Saturday, February 28, 2009

We might as well win

That's the name of the book I read today. It was written by Johan Bruyneel, team director for US Postal and Discovery when Lance won 7 tours, and Contador won his first. Its a great look into the mind of this most amazing multi-tasking bicycle racing master. The stories of his stage win for his father who had passed away suddenly, and the connection with how Lance won his stage in memory of Fabian Casertelli, were touching, and showed how emotion can carry people to do amazing things. And his sprint win over Indurain, after hanging on for dear life for 30 miles, even someone who is not the most gifted physical athlete, can do amazing things when the time is right, and the mind works right. The stories of his office (the team car) during a race, wow, this guy could do ten things at one time, while having conversations with riders in 5 languages, and make split second decisions that lead to the results they train and plan for months. There are so many great stories and things to think about in this book. My favorite is, and this is not quoted word for word, but 'you have to be willing to risk losing, for a chance to win'. And while he was talking about winning the biggest cycling race in the world, I can apply it to my own race against myself. I've said this to my coach and some friends a few times, that one of these days I need to race from wire to wire, not holding back just because I'm afraid to hurt, and because the run is the hardest part of a tri for me. This year I will take risks, and see what I can do.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Graeters ice cream - the best ice cream in the whole wide world, and one that I was fortunate to grow up with, is now for sale in Bloomington, at O'Malias grocery store! woohoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Safety or Save Energy?

Every morning I walk my dogs, in the dark. I wear a headlamp all the time. Its early, the only people I see are the paper delivery folks, and the once a week garbage collection. It’s a small town, we all wave, and say Hello as we pass by each other. Even though I wear a headlamp, I’m hyper aware of the streetlights that are out. And I have this moral war that goes on in my mind. I want to report the light outages so they get them back on, because they make me feel more comfortable. But I also think we use way too much energy lighting up the cities. So, do I report the outages, or not? I prefer to be able to see skunks that might pop out of a dark set of bushes, broken glass on the road (so I can keep the dogs from stepping on it), and other assorted odd things I see at o’dark thirty in the mornings, and the headlamp doesn't cast that wide of an arch. But I also hate all the wasted energy that is used. I think streetlights are not a waste of energy. Right? That’s what I’m thinking. There is a stretch of homes at the far end of my neighborhood where I would call the homes, compounds, not just houses. One of them I counted the outside lights one morning while the dogs were eating deer poop in their yard. And I stopped when I got to 50! Yes, 50 outdoor lights in the yard, and along the eaves of the house. I sure hope they have their own solar panel or something generating their own electricity. What a waste of energy! I also hate the shopping areas with those tall bright lights in the parking lots. I wish Bloomington would set some guidelines to attempt save energy:
1) All parking areas can leave on all lights during business hours (when its dark), but overnight, they should have to shut off every other light (even half of them on will still provide safety, but save half the energy cost)
2) All businesses should only have one security light on all night, including the outdoor sign (if its an illuminated one), between midnight and 6am (unless they are open during those hours) - because I think many of them also have security systems, do they really need all those lights? If so, cut them in half of the current number, just something to make a small gesture.
3) Homeowners and businesses, and the city of Bloomington should only have outdoor Christmas lights on between dusk and midnight, otherwise turn them off and save energy!
4) Homeowners can cut back on outdoor lights that are left on overnight also.

This morning after my dog walk, and my run workout, I got online to the energy company and reported 4 streetlight outages in the neighborhoods near me. So much for saving energy, but this is one way I will not skimp.

