Friday, June 30, 2006

IM Coeur D'Alene. What can I say? I'm sure you all can imagine how exciting it was. I wish I had more time to write right now. I've been without internet connection since Monday--stayed in a fairly primitive campground in Hungry Horse, Montana, about 9 miles outside West Glacier, and am now in Iron Mountain, Michigan (was up in the UP). I will be home Saturday and hopefully will get caught up on all the details as soon as possible.

Shelley did a great job on her race, as did all the others, even those who were unable to finish due to the horribly hot weather. No one was exempt from the heat that day. Of the 13 athleses in our group, 11 finished, two were pulled out for medical reasons, and two did their first Ironman triathlons. While it is exciting watching the pros, the real heros that day were the every day athletes, and of course what a thrill it was watching the "virgins" complete their first races. Until you stand there (or actually participate) and watch people crossing the finish line and hearing those words: "_____, you are an Ironman!" you can't know the emotions it brings out in you.

Anyway, more later. I have spent 14 hours in the car and I have had it today!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I finally got on the Internet!

Got into Coeur D'Alene Thursday and met up with the gang, in cluding Shelley. Did the swim yesterday and the water was freezing as she had indicated. Once you get in and start and catch your breath from the cold, its not so bad. Hope to have some pics and trip highlights later today.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Packing up to leave tomorrow! Can't believe its time already. Bruce, Tom, and Mike all left today. Don and I leave tomorrow (driving of course) but plan to stop at Mt. Rushmore and Badlands Tues./Wed. I would love to spend more time at some of the historical museums, like the Wounded Knee Museum, but am not sure how much time we will have. The focus of the trip at this point, of course, is the Ironman race, not sightseeing, so I will have to be content with whatever time we have.

Shelley is flying in on Tuesday, and Dan, Libby, Kim, and Pat on Wednesday and Thursday. We will have a large group once all assembled: 12 in all. I'll try to keep up on the travels and the IM activities as best as I can, but my laptop is not wireless at this point and is as slow as a turtle. I will be hanging out with a photography and internet guru, so maybe I can finally get some tips on posting pictures and fixing this blog to link up with others' blogs.

From South Dakota and Wyoming, I am thinking the best course would be to go through Bozeman, MT. where my son is living. I had told him the week after, but it might work better on the way out. We have to go right through there anyway, and it is only another 5 hours or so to Coeur D'Alene.

We are also planning on staying at Glacier Nat'l Park, and I won't go home until I see Yellowstone again. A sad thing about Yellowstone. A woman from the area, and on the school board of my kids' schools, fell to her death from a ledge in Yellowstone. I am so glad I wasn't there then.

So two whole weeks away from home. I don't think I have ever been gone that long. Of course I will worry periodically about what's going on at the house, etc., but will have to hope to make contact by phone. Last time I was out that way, no phone service most of the time, so that was frustrating.

I'm glad too now that I did the tri yesterday, because for the next two weeks it will be hit or miss on the workouts, especially with the travelling. And I'm not too sure about running through wooded areas with bears, buffalo, and any other wild creature there is. Don has delusions of grandeur about all the hikes, etc. we will be taking, forgetting the fact that 1) there are wild animals out there, and 2) he will have just done an Ironman. I'm thinking we will be driving more than hiking.

So I'm off to bed finally only to get up at the crack of dawn to hit the road.

Well, the results are in, and they don't lie. They definitely show positives and negatives. They also show where I need the most work. So that is what I will be working on before my next race. Its a good thing really, because then you know where you are.

I know everyone goes into a race with expectations, and if those expectations are met, yahoo. If not, then you are down on yourself. But in this case, I am not down on myself, just being realistic.

One thing that is evident from the results is: this is a fast crowd. Very few people doing this race are slow in all three events, so that sets me apart from them right there. No excuses, just reality. But what can I do to change that? That is what I am looking at today, the day after the race.

Okay, I had a decent enough swim, not my fastest but not bad. The positive: I didn't panic. I swam steady. I kept my form. I wasn't tired. I kept on course pretty much. The negative: I still get put off by people swimming over me. It throws me off. While I didn't get upset this time, I still had to stop and regroup. I let them have my space. Not sure this will change until I do a lot more tris. Its a confidence thing I suspect.

T1 was about 3 minutes faster than ever and this is definitely attributed to the new wetsuit, so that is a positive. The only negative would be I need to put some sense of urgency into my transitions. I tend to take my time. I was organized, and not flustered, just not fast. I guess when you are only competing against yourself, the pressure is off.

