Monday, April 27, 2009

I need a hug

I am not a happy camper today. I am cranky, tired, sore, and in pain. Trying to focus on the positives and snap out of it. The goal now is to get through the day.

After barely finishing the race yesterday, I tried to be smart about recovery. There was a pretty good spread of food available for racers: pizza, bagels, bananas, pretzels, cookies. Of course I had no appetite whatsoever. I forced myself to drink a powerade.

Before hitting the road I ate a banana. On the long drive home I made myself drink about 2 bottles of water and eat about a third of a bagel.

I think I need to be better about recovery nutrition, and am looking for advice on what to do.

When I got home I ate and drank what I could. I knew I needed to eat but my appetite just wasn’t there.

I think my system was in shock. I was so tired. But sleep just was not what on my body’s agenda. I tried to go to sleep several times. A couple hours later (around 10:30) I finally drifted off only to wake up two hours later with hunger pains.

Fortunately I thought ahead, knowing that middle-of-the-night hunger often strikes after a hard day. I had planned out what I would eat and went straight to the kitchen to eat my banana and peanut butter.

Back to bed for about 5 more semi-restful hours, and then I woke up about an hour before the alarm. I hate that.

I am sore today, but I am used to that. My foot hurts, but icing it seems to help and I am not really worried about it. What is really bothering me is chafing. Not so much chafing exactly, as we went beyond chafing to now having an open wound. Ummm, let’s just say the new black and hot pink tri shorts looked excellent, but were, umm, problematic.

You know when something hurts, and then you see how bad it looks and then it starts to hurt worse. Yeah. I started to cry when I saw how bad it is. I don’t even know how to treat it. The thought of Neosporin makes me want to scream.

I am at work (shhhh, no blogging at the office). I probably should have taken the day off. But what I am going to do? Take a day off after every race? My boss is not an athlete and doesn’t understand this craziness. He has made that clear. Maybe I should change sections and work for the guy who is a competitive cyclist. He would understand.

I will be okay. I need to hydrate and take care of myself today.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Duathlon Nationals (the Wet T-Shirt Contest)

[I know you’re curious about the title. I’ll explain later.]

It was a tough day today. Here’s an overview:

I finished
No medical attention required
My popliteus (knee) didn’t hurt
Positive impact on the race
Time with great friends and fellow club members
Good training day
Race numbers did not require scrubbing to remove (they mixed with sunblock and sweated off)
Great leftover pasta waiting for me at home as a post-race meal
No sunburn
A rest day tomorrow is completely justified
I now have a good system for securing Miss Piggy for transport
I pretty much stayed in the appropriate HR zone
There are way more positives than negatives

It. Was. HOT! Really, really hot
I got nowhere near my goal time
Ouch! Foot pain

That’s a lot, huh? I had a really long drive back from Richmond to think about all of this. I am really enjoying this blogging thing. I don’t know if anyone other than Robyn is reading, but I am enjoying writing.

As you probably gathered, today I participated in the Duathlon Nationals in Richmond (10k run, 40k bike, 5k run).

Nationals – doesn’t that make you think championships? Yeah, me, too. Well, rumor has it that the duathlon folks weren’t receiving as much interest as they’d like, and long story short, the race director asked the DC Tri Club (of which I'm a member; not to be confused with my team: Team Z) to help increase participation.

There was no requirement/qualification for entry, and the Tri Club even offered an incentive for participation. (I need to look into that – I think there was a $10 reimbursement or something.) Oh, and did I mention the schwag (I did on Facebook). All entrants received transition backpacks, gender-specific performance shirts, baseball caps, and engraved pint glasses for finishers. (They had me at backpacks.) What the heck, I thought. It will be a good training event.

It was around 10:30 am and it was already in the 80’s and humid. I jogged around a little bit to “warm” up. Ha! At 10:50-ish, the 30-34 females gathered in the starting area. I looked around and knew. Just knew. The ladies looked like they should be at “Nationals.”

At most races, there are a variety of body types. However, this was one fit group. No matter, though. I wasn’t there to win. I compete against myself. The run started and I intentionally took it slow. I swear, I lost sight of most of the ladies within a couple of minutes. Seriously, I never saw them again.

