Thursday, September 29, 2005

Quote of the day

"Slow is better than no."
-- Felix Berman, in GeezerJock (which, by the way, is a great new magazine and is still being distributed FREE - get your copy!)

Special good wishes

A big GOOD LUCK and YOU GO GIRLS to two of my favorite athletes in the world and aunties to my girls who are each participating in their own tough event this weekend!

First (in chronological order by eldest first and event first) is Ellie, my adventurous RV-traveling friend and an inspiration to me, who is taking on her first iron-distance event on Saturday at Chesapeakeman, in Cambridge, Maryland. I hope to see her briefly before the 7AM swim start to wish her well and send her on her way to becoming an IRONMAN!

She's been training hard for this for a long time and while she always expresses worries, I know that she's ready to conquer that course. She will probably be the oldest female competitor on the course! Isn't that cool?

The woman who will cross the finish line is a different one from the one who started that morning!

Secondly, equally an inspiration to me but for different reasons, is my friend Holly who is toeing the starting line at the Army Ten Miler on Sunday. Holly has been battling melanoma for a long time now, as described by her fellow melanoma survivor Oldman. Not having had that experience (knock on wood) of being on extended interferon treatments myself, I can only imagine what a challenge it is for Holly to force herself get out and train while feeling like crap. I truly admire her positive spirit. She has my respect and good wishes! I'm looking forward to running with her for part of the Marine Corps Marathon in a few weeks, and I'm sorry I can't join her this weekend, since the Army Ten is one of my favorite road races in the whole world!

There are some great photos of Holly with her sister on her sister's blog. What a hoot!

Funny, isn't it? I never would have met either of these remarkable women if I hadn't started running, but I feel that I have a lot in common with both of them that has nothing to do with our athletic pursuits. I'm proud to know them.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

PSA: Deep vein thrombosis

There's a summary on Google worth reading about Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), especially if you fly a lot, or if you're flying shortly after a big race. It says, in part:
Often there are no symptoms until several days after the flight, and the DVT may be mistaken for a cramp. Symptoms may include:
  • Sudden swelling in one leg (a little swelling in both legs is usually
  • Cramp or tenderness in one lower leg
  • Bruise or swelling behind a knee

If you're thinking this doesn't happen to healthy road warriors, you'd be wrong. Being athletic is a major risk factor, because the slower pulse and resting blood flow rate may lead to increased stasis.

Conversation with Catherine in the park

Catherine runs over to me with a crumpled-up leaf in her hand.


"Yes, you hid the leaf in your hand."

[eating leaf]

"No, not in your mouth."

[signing 'lettuce']

"No, it's not like lettuce, it's not good to eat. It's a leaf from a tree."

[signing 'leaf', running back and replacing leaf exactly where she found it]

"Good girl, taking it back where you found it."

"Hah-kah, hah-kah!"

"Yes, that's a helicopter."

"Na-na ah-pah ah-pah." [shaking head]

"Yes, you're right, it's not an airplane. It's a helicopter."


[signing 'more']

"No, I'm sorry, I can't make the helicopter fly back here."

Too much!

I need some island time. I was about ready to go postal in the pool today. Samoan Man was in my lane. He wasn't wearing goggles and was swimming blind, flopping over both sides of the lane and bouncing off the lane marker and the side of the pool. Doing friggin' breaststroke and butterfly and splashing the aqua aerobics folks all the way on the other side of the pool and punching me now and then. I tried to just keep my head down and just swim and mind my own business despite the tsunami conditions, and pretend it was a mass swim start in a triathlon.

Then I got treated to underwater views of ugly pendulous objects floating out from underneath the baggy swim trunks of the elderly men in the aqua aerobics class. Ew.

There is no picture available to post with this entry sufficient to convey the horror of the scene.

I couldn't take it. I quit early before I did something I might regret.

Call me a wimp.

Recommended reading list

I've only read twelve of the books on the list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 by the American Library Association (you know, that group that Dr. Laura rants about?). I'll have to scan their list carefully for some more good reading material and a selection of the most objectionable and seditious children's literature to provide for my girls.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Good luck present for Shelley

As you are probably aware, our fellow Tri-Blog Alliance member Shelley, aka IRONM4N, is getting ready to leave for Kona, Hawaii for the Big Dance: the Ironman Triathlon World Championships on October 15, 2005, 17 days away!

She's raised thousands of dollars for charity, she bought her new Hawaiian suitcase, she's done her last long ride, all that remains is to finish her taper and get on the plane!

I wanted to wish her well and send her off to Hawaii with a big going-away present that won' t take up any room at all in the suitcase:
Does anyone else have anything they would like to send along with Shelley!?

Run, Interrupted

Ack! It's getting light much later these days (7:00 sunrise), and this is NOT a neighborhood in which one wants to run before it's truly light outside. Digestion issues combined with a unexpectedly out-of-order Park Service bathroom did not make for a great long run today. Only 10km with a little hillwork, in about 80 minutes, instead of the much longer run I had planned.

Time for some workout flipflops this week! I may do a long run on Friday, and then bring my bike along to my Chesapeakeman volunteer gig on Saturday. Arrive at 5AM on site (ouch), work the swim start, drive across town to help at the swim exit (2.4-mile point-to-point swim down the Choptank River), then head out on my bike for 3 or 4 hours (some other roads than the actual bike course - I don't think they'll appreciate a non-competitor getting in the way of their event). Then towel off and head over to one of the run aid stations to help out there, and watch Ellie rock that course! That should work! Sounds like a plan to me!

Monday, September 26, 2005

My limiters

My previous post itemized the limits of the event that I'll have to complete to become an Ironman. The other side of the coin is my own limiters. It's time for some honest self-assessment.

Right now I think my limiters (where I'll have to spend most of my training time and attention in the next year) are:

  • Body composition: BAH! Of course, I'm hauling around way way too much body fat. This seems to change very slowly for me. :-( But it would cause the greatest improvement in my speed in all legs of a triathlon if it did.
  • Swimming: everything about it - technique, endurance, and confidence. Training will ensure I finish within the swim cutoff, make me more comfortable in the water, and help me not finish the swim leg exhausted, but won't affect my overall time much. If I can stay on course and swim freestyle most of the swim leg, I'll do fine. Every open water swim I can do in the next year is money in the bank.
  • Cycling: both endurance and speed. This is where in training I can make the greatest improvement in finishing time and also be less fatigued for the run. I need to extend dramatically the time I can stay in aero position comfortably, at the same speeds or faster than I'm cycling now. That's quite possible to achieve in a year's time. I could use more practice changing flats, certainly.
  • Running: progress in a year will probably mostly be due to any changes in body composition, not a lot from any additional training. No great gains expected there. I've done four marathons at well under 7 hours, with hopefully 2 or 3 more coming up soon. For this event I just need to maintain my running fitness.

I think my strong points right now are:

  • Hydration, electrolytes, and nutrition: A question mark on the swim, good in transitions, solid on the run, improving on the bike. I'm still working on a solid eat-drink routine and schedule for the bike, and I'm still working on finding a solid food I can eat when I'm hot and working without giving me stomach cramps in aero position.
  • Pacing: I think I have a good grasp on my limits and the effects of going out too fast, and generally don't make that mistake. The trick is picking a pace where it feels easy the first third, comfortable but brisk the second third, and you can just hang on by your fingernails the final third.
  • Experience: I can always use more triathlon practice, but I think the large number of road races that I've done (including ~20 half marathons) is helpful in teaching me to keep going under adverse conditions and to think on my feet during an event.
  • Knowledge: I know the science behind training and performance enhancement. I've taught graduate-level courses and done research in exercise physiology, sports nutrition, and sports biomechanics.
  • Mental toughness: I think I've got that aspect covered. Not just in theory, but in lots and lots of races where I've proven it to myself repeatedly in the line of fire. I won't stop until they make me. I don't DNF unless I'm hurt really badly.

