Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Baby signing

Aaron asked about baby signing, and so I'll put a few links here in case anyone else stops by looking for information.

I don't know ASL (American Sign Language) YET, nor do I know anyone personally who speaks it. The signs that I know I've picked up from a few books and DVDs. We started learning them and using them with the girls long before we knew our daughter Elisabeth might have hearing and speech problems. Babies can make gestures and signs before they physically are able to pronounce understandable words, so teaching them to sign early lets you communicate with them before they are able to speak. The current thought is that it enhances their language ability and vocabulary (as we have definitely seen with Catherine), rather than detracting from it as some people fear. We started with teaching "more" (fingertips of two hands together) when we were spoon-feeding them very early on, and as soon as they could clap it became their sign for "more", and we just went from there.

The best resources we have used so far are:

Baby Signs, a book by Linda Acredolo, Susan Goodwyn, and Douglas Abrams. Gives a basic introduction and tips on how to start, as well as several pages of basic signs babies can learn first.

When I've had to look up a new sign, I've made a lot of use of the ASL browser by Michigan State University. A great resource.

The Signing Time DVDs. We have six of these so far, along with two of their music CDs, and some signing flash cards. Elisabeth ADORES these DVDs and asks for them by sign ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME. In the photo from this morning, that's one of them that Catherine is holding and another one playing on the TV. We played the music CDs on our vacation trip. They're happy, fun, educational, and I can't get the girls away from them.

Note: No, I don't drill my 2-year-old with signing flash cards! I put them in a little photo-album "book" for her own special little book, along with some photos of familiar things around the house, and she treasures it and carries it around. We use it for reading and naming and pointing practice. House or mouse?

November summary

Here's what I did this month toward my goals I set down on October 31st:

* Swim goal: 4000 meters. Did only 1500 meters, only in the pool once this month. 37.5% = F.

* Bike goal: 50 miles. Did 44.8 miles. 89.6% = B+.

* Run and walk goal: 40 miles (including 26.2 miles in the marathon). Did 53.4 miles. 133.5% = A+.

* Crunches goal: 1000. Did 670, without much consistency. 67% = D.

* Weight loss: 4.0 pounds. Did not lose any. 0% = F.

* Events goal 1, November 6: Complete the New York City Marathon upright and smiling. No specific time goal. Did it in 6:33, and I really was smiling toward the end, amazingly. 90% = A.

* Events goal 2, November 6: Hope that my husband gets me signed up for Ironman Florida in November 2006. He did it! I'm on my way! Can't take credit for this one.

* Events goal 3, November 11-20: Take a nine-day vacation trip with my two girls in a motorhome. We did it, and had great fun! 100% = A+.

* Events goal 4, November 21: Launch a 50-week training program for Ironman Florida. Yes! Got rolling a day early, in fact, and trained on 8 days since then. 95% = A+.

* Other events without advance goals: After my time off, I ran a 5K PR of 30:26, and a 10K PR of 1:04:31. Yay! I conclude the rest break helped my running more than it hurt! 100% = A+.

Overall score: 79%. C+! That's fine, I'll take it for a month that was mostly a break from heavy-duty training. On to December! I'll look at my training plans and tally up some objective goals from there.

No easy answers

Elisabeth went with my husband to the Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist today, and had another hearing test. But unfortunately, we still don't have any easy answers on why she's not talking yet (at 2.5 years). A delay in many areas is to be expected, since the girls were extremely premature (born at 28 weeks gestation) and Elisabeth had heart surgery at five months and was tube-fed until eight months, but she's just not making much progress towards actual speech.

She may have had some hearing damage due to an overdose of a drug after her heart surgery two years ago, but we can't get a definite result on that until we have a hearing test done on her under full sedation in the hospital. She clearly has some hearing, but we don't know how much or if she hears all frequencies. Her throat looked normal to the doc from an initial inspection. Her ear canals may be a little on the small side, and tend to accumulate a lot of wax, but were clear today. We don't know if she's able to use her velum properly to close off her nose from her throat. She also may not have proper muscle development in her mouth and tongue because of being tube-fed so long.

So - just as I had thought, we've got a long round of doctor's appointments and hospital visits before we have an exact diagnosis. Unfortunately, if there's a hearing loss, we probably also will have to file a lawsuit against the hospital which gave her the overdose. It's going to be a long road ahead.

I'm just glad we began signing with her in infancy, or she would have no way to communicate at all besides whining and crying. Maybe it's time I started learning real ASL?

Teamwork isn't always good

It's starting. One of the downsides that I always heard about with multiple births was their ability to work together to get into Big Trouble. This morning I found that Elisabeth (who has a peculiar obsession with DVD cases) had climbed up on the end table to throw down the DVD cases from where they were safely stacked on top of the TV. To Catherine, waiting below, who was the team member responsible for cracking them open.

Those pesky result predictors

I wish I hadn't looked. But I always do, when I get a PR. I checked the Race Result Predictors at using my most recent 5K and 10K times to calculate what I theoretically *should* be running at longer distances. If I had any endurance, that is.

My 5K time of 30:26 predicts these times for longer distances:
5M 0:50:14
10K 1:03:44
10M 1:45:13
Half Marathon 2:21:20
Marathon 4:56:01

Hmm, even for my 10K time, I'm nearly a minute slower.

My 10K time of 1:04:31 predicts these times for other distances:
5K 0:30:48
5M 0:50:51
10M 1:46:30
Half Marathon 2:23:03
Marathon 4:59:38

I'm a long way from going sub-5:00 in a marathon, and it certainly won't be in my next one in January, when I'll have done a half marathon and a 5K the previous day.

But perhaps this tells me that my half marathon PR of 2:38:38 is a "soft" one, that is due for an improvement. We'll see this Saturday when I run the Gar Williams Half in Alexandria, Virginia. The weather report looks promising (40*F and sunny), but the course is rather hilly. It's an informal club race, and I'll be at the back of a pack of fast runners - the last time they ran it the slowest finish time was 2:29! So perhaps I'll be able to push myself more than usual.

I know better than to count on such things, though - PRs are gifts from the race gods and only happen when you least expect it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

No worries

Yurtie, my online coach and advisor from Australia, says to keep at it and pretty soon I'll be feeling like Susie O'Neill in the pool. He may be delusional, but those delusions sound pretty good to me. Except I hope that doesn't mean he's planning for me to learn the butterfly. Good luck in the Canberra Half Ironman on December 11th, Yurtie! We'll be cheering for you!

We watched the DVD March of the Penguins tonight - compelling drama, and beautifully filmed! And if three-foot-high birds with that much body fat can swim so well, surely I should be able to, right?

My swimming sucks

I've got no one but myself to blame, dammit. 55 days without sticking even my big toe in the water and the old body can't remember how to get from one end of the pool to the other.

Flail, flail, flail, *splash*, choke, paddle, kick, cramp, flail.

So now we begin again. And keep at it until I start getting it right. In 340 days I plan to do a 2.4 mile ocean swim, remember? That would be 3862 meters, more than 2 1/2 times the total distance that I swam today. And I intend to live to tell the tale. Not to mention go on to do a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile jog the same day. Before midnight.

