Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And then there were none

Considering the time taken to accomplish a dream on my terms, I don't really think this race report blog is late.  So Lump it and quit your bitchin'.

"One and done." "Two and through." "Three and free."  "Four and no more."

Personally, I think I was really still at one and done.  My first three attempts at iron distance triathlons did not go as I had planned.  Let me remind you:

The Bigfoot Triathlon, alternately named Jethro Throws a Triathlon.  I blogged about this race several years ago and reread my descriptions a few months ago.  I didn't do it justice.  This was the worst organized race I have yet run.  That includes all "Any Distance Classics" and the "Alice's Restaurant Massacre Run".  I got food and drink at both the latter races.

Ironman Brazil.  FUCK!  Disassembled my bike, packed it, flew it to another continent, found it after some considerable consternation and time, unpacked it, reassembled it, and checked it into transition.  Had to wait 10 hours to get to ride it back to our hotel as I pretended to be driftwood for 2:35 in the ocean.  FUCK!  And I especially appreciated the super-support I received from my "friends".

Ironman Arizona.  17:14:20.  Don't worry so much about dehydration in the desert.  OR learn to pee on your bike.  Either way.

And so, #4:  Ironman Texas.

I had a pretty foolproof method for this one.  Train your ass off.  Literally, I dropped 15 pounds before race day.  Got plenty of rest, ate a healthy diet.  Oh yeah, one other thing:  throw money at the race.  New gorgeous Cervelo bike:  check.  Private swim lessons:  check.  Ensuring Ed didn't let me get away with anything in weight training or indoor cycling:  check.  Multiple bike fits:  check.  Clinical massage therapy:  check.

And then convince your bestest friends that the most important place for them to be on May 21, 2011 is in Hellouston, TX....not eating, not drinking, not peeing for just a smidge over 16 hours.  Perfect.  I do regret not convincing Mom, David & Karen to come.  Oh well.

It was an amazing day.  I slept pretty well the night before, not nearly as many dreams as previous attempts.  I was ready.  The water was warm and extremely crowded, as you might expect with a bunch of panicked swimmers in a very little area.  I got punched, shoved, swum over.  I never really found that sweet spot where you're just swimming.  This was due to yes, a much-improved swim stroke, but also one lone crazy-woman, who must have covered 4 miles in her swim.  She swam the entire way - side to side.  She kept hitting me perpendicularly, if that makes any sense.  She could have won that damn swim if she'd learned to sight. At all.

My favorite part of the swim was the last bit with the canal.  I'm still not sure exactly how far it was, but it was certainly longer than I expected.  But I got to see and hear my peeps following me the whole way.  And I got to hear the Vuvuzela.  OK, I may have to re-examine whether that was my favorite part.  I remain surprised that Annn did not end up in the drink at some point that day.  Anita, Joy, J9, Adelia & Jackie must have been on some good drugs. 

My swim time was about 30 minutes faster than IMAZ.  That's with no extra swim effort - that's all technique improvement.  Thanks to Annn for convincing me how awesome ProKaren is and to ProKaren for convincing me I could easily complete the IM swim in under 2 hours.  How about 1:43???  Suhweet.

I immediately spent a significant portion of that time savings in transition.   It wasn't like IMAZ.  When you're in the middle of the pack, the volunteers are a whole lot busier.  So, I had to dress myself.  Doesn't that just suck?  Who knew?  Always difficult to get tight fitting bike clothes on a damp body.  Oh well.

Then I foolishly allowed volunteers to put sunscreen on me.  Yes, sunscreen was a good idea.  But these folks had lathered up their hands with the gunk awhile ago and it had formed more of a glue than a lotion.  Great race pictures that resembled the Wicked 10k the year before.  Did not know I'd be biking in my zombie makeup.

And then I went out and had the best 80 mile bike ride I've ever had.  Best on so many levels.  Smooth roads, great pedalling, passing folks on every small up and down hill!  Staying hydrated, but not over-hydrated.  Got stopped by a cop for 3 minutes (along with some of my much less happy racing friends) for traffic.  3 minutes is a long time.  Like the difference between a sub 16 hour IM and not.  Thankfully, not the difference between under 17 and not.  Still, I didn't care.  I was averaging between 16 & 17 mph and was able to stay in aero without the significant discomfort that I'd felt on EVERY OTHER BIKE RIDE I'D EVER TAKEN AS AN ADULT.  I love it when a plan comes together.

Anita & her entourage were supposed to try and stake out the bike course at about mile 35.  But I was too fast.  Ha!  Yes, I'm chair-dancing in victory knowing I was going too fast on my bike.  What I did not know until much later was that this panicked Anita because she thought I was going to burn out.  But Annn was able to talk her down from the ledge as we had discussed strategy for months.  And we'd decided I should just go.  Not crazy effort, but a sustained push as long as I could.  We knew to expect a steady headwind all the way back into town, so ride whatever tailwind for all I was worth.

The gang caught up with me about mile 50 and it was really good to see them.  I managed to avoid wiping out as the girl in front of me slowed way down for the turn as I was waving to the best support crew ever to show up for a race.  I was about an inch from clipping her tire and had to apply the brakes an a strenous manner (aka nearly skidded out).  Didn't mean to give Anita yet another heart attack.  But I was much too busy trying to decipher Annn's signs and find my Where's Waldo friend, J9, who kept hiding on me all day and then popping out in surprise.  It was good to see that everyone was still smiling (and screaming and jumping and yelling).  I was having the time of my life.