There were 2 ladies in my age group who were about my speed at the beginning. I saw them a lot on that first 10k. I am happy to report that I paced myself, and consequently passed them later on in the 10k. There were another 2 who were slower and I didn’t see them again either.

The race course was crazy. Hilly with odd terrain. What is odd? Well, at one point we ran on gravel on the very the edge of the railroad tracks along a hill (very narrow and very easy to fall or twist and ankle) and then turned around at the end of the train that was parked there, crossed over the tracks, and ran on the other edge of the gravelly tracks. Ugh. My race was called the “On-Road Age Group Championps.” There was an off-road competition later this afternoon. I’d hate to see what they had to do.

I am not sure about my times. My wonderful Polar SD-200 heart rate monitor watch was stolen a few weeks ago. I am currently using an old Polar watch which has issues. Among these is the “quirk” that the watch spontaneously turns itself off and resets. Fun.

Transition was difficult. I was hot and tired, even though I paced myself. I took my time. I was kind of shocked that I now needed to bike 25 miles.


I don’t have much to say about the bike part. It stunk. I just kept pedaling (sometimes telling myself to do so out loud). I thought it was a two lap course until I saw a fellow club member on my second lap. He started before me, is fast, and I knew was ahead of me. I knew the mileage on my bike computer was off, but I just figured my bike computer wasn’t working. Wishful thinking. I still had another lap to go. Oops.

Probably the best part of the bike course was the ice water. Nope, not provided by the race. Courtesy of my knight in shining armor. The race was a very staggered race start. My long time training partner, and best friend, had started - and finished - his race before I even started. Lucky him for beating the worst of the heat. But he stuck around (for a looong time) to cheer me on and support me. And since we passed the transition area many times on the bike course (twice on each of the three laps), I got to see him and other cheering club members a lot.

During one of the earlier passes, I handed off one of my water bottles. The reason? I can’t really access the rear water bottle on my bike. I finished the first bottle, and couldn’t figure out how to switch them while I was moving. So I gave my knight the empty bottle. Yes, I need to work on this for future races.

During the next pass, he offered me my bottle – refilled. With ICE water. By now it was in the 90’s (my bike computer said 105 degrees. It felt like 105 degrees to me, but I am pretty sure that wasn’t correct.) Ice water was a welcome treat. Of course, getting anything not from the official aid stations is strictly prohibited. I didn’t care. I would have gladly taken a penalty (or disqualification). I received a couple of ice-water refills. Thank you!

Along the way I saw no less than 8 different people on the ground receiving medical attention. Heat issues seemed to be the culprit (no evidence of blood or damaged bikes). I focused on staying in my HR zone, keeping my cadence close to 90 rpm, and hydrating (with ICE water).

I was so happy to get back to transition and be done with that ridiculous and very long ride. Except I still had another 5k to go. Sigh. The plan was simply to keep moving and keep my heart rate in zone 4.

Towards the end of the ride, however, my foot started to hurt. Kill, actually. A pain I had never felt before. It felt like there was a nail in middle of my foot, on the outer edge of my arch. Ouch!!! It is still there.

I tried to run my bike into transition. Then I tried to walk my bike into transition. Both hurt like hell. Standing still wasn't so great, either.

A few minutes into the run (I mean the shuffle for 30 seconds, walk for 30 seconds) I stopped, sat on a bench, took off my shoe and tried to massage my foot. Pointless. And painful. But the good news was that it hit me that I had thought about my popliteus once that day. Hooray!

Around the mile 2 marker I saw someone familiar walking along. I had almost caught him on the bike course. He was 21, which means that he started at least 30 minutes after me.

How did I know how old he was? Triathlon (and duathlon) has an interesting tradition. After writing your race number of all of your limbs in permanent black marker, they write your age on your calf.

I learned why at my last race. It is so you know who you’re competing against since for the sake of awards you are competitng against those in your age group. I guess this could motivate you to catch or pass people. Personally, I just like looking at people’s ages. Especially the those like the 83-year old woman at the Patriots Tri last year. Inspiring! (I want to be her.)

Anyhow, I caught up to Mr. 21-year-old and I told him that he couldn’t let me pass him. I suggested that we run 1 minute together, and walk 30 seconds. He was on board. And this is how we finished the last mile and half of the race. When I encouraged him to go on. He said, “No, I’m running with you.” I didn’t focus on how bad I hurt, and I’d like to think that I got him to the finish line quicker than he would have otherwise.