Here are 10 things I’ve tried to incorporate into my personal habits to save energy:
1) Ride my bike to work, unless the weather is absolutely horrid (its only 2.5 miles one way for me, so I feel like I have no excuse to do otherwise)
2) Ride bike for small errands (if I can fit things in small backpack, ride bike). If I have to drive, wait until I have 3 errands to do, and do them all at once. Always plan route to be most energy efficient
3) Only drive to trails outside of town an average of one day per week each year (this means I get a few doubles some weeks since there are weeks in winter/spring when I don’t go at all).
4) Save water - No showers after evening swim practice if I’ll be working out the next morning, and take a shower then before work
5) Turn off lights at home that aren’t being used
6) Microwave instead of oven/stove cook when possible – it uses less energy
7) This summer I will try to line dry clothes instead of the dryer (this will be a tough one for me, as I have tried it before, and just get lazy as its much easier to just toss form washer into dryer, instead of carrying outside and hanging on a line)
8) Use biodegradable poop bags to pick up the dogs poop, since biodegradable uses less energy to decompose than a century required to decompose a plastic bag
9) When grocery shopping, take my own bag, and if there is not enough room, all other items go back into cart loose, and get loaded into car loose, and carried into house an armload at a time
10) Reuse all bags at least once, or until they fall apart (this includes the wax paper bags in cereal boxes – they are great for storing food in the refrigerator)

If you have other ideas, please let me know!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Buried in the Bailout: The Bicycle Commuter Act

This morning I actually received a communication from IU (I work at IU), regarding the potential benefits for bike commuters in the federal bailout plan. They say to IU bike commuters:

If you bicycle to work, save the receipts for your commuting-related costs. Starting this year, bicycle commuters might be able to claim reimbursement of some of their expenses thanks to the federal bailout bill of October 2008. Buried in the legislation was the Bicycle Commuter Tax Provision, which expands commuter fringe benefits enjoyed by drivers and public transportation users to bicycle computers.

According to IU Human Resources, the details of reimbursement are pending. The IRS has not yet issued regulations regarding the administration of the bike benefit. “As soon as the regulations are issued, we will evaluate what it will take to implement this benefit at IU.”

I wonder if I could manage a new commuter bike out of this! My current one is a 15 year old mtb with slick tires, its heavily weathered, and in need of some major TLC. Or.... I could get a new bike! Then I would really be doing my part for the economic stimulus plan by buying one. I'd be spending money, supporting bike & component manufacturers, using renewable energy resources by riding my bike instead of driving (just put food in my stomach, and my legs are ready to go). Not using fuel, or emitting carbon dioxide (well, maybe a little on occasion, you know what I mean), getting exercise (being healthy, keeping my health care costs down).

I've got my eye on the Felt Urban X

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rest Week! LOVE IT!

When I made up my own training schedules in previous years, or followed pre-written plans, I never felt the need for rest weeks. I never really felt that tired. Now that I have a coach writing my workouts every week, I need rest weeks. And I look forward to them. I guess that tells me that I wasn’t working very hard before.

What will I do this rest week?
Well, my legs should be feeling better by Wednesday from the smashing they took the past week. Yeah, I may not be the fastest athlete out there, and I may not log the most hours, or work the hardest, but for myself, I put in 4 really tough workouts in the past week, at the end of a 3 week block of good training, the running race on Saturday did me in. I have actually learned that when I try to run short fast races, I end up with more painfully sore muscles for a couple days after, than I do after a long race. Go figure!

I’ll try to stretch and loosen up a lot, work on some core strength, and I only have to swim twice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I’ll save water, because I won’t take a gazillion showers. And I won’t have loads and loads of laundry.

I won’t have to prepare myself for another 4 hour bike ride in cold windy weather. And maybe by the time the next weekend rolls around, the weather will be mildly warmer. The its daylight savings time, and we get more light in the evenings!

I could sleep in every day past 5am, if my dogs would let me (they won’t).

I will try out at least one new dinner recipe (done! Tried a new way to prepare salmon last night.)

I will try to stay away from the sweets, and not gain any weight.

I am also going to have Todd watch my running form, and figure out what I have to do to make it better. I spent decades working on my swim stroke, I should spend time on the run too.

