Monday, March 31, 2008

Bridge to bridge half marathon, no frills version

Inviting YOU to a low-cost, zero-frills, zero-support event in mid-April for those of you living locally who need to get in some longer runs. We'll measure out a course pretty close to 13.1 miles, but the only guarantee is that it will be FLAT and fast!!

April 19, 2008: Bridge to Bridge Half Marathon: Tilghman Island to St. Michaels, Maryland. Unofficial, self-organized and self-supported. Carry a water bottle (we'll leave some water jugs near the halfway point). ID and phone and brightly-colored running clothes would be a good idea too. Run at your own risk. Meet at Perry Cabin Park, Rt. 33, west side of St. Michaels at 6AM to carpool to Tilghman Elementary School for 7AM start.

The public parking lot where we'll gather to carpool to the start is right across the street (Rt 33) from this place, if you want to locate it on a map or want some five-star pre-race accommodations or meals:

I made my choice

When the girls are in school I have about two hours to run around and get my errands done. Today I had a choice: A) Go to a doc-in-the-box and get some antibiotics for this persistent bronchitis, or B) do the grocery shopping and get my hair done.

Eating and beauty won over lung health today.

I hope this decision doesn't hurt me in the three events I have scheduled next weekend!

But then again, RED is fast.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

2008 National Half Marathon

Finished the National Half Marathon in Washington, DC today for the 2nd year. And I brought home a new shiny medal!

Had a great carpooling companion in my training buddy Dave who ran the full marathon. Our friend Janice got 3rd woman 50-54 in the half. It's a well-run race. I'll probably do it again. Cherry blossoms were at their loveliest peak bloom. And hurrah! I got to see my great faves Jeanne (who kicked my butt) and Holly (thanks so much for coming out)!!!

Those are the best parts.

Bad parts included, but are not limited to:
* 3:15 AM wakeup
* Starting the day on very sore legs from way too much weightlifting a couple days ago
* Coughing for two weeks with what I thought was allergies but what I now think is bronchitis (I suppose you're going to tell me that I'm not *supposed* to cough up blood after a race, aren't you?)
* My generalized bad attitude (see 1, 2, and 3 above)
* Slowest finish time in the last ~2 years (2:40). (Then again, my Garmin measured 13.94 miles instead of something closer to 13.1 - but it may have done screwy things in all those underpasses when it lost the satellite signal. I wasn't looking at it very much today.).

That is all.

Oh, not all, really: Here is a screen grab of the official half marathon course elevation chart, and the version from my Garmin which included 4 or 5 underpasses which don't show up on an automatically-generated chart:

The course map, starting and ending at RFK Stadium in the southeast corner:

New bike in the stable

Elisabeth is going to be riding the same bike Lance rode, almost, on her new Trek. This is the model that I picked up at the school silent auction last night, except hers is sky blue instead of pink.

MSRP is $139 and I bid it up to $100, so I'm pleased with a little bargain! Although it's probably last year's model, Elisabeth won't care.

Catherine is already jealous of the white basket and streamers. So am I.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Declaring my intentions

I'm doing the National Half Marathon tomorrow.

My legs are still sore as hell, though a dozen easy-peasy miles out on the bike today did help work out some of the pain.

Plus I've been coughing like crazy for over two weeks due to spring allergies to all the trees and daffodils in bloom. My voice is hoarse and croaky and that Phlegm Monster has set up residence in my lungs.

And oh yeah, I forgot, I had to be at a school fundraising function tonight until about 9:30 PM and I have to be up at 3:15 AM for the race. But I was able to get in the silent auction there the cutest bike for Elisabeth and a painted footstool the girls made in their class, and I'm delighted with those! (I also got outbid on some deluxe local restaurant meals and Disney admission tickets, but there's always next year).

I think this half marathon is going to be, for a change, a no-time-goals, fun run day. It should be a beautiful day for racing-while-sightseeing -- sunny and everything in bloom. I know I'll probably warm up out of the stiffness and do some running in the middle of the race, and maybe even surprise myself -- but if I feel like I do now tomorrow, I'll be lucky to finish!!

Tomorrow's goal is simply to get the 13.1 miles done on foot and bring home the medal. I'll set ambitious time goals another day. Some races are just like that.

Ride like you're invisible

This test has been making the rounds, and I saw it a couple weeks ago. It makes the point!

