Saturday, September 30, 2006

We finished Chesapeakeman Aqua Velo!

Weather was beautiful and we finished the course, completing the first two legs of an Ironman; the inaugural edition of the only iron-distance aqua-bike in existence!*

As always, Ellie rocked the course - I won't steal her thunder, though, I'll let her tell her own story.

Too tired for a report right now, and no official times or placements yet, but my watch times were:

Swim (2.4 miles): 1:52 (some currents slowed us all down in a point-to-point swim in a tidal river)
Transition: Long - about 12 minutes
First half bike (56 miles): 3:36
Second half bike (56 miles): 3:22
Total bike (112 miles): ~6:58
Finish: 9:02

So I finished everything well under the cutoffs! Yay! But I'm just as glad I didn't have to follow it up with a marathon - at least not today!!

I've been corrected on this! Vineman has had a full aqua bike for a couple of years now.

It's showtime!

Ellie and I are just about to leave for Chesapeakeman!

Current weather outside:

46*F, 100% humidity.

Wind is supposed to stay under 6 mph through 8PM tonight.

I caught myself actually thinking (and saying) yesterday that I wished I was doing the full distance - with that little 26.2-mile run tacked on afterwards. Does that mean I might actually be ready for this monster?

No live updates today - this is a wonderful small event and the RD (Vigo) says he hopes to keep it that way. We're taking all your kind good wishes with us and will report back this evening on how the day went, 114.4 miles from now. (Actually 114.8, the bike course is 0.4 long).

LET'S ROCK AND ROLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Finger length

Quick, which is longer - your ring finger or index finger?

If your ring finger is longer, you're more athletic.

Mine, of course, is the wrong way around. Actually, they're about even in length.

BUT! My daughter Catherine (who LOVES to run) has a ring finger a whole nail longer than her index finger. However, her less-athletic twin sister Elisabeth has a longer index finger.

OK, so it might be interesting for chitchat in a bar some time. . . .

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The C-Man Aqua Velo plan

Plan the race, race the plan!

In my way of thinking, the race begins a week or two before the actual race. People say that they "forget" to taper, "forget" to sleep, "forget" to fuel right - which are simply acute symptoms of lack of pre-planning. It's like forgetting to train and forgetting to put air in your tires. Kinda mucks up the race, doesn't it?

Part of my plan is to use the day, especially the bike leg, as a dress rehearsal for Ironman Florida. With that in mind, I'll be taking on board a lot more calories during the bike leg than I would if I were riding like my race were actually over at the end of the bike (which it will be on September 30th - I guess I won't need much supper!). I'm also using a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in mostly "real" foods - I know from experience that works well for me on the bike as long as I'm not too overheated. Having only gels and sports drinks for 5 or 6 hours leaves me feeling shaky and irritable and with a nasty burn in my stomach, as if I had been eating candy for that entire period of time.

Here are my thoughts about the next 3 days:

Thursday: Finish packing my race bags so I don't fret about them and lose time and sleep at the last minute. I'll have four bags: 1) Swim start, 2) Bike start gear, 3) Bike special needs (mile 70), and 4) post-race. (Which will be reviewed with my packing list in hand, of course). I'll be certain to plan and get an extra-extra long night's sleep, because I usually sleep poorly the night before a race, and I don't want any accumulated sleep deprivation affecting me. Eat well and ignore the scale for a few days.

Friday: Rack the bike, attend the pre-race meeting, fuel extraordinarily well all day, and get in bed by 9PM.

Race day Saturday, pre-race nutrition: Breakfast on the 45-minute drive to the race site, probably to include a bagel, a hard-boiled egg, some V8 juice, and lots of coffee with whole milk and Gatorade. (OK, OK, I meant coffee and Gatorade separately!)

Swim: Go out at a comfortable pace, settle in for the duration, and stay relaxed. If you have extra zip, crank it up a notch after the bridge (halfway). If you get too bored, try alternating 25 strokes hard, 25 strokes moderate. Plan a few long songs for mental amusement in your mind in advance. If you hit sea nettles, pretend they're other swimmers at Ironman Florida. Enjoy the practice and the beautiful day.

Transition: Calm but brisk. Don't waste time, but don't hurry and forget anything. Smile and thank the volunteers. If you have sea nettle stings, take the extra time to treat them.

Bike, first out-and-back (to Mile 21): Settle in and maintain 145-150 bpm heart rate. Rehydrate. Start watch beeper and begin feeding plan at the 10 mile turnaround: Every 10 minutes drink and stretch and nibble some trail mix (craisins, apricots, cashews). Every 30 minutes take some gel or eat a portion of real food (half a Powerbar, half an Uncrustable PB&J, or half a Nature Valley Sweet 'n' Salty nut bar; or a piece of string cheese). This sounds like a lot, but I'm sure I'll choose to skip eating several times during the ride, too. Every 60 minutes or full water bottle (whichever comes first - it's probably going to be under 70*F and low humidity most of the ride) take 1 Succeed salt capsule. Stay on bike throughout without dismounting unless it's a dire emergency.

Bike, first loop (Mile 21 to Mile 67): Continue hydration, stretching, and feeding plan. Alternate water and Gatorade. Bring effort up slightly to 150-155 bpm heart rate. Pick up special needs bag and replenish as needed. Note downwind stretches where you might profit from going harder on the 2nd loop.

Bike, second loop (Mile 67 to Mile 112): Anticipate having a low point on this loop. Continue hydration, stretching, and feeding plan. Bring effort up very slightly to maintain 155-160 bpm heart rate through mile 95 (Maple Dam Road turn), then turn off HRM and go for broke for miles 95 through mile 112. (Note: based on weather reports, I expect that we may be picking up a tailwind at the 95-mile turn and riding it all the way to the finish. I hope.)

Finish: With nothing left. No run after the bike leg - try not to think about that long run you're doing tomorrow! Thank the volunteers and cheer on the other finishers.

