Monday, September 29, 2008

Since school started

Now that my girls are in full-day school I've had more time for workouts and for catching up on a lot of things!

Here's the comparison in weekly averages:
  • Average weekly swim distance, January to August: 1050 yards
  • Average weekly swim distance, September: 1885 yards (up 79%)
  • Average weekly cycling distance, January to August: 25.3 miles
  • Average weekly cycling distance, September: 47.6 miles (up 88%)
  • Average weekly run distance, January to August: 11.0 miles
  • Average weekly run distance, September: 11.9 miles (up 8%)
Not quite where I want it to be yet, but definitely moving in the correct direction! That's 6 to 7 hours per week and I'd like to get it to average around 10 hours per week. I'll probably reduce the cycling mileage a bit in favor of more swimming distance once the weather starts turning bad in late autumn.

In the rain

This is how wet it was at Chesapeakeman!

Photo courtesy Chuck Potter! And I'm delighted that he was there and captured Dave's first iron-distance triathlon finish! Hooray!!!! Dave, you are an IRONMAN!!!

Are we having fun yet?

I guess leaving cash sitting around in my checking account doing nothing wasn't such a bad strategy (if you can call it that) after all. . . .

Beautiful day for riding

A relaxing stop at the old Claiborne, Maryland ferry terminal, looking toward the Chesapeake Bay.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Transition bags

I just remembered a recommendation for ALL events with transition bags or where you check post-race gear bags:

Be sure to bring a fat Sharpie to the race and write your number on ALL race bags, every time, in addition to any stickers they give you. Adding some brightly-colored duct tape on the outside also makes it much easier to spot your own bag. (Put Sharpies and duct tape on your triathlon packing list, too! I often use bright pink duct tape to highlight my rack spot as well.)

At Chesapeakeman in the downpour the stickers came off many of the bags. We volunteers wrote numbers on the outside of most of the bags that we could figure out (which often involved searching through the bag contents), but I'm sure there were a few bags that went missing!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Why didn't I think of this before?

I was buying some stuff tonight at (new socks, compression top for a base layer this winter, etc.) and it occurred to me to do a websearch for " discount code" and sure enough I found one for 15% off my entire purchase, which already had free shipping! Woot!

It was at

I had to type in a couple listed before I found one that worked.
But I'll try the same thing with other online stores in the future, definitely!

Congratulations Chesapeakemen!

A special congratulations to my friends who became Chesapeakemen yesterday under miserable weather conditions (patches of hard rain off and on all day long)! You finished 140.6 miles under your own power yesterday! Way to go!

Jellyfish Wheeler - 13:11
Davey Mac - 14:33

Looking forward to your detailed race reports! I want to hear everything!

(And if I know Dave, it will take him about a day or two to begin turning his thoughts to figuring out how to do it faster next time!)

Results are posted!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Chesapeakeman photos

Dave getting his bike ready:

Dave and Bill with their game faces on:

Heading out just before the start on the revised course (recognize the Eagleman swim exit?):

Seconds prior to the start of the two-loop 2.4-mile swim in Hambrooks Bay, a downpour began that fortunately stopped just before most folks came out of the water:

We volunteers tried to ensure that everyone could find their own transition bag and get changed for their bike leg smoothly:

Swimming with the jellyfish

Not me, this time around. The folks (including a couple of my training buddies) who are doing Chesapeakeman ultra-distance triathlon today.

I looked in a local tributary, Long Haul Creek, last night and I've never seen a higher population of sea nettles floating around menacingly in there. I hope the concentration in the Choptank River isn't so high after the heavy rains yesterday.

Weather is going to be less than optimal - scattered rain throughout the day. But at least the temperatures should be comfortable (mid-70s) and winds light.

I hope not too many roads are flooded!

Heading over there in 15 minutes to volunteer for body marking and swim exit duties. Photos and updates later!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More Nations Triathlon photos

Professional photographer Dan Hicok has a glorious set of photographs from the event.


Speaking of calories, somehow it doesn't seem fair that a 45-minute swim burns off only 366 calories, and sitting at my computer reading about these crazy election shenanigans would have burned 65 calories. The net result is that I'm only 301 calories ahead of the game.

I'll break exactly even if I eat 87 plain M&Ms tonight.

This stuff will make a person insane. Maybe it already has.

But I did one set of 500 yards in 10:20, which is very speedy for me.

Well it was with flippers, but still....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Calories burned

I'm working on some estimates of calories burned during my typical workouts, to balance my calories in and out a little more accurately.

