Monday, August 31, 2009

Training Camp

It is a recovery week. Finally. I don’t really feel like posting today. I just kinda want to forget the weekend. But I’m writing ….

So like it or not, I will briefly discuss the “IMFL training camp” and my first century ride.


Saturday was my first ever century ride (100 miles). I did it! The weather was great (despite concerns that Tropical Storm Danny would bring rain and strong winds). We were pretty lucky on that front.

I won’t go into all of the gory details about the day. There was riding. And riding. And riding. Unfortunately almost my entire ride was solo. There were errors on the cue sheet. There were mean motorists screaming at me for no apparent reason as I safely and carefully rode in the shoulder. There wasn’t quite enough nutrition.

Mid way through the ride I seriously thought about stopping. I just wanted to quit. Quit the century ride. Quit training for Ironman. I cried for a little while. Eventually I just snapped out of it. I’d have to say that was my lowest point of my journey so far. Let’s hope that is as bad as it gets.

By the end, I was fried and I was not a cheerful girl. I’m chalking it up to having my cranky pants on that day and vowing not to do that again. I really tried to be positive but I just wasn’t having a great day.

I feel bad for being a sourpuss after the ride. I just felt really crappy (tired, sore, frustrated) and I didn’t feel like being sociable.

The ride took me a long time. While I have honestly come to grips with my slowness on the bike, the fact that it took me as long as it did has me questioning my ability to make the cutoff times as IMFL. [There are time limits for each part of the Ironman. Everyone needs to finish the swim and bike within 10:30 hours of the start of the race to be allowed to begin the run.]

I didn’t realize until today that there were stops on Saturday's ride that I didn’t account for. Like the 10 minutes I spent on the phone with our ride director trying to get directions. So maybe there’s hope. Sigh.

It will be fine. I’ve decided that even if they take my chip away because I don’t get back from the bike in time, I WILL finish the race. I know if I can get out on the run course I will run those 262 miles. If I have to do it without a timing chip, I will. Even if I do so unofficially, I will get it done. So there! I’m back to my old spunky self. :)

As a recovery treat from my pissy ride, we headed over the beach to feel the sand on our toes. We spent just a little bit of time on the beach and got our feet in the ocean. I am so glad for that. Then, while I was drying off laying on my beach towel, a bee decided to visit me in my brightly-colored swimsuit. After successfully swatting him away twice, I thought I was in the clear.


Damn that bee sting hurt! Got me right on the bottom of my hand, right above my wrist. Grrrrr. At least he didn’t get me before the ride. That would have sucked. And the good news is that the bee sting was the worst physical symptom to report that day. Did I mention that I RODE 100 MILES?!?


The next morning was an 8-mile run and ocean swim. The run was good. I realized once I started that I was sorer than I had realized. But I had a nice run that reminded me that I do have some athletic ability.


The waves breaking were pretty hard because of the storm. Somehow after swimming for just a little while, I managed to get completely pummeled by the ocean.

Hours later salt water was still coming out of my nose. I’m not kidding. Fortunately I was able to stay calm. That’s something.

I didn’t get anymore swimming in after that. Guess I’ll just have to wait until Bermuda to practice my ocean swimming.


In the midst of my sleeplessness last night, I realized what a truly challenging couple of weeks it has been. Since August 15th I have done one Olympic-distance race on a hot and hilly course; I have completed 18 workouts, including speed work, a 90 mile ride, a 100 mile ride, a 16 mile run, and 8 mile run and I had a little ocean adventure. No wonder I’m exhausted.

This recovery week will be savored. There are still two big training weeks and an half Ironman remaining and I will be ready for them. Now it is time to back off the training a bit and catch up on the sleep I didn’t get this weekend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


It may come as a surprise to anyone who knows me that anything about me is deemed normal. :) But alas, word from the doctor's office is that all of my bloodwork came back normal. Hmmmm.

So there.

I guess I will get a good deep conditioner, keep taking my vitties, and see what happens.

The neurologist appointment is in a few weeks. Although the numbness in my hands is certainly not normal, I am sure it is nothing to worry about.

Thanks for all the concern!

Meanwhile, I'm getting in all of my workouts. This weekend I'm heading to IMFL training camp, which means lots of ocean swimming, lots of biking (my first century: 100 miles) and a bit of running. Fun times!

Monday, August 24, 2009

90 miles. Check.

Woah! What a weekend. All triathlon...all the time.

Yesterday morning, my buddy and teammate Ryan kindly picked me up for our 90 mile ride out of Easton, Maryland. I warned him that it would take me much longer to do the ride, and hence he'd have to wait around a while for me to finish, but he said he didn't mind. So nice! Thanks, Ryan.

The plan for the day was to get in the miles, stay in [my new] zone 2, and see what it is like to ride on truly flat terrain.

It was GREAT!

I guess I had really gotten used to those hills because riding the flats was such a pleasure.

I've heard many people discuss the disadvantage to the flat rides being the need to constantly pedal. Though it did get a little tiresome at the end it was more than worth it. I had a great ride!

Working in zone 2, my true zone 2, was awesome. I didn't feel like I was busting my @ss the whole time. I still felt like I was working, but I was doing so at a sustainable pace. I think I averaged about 15 mph overall (slightly slower if you count the stops for traffic lights/water breaks, etc.).

Sweetie Pie Janet stayed with me the first 70 miles. That was a treat. Sometimes we chatted, but mostly we just rode along. It was really great having the company.

The ride was beautiful. We even rode through St. Michaels, MD. It was so quaint. I would love to go spend a weekend there and explore all of the little shops and restaurants.

