Sunday, June 29, 2008

Junk food

Here is the definitive essay on junk food. "Empty calories" are also discussed. Enjoy.

They don't discuss any kind of caveman diet or "clean eating", but I think I know where that fits in too.

Thanks to Junkfoodscience for the link!

Five weeks to Steelhead

Whoops, I have a half Ironman in five weeks! Time to get busy! I didn't get in the full 56 miles that I planned to today, but a 44-mile solo ride around the Bay Hundred peninsula still made a pretty good workout. SportTracks says it's good enough for 3196 calories and that's good enough for me!

Took a couple of photos with my new Blackberry camera/phone/email thingie that my husband got me for my birthday, just for practice (sample below). I'm loving my new Crackberry! Nothing like checking your email on rest stops, and it's fantastic to be able to do all that with something small enough to carry in my jersey rear pocket! I'm looking forward to having it while we travel! I'm still finding out all the zillions of features it holds. Hey, I can even pull up weather radar maps in real time if the skies look threatening - that should be very very helpful!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Philly photos

Me and Jeanne:

The museum under construction next to the Expo:

The lovely swim course (we swam under the bridge):

2008 Philadelphia Triathlon race report

I'm still waiting for the race photos to be posted. Until then, I'll just report on my pre-race goals:
  • Top ten age group: NOPE, finished 27th/34. Entries in my age group more than doubled from last year!
  • Sub-3:31:54 finish time (PR): NOPE, finished in 3:37:46, although it was still encouraging since 13:19 of that was devoted to flat-changing. I'm hoping to be ready to go sub-3:20 at my next Olympic-distance (The Nation's Triathlon on September 14).
  • Sub-7:30 total transition time: YES! Officially 4:12 + 2:23 = 6:35. Unofficially (from when I exited the water) 5:10 + 2:23 = 7:33. Close enough.
  • Sub-33:00 swim: NOPE. 36:34 (watch time 35:13), although it felt faster than that. Too much time wasted wandering around trying to sight and getting caught in traffic.
  • Sub-1:10 run: YES! I mentally stayed in the race, walked only at the water stops, and finished the (fortunately flat) run with a blazing (for me) time of 1:09:34.

So, a mixed bag of results, but it's all good! I enjoyed the race, particularly the lovely river swim and the challenging bike course that kept me on my toes every second: working on the flats, climbing and cussing, avoiding crazy riders, swooping around turns, and screaming down the descents just as fast as I dared. Then doing it again for a second loop! Fun! Plus I briefly got to see Brian and Bob and DC Rainmaker and Jeanne!

Update: I should make a special mention that a member of the management team for the race emailed me afterwards and asked me if I had any reactions or comments, so I sent along a few recommendations for improvements for next year. That's the sign of a management team that's on its toes and doesn't rest on its laurels! Bravo! The Philadelphia Insurance Triathlon race is highly recommended and I think it will get better every year.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Back from Philly!

Great Olympic course in central Philadelphia! Very fun bike course with lots of climbs and turns and fun downhills. Except I flatted about 10 miles into the bike which cost me about 15 minutes and a PR. Oh well, so it goes! All of a sudden there are 34 women in my age group! Good grief, there were only 16 in my AG at this event last year!

I'm happy that I mentally stayed in the race and didn't just phone it in after the flat. I worked hard and improved my transitions (gotta go back and check my records on that - about a minute of that swim time is really T1) and the 10K was just 4 1/2 minutes over my standalone 10K last weekend - I worked for that sub-1:10 run, it was starting to get hot!

Class Rank Class First Name Last Name Sex City State Zip Swim Swim Rank Trans1 Bike Bike Rank MPH Trans2 Run Run Rank Pace SexRank Final Overall
27/34 F50-54 NANCY TOBY F ARLINGTON VA 22204 00:36:34 1578 00:04:12 01:45:11 1758 14.1 00:02:23 01:09:34 1602 00:11:13 502 03:37:56 1696/1892

Detailed report later some time. . . .`

Watch timing notes:
Swim time: 35:13
T1 time: 5:10
Flat changing time: 13:19+

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Off to Philly

I'm doing the Philadelphia Olympic Triathlon tomorrow. Looking forward to it! It's time to declare my intentions. I have a collection of goals that I'd like to hit on this race:
  • Top ten age group (again, totally out of my control, but it's a good encouragement to go hard all the way to the finish line)
  • Sub-3:31:54 finish time (PR)
  • Sub-7:30 total transition time (this is one area I need to focus on - like Rainmaker - no clue what my PR would be, though)
  • Sub-33:00 swim (PR - although it's point-to-point downstream so wouldn't really count for a PR)
  • Sub-1:10 run (how about actually RUNNING IT for a change, okay?)

