Thursday, April 30, 2009

184 – finally!

No, I didn’t get my weight down to 184 (thankfully I’m not even close to that).

And It doesn’t have to do with watts, ftp,lt,abc, 123, whatever those letters and numbers are, (although I’d love to be able to hold 184 watts for a half im!).

It’s pretty close to my max hr – although I haven’t seen that number on my hr monitor in decades, but that's not it either.

It’s my latest cholesterol number. For years, I’ve hovered in the 220 range, and I try to eat healthy, and cut way back on ice cream and other fatty treats. But it never varied much. I just had another check, and it was 184! I don’t know what has changed, in the last year I did switch from 2%milk to 1%milk, and I drink quite a bit of milk. My good cholesterol is good, my bad cholesterol is bad – isn’t everyone’s, I mean, how can bad cholesterol be good ;-)

So, all is good on the health front. I just realized that since I started training with Jen in November (after getting over some crazy entrapped nerve in my leg), I have had no injuries! (knocking on wood right now). I really think it has everything to do with the perfect balance she aims for in every week of workouts. Thanks Jen! And my latest push to improve my nutrition is going well. I’m on week 3, and have not fallen off the wagon. I’m weighing in only once every other week, so we’ll see if I knock off another pound or 2 at the next weigh-in.

I’m at the end of a 3week block of training, feeling a little tired, but not bad. Tired of cleaning bikes after riding in the rain though! Last night it downpoured in the middle of hill repeats on the bike. Gotta love the sting of rain drops (pellets) pelting you as you scream down a hill. And the day before my entire run was in heavy rain, enough to make my shorts so heavy they kept falling down! And guess what? it’s raining now, and rain is in the forecast for the next bazillion days. Ahhhhhhh, I love spring. At least its not cold anymore.

Lately I’ve been thinking I want to try ironman again. I’ve been thinking this for years now, and always back out. I only want to do it when I’m ready to be very positive about the training, and ready to train to set myself up for the best race possible. I probably need someone to talk me out of it. I really don’t mind the hours on the bike. I love riding my bikes more than I like to swim and run. It would mean less time on my mountain bike though, which I absolutely love to ride, and would miss. And it means long runs, and I seem to start to struggle past 2 hours on training runs (I think that is my brain struggling more than my body). And longer swims (ick, more freestyle). But other than that, maybe I’m ready!

So, ironman is at least a year off, if I decide to do one, since you have to sign up so far in advance (I hate that). So for now, I have my first xterra race in May - MidWest Cup race in Michigan –quailifer for Maui World Champs – I bet it will be cold and wet – we are talking Michigan in May after all! And I’ve been on my mountain bike all of two times this spring! Woohoo. But its ok, I will get a few more rides, and the course is not technical, and my fitness will be good, and I will be ready! Then Kansas 70.3 in June! I am ready to race again.

Happy rainy Thursday. I’m sure someone out there is seeing sunshine now!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

icky la boom ba

when I was a swimmer in college, way back in time, 20 years ago, one of our cheers went like this:
leader: icky la boom ba (softly)
team: icky la boom ba (softly)
leader: icky la picky wiki (softly)
team: icky la picky wiki (softly)
leader: awful a dawful waffle (softly)
team: awful a dawful waffle (softly)
leader: oooh aahh (softly)
team: oooh aahh (softly)
repeat LOUDLY

what's the significance of some completely nonsensical string of sounds. NOTHING! Except today on my long ride that popped into my brain. I'm quite sure I have not thought of that since I was in college, but yet there I was riding out in the middle of Green County, by myself, singing icky la picky wiki (note that I spelled wicky - wiki- in homage to the computer nerd terminology) to myself. over and over. It was making me CRAZY! I think it was the wind howling through the hollers whistling strange tunes to my brain that triggered it.

