Monday, November 22, 2010

giving thanks for sport

Sport is special to me. It was a big part of my life as a child. As an adolescent. As a young adult, and even today. Over 40 years, I have loved it and hated it. I have been inspired by it. I have been disappointed by it. But its always been there. And it always will be here.

I am thankful for the life lessons sport taught me. Talent may get you so far, but hard work and discipline will take you farther. Sport can lead you to dream big. It can bring you great success and reward. It can also bring you great failures. But learning from the failures is even more reward than the success. Because if you learn from failure, is it really failure?

Sport is a selfish endeavor. To have people in your life who support that selfish endeavor is special. And I am thankful for the people along the way who have supported me. They supported me when I did well. When I did poorly. When I was frustrated and tired. When I was happy. Even when my dreams seem a little outrageous to them, the support is still there.

Sport inspires me. I am inspired by the best in the world, excelling beyond our wildest imagination. I am inspired by the everyday person. The people who live everyday busy lives, but still manage to excel amongst their peers. And of course, I am inspired by the athlete who has overcome great physical or emotional adversity to excel in their endeavors.

Sport has given me a life of health and fitness. Granted there are many more important things in the world than sport, but a healthy life can help give back more to the world.

Sport has given me so many amazing friends. I have so many amazing memories of the years with my friends from my swimming years. And now great friends who I train with today, and those who I only see occasionally at a race or through facebook and email. I love you all and the fun times we have had together!

Even at 44 years of age, I still have athletic dreams and goals. I don’t know if I will reach them, but I will have fun trying.

I hope you all have a wonderful thankful week!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Overcoming Fear

On September 2, I crashed on my mountain bike. Now, I’ve crashed a lot of times on my mountain bike. Plenty of bruises, blood, lumps and bumps. But this one was different. Going down a hill, around a right hand corner (that I’ve ridden hundreds of times), the sun and the moon lined up, and the bike slid and flipped me onto my head and shoulder, and I ended up with a grade 2 AC separation (tore the ligament connecting the clavicle and scapula). A few weeks of no exercise to let it heal up a little just left me with even less fitness than I had this summer (which was very little). It has put another undetermined delay to my return to swimming (so far I have not been able to swim since April because of a different shoulder injury – to the same shoulder!). Most of all though, it left me with fear. Not shock and horror fear. But the kind of fear that sits in the back of your mind and keeps you from putting yourself out there. Keeps you from taking risks. Keeps you from having fun. Keeps you from doing what you had grown to love.

Five weeks after the crash I got back on the mountain bike. It was a slow ride. Cautious, tentative, filled with anxiety. Then I went out again. And again. And again. The improvement in my fear was not noticeable to myself. I still felt anxious. I still rode slow and cautiously. This past Sunday I was out again on the trails. I keep forcing myself to go out. Hoping that one day it will click and I’ll feel like my old self. Part of the ride I was with Meredith, who is a superb technical rider. So my goal was to stick to her like glue. I followed her choice of lines. I shut off my brain and just hung with her. And what do you know, I did it! She did not drop me, even on the long semi-technical, off camber descent. Now I know she was not riding hard, but her skills are so good that she can still haul ass down hill and on the corners, and as we neared the bottom of the hill, me just a few feet behind her, I had a smile a mile wide. I am back! Well, I am coming back. And it feels good.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I have a dream

I’ve been MIA from blogging for months. When you are injured for a very long time, and you aren’t really training or racing, doing the things that you really enjoy, its tough to think of something positive to write about. Not that one has to only write positive things, I’m sure if I looked back at what I’ve written, there is probably plenty that is not positive.

But I have had a few thoughts lately. Just a few. Related to triathlon, that is. And injury, of course.

I cannot tell you how many health care providers I’ve been to over the past year looking for the key to resolving my injuries. Several orthopedic doctors. Physical therapists. ART. Accupuncture. Massage. MAT. Countless hours reading books and crap on the internet, trying to sift through it all and come up with plans, try one for a while, try another for a while. Run much of it by Julia for her input. Out of pocket money spent. Hundreds. Insurance dollars spent. Thousands probably. Hours wasted (mostly by my fault, but also by not being able to get the right help). Months. Following up self-induced running injuries with a spectacular mountain bike crash resulting in a grade 2 AC separation. Priceless.

With all of this running to different health care providers, I had a vision. A vision of a sports injury clinic in every city. One staffed with an open-minded orthopedic doctor. And physical therapists educated in traditional PT, ART, MAT, acupuncture, massage. Nutritionists. A running coach who can do gait analysis (because, let’s face it, most injuries are running related, even if you are not strictly a runner, most sports require running). A one-stop shopping stop for injuries. Where all the doctors and PT’s help you or refer you to another specialist in their office who can help you. Why can’t we all just get along! And work together! I know the patients would be happier. Maybe not the health care providers.

OK. So, while I wish I had spent the summer training and racing. Life really wasn’t that bad (if I forget about the pain of the injuries). I enjoyed more free time. I cooked a lot more with my fresh locally grown CSA produce (I even made pumpkin pie two weeks ago from a pumpkin!). I have been training a little. Running frequently, very low mileage (I mean some days only 2 miles), and very slowly, and as often as possible on trails or grass (which is hard now on weekdays with the days getting shorter, and my daylight hours spent in the office). I’ve been riding my bike some. I cannot swim. The shoulder is very ANGRY at me. I’m working on it. Every day. I hope I can swim again. I am a swimmer. Always was. Always will be. I always dreamed of growing old, in a house on a lovely little lake, and getting up every morning and going for a lake swim, climbing out of the water, and sitting on the dock wrapped in a big blanker, sitting next to Todd, him drinking a cup of hot coffee, me and a cup of hot chocolate!, and my pooches at my feet.

So, I have been reading a bit. Books on training. Blogs on training. Blogs on racing. Interesting. Ones perspective changes when you can’t train and race. Even though I have no idea if I’ll ever be able to train again. I’ve been working on a training plan. I try to follow one now. Its pretty simple. But it’s a plan. Maybe in a few months it will have real workouts. Workouts where I push myself. Workouts where I do something perfectly. Workouts that in the end, make me smile. A race that leaves me with a smile would be great too. Heck, at this point, if I am able to do a race, it would leave me with a smile. So, for all of you folks out there who have disappointing races, smile! Its not the last race you will have (most likely). And no one else thinks any differently about you because of your race result. Your family, friends. Nope. My family and friends couldn’t give a shit that I’m slow and out of shape. Or that I haven’t done a race in a year. I have a friend who just did her last chemo treatment this past week. My father is living life again after major medical issues this spring. A young world class swimmer just perished in an open water swim race. My injuries are pathetically embarrassing in comparison.

So, life moves on. The sun goes down. The sun comes up. I keep hammering away at my health. I keep following all my friends exploits with enjoyment and inspiration. What a great summer of racing by you all! Friends who I know. Friends who I don’t know (I guess that doesn’t really make you a friend, but just someone I know). Pros. I was inspired again by the Hawaii Ironman. I still have a dream to do one again some day. I don’t know if my body will allow, but maybe. One day. And Xterra Worlds. I hope I can regain my mojo on my mountain bike and go back to that race. Next year would be nice :-)

The kids also want some face time, so here are the obligatory dog photos.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Not even as weird as the TDF podium girl black pantsuits or the polka dot upside umbrella dress

what we see in rural Indiana on a bike ride is not even as weird as the TDF podium girl black pantsuits or the polka dot upside umbrella dresses.

ok, well, maybe:

um, a meal at the bait barn, I don't think so!

its kind of cool when they don't tear down the real old fashioned stuff:

and I always love the beauty of the farmed fields:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What's been going on?

There has been a lot of nothing going on the past few weeks. Work, family time, rehab, yoga, and a little bike riding.

Last weekend I went to a two hour yoga clinic called hips, hamstrings and heart. It was led by visiting yoga guru, Lisa Richards. She was 5 months pregnant, and gumbier than gumby! Very inspiring to see so many ways that yoga can help open up my hips and hamstrings, which are my two injury prone areas. I really enjoy going to yoga, and how good it makes me feel when I leave.

The past three days Angela and I went to mountain bike camp. We took camping gear and planned to camp two nights between the three day camp. I needed something to make me feel positive about what I can do right now, since I can't do a whole lot. And when we saw that Betterride was doing a camp in Indiana, we signed up. The coach was pro downhiller Andy W. He was awesome! Super studly bike rider and amazingly great coach.

We learned a lot. Lots of drills, which I'm determined to work on regularly so I can master them and be a better rider. I cannot tell you the drills or the things we worked on, because then I'd give away all of my newly learned secrets! All I can say is the camp was great. The camping fun. The weather super hot, heat indexes over 100, buckets of sweat left in the forest, thunderstorms through the night, lots of blood donated to mosquitos, and a dairy queen blizzard three days in a row! SWEET!

Here's Andy, our superstar coach showing us how its done.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Born to Run (ha!)

