Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Heat acclimatization

Every year I forget how long this process takes.

Today I ran 6 miles around the neighborhood. It was only about 86*F, but it sure felt hotter. (I know, in July I'll be begging on my knees for an 86*F day).

I just kept telling myself how much worse it was going to be on that shadeless, merciless Eagleman course in 12 days from now. And I'd already have 57+ miles in my legs for the day. And 6 miles won't even get me to the turnaround point on the run course.

Yep, that's good training!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cambridge Practice Triathlon

Today was the practice sprint triathlon with the good folks from Cambridge, hosted at Horn Point Laboratories, same as we did last year.

It was a great day for it with flat water and perfect weather! Unfortunately I'm just getting over this nasty cold and about ten minutes into the swim (after stopping to cough about three times) I realized I was kind of dizzy too, so I decided to call it a day and just take some photos of the other triathletes.

So I took a whole album of photos and put them up here.

Notable among them was Jim C., WHOSE BOSS DOESN'T KNOW HE READS MY BLOG AT WORK. Hi, Jim!!! Love your wheels! HI JIM'S BOSS!!!

Also take a close look at the awesome paint job on this bike in honor of the Flying Tigers - very appropriate for this Memorial Day!

I wish I had been able to get in a better training day prior to Eagleman, but it was still fun to see everyone and get out for a brief swim!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hard is too hard, easy is too easy

On the bike, that is. I did some more intervals on the bike today - 5 minutes at about 140 bpm alternating with 5 minutes at above 150 bpm.

Here was my usual route for the 26.2-mile loop:

I discovered that during the "easy" segments that even though 140 bpm felt like an easy, sustainable pace, it was very simple to let my heart rate drift way down under that when I wasn't paying attention. I think I've been taking the "easy" parts of my rides way too easy.

Likewise, during the harder 150 bpm segments, it's still much, much easier than my shorter intervals at higher intensity. I've probably been doing my shorter intervals a bit too hard. I'm guessing that I could maintain 150 bpm on the bike for an hour time trial, but not much longer than that.

I had encounters with two imbeciles on the bike today.

One was a group of about ten teenagers riding together on the highway shoulder, probably some sort of club or church group. They rode along with cars whizzing past at 60 mph directly adjacent to them, and all of them had their helmets slung from the handlebars. The only one wearing a helmet was the "adult" chaperone riding along in the rear.

The second was when I was going through town and turning left down a side street around a truck that had pulled too far into the intersection, blocking my sight down the road. As soon as I turned I nearly slammed head-on into a gap-toothed crackhead pedaling an old beach cruiser along on the wrong side of the road that had veered around the truck directly into my path. I exclaimed, "You nearly made me crash! You're on the wrong side of the road!" and naturally instead of an apology, that was simply met with a long string of derisive epithets from the strung-out moron. Whatever.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Columbia photos 2007

Mommy, can you fix my nose?

I wish I could, honey. Right after I fix my own.

Yeah, we're all sniffling and coughing again this week. Poor us.

Eagleman may be ugly. I'm not feeling very half-ironmanish today, I'm afraid.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Carry your caffeine

I'm a caffeine addict. Low caffeine is part of the reason that I fizzled out at the Columbia Triathlon last Sunday. But never again! I'm going to be sure to stock up on some of my favorite products for packing along one of the most effective and most reliable Performance Enhancing Drugs of all time: caffeine. There are several flavors of caffeinated sports gels on the market, but most of the caffeinated flavors are awful-tasting to me. Here are a few alternatives:

Caffeinated Clif Bloks in cola, orange, or black cherry flavors (50 mg caffeine/bag)

Penguin Caffeinated mints in peppermint, cinnamon, or chocolate flavors

Moovitz caffeinated candies in chocolate or coffee milk flavors

Monday, May 21, 2007

Race report: 2007 Columbia Triathlon

We had a very fun pre-race dinner at Tomato Palace in Columbia! Adjacent to the host hotel, handled a big group quite well, broadcast the Preakness on a big screen right above our table, great folks and great food!