The ride didn't start out alone. Randi was with me, and we picked a route south and west, so we'd get the awesome tailwind on the way home. We were chatting away, talking about bikes, dogs, the little 500 women's race that was yesterday, whatever pops into the mind. Randi and I are generally happy on the hills, but today we cursed aloud when we went up up up, and the wind blew in our faces, laughing at us, mocking us to keep asking for more. ANd we did, we kept riding, and the plan was for a few new roads, and when we saw our first 'new' road, that spit straight off the country highway we were on, it went straight up. UhOh. Not even 25 yards up the hill, both of us out of the saddle, we hear a snap, I thought she dropped a chain. Nope. Not so lucky. SHe cracked a rcank arm in half! WTF! How does that happen? So, we turn around and coast down the hill, and the tailwind in this direction blows us down the flat about 150 yards, I love not pedalling. SHe called for SAG support, and she was in a good spot, getting a little vitamin D (ie, sun), and I headed back up the hill. So steep. OUCH. My speed was 5mph. Did I say ouch? Over the top, and a long gradual downhiull into a valley, around a bend, and the road turns to shit! gravel as far as I can see - which was a few hundred yards. So, I turn around, and back up the hill (tail wind), and fly down the steep side and just tell Randi I was checking on her. She wasn't sunburned yet. SO I head back out onto the country highway for the painful solo ride into the wind. An hour later I finally hit a small gas station, need more fluid. They had pepsi, coke, and snapple, and cream and grape soda. I opted for the grape soda since I had a small amount of grape gatorade in one bottle, just topped it off with soda, downed the rest, and was on my way again. Slightly over 2 hours it was time to make the turn northeast, and there was that awesome tailwind! ANd I was just supposed to be in zone 2 now, so I was coasting and cruising , even up small hills. Only when I hit the first big hill did I have to really amp up the effort. Midway up the hill, I could something scampering across the road, my first turtle sighting (on a road) of the spring. He was hauling ass (for a turtle) and this was bascially a deserted road, so I didn't feel like I had to move him to the side, not to mention I would have never gotten back on my bike and going again in the middle of that hill. Passing a few limestone quarries on the way back into town. I glance down into them, seeing water crystal clear, thinking how great it would be to go for a little swim, and remembering the quarry scene from Breaking Away (more Little 500 images). ok, no swimming today (or any day in the quarries for that matter - they are all private property and ot open to public). I get to scream down another hill by the last quarry, and at the bottom sharp left turn, I squeeze the brakes, and there is a giant wild turkey standing in the middle of the road just looking at me. I give him a cluck cluck, and think I am such a dork, and push on home.

chocolate milk is down the hatch, and oh so welcome in my belly and in my muscles, and I feel better. A cool shower, to rinse off the 80 degree heat induced sweat. And then raisin bread french toast and maple bacon! mmmmm mmmmm good!

Now I'm chillaxin on the patio (in the shade), dogs on either side of me, I think I need to shop (windows shop, that is). Its been some time, and I think I need a few things. No, not a new swimsuit! Not that I wouldn't like a new one, but the last time my mom was here a few weeks ago, she said she counted mine and I had 28 suits hanging (that means they are in my current rotation) and I guess that's enough for now.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

earth wind and fire

No, not these guys.

Yesterday was Earth Day. I don't really understand the designation of days for things we should be doing all the time. Oh well. In addition to the usual routine (riding bike to work, using biodegradeable poop bags to pick up after dogs, taking lunch to work in reusable plastic containers, I even skipped a shower in the morning to save water!), yesterday we had 7 new modern energy efficient windows installed at home to replace the last 40+ years old windows. yeah!!!!!!!

In addition to Earthday, yesterday was also incredibly windy, and I had a nice hard interval bike ride to accomplish. I'm trying to learn to love the wind (or at least not hate it). ANd I put my head down and got it done. I would have cried going into the strong head/cross wind, but it would have used up too much energy, plus I was trying to be a big girl with a tough as nails attitude, and Big Girls Don't Cry! It did make me wonder (wind and earth theme) why every house in the world doesn't have a solar panel and a small wind turbine on its roof to generate its own electricity. I know, $$$$. But really, how cool would that be!