At 5'2", I look like a giant next to Janet. :)`

The last 20 miles were on my own. It was perfectly fine. I was so elated to be on my way to completing my first 90-miler.

By the end I was pretty tired but I felt good. My nutrition and hydration for the ride were just as planned. Over the 6.5 hour period, I think I had roughly 7 bottles of fluid – 3 of which were infinit. I also had a clif bar, a gu, 2 oreos, a package of peanut butter cheese crackers, and one of my breakfast bar thingies. Also, during the hours I didn’t drink infinit, I took S-caps (sodium caplets).

Now that I write that, maybe I could have eaten more. It is tough, though. I didn’t feel like eating and forced myself to consume what I did. If I could figure out how to carry ice cream....that would be a different story :)

So, I finished the 90 miles (in less than 6.5 hours) and am so pleased with myself. I totally could have gone for a run afterwards, though I am pretty glad I didn’t have to. I feel more and more ready for Florida every day.

When I finally arrived back at the parking lot, where Ryan’s car (with him napping inside with the AC running) was the only one there. The rest of the IMFL BOPers had decided to participate in the Reston century ride, since it was much less of a drive. I chose not to spend the $50 and just go to Easton to ride the flats instead of those hills. A good decision in hindsight.

I finally arrived home around 6 pm (after departing at 6:30 am) and that was about all there was of the day. I took in as many calories as I could handle over the next two hours before getting to bed super early. Stouffers Mac and Cheese, anyone? Hey, it works for me.

This week is another build week, leading up to this weekend’s IMFL training camp on the Eastern Shore. Next weekend we’ll ride 100 miles, swim in the ocean, and run just 8 little miles. And when we’re not training that we going to have some team Z fun! I might even get to spend time relaxing on the beach for a few minutes. Wouldn't that be something? It is almost Labor Day and I have not visited my building's pool once.

Good sleep and good nutrition are on this week’s agenda. Other priority items are packing for the weekend and trying to maintain order and organization in my condo. Doesn’t sound that tough, but these days it is a challenge to do anything other than, as my friend Lindsay put it, “sleep, workout, eat, repeat.”

Saturday, August 22, 2009

16 miles. Check.

It is raining outside.

I have a long to do list for today.

So what am I doing?

Sitting here blogging, of course. :)

Just wanted to report on this morning’s workout. A 16-miler was on the schedule.

I distinctly remember the feeling I had in 2006 before I ran 16 miles for the first time. It was a combination of fear and anxiety, mixed with a little bit of excitement.

After 3 seasons of marathon training, I am shocked to say that leading up to today’s run I was pretty relaxed and looking forward to it. There was just a touch of uneasiness – which mostly had to do with the uncertainly of the weather and the question of whether I’d be running with others or by myself.

At 8 am I met my teammates at the Vienna Caboose (a rail car on the W&OD trail). I know I've mentioned before how much I love this team. And when I arrived this morning I was excited to see everyone. It is like showing up at to a party with all of your friends.

The only problem is, to continue the party analogy, is that it is like everyone wants to dance to different music.

In the case of the group runs, people are on all different training plans based on their goal races, and then within each of the 16 plans (and then some because some folks are training for marathons or other races for which they have custom plans) there are just as many pace groups.

Sometimes it is a little tricky to find the right running partners. Hence sometimes I wind up running alone. No biggie. I’ve learned to bring my iPod shuffle just in case. [Hey non-music-listening runners, don’t judge. We all put one foot in front of the other…:) Hahaha.]

For whatever reason the gathering of pace groups works better when Coach Ed is there. But he is away today so there was chaos. Sorry run leaders, but it is true.

Fortunately it all worked out. For the first four miles I ran with Janet and Kat. For the next mile I ran with Kat (since Janet turned around planning to do out-and-backs). I ran the next 2 miles solo, and then I caught up with Marie. Then we caught up with Chris. Chris, Marie and I ran the last 8 miles together. It was so fun! Time just goes by so much more quickly when you’re talking.

Granted, I may have been talking more than either of them. Ha! But we had a great run.

Sixteen miles DONE! In the bag. Zone 2 (almost the whole way!). Nice and steady. The current Galloway method plan I'm following is run 1 mile, walk 1 minute. Really it is run .94 miles and walk one minute since I walk at every mile mark according to the Garmin.

(Speaking of the Garmin, it needs a name. Suggestions are welcome. Post in the comments. I will come up with a worthwhile prize for the winner. Maybe I’ll cook something.)

Afterwards it just got better. I declined offers to join some teammates at the Vienna Inn for breakfast. My stomach and my schedule just weren’t on board with that idea.

Instead I visited the farmers market that was right at the starting/ending point of our run. How awesome is that? Just yesterday I was lamenting that there would be no summer produce fix for me this weekend because of the training schedule. So it was a huge bonus when I arrived and found that there was a market RIGHT THERE And they even had plenty of good looking stuff left when I got there around 11 am. Score!

And you know what else? I think their prices are better than Arlington. I haven’t tasted the fruit yet, but so far I’m happy.

I said it got better, didn’t I? Well, it wasn’t just the farmers market. Right there in Vienna is my favorite local pizza spot (Church Street Pizza). I grabbed a slice for the road. It has protein, carbs and fat, right? And hey, I just burned 1500+ calories. I needed it.

So far, a very good day. I feel really good except for some newly developed plantar faciatis which I intend to nip in the bud.

Now can someone please deliver some groceries? Or dinner? I’m tired. And hungry.

Doc Visit

Thanks everyone for all of the concern about my hair. I really do appreciate it. And the advice is very welcome.

Just to be clear, objectively, my hair doesn’t look that bad. It doesn’t look as healthy as it used to, but it is really okay.