Weather forecast looks amazingly good - 71*F at 9AM. Let's HIT IT!

And (slightly in advance) many congratulations to my friend Shawn the new triathlete! Welcome to the Dark Side!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My blood rocks!

I have been procrastinating about 5 years (since my girls were born) on going back to a doctor - so just two weeks ago I finally got a fasting blood sample taken again and got the results today. They ROCK!!!
  • Cholesterol 179 (less than 200 "desirable")
  • Triglycerides 79 ("normal" less than 150)
  • HDL 68 (above 60 "some protection against heart disease")
  • LDL 95 (less than 100 "optimal")

Hooray!!! The nurse even asked me if I was on medication for it. (I know it's not superior genetics, trust me on this).

I must be doing something right for an overweight almost-51-year-old!! (I did have some above-200 cholesterol readings and high LDL levels about 10-15 years ago when I was in a sedentary high-stress job and didn't work out much).

Must be all those good red steaks I grill, lots of olive oil on the salad and plenty of butter on the baked potatoes, nicely balanced with a fine Cabernet. . . . (and also, if I have any secrets of success besides exercise, it's no yo-yo dieting, no crash dieting, and no weird dietary restrictions other than avoid hydrogenated fats in favor of natural fats like olive oil and butter).

Most importantly: Don't worry. Be happy. :-)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mile repeats again

Back to the track. A 9:28 mile (#2) was the best that I could do today. It will take me a while yet to get back to the place I was in February before I was sick when I did three 9:02 miles in a row (on a hilly course, too)! I'm also 3-4 pounds heavier now - time to reverse that situation!

I've got a one mile race in our Championship Series in 2 1/2 weeks and I'd like to bring that speed up a bit by then, certainly.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ant houses

The girls were on the deck today building houses for the ants. I remember doing that when I was little! However, ants these days apparently have far grander expectations about the quality of their residences than they did in my day. Today's ants have huge twin swimming pools (one with a floating snack bar) and stonework fortifications:

Day two (and counting) of day camp at the Y and so far Catherine has lost one pair of socks and one set of swim goggles. But she's having a ball swimming in the big pool twice a day, figuring out which parts of her packed lunch and snack to eat and which to bring back home in her backpack smashed next to her wet swimsuit, and I'm sure she rocks at Duck-Duck-Goose.

Elisabeth (who wasn't ready for full-day camp yet this summer) is enjoying shopping at Target with mom and picking out coloring books and getting walks and going to her speech therapy and misses Catherine terribly.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers Day 10K

Today I had a 10K on the schedule to complete in order to maintain my standings in the Annapolis Striders Championship Series. My legs weren't outright sore, fortunately, but they didn't have much zip today, which is not a big surprise. About 1:05:20 on a warm very humid morning was as fast as they wanted to go today. Average heart rate was 172, which tells me I could have picked it up maybe one notch or two, but the necessary "oomph" just wasn't there.

It was hot enough running that I saw one old guy cut the course right in front of me, which I found rather shocking! I don't know if he got a finish time, and I didn't get his number, so it's just as well.

Good to see the familiar friends at this race again, of course: Dave, Janice (3rd place AG), Mike, Jeanne, all the usual crowd was there! Fun times!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My first ITT

That's Individual Time Trial in cycling.

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone!

I had an unexpectedly strong ride - 19.5 mph average over 24.5 miles (approx. ~1:16:27 time on course)!! Woot!!! That's 2.0 mph faster than any triathlon I've done. It should be towards the last 1/3 of the times in my class, but I'm still super-pleased with it for my first time out. I'm pretty sure I could do better in the shorter time trials, also, because part of what slowed me down was saddle discomfort and having to stretch now and then. It did help that it was held on part of the Eagleman course that I'm quite familiar with.