Note: Here's an article about developing an off-season training plan to target your limiters.

IMFL by the numbers

I'm reading up on the details of Ironman Florida in Panama City Beach to see if it is a genuine possibility for 2006. There's a million details to consider. Let's look at the schedule and the numbers:

Sunday, November 7, 2005, 9:00 AM CST/10:00 AM EST: Online entries open. That's exactly ten minutes before I'll be starting the New York City Marathon. Sheesh!

Wednesday, November 1, 2006: Ironman village opens. Panic will be setting in.

Sunday, November 5, 2006, 6:00 AM CST: Sunrise. At least we won't have to swim in the dark.

Sunday, November 5, 2006, 7:00 AM CST: Mass swim start of ~2300 triathletes. Will that include me?

Sunday, November 5, 2006, 9:20 AM CST: Be done with the swim, or be done for the day. 140 minutes to swim 2.4 miles. That's 3862 meters. 78 laps in the pool. That's less than 3:37 per 100m pace, repeated 39 times, in seawater, and I'll need to come out of the water feeling fresh, not exhausted. Without any missing pieces carried off by sharks.

Sunday, November 5, 2006, 9:30 AM CST: If I'm not out of T1 by this time and heading out on the bike leg feeling strong, I'm in trouble. Once I get out of T1, I'll be relieved and I'll feel like I have a fresh start, after conquering the swim leg.

Sunday, November 5, 2006, 4:53 PM CST: Sunset. It's going to be a long evening. I'll have to be off the bike well before sunset.

Sunday, November 5, 2006, 5:00 PM CST*: Be done with the bike leg and out of transition, or be done for the day. (Yes, I've heard of triathletes being stopped by officials coming OUT of T2 late even though they finished the bike leg within the cutoff time). Allowing another 10 minutes (hopefully that's generous) for T2 or problems on the bike route, that's 7:20 for 112 miles on the bike. That's a minimum average of 15.2 mph for 7 1/3 hours, all stops and refueling and bathroom breaks and changing flats included. Or if I allow 10 minutes time off the bike for any reason, that's a 15.6 mph minimum average speed. And finish fresh enough to start a marathon. Once I get out of T2, I'll be relieved, because I'll know that I don't have to depend on my swimming ability or on my bike - it's just up to my own two legs.

Sunday, November 5, 2006, 5:18 PM CST: End civil twilight. This means most of the run is going to be in the dark.

Sunday, November 5, 2006, 8:00 PM CST: If I can make it to the halfway point of the run leg by this time, and I'm uninjured, I will heave a great sigh of relief, because I'll positively know in my heart I can finish. I can walk it in if I have to.

Sunday, November 5, 2006, 8:30 PM CST: If I can make it to the halfway point of the run leg by this time, and I'm uninjured, I will be in good spirits, because I still can finish on time if I keep going strong.

Sunday, November 5, 2006, midnight: The course closes and I need to be over the finish line by now in order to become an Ironman. That's 7 hours to complete a marathon, or a pace no slower than 16:01 minutes per mile. My walking pace when I'm tired is about 20:00 minutes per mile, so I have to be ready to run a significant portion of the course. If I run 12:00 minutes per mile, at least half of the time on the course has to be completed running to finish on time.

But if I finish after the time cutoff - there's no shame in that, either.

Can I do it? None of the times for any one segment sound terribly intimidating to me. It's just that little feature of doing the whole 140.6 miles in one day that makes it a challenge.

But I keep thinking of this quote that Linda posted on her blog:

"If you think there’s a 50/50 chance of success or better, then go for it."

--Mira Kirshenbaum, Psychotherapist

*Subsequent note: IMFL website now says a 10:15 cutoff for the bike leg, which takes us up to 5:15 PM to start the run.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Those goals

Yippeeeeee! My spreadsheet tells me that I've reached all my goals for the month of September already, with 5 days or 16% of the month to go, except one:

1. Swim: 5280 yards (3 miles): 7416 yards (4.2 miles), month to date, more this week.
2. Cycle: 120 miles: 137 miles, month to date, more this week.
3. Run: 80 miles: 81 miles, month to date, more this week.
4. Other training: complete 1000 crunches: 1005 crunches, month to date, more this week.
5. Events: complete 1 cycling metric century (100 km/62.1 miles): Didn't finish. Made one ride of 52 miles, another ride of 47. The 62-mile ride isn't going to happen this month because there's just not enough time left for a long rides in daylight hours! Well, except possibly this Friday.... hmmm.

I'll give this month an overall grade of A-. While my goals weren't huge totals in any one discipline or tremendously ambitious, it's a big improvement in consistency for me. This marked improvement over the past couple of months is, just like I said last month, directly attributable to:
1. Being accountable to my online coach, Simon Hayes, aka Yurtie. Thank you, Yurtie!
2. Being accountable to post my workouts publicly on my blog. Thank you, readers!

I really hate posting it on my blog when I didn't accomplish what I set out to do for the week, so that has pushed me to get it done on many occasions when I would otherwise have preferred to just be lazy and stay home. I have had to flipflop workouts around a lot, but for the most part I've been getting in most of what I had planned each week by the end of the week.

The big boost that two months of consistency in my workouts has given me is not just improved fitness, but the teensy little thought in the back of my head that if I sign up for Ironman Florida in November, and I'm able to keep up something close to this consistency for most of the next year, I *might* actually be able to cross that line on my own two feet before midnight on that night in November of 2006. I might hear those incredible words of the announcer ringing in my ears.

You know the words. The ones that give any aspiring triathlete the goosebumps.

"___________, you are an Ironman!"

Track run

My long run didn't happen today. Three days in a row of getting up two to three hours early for workouts, 74 miles on the bike in two days, plus a big dose of PMS, and the result was that I opted to sleep in.

When I was good and ready and awake, I went to the track for an alternative workout. Mile repeats at a comfortably brisk pace with quarter-mile walk segments in between:

  • 10:52
  • 10:39
  • 10:31
Hey, my "comfortably brisk pace" is getting a little speedier! I'll be interested to see if I can break a 30-minute 5K later this year, after my marathons are over.

Looking back (keeping this blog is helpful for that!): I haven't been on the track for a while! I did some mile repeats at the track on July 16 in 11:16, 12:03, and 12:45, but that was battling heat stroke. On June 19 I did some mile repeats with the first three at 10:28, 10:36, and 10:53. I think those felt a lot harder than these. Today I was running at a strong pace for me, but not pushing hard, and my repeats were getting faster, not slowing down. So I think this looks like progress.

The weather is changing into fall mode, dipping toward the fifties overnight but still the seventies during the day - a great time of year! When I returned from the track I loaded up the girls in the jogstroller for their baby workout at the playground. They're developing great athletic skills on the slides, the balance beam, and the climbing apparatus!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Cycling with Ellie

Went for another bike ride around the peninsula today with my friend Ellie, who is on the final taper for the Chesapeakeman iron-distance triathlon coming up in just one week. We had good weather for it: 72*F and overcast, although the winds were at 12 mph sustained and 24 mph gusts. (I know, not very windy compared to what I've been seeing on CNN courtesy of Rita for the past 12 hours, but challenging to cycle in nevertheless). That wind slowed us down a little, plus taking it easy on a couple of the backroads we explored cut down our average speed a little, so the final total was 47.3 miles at 15.6 mph, finished in 3:01.