In fact, a coworker recently complimented me on my new cut. Of course, I explained that the short layers (read: pieces) at the top of my head were not created by my hairdresser. But it doesn’t look that bad and I am really not upset about it.

But as I promised, I made an appointment with my doctor.

She didn’t seem to concerned. Like I did, she attributed the issue to all of the things I told my hairdresser: I wear a pony tail during my 15-20 hours/week of training; I am in a helmet for up to 8 hours a week (more after the recent data – see last post); and I swim in a chrloinated pool, in a tight swim cap, for 2-3 hours/week.

In any case, she ran the necessary tests and I will let you all know what she reports.

In addition to my hair, we also talked about the wee issue of my not having feeling in my fingers for over 3.5 months. Can you believe I almost forgot to mention this? I have gotten so used to it.

She was much more concerned about this issue. I am not a doctor, but I don’t think I agree with her possible prognosis of carpal tunnel syndrome. She referred me to a neurologist and (in 3 weeks) I’ll see what he has to say.

The doc mentioned the possibility of stopping cycling and also mentioned possible surgery. Ummm…no way. Ain’t gonna happen.

This is why athletes need to go to doctors who are athletes. What a preposterous suggestion.

I did tell her that back in June, after my wheels were stolen, I was off the bike for a week and it didn’t help. She laughed and said she’d make a note that impossibility was the only way to keep me off the bike. At least she has a sense of humor.

I will keep you posted on what I learn. Thanks so much for reading. It means a lot to me that for whatever reason you are keeping track of me.

It is flattering but it is more than that. I think many of my readers are friends who care about me. It really touches me that you are supporting me in so many ways, including keeping apprised of my journey.

It is also really neat when I meet a new Z-er like Marie this morning, who has read most of the posts on my blog. When I began to talk about my hair issue to her and (new Z-er) Nurse Chris during this morning’s run, I was saying how people who like my hairdresser who don’t know me are quick to question my nutrition. Marie immediately mentioned my addiction to this summer’s produce and how she agreed that my problem is not poor nutrition.* Nice! I love it.

*Note that I’m not saying there isn’t some deficiency in my diet. It is just that I get a little defensive when people (who don’t know me) imply that my nutrition might be poor. One of my biggest interests is health and nutrition. I spend a lot of time (money, and effort) preparing healthy meals for myself and making sure that I get sufficient fruits and veggies, whole grains, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. I try to eat cleanly…meaning eating foods that are as minimally processed as possible (nutrition on the bike does not count!) Grrrr. Okay, rant over.

What I meant to say was: Thanks for reading! That’s all.

New Zones

Some of you may be wondering what all this zone and heart rate training stuff that I’m always talking about means. Well, I can’t explain it. I honestly don’t totally understand the science of it. All I know is that by training in certain heart rate zones, you do some good stuff for yourself.

Okay, okay. I get it more than that. But I won’t get deeply into it. Here’s what you need to know:

HR Zone 2 is the fat burning zone. Not only is this great for those love handles, but since your body cannot burn glycogen (sugar) for very long, when you are doing endurance events ideally you want to be in Z2 burning fat as a source of fuel.

Who doesn’t want to burn fat???

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Furthermore, the word around town is that if you stick with training in zone 2 (which for many people feels painfully slow), you will increase your fitness and your speed in zone 2. Enough smart and trustworthy people have told me this and I am on board with the system.

How about the other zones?

When you’re in the higher zones, you are burning more glycogen than fat. If you run out of glycogen, you bonk. (This usually happens within 1-2 hours, I think). Most people have experienced this. So the key is to keep the HR LOW. And by training in zone 2 for long runs/rides, you train your body to efficiently burn fat.

Occasionally in training it is beneficial to work in the higher zones – 4 & 5 (5a/b/c are the highest zones). Here you push yourself to expand your system’s ability to respond to an increased need for …oh, I don’t know…oxygen and stuff. I’m not a doctor or a scientist. I’m a lawyer. If you want to know more about the physiology, ask someone else. Or Google it.

Anyhow, that’s the deal in a nutshell. Got it?

Recap: Train most of the time in zone 2. Occasionally do speed work and push yourself in the higher zones for short periods of time.

Okay, so….

How do you know your zones?

The commonly recommended "220 minus your age" method is an unreliable calculation.

Some people used the perceived exertion scale (i.e., if you can say 5 words between breaths you are in zone 2). That is also pretty unreliable

The only true measure, according to many, is to get a VO2 max test.

The VO2 max has something to do with the HR zones. I won’t pretend I totally understand it or know how it works. All I know is that you go for this test and afterwards you know what your HR zones are.

My VO2 Max

Triathlon guru Ken Mierke is the designated ‘tester’ for the team. He’s terrific. He really knows his stuff. He is a former (world?) champion triathlete, a proessional coach, and exercise physiologist. He has all kinds of degrees. This isn’t an advertisement, but having worked with Ken for my tests, and gone to a couple of his clinics, I recommend his services. I know a couple of people who’ve had their bike fits with him and they seem pretty happy.

Back in March I had my run test. I got my data and have been training with it ever since. It has been working well for me.

Unfortunately, your run numbers don’t usually translate to the bike.

Ken hates when people ask him how to estimate their run numbers for the bike (and vice versa). The general rule he reluctantly shares is that bike zones are generally 10 (bpm) beats per minute lower than the run zones. Well, I think I only know one person for whom this holds true.

After struggling on the bike for 5 months in my estimated zone 2, I finally sucked it up and scheduled an appointment for the bike test. I was pretty sure that my zone 2 was lower than where I’d been working.

