Saturday, May 31, 2008

A very Ariel birthday

Tomorrow is really the day my girls turn five years old, but we celebrated early so we could have a leisurely Saturday afternoon family party. The theme was The Little Mermaid, Catherine's current obsession, and we played the Broadway soundtrack for the first time so we can start learning all the new songs before we go see it with Grandpa in August!

Catherine has also been talking about a chocolate cake with pink icing for weeks, so we set out to make one this afternoon.

Here was the result! Not bad for a nearly five-year-old "helping", I think. Each girl got five candles.

Catherine loved her new stick horse that she's been asking for. I think she named it Prince. Or Princess. I guess she's not quite clear on its gender.

Grandma also sent kids' paddles for the kayaks, which we had been looking for for a long time. Perfect!!

Elisabeth got a new Princess backpack that she absolutely loved and started wearing around the house. Catherine got an Ariel backpack that she loved too, but was not quite as obsessed with it.

A very happy day! My little girls are growing up so fast!

They're still teensy tiny girls, though! We did weights and measures today:

Catherine: 35 pounds (16th percentile), 40 inches tall (8th percentile).
Elisabeth: 32 pounds (4th percentile), 38 inches tall (3rd percentile).

Yes, they're small but mighty! Healthy and lively and growing and catching up fast all the time!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Salisbury Zoo field trip

Here was our wandering path around the little Salisbury Zoo today, which you may recall us visiting last summer:

That was after the long bus trip to the zoo, during which (it was said) that Elisabeth pulled the emergency exit latch, causing the bus driver to have to stop to correct it. Although it was rumored that Catherine actually did it and blamed it on Elisabeth. Otherwise I understand the trip was uneventful. But Elisabeth was very, very disappointed to learn she was returning in Mom's car.

Anyway. . . . much later: This would have been great if it were a real fawn, but it was bronze:

After strolling around the zoo and eating lunch, the two kindergarten classes and the morning and afternoon pre-K classes took over the entire large playground like a horde of miniature pirates.

Catherine got a flamingo-shaped pen in the gift shop, which naturally broke in the car on the way home. Elisabeth selected a little plastic bobcat and kissed it several times. There was a cage of two very cute bobcats but those photos were blurry.

Fun times! We'll be back next year after we've graduated to kindergarten!

On the way back I dropped off my landscape entry in the Eagleman Art Show at the Dorchester Arts Center. I wasn't able to get the cycling painting done on time, but maybe next year. Starting in September I'm looking forward to SEVEN uninterrupted kidfree hours on most weekdays in which to get my workouts done and work on my paintings (and probably overseeing some house renovations or an addition as well).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day weekend trip to Tangier Island

Haven't had a chance to blog about our trip to beautiful Tangier Island over the weekend.
Here's our little town from the air:

On Tangier Island, in full Memorial Day splendor:

Here's one takeoff and two landings if you'd like to watch them from the jiggly small plane perspective:

Of course the girls adored the local cats.

Elisabeth loved the little gray cat that followed us for a while. She wanted to feed it but wasn't real clear on exactly what little gray cats like to eat. Her first try was attempting to feed it gravel, with predictable (to us) results.

Then she started tearing up leaves and offering them to the kitty. . . . which ended up being (wait for it. . . .). . . .

Poison ivy.

Fortunately some alacrity, baby wipes, and hand-washing seems to have prevented a nasty rash on everyone's hands and arms.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Testing the new aero helmet

Yesterday on a calm day on a flat road I rode about 37 miles with the regular helmet (first chart), and today I rode 26 miles in high winds (18-20 mph) in the aero helmet on part of the same course. Both days I tried to keep the heart rate between 145 and 150. It's not an exact repeat of the ride, so it's not a great comparison, but FWIW:

Without aero helmet:
Average heart rate 144
Average speed: 16.1 mph
Maximum speed: 20.6 mph

With aero helmet:
Average heart rate 143
Average speed: 16.6 mph
Maximum speed: 21.9 mph

I'd call the aero helmet a success! Faster at a similar heart rate in tougher conditions works for me! If I see that kind of improvement on the 56-mile bike course at Eagleman in 2 weeks it will cut my time something like 6 to 8 minutes.

