Monday, June 30, 2008

Mosquito Magnet

The little blood suckers love me. And apparently I'm making it easier for them to find me. It seems that exercise does it. (And so does drinking alcohol, but I don't do that outside as much as I exercise.) Body temperature, carbon dioxide, and lactic acid are all attractors to mosquitoes, say some researchers. And all along I was just thinking it was my sweet blood! To ward them off, I'll start sitting around in shadeless, vegetationless areas, wearing dark-colored, long sleeve shirts and no perfume, holding my breath, and keeping my core temperature down. That last part, keeping cool, should be real easy to do in the Memphis summer in the scorching sun wearing a long sleeved black shirt. I'm doomed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

5Ks and Berry Pickings

This past weekend I spent with my great aunt Ethelyn. Friday night I went down to Senatobia for the annual 5 Star City 5K race. Two years ago at this race the lack of course monitors caused Mike to run an extra mile loop, finishing about 15 places back from his deserved second overall. I realized my mistake about 50 yards past the last turn to the finish, and watched Mike run off into the sunset as I made my way to the chute. Last year the course was slightly different, with more directional signs, but apparently my choice in pre-race meals and lack of sufficient bathroom time led me to take a quick break about 2 1/4 miles into it. Luckily the field was so sparse that I was not caught in the act. This year, in effort to ward off any urge for a potty break, I ran the entire course beforehand (map in hand, making sure I knew the route), and even did some strides. I made three trips to the restroom pre-race, surely giving myself more than enough opportunity.

After the usual pre-race announcements and the starter's offical "GO," I watched as two young girls sprinted into the lead, forcing my adrenaline to spike and my heart rate to jump. I know I shouldn't be worried about girls in soffe shorts with "LOVE" printed across the butt, but for some reason, I still was. Patience, patience. Sure enough, the fastest sprinter I caught within 200 meters of the start, when she slowed to almost a walk. The other girl paced herself a little better and didn't slow until the first big uphill at 1/3 mile. With that taken care of, all I had to worry about was warding off the bathroom break. I kept my eyes on Harry the whole time, zoning out while watching him run steadily 200 yards in front of me. As I approached the baseball field which we would make a large loop around, I thought it was my imagination that caused the feelings of stomach rumblings. This was the spot last year, where the inevitable happened. As I made my way to the backside of the field, I was sure it wasn't just my imagination anymore. Like some Pavlovian effect, I was desperate to squat next to that same tree that I had used for cover last year. A quick look behind me showed that Ben was only 20 seconds back. This would never work. I must spare him (and myself) the embarrassment of seeing my bare behind crouched down here in the grass. It's only another 3/4 of a mile. I can make it, I can make it, I can make it...

Finally FINALLY the finish line came into view up the last long hill. All I could think about was the mortifying picture of some man finishing some marathon having obviously NOT stopped when he should have. I crossed the finish line, grabbed my card, ignored the water lady, threw my card into the hands of the confused card sorter lady, and kept on running straight to the bathroom. I ended up running very even mile splits and maybe even speeding up that last mile. If that's what it takes to run a PR... er, well then, I don't ever need a new one.

The next morning Ethelyn took me out to the local blueberry farm where you can pick your own berries. We got a nice crop of about a gallon. Being the blueberry snobs that we now are, we found them to be smaller than we liked, so we headed up to another farm that boasted 4000 bushes. Another gallon later, it was hot and we were hungry (for something other than blueberries-- pick one, eat one, pick one...), so we headed home. I've had blueberries on my oatmeal, in smoothies, plain of course, in yogurt, in blueberry muffins, and I'll be eating them for days to come! They're good for your memory too, as I recall. :)
I had to take pictures of our efforts:

And just to show how big these things are (I have smallish hands, but still, these are huge!):

Monday, June 16, 2008

My First Relay

Saturday was my first triathlon relay, that is. The memories of 4x400s on the track and IM relays (ok, relay, singular-- I did it once) in the pool are still taking up a few micrograms of brain space. But Dragonfly Triathlon was my big debut in the tri relay world. My plan for the day was to get a total of 75 minutes of running in, so I was going to do 30 before, close to 30 during the 4.2 mi race, and 15 afterward. It was so much fun watching the race, which really resembled a Memphis interteam race, that I got a late start on my warmup.

