Wednesday, May 31, 2006

May summary

*blink* Where did May go? I just realized we're at the end of the month. And I forgot to write any targets for this month.

Swim: Completed 16,098 m or 3635 m/week (Tier 1 goal)
Bike: Completed 202 miles or 45 miles/week (Tier 1 goal)
Run: Completed 62 miles or 14 miles/week (Tier 1 goal)
Crunches: Completed 2200 or 496/week (Tier 1 goal)

1. Finish 1 10K, Bay Bridge Run on May 7th in 1:08:42
2. Finish 1 Olympic distance triathlon, Columbia on May 21st in 3:44:23 (PR)
3. 1 practice sprint triathlon (0.5M swim, 15.5M bike, 3.1M run) in 1:54:47

Overall, an adequate month with good consistency. But it's summertime now. MORE. BIKE. MILEAGE.

Happy birthday to our girls

Their birthday is really tomorrow, but they can't read a calendar yet, so we celebrated early. The cake was yummy!

Opening the nice presents that Grandma sent. Thanks, Grandma!!

Helping Daddy assemble the new tricycle. . . .

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Heat index 97*F today

That has me seriously worried about Eagleman in 12 days and my heat acclimatization! It could be a really long, nasty day out there if the weather is anything like today. What also worries me is that I just noticed that they switched my swim start from 6:50AM to 8:08AM. Uh oh! So I sent in an appeal to race management:
"Is there any chance the 40+ Athenas can start in the 6:50AM wave with
the age groupers (as we did last year) instead of the 8:08AM wave? Some of
us old Athenas (like me) are pretty slow. I'd feel a lot better getting an early
start in the cool of the day, with a 15-minute gap until the next wave, and
being able to finish while there are still some other folks out on the run
course. If we start at 8:08 AM, there will be 2 waves swimming over us at
5-minute intervals (Clydesdales and relayers), plus some of us will be out there trying to finish up the run course a LONG time after everyone else has packed up and headed for home!! Thanks for considering it!!"

Monday, May 29, 2006

Cambridge practice triathlon

Before I tell you about the practice triathlon we had today, here's the evidence from Saturday - yes, we really did start out on a 56-mile bike ride at 6AM! This is my minivan at Great Marsh Park where Eagleman is staged in Cambridge, Maryland, looking east over the Choptank River.

Today's fun was another great training session with the good folks from Cambridge Multi-Sport, a practice sprint triathlon held at Horn Point. Here is one of the noble ovines which guard the entrance.

It was a beautiful setting for it! The transition was a nice grove of trees, and we each got to claim our own personal tree for our gear.

Here's the half-mile swim course laid out in the Choptank River. . . .

. . . complete with kayak and dog support.

Many thanks to our Organizer Extraordinaire, Jude Apple!

There were about ten of us doing the practice, all self-timing. I got to have fun on the course longer than anyone! And it was all great, except for maybe the outbound leg of the swim when it seemed like hard work.

I definitely think that should be a regular event! I propose the title "Hornman Sprint". :-)

My times for the day:

Swim half mile: 25:39 (14:23 out, 11:16 back)
T1: 4:29 (estimated - I hit the timer button late)
Bike 15.5 miles: 51:29 (estimated, my bike computer said a little shorter time, 17.7 mph)
T2: 1:21
Run 5K: 31:46
Finish: 1:54:47

Except I should have been disqualified for ejecting a gel flask on the bike going over a bump, and getting pacing assistance on the run (thanks, David!). Good thing for me there weren't any officials on course. Actually that's a very strong run for me right off the bike, which I was pleased to see. I had no problem with "dead legs" after the bike leg, thankfully.

Perfect workout! Especially nice to see everyone and meet some new faces before Eagleman in two weeks. Next weekend we have another open water swim practice, which I especially need.

Mojo rocks!!

I received a mysterious surprise package in the mail over the weekend. Betagard? Huh? What's that?

But no, it was a wonderful selection of Mojo's products from her goat farm! You see, I've been bugging her for nearly forever to sell me online all the wonderful things she describes (hilariously) selling at the farmer's markets. So instead of actually selling me some things and making an actual business profit, instead she sent me a wonderful selection for FREE! That's no way to run a railroad, but as a grateful recipient of her largesse, I'm not complainin'!

