Friday, March 31, 2006

March summary

March 2006 is history. Each one of us were given 31 days to use. How well did I make use of the time I was given last month? Well, it took me until 9:30PM on the 31st to finish up my bike trainer time, but I finished most of the workouts and distances that I had hoped this month.

Days I did no exercise at all: 2/31
Days I did only core work: 2/31

Tier 1 goals (bare minimum baseline expectations) met: ALL, including:
Attended 1 swim clinic

Tier 2 goals (optimistic expectations) met:
Swim: 4000 m/week or 17,700 m total - DONE, 18362 total meters swum
(97% of February rate)
Bike: 50 miles/week or 221 miles - DONE, 222 miles cycled
(111% of February rate)
Run: 15 miles/week or 66 miles - DONE, 70 miles run
(113% of February rate)
Crunches: 700/week or 3100 total - DONE, 3500 total crunches
(121% of February rate)
Finish 1 metric century on the bike (62 miles) organized or on my own - not done, longest ride 36 miles.

Tier 3 goals (lofty pie-in-the-sky hopes) met:
PR in the half marathon - DONE, 2:36:30

Lost a few pounds finally, too!

A solid month of consistent base-building training for me. As I had planned back in December, the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler on Sunday will conclude my 12-week Macro Cycle 2 and launch my next phase of training.

Now I enter Macro Cycle 3 lasting ten weeks, which will further emphasize base-building and enhancing my swim technique, while ramping up my bike mileage in preparation for the Columbia Olympic-distance triathlon on May 21 and the Eagleman half Ironman triathlon on June 11.

How's your kitchen?

Are your food-handling practices at home affecting your health?

Do a "kitchen inspection" online here.

(I passed, Grade A. Whew!)

Last day of March!

It's the last day to get in a few miles to count towards my March goals! My numbers for the month are in pretty good shape, I just need to put in about an hour on the bike trainer tonight.

Big woo hoo for the start of Daylight Savings Time this weekend! I'll celebrate it by getting up extra-extra early for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler on Sunday. I'm looking forward to it! I'll be running with my camera this year and not going for any PRs. The weather is forecast to be the nicest day ever! But for me, warmer weather equals slower running, so I'll just take it at a moderate pace (for me) and enjoy the day, most likely.

Now that you're going to be outside in the sun a little more, let me make a little Public Service Announcement to remember to always wear your sunblock during your runs and rides and outdoor swims! Remember, we shouldn't be worrying about what our tan lines look like - we should be much more concerned with avoiding that tanned, leathery, damaged skin in the first place! Just talk to Holly or Oldman, if you disagree.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Don't bother. . . .

Don't bother praying for the health of others. Surprise! It doesn't do diddly-squat for them, even if they know about it.

"Praying for other people to recover from an illness is ineffective, according to the largest, best-designed study to examine the power of prayer to heal strangers at a distance."

Naturally, it's entirely possible that saying the prayers may make YOU feel better, however.

Update: I always find it interesting when people dismiss research findings out-of-hand that they happen to dislike, without reviewing the actual study. An abstract of the study is here, and an editorial discussion of the findings is here. (May require registration).

Going Goofy?

If you're considering doing Goofy in 2007, and you aren't signed up yet, better register NOW!

Disney's Wide World of Sports Announces Registration Cap For 2007 Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (March 29)

"As a result of the overwhelming success of the inaugural Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, Disney's Wide World of Sports announced today that registration will be capped at 3,000 participants in 2007. The second annual Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge involves runners completing the marathon and the half marathon (39.3 total miles) that are part of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, scheduled for January 7-8, 2007 at Walt Disney World Resort. In 2006, 2,373 participants completed the first-ever Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge. After evaluating the success of the inaugural event, race organizers concluded that 3,000 was ideal number of runners in both races...."


That's dumb. I don't understand. Why not register as many Goofies as you can up until the registration limit of one of the two races is hit? It's not like they spent a huge amount of time compiling the results or anything (that is, they spent zero time on it).

They had a separate check-in for the Goofies, but I don't think it took too many more people than the same number of runners going through a regular check-in. One extra small tent at the finish line with a few staffers with the wristbands the first day and the Goofy medals the second day, that was it as far as I could tell.

Maybe they figured out that the Goofies only draw one person/family to spend money at Disney, whereas having two different people in the two races spend twice as much.

Update: I'm not planning (right this moment) on doing Goofy again any time soon, although it really was great fun and I'm very glad that I did the inaugural event. I am thinking about possibly going back to Disneyworld in 2007 for either the half Ironman or the Olympic-distance triathlon and to give my girls their first Disney trip, but I won't decide until late this year.

Quote of the day

"My main workout every week during the season is a 180km (112-mile) ride. During the ride there is no talking, just hard riding." -- Normann Stadler, 2004 Hawaii Ironman champion

Hmm. I'm planning something like 6 century rides between July 1st and October 15th. I'm hoping that will be enough, but the more miles on the bike that I can manage this summer, the better!

Food glorious food

Now that I'm counting calories I'm getting all food-obsessed. It comes with the territory. Benny says I should eat more. COOL!! Actually, yesterday I had a big bonk after swimming from being a pint low on fuel, so I ate some more energy bars and ended up at about 2100 kcal food intake for the day (2600 kcal is supposedly maintenance for me), and felt pretty good after I refueled from the bonk. I'm not going to count exercise calories burned off unless it's a huge workout day - that's just too crazy-making.