I did better on the bke than I expected, but only by a few minutes, so that would be a positive. The problem for me was the hills. I have not been training on hills. Rollers but nothing like these. I really forgot how hilly it was. I underestimated. So that would be a negative. And these were not monsters, just long and drawn out. So I learned I need more hill training, since most of our races around here are on hills. The area is full of hills. Not mountains, just long hills. Another positive was that I kept steady on the hills, only needing to shift to the middle chain ring twice just to keep speed. I don't stand on hills rarely, and I did see people do that. Even on the steepest hills, I managed to keep going, just slow. So how do I get faster? More longer, hillier bike rides I suspect and shorter faster ones in between. I am working on it. I have never been fast on the bike, but I was faster the last time I did the race, so I suspect it is just lack of training (and age? would have have anything to do with it??). Just how do those women do 20+ mph out there? Its amazing to me.

While someone looking at my "run" time would definitely label this as a negative, I am being realistic but not brutal on myself. Yes, I need more run training, especially bike to run. I did none so far. That would be a negative. And for me to assume I could pull this off without that type of training, that would also be a negative. It always seems like when you do a race before and you got through it okay, that you assume you can pull it off again. That doesn't take into account all the variables you find in races like these. Another negative for me would be lack of heat training. Granted, we haven't had 90+ degree heat only a few times this year (which is a lot so far), and why race day the weather gods decided to turn up the heat wasn't fair, but had I been better prepared, I doubt I would have been affected so severely. Some of it was mental, that is obvious, so letting my mind take over my body was also a negative. I need to get tougher mentally so I can push through these things and not give in. I have that edge in other things, so I know it is something I can do. More lunchtime runs is probably part of the answer, and longer runs too. My foot numbness if also a big negative. I am truly at a loss on how to overcome this. It seems to recur the more I bike. I have been working on training myself to keep my feet relaxed on the bike, which is a big reason why I get my foot numbness--don't curl the toes. I really think I did that and was conscious about it the whole race, yet once I put my running shoes on it was there. In fact, my shoes felt so tight I thought I had tightened the lace locks too much, but when I checked, they were comfortably loose. My ChiRunning training is helping me overcome this, but it is still something I need more work on apparently. So another negative. It looks like the whole run added up to all negatives, but I have to put something positive into it. I did not quit. I did not cave in. I kept going and kept a positive outlook. Its not easy knowing you will be last. Its not easy knowing everyone else will have gone home before you get there. And its not easy knowing you are holding up the volunteers. But it would have been harder to face later and I would have been looking for excuses had I quit. I knew I could do this. I just had to find a different way to get done than the rest.

So again, the positive in the whole experience was I learned where my deficits were. It gives me a base to work with. Now it is up to me to keep working at it if I want to be more successful next race, and of course I do!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

So the Olympic tri is now history. And what a history it was for me! First, two disclaimers: (1) I said I would be the last to finish and I was; (2) heat training has not been something on my agenda so far this year.

Johan's Trifest is held in Monterey Township, near Dorr, Michigan, a small, bedroom community south of Grand Rapids, MI, where I live. My dad and brother actually live within a few miles of the race site, so it is an area I am familiar with, however, none of us are originally from the area.

The tri location is a man-made lake community nestled among the rolling hills and farmland. They have been generous to us letting us use the location for the past 5 years, so I am hoping the tradition continues.

I arrived before 7 am and already the temps were warm, probably in the 70s; in one sense, better than in the 40s like we had earlier this week; in another, an omen of heat to come later.

For me, this race is "local," and most of the volunteers and race coordinators are friends. Everyone was very encouraging and happy to see me finally getting out there again to race, but I did warn them, "I can promise you I will be last, so wait for me, okay?" They all pooh poohed me, but I knew better. (Disclaimer (1): My training as far as bricks has been almost non-existent; my run training is only beginning to improve. I knew looking at the participant list that there was no likelihood anyone would finish after me.)

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting IronWil, and we actually shared the same bike rack. I got to talk to her before the race. Good thing too, because she was probably already home, two hours away, before I finally finished. So in addition to catching up with old acquaintances, I got to meet a blogger sister. Hopefully I'll have a picture to post soon. Waiting for one of the guys to send it.

Before the race started, I had to take care of issues with my bike I have been dealing with all week. What luck is that to have problems crop up just before a race?? The last thing to do was get my computer working. I am one of those people who needs to see what I am doing to judge what I can do. So the bike shop guy fiddles with it and we finally get it working and I am happy. Or so I thought. The bike tire is holding too, so that is a major relief.

Its time to get the wetsuit on and start getting into race mode. There is a lot of chatter and joking around on our bike rack, and I am happy where it is located: near the swim entrance/exit, and near the bike return.

I bought new goggles the night before and still wanted to be sure they were tight enough and didn't leak, but by the time the National Anthem was over and I was organized to go to the water, it was actually time to start heading down to the beach.

This year it was decided that there would be two swim waves. I'm still not sure how they divided it up, although I was told it was by number: first 120 first wave; second 120+, second wave. I was in the second wave, fortunately. I did not want to worry about anyone swimming up behind me.