On Sunday I’ll swim in my last masters meet of 2009, so I’ll visualize each race, and try to get the darn PR's this time! (PR for post college swimming, that is.)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

IU Womens Swimming wins Big Ten Championships!

congrats to the IU women's swim team for winning the Big Ten Championships. They had so many awesome swims, and so much depth in so many events. It is great to see them come out with the win. I see the girls frequently when they are getting out of the pool after long training sessions, and I'm getting in for my little 60 minute (or less) swim. College swimming is definitely my favorite sport (I may be a little biased there ;-)

Can't wait to see how the NCAA meet goes!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Center of the Universe

I live in Bloomington, IN, a town that some Hoosiers believe is the center of the college basketball universe. Last night it moved a few hours north of here, to West Lafeyette, In. And I admit since I moved to Indiana from the center of the college football universe (Ohio, ok, that’s a stretch too), I have become a fan of a good basketball game. I’m by no means an obsessive fan, and I don’t watch every game faithfully, but if Todd has a game on, and it is a good game, I’ll get drawn in, and enjoy watching it. Last night was one of those games. Purdue (ranked #21, and Todd's alma mater) was playing Michigan State (number 5) at Purdue. And they played like they owned the court. Their game flowed, and looked effortless, and strong. They played with heart, and kept pushing themselves to make plays all the way to the buzzer. You can tell these guys just love to play the game.

I’ll try to take those lessons to my next race . I will race with heart, from the start to the finish. Think strong and effortless. And love to play the game.

Monday, February 16, 2009

For my Grandpa

My grandpa Z died in 1976, when I was 10 years old. Grandma and grandpa lived just a few miles from us, so I saw them frequently as I was growing up. Even though I was only 10 when he died, I have a lot of fond memories of him. He was a very tall man. He smoked a pipe, so he always had that sweet smell of pipe tobacco about him. I still think of him when I walk past someone who smells like pipe tobacco. He had a big chair in the living room that he’d sit in, and I’d climb up and sit with him and he’d make up stories for me. He had a vegetable garden, and I remember picking green beans, and snapping the ends off, I haven’t snapped a green bean since then. I had long hair, and he’d take me to the utility sink and wash it with the most yummy smelling shampoo, he’d shampoo and scrub, soap running down my eyes, then wrap up my head in a big towel. This is my favorite memory of him and me.

Grandpa also collected coins. He grew up during the depression, so he hid money in places in the house, instead of putting it in the bank. After he died, my mom and dad, and grandma searched air ducts and nooks and crannies trying to find it all. Not sure if they ever did. But they found plenty. Grandpa bought proof sets for the grandkids when he was alive. I still have them, plus a few other things from his collection. And now I collect some coins too. I never look for rare coins, that doesn’t really interest me. I like to collect coins from other far away places. Or coins that are pretty. Not exactly a coin collectors mentality. But I enjoy it. My most recent collection was the state quarters. I completed the book last week. I have all 50 states. They aren’t new uncirculated coins. Just every day quarters. But its my collection. And I dedicate it to my grandpa.

My favorites in the collection are:
Connecticut – this big beautiful branching tree, it looks just like the trees I used to draw as a child.
Mississippi - magnolias! What more do you have to say. They are beautiful.
Maine – I’ve always loved the look of light houses.
Wisconsin – because I think cows are the cutest!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

swim meet!

Being an old, over the hill retired swimmer, I still toss my hat in the ring at an occasional masters swim meet. Today was a meet at my home pool, here in beautiful Bloomington (how can a town named Bloomingotn not be beautiful!), so I swam a few events.

so, I go to the meet, warm up 2k or so. Talk to a few swimmers who I see once a year. Nadine Day , swimmer extraordinaire!, was there. She is many time national age group champion, many time world age group champion, national record holder. She just had a baby 2 months ago (and I heard she swam in a meet 2 weeks before she delivered). SHe is tough as nails. She swam the 400IM, by herself. She put on a nice stroke clinic for all of us watching. An 83 year old, Thomas ?, also swam the 400im, and kicked ass. I've watched him swim for years, he broke a national record here last year. He is a bad ass, also swam the 200fly - at 83 years old! I also saw one guy swim the 200fly, and he had the most unorthodox, but normal (and legal) stroke, it was just very long, he paused at the start of each stroke, so he only took 5 strokes per lap! in a 200 fly! the whole way! There are so many interesting people who show up at the meets, I really enjoy watching and hearing the stories between many of them. I guess its not much different than going to a tri.