It was quite comfortable, too. It seemed to work especially well going into the wind where I felt I was able to maintain my speed better. I was also more conscious of my position and maintained it more steadily. I just have to get over feeling like a total dork poser when I'm wearing it.

I was just glad I didn't try putting on my new wheel cover yet, because I would have been blown all over the road.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Catherine adores Ariel

"Catherine, wouldn't you like to go see the Lion King?" (which conveniently happens to be playing nearby at Kennedy Center this summer).

"No, that's too roar-y."

"But Ariel could never be too mermaid-y, right?"


So it seems that later this summer Catherine may have a big wish come true that she didn't even know she could wish for: to see the Real True Ariel on Broadway. 200 miles away. And tickets run - sheesh! $85 - $120. (Fortunately Grandpa, who grew up in New York City and enjoys the theater, has offered to get the tickets).

She'll probably have to wear her Ariel t-shirt and take her Ariel backpack. We'll leave the Ariel pillow and Ariel Barbie at home. And no, I most definitely will not let her dye her hair red, although she has already asked. That's why she refuses to get it cut, so it will be "long like Ariel's".

Unfortunately I had to cancel my registration for Iron Girl triathlon in August for this, since that's probably the weekend we're going to New York City, and I needed to cancel by June 1st to get a partial refund. Hmm, that was my only sprint distance of the year - I might have to find another later in October.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Field Day

Today the school had a field day which meant going to a nearby park and playing lots of fun games. Fortunately my husband and I were both able to attend and enjoy the fun!

Here's a fun sack race (exposure keeps varying, but hang in there) that only lasts 47 seconds. Catherine and Elisabeth end up being the very last on the field.

Here's a rousing round of Rabbits and Hounds. You'll see that Elisabeth was a bad rabbit who just ran around in the center which was designated The Swamp. Catherine runs past just at the end with her friend Cindy. (24 seconds).

The girls also rode the school bus there for the very first time, which was quite a big day for Elisabeth! Parents weren't allowed on the bus so we walked back from the park to the school to pick them up. Unfortunately while riding the bus Catherine's sharp eyes spotted Mommy and Daddy stopping in the town ice cream shop!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Spring Concert

Tonight was the elementary school spring concert in the school gymnasium. It had a patriotic theme. Of course I videotaped. The 2nd-graders, the 1st-graders, the kindergarteners, and then Catherine and Elisabeth's pre-K class marched in the gym singing "You're a Grand Old Flag" by George M. Cohan. Except I'm not sure they did much singing, since they were a bit paralyzed by the large mass of spectator parents in the room.

Then we all stood and they sang the Star Spangled Banner and they all THRUST their little flags in the air at the part about "our flag was still there".

Then they sang This is My Flag by Dan Fee, and then Lady Liberty by Gail Keene while an older girl wearing a tinfoil crown and carrying a tinfoil torch and wearing a black garbage bag walked back and forth. Then the PreK and K marched off the risers and were seated at the side of the room to listen to the rest of the 1st-grade and 2nd-graders in concert (American, Yankee Doodle Boy, and I Love My Country - for which they signed half the song in ASL very nicely).

Then there was an intermission before the 3rd through 6th-graders performed. We went home. We'll have to save that for another day. Next year we'll be in the new auditorium. I can hardly wait.

Columbia 2008 photos

One decent wetsuit photo. Is that too much to ask? Apparently:

Uh, no, not the skinny old lady. I'm the not-skinny one in back.

But I do like the bike photos, because I was having FUN!

Track work

OK, today I went over to the track to try to regain some of my long-lost speed as part of my 2-week Solo Training Camp.

One of the best things I like about doing intervals with my Garmin is making nice little plots of the row of even peaks in intensity (heart rate and pace) from the intervals.

