Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Oh my Wii muscles!

Ok Megan, you were right. You're not a wimp. You not only can cream me in bowling and boxing, but you can also make competitive Joy come out, leaving me incredibly sore from all the ineffective right hooks that did not keep me from KO after KO.

My boxing gloves are still on, and I'm gearing up for a repeat tomorrow.

My Mii's nose is totally cuter than yours, even after you punched it repeatedly. I'm still smiling too.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ahh Soreness

I'm incredibly sore from my Sunday long run. The soreness comes not from the running hiatus of late, or from the sprinting and stopping that goes along with two taking dogs (who must pee on designated trees) along. No, this soreness is very specific to one particular moment of that run. Not two minutes after I jinxed myself by expressing my amazement to Laura that neither of us had tripped and fallen, I did it. I knew the moment the thought crept into my mind that it was going to happen. It's kind of like those races I used to attend with Jenny where I'd just feel that I'd be winning a door prize (that's still my only TV). Well, I won the prize yesterday. It really didn't hurt so bad when I landed, probably because it all happened in slow motion. Luckily my running group and I had been so intertwined that they immediately came to my rescue. I was comforted by Gabby's licking of my face. Today my left hand can barely make it to the top of my head for hairbrushing purposes. Opening doors with that arm is not happening. But I came away lucky. Poor Gabby had a great time running with her big brother Latte, but last night was not able to put weight on one of her back feet. It wasn't a result of the trail run, but most likely the roughhousing that took place in the backyard afterward. It's a good thing she made it to visit Santa before the injury. X-rays are coming this afternoon. We'll keep hoping for a good prognosis!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hibernation Time

Excerpt from my recent Goal Setting sheet for Liz:

"List your top 3 goals for the 2009 season:
1. Not suck so bad in Kona. Oh wait, that’s not realistic. I mean specific."

I think it may be the coldness of the last few days, along with the ice on my windshield, and the endless cloudy skies. I'm just not that enthusiastic about the upcoming triathlon season yet. Should I be? I know lots of people were motivated by watching the NBC coverage of this past October's Ironman, but maybe the pain is still too fresh in my mind. Or maybe it's the stuffy head and cough I've had this past week. Oh, the inevitables of winter! A yucky cold, a lack of training, the urge to hibernate after eating large meals. I figure I have only so many days that I can make myself swim, bike, or run when I don't want to. Like Get Out of Jail Free passes, they're in limited supply. I'm holding on to them for now. Maybe they'll multiply.

My latest purchase was made to fend off some of the blah-ness. It came complete with Hawaiian-ish flowers all over it, just to get me in the mood. Now one of these days I'll stop just wearing it around the house and get to the pool in it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

There is a bright side

I took a few art classes in high school, and have always loved drawing and painting. Give me a photo and I'll draw it, but don't ask me to come up with any designs from my head. I know I'm not creative and will be the first to admit it.

So lately I've been doing activities that require this creativity that I'm lacking. First, with Laura, I went to Sweet to paint a martini glass. You might've seen the results of that experiment on her blog. Mine's the ugly, uncreative one. I'm embarrassed to even admit it. And no, I don't know what those green seaweed-looking things between the suns are supposed to be.

Then yesterday for our work group's Christmas party, we went to Seize the Clay to paint pottery. Mine's not done yet, but it's completely unimaginative and not a thing of beauty (yet, I hold out hope). I was late enough to Sweet last night that a couple other girlfriends had already painted their glasses, therefore I was not required to publicly display my lack of creativity twice in one day.

Feeling bad about my creativity and artistic skills, I was excited to read in a New York Times article that there is a fine, often blurry line between creativity and mental illness. Specifically, researchers have found many personality traits shared by graduate students in creative disciplines and bipolar patients. It's possible that art is a natural therapy for individuals with mental illness, or mabye a way to express themselves.

Back in my undergraduate years when I studied psychology, I remember the examples of Louis Wain's cats. As his symptoms of schizophrenia worsened, his cats became increasingly abstract. It's pretty fascinating. And beautiful.

I'm no abstract artist for sure. I'm ok with that now.

Monday, December 8, 2008


This past weekend was filled with all things marathon. First I met up with fellow blogger chicks for some pre-race (or pre-spectating) carb loading at the warehouse of spaghetti on Friday. Angie left before the picture to get Duane home for a pre-marathon sleep. We didn't forget her, and held a sign up for representation. Here we have Damie, Mira, me, Laura, and Sam.

Saturday was a long day of bike riding, cheering, chasing Olaf around town, shivering in the cold, more cheering, riding with marathoners to the finish, and a little more shivering. It was fun watching Olaf, Sam, Laura, Gina, Lindsay, Steve, Layla, Cayce, Duane, Lisa, Casey, Rachel, Carolyn and the other 10,000 runners strive to meet their goals. The goals ranged from a 2:50 marathon, to PRing in the half despite sickness, to finishing a first full marathon. It seems to me that just about everyone whose goals I knew of met them.

That got me to thinking about my athletic goals. I'm scared to admit them most of the time. If I have a real, true, deep-down dream goal, I almost never say it aloud. If I do verbalize a goal to anybody, it's a goal that I'm pretty sure I can hit. I'm not pessimistic about my abilities, I try to be more realistic. Why is it that most people are not scared to share a dream goal that they may fail at meeting? What's so hard about letting people know that I am disappointed in myself sometimes? And what's wrong with being disappointed sometimes?

At work we teach about setting SMART goals: goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Rewarding, and Time-oriented. If you don't make goals attainable, then you'll end up disappointing yourself when you don't reach them, right? But in running, is this really a bad thing? Maybe sharing goals will keep me accountable for actually training to meet those goals.

I mentioned to Damie last time we were at track and running a 7:00 pace that I'd like to run a marathon at that pace. But I think I'm scared to actually try. I know it's a way-out-there goal for me, but if I really worked for it, I don't see why I couldn't do it. Come to think of it, I just might be scared to run another flat out, stand alone marathon. I'm pretty sure I could run faster than the only one I've done, which was 8 years ago, and is now only 3 minutes faster than my Ironman best marathon. But how much faster? 5 minutes? 20 minutes? Oh it sounds so painful!

Thanks to everyone who shared their true goals this weekend. I'm getting my motivation back thanks to you.

It is a most mortifying reflection for a man to consider what he has done, compared to what he might have done. ~Samuel Johnson, in Boswell's Life of Johnson, 1770

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Bee-Gull

Poor tortured Megan can't get away from it. We still treat her like she's our baby sister, even though today she turns 26. Jenny and I remember things that she did and said well over 20 years ago, like when we would call her a baby, she would reply, "I'm not a baby, I'm a bee-gull!" When she was first learning to write in cursive, she signed what looked like Mergon Johnison, and we've not let her forget it. She got called the dog's name (Merrigold), the horse's name (Mystic--in Mom's defense, they all start with M), and now her 6-year-old niece's name. We associate them all.

She favors Mom,

and maybe even me, if we both look down and you can't see our eyes or the shape of our heads. She has a normal-shaped one.

Mine has lumps and bumps that can fuel conversation at parties.

But anyway. She's definitely the kind, calm, patient, generous, talented sister in the family (you know I'm right, Jenny!), and I can't imagine having grown up without her (although I'm sure at times she would have preferred growing up without me)! Happy Birthday little DookeyFactory with the ChickenLegsandDuckFeet!

I was honored to be called Other Megan!

