Saturday, August 30, 2008

Back at it

Here's the enormous skipjack that is newly inlaid on the front entranceway of our remodeled elementary school. It's about 8 feet across. I think it's pretty cool! The skipjack is the state boat of Maryland and indigenous to local waters.

In workout news, I'm getting back to it slowly after 10 complete days off for this bout of bronchitis. At least it didn't turn into pneumonia like it did last spring (and did this time for my daughter Elisabeth) and cost me even more training time! On the two days that the girls had school this week I got in a couple of runs, and this morning I had a nice easy 30-mile bike ride. Haven't done much swimming to speak of either, since I've had a very cranky shoulder that I was hoping would recover with rest.

Much more to come next week! Taking it slow for now and I'll crank up the speed a bit next week, if I'm able.

PS: I hope all my peeps who are in the path of Hurricane Gustav are taking sensible precautions and evacuating! I'll be watching the news carefully - I hope it doesn't turn out nearly as bad as it looks right now!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First day of kindergarten

They're off to school!!

We managed it with no tears and only moderate apprehension about the crowd of Big Kids in the hallway in the morning. This is their first FULL day of school - 8AM to 2:30PM. Not their first day at school, though - they both had a year of preK, and Elisabeth had an additional year of public preschool. Catherine was still up a half hour early and bouncing off the walls with excitement!

Mom now has over 6 hours of training time open and available every weekday! Not that I'll use it all, but it's wonderful to have it available! And now that I'm nearly finished with this nasty bout of bronchitis, training starts again today!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Outdoor creativity

The girls decided to paint a "mural" on the outside wall of the house. Better than an inside wall....
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Kids these days

Catherine objected to something I had to say today and told me:

"Stop wagging your mandible!"

Aghast, I asked her where she had heard such a thing. Apparently it comes from the TV show "Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends" which "is meant to serve as a model for children about how to go out into the world and learn to live with others."



That's when I can start workouts again. Tuesday I finish up my course of antibiotics. After nearly two weeks completely OFF of exercise due to a nasty bout of bronchitis. Then I will have 18 days before the Nation's Triathlon in downtown Washington, DC.

I'll wait and see how the workouts go when I start back, but most likely Nation's Triathlon will be not much more than a long workout day for me at best. I certainly won't be in any shape to "race" it or try to push very hard for time.

A finish is still better than a DNS or a DNF, right?

Note to self: The next time this happens, be sure to get Azithromycin again. Great stuff, cleared it up in a 5 day course of treatment instead of 10 - with no stomach upset.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Little Mermaid

Yesterday was a day that Catherine (and I) had been looking forward to for a very long time: a trip up to New York City to see The Little Mermaid on Broadway, courtesy of a generous Grandpa.

It was Catherine's first train trip, her first taxi ride, and the first Broadway show for both of us! What a treat!

The production was really magical and with a little suspension of disbelief (and cynicism) it was delightful to experience - especially seen through the eyes of an entranced five-year-old. "Mom, she has her legs!"

She was of course on strict orders to be on her best behavior and she was very proud of herself for not singing along with the songs (even though she knows them all) and for not kicking the chair in front of her, which was very tempting.

It was really a lovely show, and entertaining enough that the audience (about 90% females and about a quarter of those were under the age of 10) gave it a standing ovation at the conclusion.

Catherine was floating and dancing the whole way home. Which was her favorite song? "The ones with Ariel."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hanging in there

I'm still sick with a chest cold, and trying to avoid having it turn into pneumonia again by doing NO exercise at all. This is my test to see if a "slack strategy" works. I'm having other bad side-effects of no exercise, though, like suddenly starting to grind my teeth in my sleep which results in sore jaws and headaches. No fun! This may be my first week this year to score big goose-eggs all across the board in the exercise table in my sidebar.

My daughter Elisabeth is also on Day 5 of a fever so she's going in to the pediatrician today. We have to all get well in time to go up to visit Grandpa this weekend. The big excitement will be going to see The Little Mermaid on Broadway with Catherine. (Elisabeth will be staying in the motel instead, since she showed when we went to see Wall-E that she doesn't have the attention span for a theater performance yet). Catherine, of course, is SUPER-excited.