Sandy, Chuck, Jim, and Michele before dinner. . . .

Dave, the lean mean cycling machine:

Holly and me trying to snap a self-portrait of us:

Host extraordinaire Bill "Jellyfish" Wheeler and his handsome son at dinner:

We probably had 20 people altogether!

A rainbow appeared over the lake outside, which I thought was a good omen. Hah!

My race:

Swim: Went fantastic! I was comfortable the entire trip, sighted easily, swam straight, got bumped a few times but that didn't rattle me, passed caps from two waves ahead of me (and got passed in turn by numerous relayers starting behind me). I was delighted with my time coming out of the water! My pace (2:04/100 yards) was slightly faster than my average swim pace these days in the pool, so that's my first race day swim where the wetsuit advantage didn't get canceled out by swimming off course!! Can't really expect better than that. Yay!

The rest: It went downhill from there. Probably the less said about it the better! My lack of hill training was painfully obvious on the bike course, my legs got toasted, and I had a low-energy bonk on the run. No power coming from the engine room, and then I started getting a bad attitude, which just makes it snowball. I ended up walking a lot of the run. Oh well, some races are like that!!

It was definitely more a physical bonk than a mental one, though, because on the 90-minute drive home I got so sleepy that I had to stop to pick up some Mountain Dew to recharge! That did the trick, fortunately, and even though I was exhausted I made it home safely!

I had great fun seeing everyone and putting together names and faces! At the end of the day yesterday I was thinking I'd never ride that freakin' course again, and today I'm thinking I have a score that I have to settle! We'll see. On to the next race, Eagleman half Ironman in 3 weeks, which is blessedly flat as a pancake!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Columbia is in the books!

Preliminary results have been posted.

I had a great swim, not a great bike, sluggish transitions, and bonked on the run. I finished, though! Saw lots of wonderful folks and had fun. Now tired.

NANCY TOBY 50 <--- note new age group!
SWIM 1500m: 34:07 (2:04/100 yards) PR!
BIKE 41 km: 1:50:28 (13.8 mph)
RUN 10 km: 1:23:49 (13:30 min/mile)
FINISH: 3:57:47
3rd place out of 3 Athenas over 40

2006 official times:
SWIM 1500m: 37:23
BIKE 41 km: 1:44:28 (14.6 mph)
RUN 10 km: 1:14:11 (37:33,36:38 splits)
FINISH 3:44:23
PR and personal course record!337th/389 women (86%)
4th/4 Athenas over 40

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

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Getting ready

OK, ran my last two miles until race day. I got a new pair of Asics, same model as I always wear, and put a new set of Lacelocks on them and I had to try them out with my old orthotics and make sure everything was copacetic. Check, check, check.

Also gave Buttercup a good cleanup so she'll be ready for race day too. I haven't really had any problems with her lately, so I'm not getting a tuneup done before the race. Everything looks fine with her except possibly I bent the elbow pad a little when I laid her down like a dumbass the other day because I failed to unclip. I never noticed it while riding, though, so no big deal.

I got snarked at on one of my email lists today. Someone said to me, "Are you considered a triathlete if you only race and never train?" What say you, dear readers?

In fairness, it was a rejoinder to a tongue-in-cheek post I had made earlier in the week wondering aloud if someone was a triathlete if they just happen to do three different activities in their spare time. I said you can be a runner if you never race, certainly. But I have my doubts about triathletes who never race. Seems to me the aspect of putting it all together on one day with a clock running is part of the essence of the challenge.

Then again, it would be fine with me if everyone just got allowed 15 minutes per transition. What's all the rush about?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Our new local YMCA

We (me and my girls) just went over for the open house at the new local branch of the county YMCA. I believe they said it was actually opening next week. Hooray! It's a small storefront place, without much room, but they've packed a lot in there.

I was happy to see a bike rack out front in front of the windows (so I can ride my old clunker bike the ~1 mile over there).

Best of all from my perspective was quite a large child care area - glassed off for sound-proofing. Yay! Seen but not heard - perfect! Catherine and Elisabeth went straight to work trying to break all the new toys in there.