For more Dalgo family excitement, visit her husband Austin's blog here. Now maybe he'll update it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Central Governor

I'm always fascinated by exercise; that's part of why I do it, and it's definitely why I decided to study it in grad school. There's always something new to learn, and I find lots of interesting articles on The Science of Sport. Recently I was reading about limiters in exercise, specifically pace limiters. And then Damie wrote about her latest 5k pace. If you were starting a 5k race, you'd run at a faster pace than if you were starting a half marathon, right? Ok, that's obvious, but why do you do this? It had been theorized that pace was based on feedback from your body after exercise had begun, such as lactate levels and body temperature, but new research will hopefully be updating us on how this is not the whole story. Part of why you run the pace you run is based on your experience at those specific race distances, but there seems to be much more going on than just that. Your Central Governor is a part of your brain that monitors and controls your exercise to make sure you don't do damage to yourself (a topic about which I am also very interested). Your brain will recruit more muscle fibers at the start of that 5k race than a half marathon by knowing only your race distance.

So my question is this: can I teach my body to override my brain's governing signals so that I run a faster marathon, for example? It's all mind over body anyway. Manipulating your brain takes training to a whole new level, but it sounds like a good non-impact form of training for the off-season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Culture

There's a culture out there of which I am not a part of (but that's ok), and was not totally aware of until today. I went to Starbucks this morning, which is an unusual stop for me. Most mornings I go to High Point, where you get a chocolate covered bean with your drink. Many times, especially when I've come from the pool, I stop by Quetzal, where the coffee beans are roasted right in the building. On lazy summer mornings when there was no spin class for me and everyone was Ironman training, Charlie, Laura, Damie (and when we're lucky, Nancy) and I would go to Bluff City Coffee and hang out on the leather couches until we decided that we should go to our jobs.

But this morning, Starbucks was right on my route from my part time job to my full time job. I went inside and entered another world. It was just after 9 a.m., and the tables were packed with people; most were chatting, not many newspapers were being read, few laptops were out. It was like happy hour at a bar. Do these people work? They were dressed like they do. Then why aren't they at those jobs?

I got my Thanksgiving Blend, as it's still 10 more days until Christmas Blend is out, according to the large board over my head. I didn't quite know what to expect from Thanksgiving Blend, a hint of turkey and dressing? Squash casserole, maybe? Definitely no pumpkin spice; that's reserved for the latte of the same name. I passed on the protein and fiber additive, since I always add milk (protein), and does anybody really need any more help getting things moving than the caffeine already gives you? No vitamin boost either; coffee is the country's biggest source of antioxidants as it is.

I wedged myself between tables, ignoring the lure of the new Starbucks Gold Card sign, since it's for "people who really love Starbucks," and I wouldn't say I really love it. I just love it when it's convenient and my other coffee shops aren't. I also bypassed the "take this card for a free itunes download" card. Nope, no CDs, coffee mugs, gift baskets, or stuffed reindeer toys for me today, thanks. Where did all this stuff come from? I guess it was always here, but I never noticed before I went to independent coffee shops who can't sell a mug for 500% more just because their name is on it.

I really like the place just fine, I think they're geniuses for all they've done to create this culture, and some of their mugs are really cute. I like going and sitting in there in the afternoons with all the students, taking my work with me. It's calming and relaxing and a very nice break from my office. But I guess coming back after an absence has made me realize what a lifestyle it is for some. And there's something about that red Christmas cup that makes you keep going back again and again.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Ironman #9

It's done. Whew. During the days leading up to the race, I just wanted it to be over with. I knew how much it was going to hurt and just wanted the nervous anticipation to be gone. But it was all worth it. Every meltdown I had, every early morning swim, every brick, that long ride in the rain... all worth it because I surpassed each of the goals I'd set for myself.

The day started off with the usual force-feeding of a PB and banana sandwich at 4:30 a.m. The ride to the start with the girls and Gary, the airing up of the new-as-of-the-day-before $120 tire, the BodyGliding of the neck, the slipping into the wetsuit; it all went by quickly and smoothly, and next thing I knew I was dipping my toes in the Gulf and jumping when the cannon went off earlier than I'd anticipated.

The Swim
The only time I panicked during the swim was at the first turn buoy when I was completely vertical, trying to paddle around the hundreds of bodies and avoid the arms of the men who were apparently trying to use me as a life preserver. I yelled at one guy to get off me as he tried to dunk me like a water polo opponent. What a nightmare. But I didn't drown and ended up swimming a 1:11, better than I'd expected for the amount of swimming I'd done. Plus, I was incredibly excited to find no chafing on my neck!

T1 and the Bike
T1 went well too, but really, what can go that wrong in four and a half minutes of changing clothes? (ok, lots, but I try not to think of those things) I was planning on going easy the first hour of the bike, and stuck to my plan despite the hoards of people flying by me. About one hour in, a nice pack came by, including a girl who was so close to the guy in front of her that she couldn't even ride in aero position. I was shocked at her blatant cheating and of course had to say something to her when I finally passed again. Apparently she'd been doing this the whole way according to a couple other guys, and thankfully someone informed me that she did indeed get a drafting penalty. I guess I was pretty vocal about my anger; they knew I'd be happy to know about her penalty. I have to say that many more deserved penalties, which is very frustrating when you make such an effort to not draft that you slow to 16 mph when packs go by before you can make the pass again. After turning a couple of corners, headed back to the barn, there was a nice tailwind and I picked up the pace as much as was reasonable. I was hoping to pull off a 5:20 bike and managed 5:17. Yay!

The Run
Another quick trip to the transition tent and the porta potty, and I headed out for the marathon. I was going to try to run "easy" the first 6.5 miles, out to the turnaround. Exciting as usual was mile one, which was populated by 15 or so of my incognito friends, with lots of dancing and music blaring. Several of them ran with me a few dozen yards until their flip-flopped feet tired of my blazing pace (ha ha).
This was one of their awesome signs they had out on the course. Thanks again Laura! There's nothing like seeing your enormous head on a poster to make you run away fast. :)
My first 6.5 miles was faster than I'd intended, but still at an easy pace that I tried to maintain through the second quarter of the run. I didn't quite keep that pace, I slowed down about 25 seconds per mile (ouch), but made it to the turnaround just under 1:43. Hmmm, at that point, with a sharp headache coming on, I realized I just might have run a little too fast for the first half. In 2006 on this course I ran the same first half split, only to slow about 10 minutes for the second half.

This is very obviously my first time in the park.

I passed the beer stop once again. At that point I probably smiled for the last time until the finish line. Normally bald Mike, in his long, blond, pony-tailed wig, followed close by on the Wolfman cruiser. He didn't have a lot to say, but the plumber crack he showed gave me some amusement. I kept looking for Gary, who was only a few minutes behind me, then first timers Deb, Nancy, and Damie. It was great seeing them so many times on the course.

This picture totally sums it up: everything is all askew. And there's no more smiling.

With about 3 miles to go I saw Nancy for the last time. She was walking and I assumed for some reason that she had given up. I mustered up all the strength that was left in me to tell her "DON'T GIVE UP NOW" and she cheerily said "I haven't!" I don't really remember much of the last few miles, but I remember telling myself to keep running to Laura. Then I'd have a mile to go. I kept reassessing my time, when my mathematically challenged brain would allow. "If I can just run 9 minute miles, I can finish under ___." My original A goal was to break 10:20. This helped me pick up the pace for the last 6.5 miles, even though at 20 the thought had occurred to me that I might not be able to keep running. Everything hurt, I was feeling incredibly nauseated, I felt like I couldn't get a deep breath, and I was at the point of drinking Coke only. Somewhere in those last few miles I calculated that I could break 10:15. I passed Damie with a mile and a half to go. "Go get your Kona slot!" was what she shouted to me. A man next to me said, "Yeah, go get it!" I mumbled "I don't think so," knowing there had to be several girls in their early 30s ahead of me. Two others were talking about finishing before dark. "You're going to finish before dark, aren't you?" the man asked. I gave him a thumbs up. I was planning on finishing in the bright sunlight, thanks to the end of Daylight Savings being moved back this year. At the last beer stop, just under 1.5 miles to go, I calculated that I could get in under 10:10. I last looked at my watch there, at 9:57. The longest mile of the day finally passed and I found myself at the finish line unable to contain my happiness when I crossed at 10:05. There was no jumping around or cartwheels on those dead legs. But I smiled really big!