I don’t yet know my final time or where I placed. I know my time was way, way off from what I had hoped. (I wasn’t expecting the hills or the heat).

I just know that I finished and didn’t collapse on the ground.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to help out the new triathletes in the club with their training run. My job was “sweep” – aka run at the back and make sure no one gets left behind. I wound up running with a lovely new triathlete who said something I thought of all day today: it takes guts to show up and come in last. Well said!

I could have stayed home. I could have slept in. I could have gone to brunch. But I GOT IT DONE. Another race under my belt. Yay me!

Oh, and why was it a wet t-shirt contest? On the run course someone brilliant had the idea to equip the volunteers at the aid stations with hoses in addition to water and powerade. Here I was in my white top (and white sports bra) and I didn’t care. I relished the hose downs. It turns out that my top did not become transparent, but I had fun teasing the volunteers about the situation.

It was a hard day, but I am better for it. I can't think of anything I could have or should have done differently.

I thought a lot about Ironman today. Hopefully it will not be 95 degrees in Florida in November. I will get through the Ironman just like I got through today. Slow and steady. Racing smart.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A week in the life of an aspiring Ironwoman

Some of you might be wondering what I am doing during the 15-25 hours per week I am training. So let me tell you about my this week.

Training weeks start on Mondays. I had a run scheduled for the AM (before work) and a weight lifting session scheduled for the PM (usually my lunch break).

Well, I didn’t sleep well the night before. I believe sleep is ESSENTIAL and is the foundation of health. If you are sleep deprived, your immunity decreases, as does your body’s ability to repair itself. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that sleep is one of my top priorities.

I decided not to get up at 5:30 and give myself a little more shuteye. I had plans that night so I couldn’t shift a workout to the evening. Therefore, I decided to combine workouts by run and weight workouts at my midday (lunchtime) workout.

I ran on the treadmill for 40 minutes in zone 2 (medium to light effort). Then a break, some stretching and ab work, followed by strength training (slightly shortened due to time constraints, but I got it done).

Up at 4:30 am for a swim workout. I swam. For almost an hour. That’s all I feel like saying about swimming.

The second workout of the day was cycling. This week was to be the first official Conte’s Tuesday Night Ride of the season. This ride is killer. Perhaps in a future post I will share with you the joy I experienced (not!) at my first Conte’s ride. (Would it surprise to hear that I got lost? Sensing a theme?)

I have a love-hate relationship with this ride. I know it is good for me, but it is so darn difficult because of the killer hills that I really dread it. But I go. Call me a glutton for punishment.

This would be my first Conte's ride as a team member and I was excited because Coach Ed promised me I would get some coaching. I got home and quickly got ready to go. I pedaled up the steep ramp of my parking garage, hit the street and whoosh, the wind hit me. It felt like a freakin’ tornado was coming. And it was drizzling. I turned right out of the garage, right around the building, right again, and then made a final right turn back into the parking garage. Ugh!

I was so frustrated. I needed a bike workout. Was I just being a wuss for not wanting to ride over to Conte’s? I flashbacked to the awful, grueling, ride I did in the freezing rain just a few weeks ago. I was NOT doing that again. No way.

So I rode around the garage for a few minutes as I mulled it over. And then about 10 minutes had passed and I thought, okay, I’ll just put in a good 20 minute ride and then go upstairs and cook dinner.

I rode up and down the garage ramps. I wove around the parked cars and poles. I got to 20 minutes and I was having a pretty good time. I was in a groove. I remembered how just a year ago those ramps *killed* me. Seriously. Sometimes I would take Ms. Piggy up the elevator to avoid the incredible effort that was required for me to make it up the ramp. I was began practicing pedal stroke, gearing, and I was flying. Woo-hoo.

I kept going until I got to 40 minutes. I spent the last 10 minutes zooming around the garage working on handling around the beams, and practicing getting into and out of the aero position. (I have aero bars (see below) on my bike which allow me to lean down on them and become more aerodynamic. In other words, I go faster. It takes a lot of practice to be comfortable here and I’m making progress.)