For a body weight of 172 pounds (let's just use that for a number for now, without further comment) the tables tell me:

  • Run 12 min/mile: 626 cal/hr or 10.4 cal/min (5.5 hours per pound body weight lost)
  • Run 11 min/mile: 704 cal/hr or 11.7 cal/min (4.9 hours per pound body weight lost)
  • Run 10 min/mile: 783 cal/hr or 13.0 cal/min (4.4 hours per pound body weight lost)
  • Swim, hard effort: 783 cal/hr or 13.0 cal/min (4.4 hours per pound body weight lost)
  • Swim, moderate effort: 626 cal/hr or 10.4 cal/min (5.5 hours per pound body weight lost)
  • Bike 15 mph: 783 cal/hr or 13.0 cal/min (4.4 hours per pound body weight lost)
  • Bike 16+ mph: 939 cal/hr or 15.6 cal/min (3.7 hours per pound body weight lost)
Personally, I think those estimates for cycling are on the HIGH side - riding my bike doesn't seem like that much exertion, especially when you compare the heart rates of running vs. cycling. I suspect the tables were made up long ago, long before the advent of efficient, aerodynamic, light-weight tri-bikes.

And jeez, it's a whole lot easier to skip one Death By Chocolate dessert than swim or bike for 2 or 3 hours.

And the real kicker? The more weight you lose, the fewer calories you burn going at the same speed. But it's easier to go faster!!!

Update: After some consultation with friends, I think these estimates are significantly high for women. Figures, doesn't it!?

Back to the mile

Since a burst of speed (for me) this spring, I've been getting progressively slower in my running this spring. There's a variety of reasons, mostly to do with low running mileage and gaining a few pounds and a couple of nasty bouts of bronchitis.

But now the weather is cooling off so that it's much more comfortable to run in, and I'm back to doing mile repeats in the hopes of perking up my speed again. I headed to the track today, but the students were using it (very unusual!) so I headed out on the roads with my Garmin. I did them just like I planned on the track with quarter-mile recovery walks in between and this is what I ran today:
  • 10:51
  • 10:22
  • 10:49
That gives us some baseline numbers heading into the fall. It's a (re)start. Onward to get back to those 9:22s, 9:02s and below!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Princess Half Marathon

I'm in for the Princess Half at Disneyworld next March 8th. And no, I'm not taking the kids on account of I'm a terrible mom. But it should be a blast anyway, because I'm meeting some girlfriends there and we'll enjoy ourselves as only a group of true princesses can!

Friday, September 19, 2008

A solution to stinky cycling shoes!

I don't know about you, but my cycling shoes get pretty nasty. I mean downright NASTY.

I just discovered this stuff: Anti-microbial Febreze. It's a MIRACLE, I tell you, a MIRACLE!

(Unpaid endorsement, didn't even get a free bottle or anything, I just like to pass along the word when something actually works.)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nations Triathlon pics

These are fun. What's your vote? Which one?

Or there's this one: "Please God, don't let me wipe out against the curb right in front of the White House!"

Or the always-ghastly swim exit photo: "Omigod! My head!!!! Did it float away? Is it still attached!???"


Today it's 72*F with a dew point of 56*F. Perfect race day weather. Just the weather we should have had three days ago!

Oh well, everybody raced under the same nasty conditions.

And today I got in a lovely, leisurely 22-mile pedal around the peninsula.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nations Triathlon Race Report


The Expo and packet pickup was, to me (as an experienced triathlete and 18-year area resident), a big annoyance. I went over to it when the Expo opened on Saturday morning. Located two miles across the busy District of Columbia from the transition area, and no nearby parking to be found except the parking garage underneath the hotel for $15. There was a "mandatory" pre-race briefing every hour at which we were required to complete an additional CYA swim waiver and get our hand stamped on exit as proof of attendance. The briefing didn't contain any information, as far as I could tell, that wasn't on the website or part of normal triathlon rules. Plus there was at least one egregious falsehood told to briefing attendees that there would be "plenty" of parking close by the transition area. (The nearest public parking lot to the transition area is usually full and it's 3/4 of a mile away).

Later at packet pickup lots of people were getting in line that clearly hadn't attended the briefing and no one ever seemed to check for hand stamps, but after the briefing it went quickly and I was out of there.

I drove over to the transition area, managed to squeeze into one on-street parking site, got my bike all set up to put in the fully-assembled bike racking area, only to be told that transition was closed for another hour. So I had to hang around and waste another hour for no apparent reason. Finally got my bike racked and the entire check-in procedure had taken well over three hours. (It would have taken much longer if I hadn't lived in the area for so long and wasn't completely familiar with DC streets).