Laura was there waiting on me, pulling ahead in the IronSherpa contest by helping me walk, ice my legs in the hotel's pool, towel-bathe the salt off, get my dry clothes before they were ready to release them, and completely taking care of my exhausted but elated self. I soon found out I was 4th in my age group, knowing there were most likely only 3 Kona slots. However, Liz called and emailed me right after the race to tell me 3rd place had already accepted her Kona slot at Ironman Wisconsin. It was mine, all mine! I happily wrote my check the next morning, and now I look forward to a few weeks of sitting on my couch and catching up on all the great TV I've missed.

I attribute most of my success to Liz, my Coach Extraordinaire, who made me be patient during recovery weeks, who told me it was ok to have meltdowns (they just make you stronger), and who planned everything just perfectly. I felt like after 8 Ironmans, I basically knew what to do; the problem is making myself do it. Having to report to someone who had thought through each workout and training cycle brought it all together and made it all work. Thanks so much Liz! You're amazing!

Definitely my biggest smile all day... all week, maybe.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Off to the Races

I've always been one to count down to events. In college I remember announcing that "I have to be in class in 5 hours!" while out too late with friends. These days I count down to early swim practice, work, etc.

Now it's time to count down to Ironman Florida. Not so much the race start (which, by the way, is in 3 days, 15 hours, and 20 minutes), but to the time when I get to mile 1 of the run, where I'll find my friends at the BEER STOP.

Advice for IronVirgins

Thanks everyone for your help in giving the first timers some good advice.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Enormous Aerobic Optimism"

That's what the very first Ironman competitors had (according to Timothy Carlson), along with enough lack of sanity to do this new, crazy, and fully unsupported event back in 1978. They knew nothing about optimal hydration and nutrition, but still managed to survive. These guys (and in 1979, girls) were amazingly tough, in addition to being crazy. A great example of that was the 1979 winner, Tom Warren.

"... Warren, a former USC Trojan swimmer, was better known for his addiction to self-imposed amazing endurance feats. He had already swum a 15-mile ocean race, run 75 miles through the mountains, and completed a 1,600 mile bicycle trip in two weeks. He was fond of winning bar bets by doing 400 sit-ups in a sauna after a rigorous series of workouts which might include running to Tijuana and back with some swims thrown in for good measure. Warren had a crazy off-kilter running stride caused by a broken leg when he was two years old--but he was quietly fierce."

There was a 14-year-old boy who finished the race in '79. He will always be the youngest competitor, since they set a lower age limit at 18 soon after that. Race officials weighed competitors twice during the 1981 race because they were afraid they might start dying off. At some point, Bud Light started sponsoring this thing, and Julie Moss helped get everyone's attention by using a form of locomotion other than walking or running during the last leg. I think that's when they changed the rulebook to include crawling as an option.

I can tell this is from Dig Me Beach, so it's after they moved the race to Kona in 1981.
There is an amazing book of Ironman history called Iron Will. But here's an excellent recounting of The Twelve Greatest Moments of the Ironman by Timothy Carlson. Read it. It may be motivating.
I was excited to get to meet three of the original Ironman finishers last year. Two sat at my table at the awards banquet in Kona, John Knoll and Dave Orlowski, and one I met at Ironman Florida, Henry Forrest, who is battling cancer. He had THE original Ironman trophy that he let me hold. It was just like this one:
Others who keep me inspired include Rick and Dick Hoyt, Sister Madonna Buder, and our very own Memphian, GaryIronmanHolmes. Damie has posted some photos from his early years of Ironman. I was marveling the other day about Gary's vast knowledge of exercise physiology. He knows more of the subject than any non-exercise physiologist I've ever met. I'm excited to be racing (in front of) him next weekend (right Gary?).
Because of these people and because of that VCR tape that I still have (and watch) of the 1997 Ironman World Championship, I have "enormous aerobic optimism" about my race in a few days.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Time for Rest

Taper time is a time for rest, whenever and wherever you can get it. I think Jackson is a lot like me; he catches naps when he's tired, at the exact spot at which he finds himself tired.

I think I've been sleeping in weird positions lately, too. I wake up and my neck or shoulders feel like I've been playing contact sports all night. Sometimes I wake up all curled up in the fetal position. But usually not upside down.

But when you're tired, you're tired.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Not-To-Do List

I've learned a few things during my previous 8 Ironmans, like what perseverence means, how to push through pain, the downs are usually followed by ups, blahblahblah. I've also learned some things I'd like to avoid in future races, like this Ironman Florida that takes place in 13 days. From personal experience:

  • I will not cry at the beginning of the second lap of the swim because I'm still getting pummelled from all sides.
  • I will not cry when I have to choose "2nd lap" over "finish."
  • I will not lie down for 30 minutes on the side of the road at mile 16 of the run because I can no longer stay upright.
  • I will not forget to sunscreen that little strip on my back between my shorts and my top.
  • I will not get mad and yell at drafters on the bike (this may be the hardest one of all to avoid).
Ironman Florida 2007 DraftFest

  • I will not try to do math during the run or get upset when I think mile 23 is approaching only to come upon the 22 marker.
  • I will not attempt a right handed bottle grab when I know that it isn't pretty.
  • I will not spend 17 minutes in T2 getting my blood pressure taken and having chips force fed to me. To avoid this:
  • I will not hesitate when asked my name in T2.
  • I will not have a meltdown if I lose all my salt tablets and my ibuprofen.
  • I will not get the flu 4 days before the race.
Others have taught me some things I'd like to avoid as well:

  • I will not wear a swimsuit bottom under my bike shorts.
  • I will not drink Ensure or Boost or any of those other high fiber drinks during the race.
  • Because of the above, I will not visit every porta potty on the run course.
  • I will not wear a string bikini under my wetsuit.
  • I will not wear nothing under my wetsuit.
  • I will not fall asleep under a tree on the bike course.
  • I will not stop for a beer and a 45-minute chat at the BEER STOP with one mile left in the race like Yves did (but we were glad he did):

Thursday, October 16, 2008

New Age Group

I'm glad there's someone to go before me in all of life's adventures. She had to break our parents in, come in later than curfew, learn to drive, go to college, do all that marriage and kids stuff, and now go into that new age group first. I already knew she was a really good sister and friend (most of the time, when she wasn't beating me up), and I've learned in the last few years that she's also a good wife and mommy and even a good daughter. Sometimes it amazes me that she's an actual grownup.

I'm impressed at the multitasking skills that she displays every time we talk on the phone. "So during my run this morning- JACKSON! You will get out of the sandbox if you throw sand one more time!- we did the long loop and I felt really good on the hills even pushing the stroller- Emily, stop torturing him!- so I'm thinking I might train for the half marathon; do you think I have time?

She really makes me laugh a lot. Mostly at her, like when she asks 8 times where her husband is when I've clearly told her 7 times that he's at the store, remember? She's also really funny when you tell her to look to her left and she spins around several times before realizing where your finger is pointing.

Since she's known me for 31 years, she understands exactly why I get mad or frustrated or whatever, and she's always willing to listen to my complaints. She also knows how to make me really mad and does that every once in a while. But not too often. I think she just does it to remind me that she's the big sister and still has some kind of control. I like to let her think that she does.