For me, the swim is not a problem unless I panic, which happened in my only tri last year. I decided to prevent that this time by just starting toward the back and finding a spot, not charging into the water and thinking I am going to get out front. This plan worked, and I had no panic whatsoever, just a smooth, and almost uneventful swim. That is until a guy swam across me, on an angle no less, and then somehow managed to swim back across the opposite way. I don't know how people do this. I can't understand why they can't see someone next to or in front of them. Its not that hard people! And even though initially I couldn't see the buoys, I was able to follow a fairly straight path most of the way. Out of the water, onto the beach, cheers from people I knew, pictures someone was taking, and take a quick peak at my watch: 36:26. Okay, not too bad. So probably 37 something after crossing the mat.

Onto T1. I was surprised to see so many bikes still on my rack, and pleased too. I knew I needed every advantage to keep ahead as long as possible. Strip off the wet suit, and I am even happier to say that the darn thing pealed (sp?) off all in one stripping. My old wetsuit was such a pain. You could barely get it over the hips and it would get all bunched and jammed up, then again at the thighs, the knees, and getting it over the ankles about caused a hernia. New wetsuit=new T1 PR. Probably 4 min. Remember, I am a Slowsky, so this was doing good for me. I usually am so wiped out and frustrated getting the wetsuit off I am exhausted. Today, none of that. So far so good!

Onto the bike. Okay, now I know there is no way in hell I was riding 22 mph in the park, so what's up with that? By the time I got on the road, I was up to 27 mph. And I noticed my time seemed to have been running for a while, and a couple other things I can't explain. So much for the computer working. I never knew how fast I was going for sure, but most of the time I figured it was about 10 mph off real speed. The time and distance never matched my watch or the road markers either, so pretty much it was worthless. At one point, I actually was going 42 mph. I didn't think my computer could go that high, let alone from my biking. One thing I did notice was no quad fatigue like I usually have after the swim. Could be from two things, but most likely the wetsuit issue. So off I went, hoping to gain some time if nothing else on all the others still behind me. I knew it wouldn't be long and I would be passed. Yes, passed again, and again, and again. Probably at about 8 miles, IronWil passed me. Not surprising. It was much hillier than I remembered from 3 years ago. And it seemed like they were running the course backward, but obviously my memory failed me completely on this course. I also didn't remember it having such a long stretch to the turnaround. Good grief, would it never come?? And then you can factor in the wind and your day was pretty much made. By the time I hit the second turnaround, it was no longer fun, I was sick of the wind and hills, and my neck was hurting a lot. The only things good about the bike at that point is there were still people behind me and my time was a little better than I expected. Again, I was happy with this because I wanted to gain as much extra time for the run as I could. I had a time I hoped to finish the race in, and this would only help.

I was so happy to finally see the last turn, the last mile, the transition area. I actually was able to dismount and walk quickly to my stuff. This time, however, everyone's bikes were back, and I was now going out on the run pretty much alone. The last 4 people behind me on the bike were already heading out on the run before I got myself out of transition. Didn't check my time this time, although it wasn't bad for me. I'll have to get the stats later.

So the run. Yeah. The stinging words of a helpful "friend" were ringing in my ears: I didn't think you had enough training for something like this. At this point, I had to agree. What was really getting me was the heat wave that hit me as I started running. I knew it was going to be hot, but honestly didn't expect it to bother me the way it did. Before I even ran one mile I was getting a terrible stomach ache and was working on nausea. I don't think it was anything I ate or drank, as that seemed to work pretty well. It was the heat and the extreme pain in my left foot. Ah yes, the dragon was back. Now not only did I have to deal with the heat, which is always a problem when I haven't trained in the heat, but my foot was so numb I was getting shooting pains into my foot and up my leg to the hip. That's was caused the stomach distress. I could barely put any weight on it, and even with my new ChiRunning technique, it was extremely hard to concentrate on anything.

There were two other people ahead of me walking so I finally gave in around 2 miles to a walk/run, such that it was. My foot hurt no matter what I did, or what surface I ran on. First we had gravel, and it was fairly uneven, so that felt horrible, then it was the slanted road, and that wasn't much better. Oh, and did I mention that this course is 99% sunny?

By 3 miles I was strictly walking. I actually felt okay walking, the stomach was settling down, and my foot was beginning to feel somewhat better. But at this point I was so hot and uncomfortable I wasn't even going to consider running again. There were still 2 guys in front of me walking, but I could never catch either one of them. I was trying to be very cautious with my foot, just picking it up and putting it down, in an attempt to not stress it out any more, so there was constant forward movement, but I couldn't get close enough to them ever.