I just read 'Born to Run' over the weekend. I know, everyone else read it last year. I’m a little behind the times. I loved the analysis of how people have come to the conclusion that the human body was born to run, or maybe evolved to run. I got so jazzed about running I kept thinking, yeah, I can do an ultra, I can do more marathons! I can! I can! I can! Then Sunday morning I took Daisy to the trails for a hike. Not a run. A hike. Ok, I’ll call it what it was. A walk. A simple walk. That sounds so sad for someone who wants to run. Going up the hills nagged my hamstring, and my hip got irritable, and I got so pissed off at my body not healing. I’ve been consulting with my own personal online PT and she gives me tons of ideas, questions to ask, things to look into. I want to try it all! I’m so impatient for a fix.

So, in the meantime, I ride my bike a little. I go to the pool once a week and kick. Yep, just kick. I’m taking a page from Natalie Coughlin’s play book, where she kicked for almost a year exclusively when her shoulder healed, and she made herself into the best underwater swimmer, she kills everyone off the walls. I’m going to try to improve my walls so I can kill it (the walls, that is) next time I swim a masters meet. Which at this time, may be never! (Stupid shoulder)

So, in my other copious amounts of spare time, I have tried to expand my cooking repertoire. Starting May 28, I’m going to get a weekly delivery of fresh local produce from my local CSA. So excited about that. New veggies will become a part of my weekly menu. So I thought I better start looking for recipes and trying a few new things in the meantime. The website, is awesome, lots of good veggie recipes, and easy ones too! Last night I fixed brussel sprouts. I hated bp’s when I was a kid. When mom made them, I’d have to hold my nose shut and force one down. They were the worst thing I could ever wish to show up on the dinner table. But I thought 20 years is enough time I should give them a try. And I found a simple recipe on that, and I liked them! Holy guacamole! I was shocked. Now I’m all inspired to try more veggies. Can’t wait for my CSA produce to show up!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

singletrack, two wheels and three friends

April and May have been bad months (ha, who am I fooling, February and March too!), too many injuries, failed workouts, medical issues for the very best dad in the world. I’m not training right now. No running. No Swimming. But I can ride again.
Saturday was a cold, gray blustery March day, in May. And since I’m not training, I didn’t have to face the misery of the weather, I took a day off! Sunday brought sun, breeze, and 60 degrees. Time to rediscover my love of sports.

Where do I go for this? To the trails. On my mountain bike. With my friends. And you know what. It worked! I cannot run right now. I cannot swim right now. But I can ride. So, ride I wlll. And ride I did!

It was so great to be back on the dirt. I love my mountain bike. Hopping on the bike, I felt happy. The first mile is a long easy climb. You get warmed up, bounce over a few roots, fly down a short swoopy twisty section, sans brakes, and it feels good. And I'm smiling. We chat. Laugh. Bounce along. On occasion, I feel the flow of the trail, and on occasion, I nail a corner, and on occasion, I really flub one up. The skills are hiding somewhere in my brain, so I keep trying to talk them out of my brain and into my body and bike. Sometimes they are there, sometimes totally NOT. We climb up the long Aynes climb, I'm breathing loudly as it steepens past a mile. That was expected as I have done very little for the past month that would give me power up the long climb. I’m relieved when it mellows out a bit, and you get a little swoop downhill through the green fern covered hillside. I try not to be too cautious on the off camber rocky downhill, and have a little success, hit the brakes maybe a little too often, but I’m feeling happy, and enjoying myself like I have not done in months. I clear the three rock gardens at the top of HP and I haven’t done that in a longggggggggg time. More smiles. Even on the newer intermediate trail with lots of rocks, even though I flub up, A LOT, I still smile.
After almost three hours, we are back at the car. I’m tired. But happy. I’m coming back. I’ll be back!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Shit Sam

When I was walk my dogs in the early morning darkness,I have a lot of time to think. Sometimes I talk out loud to the dogs, sometimes out loud to myself. Sometimes I just think silently.

I wonder if my neighbors heard me if they’d think my dogs names are ‘Shit Sam’,’Damnit Daisy’, and ‘Ahhh Max’, instead of Sam, Daisy and Max. Walking three big dogs is a challenge. They want to go everywhere, twisting their leashes around each other. I’m constantly swearing as I attempt to keep everything moving in a forward direction, and me not trip over any of the tangled mess. And I think dogs have a reserve tank (you know, of pee). They can go outside after a night of sleeping, take a big pee. Then take a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood and still have enough pee to stop and leave a few drops every 30 seconds or so for the whole walk.

I also wondered why do we vote for jobs like coroner. And county treasurer and clerk. Now, I’m not the most political of people, but I do understand voting for positions where political thought might impact decisions that are made for the people. But coroner? Come on! Isn’t the coroner just handling dead bodies? What could a coroner possibly do that needs the taxpayer money to be spent by holding an election for the position, as opposed to people just applying for it like any other job in this world.

Why can’t the lilacs bloom all spring and summer long? It’s such a beautiful smell to only have a for a few weeks a year.

Why do people not understand that it’s disgusting to get in a swimming pool with a ton of perfume on? And I wish my work would ban perfume from the office, just like they have banned smoking.

Why can the body do amazing things like heal an open wound in your skin in just a few days, but take weeks, even months, to heal some internal injuries?

I wonder how many days I can take off from training to heal up my injuries before I start to feel like a non-athlete. And once I feel like a non-athlete, will I think, hey, I kind of like this non-athlete thing!?

hmmm.... I wonder.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book review: 'Making toast : a family story'

Making toast : a family story
By Roger Rosenblatt
I heard an interview of Roger Rosenblatt on the PBS newshour a couple months ago. He is a write, and a regular contributor to the Newshour. He was talking about the sudden death of his 38 year old daughter. And how that day changed his life. He and his wife moved in with his son-in-law and three grand children. He wrote this book about the year since they moved in. Its touching. And funny. Stories of his interactions with young grandchildren who call him Boppo (in fact their whole school now calls him Boppo!). He had wanted to be called El Guappo by his grandchildren (he explains why in the book), but they couldn’t pronounce it, Boppo stuck. Interwoven with memories of his daughter. It makes you appreciate the fragility of life, and the need to embrace it.

any book recommendations out there? my stack is dwindling and the holds I have at the library aren't coming in very quickly.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Getting Back on Track

I’ve got more physical problems right now than I’ve ever had at one time. And they are all self-induced. All results of stupidity. A bum right hip/hamstring/glute that I’ve ignored for years, tried like crazy to fix, while I continued to train (or tried to train), with no success. A bum shoulder, a result of a bike crash, and not being aware of what was going on around me. Allergies, asthma, sinus infection, that I’ve conveniently ignored for too long. And I’ve been feeling sorry for myself for these. But no more. Its not like I lost my home, or a limb or my life or a loved one in an earthquake. Or my home in the mortgage fiasco. I’m not struggling to support myself or my family. I’ve got it pretty darn good. Training related setbacks are not worthy of self-pity when I look at the big-picture.

So, I’ve had enough moping. I’ve wasted enough time whining over injuries, and trying to train without trying to heal first. And you can only do that for so long before you self-implode. If you don’t listen to the warning signs your body sends you, eventually it will force a shutdown. That’s where I am right now. And I have finally come to terms with this setback. Because that’s all it really is. And I will make the best of it.

I’ve actually got a plan!

I’m making myself take off 4 weeks from running, even if things begin to feel better before then. If at 4 weeks, I’m still having problems, then 4 more weeks off. I know eventually the injuries will heal.

I’m also taking 4 weeks off from swimming. Swimming comes back relatively quickly for me, so I’m not at all worried about losing too much swimming fitness in four weeks. I want the shoulder to be good as new , or as good as a shoulder with 40+years of swimming can be. I’ve got a new age group coming up and state records to shoot for!

I’m taking off at least one week from riding. After one week, I’ll evaluate the hip/glute/hamstring. I’ll try an easy spin, and if that yields no problems, I’ll stay on the bike with regularity, and the bike will be my fitness tool during the layoff from swimming and running. If the bike is problematic for the hip/glute/hamstring, then I’ll stay off it until it’s not a problem.

I’m also going to dive into some physical therapy, massages, and I’ll examine my TRX and core program, and figure out what will help, what might hurt(and avoid those), and, the hardest part, try to eat super healthy. For the past 5 days, I’ve already swapped out my morning diet coke with black tea and honey, good for the sinuses. I generally eat pretty healthy, well balanced throughout the day. I should probably cut out a few of the chocolates though, especially since I’m going to be cutting back the workload this week.

I’ve also got an appointment with a new doctor. I’ve always only ever gone to my nurse practitioner, who is great, but she is really just ob/gyn, plus a little extra. The new doc was recommended to me by a friend who is also a doctor, and she is in family practice, with a background in sports care. So, I’m going to get a physical, blood work, whatever they can do, just to see if there are any things that are a little (or a lot) off, that I need to take care of.

And then when I’m all healed up, I’m going to start back very slowly and carefully! I may not race again in 2010. Maybe I will. But I won’t rush things. Or I’ll be right back where I am today. And that’s a pretty ugly thought. I really do love to train and race. And I do miss it right now. But I don’t miss the frustration of trying to train when my body is not well. So, the thought that, in some time, I’ll get healthy, is enough to motivate me to stick to my plan. I want to run again. I want to run fast. Well, as fast as my short swimmer legs will run.