But anyway, Happy Birthday Jenny! You'll never be older than 12 in my mind. :)

Monday, October 6, 2008


I've been really healthy the last few months, getting lots of sleep, eating my veggies, limiting alcohol, exercising. These things make you feel really good. You may actually forget what you feel like when you don't do these things, as I learned this past weekend. Debauchery, defined as "excessive indulgence of the appetites," is almost the term I'm looking for, but the conotation is not quite right. I indulged in lots of fried food..


...artificial sweeteners...
...a little beer...

.. and very little exercise.

I woke up Sunday with ringing ears, a pounding head, and a general full-body ache. How do people get used to this? And have I undone everything good that I've worked so hard for the past few months? I know it takes around 7 days without exercise to feel the effects of detraining, but I wonder how many deep-fried onions, breaths of unfiltered cigarette smoke, and hours of missed sleep it takes to oxidize every molecule in my entire body? How many vitamins do I need to anti-oxidize (reduce?) those molecules? I'm actually already feeling completely different after a couple of good nights of sleep and a few berry smoothies.

There ended up being no Chunder Mile rematch, as there was just not enough time between a rehearsal dinner in Bourbon, MS...

... a wedding in Greenville... (here is the pathetic showing of single girls "trying" to catch the bouquet) .. and the walk through memory lane at Rhodes Homecoming. We drank beer in the "bar" on campus (THAT was not there when I attended), toured the new library, watched some football (or wait, maybe we didn't), and walked through the place where we spent most of our time: the gym. They've kept the life-sized picture of the girls' cross country team from my freshman year. I'm the one in the middle who looks exactly like me minus a few hundred freckles and dozens of wrinkles. Amazing the changes that take place in 13 years!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Quote of the Day

Grant is in town visiting this weekend; it's his first time in Memphis in several years. Today we were driving on some back roads in the medical center area when he saw broken glass in a parking lot.

"Look, a recent break in. It's like being in the Serengeti and seeing a fresh kill."

Grant, RJ, and me on the Chunder podium. There may be a rematch this weekend. Watch out, RJ.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cookie Stop

The whole reason I wanted to do the Big Dam Bridge century again this year was for the cookie stop. Ok, maybe not the whole reason, but it definitely played a major role in my decision. I also got to see this little one and his sister. She doesn't dress him like a girl anymore.

The cookie stop is something I've looked forward to for the last year. It's a sugar-lover's dream come true. And what better time to gorge yourself on homemade cookies than during a 100 mile ride? Zero guilt is involved. So the century began with Damie and me finding ourselves in a kind of scary, jumpy group. Of course, any group of a few hundred recreational cyclists can be scary when everyone is jockeying for position. About 3 miles in, I managed to ride over someone's helmet number sticker, which immediately melted into my rear tire. It wasn't just the tick-tick-tick of the sticker hitting my brakes every revolution that became my 35 mile lesson in patience, it was the comments of those around me who seemed to be bothered much more by it than I was. Apparently I used sarcasm on one of the rare individuals who are unable to detect it. He pulled up beside me and told me with grave concern that there was something stuck to my wheel. My shocked "seriously? what? where? i don't hear it!" was lost on him. I had several offers from my comrades to stick various body parts in my wheel to try to pry it off. If it bugs you so much that you want to lose a finger, go for it, but I'm not letting you, Mr. Recumbant, stick that foot that you've unclipped anywhere near my spokes.

Mr and Ms Jelly Belly Tandem apparently are like me in that they name those they ride with. "Oh here comes Flapper again," they commented as I rode up. Is this common, or are the JBTs and I the only ones who do it? I've always had names for those I'm riding with in groups; that is, if I don't know their real names. Blue Man and I (a.k.a. Calves) rode the last 30-35 miles together, each pulling a mile or so at a time, depending on the wind and hills. He even waited for me at the cookie stop.

So about that cookie stop. Some poor soul, who was surely just misinformed, directed those riding the 100 miles around the 25 mile cookie stop. I realized what was going on about 50 yards past the turn off. Just like last weekend when the downpour caused my mood to plummet like a lead balloon, the circumnavigation of the cookie stop caused curse words to fly, aimed at that clueless volunteer who nearly ruined my day. Luckily, the weather was great, I had some food aboard my bike, and I calmed down after doing a quick sprint to rid myself of some energy. It made me all the more joyous when I finally got to same cookie stop at 75 miles. Of course only the cookie rejects were left for us at this point, but in those I found at least a dozen that I loaded into my extra ziplock baggie to scarf down when I got back to my car. There was no energy for cookie munching during the remainder of the ride. I could only hang on to Blue Man for dear life in between the intervals during which I was expected to pull. All in all, a very fun ride. I even managed a little run following, after standing around chatting half an hour or so and letting my legs stiffen for good measure.

Sunday was a beautiful day for a duathlon. My team's annual race took place out in the hills of Lakeland. I did not participate, but instead practiced standing on my feet in one spot for a few hours. This will come in handy someday, I'm sure of it. It's amusing to be on the other side of a race. I know my brain gets a little foggy an hour into a barely sub-threshold effort. Apparently I'm not the only one, since the simple instructions of "run to the left of the cone" was incomprehensible to half of the field.

It was an impressive field, with Sam and two others running a 5:30 pace for the first 2-mile leg! Good job Sam, you were flying! Kirsten, from mid-Tennessee, outsplit all but one individual man and one relay man in the bike leg. She came in second overall. That's overall, not female overall. I'm stealing her legs for Ironman Florida.

The rest of my afternoon consisted of vacuuming the herds of ants from my kitchen (I cannot find where they're coming from or what they're eating!) and doing a short and easy run and bike ride. I took this somewhat crooked picture during my ride. What a beautiful day!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Is it naptime yet?

I was afflicted by one of the worst training saboteurs known to me this weekend: lack of sleep. It comes on quite suddenly; specifically in those 4 hours that you should be sleeping but aren't. You know it when it's happening, just like that time I spilled the condensation from the agar plate containing strep AND staph cultures on my pants leg. I knew I was doomed, and I just had to sit and wait around for it to come knock me out, all the while hoping for a miracle. Both the bacterial infection and the sleep deprivation started as a mild feeling of malaise. They both quickly escalated into a sore throat, stiff neck, lack of appetite... you know the feeling. All I wanted to do this morning was stay in bed. So that's what I did during the time I'd originally allotted for running. Lunch breaks can be good for something, especially when you don't need that time to actually eat. That's done every hour or so while sitting at my desk.

I think my bike ride may have suffered some from my sleep deprivation. I KNOW Nancy suffered because of it. When it started pouring on us approximately 2.5 hours into our 6 hour ride, my attitude went downhill like a trolley on greased tracks. I went from singing songs of happiness to growling angry insults at the weather in the course of about 10 minutes. Of course, as soon as the downpour stopped and the sun came out, my attitude readjusted as well. Amazing what a difference dryness can make. Another great thing about training with Nancy is that her tough times usually come at off intervals of mine. So when she just needed to get to the *%&^$! store, now, I was fine to chirp along beside her and tell her stories of my past meltdowns. I'm sure that helped her. Lots. But who doesn't get cheered up by tales of mental breakdowns in weeks leading up to Ironmans? That's what I'm here for.

Go Gary! Nancy and I cheer them on at IMFL '07. Brent and Rich were cheered for on my back. I'm looking for similar efforts for my upcoming race, guys.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Swimming can be really frustrating for me, since I've been working hard on it for about 10 years now. But sometimes I just really love it anyway. I was always in the water when I was little. We lived in Mobile and had a condo on the beach in Perdido Key. The thing that scared me most about the ocean was the jellyfish. I hated that stinging feeling that I'd inevitably have just about every time I went in the water. But riding the waves and bodysurfing made it worth it.