It was great to see her, and the ride seemed quite easy for her, which is perfect! I admit I was pushing a little harder than I would have without her for the last few miles, but she's considerably more fit than I am, which is entirely appropriate. (Maybe that's where I'll be a year from now?) Now if she can just remember to take it easy for the last week of her taper, I have a strong feeling we're going to see a new Ironman a little over a week from now! Hey, it looks from the entries that Ellie will be the oldest woman competing - how cool is that!?

Go Ellie! You're going to do GREAT! As always, it was great fun to see you and it was wonderful having a cycling partner out there on the roads!

I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing that day - volunteering in some capacity, but I'm not sure yet exactly what I'll be doing. I'd like to see the swim start, even though that involves a 3AM wakeup. We'll see next weekend! I'll be watching everything carefully with great interest, since this is a perfect alternative iron-distance event for me (just 45 minutes from home) if I don't make it into Ironman Florida next year. (Hmm, did I just say that?)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Blogging Rita


The detailed descriptions of the probable effects of the hurricane on structures is even scarier.

Chinet followup!

I received a followup from the manufacturer to my paper plate dilemma! See below where I added it as an update on the original post.

Sixty minute distance trial

I set out to get in a two-hour ride this morning. For the first 4 miles the roads were under construction, so I just picked my way slowly through that, which gave me a warmup. Then I stopped and re-set the bike computer to give myself a little time trial.

I always do a loop course for my time trials to cancel out any advantage due to wind. I noted my starting point and started pedaling. The route was forgivingly pancake flat and the winds were light, about 5 mph. It was getting warm, about 75-80*F while I was riding.

Pedal, pedal, pedal, down the peninsula on the wide-shouldered rural roads, trying to keep my cadence above 85 and my back loose. Keep hydrating, stretch now and then, but stay quietly in the aerobars as much as possible. Down to the drawbridge at Tilghman Island - whoops, it's UP and traffic is stopped! Good place as any to turn around.

When I got back to my starting point I noticed that my time was at 58 minutes. Okay, let's go for 60! Push hard for another minute, then check for traffic and turn around, back for a minute to the starting point, working hard.

59:30, 59:31.... all of a sudden I'm sprinting for the finish line for the stage win at the Tour de France. The other sprinters are beside me for a ways, but soon Eric Zabel drops off to my left. Bradley McGee can't keep the pace and fades to my right. Thor Hushovd tries to get on my wheel but falls off the cadence. Petacchi is the only rider left, but I'm stronger and push for the win. The crowd roars, and the way is clear in front of me - the finish line is ALL MINE!

The clock rolls over to 60:00 and I put on the brakes. The roar of the crowd fades. Checking the distance:

17.9 miles/28.8 km!

Woo! That's a great improvement for me! Now I realize that the women's Athens Olympics time trial was won at a speed of about 46.1 km/hr. That just means I have a little more training to do before I'm there! :-)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

What would you do?

Since our dishwasher was broken for a few days until we had it replaced yesterday, my husband bought some paper plates for us to use to cut down the amount of handwashing. To be specific, the Classic White Chinet (R) Premium Strength Paper All Occasion Plates, 8 3/4 in., "Made from Recycled Material" by Huhtamaki in Albertville, Alabama, and pictured below.

There was SOMETHING - I know not what - inside the package shrink-wrap:

It scares me.

So what exactly do you think it was that they were recycling?

It probably would cost as much in gas to return it to the store as the item cost. Other ideas?

Update: Found online: Pursuant to 40 CFR Part 403.8(f)(2)(vii), the Alabama Department of Environmental Management is required to Public Notice any Industrial User that is in Significant Non-Compliance with applicable Pretreatment Standards at any time during the previous twelve months. This notice is intended to inform the public that Huhtamaki Company (formerly Chinet Company), P.O. Box 1548, Albertville, Alabama 35950, SID Permit Number IU 08-48-00200, located at 608 Mathis Mill Road, Albertville, Alabama, was in significant non-compliance during the period from January 2003 through March 2004 by discharging wastewater to the City of Albertville East WWTP that did not comply with permit limitations for BOD. Chinet Company is currently back in compliance.

Followup! I couldn't get through to their US website yesterday, but apparently one of my readers was more persistent than I. I received this email today, for which I give the company a great deal of credit for excellent pro-active customer service:

Sent: Friday, September 23, 2005 11:42 AM
Subject: Chinet Plates

Ms. Toby -
I received a photo of the Chinet Plates you purchased with "a little something extra" in the package. Please accept my apologies. From your photos, the foreign matter looks like charred fiber. This is caused by a build up on one of the dies on the vacuum shaft which was in need of cleaning. This package should not have left our facility. I will be happy to send you an envelope, prepaid, to return the package to me and I will also enclose coupons for free product.
Again, I apologize and hope you will continue to purchase Chinet products.
Jackie Camper
Customer Service
Huhtamaki Pkg
256-894-1113 Ph
256-878-9213 Fx

Another brick

We're all watching the track of Hurricane Rita with even more concern than we had at the approach of Hurricane Katrina. A friend on an email list in the path of the storm said today: "All is quiet for right now. Sunny and hot. Really expect things to start to deteriorate after noon tomorrow." Our thoughts are with you, friends.

Today I did a run-swim brick at my health club - in that order, because it's just easier than getting dressed and getting on the treadmill all wet. I actually feel better running after cycling or swimming since I'm all warmed up - starting out cold with my old creaky joints feels harder for me.

First I hopped on the treadmill and cranked the elevation up to 5%. It didn't feel at all steep, but it sure slowed down my pace nevertheless. I stuck with it, alternating walking and running, until I reached the equivalent of about 650 feet vertical elevation after a couple of miles. I'm hoping doing this a few times, and also the hill outside our place, will help prepare me for the ~850 feet of elevation climbs that we will face at the Baltimore Marathon in 3 weeks. I need to start thinking about this as "only ~260 meters up". I know that doesn't sound like much to those of you who live in hills, but for us who train exclusively in the flatlands, it's a lot of work! I know my muscles won't enjoy those parts of the race, but I want it to at least not be a totally unfamiliar and scary experience for them!

Then into the pool. I tried to do what Yurtie prescribed for me, but messed it up a bit:
  • 500m warmup. (I used one-sided breathing for this at a reasonably comfortable pace, while trying out some of Bob Williams' swimming tips I posted yesterday, which I did find quite helpful. It's still hard for me to believe that I do 500m for a warmup. In the past that would have been a whole workout. Note my pace here averaged 47 sec/25m).
  • 100m kick with fins
  • 300m bilateral breathing freestyle practice
  • 100m breaststroke
  • 500m steady freestyle, bilateral breathing
  • Then I mis-read my instructions on these sprints, which conveniently eliminated two sets, but that's just as well because I was getting tired. As it turned out, the "slow" lengths averaged 50.6 sec/25m, the so-called "sprint" lengths only 10% faster at 45.1 sec/25m.
  • 100m: first 75m slow, 25m sprint (all of these sets SUCKED, btw).
  • 100m: first 75m slow, 25m sprint (I may possibly have cursed Yurtie's name in here a few times).
  • 100m: first 50m slow, 50m sprint (supposed to repeat, and I didn't read the instructions right).
  • 100m: first 25m slow, 75m sprint (supposed to repeat, and I didn't. Did I mention that these sets SUCKED?).
  • Then I was supposed to do 200m warmdown, but only did 100m because I was running late for getting home.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

2005 Baltimore Marathon upcoming

The name for sponsorship and marketing purposes is the Under Armour Baltimore Marathon, but I'll call the race on October 15 by its real name, the Baltimore Marathon, not the Under Armour Marathon. Sponsors come and go. Just as I call it the Chicago Marathon that I did last year, not the LaSalle Bank Marathon, and the New York City Marathon that I'm doing on November 6th, not the Ing Marathon.

