Monday, October 31, 2005

November goals

Here's what I'm planning to accomplish this month. November will include a trip to New York City for a destination marathon, plus a nine-day vacation with my girls shortly afterwards when I won't be getting in many workouts. The beginning of the month I'm tapering for the marathon, and then the time just after the marathon is a step-back recovery time for me.

This month I'm adding a weight loss goal for the first time. I don't like specifying it in pounds, because that's not something that's directly under my control - only what I put in my mouth is under my control, and how my body (and the scale) responds is up to physiology. However, for the sake of simplicity in this blog I'll just call it a conservative number. Mostly this is a reminder to myself that I need to pay strict, particular attention to changing my body composition during these times when training volume is light. Or, to put it another way, I'm going to pay attention now to creating good eating habits in the off-season.

* Swim: 4000 meters.
* Bike: 50 miles.
* Run and walk: 40 miles (including 26.2 miles in the marathon).
* Crunches: 1000.
* Weight loss: 4.0 pounds.
* Events:

October summary

Well, this month it is True Confessions time. I didn't follow through exactly as I had planned.
  • Swim #1 goal: 5 miles (8047 meters). Completed 2297 meters or 28%. Grade: F.
  • Swim #2 goal: Complete a one-mile time trial in the pool (using only freestyle stroke with bilateral breathing) for a benchmark to work on improving over the winter. DNS. Zero. Grade: F.
  • Bike goal: 140 miles. Completed 62.2 miles or 44%. Grade: F.
  • Run and walk in workouts goal: 90 miles (including 26.2 miles in the marathon). Completed 74.8 miles or 83%. Grade: B.
  • Crunches goal: 1000. Completed 1060 or 106%. Grade: A.
  • Events goal: Complete the Baltimore Marathon upright and smiling (as a final long run in preparation for the New York City Marathon in November): Completed. I'll give this one a grade of 95%, A.
  • Dream goal (optional!): Complete the Baltimore Marathon in a PR, under 5:40. No PR! Finish time was 5:59:51.

If I count the two swim goals as one goal (and don't count the optional dream goal), then I average 71.2% for the month. Overall grade for the month: C-.

I think that counting a month as a C- when I completed a marathon that month says something about how my priorities and definitions have shifted! It also reminds me that I'll need to plan ahead for a taper and recovery for those races that I consider "A" races, and train through those races that I consider "B" and "C" races.

Waist pack supplies in marathons

Mica asks another good question: What do I carry in my waist pack for a marathon?

I have to qualify my answer a bit. I'm a back-of the pack runner, so I have to plan to a) be out there a LONG time, and b) figure that the aid stations will run out of stuff before I get there. I've run lots of races where the aid stations were dismantled before I arrive. I try to be dependent for the aid stations for nothing besides water, and even then as I've described I try to carry a little water bottle along for emergencies. I read the race website carefully to know what to expect, but I also don't rely on race management to keep their promises. Better happily surprised than sorely disappointed.

That said, any added weight slows a person down when running. So I have to strike a compromise between added weight and being prepared for anything.

For a full marathon, I wear:

* A bandana around my wrist or tied on my waist strap. This is mostly for wiping sweat or washing off salt, but I'm also prepared to abandon it in a portapotty should that become necessary.

* A gel flask filled with my home brew clipped on my belt, or I carry 5 sports gel packs (for every 4 miles).

* ID is velcroed on my shoe

* Sunglasses and a visor to reduce eye strain/fatigue

* A waist pack with my essential supplies (everything that will get ruined by sweat is inside plastic):

  • A pace chart covered with clear tape and safety-pinned on the outside
  • 1 car key - safety-pinned in so I don't drop it
  • $20 in a ziplock - safety-pinned in so I don't drop it (plus a subway pass, etc., depending on the race location)
  • 10-12 salt capsules inside a plastic canister (a mini M&Ms container)
  • A copy of the race map inside a ziplock (for emergencies or meltdowns)
  • A few hard candies and/or glucose tablets to fight off the wall at bad stretches of the race
  • Chapstick (can double for sunblock or temporary lube in emergencies)
  • Eyedrops (I wear contacts and when you're dehydrated they can get bad)
  • A few emergency drugs (NOT more than the maximum I think I need, because I tend to lose track of what I've taken when my thinking gets foggy late in the race), including:
  • two 8-hour Tylenol
  • two ibuprofen
  • two Rolaids or Tums or a Pepcid AC
  • two Benadryls or other allergy drug in summer

Lots of people have other strategies, and if I were faster I wouldn't be on the course so long and wouldn't need so much stuff, but for marathons I'm equipped more or less as a self-supporting ultrarunner. I've found out through long trial and error that this works for me!

Perhaps I should add: I almost always go to races alone - which means I don't have someone to meet me at the finish line, or to take my warmups, or hand me some Gatorade at the halfway point, or carry the car keys for me, or that I can phone to bail me out if I have problems. Everything I carry is something that I've really, really needed at one time or another that has turned out to be a life-saver on a race course. I may be able to pare it down a bit if I get faster and/or I'm at a race where I know that I can count on the aid stations being well-stocked.

Carrying water bottles in marathons

Danny asked me a good question about my previous post, which I'll answer here.

For NYCM, I've heard it's important to bring a water bottle to the start, because you'll be waiting for the start in the park a long time, and you may be standing on the bridge for a long while, and I don't think the water stops start until after the bridge (at 2+ miles into the race). By the time I arrive at the back of the pack, the supplies are often low!

I often carry a bottle in longer races to avoid the crowds at the water stations and in case the water stations run out of water. I'm not sure if it saves me time (because it does take a while to stop and refill the bottle compared to just grabbing a cup), but it does save me annoyance to just fill the bottle about every 2-3 stations and just jog through the others.

I don't like using a water-carrier pack as much because mine doesn't hold as much (sports gel, Kleenex, etc.) as my waistpack, plus they tend to bounce and chafe.

A hand-held water bottle allows me to keep hydrating more or less continually, instead of chugging water just at the aid stations. Keeping my water always on hand helps me pay close attention to it.

Plus I can monitor my intake a little more carefully if I pay attention to how many bottles I have drunk. Or if I think I'm getting a bit low on fluids, I can make a point of drinking half a bottle within the next mile, etc. I can also adjust my salt capsule intake more precisely to how much water I'm taking in.

I always throw the bottle away by about mile 22-23 (to save the weight at the end) because I won't be absorbing too much more water from my stomach after that to help me get to the finish line. (I use a cheap rinsed-out throwaway bottle for that reason, and not a fancy $14 handheld with a strap.) I can refuel and re-hydrate after the finish line.

It works fairly well for me in marathons, as long as I use a small, lightweight bottle. My shoulders just get a little sore if they're not accustomed to it.

Post pacing recovery

I'm definitely a little more sore from that dozen miles at MCM yesterday than I would like to be. It was probably that dumb dancing around that I did while the high school band was playing Tequila. Yeah, that's it.

I also got a blister on the top of my ankle from my too-tight tri laces. Gack, I thought I had fixed them. I guess my feet swell more than I had thought! I've loosened them again, and hopefully that will do the trick for NYCM. I'll take the girls on a walk to the park this afternoon to work some soreness out of my legs and enjoy the beautiful weather.