Race morning:

Up at 4AM and over to the East Potomac Park parking area by 5AM to make sure I got a parking spot, even though my swim wave wasn't scheduled to start until 8:36AM. Ate some breakfast in my car and went over to set up my transition area and was ready to go by about 6:15, with 2.5 hours now to kill.

There were about 35 portapotties for 3400 registered triathletes. There were quickly hundreds of people in an enormous line.

At 7AM we were supposed to be finished setting up transition and to have cleared the area, but there were still a couple dozen triathletes and family members in there any time that I looked.

All of the athletes were supposed to wait for their swim wave in a huge fenced-in pen with the very limited portapotties (now out of toilet paper but supplied with industrial wipes), but no available water or food, nor garbage receptacles. So Jeanne and I and Greg and my other few thousand triathlete friends complied and sat around in the corral doing nothing and unable to watch the start. Fortunately I had brought some supplies with me but I felt badly for those who hadn't.

Swim (41:47):

Finally it was time for our wave, the last, to enter the water. They had floating docks with ladders set up that worked well for entry. I jumped in the water, made sure my cap and goggles were set, and waited for the start. There was some confusion at the start, with no clear signal, but the women in the front line started swimming so I followed in afterwards.

The Potomac River water was better quality than I expected, very murky but not smelly. The water temperature was a very comfortable 77*F in my sleeveless wetsuit. On the outbound leg against the slow current I swam along fairly easily spotting off the bank to my right and heading for the second arch of Memorial Bridge. I swam comfortably under the bridge and spotted the yellow turn buoy still fairly far off, but made it out around two yellow turn buoys without incident.

My swim cap kept riding up and pulling my goggles off, however, and after tugging at them several times I had to finally stop by a kayak to fix the problem, which cost some time. Also the return leg headed directly into the rising sun and I couldn't see the yellow buoys at all. I spotted off some boats off to the right but I think that I swam the long way around doing that. On the last part of the swim I was hitting some seaweed which made me wish I had worn my long-sleeved wetsuit, but it didn't slow me down.

Finally I was able to turn for the swim exit, very well marked with tall banners, and I climbed up the ladders. A quick glance at my watch said 39:xx, several minutes slower than I had hoped but not a big surprise.

T1 (5:28):

The lane to the transition area was long and full of slippery mud by the time I went through, but I trotted as quickly as I was able. I tried to ignore the many people already heading out on the run leg. I also had one of the longest distances to the bike start, so I finished the transition in my typically slow time despite all efforts to be prompt and efficient.

Bike (1:25:27, 17.4 mph):

Mounted up and headed out on Independence Avenue, feeling nice and strong. This was MUCH more fun! I hit the first few miles pretty hard and was enjoying myself greatly. Swooping through the curves around the Washington Monument, onto Constitution Avenue heading towards the Capitol. Swing easily through a U-turn 6 lanes wide and I'm having a blast! Up standing on the pedals to pick up some speed again, and I'm passing everyone in sight. "Stay right! On your left!" was my continual refrain through the ride. A quick glance over my right shoulder to spot the White House, then swoop again through another U-turn and tear on out of there as fast as I could pedal. Hammering my bike down a wide-open Constitution Avenue in our nation's capital, with cheering spectators on both sides, was well worth the price of admission!

Back down towards the Potomac, climbing up the Whitehurst Freeway towards Georgetown in what seemed like the biggest effort on the bike course. Then we had a long ride out and back along Canal Road and the Clara Barton Parkway into Maryland with lovely views of the canal. Another sharp turnaround at the end (glad that I've been practicing those bike-handling skills) and back towards the District.

About this time I realized that I hadn't been passed yet by ANYONE on the bike course! That was a big first for me, and encouraged me to keep going hard until the finish. Actually being in the last wave of the day, it just meant that the faster cyclists were all faster swimmers than me too, but the thought was still enough to keep my motivation high and pedals turning hard.

Another little leg up into Rock Creek Park and under the Kennedy Center overhang and past the Lincoln Monument and back into transition. Hurrah! Not passed by a single person on the bike leg! That's certainly never happened to me before! I was very stoked!

T2 (3:19):

Another long, long trot on bike shoes back to my rack spot. Dropped my helmet and swapped my shoes as quickly as I could, but it was still my typically slow time.

