Saturday, December 31, 2005

My 2006 Plan and Goals

2006 calendar year:
  • 44 weeks training until Ironman Florida (Jan 1 to Nov 4)
  • 8 weeks afterwards: recovery and unstructured play
Ultimate objectives:
  • Train intelligently and effectively for an iron-distance triathlon while keeping my life in balance with my other responsibilities.
  • Get to the Ironman Florida starting line (Nov 4) in the best shape of my life.
  • Enjoy every race day as a celebration of my training, bringing away lessons from each race.
The approach:
  • Keep my goals front and center all year, posted where that I'll see them regularly.
  • Log all workouts and body weights daily on 2006 laminated wall calendar (one at each place)
  • Log most food intake (5 days/week minimum) as an essential component of athletic training
  • Track totals for run, bike, and swim every week (Sun morning through Sat night)
  • Majority of training weeks will include at least 2 swim, 2 run, and 2 bike sessions.
  • Complete Ironman Plan for 44 weeks of training in 4 macro cycles: Establish sub-goals within each macro, review at end of each and set sub-goals for next macro.
  • Emphasize "A" races only with full recovery/taper periods: Goofy, Ironman Florida
  • "B" races - taper workouts 1 week only, recovery workouts 1 week maximum: Columbia (?), Eagleman Half IM, Steelhead Half IM
  • "C" races - reduced workouts no more than 2 days before and 2 days afterwards: Cherry Blossom, Irongirl, Blackwater Du (?)
  • Any other extra races entered in first 44 weeks of 2006 - no taper or recovery time off regular training, though mileage counts
My 4 Macro Cycles on the 2006 calendar:
  • Macro cycle #2
  • Emphasis: Swim and core strength
  • Goofy races (Jan 7-8) to Sat Apr 1
  • 12 weeks with ~2 days taper at end
  • Macro cycle #3
  • Emphasis: Base building and swim technique
  • Cherry Blossom Ten Miler (Sun Apr 2) to Sat Jun 10
  • 10 weeks including Columbia Olympic tri (May 21), 1 week taper at end
  • After Macro cycle #3: Review entire Ironman Plan and goals around June 12th, after 24 weeks of training. Plan for a mid-course correction prior to final 20 weeks of training. If necessary, totally re-establish the goals and training plan leading up to Ironman Florida.
  • Macro cycle #4
  • Emphasis: Heat training, cycling endurance, and swim (open water when possible)
  • Eagleman Half IM (Sun Jun 11) to Fri Aug 4
  • 8 weeks including ~1 week recovery at beginning, 1 week taper at end
  • Macro cycle #5
  • Emphasis: Endurance, race simulation, and fine-tuning limiters
  • Steelhead Half IM (Sat Aug 5) to Ironman Florida (Nov 4)
  • 13 weeks incl. ~1 week recovery at beginning,
  • Irongirl sprint (Aug 27), 2-3 weeks taper at end
Process goals: Weekly baseline minimums for every week in each discipline
  • Nutrition: Keep detailed food log at least 5 days per week for 42/44 weeks
  • Run (not walk!): 10 miles per week or more for 42/44 weeks
  • Swim (freestyle): 1500 m or more for 42/44 weeks
  • Bike/trainer: 20 miles (or 80 min trainer) or more for 42/44 weeks
Fine print escape clause: Plan is subject to review and revision if a) it isn't working at all; b) injury; c) illness.

Friday, December 30, 2005

I am the New Year

I'm passing along this gem that Ron Horton posted on one of my email lists. I tried to google the original source but couldn't find it - I'd love to give correct attribution, if anyone knows it!

I am the New Year

I hold all the promise of a first kiss, endless opportunities and miracles yet untold.
Enjoy each day as it comes, not all will finish the trip.
Pack light, your material needs are few.
Bring hopes and dreams, for I am the path of new beginnings.
Bring friends who are faithful, traveling alone can be difficult.
Bring smiles and laughter, you will need them for the days there is no sun.
Bring flexibility, you may end up where you didn't plan to be.
Bring faith, the doubters can wear you down.
Bring generosity, others may come ill-prepared.
Along the way work hard, it will pay the rent.
Live honestly, it allows you to look in the mirror.
Set aside time to play, children have always understood priorities.
Maintain a sense of humor, the world takes itself too seriously.
Weep when you need to, it washes away sorrow.
Teach what you know, we are here to learn.
Give back, it balances the world.
Listen to the words of others, God often speaks through strangers.
Look forward, the future radiates more light than the past.
Love passionately, it fuels the body.

I am the New Year.

365 uniquely wrapped gifts, no two alike, filled with untold surprises.

And I am yours.

The eagle soars

I had a real treat today when I went over to the track for a short run. There were a pair of huge bald eagles in the infield! That was probably the closest I have ever been to one in the wild (at least, that I realized was there). They were gorgeous - enormous and unmistakeable, with their bold white heads! I suspect I interrupted their tasty brunch on a big fat Canada goose which was spread around the infield, buffet-style. I was able to watch them for a long while before they took off slowly and reluctantly. At 46*F outside, the goose will keep nicely refrigerated until they can return this afternoon for a snack.

I tested out the pace of my run:walk intervals over 5K. Jogging 5 minutes and walking 1 minute, I did the first three miles in: 12:23, 12:20, and 12:19, so I'll call that an average pace of 12:21 min/mile for 5:1 intervals. I finished up another half loop for an easy 5K time of 38:32.

I'm hoping that if I do 5:1 run:walk intervals just like that for the first half marathon at Disney World, and the first 18 miles of the marathon, I may just be able to stay relatively fresh and strong for the final 8.2 miles. Maybe I can even keep it up to the end for a strong finish. If not, I can probably walk it in and make it under the 7-hour cutoff. The Goofy marathon might even be a good test of run:walk pacing for Ironman Florida next November, when I don't expect to be able to run the entire thing due to the fatigue from already swimming 2.4 miles and cycling 112 miles, but if I can minimize the death march long walk at the end will help my finish time a lot.

