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!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Staying Upright

I can still picture that hill. It was near the back entrance of our neighborhood in Mobile, and it was about a 20% grade; at least in the eyes of a 7-year-old. I stood at the top of it straddling my bike, scared to let go. Realizing that my mom and Jenny weren't waiting for me up ahead, I went for it. In between the steep downhill and the matching uphill immediately following was a small patch of sand, which I rode directly toward. With little experience riding in sand, I thought nothing of making my path right through it, and immediately crashed.

Probably a year later, with my big bike with the curved handlebars, banana seat, and license plate on the front basket that read "JOY" and underneath that "Heart of Dixie," I remember falling in the driveway on my left elbow, leaving a scar that still remains.

The very first time I rode with my new clipless pedals, I came to a stop, unclipping my right foot. I landed on my left knee.

Before my first olympic distance race, almost exactly 10 years ago, I was riding a huge 20-miler when I hit some gravel and sprawled out in the middle of the street. I got the left elbow and left hip. I did get up and ride the 2 miles home while crying.

One winter I was riding up to a stop sign and the car in front of me wouldn't just go! I had to come to a stop, but my pedal refused to let go of my shoe. I fell on my left hip in slow motion. The swim coach asked who had been beating me when he saw the bruises up and down my quad.
The most dramatic fall was probably during Heart of Dixie several years ago when some guy came around and clipped me. I splayed out in the oncoming traffic on my, you guessed it, left side. I was fired up then, and managed to finished 2nd place. She beat me by 14 seconds.

I rolled a flat tire a year ago while I was warming up for a 5k. I was travelling at about 2 mph when I fell. My left shoulder felt that one.

I sit here now with a bandaged left elbow and hip. It's funny that the skin came off in some of the exact spots that were already scarred from some past wrecks. This time slick pavement and cornering too fast were to blame (in other words: my bike handling). There was a new sensation when I made it to my feet. Not fear of riding, like when I hit the sand, or embarrassment when I fell at the stop sign with dozens watching, and not anger like during the race; no, this was purely physical. It was a combination of light-headedness and nausea that concerned me. I pushed aside the urge to lie back down, knowing I just needed to get home. Some painkillers, a shower, and a beer later, I felt much better and was able to sleep soundly, one hour at a time.

I know I've been really lucky to avoid any major crashes, but it's still hard to not fear even the minor ones. To those doing IMUSA next week, be very careful this week! Go slower than you normally would, don't take risks, be safe!

Everyone have a good safe weekend.


Thursday, July 10, 2008


Real motivation to get out of bed sometimes comes from knowing that awaiting you at the pool at 5:30 a.m. is your source of endorphins for the day, and the prize at the end of the workout is a large coffee and bagel and a dose of good conversation with friends.

Edit: I just read Laura's much more eloquent post about the same topic. :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Weekend Activities

This July 4th long weekend started with a rest day, saving my legs for the organized metric century on the 5th. They keep advertising the Red White and Blue ride as 62 miles, but I know from last year that it's going to be long. There was a nice big group lined up at 7:30 a.m. in a nice thick fog (99% humidity); people of all shapes, sizes, price tags on their bikes, types of bikes even (tri bikes, road bikes, recumbents, cruisers, MTBs) were there. The route was to be a hilly one for Memphis, but I was determined to stay up with the pack of guys from my team and hang on as long as possible.

What fascinates me most on these rides are the group dynamics. You've got people there for the socialization, some for the competition, some have something to prove, some roll their eyes at those silly people on TT bikes; most are probably there for the fun of having a different group to ride with. And the SAGs (side note: I hope to attend the Big Dam Bridge 100 in Little Rock again this year, solely for the cookie stop at 25 and 75 miles-- homemade cookies of all varieties-- in quantities larger than you could ever dream of). I was entertained through the first 37 miles (to the SAG) watching the guys rotate in their paceline in front of me. Sorry to anyone who got stuck behind me and wanted to take a pull. I say no thanks!

Starting back up again after a short break always hurts, but I was managing fine until suddenly, at mile 47, 2:07 into the ride, the lead peleton pulled ahead. I stood to dance on my pedals (how I wish Phil Liggett was narrating my ride), ok, not really, but I tried to pick it up to get back onto the tail end, when another 4 or 5 riders perfectly timed their drop off the back. Thankfully I had someone with me. They actually pulled us back up to the group within another couple minutes. Saved... this time. Just 10 miles later, so close to the end, it happened again. It seemed that I was actually going backward down the hill as I watched them get further and further away. But come on, who can climb every stinkin hill at 23, coast at 27, and cruise on the flats at 30? Ok, those guys can, but not me! Oh but wait! More riders than just myself were OTB again, and being the gentlemen that they were, they pulled me all the way home, to 64.05 miles, 2 hours and 49 minutes (carry the 5, divide by 6... yup, that means we averaged 24.2 for the last 17 miles. No wonder!!). Now if I can just average that in a half Ironman where there are no stop signs and traffic lights, and, oh yeah, no drafting, I'll be happy.

That afternoon Damie and I rehydrated and anti-oxidized ourselves with some delicious strawberry puree, which just happened to be contained within our pitcher of margaritas. They didn't last long:
Cheers to the beginning of our Ironman training!

The training continued on Sunday when we had a great run despite margarita-induced lethargy. We went early in the morning to beat the baking sun, and to my surprise, there were LOTS of people already out there when I arrived at the Farms at 7 a.m. We finished with me looking like I'd jumped in Patriot Lake, minus the duck poop, and Damie cool as a cucumber, barely breaking a sweat. (Not that she's not acclimated to the heat [see post below]-- it just doesn't bother some people like it bothers me. I'm jealous.) On my list of fun things to do will be taking a scale with me next time I have a long run and weighing myself before and after. They say I'm 60% water, just how much of that can I lose (without dying, of course)? To be continued.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

I'm VERY well-adapted

I'm so glad that I'm efficient at something:

"People who are heat adapted sweat sooner and more profusely, allowing their bodies to cool more efficiently."
--interesting article about heat, humidity, and exericse.

I have much more to say about this. Later.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Oh my wakeboarding muscles!

You just can't be in shape to do every sport, all the time, without having some painful after effects. I found out Friday that I am not in wakeboarding shape. Actually I never have been, since this was my second time ever to try it. Here I am 4 days later and I still cringed with every stroke I took in the pool this morning.

I do all this exercise, hours upon hours each week, and the simplest things make me sore. Yes, Mom, my back will hurt if I rake leaves for a couple hours. I know Megan understands from taking a little time off from horsebackriding -- oh those adductors! There IS something to the concept of specificity. I think the cure is more wakeboarding.