I’ll also spend time with my dad as he recovers from surgery next week. And I’ll try to keep their lawn under control during this spring weather. And I’m pretty sure my mom would appreciate it if I spent mother’s day with her instead of my bike. And Todd and the pups will get some extra attention (I bet they will get tired of me and my pent up energy). And I think I have a fall vacation to plan… (destination top secret)!

I'll miss my first race, Kansas 70.3. But I'm enjoying watching all my old and new friends race and seeing how awesome you are all doing! Keep it up! Keep inspiring me!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Happy Tiramisu to Me

Tiramisu is my all time favorite dessert. Yesterday was our 18th anniversary, and I selected the dinner location for who makes my favorite version of tiramisu.

(I thought I should have a positive happy post for a change of pace)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How old do you have to be before you stop having dumbass attacks?

Well, at least 43. I’ve been feeling pretty crummy for the past month. I’ve been writing it off to spring allergies, they have been particularly bad here in Btown. The early warm weather, very little rain (it keeps going around us), and lots of wind has kept the allergy practice here in town hopping. In 2001 I was diagnosed with allergies and asthma (exacerbated by exercise). I tried a few meds then, but nothing really seemed to help much, and I was not very motivated to train hard, and I was not racing then, so I kind of gave up on trying to manage my symptoms. Doesn't everyone have allergies and asthma, I thought?

Fast forward 5 years. I bought a mountain bike, and fell in love with it. I started to ride a lot, and then I raced an xterra, was hooked. Raced more xterra, and thought I should race on the road too since I couldn’t always ride the trails. After a couple of years of just training with little direction and not a huge amount of intensity (which meant I didn’t have to manage the asthma much) I hired a coach. And she started to have me run fast (gasp!). And ride fast (gasp!). And, shit, she even made me swim fast!(triple gasp). SO for a year I tried my best, I did what I could, had some decent results. Still managing my breathing (or lack of it) just by monitoring my effort.

Now, April 2010, and for a month I’ve been struggling with my workouts. I thought it was just me losing my mojo. I’d occasionally have an OK workout but no great workouts. Last Friday I was doing a run around the stadium, and I hit a new max HR – I haven’t seen that number since I was in my 20’s. But the bad thing was that with that HR, on a flat half mile course, my pace was slow. And my oxygen intake was barely existent. And I had this thick sticky mucus that I couldn’t even spit out of my mouth – I had to pull it out with my fingers. I pretty much just wanted to die. I felt like I was, and I said that when I passed a woman I know who was running there too. After the run, she asked me if I was ok , because she said I sounded awful when I went past her, and that I should see a doctor for the asthma. Hmm, I thought, yeah, she is right, what have I been waiting for.

SO, finally after a month of being a dumbass and feeling like crap, I saw a doctor!
I had an appointment this morning with an asthma/allergy doc. Turns out I have a sinus infection! Which I’m going to hopefully clear up with antibiotics. And I’m allergic to all the outdoor allergens (pollen, grass, mold), and dander (but I’m not getting rid of my pups!). I’m going to start taking an allergy med. (thankfully, I am NOT allergic to dairy! Oh that would be so sad to be allergic to dairy). I also have asthma, that is made worse when I exercise. So now I will try an inhaler. And As noted above, I have the most disgusting thick mucus/post nasal drip in my throat. So, new nasal spray to try to take care of that.

Oh yeah, I also have to carry an epi-pen now! We’ll see how that goes. Last fall I was running on a trail alone. I was stung by a small swarm of bees. My arms and legs swelled and itched and tingles, I couldn’t breathe. I was 20 minutes from my car. I ran scared for my life back to it. Somehow managed to get home, and took prednisone and benadryl that I had for one of the dogs. Now who knows what reaction I might have to my next sting, so as a precaution I’m supposed to carry that. It will take some getting used to.

So, now I feel better, not physically, yet. But mentally. I have a plan of action to get myself better. I hope it works. I have to be an ironman this August!

Speaking of ironman, for the past week I’ve been wondering what I’m going to wear for the swim at IM Louisville, because that new WTC rule is making swim skins illegal. And not that I want to wear a swim skin, but I am a swimmer. And as a swimmer, when coach wanted to make us really hurt, we’d wear a drag suit – that is, a suit with pockets to catch the water and drag your ass down. So, for IM, my favorite Desoto 400mile shorts have a pocket right in the center of the back, and as a swimmer, I will NOT race in a drag suit. SO, I thought I’d be buying an old school speedo knee length suit to just wear over to cover up the pocket (plus pockets in the top), but I re-read the rule, and it doesn’t take effect until Sept 1. Lou is on Aug 29! I’m safe.

Now, come on drugs, do your thing and make me better!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


It’s easy to lose your mojo. Shit happens and before you know it, its gone. In Arizona (10 days ago) I had 3 really good solid days of training. I did have a bike crash (which was a bit detrimental to my shoulder, and I have been in denial about). Then I flew home in the big metal germ box and got sick. And then I didn’t give myself enough time to recover from the long AZ training, the bike crash and the sickness. Since I’ve been back I have had one fair workout, then 2 bad ones. Then repeat. Finally this morning I admitted I was in need of more recovery. I’m tired of being tired. Tired of coming up short in workouts. Tired of feeling like a complete slacker. Tired of dreading each workout because I feel like crap and am afraid it’s going to be another failure.

So, the shoulder thing. When I crashed I landed on my shoulder first. I was quite sure nothing was broken, but it wasn’t right. Its been uncomfortable, not painful, to lift it up (sideways, front, back). That’s a small problem for swimming. I could swim, I was favoring the shoulder, trying not to put a lot of pressure into it. Then this morning I got out of bed, sat down on the toilet, and snap, crackle, pop! The shoulder was back where it was supposed to be! Hallelujah! Its almost like I had a mild dislocation, if that’s possible, and now I can lift the arm like normal. I am sooooooooo happy. I think I got like 30% of my mojo back just by sitting down (on the toilet!). That’s pretty darn awesome.

Now, I just need some snap, crackle and pop to come back to my legs. And my energy levels.

A few lessons learned:
->try not to crash my bike
->when I am sick (that was the first time I've been sick in over a decade), make sure I'm recovered from it before I attempt workouts
->pay more attention to what your body is telling you than what you let your mind tell you (I can't let what other people post on facebook and blogs make me feel inadequate about how I'm training or not training)

Then I can say my mojo is back.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What I learned in Tucson…

Yesterday, I summarized what we did each day in Tucson. Today is what I learned from the experience. Here goes:

Climbing for 25 miles straight is amazing, and humbling, and I’m looking forward to trying it again someday. I learned that the next time I should start out a little more conservatively, and finish stronger. You have to ride your own ride. It’s good to push yourself with stronger riders, but you also have to learn your own limit. It’s inspiring to ride with other amazingly strong age group athletes, who have families and jobs and lives and still find time to train hard and have amazing results.

Descending for 25 miles is AWESOME! Mountain biking has really helped me to have less fear on descents. I just loved letting loose and bombing down the mountain as fast as I could.

Cacti don’t compare to evergreen and deciduous trees. The desert was a nice change of pace for a few days, but I could not live there. I need my trees, grass, flowers. Green is good!

Tucson is the most cycling friendly city I’ve ever been to. Bike lanes everywhere, and when the road narrows too much you immediately see ‘Share the Road with cyclists’ signs. Drivers are very tolerant of bike riders out there. Drivers elsewhere should take notice. Also, the range of cyclists out there is incredible. Pros and your average Joe. And I mean average. Nearing the bottom of the Mt Lemmon descent I passed a guy who was going up, he was on a hybrid, with a basket on front, wearing a button down shirt that was unbuttoned and flapping in the wind.

Good recovery habits can get you through more training than you thought you could do – compression, recovery drink (chocolate milk is my recovery drink choice), ice baths, stretching. I did a pretty good job on this front after each day.

Sunshine and bright blue skies do wonders for your attitude. You just feel positive and happy and energized.

What I learned from the other campers…
Mary… little Mary is a tiny powerhouse! Damn, that girl can swim and ride and run. She packs a wallop in her tiny frame, and can put the hurts to you. She is the epitome of the saying ‘big things can come in tiny packages’. She is completely motivated and committed to get the absolute most out of her body, and I think Kona is in her future this year. Mary, Coeur d’Alene is yours!

Ange… the other powerhouse from the Northeast. Mary and Ange grew up together in Maine. I guess Maine breeds tough chicks! When you look at Ange, you just see strength eeking out of every muscle, and that smile too. Ange showed me that even swimmers can be super runners and cyclists. Thanks Ange – I’ll be thinking of that whenever I run.

Melissa… the third tough Northeasterner. She is from Boston, loved her accent. She is 46 (I think) and runs like she is half her age. I know Mel will never forget her cycling shoes again ;-) And she proves that age is no limit!

