Tuesday, May 31, 2005
On May 1, 2005 I posted: May goals
Swimming: 6500 yards
Cycling: 150 miles
Running: 65 miles
Include: Complete five consecutive days of double workouts; 10 days on vacation (to be truthful, I'm not sure this is compatible with the swimming and cycling goals); then my first international distance triathlon
May actual totals:
Swimming: 6048 yards (93% of planned, 103% of April, less than one workout from target)
Cycling: 91.4 miles (only 60% of planned, 83% of April, not good!)
Running: 40.2 miles (only 61% of planned, 80% of April, also not good!)
7 days of brick workouts in 2 disciplines, but none consecutive.
10 days on vacation.
Finished my first Olympic distance triathlon.
Here, I'll just say what you're probably thinking: Q: How the heck are you going to do a half ironman on that kind of miserable biking and running mileage, girl? A: Any way I can.
Finish half Ironman distance triathlon.
That's the only goal that I'm putting down in concrete for June - it's too late now to do much training for Eagleman, and I don't want to make the mistake of trying to make up for lost time at the last minute. I'll reassess my summer workout goals some time after June 12th. Actually, June 13th is when my fall marathon training begins, so I'm going to have to start ratcheting up the running numbers during the summer! I'll also have to decide what summer and fall triathlons or cycling events I want to enter, if any. I've already got the Baltimore Marathon (October 15) and the New York City Marathon (November 6) on the fall calendar.
I know lots of folks hit their training mileage/yardage goals like clockwork, and do their training plans to the letter. I'm not one of those people, I have come to learn. But I can certainly do better in meeting my goals than I have this month. I've been doing my workouts "on the fly" instead of planning them carefully on the calendar, which could help.
Perhaps another June goal should be to carefully and realistically plan my July workouts?
I really was quite impressed with the organization of this triathlon - very high on my "recommended" list for people like me who enjoy a well-run event and are driven nuts by a disorganized event. Kudos to RD "Vigo" and all the volunteers!
Now I'm REALLY looking forward to getting that Eagleman medal! It's organized by the same folks, so it should be equally a high-quality event with medals that ROCK! (They don't call me "Medal Ho" for nothing). And as much as I like this medal, it's MUCH more fun to actually get it at the finish line and be able to wear it around. If I get that half Ironman medal in 2 weeks, it's entirely possible that it may not come off my neck for about a week.
Monday, May 30, 2005
And it hasn't made me any thinner. I'm eating more to compensate. And "reward" myself. And console myself when I'm sore. (The grilled steak and portabello mushrooms last night were magnificent, by the way).
And slow? Well, the numbers don't lie. Three one-mile repeats on the track today:
At this rate I'll be doing GREAT if I do that last half marathon run at Eagleman in anything under 3 hours.
Whatever it takes! I'll get there when I get there. Just as long as they still have a medal waiting for me at that finish line....
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Things that I must remember before Eagleman:
- Don't let anyone tell you differently: 56 miles is a long freaking way on a bike.
- More sunblock on forearms. In aero position they're perpendicular to the sun. Duh.
- Adjust derailleur so the gears don't slip.
- You NEED to wear your real bike shorts, not some flimsy tri-suit. Trust me on this.
- Lube, lube, lube.
- Cutout saddles rule.
- Even saddles that fit well require time to get accustomed.
- Wind at your back never sufficiently compensates for headwinds.
- Flat terrain rules.
- If you have 3 bottles and 3 bottle cages, and use one hand to steer, there's no way to swap around the empties without either stopping or dropping a bottle.
- Cut up Powerbars melt into a solid mass on a hot day. Don't bother cutting them up.
- Those big-ring piercings on the back of your right calf are going to make a really cool scar one day.
- Shelley cycles 5 hours in a day and calls it "beautiful". Shelley is a stud and is going to Kona. You're no Shelley.
- You'll never be a hot cyclist as long as the kid biking to work in his waiter clothes (long-sleeved white shirt, long black pants) and full backpack can blow right past you.
- Saintsbury Pinot Noir rules.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
The girls celebrate their second birthday next week on June 1st. We'll probably also celebrate their "Due Date Birthday", August 20th, this year again too.
We got out of our cars, introduced ourselves, and I was able to start putting a few faces together with the names of folks I had seen on the CMS email list and other local triathlete email lists. Everyone was as welcoming and friendly as could be! Triathletes often seem to be a pretty laid-back bunch when they don't have their race faces on. I had seen some photos of a few of the folks in a feature article in a local newspaper the day before, so that made it easier recognizing them.
We worked our way into our wetsuits (except for one intrepid woman who had been on swim teams since 6 years of age, and seemed accustomed to swimming in just a regular swimsuit in cold conditions). Jude Apple introduced himself and gave us directions on the 0.9-mile course they had set up, complete with kayak, jetski, and boat support. It was almost exactly like the Eagleman swim, except a little shorter, our wave had only about 20 friendly people in it, and there was no race-day hubbub and nerves. We waded out on the nice sandy bottom and started our swim.
I took to the water, in the back of the pack as always. It was chilly, probably about 68 degrees, close to the air temperature. Fortunately there was no wind and the water was quiet. And as always, the pack quickly pulled away from me and I swam along on my own. I felt much more relaxed than on race day and was fairly comfortable in the water, despite having cold arms in my old cheapie Body Glove wetsuit. My breathing was still fairly fast from exertion, but it never got into the red zone, and I was able to alternate between freestyle and breast stroke fairly easily. The brackish water, while somewhat salty, didn't taste bad or bother me, and it was quite clear compared to Centennial Lake which I swam in for the Columbia Triathlon. I had no problem putting my face in the water for 10 freestyle strokes or so, but I didn't push myself hard to keep going longer than that. I wanted to stay relaxed and comfortable in the water and have a Good Swim in the books.
I only went out to the second buoy, instead of following the pack all the way out, and probably only swam 700 or 800 yards, but that was enough to get a good feel for the conditions and a reasonable swim without wearing myself out. I was also having a little problem with a pulled muscle near my left hip, which I hope will be gone in another few days.
My major problem, typical for open water swims, was keeping a straight line in my swimming and correctly sighting landmarks. I have to learn to pick out a tall landmark like a tall tree or radio tower at the head of each turn and use that as I'm going along, instead of trying to get up high enough in the water to spot the buoy each time.
