Monday, November 27, 2006

Emaciated models

It turns out that some of the photos of emaciated models that have been making the rounds have been digitally altered for dramatic effect.

Snopes.com shows some of the before-and-after Photoshop photos.

The one to the left is an actual model photo, which looks plenty too thin to me even without being altered. Is there even a single muscle on that girl?

Still can't decide

. . . whether to do a spring marathon. Or not. I should decide fairly soon if I'm going to give the training that I need to do for it a real chance. I'm just not quite ready to jump right back into high mileage training.

But in the meantime, I signed up for the National Marathon Half Marathon in Washington, DC on March 24th. My time of 1:04:31 at the 10K a year ago barely squeaked by the qualifying standard for either the marathon or the half marathon by 29 seconds (1:05:00 for a 10K). But hey! This year I blew it away by well over a minute and a half in two separate 10Ks! Woo hoo me!


But I don't want to be the straggler at the tail end of this marathon, because I don't know that there will be good course support out there after 5 hours. I'd rather play it safe and tackle the half marathon on this day and finish up while lots of people are still out on the marathon course.

Still under consideration:
B&A Trail Marathon or half marathon on March 4th, 2007
Lower Potomac River Marathon on March 11, 2007

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hooray for Dr. Thorburn!

Bronze medalist at the World Time Trial Championships in Salzburg, and full-time Stanford M.D. Plus she's in her late 30s. What a woman! I'll be cheering for her at the Beijing Olympics when Dr. Christine Thorburn will be approaching age 39!

I sure wish we got better coverage of women's athletics in the USA! There are some great stories out there that never reach the mainstream press.

Bike workout with the Garmin Forerunner 305

Here's what I did today: 24.1 miles on the bike (an out-and-back starting and ending with a slow section through town; stop at the turnaround for a snack). I did a 5-mile warmup and then a series of "stomp" pickups for 1 minute every 5 minutes, visible as the regular heart rate spikes in the graph:


The heart rate meter seemed to work much better this time (perhaps the conductivity was better because I was sweatier and not bouncing up and down as I do when I run), but I'm not impressed with the plotting software. I can't seem to find a way to adjust the scaling of the speed (right vertical axis). That thin squiggle between 15 and 20 mph isn't very helpful!

The average speed from the Garmin only said about 15 mph, while the bike computer average speed said well over 16 mph. That's a big (9%+) discrepancy! Total distance measured seem to be fairly close, though.

While it's nice to also have a little map plot of the workout, I can also do that with gmaps quite easily - plus switch to satellite view also, so that's no big advantage in the Forerunner. Yeah, the cadence function would be interesting, but I didn't have that today and that's still more $$ for the sensor unit.

Yeah, the product still has some drawbacks. It does lots of things automatically quite well, but I need the ability to customize it a little more if the automatic functions don't work how I want.

Weather was pretty nice for the end of November! Not much wind, sunny, about 50*F. I'm enjoying it while it's here, because it's sure not to last!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Run for Hospice 10K

Today was the annual 10K put on by my YMCA, and there are very few organized road races in the immediate area, so I feel like I really should support it each year. It was a beautiful day for it - nearly 60*F, even a little too warm for running! I ran this 10K course last year in 1:04:31, but this year I beat that by over a minute and finished in 1:03:24. Seven seconds slower than my 10K PR from last April! Soooooo close! But I'll still take a course record!

It was a scenic one-loop down a rural road into a nice waterfront neighborhood and back to the Y. It probably drew about 60 runners again this year. They gave out very cute full-color Santa shirts (bad photo at left) that I'll probably wear a lot!

Indulge me for a moment while I go over my splits:

Mile 1: Last year ~10:21, this year 9:58
Mile 2: Last year ~10:21, this year 10:07
Mile 3: Last year 10:40, this year 10:43
Mile 4: Last year 10:28, this year ~9:54
Mile 5: Last year 9:47, this year ~9:53
Mile 6: Last year 11:11, this year 11:15
Mile 6.2: Last year 1:41, this year 1:32

So I guess I started out a little faster this year. It was a small race and I was already last by the first quarter mile!! (There was a simultaneous 5K which I think attracted most of the slower-paced runners.) I stayed a little faster in the middle but finished up at about the same pace. I was eventually able to pass 5 other people during the race who slowed down while I stayed fairly steady (for the terrain). I still walked briefly at the 2 water stops in order to wet my whistle.

I even won a post-race door prize - woot, a t-shirt!!!! Yay! I won something!!

I was encouraged to run (for me) a pretty fast 10K just 3 weeks after my DNF during the run leg of Ironman Florida. That tells me that I don't think it was my run training that was so deficient as I thought - that part was probably up to the job. It was the previous two legs that wore me out!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Testing the Finis SwiMP3

Just last week I bought a Finis SwiMP3 for $138 from SwimOutlet.com with 128 MB of storage, which is used for playing music while swimming. Now I see that there is a new version with 256 MB of storage for $180. It appears that the hardware is the same, however.

I should note I am NOT an audiophile. This is my first MP3-playing device (and in fact I'm militantly opposed to wearing iPods, etc., while running or cycling on the roads or trails). I just wanted something to ease the boredom of lap swimming a little bit. Get in harmony with the water, become a mermaid, and all that.

Initial impressions:

The device comes with big rubbery goggles, which are okay, but not my favorite type. It did not come correctly mounted on the goggles, though, and when I took the straps out of the goggles to assemble it, I couldn't get them back in for love nor money. No big problem because I plan to use my own Speedo Vanquisher goggles with it anyway, but it was still annoying to unsuccessfully fight to reassemble the goggles that came with it.

The unit is kind of weird and bulky and ugly to wear. It seems like it really should be smaller, considering the small storage capacity, but perhaps that will happen in the next generation of hardware. The wires attached to the cheekpiece speakers seem flimsy and probably easily broken. It also uses an old 9-pin type connection (covered with a rubber plug which is not completely watertight) for connecting to the computer, which also seems like a strange choice and an easy place for hardware failure to occur. The directions say to dry out the unit completely before plugging it in.

The music software that comes with it (MediaMonkey 2.5.4) is available as freeware, and it was also annoying to immediately get solicited to buy a software upgrade when I installed it. The interface seems fairly cluttered and cumbersome to me, too, compared to the iTunes program. But I was able to get it to work and sorted out some music to listen to and downloaded it into the unit without too many problems.

It held about 1:45 worth of songs, I believe, which should be plenty to get me through all my planned swim workouts. However, if I want all new music, I'll have to reload it after almost every swim. That may be a big reason to pay the extra $42 for the 256 MB version, to have to reload it with fresh tunes every 3 swims or so. Personally, I find sorting through music on the computer a fairly tedious process.

It uses the plug into the computer to recharge (not separately into an outlet). The battery life is supposed to be about 4 hours. The red charging light switches from fast blinking to slow blinking when fully charged - I'd like to see a green light or something a little more definite.

First tryout at the pool: It fit a little tight and pulled my goggles hard against my eye sockets - I need to loosen them a bit! I didn't really notice the back-of-the-head unit, but perhaps I might if I did flip turns. I occasionally hit my shoulder against the cheek pieces, but it wasn't really an issue. At least you always know the unit is securely on your head, since it's attached to your goggles.

The sound is tinny and hollow out of the water. But IN the water, it's nearly perfect. Doing freestyle you always have one ear in the water, so it's perfect for that. In breaststroke, with both ears coming in and out of the water, the sound is kind of choppy.

But the bottom line?

