Monday, December 31, 2007

Ouch Ouch ouch

Emotional, not physical.

It's a good thing I had a long email exchange with IronGeekGirl today about "stimulus-belief-response" because I need to change my beliefs, pronto, as I'm responding VERY negatively to something that just happened - I've been near tears for the last couple of hours.

Without going into details, I found out what several people I've known for a few years really think of me. What I learned reinforces every bad feeling I've ever had about myself, every moment of paranoia and social anxiety, every bit of insecurity dating back to childhood. I am devastated.

I contemplated letting them know I'd found out, but decided not to - that kind of impulse is never good to act on. I'm sure they wouldn't want to hurt my feelings intentionally, and revealing it would just cause more pain and humiliation all around. And I don't think it would change anything. But I feel like I can't trust anyone.

So - how do I turn this around. Well, I can't change what happened, or what anyone else says or thinks about me. Whatever it is that I do that causes them to say or think what they do is probably an immutable part of who I am - there's nothing I can do about it. So if I want to feel less shitty, I have to change my beliefs about it.

Right now I believe that: they hate me. They laugh at me behind my back. They have no respect for me. The fact that they do and think those things means I am laughable, worthless, disgusting. And everyone must think the same thing, feel the same thing about me.

Wow. Ok, where do I go with that giant load of negativity?

I'll get back to you.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Can't make resolutions yet...

Today was my first "real" workout since Saturday. (My " running" day.) Since then I've walked a lot (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday I each walked a couple of miles) and, well, painted a lot (Wednesday and Thursday spent most of both days painting my community center. And boy are my arms - and back - tired!) But that wasn't enough exercise: by last night I had that greasy icky feeling I get after too much cheesecake (made it myself, very fluffy and eggy, YUM) and too little sweat.

Today I went to the cross-training class at my local gym - a great workout. Now my arms are REALLLY tired (but I"m almost done with the painting - we replaced the horrible yellow (that I'd chosen myself 6 years ago and that was meant to look cheery and sunny, but was just oppressive) with a soft color called "straw." Everything is fresh and clean again!)

But here's my situation. Last year, when I was getting in shape for my first triathlon, my kids left for school before 8am. It was easy, relatively, to get out the door and get to a workout and still get to work on-time-ish. Now they leave at 8:30. ... you know what, I'm not doing this. What I started to write here was just a bunch of excuses - i.e. back to the old days when I had a thousand reasons why I couldn't work out. Then last year I decided I was going to do it anyway. And I did, and I still can.

But my mental block is still: what am I training for? Am I doing triathlons again? if so, how am I going to get over my fear of the swim? And if not, why should I bother ever going to the pool again! (I haven't swum in probably a month, or close to it.)

January 1 is 5 days away - by then I hope to have my priorities and motivations clear so I can get going on 2008!

Saturday, December 22, 2007


For at least a month, maybe more, I've been doing everything but run, trying to rest and heal my hamstring and the tendons that attach it to the hip joint. The muscle feels fine now - I've been doing tons of stretching so I'm more limber than I've been in ages. (I used to be a dancer but I can't imagine I'll ever get anywhere near the flexibility I had back then!) The tendon still aches when I put strain on it - spinning doesn't bother it, nor elliptical, but just about any other weight bearing exercise does. However I couldn't wait any longer - I did 20 minutes slow jog (4.5 mph) on the treadmill today. It felt - OK. The aches is there, but it didn't get any worse as I went along. I'll try it again in a day or two.

By the way, the vitamins and supplements I've now been taking for about six weeks seem to really help - thanks, LBTEPA!

The stunning silence in the comments area from my last post leads me to believe that I revealed too much!

Sunday, December 16, 2007


GeekGirl tagged me! I'm so flattered! I'm supposed to share five unusual things about me. I've already done this once before on my other blog, so click here for eight more "interesting" facts.

1. I once had a joke published in Hustler Magazine (but wasn't paid for it.) The story of how it came to be is kinda funny - details below.
2. GeekGrl says her beloved told her she has pretty feet, which reminded me that the guy I had a crush on in high school told me I had sturdy feet. I think he meant it as a compliment, but at age 16 hoping for my first- ever kiss, it wasn't the one I was hoping for! (He never did kiss me.)
3. I have actually played the part of a fairy onstage. As an adult. Seriously. (In Gilbert & Sullivan, so it wasn't THAT serious!)
4. I have gotten lost in every borough of New York City.
5. I once worked as a park ranger in a remote island off the coast of Michigan's upper peninsula - at night you could hear the wolves howling.

So the story of Hustler Magazine (in case you aren't or don't know any teenage boys, it's a porn magazine): my first boyfriend worked in the comic book industry after college - a friend of ours had co-founded a wonderful company called Milestone Media and my by-then-already-ex was one of the first writers working there. But for various reasons he left, and after much travail found a job as the editor of the humor section of Hustler. (What makes this hilarious is that he is the shyest person on the planet - he'd literally leave the room if someone was breastfeeding their baby.) We were still friends, and as I had just had my daughter at that time, proposed a joke to him that was a parody of the "Got Milk" campaign, involving a man, a milk mustache, and a naked breast. (It ran in the magazine with another friend of ours posing in the photo as the most happy fella.) He left that job after a short time, before he got totally corrupted, and is now back in the "legit" world of Saturday morning cartoons!

Now I'm supposed to tag five other people. But since everyone in blog land has already been tagged at least once, I don't want to spam anyone. Instead, if you read this and want to tag yourself, please do (and say so in the comments so we can come to your blog and learn more about you!)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Three weeks, no post!

Where am I? What am I doing? I'm starting over, in some ways. I had gained back about 8 pounds, but in the last while I've gotten a grip on myself and have re-lost 4 of them - helped along by a nasty bout of stomach flu! (Is it "The Devil Wears Prada" that has the line that goes something like, "I'm just one stomach flu away from fitting into my skinny jeans?" Since recovering, I've worked out every day. I bought some heavier dumbbells, and finally popped for a new heart rate monitor after having lost the transmitter on my old one a couple of months ago. Soon I'll decipher all the buttons so I can use it properly! (It's a Polar F6 - it has some fancy functions like a diary and upload to computer abilities - but honestly the only thing I really care about is keeping track of where I am when I'm working out - I'll never be enough of a geek-head (no insult intended, GeekGrl!) to want to chart and graph my workouts. I stopped going to IronWil's ThroughTh3Wall Challenge in part because, of all the fun timewasters, like Facebook, which I'm currently enjoying mightily, that one just wasn't grabbing me! End of digression, or is it all digression?)

Anyway, my injury is still bothering me a lot, though my insurance company decided I was better enough that they don't need to continue paying for the PT. I have a little money left over in my flex savings account so I can go next week and the week after if they're around during the holiday, but then it's just me and my foam roller. So I'm spinning, ellipticalling, shoveling snow, walking steep hills on the treadmill, and a LITTLE light jogging. Oh and I've managed to mostly avoid swimming for various reasons but I WILL get back in the pool soon. Will I ever race again? I don't know. At least I'm going through this during the winter, not peak race season!

I'm planning to start a new blog, though: I have at least a dozen essays in mind about various feminist-ish topics - the evils of girl's toys and TV shows, how far back we've fallen since the 70's in creating positive images for girls - oddly enough and completely coincidentally, just as I started to write this, the kids found, of all things, the Free to Be, You and Me CD and put it in. Marlo Thomas, what has become of your dream?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Away to Thanksgiving

Weight this morning: 196. I don't think I regained 2 pounds that I'd actually lost - I'm sure it's all just water up, water down. My goal for the next four days: come back weighing no more than when I left. Exercise every day (including today); don't drink too much, don't stuff myself silly.

I'm going to run today for the first time in a week. I have a new pain, down the side of the same leg that's been bothering me, a few inches above the knee. I'm going to take it real easy and see how it feels.

Meanwhile,e on the advice of a wise friend, I've been investigating possible hormonal imbalances contributing to mood swings - I've invested in some black cohosh herb, some soy products and seaweed to balance the soy. I'm cutting back on alcohol (one small glass every other day instead of 1-2 large glasses every day!) and on caffeine. I'll give it a month and see if it affects any of these problems and if it doesn't, take it the next step beyond random self-treatment and go see...someone. Not sure who yet.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Plowing ahead

Weight this morning: 194.8. While it looks like I've lost 3 pounds this week, it occurs to me that at least some of it is hair - I had a major chop this week. I'd been working a long-n-glamorous look for a while, mostly out of laziness. When I took the time to blowdry it all the way, it looked GREAT but the rest of the time it was a bit too shaggy/messy for me, not in a sexy bedhead way, but in a "this girl is in a slump and not taking care of herself" way. So I found this picture and brought it to a new stylist whose work I've admired:

She looked at the picture, at my hair and my face, heard me say "I don't want to spend more than 5 minutes in the morning," and told me, "no, not doing that." Though I was disappointed, I trusted her completely - she seemed to be paying such close attention to what would be JUST RIGHT for me.

The end of the story is probably obvious: I HATE it. It's not long nor short, it has no particular shape (other than vaguely bell-like) and it makes me feel like an 8th grader. Not in a good way. (Is there a good way to feel like an 8th-grader?) I'll give it a week more, to try to learn how to do it right, and then, I guess, go back and ask her to fix it. (I've NEVER done that before, but I really hate it.)

However, it does dry much faster, which I tested out this afternoon after my first time swimming with the other Master's Swimming Coach. I liked him much better than the guy who does the Thursday night session - his advice is much more in tune with TI, and is better for triathletes and distance swimmers as opposed to the high-school sprinter approach the other guy has. I'm going to try to switch my session, at least every other week.

However my panic problem has returned - I could barely venture into the deep end today. (The lanes went from 4 feet to 7 feet, with only the last 10 or 15 feet of lane over my head.) I think it's in part because of something GeekGrl posted, about a woman who basically drowned doing an IM a few weeks ago. After I read that, I found a few more stories of people who died doing tri swims, or who started suffering from swim-induced pulmonary edema. I am SUCH an idiot for looking this up - completely morbid, and being so susceptible to anxiety, it was really stupid.

I think the only option for me now is hypnosis, and I'm seriously considering it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How not to lose weight

Alternate title: how not to indulge a chocolate craving.

Or: How not to make fudge.

Take your pick.