I got out of the water feeling pretty good, which is exactly, precisely what I needed. Some of the folks were going on to bike or run workouts, but I just said my goodbyes and thanked everyone before I went over to check out the transition area a little more closely, and then headed home for the day. I'll do my final long hard swim, bike, and run workouts before the race in the next few days, but for today I just wanted it to end on a positive note.
As long as we don't have high winds and waves on race day, my prediction after today's good experience is that my swim for Eagleman will be slow and steady, and while it may feel long and tiring, I'll FINISH it and go on to complete the half Ironman course in two weeks and GET MY MEDAL!
Thank you again, all you great folks from Cambridge Multi-Sports, for setting up this marvelous training day and helping me along the way toward reaching my goal.
On a totally different subject - my new wetsuit - my friend Kathy said it was good I was getting my own so that I wouldn't have to swim in somebody else's pee in the rented wetsuit. Ewwww. You know, that never even occurred to me.
Since that's not due to arrive for another few days, I'm off this morning for a practice swim in my old cheapie cutoff-sleeves Body Glove surfing wetsuit with the good folks from Cambridge Multi-Sport. Will report in later!
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Several people have asked me why I selected a 2-piece wetsuit. The DeSoto Sports website lists their reasons for promoting theirs, including:
- Less restriction from tugging
- No neck zipper
- Customize your fit with different sized tops and bottoms
- Lower, less constrictive neckline
- I like being able to use either a sleeveless vest or longsleeve with the bibs
- I like how the bibs are made in a different, more buoyant material than the tops
- The bibs can be worn without the top in warmer water
I don't have much experience in this, so mostly I went on people's recommendations. I remain a bit concerned about the fit, since I don't exactly have the lean, lanky physique of your average buff triathlete. I've heard really good things about DeSoto T1 wetsuits, and lots of experienced triathletes particularly recommended DeSoto's customer service. I was encouraged that after I ordered my wetsuit, they immediately sent me an email requesting my measurements so that they can verify which size tops and bottoms should fit me best. I'll post a review here after I've had a chance to practice with my new wetsuit a while.
Please join us there, whether or not you have a blog! Everyone is welcome!
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
So I asked her, "How much gear do I need to buy to get myself up to average speeds?"
Today, as part of the get-faster plan, I ordered a new wetsuit. I told my husband that I would get hypothermia and DROWN if I didn't get one, and our daughters would be Momless, so finally he was beaten into submission. (Actually, he was very sympathetic). Here it is, a DeSoto T1 Black Pearl 2-piece triathlon wetsuit:
Won't that look hard-core, like a Bond Girl or Catwoman? Actually I'm merely hoping that it will help prevent some of the problems that I experienced in my sucky swim at the Columbia Triathlon, namely being short of breath and feeling like my throat and chest were being constricted.
I'm also going for a practice open water swim in Cambridge, Maryland on Saturday in the Choptank River near the site for the Eagleman Triathlon, organized by Jude Apple and some of our kindly local Eastern Shore triathlete neighbors. Water temperatures there look like they're bouncing between 65*F and 70*F. Plus now I'll be able to practice in the outdoor pools - starting this coming weekend they're finally open and they're going to be COLD!
Hopefully those two steps will help alleviate some of my swim issues.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
SWIM 1500m: 48:15
SWIM TO BIKE TRANSITION: 5:36
BIKE 41 km: 1:50:02
BIKE TO RUN TRANSITION: 2:45
RUN 10 km: 1:20:21
Athenas 40+: 4/5 finishers
Women: 366/382 finishers
Overall: 1205/1227 finishers
Long, long report from the back of the pack:
Bob Mina describes the Columbia Triathlon as “one of the most well run races in the country” as well as “the toughest Olympic Distance Race in the country”. Bob knows triathlons. He also describes the course in detail very accurately; so I won’t attempt to provide a full course description.
I finished Columbia as my first Olympic Distance Triathlon last Sunday. If it wasn’t the toughest in the country, I’m sure it would take me a long, long, long time to finish the toughest. I’m using Columbia as a preparatory event for my “A” race at Cambridge, Maryland three weeks later, Eagleman Half Ironman, and it provided me with a real trial by fire. Hopefully I emerged from the flame as tempered steel and not as a useless molten blob, but we’ll see about that in a few weeks.
This is how my day went.
Up at 4:15, just before the alarm went off. Have some coffee and a muffin and get the last of my things ready and out the door and on the road for the 45 miles to the race site.
I hadn’t realized that transition setups needed to be completed by 7AM, but fortunately I got in and parked, pumped my bike tires, and got my transition supplies arranged in place with plenty of time. Then I went to watch the earlier waves starting, get some last-minute nutrition and hydration, struggle into my rented long-sleeved wetsuit, and obsess.
The swim worried me – 1500 meters, or 0.93 miles, in Centennial Lake. I knew it would be the most challenging part of the whole day. It was my first real open-water distance swim. I had done a grand total of 14 training swims in the pool this year, not nearly enough, and while I had swum the full 1500 meter distance with a freestyle stroke in the pool for 5 of those workouts, and completed a sprint triathlon pool swim all freestyle stroke 5 weeks ago, I’m still a weak swimmer with inefficient form. Mostly I lack confidence in myself – I was afraid that I would panic and bail out and head for the shore instead of finishing. While the weather for the day was absolutely perfect (little wind, high of 72), the water was a chilly 68. Just after 8 AM the other ladies in my wave (my division, Athenas with a body weight of 150 and over, along with women 30-34, all wearing dark green caps) got in the water, with teeth chattering from nerves and the cold.
The gun sounded at 8:08, I started my watch timer, and we were off. I stayed far off to the outside, hugging the shore, to avoid blocking any of the fast swimmers and to stick to an area that felt safe – close to the nearest available exit option. Since like most of the swimmers I hadn’t had any warmup, I started as planned with an easy breaststroke to get myself accustomed to the water and let my muscles warm up. However, immediately I found myself in big trouble: I was breathing hard, way way too hard, and I could tell that my heart rate had gone through the roof. Despite my conscious efforts to stay relaxed, my body decided it was in desperate survival mode and launched a full-blown panic response.
