Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tracking athletes at Ironman Florida on race day

Ironman Florida race day is this Saturday, November 4th. The race begins with the mass swim start at 7AM local (central/Chicago) time which is 8AM east coast/New York time, fortunately for me.

Online coverage should begin about a half hour before the swim start. You may be able to find a link to live streaming video coverage from either http://www.ironmanlive.com/ or http://www.ironmanflorida.com/

If you want the latest split data for an athlete, go to http://www.ironmanlive.com/ and click on the athlete tracker, then do a search for them. To track an athlete using the system, you need to know either their race bib number or their surname. If your athlete has a blog, you may also find the race bib number posted on their blog recently.

Be aware that the system is often flaky and may fail to update for an hour or more at times of heavy usage. Don't jump to conclusions that something awful has happened to me unless you hear DETAILS from someone!

Finding athletes: You can generate a list of all participants and their race numbers here. If you don't know a semi-anonymous blogger's real surname but you know their first name and where they're from, you may be able to figure it out from this list.

A listing of our friends and volunteers who will be at Ironman Florida is here. I've added some of the bib numbers that I can find to the list.

If you're just joining us, my name is Nancy Toby and my bib number is #2484, by the way. This post should help you interpret the times that pop up for me on race day so that you can see if I'm having a good day, or not!

Usually the Ironman races are boiled down to one official hour-long telecast, which will probably be broadcast in a couple of months on the Versus cable channel, but don't count on seeing anyone you know unless they finished in the top five.

Words of inspiration?

If you have any SHORT SHORT inspirational or funny words for me to read on race day during my inaugural Ironman attempt, Linae has graciously agreed to print them on index cards and stuff them into my transition bags for me (so that I can read them as a surprise). On index cards so that I can stuff them in my jersey pocket and save them to read at low points.

Her email is onlyspirit@gmail.com - please send direct to her.

Thanks in advance!!

What would failure be?

I'm actually feeling pretty good, despite eating my entire body weight in Halloween candy the last few days.

Success for me at Ironman Florida is easy for me to define. Cross the finish line by midnight, and hopefully do it upright with a smile on my face.

What would failure be for me?

If I don't finish by midnight, I'll be disappointed not to get the medal, but I won't consider that a huge failure. I had a great year, and that can't possibly be a failure. Maybe I didn't train as much as I could have to prepare my body to handle the distance, or I didn't execute my race plan well on race day, or I had an accident or unexpected injury. Any of those can lead to DNFs, and there's no shame in that. It's a high-risk high-investment venture, and putting all the emphasis on one day leads to a certain concrete probability of non-completion.

For me, I would count an extended visit to the medical tent as a failure - that would mean that I pushed my body past its limits and put my health in jeopardy, and that's not a line that I wish to cross. I have two little fairy princesses at home that are counting on me to come home in fine shape. Those two are much higher priorities than any silly old race!!

The outcome is binary in one way - finish by midnight or don't. But there's a vast array of other possibilities in store for the actual day.

I guess it would be a failure to me if I didn't HAVE FUN. And if I failed to thank the volunteers and encourage the other triathletes along the way. I'd count that as a failure in spirit.

I'm just amazed that I'm actually looking forward to it. I was expecting to dread it. But now, it's just a really long swim in the Gulf, followed by a longer bike ride in the Florida sunshine - and hey, how about a run too?

Deep thoughts and not-quite-final words

I wish I had something profound for you here as we get down to the last few final days before I attempt the Ironman Florida triathlon in Panama City Beach, Florida on Saturday.

Bolder has some deep thoughts. So does Comm.

I don't. Yeah, it's the journey, not the destination, and I've had a really fabulous journey of discovery this past year. Amazing. Pretty unbelievable, in fact. The fact that I'm no longer paralyzed with fear of the swim leg any more may say it all. Or that a flat tire is just another bump in the road, not the end of the day. Or a six mile run is just a warmup for a half marathon.

But as for me, I don't have profound things to write about. I'm doing mundane last-minute tasks like making sure my hair is RED which we all know is FAST.

And figuring out where I can get an Internet connection so that I can maybe post a few quick updates from Florida.

And smiling at good friends (and even strangers) who send positive wishes our way for a great day on Saturday.

And trying to figure out what to put in my suitcase, now that most of my gear is (hopefully) waiting for me with my bike Buttercup alongside the transition area by the hotel.

I'm very grateful to everyone who has helped and encouraged me along the way, especially my loving husband Steve for his constant support, my girls Catherine and Elisabeth for inspiration, our babysitter Elizabeth who freed up lots of training time for me, my special bunch of girlfriends (you know who you are!) including Ironman Ellie who are always there for me, my local training buddy David, the entire knowledgeable TRI-DRS list including Shelley who is always an upbeat and positive example of a great triathlete and mom, Yurtie who coached and coaxed my swimming along from the other side of the world, and all my best bloggy pals, some of whom I'll meet in Florida for the first time. You all rock! And I THANK YOU!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Taper madness

It's easy to go a little bit crazy when suddenly all this time and energy is freed up when you're no longer training heavily for a big triathlon.