Whoops, all of a sudden we're 3 1/2 weeks out! I'm looking over the marathon information carefully in my mild pre-race panic. The Geico pace groups only go down to a 5:00 projected finish. Nah, that's a pace of 11:27 min/mile - maybe for the first half, but I couldn't keep it up for a full marathon and I know myself well enough that I would die in the second half. So I'll be doing this one solo (with a few thousand fellow runners). Darn, if I were faster I could run with the gecko.

I hope to finish well under 6 hours, but anything closer to 5:30 would be great. My last 2 marathons last fall were 5:59 (Chicago 2004) and 5:52 (Richmond 2004), but hopefully we'll have some cooler weather by then and my cross-training this year will help my endurance a bit.

The newly-revised course map incorporates a new loop around Fort McHenry (you know, former home of the Star Spangled Banner), which is a scenic diversion through the National Monument. I've run that loop before in shorter races and it offers a nice flat view across the harbor.

The elevation map shows a brutal uphill for the first two miles as we head from Camden Yards up to Druid Hill Park, and a shorter uphill between miles 3 and 4 as we traverse past Johns Hopkins. I'll have to keep my head on straight to take these nice and super-slow at an easy pace in those first four miles in order to save my energy for the miles to come. Then we head back downhill from miles 4 to 6, then loop around the harbor and Fort McHenry and back around the harbor at nearly sea level.

Then from miles 16 through 19 we'll hit the most difficult section of the course, going back up that same elevation up to Clifton Park and two additional shorter uphills after that through mile 23. I hope I won't be forced to walk too much of it! Fortunately we'll have a nice steady downhill from mile 23 to the finish line at Ravens Stadium when I can hopefully keep the pace up - thank goodness for that!

I'm treating this race as my last long-long training run before the New York City Marathon, so I'm not going to attempt any 20-milers beforehand. In the next two weekends I'll do one more long-long run of around 18 miles, perhaps another of 14 miles, some shorter runs incorporating a teensy bit of hillwork, then taper hard (my best sport!) until race day.

Woot! I just figured out a great target time for this race! I was on a 4-person relay team "Team Penguin" there in 2001 and I was the final anchor leg, crossing the finish line 388th out of 393 teams in 5:40:05. I said at the time that I would NEVER see those numbers at the finish line in a standalone marathon. It sure would be nice to prove that prediction wrong in 2005. Hmm, that's just a shade under a 13:00 pace. Beating that time looks like a fantastic "dream goal" to me!

Five Swimming Tips

I just read these five swimming tips from Dolphin Man Bob Williams, and I thought they were concise and informative. I'll have to see how helpful they are for me in tomorrow's swim:
  • First, I found that swimming with my head down with the water level about in the middle of my head, not at the forehead level where I used to hold it when I was more of a sprinter, allowed my legs to float higher, decreasing drag and obviating the need for a strong kick to keep my legs up. Reducing drag meant less energy to go the same speed or less energy to go faster.
  • Second, I found that lengthening my stroke and pushing water well past the bottom of my suit was particularly effective in increasing speed. I have come to emphasize the push so much, I believe my arm stroke should be renamed "push" rather than "pull."
  • Third, I found that when I stretched my hand out in front of me, I needed to avoid having that hand stay near the top of the water. Having to start the pull with the hand near the surface of the water forced my body to lift in the water and created drag which took significant amounts of energy to sustain. Alternatively, having that hand start the pull six to nine inches below the surface reduced the amount of lift and allowed the hand to pull the body forward rather than up and forward.
  • Fourth, I found that rolling the body while I pulled (pushed?) was very effective in allowing employment of maximum strength of the chest, upper arm, and back muscles. Thus, when I pulled the right arm, I was rolling over onto the left side.
  • Fifth, I found that swimming intervals is the most efficient use of time in the water.

Several other helpful technique and workout tips are in this article.

Here's a set of five slightly different, but similar technique tips by coach Neil Cook.

Here's a different list of ten swimming tips for triathletes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Same and different

Gearing up to marathon season, I'm working on getting my long slow distance runs to as closely approximate my race day conditions as I can. Today was a 10-miler with a little walking warmup and cooldown for a total distance of 10.6 miles in 2:31, door-to-door time.

Same as race day:
  • Shoes with orthotics, RoadID, stretchy triathlon laces, lightweight socks, lubricated toes and places that chafe
  • Lycra shorts and Coolmax underpants, shirt, and jogbra
  • Visor
  • Watch starts at the beginning and keeps timing until I'm done - no stopping it for breaks or anything else (although I do time my half-mile splits to check my pace)
  • No running buddies to amuse or distract or hold me up or to wait for or annoy
  • No music to provide motivation or keep me from hearing sounds around me
  • Running on asphalt pavement, usually with a camber
  • 1 Succeed capsule every 30-40 minutes (341 mg sodium, 21 mg potassium each)
  • Take my homemade gel in frequent sips (1 ounce every 3 miles - slightly higher consumption rate than race day)
  • Good hydration (24 ounces/hour) with mostly plain water and still end up slightly dehydrated (down 1.5% body weight post-run, but also after 2 bathroom stops)
  • Please no rain on race day, like today. Race Gods, from my blog to your ears!!
Different from race day:
  • Earlier start at 6:50 AM (New York City Marathon starts WAY later, ugh)
  • No water stops nor enthusiastic, friendly volunteers and spectators
  • No sunglasses today (too early in the day), usually wear during long races to prevent eye fatigue
  • No Imodium today, but I've found in six marathons that taking it well in advance becomes increasingly important after mile 13. Sometimes critically important.
  • Run the outside line on curves instead of cutting across the tangents in the race
  • Jog up steep hills instead of power-walk up them in races over 10 miles (to stay out of my red zone). The race courses will be somewhat hillier than my training routes.
  • No knee bands today to reduce arthritic knee pain (which I sometimes wear during races)
  • Slower pace: 14:14 min/mile overall today (6:12+ marathon pace), hopefully 12:35 - 13:25 min/mile (?) average on the course on marathon day (5:30- 5:50 finish). My average pace outside of bathroom and refill breaks for 19 half-mile segments was 13:32 min/mile.
  • More casual walk breaks now and then to drink and refill water bottles (during marathons I try to restrict them to either at water stops, or one minute per mile).
  • Longer bathroom breaks in a real bathroom instead of a nasty porta-potty with long lines or behind a dumpster in the city
  • Hopefully today's weather was hotter (72*F - 83*F) and more humid (60-70% RH) than race day
  • Somewhat sloppier about my form - tended to shuffle more and use arms less than in races
  • Psychologicially easier to turn around before I had planned in training than in a race, but I didn't today
  • No eight busy street crossings with traffic lights to stop at on race day
  • Shorter mileage! Only 40% of a marathon today.
  • No heart rate monitor today - sometimes I wear it for races to help keep my pace sensible for the first 13-15 miles
  • No specific pace plan or pace chart to follow today - just keep jogging
  • Carried my water today - 20 ounces of water is 1.30 pounds I won't have to carry on race day - maybe worth a minute or two on a marathon distance.
  • Hopefully my body weight will be a few pounds less to carry around on race day, too! Every pound is worth at least a minute off my finish time!
No surprises on race day is a Very Good Thing. :-)

Monday, September 19, 2005

By popular request....

More stories about the girls! (Since I don't have much in the way of workouts to report.)

Catherine was the WORST GIRL EVER today. We went to the little park on the waterfront that's bordered by a split rail fence. The girls were being good, running around, swinging, climbing ALL the way up the ladder and going down the slide ALL BY THEMSELVES (Mom served as spotter on the ladder, and had to give Elisabeth a little boost once or twice, but that's all), climbing on the picnic tables, running around the grass, crunching the leaves, stopping at the fence when I called them. Just having a fun outing!