This was bad. I was hyperventilating and could feel myself tiring quickly, my heart racing. It was something I had anticipated as a possibility, and I tried to react calmly and sensibly and kept going forward as well as I could under the circumstances. However, Body wasn’t listening to Mind. I was breathing so fast that I couldn’t keep my face under water for an entire stroke of freestyle – I needed more air than that! All I could do was concentrate on relaxing, make deep inhalations, and try to slow my breathing, while doing the breaststroke or sidestroke, keeping up a relentless forward progression.
Perhaps it was the novel situation of being in the open water in a triathlon. Perhaps it was the cold, murky water. Perhaps it was the unfamiliar effect of the tight rented wetsuit that seemed to constrict my neck and chest. For whatever reason, my body was not cooperating in the way it normally did in pool swims. I just couldn’t breathe slowly enough to execute a freestyle stroke with my face in the water – I had to keep my head up and breathing the air or I ended up choking and sputtering and not having enough oxygen.
Mentally I wasn’t freaked out, I wasn’t frightened, I was just annoyed and feeling a bit foolish with the way my body was reacting. I was working very hard to simply maintain some forward motion, and I used every bit of my focus just to get from one buoy to the next.
I heard the gun go off for the following waves at five minute intervals and swimmers quickly started overtaking me and passing me: the light green caps. The pink caps. Finally the white caps, which I knew was the final wave. It was entirely possible that I would be the last swimmer out of the water. I was just struggling to keep going. It seemed like an eternity passed between each buoy, and each one seemed an impossible distance away. I kept up the positive self talk: “Just keep swimming. One stroke after another. You’ll get there eventually. It could be worse - at least you don’t have the dry heaves like Ron Gilcreast did. All you have to do is keep swimming for an hour, and you’ll probably get there.” Meanwhile from hyperventilating I had the makings of a side stitch which was going to be my constant companion for the rest of the day.
I kept attempting to put my face down into the water and do a faster breaststroke. Finally after eons it was starting to work. I could look down through the water and see my hands. It wasn’t so murky. I could swim a little ways and take a stroke or two with my face submerged. Finally, FINALLY I was warming out of my breathing problems and my body was settling into a rhythm, after fully ¾ of the swim distance was over. At last I was able to take a few freestyle strokes and speed up a bit, first 5 in a row before I was forced to break for air again - then 10, then 15. I could see the balloon arch ahead of me, and the swimmers ahead of me approaching the shore for their finish. Can it be possible? Will I really finish this thing?
YES!!!! At long last I found myself standing up on the muddy bottom, struggling to my feet and staggering happily under the balloon arch. I had done it! I had achieved my biggest goal of the day - surviving the swim - and I suddenly knew that I would finish the triathlon. It may take me a long time, and I may be exhausted at the end, and I may be last, but my major doubts were gone.
I was amazed to see that there were still a few people coming out of the water with me at the same time. I glanced at my watch. 48 minutes? I wouldn’t have been surprised if my watch had read an hour and a half. I later found out that there had been 20 people out of 1249 starters that were slower than me on the swim. I applaud them - I truly don’t know how they managed it.
I walked up the grassy hill, regained some balance, and tugged off the top of my wetsuit. I was delighted to be on dry land again. I may have even broken into a trot as I headed back to get my bike, Buttercup. I sat down briefly on my crate to strip off the legs of my wetsuit, had a curious bout of dizziness – uhoh! I took a moment to chug some Gatorade, and fortunately that spell passed quickly. I put on my bike shoes, helmet, and sunglasses, and took Buttercup up the steep hill out of the transition area and over the timing mats.
I was overjoyed to be out on the road on the bike. While that side stitch stayed with me, nevertheless I had a sense of a fresh start to the day. I settled into a rhythm on the road heading away from the park, getting accustomed to the feel of the bike and working on bringing my pedaling cadence up. After a couple of miles came the first nice long descent. I tried to work up some speed and take advantage of gravity.
Then came the hills. Hill after hill after hill. The scenery was lovely, the mansions impressive, the grazing cattle delightful, the weather was perfect, but the hills were wicked, grinding, and merciless. Going up each one in the lowest gear was painful hard work, and the downhills (although fun, I hit a top speed of 39.3 mph) far too short to provide any respite. Hill, hill, HILL. Hill, HILL, hill. Hell. From living and training in the flatlands, I simply didn’t have the legs to be climbing hills like these repeatedly.
Finally something had to give. About halfway through the course, at the base of the steepest climb of the day, my chain popped off. I was actually glad to have the excuse to dismount and rest my legs for just a minute. I quickly replaced the chain, but since I didn’t think I’d actually be able to get clipped in and started again going uphill on a slope that steep, I took the opportunity to stretch my back and walk up to the crest of the hill before re-mounting. It may have cost me 6 to 8 minutes, but it freshened my legs for a few moments of the return trip.
The hills were equally difficult on the way back, but now we had the added challenge of working with seriously fatigued legs. Little worries started to creep into my mind about the run to follow, but I quickly pushed them out and yanked my mind back into the moment and focused on the task at hand and keeping my speed up. After every few hills I made a point of gulping down as much Gatorade as I could manage and I even managed to ingest a couple of Powergels and electrolyte caps along the way. I was able to do a slick exchange of water bottles in motion at the aid station, and was proud of myself for that maneuver.
Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly force myself up another hill, I came to the turn for the home stretch back to the park. I spun down the last couple of miles, chewed up and spit out by that bike course. I stopped against the cyclone fence and used it to steady myself as I dismounted on shaky legs.
I walked carefully down the steep, slippery grass hill into the transition area, put Buttercup in the bike rack, pulled off my bike shoes, pulled on my running shoes, clipped on my belt with my race number, put down my helmet and picked up my sun visor, and trotted down the hill.
The run course starts with a bang with a switchback up a steep hill. While my legs didn’t feel too bad, my whole body lacked the energy to muster more than a slow jog along most of the run course and a powerwalk up the steepest hills. As soon as I realized that I would have to walk up some hills on the course, I glanced at my watch and realized that a sub-4-hour finish was out the window. Then I had to stop, sit down, and remove a rock from my shoe. The course seemed to have a lot of twists, turns, ups and downs, winding along paths in the park and through residential areas and then back into the park. In the first few miles I kept trying to drink as much Gatorade as I could at each aid station, always thanked the volunteers, and kept moving forward.