Kari… is from the southeast. Another super runner. Kari facebooked me this morning and said she is going to think ‘swim like Cheryl’ in the future. And I am going to think ‘run like Kari’. Kari also faced her fear of descending. She was so nervous, but she went down Lemmon confidently, and I know she will be screaming down descents in the near future. Her training partners will be shocked when they see her new found skill. She made me realize that I should take my biggest fear and face it. And what is my biggest fear? Pain on the run. Pain in my legs, pain in my lungs, pain in my heart. These swimmer legs can run, I have to face the fear and the pain.

Kate… the kindest person ever. She brought gourmet cupcakes from an awesome bakery in Richmond all the way to camp! And hit the grocery for everyone since she arrived early. Always positive and supportive. She kicked her last years time up Mt Lemmon by a mile. What an improvement! It’s awesome to see how the hard work makes the athlete.

Other than me, everyone else was from Chicagoland area.

Well, except Julia... Julia is from Minnesota. Shit, when I think I have it rough training in the winter, I just look to Julia’s blog for a little motivation. She is a tall wisp of a girl, but don’t let that fool you. She is tough as nails. She rode Mt Lemmon like I should have. Conservatively at the start, and she crushed everyone by the top. She knows how to ride a bike. And she rides outside in Minnesota winters. She is a hard core, no excuses girl. Just like I want to be.

Tracy… picked me up at the airport. I was waiting for my bags and saw this attractive woman running around in work clothes, iphone hanging out of her ear, only to find out we were talking to each other on our phones, standing 10 feet apart. Her physical appearance is deceiving. She is strong, physically, and even more so mentally. She knows what she wants, and she dials in her effort and just keeps on hitting it. Tracy is a never-give-up kind of girl, and she helped me get to the top of Mt Lemmon. Consistency is the name of her game, and I will take that lesson home with me.

Jon… had not been outside on his bike for over a year, but he did the maximum length and number of rides the whole weekend. No matter how much he hurt, he pushed through it. And if anyone ever needed anything, Jon was the one to stop and help. A very upstanding guy! We should all be that way.

Sharon…ever smiling and positive. Sharon is a nurse, mother of 4 , and how she fits all that in, and trains like she does is amazing. She helped me through the run up Sabino Canyon, I am ever grateful. Hopefully someday I can return that kind of favor to a friend or training partner, being the strength to get someone through a rough patch. Thanks Sharon!

Rich… the other guy on the trip. Wow, he can run! Oh yeah, and swim and ride! I love seeing the speedy runners do their thing. So damn impressive.

Jen.. married to Rich, and Jen is one of the nicest gals around. Positive and hard working. She was nervous for the long ride, as we all were, but she put her head down, got it done, and was doing some amazing pulls the last hour. I’ll remember that. At the end of the long ride, just put the head down, and get it done! Jen and Rich spent their anniversary riding 120miles around Tucson. That is impressive! I’m sure I’d have knocked my hubby off his bike a few times after that many hours in the saddle with him nearby.

Last, but not least is my coach, Jen, and her hubby Jerome. They are like Yin and Yang. So opposite, but both so strong and confident, as athletes and people. Jen challenges me day in and day out to give my best, and she puts herself out there as the model of hard work, grit and determination. I hope I can bring the best out in myself this summer the way she does when she trains and races. This weekend was the first time I met Jerome. He was a bike racer at Valpo in college, so I was psyched to ride with a good roadie (even though now he is a triathlete), once a roadie, always a roadie. I learned a lot from him on that 120mile ride. A laid back attitude and sunny disposition , and some food, can keep you going for a long time. The pace was easy for him, but he totally dragged our asses around Tucson and helped us all get in our longest ride of 2010 – and its only March! He totally saved my ride when I crashed, and he fixed my bike (I learned some spoke/wheel truing maintenance out there on the road from him) and he got me going again.

So, Tucson was a challenging 4 days for me. I learned a lot. I’ll try to keep all these lessons in the back of my mind and pull them out when I need them. Someday I’ll go back there and tackle those challenges again!

Thanks Jen and Jerome for a great training camp! and thanks to my fellow campers for a fun 4 days. Hope to see you all again some day.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Opportunity in Tucson

I'm sitting in the Phoenix airport, waiting to go home. The past 4 days I had an opportunity to train in Tucson. Jen was taking 12 of her athletes to Tucson for a mini-training camp. I was looking forward to a few days off work, a few days in 80 degree sunny skies, and climbing Mt Lemmon on my bike!

Day 1 - Mt Lemmon
Mt Lemmon is a long 25 mile climb. Its actually about 22 miles up, 2 miles down, a mile up and a mile down. From 2500feet to near 9000 feet. Then turn around and do the opposite. In hindsight I started too fast. I never bonked, but about mile 12, I knew the group I was riding with was going faster than I could handle for another 12 miles. My heart rate was z4, and I could not sustain that for another 12 miles. I backed off a bit, and eventually made it to the top. Its pretty exhilerrating to ride uphill for 20+ miles, when you live in Indiana, where the longest climb is just over a mile. But the downhill was even better. Its funny, on the way up, there were times I thought , oh, can't you just slacken up a bit (talking to the slope of the road). But on the way down, it felt too gentle. I only touched the brakes a couple of times, most of the time I was pedaling, even around curves. I bombed it as fast as I could. Near mile 8, a group of 3 went by me, I tried to hop on, but the three of them went by at a faster pace than I was going, and I could not latch on. SO, I soldiered on alone, really enjoying the descent. A little steeper with less pedaling would have been nice, but then the uphill would have been too steep (at least for me and the gearing I had). I believe I did a short run after the bike. It was completely forgettable, very hot , no shade, very miserable.

Day 2 swim and run and maybe ride
The morning started with a swim. In an outdoor pool, the water was a little warm, but just swimming outside in the sunshine made it ok. Then we went to Sabino Canyon for a trail run. This trail basically climbed up a mountain. The plan was for everyone to run up for 60-75minutes, then turn around and go back down. The bottom was steep, I had to resort to some walk/run on the steeps, then as it gradually leveled out a bit (still going up), it was more running. The trail was pretty technical, as far as the footing lots of rocks to screw you up, up high, on the edge of some steep dropoffs. The other girls were like mountain goats, and I did my best to keep my legs moving. At least my hip is doing well, and I never once felt a peep out of it. At the bottom, a mountain stream crosses the road, so we stopped for an ice bath. That felt sooooo good. My calves were really tight from the uphill running. The frigid water was welcome, although my legs still hurt for the rest of the day. The optional bike ride turned into a ride where only Jerome and the 2 guys rode, and all the girls stayed home and relaxed. Day 3 was looming, and those of us with an ironman on the schedule for this summer were anxious about the ride on day 3.

Day 3

Day 3 was a ride for everyone. 6 of us were supposed to do a century, taking in many of the routes locals ride. The route actually mapped out to 107 miles, we made a wrong turn somewhere, and even taking 10 miles off at the end of the ride, we were just shy of 120miles. Just about double my longest ride of 2010! The ride started out for about an hour through Tucson city traffic. Not great, but its a very cycling friendly city, with bike lanes everywhere, and when the bike lanes end, the 'share the road (with cyclists)' signs are everywhere. The topography of the ride was lots of flat, rollers, and one climb of 3 miles. The climb is Gates Pass, and midway up, I was leading, and pulled left to drop back and let Mary and Tracy lead, and Tracy got caught in a rut in the road, and started to go down just as I was next to her. I tried to move left more, but I was too slow. I went down on my left side, then spun a little and smacked the back of my head (in a helmet of course!) on the pavement, crossed the yellow line. Thankfully no cars were coming. I was stunned for a minute but was able to do a quick inventory and I was pretty sure everything was ok. Jerome was off his bike and everyone got me and my bike out of the road, and they got me up and to the side too. I figured I was ok, (although I have to buy a new helmet now since I have a chunk out of it).The helmet probably saved my life, I will never think its ok for anyone to ride without one. Anyways, I stood there again assessing if I was ok, and decided I was ok enough to try to ride. Jerome was truing my rear wheel that wasn't spinning. I learned how to do more bike maintenance by watching him. Tracy was ok from her crash too. I felt bad everyone seemed so worried about me, I guess my fall was a bit more dramatic. Finally time to get back on the bike, and I struggled up the next mile or two, thinking I was just feeling anxious and slow from the crash, but after the descent, I noticed my front brake had been rubbing slightly on one side since the crash. Got that straightened up, and things felt smoother. The ride went on and on and on. We had some really rough stretches of pavement that just beat the crap out of us. We missed one turn, that ultimately added on over 10 miles to the planned route, we weren't aware of the additional miles at the time. Nearing mile 90, Jerome realized we needed to cut out some miles, which we did, and after this ridiculously long gradual climb of many miles (but with a tailwind),we finally turned and headed toward home. Somehow I think we all thought maybe 20 more minutes, but it was more like 20 more miles! And, the terrain was rollers, some steep, and seemed like mountains by this time, even though they were just small hills. The girls were getting pretty cranky, poor Jerome had to put up with us, but he was a great sport, and kept smiling, and got us home. except for one more small hurdle, which was relaly just a funny thing for us all to burst out laughing about since we were so close to home. A few miles before home, a stream had flooded the road, and it was blocked, but there was no way we were taking a detour, it looked shallow, we rode through, and I bogged down in deep sand. No worries, walked the bike out, back in the saddle, and a few miles later were finally back at our little house. What a ride. Almost 120miles. Quite a day for me!