And it's great stuff, too! Fragrant bath bombs, foaming milk bath, goat's milk soap, yummy cantelope lip balm and vanilla-blackberry lip balm. How wonderful! And also two little swimmer rubber duckies for my girls!! I can tell you right now the lip balms are fabulous and the bath bombs are a total luxury. My whole bathroom smells heavenly now.

Catherine snatched a duck right away and very perceptively noted that it had on glasses, just like she wears. Only different.

THANK YOU MOJO! That was so very kind of you, a huge surprise, and we greatly appreciated your generosity!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Heat acclimatization

Today's run in the late morning convinced me that I have a long way to go on heat acclimatization this year. Only 81*F heat index, but it still felt hotter and quite uncomfortable running in the full sun.

Exercise in the heat triggers these adaptations over a two-week period:
  • Lower core temperature at the onset of sweating
  • Increased heat loss via radiation & convection (skin blood flow)
  • Increased plasma volume
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Decreased core body temperature
  • Decreased skin temperature
  • Altered metabolic fuel utilization
  • Increased sympathetic nervous system outflow (efferent)
  • Increased oxygen consumption
  • Improved exercise economy
  • Adaptation to exercise in a cool environment
  • Adaptation to exercise in a hot environment
Lots of good detail on the process here.

But the take-home lesson for me today is: GET MOVING! And do it sensibly in the hotter time of the day if you're going to get your body adapted to the potentially scorching conditions at Eagleman in two weeks! And some sauna time wouldn't hurt, either. . . .

Note to self: Remember this fall that these adaptations can go away within 2 or 3 weeks too. You're going to need them at Ironman Florida in November, so remember to include some higher-temperature training and sauna time throughout the autumn!

Saturday, May 27, 2006


This morning was an early one. In Cambridge at Great Marsh Park by about 5:30AM, ready to set out on the Eagleman bike course at 6AM with a group of local riders from Cambridge Multisports.

David was particularly helpful in hanging with me on the second half when I was dropped by the peleton after stopping a couple of times to adjust my erratic bike computer.

Finish time for 56 miles was 3:23, for a 16.5 mph average. Excellent!!!! While I probably will be a lot slower than that on race day in two weeks, especially if the winds are bad, last year it took me nearly 3:56, for a 14.2 mph average. 33 minutes faster today! Somewhere between those two numbers, preferably toward the faster side, would be fine with me for the race!! Just fast enough to be followed by a strong run. Sounds like a good plan to me!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Good swim

Today was a nice relaxed swim back at the good pool. Just over 3000m - for my highest distance pool swim yet, I think! It felt nice and relaxed most of the way. I did a continuous 43-lap half-Ironman-distance-plus swim in the middle with a couple of quick breaks and it took about 57 minutes. That will be good enough to get me in under the cutoffs at Eagleman in 16 days, and hopefully I won't be exhausted after the swim this year!

Tomorrow I'm getting up well before the buttcrack of dawn (the peleton is rolling at 6AM) to join some of the nice folks from Cambridge for a ride around the Eagleman course. That will also be my highest-mileage ride of the year so far, so I'll take it at a comfortable pace with plenty of chamois cream, my new CMS jersey, and take a few photos to share also.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Photos from Columbia

Here's one from the end of the bike leg at Columbia last weekend. See? I told you I had fun! This was on one of the slower turns, maneuvering out of stopped traffic into the park, so I was up off the aerobars.

The running photos that *jeanne* took are all better than the official photographer's running shots.

This photo makes me look forward to some more long rides this coming weekend!

And here I am coming out of the water. I'm very happy that the swim is over, really I am!! I have no idea why I should look like I'm crying!!

Of course, I'm always about to fall over for the first wobbly three or four steps out of the water before my legs regain their circulation!

What's in a name?

Nancy is slang for an effeminate male, homosexual.

Nancy boy is slang for an effeminate male, homosexual.


Oh great.
No wonder I get weird hits on my blog.
Thanks, Mom.