Back out of the residential area into the park. A half mile from the finish to my surprise I came across my marathoner friend *jeanne*, who had made the trip over to the park and a big sign just to cheer me on. She offered me water and orange slices, but in between huffs and puffs I thanked her for coming but explained that I couldn’t accept assistance or pacing from her or I could be disqualified. So instead she trotted around me and ran ahead and back to take pictures of me.
Finally after one last little uphill there it was! The finish line! In slow motion I “sprinted” in, threw my arms in the air at the finish line, and celebrated finishing my first Olympic distance triathlon. What a journey, indeed! They had run out of medals, but they’ll send me one later. Jeanne and I sat for a while to cheer the final finishers across the line, then walked back over to the lake to take one last celebratory photo with my trusty Buttercup and called it a day. On to Eagleman!
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Nancy and Buttercup after successfully completing their first Olympic-distance triathlon together! (In the style of Jessi Stensland and Sharon Donnelly).
Here I am today getting close to the finish line (finally!):
Both photos courtesy of my great friend *jeanne*. Thank you, *jeanne*!
This race KICKED MY BUTT!! Those hills are freaking RELENTLESS!! (See very accurate course description here.) But I finished, and after I digest the experience a bit, I think it will give me more confidence for my (blessedly flat) Eagleman Half IM coming up in 3 weeks.
Here are my watch times:
Swim 1640 yards/1500m: 48:16 (pace: 2:56/100 yards)
Bike 25.5 miles/41 km: 1:49:45 (pace: 13.9 mph)
Run 6.2 miles/10 km: 1:20:23 (pace: 12:57 min/mile)
Long report and maybe even some photos to follow soon. Thanks for checking in on me!
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Yesterday I picked up my rental long-sleeve wetsuit - I'm still not positive that it fits, but I've got a short sleeve wetsuit of my own as a backup. I was just afraid the water would be too cold to tolerate in short sleeves! I'll try it on later tonight so I don't have any nasty surprises in the morning.
Today I first drove over to the host hotel and picked up my race packet. Nice goodies, including a sort of backpack/mesh transition bag, full color t-shirt, water bottle, etc. There was a lot of stuff on sale in the expo section and I couldn't resist buying a couple of cute "Columbia Triathlon"embroidered denim outfits for my twin daughters, too.
Then I went over to the transition area - my bike and helmet went through inspection well (as I had expected, since they're both new!), and fortunately I got there before there were long lines. Set Buttercup on the designated rack in Wave 9 of12, put a bag over the seat and the computer mounting, and left her there. There seemed to be good security in the area and a small army of volunteers - I was fairly impressed by the level of organization!
Then over to Centennial Lake to check out the swim. The swim start is quite a long way from the bike rack area, so I made a mental note to bring a pairof throwaway shoes for the walk in the morning (fortunately, I have some old running shoes already carefully stored in the garbage can in my bedroom).
Centennial Park where the race is set is GORGEOUS - a well-manicured facility with modern buildings and paved paths looping around the lake. It's stocked with largemouth bass and rainbow trout - hmm, I'm not sure I wanted to know that. ;-) The swim looked LOOONNNNG to my novice eye, of course - a row of a dozen buoys down the center of a long long lake. The course loops around the sides of the lake, though, and you're never more than 50 yards from shore, so that looked fairly reassuring. I wondered idly (I am NOT going to do this tomorrow) if it's legal to go through the starting line and then just run around the outside of the lake, and then just swim across it the short way to the finish? You'd still go the correct way around all the buoys.... Hmm. The swim exit is just down the hill from the bike rack area, but it looks like a fairly long distance between the timing mats, so I'm sure my transitions will be long tomorrow. (Yes, checking women's transitions from last year, median times were 3 to 6 min for T1, 2 to 4 min for T2).
I practiced the course route back through transition, stopping at my bike,and then out the bike exit. Then I got in my minivan and did a tour of the course. It's beautiful - winding through rolling countryside in a very affluent area midway between Washington, DC and Baltimore that is the transition between mini-mansions and small gentleman's farms. Lots of pretty four-rail fence on both the estates and the farms. The whole course rolls up and down, but I saw only perhaps two hills that were steep enough that they should be quite strenuous to get up tomorrow, and none that made me think I'd have to get off and walk, fortunately. Several cyclists were previewing the course, but if I did that I'm sure my legs would be toast tomorrow. It looked like beautiful roads for a bike ride - although I won't have much time to soak up the scenery tomorrow!
On the return trip (after getting lost once) I stopped at a convenience store to pick up a soda and found a triathlete there with a broken-down bike and gave him a ride about 8 miles back to transition. David O'Leary from Potomac, MD, in the 35-39 AG - I'll have to look up his results afterwards. I'll deposit that in the "good karma" triathlon account.
I stopped back at the Expo for a few minutes and ran into Bob Mina checking in. He made me laugh, warning me about a turn at the bottom of a steep hill where he had run into the grass in a previous edition, with full description of the volunteers scattering. He was kind and reassuring about the swim, and said I'd be out of the water in 35 minutes. If so, that would make my day! (BTW, here's his description of the Columbia course including his story of overshooting that turn).
I had planned to go to the race meeting, but found myself getting a headache (nervous tension?) and thought better of it, and headed home instead to complete my packing and preparations. I'll try to get in bed very early, because it's going to be an obscenely early wakeup with 45 miles to drive back to the race start!
The weather today was perfect, though a little gusty, and for tomorrow looks excellent as well: "Partly cloudy. Highs in the lower 70s. Northwest winds around 10 mph."
Thanks again for your positive comments and support, everyone! I'll be thinking of you along the way as I complete that 1500m swim, 41km bike, and 10km run tomorrow!
Friday, May 20, 2005
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Today she was playing with the mouse and presses it up next to her cheek and ear and says into it, in her most charming voice, "HI!" and proceeds with a long string of baby jargon into it as if she were ordering a pizza.
Then later we went to the park. After two rounds on the swings and two rounds attempting the slide (now that Catherine's developed a slight fear of heights she's a little tentative on the slide, but consented to go down in my lap), we managed to get her and Elisabeth loaded back into the double babyjogger without any screaming tantrums. Hurrah! But then I hear Catherine's little mournful voice saying as we wheeled away, "Buh-bye. Buh-bye. Buh-bye. Buh-bye."
Tri-ing in the Holy Land: http://barinirenberg.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Meanwhile, Jesper Olsen is running around the world (currently in western Canada).