The point was also made once again to me today as I was riding through town along a side street with parked cars on both sides. A single oncoming car zoomed right through the middle of the street, aimed straight toward me, cutting my path off completely and forcing me to make an emergency stop. Luckily I clipped out at the last second and my new Look cleats have a nonskid surface and I didn't have a fall! Still, emergency stops are always better than getting hit by a car at 40 mph closing velocity. But the driver never made so much as a single sideways glance at me, despite my vivid yellow bike and garish black and yellow jersey. Blind indeed.

(No, I didn't test out my swim workout yet - we had an unforecast beautiful weather day that I had to take advantage of out on the bike!)

Enough is enough

Warning: cranky rant below. Skip if you're easily offended.

No endorsements here. Vote or don't vote. Being asked to vote one time wasn't so bad, it's the 38th request that gets old. I'm getting heartily sick and tired of campaign spam and emails (to me directly and posted by non-participating lurkers on several of my triathlon email lists) from people I've never met and don't know anything about, thank you very much. No, I don't want to take the time to watch your video. I wish everyone luck in their efforts, but. . . .

If you're going to put so much time and effort into obtaining schwag, I wish you'd take it offline and put those efforts into getting local support for your own local triathlon community right at home instead of simply generating publicity for yourself and others. Or in setting up a secure voting site that won't be subject to rampant voter fraud. Or work to earn the money to buy the equipment you want yourself instead of trying to get something for nearly nothing. I know that most of you in the running can afford it.

How about just working a water stop at a local triathlon without a lot of fanfare? Or showing up unannounced to cheer on your fellow triathletes at an event? Or become a certified official or coach? Or pursue an advanced degree and conduct health and performance research yourself? Or help out with the local high school track team every week, without fail, so that they see they have someone that they can depend on?

Schwag hos and attention hos. I don't like either one.

And btw, triathlon doesn't need a shiny new program (conveniently with YOU as the centerpiece and spokesperson, just coincidentally) to evangelize about fitness lifestyles. Triathlon is doing just fine without it. There are plenty of extremely worthy existing programs on the local and national level to which you could donate your energy and talents. Let's hear about what you've already accomplished that's worked successfully for others, not about what you're supposedly going to do - to draw attention to yourself.

Should I change my blog title to Tri-Curmudgeon?

(If you don't know what I'm talking about, just ignore this. I'm not posting links which will only give them more publicity).

And no, this was not directed at any one person. Despite what you may think, it's not all about you.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I got your swim coach right here - very cool site I just learned of today that will generate customized swim workouts for you. Looks great, I'm planning on doing one of their workouts tomorrow. It's free to users, for now, although I'm not quite sure how the site is supported other than a few ads.

Yeah, I'll swim tomorrow if I can manage to stumble to the car on these WAY sore legs. 3*15 squats and 3*15 deadlifts (along with everything else) might possibly have been a little too much on the first day back hitting the weights. Ya think!?!?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


My personal trainer workout for the Biggest Loser thing was this morning at our little local town branch YMCA. The trainer did a great job and gave me a great workout which hit a lot of muscles that haven't been used in about 47 years.

I'm going to be sore tomorrow. And the next day.

And the day after that I have to run the National Half Marathon (uh, yes, I dropped down from the full marathon that I originally entered, why do you ask?). But I'll draft off Jeanne, so it will be easier than the last time.


The biggest hit of the day was the child watch playroom at the Y. My girls LOVED it there and played nicely and even helped clean up toys and didn't want to leave. Go figure. I guess that eliminates one of my last excuses for not getting back to doing some weight training and core work, which I have been successfully avoiding for years and years.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

No more monkeys jumping on the bed

Elisabeth gave herself a gash above one eyebrow last night from crashing into the headboard face first when the girls were supposed to be going to sleep.

It's only about 3/4 of an inch long, but it started bleeding again this morning when I checked it, so we had to cancel her speech appointment and make one at the pediatrician to have it checked and dressed properly.

It's always something.

We had hoped Elisabeth might learn a lesson from this experience, but alas - after seeing the pediatrician we ended up going to the emergency room at the local hospital - where Elisabeth tried to jump up and down on the gurney in the emergency examination room. Sigh. It was a few hours too late for stitches by then so they super-glued her forehead cut together and she will be sporting a bandage for a few days. She'll have a small scar, but nothing that her curly hair can't hide if she wants.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Biggest loser week 2 done

Had to do my #2 Biggest Loser weigh-in today after a week of terrible allergy problems and eating crap during our little vacation (and before, too, naturally, just to get ready for vacation).

I forget, honestly - I think the scale said down about 6-7 pounds from the initial weigh-in today. My scale at home said almost exactly the same weight both days.

Go figure. I'll be found out when they do my measurements and body fat again.