At IMAZ, I probably got off my bike to pee at least 6 times.  At IMTX:  once.  Which was a really good thing, because my biggest pet peeve was that there was a line at every portajohn all day - there were not nearly enough.  I waited for over 5 minutes at mile 70 on the bike.  And when the volunteer came out of the extremely foul restroom after that 5 minutes (when there were other facilities available to non-racers) I almost peed on him.  Asshole.  So, 5 minutes is the difference between a sub 16 hour, blah, blah, blah....

So I had the best 80 mile bike ride ever.  But gee, CJ, isn't the IM bike 112 miles.  Why, I'm glad you asked that.  Yes, there were 32 miles left after my best bike ride ever.  Mile 81-100 was on the worst pavement I've ever driven or walked on with awful traffic and no shoulder to speak of.  It was scary and I understand that at least 2 bikers were actually hit by cars in this stretch.  There is a rumor that one of those accidents caused a detour on the bike course and many bikers actually completed 114 miles or more (yes, my bike computer showed over 114 miles).  Do you know what the time difference it took to ride those extra 2 miles was?  It's the difference between a sub....whatev.  So those were a rough 20 miles. 

And my trusted friend, my 5 lb. watch, crapped out at mile 84 of the bike.  WTF?  I'd used it for 6 months and it was always perfect.  Turns out, the memory was full.  I never did manage to read the accompanying manual and thought I was transferring the data from watch to Mac after every use.  Nope.  I was copying.  FUCK!  Can't exactly learn how to program my watch biking down the road.

And then we came to the sign that brought us back into "The Woodlands".  Home sweet home.  WHoopeee!!!  Maybe the bike course is short?  Certainly, the pavement was better....but those were the 12 longest miles I have ever experienced in a race on a bike. Every corner looked like the turn for transition and none of them were.  I kept telling myself to stay focused.  Every 20 seconds when I realized I wasn't in aero anymore and I wasn't pedalling very hard anymore.   Oh look, a golf course....hmmm...I like golf...Oh hey, there's Where'sJ9Waldo on the smallest median I've ever seen between 6 lanes of traffic.  Hope she's OK.  I must be close to transition.  And yet the miles just kept ticking off with no end, not even at 112....

Finally made the last turn and saw all my very happy, but nervous peeps waving me into transition (except for poor Joy who was sent on the camera batter errand at an inopportune time - I am hoping she took some extra time to cool off in the hotel).  Turns out Anita was a wreck because I was unable to maintain that 16-17 pace for the last 40 miles since they'd seen me.  And they'd heard there was a wreck.  Poor girl.  Someone should have gotten her a mai tai.

End result of the bike:  a much improved bike time and superior prognosis for finishing an IM in under 17 hours.  Although, I didn't know what time it was....

Into the changing tent and again, no one to help me change.  DAMMIT.  What do these people expect from me.  Anywho, got changed (slowly), got some water, filled all my shorts pockets with my preferred nutrition and headed out.  I decided to try to fix my watch in the first mile, so drink, eat, fix watch, then run.  I got some data deleted and started the watch again about the 1/2 mile mark.  This was distressing to me because I never managed to get a real mile time for the rest of the race.  It's probably a good thing though because I never found a pace on the run.

Let me back up a bit.  I've never run as well or as fast as I have in the 4 months leading up IMTX.  I actually enjoyed running.  Occasionally, I'd tell Anita what time I expected to be home and I'd beat that time by several minutes without cutting the run short.  I'd PR every mileage without pushing (OK, there were a couple of races I pushed at the end).  So I was expecting my best IM run ever.  Well, actually, yes, I think it was my best IM run ever.  For the 4-5 miles I actually ran.  Which were not consecutive.  Nor probably even miles.  However, did I mention it was hot?  I mean MF'ing hot.  Like, the second I got off the plane I turned to Anita and said "Oh, I didn't know.  This race is totally going to suck.  And not in a good way."  The heat was another factor in the last 30 miles of the bike.  It had been overcast and a little rainy earlier in the day.  Still hot.  HOT actually.  I don't know how hot.  But it got muggy AND sunny in the last 30 miles of the bike.

And then they expected me to run.  There was about a mile, maybe 1.5 miles of shade on the run course.  The 3 look 8.x mile course.  And sunset was after 9pm.  Hot.

OK, so after I got my watch reset, I started running.  I noticed it was hot.  I poured ice down my shirt/shorts at every rest stop, which was every mile.  Lots to drink.  Cool sponges under my hat and on the back of my neck.  Still hot.  Felt woosy pretty early on.  Digestive issues early on.  I slowed down.  OK, CJ, get it together.  No problem.  This is a long race with lots of recovery time available.  Change up nutrition/hydration, slow down until you feel a bit better.  Until I can think again.  Hmmm.  Managed to get through the first loop.  It was hot and slow.  Anita was worried.  Joy asked me what my pace was.  I laughed.  No pace.  None.  I'd expected to be able to catch some friends on some loop of the run, but I had nothing.  I was only able to run a few steps at a time before I'd feel woosy again.  Without the vuvuzela in my ear, I'm not sure I'd have run that much.

I started to notice in that second lap that there were a ton of bike paramedics on the course.  And that all of them were very busy.  Those that weren't administering IV's were on their bikes following folks they'd soon be putting IV's in.  I realized that I could think - I realized that as long as I stayed vertical and moving forward, I'd be able to finish this thing in under 17 hours.  No hope for the 15 hour goal at this run pace, but as long as my body didn't get a new piercing by IV, I'd have the monkey off my back.  I also realized that though I'd finally enjoyed an IM (finally) that my body is really not cut out for it.  Maybe shorter races.

