Wednesday, December 30, 2009


It's cold outside. It's also cold in my apartment. And now I have a cold. The second one this month! The toughest part about a cold is the difficulty in deciding if you are sick enough to forgo training or not. Is is worth it to possibly make yourself sicker? Or is taking yet another day off just going to exponentially increase that detraining effect? Once again, I get to struggle with these questions daily.

There's an old theory that if your symptoms are above your neck, you're good to run. If below, stay away. I've found that often if the former is true when I start a run, the latter will be true the next day. The viruses are failing to take into account the fact that I am on the verge of signing up for a half marathon; I have some training to do! My compromised immune system is not due to the lack of vitamins I'm taking. On the contrary, I've been very conscientious about those lately, with my wedding coming up in just... (checking  108 days. Every bride-to-be knows that hair and nail growth are of utmost importance at this time. In addition to the vitamin supplementation, I have been eating very well (or um, at least, very copiously), and surely have exceeded my RDI of all the antioxidants and immune system boosters. I had both flu shots, I use my hand sanitizer constantly, and I avoid shaking patients' hands unless they are insistent upon it. So what's the problem, body?!

I'm hoping an escape to (slightly) warmer temperatures on the beach this New Year's weekend will give me just the remedy to my cold. And if not my cold, then my constant coldness!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Christmas Run

Tuesday night, instead of the usual track workout, Paul (track coach extraordinaire and John Denver lookalike) held his 22nd annual Christmas Run. I mentioned it to a friend last week, suggesting he come, forgetting he is Jewish, and he responded with a "I'm not sure a Jewish kid running around and singing carols is a good idea." We actually sang only one carol this year (as we jogged through the local bar), so maybe it could be the Holiday Run with Santa Hats and Small Twinkly Lights. 

This year it consisted of the aforementioned bar jog (we returned later to partake in the specific bar activity of drinking beer), plus another 3 or so miles of too-fast running. We returned to the starting spot, a small golf clubhouse, and awards were given to local runners from the old school days, as well as recent performances. We had a special guest, Dave Wottle, 1972 Munich Olympics 800 meter gold medalist, come out. We watched this awesome video of the race and then the one where Mr. Wottle beats Steve Prefontaine in the mile. I'm pretty proud to have been accepted to Rhodes College, however indirectly, by Mr. Wottle, the Dean of Admissions. Plus I have even known his son Mike since sixth grade. I feel somewhat famous myself because of that. Check out Mike and his wife Sharon's blog over there ---> , the Wottles. I do remember Mike blaming his mom when he didn't win races in track. I guess you have to have some excuse when you're a champion's descendant! 

Along the same lines as our Christmas run is a slightly more risque version, combined with the Kona underpants run. Check out what they do in Boston: the Santa Speedo Run. Looks a lot like this to me. I think I could even wear the same outfit. Especially important would be the compression socks. Brrr.

Another upcoming Memphis event, speaking of running and cold weather, is the annual Parkway run. This is a 17ish mile run around the perimeter of downtown and midtown, more or less. Luckily there are beer and water stops, plus a sag vehicle to pick up those that were a little too ambitious at the start. I've put this one on my calendar (since of course my one 9 miler since September will have me well prepared), but only in pencil, since it's looking like Jenny's third one is less than enthusiastic to enter the cold world from his dark, warm, all-you-can-eat buffet venue. Who can blame him? If he decides to stay warm until next week, it will be a traveling Christmas holiday for me; we'll all go to Little Rock to welcome him, and run some hills of course. 

So that about sums up my holiday running festivities! It's almost Friday!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is it winter already?

I can only imagine what official winter will bring to us. But I know, I really can't complain when Memphis gets into the 40s almost daily (except yesterday). It was a cold windy run downtown last night (and thanks again Nancy- I made her run her second run of the day without a hat or gloves) that marked my return to a running streak. I have had this awful cold and cough for over two weeks, and during that time only managed a smattering of runs. But I'm back! Of course, I guess to be an official "streak" you have to run on consecutive days... hmm..

In other exercise news, I received my first swimming injury on the first day back in the pool in about 3 weeks. It was mostly likely the corner of the yellow rectangular paddle in the next lane over (who thought putting corners on swim paddles was a good idea?) that brought me to tears during our pull set. It's still pretty painful, slightly swollen, and a little bruised. The perpetrator probably knew he did it (especially after I said something to him), but he really doesn't care. He's actually broken a girl's metacarpal the same way. Who knew the dangers of the Fogelman Y morning master's swim class?

Last weekend I partook in the spectating of the St Jude Memphis marathon. I can't decide if the marathon was motivating to me or not. On one hand, it's always fun seeing your friends PR (go Laura, Jonathan, Lindsay, and Bailey!). I get excited about my own training for about a day or so, then realize that there's still quite the temperature gradient between my bed, the hallway, the front door, just outside my door, my car, and the park by the river. I thought about my ideal marathon while I was trying to cheer for the runners in between convulsions of shivers. I'm not sure I'm into this cold weather, wearing-everything-in-your-closet-and-shedding-during-the-race thing. But then again, my last marathon attempt was in 95 degree heat with a similar humidity level. How about 70F? I know that's not "ideal marathon weather" but it IS indoor thermostat temperature, so I know I can be comfortable there. I think my best IM marathon was in about that temp (my BEST best marathon, which is my only stand alone marathon, which is only 3 mins better than my best IM marathon, and was 9 years ago, was in about 20F, and loads of fun in the 10 miles running up 3rd street into the north wind).

So that motivation thing again. I think what it takes for me is positive reinforcement in the form of feeling better at that 9 or 10 min per mile pace. And that's definitely happening. Who knew that simple consistency in running can help you get better? Warm weather would help too, but that's not in the immediate forecast. So for now, I'm going to get comfortable in my winter weather gear and just get moving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


This time the reluctance wasn't my own. It was such a beautiful afternoon, and I had a spare half hour to get outside and up my dosage of vitamin D. It was decidedly time to pull out the newest pair of running shoes that had been on fall break since my last race. Not that I haven't been running, just not in these shoes. My 2 and 3 year old shoes were doing just fine, but I've started feeling their age. These "new" shoes have only gone about 50 miles on my feet, including that last marathon.

They needed their break, just like I did. I understand. However, their time off was to purge the scent of a sweaty Ironman; a 5:45 trek of stumbling, jogging, walking, and getting doused in water that was a little less than pure by the time it streamed down from the top of my head, over my arms, down my legs, and puddled around my insoles.

The last 6 weeks of their life was spent on my balcony, airing out. I was sure this was ample time in the crisp fall air, so I went to collect them. My first warning of their reluctance to run should have come from the way they hid under a plastic bag. But there was no escaping. I held them at arms' length and took a quick whiff. No obvious scent, but just to be safe, I attached them to me at the furthest possible point on my body from my nose. Handily, this happened to be my feet, which is where they are intended to go. That's almost 5 feet from my nose, but I apologize to the short dogs I passed while running.

As I slid the lace locks into place, I heard my feet groan. The feet weren't excited about this reintroduction either. Could be the memories of ball-of-foot blisters, or the THREE damaged toenails these shoes rendered. At least they still fit (unlike some of my pants). We got all suited up and went out to the park. And they just stood there.