WEEK TWO CHALLENGE: It was to do 140 or 280 minutes walking and/or running, depending on your own evaluation of your background level. I finished 354 minutes in the week but only ~15 miles (172 minutes?) of that was running. I should get the full score for that challenge. Haven't been told yet what this week's challenge will be.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Chincoteague weekend

Here's the RV which we rented for the long weekend, and floor plan below. I liked it a lot - fortunately (or unfortunately) we can now rent them less than a mile from home and for cheaper than we could ever buy one for ourselves, so we probably will be using this one for many future road trips.

It took us down to Chincoteague Island to the ponies and salt marshes. A lovely area, even though the weather was too chilly and windy to stay outdoors too long!

The campground playground, with its old dangerous merry-go-round, was a big hit.

I was able to get in one 5K run, though my allergies have been making me cough hard for four days to the point that my chest hurt while I was running. That makes running not so fun and so I kept it short.

We had one trip to the beach but it was blowing HARD and very cold, so we didn't stay long. Catherine just RAN back to the RV.

Elisabeth liked it better and cried when we left, though I'm not sure whether that was regret that we were leaving or being chilled to the bone.

The Easter bunny was able to find us and leave some nice eggs and chocolate bunnies for the last time that they will be 4 years old. So that was breakfast today.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Paying the price

Two large handfuls of SweetTart jelly beans yesterday resulted in me running home in the middle of my run today to take care of some exceptionally nasty business.

Learn from my mistakes.

(I'm throwing the rest of those evil things out NOW).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I am not either a wuss

I rarely run in rain because I generally dislike it.

But today, this was on the radar at the time I had to run, but I had to get my run done, and that was the only time I could, so I sliced right through that enormous Gordian knot of excuses that I can generate at a moment's notice and out the door I went.

It was freaking pouring. I was soaked through by the first turn out the driveway. But actually it didn't feel so bad, since it was a balmy 60*F outside. The only major annoyance was that my too-large Coolmax shirt got flappy and floppy and my visor started getting heavy and sinking down my face when it got loaded up with water. A couple stops to tighten it and I was all set.

191 minutes of walking and running done in 3 days out of my "Biggest Loser Challenge" requirement of 280 minutes for the week. Yeah, I think I can handle another 89 minutes in 4 days. If I get ambitious I may subtract the walking part out and just finish it all running. We'll see. I'm just not positive exactly how I'll get it done yet because we're going for a little RV vacation this coming weekend. We're test-renting a big RV from a new place in town for a couple nights and taking it down to Chincoteague for the long spring break weekend. The weather for the weekend looks MUCH more promising for some running than today's did, however!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Sorry commenters

I had to turn on word verification again. I started getting a couple spam comments daily. How rude.

Monday, March 17, 2008

When I grow up....

Catherine has decided exactly what she wants to be when she grows up. She's absolutely positive.

She wants to be a mermaid.

She wants it in the worst way. When she saw a contrail lit by the setting sun the other day she thought it was a shooting star and made a fervent wish on it. "I wish, I wish, with all my heart, to be a mermaid."

We've told her that it will involve being cold and living in the ocean all the time and eating fish. We've told her that Ariel didn't want to be a mermaid, she wanted to be human. She will not be dissuaded. She practices every time she's in the bathtub or in the swimming pool.

A mermaid she will be.

And probably they won't even let her compete in the 2020 Olympics because she will have an unfair advantage with that tail.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Catherine's first race

One mile in 20:22 for a distance and time PR, including jogging, running, skipping, walking, walking backwards, and a short rest stop sitting on the curb. We weren't last. Most importantly, we had great fun!

It was the First Annual St. Patrick's Day 5K & One Mile Walk, by Caroline Human Service Council, Inc., in Denton, Maryland. Lots of great schwag too, including ringpops and fistfuls of chocolate coins!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Arlington National Cemetery

It was beautiful weather yesterday for my father's memorial service. The caisson horses and caparisoned horse were actually for a burial service for a commissioned officer, but they passed right by our car as we were leaving so I caught a few shots.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Last dance

Today was the last of the ballet lessons at the Y. They gave a little performance for the parents. It was incredibly cute and of course I videotaped it. (If I get around to making a little clip of it I'll post it here for your enjoyment).

However, it also resembled herding cats in many ways.

I told the instructor that we would be back when they were a little older and could follow directions better.