I swam my first swim meet when I was 5 years old. 25 backstroke. I finished third and got a ribbon. It was so exciting for me. So, now its 37 years later, and I'm standing on the blocks again. I wonder how many times I've done this. I'm guessing I've raced thousands of swim races in my lifetime. I'm in the first event, 200im. But the computer is broken so we sit for 40 minutes! ugh. Then I dive in, and my goggles filled up on impact, and one actually sort of twisted down. What an amateur! I'm sure this has not happened to me since I was 10! I was trying to decide what to do. when can I fling them off. I got through 50 fly blind, but was afraid I'd be dq'd if I tried something one handed at the turn, so I push off backstroke, and they both flop down, then back up and sit on my eyes sort of cockeyed, filled with water, oh this was unbelievable! At the turn I whipped them off, no idea where they went. Swam the last 100 without. final time was not great. I found my goggles on the bottom of the pool, next lane over. The ref came over and told me not to fling them next time. Heck, I'm not sure in the heat of a race I'd be calm enough not to do that if it ever happened again. It better never happen again.

so, now I'm thinking I should just chuck swim meets for this year, and worry about tri, so I could just gouge out my eyes with a hot poker from the freestyle workouts. Then I kicked myself in the ass, and tightened up the goggles, and put on my big girl pants, and got up on the blocks for the 100 fly. ANd hallelujah! the goggles stayed on. Someone started tying bricks to my arms the last 25, and I had not asked for that. I managed to get to the wall, and immediately walked over the score table and told them I was scratching the 200 fly (I may be stupid enough to enter it, but I'm not stupid enough to swim it!)

Next up, 100 back. my favorite event. Had a great start (I love it when I have a good backstroke start, everything seems to flow well if the start goes well), a great 75, was swimming nice and straight, no issues with the lane lines trying to snare me, just as I was feeling overly confident, I was approaching the wall and realized I was going to be either one stroke short, or one longgggggggggg stroke away. I opted for one stroke, instead of two short jamming strokes. Bad choice! I was too short on the wall, and had no leverage for a good push off, and again my last 25 suffered because of it.

SO, some good things at the meet, some not so good. ALways something to learn, even for someone who has raced thousands of races. I know it must seem strange for triathletes who do races that take hours, to understand the interest in doing a swim race that lasts one minute. It probably seems so wimpy. But it is a big challenge to put together all the details for a good race. Its little things that cost or save you tenths of a second that make the difference between a bad race, a good race, and a great race. In a 100 backstroke, here's what goes through my mind, all in just 60 seconds: place feet wide on start, pull up just a little, not too far, push off strong, head back, arch, smooth entry into water, streamline, dolphin kick hard, 6 - 8 kicks, break out with 2 strong pulls, stay centered, smooth strokes, strong kick, don't overkick the first 50, focus on swimming straight. at the flags, know how many strokes to the wall, time it right, don't screw up the turn, it costs too much time. smooth rotation onto stomach, good dolphin, flip, streamline again, tight to the ears, and kick strong, 5-6 kicks. Again, stay centered, build the 25, but save the legs.second turn at the 50, repeat, but now put the kick into the third 25, and work on strong pulls. don't slow down the turnover, and get ready, the last turn has to be best (yes, i know this, and have done millions of good turns, but that doesn't guarantee that you don't have a dumbass attack during a race and screw up!). And as I said above, I screwed it up. Then I had to really overwork the weak push off the wall, and waste the legs. Still trying to tell myself not to give up, keep turning it over, get to the wall as strong as possible. Its a lot to think of in 60 seconds! ANd then its over. And you think back to the mistakes, and hope the next one has fewer mistakes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Elkhart, IN

Last night as I listened to President Obama speak, the more he talked about Elkhart, IN, the more I day dreamed about my college swimming days. You see, one of my teammates at Miami was from Elkhart. Tracy was a distance swimmer. She was small, maybe 5’5’’ and all of 110 pounds soaking wet. And that girl could swim forever. I remember one day when we were leaving the weight room, she was walking with her arms way out wide, like she was some big hulking guy and I asked her what was wrong with her arms. She looked at me funny, and I said why are you walking like that. She just looked at me and said I always walk like this, my arm and shoulder muscles are so big and pumped up, they just go this way. She was a funny, 110 pound hulk. Tracy and I also shared an apartment one summer, went to summer school, and trained together, mostly running, little swimming. One day standing on our little step, she leaned her hands up against the storm door to stretch her legs, and crash – her hands went straight through the glass, sliced up her arms, and I was on the phone calling 911 for an ambulance, as neither of us had a car. She and I also called 97x (the local radio station) on a daily basis to answer trivia and other contests to win casettes (yep, we are old!), fried chicken from Krogers, and other assorted goodies. The radio station eventually tried to put a stop to us winning (there weren’t a lot of people in Oxford in summer to even play, so we won all the time), so we just started using names of other girls on the swim team, and kept on winning!

