Monday, July 31, 2006

The Road to Glory is Not Paved With. . . .

Not sure what the ending is, but I could add my own. Regarding the virtual "race" within the office, even though I have clearly done the miles and entered my mileage log on time, no official win has been forthcoming. In fact, there was the somewhat expected question about my having reached the goal so soon. Apparently, and according to the "conversion chart" we are supposed to use to log points that equal eventual miles, my 169 miles of biking in one week, at an average of 15 mph, doesn't fit the "norm." The chart says 10 mph, so exactly how fast was I biking? No way I was biking 15 mph in 55 min. Its not on the charts. I think the chart has been adapted from the Mall Walkers Guild of America. My HR person actually wanted to dispute the fact that since my 15 miles didn't figure on the 10 mph chart, it somehow wasn't right--or didn't count. (I know this sounds confusing, but it actually makes no sense the way it was presented to me either.) I told her about the wonders of bike computers and the fact that I normally bike faster than this in races and in training, but somehow the concept of anyone, let alone me, biking 15 mph blew her mind.

So I guess we'll see what happens. Its disappointing only in the fact that after all the work, there are no congratulations, only disbelief that anyone could achieve 175 miles in one week. I know what I did, and I can live with the sniping, but I still want my prize!
July 2006 Bike Odyssey--Virtual Race to Traverse City, MI--Epilogue--Things I've Learned

At the end of any journey or goal achieved, I feel there should be something learned from the experience. What I learned is as follows:

I was surprised by the physical and emotional changes that came over me as day after day I plugged along at the 175 mile goal. The actual period of time given was from July 24 to September 5, approximately 6 weeks. When I heard about the contest, the prize became secondary to the win. My goal was to accomplish this in 1 week, or not more than 8 days, taking into consideration other life experiences, work, and weather.

As each day progressed, my initial fatigue passed and I felt myself grow stronger and become more determined. It wasn't that hard, but it wasn't easy. It was more mental than physical. It was a true indication of "the body can do what the mind lets it." And while I am a 100% goal oriented person, I haven't really set my sights on anything of this magnitude for quite some time, probably at least since my last marathon 3 years ago. Then I went on a total downslide for the next 2.5 years. And the bottom line here was I did not have to do this. I wanted to, regardless of the prize.

Of course the biggest question in my mind that kept playing over and over was: if I can do 175 miles in one week, can I do 140.6 in one day?? I decided I could. At least I could try. I had learned I can commit myself to a long-term goal, breaking it down day by day, week by week, month by month, and hopefully without breaking me physically. This past week has left me stronger in both mind and body, and I can't imagine now not giving the whole IM thing a shot. Its not that it hasn't been on my mind for a long time, or that I am not constantly exposed to it. I just did not have the confidence in myself to tackle something like this--until now.

And so, tomorrow's another day!
July 2006 Bike Odyssey--Virtual Race to Traverse City, MI--Day 7--(19.5 miles--176 total)

Victory Lap! Yeah, I made it, and after totalling up my miles realized I went a mile further than necessary. And, for the information of our HR department, Traverse City is only 139 miles from GR, not 175. I practically made it to the Mackinac Bridge with that distance!

I had debated over whether to do the whole 19.5 that day or break it up with a run on Monday, but the more I thought of it, the more necessary it became to get this trip over. I was driven to get the whole almost 20 done and hit the beach. The weather was predicted to be hotter than the day before, and the Lake Michigan water temps were predicted to be near 80! Bath water! Listening to the weather, I did hear there were bad storms in eastern Wisconsin, expected to NOT affect our weather, only to hit shore way NORTH of GR. (more on that later).

I did take the time to do some cleanup at home, something I had been neglecting not only due to the heavy duty training but also to the heat. Not having air conditioning does not leave me motivated to do much once I get home at night. My main objective is keeping cool. Any unnecessary movements, especially away from a fan, are avoided at all costs!

I did want to get out the door by 8:30 am however, to get done and be ready to hit the lake by late morning. I arrived at the park and realized just how still and unmoving the air was. Heavy. Cloudy. The sky was white. As soon as I headed out to ride, I ran into Libby, finishing up a run. She was hot and dragging. She had biked 100 miles the day before, yet she was out here again in this inferno going at it again. I told her about the contest and where I was with it, she wished me well, and we headed in our separate directions.

As soon as I hit the bike trail, I started seeing all the Sunday morning runners. They were a ragtag bunch today, dragging in from the heat and humidity. The only ones looking fresh and peppy were IronRich and IronMikey. Even IronDan didn't look that good when I saw him later. They all had biked 115 the day before (or maybe longer knowing them!).

As the days have worn on, my legs have not felt as bad as I feared. The only thing I notice is when I first start out, I'm a little slow, but once I get going, the pace picks up. Today, though, it wasn't going to be over 19mph, and that would only be on any downgrade.

I came upon a woman I have seen every day out there since I started this journey. Amazing that there are other people out there, with no obvious training motives, doing the same thing. I suspect, in her case, however, that she is one of those OCD people (and I'm not??). So I pedal along, trying to figure out how to make a 19 mile route out of a 15 mile route--add on here, add on there, etc. Finally I come up with a plan and decide to go with that. I would have to also go by time, since of course the computer isn't working properly. Once I hit 15 miles, I will pretty much have to guess. Mentally, my mind will not allow me to do two loops over the river, which would solve the problem. It wasn't so much the biking any more, just the time spent doing it. And I still wanted to get in a half mile swim.

Appropriately enough today, I wore my yellow jersey, sort of like at the end of the Tour. After all, this was a victory lap for me. I had worked hard, I deserved to win, and I had better win! I was so glad to pull into the parking lot and be done with this ride today! I couldn't help notice how weird the sky looked. Not really like it would rain, but a whole lot cloudier than expected and predicted. I really wanted to get in the lake today, so it had better not even consider raining! I hurried to the gym, did my half mile, and I was done! Head over to work to fill in my log and after I was here a while, I notice how dark it is getting outside. What the...? I check the radar and there is this huge yellow/red blob heading right for us! This was NOT supposed to hit here today.

So I am disappointed in the fact that for the next few hours we are having major thunderstorms, heavy rain, and dark skies. No Lake Michigan today! But later in the day, it does clear up and I head to my sister's pool. Small consolation, I guess.

Now I will wait to see how it plays out with this contest. First prize is a gift card to Grand Traverse Resort. I'll probably use it for some weekend when we have a race up there though!

Totals for 7 days: Bike: 169 miles
Run: 6 miles
Swim: 1 mile
Total: 176 miles

And even though the "race" is over, tomorrow's another day!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

July 2006 Bike Odyssey--Virtual Trip to Traverse City, MI--Day 6--52 miles (156.5 total)

Today was going to be the longest part of the journey--52 biking miles. I hadn't done this route since late last year, and by this time last summer had done it twice, so while I was ahead in other areas of my training, my biking miles were behind--until this week. It was predicted to be hot--record heat for the day in fact, but that did not dissuade me from my plan. I was getting closer to the goal now, so it was just a matter of sticking with it for a few more workouts.

I had hoped to start early, by 7:30 am, to avoid some of the heat, but with one thing and another (kids needing rides; talking with my sister about dad issues; and then trying to find the mid-point of the Musketawa Trail trailhead, it was 10:30 before I got started. Just suck it up and take it as it comes, I told myself.

I decided on starting at the midway point to make it easier to get cold water and take breaks. That would be 13 miles out, 13 back. Stop, refuel. Thirteen miles the other way, 13 back. There were only a few cars in the lot when I arrived. There were 4 bikers on breaks under the shade of the trees, but absolutely no shade to park in. Whatever.

So I headed west, toward Lake Michigan. This part of the trail runs through the backyards of mostly farms and rural homes, and it is pretty much wide open with no shade or trees to break the wind. Today I felt that fully! No shade was one thing, but the wind was strong and a total headwind. Oh yeah, this was going to be interesting! And while the trail appears to be mostly flat, there is at least a 1-2% grade change throughout, especially on this section, so I started out at 12-13mph and often times dropped to 10 and finally down to 6 when the winds were the strongest! So my first 13 mile section was 59 min. So much for hoping for less than 4 hours!

I took a break at the end of this stretch. Its a deceiving point, because you keep thinking you are going to be done, and then there's another crossroad to go over. And I had forgotten that the end of this part was near the county prison. Its such an ominous place to see, as I am freely wheeling along, with a grim reminder what lived beyond those walls, where people were caged, for years or life. Made me very thankful for what I am and have. I decided I would eat something now, as I was at least 1 hour behind my planned starting time and wanted to keep up the energy.

Turn and go back and immediately feel the difference with a tailwind. 17-19 mph easily, yeah! Make up for some lost time hopefully. One thing about this part of the trail is that is is marked in half mile increments so it was easy to keep track of where I was and how much farther to the end again. I was surprised at the lack of people on the trail, but I suspect the heat kept them away. It was hot, no doubt, and with no shade if you weren't moving it would be unbearable. I have become quite accustomed to the heat over the past few weeks, and with no air conditioning at home, it wasn't that big of a deal. As long as I had my cold water! But even well planned things go awry, and my frozen bottle was the same temperature as my non-frozen bottle. It tasted okay though.