By the end, I had ridden around in circles for a total of about 10 miles. Not too shabby. If you had told me that I would have such a good workout in the garage I wouldn’t have believed you. And if you’d suggested it, I would have dreaded spending that much time in the dark garage riding nowhere. But it was fun. Yay for me for making the most of the situation.

[By the way, it turns out Conte’s cancelled the ride because of the thunderstorm. I learned this through various facebook status updates which indicated that the riders had instead gone out for fajitas and beers. Ha!]

Wednesday morning means track workouts. Yay! Or Boo. Okay, yay. These are a nice change of pace for me. [Thanks Coach Ed for succumbing to my plea to make the workout earlier.]

Team Z offers 16 different training plans – which one you choose is based on your goals and your base training level. This week’s workout for me read

10’ w/u, 4 x 20” sprints, Full R, 3 x 1 mile HZ3/LZ4, R/2’, W/D.

In English, that means warmup for 10 minutes, do 4 20-second sprints (recovering fully between each one), then run a mile in heart rate zones 3 and 4, then recover for 2 minutes, then do two more miles the same way.

It was a great workout. The sprints were fun, and are something I haven’t really done since HS track practice. [The secret is out: I was on the HS track team. I was best at the triple jump because of my background as a gymnast. I was also a sprinter. None of this prepared me for my six marathons or triathlons.]

Wednesday afternoon was supposed to be the second strength training session of the week. However, I was stuck at a conference and couldn’t get the gym for my usual lunchtime break. My plan to lift after work went out the window when I got home and decided that there would be a greater benefit to my well-being if I took the hour to clean and straighten up my condo. I "cooled down" by watching some Oprah on the DVR.

In any case, this weekend is a race weekend, and I didn’t want to risk having sore muscles for the race. [I am veering from the team's workout/race chedule for this one.]

Thursday AM – another crack of dawn swim. This time I managed to get a coach to give me some helpful pointers. It was beneficial. Still, the 60 minutes dragged by. Slowly.

Thursday PM – The schedule called for an interval workout (10’ W/U, 5’ SLD, 2 x12’ Z4/5a R/2’, 10’ W/D) but since I am racing this weekend (Richmond Duathlon) I decided to take it easy and do 40 minutes (zone 2) on the spin bike.

Ah, the beloved rest day. Sleep in. Go out to lunch. Let those tired muscles recover. This week it is my quads and abs that are talking to me.

Usually, Saturday is the long run day. The schedule calls for a 13 mile, zone 2 run. Since I am racing, I will do an easy brick (30 min bike/15 min ride) instead.

Sunday’s schedule this week calls for a 50-mile bike ride in the morning, and a swim workout in the evening. I think I’d rather do the scheduled workouts, but I am already signed up for the Richmond National Duathlon (10k run, 25 mile ride, 5 k run), so that will be it for me.

Now you don’t have to wonder why: a) I’m tired; b) you haven’t seen/heard much from me lately.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The 7 days since I decided to officially register for Ironman Florida feel like forever. In some ways it just feels very natural. Like this is something I just need to do. That is, as long as I don’t think about how far the swim is, or how long I will be competing. When I do that, I am once again certain that I have completely lost my mind.

As I mentioned before, I registered for the race through the the Community Fund. That means that $775 of my $1300 registration fee is designated for the North American Sports Community Foundation. The Foundation helps those in the community who support Ironman events, with a heavy emphasis on providing sports opportunities for children.

I am asking you help me raise money for the part my entry fee that goes to the charity. However, it is my hope that we can go above and beyond this level and raise much more than $775.

As many of you know, I volunteer for a local charity called Doorways for Women and Families. Doorways' operates two shelters in Arlington for victims of domestic violence and homeless families. It is a remarkable organization and I have seen first hand the impact that they have on their clients and the community. Therefore, any money that I raise above $775 I will give directly to Doorways. My goal is to donate at least $1000 to them.

I am really thrilled to be embarking on this journey and truly appreciate the support of my wonderful family and friends. If you would like to donate to my cause, please click on the link below to use paypal. If you would prefer another method, please contact me. I will certainly not refuse cash, checks, food, hugs, etc.

Thank you so much!!!! You have no idea how much your support means to me.