My delay was due to two reasons. First, the test is hard. I’m not gonna lie. I actually enjoy speed work, but the run test pushed me to my limit. That’s the idea. To see determine your absolute maximum HR. (Mine is 201.)

By the end of the run test, I felt like I struggling to get enough air with each breath (and it wasn’t because of the funky mask I was wearing.) But like with so many things we athletes do, the memories of that discomfort faded with time and I was game to do it again last week.

The second reason I delayed is because of the expense. It ain’t cheap. With the team discount, the test is $100-125. Worth it, but a hefty chunk of change.

The result?

Well, the test wasn’t as difficult for me cardiovascularly (is that a word?) as it was on the run. That is because Ken stopped the test a little before the end because, as he put it, the trainer "overpowered" me. (You put your bike on his fancy trainer, and it gradually increases the wattage (resistance) as time goes on.) My breathing was difficult, but not as much so as when I did the run. This time my legs gave out on me before my lungs did. [This was far more pleasant for me and I recovered a lot more quickly.]

For the trouble and expense I learned that my zones on the bike are approximately 20 bpm lower than the run.

I don’t get it!

Ken mentioned that leg strength is a factor. Hello? Not to brag, but this girl does not have weak legs. Have you seen my thighs? [Under a bit of flab] I've got some solid muscle.

I was a gymnast. And then a triple jumper on the track team. I’ve got power, baby!

When I hit the gym, I do 3 sets of 12 squats with 115 lbs. Not on the smith machine. With an Olympic bar on my back. Grunt!

How many chicks do you know who do that?

So why am I so freakin limited on the bike?

Anyhow, the impact of this result is that I need to slow down my long rides.

I know. [Whine!]

It is going to take me eons to complete my long rides.

But, I believe in the system.

I will do what I need to do.


I better bring extra nutrition because Sunday’s long ride (90 miles) is going to be a looooong one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Luray Race Weekend Report

Another weekend, another Oly race under my belt...

For me, team activities officially started Thursday night. Since it was a recovery week, that meant that there was a team happy hour. This time around two things were different: 1) new location @ The Continental in Rossyln ("a modern pool bar"); 2) happy hour was serving as an IMFL/beach to Battleship/IMAZ meet and greet.

Happy hour was a really good time. Although very few of my fellow future Iron-people turned up, about 30 or so teammates were present and accounted for. Around 10:30 - way late for this girl - I began to turn into a pumpkin and headed home. Fortunately I was taking off Friday to pack and head out to Luray.

The plan was to sleep in. Not just in…but late. Late like I haven’t in I don’t know how long. Well, that was the plan at least.

I think it would have worked better if I hadn’t stayed out so late the night before. Yes, I said late. For someone who is usually in bed between 8:00 and 9:00, staying out until 10:30 – and then getting in bed around 11:30 is practically the wee hours of the morning.

I woke up at 7:30 am. While it was nice wake up without an alarm, I really wanted to get a ridiculous amount of wonderfully restful sleep. It just didn’t happen.

Nevertheless, I woke up rested, vowing to take a nap before leaving for Luray in the afternoon. Yeah. That didn’t happen, either.

I spent way more time than I should have packing (I was packing for a race, 2 nights of being away from home and sleeping in a tent). There is a lot of stuff involved with all of that. Sigh. I never did get that nap.

I drove around 2 hours to downtown Luray to pick up my race packet, then straight to the park to set up camp.

All by myself I set up a tent and got everything ready to go. That night there was a team dinner at the park (pasta/sauce/chicken, salad, bread). I had a nice time with teammates socializing before the early bed time.

It was so great waking up in the park, just steps away from the transition area. It really took a lot of the pressure off.

It was also nice having everything I needed (except Ms. Piggy) within arms reach of where I was sleeping.

I began getting dressed and realized I made a huge packing error. Instead of grabbing my black and grey tri shorts (which have a very thin, non-absorbent chamois) I accidentally brought my black and grey bike shorts, which have a nice comfy, cushy chamois which would feel like a big, wet diaper after a dip in the lake. Doh!

What to do…what to do…. I asked many people and no one brought an extra pair or tri shorts. Then my teammate, Talia, had a brilliant suggestion. She asked if I brought a swimsuit and suggested that I wear the swimsuit with the tri top for the swim, and then put the bike shorts on over my swimsuit before the bike. Brilliant!

I can’t say I was thrilled about the idea about running around (literally) with nothing more than a bathing suit on my bottom half, but I sucked it up and did it. And I lived.

Last week I noticed that I was more preoccupied with packing and the idea of putting up the tent than I was about the race itself. And I continued to be quite nonchalant about the race itself up until the time I got to the lake right before starting the swim. Then the butterflies began.

The biggest source of anxiety at this point was the swim course. Apparently last year the swim course for the Olympic distance was a 2-loop course that resulted in a lot of chaos. In an effort to solve this, the race directors created what they were calling a “pac-man” shaped course. No, I’m not kidding – that is what they called it. It doesn’t sound easy, does it?

Picture about 700 athletes standing around waiting to swim. The race director is on the megaphone trying to explain the race course. A volunteer is standing about 10 feet from him holding up a diagram that really doesn't help much.

[I can't figure out how to post the swim course map. If you're at all interested, click here and it is on the second page.]

Most people were just plain confused – me included. To make matters worse, you couldn’t see one of the buoys from the shore. Fortunately for me, I knew I’d have plenty of people to follow.

The good news is that the hysteria (only a slight exaggeration) gave me something to focus on before the race, and was a created a bonding opportunity for us racers. Do you like how I focus on the positive?