Swimming with music is a THING OF BEAUTY. It is INFINITELY BETTER than just staring at the black line and getting bored out of your skull. Especially when you hit a song that has just the right tempo for your stroke and you can really swim along with the music, it's just like skating. Or dancing.

If you find lap swimming excruciatingly boring, buy one. The $138 model gets you plenty enough tunes for swim workouts of an hour or more. Load it with happy music. No Jaws theme.

I suspect that prices on the 128 MB model may go down from $138 after Christmas when retailers try to unload their stock, now that the 256 MB model is available. If you're in doubt, wait a few weeks and see if you can find a more tempting price.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What will my 50th Year Challenge be?

I turn 50 next June.

F*CK!!!!

No, wait, it's a celebration. Beats heck out of the alternative, and all that.

Any suggestions for me on some special personal challenge to celebrate it?

NO 50-mile ultras. Not even a 50K ultra. NO 50 marathons. No five marathons, even. I'm still not even sure I'm going to do ONE marathon in 2007. I'm trying to restructure this little hobby of mine next year so it does NOT involve any training days over 5 hours!! Just maybe a few events over 5 hours.

I'm trying to cut the "this really sucks and it's stupid besides" time down to just a few miles per event. Not like 30 or 40 miles of "this really sucks".

Right now I'm thinking along the lines of:

Swim:
Fifty 50x25 workouts
Maybe five 50x50
Maybe even one 50x100

Bike:
Fifty 50km workout rides

Run:
Fifty 5k workouts

Events:
5 triathlons (probably different distances, though)
5 x 5k road races, each one faster
5 x half marathon
5 cycling centuries

Other ideas for me? I want to get this figured out in the next few weeks so I can get the 2007 calendar blocked out. I need something that really captures my imagination.

Thanks in advance!

Trainers and their credentials

Do you use a personal trainer? A coach?

Do you know what his/her credentials are?

Has he/she undergone any objective knowledge testing by any accredited agency to become certified? Does he/she actually have a college degree in the field from a reputable institution, or is he/she working on little education and a sketchy understanding of the science of fitness and performance?

Check this out. You probably would want a certified mechanic to work on your car, why not on your body?

Here is information about the accreditation procedure of the National Academy of Sports Medicine. There are some other reputable associations which offer certification, but not many. Be an informed consumer and don't be misled by scientific-sounding association names on a resume or fancy claims of degrees from obscure "institutions" that you never heard of.

About triathlon coaches, here is the information on Level I and II certification in the US, and here is information on Level III certification. Note that a Level I coach needs to (primarily) just attend a clinic and pass a written test. Personally, I'd recommend using at the very least a Level II coach - but also double-check their educational credentials and verify exactly what services they will provide before hiring them. (I counted only eleven Level III triathlon coaches in the USAT nationwide listing, so it might be difficult to find one of those in your immediate area.)

And perhaps I should add on behalf of the trainers and coaches out there doing a great job on not very much money - if you hire a well-educated genuine professional, be prepared to pay them a fee that is in line with their credentials, expertise, and time spent on providing services - just as in any other field of specialization. Fifty bucks a month doesn't buy many groceries for anyone!

Full disclosure: No, I haven't hired a coach yet. When I find one that has more scientific knowledge about exercise physiology and sports biomechanics than I do, combined with lots of success with the Masters Clydesdale/Athena athletes that he/she already coaches, and that I can afford, then we'll talk.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Another track workout with Garmin Forerunner 305

Went over to the track again with my training buddy David for some running with no special plan in mind, just do a little faster-than-normal running to remind my legs that they have to carry me through a 10K this Friday. Again, the heart rate readings (red) look kind of flaky (higher in some of the walk intervals than in the faster run laps), but the speeds (blue) are fairly straightforward.
  • Jog 1 mile to warm up.
  • Walk 1 lap = quarter mile.
  • Run faster 1 lap (I had planned 2 laps for ~800m, but died and stopped at 1. Still, it was a quarter-mile PR: 1:55 or 7:40 min/mile pace. Yay!!!)
  • Walk 1 lap.
  • Run faster 1 lap (slowed to 2:05).
  • Walk 1 lap.
  • Jog 1 more mile for what I planned to be my warmdown.
  • Walk 1 lap. Then David told me he wanted to go for an hour.
  • Jog 4 more laps until it was too dark to read the Garmin.

I'm not sure how I feel about this 10K on Friday. This is the sum total of any speedwork I've done for at least the last 6 months. It's at my local YMCA so I have no excuses not to show up. It's supposed to rain. It might be a long cold slog. Then again, it might be a bracing fall road running adventure. We'll see!

I do like the Garmin Forerunner 305 and can see how it would get highly addicting (even without reading the manual or trying out some of the fancier features like auto-lap or virtual running partner). I'm going to try to postpone buying one until the number on the scale says 25 pounds less. Unless I can't stand it any more and JUST HAVE TO HAVE ONE NOW. Unlike Mipper and Bolder, I'm not real big on this Delayed Gratification crap.

Meanwhile, in other Fun Toy News, my SwiMp3 ($138 on sale) arrived yesterday. I'll try to get it loaded with music tomorrow. This is my FIRST MP3 device, since I'm militantly opposed to using them while running and especially cycling, so I have to accumulate some songs on my computer now from scratch. I hope to have it ready to swim with on Wednesday, and subsequently I'll post a full review.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Testing the Garmin Forerunner 305

My training buddy David kindly let me borrow his Garmin Forerunner 305 ($247 and up) and I tested it out on our local high school track. It's a wrist unit that combines readings for time, position via GPS, and heart rate (with chest strap). I was able to get it up and running quickly with just a few glances through the manual.

I put it on the "running" setting, wore it over to the track, started up the timer and ran a mile (4 laps), walked a quarter mile (1 lap), reversed, ran a mile including three 50-yard pickups, and walked a quarter mile.

Loading the data analysis program onto my computer was seamless and I was able to look at the charts (YAY! CHARTS!) of my workout easily within five minutes:


First impressions:

  • Manuals and setup are surprisingly easy and user-friendly.
  • The wrist unit feels a bit big and clunky, but I could get used to it.
  • There is some 50 feet of play in the position data, even though I ran in the same inner lane every lap.
  • Total distance ran a bit high - distances measured around the track ranged from 0.25 miles to 0.28 miles. It probably would work better in straight-line running. It really got mad when I reversed on the track.
  • The heart rate meter was a little flaky at times (notice some anomalous readings in the red line, plus it started beeping at me for low heart rate once while walking), although it did find the 3 brief periods of elevated heart rate in the pickups I did in my last 3 running laps (while the pace data was too variable to pick out these increases).
  • The pace readings were a little high because the unit was measuring distance about 6% long.

Still, it was fun to play with (I love CHARTS! Even though it seems to auto-calculate the axes to include the anomalous data spikes, and they don't seem to be user-scalable) and I think it would be helpful for heart-rate based training - especially for running on local roads and doing followup post-run data analysis. I also think it would be fun to use during races. There are tons of features that I haven't tried yet - like the virtual running partner to help you pace yourself with, or using it on the bike. I wish it were waterproof enough to use during pool swims or open water swims, too.

I may just buy one for myself as a reward toy for reaching a weight loss goal. But that will have to wait a while until I actually reach said goal, about 25 pounds from now.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

My big brave girl

Our twins will be three and a half years old in another two weeks. Today Catherine did something completely new.

Elisabeth had a cold last week and Catherine took great interest in recommending "medicine" for her. In the past Catherine has fought and gagged whenever we've tried to make her take any medicine orally. She watched quite intently this week when I forced Elisabeth to take some liquid Tylenol or cough syrup amid much screaming and carrying on.