They have a decent freeweights area, an array of weight machines, 4 treadmills, 4 reclined exercycles, and 8 elliptical trainers. I think that should be plenty of space to get a free spot for a workout in this small town.

Best of all, it's 3 doors down from the new Chinese restaurant.

I doubt I will use it much in the summer, but I'm looking forward to having it as a nearby workout alternative in the winter. I may just get back to doing some actual weight-training again!

Catherine kept asking where the pool was, but alas, after Labor Day (when our two local outdoor pools close) we'll still have to drive a dozen miles back to Easton for that. I had to leave when Catherine started getting into the bagels and cream cheese, and wiping the cream cheese from her hands on their brand-new couch. Sigh.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Wear your bike helmet

If this story doesn't convince you, of a truck RUNNING OVER A CYCLIST'S FREAKIN' HEAD, nothing will.

Puny year to date

I'm not training terribly intensely this year. I don't have the fear of Ironman hanging over my head this year. It's a lot more relaxed.

I was just curious to compare how much training I had done by this date last year with this year, a week before Columbia Triathlon:

Swim, 2006 YTD: 70,490 yards
Swim, 2007 YTD: 34,000 yards

Bike, 2006 YTD: 914 miles
Bike, 2007 YTD: 415 miles

Run/walk, 2006 YTD: 289 miles
Run, 2007 YTD: 218 miles

Yes, the 2007 totals seem pretty puny in comparison! Part of it's a much colder, longer winter this year; part if it is not having my husband able to care for the girls on weekday mornings, part of it is just plain lower volume and less week-to-week consistency. Let's hope it's higher-quality training this year. Uh, yeah, sure, that's it. Well, it's true of my running this year, but I have my doubts about cycling and swimming! But the proof is in the pudding, and we'll see how things shake out next Sunday on a race course on which I have two previous times to compare.

Let Oscar run!

Oscar Pistorius is a South African double-leg amputee and world record holder (100m, 200m, and 400m sprints) who is competing today at the Visa Paralympic World Cup in Manchester, UK. The thing is, he wants to compete in the Beijing Olympics. But the International Amateur Athletics Association won't let him. Bah!

Run, Oscar, run!

Just think, it would be like not letting Sarah Reinertsen turn pro and compete if she got fast enough to be competitive at the Ironman World Championships in Kona.

He won his 100m in 11.64. (Current world record in open competition is 9.79).
He won his 200m in 23.17. (Current world record in open competition is 19.32).
Can't find the 400m results yet. . . .

Update 2: Here's a more detailed article on Oscar from the NY Times. "A cold, rainy afternoon [at the Paralympic World Cup] tempered his performances, but his victories came decisively and kept him aimed toward his goal of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, even though international track officials seek to block his entrance. Since March, Pistorius has delivered startling record performances for disabled athletes at 100 meters (10.91 seconds), 200 meters (21.58 seconds) and 400 meters (46.34 seconds). Those times do not meet Olympic qualifying standards for men, but the Beijing Games are still 15 months away. Already, Pistorius is fast enough that his marks would have won gold medals in equivalent women’s races at the 2004 Athens Olympics."

Run, Oscar, run!

Last swim wave

Bah! Once again, at Columbia Triathlon this year the Athenas (that would be me) are the last wave of swimmers before the relay competitors. I start at 8:15AM. This means a) I have one hour fifteen minutes between when I have to be finished setting up and they close the transition area until I start; b) it's hotter on the course; c) it's lonelier back with the stragglers on course; d) I'll finish just as they're starting the awards ceremony.

The good news is that it gives me plenty of time for a nice leisurely warmup swim, if I slide down the muddy bank off to the side and sneak in the water. Hopefully I'll be able to warm up with Holly and work off a few nerves before the starting gun! I practiced with my wetsuit top in the pool last Friday and had my fastest-ever 500-yard swim in 10:26. Woo, if (big if!) I could swim that pace in the race it would give me a 34:14 for 1500 meters. That's blazing fast for this landlubber! (Last year's swim was 37:23 - I'll be very happy with anything faster than that, although I'm not planning on pushing the pace until I get on the bike).