Any thoughts on my plan? Recommendations?

Great final swim!

I was able to run over to the YMCA today and get in one last prep swim before Chesapeakeman Aqua Velo on Saturday.

I put on my new race goggles, all ready for Saturday, and just started swimming hard. I always have a difficult time in the first 200-300 yards of a swim, and I wanted to simulate that breathless feeling in practice before the race.

Open turns, hit my watch split button with every lap, like always. First lap felt like I was swimming in place for part of the time, but whoops! 1:01 for 50 yards. Hmm, that might be a PR for me! Let's keep swimming hard and see what happens! Stroke, stroke, pull, pull.

500 yards: 10:54, or 2:10/100 yards.
Hooray! That's a new PR! Woo hoo!
If I could keep that up (and I can't, yet) that would give me a 1:32 Ironman swim. Some day, perhaps!

I got out after 1200 yards today, just enough to stay loose. Yeah, I remember when it used to be a very long swim for me, but now it's just a quick dip in the pool. I didn't want to tire out my arm muscles before race day. I quit while the quitting was good, and hopefully ensured that I didn't leave my race in the training pool.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Declaring my intentions

This Saturday is a little prelimary exam for me prior to Ironman Florida - Chesapeakeman Aqua Velo. All the swim, all the bike, none of the run, none of the crowds, none of the travel, none of the hype. Should be a great day! Weather forecast right now looks near-perfect: Low of 57*F, high of 67*F. Hopefully calm winds (knock on wood).

Bolder likes to talk about declaring one's intentions prior to race day. "Okay, Nancinator, what's it going to be?" I can almost hear him asking now. All right, I'll put it down in black and white here and make it real.

Let's go step by step. The best predictor of future performance is past performance, so I'm going to base my predictions on some of my recent race performances, and hope that I can put it all together on race day.

SWIM 2.4 miles. This is highly dependent upon winds and waves and currents in the Choptank River. They had a calm day and a tail-current last year, gifts from the tri-gods, and the slowest swim of the day was 1:29. This year the currents won't be nearly as favorable. My dream goal would be to swim happy and relaxed and come out of the water at double my watch time from Steelhead, or under 1:38:10. My baseline goal is to finish the swim within the 2:20 time limit and gain a PR for distance in open water.

Transition. I've gone through this transition area twice before, at two Eagleman half Ironman races. Once in 4:31, but I had a near-perfect bike spot at the exit gate. The previous time I came out of the water very tired and had a transition time of 7:34. I'm also planning on changing into dry bike shorts and cycling jersey in transition, which may add a bit of time. I'll call it closer to the latter time and set a transition goal of under 6:50.

BIKE 112 miles. This is a pancake-flat course, but the winds can wreak havoc on your time. Doubling my time on the Eagleman course in June, minus the time I spent filling the flat, would give me a time of 7:04:30. With about 1100 miles on the bike deposited in the Bank of Ironman since that day, I think I can do better - and my pace on a hilly 56-mile course in August (until I flatted) was better than that too. I'm going to call my dream goal a sub-7:00 bike leg, which works out very neatly to a 16.0 mph average pace. My baseline goal is to finish the bike within the 10:00 combined time limit, and gain a PR for race distance on the bike. Assuming I'm out of transition in 2 hours, this will allow me about 8 hours on the bike leg or a minimum pace of 14.0 mph.

Total finishing time:
  • Dream goal: under 8:45 (before 3:45 PM).
  • Baseline goal: finish under the 10:00 cutoff (before 5:00 PM).
But you know what? I'll tell you a secret. My deep-dark ultra-secret real goal is to have fun. It's just not a good race day unless I'm grinning like a fool half the time.

In the next day or two I'll write up and post my race plan, the method to my madness that is going to make the dream goal a few notches closer to reality.

Monday, September 25, 2006

My big girl

For those who have asked about Elisabeth's progress in school - thanks for being interested! She's gradually getting used to the idea, I think.

Today began her second week of preschool. When we were dropping her off she whimpered for a little while when we arrived, which I think is really just her way of expressing a bit of anxiety. When Teacher came to get her, Elisabeth stopped whimpering and took her hand and marched off into the school without a backwards glance!

Later, a conversation that I had with Catherine in the car:

Me: "We're going to go pick up Elisabeth, and then go home."

Catherine, repeating back to me as if to confirm: "Go get Wizbit, then go playground."

Me: "Nice try, but uh, no, that is NOT what I said."

Then when we picked up Elisabeth, she always looks a little tired and dazed (see photo), but she did manage to wave goodbye at her teacher today. That's a first!

I think she'll do fine. It still cracks me up to see my big girl walking around underneath her oversized backpack, all 33 inches of her.

We did the same homework all 5 days last week. Today she made a coloring book and we'll review the new vocabulary words in it tonight. Nose to the grindstone, burning the midnight oil, and all that.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Mommy radar

Usually my Mommy Radar works pretty well to detect disruptions in the ionosphere around the house, but today I think it was broken or something. After Catherine "helped" me work on my bike (I cleaned the bike for my next race and took an extra link out of the chain which is always a messy job, "GET YOUR HANDS OFF THAT RIGHT NOW CATHERINE!"), she decided to amuse herself by taking everything out of the medicine cabinet.

Fortunately I had already recently relocated all the dangerous stuff out of reach in the other newly installed cabinets. (Yes, she picked out that outfit herself. Her mother doesn't dress her THAT funny.)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Danger Girl

Hey - that's me!

I love these. More here.

Weekend chores

I may not be getting much training done this weekend, but I'm getting a few things done around the house. First job was re-painting the trim around the back door. The wood was starting to rot around the door, because there's no overhang and the rain tends to get driven against the door frame. I did some temporary filling with plastic wood and then painted it. The framing really should be replaced, but we'll do that next year after the winter damage is finished.