This was not one of those days.

You can't tell from the plot, but this workout consisted of:
4 laps (1 mile) warmup jog
4 laps of (100m fast, 100m slow, 100m fast, 100 m slow)
4 laps (1 mile) warmdown jog

Those paces were all over the place, weren't they?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Solo training camp

After coming off a very unexpectedly positive experience at Columbia, I'm looking at trying to get in some very quick preparations for Eagleman half Ironman in 3 weeks. It's going to be tricky to balance the training I want to do before then and still get in a good taper to start the race day strong and well-rested. I also want to get in several Long Slow Distance workouts to try to burn off some of the calories that have accumulated on my hips in the last six weeks of measly workouts!

These are my tentative targets for the next 2 weeks of workouts:
175 miles cycling (including 2 sessions of high-intensity intervals in the next 10 days)
34 miles running (including 2 track workouts of high-intensity intervals in the next 10 days)
5000 yards swimming

Let's see how far I can make it towards that. Keep your fingers crossed that I won't have to back off the training to keep my lungs from relapsing into Gunk City. So far I've just managed two slow recovery jogs for a total of 8.0 miles of slow running.

Unfortunately this will probably mean that I'll have to skip the very fun annual Cambridge Multi-Sport practice triathlon, in favor of getting my road mileage done. I'll be sorry to miss it.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Columbia 2008: Always a surprise

My fourth journey through the Columbia Triathlon course - I went in (after 6 weeks of pneumonia and coughing) expecting it to be a horrible day and end with an ignominous DNF, and instead I had a fantastic fun time!

I may not go into a lot of detail here about the race - if you're a prospective entrant for another year looking for information, you may want to look at my three previous years' reports.

It started in the usual way with the 90-minute drive to Columbia, checking in at the Expo, and racking the newly lean and mean (note no behind-the-seat bottle rack), with compact cranks and red accents for speed, Buttercup:

The terrain of the transition area is as challenging as the rest of the course, with steep entrances and exits. My rack this year was right by the swim entrance near those white tents, which meant a long slow run out with the bike up the hill in the background. This is only a fraction of the ~2200 bikes that would be there on race day.

Then dinner was a lovely gathering at the Tomato Palace again with my training buddies Jim and Dave and many of the crowd from Mid-Maryland Triathlon. Great folks!

On race day I kept telling everyone I was likely to pull out after the swim or bike and just go hang around the finish line and see my buddies cross it. That plan was firmly in my mind.

Then I unexpectedly had a great swim (I think I'm finally learning how to draft!) and saw a 33:xx time when I came out of the water. I laughed and grinned broadly and woo-hooed to the spectators all the way up the chute from the water to the bike rack. Hey, this was FUN!! 2:02 per 100 yard pace the whole way. PR swim, where the heck did THAT come from!??

OK, do the transition in a leisurely fashion, turn on the Garmin, spray on some SPF 50 sunblock in Holly's honor, and give Buttercup a pat. "Here we go, girl!"

The satellite map makes the bike course look deceptively simple.

As the new course record-holder Chris Lieto said: "The bike course is nothing but ups and downs and rights and lefts. There was not even a stretch of road that was straight or flat. You are either climbing a hill, descending, or winding your way through a wooded countryside. Beautiful but challenging."

I watched my heart rate fairly closely on the bike course and tried to keep from spiking it into the Red Zone, and stay under 170, and was largely successful. I stayed seated and spun up every hill, which was made much easier with the new range of lower gears on my compact cranks.

I also ate 5 Clif Bloks, 2 salt caps, and one gel, which seemed about right finishing up with a good amount of energy.

You'll see my speed and heart rates are inversely correlated - work hard on the slow uphills, and recover on the screaming downhills. Other than those fast downhills, my heart rate stayed mostly above 150, so I was working relatively hard, though certainly not pushing it to my maximum. My top recorded speed was 36.8 mph, which is quite fast enough for me, thanks, I get too nervous at the squirrely tri-bike behavior at those speeds.

