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.