Then I finished up installing some much-needed storage in the bathroom. I bought these at Home Decorators online and assembled them today. Pretty exciting, eh? In a house as small as ours, we need to use every nook and cranny we can find for storage.

Then the babysitter cancelled for tomorrow. Bah! Not sure what I'll do then, tomorrow, but it may involve setting up the bike on the trainer while I cheer on Ironman Sarah Reinertsen in Amazing Race.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Easton, Maryland rail-trail

Today to make good use of the 2.5 hours that Elisabeth is in preschool, I took Catherine over to the rail-trail in that town. I hadn't been on it before. It's a straight level path, pretty deserted today. It was nice to jog on with the single jogstroller (rather than the humongous double-wide) for a change! Catherine was delighted that we also found a playground close to the trail.

The whole thing is only 2.5 miles long, and the drivers in town are not good about yielding to runners (even with baby strollers), but even so, it's quite convenient for me and I think I'll make good use of it in the future!

On the old station, long since renovated, they had an old schedule and some photos of trains posted. In the "olden days" they had trains direct from there to Penn Station in New York, arriving in just about five hours. I wish they still had it running, it would be a nice leisurely way to travel up there!

Burning thighs

I've been reading a bit about the benefits of short bouts of high-intensity work on aerobic performance. When I don't have much time for a workout, I try to go hard. Yesterday was one of those days.

I had less than 90 minutes to ride, once the babysitter arrived and my heart rate monitor was in place and the tires were pumped up and Buttercup and I were both ready to roll.

I tried to go as hard as I could maintain, and then do some higher-intensity miles one at a time. The heart rate was up to nearly 160 for the higher-intensity bouts, which usually got me above 20 mph. Then when I wasn't concentrating, the heart rate would drift down to the upper 130s. The funny thing was that I was still holding 18-19 mph sometimes even with a lower heart rate, which told me I had a pretty good tailwind going.

I also re-learned that it's much easier to maintain a given speed than accelerating and decelerating. And also that it's really easy and takes only moments for your average speed to drop quickly, but it's really difficult and takes a long time to bring it back up again. And cranking really hard on those pedals makes these big old thighs burn!

I ended up covering 18.3 miles (including the slow part through town) in 60:00. My average speed for 22.5 miles ended up being 18.2 mph, though. Some day that will be my sustainable speed on the bike. Right now it's my PR pace for a closed-loop ride over 20 miles. It's inching upwards, one-tenth mph at a time.

Yeah, it's all about the numbers for me! The biggest numbers that I'm keeping in mind every single day: 140.6 miles in 16:59 or less. Every workout serves that goal right now.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

To the post-Ironman Future Me

Ironman J. had an intriguing idea for me, which really made me ponder, but still has me a bit stumped. I'm looking for your input on this one.

He recommended that I write an email to the "future me" (using this emailing service) to have delivered after my Ironman race is over. He said that I should include all the fear, excitement, etc., that I'm feeling right now.

What would you include? What should I include?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Second day of preschool

This morning we started off with a little walk around the track to get Elisabeth accustomed to the idea that she DOES have to walk on her own two little feet and her servile minions are NOT going to come pick her up from the crumpled heap and whisk her off effortlessly to her final destination. We had a few rounds of disagreement before she decided to walk along nicely. It was a lot like training a contrary dog to heel.

Then we headed to school. She actually seemed like she was looking forward to it (I could almost see her thinking, "Sure beats getting yelled at on some dumb old track") and climbed in the minivan all on her own. I asked her again if she liked school. Silent nod. I asked her again if she liked her teacher. Silent nod. Okay, that's good.

At school she only burst out into tears and clung desperately with her two little arms wrapped around my left knee at the very last minute, and with the help of the teacher we were able to pry her off and send her on her way.

Then Catherine and I went home again. I don't remember now what we did in the intervening time, but soon enough it was time to drive the 11 miles back to school and pick Elisabeth up. She walked out in the lobby being led by the hand by a cute little blonde girl who seemed like she knew the ropes. Elisabeth looked a little dazed, but she was walking along like she was supposed to, wearing her hugely oversized backpack like a big girl and I was really proud of her. She got good reports from the teacher. I think she's still overwhelmed with all the new things at school, but she still seems to like it. I felt like she wanted to tell me about her day at school, but she can't really speak yet, so that didn't work so well for her.

Then we came home, the babysitter arrived for a couple hours of Mommy Freedom, and I turned around and drove back the 11 miles to the YMCA, which is about a quarter mile from the school.

I got in a great swim!! What a nice getaway from running around after the girls! 2200 yards, including 3 sets of 500 yards in 12:00, 11:38, and 12:12. Woot! Looking back in my logs, I can see that in February of this year I was delighted to swim 13:47 for 500m (12:36 for 500 yards). Now my normal routine swimming speed over 1500m averages about 5% faster than that (11:57 for 500 yards total or 2:23 per 100 yards). That's definitely a good thing!! I'm also suddenly much more comfortable doing freestyle than I am doing breaststroke. When did that switch happen, I wonder!? I guess it just flip-flopped somewhere in the last 75 miles of swimming. . . .

When I got home again I checked Elisabeth's backpack. She has THREE PAGES OF HOMEWORK. ON HER SECOND DAY OF PRESCHOOL. She's only three years old. Poor kid. Four vocabulary words per page (Favorite. Different. Family. etc.), with diagrams and signs. We're supposed to review them and Mom is supposed to sign them and send her back with it so that she can earn a sticker. The pressure to perform is really on now!

Monday, September 18, 2006

First day of preschool

We jumped through enough (but not all) of the hoops in order to get Elisabeth admitted into therapeutic preschool. We still don't have her official birth certificate, but we had a signed birth letter from the hospital and her social security card. So obviously the Feds know she exists and count her as a citizen, so the school should too, right?