And Gary and Paula are walking from London to Cape Town and blogging their story (now about to depart Spain):
Amazing to read about, but not something I have an ambition to tackle ... yet. Never say never, though!
This morning I was PSYCHED UP! I did a mini-brick. I know it's too late to do any actual training for this event - the easiest way to blow up in any race is to do too much shortly beforehand and start on race day worn out. I'm just doing some half distances at an easy pace to remind my muscles of the job that they will have to do four days from now.
First I did 3.5 miles on the treadmill at 1.5% grade, including three 0.75-mile repeats at 12 min/mile, 11 min/mile, and 12 min/mile.
Then into the pool for an easy 750m. For the first time in a long time I was GLIDING through the water, maintaining my form carefully, keeping my breathing low and calm, my elbows high, stretching out long, and using good torso rotation. Not only did it feel relatively effortless, but it decreased my stroke count by four strokes per lap when I paid close attention to my form. That doesn't happen often, but when it feels like that it's marvelous!
One more short swim, short bike, and short run and 3 or 4 good nights of sleep and it's on to race day! Thanks, everyone, for all your good wishes and encouragement! It HELPS!
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
(Incidentally, someone recently asked me what my best advice was for people getting into triathlon. My #1 recommendation would be to join TRI-DRS and read and participate in it regularly! It's a fantastic list with a wealth of support and expertise at your fingertips. I've posed numerous dumb newbie questions there and every one has been answered with great patience and courtesy - plus I've gotten tons of reassurance and kind encouragement from the veteran and pro triathletes on the list.) Volume can get high at times, and there's some back-and-forth joking, but all in good humor.
The slowest recent swim times for female finishers of the Columbia Triathlon were 45:08 (2004); 52:25 (2003); and 52:18 (2002).
The two slowest 1500m swim times that TRI-DRS people were brave enough to mention were: 44:23 (Michael); and 1:13:38 (Ron, 1999).
Now Ron, one of my heroes, went on to finish the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Kona in 2004. There is hope for all of us. :-) So Ron, I'll be thinking about you on Sunday, and if I still haven't emerged from the water after one hour and fourteen minutes (and I survive), you'll be hearing from me.
Pam's race report and the accompanying photos were a nice reminder to me about why I do triathlons. It's not every day that one gets to experience such exhilaration!
Maybe I'll just think of it as an enforced taper, like Wil's illness before her marathon.
Not to mention that I also received a Sign From God today: I laid my hands on Buttercup's front wheel sensor and lo, her bike computer was healed. Thus it shall be.
I also added the photo of me and Buttercup from our first sprint tri this season, over in the lower right-hand column. Maybe I'll make a more interesting blog header one day... hmm. I like Holly's swim-bike-run photos on her header....
Unrelated aside: Don't you just hate it when you're reading along on a blog fairly regularly, and it gets into some interesting personal details, and then you come back to it some time later and all the interesting posts have been DELETED and the whole topic dropped like a hot potato? It seems somehow unfair to blog readers, doesn't it? There oughtta be a law.
Monday, May 16, 2005
I took her up a few hills. There were a few times that we really had to had to work hard to summit the tops, standing up, grinding out those pedal strokes one by one.
At least the swim Sunday will be flat. The most common word I hear about the Columbia Triathlon bike and run courses is "challenging". Even Holly called it that. I think "challenging" really means IT'S GONNA BE UGLY.
Buttercup's bike computer isn't working. I may play with it a little tomorrow to see if I can get the sensor to work. Then again, it might be better to just ride by feel, and not obsess about the mph numbers next Sunday. It gets discouraging when the numbers dip down into the single digits too many times.
I just want to get through it and cross the finish line in one piece. After all, it's my very first Olympic-distance triathlon. ONLY 1.5 km to swim. Then ONLY 25.5 miles to bike. Then ONLY 6.2 miles to run. I ONLY have to finish to set a PR. Relentless forward progression is the key, right? Even if it takes me until Tuesday to finish.
One final load of laundry, one last charge for the laptop and a few more items stowed in Minnie's bins, and we were ready to be heading home again.
We headed south through rural New Hampshire, past the classic New England farmhouses and connected barns, away from the snow-tipped peak of Mount Washington, past the shores of Lake Winnepesaukee, and over rocky hills and greening dales until we connected with the interstate highways. Then it was highway speeds and several hours passed before we came to a stop in northeast
We ended up camping not too far from UConn at
Our last day was a lot like the outbound trip, only in reverse: back down the interstate highways, across the Hudson, around New York City without too much delay, then back down the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey. We stopped for the night at an RV campground not too far from Atlantic City, full of rigs set up for the whole summer with their patio lights strung up between the trees.
We took the girls for a short swim in the pond there, which they loved. But of course they quickly tried to go in way too deep, and they had quite a tantrum when Mean Mom and Dad decided that they were getting too cold and needed to come inside!
Back we went in the morning across the Delaware Bay via the Cape May - Lewes ferry, a much quieter ride this time. Across the flat, flat Delmarva peninsula and back at home again at our place in lovely St. Michaels on Maryland's eastern shore. Steve said that his mother always said that the best part of any trip is returning home!
Today will be consumed with cleaning out Minnie, our camper, refilling her propane, and returning her to the rental place in Annapolis. That may just be a full day's work!
Thursday, May 12, 2005
This morning I was able to start the day with a delightful run. I headed up the rural road from Gail’s house, through the thick pine woods, occasionally alongside old stone walls, and other times beside the rushing stream cascading over the boulders. I followed the road as it wound through the woods, steep and gradual uphills for thirty minutes, past two or three remote houses, then I turned around and ran back along the same route. It was peaceful and quiet most of the time. When I the occasional car approached, I could step off easily onto the soft sandy shoulder and run there comfortably for a while. It helped to get away and stretch out my legs for a few miles.
Back at Gail’s we had a long day ahead of us. She had died last October and her house had been closed up since then. It was dusty and musty and full of her things that we needed to go through, twenty years of accumulated possessions from living there as well as what she had originally brought with her. A few things that had only sentimental value we packed up to take home with us – clay bowls she had made on a potter’s wheel long ago and signed; oven mitts with moose on them, stuffed animals for the babies, colorful table linens. We also packed up a few of the smaller things we might find useful – a carpet steamer, a shovel, a set of socket wrenches, some stainless flatware and other kitchen items. Some of the larger items we might be able to use we wrote down in a list that we left there – possibly we will ship these items some day – a table and chairs, a huge sideboard. The vast majority of the things in the house had no value to us and we left alone – things like old squash rackets, ice skates, carved African wooden sculptures, odds and ends. Most of Gail’s worldly goods will probably end up going to auction and the old house eventually will be cleared out and sold.