I like to always include some foods with a little extra protein and fat in the balance which keeps me feeling satisfied longer and maintains a steadier blood sugar. Here are a couple of easy choices that I enjoy. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are always a good treat. I keep these Uncrustables in my freezer for occasional treats for my girls, but I'm going to start eating them myself. I'm thinking of Uncrustables for long rides or the bike special needs bag - pop them in your jersey, frozen in individually-wrapped packages, and they thaw quickly. Enjoy them as you go with zero prep time. 210 calories, 7 grams of protein, 9 grams fat.

Holly gave me one of these Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Nut bars after our swim clinic, and now I'm hooked. They are downright DELICIOUS! Plus widely available in most supermarkets, unlike some of the energy bars. 170 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat. I haven't tried the almond version (3 grams protein) yet, only the peanut, but I'm already hooked on them! Not a ton of protein, but I like them much better than most of the high-carbohydrate bars out there.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Three Rewards

1. One day after descending into the hell of calorie-counting, I was rewarded with my lowest weigh-in of 2006. I know, I know, it's just daily fluctuation, water weight, gut fill, and all that, but it's nice to see quick progress. And no, I'm not doing anything terribly drastic - yesterday's calories were a robust 1722. I just went to bed Very Hungry.

2. 1500 meters today in the 25m pool with open turns, sharing a lane, stopping at least 4 times, going along at an easy, comfortable pace, and I clocked in at 43:36. I know, not a dazzling time for most folks, but for me it is - my 1500-meter wetsuit-aided swim at the Columbia Triathlon last year was 48:15.

3. Today's swim brings me up to 18,362 meters for the month, my biggest swimming month ever so far, reaching my Tier 2 Goal for March of over 4000 meters per week.

Optional credit: 5 points for naming the lady in the photo and the trophy she is receiving. 5 points more for naming the short guy and 5 additional extra credit points for naming the guy holding the trophy. No looking it up.

Update: No guesses yet on the guy on the left in the photo! Here's another famous shot of him:

Ding Ding Ding! We have some winners!

Laura correctly guessed it was the Triple Crown trophy (in recognition for my day of 3 rewards!), presented for Secretariat's 1973 victory in the Triple Crown Races. (Danny guessed Secretariat from reading the photo file name.) His owner, Penny Chenery (whom I met once), is receiving the trophy, and next to her is jockey Ronnie Turcotte (whose career was cut short in 1978 by a riding accident which left him a paraplegic). Nelson Rockefeller, former NY governor, Vice President, and loose cannon, is presenting the trophy. He met his own ignominious end in 1979 in the arms of his mistress.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Seventh Ring of Hell

I don't like to talk about this topic much on my blog, mainly because I just plain don't like talking about it. But that's what I'm entering. Voluntarily. Today.

Yes, I'm going back to COUNTING CALORIES.

I've been scrupulously logging my food five days per week since January 1st. That's three months now. I don't think I do much differently on the days I don't log my food, either, but it just gives me a little time off for good behavior.

The problem seems to be that I log a TRUCKLOAD of food.

Three months, all that training I've been doing, and I'm only down three measly pounds. :-(

Okay, IknowIknowIknow, time for an attitude readjustment. I don't know how long I'm going to do this, or what my numerical targets are right now, but I'm starting it today.

FitDay is my friend. FitDay is my friend. Repeat after me: FitDay is my friend.

And yes, as I just commented to my Clyde friend Roman Mica, "The easiest way for me to get faster is to put down my fork."

Another gripe

Don't you hate it when people write on their blogs a post about how something in their life is suddenly terrible, awful, and horrible - and you want to leave a properly sympathetic and supportive comment - but they're so vague about any pertinent details that you have no earthly idea whether their best friend was murdered, their cat threw up a mouse, they got a $900 phone bill they can't pay, or they have a really nasty hangnail?

Monday, March 27, 2006

DFL like usual

Well, I finished the Simply Stu Worldwide Triathlon a day late and a dollar short, so I didn't submit my results.

Swim 1/4 mile on Saturday, March 25, 2006: 12:00
T1: about 24 hours
Bike 15 miles on Sunday, March 26, 2006: 51:18
T2: about 30 hours
Run something over 4 miles on Monday, March 27, 2006: ?? I didn't really time myself.

They had taken away the timing mats and the finishing line banner by the time I arrived. That's okay with me. I did finish, eventually. Maybe next year I'll get organized enough to do it all in one day. But for right now even though it might be fun, I won't try to recreate it in a brick workout. I'm not concentrating on the sprint swim distances at the moment, since I have a 1500 meter swim and a 1931 meter swim in my next two events. But I think that fairly hard 15 miles on Sunday did me some good, pushing my pace a bit on the bike!

Bravo to Stu for organizing it - it looks like he got a fantastic response!

Cat clips

If you're a cat lover, as I am, this series of film clips will leave you howling.

The inaugural National Marathon

Last weekend they ran the inaugural National Marathon in Washington, DC. Most reports that I've heard about it so far indicate that it went reasonably smoothly.