For more info on Doorways for Women and Families: or the Ironman Community Fund:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Quick Update

The brick-nic on Saturday was a success. I was not as speedy as I was hoping, but the bike course was less arduous than I remembered it being last year. I am still no speed demon, but I think it would not be unfair to say that I have improved. Progress!

The run was tougher than I remember, though. It was warmer, which may have been a factor. I shuffled along for much of it, but I couldn’t get my heart rate to stay down. Anytime I approached anything close to a jog my heart rate seriously shot up. That’s a problem. I have emailed my coach about that.

The popliteus is still an issue. Grrrr. I am learning to work through it, though I know that is not the right answer. I know, I know…I should ice it. But it doesn’t hurt right nowwwww.

Oh, and yes, hot dog attained. Ironically, I wasn’t really hungry and forced myself to eat it. I can think of worse things to eat when you don’t feel like eating.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Great Response and Columbia Brick-Nic

It has been a few days and the decision to register for Ironman is beginning to sink in. I am overwhelmed by all of the support I have felt from everyone. Thank you! I get emotional just thinking about it. Please keep it coming.

While I have received almost all positive reactions, some of the negative reactions have taken me by surprise. No worries, though. I know that I want to do this. I know that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. Sure, this will not be easy. It will be time consuming. It is way more swimming and biking than I have ever done before. But as a good friend often tells me, if it is not hard, why do it.

On Wednesday. my fabulous, wonderful, genius chiropractor (Dr. Keith Schreffler – worked me over. He identified the issue as my popliteus muscle. It was seriously on fire, and I think he fixed it. Yesterday’s spin session was fine. Fingers are crossed for this weekend.

Speaking of this weekend, tomorrow is the big day. No, not a race. The annual DC Tri Club Columbia Brick-nic. If you’re not familiar with the term brick, it means doing back-to-back workouts involving two disciplines, most commonly cycling and running. (I heard that it is called a brick because that is how your legs feel as you start running after getting off the bike.) Tomorrow’s event is called the brick-nic because after we bike and run we have a big cookout (picnic). Get it? Fun times!

Last year, the brick-nic was a tough day for me. Columbia is known for being an extremely difficult course. Thanks to my co-worker and friend Joe for convincing me way back when - late 2007 - to sign up for Columbia as my first tri ever. So last year, I showed up at the brick-nic, which is designed as a prep for the actual Columbia Triathlon, totally unprepared for what was about to occur.

It was a comedy of errors. Most who know me have heard about this day. So many mistakes:

  • I didn’t know how to properly inflate my tires (in other words, I felt them, they weren’t flat, so I figured I was good to go). I was riding around with them half inflated, which makes pedaling much more difficult.
  • I had my tire on incorrectly, and the brakes were rubbing against in the whole time. That’ll slow you down.
  • I forgot my cue sheet (aka directions). I had no idea where I was going.
  • I did not yet own a bike jersey, and wore clothes with no pockets. I had no place to store my phone, or more importantly, my gels. [Gels are liquid nutrition that athletes use while training/racing.] I stuck the gels in the leg of my shorts, and lost them in the first 15 minutes.
  • I was not yet comfortable enough on the bike to reach for an use my water bottle.

I got lost. I struggled on each and every hill. I was hungry. I was tired.

Did I mention getting lost? That really hurt. I wound up doing 30 miles instead of 25. It was terrible and so frustrating. I just kept telling myself that when I got back to the park I would be rewarded with a hot dog. My favorite summertime junk food.

I finally made it back from the ride and my fellow club members were all hanging out having lunch (having already finished the bike AND the run). I longingly gazed at the grill, but a couple of folks convinced me I should do the brick and go for a short run.

I did about 2.5 miles, which took about 30 minutes. By the time I got back there was NO FOOD. Nothing. Everything was packed up. Grills were off. That is when I lost it. It had been about 3.5 hours of stress, hard work, and frustration. I was soooo hungry. I was overwhelmed. And I was upset because this day did not bode well for the upcoming triathlon. What had I gotten myself into. All I wanted was a hot dog!!

That said, my friends, tomorrow I am going to ROCK the Columbia course.

*Now I have Ms. Piggy (who is not only much prettier than my old borrowed bike, but is lighter, has much better components, and actually fits me properly).