We were able to see a few of her old friends while we were there. Jerry, an older gentleman who had served as Gail’s handyman and advisor for two decades, stopped by to see if we needed anything and to reminisce a bit in his classic New Hampshire accent. Shelley came over in between sessions of studying for her nursing exams and took a walk with Steve up the mountain where most of Gail’s ashes had been scattered. Ginger, an older lady who had taken Gail’s dog Cody, came over to visit our babies and tell stories about how well the dog was adapting to his new life with her.
The day seemed to pass quickly and soon we had done all we could manage with Gail’s possessions. It had been a somber day, going through the remnants of a life, being part of the closing of a chapter, just doing what needed to be done. It was time for us to eat dinner, get ready for bed, and prepare for our return trip home.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Technical details: We HAVE been able to receive email on the road, and your comments left on this blog, occasionally tapping into an unsecured wifi connection. THANK YOU! For some unknown reason we have been mostly unable to SEND email. So if you have emailed us and we haven’t answered, never fear, we have read your email and will catch up with our responses in about a week when we’re back home and in front of computers that usually work the way that they’re supposed to.
Getting back to our road trip story –
We woke up on Tuesday in the little family campground in the southern Berkshires on another gorgeous day. We’ve been extraordinarily lucky with our weather so far!
Before we hit the road we met a friendly fellow camper with a nice big friendly black Labrador Retriever named Maya. We took the opportunity to introduce the girls to the large dog and after a few bashful moments they took to her quite well, and were only a little taken aback by big sloppy dog kisses and a rambunctious eager overgrown puppy demanding to have numerous balls thrown for chasing. Little Elisabeth took to Maya right away and pulled up against her tall back and held on tightly for support, on her wobbly toddler legs – the best use of all for any big dog.
The rest of the day was mostly making time on the interstates, through
Before sundown we pulled into the driveway of Aunt Gail’s empty house in rural northern
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
We drove north out of New Jersey and out of the New York City suburbs, up 9W on the west side of the Hudson River. It is marked as a scenic route, but we saw little that merited that designation, possibly excepting a few overlooks and brief stretches through parkland. We went through part of the West Point military reservation but couldn’t really see the academy area from the highway.
We crossed the Hudson at Poughkeepsie and immediately saw that the scenery on the east side of the Hudson was a big improvement. We went past a few sites that looked like they would have been nice to visit, but didn’t stop – FDR’s Hyde Park home, the Vanderbilt mansion on the Hudson, and the charming little town of Rheinbeck. Everything looked lovely this time of spring with the lilacs and apple trees in bloom. Perhaps we’ll go back there some day when the girls are older.
Then we headed east into rural Duchess and Columbia counties and searched for our first choice of campgrounds – but unfortunately, we found that it was closed until next weekend. Fortunately just a few miles more was another campground over the Massachusetts border outside the little town of Egremont, a nice little family-owned campground on a lake up in the Berkshires.
We parked, took the girls for a nice little walk outside (it seems that black fly season is just starting) and had a nice dinner out of Minnie’s ample refrigerator and turned in early. As hair-raising as it can be driving a huge rig like this over winding mountain roads and through colonial towns with narrow streets, it still is unbelievably luxurious to have nearly all the conveniences of home at hand at every stop!
Monday, May 09, 2005
Grandpa joined us in “Minnie” and we drove to the cemetery a few towns away.
We parked, loaded up Catherine and Elisabeth in the double stroller and took them to visit the grave of their triplet sister, our daughter Anna Alexandra Toby. Today was the second anniversary of her birth. She was born early, at 25 weeks and 1 ½ pounds birth weight and the odds were all against her. She survived for six months, and bravely endured three horribly traumatic abdominal surgeries before she passed away.
We brought Anna some freshly blooming lilacs from Grandpa’s garden and said a prayer over her new headstone.
Then we scattered some of the ashes that we had brought with us from Anna’s aunt Gail, Steve’s sister, who died last fall. She never had the chance to see the babies but we know she loved them anyway.
Then we walked over about 50 feet to the resting place of Anna’s grandmother Marcia Toby. There we scattered the remainder of her daughter Gail’s ashes and left her a huge bouquet of lilacs from her own garden. We said a prayer for her and talked about how delighted she would be to see her granddaughters toddling around outside on such a beautiful day.
Each of us shed a few tears that day.
We went back to the house, did some shopping and laundry duties, then came the high point of the day for the girls: we walked them in the stroller to the nearby park where there are scads of Canada geese and a small menagerie of animals on display – goats, ducks, coyotes, pot-bellied pigs, ferrets, chickens, donkeys, rabbits, deer, emus, foxes, and assorted other critters. We threw them some bread and told the girls all their names. They looked on with some interest, but are still a little bit too young to be truly fascinated by the animals. However, the next stop got them laughing and squealing: the swings. We pushed them for quite a long time, as high as we dared, and still (as always) Catherine threw quite a little tantrum when it was that sad time to get back into the stroller.
Late that evening I was delighted to find that one of Grandpa Toby’s neighbors kindly gave me a pretty good unsecured wifi signal, enough to upload my Day 1 report and download 3 days worth of email. Now Grandpa is plotting how he can tap into their broadband.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
Then out to the overlook of the bay, where a disintegrating WWII concrete structure stands with a commanding view over the water below. The circular gun emplacements were still apparent on the ground.
Then we drove over to the ferry departure point and within 20 minutes I was driving our big rig onto the Lewes – Cape May Ferry. It was a beautiful day for the one-hour crossing, although the boat had quite a roll. I bought a cap for Steve, a lanyard for the keys to our rig, and a little change purse for my electrolyte caps for triathlons.
We were one of the first ones to roll off since we were one of the larger vehicles on board, so it was probably our quickest crossing yet. We drove through Cape May (where we have enjoyed vacationing several times) but didn’t stop, just kept rolling north up the Garden State Parkway.