The first day of preschool was today. It was a little rough. She was crying when we left her there and collapsing in a heap on the floor. The teacher arrived and whisked her away fast enough that I didn't have time to get choked up about how my little baby is all grown up now. Catherine and I left, and took a shopping trip to Walmart and bought fun things like Elmo slippers and Teletubbies videos, both of which Elisabeth should like. We even had a few extra minutes to split a McDonald's Happy Meal (but NO, that won't be a daily occurrence!) and even saved half the fries and the toddler toy for Elisabeth to have later.

When we picked her up she was wearing the change of clothes that we had brought, which I understand is never a good sign. She was kind of red-eyed and the teacher said she had been crying off and on during the day. She did get one good grade for sitting on the toilet, but her outfit got dumped in the bowl in the process so she had to be changed. Then apparently they had a fire drill during the 2.5 hours she was there, which couldn't have been much fun dragging a bunch of crazed three-year-olds outside and back in again, let alone one who collapses when she doesn't want to walk in the same direction that you happen to be headed. So Elisabeth got homework her very first day: More work on walking next to an adult without collapsing and insisting on being carried.

Yes, Elisabeth is carrying this Empress thing a little too far. The bearers of her imperial sedan chair have gone on strike and she's going to have to walk on her own two little feet in the future.

I asked her if she liked school, and (to my surprise) she nodded yes, and then I asked her if she liked her teacher, and she nodded yes again. It's never clear if she actually understood the question, but at least she said she liked it. I expect she'll be unhappy at dropoff time for at least the first week or two, though.

Hopefully the remainder of her formal education will proceed a teensy bit more smoothly.

Stickler for detail

For triathlons to be called "Olympic" or "international" distance, the relevant distances are approximately: 1.5k swim (1500m or 1640 yards or .93 miles), 40k bike (24.8 miles), 10k run (6.2 miles).

If any one or more of the legs is substantially less than any of those numbers, it's a sprint distance. Regardless of how it's promoted.

Just so you know.

Another note: Try not to compare your times with pros doing some Olympic-distance races, because often they are draft-legal for the pros. In that case they're going to be able to bike about twice as fast as us poor shmucks cycling all alone out there. Unless you cheat and draft, but that's another rant. . . .

But if you do a real Olympic-distance triathlon and don't draft, anything approaching 2 hours finish time is incredibly professional-level fast. Under 2:45 is pretty darned smokin' fast for just about any female.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I'm very, very slow

BUT: I did finish up my century after all.

The only problem is that my average speed was about 4 miles per hour, since it took me over a day to complete it!

Back out on the bikes today at 8AM with my training buddy David. We did 26.4 miles at 17.3 mph rolling average, PLUS changed 2 rear flats (one apiece). It took me eleven minutes to change a rear flat - at least my speed is improving on tire-changing!

THEN with a superhuman effort we completed 2 miles on the track. 10:13 and 10:44. That's a pretty brisk pace for me with my old achy thighs today!

OK, maybe I don't suck as badly as I thought. It sure helped that it was a perfect day with a crystal clear blue sky today. I'm sure glad that I didn't have to change that flat in the pouring rain yesterday. Thanks for the reassurance, folks!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Is it time for the official pre-race panic yet?

I suck. I only made it 75.9 miles in today's ride. I suppose that's good for a metric century (122 kilometers), but it's definitely much less than the 112 to 120 miles (180 km+) that I was planning for today.

I got tired and tired of being rained on. I called it a day and weenied out.

The preliminary exam is going to be in 2 weeks at the Chesapeakeman Aqua Velo, where I'll be attempting a 2.4-mile swim among the sea nettles in the Choptank River followed by 112 miles on the bike. Will I make it? I guess we'll all have to wait and see!

Bike transport to IMFL

Note to self: C. O. B. Saturday October 28th at Bonzai Sports in Falls Church, Virginia. Pedals off. Bag packed and sent along with wetsuit, helmet, bike shoes, and pedals. That is my bike Buttercup's appointment with destiny when she gets ready to board the Big TriBikeTransport Truck, headed for Ironman Florida.

I'll pick her up again some time between my arrival and 5PM at the race venue at Panama City Beach, Florida.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Nation's Marathon

Here's an event in Washington, DC next spring that I'm thinking about doing! It's the second running of this marathon, with a course entirely within the District (unlike Marine Corps Marathon, which starts and finishes in Virginia).

It looks like they have VASTLY improved the course from last year, running it through much more scenic and pleasant and interesting neighborhoods this year, and toning down the hills in the second half. Hmm, prices go up after September 30th, I should try to decide by then if I'll run it. There are qualifying standards for entering, and I just barely squeak by on the 10k in 1:05 standard, after running a 1:03:17 last April. Just fast enough to guarantee that I'll probably finish right at the back of the pack! No problem, it's all familiar territory to me. Maybe I can even score a marathon DFL placement! Hmm, yes, last year's DFL finisher had a time 9 minutes faster than my (admittedly soft) marathon PR.

I wonder if they have a significantly lower pecentage of women in this marathon than the average marathon, since they have no gender distinction in qualifying times, unlike the Boston Marathon?

Unfortunately, it won't count as a new "state" for me, since I've already done Marine Corps Marathon (which counts for DC) and Richmond Marathon (which counts for Virginia), as well as Baltimore Marathon (in nearby Maryland). But it sure is nice to be able to sleep in your own bed after a big race like this.

Anyone with me? Jeanne or *jeanne* or any of my other readers out there in Blogland?

Jumping through hoops

This is a post all about my kids, so skip ahead if you're just here for triathlon. Yesterday I had a final pre-admission meeting at the schools today to see about getting entry for my daughters Catherine and Elisabeth to therapeutic preschool.

Catherine isn't eligible! She tested out, at a 30-36 month age level in most areas, and up to a 4-year-old level in some skills. Which is ultimately very, very, very good news for a 28-week, 2-pound-4-ounce preemie to come through it all essentially unscathed, except needing glasses. (You should have seen her on the playground yesterday - she attracted a whole circle of older girls around her, fawning over her and trying to adopt her as their pet.)