I really enjoyed it, too! I was able to focus and really turn my legs up to the "dark toast" setting without having to be concerned if I would be able to run, or even walk, afterwards!!

Differences from triathlon:
  • There are a whole array of rider classes, quite mysterious to the uninitiated. I rode in "Women's Category 4" which means rank beginner female of any age. "Unlicensed riders need to purchase a one-day license (available at event for $10). One-day licensees can enter only the Men’s cat 5 and Women’s cat 4 races." So even though I'm AARP-eligible I couldn't ride in an age group class in my first event.

  • Checking in just means signing a waiver and picking up your chip and number on the day of the race. People above cat 4 women or cat 5 men had to present their official cycling license card, too. We were given water bottles.

  • Jerseys with sleeves are required, no sleeveless.

  • Everyone put their number on sideways on the back right side of the torso so it can be read from the right roadside.

  • You put the chip on your bike front fork with a computer tie, not on you.

  • You start under a little tent on the roadside, and just past it are wires duct-taped to the roadway for the timing chips - you just ride down the road real hard until you go over the second set of wires. Starts were every 30 seconds. I had an assigned time that they emailed to me about 2 days in advance. It would have been helpful if they had a big "official time" clock running for everyone to see, but they didn't at this event. They just gathered the riders in my class and had us line up our bikes in start order, then sent us off one by one. (I got passed en route by ~6 women behind me, but re-passed one).

  • Aerobottles are apparently legal (I asked three officials) but I was the only one I saw who had one. It helped. :-) I drank from the aerobottle and used the bottle in the cage to douse myself with water just before the halfway point.

  • They gave me the option of starting clipped-in and holding my bike, or clipping in myself. I chose the latter, since I hadn't practiced it and was afraid of wobbling and crashing. I wobbled anyway, but didn't crash.

  • Lots of people wear shoe covers, skinsuits, and aero helmets. The array of bikes was pretty similar to what you'd see at any triathlon.

  • There were no aid stations nor water bottle pickups.

  • Nobody uses seatpacks full of tools or bento boxes. I left mine in my minivan and felt like I was riding naked.

  • Nobody says encouraging things when they pass you. Nobody said a thing unless I did first.

  • There's very little hanging around and socializing, unless you have clubmates at the event to do it with. (But it's possible that was because the start was 5 miles from the parking area). I didn't see any families on roadsides like you always see at triathlons. Maybe at the awards, which I didn't stay for.
I'm psyched!! Every triathlete should do a cycling time trial at least once, I think - just to find out how much you're holding yourself back during triathlons!

Update: Here's my Garmin track on the clockwise loop course:

My heart rate (red) and speed (blue line). I'm pleased with my overall effort - my heart rate didn't get below 155 and my speed didn't go below 17.0 mph anywhere on the course.

Interested in finding cycling time trials in your area of the US?


You can ride nearly any bike that's not a recumbent, as far as I can tell. If you've ridden it in a triathlon, it's probably fine.

Update: They didn't post the results for months afterwards, at least not that I could find, but they're up now!

My official time for 40 km was 1:16:40.60 (19.44 mph).
15th/21 in women's category 4 in my first cycling time trial (71%), 37/46 overall women (80%).

That time would have put me 2nd/3 in women's age 50+. Maybe I'll have to actually join USA Cycling and compete in age groups in 2009!

Friday, June 13, 2008

New sport

I'm starting in my first official cycling individual time trial tomorrow morning. 40 km (24.85 miles).

I'm nervous!

Any last-minute advice for me??

I know I need to wear a jersey with sleeves.

Anything else I'm forgetting? I'm worried I'm going to unknowingly violate some arcane rule. Plus it will be my first standing start.

This is the same course on which I'll be riding the Maryland State Senior Individual Time Trials later this summer, to hopefully qualify for the 2009 National Senior Games, so this is really just my first practice ride to preview the course.

I'll get a good warmup and cooldown, since the start is 5 miles from the parking area. My only other plan is to go hard to the turnaround, then go harder.