I also get a little shoulder soreness from carrying a water bottle for 3 hours. It may be only a pound or two, but the stress adds up after a long time! I debated about using a water bottle carrier versus hand-holding it, and decided to hand-hold since that's what I did for most of Baltimore. I'll probably hand-hold at New York, too, but maybe bring a smaller throwaway bottle to carry and lose it about Mile 23, just like I did in Baltimore.

Otherwise it's back to intense tapering before I go to New York next Saturday! Not much mileage today to add to my puny October totals, I'm afraid!

I won't be going for a PR in New York - I'm going to be running with a friend and we plan to enjoy the spectacle of the world's biggest marathon and pace ourselves for some comfortable sightseeing and a sub-6-hour finish.

I'm also working hard with pencil and paper on my big 50-week Ironman training plan. I'm not setting down exact workouts now - just distance targets for the long swims, rides, and runs (and bricks) each week so that I know I'm progressing correctly throughout the year towards taking on the whopping distance of a 3862m/4224-yard swim, 180km/112-mile bike, and 42 km/26.2-mile run all in one day.

IM emag

A new online downloadable Ironman magazine: IM emag. I asked some folks before I did the download of the reader, and they assured me it was all right - and sure enough, it's excellent! Definitely worth subscribing if you want some Ironman inspiration!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Living Strong!

I had the pleasure of running a few miles today with Holly (and 25,000 or so of our running buddies) as she completed the Marine Corps Marathon in fine form!! I jumped on the course with her about the 10 mile mark and we had a beautiful day for a jog up to the Capitol, then down around the Tidal Basin, out to the end of Hains Point (where we ran into Ron Horton!) and then up onto the 14th Street Bridge with plenty of time to spare.

We continued into Crystal City and I left her on the course at 2:04 PM at the turnaround at 23rd street, just before the 23 mile marker. She just finished in 6:08:07 as I was home on my computer watching the runner tracking. What a remarkable woman, and what a fantastic example of how to LIVE STRONG!

And thanks for getting me out for a final warmup run for New York next weekend, Holly!

Note to the concerned: I wasn't totally banditing the race - Holly had a paid-for race number from a friend that I wore on course (to help pay for the water and course support I took advantage of), and I did carry ID with me in case of emergency. Just so you know. :-)

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Ten Day NYCM Forecast

Woo! The ten-day forecast for the New York City Marathon looks perfectamundo!!

"Sunday: A few clouds. Highs in the low 60s and lows in the mid 50s."

Yay! Anything but cold rain. I can't stand cold rain. Please no cold rain. Please no cold rain.

Good luck to everyone running the 30th Marine Corps Marathon tomorrow! The forecast looks similar - possibly a bit on the warm side. It should be a great day! Go Holly go!

Racing or training: pick one

I just snuck a look at my October swim/bike/run totals. WHOOPS! They're way down. I doubt that I will hit many of my goals for this month.

That's okay with me, because I'm taking it a little on the slow side before I launch my 50-week IM training plan on November 21st.

I can't believe I'm calling a month in which I have completed a marathon and I'm preparing for a second marathon "a little on the slow side", but there it is. What a change in perspective, eh?

Lesson learned? As much as I like doing races, and as much as I hate to admit it, they DO cut into my training time. It's difficult to keep up the daily training grind when you're gearing up for a race or winding down from it. I need to keep that in mind when I formulate my training plan for the Ironman. I need to be sure to keep my Eyes On The Prize and be strict about limiting my taper and recovery periods for the "B" and "C" races on my schedule, or skip those races entirely.

Friday, October 28, 2005

A successful post?

Here's a re-write of the post that disappeared Without A Trace.

I was contacted recently by someone who was compiling weight loss success stories and asked for mine. That made me stop and think.

I don't consider myself a weight loss success story. Since I began running again in 2000, I'm down about forty pounds (interrupted by having babies), although I tend to say "Yeah, BUT....". I'm still not anywhere near my ideal body weight, so I still consider it a work in progress. I'm on the slow and gradual and hopefully permanent weight loss plan, not on the rapid makeover lifestyle change and temporary yo-yo weight loss plan. I don't diet and I rarely deny myself foods that I truly want.

Even if I were still at my top weight, I'd probably still be doing road races and triathlons today. I'd just be doing them at a slower pace. I enjoy them and they keep me motivated to keep working out, regardless of what the scale says today.

I know lots of people that I do consider weight loss success stories: Linae, Tory, and Holly are good examples.

I'm not a weight loss success story. But I am lots of other kinds of stories.
  • An aspiring triathlete success story? Maybe, maybe not. It's certainly something I'd like to continue to pursue, although I'll probably never be someone who stands on the podium in open or even age group competition. But every race I finish feels like a successful achievement to me.
  • An academic professional failure story? Maybe, maybe not. I worked hard for years to earn a Master of Science degree and a Doctor of Philosophy degree by age 27. I worked as a college professor for fourteen years and although I ultimately was not awarded tenure, mostly because I was unable to raise sufficient research funds in my area of study, I directed, authored, and published a body of world-class research, and taught hundreds of students. I'm proud of that.
  • A later-in-life marriage success story? I hope so. We got married in 2001, when I was 43. My first, his second. And so far, so good! We're happy. Of course, that means that prior to that I had a quarter-century of many questionable relationships, some of them abysmal, many decidedly unsuccessful.
  • A later-in-life fertility success story? Yes and no. I had triplets in 2003. Anna died at six months of age, due to the complications of extreme prematurity. Heartbreakingly sad, but that was one of the risks we accepted when we decided not to "selectively reduce" her (i.e., abort her) when we found out I was carrying triplets, a very high-risk pregnancy for a 45-year-old woman. We have two gorgeous two-year-old daughters that I cherish every day.
  • A parenting success story? I sure hope so, but the jury will be out on that one for another couple decades.
  • A success-through-hard-work story? I hope so. I'd like to be that.

Life is complicated. Hopefully life is long, and every life has lots of stories behind it. Perhaps it's that I don't look at it as a binary, simplistic, black-or-white success or failure thing any more. Life stories aren't told in a before-and-after photo. Life isn't the movies. There are no happy endings in real life. Life just goes on, or it doesn't.

Or perhaps I've learned that each of us makes tradeoffs in life, and for every success story, there's also some kind of failure story. Maybe that's just a teensy touch of maturity finally sinking in after all these years.

I've also stopped thinking that it's all about the weight. If I really want to do something, these days I just go ahead and do it, regardless of what I weigh. I like the attitude of Jayne Williams: pursue your athletic dreams in the body you have now.

That's what Run Big! is all about.

Are you a success story?

(Some previous comments on this topic are here.)


I can't believe I have to run a marathon in nine days on this fugly duck foot. The right one isn't much better. I'm amazed they work at all.

Can you see why I'm often incredulous when women worry about having pretty toes for sandals or what color to paint their toenails? Jeez, I'd need a foot transplant to have attractive feet. Hey, at least I have two, right? I should count my blessings!

The Reveal

Here's our utility room in late summer:

Here it is now, from practically the same view, with practically the exact same items stored in it:

I think I might put some type of screen in front of the ugly hot water heater, and buy a new 24" stool to use instead of that chair, but otherwise, I love it!

This is the opposite view, with the four big slide-out bins that we got for sorting and storing recycling items. We have a big recycling deposit center about 200 yards from our house, next to the local high school, so we really have no excuse not to be good recyclers!

The whole room is about 7 feet by 13 feet, but now it holds about 2 or 3 times the stuff in a much neater way. I'm very pleased with how it turned out!