My back is still a bit sore and creaky so I decided to skip my long bike ride today. I'll do a shorter ride mid-week and then clean up the bike and taper hard for race day on Sunday.

Many congratulations to Linae who ROCKED the Gulf Coast half-Ironman-distance Triathlon yesterday! Why they can't post results online within 12-18 hours of the finish in a chip-timed race I'll never understand, though. She is well on her way to IRON this fall at Ironman Florida!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

No pain!

I can run without my back hurting! Hurrah! 3.5 slow ones around the neighborhood in some of the warmest weather we've had yet this year.

My knees, however, were another story.

I experienced a curious phenomenon.

Did you know that pain can jump from one knee to the other, directly? Like you can be running along on level pavement and one knee is hurting a LOT, and then all of a sudden, *POOF*, it's fine, and the OTHER knee starts hurting just as bad?

It can happen.

Now normally one would think it would need to be transmitted through the body, like being referred through your crotch, or something.

But no, it can jump from one knee to the other directly. Through the air. Immediately. With no temporal delay.

Now I'm not quite sure of the mechanism for this, probably something electromagnetic, but it is a True and Valid Phenomenon, because I experienced it. And that's all the evidence that is necessary to prove something exists, right?

Yum yum!

Hooray! I'm happy!

Now I truly adore the small town that we live in - an old shipbuilding town on a Chesapeake Bay tributary that is now full of great shops and restaurants and even a winery. But the one thing it always lacked was any kind of non-American cuisine. Well, except for one little French bistro, but that doesn't count as very "ethnic" with me.

Yay! A little shop advertising "Chinese Food" is opening in the strip mall along the highway about a mile from my house, right next to the local branch of our YMCA that is opening there this summer.

Woot! I can go over and lift weights and pick up some lo mein and General Tso chicken on the way home! Gawd, I sure hope they can actually COOK.

And then there's a new Italian ice place a couple blocks away in the other direction, too!

Simple pleasures. . . .

The official calendar

This is what this month looks like on the Official Toby Family Calendar, after Catherine got ahold of it with a Sharpie and added her entries.

All I know is that it's looking pretty scary towards the end of this month.

Ten days until Columbia Triathlon

It's coming up fast! My third attempt to survive the Columbia Triathlon Olympic-distance course. It's going to be hilly and it's going to be tough. Am I ready? Let's do an inventory:

1. My back is still cranky and painful and hurts when I roll over in bed. No telling how it's going to act on those dreaded hills. I have a hunch it's not going to be happy.
2. I haven't had an open water swim since Ironman Florida last November. I've swum once per week, if that, this year.
3. My longest bike rides this year have been under 36 miles. Slowly. The last of those being last February. 99.99% on completely flat ground.
4. My running has been going well, but I have to complete Leg One and Leg Two in order to get to start the run. Hopefully without becoming exhausted!

So we have Situation Normal - I'm woefully unprepared. It wouldn't be a triathlon if I didn't show up undertrained, right!??

Bring it on! If I improve my time on the course, that's all to the good. If I'm slower, well, that just gives me a benchmark to improve on in the two other Olympic-distance triathlons that I have scheduled later this year (at Annapolis and Walt Disney World).

I just won't be placing any bets on my performance, that's all. I might end up like these guys.

This coming weekend my training buddies are preparing for their Ironman Coeur d'Alene by heading up to Lake Placid to ride and run some hills, so I'm left to my own devices. Wish I could go too, but instead it's going to be my last long solo training sessions before race day. I'll run today a few miles to see how the back feels (keep your fingers crossed!), swim tomorrow, then do a longer ride and a longer run over the weekend. And then start getting Buttercup cleaned up for her first event of the year!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

There ought to be a law

. . . that it's prohibited to throw out your back unless you're doing something really at your limits. Something exhausting. Something difficult. Something that gives you a sense of accomplishment.

One should never, ever throw out one's back while asleep and wake up with the nasty surprise that it is torqued and painful after a freakin' REST DAY.


I'm just sayin'. . . .