Today's 5K time of 38:32 (12:20 min/mile pace for 3.12 miles) predicts a marathon time of 6:14:48 (14:16 min/mile pace for 26.2 miles), and that's about 45 minutes faster than I absolutely need to be to finish and earn the Goofy medal. I think I can do this!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Movie weirdness

With two-year-old twins, my husband and I haven't been to a real theater for a movie in something like three years. So we get Netflix - that is, DVDs that arrive by mail.

We enjoy watching a lot of old BBC historical dramas, Merchant-and-Ivory and Upstairs,-Downstairs-type stuff. We just saw the HBO series From The Earth To The Moon which was great.

I manage the movie queue, and usually my husband goes along with my picks, which keeps everything running hunky-dory in the Toby Family TV-viewing department. Every so often I throw in an old classic which I haven't seen. Tonight it was Dark Victory with Bette Davis.

I am totally weirded out by this movie. Stop reading here if you haven't seen it and don't like spoilers. Bette is a spoiled rich girl that comes down with this brain tumor, and has no recovery time nor symptoms whatsoever after her brain surgery, and the doctors know for a fact that she is going to die suddenly without prior symptoms except a sudden loss of vision within four months. Bette finds out even though the entire medical establishment conspires to hide the truth from her, and so she parties it up in New York with Ronald Reagan playing a lounge lizard (which is absolutely hilarious). She has this girlfriend/pal/accountant and multiple servants who adore her even though she's a total snob and beeeyotch. She also pursues the stereotypical rich-girl hobby of showing horses (naturally, winning everything) and has a full-time groom by the name of Humphrey Bogart in one of his worst supporting roles ever, mangling an Irish brogue, which is also hilarious, especially when he makes a pass at her (because he, too, cap-in-hand adores her, even though she repeatedly grinds him under her stiletto). They talk several times about her racing her horse in the Grand National steeplechase, seemingly unaware that it is not even raced on this continent (just ask Elizabeth Taylor or Mickey Rooney). Bette then marries her noble brain surgeon (who totally lacks anything we might recognize today as medical ethics), and they move to Vermont where he does important biomedical research finding a cure for cancer in his barn. Then (just when Bette starts going blind) he goes away at a moment's notice to an important conference, Bette hides her blindness from him, and then she makes the girlfriend promise to take care of her husband forever (presumably sexually) while planting daffodils with her, and then minutes later she dies suddenly on her bed in a beautiful swoon. It was too bizarre for words.

What's even weirder is that the movie came out in 1939, the same year as Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz, and it this train wreck of a movie was up for a Best Picture Oscar along with those classics. Not to mention my fellow Netflix viewers gave this dog 5/5 stars. Huh? What were they thinking!?

Are you heading to Frostbite Falls?

At the end of January we're going to be holding a virtual gathering once again at Frostbite Falls. Check out Karen's instructions on exactly how to get there.

As for me, I believe that Frostbite Falls lies about 6 km directly downstream from me. I'll dive in and start swimming there on January 3rd. I do need to take a little detour for some Goofy stuff on the 7-8 of January, but I'll be back in the water promptly to resume my journey. I also may do a little workout below the falls once I get there, but I know it's at least 6000 meters from here. If I get there early, I'll put a few more logs on the fire and warm up my Maryland crab cakes to share.

See you all there! Keep the cocoa warm!

Have another glass

Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol appears to protect older women from developing type 2 or non-insulin-dependent diabetes, Dutch researchers report.

Hey, that's me! Er, it will be in 5 months, when I turn 49, at least....

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Cycling in a heat wave

We had a balmy 50*F day today (4 degrees above our average high temperature here for this date) and so I was able to go out for a nice little bike ride. Well, it was nice as long as the wind was at my back. It's always deceptive when you start out with the wind at your back, because it makes coming back when you're fatigued and heading into the wind all that much more difficult!

I saw fields packed with so many Canada geese you could use them for stepping stones to get from one side to the other. I passed a deer grazing twenty feet from the road that barely bothered to lift her head as I passed. It felt great to be out riding again.

I was actually comfortably warm in just a long-sleeved synthetic t-shirt and my windbreaker cycling jacket - plus windstopper pants, neoprene booties, a headband around my ears, and long gloves inside my fingerless cycling gloves.

But twenty miles felt much harder than it did just a couple of months ago. Once again, my back rebelled at being asked to assume the aero position. I finished up with a leisurely 14.3 mph average for the ride.

If the forecasts are accurate (are they ever accurate?), I may be able to have my last ride of the year in similar weather on Friday.

Extended Goofy forecast

From Accuweather:

Friday, Jan 6
Orlando, FL weather: Partly sunny and colder. High: 60°F. Low: 38°F.
Saturday, Jan 7
Orlando, FL weather: Plenty of sunshine. High: 61°F. Low: 39°F.
Sunday, Jan 8
Orlando, FL weather: Sunshine. High: 62°F. Low: 41°F.

Moral of the story: Bring lots of throwaways for race day! ~40 degrees is going to feel awfully chilly at 5AM in the pitch dark, but 60 degrees in the sun can feel quite warm when you're running! Fortunately, no precipitation is in the long-range forecast there within two days of the weekend.

Update 12/28 (ten days from Goofy): The forecast is getting substantially warmer. Bring the swimsuits!

Friday, Jan 6
Orlando, FL Weather: Sunny. High: 68°F. Low: 47°F.
Saturday, Jan 7
Orlando, FL Weather: Abundant sunshine. High: 69°F. Low: 49°F.
Sunday, Jan 8
Orlando, FL Weather: A good deal of sun. High: 71°F. Low: 50°F.

Bargain of the year

I went shopping at Walmart last night - it was surprisingly empty! Glad I waited until after Christmas! I filled up the whole cart and the total was only about $100.

I got the Bargain of the Year that I had to tell you all about: A sixteen-piece hex key set on two keychains, metric and S.A.E. The metric set will be for my bike (once I remove the ones that it doesn't need).

Eighty-eight cents. Can you believe it? NOTHING costs 88 cents any more!