I've been posting most of my obsessive weather and surf reports over at our Ironman Florida blog in preparation for the coming weekend festivities. I'm really not calm at all! DON'T BE DECEIVED!

Stop over there if you really want to join in on the craziness!

Commonest costumes

I just learned that we had the commonest costumes of all.

Top Children's Costumes 2006

1. Princess (generic) 11.5%
2. Pirate 5.0%
3. Witch 4.8%
4. Spider-Man 4.4%
5. Superman 3.7%
6. Princess (Disney) 3.1%
7. Power Ranger 2.9%
8. Pumpkin/Jack o'Lantern 2.2%
9. Cat 2.0%
10. Vampire (generic) 1.5%
11. Angel 1.4%
12. Fairy 1.4%
13. Ninja 1.4%
14. SpongeBob SquarePants 1.4%
15. Batman 1.3%
16. Cheerleader 1.3%
17. Football Player 1.3%
18. Tinker Bell 1.3%
19. Monster (generic) 1.2%
20. Star Wars character 1.2%

Those Disney marketers are no dummies. We have been assimilated.

Fortunately our girls are real princesses and not just pretend ones.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

One more party

We had one more childrens' Hallowe'en party at our Yacht Club today. Our little fairy princesses in costume were named "Most Precious" in the 1 to 3 year old category. Naturally their parents agreed! Of course, there was a category for every child there - littlest, biggest, furriest, cutest, etc.
Princess Elisabeth had grown weary of making formal appearances in her royal regalia and was ready to go home quite soon after we arrived. We had to wait to secure her rightful bounty of imperial candy, however.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Our jack-o-lantern

Here is the one pumpkin that we carved at home today. Elisabeth has another at school that I think they are painting faces on. Catherine insisted on a happy face, so I didn't make it vomiting or eating its young or anything. We did, however, roast up and eat all its yummy little embryonic potential offspring. We do eat their young.

Two princesses

We dressed up the girls again today and took them down in the double jogstroller to watch the local town Hallowe'en parade today. We scored another enormous haul of thrown candy, plus picked up a bottle of wine for Mom and Dad from the local town winery for dinner tonight! Treats for everyone!

Princess Elisabeth is not amused. Off with their heads!

One more appearance in full royal regalia at another kids' party tomorrow at the local Yacht Club, and their imperial duties are over for the year. I think we'll wait until next year for actual trick or treating.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Hallowe'en at school

Catherine and I went to Elisabeth's school and joined her for the Hallowe'en party. Elisabeth nicely followed the rules while Catherine flipped out at all the noise and weird costumes. I'll have to work on some better photos of them, because they just looked like two beautiful little fairies.

The Great Transition

No, not from the swim to the bike, or even from the bike to the run.

I'm talking about getting my twin three-year-olds out of the cribs and into Big Girl Beds. It's becoming quite a challenge in our family. Right now we're working on getting them to sleep unconfined (other than the gate on the doorway) in the bedroom on their old crib bottoms with blankets on top and sleeping bags underneath.

But when they're not restricted to the inside of a crib, things get wild. When Mom or Dad walks away from the doorway, it's party time and general mayhem and destruction ensues. For hours. They're monsters on the loose. I had to remove all sharp objects and other potential weapons from the immediate area. We haven't bought actual Big Girl beds yet, but I'm pretty sure they would find a way to destroy those too if we had them.

I've been advised to keep it dark in the room and they will fall asleep faster. Fortunately that is not a problem, since they broke the bedroom lamp the first night they were on the prowl. And the door, too. By banging on it when it was wedged open, they broke the door hinges.

They seem to think it's funny. It's become clear that Mom is at a distinct disadvantage, since she is outnumbered by the inmates.

Help!! Do you experienced parents out there have any advice for us, other than more sedatives and more duct tape? Hmm, there's always velcro restraints, I suppose. . . .

Lovely autumn run

First of all, if you're carving pumpkins this weekend, be sure to check out some of the great ideas at Extremepumpkins.com!

Yesterday (while the babysitter was here) I went for a beautiful run around the neighborhood. I'd nearly forgotten about that kind of run - just head out for an hour or so and forget everything. Don't worry about pace or intensity, just stay loose and enjoy the day and the ability to run freely. The trees are just turning gold and crimson, but near the water here they're not quite as intense yet as the trees just a few miles inland. There are fewer boats in the harbor now, although there were anchored a lovely ketch and a larger passenger cruise ship at the maritime museum across the way.

The smell of woodsmoke was in the air, the leaves crunched underfoot, the pumpkins were on the doorsteps, and the ghosts were hung in the trees.

It's time for Hallowe'en!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Investigating 2484

1. It's a new number - unused by anyone ever before in the history of Ironman Florida. I'm the first to wear it.

2. It's a simple progression, just missing the last term: 2, 4, 8, and 4(squared).

3. There is no verse 24:84 anywhere in the Bible, so unlike Ellie, I have had no messages from Yahweh encoded for me there.