Here we have Forrest, who was warming up for his relay, while Robby was out riding and Bill had already swum. Mary Cay (which of these things is not like the other?) had swum with her stepson Alex and was going to also run after Terrence finished the bike. My team consisted of Michelle (the photographer) who has injured her poor knees so badly that she's taking a little time off from cycling and running, along with speedster Cheryl, the cyclist, whose time to completion I grossly overestimated. Sorry Cheryl! I didn't really calculate how long one would take on the bike and just gave you a general 45-60 minutes! Cheryl, individually a grandmaster, biked the 5th fastest female time of the day (and was 15 seconds from the two ahead of her).

I decided to shorten my 30 minute warm up to 20, just in case Cheryl was faster than I guessed, and thankfully, I reached transition about 15 seconds before she did. I hollered out that I was almost ready as she approached. Luckily I'd brought my elastic-laced racing flats that I slipped into before strapping on the chip and taking off like a sprinter off the blocks.

So I might have been a little too enthusiastic in the first mile of the run. I was passing people like they had just ridden 18 miles and I hadn't... oh yeah. So I had NO excuse to have a bad run. All was good until the second mile, which consisted of fresh piles of mulch laid the day before on an uphill trail through the woods. Scenic and fresh-scented, yes; fast, no. I kept telling myself that this was just a 4 mile race, and I COULD NOT walk the water stops like usual (hi my name is Joy and I walk water stops), but by the time I got to the second one, I was practically walking up the hill anyway. I dumped a cup of water over my head, drank another one, realized that it was actually HEED, and picked up the pace again. Short uphills followed by quick downhills kept me on my toes (literally) the next bit, and with about a mile and a half to go, I found relief in the form of a downhill.

It was fun passing people, and I heard several remarks of relief when they saw the R on the back of my calf. The last mile is down a long stretch of road, and I could see Deb, a Los Locos teammate, in the distance. I heard several "go get her"s to which I tried to respond, "I'm a relay," which came out more like a long sigh. I did manage to creep up on her enough that by the last 200m she was within reach. She heard me coming and started to sprint (and she was a sprinter in high school, I know, because she was my teammate then too!), I pushed it, caught up, and we crossed the finish line together. I was thankful that I wasn't actually racing her head-to-head, since she got the official victory, and she's in my age group.

My team won 1st place in the Female Relay division, in a time that placed us tied for 4th overall (ok, 5th; like I said, Deb officially beat me). I was so proud of my Los Locos; the men had 8 of the 10 top spots, and the women had 6 of the top 10. It was a fun Memphis triathlete party afterward with the Terrapins, Thunder, and lots of new or unattached people. My first relay experience was a complete success, except for my slow run time. Next time, maybe I'll bring my bike for a good little warm up before the run..

Me, Michelle and Deb post race.

Friday, June 13, 2008

140.6 Reasons

Today marks 140 days out from my next Ironman, that one in Florida on November 1st. Following Laura's suggestion, I'm going to post one reason to do an Ironman each day, every day until then. Check out my side bar for Bob Mina's famous list of 140.6 Reasons to do an Ironman. Some of these may be a little out of date, or irrelevant to your particular Ironman, but you get the idea. (You can peek at the list early if you want, but it would be way more fun to check back every so often for new ones!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back in the Saddle

Last week's training consisted of the following:

--Tuesday: rode mountain bike to and from work; total of 10 miles

--Wednesday: climbed four flights of stairs, very big flights

--Friday: swam 2200 yds, with lots of breaks; totalled 1 hour

--Saturday: rode bike for 45 minutes to Overton Park and back; totalling about 13 miles.

I'm excited to be doing some running and swimming and cycling this week. I've already noticed a huge increase in my hunger from 2 hours of training in 2 days. Yay! I love to eat! To accompany my appetite, I have very sore hamstrings that apparently very quickly adapted to the sedentary lifestyle.

Surprisingly, I kept my butt from expanding beyond my pants' circumference; so Damie, I'll be keeping those smaller tri shorts after all. The weight stayed with a pound or so of normal (this-time-of-year-normal (a.k.a. early-summer-sprint-season-normal), which is vastly different from post-Ironman-normal, which is still different from I've-gained-all-that-weight-back-since-IM-and-now-I'm-in-hibernation-mode-until-spring-normal).