Mission Statement, 2006

These are the overarching ultimate objectives that I plan to pursue in 2006, which I set last October. The culmination of the whole year of training (44 weeks to go) is Ironman Florida in November, 2006:
  • Train intelligently and effectively for an iron-distance triathlon while keeping my life in balance with my other responsibilities.
  • Get to the Ironman Florida starting line in the best shape of my life.
  • Enjoy every race day as a celebration of my training, bringing away lessons from each race.
Those are all non-quantifiable and subjective. So to support them, and ensure that I fulfill that mission, I need to develop a solid set of black-and-white process goals. Writing those process goals is my task for the rest of this week.

Then my day-to-day progressive training calendar (including appropriate macro cycles during the year) must be established such that every workout supports the completion of the process goals. I do have two huge wall calendars started that are devoted to my workout schedule, but I need to finish those up.

I believe that in 2006 one change I will make is to emphasize weekly workout totals within the 8-to-12 week macro cycle, instead of my former emphasis on monthly totals as I did in 2005. I may still post monthly totals, but I will be working to improve the consistency in my training throughout 2006 by trying to hit certain pre-determined totals each and every week.

Incidentally, part of the 2006 plan will be to block out several weeks following Ironman Florida for downtime and renewal. Just about everyone experiences a slump after a huge event like that, and I'm going to be sure to plan for it appropriately so that it doesn't hit me by surprise and stop me in my tracks.

I still can't find my process goals for 2005. Either I didn't write them down or I've forgotten where they are, which has exactly the same effect. As anonymouse pointed out, if these process goals aren't front and center every single day, they won't just happen by themselves!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My performance goal failures for 2005

Why make process goals instead of performance goals? Because you can't have performance without the process to back it up! (Otherwise known as "Don't write checks your ass can't cash".)

Learn from my mistakes! That's what happened to me in 2005. I made several pace goals (i.e., performance goals) without laying down and following a plan to achieve those goals through specific training (i.e., process goals), plus maybe I spread myself a little too thin. Like, what sense was there in making a 5-mile race goal when I wasn't training specifically to run that distance, and I had no 5-milers planned on the race calender in the whole year?

My goals * and the results for 2005:
  • 5K <0:30:00 * 30:26 is my closest in 2005
  • 5M <0:50:00 * no 5-milers or 8km races in 2005
  • 10K <1:00:00 * 1:04:31 is my closest in 2005
  • 10M <1:50:00 * 1:52:57 is my closest in 2005
  • Half Marathon <2:25:00 * 2:37:50 is my closest in 2005
  • Marathon <5:00:00 * not even close yet (5:59 and 6:33 marathons in 2005)
  • 1 Olympic distance triathlon completed <4:00:00 * DONE IN 4:06:58 (close enough for my first attempt!)
  • 1 Half Ironman triathlon completed <8:00:00 * DONE IN 8:50:50 (not close at all to the time goal, but my first attempt is complete!)
But you know what? I don't really count those as failures - not at all! I didn't quite make as much progress as I had hoped in my speed during the year, but I did indeed make progress in the right direction, set PRs at all distances less than a marathon, and finished my first Olympic and half Ironman triathlons! And the real underlying objective is to improve my fitness while having fun, and I certainly achieved that. So overall, I'm pleased about the year 2005.

I also made some tiers of time goals in advance for most races I ran in 2005 - I made many of my goals, but some I didn't. Some days you have it, and some you don't, and there's always more races out there to be run.

I thought I had made some process goals at the start of 2005, but I haven't been able to find them yet. Will post when I do.

The Goofy strategy

What's the plan for this race, you ask? Plan the race, race the plan! Fail to plan, plan to fail! (Don't those cute little sayings get on your nerves sometimes?)

The official Goofy Challenge:
Complete a half marathon on Saturday and a marathon on Sunday.

The unofficial Dopey addition:
Add to it a 5K on Saturday.

First off, I'm in no shape to run the whole blinkin' 42.4 miles, so you can just forget that. Besides, I wouldn't have a lot of fun going hard the whole way.

I'm talking about it in the singular, one race, since I'm trying to look at it as one continuous 42.4-mile ultramarathon, with an extra-long rest stop after the first third of the way.

Day 1 plan: The half marathon course is basically flat and boring. The only interesting parts are miles 5-7 through the Magic Kingdom, and miles 12 - 13.1, through part of Epcot. Cutoff is 3:30 (210 minutes). 3AM - 4AM wakeup, monorail to 6AM start (ugh!).
  • HM Miles 0-5: Run:walk at 5:1 intervals starting in first mile, for relaxed 14 min/mile pace (70 min). Twilight begins 6:54AM; sunrise 7:19AM.
  • HM Miles 5-7, Magic Kingdom: Walk and take pictures for 20 min/mile pace (40 min).
  • HM Miles 7-12: Run:walk at 5:1 intervals, 14 min/mile pace (70 min).
  • HM Miles 12-13.1, Epcot: Walk and take pictures for 20 min/mile pace (22 min).
  • HM Finish: 202 minutes = 3:22, or 8 minutes to spare before the cutoff.
  • Collect Donald medal and Goofy wristband at finish line!
Then wait around for the 5K start at 11:00 AM. This means a 98-minute wait from my projected half marathon finish time at 9:22AM, so if I'm feeling badly for any reason, I'll probably skip the 5K and just go back to the hotel.
  • 5K: Walk the whole thing, or perhaps slow jog in the more boring sections. Collect 5K medal!
Recovery: Monorail back to the hotel (Polynesian Resort). Ice feet and take a lazy swim in the pool if the weather is not too cold. EAT lots of good recovery foods before 6-7PM!

Day 2 plan: The marathon course is equally flat, with several long boring stretches. Areas of interest: Miles 0-3 through Epcot in the dark; twilight begins 6:54AM; sunrise 7:19AM; miles 10-11 through the Magic Kingdom; miles 16-18 through the Animal Kingdom park; then Mile 22.5-23.5 through the Disney-MGM Studios area is likely to be a small respite of interest; then mile 24.5 heads through the Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts, with the final stretch from mile 25 to the finish through Epcot. Cutoff is 7 hours (420 minutes). 3AM - 4AM wakeup, monorail to 6AM start (ugh!).