I think the instructor was just fine with that.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Biggest loser assignments

Our first week's assignment is simply to log all our food intake for a week, plus water intake and exercise time. Got it. I log my food about half the time, don't pay attention to fluids too much unless I'm thirsty or I'm purposely counteracting dehydration (no, I don't believe in that old saw about 8 glasses of water), and I log all my workouts.

Part of our introductory packet is a little worksheet on which we're supposed to work through all our excuses for not losing weight. The examples they use like "I get bored easily" are mostly easily answered with "Just Friggin' Train", of course.

I think I'll submit my worksheet with some sage advice in mind:

"Your barriers: Too much child-minding time eats into training time".

"Your solution: Sell children to circus."

(Maybe I'm just a subversive, but I tend to resent the implication that any person who is a little overweight must be full of flimsy excuses or borderline mentally ill.)

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm in!

I did the Biggest Loser initial weigh-in today at our local Y.

Now I generally know within 0.5 pounds what I weigh at any given moment, carefully calibrated with repeated measures on multiple devices with ample time-series data.

This particular scale weighed me 5 to 8 pounds high. Like a weight I haven't weighed on any scale in the last couple of years.

Which would be an advantage in this contest, because it will show a dramatic weight loss if they get a subsequent proper weight for me.

I suspect the operator (the Y employee) didn't zero it properly.

This is somewhat of an ethical dilemma. What would you do?

I think for now I'll just play along quietly and keep track of my weight and measurements at home like I always do, and weigh in on their same scale each week, and let them keep their own measurements and weight data. We have a meeting on Wednesday night and I'll inquire about it then.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Biggest loser starts tomorrow

Our initial weigh-in is tomorrow to launch our 12-week program at the local YMCA. I think my weigh-in is going to be on the high side. Oh well, it's to my advantage in the competition. Plus we will get our initial measurements taken.

Our first Challenge is to log all our food intake. Hey, I can do that! I do it about half the time now on the software, so all I have to do is get back to doing it and be consistent about it. I'll set it up again with a new starting point and goals for the twelve-week duration. A pound per week is fine with me - I don't think a loss of more than that is healthy for most folks.

Quarter mile repeats

I was all set to get on the bike today, but the wind gusts and chilly temperatures dissuaded me. Bike training will have to wait. I headed to the track to work on my speed (so to speak) instead. So I did quarter-mile repeats inside of a jogged 5K (total time 32:44):
  • 2:15
  • 2:16
  • 2:18
  • 2:23

Have to get those down more toward two minutes flat to get the kind of 5K time that I want to hit this year. Actually, that I want to hit in three weeks at the Eastern Shore Senior Games, but if I do the 40 km bike race in the morning I'm not too confident of my running speed in the afternoon. I'll just have to run as best I can.

Our Biggest Loser YMCA program initial weigh-in is tomorrow, too, so I haven't been limiting my intake very much this weekend. How is this for backwards self-defeating thinking: It's to my advantage in the Biggest Loser competition to be heavier going in. Of course, it's NOT to my overall advantage, but anyway. . . .

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I need a new running vest

Preferably one that doesn't look like a large navy blue sack of potatoes. (This is from the half marathon last weekend. Yeah, all those people in the background are way way ahead of me, having already completed the turnaround which is about a mile down the road from here).

Actually it's a super-comfortable microfiber cycling vest that comes down low enough in back to keep my big butt warm.

But I always hate my race photos when I wear it, especially cinched in around the floppy vest with a race belt riding up around my ribcage. Very flattering.

Come to think of it, the hair is going to have to go shorter this summer, too. Way too bushy.

OK, some time I'm going to have to get over this tendency to micro-analyze race photos. Just not yet.

One less big worry

Catherine has an inguinal hernia, diagnosed by mom. It only took two different pediatricians, a botched time-waster ultrasound, and a visit to the surgeon to finally get positive confirmation of my diagnosis.

Fortunately the visit to the surgeon today was very reassuring. It's fairly unlikely to cause a problem, and even though it won't correct itself, we can take our time and have it corrected when she's a bit bigger and it's a convenient time for us. The surgery itself is reasonably minor and recovery should only take a few days. I'd just as soon wait until she's a little bit bigger than 33 pounds dripping wet, thanks.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It's muddy all right

Holly is making me sign up for the Richmond, Virginia Muddy Buddy with her. Indeed, she's twisting my arm by lining up a mountain bike for us!

It's going to be FUN! Plus since I'll be 51 by race day in July, we can enter the OLDEST age group, even though Holly is a very young age grouper.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I got the flag!