Close to the end of this 13 mile stretch, there were 2 things that made it interesting. One was a young woman out "walking." She was swinging her hips so much I thought she might throw her back out. And as I got closer, I got an eyeful! A tank top so tight you could see everything, and shorts so short her cheeks were hanging out! Ewww. Watch out honey, you're going to get sunburn where the sun shouldn't be shining! Next, I saw ahead what looked like someone riding a lawnmower or some other sort of 3 wheeled vehicle. As I approached, I could see easily that it was someone on a riding lawnmower. Probably borrowing it and going to his house ahead. Who knows what really was going on, because as I approached, the guy swerved from one side of the path to the other. Okay, this has to stop. I was directly behind him and I yelled "coming through!" He turned and looked quite surprised that anyone would be coming up behind him on a bike. In fact, he appeared to have the IQ of a marble. It was obvious he was mentally challenged and probably was out joyriding. "You need to get over! Get over! Why are you out here anyway?" I yelled. No acknowledgement. Oh, well, just let me by.

Back at the car, and still no shade anywhere except near the picnic area. Two bikers on a break, just staring at me like I was some sort of freak. Switch water bottles, get something else to eat, and pack up to head out. Hot. No shade. 26 more miles. My mind was calculating and recalculating again. Maybe I should just do 39 and finish this up tomorrow? That would be to the next stop 5.5 miles out. It really is hot. No way! I do not want to do 35 miles again tomorrow! Okay, just do the first loop and see how it goes. Once you get to the end, you will have to come back and you will be done.

This went on and on as I started on my third loop. This loop was mentally hard, because no matter how you did the whole route, this was the end, and it always seemed to go on forever. At first, I was cranking along at 16-17 mph, but then it suddenly hit me, and I was dragging at 10 mph. I must have a flat! Get off and check, and no, no flat. Just "flat" legs. This was one of those imperceptible inclines and it was kicking my butt. I seriously was rethinking again what I wanted to do. Fortunately this part was short lived and I was able to pedal through it. By the time I made it to the first stop on this section, where I told myself I would stop, I rode on through. I wanted to get this done! As expected, the next 7.5 miles dragged. Lots of cross streets, but thankfully very little traffic, so no waiting. Again, a deceiving part of the route, because someone has marked the last 2 miles and it seemed a whole lot longer. You keep thinking it has to end but it keeps on and on.

Again, I noted very little other people out and about, and this part of the route is almost half shade, so apparently other sensible people were beating the heat in pools or lakes, or whatever. But not along this path, however. Of the 4 really nice pools I saw in people's yards, none were being used. I'm not beneath begging, I thought. I'd jump in if you'd let me!

The end of loop 3 was done and this time it was 50 min., as was my second loop. I figured I was going to get a face full of wind going back, so figured another 55-60 min. at least, but mercifully the wind has died down, or else the tree cover was blocking it, because I never noticed it and kept up at least a 15 mph pace. The last two miles again are marked with trail markers, but I'm not really sure how accurate this is. I was just hopeful they were right, because I was cranking a little harder to get done. With my figuring of the other loops, I might be able to pull off getting done in 3:45, which would be at least 4 min. faster than any time last year! The end came finally: 3:44! Yes, get off this bike, clean up, head for the lake or someplace cool!

Headed out to Lake Michigan and the water was 75 degrees! A real treat. Relaxed for a couple of hours before heading back home to the hot box. Only 19.5 miles to go! Tomorrow's another day.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

JULY 2006 Bike Odyssey--Virtual Trip to Traverse City, MI--Day 5--3.5 miles (103.5 total)

Friday, finally. Today I didn't have to think as much about what I was going to do, didn't have to bring the bike or hustle to the park in the dark. Just run. Three miles. Inching forward. Enough. While I didn't feel like I needed a rest day (that's good!), I wanted to have an easy day before the weekend's long ride. And today it wasn't raining either. Just 72 degrees and 98% humidity. Almost like a sauna instead!

My left hamstring has been acting up a little. Its not tight, but it is twinging. I couldn't figure it out until this morning--its from when I fell off the bike the very first day onto pavement. That's what gave me a backache the first day too. Little things that can mess up a training plan and haunt you for a while.

I figured I might feel it running, but with my new Chi form, nothing hurts, so it wasn't an issue as long as I didn't overstride, which you aren't supposed to with Chi running.

Everyone who saw me heading out to run today said, "Its too hot out there" "its too muggy out there" to run. Better now than later. I have to get this done. So I headed out through the downtown area to the park and along the river. Better there than on the streets with the traffic and exhaust in the air. It seems much worse in the morning, and I remember hearing years ago that air pollution is actually worse in the early morning hours. You can taste it, so its got to be true.

This was going to be just a "mindless" run, where I just follow the river and don't think of anything else. Its been surprising to me to see my endurance for running improve 100% this week, where I thought it might be the opposite. Again the words "you need to do the longer stuff to make the short stuff seem easy" rang in my ears. This was easy. Only 30 min. max today. Put on the shoes, head out the door, go for 15 min., turn around. Easy.

Crazy thoughts have started forming in my head too about the possibiity of an IM next year. I talked about it last year, I've hinted at it maybe for next year, but then got away from the idea completely. Now I am headed toward it again. This week has been a discovery about what I can do if I put my mind to it. As they say, anything is possible.

I am one of those people who wants everything lined up before I make a decision to do something. Its my nature. I'm not impulsive generally. Impulsive moves have always led to disaster for me. But here I am, thinking of doing an IM, and just because I have undertaken this self-imposed contest this week!

What changed me? The knowledge that even after 5 days of tripling my normal workouts, I am still at it and willing to keep going until I finish this thing. That's the same thing with IM. You have to train until the race. You have to commit to keep at it every day until the race to avoid certain failure. So I have discovered that the thing that scared me the most wasn't just the race itself, but the commitment to train. I didn't think I could. This has showed me I can if I want to.

Run done and decided to do a half mile swim. No more time, and I had to keep reminding myself to keep it easy today. Tomorrow's another day!

Friday, July 28, 2006

July 2006 Bike Odyssey--Virtual Trip to Traverse City, MI--Day 4 (30 miles) (100 total)

Wednesday night's bike ride wasn't bad, I thought to myself this morning. In fact, I am finally getting used to this bike thing. But I really can't wait to be done with this trip, at least for a couple of days. So while I have been modifying, calculating, and refiguring each day's mileage to add up to the final destination, I decided day 4 would be all bike, and not just the 25 or 26 I have been getting in, but a full 30. I was ready to go earlier than usual, even though again, it was quite overcast and dark. But no rain was predicted, at least for the earlier part of the day. Today the temperature was 69 degrees, and the humidity was at 100%. No coat or long sleeves today. And again, while my legs have been initially tired on starting out, today I am flying faster than any day since. That initial first and second day fatigue have worn off, and now it seems as if adrenaline is pumping me forward. Its also the fact that tonight would be my last double bike for a while at least. I was really looking forward to the end of that! I actually ended up going over my planned pre-work 15 mile ride by taking a slightly different route, but I figured that would just be in the bank for later that day if necessary.

All during the day, I checked and rechecked the radar, since they did say there was a possibility of storms later, but there was only one small, tiny in fact, blob, coming on shore way north of GR, so I didn't figure it would be a problem.

I have been obsessed with trying to decide what to do this weekend--to push myself and finish this up or divide it up and be done on Tuesday, August 1, which was my goal. My instincts told me to just go the distance and get it done early, so as to taper for the next weekend when there was a tri I wanted to do, but I was holding off until after this was done to decide. I planned to run Friday and then do a long bike Saturday, with possibly two shorter bikes Sunday and Monday. Figuring all of this, I had a flashback of a conversation I had with Don at the tri last week. He said, "You need to do some longer stuff [to make the short stuff seem easy]." This last part I had forgotten until today. I wasn't in the mood after the tri to hear any advice, particularly from a multi-time Ironman who was used to all this ultra stuff. I felt he was being critical of the effort I had put in that day, which to me was a major accomplishment.

But then, as I am thinking of the run on Friday, and how to incorporate the shorter bikes into the completion of this "journey," the part about the short stuff being easier suddenly jumped out at me. He's right. After this, the shorter stuff should seem easy. And to tell the truth, the short stuff hasn't seemed easy for so long, I'm not sure if it ever did!

So that helped me decide what to do for the weekend. Get the long stuff out of the way and do a victory lap on Monday.

I decided to leave work 10 min. early to get on the road and get the second bike of the day done and get home EARLY--only so I had time later that night to go shopping and do laundry (yipee!). I had heard it was pretty warm out, and once I arrived at the park and got my bike out, I had to agree. Not only was it really warm out, there was absolutely no air movement and there were threatening clouds overhead. Great, just so I get this done before the rain hits. But then I'm thinking, that's really not that bad if it rains, just inconvenient.

I didn't get even 4 miles into my ride when I felt the drops and could see on the river that it was in fact starting to rain. Just pedal harder, I told myself. It was getting dark too, so I suspected we were in for a good storm. Not too many people out, and the ones that were appeared to be "leisure" riders and probably were unaware of the brewing storm when they started out. I picked up my pace as the drops continued, but after a while I wasn't sure if it was raindrops or raining bugs, as I was getting "sprayed" by something pinging off my helmet and glasses and face. It had to be bugs!

By the time I got to the turnoff, it actually looked like it might hold off on the rain. It was hard to see the sky because of the canopy of trees overhead, and I was no longer right along the river. But, during the last 2.5 miles, I started feeling drops occasionally and as I rode into the parking lot, the thunder started and more big drops began to fall. I no sooner got the bike packed up and into my car when more drops started. I decided to take the time to go to the gym and do a quick shower so I could stop at the grocery on the way home instead of waiting until later. By the time I got done with that, it was as if it had never rained. I started driving home and BAM, then the rain starts, a white sheet in front of me. I just made this ride without getting soaked, yes!