As Obama kept talking, my mind kept wandering. Jo was a little 17 year old girl who joined our team from way far away down under. She showed up the day after Christmas my sophomore year , and headed down to Florida for Christmas training with us. The first workout, coach put her and I in the same lane. I knew she was a great IM’er, and I had her lead the set of 400 IM’s. Well, in Australia they swim left to right, opposite of the direction we swim. And on the first 400, she pushed off back stroke as I was coming in fly, and she pushed off straight into me. We crashed hard, stood up, almost crying, and I’m sure she thought I was just going to bite her head off. I didn’t. I watched her later show up at the beach in a teeny tiny bikini, eating chocolate like she had never eaten chocolate in her life before. She grew up fast in America, and I think she enjoyed her experience to the fullest. Oh yeah, Jo spent Christmas with me the next year before another FL training trip. For 3 days she and I would go to McDOnalds and eat, and soak our hair and swimsuits in the sink in the bathroom instead of going to the pool to swim - we were such cheaters when we had no supervision!

I can remember freshman swimmer initiation (ok, let’s be honest and call it hazing!). The first week of class, we all show up to the pool, are told to put on swim suit, cap, goggles, and running shoes. We are split into teams, given a list of items we have to run around town searching for – into the library, restaurants in town, the presidents house. It was most embarrassing! But a memory that still brings a smile.

I remember Barb, who was a senior when I was a freshman, and I sharing a lane a lot. We were both backstrokers. She swam at Cincinnati Marlins too, and so I swam with her 4 years prior in high school. One summer at a meet at the U of Chicago pool, Barb dove into lane 8 for the 400im long course, and the strap on her suit broke. And she kept swimming! She was a tough cookie, nothing stopped her. Betsy was the tall skinny girl on the team, but she had to sleep with a pillow between her legs because she couldn’t stand the fat on her legs touching. I think I heard the ET has a relative that ended up winning one of the Survivor episodes.

Jen and Lynn, 2 years ahead of me, were tough, and funny, and I have reconnected with them through Facebook, and that has been so fun. And its such a small world, Jen used to work with a friend of mine here in Bloomington, when they both lived in Kansas City working at the NCAA. It really is a small world.

Well, just a little college swimming reminiscing… some of those things I hadn’t remembered, but Obama brought the memories flooding back – thanks Barack!

Monday, February 9, 2009

back home again in Indiana

I can hear Jim Nabor singing Back Home again in Indiana every time I fly back home. The last day of camp was a short half day. I got in a 3rd ride in 3 days, and that made the weekend. I have not been able to ride outside three days in a row at home in a long time. I'm tired, but also have some new motivitation to keep training and get ready for the race season. Heather, Jen, Elizabeth and Monica all shared secrets of their success, and I'll try to keep all the ideas in the forefront of my mind and put them into action. Most importantly, I want to stick to the plan. Do my best to hit every workout. Learn from the mistakes. Be prepared for anything. Take good care of my body. Rest, recovery, good nutrition. Most of all, enjoy what I'm doing, otherwise, its not worth doing.

They just released the wave starts for New Orleans 70.3. The race is huge! There are 23 waves. And guess what wave w40-44 are in? yep, wave 23! The race starts with the pros going off at 7am, and I start at 8:30! I'm going to have to come up with a strategy to deal with this mentally, because this really bums me out to be starting 90 minutes after the start of the race.