Thursday, October 27, 2005


My previous post just disappeared. The comments on it remain. Crap.

That's just bizarre. I posted it at 5:49, edited it a couple times, and then went to watch TV. It was up long enough for Dawn to comment on it at about 10:30. Then at 11:00 when I was done watching Without A Trace it was gone. *poof* I did NOT delete it - I wasn't even near my computer at the time. No, I don't have a backup copy.

I guess the moral to the story is to write and save everything offline. How extremely annoying!!

Success stories?

Heart rate zones

Phil posted this, but I hadn't seen it before and I think it bears repeating: A heart rate calculator which tells you what your zones are, based on your resting and maximum heart rate. This is helpful for those of us for whom the standard formulas don't work very well.

My calculated zones, just for the record, are below. I find it fairly difficult to get under Zone 4 when I'm running, and hard to get up into it when I'm cycling. Haven't checked my swimming heart rates for a while, they're probably through the roof.

Zone 1, walking: 127-138
Zone 2, jogging: 138-149
Zone 3, running: 149-160
Zone 4, hard: 160-171
Zone 5, all-out: 171-182

Actually, now that I look at the numbers, as a mnemonic device you could probably take the highest heart rate you've ever seen on your heart rate monitor (182 for me), and then simply count down in ten-beat increments from your maximum for the lower limit of each Zone (172, 162, 152, 142, 132 for zones 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) and that would give you a pretty close approximation of your zones, too.

USPS phobia

I think my daughter Catherine is developing phobias. Or I'm giving them to her, somehow.

First it was the elevator phobia. That one manifested as a tantrum waiting for the elevator inside Sears, and the only thing I could figure out is that she thought it was the same as the elevator that takes her to the pediatrician's office.

Today she had a similar unfathomable meltdown inside the local small-town post office. I had to maneuver the double jogstroller though the narrow door that was built some time well before the Americans With Disabilities Act. THEN she has a major tantrum, for no apparent rational reason.

She won this time. I wasn't going to get in a line of eight people with a screaming baby in a double jogstroller taking up half the small room. I couldn't even buy stamps because the antique machine in the lobby only took coins.

She calmed down the second we got out the door. Go figure.

Now I could totally understand it if she screamed at the sight of a bunch of posers and Lance-wannabes wearing USPS cycling jerseys, but no....

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Hooray for Sarah!

Another athlete on the course with Shelley in Kona was a woman who had a score to settle: Sarah Reinertsen, who missed the bike cutoff by 15 minutes last year. She was the first woman with an artificial leg to compete in the Hawaii Ironman World Championships - and in 2005, the first to complete the course (with a whole lot of people cheering for her). Here's her blog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Slicing up the elephant

Fifty weeks of training. Ack, that sounds like the Sentence of Doom. Far too much to contemplate! I mean, we're talking about a tired, rapidly-aging, not-so-spry, way-too-heavy old lady here! How do I break it down into manageable bites?

One resource that's been very helpful so far has been the gold standard of ironman training texts, Going Long by Joe Friel and Gordon Byrn, that I've already quoted.

(Excuse me while I think out loud and make notes to myself on my blog).

Here are the punctuation points for my Bigass Year of Training, so far:
Now the challenge will be setting the priorities and objectives for each macro cycle and fine-tuning it for each discipline (swimming, biking, and running) within each cycle.

That's how I'll cut apart the elephant into easily-consumed tasty bite-sized morsels. Preferably thin marinated strips roasted on skewers with a piquant Thai peanut sauce, please.

Note to self: Yurtie recommends that I do another Olympic or half IM in August/September. Think about Steelhead (~August 5), Timberman (~Aug 19), or Diamondman (~Sept 11).

Quote of the day

"Anyone can do the distance if they want it badly enough. There is no bigger challenge in triathlon than the Ironman distance, and ultimately the decision is yours and yours alone. The right answer lies inside you. You will do the training, you will make the necessary commitments, and you will miss out on certain other aspects of your life. For many, the trade is worth it. One is never "ready" for a ironman-distance race. The event is far too big for that. However, we firmly believe that anyone (and we mean anyone) can complete the distance so long as they have one ingredient: will. The will to train and, most important of all, the will to finish."

-- Joe Friel and Gordon Byrn in Going Long

Ironman professions

I submit, without comment or editorial alteration, some of the self-proclaimed professions of participants in Ironman Florida 2005:

and my favorites,



PuddyRat's post made me smile. I'm in complete agreement.

Gack! TriathAlon drives me nuts! People should at least have to be able to spell TRIATHLON as a requirement for starting the swim leg, as well as pronounce it correctly with three syllables.

The swim may be postponed for lightning. Not lightening. I hope you don't have to start in the dark.

You pedal the bike. Not peddle, unless you're trying to sell it.

And finishing CHUTE. Not shoot, people! Arrgh!! Shoot them all!

You get a medal at the end of the chute. Not a metal. Nor a meddle.

Web SITE. Or website, if you prefer. Not sight.

I know I have lots more to add here, without even getting into apostrophes and possessives ... or should I say possessive's? Heh.

Yes, I cut slack to people for whom English is not their native language. And anyone in a hurry who doesn't proofread may be permitted one or two inadvertent typing errors per day. And "weakened" may be an appropriate substitute for "weekend", on occasion. Otherwise there are no excuses.

I just thought of another one. EXERCISE. Practice it at home, kids.

The plan

About that Ironman thing ... hmm. This is a major decision with a lot of ramifications, and I've given it a lot of thought. While in some respects it's a life-altering project, in other respects - hey, it's just another triathlon, right?

My current plan is yes, to have someone register me for Ironman Florida 2006 while I'm in the New York City Marathon. I'm not totally getting my heart set on IMFL, because of the vagaries of registration - it won't be in my direct control, it's a popular event, and it's quite possible that a lot of people who hope to do it may not get in.

If that happens, most likely I'll target another iron-distance event next fall as an alternative. There are several to choose from, but the easiest logistically for me would be Chesapeakeman.

My objectives? No, I'm not going to worry about my times for my first attempt at an iron-distance triathlon, other than making darned sure that I can beat the cutoffs. That would be getting the proverbial cart before the horse. "To finish is to win", and becoming an Ironman is a big enough project without cluttering it up with time concerns and a zillion subordinate and perhaps contradictory goals. Best to keep it simple.

My non-quantifiable ultimate goals for the next year are these:
  • Train intelligently and effectively for an iron-distance triathlon while keeping my life in balance with my other responsibilities.
  • Get to the starting line in the fall of 2006 in the best shape of my life.
  • Enjoy the race day as a celebration of my training.
Notice how it doesn't say: swim leg x:xx, bike leg y:yy, run leg z:zz and cross the finish line by whatever:whatever? Or that I'll weigh 110 pounds or look just like Karen Smyers or bench press double my body weight? Those are incidentals and performance outcomes that are not within my direct personal control.

Precisely how my ultimate goals will be translated into concrete, objective, quantifiable subsidiary objectives in a sensible, logical, and progressive training plan will be detailed in a future post. Said plan will be written some time after I get my 2006 laminated wall calendar and mark it up with three or four different colors of Sharpies.

Fifty weeks of training begins November 21, 2005. And I'll need every week of it. An off-season? Not for me, not unless I want to have a off race.

But before then, I have to get the utility room remodeling done. And change a couple of diapers. And oh yeah, before I forget, finish another marathon and spend another week in a motor home.