Again, surprisingly, I felt pretty good tonight. I wasn't overly tired, just hungry but not famished. I packed extra food items for the day, making it easier. I actually made dinner, went shopping, and did laundry before I decided I had to go to sleep. Tomorrow would be another day!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July 2006 Bike Odyssey--Virtual Race to Traverse City, MI--Day 3, 18 miles (70 total)

od·ys·sey ( P ) (d-s)n. pl. od·ys·seys
1. An extended adventurous voyage or trip.
2. An intellectual or spiritual quest: an odyssey of discovery.

I would say so far, this journey has become both 1 and 2. Its been a trip so far, that's for sure! Day 3 began with a quick check of the weather, with rain showers looming. My coffee hadn't even finished brewing when it started. Should I go with Plan B (running) or try for Plan A (biking)? Today its really dark out there, and rain. Maybe today I should run. I need to incorporate that into this program too. And I am sick of the same route on the bike. Truthfully, I am sick of the bike right now too. Man, did I wimp out early or what?? I decided to bring bike clothes for later in the day, but still wasn't sure. In fact, I no sooner got headed to the park when another downpour started. And it was darker today than yesterday. Okay, run it is.

I almost wimped out there too and hit the pool, but made myself get out the door. I was glad I did, since the rain had pretty much stopped and it was just a light mist. Whew, did my legs feel trashed. Fortunately, this only lasted a minute and I then was just plodding along. I decided to get in at least 3 miles, since I had an 8:30 appointment and was just not going to have time for more. I kept looking at my watch: 5 min., 6 min., 8 min. 9 min. Okay, I'll walk at 15 and turn around. At 15 I kept going. Twenty, 25, 26, and I'm almost back to my starting point. Whoa! That's 2 min. faster than on the way out! So I had to keep going to get at least to 30 min., and ended up at 32:55, so I'm figure on 3+ miles, but will round to 3 for now and up later if I need it. :)

What to do tonight? I was thinking of swimming, at least a mile, have an "easy" day and then hit it on the bike again tomorrow. But then the chatter starts in the office about so and so who comes in every day now and tells everyone what mileage he's up to. (Somehow I get excluded from hearing this, but one of my friends lets me know I am still ahead. :)) So that changes things some. I feel okay after the run, so maybe 15 on the bike again tonight, 15 tomorrow morning, 15 tomorrow night, Friday run 3? That puts me over 100 by Saturday. More math. I will wait and see again as the day unfolds.

After work, I decided it would have to be a bike. I was too motivated to just swim. I felt fine too, and the weather was good. Tonight was the night to spend with my daughter and her kids, but I could still squeeze in a bike and meet them for dinner and something after. So I push it, push it, push it to get done. My legs definitely were feeling the third day of biking, and after the run this morning they actually felt better than biking twice, but it was taking me a few minutes to really get spinning, but once I do, I find I am going faster than usual, and decidedly faster than even two months ago on the same course. So maybe this is helping? It has to because it sure it hurting too!

Because of the morning rains, the bike path was still wet, but cool because of it. I was seeing lots of runners from the Wednesday night group whom I never see since I usually do not work out on Wednesday nights. I could tell who it was coming by their gait before I reached them. There weren't a lot of them, so I wasn't sure if this was the sum total of the group or if people were cutting it short because of the weather. It was humid but not that hot. I think they were more surprised to see me than anyone else.

I was happy when I was done since I had really upped the planned workout of the day and still felt pretty good. Tomorrow would be another day.

July 2006 Bike Odyssey--Virtual Race to Traverse City, MI--Day 2--26 miles. (total: 52)

Day 2 started again at 5 am. After having gotten up twice in the night to hit the Alleve, my back was feeling quite a bit better, enough so that I wasn't concerned it would become a big problem later in the journey. I decided to do some icing while drinking my coffee and sitting at the computer for a while. Checking the weather though it was obvious it might rain at some point that day, but the prediction was for 8 am or later. Um, yeah, that's probably why its raining right now?? Well, I'll get ready anyway and Plan B can be to do a run, Plan C a swim. I'm not opposed to riding in the rain, but it concerned me some because it was SO dark yet and already 6:15. I packed the car (as if going on a week's vacation!) in the rain, but still decided I would take a wait-and-see approach on what to do. The rooster down the street (yes, I live in the city) was crowing about now. Sorry buddy, but I beat you to it today.

As I drove to the park, the rain was letting up. It was still street light dark, but hopefully by the time I got the bike out and ready it would be light enough to head out. By the time I arrived at the park, the rain was letting up to just a fine mist and it was getting lighter by the minute. It was going to be a late start though, so I was going to have to do some figuring on how far I could get in and still be reasonably on time for work. I decided to wear my white zip up that day to be visible, both on the road and the path. It was too warm for a jacket and it was red, so not as visible.

I headed down the path again, flat and fast. My legs felt surprisingly good, but I realized early on that I desparately needed to clean my chain because of all the sand from the tri and the sand on the path on Monday. Now it was wet sand, and I could hear it grinding when I changed gears. There was more broken twigs and debris on the road again today, but I was clipping along quite fast and basically just road over the stuff. Same amount of people out, probably anywhere from 6-10. Same old man, same trash pickers, same commuters. It was getting to be a recognition factor as we passed each other.

I knew I would have to cut it short so only planned on 45 min. or around 12-13 miles. I was guessing 12.5, since of course the computer was off. I had finally figured out a way to keep track of distance, based on the fact that it was 6 mph off. So for every 30 min., I deducted 3 miles from my total; every 15, 1.5. That came out pretty true to distance, so I went with that.

Then 4 miles from finishing, the deluge started. It poured hard enough that I had a hard time seeing for a couple of minutes. It wasn't that bad getting wet, but was glad I had the zip up on. Then my shoes started filling with water. Squish, squish. Other than that, not too bad. The last part of the trail was flooded this time, being a low area and one that washes out also, so I just kept the steering steady and didn't break and coasted through the puddle. Then it was hustle to the gym to get changed. I looked like a drenched rat. My socks were filthy and gray from the road spray and my shorts were actually squishing in the car when I sat. I had remembered to bring a towel, which helped keep the seats clean, but here I was with a whole load of wet clothes!

The second ride of the day came after work. I knew I would have to do at least another 12.5 miles, but once I got going, it wasn't so bad. I wasn't hungry and as tired as the day before, so I wasn't crabby either! Everything was okay, and my legs felt good. I was flying along actually and ended up doing 14.5. I had to make myself stop, because I really did not want to overdo it and end up like I did on Monday.

Everyone is asking me what my distance is, but I'm pretty much keeping quiet. I really am not that worried anyone else will beat me, but I also want to be sure. Keep them guessing!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

July 2006 Bike Odyssey: Virtual Race to Traverse City, Michigan--26.5 miles down (I can't seem to add the map so I can't show how far this is)

Day 1: I couldn't wait for this day to start. I had been planning this first day since I first heard about our work "virtual race" to Traverse City contest. I had decided early on that the easiest and fastest way for me to reach the goal of 175 miles was to ride my bike--every day until I got there.

Five a.m. Monday morning came early, especially after doing the tri over the weekend and being at the beach late Sunday night. I knew I couldn't actually get on the road until at least 6:30 a.m., but nonetheless I woke up before the alarm. A quick check of the weather indicated it was likely we would have showers sometime that day, and my plan was to break my daily increments into two rides--one before work, the other after. I figured I could handle 25-40 miles a day that way, taking other aspects of my life into account as well. Today would be at least 25 miles.

Packed up the day's breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and added to that all the clothes I would need for 2 rides and work clothes. Its amazing all the stuff you have to bring on these early morning workouts when you know you won't be home for at least 12 hours!

It was darker this morning longer, a sure sign we were creeping slowly to the "darker" side of mornings. It wouldn't be much longer and morning rides before work would be out. :( But it was calm and the temperature was cool, calling for long sleeves.

I arrived at the park at 6:30 a.m. and quickly went about setting up my bike. Just like a transition sort of. I'm getting faster. Tires were okay, no need to pump today. Remember to do that at night when you have more time though! was a reminder I needed. Got on the bike and noticed my computer had not reset itself as it usuallt did. Probably because of all the rolling at the tri, it was still on that distance and time. So I was fiddling with that, already clipped in with one foot and wouldn't you know it! Toppled over and ended up with the bike on top of me! Great way to start this trip! Also first "crash" of the season and it had to be a stupid bike trick. Skinned up knee and elbow but nothing bleeding. Good reason to have long sleeves.

I decided to just take the river route since it was flat and fast and I knew how far to go before turning back. My computer is forever trashed and no one can seem to calibrate it properly, so I have to guesstimate on distance and keep track of time. That is something I will be getting new soon when the bike shop has its sale next week!

It has gotten fairly predictable whom I will see riding in the morning. I suspect some people are riding to work because of their backpacks, and I think that is great. Naturally they are all guys. I have thought of doing it, but you know, with the helmet hair and all. .. :) The others are the trash pickers, the ones with the fairly decent bikes (go figure) who scour the trash bins for returnable cans and who knows what other treasures that catch their fancy. There's also this old guy, I think someone said in his 80s, who rides 25-30 miles a day every day. That got me thinking, if he can do that, I can do this bike journey too.

