Friday, February 29, 2008

25 different stupid ways to diet

Here they are.

Recognize any?

Or do you just call it "eating clean"? That seems to be the new meaningless catch-phrase.

Getting my swim back

Fortunately my swim stroke doesn't seem to have deteriorated too much with dire neglect over the winter. I was able to get in 1500 yards today which felt reasonably easy, including one 500-yard set in 10:54. Woot, if I could maintain that pace on race day for three times the distance (and have a wetsuit advantage and not have to do a bejillion turns, either, assuming I could stay on course) I could swim a PR 35:45. I'd like that! So far my Olympic triathlon swim PR is 36:51.

I'm hoping that a performance improvement in my bike with new components (augmented by my spiffy new aero helmet) will offset my dire neglect of bike training over the winter, too.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Arlington Cemetery is a go

Arlington National Cemetery called and left a message this afternoon that they got the confirmation that they needed from the National Archives in St. Louis that my father (WWII First Army veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, crossing of the Rhine and Ruhr, etc.) is eligible to have his ashes placed there. It was touch-and-go for a while, since all the records we had was one old photocopy of the front of his honorable discharge, and a fire at the National Archives had destroyed a lot of Army veteran records from 1912-1959.

The message was long and and she rattled off her standard speech quickly - something about how they'll do a short military ceremony with gun firing and the flag will go on the caisson (I'm not sure how this works - over the teensy little box of ashes?), then they will do the flag-folding deal and give it to the next of kin. (I still have to actually get the flag, but supposedly they're available free for this purpose from all post offices - I have the form ready to go).

So I'll call back tomorrow and schedule it. I have no idea how long this takes to schedule.
Hmm, I wonder if it would be too tacky to videotape it. What do you think? (I'm sure I wouldn't be the first one).

The video clip is a 4-minute BBC piece on Arlington National Cemetery.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Go Speed Racer!

My new aero helmet arrived the other day. I'm going to look pretty much exactly like this guy on the left. Only holding aero bars instead of a steering wheel. And without an M since we all know what big red Ms mean, and it ain't me. Just picture a race number and a couple air vents in that location.

I took my bike into the shop today for the big overhaul it hasn't had since I bought it. (Wow, it's nearly my three year blogversary!) Hmm, let's add it up: Tune-up, new chain, new fast RED pedals, new cassette, new compact cranks. . . . this bill is going to be scary, but let's just say it's amortized over three years of ownership, several thousand miles, and hopefully many more to come.

Then since the girls behaved well in ballet class (only one more to go!) and waited more or less patiently while I was in the bike shop, they got the huge treat of going to McDonald's for dinner. Yeah, we did some nutritional damage there. I'll run tomorrow.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Back to the track

I'm still coughing a bit with my remnants of a cold, but it was time to get back to the track to tune up my "speed" (such as it is) for my half marathon in a week. Doing some hard intervals is just the thing to make a sustained half marathon pace feel a lot easier.

We took the girls over to the track and did one lap with them. Catherine can run about 3/4 of the way around, and Elisabeth ran probably half of the distance and finished her lap in 4:55. That's pretty good for those short little legs! In two weeks we're going to attempt a one-mile walk/run event at our Y, so they're in their final training for that.

Then I was on my own. So it was a set of 8 100s on the straightaway of the track with a jog around to complete each quarter mile. Yeah, there's some drift in the signal, I wasn't really running crazily through the bleachers:

The pace signal is still sampled too infrequently for this type of workout. Oh well.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Troll spray

We've been having a severe problem lately with trolls coming into the girls' bedroom at night.

Fortunately this spray kills trolls dead. So we spray it around the perimeter of the beds most nights to keep them away.

It's very, very, very important that you don't get out of bed after they have been sprayed for trolls, however, because if you get out then the trolls can get you.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What's with these old folks!?