How about Exodus 48:4 or 4:84 - nope, doesn't exist.

How about Jeremiah (book 24), verse 8:4?? Bingo!!!

"Say to them, 'This is what the LORD says: 'When men fall down, do they not get up? When a man turns away, does he not return?'"
or alternatively,
“Jeremiah, say to the people, ‘This is what the Lord says:‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When they discover they’re on the wrong road, don’t they turn back?'"

4. S.2484 An act to amend title 38, United States Code, to simplify and improve pay provisions for physicians and dentists and to authorize alternate work schedules and executive pay for nurses, and for other purposes. Introduced by Arlen Specter in 2004, and passed into law.

5. Strong's number 02484 of The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon is hylx, or Chelyah, which means jewels or jewelry. Used in Hosea 2:13: ""And I will punish her for the days of the Baals when she used to offer sacrifices to them and adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry, and follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me," declares the Lord."

6. Strong's number 2484 of The New Testament Greek Lexicon is Itourai, meaning "past the limits" or "he will arrange". Itouraia is the name of a mountainous region, lying northeast of Palestine and west of Damascus. At the time when John the Baptist made his public appearance it was subject to Philip the Tetrarch, son of Herod the Great, among the regions assigned to this prince after his father's death. It was brought under Jewish control by King Aristobulus around 100 B.C. Its inhabitants had been noted for robbery and skillful use of the bow.

Number 2484

That's the number I'll wear at Ironman Florida, I just learned this morning. I think that's good. Although it will take my entire arm to write down the whole number.


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Bike wrecks

I know, I know, bike wrecks aren't funny.

But this one is.

I miss her already

She's out of my hands now. So is the big bag containing everything I need for my triathlon.

I patted her goodbye and told her "See you in Florida!"

Bon voyage, Buttercup!!

Accuweather forecast for race day is IN!

You saw it here first!!

Panama City Beach, Florida
Saturday, Nov 4

Low: 51 °F
High: 73 °F

My day

  • get eye exam
  • try new contacts that might work better on bike for 7 hours
  • go back home and pick up girls
  • drive across town to hospital
  • stand in line
  • stand in line
  • fill out paperwork for flu shots
  • stand in line
  • don't have enough cash for flu shots so get out of line and go find ATM
  • try to get $100
  • find out that would make me overdrawn
  • get out $50 and scrape together $25 more from purse for 3 flu shots
  • stand in line
  • get flu shot
  • hold 2 screaming girls for their flu shots
  • administer lollipops
  • go to "Old McDonald's" for two Happy Meals, which worked, fortunately
  • sit in traffic jam on Beltway
  • arrive at triathlon store
  • drop off bike and bag
  • tell bike goodbye until Florida
  • go to playground
  • exhaustion sets in

Weather paranoia

Now Iron Pol has me all worried, talking about "pouring down rain of the run".

I saw that we are TEN DAYS OUT from Ironman Florida, according to Bolder's countdown timer.

So that means we should have a ten-day weather forecast ready, right?

Nope. No such luck. Intellicast will only toss me a bone, giving me tantalizing hints only up until Thursday November 2nd.

They give us five days in a row in Panama City Beach of "Abundant sunshine. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the mid 50s." Then on Thursday, ominously, it says "Partly cloudy". Suggesting that perhaps a hurricane will develop earlier in the week and hit the coast on Saturday.

Is that a bad omen? Is that a hint of worse things to come? Should I go searching the medical supply shops for surgical booties like Iron Pol suggests? Or should I just try to relax, dammit, and bring a garbage bag?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Taper time

Less time training, more time goofing off online. . . .

Here's a food advisor questionnaire for you. They say my diet sucks, because I get only 37% of my intake from "the world's healthiest foods". So!!?? I'm still not gonna eat kale, swiss chard, sea vegetables, spelt, or goat's milk. (Um, sorry, Mojo. Goat cheese and soap and bubble bath, yes.) Try to make me.

Here's the scary video of Robert Cheruiyot falling at the finish line of the Chicago Marathon.

There's a bunch of other clips on YouTube now from Ironman Hawaii. Fun to browse through.

Getting those pesky pedals off

TriBikeTransport requires the pedals to be removed before taking the bike for shipment to Ironman Florida. OK, fair enough. But it's a real challenge when those pedals haven't been off in a couple of years and have been tightened on with every pedal stroke!

I do have a pedal wrench (uh, thanks for the tip, Flatman, yeah, that's step one) and went at it.

I thought hard and remembered the correct way to turn them to remove them: Taking off the bike pedals - it's BACK = off (pedal wrench at 12 o'clock goes toward the back of the bike) and FORWARD = on.

Still no result. They were stuck on there like concrete.

So I put out an all-points-bulletin to my email lists for help. Am I doing it wrong?