I would have run it, but they had the unusual feature of having qualifying times for entrants which I couldn't meet. From the registration page at (which listed an entry limit of 5000 total for the marathon and half marathon combined):

"If you are between the ages of 18-49, you must have previously completed a marathon in 4:30 OR a half-marathon in 2:10 OR a ten-miler in 1:40. If you are over 50 years of age, you must have previously completed a marathon in 5:00 OR a half-marathon in 2:25 OR a ten-miler in 1:55."
  • In the marathon, there were 731 finishers, 46 (over 6%) of whom finished over 5:00. Out of that group, 25 (who supposedly had qualifying times under 4:30) were under age 50. The final finishing time was 5:43.
  • In the half marathon, there were 958 finishers, 52 (over 5%) of whom finished over 2:25. Out of that group, 34 (who supposedly had qualifying times under 2:10) were under age 50. The final finishing time was 4:54.
I guess perhaps I shouldn't have been such a stickler about the rules and entered anyway! I would have been far from the last place finisher in the half marathon!

With 1689 total finishers, it will be interesting to see if the organizers maintain the qualifying times next year when they will probably have even fewer entrants when it isn't an inaugural race.

Do you know where your veep is?

It sometimes gets interesting living in the same small town as the Vice President and the Secretary of Defense.

Yesterday afternoon as we were driving out of down we saw one of the green-and-white presidential Marine helicopters going toward the tiny Easton, Maryland airport. (I'll bet their neighbors are just delighted to have those humungous helicopters setting down right next door.) It was flying by itself, without an escort, so it must have been either Cheney or Rumsfeld and not the Prez. It landed and taxied to the center of the airport, away from any main roads. We could just barely see some plane sitting over there, away from where all the other planes normally are tied down. On every one of the perimeter roads of the airport there were security cars sitting parked with their lights on.

Since it's only a short helicopter ride across the Chesapeake Bay to either the Pentagon or the Vice Presidential mansion, we figured that the Very Important Passenger must have been traveling someplace else yesterday afternoon on a longer-range flight.

Interesting, but I'm still glad I'm not his next-door neighbor.

Update: I see that Rumsfeld is scheduled to speak at the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania today, which is only about 150 miles from Easton, Maryland. Probably wasn't getting in a plane for that, unless he went up there last night. I haven't been able to find out what Cheney is up to today - maybe he's in the famous Undisclosed Location in St. Michaels again while Bush is on a meet and greet a few blocks from the White House at the DAR.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

PRs: The Dark Side

Am I the only one who is really, really bugged by people's negativity when she reads, over and over again on triathlete blogs, various versions of :

"I'm really disappointed with my (XYZ) time - even though it was a personal record."

I just don't get it. Never have, never will. Why not choose to enjoy the journey? Why choose disappointment? Don't we do this for the FUN and HEALTH of it?

The converse of this is:

"I was okay with my (XYZ) performance, except for A, B, C, D, E, and of course F. . . . ."

Sounds to me like same concept, different words.

Twelve weeks

The first twelve weeks of 2006 is done. Over. Completed. Part of history.

It's 12 solid weeks of work towards my first Ironman triathlon. Deposited in the bank. In that time period, I've averaged:

* 567 crunches per week (at least 200 every single week for 12 weeks)
* 3556 meters or 2.2 miles swum per week (only 1 week less than 1500 m out of 12 weeks)
* 67 km or 42 miles cycled per week (at least 21 miles every single week for 12 weeks)
* 24 km or 15 miles run per week (at least 10 miles every single week for 12 weeks)

Contrast that with my averages for 2005:
* 135 crunches per week
* 1010 m swum per week
* 16 miles cycled per week
* 13.8 miles run per week

While those aren't huge numbers by themselves, I'm going for solid groundwork right now while I very slowly ramp up the volume. While I'm never going to be terribly fast or have extreme endurance, I'm working toward a certain basic solidity, versatility, and comfort level in each discipline, week after week. It's the consistency that's been especially good for me, as well as maintaining the balance of *some* work in each discipline every week. Tracking my totals week-by-week while maintaining fixed minimum weekly distance levels in each discipline has been an extremely productive change in the way I approach my workouts. It adds up fast, too - so far this year I've accumulated:
  • 6800 crunches (last year - didn't do consistently until late in 2005)
  • 42.6 km or 26.4 miles swum (last year hit this total on May 30th)
  • 804 km or 500 miles cycled (last year hit this total on August 11th)
  • 292 km or 182 miles run (last year hit this total on May 3rd)

I feel fantastic! I love it when it all works, when the plan starts yielding results. And I'm just getting started. Hear me roar!

And you know what? If I can do it, anybody can. Hey, I'm a slacker, remember? I still haven't exceeded 11 total hours of training in any week this year. :-)

First spring cycling time trial

I completed Leg 2 of the Simply Stu Worldwide Triathlon: a 15-mile cycling time trial. Ouch. It wasn't great conditions, at 41*F with wind gusts up to 16 mph. However, I was working too hard to feel very cold, even though I had forgotten my earwarmer. I did a loop course (out 7.5 miles, back 7.5 miles, plus a little extra to get out on the open road and warm up/down) to even out the wind effect.

17.5 mph average in 51:18 for 15.0 miles was the best I could do today. Maximum speed was 23.4 mph on the flat.