The rest of the drive was fairly uneventful, and within a few hours we were unloading the girls at Grandpa’s house and foisting them off on him while we dressed for dinner.
Steve took me out to a lovely local restaurant for Mother’s Day dinner which we enjoyed in peace and quiet, accompanied by several glasses of wine. Naturally we couldn’t help ourselves, we talked about the girls even in their absence.
We came back and our girls got good report cards from Grandpa, we gathered them up into “Minnie” parked outside and bedded down for the night.
Saturday, May 07, 2005
We picked up “Winnie”, our 24-foot-long Winnebago camper van in
I started driving first, heading east. Our first task was to get over the 4-mile
Across the Delmarva peninsula over the eastern
Just after 6PM we pulled into
Getting dinner and ready for bed involved some gymnastics, taking out the two carseats from the dinette, setting up the dining table, eating dinner and trying to feed two active toddlers who preferred to be running around, then taking down the table, making it into one big berth, and setting up two portable cribs on top and installing the girls in there under a series of raucous protests. Perhaps after a week in here we’ll finally figure out a system that works well – until then it’s all a little awkward.
Finally we’re settled in for the night and the campground is quiet. The only sounds we hear are Elisabeth’s whiny protests from her crib about how badly her parents are treating her.
Steve (the sailor) likes the fact that we don’t have to worry about anchor lights, the camper won’t sail around the anchor and jerk it in the middle of the night, and we don’t have to get up in the night periodically to check the anchor to be sure it’s not dragging. Today was his birthday - I'm afraid it was too hectic for much celebration to take place, but Happy Birthday, honey!
Friday, May 06, 2005
A wonderful series of photos that I think both our male and female readers should enjoy was started by Doc Shazam with this one (oops, incorrectly identified as Wendy Ingraham, Wil correctly identified her as Jessi Stensland):
Which apparently spawned an imitation from Olympian Sharon Donnelly (aren't these triathletes' back muscles amazing?):
In the meantime, also check out the descriptions of the chicks on the Ford cycling team, they're wonderful.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Links to a few online resources which I found helpful recently in my tri-training:
Propulsive Swimming and the Catch, by Rich Strauss
Race Rehearsal Guidance for Ironman, also by Rich Strauss
Karyn's Climbing Tips, on Life Is A Tri Blog by Steve Davis
Ironman course bike profiles and Ironman course run profiles, all of which scare me
Convert-me, an online metric-English-metric converter that I use a lot and everyone who is as obsessive about numbers as I am should bookmark
I'll pass along more goodies as they come my way!
In a recent University of Florida study, student volunteers ate 44% more calories after exercising in cold water than after exercising in hot water.
Lessons for those of us hoping to lose body fat?
- Swim in hot pool water or use a wetsuit in cold water.
- Don't count on cold-water swimming for weight loss, or track your food intake closely after each cold water swim.
- Do those hot, sweaty running and cycling workouts for weight loss.
- Forget the rules after a race and eat as much as you want for as many hours as you ran in miles. It's your reward. This does NOT apply to regular workouts, only to organized races. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the study, I just think it's a good training principle. :-)
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Let's take an objective look at the Top Ten Reasons to do IMFL instead of IMMOO:
10. Friends and relatives can travel too. They will if they know what's good for them. Friends and relatives will like the Florida Gulf coast in November much better than the middle of Wisconsin in September. They're not stupid.
9. Panama City in Sunshine State vs. Madison in "Eat Cheese or Die" state.
8. Buoyant salt water on shallow warm beach course vs. cold pond scum.
7. Flat vs. Hills.
6. One loop bike course vs. two loop bike course. (Which I personally usually find very boring).
5. Two more months to train.
4. Two more months to save up registration money.
3. 83/2116 DNFs in 2004 (3.9%) vs. 212/2187 DNFs in 2004 (9.7%). That is, you're 2.5 times more likely to finish at IMFL and become an IRONMAN.
2. Faster finishing times by 20-25 min. based on course records: 8:21 M/9:26W vs. 8:46M/9:46W. Plus bragging rights!
1. The supportive presence of the members of the TRI BLOG ALLIANCE!
She has just started a new blog, TRIandbehappy, which inspires me and which I know will be a help and inspiration to her fellow cancer survivors. Why not stop over there and offer her a few comments?
Holly, I hope your recovery is fast and easy, the biopsies are unanimously NEGATIVE, and the two or three remaining cancer cells (IF ANY) DIE a quick, miserable death, like the stinking weasel bastards they are.
It looks like the movement towards the 2006 Ironman Florida (henceforth known as IMFL) is gathering steam among the blogging triathletes. Kahuna has a lineup of at least eleven who are planning or will be arm-twisted into entering. It is SO much more fun and helpful and motivating to train with a group - and for me often stuck at home, those groups are usually online - so I'm becoming enthusiastic about participating with this bunch in my first attempt at becoming an IRONMAN.
(Editorial aside: As a long-term proponent of gender-neutral language, I have long thought about the term Ironman and whether we should apply it to women. While I would like something which conveys the magnitude of the accomplishment that is more appropriate for female people, my friend Beth the Iron_Chick made the point that the women go out and do exactly the same course as the men in the same conditions and under the same time limits - and so should rightfully be granted the same title.)
My only major niggling doubt right now about IMFL (naturally, with a good head on my shoulders, I have a multitude of minor niggling doubts about setting off on such a colossal venture, they crop up like tribbles) is whether I'll be able to get my entry in before it closes. You see, on entry day November 6, 2005, I will be enjoying a little jog through the five boroughs of New York with 34,999 of my closest friends. Hopefully I can get someone to submit my entry for me, because these "m-dot" events fill fast. Plus I have a few little preliminary events to complete and some minor touch-up training to fine-tune my performance before I go. And maybe I'll even get to the point where the whole idea of going 140.6 miles under my own power in less than 17 hours doesn't scare me shitless.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
OUTSTANDING EDITED SPORTS SPECIAL:
THE WINNER IS: Ironman Triathlon World Championship - NBC - Ironman Productions
Executive Producers: Dick Ebersol, Ben Fertic, Tom Roy
Producers: Peter Henning, Rob Hyland
Senior Associate Producers: Eric Begley, Kerry Ryan
Associate Producers: David Beld, Cathy Driscoll, Chris Gurr, Diana Kane, David Karabinas, Kit Martin, Fred McGraw, Peter Rogaris, Tara Sherman, Jeff Shook, Al Trautwig, Angus Yates
Three women in the news lately - "Leash Lady" Lynndie England, Martha Stewart, and "Runaway Bride" Jennifer Wilbanks seem to me to have some things in common: a disconnect from normal standards of behavior and a failure of character by not assuming full, active, conscious responsibility for their own actions and the effects of those actions on other human beings. I follow their stories hoping to see some genuine acknowledgement by each of them of the damages each has created, but I have yet to see it.