The path was littered with lots of sticks, twigs, and sand, the aftermath of last week's storm. You have to be watching the whole way to not run over the stuff or wipe out in the sand traps. But at least no traffic. No one fishing today either.

Lots of thoughts go through my mind as I pedal away. Keep it easy, don't try pushing the pace. You've got a lot of distance to cover, no need to hurry that much. Here's the workout time where I question whether or if I will ever do an Ironman race. This is just the type of schedule I would need to keep. Is this something I can and be willing to do for probably 5-6 months?? Then of course today I'm doing the math on this bike thing. If I do 25 today...I could do 15 this morning, less than an hour...that would only mean 10 tonight (when I have all this other stuff to do). Maybe I could run tomorrow. No, stick with the bike for now. Use running as a Plan B....On and on it went.

Fifteen miles, 53 min. Okay, not bad. Hurry to get to gym and get dressed for work.

As the morning unfolds, I have told a couple of people about my ride and fall this morning and they are very encouraging. Then the e-mail chatter starts about Lake Placid. I had totally forgotten it was IMUSA this past weekend! So the e-mails begin with Frank saying he is signing up. Then Dan, then Libby, Mike, Melissa, Deb, Pat and of course our own Shelley. I knew she would jump on this. So it looks like another party next July! It was unbelievable how fast it sold out. And it was pretty obvious how addicting IM is to all these people. They just can't keep their fingers off that "Send" button!

At noon I had to take my car in for a paint job, to fix the lovely scratched up mess someone bestowed upon my vehicle while I was away at IMCDA--$1200 worth! I was going to need a loaner and of course I had to make sure it would hold my bike! I arrived at the place and the woman there was very accommodating about the bike thing. I explained about the contest and the triathlon thing, and she made sure the car they loaned would hold my bike. Yes, it did, wheel off, stuffed in the back seat, but that's what I used to do with my old car, so not a big deal. As luck would have it, the only pop-up storm on the radar had to hit at that exact moment in time while we were doing all this, so would have gotten soaked had she not held an umbrella over me the whole time! Thanks!

Get back to work, and the IMUSA e-mails continued. I wasn't going to get much work done today! Missed my chance to really eat my lunch, not just the salad and yogurt I had packed. I wasn't that hungry right then, but I was thinking of the second workout later.

Five o'clock couldn't come soon enough and I was out the door in a flash, change, and hurry to the park. My phone rings just as I am pulling up. Dang! My daughter. I don't talk to her very often so quickly talked, told her I would call later. I was on a hurry-up-and-get-this-ride-done mission because I still had to shop for dinner and stop at the cemetery. It was hot (91 degrees), and I was hungry and crabby. Lesson learned: don't skip lunch! Snacks don't cut it.

I started my second bike ride of the day, grumbling. :) Man, was I crabby! I know I only got about 5 hrs. sleep the night before, so that would have to change tonight, but I was already contemplating the delay getting home and to bed. Meeting up with my sister later so we could go to the cemetery was an exercise in patience, because she was never ready for anything when she was supposed to.

I pedaled on and my legs felt surprisingly good. I was actually pedaling at 17 mph without any effort. Flat and fast, I think I will keep with that again today! But then for some reason, half-way into my short ride I decided to take another part of the path, away from the river. Too late I spotted a tree down across the road, apparently from last week's storm still. It was very windy out, but I don't think that had just happened. So, turn back and head over the river after all. Ah, the wind. Yet another factor in this ride. It was easy going out; so much for the 17mph returning! Going back was not going to be as quick, and I soon tired of having the wind in my face. I really wanted to get this over with now. Then my phone rings yet again! Aaagh! I was tired enough I just decided to stop and answer and it was Don. Yeah, I'm on the bike. Yes, again! Talk to you later! Grumble some more and get going.

Heading back, I was going to have to cross the bridge over the river. As I approached, I could see a rider coming from the opposite direction. I would be making a right turn, he a left turn. I had the right of way, and I was there first, but guess who was rude and cut me off?? "I thought I could make it before you did" was his lame excuse, causing me to veer over and into a branch that had fallen and I hadn't seen in time, but avoiding another crash. "Yeah, thanks. I know your ride is more important." Like I said, I was really, really grumpy. I do not like these after work workouts, especially when I already had done one that day!

Was I going to make this journey? I was negotiating and renegotiating the whole distance, how to do it, etc. and before I knew it I missed another turn to go back! Rats! I need to get done. I have at least 2 hrs. ahead of me before I can get home! So I gladly turned in the middle of the road and went back. Hurried back to the gym for a quick shower and discovered my lower back was very tight! Very tight. Great. Nothing hurt on the bike. Nothing feels pulled. Then I realized it might be the loaner car. The seats were quite a bit different, and I am extremely sensitive to any change in my car seat. Stretch some and I am able to stretch but the soreness is there. Shower and realize how good that feels. But I was drained. It was creeping up on me.

In that moment, I decided I was not going to wait for my sister to go to the cemetery. I was going to shop for groceries and then go by myself. That way I wouldn't have to be waiting around for who knew how long for her. I was really miserable my back hurt so much. Shopping was a chore, and I had to stand around for more than 10 min. to get something I needed when no store personnel was anywhere near to help out. I paged 5 times before someone showed up! (Reminder: file a complaint on their on-line survey!) So then I am running later and later. It is after 8 pm! Its dark out too, with black stormy clouds moving in. Storm warnings were for other areas, but it was obvious we could get hit too. Hurry to the cemetery and decide I can't feel guilty for hurrying this along. The basket of flowers we put there earlier in the spring still looked nice. The flowers I brought that day I realized when I arrived were wilted and falling apart, and with the wind, they were pretty much almost done for by the time I got them arranged. Sorry mom. I'll have to come back later this week. I kept telling myself not to feel guilty. There really was no need to bring anything, but again my sense of obligation got the best of me.

I headed home, feeling so tired and achy and was glad to get dinner, clean up and go to bed! I could barely keep my eyes open by the time it was almost 10 pm. Tomorrow would be another day.

Monday, July 24, 2006

More Race Pics. Not necessarily of me, but IMCD and Muncie.
Five Years.

Its been 5 years today since my mom died. That was the day I stopped being who I was and suddenly became what everyone else needed me to be. For five years I put things aside that I wanted to or should have done. I still have to do things I don't want to do, but I am again doing things I want or need to do.

Life does go on for the living, and sometimes it takes a while to spring back from hurts and heartaches. I am honoring my mom today, but also am taking the time to be me again. I don't think she would have wanted it any other way. And I also don't think others in the family expect me to be there for them all the time either, even though I probably am. I finally had to put an end to never putting myself first, and that's how I made a comeback to trathlon and living.

Clark Lake Pics

Actually this is my finish picture. Man am I ever glad I lost those "last 10 pounds." Now I feel like I need to lose at least 10 more!

Thank goodness you can't see the clock on this one!

After the tri on Saturday, Don and I headed out to Lake Michigan. My daughter and her kids and my sister and two of her kids joined us. It was a gloriously beautiful day. One of our favorite spots is at Duck Lake State Park in North Muskegon. On one side of the road is Duck Lake, on the other is Lake Michigan. Take your pick--if the winds are out of the north, as they were that day, the Lake Michigan waters can be frigid, so you can head over to Duck Lake for a quick swim, but still enjoy the scenery of Lake Michigan.

Don headed right into the cold Lake Michigan waters for his legs, as he often does in any cold body of water. After biking 75 that day (to and from my race), he was looking forward to a swim in the icy lake. I say icy because anytime the winds shift out of the north, the water temps plummet. They had been at a high of 78 earlier in the week, practically bath water warm for the big lake! Today, probably closer to 70, if that. After the warm temps at Barlow Lake, where the tri was held, it was a little shocking to me even walking in. But you can't go to Lake Michigan without going in. That's the rule. With the short beach season we have, you don't want to waste a day at the beach just sunning yourself. Still, I was not willing to fully immerse myself that day. Brrr. We did go over to Duck Lake for a swim, however.

Sunday we repeated ourselves and headed for the lake again, this time to Grand Haven State Park, south of where we were the day before. The weather report had shown the water temps that morning, with Muskegon where we were Saturday at a high of 70 and Benton Harbor and South Haven to the far south at a chilly 53! Yikes! The water in Grand Haven was supposed to be around 70 as well, but my body told me otherwise when we finally got up the courage to dive in. OMG! It is not 70! I wished I had brought my wetsuit, but even then I doubt I could have lasted long. I couldn't catch my breath, and with the waves and cold, it got to be too much trying to get a swim in, so I headed back to my chair on the beach. Don went on a ways but quickly returned as well. So I wasn't surprised at all when they showed water temps on the nightly news as being 54! Yes, I can certainly tell the difference between 60 (at Lake Coeur D'Alene) and 54. Its a matter of breathing--or not. It was funny though that my body was not cold after getting out. From experience, I realized what had happened: once my body became exposed to the cold waters, the heat element immediately kicked in and warmed me. I'm not sure how long something like that lasts when you are stranded in cold water, but it works for short term anyway. It wasn't until later that the delayed cold set in and we decided it was time to pack up. A relaxing day, nonetheless. Water has that effect on me, and I suspect on many others. Just being near water and I relax. So I propose moving our office to the beach! Not sure if anyone would get any work done, but we'd all be so mellow! Imagine that for a group of lawyers!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

GREAT LAKES TRIATHLON--Saturday, July 22, 2006

Third tri of the season done. This one was a 1/2 mile swim, 18 mile bike, 4.5 mile run. I think I improved, I felt like I did anyway. And it was fun, so all in all, a good enough day.