Just found the schedule for the Virginia Senior Games in Virginia Beach, which I have to do (that or Maryland's) if I'm going to qualify for the Nationals at Stanford in 2009.

These old people get up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep, so what the heck, let's start the competition, right?

  • Thursday 20 May: 20K cycling ITT: 7:00 AM
  • Friday 21 May: 5K cycling ITT: 6:30 AM
  • Saturday: Nothing unless I want to do track and field sprint stuff and probably pull a muscle . . . or learn to play tennis by then . . . guess I'll volunteer at the track and field events.
  • Sunday: 5K race 7:00 AM
  • Sunday: 10K race 8:30 AM
Sheesh. I might as well not sleep. I guess I'll have to instigate the drunken geriatric revelries on Friday night. (Now just try to get that mental image out of your head!!!)

The other thing I have to figure out is how to take three minutes off my best 5K time in 3 months so that I can qualify in that (25:08 or better). Ouch.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Body Peace Treaty

Sign the pledge! Or re-write it for yourself!

They got a lot smarter over at Seventeen magazine since I was that age.

Not much to blog about

Haven't had many exciting updates lately. I'm still here, just not much going on.
  • Waiting for winter to end. I've seen a few snowdrops and crocuses beginning, but we have a few weeks before they really catch on.
  • Lots of driving the girls back and forth to medical appointments or classes (swimming, ballet). My life for the next ~13 years, right?
  • Not so much training (see sidebar). Weather is dreary and motivation to get out on gray drizzly days is low. Most of my workouts have been the same old thing, 3-4 mile runs around the neighborhood. No biking and little swimming to speak of.
  • Just finishing up another round of colds. *sniff*
  • Fingers and toes still crossed that we can get this "new" house a couple of miles away, but it's going to be a long slow process to make it happen if we get lucky and no one else snatches it up.
  • Still doing some body composition work in advance of the triathlon season. Slow but steady is my preferred route: down 6.4 pounds for the year (the perfect rate, just under a pound per week, one week at a time) and now at my lowest weight since the mid-1990s, with a ways still to go.

OK, that's it! You're caught up on life at Chez Toby!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The perfect house

We went to look at two houses on the market today.

One was okay, but not enough of an upgrade for us to be worth the hassle of moving.

The other, however, was wonderful. In a neighborhood I love and that I've wanted to move back to for years. It felt like home! Unfortunately, it's also priced accordingly. It has a wonderful huge back yard and huge front yard and plenty of room for everything. It's just that financing it might be a little too tricky. Cross your fingers for us!

Sick again

The little germ factories have assaulted me again. They're fine, I'm grumpy and headachy and sniffly. I still took Catherine to her swim lesson and got in a whopping 350 yards myself. Now that's some kind of swimming, eh?

But still, when you're sick, you're sick. I'll rest and get better.

Plus the anorexia part of sickness can help with the weight loss, of course. As long as I'm sick, might as well let it do some good work on my body fat.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Candy hearts

Make your own.

Happy Valentine's Day!

It was the best day ever in the preK classroom. Pink heart headdresses on the 100th day of school, cupcakes with lots of frosting, and Valentine's candy bingo.

And Catherine got to be the teacher's helper on her very favorite letter of all.

My primary colors revealed

Our state primary was on Tuesday, and I voted, but I don't think anyone I voted for won. This is probably why - I'm just slightly to the right of Gandhi:

My Political Compass
Economic Left/Right: -3.50
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.28

Here's the test:

Thanks to my Italian friend Giorgio (who protests he's not conservative) for the link!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The ballerinas

Here they are just before their second ballet class, just after we had rushed inside from cold driving rain.

I'm not sure this ballet thing will work out so well - today after the class the instructor told me very disapprovingly of some "incident" that, I think, involved Catherine dancing exuberantly in her own inimitable style on the other side of the room from the rest of the girls and probably not paying attention whatsoever to the instructor while doing so. Which does not surprise me in the least. Since parents aren't allowed to watch, I'm not sure exactly what happened.