This is certainly not unique to them - we all know people very well in our own lives with these same characteristics. It's an interesting morality play taking place on the media stage, however.
Martha, it seems, after completing her prison time and house arrest sentence, will only be parlaying her increased notoriety into more business deals, not living with the consequences of felony convictions that mere mortals must. Lynndie faces 11 years in prison, probably serving in part as a scapegoat for negligence of her higher-ups. Jennifer may receive a felony charge of false statements and may be required to deal with the $40,000 - $60,000 costs of the needless search for her.
We athletes like to think that our training and commitment carry with it some kind of moral discipline, but I don't think that there is a crossover effect. Workouts simply help make you more physically fit - they don' t make you a better person or more ethically or morally fit.
Case in point (from www.marathonguide.com):
|Chicago Marathon |
|Wilbanks, Jennifer (F29)||4:26:38||15616||4602 / 1124||F25-29||4:16:47||Gainesville, GA|
Jennifer must have carefully planned and prepared for her marathon in Chicago in 2002 just as carefully as she planned her bus trip to Albuquerque and her kidnapping hoax. Perhaps her particular skills and personality traits served both purposes.
- 0.5 mile walk warmup at 20 min/mile, 2% grade
- 0.5 miles at 12 min/mile, 2% grade
- 0.25 mile recovery walk at 20 min/mile, 2% grade
- 0.5 miles at 10 min/mile, 0% grade
- 0.25 mile recovery walk at 20 min/mile, 2% grade
- 0.5 miles at 12 min/mile, 2% grade
- 0.25 mile recovery walk at 20 min/mile, 2% grade
- 0.5 miles at 10 min/mile, 0% grade
- 0.25 mile warm-down walk at 20 min/mile, 2% grade
Then into the pool, after 3 quick sets of crunches! 1000m at an easy pace, varying my strokes. I particularly concentrated on breathing on the "wrong" side for me (which involves a lot of sputtering and water up my nose, since I'm totally uncoordinated in that direction) but it DID prevent any of the one-sided back pain that I had experienced from breathing only on one side. I'll have to continue with this bilateral breathing work. I'd like to get to the point where I can breathe comfortably on either side, or alternate breaths on either side, because I hear that kind of versatility is very helpful in open water swims where the waves may be coming from either side, and one-sided breathing can tend to make a person veer off course.
Yesterday I did 45 minutes on the bike trainer (planned for 60, but I put it off for too long and it finally got too late to complete - funny how that happens when I procrastinate) and did a few sets of crunches. Catherine decided it was fun to sit on my chest while I was lying on the floor trying to do crunches. That made them somewhat more difficult.
I still plan to do 45 minutes on the bike trainer later today (up from the original plan of 30 minutes) to continue on my Five Days of Consistency.
Monday, May 02, 2005
In my searches I run across a lot of abandoned blogs with ambitious titles like "IronmanbyChristmas" or "FromTubbyToTourdeFrance", with 3 or 4 posts, petering out to nothing. I wonder about these people - did they get psyched up for a few weeks and then abandon their grandiose schemes, or did they just get tired of blogging? They make me sad.
I also see lots of blogs that are simply a dry listing of workouts - miles or kilometers, yards or meters - with little personal perspective. These may be helpful for the writer, but the numbers from some anonymous person's workouts do not make compelling reading.
My Questions of the Day are these:
- What triathlon/fitness blogs do you especially like (OTHER than those already in my list on the righthand side of this page)???
- What triathlon/fitness blog features keep you reading and coming back for more?
- What triathlon/fitness blog characteristics turn you off and make you stop reading?
For the sake of accuracy in reporting, I should note that my cycling mileage includes both outdoor and bike trainer miles, and running mileage includes treadmill and outdoor running and some walking.
Swimming: 5846 yards (5346 m)
Cycling: 109 miles (175 km)
Running: 50 miles (80 km)
Included: Completed 1 sprint triathlon, 1 ten-mile race
Swimming: 6500 yards
Cycling: 150 miles
Running: 65 miles
Include: Complete five consecutive days of double workouts; 10 days on vacation (to be truthful, I'm not sure this is compatible with the swimming and cycling goals); then my first international distance triathlon
Body weight. I haven't yet gotten to the point in non-anonymous blogging that I want to publish my body weight online, but maybe I'll get to the extreme point of adding that some day. :-) I do want to lose weight, though - suffice it to say that my ultimate nirvana goal weight is 59 pounds less than I weigh today.
Upcoming events. I've also added a list of my upcoming "A" races in the right-hand column to help keep my "eyes on the prize". Well, actually the prize is a healthy, happy, productive, active, long life; but being able to complete endurance events is certainly a fun bonus.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
Some place today there will be a runner who toes the starting line, struggles and completes her race, crosses the finish line, and receives her medal. She will get a third place among three in her age group, and will feel a little apologetic when she tells the tale, and will minimize her accomplishment as if she only got an award by default, since she didn't "beat" anybody.
To her I say, "Well done and congratulations! You stuck it out and ran your race. You won over everyone else who didn't show up and wasn't willing to make the effort that you did. Today you beat me and you deserve to win. Enjoy your victory!"
Well, I didn't exactly get in a half-marathon-equivalent workout, but I did do 30 minutes on the bike trainer in the aerobars while watching the Tour de Georgia broadcast. Sometimes I try to maintain the same cadence as the pro riders while I watch them - fortunately they were climbing very steep hills and I didn't have to keep up with Lance's time trial cadence! ;)
This week's renewed goal is CONSISTENCY. Each day, Monday through Friday, I plan to do at least 30 minutes on the bike (trainer or outside) , plus a swim, run, or long walk with the double jogstroller. I'm counting on all of you to hold me to it! Fortunately the weather forecast is much improved - although it will only be in the sixties, it promises to be sunny all week.