My baseline today for starting back in the pool:

  • 200m in 6:19
  • 200m in 6:20

The good news is that if I can do exactly that pace or better at Ironman Florida, I'll be out of the water in 2:02. Eighteen minutes ahead of the deadline. Whew!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Christmas tree

I was shocked to see that Sandra has her Christmas tree all up already. On November 28th. I'm behind and it's not even December yet.

I just ordered our "pre-lit" tree from It still won't look like the one in the photo, I'm pretty certain. Not unless we get a new fireplace surround and new flooring installed along with it. It probably will be enclosed by a baby corral, too. Maybe we'll just go au natural and forget the ornaments and garlands, seeing as we don't own any. Less stuff for the girls to rip down and break that way. At least we don't have any cats any more to sharpen their claws on it and climb it and knock the whole thing over.

Oh, and in the spirit of the holidays, don't forget to keep current with Santa's blog.

Good Night, Gorillas

Our two girls' very favorite book these days is Good Night, Gorilla. It's a charming picture story about the gorilla freeing the other animals from the cages and all of them ending up in the zookeeper's bedroom, and having to be put back to bed in their cages by Mrs. Zookeeper.

Usually when we read books like this we make ASL signs for the animals, but this has several animals that we haven't found the signs for, like armadillo and hyena and so forth.

But today I realized that Catherine already had her own sign for gorilla. She was making the sign for GIRL for the gorilla.

Sick or slack?

Today is an unscheduled rest day.

I wasn't quite sure if I was getting sick or not. I was headachy, my neck was achy, I was out of sorts.... but then I remembered that riding in my aerobars does that too. (26.5 miles yesterday felt brutal - wow, did I get out of cycling shape FAST!) I took a nap and some Vitamin I and now I feel somewhat better.

Kind of a shame, because it was a really nice day! 65*F right now!

Winter cycling clothing notes: My new clothes all worked great yesterday. I like the Hind shirt so well I'm thinking of getting a second one - it's just the right weight for a versatile warm layer for winter running and cycling, super comfortable, fitted with flat seams, wicks well. The Descente booties worked like a charm, didn't bother me at all while cycling, and my tootsies were very toasty. I still need closed-finger gloves (ouch! I didn't quite realize that your fingers are the first thing the wind hits in aerobars) as well my balaclava (heh, I call it a baklava) or even some kind of full face mask when it gets much colder than 40-45*F. That wind hurts!

I'll leave off today with a Bonus Link:
Lance and Ironman. Fun stuff!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Quote of the day

One I saw in a local throwaway circular that I picked up at the Y, and reminds me of my blessings I can count at this Thanksgiving time:

"Health is wealth."

Holiday Fun!!!

Ooh! Ooh! Oooh! Look what a fun thing *jeanne* found for us to do - a night-time mid-week caroling run through downtown Washington, DC! The 4th Annual Christmas Light Run on December 14th! Their route goes from Union Station down past the White House and the National Christmas tree display and back around the Smithsonian museums in a 5-mile loop. Three pace groups mean that we should be able to find a bunch that goes slow enough that we can actually sing carols and run at the same time! It's free -- come one, come all!

Run for Hospice 10K

Wow! Another one! 2nd PR in 2 days at the Run for Hospice 10K at the Talbot County YMCA, Easton, Maryland.

Short report: Watch time 1:04:31, 10:24 min/mile pace for my fastest 10K since, oh, the 1980s. 3:23 faster than my most recent 10K PR from 2001.

Long report: JEEZ! Was I ever sore from the freeweights workout on Wednesday and my 5K yesterday!!! But I guess the lesson from today is that doesn't really affect my running speed too much unless I let it affect me mentally. Remember that flat course on a cold day that I was wishing for yesterday? Well, I got it today!

We gathered at the Easton, Maryland YMCA and stayed inside until just before the start because it was COLD out there! About 28*F but windy, and I'm not acclimated to it yet. I did a few laps around the parking lot just so I wouldn't be freezing!

About 60? runners started for the 10K. One small loop through a residential area and I was soon in last place. We passed the YMCA again just as the 5K runners started and joined our route and they quickly blew past me. I switched places a few times with a girl running in the back of the pack trailing a long scarf behind her. We headed out on the road leading toward Oxford, through one stoplight and then out of town on the highway shoulder. Somewhere around the place that the Mile 1 marker should have been I passed Long Scarf Girl for good.

Mile 2: 20:42. Hey! That's PR territory for me! This isn't feeling TOO bad, maybe I can keep it up. Check the HRM - running about 170, this might be do-able! Through one water stop, walk a couple steps and down a Dixie cup of water.

Mile 3: 10:40 split. Crossing the road and heading out into a big loop in a very nice wooded residential area. Hmm, I haven't been here before, these houses are REALLY nice! Huge lots, a few on the waterfront with long driveways and formal gates. I keep trotting along, sightseeing.

Mile 4: 10:28 split. This still feels manageable, but I'm not sure I can keep it up. Heart rate is creeping up to the 175s. Pass one guy, get passed by a skinny woman I hadn't seen before. I zip off the sleeves easily from my new jacket while I'm still running - I LOVE this jacket for running in!

Mile 5: 9:47 split. I'm not sure the mile marker was placed correctly - the next mile felt awfully long! I pass a larger guy who is clearly getting fatigued and starting to walk. I'm feeling surprisingly okay considering the 5K I raced yesterday! Nothing really hurts, but my legs are getting heavier, heavier.... Back across the stoplight crossing with the nice policeman stopping traffic.

Mile 6: 11:11 split. Getting tired - try to keep it up past the Y and around the corner to the finish line!

Final 0.2 miles: Pick up the pace in the final stretch - 1:41 for a 1:04:31 finish and new PR!

I stopped and cheered for the few runners coming after me to finish. Post-race gathering inside the gym was nice and low-key with some good refreshments - sweet rolls and blueberry muffins, yum!!

This was a very nice little race on a pretty course and I enjoyed it! I was also glad to get a chance to take a look around this YMCA because I'll probably join it next year in order to train in their pool on weekends.

Using the Race Result Predictor at, that time and the one from my 5K yesterday both predict that I should be going sub-5:00 for the marathon - and I'm a LONG way from that. I guess that just shows my long-distance endurance still has a long way to go!! But it's still nice to see that improvement at shorter distances.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

S.O.M.E. 5K

Short report: 30:26 finish time (9:49 min/mile pace) for a 5K PR by over a minute.

Long report: Got up early and headed over to snag some parking for the So Others Might Eat 5K in West Potomac Park in Washington, DC, about 5 miles from our place. It was a simple out-and-back on Ohio Drive running along the Potomac River, with one small hill in the first and last kilometer over the channel into the Tidal Basin.

I checked in, picked up my sort of ugly turkey shirt, and dropped it back in the minivan. We got numbers, which were just numbers, no tear-off strip at the bottom like most bib numbers. I noted with approval that the distance was marked in km, which does make it a little easier to pace than every mile. The weather was cool, but not cold, about 40*F, some drizzle, and there was little wind.

We all gathered at the start line just before 8:30. There was a clock at the line, but there didn't seem to be any preparations for finishing corrals. Hmm, it had said on the website that results would be posted....