I hope CrazyWaldoTrainJ9 doesn't really ever want to do one with me.  But I'd be happy to cheer and train too.

Nearing the lights of the finish line, I was able to run.  One of my favorite Teammates, Adri and her husband, ran with me for some of that last mile, and that was awesome.  Helped to distract from the pain. 

I never saw nor heard my peeps as I ran down the finish chute, but I knew that crowd noise was definitely louder than it had been for the finisher before me.  And I knew that meant they were there.  Still there.  Sharing every moment of the battle with me.

I love you all.

Monday, August 22, 2011

United Airlines & Contintental Frequent Flyer Miles "Upgrades"

So today, I decided that it would be worth quite a bit of cash and 120,000 frequent flyer miles to upgrade our 2 long flights to/from Europe.  These flights were booked through United Airlines, though one is on Continental.

This decision was prompted by email receipt of a "change" to our itinerary from United late last week.  I didn't see any actual change to any of our flights, but whatever.  I did verify that all our connecting flights appeared to have sufficient time for a successful trip.

But then yesterday, I checked one more time to see what had changed.  Ah, our seats, picked 2 months ago, had been removed from our flight from Munich to Newark, an 11 hour + flight.  I got online immediately.  Only seats remaining together were in business class or economy in the last middle row.  I'm familiar with the last row and that booking is not a mistake you make twice.  The seats don't recline.

I called United as that is who I had the reservation with.  I discussed at length the problem with an 11 hour flight in seats that didn't recline after I had carefully selected seats.  I mentioned taking my 70 year old Mom on her first intercontinental trip.  There was nothing the agent could do.  Conceding defeat, I chose 3 from the ~6 remaining seats that would recline, knowing we would now not be sitting together.   When viewing the seating chart, I did notice that business class was practically empty.  I asked about an upgrade, but my question was ignored as the agent found that when she went to book our new crappy seats, our old seats popped into the reservation.  She said she'd email me the new confirmation, that I'd receive it in 5-10 minutes and was there anything else she could help me with.  I got off the phone as quickly as possible.

No email arrived.  I started to call again today, but decided that since I'd obtained a confirmation # for the Continental flight, that I'd explore their website and my ability to upgrade with miles & money.   I transferred miles from my United account (looks like the first decent news out of the United-Continental merger) and typed in the data.  I expected to then get a seating chart, but no, we've been waitlisted.  Waitlisted?  But why, Business Class shows as practically empty.  I read the fine print.  Once waitlisted, the airline can wait until 24 hours before the flight to honor the upgrade.  If anyone with a higher "status" than me wants a seat, I'll get bumped, regardless of how long we've been on the list.  There is no way to identify what the list looks like.  I went ahead with this anyway because, hey, it's my Mom's first trip to Europe. 

I see that Continental not only charged my credit card for the full $s of the waitlisted upgrade, they also charged a mystery $1 pending transaction.  WTF?  So they get to keep my money for 3 weeks while they decide if I'm worthy.  That blows.

So, OK, I know United is better than this.  So after much contemplation, I decided to use the remaining balance of my miles and cash to upgrade the long flight to Europe.  United isn't only not better.  They didn't even tell me I was waitlisted or what that would mean.  I hit upgrade and boom, my miles are gone and I don't get to select my business class seats, because again, they have the honor to see if they get a better offer.  So far, no charge on my credit card, but I have noticed that United is not timely about credit card charges in about 1/2 the cases.

So Continental and United, I have to ask:  what are you thinking?  Now it doesn't matter if you're first to purchase an item with limited availabilty.  You have to wait in the back of the line to see if any people with a higher class want that item.  This doesn't seem like the American way.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Carytown 10k

This morning was my last real run before IMTX.  The mud crew re-assembled in Cary Court (why the hell didn't Joyless run either of these races?).   Got to see my buddy, Denis, who is now in the 70-74 age group - how the hell did that happen?  He asked what pace I was planning and I let him know it was SLOW and that he'd want no part of it.  Even if I was planning on running this as a race, I'm pretty sure this 70 year old would have kicked my ass, even after 6 months of heavy training.  Oh well, good for him, right?  It was really good to see him though.

My original plan for the race was to run with Bike Coach & The Saint, but their plans changed Sunday when BC recognized that the hip pain she was feeling was being aggravated every time she ran.  So, their run turned into a walk-run.  I'm not sure how it happened, but I lost J9 within 3 seconds of the start.  Never saw her at all.  C-YA.

KG & I ran together and we talked about the pace I needed to run.  Between 11:30s and 12:00s.   Seriously, no faster.  Didn't exactly go as planned.  We ran just under 11's.  Ok, that's pretty close.  At the water stop at mile 2.5, KG needed to walk and slow down and I was feeling good, so we split up.  I am extremely familiar with pushing hard to keep up with someone and then needing to rest.  It's a bad feeling to know your slowing someone down (though it would have been good for me to be slowed today), so I took off down the road.

I picked up the pace for the rest of mile 3 and finished with a 10 minute mile.  Not in the plan.  I really didn't feel like I was pushing the pace at all.  I decided to run whatever felt good.  10 cent head, I know.

I felt really good and really strong, so I pushed it, just a bit.  Heard and saw Joyless in front of her building and she ran in flip flops for a block with me.  Not sure how I feel about her being able to easily keep up in flip flops on a pace where I'm pushing it a bit.  Wait, I know.  Bitch.