In the continuing saga of our encounter with Arlington National Cemetery:

I downloaded the form online for an interment flag and walked into our teensy small town local post office and gave it to the lady at the counter, and sure enough, she handed me a box with a 5-foot by 9-foot American flag inside, labeled for internment. The lady said they normally just deal with funeral directors for the flags.

I had never heard of it before. Our tax dollars are indeed at work.

The inurnment in the Columbarium is one week from Thursday. I sure hope we have nice weather for it. Unfortunately the cherry blossoms don't start blooming until at least two weeks later.

Here are some photos of the Columbarium in springtime.

Update: When I was looking for an image for this post, I stumbled across this very lovely photo essay on the Arlington National Cemetery service of Lieutenant George Stalk, U.S. Army Air Force. Well worth the click.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Consistent splits

Just pulled my splits (taken blindly by pushing the button while the face was taped over) from my half marathon today. This is just where the splits fell - without looking at the watch at all, and trying to keep it subjectively EASY for the first five miles, MODERATE for the second 5 miles, and HARD for the last 5K:

1 10:24
2 10:18
3 10:46
4 10:51
5 10:58
6 10:51
7 11:31 (hilly turnaround)
8 11:37 (hilly turnaround)
9 11:04
10 11:02
11 11:19
12 11:17
13 11:38
0.1 1:07

Average: 11:02 min/mile

Two somewhat faster first miles, one slow final tired mile, two slow miles at the very hilly turnaround with two passes past the water stop, and eight other miles all within 33 seconds of each other. Of course, that's all along the very flat, straight rail-trail, so it shouldn't be so surprising they're fairly consistent.

2008 B&A Trail Half Marathon

It's race morning again, and back to this familiar old half marathon!

Here's my accountability in my pre-race list of tiered goals:
1. Secret pie-in-the-sky dream goal: Beat 2:15 (well, not secret now)
2. Beat my half marathon PR from last year: 2:19:28 (set on a perfect course with perfect weather)
3. Beat last year's course PR: 2:26:38 (set with the aid of two pacers extraordinaire, dave and Chuck)

What will be different today? I'm going to do an experiment. This is scary for a data-geek like me. I'm going to COVER MY WATCH and JFR (just friggin' run). And just see what happens. I tend to think that knowing my split times during the race helps me pace; but there's also the possibility that seeing fast early splits tends to freak me out and make me think I'm going out too fast. This will be the test. If I meet Goal #2 or better I'll do it again - if not, I'll have a happy, tearful reunion with my Garmin for the next race.

You know, I tend to be suspicious of people who announce after the race, "It was my goal to XXX". To put it charitably, I think their memory of their goals tends to be clouded by what happened later during the race.

These are my goals, with some built-in flexibility, written on race morning. I'm not adding a fall-back goal which allows me to give up on course such as "finish upright and smiling", although I always hope to do at least that. Let's go get 'er done and RACE this thing.

I'm back!

It went fine time-wise: 2:24:38 at the finish line chip time for the half marathon, so it's my 2nd fastest half marathon. So I made my goal #3 (above) by two minutes (and did not enjoy the company of pacers this time around like I had last year).

I covered my watch with duct tape and didn't cheat and look at it one single time. But I DID NOT LIKE not knowing my time or my pace, not one single little teensy bit. I had NO FREAKIN' IDEA what my pace was for the entire race. The clock at the finish line could have read 2:14 or 2:34 and neither one would have surprised me at all. I didn't like running hard for OVER TWO HOURS and never knowing during that time if it was going to pay off in a decent (for me) time or not. It was NO FUN.

I say thumbs down to gadgetless running. My Garmin pace and heart rate readout are helpful to me, especially so I know when I'm darned uncomfortable while running it's for a good reason. Maybe for a 5K that's over relatively quickly I'd go gadgetless, but I wouldn't do it for longer races again.

I'll write a longer report when I'm not tired! Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Biggest loser?

Despite my intense dislike of any rigid diet, I just signed up for a "Biggest Loser" program at our local YMCA. It will be worth it to get a little more accountability and motivation in being disciplined about my food intake and training routine. It starts on March 10 for 12 weeks, perfectly timed for the 12 weeks leading up to Eagleman.

It includes:
  • Two personal training sessions
  • Nutritional consultation
  • Measurements 3 times
  • Weekly weigh-ins
  • 6 challenges (!??!??)
  • Prizes to top 3 losers and top team

I'm in! I doubt that I actually want to be the Biggest Loser - I don't want to take off any more than a pound per week, and I expect it will be won by some ginormous guy who loses 40 pounds in 12 weeks just by cutting out desserts.

Weight loss = free speed for me!