Yes, Catherine does indeed dance to her own unique tune. It's part of what makes her so special. Don't ever lose that exuberance, girl.


No, not our house purchase price (I wish).

No, not a race distance (that's 94 miles - 70.3 races are my longest for 2008, I expect, and that's 113 km).

My number of hits on this blog! I was watching it for a while before it was going to roll over 150k, and then I forgot about it!

Many thanks to my readers for hanging with me, and a special thanks to that 150,000th visitor, whomever you were.

A new house for us?

We're going to look at nearby houses with our realtor this weekend, to see about possibly taking advantage of the current slump in house prices and financing rates.

Trouble is, we really really like our current house here! It's too small, but it's in the perfect location for us right next to the elementary, middle, and high schools. One of the options that we're also considering is building an addition on our current house. But we're very limited by our lot size (on a street corner restricted by wide setbacks on two sides). Also we have almost zero back yard - just a few feet between our house and the lot line. My girls need a place to play outside!

We've got a couple of prospects to take a look at.

One is just as close to the school, two blocks from where we are now, with a larger fenced yard and a little more room for expansion. But it's not a very big step up from our current house - a little newer, one more bathroom, but not much bigger than we have now. I'm not convinced it will be worth the moving hassle, though.

Another is a couple miles from here in a wonderful neighborhood that I used to live in. More expensive, a little more interior space, probably more than we can afford right now, but a wonderful 1-acre partially wooded lot on a quiet road which will give the girls plenty of room to play outside. The main drawback is that it was built in 1979 and I suspect not updated since then. And the girls will have to take the school bus to school (or be driven by me).

We'll see. . . .

Monday, February 11, 2008

Looking down the road

I'm still hoping to qualify for the 2009 National Senior Games (at Stanford) at one of the state senior games this year.

It probably will be beyond my reach to qualify in track and field or swimming against the specialists. Too fast for me!

2007 National Senior Games Qualifying Standards (women age 50-54):

50 yard freestyle: under 34:20
100 yard freestyle: under 1:16:20
200 yard freestyle: under 2:46:10
500 yard freestyle: under 8:01:70

1500m: under 7:00
5k: under 25:08 (3 more minutes off my 5K this year? Whew! That's a tall order!)
10k: under 55:00

It's more probable that I can qualify in cycling and triathlon, just because there are fewer competitors (and also no objective minimum performance standards, yet). Just for my future reference, here are some times from the 2007 National Senior Games medalists:

Cycling: 5K Individual Time Trials
WOMEN 50-54
1 Thompson, Patricia AL 08:04.1 (23.0 mph)
2 Wilkie, Barbara WA 08:13.0
3 Becken, Tracey VT 08:21.0

Cycling: 10K Individual Time Trials
WOMEN 50-54
1 Thompson, Patricia AL 14:52.439
2 Wilkie, Barbara WA 15:07.400
3 Andrews, Lee ON 15:09.454

Cycling: 20K Road Race
WOMEN 50-54
1 Andrews, Lee ON 42:12.633
2 Wilkie, Barbara WA 42:20.507
3 Tersegno, Linda NY 42:20.918

Cycling: 40K Road Race
WOMEN 50-54
1 Thompson, Patricia AL 1:06:04.865
2 Andrews, Lee ON 1:06:08.191
3 Tersegno, Linda NY 1:06:08.194

Road Race: 5K
WOMEN 50-54
1 Felger, Penny OH 21:33.0
2 Richards, Mary GA 22:21.0
3 Okon, Diana KY 23:23.0

Road Race: 10k
WOMEN 50-54
1 Sotire, Bonnie SC 46:58.5
2 Joefield, Susannah UT 50:31.4
3 House, Martha KY 54:58.5

Triathlon (sprint - distances in 2007 were "400M freestyle swim, 20K cycling and the 5K road race")
WOMEN 50-54
1 Green, Janet KY 1:20:37.8
2 Bailey-riffe, Melanie KY 1:25:42.3
3 Paul, Linda PA 1:28:11.0

That gives me some targets to start shooting for, at least! I need to get some marks painted on the highway near here on my usual cycling route to have some time trial courses marked off to practice on. My quads hurt just thinking about it.