Energy was low this morning for the swim, and my body was feeling pretty beaten up from my crash. Shoulder very sore and stiff. And my neck was in a lot of pain every time I turned it or lifted it to breathe. Jen was kind, and it was a very mellow swim for me. I think it will take a few days for my body to recover and heal itself, both from the crash, and the miles of training.

So, I'm looking forward to getting home to Todd and my puppies, and I see the weather is supposed to be in the 70's at home in a couple days! That makes me very happy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Murphy's Law

I always try to laugh when Murphy decides to show up in my life.

Last night I was at the pool for a nice long set of 100's where I was hoping for a good set. Its spring break here in Btown so not many people around. I typically have a lane to myself, and on very rare occasions I have to split a lane with someone. I got started with the set and made it about halfway when I'm at the wall, breathing hard, goggles on, watching the clock waiting for my now about 10 seconds to rest before I shoved off for the next repeat when I see a lifeguard sort of in my vision and hear this 'bla bla bla bla' but I'm not listening because I'm in the middle of my workout and I don't stop for chit chat in the middle of a set. Five seconds to go and she leans right in my face and says 'well?'. I yell back, I mean, say back to her, 'well what?' impatiently. She points to the guy standing next to her and says he needs somewhere to swim and will I split my lane. I yell, I mean, say, of course, I'm on this side, isn't that how it works. You don't have to ask me, I don't own the lane. She says she is just being polite. I push off mumbling if she was polite she wouldn't have interrupted my workout and made me take an extra 15 seconds rest. Pool etiquette! Jeez, its bad when even the lifeguard violates my rules. I mean the pool rules. ok, so I flip at the 25 and half way down the pool I'm hit by a tidal wave as I swim by this guy, gagging on all the water I unexpectedly ingested, I regroup and pass him again, but not until the wall at the 75 where he is apparently hanging on for dear life. I finish the 100, and glance back his direction and see him just off the wall, arms flailing, swimming vertically, with a sever off camber tilt, another crazy wash of water all around him. Shit. I have all the luck! Somewhere in the next 100 he drifted all the way over to the lane line on my side of the lane and I ran over him. He must not know its ok to open your eyes when you wear goggles! Hello, open your eyes! stay on your side of the lane! stay out of my way! ANd if you can't, find someone your own speed to share a lane with! The only saving grace here was that he swam one 25 for about every 200 yards I swam, spending much time hanging on the wall, or even a lane line. Its just funny, because I'm surely the biggest pool snob, PITA (pain in the ass) swimmer in this town. And nothing bugs me more than people who don't know even simple pool etiquette! I've asked if I could rent a lane for an hour 3 days a week, they say I could, but its a little more than I'm willing to spend. I'm thinking about laminating a sign and putting it at the end of my lane wherever I swim. It would say:
Do not stop me.
Do not talk to me.
Stay on your side of the lane.
If you cannot follow these simple rules, I am going to swim fly down the middle of the lane lap after lap until you move to another lane.

ok, maybe that last sentence won't make it onto the sign, but damn people, just use a little common sense!

So, this past weekend the weather was total shit. cold, rainy, windy. Perfect for riding outside. NOT! The forecast for today-Friday sunny and 60. Saturday and SUnday, rain and mid 40's. Shit again. I checked my work schedule and planned to take this afternoon off so I could do a long ride. And I'd just work from home in the morning. Well, I woke up to find my ATT Uverse service was in the toilet. No tv, no phone, no internet. My job is IT, so internet is a necessity to work from home. Thank you Murphy! I call ATT and we troubleshoot over the phone for 30minutes and they decide an onsite repairmen is required so I schedule for the 8-12 timeblock today. Seriously, I love it that they can only pin it down to a 4 hour time block! As if my time is no more valuable than theirs. Now I have to just use a whole day off. ok, no major deal, I get a lot of time off at my work. I'm expecting a call shortly after 8 with a more specific time when they might arrive, and I'm plowing through work email on my iphone, when I realize its 9am and no call yet. I see an email from ATT and look at it, and it says the service call is for March 17. Today is the 16th! NO! I'm sitting here waiting! I call and they say they can schedule someone from noon-4 now. Knowing I have a long ride planned, I say I need a closer ETA. They can't provide one, so I ask them to ask the repair guy to come late, after 3. They say they can't guarantee that. I tell them I can't guarantee I'll be there before then since they already wasted 2 hours of my time. So, I head out on my bike in glorious sunshine, a little cool, but just wearing knickers a short sleeve jersey and light shirt underneath. I'm riding alone, kind of boring, but I'm happy anyways. 72minutes into the ride my phone rings, its work. I take the call. 5 minutes yapping trying to help someone solve a problem that would normally be my problem to solve, so I can't complain about helping, and I'm back on my way. At 2hrs , ring ring. This time ATT. They are at my house. I tell them I won't be there for 2 more hours. He says he'll try to come back, no guarantee. ok, thanks Murphy! You had 4 hour block, and you came at 5 minutes into the 4 hours! Damnit. What can you do. Ride on I say! 20minutes later, ring ring. WHAT. Not another call. Its my neighbor. My dogs are sitting in my front yard. Apparently Mr ATT decided to open the gate to my fenced in back yard where my dogs were sunning and they got out and he didn't let put them back in, or call me to tell me he let them out. Nice. I'm freaking out, riding my bike, trying to sprint home, I'm 30 minutes from home shortest route. I ask my neighbor if he'd try to just open the side door and see if they will go in the house. He calls me back 5 minutes later and they are inside. ok, I breathe easier, slow down, and think I'll be filing a complaint with ATT! At 3:15 I call Mr ATT and ask him if he thinks he will be able to come, or do I have to call and reschedule. He says he just left my house. HUH? I've been here for more than 30 minutes. Did you just tap lightly on my door? Come on! I have 3 dogs who go crazy when someone comes to the door! ok, he agrees to come back. I wait in the driveway. I put on my friendly face, and am nice, and he fixes my internet, tv and phone, and I bit emy tongue about my dogs since he came back and fixed everything.

why am I such a pushover!?!?

in other important questions of my life... I just cut up a pineapple, and there must be a trick to cutting a pineapple well, and not wasting so much...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Me and the girls MTB'ing???

I wish we rode like the guys in this video!

Ange, Heather, we've got work to do :-)

Sunday, February 28, 2010

All Kinds of Fun

It was a really good weekend. On Saturday I was heading over to Oxford for a reunion of Miami University womens swimming. I knew 6 of my teammates from the years I swam would be there, so I was looking forward to catching up with these girls from my life 20 years ago. When I swam at Miami in 1985, we swam in a 6 lane 25 yard pool, diving boards in the deep end. It was SMALL! Now the girls get to swim in this fabulous facility:

The MAC conference championship meet was going on, and the reunion was on the last day of the meet. Its so fun that you can get together with the girls you spent so many hours with so many years ago, and despite all the years that go by still have so much to talk about and so much to laugh about. The hours flew by. And I was sad to say goodbye. Here are a few of my now grown up teammates.

Me and the 'older' girls':

Me and the 'younger' girls:

Then a quick visit with my parents who live close to Oxford. I got to have some Graeters double chocolate chip ice cream! I can get this now here in Btown, but I don't get it often. It feels like it should be more of a treat from my childhood home.

Back to Btown, and I eventually had to give in to the inevitable bike ride. I don't know why I procrastinate so when its cold outside. Much of our snow is gone, but the cold lingers, and the lake is still frozen:

To be completely honest, riding in mid 30's is not cold. Here are my dress for cold ride tips:
1) My feet always stay warm with this combination: wool socks, normal cycling shoes, toe covers, then goretex booties. Never a cold toe with that set of layers. 2) The legs and torso are easy, windblock is key. Usually all I need is one base layer and and outer windblocking layer.
3) And thanks to my friend Randi who recommended Manzella gloves, my hands don't get cold anymore. I have a pair on Manzella fleece windblocker gloves that are good to upper 20's. Today (mid 30's, no sum, 5-10mph wind), my hands even sweated occasionally. These gloves are amazing. I wore them on a run test at 5degrees, and had to take them off my hands were too warm. I have a thin pair of Manzella windblocker gloves too, they look thin and useless, but they are good for 40 degree bike rides, honestly I don't know how they work. But they do!
4) A light hat is needed below 40. Balaclava or neck warmer not required until its below 30 degrees.
ok, I have to be honest, I'm usually the last person to get cold.I'm wearing bike short longer into the fall than most people, so your mileage may vary with those tips above. But I swear by them. I NEVER used to ride outside in the winter. Why would anyone want to ride in the cold? Well, Randi has a rule, she will ride if its above 23 and she has converted me. I have ridden on the mtb in the upper teens (more wind blockage from the trees on the trails). I'll ride on the road in the upper 20's or warmer. The key is just learning what your body needs to avoid getting chilled. Once a body part , especially hands or feet, get cold, your ride will be miserable.