Monday, October 24, 2005

What would it mean to excel?

At Ironman Florida, just for a wild-ass example, what would it mean to excel in the event? For me?

I'm all about objectivity. It's all in the numbers.

In iron-distance events, in highly objective terms, "to finish is to win". So crossing the finish line and doing the distance, while meeting the swim (2:20), bike (10:15), and total (17:00) cutoffs and earning a medal, is to earn the name Ironman. That's a victory for anyone who accomplishes it. Period. That would be my primary goal in any Ironman triathlon.

But at the same time, I'm interested (just for curiosity's sake) to see how fast the people in my category did the course. It is a race, after all.

What would it take to be "above average"?

Clydesdale women 40 & over, median -1 performance:
2004: Swim: 1:25:08, Bike: 7:00:24, Run: 5:20:34 Total: 15:03:27
2003: Swim: 2:07:29, Bike: 6:46:00, Run: 6:12:50 Total: 15:30:59
2002: Swim: 1:17:16, Bike: 5:55:08, Run: 4:23:31 Total: 11:53:42 whoa!

Women 45-49, median -1 performance:
2004: Swim: 1:44:43, Bike: 7:01:17, Run: 5:11:41, Total: 14:14:59
2003: Swim: 1:41:36, Bike: 6:39:22, Run: 4:31:05, Total: 13:13:48
2002: Swim: 1:56:10, Bike: 6:41:22, Run: 5:10:15, Total: 14:00:02

Jeez. Those are some fast women. Impressive performances! That seem right now, by the way, totally out of reach for this old body. I think I'm scaring myself. I also think it would be very wise to wait until I age up a group or two, and get an IM finish or two under my belt, before I even consider looking at those median age group times again! I'm kind of surprised how much spread there is in those numbers, as well. They're not as clear-cut as I had hoped - between 11:53 and 15:30 is a gigantic spread. I'll be watching the 2005 Ironman Florida results with interest to see how fast the competitors do the course this year.

Unrelated news bits

Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow are going to be hosting Saturday Night Live this week! Fun!

And for my buddies who are looking for the TRI-DRS email list and the DRS email list, they have been down since Friday and hopefully will be up and running again soon. I'm having major withdrawals! I miss my peeps!

I started a new Yahoo triathlon discussion group today as an emergency backup and place to post photos and use the calendar, etc., just in case TRI-DRS breaks again: Tri-talk. Anyone is welcome!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Not a matter of if, but when

That's what roadies say. It's not IF you're going to have that embarrassing non-clipping-out crash, it's WHEN.

For me, today was my special day.

Jeez. I've been riding in clipless pedals regularly ever since I got my new bike, Buttercup, way back in early March. I felt quite comfortable in them and had no problem clipping in and out, or so I thought.

I went out for a ride today in the nice cooler weather, and headed out down the peninsula for a dozen miles. I was doing great, staying down in the aerobars, feeling good. I even was able to take a water bottle out and get in a good drink even while staying in the aerobars. I thought that was slick. I thought I had finally gained some coordination. But no....

I came to my usual turnaround point, the little parking lot just before Knapps Narrows Bridge. I swung in there, slowed down, clipped out my right foot, came to a stop, and set down my right foot.

The only problem was that I (apparently) was leaning left at the time. And my left foot was still very, very firmly clipped in.

I had a sudden brilliant flash of clarity: there was absolutely, positively nothing that I could do.

In slow motion, I tipped over directly onto my left side, my knee and elbow hitting the asphalt in deliberate sequence with two terrific thuds.


I lay on the ground, pushed the bike off my leg, and finally twisted my left foot out of the pedal. I slowly extricated myself and gingerly stood up, and realized that I would have a couple of new painful bruises, but nothing was badly hurt except my pride (and some scuffed handlebar tape). Luckily nobody was in the parking lot but me.

I pedaled home slowly and with great humility.

I hope that I've successfully passed the initiation test, and we don't have to do that again.

Uh oh!

Recommendation to boaters: Don't go anywhere off the east coast of the US this coming week. Bad plan. This may make the Perfect Storm look like a pleasure cruise.

I'm just hoping this means we'll have a nice fair-weather high following it up after the bad stuff passes by so that Holly has gorgeous weather next Sunday for the Marine Corps Marathon! I'll be doing 10-12 miles of it along with her, just for the fun of it. Can't wait!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Death to ants

Thanks for all your suggestions on my little issue with the ants! I bought these little party gazebos for them today. I hope they enjoy their visit, and bring home samples for all their cousins back home.

If this doesn't work, I'm bringing out the tactical nuclear warheads.

End of inactive, sluglike recovery

Enough already! I took a week of sitting on my butt after the Baltimore Marathon - now it's time to get this old body in motion again!

Yes, I've still got some bruising that has to resolve in my feet, and I know my tendons and ligaments and bones experienced some wear and tear during those 26.2 miles that will take a couple more weeks to fully heal - but I can still get back to doing some exercise! I've got another marathon to finish in just two weeks, and I need to stay on my toes for that!

So today I was back at the track, doing my usual mile repeats. It was partly flooded so I had to stick to the middle lane, so my miles were slightly long. I jogged it at an easy recovery pace:
  • 11:57
  • 11:57
  • 11:55
Yes, much slower than my speedier runs when I'm building (10:52, 10:39, and 10:31 on September 25), but that relaxed pace was just right for today.

Note: I'm posting updates on Linae's progress at the Great Floridian Triathlon half-ironman today as I receive them over on her blog. Go Linae!

Friday, October 21, 2005


I'm going to kill them all.

I just don't know quite HOW yet.

I've tried:
* keeping the counters clean
* keeping the floors clean
* storing all food inside plastic
* taking out the garbage twice daily
* spraying deadly insecticide
* putting out ant traps
* putting out MORE ant traps
* cleaning with vinegar
* smashing them
* not smashing them

... and still they keep coming, and coming, and coming. Their little trails criss-cross my kitchen. They throw parties in my garbage can. They laugh at me. I'm just waiting for them to invite their friends, the cockroaches.


Slow rainy day

I'm bouncing back from the Baltimore Marathon still. No running yet, since my left foot is still slightly bruised (and yeah, that dying toenail has to go), but maybe later today if this cold rain (yuck!) subsides a bit.

There's always a bit of a psychological lull after a big event. I didn't consider Baltimore an "A" race, so I wasn't extremely psyched up for it going into it, so that helps - I'm on a fairly even keel coming out of it. But there's a hazard of getting into a real slump after a major event that has occupied your thoughts and training for a long time - like if I were Shelley or Ellie coming out of their huge iron-distance events I'd probably feel a bit lost and rudderless for a while! I've always called it PMD (Post-Marathon Depression) but maybe next year I'll be calling it PID: Post-Ironman Depression.

I tend to find that having another fun event scheduled as a followup and getting moving in that direction helps - so I'm glad I have the New York City Marathon to look forward to in another (gulp!) 16 days. Then after that I have the Goofy Challenge at Disneyworld in January. And so on, and so on.

I need to find or more probably, CREATE some swimming and biking milestone events in the next three months which will keep me equally motivated in my workouts in those disciplines!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Good luck Linae!

Here's a special GOOD LUCK to Linae doing her first half-Ironman triathlon in Clermont on Saturday, the Great Floridian Triathlon. Their motto is, "Are You Tough Enough?" I'm quite sure that Linae is tough enough! "Fiercest Atlantic hurricane ever seen"?? No problem! Nothing more than a teensy inconvenience. There's no Category Five that can stand up to Linae! You go girl! Just be sure to get your bike leg done while you have a tailwind!