Today, though, Catherine started sniffling from contracting the same cold and had a hard time getting to sleep. Her father asked her if she wanted some medicine. Much to his surprise, she said yes.

So he brings her out into the kitchen for Mean Mommy to administer the Tylenol with decongestant and cough medicine, which tastes absolutely awful. Catherine sat down and I said "The medicine is going to taste bad, but it will help you feel better. Do you still want some?"

She nodded.

So I gave her half of the dose in her mouth in a syringe. She blinked and swallowed it and I told her there was some more. She opened her mouth and accepted it willingly, and then came in and snuggled on the couch with us until she got sleepy.

I was astounded! She's always fought like a wildcat to keep from taking it in the past.

I was so impressed and proud of her!

Then the other night when the girls were supposed to be going to sleep I came in their bedroom to try to get Elisabeth to settle down and Catherine darted out the door and ran down the hall. I looked around the house for her. She had hidden in the living room in a cubbyhole behind the couch and underneath the TV. Her giggles gave her away, though, and she knew that the gig was up when I pulled her out and she willingly marched back to bed. That's the first time that I can recall her anticipating my movements and trying to look at things from my perspective in advance.

It's so neat to see them developing new capabilities every single day. My little girl is quickly becoming all grown up right before my eyes!

The girls still don't quite have the pedaling action down yet on the tricycle, however, partly because they're small and it's really too big for them. They need a professional bike fit! But we'll do a technique session tomorrow over in the big high school parking lot and see how they do.

Colder ride

Today I whipped Buttercup back into shape, putting the pedals back on for the first time since she was shipped home - and I bundled up in my cold-weather gear and set out on a morning ride down to Tilghman Island with the Dastardly Duo preparing for Ironman Coeur d'Alene, David and Chuck.


Naturally today had to be the day I decided to do another one of those graceful failure-to-clip-out falls on my side. What a klutz. I ended up laying on the asphalt with the contents of my aerobottle spilled all around me. Fortunately it was just water.

I only went 36 miles with them - there were some fairly strong winds and in the colder temperatures today (about 40*F) I got pretty tuckered out battling them.

Somewhere along the way - probably in shipment to or from Florida - BOTH of Buttercup's aluminum water bottle cages behind the seat got broken. I think I'm going to just remove the whole apparatus. I don't really need to carry that much fluid with me until the hot-weather rides next summer. I still have the aerobottle and one bottle cage on the down tube. Who needs that extra little bit of drag? Besides, one of my online buddies said, "Take 'em off, they look geeky when training."

God forbid I should look geeky when I'm tipping over sideways at a standstill on my bike.

Friday, November 17, 2006

We're back

We're back - the Canada geese, me, and Ellie.

The geese are getting their workouts over a few thousand miles. It's just getting to the time of year here where there is a long skein of them overhead almost any time you look at the sky, flapping and honking away. Sometimes you even hear them pass overhead in the middle of the night.

Ellie was back running today, and so was I. My legs have been weird and my knees achy - I suppose they're getting to like this long layoff and telling me they want it to continue indefinitely. Sorry, you two slackers! Out the door you go and onto the track! Only 9 laps today before it got dark, and the first 2 or 3 felt positively awful. But then I warmed up and my knees stopped hurting and it just felt the normal, regular old amount of awful.

Ellie sent me a couple links relevant to our discussions here of late:

A dietician who also believes in real food for real triathletes - but she talks about healthy stuff like Kashi and spinach when I'm thinking Tater Tots.

Also a nice summary of P.I.S.S. - Post Ironman Stress Syndrome. Only they don't call it that, exactly.

My husband brought Buttercup and my big red duffle bag back here tonight, so my bike is finally home after doing her job well in Florida. Good girl, Buttercup! I'll put the pedals back on in the morning and take her out again for 50-60 miles with my training buddy David and another local triathlete, Chuck, who are both getting ready for Ironman Coeur d'Alene next June. Here we go again!

We're also all doing a 10K at my YMCA next Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. If today's run was any indication, I'll start out stiff and stay slow, but be happy to be outside and in motion in the crisp autumn air.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

New Annapolis Triathlon next year!

I'm SO in! I just heard about this, and it sounds great to me! Another Olympic in a great venue - right in my backyard! They don't mention the sea nettles that will be our swim buddies, though. And I sure hope they don't route the bike course over the cobblestones in the old part of town!

"The inaugural running of the Annapolis Capital Triathlon will take place on September 9, 2007. Presented by the Annapolis Triathlon Club with race management by the Columbia Triathlon Association, this Olympic distance race will introduce participants to the charms and history of the Capital City of Maryland, also known as the "Sailing Capital of the World". Home to the United States Naval Academy, framed by two great tidal rivers (The Severn River and South River) and situated along the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis is an ideal spot for a triathlon."

"Swimmers will negotiate the picturesque waters of the Severn River, as they navigate the 1.5K swim. The 40K bike route will take participants through historic Annapolis, past the oldest, functioning state capital building in the country and through the neighborhoods and rolling farm lands of Anne Arundel County. The 10K run course incorporates stretches of the nationally renowned Annapolis Ten Miler course that is both challenging and beautiful. Participants will run through city streets lined with cobble stone sidewalks and historic homes, and beneath the Naval Academy Chapel dome, before finishing in the heart of town."

Constant vigilance

That's the price I have to pay to be leaner - with my huge appetite, love of food, and efficient fat-gainer metabolism. The only way that I lose weight is to pay extremely close attention to food intake. The workouts don't seem to make the teensiest dent in the scale readings at all, for me, unfortunately.

After my taper and a few weeks of unmonitored eating I was back up 5 pounds. Gawd, can I gain or what!?

So now that I've recovered from the Ironman Attempt of 2006 I'm back in that Seventh Ring of Hell logging all my intake. OK, let's get a more positive attitude here, shall we? Seventh Ring of Heck.

I just bought the Fitday.com PC software for $20, which seems to offer a few advantages over the online version (mainly you can keep the window open and don't have to log in every time you go back to it). So I'm logging all my caloric input and expenditure into that again now - at least 5 days per week.

It works when I work it (all told, I'm down about 20 pounds from the spring). In 3 days back at it now the scale shows an encouraging 3 pounds off, even when eating over 1750 calories each day. That's much more than my expected rate of loss - a pound per week or so is what I can do without seriously restricting myself. But it's a nice little encouragement and pat on the back for getting back on track.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Let the buyer beware

Nowhere in the triathlon world is this warning more appropriate than in the area of sports nutritional supplements, foods, and drinks. There is very little government regulation of these products in the U.S., and the manufacturers have a highly profitable business with a strong anti-regulation lobby.

When looking at these products with a critical eye - the incredible markups and total nonsense one sees!!!! "Sports" jelly beans at triple the price of regular jellybeans, just with a little extra salt in them. Jelly blocks at $2/bag which are practically the same thing as Chuckles candy for 50 cents but taste worse. "Sports protein" drinks which aren't nearly as balanced proteins as plain old milk.

In marketing their products, many vendors resort to making far-reaching claims and justify their products through the use of pseudoscientific babble. Monthly newsletters are put out by the companies selling these products which are filled with pseudoscientific nonsense which is intended to sound fairly plausible if you don't read it with a very critical eye for some actual objective evidence of efficacy.