Finished with 3 miles under 10s coming in with a strong final kick.  PR'd my 10k time by 6 seconds.

So, lessons learned.  I really do have a 10 cent head.  Most important part of my IM run is the first 1/2:  I need to run slow and easy (OK, nothing easy about an IM run, but slow, for sure).  I've been negative splitting all my runs all year and this needs to be no exception.  That means sandbagging the first 1/2 so I have something left for the 2nd half.  This is also reliant on the FACT that the 10pm cutoff to start the last 8.6 run loop will not be an issue.  If that's an issue, then fuck the negative split for the whole marathon and just try to negative split the 1st & 2nd loop.  AND stay in the moment.  Focus.  Keep the finish line/time in sight at all times.  I'll have a whole lot of help with that - from teammates in the race to my 5 sherpas.

I'm ready.

5k Mud Run Marshalling

Most of the team congregated Friday evening for the 5k Mud Run starting at Brown's Island.  I was not allowed to participate as a runner as I'm supposed to cover myself in bubble wrap and sit very quietly on the couch until Saturday at 7am central time.

The race was not well-organized.  Packet pickup was only offered same day, which was crazy AND we had a nice rainstorm in the middle of the day, so this caused some extra problems.  The lines were HUGE and did not move.  Thanks to the rain and the threat of a thunderstorm, a lot of volunteers bailed, so everything was understaffed.

I left the team at 5:30 to get to my marshalling spot, which was supposed to be in a field on Belle Isle, where I couldn't get into any trouble at all.  Did I mention that a lot of volunteers bailed?  The coordinator could man only the most critical positions.  I got reassigned to the rock hop portion of the course.  The EMTs followed me there and didn't budge - they knew if anyone was going to require aid, it was going to be here.

I had a great time, trying to convince people that the slimy route was much better than the jump over the crevasse of death.  I've been told I was small and loud.  Whatever.  I did my job and tried to wind up the runners and remind them that this was supposed to be fun for them.  J9 was kicking ass running in a wedding dress, complete with veil.  I'm very sorry that I did not get to see the wedding dress in the mud pit.  Bike Coach, Saint and The Brit came through my race spot shortly after J9 and I snapped a couple of very quick pics before they were off (down the slimy route at my behest).  After that, I couldn't wait for people to get by my spot so that I could run back (gently, no ankle twisting here) and perhaps get to see my peeps finish or at least in their muddy best.

Sadly, but the time I made it back to Brown's Island, everyone was in the middle of changing.  All I got to do was embarrass J9 (I didn't see anything) and snap some more pics.  FYI, the Fuji waterproof digital camera is awful.  We bought it at Costco on Thursday and are returning it today.  Huge delay between snapping a pic and it actually taking.  It would only work for the pictures my Mom takes (gravestones and empty fields where civil war battles once raged).  It'd be really good for pictures of dead people.  Fortunately, we had none of those on the race.  Unfortunately, the race pics are not good.  I can live with that.

One beer later, we had a lovely time.

Roll Your Own 1/2 Ironman

Last Saturday, I ran a 1/2 IM that I designed and ran pretty much alone.  It was a good indication, I think, of how IMTX will be although I hope that my transition times are considerably less.  I'd like to note that this race was better organized than Jethro's Iron Distance triathlon of 2007.

I started with a 1.2 mile swim in the Downtown Y pool.  There are crazy people swimming lots and lots of laps at 7am on a Saturday and one woman doing water aerobics/treading water for at least 51 minutes.  I prefer to sleep in, thank you very much.

After rinsing off the chlorine, I changed in the Y and then finished transition in the parking lot with Anita's van.  25 minute transition.  Hopefully a minimum of 15 minutes longer than TX.  I hopped on my bike and pedaled down to the start of the Cap2Cap bike ride.  I was late getting to the Y and with the long transition, I missed the start of the 50 milers, so I started with the 25 milers.

This was a fabulous ride.  As I posted on Facebook, I much prefer racing a ride than riding a race.  I passed many riders.  So many, in fact, that I caught up with at least some of the 50 milers, which felt like a victory.  It was a beautiful day for a ride.  I stopped for a potty break 1/2way and lost 13 minutes to the portajohn line.  I considered peeing in the bushes, but just too many people.  I also stopped to allow several women to admire my bike.  I really am enjoying having a cool bike.  I'm not sure if it was just that people were riding instead of racing, but I was passing people like I have been passed all my life - like they were standing still.  THAT IS FUN.  I highly recommend it.  It may even be worth 6 months of speedwork.  Maybe.

I found the zen on the bike.  I averaged 16.2, which is awesome for me for a 56 mile ride.  Elevation gain was a bit more than I'll experience in TX and I had a good headwind coming home, which is fully expected for the return ride in TX (56 mile of headwind.  Ugh).  The Bike Coach has provided me with some different methods of approaching the wind, mostly just to get out of my head, so really good approaches.

The last 2 miles were up Main St with lots of stop lights, traffic and even construction.  That was ugly, but the hills were fine, shouldn't have many or any stop lights in TX.

Changing in the van resulted in a bit of a long transition at 13 minutes, but not too bad considering having to stow the bike and change inside the van.

And off on the run.  This is when I realized I'd not put on any sunscreen, nor did I have any.  So, new course - run home for sunscreen, water & a bathroom:  perfect!  So an extra 6 minutes or so for the rest stop at home and then back to Monument Ave to finish up the rest of the run.  The Saint stopped me for a quick kiss and Low Ryder joined me for a few VERY warm & sunny miles on Monument, which was great.  I  kept ever mile under 12, which is the game plan for TX too.