The temps finally cooled off and it was at least 20 degrees cooler at the start than on Sunday. That in itself was a relief. But still no wetsuit swim. Water was 82 degrees. That was okay. I feel I am usually at an advantage when wetsuits aren't worn. Women 35 and over were in the second wave with the young men, 15-34, in the second. That was not appreciated, but it turned out pretty much okay. A few newbies on the scene today, although still from our local area, since this was a "local" race. Lots of familiar faces, and as one woman put it, "us crossover runners." Not that she had to worry. It was pretty much expected that she would win the age group.

I got to the race shortly after 6:30 am and already the main parking area was full, so they sent us to the overflow lot--about 3/4 of a mile away. This wouldn't have been so bad but they routed us through a wooded path to get to transition to avoid traffic on the road, and the path was pretty much beach sand, so pushing the bike and carrying all your stuff was pretty tedious. And once I got to transition, what a mess! There were absolutely no open spaces anywhere on any rack. At least a dozen or more people walked up and down the rows looking to squeeze in somewhere. And people were so ridiculous about all the room they took--there was probably room for 2 bikes between most of those spots. I finally just found a spot that looked not as crowded and asked the people to move some. I don't spread all my stuff out under my bike any more, having had my stuff trampled, kicked around, and even had bikes thrown on my stuff, so I wasn't asking for any more room than for my bike. I was up against the transition fence, which is what I like best anyway. That way I can put my little stool next to the fence with my transition bag on top and all the stuff I need in the bag. Easy enough to get stuff out. The only thing out is the shoes on the ground near the bike. I take up very little room.

I went to get my packet and body marked and one disappointment was they were out of bike jerseys that was the race shirt. Unlike last week where they pretty much promised everyone a shirt regardless of when they signed up, these people were now saying you had to sign up at least 2 months ago to be guaranteed a jersey. I doubt that was true, since I know many people do not sign up that soon, and they also did not post this on their website. So another t-shirt to add to the collection.

Ran into a couple of friends then, got some pictures, and found a few others. Found out that our local governor candidate Dick DeVos was again at the race--participating. I do like the guy and what he has to say, and he was just going about his business like everyone else. I think people were impressed that he was there, but no one really bothered him. He's an average triathlete. Kim, one of the tri people in our group is such a staunch opposite party fan that we tease her about it, especially since at the last race, they literally had a race for the finish. She was quite proud that she had beat him of course. And of course they were on the same bike rack, so we tease her that he is stalking her.

Go back to my bike to get my stuff organized some and there's this guy weaseling his way between the racks, propping his bike up against the fence, his bike touching mine, and in front of my stuff. I say to him, "you can't leave that there." "Why not, others are doing it." "Well you have to move it away from my space. This is my space where my stuff is and your bike is in the way." "Don't start bitching now." Okay, that's it. "Move your bike or its going to be on the ground!" He did move it, but I was afraid he was going to hit me. What a jerk. I hoped I didn't see him again the rest of the day. I also hoped I beat him.

Swim: It was time to head to the beach, so we all started herding off to the lake. I realized then it was quite a long transition area from the swim to the bike. As usual everyone was making nervous chatter. It was cloudy still, and that meant I would wear my old, clear goggles rather than the new, tinted ones I had gone out of my way the day before to buy, spending more than I should have. I just didn't get down to the water early enough to make sure they were fitted properly and didn't leak, so I just used the old ones. So wouldn't you know it, just before the swim start the sun pops out. Fortunately it was only for a few moments and then back behind the clouds again.

The second women's wave that I was in didn't seem too crowded. I found myself pretty much off to the left--buoys on the right this time--and only a few women there. I would just cut across, since I figured everyone else would be heading to the right also. So we're off and I was immediately in the front for once. I just stayed a little aggressive and kept my spot, but I did find myself unable to make that quick dart to the right as planned. It took a little more work but I finally got next to the buoys. I was always thinking of the young men coming up behind us, but the waves were 5 min. apart, giving me at least a chance to get to the second buoy before they started. The water was nice, warm, soothing. I love to swim in the open water. It is a treat. People pretty much were just making forward progress and not clogging things up or being rude, but then of course, its because its all women at this point! After I made the turn toward shore, it seemed like forever to get to the next buoy. I just kept plugging away, keeping steadily on course. There weren't any people immediately around me, so it came as a total shock when WHAM! Someone swims right over me! He whacks the back of my head so hard it gets pushed down in the water. I swear I have whiplash today! Jerk! I elbow him as hard as I can in that brief moment. I hoped I did some damage. I was angry and a little shaken but calmed myself quickly and kept on. Toward the end there was a woman swimming right next to my face, stroke for stroke. She seemed totally oblivious there was someone within reach of her stroke, as she just kept coming over and over. I pulled ahead and she would be back next to me again. She was pushing me off course, so I had to be stronger and get ahead. Finally, we parted ways and I was able to get to the shallow and stand and run out of the water. 18:14! Wow, must be a short course. Swim time after hitting the mat: 18:28.

T1: Man, what a long way to the bikes, but I ran the whole way. Fortunately this time I had no trouble spotting my stuff. Sit down, put the shoes on, helmet, sunglasses, grab my piece of gum and I'm off. Naturally, with everyone else in my group faster on transitions, even though I beat them all by at least a minute on the swim, they were out of transition at the same time. Oh well, they bike faster, so don't try to hang with them. Just get up to speed. I glanced at my watch as I headed out and it was about 3 min. and something, the usual for me. No results up yet, so I don't have accurate times.

Bike: 18 miles out into the countryside. Last week's course was described as "rolling to flat." I would describe today's course as rolling to hilly. And the first hill messed me up. My bike was acting up for shifting, and I was suddenly feeling very fatigued. I realized this was my second tri the same week! Man, what was I thinking, that I could do two in a week. But then I wasn't thinking that way. I was thinking Clark Lake was one week and Great Lakes was another. No. Sunday and Saturday are the same week. At about 3 miles, things started clicking finally but then 3 more people from the group passed by, and I knew then I didn't have to worry any more about being passed--at least by anyone I knew or that mattered. But I was starting to get over that initial fatigue and started picking up the pace some. I tried to pass one woman on the next hill, but she would not move from the center of the lane, and with all the course marshalls out there and the group of male bikers coming, I was forced to get back behind her. I was pretty irritated with her about that. She was deliberate in her moves and it made me mad I didn't have the power to pass her. I am not a strong biker and never have been. I'm sure its a combination of my bike and the engine, as they say. It seems that no matter how much I bike, I don't make huge progress in any one season. So I decided to just settle in and make this my race and not worry about the others out there. It was pretty much established from the start that last place in the age group was mine, and it was obvious there wasn't anyone out there willing to challenge me for that!

The hills were pretty much the whole way. I could see that it would be a hilly run too, so I was dreading that. One downhill I reached 38 mph coasting, so it was a challenge for me. Despite the hills and 5 miles longer than Clark Lake, my pace averaged at 15.5. I did the best I could, never backing off, so I was happy enough with that. During the last 3 miles I saw a group of other tri friends who had biked to the race to watch some. Have fun going back! Bike time: 109:xx. Compared to Sunday with my 48:xx for 13.25 miles, that averaged out to about 20 min. more for 5 more miles.

T2: Once again, no problem finding my stuff. Got on the shoes and remembered my race belt this time and grabbed my water bottle and headed out. No time for this and I didn't think to look at my watch.

Run: Whoops! Where's the run out? I was heading toward the bike out and there was no one there to tell me otherwise. Good thing I noticed. Turned and ran totally back the other way, down a path, and onto a wooded path. Gatorade sounded good (and for once it was cold!) so I grabbed some and went on, up another trail and onto the road. Again, no one there so I had no idea which way to turn. Fortunately a spectator pointed me in the right direction. We were heading around the other side of the lake and it was very pleasant. My legs weren't too bad, but as is usual for me, I wasn't sprinting. Just pick up the feet and put them down. Keep moving. For once I didn't feel like I had to walk. It was so deliciously cool yet! (Deliciously cool defined as: this cool wave of a breeze floating over you as you moved--that's my definition!) The lake was beautiful and it also had a calming effect. Just pick up the feet. Keep moving. Before I knew it the first mile marker was there and I hadn't even walked! Woo hoo! What an improvement. I did however at this point drink some of my own cold water and continued on--uphill again. Whew. After about another half mile, I did take a minute to get my breath back, as I could see the rest of the second mile was all uphill. Not steep, just steady. Yes, I remember this from the bike. All right, don't fall apart here. Your legs are fine, its not hot, water is cold. Just pace yourself. Mile 2 and more gatorade. Again cold. Just the cool temps and cold drinks alone kept my stomach in good shape. That's all it takes. And today I realized how much the heat does bother my stomach. Just before mile 3, I again felt momentary fatigue and took just a brief break and walked a little, calculating what my finishing time could be. I was thinking here I still had 2.5 miles to go and figured I could finish in 27 min. making a 2:30 finish. But then I was surprised to see the 3 mile mark right in front of me, so that made it all the better! From that point on, I did not stop. I actually passed one woman, and finished in 2:25. All the tri geeks were at the finish, and without knowing I was pretty sure I was the last of our group to finish. But I didn't care because I actually ran 99% of the way and felt good at the end and no death march or stomach queasiness.