In my opinion, one of the prominent examples is Hammer Nutrition, which targets the endurance athlete niche. Their resident "expert" and "Director of Research and Product Development" is "Dr." Bill Misner, who authors their "scientific" articles promoting their products. Let's take a look at his so-called "doctorate" credentials with a critical eye: He claims a "Ph.D." in 1996 (with high honors) and an "M.S." (with honors) in the same year from American Holistic College of Nutrition, Birmingham, Alabama. It seems this was changed to "Clayton College of Natural Health" in 1997. It's a non-accredited mail-order diploma mill, apparently (and they also market their own line of supplements and remedies). "Degrees" are available for $3500 to $9900. In the words of Quackwatch, "CCNH does have one potentially valuable aspect. Its credentials are a reliable sign of someone not to consult for advice."

You too can have a PhD, for less than you might spend on a new bike!! With high honors, even! Then you too can become a Director of Research and Product Development for a nutritional products company!

I should have gotten into the business of marketing sports nutrition products long ago - I'd be a lot wealthier now. Unfortunately I must be ethically-impaired, at least in the marketplace, because I just couldn't bring myself to BS people shamelessly into buying products that are at best, needlessly expensive and worse, often totally ineffective.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

That day every parent dreads

It's arrived.

I was doing a big cleaning behind and under the couch, which is a huge project because it's a 3-piece sectional that's difficult to move. So there were many month's accumulation of books, toys, puzzle pieces, old plastic Easter eggs, etc., under there.

So I'm working on cleaning back there and I hear the toilet flush in the nearby bathroom.

I walk in to see what's going on and Catherine is in there.

"Bye-bye egg."

So now at least one-half orange plastic Easter egg is down somewhere in the bowels of the plumbing. So far no adverse symptoms have occurred, but we haven't had a lot of time to stress-test the system. I'll be holding my breath with every morning flush.

So . . . what's next?

I counted up the weeks and if I'm going to do a spring marathon, it's time to start training already!

Here are some of the short list contenders:
I'm inclined towards the National Marathon in DC, since that will involve the least travel for me. But that race has qualifying standards, and I just barely qualify based on not-so-recent 5K and 10K times. I'd be way at the back of the pack even if I ran a PR. And an 18-week training program would have to start . . . next Saturday. But the challenging goals have always held more appeal to me.

I've received a very kind offer of coaching expertise to work towards a spring marathon, but I'm still not sure that I'll be able to maintain anything like a consistent running training schedule on weekdays. It will have to consist mostly of long runs on weekends or with the single baby jogger while Elisabeth is in school, which may get a bit dicey in the winter months. Plus I'm not very amenable to being told what to do, and I don't want to be making a long series of "explanations" to anyone (aka excuses) about why I didn't complete the scheduled runs.

I like the Hal Higdon long run schedule, but I don't believe that I'll be able to do nearly so many shorter runs on weekdays. We'll see what I can cobble together. Maybe that means I should do something closer to Higdon's novice schedule. Combined with my bike and swim stuff.

The main target races through the spring are still the standard ones that I've done for the last two years, and I have to reserve some time for that bike and swim training through the winter, too:
Yeah, most people would take more time off after an Ironman attempt. So maybe it's good, in one sense, that I was a DNF at Ironman Florida - I didn't bring back any laurels to rest on! I don't feel like I've "earned" an extended vacation, nor do I feel like I psychologically need a long break. I took off the last entire week from workouts, and it seems like it's time to get back to it. I don't feel like I have the luxury of an "off-season" if I'm going to continue to improve my fitness - why stagnate and slip backwards (and gain weight) for several weeks? What purpose would that serve?

Disappointed in the local tri shop

Below is the email that I wrote to TriBikeTransport and the local tri shop, Bonzai Sports, after a very disappointing experience when I arrived in Florida. After a phone call and two emails to Bonzai Sports, all I got was a "We'll look into it" on the phone - no apology, no explanation, no return phone call, no return email.

That's one place I won't do business with again. I would gladly use TriBikeTransport again - their service was worth every cent - although I understand that Bolder's experience with them wasn't as positive.



I was extremely pleased with the services and staff of TriBikeTransport. The staff went far, far beyond the call of duty in helping me with some much-needed repairs to the chain and derailleur before Ironman Florida. I would definitely use the service again and will recommend it to others.

Unfortunately, I am extremely disappointed with the service of your partner shop in northern Virginia, Bonzai Sports http://www.tribonzai.com/

I had called ahead a couple weeks ahead of time to line up a tune-up before the bike was shipped. I was told it needed to be there at least 4 days in advance for a tuneup, and that I did not need a special appointment. I confirmed on the phone that a dropoff Tuesday October 24th would be a good dropoff date.

I made a special 2-hour drive over there (keeping my daughter out of school one day) on a weekday to drop off the bike on the requested date, the Tuesday 4 days in advance of the final dropoff date for shipment.

When the employee wrote up the ticket at dropoff I asked them to do a complete tune-up and especially fix the chain which had a broken link and adjust the derailleur which was slipping, and those requests were written on the ticket in my presence. I left two phone numbers to reach me for any problems or issues with the tuneup.

It was obvious when I picked up the bike in Florida at the race, however, that the bike hadn't been touched (the derailleur was still out of adjustment, the chain hadn't been fixed, there were still frayed, loose derailleur cables) and the tuneup had not been done, and I had not been called nor notified in any way about it by the shop.

This added a lot of extra time and effort to the drop-off for me, plus a lot of extra time and stress in Florida when I picked up the bike and it still needed a lot of work two days before an Ironman race, when I was away from home and without proper tools to service it.

Thank you again for your interest in customer service.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another day, another playground

Happy Veterans Day and thank you to all who serve. (I think the Maryland state flag is the best of all the state flags, don't you?)




She did it again

Right on the heels of Kona, Sister Madonna Buder rocked the World Championship 70.3. Needless to say, she's the 75-79 year old world champion! (Yeah, she kicked 78-year-old Jackie Yost's butt.) I'd love to finish Eagleman in that time next year - although it would take me a half marathon PR to do it! Hmmm, that might not be a bad goal, actually. . . .

NAME Madonna Buder
BIB NUMBER 1659
AGE 76
PROFESSION Miscellaneous
STATE/COUNTRY WA USA
SWIM BIKE RUN OVERALL POSITION
44:59 3:15:12 2:34:33 6:47:29 1294

RACE LEG DISTANCE PACE POSITION
TOTAL SWIM 1.2 mi. (44:59) 2:22/100m 1303

Bike Split 1 30.4 mi. (1:45:37) 17.27 mph
Bike Split 2 25.6 mi. (1:29:35) 17.15 mph
TOTAL BIKE 56 mi. (3:15:12) 17.21 mph 1313

Run Split 1 6.3 mi. (1:11:32) 5.28 mph
Run Split 2 6.8 mi. (1:23:01) 2.64 mph
TOTAL RUN 13.1 mi. (2:34:33) 11:47/mile 1294


TRANSITION TIME
T1: SWIM-TO-BIKE 6:51
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 5:54


PENALTY TIME
TOTAL PENALTIES --:--

Friday, November 10, 2006

IMFL photos

A couple of the official photographer bike photos just came through. Notice the FAST red fingernails! I'll have to keep searching for any from the swim. (Update: I found a swim photo, but it's really too awful to post. Trust me on this.) I'm pretty sure there weren't any run photos in the darkness, but I could be wrong.