Run (1:27:45, 14:09 min/mile):

As soon as I headed out on the run I knew it was going to be a very slow finish time. It was now about 11 AM and there was full sun and little shade on the concrete roads leading out towards Hains Point. The official temperature for the day eventually got up to 92*F, which with a dew point of 72*F yields a 100*F heat index. I'm not sure what the temperatures were exactly at the time of my run, but they were certainly sufficient to beat me to a pulp and force me to do a lot of walking after the first mile. I dumped ice down my front and back at every opportunity, and forced myself to run between every other lightpost, but just 100 yards of jogging would be enough to send my heart rate up to about 174. I kept up the alternating sequence and jogged as much as I was able, but it was a long slow countdown from one mile marker to the next (excellently marked with very tall banners, I might note).

Finally with the Capitol in the background I tried to look as peppy and happy as I could for my finish photos, but I was feeling the heat and as soon as I crossed the finish line (at 3:43:45) I sat down and rubbed ice on my overheated neck and arms.


There was abundant pizza and some other food items at the finish line area. I took one piece and slowly started my walk back to the transition area. There were shuttle buses heading back, but there were long lines that I didn't want to stand in. 1.7 miles of very slow hobbling brought me back to the transition area to pick up my gear. I suddenly remembered on the way (not to make excuses for my time) that I had a nasty head cold, which returned with a vengeance.

They were already breaking down the fences by the time I arrived and there didn't appear to be much perimeter security for the bikes, though the numbers of those of us who walked out the main gates were checked. Another 0.8 miles very slowly walking the bike, and I was back to my car and loading up to head for home.


I was glad to see that they posted results very promptly, and quite amazed to see that I had finished 48/84 (57%) in my category, Athenas of all ages. In my age group I would have finished 26/41 (63%). I was extremely surprised to see that I ended up placing higher than I usually to, with a solid back-of-the-midpack finish instead of way way back in the pack as I had expected!

Monday, September 15, 2008

RDs: Don't do this

This is how NOT to list your results for body-weight-category female triathletes, and I quote:

Individual - Athena 150+ FAthena

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nations' Tri results are in!

It was brutally hot out there! I had an okay swim, great bike, and meltdown run.

Nation's Triathlon
September 14, 2008 - Washington, DC
number of finishers: 2388
number of females: 951
number of males: 1437
average time: 3:10:40

Nancy Toby
bib number: 3151
age: 51
gender: F
location: ARLINGTON, VA
overall place: 2027 out of 2388
division place (Athenas all ages): 48 out of 84
gender place: 695 out of 951
time: 3:43:45
swim: 41:47
t1: 5:28
bike: 1:25:27 (17.4 mph)
t2: 3:19
run: 1:27:45
penalty: 0

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

First day of soccer

The girls had a blast at their first soccer practice today. Mostly running around the gym (it was threatening rain outside) and attempting to kick the ball and getting some exercise while they were having great fun. Perfect!

It's a coed team. The girls thought it would be appropriate to pull up their shirts to show all their teammates during circle time. I can see in a few years from now they're destined to be the most popular female soccer players in their high school.

They decided to name themselves The Cheetahs. Only Catherine wanted them to be named Flamingos, so she has started calling herself a Flamingo-Cheetah.

Pee pee pants

I was interviewed last week by the Washington Post Express on some advice for novice triathletes in advance of the Nations Triathlon next Sunday in Washington DC. So of course I offered up all kinds of sage wisdom garnered through years of experience (and mistakes) on knowing and following the rules and staying safe and having fun and all that.

So which part do they use? The slightly edgier stuff about peeing in the Potomac.

Too funny!

Now the Park Service will probably cancel the permit for the swim because of the potential for excessive nitrogen pollution, all on my account.

At least I don't usually pee during the National Anthem like some people I know.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Lovely Sunday

Fortunately Tropical Storm Hanna was more or less a non-event here, no worse than any big rainstorm.

The following day was gorgeous warm weather and we took advantage of it for a family day by walking across town to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. It was a fun day and the place was nearly deserted!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

In which Catherine becomes famous

The remnants of Hanna

Some minor street flooding near the harbor - but it was no match for Superhero Catherine, the Energy Girl!

Catherine's shaggy dog story

This is a story Catherine told us over dinner about the dog she hopes to have one day:

"My dog is a superhero dog and she's a Collie and her name is Cathy Energy Girl and she's brown and white with blue eyes. And she has a laserbeam gun in her paw and she finds all the bad dogs in the world and SHOOTS them right through the heart and they go straight to the cemetery and there's no more bad dogs in the whole world. The end."