Qualifying for nationals - If no cycling or triathlon competitions are held in my state, I can qualify by a) for 20K or 40K cycling road race an athlete must submit verification of having completed two cycling road races of the event length or better (in the previous year). Cyclists who complete two 40K or better events may qualify for both events; b) for triathlon an athlete must submit verification of having completed two triathlons (in the previous year).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

One tenth of a second

. . . and I would have had a 27-minute 5k time!

266 Nancy Toby 00:28:00.09 F 50

266/461 = 57%. Still in the bottom half. That just means more work to do, right?

I think I was 9th/20 (45%) in my age group, at least I'm in the top half there! (Oops, no, it was scored in 10-year age groups - make that 11/27 or 41%).

Buying a little more speed

I just ordered one of these aero helmets for my 2008 season. Maybe it will only give me a psychological boost, but every little bit helps! I can't afford the psychological boost of race wheels yet, so I'll settle for this for less than 1/10th of the price.

Besides, I can't leave Geekgirl out there feeling geeky all by herself as the only RocketAir-propelled Athena in triathlon.

Maybe I ought to think about actually riding my bike a little, too, huh? I got in a swim today - a whopping 100 yards when we took the girls to the pool to make up for the lesson Catherine missed yesterday because of my race.

I just ordered one of these toys, too. Just so I wouldn't get lost going to race starts, of course. My training buddy David used one in the car yesterday when I drove and it was impressively slick, even for someone with a pretty good sense of direction.

I should have bought Garmin stock way back when. . . .

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Valentine's Day 5K

Heading off soon for my first race of the season in our 8-race local Championship Series. Time to declare my intentions:

  • Dream goal: Under 28:26 (9:10 min/mile pace)

  • Goal #2: 5k PR under 30:00 (9:40 min/mile pace)

  • Goal #3: 5k PR (under 30:26, 9:49 min/mile pace)

I usually add a default "finish upright and smiling" goal, but in this case if I'm smiling before I reach the finish line I probably didn't run it hard enough. I'll save the smiles for after the finish line.

WOOO HOOO! I wasn't smiling immediately after the finish line (I was huffing and puffing and trying to breathe), but I certainly am now!!

Watch time: 28:02
Pace: 9:02 min/mile
5K PR reduced by 2 minutes 24 seconds

It's possible that the official time may be a second or two faster when it's posted.

It was a fairly large 5K race for this area and even though we arrived nearly an hour ahead of the start, we snagged one of the last spaces in the close-in parking area. Remember to arrive early for this club's races, they're well-run and popular!

The course was fully within a small park which was evidently once a working farm. I warmed up along the last mile of the course, which was helpful because it gave me a preview of what the finishing stretch would look like.

The course was intelligently planned, with the first mile along a 2-lane road which gave us runners a chance to spread out before we entered the paved trail which constituted the final two miles of the race.

It was moderately rolling terrain but no terrible steep hills. I started out running hard and I did everything I knew how to keep running as hard as I could the whole way.

I only looked at my watch once during the race, at the one-mile marker. It confirmed my impression of the pace: 8:55, which is a one-mile PR for me. Whew. OK, that means I have to keep running as hard as I can for 2.1 more miles.

I heard Joe Bator in my head: "Use your arms to pull yourself up the hills." I pulled.

I heard Debi Bernardes in my head: "Pick up your cadence." I picked it up.

I heard my training buddy Dave in my head: "Stop dragging your feet." I picked them up too.

I heard Bob Mina in my head: "You learned how to run in pain." I felt pain and ignored it.