Allowing 4 miles of straight walking at 20 min/mile (80 minutes), and finishing 10 minutes before the cutoff (410 minutes total), that leaves me 330 minutes to go 22.2 miles, which yields a 14:51 average pace for the rest of the course.

I'll probably slow down considerably on the marathon course from a) fatigue; b) fatigue; c) boredom; d) foot pain; and e) sightseeing in the 2nd half.
  • Maintain 14:00 min/mile pace most of the way using 5:1 run:walk intervals, try to hit the halfway mark about 3:10-3:15; and then hang on from there until the marathon finish line. If I feel extra good (highly unlikely), don't run continuously until leaving Animal Kingdom at Mile 18 - then run ~7 mile leg through Downtown Disney until entering Epcot.
  • Collect Mickey medal and Goofy medal!
I'll bring with me a single pace chart both days which will be based on a minimum average pace to make the cutoffs of 15:38 min/mile (leaving me 5 extra minutes for the half marathon and 10 for the marathon) just to prevent me from getting too far behind my minimum pace in my sightseeing on either day. If I need to power-walk it in, I can usually do about a 15-16 mpm walking pace when I hustle, so that should keep me out of cutoff trouble.

How does that sound for a strategy?

Last tempo run before Goofy

Did my usual one mile repeats on the track today, right in my faster end of my tempo run pace (10:12 - 11:26 mpm), getting in to my max O2 pace range (9:14-10:21 mpm):
  • 10:29
  • 10:21
  • 10:12
Whew! That felt harder than I wanted! Then again, they always feel harder than I want! Now it's time to taper, taper, taper! I'm GREAT at tapering!

Run training paces

Now is also a good time to reassess your training paces, to get them into the most effective range for your target events, and plug them into your goals for the year. There's a nice calculator of the various run training paces at the Runner's World site. For me, though, the paces recommended by my times at various race distances varies wildly, since I'm comparatively much slower at the longer distances -- even slower than most algorithms predict for longer distances.

Here are my recommended training paces, based on my recent 5K and half marathon times:
  • Your easy run training pace is: 12:10 - 13:33 min/mile
  • Your tempo run training pace is: 10:12 - 11:26 min/mile
  • Your maximum oxygen training pace is: 9:14 - 10:21 min/mile
  • Your speed form training pace is: 8:34 - 9:37 min/mile
  • Your long run training pace is: 12:10 - 15:09 min/mile
  • Your Yasso 800s training pace is: 4:44 - 5:18/800
I'll likely be doing the bulk of my training mileage in running this year at longer distances and at the slower "easy run" paces, in order to work on my performance at half marathon to marathon distances (for my half Ironman and Ironman triathlons later this year). I've always found that losing a few pounds does far more for my running times than a whole lot of pounding on the roads! But I'll schedule some speed work on the track or hill work every week or two, as well.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Goals: assessing last year and setting next year

It's that time of year again!

Did you meet your goals for 2005? And what are your goals for 2006?

I see a lot of people who make vague goals - "do better" "do less" etc., that are difficult if not impossible to track accurately. I even saw one person making goals for other folks ("get X to start running with me"). Probably not a productive approach!

Remember to be SMART in your goal-setting!
S - specific, significant, stretching
M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T - time-based, timely, tangible, trackable

Then there are performance-based goals (eat 5 fruits and veggies per day) versus outcome-based goals (the number on the scale reading 10 pounds less). I think performance-based goals are MUCH MUCH more helpful to us in training! We can only take action upon those things within our own immediate, direct, personal control!

While the results are often the things that inspire us and motivate us (outcome goals), the day-to-day things that we do to accomplish it (performance or process goals) are usually the only aspects that are truly within our direct control.

I still need to find my exact goals for 2005, but I know I have them somewhere. I'll report back when I do!

Funny girl

Heh, Catherine has decided that her sign for this guy is patting her elbow. (Elmo = elbow; pretty good idea for a sign!)

Just like her sign for gorilla is girl.

It cracks me up!

Today's workout was a big 3.5-mile loop around the neighborhood at about a 12-13 mpm pace. My knees were giving me some twinges - I think I may have some cartilage fragments floating around in my knee synovial fluid, because every so often a step is unpredictably, acutely painful.

Then we took a walk to the elementary school playground with the girls. It started raining again, and I got chilly very fast in my running clothes once I stopped running, so we came home quickly! I am in so much trouble for Goofy! I've done no long runs except the half marathon on December 3rd, more than a month before I head to Disneyworld. I keep reminding myself that I just have to finish to get the medal -- I don't have to actually run the whole 42.4 miles for time. I'll be walking a lot of the second half of the marathon, I'm quite sure!


Am I the only one who doesn't "get" this? Treadmill bikes?

Um, why?

Quiet Christmas/Hanukah

Yesterday it rained hard all day here, so we had a nice quiet day indoors playing with our Christmas toys. Santa was good to us!

The girls got musical instruments from Grandma, so they practiced blowing on the flute, shaking the tambourine (and Catherine likes to shake her little booty) and smashing the wooden xylophone. They tend to want to put the harmonica in their mouth lengthwise, though. The flute and the harmonica are perfect for Elisabeth, who needs that type of breath-control exercise for her speech skills.

Then the girls spent a long time watching their favorite - newly released Signing Time videos from Santa with lots of new songs and animal signs that kept them captivated. That gave us a few minutes of free time, so Steve was able to start reading the books I got him (the final few episodes of the Sharpe series).

I did my core work , but that's about it! I received some good new kitchen knives (just what I asked for!) and so I put them to good use preparing a big 11-pound turkey breast for our dinner. The nice smells filled the house all afternoon. We lit the candles for the first night of Hanukah (we celebrate it all!) and enjoyed our feast!

After dinner we watched another couple episodes in the HBO/Tom Hanks series From The Earth To The Moon - the surprisingly good human story behind the headlines.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve Run

Went for a nice slow two loops around the neighborhood. I enjoyed seeing the decorations on the houses as I jogged along. The decorations in the neighborhood seem very uneven - one house on every block seems to have every surface decorated with lights, and then probably fifty percent of the houses have nothing, the rest somewhere in between.