When I was 6, I learned to waterski. I was probably more scared of the deep, dark Sardis Lake water than the ocean. It's just so deep (like 250+ ft) and dark (some might call it murky). Once we moved to Memphis and waterskiing became a weekly event, and we started skiing in the smaller, much shallower Lower Lake, I became much more comfortable in lake water. It was never an issue of drowning, which is an impossibility while wearing a life jacket that's bigger than you are, it was the fear of the fish below me, that were also bigger than me, that would see my dangling feet as bait. See, they DO exist!

I'm even comfortable scuba diving at over 100 ft, on a wall that drops to 7000 ft just under me, or in the middle of a 50-shark feeding. In Vermont last summer, where Andrew swears there are no poisonous snakes and no human-sized catfish, but there IS some very dark water, I hyperventilated from not being able to see the bottom of the lake. Sometimes I don't even understand my neuroses.

But still I love swimming sometimes. No, not every day, but lots of days. Jenny is responsible for many of my swimming skills. One of the first lessons she taught me was how to swim to the side of a pool when someone drags you out over your head (against your will). That was a fun one that I always enjoyed. She really is responsible for teaching me to swim laps. When I was 15, Jenny was 18 and a regular at the Germantown Center pool. I started going with her to the workouts, which consisted of sitting on the side of the pool for at least 20 minutes while contemplating stroke mechanics (or something, I don't remember), making her laugh at my swim cap-induced look of surprise. I would finally start swimming behind her, never keeping up, but always remembering to breathe every 3rd stroke (I still thank you for that lesson!). After an exhausting 500-800 yard swim, we'd change and go home, with that warm accomplished feeling that you get even on cold winter days. You know what I'm talking about? It's different from the feeling you get after a run (sweaty, tired legs) or cycling (salty, stiff neck). And I love it. I got it today. It was a good swim.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Calories In, Calories Out

I was just reading an interesting blog that talked about calorie intake for athletes. This blogger believes that 2000 calories plus about 150-200 per hour trained during the day would do it, but that eating over about 2400 for a female is too much.

This of course made me do some calculations. Using the Compendium of Physical Activities (Ainsworth et al., Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 9, Suppl., pp. S498-S516, 2000--in case you're interested), I calculated that based on my weight (52.3 kg -- that is, before this weekend when I dehydrated about 4 pounds out of it), my resting metabolism for one day is about 1255 kcal. Generally, you burn one kcal per kg of body weight per hour at rest. Based on my average pace this past week, I burn about 627 kcal/hr cycling, 601 kcal/hr running (slowly), and 497 kcal/hr swimming. This seems a little weird to me, since I'd have thought my running would be more expensive per minute, but that's another subject.

So Saturday and Sunday combined, I burned 4389 kcal cycling and 1550 kcal running. 5939 kcal = approximately 1 bag of Nutter Butter Bites (1120) + 1 box of mini s'mores sandwich cookies (1350) + 8 Kroger brand chocolate chip pecan cookies (1920).

The only problem is that I had WAY more than 8 of those cookies. Good thing I don't limit myself to 2400 kcal/day!

Sunday, September 7, 2008


The weekend's events are over and I'm still in one piece, and feeling good, no less. There were no sidewall blow outs during Saturday's ride, a la Clay's last week (the dollar bill did not do the job, in case you were wondering):
There was no meltdown during Sunday's run, no repeat of last Sunday's long run.

Nancy and I got to spend 8 hours together over the two days, isn't she lucky? Not only one of the best training partners ever (she's always up for anything), she is also one of the least annoying people I've ever met! :)

Saturday included an organized century ride out in Collierville. It was a great group; we had Gary, who'd ridden out from his house (he got in 140 miles total), Jarred, who was going incredibly fast given his shoes of choice (Crocs), Brian, who was doing his last century of the season (I'd accompanied him on his first two of the season as well), Tommy, Suzy, Tom, Cheryl, and several RBs riders who are always fun to ride with. Of course we missed Damie, who was in the middle of an incredible 1/2 IM PR. This course turned out to be pretty hilly:

That training should come in handy for Louisville next year, but maybe not so much IMFL:

Ok, from the looks of it, IMFL is hilly. If you look closely, yeah, that's a maximum 161ft in elevation. Not hilly. But if you've ever done the course, you know that FLAT=WINDY more often than not.

I learned this weekend that 1) my "good" bike shorts' chamois can morph into spiky sandpaper around 95 miles; 2) I tend to get cranky when I've been exercising over 6.5 hours straight. The innocent people on that boardwalk who were getting in my way and letting their little dogs trip me had no idea that my legs were on autopilot and my ability to make quick turns and sidesteps was nonexistent; 3) I can actually do a recovery ride and not let random cyclist women inspire competition and make me chase them down on Watkins; and 4) Chocolate Chip Pecan cookies make an excellent post-workout recovery snack. But just in case I've got back ups: mini sandwich graham crackers and Nutter Butters, all within reach from my couch. A little extra weight won't hurt on Florida's flat course. :)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Everything in Order

According to my mom, I have always loved rainbows. In school, I used to arrange my colored pencils along with my friend Mark's colored pencils in rainbow order. No, this wasn't in third grade, it was just a few years ago, in PT school, during anatomy class. When I'd go over to his house to study, I'd ask for a coaster. "You just want a coaster because it has a rainbow on it, you rainbow freak!" he'd say. Ok, so it's true. For some reason I love having colors in order. They're so much more asthetically pleasing that way, don't you agree? No? Oh, it is just me.

Take this test. See how good YOU are at arranging colors in order. It might make you a little bit cross-eyed, but it's fun.

By the way, I scored a 4.

I guess all that practice paid off. :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Great Meltdown of Aught-Eight

It started out as a pleasant Sunday long run. I left very prepared for heat, humidity, sun, boredom, hypoglycemia, threatening attackers, you name it. I looked like I was prepared for a week of desert trekking with my pockets full of food, water bottle in one hand, pepper spray in the other, visor on head, sunscreen application, heart rate monitor, watch on the wrist, ipod in ears. Within a quarter mile the weight of the shorts pockets, containing the ipod and keys, pulled on my old elastic-less shorts enough to make them droop, requiring a double waistband rollover and evacuation of equipment. Fine, it can all go in the tri top pockets; that's why I wore this top, despite the chafing it potentially causes on the backs of my shoulders.

Down the island and over the bridge, my hamstrings and hips should have been loosening up. I had a 4 mile warm up, then the next 6 at a good steady ironman pace. After the four miles, everything was still tight and starting to hurt, then I picked up the pace. The next 6 miles contained about 5 stops to stretch. Surely something would help. Apparently it was not this.

Ten miles in, I needed to further pick up the pace: 7-7:30 per mile. I had detailed notes of where exactly each of these miles would begin and end, so that I could accurately assess my pace, instead of my usual guesses that I'm running "fast enough."I stopped at the beginning of mile 11 to stretch once more and gather all the motivation possible. First mile: 7:20. Success! I stopped, stretched, panted... were these five miles supposed to be continuous? What?

Each mile thereafter got progressively worse. Much worse. 7:40, stop. 8:20, stop. 8:45, stop. Halfway through the last mile, I finally reached the oasis we call Mud Island park. Within it lies the spring of life-- you know, that water fountain at the south end. I drank approximately 37 ounces of water and waited until my heart rate came down under 150... and waited, and waited. It wasn't budging until I got in a more horizontal position, so I surrendered and draped myself over the railing. It worked, at least until I stood upright again, and up shot my heart rate. At that point I'd had all I could stand. I gave up, started running again, and somehow plodded along another mile and a half to my apartment. Mission accomplished!

Collapsing onto the floor after shedding approximately 18 pounds of wet clothing, I also shed any aspirations of an age-group award, Kona slot, PR, or thoughts that I may actually run the entire marathon in Florida. I sought to regain hope by checking the weather. Darn it, it was only 90 degrees! 50% humidity, yes, but 90? Nothing to complain about.