I feel like I've really accomplished something, staying sane and taking a whole week off. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and I kind of enjoyed it, actually. It's funny that at work I spend lots of time convincing people to stop sitting on their couches and do more exercise, but in my own life I have to psyche myself up for taking time off. Maybe this recovery thing should become a regular event for me so that I better understand where my clients are coming from. It's all about empathy.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

In Case You Haven't Noticed

I have a large head. According to, there are 140 possible causes of "Large Head." I like to think in my case there's lots of brain in there to contain. Because of this large noggin that can be somewhat hard to camouflage (hard as I've tried with lots of curly hair), I'm excited about the latest must-have piece of equipment in our little world of triathlon: aero helmets. They (in this case, Tom Demerly from say that an aero helmet saves more time for the money than race wheels. My helmet benefits me in multiple ways. Not only do I gain 3-6 minutes in an Ironman, but I can also hide the true size of my head by blaming it on the helmet.

It seems that at the beginning of the race season each year, I have a wake up call in the form of race pictures. I forget that these little pieces of history will be available for years to come to anybody who happens to know my last name. Thank you ASI Photo! No really, thank you ASI, for reminding me to try not to scare the children spectating at these races. And just so everyone knows, I got a great deal on my Giro (I think they have a hard time selling the XLs).

Look! I've found someone who can borrow my helmet.

Veggie Alien

Monday, June 2, 2008

Rock and Roll

4 down, 0 to go for my May races (good thing, since May's over). Finally, they're all complete and I can take a little time to rest.

Prerace: Damie and I went down to Macon on Friday morning for her very first half-Ironman, the Rock and Roll Man. We spent the entire day driving, stopped in traffic, or waiting in registration lines. After our delicious Subway dinner we went to bed pretty early. I had to get my rest before my alarm went off at 3:50 a.m. central time!! Ok, so we were on eastern time, but that's really early to my sleep-loving body. We got to the race site in plenty of time to get everything ready, finish eating breakfast, take a nap in the car, stand in porta potty line, and even get in a swim warm up.

Swim: The water temperature was off by one and a half degrees. It was 77.5, and I needed it to be 79. In the days leading up to the race, even race morning, I was hoping for a wetsuit-legal swim. I got my wish, but changed my mind about it around 400 yards into the swim. Who would have guessed that swimming in a full body, black neoprene suit and a black cap in the Georgia morning sun would get me overheated? Not I. Every 10th stroke or so during the "one loop affair" (as was stated on the website), I had to maneuver my arm to the neck of my suit to open it up to let in some refreshing cool water. I blame this for my swim time: 36:30. They actually added part of transition into the swim times, like I need it to look any slower than it was. Transition started with a 400m jog up a very large steep hill, after you got out of the ankle deep sand on the beach. A good little anaerobic effort to warm me up for the bike!

Bike: I thought this was a great course with rolling hills and smoothly paved roads. None of the hills were as bad as I expected, although they were constant for the most part. I kept holding back in anticipation of larger hills to come, but they never appeared. I only saw one guy drafting the whole time, and I actually kept my mouth shut this time. At the end of the ride, I felt like I could've pushed it a little harder and gone a few minutes fast than my 2:45.

Run: There was no shade except for the small patches of tree shadows dotting the other side of the road, but I felt great during at least the first 3 miles of the run anyway. At about 5 miles, just as I was feeling a meltdown coming on, I saw a small blue suited runner coming the other direction. Just the one I'd been looking for-- Damie! She was looking really strong and gave me a good yell. I think I gave her a pathetic "good job" or something, all I could muster at that point. There were 3 turnarounds on the run course. The first one was long enough that I could see who was in front of me. By that point, there were only 2 women, way ahead. I had recently passed a couple others, one in my age group, and one younger, and they were hanging on strong behind me. By the short turnarounds at miles 8 and 9, I was feeling good enough to have some competitiveness. Doing timechecks in my head (I'm so bad at math when running), I calculated that I may be able to hold off Kelly, a really fast runner coming up behind me, but there was some new girl blazing through the miles and getting awfully close. The finish line came just in time, and I held my place. Actually one of the girls in front of me, an injured pro, DNFed and I moved up to second! Kirsten, the winner, had no need to worry about me, since I was 18 minutes behind her. Run 1:44, total 5:10.

I think I have these 5:05-5:15 half IM times nailed down. Now I'd like to see some consistency in the sub-5 range!

Damie did awesome, finishing up very strong with a 7 minute last mile! She broke her goal time by 20 minutes, got 3rd in her age group, and was barely even sore Sunday. She's destined for a great full Ironman this fall, I'm sure of it.

I'm stealing Damie's picture for my post too! :)