With the shoes not wanting to move, my legs had to drag them along. It was amazing how sluggish they made my poor legs feel; it was if they had walked through some hour-old gum that was spit out in the dodgy Kroger parking lot. Way too much time was spent in contact with the ground. They must've gained some weight during the off season just like I did. After 20 minutes of warming up, they kind of got into the groove, just as their song came on the ipod. We made an agreement that they would start running regularly again, but only once or twice a week, as long as they promise to be nice to all toenails in the future.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I had the rare opportunity to take my lunch break at Shelby Farms yesterday. I planned it well, brought my running clothes and sneaked in an hour run before returning to work. Some days it takes a little urging to get myself up and out the door from work to get a midday run in. Not Monday. I changed my clothes and was on the trail in under 5 minutes. I really love the Farms. I think I could run for days straight out there without getting bored or running the same route twice. We used to go there every day for cross country practice in high school. Then in college maybe once a week. Now that I live on the other side of town it is only on special occasions or maybe weekends when I get there. I'll really miss Shelby Farms when I move. Even though you're right smack dab in the middle of town, you can't see or hear a car, and only occasionally on weekdays another person. The Tour de Wolf trail looks completely different in the fall than the summer. This grass blocked my view from the thoroughfare that is Walnut Grove.

Time passes so quickly when I'm there. I'm not counting miles or minutes; I just keep running where the trail takes me: through the woods, up by the lake near the stables, down more trails, by that rock I almost wrecked my mountain bike on last time, through the dog park, between the barn and old blue car with it's door open, through the old cemetery, winding around the single track in the field, and back to the big lake. My legs know the route and I can turn off the navigation system in my head and just run. I need these runs every so often. It's not about working hard or pacing. It's just me and the trail.  One foot after another.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

the scenic route

It's that time of year again -- time to slow down and enjoy the view (unless of course you're doing one of those crazy St. Jude runs or something). All of my runs lately have been totally slow and enjoyable. Not that I really have any choice in that slow part.

Check out my view from Wednesday afternoon's run.

So it's really not that bad to run painfully slow through something like this. I'm at that time in my season in which I only do things I completely enjoy. It's much better this way than struggling to run at summer speeds. I have nothing left "in the bank" to withdraw from anymore. You know all those workouts, all that pain, the pushing through that happens during a big race build up? Lots of people say that's money in the bank, right? Around about October 10th of this year I withdrew everything I had in that bank. Actually I overdrew. It's like when you put $4.65 too much on your debit card and then you get charged $29 for overdrafting. Not that I know from experience or anything.. 

On the other hand, this overdraft is not quite as bad as the fatigue I felt this spring when I had some sort of virus. (And I thank the fiance for that. He's immune to all those bugs he brings home on his tie for me to enjoy.) That was more like losing your job right as the market crashes and having exactly $0.00 left in your mutual fund. I really don't know about that from experience. At least at this point I know how to put money back in the bank. It's going to be a slow process starting below the nil line, but it'll happen eventually.

Despite my dead legs, I realized that I do still have goals. Shiny new goals, as a matter of fact. Right after Ironman when Liz was asking for goals from her athletes, I had nothing for her. Now I realize that I can't imagine a day when I don't have running and triathlon goals. And I wonder how anyone who has been competitive in sports can just achieve their goals and not set new ones. Can they just simply meet them and move on to a new sport? I could see myself just knowing when the day comes that I won't be setting any more PRs. But that doesn't mean I don't have goals for myself. I imagine that even record setting marathon runners or world champion triathletes have goals that keep on challenging them. Otherwise what motivates them to get outside on those cold rainy days?

So maybe my motivation is in direct correlation to the outside temperature. At least my motivation for riding my bike. This morning I had everything packed and ready to go at 4:40 when my alarm went off. First, I picked up my phone to check the temp. I had made a commitment in my head to only ride if it was 45F or over. As soon as I saw the report that it was exactly 45F, I convinced myself that I had meant over 45F, not 45F or over. It didn't take a lot of convincing to change Jonathan's mind about it either. We both went to the 85F pool. Much better.

Of course I had to snooze a few more minutes so I got to the pool at my usual (late) time. Brian was directly in front of me and we were welcomed with a booming "see what happens when you're late?" from Rob, just as we scanned the lanes to see former collegiate swimmers Catherine and Gayle getting in our slower lane. I almost jumped into the already crowded next lane over, but decided that since I, too, was a collegiate swimmer (don't laugh, it's technically true), that was just the lane for me.

It must have been my scared poopless look, or maybe the way I hung on the wall "stretching" while those girls kept on (and on and on) warming up. Rob looked over, chuckled, and said, "Joy, you've got a swimming inferiority complex." Yes, yes, you may be right Rob. That combined with only 4 swims in the last month makes for an exciting workout with "the big girls," as Rob called them.  But I survived by hanging on to Gayle's feet, even throughout the hard 200s. I thank Catherine for backstroking those so as to not lap me during the 3:10 interval. When I made it through the entire workout, minus just a few hundred warm up and a 50 when they really were about to catch me, I realized I'd put some confidence in the bank. So the balance is slowing working it's way up! All it will take to get back in the black is a few more weeks of this scenic view.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

suck it up

Yep, "suck it up" is what Pete McCall from ACE said is the key to pushing through exertional pain. And I really have to agree for the most part. I'm definitely one of those in the "harden up" camp. But lately I've been very mental about the whole "it's 90% mental you can do it" thing. Yes, I agree, most people could push a lot harder than they do in exercise and even racing. Maybe that 10% is the most important part though.

I've really pushed through some exertional pain in races. The most poignant example that comes to my mind was IMFL last year when I thought I was about to just collapse from the exertional pain and lack of motor coordination at mile 21ish of the marathon. I even said, 'I can't do this anymore.' Luckily Friend said, 'but you are doing this,' and that was enough motivation for another 5 miles. At that point I could've started walking and most likely lost a good 15 minutes or so, minimum, and in addition, probably my slot. So the point is, I think I understand how to push through.

But a few weeks ago in Kona, it was actually a strike to my confidence to hear that it's all mental. If it's all mental but I can't for the life of me make my legs run, what is that saying about my mental fortitude? I have no more? I left it on the Queen K? It baked to a crisp along with my brain around Kawaihae? I could've even dropped it on the ocean floor a mile from the pier. Normally I can use my finely tuned ability to suck it up. Not the case that day.

Now I wonder if I used it all up. If it's gone for good. Maybe I have to find it or train it again. For now though, there's no need to harden up. I'm not running in the rain if I don't have to. Cold? No riding for me. Just plain don't feel like it? The only thing I'll be sucking up is that margarita on the rocks, a little salt, please.

Monday, October 19, 2009


***Side note: I found this article by Lee Gruenfeld that I thought was SO good. Worth a read.

I better go ahead and write all this down before I forget all of the details I don't repeat every day to those I haven't seen since the race. Some of those details would include "hot, really hot, never again, 95 miles on the bike, never been so hot, and fun trip afterwards."