Within minutes I had several helpful responses. Yes, I was turning them correctly.

Special thanks to:
THAT WORKED! Off they came. I cleaned them and put them in a ziplock and then straight into the gear bag.


What did we ever do without the Internet??


Packed for Ironman Florida!

Yes I am!! Well, about 80% packed for race day. Are you?

All my essential race gear (besides my bike) is in this duffle bag. Yes, I've got all my eggs in one basket, so to speak. Tribiketransport better do their job and get it to me in Panama City Beach along with my bike, or there will be no race for me! But I figured if they didn't get my bike there as promised, there would be no race anyway. I'm dropping it all off at the local bike shop tomorrow night.

This is the most important bag of all. Notice the luggage tag to ID it, along with ID packed inside the bag and name embroidered on the front, and computer tie ready to seal it closed at the last minute - all insurance that the contents actually reach me in Florida.

I'll check it against my Ironman packing list before I actually head down to Florida myself in another ten days, but I wrote down everything as I packed it so that I could keep track of what I had already shipped. I fit an unbelievable amount of stuff in this one essential bag weighing only about 20 pounds!

My bike pedals still have to go into the bag for shipment, but I couldn't get them off myself so I'll have to ask the bike shop to do it.

Bag contents:

Swim stuff:
2 wetsuit tops (with and without sleeves)
wetsuit bottom
new goggles
bright swim cap for practice swims
mesh bag for swim practices
cheap flipflops

Bike stuff:
bike helmet
bike shoes with new cleats
Extra cleats
Extra skewer
pedal wrench
Extra tubes
Extra cartridges
2 pairs sunglasses (dark and amber)
water bottle
extra salt capsules
bike jersey
bike shorts
bike jacket
arm warmers
bike gloves
chamois lubricant
number belt
lip balm
spray sunblock

Run stuff:
run shorts
extra socks
run singlet
thin long-sleeved shirt
heavy long-sleeved shirt
run belt with bandana, sunglasses, extra contact lens
glow necklaces and bracelets

2 gel packs for pre-race
2 bottles Ensure
3 gel flasks full of homemade gel
2 extra canisters salt capsules

I still get a second chance if I forgot anything in the suitcase I'll bring with me on my flight down. But that's most of it, all packed in small grocery bags and ready to go into my transition bags!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Some inspiration from Kona

It's difficult to single out the most inspiring moment from watching all the athletes at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii yesterday. But my vote probably would be on the finish of Sister Madonna Buder, the final finisher (with 53 seconds to spare) before the midnight cutoff.

You can see her finish video here (click on 'watch me finish') , surrounded by the midnight activities at the Kona finishing line.

Here is a profile of the youthful 76-year-old multiple-Ironman nun.

My Standard Weekly Targets

Tapering frees up time for reflection. Now I'm starting to look back over the last year. Some day after the race I'll post after Ironman Florida about my training plan and comment on what I should have changed and what I would have kept the same.

As the mom of twin 3-year-olds, also a single mom 4 days per week now, the biggest challenge was getting time while the girls were being minded so that I was able to get in the workouts at all. This never seemed to happen on a regular schedule, so sticking to a huge pre-planned workout schedule or coach-assigned plan seemed nearly impossible for me. From time to time I could find work-arounds, but never on a consistent week-after-week basis. So I trained when I could, and didn't train when I couldn't. I could certainly have done more on the bike trainer, but perhaps not without becoming clinically insane. So there you have it. That's my reality.

The very BEST thing that I did this year in preparing for Ironman Florida was to set minimum weekly targets for workout distances and keep track of them every single day in my sidebar.

That gave me consistency and some accountability, which I greatly needed. Because, as we all know, I'm fundamentally a sedentary slacker at heart. I'm much more inclined to blow off workouts and sleep late than get them all done and to do all that I had planned each time, week after week after week.

There were a few weeks where I didn't get in much running, a few weeks where I didn't get in much cycling, a few weeks that I didn't swim at all, a couple weeks when I was sick, and a few weeks when I didn't watch my food intake closely. But they were exceptions. The rule was no-excuses consistency in doing at the very least a minimum amount in each discipline each week.

For the 42 weeks that we have had to train so far in 2006:

Not exactly the 42/44 weeks that I had targeted in each discipline, but not too far off.

Average training time per week for the first 40 weeks of 2006 (before I got sick right after Chesapeakeman and had two very, very light weeks):

  • Core: 0.7 hours
  • Swim: 1.9 hours
  • Bike: 4.0 hours
  • Run: 3.3 hours
  • Total: 10.0 hours

Longer stuff for the final 18 weeks before the taper began 2 weeks pre-race:

  • 3/4 Ironman distance swim goal (2900 meters or more) met: 9 out of 18 weeks
  • 3/4 Ironman distance bike goal (84 miles or more) met: 7 out of 18 weeks
  • 3/4 Ironman distance running goal (19.6 miles or more) met: 7 out of 18 weeks
Is it enough? It definitely isn't by many athlete's standards. Most Ironman triathletes will tell you about far more hours in training. This would be considered minimalist training by most triathletes. That's okay. I'm just posting them for the record - to sum up what I've done this year, definitely not to brag nor to elicit shocked gasps of horror. They're my real numbers for 4/5 of a year of my life, not glossed over or puffed up for public consumption. It is what it is.