Swim (1500 m)

44:39 (503/532 overall; 170/183 female)

I’m not going to lie. I still don’t like swimming. But this swim was less bad than others have been. The whole course thing wound up working out just fine.

My swim started off a little rocky because I wasn’t sighting very often (read: not really at all) and when I looked up around the 5-minute mark I had somehow gotten way off course. The sun was in my eyes big time, and my goggles were really fogged up. I couldn’t see anything!

I spent some effort getting back on course, and wound up having a little chat with a fellow green-capper who was also not enjoying the swim. I started to get in a groove and felt kind of bad about leaving her behind, but the show must go on.

The bad thing about this swim was my worst sighting ever. For some reason I just couldn’t sight while swimming freestyle. I wound up swimming 5-8 strokes freestyle, and then doing a few breast strokes to allow me to look up and figure out where to go. Since I couldn’t see, I relied on the swimmers around (and on top of) me. Fortunately, this is something I can work on and I know I can improve. I didn’t used to be so bad at this.

The good thing about the swim was that it didn’t wear me out. Maybe it was all the breast stroke I did, but I didn’t have my usual “get me the heck out of this water because I'm exhausted” feeling. I was calm, and I felt that my form was pretty good (when I wasn’t trying to sight). I felt like my endurance was good (which bodes well for almost tripling this distance in less than 3 months).

The time on my watch was a little over 43 minutes (the official time above included getting out of the water and across the sand – I say that doesn’t really count). While I would have loved to break 40 minutes (as Jeanne would say, I would have loved a swim time that began with a “3”) I am happy with this.

This swim was not wetsuit legal, since the water was around 80 degrees. Thinking back to last summer, at my only other Olympic-distance (1500m) open water swim, this is a big improvement. That time was 50:50.

This is also pretty good in comparison to the 41-minute wetsuit swim I was so excited about at Columbia. Only 2 minutes more without a wetsuit!

Transition 1


The trip to the transition area was not an easy one. There was an actual flight of stairs leading there. Lots of people were jogging up, but I chose to save my energy – and keep my heart rate low - and just walk – 2 steps at a time.

It was awesome seeing lots of my teammates at the top of the stairs, cheering and creating a ruckus. Cowbells, horns, crazy hula skirts, hats! We are a festive team! I love being cheered for, especially by name. I feel like a rock star.

My time here was pretty slow and I hope that someone had the pleasure of watching this crrazy show. Remember that I had to put a pair of bike shorts on my wet body. I sat down to wriggle them on. Then I stood up to pull them up. Then I decided to sit down again to put on my socks. Oh wait, my feet are dirty….let me rinse them off…la-la-la.

Bike (25 miles)

1:56 (506/528 overall; 170/183 female)

For some reason the difficulty of this bike course came as a big surprise to me. Everyone talks about how difficult Columbia is, and I expected that. However, I didn’t really hear much buzz about this course so I wasn’t concerned.

Afterwards several people told me they thought this course was *as* difficult, if not more so, than Columbia. Great. Now you tell me. I guess it is good that I didn’t know so that I couldn’t worry about it ahead of time.

To add to the fun, at race time it was 86 degrees and humid. Joy!

Perhaps the “best” part was what I learned afterwards were the “false flats.” I kid you not, within the first few miles I thought to myself, “there is something wrong with me.” I am in zone 3, pushing hard, and only going around 9 mph. Then I thought, “there must be something wrong with my bike.” I decided to keep going and just do my best. It turns out that these were hills that looked flat but really had enough of an incline to really mess with your head.

This was not a fun ride. In hindsight, though, I see nothing I could have done differently. I knew I was going slowly. I just couldn’t do anything about it. I tried to go faster, but I just didn’t have it in me.

The last couple of miles were the least fun of all. I knew there was a big hill at the end. With about 3 miles to go, I climbed and I climbed and was elated to get to the top of that hill.

Then I was on the flat, coasting along elated to be almost done with this madness. That was when I saw it. The REAL big hill at the end. Holy steepness, Batman! So that is why I flew down the hill on the way out at 36 mph (SO fun, BTW). The way up was around 4 mph. I guess that averages out okay.

I grinded it out and then flew into the park and was greeted by mass confusion. There were runners going every which way, but no bikers ahead of me and no one directing me where to go.

I called out to some of my wonderful cheering teammates, and they yelled “go back to transition.” Well, thanks….. I’ve been working my butt off for close to 2 hours – how the heck do I remember where transition is. Ha! Anyhow, I found it and was a happy camper to be done with that. My bike time was actually slower than Columbia. Ugh!

Transition 2


If there is one thing about triathlon I am good at, it is transition 2. I do have a secret strategy, but I don’t feel like sharing it. I know that’s greedy, but if I tell you, well, then you’ll do it and I won’t have ONE thing that I rock every time.

Okay, I’ll tell you, but you have to ask me in person. Cool?

A funny moment was when I was running in and a nice kid was roaming around (a volunteer?) and when he saw me he politely stopped where he was to yield to me. Coincidentally, he happened to stop directly in front of my transition spot. Ooops. I nicely called out “thanks, but you’re exactly where I need to be.” He moved aside with a smile and all was well.

Run (10k; 6.2 miles)

1:04 (410/510 overall; 129/173 female)

Next to transition 2, this is my second best part of a tri. As I mentioned in my last report, I am glad this is the final part of a triathlon. I think part of it is experience (as Coach Ed pointed out, I’ve been running way longer than I’ve been swimming or biking) and part of it is my mental attitude. I know I can run. I know I can keep going through the pain (I think I wrote about this before) and I choose to LOVE the run and make the most of it

This run was almost as brutal as the ride. A two-loop course that was hot and hilly. Wonderful! The volunteers at the water stations were great.