But let me start at the beginning. I was so excited to have Laura and Jonathan and Steve and Jeremy come with me for this adventure. Jeremy wasn't to get in town until Thursday evening, so he had to miss some of the morning festivities -- most importantly, the Underpants Run. It's hard to describe the sight of 200 adults running through town in various tighty whitey fashions. You may want to look up some YouTube videos to get the full effect. Since Elvises can be found just about anywhere you look, we Memphians had to get a picture with them. This is our most famous picture; it was featured on Slowtwitch. I guess it helps that Bob Babbit is an Elvis.

The rest of Thursday and Friday were spent drinking coffee, swimming, and watching people shop. There was a little race prep thrown in there and some time off my feet. The pineapple flavored Gu packet in my sportsbra below? That actually got taped to my bike and eaten during the race.

Next thing I knew it was race morning, I was ready to go, sunscreened, body glided, suited up, relaxed, and modeling the blueseventy pointzero3.

My personal Ironsherpas, who are experts at embarrassing sign-making, made these awesome posters, which helped me find them every time I emerged from transition. The signs plus Jeremy's height made them particularly easy to find.

The swim was the usual non-wetsuit swim for me. Besides someone's elbow to my jaw, which caused me to bite my tongue, there wasn't much physical contact involved. Thank goodness. I think I took it a little too easy on the way out, following some steady feet the whole way. At the second turn, the one going back home, I checked the watch to find 46 minutes had already ticked by. Liz had just told me that the second half is always slower, but I couldn't let that happen this time. I swam back in 39 minutes, passing dozens of people and feeling pretty good about it. Now I just need to swim like that the whole race... and do a 1:20.. well whatever. I'm sticking to wetsuit races.

The wind was really calm on the bike, even for those of us who got a late start. I was optimistic, even through Hawi, where the usual headwinds pound you as you weave up that endless hill at 8 mph. I think I started consciously noticing the heat about that time. I was riding in the shoulder whenever there was the smallest bit of shade. It totaled about 50 yards, but it was a heavenly 50 yards. Gary told me later that it was 95F in Hawi by 9:30 a.m. I'd never stopped at special needs there, but I did this time. Liz told me to. I ate a sandwich and poured some water over my head. The next 5 miles are the best 5 miles. Downhill, tailwind, over halfway through the bike. The crosswinds were starting to pick up, which makes downhill descents a little slower and a little less fun. I usually had at least one hand on my bars for stability, and I was extra careful at the edges of the huge rocks where you can get a surprise gust.

The "hot section" in my mind is just before you reach Kawaihae when you've got a windless uphill. I worked on passing that girl who kept passing me on the downhills. I overtook her just before the turn back onto the Queen K. It's the little successes that keep you going. More little successes came the last 35 miles back into town. For the (slow swimming) late starters/slow riders (i.e. me), the headwinds pick up a lot here. We were so lucky to have more of a cross-head and at times even a crosswind. I must've gotten into a little tailwind somewhere out there -- I saw my speedometer exceed 20 again at some point.

The aid stations were every 5 miles for most of the course. Each time I'd take a Gatorade to fill the profile bottle, plus a bottle of water to pour over my head and back. Half of the water would go into the cage for later. 'Later' came about 2 miles after the first pour. I was getting so hot it felt like my cheeks were on fire. At 95 miles I felt my temperature getting out of control, so I stopped at that aid station while I poured bottle after bottle either down my throat or over my head. The helpful volunteer lady tried to sympathize by saying, 'I guess you have a little headwind out there.' I snorted water out my nose and she followed up with, 'It probably feels like more than a little when you're riding your bike into it.' I finally got back to transition where the sherpas were worrying about me because I was so slow. Glad they didn't voice that at the time. I gave up my bike to the catchers and made a clumsy attempt at jogging. It was a failed attempt, so I walked the entire pier to the tent and changed. The cold towel they draped on me was almost shockingly cold, but helped cool me down some. The sweet young girl helping me out was making me chat with her and I must've mentioned that I really didn't feel like running. She said, "Like NObody can do this. But you're doing this!" And that did it. Fresh motivation.

I jogged out toward the chute where I saw Laura, Jonathan, and Jeremy. The picture makes it look like I'm smiling. Actually, I'm saying, "I don't want to do this anymore."
But I did it. A few minutes of running, then somebody would stomp on my chest and I'd have to walk. Somehow Liz would only catch me walking. I swore to her that I was actually running some! She told me to at least walk like I have somewhere to be. That was when I saw her the first time and stopped dead in my tracks to talk. Jeremy came to run with me for a few miles on Ali'i and we were later joined by Jonathan and Laura. They were the best running buddies. What seemed like an unsustainably fast pace to me was the most slow boring jog for them. I tried to joke to Liz that I figured out I could run as long as I didn't run "fast." Nobody laughed. If I got faster than a 10-11 min pace, I couldn't breathe or control my legs anymore. My patient ironsherpas went all the way out to the Energy Lab and waited until I re-emerged to run me back home. At first my poor brain thought I'd get in trouble for having 3 pacers on the course with me. Later it occurred to me that nobody cares when they're helping you break 14 hours. We ran, stopped, walked, ran, etc. through the beautiful sunset and into the very dark night.

The last mile they left me to "enjoy" by myself. I want to thank the Ironman people for placing a timing mat one mile out from the finish. Now I know that the blazing fast pace I recorded was a 10:10. I found the finishing stretch down Ali'i to be a little less enjoyable than the 3 previous ones. I think the excitement of getting to compete in the world championship has worn off. I feel a bit defeated. My past 3 races have improved quite a bit each time. I thought I was learning; I thought I would beat it some day.

My conclusion is that some people just don't have the right physiology (plus training has a bit to do with it -- thank you mild Memphis summer) to do hot races. I've done some reading on heatstroke and fatigue on The Science of Sport. Your body will do everything it can to stop you from exercise if you're heading toward injury or death. You simply have a failure of muscle activation. Did you know your pacing strategy (whether conscious or subconscious, or a mixture of the two) will adjust for this in advance? So on a hot day, when your heat storage is greater than your heat loss, your body slows you right down. Read about it here. My body's pretty smart. Not competitive, apparently, but smart.

So I'm glad I tried again. I'm not afraid of failure; I've failed many times. There's no winning without taking risks.

The crime is not to avoid failure, the crime is to not give triumph a chance. –H. Weldon

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


My first thought when I saw my bib number was, "Please don't let that be my time!" Then it occurred to me that it's not the WORST time possible, and anything is possible on that course. I'm going in with more confidence than usual thanks to Liz's excellent coaching the past 2 years, so I'm quite sure I will be well under 16:42.

I'm this close to getting on that plane. My bike has been shipped, and according to the FedEx tracking, it's in... Memphis... still... yeah... But it's FedEx! It'll get there. My bags are.. well, not quite packed. But I've started a list! My nails are ready to go, however. Fingernails and toenails have both been painted with a shade to coordinate with my hot pink underpants. For the Underpants Run, people!

I still need to print my itinerary, load up on cash, and pack my bikinis and flip flops. The rest will take care of itself. So, until then! Aloha!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

is it time for pre-race thoughts again?