Post-race: Yes, everyone was finished and I was surprised at how well everyone did. Pat took first in her age group, 55-59; Kim 2nd, 45-49. It was a fast bunch here today. Fastest swimmer: under 10 min. Fastest biker: 25mph. Fastest runner: 5:46 pace. Unbelievable. The woman in my age group that I now call the Stripper had been warned about stripping in transition. Who needs to change that much anyway? That's not the point with her. So she behaved but didn't waste one minute after to put on her bikini and strut around. Come on here, we're talking about a 52 year old woman. While she is in great shape, things just aren't as perky as they were 25 years ago! Its okay with your family or close friends, but its obvious for her that its exhibitionism.

Things learned: I need to get better on the bike. I need to get faster on transitions. Its better for me to have cooler temps. I did two tris in one week!

Friday, July 21, 2006


Monday begins the virtual "race" to Traverse City, Michigan, approximately 175 miles north of Grand Rapids. Traverse City is a jewel of a northern Michigan town right on Lake Michigan. I have been there many times. Usually the weather has not been terribly cooperative the times I have been there, but it is still a recreational haven nonetheless.

My office is sponsoring a wellness-type program to get people motivated to exercise. I do not need motivation most of the time, but I do like to have a goal to work toward. Makes the 6:30 am workouts worth something. So when this "race" event came up, I found myself for the first time getting excited about participating in something office related. Generally, I do not participate in any of their contests, because generally it means only certain people always win. Generally, too it has something to do with coming up with a witty slogan, or a theme, or a better way to do something. This time, however, it was actually something I could do and was interested in at the same time. The idea is to get people moving, and the virtual goal was to be Traverse City, since we have 4 offices within Michigan (, and all are approximately 175 miles away from TC. The grand prize? A hotel/spa package at Grand Traverse Resort. There are other lesser prizes of worth as well, and as I've said before, the prize isn't what I'm after. Its making the goal. Doing the 175 miles. And beating everyone else at it.

I figured then that the easiest way to meet this goal faster than anyone else was on the bike. So I have dubbed this adventure "July 2006 Bike Odyssey--Race to Traverse City."

So the plan then is to bike 25 miles a day for at least 3 days, take a day off (run or swim otherwise), and then bike 50 and still have the weekend to make up any extra I need. I want to be done with this no later than August 1, even though we have until September 5 to complete this. The only thing I worry about is getting people mad here, thinking I cheated. And I don't want to kill their enthusiasm either, so I may let the powers that be know but keep quiet otherwise to keep people motivated. I am afraid if I don't take immediate and aggressive action that someone may sneak by me, sort of like happens in my races, so this time I don't want to be caught off guard.

So Saturday will be the tri and Sunday will be take it easy and DO NOTHING!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


I am irritated about something I learned today. I found out today a woman in my age group who will be doing her second tri this Saturday should have been DQ'd from her first race in which she took third in the AG. Not that it would improve my standings any, but there was a 4th place person who could have taken home some hardware. What happened was she wore a 2-piece suit to swim in, no wetsuit, and then stripped and changed into bike shorts in transition. The rules say no nudity. Why didn't someone report her then?? She is the type who always gets away with things too. And she is also an exhibitionist, so even if she didn't know she wasn't supposed to strip, she would have just for the thrill effect. Now she has been talking to some other women about what she's going to wear for the tri this Saturday--2 piece suit, change to bike shorts for the bike, change to running shorts for the run. Apparently she is treating this as much like a fashion and skin show as a triathlon. And why would anyone want to change that many times for a sprint tri?? Its obvious--for the effect.

It will be interesting to see if she gets away with it again.

I took my bike back to the bike shop yesterday and at least have some hopeful news that they can fix it (broken front derailleur) without having to wait a week for a part. Thank goodness for one mechanic with some imagination. He at least was willing to take a chance that another brand would work, 99% sure. That's what I like, someone who can look beyond what is and figure out what might be. I guess that came from growing up with a dad who always found a way to fix something even if it meant using something different.

Next week the July 2006 Bike Odyssey begins, and I don't want to risk being without a bike or worrying if something will mess up, like the chain coming off. As it is, I will be without my car and will have to deal with a loaner that hopefully will be big enough to transport my bike. I also don't want to risk any major problem for the tri this weekend. I don't know this course and am not sure how hilly it is. I don't shift off the big chain ring that often anyway, but you never know when you might need to. Better than griding up any hills at 5 or 6 mph in a "sprint" distance tri. There are a couple of people in this race I will be thinking about the whole time, and hoping at least one will be behind me, but knowing it is more than likely she will go whizzing by on the bike. The others I would just like to stay reasonably close to, knowing my chances of beating them are slim to none. A flat here would help! (not mine of course)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Last night we had some pretty damaging thunderstorms, so the gym was crowded this morning with people who had no power. A couple of people I know do personal training (not regular Y people) were there. The one woman has even made her own videos and has been on local public TV from time to time with a weight training show. She was talking about no power, and then she says to me, "I see you once in a while. You are in really good shape. What types of workouts do you do?" I wasn't sure whether to be flattered at first or wary, thinking she might be trying to recruit me, but she seemed sincere so I talked with her. I'm not in that great of shape, but it was nice to be told that. Of course once you mention you do triathlons, they think you are Wonder Woman. No, not me. Not yet.
A couple of funny things from the tri on Sunday. One I've already mentioned, where the young woman asked if I needed help finding my bike. Another was when a young guy frantically was asking me (don't remember what I was doing, but I must have looked like I knew something) if I knew where T2 was. "What??" "T2. T2. Do you know where T2 is? I know where T1 is." "Yeah, its right where your bike is." "Oh, thanks!" It must have been his first tri. That's why you've got to love those sprints. Where else would someone dare to ask a question like that?

The other thing had to do with a woman in my age group who I know from doing tris. We have been competing with each other (not against) for the past several years. She does a lot more tris and other events than I do and always has. I think I remember her from my only running days, and I'm sure I used to beat her there every time. But getting into tris was another story. The bike is her thing, and I have yet to come close to her in any tri. BUT I do always outswim her. The first few tris we were in, she actually accused me of cheating and cutting the course.(??) I think if that had happened, someone would have noticed and I would have been disqualified. After she accused me of this a few times I finally just said, "No, I just swim faster than you do." So Sunday we are looking at results and while I saw her at the start of the swim, I never saw her again after that. She apparently passed me in transition, where I usually see her, but this time too many bikes. (When I finished, I actually had the stupid thought briefly that she was still behind me, since I didn't see her pass me.) I see from the results that once again I beat her on the swim, but of course her transition to bike was faster, as well as her bike and run. She says, "well you beat me on the swim again. You just swim faster." Glad that finally sunk in.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Clark Lake Triathlon, July 16, 2006—½ mile swim, 13 mile bike; 4 mile run.

This was a sprint tri, even though my name and the word sprint do not belong in the same sentence. The only other time I did this event was 6 years ago, when I was in a younger age group and before what seems like a whole lifetime of issues occurred.

As I said, my Olympic distance tri back in June did not go as I would have liked, so this was a way of somewhat redeeming myself in my own eyes anyway and seeing how my training has been going since then.

The weather was predicted to be hot—temperatures in the mid 90s with heat indexes in the low 100s. Perfect weather for a triathlon, don’t you think?? Beats the alternative, that being darkness, cold, snow, and ice. At least you get to swim and bike OUTSIDE. I have decided I will take the heat ANYTIME over winter, and Sunday would put that attitude to a test. The last time I did this race, it was pouring rain and probably in the 60s, so this would be a direct contrast.

I arrived at the race site about 1 hour and 15 min. ahead. I was stressing about this some, wanting to get there 2 hours in advance, but as it was, it was the perfect amount of time. I would have been standing around getting hotter by the minute otherwise. This year they were predicting 700+ athletes, which was probably 3 times more than the time I did it in the rain. But the event has grown, just as triathlon has grown.

I love these sprint distances because this is the heart of triathlon, this is where it begins. There are people of all ages, sizes, and abilities, with all types of equipment, just trying to get through the day, again a sharp contrast to the longer distance tris where it seems like only the age groupers are competing with each other. And since most of the tri group from this area fit into that category now it seems, they don’t have or take the time to compete in these “short” events. So I only saw one person there I knew, and only a few familiar faces overall.

This year they were giving out wind shirts as the race shirt, again a contrast to the XL red shirt with the race logo on it we got last time. (I haven’t seen that shirt since!) Naturally though the had run out by the time I arrived, but they did guarantee mailing everyone their shirt. That was a nice touch, considering they could have said no shirts after a certain date, and I had signed up pretty much at the last minute.

There were to be 5 swim waves, with my wave being No. 4, and a men’s wave behind. I wasn’t particularly happy with this, but it turned out okay.

The lake water was 82 degrees, so of course, no wetsuits. For ½ mile swim, I don’t mind anyway. You could wear a wetsuit if you weren’t competing for age group awards, but even though I knew I would not come close to an award, I couldn’t face the thought of putting that thing on in the heat. Only 2 people opted to wear them.

My warmup swim told me I was going to have some trouble with sighting on the way back because of the sun—I have started wearing clear goggles because I can see so much better, but they really are not ideal when the sun is in your eyes. Maybe some yellow ones to help with the glare??