I hope I can improve on that pace before my first triathlon of the year, which is coming up in eight weeks! The good news is that I was able to stay down in my aerobars for the entire 15 miles, though I did indulge in one or two quick stretches for backache prevention.

I'm still not positive that I'll finish it up with a 5K run - if I do it today, it will be late this afternoon. If not, maybe tomorrow!

Update: Um, yeah, I'll run that 5K (and then some) tomorrow. It's cold and gray now and it's after 6PM. Tomorrow, however, is forecast to be SUNNY and up to 58*F. That's sounding much more springlike and motivating!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Catherine the incipient mathematician

My husband said that Catherine counted to ten yesterday, all on her own. I admit that I was a little skeptical - perhaps that was just a proud papa bragging on his two-year-old.

Then just now I heard her do it too. While she was amusing herself in her bed, when she was supposed to be actually taking a nap, she recited all the numbers up to ten. In order. Loudly. In between off-key renditions of portions of Old MacDonald's Farm. She's partial to the ee-eye ee-eye oh refrain.

I don't think she can actually count up more than three actual objects, however. My husband says she's still at the Paleolithic stage: "One, two, three, many".

Of course, that's just about as well as I am able to count swimming or track laps in my head, if I don't use my watch.

Maybe Catherine thinks the rest of the numbers are irrational. Just like everything else in her little universe.

Ready for Steelhead!

Yesterday we stopped by the place where we rent RVs to check out their 31-foot model of Winnebago Outlook. Here is the floorplan! It's quite a behemoth, with a couch, dinette, shower, and two double beds! We took it for a test drive and I shot some photos.

Then we committed ourselves! We're renting it for 11 days in early August for the 1300-mile trip from Maryland to Michigan and back so that I can do the Steelhead half Ironman triathlon . . . er, that would be Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 triathlon, more precisely, on August 5th. Also, that gives us a chance to take the girls camping and to visit for several days with Grandma, who lives nearby. It costs a fortune (about the equivalent of a luxury cruise for the whole family) but it gives us lots of advantages in traveling with two small unruly toddlers - namely a place to keep them confined for most of the day where their screaming will only bother us and nobody else!

Actually, it should be fun! Just as long as we don't accidentally take out a fuel pump by turning this supertanker a little too sharply! (We've decided to nickname her the Queen Mary 3).

Morning swim

I was hoping to get in a long bike ride this morning, but thunderstorms were forecast. So it was a trip to the indoor pool instead. Of course, now it's nearly 1PM and we've had nothing worse than a light drizzle so far, but that's typical!

63 laps with lots of balance drills and work on my catch again, for 3150 yards or 2880 m. It sounds farther in yards!

I did one challenging set of 8 laps, one length slow, one length sprint. I was surprised that I was able to hold my speed and not slow down too much by the eighth one! The "slow slow" eight 25-yard lengths averaged 46 seconds, and the "merely slow" eight 25-yard lengths averaged just under 35 seconds. It's also good practice for me to regain my regular breathing and recover while I'm swimming, rather than hanging at the end of the pool gasping for air.

In one of my last sprint lengths one of the skinny fast teenaged kids in the pool decided to race me. He waited at the end until I turned and hit my watch and started, and then pushed off the wall and went for it. Of course he smoked me! I wanted to give him a lecture about how I'd already swum over a mile by that time, but instead I just laughed to myself and pretended like I didn't even notice him.

My best 400-yard segment while doing those sprint lengths was 10:55, so extrapolating to 440 yards for a quarter mile I'll give myself a time of 12:00 for the first leg of the Simply Stu Worldwide Triathlon. We've got another forecast for rain tomorrow. If I manage to get in both a bike ride and a run tomorrow, I'll send in my times for an official finish. If not, a DNF is okay with me. I didn't spend anything on the entry fee.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Core days

I'm all about brutal honesty here, so I just wanted to share something. You see those days on the right sidebar under "Actual this week" where it just says "Core"?

That really translates to "Blew off my real workouts today so I threw in 200 or 300 crunches before going to bed so I wouldn't feel like a complete lazy-ass slacker".

Just so you know.

Don't tell me you don't have those days.

The wasted day

Today we finally had the appointment for Elisabeth to have her hearing test, under sedation, since she has never cooperated enough to get a decent hearing test done on her. At five months of age she was given an overdose of medicine in the hospital when she was in for her heart surgery. Now she's extremely delayed in her speech development, so we really need to get some answers on this. We had waited about four months just to get in for this appointment.

280 mg of Chloral Hydrate doesn't touch Elisabeth.

She squirmed, she pulled on my earrings, she tried to walk around, she jumped on the bed, she tried to pull charts off the wall, she whirled like a dervish, she pulled off the doctor's glasses and his name badge and tried to pull off his tie.

Basically she was a combative drunk.

No hearing test.

We have to wait for yet another appointment for a test under full anesthesia.

Mommy is saying bad words.

Oh, and then there was the part when Catherine absolutely flipped out and started screaming uncontrollably when we were entering the hospital and then again when we were waiting for the elevator, because she just KNOWS that elevator rides only lead to the pediatrician's office and other terrible, horrible things. . . .

Girl in a bucket

This photo is crying out for a caption contest.

