events: Complete 1 duathlon (5K-30K-5K): 100% complete and I had a great time!

Average: 68%, if the goals are equally weighted. That's a D+! However, I clearly put more emphasis on goals 2, 5, and 7, and those averaged 97%. Plus I got four new PRs for the month!

For August, let's keep it slightly simpler:
1. Swim: 3520 yards (2 miles) just for practice
2. Cycle: 80 miles
3. Run: 80 miles
4. Other training: Complete 1000 crunches
5. Events: Complete 1 ten mile road race