After a while of this freedom, Catherine ran down to the far corner by the intersection. I thought she would turn back, but NO - she went right under the split rail fence without a backwards glance, just like many very bad dogs I have owned, and ran gaily across the street and down the block for almost a whole house lot.

BAD girl! Scared me to death! Luckily it's a very quiet street! You should have seen me trying to clamber over the split rail fence and sprint after her - that must have been a sight.

But after we got home she just tried to make up for it by doing something good. I gave them small bottles of water to drink when we came home to rehydrate, and she actually PUT HERS IN THE SINK when she was done with it. That's a first!!! Of course it's never going to happen with anything capable of making a mess, though.

Later: Catherine had a straw from the broom. One she had found on the carpet after I thought I had picked up all the straws she had pulled out, one by one, from the broom, before I had taken the broom away from her grasping little monkey hands and locked it in the closet. Then I caught Catherine very carefully trying to insert it, point-first, into Elisabeth's EYE. Sheesh.

Today is the day!

Monday September 19th, 2005 is Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Here is the Dave Barry article about it.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Best wishes to triathlete and blogger AB... er, I mean the newly outed ALICIA and Matt on their engagement!!! How very exciting! We wish you every happiness!

That's not her ring - hers is absolutely exquisite and she has a beautiful story to tell about it on her blog, and you can see it there.

Safety Don'ts

These photos crack me up at the Navy Safety Center, but partly because I'm no longer employed by the federal government and I don't have to take their dumb@ss safety seminars any more and complete all the documentation every time one of my dipsh!t** employees does something incredibly stupid and gets hurt on the clock! Hah!

**Semantics note: The newer term @sshat may be more properly used in this context, but I'm an old f@rt.

Walking and calisthenics

Calisthenics. Nobody seems to use that word any more for free-body exercises. Well, if you take a look at my sidebar, that and walking and a few rounds of dumbbell upper body work is "all" I've gotten done for the last few days. Call it a bit of a rest and replenishment break. I still think I'm doing okay at improving my "average worst day" each week - a complete day off from any workout still seems to occur about once per week, usually on a day which includes the two-hour drive between Arlington and St. Michaels. This is MUCH less often than those no-exercise days used to come along!

Since setting up my new used bike trainer was a failure, and I've been taking care of my girls by myself for the past several days, that's all I could get done. I'm way overdue for a long run.

The Baltimore Marathon (4 weeks) and New York City Marathon (6 weeks) are coming up fast! Fortunately I'm not planning on setting any PRs at either one - both are fairly demanding routes, and just completing the distance, enjoying the day, and finishing upright with a smile on my face, and of course, bringing home my medal, is fine with me. Since my running mileage has been moderately low (~17 miles per week average) this may be a critical test of how much swimming and cycling cross-training helps my long-duration running endurance.

Plus I'm overdue for a long ride. Sea Gull Century is in three weeks, but I'm not sure that I'm riding it, or even if I'm riding the full century if I do it - I may drop down to the metric/62-mile route if I don't get in a couple solid rides in the next two weeks of 50+ miles. I don't really want to be stuck out at a rest stop forty miles away from the start with the same back pain that I had last weekend for the St. Michaels metric century! It's going to be quite a few more long days on the road before my creaky old body has fully submitted to aero position without complaints.

Time for my crunches....

Yay! I just found out (thanks for the wake up call, Bonnie) that it's actually 7 weeks until NYCM, and I have 3 full weeks between Baltimore and NYCM! MUCH better! That's a relief!!

Apropos of nothing

Here's a series of photos of some of the world's most expensive luxuries. None of them look very appealing to me, frankly! Well, except maybe the house, but only if one of its five pools is a 100m lap pool.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Nancy's homemade sports gel revisited

This is a slight revision of Nancy's lemon iced tea sports gel recipe #1 in a larger quantity with some lower glycemic index carbohydrates added for longer-lasting energy:

2 ounces (1 scoop) Carbo-pro powder (or other maltodextrin powder)
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp. lemonade Crystal Lite
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. peach iced tea Crystal Lite
6 Tbs. honey
9 Tbs. white Karo syrup

Dissolve Crystal Lite and Carbo-pro in lemon juice in a measuring cup with a good pouring spout. Mix in Karo syrup and honey. Pour carefully into 2 gel flasks.
Makes slightly more than 1 cup (8 fluid ounces).
Contains approximately 70 Calories/Tbs or about 140 Calories/fluid ounce.
Take 1-2 ounces per hour in small sips during active endurance sports.

You can adjust the ingredients easily to taste - use any flavor of Crystal Lite and use water instead of lemon juice for a sweeter gel, or change the ratio of honey to Karo syrup - but I find that this recipe makes a tangier, fresher-tasting gel that I personally like better than any of the sickly-sweet store-bought gels which I have tried.

You may note that this recipe contains no amino acids, proteins, or fats. For ultra-endurance sports or queasy stomachs you may want to add ingredients like protein powder. Then again, some ultrarunners I know swear by individually-packaged string cheese - a concentrated, convenient, portable, and inexpensive source of high-quality milk protein along with some fat.

Remember electrolytes are also negligible in this formula (as they generally are in most sports gels and even in most sports drinks). Be sure you replenish sodium and potassium losses from another concentrated source such as Succeed caps while you also attend to rehydrating yourself.

Pronounciation practice

If my stories about my girls bore my readers, here's yet another post to skip.

Catherine's starting to work on three-syllable words. "Banama" is one of her favorites.

She's just a beginner at speaking these difficult words, though, and I think it's hard for her to pick out fine differences in pronounciation.

So I was cueing her today with some food items on her tray, pointing to each, and exaggerating the sounds: "BanANa. ToMAYto."

With great authority, she proceeded to name each object, as if to correct my mistakes. Pointing to the banana: "Banama." Pointing to the piece of tomato: "Banama."

Friday, September 16, 2005

Conversion experience

I just wanted to let you all know that I have recently been touched by His Noodly Appendage in a vision and I have converted to Pastafarianism.

Since evangelizing and bringing others to taste of the Divine Sauce of His Noodliness is an essential part of the Mission of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I'd be much obliged if you all would convert now, too. Thanks.

May the FSM bless you and feed you!


Gotta admire the imaginations of these spammers, even though they are loathsome despicable creatures of the Devil. Today I got a spam email with the subject header (I am not making this up): "Married Mother wants to date you."

Oh, really!? Whatever for?

Actually, if she would babysit, I might be kind of interested....


We discovered another problem with this bike trainer setup today. Catherine decided to poke around at the bike and examine the chain, then try to climb on the bike chain, and do her best to hurt herself on it. When that didn't work she started wandering around the house. Suddenly I started noticing greasy black fingerprints on all the door jambs, about 2 feet off the floor. Plus marks on the floor from her greasy socks from attempting to step up on the chain. What a mess! I had to hang her over the sink and wash her hands twice before it all came off. I still have to finish making the rounds of the house to try to find all the black smudges and wipe them up. (Yes, I did clean my bike chain just a week ago for the St. Michaels metric century, it was still black).

Then we went out for a nice 3-mile walk around the neighborhood with the jogstroller. Well, it was nice until the hair-pulling battles punctuated by screaming erupted about 2 miles into the walk. I think I'm going to have to rig up a chicken wire divider down the center of the jogstroller.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Bike Trainer no Survivor

So I was all set for a nice hour or so with Jeff Probst and the new used bike trainer (that a friend shipped to me a while back). Except once I got it set up I found out that the rear wheel doesn't fit on it properly. So no bike trainer tonight as planned.

My program of 100 crunches every few days hasn't yielded a firm tummy by any means, but I'm getting more endurance doing them. Now I only have to stop for a breather at 50 instead of at 20.