We're still watching the Olympics, of course. My Gold Medalist Mom pick is Debbie Phelps, who seems to be an all-around amazing person who has probably seen it all as a middle school principal. A DNS in this category is Nastia Liukin's mom, who seems to be a basket case - so volatile that she can't even stand to watch her own daughter win the gold medal in the all-around in Olympic gymnastics. Take a chill pill, mom.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Slump City

Despite the inspiring stories I'm seeing on the Olympics every night, I've hit a slump. The kids are running fevers and coughing, and I woke up inexplicably sore all over like I was coming down with something.

I also doubt that I'm going to go to the National Senior Games next year. As you might recall, I tried to qualify in cycling time trials in Maryland but didn't make it in. I could attempt it in New Jersey or Delaware in the next couple of months, but entries are officially closed for both of those and they would require from 4 to 10 hours of driving for less than 45 minutes in the saddle. The Delaware Time Trials are on a Wednesday, too - W.T.F.? Do they think we all retire and are responsibility-free on weekdays at age 50? There's always the road races, but in order to qualify I'd have to take some huge chunks of time off my 5k/10k PRs. I've already qualified in triathlon, but I don't think I want to travel all the way to California just to do one single sprint triathlon when I probably won't be competitive in it.

On the flip side, in another 10 days or so the girls will be starting ALL DAY SCHOOL. 6.5 HOURS of FREE TIME every weekday. How delightful! I can start putting in some serious training time then, and I'm looking forward to it.

Until then, I'll be resting on the couch with NBC blaring on the TV. After all, I've always thought the Olympics wasn't about awarding the medal to that 1 exceptional individual in 6.7 billion people that makes it to the top of the podium. The Olympics are about providing some inspiration to the other 6,717,230,455 (give or take a few) of us. Bring it on!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Great photos of Olympians

Not the usual ones:

Olympic injuries

Olympians then and now - yes, Tonya Harding, her too. I didn't say photos of great Olympians.

Vacation pics

It took me a while to put up some photos from vacation because I bought a new mini-camera just before departure, but here you go finally! I know you've been waiting for them!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stuff I'm tired of rant

Yes, I'm watching as much Olympics as I can fit in. I love the Olympics.

But every Games, I get tired of hearing:

- Moaning about the commercialism of the Games. What's your alternative? They're pretty darned expensive to produce and broadcast around the world, you know. And just ask Jim Thorpe or Steve Prefontaine how well those old rules about amateurism worked for any Average Joe trying to make a living.

- Commentators bemoaning how much pressure is on the athletes and how they can't afford to make one mistake. Pressure is an inherent part of the competition and part of being a world-class athlete.

- Over-emphasis on American athletes in the coverage we receive on TV. I like to hear all the stories. (Hooray, Fabian!)

- Complaints about nationalism in the Games. I'd rather see it there than on the battlefield! From what I've seen over the years (and while attending four Olympic Games in person), most of the young people competing and their hosts are incredibly gracious good sports. Yes, there are always a few grating exceptions, usually in rabid fans.

- Stupid comparisons of various sports to American major-league sports, because that's all the commentator understands. Yesterday I heard two different comparisons of women's gymnastics to, of all things, baseball. Ugh. (Taken out of the Olympics because the dominant players wouldn't submit to routine drug-testing.)

- People comparing sports and saying this IS a sport or this ISN'T a sport or this sport is harder than this other sport, or this sport has more cheating than that sport (when usually the sport that suffers in the comparison is one they don't follow and don't understand). They're different, that's all, and if you follow any sport for a while you'll see the same intricacies and challenges are there in each sport, and human nature (for good or not) comes out in both the competitors and officials. A referee is nothing more nor less than a judge who makes qualitative judgment calls. The IOC makes difficult decisions each Games on which sports to include and which to exclude, and usually on average their rationales are pretty sound.

I'm sure I'll think of more. . . .

Oh yeah! I remembered on my bike ride!

- Mascots should have to be a local animal or at worst, a plant. Like the Waldi the dachsund from Munich, or Hodori the tiger in Seoul. Not a concept, or an ice cube or flame or something stupid like that. COME ON PEOPLE.