For some odd reason I kind of like those big snow globes. This is the first year I've seen them out in people's yards. They may be tacky, but I think they're fun. Not that I'm going to run out and buy one, mind you. Our only decoration this year is our Christmas tree (with no ornaments, only little white lights) in the front window - which looks quite serene and minimalist, I think. Last night Catherine said the lights look like stars, and I agreed!

On my run, one old guy walking out to get his mail offered to race, and I said "Sure! To the corner and back!" The corner was about three houses away. He laughed and said he probably couldn't run that far. I thought that was nice and honest!

Much nicer than the truck that whizzed right past next to me, much too fast for our residential roads, from which I caught a whiff of cigarette smoke. Then it veered sharply right in front of me just to get their mail out of their mailbox, so they didn't have to walk a whole fifty feet from their house. Merry Christmas, jerks.

On most of my jog, though, it was peaceful and quiet and comfortably warm - 55*F with no wind today. The only sounds were my own huffing and puffing and the honking of the Canada geese who have taken up residence here. Why are they Canada geese and not Chesapeake geese? We sure do our share, housing and feeding them half the year! I like them, though. One of the houses here had a whole display of Canada geese in the yard with red ribbons around their necks. Nothing says Christmas in Delmarva like millions and millions of geese!

PS: Don't forget to stop by Santa's blog and thank him for the great job he's doing tonight! I've got some yummy almond macaroons waiting for him! Well, if they last that long. I wonder what kind of beer Santa likes best? He sure seems to like it here! At last check, NORAD spotted him in Egypt!

Happy day!

Here's wishing all of you who celebrate it a Merry Christmas! May you have a possum in your tree! :-)

We took the girls out to dinner last night at the Yacht Club, but it was not a rousing success. Elisabeth managed to knock over the candle on the table, and while she didn't manage to burn the place down, she did spatter red candle wax on the nice white tablecloth, which Mom hid with a plate until we were able to sneak out the door.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Sunny winter day

Just took the girls out for their jogstroller walk - hooray for a heat wave! We're up to 49*F under sunny skies, so we were all quite comfortable. 3.2 miles total on my handy online pedometer.

I think I saw a pair of these in the harbor, diving for half a minute or more to hide or eat nasty things from the bottom of the harbor, and surfacing fifty feet away. Perhaps a Common Goldeneye? I couldn't get very close to them to see a lot of detail. Very small and cute.

We went to the park on the other side of town and the girls played on the apparatus, going down the slides and eating sand and normal stuff like that. I only had to sprint after runaway Catherine once when she headed into a neighboring yard. Then she decided it was fun to play in the melting icewater puddles, so she got soaked and then it was time to take an unhappy chilly girl home. Now they're incarcerated in their beds for a while, aka "The Crankatorium".

Their Dad is arriving this afternoon - Catherine has been asking about him every day! So maybe we'll go over to the Yacht Club to have a (now-rare) nice dinner out - if we get a table in the corner of the bar it's noisy enough and we're far away from people that usually the girls don't bother anyone. Well, except us, but we're quite accustomed to it.

Santa's boss

That's YOU! Go to this site and you can tell him exactly what to do. Be, uh, creative!

Too funny!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

It IS like a drug!

". . . researchers found that adults who participated in a three-month rigorous exercise program experienced a decline in depressive symptoms about as great as they would have experienced had they received standard depression treatment, such as antidepressant medication."

Spam attack, omnipotence, and bark

Gack. I got a new round of 5 or 6 spam comments on old posts on this blog. Word verification is back on, for the time being. Sorry, loyal readers. Sorry, Bolder.

Yay! It warmed up to 38*F today, so I ventured forth with the girls in the double jogstroller and did 3.5 miles around the neighborhood. We ended up at the playground behind the elementary school where they toddled around in their heavy winter coveralls like little overstuffed penguins.

For some odd reason Elisabeth likes to eat the bark that covers the playground. We're working on the meaning and actions that go along with the instruction from Mom to "Spit it out!".

For some other odd reason Catherine seems to think that Mom controls everything. EVERYTHING. While Mom would be happy if this were so, sadly, she doesn't have control over airplanes passing overhead in order to make them turn around in mid-air when Catherine requests "More airplane". Neither does she have that effect on passing cyclists when Catherine wants to watch them some more and directs "More bike". It's probably a terrible disillusionment to her. I'm a rotten Mom. Why, oh why, do I lack omnipotence? I can guarantee there would be some major changes around this planet if I didn't. First change I'd make is that ice cream would have zero calories. Like bark. And after that, all spammers would die particularly gruesome, nasty, painful deaths.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Unplanned break

Sigh. I'm on my own with the girls until Friday. Today was cold enough I didn't want to take them out for a jogstroller walk, right after recovering from their colds. So I had hoped to put in some serious bike trainer time. I spent a couple hours wrestling with the bike trainer somebody gave me and finally realized that it was never going to work right with my bike. I gave up. No walking nor cycling for me today.

So, ladies, when you hit a roadblock, what's the standard solution? That's right, SHOP!

First of all, I found a new, simpler trainer on sale with a free heart rate monitor for $150! Cool,that works for me!!

Then a new pair of bike shoes, because the ones I have are slightly small, tend to make my feet burn after 30-40 miles, and I always forget to bring them along to our weekend place. These are Sidi Genius 5 Lorica Mega Road Shoes - which numerous people have recommended to me for my duck feet. Most importantly, they're the right color! And also on sale! It was fate!

By the way, the new running shoes that I just got which are one size larger than I was wearing (my third pair in this model, ordered the wrong size) are working GREAT! I'm nearly certain I'm going to wear them for the Goofy marathon, when my feet are likely to be a little swollen, and wear the smaller size on the first day for the half marathon. I just need one or two more test runs in the big clodhoppers.

Tracking runners at the Disney races

Runner tracking signup is now available for the participants in the races at Disneyworld on January 7th and 8th. You can sign up to get updates on the half marathon and marathon using the runner's surname.