Another thing that usually bothers my stomach is lack of cold water. I detest warm water in the worst way, and even though my water bottle had been partially frozen, by 3 miles it was pretty much lukewarm, and the water at the water stops was almost bath temperature, having been sitting out in the hot sun for hours. The Gatorade was horrible warm too, so I didn't dare risk drinking much of that. Fortunately I had tried a method with my hand held bottle of water, where I mixed Succeed caps into the water and then froze it, because I really think that helped get my stomach back to normal. I wasn't thirsty much after I actually drank most of it.

Mile after mile I trudged, never getting any closer to the guys ahead of me. They finally disappeared out of site around mile 4, and by mile 5 the race vehicle was behind me picking up cones, signs, and water stop materials. I ignored them. I decided I was going to walk, not stress myself out, and get done with the race, rather than risk ending up in the hospital like apparently a few others did. What really saved the day at this piont was when one of the women in the truck gave me a COLD bottle of water. Oh thank you thank you thank you! I guzzled that thing almost all the way down at once. It really tasted good. I felt like I had been walking on the dessert for days until then. The truck always kept its distance and never made me feel like I had to give it up. I wasn't going to anyway. After all, I paid the same money all the others who likely had finished and gone home had paid for the same race. No one said we had to finish in a specific time.

I can say though that I was thrilled to finally see the 6 mile mark. Shortly after this too Don came out looking for me. I broke out laughing. I knew he was wondering what in God's name I had been doing out there all day. He always complains about the people at races who trail in an hour after most of the other finishers, and today I was one of them. I didn't want to look at my watch because I didn't want to see how late it was. I was going to finish and that's all there was to it.

He handed me a cold towel. "Pat saved one for you." Thanks, Pat. She is a super fast, but had enough empathy for someone not so fast to think about their comfort after the race.

So, over 4 hours. Pretty pathetic, but that was due to the run. Was I trained enough for the race? Not for the run, at least not with the heat issues. Had it been 20 degrees cooler, I probably could have pulled off a good 4 miles before I was reduced to walking. Today that didn't happen, but I did finish. Hopefully pics later.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Probably the only way to put it mildly. Don't want to jinx things. But here's the way the week has worked so far:
  • Tri friend from work breaks arm--probably having surgery just before race. So no tri for her. (As it turns out, she likely will be stuck casted for 6 weeks and either out-patient surgery to "line things up" or none at all).
  • Being told by a "well meaning sort" that I probably don't have enough training to do this race when I said I wasn't volunteering this year. (Okay, we'll see about that!)
  • Rear bike tire has leak at tube stem. Stem bent and no longer allows pumping up. Basically I can't change a flat tire, let alone get the back tire on and off without totally screwing up the bike chain or wanting to pitch the whole thing in the road. So I take it to the bike shop and let them deal with it. I'm not telling Don.
  • Bike computer doesn't work. Most likely battery. But I forgot it didn't work last week either and still, day before the race, don't have a battery because I couldn't even figure out how to get the computer apart to find out what size to get or how to put a battery in. We finally figured it out after almost tearing the whole thing apart, so I'm glad it wasn't just me struggling with it.
  • Brand new pair of goggles--"guaranteed to not leak"--leak. I wasn't going to swim this morning, but some shred of wisdom told me to try the new goggles before tomorrow. While it was wonderful to actually see through the new, clear lenses (my old ones are so scratched and dull I can't even see my watch), there's no way I would want to deal with leaking goggles in a race or otherwise. Its one thing in a clean, chlorinated pool; quite another in a murky lake. No thanks. I'd be imagining infection setting in at every bike mile.
  • Bike tire is flat after riding on it one time. Crap. Get Don to help me with it and find a split on the seam. I blame it on a bad tube and the bike shop should have known. We patched it up but who knows if it will hold? I definitely will be checking that tonight and changing to a new tube if necessary. As I told Don, I don't do flat tires. He laughed when I told him I'd find someone to change it for me. Nothing to laugh about. Oh so true. I'll bring money.
  • Swim suit butt is so thin from wear, I worry about when it will finally wear through, so won't be wearing that in the tri. Also, no elasticity left, so it either bags or clings, neither of which I want to be seen in. Either like an old lady with loose skin or a wet t-shirt contest. Wetsuits cover a lot, but I'm afraid the whole thing will rip apart when I take it off.
  • Tri suit fits again, so most likely will wear that, even with the rough seam that will chafe me raw under my arm (why is it those spots are always near the armpit??). Hard to get on though, like a straight jacket. Have to put it on dry. Once its on, I'll be wearing it for the day. Shorts have a small hole in the seam, and the last time I wore those even to spinning, it rubbed me raw, so I will either have to sew those up or find another pair of shorts (not bike shorts) to wear that likely won't match. The budget can't handle a new pair of bike shorts right now.
  • Eight women out of the maybe 50 in the race are in my age group. Some newbies too, who likely will be on the podium. Just one more notch to add to their belts as they smugly take awards more deserved by those of us who actually train. Can't they find a garage sale or something to go to that day??
  • All training deficits aside, I will survive this tri and hope to do some more this summer.