The organizers said a few words about their principal mission, feeding the homeless of the Washington, DC area. Then the horn sounded and we were off. I settled into a brisk but reasonably comfortable pace. I knew I had a chance for a PR on such a flat course, and that I needed to run at 6:20 per km or better to stay on a PR pace.

Kilometer 1: 6:10, even including the first little hill. Check the heart rate meter - less than 170. Maybe I'm being too conservative? Kick it up just a notch.

Kilometer 2: 5:51. Run the straight lines through the curves, even though everyone else is following the road. This is starting to feel hard. My breathing is 2:2, fairly high effort level. Uh, yeah, heart rate meter is in the high 170s now.

Kilometer 3: 6:26: The roadway is crowded since we're now in one lane, with the returning runners coming back in the other direction. Gack, they let a truck in the opposite lane, and those fast runners look very annoyed. The water stop was right at the turnaround, with a lot of congestion around it. It was hard to get all the way to the turn point marked on the pavement without running into runners cutting the corner a bit short.

Kilometer 4: 5:58. Keep up the intensity on the way back. Concentrate on breathing. Damn, that heart rate meter is way too high! 183. Back off just until you're a little more comfortable, but keep it up.

Kilometer 5: Getting tired in the home stretch - keep up the tempo back up and down that hill again! Cross the finish line with 6:01 for the last km, 30:26 total time for a personal record a minute better than my fastest 5K of this decade, from 11 months ago. No one seems to be recording times at the finish line. I guess this is just a "fun run". Oh well.

My average heart rate for the run was 175, which is as high as I've seen it for any race. Strong overall effort! Using a more consistent pace on a flat course on a cold day I could probably break that magical 30-minute barrier, but not today! Still, it was my first race that averaged under 10 minutes per mile (9:49 min/mile). Yay!

They had leftover Halloween cookies (stale) and candy after the finish line. Pretty lame. I won't be coming to this race again! But I always like the flat courses in this park - lots of races are run here every year. I'll just go to the ones that are organized by runners and not by fundraising charities! Even if they have a good charity cause, they can still put on a better-quality race.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

About those medals

I love getting medals. (Call me shallow or childish, I don't care). They are motivating to me. Maybe I finish at the back of the pack, but I still do the same course and get the same medal that the fourth place finisher gets! I write my race time on the ribbon and hang them up on the tie rack in the upstairs hallway. Most of these are for half marathons, starting in 2000, but there are eight marathons and a few triathlons in there, too, and my three President's Fitness Challenge medals. Every one reminds me of a demanding day - some of them fun, some of them not so fun, but every one where I pushed myself.

But I think it's time to find a slightly less cluttered method of displaying them, but that doesn't take too much time and effort. Ideas? If you've accumulated a bunch of medals, what do you do with them? (Don't tell me you throw them out, that horrifies me. Or worse, that you sell them on eBay). Should I sort them out by distance/type?

Pumping iron

I got up early and headed to the club today, with great intentions, but all I found was an empty concrete shell. No swimming this week! My club is always emailing me spammy advertisements - you'd think they might be able to provide me with some useful information in those emails occasionally, LIKE THE FREAKING POOL IS EMPTY, but no....

So I hit the freeweights, using fairly light weights for everything, for a whole-body workout:

20 min. Lifecycle (10 min. warmup, 10 min. warmdown)
150 crunches & leg lifts
3*12 deadlifts
2*12 squats
3*12 bench press
2*12 leg extensions
2*12 leg curls
2*12 lat pulldowns
2*12 flys

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Got my Goofy packet!

Yay! I'm all set! In six and a half weeks I'll be doing a half marathon (runner #22590), a 5K, and a marathon (runner #9149) -- all in one weekend. I never said this was an intelligent decision, but that's the plan. Just to earn this medal (which I think is supposed to represent Goofy's hat, which he apparently does not wear while running):

Vacation pictures

On my way

This week is for easing the old body back into the swing of daily training. No super-long distances or durations, just doing a little bit every day. I think I'm going to run a local 5K on Thanksgiving Day and a 10K the day after, but I probably will just jog/walk them for the mileage and not try to run for a time.

I got out and ran in the cold rain today! 41*F and drizzly. I VERY rarely do that. But did I happen to mention that I'm training for an Ironman? Otherwise I almost certainly would have slept in and put it off for a nicer, drier day.

The new gear worked wonderfully well! The headband was perfect, didn't know it was there except my ears were warm. (Although I did want a brim with the rain in my face. I will usually wear it over a visor). The technical shirt was a little on the toasty side for 41*F, but it should carry me into the coldest days of winter with perhaps one more layer. The jacket was great! I took the sleeves off halfway through and just ran with the vest because I was getting too warm - and it was quite easy and quick to get them off, they just stuffed right into the zipper pocket on the back and I was on my way again. I'm very happy with my purchases! Proper gear is sometimes half the battle!

It didn't take long

It didn't take very long for Catherine to invent some alternative uses for the new rocking horse, which are probably not those for which it was designed.

Monday, November 21, 2005

In Memoriam: Anna Alexandra Toby, 5/09/03 - 11/21/03

Today we're thinking with great sadness and fond remembrance of our brave and strong-willed daughter who was in our lives all too briefly. I never even heard her cry. Rest in peace, Anna. I'll tell your two sisters about you. We love you and we will always remember you.

Anna's story is told briefly here.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ready for winter cycling!

Whee! I just spent a small fortune at REI, just to make sure that I have NO EXCUSES this winter when the roads are clear of snow not to be out there cycling! I've got a very warm pair of cycling gloves already. Here's the lineup of the rest of my new gear:

Thermax headliner (can be worn as a balaclava, hat, or neck warmer - thin enough to wear under a bike helmet)Novara thermal tech headbandDescente cycling booties
Hind radiant sport top
Novara conversion jacket - great design, long-sleeved windbreaker converts easily to a mesh-backed vest. Highly visible to motorists, and it even goes with my bike! I think all I need are some warm windproof cycling pants! I'll probably use this gear a lot for running, too - well, except for those booties.

What have you done to ensure that you have NO EXCUSES on account of weather this winter? Remember, they say there's no bad weather, just unsuitable clothes!

Back on track!

I'm home and back on track! The running track, that is, for my standard three timed-mile workout. It's not the official start of my IMFL training, which is tomorrow, but it's getting me geared up. This gives me my benchmark times for one mile workout running times (min:sec), which I can use over the winter as pretty good indicators of progress in improving my fitness. These aren't full-out running my absolute fastest mile, but just about as fast as I can go right now and still repeat the distance a few times (perhaps close to my 5K pace? haven't run one in a while):
  • 10:42
  • 10:42
  • 10:21
Hey! Those are 1:15+ faster than I did October 22, a week after the Baltimore Marathon! I guess that two weeks complete rest since the NY City Marathon did me some good!