My plan here was to stay in high zone 3/zone 4. And that I did. I just went for it. I ran the first mile in about 9 minutes and then walked a minute. From that point on, with the exception of some brief stops for water, I stuck with the one mile/one minute plan which I plan to use for Ironman.

I know I felt bad out there, but I don’t remember the pain. I just remember the fun of seeing teammates and joking around, the excitement of passing folks (sorry, it is true), and the true joy of sprinting to the finish line and being finished.

Final Time: 3:50:55 (486/537 overall; 162/183 female)

Not my best race, but not my worst. I’m kind of surprised that this is a full 14 minutes slower than Columbia, but it was 86 degrees and not wetsuit legal.

I really need to start researching races before I pick them. This was a team race so I just went for it. I had a choice between the Olympic and Sprint (roughly half the distance) and I remember thinking that I wanted to do the Oly so I could see how I would do on an easy course [as compared to Columbia]. Ummmm, right.

The good news is that both upcoming races - the Bassman Half (Oct. 4) and IM Florida (Nov. 7) - are pancake flat. In preparation, all of the long training rides/runs between now and then are flat. Although this means I won’t get to enjoy flying down hills, that also means I won’t have to contend with climbing up them either. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Rest of the Weekend
It was so great being done with the hard part and able to relax for the rest of the weekend. I camped with the team again Saturday night, and stuck around Sunday to watch the Sprint race. It was a fun time all around. I love my team and love my teammates!

On the way home I stopped at two different farm stands (I had to get my fresh produce fix) and at Carousel in Warrenton for an awesome soft-serve ice cream cone. Then I stopped at Wegman’s in Gainesville for the weekly groceries. All in all, a fabulous weekend!

Monday, August 10, 2009







I was not dreading yesterday's 80-miler like you might have thought. Since 70 went so well, I just wasn't worried about 80. I arrived at Boyce, VA along with a large group of fellow Z-ers. Yet while I saw many of my fellow BOPers (Back-of-Packers), I didn't see any BOPers who are training for Florida, and hence doing the same distance as I. :(

Regardless, I got out there and got it done. I don't really have much to tell right now. Piggy's computer said it was 99-104 degrees out there. I think it was really around 95-98. Rolling hills. Nothing I couldn't handle. :)

The team SAGS were AWESOME! They were there when needed - like when I made a wrong turn and after quickly realizing it went to turn around and wound up trying to ride over a gravel driveway. In case you didn't know road bike tires and gravel don't mix. Hence I had a little bonding experience with the pavement.

Fortunately, I was just fine. Just a little bruised and dirty, but I was able to quickly get up and get going again. (After that my mantra for the ride was "gravel is not my friend.") Within a few moments Mike, sagger extraordinaire, appeared.

Mike was there many times throughout the ride, offering water, gatorade, and good cheer. What a guy! Later in the ride I got to see Chris and JR, who were sagging together. At one point I rode by Chris and he was standing by his car holding out bottles of water and a big box of cookies. I didn't partake, but it was an awesome sight and I knew if I needed either he'd be right around the next bend.

Then towards the very end Chris was my hero with an ice cold washcloth to wash the salt off my face. I put it on my neck to finish out the ride.

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Coach Ed's appearance around mile 68 when he came by to make sure we knew about the error on next-to-last turn on the cue sheet. We asked if he had ice and he directed us to the store a couple of miles up the road. When we approached the store we decided to just push on and finish up without stopping. What a pleasant surprise to hear him calling for us. He had gone in and bought a big bag of ice and kindly filled our four bottles, which all contained liquid that seemed hotter than the 98 degree air.

Do you get how awesome these people are? What's more is that when I finally got back to the parking lot where the team had been grilling and hanging out after they finished their rides, everyone cheered for me as I finished up the longest ride of my life. Chris W., also known as Kona Chris because he is a world champion who will compete again at the National Championships at Kona (Chris recently broke his own course record at IMLP, and continues to hold the record for his age group) came over to check on and congratulate me. He kindly brought me an ice-cold bottle of water that was exactly what I needed. Then when I got to the tent my other teammates were awesome - bringing me a bag of ice to put on my neck, and just generally taking care of me.

What am I forgetting? Hmmmm. Oh yeah ;) My Knight. Even though his training plan only called for 50 miles, when he learned that I was going to be solo for my last 25 miles (as I had been since miles 40 or so) despite my protests, he jumped on his bike and finished out the ride with me. I know it was painfully slow for him, but he stuck it out. Did I mention is was around 98 degrees at this time. So sweet!

All in all, a good day. I got really sunburned on my legs, arms and face. I am usually pretty good about the sunblock, but I guess I sweated so much that I should have reapplied. Lesson learned.


To follow up on the hair appointment thing... As I predicted, my hairdresser Karen did freak out about my hair. She is urging me to go to the doctor. She said my hair is falling out, and also breaking at the slightest touch. Okay. Okay. I feel like this is all probably pretty normal for training for IM, but I will be good and get myself checked out.


Now it is recovery week. Taking it somewhat easy now. This weekend is the Luray Olympic Tri for me. Woo-hoo.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cat's Angels

Fun weekend so far, and it is only noon on Saturday.

Last night I had a great time hanging out with my neighbor-girls and their moms. We planned this mother-daughter event a while back and while my mom had to go home earlier this month, the other moms adopted me for the night. It was such a blast. Everyone's moms are so great. We just hung out and had drinks/apps at Erin's place, and then they all headed out to dinner in Clarendon. I came home since I am an early bird with training at the crack of dawn every day of my life (or so it seems).