Meanwhile, I'll be filing my patent application for a novel design for a potty trainer.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Breaststroke world record

Leisel Jones of Australia broke her own world record in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Commonwealth Games, finishing in 1 minute, 05.09 seconds on Monday.

Just imagine. She could swim about 16 seconds per length in our 25m pool. A length which usually takes me 35 - 45 seconds swimming freestyle. That's right, I take three times as long to swim the distance as the elites do. Fortunately when I run it only takes me twice as long to do the distance as the elites.

Sometimes you just . . . swim

This morning was my swim workout morning.

In the "old days" I would have just rolled over and gone back to sleep. I woke up feeling tired and a little achy from my hill running yesterday. But all I have to do is ask myself, "Do you want a good swim at Ironman Florida - or NOT!?" The answer to that question is easy. It gets me out the door and on my way to the yucky pool. Don't feel like it? Too darned bad. JFS. Just . . . Swim.

I had my workout all printed up and sealed inside a plastic bag to refer to during my swim. Unfortunately when I got inside the locker room it wasn't inside my bag. Gaaahhh! I later found it on the floor of my car. Oh well, do as much as you remember, and improvise. JFS. Just . . . Swim.

500 m warmups and drills.
500 m straight swim, working on correcting my fore-aft balance in the water; landing the proper catch every stroke; and balanced breathing on my left side.
500 m balance and kick drills with fins.

Then I set out to do a steady swim of 1000m for time. Back and forth, back and forth, keep the effort steady. I'm getting bored. Too bad, what are you going to do when you're bored at Ironman Florida? You're going to JFS. Just . . . Swim. OK, you hit your target at 500m. Keep going. But I'm getting tired! My stroke is falling apart. Too darned bad. JFS. Just . . . Swim.

But the straw that broke the camel's back? Somehow around lap 15 of my timed 1000 meters, I reset my watch counter completely. I erased everything - my lap counts and my times. I was lost. I was really, really annoyed. I got out of the pool and went to sulk in the hot tub. I counted it as somewhere around 2250 total meters for the workout.

Back at it on Saturday in the good pool. I always enjoy my swimming there much more. It's a date.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sock burning

I missed the annual sock burning at the Spring Equinox, which is celebrated annually at the nearby Republic of Eastport, a breakaway republic which formerly was part of Annapolis in the United States. It happens every year, but for some reason this year the event seems to have gotten onto the wire services as their "Wacky News Item of the Day".

I've never done so well without socks, since I have sweaty nasty feet. And I need really good arch supports, so the traditional old Docksiders with bare feet are out of the question for me, even for sailing. If I run anything more than ten miles, I have to be extraordinarily careful about lubricating my feet (baby oil gel) and watching my electrolyte replenishment carefully (to avoid soft tissue swelling) and wearing exclusively thin Coolmax socks and wearing underneath them ultra-thin liner socks (aka white nylon knee-highs from Walmart, rolled down), or I'm a Blister Queen.

Doing the toe lubrication and sock thing seems to take an endless amount of time in transition during triathlons, but I think of it as a time investment in avoiding blisters that will save me time late on the course and help maintain my training over the long term. I wish that I were one of those tough-skinned people who was able to cycle and run sans socks, but alas, I am not.

In fact, some tales of the effects of running in wet shoes remind me that the consequences of acute blister pain in your feet is never good. I need to add "dry socks in a ziplock" to my list of items for my transition and special needs bags. When you need them, you need them.

But I do have plenty of old mismatched socks that definitely should be burned. . . .

Monday, March 20, 2006

Want to tri this weekend?

I may just do this!The 1st Annual SimplyStu Worldwide Triathlon: 1/4 mile swim, 15 mile bike, and 5K run, March 25 and 26, 2006.

Don't know why he decided on those distances, since 1/4 mile is kind of difficult to do in most pools (440 yards or 402 meters) but perhaps one can interpolate.

Thanks to DJGOLDNBOY for the heads up!

Tour de Last Day of Winter

Finally Spring!

Hooray for spring! Finally it arrives today!

I'm PSYCHED! And looking forward to some warmer weather! A chickadee has been hanging around my birdhouse outside - maybe we'll have some new chicks in the family!

We're entering our 12th week of training this year. Eleven weeks are now in the workout logs, for better or worse. Are you where you want to be?

I am! I feel great!

My swimming is progressing nicely and I'm actually enthusiastic about getting in the pool these days! I learn something new every time.

My cycling needs a LOT more mileage and some hillwork, but that will come once the weather improves. The extra daylight will REALLY help here because now I can even get in a bike ride in the mornings.

My running is at maintenance levels, which is just fine. I'm at a good place where I can go out and run 3 or 5 or 10 miles at a comfortable pace and not feel too exhausted by it. Nothing hurts, and I feel fairly solid at it. My speed has been inching upwards when I race because my body composition is changing (always way, way too slowly, but it is changing) and my endurance is increasing because of consistency in getting in the mileage and the cross-training, not because of extra speedwork.

My first triathlon of the year - an Olympic distance - is in nine weeks. A 1500m swim is starting to feel like a reasonably short distance, although I'm not looking forward to plunging into icy cold water again. That's a new attitude toward the distance though, for sure! 25 miles on the bike is a nice length for a ride, though this one is over some hellacious hills. It's time to swap out my gear cluster to add a new granny gear for that. The 10K at the end has some of the steepest hills in the area, so it's a tough one. But last year I was thinking about the race with a mixture of fear and dread, and this year I'm looking forward to race day with more confidence and anticipating how much I can improve in my performance.