Is it ever enough? It will have to be enough, because it's too late for me to do more without messing up my big race day. The proof is in the pudding - the Ironman Florida finish line - and the pudding won't be done for another couple of weeks.

The point is that the tracking method that I used DID help my consistency enormously and kept me focused on getting in SOME distance in each discipline every week. Training for an Ironman is just too big of a monster not to break it down into manageable bite-sized weekly portions. Maybe it's a tool that you can use too.

Buttercup's Final Outing

Today was our last ride together before I drop Buttercup off Tuesday for a tuneup -- and then on Saturday she gets shipped off in the Big Truck to Panama City Beach! 32 miles yesterday and 32 miles today both felt pretty easy-peasy, as it should at this point in time. Also did a 5K run-off on the track today and shuffled around it in 34:19. That will do for my long run pace!

I ordered Buttercup a special race-day present on eBay that I'll have to give to her when we get to Panama City Beach - a decal for her top tube that says Nancinator. Sort of like Ironman Champion Normann Stadler's bike. Thanks for the idea, Flatman!

Yesterday I was mesmerized for several hours watching Normann and all the other athletes in the online coverage of the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.

I was sad for Dick and Rick Hoyt not making the swim cutoff, but it was great to see them cheered in to shore by dozens of lifeguards on surfboards as well as all the spectators on shore. Hooray for Coach Debi Bernardes finishing well up in her age group - and tieing 6-time world champion Natascha Badmann on the swim leg! I hope Natascha is okay - she must have had a rough day (for her) not to be able to make up more time on the run leg and finishing 10th pro woman. Also congratulations to local triathlete Melissa Merson for becoming an Ironman! Pro Tara Norton - hope you're okay, there's no time posted for your run! And way to go, Sister Madonna Buder, for making it over the finish line once again, just before midnight.

In the past I always watched the Kona Ironman triathlon and thought, that's incredible, that's a nearly impossible feat!!!! How could anyone ever manage to finish that!???

This was the first time watching when I occasionally thought, "Yeah, I could maybe do that."

12 DAYS TO GO and I'll get my chance to try!

Update: Ack! I failed to give Bolder appropriate credit for the Nancinator name. Sorry! I'll give you a private decal viewing in Panama City Beach.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Those IMFL time predictions

I don't know what the weather will be like.
I don't know what the surf will be like.
I don't know how I'll be feeling.
I don't know how my stomach will react after over 9 hours on course.
I do know that unexpected things will happen on the course, and I will deal with them as they occur.

But that said, I can make some educated time estimates of my various performance scenarios.

Swim 2.4 miles:
A dream day: less than 1:38 (less than double my Steelhead swim time)
A happy day: 1:38 - 1:52 (faster than my Chesapeakeman swim time)
An okay day: 1:53 - 2:19 (staying just ahead of the 2:20 swim cutoff, possibly with swim problems)

T1 - Swim to bike transition:
A dream day: less than 0:08:00 (faster than Chesapeakeman)
A happy day: 0:0800 - 0:12:00 (Typical T1 for me)
An okay day: 0:12:00 - 0:15:00 (slower than even the Chesapeakeman chatfest)

Bike 112 miles:
A dream day: less than 6:45 = 16.6 mph (14 minutes faster than Chesapeakeman)
A happy day: 6:45 - 7:10 = 15.6 mph (right around the time of Chesapeakeman)
An okay day: 7:10 - 8:00 = 14.0 mph (staying ahead of the 10:15 elapsed time cutoff, perhaps with flats or other problems?)

T2 - Bike to run transition:
A dream day: less than 0:03:00 (faster than Eagleman)
A happy day: 0:03:00 - 0:05:00 (typical T2 for me)
An okay day: 0:05:00 - 0:10:00 (slower if I'm getting really, really tired; or doing very well and taking my time accessorizing for the run)

Run 26.2 miles:
A dream day: less than 5:52 = 13:26 min/mile (a marathon PR)
A happy day: 5:52 to 6:37 = 15:09 min/mile (faster than my tired Goofy marathon last January)
An okay day: 6:37 to 7:16 = 16:38 min/mile (faster than my slowest, hottest standalone marathon in Maui, 2001)

What would those times yield?

Total time:
A dream day: 14:26
A happy day: 15:56 (pretty close to my best bet)
A not-so-okay day: 18:00 - which would put me over the finish line an hour after the cutoffs. Therefore I can't have problems in every discipline - I'd have to pull it out on the run and go fast (for me)!!! Which I could do, maybe, if I weren't exhausted! But this is a good reminder that nothing is certain in Ironman, and a big fat DNF is still a distinct possibility!