After a good night's sleep I was off to meet my teammates for a run. Much of the team is actually out in Luray today, swimming in the lake, running the hills, and camping out for the weekend. I decided to stay local this time. Those of us that stuck around met up for a run at TR island. (Note to readers: don't try to park there on summer weekend mornings. What a mess! I wound up driving back to Rosslyn, parking on the street, and walking down to TR.)

For whatever reason, my workout schedule only calls for 6 miles this weekend. Fine with me. Oddly, it seemed like everyone there was running longer - which is odd since at this point I would think the IMFL crew would be going longest. As it turns out, either they are on the advanced track for Florida or they are training for a fall marathon.

I wound up running with Kat and Sarah (yes, there's another Kat/Cat on the team - fellow z-ers can ask Tracey to tell the funny story about when Kat and I first met). It was actually a nice run. I finally got my new 310xt up and running, so I was able to track speed, distance, time and HR all on one handy-dandy screen.

On our way back we noticed a cyclist who was stopped and seemed to be having trouble with his bike. He was a bit off the trail, and Kat called out to him to see if he was okay. He was too engrossed in his repair to hear us. I noticed that he was messing with his chain, and suggested we go over to help. We noticed that not only had he dropped his chain, but he had somehow managed to drop it to the outside instead of the inside - (dropping on the inside is far more common and much easier to fix).

We told him we were triathletes and he moved away from the bike, since clearly we knew exactly what we were doing (not!). In any case, Kat held up the rear wheel, I fiddled with the chain a little, played with the gears, then moved the pedals while pulling the chain around, and ta-da, we fixed it. I was quite impressed with our quick work if I do say so myself. The guy was pretty much speechless. He fist bumped us, said thanks, and we ran off on our merry way (me with very greasy fingers).

That felt good! Cat's/Kat's Angels making the trail a better place. :) Good deed done for the weekend.

We finished off the run and as I ran back to my car I noticed that the bunch of cars that were all parked illegally along the sidewalk were all ticketed. Boo! Sorry teammates. I wish there was something I could have done. I headed back to my car back in Rossyln where thankfully, there was no ticket for me. I had parked at a one-hour meter and crossed my fingers.

What to do next? Well, it was still plenty early to hit the Courthouse farmers market. I have been seriously obsessed (yes, seriously) with summer produce for the past few weeks. I didn't think I liked blackberries until I tried delicious freshly-picked berries recently. Now I cannot get enough. My fingers are perpetually purple.

Blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, corn, peaches, plums, nectarines, melon, squash, chard, broccoli, lettuce. I. Can. Not. Get. Enough. I am going to go broke if I keep this up. But it is all so good, and so healthy, that I am not trying to stop.

The six pints of berries I picked up from the Westmoreland folks this morning.
Those blackberries are as big as my fist.
Okay, not really, But some of them are as big as my thumb.

I think it also has something to do with knowing that my enjoyment of these delicacies is limited. I am trying to focus on the positive and look forward to apple and pumpkin season....but really, I would likethe summer season to last just a little longer. Oh well. I pledge to make the most of it while I can.

Right now I am off to the salon for some hair care. The coif is looking pretty sorry these days. Between the chlorine, the helmet, the pony-tail holders, and perhaps the large quantities of sweat, my hair is looking the unhealthiest is ever has. My hairdresser is going to freak out, I am sure. Hopefully she'll have some suggestions.

Tomorrow morning is the 80-miler and I cant wait. I made up a recipe which Lindsay gave me. She calls it her bike breakfast. She said it is what the Garmin Chipotle team eats. It sounds great and I am looking forward to testing it tomorrow...yes, while I'm riding.

Here's the recipe:

Cook 3 cups of sushi rice in a rice cooker.

Scramble 6 eggs (I only use 3-4), add in a handful of chopped ham (or bacon, proscuitto, etc). Toss the eggs/meat into the rice
, and our a small amount of soy and balsamic vinegar on top. Add salt to taste. Mix the stuff up, and then with a silicon spatula, mash it into bars (takes up about half of an 8x8 pan if you want them about an inch thick).

Cut into squares, put them in the fridge, and then wrap in aluminum foil when you take them on a ride. They keep in the fridge for about 4-5 days. You can also add parmesan cheese.

I used is what I had in the house, and added scallions (from the farmers market, of course) to the eggs. The bacon was salty so I didn't use any soy sauce. I'll let you know how it is.

Think good, cooling thoughts for me tomorrow. It is going to be in the mid-90's and humid. Why did we have to waste the 70-degree day on Thursday being in the office all day??? I need flex-time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another weekend...Done!

I suppose I should write a post about this weekend’s training. This weekend was pretty much all about triathlon – my training and my sherpa duties at the Culpeper sprint.

Friday I went to Revolution to get a replacement pedal. Long story short, I wound up buying Look Keo pedals instead of replacement Speedplays.

I was never really happy with the speedplays (aka lollipops). When I had SPD pedals, I was able to clip out at any position in the pedal stroke. For whatever reason, I could only clip out at the bottom with the lollipops. [So, in order for me to stop with speedplays, I needed to get my left foot to 6 o’clock, clip out, then get my right foot to 6 o’clock so I could step down. An unnecessary extra step that I didn’t have to do with the SPDs.] I also never really liked the ease of clipping in/out.

So since the shop wasn’t able to help me with replacement parts, nor were they able to sell me one pedal, I figured I might as well buy a different pedal. Why not add a little excitement to the longest ride of my life by completely changing one aspect of my bike?