In the days since The Meltdown, I feel I've redeemed myself with a negative split 1000 in the pool, and an effortless bike and run. I'm hoping I will be limiting these meltdowns to, say, one per Ironman. But with 8.5 weeks yet to go, that may be a long shot.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sometimes you do things...

...when you're out of town that you wouldn't normally do. Yeah, I'll admit it. I got back to the master's swim practice at lunch again today, and they were already about halfway finished with the workout. One hundred yards or so was all the preparation I got before the first challenge. I dove off the blocks. Goggles filled, I stopped and emptied them. Haven't done that since college, and somehow in those races I managed to keep the seals tight, no leakage. Maybe it was the way I pulled those straps so tight my eyes were about to bug out of the sockets.

Next up, I demonstrated not only my breaststroke for the coach, but also my backstroke. He'd already seen my fly on Tuesday. Not many people get to see me do anything other than freestyle, much less all 4 competitive strokes. Thankfully there was no sidestroke or trudgeon requests. I'm sure it was quite a sight, seeing me struggle to complete my "weakest strokes," 100 yards at a time, on 2:20 (shut up! it was hard!).

I did get lots of tips from Dirk; probably more in 30 minutes than I've gotten in the last 3 years combined. He pulled his chair up to the end of my lane to coach, correct, and complement. "Joy, freestyle is NOT your worst stroke." I said, "thanks!" then quickly realized that I had just done most of a 100 of backstroke. "No, backstroke is." Hmmm, that somehow doesn't surpise me. "Your breaststroke isn't bad, and... I'm not going to judge your fly." Ok, two out of four is nothing to be ashamed of, especially since I only use one in races! I'm pretty sure he was laughing at me while I made my flopping attempt down the lane and back, but that's ok, because I was laughing at myself too! That didn't help the water stay out of my mouth.

Too bad I'm missing tomorrow's practice. It's Friday Relay Day. I can only imagine the potential embarrassment I could face there. Sounds like fun!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

adventures in dallas

Today was my second full day in the lovely Dallas, which I really haven't spent much time in before. I do like the city! Things in Texas really are bigger. The interstate, which I avoid, is about six lanes, but has a four lane frontage road all the way down each side. That's my choice for my short commute. (They are serious about their HOV lanes here. They put barriers between it and the other lanes!) The buildings are huge, the Galleria mall is enormous, and the flock of birds (partridges?) in the pear trees outside my hotel has a population of about 37,000. Really, it sounds like you're in an aviary right by the front door. Only in the evenings though. Apparently these birds don't catch the worms.

My classes are going pretty well, and it's always interesting to meet new people in similar career paths to your own. The guy who sits next to me in the course (in our voluntary assigned seats-- isn't that funny how you sit in the exact place each day? Except for that one girl who messes everyone up..), has already pegged me as the one who eats all day. How can you not when they not only provide free snacks, but they keep changing them on you? Every time I walk into the break room there's something new! Almonds, animal crackers, s'mores granola bars. Pretty exciting.

One thing that I'm not too fond of is group projects. I don't know why really. It seems so much time is wasted just discussing things, when really everyone should just do what I say! :) Today my group wanted to get a head start (dontcha hate those people?) on the project by working during lunch, but I had to be the one to opt out in favor of a swim. The swim was fantastic! I managed to get in on a master's practice in the outdoor pool. Dirk, the coach, was quick to give me needed tips and invite me back for the rest of the week. I enjoyed getting beaten by a bunch of old men!

One of my classmates noticed me running yesterday, swimming today, and started asking questions. Then my cover was blown. The marathon runner in class overheard, and now she defers to me, the "Ironmaner," when someone questions "why?" or "how many miles is that?" I showed them my stuff when we practiced racewalking technique (I have no idea what that was all about), and whooped up on the granny next to me. She came up beside me, trying to pass, so I gave her the elbow. :) No, no, kidding! I just tripped her. Must be reigning champion. Must be reigning champ...

Oh what will tomorrow bring?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Workout Dread

I don't dread riding my bike in the rain, if I use this definition of dread: verb 1. to fear greatly; be in extreme apprehension of. No, it's more like this one: 2. to be reluctant to do, meet, or experience. Another word comes to mind with the concept of riding in a summer downpour: ugh.

Yesterday evening, not being able to put off the workout any longer, Nancy and I saddled up under the threatening clouds to the west AND south of us (we had two out of four possible directions for the wind to be blowing covered). One mile out we passed Mary Cay on her way back in. "Take an umbrella," is all she said in passing. Approximately 3 minutes later, the rain came. It wasn't a light sprinkle that slowly dampens your back. No occasional large droplets splattering on your helmet and glasses. It wasn't raining one minute, and it was pouring the next. While I try my best to avoid riding in the rain for those reasons such as visibility (I like to see the potholes before I hit them, and I like drivers to see me before they hit me), or frequent flats (I had two last week already), or that soggy cold feeling you get in the late fall rides that causes you to shake uncontrollably from hypothermia, once you get soaked down and take off your glasses, it's really not so bad. Especially if you have a friend with you to commiserate.

Neither of us wanted to be the wimp who called the ride early. "What's your minimum mileage for the day?" I asked Nancy, or whoever that figure was that I could barely make out through my flooded eyes. "I have none," she responded (thank you!). "So how far should we go?" I had to be the first to pose the question. We decided to make it at least to the white church, and if it "stopped raining," defined as "we can actually see again," then we'd go a bit further. Well, the later happened and we had quite an enjoyable ride. See Joy? Nothing to dread. And it was waaaaaay better than riding the trainer. Talk about dread!

As I start real Ironman training, I know I'll dread some workouts. They never turn out to be as bad as you anticipate, though, do they? And as Laura keeps reminding me, don't write the book before it happens.

It could have been worse. Much worse.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

And you thought your knees hurt.

My legs were killing me after the Degray Lake 1/2 Ironman last Saturday, which I survived for the 6th time. Everyone these days is raving over compression socks for recovery, and it makes sense, so I went out and bought some and wore them around Jenny and Tim's house all weekend after the race. Sunday morning Jackson came in to show me his outfit. "Look Joy!" He showed me his latest accessory: white knee socks, just like mine.

This may be one of those Tipping Point moments (you know that book? I've started it). A fad catches on with certain key people just before it becomes a major trend, or in this case, a fashion statement.

I only thought I was in pain this past weekend. Can you imagine having just turned 40 and facing a bilateral total knee replacement? My friend Melissa has probably just come out of surgery as I write this. She's going to blog about her experience, and the pain-free life she lives after surgery. Just last December when she was in town, she showed me how she had been relearning to jump. Several inches off the floor she hopped, and then she admitted that it caused her pain. She was surprised that I didn't feel any pain jumping. I take my joints for granted until I think of Melissa and what she has quietly suffered for so many years, not even knowing that most people don't go through that pain when doing what we consider "normal" activities. Here's to your fast recovery and our future training for the NYC marathon, Melissa!

Speaking of funny knees, little Jackson was fascinated when we saw the flamingoes at the Little Rock zoo on Sunday. "He broke!" Jackson exclaimed when he saw the birds standing on one leg, the other one tucked away into its feathers. After I explained it to him, he got good at imitating them upon request:

The only part he doesn't have down is the backward bend of the knee, like a real flamingo.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

DeGray Lake Half Story

(Edit/update: I realized as I rode my bike across this dam on Saturday that it's not the same one we run across. Thankfully.)

This weekend will mark the 7th anniversary of my first Lake Degray half Ironman. I haven't done it every year since, but it will be my sixth time. Wow, I can't believe I've been doing these things so long. The picture is of the dam that we will run across FOUR times during the 13.1 miles. Notice the lack of shade.