Your best bet!

Shelley is making a pool for betting on your IMFL finisher's time on her blog. $5 per bet, closest finisher to their predicted time wins!

I'm going to say 15:59:59 as my best guess. I'd be very happy with that. Plus it gives me an hour cushion before the cutoff, in case things go badly wrong out there on the course.

I think on a perfect day I can go faster than that, but I'm not sure that I will push myself that hard. Hey, why hurry through my first IM, right??

If I'm faster, I'll be quite happy to lose the bet. :-)

How red should I go?

That's my question for Ironman Florida race week. How red should I go? As we all know, red is fast.

I'm debating about the shade, though. Somewhere redder than chestnut, but staying somewhere on this side of day-glo red like in the photo. (My boobs won't look like that either, but that's another post.)

Then again, I don't want to be mistaken for Lucille Ball out there on the Ironman course. Because she's dead.

What's your vote for race day? I'd make a poll but that's a pain. Post your recommendations in the comments.

The really important IMFL prep

I've nearly finished buying all my race supplies for Ironman Florida!! This is what I scored yesterday at the local dollar store:

First, reflective tape, which is required front and back on the shirts of runners that are out there on the marathon course after dark (as I will be).

Second, blinking necklaces!! In RED! Which means FAST! Yes, they hand out glow necklaces on the course, but those don't blink, and they're probably in dumb colors that won't go with my race gear, and they don't blink. So these will be IMPORTANT to my race performance!!

And finally, glow bracelets. Lots of them. It's important for a girl to be properly accessorized.

My hair is going to be a little redder than usual, too. But not blinking. I'm considering bright red nail polish, too. I can't figure out a way to make my fingernails blink, either, however.

It's also important not to take this Ironman thing WAY TOO SERIOUSLY, like SOME folks I know. Who will not be linked to from this post, but they know who they are. Well, on second thought, they probably don't know who they are, sadly.

Let's have some FUN out there, people!!! It's way too long a day to do otherwise!!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Love your body!

Today, October 18th, is Love Your Body Day!

"Hollywood and the fashion, cosmetics and diet industries work hard to make each of us believe that our bodies are unacceptable and need constant improvement. Print ads and television commercials reduce us to body parts — lips, legs, breasts — airbrushed and touched up to meet impossible standards. TV shows tell women and teenage girls that cosmetic surgery is good for self-esteem. Is it any wonder that 80% of U.S. women are dissatisfied with their appearance?"

Some thought-provoking advertisements are posted on the site.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Remember the Runaway Bride?

Here's a catty article about how Jennifer Wilbanks, the famous Runaway Bride, has bulked up a little since she stopped running. Yeah, stress will do that to a person.


There's a new triblog from Kona put out by the folks at active.com: IronBlog. Check it out!

I liked the piece on Normann Stadler's sweet bike, especially the top tube graphic:

Ooh, Buttercup really wants "Nancinator" along her top tube.

PSA: Bike Maintenance Class

After my last post, I realized we needed another Public Service Announcement here. I'm always seeing people who are under tight budgets paying their local bike shop Big Bucks to provide very simple service to their bikes. Or taking their bike back repeatedly to the shop because something wasn't done correctly. Or getting mad and whining at their husband/wife/S.O. because they haven't done the bike maintenance chores, while choosing to stay blissfully ignorant of what their own bike needs. And then having to phone someone in a panic from the road to pick them up with a flat tire.

Why not just learn to fix and maintain it yourself?

The off season is a perfect time to take a Bike Maintenance class! Ideally, you need to find one in your area that's 8 or more hours in length, allowing you enough time to take apart just about every system of your bike (under expert supervision) and put it back together again. I'd like to take a more advanced one now myself, actually.

My report on the 8-hour one I took at R.E.I. right after I bought Buttercup is here (part 1) and here (part 2). Lots of local bike shops or community colleges offer similar classes, though.

It was definitely worth every penny, and has paid for itself many times over now! Plus there's great satisfaction and peace of mind in knowing that you have done the job, and done it right.

And no, most jobs do not require a big investment in expensive tools. Got a $2 set of Allen wrenches? That and maybe $20 total of other tools will do 90% of what your bike needs.

And no, you can't use the excuse that you don't have time, because it's definitely going to take you MORE time to mess around with transporting your bike into the shop and picking it up every time you need some maintenance on it. Or sitting on the side of the road with a flat that you don't know how to fix. Or you end up leaving it sit and rot in the garage because it needs something minor, right?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Getting dressed for the Big Dance

First, the good news: I finally (after over two weeks!) slept through the night without waking up EVEN ONCE to hack and cough and all that nasty stuff. Hooray!! I guess the half marathon blew the carbon out of my lungs, or something.

Next: Today was the day I started getting Buttercup ready for her Date With Destiny on November 4th. Partly due to the good advice of multiple-IRONM4N Shelley, partly to get myself psyched, and partly to get Buttercup psyched, she got a new set of inner tubes, a new set of bright yellow Continental 4000 tires, AND a new Dura-Ace chain. Along with a good cleaning. She is feeling SO GOOD SO GOOD SO GOOOOOD now!!