Just go to:
Disney half marathon tracking (Saturday Jan 7)
Disney marathon tracking (Sunday Jan 8)

Doublecheck that you've signed up in the right place! When you go through the process it may appear that you are signing up for the marathon updates twice if you've done it wrong - it seems that the links Disney provides are incorrect.

I'm determined to take it very slow (probably finishing just before the cutoffs: ~3:20 half marathon, ~6:50 marathon) and have fun and take lots of photos along the way, so don't expect any blistering splits from this runner.

Alternatively, you may be able to see the updated race split times for me here! I've signed up this blog to receive updates via email too, so if there are some weird entries showing up.... that's why!

Happy winter solstice!

Today has the shortest daylight of the year 2005. So that means we've finally turned the corner and we'll have more daylight for the next six months! Hooray!

Happy day to all my pagan buddies! Let's dance around that decorated tree in your living room wildly to celebrate Saturnalia, an accordance with the millenia-old rites! Oh, or are you politically correct, and you wish to re-name that tree a "Christmas tree"? Revisionist! It was really a holiday tree to start out with!!! :-)

War on Christmas? What war on Christmas!?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

One place I won't be swimming


1000m in 19 minutes by Brit Lewis Pugh

I'd swim that fast, too, if I was in 32*F water and didn't want to die instantaneously.

The wet spot

Perhaps some of you more experienced parents can explain this to me.

My daughter Elisabeth has learned to take her pants off. So she does it. FREQUENTLY. Like, whenever I'm out of the room.

Today I came downstairs, and she had her pants off, AND her diapers also off. Plus there was a little suspicious wet spot in the carpet.

PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS PROPENSITY TO ME. I'm having a hard time understanding it.

And no, she has no discernible interest in being toilet trained, so you can just forget that idea.

The hardest part of training

The hardest part of training, for me, is getting out that front door. Once I do that, everything usually goes fine. It's just that one step over my own threshold that holds me back, often.

Today was one of those days. I was all set to go to the club to do my swim. I was all packed and ready, clothes laid out.

BUT I woke up and looked at that clock at 4 AM, then 5 AM, then 6AM, and soon it was too late to swim (before my husband leaves for work) and time to get my lazy carcass up and feed the girls.

I really need to start making a point of getting in bed earlier on a regular basis and getting my sleep cycle moved back a little so it's easier for me to haul my butt out of bed in the morning.

That Ironman finish depends on it! Count it as part of my training plan!

Oh, and speaking of the PLAN - in response to some questions - yes, I do have a plan for my training for the next ten months, but all the details are not typed in to the computer. I'll post about it some time soon. It's framed around five macro cycles over my full 50 weeks of training, the first of which concludes with my upcoming Goofy races.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Then again ... it IS a big deal

While the Ironman triathlon may not be a Big Deal in the grand scheme of things, I do admit that it's a Big Deal to me personally. As it is to anyone who starts along the journey to become an Ironman.

Perhaps it's the necessity of signing up a full year in advance to get a slot in one of the official Ironman (tm) triathlons. Perhaps it's the mystique which has developed around the name Ironman. Perhaps it's the magnitude of the journey - not only the 140.6 miles one must traverse on the day itself, but also the the journey to simply get to the starting line.

I'm sure I'll be writing about this in bits and pieces as the coming year progresses, but a few thoughts for now....

I do not have confidence that I will be able to finish the course within the cutoffs. No, it's not simple paranoia or insecurity. How about a hard, cold look at the facts?

  • The longest swim I have ever done in my entire life was last June, in which I swam 1.2 miles in 82 minutes, and finished exhausted. At Ironman Florida I'll have to swim that same distance in 65 to 70 minutes, maximum. Then get right back in the water and do it again. If I don't, the race officials will meet me at the swim exit and politely tell me to pack up my bike stuff and go home. What's more, in order to finish the day, I need to come out of the water feeling nicely warmed up, not substantially fatigued.
  • The longest bike ride I have ever done in my entire life was that very same day, 56 miles, which took me 3:55 (14.2 mph). I'll have to do double that distance at Ironman Florida at the same speed or faster. Plus I'll be doing it after already swimming 2.4 miles.
  • Then after all that - complete a marathon. In about 6:30 or faster, in order to finish by the midnight cutoff. 4 of my 8 standalone marathons were even slower than that, without a swim and bike leg preceding them.
  • And oh yeah, by the way, I'm 48 years old and fat. And not very energetic.
Ironman is a demanding taskmaster, and I won't be able to fake it on race day. I'll have to be ready to handle it, through and through, down to my core, or I won't make it.

Actually (outside of the swim) the hardest part for me won't be doing the distance. It will be doing the distance inside of the time limits. If I could just go at my casual walk/run or casual cycling pace, I don't have much doubt at all that I'd finish. It would just take me about 20 hours!!

Unlike some faster athletes, I'm not going to drop out early and DNF because my time will be slow, as long as I have a realistic shot at the cutoff. My time will *always* be slow. I won't stop unless they make me, or I've injured myself. I'm quite confident in that, after all the races that I've done WAY at the back of the pack - it won't shake me up and rattle me mentally to be at the back of the pack in Florida, because that's where I always am!!

I'm also reasonably certain that I won't stop on course because I've bonked, run out of energy, gotten heat stroke, lost confidence, started vomiting, gotten angry, gotten hyponatremia, missed an aid station, or developed other adverse symptoms, because I've done enough tough, long races to learn how to keep an eye on such potential problems and to head them off before they've gone too far. I may go (even more) slowly because of problems like that, but I probably won't stop.

Then there's the other aspects which I won't belabor right now - things like getting up hours early on a couple hundred days over the next year to whip my body into shape. The pain of training hard. The untold hours my husband will contribute by watching our girls when I'm out training. The hours and days that I will miss from my family or other interests because of my triathlon activities. I don't count them as sacrifices - they are the logical result of my choice to take on this challenge for myself. It's part of the deal - they come with the territory. To complain about them would be complaining about my own decision, wouldn't it?