Strangely enough, I rolled into T2 and saw something like 1:45 on my watch, and was still feeling happy and elated! Hey, this is a fun day! I'm liking this! So I went through the transition again, took the time to reset my Garmin, and came out the other side at a jog feeling pretty good about life.

Between 1-2 miles of the run Jim and Dave passed me, in succession, and I yelled and joked with them. I told Dave, "I'm having a great day!" and he waved and shouted as he ran out of sight ahead. I kept jogging along and just walked the steep uphills (of which there are several on the course) and paid attention to try to keep my heart rate below 175 for the first 4 miles. I doused myself frequently with water to try to keep myself from gaining heat, but only had a couple small cups of Gatorade and lots of water since I had forgotten my salt caps and gels back at transition. Still, that worked fine, and I retained enough energy to pick up the pace on the downhills again approaching the finish when I felt safe to start to ignore my heart rate.

I did start coughing now and then, so there are still a few reminders that I'm not completely recovered from my lung ailments, but I could still jog relatively okay.

Came over the line in my 2nd fastest Columbia time (3:45) by only a minute - all of which I spent taking my sweet time in transition. 17/25 in my age group.

And it was sweet. One of the most unexpectedly fun days I've had doing a triathlon!

I did pay the price with some increased coughing for a day or so after the event, but now it's subsided again and I'm fully back on the road to Optimum Health. Though I am still carrying around a few pounds of reminders of not being able to do my workouts for the last six weeks, but let's not stress about it. I feel good.

Why, I think I may just do this triathlon thing again some time! Like, perhaps, in 3 weeks at Eaglemen half Ironman! See you there!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Aero toy

I heard about these from some competitive cyclist friends. I saw one at Columbia and talked to the owner. I read the favorable reviews. So I bit. I ordered one today.

What, a $1675 disk wheel? Good grief, no, that's almost what I paid for my whole bike.

No, a $60 wheel cover. Heck, that's less than I paid for my cool new competition tri-top (which was worth every cent - it performed fabulously well throughout the day yesterday even though it's a bit too tight yet).

If wheel covers help boost my speed at Eagleman in combination with my geeky aero helmet, even if the effect is only psychological, they will be worth it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Best shirt I saw today

makes baby Jesus cry

Back from Columbia

Back from Columbia! And I finished, for my 4th trip around this course!! And (despite my horrible negative expectations after being sick for ~6 weeks) I had a great deal of fun, too!

I heard Chris Lieto won and set a course record (which means Macca did not win) but that's just rumor. Weather was perfect for the earlier waves - started to sprinkle a bit when I started the run, though.

One really nice thing they did (I love all the races they manage) was print people's results after the finish line on small cards, so we had instant timing results. I'm sure I finished way at the bottom of my age group, but I'm happy with that after starting the day not really expecting to finish.
  • Swim: 33:18 (Olympic PR)
  • T1: 6:54 (took a nap and squandered every bit of the extra time I gained in the swim - even though I did have a crummy rack spot with nearly the longest bike run-out on wet slippery grass).
  • Bike: 1:46:11 (my 2nd fastest on this brutal course - watched my HR to keep it from spiking and spun slowly up all the hills seated)
  • T2: 3:06 (another siesta)
  • Run: 1:15:55 (my 2nd fastest on this course - even watching my HR and walking every time it hit 175 except the last 2 miles, but started coughing quite a bit)
  • Finish: 3:45:23 (2nd fastest on this course by about one minute)

More details may follow in a long report, some day....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Heading to Columbia

My fourth time at Columbia Olympic Triathlon already!? It's hard to believe!

Non-existent training for the last six weeks gives me low expectations for this one. If I'm not feeling well I'm going to STOP and not finish.

So that leads into my goals for the day:

1. Feel good and have fun! Enjoy the day and my healthy recovery from an extended bout of pneumonia!
2. Finish the course and collect my medal.
3. If possible, beat my time from previous years: 2007 - 3:57, or even 2006 - 3:44.