Back to the ride, I was riding alone so I planned several out and backs. My hip has been a little wonky lately, so I wanted to stay close enough to home if I had any problems. Plus I was alone and didn't want to be out in east bufu alone for all the crazies to harass me. On my home this morning, I drank 12oz of diet coke. I know its bad for you, but I needed caffeine to assure I'd stay alert for the 3 hr drive. When I got on the bike I spent the entire ride burping all the gas out of me. I could not stop. Burp, drink efs drink, ride, burp again, drink, feel like I have to pee, drink anyways, burp again, fluff too. Oh the joy! With 45 minutes left in the ride, I started to feel like I was bouncing along, like I was riding my suspension mtb. Of course a few more seconds and I realized it was a flat. But it was more of a slow flat, so I tried to put some co2 in it, but that didn't work. ok, change the flat. But first maybe I'll call Todd and have him just come and get me because I'm close enough to the length of the ride I had planned. He didn't answer , which was good, I need to htfu and change the flat and do the ride! Wheel off. Tube and lever and co2 out of saddle bag. Tube out of tire. New tube in, tire back on rim. Co2 in. done! sweet! I even had an audience and moral support from the farm dog where I had stopped:

I was probably stopped for 5 minutes, and now a little cold, especially the hands since I couldn't get the tire changed with gloves on. I was thinking I'm too cold, I'm taking the shortest route home. But 10 minutes later, my hands were warm again - you see, those gloves rock! And so I planned to finish the planned ride. again. 10 minutes later, I hear this thump thump thump. wtf! I slow down, still thumping, speed up, still thumping. I think its the road, I pull into a driveway and spin the front wheel slowly and watch as a golf ball size tumor on the side of the wheel appears. hmm. Must have had made a small error and overinflated the tube! oops! I let out some air, the tumor went down a little, but I know the ire is in a bad way. so, for the third time I decide I'll go straight home and will be 10 minutes short of the planned ride time. I was too anxious of having the tire blow out. I did make it home. The tire did not blow out. I was still blowing gas out of my belly when I got home. But I was home. and I had no frostbite. Survived another winter ride! And another flat tire. by myself! so proud of myself for fixing the flat myself and making it home.

A few notes about changing flats from the perspective of someone who does pretty well changing them. I used to only carry co2 in races, I thought it was just environmentally pathetic to use co2 and toss the used canister in the trash instead of using a frame pump. But the bottom line is frame pumps take way too long, and often don't work well anyways. In the cold, time is warmth, so co2 is a must for tire changing in the cold I used to have a co2 inflator that I sort of struggled with. I recently bought a new innovations inflator, Proflate 16 Bike Tire Inflator. It is a guarantee fill. You cannot screw up with this inflator (ok, yes, I did overinflate today, so I guess you can if you are a little careless, but I actually think I may have had a little issue with my tire because I've had a few flats on this tire in the past month so I think its time for a new one, and I'm going to blame the tire, not the inflation). I highly recommend this inflator.

ok, I have no more tips to share! now, who will win Olympic hockey gold???

Sunday, February 14, 2010

You can't fake a 200fly

Yesterday I swam in a swim meet. Now, I don't go into swim meets anymore expecting PR's, I just know its not reasonable with my age and my training. But I do go expecting to work hard, hope for a good race with someone, and to have a little fun. If Nadine (national champ and record holder and world champ and record holder, and best in any stroke, any distance, any event) is swimming my events, I expect a lesson in how to swim the event. She is heads and shoulders better than me. And there are a few other woman in the area whose specialties are much faster than I am in those events. But in my events, I expect to be contesting for the overall win, and I like to race.

So, first up was the 200IM. Hands down, my favorite event. Last year at this meet, my goggles taught me a lesson, and at the 200 I threw them off. And I NEVER get to practice diving in at the pools, O this Wednesday I was able to do a few dives in the diving well at HPER. I took 3 pair of goggles and 2 caps, was going to try combinations of goggles, and one and 2 caps (one on top, one under). But the first one, I tightened the goggles to the point where I thought my eyeballs might pop out of their sockets, and they stayed on! YAY! So, in wamrup I hit the blocks, and did a few 25's and the goggles held tight. One less thing to worry about in the races. SO, the 200IM had no cpmpetition, the nearest girl was 25 seconds behind, so I tried to push myself. I hit breaststroke, which is by far my worst stroke, and well, let's just say that running, cycling, lifting for running and cycling, and swim training for tris does nothing for the leg strength on the breaststroke kick. ANd breaststroke is all about a strong kick. SO I floated through that 50 and tried to sprint home with whatever was left in my spastic arms and legs. time 2:26.

Out of the competition pool, into the warm down pool and I swam easy through the 50fly and 100 breast, and then I was up again in the 200back. Backstroke was my event as an age group swimmer, so I don't like to dog this event, even if I was a little tired, and there was again no competition. The lactic acid was burning midway, and in my mind I had to get myself back to this race because I immediately started thinking if you feel tired at this point in the 200back, how do you think you will feel in the 200fly! So, I soldiered on and had a decent time, another overall win, and now I had a good hour break before the dreaded 200 fly. time 2:23.

I cooled down/warmed up for a good 20 minutes until my legs felt decent. And put on layers of clothes and socks and shoes to stay warm until the 200fly. Now, you can't fake a 200fly. And honestly, swimming 3 hours a week is not really anyway to prepare for a 200fly. 100fly, no problem, but 200fly is painful, and when you hear people say the piano dropped, when its on a 200fly, you literally cannot get your arms out of the water. I'm not really sure what possessed me to enter this since I'm not really ready for it, but I guess I felt like I needed to push myself in something that made me really uncomfortable and anxious. One other woman was swimming the 200fly, and she actually swims at IU too, but I don't train with her. She swims on the masters team, I think she swims 7 days a week, 365 days a year. She is a good flyer and distance freestyler. She walks out to the blocks and she is wearing one of the high tech lazers! WTF!! I was cracking up (for one I thought they were not legal anymore) and secondly, this is just a rinky dink little masters meet. ANyways, my goal was to try to go out easy and just try to stay even with her. If I went out liek my normal sprinter self, I'd pay big time. Every turn we looked at each other, and at the 100 I thought ok, this is not too terrible, you're doing ok, pace is ok, stroke is holding up ok. But at the 125 turn I only kicked 4 kicks and started to feel some weakness in the arms. Try not to think about it, auto pilot. At the 150 turn we were still even, and mid way down that lap the piano was starting to fall, and all I thought was 'oh shit, this is really going to hurt'. Off the wall, I tried to kick but4 kicks again was all I had and every stroke got shorter and shorter and she just pulled away. I honestly thought I was either going to be dq'ed because I'd have to swim freestyle, or I'd just sink to the bottom because I was too embarassed to cheat to save my life. My normal stroke count is 9-10 on fly, that last 25 I took 19! yes 19! oh my, it was excruciating! Somehow I made it, the gal next to me put 5 seconds on me in one 25! I flopped out of the pool, flopped over into the diving well and flopped some more until I could swim again and pondered what the last even was going to feel like. time 2:28 (ouch)

The 100IM was next, I LOVE this event, but warming down I thought maybe I'd just bag it. But I like it, and its just a 100, and its just so darn fun. Suck it up princess and just do it. I was next to a couple of 20 year olds and I didn't know them but thought they might be good spinters. For some reason I couldn't see a thing the whole race, and I just put my head down and turned the arms over and kicked as hard as I could. It was a decent swim, and I hit the wall first. Not bad.

So, no PR's this meet, unless I want to start tracking PR's per age! I like that idea. Its a good idea. That way you get a PR every year.

I don't know if there will be any more swim meets this year, schedules just aren't really falling into place. But who knows. I still would like to swim my 100's. Heck maybe I should swim a distance free event too. You know, a 200free or something ;-)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

canine face time

superbowl time

a friendly kiss

looking cute

a hidden smile

she hates to have her photo taken

play time! (yes, that's our Christmas tree on the deck, root ball and all - waiting for ground thaw to be planted)

these two hated each other when Max joined the family

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Top 10 Reasons to Train in the WInter

David Letterman does his top 10 list, I thought I'd do one too.

Here are my top 10 reasons for training in the winter:

10) keep the winter blubber gain to a minimum

9) going to the pool is like a mini-tropical vacation several times a week - its 80 degrees in there!

8) get to wear all that winter gear that I've sunk so much money into over the years

7) get to test the not so successful fueling strategy of go long with nothing but a few sips of water, because your water bottles and camelbacks freeze and you can't manhandle the food out of your pockets with heavily gloved hands, and you can't stop to eat because you start to freeze when you stop

6) don't have to beg your coach to do sprinting and IM in the pool, since tri season is a long way off yet

5) taking on the winter potholes and road conditions is a good test of your reflexes, and certain to give you opportunity to change a flat or two, and you can never have enough practice at that

4) when the roads are slippery, its a valid excuse to slow down on the run, and no, I don't own a dreadmill, so its a valid excuse for me!

3) I love TRX ,and I get to do that in the warmth of my house. And when it warms up I can even take it outside in my backyard and fling it over a tree branch and enjoy the outdoors while I torture myself.