Goals? I'd just like to get the experience, not screw up too much, not crash, and maybe if I'm lucky break 18 mph.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Stir crazy

I needed to run today or I was going to have to duct-tape my girls to the wall, after being indoors with them all day yesterday. Went to the Y and checked them into kiddie jail there and did 3.5 miles on the treadmill in the relatively cool fitness center. Things are better now, even though it was already 105*F heat index at noon. Whew, close call. Might be able to survive the rest of the day.

Looking forward to swimming under this bridge in Philadelphia in 12 days - should be fun! I'll be testing my lack of running with a 10K race this weekend, first. That should tell the tale of how much my running fitness I have left.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Eagleman 2008

Swim: Uneventful (1 min slower than last year - 49:37).
T1: Uneventful (8:03).
Bike: Side stitch. Barf. Barf. Stomach ache. (PR bike leg finish 1.5 minutes faster than last year despite stops to barf). 3:23:22.
T2: Slow. (6:30). Went through transition just to see if I'd change my mind about stopping. Didn't change my mind.
Turned in chip. (Heat index currently 103).

And it was all going so well until the puking started!
Bike leg, first 35 miles: Average heart rate 149, 17.5 mph.

Bike leg, last 18 miles: Average heart rate 149, 15.0 mph.

Perhaps I should note that my decision to bag the run was shared by 6/21 women in my age group today! That's 28%. We may be old, but we're no dummies! I was 13th/21 after the swim (woot, solid mid-pack!) but 18th/21 after a slow T1 and relatively slow vomitfest bike leg (16.6 mph). Most of the top ten women in my age group were averaging 18+ mph on this bike course. I would have had to finish under 6:46 total time to make the top ten today. Nope, not going to happen in this weather! Not with this body! (Athena results don't seem to be posted yet, either, but they started considerably later under even worse conditions).

I'm a little suspicious about the length of the swim course, too. There was some difficulty in setting up a new course. Last year the top times in my division were 31 to 32 minutes (while top pro men swam 21-22 minutes); this year in flat calm conditions the top times in my division were 37 to 38 minutes (while top pro men swam 23-25 minutes - although that difference may be due to no wetsuits for pros this year). That's slower in much calmer conditions. Hmmmm. I thought I had a reasonably good swim, I was a bit surprised by the longer time on course! Now it becomes clear!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Eagleman eve dinner

Greg (flashing the cash), Fran, and me:

The lovely Kona Shelley:

On to a steamy day tomorrow! Bring it on!

Here's the link for Eagleman results - hopefully live if the cables don't melt:

Friday, June 06, 2008

This is not funny, kids

The good news is that my armrest pads arrived today. My elbows will be smiling on the Eagleman bike leg on Sunday. However, it's likely that everything else will be rather uncomfortable.

Here's a sample of the 37 forecasts that I've checked for Sunday:

Sunday, Jun 8
High: 93 °F RealFeel®: 101 °F
Hot and humid with sunshine; extreme heat can be dangerous for outdoor activities

The hour-by-hour forecast says the heat index will be 101*F at 11:00 am, about the time I hope to begin the run leg. Plus full sun, 8 mph winds, no shade, plenty of windbreaks to stop even that much wind, and broiling hot asphalt to run on.

Oh wonderful.

So everyone will be racing in the same conditions. Let's make the best of it!! If it were easy, everyone would do it, right? This will be a heat management test. Let's work towards earning an "A".

As much as I'd like to break 7 hours in a half Ironman, I'm tossing that goal totally out the window for Sunday. Nope, not pushing it to meet a time goal if it's deadly hot outside. Not happening. I'm not being that foolish. If it happens, great, but not my goal this time around. I'll do my best to race carefully, strong, and sensibly.

Sadly, I'll be leaving my new aero helmet at home for what should have been its inaugural race. I'm going to be dumping water on my head at every water stop and the aero helmet isn't vented as well. I don't want cooked scrambled brains by the end of the day. And I haven't had a chance to put on or test my aero wheel cover so that's staying at home too. Maybe next race.

I'll go for this tiered set of goals:

1. Top ten in my age group (although I have absolutely no control over who else shows up and who else completes the race, this will be a good incentive for me to keep going to the finish line - you can't win if you don't finish).
2. Run instead of walk the majority of the run leg (which for me means a time something under 3:00 - a 14 min/mile pace).
3. Finish upright and ambulatory and maybe even smiling after about ten minutes recovery
4. Stay out of the ambulance and don't race like a d!psh!t
and oh yeah. . . .
5. Have the most fun of anybody on the course

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Oh great.