To wrap up this pedal story, I will just say I am thrilled that I made the switch. I feel way more comfortable with the Keo’s. Clipping in, once I get the pedal flipped over and my foot in the right position (which is taking some practice), is nice and easy. Once I get out of the habit of clipping out at the bottom, clipping out will be a lot smoother, too.

While there was a fair amount of struggling with the pedals, I know I will get used to them pretty quickly. It was a good call to switch pedals and while I could have done without spending the extra $100+ on more bike stuff, I think this was money well spent.

The 70-mile Ride
I received no responses to the requests I sent to the team for a ride partner for the 70-mile ride. So I was on my own. It was kind of nice.

As a matter of background, my last long rides haven’t been as good as you would hope. Remember the 60-miler in the cold, nasty rain? In case you’re wondering, yes, my hands are STILL numb. They’ve improved considerably, but I still have little feeling in my finger tips. It is probably time to seek additional medical care…I know. It has been 3 months.

That was the last and only 60-miler. Then there was the 50-miler a couple of weeks later where I took a bad fall.

After that I did a 40-miler in the rain at Rehoboth. That went pretty well, considering the headwind.

Oh, there was the 55-miler I did (it was supposed to be 50, but – oh yeah, I got lost). That was okay.

The 56-miles of the half Ironman actually went pretty well, but that was a race.

My plan for this past Saturday was simple. Head out west on the W&OD. Turn around when I hit 35 miles. For nutrition I brought 2 bottles of pre-mixed infinit, with a bunch of goodies (gels, peanut butter pretzels, 2 strawberry oreos, fig newmans), and a bag of infinit powder to mix up a third bottle.

If I’d written this sooner I’d have lots of thrilling details to share. Now, 2 days later, I will just say that the ride went great. Yes, great! Hooray!

The highlights: I was only about 10-15 miles out when I saw someone who looked familiar running towards me. What do you know, it was my good friend, Jenn, looking strong. Such a nice surprise. I would have liked to stop and chat but we were both on a mission.

Just a few minutes later I heard my name and it was my wonderful teammate Maggie (who is solely responsible for the existence of strawberry oreos in my house and hence my bento) calling out my name. What a nice surprise!

Not even 2 minutes later I spotted my friend Patty running along. I definitely surprised her when I said hello.

The thing that was so crazy was that none of theses three friends know each other. They weren’t out together. It was just such a coincidence. It made me smile for a while and realize that I have a lot of fit friends!

Before I knew it, I was at the 35 mile marker. It was much, much faster than I anticipated. And I felt so good. So I turned around and headed back on my merry way.

It was not long before I realized that I would be so far ahead of schedule that I would be able to make the team’s nutrition clinic. Yay!

Anyhow, before I get to the nutrition clinic, I am happy to report that I finished up the ride tired, but injury free. No major issues to report. Tired legs. Sweaty and exhausted. But fine. No real saddle issues. Nothing hurt. It was awesome! Just what I needed heading into 3 very tough training months.

Although I missed having company, as I have said before, it is really nice going at my own pace and not worrying about keeping up or slowing down for anyone. I guess this is why I enjoyed solo marathon training so much. I am excited that I have some good momentum heading into next week’s 80-mile ride.

Nutrition Clinic
I was only a little late to the clinic. I heard Becky Mohring (sp?) give her presentation once before when I was just a little baby triathlete. Like, last year. In any case, I took a lot more away this time.

For starters, I need to be drinking a bit more (24-36 oz per hour), and I need to be taking in a ton more electrolytes/sodium than I do when I run. She recommends about 400 mg per hour. I thought I was getting plenty of electrolytes in my Gu’s. I checked when I got home and then only have around 40 mg each. That tip was the highlight for me.

The 14-mile run
Fast forward to 2 pm Sunday. It is hard enough for me to get up and run on a weekend morning. But it was even harder for me to get going for an afternoon run, especially when the temps were so much higher than the early morning. I considering skipping the run, but I knew I’d be really pissed at myself if I did that.

I was heading into this run with tired legs, and just overall tiredness. But I got myself together and headed out, planning to run 7 miles up the Capital Crescent trail towards Bethesda and then back the way I came.

Due my desire to keep running instead of waiting for the light to change, I wound up crossing the key bridge on the opposite side of where I usually cross. When I got over the bridge, I was not on the side where I needed to be to get over to the trail, so I just kept running.

Eventually, I saw an access path to the trail, but at this point I decided I would be more fun to continue running up Foxhall. It was extremely hilly (how come I never noticed this in the car?!). I focused on keeping my heart rate in zone 2 and on taking in the right nutrition (one gel every 30 minutes, a full bottle of water per hour, and an s-cap [electrolytes] on the 45-minute mark of each hour).

I had a fabulous run. With the hills, the way out was pretty slow and involved a lot of walk breaks to keep the HR down. No worries, though. I was doing what I needed to do.

The way back was a different story. I took a detour to run down Wisconsin and through Georgetown. I was *flying* down the hills. FAST. At times I felt like I needed to sprint to get my HR up in the right zone. It was pretty fun.

By the time I made it back to my building, I had another mile left [how’d that happen?]. So I ran around some more. I got back to my building at 13.97 miles. Of course, I ran around the corner so I could see the Garmin register a clean 14. I’m just telling you this so you can laugh at my compulsive nature. I am fully aware of how type-A that is, and I choose to embrace my idiosyncrasies. I hope you still love me.

I finished the 14, zone 2 miles in 2:40, with 3 water stops and a lot of pedestrian traffic in G-town. I am happy with this.

And that was the weekend…. I am thrilled with how my training went. Tiring, yes. But successful. I say, bring on IMFL. I am READY!