I am well aware that marathons and half ironmans are studied for their damaging effects on the heart. And it's no wonder, really, since there have been many cases of sudden death due to cardiovascular disease, and in young elite athetes even. But only 9% of finishers in one Hawaii Ironman showed elevated cardiac troponin I & T levels (which is what they're looking for as a marker of heart damage), so my odds are pretty good, right? Plus it seems to be only transient damage, and not permanent. *Relief*

But STILL, could you people please not write about these things when I have 11 days until my 11th Ironman? I don't need one more thing to cause me stress. Work is busy enough this week and I haven't even made my packing list yet. My bike leaves for Hawaii in 5 days, I leave in 7. Just one more week! I think my littlest toenail can hang on that long. The poor thing had just grown back to normal after IMFL in Novemeber when it got tortured during IMLou enough to give up again.

Hopefully all of my bad bike juju was used up this past weekend when I had four flats in two rides. I didn't think much of the first two, since it was raining and still dark early outside. I was doing stupid things like forgetting how to use my CO2 adapter. My second change lasted overnight and until 5 miles into my Saturday ride. Luckily I was only a mile away from a friend's house, and I ran it in my Sidis down the sidewalk on Poplar, cyclocross style. I didn't want to use a CO2 cartridge if I could avoid it.

That new tube lasted a whole 30 miles before going flat. It couldn't have picked a better time, since we were out on the Los Locos duathlon course doing some pre-race marking with about 25 teammates who had driven out with their pumps and spares. They were finished riding for the day, so my fantastic teammate Steve lent me his entire rear wheel to get home with. I realized about 10 miles into the ride home that the noise I was hearing was something rubbing in the wheel. I might have tightened the skewer too much, but loosening it only lessened the rubbing; it didn't fix it. At least I was able to spin the wheel a full circle before it stopped short after this fix. Before it would turn about 1/3 revolution. A little extra resistance training never hurt anybody, so I rode on home another 25 miles or so.

I'm not sure if it was the old rim tape causing this mess, but Andrew fixed me up, and I'm going to test out the fresh tube I put in last night on this afternoon's ride. The first thing I did this morning after my 5am wake up call was check the pressure in my tire. Single-minded? Nooooo, not me.

I am going to try to avoid the wheel disaster that occurred last time I went to Kona. Nancy has offered her clincher Zipps so I can avoid 1) carrying 5 pounds of tire and electrical tape with me during the bike, and 2) buying a new tubular if I happen to rip the valve completely apart the day before the race. Plus, her Zipps are probably 15 years younger than mine.

So what else is left to do before the trip? Pack a few bikinis, some flip flops, camera, oh, and my race clothes. There is a lot of planning left to do. We need to decide which day we're going snorkeling at Captain Cook and if we should go all the way to the lava-ocean intersection or just to the crater of Kilauea. Are we staying overnight Monday in Hilo, or should we keep driving around the island? Can we really take the Saddle road with a rental car, or is the 17% grade too much for a Hyundai Accent? That pavement doesn't look too bad, see? (there are holes in the speed limit sign so it doesn't get constantly knocked over by the winds)

It's surely not worse than the "unimproved" road to Kekaha Kai State Park that I took in '07. You probably can't make out the 3 foot deep potholes that I had to dodge on the way down. The way back was even more fun, since it was almost dark. (there really is a beautiful park at the end of this road, promise)

You may notice some similarities in these pictures, namely the lack of any living things. This is not dissimilar to 80% of the bike course, as shown below. This is what I'm looking forward to. Ooooo, a green plant! See, right there on the left side of the road..

There really are many gorgeous views out there that I'll be seeing plenty of. This is the view from where coffee club Kona will take place at least a couple of mornings:

Oh, nervous flutter in the stomach! Nervous excitement, that is. Plenty more of it to come!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

keeping up

Countless workouts of mine have involved me trying to keep up with much stronger swimmers, cyclists, and runners. I realize some days are good, some are bad, some days you just don't care. I have learned that I can react, at least internally, with a huge range of thoughts and emotions when I'm falling behind or struggling to keep up. It depends on the day: the weather, who I'm training with, if I'm having a bad hair day, if I got enough sleep, if I forgot my Bodyglide..

When I first started actually training for triathlons (a few years after I started "racing" them), I would get incredibly frustrated when I'd fall behind, even if I was falling behind someone who was unquestionably faster in that discipline. The result of that frustration usually involved either giving up trying or quitting altogether. This mostly occurred on the bike. I distinctly remember about a week before my very first Ironman doing the Sunday Outdoors ride. I was almost to the turnaround store, but I was also so far off the back of the group going up that small incline by myself that I couldn't even see them. My frustration peaked, I got off my little green Cannondale, and threw it and a temper tantrum in the grass on the side of the road.

Many times falling off the back of a group has inspired me to catch back up and push a little harder. I try to get as much motivation from it as possible and not be so easily discouraged. Often, it works and I've been rewarded for my extra effort. One little acceleration on the bike can make all the difference. You catch the draft again, you get to rest, everyone's happy.

Other times I've gotten mad at my much faster friends who have rotated to the front of the paceline and picked up the speed a few miles per hour. They knew I was back there, so why would they torture me like this? It was hard to admit back in my early years that I was not able to keep up. But does anybody really like to admit failure? Of course not, and I thought I had failed for not staying on the wheel of the person in front of me.

The reality is that it's not failure. This has been a pretty hard lesson to learn, but track workouts may have helped me with it. Training for an Ironman and doing 12 x 400 repeats at 95% with a recovery walk don't really go together. Going to track for the camaraderie was worth modifying my workout. I'd have to go at 80% on the intervals while everyone else was racing, and jog the recoveries. This is hard on the pride, I'll admit it! But I think I had to learn when to race (and that would be during races, not every training run) and when to train. It's not failure, it's just training.

I also learned that having a bad day or two doesn't mean that you're going backward in your training. After doing this long enough, I know my legs will come around eventually and I'll feel good again. It's a constant up and down, so there's no need to worry.

I love having training buddies who push me to work hard, but know that sometimes it's just not going to happen. I can admit when I'm feeling bad OR, equally important, good. And it turns out that my friends who push the pace are not trying to torture me or even prove that they're faster, but instead trying to get a good workout in for themselves. Aha, it's not all about me!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

no calf ages??

This just in:
"Please be advised that based on athlete feedback, World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) has retracted its ban on garments that cover the calves at this year's Ford Ironman World Championship. Because the age of athletes wearing these garments is not visible, Ironman will eliminate marking athletes' ages on calves in Kona to ensure fairness among the field."

Ok, so how am I supposed to be humiliated by the 70-year-old man who passes me on the bike or the 62-year-old woman who I can't keep up with in the run (both really happened to me, different years) if there is no age written on calves in Kona this year?