But I'll be the most surprised person out there if I pull off #3 - that's not supported by my current lack of training and fitness. I'm hoping for a little boost by starting in a much earlier wave this year - surrounded by people actually racing instead of dispirited stragglers, and cooler temperatures. That should help.

I'm just going out there and let the day unfold however it unfolds and enjoy the fact that I CAN do it. At least I can on the good days.

Friday, May 16, 2008

I need a tiara medal

Don't I?

I haven't hit the "enter" button quite yet, but it's getting close. . . . jeez, $120 for a lousy half marathon, can't believe Disney is sucking me in again.
But I'm thinking it might be too difficult to run 13.1 miles in a purple shell bra and fishtail. Maybe I should go for the Princess Fiona look instead. It suits my physique better, too.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Minor unrelated rant

Prompted by a post on a funny blog:


So why do people who work at coffee shops get glamorized by a special Italian title?

Why not walistas for people who work at Walmart?

Or "in service to His Majesty" for people who work at Burger King?


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Launching my comeback

My comeback started yesterday with an "all clear" check of my lungs at the doctor*, and then a 5K run around the neighborhood today.

14 weeks ago:
5K race (hilly) in 28:01

5K workout (flat) in 37:35
5.6 pounds heavier
No coughing while running finally for the first time in weeks and weeks (though I did have some spells last night). That's the good news.

So 14 weeks of recovery and climbing back out of the Sucking Cesspool of Bad Lungs will take me to the end of August before I'm completely right again. Hopefully.

So the Nation's Triathlon will be my Comeback Race this year. The other several triathlons and road races that I have coming up before then will be simply races to complete the distance without keeling over.

*I also got a tetanus-diptheria-pertussis vaccination, which adults can get now, so we can cross off the additional threat of whooping cough to the precarious health of my lungs. Plus a prescription for Zyrtec (which is over-the-counter now, but cheaper to me by prescription) so maybe that will improve my body's reaction to Pollen Overload Season. Which set off this whole nasty chain of events.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I pay for convenience

Yep, I bought these today.

The best fitness food! The perfect protein! Excellent pre-race meal and foremost recovery food! And . . . the ultimate in culinary laziness!

Hard-boiled eggs in a bag. Pre-boiled and peeled.

Kind of rubbery but the girls like them.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Time profiles the 10 worst and 10 best mothers.

Amazing. I don't make either list.

Reducing my expectations

One week until Columbia (Olympic) triathlon.

Four weeks until Eagleman half Ironman.

Earlier this year I was hoping to be faster in these races, for my fourth consecutive annual attempt at each course.

But my workouts (the few I've had) have been slow and my health has not been great this spring. After a month of illness and coughing and missed workouts and eating many more calories than I've been burning (with very predictable results) I'm trying to get myself into a different frame of mind.

It's okay to just get through the course, right? Or maybe drop out after the swim or the bike if I'm coughing? I really don't want to push it too hard and re-stress my lungs and have a recurrence of pneumonia.

That does NOT sound okay to me right now, but I'm trying to mentally re-frame it so it doesn't ruin my day and my week to have a slowish time on the course. After all, the older I get and the longer I keep doing triathlons, it's likely (like everyone) that I'll eventually get slower and slower.

Yes, I may indeed have a DNF, if I start coughing too much. And yes, DNF is still preferable in my mind to DNS.

But I still don't like either one.

OK, it is what it is. Mileage for the year to date: Swim 10.7 (989 yd/wk), bike 289 (15 mi/wk), run 236 (12 mi/wk). Let's hope those averages start creeping up now that the weather is warm. And let's call Columbia a long workout day instead of a race.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Girls QOTD

Catherine: "The earth is a big circle. And you can be upside-down or upside-up. And I want to go to space in Europe."

Elisabeth: "Lawnmower. Helicopter."