With all transitions, a couple of unplanned and unTXlike stops and many, many phone calls on the run, I finished in 7:58:29.  Conservatively, I'm sure that without the extra transition and 13 minute portapotty line, this time is equivalent to 7:30, at most.  That gives us a IMTX goal time of 16 hours, with hopes for better than that.

As long as it's under 17, it's a major victory, right?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Last Loooonnnngggg Run

Ok, technically, I have 2 long runs left, but once you've done 22, 13 doesn't seem like much.  And that other run is not a training run, so that doesn't count in my countdown either.

Ironman Texas.  25 days away.  Including today, because today isn't over yet, so of course it should still be included.  Race numbers will probably be issued within the next week & a half.  That always induces a nice measure of freakout.  I believe I'm experiencing some palpitations even now.  It is totally human of me to know that the rookies on our training team will be experiencing a much higher freakout factor any time now, right?  Right?  It's not mean, right?  Right?

So, I have temporarily given up alcohol and very bad "food" with exceptions.  I've been "off" alcohol over a week now (OK, I had some of Anita's coppertini Saturday night, but how can that count, it was 1/4 fruit juice).  And off junk food for 5 days.  Do I feel better?  NO, of course not.  Maybe later.

I started an iron supplement.  Perhaps this is TMI, but since I'm practically alone here, I may as well mention why.  My "monthly" "cycle" (quotes because at my advanced age, there's nothing monthly about what is barely even cyclical anymore) may coincide precisely with the race.  That would be pretty bad news for me.  One day to need to feel my best I may feel my worst.  Advil is very bad to take during intense physical activity and that is the only thing I've found to ge me through that once really bad cycle day.  So, I may very well be in extra pain and feel extra weak on IM day.  We won't even go into how no one wants to go swimming on the first day.  Anyway, I think the iron may be working because I don't think this time was so bad.  But I was playing golf, not self-propelling 140.6 miles, so I don't really know. 

Yesterday, Anita & I played in our first one day Virginia State Golf Association tournament.  Anita played the first 7 holes in 1 over par!  That's not only REALLY good for anyone I golf with, it's amazing for someone with a 28 handicap and at a course we don't know that is very difficult.  Unfortunately, one other woman in our group, someone we don't know, started calling her a "sandbagger" and talking about how great she was doing, blah, blah.   Just like the announcers at a baseball game jinxing a no-hitter or a perfect game.  She was a turd and constantly doing things to mess with our heads.  Very annoying.  But Anita persevered and finished in 4th place (net).  She was only 3 shots from placing 1st net.  That was awesome.

I guess that's all I've got to share right now.

Monday, April 18, 2011

100 Mile Powhatan historical bike tour

It just occurred to me that I didn't really see much history in my tour of Powhatan yesterday.  I was too busy pushing the pedals on steep uphills and ducking my head from a vicious headwind.

For those of you reading this (Hi, Sweetheart) who think I'm just Debbie Downer, doom & gloom, I refer you to Saturday's post in which I had a lovely race and after party.

The ride started off nice enough - great roads, lots of friends and teammates participating.  As soon as the warm-up 2 miles was complete for the peeps I started off with, they were gone & I had no hope of riding a wheel to a faster time.  They waited for me a couple of time at stop signs/rest stops, but I begged them to stop as I just felt like I was holding them up so I could ride with them for about a minute before I lost them.

And so, I rode mostly alone.  I was passed by every teammate & coach, which is fine, it's fine, I say.  2 lovely gentlemen who clearly had no other self-interest except time in the saddle, passed me on a hill and then slowed up so I could grab a wheel for awhile.  I mentioned how awesome it was to be drafting and Gentlemen#1 replied that his wife called it "the wall of love".  I loved it and them.  After 5-6 miles of riding, I grabbed the lead, thinking it would only be for a few minutes, but I got in aero and somehow with the 2 guys riding behind me, we whipped through the wind to some of my quickest mile times for the day.  I'd call it the torpedo of love if that just didn't sound so dirty.  They rested at the 30 mile pit stop and I went off alone.  Never saw them again, I think they opted for a shorter ride, it certainly wasn't because I was setting any speed records.

Lots of hills.  Rocky Ford Road.  I yelled "wheeee" as I rolled down the hill, promptly followed by "fuck" as I saw the uphill afterward.  I finished that hill in my easiest gear and barely made it over without falling over.

Wind.  Was.  Brutal.  I have no idea of the mph.  I know it called for 10 to 20, but it at least felt like a headwind for 90 miles.  Even when it changed direction, it wasn't from the rear except for a few lovely miles near the end of my ride.  REALLY hope TX has a calm day while I'm on my bike (or 112 miles of strong tailwind) and then a nice breeze for the run to cool us off a little.

Things I saw:

  • Lots of roadkill
  • One area of blood splatter with no roadkill in sight.  This was when I started thinking of "Deliverance" as I was all alone out there in the Powhatan woods.
  • A seatbelt with buckle
  • What I hope was an air rifle.  I nearly ran over it.
  • What looked to be 5-10 abandoned structures, decades or more old, collapsing toward the road near a creek.  This may have been on Giles Road, which I found fairly creepy.  I hadn't seen a car or a person in miles & miles.  
I talked to a street sign, but in my defense, it started it.  It said, "Watch for turning vehicles."  I replied, "I hope I'm one."  It was mile 95 and I was ready to be home wearing my ice pants.