1) you can truly consider yourself a badass if you ride outside when the temperatures are below 25 degrees! And maybe a dumbass too ;-)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Haiti Relief... read this if you live in Bloomington

IU is collecting material for a container to be shipped to Haiti. Specifics are below:

What: "Cram the Container!" Hoosier Haiti Relief
When: Now through Feb. 13
Special collections dates: Feb. 10, 2-7 p.m. (focus on IU community) and Feb. 13, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (focus on larger community), South Concourse of Memorial Football Stadium. Collected items can be delivered to the container. The Feb. 10 men's basketball game also will focus on collecting for the relief effort.

Organizers of an Indiana University Haiti relief effort say the response from the IU and Bloomington communities already has been strong. As fundraising efforts continue , the focus has shifted to a material aid drive, encouraging donors to help "Cram the Container!" a 1,280-cubic-foot container provided by the university.

The cargo container, once full, will be shipped to the Dominican Republic, where the contents will be distributed to relief efforts on the ground in Haiti. The shipping logistics will be facilitated by Charles Beeker, director of the Office of Underwater Science in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and an affiliated researcher of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS).

Beeker's experience and contacts with the Dominican Republic government and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will assure effective distribution of the items. The container will be trucked to Miami, and shipped to Haiti. The Dominican Republic will expedite entry of the items through customs, and USAID will coordinate delivery of items by truck and helicopter, in collaboration with other relief agencies.

CLACS, which has been serving as a collections site for relief materials since news of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, will now help coordinate the collection for the cargo container, said Bradley A.U. Levinson, director of the center.

The following items sought for donation are listed in order of priority and groups are "strongly encouraged" to focus collections and fundraising on these. Levinson said donated boxes of goods should be carefully inventoried, with the inventory clearly marked on the outside of each box. Different categories of supplies should be packaged separately.

"We urge the community to make donations count," Levinson said. "Please don't send unwanted, damaged or badly worn items."

Disaster relief and recovery:

* Power (solar, generators)
* Temporary shelter, including tents, cots, stakes, mosquito nets, duffle bags
* Solar powered flashlights
* Ropes, bungee cords, zip ties
* Large water containers for storing, transporting, dispensing
* Plastic sheeting/tarps
* Batteries, flashlights
* Folding and camping chairs and tables
* Sleeping bags, sleeping pads/ air mattresses, foot pumps for air mattresses, blankets
* Sunshades and hats
* Cooking items, such as pots, pans, utensils, propane stoves (no gas), can openers, fire starters, paper plates/bowls/cups, plastic utensils
* Small fishing kits
* Extension cords and worklights/spotlights
* Hygienic and toiletry kit items
* Pocket knives, hand saws, multi-purpose tools, hammers, wrenches, pliers, miscellaneous tools, shovels, trowels, scissors, tweezers, duct tape
* Compasses, work gloves, clothes lines, clothes pins
* Sewing kits, first aid kits, bug spray, sunscreen, soaps, light sticks, matches, lighters, ziploc bags, aluminum foil, garbage bags
* Water purification supplies or equipment
* High-nutrition non-perishable food, including canned food
* Please note: No clothing. No cookies, candies or other low-nutrition foods. Please pack food items separately from all other items. Canned items will also be lowest priority for now.
* Medical supplies: Antibiotics, antibacterial liquid soaps, pediatric formulations, analgesics, wound care, bandages, needles and surgery threads, IVs, asthma medicine and tents, orthopedic.
* Please note: No small quantities of medical supplies, unused personal medications or expired products.

If organizers successfully fill the container and receive too many items, priority will be established and the overflow will be stored for shipment to Haiti in late spring or early summer.

The final loading of the container will occur on Feb. 10 and Feb. 13 at the South Concourse of Memorial Stadium, accessible from 17th Street, Gate 5. Organizations that are collecting items are encouraged to bring their supplies here on the two special loading dates.

If organizations would like to help staff the special drop off sites, the relief effort is looking for volunteers to help from 2-4 p.m. and from 4-7 p.m. on Feb. 10. On Feb. 13, volunteers are needed to help from 9-11 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 1-4 p.m. Organizations or individuals interested in staffing these shifts should write to

Disaster stats, according to media reports:

* 9 million: Population of Haiti
* 3 million: Estimated number of people affected by the quake
* 1 million: Estimated number of displaced people
* 800,000 to 1 million: People who need temporary shelter
* 235,000: People who have left Port-au-Prince using free transportation provided by the government. The number who left by private means is undetermined.
* At least 50: Aftershocks of magnitude 4.5 or higher that have hit Haiti since the Jan. 12 quake

For more information, contact CLACS at 812-855-9097 or More information about IU relief efforts can be found at

For information about IUPUI's response to the disaster, see

Friday, January 29, 2010

A little walk down memory lane

My parents are in the process of buying a house here in Btown. Last night my dad came over to go to the house inspection this morning. He brought a few things from their current house, one was a little book that recorded my school days. And one was a scrapbook from my days as a young swimmer.

The school days book was so funny. Each year from kindergarten through high school had a page where you recorded things like my teacher, my friends names, my favorite things, and a pocket to store report cards, photos and other miscellaneous items. I was cracking up looking at the grade school photos. In the first grade class photo, I was sitting there with a very pouty look on my face. It looks just like my niece Emi when she does the pouty face! I LOVED seeing my awesome hairstyles change as I grew up. Talk about scary! Once I hit 5th grade and cut off the long hair and tried to do the flip from the 70’s, I just looked like such a dork. Todd was laughing at me in one of my soccer pictures. He found it hard to believe I was a soccer player, and my dad chimed in that I was a great player, super fast. Ok, he may be a LITTLE biased, but somehow back then I did run fast. Much easier to run fast as a kid playing games than as an adult who spent the majority of her formative years in a pool instead of on terra firma. We got lots of chuckles out of the grade reports, and I even came across my acceptance letter for Indiana University, which I did not end up going to, but have now worked at for the past 18 years. Small world.

The swimming scrapbook was even better. I had actually been wondering where these two books were, and was hoping to find them as my parents packed up for the move. My favorite article I’ve ever had written about me was by my grandpa. He worked for Procter&Gamble, and they had a monthly magazine that went to all the employees. One month he brought it home and there was a picture of me and my mom and dad and brother, with me holding a little board that held all the ribbons I had won – all 10 of them! Ha. The title of the article was ‘Swimming’s a cinch for 7 year old Cheryl Lubeck’. I remembered the title even before I saw it last night, and I had not seen it for 20 years. It talks about my swimming prowess as a towering 4ft tall, maybe 50 pound, 7 year old (hee hee), and finishes with a quote of my dad saying ‘my favorite mode of transportation is handstands and cartwheels’. I love that article. Everything that was so great about my childhood. Friends, swimming and gymnastics. I could spend all my days with my friends at the pool and flipping back and forth around the back yard. There were lots of other newspaper clippings from almost every meet I ever swam in, funny to look back and see the times, and see photos from the meets. Everyone looked so young. Well, we were young! And boy, I got to swim with some fast girls (and boys). One photo of myself that caught my attention was of me in a swimsuit walking on the pool deck my sophomore year of high school at the state meet. And I cannot believe how small and scrawny I was! Ok, I had not even hit puberty even then, but still. I had these skinny legs that are a far cry from my now post puberty weight lifting, bike riding legs. Seeing that photo, I can’t believe I could swim like I did with that pathetic little body.

I’m happy my parents saved these things from my childhood. I’ll keep these forever and look back when I need some good laughs and memories.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


TRX Suspension Training

For Christmas, I bought myself the TRX home system to add more variety to my strength/core/balance routine that I do a couple times a week. And I have to say, I absolutely LOVE TRX! It is so challenging. You can do hundreds of different exercises. You can build strength. Felxibility. Balance. It does anything and everything you can ask of it. And you can make it easy or hard just by adjusting your angle or distance from the anchor, or by increasing or descreasing the size of your base for an exercise.

When I watched the dvd that came with the bundle, one of the trainers they had demoing exercises is a woman named Bianca. And Bianca is fit! And strong! And the things should could do put me to shame! And I recently purchased Jessi Stensland’s 30 minute multisport video, and it has awesome exercises in it. And She is also super fit, and strong, and I can’t believe some of the things these women can do! I am so inspired to become a better, stronger, more balanced athlete!

Atomic crunches watch out!

Here is one version of the atomic crunch - you can see how difficult it is:

Jessi does an even harder version!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Getting Older

This year is my last year in 40-44 age group. In general, I don't feel old. I feel pretty good for my age. And the 40's have been pretty good to me.

This weekend, since I had today off work, I had 3 longer days of training, and, WOW, am I feeling old right now. I came back from a longer bike ride today, that started out in 'freezing fog' (whatever that is), and when I got home I was just cold and tired. I got off the bike and my neck and shoulders were so sore and tight from the hours on the bike, in the cold, I felt like the hunchback. I downed a large glass of chocolate milk, stretched, and hopped in the hot tub, then compression tights. Then some ibuprofen (I said I was sore!), and a 30minute nap. I stood up, and my quads and calves cramped up, and OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! I grabbed the nearest bag of chips (salt) and hobbled around trying to get rid of the awful feeling in my muscles.