This race makes me a little nervous (see above), but makes my mom really nervous, and not because she's participating. She used to come to my early races to make sure I got out of the lake alive. Now that she's sure I can swim, she only really worries about this mid-August race in the middle of Arkansas. Right Mom?

It's all because of what happened that first time, in 2001, when I was attempting my 2nd ever 1/2 Ironman. It was the inaugural Lake Degray 1/2 that year; I'd learn later never to race inaugural anything again (after IMCDA '03). As stupid as it sounded to be doing a 5+ hour race when the temperatures wouldn't be below 85 at 6 a.m., several of us from Memphis decided to give it a try.

It was hot from the start, yes, but all went well until the run. You can only expect a hilly course in that part of the state (or any part west of Crowley's Ridge, I think), and we weren't disappointed. I recall only a few things about the run other than the hills. First, it was hot, and we had little shade. I know I peed behind a truck a couple miles in (this was important to me later). The water stops weren't prepared. There was no ice, nothing but ambient-temperature water and Gatorade. When you're trying to decide between 95 degree water and 95 degree Gatorade, you'll probably pick the water. At one point at about the 8 mile mark, I caught my teammate Jon who was doing the same shuffle I was. He helpfully gave me a push (literally), but I remember almost stumbling because my legs couldn't react that fast. And that's it; that's all I really recall from the run.

When I finished, I'm sure I didn't look so great, not unlike any of the other competitors out there. My friend Tim convinced me that I'd feel much better if I got an IV from the med tent, so off I went for my post-race hydration. I remember showering after that, in the spray from the fire hose set up near transition. I remember eating a chicken salad sandwich, since there was no pizza left by then. The next thing I remember was getting highly annoyed with the race director during the awards. I had received mine, and I was waiting for Tim to get his so he could drive me back to Jenny's house in Little Rock. But the dude decided to stop right before Tim's age group to give away t-shirts. "We don't want t-shirts, we want to get this over with!" I actually yelled at him, loud enough for him to very likely hear. Tim looked at me quizzically and told me to calm down, but by that time, the electrolyte imbalance had taken over my brain, and, apparently, my tongue. I think I made a few more comments to him, feeling unusually agitated (not that I usually am), before we finally got the awards over with and I headed back to the med tent for two more bags of fluid. By the time we finally left the race, I was uncomfortable just sitting in the car. I had an incredible headache, I felt bloated, and I just hurt. I know I called and left Mom and Dad a message on the way home that said, "I'm alive, but barely." I had no idea what was happening to me.

Memories are even hazier from the time I got to Jenny and Tim's. They very smartly tried to force feed me soup and chips, which I generally turned away with disgust. I took a nap. Tim thought I was fine, so he left. I think it was around 10 p.m., 9 hours since I finished the race, when I was still feeling awful, and really worrying my poor sister and brother-in-law. We called the race doctor (she'd given me her number just in case), who was a resident at the local hospital in Little Rock, and she told us to meet her in the ER. For how much it hurt, we may well have driven there completely off-road in Tim's car; I remember the bumping around and the pain it caused me.

In the hospital, I was quickly hooked up to an IV (good thing I have lots of visible veins), and asked lots of questions. The poor nurse would start a sentence, and by the end of it, I had forgotten what she asked. She gave me some anti-nausea meds, and very soon after, I threw up all over her. I apologized to the orderly who had to clean up the mess.

At some point they took my clothes, put me in a gown, hooked me up to an EKG and inserted a catheter. They asked more questions, like "What year is it?" I remember answering quickly so they wouldn't think anything was wrong with me. My answer: 1991. Actual year: 2001. "Who is the President?" Totally a trick question! I got Bush right, but then they asked "father or son?" Come on, they're both fathers and both sons! I should've gotten credit for that one! I knew Jenny and Tim's names, and what I was doing in Arkansas. Then came "how old are you?" "Four, I mean eight," was my response. (Wrong again. I was 24.) My little sister Megan was flattered by this response, because it refers to a story about her. When she was 8, someone asked her, "are you four?" and her response was, "no, I'm eight." Apparently, that's at the top of my subconscious.

At some point I developed tremors and got annoyed with the doctor for asking how long I'd had them. I didn't even notice them until then, plus I couldn't understand what she said when she asked how long I'd been shaking. "Tracing?" "Shaking." "Trekking?" "Shaking." "Oh."

Twelve hours, 2 CT scans, one ultrasound, 9 liters of fluid (18.5 pounds), 11 billion needle sticks, and one trip to LR by my parents later, I got discharged. When my shorts wouldn't button the next morning, my mom said, "Your face is a little puffy too." Little did I know that all this fluid would be excreted small amounts at a time, every 20 minutes, for the next few days. I'm sorry I don't have pictures. My normal outie belly button was a horizontal slit.

At the time I was about to start my second semester in grad school, working on my master's in exercise physiology. This experience obviously interested me for many reasons. I don't remember how I concluded that it was hyponatremia, but before I even got a copy of my labs, I had decided that my symptoms fit perfectly. Bloating, headache, irritability (yay! it wasn't just my personality!), and tremors are all symptoms. Vomiting in this case was due to the brain swelling that was caused by the sodium imbalance. Symptoms that I thankfully did not experience were grand mal seizures, coma, respiratory failure, and death. Unfortunately, at that same race the following year, a 27-year-old man died of hyponatremia. Jon, the one who had pushed me, remembers talking to him as he lay there in the grass and coughed (his lungs were probably filling with fluid, which would later cause respiratory failure). How sad that this is a preventable thing, when an athlete is aware of and careful about their electrolyte intake during long distance races. Unfortunately, race directors seem to be very naive about this condition. Last year at Degray, in fact, the race director stood up at the pre-race meeting telling us it would be hot, so "drink, drink, drink!" This is precisely what gets so many people in trouble. Medical personnel often don't have the knowledge to diagnose and treat exercise-induced hyponatremia properly.

The reasons why the kidneys are not capable of excreting this extra fluid is still not clear; it seems to be because of an inappropriate secretion of anti-diuretic hormone (ADH). Those who are most susceptible include women, smaller people, slower runners (hey! I wasn't running slow. ok, maybe..), and those who exercise over 4 hours at a time. This can include marathoners, as I'm sure you've heard. Normal sodium levels are around 135-145 mmol/L. Serious, life-threatening hyponatremia is usually <=125, but sometimes symptoms (and death) can occur at levels much higher, and sometimes not until levels much lower. Mine was 127 during my first set of labs in the hospital; a few hours later, and many ounces of normal saline later, it had fallen to 125.

I have recently read that people suffering from heat illnesses are sometimes the last to realize that they are having symptoms. So watch out for your friends (and me-- just kidding mom, I've got it covered) at races and make sure if you see any signs of hyponatremia or heat illness appear, you alert the medical staff!

And that's my story.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Coffee Club To Go

Some mornings you can live without your car, but can't live without your coffee.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Not good enough, huh?

I love my car. I've had it now for 9 1/2 years, and it's treated me very well. But I can't figure out what about it screams, "Break into me! I have loads of valuables inside!" From afar, my little white Explorer seems a bit plain. No flashy rims, neon lights shining out from underneath, no fancy gold-chain-rimmed license plate, nothing. Getting a little closer, you'll see the headlights are held in place by little strips of clear packing tape. There are a few dings here and there, and the rear windshield wiper is all wacky and bent; it's never worked.
But peering through the untinted windows, you will see many items of value: an array of workout clothing and accessories, and even a couple of trophies. People, that's not real gold on the trophies, even though it shines. Not worth stealing. Two or three swimsuits hang from the hook over the back seat (size 30, if you're interested), the swim bag is on the back floorboard (yes, this is valuable, unless you don't swim laps, then you'll just look goofy), and there is a spare pair of running shoes, nice and dirty. If you're so desperate that you need my stinky trail shoes, have at 'em.