Sunday, Jun 8
High: 93 °F RealFeel®: 99 °F
Very hot and humid with sunshine mixing with some clouds

I wonder how long it takes me to walk a half marathon these days? I'm thinking 3:30 to 3:45.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Graduation Day for preK

"Mommy, what's graduation?"
"Graduation is when you celebrate all the hard work you've done and. . . ."
"Mommy! Mommy!"
"Pirates don't live in houses, do they. Pirates live in ships."
"Uhhh, that's right."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Why didn't I do this sooner?

My armrest pads on my aerobars have gotten one heck of a lot of use since I bought my bike Buttercup three years ago. Over time they have gotten squished down to the point my arms are practically resting on bare metal, which as you might expect is quite uncomfortable and cuts off circulation.

It just occurred to me to replace them! I looked up the model of aerobars and gosh, new pads only cost $15 on Bingo!
I sure hope that they arrive in the 3-5 days that they were promised!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Heart rate and heat

This is a nice 4-mile jog around the neighborhood on a 78*F day. The blue part is pace, the red line is heart rate. Notice how the heart rate keeps climbing steadily up and up and up, moving up from 150s to nearly 170?

That's really BAD news on a hot day. Because on very hot humid days, my body starts accumulating heat and even at a nice steady modest jogging pace, the heart rate continues to climb up beyond what I can maintain. So I bonk and have to walk.

These are my past times to beat on Sunday - race day - at Eagleman. If I improve or hit close on all of them I have a chance of finally going sub-7 hours.

Swim (2007) 48:50
Bike (2007) 3:24:55
Run (2006) 2:42:02

However, the Race Gods may have other plans. Intellicast is calling for a high of 87 degrees and partly cloudy, the same as does Which, combined with ultra-high humidity (surrounded by open water on three sides and an ocean not too far away in the fourth direction), baking sun, radiant asphalt, and no shade -- spells a melt-down for many people (such as myself) on the run course.

Accuweather, however, is calling for 84 degrees and mostly cloudy. I sure hope they're right. *fingers crossed*

In any event, you can be sure I'll be keeping a close eye on my heart rate meter any time I race in hot, humid, tough conditions. I have no intention to push myself into heat stroke if I can help it - not even for a sub-7. I'm doing this for fun and health, and have no desire to wind up in an ambulance (the antithesis of health!).

Update: Uh oh, now the forecasts are a couple of degrees higher. MUST. STOP. LOOKING.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Eagleman final preparations

Eagleman half ironman is one week from today. It will be the fourth time I tackle that course.

I had optimistically planned a tough two weeks of training immediately after Columbia two weeks ago. When I made that ambitious plan I had forgotten about all the end-of-school activities, field trips, art show, twin birthday, doctor visits, etc., that would interfere. That's life!!

So here's what I actually got done:

Swimming: 5000 yards planned, 2600 yards done
Cycling: 175 miles planned, 120 miles done
Running: 34 miles planned, 24 miles done

I still have 6 days to get in some easy taper workouts - which will probably bring up the running total 10 more miles to the goal, but I'll probably only get perhaps another 800-1500 yards of swimming and 10-25 miles of cycling done this coming week. That will have to do!

I am very encouraged by today's ride: 56.3 miles at a reasonably comfortable pace (heart rate average about 5-10 bpm below my planned racing heart rate) on a hot, humid morning that ended up equaling last year's Eagleman pace (16.4 mph). I'll be pleased if I can replicate that on race day - but especially pleased if I can follow it up with an actual half marathon run instead of a nine mile run and a four mile bonk. If I can skip the bonk part, I should be able to (finally) break 7 hours - but that's still a big IF since I've lost so much training time this spring.

I still need to give Buttercup a good pre-race cleaning and swap out her climbing cassette for the flatlands cassette. I'd like to try the new wheel cover but I may not have time to put it on and test it before race day, and I don't want to race on it without fully testing it first. But the extra bit of gearing will help - if I have a lovely tailwind on race day next Sunday I want to make full use of it!