This was not a Zen-like ride, but I understand this ride served as a worst-case scenario for race day.  Even if everything sucks on race day, I will persevere.  I just hope it doesn't suck.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bulldog 5k

Neither wind, nor rain, nor sleet, nor...something, something, will keep me from blah, blah my appointed run.

It rained.  There were a lot of children.  Starting, stopping running sideways.  Puddles, pollen, wind.  My peeps were running with child, so I was alone against the elements.

Well, I didn't make it on the podium for the Bulldog 5k this morning, but I did PR it and let's just give some serious thought to how great that is because my old PR was over 9 years ago.  And in checking the records back, I realize I beat it today by over a minute thirty.  That's like an entire 5k in dog years.

Had fun watching the kids at the indoor carnival afterward, but truly happy the mic didn't work well for their talent show.

FYI, The Franklin Inn has a very nice brunch on Saturday morning for pretty cheap.  And the bloody mary was marvelous.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Timecheck for Ironman Texas

So, it's Friday.  Fabulous.  And another long workout this weekend.  It was supposed to be a 90 mile bike ride, but thanks to me, it's 100 for the whole team.  Yes, voluntarily.  A few months ago, I saw that there was a century ride planned for this weekend.  Support & a map for $35!  Plus a pancake breakfast.  What could be better.  I mentioned it to our coaches and they agreed it wasn't a bad idea.

Well, it's a few months later and the ride is Sunday.  That's nice - it means I have a kind of lazy day tomorrow if I'd like, though I need to do the 2.4 mile timed swim I skipped earlier in the week.  But still, not a huge time commitment to working out on Saturday.

I'm not sure why I'm not looking forward to the ride.  I'm in good shape.  It'll be nice not to have 2 loops of a long course, so no danger of bagging the ride in the middle, which is always a danger if I see my car during a workout.  Perhaps it's the weather forecast for Saturday - complete rainout with bad storms on the way, so no golf.  With the after-bike run, I won't be leaving Powhatan until about 4 or a bit later on Sunday, so doesn't look good to get any golf in then.  So no golf this weekend.  Bummer.

But then, this post wasn't really supposed to be about the bike ride.  In the last 2 weeks, the entire IMTXTG team has found calendars.  As in Holy Crap, we have to race next month.  Or what do you mean we leave for Texas in 32 days?

I don't think I'm nervous.  Really.  I'm excited that we only have 4 long workouts left before the big day.  I'm excited about all the progress I've made through hard work, great coaching and buying better equipment (have I mentioned lately how much I love my bike?).  I'm really very excited that I suddenly enjoy running.  Let me type that again.  I enjoy running.  Last week, I enjoyed a bike ride.  Flat out enjoyed.  On the same day, I had a great swim.  Saturday I ran 20 miles and never needed a walk break (yes, I stopped for water 5.5 times).  The .5 was because there was no water where it was expected to be.  Took .5 to truly establish that it was missing.  And then Anita happened to pass us on her way to the golf course - way across town.  She was nice enough to stop and provide us with water and juice, which she just happened to have in the car, like any good sherpathlete would.  But I digress.  I don't think I'm nervous.  Excited?  Maybe.

So, all systems go.  All IM dreams have been positive.  Positive!?  Like finishing in 14 hours positive (not realistic without a 45 mph tailwind the entire bike ride so I don't have to pedal).  Like running with other teammates who are still on the course after my finish (instead of calling them in their hotel rooms and waking their asses up, which I have been known to do in prior years).  Like saying "hi Mom" to the live video feed as I cross the finish line (because, of course, if you finish in under 17 hours, there is a video feed to say "hi" to).

But still, today marks 36 days to race day.  That's not a lot.  I think I need some chocolate to wash that down with.

Friday, April 1, 2011


Crazy new semi-reality show based on the flashmobs that have started to become ubiquitous.  Howie Mandel finding someone with a secret and turning the reveal of the secret into a flashmob.  Could be good. We love a good dance routine.

So the first episode was last night and the guy with the "secret" wanted to propose to his girlfriend.  They made a huge, and I mean huge, production out of the proposal and it was a lot of fun and really very sweet.  I was sniffling and crying a bit at just how sweet it was.

And then Howie came up with the brilliant plan to stage the wedding right after the proposal, knowing she might not say yes to the proposal and might not say yes to getting married right then & there.

The whole thing was awesome and I was really getting misty-eyed, right up until the actual wedding.  Then I started sobbing, but not from the joy of how sweet it was.  I sobbed because in 45 of these United States, I cannot marry the woman I've loved for 21 years.  Not in my home state, not in Anita's home state, not in the state we currently live in, not in any state we currently have relatives living in.

And why not?  To preserve the sanctity of marriage.  Huh?  Gay marriage is the biggest threat to heterosexual marriage?  How?  How is it any threat at all?  How does your marriage effect mine and how would mine effect yours?  Wouldn't divorce be a bigger threat?  Latest I've heard is that marriage is for procreation.  Huh?  So my brother shouldn't have been allowed to marry?  If that's the case, why are people so uptight about folks getting knocked up first and then getting married - maybe they were just making sure the sanctity of procreative marriage was maintained?

Anyway, a fucking reality show about production dance numbers hurt my feelings tonight.  Happy f'ing Thursday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Shamrock 1/2 Race Report

What a great weekend with good friends.