And there are the intangible rewards to think about. Bragging rights. The learning process. The results of the daily confrontations with Self that it will take to travel the entire road to the finish line. The process of setting a goal that I truly don't know if I can accomplish, but breaking it down into a million bite-sized pieces until just maybe I can handle it.

To paraphrase a famous motto:

Let me become an Ironman. But if I cannot become an Ironman, let me be brave in the attempt.

Okay, Ironman is a Big Deal for those of us who take it on. I just don't expect any non-triathlete to give a rat's ass about it. :-)

Holiday fun links

Create a snowflake!

Track Santa along with NORAD!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Goofy weather

Always thinking ahead, that Nancy!
Here's the climate data for Orlando, January 7-9:

Average High Temperature is 71 F, historical range 51 F to 84 F
Average Low Temperature is 51 F, historical range 33 F to 71 F
There is a 0% chance of a Hot Day (temperature over 90°F) (0 days out of 27 in historical record).
There is a 81% chance of a Warm Day (temperature over 60°F) (22 days out of 27 in historical record).
There is a 0% chance of a Freezing Day (temperature below 32°F) (0 days out of 27 in historical record).

Average Daily Precipitation is 0.07, historical range 0.00 to 0.43
There is a 30% chance of a Precipitation Day (8 days out of 27 in historical record).
Most consecutive days found in historic record: 2

Average Cloud Cover is mostly sunny
There is a 19% chance of a Cloudy Day (5 days out of 27 in historical record).

Average Wind is 6 mph, historical range 0 mph to 18 mph
There is a 22% chance of a Windy Day (average wind over 10 mph) (6 days out of 27 in historical record).

High Dew Point is 57 F, historical range 35 F to 72 F
Average Low Dew Point is 46 F, historical range 18 F to 66 F
There is a 59% chance of a Humid Day (dew point over 65°F) (16 days out of 27 in historical record).
There is a 7% chance of a Sweltering Day (dew point over 70°F) (2 days out of 27 in historical record).


Guess what? I managed to break my brand new little camera. The wrist strap slipped off and I dropped it, and now the lens doesn't extend right and I get error messages and it doesn't operate at all. It really shouldn't be that fragile for an aluminum-clad piece of equipment, to stop working completely from a ~12-inch fall, but I guess I've learned that it is. Back to Sony service it goes on Monday, dammit! I hope they can turn it around fast and get it back to me before I go to Disneyworld, but I sure doubt that I'll be that lucky.

I'm also in trouble for Goofy, probably. I think getting those three PRs in a row recently was not a good thing for my race preparation, because it's made me feel overconfident and dulled that respect for the distance that's so important for maintaining a training edge (at least for me). I'm going to do far fewer races in 2006 than in 2005, and try to keep my focus on the routine training process and not on the racing.

Today was my longest run since the half marathon on December 3, and I only got in about 9.5 miles (after spending far too long on the phone with Sony Customer Support). At the end of my out-and-back, I timed myself along the hilly 5K course that I did last summer in 34:52. Today's time was 38:53 - slow for me for a 5K, but okay for my shuffling marathon pace. I won't be holding even that 12:32 min/mile pace for the full 1.6 marathons that I'm going to be doing at Disneyworld, I'm quite certain!

It's just another triathlon

Brian put it into words much better than I could.

Ironman is just a triathlon. A long one, to be sure. Easier for some who are blessed with natural endurance, and harder for others who are not. The finish line is not a confirmation that you're a superior person. It's not achieving nirvana. It's not being named to the Supreme Court, or being knighted, or receiving a cardinal's hat. It doesn't make you a Nice Person or even one worthy of a huge amount of respect and admiration. It doesn't earn you a million dollars or a place among the stars. It's not a validation of your existence here on this earth.

It's not even essential for becoming a "Real Triathlete", whatever that is. It may be your own personal Mt. Everest, but you know what? It's not really climbing Mt. Everest (that is, at least not until ~50,000 people are summiting Everest every year). It's not discovering a cure for cancer, and it's not saving people from burning buildings, either.

It's a long triathlon that earns you a $5 medal at the finish line and the title "Ironman". That's pretty much IT!

That's enough for me! And if I cross that finish line next November, along with a couple thousand other folks, I'll thank the volunteers for being out there all day for us, and I'll be pleased and thankful that I was able to become fit enough to do it, and grateful that the support of my husband gave me enough free time (and financial wherewithal) to accomplish it. And then I'll be off to some other project and some other race.

But in the meantime, my readers are going to be slogging through the ten months of self-obsessed training that it will take to get this lazy old carcass ready for the starting line. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

If, after this year is done, and I achieve my goal, and I casually mention at a cocktail party that "By the way, did I happen to mention I'm an Ironman?" you all have permission to slap me.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

W&OD Trail and Four Mile Run: Urban Trail Photo Essay I

W&OD Trail and Four Mile Run: Urban Trail Photo Essay II

Christmas tags

I still haven't responded to being tagged, in keeping with my slacker ways. But I like to read all the very personal details that are being posted around the blogs!

Here's my very favorite Christmas song - because it's so painfully bittersweet. It usually makes me cry when I hear it -- only the poignant original Judy Garland version, first released in the darkest depths of World War II in 1943, when millions of families were separated for the duration, and doubtlessly wondering if they would ever see their loved ones again:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light
From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas, make the yuletide gay,
From now on our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more.

Through the years we all will be together, if the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.

And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Update: My Mom corrected me on the release date for the movie Meet Me In St. Louis, in which the song first appeared. It came out in 1944. She would know! Curiously, it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song - for "The Trolley Song". Huh? But it won an ASCAP award in 1989 for "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".

Friday, December 16, 2005

New camera

I just wanted to show you how teensy my new little camera is. It would have to have fur and a wagging tail to be any cuter. It weighs next to nothing, and fits right in my hand or on a strap around my neck. It's going to be great to use it in races!

And yes, that's my entire remaining allowance for the year.

More Christmas Light Run

More great photos courtesy of *jeanne*. She posted more great shots of the event on her blog. Holly's hat cracked me up!