Fire! Well, the only fire is the one I tried to light under my a$$ as I pushed through each interval and the wind.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Rock Garden

1. stretches of rock in a dirt path, laid there naturally by mother nature thousands of years ago, or recently by human hands
2. mountain bikers technical challenge
3. rusty mountain bikers crash magnet

one of several man made rock gardens at Brown County:

So, yesterday I hit the trails on my mountain bike, for the first ride in 3 months. The technical skills were a little rusty, but the fitness was good. Even on the hills, yes, we have hills in Indiana!

Here's the profile (2400ft of climbing, green line is elevation profile):

But back to the rock garden. You see, no trail riding for a few months, leaves you feeling like a novice again, rusty and anxious. The first rock garden I hit is one that for some reason last year I kept dabbing all fall(one foot down for a second for balance), even though I cleared it many times all summer. Yesterday I told myself just ride it, don't over think it, look forward, and pedal strong. And what do you know, I didn't dab! Woohoo. But worse, when I would have dabbed, my foot was still firmly in the pedal, and next thing I know my back left side ribs are crashing onto a big flat rock, and the feet are still in the pedals! STUPID!!!!!!!!! First thought: breathe. Second thought: ouch, I wonder if that could have broken a rib? Third thought: get off the trail, there will be people coming upon you soon. So, I untangle myself and bike, and flopped the bike down into the brush next to the trail, past the rocks, and bent over, hand on knees, breathing, assessing the ribs. Deep breathing hurt. A lot. Normal breathing was ok. Slightly tender to the touch, but not terrible. Conclusion: Couldn't be broken rib, probably just bruised. ok, keep riding! Oddly enough, the next difficult rock garden, which I screw up and dab (or stop) at least 50% of the time, I cleared! Go figure. And then on the next intermediate (I call it advanced intermediate) trail section, I dabbed twice, and never fell or stopped! so, the skills improved as I rode. But let me tell you. If you have never ridden a mountain bike, its a whole 'nother ballgame from a tribike and a road bike. On a tribike, its a lazy mans upper body ride (I should not generalize, it is for me! compared to how I use my upper body on the mtb). The tribike is all leg and lungs (and neck). Your skeleton supports your upper body, and your arm muscles get nothing. Road bike is slightly more upper body work, but not that much (case in point, check ou the Tour riders, puny arms!). But get on a mountain bike, and ride for a few hours, and you will feel it in your legs, your arms, your back, everything will tell you that you just put out some serious muscular effort. And I love that achey tired feeling. And there are minutes that you are scared and on edge, and you love those minutes even more! It's good to be back on the trails!

When I got home, Todd had punctured his lower leg with a stick as he was cutting up branches that had been piled up in the yard from the winter and spring storms, and a few days ago he broke his toe. We are an offocial mess today.

Mess or not, painful rib or not, I had another trail adventure for this morning. Running this time. And my Miss Daisy (no, not Jen H.), was going with me. Daisy has only been on 50minute runs all winter, so this was going to be pushing her limit. 90 minutes and hills. Fortunately, the rains have filled the streams, and I knew on this trail we'd cross a stream every 10 minutes, plus run by the lake,plenty of water for her.

The goal of the run was to stay in zones 1-3, a good challenge on these hills. This trail is at the Paynetown recreation area. I have no idea why they call it Paynetown. 'Pain'-town is much more appropriate.

Well, we made it! No falls, no twisted ankles, and I didn't have to fireman carry Daisy out (thank goodness, because with the rib, I could not have done it).

Here is how Daisy will spend the day (sorry for the blurry pic, and I'm too lazy to go take another).

Likewise, Junior. This is him after pulling an all nighter outside. He's being banished inside for a while, as he has killed 2 tiny baby bunnies in the last few days. BAD KITTY!