It's always a fun game to guess people's ages as they approach and confirm them as they pass. JP, LJG, SA, JH, this could be a fun drinking game for you guys. Sit out at a bar on Ali'i, whoever is farthest off the mark has to chug for every year off they are. It could've been. Oh well.

not my legs

testing in the ranks

Very interesting what the WTC has come out with this past week. They want to do drug testing on age groupers who qualify for the two Ironman championship races: Kona and Clearwater 70.3. Now my first thought was that it sounded logical. Even athletes at the D3 national cross country championship were tested (not that I know from personal experience). But they way they want to go about doing it seems to miss the point, in my opinion. Here's what is going to happen (or already has, in the case of those who qualified at IMWI last weekend): upon qualification, the athlete will sign a waiver, agreeing to be drug tested at events and also during out of competition (OOC) times. They have the same list of banned substances as the pros, and they have to submit any travel plans so that WADA can show up unannounced for a test. If they refuse to sign this waiver to go into the pool of OOC testing, they lose their slot. They can apply for TUEs, therapeutic use exemptions, just like the pros. But there will be a special TUE committee just for the WTC. It makes sense because most professional sports do not have athletes in their 60s and 70s competing, and surely there will be a much more extensive list of acceptable drugs for these athletes.

So it sounds like they have everything covered, right? Maybe except for the actual qualification process. Think about the cheaters athletes that will do anything to get a hard plastic plaque podium spot at, let's say, a regional half ironman. They may argue FOR drafting, because it's like basketball, they say. Fouling is legal, you just get a penalty if you get caught. Others may accept outside assistance when they failed to bring a spare tube, so instead they have a spectator-friend lend them a new wheel. I mean, they trained for this race and were in shape! They deserve that 10th place AG award, despite being too lazy to pack a spare, don't they? If we know about people deliberately cheating for a silly plaque, what would they do if their dream was Kona or Clearwater? My point is that there seem to be no plans for testing athletes when they actually qualify for the world championships. Getting the slot is well more than half the battle, at least for most of us (and by this I mean I will never dare to dream of a podium spot in Kona). I say test at the qualifying race as well as the championship race. What do you think? Good idea? Waste of money? Thumbs up? Down? Why?

love this race!

Sunday, September 27, 2009 8:30am
2 mi R~ 15 mi B ~ 2 mi R

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A reintroduction

I got back on the bike last night for a nice 30 minute spin! My actual ride was shorter than the time it took me to get the bike ready to ride. It had a flat tire, my "race" brake pads still on, and the cassette needed to be moved to the training wheel. It was still weighted down with loads of electrical tape securing my still-partially-filled-with-Gatorade profile bottle and race number (I'm so MacGyver with my electrical tape. It does anything and everything. No bandaid? Try electrical tape. Wreck your car and now the headlight won't stay in place? I have a solution- electrical tape. You know they even make it in 5 different colors..).

I was surprised that I didn't hate getting back on the bike, even though I picked an evening with spitting rain to ride in. I can tell my neck still isn't happy about having to hold up my head in the aero position. Back at the Rhodes College gym, we had an actual weight machine designed to strengthen neck muscles. I don't think I need that much resistance to give it a good workout.

Despite my developing cold, I'm pretty excited to start training again. Calendars make me nervous, though, since 4 weeks from now I'll be in Kona, just finishing the Underpants Run, maybe checking out the expo. FOUR WEEKS! The countdown begins.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ironman Louisville

Pictures are a lot more entertaining than words, right? So here's my race in pictures. With a bit of commentary.

Pre race checkin. Everybody's happy. Beautiful day.

Race morning. In case you can't see it, the clock says 4:40 or something. That's eastern time.

I'm smiling from the success I had with the bike pump and lack of the usual hair-pulling frustration that is my race tire.
Gary's giving the wide, open-mouthed Joy smile.

Nancy got stuck in an eternal porta potty line. Really, she spent like 40 minutes there.

I refused to run before I crossed the start line. I'll have plenty of running later, were my thoughts. That's me on the far right, taking my sweet time.
The jump. I really got some air, huh? I'm holding my goggles on just in case.

The "upstream" portion around Towhead Island. Unfortunately for us (or rather, me, the poor swimmer), the 2/3 of the swim that was "downstream" was currentless.
But I made it out of the river alive!

To my great horror, the spot I chose in T1 to change (the same one Nancy chose 5 minutes before me), was completely within view for any spectators who dared come around. Jeremy was just seconds too late to capture my bare bum.

I'm too speedy on the bike to be captured clearly on film!

The entire bike ride can be summed up with this fantastic TB poster.

I did actually manage to run, if you can call it that. I seem to have both feet on the ground.

At least you can see Nancy's heel kicking up. The drills worked for her!

Post race, obviously. I finished right behind Gary, but managed to beat him by about 20 seconds. Love the time trial start!
All in all, I feel it was a successful day in that I was able to run a decent marathon after the torture of the bike ride and deflation of the terrible swim. I haven't attempted any workouts since, unless you count the one flight of stair climbing to my apartment with 3 bags of groceries. It's almost time to get back at it; as Jonathan mentioned, five weeks from today is the underpants run.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Race Week Thoughts

It is really possible that I've eaten 3/4 of a jar of apricot preserves in 2 sittings without putting even one spoonful anywhere but directly into my mouth?

Have I gained weight?

I cannot recall one detail of any long rides or runs I did. Did I actually do any?

Don't forget to Vaseline the shorts' seams. I love love love the Desoto tri shorts, but the seams can make me cry.

It's too late to cram any more mileage in, but can I cram vitamins?

I think my lymph node is swollen. Surely cancer.

If one more person at work comes into my office telling me that they're sick, I'm quitting.

Going up the stairs makes me feel like a 90-year-old obese woman (not that many actually exist, but I know how they'd feel if they did).

Does putting my spare and changing tools in a water bottle in my extra cage save any weight over the 8 pounds of electrical tape I normally use to attach that stuff to my seat?

All those hours of drills better do me some good Sunday!

If my race tire goes from 130psi to 40psi overnight just sitting there, how much will the weight of my body make it decrease in pressure during the 5.5+ hours I'm on it during the race?

Last Ironman had temps of 46F low/ 73F high. Forecast for Sunday: 50F low/ 76F high. Perfect. Now what did I wear on the bike? Thanks to, I can find out.

Where in downtown Louisville can I pick up some Uncrustables? The race food of champions!

Do I wear socks on the bike for these things?

I love graphs telling me that I am going to suck in the swim because there's an upstream section and I'm a bad swimmer. :)

I have to stop telling random people how undertrained I am. They maaaay not understand. A sweet acquaintance asked me what I'm doing this weekend. "An Ironman," I said with a slightly scared look on my face. "But you jog a lot. You'll do fine," she answered.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The IronSherpa

n. (ī-ərn-sher-puh) 1. an expert in the field of pack-muling and spectathlon, who devotes him- or herself entirely to the chosen triathlete for a day (or longer), to support in any way possible the athlete's desires and/or needs on the road to a successful finish line crossing at the race of utmost importance.

Jeremy gets his first shot at IronSherping this weekend at Louisville. He has the daunting task of not only being my sherpa, but Nancy's as well. I'm not sure he knows this. I mean, sure, he knows he is there to "support" us, but the full realization of what is required has most likely not occurred, nor will it until the end of Sunday when his legs are as tired as mine and his exhaustion (but not elation) exceeds mine. One clue that he was clueless came when he mentioned hanging out with an old friend during the race. I think I flinched. He may want to be napping instead. I'll let him figure that out on his own.

At my last Ironman in Panama City last November, there was an apparent competition for Sherpa #1.