Three months ago I was looking through my clothes in preparation for spring and was thinking, "I don't have anything to wear." What I really meant was I don't have anything that fits to wear.

So I took stock of my situation and decided then and there enough was enough. I was re-finding myself that had been lost and forgotten for so long. I knew I could find that person there again, lose weight, get back to training seriously, and hopefully get back to doing tris again this year and from now on.

Today after my short swim (to try out new goggles only), I was getting dressed when I suddenly realized: Everything I am wearing is a SMALL. Holy sh##t! When was the last time I actually wore small, small, and small?? I really had to look at the tags on the pants, because I actually had never worn them--white capris. Yup, they say small. And they look good. Not tight. Check out the butt to be sure you can't see through them. Okay, looks good!

My motto then is: if the clothes are tight, you don't wear white! I hate seeing women in the office wearing see through white pants with the big butts. Not attractive in the least. So I am very conscious about not doing the same thing. I have waited since last year to wear these pants. Yahoo!

So now I'm looking at my closet thinking I don't have much to wear because--things are too big!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

So, race day is coming up. I've been trying not to get too worked up about this. After all, if I've trained, it should go okay. If I haven't, its too late to worry now.

Until just now, looking at the participant list, and noticing the women in my age group, I was pretty much okay with being last in the age group, last maybe overall. I've been close before. Looking at the list of names, I don't see anyone who is likely to be slower than me, unless it is one of the older guys, and if he starts before me, that will not be apparent until looking at results, and it is doubtful anyone will look that low on the stats.

So what is bothering me? What's bothering me is there are 8 women in my age group of a total of maybe 50 women. Eight. The biggest age group of women. None older either. And also what's bothering me? I've been doing this for a while now. Never was fast, just get out there and do it. There are 3 new women joining the 50+ age group ranks who have done 1 inside tri this past winter and/or ran their first 25k race this past spring, and all of a sudden they are triathletes. I'm not trying to lessen their desire to compete, but these ladies are tough! They will divide and conquer, that's for sure. What used to be my chance to show them up is now being reduced to nothing. No longer will I be able to distinguish myself from their running by claiming to be a triathlete. Now I can only say, Oh yeah, I do triathlons.

I know I shouldn't lessen my abilities either, but they will surely pale compared to theirs. No matter how long I am out there, it won't count. It will be negated by them stepping up and claiming victory over the sport of triathlon. Now I will have to share the spotlight with them again, as I did in my competitive running days, always being a distant figure behind them.

Ah well, its just for the fun of it, right?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Guilty. That's how I feel. I know it really isn't my fault, yet somehow I feel responsible.

My friend Jan from work who went to the ChiRunning workshop with me, whom I have encouraged and mentored in her running and beginning triathlete endeavors over the past 6 years, fell off her bike and broke her arm/wrist/thumb. As luck would have it, her first crash had to be serious, and now she is out of the tri for next weekend and probably the rest of the season. No swimming or biking, that's for sure. And her big goal is to qualify for Boston for next year.

Why do I feel guilty? Because I feel like if not for me, she wouldn't have even attempted a triathlon. My tales of the Ironman races I had been to got the fire burning, and last year she finally did her first one. We were to do one next weekend--she had finally made the decision to try an Olympic distance, which is a long swim for her. No matter what my time on the swim was, she would be sue to kick my butt on the bike and run.

So I know, its not really my fault, nor should I feel guilty or responsible, but I do. Just my nature. She actually fell trying to clip in and out of her new pedals. I warned her to practice. I warned her against using her foot for a brake like I did on my first crash (tearing a hamstring). I thought I had covered all the "don'ts" but forgot to tell her--don't use your hand to stop yourself.

The break is so severe, she can't even do anything for almost a week until the swelling goes down and she has surgery. And again as luck would have it, it was her dominant hand, so that affects her work. Fortunately she is in a position to work from home most of the time so she doesn't have to get dressed to go out to the office.

But now all her training and hard work are out the window for now. Her two a day workouts that got her recognized at the gym for member of the month; her successful completion of the 25k last month; her age group wins at the indoor tris she did this winter.

I know we are supposed to believe that there is a reason for all things to happen, but I can't help feel bad for her. I am now trying to think of ways to help her rehab.
I should be exhausted, but for some reason I'm not. The last two nights have been late nights in preparation for the weekend graduation party--cleaning, shopping, food preparation, more shopping, etc.

Thursday night was particularly late, after midnight, and then up again at 5:15. Now the old me would have bagged the Friday morning planned run--at least 50 min.--and at most might have done a swim. That would have been an easy day. But the new me was raring to go.