Here's a bumpersticker that I saw today on a big fancy pickup truck which is probably appropriate for the cars of many of the cheating triathletes I see blasting by me in the peleton:

"I'm not tailgating. I'm drafting."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I'm a Big Mac kinda gal

This is incredible!

I'm the Story of the Day on the McDonald's Global Casting website for May 25th. (You may have to click on May 25th if you're reading this later).

The photo is courtesy of *jeanne* from the Columbia Triathlon one year ago.

Hey, if my aspiring triathlete story is picked out of all of them, we may get a free trip to London for a photo shoot! I wonder if Buttercup will be able to come along for her 15 minutes of fame?

I'm lovin' it! (tm)

Update: I just noticed in the picture they posted on the website, they edited out the FELT insignia on my bike! Funny! Too bad I couldn't give them some publicity, they make great bikes!


Special congratulations go out today to triathlete Holly on completing a full year of chemotherapy! Woo hoo! YOU MADE IT GIRL!! It was a long, tough road, but you traveled it in style!! How many other chemotherapy patients could complete both a marathon and a triathlon?

Long live N.E.D!!!

Back to the grindstone

Back to the old training routine now! After two days of letting my sore old body relax and recuperate, I'm back to training. 4 miles easy run today.

I have to get busy with that grindstone. You know, if I keep working at that grindstone long enough, I hope to grind away everything about this old body that doesn't resemble an Ironman. That's a lot to grind, you know? And if I keep at it diligently, sometime on the evening of November 4th I'll finish up all that grinding and out of the dust and debris will step a newly minted Ironman.

Other than that, we're just taking care of some routine doctor visits this week. Yesterday -three-year-old checkups and hepatitis A vaccines. Today - opthalmologist checkup for Elisabeth as a two-year-followup to her crossed-eyes surgery. Everything is normal except for Elisabeth's speech. No drama is good. I like no drama. I like my girls being healthy and happy and doing their everyday routine.

I had a nice chat with a mom of a very cute adopted Taiwanese boy in the waiting room about Marine Corps Marathon and some other marathons, since I wore my old 2001 Country Music Marathon t-shirt that was at the top of the heap this morning and I was in a hurry. I don't usually wear it in public since I was a DNF because of a stress fracture in my foot.

Flatman Returns! The Sequel.

Flatman is here:

Update your links!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Race Report: Columbia Triathlon

Columbia Olympic Distance Triathlon, Columbia, Maryland, May 21, 2006
SWIM 1500m: 37:23 (340th)
BIKE 41 km: 1:44:28 (14.6 mph) (314th)
RUN 10 km: 1:14:11 (37:33,36:38 splits) (351st)
FINISH 3:44:23
338th/390 women, 4th/4 Athenas over 40

This is my 2nd year for the Columbia Triathlon. In 2005 I finished in 4:06:58.

The swim:

I got in the water about 30 minutes early and got comfortable in the wetsuit and with the 68*F water temperature, which I think helped me a great deal. I was feeling a LOT of pre-race anxiety and I didn't want that to result in another hyperventilation episode like I've had in the past. I wanted to get that adrenalin surge over with before the start, and I think my approach worked. I didn't really swim far enough to get my muscles really heated up, I just swam back and forth a little bit and got my face in the water until I felt comfortable.

I got out of the water, drank a last-minute Ensure for a little nutritional boost, walked over the timing mats, and it was time to go. The other women in my wave and I jumped off the dock, treaded water during our countdown, and BOOM! It was time to race!

I was able to do a freestyle stroke the whole way from the start, which pleased me. On the first third of the swim on the way out I had completely clear water since I took the more direct route closer to the shore (on a good tip from my swim clinic last March), and everyone else seemed to hug the buoys in the center and take the long route on the outside line of the curve. That suited me just fine!

I was breathing hard enough the whole way that I had to take a breath every 2 arm-strokes. I had been hoping to do every 3 like I do in the pool, but that just wasn't enough air. Then all my breathing was on the side AWAY from the buoys, because one-sided breathing on my left was too uncomfortable, so that gave me some sighting problems. Note to self: Practice left-side breathing enough to be able to play that card in race situations when I need it.