*I have learned about proper pedal stroke and hill climbing.

*I have pockets in my shirt and shorts, AND I also have a bento box (it holds gels, tissues, keys, money…whatever I want). See left.

*I have binder clips which I will use to hold the cue sheet that I will remember to bring.

*Most notably, I have friends in the club now – unlike last year when I was a newbie and didn’t know anyone. I have these phone numbers programmed into my phone – and the phone will not be in the back of my pants sliding down to my crotch. Okay, TMI. Sorry.

*If need be, I will use said phone to call these nice friends and request that they save me a hot dog this time.

I am still slow. But I am a better cyclist. I am nervous, but excited. I have a debt to settle with Columbia. Tomorrow I will practice the course. In one month, I will conquer it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It is official! I'm registered!

I am so absolutely excited (and a little queasy)! I just registered for Ironman Florida. (I’ve never had to submit my medical insurance in a race registration before.)

What have I done???

I registered for the Community Fund. Stay tuned as I hit you all up for donations. More about that later.


PS - In case you're not familiar, I'll be swimming 2.4 miles (more than double the distance I have ever done before), biking 112 miles (roughly three times as far as I have ever gone) and running 26.2 (old hat).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Pasta, bread, rice, cereal, CUPCAKES. Are they really so bad? According to Friel and the Paleo diet, carbs are okay, but only at certain times (and in certain amounts). These times are pretty much right before, during, and after workouts. The rest of time the Paleo diet recommends eating a combination of lean meats (including fish/seafood) and fruits and vegetables.

I had a really good swim this morning. I decided to forego (aka skip) the team workout at 5:30 am and sleep later and swim at the local HS pool (aka dirty, nasty, ghetto pool) since I had a doctor’s appointment that allowed me a later morning departure. Like I said, the swim went well. I swam longer and further than I ever have on my own before. The whole time I was feeling pretty impressed with myself.

When I was done, however, I calculated how far I went, and then that little nagging voice that chides “you’re a slowpoke” started creeping into my head. I know, I know, I’ve come so far. I am really proud of myself. Last year at this time I had never swam the .9 miles that is part of an Olympic distance tri. And this morning I did it, no problem. And I swam freestyle the entire time.

I started to ask myself what I have to do to get faster. Keep practicing. And practicing. I am. What else? Well, I can slim down a little. That would help me in all three parts of a tri. So what would that take? Thankfully, I am at a healthy weight. Admittedly, I could lose a few pounds. But the truth is, I love food.

So the question is whether it is worth whatever sacrifices would be necessary for me to lose a few pounds. I don’t know. In all likelihood, I am never going to get on the podium at a triathlon. There is no money or other tangible award as an incentive for me to finish a race faster? Why, then, do I work so hard to get better? Is it worth affecting my enjoyment of food?

I love, love, luuuuuuv carbs. Truth be told, I’d more easily become a vegetarian, even a vegan, than give up my carbs. [I’ve tried it and it ain’t pretty.] Yes, I love cupcakes, but really I don’t eat them that often. The problem is that whole grains are the backbone of my diet. Shredded wheat or oatmeal for breakfast, yogurt with low fat granola as a morning snack, stir-fry or something with brown rice/whole wheat pasta for lunch.

I will be giving this some thought as I continue to train. Thoughts welcome.

For more info on the Paleo diet, see

Monday, April 13, 2009

Another All-Triathlon Weekend

It is another Monday morning following an all triathlon weekend.

Saturday: Morning Run and Friel Clinic

The weekend began with a run with the team out at Pierce Mill. This is a nice little spot in Rock Creek Park. The DC Tri Club often has events here, but I have never known where it was or how to get there. It was time that I changed that. It turns out that I have run past here a few times. Unfortunately, the weather stunk despite the forecasts that indicated that the rain had a 90% chance of staying away at that hour. Not fair! It was in the low 40’s and raining. Put in 11 steady zone 2 miles with the ladies, averaging slightly sub-11/minute miles. Some very interesting conversation made the earlier part of the run flyyy by. Piercings and tattoos…enough said.

Next up was the 8-hour clinic hosted by triathlon gurus Joe Friel and Ken Mierke. I was really excited about this. I got home and took a (short) hot bath in order to stop myself from shivering. I put on a bathing suit and sweats, grabbed some nutrition, and headed back out the door in under 40 minutes. Ugh.