And YES, I did it all myself. You shouldn't have to ask!!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Common Woman Syndrome

That's me, all over, today. Despite the beautiful weather I couldn't make myself get on the bike. My legs are too freakin' sore from those hills in Baltimore. I made myself run up and down all of them (though I did do some walking on the flats once I started getting tired) and they're paying the price today. Ouch! I've been training on the flatlands and my legs are reminding me of that! Plus the father-in-law is visiting, so we spent time with him instead.

Besides, isn't it time I stopped waking up 3 or 4 times in the night to cough my brains out? That's getting really old. I'm ready to start my 3-week holiday in preparation for Ironman Florida.

It was a good reminder how far 26.2 miles really is. WAY. TOO. FAR. Especially after swimming 2.4 and cycling 112! But I also feel confident that I can finish it once I start, if I have enough time before the cutoffs. And that 12:50 min/mile that I averaged yesterday, if I could maintain that on the flat course in Florida, would still give me a 5:36 marathon. That would work for me - that would be a marathon PR! But I have a sneaking suspicion by that time at night I won't be wanting to push myself quite that fast.

But for today, I'm indulging in a little rest and recovery. And trying not to think too hard about attempting 140.6 miles all in one day.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Back from Baltimore!

I'm back! My last long run before Ironman Florida is done. LET THE TAPER BEGIN!

I had a great dinner on Friday night after the expo with my pals *jeanne*

and WrayJean

and Shawn.

Here they are on race morning with their game faces and garbage bags in place:

I ran about 5-6 miles before the start with the marathon (carrying my own water, and being careful not to cross their chip mats). This was the marathon start, in front of Camden Yards.

Then I went to the half marathon staging area (below) and it started 1:45 after the marathon, so I was able to do the whole thing.

I finished the half marathon in 2:48 (for a total of 20.5 running and walking miles). A little slower than I had hoped, but still okay. I'm still coughing quite a bit, and it is a fairly challenging hilly course. I got the miles done, nevertheless, and that's what today was all about. Here are my official results:

bib number: 8352
age: 49
gender: F
overall place: 3405 out of 3869 (88%)
division place: 132 out of 186 (70%)
gender place: 1823 out of 2218 (82%)
time: 2:48:02
pace: 12:49
guntime: 2:53:43

My splits, FWIW (just for my records; it seems my speedometer was stuck about 12:50):
1: 12:21
2: 12:45
3: 12:37
4: 13:16
5: 12:43
6: 13:19
7: 12:44
8: 12:45
9: 14:02
10: 12:14
11: 12:30
12: 13:04
13: 12:27
0.1: 1:16

I saw Shawn once about mile 7 of the marathon, not looking very happy. I checked her results, though, and she hit her goal of 6 hours exactly on the nose! WAY TO GO!! And WJ and *jeanne* did great too!!

The weather was perfect! I've got to get up early for a ride tomorrow - this is going to be interesting with sore legs!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The secret signal

Here it is, our own secret hand signal that I just invented, only known to the readers of my blog and anyone else I show it to. You saw it here first.

It combines the A.S.L. finger-spelling signs for the letters "I" and "M". Show it high and proud!

What's that spell?


What's that spell?


What's that spell?


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I swam.

Twenty-four days from now I'm scheduled to attempt a 2.4-mile swim in the Gulf of Mexico. One year ago that thought would have filled me with abject terror.

Today I'm looking forward to it! It's still going to be a long, long, long swim for me, and I have a tremendous respect for the power of the ocean, but I'm fairly confident that I can get the job done.

What changed?

For me, it wasn't taking lessons, or attending master's swim class, or any of those avenues that probably would have been a good idea to start out with. I haven't swum huge workouts or enormous distances. I've had a total of about four hours of swim instruction in my entire life.

Then what changed?

I swam.

I swam over 80 miles this year, even though it wasn't a standard training program or anything terribly methodical. But I did try to make every lap count.

I swam in a dirty three-lane-wide pool at 5AM in the winter in Virginia with the aqua aerobics class going on in the next two lanes.

I swam in the brackish water of the Choptank River in Maryland.

I swam from a backyard dock into Long Haul Creek in Maryland.

I swam lap after lap in the clean, chlorinated waters of the Cool Pool at the Easton, Maryland YMCA.

I swam 1500m in freshwater Centennial Lake in Maryland.

I swam in the Choptank River some more, 1.2 miles in the roughest water that they had seen for Eagleman in twenty years.

I swam in the early mornings at the town pool in St. Michaels while the babysitter watched my girls.

I swam in Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland with Ellie.

I swam in the (overly) Warm Pool at the YMCA.

I swam in Lake James in Indiana.

I swam 1.2 miles in Lake Michigan for Steelhead at Benton Harbon, Michigan.