After action report

In the manner of Tri-Daddy, these are my notes on "What I would do differently, knowing what I know now".
  1. More total training volume. Yeah. But not hugely more, if I want to keep my life in balance.
  2. 3 to 6 more long swims of ~2 hours steady.
  3. Some ocean swim practice, especially navigating during swells and choosing the easiest course with a current present. Perhaps arrive earlier on site for more swim practice.
  4. 3 to 6 more long bike rides of 80-120 miles.
  5. If asphalt starts getting badly lumpy, try riding on the white line first instead of riding on the biggest part of the bumps (caused by road traffic) for 10 miles.
  6. 3 or 4 runs at night in the pitch black with a headlamp, just to be ready for it.
  7. Approach the run leg on race day more like a standalone marathon, than just the last few miles of a long day to be survived. Have a concrete nutrition plan going in, e.g., gels at 4, 8, 12, 16 and 20 miles. (I had thought since the aid stations were so well-stocked I would be able to just take what I needed when I needed it, but that strategy didn't work so well.)
  8. Have a concrete strategy in place before the race for the run to deal with the psychologically difficult (for me) halfway point turnaround - like expect it to be very rough to see the finish line area, walk to Mile 14 with your special needs supplies, then run again.
  9. Have pre-determined personal cutoff times in writing. Like, "If you're walking, unless you're going straight to the med tent, keep going unless you hit the halfway point of the run after 8:15 PM." I always thought I would finish (unless a race official took my chip at their cutoffs) and never truly thought through how to deal with feeling like I was absolutely too exhausted to go on.
  10. Have a cheap windproof jacket and gloves in both the T2 bag and the special needs bag so you won't have to carry it around until it's truly needed.
  11. Pack along a headlamp for the run.
  12. Have a better understanding of my heart rate drift on very long (6-10 hour) efforts and selecting a heart rate range that I can maintain on both the run and the bike. Even though it was too dark to see my watch or heart rate monitor on the run.
What I would do the same:
  1. My training week-to-week was more consistent for a longer period of time than it's ever been. I'd stick with the strategy of tallying weekly totals and targeting minimum numbers in each discipline each week.
  2. Keep targeting body weight throughout the entire year before the race. Every pound lost is free speed.
  3. My nutritional and hydration strategy through the swim and bike leg worked pretty well for me.
  4. My pace on the bike was comfortable and sustainable under the wind conditions.
  5. A gel halfway through the 2-loop swim helped a lot.
  6. A quiet place to stay and unwind with friends away from Race Central helped keep me on an even keel.
  7. Complete clothing changes made me feel a lot better on the bike and run and didn't slow down my transitions too much.
  8. TriBikeTransport worked great for me, although my local bike shop screwed up big time by not doing the pre-shipment tuneup. At all.
  9. I still wouldn't buy any Ironman gear until after the race was done and the title earned.

Things I've learned (or relearned)

Some totally random thoughts are below that I'll probably keep adding to as things occur to me as I emerge from my post-IMFL fog. Or is that Post Ironman Stress Syndrome (PISS)? I'm still processing a thousand thoughts and feelings - positive, negative, everything in between. These are in no particular order. Feel free to add your own thoughts or reactions in the comments!
  • Just because someone is faster than you doesn't mean they know very much factual information about nutrition or physiology or biomechanics, and they can be some of the biggest offenders in spouting off arrant pseudoscientific nonsense. They may be fast in spite of whatever they're recommending, not because of it.
  • Everybody has to work out what is most effective for them in terms of fueling and effort in a race. Experience is the greatest teacher. Ideas from other folks are great, but they don't have to run in your body.
  • Speed is no indicator of character or intelligence, although some faster people may try to convince you otherwise.
  • I genuinely like the majority of triathletes. I can't say that for many other large groups of people.
  • The Ironman hype is a double-edged sword.
  • Ironman is a corporate product, and yes, they're in business to make a profit.
  • Entering an event a year in advance is helpful in planning and training. But HAVING to enter and pay a non-transferable entry a year in advance to secure a spot sure is a pain in the butt for lots of other reasons.
  • You can be a complete triathlete without ever doing an iron-distance event. Or even a half Ironman. Or even an Olympic-distance triathlon. Though many, many folks will try to make you think otherwise.
  • Coaches are sometimes not all they're cracked up to be. There are a lot of great resources out there that one can utilize besides a coach. If you have one that works for you, great! The personality/services fit is what is important. It doesn't mean that same individual will work for anyone else. Some stubborn folks like me plain just don't like being told what to do.
  • Always be a little suspicious of anyone trying to sell you anything.
  • Yes, it's worth it to make the attempt if you can still smile at the end of the day.
  • Being in the middle of the long miles in an endurance event on race day can be not very much fun at all. Especially when the sun is setting and you have hours and hours yet to go.
  • Doing a twenty-hour training week or two isn't so hard. Doing thirty or forty weeks in a row of 10 to 15 hours of training is what is hard. It's the equivalent of a part-time job or enrolling in college.
  • Most people lie about their actual training hours. They often cite their top week or two as an average.
  • Just one bad cold can really knock the stuffing out of you for well over a month. Use hand sanitizer more.
  • There's very little "forgetting" to eat or maintain a manageable pace or use sunblock. There's planning or not planning.
  • The human body can make some pretty amazing transformations in less than a year.
  • Then again, going from flat on my back for an entire month in the hospital, desperately trying to keep my triplets alive, to attempting an Ironman 3 years later? Who would have thought it? I guess that is a lot to expect of any normal human body.
  • Your body doesn't know there's supposedly an off-season.
  • I still don't believe in overtraining. I believe lots of people get worn out from their training, or do more than what they're really trained for, and then don't get enough sleep nor take enough days off to fully recover. But that's being undertrained, not overtrained.
  • Going hard for 12 hours is much more than double going hard for 6 hours. And mile 20 is still the halfway point in a marathon.
  • I never heard any of the fast triathletes and coaches talk about how it's psychologically and physically extraordinarily difficult to run in pitch blackness on a strange course when you've already been going for 13 or 14 hours that day, and that I should have practiced it in advance. Maybe because they're already done and getting their massage by sundown.
  • The people that you meet along the way are what make it worthwhile.
  • It's sometimes difficult to keep the "hardships" of a race in perspective. When somebody dies in a race you're in, or another guy passing you has had a double lung transplant, or another has 77 written on his calf, that starts to put it in perspective.
  • Any "suffering" on a race course is self-imposed and by choice, and therefore not genuine suffering at all. Temporary discomfort, maybe. Don't be a drama queen.
  • At the end of the day, the sun still sets, and it will come up in the morning again, regardless of what happens on the race course.
  • 99.9% of the people in the world don't give a rat's ass about triathlon.
  • Karma - in terms of payback for good and bad actions, or punishment for hubris - is real in triathlon. But it takes its own time.
  • In triathlon, some totally unhealthy obsessive-compulsive behaviors can start to seem darned-near normal.
  • Whatever you did on the course, it's still not healthy (nor anything that I want to emulate) if you really needed an I.V. afterwards.
  • Everyone who pays the entry fee has an equal right to be there.
  • "I'm slow, I know, get over it."
  • I'm still in the game because it's fun and challenging and endlessly interesting. When it's not any more, I'll stop.
  • There are those of us for whom the Big Impossible Goals with a sprinkling of fear are the best motivators of all.
  • Another great motivator to many of us are those people who said it couldn't be done. Thank you for spurring me on.
  • It still really is about the journey and the process, not the destination or the outcome. Though that sounds like a huge cliche. And bringing home a medal would have been nice.
  • Yes, I'd still like to earn the Ironman title. And no, thank you for your kind comments, but what I did was not enough to earn the title. I greatly respect and applaud anyone who has rightfully earned that title. But it would still be okay if I never did.
  • I wouldn't trade the last full year of training under my belt, those dawn training rides in summer, and the thrilling experience of standing on that beach on the morning of an Ironman for almost anything. Well, a million bucks, maybe. There's a lot you can do with a million bucks. I could score some incredible race wheels with a million bucks.
  • There are very few days that you will remember in detail for the rest of your life. Ironman Florida day last Saturday was one of them.
  • My girlfriends are the best. They totally rock.
  • And here's a special shout-out to a few of my very favorite tri-bloggers and now real-life pals and Ironmen: Shelley. Bolder. Comm. Kahuna. Trimama. TriBoomer. TriDaddy. Adam. And of course, Ellie. Plus a lot of others that I wanted to spend time with. I couldn't be prouder of your accomplishments and gladder to know you.
  • It's sure good to be home and hug my husband and kiss my girls, and take more time to play with them again.
  • I'm very, very fortunate to have the life that I do.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Getting back to normal