If I could learn to bottle his relaxation techniques, and put them to use on the mountain bike, I would be rocking the trails!

get it, 'rock'in the trails!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

long course meters

It's that time of year. My main training pool is beginning the transition to long course meters. For the next month, its still short course yards (yeah!) most lap swim times, but occasionally long course meters. So, now, every time I have a swim, I have to figure out what I have to do to get the swim in short course yards, figuring the logistics of where and when I can work it in around my work schedule and any other workout that day. But, soon, it will be long course all the time, and I either give into long course, or swim at the old pool (which is only short course). I don't really like the old pool (although Mark Spitz and Gary Hall trained there, so if it was good enough for them, it should be good enough for me!). But I also don't really like long course (after all you can't do a real 100IM in a long course pool!). And if I want to swim outdoors in summer, its only long course.

bye bye short course yards... I'll be waiting for you to come back to me in the fall!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Its not easy being a lean mean fighting triathlon machine…

After New Orleans I knew I’d have to get serious about my nutrition, and get rid of my winter blubber, if I wanted to give myself my best chance to qualify for Clearwater. So I gave myself a couple days of downtime, no training (thank you Jen), eat my favorite foods (chocolate, chocolate ice cream, bbc chocolate chip cookies, pizza), and then I cleaned out the refrigerator and cupboards, and sat down and had a talk with myself. I said to myself ‘self, if you really want to qualify for Clearwater, you have to do more than just do each workout. You have to do each workout to the best of your ability, and you have to take care of what you are putting into your body’.

So, now I’ve been almost a week on the new improved nutrition plan. I’ve cut wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy back on my sweets (which is my biggest downfall, as you can tell from my favorite foods list). And trying to up the protein and fat, cut down the carbs, eat 7+ fruits and veggies per day. So far so good. All winter I told myself, you have no will power. Why can’t you stop eating 10 mini reese’s cups after lunch. One will suffice! But nooooooooooooo. I couldn’t have just one, it had to be 5 or 6 or 7. But now I want more out of myself. So, once I actually decided I was going to commit to this for the rest of the season and give myself the best chance I have at my races, its not been that hard. Hopefully I can keep it going.

Then , ironically, this morning, Elizabeth’s blog talks about some of this. What I am taking away from her thoughts are that all winter I wanted to eat my chocolate, and enjoy those favorite foods. But, that’s all it was. It was what I wanted to be doing. Now I really want to have the best race season I can have. And the wants of chocolate and ice cream, will be replaced with the want to race fast. And I can do it. Jen’s workouts are awesome, and I love having her guidance and planning and expertise, and I have do my part by following the plan, believing in it(which I do), and fueling myself properly. All of these things I want to do. And I’m committing to the last one now. It’s the hardest for me, but they say if you can do something for 20 days, then you can make it a habit. So, here’s to making a better healthier me!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

a sunday ride

with Angela

a good little climb

and finally I had my camera with me on a day when the turtles were sunning themselves on this set of fallen trees, and somehow managed to be quiet enough to snap a few photos before they slipped into the water.

then I came home to find Sam sunning himself on the lounge chair

Friday, April 10, 2009

Chrissie Wellington

I just read her blog about ironman australia. And on the way home from New Orleans we listened to a podcast interview from competitor radio. She is so funny. And interesting and intelligent to boot. Oh yeah, she's a pretty darn good athlete too!

She is racing Kansas 70.3. I hope I get to meet her there. I didn't meet a single pro at New Orleans. Maybe if I buy a gotribal shirt and wear it there, I'll have an in to meet her. Does that sound like I'm stalking her? I'm not! I'll just try to get a photo with her.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Orleans 70.3 in a word: CHAOS

Friday I drove to Effingham, IL with my car loaded up with bike and race gear, and met Bev, Laura and Tonya to drive to New Orleans for the 70.3 race. Laura had first drive shift, and Laura has some hobbies, adventure racing and collecting speeding tickets. She should be racing Nascar. Before we got out of Illinois, she was pulled over and given a speeding ticket. Poor Laura! $75 down the drain! The rest of the drive was long! We missed one interstate exchange, because we were busy yapping. SO, we added on one hour total with those two incidents. We rolled into New Orleans near 11pm, and the initial drive through part of the city to the hotel was our first taste of the chaos that is New Orleans. People walking everywhere in the streets. Drunk people. Drunk people with open containers of alcohol in their hands. The Hotel has 400 rooms, and parking for 100! ANd it was full. So we unloaded , and Bev and Laura went searching for parking. One hour later they returned. Laura is the go-to-girl. If something needs to be handled, she will figure out how to get it down. ANd she is only 30, but she is one smart girl.