- The strictly indoor sports (i.e., basketball, indoor volleyball, gymnastics) need to be moved to the Winter Games to reduce the size of the Summer Games and even things out. I know the IOC considered this and rejected it, but I disagree and this is my rant. So there.

- There should be some international standards and inspections on the training of young athletes under the age of 12. Like training limited to 3 days per week and/or 14 hours per week, or something like that. I don't know the exact numbers, but making kids devote their entire life to a sport before the age of 12, while living in some remote training facility, is nothing short of child abuse.

- The American flag should never be used as a personal drape or wrapped around anyone's sweaty shoulders - I don't care how many medals you won. If you want to run with it around a stadium, use it properly displayed on a staff. If people from other countries want to do stuff with their own flag, that's their business.

- Stupid journalists saying that someone who earned an Olympic silver or bronze medal "fell short" or failed, etc., simply promote the asinine idea that second place is first loser. *shaking head*

- While I'm on my rant, any drug-testing lab that leaks "A" test results before an independent and conclusive analysis of the "B" sample, or tests any sample in a non-blind manner, should be fined the equivalent of $100,000 with the money going directly to the athlete in question, and the results should be officially declared "negative". Running lab instruments is only a small part of their job - confidentiality is one of their primary responsibilities.

- People's complaints about how they don't want to watch this sport or that sport, or claims that Sport X is pointless or boring. Part of the whole point of the Olympics is getting all the different sports disciplines together so that maybe athletes and spectators can learn about activities that they aren't otherwise exposed to. (I'm not a big fan of violent sports like boxing, but....). If you don't want to watch turn it off. Otherwise shut up and watch and you may learn something.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fun at the track

Today I went over to the track to do some speedwork, but just didn't have the requisite "oomph" to do the mile repeats which I had planned. I ran two miles and then fizzled out and turned sluglike. Could I rescue this workout from its profound oomphlessness?

Inspired by some ideas which I had read long ago from Coach Neil Cook, I decided to mix it up a bit for several walking laps.

I walked normally around the curves (so as not to tweak my touchy knees), and on the straightaways I did all sorts of 100-yard sets of stuff like:
  • Giant steps
  • Sideways steps (50 yards left. 50 yards right)
  • Grapevine (50 yards left, 50 yards right)
  • Skipping
  • Knee-high marching
  • Butt kicks
  • Wide steps
  • Backwards walking
  • etc.

It ended up being quite a good workout! I woke up several long-forgotten muscles, mostly those lateral ones that don't get a lot of attention in straight-line running and cycling. It certainly elicited some strange stares from the nearby tennis players and construction workers, but I didn't care.

My butt is already incredibly sore, and I hold Neil Cook responsible.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Steelhead photos

My photos are up! Some are fun - like me trying to look hardcore while the person behind me is pedaling along casually like it's a Sunday outing. Well, at least they're behind me!

Some are not so flattering, but at least there's a finisher medal involved.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Always 4th place

This seems to be my week to be 4th out of 4. Did it twice today in two different cycling time trials, plus last week the same at Steelhead duathlon. Oh well. Today that means I don't qualify for the Senior Nationals in time trialing, unless I can manage to pull it off in another state games (Delaware?).

I found out that they never posted official times from the last time trial because their chip system wasn't working properly - whoops!

5k time trial: Got a slow start clipping in and made a poor turnaround.

Watch time: 9:41(?)
Garmin time: 10:12(?)
Average heart rate: 170 bpm
Average bike computer speed: 18.5 mph
Maximum bike computer speed: 23.3 mph

Official 5k time: 9:41
Calculated speed: 19.26 mph

Rode another mile or two between time trials to keep the legs warm. They were 45 minutes apart.

10K time trial: Better start (clipping in) and better turnaround, but I could feel some fatigue slowing down my legs from the start.

Watch time: 19:52(?)
Garmin time: 20:27(?)
Average heart rate: 166 bpm
Average bike computer speed: 18.2 mph
Maximum bike computer speed: 21.5 mph

Official 10k time: 19:43
Calculated speed: 18.91 mph

I had hoped to go faster, but that's as fast as I could go today. That's as much "oomph" as my legs had in them. No excuses, it just shows that I have a lot of work yet to do! That gives me a benchmark for my first 5K and 10K cycling time trials and helps chart the path for improving on them the next time around.