Even though I miss my girlfriends (from left: Dawn, Holly, Linae, Shawn, Ellie, Dianne, and Kathy). . . .
It's good to be back beside the peaceful waters at home.

Where every puddle is meant for jumping. . . .

And mud has strangely magnetic qualities. . . .

And every mountain is meant to be climbed. . . .

And everything is new. . . .

And slides are meant for trying to get hurt on.

Why I didn't finish

I really wanted these in my special needs bag, for some chewy comfort food sweet gel goodness. But I couldn't find them in any local stores, dammit. I guess they're too retro. If there's a next time, I'll know to buy them online well in advance.

IMFL swim, bike, and run

I still owe you some details about the rest of the day! I may keep adding to this as I remember more things, but here's the gist of it:

Swim: I was less nervous at the start than I expected. The start was much more civilized and with less contact than I expected, too. (That was a huge relief to me, since it was the part of the day that I feared the most going into it.) We who stood in the back all just waded out together slowly into the water and started swimming when we were deep enough and had room. I never experienced any rough contact. The outermost buoy turns were crowded, but I expected that and just held my position through the turns.

It was a difficult swim for me because (even though I had lots of open water swim practice this year) I had no preparation for swimming in big ocean swells. I had to keep reminding myself not to fight the water, to relax and swim forward. Several times I had to stop and wait to be lifted on top of the swells to sight the next buoy, even when they were using 8-foot-high turn buoys.

I have to say that I was shocked by the scarcity of on-water support. I saw one boat, a couple jetskis, maybe 4 kayaks. For 2200 athletes spread over 1.2 miles of rough ocean water. Most of the time I believe I was at least several hundred yards from any potential source of aid if I got in trouble. We were mostly on our own.

"The water is my sky." There were sparkling blue lights underwater which looked like beautiful stars (probably bioluminescent dinoflagellates which we were disturbing). I also watched one small ray swim under me and settle into the sand below. A few small fish, nothing else. No sharks, no jellyfish.

Due to my inexperience in ocean swimming, I had the same difficulties reading the currents that Shirley describes. There was a current going east and a wind going west blowing up choppy waves. I managed to swim on an angle into the current for 3 out of 4 legs, when I could have run up the beach further between the two laps and avoided some of it. I swallowed ocean water two or three times, but not in huge quantities.

I tucked a gel into my wetsuit sleeve and took it at the midway point, which I think helped a lot in keeping up my energy on the second lap.

In the shallows I might have improved my time by a minute or two by dolphining more instead of being periodically held back by receding waves, but without practice at that it might have tired me out more, too. Hard to say. The water appeared shallower than it actually was, and I tried to set my feet down too soon several times.

I was ecstatic to be finished with that swim! The wetsuit strippers and the showers at the swim exit were new for me. I just followed the strippers' directions, and I took some extra time to get my hair and face fully rinsed free of saltwater.

T1: Was uneventful - got all my cycling gear put on and headed out. I avoided using "helpers" in the tent since they didn't really save me much time at Chesapeakeman. The volunteers outside had unracked my bike and handed it to me, which saved me maybe 30 seconds or a minute.

Bike: I started comfortably and drank water until the hill at mile 12, then picked it up a bit and started the race-day nutrition (until going back to water and gel at mile 100). My tongue felt swollen for an hour or two after getting out of the salt water - that was yucky!

I maintained a reasonably comfortable pace for the rest of the day, and I think I kept my heart rate well below 155 most of the ride. The course was much hillier than I expected, since I come from the TRUE flatlands without a single hill at all. I never dismounted on the course, but I stopped about 4 times to put in eye drops and peed then, which worked reasonably well. My bike seat got very uncomfortable and is a real limiting factor - I have to keep trying new ones. No back pain at all, hurrah!

We had headwinds for the first fifty miles which kept me very slow on the first half. Then later on the winds died off a little, so I didn't get the full benefit of a tailwind, but still rode a big negative split. About 20 miles of the course were on rural backroads with no shoulder and a very bumpy washboard surface - it took me a long time to figure out it was smoother if I rode directly on the rightmost white line (which took some attention, with no shoulder to swerve onto).

It was just too long for me, and there was very little scenery to distract me. One hundred miles of pine trees, sand, and trailers. I got very bored and tired of being out there.

There's something very weird about riding your bike and watching the sun get low in the sky, and knowing that you've been going hard since sunup, and that you still have to get back to the start before sundown, and still have a LOT of miles to go after that.

T2: They took my bike from me to rack it, and I clomped along a long way in my bike shoes. Might have been faster to just take them off and run in my socks. I changed fully to running clothes for a fresh start. I had a jacket and warm top tied around my waist against the impending cold, although I didn't really need them until I was done running. I just didn't want to put an expensive jacket in my special needs bag because it might have gotten thrown out, but I did find it annoying to carry them that long when I wasn't actually wearing them.

Run: I started out at a marathon shuffle pace, walking at the water stops (which I later calculated gave me a 13:15 min/mile pace to the first turnaround). I tried to eat and drink something at each aid station, but I may have let slip the consistency of my caloric intake by then. When it got fully dark it was psychologically very tough. I had hoped to be able to recognize some of my fellow triathletes along the way to soak up their energy and offer some good cheer, but that was impossible. On the course were huge floodlights which shone a half mile down the road, totally blinding anyone running towards it, silhouetting the other runners, and making it impossible to see the actual road most of the time.

The aid stations were numerous and well-stocked with everything that one might want in terms of food or drink. The volunteers were enthusiastic and I did try to thank them as often as I could and let them know that we appreciated all their hard work. There were a few ambulances parked out on the course, but Ellie describes them better than I could. There were also lots of long, dark, lonely and forbidding stretches where it would have been easy to stumble or fall and have no one spot you for quite a while. In the neighborhoods there were also a number of cars driving over the dark run course between the exhausted participants, which didn't seem very safe.

About mile 8 I started walking full time, unable to resume running. I saw Ellie for the second time and told her I didn't think I could make it. (We each had flashing necklaces on which were perfect and allowed us to spot each other in the dark.) Some other athletes invited me to walk with them and started trying to engage me in talk - but a few minutes later they took off running. It felt pretty lonely after that, especially when I was thinking that most people were on their second loop and I would be all alone after the turnaround. I was starting to weave and stumble even while walking. I thought hard for about an hour about what to do. (I later calculated that my pace going back on the first loop had dropped to about 16:10 min/mile, and that was still half jogging).