Saturday we slept in. Spent another hour retrieving the car, and after an hour of annoying our hotel, they let us into the parking garage. At least that was no longer a worry. We went to the second race briefing along with a few hundred people, and decided instead of waiting in another long line for packets, we'd get lunch and walk to the finish area first. This was 20min north of the packet area pickup. After too much walking, and packet pickup, its 3pm and we still have to drive our bikes to transition. WHich is an hour drive through the chaos of New Orleans again. This was a nightmare, we did not know exactly how to get there, and it took a long time, fighting a lot of traffic, and we were frazzled. Not to mention the headache I had all day long. Happy to be back to the hotel finally by 7pm, we got pizza and watched Michigan State win their way to the final of the NCAA tourney.

Sunday we were up at 5am, and on a bus for shuttle to the transition area by 5:30. The swim was point to point, so we walked the 2k down to the swim start, and my wave was the last wave to start - 8:28! The first pro wave went off at 7am. I watched a lot of people swim, and I was not looking forward to swimming through hundreds of people. TUrns out the swim was great. The swim was between a sea wall and buoys about 100 yards off shore, and you were supposed to stay inside the buoys, so everyone was spread out, and I pretty much swam the whole swim without much traffic. One gal in my wave took off and I thought I should go with her, but I was thinking it was a long day, just chill. Turns out it was Jill Gellatly, who I have raced against many times in tris and masters, and at Lake Placid 1999, she and I came out of the swim together as first AG women. I should have stayed with her. I was too lazy. Next race will be different! SO, the swim was uneventful, and hopped on the bike. Starting in the last wave, I was basically passing people the entire 56 miles. The wind was strong, and I tried to put my head down when it was a head or side wind. I started the bike with 2 bottles of nuun, and 2 bars. Thinking I'd get gatorade at the aid stations (because I had forgotten to bring my own for the start - I knew I'd forget something!). ANyways first aid station, there was only water. I dumped one bottle, and took some fresh water. Second aid station, only water! I was getting worried now. As the return ride was far windier and I wanted more calories, and eating the second bar was not going down so easy in the 85 degree heat. Third aid station had no water, and no gatorade! The RD will hear from me about this! The rest of the bike I tried to be calm even though I knew I probably didn't get enough calories, probably 400 total 3 hours into the race. I knew I had gels at transition and water and gatorade on the run. The last 9 miles of the bike were so hard. I was at 2:15, and thought I'd cruise in around 2:45, even with the headwind. But I slowed way down, wind and nerves, and didn't roll in until 2:51. Damn. Ok, I tell myself, to use this as a learning experience for next race. But also don't give up for the run. Jen has been giving me great workouts, and I have been riding a lot, and running decently. I didn't know my place, I thought maybe 5th -7th. I just started running. The first 3 miles are along the lakefront, no shade, and a 20-30mph wind blowing straight into us. It was painful, and I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. The turn around came, and just having the wind behind me now was a blessing. I was managing the heat somehow even with the dinw not cooling me off. Around mile 4 I actually passed a girl in my AG. I never pass anyone on the run! This was a big mental boost. I was not wearing a watch so I had no idea how fast I was running, but I felt really solid. ANd spectators I passed were encouraging telling me I looked strong, and I felt that way, since I was passing people the whole way. Starting in the last wave, has that advantage. By mile 6 I passed a second girl in my AG. Now I was trying to remain calm, and thinking I need to keep this pace and build, and maybe I can catch one or two more, and maybe no one will catch me from behind. Well, that was it, no one else did catch me, but I also didn't catch anyone else. The last mile I was hurting, but I pushed to the finish, crossed the line, had a mini asthma attack, wheezing, and stumbling to the ground. But I recovered quickly, and found my way to a smoothie and some shade. Found Bev who had placed second in her AG, (and got a slot to the World Championships!), and we waited for Laura and Tonya. TUrns out I was 6th in my age group. I was hoping for top 10, top 3 was my big goal. I was right there. Only 7 minutes out of qualifying for the world championships. Not bad for an early season race that was contested in 85 degrees, while I've been training in winter and early spring conditions, and not getting all the calories I needed on the bike. I can't wait to race again!