Elisabeth is going to have 2.5 hours of preschool 5 days per week, 1 PM to 3:30 PM each weekday afternoon. Out of that she will be pulled out for an hour of Occupational Therapy and 2 hours of Speech Therapy every week.

The admissions process has been awful - OVER THREE MONTHS time and paperwork and meetings and jumping through their hoops to establish official residency. We're still not certain if we are through those obstacles - according to the local tax collectors, my husband and I can't have different official residences unless we're legally separated. Oh, thanks a bunch, that's very helpful. Honestly, the process would be easier if we were divorced and had a custody agreement! Anyway, he has to change residency and file income tax in this state for Elisabeth to be eligible to enroll, and it's touch and go whether we will have all that paperwork completed on time to their satisfaction.

But I like the teachers and therapists very much, they seem genuinely interested in her and interact with her very well. So I think in the long run it will be a good thing for Elisabeth. I hope she likes it and benefits from it. On the playground today Elisabeth just stood back by herself and watched all the other kids and was quite shy, so I think it should do her a lot of good to be around other kids more.

My other "problem" will be figuring out what to do with Catherine during the 2.5 hours that Elisabeth is in school each day! The school is 11 miles away. We could drive home and drive back and have about 1:30 at home; we could go out in the jogstroller or on the bike with the kid-carrier; we could go together to the YMCA (but they have no child care during those hours, so I wouldn't get much of a workout, but we could play in the pool), we could shop; go to the library; maybe get a haircut occasionally; I don't know what else!! I had thought I might be able to put her in a highly-regarded preschool at a local church, and get a couple free hours in which to train, but they only have morning programs, which doesn't really help at all and would simply add another layer of running around. We'll see.

There's always the McDonald's playground, right?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Nation's Triathlon followup

Well, it's a duathlon now, sooner than even I had feared. I'm sure glad I didn't register. I'd really like to see this event succeed, but it's not looking good.

From the race director:

"Swim Segment. We received a letter 9/12/06 from the DC Metro Police stating the Harbor Permit we submitted was denied. The swim segment will be canceled and a 3k run substituted in its place. . . . In recognition for having to cancel the swim, and as our way of saying thanks, all 2006 competitors will receive a $50 registration credit towards the 2007 Nation's Triathlon."

Someone on the TriRats local email list made this very valid observation:

"I've got to say I feel a bit deceived by this. I fully expected the possibility that the swim would be canceled due to poor water quality, particularly as rain is expected the next few days. That's a gamble that all registered participants knew they had to take. However, the race director failed to mention that he still had outstanding, unapproved permits for permission to swim in the water. That's an entirely separate consideration and one that he failed to inform us of. He must have known that there was a strong possibility his permit would be denied, yet he went ahead and advertised his race as a triathlon and omitted the fact that he had yet to be granted permission to swim in the Potomac. Gee, how inconceivable that he might never be granted permission to swim in the Potomac. Anyway, I feel for the guy and all he's had to go through to get an event organized downtown, but I do feel a bit like I've been snookered on this one. And a $50 rebate on an event that may very likely not even occur next year - yeah, thanks a lot."

Update: I understand that the race director has now (Thursday September 14) contacted registrants and offered a full refund. BRAVO! That's a very positive gesture. If I had registered I wouldn't accept, I'd go ahead and do a duathlon. But I haven't, so I won't. I'm glad to hear it, though, and truly hope this event goes forward and earns a great reputation in our nation's capital.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Century Saturday

Good news/bad news kind of a day!

Bad news: My training buddy David can't ride with me on Saturday when I had planned to ride 112-120 miles. Also my babysitter is sick today so I can't get in the 20-25 miles shorter ride I had hoped to do on the bike, at least not outside.

Good news: I just found out that they're having the St. Michaels Century this Saturday, which conveniently departs from the high school a mere block from my house promptly at 8:00 AM. Woot! I DNF'd the metric century for this last year due to back pain. These days 52 miles (the distance at which I stopped last year) is a "medium" ride for me. One hundred miles still feels pretty darned long, though, so I'm glad to have the support of an organized ride. I can redeem myself this year and finish the full century, if the Bike Gods are willing! The weather forecast looks fabulous, sunny and mid-70s. Bring it on!

Ironman triathlon packing list

The unseasonably cold weather at IM Wisconsin prompted me to add a lot more items to my packing lists for Ironman Florida (which I'll test-drive at Chesapeakeman in 2 1/2 weeks). I've been working on my lists, thanks very much to everyone for their tips! Here's what I've got so far. It looks like a lot, but I've itemized lots of little things that will be packed away. Don't worry, I'm not going to actually take all the pharmaceuticals I have listed, I usually carry them for insurance in case I really need them (like Benadryl in case I get annoying sea nettle stings at Chesapeakeman).

Yes, I'm definitely a chronic over-packer. That said, on race day I will try to K.I.S.S. in my special needs bags, which does help me save time - I want to make sure I have everything packed along with me in my suitcase, and then I'll make some final decisions when I get a last-minute weather report and pack my transition bags. Also remember than anything extra in special needs bags that is unused goes in the garbage. And no glass in the bags!

Suggestions for me??

(People using Bloglines: Please forgive me when this post keeps popping up - I'm going to probably keep revising and adding to it as I remember things.)

Note: I have a previous list for shorter-distance triathlons that I use here; but an Ironman a plane flight away is a different animal!