Sunday, May 06, 2007

International No Diet Day

Today is International No Diet Day!
More info here on one of my favorite blogs in the universe.

Wind training

To start with, I wimped out this morning. I did NOT join my training buddy in open water swimming practice. Mainly because it was 50*F outside and blowing steadily over 25 mph and gusting higher. I did, however, put on my wetsuit bottoms just to stay warm while I spotted from shore! Nope, swimming in whitecaps makes me too nervous. Frigid whitecaps? Forget it! David bravely did about 20 minutes and said he swallowed a lot of water, but said the water temperature was bearable after a while out there.

Then we went out on the bikes, and it was going wonderfully - for the first half of the ride, that is, when we had a fantastic tailwind pushing us along.

Then we had one of the toughest slogs back against a headwind that I've yet experienced. My hands were cramping from gripping the aerobars so tightly to keep the bike under control! Buttercup is a little squirrely under the best of conditions, and she loathes wind like the Devil. She tried to scamper out from underneath me several times. We did a lot of granny gear. I kept thinking that it was just hill training for me on the flat.

: I found out later that it was sufficiently windy today to cancel the Chesapeake Bay Bridge 10K and Bay Bridge Walk today. So it's not just me being a whiner.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

One brick to the good

We had a strong Cambridge Multi-Sport contingent out for the 10K in Cambridge today for the H.O.P.E. 10K for Mental Health, and perfect weather for it, ~2 mph wind, 67*F. I kept thinking I'd love to see Eagleman weather like that, with the Choptank River like a mirror, but alas, it's still over a month away.

Great to see everyone and link up a few more names with faces! It was a nice friendly event and a FAST AND FLAT running course out on country backroads, all except for maybe that last ~0.3 miles looping around the building when I was dying for the finish line!

Thanks to Bill for his sponsorship of this event. Thanks to Chuck for leading 4 of us on a nice little 20-mile bike loop before the race, despite his P.I.T.A. (pulled muscle).

I'm hopeful that I can run as well off the bike at the Columbia Olympic-distance triathlon in 2 weeks! I ran 1:02:20 today, which I think is pretty good for me after a 20-mile bike. (OK, it's a darned good time for me - I was planning to run it easy and started out that way, and still came in within 2 minutes of my PR in my 2nd-fastest 10K to date.) I'm doing the math now, hoping I can do the brutal Columbia 10K run leg within 6-7 minutes of that, under 1:09. I did it in 1:14:11 last year (darned hills!). Then to take off 15 minutes total off my time from last year I need to find another couple minutes on the swim and somehow speed up about 8 minutes on the bike. Maybe find another minute in T1 if I'm super-lucky.

If all that falls into place perfectly I can (maybe) demolish that 3:30 barrier by a few seconds! We'll see. . . .

Thursday, May 03, 2007

An easy run

This was today's easy run around the neighborhood. You can see where I picked up the pace a bit just to keep my 5K time under a 12 minute per mile pace (37:01), and then slacked off again.

I just want to get this chart into the record books (aka this blog) so that I can remember what an easy pace heart rate looks like for me. Because this (140-150 bpm heart rate) is at least what I need to be doing for my LSD runs later this summer when I'm training for Marine Corps Marathon.

NOT slower.

Although when it's 200 degrees outside and 200% humidity, my heart rate may say otherwise.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

It seemed simple enough starting out

All I wanted to do was ride 20 miles and maintain a cadence around 90 rpm. A nice little ride, right? Is that too much to ask?

Apparently it was. The wind was blowing and gusting up to 20 knots and things got a little ugly there for a while. Then I remembered this was Madame Pele's way of making me strong for whatever Eagleman is going to throw at me in June. Thank you, Madame Pele.

I'd still like to see a little more of that blue line up above the 20 mph level. OK, a lot more. I want to be fast like Linae one day.

I can account for that one big dip in speed and heart rate after the turnaround in the middle of the ride. That was when I was riding slow enough to snarf down my entire little bag of Nemo gummy fish. Yum, yum! Replenishing critical carbohydrate reserves is important!