During the run I was thinking about Sam back at home, and imagining him walking next to me , Daisy running next to me, pulling me home the last 5k, Todd cheering for me, the whole country cheering for Michigan State. I talked to myself, all positive things. ANd somehow at the end, even though I didn't quite PR, it didn't matter. Afte chasing PR's in masters swims this winter, and not quite getting therm, and not quite getting one here, I realized the PR doesn't matter to me anymore. Sure if I PR this year over the distance, I will be ecstatic, but I was just so happy that I fought my way through some issues, and never gave up, and fought to keep myself in contention for a shot at a world championship slot, even though I finished out of the money. I actually learned to enjoy being in the race, and not about my time. ANd now that's how I will keep racing. I will race for myself, and for the people (and pooches) who help me everyday to be able to do this. Yeah, it feels good to PR, but I felt even better knowing that I gave it everything I had on this day. ANd I know I can do it again.

ANd once my muscles stop aching, I'll get going again for the next race.

PS. After the race, we had to get Bev to the awards to get her Clearwater slot. This was a 20min walk from the race finish. and started at 4pm. SHe actually didn't know she got a slot, thinking they only had one for her AG, and she finished second. And Tonya had not finished yet. SO Laura stayed behind for Tonya, and Bev and I hobbled back to the hotel and the awards bar (yes, it was at a bar nowhere the race course). And she got a slot! Now we had to get back to the transition area to get out bikes by 6:30. But Laura was waiting for Tonya, who actually had finished, and we missed, and walked back to the hotel by herself. SO Bev was getting her slot, and Tonya and I drove to find Laura, but it was thc chaos of the French QUarter, and it took one hour to get there (5 miles) and findLaura, and now it was almost 6, and Bev was not with us, and bikes were 13 miles away! So poor Bev ran to us - we would have never made it back through the traffic. ANd we drive to the bikes. We made it, but were exhausted from the race and the utter ridiculousness of the race logistics. See, I can't even explain how chaotic it was!

SO, I'm super happy that I went to this early season race, but I will not recommend it to people, and I won't do this one next year, just because of the chaos that I could not endure again. You need to do a race and have time to relax and get ready and recover, not spend the 24 hours surrounding the race racing around getting ready for the race.

thanks everyone for thinking of me!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

NewOrleans 70.3 Predictions

My a$$ will hurt after driving 13+ hours to get to the race.

I will have some good food while I’m there (and probably I’ll indulge in something(s) that are not so good for me too!)

I will see lots of amazing pro athletes (when, I’m not sure, certainly not during the race, since they will be finished before I even start – in the last wave!)

The race will likely be a logistical nightmare, since swim start is not at transition, and race finish is 13miles from transition, neither of which is by the hotel (I don’t think).

I’ll forget something important – hopefully it is not to eat or drink during the race.

It will be hot at the end of the race, and more than likely some thunderstorms (woohoo!)

The water will be gross, and I’ll have to swim around a gazillion people.

The bike will be the flattest 56 miles I’ve ever ridden in my life, so it better be the fastest!

I will push myself to run better than I have ever run in a tri before. I will eat pain for breakfast (in the words on the famous Asian triathlon superstar, Jocelyn Wong).

I will (try to) cross the finish line with a smile.

I will miss Todd and Sam and Daisy and Junior and Peanut, and I’ll worry about Sam while I’m gone, hoping he isn’t too miserable , and that Daisy isn’t driving Todd crazy.

My a$$ will hurt even more after a second day of 13+hours of driving to come home.