Post-it notes
Floor pump
Pedal wrench
Extra cleat screws
Snack-sized, quart-sized, and gallon-sized ziplocks for food and organizers
Garbage bags to cover bike and maybe run in

1 Imodium
2 ibuprofen
String cheese or hardboiled eggs
Muffins or bagels
Coffee and whole milk
Pepcid AC
Allergy drugs
Bike, tuned up, new tires and tubes road-tested, pumped, fully packed bento box & seat pack
Aerobottle filled
Bike computer zeroed
Bike gears set low

Wetsuit (packed in 2 grocery bags for slipping it on)
Race swim cap
Timing chip/strap
Extra goggles
Gatorade bottle
Heart rate monitor
Lycra shorts
1 Imodium
1 Benadryl - Chesapeakeman

Baby oil gel
Aveeno Baby (chamois cream)
Extra contacts and small bottle of solution
Spray sunblock
Heart rate monitor
Jersey, in pockets: gel flask
1 bottle Gatorade
1 bottle water
Helmet (with number)
Bike gloves (also full-finger gloves?)
Bike shoes (double-check cleats!)
Bike shorts
Bike socks
Bike sunglasses (also clear and amber lenses)
Race belt with number attached
Arm warmers
Technical shirt base layer?
Benadryl gel? Baggie/washcloth with baking soda solution? for sea nettles at Chesapeakeman (distribution map)
1 Benadryl - Chesapeakeman
Rain jacket (with zip-off sleeves) or cycling vest?
Leg warmers? Tights?

ON BIKE (otherwise known as the Rolling Smorgasbord(TM))
Bottle of water (aerobottle)
Bottle of Gatorade
Apricots and cashew mix
1 Powerbar in baggie
2 Uncrustable PB&J
1 nut bar or Larabar
2 string cheese
2 8-hour Tylenol
1 Imodium
2 ibuprofen
2 Excedrin
2 Rolaids
1 Pepcid AC
Tube of salt capsules
Bento Box: spare contacts, eyedrops, Chapstick, food, salt capsules, etc.
Seat bag: 2 tubes, 4 CO2 canisters, tire levers, multi-tool, patch kit, tire boots, piece duct tape

Notes to myself
A second 5-oz. gel flask
Can of Mountain Dew or Coke
1 Powerbar in baggie
1 nut bar or Larabar
2 string cheese
2 Uncrustable PB&J
Goldfish or Chex mix or Pringles
V8 or pickle juice
2 extra CO2 canisters
1 extra tube
salt capsules
Small chamois cream
Small sunblock

Running shoes
Clean socks in a ziplock
Lycra running shorts
Running singlet
Technical running t-shirt
Reflective tape applied
Waist pack with eyedrops, spare contacts, Chapstick, salt capsules, 1 Pepcid AC, glucose tablets
Cycling shell with zipoff sleeves
Baby oil gel for lubing toes
Long-sleeved technical shirt
Cotton gloves
V8 or pickle juice
Insect repellent?
Garbage bag for heavy rain?
Post-race sweatshirt/warmups?

Notes to myself
Clean socks in ziplock
Extra baby oil gel
Extra salt capsules
Extra glucose tablets
Goldfish or Chex mix or Pringles
2 caffeine
2 Excedrin
2 Rolaids
Ensure or chocolate milk
V8 or pickle juice

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ironman Wisconsin

Congratulations to everyone who toed the line yesterday at Ironman Wisconsin and gave it their best. According to the local weather records, yesterday it only got up to 59*F, 14 degrees below the average temperature, there was 0.46 inches of rain during the day, and the wind speeds were as high as 20 mph with gusts to 23 mph. Brutal conditions for everyone! Special credit goes to those Iron Volunteers who were out there sharing the nasty conditions with the athletes, making the event possible for them, doing the dirty work without the opportunity to get a medal for their efforts.

According to preliminary 2006 results, of the 2439 triathletes who completed the swim portion of the course, at least 266 of them (10.9%) never made it to the finish line. Of 2475 starters, 302 (12.2%) got DNFs.

And yet today, the registration for next year's triathlon was completely sold out within one hour.

What kind of crazy sport is this!? There's a lot of people out there who want a chance at that challenging course and many more with scores to settle there!

We remember

That day five years ago, I was driving from home, 3 miles from the Pentagon, to my job on the Quantico Marine Corps Base when the confusing, conflicting news reports started coming over the radio. Just before I pulled into the gate the plane had hit the Pentagon, and I told the awful news to the Marine guard at the gate. We listened to the radio all day in shocked disbelief. The I-95 interstate was closed to all traffic most of the day, so I had to wait at work until it reopened. No phone calls could go through, but email was working to get in touch with people, while we desperately tried to get news from friends in New York City.

When I finally drove back home at the end of the day, I-95 was strangely deserted. The skies were bizarrely silent, with all planes grounded. The Pentagon was still burning when I passed, a long plume of smoke drifting up into the sky.

We will always remember.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Training and race miles

I did a little calculation today, just to see how my workout miles were comparing to the ratio of distances in an Ironman triathlon.

Race distance 140.6 miles (in my goal race Ironman Florida):
  • 2.4 miles swim = 1.71%
  • 112 miles bike = 79.65%
  • 26.2 miles run = 18.63%
So far, my year-to-date totals and ratios with 2734 total training miles in the books are:
  • 74.2 miles swum = 2.71%
  • 2089.2 miles biked = 76.41%
  • 570.6 miles run = 20.87%
Not too far off the mark percentage-wise! I'm swimming more because that's my weakest leg. The biking needs to come up a bit, and probably will after I finish a few more long rides.

Looking ahead

Today I updated my annual USATriathlon membership and then submitted my entry for Eagleman 70.3 in Cambridge, Maryland, next June 10th. It will be my third venture onto the course - at 45 minutes from home, it's practically in my backyard and pancake flat, so it's just about as "easy" as a half-Ironman triathlon ever gets. I'm trying not to plan too much after Ironman Florida, but registration opened today for Eagleman and will probably fill quite early so I went ahead, held my nose, and JUMPED! Are you in?

Another long run in the books

My training buddy David was already in the driveway when I emerged from my house at 7AM, and it was time to rock and roll! We went the same route as last week, only another loop or two around the golf course. Finished up 16.8 miles at about a 13 min/mile pace, including lots of walk breaks and an extended visit to the woods for me. That's not bad for my Long Slow Distance pace - if I kept it up for another 10 miles I'd break my marathon PR by 12 minutes! It's also my biggest mileage on the roads since the Goofy Marathon last January. So that's some GOOOOOD training! And that little 51-mile bike ride yesterday (and the 2-mile swim the day before) didn't seem to affect me at all! Yeah!!