In the far back is a crate containing some spare bike tubes, a couple of water bottles, and an old sheet for bike padding. Now those things are of real value. If you know what to do with the spare tubes, you just might need a couple, given the large amounts of glass on the streets of Memphis. If it's the plastic water bottles you want, please keep in mind that they are trying to link increased cancer risk to the use of those things. But I know, they're so expensive! I only get one for each $150 race I sign up for. So go ahead, take those, I've got plenty. You might even get a little leftover gatorade in there if you're lucky.

Maybe it was something up front that caught your eye yesterday. I do have a nice pair of pliers next to my lipgloss in the cup holder. Or was it the pedometer that was the lure? People need to know how many steps it takes them to get from Mrs Winners to the Mapco, don't they? I can't blame you; I'd like to know, too. I figured out what you were really going for yesterday. It was the recyclables! I have quite a treasure of aluminum cans that you can get, what, 5 cents each for?

But none of the contents of my car was quite what you wanted, was it? Nope, once you busted the lock, opened the door, adjusted my seat, and took a look around, my personal possessions were just not quite worthy of your high standards. Ok, I understand. But I just have one request for you: next time, can you at least move the seat back to where you found it? Yeah, thanks.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Race Report: The Inaugural LTCM

I spent last weekend on the shores of Lake Toxaway, NC, with some great friends from college. We ate gourmet meals (thanks to Grant), relaxed on the pier in the sunshine, danced to some incredible bluegrass music, and raced against each other once again.

It was somewhat of an impromptu race; RJ, Grant and I scoped out the course just hours before the event. It seemed to be measured to the official distance, the transition areas were sufficient, the weather couldn't be better. We talked through the logistics and returned home, knowing we would be back to conquer this course that afternoon.

This multisport race actually consisted of many segments, but only two events: the run and the "transition." Lucky for me, one of my best events is transition, and if you're ever on Athlinks, look for my green boxes. These transitions, however, required some skill that I hadn't practiced in, well, years. But I was ready to suck it up and do the best I could.

The time came for the race to begin. We loaded up our supplies in RJ's car and headed the mile and a half over to the track. First we set up the transition area to provide us with the best flow possible, then came the warm up. There was some stretching of the running muscles, some pullups to warm up the curling muscles, and some pre-race photos taken for later entertainment (coming soon). The starting line was drawn and the race banner scratched in the dirt. The clock was set up and we took our spots by the starting line. Tabs were pulled and a toast to the old days of chunder was made just before our official timer counted down to "GO!"

I threw my head back and chugged like I did when I was a young 22. The Miller Light went down smoothly for a few seconds, until Grant admired my impressive skills and commented, "Joy, you have a problem!" A snort of laughter interrupted me and I had to stop for a gulp of air. RJ was off on his first lap! I finished those last few ounces amid incredible belches (these beers are not flat), and followed him out, about 50 yards back. At the first corner I turned around briefly to see Grant following closely, and he was gaining on me. I held my pace and kept him behind me going into T2. By that time the Spinnenwebers had arrived to provide support and more documentation in the form of photos and video. The cheering helped as I lost some time to RJ on the second beer. That guy has been stealth training his chugging! Grant came into T2 while I was still drinking and reminded me of a horrendous gastric event from the night before (not my own), in his attempt to sabotage my chug. It did cost me a gag, but haha, not enough to make me lose my ground on him.

RJ was increasing the gap on me and I had nothing to lose coming into T3. I popped the can open and downed that ML like a man dying of thirst in the desert and took off for another lap. I maintained my distance behind him this time, concerning myself more with closing in on him than keeping Grant at bay (sorry Grant). The last beer went down easily and I was almost within striking distance of first place. The Tornado glanced over his shoulder at his first opportunity, and I knew he was worried. Again, 100 yards later, he couldn't help but check again. I knew he was hurting, and I was gaining on him, running as fast as I do in a track workout. But alas, he was a middle distance runner in college, a sprinter compared to me, and I knew if I got too close, he would pull out the fast twitch fibers and turn on the jets. I rounded the last corner too far back to challenge, but in just the right spot to make him nervous for next year. Grant was still on beer 4 when I came across the finish line, so he was my official timer before he ran a solo lap to round out the podium. The race results aren't finalized until 5 minutes after crossing the line. A chunder results in a DQ, and I'm happy to say we were all official finishers.

I think I recorded a new PR in the Inaugural Lake Toxaway Chunder Mile. I was only 11 seconds back from RJ, second place overall. Success all around.

One mile run + 48 oz of beer = 9:23. Of this I am proud.

Monday, July 28, 2008

You know, give or take...

We're doing exercise assessments for a big group this week, so I formatted a document into which data is merged to create a results letter. I especially liked this part:

"Based on your skinfold measurements, your body fat makes up approximately 28.178585887780969% of your body weight. You have approximately 36.632161654115265 pounds of body fat."

Approximately. Like +/- 3%.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Couple of Weekend Races

Since they didn't give me the chance to give my acceptance speech at Mightymite on Saturday, I'll just put it here.

I'd like to thank all my supporters for making the 2008 Mightymite a success for me. First, thank you, BlueSeventy, for making the speedsuit that saved me 10 seconds in the swim and took me 30 seconds to get off. Thanks to the buoy guys, who didn’t make the swim any longer than they did. Alyson, thanks for not hitting me back in the swim after I smacked you directly in the butt. Thank you, Forest City, for putting the community college (T2) uphill from town (the finish line). I'd like to thank the burger cookers for the delicious post race meal, and Fred, the newspaper reporter, for not making a face when I shook his hand with sweat pouring off me. Thanks to my team for helping me ride, in team TT fashion, the bike course faster during cooldown than I rode during the race. And lastly, thanks to whomever invented ice for helping my core temp get down below 104.

Now most importantly, I'd like to congratulate Laura, Barb, Gayle, Charlie, Brian, Tim, Mason, Matt, Gary, Brandon, and Elroy on their Ironman finishes in Lake Placid yesterday. Way to go you guys!! They are my heros for toughing out the 14 hour downpour that tried to drown them during the race. I think I was more excited for them than I will be for myself racing in <15 weeks (gak!).

Damie brought her laptop to Otherlands where we camped out for about 4 hours watching the streaming video of the live finishes (while Damie successfully studied). We got to see Charlie come in looking like he'd love nothing more than a nap; Tim crash into the arms of the finish line volunteers; Matt look like he wasn't quite sure where he was; and Mason smiling like he wanted to keep going. Then they kicked us out of Otherlands. Here is Damie and the finish line, immediately post-Charlie:

Great job you guys! I'm so proud of you! I'll be expecting race reports soon.

And it costs $30K per month to cool this place

You know it's too cold in your office when you have to sit in your car, which has been outside in the sunny 99 degree heat for 7 hours, for a good 5 minutes before you thaw out.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Black and Blue

I feel like I've had my share of bruises lately-- bruised elbow, hip, feelings, ego. They are all similar in many ways. They hurt really bad at first, but slowly start to heal. The moment you forget about them, you bang that sore spot against something and the pain surfaces again. Sometimes you even test it out by pushing on it, or thinking about it. But each day you realize that it hurts a little bit less, almost imperceptibly less, but still less than the day before. Soon it will fade to green, then yellow, and before long be a distant memory.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Working at a Non-Profit

If you've ever worked for a non-profit organization, you know what I mean. Sometimes you get what you ask for, but it's slightly different than you pictured. My friend Sheila asked for a 4 drawer filing cabinet, and she got it!