Still, it was fun and I met some very nice local Maryland cyclists - a very congenial group of Senior Olympians!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Steelhead corrected times

I'm home! Getting ready for some time trials tomorrow, but right now I'm running some numbers. What would my time have been at Steelhead if they had held the swim? Well, WHO KNOWS? But these are my best guesses. The bike leg was about 2 miles short, and somehow I lost my Garmin data for the ride, but my finishing average was 17.1 mph which gives me 3:16:29 for 56 miles which is a PR by about 7 minutes. Woo hoo! That's a good ride for me!

So let's add it up:

Swim (est., last time at Steelhead): 50:05
T1: 4:18
Bike (est. for 56 miles instead of 54): 3:16:29 (PR!)
T2: 3:50
Run: 3:11:51

Total: 7:26:33

I'll count that as my 2008 Steelhead half Ironman time in my personal records, although the official records will show otherwise.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Steelhead half Ironman race report

Short results:
23:13 3:11:01 3:11:51 6:54:13 1846 4
RUN1 2.? mi. (23:13) 1:13/100m 1967 4
TOTAL BIKE 56 mi. (actually 54.x?) (3:11:01) 17.59 mph 1866 4
TOTAL RUN2 13.1 mi. (3:11:51) 14:38/mile 1846 4
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN 3:50

Long grueling story:
Swim involved a 1.2-mile walk through powder sand to the start. I had brought a pair of throwaway running shoes but my feet are lousy (2 surgeries, etc.) and my feet got tired from walking without my orthotics in the deep sand and abraded from sand in my shoes. Surf was big (4-5 feet and quite rough, unforecast ~25 kt winds) and hardly anyone (out of ~2700 entries waiting to start) went in to warm up. They wouldn't have been able to support it - the kayaks never went in the water. I had resolved to attempt to round the first buoy but if it was too difficult (and it looked like it definitely would be) to DNS. Too dangerous for a not-very-strong swimmer like me.

They announced the cancellation of the swim (hurrah!) and we all walked back to the start (another 1.2 miles in deep sand, after which my feet were pretty messed up) and somehow through the huge clogs of people we rearranged our transition areas and walked to the start of a ~2 mile run leg and lined up in waves, about an hour after the scheduled start.

Run1: About 2 miles up and down a hill - I took it easy for a warmup. Somehow I got a bug embedded in my eye and took most of T1 trying to get it out.

Bike: The course is rolling hills throughout but none terribly long, and I just tried to stay focused, work hard, and keep my heart rate between about 150-160. I had been in the first wave and it was a bit discouraging to be passed the whole time - the course was full the whole ride but well-supported! I tried some different nutrition (Nuun) but still got nauseous about halfway through - I think I'm going to cut out the longer stuff because it's just a big battle with my weak stomach the whole way (and that's what it was the rest of the day, trying to figure out what to do for my stomach to stave off nausea). Came back to transition in I think a PR for the distance but the course was almost 2 miles short - have to check my Garmin data when I get home.

T2 was a bit slow due to extended portapotty break.

Run: Started the run at a jog and felt okay for the first couple of miles but then my feet started getting quite painful (they're in pretty bad shape today, the day after). I ended up walking more in this half marathon than I have in years, and battling stomach issues - but (after my DNF at Eagleman) I was determined to stick it out and get the medal.

They took us back through the deep sand on the finishing straight for one final difficult patch, then finally the finish line.

Got the medal. At least I finally got a sub-7 half, which is what I wanted, but not exactly this way!!! I guess I got 4th in the over-40 Athenas, same as I did here 2 years ago, but I think it was (again) out of only 4 finishers in the category.

Hitting the road today to head for home!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Steelhead done

No swim! Too rough. Short run instead.
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Update: Sorry for the crummy photo! Shot with my Blackberry in the moving RV driving away from the race site, exhausted!

It's go time!

4:45 AM. Parked and heading to transition soon. Toooooo early! Have to walk 1.2 miles down the beach to the swim start by about 6:30.

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