My marathon benchmark times (hr:min) right now, from Baltimore and New York, are:
  • 5:59
  • 6:33
Since those are on fairly challenging courses, I'm hoping that those times will represent close to what I'll be able to do on the flat IMFL course after swimming and biking (and the improvement in fitness that fifty weeks of training should give me). I'd like to think I can do the marathon at Disneyworld in January at something close to 6:30 (on a crowded but flat course), but I have NO idea right now how I'll feel after 16.2 miles the previous day. Well, I do have an idea, I'll probably definitely feel like crap. Maybe I mean I have no idea how well I'll be able to actually run that day when I'm sore and while feeling like crap. As long as I can make it in under the seven hour marathon cutoff and earn my Mickey and Goofy medals, I'll be happy.

I'll work on accumulating some cycling and swimming benchmarks in the next couple weeks, to plot the starting point of my journey of the next year as I make my way to Ironman Florida.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Uh oh

Two weeks of ZIP ZERO NADA training.

And I've got that Goofy Challenge at Disneyworld - a half marathon on Saturday, plus a 5K, then a marathon on Sunday - coming up in only SEVEN weeks. That would be 42.4 miles for the weekend total, yessirree Bob.

I should never have looked at the calendar.

I am SO dead.

I guess that leaves me, what, 4 or 5 weeks of massive amounts of pounding the pavement ahead of me, followed by 2 to 3 weeks of taper madness?

Just for that dumbass Goofy medal. Shoot me now.

There are only two words which explain this type of crazed behavior: Medal ho.

Tell effin' Goofy to stop dangling that crack in front of me. MAKE HIM STOP

Last night on the road

Today was longer than I expected! We were on the road from 10AM until 4PM. Understandably, the girls are tired and a bit cranky from hours of sitting in their car seats, even though I try to stop to let them stretch their little legs every 60-90 minutes along the way.

We're in "Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort" in Williamsport, Maryland, which is much nicer and less tacky than it sounds (although I admit I had my doubts when I pulled in, past that huge fiberglass Yogi Bear). Thanks for the referral, Ellie! After registering, I even had a helpful little man in a golf cart escort me to the site and direct me backing in the motorhome properly. Nice service! I hope to have a chance to stroll around tomorrow and see the place - but if we wake up late it's going to be too busy of a day to take the time. We have to clean out and empty out the motorhome and return it tomorrow, along with that 2 hours of driving left to get back. That's definitely one of the downsides of renting an RV, but it also means we don't have to worry about routine maintenance, payments, parking it somewhere when not in use, etc.

I haven't done a lick of exercise since I don't know when. Ah, yes, according to my sidebar, on Sunday it will be two weeks since the NY City Marathon and I've done about 1 hour total of any kind of exercise since then. I've definitely been serious about taking a break, which means (theoretically) that I should be able to start strong again once I launch the Fifty Weeks to Becoming an Ironman Training Program! (Jeez, I need a better acronym than FWTBAITP).

Tergat talks

Check out the fun satirical interview with Paul Tergat, winner of the 2005 New York City Marathon, at the Onion website. Thanks to stv for the link.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ohio Turnpike

We said goodbye at Grandma's this morning, after a really nice visit with her, finishing up with breakfast this morning. I think the girls enjoyed it. They got to see a couple fresh inches of snow on the ground, which they probably don't remember from last winter, so it was a new adventure!

Halfway through the day when we arrived at a rest stop Catherine asked about Grandma - as if she thought we'd see her again at the stop, not quite grasping these difficult concepts like time and distance quite yet.

Now we're out of the snow, fortunately. We're parked for the night somewhere around mile marker 193 on the Ohio Turnpike between Akron and Youngstown. I'm camped at the RV parking area in the turnpike rest stop, plugged in, with plenty of heat (good thing - it's 23*F now, going down to 17*F), propane, and wifi service! Yay! All the comforts of home, though with slightly more highway noise! I have to hand it to the Ohio Turnpike Commission - they've done a great job with their rest stops!

We just went in to the food court and had our Happy Meals and now we're so happy with our toddler toys we can hardly stand it. :-) I've also bribed the girls with a huge bag of their toys and stuffed animals and books on the floor next to me that I'm hoping they will give me a couple minutes on the computer to catch up on my email. If they will just play nicely for a few minutes.... life is good!!

I've got about 350 miles to go on the road over two days, so it should be a fairly easy trip - probably 200-250 tomorrow into western Maryland (or maybe I should check the weather reports before I decide?), then the remainder on Saturday along with the chore of emptying, cleaning, and returning the rental Winnebago in Annapolis. That's the worst part of the whole trip! But it's always good to get back home again.

I heard a good saying on the radio today (yeah, I was listening to conservative talk show radio on the road, go figure) that is appropriate to that 50-week training program that I'll be launching next week:

"You don't have to be great to start. But you have to start to be great."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Adventures in RV land

Brr!! It's 27 degrees here in Michigan now! And starting to flurry! Which means, of course, that my two girls and I are VERY dependent upon the heating system in our rental RV.

And I'm an RV newbie. There's a lot I don't know about the systems on board this thing, but I'm learning quickly, by trial and error. I could use a hotline to Ellie for technical advice, probably.

Item: I didn't realize the propane furnace pulled so much electrical power!!

The RV really has to be plugged into some sort of power supply in this kind of cold or you have to keep the generator running constantly. (Which I just learned by making a phone call back to the service guy in Maryland.) The generator is fairly noisy, and of course burns gas at a pretty good rate. So instead of doing that for the last two nights in my ignorance I've been waking up every hour or two to start the generator for five minutes, then turning it off and going back to sleep. Which I'm sure has not made me popular with Grandma's neighbors!

But now we've got a heavy-duty electrical cord rigged up to a plug inside of Grandma's garage, and I think that should take care of us. MUCH better!! Live and learn!

Today's other adventure with the girls was taking them to the pizza buffet at Pizza Hut for their first time. Catherine ate two pickle slices with all the gusto that we normally apply to ice cream, plus drank a ton of water. Elisabeth liked the sausage pieces from the pizza, and the garlic bread, but not the actual pizza so much. There's no predicting what they'll like!!!

We also went to the grocery store and they had those carts with a pretend car on the front with two little seats, each with driver's wheels. They were in two-year-old Hog Heaven. Especially when they got to lean out while we were in motion and pull grocery items off the lowest shelf onto the floor in Baby Drive-Bys.


Wylie asked what a wifi signal was. Wifi rules!! It's a wireless internet connection which is like a radio signal that projects over short distances (a few hundred yards). You can access it with a special card on a laptop, or similarly set up accessories to broadcast and receive a signal on your home computers. That way at home you can use wifi to connect up more than one computer to one incoming signal (like from a hardwired cable connection).

On the road you can sometimes access wifi signals at places that broadcast them (usually as a sort of marketing gimmic or add-on service) like coffeeshops, truckstops, hotels, campgrounds, marinas, etc. and pick up a free Internet connection (or pay a nominal fee in some places). Right now I'm picking up a signal from some nearby neighbor's house.

The problem is that the signals don't transmit very far, so they only work within a few hundred feet of whatever is broadcasting them, and can be kind of flaky. But when you're traveling, wifi is the best way to go!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Only in.....

Many of you may know towns similar to the one Grandma lives in. It probably hasn't changed much since she first came here as a girl, many decades ago. Midwestern, semi-rural, backwards, and a bit red-necky. Some folks here call it Dogpatch - affectionately or not.