No big wetsuit or goggle issues, fortunately. The wetsuit tends to make my arms and legs feel stiff so I don't think I was swimming with a very relaxed stroke or very proper form, but it was getting the job done. One stupid problem that I experienced was that my swim cap kept trying to work itself off. Maybe that means it's time to cut off my long bulky hair.

The swim seemed VERY LONG. I was thinking about my Australian swim-coach Yurtie swimming ten times as far. I was thinking HOW IN THE WORLD AM I EVER GOING TO DO A 2.4-MILE IRONMAN SWIM? Then I mentally scolded myself - this is NOT the time to be thinking about that! Get those thoughts out of your mind! So I went back to the mantra that Linae had suggested - Smooth. Strong. Smooth. Strong. Smooth. Strong.

The two things that slowed me down the most were sighting the buoys and getting discombobulated by contact with other swimmers - the two things I haven't been able to practice very well in the pool. In both cases I tended to disrupt my freestyle stroke and go into 2 or 3 breaststrokes, which slowed me down a lot. Occasionally I could swim through it and maintain my stroke, but not often. Most of the way I stayed out of the direct buoy-to-buoy route, but some people still swam up into me.

I knew that my wave and the wave behind me was all women, and I knew that I'm probably bigger and stronger-bodied than most of them, so it didn't scare me, and I didn't want to give anyone a nasty kick. Usually I just stroked my arms a little faster if someone hit my legs. But at one point someone laid their hand on my calf and held on and pushed down, and I'm afraid I may have reacted unconsciously like it was a sea serpent grabbing me, and kicked extra hard to get loose of her!

I don't think I swum up into anyone - I was probably much TOO careful about avoiding collisions and that lost me some time. At one point I was slowing down to avoid running into the feet of someone in front of me and then I remembered - Hey! You're supposed to be swimming behind them and catching a draft!! But I couldn't manage to hang with them, mainly because I couldn't see where they were unless I sighted out of the water repeatedly.

I think I could do a lot better in group swims if the water was clear enough to see the other swimmers underwater, but the water was so murky I couldn't even see my own arms.

The only other major problem that I had was a huge cramp in one calf about 2/3 of the way into the swim - after maybe 15-20 minutes of swimming. In a place that I never get calf cramps. I remember thinking "What is THAT all about!?" I'm not sure why it happened (toes pointed too long?) but it was painful and slowed me down until I worked it out. It was sore the next day - it seems there was a bit of muscle damage there.

No big problems exiting the water - I jogged off into transition pretty well with a big smile. I felt great to have the swim done! I noticed that a few people exiting the swim with me had my same cap color - which was a nice change, instead of being left behind by my entire wave of swimmers. I glanced at my watch, and quick mental math told me I was 11 minutes faster than last year! Yay! Much of the credit for that goes to Yurtie, who has been coaching me via email on my swim for the last year.

Swim to bike transition:

I thought this went smoothly and quickly, and I thought that I saved some time, but it was exactly the same time as last year! I jogged the whole length of the transition area, and my wetsuit came off fine (even though I did have to sit down on the grass to get the legs off and to get my cycling shoes on). The only time I took a few extra moments was to pee and to spray on sunblock (just as I had promised my friend Holly) - both valuable uses of my time! I also pulled on a sleeveless bike jersey over the jogbra that I did the swim in. Oh, and someone had tied a balloon to my bike. WTF!? That took me a few moments to untie!


I started out on the bike well, and used the relatively flat first two miles to rehydrate and refuel (from a gel flask). Oops! I realized that I had left my bike computer off - I had stored it overnight in my emergency bag under the seat. I decided not to stop to re-mount it, because it wouldn't help me be any faster, and my speedometer readings might get me discouraged on all the slow uphills I knew were in store for me. I was also familiar with the course and the distances so I didn't need my odometer to keep track of my location, and I had taped a split chart on my aerobars, so I could just use my watch to monitor my pace.