Stopping: I crossed the timing mats, picked up my special needs run bag, and ate my M&Ms. I sat there a while. They didn't help. I was just too exhausted to contemplate going back out into that darkness for another half marathon, and didn't think I'd be able to walk it in by the midnight cutoff (Which I think was correct - I would have needed to average better than 18 min/mile to finish on time, and I don't think I could have done that for 13.1 miles more). Running any more was out of the question. I took off my timing chip and trudged toward the finish area to turn it in. Fortunately all my friends were there, and their supportive presence saved the day for me.

IMFL fatality

I'm so very sad for the whole family of Barney Rice. Our hearts go out to them. He stood on the same beach on race day morning as all of us, with the same hopes and fears. It could have been any one of us.

I continue to be concerned that the very low numbers of on-water support staff at IMFL may have contributed to this by increasing the time until he was rescued and CPR started. I truly hope that was not the case. Perhaps the autopsy will provide clues.

--------------

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/F/FL_IRONMAN_DEATH_FLOL-?SITE=FLPLA&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

Nov 8, 11:18 PM EST

Mont. resident dies after being rescued during Ironman

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- A Montana resident who had to be rescued from the Gulf of Mexico while swimming part of the Ford Ironman Florida has died, authorities said.
Barney Rice, 35, died Tuesday night according to Bay County Medical Center records. The cause of death was not immediately clear but an autopsy will be performed, officials said.
Rice was at about the 1.8 mile mark of a 2.4 mile swim on Saturday when other triathletes flagged down officials, according to a police report. Rescue divers who responded found Rice unconscious and not breathing but emergency officials were able to get a pulse en route to a hospital, the report said.

Ironman spokeswoman Helen Manning told The News Herald of Panama City that Ironman North America and Ironman Florida had no immediate comment on Rice's death but will release a statement in the coming week. An after-hours call placed to Ironman North America by The Associated Press was not immediately returned.

Rice owned a car and boat dealership in Kalispell, Mont., according to the paper.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Post-DNF analysis

In my quest to figure out my exhaustion on Ironman day, I added up everything that I can remember eating that day on fitday.com. This includes breakfast and everything pre-swim and post-swim. By 8PM (going 13 hours of exercise by then) it added up to approximately:

Total: 3318 calories
Carbs: 579 g, 2246 cal, 68% of calories
Fat: 80 g, 721 cal, 22% of calories
Protein: 81 g, 322 cal, 10% of calories
Calcium, mg: 1061.2
Phosphorus, mg: 728.64
Magnesium, mg: 210.61
Sodium, mg: 7759.3
Potassium, mg: 2985.4

Sources:
Uncrustable PB&J (4)
Corn syrup (in gel)
Honey (in gel)
Carbo-Pro (maltodextrin, in gel)
Apricots
Cashew nuts, dry roasted
Craisins
Gel candy
Gatorade
Ensure (2)
Chicken broth
Banana
Muffin
Egg, whole, boiled (2)
Orange, raw
Cookie, NS as to type
Succeed capsules (8)
Rolaids (4)

There might have been a few more calories in there that I've forgotten, like a couple small packs of M&Ms or another gel or two, but that's most of it.

Hydration? I had some additional water on top of the Gatorade (mostly first and last 12 miles on the bike). I was definitely well-hydrated. I peed 4 times on the bike and twice on the run. Not large volumes each time, but hydration was present and accounted for. (I would have done it less on the bike, but I had to stop 4 times to put eye drops in my eyes to keep my contacts from turning to cinders. Which worked well, by the way.)

I had no muscle cramps, stomach cramps, stomach sloshing, or intestinal distress whatsoever all day. I didn't even have any back muscle spasms on the bike, which I often do. I had a very slight side stitch for a while on the bike but that is much less than normal for me on race day. I did have a bit of an upset stomach from time to time (probably from the acidic Gatorade) but that was solved each time by a Rolaids. Toward the end of the day I was stumbling and uncoordinated from fatigue, but not at all dizzy or disoriented. No discernible finger swelling, no blisters.

Intake of everything was steady and regular on the bike, like clockwork. It did decrease in regularity and consistency on the run, but I was still taking some fluid and calories from every aid station each mile.

I just felt far too exhausted to finish another 13.1-mile loop. To do it in time for the cutoff I would have had to run part of it, and I didn't believe at the time that I could run another step.

After I stopped the run, I threw up about 20 minutes later when I started getting chilled (mostly chicken broth that I had just drank). (This is unusual for me - I've never thrown up during/after a race before).

Thoughts? Are there any glaring holes that I'm missing? (I mean, besides "train more" - do you see what you consider any big race-day mistakes that I made?)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The end of the day at Ironman Florida

I'm going to write my race report all backwards, since the DNF was what most people are curious about and have written me so many very kind comments and emails concerning.

I haven't quite fully processed the whole experience, and yes, I'm already second-guessing and wondering if there was something I could have done to go on. That's normal. But still I truly think in my heart that I should not have continued.

The race officials didn't pull me out of the race. I was still ahead of all the cutoffs on the race course.

But the last few miles (9 to 13 on the marathon course) while I was contemplating withdrawing, I was walking along with my mouth hanging open, stumbling and weaving in the pitch darkness on the course.

At the time I was quite sure I'd end up in the medical tent for an extended stay if I went on. I tried everything that I could think of for a few miles before I stopped - walking for the last 3 or 4 miles while thinking it through, drinking Gatorade, Coke, chicken broth, taking salt, eating some of every food they had at the aid stations (oranges, bananas, cookies, gel) - but nothing was helping. At the halfway point of the run I got my special needs bags, ate my baggie of M&Ms out of it, sat for a while to see if they would fix things, and they didn't.

I thought of my daughters. Could I let their mother go back out on that inky-black course with a fairly high probability of stumbling, getting injured, lying out there on the ground in the dark by herself, or ending up in one of the ambulances? Was this still healthy? The answers were all no.

I was simply exhausted. Even though there were nearly four hours remaining to the midnight finish line cutoff, my walking pace was slow enough that I would have certainly had to run some of the last half marathon lap to make it over the line in time, and I was sure I couldn't run any more and probably not even walk the 13.1-mile distance. (Later, looking at my lap times and the times of other people who walked the last lap, I think that calculation was correct).

I dragged myself up to the finish area a hundred yards away from the marathon halfway point and turned in my timing chip.

At the time I was quite sure I'd end up in the medical tent for an extended stay if I went on, and as it was I was shivering uncontrollably (even though wrapped in Mylar blankets), coughing up phlegm, and throwing up my stomach contents within 20 minutes of when I stopped. That convinced me that my decision was correct.

I don't know if I'm ever going to make another attempt. I have to say that I did not have a lot of fun out there on the course while the race was in progress, although I did enjoy all the peripheral festivities of the event. Maybe I'm not cut out for events lasting more than 6-8 hours. If I make another attempt at the Ironman distance, it won't be for at least three years (2009) until my daughters are in school and I can train without disrupting my family time with them.

Fortunately I did NOT buy any Ironman gear before the race, not a bit! I won't wear it without the title.

I'm already signed up for an Olympic distance and a half Ironman next year. I'll be concentrating on bringing down my times on my shorter distance triathlons.

All the kind comments that I have received have been incredibly helpful and very much appreciated. Thank you all so much!