The clinic started with pool time. Drills and some individual coaching. The highlight of this was “Swim Golf.” Basically, you swim as fast as you can for 50 meters and count your strokes. You add your number of strokes to your time for your score. Then you swim at a nice, easy pace for 50 meters, again counting strokes. The idea is to compare the numbers. The lesson, of course, is that swimming hard and fast just wears you out and that it is more efficient for you to swim at a slower pace and take fewer strokes. I won’t share my actual numbers (mostly because I can’t remember) but suffice it to say I am still slow.

Other interesting notes from the day included a seminar on climbing from Mierke, which I had heard before. It was worth hearing again. The basic premise is that your pedal stroke should be a triangle – from 12 o’clock, to (around) 4 o’clock, to (around) 8 o’clock. The most important of these three sides is the third one – from 8 to 12, where your hip flexors should be doing the bulk of the work. Next, you want to focus on the 4 to 8 stroke straight back, instead of pushing down on the pedal. I began incorporating this approach in early March and it made a tremendous difference in my cycling.

There was also a very controversial presentation by Joe Friel on the Paleo diet. It included a discussion of race day nutrition. Friel believes that athletes are too concerned with hydration, and that we’ve been given a “bill of goods” when it comes to the whole electrolytes/sodium/potassium school of thought. He believes in nothing but water for the first 90 minutes of any workout/race. After that, water only when you’re thirsty, and approximately 200-300 calories of carbs per hour. I’ll leave it at that. If you want to hear more, let me know.

Sunday: Long ride and Team Z picnic

Departed Arlington at 7:30 am to reach Boyce, VA for a long, team ride. The ride coordinator said that the 80 minute drive would be worth it, and I would have to agree. 44 beautiful, rolling zone 2 miles took me around 4 hours with a number of stops (traffic, eating, adjusting my cue sheet umpteen million times).

Afterwards I was handsomely rewarded by a Team Z cookout. This flexitarian (definition: one who eats a mostly vegetarian diet) loves her hot dogs. Such a great treat after a tough workout. I enjoyed a hot dog, a grilled chicken sandwich, a bag of chips, and a cupcake (someone brought some delicious, Easter-colored, homemade cupcakes). Hey, I burned close to 1500 calories.

3 hours of driving, 4 hours of riding, 1 hour of hanging out, and there went the day and the weekend. Home for a shower and a short nap. I just barely had enough energy left to go get groceries for the week and then I was out of time and energy.

Today is the first day of recovery week. Hallelujah! This means the workouts are fewer, shorter, and easier. No strength training this week (hooray – 2 fewer workouts right there). No biking tomorrow (yes! Lunch plans, perhaps?). Still waking up at 4:30 on Tuesday and Thursday for the swims, but because I only have one workout per day on Monday and Wednesday, I can sleep a little longer and do my runs at lunch.

PS – For those paying attention, my leg issue (back of my knee) was better last week, but started acting up again this weekend. It wasn’t as excruciating as it was last weekend, but it hurts. I know I should ice it. I have emailed my PT/chiro guy and will see him on Wednesday. We’ll see how today’s lunchtime run goes.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Minor Setback

It was not a great weekend for this triathlete. The training plan called for a 40-mile bike ride on Saturday. Nothing too unusual about that. Except that the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler (for which I registered in December) was the following day. Hmmmm.

Usually, this runner would take it very easy the day before a race. Naturally, I wanted to set a PR. Although I’ve only done one other ten-mile race (Army Ten Miler 10/08) I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would approach this race and was excited to get it done.

Saturday morning I drove out to the Plains for the group ride. It was WINNNNdy! I must digress to tell you about how my beloved bike, Ms. Piggy (a 2009 Trek Madone 5.1 – with hot pink handlebar tape) narrowly escaped the jaws of death, and I barely avoided a fatal heart attack. As I drove out Route 66, I commented to my new teammate that my bike didn’t look quite right on my (spare tire-mounted) bike rack. I studied my rear view for a while I dismissed the thought as paranoia.