Tropical Storm Hanna updates

6:20 AM: Here I'm all ready for a hurricane and we haven't even gotten a teensy little tropical storm yet. All we have so far is TROPICAL - the humidity has gone off the charts overnight and it's very warm and the outside of the windows were covered with condensation when I woke up. No sign of rain yet. They say the maximum sustained winds are 60 mph but here it's only 1 mph with gusts to 9.

There's a big blob on the radar that begins about 50 miles south of here, though. Looks kind of cool on the animation.

I'm up early to head for the pool. I sure hope they didn't do something dumb like close the Y today.

9:54 AM: The rain started about 7:15 AM and stayed very light and there was almost no wind until I finished my swim and my drive home from the Y. I was able to get in a nice leisurely 2150-yard swim and see some triathlete friends at the pool. Just now after I got home I heard our first big clap of thunder. I'm staying home and dry and snug for the rest of the day! Right now it's 76*F and winds are averaging 1 mph with occasional gusts to 15 mph from the northeast.

11:07 AM: Rain has picked up now into a steady downpour. Wind is wheeling between north and east, 17 mph now with gusts to 25. A couple thunderclaps so far but that's all. Temperature is still a nice comfortable 75*F. The next high tide around here isn't until 10:30 tonight, but that one will probably have a significant amount of flooding if this hard rain keeps up all day. Staying in the house for the rest of the day and about to start mixing cupcakes! Just hope we don't have a power failure in the middle of baking them!

12:42 PM: Not much action here now. The rain has stopped completely and the skies have brightened. Total rainfall has only been 0.3 to 0.4 inches by most local reporting stations. Winds have dropped below 10 mph with occasional gusts to 24 mph, coming out of the east to southeast. Maybe I will go run today after all!

4:55 PM: This storm was a bit of a fizzle so far! We're just about in the center of it now - at the airport just northeast of us the winds are coming from the east, while about 10 miles south of us the winds are coming from the northwest. Not much wind yet and some showers off and on. The radar to the south of us looks like there shouldn't be much more rain in the southern part of the rotation.

7:45 PM: At twilight the rain has stopped, the wind has shifted and is now coming from the northwest at 20 mph with gusts to 30. It's still 73*F outside, but I think the show's over, folks! There's some minor flooding near the harbor but nothing more severe than we see every so often at very high tides.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Banish those weather excuses!

The old saying goes, "There's no bad weather, just bad clothing."

So with that in mind, and looking down the road to the coming cold-weather season, I just put in a big order for windblocker winter gear. The idea is to hopefully bring down my lowest permissible cycling temperature this winter. In the past I haven't been willing to go out much below 30*F because when you're on the bike going at anything over 15 mph the wind really starts knifing in to any exposed flesh.

So I just ordered: Windblocker tights; windblocker cycling gloves; and a windblocker balaclava.

That should pretty much cover everything! I've got a variety of jackets in the closet to choose from, and footwarmers, so that should defend the other bits from frost. Let's see how low we can go now!! NO EXCUSES!!!

Why lose all that hard-earned cycling fitness just because it's a few degrees colder? (And don't suggest I get on the trainer - it drives me insane!) I'm hoping to bring my temperature limit down to about 15-20*F since it rarely gets colder than that around here. And most of the time any snow or ice on the roadside is cleared quite quickly.

Here comes Hanna!

Looks like we will be having a hurricane visiting on Saturday around 2PM! Winds are forecast (depending on who you listen to) at 50-60 mph.

Should be exciting! I don't expect it will really bother us except keep us indoors most of the day. I'd better take the umbrella in from the deck. Hopefully the tree in back won't fall on the house.

We really need the rain here, actually.... But not all at once! Good thing I don't have any races or special plans this weekend!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Triathlon dream

My dream last night:

I was dropped off at some big resort for a triathlon. Apparently parking was restricted and they bused participants in. I was wearing a tri-suit and no shoes, and my bike was in the racks somewhere from the previous day.

I spent most of the dream trying to figure out how I was going to manage the triathlon with no shoes. I figured no problem for the swim; on the bike I could try to ride it with no shoes; and then maybe walk the run leg barefoot. That was my working plan.

Then I checked in and we got all kinds of weird stuff in our schwag bags: a stuffed bear, and some kind of respirometer apparatus (probably to check to see that my bronchitis was no longer affecting me).

Ellen Degeneres was there getting ready to race too and I talked to her briefly about the stuffed bears.

That is all.