Swim: While I was concerned with a men’s group following my older women’s group, it wasn’t much of a factor, for me at least. I started toward the back of my group and pretty much just waded out until it got deep enough to swim once we started. I figured this way I could weed out the breaststrokers and avoid body contact with the sprinters. As it was, I was pretty much last to start, but once I got going, the swim was pretty uneventful. I just kept my eyes on the orange buoys—I had counted them ahead of time, so it was easy to pick them off. I pretty much swam a straight line to the one at the turn, and only had to get out of two congested spots up to that point. Everyone seemed very well mannered for a change! Once I got to the turn, however, the first males started catching us—each wave started 4 min. apart. I held my ground on the turn but then WHAM! the sun was fully in my eyes and I was blinded momentarily. A guy came swimming by me and crossed over, so I decided to use him as my guide to the turn buoy. That worked pretty well, and I avoided most body contact as well. Turning again, however, I was still partially blinded so it took a moment or two to make sure I was on course for the next buoy and the swim to the finish. I could see the shore so just headed pretty straight on course. There were a couple of spots on the way back where there were massive clumps of seaweed, either floating or still attached, and this actually made it difficult to see a couple of times. Ick. I’m not that bothered by the stuff usually, but this was exceptionally thick. And I usually swim in as far as possible before wading the rest of the way, but this time it seemed like it got shallow really fast, so the wade was longer than I would have liked, especially with all the rocks near shore. Ouch! Swim time: 20:48.

T1: I actually ran to my bike, almost a first for me. I wasn’t tired. My legs felt fine. I got passed on the way to transition to be sure, but at least I was moving. As expected, most bikes were gone, so it was very easy for me to find my stuff. I bring a little camp stool to sit on to take off the wetsuit, but it also comes in handy for putting shoes on. And I put all my stuff in a backpack and set it on the stool, so everything stays pretty much untrampled by others. I was sitting there putting on my shoes (not bothering to dry off my feet—as long as the socks go on, who cares?) and a girl says, “Do you need help?” I say, “With what??” “Finding your bike?” Uh, duh, its right next to me! “No, its right here, but thanks!” She must be in a relay or something because she was lying on the ground “resting.” T1 time: 3:42 (I’m actually getting faster by minutes with these things!).

Bike: I head out of transition where you go through a gate and the mats and then mount the bike and immediately head uphill. I had a problem with my bike earlier in the week (broken derailleur), so was forced to stay in one chain ring the entire ride. I opted for the big ring, knowing it would give me more power on the flats and downhills, but also knew I would have to be strong on the uphills. I had my back gears, so would work with those. I had no idea what to expect of the course since it was changed from the last time. The description said “rolling to flat” and the announcer was saying as I was heading out “flat and fast.” Short was all I cared about. Its always amazing to me how adrenaline really pumps you up on these things. I was not feeling any rush or anything, just steady and strong pedaling. I feel better when I am working within my heart rate zone, and found myself there most of the bike course. Only one hill raised the heart rate, and that was basically my fault for getting caught on an uphill without being ready—gawking at someone I wasn’t sure had crashed or had a flat. I don’t remember passing only maybe 3 people, all on mountain bikes, and not in my age group. And after 2 or 3 miles was steadily getting passed by the men in wave 5, but all were calling out “Good job” “keep it up.” Was I that slow or did I look like I was struggling? I felt fine. I felt good in fact. My computer has been off since my last race (no one can seem to calibrate it correctly), but I am getting used to it and know it is 6 mph off. I was keeping a steady 16-20 mph pace, so that was good. I wasn’t sure on my time, however, because rolling the bike from the car to transition got the timer going and I hadn’t restarted it. I was hoping for 50 min., but toward the end saw it creep past 51 min. Oh well, I was doing the best I could. I was surprised then when I checked results on my final bike time: 48:51, 16.0 average.

T2: Okay, who took my stuff?? While I had counted bike racks from the swim and realized I was immediately in front of the announcers’ stand, I had not figured out where I was from the bike dismount. Someone had earlier put a big dollop of baby powder on the grass near my rack, but that had long since worn off. So there I was, running back and forth, looking for my bag and stool. I found a bag exactly like mine, but of course, not my stuff. I was starting to swear because I was sure someone had moved my stuff! :) One young guy, obviously done already, asked what my stuff looked like—just like that bag there, but its not mine! I finally decided to rack the bike and walked around looking for my stuff. So I was completely caught off guard by the fact I was in the right row, opposite side of my stuff, one-half rack away. Jeez, how lucky can I get, and how dumb can I be?? Get the shoes on, grab my water bottle, and start to head out. No race belt/number. Great. I questioned the volunteers: “Do I need my number?” "No" was the answer I wanted to hear, just so I didn’t have to run all the way back to the bike. (I never did find the race belt until today!) Total: 3:12. Seemed more like 5 min.

Run: I checked my watch as I headed over the mats and realized later the winning woman in my age group finished 2 min. after I started my run. I’ll never be that fast! It was hot, and I wanted to pace myself. My legs actually felt good, not heavy, and I wasn’t breathing hard. Unlike a woman coming up behind me whom I thought might keel over and fall on me any minute. She was right on my shoulder gasping for the first 5 min. I finally gave in and stopped to walk to get rid of her. I wanted to keep my breathing easy, so decided on a run walk—run until I was breathing hard, walk for a minute but not more. That worked most of the way, but it seemed like forever before the first mile marker. The heavy breather did not die and somehow managed to pull ahead and keep going. I hoped I didn’t see her lying along the road later. But walking always means you will get passed. I decided not to worry about this too much until I saw a women in my age group walking the whole way it turned out. I was not going to let her beat me. (As it was, she was in the du!) Mile 2 seemed to come faster, and before I knew it I was at mile 3. While they had run out of water and cups at the second water stop, the second part of the race goes through the neighborhood along the lake, so many people had their hoses out and offered water on their own. Very nice, especially on such a hot day. Since I always seem to have a problem with stomach issues, this was another reason for me to be careful about keeping myself within my ability to avoid this, and until shortly after mile 3, this worked. Then for some reason, the stomach distress started. I was feeling a little sick. Oh great, its getting hotter too, or at least I am. My frozen water bottle was now getting warm, and nothing bothers me more than warm water during an event. That was most likely part of the stomach issue. But I was still running and walking on a regular schedule, just not feeling as good as I had earlier. I was trying to not walk as much into the last mile, but just gave in to it once too many times, because a women in my age group finally passed me just before 4 miles (wasn’t this run supposed to be 4 miles??) while I was walking. I saw the age on her calf and dug into myself to start running again. My legs felt fine then—it was my stomach. I almost wished now that I had taken advantage of the beer the last water stop had offered to anyone old enough to drink. If my stomach had felt better, I would have! Sounds crazy, but one of our races here has an “unofficial (of course)” beer stop and having taken a glass a few times has made a huge difference at least for the next half hour or so. I actually thought I would pass her, but then I could start feeling the legs just deadening and although I stayed close, she stayed ahead to the finish. We finished 6 seconds apart. Six seconds. Could I have made it up? Obviously I didn’t. (I was thinking there were women behind me in my age group, but as I found out later, they were in the du.) Lesson learned: don’t assume anything again; if someone is in your age group, kill yourself to beat them! Total run: 49:53.

Total race time: 2:06:24. Since I don’t know what I did 6 years ago, and conditions and course were totally different, I was happy enough, other than letting the woman pass me at the end. I had no idea what to expect. My swim was about what I expected, my bike was better, and my run was just a little slower than I would have liked. Transitions were okay—T1 is improving immensely and part of that is either due to actually being more organized and calm or not having to get my old straightjacket of a wetsuit off.

So, last in the age group, but not last overall. That in itself is an improvement!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Uh Oh.

This is what I get for being impulsive. I am not impulsive by nature and whenever I am, it always comes back to haunt me. I can't think of one time when I did something impulsive that things worked out. So here goes again. The bike problem I mentioned from this morning is a problem: broken derailleur. Choices: don't do the race or ride with it broken.

Riding with it broken lends itself to a few other problems, namely, if the pedals freeze even when not shifting, or the chain drops into the small chain ring, it will leave me with no power.

The problem in getting it fixed is all the bike shops are backed up with days of work. Everyone I know who might be able to help either in loaning me a bike that would fit or might be able to do a quick fix is at Muncie. So my only alternative is to ride it this way and be powered down. I can get it fixed in time for next week's tri, but this impulsive decision to do a tri this weekend is going to be a payback for not planning things out better.

I had really wanted to do this race, and had really intended to sign up in advance. But as is usual for me, I don't sign up until the last minute because I don't want to do anything, well, impulsive.

For me, even making an impulsive decision is a back and forth thing, so really it wasn't without some contemplation as to the pros and cons. Just not enough knowledge of bike repairs to realize this morning I had a problem led me to this dilemma.

So with no further excuses, I will do the race and with any luck or miracle will do okay. Its just a training race anyway so, while I hate spending the time and money on a race that basically doesn't or won't in this case count for anything, I still need the experience. I have at least 3 more races after this and do want those to go okay.

And then that leads me back to some thoughts this morning of whether I really do need a new bike, a bike fit, or just need to train more. I never seem to know which way to go on this. I don't have the funds to just run out and get a bike, whether on sale or otherwise. And I take so long to make a decision on what I want that if any deals came along, they would pass me by before I acted. Its not that I am an indecisive person. I am a fact finder, an information gatherer, but not a fast decision maker. When I make a decision, all the pros and cons have been worked out. If I don't have time to go through that process, I won't make a decision until I do. And if I do make an impulsive decision, I usually come to regret it later. Its my nature. I can't totally change who I am. The best thing for me to do is not let myself get into these situations.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
– Aristotle

MORNING RIDE--Its Always Something.
(actual picture of White Pine Trail that we ride on.)

I have gotten to love the early morning rides, but its one of those things that unless you are 100% organized the night before, you are cutting yourself short. Trying to get to the park and on the road by 6:30 am or sooner shouldn't be that hard, but something always seems to happen to delay getting rolling.

Today I was actually making good time and got to the park before 6:30. Normally there is no one around other than the few zoo workers starting to straggle in, a striking contrast to Saturdays when the weekend warriors descend upon the park to meet up for rides or runs. There was only one old man out looking around at the duck pond. I tried not to make eye contact to avoid striking up any conversation. Not enough time for that! Got my bike out, chain is off. Quickly fix that with a turn of the pedals. Good. Get the water bottle, cell phone, and shoes. Put on the helmet. Too loose. What, did my head shrink or something?? Adjust that. Get that on and the old man comes walking over. Not now, please, I think. "Good morning, nice time to ride. Its supposed to rain later." "Yes, that's why I'm going now." "Where you riding?" "On the other side of the river to the boat launch and back and then some." "How far is that?" "Uh, I'm not sure (reminded now that my bike computer still does not work--crap!)." "Don't you have a computer on that thing?" "Uh yeah, but its not working right." Okay, goobye.

Off I go and then realize I am in the middle chain ring. Try to shift to the big ring and it won't go. Didn't I just go through this a few weeks back?? Okay, try again. This time, not only did it not go, the pedals "froze"--wouldn't turn. Okay, fix that before you crash dummy. Try again, same thing. Okay, let's just go a little farther and maybe it will work itself out. Get to the pedestrian bridge over the river and out of nowhere 3 squirrels scramble in front of me. They always run in packs it seems. Back and forth they scurry, trying to get out of my way, while I am trying not to run over one of them and crash. Stupid things. Just jump off the bridge or something!

Get to the other side of the river and try to shift again. Again, pedals freeze. Great. I can't afford a crash out here in the middle of nowhere, so stay in the middle ring. At least it is manageable. Then I start hearing a scraping. Scrape, scrape, scrape. Hmm, it is obviously the derailleur, so maybe I can "bend" it a little. Well the problem wasn't the chain as I thought but the pedal scraping the derailleur. I can't mess with that so will have to keep going. That may be why it wouldn't shift.

Added to all these problems is the fact that my bike computer STILL doesn't work. I had it looked at and calibrated at the last race. It wasn't right then so took it into the bike shop last weekend. "Oh its all set, back to zero, blah blah blah." Apparently they were more interested in selling me a bike fit than making sure my computer worked because it is still about 6mph off on speed, and the distance is all off. I can't really figure that out at all. Its nice to see my speeds averaging 21-23 mph on a regular ride, but I'm smart enough to know that even on my best day, going downhill with a tailwind, I would not be averaging 21-23 mph.

Then toward the end of the ride, I see what looks like a puddle to the side of the road. I am trying to figure out where this came from when I notice in front of me GLASS everywhere. Too late, I have to ride through it. The "puddle" turned out to be a huge pile of broken glass, probably from a car window or something. I had better not get a flat tire because of this, so close to the end of the ride too. And then, with a short term memory lapse, road through the stuff again on the way back. Jeez.

So I'm glad I get this stuff figured out today since I am planning on a tri (Clark Lake) this weekend. I have wanted to do this for the past several years, and with one thing or another have not been able to. With everyone else at Muncie this weekend, I decided on the spur of the moment to sign up, quickly before they filled. More on the race later. I will now need to get the bike into the shop tonight and get this stuff looked at or at the latest tomorrow morning. I can deal with the computer being off if I have to, but I would rather not have a chain problem and not be able to shift. And I had better not have any glass stuck in my tires either!

OBSESSION--Grand Rapids to Traverse City or Bust!

I said I didn't want to get obsessed about my workouts anymore, but here I go again! This work contest has gotten me going. I want to win this thing in the worst way. Not necessarily for the prize, although that would be a sweet reward, but just to do it. To have a goal that I know I can do and do it faster than anyone else. I want to win to win. Don't they say the ideal job is one you would do for free? That's the way I feel about this contest. I would do it just to win and not for the prize. I want to do it to put me over the edge on my training too.

I am not talking about taking 8 weeks or whatever to accomplish this thing. That would be unquestionably easy. I am talking about getting 175 miles done in 2 weeks or less. That's where the obsession is coming from. How can I get 175 miles covered in 8-10 days? The best way I know how is on the bike.

Right now I am calculating and recalculating the best way to accomplish this--how many miles can I cover in one day without doing myself in? It will be short term, so I should be able to stick it out without too many modifications. But I need a Plan B for weather detours. So stay tuned for THE CONTEST and the PLAN TO WIN starting July 24.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Here's the e-mail that came through the office today:

Lets for for a walk.
Or maybe a run, swim, or bike ride to the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa! No, the Summer heat hasn't gotten to me (yet). This is just our WINning Wellness way to get you moving. Yes, dancing counts also.

It's a virtual race and the finish line is the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa! (

Here is how it will work . . .
Enter the Race. Contact Audrey Pimpleton if you are not a partner and would like to enter the race.
Keep Track. Start keeping track of all your activities like exercising, walking, running, swimming, gardening, mopping, vacuuming, etc. Yes, just about everything counts. You'll even be provided with an activity log to help you keep track.
Convert. Most all moderate to heavy activities can be converted into steps which are then converted into miles. A conversion chart will be provided in the race packet.
Report. Each week participants must report their total steps for the week to Audrey who will be monitoring the race.
Winners! The first person to reach the destination (or gets the closest) in the allotted amount of time wins the first place prize!
1st Place - $300 gift card to Grand Traverse Resort & Spa
2nd Place - $100 gift card to Dunham's Sporting Goods
3rd Place - $50 gift card to Dunham's Sporting Goods

Grand Traverse Resort & Spa is an average of 175 miles from all of the offices. The first person to accumulate 175 miles of "activity" reaches the destination and wins the race.

Deadline to enter the race: Friday, July 21, 2006
Start of race: Monday, July 22, 2006
End of race: Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Now here at last is something I can do and might be able to win in this office. There are some high mileage runners/bikers here, so it will be a goal I have to go over and above my usual workouts to achieve, but I think I can do it!

On top of the list--that includes only having to shower/do hair/makeup once a day, not having that morning drive, having it out of the way and not have to anticipate or worry about fitting a workout in later in the day--is, in the summer, heat and humidity. Today I rearranged my morning schedule even knowing I would have to fit some sort of workout in later. I hoped to bike, but chances of that started fading late morning, so the thought of a short run at lunch time started going through my mind more and more until I decided just to do it. It wasn't quite noon, my boss wasn't here yet (as is usual lately--but he had called and said he would be in after lunch), and, even though I had plenty of work to do, I was getting distracted by this and that until I finally made the decision to go. I did check the temperature and saw that it was 83. Now that's at least 10 degrees warmer than I would have liked, but it was a beautiful, cloudless blue sky out there awaiting.

It started out okay, but after about 15 min. I could feel my heart pounding far harder than I felt was normal. I was consoled only by the fact that there were numerous people around in the event of a heart attack! The humidity didn't seem too bad, but it was hot, no doubt. It felt hotter than 83. Reminded me of the days in Coeur D'Alene when it was so hot. I was thinking of going 20 min. out and turning back, but actually my route along the river ended thankfully at 19 min. so it seemed an opportune time to turn back. When you aren't used to running in the sunshine or heat, it does make a difference on your body. Not only does it make your heart work harder to try to cool you off, but for me the inevitable stomach cramps always hit as well. I want to try to overcome this, but its not like I know any way to totally prevent the stomach distress. It has always plagued me, so its not something new.

I was more than glad to turn back and get done and cool off again, although it was quite a while before I stopped sweating. I guess that's always a good time to stretch and take in more water.

Some of my joy of running is returning slowly, thanks to the ChiRunning I have taken the time to work on. While I haven't made huge progress in mileage, I feel I have made huge progress in other areas associated with my running. Aches and pains are minimal to non-existent. Flexibility is better. Stamina is increasing. Mental state is improving. Enjoyment is coming back as my fears of injury subside. When I think back to my early years of running, it was such great fun to push myself beyond limits I never knew before, compete in races and actually get age group awards, meet new people, go places, etc. It was like I had been so sheltered before that! And I had denied myself enjoyment in my daily life up to that time. I worked hard, took care of my family, and there was no nonsense or fun. Then I started running, and a whole new world opened up out there. For nine years I ran most days at lunch time. This caused me no end of stress, both physically and mentally, with my family and my job. I became obsessed, so I blame that on myself, not on running. I believe the cumulation of years of stress led to all the injuries I suffered for the next several years. And injury led to lack of enjoyment with the sport.

I would like to get some of that back--a reasonable amount. I don't think I have to worry about becoming obsessed to the point I was before, but a little obsession probably would do me some good!

So I will keep working on it, doing these hot runs at least occasionally, if not for "enjoyment" then for conditioning. If I can just keep the legs moving, I will keep trying.