Anita, CrazyTrain (J9's new nickname) & I went down to VA Beach Friday night. We picked up our race packets, cruised through the expo with just minutes to spare before closing & ate at Nick's restaurant (local dive on 32nd St). Nick's wasn't really very good (last time it was awesome). Not sure if we were just too late in the evening or not as hungry as last time. Anita had mentioned that she did not want to eat every meal at Nick's. Well, we managed to avoid it a couple of times, but we still ate there 3 times this weekend - it got progressively better.

After checking into the Marriott Courtyard on 37th street, we were disappointed to find ourselves on the 4th floor - we normally have the 10th or 11th floor. But whatever, right, no big deal, right? Actually it was a big deal. The beds were awful - normally they're great. Anita actually got a housekeeper to put an extra quilt on our bed and an extra mattress pad on CrazyTrain's sofabed. That lead to a very nice pre-race sleep, but Marriott will get a bit of an earful on the bed quality and low floor as well as kudo's to Beth the housekeeper who made the situation livable (the hotel was pretty much sold out Fri-Sat nights).

We were so tired on Saturday, that we decided to cut golf short and only play 9, which really was perfect. Had fun introducing CrazyTrain to golf - she is a decent caddy in training. I look forward to her soon to be ninja caddy skills. She was a better golf photographer, but now everyone says I need new pants as my 8 month old pants are too big. Whatever. Let's just see what I look like 3 months after IMTX - could be sitting on the couch straining the seams on these golf pants.

Had a sub & salad as my pre-race meal. That worked out surprisingly well for me. I think I might use that again. The team ate various things - there was way too much fried food on the table if you ask me - that'll slow you down for sure. Lots of pasta and sandwiches. Various degrees of comfort the next day.

So had a good night's sleep which was easy for me as this was just a training run and I needed to run 3 additional miles after the race (instead of heading immediately to the beer tent - very poor planning on my part). Yogurt for breakfast and gu's ready for the road. We tried to get in the Shamrock spirit with some washout green hair dye, but it just made our hair look dirty and greasy - can't wait for the race photo's!

And now for probably my favorite part of the race. The starting line is about 2 blocks from the hotel. How awesome to roll out of the room and hear the gun go off for the first corral start as we just come out of the hotel and still not feel rushed to get to the line for our corral 4 starts. Never saw DS, PH or JS before the race (they seemed to think it important to be on time to the starting line - I submit it was too cold to be outside until the last moment). CrazyTrain had an hour to her BIG ASS race, but still came outside to see us off and wish us luck. That was cool (crazy, but cool).

I start the race with Bad Idea Girl (BIG) and Anita and their pace feels great for the first few minutes. Then I start wondering if I'm lulling them into running faster than they want and I let them know that I'm going to move along. BIG gives me the very accurate reminder speech about the Long Slow Distance I'm doing today and that I'm not after a PR. That I should catch up to the 2:30 pace team and hang with them.

I meant to do that. Really I did. I caught up to that pace team and I got just in front of them, thinking that way I'd know if I was slowing down too much when they passed me. Had a beer at mile 2.67. I was really impressed with that. That is EARLY for a 1/2. So first beer at about 7:30 - going to be an interesting day. Next 3-4 miles went by and I just kept trying to find someone to draft as the headwinds were pretty significant and more than slowing me down, they were keeping me a little too cool. I never really found anyone to draft for very long. When the wind hit big, I'd head for the middle of the road and whatever pack was there. Then I ended up running through them and finding myself by one of the sides of the road. I think I crossed the road more than in any other race - not so much avoiding folks, but because there was no comfortably flat place on these roads. There was either a pretty big difference in the height of each footfall, or the road was very rough and/or stone & gravel filled. Kind of annoying, but not a large concern - just had to keep my head down so I could see the obstacles. We're 2 months from the big race, so NO INJURIES needed.

At mile 8, I realized I was more than halfway through and hadn't really given any thought to doing a negative split, which is always a good thing to try for. So I picked it up a bit, wondering if it was too much to manage for another 5 miles. It felt great. Let me write that again. I felt great - picked the pace up a bit more. I was very aware of the feeling that my turnover was faster than I'd ever been able to carry for any significant distance. Probably had something to do with the headwind now being a tailwind. That's OK. I know it's partly that and partly training. I think a big part training. Had another beer about 3 miles from the finish. Cool.

Skipped a water stop so that I could double high-five a long line of folks begging for it! It was awesome and fun. Made me feel like a little kid, just a bit giddy. Just after that, there were a couple of older folks not high fiving, but loudly cheering and another woman swinging one of those hand-clicky noisemaker thingy's. I still wasn't done high fiving, so I high fived the clicky thing and it made a huge noise! Made a bunch of us laugh.

A few minutes later, PH taps me on the shoulder and asks how I'm doing as we're just a couple of miles from home! It was great to see her and exchange some race reports. She kept saying how great I was doing and I let her know I was going to go ahead and go for the PR as I was running so well. She told me I had it in the bag and we parted ways - she looked strong too.

Had another beer about a mile from the finish (so a pr as I'd never had 3 beers during a race, keeping in mind that a "beer" in this case is just a swig or 2). Makes me nervous to grab a cup from guys by the side of the road, not associated with the Hash House Harriers (drinkers witha running problem), but I had to PR!

Making the turn for the boardwalk, a massive headwind hit, but knowing it was only a couple of hundred yards until it was more of a sidewind made it manageable. Checked the watch and new that I had the PR in the bag, so I started varying my pace to get in an open space for a good finishing picture - forgot that I had greasy grey-green hair. Oh well, I still have the PR: 2:13:13. A pr by over 5 minutes!