*Jeanne* also, by the way, is the proud possessor of a Goofy hat. Just thought you should know. And I know, my Elmer Fudd hat isn't the most fetching chapeau on the boulevard either, but it sure is WARM!

Straight from the darkroom

Here are the first couple trial photos off the new camera. I *thought* I set the time correctly.... Catherine is still not feeling well and didn't care to deal with the paparazzi. Some of the camera reviews crticized this model for having a weak flash, but it seems fine to me for close-ups! The exposures are great!

Elisabeth is a little Curly Top straight from her bath. She got her bangs cut a little by Mom tonight - her hair was getting in her eyes and making a cute little topknot was not a happy solution as far as Elisabeth was concerned.

Joys of parenting

Question for you veteran parents out there: What's the best thing for cleaning up Kid Barf? Yup, by Catherine, on the couch cushions. Apparently she wasn't kidding about really, really hating the nasty taste of the Baby Tylenol with Sudafed. Yes, we tried Febreze. The barf laughed at Febreze.

I got my new digital camera! It is SO SO SO TINY!! I'll have to take one last photo with the old clunker digital camera just to show you how cute and miniscule the new one is.

Got a lot of presents wrapped today. This year Santa and Mom and Dad happen to have the same kind of wrapping paper, but that's going to have to change next year. Santa's going to have to buy his own damn wrapping paper then.

Got in a nice swim today, too. Well, any swim in which I don't drown is a nice one. I got in the water and decided I wasn't going to get out for an hour. I can do anything for just an hour, right? 1800m all told, which I think is my longest since Eagleman last June. My 200m freestyle was down to a sizzling 5:47. By next March 2000m is supposed to feel like my easy regular baseline swim-it-in-my-sleep distance. Huh, that'll be the day. Although it sure would be nice to do a triathlon and not come out of the water exhausted already, just once. I wonder how that would feel.

I got tagged but I'm too lazy to organize a response so far. Hey, I told you I was a slacker. You didn't believe me?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Avatars II

I'm glad I didn't put mine in my sidebar! I messed my original one up, trying to make an avatar of my husband. I need a sailboat or an airplane in the background, though....

Shoe lacing

Fe-lady just reminded me of this definitive site on shoe-lacing and shoe-tying knots. I had it bookmarked, but haven't looked at it in a long time. An essential resource for runners! I'll have to lace the new bigger shoes with the special non-slippage "Lock-lacing" pattern.

One size too big - or not?

About my new shoes: I accidentally ordered them (whoops!) one size too big. BUT! They fit great! Who knew!? My foot slips just a bit, but there's tons more room for my toes now. I've been thinking of trying a larger size shoe to help deal with foot swelling and toenail bruising during marathons, but I'm not certain that I'll actually trust these for a marathon until I go in a very long run in them.

As it just so happens, I'm supposed to do a long run this weekend.

In other news

I just got my plaque from the NY City Marathon! I know, it's a walking photo at the end of the course, but I look like I'm having fun. That's what it's all about, right?

I just ordered a Total Immersion DVD as a Christmas present to myself, as per Benny's recommendation to Cliff - good call! Go over and throw a few comments his way, he's pleading desperately for them and it's just way too pathetic.

Bah, now my daughter Catherine seems to be getting sick, just as Elisabeth is fully recovered from her cold. Poor thing. Clingy and coughing.

Christmas Light Run

We had SO MUCH FUN!! Me, Holly, *jeanne* (thanks for the photo above), Jeanne (wonderful to meet you in person!), and about 200 other runners took to the streets and sidewalks of Washington, DC last night for a 4.3-mile jaunt in our finest holiday running gear.

We gathered at Union Station to get our packets of carol lyrics, then headed outside for final instructions and a rousing rendition of "Jingle Bells". We ran past the Capitol, all lit up as beautiful as it is every night. Then down the National Mall and past the major Smithsonian museums over to the Ellipse by the White House, where we had some more carols by the National Christmas Tree. Then back over toward the starting point, stopping for a moving tribute to fallen police officers at the Blue Christmas Tree across the street from the National Law Officers Memorial. We ended up at Kelly's Irish Times pub for candy canes and a yummy Irish coffee (thanks, Holly!).

Even though I was bringing up the rear most of the evening, it was still a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays! Bravo to the organizers for an excellent evening!

(Photo by Holly)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Goofy hat

Everything is getting Goofy around here. Remember the Goofy hat I bought on eBay? It just arrived today.

It's freaking ENORMOUS. Like 18 inches tall!! And the ears are about a foot long! I'm not sure what I expected (like, a small discreet Goofy hat?) but this is HUGE! I tried to get my girls to try it on for the camera, but they were AFRAID of it.

Just to show the MASSIVE SCALE of this thing, here it is juxtaposed on the full front page of today's newspaper.

I'm not sure I can stand to wear it running, either. It actually fits my massive head reasonably well! If I can stand it, I'll wear it for the half marathon. Maybe that will help me keep a slower pace than I'd normally start out. More wind resistance, and all.

I'm a slacker

I like Bolder's post today. Just to echo what he said:

I'm a slacker. I'm fundamentally lazy. I don't blog to brag. One of the biggest reasons that I blog nearly every day is to prod myself to get in some kind of daily workout. As anyone who checks my right sidebar knows, I usually get done only about 50-75% of the workouts that I have planned.

  • If you think you train harder than me, you're certainly correct.
  • If you think you're more serious and dedicated and motivated than me about triathlon - BINGO! You're right on target.
  • If you think you walk the walk while I only talk the talk -- again, you're right on the money.
  • Most especially, if you think you're leaner and more fit and faster than I am - I can guarantee that you most certainly are.

It's still amazing to me when I do anything at all. There have been months and years in my life where I did nothing physical whatsoever.

Sometimes I have to force myself not think too much past today's workout. It's too overwhelming to me to think of the whole year of workouts ahead of me. I get tired just thinking about it.

I'm just trying to get to the next mile marker in the race. That's all. That's ahead of where I am right now. As long as I keep moving in the proper direction, I'll get there eventually.