I don't think I'll run much longer distance than that before Ironman Florida - maybe 2 or 3 more long runs in the 15 to 18 mile range. One will be a long run with Ellie on the day after the Chesapeakeman Aqua Velo. Another will include the Baltimore Half Marathon on October 14 for a nice time trial three weeks before Ironman Florida, with maybe a 5K tacked on after the end for a cooldown.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

In modeling news....

We all know I'm the last person in the world to follow fashion, but I thought this was a positive piece of news from the Madrid fashion scene:

"Excessively skinny fashion models will be barred from a major Madrid fashion show later this month for fear they could send the wrong message to young Spanish girls. . . .

Madrid's regional government, which is co-financing the Pasarela Cibeles, has vetoed around a third of the models who took part in last year's show because they weigh too little.

The authorities collaborated with a Spanish health organisation to come up with a minumum body mass -- a height-weight ratio -- of 18 for the models.

Spanish daily ABC said it was the first time such restrictions had been imposed on a fashion show, although a recent wedding dress exhibition in Barcelona banned fashion models who took a dress size below 38 (British size 10, US size eight). . . .

Organisers said they wanted to "help ensure public opinion does not associate fashion, and fashion shows in particular, with an increase in anorexia, a disease which, along with bulimia, is considered . . . as a mental and behavioural problem"."

Summer's not over yet

But it is definitely winding down. The weather still seems like summer here, and probably will for another month or two. It's the pleasantest time of year here!

First order of business today was my bike ride - another few hours training with my buddy David. No photos, but we did a great pace (for me) of 17.0 mph for 51 miles. Which, strangely enough, is a shorter ride for me these days! (Not long enough to really tell if I had improved my little problem with razor blades). David went out for another identical loop after I quit - good for him! We'll ride longer again next weekend. But I'm very happy with putting my first 176-mile bike week down in the old spreadsheet!

I had to stop early to attend our local community meeting today. We gathered for our little annual neighborhood business meeting while we watched the log canoes race on the Miles River and stuffed ourselves on a sumptuous potluck. We brought amaretto cheesecake, and fortunately (?) there were leftovers to bring home.

Earlier in the week we made several daily trips to the playground, as we do almost every non-rainy day.

Elisabeth and Catherine are starting to demand to take photographs themselves with my little camera. Mostly they take pictures of fingers and parts of their hands and the ground, but occasionally a few come out great! The nice part of digital photos is that they're all free, and you can let the kids "burn film" at an astonishing rate.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

3/8ths of an inch

Okay, per all your expert advice, I adjusted the nose of my bike saddle down a fraction today and took it out for a 90-minute ride to see if that would help my little problem with Razor Blades in the Crotch. Maybe I have a weird pelvis or something, but I can get the saddle to fit sitting up, or I can get it to fit in aero position, but not both. So we're choosing aero position and reserving the uncomfortable angles for periodically sitting up and stretching only. Hopefully that will work.

I worked on repeated intervals of 1 minute high-cadence (95-105 rpm) and 4 minutes regular cadence (80-85 rpm). I tried to really push it and got up past 23 mph range during the high cadence intervals with a tailwind, which is pretty speedy for me on the flat! However, average speed came out to be just 17.1 mph over 22 miles.

I love tailwinds.

No razor blades today! Then again, it was "only" 22 miles. The razor blades spontaneously emerge from the saddle at about 70 or 80 miles. I'll see how it goes on the next long ride.

Note to self: Stop forgetting your heart rate meter! You need it so that you don't get discouraged riding into headwinds.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The ocean wilderness

If I weren't worried enough about the Ironman Florida 2.4-mile ocean swm, this part of a commentary on Steve Irwin's death reinforced some of my deepest fears:

"The oceans are a rougher and more difficult wilderness for humans to function in than any encountered by terrestrial or space explorers. The sea pummels us with an unbreathable and corrosive liquid medium; altered visual and acoustic characteristics; changing temperatures, depth and pressures; upwellings; tides; currents; sudden storms and giant waves. Drowning, not animals, accounts for the vast majority of ocean-related deaths, including about 200,000 in the giant Asian tsunami of December 2004 and many of the 1,800 people who died as a result of Hurricane Katrina."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. Yep, I've got it in spades!

I know what to expect for soreness after running - if I do a lot of hills my mid-quads and my lower back get sore. I'd also expect some thigh soreness from doing a lot of hills on the bike.

But after my 102 flat miles on the bike on Sunday, I've got soreness two days later in sort of weird places. Major painful sites right now:
  • Neck and shoulders - from the head-up aero position.
  • Front of my crotch - bruised from leaning forward in the saddle in the aero position.
  • Forearms - from gripping the aerobars too tightly.
I do take a stretch break out of aero position every 10 minutes on the bike, more frequently when I have a tailwind. I frequently relax my hands consciously, but I still find myself gripping the aerobars too tightly when I forget to concentrate on it. If I have a few extra moments off the bike at pitstops, I lie down flat on the pavement to relax and stretch my back (though it's not something I want to do during a race unless I absolutely have to). I do think my position and saddle fit are pretty good already, but it can always be tweaked.

Any other (non-pharmaceutical) soreness-avoidance suggestions for me from you more experienced cyclists out there?

Or is the answer simply more and more 6+-hour sessions in the saddle? (Followed, of course, by lots of rest and recovery and sufficient quantities of post-workout adult beverages!)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Drummer girl

Now my daughter Catherine has decided she MUST take possession of the drinking straw from the aerobottle from my bike, and use it to beat on the plastic coffee cans I give the girls to play with.

"Making drum!" she insists, innocently. I try to take it away from her and I get this plaintive "Me play drum!".