Let's see about a few sets of upper body dumbbells during CSI as a substitute for that bike trainer workout....

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Who said they could have opinions?

The other day at the grocery store I bought some of that awful canned macaroni with meat stuff for Elisabeth, because she usually likes baby lasagna and Spaghettios and noodles and stuff like that, and I thought this was a fairly close approximation, only bigger chunks and more protein.

Well, when we tried feeding it to Elisabeth, naturally she hated it and pushed it away.

So we offer it to Catherine. Her response, and I quote, was:


She's no dummy.

Blog search

Google Blog Search. Nice tool to bookmark.

Swim-run brick

Yurtie told me to do a swim-run brick today. Okay. I did it. Maybe not exactly to the letter of how he told me to do it, but I did it.

Damn you, Flatman, for putting your workout times up in your sidebar. Now I feel compelled to follow suit. Well, I guess they'll serve the purpose to make everyone else feel super-speedy in their workouts by comparison with me. Let's just say my workouts often emphasize the Slow part of Long Slow Distance. But "Doing Them Slow" is always better than "Not Doing Them At All", right? (As I did yesterday, the Day of Sloth, but we won't go into that now. Yesterday is gone).

Out the door in the dark, in the pool by 6:45AM. 2000m in the pool felt sluggish and awkward the whole time, except for maybe the last couple of laps when I stopped thinking and started just swimming. 1:10:39. Yeah, that's a zippy 3:31 per 100m average. Those open turns really slow me down. As does breathing, coughing, and choking. I got to share a lane with Dolphin Girl, who swims effortlessly about twice as fast as me. Smiling the whole time, gliding past me with her own little bow wave. I resented and envied her every stroke.

Then out of the pool, pull off suit, squeeze out the wet dripping hair, tug on clothes, adjust clothes that are all crooked from being pulled on half-wet, stomp into shoes, head for the treadmill.

T1 = 9:06.

My knees weren't quite as stiff as usual with the swimming warmup, which is good. But I was a bit dehydrated and pokey from not drinking anything but poolwater during my swim. Gotta remember to put a bottle at the end of the lane. I set the incline at 1.5% and jogged away at 11 to 12 min/mile, with a couple of brief walk breaks. 5K in 37:43.

Speed home. Glad that I left a full water bottle and a half a muffin in the minivan for the drive back. Arrive by 8:45AM, in time to greet the plumber. Please don't make me post the long boring story of the dishwasher, and my mundane petty gripes with (but note: Home Depot will deliver and install two full weeks faster, for less money).

Monday, September 12, 2005

Next year's calendar

While I didn't exactly sign up for Ironman Wisconsin today in the less than seven hours hours it was open (NO WAY) I have managed to put a hefty dent in the credit card with a few other registrations:

So with Columbia and Eagleman in the spring again, next year's triathlon calendar is starting to look a lot like this year. Only faster. :-)

Who is with me!? They're great races!!!

For now, I need to:

  • Find a convenient road race in December to carry my long distance run fitness in between the NY City Marathon in early November and Goofy in early January (perhaps a local half marathon, plus a few miles, or a half followed by another 13-to-18 miles the next day). Races as supported training runs are SO much better than grueling long unsupported solo runs.
  • Cross Chesapeakeman off my list for 2005 - I probably won't do an IM relay marathon there, just volunteer and cheer on Ellie. It's possible I may DNS the Seagull Century, too, since my husband has some activities he really would like to do that day (and he's had a lot of days watching the girls when I've been training or in an event lately).
  • Decide about Ironman Florida 2006 before the NY City Marathon (#8), since registration is the following morning.
  • Find a mid-spring marathon #10: maybe Shamrock in Virginia Beach or Ocean Drive in Cape May, NJ. Then there probably will be the Calgary Marathon (#11) in July, too, with Karen and Dawn (among others). If I'm not totally burned out on marathons by then.
  • And oh yeah. Get the dishwasher replaced. Bah. Frankly, I'd rather run a marathon.

Congratulations ironmen!

Congratulations to all the finishers of Ironman Wisconsin yesterday!

Amazing! Conditions were brutally hot. I heard they ran out of some supplies on course. 18.9% of the field Did Not Finish. Wow. That's even higher than the 9.7% DNFs that they had in 2004. Another big reason that I won't tackle the tough IMMOO course for my first Ironman attempt - and maybe never!!

Congratulations especially to fellow tri-bloggers RobbyB (12:51 @ 2005 Ironman Wisconsin) and Chris (12:14 @ 2005 Ironman Wisconsin). Fabulously well done!

Morning long run

I got in my LSD run for the week this Monday morning, late, and I only got in 8 miles instead of the planned 10. That's okay. I've got a much longer run coming up next weekend. I felt pretty solid the whole run, and ran negative splits, which is a good feeling. I just didn't leave myself enough time and I had to get back to allow my husband to get to work.

I wore my Camelback Flashflo. I rarely use it. I use a water bottle carrier instead. It does hold a lot of water, which is good for activities like back-country hikes without a source for water refills, but today reminded me why I don't like it for regular running:
* If the belt is loose it bounces uncomfortably.
* If the belt is snug enough it compresses my stomach and makes me feel sick.
* I can't easily monitor how much I drink.
* It's very heavy. (A good reminder of how helpful losing only a couple pounds of body weight is).
* It has a rubbery taste.

I also started my sampling of trial energy gel products - today's sample was CarbBoom strawberry-kiwi flavor. Ugh. It tasted like some cheap knockoff brand strawberry jam that had gone bad. No thanks!

Today's assignment: picking out a new dishwasher. Ours has been making that acrid burning rubber bad motor smell for a couple of weeks, plus it's very loud when you run it. Well, it was loud when we ran it in the past. It's very, very, very quiet now. It's not going to run ever again. It died a solitary lonesome death sometime over the weekend. "It's always something...."

Sunday, September 11, 2005


This morning we walked over to our local Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum hoping to get a viewing of the Bounty replica, but "that ship done sailed". I guess she's headed up to Long Island. She might have left a little early to better avoid Hurricane Ophelia, the remnants of which may be coming here later in the week. I think the girls liked seeing the swans just as well.

I skipped the long run I had scheduled for this morning. My back still felt tired enough that I didn't think that I would run well. Perhaps I'll take another rest day today and try it for tomorrow morning, at early o'clock? My scheduled long run is only ten miles this week. (Uh, did I hear myself correctly? Did I just say "only ten miles"???)

The utility room project: Before Photos

By popular request, here are a couple "before" photos of our crap-filled 7' x 13' utility room that we're re-doing in the next few weeks with some professionally-installed storage. I hope to get the junk cleared out, current shelves removed, walls spackled, and the walls and trim painted, um, probably NEXT weekend. Or at least I'll start on it then. I'll post photos again when some progress is made.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

St. Michaels (partial) metric century

This morning I was up early and on the road cycling by 8AM as part of the St. Michaels Century. They had 25-mile, 62.5-mile, and 100-mile options. I chose the 62.5-mile route. This goes over my usual bike training route along rural roads with wide shoulders, with glimpses of the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries.

Unfortunately, I had two problems. We had a community meeting scheduled for 1PM that I had to get home and get ready for, so that was on my mind as it started getting late. I realized in my pace plan I hadn't accounted for rest stops, which take some time in a group ride like this, unlike a race. I also hadn't planned for my back and neck to start cramping up after about 45 miles. I guess I'm really not fully accustomed to aero position yet. Nothing more time in the saddle won't cure.

So at 52 miles when we went past my house I skipped the final out-and-back and turned for home. So call it 83% of a metric century. I probably would taken a leisurely stretching break off the bike and then continued if I hadn't had the time pressure of getting ready for the meeting, but my back was increasingly uncomfortable and it was getting late, so I decided to call it a day. I was pleased to see that my final pace at 52 miles was over 1 mph faster than my Eagleman pace, though, so that's progress.