Laura won with flying colors. Not only did she dress the part,

she also made enormous posters of our heads, and took excellent care of me during my forced post race pool leg soak and towel bath, all the way to planting me back on the couch later that night. For that she won the honor of IronSherpa #1, and will accompany me to Kona in about 6 weeks. What a prize. :)

Her competitor made mistakes right from the beginning. Nancy will never see her pump again, and here is the evidence of who last held its little tube before abandoning it on the vast sandy beach:
So tasks for Jeremy may include but are not limited to the safeguarding of pumps at all cost, towel bathing and crutching the racers post race, dressing up, cheering (not to be taken lightly), possibly walking many miles while carrying bags of race gear or in support of walking racer (please no!), and generally doing anything requested of him. All after waking up at 4 am. You got all that babe?

Good. No pressure. Any suggestions from the crowd for this newbie?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Morning Ride

It's a great feeling to get in almost 3 hours of exercise and a shower before 8 a.m. Of course the pain of getting out of bed at 4:30 is sometimes almost unbearable. Is it just me or do others feel actual pain that early in the morning? I've finally taught myself that the feeling only lasts until I get on my bike. Every Thursday, Nancy is waiting for me on Island Drive with her bright headlight catching my eyes. Once or twice she's been early and ridden up and down the road. I know that there are no other crazy people on bikes that time of the morning, so the light belongs to her. We ride sometimes quietly, but more often with sleepy chatter (at least mine is sleepy), hoarse voices (ok, that's just me), and half opened eyes (yeah, me again).

About 15 minutes over the bridge and down a deserted 2nd Street later, we get to the Y where Jonathan and Brian meet us for the rest of the warm up ride to Highland. The warm up is often a tour of early morning smells. Sometimes it starts with a bacony barbecue smell from some restaurant on Main. Today it was an overwhelming fresh baked bread scent from the Wonder Bread Factory. Next we ride past another bbq joint and a CK's diner with its bacon and hasbrowns. Further down Union is the donut shop. If it weren't for the early morning hour and the English muffin sitting in my tummy, I think I'd turn right into several of those stores for a snack.

Forty minutes or so after leaving my house we get to the meeting place of the group ride. By then there's some traffic, cyclists coming from all directions, and during the long summer days, a little light in the sky.

Today, still dark at 5:44, the lights of the railroad crossing began flashing as a train's horn signaled its approach. Now at this crossing, the trains are just leaving the yard and only beginning to pick up speed. When coming from the other direction, they often come to a full stop, dividing the university campus and backing traffic up for miles. Today that wouldn't be a problem. It seems, however, that a few of the 50 or 60 riders get a little fidgety at that time of morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the sound of the train's horn meant the first sprint was underway. I wasn't convinced that many of the guys would actually cross with only a few seconds to spare until I found myself with about 8 or 9 others stuck on the wrong side of the tracks, sitting still, with nowhere to go. No bridge, no overpass, no shortcut to take. We were OTB before a pack had even formed. Five minutes is eternal when you know what's going on down the road and can do nothing to stop it. Of course there was no soft pedaling for the weenies who didn't have the guts to risk their lives on the tracks. I think none of us expected for that many to get across in time.

When we finally did start riding again, a couple of guys looked like they wanted to chase down the group. That effort lasted about 30 seconds (doing the math, we'd have to go about 2mph faster than the group to catch them by the end, catching no red lights). The 10 of us actually had a good ride, as can happen when you actually take a pull (yay, finally!) and don't have the draft of 30 people to ride in. It was somehow a calm, quiet ride, at least relative to the mayhem of the usual pack.

Of course we had a couple of scary guys out there; there are enough to go around. One was wearing no helmet, which leads me to believe that he has never kept up with the group before. If he had, he'd know how many people ride like maniacs out there and how endangered his life is. I guess when you don't realize the importance of your brain, maybe your brain isn't that important in your day to day life.

The other guy at least had a helmet on. But he'd be second in line and suddenly sit up, hands off the hoods, to mess with his glasses or something. Dude, can you at least not backpedal with no hands and 8 people behind you? Thanks.

The ride actually went by fast and before I knew it we had caught a few stragglers and were headed home on Shady Grove. There was a cool breeze, a few smooth roads, and nothing standing between me and my second breakfast but a few miles of coasting. Oh, and a 2 mile brick. I love Ironman training!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

But why?

Along the lines of Gale Bernhardt's 13 Weeks to a 13 Hour Ironman, can we please get a 9 weeks to a 9 hour Ironman? Coach, are you on that?

Since my first IM of the year is in 19 days (I got a little stomach flip there), I think it's time for Bob Mina's 140.6 Reasons to Do an Ironman. Now, these are a little old, especially for most Ironmaners, since Bob wrote this in 2001. That year just happened to be the year of my first ever Ironman. That year I had to remind myself over and over again just why I wanted to do this. Now it's just a subconscious pull toward the training and the racing. Most people that have done one know how you miss the training when it's all over. Some people have even said it's anticlimactic to race the race. I love the actual race, but since it's an insignificant amount of time compared to all the training involved, it's only a small fraction of the pull to Ironman. I love a lot about the training, from the long swims to the dreaded bricks after 100 mile rides. I even enjoy the feeling of fatigue in my legs as I'm walking up the stairs at work. I particularly love the volume of food I can eat without seeing the scale change. And if I didn't get to see Nancy every 12 hours, I don't know what I'd do with myself. :)

I'm not ready for it to be over so soon, and luckily, it won't be. After Louisville, the real fun begins: training with Laura, Steve, and Jonathan for #85 on #37.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

race pics

I got some pictures from the "race" over the weekend. You can see how much fun we're all having, since it had stopped raining at that point.

Some people, like Sam, tend to make funny faces when they race. I don't know what you can call the face that I've been caught making either during or after races. Man, I have a huge mouth.

Monday, August 3, 2009

26 days, 19 hours, 5 minutes, 47 seconds. Approximately.

Where's that countdown clock on the Ironman Louisville website? I need something to intimidate me with the ticking down of the seconds until race start. I've also read that starting in 2010 there will be no more searchable participants lists for any of the WTC races. How am I supposed to search for every 30-34 female's results from past races since 1999 in a timely fashion when I have to look through the entire participants list and pick out names? Will we also be regressing to paper only results that are mailed 3 weeks later like I received for my first few tri seasons? Those were actually kind of fun.

This past weekend was my last race before the aforementioned Ironman. It was the Summer Sizzler, which, as Laura mentioned, was anything but sizzling. More like a summer soaker. Starting out in the rain, er... thunderstorm, didn't create much enthusiasm by me, but it was only to going to be 30 miles and I figured I could suck it up that long. With Damie cheering us on, we began the first of 6 wet laps. The rain actually stopped eventually, and the river that crossed the road got shallower with each lap. We practiced some rotations and attacks, and unfortunately my big breakaway was thwarted by the Cat 5 guys coming through, which required us to soft pedal a few minutes. It was a nice break. In the end, Andrea planned how we would lead Casey out to the finish, with me leading first, and therefore getting dropped first, then Marda, Andrea, and Casey sprinting in. I guess it went as planned; I was far enough off the back of that hill after my max 2 minute effort (it was probably more like 30 seconds; it seemed like eternity) that I didn't see how it all went down. We piled all the money together and took away a nice amount for the post race meal.

I felt a huge sense of relief after the race was over. I hadn't even realized that I was stressed about it. I had to get in a few extra miles of riding, which I did the morning before the race, and ended up feeling the best at the end of the day. This was helpful to my mental state, knowing that I am still a long distance person after all, which should come in handy in 26 days, 19 hours...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

a reason to sleep in!

I knew swimming was bad for me: Are Indoor Pools Bad for Your Lungs?

A few years ago I learned that pools with broken chlorine pumps are also bad for your eyebrows (they disappeared), your swimsuits (went through several in one month), and your old silver ring you forgot to take off (it turned black). And that's not to mention the flu-like symptoms that wouldn't go away.

No more swimming for me! Oh, but isn't the downtown Y's pool saline? Darn.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

T minus... 6 weeks?!

Unlike the recent shuttle launch, my race will commence. Six weeks and three days to get into Ironman shape from whatever blobby shape I'm in right now. But things are looking up. As much as I joked about missing my running legs, it was a really hard time for me this spring. It started with a half marathon that was 5 minutes slower than last year's, and it was all downhill from there. The New Orleans 70.3 was just a few seconds off my worst half ever. Next up was the MIM double, for which I had a terrible cold. I attributed that poor 10k to the inflammation in my chest that caused some major hacking for days before and after the race. I was over the sickness for Heatwave and hoping to improve on that awful 10k time. Instead I managed the worst run since my very first olympic distance in 1998. Lots of friends were having difficulties from injuries and such during this time as well. The problem with mine was that there was no diagnosis of a fracture, no recent surgery, nothing that could excuse all of this.

When is it all in your head and when is something really wrong? I still haven't figured that out. The doctor who drew the labs for me seemed to think it was in my head, especially when everything came back outstandingly normal. If it hadn't been before, it was starting to get to my head. So with nothing else to do, I ignored the problem. I tend to ignore things I don't want to deal with. I did do the workouts assigned and tried to have patience. In all my 13 years of racing (and 10 years of actual training), I've never regressed so much. One triathlete even suggested that it was age; I laughed at their ignorance of endurance athletics. But slowly my lack of -- what, fitness?-- has seemed to turn around. It's definitely not back where it was even 4 months ago when this all started, but I can tell it's changing in a positive direction. If this trend continues, I may make it through two Ironmans in the next 12 weeks after all. And eventually you may even see me do this while running:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Race Yourself

I reminisced over my first few triathlons this weekend. It's been a long while, with my very first triathlon being Mightymite in 1996, since I've felt like such a newbie in a sport. Granted, part of that is because I have found one that I enjoy so much that I rarely (have time to) branch out, but also I avoid sports that I will do exceedingly poorly in, those being most you can probably think of. So my first newbie mistake during the Smith & Nephew/Marx & Bensdorf Grand Prix road race was of the number attachment variety. Ok, I've been doing 5Ks since I was 15 and triathlons, which sometimes require multiple numbers, since I was 19. So how hard can number attachment be (especially after you read the rules about it)? As it turns out, I did it all wrong. You know those things you have to learn from experience about triathlon that make it glaringly obvious that you're new to this whole racing thing? Like, you know, riding in basketball shorts, helmet on backwards, number pinned to the back of a running singlet on the bike, wading pools set up in transition.. Well apparently in bike racing, pinning your number on through the holes in the number is one of those mistakes. Luckily I had Jimmy there to rescue me. He secured my two numbers with about 8 pins each, strategically placed to reduce any hint of drag. Now I appeared to be experienced, right?

Due to the extreme temperatures of the day (I'm assuming), and the 11:25 a.m. start time of our road race, they shortened it to 2 laps, for a total of 32 miles, instead of 3 laps. This hurt my feelings not one little bit, even though I tend to get warmed up only after a good 30 miles. Just as Mentor Casey had explained, we started off slowly, and only had a surge now and then to try and thin the field a bit. The field consisted of only 17 women, with not many dropping off the back, at least that I counted. My goal was to be one of those still with the main pack at the final sprint. It was fun watching the dynamics of a dozen women, some of whom knew each other and their racing strengths, when one would take off in an attack, or like in Susan's case, just to get a different perspective of the field. Each time Susan would move toward the front, a handful of girls would assume she was attacking and take off in pursuit. Usually Susan would just be going up front for a pull, or a chat, or just for fun, but they didn't know the difference.

With maybe 5 miles to go in the race, Maggi took off the front. We had seen her pull a good portion of the race, and I figured she felt like I do riding with my niece: I will fall off my bike if I go this slow! But this time she left us in the dust, with Kelsey right on her wheel. We didn't chase, and soon they were out of sight. With 4, then 3, then 2 miles to go I kept expecting the next attack. I knew the last 400m were uphill to the finish. Unbeknownst to me, and apparently Susan as well, Andrea and Susan lead Casey out for the final sprint. It worked! She easily won the sprint, with me, Susan and Andrea a few places behind.

Here we are before the start of the race. Andrea, Cara, Casey, me, Maggi, and Susan:

It was over with before I knew it and then on to recovery, which consisted of floating around in my parents' pool. The time trial was just under 6 hours after the end of our road race, and it consisted of about 3.75 miles of false flats: easy out, uphill back. I thought I was doing awesome when I passed my 30 second girl at the turn around. Then I saw results. Oh well! I went absolutely all out; the spectators even heard my raspy gasping for oxygen at the end, and noticed my pained face (and thanks to Tom for pointing it out!). I ended up 3rd for the cat 4s in both the road race and TT. Considering that for my race distance of choice, race plans include "take the first hour easy, build through 60 miles...," I knew this wouldn't be MY race.

Don't let the guy's face deceive you; he is holding me by the saddle.

It seemed like no time at all had passed when Sunday morning's crit came. Lucky for us, we got a cool time slot, 8:25. I warmed up well, or so I thought, and got to ride a few laps of the .8 mile course before the start. You know in adventure races or ultras how the race starter just yells go? Maybe they're even so unenthusiastic that you don't realize this is the start? Well it doesn't matter in a race of 5 hours so much. In a race where you'll get dropped off the back in the first lap only to ride by yourself for the remainder of the 35 minutes (except for the girl that is attached to your wheel, like a dingleberry (thanks Lisa!), throughout), I need a little more excitement! Can you imagine starting a 400m track race without a gun to make you jump into action? Where's the cannon? Or at the very least give me the siren on a bullhorn. But an ambivalent, "Riders ready? [yawn] Go."? Really? Needless to say, I learned that lesson. Kill yourself to do it, but get in the pack from the gun. Oops, I mean from the word "go."

The word of the day Sunday was Humility. Not that I hadn't had plenty going into the races Saturday. But of course I had just come off my annual win at the small town 5k on Friday night, which is always a good confidence boost. (Side note: this is the annual battle with the belly, and I won for the second year in a row. Made it to the bathroom and didn't have to stop on the course a la 2 years ago.) But anyway, you too can increase your humility by racing off the back of the pack, coming around every few minutes through the spectators, who clap for you with sympathy and try to encourage you to keep it up! Actually they were all very supportive and friendly, I was just embarrassed by my inabilities.

Six pounds of water later I got home and weighed myself to find that I was still down about 4 pounds from normal. It's truly amazing what the body can do, or what it tries to do to cool itself. It does amuse me that it sweats and sweats until it's running off my elbows in streams, then says, hey, I'm still not cool, let's sweat some more. You'd think there'd be some kind of back up system, like panting. But I digress. Even though my homeostasis was disrupted by the weekend racing, my brain was very excited about it. I learned a few things, such as feed zones = drop the thirsty zones (I caught back up), go means GO!, somebody always has to be last--and if it's a crit maybe spectators will get confused and think you're winning. I see how working as a team could be lots of fun, especially when you outnumber the next largest team by 4.

And finally, I'm hoping it's possible to race myself back into shape. If not my body, then my brain. The weekend of racing may have been just what I needed to recover my motivation for sport.

p.s. Charlie raced very well this weekend, but I'll let him detail his experience.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

the challenge

Saturday consisted of just over 6.5 hours of heat training on the hills of east Tennessee. See below for the profile. My Garmin profile doesn't look exactly like that since I hitched a ride for 8 of the hottest miles. I have no problem with that either. I still got 110 miles and over 15,000 feet of climbing. I just avoided the impending heat stroke.

It was really beautiful out there, with streams and flowers and Smokey Mountains. I wish somebody had gotten a picture of the road 2 feet in front of me. That seemed to be all I looked at for an hour or so of climbing at 5 mph. At that speed you have to really concentrate on not falling over.

This is my angry face that Joel captured probably 5 miles into the ride. I really had nothing to be angry about at this point. My sunscreen/sweat slick had only begun to form, I still had water in the bottles, food in the tummy, I hadn't gotten a flat yet, and we still had 40 miles before the hills.
The new bike did well enough last weekend that I'm taking her racing on Saturday and Sunday in the Smith & Nephew/Marx & Bensdorf Gran Prix Omnium. It'll be my first attempt at a real road race, and if all goes well, I'll be in the time trial and crit as well. I plan on using the angry face, as seen above, as an intimidation technique. Grrrr.

Friday, June 19, 2009


So when you've only ridden over 50 miles once in the last 3 months (in flat New Orleans) and you have an Ironman in 10 weeks, what do you do? This:

Friday, June 12, 2009

all in

Ever since November I've been trying to decide what to do with IM Louisville. I was probably one of the first 50 overly-enthusiastic people to register for the race when it opened last year. Very rarely (like twice in my 9 IM career) have I been registered for 2 IMs at the same time. But it happened this year. I asked for a deferral to 2010 for Louisville, but was given the standard response with the specific section of the rulebook copied and pasted into the email. I figured it was worth a try, since my friend Jim was given an exception for 2007. I mentioned that.

So I decided that instead of getting a measly $150 of my $550 back, I'll go for it. At first my thoughts were of intentional DNFing, to save my legs for my "A" Ironman, which is 6 weeks later. But I don't think I can make myself quit something like an Ironman if I'm feeling perfectly fine (which is always relative). So I'm in, all in. And this photo (which I took from Timothy J's album on flickr-- thanks Tim!), shows just what I will be jumping into on August 30.

Monday, June 8, 2009

the positives

Heatwave triathlon was Saturday, but as Laura mentioned, didn't have quite the level of heat we've all come to expect and enjoy. It was a beautiful day, and there were so many GOOD things about the race.

(I'm focusing on the positives because I'm feeling quite negative about running, triathlon, racing, running, swimming, did I mention running? lately.)

We got to wear wetsuits for the swim, which is just about as weird as that year we wore them in Sardis Lake for Dragonfly. Thankfully I brought mine, just in case, and was quick to zip it up and save myself at least a minute, I figure, minus the extra seconds it takes to get it off my feet in T1. I felt like it gave me just that much more protection from the thousands of alligators that reside in that very lake. I only panicked for a brief moment when some guy clocked me in the head. I quickly realized that a gator would probably use its strong jaw and enormous teeth to kill me, not bludgeon me to death with its tail or something. Panic subsided.

Getting onto the bike felt good. I went easier out, harder back, hoping for a lack of wind in either direction. Lucky for all of us, there was very little wind and the bike times were very fast. I just thought I was having a good day, but so was everyone else... good for them too!

Probably most exciting was that I won my AG and was 3rd OA female, 2nd amateur! In T2, that is (can't win 'em all). Coming in off the bike with the swing-over dismount technique, I had about 3 men immediately in front of me, unaware of the speeding girl behind them who had no intention of slowing down. I almost tripped over one of them, but managed to just ram an arm against the fencing, avoiding a pileup. I didn't have the greatest bike rack position, but the big pink bag helps me find things quickly. I racked the bike and even put socks on before the shoes, grabbed the hat and race belt, and ran the hundred yards to the next mat. I think the zone 5a effort in T2 left me too anaerobic to actually run the 10k very hard, but like I said, you can't win 'em all.

If the run hadn't been excruciatingly painful, I might have enjoyed it. At least the second half, which is mostly downhill. I got to run with my old teammate Jon, then MC's brother, and I caught up with Steve at the very end. I passed a girl in my AG with 800m to go, securing my 3rd place pottery piece. As Laura mentioned, we could always just go buy the stuff. Way easier. But as rewarding? Doubtful. And isn't that why we do these things? Wait, why DO we do these things again? Gotta be the post-race lunch of chicken alfredo and vanilla ice cream. That's topping the list for me.

Friday, June 5, 2009

my new ride

Check out what I rode in to work on today, it's maiden voyage:

I'm in love!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


What are true necessities in triathlon? We get so caught up in all the new-fangled gear that sometimes I think we get confused about what we really NEED (if we really "need" any of this..). Think about running shoes for a minute. Only in the last 30-40 years have we even had such things. There are arguments for and against their necessity, and I have to say that the ones against all the shoe technology are quite convincing. I seemed to decrease my pronating tendencies and need for support when I stopped getting those motion control Beasts several years ago. But decide for yourself. Read here.

Apparently the requirement for a complete Memphis in May triathlon weekend are the standard photo poses. Aren't there always similar ones at your hometown race when you have multiple cameras pointed your way?

Wetsuit + swim cap head (thanks Charlie for sharing this with me):
Bent over in transition:

Applying bodyglide, mushy stomach included (thankfully the bent over in transition and bodyglide application were NOT captured simultaneously and from behind like last year):

Actually running, and uphill even (albeit SLOWLY-- and yeah, this was the first 100 yards of the run):

Post race pictures with Laura in our matching jackets (when is the last time it wasn't 90F at MIM??):

Ridiculous post race beer consumption pose (with a Terrapin brand beer.. ahem, team):
And that completed my weekend of races. That and the Amateur Challenge check I got for 3rd place. That 34 seconds by which Susan beat me cost me $75! That's like a race entry fee, as long as you sign up 5 months in advance and already have your USAT insurance and bribe the race directors... or one-seventh of the IMLouisville entry fee that I'm not getting back... or the cost of the numerous bottles of cough syrup and meds I took over the weekend... But really, who's counting? A check's a check and I'm heading to cash it.