I got to the gym at about 6:30 and found I was the only and first one there. Just an odd feeling, being the only one. Nothing I can relate to after the crowds at the Y the past 6 years. Privacy. Quiet.

I headed out of the basement parking area of my building, running up the ramp with ease. My legs felt like crap at first, due I am sure, to lack of a good night's sleep. But as happened on the last two runs, my ChiRunning took over and within just a few minutes I was fine, concentrating on form, breathing, cadence, and relaxing. It was actually quite chilly that morning, probably cool enough for gloves, but being June, who thinks of such things? So off I go into the cool of the morning, through the downtown streets, across the river, past the post office, the fire station, and turning toward the university. Lots of traffic, but no one really out and about that early. Too much exhaust though. I need to find a different route.

My goal each time is to run until my breathing becomes labored. In the recent past, that would have been after about 10 minutes, but with conscious relaxation and attention to form, the effort is cut to almost nothing until at least 20 minutes, when I might start breathing a little more. I am not running any slower than before, just more effortless. I am still not at the point where I could run a whole marathon or even a 10k without needing to catch my breath, but each time gets me farther before I have to stop. Yes before I could run up to 8 or 9 miles, but I would be exhausted and quite uncomfortable before I even reached the 5 mile mark.

Today, the only thing that caused me to stop part way through my run was the usual need for a bathroom. Fortunately there is a McDonalds on my route, so that might even be a crutch, a reason to stop. I don't know. I don't want to chance it because I know the consequences!

But the more I get into this ChiRunning, the farther I can go without stopping, and the farther I can go before I want to stop. Before, I would time myself for intervals of rest/walking, and couldn't wait until the break. Now I think, well just go a little farther and see how you feel. So a little farther keeps turning into a little farther yet, and before I know it, I am at a turnaround point (and only because of time constraints) and am heading back. At this point, I have taken a minute to reposition myself and check my breathing before heading back.

So 4 miles, and it seemed like the blink of an eye instead of the eternity it did before. I realize some of this new-found endurance comes with more biking endurance, which for me always equals more strength, but it really is the ChiRunning that has put this new twist on my running.

I know I still have a long way to go to accomplish my goals, but each run brings me closer.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


  • How to make my body work harder than it wants to at a time earlier than it wants to;
  • How to get more organized so I can ride longer (or just be late for work, whatever!);
  • How to figure out the early morning nutrition, for the bike time at least (still haven't figured it out for the rest of the day--hungry all the time!);
  • How to get my bike set up and get riding before the mosquitos either eat me alive or drive me crazy;
  • How to deal with the early-morning rude-ass drivers who think them getting to work is the only thing that matters;
  • How to get my legs to turn over better each time;
  • How to enjoy the early morning solitude, satisfying my need for alone time;
  • How to identify the different types of birds that dance about in the morning;
  • How to use this as practice for transitions.

I am also finding out that:

  • the more I ride in the morning, the more I want to ride in the morning;
  • the more I ride on the road, rather than the trail, the more I want to ride on the road;
  • you need to go to the bathroom before you get out there and nothing is open;
  • skunks leave their calling card lots farther than their actual location;
  • its more fun to ride outside than spin inside;
  • the more I ride, the stronger my legs get;
  • that I may not be that fast in my upcoming triathlon, but these morning rides are helping.

These are just some of the things I am discovering on my morning rides. I don't know why I didn't figure out a long time ago that I could ride outside in the morning. I used to do it until I moved into the city. I almost hate to spoil myself since we have such a short biking season, and then have to go back to winter and inside riding again, but I am definitely going to enjoy this while it lasts.


  • How to make my body work harder than it wants to at a time earlier than it wants to;
  • How to get more organized so I can ride longer (or just be late for work, whatever!);
  • How to figure out the early morning nutrition, for the bike time at least (still haven't figured it out for the rest of the day--hungry all the time!);
  • How to get my bike set up and get riding before the mosquitos either eat me alive or drive me crazy;
  • How to deal with the early-morning rude-ass drivers who think them getting to work is the only thing that matters;
  • How to get my legs to turn over better each time;
  • How to enjoy the early morning solitude, satisfying my need for alone time;
  • How to identify the different types of birds that dance about in the morning;
  • How to use this as practice for transitions.

I am also finding out that:

  • the more I ride in the morning, the more I want to ride in the morning;
  • the more I ride on the road, rather than the trail, the more I want to ride on the road;
  • you need to go to the bathroom before you get out there and nothing is open;
  • skunks leave their calling card lots farther than their actual location;
  • its more fun to ride outside than spin inside;
  • the more I ride, the stronger my legs get;
  • that I may not be that fast in my upcoming triathlon, but these morning rides are helping.

These are just some of the things I am discovering on my morning rides. I don't know why I didn't figure out a long time ago that I could ride outside in the morning. I used to do it until I moved into the city. I almost hate to spoil myself since we have such a short biking season, and then have to go back to winter and inside riding again, but I am definitely going to enjoy this while it lasts.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

First Chi Run.