I heard Kurt Egli in my head: "JFR." I just friggin' ran.

I left nothing on the course. I don't think I could have run it a single second faster today.

Interestingly, my heart rate (blue line) and pace (bottom red line) all rose and fell in lock-step with the grade (top red line). I tried to come over the top of each rise running strong, pick up the pace on the crest of the hill and then use the downhills to let gravity give me some free speed.

The result at the finish line was the fastest running I've done since my twenties (and I no longer have those finish times, so I may even be faster now). It was by far my best age-graded result (60%).

The good news is that a solid running PR sets off my 2008 with a bang!

The bad news is that my time predicts that I may be able to take off ten more minutes from my half marathon PR next month. I've still got a lot of miles of hard running yet ahead of me.

Bring it on.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Kids these days

96 years ago, these kids (8 years old and up) were gainfully employed 7 hours per weekday and 10 on Saturdays shucking oysters. No obesity epidemic then. They all look reasonably cheerful except for the future serial killer in the center back row. I wonder how much they earned in 2008 dollars?

As for my girls, they went to their first day of ballet class at the Y today. I'm not sure exactly what they did since we parents weren't allowed to watch since we would pose a distraction. They sure looked cute in their pink leotards and tights, but I didn't get any photos. I'm pretty sure it wasn't as hard as shucking oysters, though.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Now that's a good training run!

I just ran 3.13 miles around the neighborhood in 30:30 with no warmup, which gives me hope that I may have a fair chance of chipping a little time off that way old 30:26 5K PR in my race this coming Saturday. Then again, it might involve my Nemesis, hills. . . .

Sunday, February 03, 2008

To the end of the world

. . . . or at least down to the end of the peninsula on bikes today. Which I haven't done for a long while (24 days off the bike!), and my legs are reminding me of that fact.

35.3 miles at an average pace of about 16.0 miles per hour. I need to get back to doing that weekly, definitely!

Then Evil Training Buddy Dave insisted that I do a one-mile run off the bike. Ouch! That felt just as dreadful as I though it would.

But then I looked at the Garmin data: 9:16 min/mile pace!? Where the heck did that come from? It was feeling more like a 14:00 min/mile pace!

I've got a 5K to run next Saturday, as part of our local running championship series. I can't remember exactly, but I don't think I've run an official 5K race since November 2005, when I ran a 30:26 (9:49 min/mile pace). This one will be an interesting test of speed. (Oh, yeah, there was that one I ran with Lance, but I wasn't going for time. I let him beat me.)

Just now the whole Internet seems dead, I think because of some dumb old football game. *yawn* Not that I'd know anything about that.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Red is fast!

Here's the latest 'do, significantly shorter, redder, and FASTER than it was mere hours ago!

All the better to swim, bike, and run with. . . . all except for that pesky helmet hair issue.

When I grow up

My 4-year-olds are just starting to grasp a concept of "time" and how long it stretches out before us. We were discussing this last night and I told Catherine that some day a long time from now she would be a little old lady.

"Just like you," she says, matter-of-factly.

Uh, yeah, something like that. But not exactly.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Quote of the day

"A lot of Americans will see a cyclist and just believe you’re the Antichrist for no reason, and they will try to run you over or try to come so close to you that it will scare you away from riding bikes. That’s a huge problem that’s unique to this country. That would never happen anywhere else in the world. Not China, not the most brutal dictatorial regime on Earth. It would never happen to you in Italy or Denmark or Switzerland or England or France or Spain or Russia or Vietnam or India or Afghanistan. . . . This country has a long way to go in terms of tolerance for cyclists. The vitriol of motorists never ceases to amaze me." -- Bob Roll, quoted in

I get a similar reaction from walkers in our neighborhood. Most runners will muster a wave, but often the walkers will take on a scowling stone face and refuse to even look at you or grunt out a hello.

Then again, the vitriol on Slowtwitch never ceases to amaze me either....