The big change from last year was that I had lots of FUN on the bike course! I joked with fellow riders, enjoyed the scenery, mooed loudly at the cows, and thanked the volunteers. I knew I wouldn't be terribly strong on the hills because I simply hadn't trained for them - it's extremely flat where I usually cycle, and my power/weight ratio still has a lot of adjustment to do in the denominator. That was okay and just what I expected from the course. No significant discomfort or problems anywhere, though a few of the climbs were slow and tedious. I tried to keep steady on the uphills, maintain a strong effort on the downhills, and keep an eye on the proper gear. Every landmark seemed to come earlier than I expected - time passes quickly when you're having fun!

I used the last two miles on the way back to finish hydrating and fueling, and ended up consuming over a liter of water and 4 fluid ounces of gel on the bike, along with 3 or 4 electrolyte capsules, so that kept me feeling pretty good.

I pulled into transition with a big smile on my face, about 5.5 minutes faster than last year. (I was even more pleased with that result later when I picked up my gear and was horrified to realize my left bike shoe cleat was barely hanging on by two loose screws!)

Bike to run transition:

The same thing happened - I thought this went smoothly and quickly, and I thought I saved time by jogging the whole way, but when I looked at my time it was exactly the same time as last year!


I stopped quickly to pee again after crossing the chip mats. Yes, I was well-hydrated! Then jogged off, and I remember thinking that my legs felt remarkably good for coming off the bike! The first mile includes a huge switchback uphill and I came to the first mile marker on pace for about a 1:10 10K. I took water and a gel and more electrolytes and kept up my pace around the lake.

At mile 2 or 3 things started to fall apart. I developed an incredibly severe side stitch, which was painful enough that I was forced to walk. By mile 4 I had mostly worked it out and was able to resume jogging, but it probably cost me 3 or 4 minutes. Nothing really to be done about it, though. Keep going strong for the finish line!

Just before mile 5 I saw my friend *Jeanne* again cheering me in. What a great boost! She took some great photos of my last mile and it was a wonderful surprise to see her out on the course again. No, she was NOT pacing me nor giving me aid on the course! She was running circles around me like a crazy woman, though!

Finally through the last few little twists and turns on the path and over the finish line. Hurrah! I was tired but smiling, and despite the side stitch I had finished the run at about a minute per mile faster than last year. Once again, it was a really great event and as soon as I started, I had FUN nearly the entire way!

I ended up taking 22:35 off my overall time from last year on the course, which is 9.1% faster. It puts me at somewhere around 4th Most Improved out of about 107 women who did both 2005 and 2006 races (by my count, those results haven't been posted), so I'm very happy with that result.



Monday, May 22, 2006

Columbia photos by *Jeanne*

*Jeanne* was kind enough to come over again this year and cheer me on for that final grueling mile of the Columbia Triathlon course. No, she was NOT pacing me nor giving me aid on the course! She was running circles around me like a crazy woman, though!

I keep telling her she should be a race photographer!!

You can just barely see the buttercups stuck in the side of my visor here that I picked on the course, that I was planning on giving to my bike Buttercup for a job well done. I forgot all about it later, though! What an ingrate, eh?

No job is finished until the cleanup is done. . . .

Swimming calf cramp

In my triathlon yesterday I got a major cramp in one calf only (not both) about 2/3 of the way into the swim - after maybe 15-20 minutes of swimming. In the leg that I never get calf cramps. I remember thinking "What is THAT all about!?"

I usually think of nutrition or hydration with muscle cramps, but I really think my nutrition going into the race was solid and I was drinking Gatorade and Ensure right down to 15 minutes before the start.

I'm thinking it was more a mechanical issue -- toes pointed too long without the calf getting the stretch they usually do from pushing off the wall while swimming in the pool.

Needless to say, I'd like to avoid this in the future! It was painful and slowed me down until I worked it out. It's sore today - it seems there was a bit of muscle damage there. Do any of my readers have experiences, avoidance tips, or words of wisdom to share?

Sidetracked while writing my race report

Catherine is really learning to count! In the bathtub today she counted "ONE, TWO" little boats. I gave her another one, and she counted "ONE, TWO, THREE!!"

Then walking downstairs after the bath, she counted all the way up to fourteen! We didn't have exactly a one-to-one correspondence between steps and numbers, but she had the right idea!