I guess I have to write a big fat red DNF across the event shirt in indelible ink, eh? Well, the 25-mile people got the same shirt, and I *did* complete that part of the route....

We did have a delightful community meeting and wonderful pot luck out under the shady trees on the banks of the Miles River, watching the log canoes race.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Lid edema

Ugh. That's what I have. I've been trying something new for my itchy allergic eyes - Patanol (tm) eye drops. They worked great for about three weeks and stopped the annoying itching that I get due to seasonal allergies. Now I think I'm starting to have a reaction to the eye drops. Underneath my eyes is puffy and sore and red, and it's gotten much worse just the last couple of days. It looks awful. I thought at first I was just having some puffiness due to too much salt for a day or two, but it's persisted. I'm going to have to ditch the eyedrops and just wait for winter for the allergies to subside.

Fortunately my allergies are minor compared to Commodore's wife, but still....

I hope they don't look at me too closely at the health club this morning and keep me out of the pool. I want to take my new, unscratched goggles and "aquatic fitness" swimsuit that I got last week on sale for a test drive.

NO, I am not posting photos.

Update: Yes, I finally did that swim workout I've been putting off! 2050 meters in the pool, including some kickboard work, with the crazy lady doing water aerobics sharing my lane. At the same time the water aerobics were going on in the next two lanes, but I guess she didn't think she fit in there.

I don't think I like the new suit very much. It's that newer polyester fabric that is supposed to stand up better in chlorine, but the fabric is stiff and scratchy. Plus the square neckline acts like a water scoop. I'll wear it for workouts, but it's not going to be a big favorite.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Fear of Fat justified?

As if most of us didn't have enough fear of fat - there's a chilling story out of Katrina (that I heard about at Big Fat Blog) that reinforces our paranoia. Get heavy enough and instead of getting evacuated, you could just get murdered by your hospital staff.

Edit: please note that the authenticity of this story is unverified at this time, per the comments.

Quote of the Day

I liked this quote I just saw today over at CNN. It's from the Katrina thing, but it has universal applicability:

"Take whatever idiot they have at the top of whatever agency and give me a better idiot. Give me a caring idiot. Give me a sensitive idiot. Just don't give me the same idiot." -- Aaron Broussard, President, Jefferson Parish

Then again, this old quote has gained new currency lately:

"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”" -- Ronald Reagan, August 12, 1986

Teensy remodel

Since I don't want to talk about the swim this morning that I DID NOT DO.... allow me to change the subject. Just try to stop me, in fact.

I'm kind of psyched about our teensy little remodel at our house. We have a 7'x13' utility room which now contains the washer, dryer, hot water heater, and a TON OF SH!T. I mean, not exactly a mini-Superdome, but close -- stuff all over the place, heaped in big piles on the floor. Falling off the ugly wire shelves in place now.

I'm getting some storage cabinets and shelvings installed in a few weeks by one of those professional closet places.

I can't wait. I'll post before and after photos.

Except first I have to empty it out and paint it. This coming weekend. Which will suck.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Before photo

Here's a shot from the Annapolis Ten Miler a little over a week ago. Rather unflattering, I'd say! And that's not the worst one, by far. But the shirt is super-comfortable, even though I look porky. The waistpack belt riding up underneath my boobs doesn't help the svelte lines of the outfit, either. The good news is that I've lost nine pounds so far in the Dead Losers Challenge! Hopefully with more to come off!

I won't get in my planned swim until tomorrow, but today I'm going for a long jogstroller walk in this suddenly beautiful weather, and I'll do at least 30 minutes on the bike trainer in preparation for the metric century on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Politics as usual?

I'm thinking about creating a separate "Political and Religious Follies" blog, just to provide a safe, quiet little place for me to rant away without offending my triathlete friends.

But let me just say, whatever your political persuasion:

Now is a pretty good time for Americans to email their senators with their thoughts and recommendations on exactly what the United States government should be doing next. Here's the link to the Senate.

Here's the House of Representatives, while you're at it.

Technology confusion

This morning I was going to put in one of those bargain-bin Sesame Street VCR tapes in for the girls to watch. It wouldn't go in the slot. I examined the machine carefully and found a CD inside there - a Norton Internet Security CD. It was wedged in the machine and quite difficult to get out!

So someone in our household took the trouble to take a computer software disc out of the CD rack by the computer, take it over to the DVD/VCR player in the living room, and attempt to jump-start it by inserting what they thought was a DVD - in the big wide VCR slot. I know this technology is confusing at times, but my husband really should know better than that.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Long run done

I felt ill yesterday when I had intended to do my weekly long slow distance run, so rather than canceling it entirely I moved it to today. I had my doubts about whether I would actually do the mileage, but it worked! I did 15.6 miles today, and after 7.8 yesterday that's 23.4 over two days. Not bad! It was all slow, lots of walking yesterday and today I took walk breaks about every mile, but the total mileage and the time on my feet is what I needed to accomplish right now. And it's done! I would have actually done about 3 more miles today but I would have been late getting home, so I left it at that.

I was very pleased with how my new homemade gel tasted, so I'll probably stick with that for long runs and tweak the flavors a little. I just have to be rigorous about remembering to click the cap shut, because gel dripped down your leg is horrible! I combined it with lots of water and Succeed caps, plus half a Powerbar, and felt pretty good the whole time.

Hopefully my speed will continue to improve this fall as the weather cools off. I love when that happens!

Later in the afternoon we took the girls for their last outing of the summer to the pool, which they enjoyed a lot, until it was time to leave when it was Catherine's usual departure tantrum. Elisabeth was friendly and walked up to everyone she saw to say hello in her own Elisabeth way.

We didn't do much to recognize the Labor Day holiday other than enjoy the day off as a family, but that's part of what it's all about, isn't it?

MORE where to donate for Katrina

Here's a great blog - summarizing the jumble of places that are available for sending donations for Katrina relief. Check there before mailing anything - it may save you some money or resources, or give you new ideas.

Today I went past the location where they were collecting where I had dropped off bags of baby stuff yesterday and there was a big banner up (apparently printed fast at the print shop located right there) that read: "You're the GREATEST * Katrina relief collection huge success". That made me feel good. It's nice to hear about one little success, after so much tragedy and failure.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Just in case....

Just in case there's someone out there that either a) needs a good laugh, or b) needs to be offended (I know some people like that, who are never truly happy unless they're offended at somebody, don't you?), here's the top ten Most Funny and Most Offensive religious jokes.

Oh, yeah, those goals

It's high time I posted my monthly goals. Hmmm, that means I'll have to decide on them. I can't truthfully say I've focused a lot on these goals this month, since I've been staring in shock and dismay at CNN or one of the other networks nearly every waking minute.... yeah, that's right, sitting on my butt watching TV. Time to click off that remote. It's too gruesome.

So let's get those September goals over with:

1. Swim: 5280 yards (3 miles) just for practice. This will be - yuck! - back indoors, since the outdoor pools around here close this coming Tuesday.
2. Cycle: 120 miles (includes goal #5 mileage).
3. Run: 80 miles. This may depend on whether I do the Chesapeakeman relay on October 1st (still up in the air) and taper for it.
4. Other training: complete 1000 crunches.
5. Events: complete 1 cycling metric century (100 km/62.1 miles), which will be my first ride over 56 miles.

Some time over the winter I'm thinking about getting back to working on my bench press, squats, and deadlifts, since I think they're terrific multi-joint whole body strengthening exercises, but that probably won't happen until November.

Nancy's lemon iced tea sports gel recipe #1

I mixed this up today and it tasted pretty yummy to me - but I like strong tart flavors. Experimentation on long runs will continue....