If the management wimps out, I hope they just give you an extra week to taper!

Death to Tanita

I just bought a Tanita scale with a body fat estimator function.

The good news is that it weighs me at 3.2 pounds less than my old standby scale.

The very, very bad news is that it seems to think I have a whopping 11.3% more body fat than the tape measure method. Obviously Tanita is cruelly wrong.

Still sore

Three mile walk down the trail and to the park and back, and I'm STILL sore! Still the bruised instep, outside of my knees, and some crankiness in my quads.

I'm old and decrepit! I'm not going to do any serious runs or do my usual workout plan (right column) until I'm not a hurting puppy.

Here is part of my desperate teeth-gritted sprint for the finish line. At least it does look like I'm running - most of my race photos look like I'm walking, even when I'm not.

Here are the rest of them. It looks like I have gel drooled out from my flask and down my shirt in some of them, but I didn't, honest!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Still recovering and pondering lessons learned

I'm still coming back from the immediate post-marathon soreness, but feeling enough better today that the girls and I went for a jogstroller walk around the National Zoo in the beautiful fall weather. They saw elephants and giraffes and a big orangutan came right up and sat directly in front of them and studied my girls as if they were the animals in the zoo. Catherine enjoyed clucking to the chickens in the children's zoo. She was adamant that the cow was a doggie. So was the capybara, for that matter.

Every long race is just training for the next, and I'll try to review and incorporate the new lessons in what works and doesn't work for me into my upcoming jaunt through the five boroughs of New York City.

Feet: I'm going to lose the usual one or two toenails, which is to be expected from running the downhills, and fine with me as long as they're all done doing whatever they're going to do before NY City Marathon. I got a couple of unusual blisters, but fortunately they didn't bother me during the race. Then all of a sudden when I was walking away from the finish line I thought I had a rock in my shoe next to my toe - but no, it was a toe blister! Ugh!

Shoes: My left instep is still quite bruised - it took a pounding from the stretchy triathlon shoelaces that I used and whooops! never adjusted quite properly. Lesson learned: too loose is better than too snug.

Clothing: My clothing worked great. No discomfort or chafing problems there. In slightly colder temperatures I may just throw a long-sleeved Coolmax shirt over the top that I can adjust or tie around my waist on the fly. Add a windproof technical vest and I'm good down to about 50 degrees. Rain - perish the thought.

Fluids and electrolytes: I also have to do some slight adjustments to my fluid and electrolyte intake during my next marathon. For Baltimore I took 10 Succeed caps in 6-7 hours (total 3440 mg sodium, 210 mg potassium) , and hydrated with a hand-held water bottle. The temperatures were actually somewhat lower than I believed during the race, and while I felt hot I must not have been sweating off as much sodium as I thought at the time. Based on some uncomfortable urinary symptoms, I think I ended up slightly dehydrated and/or hypernatremic at the end of the race. Lesson learned: Next time I need to be sure to get at least 20 ounces of water per Succeed cap, and after a summer of training dial back my normal intake rate (one per ~3 miles) a bit in the fall when the temperature drops below 80*F.

Energy: Another lesson learned: I need to use my largest gel flask during a marathon, and perhaps bring some Jolly Ranchers as a light weight backup! I ran out of my homemade gel at around mile 18-20, and relied on commercial gels distributed on course during the race after that. I still can't stomach them. One packet went from my mouth straight into a garbage can because I literally couldn't force myself to swallow it.

Pacing: I may never learn to run even splits in a marathon. Once again, even though I tried to go out slowly and comfortably, I came no where close to running a consistent pace per mile throughout the course. This time I spent about 47% of the time (2:50) before the halfway point, and 53% of the time (3:10) after the halfway point. This time my slowest miles were in the 20-21 range (but in other races it's been anywhere between mile 16 and 24). But although I was tired on the second half, I don't think I had a full-blown bonk like I have in some long races, but the downslope toward the end helped. I think I just need to keep nudging this in the positive direction and understand in my pacing plans that the second half of a marathon is still likely to take me as much as 20 minutes more than the first half. If not, great! I'm sure that more completed long-long runs would help even out the splits a bit and improve my second-half endurance.

Any other obvious lessons that I'm missing that should be slapping me in the face right about now?

Race etiquette

Is this what fast runners think about doing during races? Or is it just fast racewalkers?

I wouldn't know. I'm always in the back of the pack.

New York Marathon pace bands

If you rely on a pace chart in marathons like I do, and you're running New York, you NEED the NY City Marathon pace band calculator at the Nike website. It accounts for the terrain, including the big uphill of the Verranzano Narrows Bridge at the start, the hills at mile 8, 16.5, and the rollers in Central Park. You'll need to make an account, but then try this link. (The site is a little weird to navigate).

Another must-read site for newcomers (like me) to the New York City Marathon: Ron Horton's "Things I Wish I Knew The First Time I Ran NYCM". Thanks, Ron!

Local Baltimore opinion?

From today's Baltimore Sun Letters to the Editor:

"On Sunday, The Sun had several articles on the Baltimore Marathon of the day before ("Antics keep wacky pace to long race," Oct. 16), and not one of them had a word about the horrendous traffic jams that the marathon caused this year, as it does every year. Thousands of cars were stopped or forced to endure bumper-to-bumper traffic for long periods because, once again, the city did not plan adequately for the event. Big banners should go up all over the city the day before the marathon, alerting drivers to stay off the roads. Those roads that are to be blocked should have signs warning drivers not to enter them. Better yet, the city should close Interstate 83 and confine the runners to it. Some of us have shopping and errands to do on Saturdays, and consider them more important than the desire of a bunch of jerks to run through the streets." -- Henry Cohen, Baltimore

I guess I'm one of the jerks he's talking about, eh? I noted in my race report that I didn't see any closure notices along the course, and I think that might help the situation. It does significantly tie up traffic inside the city for a long period of time that day. I have heard, though, that they do contact people who live along the course directly by mail. The course map was published in the very newspaper this guy was writing to. And you can see some of the big banners that Mr. Cohen apparently did not here.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Baltimore Marathon report

Baltimore is a strange patchwork of a city. I took a fairly challenging tour of it on foot on Saturday.

I didn't get in my long-long runs before this race, and I train almost exclusively on the flat, so I was completely unsure how my body would react to the hilly course. I've been working on my biking and swimming more this year, so my running seemed to take a back seat. I was hoping that the cross-training would help carry me through. If not, this run would just serve as my last long run before the New York City Marathon three weeks from now.

They've changed the course every year they've offered this race, I think, so it's difficult to generalize, but I knew this would be one tough mother of a course for me. The course profile promised two climbs up to 200-250 feet (60 - 75m) right at the beginning, a few rollers in the midsection, then another climb back up to 250 feet and two or three more 50-foot climbs between miles 19 and 23.

I had done a relay here the first year of the race, in 2001, and had the pleasure of running the anchor leg and getting to cross the finish line at 5:40:05, just a shade under a 13-minute pace. I said at the time that I would probably never see a "5" as the first number at the finish line again in a marathon. My dream goal for this marathon was to beat that relay time. Alternatively, my baseline goal for every race is to cross the finish line upright and smiling.

I arrived in town the afternoon before the race to attend packet pickup, which is held in Ravens Stadium right next to a tangle of highways. Even though I'm reasonably familiar with the city, I ended up circling around several times before I found the correct route to the free stadium parking lots. The race shirts were good-quality technical long-sleeved ones produced by the major race sponsor Under Armour, but unfortunately they selected transparent white for the marathoners shirts, which I'm sure I will only wear as an under layer. I envied the attractive colored shirts the relayers and half marathoners and 5K participants received. We were also given annoyingly sharp velcro ankle bands for their proprietary timing chips.

My favorite part of the marathon weekend was checking into a luxury hotel on the waterfront (hooray for cheap rooms from Priceline) with a stunning view of the harbor, all by myself (a rare treat for this mother of two-year-old twins!) and being able to indulge in a lovely room service dinner and a peaceful early night's sleep. I was even able to get a nice early room service breakfast at 6:15 and have some delicious scrambled eggs and sausage with the hopes that would keep me well-fueled for the first few miles (it did!).

Race day was bright and sunny without a cloud in the sky. I walked the 1.2 miles to the start next to Orioles Park and Camden Yards in comfortable 60 degrees. I liked that better than the varied forecasts which included rain, but dreaded dealing with the higher temperatures and harsh sun the skies promised. I brought along a water bottle which I decided to carry along with me on course to keep on top of my hydration.

There were pace group leaders in the crowd of ~3000 marathon runners at the start with their signs up for projected finish times, on up to 4:00, 4:30, and 5:00 hours toward the back. (I wished there were pace groups up in my finish time territory, because I would have welcomed some company and support, but alas, none). Then alongside the crowd, on the sidewalk, the organizers had sent out a group of (apparently clueless) teenage girls with pace signs in miles per minute, who were calling out to the runners to attempt to get them lined up according to projected pace times. The 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 minutes per mile signholders were positioning themselves toward the back of the assembled runners - far, far behind the corresponding marathon finish times. I tried to point out to the signholders that this was the reason that people were politely ignoring them, but they couldn't seem to get it resolved correctly to coordinate the two different groups of pace signs by the time the race started (probably because they couldn't do the math quickly in their heads to get the signs synchronized). I don't think it created any problems for the runners, but it was a bit bizarre to watch the disconnect.

I met my friend *jeanne* who was doing the half marathon which started later, and who snapped a photo of me.

Then we started!

My plan was to stay steady, slow, and comfortable for the first half, walk the steep uphills and keep my heart rate under 165. That mostly worked. The first few miles were a steady incline and I jogged those in, enjoying the start of the day. The slopes seemed gradual and easy to run at this part of the race. But by the first mile marker I was soaked with sweat already! That did not presage good things for the 25 miles ahead.

The first 7 miles were a loop back to near our starting point. It was a study in contrasts - the mostly (90 - 95%?) white runners passing among the dwellers of a predominantly African-American city. Only a small proportion of the local residents seemed to pay much notice to the runners passing by and cheer them on. Most of the water table volunteers were white. I didn't notice any street signs along the route warning the local residents of the impending race-day street closures, and many of the stopped motorists seemed quite annoyed by it.

I've never seen a bigger police presence for any race, anywhere! They were great, and posted at every single teensy intersection!!! And apparently very well-instructed on keeping the cars away from the runners. I passed one runner down on the pavement (sitting up, he seemed okay, I offered him my water but he refused) but the police were right on top of it, radioing it in.

Back past the starting point we headed out on a flattish loop to the south, out around the circumference of Fort McHenry, site of the Star Spangled Banner that Francis Scott Key wrote about from a ship far out in the harbor while watching the bombardment of Baltimore. The huge (modern) flag over the fort waved in a breeze which helped our comfort quite a bit, but it was still feeling quite hot in the open sun. I kept up my fluids and took some gel and electrolytes every few miles.

We looped back to close to the starting point at the halfway 13.1-mile marker. Despite trying to keep my effort level comfortable so far, and only being 2 minutes behind my planned pace (2:50 at 13.1 miles), I was getting tired. The little devil on my shoulder was urging me to stop, call it a day, quit at the halfway mark. I tried to reason with the devil. The course continued past my hotel, I might as well stay on course until then, right? I can quit then. Stop bugging me. We continued around the harbor and by the time we reached the block of my hotel in mile 15, the voices had subsided and I had forgotten about quitting early.

It started getting difficult. From mile 16 through 19 going away from the harbor we had a rolling uphill that felt hugely more difficult than the first time around. My walk breaks increased in length and frequency. My time goals started slipping away from me. Okay, okay devil, shut up, I'm just going to finish this one. Let's see if I can make it in under 5:52, that would still be a PR.

Somewhere along here fellow runner Giddy introduced herself, and I could see she was having problems with the course too. She said she had blisters, and slowed for a while to talk to her husband. We leapfrogged for a few miles, but at least I felt like there was a sympathetic soul out there experiencing the same difficulties that I was.

We passed the highest point in the course out in an area of parklands and recreational fields, only to be met with two more uphills through mile 23. On one big open boulevard between miles 20 and 21 there was a long out-and-back, which felt discouraging because you could see the big hills and all the folks up ahead of you walking the uphills. The sun blazed down. My heart rates were creeping up into the red zone every time I tried to run. These were my slowest miles of the day.

Finally approaching the end of the out-and-back, the police diverted the runners and changed the race in progress! They directed us to cut the course about a block away from the previous turnaround. It probably gave me 2 to 3 minutes, but meant I wouldn't cover the true marathon distance, so I'll have to put an asterisk next to my results. Grrr! I was still on a sub-6:00 pace (although that was looking shaky), and they publicized the course would be open 7 hours.

The police at the intersections were kept busy watching the cars, and not the runners, and there were comparatively few volunteers on course directing the runners. I was tired. At around mile 23 I nearly missed one turn because the cones continued straight, and it was only after people on a porch started yelling at me to turn that I headed in the right direction!

Finally I came across Gummy Bear Man, who offered me a few warm chewy bodies from a big bowl. I exclaimed, "I've been waiting to see you all day!" to which he kindly replied, "Well, I've been waiting to see YOU all day!" In another few feet was someone shoveling up gummy corpses, and I said, "Oh, poor dead gummy bears", and the volunteer said cheerfully, "Oh, they had a good life, supporting the runners!"

Fortunately from mile 24 on it was a pretty steady downhill, and in the shade of the downtown skyscrapers I was able to pick up the pace again. It got weird in here. The streets were crowded with hundreds of people near some local markets, but very few seemed to notice the runners or cheer them on. I was working very hard here to pick up the pace to make a 6:00 finish, and I started to get annoyed at their indifference.

But then I remembered. This is why I came here. This is why I do marathons - not for applause or cheers, but to get to that point where I'm tested. When I'm at that point where I'm so tired that I don't want to go on, when I keep hearing that devil on my shoulder telling me to just walk it in. But I don't. I fight back. I refuse to give in. Aided by the downslope, I turned in my 2nd-fastest mile of the day.

Toward the end we were routed next to the fence at Camden yards, but I was working too hard to take much notice of the ballfield. Keep pushing hard to make that finish under 6 hours! Sprint for the line!

Finally I passed under the banner, over the timing mats, and stopped my watch. If I hadn't been so exhausted I would have burst out laughing. My watch read 5:59:59 - one second to the good, and exactly, precisely the same as my watch time at the Chicago Marathon a year ago! I guess I timed that finishing sprint well enough!

The finisher's area was pretty bleak. Nothing but WARM WARM cups of fluids sitting out (I believe there was both water and Gatorade at that time) and bags of chips and pretzels. No fruit, cookies, bagels, or anything else a little more appetizing. I was glad to spot Giddy again at the finish and congratulate her on completing the marathon.

I limped back toward the hotel where my car was parked. I trudged slowly and painfully past thousands of people out in the Inner Harbor area enjoying the fine weather. Out of all those people out strolling around the harbor, only one (a runner) offered me congratulations on the medal. These people didn't come here for the marathon, and didn't seem to take any notice it was going on.

That's all right. I knew that I had conquered that insistent devil once again, and wore my medal proudly home.

Update: Good news! I hope this is true - someone said that they actually corrected the course to the proper length, and everybody else ran LONG! :-) I'd have to drive back and look at the intersections to tell exactly, which I'm not likely to do.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Before the race

Photo courtesy *jeanne* the fast running photographer gal! That's Baltimore's famous Bromo Seltzer Tower coming out of the top of my head. :-) We're standing just before the marathon start in the shadow of Orioles Park at Camden Yards.

In three weeks....

I get to do this all over again! Minus two toenails, I think. Considering there were 36,562 finishers in 2004, I believe that getting the assigned bib number 44100 means that they expect that I'll be pretty close to the last of the finishers. "Corrals are numbered in increments of 1,000. They correspond to race numbers, which are assigned based on previous best times and/or predicted finishing times (fastest to slowest)." They're probably right!

Thank heavens the women's orange start is on the UPPER deck of the Verranzano Narrows bridge, a.k.a. the World's Longest Urinal on race day.

I'd like to feel excited about this. But right now I just feel tired and sore. Maybe I'll feel excited tomorrow.

I'm tired

Baltimore medalI'm too tired to write a race report! But I'll post my Baltimore Marathon medal pic. It didn't scan too clearly since the little running crab is raised in 3D. Running crab. Hmm. Kind of scary to think about, isn't it?

Thanks to everyone for looking in on me and stopping by to comment yesterday! I appreciate it!

And CONGRATULATIONS TO SHELLEY on her triumphant Kona Ironman finish yesterday! Probably you're more tired than I am!!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Back from Baltimore!

Thanks so much for the good wishes, everyone!!! I just got back from slogging through the streets of Baltimore!

It was a very hilly course, full sun and 74*F - so I was a bit slower than I had hoped. 5:59:59 watch time after I had crossed the finish line - exactly the same as the Chicago Marathon a year ago!

Except I have to put an asterisk by the time in my records - the police changed the course in progress and made us cut the course by about a block in an out-and-back between miles 20 and 21. It probably gave me 2 to 3 minutes - which I might have been able to make up in order to get in under 6:00, but I'll never really know! Grrr! And they said the course would be open 7 hours.

Long race report to follow, some time soon. But Marathon Number Seven is in the books, and I lived to tell the tale!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Totally unrelated

Call me a sicko, but these doctored photos of cats just crack me up.

Also totally unrelated: I'm thinking about buying a fake pre-lit Christmas tree, in the hopes it will last a dozen years or so and still look okay. I'm pretty damn sure that even if I buy this model, it won't look exactly like this once it gets to our house, though:

Yeah, I'm definitely going to have to order 18-foot ceilings in our next house. Or else jackhammer out the bottom of our attic.

Elisabeth competes

destruction1Elisabeth is still in the running for the title of Most Mischievous Two Year Old in our household. Catherine isn't ahead in this department.

Here is her erudite comment on baby wipes.

Can you see why we are not planning on replacing this raggedy old couch for a few more years?

Presumably this is the result of her scrutiny of our reading materials. I guess she doesn't care for National Geographic and Washingtonian and Wine Spectator. Nor any of our vast selection of catalogs. Not even the Disney catalogs survived her scathing review.

It's always interesting to walk into a room to find a huge swath of destruction left in their wake.

Shelley in Kona

shelleyIRONM4N Shelley is right in the middle of things, holding the Canadian flag! You go girl! We will be watching you tear up the course on Saturday!

Merciless sun

That's what I'm expecting now for Saturday's marathon! The forecasts have all gone south, so to speak, now that we're within the 48-hour range. The moribund stationary front that we've had all week is moving on, and leaving us with an Indian Summer day on Saturday, it seems. Just right for a scorching marathon!

Weatherbug says:
Mostly sunny. Highs in the upper 70s. Northwest winds 10 to 15 mph.

Intellicast says:
Mainly sunny. Highs in the mid 70s and lows in the upper 40s.

Wunderground says:
8AM: 57 degrees, 74% humidity, wind 5 mph, 10% chance of precipitation, 31% cloud cover.
11AM: 70 degrees, 42% humidity, wind 11 mph, 10% chance of precipitation, 35% cloud cover.
2PM: 77 degrees, 28% humidity, wind 15 mph, 10% chance of precipitation, 39% cloud cover.

Oh well, it is what it is! Anything but rain is fine!! I'll pack the sleeveless top and the sunblock!

Actually - and strangely enough - I just realized that this is perhaps my first marathon that I'm looking forward to rather than dreading! On to Marathon Number Seven!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I'm in Big Trouble

No, this is not about the Ironman thing.

Catherine, a.k.a. "Danger Girl", crawled out of her crib for the first time tonight.

Dad found her face-down, crying, on the floor next to the crib. She was okay, she had just scared herself while vaulting over the top rail.

Actually, I hope she was good and scared. I'm hoping that scared her sufficiently that she won't try that stunt again for several more months. But of course we couldn't be that lucky.

Our lives are going to be taking yet another drastic change.

Oh! And a very big congratulations to Bob and Lynda Mina on the birth of their daughter Kathryn Ruth. Great name. :-)

The next evening I heard Catherine screaming, and found her little body suspended like a bridge, stuck and frozen between the top rails of the two cribs. I guess she wasn't sufficiently frightened from her previous experience. Figures. I was SO right, we couldn't be that lucky.

It's a small world after all....

Remember how I guessed that there's probably fewer than 15,000 women or so worldwide who complete Ironman events each year? And how I admired and was inspired by women in my age group like Vicki Merry who completed Ironman Florida last year?

Coincidentally, I just saw her name on a post from the Disney Deads email list that I joined when I signed up for the Goofy Challenge at Walt Disney World in January. Needless to say, I wrote her right away and got back a very kind and positive reply! Isn't that cool? Thanks, Vicki! I'm looking forward to (hopefully) meeting you in January!

VMI hope to use her as a resource in seeing if I can really do this Ironman Florida thing in a year. I need all the resources I can get! And if she can get to that finish line despite all the challenges she encountered along the way, maybe, just maybe . . . so can I!!!

Here is Vicki Merry's finishing photo (in the Team in Training singlet), where she is in a much happier place on the course than the midpoint of the swim. :-)

Prepared for liftoff!

I just finished my last short (2 miles) easy run in preparation for the Baltimore Marathon on Saturday. I may do a short bout on the bike trainer and a swim, and maybe a walk to and from the expo, but that's it for exercise before the Big Event. I'm good at tapering!!

I'm still concerned about the effects of my lack of long-long endurance training runs, but in the last 90 days I've completed:

Run/walk: 232 miles (18 miles/week)
Bike: 341 miles (27 miles/week)
Swim: 21,122 meters (1643 meters or 1.0 miles/week)
Crunches: 3310 (257/week)
Weight change: -4.0 pounds

I think that should do the job to get me around the course - the only questions are how fast?, and how much will it hurt? One thing I feel quite good about now - checking back in my records - is that it's substantially more (93 miles running, 100+ miles biking) than I completed in the 90 days before Eagleman last June. I guess it shows me that I can train a little harder and much more consistently than I thought back then, which again makes me more confident about the possibility of Ironman Florida next year.

I also used my last short run for a very important pre-race-day final gear check. I wore exactly what I plan to wear in the race, so that I could fine-tune it and see if there were any problems. Never, never anything new on race day!!

Fairly new shoes: Feel pretty good (same Asics Gel Evolution model that I normally wear, only with fewer miles and more cushion left). Stretchy tri laces adjusted; realized that I needed to re-lace them through the uppermost holes to keep my foot securely in place on downhills.
Shirt good: technical Calgary Roadrunners short-sleeved shirt that Dianne gave me
Shorts good: My old standby RRS Matchmates.
Underwear good: Coolmax on top & bottom
New visor that I got on eBay: good.
Ironman socks: good.
Just wash my clothes, add my waistpack, gel flask filled with my home brew, bandana and a heart rate monitor (and lube up) and I'm good to go!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ironman Florida Swim

I was thinking about the Ironman Florida swim course today - mainly because that's the part that scares me the most about the prospect of starting an Ironman event. The official description reads as follows:

"The swim portion of Ironman Florida begins on the beach behind the Boardwalk Beach Resort, in the Gulf of Mexico. The course is a 2.4-mile two-loop swim. The first loop is rectangular in nature, with athletes actually exiting the water, and doing a turnaround on the beach. Upon re-entrance, athletes take a diagonal (see swim map) angle before reconnecting with the original portion of the swim course, continuing along the second loop until exiting the water at the completion of the swim. After exiting the water, athletes will run up the beach, running up the entrance steps to the Boardwalk, before continuing on to the transistion area."

That sounds okay. A dry land start sounds perfect for me. All except the part about 2.4 miles in a seething cauldron of humanity, in water that is "between 68-72 degrees at that time of year", stalked by sharks and jellyfish and other vile predators, hit by colossal waves, choking on saltwater ... but maybe I'm getting ahead of myself.

The 2.4 miles is the big part for me. That's 3862 meters. 78 laps in our 25-meter-long swimming pool. In 2 hours 20 minutes or less. Or 1:47 per lap or less. 78 times. (Gack, my normal freestyle laps average only 1:31 to 1:41 right now.)

I looked up some more photos to get a feel for it. The start looks rather scenic, on a nice white sand Florida beach. And I understand that it's fairly shallow most of the way.

I looked up some of the participant photos. Most of the people seem to be stripping their wetsuits pretty quickly upon emerging from the water, lots of them in sleeveless. They don't look cold. A few of them look delighted to be emerging from the water alive!

This athlete, #2361, caught my eye for some reason, maybe because that's a lot like what I look like in my wetsuit photos. I looked up her results. Her name is Vicki Merry, an athlete from Florida. She was in the 45-49 age group, just like me, and finished in 16:22! Yay Vicki!! Maybe that's a good omen for me, eh?

Plus if I finished, I would get to buy and wear this cool new swimsuit. :-)

Dueling forecasts

Now that we're inside the five-day forecast window, it's time for me to begin obsessing about the weather on marathon day. You see, I hate running races in rain - mainly because wet feet equals blisters. But if the rain holds off, if it doesn't heat up too much, and if we have cool overcast conditions, it may just be a perfect marathon weather day:

Intellicast says for Saturday:
Few showers. Highs in the low 70s and lows in the low 50s.

Wunderground says for Saturday (I like this one the best!):
8AM: 56 degrees, 82% humidity, 7 mph winds, 20% chance of precipitation, chance of rain.
2PM: 72 degrees, 39% humidity, 7 mph winds, 14% chance of precipitation, partly cloudy.

Weatherbug says:
I dunno. My Weatherbug isn't working right. :-( Maybe I'll re-install it.
Aha! That worked! Partly cloudy. Highs in the mid 70s.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Portland Marathon

The Portland Marathon is one I've always wanted to do. VJ wrote a wonderful account of cheering on the marathoners there:

"... the folks who are persevering in spite of people passing them, in spite of being out there alone, in spite of blisters and muscle pain and exhaustion—damn, those are my people. They should have a huge crowd. They should have people out, en masse, cheering them on. But they don't. They don't."

Ironman explorer

Shelley sent along the link to this amazing view of the Ironman Championship course on the Big Island. Wow! We'll be following along from home! I'll have to head straight back to my computer to watch her progress online after my marathon on Saturday - hopefully I'll get home before all of the athletes are out on the run themselves! (The time difference helps a lot).

Utility room progress

By popular demand, here are some updated photos on my progress on our utility room renovation. The installation of the new cabinets is not scheduled for another two weeks, so you'll have to contain your excitement until then for the final reveal.

I hope this proves I've been doing *something* productive while I've been slacking on my training!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Chicago marathoners

Keep an eye out this weekend for Jennifer Wilbanks on the course with you. She ran a 4:26 in 2002. This year she interrupted her training to take a bus to Albuquerque, but she's had lots of training since then trying to outrun people searching for her, and then the media.

Good luck, everyone running in Chicago!

Update: It looks like Jennifer was a DNS. No results for her in the finishers' database.

Adult onset athletes

There's a nice essay from another adult-onset athlete, Lisa Bergtraum, at MSNBC/Newsweek.

I find it easy to relate - but then again, difficult to relate. For example, here are some thoughts on the importance of positive self-descriptors when we take on a new identity as an athlete.

From Lisa's photo, she looks fairly gaunt to me, and since she doesn't mention weight loss in the article, I assume she's more or less naturally that way.

It's easier to run when you're bone thin. It just takes less energy to move your body around.

She says, "I’m 46 now. I’ve progressed from running 10-minute miles to finishing the "Fifth Avenue Mile," an annual race, in 6:34."

Huh. I'm 48, been at it for 6 years (minus 2 for a stress fracture and having babies, so 4 years total), and I've progressed from walking 20 minute miles to barely cracking a 10 minute mile. Then again, I've still got that excess 30-40(?) pounds of body fat that I'm carrying around with me for every step of the way.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's different for her.

Naturally, I don't expect that MSNBC and Newsweek would find an overweight mom running 11 or 12 minutes per mile particularly newsworthy. Even running marathons. Heck, there are over 423,000 marathon finishes every year in this country, by people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities. With a US population of about 296 million that's about 0.14% or 1 in 700 people. Every year.

Running is the new golf. Swing a dead cat and you hit a marathoner. Good thing I'm not in this for the fame and fortune, eh?

Hmm. Statistics for women who finish Ironman-distance races are a little more selective. If it's true that 50,000 people participate in IM-distance races worldwide, and about thirty percent of those are women, using a generous estimate, that means that only perhaps 15,000 women complete Ironman races each year, worldwide. I'll bet the actual number is substantially smaller than that. But with 6.4 billion people on earth, that means females becoming Ironmen each year are only about .0002% or 1 in 430,000 people. It's as if only one of those people finishing a US marathon each year was a woman who finished an Ironman triathlon. That's a much more select group to join, indeed!

One in half-a-million. That does have a nice ring, doesn't it?