But first: weight this morning, 195.something. Size - still one up from where I was - I dug into the retired pants pile since everything I have is dirty and found to my dismay that the pair I found, discarded 2 months ago for being too big, is now snug.

Meanwhile, last night after dinner I had a "MUST HAVE CHOCOLATE" moment. Digging through the cupboards I found most of a bar of unsweetened ghirardelli. We were out of almost everything one might put in a chocolate confection including eggs and flour, but amazingly, the wrapper had a recipe for fudge that involved only: the unsweetened chocolate, some semi-sweet chocolate chips (which, I'd forgotten, we had some of), some sweetened condensed milk, which I usually keep on hand for the occasional pumpkin pie, and vanilla. Turned out we only had unsweetened evaporated skim milk, and it further turned out, when I opened it and found a weird yellow liquid with shredded looking milky bits, that evaporated milk has an expiration date that, in this case, was more than 2 years ago. But it smelled OK, so I proceeded. (Being a truly pathetic creature.) We were also short on the chocolate chips, so I added more unsweeted baking chocolate, plus sugar.

Can you tell this is not going to end well?

I melted all in a double-boiler, added the vanilla, and it tasted OK. Next step was to pour it into a pan and let it set in the refrigerator for 2 hours. I poured, and left - went to a movie (no snacks there, good on me.) Came home, found the chocolate had congealed into something resembling nothing so muich as sewage sludge on top, with a thin liquidy layer on the bottom.

Naturally, I ate some.

It looks just as disgusting today, and I've been picking at it all morning and into the afternoon. WHY? WHY don't I just pitch it? Why don't I look at the chocolate mess, and look at my too-small, formerly too big pants, and say, STOP. THE. INSANITY.

I guess I can try LPTEBA's suggestion and post the weight I want to attain next - say, 193, on little post-its all over the house. If my kids ask about them I can tell them they're for math practice and give them some subtraction problems.

By the way, I did hav ea great workout today - a one-hour Pilates class plus 45 minutes on the elliptical, on the "fat-burn" setting. It's weird - to lose fat you're supposed to work out at a lower heart rate. I'm so used to working in the 130-150 range, and the machine kept silently yelling at me to slow down to 119. The good thing was that by doing so, I could indeed continue for the whole 45 minutes. I iced my hamstring by sitting on a pack of frozen hamburger meat (well-wrapped - it's going to be a pot of chili tonight) and rested too - trying to nap while listening to my kids and their playdate play school. It's so cute to hear 8-year olds give each other (and the little sister) instruction about US geography.

Oh, and here's some more consolation: apparently women with small waists and big asses are smarter, and pass their brains down to their kids. Something to do with Omega-3-fatty acids - we naturally have more of them. So instead of bemoaning the fact that pants never fit the 14-inch difference between my waist and my hips, I should be glad!

Friday, November 16, 2007


Several of my blog-world friends are using this forum to hold themselves accountable for their choices and actions. So, in that spirit and with the intent of getting a grip and refocusing on my goals:

My weight this morning was 197.

That's 8, count-em, 8 pounds up from six weeks ago. I blame Halloween, cold weather, being overtired, and my own inability to stop shoving food in my mouth. (and my injury, but I could be doing plenty of exercise if I chose to make the time.)

My clothes are tight, my thighs rub together, I feel physically yucky. It's not that I haven't been exercising - I am averaging 3-4 times a week of a decent aerobic workout of one type or another, plus 2ish light core/weight trainings. But I've been eating double or triple what I should with absolutely no self-control. So - with Thanksgiving and the holidays coming, and everyone having cookies and crap around, I am determined to get ahold of myself and hit January 1 weighing less than I do now. Can get back to 190 by then? I don't know. But I should be able to lose a pound a week, right?

I am 43 years old. Why do I still undermine myself at every turn? Why do I say out loud thatI want to control my eating, but at the very same time, think, "oh, there will be chocolate at the hair salon, great!" I heard a commercial on the radio this morning for a hypnotist that used that very idea, saying, "stop being your own worst enemy and become your own best friend."

My daughter wants a turn on the computer but I am definitely coming back to this theme, hopefully in a more coherent way. Meanwhile, I went to sleep at 8:30 pm last night instead of swimming; did nothing today. Wednesday I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and 25 minutes of weights; Tuesday I did spinning but it hurt my leg too much. Tomorrow: Pilates and elliptical (or something.) Sunday: swim. And I will not overeat. I will not overeat. I will not overeat.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Race season is over

I didn't run the 5-mile Pumpkin Run on Sunday, and I won't be running the 5k this weekend. I decided that I'd rather take a short break now and get some PT, in hopes that I can really get over this and have a good season next year. I went to the lovely and talented Benta today, who has worked wonders on just about every body part I have over the years. She determined that it was a localized problem, nothing related to hips or back. We did some ultrasound and massage, some gentle stretches, and she told me what I should and shouldn't do over the next few weeks. (Should: do core and strength training, any workout that doesn't hurt, lots of stretching. Shouldn't: run for a while.) I'll go back a few times and let her do all the wonderful things she does, and hope that I can start up again soon. She encouraged me to do longer warm-ups and cooldowns when I do workout, not my usual 60 seconds of stretching and then plopping down in front of the computer! So no PR this week, but I'll be ready for all kinds of new records next year!

And congratulations to all the blogathletes who competed at SOMA last weekend - I am in such admiration of all of you, whether or not you finished!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wimp: A meditation.

"Wimp" is one of those words that starts to lose its meaning if you say it over and over and over: wimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimp wimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimp. I realized tonight that this word has had a strange power over me, for my entire life -- just about every athletic experience I've ever had has been defined by it. Either I've been fighting against the word, or succumbing to it:

Wimp: my entire childhood, when the other kids seemed naturally strong and coordinated - I was the only one who couldn't climb the rope, make it over the wall, or run the full length of the field without having to stop and gasp for air.

Wimp: 9th grade, when I was the worst player on my soccer team, because I was afraid of getting kicked. (I watch my daughter and her friends in awe at their physical bravery!) I didn't join the team again the following year.

Not Wimp: playing basketball in my early 20's, with the guys from the 'hood in Brooklyn - I felt great mixing it up under the boards.

Not Wimp: a 4-day solo hike across Isle Royale, on the tough rocky Minong trail - the whole summer I was a park ranger (this was 1987) I'd heard terrifying tales of it, and finally decided I had to do it.

Wimp: the hundreds - thousands - of times over the years I've said 'I am going to work out today' and then found a reason not to do it.

Wimp: age 30-something, visiting my distinctly non-wimpish friend in Cape Cod on Memorial Day weekend, she and her equally macho husband leap into the frigid surf and laugh and me for not having the guts to jump in too.

Not wimp: training for a triathlon and doing it. But - wimp: needing the boat to paddle along side me so I could finish.

Wimp: tonight. I decided to take a dance class on Thursday nights and tonight was the first one. I used to dance seriously, but other than Pilates I haven't done much dancing in nearly a decade. But between the class and yesterday's weights and core workout, I was tired and sore. I ate too much dinner (my eating lately is the subject of another whole post) and decided to go home. But, then:

Not Wimp: at the last second, I turned into the parking lot instead of driving on by. And:

Wimp: sat in my car for 5 minutes thinking about whether to go home after all. I was cold and the pool has been much cooler lately. Somehow:

Not Wimp: I reminded myself why I had signed up for this club - that I want to get better at swimming for a reason. So walked into the building, and stood alone in the locker room, feeling how cold it was. I was the first one there, and I hoped nobody else would show up. But they did and shamed me (nicely enough) into not wimping out. I got in the pool, muddled along for 30 minutes, freezing all the while. Then in a sprint, I reinjured the hamstring I've been trying to baby along. (By the way, no race this weekend, and maybe not next weekend -I don't want to make this worse.) So I got out 15 minutes early, hit the showers and went home. Wimp.

I am a big believer in reframing - that technique where you realize that the way you have been looking at a situation is not serving you, so you change your beliefs about it. For example, every time you say "should" to yourself, you turn it into "could" - just about ever sentence in which it appears is so much gentler and kinder that way!

So how can I reframe this wimp/not a wimp dichotomy? Nobody else thinks of me that way - why must I view myself through such a harsh, unforgiving lens? Where did it come from?

Or, how about this: wimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimpwimp ... I should keep saying it til it loses all meaning - so it will lose all its power over me.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


For months, maybe since the spring, I've had a very sore muscle in the upper rear of my left thigh. not sure if it's a glute or whatever muscle is just below it, but it's not getting better and it really slows me down because it's hard to kick. I never fully warm up even after 20 or 30 minutes. I ordered one of those foam rollers- maybe it will help. I tried to do a "long slow run" today - to contrast with the shorter faster bursts. I was slow alright and did manage to do 30 straight minutes without stopping to walk, on a course with some rolling hills. But I only covered 2.33 miles in that time - nearly 13 minutes/mile. (12.87 to be precise.) (Then I ran and walked the rest of the way home, about another half mile.) I know I keep whining about being slow, but I feel like I should be able to do more after this whole season - go farther, if not faster. b

Friday, October 19, 2007

Another race planned!

The 5-mile "Pumpkin Run" in Kent is next Sunday, one week before the 5K on the Rail Trail. This one is rolling hills, not flat - a great last "long run" before the other one. My goals: to beat my 5-mile record from May, and if possible, do it in 1:00 flat - 12-minute miles. Then for the 5K, I think I'll be really ready to go a bit faster!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hard Swim!

Last week, Master's Swim was canceled because of a lightning storm - only the lifeguard knew not to come, so the rest of us waited for about a half-hour, including the coach, before we gave up. Two of our team tried to sneak back in and swim, but Coach Bob suspected their plan, and caught them - they ran screaming back to the locker room like a couple of teenagers. (We're talking about women in their 50's!)

This week, Coach Bob gave us a 1,300 yard workout (we have an hour.) We had warmups, some laps of crawl, breast and backstroke, some laps of kickboard and pull thingy, and then some speed laps. I wasn't able to finish it all - I only did about 1,100 yards, but that's still the longest, and farthest, I've ever gone. Once again, I'm the slowest person in the room/on the team... but it's all about my personal best, right? Coach Bob said he could see real improvement (i.e. I've given up my Total Immersion technique and am starting to get the hang of what he wants me to do) but I still feel like I'm thrashing around and sinking. (For one moment I felt a flow, but I couldn't keep it up.) But I have 9 months til my next triathlon - I WILL get the hang of this!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Negative split...and a thought

I did my first training run for my 5k today - 2.5 miles on the rail trail with my daughter. I did a 6 minute warmup, then the fastest half-mile I could (10:34 pace!), another slow jog for another 1/2 mile or so, another, faster half-mile (10 minute pace even - fastest ever!) and jogged home. I'd thought it was closer to 3 miles but my google map said only 2.55 - the total with rests, walks, and waiting for Ella to take some sips of water from my bottle left me at 37 minutes total. I'll have to do a lot better than that in 16 days if I'm going to make my goal! (Of course I'll have race adrenaline going.)

One thing I've realized is: when I used to run in my 20's, I'd do the Manufacturers Hanover Corporate Challenges in Central Park, which were 3.5 miles. I was always amazed to see people run a half-mile or more to warm jup, before they started the race. I couldn't imagine doing that - I thought I'd use up my energy and have too little left to race. Now I see how much a difference it makes to be thoroughly warmed up - I can go much faster after I've jogged 5 or even 10 minutes. Maybe it's my age - I remember reading how it took Edward Villela an hour and a half to warm up when he was in his 50's - but he could still dance as well once he'd done so, as he ever did.

And here's my thought for the day: some of my favorite athlete's blogs, like Athena Diaries, talk about a lot more than training and racing. Mine stays closely focused on my training, in part because I don't feel like I can talk about problems at work or anything else "real" because I'm not anonymous on this blog - everyone who knows me knows about it, and it would take about 10 seconds for any random person to figure out my real name and where I live. (Not that I fool myself that any one I know them actually reads it!) Maybe I just need to get over this reticence, as it might be a much more interesting blog to read (or write!) if I talk about more than just miles and gear and training!

New Goal!

I found out about a 5K race that's in 2 1/2 weeks - Novemer 30. It's on the Rail Trail, so is almost perfectly flat. It seems like a great opportunity to try a new goal: run faster. So far, in all my races this year (all 4 of them) I've run slower than 12-minute miles (or WAY slower, as the case may be!) but there's no reason I can't do better than that now. So - my training for the next 20 days will focus on the run, with lots of speedy intervals, thinking about form and quick foot turnover. From what I've read, if I do two workouts with intervals, and two longer slower runs each week, that will help build speed and endurance.

So: I would like to run the entire 5K without walking, in, let's say, under 35 minutes. That's ambitious but not impossible! I will get out there today (with my 5 - year - old on her bike, most likely) and see how I do as a starting point!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Road Bike! What a feeling!

I took my new vintage Univega to Berkshire Bike and Board today to see what it needed to be roadworthy. As we looked at it closely, it seemed that almost everything was in like-new condition - new tires, chain was not stretched, brake pads unworn. We filled the tires and there were no leaks. I bought a new seat (the old one was trashed) - I got the kind designed for women, with a convenient cutaway in the middle. I also got a floor pump with a gauge and some chain lube - I did zero maintenance on my old bike all summer - never even checked the tires - so it was about time. (I also got a big can of Cliff Shot drink and some chocolate mint gu's - I'll report back on those shortly!)

So just now I took it for a brief spin - just near the house, probably no more than 2 miles total, up and down a few medium hills. I was concerned about 2 things: that you can only sit in the all-the-way down position, as the brake levers are set down at the bottom, and that it only has 12 gears - I'm used to the upright mountain bike position, and I rely on granny gear on my Trek, which has 21 gears. The gears weren't a problem for the short hills I did - I felt an amazing amount of power and speed, compared to the old bike. The riding position will get very tiring, though - after only 10 minutes my hands and arms were starting to feel it. I guess I'll build up the mileage slowly, and get some gloves.

Another concern will be shifting - the shifters are on the down tube and they don't move easily so I'll have to have one hand off the handlebars and really put some force into shifting - it threw me off balance a bit.

The whole thing felt so different - I felt the road differently - it was stiffer, maybe? I felt the bumps more, but not in a bad way. The seat was interesting - much narrower than on the trek, but I think I'll like it. The cutout definitely helps! (I wasn't wearing bike shorts or any padding.) And it was FAST - I felt I could really get up some speed on the downhills, if I let myself (which I didn't.) I haven't put a computer on it yet - I figured I'd wait to make sure i like it before I add stuff to it. But I think I want to ride it for a few months - as long as I can this fall and next spring - to really give it a chance before I put down money on those Giant OCR3''s or 2's I've been coveting. So I guess I should move my seat bag, bottle holder and computer over!

Any suggestions for getting used to the position, or softening the stress on my hands and arms? Or do I just have to toughen up?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

New Vintage bike!

My sister in law scored a Univega Sportour at a garage sale for about $10 a while back. It was too big for her so she never rode it, and now she's given it to me. I was curious to find out more about it - is it any good? So I posted a query and photos on BikeForums to see what information I coudl gather. Evidently it's considered quite decent bike, with some good components - not a bottom of the line bike at all. Different people have given a range of suggestions about what I should do with it, of course! (Swap out components vs keep what I've got, etc.)

(Thread and photos here:

It's probably from the very early 1980's, and needs some minor tuning up to be road worthy. I'm going to fix it up (hopefully for less than $100 all told including a new lady-friendly saddle and tires/tubes) and see how it feels to ride a road bike - even try to make it my competition bike for next season. It should be better than my Trek Antelope mountain bike, and a fair bit cheaper than any new or late-model I could buy. Should be fun!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Race report - Harvest Heart 10k

So ... what is there to say, really? It was really hard. I know I'm supposed to be happy and proud and all, but for some reason I'm really bummed at how slow I was. Just under 13 minute miles, on average. Partly I never tried to go fast, because I wanted to make sure I finished and didn't burn out too soon (like the guy who quit after mile 2.) Partly I was still a little sore and achy from Friday's stupid workout. But mostly, I'm just REALLY SLOW. I've been doing some speed work but obviously I need to do more. My fastest mile was the first, at 11:19 or so. My next-fastest was the 3rd (or was it the 4th) at 11:46. The others were well over 12, and the last one was a full 17 minutes.

Me, post-race.

It wasn't the weather - it was cool and cloudy for most of the time. The sun came out and I got pretty warm by the end, but I was never overheated.

Maybe it was the hills. I mapped this course and compared it to the Sharon Classic. For the first five miles they were almost identical in elevation change -- total climb 269 feet today, 265 in Sharon - I don't think that 4 feet took 2 minutes off my time!

Maybe it was race prep. I ate eggs and toast at 8am, and a peanut butter sandwich on multigrain around 10:3o. I addeed a pria powerbar at 11, and had about 4 glasses of water over the course of the morning. I had half a bottle of off-the-shelf accelerade in the minutes leading up to the start, and a chocolate (caffeinated) gu. I drank plenty on the way, too, and had a second gu at about the 4th mile. I never felt hungry, nor overfull,

Maybe it was carrying that water bottle on my back - it feels heavy, even half-empty, and throws off my balance. I've ordered the one with the 4 little bottles that are distributed evenly around the body - we'll see how that one is.

My knees were OK, my shoes didn't bother me. I had some decent tunes playing (K.T. Tunstall's new album has great running songs!) So - no excuses, I just ran slower.

But - attitude adjustment needed: I just ran a 10k race - something I never even dreamed of before this year.
Maybe it's time to get a coach! (Oh, and this winter will be a good time to rearrange and redecorate the blog - now that I'm clearly in this for the blong haul might as well make it look a little nicer!)

Mission Accomplished!

I'll post more later but I finished the 10k, feeling strong. I'd thought my pace at 5 miles was faster than the Sharon Classic in May, but in fact I was 2 minutes slower - a bit of a surprise. Total time at 6.2 miles: 1:20. (DFL, but there was DNF too, a college-age guy who had started out running with his buddies, but quit sometime after mile 2 - I think he was just completely out of shape.)

Gotta run (limp) now but I'll post a picture and a complete race report tonight.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

What was I THINKING???

Yesterday, I headed out for a last, pre-race run. I hadn't run in over a week (after some great training before that.) I stopped by the gym on my way out, to sign up for spin next week, and saw that a cross-training class was about to begin. I decided to join in, instead of run, figuring I'd get a great workout and it would be more fun. It was fun, but it was incredibly hard and worked muscles I evidently never use - especially core and arms/shoulders. (She did TONS of very challenging moves from plank position.) I am SORE today - achy and miserable, so much so that I'm not sure if I'm actually coming down with something (my throat hurts too, but I've had chronic congestion from allergies lately, so it could be that.) So - I don't know how best to prepare for the race in the next 24 hours. Soak in a bath? Do a short run? (Coolrunning's beginner 10k training plan says to do 2 miles the day before the race.) Sleep and take ibuprofen? I just want to finish tomorrow - I've never run that distance and my training wasn't very focused on this since I just found out about it last week. Any advice?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Bike lust

For the first time, I actually rode a road bike yesterday. I've been thinking about them, browsing the catalogs, websites, and ebay, and generally wishing vaguely that one would just come into my life somehow. But I've always assumed that I'd have to spend real money to get something good - that the bottom of the line, $650 model just wouldn't do. But yesterday, with a little time to kill, I wandered into Berkshire Bike and Board, asking if they had any used road bikes. They had one, which was too big and not very nice, but the nice man brought out a Giant OCR3w (w = women's frame) - carbon fork, 21 (or maybe 24?) speeds, Tiagra shifters, pretty blue color. After a moment's hesitation, I climbed aboard for a quick ride and, WOW. What a difference. My ride now is a 1990 Trek Antelope mountain bike. It weighs about a thousand pounds. I knew that made it hard to lift, but I had no idea how much easier it is to ride up a hill when you're not dragging all the heavy bike with you. Those skinny tires... the easy quick shifting from any position....the riding position on the Giant is adjustable - I can start more upright and then lower the stem as I get more accustomed to the road bike position (and then I can replace it with a fixed stem to save more weight later.) The leg and foot positioning felt like it gave me way more power. And I was surprised at how comfortable I felt. I WANT IT! It's only $650... I know there is a way to make this bike happen for me by next season!

I'm excited!

I learned that there is a 10k race in town this weekend! I'm totally signing up - it's the one challenge I'd set for myself early in the season that I hadn't done. I'm really not ready - I haven't run more than 4-ish, flattish miles since June or so. But I'm doing it anyway! I'll just do a 4:1 or 5:1 run/walk the whole way and I'll get there! It's Sunday, 1pm - let's hope for fine weather!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Swim Team Update

I've decided to stick with masters. I think a coach and a team is better than a book, and the fact is I swim more and harder when someone is pushing me! I swam 1200 yards today, the most ever. He wanted us to push harder with our arms so they'd really get exhausted - he feels that building strength is the best way to get better and faster. There was a woman swimming next to me who barely kicked at all and was zooming twice as fast as I was, seemingly effortlessly - I asked him why and he said she must be very strong. But she was also rotating quite a bit, and her whole body rotated as a piece - hips and shoulder together. From everything I've read in TI, that seems to be very important, but I find it hard to rotate doing things the way he teaches. On the other hand a friend of mine said my stroke looks much better than it did before! I did get into a good groove by the end, feeling like I was really stretching and reaching, but in general it feels like it will take a long time to get the hang of this!

Meanwhile my window-shopping with my gift-certificate is quite enjoyable! I can't afford a garmin or fancy HRM, but I could probably get the little water bottle belt Lisa recommends, and some winter running tights, for my $75! Now if anyone wants to give me a gift certificate to Road Runner Sports I have a LONG list of things I'd get from them!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hey it's my birthday!

And how far have I come this year! Last year at this time, becoming a triathlete was just a distant dream! My family takes it seriously too - my daughters were so tickled to present me with a gift certificate to as my gift (chosen by my ever-supportive husband!) I've been happily browsing - hard to decide between a new heart rate monitor, some winter running tights, or some other fun goody!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Four mile run

It was on the rail trail, so it was flat, but that didn't make it easy. In fact it is not exactly flat - it has about a 3% grade, so for the first two miles I felt GREAT - fast, strong - did it in under 11 minute miles - which is really fast for me. The 2nd two miles, on the other hand, I had to really work. But I did. I finished the whole thing (4.4 miles, actually) in about 53 minutes. (I walked for a minute or so every mile, and at the last half-mile too.) This is big progress from the runs I'd been doing most of the summer, where I ran 4 minutes, walked one. My next challenge is to do a run tha tfar in the "real world" - where there are hills! I know I can, it's just a matter of giving myself that full amount of time - hard to block out that much on a weekday. I also want to get a different water carrying device - I have a bottle that straps on over my butt but it bounces annoyingly - but going that far without water is very uncomfortable. Maybe those belts with lots of little bottles? They just look so dumb in the store! Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Dilemma - advice from my triathloning friends?

So I went to my first Master's swim session tonight. I'd been concerned that the coach would not be supportive of the Total Immersion style, which I've been working so hard on for many months. Indeed the first thing I saw was that he had kickboards and leg floaty things set up for each swimmer. The assigned drills included quite a bit of use of both. He took one look at the way I swim and told me I was doing everything wrong: that I should extend my arm farther before entering the water (as opposed to the TI entry at the goggle line), that I should hold my head up so I look forward at a 45 degree angle (rather than straight down) and that I shouldn't rotate my hips - the very opposite of the TI style which is predicated on rotation. I briefly described the TI approach to him and he laughed it off, saying he'd never heard of it and "Micheal Phelps doesn't swim that way, nobody does in the competitive world."

So it's a bird in the hand dilemma - I can't do both, as it's all about muscle memory and practice, so I either stick with TI and practice on my own, taking a lesson every six months or so when I have the time and money, or go with the traditional, old-school swim team approach where I can get ongoing coaching. (Or keep going to the sessions but just do my own thing - seems kind of obnoxious to do that.) I've arranged my whole schedule to have Thursday nights available for this.

I'll add that I've really not mastered the TI thing - it's still laborious and VERY slow (the old and heavyset woman next to me was going at twice my pace), and he was probably quite right when he observed that my body was sort of flip-flopping (I think it's called fishtailing?) and not gliding straight.

I'm really not sure what would be a) best for my swim technique and thus my triathlon career, b) best for my fitness and c) best for my mental health (to get - or give up - a night out!)

Advice anyone?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Interesting fact

Did you know that if you do something regularly, with effort and intention, you get better at it? I have just discovered this fascinating fact! For lo these many months, I'd believed that 'my body isn't made for running" - that my weight, my knees, my feet, all made it better if I only run every 5 or 6 days at most, because otherwise I'd hurt myself, overstrain, etc. This week, for various reasons, I ran a hard. fast (for me)flat 30 minutes on Wednesday, a long and hilly 35 minutes on Thursday, and a rolling 45 minutes on Saturday. Three runs in four days. And felt GREAT - stronger and faster than I have in a long time! And did a hard hour-long bike ride today, feeling fine all the while (I have another hour to go to get home from here, if I can fix a cleat problem with no tools. If I can't I have to get my husband to pick me up!)

Just thought I'd share!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Still here, still chugging!

I think the fall weather is inspiring. I've gotten into some great new routines, and have a great new workout schedule: Monday morning swim. Tuesday morning spin. Wednesday and Thursday, run (while my daughter is at Soccer practice.)I can do sprints and speed work on the rail trail, or run hills - whichever I need.

Also Thursdays, swim at the new Master's club that is starting - very excited about this. Friday - depends on how many days in a row I've worked out - if I need a rest day. Saturday / Sunday - one long run, one bike ride. Plus I have a new weight training routine to do 4 days a week, at home. I've restarted my modified South Beach diet (and have lost about 2 pounds this week, with a goal of something like 10 more pounds by spring for a total of 40) - for some reason I find fall an easier time to eat less and exercise more. Maybe the ice cream and the cold beer isn't so tempting when the temperature drops (and those fall clothes are motivating too.)

So - I think my triathlon season is over. I had one tentatively planned for Sunday but my swim panic is still inhibiting me - last time I went out I had a real panic attack. So I'm going to look for a 5k to do and try to focus on speed, and do the Master's swim thing to improve my stroke and confidence. (Maybe try some hypnotism too.) For next year I'm considering the following goals: a faster sprint tri (or three,) a 10k run, and if those go well, think about a half-marathon next October. Maybe an Oly, but maybe not til 2009.

Meanwhile, I'll redesign the blog, write a mission statement and/or 92 interesting things about me, and all the other fun things people do on their blogs, and keep on chugging on this journey I've been enjoying so much!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Still here

I know I haven't posted much - it's because I haven't been training much. I realized that a 10k a week from now is out of reach - I've only been doing 3-ish miles each run. I went swimming yesterday but the pond was choppy - I got a huge mouthful of water after only 2 laps and, I confess, I quit.

I did finally get my clipless pedals today, and after some tinkering with them (I figured out how, myself) I was able to easily clip in and go. Of course I was riding with my 8 year old so "go" means no more than 9-10 mph, for only a few miles! But it helped me get used to them.

I sat on a road bike in a shop the other day and was amazed at how different the leg position was - I think I'd get so much more power on one. But it's not in the cards, for now! So: this week it's intensive rehearsal for our show (Gilbert & Sullivan's Iolanthe) next weekend - my workout opportunities will be limited but I'll be dancing for hours every night! I think my next (and probably last) race will be the Bear Mountain Sprint on September 23. It will be a stretch - half-mile swim, 13 mile bike and 4 mile run. But I hope to really train for at least a few weeks leading up to it!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Event photos

Just got the Brightroom photos of the Nutmeg sprint. I didn't ask anyone to take pictures of me, and I was there alone, so this is all there is to prove it!
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What's next? A couple of 10K opportunities, and another sprint in mid-September. I'm getting clipless pedals, too - that's the next chance I have to improve my speed!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Do you ever look at other people doing something fun and say, "gee, I wish I were the kind of person who could do something like that?" I certainly never thought I could be the kind of person who could be a triathlete. Another thing I never thought would happen to me was to own a boat. I have friends who canoe and kayak, but that always seemed the kind of fun that other people could have, but not me. Well, not any more: I am now the proud owner of a kayak! I got it for a great price, and will be bringing it home in about an hour, and hopefully debuting it on our town pond not long after that! I'd been needing to add an upper body workout to my routine, but I'm much more excited about finding a new activity to do with my daughters, neither of whom has ever been a little boat like this. Can't you just see it - sneaking out at dawn for a paddle, and coming home in time for breakfast! It's so cute - bright green, impossible to capsize - perfect for beginners and children!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Thank you, Lbtepa!

I'd been dithering since my last (first) triathlon about when I'd ever do another - I have been so phobic about the swim. I've trained pretty steadily in the pool, taken a TI workshop and really practiced the technique. But I just never got around to getting back in a lake. Meanwhile my biking and running numbers have been declining, mostly due to crazy summer schedule. But LBtepa told me, just do it, don't wait, so I committed in my mind to the one I've been saying for months was my next one (but I hadn't believed it) the Nutmeg State Sprint at Lake Waramaug. It's a .5 swim (longer than Pawling), 9 mile bike, 3.1 run.

I confessed my anxiety to a friend a few days ago. She's a natural healer and accupuncturist, and she offered to teach me a technique to help overcome my fear called Emotional Freedom Technique (or EFT.) It entails coming up with a sentence that described your fear in stark terms, and your wish: i.e., "Even though I am afraid I will panic and drown, I choose to swim with ease and calm." You say this over and over while tapping certain meridians on your head, face and body. There's another part that involves eye-rolling, counting to 5 and humming a snippet of a song, I kid you not. And I kid you not, I did this over and over again for the last two days!

The race started at 7am, and was about a half-hour from home. I hadn't preregistered so wanted to arrive early, so set the alarm for 4:40. My husband was extremely skeptical, knowing how very not a morning person I am. But I was out the door at 5:05 and was the first one to pull into the parking lot. (Then it was a 20 minute walk over a very tall hill to the site.)

After yesterday's all-day torrential rains, today was very chilly but absolutely lovely. The steam was rising over the lake, everyone was super-friendly, and the field was a perfect size - just over 100 athletes, almost ALL of whom looked extremely buff and experienced. (Unlike Pawling where there were many more shapes and sizes.)

I continued to mutter my affirmations and surreptitiously tap a bit, and also to remind myself that it was OK if I got anxious, I knew I could do it and I'd get over it. But still, I was fearful. And cold. Luckily the water was much warmer than the air! I'd eaten carefully so I knew I wouldn't have stomach issues in the water, and by 7 (ish) I was as ready as I could possibly be. The men went off first, and 5 minutes later we were off too. I immediately let everyone get ahead, and let myself paddle and breast stroke to get comfortable - all part of the plan. There was one couple that was swimming together and who had clearly planned from the start to go VERY slow - he was doggy paddling and she was backstroking. I pulled ahead of them and headed out to those far, far buoys. But I got nervous, wobbly, kept stopping and looking around for the boats. I made it known to the nice ladies in the kayaks that I hoped they'd stay close, and they did. I left one behind, who stayed with the couple and when I reached the next one I completely froze - shouted out that I wanted to go in. She came and let me grab on, at which point I thought it was all over- the USAT regs said that you'd be disqualified for that. But she offered to let me continue, and another woman came and paddled alongside me, no more than 10 feet away. And we continued like that all the way around - I chatted withe her every time I needed a break, but never held on again - I DID IT! Swim time: 29:20, which is actually not bad considering the stopping and starting - once I was swimming for real I moved along at a decent clip (for me.)

It was a long slog to transition, and evidently I need to work on those skills as well, since I was 110th for T1! Getting clipless pedals would help - then I could just slip into my shoes. I'll have to think about what else I could do! As I was leaving for the bike, the first rider was just coming in on his fancy tri bike, shouting "GET OUT OF MY WAY!!!" when nobody was actually in his way. A rare moment of bad vibes in a really nice day.

The bike was so pretty - the first 6 miles were right at the shoreline of the lake. I was all alone, and having a lovely time. Suddenly at Mile 6 I hit the wall. Not bonking, an uphill climb I couldn't believe! I NEVER walk when I bike anymore - but this time there was no way I was riding up it. At that point the male half of the slow swim couple struggled by me (but his companion still hadn't passed me.) Another steep uphill at mile 8 also stopped me for a while. At one point I passed a woman who'd had a flat, but otherwise never saw another soul. For a while I was concerned that by the time I got back, they wouldn't let me go out on the run - they'd said they would close the course at 2 hours and there was no way I'd finish that fast.

But nobody said anything (most were probably already eating breakfast by then!) and I wobbled back out and up Strawberry Hill- an insanely steep, insanely long hill. I was walking up, wondering why on earth anyone would choose this path for the course, when a woman ran up alongside me. She was looking for her boyfriend and decided to run with me while she looked. She was on a relay team and had long since finished, and when the boyfriend didn't appear, she just ran with me the whole way. What a blessing - she kept me distracted, paced me, and encouraged me. She disappeared just as I headed into the home stretch - don't know if she found the boyfriend or was a figment of my imagination, but wherever she is, I thank her!

People were already leaving by the time I came in, but everyone gave me big smiles and encouragement. My friend in the kayak came up and said hi - she's been driving the "sad car" that was supposed to scoop up the last stragglers but she said she held them off and convinced them to let me and the remaining few finish. The woman who'd finished behind me in the swim caught me at the run's turnaround and finished almost 3 minutes ahead, and the woman with the flat tire almost caught me (she did a 28 minute run, compared to my 40+) but not quite, so I was second-to-last (with one other DNF, evidently whoever that was, it's a shame, because she'd had a really fast swim!)

I finished feeling strong and comfortable - not ready to cry or collapse like the first one. It helped that it was very cool, not blisteringly hot like Pawling.
I'm consistent: I was 116th (out of 118 competitors) in all three parts. (So why did I finish 105th out of 106 total finishers - I don't get it! Maybe that counts the relay people too who weren't counted in the 106.)

Will I do another? If I do I want to go faster - time to start thinking of ways to cut a few minutes off. I think it would be easiest to cut time off the bike: maybe some faster tires...or those clipless pedals. I'm not quite ready to ditch my mountain bike and lay down $800 or more for a road bike - just not in the budget. There are a few more events I am considering, including doing an Oly in Washington DC as a relay with my husband and sister-in-law, in late September (I'd do the bike, she'd swim, and my hubby would run.) We shall see but today I'm basking in my accomplishment!

Oh and is this wierd? My total time was 2:07:22 - about 30 seconds faster than my Pawling tri time. I guess my first goal should be to break 2 hours!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A hurdle overcome

Today I jumped in the lake. And swam. For a half-mile, without touching ground or dock. I didn't go far away from anything solid, not even out to the floating docks which are no more than 25 and maybe 75 yards from the end of the main docks. No, I just went back and forth about 10 feet off the ends of the 2 main docks as if I were swimming laps, but never touched. I did some breast stroke and some random paddling, but mostly genuine, halfway good form freestyle, trying to get in a good TI groove. I never really hit it - my legs dragged -- but I was close. For the first few minutes I felt surges of anxiety about all the weird pond sensations - tickles of seaweed, sudden changes of temperature, little waves, sun in my eyes - but gradually realized I felt strong and calm. So now I know my body is capable of swimming that distance (nice and slow, nice and slow.) I felt a bit wobbly after getting out (and something went up my nose that has caused me to sneeze my head off ever since -- I hope THAT doesn't happen on Saturday!) but I think I could have gotten on my bike after that! And after my 30-mile hilly ride 2 weeks ago, a 9 mile mostly flat spin seems like cake! (We'll see how a 3 mile run seems after that... but I can always walk if I have to.) So I guess I'm STILL planning to do this race! (Somehow I think I'll feel more like a REAL triathlete if I do more than one - like, "oh yeah, had another tri yesterday!" all blasé, as opposed to it being a once-in-a-lifetime fluke thing.

I'm doing it.

I'm really doing another triathlon. Saturday morning, 7am start time, Nutmeg State Sprint. I'm nervous, really nervous, about the swim. (And the fact that my training intensity isn't what it was in the spring when I was planning the Pawling.) Slow and steady, try to finish. (They say they scoop up anyone who hasn't finished in 2 hours - if I don't freak on the swim I should be able to do it in less than that as the bike is only 9 miles, shorter than the last one.) Tonight I go for an open water test.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Running with a friend

A few times when I've been out running I've crossed paths with a woman I know casually from town - her daughter plays with mine occasionally. In the Sharon Classic we ran at about the same pace (she's usually quite a bit faster - about 10 1/2 minute miles - but had her 9 year old son with her.) We kept saying " let's go running sometime" and last week when she called me about something for work I suggested we pick a date and really do it. Turns out she's been a serious athlete - run marathons, swum 4 miles at a stretch - but nowadays a 4 miles run, including walking up hills, is more her speed. We did just about that much, maybe touch more. It felt fine to me - having the company was both distracting from the pain and motivating - there were times I'd have kept walking but she encouraged me to start running again. It was hot, and I don't think we were going even as fast as I usually do. But I did it, instead of what seems to have happened a lot this week, that is, not getting around to doing much of anything. These days I'm not feeling like an "athlete" much less a "triathlete" - it's all because I'm not truly committed in my mind to a next event. There's one on Saturday morning (long swim, still anxious), and another one on Sunday, and one on Thursday the 23rd in the evening, which is a perfect distance (shorter swim) but almost 2 hours in September that's a short swim but long bike (19) and long-ish run (4.5) - hard to imagine I could be ready for that...what to do, with all the other things going one?

PS thanks everyone for the great advice about beating the soreness. I'll restock on the drinks, and make sure i move every day even after a really tough workout. On that note, off to swim.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Still sore!

Five days after my 30 mile bike, my muscles still ache! I've been sort of using it as an excuse not to do anything - but I'm going to swim this morning and see if that loosens them up. Any suggestions about when and whether to start moving again after a killer workout?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Sometimes you just have to go for it

I came up with a million reasons why I couldn't or shouldn't or didn't need to do a 30 mile bike ride yesterday: I've been sick... I had to get back to fulfill another commitment...a 12 mile ride did me in earlier in the week and I'd never gone farther than that...that last 4 miles was going to be REALLY HARD... but in my heart I really wanted to try it, and when I got to the point when I had to decide: turn around and come back along the nice flat rail trail, for a total of 22 miles, or keep going on hills and main roads, for 30, I went for it, even though I'd just fallen and given myself a nice deep bruise on my calf, even though my shoulders and neck were already aching.

This was the Harlem Valley Rail Ride, an annual event sponsored by Bike New York and our local rail trail association. It started and ended in Milllerton, and depending on whether you chose the 22, 30, 55, 75 or 100 miles rides, you covered up to 3 states and at least 6 or 7 towns. (I learned, to my amazement, that the hundred-milers also got to do a time trial up Winchell Mountain - that is STEEP.)

The first part, along the rail trail, was pretty easy, though I was constantly annoyed by a little boy who was zooming all over the trail, stopping unexpectedly, racing other kids, and generally not following rules of the road. I had no idea who he belonged to and really wanted to give him a talking-to. But I decided not to let him ruin my day, and put on a burst of speed to leave him behind. The rail trail is a lovely ride - mostly shaded, and it goes past farm fields and lovely vistas of the Harlem valley. At the first rest top (10 miles in) I fell off my bike and got a nice ugly bruise - it cramped up at first (a charley horse, I guess) but I shook it off.

My nutrition plan, such as it was, was to drink Cytomax (I liked it - the cranberry grapefruit is tasty and sat well on my stomach) tons of water, have gu's that I brought and whatever I could scarf up at the rest stops. The first one offered bananas, accelerade (ICK!) cookies, and peanut butter sandwiches. I had a banana and cookie and threw a sandwich into the seatpack for later.)

The next section of trail, still flat, went all the way to the Wassaic train station, alongside the trains. For some reason at that point I thought I was the very last rider - it seemed most people at the rest stop were turning around, and I'd started late so most of the 30 milers and up had already passed. I got lost for a moment as I entered the village of Wassaic (after a brief but hair-raising moment along Route 22, the very large, very fast main road) but it's such a sweet little town, with adorable ramshackle country houses, meandering gardens, (I had my camera but almost never took it out, except for the rest stops) and winding roads, that I stopped worrying about anything. My legs felt strong, I wasn't getting too tired, and my arms and shoulders were holding up OK.

The road curved back north through the Oblong valley - there is no prettier landscape anywhere, I dare say. Rolling hills, ponds and streams, fields of corn and wildflowers - Every hundred feet was another perfect postcard view. I realized there were a lot of other bikers around after all - I was catching up to some, and the 50 milers were rejoining the group after an extra loop down to Kent. Most of the people who passed me were on sleek and skinny road bikes (I've been really wishing to get one to replace or add to my heavy clunky old Trek 830, which probably weighs 35 pounds).

I realized that with sufficient rest stops for refueling and stretching, I could keep going for the 3 or more hours it was going to take me. The longest I'd worked out since I started on this journey was the 2:10 of the Pawling tri - if I'm ever going to move up to the next level I'm going to have to know what it feels like to go for 4 hours.

At the second rest stop (at Troutbeck) I had more accelerade (yuck), a snickers energy bar (not bad) and some orange pieces. I'd gone through about 3 16-oz water bottles, and all my Cytomax, so took a port-a-potty break too. I knew the last bit would be the hardest as I was close to home and I knew these roads best. Up 343 to Sharon Valley, onto 361 and back to Millerton up that long, long, long hill. It seemed much longer when I'd already gone 25 miles, but there was never a point when my cardiovascular endurance failed me. I took happy note when I passed mile 26 - the Olympic bike distance! I took another break under a tree to stretch and massage my shoulders and wrists, and got myself to the finish line. My cateye says I averaged 10.8 mph - I'm pleased enough.

Back at the field, where a little festival was going on, I put my name down for a real massage, and two hours later finally got it - the first since I've started training and so very welcome. While I waited, I opened up my face painting booth - I'd done it last year (when I hadn't ridden) and painted many dozens of small children. But I didn't have many customers this time - a good thing too since it was hard to even lift my arm!

Today I'm tired and moderately achy - but my legs are fine (other than that nasty bruise - which I'm quite proud of - it feels like a badge of honor and an obstacle I'd been waiting to overcome.) I think the moral is: I do need a new bike if I'm going to ride longer distances, one that fits me a bit better. Time to start trolling eBay and the classifieds! Recommendations, anyone, for a good road bike?

Friday, July 27, 2007

What it's really all about!

Today I had a crappy, crappy day. I felt sick, still, and didn't get myself to work til after lunch. (I'm the boss, so I get to do that sometimes.) Once there, I got progressively more freaked out by various pressures weighing on me, til I was in a near-panic by the end of the day. Trying to keep calm, I went to get my kids, but my bad mood rubbed off on everyone so my husband was in a giant grouch too. As dinner cooked, I lay down on the couch, wishing I could go straight to sleep. Instead, I got up and went running. The second I kicked into a trot, I knew I'd feel better. I felt strong (despite my very difficult bike ride 2 days ago and the almost-bronchitis) and was able to keep a decent pace. I didn't go terribly far - less than 3 miles overall, but it's quite hilly. The point is, I feel better now. Much better. Calmer, more optimistic, less depressed. Ready to go back to work tomorrow and solve my problems. All thanks to a 40 minute run. Pretty cool!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It's been a while...

Since I've posted, but I haven't stopped working towards my goals, of increased fitness, weight loss and eventually another triathlon. Time seems oddly less available in the summer, especially on weekends lately. I've been running a farmer's market on Saturdays, which takes away my morning workout time, and it's utterly exhausting. Many other big events at work - an arts festival, our Harry Potter party (see my other blog for details on all!) and the kids' weird schedule (and a nasty cold I'm fighting) have all made it harder to squeeze in the time. But when I run, I'm trying to run faster to make up for it being shorter, and when I swim I'm really focusing on my TI technique. Today I took a long hard bike ride (long and hard for me, that is) t0 guage my readiness for the Harlem Valley Rail Ride on Sunday. I had planned to do the 30 mile trip (you can do 22, 30, 50, 75 or 100) but tonight's ride, at 12 miles, whipped my butt so I think I might do the 22 instead - don't know how I could manage 30 in only 5 days! Here's the profile of what I did today. To those of you who are serious bikers, does this look hard to you? The hills seem steep to me, but I don't have anything to compare it to! BIKE LOOP
I don't know how all you other bloggers manage to post these (I guess you download from your Garmins?) I have to map it at the USATF website, then do a complicated bit of copying, pasting, cropping, cutting, pasting, uploading, etc. to get it in my blog!

All in all I feel I've come out of a slump - I'd gained some weight back but have lost it and a bit more, arriving at my lowest weight in quite a few years. Overall progress is slow - it's been almost 30 pounds since last May, but only 5 since January. I really need to lose another 10 (for health) to 20 (for vanity) to maybe even 30 (for serious athletic performance!) but I'm genuinely proud of how far I've come, since I'd basically given up on myself! I'm still not sure yet about my next triathlon - it's hard to find the time for the intensive training and there is that swim issue... but I know I'll do another some day, maybe August 11, maybe sometime after!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Total Immerson ROCKS!

So cool! I'd been wanting to make it to the TI studio in New Paltz for months now - it's only an hour and a quarter from my house, but I had to justify the time and money to myself. Then a week or two ago I realized I had a very good reason to go there for work -- a 15 minute errand that was actually very important, and that took me to less than five minutes from the TI studio. In a perfectly karmic setup, I called for a lesson and the only time they had available was 4:30 pm (end of workday) on the only day this week that I could actually go. They booked me with this fine fellow - a pro triathlete (he's headed out to the Vineland 70.3 in 2 weeks, and finished 5th overall at Eagleman) who also happens to be, well, easy on the eyes and a very good teacher! It's one thing to read the book, but I can tell you, actually doing it is SO different. I never quite got the hang of the "underswitch" and "zipper switch" from reading a description, but when you're in the endless pool, watching videos of yourself doing it wrong and an expert doing it right, slowed waaaaay down, you GET IT. Once I got the head and arm position right, my hips and legs floated right up to the surface. There is a mirror on the floor of the pool too, so you can watch yourself and make corrections immediately - it's fascinating. Even watching myself in a bathing suit wasn't too painful since I could focus on something other than the size of my thighs. (And the camera was at my head, so my better parts were in view and my nether parts mostly unseen.)

I finally understand why you MUST do those tedious seeming drills again and again and again - you have to get your muscle memory engaged in little pieces before you put it all together. So - it's back to the pool for me tomorrow - I'm going to really WORK THIS for a few weeks before I decide if I'm ready for another triathlon on August 11. Greg recommended I focus on pool drills now, but that the only way to get used to open water is spend a lot of time in it. So - maybe that will be my focus this year - the Harlem Valley Rail Ride in 2 weeks, the 10K run in Rhinebeck on Labor Day, and another triathlon at some time to be named later when I see how the swim develops.

One immediate benefit, by the way: I found I could breathe every other stroke instead of every, without running out of breath, after only the 2 hour lesson.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Back in the Game

Sometimes all that throat-clearing before I finally get out the door can really cause problems. If I'd gone out at dawn, when my sister-in-law did, or at 8:30 when I got up after another night of crummy sleep, or even at 10:30 after she and her carload of kids (including one of mine) had gone, I'd have enjoyed cool weather for a nice run. But by the time I got myself out the door it was past noon, and the sun was beating down - at least 85 degrees (it felt hotter on the pavement.) I let myself off easy - a 2.3 miler, figuring it was my first time in this heat in a while. (Not since the triathlon, in fact.) I put bandaids over the spot where I keep getting blisters, and my shoes and feet felt fine the whole way. After, I did about 20 minutes of weights and abs using my new stretchy bands, the big ball, and my dumbbells, which have all been gathering dust for months.

Considering I was so tired yesterday I was convinced I had some dread disease, I'm pleased. This has been an easy few weeks, workout wise, but it's time to step it up with another tri a month away.

So, to borrow a phrase, the plan is this:
Monday swim a.m.
Tuesday: spin a.m. TI swim lesson pm
Wednesday: run a.m.
Thursday: personal training session to get some new workouts from Helen that I can do at home to strengthen arms, core, etc and bump up my metabolism a bit. I'm taking the day off, so might add biking and open-water swimming (to practice my new skills) if Tina wants to go the very day after her latest triathlon.
Friday: Either swim or run, depending on what I did the previous day.
Saturday - nothing - I'll be working from 8:30am to 9:30 pm. If you're in town, come to the Greenscape Market and the Family Arts Festival!
Sunday... if I live that long! -- some kind of longer workout - swim or run plus open-water swim. (I've decided that, once I've done that TI workshop all my open-water problems will be over!)

Stay tuned - I'm back in the game!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Running: cautious optimism. Swimming: so excited!

First the swimming - I have an appointment at the Total Immersion swim studio in New Paltz next Thursday. I'm going to take a 2-hour lesson and learn from the source what I'm doing wrong and what to work on! I couldn't be happier. All my local friends give me advice that is 100% contrary to the TI approach (i.e. use a kickboard, kick harder, etc.) and I think I want to go the other way (i.e. swim easier, not harder!)

Now to the running. My last run, you may recall, was AWFUL - trying out new shoes I got about 6 blisters and ended up walking in my socks the last half-mile. I also was about to go to the doctor to figure out what was wrong with the joint under my big toe, which had been aching/hurting for a few weeks. But I stopped running for about 10 days while the blisters healed, and went on high-ish regular doses of ibuprofin. The toe hasn't hurt in a few days now, so I decided to do a short slow run today - it was probably not much more than 2 miles, which I did in about 28 minutes. No pain, no blisters!!! I'd been feeling awful, physically - gained about 5 pounds back (from an injudicious purchase of tortilla chips and general out-of-control binging on everything) but after this, I'm feeling like maybe, just maybe I can get back on track. And with my swim lesson, maybe that August 11 triathlon isn't out of reach! There are still a few others I'm considering too - I just need to be sure I can do the swim before I sign up.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Oh, the carnage, the bloodshed!

I often notice wildlife as I'm cycling (eg the skunk the other day) but for some reason last night I particularly noticed the wilddeath - i.e. roadkill. I passed a dead woodchuck (he deserved it, probably), a baby raccoon, countless squirrels and chipmunks, and then, horrors, a tiny bird flew out from the grass at the side of the road and was crushed under MY wheel! My husband is a birder, so I took a moment to note its characteristics (grey head, yellowish body, etc) thinking he could quickly ID it for me. He gave me a tentative label of warbling vireo, but wasn't quite sure and I didn't want to go back and take another look!

It was a nice ride, though - 10 very hilly miles, after a day of a huge allergy attack (I cleaned under and behind my bed, kicking up a LOT of dust!) I felt pretty strong, which is good since lately I've been feeling just the opposite. I haven't run in a while - I'm inhaling NSAID's trying to self-treat my foot. (But will go to the doctor too, as soon as she'll see me.) And I'm swimming a lot more. Today I tried to do that kicking thing (i.e. move my legs while I swim) and it is HARD to sustain. I also don't think I was actually moving much faster, but it's hard to tell. (My usual glacial pace is 6 lengths, or 150 yards, in 5 minutes.) I'll do spinning class tomorrow (despite the fact that my shoe, only 7 months old, is almost completely separated from its sole (just as Lord Voldemort is separated from his soul, but now that's a completely different blog - I can't wait til July 20, can you?!) It's always something as the great Roseanne Rosanadanna used to say.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A swim lesson

Pat, the lifeguard at the Hotchkiss pool, has a reputation for being a good swim instructor. I asked her today for some comments on my stroke, and after watching me for a few laps, said my arm position, head position, body position are all fine, but that I barely kick my legs at all. She said if I kick more vigorously (like kicking off a shoe) my legs would rise to the surface and I"d move much faster. (I'd have to - my usual pace of 6 lengths in 5 minutes - equivalent to 1 mile an hour) would get me disqualified from one of the triathlons I'm considering!) I tried it and yes, I moved, but tired very quickly - I'm going to have a lot of work to do to get used to this! But I'm glad - I needed to know what I was doing wrong! Now I have something to focus on when I swim, which I hope will help me overcome my anxiety.
I also spent a half-hour or so trying to research what might be wrong with my foot - I have now added the words "sesamoid" and "hallux" to my vocabulary. It seems I had best visit a podiatrist or orthopedist sooner rather than later, before it gets worse and needs more intensive or invasive treatment. There is a sports medicine / orthopedist in town, but he doesn't take my insurance.

Where have I been?

Thank you for asking. Just in a bit of a funk since my blisters. Summer is actually a weird time for me -I'm not in a groove of finding good workout times yet. My kids get up and out much later, so it's harder to work out in the mornings before work (yes I know I COULD get up EARLY and work out before they get up - that would be better for dealing with the heat, too) and I have lots of evening commitments too, so it's hard to go after my husband gets home (and I get to bed late making it even harder to go in the morning.)

I've been feeling very sluggish - falling into bad old eating habits, weaseling out of planned workouts, gaining few pounds. I did swim on Wednesday (20 minutes) and will go again today (try for 30 at least - I figure that's how long a half-mile will take me.) I've not gone back out into a lake - still too anxious. I haven't been biking or spinning for over week, and haven't run since the blister incident. A friend of mine is doing a workout regiment called P90X - it's an intense, 90 day cross training program. She's about halfway in and looks amazing already. I don't think I could commit to something like that, just now, but I do want to add some weight training to my plan - I've been avoiding it for months because of a nagging case of tendonitis in my left elbow. (Oh, and have I mentioned the weird and worsening pain in my right big toe joint? I think I should see a doctor and/or stop running for a while.)

Maybe I should lay off the wine, beer and tortilla chips too, though. Summer is supposed to be when it's easy to lose weight - you live on peaches and tomatoes and the weight just falls off! My favorite new snack, clif bars, seem to be having the opposite effect - dense calories (without much of an energy burst on these hot humid days!) - I guess they're supposed to be a meal replacement, not dessert!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's the skunk's fault

So I'm plodding along, nearly at mile 3 out of 5, feeling basically miserable, when I get an unexpected adrenaline boost - instead of the usual bunny, squirrel, deer, chipmunk or bird ,I get charged by a skunk! I don't think it saw me at first - it was just trotting across the road in my direction (whoever invented Pepe Le Pew got their little bouncy trot just right!) and when we saw each other we both kinda freaked - I muttered " get the $(%#@ away from me" and put on some speed; he arched his back and pointed his tail, but thankfully didn't shoot! That was the last bit of energy I had on this run - it wasn't long before I realized I had blisters forming on both feet. This was my second time out with new shoes - yes, even though I just bought new ones six weeks ago, I LOST one! How do you lose a shoe? I can't say, but I've looked in all the places I can imagine it having fallen out of the car, and all around the house. Back when I was still thinking of doing the Lake Waramaug triathlon (I didn't go, obviously or I'd have written about it by now) I needed shoes, fast, and had an hour to kill on Thursday near the Poughkeepsie Galleria mall. So I ducked into a random sporting goods store and grabbed a pair of Asics that seemed to have motion control properties. They fit similarly to the Sauconies - a bit too loose, so I got some inserts figuring I'd tinker with the combination of original soles and inserts til I got it right. My first time out, Friday night, was OK - a bit under 3 miles, and ended up with one foot with new insole plus half the original; the other foot had just the new one, and felt OK. But today it never felt right - aches, pains, and then blisters. I really want someone who KNOWS to look at my feet, hear my tale of woe (from the Nikes that were too small but I liked them, to the Sauconies to these) and tell me what to do. I think I could run better than I'm running now if I had the right shoes! It's just not possible (is it?) that with all the working out I'm doing, I'm getting slower and having less stamina so it has to be the shoes' fault, doesn't it?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Moment of Truth

It's not too late for me to enter the Lake Waramaug tri - there's race day sign ups. So I have to decide if I can do the half-mile swim after what has come to feel like the debacle of the Pawling tri. I've been swimming a few times since then, and every time, whether it be pond or pool, I've felt the same panicky feelings. So - do I just get back on the horse and RIDE, or do I wait til I've gotten more practice, more swim strength and technique, more ... something, that will let me swim with confidence? Maybe I should swim in the wetsuit for that added bit of flotation? (It's a shorty, so it's not that much.) Or will the tightness around my neck add to the freaky feeling? I haven't trained heavily for the last 2 weeks - I swam for 20 mins this morning and did a 1 hour bike just now... before that, I swam over the weekend, but haven't run in maybe a week. Partly to let my strangely sore big toe joint rest. And tonight I was going to go but I seem to have lost a shoe - now that could really put a crimp in my plans! Lucky I'm going to a mall tomorrow - I can get a backup pair. So - dilemma! I better decide soon - I need at least a little time to get organized! Advice anyone? Oh, I have a friend who's doing it, she says because of my inspiration - nice! She's a killer good swimmer - crosses the lake and back every day in summer. She can do the bike, but had a double-hip replacement last year so will just walk the run. It amazes me that someone can just up and do one, when it took me a whole year to train! (But then, she's a dancer and physical trainer - she lives in her body, so to speak, where I live in my brain, most of the time!)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Ruth has awarded me a Thinking Blogger Award (my first meme!)- a real compliment, but one that comes with a responsibility to tag five other blogs that make me think!
There are so many, choosing just 5 will be a challenge.
Meanwhile I proudly display this (click on it to get to the origin of the award):
Meanwhile... I bought a book at Lbpteba's recommendaiton, called Marathons for Mortals. I'm not considering a marathon but have been toying with the idea of a half... the one thing I've gotten from it so far is how important days of rest are to prevent injury, especially at my advanced age! (They say 30 is when your body starts going downhill!) I had two very tough bike rides in a row - Monday night and Tuesday morning - so I was grateful to take today off. I need to swim, I need to decide If I'm doing the Lake Waramaug Tri next Friday (leaning towards no -the half-mile swim is just too daunting right now) and if not, what my next one will be! I really want to take advantage of the chance to do a personal triathlon camp with the coach I found -anyone have a bright idea for how to scare up $500?

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I've read on other blogs and training sites about the value of doing a "run-walk"at planned and consistent intervals. I wanted to try a 6 mile run (my longest previously had been 5 miles, and the last time I did it I felt horrible and could barely limp home!) so I decided to do it in 4-minute run, 1-minute walk intervals for the entire time. Even though my ego wants to run as far as I can til I run out of gas, which is what I usually do, I'd read that the intervals help prolong your energy and strength, and the regular periods of recovery have all kinds of other benefits.

I immediately discovered this to be true - by resting even when I didn't really need to, I was able to focus on form during the run periods, keeping up my speed, and enjoying myself (imagine that!!) always knowing I'd be able to walk soon. I never descended into a shambling shuffle, I never got discouraged or overtired, even on steep hills, and interestingly, I covered the first five miles in my best time ever, 60 minutes, even with all the walk breaks. (A few times I let myself run as much as 5 minutes, when I was cruising downhill, but mostly stuck with 4.) The last mile was a steep uphill (see profile below) so I shortened the run part to 3 minutes, then 1, and stuck with 1/1 for a few rounds til I got to the top, then immediately went back to 4 for the last bit (mile 5.5 and beyond), feeling just fine. This was the best I'd felt, physically and mentally, in a workout in weeks! (Also contributing: cool cloudy weather, a good night's sleep, and a great breakfast.)

I did discover some other interesting facts: Gilbert and Sullivan makes good running music. I had the practice tape for the alto part of Iolanthe (Labor Day Weekend! Don't miss it!) on my mp3 player, and the bouncy rhythms are just perfect! After that was over and I got back to the regular playlist, even slow songs like "Bird Alone" by Abbey Lincoln worked well because I could always find an internal rhythm to run to. But I was pleased that some of my favorite fast songs by Lyle Lovett and the Indigo Girls came on at the end when I really appreciated the boost. I want to do my first 10k race on September 4 (if I am still standing after 3 performances of Iolanthe!) and now I know I can do it - I just have to work on speed.

So - question to all with more experience at the interval thing. Should I stick with 4/1 at this distance for a while, focusing on increasing speed during the run portion, or try to stretch to 5/1, then 6/1, etc, with each subsequent outing?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A laugh

Courtesy of Lbtepa, one of the amazing human beings who, without ever having met me, have propelled me forward to leap tall buildings at a single bound and become a triathlete. This week I've done one swim, one bike, one run, so far. (Yesterday I collapsed with exhaustion and did nothing.) The swim was interesting, sort of: I was in the pool, but tried not to touch the wall, just swim back and forth without touching. I realized how much I've been depending on little breaks every 25 yards! So now my practice will be to focus on sustaining my stroke and breathing for longer periods. It looks like crummy weather - not sure I'll get out into the pond today, but I've also been mapping my routes on this cool site and want to try some longer rides in preparation for the Harlem Valley Rail Ride and also work my up to a ten-k run, using the run-walk (4/1) strategy. So I do have goals!!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What's next?