Then Elisabeth was signing "car", which I think is her way of asking if we can go in the car to St. Michaels. Or maybe I'm just projecting, because that's what I want to do too! I told her no, I'm sorry, we can't go today, but we can go on Thursday. She must have heard me correctly, since then she made her sign for "thirsty". (Thursday = thirsty, get it?)

I promised them that they can go to the Yacht Club to go swimming soon (when the outdoor pool opens next week). I'm not sure that they remember swimming there last year. Then Catherine chimed in, "And eat!" Yes, that's right, we'll eat there too, since we often go to dinner there!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Columbia pics

I didn't take many on race day. *Jeanne* was kind enough to meet me again in the last couple of miles and took a zillion!

Transition area madness, getting everything ready before 7AM when triathletes had to vacate the area:

My transition setup - after I politely-as-I-could-manage told a woman to move her bike off of leaning heavily against mine and that she couldn't set her stuff up in my assigned spot by my bike. (She was assigned a spot on the OTHER side of the rack).

Jude Apple (4th place Clydesdale out of 27!) filling up his aerobottle. See the balloon string? A woman next to me tied it there. When I came into T1 it was tied ONTO MY BIKE (WTF!?), which required a few moments to untie.

Columbia Triathlon: quick report

It was a beautiful day!! Perfect weather conditions both years that I've done this event. I'm getting a little faster, but my lack of hill training on an extraordinarily hilly course is still a big limiter! Long report some day. . . .

2006 official times:
SWIM 1500m: 37:23
BIKE 41 km: 1:44:28 (14.6 mph)
RUN 10 km: 1:14:11 (37:33,36:38 splits)
FINISH 3:44:23

PR and personal course record!
337th/389 women (86%)
4th/4 Athenas over 40

SWIM 1500m: 48:15
BIKE 41 km: 1:50:02
RUN 10 km: 1:20:21
FINISH 4:06:58

I'm off!

I'm catching up on a couple of emails while caffeinating before I jump in the minivan and speed off to Columbia, Maryland!

THANK YOU EVERYONE for all your encouraging words! They mean a lot to me and I will carry your good thoughts with me on the course today.

Watch this space for a quick-n-dirty race report later tonight!!!

And please please please may the Cookie Monster song ("C is for cookie, that's good enough for me") which is stuck in my head be replaced by something better before the start of the swim . . . .

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Racked, locked, and loaded

Buttercup is in her place and ready to go!

The Columbia Triathlon transition area - which sort of sits on a big ledge, with steep climbs or descents in every direction, in or out.

The swim start.

The swim finish. Last year I heard that volunteers spotted snakes swimming across this ramp. :-)

The bike course is wonderfully scenic.

This is the hill on which I dropped my chain last year, at about the halfway point of the course. Funny, it got much less steep in a year!

But the hills are relentless, one after another for the whole course.

And then there's the 10K run course, which has this nasty switchback going uphill hidden about a half mile into the course.

I'll be happy tomorrow when I finally see this finish line!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Final wetsuit test-run

Just got back from my final test-run of my wetsuit tops at the pool. The pool was lousy with aquajoggers and aquawaders and aquabiddies and aqua-old-farts. I had to get on the treadmill for half an hour hoping they would clear out, and they didn't. Gack.

I have a DeSoto Black Pearl two-piece and two tops (sleeveless and sleeved) that I wanted to test. The water was 86*F so it was too hot to test the bottoms without heat stroke, but they don't usually cause any problems for me. I just used a pull buoy to simulate the added buoyancy of the bottoms.

Test swims, 50m, comfortable, consistent pace:

Sleeved, pull buoy: 1:05 twice
Sleeveless, pull buoy: 1:10
Sleeveless, no pull buoy: 1:17

I guess the moral of the story is to hide the pull buoy inside the wetsuit bottoms somehow. Since my figure is considerably lumpier than the model at left, that shouldn't be a problem.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

These girls

Catherine has decided that she's ready for her first bike helmet all her own, since Mommy's doesn't fit very well:

And Elisabeth has come to the conclusion that clothing is entirely over-rated, which is apparently why I found her like this, immensely pleased with herself, in the big baby corral in the living room. Complete with wet spots on the floor. The blue box is just so I won't get accused of posting baby porn.