Let's go!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Mental strength training

Today's bike ride was one of the tougher ones. 35*F at the start, with wind gusts up to 30 mph. I didn't want to go. But on race day, all my "idontwannas" aren't going to help me much. It was time to get out the door and put some miles in the bank. The wind was just scheduled to increase during the day, and it was only going to get harder, so I might as well get bundled up in my winter cycling gear and GO!

Out to the end of the peninsula I rode, with the winds coming straight across the Chesapeake Bay and blowing me sideways at times. As long as I kept moving I was reasonably warm, but if I stopped to snap some photos (will post tomorrow) or get a snack I started getting chilled quickly. I thought about that chilly 56*F swim that the athletes did at the California half-Ironman yesterday and kept going.

  • The strong sunshine was wonderful.
  • The daffodils, Bradford pears, and forsythia are out in strength!
  • My investment in good-quality winter cycling gear was worth every penny. I've used it many times already, and it enabled me to keep cycling outside through the entire winter.
  • I found an unattended construction-site portapotty just at the right time.
  • I didn't have that twisting knife in my lower back after 30 miles like I used to.
  • I got in 36 miles on the roads in fairly tough conditions.
  • My pace picked up pretty well to the 20 mph range with the wind at my back.
  • This should be my coldest bike ride for the rest of the year - next weekend is forecast to be over 50*F.
  • My Sidi bike shoes are awesome - I figured out how to both tighten and loosen the straps quickly while I'm in motion. Except not with the neoprene winter cycling booties on top.
  • I saw a beautiful small hawk that followed me down the road, possibly a kestrel.
  • Three deer dashed across the road just in front of me, luckily escaping annihilation by speeding motor vehicle by mere feet.
Areas to work on:
  • My arthritic wrist hurts me, even with aerobars. I may need to wear a wrist brace for cycling.
  • I have a lot of toughening up to do in the bike seat area.
  • I need to get some arch supports in my cycling shoes, or I get arch cramps.
  • I didn't have time to get in the 45 miles I had hoped to complete today.
  • I still need to work on staying down in the aerobars for extended periods.
  • My average pace was only 14.0 mph (although it did include two slow passes through town and a couple interesting side road diversions). That needs to increase.
  • The reformulated Lemon Zest Luna Bars suck. Who wanted less sugar and more fiber? Not me! And I still have nearly two boxes of them to eat.
  • 36 miles seems hard right now. I have to force myself not to let my mind go to that place where I start dwelling on 112 miles seeming like a nearly impossible, Herculean task. My endurance WILL improve.

Still, that's 36 more miles to the good in the Bank of Ironman!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Becoming a fish

Slowly. My technique is coming along! Today I swam another 2200 yards, bringing my weekly swim total up to just about the distance I swam for the whole MONTH of January! It's much more fun when you feel like you're finally making progress, though, isn't it?

Changing my stroke to adopt an improved, elevated elbow position has given me some free speed. That's what happens when you add another 12-18 inches of pull at the top of the stroke, apparently! 500 meters at a comfortable steady pace with open turns was an easy 14:29 today, instead of my usual time of over 15 minutes. (Yes, converted to meters - swimming as I do in one metric pool and one English pool gets confusing!) (With a pull buoy 500m was 13:25 - which tells me I still have some body-balancing to achieve).

Every stroke now I think about the catch. Was that a solid catch? Did my elbow move OUT, or DOWN? Did I get a strong pull from well in front of my head all the way to my thigh? Most of the time I do pretty well except when I take a breath, and that's when my entire arm plunges toward the bottom of the pool. But now when I'm swimming mindfully I usually get in two good pulls before the next time an arm uselessly sinks to the bottom.

I still have to remember to take it gradually and not overdo the swim distance, though, because I'm putting some new stresses on my elbows and shoulders. They'll need time to adapt if I'm going to avoid bursitis or tendonitis.

I also talked to another swimmer there about their local YMCA master's swim program. They're starting some more weekend practices, along with some multisport/endurance emphasis, so maybe I can start doing some workouts with them. That would be fun!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

National Senior Games standards

I'm too young. I miss eligibility for the state-level Senior Games by 6 months this year, which means I can't qualify for the 2007 National Senior Games in Louisville, Kentucky. Well, that just gives me two more years to work on these new minimum performance standards for women 50-54:

1500m racewalk: 9:55
5000m racewalk: 35:35

5K road race: 25:08
10K road race: 55:00

50 yard freestyle swim: 34.20
100 yard freestyle swim: 1:16.20
200 yard freestyle swim: 2:46.10
500 yard freestyle swim: 8:01.70
50 yard breaststroke swim: 47.40
100 yard breaststroke swim: 1:43.30
200 yard breaststroke swim: 3:59.70

100m: 17.30
200m: 35.70
400m: 1:30.70
800m: 3:31.50
1500m: 7:00.00

As of 2007, the only qualifying that one must do for triathlon is to complete a state-level event or similar open event. It's a sprint: 400m swim, 20K bike, 5K run. The last winning time for my new age group was 1:06:51.

For cycling (5K or 10K time trial, 20K or 40K road race), you must qualify by winning first or second place at the state event, but it doesn't need to be the same distance. Here are the 50-54 year old female division winner's times:
5k cycle: 8:13.1 (22.6 mph)
10k cycle: 18:20.8 (20.2 mph)
20k cycle: 36:06.9 (20.6 mph)
40k cycle: 1:13:10.8 (20.3 mph)

The good news is that the 2009 National Senior Games will be held in the San Francisco Bay area of California, primarily at Stanford, August 1-15. I'd love to go! It's on my calendar now! Time to start training - only a little over three years to go!

Go Linae!

I'm in awe of the amazing effects of Linae's weight loss and her progress toward her ambitious athletic goals. YOU GO!!

Just out of idle curiosity, I took a look at the results from past years for my next triathlon, Columbia (Olympic distance), coming up in 66 days.

Top 3 Athena 40+
2005: 3:57
2004: 3:29
2003: 3:16

Top 10 age group (45-49):
2005: 3:09:18
2004: 2:48:54
2003: 3:28:03

Most improved award:
2004: -36:13 (For me, that would be 3:30:45)
2003: -12.2% (For me, that would be 3:36:50)

Wow. Those are all over the board - some within reach, some far beyond what I can expect in 66 days from now. I guess the only solution is to just keep training hard and do my best on race day, eh?

Happy Anniversary!

Here's wishing a happy fifth wedding anniversary to my wonderful husband Steve! If I had some photos here from our beautiful wedding in Maui, I'd post them, but I don't have any available.

Thank you for five great years of wedded happiness and for being such a loving husband and fantastic father to our girls.

I love you, honey!

I have some champagne chilling in the fridge for us - maybe we can keep most of it out of the grabby little hands of Catherine and Elisabeth, who seem to enjoy it even more than we do!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Swimming by the numbers

  • 7: Number of swim workouts I had between Jan. 1 and Mar. 15, 2005
  • 17: Number of swim workouts I had between Jan. 1 and Mar. 15, 2006

  • 1200: Average meters per workout between Jan. 1 and Mar. 15, 2005
  • 1500: Meters in an Olympic-distance triathlon swim
  • 1931: Meters in a half-Ironman-distance triathlon swim
  • 2100: Average meters per workout between Jan. 1 and Mar. 15, 2006
  • 3000: Meters in my longest swim workouts to date
  • 3862: Meters in an Ironman-distance triathlon swim
  • 9: weeks until my first Olympic-distance triathlon of 2006
  • 12: weeks until my first half-Ironman distance triathlon of 2006
  • 33: weeks until my first attempt at the Ironman distance
  • Immeasurable: My increase in swimming confidence in one year

Tri-bloggers unite!

Our thanks to Comm for this great article which appears on page 26 of the April 2006 Triathlete magazine. If you haven't joined yet, and would like to be on an email list with fellow triathlete-bloggers, please join us in the Tri Blog Alliance Yahoo discussion group!

Monday, March 13, 2006


Another couple good ones today:

  • Reading the "Goodnight Gorilla" book, there is a place where the lady says, "Goodnight, dear." Catherine was "reading" it and making the signs for "goodnight, deer" with her little hands held up like antlers.
  • I was coaching her to reply, when asked her age, that she is "two years". So to make a sign for it, instead of holding up two fingers, she grabbed ahold of her two ears.

Shoe tag

I have no idea why *jeanne* wants to see all the shoes scattered all over my messy house, but here we go:

In the foyer, the clogs for getting the mail:

In the gym bag, the Big Dog swimming flip-flops:

Next to the bed, various pairs of running shoes in various states of wear:

The shoes in the closet - the cardboard box in the far corner holds all the old high heels that I haven't worn for a decade or more:

The lonely one on top is my old surgical shoe from when I had bunion surgery:

Elisabeth's aviator shoes next to the changing table:

Catherine's lion shoes on the living room floor, left there after our walk today:

I tag.... Shelley and Bolder and Trimama. You're it.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ten weeks towards the goal

This is how the first ten weeks of 2006 stacked up for me, on a week-by-week basis. Not very high volume training (yet), but solid consistency for me, and gradually increasing totals. Plus a marathon, two half marathons, and a swim clinic under my belt. That's money in the Bank of Ironman, I'm hoping!

Checking my Excel chart every week and maintaining weekly minimums in each discipline has made a world of difference in the consistency of my training this year. That's a big change for me! Hurrah!

Swim Technique Clinic

Today Holly and I attended a Swim Technique Clinic (which had been postponed from a snow date last month) which was held at Howard County Community College Pool in Columbia, Maryland. Local area Ironman triathlete Greg Steinbach was the clinician and used his background in aerospace engineering to good effect in helping us to improve the efficiency and power of our swimming strokes.

The pool was lovely - six lanes wide and with big picture windows all around looking out over the attractive campus.

There were only four of us there for the clinic, so we got lots of individualized attention. It was 4 hours long, and we got videotaped underwater from the side for 50m of freestyle three times.

Greg is preparing CDs for us and will send them to us in a couple of weeks. Mostly we worked on fore-aft balance drills and keeping elbows high, and they seemed pretty effective. Gave me a lot to work in in the next few weeks!

When we viewed the videos right away it was quite instructive. My last pass I was swimming pretty horizontally in the water with good arm extension out front. My head position is good most of the time, but I lift my head too much to breathe (and drop my arm when I do it). I also (like many swimmers) drop my elbows if I'm not concentrating on it or I'm getting fatigued, but I could really see the benefit in power when I was able to keep them high.

I find that if I concentrate on keeping my index finger low on entry, and push my elbow OUTward during the stroke, that seems to be a better mental cue to me than thinking of keeping elbows high. Whatever works, right?

My kick is way too big - who knew? I always thought I had a weak kick, when in fact I just need to improve the propulsion from my arm positioning. It also tends to make me yaw a bit when I'm on my side, which makes for a fairly crooked swim if I don't watch it.

He also showed us some slow-mo videos of Ian Thorpe for comparison. One head-on view was amazing - no deviation at all in that straight-line motion, and no hesitation at all in the stroke at any point.

We also did a little work at the end on sighting during open water swims which was helpful, too, and we discussed the course a bit for my season-opener Olympic distance coming up soon in mid-May.

It was well worth the time and it will give me a lot to work on in the next few weeks in the pool! It was also great to see Holly again and catch up a little on what's been going on in her busy life. All in all, a fun and productive day!

Swim clinic photos

Details later. . . .

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Dumbest day in my life

Well, maybe not the dumbest, but it's right up there. Today I went to the local Safeway grocery to buy a few things. My husband wanted me to get his favorite ice cream, so I had to go down that aisle. And they had almost all the ice cream on sale, 2 for 1. FREE ICE CREAM, I'm telling you. But no, I had to be all virtuous and strong, channeling mipper, and I just walked by - very, very slowly - but I did walk by and they didn't have any of the special kind my husband likes so I just kept walking and I didn't buy any ice cream at all.

I've been kicking myself the whole rest of the day for that. HOW COULD I BE SO DAMN STUPID? I could have had FREE SAMOAS GIRL SCOUT COOKIE ICE CREAM, but no, I have to turn into some kind of saint or something and abstain. How idiotic is that? Is it too late to go back and buy some? Maybe I should call the store and find out how long the sale lasts? FREE ICE CREAM!

So I went out instead for a ride on Old Blue, my trusty old steel frame Lotus road bike, circa 1986. She was actually a pretty hot road bike in her day. That was three years before Lemond used aerobars in the Tour de France, so obviously the clip-on bars are a recent addition.

She's a lot of work to pedal around compared to Buttercup, believe me.

I went out to the 11.5 mile marker on the W&OD rail-trail and turned around and came back. That section includes a few pretty good hill climbs, for these parts. On a nice day like today it also includes a massive amount of avoiding total idiots. They came out of the woodwork.

Idiots like me, for example. By the turnaround I was STARVING, and still thinking about that ice cream debacle. If you look closely behind this big trail sign there is a Whole Foods grocery with a big bike rack out front. I was thinking that I could go in there and get some kind of delicious fruit smoothie. But did I bring a bike lock with me? Did I bring any money with me? Of course not! Swig down a little of the lukewarm water in my water bottle, and pedal sadly and stupidly back home again.

Maybe now that the girls are in bed there's still time to take the minivan back to Safeway tonight. . . .

Friday, March 10, 2006

Catherine's glasses

We just picked up Catherine's first pair of glasses today (with about 3 months to go until their third birthday). The glasses survived the day without breakage! Actually she was pretty good about having these weird things put on her head. I only found them once forgotten on the floor after she had apparently discarded them. Unfortunately they blend in with the carpet so they'll be easy to step on.

Like everyone told us, she seems to do okay with them! I suppose being able to actually see things close up is a big positive change for her, though she can't really express it.

And yes, they magnify her eyes a lot. I'm thinking that since "Men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses" we can keep buying her really ugly glasses until she's about 25.

I Googled that Dorothy Parker quote and found something about Elizabeth Dole needing glasses at age 3 and her mother weeping about it. How strange.

I'm lovin' it

No, mipper, we didn't go to McDonald's today.

But I'm definitely loving this weather!


Woot! Ran 4 miles **IN SHORTS**, then took the girls to the park with Grandpa for probably another mile or so of walking. It's a great day!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Cherry Blossoms

The official prediction is in for the peak of the cherry blossoms in Washington, DC: It's going to be between March 27th and April 1st.

But I think those blossoms should manage to hold on until one of the best races of the local running year, the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler on April 2nd.

That should make for some pretty photos. I hope it will be a little warmer and less windy than last year!

Yahoo vs. Comcast

Just wanted to let my buddies who use Yahoo email to know that I probably emailed you today, but it bounced. It seems that Yahoo is bouncing all the mail from Comcast right now. I know the tech people will be right on it, right after they finish watching their DVD of Star Trek episodes 17, 18, and 19.

NEW! IMFL tshirts available now!

Getting ready for Ironman Florida, like me!? Linae's design talent produced this great logo for shirts and other items for us! We are selling these AT COST (that means we are taking NOT ONE CENT PROFIT!) at Cafepress NOW!

Get psyched for Ironman Florida! We'll add some designs and styles (e.g., special "Crew" shirts) as we continue to get more creative. (Naturally we have to be careful about copyright infringement, too.) Keep checking back and let us know if you have any special requests!

See you there!!!