I swam in Harrison Lake in Ohio.

I swam in Delaware Bay with Ellie near Cape Henlopen on the Delaware coast.

I swam at the Miles River Yacht Club pool, and played with my girls in the baby pool.

I swam in the Atlantic Ocean without a wetsuit - and was so cold I turned around and got out again.

I swam laps in a 20-yard hotel pool near Denver, Colorado in the rain.

I swam in the Choptank River again amongst the sea nettles. Against a current. For 2.4 miles.

I swam today, another 2500 yards in the Cool Pool at the YMCA, and 1000 yards of it was at a pace that would yield me a sub-1:37 Ironman swim (though it's doubtful that I'll swim that hard that day).

To teach myself to swim. . . .

I swam.

I swam and learned what the water had to teach me and swam some more. I learned by doing.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the Gulf of Mexico has to teach me.

Twenty-four days from now.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Still Sick IV

I don't have much good to say, *cough* *cough* *hack* so I'll just post some photos.

Here's Catherine sharing her breakfast with Tiger, who is sort of the Crown Prince of the Household. He gets Most Favored Animal status, and full rights and privileges that pertain thereto.

Here is Catherine shielding herself from all the nasty germs in our house. Or cosmic rays. Or those people inside the Beltway reading our thoughts.

Or maybe she was shielding herself from the Wrath of Mom, after her little Ajax and SoftSoap party on the kitchen floor, which took forever to clean up. It may not look like it, but that is a whole entire complete can of Ajax distributed across the floor. Oh, heck, it was time to replace that floor anyway. . . .

Here's Elisabeth trundling off to school again last week with her oversized backpack, before we were all struck down with the Black Plague.

Here she is with her little classmates.

This is how she signs "love". Sure, I'm prejudiced, but could she be any cuter!?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Still Sick III

It's not so much the coughing up jellyfish. It's the broken sleep from waking up to cough. Yuck. Another recovery day for me, while everyone else is cranking up their final big training week before Ironman Florida. I kept Elisabeth home today from school, too. We might as well all be miserable together, right?

Mr. Steve asked a couple questions in the comments:

About Ironman Florida athlete tracking: That should be available on race day (Saturday November 4th) at http://www.ironmanlive.com/ - you can search either by the athlete's surname (mine is above!) or the number. Be sure that you get names or numbers in advance from any other anonymous blogger-triathletes that you want to follow! I don't yet have my bib number, but I hope it's something auspicious like 666 or 1957 or 1559.

My heart rate monitor: Is a cheapie ($65 or so) Polar A3 model, which I think is no longer marketed. It tells me my current heart rate and average heart rate over time, which is really all that I need. That and my Timex Ironman watch and my cheapie Cateye Astrale bike computer are as high-tech as I currently get. I feel so Stone Age, with nothing to make fancy graphs with.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Still Sick II

Awake about 4 or 5 times last night, dealing with jellyfish removal again. WILL THERE BE NO END TO THEM?? Still, my training buddy David emailed me so I got out on the bike for 32 miles. That was enough for today, even though the weather was gorgeous. I'm not going to make fitness progress this week, but maybe that's enough to keep from backsliding too far.

One good thing: my cool-weather cycling jersey and vest that was snug last winter is now pretty loose. They must have stretched out over the summer.

I coughed a lot to try to make David feel sorry for me. But he didn't. At least he didn't yell at me for draggin' my butt.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Still sick

This coughing up jellyfish is getting real old. I spent an hour on a little jellyfish clearance project in the middle of the night last night. So I decided about 4:30AM that I wasn't going to get up at 5:30AM as planned to head to the pool.

Instead I did a little run on the track, just to get my legs limbered up again and remind them of what they need to do. Four mile repeats:
  • 11:00
  • 11:00
  • 10:54
  • 10:55
I forgot the heart rate meter, but it subjectively seemed a fairly moderate pace for me. Hmm, I'd have to maintain under a 11:57 min/mile pace to get a PR next Saturday in the hilly half marathon in Baltimore. Wonder if I can on those hills. We'll see! I've got a few more miles to cover that day to get in my last long run before Ironman Florida, so running at a fast pace for me isn't my top priority. I'm considering taping over my watch face and just running on "feel" and seeing what happens, just as an experiment.

Chesapeakeman photos

They're up!! Here are my photos; and here are Ellie's.

I like this closeup on the bike, even though it's not precisely in focus:

I always think my wetsuit photos look absolutely ghastly. But - I'm going to post this bathing beauty shot just for the entertainment value. Hey, it looks much better than it would have at the weight I carried at the beginning of the year! Besides, I always find it funny in an odd sort of way when people remove from public view or destroy photos that they consider slightly unflattering. Nobody looks fabulous slogging it through an entire tough and demanding multisport day. Laugh if you will - I STILL FINISHED a 2.4-mile open water swim against the current! AND immediately went on to complete a 112-mile bike leg well ahead of the cutoffs. I can't wait for Ironman Florida!