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.