A great celebration followed as each of us had good races. BIG persevered when she wasn't feeling well for a lot of the race and lots of new PRs were established.

CrazyTrain completed her first marathon very quickly as we tracked her Lojacked ass on the internet. Sad to know that the updates were a few minutes delayed as we could have seen her at about mile 15 of the marathon. Stood there for 15 minutes before we realized there was no way she hadn't already gone by. At that point, it was too late to catch up with her with the road closures. We were very disappointed, so settled for watching her online progress until she was 5 miles out. Then we headed for the finish line, but only managed to get a couple of pics as she flew by for an awesome finish.

Much more celebrating followed, as it should have. We had a great time with great friends.

Sorry for the long report.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Training failure

Last Saturday, I had a miserable bike ride. I was supposed to ride 70, but wound up quitting after 40 because I hurt so much in my ladyparts. Yes, TMI, I know. But it sucked. Amazingly, as I was cry/whining in the car on the way home, my phone rang. Now all my friends knew I'd be biking & running for 5-6 hours, not 3. Somehow, The Bad Idea Girl (oh, she may not like the new acronym), just knew that I needed her to call. I'd already decided that when she called to see how my ride/run went, I'd let it go to voicemail. But she blindsided me by calling 3 hours early. HTF did she know? One pep talk later, I understood that this wasn't a failure on my part, it was an equipment failure. I like that a lot better. Thanks.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Williamsburg 1/2 Marathon

It sure felt like the right idea Saturday morning during indoor cycling. As everyone else was getting ready for there 14 miler after the bike, I was chilling. Until Susie & Rick reminded me of how hilly Williamsburg is and warning me that the 2nd half of this race was miserably uphill. Sweet.

Then Sunday morning, I realized there was no really good way to plan nutrition for a 1pm race start when you had to be there by 11:30 to register the unregistered peeps and it was an hour away. Figured on consuming plenty of Gu.

What I didn't know is that there are only 4 water stops on the course: at miles 2.5, 6, 7 (!), and 10. WTF. Can't consume Gu without water. So I had Gu at miles 2.5 and 7. I realized at mile 6 that I was starving. This is when I realized that the water stops were literally water stops. No sportsdrink, no fruit, no frills. Wow. That's hardcore. This race cost $50. The shirt is cotton. Water only on the course. Afterwards, I saw 2 water coolers & 2 sportsdrink coolers along with coffee, lemonade & beer. The water & sportsdrink were getting the most action. No one was near the coffee & lemonade. I saw bananas afterward. No fruit. There was a rumor of bagels, but I never saw them. So I'm wondering what my $50 paid for.

Anyway, it was great to ride down with a van full of peeps - I've got to say that going to races with good friends and having a lot of fun for hours and hours before & after races beats the crap out of just racing and heading home. Can't wait to do a race waaaayy out of town with a bunch of good friends....hmmmm... IMTX?

The race itself was good. DB, Patty, J9 and I all agreed that the goal was to start slow - somewhere in the 11 to 11:20 range. Our first mile was 10:15. Uh oh. We talked for another 5 miles about slowing down. We kept trying. But every time we'd hit a downhill, we were under pace. I don't think I was alone worrying about the road back - especially this very nice long downhill we flew through the Golden Horseshoe golf course. Only bright side was the very long uphill we climbed afterward would be a nice lead in back up that the ugly hill.

Bottom line is I didn't even know what my 1/2 marathon PR was before this race. I thought it was either 2:15 or 2:20. Thanks to Rick & Susie, I knew to put that out of my mind and just aim for the official results cut off of 2:30. I finished by my watch in 2:18:39 (and learned that my Garmin puts the course at 13.22 miles - what a bonus). Official results haven't been posted, but I crossed the line at 2:19:45 per the race clock. Later on I learned that my PR for a 1/2 was 2:28:54! Guess there is some good in training because I'm now faster than I was 8 years ago on a tougher course. How sweet is that?

Next up: outdoor biking after 4 months of indoor cycling. I'm very interested to see how that goes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So far, so good

Mea Culpa or whatever. I'm here now, so quit your whining ;-)

Training has been going well. Very well, really. I've dropped a couple more pounds - still several from my overall goal weight, but I'm feeling very fit. Very, very fit.

Training at Maramarc with Trigirls/TriQuest has been very good this "off-season". Ed has been killing us for both the weights & the cycling, which has been very effective. I think I'm faster on the bike (we'll know soon as outdoor cycling starts in just a couple of weeks). My running is getting faster, but more importantly, that nasty little voice that's ALWAYS told me it's OK to walk has been remarkably quiet. A new voice (I think it may be Annn and perhaps J9) is reminding me to push myself on the run. Feeling good, that's nice, but couldn't you go just a bit harder? Cool. I like that voice. I hope it stays with me for the IMTX marathon - I am very excited to take this "new" body and voice out for a IM spin, but also very afraid of bonking.

ProKaren has helped my swimming. I still need to find a Masters swim that I can be awake for and then not yawn through the entire workday AND that doesn't interfere with cycling. If you're reading this, please come swim with me.

I had a great time at the VA Beach 14k this weekend. Not so much the running - what a miserable course - but the company made up for it all. Would have been even more fun with our missing peeps, but still a good time. And we found a cheap, excellent restaurant: Nick's on 30th St in VA Beach. Doesn't look like much and the wine selection should be skipped, but the food was really good. So good that we went back for lunch on Saturday after having dinner there on Friday. Highly recommended.

Looking forward to the 1/2 Shammy and spending more time with my Peeps!