1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. lemonade Crystal Lite
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. peach iced tea Crystal Lite
3 Tbs. white Karo syrup
2 Tbs. honey
(Optional for more liquid: 2+ ounces water)

Dissolve Crystal Lite in lemon juice in a measuring cup with a good pouring spout. Mix in Karo syrup and honey. Pour carefully into a gel flask.

Makes about 3 fluid ounces or 3 gel packets worth. More liquid, much less gel-like than most commercial gels. If you want to have a more liquid version, you can fill the rest of the flask with water. This version probably has a high glycemic index of 55 to 60 - so you'll want to take many small swigs over time rather than one big gulp. Like most gels, it isn't a significant source of electrolytes - be sure to replenish sodium and potassium separately in addition to energy and hydration on LSD runs. Use with caution at first - you may react similarly to a big dose of, say, prunes (although I should note it did NOT have that effect on me).

Follow-up: I tried this on a 15-mile LSD run on 9/5/05 and liked it a lot! :-) It was about the right amount for that distance - for a marathon I'd make up enough to fill the flask (5 fluid ounces). Plus with a gel flask there are no wrappers to dispose of, and it probably costs less than fifty cents for 5 ounces. :-)

Bad and good

Lousy attempt at a long run this morning. Weather was perfect, I slept well, got an early start, but I just felt lousy. Cold sweat and stomach cramps don't make for an optimal run. I cut my losses and decided I'd try it again tomorrow. 7.8 miles is all I managed, but if I can run on slightly tired legs tomorrow that will be good training for the Goofy challenge in January.

But you know how I always see things on my long runs that I wouldn't have otherwise? Today it was fortuitous - some good folks from local associations were up early holding a big collection for Katrina survivor relief, filling up a semi-load of goods on the other side of town. So after I got home early I packed up the three boxes of baby items I had already prepared that were sitting in my dining room, and took it all over and dropped it off. I can always donate the value of the postage I would have otherwise paid to mail the stuff to Houston!

The volunteers were also stopping all traffic going through town and extorting - I mean, um, requesting - donations from the drivers. I usually don't approve of that sort of thing, but in this situation - stopping all the Jaguars and Mercedes and mega-SUVs coming through town and shaking them down for the worthiest of causes - I thought it was great. :-)

Oh, yeah, another good thing: I was able to book my flight up to the New York City Marathon on November 6th - it didn't seem like they'd increased the airfares too hugely yet, so I was pleased with that.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Mailing kid's stuff to help

I'm copying this directly from Been There, to help spread the word. We sure have a lot of old baby clothes that will be going this way:

Goodwill Industries of Houston is accepting and distributing donations of goods. I spoke to the CEO, Steve Lufburrow, who personally assured me that packages marked for Distribution for Families of Hurricane Katrina will be distributed to families. They particularly need children’s clothing, goods, and diapers as Goodwill normally does not receive those goods. You can send your packages to:
Mailing Address:
5200 Jensen Drive,
Houston, Texas 77026
Phone (713) 692-6221
Fax (713) 692-0923

No biking

Ack! I forgot my bike shoes this weekend. I had a 40-miler ride planned (to get ready for my metric century on the 10th), but that's not going to happen now, unless I swap out the pedals with the old toe-cage set. I think I need to buy a second pair of bike shoes to avoid this problem! Maybe I'll substitute a long swim late today, if the pool isn't too crowded with kids. I didn't get very far yesterday with my two baby girls at the pool. We had lots of fun, but it didn't include much actual swimming.

I sometimes have the same problem with my running shoes - if I forget to bring my orthotics, I can't run very far. I usually have to just take walks if I don't have the orthotics along. It's probably time to get a second pair of orthotics, too. Actually the old ones are three years old and starting to fall apart at the seams.

It does seem trivial to worry about such things when there's a large number of American right now with no decent shoes at all, but that's my life.

Very glad to hear today that our friend Dudley is okay in LaPlace, Louisiana; and best wishes and thanks to Jack heading down to Louisiana to shore up the law enforcement situation. I hope they let us know if there's any way in addition to sending money that we can help them or anyone else down there.

In our household, we were glad to hear that my husband won't have to leave next week for Denmark after all.

But doing something, anything, sure beats screaming at the TV in frustration and horror when I see things like FEMA Director Mike Brown saying on Thursday, "the federal government did not even know about the Convention Center people until today." Arrrrrrggghhh! I had to cheer when Anderson Cooper confronted Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu about people being tired of hearing politicians congratulating each other while bodies were being gnawed by rats in the streets of New Orleans. This is the start of an enormous upheaval which will last a long, long time and affect us all.

Followup: Giving her some credit, senator Mary Landrieu did ask the president to name a new cabinet-level official to direct the disaster effort, presumably in order to supersede the clearly overwhelmed FEMA director Mike Brown. It sounds like his credentials for heading up FEMA are approximately the same as my own (except I'm not as well-connected).

Followup to followup: Senator Landrieu is now showing some backbone, as evidenced by her response to the stage-managed Bush photo-op and her lashing out at the "abject failures of the current Federal Emergency Management Agency".

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Gas prices

I'm hearing lots of folks saying yeah, yeah, yeah, that's sad about New Orleans - but complaining vociferously and at great length about gas prices.

I have to say ... in the scope of this overwhelming disaster, a few more $$ at the pump is a miniscule price to pay. I feel extraordinarily fortunate that I all I have to do is pay a few more bucks and my family can go on with life as normal.

I'm counting my blessings.


"Your comment on Katrina's effect on energy prices is being considered for publication in a special collection of responses on the Opinion page of The Christian Science Monitor's print edition."

Putting it in perspective

It's difficult to get a mental grasp on the scope of the Katrina disaster, and so I looked up some comparably sized US metropolitan districts. Think about any one of these cities suddenly ceasing to exist:

  • 29 San Antonio, TX MSA 1,592,383
  • 30 Norfolk--Virginia Beach--Newport News, VA--NC MSA 1,569,541
  • 31 Las Vegas, NV--AZ MSA 1,563,282
  • 32 Columbus, OH MSA 1,540,157
  • 33 Charlotte--Gastonia--Rock Hill, NC--SC MSA 1,499,293
  • 34 New Orleans, LA MSA 1,337,726
  • 35 Salt Lake City--Ogden, UT MSA 1,333,914
  • 36 Greensboro--Winston-Salem--High Point, NC MSA 1,251,509
  • 37 Austin--San Marcos, TX MSA 1,249,763
  • 38 Nashville, TN MSA 1,231,311
  • 39 Providence--Fall River--Warwick, RI--MA MSA 1,188,613
  • 40 Raleigh--Durham--Chapel Hill, NC MSA 1,187,941
  • 41 Hartford, CT MSA 1,183,110
  • 42 Buffalo--Niagara Falls, NY MSA 1,170,111
  • 43 Memphis, TN--AR--MS MSA 1,135,614
  • 44 West Palm Beach--Boca Raton, FL MSA 1,131,184
  • 45 Jacksonville, FL MSA 1,100,491

Or imagine one of these cities of comparable size in other parts of the world suddenly being wiped out:

  • 293 Copenhagen Denmark 1,400,000
  • 299 Lille France 1,375,000 incl. Kortrijk (Belgium)
  • 304 Volgograd Russia 1,375,000
  • 305 Liverpool Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1,350,000
  • 311 Düsseldorf Germany 1,325,000
  • 314 New Orleans USA 1,325,000
  • 315 Phnom Penh Cambodia 1,325,000
  • 318 San José Costa Rica 1,325,000
  • 329 Prague Czech Republic 1,275,000
  • 331 Sheffield Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1,275,000
  • 333 Auckland New Zealand 1,250,000