I think I'll get off this computer and stretch some more. And remind myself everything I'll have to do this spring and summer to keep this body ready to kick some ironman training ass for a few more months.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tragedy in Haiti

Of course, everyone has seen and heard the news about the horrific earthquake in Haiti.

Why aren’t things like this happening?

1) Drop a few C130’s full of military parajumpers with backpacks of medical supplies, especially Medics, and let them wander around the effected areas and give out care as they can.

2) Why doesn’t the UN have an aircraft sized ship with a water desalination plant on board. They could travel to all the hotspots and deliver water from the ocean as drinkable water. The ship could be equipped with some distribution methods. I’m sure there are some bright minds out there that could come up with some basic methods of distribution that could work in an emergency.

3) Why aren’t some cruise ships that are always in the Caribbean down there handing out food and water?

PS. A few hours after I posted my brilliant questions above, I read that the port is damaged and boats and ships cannot dock, and the airport is full and more planes cannot land. So sad for the Haitian people.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Warning: the content of this post might offend you.

When I was a teenager, one of my swim coaches was a very yuppie, proper, kind of guy. He never yelled, he never cursed , never swore. On one out of town trip, we’re on the bus, and one of the boys ripped off the stinkiest fart imaginable. Everyone was yelling and tossing things at him, laughing and covering their noses at the same time. Our coach was not amused, well, I bet inside, he was cracking up. But to us, he stood in front of us, ready to lecture. But it was a surprise when his lecture was not about not farting on the bus. But rather about the fact that we should use a euphemism for the word fart, instead of the word fart itself. He thought we should say fluff, a much kinder, gentler version of the word fart. This cracked us up even more. From then on, it was fluff.

As an adult who runs, bikes and swims, I’ve learned to deal with all kinds of biological functions during workouts.

Last night at the pool, I had a little gas, and I just wanted to fluff a little in the pool, but I kept wondering, if I do, will anyone deck know that those bubbles were coming from my fart, as opposed to just coming from some part of my swim stroke. And since I can’t see myself swim from up on the deck, I don’t know exactly what my bubble trail looks like. So, I held the fart, I mean fluff, until I left the pool. Snot is the second biggest problem in a pool. You really can’t stop it from running out of your nose. Pee is next. For some reason, getting in a pool makes a lot of people have to pee. Often. I fondly remember running into the bathroom for a quick pee break during workouts back in the day. It was the only way to ‘cheat’ a little, but not really cheat!

The bike is interesting. Snot runs most on the bike. I think because you’re usually colder on the bike, at least if you ride outside when its cold. If I could bottle all the snot I blow on bike rides and runs and sell it, I’d be rich! We joke about farting when we ride bikes. We joke about any biological function on bike rides. Randi almost always has to stop within the first 30 minutes for a pit stop. So she sprints ahead, drops trow, and goes where she can. We live where most of our riding is out in the booneys, so potty stops on the side of the road are not uncommon. Farting is also not uncommon. Riding on the trails is always good for jokes, who is riding behind the fartiest person that day? I ate beans for lunch, I better go last, yada yada yada. Plenty of stupid jokes.

Running is the worst for me. The snot runs here too, but I am an expert snot blower. And I’m also an excellent spitter, unless the weather is really cold or really hot, at which time, all the mucus and phlegm in my throat gets all thick and sticky and I spit, and it just sticks to my face. I don’t quite understand that phenomenon. Why is it only when its really cold or really hot when the mucus in my throat is especially annoying? And what is the difference between mucus and phlegm. I know I should look it up, but I don’t feel like it. Farting on the run is pretty common. I mostly run by myself, and I fart at will. When I do, I always glance around in the dark (because its almost always o’dark-thirty when I run). The deep philosophical question comes to mind. If there is no one around to hear the fart, did it really happen? I also have the fart thoughts when I walk my dogs. Whenever one of them farts, I say something like ‘oh Sam you stinky dog, that is so gross’, then I laugh because five minutes later I’m likely to be farting myself! I saved the best, or worst for last. I’m talking about the a$$plosion. I’m sure you’ve all had it. Its without a doubt the worst feeling on a run to feel like you are about to dump at any minute. First you just slow down and think where the nearest bathroom is, and calculate the time to get there. Then the feeling passes. But then its back, and now you have to stop and squeeze the butt cheek muscles tight until the feeling passes. And you get going again, now thinking maybe you might just have to use some poor souls beautiful landscaping as your toilet. Then it really hits, and you stop, squat down and pray that what you just felt in your shorts was just gas, and nothing else. Enough said.

You are supposed to be able to control this stuff by eating low fiber foods, timing your food intake before a workout. But even if you have what you think is a foolproof routine, it is never successful 100% of the time. Sometime your body just wants to remind you that it is in control, and not you.

I’m going to the pool again tonight, and we’ll see who is in control this time!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


No, I’m not talking about drafting on the bike. I’m talking about drafting on the swim. I can remember fondly the first time I really discovered the beauty of drafting in a swim. When I was an age group swimmer, once I made it to the top levels in our program, we rarely had more than 3 swimmers per lane. Swimmers 2 and 3 in each lane always left 10 seconds apart, and if there was a 4th, then they got to go 5 seconds. If you were lucky enough to be in a lane of 4, you owed your lane mates a big thank you when you got to go 4th and get a little draft effect. Now, in summer when we swam long course, you never got to go 5 seconds, because 100m was far enough that no one was going to catch you. So, 10 seconds it was. Always. I was a sprinter. Ok, I also did 200’s and the occasional 400im, but generally I’d consider myself a sprinter. But I swam at a program that was fairly high yardage, so even us sprinters, especially those of us who were IM’ers, did a lot of distance. I can remember one summer workout, we were doing a 1000m for time at the end of a long workout. It was definitely not my idea of fun. And I was in a lane with a gal who had won the 1650 at NCAA division I a couple years earlier. She was a distance star. I was not any kind of star. But we all trained hard, and when I left 10 seconds after her, I did what any smart sprinter does, I sprinted the first 100m until I caught her! Then I hung on for dear life. And I hung pretty close to her until the last 100m or so. And it was the fastest 1000m I ever swam in my whole life. I never could have swum that fast for 1000m without blatantly drafting off her. She was not real happy with me. But I never touched her feet, I just got soooo close, and then stuck like glue. Inside I was tickled, but I knew I only went that fast because I was able to get on her feet and stay in her draft.

Now I swim alone. I never get to draft. I always lead my lane, I’m the only one in my lane! So I never get to enjoy that draft. This past weekend I had to get in a swim, and with campus being on break, only the small pool is open, and I knew going at the noon swim would be crowded, but it was when I could go. The lanes were packed in with the IU masters team, 5 and 6 deep. Except the lane with their ‘fast’ people. They numbered only 2. SO of course I had to butt in and hop in their lane. I told them I’d stay out of their way, as I was just warming up and they were on a main set. Even with two people, the second person shoved off right after the leader. I scoffed at her lack of confidence in swimming on her own, she is a good swimmer, why does she have to push off right on his feet? So, I shoved off on my warmup after her, thinking they’d pull away, and they didn’t. ok, so here I am swimming at what I’d consider a pedestrian effort, and I was actually cruising along at a good pace. And it was all thanks to the draft. Man have I missed the draft.

So, to all you swimmers/triathletes out there, keep drafting! Take advantage of it. Its legal. And it can be a huge benefit to you. Learn to draft. But, please, learn to do it without annoying the person you are drafting off. Because if you try to draft off me in a race and hit my legs more than an acceptable number of times, you will be the recipient of an evinrude-motor-like-tsunami of water. I'm just sayin.

BTW, here is an interesting open water swim website.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Another Year, Another Chance to

1) Adjust my attitude about work. I am so fortunate to have a good, secure job, with flexibility, lots of time off, and I am going to be thankful for that. I know so many people are hurting and needing jobs, and I have got to stop being such a humbug about mine.

2) Learn to love my short hair! Yes, its short, and going shorter. Now I just have to learn how to train and race with it not driving me crazy.

3) Age gracefully. I just bought my first pair of reading glasses, and what do you know, it makes reading easier!

4) Move my parents to Btown! Yes, I’m helping my parents find a house and move to my new hometown. I’ve now lived in Bloomington longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, and I’m hoping to get them here too within the year. I love it here. Except in winter. Someday I’ll move where its warmer. And I’ll take them with me then too.

5) Discover more addicting iphone apps. As sad as it is, I just found hangman (thanks Barb), and it’s a little addicting! I also just discovered that I can listen to the music without headphones! Doh!

6) Volunteer more

7) Read more books. I had a goal of 24 books in 2009, I’m sure I fell short. I didn’t track what I read, but I’m guessing it was more like 15. So, I’ll shoot for 24 again in 2010. One down, I just read ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’. Nice read. A story told from the point of view of a dog, who is almost human like in his observations of humans and life. Not sure what’s next on the stack, but its sitting at home waiting to be opened up.

8) Take a vacation that is completely self indulgent, that has no training or racing involved (after the training and racing is complete, of course!)

9) Design more Splish suits.

10) Become an ironman!

here’s my latest splish design, a little retro,... its on the way: