Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Here we go!

It's been 13 months since I decided that competing in a triathlon was just the challenge I needed to whip myself out of the 40-something doldrums and back into some semblance of shape. Here is the story of how and why I got started, and in the post below this one is information about the very important cause I'm raising funds for - please consider pledging to support me (or if not me, then the senior citizens who depend on NECC's Care Car)! I'm not sure how I feel about my picture appearing in the Lakeville Journal, when there are so many more "real"athletes out there doing their thing without any attention at all, but if it helps raise money for this cause - I'm happy!

An incomplete summary of my training, by the numbers:

Two and three - pairs of running shoes and sets of insoles, respectively
5 (at least) - strained body parts (achilles, hamstring, knee, neck, shoulder...)
2000 (or so) - lengths I've swum in the Hotchkiss pool
50 (more or less) - spinning classes in which Tina and Janet whipped my butt
45 - packets of Chocolate Outrage Gu, strangely flavored Clif Bars, and servings of mysterious electrolyte drinks I've consumed, not to mention dozens, if not hundreds, of bananas
Innumerable - numbers of warm and encouraging comments from friends and acquaintances, not one of whom looked at me and said, "what, YOU, do a triathlon? You've got to be kidding!"
Uncountable - hours spent browsing expensive triathlon gear online
Don't ask: dollars spent on expensive triathlon gear!
30 - pounds lost! (and 20 to go?)
3 - sizes of clothing dropped
At least a dozen: the number of inspiring triathletes at all levels I've gotten to know, mostly through blogworld, who have inspired and encouraged me. I am in ever-increasing awe of the "real" athletes who do this, without making a fuss or asking for attention or praise or money, but who just get up, get out the door, do their three or five or 12 miles, and get on with their healthy lives!

With less than two days to go, I could not be happier or more excited about this entire experience. The weight loss is great, of course! But there are other changes, too - I think I'm just feeling happier, calmer, steadier, more confident. Athletic endeavors do not come easy to me - which makes me all the more proud that I've gotten up and out, five or six days a week, for the last year. There is so much more ahead of me, too - not just races, but the natural beauty of this region is waiting for me and my family to discover it through bike rides, hikes and other outdoor adventures that I could never have imagined taking on a year ago!

Meanwhile, Pawling Triathlon, here I come!

Time to Pledge!

I hope to do many, many more triathlons after this one, but I don't expect to fundraise for each one - from now on, it will be just for me -- for the fun, the challenge, the improved fitness and wellbeing. But I really want to make this fundraiser a success - the senior citizens of our community rely on the Care Car to get them to the doctor and other essential medical appointments! There are only three days left - if you can pledge anything - $10 is great! now is the time! You can click on the Chipin Widget or follow the other link direclty to PayPal - or feel free to just send a check to: NECC, PO Box 35, Millerton, NY 12546. More info about NECC and the Care Car here.

I went for my final run today. I think I've gotten the shoe thing under control - the half-insole in the front of the right foot took up all the annoying extra room. It took me at least 20 minutes to feel comfortable running, though - at various times my right knee hurt, my left calf hurt, both hamstrings hurt, I had no breath, my water bottle was bouncing too much - the usual whiny assortments of complaints. I was trying to focus only on form: cadence and the leaning forward taught in Chi Running. And funny thing: after the first mile or so, I started to feel better and got into a rhythm. (It helped that it was mostly downhill or level from that point on!) It reminded me of an article I once read about the great ballet dancer Edward Villella, who was still dancing into his fifties. When he'd wake up in the morning, he could barely walk - he'd hobble into the dance studio, creaky and achy. But after a long, slow class - at least an hour and a half - he'd be his old, brilliant self again, able to leap and turn with the same lightness and grace as ever. I guess I just need to give myself plenty of warmup time! (It helps that the run is last, and the two other events will serve that function.)

Tomorrow: last bike ride, Thursday, last swim, Friday, last rest!

Finally, a question for my visitors who consider yourselves "athena" athletes: what, EXACTLY, do you wear during triathlons?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Open Water

The last milestone I'd yet to accomplish before the triathlon was an open water swim. I could have gone Saturday, or yesterday, but, not to put too fine a point on it, I chickened out. I hadn't swum past the end of the dock at our town beach in all the time I've lived here, and hadn't ventured beyond a marked swim area since I was 12 years old. (Back then I was a confident swimmer.)

But today, I pulled on my SuperWoman suit (short-pants version!) and waded in to the lovely Mudge Pond. I must have looked silly with my goggles and swim cap, next to all the toddlers and tykes splashing around! But I ignored this - no self-consciousness, remember? and carried on. The water was chilly but once I'd gotten acclimated, quite refreshing - I could have probably done fine without the suit and am still thinking of skipping it next week. It was also choppy, and I kept getting the feeling of tentacles brushing against me - just the seaweed that grows in the pond, but still... eery. Also eery: that sense when you go from a warm spot to a cool spot.

I did a few breathless laps around the floating dock, while my family sat at the end of the regular one and cheered me on. I only stayed int he water 10 minutes or so, but had another go an hour later - this time the breeze had settled so the water was calmer, and I ventured a little farther out. Lots of people swim all the way across the lake and back (it's a tiny lake!) and I've no doubt that after a few more attempts I'll build the confidence to do it too. The swimming itself is no problem. I'd been wondering how long I could sustain my stroke without a wall to touch every 25 yards, but I didn't find that to be a problem - I paused when I needed to, but probably quite a bit less often than I would have in the pool.

What I didn't do was stroke efficiently - my legs were dragging, even in the wetsuit. My husband diplomatically said, "maybe it's taught differently now, but when I was a kid I was taught that my feet should break the surface when I swim."

If I understand the Terry Laughlin / Total Immersion technique correctly, this is indeed correct - that if your upper body and head are in proper alignment (head down, chest thrust forward) your feet will naturally rise. But I didn't do this consistently - it was just a wierd feeling to be thrusting down into the murky green deep (no black line to follow!) So, I have 2 or 3 workouts left to plan - I want at least one more of each under my belt, especially to test my latest and greatest shoe experiment, which I think I already described.

The weather forecast for Saturday has been posted: 75 degrees (not bad, but cooler would be nicer) and 40% chance of thunderstorms. Yikes! Evidenly it was 40 degrees and pouring last year - I'll take this over that!

Just to be clear...

I am not unhappy that I expect to come in last or nearly so - quite the contrary, I'm thrilled that I think I can finish, and in absolute awe of the true athletes that can do double, quadruple or more what I'm planning to do in FIVE DAYS!

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Based on today, I think there's a good chance that I'll come in very, very close to last in this race. I think I'll finish, but it is going to be difficult. I have such respect for athletes - more than ever, now that I've worked so hard for a full year to be ready for this event.

I went to Pawling today to familiarize myself with the course. I stopped off at a running shop nearby first, where the guy who waited on me was probably still in high school but seemed quite sure that he knew what he was talking about. The proprietor was helping another woman - someone who looked like a serious marathoner-type. I kept glancing his way as I explained my situation, hoping he'd kibbitz or offer some suggestions, but he kept his focus on his own customer - a vote of confidence in his staff person, I guess. The young man told me my shoes do fit me, and are the right sort for my pronating feet, but sold me some new orthotics with stiffer arch support. He recommended I break them in an hour or two a day (not running) for a week before running in them - which precludes using them in the race. I'm not convinced that's gonig to solve my problem, but I bought the orthotics, knowing I can return them if they don't work out.

Then it was off to Pawling, where I managed, eventually, to find Lakeside Park. The lake itself is long and narrow (someone told me it's an old quarry) and filled with algae, seaweed, lots of fish - ick. Nobody was swimming and there was a huge sign saying "Swimming without a lifeguard is strictly forbidden" - so I waded in to gauge the temperature (not too cold) and looked around trying to guess how they'd set it up for 540 people and all their bikes, gear, cars, friends, etc. Then I drove the course to see how hilly it was - in the car, it seemed pretty reasonable. There was another guy in a battered old silver van doing the same thing, and I figured once I got on my bike I'd see him again, but he disappeared. It was in the mid-80's and humid, and I wasn't sure I wanted to do the workout, but as usual I talked myself into it by saying, 'Just do a mile or two, then you can turn back if you want."

Without going too much into detail I can say this: the bike course is gorgeous, and really really hard. The hills were much steeper and there were more of them than I'd realized - I was gasping for air, pushing as hard as I could, and still had to stop quite a few times. It took me a full hour to go 12 miles, which would place me last or pretty close to it based on last year's results. It's hard to believe I'm that slow, but the clock doesn't lie! But gorgeous it is - the rolling hills and valleys, ponds and streams, ancient-looking classic New England farms, the animals (including a newborn foal with its mother) - the smells and sounds of spring - that's what I mean when I titled this post "blessings." I had no idea, when I set out to do this project, how much more I'd get from it besides improved fitness and weight loss. But I was thinking today as I rode: I grew up in a city (Detroit) longing for fresh air and open spaces. I always wished I lived in the country, near animals, somewhere I could go swimming in summer. Now I do - and I'm realizing how lucky I amt hat this dream has come true and that I'm here, and healthy enough, to enjoy it.

After the ride I was whipped - just absolutely dead in the legs. But I felt I had to do the run too, to find out if I could. I took a long time to transition, fiddling with my old shoe inserts, messing with water, gatorade, Gu's and bananas. Next week I'll have all this organized so I can just switch shoes and go. As expected my feet felt like lead - less expected was a terrible cramp in my side that held me back for the first 10 minutes or so - from the strange "energy potions" I'd been eating and drinking, perhaps. I walked up all the steep hills, but chugged around the 3-mile course in about 35 minutes. I'm not sure where the official start and finish of the run is, so can't verify my time exactly, but that would get me somewhere in the bottom tenth (but not last). My feet and knees actually felt OK in my shoes (old inserts, not new) but I have an idea for how I can tinker with the right one - I think I'll cut the original insert that came with the shoe in half, and just put the front half back inside. That should take up the extra room just a touch, and make it feel more secure.

Got back to the lake and stood waist deep in the mucky water for a while, hoping the fish wouldn't bite. I felt a little wierd on the drive home, but continued to gulp gatorade, though I've always hated it! I went to my local pond thinking I'd do a swim there but couldn't get up the energy - the water was much colder but I felt silly putting my wetsuit on for a swim at the beach, when all the little kids were splashing around in just their swimsuits. So I lounged around a while and then went home to find my family, who were peacefully enjoying a summery afternoon - Fred dead asleep upstairs, girls playing quietly downstairs (all the couch cushions on the floor, dolls, doll furniture, fabric swatches and other items set up in some extremly complicated arrangement - just a typical weekend afternoon for them.

So now, it's T-6. I'm thinking about how best to spend this last week - making sure all my stuff is organized, doing some moderate to light workouts but resting the last few days, eating well and most important for me, getting enough sleep. And - counting my blessings, for they are many and bountiful!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Once and for all...

... I'm going to sort out my shoe problems. (and none too soon - my knees and back ache today after yesterday's cruddy workout.) Turns out there is an excellent running shoe store in New Milford, 45 minutes from here, and very close to where I have a meeting tomorrow noon (which is also where the Tri is so I can check out the course.) I'm going to bring all my shoes, inserts, and complaints, and see if they can help. I'd hate to spend more money on more shoes, but if it will make a difference, I'll do it. (Fred, don't read this!)

I swam today, for all of about 12 minutes - was writing a memo this morning that went longer than I 'd thought, and then when I arrived at the gym with only about 20 minutes to go before the open swim ended, found I'd left my swimsuit in the car so had to trek all the way back to the parking lot. My goggles were leaky, my back was creaky, my shoulder was squeaky - you get the picture. All this must be nerves, right? The good news is, the pool is still open on Tuesday and Thursday next week, so I could get one or two more swims in.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Worst. Run. Ever.

I know it's cutesy and trendy to write a sentence with a period after each word. But it made me happy while I was plodding along to think about writing that headline. I'm beyond tired - small children waking up in the middle of the night, coming into ones' bed, poking and tossing and turning, along with work worries, wailing cats, strange cars honking their horns at 5am, and nightmares about Chrissy's death in the Sopranos (and oh, that horrible AJ's almost-suicide scene... yeek!) all combine to create some serious exhaustion. But I went running this evening anyway, with a minimum of psyching myself up or out or whatever. But from the first, I just never got my engine running. I had a water bottle in a pouch, and attached my little camera to it as well so I was heavily laden with things bouncing all around my butt. Plus I'm still not happy with my shoes - they just feel too loose around the widest part, and that feeling of insecurity seems to cause me to grip my toes, or tense them, or something. Anyway, I went something like 13 for the first mile - horrible. Stopped to walk midway through the second mile. Walked and jogged (and took some pictures) for the third mile. Walked most of the fourth mile up the hills. Everything hurt - knees, back, achilles. A gu didn't help (but it still tastes good.) Ran some of the fifth mile, but walked a lot too - all in all, I did 5 miles in an hour and a half. I won't even average that out - no point. My back hurt more than it has in months when I got home - 3 advil and a half-hour on a heating pad has eased it some.

The difference between me now and me a year ago is I won't let this discourage me - I'm trying to take the attitude that it still was a workout, my heart and lungs and legs still got something out of it so I'm better off than I would have been if I hadn't gone - it's all progress. But with 10o days to go, I don't know what to do about the shoes - there is a fancy running store about 45 minutes from here - I could possible go on Thursday morning and get some advice. I think a week might be enough to get used to more new shoes for a 3 mile race? Meanwhile I discovered a professional colleague I've known for years is also a volunteer at the Pawling Triathlon - it will be so much fun to see her in such a different context!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Anatomy of a bike ride

After a morning on my feet, volunteering at Trade Secrets - see my photo blog for details -- and an afternoon in the garden hauling compost and digging out stubborn weeds, I was in no mood to work out. I'd done a short but hard workout yesterday and my thighs hurt. But I have only a week left for hard workouts, then it's time for the famous taper I've heard so much about! (I imagine a tapir - that long-snouted pig-like thing, snuffling around my workout gear!) So - I spent about an hour talking myself into riding: "I should ride. I could ride. I could walk, or maybe I could just clean my room. A nap sounds good. How about if I just ride a little? OK, I'll get some riding clothes on and see how I feel. It's getting so late - I need to start dinner. But this is my last chance to ride for days. It's going to rain - don't want to ride in the rain. I was out all morning, it's not fair to Fred to go out again. But I really need to ride or I'll be a loser and won't be able to finish the triathlon. Don't talk negative like that to yourself! Just ride!" and so on, and on.

Finally I had all my gear on, found the odds and ends of riding shorts, matching socks (not fresh, but who's sniffing?) ate a few snacks and then a few more, futzed around with the bike computer, packed a little backpack (I can't figure out how the thing is supposed to attach to the bike so I just bungee it onto the rack) and headed out, promising I'd be back in 45 minutes. I couldn't decide which way to ride, but ended up on Rte 361 toward Millerton, the way I drive to work every day. Here's the monologue in my head for about the first mile. "I hate biking. Car, don't kill me. Slow down, slow down, come on, this is too fast I don't want to die, Oh I don't want to come back up this hill, this sucks, after the triathlon I'm giving up biking, I know my legs are going to hurt too much, I have no energy for this."

Funny thing - after a mile or two the voices in my head started to quiet down. By the time I passed my friend Gretchen's house, and waved at her as she was pulling her two boys in a wagon, I noticed I was handling the hills just fine, and it sure was pretty out. I crossed the CT-NY state line and thought I'd see how far I could get - I wanted to shoot for 6 miles out so I could do a 12-mile round trip, the tri-distance, which I'd never yet done. All the while, I was checking out possible sheltered places to pee just in case, since I'd downed a large iced coffee and a glass of water just before leaving. About 4.5 miles on, I found myself on a long, long, long uphill. I decided to keep going up til it ended, then turn around, since I knew I had some tough uphills at the very end. I was almost all the way to the village of Millerton when it finally dipped a bit, just shy of 6 miles. The long downhill going back was nice, but ended too soon.

I got a bug in my eye and pulled over, ate a gu, and realized I'd found the perfect pee spot, so ducked behind some bushes and took the opportunity. (These things are important - I'm a bit nervous about that aspect at the event since you're supposed to constantly hydrate! Everyone says to pee in your wetsuit. Eew, but who am I to argue?)

The threatened rain finally came, and I struggled up the last, insane uphill, stopping a few times to rest and get wetter. I got home only about 20 minutes after the time I promised, and like superwoman, I made dinner, read some books to the kids, and am taking only a brief break to write this (and upload photos for my other blog) before washing dishes, making lunches, putting older daughter to bed, and writing that movie review I owe! (Shrek 3 - it's OK but nothing to race out to the theater for!) And by the way, I feel great, happy, and I love the bike! Tomorrow: swim! (I think I'll try to swim 3 times this week since the pool closes Friday and I don't know if I'll get another chance!)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Two weeks to go!

I got interviewed for the local paper yesterday. I tried to say deep meaningful things about women's body image, setting goals and overcoming setbacks, and my gratitude for all the help and encouragement I've gotten. I'm still a bit nervous about the article - the attention is kind of unnerving. I hope I didn't sound too pompous or self-centered! However if it results in more donations for the Care Car, I'll be happy! Apropos of which, have I mentioned recently that if you can't or prefer not to donate online, you can send a check to: "NECC, PO Box 35, Millerton, NY 12546" and make it out to North East Community Center. Just include a note or put in the memo that it's for the Triathlon - we're a pretty small shop and we'll know what to do with it! As Ruth knows, you'll also get a very snazzy little thank you note for your taxes.

Now is the time I really wish I had a coach. I am anxious that I'm not ready, and feel a slight dip in motivation - I didn't work out yesterday, and today I went to Pilates because my back has been bothering me and I haven't been stretching much. Then I did a 30 minute spin and only about 7 minutes on the treadmill. I've been eating the wrong things, too - more bread, more junk, less salad. Tomorrow I'm going to try for a long bike and run - full distance in both - so maybe that will give me the confidence boost I need. The weather is crummy today and I have a birthday cake to decorate (with various Barbie-colored thingies and the big 5 candle!)

Speaking of coaching, I just learned that there is a women-only triathlon training camp in three weeks, right here in town, at the Interlaken Inn in Lakeville. (That's next door to my kids' school, less than 10 minutes from my house.) It looks AWESOME, and also pretty expensive - I've just written them to see if I can enroll but not actually stay over at the Inn to save a few bucks. It's an intense schedule - the first day you get your swim stroke analzyed and do speed running drills and "hill repeats" on the bike, the second day has a 50 mile bike ride (around here I can't IMAGINE biking that far because our hills are killers!) and the third day you do what they call a "mini triathlon" - though it's a full sprint distance! I'm not actually sure I"m capable of that much work - they say on their website that "beginners" are people who have completed fewer than 6 tris, but that you can come if you haven't done one, as long as you've been doing all three sports and are reasonably fit. Anyway, we'll see - the money may be the killer here.

OK off to the grocery store for ice cream and other birthday essentials! Here's my birthday girl, getting sung Happy Birthday by all the kids in school.
It's My Birthday

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fundraising total is inching up!

As of today, there's over $800 raised by the "chip-in" widget, and another $500 or so in checks offline. I'm going to need a lot more than that to buy a new (used) car, though! Many friends have told me they're planning to pledge, and I'll be sending out another email blast shortly before the event. Also, the local paper is planning a profile of my efforts - which hnestly I feel a little weird about. I have been bringing a lot of attention on myself lately between this and my photo blog - do I really need more? (Evidently I do, as I didn't say no to the reporter!)

I had a not-so-great workout today - first since Saturday. Swam 1/3 mile, and then went for a run. I never got past that stage of "my legs feel heavy, not sure i can make it!" I jogged down the hill from the Hotchkiss pool to their outdoor track, and tried to do a fast lap, but "fast" was 2:36 for a quarter mile - something like a 10:25 mile pace. I think my fast short laps were under 10 last time, but I just couldn't get going. (Stiff wind, hot and humid, probably good preparation for the event!) Going back up the hill, I walked most of the way, then ran for the last few minutes. Total run time, about 30 minutes. Tomorrow I"ll do spinning and then a short run. Friday, try for a longer run. Saturday, maybe just a long bike ride, since I'll have to spend most of the day preparing for Ella's birthday party. But - AACK! That might be my last chance for a true mini-tri since the pool is closing Friday for 3 weeks! Unless I do an outdoor swim (hmm...not such a bad idea!) I won't be able to do any swimming the last week. Once I get the right wetsuit I should do a pond swim.

Called the wetsuit people, who suggested I buy the next size smaller and see if it works better. They said as long as I can breathe, tight is OK! So I"ll order the 14 and see if I can get it on!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Long run

I'm still messing with my new shoes. Last time out, I put hte new insoles on top of the shoe-insoles. It felt nice and cushiony and my knees were happy, but I thought the shoes were too tight. The package said I should take out the shoe insoles, and I called RRS to double-check. (I must say, for a catalog specializing in running, I never get a feeling of true expertise from the people I talk to there - they're kind of tentative.) But I followed their advice and took out the soles that came with the shoes, and spent almost my entire run just now fiddling with the laces trying to get it not too tight, not too loose. When I started out, I felt stiff, tired ,achy, and wasn't sure I could do more than three miles. (That's amazing, isn't it - that a short run for me is 3 miles!) I'm at my mom's in PA, so I took a route I like through a little neighborhood down to a canal (flat! Not cement! Pretty views!) I went 30 minutes out, 30 minutes back, walking on one steep hill, stopping to fiddle periodically but running pretty well the whole way. It had to be at least 4 miles but gI have no way to check it since I can't drive along the canal. But I'm pretty happy about it! Yesterday I didn't work out, and won't have a chance tomorrow either (travelling home) but back to swim/bike/run/spin/swim/mini-tri in that order during the week (and Ella's birthday party on Saturday too! Happy Birthday to my little one who turns 5 tomorrow!)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Is this how it's supposed to fit?

I got my wetsuit today! I don't really want to show what it looks like ON - it's not a pretty sight. But here it is NOT on (the thing in my hand is the "BodyGlide" that one uses to grease it on):

On the other hand, I'm not sure if it really fits - according to the company's size charts I needed a size 16 (at least) for my bottom half, but a 12 or 14 would work for my top half. It seems a little long and a little loose to me - can any of you experts tell by the way it looks? It went on and off too easy - I didn't need any body glide. But man was it HOT - I can't imagine wearing that on a day like this!

In my training update: swam 1/2 mile Monday (in about a half-hour, roughly.) Biked yesterday - not far, but SERIOUS hills. Ran on the track (outdoor, 1/4 mile I think) today, did some slow laps, some fast (for me) laps, some walking laps, and some all-out sprints for about 1/4 of the way around. It seemed like a good idea - the workout was a total of about 40 minutes.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Too funny!

Ever wonder what celebrity you look most like? I did, and now I know! Using an absolutly awfully unflattering (but probably unfortunately) accurate picture of me taken by my 4 year old, I can now find out who is my famous twin! And you can too!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Looking forward

I'm not too sore today - achilles tendon feels fine, legs only slightly wobbly. Tomorrow swim, and onward to June 2! (With the Lake Waramaug tri in mind, I'm going to do all my swims at 1/2 mile instead of 1/3 - might as well go the distance!) I haven't decided what to do about the shoes yet - my worn out, too-small nikes are much kinder on my knees than my brand new, theoretically-my-size, theoretically correct for my kind of arches, Saucony's. I ordered insoles - but the idea of fiddling with the shoes to try and make them work is worrisome. The rest of my gear seems ok - the running pants are a little loose in the waist but they didn't actually fall down since nothing could get past my still-extremely-large hips. Speaking of which, I wonder how the wetsuite I ordered will fit - it should come sometime this week. I also wish my shirt had pockets - I had to carry my gu packet in my bra! Maybe I won't carry one in the tri - I'll have them at transition and on the bike - for the 3 mile run I can probably do without! I didn't get quite enough time to bask in my triumph yesterday as I was so busy wtih the benefit all afternoon and evening, but I did see a lot of friends who showered me with praise - that was pretty nice! (including my friend Jennie, who ran yesterday in 7-minute-miles but was still very generous in congratulating me!)

PS - it looks like I haven't raise much money yet, but in fact quite a few people have sent checks - there's no way to show that in the 'widget' but I'll update the accompanying text tomorrow to show the grand total to date. And lots of people have promised to pledge sometime soon so I'm still confident that we'll get our new Care Car!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Race report - Sharon Classic

Unbelievable! What a great day! It started out frazzled - getting the kids up and out for some reason was more of a battle than I ever imagined - both were just plain ornery about getting ready. It's only a walk around the corner from our house to the town green so we weren't really late, but by the time we got our race packets - it took them a minute or two to find them- the kids were begging to go in the bouncy house, I had to pee already, and I was feeling grouchy and snappish. Then both girls decided they didn't want to run in their respective races - the fun run and the 1-mile race. I'm not sure what their anxiety is about - what they're afraid of, exactly. My little one had even practiced on the course (as this had happened last year already) but she said, "I didn' t know there would be a lot of people here." The older one just felt uncertain - she didn't understand where the course would go, and I think for her it's partly worrying about not doing well compared ot others. (Every time I talk to her about my triathlon, she says "I hope you win, mommy" and doesn't seem to get that winning is really not the point!)

Anyway, once all that was over and I'd made a trip to the port-o-potties, I was ready to concentrate on my race.

Many friends were there – my mentor, Triathlon Goddess Tina (redhead in the blue top in the picture), and Trish, one of many who have inspired and encouraged me in this quest. My new friend Jennie, who finished fifth among the women, 7 minute miles - AWESOME! A few of our local movie stars, lots of kids – and some serious athletes, of course. I decided not to bring my camera along for the run itself, but if you want to get an idea of the course, check out last year’s post from when I was just walking. (It has my “before” picture, too!)

I started out feeling quite comfortable – a few knee twinges didn’t last (I’d gone back to my old shoes) and did the first mile in an amazing (for me) 10:46. I was running right along with a 60 year old woman, an even older man (turns out he was 78!), and a woman with pure white hair who was at least that age, but who was wearing a NYC Marathon shirt. A friend who was running with her kids was nearby, and they kept sprinting ahead, then stopping to walk right in front of me – it was a bit distracting, but they fell back after a while.

The second mile is usually faster, because it’s downhill, but for some reason I could only manage about 11:20. But still I was running all the way, aches and pains under control, and I had time to enjoy the gorgeous fields along West Woods Road #1 – the smell of the dandelions was particularly sweet! (It was sunny and in the low 60’s – perfect!) (By the way, the man on the right with the very good legs is my husband Fred.)

Mile 3 is really hard – it has a steep uphill, and I walked for a short time there (shorter than I had before. I always struggle at that point in the race – I was tired, I was running alone (the 60 year olds had basically left me behind!) and twinges started to turn into aches, especially my left Achilles tendon. My time was pretty slow – well over 12. I walked a few more times, and was starting to lose my optimism. But I tried to remind myself that I’ve trained well for this, my legs are strong, and that I’ve run this course before and know I can do it. And somehow, I kept going. When I was really losing steam just before the 4 mile mark I ate the packet of Gu I'd been carrying (in my bra!) and gulped two cups of water. Whether it was the carb boost or just adrenaline as I closed into the end, I did start feeling better, especially as I crossed past the clock tower and little children I know started cheering, hi fiving and yelling my name! It was more thrilling than I expected - soon I saw my own little children and felt a tremendous burst of energy to get to the finish line - in 1:01 (and change) - my dream time (that I didn't really expect to make) was 1:00 flat, so I was delighted. I finished 101st out of 110 official finishers - not last! By the way, a few places behind me was an inspirational woman, Cathleen Cordova, who was in a catastrophic riding accident a year ago, was in a coma for weeks, in the hospital for months - and now was able to run 5 miles in just over an hour. Now THAT is grit and determination!

Back at the green, I had time to stroll around and enjoy the snacks, the booths – Audubon brought an owl and someone was selling beautiful flowers. There was a silent auction and I bid on my friend Colleen’s painting (but got into a bidding war with another friend and she won!) My photograph from my photoblog (Fields of Gold) was won by one of our local movie stars (COOL!) I finally got a massage, too – great feeling!

So now, I’m icing my Achilles, about to jump in the shower and head up to Millerton for our huge event – the big annual benefit for the community center.. I feel pretty good but I imagine I’m going to be a blithering moron by about 8:00 tonight! (Someone else better count the money after the event!)

You can see the official race results here - my name in lights!

So…tomorrow I will begin to focus on my real goal – the triathlon, four weeks from today! But for today I will bask in my accomplishment – I did something today that I thought I could never do! And yes, that's me, in the pink, below - feeling pretty proud!

Friday, May 04, 2007

First big test!

Tomorrow is the Sharon Classic - 5 miles on a "gently rolling"course, according to the website. Gently??? I have never yet run up any one of its gentle hills without stopping to gasp for breath at the top! Of course I learned yesterday that these kinds of intervals - hills, or speed work - are the best possible thing one can do to improve endurance. So says the New York Times. My knees feel a bit better but it makes me nervous that, in the name of "tapering" I haven't worked out since Tuesday morning. On one hand, my muscles have lost all the soreness and achiness they had after last weekend, so that's a good thing, but can it be good for my endurance? I guess I"ll find out tomorrow! Stay tuned for race report and photos!