I need some sports psychology. I think I'm viewing myself as slow, incapable, creaky. I know that's nuts after what I did but when I got out running today I couldn't seem to get my "kick it" motivation going. I felt sick, I felt tired, I felt slow, I felt like I had to walk a lot -- in short, I felt like I'd gone back in time 6 months or more. I don't feel fit or strong. I don't feel the progress I've made. Why and how can I overcome it? Tomorrow I'll be back in the pool for the first swim since my tri - perhaps focusing on some new goals will help! (i.el improving my stroke so that doesn't happen again!) And why am I eating like I expect to work out for 2 hours every day???

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Recovery and race report

I just read GeekGirl's blog - (click on "Athena Diaries" in my links section) - she just did a half-ironman!!! on Saturday and her workout plan for this week is intense - no rest, just moving forward! Whereas I took two days almost completely off, and only went to a 45-minute spinning today. I'll go running tomorrow, and TGTina has invited me to do some open water swimming with her to overcome my fears - maybe Friday. I feel a bit adrift at the moment - I was so unhappy about the swim that I'm not sure I want to do another tri (except that I really really do - I want to go faster and do better!) So I must overcome.
This is me, prerace!

So, here is the full race report. The day before was the worst possible pre-first-race day. I took off from work, in theory, to rest and prepare. But I'd discovered only a few days earlier that my kids were having a school picnic, parents invited, at noon, with dismissal right after, so my morning free time was cut short, and then cut shorter by the fact that I had some real deadlines and ended up working at home most of the morning. The afternoon was spent chauffering them and a vanload of their friends back and forth to birthday parties and ballet rehearsals with several unplanned trips back home to get things we'd forgotten. The party itself was particularly irritating for reasons I won't go into here - suffice to say that one of my daughters was told there weren't enough cupcakes, so she couldn't have one, which she accepted philosophically, but I found out that the DOG ate three! But what was worst: I developed one of my classic huge allergy attacks and was sneezing, nose-blowing and eye-rubbing all afternoon. Usually, these wipe me out for days - the stress on my system, plus the effects of the large doses of antihistimines necessary to knock out the attack, rob me of any energy.IMG_0627

Miraculously, this did not happen this time. I took my usual battery of meds, with the exception of benadryl - took only a half, and much earlier in the evening than normal, rather than waiting for bed time. So it seemed to have completely cleared my system by morning, and I had no other ill effects - I felt well rested and happy when I got up at 6:20 am. I'd finally managed to pack and organize my gear the night before, so all I had to do was eat (my usual: eggs and toast, plus coffee) and go. I dressed in my workout gear and brought the all-in-one tri suit - I figured I'd put it on after a bathroom break, rather than struggling with getting it on and off too many times. (As it turned out, it wasn't that difficult to pull down and up - much easier than changing completely in the port-a-potty. Think about it - there's no place you'd want to put anything down while changing!)

The scene at 7:30am was a bit disorganized, I thought - everyone was super nice, but people would say things, like, "your safety pins are in the bag." What bag? "Oh, you didn't get one of these?" No, where else would I have gotten it except from you? Ditto, "oh, nobody wrote your number on your shoulder yet?" No, at what point was supposed to have been told where and when this was supposed to happen? But it didn't really bother me too much - I found everything I needed quickly enough and made my way into the transition area. (After getting some more wrong information: I asked one volunteer if it mattered where I parked my bike,IMG_0624 since some books say to choose a spot on the end of a rack, and she said, park anywhere you like. IN fact the racks were assigned according to race number. Again, no big deal!) It took me a long time to decide how to set up my gear (I hadn't practiced transitions - bad, I know! Next time I'll at least remember to untie my running shoe laces in advance! And I will definitely bring a pan of water, about which, more later!)
I waded into the water and found it quite reasonably un-cold. I made small talk with my rack neighbors and friendly people I met in the port-a-potty line. I took nervous bites of the many clif bars I'd brought, and packed some gus in the cool little pockets on my suit. I'd brought four bottles of water, so I mixed some energy drink powder in one and put it on one of my bike's bottle racks, and put plain water in the other.
Around then (maybe 40 minutes before start time) TGTina found me and, after a big welcoming hug, showed me a few more tricks. We went down to the water and she showed me how to find my way back to the bike rack - to plan the route in advance to save time. She encouraged me to swim without my wetsuit - she's convinced that it saves time not to have to peel it off at the end of the swim. The water temp was fine, but I was a bit worried about losing that extra flotation (or perception thereof.) Nonetheless, I went wetsuit-less.

I was in the second wave, (benefit of early registration, as that determines the order) so headed down to the beach about 10 before 9. I could feel it was already starting to get quite warm out. My fellow triathloners all wished each other luck, and soon enough, we were off. I felt comfortable at first - I wasn't cold, and I quickly got past the icky seaweed part into the dark water. The lake was flat as could be, so sighting wasn't a problem. I stroked along, noticing that people were passing me pretty quick, but didn't worry about it for a minute or two. Then I noticed a woman (I was pretty sure it was the one who'd parked right next to me on my rack) struggling and looking back towards shore as if she wanted to quit. I shouted at her, don't stop, you can do it! and she continued on. But for some reason this shook me, and I started to realize how far from any solid ground (or pool wall) I was - that turnaround buoy was still far away. I tried to shake it off and keep going, but started to hyperventilate and feel very anxious. I saw a boat not too far away, so started to move toward it. The lifeguard aboard asked me if I needed help, and I said I didn't think so, but that I was feeling freaked out. They told me I could hang on to the boat without getting disqualified, which I gratefully did. The woman swimming with me soon came alongside and did the same. We ended up going boat to boat, clinging to each for a minute or two (while wave after wave passed us, of course). My anxiety went up and down - at times I felt quite despairing and like I'd just have to get out (and get disqualified) but then I'd get a grip and carry on. The last bit felt better - as I was heading into shore I just felt determined to keep going. I think the key will be improving my stroke and in-the-water endurance - if I feel like I'm going faster, and thus getting somewhere sooner, I think I'll keep calmer.
Finally, out of the water wobbling back to transition. This was where I fell in love with my tri-suit - how great to not have to think about it at all! I'd thought about going sockless, but decided at the last minute to try to wipe off my feet and put socks on. Some sand stayed on my feet, which would turn out to be a BIG problem later on. I knew I was already among the last to leave the water, but I tried not to think about that. The breeze felt great, the sun wasn't too hot, and I was delighted to be out on the bike. The ride is SO pretty, and I knew I could do the distance, even after that exhausting swim (emotionally and physically - all that extra treading water took a lot more out of me than I'd planned!) I chugged along, never stopping to walk, and even though all those amazing-looking athletes (and a lot of ordinary chubby folk) whizzed by me, I was happy enough. I tried to remember to sip both water and energy drink (it makes me feel a bit queasy and I don't like the taste, but I was concerned about electrolytes so my heart wouldn't suddenly go haywire. If I ever read about someone having a medical problem, I psych myself into thinking I have it. One summer, a couple of football players died of heat stroke after heavy workouts in hot weather. That same week, I took a hike with some kids up a nearby mountain and climbed a fire tower. It was really hot, and I was really out of shape, and I started to feel certain I was overheating dangerously. I drank lots of cold water, dunked in someone's sink, put ice on my wrists, but even so, after two hours I had a friend drive me to the emergency room as I was convinced I was going to die. My temparature was indeed 103, so they gave me a cold IV (a very weird sensation!) and kept me for an hour or two. To this day I don't know if I caused myself to overheat that way, by just worrying so much about it!)

Anyway, as I finished the bike (having passed only one person, who stopped to rest on a hill!) I saw my husband drive into the parking lot - he'd spent the first part of the morning dropping the kids off at various friends' houses so they could get to their ballet dress rehearsals.) He didn't see me, but I figured we'd spot each other before the run. Again, transition was fairly smooth, except for the shoelaces - that definitely added a minute or so to my time. I put my hat on, strapped on my water bottle (I'd been undecided about whether this would be too bothersome, but again was worried about hydration as it was really hot by now!) As soon as I got out of transition I realized I was seriously wobbly and weak - but tried to remind myself that this feeling would pass, as it had during my brick workouts. I saw people crossing the finish line as I passed it in the other direction - it was somewhere around 1:23 on the clock, so those folks were well behind the leaders, but still doing some pretty impressive times.

My husband was walking along the road, so he jogged alongside me for a few moments and gave me great encouragement, and then I was away. I wonder now if I didn't have enough gels and energy drinks as I just never hit my stride, never found any reserves of energy. It was bloody hot, the hills felt like mountains, and again, I was passed by just about every remaining athlete. I poured water over my head at every water station (and drank plenty too) but again, my brain just beat my body - I started really getting down on myself, thinking of myself as slow, out-of-shape, hopeless. I tried to pep-talk myself, reminding myself that I'd trained for a year, that I could kick it if I wanted to. But the negative voices were louder, and I just went slower and slower as I felt the heat more and more. I was finally walking even on the downhills. With a quarter mile to go, the path leaves the road, heads up a grassy hill, back into the park. As I got nearer, I saw my husband, and then TGTina, who was waiting for me. She came and ran alongside, and I told her I thought I was going to cry, or lie down right then, or both. For some reason, she told me I couldn't do that - I had to just keep shuffling my feet til I crossed the finish line. Obediently, I did so, though I knew she couldn't possible realize that I was about to die of heat exhaustion. When I saw the finish line, my body miraculously found a way to cross it at a jog, I think. The clock said 2:10 (and something) as I crossed. Roughly the time of the most elite marathoners. Significance? Only that now I know what it feels like to work my hardest for that amount of time , I guess!

As the volunteer took my chip off, I suddenly felt - GREAT! Euphoric, delighted, not hot or sick at all! I found some mystery drink they were giving out, grabbed a banana, and posed for the photo you see below. I walked around babbling to my husband and anyone else who would listen for a while, soaked my legs in the pond to cool off and chill my muscles, chowed on the giant 10-foot-long sandwiches and yummy pesto pasta, and found all the people I'd met previously to say hi, how'd you do. It took me longest to find the woman I'd "swum" with - she was one of only two people to finish after me, and she seemed quite glum about it. But she's young (29, according to the results) so I'm sure she'll be able to do better in the future! As, I hope, will I.