What's a mother to do? It's not like I can ruin her incipient musical aspirations. She'll blame me for ruining her life. Which I intend to do in other, subtler ways.

Maybe order a new aerobottle?

So what would that get me?

So if (and this is a big if) I were able to combine my training times from the last three days, what kind of Ironman time would that buy me?

Now, I don't want to tempt the Triathlon Gods. I'm not adding this up to try to impress anyone, I'm doing it to reassure myself that I can make it across the finish line before midnight and actually earn my medal and the Ironman title, hopefully. I keep running the numbers just to make sure it all works out.

Using Phil's Handy-dandy Triathlon Time Calculator and my actual training paces from the last three days:

Swim 2.4 miles at 2:37/100 yards: 1:50:31
T1 (10 minutes was the max): 10:00
Bike 112 miles at 15.3 mph: 7:19:12
T2 (10 minutes was the max): 10:00
Run 26.2 miles at 13:30 min/mile: 5:53:42
Total: 15:23:26

WOOT! That is good news! It's still under 17 hours! It gives me 96 minutes of "extra" time to screw up, get lost, fix a flat, wash my face, trudge along with fatigue, chat with the volunteers, eat pretzels, order pizza, stop at Starbucks, go to the portapotty, or whatever else I manage to find to do to kill time on the course, and I should still be able to finish by midnight. Plus I have 6 more weeks of training to improve my speeds. I actually expect in reality that my T1 time will be somewhat longer and my run time probably will be substantially longer. But that's okay! The numbers work!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Got it done!

Buttercup was chomping at the bit, and all ready to go! But first we had to attend to changing a flat on David's Fuji. So it ended up being well past 6:30AM when we got underway. The day was overcast and we got drizzled on yet again a couple of times, but it was a comfortable mid-70s temperature for riding with very little wind.

It was a LONG hard ride. Running 16 miles the day before does take the spunk out of a person! There wasn't much chitchat from either of us after the first thirty miles.

Final tally when we got back to my driveway: 102.69 miles, 16.2 mph rolling average, 15.3 mph real time average including pitstops and a convenience store shopping stop. 6 hours 42 minutes on the road, plus time on the ferry trip across the Tred Avon River.

We were tired and glad to be done! I definitely selected my Ironman bike shorts, my new ('05 model on sale) Performance Women's Ultra Shorts. I finally found a pair that didn't chafe!

Ride intake notes:
72 oz. Gatorade with extra salt and maltodextrin
1 Mountain Dew
3 ounces gel
4 salt capsules
1 Payday bar
1 Powerbar

That did the job. Yay! 85% of an Ironman over 3 days for me - 120.6 miles total - now the trick will be putting it all together in 9 weeks on race day and keeping it going for another twenty miles. At least I won't have sore legs to start out the day with!

Oh yeah. Did I mention that it was my longest ride in my whole entire life?? Woo hoo me!

On another topic -- YAY! For George Hincapie becoming the 2006 USA Road Race Champion today! He's had a tough year, it's good to see him get a big win.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Drizzly day for a run

Today I got to sleep LATE for a workout day, and only got out the door at 8AM for a Long Slow Distance jog with my training buddy, David. It alternated between rain and drizzle for most of the way - the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto. Ernie seems to be taking his sweet time sauntering up the east coast. That's okay - train in adversity, race in adversity, right!?

We ran around the quiet roads in the wealthier neighborhood on the other side of town, nearly the only runners out on the road. As usual, David pushed and flogged me along. We finished up 16.0 miles in 3 hours 36 minutes total time, which included a lot of walk breaks for me, for an average pace of 13:30 minutes per mile. For me, that's a very speedy long run pace - nearly my marathon PR pace! When we finished up my leg muscles were tired, but I didn't feel exhausted overall. I could have gone another ten miles in reasonable shape.

OK, that's almost 2 miles swum yesterday, 16 miles run today, and tomorrow we plan to ride something over 100 miles. About 3/4 of an Ironman spread over 3 days. So far it's not feeling too bad - I hope I can remember that tomorrow!

We did have a few big tree branches blown down, and a little bit of flooding here in town at high tide today, but nothing too serious.

Just deep enough for the kids to splash around in the Crab Claw parking lot.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Today's swim

First of all, GO BIG Z! Congratulations to my favorite professional cyclist, Dave Zabriskie, for winning the US National Time Trial Championships today! (Yes, that's an old photo, not from today.)

Now about that swim. Today's workout was nothing remarkable, except it was in the "warm" (86*F) pool at the Y because the "cool pool" where I usually swim was closed for maintenance. So I had a toasty time and worked on EVF (Early Vertical Forearms) and wide arms and slipping my hand into the water near my ear and keeping a gliding extended arm.

3450 yards. If I had kept up a proper lap count I would have done another 100 yards to break 2.0 miles, but my arms were getting tired so I stopped.

Just for my own personal blog record, here are my workout times for various distances, done consecutively:
  • 100 yards: 2:10 (= 2:22/100 METERS pace)
  • 200 yards: 4:40 (2:20/100 yard pace)
  • 300 yards: 7:19 (2:26/100 yard pace)
  • 400 yards: 10:03 (2:31/100 yard pace)
  • 1200 yards: 31:22 (2:37/100 yard pace)
Those were all at a reasonably comfortable pace, not pushing it. The 1200-yard time would only give me a 1:51 Ironman swim, but that's still 29 minutes ahead of the cutoff (2:20 at Ironman Florida) so that I have some wiggle room. Plus I don't have to turn around 47 times during the Ironman swim. I'll take it.

I can tell my shoulder muscle endurance is down because I haven't been doing that many swim workouts lately. I need to get it back up to 2 to 3 times per week for the next 7 or 8 weeks.

Update: Here's a more recent photo of Dave the Champion! (Strangely tilted, though. He actually has a fabulous horizontal-back aero position.) YOU DA MAN Z!!