Just to illustrate - I was in the grocery store today waiting behind an old codger checking out. The checkout girl -- yes, girl, probably all of 18 -- concluded the transaction and asked the old guy if he wanted his receipt.

His reply? "It's not big enough to wipe on, so you might as well keep it."

Back from camping

I've got a flaky wifi signal this morning, so I'll be brief!

We just returned from taking Grandma camping for the night down in Indiana. Hopefully (despite the wild twins the whole time) it was a nice break for her to get out of the house for a while!

It was an unexpectedly lovely place: Potato Creek State Park in northwest Indiana, just outside South Bend, on six square miles. It has extensive attractive camping areas. They had closed down the larger area for the weekdays, so we stayed in the horse campground, next to a playground. It would have been a great place if we had a few horses - huge sites with hitching rails between each one! They also had very modern-looking 2-bedroom cabins for rent - I might check those out on a return visit! Also swimming and biking trails - looks like an excellent place for a workout, too!

We had rain overnight, plus some problems with the camper battery running low, so we got an early start back in the morning through drizzle and fog. It looks like we'll have storms and high winds again tonight (they said 10 to 15 foot waves in Lake Michigan!) so I won't think about hitting the road until this weather system has all passed.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

We have wifi!

Who would have thought that a nice neighbor in this little town would have provided us with wifi service? But there it is! Sure beats checking in from Grandma's Jurassic dialup!

The cats are fleeing in terror, the bric-a-brac is endangered, the photos on display on the tables have been upended - will Grandma's house ever recover from the Terrible Twins? Stay tuned!

We went to the park today - a good dangerous old-fashioned down home one with teeter-totters and jungle gyms and everything. An endangered species. Of course the girls liked jumping in the piles of leaves best of all!!

The winds have been gusting up to 45 mph! Good thing I was able to get here early - it is NOT fun trying to control a 24-foot Winnebago in these conditions!

Day 2-3

First of all, sorry I don't have time to answer emails right now....

Yesterday was a beautiful, windless late autumn day. In the morning the leaves lay still on the glassy creek and the jet trails hung in the air. We drove through the Alleghenies in southwestern Pennsylvania. The hills were violet in the distance and as we approached resolved into clumps of mustard, burnt sienna, and Indian red. The valley meadows were still verdant and every so often we would see groups of Holsteins lounging near a huge Pennsylvania Dutch barn.

As we continued northwest into Ohio the land leveled out into rolling plains, getting ever flatter as we headed northwest, and the trees were more bare. This was the true Midwest, very familiar to me from growing up and years of college in Illinois. Not much has changed in the vistas since I left in 1985, except cell phone towers are now parts of the landscape. Oh, and we passed a herd of BISON! Nice to see that they've returned this far east, with some help!

We covered a lot of ground: 435 miles in all in one day! In the morning I stopped every 60-90 minutes to give the girls a few minutes out of their carseats and offer them something to eat. Later in the afternoon they both fell asleep, so instead of hunting up a campground I continued driving past dark.

I made a few discoveries! Many roadside rest stops have wifi connections, but in Ohio I had to pay $8 for access for 24 hours. So I paid it to quickly download my email before I headed off. Ohio seems to have tons of money for their Ohio Turnpike (I-80) rest stops, since they were mostly huge and freshly remodeled. They thoughtfully included paved segregated RV parking areas with electric hookups for $15/24 hours, so I thought I had it made! I continued west. BUT unfortunately the last two rest stops on the turnpike have not been remodeled yet. On the very last one I found an RV parking lot without hookups, empty, and I parked there for the night. It was supposed to cost $5, but I didn't want to walk inside by myself and leave the babies in the middle of the night just to pay $5, so I stayed out there and waited for someone to come ask me for it, and no one did. No one else parked in the RV area and we were back on the road by 7AM when it was just getting light. Not long after starting we were across the border into Indiana, along a seemingly endless row of motorhome and travel trailer manufacturers.

Today the girls will go into their 10th state: MI. They've already been in VA, MD, NJ, NY, MA, NH, PA, OH, IN and DC. Forty more to go!

No telling how long this battery charge will hold out, so I'll conclude quickly: we're safely at Grandma's now, and a nice neighbor is providing a wifi signal for us! Yay! More later!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

On the road: Day 2

Up early (whoever put that 6:45 alarm on my cell phone is a moron). Elisabeth spent the night head-banging (a frequent pastime for her). Catherine woke up every so often to talk to herself in the night about "our car". Now she won't wake up, and shakes her head violently when I ask her if she wants milk, and goes back to sleep.

Ellie, we're in the Antietam/Hagerstown KOA - which is actually in Williamsport, Maryland. It's a pleasant little place on a nice little stream with canoe rentals. I may come here again on the return trip. They say Williamsport was once considered for the capital of the USA (mainly because it was founded by a buddy of George Washington's), but I think that it probably received very brief consideration! The Marine Corps Marathon would have been a lot hillier if it had been chosen.

Time to hit the road - will end up in Ohio tonight, most likely. More whenever I can get a signal!

Friday, November 11, 2005

On the road: Night One

The girls and I are at a campground somewhere outside Hagerstown, Maryland, not far from the Antietam Battlefield. Hooray, a wifi connection! We made perhaps 150 miles progress today. Catherine has just calmed down from a screaming fit that I thought would surely attract Child Protective Services. Elisabeth is doing her best to climb out of her crib and get the knives out of the drawer, probably with the intent of murdering her sister.

I tried to get my digital camera to upload some photos from the lovely autumn day here, but as it happens I have the wrong freaking cord for it. Never mind.

You'll have to be happy with some New York City Marathon photos instead. I can't believe I looked that HAPPY! This is Mile 1 and Mile 26.

Starting out: From Virginia to Michigan and back

I'm doing last-minute preparations and packing our ENORMOUS amount of stuff for 8 days in a rental motorhome, me and my girls. My posting will be sporadic for the next week, based on whenever I can get a wifi signal or dialup access.

Until then, be sure to check into the Carnival of the Triathletes that Mica put together. Well done, girl! Thank you for taking it on!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Good old Christian values

I can't help myself. I try to steer clear from most religious and political button-pushing topics on my blog, just because I don't want to call down the Religious Right Spammers in my comments, but I can't sit on my hands on this one. It's just a quote from good old Pat Robertson -- his response to the voters exercising their right to replace each and every one of the eight members on the board that had voted in favor of a policy that required teachers of ninth-grade biology classes to read a statement on so-called intelligent design before starting lessons on evolution.

Robertson said, in response:

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected him from your city. And don't wonder why he hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for his help because he might not be there."

I'm just glad I wasn't drinking a soda when I read that, or it would have been sprayed all over my keyboard.

Tinfoil hats NOT for training

Omigod. My world is shattered. Remember way back last March when we had that little anthrax incident and I had to wear a tinfoil hat for training because the goverment was trying to implant thoughts in my head?

As it turns out, MIT researchers have found out that the tinfoil only amplifies the signals, and probably their use was promoted by a government conspiracy.

"Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We theorize that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason."

Then again, would you believe research published by somebody named Ali Rahimi?

Pre-road trip notes

Arrrgh!! They got me!! McDonald's has a trip planner where you can map out your route and find all the wifi hotspots along the way, along with their restaurant attached to it, of course. I guess the girls will be getting a few servings of their favorite vegetable (don't tell Grandma!) that they rarely get to eat.

And I also may be checking into the Walmart Store Locator along the way, just for emergency backup for overnight parking. From their site: "Wal-Mart permits recreational-vehicle (RV) parking on our store lots, as we are able. The ability to accommodate RVs is determined on a store-by-store basis, contingent upon available space, local regulations and ordinances."

I feel like a real, true American now. God bless the U.S.A.

Now if only I can find a 7-11 each morning for one of those great big coffees full of lots of amaretto creamers loaded with tasty hydrogenated fats, I'll be all set!

Another secret PSA

I'll let you in on another secret for "going long" successfully, that many people don't talk about, but that can be incredibly important for a good race - or at least, avoiding a very bad race. Imodium. It's a Godsend, and one of my essentials for marathons. Yep, every marathon, and any half marathon or triathlon where I'm going for time.

You see, many of us have a funny reaction to working hard in the heat for long periods of time. For whatever reason, fluids start to accumulate in our lower gastrointestinal tract. The results after 2 to 3 hours of this activity are uncomfortable, crampy, distressing, potentially dehydrating, and wreak havoc with your finishing time. (If you have never experienced this issue while running for a long time in the heat, well, just skip this whole post and forget that I said anything. Some people don't get this. You'll know it when it happens.)

Remember that hydration, sodium replenishment, refueling, and managing our digestive tract issues may be even more important for us slower athletes who are out there on the course a long time. Many of the really fast people are off the course and eating post-race goodies long before they experience the problems that many of us slower folks experience. Those fast folks are often the ones that turn into coaches, too, so they often don't know anything about managing the problems of people who are out on the course for hours and hours and hours, and often don't advise them well on these aspects of successful completion of the event.

The Imodium label warning says: "2 caplets (with 4-8oz of water) after the first loose stool; 1 caplet (with 4-8oz of water) after each subsequent loose stool; but no more than 4 caplets in 24 hours".

Well, I'm not going to tell anyone not to follow the label directions to the letter. But I'll tell you what I do. I know I'm doing to have very very loose stool without them, so I just take them pre-emptively. I do this, for events lasting 2-3 hours or more: Two caplets as soon as I wake up, first thing in the morning (which is sometime between 4AM and 6AM for big races). Two more caplets as close to the start as I can take them (usually some time between 7AM and 8AM).

That totally solves the problem for me. Less dosage than that doesn't do the trick, and earlier/later doesn't seem to work well either. I haven't experienced any adverse reactions from this regimen, except possibly some abdominal cramping when I stopped running. And no, it doesn't turn everything to concrete. Just so you know. :-) It also means I don't have to be quite as particular and superstitious about what I eat the day before the big event, because I don't have the digestive problems that I once attributed to bad pre-race foods.

I'd tell you from whom I learned this regimen, but I'll just let her chime in herself.

Vacation starting Friday

No, I'm not taking a lackadaisical so-called "off-season", otherwise known as "Slack Time". But I am taking a full two weeks OFF from running to let my joints and ligaments fully recover and heal from this 2.5 marathons in 3 weeks nonsense. Yay! I'm not sore at all today! Recovery is sure faster when you walk a large part of the course. Yes, this vacation is in accordance with coacherly advice from Yurtie.

Tomorrow the girls and I pick up the 24-foot rental motorhome, I load all our tons of stuff aboard (I can't believe how much stuff two tiny little girls and one big girl require), and we hit the road for Grandma's. Whee! Maybe if I have a chance I'll drive over and visit the Steelhead course, not far from Grandma's, and see if that's a possibility for next year.

I'll take the laptop with the wifi connection and check in here as often as I can. I can't stand to be disconnected from the Internet! In addition, I'll still be watching my food intake and doing some core exercises and walking as much as I can arrange. I'm an ATHLETE, it's what I do! (Isn't THAT a change in perspective from the old days!?)

My Fifty Weeks of Training for Ironman Florida begins on Monday, November 21st. I've already got my spreadsheet prepared and my workouts for that week planned. I'll hit the ground running, swimming, and cycling on that date, and I won't stop until I have that medal around my neck some time before midnight on Saturday, November 4, 2006. Ooh, one exciting development I have to share: I just found a Stroke Development Class early on Saturday mornings at a local YMCA that will be reasonably convenient for me to attend regularly! Cool, eh?

Until I return from the vacation and launch my Ironman training, I'll be posting updates on the blog, but (just as a warning) they're unlikely to have much of anything to do with fitness or triathlon!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Calibrating sodium

Getting your nutrition and electrolytes right is one of the hardest challenges in endurance events, and one of the most important for successful completion on the course.

Mentally fuzzy? Nauseous? Fingers swelling? Feel especially cold after the race? Lack of sodium is probably your culprit. Most people take in way, way, way too little sodium on marathon courses. They rely inappropriately and mistakenly on negligible sources of sodium like Gatorade and pretzels and sports gels. It's even more critical to get your sodium replenishment correct when you've already done a 2.4-mile swim and a 112-mile bike earlier in the day.

That's also why experience helps so very much in these long-distance events. You only truly know after you've completed numerous events what your own particular body needs in different weather and exertion conditions, and how much sodium and fluids and how many calories to replenish along the way.

For me, doing the two consecutive marathons in very similar weather conditions was extremely instructive. At Baltimore I took 12 Succeed caps (4092 mg sodium), which was a bit too much, based on uncomfortable urinary symptoms afterwards (um, burning pee, if you must know). At New York, under similar ~70*F weather conditions, I took 6 Succeed caps (2046 mg sodium), which was not quite enough, based on a little bit of finger swelling I experienced on course and the nausea which I had afterwards. I didn't bonk and I didn't experience substantial mental fuzziness or dizziness at either marathon, in contrast to some of my earlier attempts at the distance when I took in much lower levels of electrolytes.

That information is worth SOLID GOLD to me in tackling an Ironman next year. I have narrowed down my requirements for sodium fairly precisely to somewhere around 2500-3500 mg for every 6 hours on course, or ~500 mg per hour. That is money in the bank for me which will help ensure a successful completion of Ironman Florida in November, 2006.

I may not be able to train this body to be very fast within one year, but I can certainly do everything I can to get the nutrition part of the Ironman equation correct. It won't make me faster, but it's one of the most important things to help prevent me from slowing down or stopping. One step closer to my goal!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

New York City Marathon Race Report

Short version: Warm, humid day in New York; finished marathon #8 in 6:33 on very sore feet

Long version: I learn something at every race.

On the morning of the NY City Marathon I woke up in my cramped little cheap (uh, $140 per night is cheap for New York) hotel room at 4:45 AM, ate and dressed and headed downstairs at 5:30. Bonnie and I walked over to the bus and boarded promptly, after passing a couple dozen racing wheelchairs lined up to be shipped over to the start. It put some early perspective on the day.

We arrived in the staging area quickly and were greeted by cheers from the volunteers in the early dawn. I thought they would certainly be hoarse in a few hours but their enthusiasm was fun.

We headed over to the Orange area and looked for Daniel Wellner (who had organized a wonderful Italian dinner for us the previous night) in the tent behind the medical area where we thought he was going to be, but were unable to find him. We availed ourselves of the great hot coffee they had in abundance and settled down for a long, long wait. Four hours worth. The ~40,000 other assembled runners soon overwhelmed the portapotties allocated for them and were abandoning the huge lines and peeing everywhere. Everywhere. I felt a little sorry for the people who worked on Monday in the buildings surrounded by a moat of runner's pee.

Somewhere the cannon went off, and somewhere "New York, New York" played, but we didn't hear it. We could see the bridge dimly through the morning fog and approached it slowly in the crowd. 17:07 after the race actually started, I crossed the initial timing mats to begin the marathon.

I loved the first two miles over the Verranzano Narrows bridge. The fog prevented us from seeing the city, but we had a beautiful view of the fireboats below spouting colored water. It was peaceful and quiet on the bridge and the main sounds were the footfalls of the other runners. The sun was getting warm and I quickly shed my long-sleeved shirt and was fairly comfortable in a sleeveless top. There was a nice breeze on the bridge, but it didn't take long for me to get sweaty. That foretold a long, hot day.

At the end of the bridge we were greeted with friendly cries of, "Welcome to Brooklyn!" in authentic local accents. The crowd of thousands of runners jogged down the road, soaking up the good will of the crowds. I kept my pace well into my "slow, comfortable jog" zone and just trotted along at a speed I thought I could maintain all day, adding on a one-minute walk break at the end of each mile just to give myself a break and hopefully give my muscles a rest for later in the race.

But it was warm, and my body just wasn't responding as I had hoped. I had done the Baltimore Marathon 3 weeks before and a 12-miler on the Marine Corps Marathon course a week earlier, and apparently I just hadn't recovered from those efforts. My mile splits started out in the 12 to 13-minute per mile range, but they were all slower than I had run in Baltimore, I was sweating hard, and by mile 8-9 I was starting to see some 14-minute miles. That confirmed my fear that it was going to be a long, difficult day.

Before I made it to the halfway point (when Bonnie passed me looking strong and was quickly out of sight in the distance ahead of me), I started to experience some pronounced pain in my feet. I had just trimmed back two toenails to nubs that I had lost after the Baltimore Marathon. I suppose I still had some leftover wear and tear inside my joints or tendons or ligaments which I had been unaware of. Every so often I had a few steps of acute pain in my ankles or less frequently my knees left me hobbling. Those made me fear I would have to drop out of the race, but after stopping to walk it usually subsided to a painful ache in my feet which never left me.

Nutritionally, I think I did everything right - I felt well-fueled and never really bonked or felt exhausted during the day. I kept up my hydration well and took electrolytes on schedule and never got mentally fuzzy. My clothes were fine, I had no chafing nor blisters. My feet just hurt. A lot. Enough so that by mile 15 I was walking a significant portion of the time. By mile 20 I was walking all the time.

I enjoyed the spectacle of the course as much as I could - the thousands of different accents from the runners and specatators, the diversity of the neighborhoods, the colors of the autumn trees, the dramatic views of the New York skyline. I like running on bridges, so even that part was enjoyable.

I didn't like being stopped short by lines of walkers when I summoned enough will to begin jogging again for a while, but I told myself that's the price you pay for the huge races. I felt badly for the few people that I saw down by the side of the road getting medical help. I got annoyed at a couple of vehicles that were apparently allowed to drive down the course with us, which I kept having to breathe exhaust from, or dodge around.

I wondered why the only kids on the streets watching the race in the Hassidic neighborhoods were girls, and nobody there cheered for us. I wondered why they had numerous signs posted around the neighborhood warning people to wear loose clothing covering their skin to prevent skin cancer - I'd never heard of a connection between clothing tightness and cancer.

I thanked the volunteers. I gave thumbs up to the hundreds of spectators that called my name, encouraging me on. I enjoyed the crowds and the bands that could stay on tune and the energy.

Danny has some wonderful detail in his descriptions of the course and the neighborhoods. If I knew New York City better, I might have known where I was more often than I did, and I might describe them all to you too.

I was surprised to spot Karen Bingham by herself at a couple spots in the race where there were few spectators. Way to go, Karen! You gave me some great encouragement when it was needed.

I walked from mile marker to mile marker, and it often seemed like I'd never reach the finish line. I did the math at each and it always seemed like an impossible distance to finish.

Finally we entered Central Park and were surrounded by trees and rocks and people cheering us on. I enjoyed seeing the panther atop Cat Hill again and Balto the Wonder Dog with kids seated on his back. I trudged up each hill, attempted to jog on the downhills but usually abandoned that after a few painful steps, and just kept going.

Finally across the finish line! I was done with number eight. Whew! Final time was 6:33, a 15:00 minute per mile overall pace. I got my medal and a Mylar blanket and a bottle of water, but saw no food anywhere before the turnoff for the subway stop. It was pitch dark by now. I wasn't going to keep walking around Central Park in the blackness searching for food.

I found my way into the subway and started to feel nauseous. I was on one train and was talking to a nice marathon finisher from Charlotte, but at the same time I was fighting back the urge to throw up and was looking around for somewhere convenient to do it among the crowd of people, but there wasn't any space that wasn't occupied by a person. You know it's bad when you seriously consider taking off your Mylar blanket in order to use it to catch puke. I was able to hop off the train for a transfer before I reached that point of no return, fortunately, and the feeling subsided when I got outside into fresher air.

On the return I ran into Bonnie and her friends, so fortunately I didn't have to walk those last few blocks through the streets of New York by myself in the dark. I limped back to my room and holed up for the night with some leftover mixed nuts and a muffin for dinner.

Lessons learned: Always book a hotel room the night after the marathon, but make darned sure they have room service. And oh yeah, perhaps reconsider that "2.5 marathons within 3 weeks" training plan.

NYCM numbers

Ken has already run some numbers on the 2005 NYC Marathon. Interesting stuff! Even though I'm not included in anything but the total number of finishers, since he only used the top 2000 of each gender. Shucks, I didn't even make the New York Times listing of finishers published in the paper the next day, since they stopped at 6:00. If I had known that I might have limped faster.

Letterman's Top Ten for November 7

Top Ten Things Overheard During The New York City Marathon

10. "Thousands of New Yorkers urinating in the street - - Typical Sunday"

9. "Only 25 miles to go"

8. "Wait, I could have taken a bridge from Staten Island to Brooklyn?"

7. "These wooden shoes were funny the first half-mile"

6. "Is that the finish line or crime scene tape?"

5. "Bus exhaust make daddy dizzy"

4. "Instead of carbs, I loaded up on Cool Ranch Doritos"

3. "Hello, Triple A? I'm at mile 23 and I need a tow"

2. "Help...Heart...Gonna...splode"

1. "Taxi!"

In the tri-blogs

Mica is organizing a virtual carnival of the triathlete blogs! How fun!

Bolder from Boulder is back! Hooray! And he's coming to Ironman Florida! We've compiled a list of our online buddies that have entered IMFL06 here.

Tri-geek Kahuna is looking for another Tri-Diva. Why is it that I suspect that facial and figure attributes are primary considerations in the selection process? My vote (as if I had a vote!) is for someone like the indomitable Tara Norton or the amazing Sarah Reinertson. They have each faced down personal challenges that make our own difficulties pale in comparison, and have risen to triumph. They inspire me!

And me, I'm trying to summon the energy to write a race report about the New York City Marathon. It still makes me tired just thinking about it. I'm glad I have a vacation coming up!

In other marathon news, there's a new one planned for next March in Washington, DC - the "National Marathon". The second half goes through some fairly nasty neighborhoods that I don't like to drive a car in, much less run in. You have to submit a qualifying time to enter. My race time for the 2005 Cherry Blossom Ten Miler would qualify me to enter - if I were fifty years old already, that is, which I won't be for another 19 months. Several DC marathons have already failed - my guess is that this one will never, ever get the 5000 runners it will need to fill. But if it succeeds - great! Maybe I can run it in 2008 after I turn 50!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Back from New York!

I'm home, and I finished the New York City Marathon yesterday (although my feet were trashed so I ended up slowly walking in the last 6 miles)! Thanks for watching out for me! Unfortunately the scan doesn't do the medal justice, it's deeply sculpted and didn't all get in focus in the scan. There were 36894 official finishers, so only 2.2% of them finished behind me! But we finished! I'll post a long report when I've recovered a bit, and when I get my mind around the fact I'm actually entered in Ironman Florida a year from now....

First NameLast NameAgeTeam

Runner #PlaceGender
Net Time10K SplitHalf Split20M Split
Nancy RToby48F

(Splits include starting delay of 17:07).

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Off to New York!

That will be me, one of those crazy people on the Verranzano Narrows Bridge on Sunday morning!

Thanks for all your good wishes! I'll save you the gory details of the story about how my two bad toenails from the Baltimore Marathon decided to come off last night.

I'll be back from my whirlwind trip and blogging by the middle of the day on Monday, but until then, watch for me on TV or find my NY City Marathon results online!

If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere. It's up to you, New York, New York.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Aches and pains

What is it about marathon tapering that brings out all the old aches and pains in a body? I hate that!

Today, bringing in the big box from the porch, I pulled something in my lower back. Like near my hip, or my sacroiliac, or somewhere like that.

Then I'm getting these weird pains in my ankle and neck.

Let's hope that the first mile or two takes care of it on Sunday.

The rocking horse winner

Grandpa sent the girls an F.A.O. Schwarz rocking horse and it arrived today!

Catherine was not quite ready to commit herself to climbing on this strange beast, but she pronounced it a "nice pony" and "good" and made the sign for grandfather, so I think she gets it!! She also said the plastic bridle was "glasses". So I guess it's a nearsighted pony.

Elisabeth - well, Elisabeth wasn't having such a good morning. She sat down and cried. But I'm sure she'll like it later.

We just have to think up a name for it now.

Then, naturally, both girls proceeded to play at great length with the BOX it came in.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Following the NY City Marathon

For those who wish to follow along from home:

I have heard that TV coverage will begin at 2PM EST on NBC. I can't seem to find a link to confirm that, however. Perhaps check the local NBC affliate site, WNBC or your local listings.

Runner Tracking: Can probably be done here. I'm #44100, and I should be on about a 6-hour finish pace, I hope.

Review of some of the elite contenders: wheelers; women; men.

Update: In the United States, NBC Sports will broadcast a one-hour highlights show nationwide beginning at 2:00pm EST on November 6; check your local listings for details. In New York City, it will be on Channel 4.

Congratulations to losers

Fat politics aside, I'd like to offer my congratulations to the Biggest Losers from TRI-DRS:

Linae, who lost a total of 35.3% (body fat reduction and body weight loss), winning a total of $450.22; and
Brad*, who lost a total of 25.6% (body fat reduction and body weight loss), winning a total of $226.10*.

Well done! Full results for the 12 weeks are tabulated here.

I did okay, with a total of 9.3%, which is just fine for slow and steady body composition change. Let's just keep headed in the same direction. While I don't believe that a modest amount of body fat is the dire health threat that it's made out to be, it sure slows a triathlete down doing all the work of lugging it all around.

*Late Edition: Brad directed me to send his $226.10 winnings to the Challenged Athletes Foundation in support of their efforts in making athletics accessible to everyone. We were all particularly inspired by CAF-supported Sarah Reinertson competing at Ironman Hawaii this year. Thank you to Brad and the members of TRI-DRS who participated in the challenge and made this generous contribution possible.

Fat politics

Has anyone read this book? Fat Politics: The Real Story behind America's Obesity Epidemic by J. Eric Oliver.

I just heard about it and I think I have to buy it. Except I think it might be preaching to the choir, because it seems to echo exactly what I believe:
"Political scientist Oliver condemns what he feels is a self-interested "public health establishment"-obesity researchers seeking federal funding, pharmaceutical and weight-loss companies peddling diet drugs and regimens, bariatric surgeons and other health-care providers angling for insurance reimbursement-for spuriously characterizing fatness as a disease. . . . Arguing that fatness is perfectly compatible with fitness, [Oliver] contends that scapegoating obesity drives Americans to experiment with dangerous crash diets, appetite suppressants and weight-loss surgeries, while distracting us from underlying harmful changes in the American lifestyle--mainly our incessant snacking on junk food and shunning of exercise and physical activity, of which weight gain is perhaps merely a "benign symptom." . . . By telling us we need to be thin without providing a safe way of losing weight, the same proponents of the "obesity epidemic" are also pushing millions of Americans towards dangerous surgeries, crash diets, and harmful diet drugs."
I'd also love to see a well-researched, factual expose about the dangerous metabolic effects of yo-yo dieting. I do think the most-frequently-used "remedies" to obesity often have much worse health consequences than the obesity itself.

I also think we experience major problems from far, far, far too much emphasis on the superficial appearance of health (leanness) rather than the actual fact of a healthy mind in a healthy body.

The latest weather for Sunday in New York

I'm like Danny - I can't help myself from looking at the forecast for marathon day over and over. Here's the latest prognosis from Wunderground: Rain, rain, go away! Otherwise it looks almost perfect - a little on the warm side!

7 AM
Temperature / Dew Point (°F) 58 / 52
Humidity (%) 74%
Wind (mph) SSW 7 mph
Conditions Partly Cloudy
Probability of Precipitation (%) 10%
Cloud Cover (%) 61%

1 PM
Temperature / Dew Point (°F) 68 / 50
Humidity (%) 42%
Wind (mph) SSE - 9
Conditions Chance of Rain
Probability of Precipitation (%) 30%
Cloud Cover (%) 67%

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Ironman Florida 2006 blog started

Come on over and join the fun as we head for Ironman Florida in November, 2006!!

Holly rocks MCM!

Holly and me on the Marine Corps Marathon course last Sunday out near the end of Hains Point, coming up on Mile 19! Courtesy of Ron Horton, who has posted more photos here. I wore my neon cycling vest so that she could spot me easily when I joined her at Mile 10. Hmm, I didn't think we were both listing like that, but the horizon in the background looks level . . . actually, those two guys behind us are both listing too!!!