I couldn't wait to practice my ChiRunning but decided to go after work rather than hurry before. By the end of the day on Monday though I was so sleepy I almost talked myself out of it. But I have committed myself to get this thing to work, and after "practicing" for the past month or more, it was time to put this method into real action.

I am not one who likes to run in the heat. Probably because I am so slow that there's never any "quick" run and be done. Added to my slowness, heat usually ends up making the whole ordeal a death march.

To avoid this mental block, I didn't even look at the temperature before heading out. It was a beautiful June day, sunny, with blue skies, a nice treat to enjoy. I didn't want to deny myself the pleasure of experiencing this.

The first thing with ChiRunning is to position yourself. This takes a minute at most and is worth the time. It is like focusing yourself for the run you are about to partake in. Its no different than any other mental focusing, but you do a few physical things (aligning your posture) as well. That can't be all bad. I found during the workshop that by realigning myself before each running drill, by the end of the class I was already holding myself straighter.

So I positioned myself and off I went. Ugh. My legs felt like I had just biked 50 miles. It couldn't be the heat, could it? It didn't feel that hot. But then I remembered that even though we probably didn't run more than 3 miles during the whole workshop, we were on our feet the entire 5 hours of class. That would qualify for something. I persisted, trying to focus on relaxing the hips and my calves, especially, since I had been experiencing tight calves, leading to sore shins too. So I reminded myself to relax, relax the hips, relax the calves, and also relax my feet. I decided to try an exercise the instructor had mentioned as a first test--I would run until my breathing seemed labored and then stop. That was his advice.

Well, surprise, surprise! I normally figure I can't run more than a mile without needing to stop and catch my breath, and today I was over 20 min. before I decided to just turn around! Woo hoo! I actually thought of stopping right there and walking, which is my usual for a minute at least, but the mosquitos were so bad, I was forced to keep moving or get eaten alive. I quickly repositioned myself and off I went.

By this time my focus was really broken for relaxing and concentrating, and we were told at first this would be normal and maybe even to only let ourselves concentrate for that long to start, but I still made it past 30 min. before I actually stopped for a break. This is a huge breakthrough for me! I wasn't as much worn out as just getting a little fatigued, thirsty, and hot. And needing a bathroom. But I managed to go the rest of the way in the run with just that short break and felt fine after. I was not gasping or dying or anything! I know it doesn't sound long for many people, but remember I have been attempting to rebuild my mileage using this method, and until really learning it, I was most likely running too fast.

Go slow to go faster is to become the mantra. Like Larry said, there is no substitute for putting in the miles. We can't get up off the couch so to speak and expect to run a marathon (darn! that's what I was hoping for! :)) We still have to put in the miles. But in this case, the miles are becoming easier and more enjoyable! Can't wait to tackle the hills!

Monday, June 05, 2006 Chi Running Workshop, Sunday, June 4, 2006, Kitchener, Ontario

My friend from work, Jan, and I attended a ChiRunning workshop on Sunday, held in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. It was about a 5.5 hour drive from Grand Rapids, MI, for us. I had been looking at workshops in Chicago, but all the dates when I could make it were filled. When we noticed the June 4 as an open date, we immediately signed up.

I have been interested in Chi Running for a couple of months now. It is a running concept that comes from proper posture and use of core muscles to achieve distance and speed, rather than leg muscles. There's a lot more to it, of course, and without your having read the book or viewed the DVD, you probably won't be able to see the benefit I did in this program.

The workshop was very informative, as it reinforced in my mind that my running form was correct and basically all I needed was to be consistent-both in running and in practicing the posture and "loosening" drills, aimed at loosening up the hips, which is the prime core area.

What I mainly learned was that my past running form has been causing my injuries over the past several years. While I had been a competitive age grouper for many years, once I was injured, it was very hard to go back to competitive running, not only because mentally I was afraid to, but apparently my inner self was protesting too. So with each successive injury, my form got worse and worse, favoring the good to compensate for the bad. Before I knew it, my running form of the past was non-existent and all I seemed to do was injure something the more I persisted with my training.

Part of this most likely was from "muscle memory" meaning your muscles remember how to do something, whether good or bad, and you have to break that "code" to get out of that trap once and for all. Actually by not running much over the past 2 years, I have lost a lot of the muscle memory, making it easier to pick up the concept.

We met at a local Catholic School track in Kitchener, which is a college town, and also seemed to be a very pleasant area. Our group consisted of 10 people, including us, and the instructor, Larry Neumann. Larry did an excellent job of presenting us not only with the concept, but the instructions on proper posture, which is first and foremost, leaning, and relaxation. He believes that "you have to go slower to go faster." This is a concept I have always heard, but I wasn't ever sure it really applied in my case, since I always went slow anyway and no matter how many slow miles I put in, I never seemed to go any faster.