I walked the dogs this morning, everything back to our normal routine. I fell on some black ice, and mashed my left thumb into the pavement. Its not working quite right now, hopefully it will not stay like this for long. I don't want to go back to work, but its going to be 60 degrees here today, so I don't have too much to complain about. Life is pretty good.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

camp day 2

started with a medium length run on some sandy trails, a nice treat rather than running on the roads. Then a few of us nuts headed to the ocean. Water temp was 56 degrees! so wetsuits were required. We didn't swim much, out to the nearest buoy and back twice. .That was enough for me! I forgot my camera, so hopefully someone else will post some photos. Then another 60 mile ride, I started to blow the last 3 miles so I opted out of the last short loop, and came back to the room, cleaned up, walked to the grocery to buy some pears for my trip home tomorrow afternoon, and now I'm watching Michigan State beat up on Indiana, before heading to pancake dinner!

Here are a few shots:

the local alligator, just to prove I am in Florida

two of the women at camp graduated from IU in the 90's, I think they have forgotten the IU cheer:

and the group heading out for a ride

first day at camp

I'm in Florida for a few days of summer camp. Well, its not summer camp, but it sort of feels likethat! The camp is hosted by Heather Gollnick , Jen Harrison, and Elizabeth Fedoskey. They are fast, funny, thoughtful. The day started with a light breakfast at a bike shop that has a coffee shop, similar to Bike & Bean in Bloomington, only this place has 3 big soft leather sofas, its a pretty cushy center for our activities. The guys at the shop checked our bikes the night before, so I didn't have to mess with trying to readjust the shifting after reassembling the bike after travel. We started with a short run - the fast girls missed the return trip turn, and ran a little extra, I didn't nmiss it and got back to Run2Fit where everyone got a gait analysis. I learned I can be wearing neutral shoes, not stability, and that I might want to try a lighterweight shoe for racing. We did some drills, some of the a little crazy, I cannot hop/run on one foot very well.Nextstop was a snack, and on the bikes. The first 30 mile loop was mellow, we regrouped 3 times. Then some of us road another loop, and we had a faster lap riding with Jen, Liz and Heather, and Jen Cunnane, who are fast, and it was great fun to ride with them. Next onto the pool. They videotaped everyone, and we had a small workout. The pool was outside, and while it was windy and mid 60's outside, the water was about 85. SO it felt good in the water, but I found it a little too warm to actually do a workout. But I enjoyed swimmig outside - Saturday will be a big change in the 56 degree ocean! ANyways, by now I was starving and desperately needed food, and had a giant plate of past aand seafood for dinner. Thet hit the spot, and something like 14 hours later I was ready for bed!

Now its Saturday morning, and we will start again. SOme interesting things about the other campers. Two went to school at IU, one of themm evengrew up in Cincinnati, and she was a swimmer, at Sycamore high school. Three of the women are from Louisville. Its a small world that we all ended up here at the same camp. I finally got to meet Jen in person, she is funny and confident and supportive. Its a great learning experience to listen to Heather, Liz, Jen, and Monica to talk about the ways they motivate themselves, how they handle difficult times during races, and simple strategies for coping with what a race can throw at you. Lots of great info today, and some great training in the sun. I got to ride my bike in shorts and a short sleeve jersey, andswim outdoors. in February! That's pretty exciting since I left home and it was 0 degrees (yeah, I know its warm up there this weekend too, but not quite warm enough toswim outside!). ok, I did get a little sunburn on my face. And I'll need an extra dose of chamois cream before todays ride, since I rode 60miles yesterday in trishorts without any, I'm a little tender today!

hope everyone at home is having fun. I miss Todd and Sam and Daisy and Junior (ok and Peanut, even though she pretty much keeps to herself). See you all Sunday night.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I’m going to camp!

Tomorrow I’m leaving to go to camp in Florida where I will swim and ride and run in sunshine for 3 days! It will be a welcome departure from the cold and snow of Indiana. I’m sure it will be challenging, humbling and fun.

I’ve been to camp before. A couple years ago I went to mountain bike camp. It was a blast, I learned a lot of great skills – both physical and mental skills – that I use every time I ride my mountain bike.

Years before that I went to a snowboarding camp. It was fun. But cold. And the last day I had a bad crash on the steeps of Jackson Hole and paid for it with a serious neck injury. So, I switched from snowboarding to mountain biking – its much safer! ha ha ha