So now we’re flying down 66 to get to the ride on time. And holy &%*&^& - I glance behind me and see Piggy is dangling. I mean, hanging by - I don’t know - a thread!?! I can’t even remember what exactly I saw, but my heart stopped. We pulled over to the (very scary) shoulder, and jumped out without getting run over. BOTH of the rack straps had become detached and the poor girl was THIS close to death. Seriously. She had gradually twisted herself off the rack and was barely hanging on. It is a freakin miracle that I didn’t lose my precious bike that morning. I think that my new teammate didn’t engage the strap correctly, and that the other side detached because it couldn’t handle the weight of the bike and loosened the strap. Deep breath. Not a good start to the day. The good news is that I my bike didn’t meet her demise and I will triple check the straps from now on.

Somewhere in the first part of the ride, my leg started to hurt. The area behind my knee just started really bothering me. As I rode on, it kept getting worse and worse. And worse. And by the time I finished my 33 miles (it was supposed to be 40) I was so totally grateful to be finished. It hurt to walk.

I asked a few teammates and my coach, but no one had anything constructive to offer other than I should go to the doctor. Gee, thanks. I started becoming really concerned about whether I would be able to race the next day. I drove the hour home, quickly showered and changed, and turned it around to head to packet pickup and the race expo. By the time I got out of my car, my leg hurt to the point of causing me to limp. Ouch. Not a happy camper.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. When I woke up, the few steps to the bathroom were painful. Jogging in place also really hurt. I thought about Kerri Strug, and how she worked through a broken ankle to capture the gold. But I’m not an Olympic athlete. I gave it a lot of thought, and to make a long story short, there was no Cherry Blossom 10-miler for me this year. I always say that the goal is the race in 2050. I want to be healthy and strong when I am in my 70’s. That means making good decisions now. There’s always next year.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Roughly one month ago, my life as a triathlete changed. That is when I began my membership with a local triathlon training group - Team Z. The team consists of about 300 triathletes of all ability levels. I began my journey with around 50 other new-Z-ers, not knowing exactly what we were in for That is when I think I started losing my mind....

Here we are four weeks later, and my attempts to quell the notion that I can complete an Ironman triathlon are proving futile. I am not sure what is going on. Last fall I toyed with the notion of completing an Ironman in 2009. That was, until a very painful pre-marathon training run.

Through the pain and exhaustion of that run I asked myself how it would have been to have first swum 2.4 miles and biked 112. Yeah, right. I've never even done more than 40 miles on my bike.

And my swim? If you know me, you've heard about my relationship with the pool (and the open water). It is quite hilarious (well, to me). When I was a kid, my mom called me a fish because I loved the water and practically had to be dragged out of the pool. [Or was it because I am a Pisces?] As it turns out, I am great at floating and I do a beautiful underwater handstand. But freestyle (known as the crawl stroke during my childhood fishie days)? Not!

Lest you think I am exaggerating about my poor swimming ability, allow me to share with you my results from my first triathlon season. At Columbia last year I placed 1695 out of 1730 participants in the swim. That’s right. Only 35 people were slower than me. A few months later I actually swam about 3 minutes *slower* (albeit, minus the wetsuit I had the first time around) and was number 104 out of 112 for the swim.

The worst part about it? No, not the anxiety of swimming in the open water. I actually do alright with that. Not the actual swimming in the dirty, disgusting, mucky water while being trampled on by dozens of faster swimmers that start in the waves after me.

What stinks the most about my poor swimming ability is the fact that the swim exhausts me. By the time I make it out of the water I am ready for a nap.

So, I am working on that. And on my biking. My running is okay. There is room for improvement, but I feel like after 6 marathons, I know how to do it.

Yet somehow, after just a month of serious training, I am trying to wrap my mind around the idea of completing Ironman Florida in just 7 short months. So I am starting this blog, because I know what kind of training this will entail. I have already experienced the limitations on my social life. That happens when you go to bed at 8:30 to wakeup at 4:30 am. Yes, 4:30 in the freakin A.M. (It is dark when I get up, it is dark when I get to the pool, and it is still dark after I swim for an hour and drive home (eastbound) in rush hour traffic).

For those that are interested, I plan to write about my training and the inevitable ups and downs of this endeavor. Hopefully they’ll be more ups than downs. I feel confident that my coach knows what he is doing, and he seems pretty sure that I can do this.