We did many practice drills, and one in particular was in the sand pit. Our instruction was to run across the sand in order to see whether we had a flat, even footfall. From this exercise, you could see whether you pushed off with your toes (not necessary), were a heel striker (prime source of knee injuries), and whether your feet were pointed straight ahead. (The point being that if your feet are pointed sideways and you are running forward, you are torquing your knees.

Since my left foot tends to be the overpronator, and I am constantly "rolling" that ankle because of it, I was quite surprised when my footprints showed my right foot turning out to the right more than the left. I have been having severe heel pain for months and this is most likely the reason--every time I land and my foot is turned, I somehow twist it around straight, causing the wrenching on the heel and the constant pain.

The workshop was approximately 5 hours long. We were lucky that the weather cooperated, as it had rained most of the day before and had turned much cooler than previous days. We were in jackets most of the time, but it was better than sweltering heat. We could have broke for breaks, but none of us wanted to! Everyone in the class was very receptive to the instruction and concept, so none of us were bored at any time. Things moved along quickly, but it still seemed like we were there much longer.

At the end of the session, we were videotaped and then critiqued. I was quite happy to see my form was almost perfect, with just a few minor adjustments necessary (in my opinion more than the instructor). We were also sent the class videos, and upon watching them, the ones I thought had the best form actually need more work. For example, when you pause the videos, you can see whether your body is in proper alignment as we are taught, whether you are a heel striker, toe runner, or stride too much in front of your body (main reason for hamstring injuries, soreness, and muscle imbalance).

All in all, I was very pleased and would recommend this to anyone who suffers constant injuries or muscle soreness when running, especially if you have goals where you want to run more but keep getting injured (that's me!). It was a good investment, as far as I am concerned. After all, how much money do we spend on massages, orthotics, chiropractic, sometimes physical therapy, and especially shoes just so we can run?? For the price of maybe 2 massages, you can achieve the ability to run injury and pain free for the rest of your life. That's what I intend to do.

Friday, June 02, 2006


I finally did what I said I wanted to do--go on a ride before work. It wasn't a long ride, about 50 min., but enough to call it a workout. A perfect morning too.

I debated about riding the slightly hilly route on the road or taking the river trail, and finally decided on the trail. There is a different type of traffic out there on work days from the almost non-existent traffic at that time on weekends. Safety was more important than hills. There are two gravel pits along that stretch of road, and I hate having the gravel trucks whooshing past me. The speed limit is only 25 mph, but apparently that doesn't apply to them. If they are going less than 50 mph at any given time, I would be surprised. Its not uncommon to almost get blown off your bike by these guys.

So along the river I went. I was glad there wasn't much wind, since the cottonwood trees are in full shedding mode right now, so instead of riding through a blinding cotton storm, things were calm, with the fluff covering the road and the top of the water like a late season slushy snowstorm. Good thing too since I forgot my sunglasses.

The bike problem from the weekend has mostly been taken care of--bent derailleur, which is why I couldn't get the chain off the small chain ring. Still a few minor things need some work, but all in all the bike is moving along better.

I noticed the river on this first winding stretch, looking brown and stagnant from heavy rains this week. Part of this, I'm sure, is the fact that there are 3 wastewater treatment plants in the area from 3 separate municipalities, and the smell was a pungent reminder. I forgot though that I was still in the middle chain ring, and once I got off the winding part of the path, I shifted onto the big ring and my pace picked up.

I was the only one out, at least at this time, except for one old man wearing some exotic looking bike gear I can't even describe. It looked like he had a bright yellow turban on instead of a helmet and a purple flowing cape. Maybe. . . . Other than that, I was out there alone. This worried me a little since there are no houses along this whole stretch, and it is pretty much out of view of any traffic from the road, and while one part of the road is exclusively for bikes or recreational people, the other is for cars, so I am always on the watch for those appearing to be trolling for trouble. There are always people fishing in this area too, so its not surprising to see people, but this morning there was no one. Until this bike path was established, it was a pretty desolate stretch of road, attracting all sorts of low life. The road was finally shut to all traffic until 5:30 a.m. to prevent things like crimes taking place there. Like I said, it is pretty much shielded from any prying eyes.

Before I knew it, it was time to think of heading back. I wanted to keep to a specific time in order to make some attempt to get to work on time. I had the luxury of my "private" gym to change in right in my building, saving me at least 20-30 minutes of hassle time, but I still wanted to get there ahead of the 8 o'clock crowd and avoid the 7:30 crowd as well. I just don't like the idea of walking into my building in sweaty workout clothes, no makeup, and helmet hair. Its an image thing.

Good ride. Nice way to start the day. I think I need to do this again sometime.