Monday, November 06, 2006

IMFL 2006 by the numbers

NAME: NANCY TOBY
BIB NUMBER: 2484
AGE: 49
PROFESSION: MOMMY

SWIM 2.4 miles: 1:57:28 (3:05 min/100m, 2148th/2217 starters)
  • First loop: 52:10
  • Second loop: 1:05:19

T1: SWIM-TO-BIKE 10:13

BIKE 112 miles: 7:29:10 (14.96 mph, 2088th/2194 starters)

  • First 56 miles: ~4:06
  • Second 56 miles: ~3:33 (? it doesn't add up right, but those are my watch splits)

T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 8:00

RUN 26.2 miles: Did not finish (2109 finishers)

  • First run segment 13.1 miles: 3:13:10 (14:44 min/mile) (first half 1:27, second half 1:46)
  • Second run segment 13.1 miles: Did not start


Actual weather conditions on race day:

Mean Temperature

58 °F / 14 °C

Max Temperature

71 °F / 21 °C

Min Temperature

44 °F / 6 °C

Wind Speed

12 mph / 19 km/h (ENE)

Max Wind Speed (peaking at 16.1 mph between 8 to 10 AM)

16 mph / 26 km/h

I have heard that there was a red flag flying (which indicates high surf and/or strong currents) but I haven't yet been able to find anywhere that lists historical surf reports from race day.

Water Temperature (although it varied considerably)

71 °F / 21 °C

Sunday, November 05, 2006

IMFL DNF

Nope, I didn't make it to the Ironman finish line.

I stopped after the first of 2 loops of the run course at about 13:00 hours - even with 4 full hours to go I didn't think that I had enough energy left to walk it in, after a fairly tough first two legs.

I still think I made the right decision this morning - especially after hearing the details of someone drowning in the swim. (He may still be hanging on today, but it sounds like with major brain damage).

I can't think of any major mistakes that I made - I was just exhausted.

Details of the race to follow in a few days....

Friday, November 03, 2006

IMFL day 1 pics part 2

Here is Buttercup's new decal on her top tube. She must have liked it - she did a good job out there on the bike course.

The five gear bags waiting to be packed: Prerace/postrace, Swim/bike transition, Bike special needs, Bike/run transition, Run special needs.
This is what nearly the entire bike course looked like, punctuated by a few ramshackle trailers and lots of "false flats" (gradual long uphill grades). Plus the first fifty miles of energy-sapping headwinds, followed by twenty miles of rough washboard rural two-lane back road without shoulders.
This is the one big bridge which we crossed on the bike course at about Mile 12 and Mile 100. It's bigger and more demanding than it looks - it's high enough for sailboat masts to pass underneath.

IMFL day 1 pics

The pre-race dinner on Thursday night - the incredible Adam "Mr. 140.6" is on the immediate right.

Race gear! Plenty of selection!

Ellie at the race beach

Bolder, Jenny (eventual Athena 40+ winner, and my personal race day Ironman angel!), and Comm at the pre-race banquet

The beach two days prior to the race

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day 1 in Florida

Everything is fine here, but hectic. Except one thing - the airline managed to crack my laptop screen. It is still more or less usable, but there are visible cracks and a black spot about 2 inches square in the center. Of course, their disclaimers say they're not responsible for electronics, etc. BAH! It might be fixable....

AND I had to return the rental car to the airport because the gas gauge was broken and it read empty and was continually dinging at me!

AND the tuneup had not been done on my bike, so I had to spend some time getting it worked on today, getting the chain and derailleur fixed.

So I hope troubles come in threes and we're all done with those vexations!!

BIG SURPRISE! Two of our good friends from Calgary, Alberta - Dawn and Dianne - showed up to surprise me and Ellie! They phoned us - we thought from Calgary - then simply walked up to us at the expo! Both came all this way just to cheer us on! (And soak up a little Florida sun, too!) I was so surprised and touched that I almost cried!

The energy here is high - huge gathering at the big dinner tonight where I finally met many, many long-time online friends face-to-face - and otherwise it's lots of fun but a little nerve-wracking too. Quite windy today, hopefully calmer tomorrow.

I'll post a few photos when I can - right now the priority is getting some sleep!!

THANKS for checking in on us - another busy day tomorrow doing all the final preparations for IRONMAN DAY on Saturday. Packing the gear bags, doing final checks on the bike, checking the bags in, perhaps getting in a swim, and driving some of the bike course.

Can I do 140.6 miles under my own power on sea, bike, and foot - within 17 hours? Stay tuned to find out on Saturday along with me!!! Remember, www.ironmanlive.com will have updates for me (#2484) and about 2500 other triathletes making the attempt starting at 7AM central time!

On my way!

Just after 4:30 AM for a 6AM flight.

Early morning wakeups are the worst thing about this sport. Yawn. OK, this is just training for race day morning!

SEE YOU IN FLORIDA! And if you're not there, thanks for cheering for us from home!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Go Nancies!

There are seven Nancies in Ironman Florida 2006. I'm practically in the middle!
  • 2316 SNYDER NANCY 39 F AGE W35-39 STATESVILLE NC UNITED STATES STAY AT HOME MOM/ NON-PRACTICING ATTORNEY
  • 2423 WILBURN NANCY 45 F AGE W45-49 CAPITOLA CA USA UNITED STATES NURSE
  • 2427 SUMMERS NANCY 45 F AGE W45-49 CLIFTON VA USA MANAGER
  • 2482 MARQUETTE NANCY 48 F AGE W45-49 ROCHESTER MN USA REGISTERED NURSE
  • 2484 TOBY NANCY 49 F ATH W45-49 ARLINGTON VA USA MOMMY
  • 2494 KLUTENKAMPER NANCY 49 F AGE W45-49 LAKE ST. LOUIS MO USA RN
  • 2505 JAMES NANCY 50 F AGE W50-54 LADSON SC USA TEACHER
I like the "Stay at home mom/non-practicing attorney". Maybe I should have appended to mine "non-practicing PhD/practicing smartass".

My Ironman Florida goals

I like ShirleyPerly's Ironman Florida goals a lot. I think I'll just steal them, except she might tell me "Get your own d*mn goals and quit sponging off mine!"

Actually, they do sound a lot like my goals!

Last New Year's Eve I wrote out these objectives, and I still think they're pretty good ones:

Ultimate objectives:
  • Train intelligently and effectively for an iron-distance triathlon while keeping my life in balance with my other responsibilities.
  • Get to the Ironman Florida starting line (Nov 4) in the best shape of my life.
  • Enjoy every race day as a celebration of my training, bringing away lessons from each race.
I hope that I've checked off the first, and gotten a good head start on the remaining two. I'll go to Florida with those goals in my pocket, and do my best to bring them home fulfilled. Apart from those - finishing by midnight would make everything perfect. Sub-16-hours at the finish line would simply be icing on the cake.

And before I forget (yes, it's natural to become a teensy bit self-absorbed in these things) GOOD LUCK and PLEASANT TAILWINDS to all my fellow athletes and friends who will be at the starting line with me on Saturday - and THANK YOU SO MUCH to all those volunteering on race day, too! I couldn't do it without you all there too!

Also thank you again for the good wishes that I've received from everyone back at home. Thanks for following along - I do appreciate it greatly!!

Still, I can't believe that I'm missing the World Championship Punkin' Chunkin' this coming weekend for a trip to sunny Florida for a silly old triathlon.

Three more sleeps

Race day is three sleeps away! Well, probably 2.5 sleeps, since I'll be staring at the ceiling a lot of Friday night, I'm certain.

I'm glad I'm getting advance reports from people who are already down there, because it just doesn't seem quite real yet!

It will seem real when I start seeing the palm trees (hopefully NOT blowing in heavy winds) and the bikes with disc wheels going whop! whop! whop! as they fly past me.

I fly down tomorrow morning at 6AM.